The School of Art Book Review || By Teal Triggs & Daniel Frost

As a mum to three boys, it's so important that I encourage them to continually learn and develop their skills and to find new ones. All three of my sons are different and we embrace that, although they are different there are a few base skills that they're all interested in as are most children; maths, telling the time, sports, creative writing and art. 

I remember being around six when my own dad decided to teach me about 3d objects, how to shade and how to draw realistic images - I was engrossed and I think it was the start of my passion for the creatives. These days I do teach my sons all I can, I also find that they respond well to visual lessons such as books or Youtube videos. 

The School of Art by Teal Triggs and Daniel Frost is one of those visual aids that have been a huge hit in our house with all three of my sons. The book itself although it's very educational the illustrations stop it from becoming boring. 

The books a pretty lofty sized square with forty lessons split into three terms. Each lesson covers a teachable art lesson that simply makes sense. Some of our favourites were: 

How does a line begin? || Lesson one sounds very basic but it's also one of the hardest things to do freehand. This lesson gives great examples and ideas for line work such as creating dots first and then joining the dots to make lines. 

Can we see colours that aren't there? || You know, this is a question I had never considered and I took advanced art and then art and design at college - not once did our teachers ever really discuss this topic. This lesson covers eye tricks and how looking at certain shapes or colours together can trick the eyes into seeing 'in-between' tones. 

How can we tell a story by using pictures? || This is lesson thirty-five you can actually see the illustration for this below. 

Not only is the wording easy to follow but the illustrations lend themselves to the lessons really well. It's sort of like the dummies guide to art by pictures. 

My eldest son loved this section which came under the ''What different things can we use to make art'' it got him thinking about the other types of art that he's made that would still be classed as genuine art. His understanding was that art equalled paper and colour - he has Aspergers so his literal thinking is very black and white, reading this section and seeing the almost engineering type of illustration helped something 'click' in his genius brain. 

This is the illustration for ''Why are ideas important in art and design?'' I absolutely adore this image and this section as it gets the boys thinking about how they can take an obscure image and turn it into a real tangible art form. When we reached this section my youngest son who's six was asking if he could actually draw a sword made of chips or would that be silly, personally I thought it was genius because who doesn't want a picture of a sword made of chips?

This was my middle son's favourite section as he's always been a huge fan of comics and short stories. This lesson taught him how we could move through his ideas in a limited amount of spaces, the illustration of a butterfly's life was the perfect example to teach him about transitioning. 

My eldest is nearly ten and my youngest is six - this is the type of book that isn't limited to an age range of gender. As an adult, I found I also learnt lots of new ideas and skills and will happily pull this out when I'm planning my next creative project. 

The book costs £14.99 RRP but you can pick this up for less over on Amazon. If you're child's still of school age and you know you're going to be roped into many home art projects then I'd fully recommend picking this up. 

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** This was sent for review from Mumsnet but I accepted as it was on my wishlist on Amazon. All words are my own and I wasn't forced to write any reviews unless I wanted too **

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Want To Stay Sane? 4 Items All Mums Should Have!

As a mother, I know just how stressful parenting can be. Being a mum might be one of the best life experiences, but it is also one of the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, my children are worth all the stress and worry but there are times when staying sane can be a struggle.

I know I’m not alone feeling like this, as I know so many other parents who are at their wits ends. We love our kids, but sometimes, we just want things to be a little easier, right? It might seem like making life as a mum less stressful is impossible, but believe it or not, it’s not.

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If you want to make life a little bit easier, there are four items that you absolutely must have. Trust me on this, these things will change your life.

1. Tablet

Okay, so I’m not the type of mum who believes in sticking her kids in front of the television for hours at a time. However, on long car and plane journeys, while we’re in waiting rooms, and doing boring chores, I’ll make an exception.

If you want to prevent your little ones having meltdowns caused by boredom, having a tablet or iPad is a must. Kids hate being bored; they like to be up and about and doing things all the time. Having a tablet comes in handy, as it’s an excellent resource for keeping them entertained.

2. Watch

Have you ever told your kids that they have just ten more minutes at the soft play centre, only to realise that your phone has died? We use our phones for everything, from taking photos to keeping an eye on the time, but the problem is that the battery can die. We lead hectic lives and often, we forget to charge our phones. We know that we should be more organised, but with a million and one other things on our minds, it happens.

If you want to be able to make sure that you are always able to check the time, wearing a watch is the perfect solution. You can pick up some great watch designs online - the Esprit watches are an excellent choice, for an affordable price. 

As a mum, a watch is a must as being able to check the time is vital. But as well as that, watches are also a great way to add a little extra glamour to your outfit. Us mums often feel like we could be a little more fashionable, and by adding a stylish watch, we can be. 

