> The Beesley Buzz: 2017

Gluten-free banana bread and homemade chocolate spread

I have a rapidly growing pile of scraps of paper with scribbled notes about recipes I've made. Tweaks and changes that I want to remember for next time but no organised way of making sense of them.

The best I can do is write up some notes here on the blog so I can refresh my memory the next time I wish to make the recipe. 

Having eventually got around to ordering some flour from Free From Fairy (I only wish I had done it sooner) I was keen to try it out straight away. With bananas not keeping too well in the summer months, banana bread was the perfect choice of recipe.

Ingredients 
200g Free From Fairy Self-Raising flour
Half tsp baking powder (use gluten-free if you need it to be a gluten-free recipe)
1 and a half tsp cinnamon
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
120g apple sauce / Apple purée
Handful nuts


Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180c (160c fan). Grease and line a loaf tin.
2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. The Free From Fairy self raising flour does have raising agents in it, so I wasn't sure if I would need baking powder too hence only using a tiny bit.
3. Mash the bananas and mix with the eggs and apple sauce. I usually use my own homemade applesauce made of boiled and puréed apples. But I had some shop-bought apple sauce I needed to use up which I used on this occasion. 
4. Now mix together the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add in some nuts. I used a handful of chopped walnuts along with a mix of sunflower seeds, linseed, and pumpkin seeds. 
5. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for around 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. I love that no oil/butter is needed in this recipe by using apple sauce instead. Similarly it needs no refined sugar because of the sweetness of the bananas.

Next I made a quick homemade chocolate spread to enjoy with my banana bread. This wasn't measured out but just randomly thrown together:

A spoonful of Hazelnut butter
A dollop of Coconut oil
A sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt
A pinch of Vanilla
A scoop of Cacao powder
A drizzle of Maple syrup
A splash of Hot boiled water
A slurp of Almond milk

Simply mix all those ingredients together well.


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BORN TO BE WILD - GRANDPARENTS REVEALED TO BE THE MOST ADVENTUROUS OF US ALL

When I received the following press release from The National Trust, it really struck a chord as we've always joked about how it's granny who is the most adventurous in our family with the travels she goes on and the things she does.

What it says about gadgets also rings true as we're always keen to get out and about as a family to spend some screen-free time together...Here's their press release and the interesting findings of the research:

To mark the start of the school summer holidays, the National Trust has run research revealing that it is in fact our grandparents generation that is the most wild of all, with three quarters (76%) saying they were far more adventurous and daring in their youth compared to both their children and grandchildren – with half (51%) confessing to have never even seen their grandchildren climb a tree! 

The research also found that:
      Children today spend 57% less time exploring outdoors than their parents and grandparents did – on average just 1 hour 20 mins a day, vs. 2 hours 40 mins (parents) and 3 and a half hours a day (grandparents)
      87% of parents and grandparents said they enjoy seeing the little ones running wild and carefree, with 80% enjoying seeing them playing outdoors away from technology devices
      Nearly half (49%) of grandparents take on the role of childminding more than twice a week to support parents, with this increasing during the school holidays by almost two-thirds of grandparents (61%)


The study signals the start of the National Trust’s ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ initiative – which aims to encourage families to get outdoors and enjoy spending time together.

