Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Choosing a deodorant for a pre-teen (review)

When I first started writing this blog all the way back in 2009, Juliette was a mere 4 years old. How much she's changed ! Now she's on the cusp of her teenage years and is starting to think about beauty and grooming products, including nail varnish and make up. She got a free mascara on a magazine that I bought for her and had a go with it but I think she got more on her eyelids than her lashes ! While the makeup can wait for a while, we have recently been looking around for a deodorant or body spray that appeals to her, to keep her smelling fresh as a daisy after PE or running around outside. (Why do teens suddenly get so pongy ?!)

Starting off with a brand that I regularly use myself, we tried Sure Cotton Dry compressed spray (RRP £3.29). The smaller size is ideal for popping in her school bag but it contains just as much product as the regular non-compressed version. If you're still unconvinced about this aspect, make sure you head over to my Sure Regular vs Compressed test from last summer where I used both simultaneously to see if size really does matter (and discovered that it doesn't, at least in terms of deodorant !). The motionsense technology features microcapsules that break due to the friction caused by movement to release extra freshness when you need it most. You may remember, Sophie put this to the test when she did her reverse bungee jump ! Juliette liked the refreshing coolness of the spray and the fragrance.

Next, she tried Sure Maximum Protection Confidence (RRP £4.90), which comes out as a cream. As the name suggests, Confidence promises to protect you against sweat and odour so you can start each day feeling confident and it certainly lived up to its name. I love the fact that you can apply this before bed and it will keep you fresh all through the next day, something that is particularly useful in the summer when nights are hot and your deodorant often stops working by the end of the day. I love the moisturising sensation of the cream and the fact that it is gentle and doesn't sting after shaving, but Juliette didn't like the wet feel of a cream deodorant. (Which is great news for me because I got to keep it !)

Impulse was a brand that I always used to love when I was a teenager so I was keen to see what she'd think of  the Why Not? Charlie XCX fragrance (£1.99). Before she'd even pulled off the cap, she loved the sassy name, the bright yellow colour and the lipstick kisses on the can. This limited edition scent features zesty, citrus notes of bergamot, frozen lemon and bitter orange, so it is light, fruity and perfect for the summer season, or for teens and tweens who want a zingy "happy" fragrance.

She also got to try another Impulse fragrance called True Love (£1.99), a name which instantly appealed to her. This one contains notes of freesia and tangerine, for a fresh, floral, feminine scent that again got a thumbs up from Juliette. The Impulse sprays both made her feel all grown up, like she was wearing perfume rather than just deodorant.

Have you got a teen or tween-aged daughter and if so, what deodorants does she like using? I get the feeling that Juliette is going to be a body spray junkie and want to try out as many new fragrances as she can find !

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Baylis & Harding His & Hers Camper Van Wash Bags (review)

I've been reviewing lots of Baylis & Harding's goodies lately - you may remember my recent blogposts about their lovely scented candles and their Mum To Bee range - so I knew they had some lovely items on offer, but I must admit, I was still totally blown away when I laid eyes on their latest offering : matching his & hers Campervan Washbags. (I'm sure there's something clever to be done with VW and Van Washbags if you think about it hard enough, but they're not actually VW branded so I'll keep those thoughts to myself !)

The bags themselves look incredibly cute and funky but what's inside is very appealing too. In the pink bag, aimed at the ladies, you get 50ml Coconut & Lime Body Lotion, 100ml Strawberry & Pomegranate Shower Crème, 100ml Pink Grapefruit & 50ml Raspberry Shower Crème and Mango & Mandarin Body Butter. I always love zingy citrus flavours and fresh fruity scents so these all really appeal to me.

In the blue corner, we have the men's version, featuring 50ml Aftershave Balm, 100ml Hair & Body Wash, 50ml Shower Gel and 100ml Face Wash, which all smell rather yummy with a Citrus Lime & Mint fragrance too.

Both washbags are as fun as they are functional but it's not all about the novelty bag because the products inside are lovely too. They would be ideal for festival-goers, summer travellers or camper van fans of any age. Sophie has had a thing about campervans ever since One Direction featured one in one of their videos, so I'm sure she'll have her eyes on both of the bags once they're empty. The men's one would be great as a father's day present too.

Both of the camper van bags are available at Tesco's and cost £20 each.

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

Bringing the beach inside with Yellow Moon ! (review)

It's always a source of great excitement when we receive a new package of crafting supplies from Yellow Moon. I'm still astounded, every single time, that they manage to find activities that appeal to all three Madhouse kids, despite their difference in age (they're 6, 11 and 14). Hats off to the guys who pick our selection and it just goes to show what a wide range of products they have on offer.

