Spring Break

Today was my last kids’ Buddhist workshop of the Spring term.  I feel so privileged to have been able to spend Wednesday afternoons with such an awesome bunch of children.  Aged between 5 and 10, these children are already so skillful at meditating.  And some of the discussions this term have been so profound that they’ve left me wondering who’s actually teaching who?  I’m sure I’ve learnt as much from them (if not more!) than they have from me.  With children like this around, the future could indeed be very bright

The children also produced some beautiful artwork this term.  Here’s a small selection…

WW Spring Art 2013

Since we’re about to embark on Spring Break, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to do a little work on myself 😉  For the next two weeks, I’m going to unplug (no mobile, iPad, laptop, pc, internet, email, tv) and focus on studying my Buddhist texts, meditating and spending quality time with my boys.

I look forward to catching up with you in a couple of weeks when hopefully I’ll be fully refreshed and revived 🙂

I bid you all a wonderful Spring Break xx

Dharma 4 Kids Festival 2012 & A Chocolate Giveaway!

Hi everyone!

Here’s a few pics that I wanted to share from this year’s Dharma for Kids Festival. We went to this festival for the first time last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to go again. Lil’ L had been looking forward to it all year!

The festival took place at the beautiful Nagarjuna Centre in Kelmarsh, near Northampton (about a 3-hour drive from Bath).

This place has such a relaxed atmosphere. It’s got a fantastic cafe with an outdoor seating area, where M and I love to sit, chat, and drink cappuccinos while Lil’ L’s busy having fun with his friends 🙂

The theme of the festival was ‘You Before Me‘ and, over the course of the weekend, there were workshop sessions, meditations and activities arranged for the children and teenagers based on the theme of ‘kindness’.

There was a dedicated art marquee where the children could make objects that they would like to see in a ‘Kind World’.

They made marzipan tormas and mandala sets out of paper and coloured rice. Here’s the results of Lil’ L’s torma making…

There was table football, table tennis, a karaoke marquee, bouncy castles, and gladiators.

And lots of opportunities for general larking about.

On the Saturday morning, I got a surprise call from my friend Nicky to tell me that her family were ditching their original plans for the day, and were going to join us instead 🙂 They got in their car and drove for 2+ hours simply to spend the afternoon with us (what total stars they are!) Seeing them at the festival made the weekend even more special for me. I wish I’d taken a few pics but I was way too engrossed in the chat. At that point, photography was the last thing on my mind!

We paid for day passes to the festival (M, Lil’ L and I stayed overnight at the nearby Travel Plaza) and I was happy to find that the passes included all meals. The food was fantastic! All veggie of course, which saved us having to sift through the buffet 😉

On the Sunday afternoon, the children had the option of taking part in a drama session, where they enacted ‘The Giving Tree’. I’m sure my American readers will be familiar with this story, but I’d never heard it before.

Lil’ L’s only encounter with the book till that point had been through reading one of the Wimpy Kid books. Apparently the Wimpy Kid is terrified of the author on the back cover. I have to say, I know what he means! You should have seen Lil’ L’s face when he realised that it was that book!


‘The Giving Tree is one of those special stories that has very few words, yet leaves a great impression on the reader. I’m sure everyone that reads the story will have their own take on what it’s all about. Seeing that I tend to read everything from a Buddhist perspective, for me, the story is first and foremost a lesson in where happiness truly comes from. I’m sure there’s also some environmental messages in there. Anyway, I’d be interested to know whether you’ve read this story yourself and what you think of it.

The children at the Buddhist festival acted out the story beautifully. Last week I thought that I’d try it with my Wednesday Workshop kids too. We first read the story using a powerpoint version I found on the Internet, then we watched an animated version from YouTube (there’s many version of the story on YouTube but I thought that this one was well suited to the kids in my groups).

We then acted it out. It was a bit manic but the kids were so enthusiastic and had a whale of a time. We decided that a more suitable title for our version would be ‘The Crazy Tree and Mad Boy’!

Since then, we’ve followed on the ‘giving’ theme in our Wednesday Workshops and, this week, after a beautiful meditation, the children made bookmarks to give to a friend or relative, and I gave each of them a cookie 🙂

It’s Giveaway Time!

Continuing with the ‘giving’ theme, I think it’s about time that I gave something away to you, my lovely blog readers. It’s been a while hasn’t it? Does anyone fancy some of my home-made raw chocolate hearts? You do? Well, I would be very happy to share some with you!

There are four ways that you can enter, and each way counts as a separate entry. So, if you enter all four ways, you’ve quadrupled your chances of winning. Happy days!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment below
  2. Follow me on Twitter (@Goodstuffsharon) and leave a comment below to let me know
  3. Tweet the Giveaway and leave a comment below to let me know
  4. Follow me on Facebook and leave a comment below to let me know

The giveaway is open to everyone, regardless of where you live.

