To blog or not blog?

It’s been a far while since I wrote a personal post for my blog. I have had opportunities to do some reviews and it has been great to get back into my writing and the chance to work eith new people. In case you missed them Little Leaf Eco  Chicken Dinner with Countdown and review for Optically.co.nz

I wanted to write this post because my poor blog has been so neglected for almost a year! I never had any intention to take a break or leave it so long. Last year was crazy busy. I changed jobs, we went to England for a month for my brother’s wedding, we sold our first home and bought a new one. BUT before we could sell our previous home, we had to put in a new shower, hire a storage unit to declutter, paint, clean, as well as attend open homes, looking for our new home.

I really struggled with poor health last year too. I don’t know why as I have always been generally healthy, but I had tummy bugs, strep throat, plus a viral illness just before we went to England and then after we moved into our new home I got bronchitis. I was not a healthy Mumma. So far this year has been MUCH better.

I was asked by a reader why I had stopped writing? I explained about our busy year and my blog was one of the things that got put on hold. She then said to me that she hoped I would continue to write and she found me to be a sincere mummy blog. WOW reading that blown me away. And it has definitely given me the incentive to get back into writing again.

I enjoy reading other Mummy blogs, I have done for several years now, even before I thought about writing my own. But I do feel I have to ‘compete’ with them, yes silly I know. But the world of Mummy blogging seems to be very competitive and popular, it’s all about like and shares. If your post isn’t liked then no one else sees it, unless the page has an already established following.  

This is actually one of the reasons I stopped writing, I became really disheartened and I definitely questioned why I was even bothering. I have never been a competitive person, but the pressure got to me. I felt my life didn’t live up to what I was seeing in other blog posts. And I also felt because I don’t live in a big vity I was at a huge disadvantage.

Social media platforms changed the way posts are seen, and one thing I refuse to do it pay to ‘boost’ my post. If I did this for one post, would I then have to do the same for other posts?

Sure you could say I’m a tad miffed I don’t have a following but I honestly don’t mind, I write because I want to write. I am relatively new to blogging and who knows what the future will hold.

I needed to take ‘time out’ last year due to family, work and my health. I will still write when I want too. My life is busy enough without feeling like I have to write a blog post.

Thanks for reading,

Stacey

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Review post for- Optically.co.nz

I was asked by Optically.co.nz if I wanted to collabrate and do a review for them. Being a wearer of glasses myself, (I need to wear them for driving and watching TV) I was very excited to get some new glasses.

 

What you need to know

Optically.co.nz was lauched in 2015 and they are one of the largest online providers of prescription glasses and sunglasses in New Zealand.

There are over 3000 frames to choose from, offering a wide variety of brands and styles. So you should find something on there which is affordable as well as being able to browse through the premium brands. There are roughly 31 different designer frames on the website.

The price of the glasses starts from $9, meaning that they are 14 times cheaper than most high street stores. The $9 glasses includes standard prescription lenses with FREE anti-reflective coating.

Prescription sunglasses begin at $49 and there are over 500 styles to look at, there are also a number of designer labels which you may find are well within your budget.

If you live in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch you can expect your glasses to be with you within 10 working days, if you live outside of these areas you will need to allow an extra 2 working days for delivery.

 

Hesistant about buying glasses online?

Worried to purchase without trying them on first? I thought about this too. Optically.co.nz has a virtual mirror, so you can see what you look like in the glasses before selecting the BUY NOW option. And if you haven’t fallen in love with your glasses than there is a 90 day unconditional returns option.

Still not sure about the glasses, well there is also the option to an Home Trial, you can select up to four frames to try on at home, 30 styles to choose from. You can see how they look, fit and ask for your family and friends opinions. If you choose this option, the frames can be with you within 24 hours, try them on, love them? Then place an order and pop your trial box in the mail, Freepost.

I had a good browse through the Women’s glasses and the frames I chose are called Walden Daring.

 

Description: (taken from website)

  • An elegant and stylish pair of full rimmed glasses
  • This pair benefits from slender arms with flex hinges.
  • Secure but relaxing on the nose due to the fine finish.

