Disclaimer: Ad – sponsored post A couple of days ago a friend posted some photos of me on Facebook. These photos were taken in 1995 when I was 19 years old. We were at a one-day music festival in Earlham Park in Norwich. The headliners that day were Space who were famous in the 90s for their song ‘Female of the Species.’ Seeing those photos, and recalling the bands we watched that day, gave me a massive wave of nostalgia. For a short while, my memory took me back to those heady days of the mid-nineties when I had moved out of home and was starting to make my own way in life. Most of my memories from the 90s onwards are associated with music. Music was (and still is) such an important part of my life. It was in the early 90s that I went from being a young teen in love with the boy bands of the day (anyone remember New Kids on the Block?) to a stereotypical grumpy, hormonal and misunderstood mid-teen walking around in a black duffle coat (even on the sunniest of days) with R.E.M., The Pixies, Nirvana and PJ Harvey blasting into my ears through my cassette Walkman. As I got older the music I liked influenced my friendships and relationships and, likewise, the friendships and relationships I had would introduce me to new music. My musical tastes expanded and I started to like everything from the indie and alternative music I knew and loved, to hard rock, to house and trance, hip hop, and back to my original love of pop music. The nostalgia that comes from hearing an old song always makes me smile. Sometimes I can be caught completely off guard by the most random song too. For instance, whenever I hear Spice Up Your Life by the Spice Girls I’m instantly taken back to a fun night out where my friend, who was a massive Spice Girls fan, was ‘surprised’ by her boyfriend and four of his mates. They were each dressed up as a Spice Girl and sang Spice Up Your Life (badly, I might add) to her. Her boyfriend then got down on one knee (not a good look when you are dressed as Geri Halliwell in her Union Jack dress) and proposed. Once my friend got over the shock, and finally stopped laughing at the sight of five burley blokes in short skirts singing to her, she accepted his proposal. Twenty years on and I still smile whenever I hear that song. I thought about my friend a couple of days ago when I saw the new Walkers Crisps advert that features the Spice Girls turning up at the house of their ‘Best Ever Fan,’ and I wondered if my friend had managed to get tickets for their reunion tour, or if she has entered the competition to win VIP tickets. Which songs spark your sense of nostalgia? Is there a particular track that instantly takes you back to a specific moment in your life? I’d love to know.
Happy Monday! Last week zoomed past at a ridiculous rate. We weren’t overly busy as I generally try to make the half term holidays pretty low key events. We spent a chunk of the week just mooching about at home. I made the most of the time by catching up on some work. I also made a dent in the decluttering list I have and have finally bagged up a load of the children’s clothes to take to the charity shop. The weekend was glorious and after going swimming on Saturday morning we spent the rest of the weekend in the garden. And thanks to the weather being so agreeable I think last week was one of the first times I’ve managed to actually stick to my intended meal plan as we had our BBQ on Saturday as planned. The kids went back to school today and although I’d love to say I’m missing them already I have to admit being able to hear myself think is rather nice. But the house looks like it’s been ransacked and I have a to-do list as long as my arm, so I need to crack on with it. First things first, as always on a Monday, it’s time for my meal plan. Meal Plan Monday Monday – I made a lasagna of mammoth proportions yesterday, so there is enough left over for dinner this evening. I will serve it with salad again. Tuesday – I bought some really lovely sausages that were on offer in Waitrose on Saturday for our BBQ. We had Leek and Chive ones for the actual BBQ, and I have some Thyme & Rosemary chipolatas still in the fridge to use. We will most likely have those with new potatoes and veg. Wednesday – Chunky Bean Burgers with Cajun wedges. This recipe is from the Slimming World recipe book ‘Family Feasts on a Budget.’ Even though the recipes in this Slimming World book are very good, I don’t feel they are particularly budget friendly at all. But I guess it’s all relative and depends on what your idea of ‘budget friendly’ is. This recipe is probably one of the better value ones (I’ve priced it up at just under £5 and I use the basic own brand supermarket items wherever possible), and I know I have most of the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge already. Thursday – Fish fillets (Pollock or Basa), new potatoes, green veg. Friday – Homemade pizza Saturday – It’s Rob’s birthday in a couple of days so tonight is his foody treat. The words ‘big fat dirty takeaway’ have been mentioned. Sunday – Roast chicken and all the trimmings. As usual, I am linking up with Katy Kicker for her weekly meal plan linky.
