A Strong Coffee

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Meal Planning Monday

Apologies for the radio silence recently, but life has been hectic to say the least. Last week saw my youngest turn 9 and this week my eldest becomes a teenager. (He has been acting like one for the last 6 months so won’t come as a great shock.)

My youngest has been bust this weekend making a birthday cake for his big brother. Chocolate cake, with oreo buttercream. Perfect for our chocoholic.

I have spent the weekend eating way too many carbs for someone on a low carb diet and with a takeaway for tomorrow’s birthday celebrations being pizza it will continue. Come Tuesday I need to get back on it before I undo all the good work. I know it’s unlikely I will put on 13kg in a week, but it feels like I will. I also have to say it has made me realise how much better I feel when I eat low carb. I feel rather sluggish and bloated this weekend.

So what will we be eating this week, other than Dominoes?

Sausage and mash. Real comfort food and I can substitute potato for swede.

Tacos - or taco salad for me. I love the red onions soaked in lime and orange.

Chicken drumsticks with a Maggi BBQ coating. I haven’t tried this before but it looked nice.

Steak with pesto and rocket from Jamie Oliver’s 5 ingredients recipe book.

What will you be having this week?


Sunday, 18 October 2020

[Ad] How To Make A Vodka Garden Cocktail

 This vodka garden cocktail is refreshing and a must for any of you cocktail lovers out there.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend my first virtual blogging event with Moonpig. I have been a customer of theirs for many years, but this opened my eyes to all the things their app has to offer, the gifts available and the fact that a vodka garden is a delicious cocktail.

With Christmas looking decidedly different this year, moonpig are trying to makes things that little bit easier and personalised for everyone. With many great cards and some great features on their app that I would love to share with you (as well as a Moonpig discount code for downloading the app!)

5 Reasons to download the Moonpig app

1. If you haven't already downloaded the Moonpig app to your phone, then do. Don't worry you can choose how you set the notifications, but trust me, from experience it's reminders are a godsend. Also, if you download the app you can use the code APP20CA to get 20% off cards.

2. They have a great range of gifts. I am going to be truthful here, but before the event I would never have thought of buying flowers from Moonpig. However, the festive themed bunch they sent me were absolutely beautiful and came packaged well. They showed me how to make a table decoration with them and now 2 weeks later they are still going strong. I will let you know when the Christmas flowers are out for you to buy!

They also have chocolates, personalised gifts and even alcohol. The Belvedere Vodka is what they sent me to make the vodka garden cocktail. 

3. If you have an iphone you can upload your own handwriting. I loved this. I know that you can already chose a handwritten style, but this is just more personal. You can write/draw your message on a piece of paper and then upload it. I am definitely going to do this on the next card I send.

4.You can send orders to different addresses direct. I guess this is great with Christmas coming up. You may have designed the same card for a number of people and this way you can send them all directly, along with gifts if you choose. You just group them together.

5. There is a live chat to help you if you have a problem. I always love a company that has good customer service.

I had a great evening and for me, the best part was the virtual cocktail making session. I wouldn't usually go for a vodka based cocktail, but the vodka garden is like a lighter mojito. The cucumber and elderflower make it a lovely refreshing drink.

Vodka Garden Cocktail

  • 45ml Belvedere vodka
  • 25ml lime juice
  • 25ml sugar syrup
  • a couple of slices of cucumber cut into quarters
  • 25ml elderflower soda
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • ice
  1. Start my cutting the cucumber and placing it your glass. Using a muddler, squash it to release some of the flavour.
  2. Measure out the vodka, lime juice and sugar syrup.
  3. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
  4. Add 6-8 mint leaves and mix the ice and cocktail around.
  5. Fill to the top with elderflower soda.
  6. Add a sprig of mint for decoration.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Meal Planning Monday

Another week has flown past and I am trying to organise myself for the week ahead.

I took part in my first virtual event with Moonpig and I have some lovely cocktail recipes to share with you soon.

I think for ease, there will be a couple of meals out of the freezer and I have some more quick and easy meals to make from scratch too.

Salmon: I have a great cookbook called Keto Kitchen which is written by Monnie at Fats of life. She has a lovely recipe with where the salmon is baked in cream. I can hardly wait to make it again.

Sausage and mash

Scrambled egg and chorizo.  A favourite that we have often.

Ham, egg and chips. I like making this as any leftovers can be used in sandwiches.

Cauliflower cheese and bacon or chorizo. For this I steam the cauliflower so that it doesn't go soggy and then make a simple cream and cheddar sauce.

What have you got planned for the week ahead?


Sunday, 27 September 2020

Meal Planning Monday

 Weeks are flying past at the moment and meal planning is becoming more important to keep me on track with my low carb lifestyle. I am not sure whether it is the weather or the fact that I am now happy with my BMI, but the lure of quick and easy carbs is tempting me more and more. 

I have recently bought Keto Kitchen by Monnie Palmer from Fats of Life which is fantastic for quick and tasty ideas. I shall be trying some of these recipes this week. 

So what have I got planned for this weeks meals?

Chicken and asparagus with balsamic drizzle. This is from the keto kitchen and using chicken drumsticks. It is a one pan meal which means less washing up.

Quick and easy Pho Bo: Again another one from keto kitchen, this is a spicy beef dish that I am hoping tastes as good as it looks in the photos.

Salmon and poached eggs minus the toast for me.

Fajitas - as they are quick and easy. I will have salad instead of wraps.

