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12/31/2017

New Year....New Chances | Just Add Ginger


Photo: EM Imagery
There's no denying it - 2017 was a huge year for me. We finally moved house, welcomed Eric into the world, I nearly hit rock bottom with my anxiety, sought help, and set myself back on track. I lost friends, made new ones, and finally found my feet again in the blogging / YouTube world, establishing a new path for myself. We took lots of trips, celebrated our wedding anniversary (in October) and made Eric's first Christmas really special. Even just looking back on everything that has happened this year is exhausting. 

There have some big learning curves in 2017, and I have learnt more about myself over the past 365 days than I ever thought I could. And now, with a new year nearly upon us, it's time to close the book on this chapter and get ready for a brand new adventure, and a brand new set of goals

Set Up A Support Network 

You may know this if you are subscribed to my channel but if you aren't this could be new. For the past year - since Eric was born really - I have pretty much dedicated my videos to covering mummy content. When I was pregnant there were hardly any organisations that exclusively supported parents in my position, so I wanted to go about changing that. The next step in this journey is to set up a support group or network for mums, dads, grandparents, relatives or carers who are in the position I was nearly a year a go. I receive so many comments on my videos from parents-to-be reaching out to say how much my content has helped them that a group seems the natural next step. And I am really excited about it. 

Tone Up, Train Up & Conquer Snowdon 

Each year I try and do some kind of fundraising. This year I took part in the Memory Walk to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society, and next year I want to walk up Snowdon and hopefully raise some money for the Liverpool Women's Hospital (where Baby Ginger was born). It's not going to be easy, and I really need to train and tone up a bit first, but it'll be so worth it! Having this as a challenge ahead of me will be the challenge I need to stretch my legs, dust of the Christmas cobwebs and get out into the fresh air rather. Being outside does Eric the world of good too so the more we get walking, the better. 

Be Adventurous 

... In every sense of the word. I want to put myself out there as much as I can - whether that is in the content I put on my blog or YouTube channel, going to new places with Eric, doing my own outreach or heading out to events on my own. This year I have been too hard on myself and if I'm totally honest, rather fretful, but when it comes to 2018 I don't want anything to hold me back. And that includes being strong in the decisions I make. Being adventurous for me is also to start practising more self-care and really start to become more self-aware. If I do that, then I'll really be able to respect myself, my choices, and my ideas.

Do you have any goals for 2018?

Photo: EM Imagery


12/30/2017

Getting My Winter Glam On With Simply Be* | Just Add Ginger


just add ginger blog - simply be party wear

It's pretty hard to believe now, but in a previous life before I was up to my eyeballs in baby bottles and Teletubbies re-runs I suppose it is pretty accurate to say that I was a bit of a party animal. I loved nothing more than getting dressed up to the nines in my favourite outfit, putting on my boogie shoes and hitting the dance floor. 

With those days long behind me, it is now with excited anticipation I await the chance to get my glam on again. So when Simply Be reached out to me and asked if I wanted to work with them, including the chance to pick out a party piece of my choosing, I didn't hesitate. With festive gatherings, seasonal parties and a big family wedding on the horizon, my wardrobe was crying for an update!

I've made no attempt to hide the fact that now I am a mum I have no idea what I feel comfortable wearing anymore. With functionality taking priority over fashion on a daily basis, and a brand new set of sensational curves, I often end up feeling pretty lost. But with the beautiful range of dresses Simply Be has on offer, I actually found myself cracking an inward smile. There was so much choice! 

After a long (and I mean long) peruse of all the dresses, I finally decided on this little black dress from AX Paris Curve. With a wrap neckline, a waist belt, asymmetrical hem and glittery print, this blended my need for a mummy-friendly style with detailing that made me feel (and look) like a glamour puss. 

just add ginger blog - simply be party wear

Never really one for lots of colour, I stayed true to my style and used this dress as the focal point of my outfit. With the shimmer making such a statement, I paired it with a block-colour maxi coat from Boohoo in a muted mauve shade. I was wearing the dress to a winter wedding so wanted to opt for shades that were in keeping with the natural colours of the season and soft complementary fabrics that would subtly underplay the sparkles of the dress for the church ceremony. My trusty black ankle boots and old faithful faux snakeskin clutch completed the outfit seamlessly, and I loved how both effortless and elegant the finished look made me feel.

just add ginger blog - simply be party wear

Looking back at the photos from that day I can barely believe this is me. After struggling for so long to reclaim my style and embrace this new phase of fashion, I feel like I've found myself again. A little black dress with bucket loads of sass, it's going to be perfect for winter parties, seasonal soirees or catch-ups over cocktails with the girls. For a less formal look I'd let my hair flow loose and add a bowler hat and a vampy lip. And to go for all-out glam some winged eyeliner and a set of statement bangles would have to make an appearance. 

There are some seriously beautiful dresses on Simply Be at the moment. Versatile, varied and all of them stunning, there is something for everyone and every occasion. Got a special event coming up? I think you should head on over and check them out!


