> The Beesley Buzz: January 2015

Siblings - January 2015

There was one linky last year that I intended to join in with every month and somehow never managed to get around to it. This year I was determined it was going to be different but once again I've missed the linking up bit with the linky but am determined to get the January Siblings post up tonight whilst it is still technically January.

We really struggle to get photos of all three children together so I am going to really try to make the effort to at least get a pic once a month of them. We could really do with joining in with the 'Me and Mine' linky too as photos of the whole family are even rarer. It actually gets embarrassing about how many months of photos we have to search back through to find a pic of all 5 of us together.

But at least here we are going to start with the 3 kids together...oh and my photos aren't particularly beautiful or 'arty' but just getting the three of them together vaguely looking in the right direction of the camera feels quite an achievement so I'll be happy with that as a starting point for January.

They are proudly showing off their new bears from Build-A-Bear Workshop. After being invited to visit Build-A-Bear Workshop just before Christmas last year , they desperately wanted to go back so they saved up their pocket money and Christmas money and we visited the Build-A-Bear Workshop situated in the Hamleys store in London. It was a lot busier there but still a very special experience.

Here they are at the start of the process choosing their bears...

Just like the first cuddlies they made at Build-A-Bear workshop, these 3 new additions to the family have also become firm favourites. Miss T adores her Olaf and sings 'Let it Go' along with him at the top of her voice.

As I missed doing her monthly update this month, I'm just going to mention a couple of the things she is saying...This winter at some point each day she looks out the window and says 'it's getting darker and darker'.

She will also say 'I've got a great idea' followed by whatever it is she wants to do.

She loves to eat crisps (I know, I know, the other two didn't have any crisps until they were about 5 or 6) and she still has a pretty sweet tooth often asking for 'tudding' (pudding).

For many many months she has looked at our light shade in our bedroom and said 'dog'. Now that she can speak and explain more, she still seems to see a 'dog' in there but we still cannot figure out what she means (as far as we can tell there is no dog anywhere to be seen).

Hopefully I will be a bit more timely in February and link up at Dear Beautiful properly.

dear beautiful

Kick Start the year with Alive! (even with a broken foot)

This was going to be the year that we really got out and about a lot more. We weren't going to let the dreary January weather stop us. We were determined to get this year off to a great start. And then this happened...

After several x-rays and literally hours and hours spent at the hospital, the latest view from the doctors is that Miss T's foot might be broken and so it has been in plaster for the past couple of weeks.

At first I thought it meant all our plans for a bright and energised January were out of the window. I felt especially sad thinking that we wouldn't be able to make use of the fabulous box of outdoor toys to try out that Alive! multi-vitamins and minerals sent us. They also sent a supply of their Children's, Men's and Women's multi-vitamins to try out. Packed with their own special blend of 26 fruits and vegetables and specially formulated for men, women and children (3 years and over), this family of vitamins is being introduced to the UK after proving to be a huge hit in the US.

After taking the Alive! vitamins for a few days, instead of feeling low about Miss T's foot and all our dashed plans and hopes for the start of the year, I actually got a renewed boost of energy to make the most of our situation.

Instead of spending our days moping around indoors, we used the chance to do lots and lots of activities that we would ordinarily struggle to find the time and energy to do.

So out came the shaving foam and toy dinosaurs for messy play.

Musical shakers were made by filling containers with dried pulses and decorating with stickers.

There was cooking to be done...

and train track fun...

Eight year old D who has been taking the chewable Children's vitamins has been extra creative and arty lately.

We even managed to do a spot of indoor gardening, planting some Red Amaranth cress.

And we even found the energy to have a busy weekend in London...exploring Hyde Park

And although we were exhausted by the end of the day, we were still smiling...

Whilst we try to eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg, I struggle to be sure whether me and the kids are getting all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. By using Alive! vitamins, I can feel confident that we are getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals and I love the list of 'superfood' ingredients that they contain including pomegranate, acai berry, blueberry, kale, spinach, broccoli and so on.