 

I thought they were different to the current prescription glasses that I have. I used the virtual ‘Try-on’, which was really easy to use. I took a photo of myself using the camera on my phone and when I had done that it uploaded the glasses onto my face, so I had a really good idea if they suited me or not.

I would recommend using the ‘Try-on’ option, just gives you a rough idea as to whether the glasses suit you or not, plus it was really easy to use.

 

The verdict.

When the glasses arrived they were well packed. The case was inside a small bubble bag, which was inside a larger bubble bag. Upon opening the case, you can see that they were well packaged and no scratches or a marks.

To me I thought that the frames look a tad darker than on the website, I have noticed that this can occur for most things when bought online. It can be a gamble buying anything, will I like it, will they suit me? Using the virtual ‘try-on’ definitely helped and I would highly reccommend doing that or using the Home Trial option.

The glasses are lighter in weight that I thought they would be. On the website the measurements are given of each pair of glasses to help you decide if the frames are the right ones for you.

The frames are a little bigger than my other glasses so it has taken me a few looks in the mirror to get used to seeing bigger frames on my face. I do really like them and I am really pleased with my choice of glasses.

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If you are looking for a new pair of glasses or just a second pair to keep in the car or use at work, or even to match a favourite outfit, I’m sure a visit to optically will help you decide.

You can find Optically on

Facebook

Instagram

Overall I am really happy with my glasses, a HUGE thank you to optically for gifting me a pair of glasses to review.

Stacey

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NB: I was sent a pair of frames including the prescription to review, all opinions expressed are my own.

Chicken dinner with Countdown

I was very excited to be asked if I wanted to make dinner to celebrate Countdown’s Price Lockdown. The challenge was to create a meal I hadn’t made before, or something I had always wanted to try, or my twist on a classic. I just had to make sure the recipe included chicken.

I was sent a voucher for Countdown to purchase my ingredients for my chicken dinner. Being a Mum to two young children I understand the challenges of feeding them something they will eat AND enjoy, plus doing it affordably. I purchased a number of items that had Countdown’s Price Lockdown logo for my chicken meal, meaning I got a great deal to feed the whole family.

As a child one meal I used to really enjoy was when my Mum cooked chicken with tomato soup, and with the weather getting colder it seemed a great opportunity to make it for my family and it was something I hadn’t made before.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 750g free range chicken breast (skinless, boneless)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots, (peeled)
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 broccoli
  • 1 teapoon Homebrand minced Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of Homebrand Olive oil
  • 1 can of Homebrand condensed Tomato soup
  • 1kg bag of Homebrand long grain rice
  • 1 loaf of Tiger bread (to serve)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 150-180, depending on your oven.
  • Prepare vegetables, I grated the carrot and chopped it quite small, I also cut the celery in half length ways and cut small. I find for my children they are more likely to eat them and it makes cooking them easier. Chop onion.
  • Put the Olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Fry until the onion is beginning to brown.
  • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and then add to the frying pan with the vegetables when the onion has started to brown.
  • Cook the chicken until all the pinkness has gone and you can just see white meat, remove from the heat and add everything from the frying pan into a dish which is oven safe and has a lid.
  • Open the can of condensed soup and add to the warm frying pan, keep the pan on a low heat. Using the can fill it with cold water and add this to the frying pan also. Stir to combine. Once the soup and water are combined, add the soup mix to the dish with the chicken and vegetable. Stir to combine, place the lid on the dish and put it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. I checked on mine after 20 minutes, gave it a stir and cooked for a further 10 minutes.
  • Once all the soup is combined with the water add the liquid into the dish with the chicken and vegetables. Stir to combine, add the lid to the dish and put in the oven.
  • Whilst the chicken was in the oven, I prepared my broccoli and cauliflower to serve with the dinner. I heated some water in a pan and placed the vegetables in the steamer pan. I also cooked my rice in my rice cooker.
  • Whilst the vegetables and rice were cooking, I sliced the tiger loaf bread and buttered the slices, I thought the bread would be a good to mop up the left over sauce.
  • Once everything is ready, serve up and tuck in.

