Saturday, 25 April 2015

Deli Choc - delicious and chocolatey ! (review)

When we were given the chance of trying out some new McVitie's Deli Choc biscuits, I didn't have to think about it - it was a no brainer ! The postie soon dropped off three boxes of the latest addition to join the sweeet family.

There are three varieties available, dark, milk or white, and we got the chance to try them all. They all use deliciously moreish Belgian chocolate.

Hiding underneath the generous layer of chocolate is a crunchy biscuit. The biscuits themselves are fairly bland and not overly sweet, which is a good thing because you really get the taste of the chocolate coming through.

I was impressed to see the nutritional information on the box. This picture shows the numbers for the White Chocolate ones and, as you can see, one biscuit only contains 64 calories (62 for the dark ones and 61 for the milk chocolate ones). They are very small though so, unless you have a willpower stronger than steel, you won't stop at one !

We ate three each - one of each flavour, for the purpose of reviewing (it's a hard life but someone's got to do it !) and we couldn't decide which one we liked best. I didn't think I'd be keen on the dark chocolate ones, as I usually find dark chocolate quite bitter, but it actually worked very well - although the white and milk varities really hit the spot too !

They have a very satisfying crunch when you bite into them and then the smooth, sweet chocolate comes through. Hmmm ! Nothing groundbreakingly original but very nice nevertheless.

If you haven't seen the Deli Choc advert, make sure you have a look. The Grange Hill music is a real blast from the past and that is one cute llama (or is it an alpaca? I never know the difference !).

If you think he's sweeet, make sure you check out my blogpost about how to get your hands on your very own sweeet friends from McVitie's. (I don't think they have an alpaca though !)

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £1.79 for a box of 12

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

Children's book review : Travel Back Through Time To The Land of Dinosaurs

Parragon recently sent us their Travel Back Through Time To The Land of Dinosaurs book from the Gold Stars range. This is labelled as a Factivity book - an appealing blend of facts and activities to really get kids thinking about and interacting with the world of dinosaurs.

The book targets slightly older readers - I'd say it is more suited to children aged about 8-12 - but as Pierre was off sick and looking for something to keep him occupied, he asked if he could have a look at the book.

He's only 5 but he had great fun completing some of the drawing and colouring activities, as well as the dot-to-dots and mazes.

The activities are very well chosen, really making children think about and reusing what they're learning. For example, on one page you need to complete the drawing of a dinosaur's tail to make it into a fearsome weapon, using some of the attributes of the dinosaurs that you've just been looking at - a tail club like the ankylosaurus, a whip tail like diplodocus, tail spikes like stegosauraus, or - what Pierre chose - a combination of all three !

The factual pages have big, detailed illustrations that Pierre loved looking at and we read the texts together. They are packed full of interesting information, much of which even I didn't know.

The children who travel back in the time machine with you to the land of dinosaurs accompany you throughout the whole book, inviting you to get involved in quizzes and activities along the way. It's a fun book but is also educational, with an index at the back allowing you to look up any information that you may need for school projects. It's a very complete book with a whopping 128 pages - it would be ideal for keeping the kids entertained on a long car journey or during the summer holidays.

It tied in nicely with last month's Book Buddy title too, as that was a dinosaur-themed cartoon book called T-Rex Terror. (Click through to read our review of that book.)

star rating : 5/5

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Parragon Books (7 April 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1472357817
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472357816

Disclosure : As Parragon Book Buddies, we receive a book every month in order to write an honest review.

Fab freebies of the week 25/4/15

Welcome to the weekend (shame it's grey and drizzly) and welcome to this week's freebie roundup :)


Countryfile still have free wildflower seeds to give away

More free seeds ! Telegraph readers can claim two free packets of seeds from Wyevale Garden Centres nationwide this Sunday, April 26.

