Archives for February 2014

Monster making and birthday baking

The end of this week has seen the return of the rain so we’ve been doing a bit more indoor activity. As we’ve been out and about a lot lately, it’s actually made a pleasant change for us!

This morning we made an egg box monster, inspired by CBeebies Mister Maker. We actually didn’t have anything needed for the things he made on the show but Mushroom said “let’s make a Mister Maker thing! Let’s paint!” So I went through the recycling and we improvised.

We painted the outside of the box purple.

2014-02-28 09.08.55

Mushroom wanted to mix colours together so this was also a good teaching opportunity. He knew we needed red but couldn’t remember if it was blue or green we added to make purple and needed reminding.

2014-02-28 09.07.05

Then  I suggested we painted the inside red for the mouth. Mushroom told me ‘no, it’s pink,’ and showed me his tongue. Of course, he was right so we did some more mixing – this time red, white and a sort of clear sparkly pink, which made a lovely coral colour

2014-02-28 10.43.05

Once dry, we added eyes, teeth and voila! An egg box monster!

2014-02-28 17.00.41

Birthday baking

Also in this week’s indoor activity, we volunteered to make Grandma’s birthday cake!

It’s a simple sponge recipe, with added choc chips and peppermint essence. It was supposed to be green but we didn’t use enough food colouring so we covered it with chocolate buttercream icing and topped it with sprinkles.

Grandma cake

We did also manage to get out and about a little, with Mushroom riding his bike to the shop to buy the ingredients!

2014-02-27 10.08.31

Those googles again… He’s very attached! This weekend we did actually go swimming so they were used as intended for once!


Silent Sunday

The street


1 Comment

Nature in the city 7: The ship’s coming in

I’ve mentioned Leyton’s Jubilee Park several times now. Along with Coronation Gardens it’s one of our favourite places to find nature in the city. This week, as we finally saw a bit of sun we decided to make the most of it! Also, Mushroom’s cousins, who at 10 and 12, are a bit young for the kiddie park on the corner, were with us for the day today and we wanted to take them somewhere local that they hadn’t visited before.

The park can be accessed via the main road but we decided to take the more natural route…

Wait for me, girls!

Wait for me, girls!

We ran across the open field and Mushroom enjoyed scrambling up the muddy bank…

Climbing the muddy bank


Once we got to the park we saw something new had been added…

Our ship is coming!

Our ship is coming!

It’s not quite finished but Mushroom and I are very excited about playing on this ship in the next few weeks – he loves ships and he’s especially excited about the red tunnel slide. Red is his favourite colour and he loves tunnel slides. However, the current one is a bit too big for him (this climbing frame is aimed at children over 9)…

Can I get up this way? No...

Can I get up this way? No…

But he managed to find a way to get up there!

...but I can get a lift up this way!

…but I can get a lift up this way!

Mushroom ‘persuaded’ his cousins to take up him over and over and over…

There was a lot of laughing and screaming and we all had a great afternoon enjoying what looks like it might be the start of spring, heading home only when the sun started to set…


…and Mushroom fell asleep at 8.30. Result!

I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


The Mummy-Tag Meme

I was tagged in a bloggers meme on Monday by Mummygadgetgeek to answer some questions all about being a Mum… I enjoyed reading her answers so thought I’d have a go myself, just in case anyone is interested!

So, here goes…

1. Are you a Stay at Home Mum, or a Working Mum?  A bit of both! I work 2.5 days in an office, do a little freelance writing and coaching (yes that is a shameless plug!) and spend some quality time with Mushroom on my ‘SAHM days.’

2. Would you have it any other way? I think I have a nice balance at the moment but would eventually like to work for myself full-time, so that I can have the flexibility to work around Mushroom when he’s at school. But we’ve got a year and a half until then so let’s see what happens!

3. Do you co-sleep? No. Well, not usually. Mushroom has been in his own room since he was quite young as he and Mr B are both very restless sleepers and just kept waking each other up. And I didn’t sleep at all. However, if he wakes in the early hours of the morning, or is sick, he gets in with us and stays there.

4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?  Muslins. You can never have enough of them and we still use them for everything from cleaning up after accidents when we’re out and about (we wash/use wipes first!) to as a sunshade in the summer (all five days of it).