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This chicken dinner was a HUGE hit, we all really enjoyed it. After talking to my Mum about it she mentioned that she has also added mushrooms into it, but I know my children wouldn’t really appreciate that. Something to remember for the future though.

You could also have this meal with pasta or potatoes instead of rice if you wanted too. I chose to serve broccoli and cauliflower as my children both really like them.

If you go on to make this delicious chicken dinner, I would love to hear your thoughts,

Stacey.

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Cloud Nine Creative

Cloud Nine Creative can be found on the South Island of New Zealand in Christchurch. Lee Sinclair is the lady behind Cloud Nine Creative and most of the items that she sells are handmade. And guess what there is a Sale live now on the website!!!!

I found Cloud Nine Creative during one of my Instagram searches (I’m always on Instagram, yes I’m a little obsessed!). I saw her gorgeous tassel necklaces and just knew I had to have one. I was lucky enough to be offered one in exchange for a review and I absolutely love it.

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Lee sent me some information about herself and Cloud Nine Creative. (The information I was sent is in italics).

When Cloud Nine Creative was started the main product sold was jewellery, but due to a passion of interiors Lee soon realised some of the tiny graphics she was using on her jewellery would work well as larger items. Along with jewellery on the website you can also find cushions, art prints, plates, vases, planters and clocks. The majority of the items sold are handcrafted, and some items are limited edition, to ensure that item is deemed more special. However, the cushions are printed with unique designs and made in the Canterbury studio and the plates and planters are hand painted.

Lee devlops her own products, and uses inspriation from her mood board which is a collection of vlolours and ideas, as well as pieces from magazines that catch her eye. Making things, the planning, the sourcing of items brings her a lot of joy and I think you can see by looking at her work this clearly shows. She tries to source as much material as she can from New Zeland suppliers but at thimes certain things come from overseas suppliers.

Lee explained as a child she has a love for creativity and she was always interested in arts and crafts. This led to pursuing a career in graphic design, and having the opportunity to work in Australia and London for six years, before returning to Christchurch and starting Cloud Nine Creative.

Cloud Nine Creative was fortunate to have not been affected by the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2010. At the time a range of jewellery was created and produced called ‘Love Christchurch Collection’, 20% of the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross Canterbury Earthquake Appeal. Over $10,000 was raised.

A lot of Cloud Nine Creatives sales are made on line, of course this can bring disadvantages as well as huge advantages. Lee explained that online sales are growing all the time, and if people need something quickly and have it instantly delivered to your front door this is great. However the drawback to buying online is you are unable to touch and feel the product you are buying. Cloud Nine Creative products can be found in boutique stores around New Zealand and there is a pop-up store in North Canterbury. Selling online and via shops, Lee feels is the best of both worlds. heck this link for a list of stockists throughout New Zealand.

For those of you who are Blockaholics like myself, you might like to know that some Cloud Nine Creative’s piece was used in the kids bedroom of the sisters Minanne and Sarah. Here’s the link to The Block Villa Wars website showing you the room. The following photos were obtained from Cloud Nine Creative Facebook Page

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Green Magical Forest Cushion $69.00

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Prints avaliable as A3, A2 & A1

 

image IMG_2080The Leather Tassel Necklace I received is the Cornflour Blue one and retails for $65.00. I love it! I find that it goes with most outfits and really adds a ‘pop’ of colour to your clothes choice for the day. Sure, its a little pricey for some people but I think you get your moneys worth from it. Plus, its always a bonus to wear something that is NZ made, I love to support local businesses.

There are at least 10 different colour necklaces to choose from via the website and new to the collection of beautiful jewellery are Tassel bracelet sets, these retail for $49.00. I ABSOLUTLY love them, I don’t have one but owning one is on my wishlist.

 

I felt when looking at Cloud Nine Creative website a lot of her pieces were unique and different. Tassel necklaces are quite ‘in’ at the moment and I find her ones are really nice and well made.

