Cardiff’s Royal Wedding street parties

29 Apr

The sponge cakes have been baked, the sandwiches have been sliced, and Kate has made it up and down the aisle without tripping up.

Whatever you might think of the Royal Wedding hype, any excuse for a free party is a good one, and it seems that Cardiff certainly has its fair share!

With a total of 37 Council approved street parties to choose from, you’re unlikely to be very far from any of the zealous celebrations on offer today.

The team at YourCardiff have plotted a Google map of all the RW street parties that are due to take place today, so grab a bottle of bubbly and some cucumber sandwiches and join in the local fun!

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Pancake Etiquette (and other things)

8 Mar

It’s Shrove Tuesday today, and for the non-Christians amongst us; pancake day! What a bloody great excuse to stuff our faces with fried batter, right?


If you prefer to make your own pancakes, great. All you need is plain flour, milk, eggs, a pan and butter for frying, and some friends (because making pancakes from scratch for yourself is officially depressing, and sad.)

However, and I never thought I’d say this, but buying ready-made pancake mix is actually cheaper at the moment. Betty Crocker’s Shake to Make pancake mix is only £1 in Co-op, and all you need to do is add water to the dubious looking white powder, shake the bottle, and pour it onto your buttered frying pan. Each bottle makes about six-eight pancakes, so if you bought two bottles for a house of four you could really stuff your faces, and for only 50p each.

In terms of pancake toppings, obviously sugar and lemon juice is champion. Buy both from Lidl, or if you find they’ve run out of lemon juice, Sainsbury’s still has quite a few bottles left for 46p. Buying actual fresh lemons does taste nicer, but one lemon is only enough for two pancakes, and you’ll definitely end up eating pips.

If you fancy something a bit different this year, here are a few suggestions for alternative, pretentious pancake toppings:

  • Cream cheese, garlic and smoked salmon – smoked salmon cuttings are 95p a packet in Asda and Tesco. Fry some garlic in a pan, mix in half a tub of cream cheese along with a squeeze (or glug) or lemon juice and some salt and pepper, and heat for two minutes. Add the salmon cuttings, spread onto a pancake, roll up and eat up.
  • Pizza pancake – spread a thin layer of tomato puree over a pancake, add some pizza toppings of your choice (such as mushrooms, pepperoni, ham etc), sprinkle on some cheese and stick the flat pancake under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese starts to melt. Roll up and eat up.
  • Banana flavoured pancakes – For those of you that are making your own, add banana milkshake instead of milk to your pancake mixture (cartons are two for £2 in Tesco at the moment), then fry as normal for sweet, banana flavoured pancakes. You can add chocolate sauce, ice-cream or whatever you like to these pancakes once they’re cooked, but avoid lemon and sugar because that will probably taste disgusting.
  • Breakfast pancake – Bacon, eggs and beans in a pancake. Egglicious.
  • Creamy mushroom pancake – Mushrooms, garlic and butter in a pan together and fry for five minutes. Add half a tub of cream cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper, mix together and roll in a pancake. Like the salmon one but with mushrooms basically. Yum.

Pancake flipping tips:

  • Lube up the pan between each pancake. Oil, butter, pig fat, whatever, it’s highly necessary for effective flipping.
  • Be spatially aware – soggy pancakes on the ceiling and the floor, fine, but in the face or behind the cooker, annoying.
  • Loosen up your wrist – a stiff wrist is no use when it comes to pancake-flipping. Do some wrist rotations in both directions before you begin
  • Film it – something funny or unexpected might happen and you don’t wanna miss an opportunity to show off on Facebook.

Shrove Tuesday is actually supposed to be a celebratory feast of sugar and fats before the start of a month of somber fasting and penitence on Ash Wednesday. Will you be giving anything up for Lent this year? It is after all a chance to save some money somewhere (even though we should really be giving any money we save to charity, as is one of the main purposes of Lent.)

