> The Beesley Buzz: 2020

Strawberry cookies?

We set out to make strawberry cookies, but ended up with something that was a cross between a cookie and a rock cake. Tasted biscuity-cookie-like enough but looked more like a rock cake. Either way, it tasted good.


150g chopped fresh strawberries 
100g caster sugar
250g plain flour 
50g milk chocolate (chopped into chunks)
Half a tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
110g butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line a baking tray.
2. Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and egg (I used my stand mixer, scraping around the sides as needed).
3. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Pour the bowl of flour into the creamed butter and fold together until combined.
5. Add the chopped strawberries and chocolate chunks and fold until incorporated. 
6. Roll into balls and place on the baking tray. You could probably press down to flatten them slightly. I didn't as I wasn't sure how much they would spread when cooking. 
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until beginning to turn a golden colour.

Remove from oven and leave to cool. 


July 2020 unboxing video

So here we are at the end of another month. This year is truly flying by despite the awfulness of COVID-19. 

I've decided to take a break from doing an unboxing video in August. My heart wasn't really in it for the second part of July and it began to feel like a chore. I hate seeing myself on camera - I always look so miserable and I STILL don't know where to look to be looking at the camera properly! And far too many ermming and uhmmings for my liking. So I'm always cringing when I watch it back. 

I love watching other people's unboxings so hopefully will be back to doing another video again in future but there is a lot of "stuff" going on at home at the moment that is using up my emotional energy. My insomnia has crept back into my life and so on. 

Forgot to mention on the video that the Bird and Wild coffee was via Women Talking on Instagram. The others I think I have mentioned properly where the wins are from. It's been interesting to see that being back on Facebook this year after a long break, that I have managed to pick up a few wins along the way despite many many more people entering comps on Facebook compared to when I was previously properly on there several years back. 

Those Facebook scams are getting truly annoying though! Seems to happen to every single comp these days where the scammers with a clone account say "You won - visit my profile". I report and block them each time they appear but it is frustrating that Facebook doesn't find a way of stopping them. 

The interview / article I mention in the video was published by a local paper, The Kent Messenger and Kent Online here. I was really pleased with it because the journalist spent a long time (about an hour and a half) chatting with me on the phone - and I love talking about comping even more that comping itself! So that was a great morning. She then wrote a really balanced piece reflecting our interview. 

It then went rather crazy once the piece was published with multiple news agencies getting in touch out of the blue - and I didn't like that at all. Many didn't like taking no for an answer and kept contacting me for several days. In the end I gave permission to the original journalist to pass on to their sister company and from there it appeared all over the place like The Mirror and The Daily Star

As a natural introvert - I don't like all this attention but on the other hand I'm conscious that the driving force behind writing my two comping books was to raise awareness of and funds for Juvenile Arthritis Research and so I knew it would help with that. I was also blown away by the number of people who got in touch with me after reading the article to say how much it resonated with them with what the articles described as "the darker side" of comping. It is another reason for sharing my comping story so that others won't feel so alone if they do experience a similar situation. 

Anyway, here's July's unboxing. Since filming I had the Soltan parcel arrive and also another sun protection mist from Bioderma so we should be sorted for all this sunshine we are having this week! 

Hope everyone is staying safe and keeping well. 


My Squeebles family by Trinity

I woke up this morning to the cutest thing and have asked Miss T if I can share on the blog which she was happy for me to do. 

We are all BIG fans of the Squeebles apps from Key Stage Fun - a range of maths related and spelling apps for children. The kids have as much fun as they would if they were playing a game and I have the satisfaction of knowing the huge educational benefits of these apps.

When J was younger they enabled him to get super good at his times tables that we would know all the times tables right up to the fifteen times table totally off by heart - it was truly incredible! 

The cute in-app characters are called Squeebles and Miss T decided to create our whole family as Squeebles. I love every single one of these that she has created:  

Daniel as a Squeeble is called Danny Boy 5:
  • Favourite food is chocolate
  • Favourite hobby is cuddling cats
  • Interesting fact: Danny Boy 5 gets on really well with other cats.

