> The Beesley Buzz: June 2016

Why I'm loving Clean Cakes!


I'm very excited to be writing this blogpost because over the past few months it feels like all I seem to be finding time to do is write ups for specific events or reviews we've been asked to do, rather than everything else we do because we want to do. Don't get me wrong, I love the reviews, working with brands is a passion of mine from my pre-kids working days so I do enjoy it.

But it is especially lovely to have done something way out of my comfort zone and be able to make time to write about it here.

In the old days (pre-kids) I used to go to London all the time for various work meetings and it didn't faze me at all. Since then however, we always seem to go as a family so I've not had to find my own way round or figure out exactly where I'm going. So when I saw that the wonderful Henrietta Inman was doing a Clean Cakes summer cookery course that I really really wanted to go to, I had to overcome my fear of heading to London on my own. My first instinct was to put the idea right out of my mind - it wouldn't be practical leaving Richard to come home early from work, look after the three kids whilst I went off to London, and most likely panic and get lost somewhere in London. But I just couldn't get the idea out of my head.

I thought perhaps a friend would like to attend too so we could travel together, but it seems I'm the only one in my circle of friends that is getting into this type of cooking.

So I just had to feel the fear and do it anyway!

It was such a great evening. I didn't take my camera, only my phone, so I didn't get very good quality photos to share, so you'll have to take my word for it that we produced the most amazing looking and tasting cakes - all packed with goodness and wholesome healthy ingredients.

In our small groups of two's and three's we each tackled a recipe that was totally new to us as we muddled through finding ingredients we weren't necessarily familiar with. But with Henrietta on hand with oodles of expertise and knowledge all the desserts turned out beautifully along with a couple of fabulous savoury bakes too.

Having been too daunted by ingredients that at the time were less familiar to me (you can read about when I first came across this book here), I had put off purchasing Henrietta's Clean Cakes recipe book, but this evening was the perfect time to take the plunge and buy it. She kindly signed it to D, our very own brilliant chef, who has a growing collection of cookery books.


My favourite tasting recipe from the cookery evening had been the Blueberry Lemon Mousse cake - a type of alternative to a cheesecake. So I wanted to try to recreate it straight away. I used my lovely new cookery book for the recipe but I have since found this particular recipe online too in case you fancy having a go.

I even explored the garden for inspiration to see what edible flowers I could find to decorate the blueberry mousse cakes with.


I made up the full recipe amount but used smaller cheesecake moulds to make several cakes rather than one big one.

I know I didn't get the texture quite right as mine tasted grittier than the ones we'd had on the cookery course. Perhaps I didn't soak the cashews long enough? Or perhaps I didn't blend them enough? I don't think I whipped the coconut cream sufficiently as I had little lumps of cream left in it. I also didn't have any hemp seeds for the base so used ground flaxseed instead.

But for a first attempt, I was happy with them given my disastrous track record in the kitchen. But I will try again with these to see if I can get them closer to how they are supposed to taste. I'm wondering whether there is an alternative to using dessicated coconut in the base as no-one in my family is keen on it. So I might try something else in the base instead and see if that works out.



I loved meeting like-minded people on the course - some cooked for a living, others for a hobby, some were into healthy eating, whilst others had food allergies and intolerences but we all seemed to really enjoy the course which was relaxed and fun, and we enjoyed a lovely meal together at the end with oodles of delicious clean cakes desserts for afters.

It felt such an honour to meet such a talented and creative chef who had so much expertise with her pastry chef background and so much passion for clean eating and using alternative ingredients. I really hope there are more courses like this to follow as I just want to learn more and more.

In the meantime I'm sure I will be cooking lots from my new Clean Cakes recipe book!


Read more...

New books from Where's Wally? Our review of The Colouring Book and the new activity books

If I'm perfectly honest, I've never been a massive fan of colouring books. Why limit a child's creativity by giving them something to colour when they could have the freedom to draw something of their own? I think having two boys who were never particularly into colouring and could never sit still for long made me think that kids just didn't want to sit still for hours on end to colour a picture. 

But when Miss T came along, we noticed from a very early age that she loved to grab hold of a pen and do 'writing' and 'drawing' - Most children start their mark making on a large scale but Miss T liked to make tiny little marks and circles that from a distance actually did resemble writing. 