I’ll select a winner at random on Friday, 5th October.

Good luck everyone!

And have a great weekend xx



Sensible Snacking for Kids & Wise Yoda!

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far 🙂

I had lots of fun this afternoon with the kids at my ‘Wednesday Workshops’ (the little Buddhist meditation classes I teach at our local primary school). After a beautiful meditation on ‘the kindness of others’, I thought it’d be fun to watch one of my favourite Star Wars clips.


When it ended, I asked them if they’d learnt anything from watching it. Their hands shot up in the air and they started reeling off the lessons they’d learnt including…

  • Never give up (even if you’re finding something difficult or have already failed in your first few attempts)
  • Don’t get distracted
  • Control your mind
  • Believe in yourself
  • Size doesn’t matter

All that wisdom from watching a 5 minute clip of Yoda! Just imagine how wise they’ll be after they’ve watched all six Star Wars films 😉

After watching the clip, we had great fun making paper fortune tellers and filling them with Yoda quotes and kind messages.

Think you the relationship between Master and Padawan is only to help them?
Oh, this is what we let them believe, yes! But when the day comes that even old Yoda does not learn something from his students – then truly, he shall be a teacher no more.


WIAW – Sensible Snacking … Lil’ L Style!

 This month, the lovely Jenn over at Peas and Crayons has set ‘Sensible Snacking’ as the theme for our weekly ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ foodie parties. I think this is a great theme as it’s all too easy to reach for the junk snacks when we’re feeling a bit peckish. 

For me, the most important thing is making sure that Lil’ L has snacks that are going to sustain his energy levels. On weekdays, he has a morning snack at playtime and an after-school snack. I try to make sure that these snacks contain whole foods, complex carbs and minimal sugar so that his energy levels don’t peak and slump. I also want encourage him to develop healthy snacking habits for the future.

Now that he’s older, I involve him in the decision making about his choice of snacks. Here’s a run down of some of his current favourite snacks (all of which he’s eaten in the past week).

Morning Snacks


  • 2 seeded flatbread crackers with bean pate or houmous filling (his number 1 current favourite snack)
  • 2 wholegrain rice cakes with yeast extract (these taste like the Marmite rice cakes but they have the added bonus of being wholegrain)

  • 2 sesame wholegrain rice cakes with St Dalfour Strawberry spread or Manuka honey filling (the honey was a gift from his grandma!)

  • Packet of wholegrain mini biscuits with no added sugar or salt.

After School Snacks


  • Roasted pistachios nuts (salt free). 


  • Almonds and sunflower seeds roasted in a tiny amount of low-salt soy sauce (recipe here)


  •  Apple cinnamon pancakes with chopped pecans, ground linseed and a drizzle of maple syrup. 
    I make pancakes every Sunday and Lil’ L likes to have the leftover pancakes on a Wednesday before his swimming lesson (warmed in the microwave).

  • Wholemeal choc chip or almond cookie.

We also make a fruit smoothie after school. This week, he’s made smoothies with different combinations of pineappleblueberries , banana and strawberries, non dairy milks and yoghurt, and chia seeds for an omega-3 boost (the seeds are completely obliterated in a high speed blender, so you don’t even notice them).

We’re always on the look out for new snacks, so do let me know if you have any suggestions.
If you have kids, I’d love to hear what their favourite snacks are.
And equally importantly, what’s your current favourite snack?

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone! 🙂 xx

 This time last year: Sugar Free Jam Tarts


WIAW – I’ll Bring the Yummy Veggie Pasties & Roasted Nuts :)

Hi everyone!  I hope you’re having a great week so far 🙂

Here in the UK, the crazy weather continues.  After having the driest 2-year period ever recorded, we’ve now had the wettest April ever recorded.  Talk about one extreme to the other!


In honour of our ‘crazy weather’, this afternoon in my Wednesday Workshops, we did a ‘weather dance’ meditation. This is such a beautiful meditation and one of my favourites 🙂 

We’ve just arrived back home, but soon we’ll be heading to the pool for Lil’ L’s swimming lesson.  However, before we go, I thought I’d sit down with a nice cup of coffee and make an appearance at Jenn’s foodie WIAW party

Here’s a quick run down of what we ate yesterday…

Both M and I had…
– Hot lemon & water
– Bowl of porridge, sprinkled with ground linseed, chopped Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, flaked almonds, goji berries and candied citrus peel (left over from the Christmas cake!)  This was topped with a drizzle of Sweet Freedom Fruit Syrup.

Lil’ L had Ready Brek porridge, with the same toppings as us (minus the dried fruit, which he doesn’t like).

There are so many different non dairy milks available now, we’re getting spoilt for choice!  Lately, many of the milks have been on special offer, so I’ve been stocking up. 