Here are some of my suggestions of what to give up for a savvy Lent:

  • Chicken breast –  It’s expensive, and it doesn’t even taste of much. Eat turkey or chicken thighs instead.
  • Shopping at Sainsburys –  Yes, Jamie Oliver told you to, and yes the new store on Woodville Road is convenient, but unless you can find Sainsbury’s Basics versions of everything (which don’t exist on Woodville Road), it’s a rip off.
  • Shop-bought sandwiches – Stop being so lazy, just make your lunch the night before.
  • Mid-week drinking – Tough one, I know, but holding back will save you money and calories…you can get the sober out your system at the weekend.
  • Washing your hair – Just think of all the money you could save on products…and apparently hair reaches its natural stage of beauty if it’s left for six weeks. This is probably only suitable if you live and work alone/don’t have any dignity left to lose, though.

Hungry but richer*

27 Feb

*Or less poor

Come March 1st I have decided to embark upon a personal mission to get fitter and eat less, all in the name of saving money (and looking good).

Those that know me well know that I enjoy my food. Despite my savvy ways it’s no exaggeration that about 80% of my spending output goes on food – I just love it. I’ve never really believed in self-deprivation when it comes to meal times, because they are usually my favourite part of the day, and I never used to think that enjoyable home-cooked food should be compromised by a strict budget. It definitely is possible to eat well on a budget!

However, two weeks ago I spontaneously booked a month-long trip to South East Asia in June with five other silly individuals. This kind of crazy behaviour does not really support the Cardiff on a shoestring ethos, I know. But anyway, with an uncertain future ahead in the ruthless world of journalism, I’m hoping that the memories of our little adventure will be an investment in life experience, and therefore worth the scary amount of money the whole thing is costing – well that’s my excuse to you lot anyway.

So with that in mind, I thought it was sensible to launch myself headlong into a real through-and-through budget lifestyle over the next four months, involving cutting my overall food intake and thus my overall expenditure. And also I want to look good in all the photos of me lying on the beach in Thailand and riding elephants etc etc…

This isn’t going to be too extreme though, I still plan to go out at least once a week, and although I might still have one or two glasses of wine or bottles of beer during the week, I won’t give in to Ben & Jerry’s offers or reduced price muffins. No I won’t.

I will, however, be attempting all of the fitness activities listed in my Getting fit in Cardiff for free post, on three days of each week until June. Check my Hungry but richer posts for reviews and ratings of the various free fitness options in Cardiff (excluding no. 3, because this is not that sort of blog!).

To conclude this extremely self-indulgent post, I invite any of you to join me in my quest to get fitter, healthier and leaner whilst saving money.

We start this Tuesday on St. David’s day! Say goodbye to unnecessary fattening and expensive treats tomorrow night – or perhaps celebrate your pending bout of health with a Welsh cake or two?

£8 dresses and free delivery from Boohoo today

13 Feb

One for the ladies!

Boohoo.com has a big sale on at the moment, including a range of £8 dresses. Now you might have to click through a few pages of tack (depending on your taste) before you find something you actually like, but there is definitely some decent stuff on there!

Out tomorrow night? Got nothing to wear and want to impress? type ‘TREAT’ into the promotional codes box at the checkout to receive free next day delivery – available until midnight tonight!

Please comment about any great Boohoo finds below!

Getting fit in Cardiff for free*

30 Jan

*or almost free

It’s still January, so if you don’t have that niggling urge to get rid of all your bad habits and make yourself that bit more amazing for 2011, then you should be feeling guilty.

I know from experience that one of the main reasons (or excuses) for giving up on new years resolutions to get fit is the cost. Gym memberships are just so bloody expensive! Spending 30 odd quid a month on getting sweaty and avoiding eye contact with people I know at the gym is not the way I would choose to spend my limited cash supply.

Here are some budget-friendly ways to get fit and healthy this year:

  • Layer up and go running. We’re lucky to live in a city with so few people and such good running space on offer. Commit to a weekly running routine and increase your pace and distance each week. You’ll notice a difference in no time, and you’ll be able to afford an extra pint at the weekend. WalkJogRun has some great running routes around Cardiff. It lists everything from 1.5 mile runs to 11 miles, depending on how cocky you’re feeling. If you’re into apps, the iphone Fitnio App tracks your distance and calories burned as you run – just like a treadmill at the gym! For some extra resistance, carry some small weights or bottles of water in your hands as you run to help tone your arms and waist.

 

  • Tone at home – it sounds obvious, but doing 10 minutes of resistance exercises in your bedroom every day when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night can be just as effective as doing a more intensive session twice a week at the gym. The internet is full of information and how-tos on home exercising. The Eight Minute Abs workout is supposed to yield pretty good results, and there’s all sorts of other simple exercises that can be done with limited space and time.

