Friday, 21 July 2017

Beat the boredom with Nick Jr's Make It & Bake It competition


Parents beware - the average child will utter their first ‘I’m bored …’ just TEN DAYS into the summer holidays ! Researchers who carried out a detailed study found that while the majority of the nation’s school children are longing for the six-week break to begin, they will soon run out of things to do. Even more worrying is the fact that once the kids hit the boredom breaking point, parents can expect to hear the dreaded moan up to FOUR times every day.

The study also revealed the most popular replies for long-suffering mums and dads, with: “But you've got loads of toys’ coming top. Here's the complete list, which made me smile, because I say several of them !

MOST POPULAR THINGS PARENTS SAY TO BORED KIDS:

‘But you've got loads of toys’
‘If you're so bored you can always help with the chores!’
‘Go and amuse yourself’
‘When I was your age I had a lot less and I managed’
‘Tidy your room’
‘You don't know how lucky you are’
‘Can't you go and see your friends?’
‘We'll go and see your grandparents, then?’

Overall seven in ten parents said they find it difficult to keep their kids entertained through the school summer break.


The research was carried out by Nick Jr. to highlight the channel’s summer ‘Make It and Bake It’ campaign, which encourages kids to bake cakes and treats, the best of which will be shown on the channel’s most popular shows.

Virginia Monaghan, VP Creative, Marketing and Communications, Nickelodeon UK & Ireland, who commissioned the study for Nick Jr., said: “The school summer holidays can seem endless and full of possibilities when you are younger. In reality, staying entertained for such a stretch of time can be a challenge and parents will need to get their thinking caps on for activities if they are to keep their kids busy through the seven-week break.”

The national survey, by OnePoll.com, also uncovered the top 50 ways to keep your kids entertained in the summer months. Family days out came out as the number one distraction for restless youngsters, followed by watching TV as a family, and a visit to the cinema together. Forty eight per cent of parents occupy their kids with a bit of messy home baking, while one in two play video games as a family. Just over a third sit down to play board games together.

Here's the full list of the nation's top 50 favourites :

TOP 50 ACTIVITIES TO KEEP KIDS ENTERTAINED THIS SUMMER:

1. Take them on family days out
2. Watching TV/movies
3. Cinema
4. The beach
5. Swimming
6. The park/Play park
7. Computer games
8. Cooking/baking together
9. Outdoor walks
10. Playing with them in the garden
11. Play time with their toys
12. A play date with their friends
13. Board games
14. Read a book
15. Bike ride
16. Arts and craft at home
17. Take them to a theme park
18. Museums/Galleries
19. Go sightseeing
20. Take photos
21. The library
22. Gardening
23. Visit a fair
24. Jigsaw puzzle
25. Bowling
26. Camping
27. Fruit picking
28. Build a den
29. Go to the arcade
30. Sports clubs
31. Play dress-up
32. Fly a kite
33. Play group
34. The theatre
35. Bug hunting
36. DIY
37. Draw pavement art
38. Youth club
39. Roller-skating
40. Bird watching
41. Writing stories/poetry
42. Organise a treasure hunt
43. Take them to a music festival
44. Stargazing
45. Plant a tree
46. Play parlour games
47. Sailing/Kayaking
48. Flower pressing
49. Teach them a magic trick
50. Watch a Punch and Judy show


To break up the summer, 71 per cent of parents make sure they go away on holiday with their kids for an average of ten days across the break. As kids near a loose end, two thirds are likely to moan to mum and dad about their situation, and 17 per cent have thrown tantrums in frustration.

Virginia Monaghan added: “We know shared family time is important to both kids and parents, regardless of the season. As kids look for more to do in the summer to keep them occupied, a fun family-based activity can keep kids entertained while providing a valuable shared experience.”


“Baking is fun, creative and just messy enough to be enjoyable for almost every kid. Or why not get crafty with the PVA glue and glitter and start a project together, whether it’s creating something new or building a character from a favourite TV show?”

