> The Beesley Buzz

Book review: The Skeleton Cupboard, by Tanya Byron

Review by Richard Beesley.
When Tanya Byron (yes, the real Professor Tanya Byron, the well-known clinical psychologist you've seen on the TV) was 15 years old, her grandmother was brutally murdered by a heroin addict. That horrific experience led Byron to try to understand why someone could act in that way, and what it was that made them tick.

In this book, Byron fills six chapters with powerful stories based on her years of training - six placements, each six months long, each in different challenging environments. Whilst the patients themselves have been fictionalised to protect their identities, Byron is remarkably honest and open about how she felt and acted throughout. The stories are gripping, taut, fascinating. I certainly could not do what she does, nor coped as well as her with the harrowing tales she faced. But despite the struggles and difficulties, and frequent loss of confidence in her own abilities, she continued, she learned and she moved forwards, helping many patients in a kind, caring and compassionate way.

One thing this book strikes home is how small the gap is between 'sane' and 'mad'. A wrong choice, a lack of support, a difficult situation and we could be sitting on the opposite side of the psychologist's desk. Not everyone can be cured, not everyone wants to be. But despite working in the field for 25 years, Byron herself says "Nothing has changed. We don't like mental illness - we don't want it in ourselves because it frightens us... We expect people to be mentally ill in ways that we can accept."

This is a fascinating and hugely interesting book. The stories aren't always pretty, but the book has been brilliantly written. Highly recommended.

The Skeleton Cupboard, by Tanya Byron is published by Pan Macmillan and is available from their website.

Disclosure: Pan Macmillan sent me this book to keep for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

Kids in the Kitchen: Chocolate Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

After receiving some of the items he chose with his Silver Mushroom voucher, D was keen to put them to good use. I adore this cake cooling rack he chose so he decided to make some chocolate cupcakes so he could use his new cooling rack.

He picked a recipe from his 'The Great British Bake Off Great Book of Baking' and got started. I love seeing his independence in the kitchen nowadays. I hardly need to supervise him as his confidence has just grown and grown.

Often we find that chocolate cake tends to go dry when we make it but this was deliciously moist. I'm wondering whether it is because this recipe uses oil instead of butter/marg? and also includes a fair bit of milk too? We didn't have sunflower oil as the recipe required so used groundnut oil instead.

The cake mixture turns out really runny and I was dubious as to how well it would rise as it only needed one egg. But they turned out brilliantly. Albeit a little messy to scoop into the cake cases.

Instead of making the butter chocolate frosting in the book, we made a cream cheese chocolate frosting. I didn't keep a note of exact quantities but it was something like this:
a 250g pack of cream cheese
a few tablespoons of butter
a tsp of vanilla extract
several tablespoons of cocoa powder
even more tablespoons of icing sugar (probably several cups)

Mixed well using a hand mixer until combined and thickened up.

We could resist waiting until the cupcakes had totally cooled so ended up icing them and eating them quickly so the icing wasn't quite a firm as it could have been. Then finally finished with some sprinkles on top.

Linking up with Kids in the Kitchen:

blogbadge photo badge_zpsf0b88074.jpg

Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch!

Following on from Lurpak's Freestyle Food promotion last month, this month they are offering a free lunch to help shake up people's existing food routines. They'll be serving a refreshingly exciting new range of top freestyle sandwiches and crostini style canap├ęs to hungry lunchers absolutely FREE of charge.
So if you are in London over the next week or so, do check it out. Here are the dates and venues...

Lurpak Foodtruck event dates and venues:

· 17 July 2015 at Chiswick Business Park
· 21 July 2015 at One New Change
· 22 July 2015 at Spitalfields Market
· 23 July 2015 at Potters Fields

Happy lunching!
All information regarding Lurpak Foodtruck dates and venues has been provided by Lurpak's representatives and is correct to the best of our knowledge at time of publishing. All images courtesy of Lurpak.


Lavender Photoshoot

A friend gave us this dress for Miss T and although it is plain white and simple, it just looks stunning on her.

 When she picked some lavender - the contrast of the lilac colour against her white dress looked lovely so I grabbed the camera to snap a few pics.
Soon her foot was hurting due to her JIA, so we put a chair outside. But it wasn't long before she was smiling again. My brave and lovely girl!


Two Frazzled Friends #TuscanyNominate

Tuscany Now are a specialist travel company specialising in letting villas in the stunning region of Tuscany. They are running a blogger competition entitled 'nominate to appreciate' where you can show someone just how much you appreciate them in a blogpost for a chance to win a weekend break in Tuscany in October (which happens to be my birthday month!)

The obvious choice would be my dear husband who puts up with so much and does so much for us all. Despite his fear of needles, he's really stepped up to the mark and has been trained by the nurse to give Miss T her weekly methotrexate injections.

But sadly the reality is that we'd never get anyone to look after the kids for a whole weekend for us to be whisked away to Tuscany, so instead I'm going to nominate one of my closest friends, Caroline, who is equally deserving of a surprise treat.

And I reckon it would be a real surprise for her because although we have many things in common, the online world is not one of them. Whilst I spend my days blogging and on facebook, twitter and Instagram, she once asked me exactly what a blog was and whether it was the same thing as facebook.  So she may not ever even read this!

In many ways that element of our friendship reminds me of the set up at Tuscany Now. With a brilliant online presence in the form of a fantastic website where you can browse their selection of suberb villas, find out about the region of Tuscany and let them know your specific requirements to get tailored advice. Yet they also have oodles of on the ground knowledge that comes from first hand experience making them true experts - you can speak to them one to one on the phone or even in person at their London based offices. A perfect combination.

