Saturday, 20 December 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I can't believe we are only a few days away from Christmas now. This year seems to have flown by. So fast in fact, that I only just realised that I haven't write a post about our tree yet. I know, I know, everyone has a tree at Christmas, but ours is special. It doesn't just have baubles and tinsel. It has family love and pride. 

You see, every year we collect new baubles, fun and funky ones that are child-friendly and suit our bright, informal style. We always go for a traditional style in out house with green, red and gold being the base of our declarations but then like to perk it up with a pop of colour and modern thrown in too. 

So, of course we start with the lights, too many to count, covering the tree. And then gold tinsel to give it a base colour. 

For the actual decorations, we have a range of different ones that we use. I start off by colour-coordinating them. Yes, I am a bit obsessed with order and would never have two of the same decorations next to each other on the tree. 

So I start off with all the big red and white decorations. With the boys helping, we spread them out, all over the tree until they're all on. We then move on to personalised decorations which sit right at the front if the tree. One got each of the boys (we'll have to get a another for bump next year) and then on to the snowmen and fabric tree hangings. 

Next up is a set that we got last year of round, different coloured baubles that have cute pictures or Xmas sayings on them. These get placed around the tree just to give a bit of a different colour to the tree and look stunning. 

Finally it's the turn of the mini red glittery baubles. We have a lot of these and they go on in any place where there is a little space, just to fill the gap and of course, not forgetting the star on the top. 

I'm not really one for having a star on the top, I'd much prefer Santa up there but just can't find one that I like. So this year, to add to our range of tree decorations, we made our own. You can read how we made them here. And the finished one has been popped on to the top of the tree with the star. A priceless tree topper, made by the boys and something that will always be cherished. 

That's it, our finished tree. Do you have a set colour scheme for your tree or do you just go with the flow? Have you or your children made any decorations for the tree this year?

Friday, 19 December 2014

ASK Italian #MakeItSpecial

ASK Italian is inspired by Italy from the authentic Italian food to the easy going atmosphere, warm service and fresh design and so when we were asked if we wanted to give our local restaurant a visit, I knew that we would be in for some lovely pizzas, pastas and Italian cuisine of the finest around. 

There are loads of ASK Italian restaurants around the whole of the country but only one in Leeds, right at the other side to us. But luckily, it's easy to get to and we couldn't wait to pop in and sample their food. 

ASK Italian in Headingley is in a beautiful building and is stunningly decorated throughout. Giving and authentic Italian feel to the whole place and the smell of the food is divine. The menu is bursting with a range of different dishes, from pizza and pasta to risotto and meat dishes and so it took a while for us to eventually decide on what we wanted. 

For starters, we both went for Panzerottini which are dough balls. You can pick between Fontal cheese and chilli or pepperoni, we went for a mix of the 2 so we could have a taste of each. Absolutely scrumptious and flavoursome. We saw the chef making them, from scratch, in the kitchen area and both enjoyed working our way through them. Even Charlie had a try of them and they were so moreish. 

Charlie is a lover of food and they do a great kids menu at ASK Italian. A starter of vegetable crudités, garlic bread and a dip. The mixture of fresh, crunchy veg and warm garlic bread was a huge hit with Charlie and he loved that he could dip them all straight into his sauce.

For mains, my husband went for the Pork Belly Porchetta which is a Tuscan classic. Gorgeous, slow-roasted pork belly in herbed red wine sauce, served with roasted new potatoes and greens. The pork itself was a good sized piece and all the veg gave a very hearty meal. 

I opted for Sea Bass Al Forno which is a fillet of sea bass baked in a white wine sauce with new potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. Gorgeous flaky fish which just melted in the mouth worked so well with the sauce and accompanying mushrooms. The waitress did tell me that the dish was burning hot as she placed it on the table but, as I was trying to get a photo, I grabbed it and burnt my finger. Sometimes I need to listen more haha!

For his main, Charlie had Spaghetti Al Pomodoro which is spaghetti in a tasty plum tomato sauce, with fresh tomatoes and garlic. Charlie ate most of the dish which was huge and loved trying a new flavour as well as getting himself messy with the sauce. It's nice to see that a restaurant caters properly for children instead of just giving them boring foods they get a big, bold, burst of flavour, just like the main menu. 

Me and my husband opted for the Dessert Sharing Board to finish as then we could have a few of the desserts and try them all. This board includes slices of warm Chocolate and Almond Cake, Italian Cheesecake and warm Almond, Plum and Pistachio Tart plus two scoops of vanilla gelato. My favourite was the plum and pistachio tart which was so moist and tasted sumptuous with the ice cream whereas my husband loved the chocolate and almond cake.

Strawberry Meringue Stacks were Charlie's dessert. Hazelnut meringue, vanilla gelato and fresh strawberries which looked absolutely divine. All the flavours mixed well to give a yummy dessert for a child and Charlie enjoyed devouring this and then helping us finish off our dessert too. 

