> The Beesley Buzz: March 2017

Returning to Work with confidence with Mumsnet and No7

On Monday evening I headed to London for what I thought would be a lighthearted evening of fun, friends and make-up with Mumsnet's #No7ready event. It was a panel discussion focused around going back to work after having children, whether directly after maternity leave or after several children (the latter being my case). Guest speakers included The infamous Mother Pukka, Alice and Phanella from the step up club, model Jade Parfitt and Mumsnet founder Carrie Longton.

What I hadn't counted on was to find it sufficiently thought-provoking to have spent the past few days pondering and reassessing various aspects of my life.

I returned to my 'career' last year as opposed to returning to 'work'. I loved it so much as it gave me back my identity that had become so buried under 12 years of motherhood. But I loved it too much. I became hooked on the buzz of work and totally lost sight of any kind of work-life balance. 

I know everyone's life has complications but my life feels particularly complicated at times with my eldest son having aspergers and my youngest daughter undergoing treatment for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

J's aspergers can leave me feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted by 7AM (!!!) on some days. Miss T's medical appointments can take over an entire week on occasion. Her reduced immunity which goes hand in hand with the methotrexate treatment can lead to sudden and unexpected illness, and potentially unplanned hospital stays. 

All this makes having a regular job kind of impossible. I was lucky that I had flexibility with what I  was doing last year and I was so determined to make it work that I put my work as a priority over my family. 

By Christmas, I knew I had too much on my plate and something had to give. The only thing that could go was work so I stopped. 

But again I found myself feeling lost and without my own personal identity beyond the title of 'mother' and I started very very small scale with a few hours freelancing here and there. 

Even those few hours robbed me of any free time. On weeks where we were busy with medical appointments, it became nearly impossibly to even fit those few hours work in. But at least I had a work 'identity' once again. 

So Monday evening helped me assess and think and prioritise. I've started to draw some conclusions and I wish I had come to these conclusions sooner:

  • I know I need 'something' of my own apart from being mum, but I'm realising that the 'something' doesn't HAVE to be work. I would cherish finding time to read, I love learning to bake different things, I have hobbies that make me happy that I desperately wish I had more time for. 
  • I have to accept that there are times that my life will be stressful because of the kids medical situations (I haven't even mentioned my own arthritis here that has always played a part in dictating the type of work I can do and affects my own day to day life). 
  • I have to question why it is only 'work' that makes me feel valued. I have always struggled with understanding why society seems to place more value on professional identity / job title / work status than family situation and yet when people are honest with themselves about what is truly important in life and what matters most, the answer is usually family. So why doesn't society reflect that? 
  • I need to adjust my thinking to KNOW that what I am doing in caring for my family IS important and is valuable. And then gradually allow my self-confidence to build to reflect that. 
So whilst many were inspired by the evening to think about returning to work or to gain the confidence to negotiate a flexible approach to their work, I have actually quit the few hours that I was doing in favour of starting to value myself and my role as mother more. 

Trusted make-up brand No 7 were there to give make-up advice and do mini-makeovers. I was really pleased that the make-up element of the evening wasn't the focus of the talk. In day to day life I rarely wear make-up - I find that I just don't have the time, and feel perfectly happy to do the school run as I am. 

However for work and for special occasions I do prefer to wear a little bit of make-up. For me, I think of it as part of the dress code. I'd dress rather more smartly for work than just throwing on my usual jeans and T-shirt, and that extends to how my face and hair look too. Ditto for a special event or occasion. If it is worth putting on my favourite dress for, then it is worth the effort of applying a little bit of make-up. 

Sadly, I don't have any decent photos of the evening to share as the camera on my phone is beyond useless for taking photos! With my 40th birthday coming up this year, I think it is high time I treated myself to my first iphone to be able to get some nicer photos. 

Thank you to mumsnet and No 7 for hosting this event and to the wonderfully inspirational guest speakers too! I have not been compensated for writing this post and all opinions are my own.


It's Friday...the worst day of the week.

It's Friday today. My instagram, twitter and facebook feeds all tell me I should be celebrating. "Friyay! The end of the week, weekend is on it's way" and all that.

But despite Friday signalling fish and chip day at school, the end of a long and tiring week and, as in today's case, the end of term, Miss T HATES Fridays. She counts down the days from Monday with dread as we approach Friday.

However much we try to focus on all the good stuff about Friday, she knows Friday is injection day and she hates it. Yesterday marked the 2-year anniversary of her official diagnosis of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis or JIA for short.

