> The Beesley Buzz

Smug in September: My Nametags review

For the past few years, whenever the end of the school holidays came round, I'd witness the panic as friends rushed around like headless chickens trying to get everything ready for the first day back to school.

And I'd smile smugly as I didn't have any of that stress. Homeschooling the children meant no dragging kids round shops to buy new uniforms and school shoes, no feeling sad that our summer days of spending time together were over, and no spending hours on end labelling all those items of clothing. 

This year things are different. Both boys are back in school and so just like most other parents I was going to have to face the 'back-to-school' ordeal once September hit. 

But then an email pinged through that meant that maybe, just maybe, some of that back-to-school stress could be reduced. Our friends at Savoo, a brilliant voucher and deals site, asked us whether we'd like to review some name labels from My Nametags

Thinking back to our labelling days, and remembering the fiddly sewing and not faring much better with iron-on labels, I nearly declined. Thinking that My Nametags would be the same old selection of iron-on or sew-in labels, I just couldn't face it. But then I took a quick peek at their website and was mega delighted to read that their colour stickers can just be stuck into clothing and are wash-proof! 

They can also be used in shoes without needing any protective covering too. School or no school, we have always used shoe name stickers because it is incredible just how easily shoes can go missing! However, we have previously bought specific shoe stickers which can work out quite pricey. So you can imagine how pleased we are to find that these stickers do the job brilliantly. So that's where I got started, sticking them into J's new school shoes ready for September. 

Another precious item at high risk of going missing is Hoppy and Patch. We've written about Hoppy and Patch many times before and they are pretty much family members, so they got a My Nametags sticker each on their care label. 

They were also the first to put My Nametags washability to the test...and passed the test! 

Just when you thought things couldn't get better than this, The My Nametags colour stickers are also dishwasher safe, so next up were the drinks beakers. 

Then this afternoon I made a pile of all the polo shirts and school trousers and imagined that it would take the whole afternoon to label them. Yet quite literally minutes later, the job was done! I'm impressed! 

We were kindly provided with a sheet of 56 colour stickers for the purposes of review but these retail at a very reasonable £11.95 with a mere £1 for P&P if you wanted to get some for yourself. Fantastic value! 

With a wide range of icons, backgrounds, fonts and colours, you can truly personalise your labels. We had a play around with a pretty purple design for Miss T (see screenprint below), but then decided upon the bee icon (how could we not with our surname being BEEsley). We thought The 'bubble' border looked like honeycomb as the background design. 

There is plenty of space for the name of your choice. By just sticking to our surname meant that I could use the same set of stickers for all three of the children, making them even better value for money. 

So thanks to Savoo and My Nametags, I have school uniform stress sorted and I can once again feel smug for September! 
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A long overdue Wot So Funee in Wetsuits!

This time of year I have found myself reminiscing a lot about last summer before the summer holidays started. Because the boys were both being homeschooled at the time, it just gave us time to do so many fabulous things.

Once of the best things was getting a few days away in Cornwall last July (yes - a whole year ago - last July - this post really is rather overdue!) We had the most glorious weather and just had an awesome time at Sands Resort and Spa in Cornwall. You can see a little video here that we put together of our holiday snaps.

The weather was so great that we just spent the whole time either in the outdoor pool or at the beach. As Sands hire wetsuits for free, we took the opportunity of using them for our visit to the beach.

After spending a good 45 minutes or so getting the kids kitted out in their wetsuits followed by lots of heaving and squeezing and shoving and pulling to get ourselves squished into our wetsuits, D looks at us up and down and simply states: "You look slim." Then silence.

I'm still not quite sure what he meant by it as I certainly didn't feel or look slim having had to squeeze so tightly into the wetsuit - but I just sense it was his relief that we finally managed to get the wetsuits on.

Linking up to Actually Mummy's Wot So Funee as it was Helen's post about their lovely time at Sands that reminded me to write this one up!


Feeling All-Bran New: My Real Mum Story

I've been doing the 5 day challenge with the fantastic flavours of All-Bran: Golden Crunch, Chocolate Wheats, and Red Berry Crunch and I hope that this post just oozes the energy and enthusiasm I am feeling right now.
I had no idea just how much the digestive system was linked to our wellbeing and the feelgood hormone Serotonin. Here's what All-Bran have to say:
Did you know that 90 to 95 per cent of the ‘happy’ hormone serotonin is made in the gut? A study* of 1,000 UK women found 52 per cent experience digestive complaints, such as bloating or gas, at least once a week. Eating fibre everyday is a simple remedy for happy tums.

I want to fast-forward to just how happy I am feeling right now, but that wouldn't be the full story so just a teeny bit of background before I reveal the 'All-Bran new' me! After all, real mums are honest and sometimes the whole story needs to be told for things to start to make sense.
Last year I found myself in the grip of Post-natal depression. Having never suffered from depression before, and having made the decision a long time ago that I never would (my mum had a long history of depression and I knew I never wanted to end up like that), it came as a real shock and something that I struggled to understand.

What I realise now is that depression is not something that you can just 'snap out of' or decide not to have because a lot of it can be caused by underlying factors, one of which is said to be reduced levels of serotonin. Looking back I believe that is what happened to me. I had days when I felt sluggish, I was tired all the time and I didn't want to go out or meet up with friends. The kids would often find me in tears and that would lead to extra guilt about how my depression was affecting them.

So this really is good news to find that helping to keep my gut happy, can help me feel happy and full of energy too. I regularly suffer from bloating. Sometimes my belly gets so bloated that my waistline size increases by nearly 2 dress sizes.