Whereas at this age (she's now 4) the boys had shown very little interest in colouring, Miss T really does enjoy colouring books and colouring sheets. But I knew she was too young to fully appreciate the detail needed in the Where's Wally? colouring book. 

D has always been creative, with his flair for cooking, his talent with music and his love of art. He's now 10 so I felt this would be a great activity for him. BUT instead of giving him the Where's Wally Colouring book to review as I normally would for book reviews, I actually introduced it as MY book. 

I've been learning about the Incredible Years research in recent months and one of the foundation stones is built on spending time playing with your child. So I knew immediately this colouring book could become a focus for our 'play' - for some quality one to one time spent with D. 





This colouring book is so detailed and has so much to do that it reminds me of those colouring books aimed at grown-ups. I actually think it would make a fab grown-up's colouring book as it's so engaging and therapeutic just to spend sometime thinking of nothing else but colouring in. With no wrong or right, just totally absorbed in one activity. 
 This book has LOADS of detailed mainly double paged spreads to colour in. There are various themes to the pages, like a dinosaur themed picture, a seaside theme, a bandstand theme and so on. Some of the pages already have a small splash of colour, whilst others are completely black and white. 

A few of the pages are slightly less detailed making them potentially easier to colour in. 




We even dared let young Miss T loose on one of the pages - that's the great thing about this book - it really can be enjoyed by all the family and provides literally hours and hours of fun.




I love this You Tube video from Walker books which shows really well just how all the family can get involved.

And for some of the pages, you really will need all the teamwork help that you can get because of the level of detail!

Do you know what - we had so much fun with the colouring part that we almost forgot to actually look for Wally!!! Of course he is there, hiding in every picture but it is even more tricky to find him in black and white.

And as if this wasn't packed with enough fun to last for hours, there are even checklists at the back of the book to find specific things in each picture.

As I had decided to keep the colouring book as my own, I've decided to give J and D one of the Where's Wally activity books each. There's the Where's Wally? Across Lands Activity Book which I think D will enjoy as it covers some topics and themes that he's been learning about at school and the Where's Wally? In Outer Space Activity Book which will be a great one for J. Again he did a space topic at school a while ago and really got into it so I know he'd enjoy this.

We've got some long journeys coming up in the summer holidays so I've hidden these from them until then. They'll also be great for rainy day fun if we end up stuck indoors due to the great british weather this summer.

Of course I had a sneak peak myself first...each of the activity book has a page of stickers at the back and the books are packed with puzzles, mazes, and matching games.





These books are available from Amazon as follows - as always please double-check current prices when purchasing:

Where's Wally? Across Lands Activity Book Priced at £5.99

Where's Wally? In Outer Space Activity Book Priced at £5.99

Where's Wally?  The Colouring  Book Priced at £5.00

Disclosure: We were sent these books for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 
Read more...

Twelve


My eldest son, J turned 12 last week. How that happened I don't know as I remember his baby days so clearly. He hardly slept as a baby, he was a climber and a runner so had me on my toes the whole time.

He'd asked to go to Laser Tag so we booked his party at Quex Park Laser Combat which is an outdoor laser tag venue which also does paintballing.

We were really impressed with how well organised it was. Once they'd set off to start playing, me and Miss T headed to Jungle Jims, a soft play venue also at Quex Park where we had lunch and a play in both the indoor and outdoor play areas.

They all seemed to really enjoy the laser tag and J was so exhausted he had his first nap since those baby years when it was a struggle to get him to sleep!


D and Miss T had chosen him a Chewbacca play figure for Disney Infinity for his birthday that he was thrilled with.


What a rollercoaster ride the past 12 years have been but we are so proud of you J. We always saw your potential even when others didn't and you've gone on to show your incredible academic abilities getting top scores across the board in your secondary school.

Where others, without any diagnosed difficulties, have struggled to make the transition to secondary school, you have taken it in your stride and really excelled and thrived.

We know life isn't always easy for you but we know you will continue to do your best in everything you do.

Happy Birthday J.
Read more...

