Tuesday 31 December 2013

Kids' app review : Hey Hey Match

The Madhouse Mini-testers recently received a new app to test out called Hey Hey Match. This is  the third release, following on from HeyHey Pix and HeyHey Colors, from HeyHey Apps, a kids' app company founded by street artist Bue the Warrior whose mission is to bring joy and colour to children around the world.

The game is a series of four mix and match puzzles, allowing you to have fun creating weirdly mismatched characters or recreate the real animals and people.

Pierre had great fun putting them together and seeing what he could come up with. If you put the correct head, body and legs together, the character disappears and his name is pronounced, although you can customise the sounds to say whatever you want.

Once you clear all characters in a puzzle, you get to a reward screen where you are rewarded for solving the puzzle with a short movie or picture that relates to the selected character. The app creators plan on you getting much more hands on and customising your app though. They explain : "We were kind enough to include some default rewards, but the idea is that parents, together with their children, go to the sound and vision screen and replace these defaults with their own creations. There are pdf files available on the HeyHey Apps site that contain all the heads of the characters which can be cut out and used as masks. Cut out the bear mask and go into the woods to record your little one roaring from behind the trees, or get him next to a  police car dressed as Officer Butch. Jean-Jacques Patati can easily be filmed when you go to swim with the little one and who does not know how to imitate a monkey."

It's a nice idea but I have to admit, so far we haven't had a chance to explore it. Pierre's been happy enough playing with the app as it is though, although it does make it fairly expensive if you use it just as a run-of-the-mill maching game.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £1.49

Disclosure : We received a code for the app in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Kids' app review : Woolly & Tig

How often do you let your kids use gadgets?

Madhouse recipe : Honey-Mustard Glazed Pork

 If you've been spending far too long slaving over a hot stove over Christmas and just want a quick and simple, but nevertheless delicious, meal, this is perfect. It requires just three ingredients - pork chops, salt (or flavoured salt) and Maille au Miel mustard with honey - and takes seconds to throw together.

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and smother with a generous layer of honey mustard.

Pop under the grill for 12 minutes until the pork is cooked through but the chops haven't dried out.

We ate these with root veg mash and green beans but they'd go with most things (chips, rice, couscous, pasta ...). I also really fancy trying this with a roast pork joint or even a roast chicken. The sweetness of the honey nicely counterbalances the mustard so even if you don't usually like mustard, you'll love these.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse recipe : Savoury Tuna Cakes

Monday 30 December 2013

Giveaway #349 : Win Drumond Park The Best of TV and Movies game - closed - winner Laura Jayne Bates

I've just posted our review of Drumond Park's The Best of TV and Movies game which the whole family have been having great fun playing over Christmas.

LOGO The Best of TV & Movies (rrp £29.99, age 12+) proves there’s simply no end to the genius of those creative minds at Drumond Park – the team responsible for the hugely popular LOGO family of games.

This fascinating, fast-paced, picture-card game brings together a veritable smorgasbord of TV and movie memories and miscellany! With so much included, there’s something for everyone in this superlative race around the familiar LOGO-style playing board.

Drumond Park have kindly offered to send a The Best of TV and Movies game to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 14/1/14

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 :

Drumond Park The Best of TV and Movies game review

Drumond Park sent us through another game from their Logo range of games for us to try out - you may remember we reviewed LOGO What Am I? last year -and it's been played non stop over Christmas.

The board is a simple linear track of different colours, relating to the different coloured questions on the cards. You can either play as individual players or teams, working your way around the board, answering the questions on the cards in turn or by "stealing" other players' cards if they don't get the answers right.

The backs of the cards offer you a clue - either a theme or a picture (often a series of cryptic images relating to one actor which are my favourites), unless you get a random "pot luck" question - and the questions are a nice mix of recent and vintage film and TV trivia. 

The box suggests that players aged 12+ can play, but we had younger players joining in alongside older team members (8 year old Juliette and even 4 year old Piere) and they were delighted to get some of the questions right, particularly about Disney and modern animated movies that the older players were totally clueless about !

