Sunday 30 November 2014

Giveaway #443 : Win 2 x The Art of Being A Brilliant Teenager - closed - winners Lynn Fancy, Samantha Ripley O' Donnell

*** Click through to read our review of the book ! ***

Everyone is familiar with the cliché of the typical teenager who stays in their bedroom, grunting and grumbling about life, homework, parents and relationships. Although normal behaviour at this age, it’s important that this attitude doesn’t become a defining personality trait throughout life.

This book is a guide to starting the journey to an ideal life as a teen, instead of wasting time being a drip.

The Art of Being A Brilliant Teenager helps support young people to become the very best version of themselves—and shows them how to figure out who that is, exactly. Written by experts in the art of happiness and positive psychology, this new book will help teenagers become brilliant at school, work and life in general. They will learn to stay cool under all the pressures they’re facing and plot a map for the future that takes them wherever it is they want to go.

The Art of Being A Brilliant Teenager will help young readers:

Discover who they are and what they want out of life
Stop moaning and get moving now, while there's plenty of time
Lose their bad habits before they become part of their personality
Figure out how they want to contribute and find a way to do it

This is a book for ambitious teens who are ready to become proactive, determined, successful and most importantly: happy! And for parents and teachers desperate to turn a down-beat teenager into a ray of positivity and delight, How to Be a Brilliant Teenager is here to help.

What the official blurb fails to mention is that it is also a hilarious read that will have teen readers (and quite probably their parents) sniggering at the numerous jokes and illustrations too !

The publishers have kindly offered to send a copy of the book to two lucky Madhouse Family Reviews readers - perfect for popping in your teen's Christmas stocking to kick off some New Year's resolutions ! Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below :

UK only. Closing date : 13/12/14

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. Madhouse Family Reviews cannot be held responsible for any prizes that go astray !

Other giveaways you may be interested in :

Teen read review : The Art of Being A Brilliant Teenager - Andy Cope, Andy Whittaker, Darrell Woodman & Amy Bradley

*** Don't miss my giveaway here to win 2 copies of the book ! ***

You can't judge a book by its cover, which is just as well, because the minimalist, bland cover for The Art of Being A Brilliant Teenager by Andy Cope, Andy Whittaker, Darrell Woodman & Amy Bradley is pretty uninspiring. When I showed it to 13-year-old Sophie, she made a non-commital "hmmm" noise and shrugged.

Then she opened the book and turned to the contents page and had a much more enthusiastic reaction. Exit minimalist, bland and uninspiring, enter vibrant, visually appealing and eye-popping !

As it targets teens, who are often rather reluctant readers (or they just don't have the time, in amongst texting their mates, playing on the X-Box and updating their Facebook status!), rather than being made up of large chunks of text, it is interspersed with colourful illustrations and amusing inspirational quotes.

The tone is light-hearted and frequently irreverent, with a smattering of swearwords - nothing too bad, think along the lines of crap, effing, lazy buggers, arse and s**t (not sure why that last one is asterisked out when the others aren't !). It might offend a few parents (or grandparents, who may have bought the book as a "useful Christmas present" !) but trust me, I'm a teacher, the teens reading it won't even raise an eyebrow because they use these words, and many more that are much worse, as an integral part of their everyday vocabulary ! The book warns : "This book is as far removed from Shakespeare as you can get. Your English teacher will think this book is awful. At least, that's what we hope."

Sometimes, I thought the authors were trying just a little bit too hard to be matey and remove themselves from the "figure of authority" role, hanging with the teens they're trying to relate to. "We couldn't give a monkey's about you reading other books or whether you tidy your room. We are not your parents." This undoubtedly makes the book more appealing to their target audience though, who will feel like they're listening to a slightly older brother or streetwise friend, rather than a parent or teacher that they are more likely to be in conflict with.

I did have a few moments when I raised my eyebrows at a couple of comments that seemed slightly near-the-mark. For example, "Keep out of jail. (Not a good place. Nasty things happen in jail when you drop the soap.)" ! They did make me smirk too though, so I'm sure teens would find it hilarious (or, alternatively, it would go straight over their heads.)

Another paragraph takes the reader back to their earliest moments of existence, still in their mother's womb. "After 9 months of splashing about in amniotic fluid, you enter the world and someone slaps your arse. Nice one ! And that more or less sets the tone." For the rest of your life but also for the rest of the book !

But it's not all silliness and slightly rude words to make the readers laugh. The book does help put across some really good messages about feeling good about yourself and putting everything into life now to get the best future but also present possible. It's not at all preachy or condescending (as I think I have already shown !) and the little anecdotes and tongue-in-cheek case studies help readers to find their own way, realising by themselves the messages that the authors want to put across with just the slightest nudge in the right direction.

