Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Maternity March, a month celebration of motherhood - live webchat with midwives

I can't believe just how many of you are pregnant at the moment - it's almost enough to make me start feeling broody but only ALMOST !! - so I thought you might be interested in this email that popped into my inbox earlier.

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Maternity March, a month celebration of motherhood being organised by University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW), begins on Thursday (1st March) and we wanted to let you know how you can get involved online.
 
·        We will be hosting a live web chat with midwives on Friday 2 March and another with Consultant Obstetrician Siobhan Quenby, one of the world’s leading experts on recurrent miscarriage, on Friday 30 March.  They will talk about working in one of the country’s busiest maternity units and will answer questions in real time.

·        The web chats will take place at www.uhcw.nhs.uk/webchat, with the first taking place between 12.30 - 1.30pm on Friday 2 March.  Questions can be submitted beforehand via the website, by emailing info@uhcw.nhs.uk or via Twitter, using the hashtag #MaternityMarch.

·        On 23 March we will also be holding the UK ’s first 12 hour Tweetathon, tweeting live from the maternity unit as @nhsuhcw.  You can submit questions for the maternity team via Twitter using the hashtag #MaternityMarch.

Follow us throughout the month to hear about the remarkable women and babies who visit UHCW, and the staff who look after them.  For more information about maternity services at UHCW, visit: http://www.uhcw.nhs.uk/our-services/a-z-of-services?sID=117




Other blogposts you may be interested in :



Xia Xia Interactive Hermit Crab and Confetti Cottage review



When we were offered the chance to review an Interactive Hermit Crab, my first thought was, "that's not very cute, I wonder what the girls will make of it" ! Well, I needn't have worried, the Xia-Xia crabs are incredibly cute and all three Madhouse Mini-Testers loved the one we received. "The what crab?", I hear you ask. Well, we weren't quite sure either - the girls started off with "kseea kseea", then went on to "exia exia" before I half-heartedly suggested "Zsa Zsa" but to be honest, none of us had a clue how it's pronounced ! In the end, I went to look online and discovered we were all wrong - it's pronounced Sha-Sha!




There are four Xia-Xia hermit crabs in the initial collection, each with its own detachable hermit shell which houses a micro collectable friend. I love the names of the crabs - you can choose between Trinidad, the orange one with the buggy eyes; Tobago, the smiley blue one; Bimini, the pink one with a cupcake-shaped shell; and - the one that we received - Turks.

 As luck would have it, Turks was the one that the girls liked the most, partly for her name, which reminded them of our holidays in Turkey for the last two years, and partly for her cute pigtails and the little hearts on her claws. See ? I was totally wrong when I said hermit crabs couldn't be cute. Who'd have thought it ?!

But that's just the beginning of the fun. If you push the crab's claws, it moves across the floor in a crazy  scuttling motion and, if it bumps into something, it changes direction. This had the kids in hysterics and they kept putting things - often their hands and feet ! - in the way and squealing in delight when it bumped into them and ran away ! The crazy way of moving around reminded me of Zhu-Zhu Pets so I was only half surprised to see that Xia-Xia and Zhu-Zhu are made by the same people (which is actually quite obvious if you think about the names !).

 Each crab has a secret hidden miniature toy/friend underneath their shell (a cupcake for Bimini, a little globe for Tobago, an alarm clock for Trinidad and a little Eskimo-like character for Turks) and the shells are interchangeable, so the idea is that you collect the whole lot and have fun swapping their shells and mini toys around to give them a new look. Each crab needs 2 x LR44 batteries but the good news (for once !) is that these are included.



We also received a Confetti Cottage to review, which is just one of the playsets that are available. The manufacturers explain : "Choose from the Confetti Cottage or experience the Rio de Trio Village with its kooky under-the-sea styling! Alternatively, try the CopacabaƱa Playset. It's big enough for a whole family of Xia-Xia to live in and has lots for these inquisitive little crabs to explore!"

I have to admit that, as a grown-up, I was initially slightly underwhelmed by the Confetti Cottage. It has a door, window and drop down front but that's it. However, the girls were very enthusiastic because it doubles up as a carry case so if they want to take their crab to their friends' houses, they can. It's also a great way of storing them safely so the little bits don't get lost.

As with all collectibles, the playsets are designed to fit together to create a big world and the crabs are more fun if you buy several to swap all the accessories around. It could therefore end up being quite an expensive collection to start, but the Madhouse mini-testers were really enthusiastic, finding the crabs cute and the movements really funny.

