Giveaway #330 : Win a rocking horse from Love Christmas Ltd - closing date 30/10

When I was asked if I'd like to set up a partnership with Love Christmas Ltd, I headed off to see what they had in stock, expecting oodles of Christmas decorations, fairy lights and Christmas trees. Well, they do have all of that, but they also have a lot more, including snow globes, beautiful ornaments and toys.

 I'll be reviewing my top picks over the coming months, but in the meantime I went to choose a prize for one of you lucky lot and picked this utterly gorgeous rocking horse, that is bound to make someone's Christmas extra special when they find it under the tree (or next to it- underneath might be a bit difficult !).

It's a beautiful miniature (28 cm x 78 cm x 68 cm) rocking horse, complete with clip-clop sound effects, neighs and a moving mouth. It's got a solid-metal frame with foam mould to make it nice and sturdy. It's on sale on the website for £59.95 and if you're worried about how much delivery would set you back for a rocking horse, do not fear - all orders come with totally free delivery !

To be in with a chance fo winning this fabulous rocking horse, enter your details in the rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 30/10/13

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.

Raclette with GreenVale Farm Fresh Potatoes

When I heard from GreenVale Farm Fresh, the first thing that popped into my mind was Postman Pat - he lives in the fictional village of Greendale ! - but no, this was nothing to do with bags of mail or black and white cats. They wanted me to try out a bag of their spuds, marketed as ‘tasty, all rounder potatoes’ using the Jelly variety of potato. The press release explained : "They have a delicious, creamy buttery taste, a lovely yellow flesh and are great boiled, roasted, baked, mashed or chipped - in fact, they’re so versatile, you can use them for all your potato needs. GreenVale Farm Fresh also come in an old style paper potato sack (2kg) that are more environmentally friendly and keep the potatoes fresher for longer."

I was very impressed with how clean and healthy they look - there were absolutely no eyes, green or black bits, in fact nothing at all dodgy-looking that needed peeling or slicing off. They're also pre-washed so you don't have to get covered in mud as you wash/peel them ! The second thing that really appealed to me was the size - they're perfect for baked potatoes so would be ideal if you want to knock some of those up for Bonfire Night.

As the cold weather hit this weekend and it was a really foul Sunday with gale force winds and lashings of rain, we decided to go for a fab French winter dish : raclette. Not only is it really warming comfort food, the raclette grill warms up the house as you eat ! I boiled the GreenVale Farm Fresh Potatoes without peeling or chopping them and we were impressed at how well they retained their texture, not going soggy or falling apart. Once cooked through, they were popped on top of the raclette grill which gave them a lovely crispy skin.

A potato sliced on the plate, served with salad, tomatoes, pickles and smoked meats, all drizzled in melted raclette cheese - yum !

Raclette is a really fun family meal too because the kids always love melting the cheese in the little paddles and pouring it on their potatoes and meat !

To use up the leftover cooked potatoes, I fried them in a little olive oil and served them with fishfingers for the kids for tea, which also worked really well. Potatoes can sometimes be quite bland, but we did find that these ones had a lovely flavour.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £2.50 for 2kg

available from Tesco nationwide and from Booths in the North East

for more information :

Disclosure : I received some potatoes in order to try them out and write an honest review.

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Penwizard Why I Love My Mum book review

We were recently given the chance to review a "Why I Love My Mum" book from Penwizard, featuring the ultra-cute Tatty Teddy.

It takes literally seconds to personalise because you only need to do a quick message for the front page and choose between Mum, Mom, Mama, Mummy, Nan, Nanny, Gran, Granny, Grandma or Grandmother within the book. I wanted the book to be from all three of the Madhouse Mini Testers which posed a slight problem as you are only allowed 12 characters, which seemed very short to me. I got around it by using the message part to put "Loads of love from Sophie, Juliette & Pierre xxx"

It's quite a small book - smaller than I expected, to be honest. It measures 15 x 17cm which is a bit bigger than a CD case.

It's very cute though, both in terms of the texts and the drawings. It's bound to melt the heart of any mother or grandmother as a special gift from her children or grandchildren.

It's the perfect stocking filler for Christmas. It's quite expensive for a 24 page paperback book but the awww-factor makes it worth it. Hopefully they'll add a male version next to keep the dads and grandads happy too !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £9.99

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

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Penwizard Peppa Pig Personalised Storybook review

Top 5 Tips for Getting Your Child’s First Mobile Phone

All kids these days want a mobile phone - even 8-year-old Juliette asked if she could have one the other day, supposedly because a girl in her class has got a smartphone, which I find hard to believe ! I remember umming and aahing about whether to get Sophie a phone when she went to secondary school. I'm glad we did now because she can keep in touch with us if she's going to be late or if we start worrying about where she is. It's also really handy for school trips so that she can let us know if they'll be arriving later or earlier than planned. Here's a guest post that gives you some useful advice on other things to take into account when choosing your child's first mobile phone.


