Saturday 30 June 2012

Lucozade Revive review

I'm always very dubious of energy drinks. As I don't drink tea or coffee, I always think my body won't know what to do with all that caffeine, especially as, in the past, I had problems with high blood pressure. I also find that they usually don't taste very nice.

Nevertheless, when Lucozade offered to send through a bottle of Revive, I was keen to see what I would think. Lucozade is a brand I trust and who seem to have a good knowedge of what your body needs. Whenever I was poorly as a child, my mum would head off to the shops and come back with a bottle of Lucozade glucose drink (with the knobbly orange bottle !). When they started adding new products to the range, they introduced isotonic drinks targetting sporty types so, again, they seem to be healthy and good for you. I wasn't sure how an energy drink would fit in with their current branding.

However, Lucozade Revive isn't like other energy drinks. First of all, it comes in a big 380ml screw-top bottle rather than the “shot” bottles encouraging you to down it in one go, so you can sip at it and let it do its thing gently and progressively. It contains 50 calories, which may sound a lot if you're used to drinking diet sodas, but it has 75% less sugars than regular energy drinks (which is a bit scary when you see that it contains 10.6g of sugars all the same).

Flavourwise, I was pleasantly surprised. The label describes it as a “lemongrass and ginger flavoured lightly sparkling vitamin drink with sugars and sweeteners”. The flavour is citrussy with a delicate ginger beer flavour that comes through afterwards. It's really refreshing, especially if you drink it straight from the fridge or served over ice.

Nutrients-wise, the bottle explains : “When it comes to vitamins, the Bs are hard to beat. B3 fights tiredness, B5, B6 and B12 help with everyday energy release. They're what you'll find in every 50 calorie bottle of Lucozade Revive. Refreshment with a little more zing.” As well as the fatigue-busting vitamins, it contains caffeine that is naturally sourced from coffee beans – it doesn't say how much caffeine but it is a long way down the list of ingredients, if that is anything to go by.

I drank a bottle mid-afternoon when I was feeling tired and sleepy with my eyelids getting heavier and heavier. If I hadn't had the kids to look after, I'd have happily curled up and had a nap. I didn't feel any immediate energy boost or go flying round the room on a caffeine-high, but, about 20 minutes later, I suddenly realised that I wasn't feeling sleepy any more. I wasn't feeling amazingly energetic or hyper, I was just back to feeling normal instead of sluggish which is perfect.

If you're driving long distances or in the middle of exams, this will give you a more subtle energy boost than caffeine pills or intense energy drinks. It's such a pleasant taste and not too heavy on calories that I will definitely be using it as a mid afternoon pick-me-up when I need one. It's the ideal energy drink for people who don't like energy drinks !

Star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £2.99 for a case of 4

for more information :

Disclosure : I received a bottle of Revive in order to  share my experience on Twitter using the hashtag #witnessmyrevival

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Giveaway #207 : Win 2 copies of The Hobbit - closed - winners @kellygannon2006 @Morrighani

 Seldom has any book been so widely read and loved as J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale, ‘The Hobbit’. 

Since its first publication in 1937 it has remained in print to delight each new generation of readers all over the world, and its hero, Bilbo Baggins, has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of fiction.

‘The Hobbit’, the unforgettable story of Bilbo, a peace-loving hobbit, who embarks on a strange and magical adventure is celebrating this year its 75th anniversary, and will be made into a major movie release on 14th December 2012. 

You can see the trailer here :


As soon as Sophie has finished reading her current book, I'll be suggesting we read this one together. That sounds like a good bedtime reading project for the  summer so we're ready to see the film at Christmas.

I have two copies of the book to give away to Madhouse Family Reviews readers so you can share the magic with your own children or read the original story before you watch the film.

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 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

(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 : 16/7/12

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. 
Other giveaways you may be interested in :  

How can you save time online ?

Time is money, they say. Well, for busy mums, time is often even more precious than money because it's in such short supply. We've all become absolute experts at multi-tasking, juggling jobs, kids and running a home, while still finding time to blog, tweet and hang out in google+ ! Spending time online is often a recipe for disaster as you get sucked into riveting conversations in social media circles and suddenly look at the clock and think "oops", but it can actually be a timesaver too. Here is The Madhouse guide to saving time online.

1) Get your weekly shop online. Tempter tantrums in the crisps aisle and frantically trying to remember what you wrote on that shopping list that you left on the kitchen table are things of the past if you get your weekly shop online. As well as saving time, it can also save you money as you won't get all those impulse buys that you do instore.