Xia-Xia crabs are being marketed as girls' collectibles but Pierre loves them too (although, at 2 years old, he's too small to play with the miniature toys inside the shells) so they could easily be marketed at kids of both sexes.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £9.99 for each Xia-Xia hermit crab, £9.99 for Cofetti Cottage

for more information : www.character-online.co.uk



New Heinz Salad Cream With Onion & Chives review & a competition



When Heinz first started faffing about with the recipe of their classic Salad Cream that generations of Brits (including me) have loved, my gut instinct was to scream "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Then they sent me some samples of their new varieties - Cucumber & Dill (that we reviewed here) and Lemon & Black Pepper (that we reviewed here) - and I had to admit that they were absolutely delicious too, opening up a whole new horizon of taste combinations in the kitchen. Last week, I was given the opportunity of becoming one of the first "taste testers" for their brand new Onion & Chives Salad Cream and yesterday, we received a lovely delivery of all the ingredients we need to try out a few of their specially created recipes.


Once I've tried them out, I'll be back to tell you all about them but in the meantime, we've had a sneaky taste in a cheese and ham sandwich and can already tell you it got a resounding thumbs up. I think this would be absolutely delicious as a sauce for beetroot salad or mixed in to mashed potatoes too. The recipes that we will be trying though are for Picnic Rolls, Mediterranean Tarts and Italian Pasta Salad. Hmmm can't wait !

If you'd like to try out the new variety, Heinz are giving fans the opportunity to create their ‘ultimate sandwich’ with the chance for their creation to be chosen and sampled by the public on Heinz’s ‘Ultimate Sandwich Tour’ round the UK. All fans need to do is head to the app on the official Facebook page before Friday 9th March. By entering the “Ultimate Sandwich” competition fans will have an exclusive opportunity to go in the draw to win a bottle of the new variety before it is available in the shops. Heinz will then take six of the top creations on the road to popular Heinz Salad Cream fan locations around Britain and give the public a chance to buy an ultimate Heinz Salad Cream sandwich. To get a free Heinz Salad Cream with Onion & Chives sandwich, fans simply download a coupon from Facebook and take it along to the nearest Heinz Salad Cream with Onion & Chives sandwich van, this March. Get in quick and feel free to share your "ultimate sandwich" ideas here too !


Other reviews you may be interested in :

Giveaway #167 : Win a love2read personalised reading book for your child - closed - winner @ericahughes

Mum's the word!
Madhouse Family Reviews is happy to offer one lucky winner the opportunity to create their own personalised My mum…love2read book in our fabulous competition
Mums will love being the star of the bedtime story, so love2read has come up with the perfect Mother's Day gift in the form of a unique, personalised book. Their range of books can be personalised by adding ten photos and text to the pages e.g. “My mum is beautiful”, “My mum makes me laugh” or “My mum loves me”. 
All you have to do is upload ten suitable photographs of Mum or Granny into a virtual book at www.love2read.co.uk and add some simple text. Your book will be printed and sent to your home address within 10 days. Titles include: My mummy…Our mum… and My granny…
The books are themed around National Curriculum keywords and are designed to stimulate the child’s interest in books so that they really want to read. No software is needed, the website is easy to use and you can even save your book as you go along if you need to come back to it later.
This year, give a Mother's Day gift the whole family will treasure forever - and help your child catch the reading bug at the same time.

For further information and to see the range of books on offer please visit their website at:  www.love2read.co.uk
To enter the competition simply answer this question and follow the instructions below:
How many photographs do you need to upload to create a love2read book?


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

(1) leave me a comment on one of my blogposts (other giveaways don't count)


(2) leave me a comment in the comments box here with a way of contacting you (twitter name or email) and tell me which of my blogposts you commented on. Don't forget to answer the question above in red.


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 competition. You can use the handy retweet button over in my side bar or write your own tweet but make sure you copy in @cherylp59 so I can track this



(2)Follow Love2read books on facebook and tell them I sent you.


(3) 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.


