Monday, 21 July 2014

Geek Swap! #dicraftswap

Last month over at Dainty and Ivory was Geek swap month. We were paired up and exchanged all the things that we get a bit geeky about! I get my geek on over Tudor history, stationery and books (to a name a few) my partner Sally described herself pretty much as being a bit geeky about sewing which I thought was quite a good thing to be geeky about!

I sent Sally (who blogs at Sally Bee Makes) a couple of fat quarters, one was a black lace type fabric and the other was a piece of oil cloth that I was sure Sally could make something with. I included some chocolates, a mini chalk board, some ribbon and some buttons that I thought were pretty funky.

I was sent a geeky gift from Jenny who blogs at Pretty Column (swaps aren't direct) I got a gorgeous notepad for my letter writing, beautiful, handmade Tudor rose bunting which is so unique I love it. I was also sent some stars for my card making and they are fab I love them. Jenny also put in a bookmark which I think is very Tudor like, so naturally I was really happy to receive that.

This month the theme is Books which I've just sent off. Next months is Disney which may be harder than we think! To sign up for swaps, head over to Dainty and Ivory and follow Hannah, you won't be disappointed.

Cupcake Mumma

Friday, 11 July 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful

I'm on my way to Bath at the moment and being a bit bored and slightly squashed I thought I'd take my mind off things and do a little blog post. I'm feeling particularly cheerful today so let's share some happy thoughts shall we?

1) As I said, I'm on my way to Bath to visit my very lovely friend Kat and her family. Tonight we are having some girl time, getting our nails done and stuffing our faces with pizza (new workout regime starts next week I promise!) for now I am embracing my me time although I do already miss my babies like mad!

2) I'm really happy that myself and a family member have worked out a way to go to my cousins wedding in Cambridge in two weeks. Midge and I will travel together and have a mini holiday in Cambridge and Portsmouth. Exciting stuff!

3) I had a wonderful Story of Mum retreat last Sunday. I met up with some old friends, did some yoga, made gratitude angels which were so much fun! We also chatted, ate delicious good and enjoyed our me time! The next one is in autumn and I'm excited already! Post to follow!

What's been making you cheerful this week? I'd love to know.

Linking up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum

Cupcake Mumma

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Hannah & Hugh Rosehip and Calendula Baby Cream Review

For just over a week I have been trying out a brand new cream suitable for babies and beyond. Hannah & Hugh have produced a natural skincare range perfect for youngsters (and all those above too!) with any skin type, but most importantly to us, a range which is ideal for sensitive and delicate skin. The whole family can benefit from the natural ingredients and delightful aroma of Hannah &  Hugh rosehip and calendula baby cream.

Before I continue, here's a little bit about Hannah & Hugh:

*This skincare range was inspired by Hannah and Hugh’s founder and product developer Pamela Orji, whose desire to find a solution to her daughter’s eczema propelled her business.  Their mission is to educate people to make better choices when deciding on skincare products; especially for babies.
Hannah and Hugh’s skincare formulations have been carefully chosen for their safe and beneficial qualities and are free from parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate, PEGS, mineral oils, synthetic fragrances or colours.
Passionate about the ingredients she uses, which include natural butters such as Cocoa and Shea butter, and essential oils such as lavender and chamomile, Pamela said, "All our ingredients are proudly sourced locally and manufactured entirely in the UK which reduces our carbon footprint. Our children are our future and as such we owe it to them to preserve their world."

Midge has been my very willing volunteer for this review as Little A is pretty stubborn at the moment with showers let alone creams! Both of my children have sensitive skin and both are prone to dry patches in certain areas. Our biggest skin related problem has been their cradle cap and dry, dead skin on their necks. Myself and Midge were very keen to see if Hannah & Hugh's rosehip and calendula baby cream could help.
First things first, we looked at the product itself. We both loved the design thinking it was simple and fresh looking, exactly what you would expect really from a natural product in my opinion.

When we opened the lid I was pleased to see a second cover in place to prevent the cream from going all over the lid itself and causing a mess. Every cream product should have one of those I think.

The cream is a lovely consistency. Not really too thick but certainly not runny which means Midge could do all the applying herself and not make too much of a mess. I'm not sure if it was just us, but Midge couldn't really smell much just by taking a good sniff of the cream. I did get a feint whiff of calendula though. When we applied the cream however that beautiful scent really came out (it reminds me of something from my childhood but I still can't think what!) Midge wasn't too keen on the scent at first so I'm glad you don't get the smell straight away once opened because I don't think she would've applied it so willingly! Once she got used to the aroma (it is a great smell honest!) we found the cream was definitely a 'less is more' type of product which is ideal.

