Monday, 31 October 2011

ProCook storage containers review


I've featured a number of ProCook kitchen products here on my blog and I'm always impressed because they seem to find the perfect balance between funkiness and functionality. When they sent me through one of their new range of storage containers to review, I was pleased to see that this was again the case.


ProCook are marketing these as containers with a contemporary design, but I actually find them quite retro. The zigzag pattern on the one we received reminds me of a black and white herringbone patterned coat that my mum had when I was a kid ! They're very funky though and mine has pride of place on the worktop, filled with "apple tea" drink mix that we brought back from our holiday to Turkey and that had been sitting in a rather unfetching empty ice cream tub ever since !

The wooden lids have a very snug, airtight fit and the porcelain containers seem quite solid (although they obviously wouldn't resist being smashed to the floor !). The grey and green colour scheme is very muted and would fit in with your kitchen colour scheme, whatever it is. Measuring 110mm x 110mm, they're the perfect size for any dry goods, such as pasta, rice, flour, tes bags, coffee, etc.

There are eight funky designs and as each container only costs £6, you could splash out and get one of each for a totally funky, not to mention well-organised, kitchen !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £6

for more information : http://www.procook.co.uk/

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Cadbury's Fabulous Fingers review



Cadbury Fingers have been a firm family favourite for generations but the brand have just released what they are calling its grown up, indulgent and ‘fabulous’ sibling, new Cadbury Fabulous Fingers. We were all very pleased to receive a couple of boxes to review here at the Madhouse.  

Cadbury's promise "a new and unexpected experience, revealed only in the bite" and they do indeed look the same as normal Cadbury Fingers in the box. Once you bite into them though, the chocolate secret is revealed - underneath the velvety milk chocolate, there is a hidden layer of white chocolate covering a crunchy chocolate biscuit finger. The flavours combine really nicely and went down well with everyone who tried them - the three mini Madhouse testers, Madhouse Mum (that's me !) and Madhouse Daddy Mike, and also the visiting Madhouse Grandparents - so that's a huge thumbs up from three generations of testers, who made short work of them !


Going, going ...


Gone ! That's the ultimate, perfect chocolate moustache !

I was lovely and shared them with everyone, but these are supposed to be the extra indulgent version specially made for grown-ups. We have only one slight quibble - despite being the same size box as the original Fingers, the box only contains 16 fingers which we're sure is less than for the normal Fingers.

Great news though is that, despite being absolutely delicious, chocolatey and indulgent, a 2-finger serving only contains 70 calories which is extremely reasonable. In fact, that's less than some of the biscuits produced by leading weightloss brands ! At just 35 calories per biscuit, you can reach for the biscuit barrel with a guilt-free conscience - as long as you manage to stop at one, and that's easier said than done, once you've tasted how delicious they are !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £1.99 (but look out for special introductory price offers)

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Winter Advice Videos : Safety and Money-saving tips

With the clocks going back this weekend, it seemed the perfect time to share a couple of winter-themed videos with you. I hope you'll find them useful and interesting.

The first features personal finance expert Jasmine Birtles giving winter money saving tips. As the temperature drops, the cost of living can often rise. This is particularly the case for parents, who have to cater for more mouths and dress more bodies!


Personal finance expert Jasmine Birtles has come up with a series of tips for mums and dads that will help them cut costs this winter. They include tips about heating, clothes, food, socialising and holidays.

The advice comes as a recent survey carried out by Clarks Kids asked mums from all over the country about their spending habits and found that many aren’t making the best choices to get the value for money they truly deserve.



The second features tips on how to make sure your boiler & heating system is ready for action.

The old adage ‘out of sight out of mind’ is often used when it comes to boilers, but giving your heating system a health check sooner rather than later can go a long way to making sure you don’t feel the cold this winter.

Martyn Bridges, director of marketing and technical support at Worcester, Bosch Group, suggests the following points to help keep you cosy this winter:

Check your servicing is up to date

Even if your boiler is not that old, it is important it has an annual inspection from a qualified engineer to make sure it is running at its most efficient. In a recent survey by Worcester, only 50% of those asked got their heating system serviced at the recommended yearly intervals – 20% admitted they never had their boiler serviced. A regular check-up will keep your boiler running for longer, help prevent any costly repairs and ensure you are using fuel wisely, so maintaining your heating system has never been a sounder investment.