There are so many reasons I have for nominating Caroline that it would take several blogposts to cover everything, so instead I'm going to focus on a few memorable things that have happened over the past 12 years where Caroline has just shone as the amazing true friend that she is.

Firstly she understands. She really understands what life is like for me. We both have boys (who were born just 6 months apart ) who can be very, how can we put this,...'challenging'.

Individually each of them is really hard work, but together they really are double trouble. I think anyone else would have given up by now, but our friendship is so important to us that we keep on meeting up despite knowing we will have a challenging day.

A case in point is one of the hardest days I have ever had with J. We'd arranged to go on an organised educational fungi hunt with Caroline and her kids. And both boys were being incredibly uncooperative that day. J struggled a lot and her son was extremely vocal about how much he hated fungi shouting it out loud for the entire group to hear followed on by telling them about the fungi he had growing on his foot with his fungal toe infection.

Thankfully we both laugh about it now but it was a very hard day at the time.

When we were homeschooling J and D, Caroline was one of the few people who realised just how full-on homeschooling can be as I didn't get a break from the kids throughout the week. I remember her meeting us at the park whilst her kids were at school when I was heavily pregnant with Miss T to run around and play with J and D at a time when I was unable to.

When postnatal depression struck after Miss T was born, Caroline was one of very few people I could speak to because I knew she had been there and she understood. I would text her when I was having a difficult day and she would have the most wonderful words of wisdom for me that would get me through the day. I have a lot to thank her for.

But most of all she deserves this because she's a mum. A busy, frazzled mum, like me. Who rarely gets anytime for herself and when she does, she uses that time to help others. A mum who runs around after her kids non-stop without complaining. A mum who at times just wants to scream and tear her hair out but just smiles, keeps calm and carries on.

Image created on http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/
So this is where the dream begins. Tuscany has long been on my bucket list of top places to visit. In fact, I've had this Tuscany inspired pinterest board sat on my pinterest account for at least a year or more I reckon.

Follow Rebecca's board Tuscany inspiration on Pinterest.

We'd spend a couple of days away from it all (and more importantly away from the kids!) enjoying the views of the Tuscan countryside, and seeing the must-see places that this beautiful region of Italy boasts.

Of course the leaning tower of Pisa is a must. And whilst there is absolutely tons to do in Tuscany from visiting the iconic Duomo to the Basilica di Santa Croce, I have a feeling that there is magic to be spotted everywhere you look around you whether it be picturesque views of rustic Italian farmhouses in luscious green fields or the peachy terracotta streets and alleys with vintage bicycles leaning against walls.

I imagine that it really is one of those places where the reality matches, exceeds even, the picture postcard perfection that I visualise in my mind when I think of Tuscany.

We'd return from wandering the pretty streets of Florence, seeing a few of the must-see sights, tasting the authenticity of pasta the way it should be done, and we'll feel refreshed and relaxed and ready to face whatever the kids may throw at us.

Now there's one thing missing from this blogpost. We've been good friends for 12 years. We meet up regularly. But rarely get a chance to stop and sit still. So in all those 12 years, it turns out that we are always kept so busy running around after our kids whenever we meet up, that we have NEVER had the opportunity to get a photo of us. So if we did get to Tuscany, I promise there would be a blogpost to follow packed with selfies of us with all the sights of Tuscany as our backdrop.

So with the absence of a photo of me and my friend, thankfully Tuscany Now came to the rescue by providing a couple of stunning photos to use in this blogpost so I'll end with those to get you dreaming about Tuscany as much as I do.
image courtesy of Tuscany Now. Stunning views! 

Image courtesy of Tuscany Now. 
This is my entry into the Tuscany Now 'Nominate to Appreciate' competition to #TuscanyNominate. You can see more details here.


Yoshi's Woolly World on Nintendo Wii U

The boys loved the fabulous Yoshi craft pack that Nintendo sent us recently... but they are completely over the moon with the new Yoshi's Woolly World game on Wii U!

This is the latest in the Yoshi series, and just as in Yoshi's New Island you play the lovable character as he takes on a new adventure.

In this game, everything has been turned to wool - even Yoshi himself - and the evil Kamek has turned some of the Yoshis to yarn balls by unravelling them, and stolen them - hiding them around the various worlds.

Miss T loved the woolly Amiibo, but it was eventually rescued to join the game.

We asked J to write a review...

In Yoshi's Woolly World you have to complete levels and rescue the other Yoshis. You have to stop Kamek and defeat the bad guys. You have yarn balls instead of eggs, and everything is made of wool. 

There are gems instead of coins, and you can also use power badges such as: clear the course, make all the yarn balls big, powered-up ground pound and many more. 

Poochy is also in the game and he can help you get to secret areas. You can switch between mellow mode and classic mode. In mellow mode you have wings, whereas in classic mode you don't.

You can use yarn Yoshi Amiibos or if you use a different Amiibo your Yoshi becomes a Yoshi version of that character. If you get all the pieces of a yarn Yoshi in a level then you can re-make him and can choose to play as that Yoshi. You can also play in two player mode.

 My favourite Yoshi's are: Burt the Yoshi and Moo-moo Yoshi. I think this game is awesome!

So there you have it - J, the head gamer in the family, says it is awesome.

You can find out more about the game and see a trailer for it here and you can read about our Yoshi craft adventures here.

Thanks Nintendo for sending us a download code for Yoshi's Woolly World!