2014 In A Nutshell

Beep…….. Beep…… Beep…… Did you hear that?!

It’s the sound of Keeping It Welsh being shocked back into life! *Hooray*

As you can all imagine my transition from Cardiff to Reading wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked and my new job has been keeping me nice and busy!

Although this may seem a bit late to be posting this I thought I’d look back at what my aspirations were for last year and how many of them I accomplished.

– Learn to play the piano

Epic Fail

– Take the next step in my career

Completed! “I’m moving on up, moving on up”

– Move back into a flat on my own

Even more of an epic fail, currently back living with mum

– Get a cover up tattoo on my wrist + one new tattoo

Cover up booked in for May, getting my new one in July

– Become a British Heart Foundation volunteer

Didn’t manage to support BHF last year but volunteered at Race for Life with fellow blogger…

‘Welsh Girl Problems’

– Run the Cardiff Half Marathon

Had already moved back to Reading… *sigh*

– Go to the MTV EMAs 2014 in Glasgow

New job threw this out the window entirely

– Learn sign language

Learnt the very basics, still ongoing

– Go camping (I’ve never been…)

Went to Lowlands Festival in Holland AND CAMPED! Was a bloody amazing trip and I’d most definitely go again!

– Give blood

Still need to overcome my fear of needles

– Fall in love

Sadly, it happened.

– Go to 10 gigs/concerts/shows

Completed!

– Eat at 20 new places

Made it to 14… so almost

– Bake at least once a month

Failed miserably

– Visit 5 places on my UK list

I actually saw more places in the UK than I ever have last year, none of them were the designed 5 I’d chosen though

– Try a new sport

Does a Netflix marathon count??

– Do something that scares me

I did the thing which scared me the most… I bared my soul to someone and dropped the L bomb for the very first time.

How I Kept It Welsh

For so long it was my dream to move to Cardiff and 2 years ago I achieved that dream and made the move from Reading to start my new job here. It’s been the best couple of years of my whole life and I have made the most amazing friends who I am going to be very sad to say goodbye to when I start my new job in Reading in a couple of weeks.

When I started looking back at the things I’ve had the chance to do since living here it made me realise just how lucky I have been to have so many opportunities to get involved in exciting things.

So these are the highlights of my time in Cardiff…this is how I spent my time… Keeping It Welsh!

Welsh Flag

Welsh Varsity is a grudge match of epic proportions. Cardiff vs Swansea it’s all or nothing!

Varsity 2013 was the night I met the beautiful Ieva! On a night out a couple of months after I moved to Cardiff, Ieva was bartending at what used to be Pica Pica. I stayed until closing and she came out partying with me for the rest of the night. We ended up in Live Lounge and I acquired a Varsity t-shirt from a random man in the street!

This year Sarah and I actually went to watch the match at the Millennium Stadium. There was such an electrifying atmosphere with all the rivalry banter and drunken shouting. As it’s typically a student event we thought we would feel a bit out of place but there were plenty of other ‘gatecrashers’ and we drank so much cider that we just made friends with everyone there.

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Cardiff Retail Awards 2013 was the professional highlight of my career. With the awards ceremony taking place on my birthday I was excited to say the least and knew there was some really stiff competition in our category. We had a champagne reception and a beautifully cooked dinner and then as the awards came around it was my turn to go on stage and find out my fate. Beating out several other retailers including John Lewis; they announced that my store had won Best Customer Service in Cardiff which was an absolute dream come true and was so rewarding after all the hard work myself and my team had put in.

Retail Awards

St David’s Shopping Centre put a call out for entries for their new blogging team in early 2013 and having just started up my own blog properly I jumped at the chance to get involved. I sent off a mock post to them and got an email the following week saying I had been chosen to be their resident Food & Drinks Blogger. I’ve been to so many amazing restaurants and met some outstanding people including some of my fellow resident bloggers Steph, Joshwa and Eve.

Blog Events

Photography was always something I’d been interested in but always felt unless I really knew what I was doing and had a top-notch camera that I had no business trying to showcase my photos. Over the last year however I have posted many of them on Twitter and had so much positive feedback that it’s really encouraged me to keep going.

Photography

In May this year I was given the massive responsibility of holding the ‘keys’ to Cardiff on the ‘Cardiff Is Yours’ Twitter account. I spent a week tweeting about where I liked going and what I was doing and essentially shared ‘My Cardiff’ with everyone. It was a pleasure to have the chance to get to know so many people through it and I was able to write a blog post for the masterminds behind ‘Cardiff Is Yours’  and also one for Citysocializer.