Dress*: Simply Be 

Maxi Coat: Boohoo 

Ankle Boots*: JD Williams (old)

Clutch: Next (old)



I was very kindly gifted this dress by Simply Be in return for writing this post. This does not affect my opinions. They are always 100% honest and influenced by my own personal experiences. 

Any other products marked with a * were also been gifted to me on previous occasions/collaborations.

12/24/2017

My Christmas Eve Pamper Routine | Just Add Ginger


just add ginger - christmas flatlay

Having time to totally switch off and unwind is such a rareity these days. I can't even tell you the last time I had a bath, or shaved my legs, or even touched half of my skincare regime. It's normally now all systems go for getting Eric ready for bed, sorting out all his things ready for the morning and then being left with maybe an hour in which you have to eat, catch up with each other and then settle down to watch one of the TV shows you have saved before you scuttle off to bed ready for the same routine to start all over again the next day. 

However Christmas Eve night is my one evening where I don't feel bad for reclaiming some me time and practising some self care. I usually take myself off and just indulge in an hour ir two of doing all the things I love

Skincare SOS

I have always been a lazy girl when it comes to skincare, but since being a mum things have gone from bad to worse. My face is in a terrible state, and to top it all I have gained a squatter on my chin! With a family wedding coming up my skin is in desperate need of some TLC, so I plan on putting on my current favourite cleanser from Elemis, then letting my skin soak up the goodness of a face mask for a precious few. Hopefully this will help the spot that has decided to take residence on my face disappear and help my skin get camera ready for all the photo ops the following few days will bring.

Cracking Out The Bath Time Treats

The festive season is by far my favourite for Lush products. I have always been a big fan of the range and make it my mission to stock up on plenty of Luxury Lush Puds because there is nothing I love more than soaking in a roasting hot bath that makes my skin feel soft and leaves me smelling sensational. Add a chilled glass of something fizzy, a mince pie and a quick catch up on all my fave festive YouTube videos and I'm all set.

Getting Comfy 

After a bath, there's nothing quite like slipping into your favourite pyjamas and snuggling up on the sofa. And the year I've treated myself to a brand new set as most of mine were actually either borrowed from Ryan's wardrobe or maternity ones. They're only from Primark but are so soft and cuddly and are perfect for lounging around in and watching Christmas television.

Christmas Film & Hot Choc

I naturally seem to have a schedule when it comes to watching Christmas films. I usually start off with Home Alone and the Santa Clause trilogy then build up to Elf (which I have to watch at least five times) and Scrooged. And whereas mulled wine is delicious, making it for just two people can be a bit of a faff, so instead I love curling up and keeping warm with a creamy hot chocolate. Turning off all the lights barr the Christmas tree ones makes the atmosphere feel extra magical. Undoubtedly I will nod off whilst before the end of the film we are watching before being woken up by Ryan and ushered off to bed to get ready for Santa to arrive.

12/22/2017

Creators You Should Be Following 2.0 | Just Add Ginger


just add ginger blog

I have written a few of these posts over the past few months. But as the year draws to a close I wanted to pull more focus on the local bloggers/vloggers I think deserve some recognition. December is a pretty full-on month in the blogging and YouTube world with the likes of Vlogmas and Blogmas, so in light of this, here are the creators I think are absolutely smashing it with their posts.

Danielle Levy | Student To Staff Nurse 

I've met Danielle at a couple of events now and she has quickly become an inspiration to me. She is currently doing both blogmas and vlogmas and putting some really lovely content out there whilst working in a high intensity job. Her videos are the ones I click on first out of my subscription list. They are sincere, engaging, totally relatable and really enjoyable to watch. She clearly puts so much thought in to what she produces and I am in awr of how she does it all. It's pretty much down to her that I have been putting out daily vlogs. Plus she is just a really lovely and supportive person. She deserves so much recognition for how much she does and I can't wait to see where she takes her content in 2018. 

Jessi | Jessi Lou Blog

It only takes two minutes of being on Jessi's blog to understand why I love it so much. From the stylish design to the imagery to the words themselves it is just a really lovely place to be. With Eric being on the go so much I don't really have time to keep up to date with my blogroll anymore, but Jessi's is one I check in on regularly to see if there are any new posts for me to read. She's a local blogger I've met at a few events and is so genuine and down-to-earth - exactly how she comes across on her blog. No pretence and no exaggeration and100% ingenuous.

Who are the bloggers, YouTubers or content creators you've been enjoying lately?


12/14/2017

Busting Baby Milestone Myths* | Just Add Ginger


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I think that as a new mum it's really difficult not to compare not only your progress along the path of parenthood, but also how your baby is doing compared to other children of their age. There's an unspoken pressure to make sure that your baby is keeping up. And with fellow mums, dads and relatives unabashedly sharing when their own little ones hit stages of development, it can be so easy to feel like your baby is falling behind.

