Wow, just wow. I actually don’t know the best way to start this blog post. I have so many thoughts running around my head about the ‘Dine around the Dome’ event I was very grateful to be invited to attend last Thursday evening. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I certainly didn’t expect the culinary taste teasing tour that we were treated to.

We were told to meet at 6:30pm at the Circle 360 champagne bar on the upper level of The Orient area in the Trafford Centre. Anyone who knows me personally will know how often I frequent the Trafford Centre. It’s almost my second home. I love the place. As a family we spend quite a lot of time there because living in the Manchester area we aren’t blessed with the best weather so the convenience of having a covered area which has everything you need in one place and free parking is the perfect solution. I love that it has entertainment, Odeon cinema, ten pin bowling, adventure golf, Legoland and Sealife to name but a few. As well a massive variety of shopping and so much choice when it comes to food. No matter what your taste they’ll always be something to suit you there.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

Before the boys came along and it was just the two of us we would head to the Trafford Centre on date nights to try new restaurants, any special occasion would be marked with a meal and a few drinks. We’ve had many great nights there and worked our way around many of the eateries. So when thinking about dining around the dome I wasn’t sure how many new things I’d discover.

A little before we were due to meet up at the Circle bar I met with my good friend and blogging inspiration Jenny from Lets Talk Mommy. I haven’t seen her in a while so it was great to have a quick catch up together. We headed up to the bar and signed in. I love meeting new people and chatting but I felt a little nervous at this event as I knew it would be a small gathering and thought that perhaps everyone would already know each other. Over the course of the evening I got to know quite a few people and everyone was so lovely. I certainly have quite a few new blogs to add to the list to read now!

At the bar we were given an Elderflower martini which as the description said was dressed dirty with a twist of lemon. As I was driving I was very careful to just take a little sip to sample the flavour. It was at that point I instantly regretted not being able to drink the whole thing. Wow, what a start to the evening, it was beautiful! I could have sat there and sipped the whole thing, if the evening had ended there I would have been a happy lady. I haven’t stopped to have a drink at the bar before. It always looks like a fab venue. Having young children it’s never been possible to just take time out to sip on a champagne but next time we have some couple time there together I am adding it to the must do list! I often walk past and see couples or friends sipping and chatting there, taking a break from shopping. The bar staff were lovely and I can’t wait to return and sample some more of the menu!

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

Jenny and I sampling the Elderflower Martini at Circle 360 Champagne Bar

After a few introductions we were off to our first stop on the tour Cafe Rouge. Now although I have eaten in Cafe Rouge a couple of times I’ve never considered it to be one of my top choices of food venues. I’m not sure why, maybe I’ve just not had a dish there that has wowed me. Everything changed last night. It was our first stop on our tour but they certainly set the bar high for the rest of the evening. We were served ‘Ceviche de Saumon’ which although originally from Peru consisted of Atlantic salmon slices cured in lime marinated with chilli, red onion and spring onion served on a bed of crisp baby gem lettuce. It was drizzled with Valles des Baux EV olive oil and finished with fresh coriander. It was delicious!

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

I love sea food more than I love meat so this was my idea of a great starter. I loved the way the sharpness of the lime worked with the heat of the chilli. The salmon itself had a lovely light flavour and the crunch of the lettuce made sure that it wasn’t a heavy carb laden starter which ensured we had lots of room to carry on with the rest of the tour. I do love bread but if I start with it when I’m already hungry I tend to eat too much then there’s no room for the fabulous main course.

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The food was paired with a white wine called ‘Saint Etalon Sauvignon’ again I just had a sip but it was crisp and tangy and I thought it was in my own description quite sharp. Cafe Rouge said that it was a perfect accompaniment to a lime marinated fish. I’d defiantly agree with that. I enjoyed a lovely chat with my new-found dinner mates and all too soon it was time to move on.

So from France we headed to Italy in what was probably the quickest hop from country to country ever! So within minutes we’d hoped over the border and were seated in Carluccio’s which is located on the ground floor of The Great Hall at the back of The Orient in the Trafford Centre.

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This time as most of the food was to be served cold the table was already laid with the dishes and was a fabulous sight it was to behold! Beautiful wood serving boards decorated with thinly sliced Italian meats from Carluccio’s own deli. Palma ham, Mialno salami, Napoli salami and herb roasted ham were amongst the selections decorated with olives, caperberries and home backed focaccia.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

 

I love a pick and mix style meal so I was in my element with all the different things to try. By far the hit of the table was the Caponata.

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Caponata as I found out was a traditional Sicilian dish of aubergine sweet and sour stew, served cold with toasted sliced focaccia for dipping. This dish took me by surprise. Looking at it you expect it to be a warm dish. It was chilled to perfection and it really works. It was so juicy and flavourful. This is something that I wouldn’t hesitate to order in future. I’m hoping that the recipe can be found in one of Antonio Carluccio’s cook books though as I really think the boys and hubby would enjoy the dish. It seemed to be a hit with everyone!

Shortly after we were seated the warm dish of the evening Pepolata Arancini was served to out table. Pepolata Arancini is a crispy fried pepolata and mozzarella rice balls served with a pepper mayonnaise for dipping. They were delicious, when you cut into them the outside was crispy and the inside a melted gooey mixture of the cheese and rice. I could defiantly see myself returning here for more of these little bites of heaven!

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

 

This beautiful dishes were accompanied by an Aperol Spritz which I had never heard of. As I learned on the evening Aperol Spritz is a classic Venetian aperitif of Prosecco, Aperol and soda. It is a drink that was invented in 1919, it apparently took off like wildfire outside of Italy in 2014 but I must have missed this being in the new baby haze of life. It is set to be a must-sip drink of summer 2015. I for one can see myself getting on board with this! Although again I only had a sip it was really refreshing. I can see myself ordering a glass of this next time I head to Carluccios’s which I imagine will be soon after the wonderful taste tingly samples I had on the evening!

 

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From Italy we headed much much further west to latin America, Las Iguanas to be precise (which is only 30 seconds walk away!). Las Iguanas is one of my ‘go to’ restaurants when we are at the Trafford Centre. I love the flavours there. I thought I knew the food pretty well but as I discovered on the evening I haven’t branched out enough with the menu and was excited to be sampling dishes I haven’t had before.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

On the menu was a fantastic selection of foods. Adorning the table as we arrived were some Totopos which are Mexican spice-dusted corn chips with tomato salsa, served with Peruvian olives.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

 

Olives are like Marmite in that I think you either love them or you hate them. I used to hate them but after many years of trying them over and over again I now love them. The olives served at Las Iguanas were particularly nice! If you’re a lover of olives I’d recommend sampling those. Along side the corn chips and olives there was also a salad. It was a Mango and Pecan salad with avocado.

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This was the only sample of a salad on the evening, it’s a good job though that it was as this one would have won hands down! The soft sweet mango was perfectly complimented by the crunchy candied pecan nuts, the baby spinach was lovely and fresh as were the peppery rocket and piquant peppers. This was the sort of salad that I wouldn’t necessarily choose normally but having tasted this one I would certainly look out for something similar in the future. As far as I could tell this was a hit up and down the table. I also loved the way it looked, very pleasing on the eye it made a great visual dish.

The cooked food selection was soon with us and we were once again in for a treat. At Las Iguanas we were served Churrasco Skewers which are mixed marinated and flame-grilled skewers of honey glazed chicken and halloumi, served with Manioc root cassava fries with home-made tomato salsa. I tried the fries first. I hadn’t pre-read the menu so I assumed they were normal potato fries. I was in for a pleasant surprise. I’ve not had cassava before so I was keen to look it up and discovered it is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize. It was really nice, quite sweet not dissimilar to sweet potato. The salsa was a lovely accompaniment to the fries too.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

I’m a big cheese fan and halloumi is up there as one of my favourites, especially when its been flame grilled so I was looking forward to the skewers and they didn’t disappoint. I only tried a small bite or two as I wanted to make sure I had room for all of the other delights of the evening. I can tell you thought that’s it defiantly a dish I’d add to the list of foods I’d like to go back and have again.

The last item to be added to the table was Empanadas which are crispy “street-style” pastries served as either brie and mango or tender lamb and mint varieties. Where I was sitting we were served the brie and mango ones so I didn’t get to try the lamb and mint although I heard the others talking about how nice they were. I cut into my empanadas which was steaming hot and looked lovely, I tried some expecting a sweet type of dessert taste given that it was brie and mango but it wasn’t that sweet at all. The brie complemented the mango perfectly. I’m not sure I’ve ever had warm mango that I can remember but it was really tasty. I almost wish I could have eaten the whole thing but given that we still had a couple of stops on the tour I didn’t want to fill up too soon.

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The food at Las Iguanas was accompanied by a Mango Collins drink. Mango Collins is a cocktail I’ve had before at Las Iguanas so I already knew that I loved it. For anyone that hasn’t tried it it is a refreshing cocktail of Absolute Mango vodka, triple sec blended with orange and mango juices topped with lemonade which gives it a gently sparking taste on the tongue. It was a great pairing with the summary foods we’d been served and if I wasn’t driving I’d have indulged in a glass!

All too soon it was time once again to switch countries this time we were headed back east to Japan and Korean. The restaurant we were going to is called Wokooshi. Out of all our stops this one was new to me. Wokooshii can be found at level 1 of the Orient in the Trafford centre. It was founded by Gerry Yeung who is also the founder of Manchester’s famous Yang Sing Chinese restaurant. We were delighted to be served by Gerry himself who explained all about the family ethics of the restaurant. He is passionate about bringing the Japanese and Korean flavours to the diners.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

Wokooshii has been open since early 2012 and the word Wokooshii, amalgamates the words wok and oishii, which means ‘delicious food’ in Japanese and the description couldn’t fit the food any better. I love how involved Gerry is with running the restaurant he explained all about the sourcing of ingredients for the menu and how everything is made in-house from scratch. Nothing is bought in pre-made at all so you can be assured all the flavours are authentic.

On the table as we arrived was a cup-shaped lettuce leaf for each person, we joked that we’d eaten so much so far that we really could only mange a leaf. Thankfully though the staff of Wokooshii had other ideas and within moments they had brought out Beef Bulgogi to our table. This was beef marinated in Korean soy sauce, sugar and black pepper to enhance its tenderness. It is traditionally served with a side of lettuce which is used to wrap the cooked meat to add crunchiness. We all picked our pieces of beef, added a hot sauce and tucked in. I have to admit beef isn’t my favourite meat so I was very pleasantly surprised when I found myself finishing the whole leaf wrap. Gerry explained that Bulgogi means ‘fire meat’ in Korean. The dish is listed 23rd in the ‘Worlds 50 Most Delicious Foods’ poll. The meat was historically grilled on gridirons over a brazier, but now it is also popular to pan-cook the meat. Wokooshii Bulgogi is cooked on a sizzler or hot plate.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

We didn’t have to wait long to taste the flavours ourselves. We were first served a Japanese dish of Salmon Teppanyaki which was a succulent salon fillet cooked on a teppan (hot plate) with butter, garlic, sake and Japanese soya sauce accompanied by mild peppered teppanyaki vegetables and rice. The dish was accompanied with sizzling seafood udon noodles with scallops, king prawns and squid. The noodles were served on a sizzler with a lively Japanese soya sauce.

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The salmon was perfect, so moist with lovely flavours of the sauce, the vegetables were crunchy and matched the salmon well, I didn’t try the rice as I wanted to leave room for a sample of the noodles as udon noodles are my favourite and I wasn’t disappointed! I couldn’t just try the noodles thought without trying the seafood too. I’m pretty much in love with any foods from the ocean, I much prefer them to meat so I went in and helped myself to a king prawn and some scallop. I always think scallops can be a dangerous choice when eating out, it only takes a little over cooking to make them rubbery and not nice to eat. Wokooshii scallops however were as near perfect as I’ve ever had, a delight to eat and perfect with the king prawns, squid and udon noodles. I was sure to only have a small sample though as I knew we were going to be also lucky to try the Korean food.

The Korean taster was something I’ve not heard of before Spicy Chicken Bibimbap which is a signature Korean family dish made up of steamed rice served in a hot stone bowl topped with chicken, carrots, kimchi, black wood mushrooms, bean sprouts, seasonal greens and topped with an egg. This dish is mixed at the table with chilli fermented soya bean paste.

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I particularly loved the way this dish was presented, Gerry himself mixed it for us after adding the sauce while explaining the elements of the dish.

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Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

The dish was accompanied by Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Sake which is one of the oldest style sakes. It is coarsely filtered and milky white in colour, which gives it a full pleasantly sweet complex flavour which is best served chilled.

IMG_4493I have sampled Sake before and yet again this had surpassed my expectations, it was something I will be going back to enjoy some time soon in the future it was a great companion to the Japanese and Korean food. We were also given a sample of Asahi Premium Japanese Black Lager. I am not a regular lager drinking I much prefer a wine or spirit based drink so I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one. As it was poured due to its dark colour I expected to be tasting something similar to a stout based drink which I’m not keen on but was very pleasantly surprised when I tried a sip. I’m glad I did as it was much much lighter to drink than its appearance made out.

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As the saying goes don’t judge a book by its cover and this is very true in the case of this lager! It was very smooth. Asahi means rising sun and it is made using only the purest water along with the finest hops.

One of the things I loved most about the Wokooshii restaurant was the seating layout. There are so many different sized tables available, whether you are having a romantic evening out or dining as a large group there’s sure to be the right size table for your party. As we were a large group we spread out over two large round tables which made for great conversation and the meeting of new friends.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

The last treat in Wokooshii was the sampling of a particularly nice sparkling sake, this was not something I’d had or even heard of before but is now on my must have again list. The bottle is came in is particularly beautiful.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

I can see myself having to revisit Wokooshi quite a bit just to repeat all the fabulous flavours! Sadly before long it was time to move on to our 6th and final stop of the night, the dessert surprise!

We had been told that dessert would be a lucky dip, we’d be given and number and then asked to sample the dessert that corresponded to that number. In reality we all sampled each others, which was fab! The desserts were provided by a section of restaurants from around the Trafford Centre. There were far too many to be able to list them all. I’m a dessert lover so this was my idea of heaven! This was the sight that greeted us as we entered The Captains Table room looking out over the orient open eating area.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

My number corresponded to a delicious lemon cheese cake, I was so busy sharing it around I didn’t even get to find out where it was from. I did however find out that the fabulous chocolate dip accompanied churros were from La Tasca. They have also been added to my list of places to dine for those beautiful treats alone!

The desserts were accompanied by Espresso Martinis provided by the 360 Champagne Bar, it was as though we had come 360 degrees ourselves, finishing off with drinks from the place we started! This was the drink that I wished I could have finished the most out of all the sips I’d had that evening. As a coffee lover this was an amazing find.

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Coffee to accompany dessert was also served by Nespresso who were showcasing their new special edition coffee Peru Secreto an intensity 8 with an intense sweet round espresso flavour. As with all the special editions they won’t be around long so if it’s something you are interested in then get it while you can!

Before long it was time to say farewell to all my dining companions and new-found friends. Just before we all left we gathered for a group photo.

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. Picture: Jason Lock Further Info: Laura Price Carousel PR Mobile: 07871 392 870 Office: 0161 686 5520 D/L: 0161 686 5546 Twitter: @LauraJPrice Full credit always required as stated in T&C's. PR and Press Release Distribution, no further reproduction without prior permission. Picture © Jason Lock Photography +44 (0) 7889 152747 +44 (0) 161 431 4012 info@jasonlock.co.uk www.jasonlock.co.uk

What an evening we’d been treated to, from far east to far west via France. So many wonderful flavours to tingle the taste buds. So many new finds to add to the list of places to visit. I can’t say that one dish stood out above the others because it didn’t, they were all so fabulous. I can’t compare country to country, like for like it wouldn’t be fair. I can say though that there wasn’t a dish I tried that I didn’t like, no actually love!

We can often be found at the Trafford Centre as a family and from now on I can see that we’ll be working our way around the restaurants too. The only problem we’ll have is agreeing which one to go to!

If you’re still with me at the end of that epic blog post then thank you for reading and I hope you’re not feeling to hungry now!

Picture credit for some of the images to Jason Lock Photography of Carousel PR

Thanks to the Trafford Centre for organising the ‘Dine around the Dome’ event. I was not paid for this blog post but all the food and drinks were complimentary on the evening.

 

I know we’re already in February but I do feel like 2015 holds lots of promise for us as a family, I feel excited and happy to be looking forward to the future. We really hope to move house in the next few years too, so that certainly will be a big change. In order to move though we need to do a few odd jobs around the house first as well as a big de clutter. De cluttering is something I love doing but never seem to nail it. Even when I spend ages doing it, a mere few weeks later the house is always a mess again. So this time around I needed a different approach and as if by magic the solution may have presented itself. I was browsing around Amazon as you do and up popped a book suggestion that intrigued me. The title was “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo.

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I was interested immediately, how could tidying up be life changing? I’ve always been a tidy person. I love nothing more than coming home to a tidy house, I love the feeling of looking around and everywhere being clean and tidy with all my things in the places they should be! So I clicked on the book and headed straight to the reviews, somewhere I always looks before I buy things. Four and a half stars from over 200reviews, this looked promising! Without further ado I purchased it (in kindle form obviously as I didn’t need more clutter in my life!) and read it pretty quickly over a weekend. It’s not that long and an easy read. It’s main theme being that all the things you own in life should bring you joy, if they don’t then you don’t need them! It deals with how to get rid of things that you feel guilty about getting rid of. For example presents from loved ones that you don’t actually like! There are a few far out principles in the book, but on the whole I really enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to get started applying the principles. The book suggests that although the the process can happen quickly it would take an average of six months to complete a whole house, this timescale did surprise me but it didn’t put too much pressure on either. Within a few days I had already got rid of two bin bags of clothes (that’s just mine!) and a big box of other items. Things I’d held on to for years but that actually brought me no joy, things that I thought one day I may use but who knows when that day will come.

The book also describes how to fold you clothes in your draws, I had to read the description a couple of times to try and get the hang of it. I also went to youtube to try and find some info videos. There are a couple but I thought perhaps that I may also be able to do one now that I’ve got eh hang of folding. I didn’t take a picture of the draws before (something I should have done!) But heres a picture of how mine and hubbies draws look now that I’ve finished folding them.

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I’ve also made a start in the boys room too, it already brings me pleasure to look inside and see exactly what we can choose from.

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Back to the book, is it life changing? I’ve yet to be able to comment on that as I haven’t finished the process. The author describes the exact way you should go about tackling your house starting with your clothes as they are the easiest thing to part with. Followed by books. I can’t remember the exact order of the rest but I’ll refer back to it when I need to. I know that sentimental things such as photographs were last on the list. I’m still working my way through clothes. I’m due to tackle the underwear any day now and I know there will be lots of bras to get rid of. Whats the point in keeping the ones that are too big or too small? I do feel that the progress I have made though has been great and I get great pleasure from going into the bedroom and it felling a whole lot less cluttered already.

If you’d have asked me if I thought I’d be reading books in my 30’s about tidying up I’d have laughed a lot but here I am doing it and acting on its principles!

I will be going back to amazon to review the book as I think it’s always good to put your own review on if you rely yourself on reviews and I’d be giving it 5 stars and would recommend it if you seem to never be able to part with things or your life feels cluttered. I do want to mention also that I have no association with the author and I haven’t been paid to write about the book. I paid for my own copy after just coming across it, but I’m glad it found me and hopefully it really will be life changing!

The first I heard about Winter Wonderland was when I saw an advert for it last year. the boy was only 28 months though and so  I thought he’d be a bit too young for it. When I was invited to have a preview of this years event I thought I’d go and see what it was all about. As it was an evening event I didn’t take the boy because he’s usually asleep for 7pm but I will defiantly be buying some tickets to take him to a day time session, he’d love it!

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Its advertised as ‘The Uk’s Largest Indoor Christmas Theme Park’ and its located within the Event City complex which is right next to the Trafford Centre. Event City does have its own car park but it’s easily walkable from the Trafford Centre itself so a combined trip is very possible. The sessions run from 11am-3pm or 4:30pm-8:30pm most days from now until Sunday 4th January. You can book online or pay on the door.The entrance ticket includes all the rides and attractions as well as visit to Father Christmas. There are also some pay to play fairground games.  On entering I was surprised at how much there was to do. I have been to other shows at eventcity and hadn’t realised just how much floor space there is available. You certainly couldn’t see all the rides and attractions from the entrance area. I was given a map which was nice although you wouldn’t need it to get around. I liked how much space there was between rides and attractions, I can’t imagine it would ever feel crowded in there. There was defiantly space to bring a pushchair if younger siblings were to attend. Under 3’s are free which is great to keep families together, I’m really not keen on places that charge for babies who wouldn’t be able to go on any rides. I wasn’t able to count how many rides there are as there were so many. There is something suitable for all ages, adults too! I know the boy would have been able to go on quite a few rides there and he’s now 3 years and 4 months. He would have loved the carousel and the bouncy castle amongst others.

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I did wonder if the food choices would be limited to burgers and fast food but I was pleasantly surprised to see there was lots of choice including a noodle bar and wild boar burgers! There was a coffee hut and a bar selling mulled wine, if I hadn’t been driving I’d have got into the festive spirit and enjoyed a nice hot mulled wine! There wasn’t a huge amount of seating but there’s far too much to be seeing and doing to sit down for very long and since its indoors even if all the seating was taken you could always picnic on the carpeted floor!

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I didn’t get chance to check out the toilets but when I’ve used them in the past there, they have been lovely and clean. I did pop my head in the baby change area and noted it had a sofa which would be ideal for breastfeeding if you wanted to get away from the main hustle and bustle.

I’ve not even mentioned the attractions yet, there is a love Sooty show, a large circus inside a traditional circus tent and princess meet and greet. As I was walking past the princess meet and greet they were singing the songs from Frozen which the children were very much enjoying, I could barely see the characters as it was very popular, so I’d advise getting there early if your children are fans! The times for each show are displayed on a board on the way in.

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I certainly can’t wait to go back and take the boy, I love that it won’t matter what the weather is like because it’s all under cover!

 

I was given two tickets to the press evening but most importantly all the opinions are truthful and my own.

 

When the boy was a baby over 3 years ago, sleep time was a massive source of anxiety for me. I’d not had much experience of babies and I certainly wasn’t prepared for how little sleep was involved. Other people had warned me but I never really knew what sleep deprivation was like until I had a baby! The worse piece of advice ever given to me was “Sleep when the baby sleeps”

YEAAAAAAAHHHHH RIIIGHHHHHTTTT!

So the few minutes that he decides to nap if it’s not when I’m driving then it means the only time in the day when I can eat, drink, go to the toilet, tidy up a few things as the house usually looked like an explosion in a nappy factory. So sleeping when the baby sleeps in my case was impossible. A couple of my mummy friends were blessed with sleepy babies, meaning I hardly ever saw them awake. Now that really would have been like a ‘dream’ for me! I had the opposite, my baby was always awake! Like always! He’d occasionally nap in the pram if I was pushing it – so again no sleep for me! And if I dared to stop pushing it then he’d be wide awake again…..within seconds. The same with the car, he’s eventually fall asleep and as soon as the car was stopped, even at traffic lights then he’d be awake. It was whilst reading a baby book when the boy was little that I came across the idea of using white noise to help babies sleep. So I got an app on my phone and tried it one day, it certainly had a calming effect! The problem came of course that it wasn’t just the boy who could hear it, it was everyone. And the second problem was that it was my phone. I needed the phone so couldn’t leave it in the pram or in his bed at night, I wish the Gro-hush had been out back then!

When Flixster came along I was prepared. I was prepared for the lack of sleep this time, I was prepared for the lack of daytime napping and so I embraced it. Instead of worrying about when and how he was going to nap if he looked tired I’d pop him in a baby carrier or sling and let him nap on me whilst I got on with regular everyday stuff and while he was still small this worked like magic. It was great to be able to know where ever I was I could just pop him in the carrier and he’d have a nap. No he’s older though I’d really love him to go for naps in his cot so that I can do things a little easier. I’d also like him to sleep in his cot at night, which he currently doesn’t as we co-sleep.

I am however not open to the idea of cry it out or any type of ‘sleep training’. I am and always will be a gentle mummy who believes in patience and very gentle ways to help my babies sleep. I know in time that this phase with Flixster will pass and until then I will be there for him whenever he needs me. At night-time we have always had white noise playing beside the bed from the phone so he is used to hearing that sound. When I was offered the chance to try the Gro-hush it made perfect sense to me. I loved the idea that it was portable and especially that only he would be able to hear it, I didn’t actually believe that claim but having tried it quite a few times now I can testify that it’s true. It really can only be heard by the baby and no one else! It comes packed inside a lovely travel box which is not much bigger than the unit so would fit easily into a changing bag. It uses 3 x AAA batteries to make it work which aren’t supplied with the unit. They are fitted under the removable cover and you’ll need a screwdriver to install them. I was pleased to see the soft cover is washable, a great feature in my opinion. Its super easy to operate and only has three buttons with an elastic strap to hold it gently to babies ear.
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I didn’t even need to read the instructions to see how it worked. There are a choice of three sounds, white noise, heartbeat and rain on a tin roof. Once the button is pressed the relevant button is illuminated by a gentle white light and the sounds begins playing, once pressed the sound then continues for 10 minutes before stopping and the unit turns off.

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Now for the big question – does it work?
It’s called the Gro-hush baby calmer rather than a sleep device and I think this is a genuine description. It really has managed to calm Flixster down. I’ve been giving it a good try over the last few days in various situations. As Flixster has been getting a little moany and groany the way babies do when they are tired, sometimes crying a little, I have reached for the Gro-hush putting it up to his ear and the distraction combined with the soothing sounds has given him the opportunity to relax himself and gently ease him off to sleep. It’s certainly shortened the time its taken him to drift off. I love also that it’s so portable. I’ve been able to use it in the car at times when I am unable to pick him up for a cuddle. At the moment I sit next to him in the back seat when we travel as without being able to see someone he screams, so it was nice that when he got a little upset I was able to soothe him gently while still continuing our journey.

 

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Blurry action shot!

I love how soft the brushed cotton cover is and I know given the level of sound that it’s not doing his ears any damage. I have certainly been surprised at how well he’s taken to it. The Gro-hush can be used perfectly safely from birth, I think it would make a great new baby present and I wish I’d know about it back when Flixster was a newborn, I think it would have made the early night times a little easier. Even while using it on my lap one night this week I was still able to hear the television, something I wouldn’t be able to do with other white noise. It’s far easier than trying to use an app on the phone that’s for sure!

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I was given a Gro-hush for the purpose of this review but most importantly the opinions are truthful and all my own.

As you’ll know by now my festive spirit is already alive and kicking. My heart leaps with joy at the sights and sounds of Christmas that are starting to creep in all around me. So when I was recently offered the opportunity to try a festive coffee blend I jumped at the chance. Being a mummy to a young baby who feeds two hourly during the night I need a coffee to get me going in the morning! Before I moved in with hubby instant coffee was my go to drink, however having lived with him for almost 10 years now my coffee tastes have changed. I describe him as a coffee snob as he really knows his coffee. He’s been through a fair few machines before settling on the one we have now. So although I know what I like coffee wise hubby will also be having his say on this one!

The coffee we were tasting was ‘Reindeer Rocket’ by the Big Cup Little Cup company who produce nespresso compatible capsules. As it was weekend hubby decided to try a new ‘duffin’ recipe he had found to go along with the coffee – I wasn’t going to say no to cake!

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Once the cakes were made and decorated we opened up the coffee, I was delighted to see that each nespresso compatible capsule was wrapped up like a little Christmas present. I love that the packaging has been thought about so carefully, with its tiny stamp label. I think they look fab in our coffee jar it just needs a red ribbon now to complete the festive look!

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Reindeer Rocket is recommended to be served as a lungo, so with fresh water in the machine I set about making two coffees, one with a splash of milk for me as I like my coffee white and a black one for hubby.

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Reindeer Rocket tasting notes:

Reindeer Rocket is a limited edition rich coffee with an intense flavour. Arabica beans from Southern Brazil and Central America and Southern Indian Robusta beans create a powerful and bold coffee with flavours of dark chocolate and chestnut that lingers with a sweet, smoky finish on the palate.

It’s a 9 on the strength scale.

My opinion: I really liked the coffee, I’m not normally one to have the higher end coffees on the strength scale but with a splash of milk I really enjoyed the flavours of the coffee.It has a lovely bold flavour which isn’t particularly bitter as I find some of the stronger coffees to be. I can imagine it will be my go to coffee over the festive season, especially if Flixster keeps me up every two hours, every night as he has been doing!

Hubby’s opinion: The coffee has a bold taste that’s offset by a subtle sweetness that is the signature of a great Christmas blend coffee.

Big cup little cup have offered readers of my blog a chance to get 15% off their first order using the code LYRICAL15 there are plenty of coffees to choose from and the Reindeer Rocket will be launched soon – keep your eyes open for that one!

www.bigcuplittlecup.com

 

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I was sent a sample of Reindeer Rocket for the purpose of this review but we have purchased from them before and have always been impressed with the coffees and the speed of delivery. All the opinions expressed are my own and truthful.

If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that I love Christmas. It’s my all time favourite holiday season. I’ve always loved Christmas time even before having the children, but since having the boys it’s become even more magical. As the boy is growing up and beginning to understand things a little more he is beginning to believe in the magic of Christmas. This year will be his 4th Christmas, he’ll be 3 years 4 months on Christmas day this year, and I couldn’t be more excited! So when I was recently given the chance to review a letter sent from the big man himself I jumped at the chance. I have already published a post about ordering our letters from the Lapland Mailroom which can be found here. As I had ordered our letters early when they arrived I kept them to one side until today so that I knew the boy would be here when it landed on the door mat. He loves collecting the post for me and we play a game where he identifies the names on each letter to tell us if it’s for mummy or daddy. So I couldn’t think of a more appropriate day than today, a rainy Saturday morning with no particular plans but to stay in our pyjamas snuggled up warm inside! He’d put on his little monkey onesie and was ready for a morning playing with Flixster and his toys. When I heard the postman I beat him to the door and switched our normal post for his special letter before letting him discover it for himself.

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He was so excited to find a letter addressed to him! He was able to recognise his name and couldn’t quite believe it was post for him!

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The letter was quite thick which made it exciting to open, we sat down together to discover what was inside. We found a personalised letter along with a Christmas card to colour, a tree decoration, a door hanger, a stop here sign, an activity sheet and a nice child certificate.

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He knew from the picture on the letter that it was from Father Christmas!

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He wanted me to read it to him and his eyes lit up when I read the parts containing Flixster’s name. It really was lovely to watch him listen so intently to the letter being read to him. We looked at the rest of the package together and he instantly decided that he wanted to start colouring straight away so I got out his crayons and pens as he had requested.

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He wanted to cut out the tree decoration himself but as we don’t have any children’s scissors yet Daddy had to do it whilst he watched on. That’s another thing for the Christmas list though! He spent quite a while colouring in and kept looking back at the letter to point out his name.

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What a lovely way to spend a morning together, we had a good talk about Christmas still being quite a long time away but the letter has started to build the excitement. I suppose I’ll only have a limited number of years that the boys will still believe in Father Christmas so I’m going to enjoy it while I can. The magic of Christmas will always be alive in our house because as the Muppets sing in my all time favourite Christmas film “Wherever you find love it feels like Christmas!”

The lovely people at Lapland Mailroom have offered one blog reader the chance to win their very own personalised letter from Santa as well as an activity pack, just enter below, and if you’re not lucky enough to win then you can use the code ‘xmas2014promo’ for 10% off your order. Letters start from just £6.95 and are posted within 3 days.

I was sent a letter for the boy for the purpose of this review but all the opinions expressed about it are my own and truthful.

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As its half term this week all my baby groups and regular activities are off so instead of spending the week cooped up indoors which is hard work with children, today I arranged to meet a friend who has a similar age baby to Flixster at a garden centre local to me. The garden centre is called Bents and is well-known in the north-west area. I haven’t been for a few months and was surprised when I arrived to see that its undergoing a massive transformation and expansion. I’m not sure when the expected completion date is but it’s looking great so far. Bents is well-known for its fabulous must see Christmas displays and I know that the countdown to Christmas has really started once Bents put out their displays.
As I arrived at Bents I also noticed that they have put in a new large roundabout to improve access to the car park. It’s made it far easier to get in and out of the newly expanded car park. Although its half term and extremely busy I headed towards the back of the car park and easily found somewhere to park. We’d arranged to meet for lunch at the cafe as it has a fab reputation locally as great place to eat. The queue was quite large but moved at a steady pace, we skipped the sandwiches and hot food in favour of the ‘Cream Tea for Two’ which was £12.50. You got a large scone each, four strawberries, two pots of jam, two pots of clotted cream and a large pot of tea to share.

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The scones were lovely, although I did have to keep them out of reach of Flixster as he kept trying to grab for them. We’ve just started baby led weaning as he is now 28 weeks. I gave him some of the strawberry instead which he seemed to love, I’m not sure how well the red stains will come out of his vest but that’s part of the fun! After we’d eaten and drank our tea Flixster was getting tired so we had a little wander. My friend had an appointment so had to leave, we said our goodbyes and I gently rocked Flixster for a few minutes whilst he nodded off in the pram. This gave me a chance to have a proper look around.
I love Christmas time, its my favourite holiday season. I’ve always loved this time of year and the magical build up. Since having Children its become even more special.I love the decorations and making my home feel magical inside and out. I love getting the decorations out each year, remembering where and when we bought each one. We always buy one or two special tree decorations each year to add to our collections so I have already begun the hunt for just the right one. The Christmas displays at Bents are amazing. There are lots of room displays with enormous amount of attention to detail.

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There are lots of dressed trees to look at and the floor space given over to Christmas is amazing. There is everything you could ever need to make your home feel Christmassy and fantastic. I looked around the undressed trees as we are looking to buy a new tree this year. Normally I have an artificial 6ft tree and we place it on a small table so that it touches the ceiling. As a child I always remember the Christmas tree being taller than I was, these days being 6ft myself its pretty hard to find trees taller than I am. This year we have changed our living room furniture so have even less room for a tree so I am looking to buy a slim or pencil tree. The artificial trees in Bents where plentiful and I really liked that they were all clearly labelled with height, base diameter and price. It really helped anyone who was looking to easily identify something suitable.

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After looking at the trees I went to look at the miniature village display. I like to look each year at all the little models, people must spend years collecting them. I wouldn’t have room for them in my house but I do like to look each year at the fabulous displays Bents put together.

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As the weather is so nice still I took the opportunity to go outside to look at the plants. I don’t have a large garden and I barely get time these days with the boys to do any gardening but I really enjoy looking at the various plants. The displays were lovely to look at and I enjoyed a walk over to have a look at the children’s play area. From the plans it looks like they are also going to be making a conservation area at the back of the centre that people will be able to walk around. I’ll look forward to that next year.

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The new outdoor play area looks great for children and I can’t wait to take the boy, I hope we have some more nice days this year so we can go back during term time and have a play. The cafe has also been extended outside onto a raised area which I imagine in the summer is a beautiful place to sit and look over the lake.

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Flixster had begun to wake up so I headed back inside and made my way to the parents room which is located at the back of the cafe. I have used the room before so knew which way to go. I went in and had a quick look at the food area, from the plans I noticed that this is going to be extended to incorporate local producers which is going to be great. Since I was last here the displays have altered and instead of high shelving the produce is now displayed on pallets which look great. I didn’t have a good chance to look at all the food as Flixster was starting to tell me he was hungry. Hopefully I can have a proper look next time I visit.

