Saturday, 27 May 2017

Troo Granola review

You will know if you have read my blog before that I love breakfast and I am a big fan of granola. I love oats and the long lasting energy they give me to get through the morning. Especially when I am teaching. I don't get chance to snack and have to have something fortifying to start my day.

The sheer variety of granola you can buy know is wide and I have tried many different gluten free ones over the years. They can be so different and finding a good one with great crunch and flavour can be tricky. Until now I have never seen one that you toasted yourself.

When a pack of Nutty Troo Granola arrived at my door, I was interested to see how it differed from everything else on the market. The idea is that this granola you toast yourself, meaning you get a much fresher toasted flavour than packs that may have sat on shelves for months.

It was quite simple to do. First you remove the measuring cup from the bag and measure out honey and oil into it. It is your choice on the oil and sweetener, so I choose sunflower oil and local honey for mine.

Then you shake the mix and pour into the bag. I found it a little tricky to mix in the bag but it saves on the washing up!

Once mixed it all got tipped onto a baking tray and toasted in the oven for 15 minutes. My boys came downstairs attracted by the amazing nutty and cinnamon smell coming from the oven.

It was so convenient and easy to use. It was great to have the fresh toasty flavour and we loved the range of nuts and seeds in it. We couldn't wait for it to cool to try it and I must admit it's nearly all gone already! I did save enough for my smoothie bowl this morning.

If you would like to make this smoothie bowl you will need:

2 bananas chopped
A handful of frozen mixed berries
200ml almond milk.

Place in a blender and mix until smooth and thick.

Top with a big handful of Troo Granola and enjoy.

I was sent a pack of Troo Granola in exchange for my honest opinion. To read my advertising and disclosure policy click here.

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Friday, 26 May 2017

Five great ways to use Matcha*

Post in collaboration with teapigs.*

Over the past two years I have been on my recovery journey from my coeliac diagnosis. I have spent a lot of time looking at the foods I eat and how I can maintain the best health though my food and drink choices. You will know from reading my blog that I am a big tea drinker. Now my tea of choice has always been Earl grey. I like the delicate flavour and never drink tea with milk in it. So it was a natural step for me to start drinking green tea. So good for you and a great alternative to my normal cuppa.

Green tea and Matcha what's the difference?

Matcha is green tea which has been grown in the shade which boosts it chlorophyll content. It's then ground into a super fine powder. So when you drink it or use it in your food you get every bit of the flavonoid goodness from the green tea. Ten times the nutritional value of regular green tea.You can buy teapigs Matcha here.

So here are my favourite five ways to have Matcha

1. Tea.
Not for everyone and I will admit it took me a while to get used to the taste. It's not unpleasant at all but has a grassy flavour. If your used to drinking green smoothies it wont be in unfamiliar flavour. Great on a summers day and a quick and easy way to get the all the benefits of matcha.

2. Matcha granola
I call it my Hulk granola, but that's probably because I have small children. Simple to make. Whip up a batch and it'll keep for a week in an air tight container.

You will need:
  • 250g gluten free rolled oats
  • 150ml honey
  • 75g flaked almonds
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50g Raisins
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. Sunflower oil
  • 2 sachets of matcha

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c gas mark 4
  2. Melt the honey and sunflower oil in a saucepan.
  3. Once melted remove from the heat and stir in the oats, almonds and coconut.
  4. Tip onto a baking tray and bake for ten minutes.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Place in a cereal container, add the raisins, cinnamon and matcha and shake to combine.
  7. Seal and it will keep for a week.
Serve with almond milk or yoghurt.

3. Matcha and mixed berry smoothie

You will need
  • One banana
  • A handful of frozen mixed berries
  • 250ml of almond milk
  • I sachet of teapigs Matcha tea
  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz up until smooth.
  2. Enjoy straight away for a great breakfast boost.

4. Matcha latte

  1. Heat a mugful of almond milk gently in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk in one sachet of matcha.
  3. Enjoy a great latte that has half the caffeine of coffee and ten times the nutritional value of regular green tea.

5. Matcha muffins

Don't these just look fab! Great for breakfast on the run. Make a batch the night before and you are good to go.

