Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Santa came early with George Asda

When Christmas time starts to peep it's head around the corner, I start to get excited about presents. Not receiving them, although that's a bonus, but giving them. I love to think about what people would like and then start shopping. One gift giving activity I love to participate in is Secret Santa. This year I had the opportunity to take part in a blogger Secret Santa hosted by George Asda. 

Talented Talkers sorted all the names and we were given our recipient to select presents for. We were then off on our merry ways to stalk their social media and see what they would like from the George Asda gift section.

George Secret Santa Presents Gift

George Secret Santa Blanket Pillow

George Secret Santa Copper Flower Vase

George Secret Santa Jumper Apron Towels

When my presents arrived I was very excited. The box was massive! Although dubious about opening gifts when it wasn't even in December, I quickly ripped open the wrapping and discovered what was inside. My Secret Santa did very well.

First up was a blanket and pillow both featuring a D for Danni. Both are super cute! I love having blankets around the house so this will fit in perfectly. The pillow was a lovely touch and I really like that it was personalised, I'll have to get an M for Matt so he doesn't feel left out!

Next was this amazing copper vase. It is something that I'd probably see when I am out and like, but not necessarily pick up, so I'm so glad Santa picked it for me. I asked Matt buy some flowers especially to take these snaps!

Then there was my jumper. I wasn't expecting clothes in my package as I didn't pick my recipeient any, but of course George have a fab selection of clothes. I tried this on and it fits great and I really love how it looks. Perfect for the Winter. Last up was my cupcake apron and tea towels which will be a lovely addition to my kitchen!

I loved being part of this Secret Santa and I can't wait to see if the person I picked for likes their presents.

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Monday, 23 November 2015

Trying our luck with Grosvenor Casinos

A little while ago I was kindly invited along to Grosvenor Casinos in Sunderland to try their new menu. I invited my Mum along and we trundled along up North to find the venue.

We had a little trouble with the one-way system in Sunderland but eventually we found parking and went in search of the casino. When we arrived we had to join the casino as members. The girl on the front desk was lovely and talked us through the process. We had our photos taken and our membership cards were supplied to us, along with a ticket for a free drink!

As neither of us had been to casino before we decided to take up the offer of a tour by the casino manager. He showed us around the space talking us through the different machines and game tables. There was so much going on with numerous multi-game slot machines, electronic roulette tables, different card tables and to top it off there were regional and national competitions running based on people's winnings.

When we'd had a thorough tour we were guided to the restaurant and took our table. I'm not sure if any of you will have been to a casino before, but the Grosvenor Casino wasn't what I imagined. I'm not saying this in a bad way, I only have TV and film casinos to base my imagination on and this wasn't really on that scale. It was a small area and relatively quiet for a Friday night but all the games seemed to be top quality. In the restaurant there was only ourselves dining until a couple entered the restaurant later.

Grosvenor Casino Food Restaurant Review

Grosvenor Casino Food Review Tempura Chipotle Prawns

Grosvenor Casino Food Restaurant Review Cheesy Garlic Mushrooms

As it was a Friday night we decided to get the drinks in and both had a cocktail. They were lovely drinks and kept us busy until our starters came. Mum ordered Tempura Chipotle Prawns, whilst I ordered Cheesy Garlic Mushrooms. We both quickly finished our starters, which were very nice, so we could get down to the main course.

I ordered a 8oz Sirloin steak and Mum ordered a 8oz Fillet which both came with skin-on fries, coleslaw, onion rings, tomato and mushroom. Both steaks were brilliant quality and cooked just right. The only little gripe we did have about the steaks was that the chargrilled parts were a little too chargilled.

Grosvenor Casino Food Restaurant Review Sirloin Steak

Grosvenor Casino Food Restaurant Review Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart


Then it was on to desserts, after we had a good 15 minute break of course, and there was only one thing on the menu that would satisfy our appetites. Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart. This dessert was so sickly but so good. The chocolate and the caramel worked so well together and you could definitely taste the sprinkling of salt which helped to combat the sugar!

Overall we had a lovely evening at Grosvenor Casino in Sunderland. The meal was fabulous and although we didn't stay to gamble, we did have a little go on the electronic roulette, but  unfortunately we didn't win. Oh well. Now I realise that there is a Grosvenor Casino closer to home in Stockton, we'll definitely be back, especially as we have a free drink to claim!