The first item that they wanted to get their creative mitts on was this collection of tubs of coloured sand (£9.99 for a set of 6). I had visions of this ending up all over the floor and never coming out of the carpet but it actually hoovers up really easily - phew !

In our box of goodies, we had a pack of plastic teddy bear sand art bottles (£2.99 for 5) to fill  - they are also available in other shapes, including owls, cupcakes, butterflies, sealife and sandcastles. They come with a little funnel and you can go for all one colour, horizontal lines or funky diagonal stripes, which the Madhouse kids favoured, by holding the bottle on a slant when you fill it up. The kids also went rummaging in the kitchen and found a couple of little bottles with stoppers that they used too.

Kids of all ages and even grown ups would enjoy getting involved in this activity so it would be great for a kids' party or family get-together when you want to keep the kids entertained. It's not even messy if you give everyone a plastic tub to catch the excess sand.

While the sand was out, they also wanted to have a go with the beach-themed sand art pictures (£2.99 for 8 - also available in other themes). Using your finger or a pair of tweezers, just peel off each section of backing paper then pour sand over the adhesive section underneath. It's impossible to go over the edges so even very young children can get a very neat finished product.

By pouring the excess off into the aforementioned ice cream tubs, you end up with a multicoloured blend of sand which the Madhouse kids used as a background colour to make their designs really stand out. I was surprised at how well the sand stayed stuck to the pictures, but you could spray the finished picture with hairspray to be extra sure, or you could also use glitter too.

Pierre and Juliette always love the sewing kits and they even manage to thread the big plastic needles and tie the knots on their own now so they both excitedly grabbed the Dog Sewing Kits (£3.99 for 2).

As it is just the outer edge that needs sewing, with the remaining features stuck on (just peel off the backing paper and press on to the felt), these can be made in minutes and they look very cute. Pierre has been taking his to bed with him, after using it as a ball and playing catch with it all afternoon first !

Also in our box of goodies, we had Pattern Rubbing Plates (4 for £3.99) and some Crayola wax crayons (£1.75 for 24) - Juliette also wants to use the rubbing plates with her fimo/playdough to create funky patterns.

There is a big bag of Cat Foam Stickers (£2.99 for 120) which we have yet to use and some pull-back racing snails (£2.49 for 4) which Pierre thought were hilarious when he kept making them scoot under the table while we were having dinner !

The final item was the little tubes of bubbles (£2.49 for 8) which are actually very clever because they are special touchable bubbles. Pierre and Juliette felt like magicians when they kept holding bubbles on their fingers !

As always, we've been having oodles of fun and I've been very impressed at the low prices. With the long summer holidays in the not too distant future, it's always great to stock up on craft kits to keep the kids entertained, so I strongly recommend you go and check out what's on offer. They even have big value craft bundles if you want to buy in bulk.

for more information : http://www.yellowmoon.org.uk/

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Madhouse recipe : Creamy Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Somehow, I ended up with two and half cucumbers in the fridge so I needed to come up with a recipe to use some up. This is basically a twist on raita but as I didn't have any Greek yogurt in the fridge, I tried it with liquid crème fraîche and it worked fine. It's a lovely refreshing accompaniment to barbecued meat or could be made into a complete meal with a hunk of crusty bread for a light lunch.

Creamy Cucumber & Tomato Salad

ingredients :

3/4 of a cucumber
2 tomatoes
about 10cl of liquid crème fraîche
a sprinkle of salt
1tsp dried mint
1tsp dried rose petals (optional)
a handful of flaked almonds

Finely slice the cucumber and tomatoes and put them in a large bowl. Pour on the crème fraîche and add the mint and give it all a good stir. Season lightly with salt to taste. Scatter flaked almonds and rose petals on top for extra crunch and prettiness.

Adding to this month's #KitchenClearout linky because it got rid of my glut of cucumbers !

Getting our dancing shoes on with Persil !

There was much excitement recently when an intriguing green rucksack arrived from Persil with personalised badges for Pierre and Juliette. They couldn't wait to see what was hiding inside.

After unpacking everything, we discovered a T-shirt for Juliette, some tracksuit bottoms for Pierre, some plimsolls and a water bottle each and a pack of Persil Mono Capsules for me.

Persil have teamed up with child breakdancer B Girl Terra to encourage kids to try out her favourite breakdancing move, the knee spin.

You can check out her amazing talent here, in this Persil ad which is part of their 'Dirt Is Good' campaign.

