Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Get More Vits Orange & Mango Drink review

The summer has arrived - yippee ! School's out so it's time for long summer holidays, hot sunny days and lots of trips out with the kids. If we're heading into the countryside or to a beach - anywhere where we may not be close to shops - I always make sure I have some drinks (and usually some snacks too !) stuffed into my bag to tide us over. We were therefore very pleased to receive some bottles of Orange & Mango Get More Vits drinks to try out - and even more so once we'd tasted them !

Get More Vits are a range of kid-friendly fruity drinks that include extra vitamins - we reviewed them a couple of years ago as Get More Kids drinks and the kids loved them all. We've just been trying out the Orange & Mango flavour which is totally delicious and perfect for the summer. They taste even better straight from the fridge, in my opinion, but the kids like them whatever the temperature. 

This flavour includes a blend of B vitamins to support energy levels and the immune system, plus vitamin D and calcium for growing bones. They are fortified with 50% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of B1, B3, B6, B7, B12 and D. They are made with natural spring water and aren't fizzy, which is great news for Juliette who doesn't like fizzy drinks. They taste beautifully sweet and fruity but they are nevertheless sugar free. What's not to like?!

They come in a 330ml bottle which can be resealed, unlike a can, making it better value when you're out and about. Available at Ocado, you can pick up five bottles for £4. We'll definitely be stocking up !

for more information :

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

Monday, 15 July 2019

Book review : You Would Have Missed Me - Birgit Vanderbeke

Peirene have released another book from the There Be Monsters series : You Would Have Missed Me by Birgit Vanderbeke, skilfully translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.

The author, who is one of Germany's most successful authors, was born in Dahme, East Germany, in 1956. When she was six years old, her family fled to the West and she grew up in Frankfurt. I have no idea if the book is autobiographical or not, but it certainly could be.

The narrator is a seven-year-old girl who has arrived in West Germany in the early 1960's from a camp for displaced people. She lives with her parents - a mother who largely ignores her and a father with a violent streak who doesn't seem to like her very much - but she has a few friends outside of her home who offer her a few moments of light relief. 

For her birthday, the girl wants just one thing - a cat - but she already knows that she has no chance of receiving one. Instead, she is given an illuminated globe, which initially leaves her feeling disappointed, but ultimately offers her a way to escape the misery of her depressing homelife.

In terms of action, not much happens, but the text is strangely enchanting and I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. The childish, innocent interpretations of things add a sense of humour and allow the reader to read more into certain statements or situations than the narrator actually understands.

The whole thing should be depressing, but it is strangely heartwarming. The young girl needs so little to find happiness and, despite their problems, the family are slowly moving upwards so there is a sense of hope for the future. I always think of East Germany as a bleak, hopeless place, so it was interesting to see the little girl's memories of her grandmother keeping rabbits and baking wonderful cakes. 

Hardly anyone talks about Berlin in the times of the Wall any more, so it was interesting to take a look back at life in Germany after the war.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £12

  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: Peirene Press Ltd (1 Jun. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908670525
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908670526
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book in order to share my honest opinion.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Fab freebies of the week 13/7

Wow, how can it be Saturday already ?! I've already been on holiday for a week and we've been so busy, I haven't even had time to blog (apart from a post that was scheduled a few weeks ago !). We decided to start off the holidays by going to Lille for the day, hitting the shops and grabbing a few bargains in the sales. On Wednesday, we headed to Paris, checking out the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and having a lovely river cruise on the Seine. It actually worked out quite cheap on the train as Pierre has a kids' travel card which means he can take 3 guests for €1 each - perfect ! Now, we're getting everything sorted for our trip to Alaska - can't wait ! - and I'm also trying to have a sort out in the house,as well as catch up on laundry. I'll get there in the end, but it would be nice to have a clone of me to help out ! Right,on to this week's freebie roundup - fill yer boots !