We've been using Hannah & Hugh's rosehip and calendula baby cream after showers and applying several times a day in between to Midges upper arms where the skin is a little rough and to her neck. After just a week there has been a big change to the skin on her neck. The dead skin is finally disappearing (other creams either haven't worked or have been wiped off leaving her skin red and sore) she's so pleased to not have a 'dirty neck' anymore! (Unfortunately I don't have a photo because Midge wasn't comfortable with me taking one.)

I've just started applying the cream to Little A and I think, as his is a little worse, I'll be giving it a little longer and update this review with the results which I know are going to be promising! 
I would definitely recommend this product to any parent (actually my Mum loved it!) and I'd be 100% happy to have this baby cream in my cupboard not just for my older two and myself, but also for even the most delicate newborn skin.

If you'd like to purchase Hannah & Hugh rosehip and calandula baby cream (£12.99) or any other product from their natural skin care range, click this link to be taken to their site. 

I was very kindly sent the Rosehip and Calendula Baby Cream by Hannah & Hugh in exchange for an honest review of their product. All photos and words (except * which has come from a Hannah & Hugh press release) are my own.  

Cupcake Mumma

Monday, 7 July 2014

The South West Blog Social with Yves Rocher

I recently blogged about the South West Blog Social, my very first blogging event held in Exeter. I was super excited about going, had a really good time and came home with a very generous goody bag. I'm still to blog about my goody bag (and make my way through most of the contents!) but today I'm sharing with you some items, perhaps we'll call it a review, of one of the main sponsors: Yves Rocher.

Yves Rocher is a top beauty brand. I have used various products before but not for a long time so what a treat to find not one, not two, but FOUR full sized products in my goody bag. The products are pictured below with the goody bag, also from Yves Rocher.

First of all I want to share with you this gorgeous exfoliating shower gel. It is 200ml of 100% natural fruit seeds and raspberry scented goodness. 98% of this product is made of natural ingredients and the seeds are so gentle on my skin I feel like I'm having a lovely, relaxing shower rather than feeling like I'm rubbing sand into my skin. I have very sensitive skin but I have been able to use this shower gel every day so far which is unusual for me when it comes to these particular shower products because sometimes they irritate my skin. I'm very pleased with this product!

The second item in my goody bag was this Yves Rocher Elexir 7.9 This doesn't smell as divine as the shower gel nor the Argon Oil Balm, but it still gives off a pleasant aroma. This product I have used almost every day (a question of remembering rather anything else) and I can definitely feel the difference to my skin. Whilst I'm not quite ready to testify to how it works on wrinkles (but I'm getting there!) I can say without a doubt my skin feels smoother and looks brighter. When applying the cream, which isn't too thick nor too runny (so the perfect consistency) the product simply feels wonderful to gently rub in, making my skin feel smooth and soft.

Again, this product has more than 90% natural ingredients mainly made up of a combination of 7 plants with 9 patents which are recognised for their anti-ageing properties. The cream is developed for normal and combination skins which suits my skin just perfectly.

Next we have Nourishing Argan Balm which is amazing. Honestly, it's the best smell ever. Yves Rocher select organic argan oil from Morocco, which is then used with orange blossom oil (the reason behind the beautiful smell as soon as you open the lid) There are other ingredients listed in this balm such as Shea butter, olive extract and rose water which are all known to be very good for the skin.
I have been using the Yves Rocher Argan Balm after my long, hot showers and it's the perfect way to end my me time. I don't use a lot of the balm because I believe a little goes a long way with this product and after a few weeks I still have a fair amount left.My skin feels smooth, fresh and I feel incredibly relaxed thanks to all the wonderful scents (which don't fade straight away might I add.)

I love how the packaging and product reflects the colour of freshly crushed argan oil (gold if you couldn't guess) and is in keeping with where argan oil originates. The product is actually titled 'Tradition de Homme' which I think refers to the women in various countries extracting the oil in a very traditional way, even until this day.

