Clean & Fair From Traidcraft Review

This Clean & Fair from Traidcraft review comes to you after a two week trial period, and boy was it needed! We have had a busy spell here at Casa There and Back Again… I was away in London for three days, then we had a bout of family illness and then we had to get the place sorted out again, so the chance to put our elbow grease to good use with some new products was a welcome distraction from work and illness!

The lowdown

clean and fair

From left to right we have:

Lemon and lime multi-surface cleaner

Lavender breeze laundry liquid

Lavender and aloe handwash

Lemon citrus washing up liquid

Why Clean & Fair?

This review is part tried and tested and part awareness raising; we need to educate ourselves about the products we use in our homes, and palm oil is something I’ve been concerned about for some time, this graphic from Traidcraft shows how palm oil is used in our day to day lives, in short, it’s everywhere!

Palm Oil graphics

But it’s not fair trade, much of it isn’t sustainable and whole ecosystems are being destroyed to produce it.

Traidcraft are working to challenge the assumption that demand for this versatile product can only be met by mass-production. Instead Traidcraft’s Clean & Fair range sources palm oil from small-scale farmers in Ghana who are working with nature rather than destroying it. When we use Clean & Fair products we know the benefits will go to some of the poorest farmers in West Africa.

Clean & Fair is the UK’s first ever fair trade household cleaning range

Tried and Tested

We used Clean & Fair products for two weeks, actually we tested them for two weeks, we’ve been using them for longer owing to their generous size and muck-busting abilities!

The range is eco-friendly and made from natural and plant based ingredients which is a big green thumbs up with this blog!

First up the moisturising hand wash, made with fair trade coconut oil and palm oil with moisturising aloe and gentle lavender this was a treat for my hands and well as my senses after a few weeks of cleaning up after a family illness! Some lavender products can have a really synthetic floral smell, this was just like my freshly cut lavender instead and pepped me up! Joss is really into washing her hands at the moment and asks for ‘slippy dippy soap’ before meal times, she loved Clean & Fair – “smells ‘licious” – high praise indeed!

The lemon washing up liquid is a great grease-booster, easy to see how we will get 75 uses from this bottle as you need just a smidge to give great bubbles that cut through grime.

The lavender breeze laundry liquid was my favourite product, it scented my washing beautifully and cleaned really well at lower temperatures too, even on our cloth nappies! It left my towels really nice and soft and I found that I didn’t need to use as much as my usual liquid which was a pleasant surprise!

wash

And finally the multi-surface cleaner, it gave a lemon and lime hit that cut through highchair grease and cleaned my sink a treat!

Clean and fair does what it says on the label and performs brilliantly in the home; some products like the laundry liquid way out-performed our current products, and the peace of mind from knowing we’re supporting producers and in our case supporting local too (Traidcraft is based just down the road from us in Gateshead!) makes this range a great choice for our family!

Check out the Traidcraftshop website to find out more. There’s currently 20% off the range until midnight Monday 14th July.

Disclaimer: Traidcraft sent me these items for review purposes, all views are my (and Joss’!) own

8 tips for life as a no car family with kids

Can you really do family life as a no car household? We live life as a no car family and get by just fine, but there are some things to think about and some things I wish I’d known about along the way to starting our family.

Here’s our lowdown to life as a no car family with kid!

8 tips for life as a no car family

1) Choose the right pram or buggy / pushchair for public transport

We chose our Silvercross Surf because it’s really nippy for public transport, with narrow back wheels and great all terrain turning it was a must for us, a pram needs to fit into tight spaces on buses and metros when you’re a car free family and ours is a breeze to push, I do a lot of walking so a nice easy steer is essential. The suspension allows for greater volumes of ‘stuff’ to be carried too. Downside? Really small space underneath for shopping, see solution in tip three!

2) Good coats and shoes are vital

Toddlers walk reallllly slowly! Consequently the whole family really needs decent coats and shoes, you can’t dash about with a toddler so you need to be well prepared for the weather, my toddler loves the rain, me, not so much, so I need a good raincoat to keep me dry so I don’t get as bothered by the downpour!

3) Make shopping easier with better storage

I invested in a great pram friendly shopping net that lets me use all thes space under the pram saving me having to shop daily, it’s not always easy to get it home but this way I can carry more than I’d manage just under the pram and it spreads the weight to avoid a dangerous shopping bag buggy tip that we’ve all seen happen and fretted over.

4) Plan ahead

So you can’t just nip to the shops for an extra pack of nappies/wipes/food whatever… When you can’t get out as easily as you might if you had a car you do need to plan ahead a little but it’s not a big deal if you get in the habit of list making and thinking ahead.

5) Make the most of gym-free exercise

No really, getting out and about in the fresh air without the luxury of a car is great exercise!