Trinity as a Squeeble is called Trinity the Greatest 2000:
  • Favourite food is chocolate cake
  • Favourite hobby is being a giraffe
  • Interesting fact: Trinity the Greatest 2000 is part giraffe.

Mummy as a Squeeble is called Mummy:
  • Favourite food is lasagne
  • Favourite hobby is comping
  • Interesting fact: Mummy once won a trip to the World's best restaurant. 

Daddy as a Squeeble is called Daddy:
  • Favourite food is chocolate
  • Favourite hobby is cuddling Trinity the Greatest 2000
  • Interesting fact: Daddy is a scientist.

Joshua as a Squeeble is called JCB:
  • Favourite food is Pepperoni Pizza
  • Favourite hobby is Crossy Road (obvs!)
  • Interesting fact: JCB broke the world record on Crossy Road and never stops eating. 


4 month isolation milestone

Today marks our 4 month isolation milestone. 4 months without proper contact with the outside world. 4 months without having gone into any kind of shop or building other than our own home. 

Many things day to day are the same as in our 3 month isolation update  but in the past couple of weeks, I've just felt more fed up. Not fed-up of being isolated as in truth, there is not too much that I feel I miss as such. As an introvert, I can keep myself busy at home and feel sufficiently connected with friends via messages and zoom calls at the moment. But just fed-up that the covid situation is dragging on when things could/should have improved more by this point. I have a feeling we are heading into a time of divide again where some people won't feel comfortable with the easing of lockdown and returning to "normality" whilst others are desperately wanting or needing to get out and about again. So I hope that we will all be able to respect each others opinions and decisions during this time as everyone is navigating new territory. 

I certainly don't miss grocery shopping which always felt like a chore. During this time we've actually managed to work out the precise amount of milk, bread and essentials that we need from one week to the next so all those little in-between trips to the local shop we used to do won't be necessary in future either. 

We are disinfecting the grocery deliveries when they arrive so that is a "new" chore that we didn't have in pre-covid times and that can take well over an hour each time to do. We are also re-thinking hygiene all around the house ready for when we may have visitors in future - so shoes are strictly to be removed in the porch only. This is something we tend to do ourselves but it is harder to insist for others to do. We've been super strict with not even taking 1 step beyond the porch whilst wearing shoes. 

I've ordered new handtowels so that we have plenty for washing even more regularly than we do at the moment. I am thinking of doing a 1-use and wash small towel system in our downstairs loo, I used to do this when I was childminding and it helped with good hygiene. 

We have hand sanitiser by the front door so once we put our shoes on we can use that to clean our hands when leaving the house, and we all wash our hands thoroughly when we get back indoors. 

The other thing I haven't missed at all is catching all the normal illnesses - all the little coughs, colds, tummy bugs etc. and avoiding nits. It's something I remember being a big plus point of when we homeschooled previously. Although hayfever seems to have been bad at times this year in our family, it has been brilliant not to have caught any illnesses because of not coming into contact with anyone else. 

So this past month we've had the one year anniversary of Miss T's tooth trauma, Father's day, J's 16th birthday, and plenty more baking and crafting adventures. 

I know a lot of people may be using this time for armchair travelling planning places to visit in future or just seeing wonderful places at the click of the button on the internet. We've found ourselves so thankful for this little blog where we've kept so many of our travel memories  so we've been using our previous blogposts to reminisce.  

Going out mainly in the evening continues to be our norm and J has been running regularly again with D joining in for some walks. 

The photos have ended up in a rather random order, but we also have the new section of patio more or less finished (needs a bit of cleaning up and then made to look nice with garden furniture and accessories).

And our raspberries have remained fruitful meaning that we've had to find even more ways of using them so we made another batch of our raspberry and chocolate muffins (using white chocolate this time). We've also added them to scones using this recipe with raspberries added in place of sultanas. And of course raspberries are great in smoothies too like the unicorn smoothie we made.