She was two years old at the time of diagnosis and she is one of the lucky ones. It was only 3 months between us first noticing her symptoms and her formal diagnosis.

And prompt diagnosis means that treatment can start quickly. Getting prompt treatment for JIA is so important for preventing the long-term irreversible joint damage from occuring and a lifetime of pain.

I know all this because I too have JIA. I was 10 at the time of diagnosis but in my case it took a whole year of being in unbearable pain, a whole series of tests and hospital stays and even a hip biopsy and only then, by process of elimination, my condition was diagnosed as being JIA. By then the joint damage was done and now it affects me every single day of my life.

The diagnosis of JIA remains one that occurs by process of elimination. So that hasn't changed in the past 30 years. The other thing we discovered is that awareness and attitudes have also changed little over all these years.

One of the most common things that I used to hear was the shock and surprise when people asked me what was wrong with me. Because they believed that "arthritis is an old persons disease".

When people hear of Miss T's diagnosis, they are shocked to hear that a child could get arthritis at the age of 2.

We cannot fault the wonderful care and treatment that Miss T has received but I know from JIA related activties that I have been involved in that even amongst the medical profession Arthritis is often not considered as the potential cause when GP's are faced with a child with unexplained joint pain.

This needs to change. People need to know that it is possible for a child to get arthritis. The first step is awareness.

That is what I love about the #wearpurpleforjia campaign. It is all about raising awareness of JIA.

Children can and do get arthritis. Whilst not enough is known about the condition to prevent it or 'cure' it, we can all play a part in raising awareness to help ensure it is recognised in the first place.

These days treatment is available. For me, I don't think the treatment options were there at the time I was diagnosed, so even a quicker diagnosis may not have made a great deal of difference all those years ago. But now it does.

Our friends at Cup of Tee got in touch to offer me and Miss T their awesome ethically made purple T-shirts that arrived packaged beautifully in a reusable Tea Cup.  So kind of them to support us in raising awareness for JIA.

JIA at NRAS have got all the info you need to join in with #wearpurpleforJIA They even have a fundraising pack you can request. As someone who already supports various charities close to my heart, what I most love about the campaign is that it is more about raising awareness than raising funds. I know that everyone has charities close to them that they support financially and so I never like to ask people for donations. Hence the primary purpose of this is awareness raising. Of course,  any donations that are received are welcomed and will be put towards the work of the NRAS (National Rheumatoid Arthritis Association).

We've recently updated our blog with a page dedicated to information about JIA and our experience of it, tips that have helped us along the way and some downloadable resources like medication monitoring charts as we found that keeping track of all the medications that Miss T was on could prove extremely tricky at times!

You can find it here. Please do bear in mind that this is not to be considered as medical information, but rather our experiences which may be of use to others. It is focused around Methotrexate (MTX) as the main treatment drug as that has been our case but there are various other treatments available for children where MTX does not prove effective or where something else may be considered more suitable in their particular case.

So back to the topic of Fridays. Wear Purple for JIA day is on FRIDAY 9th JUNE 2017. And that is one Friday that we are definitely looking forward to!


Mario Sports Superstars for Nintendo 3DS

Mario Sports Superstars is the new fun, action-packed game for Nintendo 3DS. Actually, it's five games in one, so loads to do and fun guaranteed for everyone.
Mario. Image courtesy Nintendo UK.
The game features Football and Baseball (the first time either have been on the Nintendo 3DS) alongside Tennis, Golf and Horse Racing. Of course, Mario is joined by his friends giving you 18 characters to choose from. As with other Mario games, each character has their own set of skills and abilities making them stand out from the crowd - will you choose strong, hard-hitting Donkey Kong, or all-rounder Luigi?
Football. Image courtesy Nintendo UK.
And, being a fantastic Mario game means there are power-ups and special items to collect to give you that extra special boost.
Bowser playing Baseball. Image courtesy Nintendo UK.
With each of the sports there are full instructions and tutorials to get you started. And then you're off on single-player or multi-player fun. In multi-player mode you can play either locally or against opponents around the world online.
Mario playing Tennis. Image courtesy Nintendo UK.
One of the things I love about this is that the Football is eleven-a-side. Normally a small screen means less players, but Nintendo have done a great job at fitting all that gameplay into a small space, and making it fun and playable at the same time. Controls are fairly intuitive and become second nature the more you play.
Golf. Image courtesy Nintendo UK.
Our younger son D loved the added feature in the Horse Racing where you can care for the horses, giving them a better mood and so a better race. That added touch really makes the game come to life for him, and extends the game beyond the race itself.
Horse Racing. Image courtesy Nintendo UK.
As with many Mario games, you can use amiibos or amiibo cards to give more abilities and unlock extra gear.

