Halloween Cup Cakes Recipe

Halloween Cup Cakes Recipe

Halloween cup cakes is one activity that I wrote about in my post, School Holiday Fun: Halloween so I have decided to pass on the recipe and how we made them.

Whilst I used this recipe to make Halloween cup cakes it can be used for a variety of cakes. On this occasion, as seen in the picture, I used it to make 4 large pumpkin and coffin cup cakes! They were delicious and because I filled the mould too high I was able to slice the top off making an extra two cakes; one each for all of us here.

The recipe can be used to make a 7 inch Victoria sponge, approx. 18 small fairy cakes or approx. 6 larger cup cakes.

I used a heat resistant silicone cake mould for the halloween themed cakes which is how they got their fabulous shape

Ingredients

  • 100g softened butter (I used Stork)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g self raising flour (sifted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 45ml (3tbsp) jam - Victoria sponge
  • 60ml (4tbsp) whipped cream - Victoria sponge
  • icing sugar - Victoria sponge

Recipe

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180*C / Gas Mark 4
  • Prepare your tins / cake cases. Using butter and grease proof paper, grease two 17 inch cake tins if making a Victoria sponge, or place your cake cases in a cake tray.
  • Cream butter and sugar together
  • Beat in eggs one at a time
  • Add 15ml (1tbsp) of flour with each egg
  • Gently fold in the remaining flour
  • Transfer equal amounts to your tins or cases and smooth the tops.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well risen and golden (use the point of a knife to test if the cake is cooked through - put the knife through the centre of the cake from the top and pull it out. If it is clean the cake is done, if it comes out with mix on it leave it to cook a little longer)
  • If cooking Victoria sponge leave the cakes for 2-3 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack then strip the grease proof paper of gently.
  • Put cakes in cases straight onto a wire cooling rack.
  • When cold, decorate / sandwich the cakes together with jam and cream and sprinkle on icing sugar.

Decorating Cup Cakes and Fairy Cakes

For the Halloween cup cakes we melted some white cooking chocolate , mixed in some gel food colouring and painted on with small cake decorating brushes - if you don't have these the unused children's small paint brushes will suffice.

Variation

Fancy making a chocolate sponge instead?

Just replace 25g of flour with 25g of sifted cocoa powder. Simples!

Readers Task

So, there is how I made the Halloween cakes and I would now like to set you a challenge...

I would love for you to make cakes using the recipe above and maybe even make your own variations. Send in pictures of your finished creations and they may be used on my Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest pages 🙂

Please note any post on this site may contain affiliate links. If you use the links they will cost you no extra but Mummy's Munchkins will make a small commission.

Pumpkin Picking at Pickwell Farm

I often drive pass strawberry fields in the summer and think we'll go strawberry picking this year and then never get round to it. So this year after realising I had missed strawberry picking again I decided we should have a family day out pumpkin picking later in the year.

***

Fast forward to October, and after reading a blog and doing a quick google search I decided Pickwell Farm, on the outskirts of Southampton, was where we were going to go for our first ever pumkpin picking experience.

We decided that we would go on a weekend so daddy could come too. This of course limited us as to when we could go and we happened to choose the windiest day! The weekend we went was the weekend Storm Brian came to visit but if we’d left it until the following weekend we would have run the risk of there being no pumpkins left, so we ventured out determined not to let the storm dampen our spirits.

Although, not all of us were impressed...

It was blowing a gale, the umbrella blew inside out and the kids were loitering around muddy puddles like they had never seen them before. A huge gust of wind came and that was it, screaming "I want to go home", Phoebe was done! We didn't even have any pumpkins yet! It became very clear to those that passed us that we are most definitely city people. Whilst the hubby and I found all this highly amusing at this point the kids just wanted to get the pumpkins and get going.

On arrival we were offered a wheelbarrow which, being the ‘I can manage’ type person that I am, I nearly declined, much to my husbands despair. So we grabbed a wheelbarrow and off we went.

Trust me, you need the wheelbarrow!!

Not only is great fun for the kids to push and sit in but I definitely would not have managed!

Whilst we were able to fill our wheelbarrow with a variety of perfectly imperfect pumpkins the fields weren’t as full as I had imagined or hoped. This is no reflection on the farm just that next time we need to go sooner. Most of the pumpkins we picked were still on the vine so were nice and fresh and they were all priced at £2 regardless of size. So for a family of our size (6) this is a much more cost effective way to purchase our pumpkins.

