Butternut Squash Muffins with Yoghurt Icing

This post is long overdue. I promised to share this recipe ages ago. These cakes are both very tasty and healthy, being full of butternut squash and iced with yoghurt. Also a great way of getting hidden veggies into kids. A very tasty bake for afternoon tea.

And with Halloween just round the corner, you could easily make them with pumpkin instead of butternut squash. And jazz them up with some spooky Halloween designs like spiders webs and witches hats on the icing.

Butternut Squash Muffins

Butternut Squash Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12)

200g plain flour
200g grated butternut squash
200g caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
few drops vanilla essence
100ml milk
50ml sunflower oil
1 large egg
100ml boiling water


Preheat fan oven to 160 degree C.
Boil a kettle of water.
Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add the milk, vanilla essence, oil and boiling water.
Mix together either by hand or with an electric mixer.
Beat the egg and whisk in.
Fold the butternut squash into the mixture.
Fill the cases to about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 20 mins in centre of oven until golden brown.
Allow to cool before icing.

Vanilla Yoghurt Icing


500g pot of vanilla yoghurt


Pour the yogurt into a clean draw-string cloth bag.
(If you don’t have a bag, you may use a tea towel and string).
Tie the bag to the handle of an open drawer.
Put a bowl underneath.
Strain it for at least 3 hours until the yoghurt is thick, but preferably overnight.
Remove from bag into a basin.
Ice the muffins.
Serve and enjoy.

If you don’t have time to strain yoghurt you may alternatively make cream cheese icing.

butternut squash muffins

Disclosure.  This post is my entry to the Great Denby Cake Off Blogging Competition.
And I’m also entering this post to a Halloween baking competition hosted by Cakeyboi in association with Kleeneze.

LED Candle Lights Review

Last year I reviewed Christmas Lights from LED Hut. I have now received another free product to review from LED Hut. This time it is Candle Lights. And they also included a free pack of sweets.

candle light

I’ve never had candle lights but I’ve always thought that they look so pretty in windows at Christmas time when I walk past houses that have them. So I couldn’t wait to try them out.

candle light

They looked especially effective on the dining window sill in the dark. I love the bridge shape and I liked the green trimming too. I plan to put it on the lounge window sill at Christmas time, but I will need to use an extension cable for that, as we don’t have a power point near enough the lounge window for the 1.5m length of cable provided. But there is a power point just by the corner of our dining room window.

candle light

And I was pleased to see that there is a spare bulb taped to the electric cable. It is always great to have a spare bulb but what a clever idea to tape it there, where it won’t get lost, if you ever do need to use it.

This item retails for £9.99 – a great price in my opinion for an item that can be reused year after year unlike real candles. It comes with a 2 year warranty, which can be extended to 5 years by downloading and returning a free form. So why not sell it with a 5 year warranty in the first place? That would make more sense from a customer satisfaction point of view in my opinion. And there is a 30 day returns policy, plus free next day delivery on orders over £50.

Although I received the product for free, I took a look at the checkout process and found that I would have had to manually apply a code to avoid paying an additional £2 VAT for this item. A nice idea that they offer to pay the VAT, but why not make the process simpler by doing it automatically for all purchases? I’m not keen on potential hidden extra charges. I also discovered at checkout, that not being above the £50 order threshold level, meant that P&P would be £2.99. This is the sort of information I would prefer to see on the delivery page, but no not detailed there, rather than having to wait until I reach checkout to find out.

I also discovered that the sweets were a free gift that they include with all orders – a nice little touch.

So in summary a great value product but a few niggles with the checkout process.

LED Hut are the UK’s no.1 online retailer for LED lighting products. And they have a wide range of products for Christmas including Christmas Tree lights, Curtain lights, Naked Wire lights, Twig lights, Character/Symbol double sided window lights, Candle lights, Icicle lights, much more than last year, so do take a look.

LED lights are much more efficient than traditional incandescent lighting, so you can save upto 90% on your lighting bills.  They also last for 50,000 hours which is 50 times longer than standard bulbs.  That’s about 20 years if you used them for 6 hours a day.  If LEDs reach their full potential, they could almost single-handedly eliminate lighting as a major source of global emissions. 20% of the world’s energy use is from lighting and this could be reduced to 4% with LED lighting.

Last December we started swapping our halogen spotlights in the kitchen, hall and bathrooms over to LED lights each time a bulb blew. So far we are about 50% through the replacement programme and we haven’t had any issues with the LED lights yet.