D gave this review of Mario Sports Superstars for Nintendo 3DS:
I really like this game because there are all your favourite characters in one game! You can play loads of sports without going outside, and you can choose single player or play with all your friends on multiplayer mode. You can look after the horses from equestrian and make sure they're fast, agile and most importantly in a good mood. Also, you learn tricks in tennis and special moves in basketball, skills in football and how to do good shots in golf.

So the verdict is simple - this is a great game, loads of fun and packed full of action!

Mario Sports Superstars for Nintendo 3DS is available from the Nintendo Official UK store. Here's the brilliant trailer from Nintendo:

As Nintendo Family Bloggers we were sent a download copy of  Mario Sports Superstars for Nintendo 3DS for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

"Haft-seen" Biscuits for Persian new year (norooz)

Haft-Seen Biscuits for Iranian New Year Norooz Celebrating Persian new year

What a month of celebrations March is. We have D's birthday, followed by Persian / Iranian New year and then Mother's day.

Despite being born and raised in the UK, my mother was always keen on teaching us the traditions like Persian new year when I was growing up. I've tried to do the same for my children, but sadly year by year my attempts become more and more feeble and our 'haft-seen' display ends up looking rather sparse and embarrassing compared to the beautiful images I see elsewhere.

I no longer even attempt to grow wheatgrass or lentils for our sabzeh as I ended up with rather too many failed attempts over the years.

"Haft-seen" means Seven 'S's in Iranian and a far better explanation of it can be found on wikipedia than I could explain here. So the idea is to lay out a table displaying seven items beginning with the Iranian letter S.

So we usually manage to find a needle, a hyacinth, vinegar, an apple, garlic, sumac, small coins, which makes up our seven items. And we display ours on a tray (sinee) which gives us an additional S just in case.

This year my friend even gave me some Senjed which is described on wikipedia as dried iranian olives. In my opinion they bear no resemblance to olives and look more like dates but not anywhere near as sweet. Inside they are kind of dry and fluffy.

In addition the haft-seen table will often have a candle, a mirror, a goldfish in a bowl (ours are little toy goldfish), and painted eggs (we used wooden or plastic eggs as I can't bear food to be wasted by not being eaten afterwards).

So this year I wanted to have a go at doing something a bit different. I dug out my Biscuiteers recipe book which I trust for a great basic vanilla biscuit. The recipe can also be found online here.

Then I used a combination of home-made royal icing and some Dr. Oetker writing icing tubes to decorate.

Time wasn't on my side, so some of them are a bit rushed but I think the overall combination of the items worked.

So we had a mirror, 'painted' eggs, a hyacinth, a sabzeh, garlic, fish in a fish bowl, apple, vinegar, small coins, a needle and thread and a candle.

I couldn't quite figure out how to do things like 'sumac' or 'samanu' or 'senjed'. And I'm not convinced that every item looked close enough to know what it was - but it was fun to have a go at doing this as I couldn't find anything else like this out there - when googling 'persian new year' biscuits, it tends to bring up recipes for the traditional sweet biscuits and treats one may have at new year like noon nochodchi (chickpea flour biscuits) or noon berenji (rice-flour biscuits) rather than anything themed like this.

We did also set up our regular haft-seen which Miss T really enjoyed helping me with. And my kids also experienced the tradition of jumping over small fires called 'Char-shanbeh suri'. Despite it looking like a bit of a health & safety nightmare, the kids all loved doing this (and so did the grown-ups).

A post shared by Rebecca Beesley (@rebeccabeesley) on



March 2017 was the month that D turned 11. As well as my usual wondering of where did all those years go, I find myself wondering where the time goes to each day. 

This little blog was supposed to capture the kids milestones and even getting up a birthday pic of D has taken me ages to get around to doing. Time just rushes by every day and by the time the jobs are done for the day, school runs, clubs, activities, hospital appointments etc are done for the day, I just collapse into bed and can't face logging on to write a blogpost. 

So this is a speedy one written up before dashing off on the school run today....

D you are now 11. That seems such a big number and yet when I look at you some days you seem so young - so innocent not having seen the horrors that this world is capable of. 

