Thursday, 28 February 2013

Giveaway #264 : Win the brand new Thomas & Friends DVD Special 'Go Go Thomas' - closed - winner @bloomingfox


Pistons are popping, boilers are bubbling, and wheels are wobbling on the Island of Sodor as Thomas and the gang get ready to whoosh like the wind!

Speed really is the name of the game in this latest all-new action-packed Thomas & Friends™ CGI DVD special, Go Go Thomas’, on sale from Monday 11th March RRP £12.99.

This must-see special introduces a new friend, Stafford, the electric engine, as well as returning favourites Gordon, Flynn, Spencer and Ol’ Wheezey.

So climb aboard with Thomas & Friends as it’s all systems a go go!


DVD SYNOPSIS:
Thomas and his friends are charged up and ready to Go, Go! Thomas shows Gordon that being quick is as useful as being strong, while Flynn, the fire engine, learns to put his pride aside and race to the rescue. Thomas causes some trouble on the tracks trying to be a model engine for a new photographer, while Spencer’s on the move, ignoring warnings about electric engine Stafford’s battery. Thomas pumps his pistons to Misty Island to help fix Ol’ Wheezy. Will the number one blue engine be on track and on time? Ready, Set… Go, Go Thomas!

Title: Go Go Thomas

Release date: Monday 11th March 2013

                Running time: 68 minutes
                               
       Format: DVD

        Certificate: U

        RRP: £12.99

*** Look out for my review of the new DVD - coming soon ! ***



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HIT Entertainment have kindly provided one copy of the brand new Thomas & Friends DVD Special 'Go Go Thomas'  to give away to a Madhouse Family Reviews reader.

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

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

- Leave me a comment in the comments box below, 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 (https://www.facebook.com/MadhouseFamilyReviews) 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 : 14/03/13

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook, twitter and in the giveaway post subject line. Please note, you will be contacted by email and/or twitter and if I haven't heard from you after a week, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners.


Other giveaways you may be interested in :


Putting Vanish to the test


Having signed up for a campaign on BzzAgent, I recently received some Vanish Oxi Action to try out. The manufacturers claim that it will remove all sorts of stains, even dried in ones, from whites or coloureds. It can be used as a pre-wash soak, added to the washing machine or made into a paste and rubbed in with the new Treat & Go scoop.

Well, I decided to go for the ultimate test - the cleaning pad on my steam mop ! I used it all over the house, including the filthy floor after the Tree Fu Tom twitter party (ten overexcited kids with sticky cakes and drinks in their hands - you can imagine the rest !) and you can see how disgusting it was after all that !

I put a scoop of Vanish into the detergent drawer along with my usual laundry liquid and waited to see how it would come out.


I have to say, I was very impressed. It's not 100% clean but it's certainly got rid of most of the dirt.

However, the next time I went to do a load of washing, I opened the detergent drawer and was surprised to see that most of the Vanish was still in the drawer and had gone rock hard ! So now I'm not sure. Did the Vanish do its job even if only a small amount of it got through to the washing or was it the Persil? 

I'll have to wash it without the Vanish next time to see if I notice any difference !

Disclosure : As a Bzzagent, I receive free products in order to share my honest opinion and take part in social media activities.

Other reviews you may be interested in :


Vanish Oxi Action Fabric Stain Remover review


Our "Juliette" Victoria sponge cake !


When I announced to Juliette and Pierre that I had the intention of making a Victoria sponge cake, Juliette asked the perfectly reasonable question why call it Victoria ? There nobody at The Madhouse called Victoria ! Fair enough, we'll make a Juliette sponge cake instead then !

The whole point of making this cake was to use up the opened tub of Betty Crocker Vanilla Icing that had been sent through for decorating the fairy cakes for the Tree Fu Tom twitter party so, for simplicity (as the kids were helping), I used a supermarket own-brand sponge cake mix. It only costs about 25p and takes out all the effort of measuring out ingredients. You just add one egg and a bit of water.


It actually makes a perfectly reasonable sponge cake that is light and airy. Cutting it in half is always a bit delicate and a few of the edge bits fell off.


I used some WeightWatchers raspberry jam to spread over one half - the raspberry flavour is slightly tart so contrasts nicely with the icing which is very sweet and creamy.


I'd never used ready-made icing before but I have to say, I was actually very impressed. It's really smooth, melts in the mouth and has a deliciously rich vanilla flavour. Sophie said she thought it tasted of melted ice cream and the kids kept pinching a sneaky spoonful out of the tub when they thought I wasn't looking !


Juliette had great fun squishing it all into my Tala Icing Syringe and licking her fingers far more than I think was actually necessary !


I had to help pipe the icing around the top because it was making her fingers hurt but she took over with the finishing touch - loads of silver balls !