6) Relax your schedule

You just can’t do as much when you can’t hop here and there by car, but it’s actually quite nice to enjoy life at a toddler pace. So Joss and I only manage to get out for one activity each day? So what? She likes to nap at home in the afternoons and I like to cook, everyone wins and there’s none of that rushing about. I won’t lie and say some days we do miss out on things, another toddler group, softplay or we can’t ‘pop’ to the shops or swimming pool, but it’s all she’s ever known and she loves public transport!

7) Take a break mama/dada

I only learned this recently, yes you want to get the 2pm bus home and you’re tired but don’t rush about. I have learned to take the time to stop for a break before we head back, it’s not light work pushing a pram the 20 minutes home so Joss and I often stop to enjoy a drink or a sit down on a bench somewhere to just catch our breath before we head off again, lesson learned, I’ve got the energy to chase her about when we get home instead of flopping down knackered!

8) Consider carrying them

And finally, you could do worse than consider a sling as a public transport using / walk everywhere parent! Our baby carrier is so well used and has grown with her, it’s invaluable for days out without a car!

What about you? Do you have a car? Do you sometimes leave it home to enjoy a ride on the bus or train, or to walk? What are your tips?

Working away from your family

Home life

Being a parent working away from your family is really tough but you can get through it. This mumslist is brought from Sunningdale Park where I spent three days with work this week.

Sunningdale Park is an ex-civil service college, it’s stunning, has really well established trees, bunnies on the lawn, a gorgeous lake, but it’s missing something; my family!

homesick

Here’s my five tips for working away from your family:

1) Take them with you!

Consider whether you could take your family with you/have them visit – Hannah from Mumsdays travelled to Brighton with her husband and son recently so they could spend their free time outside of work together, this is a great idea if it can work practically for you

2) Quality time

If you have to leave them behind give yourself some quality family time before you go, Joss and I took a trip to our favourite museum and shared some really special reading and cuddle time before I went, and Daddy and I took some time to have a date night too, it meant I felt ready to go

3) Dump the guilt

I had to go on this trip, it was a big annual awayday and all staff have to attend, feeling guilty about going doesn’t help anyone and doesn’t make leaving easier, remember you’re paid to do it and plan in more of that quality family time for your return

4) Think team

Try to make life easier for those who are at home, they’ll thank you for it! I try to get ahead of the washing and get a decent shop in so that it makes life easier for my woring husband, he could have done this himself, sure, but we work better as a partnership and I wanted to leave him a step ahead so they could enjoy their quality time together on evenings after work, and so he could rest up a bit more when bedtimes arrived

5) Try to enjoy it and share your experiences

I don’t want to be the parent who brings something back from trips to make up for being away, instead I want to share my experiences with them and so I do try to enjoy a bit of downtime when I’m away, it’s something I do maybe three times a year but that still feels like a lot when you have a toddler at home that you really miss. Last time I travelled to London I took Joss’ favourite (OK not favourite, that would be silly!) toy with me and photographed him in and around the Big Smoke!

I can’t say it gets any easier to say goodbye but the return I got last night was so warm and welcoming that I appreciated my little family all the more!

What about you – Do you work away? Does your partner? How do you get by?

Blog life and Inspiration

Quiet times as work busied up this week, but I’m getting back on it with a great post about my trip to Liberty of London, fabric love coming up soon! Here’s some inspiration in the meantime!

10488237_10152115647382471_6206972337697768922_n

(Source: Liberty London’s Facebook page)

Mums' Days

- See more at: http://mumsdays.com/mums-list-18-nap-time/#sthash.caKpCJMy.dpuf

Washi tape notebook pocket

 

washi tape pocket notebook

As I can be working on a wide range of research projects at any one time I like to use a different book for each one. I really rate Paperchase notebooks as they’re pretty good value and come in a wide range of colours and sizes, I add this washi tape notebook pocket to the front of each to store my notes and any interesting documents I pick up along the way.

This is one I made for our holidays last year; I added it to our travel journal to store our ticket stubs and leaflets which I use for scrapbooking. The nautical washi tape has had a LOT of interest, that’s Paperchase too!

You can do the same with any notebook you like if it has a sturdy cover, using just a piece of cardstock and some washi tape adjusting the measurements to suit your needs.

Washi tape nautical close up

I simply cut a piece of card to the height of pocket that I’m happy with, fold the bottom of the card up at a height of about one inch and then fold the card in three, taping the fold lines with my washi tape and leaving the top of the pocket open then taping all the edges folding the washi tape down the middle to make a sturdy pocket. I then stick the pocket into my notebook with strong glue.

If you like you can cut a notch out of the middle section of your card to make opening the pocket easier, I also added another strip of card to make a second pocket for smaller ticket stubs, handy!