We laughed so much while pumpkin picking, we slipped and tripped, got blown all over the place, the children were fussing about getting their hands dirty, I struggled with the wheelbarrow and our youngest just didn't want to be there. It is safe to say we were 100% novices!

Once we had picked our pumpkins we had a little walk around the farm and came across corn fields which the children had great fun getting lost in.

 

The farm also has a lovely farm shop full of fresh produce, it is here where you pay for your pumpkins after you have washed the mud off them in the pails of water provided.

Overall we had a lovely day out and we will definitely be pumpkin picking again next year...Only now I know to go at the beginning of the season before the pumpkin fields are almost empty. Oh, and I will try to avoid going when we are hit with a storm!

Thanks for a lovely family day Pickwell Farm.

School Holiday Fun: Halloween

Keeping the kids busy during the half term

I love it when the kids are home from school but keeping them entertained can be a mammoth task, this alone leaves some parents longing for the school break to be over with quickly! (Don't worry, we've all thought this at some point).

With this is mind I have listed below 6 Halloween themed activities that have kept my little munchkins entertained. I should point out though, trying to keep them occupied from the minute they wake up to the minute they go to bed is not advisable; you'll be completely worn out two days in and your children will keep expecting more from you. Let them know its ok to be bored sometimes and teach them to find their own fun and keep themselves busy.

Here is what we have been up to

  1. Pumpkin Picking

This is something we have never done before, I didn't even go as child so we decided to make our way to Pickwell Farm and see what the fuss is all about. Whilst Pumpkin Picking at Pickwell Farm one thing was for sure, it became very clear to passers by that our children are city kids! Still, we had a great time and lots of giggles...well some of us!

2. Pumpkin Carving

This goes hand in hand with picking the pumpkins. We decided not to carve the ones we had just picked straight away as it was still a good week and a half until Halloween and they would have gone mouldy in that time. We all agreed that we would wait until the following weekend which also means it can be a daddy activity (phew). However, during the week we visited my grandparents and whilst there my auntie and my young cousins arrived with six small pumpkins.

So all the children designed their own pumpkin faces and got to work. Here are the finished items...

3. Bat Making

At the beginning of the week we made bats. An easy and effective arty crafty activity. All that was needed was black paint, black tissue paper, white card and white paper. As a variation you could make spiders.

4. Chocolate Wands

So this one didn't turn out exactly as I would have liked, mainly because I couldn't get the right coloured sprinkles in the shop and had left it too late to order anything online. Nevertheless, this quick and easy make was a fun Halloween themed activity.

As you can see by the picture - Orange and silver sprinkles would have been much more appropriate! Ah well at least we know they look good for Christmas...although not sure what kind of wand you would have at Christmas?!

5. Halloween Cup Cakes

These were delicious! I like to make my cakes from scratch and this was no exception. I had every intention of the whole task being carried out with the kids but they just weren't interested in the making part as much as they were the decorating! Once the mixture was made I poured it into a heat resistant silicone cake mould; I had a coffin mould and a pumpkin mould. Once cooked and cooled instead of using icing we smothered them in white chocolate that we had dyed with food colouring...the kids LOVED this part. Ok, I did too!

6. Castle Building

I hear you...this is totally not Halloween related but hey we can do other stuff during the October half term!

Whilst we were out failing to find orange and silver sprinkles for our chocolate wand, the children saw a build and colour your own cardboard castle and practically begged me for it. As well as the castle there was a fairy house, shop front and an igloo; I am not ready for Christmas related items so the igloo was a no go, the fairies were too girly for the boys and the shop front didn't have enough for each of them to claim some of it as their own. So what with the castle being the strongest contender for causing less arguments that's what I settled on.  We all agreed that each of them had their own side to colour in as they see fit and everyone is happy...except its now taking up my dining room!

We've had lots of fun this week, I never look forward to the kids going back to school, despite the incessant sibling rivalry and as usual their time off has flown by. So now I guess I better get planning for the Christmas break!

“I Find Pregnancy Fascinating…If I Could Do It Again I would”.

