22 December 2014

Being A #KurioFamilyBlogger - The First Look

If you have been reading my blog lately, you might have noticed that I now have another badge added to my sidebar. The because I have been unveiled as a #KurioFamilyBlogger. As such, I have been sent a fabulous Kurio Tab to review and see how the boys like it. 

The Kurio Tab is the perfect electronic for young children as not only is it fully customisable but parents can control everything that the children using it can go on, from times spent on the tablet, right up to allowing or disallowing internet use. 

Tablet Spec
Display: 7 inch capacitive touch screen
Resolution: 1024 x 600 pixels
Chipset: Intel Atom Z2520
Operating System: Android 4.4
Storage Memory: 8GB
Camera: Front: 0.3Mpx, Rear: 2.1Mpx
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.0
Speakers: 2 x 1W

Setting The Kurio Tab Up
For me, I found setting up the tablet super easy. You go through the regular settings, time, date etc and then it gives you the option of connecting the the internet and creating or signing in to your Google Play Store account so that you can purchase or download more games in the future. 

You then have to set up your parental profile. From here you can change all the settings of the children's profiles and organise it to suit your children and their ages. This part of the tablet is password protected to stop children from getting access. 

You can then create your children's profiles, up to 8 of them. This means that older children can have their very own settings to younger children and you can change all these to suit. The tablet gives recommended settings which you can use or you can configure your own. From limiting the amount of time that the specified profile can be used and what times of day, right up to internet usage and apps. 

I set a profile each up for the boys, choosing the full protective settings on each. They cannot get online from their profiles and each one is set up just for them. You can personalise with an avatar or use a photo of your child. 

What's On The Kurio Tab
The Kurio Tab is packed with apps and content for children. There are

  • Over 20 games
  • Educational apps
  • Over 150 ebooks
  • Music & Videos
The games are absolutely fab to play. A firm favourite with the boys if Cut The Rope 2 which they love working their way through. It's a plus that, since they have their own profiles, they also get to go along at their own pace and complete all the levels themselves. The educational apps and ebooks are great for learning and reading. The music and videos section goes through websites such as YouTube and so can be stopped with the internet access if you don't want your children going online. 

So far, I am thoroughly impressed with the Kurio Tab. I love the fact that it comes complete with a rubber bumper case to protect it from accidental droppings and that it has safety and security of our children at the forefront of it's design.

Over the next month, I will be letting the boys loose on it more and then showing you how they got to grips with it and my overall opinion after then.

You can fin out more information and view more of the Kurio products on the Kurio website

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?

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

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 freedigitalphotos.net
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 freedigitalphotos.net
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? 

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. 

15 December 2014

Pink Lining Blooming Gorgeous Changing Bag

When it comes to choosing a changing bag, we all know that it should be practical, spacious and have everything you need in a bag, but as mums, we all know that it needs to be pretty too. A changing bag isn't just for holding nappies and everything apart from the kitchen sink but it's a way for us mums to get a bit of style back into our day, even when we look like hell, covered in baby puke, we know that we have a bag that stands out from the rest.

The brand that stands out in the changing bag stakes is Pink Lining and their adorable range of designs. Pink Lining is the brand that most mums dream about when it comes to having a changing bag to die for. Their cute and funky designs stand out and showcase just what wonderful bags they are, not to mention all the hidden extras inside that help to create the perfect bag for mum and baby.

Having a look at their ranges, Yummy Mummy, Mama et Bebe and Blooming Gorgeous, the one that I loved the most was the Blooming Gorgeous range as they have a cheerful tulip and daffodil appliqué on the front of them. This range of bags was added to the collection in Autumn/Winter 2009 and has now become one of the Pink Lining signature baby changing bag styles and I love it.

After much deliberation on which from the range to pick, I went for the Blooming Gorgeous in the Wise Owl design as it's in keeping with everything owl that we have already bought for our little bump and it is a neutral colour and so will match whichever pram I decide to go for and bump and my outfits too. 

