Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Staying Safe this Christmas

We are very much looking forward to “shutting up” for Christmas. The end of the working week signals the end of the working year for us. Kids are off school, we have a little break planned and lots of brilliant family time pencilled in over the festive period. Of course there will be lots of food and drink consumed – slimming will have to be put on the back burner until the New Year I’m afraid – sorry Slimming World!

Christmas is also a time where we can all let our hair down and have a drink. It’s great to celebrate Christmas with a few special drinks over Christmas and New Year, lovely to let your hair down and enjoy the time of off work – a little festive break. Usually we visit our parents on Christmas evening and share a few drinks. However, we always walk round and walk back. We are lucky that they do only live around the corner so it is easy for us to do this. However, if we lived any further away, we would make sure that we got taxis. Drinking and driving is never worth it. We just have a zero alcohol approach when it comes to driving, so at Christmas, we adopt a zero driving approach when it comes to alcohol! Sounds simple, but a car can be a deadly machine and getting behind the wheel of a car after consuming one to many would just be far too dangerous and a stupid decision that could ruin many lives.

The Co-Op have designed this designated driver finder to encourage people to be safe and sound this Christmas. Definitely worth a go if you can't decide which of you is to drive - go on, give the wheel a spin.

Please make sure that this year as you celebrate Christmas you keep safe. If you are drinking then make sure that you do have a designated driver – a taxi is perfect, then you can all have a little tipple knowing that you are safe.

Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Co-Operative insurance. All words and views are my own.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

#ManicMumday with Toby Carvery

I was challenged tonight to have a night off cooking and visit our local Toby Carvery. Such a tough challenge, I know, but someone's got to do it!

I cook from fresh most nights, even on weekdays when we're working - we are just in the routine, or on the hamster wheel, whichever! Warren cooks about once a week when I am in late from work, the rest of the time I tend to do the cooking. This is fine, but now and again you do just need a night off - you don't appreciate how much effort it is after a day's work to get in and cook and clean up afterwards -  so I was more than happy to take on this challenge! Every day is a ManicMumday for me, as you can imagine!

Our local Toby Carvery is in Aintree just a short drive away. We hadn't took the girls to a Toby before and they love roast dinners so I already knew that it would be a hit with them. Staff were very friendly and helpful and all in the Christmas spirit with their jumpers and antlers - the kids thought it was great. The restaurant itself is spacious and ambient, bit of music in the background and generally a chilled out atmosphere.

When we were seated the kids were given colouring-in sheets and crayons and we set to looking at the menu. They do have a Christmas menu out now with a choice of two and three courses for a set price. We thought that these looked fab, and we decided to have roast dinners each. Warren had his upgraded to a King Size for an extra £1.50 and because Rosie is under three staff gave her a bowl and a spoon so we could share our food with her. Rosie is a good eater at times, bu
t at others she just picks, so it can end up being a waste of money as well as food, so we were grateful for the bowl!

We each took turns to get our food. At the Carvery you can have any of the four meats; pork, gammon, turkey or beef with a Yorkshire pudding. Then you can select your own veg and condiments. The vegetables were sprouts, carrots, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese and a choice of two mashed potatoes. If you still feel hungry after your meal you are allowed to go back for extra vegetables, but we had already piled our plates the first time around so we didn't do this. We did add lots of gravy and tucked in to our meal.

Plates piled high!

That's one way to eat a Yorkshire pudd!
We really enjoyed our meals. Rosie didn't eat much, but she is just at that age. I think sometimes her teeth trouble her and she doesn't feel like eating. Alice, on the other hand ate lots and even stole some of our food too! It was great to see her enjoying her food and having a good time.

Child selfie!
We managed to squeeze in room for dessert. The dessert menu is great - plenty of choice and great prices too. We decided on the Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream Sundae and the Cherry Chocolate Torte with whipped cream. We all shared and just dug in. I barely had time to take a photo of or desserts - they all swooped around them as soon as they landed on the table.

We had a lovely night. The food was tasty, good value for money and we really enjoyed the restaurant. Staff were particularly helpful, our waitress Steph made a fuss of the girls and all the staff were friendly and seemed really happy. It does make a real difference. For five of us with two kids meals, two adult (one of them King Size) two desserts and drinks for all of us, the bill was just over £40. I think this is excellent value for money and we will definitely go back again.