Not a day goes by where I don't look at my children and count my lucky stars. I completely acknowledge how blessed and how lucky I am that I have beautiful, healthy children. Never do I take this amazing gift of motherhood for granted. Being a mum was one of the biggest, if not the biggest dream I had as a child. I thoroughly enjoyed pregnancy and I thoroughly enjoy being a mum, but after being pregnant and caring for babies for 5 years how do you just stop? How do you just not do it anymore? How do you accept that your babies are grown and you wont be having anymore?

For those of you that follow me you will be aware that I have four children (9,7,5 and 4). Pregnancy was a joy for me, I have always said I could do it again and again. Of course I had to deal with feeling sick from time to time (thankfully I didn't suffer with morning sickness), occasional back pain, hips playing up, stretch marks, swollen ankles (my ankles were huge) and I had heart burn with my last baby but that was all. That's all pretty standard pregnancy stuff. I didn't have any complications.

I find pregnancy absolutely fascinating! Our body creates a whole human being in just 40 weeks...what is there not to marvel at? and if I could do it all again I would, but I can't.

After Baby No 4 came along my husband and I decided we weren't going to have anymore. The practicalities and logistics of having a 5th child doesn't bare thinking about; we would need a bigger house, bigger car, more money etc. And anyway after just having had a baby the thought of having yet another was far from my mind. The decision to have no more was 100% a joint decision and we had a lengthy discussion about just how final the change was that he would be making to his body. Only now I feel like we may have acted too hastily.

My writing of this post comes as I saw the UK's largest family, The Radford Family, announce the arrival of baby No 20. Yes I did get that right, 20!

I have been following The Radford Family on and off since they first made an appearance on a TV show called 16 Kids and Counting! and I absolutely love them. They work hard running their own bakery business to support their family. I am completely in awe.

Whilst 20 children is a bit excessive by anyone's standards it bought it all back to me how much I wanted a big family. To some that is exactly what I've got but to me I feel a bit empty like there is room for more.

Whilst I know my husband sometimes feels the same way I do I also believe it is easier for him to shrug it off. Whereas I find myself ruminating about how I didn't do beautiful pregnancy photos, or the cute baby photoshoots, or cake bashing on their first birthdays, or the framed hand and foot casts.

Then there's the knowing that I won't ever have a Moses basket at the side of my bed again, or skin to skin contact with a newborn during the wee hours of the morning, or will I smell the newborn baby smell again.

It seems to me that us mums spend our time in a catch 22 situation. We forever encourage our babies to develop and grow and succeed but the moment they move onto the next stage we find ourselves longing for our babies back. It seems we have to learn to let go of them much earlier than I anticipated.

It's almost as if it's grief I feel. Like I've lost a part of my life that I will never get back or experience again. Friends and family would joke calling me a baby making machine but I loved that! That was exactly what I was and I completely and utterly enjoyed it. That was all I knew from when I was 19 years old. Now I don't even have babies; they are children that don't even look back when they run through the school gates and my littlun waves happily good bye as I drop her at pre-school.

I blinked and they were grown! My youngest is the last one left in pre-school and I for one am most definitely NOT looking forward to her last day there. When the day does come round I would have been going to that nursery for almost 9 years. 9 years!! That's a huge chunk of your life over. Just like that. Done.

None of these emotions get discussed with you at any of your meetings during and after your pregnancy. No one warns you that you may feel this way.

However, it's no good dwelling on what I don't have. Now don't get me wrong I adore my children more than words can say and I am so incredibly grateful for what I have and I do feel a little selfish and greedy complaining about not having more. So with that in mind I'm going to continue watching with pride as my babies grow more and more independent, while I continue to learn to look at what I do have with gratitude and fully appreciate my children as opposed to being miserable about what I haven't got.

I’m curious to know how other mums feel, is it just me? I appear to be the odd one out amongst my family and friends; they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind when I talk of wanting more children. So if you do get me or if what I have said resonates, or if you would just like to get in touch or share your story, please do 🙂

Lost Learning Time

The other night, my daughter came to me with four books in her hands and asked if she could read them to me. It was 7:30pm, just before her bed time and she had to get up early for school the next morning; therefore, I had to say no in order for her to get her much needed sleep. I had to say NO to my little girl learning; I had to say NO to the ‘baby’ of the class, the one ‘who won’t catch up’ with some of her peers due to her age; I had to say NO to the young school girl who wants to read, the one who ‘isn’t quite where she needs to be’, so that she could go to bed & get some sleep ready for the next school day...

