Sunday, 10 August 2014

Baking Best Bits: Gluten Free Carrot & Pecan Cake

Good gluten free cakes are hard to come by and are normally way more expensive than others in shops and cafes.
One cake which I still haven't managed to track down a good gluten free version of is carrot cake so I decided to amend a regular recipe and give it a bash using a gluten free blend flour.

I've made this a few times girls and hubby both love it and you'd never know it was gluten free. Think the moistness of the carrot helps.

Here's the recipe for anyone who wants to try:

2 x 23cm cake tins
250g self raising flour (I used Doves Farm Self Raising Mix)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
400g caster sugar
350ml vegetable oil
4 eggs
350g grated carrots (would recommend squeezing out the excess liquid)
120g chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Icing
225g cream cheese
100g margarine/butter softened
450g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pecans for decorating

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas 4.
2. Grease cake tins.
3. In a bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon and sugar.
4. Add the oil and eggs, mixing until blended.
5. Stir in the carrots and nuts.
6. Divide mixture evenly between both tins.
7. Bake for 25-30mins until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
8. Cool on wire racks before removing from tins.
9. To make icing, cream together the butter and cream cheese.
10. Add sugar and cream well.
11. Add the vanilla essence and stir well.
12. Add icing to middle of layers and to the top if you fancy. Also use pecans to decorate (unfortunately I didn't have enough left over this time).

And then enjoy! Plus, carrots are vegetables so this has to be a little good for you, right?!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Review - Animal UV Swim Shirts from The Beach Factory

Being fair skinned myself I am very careful with both my girls in the sun. Usually they are smothered in sun cream (making them even whiter than they normally are!) but at least I know they are protected.
Before going on holiday this year, I was searching for something suitable for the girls to wear...we were off to Majorca so I knew it would definitely be hotter than here! Not hard, to be honest!
I stumbled across The Beach Factory which stock a large range of UV shirts, sun suits and hats.  They offer a wide range for kids and even adults too - I'd definitely consider a sun shirt for me in time for next year's holiday, as my shoulders, back and chest always end up a little pink despite me smothering myself in cream!
I was lucky enough to receive these Animal UV shirts for my girls (currently on sale for £14.95, normally £18) and matching sun hats (normally £13, now £9.95) to review.
I used to think that as tops like this provided such good coverage, that they would be heavy.  These are certainly lightweight but still give confidence that your little one is protected.
They have long sleeves and a high funnel neck, giving as much coverage as possible. There is a handy zip at the back meaning they are easy to slip on and off especially when wet.
When we deviated away from the pool for snacks or drinks, we tended to put the girls in a dry cover up. As a result, these tops tended to be left on the sun loungers for half an hour or so to dry in the sun.  Due to the lightweight fabric,  they dried really quickly.
The hats are made from a thick cotton and have a wide brim...ideal for keeping sun off your little one's necks.
The designs on these are really funky and coordinated well with the tops...the only problem I had was the girls choosing which one they wanted to wear!
Overall, these were a great addition to our suitcase and definitely a summer essential.
I'm hoping the girls don't grow too much so we can dig them out again for our next sunny getaway!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Twinkly Mummy Loves...Summer Essentials

We're on countdown mode to our holiday (1 day to go!) and trying to get organized for some time away can be daunting, time consuming and downright stressful at times!
There's always so much to organize...clothes, toiletries, holiday money, shoes and things to entertain the little ones.
Normally I'm quite an organized person, and despite me having a load of stuff already, I still feel a bit stress and fear I miss something!
So if you're going away any time soon and are struggling to know what to buy, here are a few of my top essential items for taking away this year.

1. Animal UV Swim Shirt & Hats - from £13.00 at The Beach Factory
When we're away I'm always panicking whether I have enough sun cream on the girls, especially when they are playing in the pool. We're all fair skinned, so we really need to be careful we don't get burnt.
These Animal UV Swim Shirts from The Beach Factory are a welcome addition to our suitcase this year - they provide sun protection UPF50+ yet are still nice and light for wearing in the pool.
The hats are in a funky print to match the tops and look to provide good coverage.
The lovely people at The Beach Factory gave us these to try - the girls can't wait to sport them at the pool! Keep an eye out for a review of these after our holiday...

