Saturday, 29 April 2017

Mum Hacks review





























Everyone loves a hack these days. I know I've got whole pinterest boards dedicated to them. So when I was asked to review Mum Hacks - Time saving tips to calm the chaos of family life I jumped at the chance.

I'm not saying that our life is chaotic, indeed I know my life as a mum is a lot less stressful than others as I am still enjoying being a stay at home mum. That said I am returning to teaching in September and I know my time with the kids will be squeezed. The main idea of this book is that you claw back some of the time wasted on things you shouldn't even give a minute to, plus it tries to tackle how to avoid going into meltdown over some of the many jobs mums get landed with. Thus enabling you to be able to spend more quality time with your family and not just be seen as a hurried stressed out monster by your kids.

Stressed Moi?
As I've said I do have more time at the moment to be with me kids but that doesn't mean I don't fall foul of getting stressed, especially on the school run. I am sure that my kids sense when time is an issue and instinctively do everything 10 times slower, thus pushing up my stress levels when I'm trying to get them on their way on time. Helpfully there is a whole section of the book devoted to 'Morning Mayhem -streamlining getting up and out'. There were some great tips on cutting down on the laundry and ironing pile. Which is an ever growing mountain in our house now that both boys are in uniform.



























Looking after me.
The section on a bit of me time, 'tips to look good, feel good and de-stress', was probably my favourite section of the book. Despite feeling a little smug as a read through the book and thought 'yes I already do x,y,z' investing any time on myself seems to have slipped my grasp. Between being a mum, a wife, a blogger, an illustrator and running my online shop I don't seem to find any time for myself. I know this has to change and I want to get a better balance in my life. I loved the tips of making your makeup work for you more, by buying things that do more than one job. I also liked the tips about drawing boundaries. I must be more forceful in declaring what is my time and not allowing other people to drain it.




























Would I recommend it?
This book is not one that has to be read in one go, not all the tips will suit everyone. I for one don't want to store things in freezer bags. However it's a great dip in and out book. It's divided into relevant sections that you might want more control of and you can have a go testing out what works for you and what doesn't.
If you feel it's all getting too much and your not being the mum you wanted to be. Spending all your time, tidying and not playing than it's definitely worth a read.

I was kindly given Mum Hacks in return for my honest review. To read my advertising and disclosure policy click here.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

TOTSUP reward chart review




I have never used reward charts with my children before as I haven't had a situation where I thought they could help.
Recently however, my youngest who is three nearly four starting wetting the bed again. He had been dry through the night but after a urine infection the good work that had been done was undone.
So when Sally from TotsUp asked if I would like to review their Bus reward chart I thought it might help in getting back to dry nights.


Setting the scene.

When it arrived I had a quick look in the box and a read through the leaflet that comes with it. It also has IOS app if you want to use that.
It recommends that you set the reward as something free or low cost that the child will enjoy. Which was great as this was something I had, had an issue with, with reward charts. I do not want to get into the game of incentivising my children to do things only for the big reward at the end.
So we set it up which was easy to do as the bus and bus stop just slot into the stands provided. It's magnetic so we placed all the people on the bus stop and talked my youngest through how it works. If he has a dry night someone can get on the bus, when they are all on the bus we'll take a trip to the park.
He was delighted with it and the first night was so eager to get someone on the bus he got up twice to do the tiniest wee.




















Did it work?

I was never expecting an overnight miracle and it's definitely still a work in progress but we are getting drier nights. Where I think it has helped him is to start thinking about needing the loo again in the night. It takes a lot to learn this and I know boys can take longer to be dry though the night, but he was and I'm sure he will be again soon.  He loves the little people and wants them to get on the bus. Hopefully in the next week or so we'll be off to the park!


Would I recommend it?

What I liked about the TOTSUP bus reward chart, was the quality of the product. It's cheerful design is gender neutral and it works on a simple level that young children can understand. Reward charts all the time can lose their effectiveness but for a focused time on something that you want you child to think about, whether that is bed wetting or biting I think this would be of great use. My youngest loves his bus especially as he could name it and if my friends were looking for a reward chart and would definitely steer them in TOTSUP direction.
I was kindly sent the TOTSUP reward chart in exchange for my honest review.
You can also find Totsup on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook
You can view my advertising and disclosure policy here.





Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How to create the perfect small office space*


As a work from home mum, it can be hard to carve out space in the house for myself. I am lucky enough to have the use of the box room in the house, but it must function as many things for us all. I need the room to be an office space, a craft room and a design studio. My husband often takes up residence in there in the evenings too! During the weekends I often have to contend with the kids wanting to get on the computer as well which is why it is key that I master how to make this small room work for all its needs.

1. Get a big desk.

Personally I would recommend getting as large a desk as you can fit in your workspace. I am a spreader. I have my planner, bits of paper, lists etc. that I like to have around me when I work. Not to mention I have a desktop PC with a massive screen for my design work, so I don't strain my eyes. So a large desk is a must for me.



2. Fit shelving.

This is a lifesaver in a small space, getting the majority of my stuff up off the floor where I can easily find things is brilliant. It was one of the first jobs my husband did when I first took over the box room and I have never regretted taking up a whole wall with shelves. Plus I can colour code my book spines so it looks pretty too!

3. Position your desk near a window.

If you are like me and sit either at the computer all day or you are drawing / painting / sewing the natural light will save your eye sight. My room is so small you are always in natural light because your only three feet away from the window at any point in the room!



4. Be creative with your other storage needs.

Depending on what you are working on, you might need other storage solutions apart from shelves. In my room, I have to store samples from my etsy cross stitch shop, plus craft materials and all my art work. So I have a collection of biscuit tins and baskets for loose stuff and a great six pigeon hole unit that I was kindly sent by Windsor Browne* to review.


It is perfect for storing my embroidery hoops and works in progress. I can easily stack them in the unit and quickly get to what I need as opposed to rummaging through bags which was my previous storage method.


It fits perfectly with my thrown together shabby chic look of my office. I have collected bit of antique furniture and curios over the last 10 years and they all combine in a great inspiring workspace for me. I love the great warm feeling wooden furniture gives to a room.


5. Get a good chair.

My last piece of advice would be to get a good chair. Mine is rubbish and my back knows it when I sat at my desk all day. Remember if you haven't got a good chair, get up every hour and move. We are not designed to be seated all day long. Now if I could only take my own advice...

I was kindly sent the pigeon hole unit from Windsor Browne in exchange for my honest review, you can see my full advertising and disclosure policy here.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Easter craft pack review*


My boys were lucky enough to be sent these craft packs from Hello Moon just in time for the start of the Easter Holidays.
I must admit by 9:30 on the first day we had broke them out! My boys are very early risers and we had already exhausted the ideas I had planned for the day.





































They were beautiful, high quality print and gorgeous designs. They had a range of activities in which suited both boys 3 and 8. The youngest loved the colouring in pages and the eldest loved the puzzles and mazes.

He also loved the mask making, not that he really had much input in this task apart from colouring the ears pink (naturally), but he loved being a moustached rabbit.





































The little bunny boxes were also a great hit and made a good addition to our little Easter display, with our Easter branch decorated with wooden eggs and the chocolate nest cakes, which didn't last long!


We haven't exhausted the activities yet and I'm sure I'll be steering the boys to the craft table again soon, if only to get another ten minutes peace. Where I might get to drink my tea hot for a change.

If you haven't already found Hello Moon, I would thoroughly recommend a visit. They produce the most beautiful personalised prints in such great designs. There is something to suit every age and every taste. You can also find hello moon on Twitter and Facebook.

I was sent the craft packs for free in exchange for my honest review. You can find full details of my advertising and disclosure policy here.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Why I let my son paint his room pink.

This may seem appalling to some, but I must ask the question why? Why are people so offended that
my four year old son's favourite colour is pink?

No one bats an eyelid when a girl says her favourite colour is blue and yet I have had all sorts of responses when he has told people his favourite colour. Quite often with the person making the gigantic leap that his choice of colour is some how linked with his sexuality! He's four for goodness sake! He has always loved pink since he could name the colours and now we've painted his room, I hope he loves pink for a good while longer. As my husband said 'it's going to take some painting over!'.




So how did we get here?

We left the choice of the colour up to our four year old son as we are decorating his bedroom for his birthday. It was white with jungle animal stickers and was altogether a bit 'nursery'.


So we took him to B and Q and he was delighted to be able to choose from all the colours on the chip rack. My husband and I agreed it would be completely his choice, so that's how we came to be the proud the owners of a tin of 'sporty pink' paint.