2) Hit the sales online. In these credit-crunch times, buying clothes for yourself and the kids in the sales is a great idea. In theory. Have you ever tried going shopping with three under 11's ? While you're sorting through the rails trying to find something in your size, you'll have the eldest whining that she's bored/hungry/thirsty/wants to go to Claire's and buy earrings, the youngest will be giving Houdini a run for his money trying to get out of his pushchair straps and run riot in the middle of the shop and the middle child will be enjoying putting 46DD bra cups on her head as a hat. You'll have nothing to show for your afternoon's shopping besides a headache and a bad temper because trying to get into the changing rooms is impossible with a pushchair in tow. Wait until the kids are in bed and shop from the peace and quiet of your living room out of business hours - bliss ! Don't worry about not being able to try clothes on, most companies offer a free returns service.

3) Let online calendars take the Brain Strain. I don't know if Baby Brain is a myth or a medical fact, but I do know that it's near on impossible to remember everything from birthdays to school events and dentist's appointments when you have several kids and a job to deal with. Using a wall calendar or family diary is a great idea but you have to remember to actually look at it and what if you need to jot something down when you're out and about ? Online calendars to the rescue - you can update them from your iphone or ipad too. Facebook is a great way of remembering birthdays and it only takes a second to send someone an e-card.

4) Internet is a great temporary babysitter ! Now, I'm not suggesting you stick your kids in front of facebook or online games all day, but when you need 5 minutes' peace to make an important phone call or even just go to the toilet alone for once, it's guaranteed to work. Ipad/iPhone apps, the Cbeebies website, Skyping with the grandparents - the possibilities are endless !

5) Contact people whatever the time. If you're anything like me, the time of day you're most likely to get to deal with things is at the crack of dawn before the kids get up and demand attention or in your lunch hour. Both times when people won't be happy for you to phone them. Use email to deal with things whatever the time or the time zone - no more procrastinating or putting things off and forgetting about them !

6) What's for dinner, mum ? So, you've looked in the fridge and you have a lump of cheese, 2 carrots and an egg to create dinner for five. Head to google and search for "recipe + (name of ingredient)" for instant inspiration.

7) Online banking and bills. No more queueing behind doddery pensioners or racing to get to your local branch before closing time. Online banking allows you to check your balance, transfer money or set up direct debits with just a few clicks. British Gas have a new online account management system which also allows you to view your latest balance, print your bill, enter meter readings, monitor energy consumption and book and track an engineer. (Customers who sign up before 30th June 2012 will also receive 2,000 Nectar Points just for registering, as well as receiving additional rewards for submitting meter readings and using  the online dashboard.)

8) Go green and save time with e-cards. Remember the "old days" when you had to walk to the shop, choose a card, write in it, go to the post office for a stamp and then post it ? These days, you just need 5 seconds to pick an e-card and send it instantly. I love Jib-Jab's personalised e-cards where you can add your recipient's photo to make hilarious pictures or videos. If you're seriously organised, you can even schedule your e-cards days or weeks in advance with your calendar in hand.

Disclosure : This is my entry for the BritMums #BGSaveTime Linky, sponsored by British Gas. (I received no payment, but I'll be entered to win Swatch watches for the whole family up to the value of £300.)

Capricorn Goats Cheese Blogger Challenge recipe #2 : Mediterranean Veg Filo Flowers

I've been busy in the Madhouse kitchen this week coming up with some new recipes to try out for the Capricorn Goats Cheese Blogger Challenge that I told you about on my blog last week, when I shared my recipe for Carrot & Capricorn Goats Cheese Muffins with you.

This time, I came up with the rather artistic Mediterranean Veg Filo Flowers. Well, they might be flowers or stars - we couldn't decide ! Whatever they are, here's the recipe :

Mediterranean Veg Filo Flowers

ingredients :

 1/2 red onion
1/2 red pepper (or a mix of red and yellow peppers)
1/2 courgette
a handful of slices of chorizo
a pack of filo pastry
some olive oil
1/2 a Capricorn Goats Cheese

Cut the filo sheets into half diagonally then half again, to make smallish triangles. Overlap the triangles at different angles in a bun tin to make flower/star shapes. Brush with a little olive oil.

Chop the vegetables and chorizo into small pieces and gently fry in a spoonful of olive oil for a few minutes until the courgettes are tooth-tender.

