Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Healthier Halloween Treats

Halloween is a time where there are lots of sweets and treats. So, to try and cut down our sugar intake, Sykes Cottages have invited me to come up with some healthier options to serve this Halloween.

For the younger children, these banana and choc chip eyeball cakes are the perfect afternoon treat at Halloween. They are really easy to make, so it's a good time to get the children involved with the baking.

For the cake:
  • 100g Butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g Light brown sugar
  • 225g Self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed (use a fork to mash the banana)
  • 50g Chocolate chips

  • For the decoration:
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 15ml warm water
  • Smarties, buttons, icing

  • 1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/160ºC for fan assisted and line a muffin tray with 12 cases (spooky ones if you have them!).

  • 2. Place the butter, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, milk and banana in a mixing bowl and using a hand held mixer, blend until smooth, add the chocolate chips and stir in with a spoon.

  • 3. Spoon the mixture equally between the cases and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

    4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

    5. Once cooled, make the glacé icing. Mix 125g icing sugar with a teaspoon of water at a time until it reaches a smooth and thick consistency. Try not to make it too runny or it won't stay in the centre.  Place a teaspoon full of your thick icing on the middle of a cake and spread into a round(ish) shape.

    I used some renshaw candy melts for the iris and a chocolate chip for the pupil, but you could use a smartie and some black icing, or a raisin. For the red around the eye I used a streak of red food colouring on the end of cocktail stick and just squiggled it through the icing before it set.

    Once you have done this with all of them, there you have it, a spooky healthier cake.

    Next up is a recipe I have made several times, it is a mix of raisins and nuts blended up. These bites are full of natural energy and perfect for slightly older children, although my three and six year old both enjoy them, I know some people like to be careful with nuts. They are blended into tiny pieces though so should be fine.


    100g Raisins
    30g Cranberries
    30g Cashews
    30g Brazil nuts
    30g Flaked almonds
    20g Mixed seeds
    1-3 tsps Honey
    Liquorice Catherine Wheels for decoration.

    1. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

    2. Place the raisins, cranberries, cashews, brazil nuts, mixed seeds and flaked almonds in a mixer or chopper and blend until chopped and mixed, add a little honey at a time until it becomes wet enough to roll into balls without breaking apart.

    Once you've rolled out the spiders bodies, cut the liquorice in half lengthways so you have thinner strips to make the legs. Add these to the tops of the bodies whilst still squidgy, once you have done this you can add little pieces of cranberry as eyes or leave as is. Place in the fridge to firm up and then  serve.

    Together these treats look great displayed next to a pumpkin and some cobwebs...

    This is my entry into the Sykes Cottages Healthy Halloween Treats challenge.

    Sunday, 26 October 2014

    Black & White Project Week 16

    One of my fave photos from the blog this week, love the way their eyes stand out in black and white.

    Saturday, 25 October 2014

    An Autumn Walk at Rufford Abbey

    My son school has a two week half term break in October and as for the first few days of it there was such terrible weather, once it cleared up on the Wednesday, we decided to head out in the morning to Rufford Abbey.

    We have been there many times before, it is the perfect place to let of steam and whether its summer or winter it's a favourite for us.

    Firstly, there was something we had expected to see, a community archaeology project were digging up part of the grass. This looked interesting, so we made the little detour to check it out, the volunteers had dug up old tiles, brick work and some pottery. If you look closely you can see a paw print on the tile in this picture.

    The main reason I took the children to Rufford was because I wanted them to run and play in the leaves and I knew there would be plenty there. We looked at the leaves in the light to see their veins, so it was educational too.

    A rather friendly goose trying to eat my wellies and some obligatory leaf finding.

    The house looked beautiful eerily beautiful against the dark sky and surrounded by beautiful burning trees, autumn really is a beautiful season. There were some halloween treats about, including a witch in a tree, we also played on the park and dug in the sand.

    After the park we went and found some more leaves to play in, we spent ages kicking and chucking leaves and then sadly it started to rain. But we got to see some wonderful colours and had a fabulous time. We didn't have to pay for any of the fun we had, well, expect a hot chocolate for me and a snack each for the kids.

    So if you are looking for something to do this half term and are local to Nottingham I can highly recommend Rufford Abbey, they have a halloween trail during half term so perfect for getting into the halloween spirit

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    Win a Family Ticket for Octonauts Live

    We are huge fans of the Octonauts in our house, in fact they are an integral part of our bath time routine, usually the first choice of toy to take the plunge into the bath. So it is exciting to see that one of our favourite adventures is coming to the theatre.

    Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure sees the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.

    Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure is produced by live childrens show supremos Fiery Light (a joint venture by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions), the team also behind the recent tours of the three successful Peppa Pig stage shows. Their most recent – Peppa Pigs Big Splash - is currently on tour. It has broken box office records for a pre-school show and will return to the West End for fifth consecutive Christmas season at the Criterion Theatre this year. Other Fiery Light productions include the recent tour of Ben and Hollys Little Kingdom, LazyTown Live! and Roald Dahls The BFG.

    Director/adapter Richard Lewis said: ‘Octonauts is all about adventure and exploration which offers up a whole host of possibilities in a live environment. From the colourful characters and fantastic underwater setting to the amazing octopod where the Octonauts live, theres great scope for a really unique, interactive theatre experience. We cant wait to take fans on an adventure like never before.

    And why am I telling you all of this? Well I have one family ticket up for grabs for a venue of your choice (T&Cs apply). Just enter via the Rafflecopter form below, terms and conditions on the Rafflecopter widget.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Wednesday, 22 October 2014

    Stretchkins Review

    We have acquired many soft toys over the years but none have caused as much of a stir as the Stretchkins we were sent recently.

    Stretchkins aren't just something to hug and cuddle, they are also a great way to get children to be active. With straps on their hands and feet the Stretchkins really live up the their name and stretch so as your children move, they move too.

    They stretch up to about four feet but also offer some resistance, so they are exercising little arms and legs at the same time.

    My daughter has fallen in love with her unicorn, it spends most nights in bed with her but she loves to dance with it and give it lots of hugs!

    My son is the same, the poseable legs and arms means they look so life like and can be put in daft positions.

    When I first heard about them I thought they were a little gimmicky but I can see their use and both of the children have used them for their intended purpose.

    I think they're the perfect Christmas present and are currently on offer in Argos at £30 for two.

    NB: We were sent two Stretchkins for review, however all words and opinions are my own.