Friday, 21 September 2018

Giveaway #695 : Win Drumond Park's Foxy Pants game - closing date 6/10

Where is the time going lately? We've been back to school for three weeks now and I'm pretty sure the evenings are starting to draw in too. Rather than going outside and playing with their bikes and footballs, the Madhouse kids are more interested in diving under their quilts and logging on to their computers. Well, I had something to do about that ... I've been trying out various new games with them lately, starting with Foxy Pants from Drumond Park (age 4+, rrp £22.99, for 2-4 players).

Getting the game set up only takes a few minutes. You just need to stick a few stickers on the fox - his eyes and the pictures that go on his underpants - and you're good to go. Pierre decided that he wanted to give him googly eyes, but that's not an obligation !

To get started, it couldn't be simpler. You just lift Foxy’s arms up, turn him upside down and pull the string which will release his trousers. Pull them up around his waist and push his arms back down, then place him in the middle of the playing area. Put the chickens together next to him and give each player a Chicken Coop. Now the fun begins!

After the competition for the best chicken noise to see who goes first (I swear I'm not making this up !), play can begin. Roll the dice to see how many chickens you must put in the pants, then press Foxy’s head once (until you hear a clicking sound) and if nothing happens, play passes to the next player. 

But watch out! Foxy is a sneaky, greedy kind of guy, and when his pants get full, they might just fall down! When they do - and believe us, it all happens in an instant ! - all players must quickly grab as many chickens as they can, one by one and with one hand only, and place them safely in their chicken coop. Each coop has 5 spaces and the first player to fill all the spaces in their chicken coop is the winner.

It's a great game to play because it only takes seconds to set up before play can begin. The action is very fast and all players are involved the whole time - there's no boring waiting around for your turn to get involved.

For more information and stockists visit

The social media team at Drumond Park Games would love to hear about what your children get up to when they’re playing this fab game – send pictures, too! Just get in touch on Facebook or Twitter and catch up on all the news on their crazy blog.

In the meantime, I have one copy of the Foxy Pants game to give away. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : /10/18

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Book review : Petals and Stones - Joanne Burn

Having lost both her parents back in her student days, Uma has settled into married life with her husband Daniel. Just one page into the book, she receives an accidental text message to her husband from a woman. His woman on the side. In shock, Uma talks to him on the phone and he declares they will talk when he gets home. She mentally prepares herself for this shattering of her hopes and dreams, only to be interrupted by a policeman : Danny has had a fatal accident on the way home and they will never have the much-needed conversation.

The story then jumps back and forth, showing us what led up to this moment, including their previous half-truths and traumas. There was a very stressful moment when they first got together, when Uma had a traumatic medical reaction to an abortion and ended up back in hospital, being looked after by her old friend Aaron. 

Uma ends up taking off to a remote seaside cottage, where she takes time to go swimming in the chilly sea, cooks the Keralan dishes of her youth and switches off the phone, giving herself time to think without being constantly bombarded by her mother-in-law. Taking the time to grieve, and to connect with a new lover, things start looking up ... then someone from her past puts in a new appearance and everything gets complicated again.

Having lost my own husband a few months ago, I wasn't sure what I'd make of this novel, but Uma has a very definite backstory that inspires her to be strong. Finding a new way on with her in-laws is a tricky necessity and taking the time to focus on herself in the perfectly imperfect seaside cottage is an absolute necessity - luckily for me, I don't have one available, because, believe me, I'd be tempted to get away from it all for a while !

It's a well-written and well-constructed novel that deals thoughtfully and believably with some tricky personal dilemmas.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99 (paperback), £4.99 (Ebook)

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (6 Sept. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1787198162
  • ISBN-13: 978-1787198166
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to give my honest review.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The September 2018 Degustabox (review)

I don't know if it's psychological, because the kids have gone back to school, but it seems to me that summer is definitely behind us now. The conkers are starting to look ready to drop and I was surprised to learn that it's actually quite dark when I get up in the morning to go to school now. Before we start feeling depressed though, the postie called by my house yesterday and dropped off the latest Degustabox - yay !