Other times I look at you and see how grown up you are. I see such wisdom already. Knowing you are growing into the most wonderful young man. You already show such a caring attitude towards others - sensing intuitively when things aren't right. Wanting to offer help and put things right. 

You love to read a lot lately. Harry Potter books are your favourite. You've pinched one of my ornate chopsticks to use as a wand. You and Miss T walk around the house casting spells. She now adores Harry Potter rather than Star Wars which was a favourite of hers for so long. You even received a special letter from Hogwarts recently! 

You set a good example to us all - of how to be a good friend. Of how to spend time on what matters most. Of how to put things into perspective. Of how to help when help is most needed. 

You make my day when you notice when the vacuuming has been done, when you appreciate the food that has been cooked, when you say thank you and show that you care. 

In September you will be off to secondary school. Your primary school education wasn't the most conventional as it included our years of homeschooling. Wonderful years that I hope have given you happy memories for life. But for the past 3 years you've settled beautifully into a school setting. Making friends, doing so well, you are the kind of kid everyone loves to know and have as a friend. 

Happy Birthday!


More clean cake baking: No-bake Goji bars

After an overindulgence of cake for D's birthday recently, I decided to make a batch of Henrietta Inman's Goji berry cereal bars so that we'd all have healthy treats to snack on this week.

They're brilliant because they are refined-sugar free and this is actually a no-bake recipe so quite easy to do.

The recipe is in her Clean Cakes book which I adore and seem to be making my way through cooking every single recipe. But I also found it online here.

I made a couple of little swaps like using more puffed quinoa as I didn't have brown rice puffs and using a combination of almond butter and peanut butter as I didn't have cashew nut butter at home at the moment.

They turned out quite soft and crumbly even after being put in the fridge - but that made them all the more moreish. Surely it is only right to keep nibbling away at any bits that keep crumbling off, right?


Thank Goodness for Dolmio to get us through the week!

Although I wasn't speedy enough to be one of the lucky bloggers getting a Dolmio delivery, I always keep a jar of Dolmio in the cupboard for those mid-week meals that need to be quick and easy and still get that all important nutritional goodness into the kids.

The kids are so busy after school with music lessons, youth club, boys brigade and other activities that it really can be a rush at dinner time. So I was keen to come up with something mega speedy that could be rustled up in minutes and that tasted really good too.

So #ThankGoodness for Dolmio. I threw in some other storecupboard (and freezer ingredients) and hey presto - speedy, tasty and nutritious dinner.

If you've not picked up a jar of Dolmio recently, I'd really recommend taking a look at the great infographic on their website. How brilliant that a whopping 10 tomatoes goes into every 500g jar!

Dolmio & Frankfurter Simple Speedy Spaghetti

Here's what you'll need to make our super-easy supper with Dolmio:

1 x 500g jar Dolmio original
Wholewheat spaghetti
1 pack good quality frankfurters
frozen red onion (equivalent to 1 red onion)
frozen sweetcorn (1 handful)
frozen peas (1 handful)
a little rapeseed oil for frying
fresh basil and / or salad to serve if desired

1. Cook the spaghetti according to pack instructions
2. Fry the red onion in a little rapeseed oil. Chop the frankfurters into slices and add until browned.
3. Add the frozen peas and sweetcorn, followed by the jar of Dolmio.
4. Simmer for a few minutes.
5. Serve the spaghetti and the Dolmio and frankfurter sauce on top or stir it all together as you prefer.
6. Serve with basil or salad as you wish.

SO simple. SO speedy and tastes SO super!

And here's the bonus...A second speedy meal the following day.

Leftover Spaghetti Nests

With the leftovers, simply lightly greased either a muffin pan or silicone cupcake cases, place little nests of the spaghetti and Dolmio mixture into them, Top with a little crumbled cheddar and pop in the oven at 180C for approximately 15-20 minutes.

You end up with cute little spaghetti nests that the kids will just adore!

We hope you enjoyed our super simple recipe packed with goodness that makes us say #ThankGoodness for #Dolmio

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. Find out more here www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness

A mother's uniform

From the cryptic title you may be expecting a deep thought-provoking post about how mothers clothe themselves with love and care and always put their children first. Well we do often do that but this post is more literal than that.

Becoming a mum meant I had a wardrobe shift. Where once I had rails of work suits, blouses and dresses, I now have piles of T-shirts, jeans and tracksuits.

Because let's face it, there's nothing as easy and comfortable to wear day in day out as a T-shirt when you're running around after kids. So it's very much become my uniform as a mum. It's only on special occasions that you'll find me wearing anything other than a T-shirt and jeans.