The game comes with 400 cards, offering a total of 1600 questions, which sounds like a lot but once you've worked your way through them all, you'll know all the answers and have an unfair advantage ! There are bonus cards that you can use when playing in teams to spice things up - a 'mute button' card to prevent one player from answering, a 'fast forward' card and a 'change the channel' card to swap topics - but we haven't used these so far, as we've been playing with young children and wanted to keep it quite simple.

It's a great game that the whole family can get involved in and that takes very little setting up. It's nice to have a game that you can just enjoy without having to worry about strategy or scoring too.

If you like the sound of it, make sure you enter my giveaway to win the game.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £29.99

for more information : www.drumondpark.com

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

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Drumond Park Wordsearch Junior review

Madhouse recipe : Savoury Tuna Cakes

My French mother-in-law first introduced us to these savoury crab cakes, that she calls "petits bouchons au thon", at one of the New Year's apéritifs at her house. I asked her for the recipe and was amazed at how simple they are. They can be made in advance too, which is great news over Christmas and New Year.

Savoury Tuna Cakes

180g tinned tuna, drained
50g tomato paste
60g crème fraîche (solid works better than liquid)
90g grated cheese (we usually use gruyere but cheddar would be fine too)
4 eggs
parsley and/or chives
30g finely chopped onion
salt, pepper

Preheat your oven to 160°C.

Combine all the ingredients with a mixer for one minute or by hand, for slightly longer.

Pour the mixture into silicon moulds and put in the oven for 15 minutes.

Serve cold, on their own as nibbles or as a starter with salad and slices of tomato and avocado.

These are also lovely served with a garlic mayonnaise dip (such as Hellmann's Mayonnaise with a hint of Garlic).

Link up your recipe of the week

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

New Year's Eve nibbles : Pain Surprise

Belbake Raspberry-Vanilla Cupcakes kit review

While wandering around Lidl just before Christmas, the kids saw lots of baking kits that they wanted to try out. They were really cheap, and they're always ideal for baking with little helpers, so I gave in and bought several. The first one that we tried was the Raspberry-Vanilla Cupcakes kit. Inside the box, you get a bag of cupcake mix, a bag of icing mix, a bag of white chocolate stars and some cupcake cases.

Usually, for kids' baking kits, you only need to add an egg and a little water but for this one, you needed to add an egg, oil, milk, butter and cream cheese. It made me wonder what they actually give you in the kit because apart from flour and sugar, you've got pretty much the complete set of ingredients for cupcakes there anyway. The pre-measured bags are handy for giving kids independence in the kitchen though, and Pierre got stuck straight in.

The cakes were ready in about 20 minutes and then we mixed up the icing. I used a piping bag to squeeze the icing out on to the cakes and Pierre decorated them with the chocolate stars.

The sign of tasty icing is when the kids are lining up to lick out the bowl !

One happy little face, followed by lots of happy little tums ! They were very sweet but also very tasty and they disappeared in record time !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

New Year's Eve nibbles : Pain Surprise

Sunday 29 December 2013

New shoes for the New Year at Clarks

When I was a kid, getting school shoes for the new school year always involved going to Clarks and getting my feet professionally measured. It was almost a rite of passage and it's one that I've kept going with the Madhouse kids. We have shopped around, going for cheaper alternatives from supermarkets and high street competitors, but we always end up grumbling that it's a false economy because they never last as long as Clarks shoes. We were therefore delighted when Clarks asked us if we'd like to go down to the Hastings branch, get the kids' feet measured and check out their core collection.

It was actually a great time to go and investigate because there are some bargains to be had in the January sales.

I must admit, I always associate Clarks with boring black and brown "sensible school shoes", so I was impressed to see a whole shelf full of fashionable and funkily coloured trainers.

 Juliette excitedly headed off with a very smiley sales assistant to stand on the machine and have her feet digitally measured. She came back to inform us that she's a 1 and a half F. You never get such a precise measurement in other shoe shops. Juliette decided she'd like some boots, pointed out a few that she liked and was presented with a selection of styles and colours in her size to try on.

The pair that she ultimately opted for - black mid-calf length boots with a star design on the side and a lace-up detail at the back for £54 - were actually slightly too big when she tried walking in them, so the sales assistant added insoles for free.