You will need:
  • 250g Gluten free plain flour
  • 70g Dark soft brown sugar
  • 3 bananas
  • 50 ml Sunflower oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 sachets of teapigs Matcha
  • 1 tsp. Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1. tsp. Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/4. Nutmeg

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c Gas Mark 4.
  2. Line a twelve hole muffin tin with paper cases
  3. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.
  4. Spoon equally into the paper cases.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned and springy to the touch.
  6. Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Best eaten on the day but will keep for a day or so in an airtight container.

I was sent a box of teapigs Matcha tea to review and sample in exchange for my honest opinion. To view my advertising and disclosure policy click here.

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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Jewellery Candle review

Have you got a lady in your life that you struggle to buy gifts for? I do, in fact with my mum, mother in law and plenty of sister in laws. I find it a all too real struggle quite often. Buying for kids is so much easier, you see what is the latest toy or ask them and they produce a list 10 foot long with all the things they want. As people get older buying them something they will really love gets so much harder, they already have all the things they need and often buy themselves the treats and knick knacks that you might choose for presents.

So when I was asked to review this Jewellery Candle from The Charming Candle company, not only was I delighted to have a beautiful scented candle for my lounge. I also think I have discovered a great gift for all the ladies in my life.

So what is a Jewellery candle?

My hubby was a little confused when he saw me lighting it. He thought it would be jewel encrusted or some other blinged up monstrosity. Instead he was looking at a beautiful glass votive, that now burning was filling my lounge with a beautiful citrus scent. I had the pink champagne one which is scented with grapefruit, orange and pomelo.

The Jewellery is hidden inside the wax it can be either a ring or a charm bead. As you burn the candle a little gold package is revealed. It took two nights for me to first catch a glimpse of gold foil pocking out. I was so tempted to try and dig it out but my hubby stopped me. On the third night it was fully revealed. You then, snuff the candle out, pull it out with tweezers and wipe off the wax. Inside was a beautiful delicate two band ring.

Perfect gift solution.

It's two great gifts in one. So this is fair warning to all my female family members this is what you'll be having next birthday. Who doesn't like beautiful scented candles and jewellery? You can find the Jewellery candles from the Charming Candle company.

I was sent this Jewellery candle for free in exchange for my honest opinion. You can read my advertising and disclosure policy here.

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Natural elements skincare review

Natural elements review*

Do you ever think about what is in the stuff you are rubbing into your skin? For a while I must admit I didn't. I wouldn't even look further on the label than to see if it was for my skin type or not. Now I am a coeliac I think more carefully than ever about what I am putting in and onto my body. I know I am not eating my skin care products but I do wonder what effect all the ingredients are having to my body.

Yes I want to maintain my skin and if possible not look like the tired thirty six year old staring back at me but I also want to protect my health and not be using products with excessive amounts of synthetic perfumes or any products containing parabens.

So when I was sent some samples from Natural elements to review, I was pleased to see that their products are completely plant based using combinations of plant extracts, vital oils and essential oils.

If you have read my blog recently you will know I am a convert to using oils in my beauty routine. If you could call it a routine, I often have to scramble for ten minutes in the bathroom. So I was pleased with how quickly the oils soaked into my skin. I have found if you are really pushed for time you can also mix the facial oil and blending cream in your hand and put them on in one go.
I really like the blending cream as it gave a matt finish to my skin, for days when I didn't want a dewy finish.

I have been using oils and the blending cream for about a week now day and night. I have noticed that my skin has looked more nourished and has stayed beautifully hydrated all day. No dry spots returning to my cheeks or forehead in the day.

Natural elements I think are a great choice for anyone who thinks about the ethics of the company they are buying from. They choose to sue fully recyclable packaging, they don't test on animals and don't use ingredients tested on animals.
They are also suitable for people with sensitive skin, allergies, vegetarians, vegans and those who want alcohol free products.

I was sent these samples from Natural elements in exchange for my honest review. To read my advertising and disclosure policy click here.
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Murder at Merkister Hall Giveaway

Do you read Murder Mystery books. I do, I've loved them since my teens when I devoured every Agatha Christie I could get my hands on. I also love watching them on t.v and often compete with my hubby as to who can guess the killer quickest. Which I why I would love to host my own murder mystery night. This Dinner party game from Red herring games would be perfect for this, if only I could convince my hubby....

