Archives for June 2013

Soft oaty slices (or sugarfree flapjacks!)

I thought it was about time I shared a recipe! Mushroom and I do a  lot of cooking activity together but my aversion to measuring out ingredients means that things don’t always go to plan and when they do, I’m never quite sure how to share the recipe.

This week, Mushroom and I had a go at making soft oaty bars a la Goodies. I looked at the ingredients and figured they’re basically sugar free flapjacks so I searched for a few recipes online to see what else was out there… Then we made up our own. Here’s how we did it (all ingredients are approximate!):

You will need: 160g porridge oats, 100g raisin, 2 apples (cored and grated), 1tsp cinnamon, tsp ginger (or used mixed spice), 2 tbsp butter or margarine (we used Clover), 2tbsp honey (one for drizzling!) and one fruit shoot (apple and pear flavour, or 1 cup regular apple or pear juice)

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Method: Add the grated apple, raisins and cinnamon to a bowl.

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 Pour in the melted butter…

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…then add the porridge oats, stirring as you go.

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Add a tablespoon of honey…

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And finally, the fruit shoot!

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Stir until you have a thick porridgey consistency, then transfer to a baking tray (we used a cake tin this time). Drizzle honey on the top and then put it in the oven at gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.

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Leave it to cool, remove from the tin/tray and then cut into slices…

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Et Voila!

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Next time we might try banana and chopped dates (we can probably leave out the honey for this) or even strawberry and chocolate chips (although of course then they won’t be sugar free…). If you try these, do let us know what you think by adding a comment below!

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We love, we laugh, we dance…

Here at Mushroom Mansions* we have a family ‘motto.’ It’s something we created fairly recently but it’s something we’ve pretty much lived by (most of the time), at least since Mushroom was born. It is this:

We love, we laugh, we dance and we say sorry. Which brings us back to love.’

It’s a lovely reminder of what makes us a unit. Like most, we love to love (my Mum used to say ‘We are here for each other.’ I agree) and we love to laugh – Mushroom has reminded us how to do this properly, with his frequent unrestrained peals of laughter echoing off the walls long after he’s stopped. We also love to dance. As a family we love music and I have talked about Mushrooms dancing before (he’s got even more moves now but that’s another blog post). Dancing is something we enjoy doing together and Mushroom equally loves to dance by himself, throwing shapes across the living room floor, and ensconced between Mr B and I, in the ultimate definition of a family ‘unit.’

As for saying ‘sorry,’ well. That just means that we all know when it’s time to own up and take responsibility for hurts we’ve caused… Whether that’s by losing our tempers and saying things we don’t mean or biting in the midst of a full on tantrum (Mushroom not us!) which, as the motto says, brings us back to love…

What motto do you live by at home? And are they based on new values, or those handed down by your parents?

*Yeah. It’s not really a mansion, I just like how that sounds.


The Babyhuddle Play carnival

Hello party people! Got your whistles and horns? Wearing short shorts and waving your flags? Then join the line, it’s carnival time! Rum punch in the bowl on your left, fill up your water bottle (What? That’s not water? Oh Ok, mixers on the right) and turn up the stereo ’cause it’s party time!

New here? Wondering what’s going on? No, we’re not serving alcohol to the kids – today I am hosting the Babyhuddle Play Carnival. Here’s where you can get some great ideas on how to entertain the kids, come rain or shine. I am very happy to be hosting this carnival, as I blogged recently about how outdoor play always trumps indoor activity for Mushroom and I. This is still true today, however, I now have some great ideas for the next time we’re stuck indoors – we’ll never be bored again.

So, let me introduce the real hosts of this party:

Filling up at the punch bowl we have Rachel McClary over at Right from the start. Rachel asks  Do children need toys? Her experience when she first arrived in the US reminded her of the importance of not only using household objects for play but also trusting children to use real things around the home rather than ‘child friendly’ versions. Rachel also blogs about messy play both indoors and out, explaining Why playing with mud is good for children and how she disovered that Making muddy footprints isn’t always easy. Indoor ideas include playing with shaving foam – an idea from her daughter! and playing with ice – a great idea, especially in the summer months when it can also cool down overheated toddlers (I will be trying this out if the weather ever improves!)