(4) 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


(5) add a +k klout point to @cherylp59 on Klout and tell me which category you added it to


(6) follow me on pinterest (over on my sidebar) and/or pin one of my images (tell me which one)


(7) "favourite" this blog on Technorati by clicking on the button in my sidebar


(8) follow my blog with google friends connect (over in the sidebar)


(9) click on the google +1 button over in my sidebar 
UK only. Closing date : 10/3/12
Other giveaways you may be interested in :
   

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

THE MINI BABYBEL GET CREATIVE LIST


A report released today by the University of Edinburgh shows that creativity in children has seriously declined in the last 30 years, meaning they might lack essential social and interactive skills necessary for success in later life, veering Britain towards a creativity crisis.

In response to these findings, Mini Babybel has launched a campaign encouraging families to get creative and have fun doing so. Fronted by celebrity dad Jeff Brazier, the campaign is set to raise awareness of the importance of creativity in a child’s development, highlighting ways parents can actively encourage children to use their imagination in order to help the next generation be successful.

Despite a third of mums and dads worrying their children aren’t spending enough time being creative, 1 in 7 parents spend less than an hour a week solely dedicated to their children’s creativity needs.
 
Knowing how to encourage creativity is a parenting skill that 1 in 3 parents would like to improve upon, especially as 48% of parents noticed a marked improvement in their children’s behaviour when they set them inventive tasks.

To help parents encourage their kids to be more creative, Professor John Davis has suggested a list of 15 things parents can do with their children, designed with creativity and fun in mind. The list can be found at www.babybel.co.uk.

THE MINI BABYBEL GET CREATIVE LIST
 
1.       Provide quality/rich creative environments: Continue to give children opportunities from the earliest age to be creative with everyday things in the home – what would they like to build with cartons, plastic bottles, kitchen roll tubes and cereal boxes?; what collages or pictures would they create with cut outs from old magazines?; and what shaped bubbles can they make from soapy water?
 
2.       Children should experience opportunities for collaborative creativity: Encourage children to talk about and share their ideas with one another in creative ways using rhymes, songs or make believe stories - teachers/parents should go with the flow and play off the child’s view
 
3.       Parents can encourage everyday creativity into home routines e.g. finding different ways to measure quantities for baking. Letting children try out their own ideas for recipes and decorating cakes may not taste the greatest, but you can have fun conjuring up your child’s unique creations!
 
4.       Arts and Crafts don’t have to be expensive – what shapes and letters can you make with old wrappers, gift paper and clothing? Ask children to use different textures for different letters to create a fun, textured alphabet
 
5.       Why not challenge older children to think about local issues they find important and how they can make a difference? They could develop a poster to send to a local MP or councillor to give them another prod about that new play equipment or sports pitch that they are always promising to do something about. Older children love a sense of responsibility and you will be amazed at their creative solutions
 
6.       What about role play and drama ? – can you use household materials to make hats or masks? Ask children what their hat would be about and then encourage them to create a role play game with their friends/school mates – alternatively they could use dolls or play figures
 
7.       Pretend your coat is a magic carpet – where in the world will it take you? 
 
8.       On rainy days, blow up a balloon and have a quick game of keeping the balloon up using hands, arms, feet, toes, heads, noses, knees – it’s a great way to teach young children different words, to develop hand/eye coordination and to keep older children fit (and much safer than the football!).  With older children you could add in a bit of numeracy by rolling a couple of dice to see how many times you have to keep the balloon up
 
9.       With older children you can also develop a creative enquiry activity. For example they could do a green zone audit of your home and make a plan on how it could become more environmentally friendly – a trip to the local library might enable them to find out some top tips or a look online if you have web access
 
10.   Plan play that involves some ‘risk’ – outdoors, children will encounter nettles which might sting and most children may trip when playing. Could you play a ‘who can see the tripping spot’ game at the local park or ask your child/children what they would like to do outdoors? The skill is to talk about, understand and plan the risk involved in play – can you encourage your child to self-assess the risks e.g. when climbing a tree can they judge when they can climb themselves and when they want help? 
 
11.   Celebrate the benefits of learning by doing, using scenarios and joint solving of problems – for example, you could set your children the task of going with you to the supermarket and staying within a budget – the activity could start with them having to make a map from memory to direct you there, you could also play ‘I spy’ on the way
 
12.   Children enjoy building strong creative relationships with their friends. Many children’s party games involve a single winner, however the idea of fairness can be encouraged when children win together. For example, using different coloured sweets (or cakes/biscuits) and a set of scales, two teams of children put on or take off 1, 2 or 3 sweets on either side of the set of scales. The teams win when they balance the scales and each get to share and eat what is on their scale
 
13.   Young children love meeting other children and somewhere near you is a local park with, for example, a sandpit that provides a great place for kids to get stuck in and really enjoy themselves!
 