Thanks Toby Carvery for this very tough challenge!! :)

Toby Carvery have also offered any of readers a free ice cream sundae when they visit. Here is the voucher below - I do highly recommend them and hope that you enjoy your visit.

Disclosure: We were invited as guests to visit Toby Carvery and were supplied with a voucher to cover the cost of our visit. As always, all words and views are our own.

Children's Winter Shoes

Winter shoes for kids can be a bit if a pain to buy. Our kids can be quite fussy with their shoes and we can try two, three, four pairs on before they settle on what they want. We're quite keen on getting shoes that we know will last them through the winter, anything else would be asking a bit much seeing as though their feet seem to grow very quickly!

Our girls absolutely love jumping in muddy puddles, just like Peppa Pig and so we tend to use wellies for winter. There are some lovely winter boots out there for kids at the minute and we did consider buying them some for this winter. We looked in Liverpool town centre last week as we are off to Belgium very soon - it is going to be quite cold and I was keen that the kids had boots to stay warm. However, when we thought on - we realised that they still have their wellies. Bright pink wellies that they absolutely love. I have decided that this year I am going to buy them a few pairs of socks to go under their wellies, and we are going to go jumping in puddles in Belgium!

Alice actually threw a bit of a strop the other day because I wouldn't let her wear her pink wellies for school. Nightmare times. However, I managed to coax her into her school shoes, so all was fine in the end. Wellies are brilliant. We even went to Crosby beach in them earlier in the year.

Alice in her wellies!
So, next will be new shoes for spring I suppose. But we don't need to think that far ahead yet. Brantano have designed a little guide for picking out winter footwear for your little one. Definitely contains a few good tips.

For now, we're sticking with our wellies!

This post was written as a collaboration with Brantano. All words and views are my own.

Garden Design

I know winter is not really the time to be thinking about gardening, but before we know it winter will be over and it will be time to start thinking about the outside of the house. We have never really been in a position to do any serious thinking about garden design. However, we have realised that this coming new year will be different for us and we are going to try and make a real effort with both gardens.

The back garden is basically just a decent lawn, we have a shed and some herbs growing. Ideally I would like to have a nice border around the edge of the garden with some plants and flowers growing. I love climbing ivy and I really do appreciate using the herbs that we have grown in the garden. We had strawberries and spring onions growing one year, so maybe we could pick that up again. I have also been looking at wooden play-houses for the kids, I think they look great and can also double as a little storage area for toys.

We do have a small paved area at the back door that I would also like re-doing. I think that decking would be great but I am not too sure our garden is big enough but I would still bear it in mind. I do like thinking about plans for the garden, but of course, the reality is that I have enough on my plate inside the house to be too concerned about the outside. Warren is the one who usually gets stuck in with the garden, I think I have picked up the lawnmower once in my life – but it’s not like I haven’t got enough to be getting on with!

Fun in the garden in summer!

I am looking forward to thinking about the garden next year though. It will be nice to have a spruced up garden all ready for summer – I’m sure that Warren can’t wait to get his gardening gloves on…. !

This post was written in collaboration with PR. All words are my own.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

We're Geronimo Festival Ambassadors!

You might remember last year we went to Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park. We had an absolute ball - there was so much for the kids to see and do. We loved the activities, all of the CBeebies characters that we met and we just had such a cracking time. We have been invited back as Ambassadors again next year so we are really looking forward to it again!

This was us last year, enjoying fun in the summer sun!

Next year the event is going to be at Tatton Park on 29th and 30th May. We absolutely can't wait. I know it might seem a little early getting excited for summer in winter, but we can't help it. We had such a lovely day!

You can check the line-up and purchase tickets from Geronimo Fest here. As an ambassador I'll be providing you with ticket updates, line-up announcements and other information so watch this space!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Giveaway: Bratz Snowkissed Doll

I have a great giveaway here to celebrate the famous Bratz photobooth which is coming to intu Trafford Centre this Saturday 5th December. The photobooth is great to get you in the festive spirit - the booth contains lots of winter themed Bratz props so your can take loads of cool festive pics! Best of all, it's free. 