And the Alive! range does NOT contain gluten, soya, dairy, yeast, artificial flavourings or colours.

We'd like to say a huge thanks to Alive! for sending us these vitamins to try out and we hope to continue the year feeling energised and motivated!

The Alive! range of vitamins is launching in the UK in February. You can find Alive! from Nature's Way on twitter here.

Linking up with Country kids for our outdoor adventures in Hyde Park and Kids in the Kitchen for the fun the kids had making pizzas. 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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A duck is for life, not just for bathtime

A little rhyme for H&A, to the tune of 'Five little ducks went swimming one day'

Four little ducks from H&A,
Arrived in the post for Miss T one day.
But poor Miss T had her foot in a cast,
and the Doctor had said not to bath.

That's when we learnt an important thing,
About the joy these little ducks could bring.
Miss T could still have lots of fun,
Counting her ducks 4, 3, 2, 1.
She loved their bright colours,
Purple, green, orange and yellow,
As each duck popped up and said 'hello'.
These ducks were great for learning colours, numbers and words...
But there's a lot more of the story to be told.

Four little ducks loved messy play,
It was pasta, pulses and rice one day.
Another time it was shaving foam play,
As they swam in the 'snow' and shouted 'hooray'.

These ducks loved to cook with a quack, quack, quack,
They made cookies, and cakes and even flapjacks.
Even though Miss T couldn't have a bath,
We washed the ducks with bubbles and giggled and laughed.

We hope, H&A, that you liked our rhyme,
To show that a duck is for life and not just bathtime!

Due to a foot injury Miss T has had her foot in plaster for the past couple of weeks, but the plaster should be off next week and then she will be back to enjoying proper bathtimes with her new Squirting Ducks from H&A as having a bath is one of her all time favourite activities. These colourful ducks are suitable for all ages, they squirt water and as you can see they are lots of fun both in and out the bath. 

The H&A Bathtime Buddies Squirting ducks did come to the rescue as they helped bring lots of smiles to Miss T when we've been washing her hair whilst she hasn't been able to have a proper bath. 

Thank you H&A for cheering up Miss T's day, everyday, whilst her foot has been poorly. This is our entry in the hope of becoming one of your Tots 100 H&A brand ambassadors as we'd love to get the opportunity to show just how much Miss T loves her bathtimes throughout the year. 

Book review: Mobile Library, by David Whitehouse

Review by Richard Beesley

It is unusual to have a book where the first chapter tells you what happens, where the beginning shows you the end. And what an ending Mobile Library delivers! The whole book that follows gives the rest of the story and the hugely impressive build up to that finale.

Bobby Nusku is twelve years old. He has had a difficult childhood, with his parents separated and his uncaring father with whom he lives more interested in his drink and his new partner than anything Bobby could offer. Bobby is without hope, both at home and school. Bullied, oppressed and struggling.

But then he meets Val and Rosa and his life changes. Completely. Reading books in the mobile library Val cleans, he begins to dream of new adventure, new opportunity and new life. As troubles build for Val and Rosa, the mobile library becomes more than merely a sanctuary and becomes central to their adventure. In Val and her daughter, Bobby finds true friends, finds hope and finds people who truly want to be with him.

In this book, David Whitehouse has provided an amazing narrative. An exciting plot, full of twists and turns, and believable characters who develop and mature. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and loved the way other stories and tales that Bobby reads are woven into this one. Moving, stunning and perfectly paced, this is definitely one to read.

I also learned something from this book...There's no such thing as an ending.

Mobile Library, by David Whitehouse 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.

GIVEAWAY and review: Valentine Cake from Baker Days

After 15 years of marriage, I figure we must be doing something right, but when it comes to Valentine's Day we often let it pass by without celebrating. It's tricky finding a time to go out for a romantic meal with three kids in tow, and a weekend away is out of the question as we know it would just prove too tricky getting childcare organised for the kids.