Still want more ? Gardeners' World are giving away loads of sunflower seeds

Get a free pair of ear plugs this National Stop Snoring Week – courtesy of Dreams.
We can’t stop your partner snoring, but we can help you sleep a little better! Claim your free pair of ear plugs at your local Dreams store from 20 – 25 April 2015. Details here

Win your ultimate adventure worth £4000 - simply tell us about it, and Pukka could make it a reality for you and 3 friends. You could also win one of thousands of Pukka free tea samples

We know everyone loves a freebee, but Emergen-C samples are hot property! We’re giving 10,000 samples away, so hurry and register for yours now before they’re gone – its first come first served!

Super Savvy Me's Savvy Circle have a new project for Viakal - you'll get a full-sized product to try out plus extra samples and/or vouchers to hand out to friends, if you're picked

spotted on twitter : Check out @wise_tea on Amazon UK Like a sample?

Mad Hatter Tea will also send you 2 samples in return for an SAE

Free Sample of 20 Tablets (10 Days Supply) 100% Pure Acai Berry Tablets 2000mg - USE CODE 'LatestFreeStuff' AT CHECKOUT - NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY!!!

Sign up to be a Batiste VIP and they may ask you to test products for them

There are 1000 packs of Pampers Baby Wipes (conatining 12 wipes) up for grabs here

Comme Des Garçons have a new perfume sample available

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 giveaways :

Friday, 24 April 2015

Creepy Crawly Hunting with the Discovery Bug Barn (review)

I love educational toys (and luckily the Madhouse kids do too) so we were over the moon to receive some Discovery Channel science toys from Trends UK to review. The first one that we tried out was this Bug Barn.

Inside the box, you get a viewing barn, a magnifying viewing canister, a magnifying glass, tweezers, a net and a sheet of insect clings to decorate your bedroom windows or mirrors (and give your sisters a heart attack when they brush their teeth in the morning and see a huge spider looking back at them !).

Everyone was fascinated by all the tools in the box, particularly the magnifying glass - what big eyes you've got, Juliette !

Time to go bug hunting.

Can't see anything in here. Where are you all hiding?!

Aaaggghhh look Mum, I've got something !

Time to have a closer look in the magnifying canister. It's only a tiny greenfly but we could see its legs and antennae moving.

Hey Sophie, come and see what I found ! 

It's great to find a toy that appeals to all three of the Madhouse kids - it's a rare occurence to find something that will occupy a 5, 9 and 13 year old, as well as being of interest to children (and adults !) of both sexes. This is actually an important point for Trends, who are keen to show that girls can get just as much enjoyment from science projects as boys,  despite coverage in the media saying that girls have less interest in science and don't choose it as a career.

We eventually managed to find some tiny snails and an ant to look at in the small magnifying canister. It works really well for seeing the creepy crawlies close up but it's very hard to open, particularly for little fingers. (This does have the added advantage of making sure the bugs don't get out by accident though !)

The viewing barn is good for bigger things that you can catch with the net - Sophie managed to catch a huge bluebottle but she had to recruit Madhouse Grandad to set it free because she ran away to hide !

This is defintely a toy that will be getting a lot of use throughout the summer. Our favourite item is the transparent plastic, magnifying canister and we've already decided that we'll be using it to look at flowers, dandelion seeds, pieces of bark and anything else that we come across as well as bugs on our nature walks. If we get the chance to go pond dipping, it will give us a chance to look at the tiny pondlife too so I'm looking forward to lots of adventures throughout the coming months.

For everything you get in the box, I actually thought it would be more expensive so I was pleasantly surprised by the price.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £14.99

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

Walkers MixUps review

Do you find yourself standing in the crisps or snacks aisle of the supermarket having a hard time choosing which ones to throw in the trolley? If so then you'll love Walkers MixUps which offer several different snacks or flavours in one pack !

The most mixed-up variety is the Snacks Mix MixUps. They are available in Cheese and Spicy  flavours and you get a mixture of Doritos, Monster Munch, French Fries and Wotsits all in the same bag. These are all Madhouse faves so I knew they'd get a warm reception.