It's a motivational, feel-good read that targets teens but also has some nuggets of wisdom for nosy parents who may be sneaking a peek when the kids are in bed. (In case that's you, you might like to know that the authors have also released The Art of Being Brilliant and Be Brilliant Every Day for grown-ups.) Unlike many indigestible self-help books, it will have you  racing through it, looking for the next nugget of wisdom or snigger-inducing joke, whichever comes first.

It would make a great stocking filler for teens and will undoubtedly be a lot more effective than hearing a parent constantly nagging about getting homework done, taking school more seriously or getting out of bed before lunchtime ! If you fancy getting yor mitts on one, don't go away - I have a giveaway coming right up where you can win two copies just in time for Christmas.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £10.99

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Capstone; 1 edition (24 Oct 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857085786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857085788
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.5 x 19.9 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Children's book review : Malala - The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Changed The World

Sunday weigh-in : That's more like it !

After a couple of catastrophic weeks (well, great weeks actually - my birthday and a weekend trip to London - but catastrophic for the scales!), I just wanted a loss, however small, this week.

I had no time for fitness (which is why the quote above made me smile when I saw it) because I was busy filling in school reports and catching up on the stuff that didn't get done last week when Pierre was ill, but I've been making an effort on the food front. Lots of fruit, soup and salads and a couple of Slimfast shakes instead of going to the canteen when the menu looked particularly unhealthy !

So, this morning, the scales flashed up 86.3kg - a 700g loss. That'll do nicely !

Positives of the week

- I had to change the batteries in my Fitbug Orb which reminded me, I still haven't downloaded the Kiq 12-week plan. Internet was playing up all week but I will sort it today. It might give me an extra boost.

- On the 2 days my Fitbug Orb wasn't tracking properly because the battery was dying, I actually got in loads of steps so I was disappointed I didn't hit many targets lately. Time to get the numbers up again, I've been slacking lacking, averaging 10-12,000 per day when I was up in the 15-18,000s. Probably due to the weather mainly.

Current targets 

Last week's target : A loss - however small. 1kg would be fantastic but even 100g would be a step in the right direction. Get back to foodtracking, SlimPod listening and meeting my step targets on at least 4 days. Get back into a positive mindset. (DONE !)

This week's targets : Keep the momentum going - another loss. Let's go for a big push and aim to hit the 84 point somethings - it's feasible just about !

Short-term targets 21kg to lose sounds a lot but breaking it down, aiming for 1kg a week, that's only about 5 months -
first target, get my "weight to lose" badge down into the 40's (it's currently on 51lb) by next week (done),
 second goal - get back to 85.6kg, my pre-holiday weight, by the end of September(done)
third goal : get my "kg lost" badge back into double figures by Halloween
fourth goal : get my "weight loss" badge higher than my "still to go" badge
fifth goal : get back into my (smallest) bright blue jeans comfortably
sixth goal : get back to 77kg - my lowest weight since my pregnancies

Longer-term targets :  Hit my target weight of 68kg. 

STILL TO GO : 18.2kg

Feel free to add your weightloss posts to my weekly linkie - it's great to see how everyone else has been getting on and give each other support and encouragement. You can even grab the linkie code and add it to your own blog if you like. :)

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

 MyFitnessPal - Nutrition Facts For Foods

We Will Do It! Support Linky on The Purple Pumpkin Blog

The #SnowmanSnowdog 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour

We're walking in the air ! It seems unbelievable that the beautiful animation of The Snowman was first shown on Channel 4 at Christmas way back in 1982 - I actually remember watching that first airing and being blown away by the lovely story, fabulous song and great animation. It has been shown every Christmas since and I think I must have watched it every single time - it's a timeless classic and has become part of our traditional Christmas routine as the whole family settles down to watch it together. I was worried that The Snow Dog wouldn't live up to the original but it's another enchanting animation that keeps the snowy magic going on a little bit longer.

Snowman Enterprises Ltd have released a whole host of gorgeously festive new gifts in The Snowman and The Snowdog range for every member of the family to enjoy and we were delighted to be invited to join in their #SnowmanSnowdog 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour. You can check out the complete schedule at the end of my post.

On this blogtour, we've already discovered some of the gift ideas for young fans - a cute finger puppet book and Snowdog soft toy that would make great stocking fillers - but we received a gift that would appeal to older fans as well : a gorgeous (and delicious) The Snowman and The Snowdog Bandstand from Thorntons.

It contains an 80g chocolate Snowman who is almost too cute to eat, along with four little snowman friends (two in white chocolate and two in milk chocolate) and three 30g bags of mini vanilla fudge cubes. The total weight is 258g so the RRP of £10 seems quite reasonable. It's perfect for the whole family to nibble on in front of the telly when The Snowman comes on (if you're not already feeling as stuffed as the turkey !).