(NB I buy a lot of stuff at Paperchase but this post is not associated with them!)

 

Poundland memo board hack

I’m really busy with work right now, so I thought to myself, you know what? You could really use an hour to procrastinate missus!

I used the time wisely to upcycle my old poundland memo board with some washi tapes; after a bit of repositioning my poundland memo board hack was complete!

Poundland memo board hack

Still productive as it’s a) useful for helping me organise and b) helps make a dent in my washi collection

Work 0 Play 1

I accept my Liebster Award with thanks!

Thanks to the lovely Hannah at Mumsdays who nominated me for a Liebster Award!

liebster-award1

A Liebster Award is an award for bloggers, a way to say, hey, I like your blog! It’s a bit like a chain letter, I answer 11 questions from Hannah and then nominate more bloggers with less than 500 followers to answer my 11 questions, here goes!

What is in your handbag right now? (no taking that half a kitkat out)

My purse, phone and keys, a pair of Joss’ socks, some almonds, a diary and many, many sweet wrappers that need to go!

Why did you start blogging?

I started out blogging 18 months ago as a way of keeping a record for my little girl, I wanted to track our journey through parenthood and I’ve always enjoyed writing so it was a way of keeping my mind busy and engaged during maternity leave. I am one of these people who have many varied interests but I found taking time out of the world of work freed me up to be a more creative homemaker both in play, cooking and craft; being on a tighter income but valuing eco-friendly approaches meant I had to be even more creative with money, blogging about it all kept me sane!

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Not being very good at self-promotion! I love what I do but I have to put on my big girl pants to get it out there!

Who is your blog idol? Present company accepted

It’s hard for me to choose just one, I have so many, but I drop into Lulastic… each week, I love her thrift posts but more than that it’s her commitment to honest to goodness writing and eco-living that I really admire!

What’s your favourite – Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and why?

I get more enjoyment from Facebook but I get so much inspiration from Pinterest that I’d have to choose pinning! I’m here if you’d like to follow me!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I’m a real home body and love Bill Quay, it’s my spiritual home the North, but I have family in Holland and it has such a great feel to it that I’d love to be with them more too, I’d live half and half here and there given the chance!

How many kids would you like to have?

I get asked this all the time at the moment – this and, are you planning another! I will sidestep this in the way folks do the sex question in the Guardian, I ain’t telling!

If your house was on fire (and everyone was safe, dog, cat, kids, etc), what would you grab?

Joss’ memory book and my jewellery box would probably be about it, I’m not terribly attached to things in the way I was pre-family life, hubby, dog and kid, the rest would be a nice to have but nothing I’d really be mindful about grabbing!

What’s the best film you’ve seen in 2014 (doesn’t have to be recent!)?

Intouchables, set in Paris the brilliant Francois Cluzet plays an aristocratic quadriplegic looking for a new care assistant, Driss, an out of work street-smart young guy turns up looking for someone to sign his Social Security papers to prove he’s seeking work. Phillipe offers him a trial as his carer and the rest, well you’ll have to see for yourself but it is phenomenally good, phenomenally!

What thing (quote, book, song, movie, idol, etc) get’s you motivated to be the best you can be?

Should I go with a dishonest answer or a cliche?! Before every public speaking engagement, big event/anything where I need a confidence boost (which you lovely lot know I really do not enjoy putting myself through) I put on some music and shake it out, favourites include Lee Moses’ Bad Girl (if you’ve seen the most recent series of Girls you’ll get this even more) Voodoo Child, something really funky! I also have a quote above my desk by Maya Angelou

0b84da01b0317926f0832335702f49d8

This applies heavily to the work I do with charities and in supporting them to campaign, both sides have given me strength when I’ve needed it. I also draw a lot of strength from my latest tattoo, it’s no happy accident that I can see it when I’m writing, it spurs me on to stay grounded and says to me “I shall not sink”

anchor tat

What is your signature dish?

I really need to write up the recipe for this, my leek, fennel and potato gratin is my fave thing to eat ever, it’s the most comforting meal, so I love to cook it as I know it’s gonna hit the spot!

So my questions:

1 What do you enjoy most about blogging?

2 Do you have a favourite thrifty tip?

3 What do you like to do to relax?

4 What did you want to be or do when you were growing up?

5 Where do you take your inspiration from for blog ideas?

6 Do you have a favourite song or piece of music and why?

7 Which five people living or no longer with us would you invite to your dream dinner party?

8 What one thing would you tell your sixteen year old self?

9 What’s your biggest blog challenge?

10 What’s your fondest memory?

11 Will you share your favourite ever blog post with me please?

I’m tagging these lovely folks and I hope they’ll accept their award and blog their responses!

