Sunday, 30 September 2012

Interplay Wild Science Kits for Girls and for Boys review

I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from some of you already and I haven't even got past the title ! If you recognise yourself in that description then please read through to the end, the kits are actually very good. It's just the gender-stereotyped packaging that is totally anachronistic.

You must all have heard the rhyme :

What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And all things nice,
That's what little girls are made of

According to Wikipedia, this well-known nursery rhyme dates from the early nineteenth century or possibly even earlier, but it's obviously exactly what the Interplay marketing team had in mind when they came up with the concept for their Wild Science Kits for Girls and Wild Science Kits for Boys.

You've guessed it. Girls get to choose between Wild Science Perfume Laboratory (£12.99), Luxury Soap Science (£12.99), Bath Bomb Factory (£12.99), Lip Balm Laboratory (£12.99) and the Face Mask Laboratory (£12.99). Boys get the choice of Volcano Factory (£12.99), Hyperlauncher Rocket Ball Factory (£12.99) and the Weird Slime Laboratory (£12.99). The girls' kits come in pink/purple boxes and the boys' come in blue boxes and, just to make sure the message has really hit home, you see girls on the pink boxes and boys on the blue ones.

When I was asked if I had a child who would like to review one of the boys' or girls' kits, I replied that I had two girls who would love to make slime and volcanoes just as much as face masks and perfumes and that I'm sure they're not the only ones. Although the beauty products ones will obviously appeal to girls, I think it's a real shame to focus on the other kits being aimed at boys.

I won't labour the point though - packaging and dodgy marketing strategy aside, the kits themselves are actually pretty good.

11-year-old Sophie (who was totally oblivious to my reaction as per above) thought the Face Mask Laboratory looked fabulous fun. She has already tried out similar kits to make perfume, shampoo and lip balm and she was really proud of being able to use - and share with the rest of the family - real products that she had made herself.

The blurb says : "Another Christmas treat for girls would be the Face Mask Laboratory (£12.99) which has been given its own makeover for 2012. The kit allows girls to create their own clay face masks using the same ingredients as top brands making it an ideal gift this Christmas at just a fraction of the price!" Whether or not they really are the same ingredients as the top brands, I have no idea but they did make lovely face masks.

The instruction booklet advises you on how to diagnose your skin type and create the perfect face mask to suit so it's a great introduction to skin care and beauty products for tween-aged girls. The kit contains everything you need to make the face masks - the only thing you need to add is water - and the face masks are gentle on the skin (I had visions of spotty or red faces the next day and that didn't happen). They're easy to mix up and apply and Sophie had great fun trying this out at a sleepover with her friend (which is why there aren't any photos of it in use, I'm afraid, because I don't have any without her friend in - oops !).

After making up their girlie-girlie face masks, Sophie and her friend went straight on to the Weird Slime Laboratory, which instantly had them going "euuurrgghhhh" and giggling when they read the descriptions on the box that mention ghastly experiments to make your own blood clots, tadpole soup, authentic looking guts and much more. Mmmmmm !

The box again contains everything you need and the girls had a whale of a time, laughing their heads off and squealing in delighted disgust, before coming to show me their horrible creations. I have only one regret - I couldn't get more involved because it was Sophie's sleepover so I was giving her some space. Luckily there are still some of the materials left so I'll be asking Sophie to show me how it's done and have another session with me next time !

star rating : 4.5/5 (the kits are great, even if I contemplated deducting a point for the specific boys'/girls' labels!)

RRP : £12.99 for each kit

Disclosure : We received two Wild Science Kits in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Sunday weigh-in : It started with a tweet!

I almost called this week's weigh-in post "I heart Trevor and Sandra" but I thought it wouldn't make sense to anyone who doesn't use a SlimPod ! So I'll tell you about a few tweets I am really pleased to have exchanged with Sandra from @ThinkingSlimmer during the week.

As most of you know, the SlimPod is a 10-minute mp3 that you listen to that talks to your unconscious (you can even fall asleep when listening to it and it still works) and gets you to make healthy food and exercise choices. Sounds like a load of old rubbish ? Well, yes, that's what I thought too but it really does work ! I do "weird things" like turn my nose up at chocolate and fancy a satsuma instead or eat two bites of a cake and feel stuffed and throw the rest of the slice away or have an uncontrollable urge to play races with the kids at the park.

