Friday 31 August 2018

Giveaway #691 : Win a #TermReady hamper of back to school essentials with Vosene Kids - closed - winner Michelle O'Neill

We know back to school can be a busy time, ticking off all the things to do before September while keeping the little ones entertained, so we’ve put together some new term essentials to tick another thing off your list and help get you #TermReady with Vosene Kids!

Water bottle : getting your little ones to keep hydrated all day can be tricky, so we've included a fun water bottle to help them on their way !

Star stamper and stickers - for rewarding good homework with some cute stickers/stamps !

Vosene Kids Squeaky Clean range - to keep hair clean and help avoid those nasty head lice - don't forget to find us in the adult hair care aisle. (See more below.)

Stain remover - for when there's been lots of fun playing in the grass.

Plasters - in case those new shoes hurt.

Sewing kit - for when the uniform mishaps happen !

Permanent pen - so you can pop your little one's name on their uniform with no fuss.

Shoe polish - to keep their shoes ready for assembly !

Crayola pens - to make homework fun.

Key finder - just a fun little way to help you find your keys when you're trying to get out the door. The little ones might enjoy helping !

Squeaky Clean range - The Squeaky Clean range includes 3-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioning Defence Spray to help you to achieve tangle free, shiny hair, as well as offering advanced protection in the fight against head lice, using natural ingredients. (Just so you know, this range is suitable for children over 3 years.) The 3-in-1 Shampoo and 3-in-1 Conditioning Spray is available to buy at Tesco, Sainsbury, ASDA and Morrisons, and the 3-in-1 Shampoo is also available in Boots.

Find out more about the Vosene Kids range at

I'd love to send a back-to-school hamper to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries via the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

UK only. Closing date : 15/9/18

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

Thursday 30 August 2018

JD Bug Scooter from (review)

A few weeks ago, I got an email from, asking if we fancied reviewing something from their website. I didn't know much about them, so we clicked through and spent some time looking at everything from skates and scooters, to boards, bikes and clothing. In the end, we decided on a scooter, and opted for the JD Bug Original Street Pastel Pink MS130B Foldable Scooter, which is considered the safest, most lightweight and most popular kids' foldable scooter in the UK.

I was busy when it arrived, but I told Pierre he could open it up and have a look at it with Sophie. It didn't take long at all to take out of the box and set up ... and cover in a roll of shiny silver tape that we had !

I offered to take him outside to try it out and he was over the moon ! The deck measures 20" x 4" and you can choose the height of the handlebars.

Pierre has spent quite a lot of time scootering (or is it scooting?) about, but this was the first time on a two-wheeler. It took him a little bit of time to feel at ease on it, but once he was ready, we could fold it up, throw it on the back of the car and take it out and about with us.

We took it down to the pier with us and Pierre had lots of fun riding it up and down. I'd told him in advance that I'd carry it when he'd got bored of using it, but that just didn't happen !

It comes with a black carry strap (which I'd put in my handbag for the trip to the pier) and on another trip out, to a local market, I wore it whenever it was too busy for Pierre to ride. It's a great bit of kit that can be used by both kids and grown-ups.

RRP : £48.95 (was £54.95)

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

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Book review : Shatila Stories

The introduction to the book explains the novel concept behind its creation : Pereine editor and publisher Meike brought together nine refugees from the notorious Shatila refugee camp in Beirut to write a piece of collaborative fiction that gives a great insight into life (and death) in the camp. 

Middle Eastern politics and the complicated history of the Palestinians is often hard to understand fully and the book gives a poignant insiders' view of the hardships and dangers within the overcrowded camps. The overlapping stories give a sense of community but also claustrophobia, revealing a lack of privacy and tensions between the different groups forced to live together. All of the refugees have a hard life, but the women are particularly badly treated and undervalued, forced to follow the traditions of arranged marriage and often dealing with domestic abuse on a daily basis.

As with all of Pereine's titles, it's a short book but it packs a punch with haunting tales that will stay with you for a long time after you've turned the final page. If that's not a good enough reason to buy a copy, 50p from the sale of all Peirene books, and all the profits made from the sale of Shatila Stories, will go to support refugees in nine camps throughout Lebanon and Turkey.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £12

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Peirene Press Ltd (18 Jun. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908670487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908670489

Disclosure : I received a review copy.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Madhouse recipe : Herby Bread

The holidays are coming to a close, which means it's time to get back into the kitchen. This bread is simple to throw together while you're tidying up the living room.