When I heard about a campaign to celebrate the launch of the Baby Annabell Learns To Walk doll that aims to bust all those myths you hear about baby milestones I knew I had to share my experiences too. Because if I'm completely honest there are times when I am a bit concerned that Baby Ginger hasn't done certain things - even though I know it's a stage not age thing. When I see other babies of his age reaching milestones Eric hasn't, I do find myself thinking to myself 'Oh, I wish you could do that too'.

Sleeping

This was a big one for me, and one milestone that I definitely compared to others. I thought that by about 4 months or so, babies start to sleep through the night with a little bit of regression expected at 10 months. And when - at about 5 months - Eric started dropping the amount of time he was waking up in the early hours I was so happy. However my nights of a decent amount of kip were not to last. Now, at 8.5 months he has started waking up in the night again, usually at around 3.30am, which means that we frequently make an early morning rendezvous with The Teletubbies and the Tommee Tippee Prep Machine.

Getting Teeth 

When I was born, there was a baby in the next bed who was born with two teeth. So when it comes to Baby Ginger getting his pegs I was pretty much convinced teeth would arrive sooner rather than later - I had heard that by 6 months babies should have at least one tooth. But 6 months came and 6 months went, and even though the signs were there (constant dribbling, rosy cheeks, a sore bottom etc....) there were no gnashers in sight. And there still aren't, nor is there any sign of them cutting any time soon. Which when you're going through the weaning process is incredibly frustrating. Combine that with the fact that I know quite a few fellow babies his age do have one, two or even four teeth now, I can't help but feel a little pang of jealously and just a little bit sad too.

Eating

The guidelines for weaning are that you shouldn't start until at least 6 months. Well - when your 5 month old decides on one Sunday morning to lunge at your plate of scrambled eggs, would you really think they can hold out? Ryan and I knew Eric was ready to start on solids early so we just went for it. And now we're 3 months in he absolutely loves mealtimes and has hardly rejected anything he's tried (except avocado - I can't get over that one). Sometimes you just have to go with your gut instinct and make these decisions. After all, nobody knows your baby better than you.

Sitting Up

Even though going to baby classes are a lot of fun, it's impossible to avoid making comparisons to other children because it's pretty clear which milestones they have mastered. And when it came to sitting up, I couldn't help feel jealous when I looked at all the babies who could do it on their own. For me, it was a milestone I desperately needed Eric to reach because it would mean we could do so much more. I would Google this one over and over and nearly everywhere I looked, the words '5 months' kept popping up. However, Baby Ginger kept me waiting, and a week before he hit 7 months he finally got it, feeling very happy with himself, and making me one proud mama.

Crawling & Walking 

These were the two milestones I was secretly so excited for Eric to hit. Crawling was one that I was keeping my fingers crossed for and I was already aware that the age babies do this could vary drastically. But I had both heard and read that by 12 or 13 months that babies should be walking so constantly had that in my head as the end point. However, forever keeping us on our toes, Eric started commando crawling at about 6 months, shuffling around the floor on his belly at what seemed like the speed of light. Fast forward to the present and he is pulling himself up on his own and cruising around the furniture constantly so it's pretty obvious walking isn't far off. 


It can be really difficult not to get caught up in the fact that our babies are or are not hitting milestones at the age we are told they should be. But all little ones are different and achieve things at their own pace and when they are ready to do so. So forget the phrase "should be", shut out the boastings of others and focus on what your baby has done, enjoy each moment and take it all in your stride. This stage in theor lives goes so fast that you don't want to wish the time away and find you've missed out on something special.

*I was very kindly gifted a Baby Annabell Learns To Walk doll for writing this post. This does not affect my opinions. They are always 100% honest and guided by my own personal experiences.

11/28/2017

A Very Merry Christmas Event | Just Add Ginger


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Last year I was feeling pretty indifferent about Christmas. I felt like I was too old. Ordinarily I would be blasting out the festive tunes and trimming my tree straight after Bonfire Night. But last year, I just couldn't get into the spirit of Christmas. I felt the magic had gone forever. 

Fast forward to 2017 and thing could not be more opposite. Festive cheer is radiating out of my every pore and I can't wait to start the official Christmas countdown to the big day.... mince pies, mistletoe, mulled wine, and of course Christmas dinner. Anything that gets my heart fluttering with excitement is a must, which is how I found myself at the #VeryParty - Very's Christmas Showcase event - a few weekend back.

Let's play a word association game - if I say "Christmas party clothes" what do you think of? Does it involve glitz? Does it involve swish? Does it involve sequins? This season Very have gone all out on their party wear pieces and managed to capture everything we love about festive and occasion attire in a fun yet classy way. As soon as you entered the event space you were surrounded by glittering dresses, sparkling stilettos and accessories that twinkled away before your eyes. It really was incredible to see. 

just add ginger blog

just add ginger blog

just add ginger blog

The wow-factor with all of their lines comes from the detailing on their party dresses, separates and outerwear. From beautiful embellishments to pretty embroidering and refined hardware, there is definitely cohesion and the option to interchange items to create your own Christmas capsule wardrobe (and I'm all about that). 