2. Rimmel Sun Shimmer Instant Tan & Gradual Glow - Light Matte - £6.99 from Boots
This is a great product for you to wear on the first day of holiday whilst you wait for some natural colour to develop. It is a light instant tan, which also gradually builds up on your skin - so if you miss a day applying it, you'll still have some lovely colour on your skin.
Again, as I am fair skinned, I need to make sure any fake tan I use is a natural colour. This definitely is and can always be built up if you want something a bit darker.
This doesn't protect against sunburn though, so you still need to ensure you have other sun protection on.

3. Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream - £7.99 from Superdrug
This 8-in-1 cream is light and provides a thin layer of coverage on your skin, evening out any imperfections you may have.
The reason I love this for going away, is that it contains SPF30, meaning that you can switch to this instead of suncream on your face and still be protected - just make sure you get up into your hairline to avoid any red lines!

4. Tangle Teezer Brush - from £10.99 at Boots
Being in an out the pool on holiday means tangled hair and as it dries so quickly in the heat, you want to make sure it's knot free.
We've had a Tangle Teezer brush for a while now and I have to say it is a life saver, especially with both of my girls' hair being curly. It literally glides through wet (or dry) hair and doesn't leave my little ones screaming when we come across a knot. Stress free, handy in size to carry about and it's sparkly so the girls love it.

5. Nautical Bikini Bag - £2 from Primark
This cute bikini bag is from Primark and at just £2 is a total bargain!  Handy for putting your valuables in when heading to the pool or beach so they don't get wet, or for chucking your swimsuit in when heading back to your hotel, it's definitely worth picking a few of these up.  Also loving the fab nautical colours too - can never go wrong with red, white and navy!

Off now to finish packing. To anyone about to jet off, have a fab time! Hoping the weather is lovely :)

Monday, 31 March 2014

Review - Hotel Chocolat Easter Pick Me Up

It's the time of year where all the supermarkets have a tonne of chocolate in, everyone is tired and looking forward to the better weather and what a great way to bring a spring to your step than Hotel Chocolat's Easter Pick Me Up.

The lovely people at Hotel Chocolat sent me this lovely little treat set for us to review. There was a great selection inside...Raspberry Zinger Egglets, Salted Caramel Egglets and White Praline Bunnies.

Normally I'm a praline kinda girl but I really enjoyed both types of was nice to try something a bit different for a change and the raspberry within them was really refreshing.

The girls' favourite were the praline bunnies. They were really rich and of course nutty, which I love!

This set would make a lovely gift for adults and children alike and certainly lifted our spirits on a dull and wet spring day!

This retails at £13 and what makes this even better is that it was completely gluten free. What more could I ask for?!

TGI Fridays Goes Gluten Free

So excited to hear that TGI Fridays will soon be offering gluten free burger buns on their new menu which will be launched over the next few days.

I was lucky enough to sample one of their new buns on my recent visit and have to say it was lovely being able to eat a burger without having to be 'bunless'! I had a French Canadian burger which was delicious.

Looking forward to seeing what their new menu has to offer!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Giveaway - Win a pair of tickets to Country Living Christmas Fair in Glasgow!

It's that time of year again where everyone panics as Christmas fast approaches and you realise you have a list of people to buy presents for, but no idea what to get them (or is that just me?!).

Fear not, as again the Country Living Christmas Fair is making its way to Glasgow.
It's an ideal place for buying lots of unusual gifts, getting decorations to adorn your tree and getting your hands on loads of yummy indulgent treats from local producers.

This year's fair runs from 21st-24th November at SECC, Glasgow.

From workshops with expert demonstrators to the hundreds of exhibitors, it's a great day out to get you into the festive mood.
I went along with a friend last year and we literally spent the whole day there - loads to catch your eye and empty your purse :)

With tickets at only £12 on the door (or £10 in advance) and under 5s going free, it's a fab idea for a family day out.

As a treat to my readers, I have a discount code offering tickets for only £9 quoting COUNTRYWIDE when buying tickets online (tickets must be purchased no later than 1pm the day before you'd like to visit)

This year I also have a pair of tickets to giveaway to one lucky reader.

To enter, all you have to do is tell me by leaving a comment below...What's at the top of your wish list this year from Santa?