Join the URBAN DECAY STAY NAKED Community tour in Debenhams! It's only hitting five towns but hopefully some of you might make it :)
Join us in store to receive a colour-matched sample of the new Stay Naked foundation before it launches! If you're one of the first 50 Community members to arrive in each location (you can sign up on the day!) you'll also receive an Urban Decay complexion goodie bag worth over £50
London Oxford Street - Sat 20th July
Birmingham - Tues 23rd July
Dublin - Wed 24th July
Glasgow - Fri 26th July
Manchester - Sat 27th July

The Insiders are looking for another 2,000 Insiders who are parents of babies aged between 0 and 6 months to try Bepanthen® Nappy Care Ointment. Last few days to sign up :)

Complete the form below to receive your £1 off Magnum Ice Cream coupon in the post. Will you opt for a single bar or get money off a multipack? :)

Win NEOM's new Intensive Skin Treatment Candle – we've 30 of these multi-taskers to be won!

Win 1 of 50 sensational cookery sets worth over £100 each from Gressingham Duck.

Fill in your details for a full refund on your Carlsberg Danish Pilsner 6x 330ml Snap Pack.

On Fold3 (by Ancestry) - Discover your own American history.
To commemorate Independence Day, find the patriots in your family who helped give birth to a new nation with FREE ACCESS* to our Revolutionary War Records - free until July 15th


Be one of 50,000 people that Grow Wild will help grow and enjoy UK native wildflowers in containers and small urban spaces with free seeds. No growing experience required!

New additions to our #ecofriendly range of packaging. Biodegradable & Recyclable fluted mailing envelopes offering protection for your products in transit. Request a sample today! …

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.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

coming soon !

Friday, 12 July 2019

Book review : Sea of Bones - Deborah O' Donoghue

Sea of Bones is a chilling, spine-tingling new novel from Deborah O' Donoghue, which reminds me of the highly popular Jo Nesbo books. The opening chapters are incredibly short and give brief glimpses into goings-on that the reader has no hope of understanding. The rest of the book will slowly look for truths that will uncover their meaning.

The action takes place in and around an isolated Scottish coastal region where Beth, a promising young textiles student, has been staying in her aunt Juliet's beach cottage. We see her running along the beach, then, in the next chapter, her body is found washed up on the shore. For the police, suicide seems the likeliest explanation, especially as a note is found alongside her shoes, but to Juliet, this is totally impossible and she sets out looking for clues to what really happened.

She chats with the neighbours, a group of musicians living in the nearest cottage along the beach, and digs deeper into her niece's belongings, but the truth is hard to uncover. Calling on those around her - an old friend who works on the local police force, her bi-polar sister (Beth's mother) and her ex-husband (Beth's father), her own long-suffering husband, ... - she starts to see some suspicious details and soon puts her life at risk, following them up. Chasing these hints further south leads to the discovery of some horrific events in Manchester's sordid underworld that will finally reveal what really happened.

I can't really tell you any more without giving you some serious spoilers, but it is a fast-paced, exciting novel that will take you to unexpected places. Juliet is ruthless in her quest to uncover the truth, which puts some very dangerous noses out of joint. I could really believe in the main plotline, but some of the extras - notably the political and journalistic aspects - seemed a bit excess to requirements. It's a great read though, perfect for whiling away a pleasant hour or three by the pool this summer ! 


star rating : 4.5/5

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (1 July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1789550025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1789550023

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Monday, 8 July 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #28

We made it to the summer holidays - woohoo ! My plan this week was to buy the absolute minimum (just toilet roll, orange juice and toothpaste !) and just work through everything already in the kitchen and freezer, to make some space, save some money and just generally have a clearout. Could be interesting ! I'm also planning lunches and evening meals, although the lunches will be subject to change, if we go out places.


lunch - pasta with pesto for me, tomato sauce or cream for the kids, bacon, cherry tomatoes and cheese for those who want it

dinner - pizza


lunch - paella - just using up what we have so I think it will be with white fish, chorizo, prawns, red pepper, onions, .... sounds good to me !

dinner - cottage pie


lunch - sausages, chips & beans

dinner - chicken thighs with roast potatoes, veg & gravy


lunch - chicken curry with rice & salad

dinner - creamy pork (with red pepper, onions, mushrooms, spices and whatever else I find in the fridge) with spaghetti


 lunch - pork chops with boiled potatoes and ratatouille

dinner - Southern fried chicken (but baked), coleslaw & rice


lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - sandwiches, salad or fridge clearout


lunch - spicy chicken with rice & salad

dinner - sandwiches, salads or leftovers

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


Saturday, 6 July 2019

Fab freebies of the week 6/7

Well, what a crazy busy week that was last week ! I barely had any time to post on my blog, so hopefully, I'll be catching up next week, because ... ta da da ... school's out for the summer ! Woohoo ! Even better news, Sophie's exams results are through and she passed ! So, that's two bits of great news - I wonder what the third will be :) Well, I hope you all have a great weekend too, starting off with this week's freebie roundup.