Herby Bread

ingredients :

500g flour
decent pinch of salt
sachet of dried yeast
350ml warm water
2tbsp + 1tbsp basil
1tbsp salt crystals
1-2tbsp olive oil

Mix together everything except the salt, oil and the basil. Leave to puff up in a warm bowl. 

After about half an hour, transfer to a baking tray. Use your hands to pull it out to a fairly round shape. Use a wooden spoon handle to create holes all across the top. Scatter with salt, basil and olive oil.

Bake at 230° for about half an hour.

You may want to test it once it's out of the oven, so make sure you have a nice sit down and rest while you do so !

Monday 27 August 2018

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2018 week #35

Our summer travelling is done and we're heading back to work/school next week (in fact, on Friday for me) which means, it's time to start menu planning again. I want to use up lots of things cluttering up the cupboards and freezer this week, before starting the new school year (which always seems like a fresh start just as much as January 1st).


lunch - probably sandwiches on our way back home

dinner - spaghetti bolognese


lunch - pork & pineapple with Chinese veg & bulghur

dinner - I have a spicy chicken wrap kit for me & maybe Sophie, plain chicken with rice for the non-spicy food lovers


lunch - saveloys with potato bake (I have a sachet for potato gratin from a Degustabox)

dinner - fajitas


lunch - fish for me, chicken nuggets for the kids, ebly & green beans

dinner - beef stew with carrots & rice


lunch - mac & cheese with sausages

 dinner - grilled chicken with mushroom risotto


lunch - kids' choice of fast food

dinner - bacon & split pea soup


lunch -  roast dinner - either chicken or gammon

dinner - fridge grazing or leftovers

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

Sunday 26 August 2018

Giveaway #690 : Enjoy #RubiksSummerScrambles with a trio of Rubik's puzzles - closed - winner Claire Woods

As a child of the 80's, Rubik's cubes were the first real playground craze that I remember. For an entire term, which was an eternity at that age, we'd huddle around the wall next to the hopscotch and climbing frame, battling our wits against the original cube, the Rubik's snake and the pyramid, without ever managing to complete any of them, as far as I remember ! 

I was just as excited as the Madhouse kids when we received a trio of Rubik's puzzles to review and we all spent many a happy hour twiddling and twisting and squealing in delight when we managed to get a line or a whole side completed (but sadly not the whole cube - Pierre did inform me that there are tutorials on youtube showing you how to do it though, which I may have to investigate).

The original 3x3 Rubik's cube apparently has 43 quintillion (that's fifteen zeros) combinations but only one solution and it can be solved in under 10 seconds. Not by anyone at The Madhouse though !

John Adams have also got two other Rubik's puzzles that are perfect for little fingers. The 2x2 cube  might look easy, but don’t be fooled - it is still a challenge with 3,674,160 permutations. It's a great starter cube for younger children or adults with a lack of patience !

Set to inspire an entire new generation of budding cubers, Rubik’s Junior hit shelves across the country this summer. The four collectable Rubik’s puzzle toys, aimed at little ones as young as four years old, bring kids’ favourite baby animals to life in iconic Rubik’s form, with a puppy, kitten, bear and bunny to choose from. Just like the classic Rubik’s Cube, each character can be scrambled many different ways, for children to twist back to their original form. Designed specifically for younger children, the pets have fewer mix-up possibilities than a classic cube, so solving the puzzle is satisfyingly just a few moves away.

All of the Rubik's puzzles are addictively entertaining, easy to pop into your handbag to while away idle moments and  help develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills. They were perfect for whiling away long waits at the airport and on the plane when we went to Bulgaria this summer, and they're a good way to start getting kids ready for concentrating in the classroom again. They're also much less annoying than fidget spinners because they don't keep falling on the floor !