Pierre had been patiently waiting and enviously watching Juliette getting all the attention, so I said that he could choose a pair of trainers in the sales. As he's smaller, he had his feet measured by hand rather than on the machine - he didn't grumble though ! - and I was impressed to find a pair in exactly his size and a style that he liked on the sales shelf (reduced from £30 to £20).

These are the ones he chose (and he proudly put them on by himself so they're not really done up properly - the Velcro strips should be a bit tighter and a lot straighter!). They seem to support his feet and ankles more than than the trainers he had before and the sales assistant had him running around the shop (literally !) to make sure that they were a good fit !

While I was sorting out the kids, Madhouse Daddy had found a pair for himself for work in the sales racks too, so it's not just kids' shoes at Clarks !

If you don't want to spend ages hanging around instore with over-excited kids, you can phone to book a timeslot for the measuring machine. You can also call in to check your kids' feet haven't changed sizes without being under any pressure to buy new shoes, or if you prefer checking at home, you can buy a foot gauge just like the ones instore to measure your kids' feet at home.

for more information : http://www.clarks.co.uk/

Disclosure : We received some vouchers in order to write an honest review of the whole Clarks experience.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Cheeky Shoes have had a makeover (again !)

New Year's Eve nibbles : Pain Surprise

A "pain surprise" or surprise bread is a festive staple in France, both from professional caterers at office Christmas parties and made at home for pre-dinner nibbles or New Year's Eve party food. It looks very impressive but is actually very simple to make. Either make or buy a loaf of bread (caterers often use round loaves but square ones are easier to make) and carefully cut off a thin slice on both ends. Using a long knife, cut the inside of the loaf out in one piece by going around the contour of the bread just inside the crust, then cut this into thin slices. (You may find it easier to do this after leaving it in the freezer for a while so it doesn't crumble, if your crumb isn't dense enough.)

Alternate layers of different fillings - traditional options include smoked salmon, tuna and mayonnaise, smoked ham, pâté, Boursin, etc... - but I've also seen sweet versions at kids' parties with Nutella, jam, peanut butter, honey, etc. Put the loaf back together with the lid on to keep it all fresh until you're ready to eat it. It's much more impressive than a plate full of sandwiches !

You can even make it in advance and freeze it, then bring it out a few hours before it is needed, to hep reduce stress levels when you have a million other things to be getting on with !

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Have you had your Christmas pudding fix ?!

Madhouse recipe : Minty Lamb Fricassée #Christmascondiments

TMNT Pop-Up Pizza Playset review

It may be just after Christmas and its inevitable present overload, but Pierre was still very happy to receive some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys to review.

The main box, shaped to look just like a pizza box which is rather clever, is a Pop-Up Pizza Playset featuring Anchovy Alley. (The four grey corners are actually just part of the packaging and can be thrown away, as I discovered after spending ages trying to work out where they should go !)

The playset is really simple to set up as it literally pops up as you open the box and click the walls into place. The enclosed sticker sheet allows you to create a really impressive turtletastic decor.

The official blurb says : "The ultimate pop-up playset that plays into the Turtles love for all things pizza. This playset transforms from a super compact pizza box for easy portability, to a multi-level playset that stands 45cm tall when open. It also includes multiple features such as traps doors, shooting pizzaz and break through doors. The pizza-shooter was the first thing that caught Pierre's eye - it took a bit of practice but he soon had pizzas whizzing all over the place and falling on the floor !

He loved opening the different doorways and arches and peeping through. You can also lift up the manhole cover (and although it comes right off rather easily, it's also simple to clip back on.)

While he was busy exploring the pizza parlour, I opened up the other two add-ons : a turtle figurine (we got Donatello) and a tube of deliciously yucky-looking goo. The official description says : "Ooze control! Fighting the Kraang, the Turtles learned the power and dangers of the Mutagen Ooze - and watched it create some awesome allies and awful adversaries. With the Ooze-zooka, the Kraang and The Foot Clan are in for a sticky surprise! Donnie stands 12cm tall and has 12 points of articulation."