With 61% of grandparents helping with childcare during school holidays they are the perfect motivators for getting kids to spend more time enjoying nature.
Parents looking for ways to get their kids to spend more time in the great outdoors during the summer holidays need look no further than willing grandparents, keen to spend quality time outside in nature with their grandchildren 
Research by leading conservation charity, the National Trust, reveals grandparents are the key ingredient to helping today’s generation develop a connection with nature. Over three quarters (76%) claim they were far more explorative and daring in their youth compared to both their own children and grandchildren, with a huge majority (92%) saying that they take great enjoyment from teaching their grandchildren about these adventurous activities, such as building a den or flying a kite.
The research also reveals that 4 in 5 (79%) adults believe children today have less freedom to explore and play outdoors, compared to their own childhood. While 75% of grandparents said climbing trees was one of their favourite childhood memories, half (51%) said their grandchildren had not experienced this activity.
Nearly half (49%) of grandparents take on the role of childminding more than twice a week to support parents with this increasing during the school holidays by almost two-thirds of grandparents (61%). A whopping 9 in 10 (92%) said that when they do spend time with their grandchildren, they are keen to actively encourage them to take part in explorative outdoor play rather coop up indoors.    
The research polled 1,000 grandparents and parents for the charity as part of its 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ initiative –  which aims to encourage families to get outdoors and enjoy spending time together – looks at the importance of outdoor family play and how this builds a stronger appreciation and connection to nature.
National Trust research also found:
·         Children today spend 57% less time exploring outdoors than their parents and grandparents did – on average just 1 hour 20 mins a day, vs. 2 hours 40 mins (parents) and 3 and a half hours a day (grandparents)
·         87% of parents and grandparents said they enjoy seeing their offspring running wild and carefree, with 80% taking pleasure from seeing them playing outdoors away from technology devices

·         In addition, 95% of parents and grandparents agree that it is important for children to connect with nature so that they can build a relationship with the great outdoors and help future generations care for and protect it 

“Grandparents today are spending more and more time with their grandchildren in the roles of childminder and carer, and consequently getting to share real ‘quality time’ with them. And the research shows that one of the things they are sharing is a love of nature and the great outdoors, something that harks back to their own happy childhood memories. Learning to appreciate Nature at a young, impressionable age makes it much more likely that children will grow up to pass on their love of outdoor experiences to future generations. As a grandmother of seven, I have seen the effects on my grandchildren myself: they are never happier then when running free in the fresh air and sunshine, exploring and asking questions about the natural world around them.”
The National Trust, which is funded entirely through the support of the public who visit, join and volunteer, is looking to inspire the next generation of children to plant their roots and kick-start a lifelong love affair with nature through its ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ initiative.
National Trust Ranger Kate Jones, adds:

“This summer, we want to inspire children, parents and grandparents to get outdoors and develop their relationship with nature together as a family. With so many fantastic ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ events taking place at Trust locations across the country there’s no better time to go wild and explore the great outdoors taking inspiration from our challenges. We know that sharing these outdoor experiences with family and friends from a young age, helps to foster a stronger and more ingrained connection to nature, which we hope will be passed on for generations to come.”




For more information on the National Trust’s ’50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ campaign, head to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/50things or search #50things. 

Images courtesy of the National Trust. 

Disclosure: The National Trust are kindly sending us a visitor pass in return for sharing this information.

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Aquabeads Cars Character Set Review

In case you're not familiar with Aquabeads, they are little beads that you make various designs with either using a picture-template as a guide or you can freestyle and make your own designs straight onto the Layout Tray. The beads are then squirted with water and left to dry to magically stick them together. They're a great way for kids to get creative without too much mess!

There are loads of different playsets available - In the past we've reviewed a Star Wars themed Aquabeads set and a Finding Nemo Aquabeads set. Miss T also has an Aquabeads beginners studio which had a good selection of beads and items she needed to get started with her Aquabeads adventures.

Aquabeads sent us the Aquabeads Cars Character set to review. This set contains all the beads you need to make Lightning McQueen and fellow Cars characters Mater, Sally, Luigi and Guido. The Template sheets are included as well as a layout tray and sprayer.

It's worth noting that this set doesn't contain an Aquabeads 'pen' (which is sold separately). We had a pen from Miss T's beginners studio to use and the Dory Playset also came with a pen included. It is definitely worth getting hold of one and the Aquabeads Bead Pen can be found on Amazon or at other good toy retailers. It just makes placing the beads onto the right places on the template a little less fiddly.

The other big difference between this Cars Character set and previous Aquabeads sets was that a bead palette to store beads was not included. I have to admit that I was actually relieved about this as once you've accumulated a few Aquabeads sets, you end up with too many bead palettes! So we used Miss T's beginners set to empty the little packs of Cars beads into and used them from there.

