Saturday, 25 October 2014

Unibond Aero 360° Pure Moisture Absorber System review

When The Insiders launched their latest campaign and explained how the Unibond Aero 360° Pure Moisture Absorber System can help get humidity levels down to healthy levels in your house, I knew I had to apply.

They provided a checklist of the signs to look for :

- Rooms with limited ventilation or big temperature differences between day and night-time
- Wallpaper peeling off, blistering paint, mould, mildew and damp patches etc.;
- Condensation and lingering bad smells around the house;
- The feeling of being cold or having a cold on a regular basis;
- General allergies and joint problems.

Well, I didn't even have to check the list. This is the nightmare section of our bedroom wall that is just awaiting repairs. Eeek - perfect for Halloween, not so great on a day to day basis though ! To be fair, there was a leak on the outside wall, which has now been fixed, but that corner has always been a problem area for damp. When the Moisture Absorber arrived, I knew where it would be installed.

It's dead easy to set up. You press the button to open the device, place the tab on the axle with the blue side facing downwards, close it up and place it in the room  at least 10cm from the wall. One tab (made from ultra-absorbent crystals) should last approximately 3 months in a 20m² room.

I was impressed that it needs no batteries or electricity and that it is very discreet - once it's there, it does its magic and you can forget all about it. The official write-up on The Insiders page said : "If you don’t notice any drops, the humidity level in your room is balanced", so I wasn't actually expecting it to do much, especially now that the leak has been fixed. I was stunned to see a couple of centimetres of water in the bottom within a few hours ! The great thing about the Aero 360° is that it's totally portable so I like to move it to the bathroom when the bath or shower are in use or put it next to the tumble drier or steam iron when they're on the go. You can literally see it working because you can see drops of water appearing in the bottom almost instantly.

If you know have a problem with damp or even if you just want to check how humid your house is, it's a great little product. It gets a bit addictive though and we all keep going to see how much water is in the bottom ! I probably wouldn't use it over the summer, when the windows are open and the house is naturally less damp, but over the colder months, it will definitely be on the go non stop.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP: £19.99 for UniBond® Aero 360 Device and £9.99 for UniBond® Aero 360 Refill Tabs (2X)
(Both Device and Refill are usually available at promotional prices in October, November and December & January.)

Available in the main Grocery stores (e.g. ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons), DIY stores (e.g. B&Q, Homebase, Robert Dyas etc.), Value retailers (e.g. Wilkinsons), Amazon and many other retailers.

Disclosure : As a member of The Insiders, I received the product in order to share honest feedback.

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Children's book review : The Girl Who Wasn't There - Karen McCombie

On the back of the book, The Girl Who Wasn't There is described as "a ghostly friendship mystery from a much-loved author". I was intrigued by this description but, having finished it, it's actually a good description, albeit a rather big spoiler !

Young teen Maisie has just moved house and school, with her dad taking up a new job as a school caretaker. While her big sister Clem stomps about in a bad mood because she hates the house and the fact that she's been uprooted, Maisie is relieved to have escaped her old school where her old best friends all turned against her after some mysterious incident. In a very short time, Maisie is delighted to find a new friend who she can share giggles and adventures with. Kat isn't like the other girls, and they soon find a common mission, trying to elucidate the mysterious ghost story focusing on the school art room.

I'm sure the title and the blurb on the back of the book have given the game away by now - Maisie soon discovers that her new best friend, Kat, is actually the ghost whose story they are trying to discover. It's a lovely tale of friendship but also of moving on and putting the past behind you - Kat needs to understand the past to be at peace and Maisie needs to realise that she can turn the page on all the bad things from her old school but they're not the only ghosts that need to be laid to rest.

It has some great life lessons - Maisie has to deal with the fallout from her old school but also get on with life after her mum's death - but it is above all an exciting and intriguing story that will appeal to tweens and young teens.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic (7 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1407138901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407138909
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2 cm

Disclosure : I received the book in order to write an honest review.

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Globe-cooking recipe : Maftoul Couscous (Jordan)

In last month's Jordanian-themed Kitchen Trotter box, there was a packet of maftoul, a large-grain, wholewheat, hand rolled and sundried couscous from Palestine.

Time to try out the accompanying recipe for Couscous Maftoul.

Maftoul Couscous

ingredients :

5 chicken thighs
250g maftoul
1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
1tsp curcuma
1tsp cumin
250g chickpeas (tinned are fine or dried, but they'll need soaking overnight)
150cl chicken stock (boiling water + 2 stock cubes)

First brown the chicken on all sides and put it in a dish in the oven to keep cooking for 20 minutes. Prepare the chicken stock. Fry the onion in the chicken fat. 

Put half of the onion in a separate pot and reserve for the maftoul. Add the chicken to the onions (you may need a bigger pot) and sprinkle over half of the spices, plus some salt and pepper. Pour on half of the chicken stock and half of the chickpeas.

This needs to cook until the sauce has thickened and the juices run clear in the chicken - allow about half an hour.