 

  • Have more sex – An average session can burn up to 100 calories, so having sex three times a week will burn you an extra 300 calories (that’s like, nearly a whole packet of supernoodles). However, improving your health and fitness is not an excuse to start slagging it up with everyone and anyone, as there are plenty of other ways to burn an extra 300 calories a week if regluar sex isn’t necessarily at your fingertips, like…hoovering and gardening.

 

  • Do something fun once a fortnight – Try out your local Zumba or Hip Hop dance class, or persuade a friend to have a game of squash with you at Cardiff University Squash Centre (cheaper hire than a leisure centre). Alternatively, for something different that doesn’t obviously feel like exercise, go rock climbing. Boulders Indoor Climbing centre offers sessions to students for £6 every wednesday afternoon – an amazing workout for arms and thighs! Similarly, Cardiff dry ski slope offers recreational skiing for £10 including hire, and Ministry of Paintball is offering a VIP paintballing package for £3.75 a person for students. Whether its all the running about, the adrenaline rush or the seering pain from paint ‘bullets’, a game of paintballing will certainly make you feel like you’ve had a massive workout.

 

  • Exploit free gym day passes – if you really are a fan working out at the gym, there are plenty of national companies that are offering free day-passes to their gyms in an attempt to lure us all into signing up for a full membership, many of which have gyms in Cardiff. Fitness First offers a one day pass, which can be downloaded and printed out from their website, and if you’re feeling generous, Vitality are offering a free two-person day pass to their health centre in Cardiff. Full gym memberships often come with a number of guest passes, so if a friend of yours has recently signed up to a gym, ask them kindly if they can use a day pass on you.

 

  • Want to diet as well as get fit? Special K are offering free two-week personalised diet plans at the moment if you sign up to their website. Their meal plans might not necessarily suit every budget though, so look out for my next post on cheaper alternatives to diet plans.

Free cinema tickets in The Sunday Times

9 Jan

There’s more than one reason to catch up on current affairs this weekend, as The Sunday Times are giving away free Cineworld cinema tickets valid this Sunday (09/01) and next (16/01).

The ticket tokens are only available with the print newspaper and not on the website, so I’m afraid you’re gonna have to actually get up and leave the house if you want them – the winter sun is shining brightly in Cardiff today so there’s no excuse!

The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Meet The Parents III and Love And Other Drugs are all showing at Cineworld Cardiff today and tonight, so we’re pretty spoiled for choice. I quite fancy some Danny Boyle-style inspirational shock to help ease me into mundane Monday…

Patience is a savvy virtue

7 Jan

You might have noticed on the news how thousands of Brits rushed out to the sales on boxing day, causing record numbers of cars on the roads and crowds in the cities.

It’s all very easy to view the January sales as a first-come-first-serve affair, but if you really want to get a great bargain, try and be patient and hold off a little bit longer. The main high street shops have to get rid of all their sale stock in order to make room for spring collections, therefore the longer you wait, the lower the prices will drop.

My advice is to hit the Cardiff sales on a week day or evening this coming week (attempt it this weekend at your own risk…).

Topshop are dropping their prices further every day at the moment. Here are some of my best bargain finds:

Striped Bodycon Skirt

This Jersey Bodycon striped skirt is selling at £7 in Topshop at the moment. It’s a great staple piece for 2011, and can be worn for work, a night out, or even just down the pub.

Jenna Knit by Motel

Knitted jumpers are still in fashion! Get this one by Motel for £15 and wear it with jeans, jeggings, leggings, a little skirt or joggers. It also could be useful in the summer for evening chills.

Bow Bodycon dress by Love

You can’t go too wrong with a little black one-shouldered number. This bowed bodycon dress by Love is an absolute steal at £10 in Topshop at the moment.

Sock Lined Clog boots

If this year is going to be anything like last year, it’s gonna be pretty chilly for a good few more months. Look chic in the snow with these cosy on-trend clog boots, reduced from £80 to £25.

Topshop also has some brilliant deals on their new make-up range. Bronze lip glaze is on sale for £1 and various eyeshadow palettes are selling for between £3 and £1.