14.   Children will be inventive with whatever they find, making drum sticks out of pencils/pens, and drums out of toys – the noise can be off putting but stop and think for a minute – are you really feeling that uncreative or can you join in with a makeshift tambourine and encourage them?
 
15.   Parents and Teachers need to value ambiguity, ask open ended questions, encourage experimentation, model creative working, appreciate unexpected contributions, value fantasy/imagination, allow children to take charge, discuss conflicting/connecting ideas and promote persistence – so next time your child comes back with that onerous homework activity, avoid getting tired and grumpy and view it as just another adventure on the road to creativity!

 for more information : www.babybel.co.uk

Other blogposts you may be interested in :
  

The Furniture is Alive - A Peek 'n Play Story App review


When the creators of Billie The Unicorn (that we reviewed here) and The Year of the Dragon (that we reviewed here) got in touch to ask if I'd like to review their latest Peek 'n Play Story App, The Furniture Is Alive, they warned me that it was slightly spooky and said, " Your older kids should have no problem with it but you may want to take a peek first before handing it off to your youngest because every kid is different and I do not want anybody in your house freaking out because the sofa is giving them the heebie jeebies" !


Well, they're spot on. The app tells the tale of a little boy, left alone for a few minutes while his mum pops next door, who imagines all of the furniture turning into creepy monsters out to get him. While the girls can look at it and laugh, recognising their childhood fears and overactive imaginations, I didn't want to give Pierre any ideas, especially as a few weeks ago he was freaked out about having a monster in his bedroom !


As with the other Peek 'n' Play apps we've reviewed, you can use it in "read to me" or "I can read" mode, tapping on individual words if you get stuck, or even watch it as a movie. Most pages have interactive elements that you can tap to make things happen (and for younger kids, you can turn on hints to help find them). 

It's an enjoyable storybook app which reminded me of a slightly scarier version of The Cat in the Hat ! The illustrations are cleverly designed so you can see why the little boy sees the houselhold objects morphing into monsters. You can also really relate to his attempt to justify why the house has been trashed and his mum's disbelief so it's a cute story that parents and kids can read together.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £2.99


Other reviews you may be interested in :

 

Oxfam Gifts for Mother's Day


With Mothering Sunday just around the corner, Oxfam have put out a plea to NOT say it with flowers this year, asking you to consider their wide range of gifts on offer for sons and daughters to surprise their mums with a present that can also make a lasting difference.

Oxfam gifts range from chocolates, jewellery and home wares to Unwrapped charity gifts specially selected for mother’s day, meaning you need to look no further that Oxfam to find the perfect present for mum this year.



From L-R:
Loving letters to mum - This case bound journal contains 90 leaves of recycled paper £5.99
Hand in hand… - Restorative hand cream £5.99
Soothing seaweed - Enrich your mind and skin with this refreshing shower gel and bath foam made with organic deep sea harvested seaweed £4.49
Cute as a button – Vintage button jewellery kit £14.99
Creative mums - Fair Trade stars sewing box £14.99
Divine White Chocolates  & Strawberry Hearts £3.99 (Available from March)
Fairtrade Mother’s Day card £2.99
Unwrapped – Care For Mums £16

For more details : http://www.oxfam.org.com/shop

This year Oxfam have also added a special mother’s day gift to their Unwrapped collection called 'Care for mums'.

In Ghana, around 75 women die each week because of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Since Ghana’s government made health care free for all pregnant women, nearly half a million women have received expert care. Oxfam continues to campaign for free health care for all, so that mothers can access the treatment they need.  But in addition to this, the charity are also training birth attendants and midwives to provide life-saving care.

By purchasing this gift for your mums it also gives you the chance to make a difference to thousands more mothers across the globe by helping make sure they get the support they need and deserve.

For more info on this particular gift please visit www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/content/unwrapped/mothers-day.html

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

 

How to cook squash - video & recipe from Riverford Organic

Riverford Organic have come up with a video full of advice on how to cook squash, which you can see below. (They have also kindly provided a cookbook that I will be giving away very soon so watch this space.) I would never have thought of using a potato peeler to peel squash but it looks so simple.


Now that you know how to prepare squash, I thought you might also like this recipe for Squash Risotto, also from Riverford.





