Review: An Italian treat at Il Gusto Ristorante, Belfast

Last week I attended the bloggers event at the newly opened Il Gusto Ristorante, Belfast. Situated on the Lisburn Road, Il Gusto is a cosy, warm and perfectly compact Italian restaurant. I loved the modern yet cozy interiors – lots of pine, mirrors and  gorgeous brushed green leather seating.

il gusto ristorante lisburn road belfast

The menu offers a selection of authentic Italian fayre with homemade pizza and pasta, as well as a great selection of fish and meat dishes. To start I went for the Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad, which was lovely, but my friend chose the meatballs and they were amazing! Unbelievably tasty and not in any way fatty like some meatballs can be.

chicken bacon caesar salad

For our main course my friend and I both chose the Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Ravioli. This was a huge hit and I could have eaten it twice! The pasta was perfectly cooked and the filling was tasty and moreish. The tomato sauce in which the ravioli was served was delicious; extremely light, fresh and rich all at the same time. I would love to know the recipe but I’d say it’s a closely guarded secret by the Italian chef at Il Gusto.

sweet potato and pumpkin ravioli

Dessert time arrived and I chose one of my favourites – Tiramisu. Topped with pistachios (another favourite of mine) covering layers of mascarpone cream, coffee and chocolate it was up there with the best I’ve tasted and I enjoyed every bite.

pistachio tiramisu

The portion sizes weren’t huge so I easily ate the three courses without feeling completely stuffed – or maybe I am just greedy! However with the menu priced so reasonably you could afford to try three courses without breaking the bank.

I highly recommend you try out this cozy and authentic Italian eaterie – you won’t be disappointed. Thank you Il Gusto for a great evening.

Love, Laurel


Harry turns 18 months!

Harry is 18 months old! He is a fully fledged toddler now. He is full of beans and never stops.

We are really loving this stage of his life. He is so fun and his personality is really coming out! He has his likes and dislikes and his speech is really coming on.

toddler at 18 months

Below is a list which sums him up at 18 months:


  • Animals and animal noises!
  • Dancing and doing actions to songs
  • Running around parks and kicking leaves; generally being outside
  • Playing on swings and climbing frames (age appropriate ones of course!)
  • Cars, trains, diggers
  • Emptying the kitchen cupboards
  • Crayons and crafts
  • Running around our house getting us to chase him – he finds this hilarious!
  • Singing songs and listening to music
  • Spending time with his Grandparents who he has wrapped around his little finger!
  • His two days at nursery where he plays with his friends and does lots of great activities
  • The weekend when we are all together and the pace is a bit slower than the weekday routine


  • Having his teeth brushed
  • Having moisturiser put on (he still has some eczema)
  • Having his nails cut (I have to do it while he is napping!)

18 month old


  • He is pretty good at feeding himself now. He can use a spoon for things like chilli with rice, or beef stew with mash. He can also manage Weetabix and porridge! Yoghurt is still very messy though.
  • His speech is really coming on. He is saying new words pretty much every day, of his own accord. I asked him the other day, ‘What would you like for breakfast?’ and he replied clearly ‘Weetabix’. I was  not expecting that! I have no idea how many words he can say now – I can’t keep up! His other impressive words are ‘Gruffalo’ and ‘Octopus’ haha!
  • His understanding is developing quickly now too. He is making connections with objects and actions. For example, we baked cakes the other day. We used the scales then put them in the oven. The next day Harry pointed at the scales, and pointed at the oven and said ‘Cake!’
  • He loves to dance and bob about but hasn’t mastered jumping up and down yet!
  • He knows quite a few makaton signs – all thanks to Mr. Tumble! He can do ‘friends’, ‘hello’, ‘bye bye’, ‘ball’, ‘fish’ and ‘good’.
  • He can point us all out in photos, and when you point to a picture of him and say, who’s that? He says ‘me!’


Harry is a great eater. His palate is really varied and he will even eat slightly spicy things like Thai curry. He usually eats three good meals a day. It’s generally something hot, as well as some fruit and yoghurt afterwards. He has an afternoon snack about 3.30pm. He drinks water mainly. With a small cup of milk in the morning and one before bed. He started to go off his milk and drinking from a bottle at around 12 months. We make sure he eats a lot of cheese and yoghurt to make up for it.


Harry sleeps (on a good day) from 8pm – 7am, waking usually once crying for his dummy! We recently got him a duvet due to the colder weather but he usually kicks it off! He won’t sleep in sleeping bags anymore as I think he finds them restrictive. He likes to use a muslin cloth as a comforter.

18 month old toddler

He’s doing great and we are really loving this stage. It’s brilliant being able to communicate with him. He was quite late to crawl (10 months) and walk (14.5 months) but I feel like he’s making up for it now with his speech. He is so happy and mischievous now and is (fingers crossed) really enjoying all that he does. He is so much more settled and secure than he was at around 12 months and that shows in his confidence and happiness.

Love, Laurel

Tips for taking a Toddler Abroad

Here is a list of what we learned when we took our 16 month old Harry to Mallorca a few weeks ago:

  1. It will not be anything like the holidays you were used to before you had a baby.
  2. Packing will take forever, as you try to plan for every toddler based scenario that could occur.
  3. The journey will be a military operation – snacks, new toys they have never seen, TV programmes loaded onto the tablet. You will need it all.
  4. It will be so exciting for them, and special for you, as you show them a brand new place and settle into your new temporary surroundings.
  5. Everything will seem renewed and more interesting as you see it through your child’s eyes – the sea, the pool, the weather, the food.toddler at the beach
  6. The amount of sun cream they have to wear turns them white and greasy and everything sticks to it.
  7. The beach will become fun again, and not just a place to sunbathe anymore. Now it’s sandcastles, rock pools and splashing at the waters edge!
  8. You will buy copious amounts of cheap plastic toys for the beach and pool and end up playing with them just as much as your toddler.
  9. You will spend  A  LOT of time running after your toddler trying to stop them jumping in the pool/eating sand/falling over/stealing other kids toys/generally causing themselves an injury.
  10. Getting ready for dinner will be done as quickly as possible and  will be facilitated by snacks and Spanish Peppa Pig and Octonauts.toddler at the beach
  11. Meals are no longer relaxing and slow paced. Your main priority will be getting your toddler to ‘sit nicely’ and eat something other than chips.
  12. Your lightweight, handy buggy will be worth its weight in gold – and will serve as a cart horse for transporting your toddler, and all of your stuff around. Not forgetting beach and pool naps!
  13. Speaking of naps – the toddler will nap more due to staying up later at night. We got 2 long naps a day, and this was mummy and daddy RELAXATION time.
  14. During said relaxation time, you will get glimmers of pre baby life as you lounge on your sunbed with a cold drink in hand, reading a chick lit novel. But time is quickly up as your toddler starts to stir!taking your toddler abroad
  15. You will get talking to every other family with young children, and it will be great. Everyone is in the same boat and there is a real sense of unity and pride when your children are being funny or playing together.
  16. Your toddler (well, our toddler) will LOVE the kids entertainment. It was the highlight of his (and probably our) day. He danced, he ran around, he stood mesmerized at the show they put on every night. It was brilliant.
  17. You will spend so much precious family time away from all the stresses of daily life. No work, no house work, no daily grind – just lots and lots of quality time, perfect.
  18. You will feel so proud that you made it through the baby stage and are now a fully functioning family – who made it on holiday!
  19. Getting home is a bit crap; there’s the travelling part again, so much bloody washing to sort, and back to rainy UK weather. But there’s always next year.
  20. It definitely won’t be like the holidays you were used to before you had a baby; it will be better!

Love, Laurel


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