The whole meal was absolutely delicious and we all enjoyed our meals and having a try of each others too. This is the most food I have seen Charlie eat in one sitting. Not only did he eat his own food, but he then tried some of my fish and helped us finish of our desserts before going back to his own and devouring the meringue and strawberries.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the friendly service we received, the fact that we could see into the kitchen and watch the chef's preparing and cooking our food and then of course the amazing food which was fabulous. If you want more information about the food, or to find your closest restaurant, visit the ASK Italian website

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Visiting London With Children This Christmas

For a while now, we have been thinking about taking a trip down South. It's somewhere that we have never been before, the furthest South I have been is Birmingham, which is not very far at all. But I would love to visit London and see the amazing tourist attractions, visit everywhere that I always see people talking about and see what makes it such a fabulous Capital that everyone wants to go to, especially at Christmas.

We would have to travel by train down to London which takes a good 2 and a half hours from here in Yorkshire and so, if we were to do the trip, it's going to need to be soon. I really can't imagine a newborn liking the trip and so I was thinking about going at the end of December or the start of January. Not too close to my due date and still time to plan what we can do during the days. 

I have been looking at staying at the Holiday Inn Bexley Hotel. I would rather be staying out of the hustle and bustle of busy central hotels and stay somewhere quaint instead which is why I decided on this one. Being close to Bexley station, it means that we can travel quickly to attractions of inner London and work our way around visiting all the places we want to go to. 

There are many places that I want to visit whilst in London and it will be a stretch to fit them all in. I've been trying to list the places that we most want to go to and ranking them in order to make sure that we get to do these first as, being such a long journey, it's not something that we are going to be able to do often. 
Photo by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee, from
London Eye
The giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames is supposed to give amazing views over the city. With it being 135 metres tall it means that you can get a good view of everything and the huge glass capsules give a 360 degree view of the city.  

London Dungeons and Madame Tussauds
The dungeons recreate various gory and macabre historical events in a humorous style aimed at younger audiences. The special effects and rides give it all the fun factor that young children love and I know that my boys would love to visit and have fun whilst also learning about historical events too. 
Madame Tussauds is one for us all really. I love how there is a huge range of was work models, from celebrities, to footballers and even famous television characters and it would be a fab day, especially for the kids who would love to see the Marvel super heroes.

Christmas Lights and Fireworks
London is known for not only it's amazing Christmas lights display, but also for the fantastic fireworks that they set off on New Years Eve over the River Thames. We watch them every year on the television but, this year, I would love to be down there, getting a full view of the amazing Christmas and New Years spirit of London.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, I'm sure is at the top of most peoples list of places to visit in London. Even though I'm not a royalist, I imagine that seeing the home of the Queen is quite breathtaking and you never know, we might even get a peek of her popping her head out the window hehe.
Photo by Matt Banks, from
Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Parliament
Probably the most iconic bridge in London, Tower Bridge is an almighty bridge which crosses the River Thames. I would love to just walk down it (I may be a little too scared to walk over the glass floor) and see the view towards the Tower of London. 
The Palace of Westminster and it's huge clock, Big Ben, are also on my list of places to visit. Getting to see the clock that is iconic in so many films and also know that this place, this building is one of the ones where the biggest of the countries decisions are made. 

There are so many more places that I would love to visit though. The Globe Theatre, where William Shakespeare launched many of his plays. Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square too. It's so hard to decide on where at the best places, not only to walk around and admire, but that are family friendly and cater for little legs. 

Have you ever been to London? Where would you recommend for new arrivals to the city? 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

34 Week Pregnancy Update

Okay, I'm a few days early with this weeks update, but since I had my foetal assessment scan today, I thought I'd update you all with how it went. 

First of all, let me remind you why I had to go. 

I've always measured 3 weeks ahead of my dates until last week when I went to the midwife and was measuring on my date exactly, which, for my measurements, meant that I was then 3 weeks behind where I had normally been and should have stayed on that same line all the way through my pregnancy. 

So, bubs wasn't exactly measuring small, but he was measuring less than usual and so I had to come in for a scan. 

My scan went quick and, even though I was there for a serious reason, it was nice to get a quick peek of our little boy before he arrives. 

The sonographer did all the measurements, weight etc and then let us know that bubs was totally fine. He is weighing around 5lb 1oz which is perfect for my dates and she said that he looks totally fine in there. We got to see him opening his mouth and giving what looked like a smile, it is was cute to watch him playing with his toes and seeing how he moves about in the limited  space. 

Afterwards, I saw the midwife and she said that there were no concerns at all and then we were on our way. 

So, bubs is fine and we got a sneaky peek at him, only around 6 weeks left and we'll get to meet him.