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

A Halloween Story with the free Storytime Sounds App

Mumsnet have asked bloggers to download and review the free Storytime Sounds app from ​notonthehighstreet.com with a chance to win a £400 voucher to spend on their site.

This iPhone app was launched in the summer and it has a range of sounds to use when you are telling a story to your children. Just like the button sound books which my kids have always loved. Son1 still won’t part with his Gruffalo sound book, even though he is far too old for it, being into Roald Dahl and the like now. So this app sounded ideal for us.

Storytime Sounds

And the app has just had an update with a new storyboard for Halloween. The existing storyboards are pirates, fairytales, ​lost world, space and monsters.

Storytime Sounds

Screenshot from my iPhone

So I duly downloaded the app onto my iPhone from​ the iTunes app store here and just before bedtime read the Halloween story “The Little Witch who couldn’t be scary” which notonthehighstreet.com had written specially to accompany the new update. With hindsight, it would have been better if I had printed the story to read it from, rather than balancing my laptop on my knee, as well as holding my iPhone and trying to cuddle 2 children.


The boys loved it, taking it in turns to press the sounds on my iPhone as I read the story to them. Just like they used to do when I read sound books to them before they could read themselves.

However they weren’t satisfied at this point. We had to continue by listening to every sound from the other five storyboards. They both declared Monsters to be their favourite storyboard.

They also requested the next day that the app be downloaded onto their own iPods. Son1 was planning to then tell his own monster story to son2 and me the next night, but he declared it not ready yet. Instead whilst son2 read the story of The Three Little Pigs, son1 added a variety of sounds from all storyboards.

So they think some extra sounds are needed, such as for the wolf to huff and puff.

I can tell that we are going to get a lot more fun from this app. So I highly recommend that you download a copy too. It’s free and aimed at families with kids age 3-7.

Disclosure. This post is a review of a product that is freely available but I do get an entry into a competition. All opinions are my own.



A delicious sounding recipe by Mommy Cook For Me. I definitely plan to bake these.

Originally posted on Mommy Cook For Me:


Prepare time 30 minutes

Level= Easy

Serve= 12

There is no better smell than the fresh baked chocolate cookies in the kitchen. Baking Chocolate Cookie smells in my kitchen, I would love my house to always smell like.  These double chocolate cookies are easy to make and they are so delicious,inside soft,rich chocolate and moreish. If you like your cookies a little firmer , allow them to bake for 1 or 2 minutes more. Enjoy it with a cup of  coffee, a cup of tea or a glass of milk.

View original 235 more words

Creative Play

Gemma of My Mills Baby has challenged bloggers in association with Toyella to share the story behind an image of their children at creative play.

I have so many great memories of my children playing creatively, be it at home or out and about. They mostly go into their own imaginative world together using toys to make up their own stories or re-enact their favourite scenes from games, books or films. They build props out of bricks or lego and use teddies, playmobil people, moshi monsters, angry birds or other figures as the characters in their story. Meanwhile us adults are blanked out and we have to break in if we wish to communicate to the boys.

Difficult to choose just one photo, however with Halloween fast approaching I have decided to share a picture from this time last year. The boys are in costume enacting their own scary story, trapped in the spider web. Son1 is even pretending to eat bugs like a spider would. I don’t remember what happened next, but I am sure it would have been along the lines of being rescued by some of their toys.


So how do your children play creatively?

ToyellaBadgeComp zps7631f58f Calling all Bloggers: Have a #ToyellaChristmas and win £150 in Toys (CD: 25/10/2014)

Disclosure.  This post is my entry to the #ToyellaChristmas Blogger Competition hosted by My Mills Baby and sponsored by Toyella.

More crafting fun including a giveaway

Regular readers of my blog may remember my earlier reviews of docrafts kits. I’ve had fun making Christmas decorations and a Roald Dahl decoupage card previously. I have now received four more free products from docrafts to review.

crafting supplies

They are:-
Papermania Bare Basics – Kraft Gift Tags & Jute (contains 20) – RRP £2.50
Papermania Bare Basics – White Mini Cards & Envelopes (contains 3) – RRP £2.50
Papermania Chalk Craft – Chalkboard & Kraft Parcel Tags (contains 10) – RRP £2.75
Papermania Chalk Craft – Chalkboard Stickers (contains 24) – RRP £3

My son is attending a joint birthday party for two of his school friends. So I decided to try two of the kits out to make a couple of attractive gift tags to label the birthday presents.