3. Washer dryer

Yes, these are expensive, but they are also a great investment. Kids make a mess wherever they go; they throw food over themselves, jump in muddy puddles, fall over in the dirt. Children are notorious for getting whatever outfit they are in filthy, in just a few short minutes.  

For us mums, the stress of having to get everything washed and dried can be a nightmare. That’s why having a washer dryer is something that you should consider, as it allows you to get clothes cleaned quickly.

4. Easy to fold stroller

One thing that causes the most panic for us mums is having to get out and put down our strollers with one hand. In the other we have our key, changing bag, little one, and goodness knows what else.

If you are willing to make an investment in a new stroller, you should be able to find one that folds up and down with a simple touch. No more faffing about pulling this and that, you can get pushchairs that take one simple touch. How amazing is that?

Anything that makes our lives easier, us mummies should have. Whether that’s a tablet to keep the kids occupied or a pram that can be put up and down with one finger, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we find ways to reduce our stress and stay sane.

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Nice Package || Benefit's Amazing Beauty Offer!

I'm a sucker for a good bargain but only really when it's a brand I love or a brand or product I've wanted to try for a while. Benefit are one of those brands and over the years I've fallen in love with many of their products, They're Real in particular.

I heard about their customised kit offer last week and initially I thought 'pah' it probably wasn't going to suit my needs that much because there's really only a selected few products I would jump at purchasing and most bargains consist of buying products that may look good but won't really get used. It was only when I clicked over that I realised how awesomely fantastic this kit is because you can choose your own products - and - save money in the process. Hells Yes.

There are three stages to creating your 'kit'. First you choose your base product, you can choose from:

The POREfessional Face Primer - I personally chose The POREfessional. I know it works, it's light enough to smooth out my wrinkles and pores but light enough to make me feel like my face is naked.

Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow! - You can also choose  a shade to suit your skin tone and it seems they have all shades in stock. Apparently this is supposed to cover and brighten your skin.

Agent Zero Shine - Marketed as a powder version to The POREfessional. Some bloggers had issues with the packaging but loved the products, others not so much.

I've never tried Hello Flawless and Agent Zero Shine's always been less durable on my combination skin.

The next step is to choose your pop of colour. You can choose from:
The iconic Rockateur blusher - Rose gold multi-dimensional tones to give you a pop of natural colour, highlight and brighten your skin.

Hoola bronzer - Soft toned bronzer to give you a natural glow.

Lollitint - If you are looking for a cute pop of feminine pink or a subtle youthful glow then this is the product for you. With the whole strobing trend you could totally rock some Lollitint on your cheeks, brows and cupids bow for a cute but natural strobe effect.

I personally chose Rockateur because I love that it is a build-able colour and, the packaging's also pretty awesome.
And finally onto your peppers.

They're Real mascara is my go-to lash definer simply because it's easy to apply, doesn't smudge and my super short and stubby lashes are noticeable with this blacker than black formula (there are other shades if you'd prefer not to opt for black). The only thing negative with it is it's tough to remove but on a positive note, at least you can be sure it's not going to leave you with panda eyes. If you're after a less defined lash you can opt for

Roller Lash which is Benefits newest mascara formula. Get some curl on those lashes.

If you don't fancy mascara there's They're Real Push Up Liner in a variety of shades which a lot of bloggers have been raving about. I've yet to try it but apparently the packaging makes this liner super easy to apply.

Oooh, there's also free gifts guys! You can choose from:

Longwear Powder Eyeshadow - In my opinion is far better than the MAC baked shadows for pigmentation and durability. I actually wore Dear John eyeshadow to my wedding eleven years back! You can also choose from

 Creaseless Cream Shadow - Ten shades to choose from. Nudes all the way to charcoals so you can go full out smoky eye or get your natural on. I'd also wear this as a liner during the day too.

Ultra Plush Lip Gloss - Shades vary but you have six shades to choose from. All choices will leave you with a wet lip look so if you're a matte lover you should keep that in mind when choosing your freebies.

I'm sure I saw on the website that they were giving you a makeup bag also to hold your kit in. The whole kit would cost you in excess of £90 (depending on which products you choose) but Benefit are doing it all for £66 which is an absolute bargain because it contains products for everyday use and each product type is usable throughout all seasons, price per wear is phenomenal.

Skinflint Tip | Cause being a skinflint is just wise sometimes.

 Have to shop for teenagers or kids at that in-between stage? This is a perfect option. It's not too in-your-face and garish and the packaging leads it to be suitable for all ages from teens to adults. You'll get a bargain and save money and they'll get an amazing gift or two.

 If you're a super bargain hunter you could also buy another, split them up and use as gifts - I know I'd be super grateful for Benefit for Christmas and no-one needs to know you got it as a bargain deal *wink*

Which products would you opt for in each stage? You can find the offer over on the Benefits website guys.