I've included photos of our chocolate dipped strawberries too as they remind me of happier times from last summer. After one of Miss T's hospital appointments in London we headed to Harrods as I had a voucher to use. A Harrod's voucher doesn't stretch very far but we thought it would be a fun experience for Miss T. It was rather too busy for our liking but Miss T chose a cuddly toy and then in the chocolate department she had her heart set on a cone of chocolate dipped strawberries.

However much I tried to convince her that £10 for 5 strawberries really wasn't worth it, she really really wanted them. We got the strawberries and enjoyed every mouthful. At the time I still hadn't felt it was worth the price tag but it's funny how perceptions change over time.

Now I look back so fondly at that memory and it makes me smile.

So recreating our own chocolate dipped strawberries brought back the memories from that day - but at a fraction of the cost.

At the start of all this back in March when we began our isolation, I honestly thought that by June and July time we would all be emerging slowly and cautiously into a covid-free country. Sadly that is not the case. I hope that by the next milestone update, that the situation will be more positive. In the meantime, we continue to take one day at a time and remain truly grateful to all those amazing keyworkers getting us through these difficult times.

Unicorn smoothie

I've wanted to have a go at making a layered smoothie for a while. I have a vague recollections of managing to make two tone ones a few years back by making sure one layer was a lot thicker than the other. Avocado smoothie as the bottom layer and peach smoothie on top. Vanilla oats smoothie on the bottom and berry on top etc.

So being at home, this was the perfect opportunity to try a smoothie with more layers.

After a spot of googling, it turns out that it is best to freeze between layers to ensure they don't mix together.

So I started with a base of banana smoothie blending together a banana and milk. I saved this across 4 smaller containers.

Taking one of the containers, I tipped it back into my blender and added blueberries.  This gave us the purple layer at the bottom of the smoothie.

This was poured into a glass and popped into the freezer. A quick rinse of the blender and then I added the next portion of banana smoothie along with a handful of strawberries and blend.

I poured it into the glass once the purple layer was sufficiently set to stop the layers from bleeding together. Then repeated with raspberries (This didn't give a huge colour variation so you could try cherries instead?) And the final layer was our final portion of banana smoothie.

The horn and ears were made of greaseproof paper and edible marker pen although as it didn't touch the smoothie any clean paper and a felt pen should be ok. A squirt of aerosol cream and a sprinkle of edible glitter gives the final magical touch.

We made another batch of our raspberry and chocolate muffins (this time using white chocolate) and this was the perfect drink to accompany them.


June 2020 unboxing

So after a few trials and tribulations I finally managed to rescue my June unboxing video from my ancient iPad (which itself was a prize win from many years ago). Anyway, here it is!

I've had a strange month emotionally again - I blame the COVID situation! At times, I've really enjoyed this hobby and at other times I've felt the negative feelings creeping in and feeling like the balance of enjoying it and NEEDING it to get through the day is shifting.

But that's what we've been doing, getting through each day, one day at a time.

I've had times when I really didn't want to do an unboxing video at all but I know I really enjoy watching other peoples so ended up doing one after all. The video is a combination of both video and some still photos. I felt lucky with Father's day comps this year winning some random draws including some fab clothes for Richard and some T-shirts for my little nephew.

We've been busy with a garden re-vamp so I'll be on the lookout for anything garden related over coming months - especially garden furniture but also accessories and plants or garden centre type vouchers. I'd love to be tagged in any you see and if you have anything specific you want to be tagged in, let me know and I'll tag in return! My handles are:
@Rebeccabeesley on Instagram and
@TheBeesleyBuzz on Twitter.

Hope that July is a good month for you all!

Links to the books I mention are as follows (all proceeds go to Juvenile Arthritis Research charity):



The Crossy Road King turns 16! Happy 16th Birthday Josh!

Dear Joshua,

You came into our lives 16 years ago on a stormy night at 2.30am. You certainly kept us waiting. 9 days late beyond your due date and after a whopping 72 hours in labour, you eventually shot into the world like a rocket that night. And life has never been quiet since!
From the moment you were born, we couldn't remember life without you. We used to think back to memories of holidays and things we'd done previously and it was like you were there with us in our memories because we just couldn't remember what life without you was like.