A great giveaway from Foxdenton Gin Liqueurs - Enter your email for your chance to win one of the 133 bottles Foxdenton is giving away

Bodyform are giving away free towel and liner samples

We are looking for another 2000 Insiders who are parents of babies aged 0 to 6 months to try Bepanthen® Nappy Care Ointment. Are you interested? If so, then make sure you apply before 19th July.

Win 1 of 10 hampers or 1 of 100 Good Housekeeping subscriptions with Always Discreet

This looks like a great offer from The Body Shop : Simply register for a voucher to receive a free 60ml product and take it to your nearest participating store. *One free Travel Size product per customer. Subject to availability. Voucher must be submitted by 12th July 2019. If successful, voucher must be redeemed instore by 14th July.
You can choose one free 60ml product rrp £2 from the following, depending on stock availability: Banana Shampoo, Banana Conditioner, Green Tea Shampoo, Green Tea Conditioner Ginger Shampoo, Strawberry Shampoo, Strawberry Conditioner, Coconut Shower Cream, Mango Shower Gel, Satsuma Shower Gel, Shea Shower Cream, Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel, Moringa Shower Gel, Olive Shower Gel, Argan Shower Gel, British Rose Shower Gel, Green Tea Shower Gel, Almond Milk & Honey Shower Cream

For your chance to win one of 30 Tenderstem® broccoli branded hessian bags every month, sign up to our nifty newsletter.

From Poshly : Coming soon! πŸ’„ Get ready for National Lipstick Day on July 29! We are sending out 20,000+ lipsticks from brands like @MilaniCosmetics (like this gorgeous Color Statement Lipstick in the shade Matte Love) to celebrate! Sign up on - AND tell your friends to sign up! - before July 29 so you get the alert when lipsticks are available to claim! πŸ’‹⁠ #NationalLipstickDay #LipstickLover #MakeupJunkie

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.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Book review : The Frozen Shroud - Martin Edwards

I've just finished reading The Frozen Shroud by Martin Edwards, which I picked up in the 3-for-£5 deal at The Works. It is labelled as book 6 in the Lake District Mysteries series, but it can be enjoyed perfectly well as a stand-alone novel.

The action takes place in a charming, remote village called Ravenbank, on the shores of Ullswater, which seems to have a sinister, little-known identity as a hub of murder. Back before the First World War, a young woman's body was discovered with a makeshift shroud frozen to her battered face, then, five years ago, another body was discovered in similar circumstances. In both cases, a likely suspect was discovered but died before they could be charged - one by suicide and one in an accident.

The murders are a spine-tingling topic of conversation for the locals and, as it is Halloween, they decide to end a boozy night-in with a ghost hunt. They don't find any spirits though (apart from those in a bottle) and head for home. The next day, another young woman, one of the party guests, is discovered, dead, on Ravenbank. Is this place cursed or is someone copying the past crimes?

A historian called Daniel Kind, who happens to be a specialist in the history of murder, is soon drawn to dig deeper into the past crimes and their possible links with this new murder. DCI Hannah Scarlett, is also drawn in, on a personal level, but she has a lot on her plate, coming to terms with the break-up with her long-term partner Marc Amos and worrying about the budget cuts that will scale down her Cold Case Review team. Slowly, they will start to put everything together, challenging the past events that were recorded and looking for new leads.

It's an interesting and evocative setting, with lots of foggy nights and red herrings. I often had the impression that I was reading a slightly old-fashioned crime novel, along the lines of Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple, with lots of discussions instead of big action. The scenes leading up to the party and the final murder introduced a lot of characters and I found it hard to keep track of who was who - I'm not sure if these characters have already appeared in previous novels or if they are all new ones. It's an interesting novel though and I would definitely look out for other titles from the series. 