Finally, last but by no means least, I give you the best mascara I have honestly ever laid my hands on. I have incredibly long eyelashes and even a good eye lash curler and all the tips and tricks have failed me. However, Yves Rocher's Sexy Pulp ultra-volume Mascara has ended my beauty problem! The mascara itself is thick and jet black. The wand is slightly shape to ensure no lash is left behind and you can get right to the base of your lashes, giving you the volume that this product promises. Below I give you my wonderful face with one eye made up and the other left in its sad, long lashed state so you can see the difference (without curlers) and another photo once I had applied the mascara on both eyes.

As I said, I have absolutely not used my curlers to add anything to these photos and that is why I am raving about this product so much. It looks good and it does good and I'm over the moon.

A massive thank-you to Yves Rocher for getting behind such a brilliant event and for providing us with such wonderful and generous items to take home with us. I feel spoilt rotten! 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The A-Z of Me: Anxiety.

I saw that The Life of Dee had written a post the other day inspired by Duck in a Dress and I thought it was a great idea. So a couple of times each week I'll post a letter and tell you all a little bit more about myself! I'm quite looking forward to this! To kick it off, something that I've struggled with all my life: A is for Anxiety.

I suffer both General and Social Anxiety. General anxiety makes things tough at times with excessive worrying, nervousness, an over active imagination and there are a lot of 'what ifs' asked when I feel particuly anxious. I have a fair bit of control over my general anxiety, it's not something that has a major hold over me anymore which pleases me. It'll always be something that comes and goes I suspect.

Social anxiety is what cripples me the most. I certainly have faced my fears in regards to social situations a good few times (oral exams in school, plucking up the courage to sing in a school choir, meeting online friends for the first time, climbing snowdon with a large group and taking part in Mama Retreats) but each and every time I have to face them it never gets easier. I always think of excuses, I always have to force myself through doors, onto trains. A constant fear of looking stupid and having people laugh at me is something I cannot shift.

My anxiety (socially) I believe is a complete result of suffering excessive blushing. Blushing isn't uncommon and I've blogged about it before but blushing quite badly, or at least feeling it badly is totally debilitating. It's still more common than I realised; although many people have written to me to tell me they suffer too, I have never personally met someone and seen them blush. The reason it affects me so badly is because I'm not actually embarrassed about anything, or ashamed or shy. The confident and care free me is not able to come through the minute I begin to blush.

Some people tell me these things aren't as bad as they seem. But they feel pretty bad and that's enough. CBT helped my anxiety immensely and my low dose of anti depressants help me no end as well.

Anxiety is a part of me. Sometimes it feels truly awful and there are many times I've wished myself dead to be honest. It's also brought out a strength and honesty in me I could never of imagined I'd have. Going all the way to Bristol, alone, meeting Kat for the very first time, travelling together to Wales and spending the weekend with a large (to me) group of people and climbing a mountain with them (I hate heights!) was amazing! Anxiety brings lows, but it also brings me incredible highs when I walk away having accomplished something I thought I could only dream of. I feel I can tell other sufferers it really is possible and have the pictures to prove it!

Let me know if you've blogged about you through the alphabet, I'd love to see your posts! If you suffer from anxiety too feel free to get in touch.

Cupcake Mumma

South West Blog Social 7/6/2014

Recently I attended my first ever blog event. There were less than 100 bloggers attending the event and I was travelling up with my sister Issy so I wasn't throwing myself in too deep.

We arrived in Exeter a little early, both very nervous and not sure what to expect. We had a quick look around some shops just in case we fancied a break later on then headed back to The Oddfellows Bar which was situated just outside the town centre and looked incredibly tiny! Once inside it was clear the bar went back and had an upstairs, so it wasn't too bad.

We collected our coloured bands and attempted to settle ourselves in, pretty much failing! We both felt very overwhelmed and contemplated leaving there and then but strangely for me, it was I who insisted we stuck it out. So we perched our bottoms at a spare table and watched the goings on. It was clear a lot of people were arriving in groups, or at least couples. A lot had met before and were greeting each other like old friends. I'm not going to lie, it was incredibly difficult and I realised if I was alone I would've been out of the door quicker than you can imagine. Sliding up to people or trying to poke your head into a circle of chatting women is so very difficult and I'm not sure people are aware of how it looks to those of us who are more quiet and anxious. There were plenty of smiles exchanged my way and everyone was totally friendly, so it really does just rest on a confidence issue.

