A Strong Coffee

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......

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Glorious Cheese Recipes And #Cookblogshare Week 33

Cheese glorious cheese! These cheese recipes are perfect for any season and will not leave you craving meat.

Welcome to cookblogshare week 33. Last weeks linky was hosted by Michelle at Lost in Food. There were some great recipes ranging from vegetable side dishes to tasty treats. However, as a cheese lover, it was these glorious recipes that caught my eye.

Cajun Halloumi Burgers

This cajun halloumi burger from Donna Dundas, will not leave you craving for meat.
I love the idea of using garlic mayonnaise to compliment the cajun seasoning. One to try later on this summer I think!

Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Salad

This watermelon, cucumber and feta salad from Gluten Free Alchemist is the perfect summer salad. I love the combination of sweet watermelon and salty feta cheese. The pumpkin seeds and toasted pine nuts would give it an added crunch, so you could not call this salad boring. I also like the idea of using cucumber ribbons rather than chuncks.

Cheesy Sweetcorn Chowder With Bacon

As you know, the weather never lasts long in the UK, so when it turns, this cheesy sweetcorn chowder with bacon is perfect comfort food. Michelle explains that to get the best out of your dish you really need to used fresh corn and not frozen.

No Bake Cheesecake

Fancy cheese as a dessert? Then the baking explorer has a fantastic no bake cheesecake recipe for you. Personally, I love the lighter texture of a no bake cheesecake. Tips including, using a spring form tin will help you get really professional results.

#Cookblogshare 2020 Week 33

Want to join in with Cook Blog Share this week? Here is how:Link up your recipe, sweet or savoury, or any foodie post to the #CookBlogShare link party.  Just click the blue Add your link button below and follow the instructions.
Include this party’s link in your post (so everyone else can find it).
Add the #CookBlogShare badge to your post (see the code below).
Cook Blog Share

Please comment on at least two other recipes. You can also post your recipes on the Cook Blog Share Facebook Page. I’ll visit all the blogs participating in the link party and share your recipes across all the major social media channels. If you tweet a link to your recipe to @astrongcoffee1 @recipescrumbs and @lostinf00d using #CookBlogShare for retweets. Please use #cookblogshare when sharing your recipes on Instagram. Next week's Cookblogshare will be over at Recipes Made Easy. For GDPR purposes, please make note that by joining in you are giving the #CookBlogShare hosts permission to use your pictures in a round up and on social media, if your recipe is selected to be featured! Thank you for sharing your recipes with #CookBlogShare!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Chessington With Social Distancing

After a positive day at Legoland Windsor at the beginning of the summer holidays, we prebooked tickets to Chessington World of Adventures the following week.

If you are MAP holders you need to prebook tickets in advance for £1 each. Beware that just because you can usually turn up when you want doesn’t mean you will even get a slot now. merlin have heavily restricted pass holder tickets. You might not get an £1 slot but there will be full price tickets available. Yes it is annoying when you have forked out hundreds in passes but unfortunately it is just how things are at the moment. Passholder tickets are often released at different times, so whilst it may look like they are all sold out, they can become available later.

We arrived at Chessington at around 9.30. There was already a queue for temperature checks but it was fast moving. A quick bag check, then prebooked tickets check and we were in.

Unfortunately I couldn’t convince middle man to try out Dragons Fury, so we headed to The Vampire. The queue hadn’t officially opened (although I think hotel guests were riding) and was back up by the Gruffalo When opened it moved quickly and we were on in about 20 minutes.

We then headed to Kobra. This wasn’t listed on the app which meant the queue was walk on. I knew this would be long later in the day so we went on this for the first time. Turns out that it is tamer than Mia’s Riding adventure at Legoland.

As it was was warm we headed to tiger rock for a 10 min wait. Here was the first tine that social distancing wasn’t great due to a group of teenage boys in front of us. There are clearly marked paw prints and lines in most queues and most of the time people did adhere to these. Rides were often being cleaned and there was lots of hand sanitizer. The only issue was it smelt of pickled onion monster munch!