Available now from Thorntons stores or online at

Make sure you visit some of the other blogposts on the #SnowmanSnowdog 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour :

24th November - The Handmade Mum kicked off the festivities with her review of 'The Snowman and The Snowdog finger puppet book'
25th November  The Gingerbread House gave a good home to a cute Snowdog soft toy
26th November U me and the kids also checked out 'The Snowman and The Snowdog finger puppet book'
27th November Emma In Bromley also gave us her view of the finger puppet book
28th November Culture Baby Net showcased the DVD boxed set with a Snowdog toy
29th November Mummy's Little Stars also showed off their cute Snowdog soft toy
30th November My turn today - Madhouse Family Reviews checked out the Thorntons Bandstand chocolate selection box
1st December One Blue One Pink's turn to reveal another gift idea
2nd December Time to head to Mummy's Little Peeps
3rd December Little Pink Teacup will have another blogpost to read
4th December Yummy Mummy In Training is the penultimate stopover
5th December Last but not least, Mother Geek is closing the blogtour

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

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

I'm dreaming of a #FinestChristmas !

Saturday 29 November 2014

Put some seasonal cheer into the seasonal chores ! (review)

When Tesco emailed me about their new and exclusive range of method cleaning products, I got very excited. I absolutely adore their beautiful, feel-good fragrances that make the house smell lovely and put a smile on my face while I'm cleaning it (which is no mean feat !). The scent-sational fragrances (sorry !) aren't the only thing I love about them though - they also have amazing eco-friendly credentials. The icing on the cake is their quirky sense of humour and vibrant packaging which looks great behind the kitchen sink.

I received a Limited Edition Honeycomb Apple Dish Soap which does smell as lovely as it sounds. Imagine the juicy fresh crispness of biting into a tart green apple with an undercurrent of sweetness coming through. It's not quite as powerful on really greasy dishes as the big brands of washing-up liquid and I do find that I have to reapply it to my sponge more often than usual, but I think that's a compromise that you have to be prepared to accept if you want a product free from chemical nasties. The Dish Soap costs £2.50 for 630g and comes in a handy pump action bottle. You can complete the Honeycomb Apple fragranced-collection with the Gel Hand Wash (£2.49 for 399g) and All Purpose Cleaner (£3 for 901g).

I also received one of their new planet-friendly air fresheners from the Air range, made with a non-toxic formula and designed with revolutionary pressurised air technology, free from propellants and CFCs. Unlike traditional aerosol air fresheners, these natural born cleaners are packed in an air-tight chamber powered by pure compressed air for a steady, even spray down to the very last drop. The clear recycled plastic bottles allow you to see exactly how much is left in the bottle so you know when you need to buy another one.

We received Wild Poppy, which seemed very apt after visiting the Poppies at The Tower a few weeks ago. It smells lovely, although I'd probably be more inclined to use this one in the springtime and go for a warmer vanilla/cinnamon/orange type of fragrance for the Christmas period. There are three other fragrances available - Beach Sage (for the clean scent of the beach on a misty morning), Lavender or Sweet Tangerine (aha, there's my festive fragrance sorted !). Each of the air fresheners costs £3.50 for 270g.

All of these products are available exclusively at Tesco's.
 For more information :

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

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Aquaint Sanitising Water review

I'm dreaming of a #FinestChristmas !

White is the new black. White Christmas is the new Black Friday that is! While people across the country were risking life and limb yesterday in order to get a cheap telly, Tesco Food were showing what the real spirit of the season is all about by sending some amazing hampers of festive food to some lucky bloggers, including me ! 

I couldn't stop squealing with excitement as I discovered all the lovely goodies nestling inside :

Finest Salted Caramel Truffles
Finest Hand Decorated Fully Iced Holly Wreath Christmas Cake
Finest Belgian Chocolate Yule Log
Finest Deep Filled Mince Pies
Finest 9 Month Matured Cherry Topped Christmas Pudding
Finest Panettone
Finest Dessert Chocolate Collection
Finest Hand Cooked Norfolk Bronze Roast Turkey and Stuffing Crisps
Finest Pigs In Blanket Crisps
Finest Chutney in Kilner Jar
Finest Quince Jelly
Finest King Solomon Dates
Finest Black Olive Grissini Rubata
Finest Christmas Nuts Selection

And to help wash it all down :

Finest Vintage Champagne
Finest Salted Caramel Liqueur
Finest Grape and Elderflower Spritz

What can I say except WOW ! I don't have the details yet but there will be a #finestChristmas twitter party soon with @TescoFood where you will be able to post your foodie questions to 2012 Great British Bake Off winner John Waite. 

It's starting to look a lot like a #FinestChristmas !