After a quick bit of unpacking, the Madhouse kids were squealing in delight and trying to get their mitts on the goodies ! First of all, I smacked away their prying hands and laid everything out for the pictures !

Wow, where to begin ! Well, the Madhouse kids were most excited by these two products :

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (3 for 89p) - The perfect combination of smooth chocolate and peanut butter. The only bad thing is, they don't last long enough and there are only 3 in each pack so I didn't even get a look-in - boo hoo !

Jules Destrooper Butter Crisps (£1.80) - I did tuck into these ones though ! With a rich taste of butter, caramelised sugar and a hint of spice, these are a fabulous Belgian classic. Perfect with a nice cup of tea ... or without ! 

On to the drinks ...

Firstly, a bottle of a2 Long Life Whole Cows' Milk (£1.50) - I always have a bottle of this in the cupboard for the days when we run out of ordinary milk. This natural cows' milk is produced without the A1 protein, so it's gentle on sensitive tummies, easy to digest and less likely to trigger symptoms associated with milk intolerance. We don't have any problems with milk intolerance, but we do like the flavour of this product, both hot and cold.

Juicy Fuel Cola (£1.50) is the brand new craft Cola from the Juice Shed Company. It's made from 100% natural ingredients with no added sugar, chemicals, e-numbers or anything else that doesn't need to be there. Oh yeah, it tastes pretty fab too !

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Cider (£2.29) - As the name would suggest, this is a blend of crisp apple cider with smooth Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whisky. Distinctly refreshing but unmistakably Jack to the core. I've popped this in the fridge so far but I haven't sampled it yet.

As it says on the bag, these Mallow & Marsh Raspberry Marshmallows are whisked to gooey perfection. They contain no artificial colours or flavourings but they taste lovely, with a gorgeous 70% dark chocolate covering. Lovely !

Karg's Tomato & Mozzarella Wholegrain Snack (£1.60) are an organic blend of grains and seeds, sun-ripened, baked not fried and fibre-rich. Combining luscious pieces of tomato and soft, mild mozzarella, they make a nice, additive-free snack. 

Yes ! Yes ! Yes ! That's the three Yes ! Fruit & Nut Bars (£1.20) tucked away in the box ! They are delicious, wholesome snack bars that count towards your five-a-day and contain no unnatural sugar. We got Delicious Beetroot & Apple Fruit Bar, Sumptuous Cranberry & Dark Choc Nut Bar and Tempting Dark Choc, Sea Salt & Almond Nut Bar. All very nice. 

Good Hemp Hemp Seed Hearts (£3.99) are high in protein and omega 3 and they're perfect for sprinkling on anything from cereal and salads to cupcakes and cookies. They have a delicious light and nutty flavour.

Indie Bay Snacks Spelt Pretzel Bites in Smokin' BBQ flavour (99p) are a delicious, crispy snack in Indie Bay's latest attempt to use alternative flours, including spelt and quinoa, in their snacks. They taste surprisingly good and they're also relatively low in calories (99 calories per bag).


Choc Go Organic Cacao Nibs with Yacon (£1.85) offer a super-food combination packed full of ant-oxidants, magnesium and iron. The kids are happy to eat these sprinkled over yogurt or scattered over cakes.

And finally, new Cadbury Oreo Hot Chocolate (£2.99) is the latest addition to the range, and very nice it is too ! Just add 4 teaspoons to a mug, fill with hot water and stir. This is very tasty, not to mention quick and simple to prepare.

Along with the info card this month, you get another invitation to join in with their photo contest.

There's also a recipe for some Raw Triple Chocolate Cookies which look very nice, and make sure you look out for the voucher which will allow you to get some more free a2 Milk.