A recent Which? Report suggests that a good service should include the following checks:

A thorough visual inspection

Checking the operating pressure, heat input or if necessary both – these test require a gauge

Checking the ventilation as well as the effectiveness of the flue

Ensuring the boiler is safe, for instance by checking safety devices

The engineer should also see whether the boiler needs cleaning to ensure it works efficiently.

Bring in the professionals



Other blogposts you may be interested in :

 

Tinyme.co.uk launch a new range of FREE printable activity for kids


Tinyme.co.uk, the new online children's brand in the UK has just launched an extremely cute range of free printable activities for kids. "With our initial range of freebies we're offering 19 pages of printable fun including personalised door hangers, masks, bookmarks and more" said Mike Wilson, company founder and Director of Web, Product and Marketing. " Most people associate free printable activities for kids with tiered, B-grade design. By applying our unique, and sometimes slightly quirky design approach, we've come up with a fresh take on the product.

The free printables include characters from our personalised product range and are a great way for people to get to know our brand. " said Wilson



To get instant access to all the goodies and priority access to future updates, people can subscribe to the tinyme email newsletter at http://www.tinyme.co.uk/news . "Our design team has had a lot of fun in creating our initial range of printables and are teeming with more ideas. Ideally we'd like to get a bunch of new printables added each month for people on our email list", said WIlson

About Tinyme...

Once upon a time, three young dads (who happen to have 13 kids under 9) combined a whole bunch of geeky high tech machines, some generous dollops of cuteness, a slightly loopy team of people and mixed them together with the world wide webby thingy. The result was amazing .... a comprehensive range of affordable, premium quality, designer personalised products for kids. All custom made and shipped out in a jiffy.


•Tinyme.co.uk launched in the UK in July 2011.

•Tinyme.co.uk offer a range of personalised children's products, including name labels, personalised bags, wall stickers and personalised books.

•Tinyme.co.uk is the trading name of Tinyme Limited, the UK subsidiary and brand of Jairus Pty Ltd, who trade in Australia as mooo.com.au.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Ravensburger Cars 2 Giant Floor Puzzle review



We were very excited recently to be selected as a member of the Ravensburger Puzzle Club, where a team of bloggers will be receiving a monthly puzzle to try out and review. I've added a badge to the club on my side bar so feel free to click through and have a look at the reviews and discussions at http://ravensburgerpuzzleclub.blogspot.com/ .



Our first puzzle was a lovely big 60 piece floor puzzle depicting the cheeky Cars 2 characters. As you can see, 6-year-old Juliette instantly grabbed it and asked if she could make it. 2-year-old Pierre was also impressed and was standing by, cheering her on and passing her the different pieces, which was very cute !


We also received a fabulous Ravensburger Puzzle Store which is an ingenious product that would have saved endless arguments (along the lines of "Can you clear the puzzle away now, I'm dishing up dinner", "Oh but Mum, I've done more than three quarters of it now, can't it wait ?") when I was a kid ! The rigid fold-open tray gives you a place for sorting through the puzzle pieces and storing the unfinished (or finished if you can't bear to break it up) puzzle and keeps it all safe until next time once you've closed the box.


Juliette enlisted the help of Madhouse Grandad and they passed a pleasant half hour fitting all the pieces together ! I was impressed at how solid the pieces are and how well they fit together - no snaggy ends or edge bits constantly getting broken apart while you fill in the middle.


Juliette was very proud of the finished puzzle ... but two minutes after I took this photo, big sister Sophie came along and broke it all apart so that she could have a go too ! Pierre just stood oohing at the vibrant colours and high definition picture of his automobile heroes !

Definitely a resounding success here at The Madhouse, and the girls can't wait to see what arrives next time !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £9.99 for the Cars2 Floor Puzzle, Puzzle Store £34.99




Other reviews you may be interested in :

15% discount for Madhouse Family Reviews readers on Unique Editions personalised books


Back in the summer, we reviewed (here) a fabulous personalised kids' story book from Unique Editons and Pierre still loves looking at the pictures of himself metamorphosed into various animals and garden creatures and reading the story featuring himself.

Well, Unique Editions have emailed me to say that now, children can star in their own personalised Christmas story. And they have more good news - a special 15% discount for you so get in quick if you want to buy one as a special Christmas gift for someone.

They explain :
"With their captivating stories and their modern and colourful illustrations, Unique Editions´ range of personalised books fire your child's imagination, making it the perfect gift to place under the tree. What a joy for children to discover a gift specially designed for them and their families, with close ones as characters in these stories. This is a unique opportunity to make your child a truly original and personal gift, and a great souvenir of their early years.


