Archives for October 2014

A new kind of fast food: Cup-cakes

Ok, so they’re not really new. But Mushroom loves to bake and I tend to eat more than my share of the results so we’ve not done much baking recently.

When I was looking online for a recipe that would give us smaller portions, I came across a few for microwave cakes that can be made in a cup. I wasn’t sure about using the microwave but thought it would be worth a try, and knew Mushroom would appreciate the novelty!

If you’d like to try it for yourself, just follow the steps below:

You will need:

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One table spoon of each: Self-raising flour, honey or chocolate spread (we used a teaspoon of each), one egg (missing from the photo!) and half a banana (or fruit of your choice. We’ve since made cakes with strawberries and blueberries)


Mix together in a cup (preferably a mug as it will rise to about three times the height of the mixture!

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Pop in the microwave for 2 mins (max – keep an eye on it!)

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If you want to be a bit fancy you could also put them in ramekins… but we like the fun factor of eating out of a cup!

The result was a little dry but not too awful, considering it’s a microwave cake! It was better than I expected and makes for a quick and tasty treat if you’re stuck for a last minute dessert idea. Mushroom and I liked ours with custard, which helps to combat the dryness a little.

If you try making microwave cup-cakes, do let us know how they turn out!



Don’t think about chocolate cake!

Ok, hands up those of you who didn’t think about chocolate cake after reading that title?

Did you put your hand up…? Liar.

Often when we hear a command, our brains will ignore the don’t, and focus on what it is we’re being asked not to do…. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

I know, the picture doesn’t make it easy..!

I remember reading somewhere ages ago that this was why the old ‘Don’t drink and drive’ signs were changed, as people seeing the sign were thinking ‘Oh I fancy a drink,’ as it put the thought into their heads. However, the fact that out brains can mute the ‘don’t’ was never more apparent to me than when I gave birth and the midwife said (I later realised) “Don’t push.” Luckily, I checked. “Push?” I asked, ready to go. “NO!” the midwife, Mr B and my sister all shouted. That was pretty important. Had she said ‘Hold on,” or “wait” instead, there would have been no confusion.

So, if it’s so easy for us as adults to ignore the ‘don’t,’ what about our kids? The other day Mr B, Mushroom and I were out for dinner. Mushroom kept climbing up on his seat. “Don’t put your feet on the chairs,” Mr B and I were saying repeatedly, while Mushroom happily ignored us, reaching out for the candle burning in the centre of the table. As I saw the danger signs, I remembered. “Mushroom, that candle is hot! Stay back to stay safe.” He shrank back. “Will it hurt me a lot?” I nodded. “Yes. Oh, and Mushroom? Sit nicely on your bottom please.” No more feet on seats. I need to remember to drop the ‘don’t’ more often.

Try dropping the ‘Don’t

Here are some suggested substitutions:

For: Don’t run into the road!

Try: Walk on the pavement next to me, please

For: Don’t touch the oven!

Try: The oven is very hot, so stay a safe distance away, ok?

For: Stop whining!

Try: Could you talk more clearly please? Then I can understand you better (the answer can still be ‘No!’)

For: Stop fidgeting!

Try: Shall we go to the park? (Sometimes they just have to move!)

For: Don’t be rude/use bad words (It’s a phase! I hope…)

Try: Talk nicely please/what could you say instead of that word? (Mushroom likes ‘Oh my goodness,’ which started as a result of him ‘trying out’ the word ‘shit!’ when he’s annoyed. Can’t think where he heard that…)

For: Stop hitting!

Try: Be gentle

And I’m sure you can come up with (or already use) more that are much more relevant to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect (really. It even says so in my tagline). I say “don’t…” often enough myself, especially when I’m under stress, even though I know it’s not usually going to be effective (although “don’t do that” can sometimes work as the words emphasise the ‘don’t’ rather than whatever it is he’s doing). However, when I am more mindful of the words I use, I find that he responds much better.

How often do you say ‘don’t’? And how effective do you find it?



Down the Rabbit Hole

Once upon a time there was a Mummy and a Mushroom. Although they loved all the usual places they visited locally, they were always on the lookout for somewhere new to make friends and eat cake.

One day, Mushroom and his Mummy tumbled down a Rabbit Hole* and found themselves in a weird and wonderful new place. Was it a shop? Was it a cafe? Or was it a playgroup? Mushroom certainly wasn’t sure…

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Look Mummy, a pretend baby! Is that a real shop..?

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Then he saw something else that made him stop.

A little garden with a gate…

What a great idea!
Somewhere to play that keeps the babies near
They keep the gate closed so the babies stay inside
And don’t mess with the big kids’ toys outside!

