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?


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


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. 


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?


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!


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. 


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.


Claireabella and Typography of Love from Toxic Fox

I think I have definitely been a good girl this year and managed to get myself onto Santa's Nice List, as I was lucky enough to be sent a couple of items from Toxic Fox. 

Toxic Fox have just launched their new look Christmas Gifts section which you can check out here and if you need inspiration, then you can check out their gift guide videos to help you decide on what to buy for your loved ones. 

The site is really easy to use, especially when it comes to ordering personalised items (ones I will be talking about later in this post) and gives you instructions every step of the way so that you can make sure the present you are buying is perfect before going through to checkout to purchase it. Both the Claireabella and Typography of Love ranges can be personalised to suit and I was sent out an item from each range to review and give my thoughts on. 

Now I'm sure everyone of you know about Claireabella and their gorgeous bags. Those award winning, super cute jute bags, that are made to order by ClaireaBella artists here in the UK, and can be personalised with you hair and eye colours, your clothing style and your name. 

Well, did you know that they also did a huge range of other gifts too? Well they do!

I asked for a gorgeous phone case, one that I had my eye on for a while, and got to design it just for me. The Claireabella Protective Phone Case retails at £24.99 and is available for the following handsets:

  • iPhone 3, 4, 4s, 5, 5s, 5c and iPhone 6 
  • Blackberry 9900, 9700 and 8520 
  • Samsung SII, SIII, S4, S5, S3 Mini and S4 Mini 
  • HTC Desire

And for me this was perfect as I have the iPhone 4s and so I got straight to work figuring out what design, colour etc I would like to have on it. The website takes you through all the personalisation options one at a time until the case is made unique for you. I went with the options:
  • Outfit: precious cargo
  • Hair: long
  • Colour: blonde
  • Eyes: blue
  • Skin tone: light
  • Name: Michaela 
  • Phone case colour: pink
  • Phone style: iPhone 4s

I was so excited to see that they had a style with a pregnant figure, the precious cargo one, which I obviously picked as it meant that it is totally suitable for me at the moment. The phone case itself is of superior quality. You can tell that very great detail has been put into making it an eye catching phone accessory. It comes with the Claireabella so you know it's an official product of theirs, and it just exudes style and cuteness. I really love showing it off every time I get my phone out!

I have seen these sorts of wall prints before and loved how the words fit together to make a picture. The Baby Boy Gloss Frame is perfect for a newborn or Christening gift for the little one in your life or for family, friends etc. 

Again, you get to personalise the writing, just for you, or the person you are gifting to and their are many styles to choose from, but since I am pregnant, I decided to go fr the Baby Boy Gloss Frame and personalise it for when bump arrives. 

You can choose between a black or white frame, I went for white and then you need to list upto 10 words that you want included into the writing. The first of these usually being a name, family name, something of prominent meaning that will be central and bigger than the other words. Our main one was bumps name, which, for the purposes of not wanting to tell people before he is born, has been blurred out on the pictures. (The writing was perfect but I blurred as I believe that the baby should learn his name before the whole of the internet). 

So, the other 9 words I went for, were:
  • Little Brother
  • Newborn
  • Family
  • Cuddles
  • Britton
  • Precious
  • Love
  • Baby
  • Happiness

And, as you can see from the photos, it came out looking stunning. Measuring 13" by 13", and priced at £39.99, my little bump has a totally unique, gorgeous piece of wall art, made just for him. 

The fabulous Baby Boy gloss framed print has the print of a pram, blue for a boy, and a little baby sat inside, it is finished with delicate adhesive gems and stunning sparkly diamantés that will shimmer and sparkle in the light, catching the eye of many admirers.

It is something that my little baby boy will be able to cherish for years to come, truly stunning!

Overall, I am thoroughly pleased with both items, as they are superb quality and are exactly what I ask for when it came to the personalisation, and Toxic Fox themselves who were fab to work with and very helpful along the way.

If you decide that you want to order a couple of items from the website, then you're in luck, as the lovely people from over at Toxic Fox are giving my readers 10% off any order you make from their site. Just simply use the code: TFBlog at the checkout for the discount to be applied.