I grabbed a random handful and was impressed to see that all four varieties are represented in fairly even proportions. I would have liked a few extra Doritos personally, as they're my top choice, but the great thing about the bags is that you can pick and choose what you want. These would be great for parties and picnics or for putting in a sharing bowl in front of the telly.

You can also get Crisps Mix Ups which put two different flavours of crisp in the same pack. These are available in Cheese & Bacon and Cheese & Worcester Sauce flavours, both combinations that work very well together. As you can see from the picture, you can tell which are which from the colour but it's also nice to pop one in your mouth without being sure which flavour you'll get. Think Willy Wonka creating crisps and snacks instead of sweets and you won't be far wrong !

The final option is Popcorn MixUps, which are available in Sweet & Salty and Sweet & Spicy flavours. I've had sweet and salty popcorn before but each piece of corn was uniformy covered in the same seasoning, so it was quite innovative to have a mixture of both in the same bag. Eating these in a dark cinema where you wouldn't know what you're popping in your mouth would be great fun !

I thought it was a bit of a strange idea when I read the press release, but having tried them, we've all been won over. Eating a regular one-flavour bag of crisps will seem quite boring now !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £1.99

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

What's Cooking At The Madhouse? menu plan 24/4/15

Woohoo we've made it to the holidays - two weeks off, phew ! Time to have another stocktake and continue dejunking the stuff that's lurking in the kitchen cupboards and freezer, as well as trying out the recipes from my Chile-themed Kitchen Trotter box. I'll need to plan lunches and evening meals for the next two weeks so I should be able to work through lots of bookmarked recipes too !


lunch - possibly McDonalds, possibly sausages, chips and beans for the kids/potjevleesch and chips for the grown-ups

dinner - homemade soup


lunch - fingers crossed the weather's nice enough for a BBQ, if not roast chicken

dinner -  sandwiches or leftover soup


lunch - chicken and veg pie with the leftover roast, mash and peas

dinner - Empanadas with salsa, salad and rice


lunch - paella

dinnerchicken with hoi sin sauce, stir fried veg and noodles


lunch -  Charquican - a traditional Chilean stew made with meat, potatoes and vegetables (recipe to follow)

dinner - seafood salad


lunch - spaghetti carbonara with leeks and mushrooms

dinner - chicken curry with rice


lunch -spaghetti with meatballs

dinner - carrot tarte tatin with salad

***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 !

Globecooking recipe : Shawarma (Middle East)

A few years ago, there was a restaurant that we used to go to regularly on Friday lunchtimes called Oriental Express and their signature dish was shawarma. Similar to a healthier version of a kebab, it was a mix of spicy chicken, rice, salad and garlic sauce.

When I spotted this Shoarma mix in a local discount store, I couldn't resist trying it out. It's from Knorr in Spain but I'm not sure if it's available in other countries. Now that I've tried it, I'll be recreating it myself with my own spice rack though, so I'll give you the recipe suggestion from scratch.


ingredients :

4 chicken breasts
1 onion
olive oil
shawarma seasoning (suggested mix : cumin, coriander, garlic granules, paprika, turmeric, Cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic salt)

2 cloves garlic
3tbsp mayonnaise
6tbsp Greek yogurt or ricotta

salad and rice to serve
optional : flour tortillas or pitta pockets

Crush the garlic and mix into the mayonnaise and ricotta/yogurt. Put in the fridge to chill.

Put all the spices in a bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil. Blend to a smooth paste and add 1tbsp water if necessary. Finely chop the chicken and onion and toss in the spice paste until evenly covered. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan and fry the marinaded chicken for 10 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with rice and salad, with a generous dollop of garlic sauce on the side. Alternatively use the chicken and salad to stuff a tortilla or pitta pocket.