Kirby Planet Robobot on Nintendo 3DS


Kirby Planet Robobot is the latest fantastic new game from Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS, featuring the lovable Kirby. As with other games in the Kirby franchise, this will be loved by Kirby fans and Platform fans new to this character.

Our resident gamer, J, explains:
When Kirby's world (Planet Popstar) gets taken over by robots, Kirby has to save it. All the enemies are robot versions of themselves and Kirby uses cool robot outfits to defeat the bosses. The final bosses are Mecha Knight+, President Haltmann and Star Dream. When you defeat Star Dream you use a robot spaceship. 
Image courtesy of Nintendo

Team Kirby Clash is a different mode where you battle bad guys with computer players. There are four different characters you can play as and they each have different stats. My favourite is the Sword Hero because his attacks are really powerful. 

There is another mode called Kirby 3D Rumble where you run around on a 3D area eating the bad guys to get points.

In Kirby Planet Robobot, Kirby's creative copy ability is great. He can scan enemies, then use their skills against them. Stuck somewhere? Use the Wrench to move scenery. Need a new attack mode? Engage the Jet Mode and fly across in shoot-em-up style to defeat the enemy.

Kirby Planet Robobot can be played together by up to four players via Local or Download play for a new type of adventure where you work collaboratively to support each other and defeat the enemies. And to add to the fun, try scanning your favourite amiibos to see what power it gives Kirby - the Mario amiibo gives Kirby the Fire Ability, for example.

We are big fans of Kirby already, and love this new adventure which is sure to join Kirby Triple Deluxe and Kirby and the Rainbox Paintbrush as one of our favourites!

J, again:
I really like this game because when you are a robot you can smash lots of things. I give this game 1000/10!

Kirby: Planet Robobot page is simply huge fun. Find out more from the Nintendo website at https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-3DS/Kirby-Planet-Robobot-1091342.html
Image courtesy of Nintendo

As Nintendo Family Bloggers we were sent a demo version of Kirby Planet Robobot for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own. 

Read more...

FUNtastic ways to #EnjoyMoreWater this summer!


We all know that water is essential. Everyone needs water. Yet Robinson's have found 42% of children say water tastes boring!

We want to prove that water can be fun fun fun. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Summer is the perfect time for splashing about and water play, for picnics and playing. We've been busy having fun with water - both playing with it and staying hydrated with it. Here's our video showing what we've been doing to #EnjoyMoreWater....


We had a great time putting together this video but we've actually got a few more ideas for making water that bit more special with a little help from Robinson's Squash'd.

Make Water Cool

We used Robinson's Squash'd to make some cool flavoured ice lollies. Simply squeeze a tiny bit into lolly moulds, add water and freeze. A fantastic way to stay hydrated this summer.

To give your drinks a pretty and flavourful twist, you can also make some awesome ice cubes using herbs, edible flowers or pieces of fruit. It's a great opportunity to chat to the kids about the importance of only picking edible plants from the garden. Herbs like mint, coriander and basil can be used. Edible flowers like chive flowers, forget-me-nots, and rose petals also work well.

Perfect for Picnics

Miss T's favourite summertime activity is lying on a picnic blanket and watching the clouds in the sky. A great opportunity for learning about how clouds are formed and to use imagination to see what shapes you can see in the clouds. We've spotted imaginary dragons and castles and lions. 

We found Robinsons Squash'd to be the perfect picnic companion as it is such a neat little container that fits so easily in a pocket or picnic basket to stay hydrated all day! 

It's so easy for little hands to use too so the kids can help themselves to drinks without me having to supervise so closely. 

Learning fun with water

After all that cloud watching you can follow up with a fun experiment that shows the water cycle in action. My kids love to hear the amazing fact that pretty much all the water on planet earth is the very same water that's been around since dinosaur times. That's a cool fact! It just goes through the water cycle again and again. 

Using a bowl, a smaller glass to fit in the bowl, some cling film and a pebble you can make your own water cycle experiment to show how evaporation and condensation works. You start with the water in the outside bowl and the idea is that it evaporates, hits the cling film, condenses and then runs down into the glass and you end up with water in the glass which started out empty. 

