Saturday, 31 December 2011

Rachel reviews Voyage of the Dawn Treader Vlog

Rachel reviews milky the bunny vlog

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Moshi Monsters: Moshling Zoo (Nintendo DS)

We have realised this holiday season that we haven't been reviewing any of the games we play on the Nintendo DS, Wii and PS3. Well to welcome in the new year (nearly) we have decided to rectify this situation. For our first review we are looking at Moshi Monsters: Moshling Zoo for the Nintendo DS.

I gave this game to Rachel for christmas hoping that it'd be the right level of difficulty and interest for her to play with. She is a moshi monsters fan, collecting the moshlings and the cards which comes with them; but she's never played the online game due to time constraints and my security concerns with her using my laptop (I'll blog separately about our solution for this).

The game was an instant hit, it is a great positive for a game to be easy to use and engaging from the outset and most have not managed to achieve this before. No doubt some of this is Rachel's increasing knowledge of gaming and her age, but it certainly says a lot for a game that she needed no help at all getting started.

The moshling characters are perfect, just as she knows them from the cards, books, annual and figures; she immediately felt like she'd enterred their world and wanted to explore and interact with them.

The first thing you need to do in the game is feed and wash your first moshling, a fluffie of some description. The washing is very straight forward and quickly builds up points for moving up levels; the feeding takes a bit of practice but Rachel picked it up quickly enough and that propelled her into level two within 15 minutes.

There are races and quizzes for each moshling, these also build up points; I was surprised how challenging these were for me, but they posed no problem for Rachel. Dare I say I felt my age a little bit!!

Within an hour of playing Rachel had figured out how to get more moshlings and had 5 in various areas by the end of the day. She has had the game for four days and plays for about an hour a day and already she has a couple to level 10 and the others are progressing well.

If you have a moshi monsters fan who loves their Nintendo DS and is looking for a new game I highly recommend Moshi Monsters Moshling Zoo. It's fabulous.

My rating: 8/10
Rachel's rating: 9/10

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


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When we're at our flat we watch a lot of movies, we take all sorts that we never normally make time to watch at home. One of these is Burlesque. I wanted to watch it at the cinema but getting Mike to watch what appeared to be a musical and especially one that was being slated by the critics, wasn't going to happen. But he agreed to watch it on the small screen.

The plot is pretty obvious, the staging average but the casting wonderful and the singing and dancing a joy. I knew I'd like it, it's my sort of thing, but Mike liked it to. It's a really enjoyable film and does not deserve all the average reviews it's received.

Christina Aguilera is stunning and perfectly cast; Cher is just right for the role and the two main men, wonderful.

If you like to shake your tail feather and sing along to classic tunes then watch Burlesque; it's an uplifting way to spend an evening.

Emma 8/10
Mike 7/10

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows

Last night Mike and I decided to watch both parts of Harry Potter and the deathly hallows back to back.

We watched part I when it was released about a year ago and part II in August. I reviewed part II here.

Watching both parts together I feel slightly differently about the films so I'm reviewing again. A girl's allowed to change her mind right? And I gave Mike permission too.

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Harry potter and the deathly hallows was filmed as one film which would be released in two parts, but it belongs together. I know that makes it a four hour film, but it really us fantastic taken as a whole. It flows better, it feels more well rounded. The slow bits in the tent which Mike complained about were in proportion with the massive action that I didn't like so much. It worked fabulously as a whole. The characters grow through both parts, the plot builds to a crescendo through both, the poignancy is greater and the defeat more worthwhile.

We both agree that it was a big mistake to divide the film onto two parts, one which detracted from the plot and characterisations. But thanks to the DVD and Blu-ray releases we can all see it in it's completeness.

If you love Harry Potter but were left feeling disappointed by these two (or just one of them) then I highly recommend you find a 4 hour slot in your life and watch them back to back. You'll appreciate it.

Emma 10/10
Mike 10/10

Despicable Me review by Rachel

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We all watched despicable me and no one fell asleep. I've seen this film before bit it's even better watching it again. Mum and Dad really liked the bank of evil because it was by brothers or something.

(Emma says - previously Leehman Brothers!)

I really like the yellow people who work for the man Gru. Gru thinks he is bad but he's not very good at being bad and he's good at being funny.

Gru adopts three girls and they help him be a good dad and that is funny too.

It's a good film and very, very, very funny.

Megamind review by Rachel

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We watched Megamind. Mummy fell asleep half way through it but Dad and I watched it all. It is very funny and Megamind is not really a baddie, he is just lonely and wants people to talk to and like him. I think the good guy was really the baddie and a bully.

Megamind has a very big blue head and a pet fish in a robot and he isn't very good being evil but he's very good at being funny. It's a very funny film and dad laughed a lot.

8/10 and good for everyone

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Gruffalo's Child

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One of the highlights from last years' Christmas day was absolutely definitely the BBC production of The Gruffalo. We loved it! So it was with much excitement that we perched ourselves in front of the television this Christmas day afternoon.

We weren't disappointed, the BBC have done Julia Donaldson and her books proud again. Rachel sat open mouthed throughout, she says
"I loved it just like the book, it's lovely and the mouse isn't scary but tricks the Gruffalo and her child. Can I watch it again tomorrow? Tell everyone to watch it because it's brilliant. But it's too short."

It didn't have the same impact as The Gruffalo but that's mainly because it uses the same style and animation and therefore didn't achieve the wow factor.