The game is set in the the 1930s. The great depression is over, the pound is competing with the dollar on the open exchange and there is a rise in business of all shapes at sizes.
It is a time of prosperity for the social elite, and tucked away in the leafy depths of the countryside, the residents of Merkister Hall, Brigadier Balderdash and his wife Lotta, are just two of those who have achieved a very comfortable life.
Keen to share their good fortune with others, the Balderdashes regularly play host for sumptuous dinner parties at their stately home which involve nothing but the best wines, fine cuisine and traditional after dinner entertainment.
This evening was to be no exception. The guests had all arrived as planned and with the food ready to be served in the kitchens the party only lacked one thing, namely the butler Leversham who has been discovered dead, in the Billiard room!
With the butler murdered, the question everyone must answer is: who did it?

You get to play as:
Brigadier Balderdash - Lord of the Manor.
Pompous, with very upright military bearing, Brigadier Balderdash is always seen in a well starched collar and his tweed suit.
Lotta Balderdash - Wife of Brigadier Balderdash.
Tastefully clothed and very reserved, Lotta Balderdash is refined and elegant.
Bruce Bugatti - Racing car driver
Always in a tearing hurry, Bruce Bugatti is very debonair, but also fairly untidy.
Anna Glipta - Local Artist
Never without her artist’s smock, Anna Glipta often has her sketch pad to hand and paintbrushes in her hair.
Rev. Al Ation - Vicar
With a stiff white dog collar and wearing traditional black, Rev. Al Ation is always on duty for his flock.
Miss Jane Marbles - Maiden aunt and amateur sleuth.
In twin set and pearls, with a tweed suit, there is nothing remotely sinister about this spinster (except that dead bodies seem to turn up in her close proximity!)
Doug Oles - Archaeologist.
Fresh from his current dig, Doug sports his boots, trowel and being young, huge levels of enthusiasm.
Nicole De’limelite - Film Star
Sophisticated and elegant, Nicole has all the latest fashions.
Max Outputt - Industrialist.
Dressed formally for dinner in a dinner suit, Max is never parted from his Financial Times.
Penny Pusher - The Balderdash’s secretary.
Plain and unimpressive, Penny is a quiet non-entity and easy on the eyes.

This game contains content that may be suitable for persons ages 13 and older. This game contains:
* A murder - violence suggested.
* Comic Mischief - Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humour.
* Suggestive Themes - Mild provocative references or materials and sexual innuendo. Acting as if attracted to particular characters is suggested in the character backgrounds.

If you would like to win this great game, simply enter via the Raffle copter widget.

Don't have nine guests for your dinner party, how about subscription sleuthing? Check out Redherring's cosy killer kickstarter project.

You can enter multiple times using the entry options shown.  The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter and contacted by Redherring games to send them the prize. Full terms and conditions can be found in the widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One Murder at Merkister hall dinner party game–  no monetary exchange available 
Contest is open until Midnight Tuesday 30th May

Distribution of  prizes is the responsibility of Redherring games

 Craft with Cartwright cannot be held responsible for lost prizes

This post was written in collaboration with Red herring games – all opinions are my own
All winner decisions are final – the winner has 48 hours to claim or a new winner will be drawn

UK Entrants Only


SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Lemon and poppy seed protein muffins

Post in collaboration with Pulsin.*

If you have ever read my blog before, you will know I LOVE cake. There has recently been a trend in people distancing themselves from sugar and sweet things. I can see the reasons behind this, I know sugar is not a health food but in small measures it's fine and a sugar free or cake free world just isn't for me.

However, when I got my diagnosis of Coeliac disease I had to look carefully at my diet, obviously gluten was gone but I also wanted to rebuild myself from the inside out. So gone where most processed foods and in was a lot more cooking from scratch. I already cooked a lot of things from scratch but could there be anything thing else I could do? Adding supplements is one way I have found to boost my baking. It makes no difference to the final bake but all the difference to my nutrition.