I know my girls will absolutely love this. Once you have visited the booth and had your photos taken head to Facebook.com/BratzUK and tag yourself in your picture for a chance to win great Bratz prizes including a hamper of Snowkissed goodies. You can also check where the Bratz will be heading to next.  Definitely a great way to start off the festive period.

To celebrate this, I also have one Bratz Snowkissed Doll to give away here. To enter fill in the Rafflecopter form below. I have a short turnaround on this so that you should get it in time for Christmas. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

The prize is one Bratz Snowkissed doll and will be sent out by PR, blogger assumes no responsibility for non-receipt of the item. Giveaway open to UK entrants only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours of the giveaway ending.

Friday, 20 November 2015

St George's Hall Grotto, Liverpool

We were delighted to be asked to the opening of St George's Hall Grotto in Liverpool town centre. The kids are Christmas mad straight after Halloween so I knew it would be a great treat for them. St George's Hall itself is smack bang in the centre of Liverpool, so really easy to get to, just opposite Lime Street Station. We got the bus in and set off for the Grotto in the wind and hail! It was definitely worth braving the winter winds for.

The grotto itself is made up of a series of rooms and attractions. Accompanied by two very helpful elves, we were first led down the snow-covered corridor to write our letters to Santa. Alice wrote her own name and I helped them do the rest. On Alice's list there were basically every variation of "dolly" you could imagine, and Rosie's list included a "monster" a "snake" and a "car." I'm not certain that in any of these she meant toy either!

The next room was Santa's workshop area. This was filled with all kinds of tools and toys. Very Christmassy!

After this we were shown to a very lucky little girl or boy's bedroom, all done up for Christmas. (I wish our girls rooms looked like this!)

Next we walked through the snow-covered corridor with blue twinkling lights to wait to see Santa. The girls were very excited.

First of all Santa talked to the girls to ask them what they would like for Christmas. Then he explained what he would like to be left out for him on Christmas Eve for both himself and the reindeer. The girls were very chatty and were quite keen for this to be a two-way conversation. (In other words - they wouldn't shut up!)

Then the girls were given selection boxes each and posed for a photo. It was  a really great experience. It was very different to the usual "queue up to sit on Santa's lap" experience. The girls left feeling like it was really something magical. 

The price is £7.50 per child with up to two accompanying adults free. I think this is well worth the price and the quality time that you spend enjoying the experience with your child. If you are in the area, definitely give this a go. Last year they were queueing out of the door, so best get there early!

Dates of Grotto Opening (10am - 5pm)

Saturday and Sunday 21 - 22 November
Saturday and Sunday 28 - 29 November
Saturday and Sunday 5 - 6 December
Daily between 14 - 23 December

We were invited to attend this press opening event free of charge, but as always all words and views are our own.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Review: Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey Barbecue Glaze

We really do love dips, condiments, spices and trying out new flavours in this house. We like to try new things and get a bit creative with what we eat. We were really chuffed to be asked to try some Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey Barbecue Glaze.

We bought a rack of ribs and left them to marinate in the glaze for half an hour. We then cooked them in the oven and added extra sauce on top.

The sauce is sweet and sticky and made a great addition to the ribs. I think it would also be great with chicken kebabs or pork steaks - we will definitely be trying these next. I think the sauce would be a great addition to your condiments at a barbecue too - we will definitely be stocking up for barbecue season!

We were sent some Jack Daniel's sauces free of charge for the purpose of this review all words and and opinions are our own.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Review: Jamie's Italian, Liverpool

We were very excited to be asked to review Jamie's Italian in Liverpool. We do love eating out as a family and having the younger girls, we are always on the lookout for places that cater and allow for children. Sometimes our kids can be quite "lively" (as most children are) so it is important for us that wherever we go is relaxed, has plenty of space, possibly some activities for the kids as well as yummy food! So we went o Jamie's full of expectation of course!

The restaurant itself is in the heart of the city.

The Christmas decorations are just starting to be put up now so Liverpool at night looks amazing.  The restaurant itself is spacious and has a really lovely atmosphere. Relaxed with helpful staff and tables with plenty of space in between. This is really important when you have kids!! There were also activity packs for the kids to colour in whilst we waited for the food - perfect.