I was also very taken with the kids wear. Everything seemed to be carefully curated and tied in with the other party wear lines. Now that Eric is getting older and a bit more robust, I'm starting to invest more in the items in his wardrobe, and I was really happy to see that Very offered clothing at a range of different price points and therefore suitable for a range of budgets. (My personal favourite piece had to be the Hugo Velvet Waistcoat & Shirt Set from Monsoon - it was beautiful).

just add ginger blog

When it came to thinking about party season, Very seemed to have it all covered at this event. Not only were there beautiful clothes to look at, but there was also an Illamasqua stall where the expert MUAs were ready to give advice and offer masterclasses, a table covered with fabulous jewellery from  Lola Rose London and a Skin Doctors stand. It was great to have a wander round everything, discovering new products and chatting away to brand ambassadors about their products. Having been on blogging "maternity leave" it was something I really relished. 

just add ginger blog

Lola Rose London's jewellery selection was just beautiful. Having a baby at a grabbing stage means that I'm not really able to wear jewellery day to day, but their collections looked ideal to have as staples in your arsenal because they are so versatile you could mix and match and pair them with anything. And being someone who is drawn to clothes in neutral tones, this is something I was really happy about.

just add ginger blog

I was very much taken with the Skin Doctors products (two were very kindly gifted to me). Since becoming a mum I have neglected my skin a little bit and both the instant facelift and potent vit C ampules have really helped me get back on track - since receiving them I have used both everyday and the difference in the softness and plumpness of my skin is just ridiculous.

Visiting Very and taking a peek at their Christmas lines really helped kick start my preparations for the festive season and gave me some great gift ideas. Offering everything from bedding and beauty to clothes for children and of course party wear, it is definitely a website I'll be turning to for present inspiration not just during the holiday period but for birthdays too.

What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?

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11/27/2017

Keeping Baby Busy & Beating The Winter Blues* | Just Add Ginger


La Coqueta baby bonnet - Just Add Ginger

It is a commonly known fact that this time of year, although inspiring for some, is also when everybody generally feels less happy. With short days and long nights, if you're not careful seconds, minutes and hours pass by before you realise you are yet to see daylight. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is rife at the moment, and I think that if you are on maternity leave or a stay-at-home parent, you are amongst those who are most vulnerable.

It can be so easy as a mummy (especially when you've had a tough night) to look out the window, see the drizzle falling and think Ah - bad weather again? Guess it's time for another sofa and snuggle day in front of Fireman Sam. And while this can be lovely once in a while, I think it's really important to not slip into the same routine because it makes things simple. If you can, rally yourself, bundle up and get ready to step outside. This season is the most special for children, and there are so many things you can do to make it even more magical.

just add ginger - la coquette kidswear

Being Ready No Matter What The Weather

When it comes to packing baby's bag at this time of year it's always best to be prepared for any kind of changes in the weather. The UK is inescapably unpredictable when it comes to gauging whether we're expecting rain or shine, sleet or snow, so it's always best to expect the unexpected and head out the door with extras in tow. 

For knitwear and adorable extras that ideal for sensitive skin, are super snuggly and add a little bit of luxury to your baby's winter wardrobe, La Coqueta Kids Accessories * covers all bases. From bonnets to belts, booties and blankets their pieces would be ideal to dress your little one in or pack in your baby bag to pull out should the temperature drop. For me personally hats can be a bit of an issue (not the most one handed friendly - especially when contending with a wriggly baby who won't sit still), but every time I have needed to pop out with Eric lately, it is his merino baby bonnet that has been my go-to. It's incredibly soft, easy to slip on, and stays in place whether I'm sliding him in his car seat or putting him in the pushchair. Plus it folds down really nicely and fits into his bag without taking up loads of room.

just add ginger blog - la coqueta kids accessories

Places To Go

Whenever I'm hoping to do something with Baby Ginger I always carry a mantra with me - Let's have an idea, not a plan. Because 99.9% of the time we will end up leaving later than expected due to a last minute nappy change, hunger-induced meltdown, or much needed nap. However, even with the hold ups, I try and get out with Eric everyday, switching up the places we go to so that heading out is always exciting for him and he never gets bored by seeing the same things over and over again. 

Although it's about your baby, to beat feeling blue or to stop feeling like you are stuck wearing your "mum hat" it's important to think of ideas for places to go that entertain your little one but that you get something out of as well. 

So for when you're feeling stuck for inspiration, here are some ideas of places I think are great for rainy day visits.

Garden Centres 

I love a good garden centre at the best of times, but visiting in the lead up to Christmas is extra exciting. With so many trees, decorations and twinkling fairy lights to look at, your baby will be in sensory heaven. And with some centres having a resident Santa Claus, you can book in for your little one to see the main man himself, giving you something special to look forward to and the chance to make some really wonderful memories. 