Pond dipping is another water based activity with huge learning potential. Look out for free organised pond dipping sessions run by local wildlife and conservation trusts near you or print off some insect identifying sheets and head off yourselves to see what you can find. 

Silhouettes and Snow - Water play in many ways! 

Now I'm going to share with you some of my absolute favourite forms of water play. Of course there's the obvious paddling pools and water guns but my real favourites are a little more unusual and will totally blow the kids minds. 

Water Silhouettes

On a hot sunny day, set your hose to the fine mist setting. Then get the kids to lay on the patio. They can make different shapes with their bodies. Then spray a fine mist of water over them. This will cool them off and when they stand up they will see a cool silhouette shape that is left on the floor! 

It soon dries out on a hot day and you can repeat over and over. 

SNOW!!!
Yes I said snow. In summer. Yep. Snow. Whenever we are lucky enough to get a snowy winter, I save a couple of small tubs of it in the freezer and then get it out on the hottest day of the year. It doesn't last long but the short while that the kids can play with it before it melts is a fab sensory experience of the two extremes of hot weather and freezing cold snow. And seeing it out of context makes it all the more special. 


Painting with water
A simple activity that's far less messy than getting the paints out is to get some chunky paintbrushes and buckets of water and 'paint' anywhere the kids wish to in the garden...the patio, the walls of the house, the fences. 

Giant bubbles
Since I discovered that I could make my own giant bubbles, I have loved getting out in the garden and seeing just how big the bubbles will get. The secret ingredient is glycerin. So as well as using water and washing up liquid to make your bubble mixture, add in some glycerin to stop those bubbles bursting before they've grown really big. 

A home made bubble wand can be made using strings and sticks too! 

I hope you can see why we think water is fun to play with and fun to drink too with a little help from Robinsons.

This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons You can find out more about the challenge here. We were lucky enough to be sent some Robinsons Squash'd to try. All opinions are our own. 


Read more...

Eating chocolate and staying healthy



Learning to bake has been a relatively recent discovery for me. It is only in the past couple of years that I've started to get to grips with it and produce cakes and bakes that are edible rather than total disasters. 

I have to admit that I still have my fair share of disasters but getting things to turn out well has been really satisfying - I remember managing to get madeleines to rise as they were supposed to, making chocolate pastry tarts that actually looked pretty and tasted nice, and finally managing to ice cookies properly! I hope you can hear that element of surprise in my voice because it really is a surprise when anything I cook turns out well. 

What I discovered most was how much I enjoyed being in the kitchen and learning to bake. It became my 'therapy'. Once I discovered that a kind of magic happens when you throw together eggs, sugar, butter and flour and end up with cake, it became something I did to escape and relax.

But the more I baked, the bigger my waistline was getting and a couple of months ago I decided enough was enough. I started to eat better but it meant an end to the baking. 

Whilst I'd cut out the cakes and biscuits and refined sugar treats, I still needed a sweet treat to get me through the day. I discovered cacao powder - (which for ages I had assumed was a misspelling of cocoa) and things like cacao nibs. I discovered almond flour and buckwheat flour and that amaranth seeds can be puffed liked tiny popcorn. 

Then the most beautiful cookery book caught my eye in Waitrose. It was called 'Clean Cakes' and had a stunning cover. I had a quick peek inside but the ingredients seemed even stranger than all the unusual stuff I was just getting to grips with. So I put the book down but made a mental note to look up the author and see what I could find out. 

I ended up at Henrietta Inman's website and found a wealth of recipes there which I am hoping to try out. The book went on my birthday list along with The Saffron Tales (my husband gets annoyed if I just buy them when I want them as it leaves nothing for him to give to me for my birthday) but in the meantime I just had to try out the recipe for Homemade chocolate when it popped up on Henrietta's blog. 

I just made a fifth of the quantity and used small plastic moulds that I had saved from packaging (I love keeping packaging to re-use as it can come it very handy like when I made chocolate TARDIS for the kids instead of Easter eggs one year!) 
And I was so pleased when my chocolate set that it turned out so well! 

I used the suggestions in the recipe as inspiration for the flavours using rose petals, chopped pistachio and freeze dried raspberries as one combination. Goji berry, mulberry and pumpkin seeds as another, and finally raisins, hazlenuts and whole almonds as my final flavour. They were all wonderful! 
 
