2015 Goals

So now that I have closed the door on 2014… and the first part of 2015, it’s time for me to look forward to what I want to achieve next. I’ve decided to make my goals a bit more realistic and time-efficient this time around so that hopefully when I’m writing my next one I can fist pump the air because I’m one hot ticket who actually did everything I said I would!

So here’s to you 2015… Let’s be having you! #THISGIRLCAN

– Take the next step in my career

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

– Personal training session at least once a week

– Get fit & healthy

– Win another Retail Award

– Dye my hair back to red

– Treat my mum to a day out at least twice a month

– Clean out my wardrobe and donate everything I haven’t worn in six months to charity

– Learn how to make my own soup

– Pass my driving test

– Make an ‘Epic Meal Time’ style dish

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My Cardiff

As many of you know I have landed myself an amazing new job, however it’s in Reading which means I will be leaving Cardiff in a couple of weeks time.

Cardiff has introduced me to so many hidden gems so I thought it only fair to share my absolute favourites with you all and a few photo memories from my adventures in these wonderful places!

Breakfast

Cafe Pure is by far the best place to grab a healthy and super yummy breakfast.  They have lots of options to choose from and has fantastic views overlooking Cardiff Bay. They pride themselves on their ‘clean-eating’ options and make the most amazing healthy, fruity and fizzy drinks in the summer.

Cafe Pure

Lunch

The Deck is my Cardiff Bay haven! Tucked away down a small road opposite Cardiff Bay Police Station they serve up meals that taste ‘just like mum makes it’. Everything from comforting lasagne to the Mother Omelette stacked with various toppings. I always popped in for their famous bacon & brie baguette with cranberry sauce. They are also the best place in Cardiff to get cupcakes and brownies, with different flavours every day.

NY Deli is my guilty pleasure for a day when I just don’t feel like being healthy. This small cafe nestled in High Street Arcade offers up the most amazing selection with everything from bagels to hoagies. My favourite is the Richie Parks Special; mountains of salt beef and pastrami stacked on top of a layer of sweet gherkins with lashings of French mustard…mmm!

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Richie Park’s Special at NY Deli

Dinner

Gourmet Burger Kitchen was a place I had never heard of before I moved to Cardiff… I’m so glad I discovered it though as it has everything that I look for in a brilliant restaurant. Superb staff, banging tunes, delicious food and of course great value for money too. GBK make the most refreshing Strawberry milkshakes and of course you can get grilled halloumi as a side dish so naturally this was going to be a winner for me.

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Cocktails

Cosy Club is my favourite place to drink in all of Cardiff! The prices are a little on the steep side but when you try the concoctions on offer you will be pleased with every penny spent. My two signature favourites have always been the Lemon Drizzle Cake and the Cherry Bakewell… No these aren’t cakes, they are drinks, but my oh my they taste like alcoholic, liquidised cake…Mr Kipling would be proud!

Cosy Cocktails

Salt is another place I love drinking in as it’s so close to my flat in the bay and the flavour combinations in their cocktails are just crazy. From their espresso martinis to the candy-tasting Jolly Rancher there is something for everyone here. They have spectacular views of Cardiff Bay from their rooftop terrace which is a lush setting to sit and eat dinner in the summer. It’s also a great place if there’s a large group of you, with the option to reserve an area upstairs. They have brilliant live music nights too, be sure to catch ‘Salvation’ playing there.

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Sarah and I on New Year’s Eve

Nightlife

Peppermint is the place to be on Mill Lane! With cool decor, cheap drinks deals and varied music across two floors, it’s always the best bar on a Friday or Saturday night. It can get very busy in here but that just adds to the atmosphere. Their outside seating area is beautiful to enjoy in the summer and they always put on great entertainment throughout the year and on key dates such as the Six Nations.

Brewhouse is the best place for live music in Cardiff in my opinion. Spread across a large venue on multiple levels it’s a lovely place to grab something to eat and listen to chilled musicians during the day, but by night it turns into a hive of energy with the dance floor full every night. Check their website before you go as they always have great deals on food and drink that you can take advantage of.

Live Lounge had to be mentioned! Simply because it’s a rite of passage to go there at least once during your time in Cardiff and it’s the place to end your night. Open until 4am, people pour into this venue already completely intoxicated but that’s why it makes for such a great venue. Everyone is in such a good mood from their night out that everyone is just really friendly to each other. There is nothing pretentious about Live Lounge, quite the opposite actually; but the music and atmosphere can’t be beaten on a night out in Cardiff.

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Ieva & I at Live Lounge after Varsity 2013

Summer Tapas at Cosy Club

Anyone who knows me well, knows there is only one place in Cardiff I continually return to time and time again and that’s the hidden gem that is Cosy Club.

A discreet hideaway, it’s perfectly positioned in a central location with a great view across the main shopping street in the city.