The one and only Jamie Laing…

Back in October last year I attended the Student Lock-In where I interviewed the one and only Jamie Laing from Made In Chelsea. As a die-hard fan of the show I was pretty much incapable of shaking while I was talking to him but he put me at ease and answered the questions I had for him. We didn’t talk for very long as he had a queue of people waiting to meet him but it was still amazing fun and he’s such a great guy!

Jamie

When I first moved to Cardiff I was finding it difficult to meet people outside of work so I joined Citysocializer which is essentially a local social networking group. Throughout my time with them I became a Community Host and helped to build up the Cardiff base to a team of almost 15 hosts with on average 4 socials every day. Some of the highlights for me were hosting the Halloween party last year, Mexican Night at the flat which I share with my flatmate (who I met through CS) & the Valentines Mingle at Vodka Revs which saw over 30 single Citysocializers descend for cocktails.

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I’ve been to some amazing gigs since living in Cardiff but my favourites have to be Our Last Night (Clwb Ifor Bach), Daytona Lights (Buffalo Bar) & Young Kato (Clwb Ifor Bach). They are both great venues and I had the chance to mix with all of the bands once they had finished. I ended up doing shots with the lead guitarist from Daytona Lights…Total hottie!

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I have made some of the most exceptional people living in Cardiff and have friends for life in them! Whether it’s a been a fellow blogger, people I’ve dated or my flatmate they have each contributed to making me the person I am today.

I have to say though, the biggest achievement for me has been this… my own blog. Something I started as more of a journal when I first moved here has now become an outlet for my passions. A place for people to read what’s hot and what’s not and actually want to know my opinion. It’s amazing to have such an influence and I have been presented with exceptional opportunities to attend events which has helped me grow my blog and develop my writing style. What began as a humble WordPress page is now a fully fledged ‘.com’ and my reviews can be found on sites all over the internet which I never thought would happen.

Cardiff…you have been amazing!

X

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Healthy Living with Rizopia

The lovely people at Rizopia sent me some of their products to review a little while ago and this week I finally managed to get some time in the kitchen to create my healthy masterpieces. Their range includes only 100% Natural Organic brown rice pasta.

I started with a vegetable lasagne and used their Gluten-Free brown rice lasagne sheets. I added so many vegetables it was ridiculous! There were mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, courgettes, peppers, with garlic, onion and paprika to add some depth of flavour. I also put a fine layer of cheddar cheese in between each layer of lasagne just to hold it all together.

The healthiest lasagne I’ve ever made and it was gorgeous! The pasta tastes even better than the regular stuff I buy from Tesco and knowing that the whole dish was probably half the calories of a normal one made it that much cheekier! The texture was soft but still a bit firm, like a really good kind of chewy and the nutty aftertaste sold it to me.

Lasagne

The second dish I made was using their brown rice Fusilli twists. I cooked the pasta as normal, drained off the water but kept a little bit to add back into the pan with the drained pasta. I then added my box of passata until it was stirred through and then added a handful of frozen garden peas just at the end so they were still a tiny bit crunchy when I bit into them! I topped the dish off with just a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese.

tomato pasta

This is an amazing dish to make if you want to plan ahead as you can make a big batch and freeze it for later, although this is what I have when I’m in need of comfort food and isn’t going to help your route to healthy eating if you have it every night.

Rizopia pasta is so good that it has been NHS approved and is available on prescription for those who suffer from Coeliac disease

For more information visit http://www.rizopia.co.uk

Gourmet Burger Kitchen- The Review

With Mumma Wicks coming to visit me I knew I needed to take her somewhere which would satisfy her fussy taste-buds and Gourmet Burger Kitchen fits the bill. It sits along what I like to call ‘Restaurant Row’ in Cardiff City Centre and has a unique Kiwi vibe which spans across the decor to the food.

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We were greeted warmly by General Manager Jordan and ordered some Halloumi Bites to start and we both had a Strawberry Milkshake. Let me just start by saying that although you may have a heart attack when you see the price of this milkshake… It’s SO worth it! Made using real fruit and thick ice cream it’s possibly made it to my top 5 milkshakes ever!

For our mains I had a Camemburger and mum had a Satay Chicken Burger- NAKED (I will explain this more below), we also shared some skinny fries which came with…wait for it… Baconnaise!