Whilst Miss T was excited to receive this set to review, she often prefers to go off piste and make her own random designs so it was D that actually got excited about setting to work to create Lightning McQueen from the Aquabeads.

We seem to have finally got the hang of squirting just the right amount of water onto them that after an hour or so, it dried enough to turn over and leave to dry a little longer. On previous occasions when we've squirted too much water, the beads haven't stuck together so well and when we haven't used enough water, we've also had the same problem.

The great thing about Aquabeads is that if your creation doesn't stick together first time, you can just respray with water and try and try again until it does. If it starts to curl as it dries, then once dry simply place it under a book or heavy object to flatten it out. Each set comes with full instructions to explain this.

The back of the box always lists the exact contents so you know exactly what is in each playset and spare beads are also available to purchase separately too.

All in all a very successful set for kids who are into Cars or who enjoy craft sets.

You can buy the Aquabeads Cars Character Set from Amazon here:



We are delighted to be official Aquabeaders!

Disclosure: As official Aquabeaders, we were sent the Cars Character Set for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own. This post contains an Affiliate link which means that at no cost to you, I may receive a small payment if you buy something from a site I link to. I only recommend and link to products, services and companies that I am happy to promote.

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BIC KIDS review and COMPETITION info!

We've been sent BIC Kids products to put to the test and as Miss T and D love to draw and colour - I knew they'd be the perfect testers!


We were sent the following:

  • BIC KIDS Evolution ecolutions colouring pencils - Amazingly these are wood-free but you really wouldn't know it as they look and feel like colouring pencils but are brilliantly easy to sharpen. No more pesky splinters from wooden pencils either! 

When J went back to school after our homeschooling years, I remember the teachers being really impressed with how much academic learning he'd achieved whilst at home but were rather surprised that he was unable to sharpen pencils.

Whilst part of that is down to his Aspergers and his struggles with manual dexterity, part of the problem also lay with just how fiddly regular colouring pencils can be to sharpen. So just to save time and make life easier, I would always be the one who had to sharpen pencils.

Thankfully with these ones from BIC, Miss T will be able to learn to do her own sharpening from a young age!



  • BIC KIDS Kid Couleur felt pens -  Their Ultra-washable credentials gives these felt-pens massive mummy appeal whilst the bright colours and brilliance in ease of use made them a hit with the kids. 
When Miss T was younger, I remember being in tears over one of her gorgeous outfits being totally ruined by felt-pens used at the childrens centre. They just didn't wash out. Thankfully these BIC KIDS ones were super easy to wipe off the table and wash off hands and clothes. Phew!




  • BIC KIDS Plastidecor Crayons - My kids have generally outgrown crayons. They think of them as too 'babyish'. However, these crayons looked like 'posh' crayons - none of the paper you have to peel away to get to the crayon. They can also be sharpened and don't break as easily - so no more annoying stubby bits of crayon. Longer and brighter looking than regular crayons these ones really did appeal to Miss T. She decided to use ALL of the BIC KIDS products in her creation!


With D's stationery fetish, he regularly loves to do complicated colouring pictures as well as doodling and drawing pictures of his own so he loves to have a good supply of colouring equipment that works well.

Often colouring pens and pencils can be disappointing - just lacking brightness and vividness in their colours or having to press really hard to get a decent amount of colour. Not so with these BIC KIDS products. D really enjoyed using them.


Miss T knew she wanted to design a dinosaur so she got to work straight away with the outline.


Then she started to add oodles of colour...

A bit of grass and a splash of sky along with a sunshine were her finishing touches. 

She was incredibly proud of her creation - I love it at this age when there is no 'wrong' or 'right' to their creativity. No limits to their imaginations. I always think us grown-ups can learn a thing or two from this attitude.

As D loves to doodle, he used the BIC KIDS Evolution Ecolutions pencils to doodle an image which he then added colour too. I'm not exactly sure what they are - but they look like pretty cool characters to me!