Cosy Club is like a grown-ups’ social playground…Whether you’re grabbing brunch with a friend, booking one of their wine tasting sessions or curling up on the sofas for an intimate date it’s the perfect setting.

I recently went there for dinner with my friend Jack and we might have spoilt ourselves just a little bit.

We opted for a starter each… I had the mushroom bruschetta & Jack went for the Goats cheese pearls with sun-blushed tomatoes and black olive tapenade… These were just so scrummy!

Cosy Starter

We decided that we simply couldn’t choose which tapas dishes to go for…so we went for all of them! The only 2 we didn’t try were the ham hock and the herring as they had run out.

Mini Cumberland sausages with a sticky, wholegrain mustard & cider sauce– 10/10 WE LOVED! If I had my own Last Supper, this is what I would serve.

Crispy potatoes with pesto mayonnaise-9/10 Lush flavours, crunchy texture, creamy mayo!

Honey glazed shredded 5- spice pork– 9/10 A party in your mouth with each soft, gooey piece

Watermelon & crumbled feta with black olives, mint & extra virgin olive oil– 9/10 The naughtiest salad you’ll ever have… Going to make this at home!

Chorizo braised in cider– 8/10 Mouth watering texture, scrummy sauce, could’ve eaten a whole bowl of this

Mushroom rarebit made with their guest ale and mature cheddar– 8/10 Just like mumma makes it!

Home cured raspberry salmon with a raspberry vinegarette– 6/10 Lush salmon, bit too much fruit…

Grilled courgettes, red peppers & roasted vine tomatoes with a walnut & parsley pistou– 6/10 Superb flavours but this dish deserves to be served warm!

Mini fish fingers with tartare suace– 8/10 Always a winner for me… Gotta love anything mini

Houmous topped with spiced sultanas and chickpeas– 10/10 Made us feel very festive, I want to smother this on top of everything I eat at home.

Sweet potato and basil falafels with cumin & coriander yoghurt– 6/10 We are not falafel people, but we tried them and loved the aromas that came from within.

Pulled chicken poached in buttermilk and ginger with fennel & apple coleslaw– 7/10 Bit too much slaw, not enough chicken but blimey the chicken was good!

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Okay…we were so full by this point we contemplated stopping but then we remembered… there’s always room for dessert…hehe!

I went for the Peach Melba Cheesecake which arrived in the cutest jar and tasted phenomenal… nom nom nom!!

Cosy Dessert

Jack chose the Rhubarb, stem ginger and custard fool… It looked outstanding and the heavenly noises Jack made whilst eating it only made it seem even better.

After feeling suitably stuffed we made our way home, but not before saying goodbye to the evening’s host Nathan who always gives you a warm welcome and makes sure you’ve had a great time.

The whole team at Cosy Club always make you feel like one in a million and it’s for this reason that I will continue to keep going back!

If you’re looking for a great deal then head to Cosy Club on Tapas Tuesday and you can get 3 tapas dishes and a glass of wine for £11.50!!!!

http://www.thecosyclub.co.uk/cardiff

 

   

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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The Wild Peanut

This week the lovely people at The Wild Peanut sent me some mini versions of their amazing products and I have to say I’m impressed!

The Wild Peanut are one of the newest peanut butter producers here in the UK.

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I started with the Honey Peanut Butter… Sweetened with Natural Golden Honey this sat on my toast beautifully and had an almost citrusy aftertaste. I think this would taste really nice dipped in Greek Yoghurt…mmmmmm!

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Now I’m allergic to Banana so my friend tried this one and she loved it!

Sweet and fruity; the ‘I’m Bananas’ peanut butter really hit the spot for her. It’s a blend of bananas and roasted, crushed peanuts, which makes for a thick and tasty dessert-like spread.

She said that it would be a great snack to have pre-gym, for an energy boost before her workout.

Their Chocolate flavour is absolutely divine. .. and everyone knows I’m a bit of a chocolate aficionado so am very fussy whenever I buy something containing chocolate.

A mix of honey, roasted salted peanuts, molasses and chocolate ensures a truly indulgent snack.

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I have to say I was a little disappointed with the Chilli one… Never one to shy away from creative flavour combinations and being a massive Chilli fan I just found it far too salty. The kick you get from the heat was brilliant, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get over the saltiness.

To end on a bit of a high, I shall now sing the praises of the ‘Superfood Cinnamon’… It reminded me of when I make French toast but with added nuttiness. Sweet and woody, it’s the ultimate deluxe treat! I could quite easily have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Now I just need them to make a Salted Caramel version… Nom nom nom!

What I really love about The Wild Peanut is their ethical values and their partnership with TREE AID. Every time you buy a pot of their peanut butter they help villagers in Africa to plant trees across the drylands to transform their lives and landscapes for the long term.

 These products really are little pots of delicious, nutty goodness and well worth a try for any peanut butter fanatic or anyone interested in a good cause!

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The Wild Peanut:  http://www.thewildpeanut.co.uk