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. 

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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).

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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. 

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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.

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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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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. 

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* 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. 


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?


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. 

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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


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.