A lot of parents out there will be reaching the stage where their child asks for a mobile phone, and for many parents these words often strike fear into their hearts, and in a way so they should.

There will always be good and bad points to buying a mobile phone for a child : on the one hand you like the idea that your son or daughter has the ability to contact you at any time. However, you are also considering the possibility of them running up a steep bill, damaging the phone, or - worse still – having the phone stolen.

If you think that these are a lot of things to consider, you then get faced with in-phone features which bring up the question of whether you want your child to have access to social networks. Yes, Facebook does implement a 13-year-old age restriction but that does not stop a 10-year-old from signing up and agreeing to the T&C’s.

Don’t get me wrong though, a phone can be a saviour for you and your child. I am sure you are all too aware of those long car journeys where the repeated “are we nearly there yet?” shouts come from the back seat, and having a phone can be a great asset during these types of occasions. They can also play a great role on family holidays where your child can take their own photos and record their own videos.

Like anything you buy for your child, you do need to consider certain things, and that is why I have put together this top 5 list of what you should look for when you buy their first mobile phone:

#1 – Don’t Buy Expensive Phones

The first rule of buying your child a phone is not to go over the top with a £300 or £500 Smartphone. At the end of the day it’s their first phone, they are young, and the phone is going to get dropped, scratched, and even lost.

You can get some pretty great Smartphones that can keep them entertained from as little as £10 and below the £40 mark.

#2 – Stay Away From Contract Phones

Getting your child a prepaid phone instead of a contract phone is a safe bet. It not only keeps them from overspending and running up outrageous bills, but it also helps to teach them the meaning of money.

You can tell your child that they have £10 and that must last them the course of 1 month. If they run out, then they run out. Over time, they will soon learn to make that £10 go a little longer.

#3 – Find a Durable Phone

A lot of parents I have questioned about what they look for in a mobile phone for their child have said that they tend to look away from branded phones and more towards phones that are durable.

There are some solid phones out there that can take a bit of a bashing. If you want the ultimate in strength, then take a look at the JCB phone!

#4- Fits In With Their Mates

This isn’t a priority for everyone but some parents who don’t want to pay the high costs of Apple and Samsung will find a mid-range phone that fits in with what their mates have, so they don’t feel left out.

It can be a good idea to talk to other parents to see what their take on this is, and what phones their children have.

To add to this section, it is also worthwhile checking if the phone has any pre-installed games. I have found from talking to a group of parents that their children love to play games on phones and that it can keep them occupied for ages. Of course you can download some games for free, but it’s always good to have a few preloaded games.

#5 – Track Your Kid

Some parents feel that this is a step too far, but others feel comforted by the fact they know where their child is. Using GPS on your child’s phone and Google Locations, it will show you where your child is, and where they have been. There are plenty of apps that can help you locate your child, and these apps also help to find lost phones.

Remember, every parent is different and there may be things that you want your son or daughter to see, and other things that you want to restrict access to. You may want to buy your child an iPhone, or a Galaxy S4 : these are your decisions and this article is designed to help those that may need some guidance when it comes to buying their child their first mobile phone.

After all, many parents didn’t have to go through this process when they were children !


We would like to thank Craig Timmins and the team at for researching and providing this article for publishing.

Disclosure : This is a sponsored, but nevertheless honest and hopefully interesting, post !

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Sabbiarelli Sand Art Kit review

I recently received an email from a lovely Italian mum, asking if we'd like to try out a creative toy from Italy that has just been launched on the UK market via Amazon. I went off to have a look and discovered a fun, brightly-coloured sand art kit. If you're unaware of the concept, it's like a painting by numbers kit except the paint is replaced by coloured sand which you apply to the adhesive under the carefully pre-cut designs on the boards. The clever part about this particular version is that the sand dispensers are shaped to look just like big pencils and the ends come off and flip over as funnels to put any excess sand back in the tubes.

The kit contains eight pictures, each measuring 21x15 cm, but up until the end of the month, they are also enclosing an extra pack of Halloween designs totally free. There is no mention of this on their amazon page but they do tell you about it on their Facebook page so it's definitely worth following them to keep abreast of any new offers.