5. How many kids do you plan on having? Well we planned to try for one and see what happened. We got Mushroom and feel very blessed to have him! For now, he’s my one and only…

6. Date night? How many nights per month? Haha! Actually going out? It’s probably once every few months but we have movie nights at home more often and try to at least eat dinner together most nights (even if it is in front of the TV!).

7. Your childs favourite show? Ben and Holly, Peppa Pig and Bubble Guppies. It varies but current favourite is Bubble Guppies. It’s mine too – at half an hour I get to do stuff! Or we watch it together… Did you know elephants are Pachyderms? The Bubble Guppies do, and now so does Mushroom! And then there’s the catchy in-show tunes… It even has rap “Come on everybody line up line up…”

8. Name one thing you bought before you had your baby and never ended up using? Nothing! Not that I remember anyway. We actually ended up buying more stuff that we hadn’t thought of after he was born.

9. Your child’s favourite food? Mushroom will eat anything but has a particularly sweet tooth so his favourite would be a toss up between chocolate and ‘sweeties.’ On the healthier side, he loves mangoes, grapes, noodles and olives. But not at the same time.

10. How many cars does your family have? None. We walk, or take the bus or train most of the time but do take the occasional taxi. Mr B used to have a car but I still can’t drive! I started taking lessons when pregnant with Mushroom but got too big and have not gone back to my lessons since he was born. It’s on my list to do if/when we get another car, which is highly likely if we move out of London at some point.

11. Weight gain before pregnancy, during and after and now? Before pregnancy, I had just lost almost two stone and it took me two years… So when my pregnancy weight gain reached two stone I stopped paying attention. After Mushroom was born I lost a stone overnight! Breastfeeding saw to the rest and then some but I have put it all back on now, and more. I probably need to do something about that, my clothes are getting a bit (all right, a lot) tight.

12. Dream holiday with your kids? Mushroom has never been abroad – he’s not even been to the seaside yet so a beach holiday where he can swim in the sea and meet other kids his age would  be perfect for his first holiday – which we hope to do this year! Later, I think something more adventurous would suit him better and I would love to go back to places I’ve been to show him and see them with fresh eyes.

13. Dream holiday without your kids? My honeymoon is Malaysia was my dream holiday pre-Mushroom and I’d love to go back. Before that my favourite holidays were in Morocco and Sri Lanka. There are so many places I would still like to visit – I guess my dream, if time and money were unlimited, would be to travel the world

14. How has your life changed since your baby has been born? I might seem stressed out often but I’m actually a lot more laid back than I was. I have less time but am more focused than I was when I had all the time in the world to make things happen (what was I doing with all that time?). I am worse off financially but emotionally, I feel extremely wealthy.

15. Finish the sentence: ‘It makes my heart melt to see …’ Mushroom taking care of his friends and family, and even his toys. When he says things like ‘Chicky (favourite soft toy) is a bit sad today. She needs a cuddle,’ then puts her down and says ‘don’t touch her Mummy, she’s a bit too sick. She’s my baby. I come back with medicine in minute.’ He’ll make a great daddy one day.

16. Where do you shop for your kids? I buy most of Mushrooms clothes from markets and supermarkets but if we’re splashing out we’ll go to Next or TK Maxx. Mushroom prefers Next, he loves to go and even asks to try things on! he can spend ages there – just like Daddy (I’m not so big on shopping). TK Maxx is more of a challenge as he likes to run around and play ‘hide and seek.’ Not ideal.

17. Favourite makeup and skincare products? Make-up? Haha! I spashed out on some Dior for my wedding day and have barely used it since. For day to day use, I keep it simple with E45 cream and vaseline. That’s it. I might wear bronzer, a bit of lip gloss and mascara if I’m going out but I’m not fussed on brands.

18. Huggies or Pampers? For nappies it was Pampers but once we went to pull-ups we switched loyalties. However, we have tried several supermarket brands and found them to be a close second so only bought the named brands if they were on special offer.

19. Have you always wanted kids? Yes. And I am very thankful for Mushroom, I never assumed it would be a given.

20. Best part about being a Mum? The chance to see everything for the first time all over again and the constant reminder to try be a better person, for his sake and mine. Also, a different understanding of our capacity (as humans) for love.

And now it’s my turn to tag… MummymishapsRedpeffer and  TheBoyandMe … You’re it!


