Monday, 15 September 2014

Globe-cooking recipe : Kimchi (Korea)

Back in November last year, I received a Korean-themed Kitchen Nomad box. One of the items in the box was this tin of Kimchi. I went to investigate and learned that it is made of fermented vegetables - in fact, traditionally it is allowed to ferment underground in jars for months. It may be Korea's national dish but it really didn't appeal to me so it's been in the cupboard ever since ! I decided to be brave and try it this weekend though and it was actually better than I expected. This tinned variety was made with cabbage and just tasted like spicy sauerkraut. If you fancy trying your own, here's a recipe for you to make it yourself..

Quick Kimchi

ingredients :

600g Chinese cabbage
30g sea salt
1 onion, chopped
20g chives, chopped
1/2tsp chilli powder
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2tsp ginger
2tsp fish sauce
1tbsp honey
3tsp rice vinegar

Separate and wash the cabbage leaves. Lay them on a baking tray and cover with salt. Leave to macerate for 4 hours, turning once or twice.

After this time, put the leaves in a sieve and remove the excess salt with your hands.

Rip the leaves in half lengthways.

In a large bowl, mix the onion, chives, chilli powder, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, honey and rice vinegar, then add the leaves and stir so that they are completely covered. Leave for a few minutes and it's ready.

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Children's book review : Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? - Liz Kessler

Tween/teen-read Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler follows the fun adventures of a group of young teens who suddenly discover that they have secret powers - for Jessica, turning invisible. It all begins in a rather boring double geography lesson when Jessica starts drifting away - literally ! Her arm starts to disappear up to the elbow, much to her surprise !

At first totally panicked and bemused, Jessica, helped by her best friend, soon learns to harness her powers and wants to find out why this is happening to her. Being able to turn herself invisible helps her a great deal in her snooping and she soon learns what has happened to give her this power, and also that she is not alone - there are a few other people in the same predicament as her so obviously, she has to seek them out and make some new friends !

It's a bit like a cross between The Famous Five and Doctor Who, with weird goings-on and lots of exciting adventures. The basic premise is a bit far-fetched but nevertheless well thought-out - it does all sound quite feasible, in a weird suspended disbelief sort of way ! - and even as a grown-up, I was sucked in and read through to the end, eager to find out who the baddie was !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £10.99

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Childrens (14 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144401398X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444013986
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

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Madhouse diaries : A Sunday adventure

My FitBug is challenging me to walk 15,200 steps per day so I decided to take up the gauntlet yesterday and take the kids out for an adventure. Sophie was off doing homework with her mates at a friend's house (after going out to the cinema with them  the day before - you can tell she's hit her teens, we hardly see her any more !) so I asked Juliette and Pierre if they were up for a long walk. They were - especially when I told them where we were going !

One of our local parks (well, not THAT local - it's a 10km walk !) was hosting a Festival of Nature with the theme being the circus. There were lots of animals to see, stalls to look at and a bouncy castle to jump on.

One of the biggest attractions was the swings though !

Not sure if Pierre was screaming with delight or fear !

We wandered over to look at the animals. Our favourite was this miniature pig who had an upturned wheelie bin as a sty ! 

The crowds were quite offputting though so we headed off into the more natural part of the park.

Autumn is definitely on the way.

We petted a very docile horse.

And I spent ages examining this tree very closely. Can you see why?

A close-up makes it easier !

Yep, you've guessed it - I threw in a bit of geocaching ! The treasure was this Hannah Montana card which made me smile - how she's changed !

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Giveaway #420 : Win a Ghostbusters poster and Ghostbusters I & II Blu-ray - closing date 29/9

From September 1 fans will be able to own the Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray™ and a two-disc Blu-ray box set, which includes the Ghostbusters II 25th Anniversary Edition, debuting on Blu-ray. Both films have been fully restored and remastered in 4K and will be presented in high definition on Blu-ray from those 4K sources.