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £7.99

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Allison & Busby; UK ed. edition (19 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749014652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749014650

Monday, 1 July 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #27

Phew, what a sweltering week it's been - we swapped over to salad on a couple of days because nobody was really hungry and I didn't fancy slaving over a hot stove ! That may happen again this week - we'll see. On Monday and Tuesday, I have exams to invigilate, then Thursday and Friday are various meetings ... then school's out for the summer ! Right, what are we eating this week ?


dinner - spaghetti carbonara


dinner - Mexican pork chops with mash & veg


lunch - baked ham with rice & veg

dinner - curry wraps (from a kit) with rice and salad - the kids can use up something from the freezer if they prefer


dinner - quiche lorraine (or I might have a change, maybe with roasted veggies or something, depending on the weather !) with baked potatoes and salad


 dinner - Chinese style stir-fry with pork & veggies, served with noodles or rice


lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - sandwiches, salad or fridge clearout


lunch - spicy chicken with rice & salad

dinner - sandwiches, salads or leftovers

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


Saturday, 29 June 2019

Fab freebies of the week 29/6

Morning all ! It's hot hot hot at the moment so I'm not sure what we're up to - there's a cool bootsale/summer event going on but it may be just too hot and we may just decide to chill out indoors. Have a lovely day whatever you have planned. Here's this week's freebie roundup to start things off in style. There seem to be loads of competitions with oodles of summer-themed prizes at the moment, so good luck if you enter those. Let me know if you win !


Win 1 of 4 picnic hampers, worth £60, or 1 of 100 limited edition California Raisins tea-towels

Win 1 of 50 sensational cookery sets worth over £100 each with Gressingham Duck

Receive two free sample capsule sets and discover the irresistable taste of L'OR Espresso Lungo and L'OR Espresso Ristretto.

To receive a sun safety pack from Marley, simply fill in your details into the form below and don't forget to Tweet your pictures on site with the hashtag #SafeintheSun2019

FREE e-liquid trial box from My Vape Box - Only a few boxes left!

For Debenhams Beauty Clubbers (request your free card if you're not already a member)  : It’s time to ditch the falsies and enjoy real lengthy lashes that are made to disturb! From Friday 28th June, pick up your sample of the new Givenchy Volume Disturbia mascara and pop it in your makeup bag for some serious volume.

Rebrewed from head to hop. This one's on us. Enter your details below to claim your free pint of new Carlsberg Danish Pilsner

Shopmium have some more freebies on offer when you're doing the shopping : grab a Doisy & Dam chocolate bar, Vita CocoCoconut Milk, Coca Cola Energy, Arla Protein Chocolate Orange, Arla Skyr yogurt

Request a free sample of glitter from Osparks

Dealing with heating & plumbing installations and need a quick and easy fixing? Request a sample of the starQuick clamp from Walraven to try: #pipefixing #selfclosingclamp #smartsolutions πŸ˜€

Seal your products in style with #Polythene Zip Lock Bags. Reusable, versatile and protects items from dust, dirt & moisture. Request a sample #ziplock

Request a FREE sample! Show your vulva some love… Try out the towels and liners that 99% of women would recommend to a friend*. UK, 16+ only. Closes 26/07/19. Max 1 sample per household:

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.

You may also like to enter my current giveaways :

Friday, 28 June 2019

Scrubbingtons, Washing Solutions For Real Kids (review) #RealKidsGetMuddy

Having Pierre after two girls was a bit of a revelation. You know that thing in sitcoms when the man about the house picks up a decidedly dodgy looking T-shirt off the bedroom floor, gives it a quick sniff, then throws it on? Yep, he really does that ! I should count my blessings. He does love outdoor play, whether it's kicking a football about with his friends or riding his bike. He invariably comes in hot, sweaty and decidedly grubby. I used to ask him if he wanted a shower, but after too many negative responses, I now ask him if he would prefer a bath or a shower. It works most of the time, but now, I have a new ally - a collection of decidedly funky, kid-friendly hygiene products that we received to review and that, I'm delighted to say, he loves to use. Yay !

You may remember, we reviewed Scrubbingtons products here on the blog a few years ago (head over here to check out the original Scrubbingtons review) but they have recently had a revamp and launched a brand new look. They are still just as eco-friendly though, using natural ingredients that even those with sensitive skin can use and bottles made from 50% recycled plastic (they're working on the rest).