Spoon the vegetable mixture into each of the the filo pastry cases. Try to get a nice mix of colours to make it look pretty !

Place a chunk of Capricorn Goats Cheese on the top of each flower.

Put in the oven at 180° for about ten minutes, until the cheese has gone all gooey and the filo pastry has turned golden brown and crispy.

Serve warm with salad  - I also added some rice for the Madhouse Mini-testers, who aren't keen on salad.

Disclosure : I received a hamper of goodies including some Capricorn Goats Cheese to help provide inspiration for creating some tasty new recipes.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Friday 29 June 2012

Check out the Madhouse Mini Fruit Olympics

Whenever those loveable loons at innocent get in touch with me, I always think to myself that it must be great fun working there and getting paid to come up with such madcap ideas ! This time, to celebrate being selected as the official juice and smoothie of the Olympics, they've come up with a fabulous blogger challenge to get the kids involved in the Games too. They sent us through this brilliant kit containing everything we needed to have our own fruity Olympics here at The Madhouse, including a kit to make some funky bunting, a lemon and spoon kit (for a fruity twist on the classic egg and spoon race) and some funky medal T-shirts.

First of all, Pierre and Juliette had great fun creating some fabulous red, white and blue bunting and decorating it with funky stickers. Pierre loved the dinosaur stickers and Juliette got creative with the crayons. I stuck the bunting up to mark out the "track".

Now, may the fun and games commence ! The kids excitedly discovered the contents of the Lemon & Spoon Kit and got into their starting positions.

Sophie and Juliette went head-to-head while Pierre took control of the whistle to give them some encouragement !

Oops, Juliette lost her lemon so Sophie seized the opportunity and won this heat. It was only the first of many though !

Everyone's a winner baby, that's the truth (to quote Hot Chocolate - am I showing my age again ?!) so all three contestants (yes, even Pierre, who didn't even have a spoon or a lemon !!) got to go on the podium with a medal ! Very proud they were too !

Now they were in the mood for more fruity Olympic fun so I told them to head to the fruit bowl and see what games they could come up with themselves.

Sophie decided to try the Shot Putt with an orange. With hindsight, maybe that should be named the Lot of Juice on the Floor Putt ! Or even better, we should have used an apricot and called it Apricot Putt !

Juliette got very serious trying to use a banana as a javelin ! Again, with a more copiously filled fruit bowl, we could have tried throwing a Jave-lime instead !

They thought about using a cucumber in place of an Olympic Torch, but decided it would be better as the baton in a relay race ! (Or should we have gone for a Cherry-lay race instead ?!)

The multi-tasking cucumber also provided us some alternatives for throwing the discus. In fact, it was such a success, I almost named this blogpost "How much fun can you have with a cucumber?" but I thought it might bring in the wrong crowd !

I'm not sure if this is Juliette's attempt to get Gurning down as an official Olympics sport or whether Pierre's cucumber-discus landed in her eye ! She's doing a very good impersonation of Benny Hill there though !

Forget the half-time oranges, when they got bored of playing with their food, the Madhouse Mini-Olympians just ate the cucumber !

We also thought up some more fabulous fruity-themed Olympic sports but sadly, we didn't have the necessary items in the fruit bowl (or, being a total spoilsport, I deemed it just too messy !). We came up with:

- Peach Volley
- Cauli-ball
-Watermelon Polo
- 100m Blackberry Stroke Swimming
- Slalom Kiwi-ing
- Apple Bob-sleighing
- Date-lifting
- Horseradish riding
- High Chive-ing
- Tossing the Caper (OK, that one's more Highland Games than Olympic Games !)
- Lime-bo Dancing (OK now we're more talking drunken parties than Olympic Games but never mind !)
- Lifting Plum-bells (get it ? dumbbells ?! )
- Mango Karting

 Innocent will soon be releasing a downloadable booklet that will give you loads of tips on holding your own mini fruit Olympics this summer, including a collection of the new fruity games, ideas on what to eat and drink and their top summer tunes, along with all the names of the bloggers that have got involved. (I'm not the only mad one - honest !!) I'll keep you posted and share it with you as soon as it's finished.