A special Christmas story…

Celebrate the magic of Christmas with Santa´s Secret Village (release: 1st Nov) where the child joins a friendly elf on the most amazing adventure to a secret village, helps distribute gifts and learns to preserve the traditions of Christmas. A beautifully illustrated book, with a tender story. Guaranteed to delight and entertain … a perfect gift to slip under the tree!



On this occasion, Unique Editions offers your readers a special discount - 15% on all books, valid until January 5, 2012. To qualify, they can simply enter the promo code XMAS2011 when they order on http://www.unique-editions.co.uk/ "

Other blogposts you may be interested in :


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Lush Skullduggery Halloween bath ballistic review


Well, the Madhouse kids are all excited about getting dressed up and going out trick or treating tomorrow, but I'm more excited about having a long soak in a lovely hot bath when we get back, courtesy of the gorgeous Skullduggery bath ballistic that Lush kindly sent me to try out.

I've used lots of Lush bath ballistics in my time and, when I've been trying to save a few pennies, I've also tried out some of the cheaper brands. Well, I have to say, the Lush ones may be more expensive than the cheap copies but you can tell they're the originals. They fizz a lot more quickly, actually go shooting around the bath (whereas the cheaper versions just sit in one spot and fizz), dissolve properly and perfume the whole bathroom with their exotic fragrances.

The Skullduggery bath ballistic actually smells quite tame for Lush, so if you're not keen on the overpowering fragrances, this would be a good one for you. It smells very fresh and vaguely citrussy. Lush explain : "We used brightening and refreshing lime and neroli for the fragrance and olibanum (also known as frankincense resinoid) to help that citrusy smell stay on your skin until the witching hour and beyond."

The best bit though is the visual appeal - the sinister but beautifully created white skull contrasting with the cutesy love hearts for eyes ! Lush say that this is their hommage to the Mexican 'sugar skulls' and that their whole Halloween collection has been inspied by the Mexican celebrations for 'Day of the Dead'.

In the Halloween collection, you can also buy Calacas (which is Spanish for skeleton) shower gel, Lady Catrina soap, a Magic Wand reuseable bath bar, Twilight bath ballistic, Dark Angels cleanser, Vanishing Cream moisturiser and Ceridwen's Cauldron bath melt - but be quick ! They're only available until the end of the month so you'd better snap them up tomorrow before they disappear for another year. Did any of you make it to the Lush Halloween parties (that I told you about here) yesterday ?

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £2.75

for more information : www.lush.co.uk

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Aero Finesse review


I love Aero chocolate bars - that bubbly, light, totally unique texture brings back happy memories of sharing a mint Aero bar with my best mate at school at breaktime ! - so when the opportunity arose to review their new range of refrigerated desserts, I jumped at the chance.

They come in two varieties - chocolate and vanilla - both of which combine creamy mousse with crisp swirls of chocolate to crack through. No bubbles but they do have a light, airy texture and they're delicious !


The mousse is really light and not overly sweet so it doesn't get sickly. It's a lovely indulgent dessert that will ease any sugar cravings or desire for a rich treat to finish off a meal but I did a double take when I looked at the packaging - they only contain 127 calories a pot for the vanilla and 134 for the chocolate variety.

To show off this low calorie aspect, Aero explain : "An alternative to decadent desserts, each 57g pot of Aero Finesse contains around 135 Calories. With no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, Aero Finesse makes a guilt-free after dinner indulgence you can enjoy in the evening. Why not swap your usual dessert or treat for Aero Finesse and see how many calories you can save....

Aero Finesse Top Calorie Swaps

Swap for Aero Finesse Milk Chocolate Mousse (134 cals):
Chocolate chip muffin 413 cals: SAVE 279 cals  
2 chocolate digestives - 168 cals: SAVE 34 cals
Chocolate brownie - 250 cals: SAVE 116 cals

Swap for Aero Finesse Vanilla Mousse (127 cals):

Cupcake - 248 cals: SAVE 121 cals
Flapjack - 293 cals: SAVE 166 cals
Individual cheesecake - 300 cals: SAVE 173 cals
Individual pot trifle - 200 cals: SAVE 73 cals


If you're looking for a guilt-free dessert, look no further, but the kids loved them too, just for the taste and the sheer chocolateyness of them. These would be a great addition to the fridge over Christmas when everybody has overindulged on the turkey and Christmas pudding and wants a nice light alternative to finish off a meal.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £1.69 for 4 pots

currently available in Tesco and Asda

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Hallmark Interactive Storybuddy - Watson the Raccoon and the Case of the Sneaky Stealer review


When Hallmark told me that they would be sending me an Interactive Storybuddy to review, I wasn't sure what to expect. As soon as we unpacked Watson the Raccoon, we all oohed and aahed about how cute he is and how lovely and soft his fur is. Just as a cuddly toy, he would have got a great reception, partly because he has such a friendly face and he is just the right size for snuggling up to in bed, but also because you don't see many raccoon soft toys so he had great novelty value too.