* Nick Jr.’s Make It and Bake It runs on Nick Jr. and NickJr.co.uk until 30th July. Featuring crafts and bakes inspired by Nick Jr.’s biggest shows such as PAW Patrol, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Rusty Rivets and Nella the Princess Knight, Make It and Bake It provides a resource for families looking for fun activities to take on across the summer holidays.

* Nick Jr. are also looking for the UK’s best makers and bakers from across the country. Families can win a Nick Jr. goody bag and have their culinary or crafty creation shown on Nick Jr. To find out more about Nick Jr.’s Make It and Bake It activities and the competition families should visit http://www.nickjr.co.uk/make/.

Even if you're hopeless at crafts and baking, you can still enter because there are three categories for judging your creation: Best Make, Best Bake, and Best Make It and Bake It Fail !


I'm spinning around ... Spinzipz and Spinbladez review


As Kylie Minogue once sang, "I'm spinning around, Move outta my way, I know you're feeling me 'Cause you like it like this" ! As a teacher and a parent, I have seen more than my fair share of playground fads, but fidget toys, hand spinners, finger spinners, call them what you will, they seem to be here to stay ! Despite already owning several, the Madhouse kids were over the moon to receive some brand new fidget spinners to play with from Zing Toy’s souped-up spinner range, especially as these ones light up. Cue squeals of delight !


These spinners are part of Zing Toys new Every Day Play Range, which introduces unique new skill toys that are incredibly cool to play with. You can choose between two blade Spin Zipz (RRP £7.99) and three blade Spinbladez (RRP £9.99), both of which feature coloured LED lights that come on when you tap or spin them.


If you go really slowly, you can see the individual lights and if you spin quickly, they blend into each other. Another great feature is that they come with a little plastic pin which holds them together when you stack them, giving you the chance to create even more impressive light displays.



Even Madhouse Daddy is a little bit obsessed with fidget spinners, so I had to giggle when I watched Jason Bradbury on youtube showing a cool hack to customise a special triple-stack light up spinner using Spinbladez. It involves heating a needle on the hob until it's glowing red hot and melting a hole in the plastic so let's face it, it's going to appeal to dads everywhere !


Last year, we put some glowsticks in the suitcase and the Madhouse kids had great fun wearing them at the mini disco on holiday when it got dark. This year, they will be able to play with their Spinzipz instead. They're ideal for festivals, late evening summer barbecues or even giggling under the bedclothes when you're supposed to be going to sleep !



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

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Philadelphia Flip & Dip review - are you a #doubledipper or #singledipper ?


 Philadelphia have launched a new product that is perfect for summertime picnics, straight-from-the fridge-because-it's-too-hot-to-cook sharing platters and alfresco dining. Flip & Dip is made with lightly whipped Philadelphia cream cheese, topped with a choice of three mouth-watering sauces, including sweet chili, Mexican salsa and caramelised onion.


 Inside the cardboard sleeve, there is a plastic pot with a foil lid to peel off. My immediate thought was that there was no way to seal the pot to keep the leftovers in once we'd finished. It turned out that this wasn't a problem at all though, as the whole lot got polished off in one sitting every time I opened one !


After flipping the pot over on to a plate, it slides out effortlessly to create a perfect dome of cheese, covered in sweet, sticky sauce that oozes down the sides.We tried it with carrot sticks, crackers and tortilla chips and it goes beautifully with all three. As it comes straight out of the fridge, it is really refreshing on a hot day.


What made me laugh the most was that the kids were in such a rush to get dipping that they totally missed the whole bit about flipping and just dug straight in with their carrot sticks and tortillas. As long as you dip right down to the bottom to get to the sauce, it makes no difference though, so this is a great tip if you're at a picnic and don't have a plate handy to turn it out onto.


Now we come to the thorny issue of dipping etiquette - do you double dip ? Do you think it's totally gross to reuse a carrot stick for extra dip once you've bitten the end off, or does a bit of spit-swapping with your other half seem totally normal to you ?! 


 For me, it depends - I'd never double dip in public, but if we're at home, why not, since everybody else does ! It also depends on my choice of dipper - I am not averse to double dipping long things like carrot, celery or bread sticks, but double-dipping crisps and crackers is a big no-no because they're too small and you're bound to end up with fingers in there too !