Both the Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters I & II Blu-rays come loaded with exclusive bonus materials, including revealing conversations with director Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd, as well as never-before-seen deleted scenes from Ghostbusters II and more. The Ghostbusters anniversary edition features the original music video of the Oscar® nominated song “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr., while Ghostbusters II includes the original music video for “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown. In addition, Ghostbusters will contain all previously released legacy content, commentary and an interactive Slimer Mode, offering fans a picture-in-picture graphical viewing experience.

The Blu-ray™ Anniversary Editions of GHOSTBUSTERS and GHOSTBUSTERS I & II are available now

GHOSTBUSTERS has been restored and remastered in 4K and will be returning to cinemas for one day only across the UK on October 28th.

The poster can be bought at:

To celebrate the special 30th anniversary Blu-ray™ release of Ghostbusters, I’ve teamed up with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to give one lucky winner a Ghostbusters poster and copy of Ghostbusters I & II on Blu-ray! Fill in your entries in the rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 29/9/14

NB : Please note, this Rafflecopter is being run by Nib Nibs so make sure you read their t&c's. (I was involved in finalising the t&c's though so rest assured, there's nothing dodgy! )

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 !

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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Internet Matters - keep your kids safe and 'appy !

When this article from Internet Matters popped into my inbox, I thought "yeah, yeah, I know all that already, use parental control and put a password on to stop unauthorised downloads" but then I got to the end and thought "ooh, I'd never heard of those". If nothing else, make sure you scroll down to the end for details of the free apps to help kids get out of tricky sexting situations with a witty retort - I'll definitely be sharing them with Sophie for future reference, just in case.


According to Internet Matters – the child internet safety organisation founded by the UK’s four major broadband providers, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media - nearly a third of mums and dads let primary age kids download apps without their permission. Among dads, 34% said they allowed the new software to be bought or downloaded for free without a prior agreement with their children. Mums were stricter though, with only 25% saying the same.

The findings come just as pupils have returned to school with experts encouraging mums and dads to check what apps their youngsters may be talked into installing on their mobiles by friends. This can be difficult for parents because they can never be sure what new apps their children might be discussing in the playground.

The survey also showed that while three quarters of parents believed they were “confident or a little confident” in knowing what apps they should or shouldn’t ban, 3 in 10 did admit they only have an “average” understanding of what apps are suitable. To counter this, the new Internet Matters app guide can be found at - giving parents a wealth of information and knowledge to learn about a host of different apps.

Examples of new apps that parents should be aware of include so-called “decoy” apps such as Secret Calculator, which can hide personal pictures and videos within the app behind a unique personalised code. Further lesser-known apps highlighted include Poof, which instantly hides open apps at the touch of a button, and more anonymous messaging services such as MeowChat and Whisper.

Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters said: “There are over three million apps available and this number increases daily. Understandably parents find it difficult to keep track of the apps that their children use. Many apps are great learning or entertainment tools but some may create risky situations for children and could put them in harm’s way. We want to encourage parents to talk about these issues and to help we have created a comprehensive App Guide for Parents on”

Claire Lilley, head of child safety online at NSPCC, adds: "For many young people socialising on the move through mobile phone apps is part of everyday life. They can be fantastic resources for children and young people, but it’s important that both parents and children are aware of the potential dangers. These can come from peers as much as they can from strangers. Risks for young people include cyberbullying, being exposed to inappropriate content, and grooming - where someone builds an emotional connection with a young person in order to sexually abuse them.”

Internet Matters’ Top Five Tips for Parents on App Safety

Hold the Password Keys – Do not give young children the password to your app download account or allow them to have their own. Not only will it enable them to download apps without your permission, it could also prove costly should they unwittingly make expensive in-app purchases. With Twitter trialling a ‘BUY’ button in the US this week, make sure you keep an eye on which apps offer in-app purchasing.