But that's just the start. Watson comes with a hardback storybook, called Watson and the Case of the Sneaky Stealer. It's a lovely story about the animals getting in a flap when their possessions start going missing, then being happy to give them up when Watson the Raccoon investigates and they discover that they've been used in a birds' nest full of chirping chicks. The wholesome values of generosity, kindness and tolerance that feature in the tale, along with the beautiful coloured illustrations of the animal friends, would make this a lovely book to read together in itself.

But put the two together and a little bit of Hallmark magic happens ! Press the button on Watson's ear (first making sure that he is switched on in the unit in his tummy by opening up the back of the toy - we got off to a false start and had to read the first page again !) and when you read the story aloud, he listens carefully and chips in with a range of different sentences at key moments in the story. He's activated by certain keywords that are highlighted in the text, but young listeners won't realise this and will totally believe that he's sprung to life and joined in with the story !

Slightly older readers will find his input a really useful motivational tool for reading aloud and it's a great way of keeping young listeners interested for longer.

This is the first book available in the series but there are at least two others available, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more appear in the future. There are also other story buddies available and I have to say they're quite reasonably priced, at £19.99 for the toy with a book and £5.99 for extra books. The soft toy or the book would make a lovely gift by itself, but the two together are a truly magical, special present that young children will cherish. It's a fabulous idea, and that's me speaking as a teacher as well as a mum !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £19.99 for the interactive storybuddy with one book




Other reviews you may be interested in :

Scheckter's Organic Energy review


Last month was London Fashion Week 2011 and I was very chuffed to be sent some of the fashion-fabulous products that were at Erin O'Connor's Model Sanctuary to try out. First up was a can of Scheckter's Organic Energy - a natural, healthy energy drink designed to give you a physical and mental boost.

I must admit, I usually steer clear of energy drinks because I figure that drinking that amount of caffeine in one go can't be good for you, especially as I don't drink tea or coffee so my body probably isn't used to it. I also don't like the horrible synthetic background taste that all the "shots" type of energy drinks that I've ever tried have had.

I was therefore totally surprised when I took my first sip of Scheckter's Organic Energy drink. It's a really pleasant, refreshing, slightly sparkling drink that tastes lovely and natural, reminding me of Shloer or Bottlegreen drinks. It doesn't taste horribly sugary or have that nasty synthetic background taste. I'd drink it for the taste alone, which is not something you can say of most caffeine-packed energy drinks.

As soon as you investigate the ingredients, you can see why it tastes so good. On the website, they explain : "We are dedicated to creating a great tasting energy drink, made with 100% natural, organic and FairTrade ingredients. That means a great tasting energy drink that has no artificial ingredients. In starting our business, our philosophy was and still is quite simple: We think there is an alternative to today's world in which artificial ingredients are used in many products. We asked ourselves - which would we rather consume, products derived from nature or artificial ones manufactured in a lab? Our answer is in the can!"

Those natural ingredients are sparkling water, raw cane sugar, lemon, pomegranate and elderberry juice, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, natural caffeine from raw green coffee beans and guarana - all of which are organic. The ingredients are specially chosen for their properties which offer a physical and mental boost, relieve stress and help with improved mental performance.

I didn't feel a sudden surge of energy but I did feel chilled out, although whether that had anything to do with the drink or not, I couldn't really tell you as I was watching TV at the time ! It was a lovely refreshing, delicious drink though and the natural ingredients are almost certainly better for you than many sodas on the market. 100g contains 45 calories so a 250ml can equates to just over a hundred calories.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £1.45 for a 250ml can

Scheckter's OrganicEnergy™ is available from Waitrose, Holland & Barrett and at health food stores nationwide

for more information : http://www.schecktersorganic.com/

Other reviews you may be interested in :

ASDA Play & Learn Baby's Hammer review


Well, as I expected, you've all been really excited about all my previous Asda Play & Learn reviews because they toys are not only fab but also really cheap so they're perfect for Christmas gifts on a tight budget. After the bricks (here and here), phone (here) and doctor's kit (here), this time we tried out the Baby's Hammer.

