Friday, 30 November 2012

Angry Birds Star Wars Playing Cards review

Hands up if you're still in need of some stocking fillers for your tweens and teens ! Well, here's a great modern twist on an old classic that is bound to bring a smile to any fan of Angry Birds - some Angry Birds Star Wars playing cards.

The cards come in a collectible tin - there are four different ones available - which is perfect for storing them in so they don't get lost and also for keeping them in perfect condition. I wouldn't be surprised if they end up becoming quite collectible too. Each tin also comes with a matching collectible 3D lenticular bonus card which Sophie thought was very cool.

The cards feature all the Star Wars characters that fans will recognise from the new Angry Birds game and they're really bright and colourful. Juliette was happy to just sit and look through all the different pictures, giggling at the funnier ones, without even needing to learn a game to play with them !

When we reviewed some of the traditional card games from Cartamundi a while back, I was surprised to see just how much the Madhouse Mini-testers enjoyed playing the old favourites like pairs, snap and old maid. The Angry Birds characters give a great modern twist, while enabling you to get back to the traditional family card games that generations have loved.

The Angry Birds™ Star Wars™ Playing Cards are available at all good toy retailers. For further information or call 01268 511522

star rating : 4.55

RRP : £4.99

Disclosure : We received an Angry Birds card game in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Well done Tesco - Supermarket of the Year again !

I often share news of the fab bargains that you can grab at the regular Tesco Baby Events (great for stocking up on cut-price nappies and other baby essentials) so it didn't come as much of a surprise to learn that Tesco has won Supermarket of the Year Award, for the third year in a row, at this year’s Mother & Baby Awards. The Mother & Baby Awards are now in their 20th year and this is the first time in Mother & Baby history that the same retailer has won this prestigious award three years in a row. Tesco emailed me to thank me for supporting them over the past couple of years and asked me to extend their thanks to all Madhouse Family Reviews followers on their behalf. They also gave me a sneaky update that there is something exciting in the works for January - I for one can't wait to see what that will be ! 

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Geeta's Spice Route review

Geeta's, the iconic Indian brand, have just launched a brand new product range called Spice Route, a dry spice rub that can be used to marinate meat or fish or as the basis for a sauce based curry dish. The new line champions different regions of India such as Gujurat, Kashmir and Punjab and includes seven different flavours - Rogan Josh, Dhansak, Kebab, Keralan, Tandorri, Tikka and Chettinad and they sent us through a couple to try out.

I decided to use the Keralan spice mix and adapted the recipe on the back of the pack to accommodate what I had in the fridge - pork, onions, carrots and mushrooms.

I got peeling and chopping and started browning off the meat and vegetables in some olive oil.

While this was cooking, I opened the Geeta's pack to see what was inside - a rather large portion of spice that is hermetically sealed in a plastic sachet to keep the freshness and flavours intact. The packaging says it serves four but this looked like a rather large measure so you could get away with using half and saving the rest for another meal.

I added the contents of the sachet to the meat and vegetables, stirred it so everything was evenly coated then added a tin of chopped tomatoes. I had a little taste and was suprised at how spicy it was, as it was labelled as medium, which is usually quite tame. I decided to throw in the last couple of handfuls of risotto rice that were sitting in the cupboard, to create a sort of biryani.

I still thought it was way too hot to appeal to the Madhouse family's rather delicate palates so I raided the cupboards for some ingredients to turn down the heat a little. I added lots of crème fraîche but also stirred in some dried apricots and dried cranberries. This unexpected sweetness offset the spiciness nicely.

In the end, I don't think it was anything like a Keralan curry is supposed to be, but it was very nice, served with a naan bread !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £1.49 each 

available nationwide from ASDA stores

Disclosure : I received a couple of Geeta's Spice Route sachets in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

VELCRO® #101Uses Challenge - #17 Bracelets

I don't know why but Sophie is obsessed with putting things around her wrist at the moment. I think it started with Sillybandz, but now they're out of fashion, she's constantly wandering in from school with anything from hair bands and elastic bands to coloured-in and sellotaped-up strips of paper ! Needless to say, while I was getting creative with my VELCRO® hamper, she was using the reusable ties as bracelets. I have to admit, they do look pretty funky actually !