Pretty soon we were joined by fellow Lifestyle blogger Aimee (Twenty Oddball) who we chatted with about blogging and family amongst other things. Shortly after we were joined by the lovely Jenni and Louse from Quiz Clothing (check them out! Seriously lovely clothes an a lovely site!) we spoke about Quiz and briefly about other work they were doing at the event before receiving a cute biscuit each and having our photo taken.

We sat down to eat a bit of lunch which was very nice. Being Free From it's always a worry and it may have been chips and salad but it was a lovely portion of homemade chips and a fresh salad with a yummy dressing on top. I was nicely full before heading upstairs to catch the first chat (and briefly bumping into the lovely Alexander from Medicated Follower of Fashion) by Maria. This session wasn't of personal interest to me, I was merely sitting in to take notes for a friend but I was really drawn into the discussion and some interesting questions were asked. I stayed for another session then headed out for a breather when I realised I just wasn't able to mingle very well. My sister and I ventured out to browse a couple of shops and settled in a book store (heaven) with a hot chocolate!

We returned a little later to grab the ending of a speech which included some good tips on being yourself and organising your blog management. I've made a Pinterest board inspired by the talk titled 'What makes me, me' do stop by.

I went downstairs after the talk because there were a lot of people in a fairly small room for the raffle draw and unfortunately that was a recipe for a near panic attack. All held together I browsed the business card section and signed a big pink card with my blog name in the media room. I thought this was lovely and I'm glad I had the quiet time to look through all the cards properly. Little did I know I won a gorgeous set in the raffle!

The day ended with an overall positive feeling, possibly helped by the break we took. We took home a fabulous goodie bag each which I will blog about separately because this post is long enough already!

All those goody bags!

Massive thank you to the hosts of this event, A la Jode and Dippywrites who were both so friendly and did an amazing job. A big thank you for bringing something closer to Cornwall!!

Cupcake Mumma

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Papery Love! #2

Today I am sharing some papery love (inspired by The Reading Residence's #bringbackpaper) I have notebooks, stickers and books to share with you all. Enjoy!

What I've Read:

Very different from my normal book reading, I've gone with a bit of harmless chic lit in the form Fiona Niell's The Secret Life of The Slummy Mummy. I can never identify with these novels although I think you're supposed to in way (at least to make you feel better) but I have laughed out loud a few times and certainly cringed, I managing myself as Lucy in a few of her highly embarrassing situations.

What I'm Reading:

I'm currently reading another nursing book titled 'Catching Babies.' Since reading The New Arrival I have fallen in love with these real life accounts of nursing, health visiting and midwifery in the 70's and onwards. I really recommend this book, as I did the previous title.

Up Next:
Back to the usual stuff for me with more Tudor related reading. I'll be picking up Betrayal in the Tudor Court as my next book to lose myself in.

Now some papery love! I bought some dessert themed stickers to add to my letters from Fox and Star who is a fantastic seller and has lovely items on her Etsy store. I purchased a gorgeous notepad from Waterstones for just under £3 whilst I had a break from a recent blogging event to explore Exeter a little.

 Finally, I ordered a selection of vintage inspired cards to make some cards for swaps and special occasions.

I purchased a pack of vintage cards for a recent gift swap.

Do you like any of my recent buys? Do you have any papery love to share? Leave me your posts below!

The Reading Residence

Cupcake Mumma

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Little A's First Speech and Language Assessment

Yesterday, I bundled Little A in his buggy and headed to the local health clinic where we were going to be meeting A's new speech and language therapist for the first time. I was pretty nervous about the whole prospect to be honest. I wondered how A would react, if the therapist would be kind and reassuring or a bit stern and unfriendly making both myself and A completely anxious. I literally had no idea what to expect from this appointment but I really needn't have worried quite so much!

Our therapist was absolutely lovely and incredibly friendly and natural with A who wasn't bothered by his surroundings at all, he just sat with the toys in the room as I went through some questions with the therapist. This is what happened, in no particular order (incase anyone reading is facing an upcoming assessment and is as clueless as I was!)

First off, you consent to your child being observed in that session and any further sessions, plus you will be asked if you consent to the therapist discussing your child if there are other concerns raised (so health visitors for example) and lastly, a consent to your child being observed in their nursery or school setting if they are in one.

A check of personal details (address, contact numbers and child's date of birth)

If they attend school or not or are due to start (A starts pre school in September)

What playgroups they attend, if any

What my concerns are (and then any following questions were tailored to my answer which was that I thought he was behind, he doesn't use sentences, we don't have conversations and he isn't able to tell me what's wrong/what he wants/if he's unwell I have no idea if there are no other symptoms etc)

Any concerns with their behaviour?