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Like the kitchen where Mushroom pretended to bake
Or the book corner where he couldn’t decide which one to take!

There was also hot chocolate
The magical kind…
A spicy one for grown-ups…
“And,” said Mushroom, “this one’s all mine!”

Whatever this place was they agreed
This melt in the mouth brownie what just what they needed!

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*This poem/story was inspired by our recent visit (our first, and long overdue!) to The Rabbit Hole in Stratford. We were not asked to write a review but loved it so much we wanted to share.


More thoughts: It’s a bit of a strange location but worth making your way down there. There is plenty going on, especially for younger children (Mushroom is a little old for some of the events now, unfortunately). Check out the Facebook page to find out what’s new and if you do pop down, make sure you say hi to the owner Nicci – she’s lovely!


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Conversations with Mushroom #3: Taking the Mickey

It’s bedtime. Mushroom does not like bedtime. Actually, that’s not true. He loves the bath, the stories, the cuddles… He hates the bit where he’s supposed to go to sleep. Some nights I have the patience for it. This was not one of them. After complaining of hunger, needing the toilet, feeling to hot, to cold… You name it. He tried it… He then went back to ‘I’m hungry Mummy.’ I’d had enough and wasn’t very gracious about it. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: Mushroom. Are you taking the p… taking the Mickey?

Mushroom: What?

Me: Don’t say ‘what,’ say ‘pardon’. And I said: Are you taking the Mickey out of me? Hungry, really? Again?

Mushroom: *gets out of bed*

Me: (furious) What do you think you’re doing?

Mushroom: *picking up Mickey Mouse soft toy from his chair* You told me to get Mickey out for you!


Mushroom: (confused) You said: Are you getting Mickey out for me..? Here. *hands me Mickey*


Mushroom: I’m hungry Mummy. Are you listening me?




Finally we see Frozen | From Mushroom’s mouth

Until last week, Mummy hadn’t seen Frozen. Wait a sec, let me say that again:

Until last week Mummy hadn’t seen Frozen!

I mean the Disney movie of course. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about… Well… I mean, you’re online, right? How can you not? You must have at least heard about it! I have watched it at nursery but only managed to catch bits of it so far so when Mummy said that the people at* had asked if she would like a copy to review I said ‘say yes!’

In case you haven’t seen it, Frozen is a princess movie – but not the sort you grown-ups used to watch as kids where the princess had to wait for a man to come and rescue her from whatever trouble she’d managed to get herself into. Elsa takes care of herself and also… She can sing! I could listen to her all day.

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When the film first came out Mummy wasn’t that keen and didn’t bother taking me to see it but lately, I think my incessant singing of ‘Let it Go’ has worn her down. So she caved, saying “well I suppose I’ll find out what all the fuss is about now.”

When the DVD arrived Mummy announced it was movie night. Yay! That’s when we make popcorn and I get to stay up late and watch a family film after my bath. Sometimes I fall asleep and don’t even have to brush my teeth. It’s also quality time with Mummy and Daddy. Gotta love that.

So, I finally watched the whole film in one sitting and learned that people are not always what they seem, snowmen can sing too (who knew?) and true love comes in many forms.

When the film had finished, Mummy said “Ah, ok I get it now.” She thought I was asleep but I wasn’t. I was just pretending so I didn’t have to brush my teeth so when I heard her singing ‘Let it Go’ as the credits rolled I joined in. Big mistake. Of course she made me brush my teeth and wash my face after that. Can’t a brother get a break… For one night? *sigh*



* help thousands of users track product prices and discover great discounts, like this DVD for £10, against the usual RRP of £14. price drop

You can continue to track this product for any further price drops here.


*Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Frozen for the purposes of this review. All views are our own. Read the full PR and disclosure policy here.

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Spot A Lot – Animal Escape | A Parragon book buddies review

Mushroom loves reading. He loves having stories read to him, ‘reading’ by himself and his idea of a perfect rainy morning activity is time spent choosing a new book at the library.

So, back in June when I spoke to Parragon Books at BritMums 2014 and they asked whether Mushroom and I would be interested in becoming  ‘book buddies,’ I jumped at the chance. A new book to read EVERY month? Yes please!

The first book arrived last week. Recognising what it was as soon as Mushroom brought the heavy envelope in to me (he loves collecting the post. It’s one of his ‘jobs’), I told him it was for him and let him open it.

Opening the envelope

His face when he saw it was a new book! September’s book was

Spot A Lot – Animal Escape

Spot A Lot Animal Escape

There’s trouble at the zoo today… The animals have run away!

