Tag Archives: Halloween

Pumpkin and Kale stir-fry

I hope you enjoyed Halloween. Did you carve a pumpkin? I always find pumpkin carving quite difficult, so am impressed with some of the amazing designs that I see online. I understand a stencil is the key, however I don’t think I would have the patience. But at least the boys were happy with my basic carving.


And of course I didn’t want to waste the pumpkin flesh. Instead I used it in a stir-fry.

Pumpkin and Kale stir fry

Pumpkin and Kale stir-fry

Ingredients (serves 2)

250g pumpkin
350g potato
50g kale
1 spring onion
50g macadamias
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper to season


Dice the pumpkin and chop the spring onion.
Shred the kale and grate the potato.
Heat the oil in a wok over a moderate heat.
Add the pumpkin and onion.
Stir in the grated potato.
Stir in the kale.
Add the macadamias.
Add herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Continue to stir-fry for about 10-15 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.

Pumpkin and Kale stir-fry

I’d love to hear your favourite pumpkin recipes.

And you can see how to toast the pumpkin seeds here, along with my pumpkin soup recipe.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Double Down by Jeff Kinney

I have some good news for Wimpy Kid fans. Not long to wait for book 11 in the series by Jeff Kinney. Both my boys are huge Wimpy Kid fans and can’t wait to read this one. We’re going to be a sent a free copy once it is published.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Double Down

Here is the book blurb.

The pressure’s really piling up on Greg Heffley. His mom thinks video games are turning his brain to mush, so she wants her son to put down the controller and explore his ‘creative side’.

As if that’s not scary enough, Halloween’s just around the corner and the frights are coming at Greg from every angle.

When Greg discovers a bag of gummy worms, it sparks an idea. Can he get his mom off his back by making a movie . . . and will he become rich and famous in the process? Or will doubling down on this plan just double Greg’s troubles?

We were sent a short 10 page Halloween extract from Diary of a Wimpy Kid Double Down as a sneak peek. Son2 enjoyed reading this and is looking forward to the book. He particularly found the extract funny because Rowley needed the toilet at the Halloween party. However he thinks the cover should be a different colour as he says they have already had red. But at book number 11, I explained to him there can’t be many good colours left unused.

Son2 creating his haunted house

We also received a Halloween Haunted House activity sheet. You can see son2’s very imaginative version below on the right and Greg Heffley’s on the left.

Haunted House

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Double Down is available for pre-order on Amazon, currently priced at £5.00 in hardback compared to RRP of £12.99 or in kindle format. This is book 11 in the series and will be published on 1st November.

Here is the trailer.

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Disclosure. This post mentions a book that I will be sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Trick or Treat

Not long until Halloween and now that son1 has finished chemotherapy, the boys are looking forward to be able to go out doing Trick or Treat for the first time. So we were very pleased to receive a bundle of free Halloween goodies from Wilko to review.

Halloween - Trick or Treat

This is what we received.
2 Treat Buckets at 50p each
2 Pumpkin Sippy Cups at £1 each
Green Web with Spiders £1
Candyking Sharing Tub £4
Loot Scoop £3
Cauldron £6

Halloween - Trick or Treat

Now of course, you always need plenty of treats, since you don’t know how many children may come knocking at your door, so an 840g tub of sweets will definitely come in handy. At £4, it is very good value, at a lower price and bigger weight than similar size tubs of Quality Street, Celebrations or Cadbury Heroes. But one word of warning, once you have emptied the packets back into the tub, it does look half empty.

Halloween - Trick or Treat

And the boys naturally gave the sweets the thumbs-up.

Halloween - Trick or Treat

They then gave the loot scoop a try. But they both found it difficult to actually scoop up any of the sweets, although it worked fine to scoop up larger items out of a toy box. I would suggest just ignore the scoop functionality, as it doubles as a fantastic costume accessory and you can still use it to store your treats in the bag. It also comes in an orange pumpkin design.

However the boys plan to use the buckets for their treats rather than the loot scoop. Much easier to use and amazing value at 50p each which is a lot cheaper than when we buy similar size buckets at the beach. The buckets come in 3 colours / designs.

The boys loved the cauldron which is huge. They kept pretending to make and stir potions in it. I decorated it with the green spiders web, although this could be stretched much further across a big area like the front door. And we plan to put the cauldron on the doorstep next to the pumpkin at Halloween. You could even use it to offer your treats out in, if you’re planning to be generous on the treat front. Anything less would look lost in such a big cauldron.

Halloween - Trick or Treat

Now sweets can be thirsty work, so a welcome drink from the pumpkin sippy cups. I would say these are more aimed at younger children than my boys, but they are certainly cute. However a little awkward to fill and they don’t dry easily after washing. Also it advises that they are not suitable for hot drinks or microwave or dishwasher.