To make make lemon and poppy seed protein muffins you will need:
150g Gluten free plain flour
175g Margarine
175g Caster sugar
3 Eggs
15g Pulsin Pea protein powder
1 1/2 tsps. Baking powder
2 Lemons, zested
1 tbsp. Poppy seeds

I love this simple method for making muffins, it's even easier if you have an add and weigh set of scales. Simple put the bowl of the food processor on the scales and away you go.

Preheat the oven to 180c Gas mark 4.
Weigh all the ingredients into the food processor bowl. 
Mix until fully incorporated.
Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
Fill the paper cases, wipe off any drips from the tin.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

I was sent the pulsin pea powder in exchange for my honest opinion. Read the full advertising and disclosure policy here.
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Real Mum Reviews

Honey and Mustard dressing recipe

Post in collaboration with Comvita Apple Cider Vinegar*

If you have missed all the fuss about apple cider vinegar over the past year and it's wonderful properties, where have you been? Hailed as the must have celebrity secret store cupboard ingredient it has been flying off the shelves. It can help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, reduce body fat and help the body absorb calcium apparently.

I am not a celebrity however and do not use it for those reasons. I use it because many types of vinegar have malt in them, which is not suitable for my gluten free diet. I also use it because I love the taste.

I was recently sent a bottle of Comvita Apple cider vinegar with Manuka Honey to try. Manuka honey also has lots of great health properties and is something I also buy. I hadn't ever seen the two combined. I was intrigued and read the information on the bottle suggesting that you mix it up in a drink for it's great effects. I thought with the honey it might be quite nice, but after taking a sniff from the bottle I haven't been brave enough to try it yet.

According to the bottle:
'Comvita’s Apple Cider Vinegar is like no other as it is a sweet tasting combination of naturally fermented Apple Cider Vinegar, New Zealand UMF® 5+ Manuka Honey and bush honey. This distinctive blend of ingredients means it provides a wide range of health benefits, and has a unique sweet taste making it pleasant to take on it’s own, or to be used within salad dressings. Comvita’s Apple Cider Vinegar is naturally fermented which leads to the product containing ‘mother of vinegar’: a natural by-product full of enzymes that you wouldn’t find in pasteurised vinegar.'

So I haven't drank it yet, but I might soon. However, I do love this vinegar and health benefits or not it makes a great salad dressing. Now the sun has finally arrived I love nothing more than lazy salad meals and nothing makes a boring salad into a delicious dinner than a fab dressing.

To make my Honey and Mustard dressing you will need:

2 tablespoons Comvita Apple Cider vinegar with Manuka Money
4 tablespoons of Olive oil
2 tsps. of gluten free Whole grain mustard
Pinch of salt
A few twists of cracked black pepper
A jar with a screw top lid

Measure out the ingredients into the jar
Screw lid on tightly and shake to mix
Add to your salad for a healthy dressing with a kick

The dressing will keep in the fridge for up to three days in the sealed jar.

I was sent the Comvita Apple cider vinegar free of charge in exchange for my honest review. To read my advertising and disclosure policy click here.

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Monday, 22 May 2017

5 great ways to paint without a brush

In my time as a teacher and as a mum encouraging my children's creativity I have often found children to get stuck in a mindset of the 'right' way to draw and the 'right' way to paint. I find it deeply tragic when children and adults tell me that they can't do it. Just because you dont' like the result when you put a brush to paper does not mean you are not capable of being a painter. It just means you haven't found your way of painting yet.

So if you feel like breaking free of the 'right' way to paint. Loose the brush and try these five great ideas instead. You might just find you find your or your child's perfect way to paint and release all the creative potential.

1. Dot painting.

Weather to choose to be really messy and get back to early childhood painting with yor finger tips or use cotton buds. Painting with dots is great fun. The rhythmic pattern play is so relaxing. This style links to early paintings and can be seen a lot in aboriginal work.

2. Painting with bubbles

We love doing this in our house. Just mix up a half cup of water based paint, with a table spoon of water to loosen it and a tablespoon of washing up liquid in a large bowl. Use a straw and blow bubbles in the mix. Lay paper over the top and print your own bubbly painting. Just remember to watch children blow and don't drink the paint.

3. Painting with feathers

Feel really old school and use feathers to delicately tickle the paint onto paper. It gives a great wispy, natural flow to your artwork. They are also great dipped in paint and pressed between two sheets of paper to make a print.