I'm always a bit worried about giving a hammer of any shape or form to kids because their first instinct is always, quite reasonably, to bash everything in sight, including any heads, dogs or fragile objects that may be in the vicinity ! Luckily, Asda have thought about this and put some firm but squishy sponge on both ends so at least that offers some protection.

Bashing something with the hammer (or just squishing the sponge, for younger babies) produces a gratifying series of fun sounds that will have young children (not to mention their older brothers and sisters) happily bashing away for ages ! Great news for parents is that the batteries are included so there'll be no frantic searching in drawers on Christmas morning !

As I've said on all the other Asda Play & Learn reviews, the toys are solidly made, exciting for kids, educational and above all, total bargains, with the Baby's Hammer costing a ridiculous £3. What's not to like ?!

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £3


Other reviews you may be interested in :

Silent Sunday


inspired by

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Slimpod review : Week Two of my Thinking Slimmer adventure


As I told you last week (here), despite being a serious sceptic to begin with, I've started listening to the weight loss hypnosis Slimpod. Just by listening to a ten-minute audio file once a day, the creators promise that you'll think yourself not only slimmer but happier as the Slimpod helps your subconscious mind make the right decisions on a day-to-day basis to find a healthier lifestyle.

Well, after just one week of listening to the Slimpod, I was amazed to see that I'd lost 1.8kg ! Totally unbelievable ! Sadly, this week the scales haven't budged by a single gram. But in some ways, that's a total victory because this week has been half term (for me as well as the kids) which means I'm at home, permanently in easy reach of the biscuit barrel and sweetie box, doing lots of baking with the girls and feeling duty-bound to eat all the breakfasts-in-bed (think biscuits, pain au chocolat and bread smothered in butter or jam or quite probably both !) that Sophie lovingly prepares. On top of that, yesterday was my birthday and I'd promised the girls that I'd take them to the eat-all-you-like buffet in the Chinese restaurant down the road. Taking all of that into account, I'd say a zero weightgain is a much better way of looking at it than a zero weightloss !

So what changes have I been noticing this week ?

1) I'm still guzzling loads of water. In the past, not only was I well aware that my liquid intake for the day was too low but when I reached for a drink, it was invariably diet coke, Sodastream or squash. Not any more - apart from a glass of orange juice in the morning, it's nearly all water !

2) I always used to finish my plateful of food, even if I wasn't hungry any more, subconsciously thinking it would be a waste to throw it in the bin. But my suconscious seems to have been retrained and I frequently stop when I no longer want to eat any more now. The only way I can explain it is that it's like, on a boozy night out, when you suddenly think "ooh I'm really feeling quite tipsy, I should probably stop drinking now". I now have a "you're actually quite full up now, you might as well stop eating" trip switch that I never used to have.

3) I'm not longer strangely drawn to the kids' sweetie bowl above the fridge or the biscuit stash in the cupboard whenever they're in view. And if I do feel like a chocolate or sweet, I just eat one and the cravings disappear. The "oh go on, just one more" mentality has totally evaporated.

4) I've switched over to salads at McDonalds and don't look longingly at everyone else eating burgers and chips, I'm happier eating salad and am convinced it tastes nicer. Seriously weird !

5) I was convinced the eat-all-you-like buffet would be a disaster and saw it as a serious test of the Slimpod's powers. Usually, it would be a plateful of starters, a main meal with a bit of everything on offer, a second helping of new dishes they've brought out since the first go, dessert involving a selection of mini scoops of ice cream from the self-service freezer. This time, without feeling as if I was depriving myself at all, I had a plateful of healthy salads as a starter, one plateful of main meal and, for dessert, despite going to the ice cream freezer for the kids, I opted for fresh melon, grapes and an apple fritter (that I ended up sharing with the kids). And I even walked out saying "wow, it feels so much nicer coming out feeling healthily full rather than overstuffed" !

6) I still haven't had the urge to go running or sign up to a gym but I am still playing energetic games with the kids at the park (football with Pierre mainly, this week !) and suggesting we go for a walk to a park further away than the one down the road or a long walk into town and back. We have also developed a new fun activity together - going off wandering down roads we've never taken before to see where they end up ! I'll need a new pair of trainers soon, at this rate !

7) One of the biggest changes though is that, instead of feeling disheartened about not losing weight this week and thinking "oh well, it's not working, I might as well have a slice of cake to console myself", I instead thought "that's still almost 1kg a week on average, it'll pick up again next week" !