Check Their Settings – Check your child’s privacy settings on their smartphone or tablet, looking out for whether they are set up to prevent sharing of things like location, contacts, photos or calendars. Sharing a location may allow people they chat with to see where they are at given times.

Educate Children On The Risks – The Internet Matters website features a range of help and advice for parents on topics such as cyberbullying, sexting, explicit or offensive content and chatting to strangers. This comprehensive resource has been gathered from a range of internet safety experts such as Childnet, NSPCC and CEOP.

Be Savvy About Social Networks – Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have rules saying children under the age of 13 should not hold an account, so stand your ground on when your child can have access. Once they are old enough to have such an account, help your teenagers create strong privacy settings that will work when using popular social networking apps.

Brush Up On Your Apps – It is important parents understand and educate themselves on the latest apps. Each has an age-appropriate rating to allow them to decide whether it is suitable for their child. If in doubt, download it and try it out for yourself. Searching the internet for details of a particular app can also provide useful assurances or warnings.

Three Apps to Help Kids

Send This Instead - Developed to help children combat sexting from peers. It gives a range of optional images with humorous messages so children can send these as a response to sexting, putting them back in control.

Zipit - Made by ChildLine, Zipit aims to help teenagers deal with difficult sexting and flirting situations. It offers humorous comebacks, advice, and aims to help teenagers stay in control of flirting when chatting.

Kuddle - This is a photo-editing and sharing app that combines social media with 'netiquette' and educational information about online behaviour and risks.

For information on the Internet Matters initiative please visit:

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Soreen Orange Fruit Loaf review

Soreen have a new kid loaf on the (chopping) block - a sunshiney orange-flavoured variety. I have to admit, I wasn't too sure when I heard about it - I love the original malt loaf, I love the banana one and I was even won over by the chocolate one, but would orange work? Would the flavour be strong enough?

Well, it's actually rather nice. The addition of orange pieces, tangy fruit juices and sweet sultanas just adds a slightly tart, zingy topnote to the usual malt loaf taste that we all know and love. The loaf is slightly paler than the regular malt loaf but all importantly, they've kept the usual lovely squidgy texture (although I'd love to know - am I the only one whose slices get smaller and smaller the further you get down the loaf because you end up compressing it when you lean on it to cut it ?!)

It's a relatively healthy option if you're watching your waistline - it only contains 1.5% saturated fat and one slice contains 84 calories (as long as you lay off the butter, marmalade or chocolate spread that Soreen suggest slathering all over it !). I actually think it tastes nicest as it is straight from the pack or toasted, with nothing added, so that you really get the benefit of the orange flavour. The kids have been wolfing it down smothered in butter though. I had plans for making a lovely citrussy bread and butter pudding with it but it disappeared before I got a look in !

Initially exclusive to Sainsbury's, the new Orange Soreen loaf is hitting the shelves in ASDA from this month too

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £1.25

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Kids' DVD review : Milkshake! Stars

The kids have gone back to school, marking the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. The conkers have already started falling out of the trees in fact and there's a distinct chill in the air when I go to get my bus in the morning, so it won't be long before it's too cold to go to the park or get the bikes out after school. When the nights draw in, what better way to spend some quality time with the kids than snuggling up on the settee with a hot chocolate, watching a DVD together?

With perfect timing, 5 Milkshake! have just released a brand new DVD, called Milkshake! Stars,which features a whopping 2 hours of children's favourites, including Thomas & Friends, Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly and Fireman Sam, as well as some new programmes, including Pip Ahoy!, Toby’s Travelling Circus and Jelly Jamm.

Here's the complete episode guide :

Peppa Pig – Mr Dinosaur is Lost
When George’s favourite toy Mr Dinosaur goes missing, Peppa becomes detective to help find him.

Thomas and Friends – Fiery Flynn
Flynn the fire engine is trying to impress the diesels but is wasting water. When he runs out of water, who will help him put out the fire in Thomas’s fire box?

Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom – Fun and Games
When playing games in the meadow, Ben and Holly try and win by using their elf skills and fairy magic.

Toby’s Travelling Circus - Parade
Toby and the troupe lead a parade around the town. When a policeman stops the parade, Toby is worried they are in trouble, but what does he really want?

Jelly Jamm – A Day at the Races
There’s a big motor race in Jammbo, but who will be crowned the winner?

Tickety Toc – Story Time
Tommy and Tallulah try to tell Tickety Town the exciting story of Cogzilla. When the last page of the story is missing, everyone in town is desperate to hear how the story ends – before Chime Time!

Chloe’s Closet – Clock a Doodle Doo
Chloe heads to the farm to try and wake up Mr Cock-a-doodle-do, as he has overslept and no one has any milk for their breakfast!

Bert and Ernie – Meet the Loch Ness Monster
Bert and Ernie are in Scotland, hoping to find the legendary Loch Ness Monster.

Bananas in Pyjamas – The Submarine
The Bananas are excited - Rat has promised them their very own submarine!

Igam Ogam – I’m Bouncing
Igam Ogam finds a space-hopper and can’t stop bouncing!

Angelina Ballerina – Angelina and the Disco Dance Craze
Gracie discovers the joys of disco dancing and just can’t stop!

Olly the Little White Van – Train Trouble
Bazza gets himself stuck on the level crossing in Bumpton. Can Olly and Stan move him safely out of the way in time?

Little Princess – I Want a Gymkhana
General has organised a gymkhana at the castle. Princess is sure that she and Horace are the perfect team, but can they win against Algie and his bicycle?

Pip Ahoy! – The Mice Pirates
Pip helps the mice pirates follow their treasure map to the Salty Cove Treasure. But what will they find?

Fireman Sam – Pontypandy Pioneers
When Trevor leads the Pontypandy Pioneers on a scouting trip, he gets stuck on a zip line! Fireman Sam is called to save the day!

Pierre loves every single episode and what always makes me laugh with Milkshake! DVDs is that big sisters Sophie and Juliette always end up coming to sit and watch it too, despite being 9 and 13 !

star rating : 5/5

Title: Milkshake! Stars
Release date: Monday 8th September 2014
Running time: Approx 149 mins
Format: DVD
Certificate: U

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

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Sunday weigh-in : Still going in the right direction ...

... just not as quickly as I'd hoped. Last week, I lost an amazing 1.4kg. This week, I did nothing differently - I've been well under my calorie target every day (my Fitbug Orb has readjusted it from 1700 to 1900, presumably because of how far I walk), I've walked loads again, but for some reason, the scales refused to budge much. Oh well, every baby step in the right direction is still a step closer to my target. This week, the scales say 87.1kg, a loss of 500g.

Positives of the week

- The FitBug Orb is still my best friend and I've finally got my sleep tracking to work - I'm amazed at how many times I wake up during the night - not good ! My personal trainer has kicked in this week and set the bar pretty high - I have to do 15,200 steps of which 2,000 aerobic steps per day. When it was set at the base level of 10,000 per day, I hit it every day with no effort at all but I've only hit my target twice this week (despite walking 8-10km on the days I failed !). It's good to have that extra push though so I'm not complaining !

- It's been another week with lots of walking : Sunday 8km, Monday 13km, Tuesday 10km, Wednesday 14km, Thursday 8km, Friday 9km, Saturday 8km - grand total 70km or 43.5 miles!

- I've taken to checking the canteen menu in advance - on the days it's unhealthy, I throw a Slim Fast shake in my bag instead.

- I've just realised I've totally stopped snacking - no chocolate, no sweets, no biscuits at all since we got back off holiday, just the odd grape as I walk past the fruit bowl ! How did that happen ?!

- My tickers are on the move - from 6 to 7kg lost and from 48lb to go/13lb lost to 47lb to go/15lb lost (where did the extra pound go on one side ?!)