This is my ultimate fakeaway. It tastes delicious and seems like a naughty kebab but is actually quite healthy.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Kids' app review : Painting Gallery with Niru Niru & Friends

A brand new app was released today and we received a review code to try it out. At first glance, I thought it wasn't very original - it's a painting and drawing app that already exists in numerous other shapes and forms, many of them free, unlike this one - but the more the Madhouse kids played with it, the more we discovered features that we really liked.

 Painting Gallery with Niru Niru & Friends starts off like any other painting app. You can choose between a range of artist's tools to paint by hand, instantly fill in areas or use virtual pencils, markers, crayons or watercolours with 30 different colours. To make things look extra special, you can also choose between a variety of backdrops.


Where things get interesting is in the choice of stickers (over 100 of them) that you can add to your picture, rotating, resizing and placing them wherever you like so that they fit into your composition perfectly. The really ingenious thing is that you can choose white ones to colour in too, so you are basically able to create your own colouring pages.

There are even alphabet stickers, enabling you to add text to your pictures.

Or you can get back to basics and let your imagination run wild by drawing or painting free style.

Once you've finished your masterpiece, you can create a personalised frame then hang it in the gallery. You can come back to your picture if it needs completing at a later date.

This Youtube video showcases the app and its different functionalities. If you sat down and came up with a list of everything you'd like to see in a painting app, I think you'd be hard pushed to find something that the app doesn't already offer. You can even record the names of the colours so that your child can hear a familiar voice speaking.

My only slight quibble is the price. It costs £2.29 which isn't hugely expensive but I'm not sure it offers enough extra features to justify upgrading from the free drawing app that the Madhouse kids have been playing with up until now. Maybe adding some really unique features, such as some mini games - why not create a spot the difference or jigsaw puzzle game using the pictures that you have put in the gallery, for example? - would convince me though.

 star rating : 4/5

RRP : £2.29

Disclosure : We received a code in order to write an honest review.

Lalaloopsy Girls Crazy Hair review

The Lalaloopsy girls have had a bit of a makeover in the latest range of Crazy Hair dolls. Their extravagant hairstyles, flamboyant outfits and big shoes take them more into the category of fashion dolls so I think they will appeal to a wider audience of slightly older girls. Any child with an interest in hair styling, whatever their age, will love the new funky hair because it is so much fun to play with and style.

Juliette received the deliciously-named Scoops Waffle Cone, who joins the line-up alongside Jewel Sparkles, Cinder Slippers, Confetti Carnivale and new arrivals Dyna Might, April Sunsplash, Peppy Pom Poms and Tippy Tumblelina. I have only just learnt that they all attend the Lalaloopsy Academy for Learning Arts (L.A.L.A. Prep).

She's a very pretty doll with multicoloured hair and big button eyes.

The crazy hair comes from the fact that the doll has a mixture of woollen hair and also waxed threads that can be bent into weird and wacky shapes. There is also a separate pack of extra waxed threads in the box - careful, ours almost got thrown away with the packaging ! - which allows you to add extensions to create bigger curls and added volume.

The box contains a curling tool and also a little bottle of hair glitter, but be warned, the packaging says that it shouldn't be used on human hair. It's a lovely doll that is ideal for tweens, half way between a fashion doll and a little girl's doll.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £20

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

Giveaway #475 : Win an Ultimate girly night in bundle - closing date 7/5

What's your idea of the ultimate girly night in? A glass of bubbly and chocolate cake? A feelgood rom-com on DVD? A home-spa pamper session? Well, thanks to online bingo site Paddy Power, you could do all of the above and have an evening of fun and giggles with your best mates.

They have kindly offered to send an ‘Ultimate girly night in bundle’ to one lucky Madhouse Family Reviews reader, which consists of:

· New copies of ‘Blended’ and ‘The Other Woman’ on DVD.
· A bingo board game.
· 4 face masks.
· A £10 supermarket voucher for a shop of your choice.

To be in with a chance of winning, just fill in your details in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 7/5/15

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 :