For the first one, using Kraft Gift Tags & Jute, I simply stuck some Ben 10 stickers onto the tag and threaded a length of the jute through the hole and wrote a message on the reverse. Great for the Ben 10 present inside.

Kraft Gift Tags & Jute

For the second one, using Chalkboard & Kraft Parcel Tags, I grabbed some gold ribbon from my craft stash, tore it in half lengthways to make it thinner and threaded it through the hole and wrote part of the message in blue chalk on the chalkboard. I find chalk is quite clumsy to write with, so my writing was quite large for the size of the tag. This meant I didn’t have room to write all the message, so I wrote the rest on the reverse. I finished it off with a smiley sticker.

Chalkboard & Kraft Parcel Tags

By now I had quite got into the theme of parcel labelling, so I decided to make a gift card using the White Mini Cards & Envelopes. These were a great size at 10.5 x 7cm. I stuck a selection of elephant stickers on both the card and envelope.

White Mini Cards & Envelopes

And finally I have a great plan for the Chalkboard Stickers. I’m going to make some lemon curd, but I need to get some jars first, so I will blog the recipe after it is made. Meanwhile I have prepared a sticker for one of the jars to show you.

Chalkboard Stickers

So I’ve used these all in very simple ways. But they could be incorporated into more ambitious projects. I’d love to hear what you would do with them?

These products are all brand new additions to the range and will be available in November from docrafts stockists.

These are all great basic crafting supplies. I was very impressed with the quality and I consider them mostly to be very good value. Although the White Mini Cards & Envelopes are slightly overpriced in my opinion, equating to 83p each.

The docrafts website has loads of creative inspiration for crafting projects, plus a wide range of products for sale. It also has a busy crafting forum. Do take a look.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway one of each of these four products courtesy of docrafts to one lucky winners.  A lovely prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here. Currently I have one open worldwide to win 1 of 3 copies of the book “Micah Seven Five” – a murder mystery.

Family Fever

Disclosure.  This post is a review of products I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

A kids’ ski holiday wardrobe

Mark Warner are challenging bloggers to showcase their favourite kids’ ski holiday wardrobe. This challenge is in association with Polarn O. Pyret.

Neither I nor my boys have ever been ski-ing, so I took a look at the Polarn O. Pyret website to see what winter outerwear was in their range. And I was so impressed that I chose my whole wardrobe from Polarn O. Pyret. First up are the ski coat and trousers which I selected to keep the boys warm and dry. These are also padded, so may help with bumps if they fall over. And the reflective stripes will help keep them visible in the dark, post ski-ing. Then I’ve chosen matching thermal long johns and top as a base layer for extra warmth in the cold temperatures in the snow. And I know from my personal experience that ears hurt if they get very cold, so I chose a cosy balaclava hat. Also a pair of gloves to keep fingers warm. Now I don’t know if ski-boots come in kids sizes, but I couldn’t resist these wellies, as they match the balaclava perfectly. Polarn O. Pyret don’t stock ski-boots, but perhaps I should go and check some other stores.

So what would you choose?

Kids Ski Holiday Wardrobe

Kids Padded Ski Trousers
£70 – polarnopyret.co.uk

Kids Padded Ski Coat
£95 – polarnopyret.co.uk

Striped Thermal Kids Long Johns
£18 – polarnopyret.co.uk

Striped Thermal Kids Top
£18 – polarnopyret.co.uk

PO.P Stripe Kids Balaclava
£14 – polarnopyret.co.uk

Winter Kids Gloves
£22 – polarnopyret.co.uk

PO.P Classic Kids Wellies
£22 – polarnopyret.co.uk

Mallzee – the personal stylist in your pocket

Like fashion shopping online and have an iPhone? Then you’ll love Mallzee. It is an app which is available free on iTunes and has over 2 million products from 100 big name fashion brands like ASOS, Topshop, River Island and Miss Selfridge. A fashion mall in your pocket! No need to spend ages going from website to website searching for that perfect item or best bargain. Fantastic for a busy lifestyle, as you can browse whenever you have a spare few minutes. Also works on iPad or iPod touch.


Swipe left to never see again


Swipe right to save

And Mallzee has just launched a new version. It now has functionality to share your fashion finds with friends. Also there is more menswear and some brand new fashion brands.

Super new features include:
– A totally interactive homepage full of cutting edge style inspiration from top fashion bloggers and stylists.
– Unique Style Feeds allowing users to create specific product searches. Simply set your requirements and watch the options roll in- even when you’re not using the app.
– Price drop alerts ensuring you never miss a bargain again. Simply save a product to be instantly notified if it drops in price.
– In-app clothes sharing via What’s App, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail allowing you to get a valuable second opinion from the friends who really matter.
– Speedier swiping to remove or save fashion finds.