The figurine comes with a little sachet of ooze that you can use to load the ooze-zooka gun (plus you can buy the bigger refill separately). Pierre was very intrigued and loved squishing it about.

I was put off by the warnings on the packaging though - "Protect play surfaces before use. Do not use on surfaces that could be damaged by water. Ooze may stain or stick to some surfaces. Avoid carpets, clothing, walls and furniture. Do not use the product if there is broken/damaged skin." As we were visiting the Madhouse grandparents, I decided to hold back on the ooze until we were in our own house and I could go for maximum damage limitation with plastic tablecloths !

Even without the ooze, Pierre had great fun using the turtle figurine in the playset. His hands can grab hold of the pipes to swing around and he can also hold pizzas.

Pierre loved making him go through all the different openings.

He soon started making up dialogues and stories that were really quite inventive and had me laughing at his imagination.

Juliette was intrigued by all the laughter and soon came to join in, helping with the make-believe play. Once they'd finished, it was really quick to pack away - it folds back down just as quickly as it popped up, although I would have liked to have room in the box to put the ooze and turtle figurine in with the playset.

The playset is made entirely of plastic and seemed quite flimsy to me, but it withstood some quite energetic play with no damage at all. The Madhouse Mini-testers thought it was great fun.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : pizza playset £24.99, turtle figurine £9.99

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

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Kids' DVD review : Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Collection

Bio Green Dairy Lassi Yogurt Smoothie review

When I was asked if we'd like to try out some lassi drinks from Bio Green Dairy, the first thing that popped into my mind was Lassie the clever collie, rescuing her hapless owners from numerous dangers ! Seriously though, traditional lassi is a blend of yogurt, spices and sometimes fruit that hails from the Indian Subcontinent. The Bio Green Dairy's range of lassi yogurt smoothies use tropical fruit in homage to these exotic origins. We tried Lychee and Mango flavours, but they also come in Passion Fruit, Sweet Lassi (infused with Cardamom), Ayran Lassi or Lebanese-style Yogurt.

We received the mango and lychee lassi to try out. Each 250ml bottle contains just enough to fill a tall glass, but they also come in 500ml and 1 litre bottles. Both flavours are delicious. If you served them with a spoon, I'd happily eat them as a dessert ! The lovely fruity flavours taste natural and perfectly complement the creaminess of the yogurt. They were a hit with the Madhouse Mini-testers and also the adults. They're not too heavy and are really refreshing.

100ml of the mango lassi contains 77 calories, 2.7g of protein, 13.6g of carbs and 1.4g of fat and the same quantity of lychee lassi contains 83 calories, 2.2g of protein, 15.6g of carbs and 1.4g of fat. They're a healthy option for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack as they contain bio-live yogurt and real fruit and are a great source of calcium.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £1 for 250ml, £1.60 for 500ml, £2.90 for 1 litre

for more information : http://www.biogreendairy.com/

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

Other reviews you may be interested in :

The Lake District Dairy Co's Frumoo and Caffe Latte review

Saturday 28 December 2013

Ryvita Thins review

With the prospect of spending far too many evenings nibbling on calorie-laden snacks over the festive period on the horizon, I was very pleased to received some Ryvita Thins to try out. They're thin, crispy, savoury flatbread squares that are baked to help keep the calorie and fat content down.

The first bag we tried was Sweet Chilli flavour which contain 80 calories and 0.3g of fat per serving of about 10 bites. The Madhouse Mini-testers thought they were a bit too spicy but the adults found them quite tame and I'd even say slightly bland. They're lovely dipped in guacamole or tangy cheese sauce though, although this does significantly raise the calorie count !

The other pack, Cheddar & Cracked Black Pepper, containing 89 calories and 2.1g of fat per 10 bite serving, got a unanimous thumbs-up though. They have a more subtle, delicate flavour than the usual cheesy snacks on the market, but they're also more sophisticated than a bag of Cheesy Wotsits or cheese and onion crisps !