We had a quick go on scorpion express before heading to monkey swingers. This was the only queue I felt uncomfortable in. It wound round, did not have clear distancing and was long. I did think of giving up but this would have meant a walking past a long queue so not ideal at all.

Tuk tuk turmoil was walk on so we did this a number of times.

The queues for the big rides were all getting long, so after a quick picnic we went round parts of the zoo and sea life. There was a one way system around parts which one idiot chose to ignore and then was rude to a family that challenged him.

All in all social distancing was ok but not as good as the previous week at Legoland. That said, both park’s are significantly less than usual capacity. Personally, I have felt safer in the parks than taking my children to a play park where no one seems to be social distancing.

Have you been to a theme park recently? How did you find it?

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Meal Planning Monday

 It seems like yesterday that I was waiting for school to break up and now I am in a panic that we will be going back soon. Life has been busy trying to keep the boys off their devices.

Last week we made use of the "Eat out to help out" scheme which we all enjoyed. Unfortunately it started to rain as we finished our meal so we had to make a quick exit. As a family of five, we don’t often eat out due to the cost, so we have decided to eat out again this week. Especially as we were meant to be on a plane to Mexico and are instead spending the time at home. We have some activities booked so hopefully we will all be entertained and relaxed.

As the weather has been so lovely, We have been enjoying some BBQ’s. This will most defiantly continue this week.

So food wise, here are some of the meals I have planned for the coming week.

Spaghetti carbonara and garlic bread

What have you got planned?


Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Legoland Windsor With Social Distancing

If you are wondering what it is like going to Legoland Windsor with the new social distancing measures, then here is my experience from the first week of the summer holidays. Please note that all tickets (including passholders) need pre booking and it is rumoured that they will be slowly upping the capacity over the summer.

Last week we headed to Legoland to see what it was like with the social distancing measures. As merlin Passholders we needed to prebook tickets for £1 each and did this a couple of weeks in advance.

We arrived early (9.30), mainly as I forgot it doesn’t take long to get to Windsor. We walked into the park, after having bags checked and temperatures taken and no queue.

Normally you are “held” at the hill or miniland and this is not the case at the moment. Whoop whoop! We headed down the hill to the Ninjago ride and got in the queue outside waiting for it to open. As 10 am the queue moved quickly.

Next we headed to Mia’s riding adventure. It was walk on and masks need to be worn and a gap between each group.

There are hand sanitisers everywhere which we used a lot.

Laser raiders, wasn’t showing as being open on the app but was a 5 min wait so we did this next before heading over to Pirate Falls. The queue here was longer and as we reached the front it was time for cleaning which took an additional 10 mins. Most other rides being cleaned were much quicker.

Another go on Mia’s riding adventure before we stopped and ate our picnic.

We then had a wander round miniland. I loved the Kennedy Space Center even more than before, now that I have actually been there.

My boys are way too big for Duplo Valley these days, but we had a quick look just to see what it was like. Unicorn vomit springs to mind.

All in all, we were really impressed. Queues had got long after lunch but no worse than a usual summer holiday. Not all rides are operating and neither are the shows. Not everyone seemed to appreciate this even though we are in a global pandemic.

Generally, social distancing was really good and it felt as safe as it could be in the current climate.

Have you visited a theme park since the restrictions have lifted? How did you find it?

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Meal Planning Mondays

Another week has flown by. Whilst the pubs and restaurants may be open, we will be waiting until the summer holidays to eat. Feeding a family of 5 in a restaurant costs a fortune! Especially as now the boys eat off the adult menu. This week I am trying to use up some bits from the freezer, and haven't actually bought much meat.So what is on this weeks meal plan?

Garlic Pork In Black Bean Sauce

We haven't had this for a while. One thing I have found is that it is worth paying more for a brand of black bean sauce you like. Tesco have changed theirs and it isn't as good anymore.

Sausage pasta

Salmon and veg

Prawns with courgetti instead of ciabatta

Roast chicken. I have to say I was a little disappointed with y large chicken as I don't think there will be any for leftovers the following day.

Friday will probably be an easy from the freezer meal. I have been freezing some low carb meals, and the boys with probably have kiev and chips.

What have you got planned? Will you be off to a restaurant now they are open?