You have to listen to it for 21 days on the trot, then you just need to do the occasional top-up when you feel the need. Well, I hadn't listened to it for absolutely months but I could still feel those "Trevor-moments" (Trevor is the voice of SlimPod !) when I'd do something and think "oooh that was the SlimPod that made me do that" !

Well, I was chatting to Sandra (who tweets at @ThinkingSlimmer) who asked if I was still listening to the SlimPod and we had this little exchange :

Tiny Klout Flag55cheryl pasquier ‏@cherylp59
 Haven't listened for a few months now but I keep getting "flashbacks" of key phrases when needed, definitely still working
23 Sep
Tiny Klout Flag53Thinking Slimmer ‏@ThinkingSlimmer
 blimey! Listen again for a few weeks and it will accelerate your inch loss Cheryl.x
23 Sep
Tiny Klout Flag55cheryl pasquier ‏@cherylp59
 ooh, you think so ?! Will definitely try that then !! :)
23 Sep
Tiny Klout Flag53Thinking Slimmer ‏@ThinkingSlimmer
 definitely. The messages will come to the forefront of your mind and it'll make a difference!

Well, it looks like she was right ! I started listening to my SlimPod on my mp3 player on the bus to work in the morning every day again - until it died on me on Thursday *sniff*. I was stunned to see that my brand new size 14 jeans have started feeling looser ! (With the SlimPod you often lose inches even if your weight doesn't change - don't ask me how it works !). And today I jumped on the scales to see ... 80.4kg. I've been bouncing around the 81kg mark for ages now, losing a tantalising 200g here and there and never getting into the 80 point somethings so I'm really chuffed. A 600g loss - one pound - not a huge loss but it makes all the difference.

STILL TO GO : 14.4kg

Don't forget to call in on my weight-loss buddies, a huge welcome to the new ones joining us this week for the first time and fingers crossed they all had a good week too :

Jane at 7hippopotamus @7hippopotamus

Laura at Ray Mears Extreme Housewifery @morrighani

Sarah at Life in a Break Down @life_breakdown

 Alison at Dragons & Fairy Dust @ali991

Claire at Ninja Killer Cat @needaphone

MumReinvented at Mum Reinvented @MumReinvented

Michelle at Quest of a Shrinking Lady  @shell1207

Anybody else want to join in with our weekly weigh-in link up ?

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

 MyFitnessPal - Nutrition Facts For Foods

Disclosure : I'm currently using a Thinking Slimmer SlimPod and a WeightWatchers Online subscription, in return for honest feedback. I also receive regular hampers of WeightWatchers products, and have also benefited from a one-month Jenny Craig trial.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Who said you had to give up cake when watching your weight ?!

Sunday weigh in : Against All Odds !

Sunday weigh in - another babystep forward

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Kids' DVD review : Mike the Knight - Galahad The Great

The Madhouse Mini-testers - in particular 3-year-old Pierre - are huge Mike the Knight fans. They initially found it especially hilarious because he shares the same name as Madhouse Daddy Mike, then they were won over by the exciting medieval backdrop complete with castles, Vikings and dragons and the fact that Mike the Knight invariably gets it all wrong and has to put things right. The catchphrase of "Be a Knight, Do It Right" has turned into a bit of a tantrum-avoiding joke here at the Madhouse which I chant, rather than nagging, when the kids have done something wrong like putting their shoes on the wrong feet or leaving their pyjamas lying on the bathroom floor. They think I'm playing and cooperate a lot more than if I just tell them off - bonus !

Needless to say, there was much excitement here at The Madhouse when we received a preview disc of the new Mike The Knight DVD, released this week. The featured episode which gives its name to the DVD, Galahad the Great, shows Mike The Knight trying to be the best horseman ever, kitting his trusty steed Galahad out in all sorts of superfluous paraphernalia like jingly bells and tall feathers that get in the way until he realises that he was perfect as he was and didn't need any extra embellishment to be Galahad The Great. Awwww that's the best bit about Mike The Knight. As well as being full of adventure and high jinks, each tale has a lovely life lesson for young viewers to take on board without feeling nagged or patronised.