Fifteen minutes before the chicken is cooked, reheat the onion, add the maftoul and gently fry for a couple of minutes. Add the remaining half of the spices, chickpeas and stock. 

Once it's reached almost boiling point, reduce the heat to very low, cover and leave to simmer for 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Serve the maftoul, then the chicken and pour the chickpeas/onions sauce over the top.

I wasn't sure if it was a mistake in the recipe to put the same quantities of chickpeas, curcuma, cumin and stock in both pots. It does work but it would be easier to put all of the chickpeas in the maftoul really. I kept the kids' chicken in the oven rather than cook it in the sauce but I needn't have worried - it wasn't spicy at all.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Globe-cooking recipe : Jaegerschnitzel (Germany)

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Madhouse Diaries : Exploring in Gravelines

Sophie wanted to go and visit one of her friends who lives in Gravelines, a 40 minute bus ride away. We decided it was a bit too far for her to go by herself so I told Juliette and Pierre that we'd go on an adventure and explore the town while she was at her friend's house. We started off by having a good look at the huge statue of a bull on the way into town.

Then we discovered vast colonies of mushrooms pushing their way up through the ground.

Pierre had brought his magnifying glass along to have a close look at anything interesting !

We just HAD to go geocaching ! To be honest, it isn't a great place for caches because most of them have disappeared or, as it's a fortified town with ramparts and moats, you often end up on the wrong side of a wall with no way of getting to the other side, but as always, the geocache coordinates gave us an idea of places to explore (and meant that we could find our way back to the bus stop to meet Sophie !).

The first cache took us to the Jardins de la Poudrière, where they used to store the gunpowder in times gone by. Pierre liked hiding behind the gate saying he was in prison !

We were surprised to see cabbages growing in a flower bed.

Especially as this one appeared to have a face !

From the town walls, we had a good view out to the channel that leads to the sea.

We explored lots of tunnels and spotted lots of statues.

Some were scarier than others !

Pierre liked the topiary because the trees look like the ones he draws !

The gardeners of Gravelines have done themselves proud. We discovered a horse and cart made entirely out of foliage.

There was even a snail made of plants !

The Jardin de la Liberté is a very pretty garden that must demand hours of upkeep.

There's even a pretty little bandstand.

After examining the insects, it was time to move on !

We headed out of the town walls into the surrounding woodland. A big tree stump made a great seat when we needed a rest. (We walked 12km in total so I can't blame them !)

Into the woods, crunching through the leaves ...

Ooh another sports trail - the hurdles got used for doing rolypolies !

And swinging off the bars is much more fun than doing pull-ups.

Skipping off to see what's around the corner ...

Yay, a climbing frame !

And slides ! (Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is great fun !)

Ooh, it's time to go and get the bus home already. Where did the afternoon go ?!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse diaries : Visiting Gdansk (Danzig) in Poland

Fab freebies of the week 25/10/2014

Back to a bumper week of freebies this week - let me know what takes your fancy :)


You can order free resources (stickers, posters, receipe booklets, ...) for National Breakfast Week - ideal for schools and associations but they also have a "for personal use" option

Grab some free Huggies Dry Nites here

You can get a free breakfast at Giraffe on Monday if you go in wearing your dressing gown !

If you have pets, there are free samples of Verm-X intestinal hygiene products here

Fancy trying Nature's Path Porridge? "Hope you are all having a Hot and Steamy weekend folks Email for your free 'Try before you buy' sample…..." - full details here

It's not too late to send a sample of Fishfinger hair wax to a friend

spotted on twitter --> ‏@ZingologyUK visit and register as a blogger for samples... (interesting-looking fruit & veg powders - if you're not a blogger, there is also a "fussy parent" option)

another one on twitter --> @Blunt_Cards_UK Help us get to 2000 followers and we'll dish out some free samples. #bluntcards #RT (worth watching as they've just hit 2000)

Facebook is a goodplace for freebie-hunting too ! : Forever Fabulous Health Nutrition & Wellbeing
Don't panic if you don't live in Derbyshire or South Staffs - we post free samples across the UK too! Drop us a wee message to get Postman Pat on the go......

Don't miss ASDA's competition - you could win 1 of 1000 boxes of After Eights, 10 prizes of £100 or the top prize of £1000

@LabelsZoo Most #Online sellers use Integrated Labels. Why not you? Try some free samples.

Pick up a free pack of Vitamin D tablets from your Asda Pharmacy - all details here

FREE deluxe 2-week 15ml supply of all-new Plantscription™ Anti-aging power serum 15ml sample. You must pick up your sample at an Origins counter in store

There's a free Hugo Boss Ma Vie Pour Femme perfume sample available here

There are 35000 Bodyform samples on their Facebook page

Super Savvy Me are looking for 1,000 people to test out the new Nice & Easy 'Shift and Shade' hair colouring

Grab a free weaning spoon, newborn soother or nappy rash cream on the Nuby facebook page

The OU have a free tiger poster available

You can get a free Aveeno sample on their Facebook page

5000 Dorset Tea packs for you to request and send to a friend

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.