So give it a whirl. It’s free to download. And don’t forget to tell me about your great fashion finds.

Disclosure.  This post is my entry to the Mallzee Blogger Competition in association with ebuyer.com and London College of Fashion.

Messy Kids

Both my boys can be very messy sometimes. We supposedly have a house rule to tidy up one toy before getting another out, but it is always ignored and the mess spreads from the playroom and their bedrooms to the rest of the house. And also I try to encourage them to put dirty clothes in the basket and to help clear the table after meals, but no it is usually me who ends up doing all that.

Toys everywhere

Toys everywhere!

And what about eating. Will they use knives and forks? Not if they can help it. So fingers get really sticky. Where do they wipe those sticky fingers? On napkins or kitchen roll – no of course not. They wipe them on their clothes. I’ve resorted to trying to insist they wear aprons at mealtimes at home. They tell me it is not cool to wear an apron, so I let them off if they have friends round. I’d quite happily ditch the aprons if they would use a napkin. I thought we would have left the messy eating phase behind years ago after we got past weaning.

Messy eating

Uh oh that sleeve is going to wipe across the side plate

Good job he wore an apron to eat

Good job he wore an apron to eat

They like to help bake sometimes which is great. But a big sigh from me afterwards as I try to clear up all the extra mess. Similar story when we have crafting sessions. I love their creativity, but it is hoover and cloth out for me to deal with the debris. And if they use bath crayons, it is me who has to clean it off.

Messy cooking

Messy cooking

Messy cooking

More messy cooking

Messy craft

Messy craft

Drawing on the bath

Drawing on the bath

Another niggle is why do they use non-washable pens at school. We have school shirts with black lines which don’t wash out.

And I hate these rainy autumn days right now as it means extra cleaning in the hall from all the leaves and pine needles etc that get walked into the house.  Thank goodness they do usually remember to take shoes off in the hall.

So tell me what mess your kids make?

Two Little Fleas


Disclosure.  This post is my entry to the “Messy Kids” Bloggers’ Competition hosted by Jen of The Mad House and sponsored by Two Little Fleas.

Fish pie

Britmums have challenged bloggers in partnership with the Potato Council to share their Maris Piper potato recipes. Potatoes are naturally fat free as well as a source of fibre and potassium and perfect for family-friendly meals. And Maris Piper is a great all-rounder for chips, roast potatoes or mash

Fish pie is always a favourite in our household. I vary which fish to include. Here is my recipe for a fish pie using salmon and Maris Piper potatoes, which has a lovely fluffy mash topping. A great meal for a healthy smile especially as salmon is a good source of vitamin D, which is critical to your oral health.

fish pie

Fish Pie

Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 2 children)

1kg Maris Piper potatoes
270g salmon
50g frozen sweetcorn
50g frozen peas
25g margarine
25g wholemeal flour
300ml milk
6 peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground bayleaf
1 shallot
knob of butter
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp pesto
30g grated cheddar


Preheat fan oven to 180 degree.
Peel and chop the potatoes.
Peel shallot.
Put potatoes in a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil.
Cook until potatoes are soft enough to mash.
Drain the potatoes.
Add knob of butter and tbsp of milk and then mash the potatoes.
Meanwhile add salmon, 300ml milk, peppercorns, bayleaf and shallot to another saucepan and gently heat for about 10 minutes.
Once salmon is cooked, lift out with a slotted spoon.
Remove skin and flake the fish.
Strain and reserve the liquor, discarding the peppercorns. (I usually save the shallot to eat with my portion).
Meanwhile melt the margarine in a jug in the microwave.
Stir in the flour.
Gradually stir in the liquor.
Return to the microwave and cook on high power.
Stir at 1 minute intervals until the sauce has thickened.
Stir in the pesto.
Meanwhile put peas and sweetcorn in an ovenproof dish.
Add the flaked salmon.
Stir in the sauce.
Cover with the mashed potato.
Sprinkle grated cheddar on the top.
Cook for about 20 minutes in pre-heated oven (180 degree for fan oven)
Serve and enjoy.

fish pie

This post is an entry for the #FluffyMarisPiper Linky Challenge sponsored by Potato Council. Learn more at bit.ly/18rWnaB

And I’m also entering it into the Simply Health Healthy Smile competition. See which foods to eat and which to avoid for a healthy smile here.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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