Your Local Library 

Not just a place to while away the hours reading and looking at picture books, sometimes libraries hold storytelling sessions for babies and toddlers too. These would be ideal sessions to attend on a rainy day because not only do you keep warm and cosy, but it still gives your little one the opportunity to interact with other children and stay entertained. I don't know how other parents else feel, but I'm sure Eric gets sick of it being just me and him in the day sometimes. He needs the variety, to see new faces, and to listen to someone new tell stories and sing nursery rhymes.

Children's Centres 

I know that some children centres are no longer open, but if there is one in your local area and you are yet to check it out, I'd definitely recommend getting in touch to see what classes or stay and play sessions they offer during the week. I get so much out of going to the centre nearby and attending sessions run by the staff. It gives Eric a bit of a routine too, and for me, somewhere where everybody knows me, knows Eric, and are always ready and keen to lend a hand to help.

Soft Play Areas 

I've had to wait a little while before I could investigate these, but now that Eric can sit up on his own I  can see us being regular visitors to soft play areas. Again, if it's miserable outside, going somewhere like this would be ideal as everyone stays warm, dry, and entertained. Even though there is usually a fee for using soft play centres, I think for the play opportunities (and sometimes the option for a five minute sit down and a coffee for the grownups) it's worth it!

Cute & Cosy Coffee Shops

There's nothing quite like finding a quiet nook in a coffee shop and nestling down with a hot chocolate. Instead of going for your chain coffee shops, why not investigate independent cafes and businesses in your local area and pay them a visit. You never know - there may be some baby friendly ones out there that offer music or arts and craft sessions too. 

la coqueta - just add ginger blog

* I was very kindly sent a Zambra Merino Baby Bonnet from the La Coqueta Kids Accessories line to review. All opinions are my own and influenced by my own personal experiences using the product. 


11/19/2017

Advice For New Mums | Just Add Ginger


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I went into parenthood knowing very little about babies. Nevermind changing a nappy, my experience just holding a newborn was very limited. When it came to becoming a mother, I didn't know what to expect. And when you leave the hospital, there's no manual they give you. You walk out, baby on arm, and are just expected to get on with it. And if your experiences with little ones is minimal, this can be incredibly frightening. 

Now I'm no expert, and I would never tell you how to be a parent, but in the seven (nearly eight) months that Baby Ginger has been on the planet, there are some pieces of wisdom I've learnt and want to pass on. 

Take Your Time

Giving birth is tough work. It puts a big strain on your body and it takes a while afterwards for everything to settle and get back to normal. During this time it's important to rest and really listen to your body and what it needs. If you need to sleep, then sleep. If you need everyone to leave you alone, then ask friends and family to hold off on visits. It's important not to rush yourself into doing things you are just not ready to do. 

Trust Your Instincts

I didn't believe this when I first heard it, but it is true. You really do get to know your own baby. You get to learn their little quirks, their likes and dislikes, and how to gauge what they need. It may not click at once, but give it a few months and with every coo, cry or gurgle you will instantly be able to decode what you need to do to keep your baby happy. And honing in on these cues is really important, because it means that you will know when something is off. Even if to everybody else your little one seems normal, if you sense something isn't quite the way it should be, then really pay attention and listen to your baby. 

"Mummy" In Your Own Way 

There will be so many people in your life who are ready to give you advice about how you should look after your baby, but ultimately it is up to you what you do and how you do it. And this goes hand in hand with trusting your instincts in the point I made above. In that time you've had that time to get to know your baby, you will know him/her better than anybody else. So take any advice you get with a pinch of salt. Take heed if you like, but if you don't really agree, take it on board, say thank you, then feel free to ignore it. When you're spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your baby, you'll understand what works for you and what doesn't

Eric, for example, needs his sleep. If he's had a bad night or misses a nap time he is an absolute nightmare and really hard to keep happy. So if he needs to sleep, I'll let him sleep, even if this means missing out on a class or not going out. Some may think this is not the way to go about things, but I know Eric enough to know how to manage him. Because if I just keep him awake, then I'll be paying for it later. And personally, I value my sleep (and my sanity) way too much.

Stay Social

Being on maternity leave can be incredibly isolating. You're at home looking after your baby day in day out with nobody to really talk to. It can be really hard. Which is why I think it is so important to get out there and get social (when you're ready to of course.) 

I'm a big fan of baby groups and classes. It gives Baby Ginger a change of scenery that is safe, exciting and stimulating, whilst giving me some precious "grown up time" where I can interact with parents/carers and have proper conversations. Having that time is something I truly value, and Eric is learning so much from watching and socialising with other babies. He's really happy around new people and isn't clingy, and I really think this is because he has been exposed to new spaces and faces from quite a young age. 

I also use a few apps to connect with other mums in my local area. Mush, Peanut & Mummy Social are great platforms to find activity and class recommendations, find mummy friends (even if they are just online) and plan potential play dates. Having moved to a new area of Liverpool during maternity leave, I'm still trying to work out where there are classes I can take Baby Ginger and where the best soft play areas are, so talking to other mums who know and use the area is really handy (it also helps me not feel lonely too.)