I will also have a fab giveaway coming up where you can win a month's supply of innocent's brand new kids' smoothie, cherries + strawberries. so watch this space !

for more information :

Disclosure : I received a Mini Fruit Olympics pack from innocent.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Giveaway #206 : Win £100 Tesco vouchers to spend instore or online - closed - winner @emmav6

From 4th - 22nd July Tesco will be holding its amazing Baby Event, in-store and online at to offer amazing savings across baby and toddler products. There are some fantastic deals across Tesco’s baby product lines from everyday products such as 1/3 off selected Huggies nappies, Johnson’s Baby wipes at 95p and Buy One Get One Free on selected Johnson’s Baby toiletries, as well as great deals on bigger, one-off, purchases like sterilisers, pushchairs and car seats. Just some of the great offers available can be seen below:

Everyday Essentials:

Huggies Super Dry Economy Packs Now Half price £4.99 (was £9.98)
All other Huggies nappies Now Up to 1/3 off
Pampers Active Fit and Baby Dry Jumbo PacksNow 2 for £20 (£12.99 each)
Selected Johnson’s Baby toiletries Now Buy One Get One Free
Johnson’s Gentle Cleansing/Extra Sensitive Baby Wipes 95p
Tesco Easy Fit Pants Carry Packs (Maxi/Extra Large)Now £2.66 (was £3.55)
Tesco Super Fit Carry PacksNow £3.66 (was £4.88)
Tesco Baby Essentials Carry PacksNow £3.51 (was £4.68)

Great offers on formula and baby milk:

SMA Follow on Milk (900g)Now £6 (was £8.99)
Aptamil Growing Up Milk 1+ yr (900g) Now £6.49 (was £8.49)
Ella’s Kitchen Nibbly Fingers Now £1.89 (was £2.29)
Plum Muesli & Plum Porridge Now 2 for £5 (£3.44 each)

Mummy pampering:

Cussons Mum and Me range Save 1/3

Bigger Baby Items & Accessories:

Avent Microwave Steriliser Now Half price £12.72 (was £25.42)
Tommee Tippee Explora First Grown Up Cutlery Set Now Half price £2.49 (was £4.99)
Mamas & Papas Pushchair Package with Footmuff and RaincoverNow £65
Nania Group 2-3 High Back Car Seat Now £25

To celebrate the Baby Event, I have £100 Tesco vouchers up for grabs that can be spent in-store or online on all of your favourite baby essentials.

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 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

(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 : 13/7/12

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. 
Other giveaways you may be interested in :  

Thursday 28 June 2012

Less than 100 hours to go until entries close for Nectar Savvy Family 2012 !

Just a quick reminder for all you compers, there are less than 100 hours to go until entries close for Nectar Savvy Family 2012, so if you want to bag a chance of taking part and grabbing an amazing prize package worth thousands of pounds, you need to get your skates on !

Nectar are looking for up to eight families to blog for six weeks on about their money-saving antics and share their tips with the nation. Not only will the winner hold the title of Britain's Savviest Family, they will also take homea fabulous prize, which includes free easyJet flights, £500 to spend at Sainsbury's, free fuel from BP and a Nintendo Wii console - plus much more. To enter visit Further information about the competition is below.



The nation's households need YOU! Today, the UK's largest loyalty programme, Nectar, is launching its annual money-saving advice competition, Savvy Family, to encourage the nation to act smarter when it comes to spending and saving. First established in 2009 in response to the UK's economic downturn, Savvy Family has captured consumer imagination and established loyal followers with thousands of clever and unusual money-saving hints and tips being offered and shared. Now in its fourth year, the Savvy Family competition is set to grow in 2012 as families seek out new ways to make savings as the recession continues to take a grip and impact increasingly on family spending.

This year, Nectar’s SavvyFamily is hunting for up to eight families to tout their tips and pinch the pennies over the course of six weeks, sharing their experiences and advice about anything and everything from cutting the weekly shopping bill to entertaining the kids for free, in a blog hosted on In return, the family deemed the most creative and “savvy“ when it comes to saving, offering the most beneficial advice for families across the country, will be crowned Nectar Savvy Family 2012, winning a fantastic haul of goodies for the whole family to enjoy from Nectar's partners.

Resident Savvy Family judge and's finance expert, Jasmine Birtles says; "Nectar's Savvy Family competition has developed a bit of a cult following over the past four years, creating hundreds of useful tips that have been adopted by families, students and pensioners across the country, from running swap-shops with friends, to sharing weekly shops with neighbours to maximise deals.  Each year Savvy Family has grown, with more savvy savers getting involved. We anticipate the competition growing even further this year as there's a real hunger for this type of advice as the family budget continues to be squeezed."  