Of course, chocolate is still chocolate and I will need to eat it in moderation (hence making a small batch to begin with) but I can feel the difference it has made by eating 'cleaner' treats like these. My weight has reduced, I have way more energy and don't get the highs and slumps that I used to with all the processed food and refined sugar that I was eating.

I'm so pleased that I have found somewhere to get inspiration for healthier alternatives to sweet treats.
Read more...

A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale Book Review

Paper Rocket is the brand new imprint for young adult fiction from Parragon books. The first title to be published under Paper Rocket is 'A Whole New World: A twisted tale' by Liz Braswell which takes the story of Aladdin and gives it a whole new twist.

I love the concept of this - taking a classic story and giving it a fresh lease of life. It shows that stories can fuel peoples imaginations in endless ways. 

We asked our 11 year old, J to read and review the book. Here's what he had to say:

Jafar takes over the whole city and its up to Aladdin to save the day.

Aladdin the street rat unexpectedly bumps into Princess Jasmine when she escapes from the palace. She doesn't want to get married in an arranged marriage to please her father.

Aladdin then gets put in prison because he met with Princess Jasmine. He meets an old man who leads him to a cave where the magical lamp is. It turns out that the old man is Jafar in disguise. Jafar uses the genie in the lamp to become sultan and to become most powerful sorcerer in the world. Jafar uses his wishes for evil. With Princess Jasmine leading, the street rats are rebelling against Jafar.

Will Jasmine find a way to overthrow Jafar? What will happen to the genie? 


J's review has certainly got me interested in reading it. I did make a start on the book but J being a far speedier reader than me soon overtook me. From the pages that I did read, I was really impressed with the style of writing. Not too advanced for the target age group and yet introducing interesting words and plenty of description to capture the imagination.  

This book is the first in a trilogy of twisted tales and I can't wait to see more from Paper Rocket. 

A Whole New World: A twisted tale is available from Amazon and WHSmith

 Disclosure: We were sent a copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 

Read more...

And the winner is...

We launched a flash giveaway just before the weekend to show our support for Nim's Fruit Crisps which we love so much. They'd made it to the shortlist for the Muddy Stiletto's award for Best Local Producer (Food and Drink category) in Kent.

Voting closed earlier today and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who voted for Nim's as they WON! I saw this on their twitter timeline today...


So without further ado, we also drew and verified the rafflecopter winner of our giveaway and we are delighted to announce that Janet Bagnall won the box of fruit crisps. We've contacted Janet and her Nim's crisps should be on their way soon.

Thanks so much to all who voted and all who entered. It was the first 'flash' giveaway we have run and it was a huge success so a very heartfelt thank you to everyone.


Read more...

Places to visit on a road trip around the UK

Do you ever have something on your to-do list that is on there for so long that it actually becomes embarrassing to get round to doing it. Like those birthday thank you's you never got around to sending and it's been over 6 months since your birthday. That kind of thing.

Well one of mine was to write a compilation post of our road trip around the UK that we did a couple of years back. Yep you read that right, 'years' and I still haven't got around to it. But seeing a post about a road trip on one of my favourite travel blogs 'Hand Luggage Only' finally gave me the push I needed to do it.

So these are links to all our 'diary style' posts we wrote after our summer road trip, all in one place so I can find them again when I wish to. As they were written 'on-the-go' rather than in any organised form afterwards, there is not one post per day but rather a bit of a mish-mash as we went along.


  • A Doctor Who themed day - Visiting the Doctor Who experience in Cardiff and then arriving at West Usk Lighthouse in Newport
  • Our final day of our road trip which was out of this world! - where we met Tim Peake's colleagues from the Space Agency and had an amazing dinner at Heston's Hind's Head in Bray
Thinking back to it, it was tough travelling on the road for so many hours with 3 kids, but the memories we made were SO worth it. There are definitely places I would love to visit again and there are other places truly worthy of a visit which we didn't get around to visiting on this road trip. 

For example, we love Bath and Brighton but we are familiar with both of those places having lived there so they didn't get included in this road trip. 