4. Potatoes!
Everyone loves a potato print. Not just for infants, potato printing can be taken to a whole new level. Try using cookie cutters to aid you in creating more complex shapes in the potato and then stamp away to your hearts content.

5. Paint with cardboard
Use strips of cardboard to apply paint in smears, like old school masters would have used a pallet knife in oil paintings. Try cutting different shaped cardboard strips, with curved or zig zag edges to experiment with different mark making in the paint.

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Pairfum Reed diffuser review

Review for Pairfum.

It's not normally I get any kind of luxury for myself, let alone have something that does a good job around the house. With our budget being tight since I've been a stay at home mum, the little treats I would once have afforded myself have had to be shelved.

So being sent the luxury bell reed diffuser from Pairfum to review, was such a treat. It came beautifully packaged in gold, cream and black and looks like something you would see in a glamourous London hotel.

The boys could not understand my thrill, why do men not get the pleasure from fine scents, candles etc. That I do?

I set it up in the lounge and soon it was filled with the delicious scent of vanilla. If you haven't used or seen a reed diffuser before, it's easy to set up. It comes as a large bottle of corked perfume, you then add as many reeds as you want. The scent is stronger the more reeds you add and how often you turn them.

This is where it's purpose comes in. If you live with boys, you will know that they can come accompanied by a smell. Sweaty gym kit, socks and puddles left on the loo floor have left my house with a funky smell sometimes.

Not now, in fact I think the reed diffuser is going to permanently live in the bathroom. I did enjoy it's scent in my lounge, but it will work wonders in there!
It has made my house smell wonderful, given it a touch of luxury and me a well deserved treat.

Pairfum offer naturally luxurious couture perfume for beauty in wellbeing:
•             Natural Home Fragrance,
•             Organic Skin Care, and
•             Natural Eau de Parfum.

I was sent the reed diffuser for free from Pairfum in exchange for my honest opinion. To read my advertising and disclosure policy click here.

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Friday, 19 May 2017

Can oils really stop me aging?*

Review for Amaki Japanese Tsubaki Anti-aging face oil.*

When I hit my thirties I thought I was looking pretty good for my age. I put it down to my fairly clean diet and the fact that I don't smoke and I hardly ever have a drink. Yet, over the next six years I do seem to have aged more rapidly.
My eyes crinkle more, I have a frown line that is there even when I'm happy and the pillow creases from my bed seem to last all day!

I think my skin is showing the toll of having a second child at thiry two, dealing with my cronic illness diagnosis and my redundancy from teaching. All these stresses have worked their way onto my face.

So when I was asked if I would like to try out Amaki Japanese Tsubaki Anti aging oil, I was hopeful. This product fitted in with my more natural beauty regime as it is without parabens, sulfates and Phthalates. It is also cruelty free and not tested on animals.

I have been using oils in my beauty routine for a while now. My hair and skin has always lacked moisture and almost instantly soak up any they are given.
Could this oil really turn back the time? I am not looking to get back to my twenties, but would love to loose some of the deeper wrinkle that I think are not really needed on a face of a thrirty six year old.

The Tsubaki oil came beautifully packaged giving a look of luxury to my bathroom side. It looks small, but a little goes a long way and you only need two to three drops, even with my dry skin.
It's smells divine with the scents of Camellia, Japonica, Neroli and Lavender. It went on easily, soaking in and leaving my skin silky smooth.

Has it made a difference?
I've been using it for a week now morning and night. It's hard to say really, I love the way it makes my skin feel and that in itself is a confidence boost, which probably makes me look happier and in return makes me look younger? Skin care is better than no skin care and I am going to continue using it so hopefully I can ward off looking any older, at least for a few more years.

Here's the before pic. My avatar for the blog

Here's the after pic.
Apologies they are both in black and white but I am in need of a tan so I thought I looked a bit better this way!

What do you think? Do I look any younger? My only conclusion from these two pics is I think my hair needs more attention than my face!

I was sent the Amaki Japanese Tsubaki Anti aging face oil to try for free in exchange for my honest review. To view my advertising and disclosure policy click here.

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