I’ve been keeping a keen eye on the weather forecast over the last couple of days. By all accounts, the summer sun is meant to come out in full force this weekend. And the summer sun for us means BBQ time. And BBQ time is also a great time for drinking perfect cocktails. Up until a few years ago, my cocktail tastes went as far as a Long Island Iced Tea, or maybe a Mojito. I knew what I liked and I stuck purely with those. But recently I’ve been more experimental when it comes to cocktails – both when we are out and also at home – and I’ve found that I like making cocktails as much as I like drinking them. This summer I plan on trying out some new flavour combinations that are perfect for enjoying lazy afternoons and evenings in the garden. I’ve spent some time on Pinterest and come up with a list of what I believe are the perfect cocktails for summer. 10 Perfect Cocktails for Summer Rosé Lemonade Elderflower Sangria. Sangria absolutely screams “Summer” doesn’t it? This gorgeous flavour combination from Spices in my DNA is perfect for a family BBQ as it can easily be adapted to cater for a crowd. Frozen Peach Bellini Slush Peaches, Prosecco, Sugar, slushed together – match made in summer cocktail heaven. Easy Summer Berry Sangria Another sangria recipe, but this one from The Happier Homemaker calls for sparkling wine in place of the usual red. Lemonade Prosecco Punch This recipe from Crazy for Crust would be the perfect drink to cool you down on a hot summer’s afternoon. Ginger and Rosemary Cocktail I adore ginger so this cocktail from NellieBellie is right up my street. Ginger, Ginger Beer, Gin, Rosemary – this is a drink to take your time over. Perfect for watching the sun go down. Blackberry Gin Sour One of my recipes that has become a firm favourite in our house. It’s a bit messy to make, but oh so worth it. Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Okay, so this one isn’t a cocktail but I reckon it will taste nicer than any shop bought Rhubarb and Ginger Gin. This recipe from Fuss Free Flavours is delicious as a long drink with a mixer or savoured it on its own. Passion Fruit Margarita I always think Margarita’s are the quintessential summer cocktail, and if this passion fruit version from Salt and Lavender tastes as good as it looks it will be delicious. Gin and Tonic Slushies Mmmm, a G&T in slushie form. Head over to Daisies & Pie for the recipe – you’ll be glad you did. A final mention must go to Anklebiters Adventures who has told me that a cocktail of vodka, champagne and pineapple juice is heavenly. This is one I will definitely be trying out this summer. Do you have a cocktail that is your favourite for long hot summer days? I’d love to know! PIN ME FOR LATER:
This Meal Plan Monday post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click the link and go on to make a purchase I will receive a small commission, at absolutely no extra cost to yourself. All affiliate links will be marked with * at the start of the link. Oh, Hai! Long time no blog. Apologies for the tumbleweed that’s been rolling around this space for the past few weeks. We had some pretty epic sickness bugs going on which nearly saw eldest admitted to hospital. I also changed blog hosts and, to be honest, I had a moment where I thought that maybe it was time to end the blog. With my current hosting coming to the end of its contract it would have been the ideal time. But, taking a few weeks off has actually done me the world of good and I realised that I would miss this space of mine too much if I were to let it disappear into the virtual ether. Anyway, my thoughts on why I thought I might hang up my blogging hat, and my reasons for not doing so are for another blog post at another time. So here I am with our weekly meal plan and linking up with Katy Kicker, once again: Meal Plan Monday w/c 27th May It’s the half term holidays this week, so everything is pretty fluid when it comes to what we will be eating – I won’t be firm on having a meal on a set day. The kids are also really enjoying helping me to cook at the moment so recipes have been pretty child-friendly as a result. As I’ve mentioned before, I am also trying to reduce our meat consumption too. I realised a while ago that we were, pretty much, eating meat with every meal, and while it is highly unlikely that we would ever become a totally vegetarian family I am keen to become less reliant on having meat as the primary element of our meals. Here’s what is on our meal plan this week. Monday – we have been away for the bank holiday weekend and have not long got home, so it’s a pizza for us tonight. Tuesday – Mild Tomato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry. This is a recipe from Today We Cooked – one of my favourite Instagram accounts. The kids have recently started to try some mild curries so this will hopefully go down a treat. We will most likely have it with a jacket potato. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Today We Cooked (@todaywecooked) on Jan 29, 2019 at 9:03am PST Wednesday – Macaroni Cheese & salad Thursday – Curried Fish Fingers and Chips – from *Get Your Kids to Eat Anything by Emily Leary. This book is all sorts of ace. My two have become far more adventurous since I started following Emily’s tips. If you want to find out more about the book you can read my recent review here. Friday – for the kids: Homemade sausage rolls, wedges and salad. for the adults: Lamb Madras from the *Slimming World Curry Club cookbook. This is a favourite of ours, and it’s syn free too! Saturday & Sunday – the weather is meant to be lovely this weekend so we will absolutely be having a BBQ on one of the days, and on the other, I will most likely make a lasagne. So that’s our meal plan for the week ahead. What have you got on your meal plan this week?