We loved the menu. There was plenty of choice and we took a while to decide what we wanted. Warren settled on Squid and Mussel Spaghetti Nero. This was seafood with pasta dyed and flavoured with squid ink. Warren really enjoyed it. I had the Turkey Milanese. The turkey was free range, stuffed with prosciutto and provolone - very tasty. Salad was served in fun pots, which was a bit gimicky, but we liked it - it was as fresh as a daisy too, crunchy and crisp. We also ordered Rainbow Slaw, which was a lovely variation on coleslaw - fresh and light.

The kids menu was also really great. I loved that the food was so fresh and healthy. We sometimes struggle to get the kids to eat their greens - I think most parents have this problem, so I like the fact that all of the items on the menu include fresh veg. We ordered the Organic Spaghetti and Meatballs - it has seven vegetables in it and tasted great.

We also picked the Baby Organic Beef Burger. We really loved how this was presented and so did Rosie.

I liked the fact that it had a yoghurt dip instead of mayonnaise or ketchup. I like that the kids get to mix up their diets and try new things when they are out.

For dessert the kids picked ice cream and Emily had the Chocolate Brownie. It had toffee popcorn, ice cream and chocolate sauce - I did have a little taste - it was yummy.

We really enjoyed our meal. The atmosphere was great, staff were helpful and the food was lovely. I also found the price to be good too. The kids meals were £6.50 and that included a drink - for fresh organic healthy food you can't really argue with the price.

We were asked to pose a few questions to our kids to give Jamie's Italian some feedback. Some of the answers are from all of the, some specific. Emily is 12, Alice is 4 and Rosie is 2, just to give you some context for their answers!

 “What does Jamie’s Italian smell like?”

Like nice food - and herby

 “What did you do until your food arrived?”

We coloured in the activity booklets and did a wordsearch

“What was your first thought about your meal when the waiter brought it to you?”

Mmmm tasty. I thought it looked yummy and I thought the meatballs looked yummy as well.

“What did you eat and how was it?”

Emily: Meatballs and spaghetti. It was lovely. The flavour was nice.
Alice: Meatballs and spaghetti. The flavour of my tea was lovely as well
Rosie: Yummy!

“What do you think your meal was made out of?”

Emily: Organic food
Alice: Organic food as well
Rosie: Sandwiches

 “Did you finish your whole plate?”

Yes to all!
Alice: My favourite part was that it was yummy. The salad was fun.

 “What did your parents have?”

Emily: Mum had turkey and Dad has  seafood pasta

  “Do you think eating vegetables is very important?”

Alice: Yes. Because they are yummy and they taste really good - and they are healthy for you.

  “Where do you think Italian food comes from?”

Alice: From really nice restaurants

“What was the best thing about Jamie’s Italian?”

The desserts

 “Would you like to come back here in the future?”


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

#TravelLodgeFoodies: Warren Cooks Scouse

We are big fans of home cooking in our house. We tend to cook from scratch (almost) every night. On the odd occasion we will go out for tea or grab a quick takeaway but general it is home-cooked food. I like to think I have quite a large variety of recipes up my sleeve. I enjoy cooking and love to try out new recipes. I love that our kids eat fresh fruit and vegetables (as well as the occasional treat of course!) We were delighted to be asked to be Liverpool  #TravelLodgeFoodies. Travel Lodge challenged us to cook one of our favourite regional dishes. I was really looking forward to this. I have a lot of recipe books, but I also love just home cooked comfort food – this is mostly what we eat.

However, as this was a regional cooking project, I decided to hand the baton over to Warren, who said he would like to cook a Scouse. Now I can cook Scouse, I do it now and again. It really is a great winter dish, however, I didn’t think there would be any point in me (a Mancunian) cooking the traditional Scouse dish when I live with a real Scouser! So I left Warren to it. He also enjoyed getting the kids involved with the cooking. I have added the recipe below. The dish served 5 of us so I have not put amounts on the recipe – you can just add more potatoes or meat to your taste – that’s the beauty of classic dishes you just make them as to how you and your family like them!