However it will be top of our sky plus box for the next few months and no doubt watched with smiles and joy every time.

If you didn't catch it tonight do not fear, it's repeated tomorrow morning and will be released on DVD soon, just watch out for the big bad mouse.

Happy Christmas

Noah's Ark Card Game

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I bought this cheap as chips card game for us to play after Christmas lunch today, we had mixed results.

We started playing the game it was intended for, Noah's Ark.
The aim of the game is to get all the families of animals (mum, dad and baby) into the ark with Noah.

There are 17 families and one Noah card.

The cards are all dealt out and players can look at their cards. If players hold a complete family then it is laid down in front of them face up.  This animal family has "entered the ark".

The player on the left of the dealer holds all their remaining cards face down to the player on their left.  This player selects one of the cards shown.

If this card completes a family then it "enters the ark", otherwise this player now offers their card to the next person on the left.

Game continues until all animal families have "entered the ark".

If a player has the Noah card then they can complete the game by "closing the ark".

When the ark is closed then the players all total the scores of the cards in front of them in families.  They then take off the value of any cards still in their hands.  The person who closes the ark with the Noah's card scores 50 points. The winner is the player with the highest score.

There were five of us playing and the game didn't work with that many, after an hour we'd got almost no where and Rachel had wondered off from boredom.

Determined to try and get a game for us all out of my purchase I convinced everyone to play Happy Families with the cards instead.

The object of the game is to collect complete families. 

The cards are all dealt out.  The players can look at their cards and make any families they have.  When a player has a family of cards they lay that family down in front of them, face up.

Game starts when everyone has looked at their cards.

The first player asks another player for a specific card from a family they already have one of. 

If the asked player has the card, they gives it to the requester and the requester can then ask any player for another card. 

If the asked player does not have the card, it becomes their turn and they ask another player for a specific card. 

Play continues in this way until all cards are grouped into families.  The player with the most families of cards wins.

This was much more interactive, fast paced and exciting to play. It got us all talking and laughing and Rachel loved it.

Despite not being great in it's original form, this card game is definitely worth getting hold of if you can. The best £2 I've spent in ages.
Happy Christmas

Friday, 23 December 2011

Simple Christmas Biscuits

Today Rachel fancied doing a bit of baking so we made these super simple and terribly tasty Christmas biscuits.

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These are the simple ingredients:

250g butter , softened
140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour

And all you do is:

Mix the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and briefly beat to combine.
Sift the flour and stir into the mixture.
Use your hands to make a ball of dough.
Roll out the dough about 1cm thick and use cutters to make shapes.
Bake the biscuits at 160 degrees C in a fan oven for 15 minutes.
When baked allow to cool and then decorate.

We made hearts, hearts with heart holes, bells, stars and candy canes.
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The decorating was bright and cheerful. Perfect for Christmas; here are Rachel's favourites.

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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Rachel makes ... Christmas name cards

We have been inundated with Christmas cards, over 200 at the last count, we are very lucky and feel very loved.  The trouble is we only have room to hang about 150 around the house.  We don't worry though; every year I let Rachel pick her favourite ones and make christmasy pictures out of them.  This year however she's taken her creativity one step further, she's made .....

Christmas lunch name cards.

Here are her step by step instructions to making them.

1. You need to choose a nice picture on a Christmas card

2. Cut the picture out from the card, you can have some background round it if you want

3. Take the back of the card and fold it in half to be the stand, if you've cut the back of your card then just use some paper

4. Take the picture and Sellotape it to the stand so that the picture is nice and tall

5. Cut little pieces of paper for the name labels

6. Write the name of the person coming to Christmas lunch on the little pieces of paper

7. Sellotape the name label to the stand

8. There you go you've finished

9. Repeat steps 1 to 8 for every person coming to Christmas lunch

10. You (the child) need to lay them out on the table so all the adults know where to sit.

Here are the ones I made.
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Have fun making yours.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Caramelised Nigella Lawson

Have you seen this front cover of Nigella's magazine?

I was looking at it and wondering how lovely it would be to be coated in caramel; I was in my own little world. As a mum of course I was quickly snapped out of my ponderings by Rachel who sensibly said....

why has she done that? it will be really sticky and hurt to get off.

bless her, always the neat freak :)

Tracks of 2011

We were listening to the radio and heard that already people are compiling their tracks of 2011; so Rachel thought she'd compile her list and here they are:

10. Swagger Jagger by Cher Lloyd
9. Read all about it by Professor Green
8. Price Tag by Jessie J
7. Don't Hold your Breath by Nicole Scherzinger
6. Best thing I never had by Beyonce
5. Mr Know it All by Kelly Clarkson
4. She makes me wanna by JLS
3. Black and Yello by Wiz Khalifa
2. Born the way by Lady Gaga
1. Moves like Jagger by Maroon 5

I'm quite impressed with the range, although sometimes I wonder about the lyrics which she sings along to. But really I'm just seriously impressed that there's no Justin Bieber!!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Perfect stocking filler - The Slithers

Are you looking for something small and perfectly formed and fun for your kids stockings this year? I highly recommend The Slithers which were a bargain £2.49 at our local The Range.

I remember a simpler version of these as a girl, they were very popular in the 1980s. But these are new and improved, with a spring in the centre to get some fabulous window walking.

Not sure what I mean? Well here's Rachel demonstrating it for you.

Silent Sunday