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.

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