The next school day where she will be given an allocated reading slot, where her reading will be informally assessed, most likely not with her teacher and at a time when she isn’t focused but instead is still thinking about the math class she just had or wondering what’s for lunch; in an environment where there are constant distractions, not just for the reader but for the listener also; distractions from the daily hustle and bustle of the school; distractions from the few children that don’t want to learn and whom can be destructive; background noise and other teachers politely interrupting to ask the TA that’s with her something that cannot wait 5 minutes...

Don't get me wrong reading is something that happens ALL the time naturally - cereal boxes, road signs, magazines, sub-titles on films and so on, so her skills are always being developed, but this type of reading is a far cry from losing yourself in a book, albeit the riveting tales of Biff & Chip that 6 year olds read!

Was the fact I told my daughter she couldn’t read to me when it was beautifully quiet at home, when she was focused and raring to go, when it was a ‘want’ not a ‘requirement’ and when she was in the right mindset, a learning opportunity missed or was getting her off to bed ready for school the next day the right thing to do?

I LOVE education and love watching children learn and grow but I cannot help but think we are getting it wrong in schools. There are without doubt fantastic schools and even better teachers but I feel the education system has started failing our children. (I say ‘started’ loosely as I feel this is a huge ongoing problem that stems back to my grandparents days as pupils in the mainstream system, when the Butler Act was in play, along with the tripartite system which had an aim to provide parity of esteem (Holborn, 2008) except there’s evidence to suggest the aim wasn’t met, but I digress)!

During my time volunteering in a local school I was given the opportunity to mark the pupil’s spellings. I should point out I was only there 1 day a week and was there the same day each week. However, being given this opportunity was a huge eye opener for me. There were many children who were not getting full marks - 15/15 not even 10/15 so I started to question why…

Each week the pupils, aged 7/8, are given an A4 sheet of paper with 15 spellings down the left and five columns to the right which they are to practise and complete at home. Then there is a spellings test every Thursday. These spellings are marked and the next lot handed out.

It was whilst marking books, I realised that on the day I was volunteering there had been minimal work and focus on spellings during class time, which led me to wonder if the children had the chance to revisit the more difficult words that they got wrong – I was told “no; there is not enough time to keep going back there are too many words they have to learn by the year”. My problem with this is that they are not learning. They were not even being told which words they had got wrong – just that they had got 6/10 for example. Sure there are TA’s who work with those who are ‘behind’ but the focus seemed to be on the statistic not the learning for the child.

See, this for me is not the fault of the teachers’ it’s what is expected of them that is the issue, because of this the children are expected at ages as young as 4 to do homework. Which brings me back to my first point; they are exhausted after school, they just want to relax and why shouldn’t they. Then when they have de-stressed, are in the comfort of their own home, are in peaceful mindset and wanting to learn again, its bedtime…therefore passing up valuable learning time.

What the answer is I am not sure so for now may the cycle continue…

(Holborn, 2008. Sociology Themes & Perspectives - 7th Edition. 7 ed. s.l.:Harper Collins.)

World Mental Health Day

So today, 10th October, is World Mental Health Day. Not many people are aware of this day nor are many people very aware about mental health.

I could go on and on about this topic as it’s something close to my heart but I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

Post-natal depression and anxiety is something I have first hand experience in. I suffered with post-natal after my second born and I am an anxiety sufferer - have been seen my teenage years when I used to have panic attacks.

There is such a huge taboo around these subjects when there shouldn’t be.

Not when something as simple as talking can help. Does help. Will help.

And those who haven’t suffered and who don’t really understand just need to be there, need to listen, need to care.

Talking, opening up, admitting you feel a certain way helps. It changed my life.

It can change yours too.

Autumnal Sun Catcher

Autumn Leaf Sun Catcher

I'm sharing a fun and easy autumnal craft activity with you today, one I've not done before but one that I'll be sure to do again.

These autumn leaf suncatchers are lovely as they are suitable for children of all ages, making a great activity to welcome the new season and they really bring an autumnal feel into the house, as well as offering the chance to get outside to explore.

(Please note this post contains affiliate links)

What you will need:
  1. Paper plates
  2. Sticky back plastic
  3. Scissors
  4. Paints (in autumn colours)
  5. Leaves
  6. Hole punch
  7. String
  8. Sticky tape / blue tack (or just something that will hold it up)
How:

We started by painting the plates. ALL the children can do this from babies through to older children. Make sure you use autumnal colours - browns, greens, yellows, oranges, reds etc

Then I left them to dry. It is during this time that you can get out and explore your surroundings whilst collecting autumn leaves. My children and I have been collecting them for a little while so I already had some.