Time will tell - see you in a week for the next instalment !

for more information : http://www.thinkingslimmer.co.uk/

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

NEW BABYSAFE VIDEO : BURNS - revise your basics before Bonfire Night !



On Monday 31st October Tesco BabySafe launches its burns video on the Tesco Care & Share website: www.tesco-baby.com/babysafe  


BabySafe - a nationwide child safety initiative by Tesco Baby & Toddler Club in conjunction with the British Red Cross aims to offer parents the essential tools and knowledge needed to face common childhood and baby accidents and ailments such as burns, choking, unconsciousness and Meningitis.


The campaign is hosting a series of how-to videos using experts from the British Red Cross. The second of this series of videos launches just in time for Bonfire Night so brush up on your first aid knowledge on burns from Monday.


Get your questions at the ready because on at 11am on Wednesday 2nd November an expert from the British Red Cross will be available to answer all questions during a Twitter chat on @TescoBabyClub.

Choking and burns are among the most common injuries requiring emergency treatment in the UK.


Key stats from research carried out by Tesco Baby & Toddler Club:

 
· 1 in 4 parents (25%) have had to administer first aid to a baby/child however 81% of parents in the UK don’t have the knowledge required to administer basic first aid to a baby or a child

· 72% of parents wouldn’t feel confident in administering first aid

· 60% of parents would be worried to do something wrong

· 54% would be worried to panic

· 47% would be worried to cause more damage

· 37% would be worried to feel helpless

· 31% would be worried to make the wrong diagnosis


Burns

There is a myth that the best thing to put on a burn is butter.

Putting butter or margarine on a burn is absolutely useless. Once the child gets to casualty, the substance will have to be removed, which could be painful. Nor should ice be used, as this can produce a cold burn on top of the hot burn. The most important thing to remember when dealing with a scald or burn is – cold running water for 10 minutes

Other blogposts you may be interested in :


Giveaway #133 - win 10 Ei204 Carbon Monoxide alarms - closed - winners @Moolboots @01592_katie @mumoffunkids @Beachpebble @littleboo_21 @mummy2five1 @hannahmdy @Smudger_26 @millylitre @_cathyj_

Earlier in the week, I told you (here) about the annual winter 'Be Alarmed!" campaign, raising awareness of the importance of kitting your home out with carbon monoxide alarms (not forgetting smoke detectors). I'm really pleased to be able to offer TEN Ei204 Carbon Monoxide alarms to lucky Madhouse Family Reviews readers. I always love giving these away because it feels as I'm actually doing a really important job and helping avoid danger.

for more information about the campaign, go to http://www.co-bealarmed.co.uk/

To be in with a chance of winning, just do the following two things :

(1) follow my blog with Google Friends Connect (over on the side bar on the right)


(2) leave me a comment in the comments box with a way of contacting you (twitter name or email). (If I don't hear back from you within a week, I'll have to pick another winner.)

Bonus entries :

You can do any or all of the following for bonus entries - just make sure you leave me one comment per entry so that they're all counted !

(1) Follow me on twitter (@cherylp59) and tweet about my comp - this is now dead easy if you click on the tweet button on the right-hand side bar. Feel free to shorten if necessary, or you can make up your own tweet. Make sure you copy in @cherylp59 so I can track this.

(2) I love reading your comments so leave me some extra comments on my other blogposts (maximum 5 - other giveaways don't count !) and I'll give you a bonus entry for each one. Just remember to leave me a comment here each time to tell me you've done so.

(3) Subscribe to my blog by email (near the top of the right-hand sidebar) so that all the new posts pop into your inbox in a handy digest every morning

(4) I've created a facebook page for Madhouse Family Reviews so I'd love for you to become a follower on there too - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Madhouse-Family-Reviews/144910798898626  


UK only. Closing date : 20/11/11


Other giveaways you may be interested in :




Loseley Summer Meadow Butter Christmas Pudding recipe

Well, my birthday's been and gone, Halloween is almost over and once that's out of the way, the next big thing to start preparing for is definitely Christmas. Why not skip the shop-bought Christmas puddings this year and get back to the old tradition of making your own ?

*****************************************************************


Why not really spoil family and friends by using only the best ingredients for this year’s Christmas Pudding. Loseley Summer Meadow Butter, the naturally spreadable 100% pure butter with no additives, along with holly and berries to decorate, will see a festive staple tradition transformed into the perfect gift for Christmas guests.