You can also find Cloud Nine Creative on Instagram

 

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Let me introduce……Clever Poppy

I discovered Clever Poppy on Instagram, I’m just a tad obsessed with Instagram. (I’m sure some of you can understand the obsession!?)

One day, I was just looking through the search option, (this is a great option to look through if you want more people to follow on Instagram, you can see what others are posting) and I stumbled across Clever Poppys DIY Kit- Easy Watercolour Art. I thought the finish of the work was really lovely and looked like it wouldn’t be too tricky. I love arty crafty things, as some of you may know (hence my blog name), I’m all about the craft. I have too many craft supplies, (so my husband says) but I dont think you can ever have too many?!

The main thing that caught my attention about the DIY art kit is it is something that can be done with kids. My Little Miss, just loves crafty things. And I really like to be able to do things that include both of us.

 

Julie is the lovely lady behind Clever Poppy, I sent her some questions, and here are her answers.

Can you tell my readers a little bit about Clever Poppy, how did you come up the name and a little about yourself:
I have always been passionate about DIY projects and have made many I love over the years. I recently noticed that DIY projects were becoming quite popular in mainstream media, but while most people love the idea, they don’t have the time spare to get sorted to make projects of their own. So I created Clever Poppy to make it easy for people to experience the fun of creating something beautiful for their home. I studied law and graphic design at uni -wish now I had chosen something in the arts field! After practicing commercial law for 4 years and pretty much hating every minute of it, I finally got the courage to completely change tack and moved into a brand experience / promotions agency. I did that for 3 years and learnt a hell of a lot about marketing and project management, and realised how much happier I was doing something creative. Then I went on maternity leave to have our little man Harvey. While I was on leave I gained a lot of perspective and realised I just had to follow my dreams and start my own business doing what I love. I still work part time in promotions but my main focus is Clever Poppy and this will hopefully become full time down the track. Very exciting and I’m loving every minute so far!!

Do you sell your kits anywhere or just on the Internet? 

At the moment I only sell online, but I’m looking into getting them into stores next year. She did feature in some markets in Auckland leading up to Christmas, lucky Auckland!

How long have you been doing Clever Poppy?

I launched Clever Poppy on 7th August 2015, so it hasn’t been very long! I can’t believe that, it feels like I’ve been doing this for a lot longer, but I guess if you take into account all the planning and prep then it all kicked off in March last year.

Where do you hope to see the business in a few years time?

I would love to be New Zealand’s go-to brands for creative DIY projects! I’ve love to have a variety of kits for sale on my website and in stores nationwide. I also would love to do more freelance work developing DIY projects for third parties.

Do you have a favourite DIY kit? 

My DIY Cooper Magazine Rack for sure.

What’s next for Clever Poppy? Are you able to share what you are planning on doing next?

At the moment my focus is on getting the Clever Poppy brand and concept into the marketplace, and testing various kits to see what gets people excited. Next year (now this year 2016) I’d like to focus on developing kits for wholesale, so you can find me in shops around the country. I’m also working on some freelance project where I am developing DIY projects for third parties, so I’m very excited about where that might lead.

I purchased the DIY- Easy Watercolour Kit for $30, I was really keen to give it a go after seeing what others had created. I loved the idea that everything you needed was in the kit and it would be something that Little Miss would enjoy too. It was money well spent in my opinion.

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After the white-out liquid has been applied

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Before the white-out liquid

The kit includes: 5x Designs- ‘Young and Brave’, ‘Love you to the Moon and Back’, ‘Welcome to the Chaos’, ‘It’s cool to be Kind’ and ‘but first Champagne’

Watercolour paper, paintbrushes, watercolour paint palette, ‘magic’ white-out liquid and DIY wooden poster hanger as well as really clear instructions, with photos to assist you step-by-step. I needed to trace the design and apply the white-out liquid but once that had dried I gave Little Miss free reign to paint away.