But like many, I'm often guilty of grabbing the cheapest clothing I can find, often at the supermarket for convenience, without thinking of the real cost to other people and to the environment when clothes aren't ethically made.

So when I first came across Cup of Tee, I absolutely fell in love with their concept. An ethically made, recycled T-shirt, hand-finished right here in the UK. They're printed with eco-friendly ink.

They come rolled up in a re-usable tea cup which is BPA free.

Their designs are quirky and cool and the T-shirts are mega-comfortable.

They make a great gift arriving in a cup like that. So much fun and certainly a gift that goes on giving as they say. The person on the receiving end is bound to smile and think of you everytime they wear their T-shirt and / or use their cup for a cuppa.

Now another mother dilemma I've had lately is where to shop for clothes for ever-growing J. He seems to have outgrown the kids ranges in stores. Even when we find clothing in a big enough child size for him, the actual designs can be quite childish.

So we're gradually starting to buy him clothing from Men's ranges in the smallest sizes which seems to be working better than squeezing him into children's clothing ranges.

J was sent a men's small size Cup of Tee T-shirt with the "Work With Courage"Stag design.

 He loves it!!!

In fact, he loves it so much he agreed to pose for photos for the first time in months!

And we love them too for their recycled and ethical credentials.

The Cup of Tee T-shirt I was sent was a Medium Ladies one in Vintage green that I love!

Super soft and comfy. The fit was good (despite me piling the pounds back on since my backpain has flared up again).

So if you're looking for a new T-shirt for yourself, or to give a gift with a difference, then I would highly recommend CupofTee.com

You can also find them on facebook and twitter.

So although I've resigned myself to having to wear a mother's uniform of T-shirt and jeans most the time, at least I can wear a stylish, comfy, ethically made one thanks to Cup of Tee.

Disclosure: With huge thanks to Cup of Tee for sending us these lovely T-shirts for the purposes of review. All opinions are, as always, our own. 


Three-tiered surprise on the inside chocolate cake

It is blogposts like this that demonstrate just what a rubbish blogger and baker I am. Because when I'm experimenting in the kitchen, I rarely keep track of exactly what I'm doing and so end up clueless about the exact quantities of the ingredients I've used. A big no-no when it comes to the 'science' that is baking.

Anyhow when I made this triple-layered cake that thankfully turned out well, I did want to keep a note of the bits I could remember as a learning point for next time.

First I made a basic vanilla cake batter using:
4 eggs
240g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
240g stork

Once those ingredients were combined, I took 200g of the batter and added in a handful of freeze-dried strawberries. This batter was then poured into my little heart-shaped cake tin (greased and lined) and baked in the oven at 180C for just over 30 minutes.

Then I divided the remaining batter in two.

Into one half I added some random amount of cocoa powder. I could probably have added more as it didn't become too dark coloured. But I was wary of the mixture drying out too much. I added a small splash of milk to keep the consistency and stop it becoming too dry with the cocoa powder.

I greased and lined a circular cake tin and dolloped the vanilla batter and chocolate batter in. Using a lollipop stick I swirled the two around to make a marble effect.

This needed around 30 minutes in the oven at 180C.

For the bottom layer of cake, I mixed together:
180g sugar
100ml rapeseed oil
140g self-raising flour,
1 egg,
40g cocoa powder
175 ml milk

This chocolatey batter was poured into a greased and lined square cake tin and popped into the oven at 190C for about 30 minutes.

When all three cakes had cooled, I could start decorating. Each cake got a crumb coat of whipped double cream first. 

I looked up a mirror glaze recipe which stated 175ml double cream, 70g sugar, 20g cocoa powder, 1 and a half leaves gelatin and 75ml water but when I made this up following the instructions it remained very 'watery' and was really running off the cake. 

So an extra leaf and a half of gelatin was added to it, followed by some melted dark chocolate. 

Once cool, this was thick enough that it seemed to work. Not quite as mega-shiny as some mirror-glazes but I was happy enough with it.

I used it for the bottom layer, adding a few chocolate curls around the base.

I also used it for the middle layer. White chocolate was then drizzled across the middle cake.

Finally for the top layer, I didn't even attempt a white chocolate mirror glaze so instead just made a white chocolate ganache with unknown quantities of double cream and white chocolate and poured it over. This was finished off with some freeze-dried strawberries sprinkled around the sides.

So each layer ended up looking different on the outside as well as being different on the inside. Together they had the wow factor as my kids were impressed with it.