But sometimes there are little gestures that mean a lot and this year Baker Days came to the rescue with their range of Valentine's Cakes. Not only is there a big range of designs to choose from, but they can also be personalised too.

The decision...
I chose the 'My Valentine' Cake for Richard in Letterbox size. The Letterbox size cake is a 5" cake (around 3-4 portions) and as the name suggests is just the perfect size to fit through the letterbox when it arrives.

This has huge advantages as you don't need someone to be home when it arrives.

I was really pleased with the design I chose as it looked really stylish. There were so many to chose from though that I was definitely tempted by the Olaf-style snowman cake, and the Bee design 'Meant to Bee' cake.

I had seen the Baker Days letterbox cakes online in the past and had made the assumption that it was only this letterbox size of cake that they specialised in, but how wrong I was! They have a range of sizes to choose from ranging from a cupcake (perfect for kids parties), right through to a large size with 40-55 portions. They even do bespoke orders e.g. for a corporate event.

You can also choose from 6 'flavours' including gluten free and dairy free. And of course, there's plenty of choice when it comes to the occasion. Whether you are celebrating a birthday, saying sorry, or thank you, or congratulations. A new job, a new baby, passing your driving test and many many other special occasions. The perfect cake design can be found on Baker Days.

And if you want to make it extra personalised, there is even a 'design your own' option where you get to upload your own text and photo.

The verdict....
We were wowed by the fact that it really does come packaged to fit through the letterbox and you get a very cute cake tin with it.

The cakes stay fresh for 14 days and you can even order for next day delivery.

We've been totally won over by these cakes as they make a great alternative to sending someone flowers as you don't need to worry whether they will be home to receive them. We love the fact they can be personalised too, making them the perfect thoughtful gift for someone.

The taste...
And they definitely taste great too! Richard was kind enough to share the cake with us all.
D enjoying a yummy piece of Daddy's cake from Baker Days


You can find out more about Baker Days on facebook, twitter and instagram but in the meantime, Baker Days have offered one of our readers the chance to win a letterbox cake of their own.

Just fill in the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entry is via rafflecopter and will be drawn at random, but Baker Days would love to hear from you on twitter with the #BakerDays hashtag to find out what your best ever Valentine's present has been.

Thank you to Baker Days for sending us this cake for the purposes of review and for providing another cake for the giveaway.

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

My Healthy Recipe: Quinoa and Butternut Squash Stuffed Aubergine

We've really been into eating stuffed aubergine recently. The kids got fed up of me making moussaka and yet I love aubergine so much that we had to find something different to do with it.

During the winter months stuffed aubergine has been a healthy and warming dinnertime meal. The really great thing is that it is a really flexible dish in terms of what you stuff it with! The one we made has got lots of lovely roasted butternut squash in it along with feta and bulgar wheat. But it also works brilliantly with supergrain quinoa or cous cous too.

In fact, I'd highly recommend making it with quinoa because 'Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein - containing all eight of the essential amino acids. It has been recognised by the United Nations as a supercrop for its health benefits: packed with dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest. The facts suggest it is close to a perfect ingredient as you can get.'*

Aubergine is a really healthy vegetarian option as it is really filling and satisfying, works well with different flavours and makes a great alternative to meat.

Here's the recipe.

1 aubergine
half a butternut squash
200g cooked weight of quinoa, cous cous or bulgar wheat
50g feta
half a red onion
1 clove garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
a small handful fresh herbs - e,.g. flat leaf parsley or oregano
rapeseed oil

Optional: if you want some added crunch and added goodness from nuts and seeds, add some chopped walnuts or a small handful of pine nuts or sunflower seeds