Disclosure : I received this amazing hamper, and a lovely surprise it was too ! 

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Getting ready for our #NickJrCraftmas party !

Pierre's made it on to Santa's Nice List ! - Letter from Santa review

Friday 28 November 2014

More Fudge In My Kitchen Creations

Oops, we did it again ! After our very impressive first foray into the wonderful world of fudge-making (click through to see our Vanilla Rainbow Fudge), we decided to make the other two packs from the Kids In The Kitchen Fudge In My Kitchen kit. (Sorry to keep sending you off left right and centre but you can click through there to see the contents of the kit too.) You get all the ingredients you need plus some handy tools, including scrapers and a sugar thermometer.

We started off with the decadently-named Double Chocolate Explosion.

Juliette tipped the contents of the fudge mix - mainly sugar and cocoa powder - into the bowl.

Then she poured in the liquid sugar. Then I remembered that this should be going into a saucepan, not a bowl !

I transferred it over and Juliette watched, fascinated, as it started to bubble and melt (and I repeatedly squawked "Mind your hair" !).

Once it reached the right temperature, it was time for the leap of faith again. It always looks so runny that it will all come cascading off the chopping board as you pour it out of the pan (going very slowly is the key thing here) but, even if it was a close thing this time, some nifty scraping with the spatula managed to keep it all on the board !

After just a few minutes of "kneading" (pushing from side to centre repeatedly with the scraper), it had turned into a squidgy but solid loaf of fudge. Time to push in the chocolate chips. (And look in the box for the popping candy. Either they forgot to put it in or one of my pint-sized kitchen helpers had whisked it away rather sneakily. Either way, we had popping candy-free fudge but it was still very nice !)

The remaining chocolate chips needed to be melted and drizzled over the top.

This fudge was softer and less crumbly than the Rainbow Vanilla one so it was much easier to slice.

While I had a sticky gooey saucepan to wash up, I decided to make up the final batch too.

It's very impressive how it goes so swiftly from this ...

to this ...

to this ! This one had cookie crumb and mini marshmallow inclusions.

This made it a bit crumbly for shaping into a loaf (or maybe I took too long taking the photos so it cooled down too much !) but I got there in the end.

I found the original Vanilla Rainbow fudge to be too sweet for my liking (although Juliette loved it) but these two chocolatey versions weren't quite as sweet so I had to fight Juliette to get a few pieces for myself ! Very nice and making them yourself is very gratifying. They'd make a great handmade Christmas gift if you packaged them up in pretty parcels.

for more information :

Disclosure : We received a fudge-making kit in order to write an honest review. 

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Kiddie Kitchen Fun : Cheerios Frankenstein's Monsters

Fancy being on The Great British Bake Off ?

Every year, my twitter and Facebook feeds are full of #GBBO hashtags.The first time I saw them, I scratched my head and thought eh ? Gobby ? GBH ?! Then I saw it was all about cake and realised it was for The Great British Bake Off ! It's a programme I would never want to take part in - I love cooking for fun but I never strive for perfection and always go for taste over appearance so I'd be useless ! But if you've ever had a secret hankering to be on the box, read on !

I was contacted by Love Productions, the team who make the BBC programme, to say that they’ve just started accepting applications from people who’d like to take part in the 2015 series. They’re trying to get the news out to a variety of amateur bakers across the UK and asked me to help by spreading the word on my blog or to friends/family who could be interested.

There’s more information and the application form is available for download now at Let me know if you apply - I'd love to see someone I know on the show !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Breville Halo+ Health Fryer review - our angelic chips !

Time to discover ... Food Discovery Box (review)

What's Cooking At The Madhouse? menu plan 28/11/14

I managed to clear a bit of space in my kitchen cupboard this week - things no longer fall out when I open the door ! - so I'm going to try to keep the momentum going and use up some more things that have been lurking in there for a while. Especially as I put in a big order of American products today from, a company I discovered in my Degustabox last month - yum, that's one of my Christmas presents to me sorted ! I'll definitely be needing that cupboard space though !


lunch - McDonald's or something because we're off Christmas shopping at a big shopping centre (wish us luck !)

dinner - homemade veggie soup and some sundried tomato & parmesan bread that I made


lunch - roast chicken or pork with roast potatoes and veggies or we might do pierrade for a change

dinner - leftover soup or porridge


dinner - spaghetti carbonara


dinner - baked potatoes with tuna & mayonnaise and salad


lunch - spicy chicken, rice and creamy courgette bake

dinner - bacon and bean casserole with root veg mash


dinner - pesto, bacon & mushroom lasagne


dinner - smoked salmon & cream cheese bagels

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

Meal Planning Monday

Want to see what everyone else is eating ? Head over to Meal Planning Monday at Mrs M's blog !

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...