The Blooming Gorgeous bag and outside front pocket and 2 external pockets for easy access and the vintage inspired shape opens up to feature a range of extras that you will more than likely need whilst out and about. 2 large elasticated pockets for holding nappies, 2 insulated bottle holders (which can keep bottle warm for up to 4 hours), a small phone sized pocket and a detachable mirror just so mum can make sure there's no up-chuck covering her face before meeting anyone. Not only that but it comes with a padded changing mat and wet zip bag too which are great for whilst out using public changing rooms or needing to do a change somewhere random. 

It is slightly wider than some of the other styles of Pink Lining bags (measuring 38(L) x 25.5(H) x 19(W) cm), giving more room for all your baby bits and bobs and the bag comes with an adjustable shoulder strap which I find really practical and it's long enough to fit over pram handle or to simply throw over your shoulder whilst your carrying your baby. 

I love the look and feel of the bag from the outside, and the material is easy to wipe clean from spillages. The inside of the bag has the famous pink lining bright pink interior which stands out so much and makes the bag extra girly for mum. 

I would definitely recommend Pink Lining Changing bags to any new or expecting mum and also anyone who is looking for a gift for a new mum as they are super stylish but practical also and come in a variety of different designs to suit everyone's tastes. 

This bag retails at £79 and you can see Pink Lining's full range of products here. Do you have a Pink Lining bag or would like to buy one when you have a new bundle of joy?

December Degustabox

I have been receiving the Degustaboxes for a few months now and have always been happy with what's inside them. A little bit of everything to try out each month, from sauces and spices to drinks and treats, there is always something different. This month is no change, with a range of items for us to try out. 

Eisberg Non Alcoholic Wine
I'm not really an alcohol drinker but the Eisberg win is non-alcoholic so is a good idea for people who don't drink, or for if your New Years Resolution is to cut down on the old tipple. It is made in exactly the same way as regular wine but has had the alcohol removed and with only a third of the calories.  The wine is available in Chardonnay, Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling and, even though it is non-alcoholic, I have chose to save this until after the baby is born and try it then. 

Gloworm Premium Mixers
The unique formula is Gloworm Premium Mixers is sugar-free and taurine-free and is available in 4 flavours, Raspberry & Orris which works perfectly with vodka, Cucumber & Apple suitable for gin, Pear, Spice& Lime for rum, Ginger & Lemongrass for bourbon. Again, I haven't tried these yet with me being pregnant but they sound like lovely flavours that will give something different to the drink and a bit of a kick. 

Bahlsen Choco Leibniz
Choco Leibniz are one of my favourite biscuits. They are indulgent and moreish, once you've had one, you'll end up eating the whole pack. And what's more, they now come with caramel too. The finest milk chocolate wrapped around the crisp butter biscuit, with a secret caramel filling inside which absolutely tastes divine. Available from Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

Popchips are popped with heat and pressure to make a naturally delicious crisp with all the flavour and less than half the fat of regular crisps. They have fewer calories and none of the fake colours or flavours. I do like Popchips but am not really a fan of the barbecue flavour ones, although my sons devoured these in no time. 

Bonne Maman Coarse Orange marmalade
The Bonne Maman Coarse Orange marmalade is fresh and zingy and made with shredded orange peels, perfect on a slice on toast in the morning to get your taste-buds perking up. I also think that it would work well spread in between cake slices for a yummy, tangy cake filling. 

Fry Light Infuse
Frylight’s new Infuse cooking spray range helps you to season all sorts of pan fried and roasted food with just a quick spray. It is made with garlic and chilli extracts and means that you don't have to worry about peeling and chopping your own flavourings as they are there, ready in the spray. You simply spray your pan and then cook and for an even more intense flavour, just add more sprays.

The Chia Co Oats + Chia
Chia seeds offer the highest combined plant source of omega-3, fibre and protein, and is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and the Chia Co Oats+Chia are wholegrain oats and chia blended with the finest quality fruits and coconut oil. All you have to do is add hot water and they cook to a smooth and creamy texture, giving you a boost of flavour and well-being at the same time. 

Pukka Herbs Clean Green
Spring clean your spirit with nature’s finest fairly-traded clean green herbs perfect for a detoxing January. The zingy flavour of Sicilian lemons and the freshness of dandelion root give a nice flavour to the drink.

Kent's Kitchen Meal Kits
Kent’s Kitchen is a food ingredients company based in Sevenoaks, Kent, which helps home cooks create delicious meals. Creating a range of culinary delights that make any dish easy to make. We have received a kit from these before and know just how tasty they are and this time I am going to save the kit until Boxing Day and use the left over turkey ad the meat in the kit. 

Overall, I am a little disappointed with this months box. Yes, it does have a huge range of items to try, but a few of these, I have had in previous boxes, and with this being Christmas and the December box, I assumed that it would be more catered towards the big day with goodies to try out for then. 

You can find more information and order from the Degustabox website. You can also follow them over on Facebook and Twitter

14 December 2014

33 Week Pregnancy Update

At this stage, baby should weigh around 4lb's. I've always known that this is a bit off with my baby though as he has always measured 3 weeks ahead. Nothing to worry about really as he always followed that line of being 3 weeks ahead. Well, until now that is...

This week I got to see the midwife again. All was going well until she measured my bump. It is now measuring dead on my dates, which, although is a normal weight, it means that my bump hasn't grown and stayed on the growth line as expected. Until I'm due, I should follow the growth chart and always be around 3 weeks ahead, so since I'm now lagging behind, I'm being sent for a growth scan to make sure everything is okay in there. 

This is just routine and will everything will probably be fine, but it's better to be safe and have a scan, just in case. Plus, it means that I get a sneaky extra peek at bump before he arrives. 

I, of course, will update you all about this as soon as I've had my scan. 

When you think about it though, 4lb doesn't seem a lot when you look like the size of a bump. But, don't forget, it's not just a baby in there. With the weight of the placenta, amniotic fluid, and extra blood, you've got at least 10 pounds of baby and their life-support gear crammed in there which is why the bump starts to feel so heavy now at this stage.

For me, braxton hicks are playing up loads. I know that people say they are 'practice contractions' but come on, I've done this twice before. I don't need practice! Contractions are fairy common in the later stages of pregnancy and it's only when they become close together and regular that you need to be getting ready for your arrival. 

I'll be doing an update next week to let you all know how my growth scan went, and by then, I'll be 34 weeks pregnant then, wow, not long left!

12 December 2014

Win a Trollbeads Leather Bracelet

Trollbeads are part of Danish Design legacy, which is known for its simplicity, functionality and quality. The designs are what drive Trollbeads, using the highest quality material and craftsmanship to create the whole Trollbeads collection. And now they are here in the UK... 

Trollbeads Cambridge is on Market Street in Cambridge, and is the first dedicated Trollbeads store in the UK carrying the entire range of Trollbeads beads, charms and jewellery. 

All Trollbeads in the store are made by hand, they even have a lampworker who comes in and makes bespoke beads for customers. 

The whole collection is stunning and I love the fact that all pieces can be changed around to suit your mood or colour scheme. Today I have a fab giveaway for you. Trollbeads Cambridge have given me a gorgeous Trollbeads leather bracelet to give away to one looking reader. 

The leather bracelet is a lovely relaxed way to wear Trollbeads, its also lighter if you don't want the heaviness of a silver bracelet plus beads on your wrist. The bracelet retails at £25 and the lock is a sterling silver trigger lock, designed by Trollbeads, its fairly heavy and retails at £40 - so the total cost of the bracelet is £65.

All Trollbeads charms and beads fit on the leather bracelets, so you can change your look easily and of course the leather bracelets are suitable for men too. A great Christmas surprise for someone special.

To be in with a chance to win this fab prize, just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. 

Please remember to check the T&C's at the bottom of the Rafflecopter application and our full terms here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the required entries will be disqualified. After the one mandatory entry, others will open up to give you extra entries. You do not have to enter by all methods but these will give you extra entries into the competition if you do. By entering this giveaway, you are agreeing to be signed up to receiving Trollbeads Cambridge emails.

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

Ends midnight 2nd January

11 December 2014

Emma's Bundles of Joy- Hospital Bags

Since this is my third time round for labour, I already had an idea of what needed to go into a a hospital bag for me and bump but having little ones to sort out, as well as constantly being ill from this pregnancy (I swear it's one thing after another at the moment) I didn't really have time to start collecting things for it and started to panic that I wouldn't have it ready in time. 

Then in came Emma's Bundles of Joy to the rescue. 

Emma's Bundles of Joy specialise in pre-packed hospital bags with all the necessities you will need. From nappies and wipes for baby, right up to shampoo and hair bands for mum. It really is a bag of everything you could or probably will need during your hospital stay. 

The hospital bags come in different sizes. The Mummy and Baby Basics Hospital Bag comes with essentials, then there's the Mummy and Baby Deluxe Hospital Bag which has more than the basics included, more nappies and extras for mum. The Super Deluxe Hospital Bag contains everything from lip balm and slippers to a big towel and a maternity/nursing nightie so is the full package. 

I received the fab Mummy and Baby Deluxe Hospital Bag which is priced at £45. Here is a full list of contents so you can see exactly what you get for your money:

Stylish holdall bag (choice of designs)

For mum 
10 maternity pads
10 breast pads      
Travel shampoo
Travel conditioner 
Travel shower gel 
Travel deodorant
Face wipes
Hair bands
Wash bag

For Baby
Pack of 23 Pampers Newborn Nappies
1 pack of baby wipes
Pack of Cotton balls
10 nappy sacks
3 Muslin Squares

Everything included are things that you will more than likely need whilst you are in labour and recovering afterwards in the ward. It's amazing what you forget to pack when you're not prepared so I think it's great that you can now purchase this one pre-packed for you. No mess, no fuss. 

Plus, the fact that most of the toiletries are travel sized, means that you don't have to worry about them taking up all the space in your bag, they are just the right amount that you'll need for your stay. I also think the flannel is a great extra, not only for washing afterwards but mainly for putting across the forehead whilst in labour, to cool down and help to soothe a little. 

Basically, it means that all you need to add are yours and your babies clothing and you're set to go. Simple and easy. And there's enough space in the holdall the hold all the clothing you may need and those pesky extras such as phone chargers, spare change for machines and parking, dummies and whatever else you think you may use whilst there.

Postage, by courier, for an item so big is £8.50 but you can collect from Bolton for free if you live near. You can order a hospital bag direct from the Emma's Bundles of Joy Facebook page, where she'll also be able to chat to you if you need extra's or and looking for specifics in your bag. 

10 December 2014

Frankie & Benny's Christmas Menu #FBFestive

I have been a lover of Frankie & Benny's for a while now and ever since I found out that there is one of their restaurants in The Leeds Light shopping centre, we pop in regularly for breakfast and to enjoy some nice grub. 

I love the style of Frankie & Benny's, an Italian American restaurant, which is like an all American diner. Retro music playing in the background, a comfortable atmosphere, and a menu featuring a mix of Italian and American dishes, so much choice to pick from.

This week, we were invited to try out their new Christmas menu and I really couldn't wait to pop in and give our views. I am usually not one to do foodie reviews as I always assume that, since they know you're coming in, they'll be extra nice and make sure everything is perfect for you. But being a regular customer of Frankie & Benny's, I can tell you that our service was no different than normal. The staff are super friendly and helpful and the atmosphere is lovely too. 

The festive menu comes as 2 courses and is priced at £16.95 with a choice of 16 different treats to choose from. You get to pick between either a starter and main course or a main course and dessert, we of course went with the dessert option as I love a good pud. If you're feeling extra hungry though, you can go for the full 3 courses for £19.95.

Whilst we looked through the menu, Charlie was given a little pack with colours and puzzles in it which I thought was a great idea to keep him occupied whilst we waited for our food. 

Since it was the festive menu, I decided to go for the Frankie's Christmas Dinner. This is described as a half chicken, roasted and served with pigs in blankets, Christmas potatoes, greens, stuffing and gravy. And when it came, let me just say Wow! I knew it was going to be big but oh my, the chicken was huge. Roasted to perfection and totally succulent and juicy. The greens were crunchy and fresh, and the extra jug of gravy was perfect to pour over the potatoes for an extra scrumptious taste. 

My husband went for the Christmas Chicken Pitta which is a whole, fresh, seasoned chicken breast, topped with bacon, cranberry sauce, lettuce and mayo all wrapped in a pitta. Served with fries, corn on the cob and coleslaw. My husband enjoyed the thick cut of chicken with the crunchy bacon to accompany it. As it was the festive menu, it included cranberry sauce which, although my husband liked this, he said it would have probably been better without it on as it gave quite a sweet, different flavour to the dish. Okay if you like big flavours, but my husband is one for simple foods. 

Before we even started looking at the menu's, Charlie had already pointed out that he wanted sausages. He doesn't like mash though and the staff were very accommodating in letting him have chips and beans instead. I like the fact that kids meals come in 2 different sizes, one for younger children and bigger portions for older children. This means that children get the right portion size for them. I was a little surprised that they don't do a festive meal for children though, I thought that a mini Christmas dinner would be great for little ones, but alas, they don't do one. 

For dessert, I went for the Red Velvet Cake. This is a yummy red velvet sponge with a vanilla cream cheese frosting. Served with whipped cream, raspberry coulis and a little pot of ice cream. I loved the difference in flavours between the cake and the cream cheese frosting, it worked really well. For me, I would have probably preferred it without the raspberry coulis as I thought that this was a little too tart in flavour for me but that's just my preference. The ice cream on the side was a nice little extra which just helped it all go down nicely. 

It took my husband a while to choose was dessert he wanted, but eventually settling on the Coconut Brownie Sundae. This came in a huge sundae glass and is basically coconut ice cream and warm chocolate brownies. All smothered in chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis, whipped cream and honeycomb pieces. Now he isn't usually one for big puddings but he wolfed this down. He said that the coconut ice cream was perfect, not overly sweet and worked well with the brownies. The coulis gave it a sharp edge which again worked well with all the other flavours going on in the glass. 

Charlie's meal came with a choice of desserts but he wanted ice cream so went for the Ice Cream Sundae. 2 scoops of ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate buttons on the side. He went for vanilla and strawberry ice cream and loved the fact that he got his own mini sundae glass and he loved mixing the buttons into the ice cream to eat them.

As I said, we eat in Frankie & Benny's a lot so knew that the food and service would be up to scratch, but when it comes to festive meals, they have excelled themselves with choice and flavour and I really can't wait to pop back in and try some more of the festive dishes. 

You can find your nearest Frankie & Benny's and see their full menu's on the Frankie & Benny's website. And don't forget to tweet (follow them on Twitter here) them your food pics with the requested hashtag as they are always running giveaways to win meals and vouchers to visit again. 

9 December 2014

Stocking Fillers For Christmas

When it comes to buying little stocking fillers, it can be hard to find a place that does everything you may need, from children's bits up to little gifts for men, but Stocking Fillers do just that. They provide a website that you can go to, to purchase items for everyone in the family. 

I had a budget of £20 to try and pick a few items for the men in my life (my hubby and kids) and even though I thought that this might have been a hard task, it wasn't at all. It actually took me a while to decide on what to pick as there was so much choice. 

My husband is a bit quirky in his style. He likes things that aren't exactly ordinary so I knew that the Retro Camper Van Mug would be perfect for him. He has been wanting his own cup and so it was great timing really too. It's basically a ceramic mug shaped like a retro camper van. The cup sits on the 4 wheels and the handle is a surf board, just to make it a little more retro and authentic. Priced at £5.99 and coming in 4 different colours, I thought it was a cute, funky gift. 

When I was younger, we had the Pirate Pop Game and I loved playing it. Now you can buy it in a miniature, stocking filler version for only £2.99. Basically, the same premise as the original, you insert the cutlasses one by one until eventually it hits the wrong space and the pirates head goes 'pop' and off he flies. The boys have loved playing with this and I love the fact that such a simple game is still capable of keeping children interested. 

The Pull-Back And Go Racing Car was a perfect stocking filler for Charlie who is a lover of cars. Simply pull it back, let it go, and off it whizzes. It even makes a little sound as it goes along the floor. The Wooden Sailing Boat is super cute and the boys love playing with it in the bath, they even fight over who gets to play with it first. Lucky it's only £2.99 so I can easily afford to purchase a couple more of them to keep the fights at bay. Made from solid wood and painted with bold, bright colours, it's a hi with both boys. 

I chose the Kaleidoscope as a little extra present for Thomas as he loves anything to do with pirates and periscopes so I thought that this would be a good toy for him to play with too. And I was right. For such a simple device, it is so effective in capturing the attention of children. Thomas loves the fact that he can hold it to his eye and give it a twist to see the colours and shapes change position. 