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan)
2. Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh. Leave the skin quite thick so it doesn't collapse. Rub with a little rapeseed oil and bake in the oven (cut side down) on a non-stick baking tray for 20 minutes.
3. Peel and dice the butternut squash and dice the aubergine flash. Chop the red onion. Mix these together along with finely chopped garlic and the cumin seeds. Add a little rapeseed oil.
4. Spread out on a baking tray and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes. Prepare the quinoa (or bulgar wheat or cous cous depending on what you have chosen to use) according to pack instructions. 
5. Remove both baking trays from the oven when cooked. Place the aubergine shells to one side to cool a little.
6. To the butternut squash, red onion, and aubergine flesh filling, add the chopped fresh herbs, crumbled feta, cooked quinoa (or bulgar wheat or cous cous) and any nuts or seeds if you wish. Mix together and fill each aubergine shell. Drizzle with a small amount of rapeseed oil and then bake for 20 minutes.
7. Serve with a salad garnish if desired.

*info about quinoa source: Good Food glossary

Book Review: Moone Boy - The Blunder Years

It feels odd launching into the new year without either a round up post for last year, or a new year resolution type of post but I've really enjoyed having some time away from the computer over Christmas and so I'm not planning to do either of those posts.

Spending less time online meant that we had a more relaxed Christmas, more time with the kids, more sleep and catching up on some reading. 

One of the books we've been meaning to read is Moone Boy: The Blunder Years which PanMacmillan kindly sent to the boys to read. Written by Chris O'Dowd (of The IT crowd fame) and screenwriter Nick V Murphy, it certainly promised to be a funny read. 

We used Christmas as an opportunity to read together each evening. I was actually really glad we did read Moone Boy together because a) I got to enjoy the book and laugh along with the kids and b) I was able to alter any of the language that was slightly too 'colourful' for the boys to hear. 

Martin Moone, the main character in the book (well the main non-imaginary but still a fictional character) is 11 years old, and my boys are aged 8 and 10. But because they were out of school being home schooled for 3 years, their ears have been rather sheltered from any bad language at all. Moone boy has a few words that they weren't used to hearing, but certainly nothing that most tweens and teens would be surprised by. Things like 'flipping' 'boobs' 'bumhole' and 'oh balls'. So nothing too horrendous but just enough that I tweaked some of the language as I read with them because they weren't used to it. 

So this book is about a kid called Martin (Martin Moone - hence the name of the book 'Moone boy') who's becoming outnumbered at home with his three sisters picking on him. Time to even things up a little... So in steps an imaginary friend or 'IF' for short. 

After a rather bizarre tree encounter (I won't spoil that bit for you), Martin eventually gets his 'IF' in the shape of Loopy Lou, a crazy, annoying clown-like character. But when he decides Loopy Lou isn't quite the right IF for him, that's when the fun really begins. 

This book is certainly one of the most bizarre books I have read and the authors have very cleverly combined the imaginary with the real. Well not the actual real as it is a fictional book after all but real as in the real stuff of sisters and school and schools bullies and bicycles. 

We found ourselves putting on all sorts of silly voices as we read the book (I'm especially proud of my Loopy Lou voice) and we also came across a whole host of new words too from words like 'realsie' (the real person who has the imaginary friend) to lots of Irish words we'd never heard of, to lots of totally odd and crazy explanations to words we had heard of, for example, "Margaret Thatcher - the eldest and wartiest of the witches from Roald Dahl's wonderful book".  This was another reason I was glad to have read the book with the kids, to explain which of those explanations were true and which were the silly made-up ones. 

Now if this review sounds totally bizarre and crazy, then you'll need to read the book yourself and it'll all make sense. Well as much sense as someone having an imaginary friend and living a part-imaginary, part-real life can make. But it is a great read and will have you laughing and putting on silly voices too. And you'll probably have a tough time figuring out your favourite character because as great as Martin and Loopy Lou are, Martin's other IF is truly brilliant and I couldn't help but totally love Bruce too. 

We were sent this book from PanMacmillan and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thank you PanMacmillan!

Moone Boy: The Blunder Years, written by Chris O'Dowd, is published by PanMacmillan and is available from their website.