So what did the Madhouse Mini-testers think? They LOVED it ! You may notice that I put down a plastic tablecloth before we started - this is absolutely indispensable as you will get sand everywhere, however hard you try not to ! 

The pencil-shaped distributors make it easy to get the sand in the right places (and the little red tool helps with peeling off the papers) but it is quite hard to get the excess sand back in the tubes without it going all over the place.

The designs are very cute and appealed to all three of the kids - that's no mean feat, finding a product that a 4-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old can all manage to do and all want to do. It was the perfect rainy day activity for all three of them to do at the same time.

Pierre needed a bit of help from big sister Sophie to get the unused sand back into the tubes but apart from that, he did it all by himself.

He loved picking out the colours and seeing the picture come to life before his eyes. As it is impossible to go over the lines, you get a really impressive-looking picture, whatever your age and cack-handedness !

Another added bonus is the free app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch which replicates the sand art experience, even down to using the same pencil-shaped sand dispensers. It's a great app for travelling in the car or at the grandparents' when you don't want to get sand everywhere !

Both the app and the kit have been really popular. The Madhouse Mini-testers have already decided that when the pencil dispensers are empty, they will be great recycled as glitter dispensers for making Christmas cards. I'm sure you must be able to buy refill sand packs too though.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £29 (+ £7.95 UK delivery from Italy - hopefully the delivery charge will come down as they become more established in the UK and find local retailers)

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

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Picture Book Review : Cupcake and the Princess Party - Mandy Archer & Kirsteen Harris-Jones

Calling all happy snappy kids for NGKids photo competition !

Do your kids love taking photos and discovering the world around them? Then I have news of the perfect competition for them. National Geographic have launched this year's Photography Contest for Kids and there are some pretty amazing prizes up for grabs !

One lucky winner will scoop the trip of a lifetime - a family holiday in Zambia ! - staying in incredible accommodation, getting up close to the animals and getting a personal photography masterclass from top wildlife photographer, Sue Flood. There are also Canon cameras and Snapfish goodies up for grabs for the runners-up, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to get snapping!

There are four categories you can enter....

Category 1 – People
Category 2 – Animals
Category 3 - Scenery
Category 4 - Humour

This year's competition will be judged by National Geographic photographer Reza, award-winning wildlife photographer Sue Flood and children's TV presenter, Barney Harwood! They can't wait to see your snaps!


Send one email per category to Make sure that the subject of each email contains your name and the category you're entering, ie. 'Chloe Smith, Humour'. You must include your name, age, contact details and a caption to go with the picture you attach to each email. You may only send four emails in total (one email per category). When entering by email you certify that you took the photo and you acknowledge that your parent/guardian agrees to your participation in this competition. The closing date is 31 October 2013. Good luck!

Disclosure : We'll be receiving a year's subscription to NG Kids magazine, so I'll be back soon to tell you what we think of it !

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Cooking with Campbell's Soup Challenge : Goat's Cheese & Chorizo Pasta Bake

Giveaway #329 : Win 3 copies of After Earth on DVD - closing date 28/10

Today saw the release on Blu-ray and DVD of AFTER EARTH. Starring Jaden Smith (The Karate Kid) and two-time Academy Award nominated Will Smith (2006, Best Actor, The Pursuit of Happyness; 2001, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Ali), this action-adventure follows Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his father Cypher (Will Smith), as they set out on a routine mission that crash lands them on a hostile planet Earth. Now, 1,000 years after Earth has been quarantined, everything on the planet has evolved to kill humans. Unable to contact home, and forced to battle exotic creatures and dangerous terrains, Kitai and Cypher must fight together to survive.

Blu-ray and DVD Special Features:
“A Father’s Legacy” featurette – Will and Jaden Smith on and off screen
“1,000 Years in 300 Seconds” featurette – On Location with the Cast
“The Nature of the Future” featurette – A look at the landscapes and creatures of the film

Blu-ray Exclusives:
A Never-Before-Seen Version of the Film’s Opening Sequence
“Building a World” featurette – A glimpse into the creation of the After Earth universe
“Pre-Visualizing the Future” featurette – A next-generation approach to action sequences
“The Animatics of After Earth” featurette – Never-before-seen storyboards and animatics

for more information : or hashtag #AfterEarth

AFTER EARTH has a run time of approximately 95 mins and is rated 12.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment have kindly offered three copies of After Earth on DVD for lucky Madhouse Family Reviews readers. To be in with a chance of winning, enter your details in the Rafflecopter widget below.

UK only. Closing date : 28/10/13

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.