Riverford began in Devon in 1987, delivering to 30 local homes. Word spread, and with it came the challenge of how to meet demand without compromising a commitment to local growing and employment, supporting local farmers and keeping a close link between grower and consumer.

The solution was to team up with sister farms who share the same ethos, growing and delivering to their local areas. There are now four Riverford sister farms in the UK: the original Wash Farm in Devon, growing and delivering to homes in the South West and South East; Sacrewell Farm in Cambridgeshire covering East Anglia and the Midlands; Home Farm in North Yorkshire covering the North and Upper Norton Farm in Hampshire covering central Southern England. Together, the four sister farms deliver to around 40,000 homes in the UK each week.

The company has won many awards including Best Online Retailer 2010 and 2011, and Best Ethical Business 2009 in the Observer Ethical Awards, Best Organic Retailer 2009 and the Fruit and Vegetable category in the 2009 Soil Association Awards.

Its restaurant the Riverford Field Kitchen won Best Ethical Restaurant 2009 and 2010 in the Observer Food Monthly Awards. Riverford‟s first book, the Riverford Farm Cook Book, was published in September 2008 by Fourth Estate and won Best First Book 2009 and Work on British Food 2009 at the Guild of Food Writers Awards. This was followed by a second book in 2011,Everyday and Sunday, Recipes from Riverford Farm.

In 2010 Riverford launched a “Riverford Cooks” campaign to inspire people to cook from scratch using a vegbox. Riverford Cooks work up and down the country in their local communities on activities from cooking lunches in people‟s homes through to public cookery workshops and demos. To find out about events in your local area and swap recipe ideas join the online Riverford Cooks community at http://cooks.riverford.co.uk.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :
 
Gourmet Raw Vegetable Crisps review
Shake Up Your Wake Up recipe : Breakfast Energy Bars
Slow Cooker Recipe : Greek-Style Lamb, Potato & Thyme Kleftiko


Monday, 27 February 2012

Gourmet Raw Brownies review


I've just reviewed Gourmet Raw's raw vegetable crisps (here) and told you about the concept behind a raw food diet. Well, Gourmet Raw also kindly sent me a box containing a selection of their raw brownies. The box contained :

• cacao cocobanana brownie
• cacao cashew brownie
• cacao mint brownies
• carob orange brownie
• carob hazelnut brownie

Gourmet Raw say themselves : "Delicious, sweet brownies don’t sound like healthy food, do they? But they’re nothing to feel guilty about. All our brownies are packed full of the very best ingredients, responsibly sourced and really tasty." Just like the raw vegetable crisps, they are raw, vegan, organic, 100% natural, non‐GM, and dairy, wheat and gluten free.


All well and good but do they pass the taste test ? Well, I decided to try a mint brownie but I had a hard time choosing because they all look so indulgent and delicious. As you can see from the picture, the brownie was deliciously gooey and moist, tasting of cocoa more than actual chocolate, with a delicate, natural minty flavour - very nice indeed. It does have a slightly powdery aftertaste that you don't get with normal chocolatey brownies but it's a small price to pay for a healthy treat and doesn't detract from enjoying the brownie.

They are quite high in calories - 200+ calories per bar - but they contain no nasties and nothing but pure, natural ingredients specifically chosen for their health benefits. They have a high mineral content and a low GI.

***If you buy online on the Gourmet Raw website, you can use my affiliate code GR008 which gives you a 10% discount. ***

star rating : 4/5


RRP : £19.90 for 10 brownies 



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


Other reviews you may be interested in :


Gourmet Raw Vegetable Crisps review



Gourmet Raw believes in making healthy tasty food that’s actually good for you. They don’t cook their ingredients - they keep them raw so they retain all the enzymes and nutrients that occur naturally. With all the enzymes and nutrients alive and well, Gourmet Raw foods will therefore boost your system, aid digestion and help you take on more energy. Well, that all sounds fabulous but what do their products actually taste like ? We received a couple of bags of their raw crisps to review.

Initial reactions weren't very positive. As I poured them out of the bags on to the plates, the Madhouse Mini-Testers said "yuck, they look like squares of cardboard" ! The uniformly cut square shapes and off-putting brownish colour are, admittedly, less appealing than normal crisps but if they're a healthier option and actually taste nice, I'd be more than willing to overlook the visual aspect.