Disclosure : I received a hamper of VELCRO® products in order to take part in the VELCRO® #101uses challenge.

Did you know you can recycle disposable nappies?

I certainly didn't. And before you go "yuck", they're recycled as things like toilet roll tubes, not second-hand nappies ! Read on for more information :


Play a part in protecting the environment with Nappy Recycling

Whilst you may be able to associate with the recycling of plastic bottles and used newspapers, one thing you may not have considered recycling previously are your baby’s used nappies!

At Nappies2Go we are on a mission to make more parents and guardians aware of nappy recycling and how our services can ensure that every single used nappy you would normally throw straight into the bin can  be recycled and recreated in to many other products.

How does it work?

On your part, the process is as simple as putting out your waste for collection every other week! Instead of putting your used nappies and wipes into your normal waste bin, you can arrange for fortnightly or monthly collections of separate bags that we at Nappies 2 Go will provide you with. On your designated collection day, simply place the bags on the kerbside and we will come and collect them; job done!

What happens next?

It’s over to us for the next stage as we deliver all the bags we have collected to the recycling facility where they are processed in a designated receiving bay. From this point, the nappies are then sterilised, separated and then have all the moisture released from them so they are ready for the recycling process. Once this has been completed, the nappies are then sorted again to separate out all the plastics from the fibres and ensure all the contaminants are removed. The materials then go through various stages of rigorous washing before  they are bagged up and ready to be used in new products. For instance, the fibres can be used to create the cardboard tubing regularly found in industrial settings as well as what you’d find in the middle of your toilet roll at home!

for more information:

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

VELCRO® #101Uses Challenge - #16 No Eye-Deer !

Before blogging took up all my free time, I used to be a crafty person. I loved patchwork (you may remember I showed you some of my creations in Mellow Mummy's I Made This Meme), cross stitch and I dabbled in soft toy making. Here's a lovely reindeer toy that I put together from a kit.

The only thing missing was his eyes, which I never got round to finishing. He's been like this so long that he's been nicknamed the No-eye Deer ! Well, VELCRO® to the rescue ! I used a couple of adhesive pastilles to stick on his eyes - these are only temporary, until I find the perfect buttons but the VELCRO® will make it dead easy to attach them. Ahh he looks so much better now he can see !

Disclosure : I received a hamper of VELCRO® products in order to take part in the VELCRO® #101uses challenge.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


You can't go far wrong with a free app so I thought I'd share this press release with you - enjoy !


The people who bring the world’s best-loved children's stories to the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch have created a free advent calendar which encourages young learners to send their own festive greetings.

Inside each of the calendar's 24 envelopes is a Christmas card which children can personalise with their own message. Each card comes with an illustration taken from one of The Story Mouse’s most popular titles including Snow White, Jack & the Beanstalk, Goldilocks & the Three Bears and the Gingerbread Man.

The finished card can then be sent to friends and family by email. Best of all, this beautiful advent calendar is completely free!

The calendar is available to download from Apple's App Store here:

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : Silenced - Kristina Ohlsson

In recent times, Scandinavian crime fiction has become huge news so I was keen to see what I'd make of Kristina Ohlsson's Silenced. Well, it's certainly a complex plot that will keep you guessing right up until the last minute !

The story begins with a teenaged girl being attacked and raped in a meadow near her home. Fast forward fifteen years and the police have two seemingly-unrelated new cases to deal with - an unidentified victim of a hit-and-run accident and a double homicide involving a priest and his wife. They were both shot in the head but were they both victims or did the priest, who was battling depression, shoot his wife before turning the gun on himself ? Next up is another young woman who suddenly finds herself framed for drugs-related crimes in Thailand and seems to have ceased existing in her real identity - her email account has disappeared, her flight home has been cancelled (or, worse, seems never to have been recorded) and the hotel where she is staying denies all knowledge of her ever having made a booking, let alone having her possessions in the room she left just this morning. Curioser and curioser, as Alice said down the rabbit hole !

As the novel progresses, all of these random elements are tied together in a complex and, at times rather confusing, web of lies, deceit and underhand goings-on. I did find it rather hard to keep track of but this could be due to the fact that I've got a stinking rotten cold and am finding it hard to concentrate on anything more taxing than an EastEnders plotline at the moment !

It's an interesting read that touches on some complex issues, notably the aftermath of a rape within a family's structure and the ethics of helping illegal immigrants. The author is a Security Policy Analyst for the Swedish Police Board and has worked at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs so she certainly knows and understands her subject matter. If you like conspiracy theories, corruption and finely-honed crime fiction, it'll be right up your street.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £12.99

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (30 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847379613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847379610
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15 x 3 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : The Collini Case - Ferdinand von Schirach

Wilkinson dog treats review

The four-legged Madhouse Mini-testers have been happily wagging their tails because they've been getting lots of lovely things to review lately ! After the Pooch Pack we reviewed last week, they've been enjoying a selection of doggie products from Wilkinson's this week.

First up, Vicky tried one of the little pouches of Chicken with Beef Liver, Vegetables, Rice & Beans. Now, I have to say, as a human, it looks decidedly unappetising. Sophie took the words right out of my mouth by saying "ewww it looks like sick" ! Vicky on the other hand was wagging her tail and champing at the proverbial bit to get her gnashers on it !

I've never seen such a clean bowl ! She may not be able to speak but she's certainly made her thoughts clear.

I decided to try the other variety out on Didou, who was waiting impatiently for his turn. He got to sample Chicken with Tuna, Vegetables, Rice & Beans. As a human, again, it's not a combination that appealed to me - tuna or chicken sounds nice, but together ? Yuck !

Again, Didou couldn't wait to tuck in though and devoured the whole lot barely without drawing a breath ! Definitely a thumbs paws-up from them both ! I thought the sachets were a bit small but the packaging says that these can be given as a treat, after a long walk for example, on top of the dog's normal food.

Speaking of treats, the Madhouse pooches were in for another one, with these Deli Beef Sausages. I was impressed to see that they contain 90% meat.

They couldn't wait to get their paws on these meaty-smelling sausages and wagged their tails, woofing, as I snipped the top off the pack.

They both loved them, wolfing them down and coming back for more ! You get 8 mini sausages per pack so there are plenty to last a week (if you only have one dog).

Wilkinson's isn't the first place I'd have thought of for buying dog treats, but having seen how well they went down, I'd definitely buy more of these.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : dog food pouches 66p for 100g,  deli beef sausages £1.29 for 8 (60g)

for more information :

Disclosure : I received a selection of dog food and dog treats in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Pooch Pack review

VELCRO® #101Uses Challenge - #15 Less lost property

I teach teens and, even at that age, they manage to constantly lose their gloves and scarves in my classroom so I always send Pierre off to school not really expecting him to still have his gloves, hat and scarf in his possession when he comes home at the end of the day. Then, looking at my VELCRO® hamper, I had a cunning idea.

I used a small piece of sew-on VELCRO® and attached a piece to the back of his coat, hidden away under the hood, and another piece on his scarf. Even with the scarf dangling down his back, it stayed in place, attached to his coat. Hopefully this will help keep the two together when he hangs his coat up on his peg.

Tada - ready to go out and beat the chill !

I even decided to do the same with his beloved Spiderman hat, sewing a piece to the top of the hat and the other piece in the inside of his hood to hold it in place.

I'm even impressing myself with how versatile VELCRO® is - I wonder what other ideas I can come up with !

Disclosure : I received a hamper of VELCRO® products in order to take part in the VELCRO® #101uses challenge.

VELCRO® #101Uses Challenge - #14 Santa-tracking !

You better watch out, You better not cry
Better not pout, I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He's making a list, And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to towwwwwn !

We've cranked the Christmas-fever up a notch here at the Madhouse and have started all our Christmas crafts in earnest so I thought it would be fun to make a Santa-tracker, the old fashioned way. Last year, the kids loved tracking the man in red on an online Santa-tracker but I decided to go for a bit of an educational twist this year.