 John Adams have offered to send a trio of Rubik's puzzles (the same ones that we reviewed) to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries via the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 10/9/18

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

Saturday 25 August 2018

Book review : Temporoparietal - Kris Ellis

When I started reading the blurb on the back of the book, I didn't think this would be my kind of novel : "The temporoparietal junction lies at the neural interface between mind and matter, contributing to the development of a self which is distinct and differentiated from others". It sounded highfalutin, overly intellectual and heavy-going. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I jumped into a humorous, entertaining account of slightly neurotic twenty-something Matt Pearce listing all the ways a jaunt across the States could result in his untimely death.

Despite his misgivings, he does end up undertaking the epic journey of discovery and self-discovery across America, partly to avoid the toxic fallout from a disastrous relationship. Leaping around with a haphazard chronology, the novel relates his adventures and misadventures riding Greyhound buses from Boston to Chicago, LA and Vegas, as well as his doomed attempts at relationships and numerous boozy nights out back home.

Matt has his fair share of problems - PTSD after his dad's car accident and OCD as a coping mechanism - but he is also an unwitting magnet for trouble, often with humorous results (for the reader if not for Matt).

Matt has a lot of faults, but you can't help but feel sorry for him, especially as he frequently gets into strife on his travels through no fault of his own. Don't be put off by the complicated title - it's a fun, easy read that I really enjoyed.

star rating : 4/5

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Matador (3 July 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1788038908
  • ISBN-13: 978-1788038904

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Fab freebies of the week 25/8

It's hard to believe the holidays are drawing to a close, but this is our last weekend before going back to school - boo ! Whatever you're up to, here's this week's roundup of the latest UK freebies.


Sign up for free Lights by TENA samples - and you could win a £150 lingerie voucher! The pack contains 1 sample of each product in the lights by TENA range, which includes: Light Liners, Liners, Single Wrap Liners, Long Liners and Long Liners with Fresh Scent.

Request a sample of Joy By Dior perfume

AVON EVE DUET : An award-winning fragrance. Click here for your free sample

New fragrance alert! Estée Lauder's newest fragrance, Beautiful Belle, captures the thrill of love with fresh, playful notes of mimosa. Sign up for your complimentary sample.

Want to try Body Shop's new Mediterranean Almond Milk with Oats Instant Soothing Mask for free? Register below to receive your free sample duo*, containing 2 x 5ml sample sachets. *One sample per customer. Subject to availability. Voucher must be redeemed by 10th September 2018. T&Cs apply.

4,000 free tickets to GO! Organic Festival - 8-9 September, Battersea Park, London

Over the next couple of pages, you can claim all these incredible baby freebies!
• Gerri Giraffe Gro Comforter from Amazon (worth £11)• Pack of Pampers Nappies from Emma's Diary (worth £3)• £15 Free Spend at Mothercare (worth £15)• Free Personalised Photo Canvas from BonusPrint (worth £15)• Baby Names 2018 Book from Amazon (worth £7)• Free Copy of Storytime Magazine (worth £4)• and much more!

Join any of our support programmes in August and you'll be entered in to a competition to win one of 1000 gifts! We have a range of support programmes available, including:
Providing between 12-24 weeks of support and guidance, sign-up today to begin your support programme.

Supersavvyme currently have samples of Lenor Unstoppables and Always Boutique Pants.

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

Friday 24 August 2018

Crate Creatures Snort Hog review

MGA Entertainment have recently released a new product called Crate Creatures and there was much excitement when our beastly new friend arrived at The Madhouse.

Having spotted the "Warning : Do not pull tongue" label on the box, Pierre looked slightly nervous when I encouraged him to do it !

Adding to the impression of the crate containing a dangerous beast, the top of the box is closed with a padlocked plastic chain and a crowbar to open the box (which attaches to the side of the crate, so that you don't lose it).

Once he's out, he actually looks rather cute-scary, with his big grin, small tusks and bright blue nails. He reminded us a bit of a Furby because you can interact with him and discover all the things he can do.

Each Crate Creature comes with a favourite tasty snack, which provokes a unique selection of over 45 ghastly noises when they eat the snack, sensitive noses, tongues or horns, and temperamental shaking if you touch just the right nerve. They will also record your voice and repeat it back – monster style!

It wasn't long before Pierre spotted the bright green bogies hiding up his nose.

