Never Miss a Beat

Autumn And A Year In The Secret Garden

Oftentimes, when people hear the phrase “exploring The Secret Garden,” it bring about visions of summer fun, butterflies, frogs, and of course, gardens.



But what if we told you that the award-winning book A Year In The Secret Garden by Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters was not “just a summertime book.”


This amazing book is filled with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes and step-by-step crafts; all of which are designed to get kids off of electronics and families creating together.



A Year in the Secret Garden will gift your family with 200 color illustrations and photos that puts a modern-day spin on a classic children’s book. Dive deeper into Frances Hodgson Burnett’s story with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes and step-by-step crafts; all of which are designed to get kids off of electronics and families creating together.



Here are some examples of autumn-ish activities and recipes that will encourage learning and hours of FUN.


One of the tasty treats in A Year in the Secret Garden is Porridge with Treacle. I’m sure all of you are wondering what the heck that is!


So, What is Porridge?


Porridge is a dish made by boiling ground, crushed, or chopped cereal in water, milk, or both, with optional flavorings such as sugar, cinnamon, nuts, and raisins, usually served hot in a bowl or dish.


Have you ever noticed that in most of our favorite children’s classic stories, they are always serving porridge or its bad version equivalent gruel? There’s probably a good reason for that. Many of our favorite books are set in England or Great Britain. Northern Europe, including Scandinavia, has been eating porridge for centuries. I love the oat porridge of England and Scotland. My parents being from Sweden meant I ate a rice sort of porridge known as groat. Porridge can be made from any type of grain and is very good and tasty.


Porridge was considered a hearty meal back in the day that could be either a sweet or a savory dish, depending on how seasonings were added. Over the past couple hundred years, porridge has been eaten as a breakfast meal, and lets one stay full most of the day. In the story The Secret Garden, people ate two meals a day: porridge in the morning and then again at supper at night. Only the upper classes would have more than two meals a day. 


In reality, porridge is highly nutritious because oatmeal contains protein, carbohydrates, fats, soluble fiber, and vitamins, vitamins, E, calcium, and iron. So, what would the modern-day equivalent of porridge be? Maybe it’s time for a family taste test challenge!


Here are some Porride-y options to explore.


Oatmeal: In the US, oat and wheat porridge can both be called “hot cereal.” Rolled oats are commonly used in England, oatmeal in Scotland, and steel-cut oats in Ireland.


Grits: Grits are a type of porridge made from boiled cornmeal.


Farina: Cream of Wheat is a popular brand of breakfast porridge. It’s made from farina, a type of hot cereal derived from wheat milled to form a fine consistency.


Congee: Congee and porridge appear similar, yet they have distinct differences. Congee is a traditional Asian dish consisting of cooked rice in water or broth. It’s often served with meat, vegetables, or herbs to enhance flavor. Porridge is a more general term for hot, soft food boiled in milk or water.


What is Treacle?

So now we get to the sweet stuff. For those of us who live in the United States, treacle will be a mystery but I’m hoping to end that for you right now. For those of you who live in Great Britain or the Commonwealth, I imagine treacle has found a way to your heart, stomach, and table.


Treacle is what we call black strap molasses here in the US. Treacle is any uncrystallized syrup made during the refining of sugar. The most common forms of treacle are pale syrup, known as golden syrup, and the darker syrup, usually referred to as dark or black treacle. Dark treacle has a distinctively strong, slightly bitter flavor and richer color than golden syrup, yet not as dark as molasses. Golden syrup is the main sweetener in treacle tart.


For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, Treacle Tart and Treacle Pudding were among Harry’s favorite foods.


What we know as molasses has a more robust taste than treacle. In the US, molasses can be found in bottles in the baking section of your grocery store, and treacle can be found in cans/tins in grocery stores in Great Britain.


Good new! Inside A Year in the Secret Garden pages, you will find a delicious recipe for porridge and treacle.



I hope you’ve enjoyed our porridge fest today and a closer look into this hearty and tasteful meal.


More About A Year in the Secret Garden



As parents, we want/need quality books with extension activities to help our young ones unplug and create memories. Pulling books from shelves, and stories from pages is also an important act that will the habit of being life-long readers. Quality books with companion book extension activities are not only working to create special family time, but it also allows kids to solve the world’s problems without major consequences. A Year in the Secret Garden is just such a book.



This delightful children’s book that is co-written by Marilyn Scott-Waters and Valarie Budyar and it offers original month-by-month activities that allow readers to delve deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden.


Within the 120 pages (with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities) of A Year in the Secret Garden , families will find many activities inspired by The Secret Garden that encourages them to step away from technology and enjoy getting hands and feet into the black earth of a family garden. It also uses over two hundred full-color illustrations and photos to bring the classic story to life in modern ways. Filled with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts this exceptionally high-quality book is designed to enchant readers of all ages (including adults!).


Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of an original Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book. It’s time to coax kids away from their electronic devices and into the kitchen, garden, and craft room. This book will make a great gift and be the catalyst for many hours of family growth, learning, and FUN!


Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!