A really interactive book, Spot A Lot tells the story of a zookeeper trying to round up all the animals who have escaped from the zoo. Not just a story, it also gave Mushroom the opportunity to show off his ‘noticing’ skills and practice his numbers, as we looked for all the animals and helped the zookeeper to count them and make sure they were all there.

Counting elephants

Counting elephants

There was a turtle on every page, which Mushroom loved being the first to spot (every time)!

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We spent a good half an hour reading this book, talking about the animals – referring to our recent visit to London zoo – and spotting the turtle. There are also little instructions on each page of other obscure things to look for – the dog in the white hat, the bunny rabbits with swimming hats on… We really enjoyed the book – Mushroom so much so that as soon as we’d finished he said ‘Again Mummy, again!’

I’d recommend this book, especially if you have a child who struggles to sit still and/or needs help with learning their numbers as it’s so absorbing and is a fun way to practise counting without thinking too much about it. One warning though: Maybe not a wise choice for bedtime! Mushroom got far too excited to go to sleep after reading this so we’re keeping it as a daytime book.

A new book Mummy!

A new book Mummy!

Do any of you make the distinction between daytime and bedtime books? Or is it just us?

Disclosure: Mushroom and I are Parragon Book Buddies and receive a new book to read and review each month. All views are our own. Read my full PR and disclosure policy here.




Lions and Tigers and… Penguins! | From Mushroom’s mouth

This summer, Mummy and Daddy took me to the zoo for the first time. They were very excited about this and kept saying I would see ‘Lions and tigers and bears.. Oh My!’ I still don’t know what the ‘Oh My’ is about but Mummy said one day I’ll watch a movie and I’ll get it. Whatever.



So. We got to the train station and then it was a looooong walk to the zoo. We walked through a lovely park and I wanted to stay there and play but Mummy and Daddy seemed to be in a rush to get to the zoo. What’s the big hurry? The animals aren’t going anywhere (are they…?).  Anyway. I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The first thing I saw when I entered the park was a giant gorilla. I asked if I was allowed to touch him as he was staying very still so it seemed safe. Mummy laugh and said he wasn’t real. I don’t like it when Mummy laughs at me, it’s not nice.

'Feeding' the Gorilla

I ignored Mummy and stuck my hand in his mouth. He didn’t bite.

We walked around the zoo, starting with some big birds. I liked the eagles but they kept flying off where I couldn’t see them and the small birds were bit boring. Where were the lions and tigers and bears I’d been promised? “Soon,” they told me. There are a lot of animals in the zoo. We stopped to look at some monkeys. That was funny. They were running and jumping on the trees like I do on the sofa at home…

As we turned from the monkeys to go and find some lions, I was distracted by a giant sign…. Penguins!! I love penguins! I was so excited I could hardly get the words out… ‘Mummy, Mummy… P.. P…Pengiun Penguin!’ I shouted, dragging her across to Penguin Beach (there was no sand. Is is still a beach?).

Flying penguin

It was brilliant. We watched the penguins diving under the water (like me at swimming! I go under the water too, sometimes) to catch their fish ice lollipops for their lunch. The big birds kept diving in too, to steal some. I enjoyed watching them for quite a long time but the lady who was talking about them talked for a lot longer. Too long, if you ask me! No-one did but I made it clear. Also, she kept talking about the penguin babies but there weren’t any! Mummy said they had grown up… So why talk about them then? I didn’t get it. Time to go!

We went looking for the lions but they weren’t there. Mummy said maybe they were taking a nap and I was a bit disappointed until I saw a cheetah slink by… I thought they were tigers at first but Mummy explained the difference (not very well. I’m not sure she knows enough about them) and then showed me a tiger. I liked the tigers more and wanted to see the babies but they were hiding! Maybe it was naptime for all the big cats…

We saw LOADS more animals: Giraffes, okapi (the giraffes’ cousins), hippos (I loved the pygmy hippos!), zebras, camels, more monkeys, sloths, loads of cool night animals (it was a bit dark in there. I didn’t stay too long) even fish and bugs!

By the time we got to the gorillas it was naptime so I got a quick look but fell asleep on Daddy as soon as he picked me up. I did play with the pretend ones outside first though. I like gorillas.

I had a great day at the zoo and loved learning about all the animals while I was there. Mummy said I can go back one day. I can’t wait.


What? I like bees too.

What? I like bees too.

This post is part of Flashback Friday over at Mummy Mishaps. Flashbacks can be any time, from the past week to several years ago and can be about you, your partner, your children or your friends. We are also linking up to Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids . Click on the images below to find out more.


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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall