halloween

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Halloween and some Vampires

And, relax. That's right. Halloween is over for another year. October was busy with the constant discussions over the 'perfect' costume, figuring out where to trick-or-treat and trying to find where we put last year's decorations. We had a few hiccups this week, including Dubz having an asthma flare-up. This left me barely prepared for Halloween and having to cancel a few plans today. But we were able to get the kids their costumes this morning and sneak in a bit of trick-or-treating this afternoon. And I have managed to eat quite a few mini chocolate bars this evening while the kids slept. Result!

Hope you all had a happy, and chocolate-filled, Halloween!

Halloween and some Vampires Halloween and some Vampires

 

OneDad3Girls

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Howloween at Chessington

My kids love Chessington World of Adventures. And luckily we only live about 20 minutes away. It is a great theme park, plus the zoo and Sea Life centre make it a full day out. So we were thrilled to be invited to a preview evening of Howloween last week at Chessington. Besides all the cool pumpkins dotted about, there are two special Halloween attractions - Trick or Treat Wood and Curse of the Lost Tomb.

Trick or Treat Wood is lovely. You take one of two paths - trick or treat. The paths are filled with fairies and goblins and it felt quite magical in the dark. The trick path made Moozles give a yelp. But she loved the treat path. As for Curse of the Lost Tomb, this spooky maze is aimed at children eight and over. Moozles is 7 1/2 and insisted she would be fine, and I let her go in against my better judgment (she is known in our family for being a scaredy cat). She did fine until the end (there were tears).

Howloween is on until the 2nd November, and Chessington is open until 8pm until then. This means you can enjoy rides and attractions all day and even when it is dark. But if you're a scaredy cat, you can still enjoy all the fun things that Chessington has to offer.

Rides: Now that Moozles is over 1.20m tall, she can go on most of the rides. Dubz is about 1.0m tall so he can ride about half the rides. Moozles' favourite rides are Dragon's Fury, Scorpion Express and Seastorm. Dubz loves Seastorm, Tuk Tuk Turmoil and Flying Jumbos. Zufari is a ride that is also a safari ride, so you get to see giraffes, zebras and a rhino whilst having a little adventure. If you hop onto the Chessington website, under the theme park listing, you can display the rides by thrill rating. The scarier rides are at the top, so you know which ones to run to or from.

Zoo: There are a plethora of animals, including tigers, gorillas, penguins, monkeys and lemurs. And there are even Californian sea lions, so I wasn't the only Californian there. And though not in the zoo section, there is a petting zoo of farmyard animals.

Sea Life: Besides underwater creatures, you will find a rock pool and feeding sessions. The walkthrough ocean tunnel is great and kids love feeling like they're under the sea.

There is so much to do at Chessington, so don't feel bad if you don't do everything in just one day (it's a good excuse to go back). Or if you stay at the Chessington resort hotels, you can visit over two days. We had so much fun at Howloween at Chessington. We're looking forward to another visit again soon!

Howloween at Chessington Howloween at Chessington Howloween at Chessington Howloween at Chessington Howloween at Chessington Howloween at Chessington Howloween at Chessington Howloween at Chessington Howloween at ChessingtonHowloween at Chessington Howloween at Chessington Howloween at ChessingtonHowloween at ChessingtonHowloween at Chessington Howloween at ChessingtonHowloween at Chessington

 

 

We were invited to a sneak preview of Howloween and to spend a further day at Chessington for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

 

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Halloween Costume Ideas

Ooh, look at those scary ghosts. Don't worry, it's just my children dressed up for Halloween last year. And in outfits that only cost £2 each to put together. Yup, that's right.  Only £2. And as I love putting together easy, and often cheap, costumes, I thought I would share some of them with you.

Spooky Ghosts - I went to Poundland and bought cheap plastic ghost tops (£1) and ghost deely boppers/headbands (£1). Dubz wore one of Moozles' old white dresses and Moozles wore an old white pillow case and tights. That's it. Super cute scary.