All in all, they're a very satisfactory alternative to crisps or peanuts if you're watching your waistline.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £1.89 for 125g

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

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Degustabox December box review

The Lake District Dairy Co's Frumoo and Caffe Latte review

I've come to love The Lake District Dairy Co's Quark, which is a naturally fat-free soft cheese that can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes - you may remember us trying out New York Cheesecake, Pina Quarkada, Lemon Quark Instant Cheesecake and Tropical Frozen Hearts - so I was keen to see what we'd think of their new drinks, Caffe Latte and Frumoo.

Caffe Latte is a blend of fresh British milk and specially selected premium Arabica coffee. It comes in two flavours, Original and Vanilla, and as I'm not keen on coffee, I handed both over to Madhouse Daddy to try. He's never tried chilled coffee before so he was a bit dubious, but he said that it's something he might drink in the summer. The original has a nice but not overly strong coffee taste and the vanilla one was a bit too sweet for his tastes (but don't forget he's French so has black coffee strong enough for the spoon to stand up in !).

The bottles of Frumoo got a warmer reception from the Madhouse Mini-testers who loved both the Strawberry & Blackberry and Raspberry & Blueberry flavours. They reminded us of less sweet milkshakes or less thick smoothies and I love the fact that they are a blend of fresh milk and real fruit, rather than many of the UHT-treated alternatives that are often packed with artificial flavours and preservatives.

100ml of Frumoo contains 75 calories, 2.2g of fat (of which 0.9g saturates), 12g of carbs (of which 10.9g sugars), 0.9g of fibre and 0.9g of protein. The Caffe Latte drinks are slightly lower in calories, containing about 130 per bottle, which is better than many high street versions and not too bad for an occasional treat, but still quite high, in my opinion.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £1.30 for 230ml

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

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Jordans Recipe Challenge : Seeded Cranberry Breakfast Muffins

Friday 27 December 2013

Children's book review : Dead Man's Cove (A Laura Marlin Mystery) - Lauren St John

We've only just discovered the Laura Marlin Mystery series, having been sent the first book in the collection, Dead Man's Cove, to review, but I've just been to investigate and there are already another three books on the shelves - Kidnap in the Caribbean, Kentucky Thriller and Rendezvous in Russia.

The first episode is set in a less exotic but nevertheless wild and windswept location, namely Cornwall. We meet kind-hearted but strong-willed Laura, who has been living in a children's home ever since her single mum died giving birth to her eleven years ago. Her life is about to change dramatically as an unknown uncle has just come to light and agreed to take in his niece, despite only just learning of her existence.

Laura discovers the sleepy town of St Ives and is given a free rein by her uncle, who is rather enigmatic, spends all hours out at work and is pretty much reclusive. Laura makes a new friend, Tariq, from the corner shop, until he mysteriously decides he doesn't want to be friends with her any more, and she ends up adopting a three-legged husky in need of a home. Despite her dream of becoming a famous detective, she doesn't go out of her way looking for adventures and mysteries to solve - they seem to find her !

The book reminded me very much of the Famous Five books I enjoyed as a child but brought right up to date and given a social conscience. The book touches on some serious issues, such as the human slavery trade, illegal immigation and child abuse, but in a very child-friendly way. I love the strong female character who would give any of her male counterparts a run for their money, and the supporting cast of characters add some humorous moments.

Even as a grown-up, I found it well written and exciting, so I'll definitely be looking out for the other books in the series, to read myself before passing them on to Sophie and Juliette. The book was given the impressive title of Blue Peter Book of the Year 2011, so I'm not the only one to be won over. I'd say it is suited to readers of both sexes, aged around 8-12.

The Madhouse Mini-testers' final words :

8-year-old Juliette's review : It was a really good story because it was exciting and you didn't know what would happen in the end. I like the animals, especially the dog with three legs because nobody wanted him but he ended up being a hero.

12-year-old Sophie's review : It reminded me of a less babyish Enid Blyton story, but more modern because it mentions mobile phones and internet and seems more realistic. I like the way it mentions real life things like children being brought over from Bangladesh and being promised a great new life but being exploited in factories, as well as the traditional adventure story.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Childrens (7 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444001485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444001488
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book, in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Picture book review : Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps! - Nicholas Allan

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...