You kept us on our toes from the outset. I remember you sleeping well until you were two weeks old. And then everything changed and you didn't sleep well for about 13 or 14 years after that. It is only in the past couple of years that you settle to sleep a lot better. No-one warned me about that!

One of my friends described having a new baby like having a little stranger come and live with you and you have to get to know them over time. So you were our little stranger and you were always on the go. Never stopping. Never sitting still.

Always super intelligent. Little did we know then just how intelligent! As our firstborn we had no idea that it wasn't normal to know ALL the numbers on an advent calendar at just 18 months old. We didn't realise it wasn't normal to be able to add and subtract a string of numbers in your head at just 3 years old.

It was only as part of the assessments around the time of your ASD diagnosis aged around 5 that the doctors told us that your IQ level was beyond that of a 16 year old which was all their scales measured up to. And now you are 16 and you can easily outwit the rest of us put together!

We are so very proud of you Josh. More than you will truly ever know. We know you have had to overcome so many challenges. We know that some days things will be more of a challenge for you than other days and we are not always as patient as we should be. We don't always get it right. Sorry. But please know that we love you immensely and always have and always will.

Since Trinity came along, you've shown what a brilliant big brother you are - caring and kind. Of course, you are big brother to Daniel too but you were just a baby when he was born so it's like he's always been part of your life. These days Daniel appreciates having his big brother to encourage him and help him with running and gaming - the hobbies you share together.

Of course we are proud of what you've achieved at school but also of your extra-curricular activities like your running and your volunteering with Park Run and Boys Brigade and Summer holiday church club. All of which put you out of your comfort zone and yet you still do it and do it so well. 
I suppose at this stage, we should also mention a bit more about your other big love - gaming! And yes we are proud of you being the World Record holder of the Highest score on Crossy Road.

Did we ever think we'd have any kind of world record holder in our family? No. But did we always know that you would be capable of achieving anything you set you mind to? Yes - without a doubt.

When you were a toddler, people used to comment that you used to think of doing things that wouldn't even occur to other children of your age (usually related to climbing somewhere you shouldn't or escaping to somewhere you shouldn't). We fought so hard for you at school to be understood. We sided with you when the teachers just didn't get it. In the end we realised that most the time you were being held back academically because the teachers couldn't keep up with you! I remember you complaining to me that you'd finish your work and that they wouldn't let you move onto the next page of your workbook. That's just insane. No wonder you thrived with homeschooling! And when you went back to school - to schools that understood and knew what you were capable of - well just look how amazing you have been and still are!!!
So your 16th birthday has been a bit strange. We couldn't go out for your usual McDonald's so we made our own at home. And I couldn't home-bake you a cake like we normally do but we managed to make the shop-bought cake themed in a way you liked.

And now you have a whole new chapter ahead of you. A-levels and beyond. And we know you'll smash it Josh. Happy birthday 16 year old!

Reigniting the excitement: Aquabeads Star Beads review #ad #gifted

Just as we reach the point where I feel I've said all that can be said about how wonderful Aquabeads are, something happens that gives me something more to say. In this case, the innovation that is STAR SHAPED BEADS! Aquabeads are colourful little beads that you can arrange into designs, give them a simple spray with water and they fix into position once dry.

Miss T has really enjoyed Aquabeads over the years, from the very first playset she was given by her godmother for her birthday to the many wonderful sets she has been sent to review. There's a link to some of them at the bottom of this post - There really are many many themed Aquabeads sets as well as refill packs available.

We've been in isolation since early March and we've done almost every activity under the sun during that time from baking to gardening to painting to crafts. The one thing that surprised me was that the Aquabeads didn't come out at all. I was beginning to wonder whether the kids had outgrown them.