Pippi Longstocking - this costume is perfect for Halloween or World Book Day. And it cost nothing. I put Moozles in two old dresses (the top dress is shorter so looks like a pinafore). She's wearing stripey tights, and on one leg has stripey knee-high socks. I drew freckles on with brown eyeliner. And of course, the pièce de résistance was the coat hanger in Moozles' plaits/braids.

Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween Costume IdeasQueen of Hearts - Another relatively easy costume. Moozles had a witch costume from the previous Halloween. We cut out a heart-shape from card and Moozles coloured it in and we stuck it to the front of the dress with a safety pin. Add a crown and a heart with some red face paint, and we had the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. This costume would also work for World Book Day.

Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween Costume IdeasSome of our other costumes have been outfits that have worked for fancy dress fun at home and at parties. Spanish senorita, Batgirl, a dragon and Darth Vader amongst many others. These are all costumes that will get used time and again. Halloween in the UK is more about looking scary or spooky. But in the USA, it is just about dressing up. Don't feel like you have to limit your child's costume. Just dress up and have fun.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Costume IdeasHalloween Costume Ideas

 

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Jack Skellington Cupcakes

My six-year old daughter, Moozles, is beyond excited at the prospect of Halloween. So this weekend we put up some decorations and did some baking. I have recently renewed my relationship with Pinterest. And after a browse, Moozles decided that these Jack Skellington cupcakes were what she wanted. There is obviously not much instruction there, so I thought I would share what we did.

Whenever I ask what kind of cake we should make, everyone asks for chocolate. So, I make my Husband's favourite chocolate cake recipe (if I make chocolate cake for kids, I use a more kid-friendly recipe). Since my family members are chocoholics, they can handle this fudgey cake. This cake is easy to make, and easier to decorate - perfect for baking with kids.

Chocolatey Fudge Cake
175g self-raising flour
280g caster sugar
100g butter (room temperature)
3 large free-range eggs
50ml whole milk (I use Lactofree)
40g cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven 160C (fan-assisted)/190C. 
Mix all the ingredients, apart from 
the last three. In a separate bowl, 
blend the cocoa powder and the boiling 
water, then add to the rest of the mixture. 
Add the baking powder and mix.

This can be baked as 12-15 cupcakes or in two 8-inch cake pans. 
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool in the pan before icing.


Buttercream Icing
180 icing sugar
90g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix half the icing sugar with the rest of the ingredients. 
Once that is blended, add the rest of the icing sugar. 
I use a hand blender for icing. 
I use a tea towel to cover the bowl so that my kitchen 
isn't covered in icing sugar. Spread  the icing onto the cupcakes.


To decorate the cupcakes:
You could use black gel food colouring to make the eyes, nose and mouth.
I happened to have leftover Renshaw   ready to roll icing, from Lakeland. 
I cut it up into bits and let Moozles add them to her cupcakes. 
The beauty of these cupcakes is that  they do not need to look perfect.

Jack Skellington CupcakesJack Skellington CupcakesJack Skellington CupcakesIMG_7653Jack Skellington CupcakesJack Skellington CupcakesJack Skellington CupcakesJack Skellington CupcakesJack Skellington Cupcakes

 

 

 

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Halloween went well. Mg daughter, Moozles, went to a schoolfriend's house then trick-or-treating (six five-year old girls losing their minds with anticipation--talk about scary). Then we got home in time to trick-or-treat on our neighbouring streets with Moozles and her brother. We didn't let Dubz have any candy since he is only 17-months old--he just loved getting to walk around at night. He is quite independent, so we didn't take the stroller/buggy and he had a fab time wandering around.

This made me think how kids love going out after dark. We are normally quite strict about a 7pm/7.30pm bedtime at our house. What do other people do? Do you let your kids stay up at weekends, vacations or school holidays? Maybe I should be more relaxed? Apart from an occasional wedding or family party, my daughter hasn't stayed up past 8pm very often.