The Madhouse kids were up for the challenge so they quickly got changed into their dance gear and filled up their water bottles.

There was lots of spinning round on their backs with their legs in the air laughing their heads off ...

Followed by some arty poses ...

Some climbing up the walls ...

Some rather clever shadowing ...

And a whole lot of clowning around that had us all in fits of giggles.

I wholeheartedly adhere to the 'Dirt Is Good' message and actively encourage the Madhouse kids to get outside in all weathers, geocaching, riding their bikes, splashing in puddles or rolling down grassy banks, as well as partaking in messy play and crafting indoors. I'd never realised how much fun they'd have dancing though, so we'll definitely have to have another "breakdancing" session in the near future because it was hilarious. They got very sweaty though so the Persil came in very handy !

For more ideas for keeping the kids entertained, head over to www.persil.co.uk/activities-for-kids/

Disclosure ; We received a dance kit and some Mono Capsules from Persil.

Madhouse diaries : Dunkirk steps back into wartime (courtesy of Christopher Nolan)

Earlier in the week, I gave you a glimpse into the changes that are going on in Dunkerque in preparation for Christopher Nolan's Hollywood remake of Operation Dynamo and the evacuation of Dunkirk. (Dunkerque is the French version of Dunkirk, in case you were confused !) Filming starts tomorrow and the sector that they are filming in will be off limits so I wanted to head back and see what they've been up to.  All that sand that had been delivered along the prom has been made into sandbags which instantly gives it a wartime look.

They've still got a long way to go though - I wonder how many people are on sandbag duty to get through this lot (and there's even more along the seafront !).

It all feels a little bit spooky and I kept expecting to hear gunshots or soldiers yelling !

They've started bringing in old-fashioned military vehicles too, which adds to the atmosphere.

Behind-the-scenes workers are still busy carrying out the final finishing touches, such as painting the streetlamps to make them look old (or blacked out? Not sure if they had a blackout in France like they did in England but it would make sense.)

This guy may look like he's cleaning the shutters but he's actually making them dirty, rubbing grease all over them !

 I'm not sure that this car (which takes part in the regular wartime rallies to commemorate Operation Dynamo - you may remember me showing you pictures of the War and Peace commemoration last year where it was one of many vintage vehicles) was anything to do with the film set, but it had wartime music blaring out of the loudspeaker which added even more authenticity.

La Voix De Son Maître, otherwise known as His Master's Voice. Some things never go out of fashion !

 Moving back down to the seafront, you can see how flimsy the set is, which actually makes it all the more impressive.

From the front, it does look very realistic though - it's hard to remember how the concert/exhibition hall usually looks after seeing it transformed into a 1940's factory for several weeks already ! 

The beach has had lots of interesting bundles of props delivered.

These would appear to be ammo boxes.

 With and without handles.

Some things are still under wraps (I wonder if that's where the expression comes from) but I think this looks like a miltary vehicle. Maybe burnt/bombed out because none of the others are covered over.

A bit further along was another military truck and, behind it, a 1940's style kitchen dresser, complete with stainless steel kitchenware (so I'm guessing there will be some inside scenes too). Given the number of water jugs, this may be for a cafe/restaurant scene.

 We were buying couque suisses (pastries) from a popular seafront vendor last week while the set was being put up. Well, this is how it looks now. Totally unrecognisable !

 Again, it's all in the details, like the little net curtains, the old-fashioned lights and the smashed window.

 When you watch films on TV or at the cinema, you just don't realise the hours of work that go into getting the sets ready. This woman was rubbing down the noticeboards with a scrubbing brush and a block of something black.

It was painstakingly slow work and she still had this one to do afterwards.

Even the bottles in the wooden crates have been covered with dust.

 It looks like they'll just be rolling down wooden blinds to hide the other cafes and restaurants slightly further along that won't really be in shot.

I'm not sure if this is part of the set or just a dumping zone for more sand !

I can't work out what these are - stretchers maybe?

It's all getting quite exciting now - I'll be at work during the actual filming but it's not far from the set so I think we'll hear the sirens warning the locals not to panic because the explosions and gunfire is about to start.

 The landing jetty at the far end of the beach that the evacuation happened from is now ready and restored to how it was during the war. (You can see how it used to be here, before the film crew moved in.)

The next step will be the arrival of all the Little Ships - they come back every year to commemorate the part they played in the war but it will be great for them to feature in the film. (I blogged about their visit last year here and shared some of the poignant memories that the boat owners and veterans' families shared.) Some warships have already arrived in port so I'm hoping to go and look at those this afternoon. I'm not sure if Le Cormoran is here for the film or not though.