Alice loved getting involved in the cooking 

And the eating of course!

Warren’s Scouse Recipe



Stewing Beef


Beef Stock


1.       Lightly fry the beef with the onion, just until the meat is sealed.

2.       Cover the meat with water in a huge pan and add beef stock cubes and a bay leaf, salt and       pepper. Tip: Cut some very small potatoes, these ones will boil into the sauce to make the       Scouse thick.         

3.       Leave to simmer for 3 hours.
4.       Peel and cube potatoes and carrots. 

5.       Add potatoes and carrots to the stock and boil for 20 minutes.

You can add salt, pepper, more stock as required. Just make sure that the pan stays topped up with the water and you will end up with a lovely thick stew. Warren served this with hot buttered crusty bread. We loved this dish. Thanks Travel Lodge for inspiring us to write this post!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Curtains and Home Furnishings

Now that our children are a little bit bigger we have been thinking about smartening the house up a bit. I have never been one for home furnishings, but I like to have the house how I like it. Our house is filled to the brim with all of our belongings, it is a true home, a true reflection of us. This obviously means that sometimes it is messy and it doesn't always co-ordinate. However, I don't mind that, it's who we are. 

So I have been thinking about new curtains for each room. I think they could really spruce up our house. 

I love these for the kids bedroom. I love the pink owl design, and as it is not a particular brand like Peppa Pig or frozen, the girls can't argue over which one it is, they share a room and so they both like to have an opinion on the furnishings of course!

For the downstairs we would be looking at a cream, beige or coffee coloured curtain. Something like these Yorkshire Linen CO  door curtains would be perfect. We have have also seen quite a few pairs in Dunelm Mill and Next, so we are going to keep looking round. We have the big double patio doors at the back of our house - I love the coffee colour and think they would look great.

I have been looking on the Internet and keeping an eye out when I have been shopping. Buying new curtains are just one of those jobs that tends to go on the backburner, but hopefully I will find time and spruce up our house!

This post was written as a collaborative post.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Review: Thermos Stainless King Flask

I do love hot drinks. Especially as it is getting quite chilly now that the winter is creeping in. I hate the dark mornings and dark rainy nights coming home from work or university. however, I can instantly feel cheered by a lovely hot drink. That was why I was excited to review the Thermos Stainless King Flask. I do like to stay in the library after uni sometimes and get some studying done. Now there is a coffee shop in the library, and that is all well and good, but really I do like to just immerse myself in my books, and a flask filled with tea or coffee next to me just allows me to get on with it! This Saturday I decided to do a few hours reading in the library and took my flask with me to try it out.

The Flask

This is the bestselling flask from the range. The capacity is 1.2 litres and the colour is red. It keeps your drinks/soup hot for 24 hours and has a handy carry-handle. The RRP for the flask is £30.95.

Hard at work!


I love this flask. I am also going to consider making big batches of soup and taking this into work and uni for my lunch break. I think salad days are drawing to an end as the colder weather pick up, hearty warming soups are just the ticket and if they are kept warm in my flask then so much the better! I will definitely be using this at uni over the next couple of years - I really do just perch myself in the library and once I am stuck in my books I don't want to move! This flask is my ideal companion for those long study days that I love.

Disclosure: I was sent this flask to review free of charge, all words and views are my own.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Book Review + Video: Pumpkins Pumpkins Everywhere

As we are Parragon Book Buddies, they very kindly send us a book a month to review. This one is definitely a firm favourite in our house.

Rosie loves it and has learned the book herself. (We have to read it EVERY night!)

I'll let the video show you how much she loves it! (She can definitely read it better than I can!)

Do check out Parragon Books for more wonderful children's books. We love reading to our girls and as you can see from the video they love it too.

Disclosure: We were sent the book free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Masters: A Month In

The other day I had a little bit of an over-think about the whole post grad thing whilst folding washing, making Alice’s dinner and sorting through my reading list.