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Halloween Survival Tips
My first 10 Halloweens in London were quite uneventful. In fact, we only had one trick-or-treater. And as we were not expecting him, we did not have any candy. But last year we moved to a very Halloween-friendly area of South West London. My then-four-year old went trick-or-treating for the first time. My father-in-law stayed home to pass out candy. Unfortunately, we did not get many trick-or-treaters. I did not know the rules then. But I do now.
 
1. If you want trick-or-treaters, you must have some kind of Halloween decoration in front of your house, on your window or window ledge. If you do not, trick-or-treaters will not knock or ring. Any little decoration or pumpkin will do. In America, you just need to keep your front porch/door light on.
 
2. No matter how warm it is the week before Halloween, the temperature drops by 5C on Halloween. So make sure you can layer clothes underneath your child's outfit because most children do not want to wear a coat over their costume.
 
3. As an avid on-line shopper, I sometimes forget that there are some shops which you have to go to in person. Pound shops and grocery stores usually sell decent decorations and costumes for a low price.
 
4. Many children in the UK like to dress up a bit scary for Halloween. From what I have seen, kids here prefer to be witches, ghosts, devils and monsters. In America, people dress up as everything under the sun.
 
5. In America, the clocks go back the Sunday after Halloween. In Europe it is the Sunday before. This means it is dark by 5pm. Trick-or-treaters begin at around 5.30pm. By 7pm, most people have run out of candy so don't bother.
 
6. Bring an umbrella. Enough said.
 
7. You don't get the candy hoard in the UK that you do in America. I remember using pillow cases when I went trick-or-treating as a child. Here you can get away with a small holder, as in the pumpkin basket in the bottom photo. You can get one for £1 at Poundland.
 
Happy All Hallows' Eve!
Halloween Survival Tips Halloween Survival Tips Halloween Survival Tips

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How Do You Like Them Pumpkins

A few days ago, I posted about my want of getting a pumpkin from an actual pumpkin patch. After extensive internet research, I found the closest thing to a pumpkin patch within a 30-45 minute drive of Southwest London. Yesterday afternoon we went to Crockford Bridge Farm near Weybridge in Surrey.

How Do You Like Them Pumpkins

Not surprisingly, I heard several American accents at Crockford. I obviously wasn't the only American looking for a piece of home. I couldn't even find a pumpkin in central London 11 years ago and now there's a pumpkin patch not too far away. Amazing. Crockford even had a few shelves in their farm shop dedicated to American groceries.

Dubz enjoyed running around crazily, Moozles enjoyed the playground. I searched for the 'right' pumpkin. To my husband's annoyance, I can never just buy something. I have to make sure it is the 'best one'. But in the end, I did manage to find the best pumpkin. I think this may be an American thing as my British girlfriends seem a lot more relaxed about their purchases. Can anyone confirm or deny? 

Anyway, we had a fab day. And we will be turning our visit to Crockford Bridge Farm into an annual Halloween tradition. Do you have any Halloween traditions?

How Do You Like Them Pumpkins How Do You Like Them Pumpkins

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I was doing my usual in bed/needing to get up but don't feel like it perusal of Facebook, and most of my American friends have posted pictures of their weekend trips to the pumpkin patch. For those of you not from America, we don't buy our pumpkins from the supermarket or the fruiterer. We go to a pumpkin patch, which is basically a big field where they grow pumpkins. Sometimes they have little rides for the kids. But pumpkin patches aren't just for families. Single people, couples, friends, most people get their pumpkins from them. I can't explain it, but it's fun. 

We moved last year, and though we are still in Southwest London, we are bordering on Surrey. I think this may be the year we can find a sort of pumpkin patch. I'm sure there are a few places in Surrey that have masses of pumpkins to choose from. I'd really like to go look at a bunch of pumpkins, pick one or two out then come home and carve it. It is what I did with my parents, and I would like to do this with my children.

Is anyone else planning to get pumpkins to carve for Halloween? Does anybody know where I can find a pumpkin patch-type place in Surrey, not too far from London? If there is face-painting, my five-year old will be really sold on the idea.

Check out these American celebs at the pumpkin patch. Looks pretty fun, no?

Photo credit: PopSugar website