*Food provided complimentary by Grosvenor Casino. Review and opinion all my own and completely honest.
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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Eating out at Cena

I'm always up for eating out. One place I don't get to visit for food much is Yarm. There are some great eateries on the high street including Muse, Mockingbird Deli and Grill 99. I really wanted to visit Cena again having been once for a Christmas lunch with work. We went on a Saturday afternoon for some lunch and it didn't disappoint.

Cena Yarm Restaurant Review

Cena Yarm Restaurant Review Toffee Apple Martini

Cena Yarm Restaurant Review Four Cheese Pizza

Cena Yarm Restaurant Review Roast Rump of Lamb

Cena Yarm Restaurant Review

Cena Yarm Restaurant Review Front of Shop

The interior at Cena has rustic Italian vibes and is classy but chilled out. We got a table straight away and started looking over our options. As it was the day before Halloween there was a special cocktail on offer, a toffee apple Martini. As I wasn't driving I decided to get one and it was lovely. Super sweet, it tasted just like a toffee apple! I picked a four cheese pizza for my main and Matt picked the roast rump of lamb.

They both came within a reasonable time and looked amazing. My pizza was huge! Cooked in their pizza oven, the crust was thin and crispy. It was smothered in cheese and tasted so fresh. Matt really enjoyed his lamb saying it was the best lamb dish he'd ever had. Now that's a big statement to make!

We didn't have any dessert as we were both stuffed from our mains. Maybe I was more full than Matt having eaten all that pizza, although to be fair I did leave three pieces! Overall we really enjoyed our visit and would be more than happy to visit again.

Have you visited Cena before? What other places in Yarm do you like to eat?
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Monday, 9 November 2015

Autumnal walks along the river

On a lovely Autumnal afternoon, which happened to be Mum's chihuahua Penelope's first birthday, we went for a walk out along the River Tees. Starting out at the Tees Barrage, we followed the route all the way to the Newport Bridge, which has just been painted red and silver from a ghastly green colour. It took a while to paint but now it's done it looks very smart and a perfect tribute to the area and our football team. I decided to take my camera along on our walk and snap away.  

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage - Wildlife

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage - Newport Bridge

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage - Newport Bridge

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage - Newport Bridge

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

Dog Walk -Teesside - River Tees - Tees Barrage

The walk took about an hour and fifteen minutes starting at the Tees Barrage walking to the Newport Bridge, over and back down the other side of the River to the Barrage again. It's a nice long walk with some great scenery, perfect for walking with or without dogs, running and cycling.

Do you know any nice walks in the area?
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Friday, 6 November 2015

Boutique Fashion in Yarm

Recently I had the chance to visit fashion outlet, Kiwi Boutique, for a night of cakes, drinks, blogger chats and most importantly clothes. With a shop already in Guisborough, Kiwi Boutique opened up another in Yarm which is proving to be just as popular! Fellow blogger and employee of Kiwi Boutique, Lucy, organised the event to promote the Yarm store. 

Kiwi Boutique Fashion Shop in Yarm

Kiwi Boutique Fashion Shop in Yarm

Kiwi Boutique Fashion Shop in Yarm

Kiwi Boutique Fashion Shop in Yarm

Kiwi Boutique Fashion Shop in Yarm

Kiwi Boutique Fashion Shop in Yarm

The girls in the shop spoke to us about the Autumn/Winter fashion and gave us a tour around the store. The shop was quaint and cosy but filled with some great fashion. I had the chance to try on a few pieces but unfortunately I didn't come away with anything. I'll definitely be checking them out in the future to see what new pieces they get in store.

If you are in the area make sure to give Kiwi Boutique a visit! I was kindly given a voucher code to pass along to my lovely readers to provide you with 10% off purchases (on non-sale items).

When you are in store quote KIWIBLOGGER10 (this doesn't expire in store) or you can use it online until November 30th.

Happy Shopping!
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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

De Melo, a hidden gem in Middlesbrough

Ever since I heard that De Melo was opening I knew I wanted to try it out. A cafe dedicated to amazing coffee, cakes and treats is right up my street! Because its a little walk from the town centre it's not somewhere I've had the chance to visit yet. I love when new independent eateries open in Middlesbrough as it gives us more choice and better quality food. When a catch up was due with my friend I knew that we had to visit De Melo and get some sweet treats.