Much to his delight, Pierre soon discovered that pushing the back of his head pushes out the bogies - ewww ! He also gets very angry if you pull his tongue and throws up his four arms in horror if you take away his snack before he's finished ! Amongst other things, he also growls, vibrates, chatters and his eyes glow when he gets annoyed !

We got Snort Hog, but there are four different Create Creatures to choose from, including Blizz the ice monster, Sizzle the fire-breathing dragon and Pudge. They require 3 x AA batteries but the great news is, they are included.

RRP : £39.99
Suitable for ages 3+
Available now at Smyth’s Toystores

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

Thursday 23 August 2018

#KitchenClearout July roundup and August/September linky

Having just got back from holiday in Bulgaria, I'm all out of sync with the #KitchenClearout roundups, but the summer is always a quiet time anyway, as most of us are either away from our kitchens or just too busy to be blogging ! This month's round-up is short and sweet, but I've no doubt next month's will be busier as we all get back into routine. I'll try to push it back to the beginning of the month but each linky can only run for 33 days maximum so it'll take a bit of tweaking !

So, on to this month's recipes.

I always love Jane from Onions & Paper's quirky recipe names and this one is brilliant :  Pork that thinks it's duck that thinks it's pigeon ! It's basically Peking duck pancakes using pork instead of duck - sounds like a genius idea to me and would be perfect for using up any leftovers after a Sunday roast, whether pork, chicken or beef.

This seems so long ago because it was the end of term, before the school holidays had even begun ! A glut of cherries from school was turned into a classic French cherry clafoutis.

Creamy chicken & chorizo pasta was a tasty way of clearing out the fridge before going on holiday.

Finally for this month, Galina from Chez Maximka started off the holidays with some delicious Anything Goes Cookies, a great way of using up the ends of boxes of cereals and granola that are always taking up space in my kitchen too.

Thanks to everyone for taking part again this month. Hopefully we've given you some inspiration for creating tummy-fill, not land-fill, with the odds and ends lurking in your kitchen.

Feeling inspired and fancy joining in? Have a rummage through your kitchen cupboards, spice rack, freezer or fridge and see if there's anything that needs using up, then come and share your creations with us. Or if it's way past its sell-by date, throw it in the bin and come and tell us what you found ! It would be great if you could add my badge and a link to this post for anyone else who wants to get involved.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Zuru’s new X-Shot blasters for x-citing outdoor fun ! (review)

The Madhouse kids always tend to spend a fair portion of the summer holidays running away from wasps, bees and spiders, which probably explains why they got so excited when Zuru sent us some toys from their new X-Shot Bug Attack range to try out. It was time for revenge !

Very similar to Nerf (but more affordable), the Flying Bugs Swarm Seeker blasters give you the chance to use foam bullets to shoot at bug-themed targets.

The Swarm Seeker pack comes complete with gun, motorised launcher, two flying bugs, a dart clip and 12 reuseable foam darts (RRP: £19.99). If you have more than one child, you can also buy a dual pack with two Swarm Seekers, one motorised launcher, two dart clips, three flying bugs and 24 foam darts (RRP: £29.99), for double the trouble.

The launcher needs four AA batteries (not included) and can actually be used as a separate toy without the gun. Press the bug ring onto the end, press down your foot so it starts spinning, then remove your foot and it will fly into the air.

We played with this part two ways, both trying to shoot the moving target and also, as a two player game, trying to catch it like a frisbee. Both were great fun.

Pierre loved sliding the mechanism to reload the foam darts from the clip and they're soft enough that they don't hurt, if you actually hit someone with one !

Other kits in the range include sticky bugs that walk down walls and windows, giving you a different type of moving target to aim at. Pierre also made his own targets, setting up towers of things to fire at and knock down.

It ended up being a great way of burning off excess energy, as he ran around picking up targets to relaunch and crawling along the floor commando style, firing at Madhouse Nanny's animal gnomes !

We've already lost a couple of the foam darts, because they fly such a long way (up to 80 ft/24 m, according to the box), but the great news is, you can but add-on accessory packs and you also get extras in each pack.

The X-Shot Flying Bugs Attack and the X-Shot full range is available from all major retailers.

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