Thursday, 31 August 2017

Tsum Tsum travels !

I can't believe the summer is already drawing to a close. We've packed in lots of adventures - some of the highlights were a fortnight in Turkey where Pierre learnt to swim without armbands and even underwater, catching up with the family in Sussex and getting up close to a wild dolphin in Brittany. For the final stage of our travels, we had an extra mini suitcase to pack with some special travelling companions.

Some ultra-cute summer-themed Tsum Tsums. I hope they remembered their passports !

After looking around the ferry to find the best place to sit, we all settled in front of the big windows.

The Tsum Tsums wanted to get out and stretch their legs.

Then as the boat left the port, they wanted to head outside to enjoy the views and the sea air.

Mickey, NO !! You can't go scuba diving in the Channel !

There'll be Tsum Tsums over under the White Cliffs of Dover !

I'm sure this seagull was rolling his eyes at us, thinking we were a bunch of nutters ! 

They're very cute and Juliette was over the moon to add them to her collection. The little cardboard suitcase-shaped box contains Mickey and Minnie in diving mode, complete with diving mask and oxygen tank for Mickey and swimming goggles for Minnie.

Donald is having a go on a surfboard.

Dumbo and Daisy Duck have got their summer togs on, but our ultimate favourite is Goofy, with his cool rubber ring.

If you want to check out where some other bloggers took their Tsum Tsums over the summer, search for the #tsumtsumtravels hashtag on instagram.

Disclosure : We received some Tsum Tsums to take on our travels.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

We've been discovering the new #Ben10Toys range

As I told you earlier in the week, there's a #Ben10Toys twitter party taking place tomorrow (Thursday 31st August), from 1pm - 3pm, where you will have the chance to discover and hopefully win some of the new toy range from Flair. I'll be one of the hosts so make sure you follow @cherylp59 and @UKMumsTV, as well as the #Ben10Toys hashtag, to join in.

We received a fabulous party pack, including lots of the new toys, so that we could have a real life party with some of Pierre's friends to showcase the range. More about that in another blogpost coming soon. In the meantime, I thought you might like to have a look too.

The first thing that caught Pierre's eye was the Transform-n-Battle, which allows your child to dress up as Ben 10.

There are two different aliens available - either the extending fire blast that we got, or a diamond shard weapon.

Pierre thought this was great fun, although the mask was a little on the small side. At age 8, he's probably in the upper limit of the intended age range though.

You can't have Ben 10 without an Omnitrix - if you're not familiar with the Ben 10 concept, he found an alien watch called the Omnitrix which allows him to transform into ten different characters - and Pierre was delighted to discover a Deluxe Omnitrix in the box. As a parent, I was delighted to learn that it came with batteries already installed !

Inspired by the hit TV show, this Omnitrix watch features 100+ alien phrases, as well as lights and sounds.

Turn the dial to select your hero alien - you can choose between Grey Matter, Heatblast, Diamondhead, Forearms, Cannon Bolt, XLR8, Wildvine, Stinkfly, Upgrade and Overflow - then push the button to pop up the top, see the omnitrix magically light up and hear the alien speak. The Deluxe Omnitrix fits easily on your child's wrist with a Velcro strap.

There is also a basic Omnitrix, which features lights, sounds and 40+ alien phrases, including "Its hero time!", "You can't catch me!", "It's time to turn up the heat!" and many more. Use the power of ten to defeat the villains but keep an eye on the time!

We also discovered the range of basic action figures (8 available), which are articulated and come with accessories to encourage imaginative make-believe play. Each figure is approximately 4-5.5 inches tall. The flyer in each pack also shows off the Power Up figures (3 available), which have a power-up button to give your alien a surging burst of energy, complete with unique light up effects and signature alien phrases - and the Super Deluxe figures (choose between characters Heatblast and Forearms), which are 11" tall.

We got busy unboxing and soon discovered Ben Tennyson & Grey Matter, XLR8 with race accessories (three cones) and Cannonbolt.

Our favourites were Heatblast, complete with two flame blasts, Hex, with his snake-topped staff, and Steam Smythe, with his steampunk scorpion stinger.

There is also Four Arms, who missed the photo call apparently - presumably because Pierre was in too much of a rush to play with them all ! He comes with a cool breakable chain. Also in the flyer for the basic figures collection are Diamondhead, Upgrade, Overflow, Wildvine, Stinkfly and Dr Animo - I'm not sure if these are already available though.

The flyer also shows a  Rust Bucket play set, which starts off as a vehicle ...

... then transforms into a giant 3-level playset that stands over 2 feet tall! Father Christmas - I hope you're taking notes !

Don't forget tomorrow's twitter party, where you will be able to win some of the toys, as well as join in all the party fun !