It's has got to be the loudest pink I've ever seen, it's not Barbie at all much more a mature Moroccan vibe to it.  He loved watching the lady mix the paint and put it in the machine to shake it, it was a joy to see him so excited.




























Boy it up?

After we decorated the room we were surprised how dark it was, my husband still isn't keen and has asked how we can 'boy' it up? But does it really need to be? My son is a boy and nothing will change that. His choice of colour or what toys he plays with or what clothes he wears will not change that.

I hand cut these farm wall decals from black chalkboard fablon.







In fact I am happy that my son has the confidence at four to declare his love for anything with such forthright attitude and I hope he continues to be so sure minded for the rest of his life. His only disappointment with the room was that the radiator, plugs and ceiling had not been painted pink too! That for me would have been a step to far!


Before and after pics to compare.

Thoughts?
Would you let your children pick their own paint?
What is your opinion on boys and pink, I'd love to know.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Can shea butter save my winter skin?*

You know the feeling, the sun has made an appearance and suddenly you have to ditch the 100 denier tights and sloppy jumper that's been covering you from head to foot all winter and what do you discover? In my case and I'm sure I'm not the only one, neglected dry and pretty sorry for itself skin. My legs often seem to be the worse looking more reptile than is humanly possible. Every year I lament the fact that I didn't keep up the moisturising routine I had last summer. It's easier with my face as I see it all the time but the rest of me goes into hibernation shortly after September.



So when Luna from Esocare * asked me to test out her 100% pure unrefined Shea butter I thought my body deserved a second chance at sunshine. I have been making deliberate steps to search out and buy more natural cosmetics. It's like food when I see a huge list of things on the back of the packet I wonder what it is doing to me. So the chance of something completely untampered with was intriguing.



It arrived beautifully packaged and looking like a quality product. The first thing I noticed was it's smell. It's not unpleasant but it is different to what you might normally expect from cosmetics. Remember no perfumes have been added. I asked my husband what he thought of it and he said it smelt like walking in the woods. I must say he's pretty much nailed it.
It has a similar texture to coconut oil that it is solid and then melts with the heat of your hands. It certainly melted into my legs and they felt super moisturized all day. I put this down to the naturally occurring rubber in it that according to Luna from Esocare places and 'active seal' on your skin.


I've been using it for just short of a week now and I've tried it everywhere from my legs to my face and even the ends of my dried out hair.
My overall verdict, I am now ready for the sun, super moisturized and silky soft.
You can find Esocare on Twitter, Facebook and instagram

*I was given the product in return for my honest review. To see the full advertising and disclosure policy click here.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Can you see in the dark?*

bed, bedding, bedroom

I can see in the dark. The ability has been honed I believe from years of been sleep deprived and from feeding on demand through the night with both my boys. In fact if I have to get up in the night I don't even open my eyes! My husband on the other hand is the exact opposite. If it's dark and he has to get up, which I must say is rarely. He seems to instant forget where everything is placed in our room and manages to hit the bed, the wardrobe and the door before shouting at me to put the light on. So when our youngest started potty training and was getting up in the night for a wee I was worried. Would he have inherited mine or my husbands night vision?



Now I don't have to worry as Josh from Illumibowl* has sent us this great nightlight for the loo! It is basically a motion activated sensor with a light that clips on the rim of the loo and illuminates the bowl so you can safely find the loo and pee in the right place at night.
My boys love it. Especially as it can change colour, they call it the disco toilet now. When we first tried it on the loo, we all spent 5 minutes watching the colour cycle. I've never seen such a funny scene! Four people all staring at the bowl of the toilet.

Youngest favourite colour


So night time trips to the boys bathroom are now no longer a problem. He can safely get up and find his way on his own and the light is soft enough that is doesn't disturb any one else. Now I just need one for the hubby and I might actually get a good nights sleep!

Eldest favourite colour


If you would like to win an Illumibowl I've got three to give away. Competition is open to residents of UK, US and Canada. Full terms and conditions can be found on the rafflecopter site.


a Rafflecopter giveaway





I was sent a free illumibowl in exchange for my honest review, full details can be found in my advertising and disclosure policy here.