Then Miss T was sent a Star Beads Studio Starter Set. I had made the assumption that this just meant that it came in a Star Shaped box for storing the Aquabeads in. But I was wrong. It is a selection of the beads themselves that are Star Shaped. Some are translucent and some are opaque and there are plenty of the normal sphere shaped beads in the set too.

The really wonderful thing about each and every Aquabeads set and playset is that the box shows exactly what is included right down to the exact number of each colour and type of bead. The "sets" seem to be the smaller sets containing beads often with a theme or characters and the "playsets" seem to be the larger packs containing a bead palette to sort and store your beads in and the bead tray to make your designs on. In more recent packs there is a flip tray and "receiver" so that your designs can be easily removed from the tray to dry - more on that later!

Some of the playsets including the Star Beads Studio (the bigger of the 3 packs we were send to review) include a bead pen. I used to absolutely swear by the bead pen and always told friends to buy one separately if they didn't already have one. As Miss T has grown older and her manual dexterity and fine motor skills have improved, she found that she didn't use the bead pen much this time.

That didn't stop her getting really excited about it though when she saw it...

"It's a double pen!" she yelled. "When you need a star bead you use one end and when you need normal beads you can use the other end."

She set to work choosing which Aquabeads designs to make using the templates provided as well as looking on the enclosed leaflets for inspiration. As she's grown older, I've noticed her confidence has increased to "freestyle" with Aquabeads to create her own designs using her imagination. In the early days she was always totally reliant on the templates.

For anyone needing even more inspiration and ideas, there are loads of templates that can be downloaded free of charge from the Aquabeads website. So during this time where we are staying home so much more because of COVID-19, Aquabeads really do make the perfect lockdown activity!

And unlike many other arts and crafts activities, they are mess-free. A definite plus point for parents!

For her first Star beads design Miss T chose the dragon template.

 Soon it was ready to spray with water using the water squirter spray bottle.

We've noticed that Aquabeads constantly look for ways to improve their products and remove any niggles or issues. One of the great things about the Flip tray and receiver design is that bead designs can be easily removed from the tray, onto the "receiver" (the green part shown) and left to dry. By turning the design over after 5 minutes, the second side will dry more quickly and your design will soon be completely dry. In the meantime the tray can be dried off and used for more designs so no need to wait around until one design is completely dry before carrying on your creativity!

There's a video to show how to use the flip tray should you need it but it really is straight forward to use - just hold it firmly as you flip to avoid your beads moving out of place.

Miss T was thrilled with her finished dragon. She didn't stop there - she went onto make loads more designs and D was tempted to join in too. We dug out our whole Aquabeads collection and they spent hours engaged in this activity.

They even made grandad a father's day card using Aquabeads:

That is one of the really great things about Aquabeads - they can be used as part of other craft creations like greetings cards, or bookmarks, or even to decorate picture frames or pencil pots!

The next morning the first question Miss T asked me was "mummy can I do more Aquabeads today?"

We were sent the following three products for this review:

The Star Bead Studio which contained the Star Shaped bead palette and lid for storing your Aquabeads, along with the flip tray and receiver, a bead pen, water sprayer, templates and a selection of over 1,000 beads.   

The Star Friends Set which acts as a refill set for the Star Beads Studio with templates to make various animals and plenty of regular beads and star beads. 

The Star Bead pack which contains over 800 of the Star shaped beads in a variety of colours. 

If you are new to Aquabeads then the Deluxe Studio is a good place to start with plenty of beads and all the equipment you need to get started. Note: the Deluxe Studio contains solid and 'jewel' beads but not the Star beads described in this review.

You can find Aquabeads on social media as follows:

They'd love to see your Aquabeads creations shared with them using #AquaLockdownCrafts

Proud to be official Aquabeaders:

Some of our previous Aquabeads reviews:

Star Wars Playset Review

Finding Dory Playset Review

Toy Story Character Set

Despicable Me Minions Playset

Disclosure: As official Aquabeaders, we were sent the Aquabeads Star Beads Studio, Aquabeads Star Friends Set, and the Aquabeads Star Bead refill pack for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.