De Melo, Middlesbrough Food Review Story

De Melo, Middlesbrough Food Review

De Melo, Middlesbrough Food Review Chocolate Milkshake

De Melo, Middlesbrough Food Review

De Melo, Middlesbrough Food Review Front Counter

De Melo, Middlesbrough Food Review Rainbow Cake

De Melo, Middlesbrough Food Review Chocolate Waffle

De Melo, Middlesbrough Food Review

The space was open, modern and exceptionally clean. I love the colour theme that features in De Melo's branding and runs into the shop with deep purple and turquoise blue accents throughout their interior. There was a lot of choice when it came to food including a number of ice creams, waffles, pancakes and cake. I decided to go all out on chocolate and got a Ferrero Rocher milkshake and a waffle with chocolate and jaffa cake ice cream. Jess decided on rainbow cake and a Snickers milkshake.

The milkshakes arrived first and they were lovely. You could definitely taste the chocolate element in them, i.e the Ferrero Rocher, but my only criticism was they were a little thin. I love a thick hearty milkshake! When our treats came we were thrilled. My waffle was tasty with just the right amount of toppings. The ice cream they use is top notch, you can definitely taste the quality. Jess said she'd be back for more rainbow cake!

The staff are so friendly and very passionate about what they do. The food is delicious, they do savoury options now too, and its such a lovely atmosphere.

De Melo is definitely a hidden gem in Middlesbrough. Although it's right in the heart of Middlesbrough its still far enough from the centre and the shops that people don't walk past it often and realise its there. I've told a number of people I went to De Melo and they didn't know it was there. I hope I've opened your eyes to this delicious place and that you will visit!

If you are travelling from out of the area, or want to pop down from Newcastle, Travelodge offer lots of hotels in the area at great prices!

*In collaboration with Travelodge
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Sunday, 1 November 2015

October Favourites.

October Favourites

I quite enjoyed putting together September's favourites post so I thought I'd try to keep it up. Here are the things that I've been loving in the Autumnal month of October.

Pumpkin crazy. I'll admit it, throughout October I've been addicted to buying anything remotely pumpkin related. It started with these little real munchkins to use as a centrepiece on our table, and it was followed up by a glass pumpkin, a pumpkin wooden basket and many other bits and pieces. Let's just say I don't need any more pumpkin stuff.

Up the Boro. This month I went to my first football match. Supporting our home team we went to the Middlesbrough v Fulham match. It was a really nice atmosphere and although neither team scored I had a great time. Would definitely be up for going again.

Tori Kelly has my heart. I think this girl is my favourite singer ever. I first discovered Tori when she sang at the VMAs this year. After seeing that performance I downloaded all her EPs and became obsessed. This month her album Unbreakable Smile was released and it's perfect. I've always got her on in my car. I can't wait until she does a proper tour as I'm dying to see her live.

Mooching with the Scousers. We visited Liverpool for this first time this month and had lots of fun. We ate great food, did lots of shopping and took in the sites. I especially loved the docklands and of course the famous Liver building.

Shirt and jumper combo. When in Liverpool we visited Pull and Bear. I am in love with this shop, it is similar to H&M but in more Autumnal colours. I picked up this blue jumper and another in cream for £20 each. They are so comfy and very versatile. I wore the blue jumper with a plaid shirt for the football match so that I was super toasty. It is such a cute combo that I can't wait to wear more.

Snap happy. This month I've really been getting into snapchat. It's a great app to send funny things to your friends and family without filling up your phone with stupid pictures and videos!

Lots of laughs with friends. I bought this game to add to my growing collection for when we have get-togethers with friends. We had a bit of couples craic this month and went round my friends for food and drink. I whipped out this game for the first time and it had us laughing all night.

Gorgeous smellies. When visiting one of my favourite local shops, Lots of Loveliness, I noticed she'd started stocking candles. I sniffed this one and had to buy it. It's so fruity!

Halloween obsession. To accompany my crazy pumpkin obsession as detailed above, this year I bought lots of bits for Halloween. I really wanted to go all out with decorations. I got this cute silhouette candle holder from TK Maxx and its brilliant. Although we only got two trick or treaters this year, I'm still glad I decorated the house as its not just for them, its for me too!

That's my October favourites, what are yours?
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© gingerbread smiles.

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