Here was my burger…

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100% prime British beef, Camembert, hash brown, truffle mayo, onion jam, relish and a brioche bun

My only complaint with this burger would be that all the sauce made the bun quite soggy on the bottom, but I overlooked this due to the amazingness of the burger as a whole.

Mum opted for the Chicken Satay… Now let me explain that with any of the burgers you can ‘Go Naked’ which means you can have it bun-less with a side salad instead.

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Chargrilled Chicken, Satay sauce, house mayo, relish, tomato, red onion, alfalfa sprouts & a green salad

The satay was fantastic, if not a little bit too spicy, but combined with relish and green salad it made for a perfect summer lunch.

The skinny fries were gorgeous and yes… they came with a bacon-flavoured mayonnaise with small bacon bits in as well.Image

 

The meal was so good that I sent GBK a message on Twitter… I thought you’d all like to see their response!

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Try not to be too jealous guys… This meal gets a 9 out of 10 from me!

Website: www.gbk.co.uk 

Summer Has Arrived at Marks & Spencer

Last week, Marks & Spencer sent me some goodies from their new Summer Range and oh my, they didn’t disappoint.

I indulged in the tapas selection in one sitting… Spanish Meatballs, Chorizo & Cheese empanadas and Garlic Mushrooms.

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*Spoiler* All of the Summer Tapas range is 3 for £6 until the 20th May

My only mistake was not checking the packaging first, both the mushrooms and meatballs can be quickly heated up the microwave in a minute each, however the empanadas needed 12 minutes in the oven, not a very long wait but next time I would just do the oven ones first so it’s all ready at once.

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The mushrooms were fairly salty but that’s kind of how I like them, with huge chunks of roasted garlic all over them I was in a sort of mushroom-heaven. The meatballs had a gorgeous tomato sauce on them and their texture was soft, but they didn’t fall apart when you put your fork into them. The empanadas were the real highlight… oozing soft, gooey cheese and then you get the salty, spicy chorizo which works really well with the buttery pastry.

Next up…Dessert!

I was lucky enough to be given two different ones to try… A Coconut Milk dessert with a Pineapple & Chilli salsa and also a Milk Chocolate & Salted Caramel Dulce de Leche dessert

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I LOVED the Coconut dessert! It was soft, creamy and mixed with the pineapple beautifully. I can’t begin to describe how utterly delicious this was, it was like eating a fluffy cloud and then adding a layer of citrusy gold to it. The chilli salsa was great for flavour but the texture of it really was like salsa and the chunks were just too big for a dessert that small, in my opinion.

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The milk chocolate & dulce de leche was a weird texture. It was kind of like a sponge cake, but a really wet sponge cake, like a moist, chocolatey sponge cake…but not a sponge cake! It had a crunchy salted caramel layer running through it too which I could have quite easily eaten on its own. It was rather rich though, and like an idiot I ate both so as you can imagine I was going into dessert-overload at this point.

Overall, I’d give this Summer Range a 9 out of 10!

Get yourself down to Marks & Spencer in St David’s Shopping Centre and grab some ready for the Bank Holiday!

Club Platinum at La Tasca

This week Team Awesome headed to La Tasca for the launch of Club Platinum, their new and exclusive corporate loyalty card.

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We were greeted with Jäger Mojitos when we arrived which were absolutely AMAZING! They were quite sweet but had an incredibly citrusy tang that kept it from being undrinkable.

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Then we moved onto Posh Sangria made using Cava and an Orange Liqueur…

…at this point my head was beginning to spin.

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Bring on the food!

A mixture of continental meats, traditional Spanish omelette and olives kept us all from acting like a pack of ravenous dogs… for a while, but we caved and bought more ourselves in attempt t absorb some of the alcohol.

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The benefits of a Platinum Card are:

–          25% off food and drink

–          Exclusive booking line for members

–          Free rental space for meetings or party

–          Personalised service to organise your company dinner or special event

If you work in Cardiff, be sure to get in touch with the guys at Fiesta Nights by emailing enquiries@fiesta-nights.com

Easter Traybake

So I came across a blog on Twitter over the weekend where Blogger Natasha had made a beautiful Easter Traybake which I simply had to try!

It tastes absolutely beautiful! It took me about 20 minutes to prepare in total and then about 4 hours in the fridge to set. I used Maltesers instead of Mini Eggs as Tesco had sold out… No surprise on Easter weekend!

For the full recipe and ingredients visit Natasha’s blog here…
http://thebarefootbaker.net/2014/04/19/easter-rocky-road-tray-bake/

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