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6 Ways To Primp Yourself Before a Night Out

When you’re going out for the night, you want to make sure you look your best. Looking your best is much to do with the smaller details as it is the big details. I have a few must do’s that I swear by on a night out; they help me to look my best! Take a look and see what you think:

Preparing my Skin

My skin on my body and face needs to look it’s best if I’m heading out, so I make sure I prepare it properly. I usually start doing this a couple of days in advance; that’s how committed I am to having nice skin! I make sure I exfoliate and keep it moisturised. I’ll usually give myself a home facial the day before too. I always get in the bath first so that my pores are open and ready for hair removal. This ensures the smoothest skin possible. Once I’m out, I would love to wear one of the bathrobes by Richard Haworth so I can feel like a new woman! Smooth, moisturised skin is also a must! 

A Healthy Glow

A healthy glow makes me feel and look better instantly. I’ve used a number of self tanners, but I really like the ones you apply in the morning and then shower off before getting ready! I’ve used instant tanners and although they can offer a good glow, if it rains, it all runs off! 

Lip Exfoliant

Dry lips have no place on a night out. Use a good lip exfoliant to scrub them smooth, and then apply a good lip balm. This makes sure my lips look smooth, plump, and kissable for my night out. They’re in amazing condition to apply my lipstick then too! I like to keep up this routine when I’m not going out to keep them looking healthy. 

Curled Lashes

Curled lashes make such a big difference to your eyes. They open them up and make them look so much more fluttery. I like to heat the curlers up with the hairdryer before I use them to give the curl extra staying power. Curling your lashes can even eliminate the need for fake lashes! 

Polished Nails

Polished nails help to compliment your outfit perfectly. I can’t go out without polished nails! I like them to compliment my outfit usually, but sometimes I make them contrast if I’m feeling a little adventurous. I love patterns on my nails too

Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening helps me to show off my best smile, but I don’t spend hundreds at the dentist. I buy tooth whitening strips and I’ll use one before I go out as I get ready. Sometimes, I’ll even do a course of treatments for up to a week before the occasion. Strips are so much easier to use, and you can get so much done while wearing them. 

If you use these must do’s before your night out, you’ll love the results! Promise.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice-Cream Perfume || Six Ways

I remember first being taken by fragrance at the age of four when my mum decided to burn a gorgeous frankincense and myrrh oil in the oil burner, the resinous yet sweet and warming scent pepped my interest and from there I kind of fell down the fragrance rabbit hole. My mum was never into the typical sweet and feminine types of scents, instead she preferred obscure brands or notes that were more unisex or male marketed - although 4711, Samsara and Opium were used on occasion. 

I remember wishing that she wore the typical female marked perfumes like my friends mum, wishing that she had a signature scent. I'm not sure why, though. Now looking back I realise she did indeed have her own signature scent and that was essential oils - patchouli, frankincense, sage, myrrh and lavender. 

Because of my mums unusual preferences I too have become a bit of a fragrance snob, I know what I love and for a few years I stopped buying big brand scents because they all started smelling similar. I hated that I was paying a fortune for an alcohol-based scent that everyone and their dog was wearing so, I didn't. I was lead to Etsy, at that time Etsy was a relatively new company and they had a section where you could post about your buying needs and sellers would bid on the job. I purchased so many custom blend perfumes through that service that I promised I'd never go back to 'typical' perfumes. 

Fast forward a few years and I read about a brand called Demeter who had created a fragrance based on the yummy Play-Doh scent and you know, I adore that scent! I purchased it. It was a typical perfume (not custom blended) but still totally unique. It was that perfume that lead me to fall in love with the Demeter brand and now the Library of Fragrance scents. These days they offer many singular scented perfumes - my favourites as Grass, Musk, Marshmallow and Incense. Because these are single scents you can effectively create your own custom blends just by mixing and matching various perfume notes. 

My work-go-to scent is three squirts of Musk and 2 squirts of Marshmallow which gives you a fantastic yin-yang scent that's suitable for work but still uniquely feminine to give you a confidence boost. The Library of Fragrance have just announced the arrival of Mint Chocolate Chip perfume which kinda feels like another yin-yang scent and has intrigued me. To show you that it's not a one-trick pony here are six ways you can create your own custom blended perfume with this gorgeous scent. 