The whole cake took less than an hour to prepare from start to finish and and totally wowed the Madhouse Mini-testers. Juliette patiently waited for Madhouse Daddy Mike to get home from work so that she could show off her handiwork, then the whole thing disappeared in a matter of minutes !

I'll be looking out to see which other flavours of icing are available in the Betty Crocker range because I was actually very impressed with the taste and convenience of the product.

Disclosure : I received a tub of Betty Crocker Vanilla Icing in my Tree Fu Tom twitter party pack but I wasn't asked to blog about it.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares recipe

Sakata Japanese rice crackers review and recipe ideas


Japanese rice cracker brand Sakata has launched a range of mouth-watering new flavours, providing the perfect snack for the calorie-conscious who won’t compromise on taste. The range now includes Lightly Salted, Sour Cream & Chive, Sizzling Barbecue, Roast Tomato & Balsamic and the authentic, Japanese-inspired Seaweed & Soy Sauce – all at just eight calories or less per cracker.

When asked if we'd like to give them a try, we didn't hesitate for a second because we've tried them before and absolutely loved them. (You can read our original Sakata review here.) The variety of flavours makes them great for sharing, dipping or simply on their own as a tasty afternoon treat, so I was keen to discover the range of recipes that the brand have come up with using their crackers. I've put them below so you can try them out if you fancy something a bit different !

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Dip Recipes

Sizzling BBQ Sakata with Spicy Moroccan Hummus



You will need:

1 packet Sakata Sizzling BBQ Rice Crackers or
1 packet Sakata Roasted Tomato Rice Crackers
Moroccan Hummus (If you are in hurry you can use a readymade Moroccan Hummus which can be purchased at many major supermarkets)

For the dipping pot:
  • 1 medium onion 
  • 1 can chickpeas -- (20-oz) drained 
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 tbsp. water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and black pepper to taste 
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch saffron -- large pinch 
  • 1 clove garlic -- crushed 
  • 1 tbsp. Sweet chilli dipping sauce 
  • 1/2 sliced red chilli

Place onion in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Place onion and remaining ingredients, except sweet chilli sauce, in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste, adding a little water if needed. Place in a serving bowl, drizzle with sweet chilli dipping sauce and sliced chilli. Serve with delicious Sakata BBQ Rice crackers. Enjoy.
Sour Cream Sakata with a Prawn Cocktail Dipping Pot



You will need:
1 packet Sakata Sour Cream & Chive Rice Crackers
Prawn Cocktail (If you are in hurry you can use a readymade Prawn Cocktail pot which can be purchased at many major supermarkets)

For the dipping pot:

·         200g ready cooked (shell off) prawns
·         4 tbsp. mayonnaise
·         4 tbsp. Tomato Sauce
·         1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
·         Squeeze of Lemon Juice
·         Salt & Pepper to taste
·         Paprika for dusting
·         Chopped Spring Onion & Chives for decoration

Mix the mayonnaise, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce together. Season to taste with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix in the prawns and transfer the mixture to a small dipping pot or ramekin. Dust the top with a little paprika and sprinkle with chopped spring onion and chives. Serve with delicious Sour Cream & Chive Sakata Rice Crackers.


Sour Cream Sakata with Spring Onion & Tomato Infused Sour Cream



You will need:

1 packet Sakata Sour Cream & Chive Rice Crackers
Sour Cream (If you are in hurry you can use a readymade Sour Cream & Chive Dip which can be purchased at many major supermarkets)

For the dipping pot:

·         200 ml Sour Cream
·         Small bunch of Chives
·         3 Chopped Spring Onions
·         3 cherry tomatoes

Chop the chives into small pieces and mix in with the sour cream, transfer the mixture to a small pot or ramekin and drizzle sweet chilli sauce over the mixture. Decorate with small chopped pieces of spring onion and tomato. Serve with delicious Sour Cream & Chive Sakata Rice Crackers.

Original Sakata with Cranberry & Cream Cheese



You will need:
1 packet Sakata Original Rice Crackers

For the dipping pot:
·         1 packet cream cheese, softened
·         5 tbsp. chunky blue cheese dressing
·         5 tbsp. Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce
·         ¼ onion minced
·         1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
·         1 tsp. lemon juice

Mix the cream cheese, blue cheese dressing and cranberry sauce. Stir in remaining ingredients, mix well until smooth. Transfer mixture to a small dipping pot. Serve with delicious Original Sakata Rice Crackers

Canapé Recipes
Original Sakata ‘Chocolate Cream Sandwich’

You will need:
1 packet Sakata Original Rice Crackers
1 tub Chocolate Cream Cheese

Lay the Sakata crackers out on a large serving tray/dish. Simply spread the chocolate cream cheese on one side of the Sakata cracker, use a second cracker to create the chocolate sandwich. A sweet and savoury delight!