INGREDIENTS

Loseley Summer Meadow Butter 150g
Icing sugar 75g
Zest of orange 1
Egg yolks 2
Rum 1 tsp
Plain flour 250g


For the filling

Dates 200g
Sultanas 85g
Preserved ginger 50g
Apple 1 grated
Loseley Summer Meadow Butter 140g
70g light brown sugar
5 tbsp rum


For the Cumberland rum butter


Loseley Summer Meadow Butter 225g
Light brown sugar 450g
Rum 8 tbsp


METHOD


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Beat together the butter, icing sugar, orange zest, egg yolks and rum. Fold in the plain flour. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. When chilled, roll out the pastry and use it to line a pastry tin.

In a bowl, combine the dates, sultanas, preserved ginger and grated apple. Place the mixture on top of the pastry. Beat the butter, sugar and rum together. Spread over the fruit filling.

Cover with the remaining pastry, a lattice effect is recommended.

Bake for 10-15 minutes Reduce heat to 160°C/gas mark 2 for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the Cumberland rum butter, chop butter into small cubes and beat until soft. Gradually beat in the sugar until well combined. Then mix in rum, 2 tbsp at a time. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Loseley Summer Meadow Butter is packed in a 250g tub and available for £1.39p.



Loseley Chilled Foods are available from the chilled cabinet of local independent grocers, Morrisons and Waitrose. Visit http://www.loseley.com/  for more information.

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Yes! I'm Pregnant, now give me your seat...please badges

How many times have you spotted a woman who you would bet anything is pregnant during your commute, offered her your seat only to be told crossly that she is not pregnant? Embarrassing for you both and (even worse) has left you feeling scarred for life, so now you won't offer your seat again!



The sad part about it is that pregnant women need a seat. Forget the obvious dangers like falling when a bus does a hard stop, but increased hormones during pregnancy dies mean that mums-to-be are more susceptible to trips and falls, so it really doesn't take much for an accident to occur.



Then there is the nausea and dizziness that comes with tiredness and different fragrances during the commute, feeling too hot and getting dizzy again, not to mention swollen ankles, back pain, hip displacements (more imbalances)...



No - pregnancy isn't an illness, but there is a level of fragility that comes with carrying a baby bump for nine months, and so http://www.babyonboardbadge.co.uk/  has made it so commuting can be a little easier (and humorous) for commuters when they see a mum-to-be wearing one of 30-plus badge designs.


Cheeky and fun with slogans like 'Sprog about to drop', 'Bun in the oven' and more, they are designed to demystify and create banter, and... hopefully, get pregnant women sitting down on the tube, train, bus and tram - away from elbowing, shoving and pushing commuters.

Created by mum-of-two Joycellyn Akuffo, founder and editor of http://www.motherswhowork.co.uk/  who commuted and stood during both her pregnancies, the 58mm badges only cost £1.50 and are an essential addition to every mum-to-be's travel!

for more information : http://www.babyonboardbadge.co.uk/

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New free Boots Opticians app encourages improved eye health awareness


Boots Opticians is encouraging people to be more aware of their vision and eye health by becoming the first high street opticians to launch an eye care app. The Eye Check by Boots Opticians app has been developed because research reveals around one million children have an undiagnosed visual problem and 65% of the one in three people who fail a basic eye chart test are drivers.



Available to download for free, the app is not designed to replace comprehensive professional eye examinations by an optometrist, but is intended to offer people a simple and accessible way to better understand the significance of looking after their vision and eye health. Ultimately, the app aims to highlight the importance to users of having regular check-ups with a qualified optometrist.


The app takes users through four individual easy-to-use eye checks to help determine visual acuity (clearness of vision), astigmatism (a cause of blurred vision), duochrome (to assess focus) and a colour check. At each step the app explains what the check is looking for and gives users a pass or fail score as well as a percentage rating for both the left and right eye. Users are then given recommendations based on their results.

The app also includes eye health advice and a Boots Opticians finder to allow users to easily locate their nearest Boots Opticians where a full professional examination can be given by a qualified optometrist.


Stephen Remington, Chief Executive of Action for Blind People, says: “Many people lose their sight because early signs of eye disease go undetected. To become blind or partially sighted because you couldn’t find time to get your eyes tested is a terrible waste. If the new eye check app from Boots Opticians helps encourage people to be more aware of their eye health, this will be a very positive step towards highlighting the importance of regular check-ups.”