Right, time to grab Pierre and send him off in the direction of the bathroom to get testing ! He started off with the Scrub A Dub Bubble Bath (£3.99 for 250ml), which has a lovely, fresh fragrance. We all sniffed and I managed to convince everyone that it smelt of cherry blossom (childhood memories of my parents' garden drifting back there !) but after checking the website, it turns out it's actually the smell of fresh cut grass - ah, OK then ! Whatever it is, it's lovely and Pierre was soon splashing about in the bath, letting the bubbles get him clean and smell nice ! This product contains  the oil from the seeds of cotton which makes it extra soft - I might have to pinch this for myself when Pierre's not looking !

While he was busy in the bath, I told him to try the Scrub All 3-in-1 Hair & Body Foam (£3.99 for 200ml), which is a "finger sticking shampoo, conditioner and body foam that lasts twice as long as gel", according to the packaging. This means that you can get away with using less product and the bottle will last longer - bonus ! Well, to be honest, that's not true at all, because Pierre thought it was great fun and styled his hair with it and made balls with it that floated in the bath - ah well, at least it's getting him clean at the same time !

I love the name of the next product - Pit Stop (£3.99 for 50ml) ! It's a roll-on deodorant that is kind to  the skin on young armpits so tweens and teens can use it as soon as they need to. I'm lucky with Pierre - he hasn't started having pongy armpits yet, but I'm sure it won't be much longer ! This has the same lovely, fresh fragrance as the rest of the range - it's great to avoid all the conflicting fragrances that kids often use (in vast quantities !) so that you end up with a headache when they head out of the bathroom !

Finally, the most used product from the range, Scrub Up Hand & Face Foam (£3.99 for 200ml) which has the same mousse texture that is great for encouraging hand washing (and playing) and avoids the need for a flannel (where do they all end up ?!).

When the bottle has run out, don't throw it away - you can buy a Scrub Up refill pouch (£2.99 for 200ml), which will help save you money as well as helping out the planet. Definitely a win-win situation.

As the only male in the house since Madhouse Daddy passed away, Pierre loves the fact that he has his own range of hygiene products that aren't all "pink and flowery" and the girls have been told to keep their hands off ! That doesn't mean that they don't appeal to girls though - the fresh scent is great for everyone. It's brilliant to find a company that makes kid-friendly but also eco-friendly products. The range can be picked up at Tesco, Ocado and Amazon but you can also get free delivery on orders over £10 directly on the Scrubbingtons website.

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

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Giveaway #722 : Win The Kid Who Would Be King on dvd - closing date 12/7

Did you, and maybe your children, enjoy watching the TV series Merlin when it was on TV a few years ago? Or maybe your kids have delved into the Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in book form? Either way, they're sure to enjoy watching The Kid Who Would Be King, which has recently been released on dvd.

The film is set in a modern backdrop where Alex, a teenage schoolboy, is constantly getting bullied and told what to do by his teachers. He certainly doesn't appear to be a hero and he thinks he’s just another nobody, until one day, he stumbles upon the mythical Sword in the Stone, Excalibur. Luckily, help is at hand, in the form of the legendary wizard Merlin (who is nothing like his usual elderly wizard representation !).

Alex must find the inner strength to unite his friends and school yard enemies into an allied band of knights to defeat the wicked enchantress Morgana. With the future at stake, he must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be and save the world.

It's a lovely, child-friendly version of the story which is a clever blend of traditional legend and modern adaptation. Alex doesn't seem particularly heroic at the start of the film and it is lovely to see him, and his knights, building their confidence and overcoming their enemies. I had a giggle at the modern overhaul (the round table, for example, is a normal dining table with drop down extensions !) and the story of the underdog overcoming his personal issues to become a hero was heartwarming. Perfect family viewing for the summer holidays !

The Kid Who Would Be King is available now on Digital Download, Blu-ray and DVD.

Just in time for the school holidays, I have a copy of  The Kid Who Would Be King on dvd to give away to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader. Fill in your entries in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 12/7/19

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.

You may also like to enter my other giveaways :

coming soon !

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Book review : The Mummy Bloggers - Holly Wainwright

I've just finished reading The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright and I loved it. It did leave me wondering, though, what non-bloggers would think of it. Would it still have the same appeal or would a lot of it go over non-bloggers' heads? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it would appeal to everyone, even if non-bloggers would miss out on the "oops, that sounds a bit like me" humour/guilt that is added in for bloggers !

The book introduces us to three women, all of them bloggers but all very different. First there is Ella Campbell, who writes The Stylish Mumma blog. She is basically the one that readers will love to hate and, I have to admit, she did very much remind me of certain "professional bloggers" out there ! She has the perfect blog with the perfect airbrushed photos of her and her two boys, wearing designer label clothes and nibbling on organic grapes or homemade sugar-free brownies. Behind the scenes, she has a paid helper, to assist in sorting out the boys' clothes and publishing her daily blogposts. Every hashtag, every photo filter, every inspirational quote is fine-tuned to attract the biggest number of clicks and followers. Everyone can see where she is heading, but where has she come from?

The second blogger is Abi Black, a no-holds-barred, straight-talking, feminist and eco-friendly warrior, who has quit sugar (except for when things are getting her down !), moved to the country and set up a lovely, pesticide-free home which she shares with her girlfriend and their kids. To add some extra venom, she was married to a man before he ran off with ... Ella Campbell !

The third blogger, Leisel Adams, is a hard-working mum, slogging it out in her office all day every day before coming home and taking over control of her three kids, then finally tapping out a blogpost when they're in bed. She loves being a mum but she also loves complaining about being a mum and the hardships of trying to fit everything into her busy days. She also slots into the complicated blogger relationship because her sister is Abi's partner, Grace.

All three of the women are nominated for a prestigious blogging award with a hefty cash prize and they will go out of their way to win, whatever it takes. Readers will certainly share in the laughter and tears, while bloggers will undoubtedly recognise if not themselves then at least some of the big name (and shame) bloggers and their decidedly dodgy shenanigans !

It's a fun read, with moments of sadness and growing self-awareness, that will give you a glimpse behind the scenes of mummy bloggers.

star rating : 4.5/5

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (3 Jun. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178955053X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1789550535
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm

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

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

June 2019 Summer & BBQ Degustabox review

It's nearly time for school to kick out for the summer, so I'm already starting to think about days out and activities to do with the family. I love nothing better than shoving a few snacks and drinks in a bag and heading out for the day to see where we end up. We invariably have lots of fun adventures, so I'm hopeful that we'll discover some new places this summer. Last week, the postman dropped off the latest Degustabox, which has a Summer & BBQ theme. Perfect for backpack snacks !


First up, a box of three Trek Protein Nut Bars (RRP £2.50), in Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt flavour. Crunchy roasted peanuts and whole almonds with a sprinkling of dark chocolate chips and a touch of sea salt. They are each packed with 10g of plant-based protein, they contain less than 5g of sugar and are high in fibre. Above all, they are delicious and perfect for keeping you going if you're out on a long walk.

Kolibri Cardamom & Chilli and Strawberry & Basil Botanical Drinks (RRP £3.75 - Degustabox subscribers received one of the two) are award-winning, luxury, lightly-sparkling botanical infusions with very low sugar and unique flavour combinations. We love the bottles which look very chic - they're perfect for sipping, freshly chilled or served over ice, while sitting in the garden on a hot summer's day. After pouring the Kolibri drink over ice, you push the top of the nectar container to add the desired level of sweetness. I loved the strawberry and basil flavour but was less won over by the cardamom and chilli - it's great to get original, grown-up flavours to test out though. They are made in Britain, contain all natural ingredients and are low calorie despite containing no artificial sweeteners.

Newman's Own Italian Dressing (RRP £1.75) is a best-selling dressing made with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. It's lovely drizzled over salad - perfect for a quick lunch on a hot day.

Hellmann's Chilli Mayonnaise Fired by Tabasco (RRP £1.99) is another great summer option, perfect for squeezing on the side of the plate at barbecues, adding to potato salad and homemade coleslaw or squeezing into sandwiches. The tabasco gives it a lovely kick - a little goes a long way !

Lucozade Energy Watermelon & Strawberry Cooler (RRP £1.20) is the latest flavour to be added to the range. It's a fabulously refreshing fruity combination that the kids loved, especially fresh from the fridge. I had a quick taste and did really like the lovely, fruity flavour but I was put off by the quantity of sugar and calories.

DRGN Turmeric Superdrink (RRP £1.85) is an 'Asian fusion' natural energy and wellness drink, that is free from caffeine. Inspired by the Far East, this refreshing citrus drink is packed with pan-Asian superfoods, vitamins and minerals. It contains less sugar and nothing artificial, so it's healthier than some options. I was a bit reluctant to try this one, but it actually tasted better than I expected !

Rowntree's Randoms (RRP £1.29) have already been tried (and loved) by the Madhouse kids on numerous occasions. You never know what you're going to get - ping pong paddles or paintbrushes? snowflakes or saxophones? - but whatever the shape, you know they'll taste lovely and fruity.

Garbanzo Thai Sweet Chilli (RRP £2.29) is one of a new gourmet range of vegan snacks, comprised of crunchy chickpeas, caramelised pumpkin seeds and red onion. Only natural ingredients are used and they are gluten free with no artificial additives or preservatives. As they say, healthy doesn't have to be boring !

They are also available in Bombay Twist and Tomato Salsa flavours - subscribers received one flavour. We loved all three flavours - very tasty and decidedly moreish !

Staying on the snacks, this Degustabox contained Mavericks Moon Cheese Poppin' Corn and Mavericks Super Strawb Smart Cookies (RRP 75p), which are both part of the Maverick Healthier Snack for Kids range. Other options are Breadkicks, Fruit Brix and Fruit Laces. Whichever you pick, they come in at under 100 calories, contain no added sugar and offer plenty of added goodness. They were very popular with the kids, who gobbled the whole lot up in record time !

Savoursmiths Truffle & Rosemary Potato Crisps (RRP £1.50) are perfect as the decadent snack of choice for the discerning connoisseur. Fresh sprigs of rosemary are combined with a hint of the wild, earthy taste of black truffle for a luxurious twist on your regular bag of crisps.

An intriguing mystery product offered another snack : Lentil, Corn, Pea & Black Bean Tortillas (RRP 80p). These haven't hit the shops yet and Degustabox wants consumers' opinions. They are a healthier version of tortilla chips, made by crushing lentils, corn, green peas and black beans into thin, crunchy triangles and adding a dash of sea salt. We all loved them.

Alcoholic Gummies by Smith & Sinclair (RRP £15 for a selection of 8) are an intriguing concept. We got Mandarin Spritz and Gin & Tonic. They are created by Smith & Sinclair, dubbed Willy Wonka for adults, and it's the first time I've come across the idea. All gummies contain 8% alcohol so if you eat five, you're over the limit for driving - this sounds a bit dodgy to me because I can see people accidentally going over the limit without realising it. They taste lovely though and I could see these being popular at weddings and other celebrations. (Use code DEGUSTA for 15% off your first order, at

The Free From Kitchen Choc Bar (RRP £1.50) and Salted Caramel Choc Slab (RRP £2.50) are gluten, wheat and milk free treats, designed to suit everyone, whether due to medical reasons or a lifestyle choice. We loved both of them.

 A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £7.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout.

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Monday, 24 June 2019

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 2019 week #26

This week, I'm at work and Pierre is at school but both the girls are off now. Sophie finished her exams on Friday - phew ! Fingers crossed she'll be happy when she gets her results on the 5th July. And Juliette's stopped going in now too, but one of them will have to shift their backsides out of bed to drop Pierre off at school (although he's not well at the moment so I can see him taking a day off tomorrow, even if his class are going on a trip). Even I will finish earlier tomorrow, as the older kids are on revision - sounds good to me ! I'm having a clearout in the kitchen cupboard this week, using up sauces and odds and ends. It's supposed to be really hot so I can us switching to salads on some days !


dinner - there are lots of leftover roast potatoes, some carrots and some roast chicken - I'll heat it all up with some gravy, and I may even add some pastry on top, depending on how much there is. In fact, I have some curry sauce jars lurking in the cupboard, so I think I might use one of those, for whoever is feeling brave (probably just me !).


dinner - chipolatas with mash & veg and a sachet of Mexican spicy tomato sauce


lunch - steak in peppercorn sauce with boiled potatoes & veggies

dinner - pork chops in BBQ sauce with ebly & sweetcorn


dinner - strips of chicken breast & cherry tomatoes with pasta (& pesto for those who want it)


 dinner - chicken casserole (with carrots, onions, mushrooms) with mash


lunch - McDonald's or similar

dinner - sandwiches, salad or fridge clearout


lunch - honey BBQ pork chops & rice with salad

dinner - sandwiches, salads or leftovers

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


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