Aside from connecting with new friends, it's also really important to stay in touch with your non-new -mummy friends. Because when it comes down to it, being a new parent is only just one part of who you are. I thought when we brought Eric home I would feel something overtake me that meant I was suddenly this grown up person so far removed from the person I used to be that I would feel entirely different. But in reality I feel exactly the same....only now I have a child to look after so am a little bit  more responsible than before. 

Are you a new parent too? What pearls of wisdom would you pass on?


11/15/2017

Pizza Parties & Krombacher Pils* | Just Add Ginger


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When it comes to the end of the week and when Eric is snuggled in bed, there is nothing I love more than to curl up on the sofa and crack open a bottle of beer. It's something I really look forward to. And now more than ever, I am always really careful about the beer choices I make - it has to be something I'm really going to savour!

I first discovered Krombacher Pils in the summer and it has been up there with one of the best I have tried. It's a perfectly-balanced beer with a unpretentious taste that is crisp and refreshing. It's a beer that is ideal for both those who have an appreciation for real ale and for those who enjoy less hoppy options. With a flavour that is ideal for both sunny days and chilly evenings, no matter what the weather is like, it's a beer you can always turn to with a guarantee it won't let you down.

And now - just in time for the festive season - Krombacher is now available in 66cl bottles across 400 Morrison stores nationwide. With the release of this new size, Ryan and I headed down to our local branch of Morrisons to investigate, and plan the perfect meal to accompany the flavours of this delicious German beer. 

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In order to not stifle Krombacher's crisp and fresh finish, we did not want to opt for a dish that carried too rich or intense a flavour. With a well-rounded flavour that cleanses the palate, foods that I was instantly drawn to were seafood, fish or pasta as well as American classics such as burgers or hot dogs. However, because we wanted to make this as fun and fuss-free as possible, we both decided that we would flex our dough-tossing muscles and have a try at making our own pizzas.

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Deciding to go for a classic, I piled my pizza high with mountains of torn mozzarella, tomato puree, drizzles of pesto and basil leaves. The mellow ingredients and well-balanced flavours of the Krombacher were a match made in heaven. 

just add ginger blog

Ryan on the other hand, decided to go for an all-out American BBQ inspired pizza, with Morrison's best smoked streaky bacon layered on top of diced woodland mushrooms, pine nuts, chilli cheddar, mozzarella and pesto with a light dusting of hot smoked paprika. A rich tomato-barbecue sauce made the perfect base, marrying all the ingredients and going hand-in-hand with the refreshing qualities of the beer. 

A beer that transcends the seasons to give a full-bodied yet perfectly balanced taste and is ideal to enjoy all year round, Krombacher Pils doesn't pretend to be something it's not. It delivers on flavour whilst still being accessible to all, whether you are a German beer fanatic, or someone who simply enjoys a refreshing tipple at the end of a hard day. And now available at Morrisons in the new 66cl size, it would be a great addition to your dinner table this festive season, whether it's to accompany the roast potatoes or share amongst friends as you cosy up by the fireside. 

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* This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Hungry Communications

11/01/2017

Dinner at Gino's | Just Add Ginger


gino d'acampo my restaurant
Image: c/o Individual Restaurants

I always pictured Ryan and I seeing in our anniversary in style, with champagne, a fancy dinner and lots of romance. But as midnight struck on 2nd April 2017 the most we could do to celebrate was to turn to each other and blurt out "Happy Anniversary" as I breathed through horrendous contractions. We had to wait a good few months to do something, once we had all settled into life as new parents and Eric was of an age where we felt confident he'd be alright being left for rather a long period of time. And Aussie Floyd coming to town gave us the best excuse.

Deciding to make the evening really special, I made the suggestion that we headed to Gino's together.  Ever since attending the press evening I was itching to return and sample more from the menu and investigate the prosecco bar properly. 

Because Floyd were starting at 8pm we decided to book a table for the late afternoon to make sure we  had loads of time to spare to get down to the Echo Arena, and maybe have a pit stop for a cheeky glass of something on the way (nights off are rare nowadays and we wanted to make the most of it). 

We got to the restaurant with a few minutes to spare and were greeted by the staff front of house and asked if we would care to indulge in a complementary glass of fizz. Flutes in hand we made our way over to the bar, nestled down into some comfy chairs and waited to be taken to our table. 

Irregardless of how busy the dining space was, the bar was full of couples and groups of friends all sitting on bar stools, sipping drinks and enjoying themselves. And this was on a Sunday! Everybody seemed to be having a great time and we soaked in the atmosphere and just felt really happy. Phones firmly kept in pockets (aside from the occasional InstaStory update) this was the most Ryan and I had sat and actually talked to each other uninterrupted in ages

In no time, we were approached by a server and escorted over to our table, which was right at the edge of the dining space - private, and perfectly placed for people watching. 

just add ginger blog

just add ginger blog

Making the most of the precious few "grown up" hours we had we took our time in deciding what to eat, and although our waiter stopped by a few times to check on us, we didn't feel rushed. After a good few minutes catching up with each other and a couple more sips of our prosecco, we opened our menus and looked through the choice of dishes. Remembering the arancine starter from the press night I decided to go for these and Ryan opted for the king prawn bruschetta