A wet and windy week

The weather has been terrible lately and Mushroom and I have both had throat infections so a lot of time has been spent indoors, either here at home or at his Auntie’s house (I made it to work but Mushroom was off nursery) so when we both started to feel a little better, we made a point of getting outside!

Yesterday, we headed to Coronation Gardens and just ran around the bandstand, with Mushroom ‘making footprints,’ and laughing as the wind ‘pushed me running Mummy!’ Then the wind picked up and blew his buggy over so we decided to head home, with Mushroom commenting. ‘Thunder coming. Like Ben and Holly.’ He was right, a storm was brewing and we just missed being caught out in it!

Making footprints on the bandstand

Making footprints on the bandstand

Today we spotted a sliver of sunshine after lunch so ran out to the local park to run around and climb the climbing frame.

Climbing frame

Mushroom loves the slide and had a few goes before it started pouring with rain! I hadn’t brought his waterproofs but he seemed ok at first so I said nothing…

Wishing we'd brought the waterproofs!

Wishing we’d brought the waterproofs!

Then he complained about having wet trousers and declared that it felt ‘yucky.’ So I asked him what we should do and he said ‘Go back home,’ and sighed heavily. Then suddenly the sky cleared again and he shouted ‘Come on, let’s run!’


By the time we’d changed his trousers it was pouring down (again!) and he said he was too tired to go back out (he was, he fell asleep early today!) but I’m glad we made it out, if only for a short time. To find out who else braved the weather (and worse than rain!), check out Coombe Mill’s blog by clicking on the image below.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Happy Valentines’ Day

…to all of my lovely readers.

We don’t go all out on Valentine’s day but Mushroom and I did make Mr B a special lunchbox for work this morning (he usually makes his own sandwiches as he gets up so early (yes, even earlier than Mushroom most days!)…

Valentine's lunchbox

As he starts work early, he usually gets home for around 4 when he has a cup of tea. So we made him something to go with it (he’s not keen on icing so we got creative with the decoration)…

Valentine's cake


I wrote more on my thoughts about today over at my other blog, Honest Speaks. Why don’t you head over there and read ‘It’s the little things’ now? You can hear me reading some of my poetry and everything. And it mentions chocolate.

What have you been up/do you have planned for today?


Buttery raspberry and toasted almond cake

On a recent rainy day, I asked Mushroom what he would like to do (I know, a dangerous question!). His response was simply ‘Make cake Mummy.’ So we did.

We had some blueberries and raspberries left over so I looked up a few recipes online to see what we could do with them and then, as usual… We made up our own.

Here’s what we used (ingredients are approximate):

125 grams/half a cup of butter or margarine

75 grams/just under a third of a cup of caster sugar

2 eggs

375 grams/one and a half cups self-raising flour

120mls/half a cup of milk (or almond milk for a more almondy flavour

Roughly 400g (one average supermarket pack) fresh blueberries (optional) and raspberries – the raspberries are pretty important 😉

Here’s what we did:

  • Mix the butter and sugar until creamy
  • Add the eggs and stir
  • Add half the flour and half the milk and whisk – we used an electric mixer for this but it’s not necessary, Mushroom just likes it
  • Add the remaining flour and whisk
  • Add the blueberries to the mixture and stir. No more whisking – unless you would like blue cake (which would be pretty cool! But we wanted the keep the blueberries whole so they burst in your mouth later), then whisk away!


Pour half the mixture into a cake tin (greased and/or lined with baking paper) then scatter raspberries on top and squeeze a little honey over them

2014-01-24 10.31.51

Add the remaining mixture to cover the raspberries (don’t worry if it doesn’t quite cover them, they will sink to the bottom anyway) and scatter with flaked almonds

2014-01-24 10.36.02

Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees/Gas mark 4

2014-01-24 11.16.39

Eat while warm!

2014-01-24 12.49.17




Mushroom’s maritime adventure

On Sunday, Mushroom and I spent the morning at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich with Auntie L and Uncle S.

We had originally planned to go to celebrate the Chinese New Year as we’d read on the website that there were family activities and a Lion Dance happening but when we arrived it turned out we’d got our dates wrong and this is in fact taking place during the half-term week. That didn’t stop us having fun though!

