Kids and kindness

Dear Claire.


Happy summer! I  think this is the week when the children break up from school in the UK, though they’ve been out here for a few weeks already. Which means we’re at that moment when, after those first heady days of the holidays, comes a question that I’m sure you’ll recall: ‘What can I do?’

I just read an article in Parents Magazine here that had several inspiring answers to that question, and also speaks to the mission of our blog: How to Raise Happy Kids: Commit Acts of Kindness.

Another popular activity here for kids is to set up a lemonade stand. It’s a fun way for them to get outside, learn a few business skills, earn a little pocket money for themselves … and I know a few families where the kids pick a charity to donate half their profits to. There are plenty of helpful articles online about how to set up a stand, but I quite like this one: So You Want to Start a Lemonade Stand.

Of course, it’s just the ticket for someone who needs a little refreshment after a walk in the park, and the perfect opportunity to sell some of your bake sale brownies, too!


PS We’re off on our trip to Italy soon, so will look forward to catching up again when we’re back.

Bake Sale Brownies

Dear Sam,

It is very difficult to find the words to respond to some of the things which are happening in the world at the moment, isn’t it? All of us in the UK are still recovering from the incident in London last week; today everyone is talking about the result of yesterday’s election and what that may mean for the future.  I think you are absolutely right that in times like this we need to focus on goodness and kindness and to draw closer to each other not move further apart.

For today’s post I’d planned to share a recipe with you and recent events have made me realise that sometimes getting on with an absorbing, homely task like baking can be a good thing to do when you’re a bit overwhelmed by the news.  Adding some happy music in the background while you work helps, too, I find.

I’ve called the recipe Bake Sale Brownies as it’s my fail-safe option when I need to produce something to be sold at a charity fundraiser or event. I am definitely under the curse of recipes going horribly wrong when you need them to work for an important occasion, so I like to do something I know won’t let me down. Here’s all you need to know if you’d like to give them a try:

125g butter

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 eggs

6 tablespoons self-raising flour

1 x 100g bag of choc chips- milk, white or dark

250g sugar


4oz or 1 stick  butter

1/2 cup cocoa powder (not hot chocolate)

2 eggs

2 cups self-raising flour

1 x 3.5oz. bag of choc chips- milk, white or dark

1  1/4 cups sugar


Heat the oven to Gas 4/ 180C/350F.

Grease and line a 20 x 25cm /8in x 10in. baking dish.

Mix the eggs and sugar together.  Melt the butter in a saucepan with the sieved cocoa powder.  Allow to cool slightly, then add to the sugar and egg mixture and stir gently.

Sieve the  flour over the top of the mixture and fold in; do not overmix. Add the chocolate chips, combine well and pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Bake for 35 minutes.  When they come out of the oven, the brownies will be squishy in the centre but will firm up as they cool.  When cold enough, cut into even portions. Decorate, for example with icing (powdered) sugar as shown in picture, or with white chocolate piping in a pattern or wording relevant to the charity event.

You can sell the brownies individually or box them up in sixes for more profit! They freeze well, so you can bake batches ahead of time if you need to make a large quantity. Don’t forget to save a few to enjoy at home with a cup of tea.

Much love,



Souper Bowl

Dear Claire,

What a wonderful volunteer opportunity in Dementia Friends, and one dear to your heart, I know. I love all the different ways you can choose to participate. I checked to see whether there’s an initiative over here – and there is. Take a look at Dementia Friends USA. They are literally just beginning to put state licenses in place, so there’s rather a long way to go to match your numbers. Let’s hope it takes off!

On a very different note, I thought of you this past week when I saw a news story on the Six Nations Rugby tournament. We had the Super Bowl here last month. It won’t come as much of surprise to you that I’m not exactly a devotee of American football, but what was interesting was something they did at J’s school to benefit our Western New York food bank. They put two large bins in the entrance lobby, each representing one of the teams in the Super Bowl. Every child was asked to bring in a can of soup to deposit in the bin of the team they thought would win. As it turned out, it was a virtual tie between the two teams… quite the prediction, when you think that for the first time in Super Bowl history the teams did in fact tie and had to go into overtime! Anyway, I thought this was a clever idea for any group who might want to collect food donations for a food bank or shelter or another cause. They called it the “Souper Bowl” 😊.

You’d need something different in the UK, of course. Perhaps the Canned National (groan)! Not quite sure what you’d do with the Six Nations!

With love,


PS Guess how much food the students collected  for the food bank? A whopping 2000 lbs! So the principal rewarded the students with a late-start day, which just happened to be the day after everyone stayed up to watch the game….