The DVD only features five episodes which doesn't sound a lot, but that's still over an hour of viewing (62 minutes to be precise). Pierre sat through the whole thing then ran off to get Juliette's Strawberry Stables pony which he rode around the bedroom with his foam sword for the rest of the afternoon !

You can catch up with Mike the Knight's latest news at and @MiketheKnightUK on twitter.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £12.99

release date : 24th September 2012

runtime : 62 minutes

Disclosure : We received a preview disc in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Wayvebands review

Last week, I received an email from a lovely mumpreneur asking me if I'd like to check out her new product, Wayvebands. She explained : "As a Mother of two teenage boys, I have been amazed at how addicted they and their friends are to wearing multiple wristbands. My eldest son played In Line Hockey for GB last year and I wanted to have a wristband made personally for him as a memento of his achievement. Eventually I found a company prepared to print an individual silicone band (most only print in 00’s or even 000’s). It cost me over £40, lasted for only 3 months  and all I could personalise were the words, nevertheless all of his friends wanted one. So I set myself the challenge of developing this idea into a business. After many months of research I found no easy solution existed to produce a high quality, totally personalised band. I ditched the idea of silicone, found a supplier of recycled leather and developed a printer that could accurately reproduce designs onto the leather wristbands. Hey Presto…the result is Wayveband!"

I went to have a look at the website and was impressed with the number of different options available. You can choose the colour of the band and the colour and font of the writing. As well as adding your special message, you can select a picture from your computer or phone and add that, either as a centred image, a stretched image all the way round the band or a repeated image all the way round. You can get a patterned Wayveband or even a plain coloured one. They really do have something to suit all tastes and as it's totally personalisable, you can make a really special and unique gift or memento. These would be great as party bag gifts for a birthday party, as a keepsake of a hen night or wedding favour, or you could design one with your phone number on for younger children to wear in case they got lost. It could also be a funky alternative to the medical alert bracelets that some people need to wear. The options are limitless.

I gave free reign to 11-year-old Sophie, telling her to do whatever she wanted. We even sat googling her name so we could find pretty, jazzed up versions of writing her name, with hearts and flowers and kittens and pretty much anything else you can think of. She looked at pictures of Katie Perry, Union Jacks and holiday snaps but in the end, she decided that she wanted something more discreet and, in her words, grown-up so she opted for an understated pink ("but not babyish pink" - she's 11 going on 18 !) Wayveband with her name in peach with the heart-adorned font. She loves it, which is the main thing !

The Wayveband has a choice of fastenings - either a coordinating leather thong (so it looks like a friendship bracelet) or a nickel-plated stud that has a screw back so that you can move it to one of the four positions. This means you're guaranteed to get a good fit.

I love the fact that the Wayvebands are made with leather offcuts (just like the Skeanie toddler shoes I reviewed recently). They also use eco-ink that has half of the solvents of normal ink and recycled packaging. 

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : approx £7 but you get a discount if you order several

for more information :

Disclosure : We received a code to create the Wayveband of our choice, in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

I'm an Oasap Fashion Blogger !

New All-Natural Dairylea review

Bzz campaigns are a bit like buses (or should that be bzzes?!) - you can wait for ages for one to come along then several arrive at once ! I'm currently enrolled in three campaigns which I will be telling you about in upcoming blogposts and there are an amazing ten campaigns on the go at the moment (well, there were when I started writing this blogpost but it's been hanging around in my drafts folder for a while so there are now six !) so head on over to the Bzz agent website and sign up/check your campaigns and surveys if you haven't already. (I just discovered six new surveys to fill in too despite checking last week!)

The first of the three recent Bzz campaigns I was sent an invite for was for Dairylea. Dairylea has been around for absolutely donkeys' years and I've been eating it since I was a kid so I wasn't sure what I'd actually manage to find to tell you about it. Who has never eaten a Dairylea triangle? There can't be many of you (unless you can't eat dairy products or you're a vegan). But what I love about Bzz campaigns is that as well as introducing me to products and brands I've never heard of, sometimes they give me a fresh look at products I think I know inside out.

I was surprised to learn that Dairylea has been revamped and is now the first spreadable cheese made from all natural ingredients. The ingredients list is surprisingly free from E numbers and artificial additives, containing skimmed milk (water, skimmed milk powder) (44%), cheese (34%), butter, whey powder (from milk), concentrated natural lemon juice (from fresh lemons), milk proteins and stabiliser (sodium carbonate - needed to hold all the ingredients together). Even better news is that one Dairylea triangle contains just 43 calories (and only counts as 1 WeightWatchers ProPoint) which means that they're great news for adults watching their waistline as well as the kids !

So how do you eat yours ? They're a really versatile ingredient actually. We haven't tried squashing it between two crackers so it squishes out through the holes as in the picture above yet but it looks great fun ! I do love it spread on hot toast though or as a topping for a baked potato, topped off with a generous grind of black pepper. Stirring some into mashed potato makes it really creamy and is lower on the calories than butter and at Sophie's school canteen, they do salmon served with a sauce made of Dairylea melted in crème fraîche which is apparently delicious. Juliette loves using Dairylea to replace tomato puree as a pizza base too and it does taste surprisingly good.

What we would love to see in the future to complete the Dairylea range is a selection of flavoured cheese spreads - cheese & chive, cheese & ham, cheese & tomato, cheese & pickled onion just for starters. It would turn it into an even more versatile ingredient and sandwich filler.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : Dairylea spread £2 for 300g, £1.25 for 160g - Dairylea triangles £1.25 for 8 (140g), £1.95 for 16(280g)

for more information :

Disclosure : I'm a Bzzagent. I receive the product for free in order to give my honest opinion and vouchers or samples to pass on to friends to help spread the word. Find out more at

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Batiste Dry Shampoo review
Trend Micro™ SafeSync™ review
Halo feminine care review (and Show Us Your Knickers competition!)

Sharpham Park Spelt Artisan Pasta review

Sharpham Park, who manufacture all kinds of foodie products made from spelt including shortbread biscuits, bran flakes and Speltotto (their take on risotto) amongst others (click through to see my reviews), recently sent us through a selection of their Artisan Pasta products to try out. They're really beautifully presented and would be a great addition to a homemade Christmas hamper. (Sorry, I said the C-word again, didn't I?!)

We had three bags of interestingly shaped and coloured pasta to try out - Spelt Rigatoni Tricolore, Campanelle and Conchiglie Tricolore, which is the one the Madhouse Mini-testers chose to try out first. The lovely green and pink colours come from natural ingredients - beetroot and baby leaf spinach. There's not an e-number in sight. In fact, the ingredients list is incredibly short : stoneground white spelt flour (95%), pasteurised free range egg, beetroot and baby leaf spinach. That's it.

The label informs us that the pasta is crafted using bronze dies and is slowly air dried in the traditional way. This gives it a rough texture which is great for mopping up pasta sauce. The shell shapes do also keep hold of a lot of the water they cooked in though so make sure you drain them thoroughly by putting them in a sieve and stirring well with a wooden spoon so they tumble and release the water.

The packaging suggests a cooking time of 7 minutes. The pasta remains quite firm and holds it shape and colour really well. Tastewise, we found it slightly bland but accompanied with a rich sauce, it is lovely.

You should use about 75g of pasta per person so the 300g bag was perfect for a family meal for the five of us or for four adults. (For those with big appetites, you'd get three big platefuls.)

There is a total lack of nutritional information on the packaging but it's all available online : 352 calories, 12g of protein, 71g of carbs (of which 3.2g of sugar), 2.8g of fat (of which 0.7g saturates) and 3.5g of fibre for 100g.

If you want an impressive looking pasta to wow your dinner party guests (or your kids !), it's ideal.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £3.99 for 300g

Disclosure : I received a selection of Sharpham Park Spelt Artisan Pasta in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Friday, 28 September 2012

Rutland Cycling I-phone/Smart phone holder review

Back at the start of the summer holidays, I was asked if I'd like to review a phone holder for attaching to your bike, which I thought would be perfect for Sophie as she went out for bike rides around the park with her mates. Then the summer didn't happen - well, not until we arrived in Tunisia anyway ! - so we never got around to trying it out.

It's been sitting at the bottom of my "to be reviewed" box ever since until I had an interesting discussion with a friend of ours, who has just retired and loves going for long bike rides with his grandson. He was jokingly complaining that his daughter is constantly phoning them to find out where they are and how they're doing when they're in the middle of their rides so they have to stop while he fishes around in his backpack for his phone. When I mentioned the Rutland Cycling phone holder, he said that it sounded absolutely ideal so I've passed it over to him to try out.

One very impressive thing that I didn't notice at first is that you don't even need to take your Smartphone out of the case to use the touchscreen - very handy if you happen to be riding your bike in the rain (which mad keen cyclists often do, so I'm told !) or if you're going cross-country and don't want your phone to get splattered in mud.

The phone holder can be attached to bike handlebars or bottle cage mounts, and I must admit, I was thinking this could be a great idea for attaching to a pushchair or pram too. It works with pretty much any smart phone or similarly sized mobile.

Be warned - you'll need an Allen key to get the phone holder out of the secure packaging and to fit the bracket.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £16.99 (but on sale for £6.99)

Disclosure : I received a Rutland Cycling I-phone/Smart phone holderin order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

WeightWatchers Blueberry Slices review

I only really need one word to write this review - WOW ! I don't know how they manage it but WeightWatchers have come up with an utterly delicious cake that only counts for 2 ProPoints - a ridiculously low 81 calories per slice. As well as being low in calories, it's low in fat - just 0.6g per slice - and contains 11g of sugars which is only a couple of teaspoons.

The sponge is incredibly soft and airy - I wish I could get my cakes this light - and the layer of icing on the top is lovely and sweet so you really feel like you're eating something naughty but nice. 

My only slight criticism is that the picture on the box shows cakes studded with blueberries when in fact there are very few. I ate one slice and gave one to my daughter. In her slice there weren't any at all and in my slice, I had one ! Tastewise, it doesn't matter - the cakes are sweet enough to not need them and delicious enough that I'd buy them without - but I do hate it when companies photoshop their pictures (or stick blueberries all over the cakes maybe ?!) so they don't look the product you actually buy.

These ones don't come in individual wrappers so they're a sweet treat to enjoy at home rather than on the run.

star rating : 4.5/5 (would have been 5/5 if the picture on the box looked like the cake inside !)

RRP : £1.30 for 5 bars (115g)

Disclosure : I have been given a year's membership to Weight Watchers Online and receive monthly hampers of products in return for honest reviews. 

Giveaway #227 : Win 3 pairs of tickets to BBC Good Food Show Winter - closed - winners @DebbieWobbs @MsMsaclark @piperanddaisy

BBC Good Food Show Winter -  28th Nov – 2nd Dec 2012, NEC, Birmingham

The BBC Good Food Show Winter is back and to celebrate we have teamed up with the organisers to offer you the chance to win 3 pairs of general admission tickets.

The BBC Good Food Show is the biggest and best food Show in the country and this year the line up is just as stellar as always. Top foodie faces including John Torode, Gregg Wallace, James Martin, Gino D’Acampo and The Hairy Bikers plus many more will be taking to the Supertheatre. There will be hundreds of exhibitors from Cornish Cheese Co to David’s Chilli Oil and Luponde tea plus BBC Good Food Show regulars including Foxes Spices and The Curry Sauce Company. With Christmas just around the corner it will be the perfect place to pick up inspiration to make your Christmas stand out from the crowds this year and try something different!

Ticket prices start at just £21.50

To book tickets please visit or call 0844 581 1360

Terms and conditions for tickets and giveaways for BBC Haymarket Exhibitions

All tickets are general admission excluding Saturday.

Tickets are non refundable and non-exchangeable. Ticket terms and conditions apply.

Tickets do not include a seat in the supertheatre.

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

- Comment on one of my blogposts (other giveaways don't count !)

- Leave me a comment in the comments box with a way of contacting you (twitter name or email) and tell me which of my blogposts you commented on. 

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 (feel free to shorten it if necessary) or write your own tweet but make sure you copy in @cherylp59 so I can track this.

(2) Like "Madhouse Family Reviews" on facebook ( and leave me a message on my wall

(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) click on the google +1 button over in my sidebar and/or add me as a friend on google+

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

(7) Follow my blog with Google Friends Connect (over in the right hand side bar)

 UK only. Closing date : 21/10/12

Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter. If I haven't heard from you after a week, I'll have to pick another winner.