Easter Etsy gift guide



Non - chocolate Easter gift guide for Kids. All under £5.00



I don't know about you, but with our extended family the boys can end up with over 13 Easter eggs each! That's a whopping amount of chocolate, whilst they might love it, I don't want to contribute to their sugar consumption. So we always buy non-chocolate related gifts. I always stress to the boys that Easter is not Christmas or their Birthday and they should non expect or demand a pile of stuff so they get an egg hunt with the family and a small gift from us. Looking over on testy I have found some great gift ideas for kids for under £5.00. This does not include postage and package as it varied so much from seller to seller. I have included my favourite picks for all kids from the littlest to pre-teens.


Bunny Rabbit Bookmark, cute, felt, Easter gift for kids, available in any colour


Bunny Bookmark

How cute are these bunny bookmark's from KatzKuriosities at £3.49 they make a perfect gift for an avid book reader at Easter. Why not combine them with a book to make a larger gift as well.

Girls Personalised Easter Bracelet. Child's Bracelet. Kids Bracelet. Children's gifts. Girls gift. Party favors.

Easter Bracelet

I know my Nieces would love these personalised bracelets from DsJems. In such lovely spring colours and with a cute bunny charm they make a truly special gift.

Happy Easter Wooden Egg Cup, Personalised Easter, Wooden Egg Cup, Easter Egg Cup, Easter Gift, Happy Easter, Wooden Egg Cup, Wooden Egg Cup

Wooden egg cup

Not for chocolate eggs! This beautiful wooden egg cup is the perfect holder for a boiled egg on Easter Sunday. It's been a tradition for many a year to have boiled eggs with faces drawn on them and the boys would love these eggs cups from Little orchard creations  and at £4.00 they give much more value for money than chocolate.

Bunny Crayons - Gifts for Kids - Rabbit Crayons - Handmade Crayons - Party Gift - Gift for a Child - Set of 6 Wax Crayons

Bunny crayons

These bunny crayons are perfect for pre-schoolers. They come in a range of colours in a cute rabbit design and are perfect for little hand to hold. At £4.50 for a set of six they'd be great for Easter crafts over the break. Find them at Colour me fun.

Easter Bunny Egg and Chick Soap Set | Your Choice of Colors | Soap Favor | Easter Gift for Kids | Easter Basket Filler | Optional Charm

Easter soaps

Need something to wash all that chocolate off the kids! They'll love bath time with these cute Easter themed soaps, choose from chicks, bunnies and eggs and pick your favourite colour for £3.32 from Soap Art.

My 1st Easter bunny baby vest. My first easter bodysuit. Bunny vest. Easter Vest.

Bunny baby vest

This cute baby vest almost makes me wish I had tiny ones again. I'll just have to hope one of my friends has had a baby by next Easter so I can get this from Threaders Boutique £4.00

Pink ribbon bunny ears for girls, Easter hair accessories for girls.

Bunny ear clips

I have to admit I'm half tempted to get these for myself. Do you think a 37 year old woman could get away with them? Probably at Easter! If not visit Shelly Sparkle Uk to get some for the girls in your life. £2.50

Cross Stitch Kits, craft set, children's stocking filler, party favour, embroidered key ring, embroidery gift

Owl cross stitch kit.

I couldn't pass by this cute owl cross stitch set £5.00. Perfect for keeping older ones quite for a while and a great introduction to cross stitch. Find it at Under the rowan trees.

1 Pcs Crochet peas Crochet vegetables Pretend Play food Tactile toy Amigurumi Toys for toddlers Kids Toy Play Kitchen food Educationa

Crochet peas

I love these crochet peas from Rainbow happiness! Spring is a great time to talk to the kids about new life, growth and the cycle of the seasons. I love pretend play food and we have a big collection. These peas at £3.32 would make a great addition to our play farmers market.

Bunny Yo-Yo, Rabbit Toy Yo-Yo- Kids, Wood Yo-yo, Easter Gifts, Gift for Boy, Gift for Girl- Classic Toy- Paryt Favor

Bunny Yo-yo

Finally for older children, how about this yo-yo from Toying around. Hours of time can be spent perfecting new moves and tricks. Perfect for after Sunday Lunch. At £4.97 it fits just under my £5.00 budget but the hours that could be spent playing with it makes it worth it.

Hope you have find my gift guide inspiring. Have you got any other great non-chocolate Easter gift ideas. Please share them here.