Current targets 

Last week's target : Walk at least 50km again plus add in a wii fit run or mini disco dancing session. Lose 1kg.(DONE for the stuff I can control, half done for the weight)

This week's targets : Hit my FitBug target on at least 4 days. Throw in a WiiFit run. Start listening to the SlimPod again. Get down into the 85 point somethings.

Short-term targets 21kg to lose sounds a lot but breaking it down, aiming for 1kg a week, that's only about 5 months - first target, get my "weight to lose" badge down into the 40's (it's currently on 51lb) by next week (done), second goal - get back to 85.6kg, my pre-holiday weight, by the end of September.

Longer-term targets :  Hit my target weight of 68kg. 

STILL TO GO : 19.1kg

Feel free to add your weightloss posts to my weekly linkie - it's great to see how everyone else has been getting on and give each other support and encouragement. You can even grab the linkie code and add it to your own blog if you like. :)

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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Carex just made handwashing a whole lot more appealing to kids !

Carex recently sent us through a little parcel containing some of their hand hygiene products and the Madhouse mini-testers squealed with delight. Yes, you did read that right ! Admittedly, part of the appeal was the accompanying sweets - strawberry shoelaces and some very cool candy floss that turns into chewing gum as you eat it (even I thought that was very exciting !) - but they were also very excited by the products themselves : Bubble Gum Scented Handwash and Strawberry Laces Scented Hand Gel !

I put the handwash on the side of the bathroom sink and it wasn't long before the Madhouse mini-testers "needed" to wash their hands. In fact, I've never seen them wash their hands so often ! Personally speaking, as a grown up, I wasn't at all keen on the fragrance - both of them smelt artificial to me but they absolutely appealed to the kids, which is the most important thing as they're the target audience.

The handwash has a beautiful blue colour which looks pretty next to the sink (not the most important thing, I know, but it's a bonus !) and the pump dispenser is perfect - it's drip-free, easy to press down and it dispenses just the right amount for kid-sized hands. It's not just a fun fragrance and a pretty colour though - it also kills 99.9% of germs.

The hand gel also kills 99.9% of germs and has a sweet strawberry fragrance that the kids loved (even if, as an adult, I still found it was more of a chemical smell than a real fruity one). It protects and moisturises your hands, as well as killing germs and making them smell lovely. This is great for water-free hand cleaning when we're out and about geocaching and the kids want a snack.

I love the idea of making hygiene products smell like sweets - and the Madhouse Mini-testers have proved that it absolutely works, whether they're aged 5, 9 or 13 ! Anything that gets kids washing their hands without being nagged has to be a winner in my book !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : handwash £1.80 for 250ml (available at all major supermarkets), hand gel £1.45 for 50ml (available at Superdrug)

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

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Madhouse recipe : Hairy Bikers' Pan Haggerty

While idling flicking through my Hairy Bikers' Family Cookbook - Mum Knows Best which is my usual go-to recipe book when I'm looking for inspiration, I stumbled across this recipe for Pan Haggerty. I'd vaguely heard of it but had no idea what it was so I was pleased to see that it uses nothing but store-cupboard staples. It was traditionally a dish from the coalfields of northeast England apparently and is a great one-pan supper.

Pan Haggerty

ingredients :

1tbsp vegetable oil
250g streaky bacon
6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 onions, peeled and sliced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
500ml chicken stock
150g Cheddar cheese, grated

A high-sided frying pan is best for making this. Fry the bacon and set aside, leaving the fat and juices in the pan.

Place a layer of potatoes over the bottom of the pan, followed by a layer of onion, then a layer of carrot, then a layer of bacon rashers. Repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of potatoes.

Pour on the chicken stock and cover with a lid or with foil. Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Uncover the pan, top with grated cheese and place under a preheated grill until bubbling and golden.

I wasn't entrirely convinced about the carrots in the recipe but this is absolutely lovely and I wouldn't change a thing. Definitely one I'll be making again.

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