When we did the ‘Welcome to the Chaos’ design, Little Miss applied pink and red paint and it looked lovely, but then she discovered the black paint! I really wanted to stop her, but I knew I just had to leave her to do what she wanted and in the end the result looked FAB! I used the wooden hanging poster kit to hang it up, and now it hangs in own home.

 

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Little Miss with the lovely red and pink

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The finished result!

 

I have now bought three kits by Clever Poppy and through following her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest you can keep up-to date with new kits she is either developing or has released. Julie also shares some great DIY ideas you can do at home with the kids or without them.

Just the other day Julie shared that she was looking to add more deisgns to the DIY- Easy Watercolour Kit, I cannot wait to see what deisgns she comes up with.

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Kiwi Mummy Blog review- Sunshine & Doodlebug Gluten free Play Doh

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I was given the opportunity by Kiwi Mummy Blogs to review Gluten free play doh by Sunshine & Doodlebug.

I received two colours, Canary Yellow and Perfect Pink. They came together in a small ziplock bag, with a nice colourful logo and it was clear to see what we had been sent. I noticed there was a note explaining the storage instructions- ‘we recommend you store your dough in the original bag, then place in an airtight container’. I was going to look after this play doh, as most play doh goes dry after a while.

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Sunshine & Doodlebug

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Canary Yellow & Perfect Pink, plus my son’s hand!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunshine & Doodlebug Facebook page has a lot of information about the play doh and photos of the different colours of play doh that are available and it is made with all natural plant-based food colouring.

  • Pistachio Green
  • Racing Red
  • Sunset Orange
  • Perfect Pink
  • Canary Yellow
  • Icy Blue
  • Wicked White

Play Experience

When we discovered we had been sent playdoh, my daughter and son could not wait to play with it, “open it Mummy, open it!” demanded my daughter! They have played with it every day since we received it, hours of entertainment, (ok, slight exaggeration there!) But it has proved to be a good activity to keep them occupied whilst I prepare their dinner in the later afternoon. My daughter chose the Perfect Pink (she’s a pink girl) and that left my son with the Canary Yellow one to play with.

We have collected quite a few cutters, and shapes to use with play doh, so we got those out and the kids got stuck in. They both used the play doh with ease and they love to show me their creations. My daughter is three, and I find play doh is really good for her and it is helping to develop her imagination.

My son is 19 months, I find his attention span is nowhere near as long as my daughters, but he does like to experiment with the texture and rolling it around. He is of course at the age that he likes to ‘taste’ things. So this playdoh has been sampled! I find having the knowledge that the playdoh has been made for kids and as natural as possible, I don’t mind if the odd bit is sampled. Plus, since it’s gluten free this will of course be ideal for children that have a gluten intolerance. And when playing with it they won’t be exposed to any gluten through their skin.

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Our Thoughts

I have noticed it is more firmer than your standard play doh, this is to stop the colours mixing together, I noted on the Sunshine & Doodlebug Facebook page. I like this as I find it really hard to watch when previously my daughter has mixed the colours together and made an horrible brown colour!

This playdoh, if stored correctly should last for several months, which is great as it is proving to be very popular in our household.

The play doh is sold individually and one piece weighs approx 200g and prices start from approx $8. I think this play doh is more than affordable and would be great as stocking fillers for Christmas and for birthday presents.

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Soap Box 

I found out about Soap box thanks to my lovely friend Instagram! Oh how I love Instagram…….

Soap Box are pretty new and only just launched (in October) and they are based in Invercargill (South Island of New Zealand, for those of you that don’t know). Mel and Kim are the lovelies behind Soap Box.

When I checked out their Facebook page I was pretty impressed by the range of products they had a valuable and not just for adults but their are a couple of things available for kids. And instantly placed an order. This is what I got:

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Coconut Ice soap $5, Coconut and Lime sugar scrub and mini Sugar soap $8 (5 in a pack).