A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £7.99 - enter code 0BS6T at the checkout.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Book review : Want To Play? - P.J. Tracy

Back in May, I read Live Bait (click through for my review), the second novel in the Monkeewrench series by mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht. When I was on holiday in Bulgaria this year, I happened to spot a copy of the first novel in the series, Want To Play?, in the book-swap library of the hotel we were staying at, so I swapped some books around and brought it home with us. I couldn't wait to jump in and see how the book series had started out. 

It's autumn in Minneapolis and an elderly couple are found murdered in a church. As a few more bodies are discovered, a games-creator called Grace McBride calls in the detectives to tell them that the murders seem to be following her recently launched new game. Local detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth end up heading the team of detectives following the clues and at first, they don't know where to start. The group of games creators are hostile and it turns out that they were wrapped up in a previous killing spree, changing their identity and location. Are they in the clear or should they be kept under observation? 

It's a fast-paced operation, with the body-count rising fast while the police run around following up leads and trying to work out what went on. It's all a bit idealistic and you know that the main characters are all going to survive, as there's a whole series of books to come, but it's still an enjoyable read.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (1 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405915641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405915649
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm

Monday, 17 September 2018

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2018 week #38

And here I am again, writing up another weekly menu plan. I slept for two hours on Saturday afternoon and another two hours on Sunday afternoon, so I think I should have caught up on my sleep now ! I'm still working my through my overflowing freezer at the moment so let's see what's on the menu this week !


dinner - There are some roast chicken leftovers, and some roast potatoes too, from yesterday - depending on how much is left over after Juliette has tucked in for lunch, I'll make up a pie, with a sachet of frozen veggies


dinner - slow cooker pizza casserole


lunch - beefburgers, chips and beans

dinner - Hunan chicken, which is a stir-fry recipe, made with chicken and broccoli, served with plain white rice


dinner - steak, mash and veggies of some variety from the freezer


 dinner - either leftovers, or Berber pizza


lunch - kids' choice of fast food (we went to the pizza restaurant last week, so I bet it'll be back to McDonald's this week)

dinner - leftovers/snack food


lunch -  roast dinner - probably chicken, with roast potatoes, carrots, mushroom, onions and lashings of gravy

dinner - fridge grazing or leftovers

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Giveaway #694 : Win The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas book - closing date 30/9

How are your kids getting on at school this year? Are they hugely enthusiastic about everything they're learning, or are they finding it hard to get back into routine? Well, if it's more a case of the latter, look no further ! I have the perfect book for you.

Hold the world in your hands and come face to face with the many wonderful animals that inhabit our extraordinary Earth. This bright, colourful Animal Atlas is designed specifically to make the vast reaches of our planet tangible for a young audience.

 It features beautiful, detailed maps that children will love to pore over, discovering something new each time. A fabulous "pop-up" map shows the world's animal biomes at a glance and the accessible text is packed full of amazing facts on record-breaking animals, creatures to beware of, and animals that work alongside people.

Three lavish fold-out pages show the habitat and wildlife of major continents, along with a fabulous pop-out map of the world. In total, there are over 500 colour photos of animals, so you're bound to spot at least a few new critters that you didn't know much about.

The accessible text is packed full of amazing facts on record-breaking animals, creatures to beware of and those that work alongside people. It's a great book to share with your kids.

The Totally Wild, Fact-Packed, Fold-Out Animal Atlas | 9781783123797 |
Author: Jen Green
Paperback | £9.99 | Published: August 2018 |

Carlton Kids have kindly offered to send a copy of the book to one Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries via the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 30/9/18

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize. 

#MySundayphoto #SundaySnap 16/9

When we were on holiday in Bulgaria this summer, we took a tourist cruise and Pierre won a bottle of champagne for being one of only two people to catch a fish !