Here's a little video to hear directly from the kids just how much they loved the BIC KIDS range of products:




COMPETITION INFO:
Over on Mumsnet, BIC is running a fabulous competition with a totally awesome prize! If your child is aged 5-11 and dreams of having their artwork seen by all, then this is the comp for you. 10 winners (as judged by a panel of experts) will have their artwork created into a billboard poster and displayed on a billboard in a town near them. What a unique and amazing prize!

ENTER THE COMPETITION HERE.

It closes on 6th August 2017 and you need to be registered with mumsnet to take part. The full details can be found here.

Disclosure: 
"I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher as a token of thanks for this post."


 Thank You BIC KIDS and Mumsnet for sending us the BIC KIDS products to try!!!
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Miss T's 5th birthday - Great Ormond Street, Pescatori and The LEGO store

After writing up J's belated birthday post the other day, I realised I was even further behind with writing up Miss T's birthday from way back in April! I did write up her Miffy cake blogpost but not what she got up to on her actual birthday...(Warning...this is a photo-heavy post!)

Peter Pan Statue at GOSH

One of the downsides about having Juvenile Arthritis is hospital appointments - and lots of them. I recently wrote about how a week in the life of a child with JIA can look and it's often filled with appointments with various doctors, eye consultants, physiotherapists, and more.


Miss T's podiatry appointment at Great Ormond Street hospital came through for the same day as her birthday. As appointments there are in such high demand, you take what you're given and even though it meant paying a small fortune for peak train tickets as the appointment was in the morning, and spending part of her birthday in the hospital, we knew we had to go rather than risk a big delay in trying to change the appointment. Her podiatry appointment was actually due in January so it was already later than scheduled.



As it fell in the Easter holidays, we decided we would all go to London and make a day of it. We booked a meal at Pescatori for lunch (which was a wonderful prize I'd won with SquareMeal last year but we hadn't found a time we could take it until now). Pescatori is an Italian seafood restaurant in London's Fitztrovia district.





This obviously isn't a review post so I'll let the photos speak for themselves...in short the food, service and ambience was fabulous at Pescatori. It's also worth mentioning that even if you're not a big seafood fan, then there are enough other amazing choices on the menu to have a wonderful meal.

Olive fan!


The zucchini / Courgette fries are a MUST! 










a birthday message and candle for Miss T was a lovely touch! 


Magical private dining room downstairs! 

In the afternoon, we took Miss T to the LEGO store in Leicester square after seeing it featured on the LEGO Christmas programme, as Miss T ADORES all things LEGO. She loves the visits we've had to LEGOland and our hotel stays there (you can read about them here, here and here and she's desperate to go back again), she loves making things with LEGO with daddy, she loves watching the LEGO movie, I think you get the picture!













I'm on the mailing list to get LEGO press releases and although the things that get sent are interesting, they rarely really catch my eye amongst the 300 or so emails that hit my inbox each day. But one recent one really did...and as this post talks about Miss T's JIA, it seems relevant and hugely worthy of a mention here. It talks of an inspiring young lad.

I was impressed when I read that he was a blackbelt at age 8 - the World's youngest! Both J and D used to do karate sessions when they were younger and I know how much effort and discipline it takes to do well in it.

And then when I read about this amazing young lad, Jake Frood (or should I say Master Jake Frood), having Juvenile arthritis, well the tears started flowing.

Just like Miss T, "At just the age of 2 years old he was unable to walk without experiencing extreme pain." the press release read.

It is such a massive encouragement for parents and children with JIA to see kids like Jake. He is a huge role model and we applaud him for overcoming so much and doing so well.

At the CCAA conference we attended recently, there was a fair bit of chat about how kids with JIA need a role model, firstly to help raise awareness that children can and do get arthritis. Secondly to give them hope - with successful treatment and a positive mindset, they can achieve anything!

Finally it was time for a spot of present opening at home. The amazing Dick Bruna parcel from our friends at Gifts from the Pirates was a massive hit with Miss T.





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