We started off with the Spicy Thai carrot ones, which are made of sprouted buckwheat, flaxseed, fresh carrots, lemongrass and a hint of lime. Taste-wise, they actually reminded me a bit of the Jenny Craig Carrot and Coriander Soup that I'd eaten the day before. The kids weren't overly keen but still kept nibbling them.


They slightly preferred the look and taste of the beetroot ones, turning them all over so that they were purple side up (they have one brownish side and one purplish side) because they said they looked nicer ! They're a bit sweeter and not as spicy as the carrot ones so they got a better reception from the kids.




The red pepper ones were their favourites though, partly for the taste but also I think because they have a more normal crisp colour.I have to say that to be perfectly honest, we all thought that they are not as tasty as proper crisps, but because they are so much healthier, we would eat them again. They're also great for putting in kids lunchboxes or offering with pre-dinner drinks, for anyone trying to watch their waistline.

Ingredients-wise, they are faultless. They contain about 150-200 calories per 40g bag but, as Gourmet Raw explain, they are "the perfect snack, with nothing to feel guilty about: made from sprouted buckwheat, which is full of protein and fibre, Gourmet Raw then add locally grown vegetables, herbs and seeds that are crammed full of vitamins and minerals. Each variant is slowly dried  in order to retain all the naturally occurring enzymes and nutrients present in the carefully selected ingredients. Every packet contains no preservatives, binders or chemicals...just 100% natural ingredients packed with goodness."


They are 100% natural, organic, dairy free, wheat free, raw & living, gluten free, vegan, non GM and prepared under 40.5 ̊C. (A raw food diet is based on the belief that the most healthy food for the body is uncooked. Although most food is eaten raw, heating food is acceptable as long as the temperature stays below 40.5°C.)


Followers of the raw diet believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.  It is also thought that the cooking process destroys vitamins and minerals and that cooked foods not only take longer to digest, but they also allow partially digested fats, proteins and carbohydrates to clog up our gut and arteries.

To be honest, I have no idea if all that is true or not but I do know that these raw crisps are a much healthier option than fat-laden regular crisps so, especially while I'm being careful about what I eat, they're the perfect option.

***If you buy online on the Gourmet Raw website, you can use my affiliate code GR008 which gives you a 10% discount. ***

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £1.99 for 40g 


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

Other reviews you may be interested in :


Kids' app review : Miffy's Garden


Miffy has been popular with generations of kids so when the chance came up to review a new kids' app featuring the cute bunny, all three of the Madhouse Mini-testers wanted to get involved with the reviewing, even if it is designed for toddlers and pre-schoolers !


The app is basically a storybook app, with a very simple story about Miffy growing carrots in her garden. It has a few nice extra features though, which the kids loved. First of all, for the story itself, you can listen to the narrator (who sounds like the voice of Masterchef to me !) reading it to you or you can record it yourself so that you can have a familiar voice - maybe the grandparents or a sibling - reading the story. If you have a beginner reader, they will also be very proud to record themselves reading the story.

There are some simple but fun interactive bits, taking you through the different processes for growing carrots - digging the soil, raking it, sowing seed, watering it, digging up the carrots and putting them in the basket. 2-year-old Pierre got all excited because he could manage it all and make the story progress !



There are also three very simple games that you can play at the end - counting carrots, matching objects to their shadows and creating your own garden. 

The girls both recognised the app as being based on the book ‘Miffy’s garden’ by Dick Bruna and loved it because it made them nostalgic but Pierre, who has never come across the book before, also loved it in its own right so it obviously has great appeal for its target audience.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £2.49



New Covent Garden Soups of the World : Jammin' Jamaica review


When I was asked if I'd like to try out one of the new soups from New Covent Garden's Soups of the World range, I scrolled down to see what the new and probably totally unexpected flavour would be and totally freaked myself out ! The soup they told me about is called Jammin' Jamaica, which they describe as a soup "composed of a velvety smooth blend of sweet potatoes, red pepper and coconut, infused with a spicy jerk seasoning". So what's freaky about that, you're wondering ? Well, just the day before, I had submitted a recipe for the New Soup competition for a soup containing Jamaican Jerk chicken, with pineapple, red pepper, onion and sweet potato. (I blogged about it here if you don't believe me !) What are the odds on that happening ?! Apart from putting pineapple instead of coconut, the combination of ingredients is identical. Great minds think alike, huh ?!