Disclosure: AD – We were provided with a complimentary meal from COSMO in Norwich for the purpose of this review, however, as always, all opinions are my own. Somehow I’ve made it through my 43 years Earthside without doing two pretty popular things – the first is that I have yet to set foot inside a certain well-known Scandinavian flat-pack furniture store, and the second is that I had never eaten in an all you can eat buffet style restaurant. What a sheltered life I have led. Well, all that changed last week when we were invited along to review our local branch of COSMO, in Norwich. COSMO has been in Norwich for a couple of years now and I’ve often said to Rob that we must try it out one day but, up until now, that day never came. What intrigued me about COSMO was the variety it offers – unlike most ‘all you can eat’ restaurants where there is normally just one cuisine available, COSMO is a World Buffet Restaurant and offers a range of cuisines from all across the globe, so there is guaranteed to be something to suit all tastebuds. Which is good, as going out to eat with our children can be a pretty painful experience at times – especially with G. If you recall we have recently been working through Emily Leary’s Get Your Kids to Eat Anything book, and while it has made a massive difference to the type of food G eats at home, when we are out and about she is still pretty bloody-minded when it comes to what she will and will not eat. When we arrived at COSMO I was struck by a couple of things – just how busy it was, and in turn, how efficient it was too. The restaurant is massive with the serving stations greeting you as you enter, and the tables towards the back of the room. One of the things I’ve always wondered about ‘all you can eat’ restaurants is what the comfort level is like when dining. For some reason, I imagined that tables would be very close together in a canteen style set-up to enable a high volume / high turnover situation. But at COSMO it is nothing like that. Yes, there are a lot of tables and yes, it is busy, but not once did we feel like we were squished into a confined space, nor did we ever feel like we were being rushed through. In fact, the waiting staff were incredibly friendly, helpful, and attentive. But what of the food I hear you ask? Surely a restaurant that is so busy isn’t going to produce the greatest quality food? I have to admit, that thought did go through my mind just before we arrived, but I needn’t have worried as the quality of everything we tried was exceptionally good. The kids (especially G) were overjoyed when they saw they could have all their favourite foods. G was particularly keen to try the hotdogs and pizza, and M proclaimed that the macaroni cheese on offer was the best he had ever tasted. Rob sampled dishes from the ‘House of Spice’ section to start, followed by a few dishes from the ‘World of Asia’ section – including ribs, spring rolls, and duck pancakes – and really enjoyed everything he chose. COSMO has recently been named as a finalist in the Best Restaurant Chain category of the Golden Chopsticks Awards 2019, so with that in mind, I picked dishes from the ‘World of Asia’ section for my choices. One of my favourite dishes and one I always choose when we go to our local (very good) Chinese restaurant is Szechuan Chicken, so I was impressed when I saw it on offer at COSMO. It was incredibly good and I would actually go so far as to say it was better than the one I have at my local restaurant. Other dishes I tried included noodles (which I could have eaten all day long – they were so tasty!) Thai Green Curry, a really lovely spicy rice dish, and some super tasty (and very pretty) vegetable sushi. As for puddings – I was full from the main courses I tried so didn’t try any of the deserts on offer, however, the kids did and absolutely demolished everything (Ice cream, doughnuts, jelly, cake) in lightning speed before asking if they could have more! There is an extensive range of drinks on offer- but these are charged in addition to your meal. Soft drinks have bottomless refills, and there is a good selection of reasonably priced beers, wines and cocktails available too. We went to COSMO during the midweek lunchtime service and while there was a brilliant variety of foods on offer it was not the full COSMO experience. For that, it is worth booking a table for the evening or weekend service. The evening dining service includes a Tepanyaki section, Tasting Kitchen, Carvery, and a wider range of desserts including a chocolate fountain for you to dip marshmallows in. Cost wise COSMO is fantastic value for money with the mid-week lunchtime service priced at just £8.50 for adults, and the evening dinner service at £15.99. Weekends are slightly more expensive, but only by a couple of pounds. Children’s meals are half price if they are under 150cm tall. We left COSMO with full and happy bellies and the kids proclaimed it to be the best restaurant they had ever been to! They have been asking on a daily basis when we can return, and Rob and I are trying to see when we can next squeeze in an evening in the city so that we can try out the full COSMO experience. Hopefully, it will be very soon indeed.