I felt so sorry for the poor Tesco delivery guy that had to hump 30+ cartons along our narrow driveway and up the steps to our front door.  He was still smiling though, bless him!

Lately, M and I have been enjoying making (and eating!) veggie pasties.  I can’t begin to describe how nice these pasties are.  Seriously, they are SO YUMMY!

M and Lil’ L love taking them to work/school for their lunch.  These pasties are seriously huge and we had a bit of trouble finding a lunch box that they would fit in!  I’ve suggested that we should make the pasties a little smaller, but the boys are not having it.  They love their supersize pasties! 

For lunch yesterday I had half a pasty (which was plenty for me).  Then I had the other half today.  They’re so filling that I didn’t feel hungry for hours after.

As soon as I’ve worked out the filling quantities, I’ll post the recipe.  You must try them!

Snacks & Drinks
Nettle tea, water (not enough), 1 black coffee, 1 glass Alpro hazelnut milk, 1 mango smoothie
– Handful soy roasted nuts & almonds 

The soy-roasted almonds and sunflower seeds are still one of our favourite snacks.  Lil’ L absolutely loves them, and often asks if he can take a pot of the seeds to school for a playtime snack.  Last week, he even passed over the offer of some Maltesers for the almonds & seeds instead.  They must be good!  

I always knew that sunflower seeds are good for you, but only recently discovered just how good they are.  Classed as a ‘superfood’, they’re considered to be a good source of protein and ‘good’ fatty acids (the ones that help to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol).  They’re also a rich source of antioxidants (including Vitamin E), B vitamins, folic acid, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium and selenium.

One of Lil’ L’s best friends has tried our soy roasted sunflower seeds and loved them too.  His mum has asked for the recipe, so I thought I’d quickly jot it down here.  They are so simple and quick to make.  They make a great post-school snack, or as a snack to munch on whilst watching films 🙂

By the way, if you regularly eat raw almonds, it’s worth buying them in bulk (if you’ve got the cupboard space).  Indian brands like Natco, East End and Aasani sell them super cheap in large quantitites.  At the moment in Tesco (on the Indian aisle), you’ll find 750g of Aasani Almonds for only £3.99!  So much better value than the tiny own-supermarket brand packets.

I had to make a super quick dinner as I was heading out to my study class, so I opted to make an oriental stir-fry with rice noodles.  I didn’t have a chance to photograph it, but it looked pretty much like this…


While the brown rice noodles were cooking, I stir-fried the veggies in a wok, along with some cashew nuts and half a packet of Cauldron marinated tofu pieces.  To flavour the stir fry, I used 2T Kikkoman reduced salt soy sauce, 2T rice vinegar, 1tsp sugar, and about 1/2 cup vegetable stock.

Dinner was ready in 15 minutes!  We then ate it in about 5 minutes flat, and were out the door.  For once in my life, I wasn’t late for my class!!! 🙂

Well, I’ve just about finished my WIAW entry in time.  The pool awaits!  When I get back, I look forward to having a cuppa, a sit down, and checking out all the beautiful eats over at Jenn’s party 🙂

Happy Wednesday everyone! xx


WIAW – I’ll Bring the Spinach & Cashew Pesto Pasta & Sun-Dried Tomato Humous (with recipe!)

Hi Everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far!

I’ve just got back from another wonderful afternoon with my meditating kids 🙂  Some of these children have only been meditating for 3 weeks, but they’re already so good at it!  I’m sure some of them will be meditation masters by the time they’re 10 😉  

The object of today’s meditation was to teach them a method to calm themselves down whenever they feel negative emotions, like anger, starting to arise within their minds.  We visualised our minds as a blue sky and negative emotions as dark, black clouds.  On the out-breaths, we blew the clouds away until we were left with a crystal clear blue sky, symbolising the return to a calm peaceful, happy state of mind. 


The children were certainly chilled out after the meditation … perhaps some were a little too relaxed.  One girl asked me whether she could lie down on the floor after the meditation and have a little sleep!!  All in all though, it was a great, relaxing, fun afternoon 🙂

I hope you don’t mind me mentioning these meditations in my posts, but they’re helping me to recall what I do with the children in these Wednesday Workshops.  Just like my recipes, most of the meditations are saved in my head, which isn’t a great place for them to stay.  When I get a spare moment, I will start to write them out properly. Until then, the blog post record will have to do!   

In half an hour, Lil’ L and I will be heading to the swimming pool but, before we go, I thought I’d give a quick rundown of today’s eats for the lovely Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) party.  Today’s eats were all leftovers from Sunday, Monday & Tuesday!

Hot lemon water
2 Apple & cinnamon pancakes with a sprinkling of ground flaxseed, chopped pecans and a drizzle of agave syrup. 

Sorry for the old pic, but I had to dash out this morning and didn’t have time to photograph the breakfast! It pretty much looked like this… except I had 2 pancakes rather than 3 (it’s Lil’ L that’s the pancake monster round here!)