Once dry you'll need to cut out the centre of the plate. The younger ones will definitely need help with this but the older ones may like to give it a try.

Next you'll need to cut a circle out of the sticky back plastic. It'll need to be bigger than the hole in the plate. So to ensure it was I cut a circle almost as big as the plate. Again older children might like to do this bit themselves too.

Stick the plastic to the back of the plate so when you are looking at the plate on the side you painted it, the the hole is now sticky and it's here where you will stick the leaves.

Finally, using the hole punch, make one hole in the plate and pop the string through in order to hang it.

Purchase some of the items you need for this project here...

Struggling with the household chores? Give this a go…

Struggling with the chores? Try this to get into a routine...

Most of us lead an incredibly busy, fast paced life, running on the hamster wheel just trying to keep up and not fall flat on our face. Throw a couple of kids, or more, into the mix and all of a sudden keeping on top of the chores means we have potential chaos on our hands.

Ok, there's no potential about it, it IS chaos and I've come to the conclusion that those who seem to have it totally under control simply have a great poker face!

Keeping the house in check, for me, is one of the first things that seems to slip when life gets a bit tough. Basic household chores like keeping on top of the laundry and cleaning go on the back burner so that I can sort the 15,000 bits of paper that come home from school (ok a slight exaggeration but you you get my point)! So once I realised we'd missed another kids party and that we were living in a complete shit hole I decided I had to do something to regain order and control in my house!

The answer? Routine!

I put together a really basic tick list to help me organise my housework. When the 'small' things get done I am left with space in my mind (and house) to focus on other things. Like kids parties, school photo day, dinner money etc

I laminated it so it's wipe clean and I use a highlighter to tick off the tasks.

There appears to be lots in that list but you'll probably find you do a lot of that list on autopilot anyway. Plus it needs tweaking as I've come to realise some of it doesn't work - like dusting everyday?! Really, what was I thinking? Who has time for that!!

At first it was a real check box exercise. I did one task, ticked it off and then checked what was next and so on. Now some of it I don't really have to think about as I am back into the swing of doing it. The more I work by the list the more it becomes a routine and I find myself ticking half sheet off in one hit.

This has worked wonders for my household - I still need to work on other areas though as since the summer holidays we haven't managed to get back into the awesome routine we were in before. But nevertheless it's a great start and I'm feeling good. Why not give it a go?

How do you keep on top of stuff? I'd love to hear your stories.

Weather board fun (and its benefits)

I've created a weather board for my childminding setting and I just had to share it. The kids and I love it.

This post contains affiliate links and explains how I made the weather board, along with the learning benefits it has.

Not only is it fun pretending to be the weather man (or woman) from the television but it has so many learning benefits too...

Understanding the world

🍂It teaches the children to be observant and pay attention to their surroundings - the kids in my care will be able to set the weather each day and learn about the seasons, which they will also change when the time calls.

Critical Thinkers

❄️I will occasionally set the board myself, but will set it incorrectly. This will encourage the children to think critically, by not accepting what is in front of them for face value and having the confidence to constructively challenge what has been presented to them.

Physical Development

🌻the moving of the symbols will help develop fine and gross motor skills as well as hand-eye coordination.

Communication and Language

🌞speaking about the symbols will encourage language development - talking about what each symbols is & means. As well as talking about the past, present and future (what the weather was like yesterday, how it is today and what could it be like tomorrow) and talking about what we know about the seasons.

weather symbols for kids

To create this board I simply googled 'weather symbols for kids' and this came up...

I cut out the symbols and discarded the words (although they could be used to enhance learning in other areas such as reading and spelling etc), then I popped them into a laminating pouch and laminated them.

As well as weather symbols I wanted pictures for the seasons too

This is what I found on google images...

Again I cut out what I wanted and laminated it.

Using blue tack I stuck them to my white board and hey presto the weather board is done.

Variations

You don't need a white board screwed to your wall at home to create this. I only have one as I've set this up in my childminding room. Here are some variations I've found on Pinterest...

Such a fun and simple activity with so many educational benefits for young learners without them even realising they are learning! Perfect!