Entries can also be made on Twinkly Mummy Loves... page on Facebook here

This competition is open to all UK residents over the age of 18. Tickets will be posted to the winner before the fair, or can be collected if local.  The winner must respond within 48hrs of the winner being announced or the giveaway may be redrawn.

Closing date for this giveaway is Friday 15th November at 7pm.

This competition has now closed.

The winner is Annee McBride! 

*Please note the original winner was MyTurquoiseQueen however she was lucky enough to have been given another pair!

Well done Annee...The tickets will be winging their way to you shortly. Hope you enjoy x

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Review - The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry

We're continually looking for new fun things to do with the girls and had made a promise to ourselves that we would get out and about to see more of the country we live in.
When we saw The Enchanted Forest advertised, it seemed right up our street!

The Enchanted Forest is a multi award winning light and sound show set in Faskally Wood in Pitlochry, Perthshire. It has been running for the past few years and we were lucky enough to go along to this years show, absorb.

The first show starts at 6.30pm - this is the one we opted for, as we weren't sure how tired the girls would be (they're 5 now), so we thought we would err on the side of caution.
At around 6pm, we started to wait outside Fishers Hotel on the main drag within Pitlochry. Included in your ticket price is a return coach transfer to the forest itself - this is so cars with their noisy engines and headlights don't ruin your experience.

There were plenty of stewards on hand at the hotel to direct us into line, out tickets were taken and our hands stamped with a cute little leaf, before we boarded the comfy bus for our short journey.  A nice touch was a short 'Health & Safety' CD which was played - a humorous way to remind everyone not to be silly!

We were the first ones off the bus and were greeted by friendly stewards at the entrance to the forest.  It was still quite light when we got there, however was starting to slowly get darker as we walked in.

On our approach, we got a waft of hot dogs and burgers coming from a discreet stall set further down the path - all very reasonably priced. The lentil soup comes highly recommended :)
The girls also noticed some light up balloons, which gave them something to lead the way when it started to get dark - again well priced at £1.

The forest itself, was very pretty. This year the show is called absorb - with the theme being centred around orbs. The music and lights together, just worked so well. Very mesmerising.  The light and sound show is spectacular and my photos don't seem to do it justice.

As we walked round the paths (which are all lit so you don't fall into the loch!), it started to become dark and we could appreciate the light show even more.
Across the centre of the forest is an illuminated bridge - the girls called this the Fairy Bridge and apparently was their favourite part.

We were informed by one of the stewards that there was a Storytelling Yurt located further round the path, so we headed here to be welcomed into a lovely cosy tent, where we made ourselves comfy and listened to a tall tale of a giant and a hero prince. The girls really enjoyed this little time out before we set on our way again.
Outside the yurt was another small food stall selling hot chocolates, coffees, muffins and even mulled wine. So definitely something to warm your bones :)

Within another 45 mins or so, our girls were getting tired, so we left the forest around 8.30pm (after squeezing in another visit to the Fairy Bridge and catching the Orb show in the middle of the loch)

The bus picked us up right where it had dropped us off and took us back to the hotel, again with a humorous 'de-brief CD' played :)
On arriving back at the hotel, the queue for the buses was enormous - mostly adults at this time of night, however I dare say the buses don't manage to transport as quickly as they're also picking visitors up and bringing them back.
We made the short walk back to the car, and changed into our PJs (well at least the girls did - wish I had done the same!) before we made the 2hr journey home.

Overall, this is a great attraction to visit and at the time of year, when not much else is on (after the summer and before Panto season at Christmas). Its all outdoors, meaning you get lots of lovely fresh air too.

We were lucky enough to receive complimentary tickets to the show, however family ticket prices start at £35 for a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids under 16) and can be purchased on the Enchanted Forest website here.

We'll definitely be returning in the future and look forward to seeing whats on offer next year.


  • Try to find a parking space near the Fishers Hotel, so you don't have too far to walk when you get off the bus.
  • Go nice and early if you have children - it gives plenty of time to wander about the forest before it gets busier.
  • There are only 2 lots of toilets in the forest - one at the entrance, the other at the yurt, so make sure your little ones make a pitstop to avoid any mad running in the dark to prevent an accident!
  • Fishers Hotel also appear to do a meal deal in conjunction with the Enchanted Forest -  £9.95 for adults and half price for kids. We didn't eat here, however noticed this on the welcome board outside the front door.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather - we luckily had it dry but did have wellies with us and can imagine the paths may get a bit muddy if it had to rain.
The Enchanted Forest is running from Friday 4th until Sunday 27th October 2013, so still lots of time to book tickets to go!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Baking Best Bits: Gluten Free Lemon & Rosemary Cake

I have been trying to cut out gluten as much as I can, which has been manageable with bread & pasta, however I am really missing eating cakes (shhh...I'm meant to be on a diet).

I have tried various gluten free cakes before, with the best one I've tasted being Costa's Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie, which is lovely and moist.

So I decided to give making my own cake a bash and saw Nigel Slater doing a Lemon & Thyme cake on TV - his version wasn't gluten free however it did use ground almonds, meaning the cake would stay a bit moister.  I didn't have thyme, so I thought I would substitute with works well with chicken, right?

One of my handy helpers (Lauren), helped to mix the cake ingredients together and we popped it in the oven and crossed our fingers.  It was cooked on a low heat and first impressions were that it was rising well, which is always a good sign!  It smelled absolutely amazing.

After waiting a while for it to cool (we probably managed to hold off for 10 mins - our mouths were watering!), we cut into it and had a slice when it was still warm.  Served with a dollop of extra thick double cream, it was literally to die for!

I have included the recipe below for anyone who wants to try it themselves. I think I may have found my new signature cake :)

Lemon & Rosemary Cake
200g butter (unsalted if possible and at room temperature)
200g golden caster sugar
100g Doves Farm Plain Gluten Free flour (can also subsitute for regular plain flour)
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
100g ground almonds
4 decent sized eggs
1 lemon (zest only)
1 teaspoon rosemary (finely chopped)
For the syrup:
4 tablespoon of sugar
2 large lemons (juice only)
½ teaspoon rosemary (finely chopped)
How to:
Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Line a tin with greaseproof paper.
1. Cream the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy (it recommends doing in a food mixer, however I did this by hand). 
2. In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder then mix with the almonds.
3. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating them in thoroughly each time.
4. Grate the zest from the lemon, mix it with the rosemary and stir into the cake mixture.
5. Gradually mix in the flour, baking powder and almonds.
6. Spoon the cake mixture into the lined tin and bake for 35-45 minutes (I used my fan assist setting which took less time)
7. For the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the juice of the lemons over a medium heat and stir in the rosemary. Boil for 10 minutes until it becomes thicker.
8. As the cake comes from the oven, spike the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup.
I would highly recommend serving this with a dollop of cream, however it also tastes amazing on it's own.
Would love to hear if any of you tried this and what you thought.  I made it for my work colleagues and it went down a storm :)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Review - Palmer's Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Lip Butter

Winter makes my lips horribly dry and I feel I always need to apply lip balms continuously to keep any sort of moisture in them.

So when a friend on Twitter recommended Palmer's Dark Chocolate & Peppermint lip butter, I was keen to try.

The lip butter comes in a handy tube, which oozes out really slowly meaning you don't squirt out more than you need. The butter itself, has an amazing taste - think After Eight mints all squished up - so yummy!

It's very moisturising and as it says on the tube, leaves your lips lovely, soft and glossy.

A great find and very long lasting. I've certainly found a trusty little companion for this winter.

And now that I am on a health kick, it's great to have that little chocolate fix without ruining my diet!

Review - Genius Gluten Free Mince Pies

As you know, I've been trying to cut gluten out of my diet as much as I can, and I've really noticed a difference.

I've tried a few of the gluten free range from Genius (including their tasty afternoon tea in conjunction with the Scotsman Hotel!), so when I heard they had mince pies available for Christmas time, I was excited!

I just love mince pies and how Christmassy they make me feel, so when the lovely people at Genuis sent me a box to try, I couldn't wait.

I had mine warm with a little squirt of cream (you've got to have some cream, right?!) and they were delicious. The pastry was light and the filling was rich and fruity. These are far too easy to eat - I scoffed two in the one go!

I noticed these were also available in both my local Tesco and Asda, but are also available to order online direct from the Genius website, along with the rest of their gluten free range.