Carolyn Norman, Boots Optometrist, says “We know that one in three people have not had an eye test for at least two years. The new app is not a replacement for visiting your opticians, but instead has been designed as a convenient tool to empower people to take a more informed and proactive approach to their vision and eye health so that they understand the importance of having a professional eye examination.”


Eye Check by Boots Opticians, is available to download now for iPhone.

Please note : Boots Opticians knows it's important to look after our health and to have a full eye test at least every 2 years. Eye tests aren’t just about checking if you need glasses, but can also detect other health problems. Boots developed this app to encourage everyone to have a full eye test at one of our 650 Boots Opticians practices nationwide. It is a fun way to check your vision through a series of simple tests, but it does not replace a professional eye examination.


An annual sight test conducted by an optometrist is recommended for children up to the age of 16 and those over 60, and at least every two years for all other adults. Regular eye exams by an optometrist help make sure eyes are healthy and may also identify early signs of systematic health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure



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Friday, 28 October 2011

Cathedral City Chedds review



Here at the Madhouse, all three of the kids love cheese, whether that be a chunk chopped off the ubiquitous block of cheddar inevitably hiding in the fridge, some of Daddy's stinky French cheeses or the kid-friendly options such as Cheestrings and Dairylea traingles. I therefore instantly knew that we were on to a winner when given the opportunity to review, Chedds, a new range of children's cheese snacks from Cathedral City.


The new range comprises three different products : Nibbles (6 x 18g mini bags of tiny cubes of cheese), Bricks (8 individually wrapped 18g bricks in each bag) and Cheese & Toasties (3 x snack sachets with 6 mini slices of Cheddar and 6 melba toast). All three mini-testers loved all three products but their favourite by far was the Cheese & Toasties, because it was different and more exciting than the usual way they eat cheese. The Nibbles were perfect for 2 year old Pierre and would be a great way to introduce cheese to very young children. The bricks were the least exciting format because it was just like chopping a chunk off a big block.

 

All three snacks are a relatively healthy option, ideal for lunchboxes or snacks on the go, because they are made from 100% real cheddar and are therefore a good source of calcium. The manufacturers explain : "With all the smooth, mild flavour of Cathedral City, Chedds is tasty and nutritious and the perfect snack for growing children. Made from 100% real Cheddar, Chedds is a great source of calcium with each mini pack containing at least 24% of the RNI for children aged 7-10 years."



The multipack bags are great for planning ahead for school lunchboxes and the kids love the little bags featuring the cheeky Chedds mouse and fun facts and jokes. The packaging was a bit difficult to get into for Juliette though, bearing in mind that she'd be left to fend for herself at lunch and may not manage to open the pack.

On the subject of lunchboxes, Cathedral City have come up with a week's worth of inspiration for healthy kids' lunchboxes, which you can see below.

Healthy Packed Lunch Boxes

 
Monday

* Tuna and sweetcorn sandwich (2 slices of wholemeal bread filled with 45g tuna in water, 2tbsp sweetcorn in water and 2tsp light mayo)
* 1 carrot peeled and cut into sticks
* 1 Chedds Bricks
* 1 pear
* 1 pot low-fat fruit yogurt (125g)
* Bottle of water

Tuesday

* Couscous, red pepper and chick pea salad (180g cooked couscous, ½ diced red pepper, 2tbsp chick peas, 2tsp toasted pine nuts, lemon juice and coriander)
* 1 Chedds Nibbles
* 1 slice canteloupe melon cut into chunks
* 1tbsp raisins
* Bottle of water

Wednesday

* Hummus and carrot wrap (1 wrap filled with 3tbsp hummus and 1 grated carrot)
* 1 hard-boiled egg
* 1 Chedds Cheese & Toasties
* 5 strawberries
* 1 satsuma
* Bottle of water

Thursday

* Egg and tomato pitta (1 pitta filled with 1 hard-boiled egg mashed with 2tsp light mayo, and 1 sliced tomato)
* 1 Chedds Nibble
* Strawberry, grape and melon salad (40g each)
* 1 pot low-fat fruit yogurt (125g)
* Bottle of water

Friday

* Chicken, pasta, pea and pesto salad (150g cooked wholewheat pasta with 50g shredded roast chicken breast, 1tbsp peas and 1tbsp pesto)
* 5 cherry tomatoes
* 1 Chedds Bricks
* Small bunch of seedless grapes (10 grapes)
* 1 pot low-fat fruit yogurt (125g)
* Bottle of water


star rating : 4/5

RRP :  £1.99 per multipack for each of the varieities


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