View from inside the kaleidoscope 
Now a stocking filler website wouldn't be complete without a few Christmas trinkets and I just couldn't resist this cute Christmas Snow Globe. We have a few snow globes now and this mini one fits into our collection perfectly. A real glass snow globe that features an assortment of characters, ours has a penguin, is so magical when you tip it up and then see the snow falling around him. 

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with the choice of items that can be purchased from the Stocking Fillers website and love the fact that there are cute Christmas gifts, quirky gifts and gifts for all the family. 

6 December 2014

Cosatto SS15 Press Launch - Baby Stuff With Personality

Last week, I was very lucky to be invited to the Cosatto HQ in Bolton, to go and have a nosey around their new Spring/Summer 2015 range and meet the crew at their Press Launch. I've heard lots about the Cosatto building, the team and the famous Cosatto slide, before but had never had the opportunity to visit before.

It was my first time going on a train on my own (I am a bit of a hermit and hate going places alone) and being 7 months pregnant, I was a little apprehensive, but actually it was simple to get to and the lovely people at Cosatto had organised a lift from the train station in Manchester, to pick me, and a couple other bloggers up, and take us to them. 

After having a little catch up with a few of the team and chatting to some lovely bloggers, our day started. First up, Cosatto’s CEO, Andrew Kluge, talked about how he started in the baby business and how Cosatto evolved into the brand it is today. He is a very inspiring man and talked so passionately about his life and the brand, you could tell that it was something he loved immensely. 

We met the rest of the team and had a chat to a few of them, talking about social media, designing, making, safety etc and how Cosatto goes above and beyond when it comes to every aspect of designing and making their products, 

Having a tour of the building I noticed that everything was bold and bright, as you'd expect from Cosatto, even the toilets were fancy, with bright green toilet roll and bird tweets playing in the back ground. Everyone else then went down the world famous slide, to get to the showroom. Since I am so heavily pregnant, I wasn't allowed to go down, as it's a super fast slide. Yes, they may make baby products, but I don't think they'd be wanting to shock anyone into giving birth early haha!

Then, after a manicure and some food, yummy canapés and cakes went down a treat, we got down to the business of fawning over Cosatto's new designs. 

Hipstar (top left) is a gorgeous retro style take on the All Star design which I love, and Firebird (top right) just suits for the cold Autumn and Winter months, the gorgeous greens are lovely and the bright orange contrasting birds stand out in style. Fable (bottom) is still a stunning design which is why I took a photo of it. I love the colours and the simplicity of it. 

The design that stood out for me, was the Ooba in the brand new design, Charleston. The monochrome design stands out as a Cosatto product as it's not as 'in your face' as the usual designs they do. I absolutely love it. 

Flamingo Fling is one of their main new designs, available on most of the Cosatto range of products. I love it because it's not the usual stand out pink for a girl type design. Yes, it does have a bright pink colour on it, but this goes so well with the green and black to create a stunning design that is not overly girly. 

Pitter Patter is my favourite design for the Giggle 2. With green tubing on the pushchair and a gorgeous raindrop, multicoloured design over the material, it's such a beautiful style. 

Loads of other new designs too, not only on the Giggle 2 but most are translated over to the car seats and highchairs too so that you can buy all matching products. 

I love looking at the bright designs of the Cosatto products, but one thing they were short on, was designs for their Story cot-bed, before only having Babushka and My Robot which were very bright indeed. Now they have gone with a totally new design for their Story cot-bed, the Owlet. A stunning turquoise/green colour with a cute owl on the ends. 

The best thing about the Cosatto cot-beds, is that they come with everything you need, an extra end so that it can easily transform to a bed once your child is older, a drawer underneath for storing bedding and a changing unit on top. I love, love, love this cot-bed and think it is meant to be as we are currently designing bumps room and are going for a cream, green and owl design. 

I had an absolutely amazing day at the SS15 Press Launch, getting to see some amazing new products, designs and meeting some fab people too. Hopefully, I'll be invited back again and this time will be able to try out the slide!

The SS15 range will be available to buy from early December 2014 with some designs coming out in the beginning of 2015 so keep an eye out on the Cosatto website.