After this I thought I might put myself on “meltdown watch” – I have a lot on, I need to make time, but this has always been the case. However, then I got thinking. I was wondering what it was that was making me suddenly realise that this is actually a challenge. It is not the uni work – sure that is ridiculously a massive amount of reading. But I love that. I get it. I understand it, and I enjoy the reading. It is very dry. Diplomatic history is most definitely not “my thing” but I enjoy it all the same. I am hoping that this early leg-work and ton of reading gives me the tools I need to write my 15,000 word dissertation next year. I love it, I truly do. What is difficult is the actual juggling of responsibilities. This is the real test for me. I am a mother, this naturally means that I have to be there for my children. Here is a snippet of that this week:

Emily (aged 12): Emily has been creating an advertisement for school this week. So she talked a lot about this to me. She is also concerned about the popular girls in PE not passing the ball to her. She has also had too much Internet time recently and we are trying to get her to switch off at 8.30pm in time for shower and bed time. She also needs new clothes and we have been discussing new winter boots and a possible shopping spree this week. She also had an audit for late homework which she stresses that everyone in the class got due to a misunderstanding.

Alice (aged 4):  Alice had homework for the first time this week. She jumped up and down like a giddy fish when she brought it home, the most excited child to receive homework ever. So we had to discuss the washing as we sorted, talking about pairs of socks, matching items and patterns, shapes and colours. I had to fill in her feedback form and I wrote that we tend to teach Alice things like this all the time so she had no problem with it. Nevertheless she enjoyed it and we are looking forward to our next homework. Alice also has eczema and so we are trying to get that under control. She has to wear pink on Thursday for breast cancer care and I filled in a parent contact form and a password-form for secure pick-up. We also have to remember to pass Alice’s ballet shoes on to Nan to do a bit of sewing. The straps have to be sewn to Alice’s size and although I have lots of strengths, using a sewing machine is not one of them. We also completed Alice’s school application.

Rosie (aged 2): We have been working on road safety with Rosie this week. We have been walking to school and back, holding hands and explaining the dangers of the road. She is aware that the road is “Berry Berry dangerous.” (Sometimes she says “very”) She has also been wrestling Alice to the ground, sitting on her back and pulling on her hair. This is something that we have to keep an eye on. Rosie still wears nappies to nursery, underwear at her Nan’s and usually nappies with me as I haven’t got time to clean up after her all day – (she literally just pees/poos everywhere – last week she pooed in her wardrobe and it took me forever to clean.) So this is a consideration.

Never a dull moment!

The Home: Boring, boring housework. Washing, drying, ironing for five people. The usual. . No matter how many times I tell everyone to pick up after themselves, I always end up doing it. It seems I am the house manager and have to direct everyone else. Emily is reluctant to help, stressing the fact that she “put clothes away yesterday.” I put some washing on her bed yesterday, asked her to put it away and her response was “Errr GAWD….have you done a wash today or something?!” Yes, Emily I wash every day. Sometimes twice. Occasionally three times (see the pooing in the wardrobe incident.) Warren works full time and is also in a band, so he does what he can when he is home.

Home Events: As bloggers we get invited to events. All good. We love them. Our calendar is pretty much full. This includes me doing packed lunches, organising timings, blogging about it. I do this so that we can get out and about and spend quality time with the kids. Even if we don’t have blogging events to attend to, I try to fill out diaries with fun days out where we can – real switch-off time.

Home Admin: This week I need to cancel my gym membership, collect my contact lenses and call travel insurance. I also need to shop for food and plan the meals.

Work: I have two jobs, and so I flit from one to the next. I work around 21 hours a week, but I get the bus there and back to you can add on another few hours there. I love my jobs, both of them. They are stimulating and we’re very busy organising events at the moment so it is all go. I have had quite a few meetings this week, so I have lots to do and lots to think about.

So this is my week.

Oh no, I forgot. I am also doing my MA… that’s what this post is about, right….?

Uni: I have a 2 hour tutorial once a week. This is discussion-based. I love it. I love that I get to talk about what I love for two hours every week. I love that people have different opinions to me and see things differently (or the same.) I love going, I love the reading. It is heavy going and it takes concentration. This week I will read every night for at least three hours, and one hour on the bus. I also met with my adviser for half an hour to discuss my essay options. The essay is due in three weeks, so I have to plan some library time. I have already started thinking about it but I need to get a move on with my writing.