Joining Jasmine on the judging panel is last year's winning mum of two, Hannah Mills; "It's a real honour to be invited to join Savvy Family this year as a judge. Having been there myself, my advice to this year's families is to get everyone involved, including the kids, as it’s important to teach them from a young age to be good with money. I look forward to seeing what tips the finalists come up with this year as I’m always interested to hear of new ways to save.”

The recession-busting prize package for the winning family includes four easyJet flights to any destination; a Sainsbury's giftcard worth £500; £500 from BP to spend on fuel; £500 for the family to spend at Vision Express; a free week's car hire in Europe courtesy of Hertz; a year's cover from British Gas on a Home Care policy; a Nintendo Wii console package courtesy of American Express and 50,000 Nectar points. Those families interested in sharing their advice and being in with a chance of winning this prize can enter at by completing a short entry form before 1st July.

Jasmine and Hannah will be joined on the judging panel by Nectar’s James Frost; “Nectar has championed savvy spending and shopping since its launch in 2002… Savvy Family not only embodies Nectar’s proposition, it also taps into the needs of our collectors. Now with 18.5 million Nectar collectors across the UK, our research shows that families are continually looking out for new and innovative ways to save.”

Families who aren’t selected to take part in Nectar’s Savvy Family blogging competition still have the opportunity to win a variety of prizes by following the competition through the Nectar facebook page ( and Twitter (@Nectar) and sharing their own money saving tips. Reigning Savvy queen, Hannah, will also be revealing some of her ‘saving secrets’ and answering the nation’s budget dilemmas in the very first Savvy Family webchat, to be hosted on the Nectar Facebook page during the competition. 

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Provamel Cookery Challenge : Orange Bundt Cake

We always love getting involved in cookery challenges here at The Madhouse and, you may remember, last year I impressed even myself by managing to recreate a superb Autumn Fruits Pavlova and Eton Mess following recipes sent through by Provamel. Well, they've thrown down the gauntlet again !

This time, they sent me some ingredients and the recipe that I would need to make an Orange and Redbush Yogurt Bundt Cake. As the name suggests, the star ingredient is Provamel Orange and Redbush Yogurt which I recently reviewed here on my blog. Now, if like me, you're wondering what Bundt cake is, it's one of those cakes that is in the shape of a ring. Not having a Bundt tin, mine will just be a regular cake shape though.

The recipe is as follows :

Orange and Redbush Yogurt Bundt Cake

Preparation Time: 1 hr
Cooking Time: 45 mins
Serves: 8-10 portions


250ml of Provamel Orange and Redbush Botanical Yogurt
 225g soft butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
300g caster sugar
6 free-range eggs
350g plain flour ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Zest of one orange
¼ tsp Sicilian orange extract (optional)
1 tbsp icing sugar for decoration


Oven temperature : 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 

- Pre-heat the oven and place a baking tray on the middle shelf with enough room for your bundt tin. Grease the bundt tin well with melted butter. 

- Using a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. (I used margarine so that it was much easier to cream and also lower on the calories.)

- Whisk in the eggs one at a time using an electric hand whisk on the lowest setting – add in a little of the flour after each egg. Add in the zest, orange extract, remaining flour, bicarbonate of soda and Provamel Orange and Redbush Botanical Yogurt and carefully fold in using a metal spoon. (I whisked mine by hand with a fork and it worked fine.)

- Pour the mixture into your prepared bundt tin and level out. - Place in a preheated oven for 45-60 mins.

 Before removing the cake from the oven, make sure it is cooked through by inserting a metal skewer – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked through; if not, then return the cake to the oven for a few more minutes.

- After removing from the oven, allow the cake to cool for 15-20 mins before carefully removing from the mould and dusting with icing sugar.

Well, this is where I parted ways with the recipe slightly. Although the cake smelt lovely and orangey, I thought that the kids would complain it looked a bit boring so I knocked up some very quick butter icing, added some red and yellow food colouring to give it a lovely orange colour, mixed in some of my Steenbergs Organics orange essence and spread it all over the top of the cake. I finished off with a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands. As you can see, this met with the Madhouse Mini-testers' approval !

It's a lovely moist cake with a definite orange flavour. It could possibly be improved with the addition of some candied peel to give it some extra zing, if you don't fancy our icing and multi-coloured sprinkles approach ! I actually thought it tasted better the next day than fresh from the oven. (How sad is it that the slice of cake is on a Dora the Explorer plastic plate when it is for me! That definitely says a lot about my life!)