Here goes: 
1 // First up you have the option of just going it alone. Mint Chocolate Chip is fresh, icy and minty, but the cream smoothes this out to a slightly sweet blend. Don't worry though the chocolate chips neutralise any ability for the sweetness to turn into a cloying mess so you are left with a minty, sweet but smooth perfume - YUM! 
2 // Mint Chocolate Chip  + Sunshine  | Brighten up your fresh, sweet and smooth blend with some light and airy Sunshine notes. If you prefer a fragrance that's light why not opt for three sprays of Sunshine and one Mint Chocolate Chip. If you want to ensure that your minty scent last a bit longer after dry-down then why not opt for three Mint Chocolate Chip and one Sunshine. 
3 // Mint Chocolate Chip  + Oud | Oud is a gorgeous resinous scent that's unisex and earthy. What these types of scents do is change fresh, sweet, oceanic or floral notes into a sexier more pheromonic fragrance. It's like you're combining the feminine and the male to create a perfectly balanced fragrance that's both suitable for men and women. I'd advise you to opt for three Mint Chocolate Chop and two Oud for a sexy scent or Two of each to freshen up the warm resins for a more unisex blend. 
4 // Mint Chocolate Chip  + Grass | OK hear me out with this blend. I have Grass and it's a sweet, earthy and fresh scent that's suitable for all seasons. If you prefer a fresh and airy scent that's feminine Grass combined with Mint Chocolate Chip is going to give you exactly that. The sweetness of the Grass scent and the balanced sweetness of the Ice-Cream would combine perfectly, add in the fresh earthy scent of cut grass and the earthy mint and again you can imagine why this would work. 
5 // Mint Chocolate Chip  + Snow | Prefer oceanic scents? While this won't give you full oceanic it will give you the icy air of an oceanic scent that's suitable for use out of Summer. Fresh and icy mint with cool and icy snow air will take centre stage with this blend. Yes the mint will give you a hit of sweet and bitter but that will only prolong the scent after dry-down. 
6 // Mint Chocolate Chip  + Dark Chocolate & Vanilla Ice-Cream | Foodie scent lovers rejoice! So by now you realise that the bitter Chocolate scents add warmth and longevity to a scent, combining the Mint Chocolate Chip with at least one Dark Chocolate spritz you're going to have an absolutely perfect fragrance. If you prefer sweetness in your blend then the Vanilla Ice Cream is a must because it's also a creamy sweetness scent and isn't going to fight against the creamy sweetness of the Mint Ice-Cream. Why not try two squirts of Mint Chocolate Chip, one Dark Chocolate and one Vanilla Ice Cream. All the goodness of puddings without the calories, I don't know about you but I find wearing sweet scents actually stops me craving sweet foods. 

Which option would you choose? 

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Organise Yourself || Cute Stationery For Mum, Chosen By My Sons

Here in Scotland the schools went back at the start of the week and while I'm grateful to be back into the swing of things I have to admit I really felt like crying leaving my babies (P5 and P1) at the school, probably even more so now than I did when they first started school. I blame the hormones! 

In the lead up to going back we spent a lot of money on things that would get them in a good frame of mind for their return, organisation is key to success - or at least I fully believe it is and getting my sons to become naturally organised thankfully has been easier that I could have imagined. 

The key to getting it to work? cute stationery of course. 

We spent days window shopping together looking for pieces that would make them stand out and that show their personality without losing functionality. My eldest son wanted to make sure that if someone stole his pencil-case it would easily be defined as being his by the items in it - that's genius if I do say so myself *haha* Along the way I found my sons all having strong opinions on what I should be buying for my organise station (sort of a one-stop are in our home where they can do homework, we can pay bills etc). The boys know I have a weakness for journals, notebooks, pens and cute stationery pieces so they already have got to grip with my stationery style which tends to be either very girly, bohemian or very hipster.

 These pieces were their top picks.

I own around three main diaries and planners and I use each one almost daily. I have one at my work, one in my house as a family dairy where any new appointments or changes have to be written in (by any of us) as they arise and one that I take about with me, I also always carry a planner because my brains like a sieve.

I think the hardest part about becoming organised is implementing a change of routine, starting with a planner and spending an hour or so completely filling it in with all of the information you need at short notice will be enough to feel a difference, so much so that starting and maintaining a diary should come easily as a next step.

Needless to say there were always going to be some poop's or bums in this because let's face it, poop and bums are hilarious to little boys. They genuinely thought my work colleagues would be jealous of this sharpener. While they may not be jealous it's definitely an ice-breaker isn't it.

When they chose that bag I knew they 'got me' it's so bohemian and bright but still on trend and I am truly in love with it. They debated on a few bohemian styled bags, but this is the one they settled on because of the green zig-zags. The wood pencils were chosen because I currently use similar wood pencils for drawing, I love them as they're great for gripping even when my pains playing up and my grips quite weak.

The moustache was chosen by Coop my middle son, he loves the whole beard and 'stache thing which is blatantly obvious by his Youtube account 'Mustache Cop 26' - you should check it out and leave him a little comment if you have a moment because it would really make his day.

Overall I'm so happy with their choices - yes even the poop sharpener. What do you think you're children would pick for you and other mummies out there if they got the chance?

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