 And so...the “how do you cope?” questions are not getting answered because I don’t have time to answer them. My life is packed full, and I love it. I can’t prioritise anything because they are all so inter-linked. I work at the uni, study at the uni, my second job pays for my degree, I do my degree so one day I can maybe make a difference, maybe I will do a PhD and contribute to research, teaching and learning. I want to show my kids that they can achieve and to do this I need to make sure everything in the home is ticking along…

Despite me trying to separate my roles, I can’t. At an event the other day a woman asked “Are you the Wife, Mum, Student Bum?” and we laughed and I said I clearly should have thought I through before naming my blog that. But you know what, it’s true. This is who I am and it is so intrinsically linked all together that somehow it all makes sense. Even writing this now - the blog helps me to organise what is going on in my head, even if it does take time. It's essential for me.

I still get asked about coping. I get emails from students. As much as I can encourage you to reach for the stars and work hard for what you want to achieve: I can’t help you do it. I can’t tell you that you can do it. Only you can do that. You need to decide if it is right for you, and you have to pick your own path. I can only tell you about mine. You can look to me and think what I am doing is amazing or whatever. But it doesn’t come easy and it is not all fun and games. Education is tough, hard work and bloody expensive!

But it makes me happy. This is what I do, it's who I am. And all of these different component parts of my life make the whole.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Review: Manchester City Stadium Tour

We were very excited last week to be invited to the Manchester City Stadium Tour at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester - we love a day out and the kids were excited to see a football stadium. The younger two have not been to a football game yet so we were really looking forward to taking them on a non-match day for them to get an idea of it.

Many moons ago I used to take Emily to Manchester to watch Manchester City play. We really loved it.

Makes me laugh how she looks so much like Rosie here

She was about 5 here :)

Since we moved to Liverpool and Warren is an Everton fan we haven't really had the chance to go back to a match - we are always so busy and football has gone on the back-burner. However, we absolutely had a ball at the stadium tour.

We started off at the City Shop and were escorted to the Chairman's Suite. I loved the idea of watching the match after having a lovely meal, nice wine - and then out onto the terrace with heated seats - lovely!

We then went down to the media room where all of the post-match interviews take place. The tour guide Lynn was brilliant, very helpful, great with the kids and she gave us loads of information about what each room and space was used for. After this we went into the player's warm-up area which is a pre-match area for the players to warm-up. This was where the girls got to score a goal in the small nets - they loved this! Alice was adamant that her kick was the hardest!

We then moved on to the player's changing rooms. The kids loved it in here and we got some great photos, funny faces pulled included of course!

You can never get them all to smile at the same time!

...or not pull silly faces!

We then went down the tunnel as the player's would on match day and stood at the side of the pitch. The ground looks really huge when it is almost empty. Lynn explained about how the ground had been extended over the years and told us that the capacity aims to be 62,000 by 2017 - which is quite impressive.

Aged 12 now - doesn't time fly!
Then we did a little meet and greet with Moonchester and Moonbeam. The kids absolutely adored the two mascots - Rosie would not let them go. She asked Moonbeam if she wanted to come on holiday with us and they had a big cuddle and a dance.

Aaah - all smley!

All in all we had a really great time. I think the stadium tour is a great day out and would also make a great Christmas or birthday present for someone.

Over the Halloween half term period there is a spooky Halloween tour complete with creepy footballers! There are also prizes to be won and all guests receive a Halloween treat from the spooky cauldren!

Prices are £16 for adults, £10 for under 16s and under 4s are free. For the October Half Term there is a fab deal on for families - £40 for two adults and two children. Do check out their website for further information Manchester City Stadium Tours

Disclosure: We were invited to attend the tour free of charge by Manchester City. All words and views are our own.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Strictly Come Dancing Infographic

Many years ago I used to do Ballroom Dancing. I started when I was about 9 and won lots of awards. I remember I used to love it. Alice is now just starting ballet - she absolutely loves it. We have just bought her the full ballet kit complete with tutu and little ballet shoes, she looks adorable. I think dancing is a great way to learn co-ordination, have fun and keep fit - I am keen to encourage our girls to get dancing!

Emily loves to watch Strictly Come Dancing. The below infographic shows all of the previous winners.