Is general health ok? Had a hearing test? Any other concerns?

Do they use bottles or dummies?

Those are the questions I remember most clearly. As I said, based on your responses you'll get other questions asked to give the therapist a clearer idea of your worries.

With questions out of the way Little A and I were left to play while the therapist listed any words or sentences she could make out. She didn't write much down I can tell you! This lasted about 10 minutes when she then joined in playing along too and interacting with A. It was concluded that A definitely doesn't appear to have any problems with his hearing, and that he clearly wanted to communicate with me but was lacking the words he needed in order to talk to me properly. She was encouraged by his positivity and enthusiasm so this was brilliant news.

The outcome?
After half an hour of play and observing A, I came away with some ideas and future appointments. He'll be assessed in August before school and the therapist has said she will write a report to his nursery to give them a heads up so they know he's being assessed and having some extra help, something they'll be used to. She'll observe him in school when he's settled in properly I suspect. We've been told to carry on as normal but to give him choices rather than asking him questions he can only say yes or no to. To help with any frustrations, we've been advised that learning some sign language with him would be really helpful in the mean time.

I feel really positive and happy with the outcome of our assessment. I was worried I would be made to feel guilty for doing certain things that could've hampered his development. Don't you love mum guilt? Yes he's behind but he'll be chatting with the rest of them in no time I suspect!

Right, pass me the remote, I've got some Mr Tumble to watch.

Cupcake Mumma

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Beautiful, Simple Notebooks by

If you've been reading my blog or know me on line elsewhere for a while, then you'll know I love stationery. From wonderful writing paper, pretty pens and stickers to notebooks big and small. I have a fair few, some I still haven't written in but will be used in the very near future no doubt!

My most recent notebook has come from the lovely people at who create personalised items for you and your loved ones. You can select a range of notebooks from hardback to spiral ones, a selection of different colours as part of the different ranges and of course you can personalise your notebook with your name and, if you so wish, a little saying underneath.

I'm not a fan of spiral notebooks so I chose a hardback notebook priced at £12.99. This notebook came with a choice of font colour (blue or pink) and as you can see I chose blue for a change. I'm really, really pleased with my notebook. Inside the pages are lined, I dislike blank pages in my notebook, I don't see the point in a notebook without lined paper. The personalising of the book let's everyone know it is in fact my book and nobody else's (looking at you Midge!) and a little favourite of mine is the ribbon attached so I don't go losing my place

The notebook came very handy at a recent blog event I attended and was the perfect size for my slightly-on-the-small-side sized handbag (another plus!) A big thank-you to who sent me this notebook in exchange for an honest review.

Cupcake Mumma

Going Green-Fingered to Save Money

I've been cutting back much like most of the people I speak to these days. We rarely take a bus or taxi, we buy as much as we can value or own brand in the supermarkets we shop around in, we use charity stores (I love this one!) and genuinely just try to make things last longer clothes and food wise. The only thing I don't do and have never done is grow my own fruit and vegetables.

I'm the daughter of a gardener yet my Dad didn't pass on any green fingered genes (much like my mum who is wonderful at sewing but never sat me down to learn!) I haven't the first clue what I'm doing but I know i want to grow my own produce and I want to save money. As part of the Money Does Grow on Trees challenge from debt free direct I picked some seeds, compost and a little shelf unit (because there isn't much windowsill room in my house!) which was all kindly sent to me so I can blog our growing journey and hopefully blog about how much money we'll save when it comes to pulling our veg out of the soil!

I've planted some herbs (I bought these myself) and the children planted some strawberries with their aunt which are also on our windowsill. Here they are growing away several weeks ago:

My lavender has been moved into a slightly bigger plant pot but my other herbs died! We also planted some potatoes! I found this big tub after a toy box clear out, made a few adjustments to it with help from my Husband and planted the spuds with help from Midge.

Hopefully I'll be planting more fruit and veg (both a mix of my own purchases and seeds from this challenge.) I'm really hoping I can grow something! I've worked out I could save around £20 a month (regardless of season! In fact, in summer it would be slightly more because of all the strawberry buying!)

Do you grow your own? Do you have a nice big space, an allotment or are you on a smaller scale much like myself with pots everywhere!? I'd love to know and especially always appreciate your growing tips so my challenge isn't a total fail!

Cupcake Mumma