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Provamel Orange & Redbush
Provamel Botanical Yogurts
More recipes to try from Provamel

4M Design your own Jigsaw Puzzle review

When we were contacted recently to see if we'd like to review one of 4M's crafts kits, we jumped at the chance then sat back to see what the postman would deliver. On receiving the Design Your Own Jigsaw Puzzle kit, we were pleased to see that it was a kit that kids of all ages can get involved with so even nearly-3-year-old Pierre joined in the fun.

As you can see from the picture, he was over the moon to learn this !

The box contains three small 12cm x 16cm cardboard puzzles with a set of four felt-tip pens. The perfect number for the trio of Madhouse Mini-testers ! The only thing missing is your child's imagination and creativity to design a lasting masterpiece.

I helped Pierre by writing his name in colourful block letters (we added some extra colours using Juliette's felt tips because the choice of colours was too limited otherwise) and he set to work adding some artistic squiggles and decorations around the edges.

He was very proud of the finished design !

Juliette decided she wanted to draw a house and sat carefully designing her puzzle picture.

Ta-da ! Another proud little puzzle-designer !

Sophie also had fun creating a design but the finished product was censored because she didn't want to publish the name of her playground crush online !!

It's a great rainy day activity to keep the kids amused and, with a bit of prior thinking to come up with a really good picture idea, this could make a lovely gift idea for parents or grandparents. The pieces are slightly flimsy but I think I've been spoilt by all the Ravensburger puzzles that we've been reviewing lately !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £5.99

Disclosure : We received a Design Your Own Puzzle kit in order to write an honest review.

Charlie Bigham's Breton Chicken review

We took a leap into the culinary unknown here at The Madhouse for dinner last night, trying not only a brand that we'd never heard of (Charlie Bigham's) but also a recipe that we'd never heard of – ironically Breton Chicken, which we've never come across despite Madhouse Daddy Mike being Breton and both of us having lived in Brittany for several years. Well, nevertheless, it was a resounding success.

Breton chicken is described on the pack as “fresh chicken breast in a handmade creamy mornay sauce with cheese, leeks, lardons, Dijon mustard and fresh parsley”. That sounds just like the sort of meal I would knock up from scratch and, looking at the ingredienst list, there's nothing I wouldn't find in my own kitchen : fresh chicken breast (37%), fresh cream (18%), water, smoked bacon lardons (10%), Cheddar cheese (10%), fresh leeks (8%), Dijon mustard (1%), sunflower oil, fresh lemon juice, fresh parsley (1%), fresh garlic purée, black pepper. That's it. Not a single artificial additive or E-number in sight.

The cardboard sleeve, featuring a humorous cartoon of “Twosomes”, hides a plastic tray with two compartments, one with the chicken and leek mix and the other with a sachet of ready to heat sauce. Unlike many frozen ready-meals, the chicken isn't pre-cooked, it's raw, so you get a much juicier, more tender final result when it is cooked. The fact that it is pre-chopped and pre-seasoned is a real time-saver. You just need to cook the chicken mix in a drizzle of olive oil for 8-10 minutes, pour over the sachet of sauce, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

I was actually a bit concerned that the portion size was slightly on the small size so I added some slices of chorizo. (The whole pack weighs 600g.) This worked really well because the spiciness complemented the creaminess of the sauce and the saltiness of the bacon. It did change the colour of the sauce though, so yours will look less orange if you don't add chorizo.

Taste-wise, it's delicious. The combinations of chicken and bacon and leeks and cheese are well known classics and putting the whole lot together really works. The meal tastes fresh and home-cooked - you could pass this off as a very impressive home-made dinner for a special romantic meal ! Portion-wise, I had plenty but Madhouse Daddy Mike did say that he'd have liked a bit more (despite me adding some chorizo). We served ours with fresh pasta which was delicous, but you could also use rice, boiled potatoes or fresh vegetables as an accompaniment too.

Madhouse Daddy Mike is still not totally convinced that Breton Chicken is an authentic Breton recipe, but we both agreed that it is delicious. One 1/2 pack serving contains 459 calories, 29.8g of fat (of which 15.5g saturates) and 2.4g of salt.
You can find Charlie Bigham’s Twosomes in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Booths or online from Ocado.
star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £5.99

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Disclosure : We were sent a selection of Charlie Bigham's products in order to write honest reviews.

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