Since starting the All-Bran 5 day challenge (and continuing it beyond the 5 days as it has worked so well for me), I have noticed a definite reduction in bloating. I am enjoying the variety of flavours, choosing a different one each morning. And the Chocolate Wheats are so yummy that they make a great alternative to a chocolately snack when I'm feeling peckish later in the day.
So now it's time to reveal the All-Bran New Me - Here's what I've been up to with my new found energy and love of life - finally feeling like a real mum and being there for my kids and enjoying having fun with them. Something that was all too lacking last year.

I put together a little video which hopefully explains it all far better than I could in words - enjoy!

My lesson I learnt through all this, is that it is really so important for us mums (and dads) to take care of ourselves to help us be real mums to our children instead of just a shadow of who we are, which is what I felt like in the midst of depression. Sometimes taking a small step in the right direction can make a big difference.
One final point to make which I'm not quite sure is a positive or negative is that the kids seem to LOVE All-Bran too. On the plus side, it's great that they enjoy it and it means that instead of having to have an endless supply of cereal boxes to please each child we can now all stick to All-Bran. But on the negative side, I have to share my All-Bran.

This post is an entry for the Real Mums of All-Bran Linky Challenge, sponsored by Kelloggs. Find out more about the 5 day challenge here

I didn't apply in time to get the free boxes of All-Bran as part of this challenge but bought my own and have been buying it ever since!

*Source for all research findings included in this document: Kellogg’s All-Bran Save Our Stomachs European Research Study (2014) conducted by Edelman Berland. 

Kids in the kitchen - Panko chicken nuggets

Once again Miss T has been busy in the kitchen, helping both mum and dad with the cooking ready to link up with Kids in the Kitchen. In my usual haphazard way of cooking to use up ingedients that need using up, I had a pack of diced chicken and a pack of panko breadcrumbs I had bought out of curiousity so we put them together to make Panko Chicken Nuggets.

After a quick reminder to make sure Miss T remembered not to eat the raw chicken and not to put her hands near her mouth whilst handling raw chicken (after the sausagemeat incident a few weeks ago!) we were ready to start.

So not really a proper recipe today as it is just a case of taking the chicken pieces, dipping in plain flour, then into a beaten egg (mix in a little milk to make the egg stretch further) and then toss into the panko breadcrumbs to coat.

They were then fried in rapeseed oil to start the cooking process, then finished off in the oven at 180C for 15-20 minutes until thoroughly cooked through.

Panko breadcrumbs are a japanese style breadcrumb that is lighter and fluffier so can end up tasting crispier. They turned out really well and are a much healthier option than processed chicken nuggets.

With the rest of the chicken, she helped daddy make a chicken and bacon pasta bake. This little girl just can't get enough of cooking!

Have you entered our current giveaway yet. Details here.
Linking up with Kids in the Kitchen:

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First time felafel recipe

I've always loved felafels. Mum had some Lebanese friends when we were growing up and they made some awesome ones. But I'd never made them before.

I decided to have a go at making my own on the basis that I had some fresh parsley and lemons that needed using up and I had some tinned chickpeas and cannellini beans sitting in the cupboard. So as seems to have become my customary way of trying new recipes I just tried to put together things I had at home and see how it turned out.

1 tin of chickpeas (400g tin with a drained weight of 240g)
1 tin of cannellini beans (400g tin with a drained weight of 240g)
Half a large pack of fresh flat leaf parsley (ie around 50g)
3-4 cloves of garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
Rapeseed oil for frying
Around half a teaspoon of each of the following: ground coriander,ground ginger, black pepper, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, garlic granules.

1. Drain the chickpeas and cannellini beans and rinse in fresh water, then drain.
2. Blitz together the chickpeas and beans in a food processor (I used the chopper attachment of my hand blender and made sure I didn't in small batches so that it didn't overload it). Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Chop the parsley, first removing any large stalks. Again I used the chopper to do this but you could cut with a knife or scissors. Add to the chickpeas and cannellini beans. Finely chop the garlic and add this in too.
4. Squeeze in the lemon juice, then add the spices and seasoning. 
5. Mix well. Then chill the mixture for 30 minutes. 
6. Shape into small balls or patties and fry in rapeseed oil, turning over until golden brown on both sides.

Serve with a side salad and flatbreads.

My felafels turned out a bit soggy. I'm wondering whether there was too much lemon juice perhaps? Or maybe it was because I didn't chill the mixture like I was supposed to. 

I still liked the taste though. I just had to handle them carefully so that they didn't fall apart. Other than the oil for frying them, I reckon they're pretty healthy too.

Sorry the photos don't make them look too appetizing - but they work well with a colourful salad or wrapped in baby gem lettuce leaves for a healthy lunch. 

A few of our favourite Emily Gravett Books

You may well remember from our recent review of Bear and Hare Go Fishing, and our Wonderlands post from a couple of years ago, that we adore Emily Gravett books.

Just the other day we picked up one we hadn't read before from the library, it was Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts. And just like all of Emily Gravett's other books, it was fantastic. We loved how Little Mouse had torn, drawn, ripped and tied all the 'beasts' to make them less scary.
Miss T finds it funny to see that Little Mouse has covered the lions claws with mittens, taped up his mouth and ripped out his roar. 
These books are so cleverly made with real folds, flaps and holes. It reminded me of how we heard from Emily Gravett at the Wonderlands festival about how she actually had to put paper in their pet cage (hamster or mouse I think?) to get it to look right with nibbles and droppings on it!!!

It also reminded me that one of the lovely children's books that PanMacmillan sent us a while back was Again! by Emily Gravett. This is another one which has real holes in it - this time created by a little dragon's fiery breath - to add to the enjoyment.

Miss T enjoyed hearing about a little dragon who just couldn't get enough of his favourite story, asking for it again and again until...

...he ended up in such a rage that he burnt a hole in the book!

Disclosure: PanMacmillan kindly sent us a copy of Again! by Emily Gravett. All opinions are our own.