Jenny from wethreeplustea a new blog but very entertaining

A blog I came about through Love All Blogs, the very sweet Dorothy Whiskers who writes an online mag for 6-10 year olds which I think is a brilliant idea

and finally for services to recycling and some blooming great ideas Vicky Myers Creations

Shear good luck at Bill Quay Farm

I hate Charlie and Lola; there I’ve said it.

Joss on the other hand loves it, especially the episode Lucky Lucky Me. Herein lies an example of the jarringly poor use of of language that I don’t like:

Lola: Maybe today I’m absolutely the most luckiest person in the whole world. (sings) Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky me-eee-ee

 

All being said, we’ve seen this so many times that lucky lucky me popped into my head when we were out this week, how lucky is Joss to live 30 seconds walk from an amazing urban farm?

This week the sheep shearer came down to Bill Quay Farm and Joss got to have a good look at the action.

freshly sheared sheep

She said that the wool felt ‘soft and comfy’

toddler sheep shearing

After a brief run in with a goose that was giving the stink eye…

geese

We ended the day with a few wooly pictures made from the fleece!

all's wool that ends wool

A great gNappies review

gNappies offer a great way to make the move into cloth nappies. I’ve posted frequently about the eco, thrifty and gentle to babies skin benefits of cloth bumming; these bright and soft cloth pants act as a reusable cover to house either cloth inserts, or biodegradable disposable inserts can be home composted (wet ones only) or binned. We reviewed this ‘sposie option.

gnappies purple review

Often one of the questions I get asked about cloth nappies is about managing out and about, on holiday, and with childcare. Now I use cloth full time, but I find it handy to have something disposable on hand for poorly tum times or holidays, having this option of a biodegradable insert would solve these issues, could smooth the transition to cloth and give new parents the confidence to take cloth nappies out and about knowing that they won’t have to carry a poo around with them (genuinely this is a concern I hear a lot!)

I love the range of colours this brand delivers, I’d also heard great things about fit so was looking forward to giving them a go!

Here’s my rundown of gNappies pants:

1) The whole package

I really liked the little card that comes with the pants, if you’re new to cloth this is a really handy guide to cloth bumming from newborn onwards, even covering off umbilical cord care and cloth nappies.

gnappies purple review book

The design feature of gNappies that I really liked the sound of was a back fastening for tots that can take off applix nappies, this feature gives a great fit and stops cheeky antics in their tracks!

The outer shell of the pants is made in the softest of soft cotton, I wish I could capture it in a photo, trust me, it’s soft!

gnappies red review whole nappy

The inner shell is a waterproof pouch that snaps into the outer pant and holds your insert. This is very handy because you can use the outer again, changing the inner and reduce the number of pants you need too, thrifty!

gnappies red review

2) The fit

The slim fit of the medium size pant works great for Joss, but there are five size ranges and two sizes of inserts going up from newborn to 15kg+ although not a birth to potty style nappy I benefit from something that best fits Joss for the size she is as she is a skinny minnie and doesn’t change her shape much so I do value a great fit and gNappies deliver.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3) The inserts

The inserts looked like a giant sanitary towel, so giant I couldn’t see how they could possibly fit in the natty little pouch, but they do, and they give the nappy its unique shape popping in easily. These inserts are really thin to give a great fit, but their biodegradable filler made from made of cellulose, fluff pulp and super absorber does what it says on the tin and absorbs really well. We have a heavy wetter and the nappies went 3-4 hours as I’d expected.

4) The eco-bit

The inserts can be home composted (wet ones only) or binned. When the nappy is soiled, simply remove the disposable insert, dispose, and tuck in a new insert for a fresh change. As we all know conventional disposable nappies do not break down, it’s estimated it takes 200-500 years per nappy! These compost down within 3 months which is a huge deal for the planet.

5) Washing and drying

The best thing about this nappy for me was the drying time, wow, I was not expecting them to need just an hour on the line in the sun, our other cloth nappies take 3-4 hours so this is a great improvement

As cloth nappies go these are at the pricier end of the spectrum, but I say that with a caveat as you need fewer outer pants with this option, especially at the toddler stage where they need less frequent changing, I think these are a great cloth-starter nappy and a great fitting nappy for older ones too.

(Disclaimer – we received four gNappies pants to get us started, all views are my own)

Family Fever

Mollie Makes Shoe Clips and More

I love anything that can jazz up a plain outfit or pair of shoes and love shoeclips. I’ve been making my own for a while and have found that cheap clip-on earring backs picked up in craft stores make a great base for them!

Mollie Makes issue 41 came with a great set to make your own shoeclips, a la these:

Mollie-Makes-41-gifts
(image from molliemakes.com)

My Own Take

True to type I decided to make up a variation on the original Mollie Makes shoeclips so I added some gorgeous Liberty Tana Lawn Betsy fabric and made bows instead of a pompom shape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA