Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Pit, Leeds

So here I am again, writing about having had an amazing experience eating out at a fabulous Leeds based restaurant - such a hard life, eh.

Well, if I wasn't on a little bit of a mission at the moment to loose this baby weight then it would have been a total doddle - I would have ordered whatever I fancied and would have totally filled my boots with the amazing, calorie packed dishes on offer - but as it is I am trying (this week at least!) so I was all sensible and did a little menu related research before I left home.

And I'm really glad I did take a little time to see what was on offer actually, because as it turns out, our venue of choice - The Pit (Leeds Centre) actually did cater for my current healthy food kick.

~ Hurrah ~

So, all ready and menu prepared, off we went.

Our first "blogger outing" as a family of four.

I'd never actually been inside of The Pit before and when we arrived, it was fairly empty - perfect for blog photo taking...

The atmosphere was very relaxed and laid back and I was immediately hit with a sense that this would be the perfect place to come with friends for a chilled out drink and a bite to eat.

The Pit first opened in 2013 and is one of many bars for it's very successful owners and, as the name suggests, it is housed slightly below ground level.

Which, as fabulous as it was in helping to create a unique atmosphere it actually presented us with probably our only stumbling block of the day.

As we are now a family of four, it is quite a rarity that we manage to get out all together but when we do we like to make the most of it and love nothing more than really enjoying the time we have together.

Naturally, this usually involves food and we love discovering new little gems of places to visit.

However, being out of the house for any length of time with a little person means that we always have a huge amount of "stuff" in tow, more often than not a pram too.

But entering a slightly underground restaurant means there will (obviously) be a few steps to deal with - and these steps were fairly steep at that.

If the Hubby hadn't been with me to grab the pram and the heavy, crammed baby bag whilst I took charge of baby I think I would have struggled to even get through The Pit door because my usual "bumping" the pram down the steps wouldn't have been possible at all.

But on this day we managed to avert the issue and the really lovely bar staff did offer to help us back up the steps as we were leaving...but it did make me wonder a little bit about wheelchair access though...

And I mean if there was another "easy access entrance" into the bar it would have been fab to have had it pointed out to me...just in case I ever do decide to pop back again without the Hubby and his helpful extra two arms.

Anyway, mini hurdle aside, as I said, we were greeted by really friendly staff and were immediately directed towards the best high-chair height tables and had a chair brought out for us straight away...

And once we were settled in, we had a little deliberation over the menu and ordered our drinks.

My son picked the "Bubblegum Bounty" - ice cream, strawberry and bubblegum flavours finished off with whipped cream...

...yeah - he loved it and I caved and had the teeniest of sips too and yes, it was just as good as it sounds.

In Charlie's words "the after-taste hits you and is sooo nice"

This drink was by far the most exciting of our three choices - mine was a boring diet coke and the Hubby's a beer - nice but not photo worthy.

But then the food began to arrive...

I have to admit now that I was so tempted to forget my whole weight loss mission as I placed my order - I could have quite easily just indulged in one of the yummy sounding burgers...or those burritos...or a sneaky cocktail...and then totally finish everything off with a huge, amazing pudding...

But no.

I remained strong and I'm actually so glad I did because I was really impressed with my choices.

First up, we had starters which arrived in the most adorable mini hot plate pans.

My son chose the guacamole, salsa and cheese smothered nachos, the Hubby picked the gooey BBQ ribs and I opted for the spicy chicken wings...

Now my chicken - although I removed the skin which took with it most of the hot sauce - was still really spicy-hot which was just perfect for me.

The meat was cooked spot on and I found no faults at all.

The Hubby's BBQ ribs were snaffled in next to no time - he was impressed with how succulent and tender the meat was, as was my (usually no onion or tomato eating) son on the tastiness and crispness of his nachos and dips.

We've had nachos before at other places and found them to taste quite soft and soggy so it was obvious that this little plate was very freshly made because they were fresh, crisp and very flavoursome.

And they set us up nicely for our main options.

Again, I chose "wisely" and opted for the "Cracking Mexican Grilled Chicken" with a salad and requested my dressings on the side.

For me, picking a salad when I'm eating out is not something I find natural to do - I love food and it's usually a case of the stodgier the better.

But actually, when this dish was placed in front of me I was very pleasantly surprised.

The chicken smelt amazing and the fabulous staff even cooked it for me without it's oily chimichurri marinade.

Again, I removed the skin from the chicken breast and still found the meat underneath to be packed full of flame-grilled flavour and it was so tender.

I can find chicken breast really dry at times but not this - it was beautiful - I couldn't get enough of it.

And as for the salad, I've never had a Mexican quinoa salad before but this was a perfect chicken accompaniment and it was so blooming tasty and really more-ish.

Certainly not a "boring salad" at all.

I actually couldn't finish the plate of food (not finish a salad!? Are you joking!) but it wasn't without trying let me assure you, it was just so filling.

And really impressive.

Now my two boys were certainly not on any kind of a health kick and they tucked into...

A "Pit Master" burger (beef, bacon, pulled pork, chicken, cheese and onion rings all stacked up!) with sweet potato fries on the side...
(the Hubby)

...and an "Ultimate Cheese & Bacon Burger" (bacon and pork burger stacked with cheese and onion rings)
(the son)

I'm not quite sure how they managed to even pick the burgers up let alone bite into them but they both battled on and were left very impressed...

...and very full...

Their plates were cleaned - or as clean as their stomachs would allow anyway,

Then it was time for me to retreat back to Mum Duty and feed the little lady whilst the boys headed down into "The Den" for a quick game of pool...

...after they had ordered their puddings of course...

How I left that "Warm Peanut Butter Brownie" unordered I'll never know but I did (how good am I, eh!) and then proceeded to drool over the son's "Churros"...

...and the Hubby's "Apple Pie Sundae"...

They looked amazing and (as if I need to state this) were demolished in record time, which speaks for itself really doesn't it.

So, in a little "The Pit Summery", I thought the food was nice, the layout (apart from the stairs and lack of baby changing facilities) was quite unique, and the atmosphere was really chilled out and laid back.

I'm sure we'll be back at some point anyway.

Thanks for having us people of The Pit

* complementary meal in aid of an honest review - words, photos and opinions are all my own

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A Lovely, Colourful Bundle Of Fun

Creativity wise, I wouldn't say I'm up there with the best of them...

...I'm actually quite rubbish at anything like that if I'm being totally honest...

Crafting and making things look all pretty was never something I was any good at if I have a think back really - I do remember always shoving my poster work over to my best friend in primary school because everyone knew she was the best there was at bubble writing - and being her bestie I naturally had first dibs at stealing her time and having her wow-up my work.

So with this in mind then, when I was approached recently by Interior Goods Direct and asked if I would like one of their "Bundles of Fun" I was a little bit sceptical at what I would actually be able to do with one at first.

I mean, my son is far more XBox and a lot less arts and crafts these days and my little girl is far too young to be cutting and sticking things right now, but all this aside, I was still very intrigued and loved the idea behind the #bundlesoffun so I just had to say yes.

Now Interior Goods Direct are a soft furnishing manufacturer based in West Yorkshire and they thought up this idea because they have so much beautiful fabric offcuts going to waste daily they knew they had to simply do something with it.

A lot of the offcuts are already being donated to different charities with bags and other fabric items being made and then sold to raise much needed charity funds.

Fab eh.

But even after this there is still far too much excess fabric left over, and so the idea of the Bundles Of Fun was born.

And I have to be honest I'm not sure what I was expecting to receive but it certainly wasn't such a fabulous looking package as the one that landed on my doorstep...

I mean just look - it's so pretty - there's actual brown paper and proper packaging twine and labels and buttons and everything...


But - what am I going to do with the bundle?

Very good question!

There are some really lovely, girlie prints inside and they are making me wish I was a creative person...and that I was any good with a needle...or that I owned a sewing machine...

I'd certainly be whipping up a few lil' unique outfits for Willow if I was any of these that's for sure
(like that girl needs any more clothes)

But there is something that I have figured won't be too hard to try and it's something that I know that I have to at least attempt to create, and that something is...

Head wraps 

Come on - have you seen my Instagram feed - as if it could have been anything else!

So make sure you keep an eye out if you want to see how successful I am with this little project - win or loose they'll be a blog post to follow.

And if you fancy getting your hands on a Bundle Of Fun, Interior Goods Direct are thinking of making them a regular feature and putting them on sale in the very near future too.

Creativity - I'm coming to get you

* "bundle of fun" material sent free of charge - thoughts, words & pictures are all my own

Thursday, 14 April 2016

MooGoo - Happy Natural Moisturising

Nawwww - look at this cute lil' moo cow...

Sweet eh?

Sweet indeed.

And this little guy came to be in my possession after I was first introduced to a fabulous skincare brand, oooh over a year ago now, when I attended a fab blogger meet up in Sheffield (more details here).

So which brand is it I hear you ask?

Which brand is represented by such a cute lil' guy?

Well, the brand in question it is none other than MooGoo.

MooGoo are an all natural skincare and make-up brand who's ideas originate all the way from Australia.

MooGoo have such a strong "all natural" thesis that they say all of their products are safe enough to eat
(if you ever feel the need to munch on a body lotion sandwich that is).

Sounds good...the naturalness I mean...not the sandwich...

For me however, I've never really felt a strong desire to specifically seek out natural products above any other, so at the time of discovering MooGoo I was really eager to find out more.

I was also pregnant with 'ickle Baby Baker so, with someone else other that myself in mind, my interest was spiked even more.

And then I was shown the huge range of baby specific products they have on offer and that was it, I had to try some.

MooGoo then, very kindly, sent me this cow adorned, "grass" filled box with a selection of their goodies to have a look at, and I have to say that I am pritty impressed with what I've found.

Inside the lovely box of tricks there was the brilliant Skin Milk Udder Cream, some Milk Shampoo, Cream Conditioner, a Fresh Cream Deodorant and an Edible Strawberry Lip Balm
(I do love the milk themed names of everything!)

Now the deodorant and lip balm I have used before and have loved both.

My lips are always terribly dry and peel like crazy (sorry for the TMI!) to the point of them becoming really tender and sore but this balm never fails to soothe and heal them.

I love it and it's very handy to have in my bag - plus, the natural beetroot colouring of it gives a really subtle colour to my lips too meaning I can look all intentionally fancy - even at 8.30am on the school run.

Now the Fresh Cream Deodorant I've found to be perfect for times when the underarm area is a little sore or dry, perhaps from all the prepping that goes on under there.

It is a roll on style - not my first choice I must admit - but I was willing to give it a go and found it wasn't bad at all.

The deodorant contains no aluminium based ingredients and, something I found a little unusual, it isn't fragranced either, but the ingredients within it still allow the body to perspire - which it needs to do - but stop any bacteria forming therefore no nasty smells are created.

Again, this is ideal for people with sensitive skin.

And it really does do the job it is intended to do too.

~ Which is great ~

Also within the box, there were a few lovely products which were totally new to me...

The Skin Milk Udder Cream was in there and now that I've used it for a little while I think it has to be my most lusted after product from the stash.

It was also the product from which MooGoo originated and I can see why - it's brilliant.

The cream is an all over moisturiser which also helps to improve skin elasticity - meaning less wrinkles and sagging - and once on the skin it feels really light and absorbs beautifully - no greasiness in sight.

The cream feels very luxurious too, and to me, it has a slight "milky" scent - which is very pleasant but is only very subtle.

It has worked wonders at ridding me of my horrid problem areas anyway - my dry knees and elbows - but also (after a patch test of course) I started to use it on Baby Baker's itchy eczema when the Doctor's recommendations didn't shift it at all.

Fantastically the Udder Cream began to lessen the redness and I found that Willow wasn't itching nearly as much - and her skin stays soft for so long after using it too.

~ Fabulous ~

Something else I use religiously on Baby Baker is the Milk Shampoo and occasionally I will add some of the Cream Conditioner into our routine too...

I find them both a lot less harsh on her extra sensitive skin than some of the other baby products we have tried - and they smell really lovely as well.

Both have helped to gently shift the unsightly cradle cap she can suffer with from time to time too.

For me, discovering MooGoo has been a huge blessing and the small section of their products I have sampled have impressed me no end.

I would certainly recommended the range to others and know I'll be adding more to my "stock" in the future.

It looks like I could be an "all natural skincare" convert after all

* products sent free of charge in exchange for an honest review - words, pictures & opinions all my own

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Finders Keepers & Some Striking Angel Wings

So, as far as "quirky little obsessions" go, I think I have a fairly lovely one actually.

Well, obviously, my two main obsessions are my kiddies (which you'll know all about if you follow my Instagram page *winky smile*) but apart from those two cuties, there is something else that I do rather love too.

And that something is angels.

I know, I know - a little strange maybe but I just find the whole concept and idea of them very magical, mystical and a little bit soothing really.

I know there are a lot of people out there who share my feelings about angel theories, yet for them, the pull of them may be for sentimental reasons.

For me however, my love stems simply from fiction.

Yep, that's right, fiction.

My book-nerd side has discovered some pritty amazing, supernatural tales telling of beautiful fallen angels and that was it right there, I was hooked on the genre immediately.

Actually, I have to mention the lady who started all of this - it was the fabulous Amy M. Bartol - now she is woman with a whole lot of books you really need to be investing some time in people, let me tell you.

Anyhow, back to the now.

So there I was, all angel loving, being introduced to a really cute, new jewellery brand - Finders Keepers - when what did I spot?

Yes, you guessed it - some beautiful angel wing pieces...

...I mean how could anyone not want this - obsession or not - it's just so delicate and really pretty.

The double wing design is really classic and would go with any outfit - casual or dressy - and with it being silver (not real but still my colour of choice) it is just perfect for me.

This necklace offers up a really striking effect yet still remains very understated and simple in design.

And it is an ideal gift in my opinion.

Finders Keepers, who are fairly new with their online retail store, actually stock a whole host of cute, dainty jewellery pieces and how lucky am I that they sent me this piece to keep, all for my very own.

Now, thanks to them, I can move away from the rushed, fleeting, crazy idea that I recently had to have an angel wing tattoo emblazed somewhere on my body (I mean, lets face it, I'm far too old and boring these days for anything quite so "out there" anyway) yet I can still be adorned with beautiful wings whenever I please...

...and in a much more sensible way too.

And upon further examination of the range of necklaces on offer I'm beginning to feel a little sorry for my bank account right now - there are certainly a fair few things that I am needing to be picking up.

Well, my collection can't be called a "collection" with just the one item now can it...and I've spotted a few gift pieces not for myself as well...

Go check out Finders Keepers for yourself and let me know if you find anything you love as much as I love my necklace.

Happy Shopping

* item provided free of charge - review, pictures & opinions are all my own

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Why All The Guilt?

The time is currently 06.40 am.

It's Tuesday 8th March 2016.

I've been awake since 4.50 am (which has always been a pritty standard get-up time for me), Baby Baker has had a bottle and is currently napping in my bed and I'm now waiting until 7.10 am when it's time to wake up "Big Bro Baker" for his shower for school.

As I stood in the bathroom, ooh about fifteen minutes ago, putting on my make up - a must to help me feel less Swamp-Thing like on the school run - there were so many things - blog related things - running through my head today.

"Damn, I haven't sorted those photographs out for the blog post yet"

"I need to get a blog post out today, I haven't done one in so long"

"Why did I take so long off!"

"No wonder my DA has dropped so much."

~ Stop ~

Why on earth am I always racked with all of these negative thoughts and feelings of guilt over something that is a hobby?

It shouldn't be like that, but my god, it really is.

Obviously I realise that if I want to keep a hobby - any hobby - afloat then I need to be putting in the time and effort, and I really do, especially if I'm working with a brand, but sometimes other things stand in the way.

Take for example a few weeks ago, it was the half term holidays, and without consciously planning what I was doing I ended up taking the full week away from my computer - because I was spending time with my children and it was the first holiday I'd had on my own with both of them.

And then, the week after that, my lil' lady was really poorly (and still isn't fully 100%) and if I'm honest, I couldn't face diverting any of my attention away from her, not even for a minute, and certainly not for the length of time required to put a post together, so another week went by without much "blog action".

It's all about priorities...but I felt so bad that I hadn't put any time into my blog.

I need to remember that first and foremost I'm a Mum and I have two little people who rely on me 100% of their time.

So sometimes my hobby has to take a backseat.

And that's fine.

So all this guilt I feel is going to stop.

I mean it's been that silly recently that I've even found myself feeling guilty over posting things on my Instagram page.

A different kind of guilt, but still guilt nonetheless.

And it's crazy I know.

I'm not daft, I know not everyone will want to see photographs each and everyday of my children (in fairness they are mainly pictures of Baby Baker - my son is ten now and if he doesn't want his pictures posting I have to respect his wishes) but I really enjoy posting them.

And it is my Instagram page after all...

And I do know that some people will like seeing them..

So why do I feel guilty?

Why have I stopped myself posting some pictures in the past in "fear" of people thinking it's way too much...?

Why indeed.

It's crazy.

I mean, yeah, I'm a Mum and I enjoy posting baby pictures, but I also love looking at fashion, make-up and foodie pages just as much as the next person.

I can't say I'm really all too fussed with seeing an individual's daily menu, right down to the drinks they had though...

And I do love a good lippie, but seeing a collection of fifteen different ones, all of a similar shade but with a slightly different pigmentation, well that doesn't really do it for me either...

And yep, whilst I really do think that pair of jeans make a person look amazing, seeing them styled twelve different ways simply by changing a necklace and an earring isn't totally my thing...

But of course some people will l-o-v-e to see things like that.

And whilst such things don't fully captivate me - as I know my baby outfit photos won't captivate a lot of people - I still appreciate that they are much loved by the photographer and I like them because of that.

Everyone's different after all, and so, I'm stopping with the guilt.

I love my blog, I love the people it has brought into my life and I love the opportunities it has brought my way
(again, opportunities presented to me that I shouldn't feel guilt for jumping to accept).

But if I don't blog for a week because I haven't had a minute to myself for days or have been looking after my children then is that really a problem?

No, it isn't.

I'm going to post what I like, when I like and hope that people respect and like me enough to just go with it - as I do them.

And now I am going to pop off, stop moaning and resume my Mum Duties as there is a little lady here who requires a little more of my attention.

Happy Tuesday everyone

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A Mother's Day Gift...With A Twist

So - not that we need the reminder - but there's a really important weekend approaching people.

One that simply has to be as spectacularly special as it possibly can be.

~ It's Mother's Day ~

...which in my opinion has to be one of the most important days of the year...

And for me, this Mother's Day is going to be even more amazing because, after all of these years, this will be my first one celebrating with my two beautiful children.

I really am such a lucky lady.

But what will this Sunday mean to me?

How will it differ from any other day?

Well, the only thing I'm bothered about really is actually spending the day with my beauties...

...and maybe a little sleep in...
(forget that one, I have a four month old baby)

...or maybe a nice box of chocolates...
(erm - I need to remember the diet...)

...perhaps a lovely bunch of flowers...
(which I will have killed off within two days)

...maybe a lovely card and a cuppa...

Yep, that's the one - a cuppa and a card will do me nicely.

And I'm sure there are other Mum's out there, Mum's of all different ages, where the "norm" of a gift isn't entirely their ideal kind of a pressie
(although they will obviously never tell you that)

So for these lovely Mothers, how about treating them to a day spent seeking out some thrills and a little bit of adventure?

Come on - you have to admit it really does look rather fun.

We've actually been to one of the Aerial Extreme sites before (see post here).

At the time I was pregnant with Willow though, so obviously I took a backseat and just watched the boys have all of the scary-heights-climbing fun, and trust me, they really did enjoy themselves.

I'm not actually sure if I'd ever be able to pull on my big girl pants and have a go though...the thought of it terrifies me a little bit...but I suppose if my son asked...well, how could I possibly refuse!?

Go on - give your Mum something a little different this year - especially with there being a fabulous 30% off booking a Mother's Day visit.

And if that doesn't tempt you then maybe this will - I have one adult and one child ticket to give away for a venue of your choice - so there really is no excuse for all Mums to not be an "Extreme Mum" this year.

The competition will only run for a few days (UK only I'm afraid) and all you have to do is enter via the Raflecopter below...

A winner will be chosen on Saturday and then all they have to do is let me know their preferred venue and I will sort out the rest.

~ Fabulous eh ~

Happy entering and whether you are a Mummy yourself or have a fabulous Mummy all of your very own, have a lovely weekend celebrating.

Happy Mother's Day!

* a collaborative post - I didn't receive anything for this post - I wanted to write it!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A Night in At The Movies

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's nothing quite like a good old family movie night where everyone can totally slob out with their loved ones, cosy up and munch through vast amounts of sweets and treats.

For me it just brings a whole level of togetherness - a togetherness which can often be lost or very much unappreciated during the goings-on of everyday life.

And it's something we've always loved to do in my home.

Even before we had kiddies, whilst myself and the Hubby loved nothing more than "painting the town red" there's really no beating pulling on the comfies and snuggling up with a really good film.

And now that we do have our fabulous children, well, we love it even more.

You see I'm a real stickler for talking my son through films, especially the fabulous ones which are adapted from amazing books - books which I will have always read before watching the film because obviously, you can't watch a movie until you've read the book - it's the law don't ya know.

And then my son loves asking me questions back as he tries really hard to fully understand everything that is going on - it drives the Hubby crazy, but it's just "our thing".

...however it's not really "a thing" that other cinema goers appreciate, us nattering our way through each and every scene, so movie nights at home are totally perfect.

Being able to watch a movie and interact with our loved ones in this way is really important for us because lets face it, actually going out to the cinema isn't always an option.

Especially not with a four month old little lady in tow...and...well, cinema nights can be so blooming expensive can't they.

So - a night in at the movies is usually our preferred mode for getting our film fix.

So I can really see why Gracewell place such an emphasis on the importance of having evenings like this for their residents.

Gracewell are residential homes which care for the elderly you see, a setting where having a sense of family togetherness and family support must certainly be paramount.

We can all get so wrapped up in our own everyday lives - school, work, hobbies - it can be so easy to loose family closeness and so, even if it's just once a week, we like to sit down, relax and spend a little bit of time just being together as a family.

And film night is great for this.

Gracewell recognise this too and film nights are a regular occurrence within their homes - family members are invited and everyone gets together to simply, be together.

To have a sense of togetherness and belonging.

~ It's really important ~

~ It's really important to me

~ It's really important to Gracewell residents too I'm sure.

And actually, this week we've managed a few family movie nights already.

We watched movie number one (make sure you see it - it's blooming amazing!) and we all got so into it that we just had to rent the second one as soon as we possibly could.

Both movies have been such a discussion point each and every day since we watched them too.

So when you think about it, there's really so much more to movie night that simply "just watching a film" isn't there...

I hope you enjoy a fabulous family filled Night At The Movies too

* collaborative post - all words, thoughts & movie opinions are my own
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