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I found the parents room and thankfully they have provided two seats for feeding babies. I’m happy to breastfeed anywhere but as I’d already used the cafe I thought I’d feed in the parents room as Flixster gets easily distracted these days when feeding so a quiet calm environment is ideal. The room was lovely and clean with two nappy changing beds. There is a small toilet cubicle and another cubicle with a chair and lockable door, ideal if you are a mum not comfortable with feeding in public. There’s also another chair available in the main changing room. I fed Flixster and then changed him. There are two sink areas which were also very clean and had lovely toiletries provided. It is a big thumbs up from me for the services they provide to parents. Very clean, comfortable and spacious, just what mummies and daddies need!

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Once Flixster was settled back into the pram I took him for a look at the Christmas lights. He’s at an age where he’s fascinated by lights, especially ones that flash or change. There are plenty to look at in Bents. I loved watching his face as he marvelled at the different colours and displays.

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I love having lights up at Christmas. Last year was the first time I put some up outside and the boy loved coming home from nursery to see the lights. I found some battery-powered ones that only came on at night-time which were powered by two AA batteries that claimed to last for 30 days, in reality I did have to change the batteries after about 20 days but still I was impressed that I didn’t have to plug them into the mains. I can’t wait to get them out again this year! Once we’d finished being wowed by the light displays we headed out via the new craft shop. I love having a go at new crafts and enjoying myself just losing an hour or two in making something so I was thrilled to see the new shop had opened within the ongoing extension work. I didn’t have much time but did try to survey what they are going to be selling. I think they are still setting up as some of the shelves looked a little empty. What I did see though made me want to return soon to take a closer look, perhaps when I have someone else with me to watch the boys for a few minutes!

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Time was marching on so we exited the shop to start making our way home. I’m very much looking forward to going back again soon (although perhaps during term time when its a little quieter) to have another good nosey around. The new extension is looking promising and once it’s fully open will make a great addition to an already lovely place to visit. I’ve always found the staff to be visible and as always today was no exception, if I had needed any help then I’m confident I would have found someone quickly and easily. Even on such a busy day I noticed lots of staff out and about helping other people. Bents certainly know how to treat their customers well, a key to it’s already great reputation.

If you’re ever in the north-west then it’s a highly recommended day out and I can’t wait to go back soon with both boys and hubby!

 

www.bents.co.uk

I know many people don’t like to think about Christmas too early in the year. I’m not one of those people! I love Christmas. I love everything about it. The excitement, the decorations, the religious meaning. I really enjoy planning for Christmas and since having children its been made so much more magical in our home. As a child I remember Christmas being the most amazing day of the year, my mum and dad must have put so much unseen effort into making it a special day for myself and my brother, something I want to pass on to my children. I want them to grow up remembering the fun family times we have had a Christmas. The magic starts early in our house with writing letters to Santa (or Father Christmas as I like to call him in our home) so when I was given the opportunity to receive letters from the big man himself I jumped at the chance. The company I have used is called Lapland Mail Room and they can be found here.The elves ship letters worldwide from the website!

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The website itself has a lovely Christmassy feel and is easy to navigate around. Prices start form £6.95 for each letter, theres even an option for a babies first Christmas letter which I think is a lovely idea. Once you click through to order your letter there are lots of easy to use personalisation options with prompts given at each stage, you also get the option to add your own “P.S” at the end of the letter, and with 255 character allowance theres plenty of room to add something special about your child. My favourite option is a drop down box to choose what you call the big man in your house. I prefer Father Christmas so that is what I picked for our letters. Once you have gone through the easy personalisation you can review your letter.

The whole letter appears on screen and as you hover over various parts of the letter a magnifying glass appears so that you can review the text. Once you’re happy with the letter you can go through to pay for it. I particularly liked that paypal is accepted as a form of payment even if you don’t have an account. I added two letters to my basket and finalised the order. I can’t wait to receive them! I hope the boy is as excited as I was as a child to have his own letter drop onto our door mat! I’m hoping when the boys are older that they too pass on the magic of the festive season to their own children if they choose to have them.

www.laplandmailroom.com

 

I am being sent our letters from Father Christmas for the purpose of this review.

 

This week we are lucky enough to have Daddy off work for three days, two of the days the boy is going to be carrying on at nursery and on Friday we will all spend a family day together. Keeping the boy in nursery means that Daddy gets to spend some quality time with Flixster and we can go look at and buy some Christmas presents for the boy. This morning we decided to go and have breakfast out somewhere which is not something we often do. I love breakfast, I think it is my favourite meal of the day. As a breastfeeding mummy I get so hungry in the night and have a rumbly tumbly each morning. I’ve always loved breakfast especially cereal and we often have a vast array of cereals in the house. I could eat it morning noon and night (and have been known to!) So as we were discussing it last night I was googling places to go and Harvester popped up. We have 3 different harvester restaurants local to us so we picked the one that was on the way to the place we were going today. Daddy dropped the boy off at nursery and came back to pick us up. I was very happy to see this sign in the door taking proud of place, as we arrived.

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I’m happy to feed anywhere but I hope that this sign makes other mummies who may feel uncomfortable feeding in public a little more comfortable. No matter if you’re bottle or breastfeeding, babies should be able to eat when they are hungry and mummies should be free to feed anyway they choose without being worried about anyone else.

We arrived not long after 9am and we were the first people in today. It had been open since 8am but it is midweek so I wouldn’t have expected it to be busy. Not long after we arrived other people started to arrive too. We were seated at a table of our choosing and offered a highchair which we politely declined as Flixster isn’t sitting up yet or eating any solids. Our waitress explained the new menu. I don’t know what they offered before but it is apparently now unlimited which is new with a choice of continental (£2.99)  or continental and cooked items (£4.99). Unlimited drinks of tea, filter coffee and juice was an additional £2.25. After both choosing the cooked option and unlimited drinks we went off to see what was on offer. The usual salad bar had cold  breakfast items which you help yourself to rather than salad as it does for lunch and dinner. The menu listed all these items too but I noticed somethings were on the menu but not out on the bar. There was however still lots of choice including fresh fruit, yoghurt and pancakes.

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Over on the other side of the room there was a table set up with a large toaster where you could put a choice of bread, crumpets or muffins through. This was also where the drinks were on offer. There was two large jugs of filter coffee and a good selection of tea bags.