The perfect balance of bite in the crust and creamy filling, the arancine really hit the spot without being too filling, with the accompanying making a great companion to the dish - complementing it perfectly. And Ryan's starter went down just as well (I of course had to have a cheeky bite), with succulent prawns and a great choice of dipping sauce on the side. 

just add ginger blog

just add ginger blog

It was such a struggle trying to decide what to have for my main. There was just so much choice! From cod to calzone and penne to pork belly, everything sounded delicious. Finally I settled for the veal meatballs, with Ryan choosing the sirloin steak. Again, it was great to see how good the portion sizes were. My plate was piled high with meatballs all covered in a thick and wholesome tomato sauce. It looked and smelt beautiful and really got my taste buds buzzing from the get-go. And they tasted just as amazing - that sauce was definitely one of the most delicious I have ever tried. Ryan's steak was cooked fantastically too (yes yes, I snuck in a bite) - with the knife sliding through it like butter to reveal a perfectly pink middle. 

Even though we were both comfortably full after our starter and main course there was no way we could leave without sampling something from the dessert menu. With a collection of indulgent puds from which to choose, I was instantly taken with the sound of the chocolate fondant. Ryan, also opting for something chocolately, went for the chestnut cake.

gino d'acampo my restaurant liverpool - just add ginger blog

just add ginger blog

Covered in a thick layer of glistening sauce, the chocolate fondant was my idea of a dream dessert. It was rich without being sickly and incredibly flavourful. Although a good size, I think that had you decided to go for other dishes for your starter and main course, this might be a dessert you could not finish. 

Although Ryan polished off all of his chocolate chestnut cake he did express that he would have perfered mine. I don't think this was a reflection on the taste of the cake (although to me the idea of chestnuts in a dessert seemed a little bizarre) - we just both have a really good understanding of dishes that we really enjoy. 

What I liked a lot about Gino's My Restaurant is how it manages to balance a really sleek and classy interior with dishes that are unpretentious and comforting. Everything on the menu is taken from one of Gino's own cookbooks so can be reproduced in the comfort of your own home too. All the dishes are all quite affordable too, meaning that you can tailor your own experience depending on what you are willing to spend. The bar also makes a mean cocktail. Ryan ordered a negroni whilst we were waiting for our table and he commented it was one of the best he had ever had. 

I still stand by what I said in my press night post - I think Gino D'Acampo has found a good niche with My Restaurant, and judging by how busy the place was when we went it is clear others think so too. I'm really glad we went back to experience it properly. The food was beautiful, the atmosphere electric, and the whole dining experience really enjoyable. I love the fact that you could either pop in for a cheeky prosecco or sit down to a delcious meal. It's definitely a feature that will coax me back the next time I am in town.

Have you visited Gino D'Acampo's My Restaurant yet? 

*We were kindly gifted a bottle of prosecco by Gino D'Acampo My Restaurant during our visit to the restaurant. Although very kind this does not affect my opinions. They are always 100% honest and guided by my own personal experiences.

10/29/2017

The One Handed Parenting Challenge | Just Add Ginger


Just Add Ginger blog

Becoming a parent has hands down got to be one of the most empowering things that could have ever happened to me. It has not only shown me how strong I am but also taught me so much about myself

In the months leading up to Baby Ginger's arrival I was full of trepidation when it came to thinking about just how I was going to parent. Even the most simplest of tasks seemed daunting, and with there being so few resources, my confidence was instantly low. However, never having been the type to shy away from a challenge I tackled everything head on. Sure it was intimidating at times, but now, nearly seven months in, there isn't anything that scares me anymore. 

The idea of a one handed parenting challenge came when I realised that you can't really make the outside world understand what something is like to live with until you make them step into your shoes. So this is what I want to try and do. To try and get people to understand what not just parenting one handed is like, but to appreciate just exactly what time, patience and sheer skill goes into it

Ryan was the first "volunteer" but I'm hoping that if friends and family see this video they will be keen to sign up too. It's a fun little video but one that carries an important message with it. One that helps get people talking, sharing and ultimately understanding that just because somebody does things a little differently it doesn't mean they are not done just as well. 

Disability should not be a taboo subject nor is it something that should be looked down upon. There needs to be equality, and when it comes to this, support is seriously lacking. And if this challenge or indeed any of my videos help highlight that and one day puts wheels in motion for change, then that is all I could ever hope for.



10/15/2017

The Watch List - Sept/Oct | Just Add Ginger


Just Add Ginger blog

The Hills | DVD 

There are some TV series that every now and again I get the urge to watch. It's like a craving. And The Hills is one of those shows. Even after all these years I still get completely swept up in watching the everyday dramas of these twenty-something year olds. It's the perfect background entertainment for times where I do need to have something I can dip in and out of in between being a mum, and for some bizarre reason, whenever I watch it I want to get up and do housework, which is an utterly strange, but positive bonus.