 I often make a big batch of pancakes on a Sunday morning and, if any are leftover, we eat them in the week for breakfast or after school snacks. 

On my return from Bristol, I had a quick lunch of wholegrain rice cakes, topped with sun-dried tomato humous, black olives and roasted red peppers. 

Along with Nairn’s Oatcakes, Kallo wholegrain rice cakes are one of our favourite shop-bought snacks.  While I use them for quick lunches, Lil’ L loves to take them to school for his play time snacks.  His current favourite flavour is yeast extract, while I prefer the sesame seed (no salt) version (not pictured as I’ve eaten them all!)

When I read the nutritional blurb on the back of the packet, I was amazed to find that each rice cake only contains 30 calories!

I find them really filling too!  Especially when they’re covered in delicious home made humous 😉  I’ve finally jotted down how I make the sun-dried tomato humous.  It’s so easy and quick!  It only takes me a couple of minutes to whip up enough humous to last us the week.  Sometimes I make a double batch and freeze half for the following week. 

Here’s how I make it:

1 soy cappuccino in Bristol, 1 peppermint & nettle tea, 1 pure apple juice, water

1 sugar free jam tart (left over from yesterday’s study class).  I use St Dalfour fruit spreads as the filling for these tarts.  This spread is deliciously sweet without any added sugar or sweetener. 

I’ve recently started using Chapatti Atta as my wholemeal (wholewheat) flour for pastry making (I found this in the Indian product aisle at Tesco).  It’s got a beautiful texture, with the wheat flakes very finely ground into the flour, making it perfect for pastries.  As an added bonus, it’s way cheaper than the regular wholemeal flour I’ve been buying.  My next mission is to seek out organic chapatti atta but, for now, I’m happy to use this one:

For dinner tonight, we’ve got leftover black bean burgers from Sunday, with a side dish of wholewheat pasta leftover from yesterday, into which I’ve mixed some spinach, basil and cashew nut pesto with a selection of lightly stir-fried vegetables (red pepper, mushroom, red onion, mange tout, courgette (zucchini)) and black olives. I’ve also sprinkled in some pumpkin seeds and Marigold Yeast Flakes with B12 for added goodness.

If I’ve only got a few minutes to make a dinner, pesto pasta is often the one I choose to make.  The pesto only takes a minute to prepare and I find it tastes so much nicer than the shop bought stuff!  Plus, if you make it yourself, you can sneak in lots of extra goodness (like a whole cup of spinach) and reduce the oil content.  I’ll make sure I write down this pesto recipe soon and post it!

For dessert, we’re having the ‘goji yogi surprise’ – apple compote (using our home-grown, over-wintered apples) layered with Alpro natural soy yoghurt and a sprinkling of chopped gojis and nuts.  I haven’t put it together yet, but this is what it looks like:

This month, Jenn’s WIAW parties are going green.   To find out more and get inspired for this month’s eats, click on the image below. 

Time to head to the pool!  Happy Wednesday everyone!  xx

Spring is in the air! The Joys of Blossom… and Living in the Moment!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend! 🙂

On Saturday we had glorious weather in Bath, so I took the opportunity to get out into the garden and do some tidying up.  It was so warm that we even managed to eat our lunch outside 🙂

It really does feel like Spring has arrived in Bath.  The crocuses and primroses are popping up everywhere in our little garden…

along with the daffodils and cute little narcissus 🙂


One of my favourite things about Springtime is blossom.  Trees look so severe in Wintertime without their leaves, but come Springtime, their bare branches are covered in the most delicately coloured, beautiful flowers that are an absolute joy to see.

One of my favourite types of blossom is found on the japonica tree. 

This tree is situated outside Lil’ L’s bedroom, and it’s such a nice sight to be greeted with as  I open his curtains first thing in the morning.

To reach school, we have to walk up a very steep hill.  Even though I consider myself to be pretty fit, I’m totally out of breath as I reach the top!  But what I focus on as I’m climbing (and huffing and puffing!) is the cherry tree that marks the end of the hill.  This tree is absolutely glorious at the moment… 

with the most beautiful blossom 🙂

And check out how blue the sky was on the school run today!

 In last week’s Wednesday Workshop (a little primary school Buddhist class that I teach each Wednesday) we read the story of the Four Princesses and the Kingshuk Tree (a beautiful story!) and I used the example of blossom to teach the children about impermanence and the importance of living in the moment.  Most of us are so busy in our lives, with our heads filled with a million and one thoughts and plans, that we risk losing sight of all the beauty that surrounds us in our natural environment.  When we do live in the moment, everything becomes brighter, clearer, more beautiful.

Time to enjoy the blossom… it’ll be gone before we know it!

Has Spring arrived where you live?  What’s your favourite thing about this season?