What about you? Do you flip and dip AND double dip? Or are you like the Madhouse kids and dip without even flipping ?! 


I had to chuckle when I was taking the photos for this review. I often get companies telling me that they like the fact that I use natural photos without filters and effects in my reviews, because it really shows the products as they are, rather than the airbrushed copies you get in the publicity shots. Here's a sneaky behind-the-scenes look at why I have to go for instant snaps - if I don't get in quick, it's gone before I've even got the pictures ! And this is coming from a trio of kids whose reaction was "that doesn't sound very nice" when I read them the blurb - they soon changed their minds though !

Philadelphia Flip & Dip is now available in Tesco & ASDA with an RRP of £1.49

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

Globecooking recipe : Mustard & Lemongrass Beef (Guadeloupe)


When I saw this recipe in my Guadeloupe-themed Kitchen Trotter box, I was dubious because I don't like hot mustard, and I wasn't sure how mustard and lemongrass would work together. It was actually delicious though, because the mustard was very mild. I would have said this has more of an Oriental feel than what I would have expected from the Antilles.


It used two ingredients from the box - mild Creole mustard and "graines à roussir".


This is a wonderfully aromatic blend of cumin, caraway, fenugreek, yellow mustard and white sesame seeds and gives an instant burst of flavour to stir fries and slow cooked stews.


Mustard & Lemongrass Beef

ingredients :

5tbsp mild Creole mustard (I used 3tbsp)
3tbsp graines à roussir (see above)
800g beef/steak, chopped into strips
4 shallots (I used 2 red onions)
a sprig of thyme
2tbsp sugar
2 stalks of lemongrass (or you can use ground lemongrass if you prefer)
3tbsp sherry vinegar (I used pomegranate vinegar)
20g butter
salt, pepper


Chop your beef into strips (I used frying steak) and fry it in the butter. Keep it quite rare as it will continue to cook later. Sprinkle over the graines à roussir and the sugar and toss the meat around to make sure it is all evenly coated. Remove the meat to a plate or separate pan (which you can use for the rice later).


In the frying pan that you just used for the meat, fry the onions/shallots - add a little butter or olive oil if necessary. Roughly chop the lemongrass and add it to the pan, along with the thyme - these will add flavour but will need to be fished out before serving.


Once the onions have gone soft and started to caramelise, put the meat back in the pan. Add the vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper and toss it all around to coat the meat and onions evenly. Cook until the meat is warmed through and cooked however you like your beef cooked. (Medium rare for me, please !)


Taste and adjust the seasoning with extra sugar, mustard or vinegar to balance out the flavours, and serve over rice.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Globecooking recipe : Turrón de Jijona crème dessert (Spain)


This was such a simple yet delicious dessert that I'll have to have another go using different flavours.


It used one ingredient from my Spanish-themed Kitchen Trotter box (click through for my unboxing post) - a bar of Turrón de Jijona. I've had turron before and it was like soft nougat, but this one had a completely different texture. It's crumbly but slightly oily so you break pieces off and rub it between your fingers as if you were making breadcrumbs. I wasn't keen on the greasiness on my fingers but the flavour was lovely and it's perfect for melting into the cream.

Turrón de Jijona crème dessert 

ingredients :

150 g turrón de Jijona nougat
300ml milk
220ml full fat liquid crème fraîche (or single cream)
30g sugar
2 egg yolks


Crumble the nougat into a saucepan.


Add the cream and milk and whisk together over a gentle heat. Keep whisking non-stop until it starts to boil then turn off the heat and keep whisking until it is totally smooth.


In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until it turns pale and creamy.


Gradually add the egg yolks to the creamy mixture. Put back on the heat and cook for 5-10 minutes, making sure it doesn't boil, until it is thick and creamy.


Pour into bowls and leave to cool, then chill in the fridge for at least two hours.


You could sprinkle some crumbled praline or chocolate on top, but it's already delicious on its own.


Fancy trying a Spanish feast? Then how about some of my other Spanish recipes :


Get ready for a #MoshiMonstersMadness twitter party 12-1pm today :)


If you're looking for a way to keep the kids busy during the summer holidays and you love competitions, make sure you're online this afternoon from 12-1pm for the #MoshiMonstersMadness twitter party. I'm one of the hosts @cherylp59 - wish me luck ! 


There are all sorts of exciting new things going on in the world of Moshi Monsters so I'll be telling you all about that, as well as giving you the chance to win prizes.


You can find out all about the free-to-download Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt Mobile Game, which is captivating a whole new generation of kids. Having shot to number one in the App Store’s 6-8 kids’ chart, this charmingly silly game sees kids hatching and adopting their very own little monstery pet, which they can name, customise and look after. They can even collect their friends’ unique Moshlings because each personalised character has its own shareable code.


Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt Trading Cards are also here! Hotly anticipated, this egg-citing launch range consists of over 350 cards. Each foil pack contains eight colourful cards, depicting Moshlings, monstery items and a guaranteed ultra-rare shiny card. But here is the monstrously clever bit: some cards feature secret codes to unlock in-game goodies and bring characters to life in the all new Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt mobile game. To scratch or save, that is the question !


The annual Moshi Monsters ‘Design a Moshling’ contest is back and now accepting entries. If you have ever dreamt of designing a character for an iconic brand in a number one mobile game, now is your chance! Running until 31st July 2017, the top three winning designs will be judged by Mr Moshi himself before being transformed into official Moshlings and featured in the App Store favourite, the all-new game. Three lucky runners-up receive a Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt Goodie Box, which is available exclusively from Moshi Monsters HQ.


You can find out more at www.moshimonsters.com and make sure you're following me @cherylp59 as well as @MoshiMonsters @MindCandy @miprglobal and the #MoshiMonstersMadness hashtag for the twitter party. See you there ! :)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Moshi Monsters Egg Hunt Mobile Game & Trading Card (review) #MoshiMonstersMadness


Forget bears, this summer, we're going on an egg hunt ! Not just any old eggs either - these are Moshi Monster Eggs.


The well-known and well-loved monster collecting game has introduced two new ways to play this summer, with both a new free-to-download app and a new collection of trading cards.


Series 1 of the trading cards are now available and come in pretty pinky-purple foil blind packs of eight cards.


I opened up two random packs and here's what we got - there is a nice mixture of monsters, accessories and "rox" that act as money.


On the back of each card, there is a scratch panel hiding a code that will enable you to redeem these items in the accompanying app. You can scratch it off and use it yourself or leave it intact and swap the cards with your friends. Inside each pack, you are also guaranteed to get a rare shiny card.


We had a good giggle at some of the things in our packs - a bike, jelly baked beans and a dessert island all sound good (and yes, I did spell that right !), but I'm not sure about eye pie - ewww ! 


The app is quick to install and you get to name your new Moshling friends.


You can decorate your room - this is where the codes on the cards come into their own, for buying and unlocking fun items.


You can earn extra rox currency in fun little mini games and puzzles within the app.


There's something new every time you play, as you can hatch a new egg every day. You can interact with them, feeding them, washing them and even cleaning up their poo !


To help build up your collection, you can even add your friends' Moshlings to your own collection because each personalised character has its own shareable code.  To celebrate the Moshi Monster’s Egg Hunt Mobile Game launch, Moshi Monsters are giving away an EGGSclusive unique code every Saturday to redeem a mystery Moshling. If you've missed a secret code video, you can catch up here :

Get Burnie the Fiery Frazzledragon here: https://youtu.be/EjedHtETZtU
Get Splutnik the Spaced-brained Zoshling here: https://youtu.be/V9TmMpr74c4
Get CocoLoco the Naughty Nutter here: https://youtu.be/t1tGJeGcTwk
Get Judder the Unhinged Jackhammer here: https://youtu.be/0nqgioo__Ws
Get Slurpy the Lickity Lizard here: https://youtu.be/nj_Szs9lcKc


One final piece of news - there will be a twitter party tomorrow and I'm one of the hosts @cherylp59 so you'll have the chance to win prizes if you follow my twitter feed and the #MoshiMonstersMadness hashtag. How eggsciting is that ?! 

Disclosure : I received some trading cards in order to write an honest review.