You may also like to enter my giveaways :

Friday, 24 October 2014

Mrs Crimble's Gluten-Free Teatime Treats review

Mrs Crimble's recently sent me through some of their lovely teatime treats to try out. Now, you have to remember, these arrived through the post and they look like the postie may have sat on them ! (The plastic wrapper had stuck to the icing so when I peeled it off, the icing came with it.)

If you buy them in the shops, they'll look much more swish and impressive, as the picture above shows.

But crazy paving icing effect aside, they're actually utterly delicious. They are nice and soft and have a lovely tart, zingy lemon icing. They're perfect as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack with a cup of tea but Mrs Crimble's also suggest serving them with some fresh raspberries and a spoonful of cream as a decadent dessert - that sounds rather lovely too.

The traditional Country Fruit Slice is a moist sponge packed with raisins, cranberries and apricots, set on a thin and crispy pastry base. I was surprised to see the pastry hiding under the sponge but it helps hold it all together and avoids crumbling. It's another lovely sweet treat to go with a well deserved cuppa.

Usually I would tell you the calorie content but these got munched far too quickly and the wrappers were thrown away - sorry about that !

Mrs Crimble's products are always so lovely that I tend to forget that they're gluten-free. If you are gluten intolerant, they're perfect though and you certainly won't feel like you're missing out. To make it easier for everyone to find gluten free treats when they’re out and about, Mrs Crimble’s new Slices are now available everywhere from garden centres to railway stations and from service stations to delis.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £1.25-£1.99 for a 60g slice, £1.69-£1.89 for a 4 pack

for more information :

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

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Madhouse recipe : Figgy Pizzas

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Madhouse diaries : Visiting Gdansk (Danzig) in Poland

When I headed off to Poland on a 5-day work trip last week, I wasn't expecting to fall in love with the country. To be honest, I was expecting grey, heavily industrialised landscapes and utilitarian, soviet-style buildings. Visiting Gdynia and Gdansk was a revelation. It seemed more Scandinavian in atmosphere (not that I've ever been anywhere near Scandinavia but the interiors of the restaurants and coffee shops we visited reminded me of Ikea !) - very young, very dynamic and very trendy. Not what I was expecting at all.

We had an afternoon sightseeing in Gdansk (also known as Danzig). Walking along the dockside, the guide explained that the whole of Gdansk was destroyed during the war but it has all been reconstructed to reproduce exactly the way it used to be. Some Polish people dislike the town because they think it's fake but I really liked it.

I love the way there are (seemingly) old towers and buildings dotted amongst the modern offices and flats.

There are lots of little archways heading from the docks up towards the town centre with its shops and monuments, giving you a sneaky peek of the little alleyways and cobbled streets beyond.

This is one of the iconic photos of Gdansk. It's the medieval Great Crane, used for lifting heavy loads off the ships.

In Gdansk, they have scaled down models of the different monuments right next to them which is a great way of getting an overview of the whole building. They're apparently designed for blind people to feel but I think they're great for everyone. It was hard to work out what we were looking at in the photo above but the model makes it much clearer.

We made ourselves giddy by looking up at the huge crane mechanism above our heads !

There's a really lovely old-fashioned boat in the port - it's not authentic, it's a touristy cruise ship, rather like the pirate boats in Turkey, that you can take a ride on but it really looks the part.

Just a few steps along the quayside is a large restaurant called Goldwasser.

This is one of Gdansk's iconic products - Goldwasser vodka with flakes of gold suspended in it. Gdansk is also the world capital of amber and there are numerous shops and workshops selling amber and explaining where it comes from, showing off the different colours and the inclusions (insects or vegetation) that you can find inside.

Time to nip through an archway into the main part of town.

We picked up some little souvenirs from the tiny shops in this street, often selling handmade goods. I got a hand-painted glass angel for the Christmas tree and a little tree made from lots of little pieces of amber. I also got some vodka shot glasses and some cherry and honey flavoured vodka - it would be rude not to !

I love the fact that there are things to discover all over the place, wherever you look. Ornate manhole covers on the ground ...

Intricate rooftops and statues up in the sky ...

And gargoyles everywhere you look.

There's no such thing as a boring building in Gdansk !

We discovered St Mary's Church.

It is the largest brick-built church in the world.

It also has another unique feature. It took several years to build and the builders messed up the measurements so there is an interesting window-in-a-window feature. This caused much merriment in our group because all the women had assumed it was part of the design whereas the men noticed straight away that something was wrong !

Many of the buildings reminded me very much of Bruges in Belgium.

My favourite building was the Arsenal because it's just so full of ... bling !

The things on the roof represent exploding bombs and there are also dragons and gilded statues.

Way too many architectural features for one building but I love the fact that it's so OTT !

And with that, we were off for another three course meal in a restaurant laid on by our hosts (which was the recurring theme of the trip !)

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Madhouse Diaries :Our hotel in Kusadasi