OneDad3GirlsSunday Snap

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Fab freebies of the week 15/9

Well firstly, hello everyone ... and secondly, WOOHOO we made it to the weekend ! I don't know about you but I'm finding it hard to get back into a routine of going to bed early and getting up even earlier ! Ah well, it's finally the weekend. Start things off in style with this week's roundup of the best UK freebies. Enjoy ! :)


You can claim, amongst other things, a FREE 22 pack of Pampers Nappies, exclusively open to members of Emma's Diary. FREE to collect from Boots or Argos.

Request samples of your favourite Roasters coffee pods

Will have some FREE samples of my magic coffee with me tomorrow at the show, comment or PM me if you would like one x ☕

Yeah, another great perfume sample - sign up for your free sample of Versace Dylan Blue Perfume

Claim your free sample of our new Masq Painter’s Tape today! To claim simply follow our page and private message us! Limited samples available.

DURAFRAME® has revolutionised signage across a wide range of industries. From our self-adhesive frames to UV resistant poster frames #DURAFRAME is the professional way to display. To request your FREE sample just go to #signage #Free #Sample

Take advantage of the Schar Try Me Free offer for gluten-free pasta

Get your free Princes tuna fillers

25,000 entrants will receive one AURA MUGLER 0.3ml flat spray sample. No purchase is necessary.

Would you like to try our NEW glow-giving Face Mask? Apply to receive a sample below
We've got 30,000 samples to give away of our new 60 second wonder - an illuminating face mask treatment with radiance boosting kakadu plum, brightening vitamin c & nutrient rich rosemary extract.

Sign up for a free YuMOVE Dog sample pack!

Never used a product from Derma Organics before? Unsure on what might work best for you? Did you know, most of our products are available as #samples, so you can try before you buy! Oh, and it’s #FREE! Find out more on our website! … #trybeforeyoubuy

@CrotchGuardUk (for cyclists, in case you were wondering !)
If you're not using Crotch Guard Skin Care Oil yet why not try one of our FREE samples. #crotchguard

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Globecooking recipe : Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf (USA)

Since Madhouse Daddy died, I've overhauled my cooking repertoire. I always used to cook for the kids, and then once they'd eaten, try something spicy, or foreign, or unusual, for the grown-ups. These days, I just cook one meal and we all eat it together. Understandably, the kids aren't that interested in expanding their culinary minds, so I tend to be cooking more homely, "normal" meals. But I still have a desire to try out new recipes. What to do? Well, I am slowly but surely developing the kids' repertoire of meals. But shhh - I don't think they've noticed yet !

My latest online search for some new recipes to try introduced me to some brand new blogs. The latest one is an Alaskan lady, whose blog is called Little House, Big Alaska and I saw her recipe for Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf. I adapted it slightly, according to what I had in the cupboard, but I stuck pretty close to her recipe for this one. The kids gobbled it up - success !

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

ingredients :

a few pickles, chopped
500g minced beef
2 tbsp dried onion flakes
2 eggs
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
a few slices of cheese, diced
salt, pepper
6 slices bacon
1/2 cup ketchup 
1 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the minced beef in a bowl, along with the sliced pickle and the dried onions.

Looking through the fridge, I came across a pack of Double Gloucester Onion & Chive that could do with being used up - perfect !

Add the breadcrumbs, cheese and eggs and mix it all together. Add some salt and pepper too, if you like. You could even go for extra spices - some chilli, oregano or even some mixed herbs would be great too.

Press it all together into a meatloaf shape and put it in a roasting tin.

Top with the bacon.

Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven. Mix together the tomato sauce and maple syrup and squirt it on top of the meatloaf. I also added a pack of frozen onion rings at this point.

Stick it back in the oven while you knock up some homemade chips then scream "dinner's ready" upstairs and you're good to go !

This was a great meal for putting in the oven when I got back home from school, because I could run around while it cooked and sort out homework and stuff - always a bonus ! The whole thing disappeared in record time once it was cooked, which was a shame, as I was hoping to take a leftover slice to school with me the next day for lunch !

*** Fancy trying out some more US cuisine? Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***
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