These days you'll usually find me with a head in a book, but I have been known to dance around the kitchen with the kids!

This infographic was kindly supplied by Great British Bingo

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Giveaway: Family Ticket to Toytopia + Pebli Town From Toys Alive

Toys toys toys.


Our kids LOVE toys. They are messy, they make you trip up and it seems like they multiply overnight while you sleep - HOWEVER - the kids love them. And when they are happy, we are happy! Which is why we are very proud to be blogging for Toytopia - an event held over the October half term in Liverpool - basically a huge exhibition with toys and shows - toy heaven for kids! With Christmas (sorry to mention the C word so early) literally staring a us from beyond Halloween, this looks a great way to make a start on the shopping and picking up ideas.

Toytopia are also offering 25% off the ticket prices with the following code: TOYTOPIA511 .

Here is what Toytopia say:

"Toytopia is a truly unique toy show – a magical event for the whole family, with the chance to interact and play with toys and games old and new. From the hottest Toytopia toys topping the Christmas wish lists, to traditional family favourites.

For your chance to be the first to see the Top Toys for Christmas 2015 head to The Exhibition Centre Liverpool, 24-26th October (half-term holiday).

Kids of all ages will enjoy having a first-ever selfie with Arlo, the giant inflatable from Disney’s new movie ‘The Good Dinosaur’, along with other favourite characters from The Beano’s Dennis The Menace, Playmobil’s The Knight, Ben & Holly and Peppa Pig! They will delight in the Live Shows including the Sylvanian Families and have a chance to travel on a miniature train, or whizz, bounce and float around the test track on the latest balance bikes, AirBoards, mini tractors and hoppers.  Meet LEGO© certified professionals, Bright Bricks, and marvel at their amazing brick-built RMS Titanic. Create a masterpiece with Aquabeads, build their own K’NEX dart blaster, enter the imaginary world of Playmobil, be a naughty school kid in the Bash Street classroom, beat the folks at Top Trumps, ‘pig out’ with Pass the Pigs, take the seat drop challenge with Springfree Trampolines, amaze at the flying drones battling for supremacy, and drive a scaled BMW Z4 or Range Rover Evoque! Older children can learn to DJ and discover the world of animation from the creators of Shaun the Sheep and Wallace & Gromit.  A magical, memorable day for the whole family."

Needless to say, we are very much looking forward to this one! I am very pleased to be offering one lucky reader a family ticket to the event for Saturday 24th October. As a bonus prize, the winner will also receive this Pebli Town Toys Starter Pack worth £59.99.

To enter the giveaway just fill in the Rafflecopter form below.


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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Review: Aldi Alcohol

We are massive Aldi fans. It was a great day in the our household when they built an Aldi in Fazakerley - ten minute drive for us and saves us a fortune. There is nothing I don't like about Aldi - it is definitely "our" supermarket.

We were delighted to be asked to try some alcoholic treats from their range. We are fans of Aldi wine - some of the bottle are under £4 and are better than some of the higher end wines that you can buy for £8+ - (we are wine snobs so we do have a clue what we are talking about.) Warren is also partial to St. Etienne beer on occasion - again this is good value for money at just £.2.49 for four cans.

We were sent the following three bottles to review.

* Belletti Prosecco

* Toro Loco Rose

* Austin's Summer Punch

Prosecco is my favourite "celebratory" drink - I love a bit of fizz in my life. This one is lovely - fruity and light. We plan on getting a few bottles of this in for over the Christmas period!

The Toro Loco is one of my favourite inexpensive wines. I usually drink the red, so it was great to try the rose. I do like a rose or a white on occasion so this was really very nice to try. It was sweet but not too much. A lovely drink for a summer's day.

The Summer Punch was just lovely. We liked to drink this with ice, lemonade and with limes and lemons chucked in. You could make a real fruity punch out of this and have it as a long drink in the garden on a sunny day. Loved it. We will definitely be getting more of this in.

So, overall - what can I say? You know that I am a massive Aldi fan already - I don't have a bad word to say. The Aldi alcohol is just as good (if not better) than other more expensive brands. We won't be going back to those brands any time soon!

We were sent these products free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are our own.

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