Over there on the danecfloor is Tami Anderson from Mummy of two who asks whether playing with your kids is boring or fun? If you’re leaning towards boring, perhaps a session of messy play with Rainbow spaghetti could change your mind…

To her left is Leyla Brooke from This day I love. Leyla has some great examples of proper messy messy play (be prepared for a big clean up but it’s worth it for the fun you’ll have!)… We’re loving play with  Sand (yes, indoors!), home-made strawberry scented Play dough (watch they don’t eat it) and she shows us how to make snow any time of year for Indoor snow fun. Less messy play includes a special Jewellery box (I have copied this idea already as Mushroom is always in my jewellery box – now he has his own!) and Playing outside before lunch.

Standing in the far corner waving at you (yes, you!) is Jessica McGlynn from Catch a single thought. Jessica shares some ideas for Spring play – water and bubbles are always winners in our house – and as for the ribbon, I want one of those! I’m sure there’s a Poundland near me… Jessica also writes about not so messy messy play (so suits me perfectly) with tissue paper. Simple but so much fun!

Behind Jessica is Emma Louise Garrett from The Mini Mes and Me. Emma talks about the importance of making time to play to help our children’s development and links up with some great ideas including rock pets, cellophane window decorations and more shaving foam – this time with colour! Also talking about making time to play is Eileen Teo from ET Speaks From Home, who shows us how to make some cute masks with a video starring her lovely kids.

Finally, if you head to the kitchen you’ll find Louise Fairweather brewing A Strong Coffee… Louise gives us an another alternative to snow that’s available all year round snow – crazy (foaming) soap!

So… Now that you’ve met everyone, why not join us? Fill that bottle with rum punch and hit the dancefloor, or head into the kitchen for tea/coffee and a chat? If you have any more ideas for keeping the little ones entertained when we all get home, do share them below! As we all know, it’s the guests who make the party so let’s keep this carnival going all week!


Silent Sunday





Bandstand Handstand – a poem

This is a poem I wrote a while back while volunteering at a school, working with young children on their reading skills. A couple of the children found out I write poetry, and demanded (ok, asked) if I could write a poem for them. I wrote this short poem while they had their lunch, and read it to them afterwards. At the time it didn’t have a title but the kids came up with ‘Bandstand Handstand,’ so I stuck with that.

Do share this poem with your children and let me know what they think. I’m interested in what you think too but find that kids are usually the most honest critics! If you would like to hear me reading this poem, click on the title for the audio version.

Bandstand Handstand

“Bandstand, oh Bandstand, tell me a story, if you can”
“Of course I can Sam, let me tell you about when I was the grandest Bandstand in all the land”

Sam sat down and offered the Bandstand a ham sandwich
The Bandstand declined politely by waving his (funny-looking) hands

“So, Mr Bandstand…”
“Oh please, call me Dan.”
“Did you see many bands, Dan?”
“Many, many bands Sam.  Brass bands, jazz bands, one rock band, and even some ladies doing the can-can – back when the summers were long and hot, the men wore hats and ladies carried fans…”
“Didn’t they want to lie on the grass and get a tan?”
“No Sam, that was before Chanel made the tan fashionable, but after that, yes, they covered me with sand, and the ladies put down their fans and tried to tan.”

Sam asked the Bandstand how he ate when he had such funny-looking hands…
The Bandstand ignored Sam.

“Once there was a lady who came and sang.”
“Was she as good as the bands?” asked Sam
“She was so good the bands had her banned ’cause they were afraid she’d steal their fans…
Now people just run around me in their sweatbands, no-one stands on me these days,
it’s like I’ve become some kind of no-mans land.”

Sam jumped onto the Bandstand, did a handstand then crash-landed and hurt his hand.
“Be careful,” said Dan in reprimand and began to wish he did have hands
because by now he’d become Sam’s number one fan and he wanted to help him get up.
Sam looked up.
“It’s ok Dan, I understand,” he stood up and brushed the sand away with his hands.

“I have to go now Dan,” said Sam, “…but I’ll be back.”
Dan the Bandstand smiled. “That’ll be nice,” he said, just like that.