Roast chicken. Again another simple meal that the boys love. If there is any chicken left over it can be used in sandwiches.

What have you got planned this week? 


Review: The Organised Time Technique

 You may remember that last year I reviewed the organised Mum method. I took away some helpful hints to keep on top of cleaning a house filled with messy children. This year, Gemma Bray shares with us the Organised Time technique. Let’s face it there’s never enough hours in the day, but Gemma shows you how you can make time for it all.

Identifying your “time suckers” was really important for me. Like many people, I spend far too much time on social media and that didn’t come as a shock. But I also have my work email on my phone and generally check that far too often. Meaning I get side tracked answering an email that could have waited until I was in work.

The book shows you how to organise your day into units and levels. After this you can work out how to save more time for you. I already meal plan which has saved me lots of time since returning to work.

Gemma's ideas made a lot of sense to me. "Work smarter not harder" is something that struck a chord. She also explained why it is ok to get a cleaner. Trust me, as soon as I manage to up my hours at work, I will be looking into implementing that idea. Before reading Gemma's reasoning, I would have been dead against this, think it made me lazy, but this is not the case at all. 

If you are a busy Mum, trying to juggle 101 things at a time then a read of this book is definitely worthwhile. There are hints and tips galore which can be adapted to your routine to give you more time for the things you want to do.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Meal Planning Monday

What a week last week was! Back to school for me and the kids and I hit the ground running. Mainly like a headless chicken. Anyone that thinks teachers have it easy has no idea. I am just hoping that over the next few months the social distancing measures work and that we stay in school. As work is full steam at the moment, and I want to get on top of things, meals will be quick and easy.  The boys have a karate zoom class as well so that will be a light meal.

So what is planned for next week?


Garlic and chilli prawns, but probably with courgetti as I'm still keeping the carbs low.

Scrambled egg and chorizo - nice and easy for when the boys have karate

Homemade burgers

Thai green curry

Chili Con Carne

Sausage and mash

What have you got planned for this weeks meals?


Monday, 31 August 2020

Looking Back At Lockdown

Tomorrow marks my return to school properly. I left in March thinking it would be a few weeks until I was back in properly. Little did I know that was not the case. Back in April, I wrote this post and just never got around to pressing publish. So as a way of remembering in years to come, here are 10 things I learned from lockdown.

1. I am a home body. It hasn’t bothered me as much as I thought it would that I am stuck within 4 walls most of the time. Infact, the only thing I am annoyed about is not being able to take my eldest to Thorpe Park and do the big five. But hey that time will come.

2. There are numerous times within a day when we could actually kill ourselves. The amount of times I've shouted, "be careful I don’t want to go to hospital!" is unreal.

3. A pet is a welcome distraction but I still don’t want one of my own. For the last couple of years we have looked after the science departments bearded dragon. Mainly as most people take a dislike to his choice of food. He is a rather elderly male who has lots of emotions. I have come to love him and now that I have accepted that he is quite old (he was a rescue dragon so no one really knows) I am less worried about him dying. When we first looked after him I was literally having sleepless nights over him. You see bearded dragons have various different behaviours and they always mean one of two things. Either they are happy and healthy or they are on deaths door. My endless googling in previous years has just lead me to believe he is probably Ol most of the time. But as no-one will chop up his vegetables or clean him out, then any pet we get needs to be one I want. Which means none.

4.It is fat or fit. Anyone that knows me, will know I am an all or nothing kind of girl. That’s why lockdown will go one of two ways. Either I will sit and binge watch The Tiger King whilst binging on Pringles and Dairy Milk or I will get fit. For my mental health I have currently chosen the later. I have downloaded Les Mills online and I am hoping the lockdown will continue for a while longer so that I might actually get a toned body. So far, however, it has proved to me that no matter how many times a week you do Body Pump, it is still really hard!

5. We are not a board game family. I kind of knew this already. But when you see everyone on Facebook virtually playing board games with Friends, you think you will try it again. Infact, I know, rather than a board game that will end in at least 2 people crying, we will go for something easier. Snap perhaps. Well only 1 person cried so I will take it as a win, but won’t be posting happy family pictures with board games any time soon.

6. Excuses. I make a lot of them. Especially when it comes to DIY. We haven’t painted the youngests room as we haven’t had time. So what excuse do I have now?

7. I like video calls. After working in telesales for many years I am not a phone person. Infact, the only people I ring are my parents and sister. However, recently I have been FaceTiming friends, and have started to wonder why on Earth I haven’t done this before.

8. Whilst I regard myself as a pretty good science teacher, the same does not extended to the teaching of my own children. I know nothing about the Tudors, have limited French skills despite an A grade at GCSE and have never had kids in my classes cry on a daily basis when we disagree about the work completed before.

9. Food. I’m obsessed with the stuff and can’t quite believe how much a hungry 12 year old can put away on a day and remain as skinny as a rake. Only ordering 80 items on a Tesco shop is not easy for a family of 5.

10. There is no one I would rather spend my lockdown with. Even if sometimes I don’t think they feel the same.

So that was back in April. Much of it still remains. It turns out that restrictions become somewhat tedious with no end in sight so I am less keen on the thought of going back into lockdown now.  I have managed to stay fit, and finally got round to painting the youngests room this weekend. Nothing like doing things last minute hey? Just like the government and their teacher guidelines. Now I just need to keep the bearded dragon alive for 1 more day......