They replied really quick to my order and I received my goodies in a matter of days. I have only tried the Sugar soap scrub so far, I’m obsessed with coconut smelling stuff (so I had to order something with coconut in!). The other choice with Coconut was Mango and Coconut but I decided to try the one with Lime in first. One of the things I like most about is it is that it comes with a small wooden spoon, to assist you getting the scrub out of the bottle. I don’t use it each time I have a shower, its my weekly treat! It leaves my skin feeling so soft and smells amazing!!! They can be used on the face as well as the body and it great as an exfoliate, bonus!! I’ve yet to use the small sugar scrubs, but I’m guessing they will be a one time use. And the soap was a nice extra with my order, thanks Soap Box ladies!

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250ml bottle $10

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On the side is a $2 off next purchase if you return the bottle

 

I messaged Mel and Kim some questions (their answers are in italics)
Can you introduce yourselves? Who are lovelies behind Soap Box?

I am Mel and my partner in crime is my friend Kim.

Kim is a graphic designer by trade and also runs another business called Willow Boutique – printed children’s clothing and is the mother to a two year old small tornado.

Mel is the administrator for the Southland SPCA and I have an 8 going on 18 year old

How did you come up with the name Soap Box?

Haha that was Facebook messenger brainstorming between Kim and I; my partner ended up coming up with it after listening to all our terrible suggestions! 

I understand Soap Box has only just begun, with the launch on the website. How long have you been working on the business?

We are very new – our first launch was at a craft show at the start of October! We have been playing and experimenting for the previous 3 months using friends and family as test subjects to ensure we were happy with what we were making. 

Do you make everything yourselves? Did you have any training?

Everything is handmade. Kim deals with the soaps (she has a major soap addiction, this is how we started) and I make the body products. Kim went away and did a soap-making course in Auckland and spent many a hour on you tube watching and experimenting via soap making tutorials. I have had no training – I have found this very similar to cooking and baking which I enjoy doing. I have experimented via Pinterest and You Tube too and watched how other people make things.  

Other than your website and Facebook where else can Soap Box goodies be purchased? Or is that currently work in progress?

We started with the idea that we would stick with markets in Southland (where we are based) but Facebook and our website have gone crazy! We are currently organising doing a “Soap Box” party once a month at a person’s house and letting people try out our products. Everything else is up in the air at present!

What do you hope is in the future for Soap Box?

When we dream big (that is how we usually do it) we are hoping we can give up our day jobs and open a Soap Box shop and build a small empire – haha! 

Do you have any favourites? If so what are they?

Kim is soap crazy – at the moment she is in love with Manuka honey soap (fair enough, it smells amazing!). I love our new sugar whip – soon to be released. And I LOVE our new base scent, Lemon and Vanilla. We both love the body butters – they are fantastic on the skin and seem to work on all skin types. We are very biased and do love all our products, why sell something if you don’t love it?

Is there anything else you would like to add?
The main reason we decided to start this was the fact everything is full of chemicals! We are both parents and we wanted to be able to use products on our children that wouldn’t be harmful but still keep them clean.

Gift Pack $20, 2pack of bombs, sugar soaps, loofa, and vanilla ice cream soap

Gift Pack $20, 2pack of bombs, sugar soaps, loofa, and vanilla ice cream soap

Chocolate and Peppermint $10

Chocolate and Peppermint $10

Lemongrass Soap $6

Lemongrass Soap $6

There are also some great for kids, I’m definitely tempted to get a few things for Christmas presents and I think they would also be good for children’s birthdays.

Sugar Scrubs: Coconut & Lime, Sweet Orange & Vanilla, Strawberry & Lemon, Mango & Coconut and Peppermint & Chocolate

There are lots of things to see and buy, I will definitely be ordering again

Chocolate Fish soap $5

Chocolate Fish soap $5

Allsorts soaps Liquorice scent $5

Allsorts soaps Liquorice scent $5

Soapsicle Traffic Light - Fruity scent $6

Soapsicle Traffic Light – Fruity scent $6

 

Check out their Facebook page, lots of Soapy goodness to check out!

Soap Box website

 

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NB: Photos used from Soap Box Facebook page with permission