I've stuck VELCRO® adhesive pastilles in various strategic locations on a big map of the world and am asking the Madhouse Mini-testers to find out where he's got to on his travels. They can look where the arrow has moved to and we can discuss what they know about that country. 

After Christmas, I'm thinking I can print out and laminate pictures of famous landmarks that they can then attach on the map in the right places ... using VELCRO® of course !

Disclosure : I received a hamper of VELCRO® products in order to take part in the VELCRO® #101uses challenge.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fashion Culprit, not Fashion Victim !

I've just had a sudden realisation ... We're heading into Christmas party season and, having lost 13kg over the course of the year, I am definitely going to need a new outfit or ten ! Perfect timing for this competition from Fashion Culprit, offering up an outfit for you and a friend. Well, I've just been browsing through their virtual clothes racks and here's my selection :

Fashion Culprit Top Picks

for more information :

Disclosure : By blogging about the competition, I get some extra entries to the Fashion Culprit – Win an outfit for you and a friend competition.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

What's your #partypose? blogger challenge

Doctor Who Quantum Lokk device & Cleric Wars App Game review

We're almost at the end of the #12days of Christmas posts now - and it's just as well really because the opening song is taking up half the page now ! Are you ready ?!

On the first day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...
Ravensburger 3D Big Ben puzzle ! (click through for a giveaway)

On the second day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...

On the third day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...
My Style Design & Make Deluxe Charm Bracelets kit !

On the fourth day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...

Schleich dinosaur figure !

On the fifth day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...

On the sixth day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...
Go Mini Freestylers Mini Cooper S !

On the seventh day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...

On the eighth day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...

On the ninth day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...
HABA Bobbing Bunny !

On the tenth day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...
some ScatterBrainz Sticky Darts !

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...
 Trash Pack Street Sweeper !

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Madhouse reviewed for thee ...
 Doctor Who Quantum Lokk device & Cleric Wars App Game !

Now this is definitely one that will appeal to all techie geeks ! It's quite unlike anything I've ever seen before so it looks like it could take gaming to a whole new level. Without getting too bogged down in tech-speak, the Cleric Wars App and Q.L.A. (Quantum Lokk Accelerator) Device is an immersive, Augmented Reality first-person mobile application game for iPhone and Android smart phones. Are you still with me?!

You download the free app to your smartphone or iPhone, place the phone in the cradle of the Q.L.A. device and link it up with the cable. Through the wonder of augmented reality, enemies magically appear in your actual location on screen - how cool is that ?!

Gameplay is totally unique. The immersive controls use a first-person viewpoint with pan and tilt function. To defeat an enemy, you just aim the Q.L.A and fire at it until a vortex opens up and pulls it in. Nifty ! The head up display (H.U.D) helps locate enemies whose general location is indicated by icons near the centre of the target. It's not quite as impressive as the publicity shot looks but it's still great fun.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £24.99

Disclosure : I received a Doctor Who Quantum Lokk device in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

VELCRO® #101Uses Challenge - #13 Counting sleeps to Xmas !

The countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun here at The Madhouse. The Mini-testers' Advent Calendars are in pride of place on the shelf but, just in case that isn't enough to really bring it home, Sophie sat down earlier and made a funky "Sleeps to Xmas" countdown chart !

She put adhesive VELCRO® tabs on the back of the numbers so that they can be pulled off each day and reused. That's just taken the excitement levels up another notch !

Disclosure : I received a hamper of VELCRO® products in order to take part in the VELCRO® #101uses challenge.

VELCRO® #101Uses Challenge - #12 Keeping the sofa throw in place

I love the way taking part in the VELCRO® #101Uses challenge has been genuinely making my life easier around the house and resolving issues that frequently cause arguments - such as the throw that never stays in place on the settee whenever the kids have been wiggling around on it ! It drives Madhouse Daddy Mike mad that he always has to put it back in place when he gets home from work in the evening so I decided to try some of the heavy-duty VELCRO® strips to keep it in place.

The Heavy Duty Stick On VELCRO® strips promise to resist a load of 15kg - should be plenty for a wiggly toddler.

Yay, that's one less argument tonight then !

Disclosure : I received a hamper of VELCRO® products in order to take part in the VELCRO® #101uses challenge.