Seaweed Sakata King Prawn Canapé



You will need:
1 packet Sakata Seaweed Rice Crackers
1 tub crème fraîche
Small bunch of chives
2 packets shell on King Prawns

Lay out the Sakata crackers onto a large serving dish/tray. Carefully spoon a dollop of crème fraîche onto each cracker. De-shell/tail the king prawns and place a prawn on top of the crème fraîche on each cracker. Decorate with small pieces of chopped chive. Enjoy!

Sour Cream & Chive Sakata With Smoked Salmon & Crème Fraîche



You will need:
1 packet Sakata Original Rice Crackers
1 tub crème fraîche
Small bunch of chives
1 packet Scottish Smoked Salmon

Lay out the Sakata crackers onto a large serving dish/tray. Carefully spoon a dollop of crème fraîche onto each cracker. Cut the smoked salmon into small thin strips and place a strip on top of the crème fraîche on each cracker. Decorate with small pieces of chopped chive. Enjoy!

Original Sakata with Chilli Infused Chocolate Cream Cheese



You will need:
1 packet Sakata Original Rice Crackers
1 tub Chocolate cream cheese
1 Large Red chilli – Sliced & De – Seeded
Lay out the Sakata Rice Crackers onto a large serving dish/tray. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of chocolate cream cheese onto each cracker. Slice a red chilli very finely and place a piece of the chilli on top of the chocolate cream cheese. Enjoy!


Sakata rice crackers are available in 100g packs from Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, The Co-operative, Waitrose and Ocado (RRP £1.99). Find out more at www.sakata.uk.com or become a fan at www.facebook.com/sakatacrackers .

Disclosure : We received some Sakata crackers in order to try out the recipes and blog about them.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :


Anzac Biscuits recipe

Kids' DVD review : Tree Fu Tom: Tree Fu Magic


After all the fun and excitement of our Tree Fu Tom party last week, the Madhouse Mini-testers have been enjoying watching the new Tree Fu Tom DVD that we were sent to review. Called Tree Fu Magic, it features six magical adventures, all of which need Tom to use his Big World Magic to save the day. I always love watching Pierre and Juliette joining in with the Tree Fu moves because it's very cute and it's great to see them getting active too!

In this new second volume, the episodes are : With Friends Like These - Buzzworthy - Winging It - Crystal Catastrophe - Fungus Among Us - The Big Ranch Rodeo.

The naughty Mushas are up to their old tricks, there’s a colony of hungry bees to contend with at Ariela’s ranch and an action-packed aerial rescue turns into an epic underground rolling race. Tom and Twigs have to find a replacement for Treetog’s Casting Crystal before all the magic leaves Treetopolis and its time for Ariela’s Rip-Roaring Rodeo. This was the Mini-testers' favourite episode because they can recreate it with the Tree Fu Tom toys that we were sent for the twitter party, making them even more exciting.


The DVD comes with a free sticker sheet enclosed inside, much to Pierre and Juliette's delight. It has a total runtime of 132 minutes and they will watch it from start to finish without losing interest - then ask to put it on again !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £8 on amazon

DVD Release Date: 18 Feb 2013
Runtime : 132 minutes



Disclosure : We received a DVD in order to wrte an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

DVD review : The Sapphires


When I was asked if I'd like to preview new DVD release The Sapphires, I didn't know much about it and when I saw the jacket image, I have to admit I thought it looked quite cheesy. But I've just sat and watched and laughed and almost cried and shook my head at the injustices and absolutely loved it.



The film starts in the 1950's at a small-town talent show in the Australian outback then fast-forwards ten years to a time when Martin Luther King, Aboriginal civil rights protests and the war in Vietnam were all in the headlines. It tells the tale of four Aboriginal women, three sisters and a cousin, desperate to make a name for themselves as a singing sensation, who head off to war-torn Vietnam to sing to the troops.


The girls have big voices and even bigger attitudes so sparks inevitably end up flying. Dave Lovelace (played by Chris O’Dowd), a down-on-his-luck Irish musician who ends up becoming the girls' manager, is a brave man who's willing to put the cat amongst the pigeons and shake things up within the group to get the girls where they belong ... but it's far from an easy ride.

I love the fact that the film goes beyond light-hearted entertainment and is willing to bring up controvsersial subjects, such as the kidnapping of Aboriginal children by the Australian government and the racism that existed back in "the bad old good old days". By turns laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, it's a lovely film that the whole family can watch.

It's being released just in time for Mothers' day so if you're looking for a gift idea, this could be perfect, especially if your mum likes feel-good movies and soul music.

Release date: 4th March 2013

Cert: PG

RRP: £15.99 (DVD)




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

Other reviews you may be interested in :


DVD review : Nurse Jackie Season 4