The Great British Bake Off | All4

Even though I missed Mary Berry's final series last year, I have always been quite a Bake Off fan. So knowing it had changed hands, and had been given a bit of a Channel 4 makeover with new hosts and potentially a new structure, I went into watching it this time round with my sceptical hat on. 

At first I really wasn't sure. The dynamic between Noel and Sandi just wasn't the same as the banter that Mel and Sue had and it was something I quite missed. Now however, catching up with GBBO has become one of our weekly rituals and I'm finding myself rather warmed to the new lineup. 

As for favourite contestants, I'd really like to see Liam win this year. He's been a bit of an underdog throughout the competition but week-by-week he's started to come into his own. 

The Apprentice | BBC One

Just like Bake Off, The Apprentice is something I watch religiously every week. It's reappearance on  TV is the signal to me that Christmas is coming, and it just instantly makes me have that warm fuzzy feeling inside. 

The first few weeks always make me cringe and I spend most of the time wincing and hiding behind a cushion, but once all the contestants find their feet out comes this passionate, opinionated woman from within me who shouts at the screen, utterly convinced she could do things better (even though I would be utterly pants if I were on the show).

I try not to have a favourite contestant because every year without fail it is those who leave the show. It's like a curse. There hasn't been one year where any of my top picks have made it to the final rounds. So this year I'm keeping my thoughts to myself and hopefully I'll have finally backed a winner.

Don't Tell The Bride | All4

I have been a fan of this show for so long. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, and it makes me swear like a trooper at the TV screen. As fantastic as it is frustrating, now that all the past series plus current episodes are on All4 I quite regularly find myself binge-watching show after show when Eric is asleep or it is a sleepy Saturday morning. 

When we were engaged there was a part of me that thought it would've been quite fun to apply to Don't Tell The Bride, but Ryan and I were on the same page so much I think we would've made pretty boring contestants. For couples who claim to know each other so well it's sometimes difficult to believe that some of the weddings you see take place. Unless the whole point has been to put ideas forward that are intended to provoke their other halves purely for the entertainment factor, in which case it's a bit of a farce. 

But perhaps that's just me being cynical...


10/09/2017

Eric At Six Months | Just Add Ginger


baby update - just add ginger blog

Sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself that I have only been a mother for six months. Since Eric arrived time has just flown by in an excited whirlwind and it only seems like yesterday I was bouncing on my birthing ball willing myself into labour.

Although my little Baby Ginger features a lot on my channel, I very rarely talk a lot about him. Naturally my Insta Stories are full of videos, photos and anecdotes that track his day-to-day antics, but as soon as he hit the six month mark I realised it was about time for a proper update. 

On The Daily

Usually Eric is a good little sleeper. He will go down in between 9 and 10pm and wake up in between 7 and 8am. I change his nappy upstairs, say hello to the baby in the mirror (he loves that game) then bring him downstairs to get him dressed and give him breakfast. 

He's not quite yet in a structured routine but will go down for 2-3 naps during the day - once in the morning and two in the afternoon. And he is a baby who needs his sleep. He is on the go all the time and if you're not careful it can all get a bit too much and he is an absolute nightmare, not wanting to play, not wanting to sleep, and generally getting himself into a pickle. 

We do not bath Eric everyday because his skin is really sensetive and susceptible to becoming really dry. So for us, a bedtime routine consists of "pyjama time" at about 7pm, followed by soft lighting, snuggles and a calm atmosphere. He won't go to sleep until about 9-10pm and then he will sleep through (most of the time). 

Weaning 

Weaning is going really well for us so far. Starting off on purees, we are now starting to introdue more variety, slipping in some finger foods and different textures. I try to stick to a definite breakfast-lunch-dinner routine so that Eric learns when to expect more food and to get him used to three meals a day. 

Activities

I try to do something or take Eric somewhere everyday, always working around his nap times as much as possible. On a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday we go to a class, and then on Fridays we take a walk down to the canal to feed the ducks. Mondays are a bit crazy as it's usually my time to get the house back to normal after the weekend, catch up on chores, and write. Thursdays are a bit of an odd one because in the afternoon I have my CBT session so we tend to just take it easy so things don't get too rushed. 

For toys, Baby Ginger loves lights, sounds and books. He will happily enterain himself for a while, and is currently obsessed with rolling around all over the place. His concentration span is increasing and at classes he is starting to get more confident and notice other babies around him.

Bonding 

Right from the start we just passed Baby Ginger round to everyone. And now he is perfectly content around family, friends and strangers too. We haven't experienced any clingyness yet (thank goodness) but of course this may change. When it comes to Ryan and I, Eric definitely prefers to cuddle and sit with daddy, or be in the kitchen with him while he cooks, and with me he would rather play. He will look and seek reassurance from me but will only seek out cuddles when he is really tired or upset. I don't mind though - I'm sure the hugs will come in time. 

If you want to find out more about Eric - or Baby Ginger - I share a lot more details in his 6 month update video.