Please note I have not had any incentives to share these products with you. If you want to read my advertising and disclosure policy you can find it here.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Can a drink make you happy?*

Can a drink make you happy?*

The other day I was sent some samples of HAPS* a drink which aims to boost you mood.
I was intrigued and went to their website to find out more.
These supplements are the brainchild of founder Rik who after seeing depression in others throughout his life researched ways in which to boost peoples mood. After years of development he believes these drinks may be the answer.

'A groundbreaking nutritional drink powder designed to boost low mood has been created by WE ARE HAPS founder Rik Turner, in collaboration with Brighton based nutritional therapist Kirsten Chick and the supplement specialists fueling Team GB athletes, Team Nutrition.'

So what's in them?

Griffonia Seed Extract (5-HTP)
Help regulate mood, appetite and sleep by naturally boosting serotonin, one of your main happiness chemicals in the body.
Vitamins
Improve your response to stress with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, D& Zinc. These are also essential to convert 5HTP into serotonin.
Baobab Fruit
Reduce tiredness & support your immune system. Baobab is a rich source of Vitamin C & has the highest antioxidant content of any fruit.
Coconut MCT
Stay alert throughout the day. MCTs are healthy fats that provide fast energy for the brain and improves the absorption of vitamin D.
Electrolytes
Keep hydrated. Electrolytes speed up the absorption of water and aid the flow of nutrients in the body.

I didn't feel in any particular need of a Mood boost when I had my first drink, but the idea of reducing tiredness and being more alert did appeal. Especially with 3am wake up calls by the youngest.
It was easy to mix up and had a pleasant sherbet smell. I thought it might of had a stronger fruity flavour considering the ingredients list. It was nice enough with a squash like flavour and consistency.
Can a drink make you happy?*
Did I feel a boost?
Whilst it didn't make me feel any happier on that day, I did feel more alert and got lots done that day. What is the drink or the placebo effect? Who's to say, I will keep the other sachets in reserve for a day when I feel low or extremely tired. I could see the benefits of these particularly over times when it can all get a bit much. The winter and Christmas especially I might reach for these.
If you would like to find out more about these drink you can visit the HAPS website.
Or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
I was sent these samples for free in return for a review, if you would like to read the full advertising and disclosure policy you can find it here.

Gluten free Apple and Walnut muffin recipe

These muffins are the perfect treat for afternoon cravings or if you are feeling really naughty served warm with butter on makes a great weekend breakfast.

You will need:
  • 55g Baking margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 100g sugar
  • 125ml apple juice
  • 140g gluten free plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 dessert apples peeled, cored and chopped
  • 55g walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c gas mark 4. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases
  2. Melt the margarine.
  3. Whisk the egg and add the sugar, apple juice and melted margarine and whisk to combine.
  4. In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour in the egg mixture and stir gently until combined.
  6. Stir in the chopped apple and walnuts. Do not over mix.
  7. Fill the paper cases evenly and bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.


Monday, 3 April 2017

March blog stats and April goals


This is the first time I've ever published my stats. I have always enjoyed having a read of other bloggers stats and seeing what they were doing each month. This month I decided to put some life back into my blog. It had been dwindling by the side for a while now as I focused on other projects. For March my goal was to make more effort with my blog and have more fun doing it. As I felt I had lost the passion for blogging.
I feel I have definitely had more fun in writing my blog and hope to continue with improving it over the next few months. So to share with you and to keep me motivated I thought I would review March and set myself some goals for April.

Stats for March:
Page views 7,327
Twitter followers 3052
Pinterest followers 1035
Facebook likes 228
Instagram followers 781
HIBs ranking 330 out of 2500.

Top posts
Baileys bread and butter pudding recipe
Top tips for Selling on Redbubble
Apple and Maple traybake recipe

Reviews:
[M]botanicals toning oil, logo stickers, HAPs superboost, baislur tea, Valspar paint, tinkerdash app

I also contributed to the uniball blog on encouraging creativity in children.

I think my blog stats wobbled over March as I changed my domain to www.craftwithcartwright.co.uk and this may well change again as someone pointed out to me most of my readers are from the USA and therefore I should go with .com instead.
Overall I am happy with my stats and I have enjoyed doing more reviews this month.

April goals:
  • Focus on raising Instagram followers to 800, remember to post once a day as consistency seems to really pay off with Instagram
  • Look back over old posts, bin those that are poor quality and update and promote good ones.
  • Aim to do three reviews in the month.
  • Blog every other day.
  • Change to .com domain.

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