I've always wanted to visit Scotland but that was just too far to include. I've seen photos of Fingal's caves and REALLY want to go there. 

London is always great to visit but we live pretty close to London so will have plenty of other opportunity's to go there. Some of our top things to do in London are detailed in this blog post. London RIB voyages is a must as seeing London by speedboat is just awesome and we've since visited Madame Tussauds and was really impressed by how good it is these days. 

There are so many beautiful and amazing places right on our doorstep in the UK and we'd definitely love to have another road trip like this again!  
Read more...

WIN a box of Nim's Fruit Crisps in our giveaway!


We were so excited to have been selected as Nimsters by Nim's Fruit Crisps to try out their products. We absolutely ADORE these fruit crisps as they are air dried and have nothing else added to them. I'm sure we will be raving about them often on our blog.

But in more exciting news, Nim's have made it to the shortlist of the Muddly Stilettos Kent Awards in the Local producer (Food and Drink) category. Well done Nim's!

We were so pleased to hear this that we wanted to celebrate by encoouraging everyone to get involved in voting for them and entering this giveaway to win a box of Nim's fruit crisps.

This giveaway is only running for a few days as the voting ends soon so make sure you enter straight away so you don't miss out!

There's one mandatory option of voting and then complete as many of the other options as you wish. If you need any guidance on completing the rafflecopter form there is a great guide on Superlucky here. Giveaway ends 13/6/2016 and T&C's apply (see rafflecopter).


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck!

This competition is listed at:
Free competitions at ThePrizeFinder
SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky
Read more...

Enjoying bedtime stories together with #DisneyBookWeek (and competition info!)


As a child I don't remember books featuring heavily in my childhood. I was a very studious and academic kind of kid, but for whatever reason I don't remember reading much. Perhaps it is because my mum's first language wasn't English so that made things harder. Perhaps we didn't have much spare money to buy books. She was great at telling stories but I just don't remember having many actual books around. Whatever the reason, I am glad that I have grown up loving books. I adore children's books in particular - perhaps to make up for the lack of them in my childhood.

We have tried to make books an important part of our childrens lives. Not by forcing them to read, but instead by sharing books together from a very young age. Even when they were tiny babies, I remember looking at books together as part of their bedtime routine.

Now the boys are older they buy stacks of books from the bookshop and borrow lots of books from the library and there is no stopping them. They read in their beds each night before going to sleep.

Miss T shares a bedtime story with one of us before going to bed. Sometimes the boys read to her which she also loves. Occasionally we see her make a makeshift den and sit in it whilst making up her own words to a book she loves.

Having a story as part of the bedtime routine is a great wind down activity. It's a chance to enjoy a shared experience with your child and will help instill a lifelong love of books.

Disney, together with Parragon books, has launched the Disney Movie Collection of some of the most loved Disney films. As well as absolute classics like Cinderella and Snow White, we were delighted to see that the collection also has some of Disney's newer films like 'Inside Out' and 'Frozen'.

We were sent 'Frozen' and 'The Jungle Book' to read for Disney Book Week which Is running from 23rd May until 12th June 2016.

Like many 4 year old girls, Miss T adores Frozen. She cries at the end of the film despite us reminding her that there is a happy ending but she enjoyed the book without any tears.

I've always been in awe of how Disney manage to fit a whole movie story into a book. It must take a lot of skill and talent to do this. The Disney books are longer than the standard 'picture book' style of book usually aimed at preschool age children. But that is the beauty of these books. They can be enjoyed by younger children with the characters and scenes that kids will recognise from the film and also appeal to older children once they have mastered the art of reading and have become fluent readers.

I loved the covers of the new collection of books. Simple, uncluttered and stylish. They are large hardback books and I can see them becoming real collectors items with parents wanting to build up the collection for their children and kids keeping hold of these books to one day pass down to their own children.

Competition info...
If you head over to Disney right now, you can enter to win a whole set of these gorgeous books. The competition ends on 27th June 2016. There are five fabulous prize bundles to be won. I've entered as I know Miss T would adore this! Good luck!

For more tips on bedtime reading see Parragon books top tips from consultant Geraldine Taylor.


Disclosure: We were sent two books from Disney's movie collection for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own. 
Read more...