Halloween pumpkin sippy cup

Note if ordering online, you can’t choose your preferred colour / design for the treat buckets and loot scoop. So get down to your local branch if you want a particular colour or design. Also products are not suitable for children under 36 months. This includes the sippy cups.

In summary, I certainly recommend the Wilko Halloween range if you’re after a good deal.

I’d love to hear your favourite Halloween tales or traditions.

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

Dressing up fun plus giveaway

Some of my regular followers will be aware that I enjoy comping as well as blogging. I recently won a £30 voucher on Melanie’s Fab Finds blog to spend at Tickled Pink Fancy Dress.

Great timing as both the boys need a costume after half-term. Son1 has an Egyptian day and son2 has an Invaders day. So I took a look at the Tickled Pink website to see what I could find for these themes. I quickly found a Viking Helmet for son2 but sadly there were no Egyptian costumes at all. Perhaps they will consider adding a Pharoah to their range, once they read this, as it comes up on the school curriculum every year. I’m sure the head-dress is probably beyond my crafting skills, although I did enjoy making a laurel wreath for son1 a year ago. You can see that here and I’ll probably re-use the rest of that outfit to complete son2’s viking look.

Tickled Pink Viking Helmet

The Viking Helmet is a very reasonable £2.99, which left most of my prize still to spend. So I had a browse round the costumes. There is plenty to choose from – onesies, Star Wars, Superheroes, Disney to name but a few. And not just kids costumes. There are a wide range of adult costumes too.

However in the end I decided that I would get the boys a couple of new Halloween outfits, as our existing ones are either really too small or secondhand. Particularly as son1’s chemo is due to finish in the summer, so this will be the first year that they get to go out Trick and Treating. I let the boys pick what they preferred, although we did experience some frustration over the inconsistent sizing guides. For some outfits, a kids medium is age 7-9 and a large is age 10-12 whilst for others, a medium is age 5-6 and a large 7-8. Therefore it was pointless trying to filter by size.

Tickled Pink Sinister Clown

In the end son1 chose the Sinister Clown at £9.99 whilst son2 chose the Skull and Bones Morphsuit at £21.99. Checkout process was very easy.

Tickled Pink Skull and Bones Morphsuit

And then a surprise happened. Alex from Tickled Pink, had spotted I was a blogger and liked my blogging style. I was sent a surprise extra free costume to review, a kids black Morphsuit for son1. This item currently retails at £11.99 compared to an RRP of £16.99 and is available in both kids and adult sizes plus a range of colours.

Tickled Pink Black Morphsuit

Wow, looks really effective and is well-made too. Although I wasn’t too sure about the prominent “Morphsuits” branding across the bottom. You can see through the material although your vision is impaired. And apparently you can drink through the material, but we didn’t test this out.

Tickled Pink morphsuit

Tickled Pink Black Morphsuit

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a £15 voucher for one lucky winner to spend at Tickled Pink. A great prize. What would you choose to spend it on?

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear your favourite fancy dress costumes.

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

A Visit to Bateman’s – Rudyard Kipling’s home

We spent our October half term holiday in a static caravan in Sussex. Apart from one day, the weather was fantastic, so we got out for plenty of trips. One day we visited Bateman’s, the former home of Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, now owned by The National Trust.

The gardens were full of beautiful Autumn colour and the boys enjoyed taking part in the spooky Halloween trail. My best bit of Autumn is going for lovely Autumnal walks and seeing the trees in their colourful Autumn glory. Even the flowers were still colourful to add to my pleasure, as captured in my photograph.


Beautiful Autumn colours

The spooky trail was well thought out. When you found each clue, there were different challenges for older and younger children as to what to draw on their spooky picture. So son1 did the older version whilst son2 did the younger version. And great for learning map reading skills too. They both got a medal at the end of the trail.Bateman's

We also did a whistlestop tour round the inside of the house and mill. Had to be quick as son1 refused to go inside.  No I don’t know why he wouldn’t. And the weather was glorious – end of October and we were able to sit outside the tearoom for lunch. A nice browse round the shop too and I couldn’t resist buying some cheap pear windfalls, which I stewed for dessert that evening. A very basic pudding but tasty as I hadn’t bothered equipping the caravan kitchen with anything like flour. Pear trees weren’t the only crop as I spotted some chillis in a greenhouse.

And I loved how each bench outside had a pocket at each end containing a different laminated fact sheet. From one I rediscovered a poem of Kipling’s that I probably hadn’t heard since I was a child and read it to my boys. This was “I keep six honest serving men”and you may read it here.

I would love to hear what is your best bit of Autumn?

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Mammsaurus HDYGG

(originally linked up with Mammasaurus HDYGG, which is no longer active)

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.

Halloween Sticker Activities book review and giveaway

Son2 couldn’t understand why I was giving him a Halloween book in September, bless him. However having just received a Halloween Sticker Activities book free from Little Tiger Press, I needed his help in reviewing it. This was really fast dispatch. I received the package in less than 48hrs.

Halloween Sticker Activities

He was happy to oblige and soon was merrily peeling off the stickers from the two double pages and sticking them mostly onto the appropriate pages. The book is also full of fun puzzles and colouring.

Halloween Sticker Activities

Halloween Sticker Activities

This book retails at £4.99 and will provide hours of fun. You may purchase it online directly from the publisher Little Tiger Press who are a children’s book publishing company. As well as this book, they have a couple of other Halloween titles out this year. Five Little Ghosts, a board book for age 1-5 at £5.99 and I Want to be a Witch  for age 3-6 at £6.99.

Son 2 shares his thoughts about Halloween and the book on a short video.

What do you like best about Halloween?

In summary son2 loved this book and enjoyed creating his video review, although he did really want his big brother on the video too. I explained to him that the book was aimed at children age 3-6 and that son1 was too old. Although given half a chance, I’m sure he would have joined in.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a copy of the Halloween Sticker Activities book courtesy of Little Tiger Press to three lucky winners.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Family Fever

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

Halloween pumpkin fun

We were on holiday this year for Halloween so it felt a bit different to usual.  We bought a pumpkin and were very thrifty with it.  The seeds were scooped out and toasted.  The flesh was made into pumpkin soup, served with the toasted seeds, (recipes below).  And I’m not very good at carving, so the pumpkin was made into a simple jack o lantern.

My pumpkin

My pumpkin

The children haven’t been trick or treating yet, as this is the first year that son2 has really been old enough.  But I didn’t think this was the time to commence, with us being in a city where we knew nobody. And particularly with son1’s blood counts being very low, I would prefer him indoors in the warm, as a chill could lead to an infection which could lead to another hospital stay.

Pumpkin holds pumpkin!

Pumpkin holds pumpkin!

We put the pumpkin outside the front door, but I warned the children that we might not get any trick or treaters calling, as we were staying in a gated mews of only 6 properties and I hadn’t seen any sign of other kids.  And I didn’t think it particularly likely that anyone would come from off the street as a closed gate is rather off-putting.  The kids dressed up and we had taken one of the Halloween window decorations that I reviewed earlier this month with us, so I hung that up at the window.  I was glad that I had kept their expectations low, as we didn’t get any callers.

Scary Halloween faces

Scary Halloween faces

The boys were a little disappointed, but they got to enjoy lots of sweets that we had ready in our treats bowl.

Here are my recipes. Rather rough and ready, as I didn’t have anything to measure the ingredients with, so all done by guesswork. Also no blender. But a very tasty result. And I would usually use olive oil rather than butter, but didn’t have any.

Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 2 children)

flesh of 1 small pumpkin
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
approx 3/4 litre vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1 knob of butter
75ml single cream


Deseed the pumpkin and reserve the seeds.
Chop the pumpkin flesh into small pieces.
Peel and chop the potato and onion.
Heat the butter in a large pan.
Add the onion and soften.
Add the stock, potato and pumpkin.
Bring to the boil, then simmer until soft enough to mash.
Season with salt and pepper.
Mash (in the absence of a blender).
Add the cream and heat through.
Serve with an additional swirl of cream and some toasted pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin soup

Yummy Pumpkin soup

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Scoop out the pumpkin seeds.
Wash through a sieve.
Bring a pan of water to the boil.
Add seeds and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile heat oven to 200 deg C.
Put knob of butter in roasting tray.
Heat in oven for couple of minutes.
Spread seeds in tray, coating in melted butter.
Toast for 5-10 minutes until starting to go brown and crunchy.
Serve whole. (Some people prefer to remove husk at this stage but it is edible).

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Toasted pumpkin seeds

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Spooky Fruit Blogger Competition

AlexandAlexa are running a competition for bloggers.  They are asking you to create a modern take on a traditional Jack O’Lantern, historically made from pumpkins, beets or turnips. Grab something juicy from your fruit bowl and use it to create a spooky fruit carving of your own to share on your blog.

Well not easy to carve something small like a grape or strawberry, so I decided to use a melon for my fruit carving.  And we enjoyed eating the melon too.  Just a shame that the competition closes a week before Halloween, as my melon lantern won’t last long enough.  But never mind, I’ll just have to make a pumpkin one too.

This post is an entry to the AlexandAlexa Spooky Fruit Blogger Competition.