Disclosure : We received a party pack, including the toys.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Book review : My Name Is No One - J C Graeme

In this revisited version of The Odyssey, Odysseus is a slightly pathetic barfly, selling his tales for a jug of wine from friendly barkeeper, and amateur history-keeper, Homer. He promises a good story and he certainly gives one - who knows if it's true or not. (This is equally true for the actual Odyssey, as the author's notes explain at the end.)

You'll enjoy the book a great deal more if you have some basic knowledge of Greek mythology and its key figures and stories. In this book, Odysseus encounters much more realistic versions of the monsters and mythical figures of the original tales - for example, the Sirens are singers in a tavern and Circe the witch, who transforms people into pigs, becomes a hypnotist who makes her spectators act like animals. I thought this modernised and more realistic way of interpreting the stories was very clever.

I enjoyed the book even more as I was actually on holiday in the lands of Odysseus when I read it, in Fethiye, Turkey, just down the coast from Bodrum (or Halicarnassus, as it was known). Looking around at the multitude of tiny islands and rocky coves in the area, I could really imagine Odysseus bobbing about in his boat, having adventures and strange encounters. 

star rating : 4/5

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Taniwha Press UK (1 July 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957584997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957584990

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

Madhouse recipe : Quick midweek chicken and noodle stir-fry

This is one of my go-to, throw-it-all-together meals that I would say doesn't warrant a recipe, but when I posted my review of the August Degustabox last week, several people on social media replied that they have too many noodles from previous boxes in the cupboard and don't know what to do with them. This surprised me because they're always one of the first things to be used in our boxes, so here's what I do with them - you can mix up the combinations of meat (using turkey, pork, beef, duck or salmon, ...) and veggies (red or green peppers, bamboo shoots, broccoli, courgettes ...) depending on what's in the fridge.

Another thing that apparently puts some people off using them are the flavours. This Degustabox had Sticky Hoisin Duck and Fiery Sweet Chilli varieties, but if you don't like spicy food or particular spices and flavours, it really doesn't matter.

Inside the pack, you get plain noodles with the flavoured oil and seasoning separate, so you can leave those out and just make plain noodles, which I often do if making a family meal that the Madhouse kids will be eating. I don't throw the rest away though - it gets incorporated into other dishes, such as soups, stir fries or casseroles.

Quick midweek chicken and noodle stir-fry

ingredients :

olive oil or vegetable oil
3 chicken breasts
2 onions, sliced
1 carrot, spiralized or cut into thin strips with a potato peeler
a pack of mange-tout
a pack of baby corn, halved
3 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a bag of bean sprouts
a pack of chow mein sauce (or use whatever you have - hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, sweet & sour sauce, ...)
2 packs of instant noodles
soy sauce (optional)
black sesame oil (optional)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Chop the chicken into chunks and fry until it goes white.

 Soak the noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and reserve. 

Add the veggies (except the bean sprouts - I add them right at the end to retain crunch) and toss around with the chicken for 5 minutes until they go slightly soft but stay crunchy.

Add the sauce of your choice - I used two packs of chow mein sauce for a family of five, but I often just throw in whatever is in the cupboard and needs using up.

 Add the noodles and give it all a good stir.

Toss in the bean sprouts and cook for a couple of minutes until it all reduces in volume when they soften (but don't overcook them - it needs to stay fresh and crunchy).

Drizzle over some soy sauce and/or black sesame oil if you have some. Adjust the balance of flavours with rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, etc to suit your tastes. Serve immediately.

This is a great dish for using up all the odds and ends of vegetables from the fridge, as well as random packs of noodles, so I'm adding it to this month's #KitchenClearout linky.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Get ready for a #Ben10Toys Twitter Party on Thursday !

On Thursday 31st August from 1pm - 3pm, will be hosting an amazing #Ben10Toys Twitter Party that you can be a part of.

Simply log onto Twitter on the above date and join in the fun using the hashtag #Ben10Toys. There will be competitions, activities and more to be involved in.

Along with some other bloggers, I'll be showcasing the fabulous new range of Ben 10 toys from Flair.

Pierre has already been trying them out and he's been having great fun. They have everything from a Transform-n-Battle Heatblast and a Deluxe Omnitrix ...

... to a wide selection of Ben 10 figures. I'll have a full review coming up on my blog in the next few days.

As always, there will be spot prizes so if you have a Ben 10 fan in your midst (or if you're already stocking up on Christmas gifts - the kids are almost back at school so I can say it now !), make sure you come along. Remember to follow @UKMumstv on Twitter and use the #Ben10toys hashtag. Look out for my tweets too @cherylp59.

Disclosure : I received a selection of toys to review and a party pack.
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