NMM entrance

The Museum is very family friendly with a whole floor created especially for kids (The Children’s Gallery). It’s interactive and eye level is just right (well ok, a little above) for Mushroom, who especially enjoyed driving a ship to New York (it’s a simulator – but one that’s easier to walk away from if you’re feeling a little ‘seasick,’ perfect for Mushroom who usually gets scared in simulators and suffers from terrible motion sickness!) and drawing a picture of a boat to leave on the wall for posterity (or til they take it down at the end of the day).

He had the most fun though, when we all stopped to cool down with a quick drink (it’s hot in there!). Just below the kids area, on the ‘Upper Deck,’ there’s a Paul’s bakery and the floor outside is painted with a map of the world (The Great Map). Plenty of kids were simply running around letting off steam and Mushroom was no exception.

NMM World map


That is, until he spotted a boat making it’s way across the Atlantic. It turned out you could ‘hire’ these (it’s free, you just have to sign them out) so Auntie L did the honours and together they navigated their way across North Asia…

NMM - Sailing across N Asia

Before we headed home, Mushroom insisted on rustling up a snack in the ship’s kitchen…

2014-02-02 12.07.47

He started to get a bit possessive when other children came along though, declaring it was ‘his’ kitchen and they couldn’t ‘sit there,’ so after a couple of warnings we decided it best to distract him and we left shortly afterwards for a lovely long pub lunch.

If you’re in Greenwich then it’s one of many attractions that are well worth a visit. The only (very minor) thing I didn’t like was the donation sign in the entrance hall. It states ‘Please Donate,’ and gives a price (£3 if I remember correctly). Surely the whole point of a donation is that it’s optional and you can give as much or as little as you can afford? I mean, I know we’re lucky to get free admission to many of our museums in the UK and it’s definitely worth an admission fee (more than they suggest, to be honest) but the sign could feel a bit guilt inducing. My preference would be that it states either an admission fee, or clearly indicates that the amount listed is a suggested donation. Like I said though, it’s really quite a minor thing.

The Lion Dance takes place as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations on Saturday 15 February, when the museum will be hosting a day of workshops and performances about how trade by sea brought people and cultural celebrations from Asia to Britain. We’re in Greenwich this weekend so not sure we’ll go again next week but if we do maybe we’ll see you there!

Mums do travel

Disclosure: This is not a paid review. The National Maritime Museum is free to visit (but there is that big donate sign) and we just wanted to share our thoughts as we had a lot of fun! Opinions are mine (Mushroom’s Mum) and Mushroom’s own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 

No Comments

Nothing but crunchy goodness

A couple of week’s ago I read a few comments on my twitter feed about Nothing But snacks and I liked the sound of what I read so I headed over the Nothing But’s website to find out more. It turned out that these snacks are simply freeze dried vegetables. No additives, just plain and simple veggies.

The only freeze dried food I’ve tried before was ice cream from the science museum and I wasn’t sure about that but the idea of freeze dried vegetables intrigued me. Mushroom and I love veggies as snacks but of course it’s not always practical to carry them around. I thought that these might be the answer! So I asked to try some. Nothing But kindly obliged and sent us samples of the Mange Tout & Red Pepper and the Sliced Beetroot and Parsnip flavours.

Nothing But

The package arrived this week and it was almost lunchtime so Mushroom and I decide to try them as a starter!

We opened the first pack and inspected the contents…

Nothing But red pepper and mange tout

Mushroom couldn’t decide which to try first so took both packets and tried them all at once!

Nothing But.. Both bags!

‘Ooooh crunchy!’

He especially liked the red pepper, declaring ‘[it’s a] little bit sweet…’

We also had fun with the packaging that Nothing But sent the samples in!

Nothing But.. Packaging!

Yes but would we buy them?

Yes, probably but how often does depend on how pricey they are – multipacks would be great if they are available. In terms of taste, first impressions are good – I enjoyed them even more than I thought I would! Handy, healthy and tasty, I would definitely buy them for that 3pm slump at work. However, I’m not sure about Mushroom. He was enthusiastic in the morning but in the afternoon I offered them again and he asked for ‘proper crisps not vegetables.’ Perhaps he just wanted something different though so I will try him with them again as they’re perfect when you’re out and about and want to offer a healthy snack that won’t ruin your toddler’s tea (or teeth!).

Disclosure: We received some samples free of charge but were under no obligation to review. Opinions are mine (Mushroom’s Mum) and Mushroom’s own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here. 

No Comments

Silent Sunday

Climbing high




Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall