Monday, 16 September 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #38


We're all settling into our new routine. The kids both come home to eat lunch now - I'm at work so they tend to use up leftovers, which is great, but they do also have kid-friendly options like mac & cheese or things that just need popping in the oven at their disposal. They're doing a great job of working out what they want to eat, so I'll let them get on with it without adding anything to the plan. On Fridays, I manage to get home for lunch, which makes a nice change too - even if the buses were a total nightmare this week, absolutely packed and running late. Maybe because of the lovely weather ? Anyway, here's this week's menu plan. Page numbers relate to one of my cookbooks that I've dragged out for inspiration - What's For Dinner? by Romilla Arber - which offers week-by-week menu plans with recipes. Some of it looks quite good, even if I'm adapting lots of the dishes to suit our tastes and what's already in the cupboards. 

Monday 

dinner - chicken thighs with curry sauce & rice (adapted from chicken biryani recipe, as I have a couple of jars of shop-bought curry sauce to use up) - I also have a recipe for tomato, cucumber & red onion salad which sounds good (p448)

Tuesday 

dinner - spaghetti bolognaise

Wednesday 

lunch - cheesy risotto with sausage - this sounds like the ultimate kids' meal so I think there will be clean plates all round ! (p461)

dinner - gratin dauphinois (creamy potato bake) with leftover meat - or if there isn't any, I think I'll just add some ham or bacon to the dish

Thursday 

dinner - chicken & chickpea stew (p72) - this has carrots, potatoes and chickpeas in it so it's a good one-pot recipe

Friday  

lunch - there should be plenty of leftovers

dinner - beef & root veg stew with boiled potatoes

Saturday

lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - homemade tomato & courgette soup (p449) - perfect recipe to try, as I was given lots of courgettes and tomatoes

Sunday

lunch - chicken pie, peas/carrots and mash or roast potatoes (depending on what everyone wants) - either way, a nice bit of gravy would go well with this

dinner -  sandwiches or fridge clearout 

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Fab freebies of the week 14/9


I woke up this morning convinced it was a weekday, then realised it was Saturday, sighed to myself, rolled over and went back to sleep ! Hoping the rest of the weekend stays just as calm and chilled out ! Here's this week's freebie roundup to start of your weekend with a smile. :)

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WIN over 500 family BBQ prizes, including short breaks, BBQ’s, accessories and more from Regina Blitz

Burt’s Bees are looking for 160 Mumsnetters with children aged between 6 months and 1 year to test out their natural baby range. They would like testers to try out their three Natural Step Baby care routine: the Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo & Body Wash, the Burt’s Bees Baby Diaper Ointment and the Burt’s Bees Baby Oil.
Just fill out this form and your Lights by TENA Sample Pack will be on its way.

Checkout Smart have more great freebie offers to grab - take your pick from Maltsmiths Pint and Bottle, Joybol Smoothie Bowls, Richmond chicken sausages, May Tea tea infusion, Jack Links beef jerky and Love Hemp spring water

Sign up for Gressingham Duck's new recipe booklet

Expert Home Tips have 30 prizes of Monty Bojangle chocolate truffles up for grabs

Talk Health have 50 prizes of Nivea pots for people taking their Sleep & Chronic Health survey

Request a free print copy of The Economist

To celebrate the launch of the NEW Yves Saint Laurent Libre EDP, we have 100 full size bottles for a selection of lucky Community members to test and review! This new fragrance of freedom, fronted by the incredible Dua Lipa, is infused with orange blossom flowers, French lavender and vanilla, and encased in a couture bottle inspired by the iconic craftsmanship of YSL handbags.

Answer 5 easy questions correctly to receive your FREE 15ml sachet of Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather! You can restart as many times as it takes too :)

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Friday, 13 September 2019

Book review : Overdrawn - N.J. Crosskey


Henry Morris has a pretty tough life at the moment. His beloved wife Chloe is slipping back into her dementia and he needs to up her medication. Unfortunately, times have changed and it's looked down on for elderly or sick people to keep on taking medicine with little or no hope of recovery. The done thing now is to head over to the Moving On house and willingly take some pills to end your life, rather than using up more than your fair share of the world's resources. It's not just something that is now widely accepted - it's pretty much expected and you are seen as very selfish if you don't go along with it.

Heading into a local cafe for a cup of tea to boost his mood, he meets Kaitlyn, a young and very disgruntled waitress who is faring no better in the current system - her brother has been on a life support machine for years and she is having a tough time getting the money together to continue paying for his care.

The pair of them come up with an unconventional way of making enough money to cover their costs, but will they manage to pull it off and get their happy-ever-after ?

It's an enjoyable and surprising novel, set in a time that (luckily) we can't really relate to, but it really tugs at your heart strings. Both of the main characters learn a lot about themselves and those that they love as the novel progresses, and their viewpoints change quite a lot. They are both incredibly strong and generous characters who really go the extra mile for those that they love and, for that alone, you can't help but slightly hero-worship them. I still can't decide if it is ultimately a happy ending or not - maybe for some but not for others - but it certainly makes you think and smile fondly as you remember the strong bonds that tie people together in unexpected ways.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (1 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178955022X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1789550221


Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Philadelphia + Milka = Yum ! (review)


If you're a teenager, arriving home from school apparently means you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO have a snack. I remember Sophie doing this a few years ago and now it's Juliette's turn. Cries of "but we'll be having dinner soon, don't fill yourself up" are met with sniggers and reassurances of "don't worry about that" (which, I have to admit, is true !). However, Juliette has a problem, because she can never decide if she wants something sweet or savoury. Philadelphia must have been listening because now she can have the best of both worlds and tuck into their Milka Philadelphia spread.


Yes, you heard me right. Philadelphia cream cheese has been lovingly mixed with Milka. I know what you're probably thinking - cream cheese and chocolate? Really ?? Well, if I'm honest, I was slightly dubitative when I first tried it, but it's actually really lovely. Slathered on toast. Spread over pancakes. Cheekily added to the top a a biscuit before slamming another on top ! It has a really smooth, rich, creamy flavour that we all love.


Well, today we discovered that it can also be used as a rather delicious and totally time-saving instant icing. Pierre was busy in the kitchen making some cupcakes and when they'd cooled down enough to decorate, I was busy preparing dinner and taking up all the space in the kitchen. I suggested using the Philadelphia Milka that was in the fridge along with some sprinkles and it worked perfectly.


If you're looking for a delicious sweet spread, that can be eaten on bread or used as a topping on cheesecakes and cakes, it's perfect. I find it much less sweet than regular chocolate spreads and jams, but Juliette still loves it just as much. Each 30g serving (that's about a sandwich's worth !) contains 85 calories, 4g of fat (of which 2.5g saturates), 10g of carbs (of which 10g sugar) and 1.9g of protein. You can buy a 150g tub for £1.80 but ASDA currently have it on offer for 95p, if you fancy giving it a try ! 

Disclosure : I received the product in order to write an honest review.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Giveaway #730 : Win a Minecraft Reign of Terror book - closing date 24/9


Hands up if you have a Minecraft fan in your house ! If you're desperate to get your kids away from their screens and into books, this might be the perfect option. Reign of Terror is based on the insanely popular animated series from Rainimator, which has garnered a stunning 90 million views on YouTube. Full of memorable characters, lush locations and dazzling special effects, this is a fantasy saga for the Minecraft generation. 


All five episodes of the first season of Rainimator's video series are reworked into a stunning graphic novel. You can catch up with The Struggle, Cold As Ice, We Are The Danger, Just So You Know and Goodbye, which are known online as Herobrine's Revenge. They will deliver an action-packed sword-and-sorcery story in a unique Minecraft-inspired world.


This is a fun, magical and epic adventure that offers a taste of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones for a younger audience. (The book has a recommended age of 10+.)  A major Minecraft film starring Steve Carrell is expected in 2019, so get your kids interested in the series before then (if they aren't already !)

RRP : £7.99

Paperback
96 pages
246 x 189mm
Published Jun 2019
ISBN 9781787392564




If you like the sound of this book, you'll be pleased to learn that Carlton Kids have given me a copy to give away to a lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck !


UK only. Closing date : 19/9/19

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook 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 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize.


Monday, 9 September 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #37


I ended up buying way too much food last week - I'm adjusting to being one family member down, now that Sophie is off at college and it does make a big difference ! - so I haven't actually gone shopping for this week's food yet. I may even make it through the week without topping up if I'm lucky. We're settling back into a routine with Pierre coming home for lunch rather than going for school dinners so I need to keep leftovers in the fridge for the kids.

Monday 

dinner - leftovers from yesterday : I ended up making a pork stir fry with baby sweetcorn and mangetout, plus some BBQ sauce (it tasted much better than it sounds !) with rice

Tuesday 

dinner - sausages, mash & beans

Wednesday 

lunch - spaghetti carbonara

dinner - I have a marrow that was given to me but I don't know what to do with it - any suggestions? So far, I'm planning on a stuffed marrow bake (the kids can always opt for leftovers if they hate it !)

Thursday 

dinner - I think I'll be eating leftover marrow for the next few nights (!) but I have some chicken nuggets if needed for the kids, with pasta maybe?

Friday  

dinner - baked potatoes with cheese, beans, bacon ... these were on last week's plan but never got made as we were using up leftovers

Saturday

lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - bacon fillets (they look like gammon) with mash and veg (or whatever may be in the fridge that needs using up)

Sunday

lunch - marinaded chicken (maybe tomato & herb?) with rice & veg

dinner -  sandwiches or fridge clearout 

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

Katykicker

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Fab freebies of the week 7/9


Phew, it's the weekend. We made it through the first week back at school with no problems, but yesterday, our lovely dog Vicky died. It was expected, but she's been hanging on for several weeks, so it still came as a bit of a shock. Lots of hugs and looking at old photos were needed to cheer everyone up. Now it's time to chill out and make the most of the weekend, starting off with this week's new freebies :)

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Try Me Free ! Get your box of W.K. Kellogg granola reimbursed

We will randomly select a number of participants to review the Fade Out creams. If selected, you will receive your chosen Fade Out 3-Step regime (day, eye and night cream) to be used every day for at least 4 weeks. Applications close 18th September.

Debenhams have teamed up with Estee Lauder to give you the chance to try the NEW 'Advanced Night Repair' Intense Reset Concentrate Serum! Sign up by 9th Sept.

Sign up with Pizza Express and you'll get a birthday surprise.

Claim two free tickets to the London Homebuilding & Renovating Show, 4-6 October, ExCeL London

Checkoutsmart has a great selection of freebies at the moment : Maltsmiths pint, Maltsmiths bottle, Richmond chicken sausages, Strings & Things yollies chocolate yogurt, May Tea tea infusion, Love Hemp spring water, ...

Just fill out this form and your TENA Lady Sample Pack will be on its way.

Phoera have a great offer for new buyers : Claim your free product.
We're so confident you'll love our products, why not try the first item for free and see for yourself
Sign up now to claim your free item

Request a sample of liquid hand soap.

Order a sample of Andrex washlets

Get a voucher for £1 off any Dr. Oetker Baking product - sounds perfect for a free mug cake :)

You can see previous weeks' freebie roundups by clicking here but be warned, many of the offers are only valid for a short time. Let me know if any have expired and I'll remove them from the roundup.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Friday, 6 September 2019

Book review : Ashes to Ashes - Paul Finch


I'm a big lover of crime fiction but this one took me a while to get into. I almost gave up after the first third, which presents a series of horrific crimes in which seemingly random victims are burned to death by a (presumably) man in protective clothing with a flamethrower. Who are the victims ? Who is the killer ? And why are they being targetted ? It didn't really seem to be going anywhere and the victims were dead within a couple of pages each time, so I didn't even feel sorry for them. I'm really pleased that I didn't give up though, as it picks up halfway through and becomes absolutely unputdownable for the final third.

At the start of the book, Heck (aka DS Heckenburg, appearing here in his sixth novel) is in disguise, out watching the block of flats where target John Sagan is hiding out. Sagan is a vicious brute - a torturer for hire, who has terrorised and mutilated numerous victims. With all his team on tenterhooks, Heck can't believe it when a couple of policemen from another brigade walk straight up to his door and knock on it. All hell breaks loose and he gets away.

After some intense police work, his trail is picked up and Heck is sent off to Bradburn - Heck's home town, that he never thought he'd go back to. His parents are both dead and he wasn't even invited to the funeral. He has a lot of issues to deal with. His personal problems pale into insignificance though when he sets his sights on the evil killer. 

It's the kind of novel that I think of as a Hollywood blockbuster - it's filled with huge amounts of action, gallons of petrol being flung around and set on fire, huge shootouts between numerous bad guys ... and the hero of the moment, DS Heck, emerging through the flames and smoke with nothing but a couple of scratches and a streak of soot across his face ! Heck comes across ruthless gangland bosses but manages to outplay them (most of the time) and get them onside, providing him with key information. Sometimes it all seems a bit too far-fetched - cats may have nine lives but he seems to have about ninety nine !

Other characters paled into insignificance - his sister, whose house he ends up staying in, is on holiday for the entire duration of the novel; his old ex from his school days, who puts in an appearance, just drops back out again ; he and his boss, who is also his ex, seem to have a constant game of only being interested in each other when the other isn't ... Heck doesn't really seem to be good at being a team-player so, both personally and professionally, he always seems to prefer doing things all by himself.

It's an enjoyable read, if you can make it through the first third, but I think maybe I would have felt more compassion for Heck if I'd read the previous books.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (6 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007551290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007551293
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm




Thursday, 5 September 2019

Giveaway #729 : Win a Puzzle Adventure book - closing date 19/9


Carlton Books have some fabulous new titles on their shelves at the moment, with the accent on kids having fun while learning and using their brains to solve puzzles. Sounds like the perfect way to get them away from their screens and back into books ! You may have already seen my reviews of the Mensa Kids Brain Busters book and the My STEM Day series, but if you haven't, don't miss out as there are copies up for grabs ... but don't go away just yet as these two are well worth a look too !


This time, we have two famous literary characters - Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes - ready to take your child through a series of puzzles, codes, riddles and other mind-boggling conundrums based around their literary worlds.


Simple lateral puzzles are geared towards children aged 8+, helping them develop their problem-solving skills. Puzzles are built around scenarios and famous characters from the books, introducing readers to classic kids' fiction too.


There are 38 captivating puzzles in each book, designed to inspire curious young minds and stimulate their brain-busting logic ! 

RRP : £8.99

64 pages
252 x 195mm
Published Jun 2019
ISBN 9781783124022

for more information :



Fancy getting your hands on one of these books? Just fill in your entriesin the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck !


UK only. Closing date : 19/9/19

T & C's : Entries close at midnight on the closing date. Winners will be selected with a random number generator and announced on facebook 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 28 days, I'll have to pick another winner. Prizes will be sent out by the companies or their PR directly to winners. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. The winners' personal contact information will be passed on to the PR / Brand responsible and used only for delivery of their prize.


Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Little Yeos Big Pots Kids' Fromage Frais review


Britain’s biggest organic brand Yeo Valley have recently added two new flavours to their ‘Little Yeos’ range of kids' yogurts and they kindly sent some over for us to try out.


They come in two flavours so you can choose between Natural and Strawberry. The Natural fromage frais contains no added sugar, while the Strawberry flavour is made of fromage frais, real fruit puree and concentrated grape juice. Both options are perfect for weaning onwards. They are made with mild cultures, in an attempt to encourage little taste buds to enjoy the flavour of natural yogurt and form healthy eating habits for life. Both options are high in protein, as well as being a source of calcium.


They are also great as an eco-friendly option because by choosing the bigger format, it uses a third less plastic than the equivalent 6 pack. If that's STILL not enough to convince you, it works out as better value for money than buying the small pots too.

They can be enjoyed on their own for younger children, or served over fruit or other puddings for older kids, as a healthier alternative to ice cream or custard. The 340g Little Yeos Big Pots are available in Tesco and Ocado.

Great for the kids, great for the environment ... what's not to like ?!

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.
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