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The toaster and coffee

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The crumpets and muffins

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Coffee and tea

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Tea selection and decaf coffee

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Juice and milk

Everything was lovely and clean and looked and felt fresh.

I started with a small bowl of muesli (I tried to start a little bit healthy!) from the cold bar and I took a couple of pancakes over to the toaster to warm them up and pour a little syrup on top. There were all sorts of toppings for toast including Nutella and Marmite. Whilst we enjoyed the cold items we ordered our hot breakfast items from the waitress, you can have whatever you want from the list which included lots of different potato and egg choices.

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We both made our choices and finished up our cold items. The pancakes and syrup were lovely and hubby said the crumpets were nice too. The hot breakfast didn’t take long and was exactly what we had ordered. I’m not keen on meat so I ordered the cheese and leek sausage instead of the meat sausage. I did have the bacon and was hoping it wouldn’t be greasy. It was in fact just perfect, nicely cooked and not greasy at all.

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The scrambled eggs were lovely and creamy and the mushrooms had a lovely flavour. I loved the veggie sausage although would only have one next time as I was truly stuffed! We rarely have breakfast out so really enjoyed treating ourselves. It was past 10 by the time we were ready to leave so we had been there well over an hour. The total came to £14.48 which I think was really good value for money considering what we had enjoyed and the time we had been there. I would definitely return again some time, I think the boy would love it too. I imagine weekends do get busier and having to wait a while to use the toaster (as you do in hotels) may not make it quite as fun but I guess I’ll have to go back sometime and see.

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Overall we really enjoyed ourselves, the food was lovely and a really good choice to suit all tastes, the place was clean and the service was good. The price was just right and I would certainly be recommending the harvester breakfast to friends, I hope that we can go back again soon with the boy to see what he thinks!

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This past weekend I made a trip to the Baby and Toddler Show at Eventcity Manchester with my good friend Jenny from Lets Talk Mommy. I had won tickets in a giveaway on another parenting blog and was looking forward to having a nosey around the various stalls of companies large and small. I have been previously and knew what to expect of the day. I arranged to meet Jenny in Starbucks for breakfast before the show, as usual I was running late so text her as I was leaving to say I’d be there soon. Unfortunately her son had been poorly during the night so she too was running late, we ended up arriving at roughly the same time. I had a pumpkin spiced latte and pumpkin loaf. I love pumpkin spiced lattes but they are an occasional treat for me as I know they are quite calorific so try not to have them all the time. I love autumn and winter time so I know once Starbucks start promoting the PSL its time for the seasons to change!
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We had breakfast and chatted about the children then headed over to the show. The line to get in was long but moved quickly, once inside we headed straight to the changing area as Flixster was getting grouchy. I didn’t bring the boy with me as he’d have been bored and would have a much better time at home with daddy. The changing area was well equipped with complimentary disposable nappies, wipes and Vital Acquaint Sanitising spray. I haven’t seen or used this product before so thought I’d give it a go, I used it to wipe down the surface after changing. It certainly seemed to act like water with no sticky residue, I’d definitely be looking out for it in the shops so that I can give it a try around the house. I’m a sucker for cleaning products, especially baby friendly ones! After a quick change we swapped sides and went into the feeding area, as a breastfeeding mummy I love it when comfortable seating is provided for me to feed baby in, I certainly wasn’t disappointed at the show, I managed to bag myself a nice rocking chair to feed in. As I was first into the area this was great, I think later on in the day then it may have been harder as there were only two rocking chairs as far as I could see and some other softer seating, so I hope for future shows that they provide a few more comfortable chairs to feed in. After Flixster had finished we headed back into the main show area to begin exploring all the stalls. There were major brands showing there alongside some much smaller companies which was great. I love to see new products and find that getting hands on at show and seeing demonstrations live really helps me to remember them. The show seemed busy but I was able to move around freely which was great. I had Flixster in a baby sling but even the mummies and daddies with prams and pushchairs had room to move which was great. I tried to avoid the large area of prams and buggies on display as I already own three myself and I don’t think the hubby would be happy if I told him I wanted another one, I do really enjoy trying new prams though so best to steer clear!
One of the highlights of the show for me personally was seeing the OnetoOne Midwife stand. When I was pregnant with Flixster I referred myself to the fabulous service of OnetoOne midwives as I am very lucky to live in an area that they currently provide services to, free of charge to pregnant ladies. My main midwife wasn’t at the show on the day I attended but my secondary midwife was so it was lovely to see her again there. I was on the look out for some new dribble bibs for Flixster at the show and I wasn’t disappointed, there were at least two stands selling them but I chose to buy from a company I’d never heard of before called Zippy Bibs as they had a large selection of Christmas bibs and I am absolutely mad for Christmas, it’s my absolute favourite time of year, I have fond memories of Christmas as a child and find its even more magical now I have children of my own. So I bought at least 3 Christmas themed bibs in my selection.

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Jenny didn’t really have much on her shopping list but did buy a new changing bag or as she would say in her lovely american accent ‘Diaper bag’ from Mia Tui. Last year I bought a lovely change bag from them at the show so I wasted no time in recommending them to Jenny who does a lot of travelling with her children. Their bags are great for everyday use as a handbag as well as a change bag and are ideal for travelling. I will do a review of mine soon, but as it’s in everyday use I’d need to find time to empty it out properly, its like a Tardis! As there’s so many lovely colour choices Jenny took her time to decide on a beautiful autumnal coloured one that will go with anything.

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Jenny and I spent quite a lot of time at various stalls and by the time we had finished looking around and shopping our tummies were rumbling so we headed oer to the Trafford centre for some lunch before heading our separate ways to go home.

The baby and toddler show was a fun day out but I’m not sure it would have been worth the £15 price per ticket, in the run up to the show there were lots of ticket offers flying about so if you can get a discount on future shows then I’d highly recommend it to expectant parents and parents of young children. I didn’t notice many products for toddlers but I’m sure this may change in future years as it certainly seemed busy this year so I’d hope that in future this would attract even more brands and products to the show. I’m looking forward to visit again in future as Flixster gets older!