Well, needless to say, I was keen to see what their version of "my" Jamaican-inspired soup would taste like so we bought some last week, using the voucher that NCG had kindly sent. It's gorgeous, and I have to say, I think the coconut probably does work even better than the pineapple would have done !

The soup has been specially designed to bring some sunshine to bleak February days. They explain : "The first Monday in February is traditionally dreaded by employers across the country.  ‘Blue Monday’ is the day when miserable Brits are most likely to call in sick as bad weather, winter colds and sniffles and post-Christmas blues become too much to bear. Jammin’ Jamaica’s aromatic blend of Caribbean sweet potato and spices will bring rays of colourful sunshine to even the greyest of days."

What’s more, the exotic recipe is packed with a rainbow of spices thought to have the following properties known to keep colds and flu at bay:
 
  • Turmeric – natural anti septic, anti inflammatory and antioxidant
  • Chilli – antibacterial, decongestant, serotonin boosting
  • Ginger – soothing, warming , anti inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti oxidant
  • Garlic – antioxidant, antibacterial
  • Cinnamon – warming, cleansing, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial
  • Coriander – packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamin C 
A serving only contains 162 calories which is great if you're trying to lose a few pounds for your New Year's resolution. Jammin' Jamaica is one of the new Soups of the World range, which includes Mexican Chipotle Chicken , Moroccan Tagine and Thai Chicken.
 
star rating : 5/5


RRP : £2.10 for 600g


for more information : http://www.newcoventgardensoup.com/ncgs-product-range/jammin-jamaica


Other blogposts you may be interested in :

New Covent Garden Soup of the Month competition : 'The World Unites in London' 
The Madhouse creates a potential New Covent Garden Soup of the month ! 
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Allinson Inspires You To Grow Your Own

I just wanted to give you a quick heads-up about a grow-your-own Herb Garden kit promotion that will be running on Allinson bread products from next week.

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From Thomas Allinson - a very modern Victorian
"A man is what he eats"
Thomas Allinson 1892

 In the late 19th century Thomas Allinson sowed the seeds of healthy living and was a firm believer in the importance of fresh produce, prescribing the consumption of at least two salads per week. Inspired by his passion for vegetables and herbs, Allinson is now providing you with the tools to enjoy the simple pleasure of home-grown food, along with good wholemeal bread, with a grow-your-own Herb Garden kit.

Containing a selection of parsley, chives and basil seeds, the Herb Garden kit includes all you need to grow your own herb garden. 

Parsley - no kitchen should be without a good supply of this multi-purpose herb. It can be used as a garnish and flavouring.
Basil - a versatile and widely used aromatic herb. Basil is an annual plant that is easy to grow from seed but is very sensitive to cold.
Chives - the smallest and most delicately flavoured member of the onion family, chives are a popular herb used in European cookery.

Continuing Thomas Allinson's philosophy for healthy eating why not incorporate these herbs into some of your everyday meals such as our...


POACHED SALMON AND WATERCRESS SANDWICH WITH BASIL MAYONNAISE

Delicious poached salmon served with watercress and mayonnaise flavoured with fresh basil leaves. Try using any of your favourite herbs: chives, tarragon, parsley or dill would all work well.

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: None
Serves 1

Ingredients
2-3 large fresh basil leaves (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 slices Allinson Wholemeal Batch bread
A large handful of watercress leaves, woody stalks removed
6-8 cucumber ribbons (see cook's tip)
85g (3oz) poached salmon, flaked
2-3 teaspoons of ready prepared mayonnaise (or use your own favourite recipe)

Method
Finely chop the basil leaves and stir into the mayonnaise. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Chill until ready to use.

Spread a little basil mayonnaise over each slice of bread. Arrange the watercress, cucumber ribbons and flaked salmon over the top of one piece of bread and sandwich with the remaining piece. Press together gently and cut in half to serve.

Cook's tip:
Use a vegetable peeler to peel down the length of a whole cucumber to create the cucumber ribbons.


Tokens for Allinson's grow-your-own Herb Garden kits will be available from March to June 2012. Simply collect and send off six tokens from packs within the Allinson Bread range (plus a £2 contribution to cover postage and packaging) in order to obtain your complimentary Herb Garden kit. Alternatively you collect and send three tokens from packs along with a cheque for £5 ( which includes postage and packaging).   For further information visit www.allinsonbread.com