Thursday, 26 April 2012

Number 21


First off I need to apologise for not writing for ages - I have many excuses, but the main one I think is that I have been avoiding admitting the truth to you, and have hid the embarrassing fact that I have once again put weight on. Since eater weekend I have been on a downward spiral of being an eating machine and slowly but surely putting the weight back on. I have so far added 3lbs back, and for some reason feel so unfocussed. I feel bloated, down, fed up and yet I still eat too much and things I'm not supposed to. Where did my determination go? I buy good healthy shopping every week and yet I end up going to or sending robs to the local shop to buy rubbish in the week. Not only is it playing havoc with our weight but our budget is taking a knocking too - feeding my sweet habit is proving to be costly.

I hope to be back on it soon, and for the determination to return.

I haven't done anything terribly exciting since we last linked up, but I am pleased to say that the house is finally spick and span once again - I even tidied under the stairs! Hehe. It is so much more relaxing to come home to, and I know Rob is feeling the benefit - he loves a tidy house, luckily however he never pressures me to do it.

This evening Robs and I are having a night without the boys (yes on a school night) and are off to the cinema to watch Marvel Avengers Assemble in Carmarthen Apollo cinema. I am so excited to see it (the comic book geek in me is also thrilled). Robs and I are both sort of geeks, in that we love comic book films and rewrites - The Big Bang Theory (Sheldon is the greatest), we both love to read sci-fi books and enjoy action figures - yes I did just admit to that. What more from a film could we want - set in America my favourite place on the planet - it has Iron Man, Thor and his evil brother, Hulk and Captain America to name but a few. One of my favourite things to do is spot the Stan Lee cameo in films too - so I will be eagerly watching and then pointing with a big smile on my silly geeky face!

This weekend is when my best friend Elin and I are off to Cardiff - I have filled you in on most of the details previously, but rest assured I will write an epic blog when we return telling you all about it, well maybe not all of it... I may leave out any messy bits...

Do any of you play Hidden Chronicles on Facebook? I do... I am addicted... I will be the best!

This segway's me nicely to my next topic - addiction - did you guess? I have an addictive personality. 'Whatever' I hear you all say, but I want to share it with you as it troubles me every single day. Don't panic though as I am not addicted to anything serious - I have never done drugs of any kind, I drink alcohol once every six months or so (but it doesn't really agree with my tablets) and I don't smoke. I was 16 when I tried it, I smoked 2/3 cigarettes and felt cool in front of my friends, especially as they were surprised I wasn't a coughing mess as it was my first time, then the following day I wanted another, stole one from my mother in law's stash, had one puff and it was so gross I have never touched them again! So, how do I have an addictive personality... 

I am addicted to several things - not in a bad way I don't think, but I'll let you make up your own minds about that. I am addicted to the internet. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Spotify and Blogger. I have three different e-mail address' that I frequent, and many sites I visit daily. I am obsessed with looking up cakes/biscuits/sweet treat sites regularly, and I am always streaming TV shows off TV Duck, Watch TV Sitcoms and Megavideo. A lot of the time I have no real need to be on any of these sites, but for some reason I have to check in, see what's going on, what new developments there have been, what new blog posts I should be reading, and how many pins people have liked. 
I am also addicted to TV. I have it on all day - I don't watch it all day but it's always on - I go to sleep with a DVD every night, and I feel at ease when there is no background noise in the house. If I find a show that I love I have to see all of it as soon as humanly possible, which then leads me back to the internet again and streaming it (why does America have everything before us?).
I am addicted to food... every single food that enters my mouth evokes some sort of emotion, if it's healthy and I'm feeling down already that I resent it. If I am eating chocolate I feel at peace and calm, then guilty as soon as I have finished it. If I snack in the day I feel naughty. I lie about food sometimes, and then end up coming clean to Robs later that evening about how much I have eaten, or 'stolen' (yes that's what it feels like) from the cupboards and fridge. Oh dear, I am nuts!

Back to the alcohol... I am not an alcoholic, however every single drop of alcohol that passes my lips is scrutinised to make sure I'm not enjoying it to much. Why? Well my father was an alcoholic, and unfortunately was never really sober for long, so my relationship with it has always been shaky. I like a drink, but I panic when I do. I have never once felt like I had t have one which is brilliant but I am always on the look out for any signs that I am heading that way. I even get nervous when robs drinks, bless him, he drinks once a month maybe, after a hard days work. But if he has more than one or two alarm bells go off in my head. He definitely hasn't got a problem but it doesn't stop me panicking.

My dad also had an addictive personality so I'm assuming it's hereditary. He was addicted to the above as mentioned ad also cigarettes and hobbies. He would go through hobbies around once a year - land yachting, windsurfing, knitting, sewing, computer games, and then back around again. So I can blame him for it... hehe. Especially as he is no longer here to argue that I am simply crackers and it's not his fault!

Well I will leave you to ponder my craziness, but know that if you are suffering with any of the above or know someone who is, your not alone! 

I will be back tomorrow to tell you about the film and it's awesomeness.
Lot's of love

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Number 20

It feels like so long since I have spoken to you! Ha! I know it's only been 7 days but still... did you miss me?
We are almost at the end of the boys Easter Holidays from school, and I have been found it really difficult to do things with them - my depression has been lurking more in the forefront of my mind this last week, which is just horrid, but After doing my finances the other day it has started to rescind back into the vast depths of my odd little brain. This past weekend (a four day weekend, woohoo) I have enjoyed having Robs home from work and we have managed to do some cracking  things with the kiddies.
Friday was spent watching movies, playing games and generally having a lazy day. We all very much needed it and have unwound sufficiently so be able to put our best feet forward in this new term that is upon us.
Saturday was spent working in the garden first thing and then off to visit my bestie and Robs sister Elin and her gorgeous boys for the afternoon/evening. This in itself is relaxing (Five kids all together I hear you cry - why yes!), as the five of them get on so well we barely hear from them at all. It is so lovely that they are so close and love spending time together, then home to trashy telly and cuddles on the sofa. Oh, also as a side note when we came home, we checked on our menagerie of animals and discovered that Stanley the slow worm had escaped from his vivarium and was no where to be seen (and trust me we searched everywhere), so an uneasy sleep followed.
On Easter Sunday, the lovely Easter bunny paid us a visit and gifted lots of treats to the boys (none to me, he knew I was being extra good) including Easter mugs, eggs, chocolate bars, lolly's, pencils, rubbers and the DVD of Hop - if you haven't seen this you must, I would have to give it 4stars, and it is a classic to watch at Easter. As we all sat down to out lunch Stanley appeared in the middle of the hallway slithering along the carpet, Stanley was quickly picked up hugged tightly with relief from the boys, and my tummy ache disappeared. I then dashed off to our local town to purchase a better vivarium than my home-made one to ensure he doesn't escape again. He is now happily re-homed with as many worms as he can eat, a plant for climbing, a log to bask on and hide under and a little pool for water. Needless to say he is a spoilt little slow worm! I bumped into Robs aunt, Nan and Datcu (welsh for grandad) while I was out so promised to round up the troops and descend on them for a long overdue visit that afternoon. Not before though, going to visit my mum and the boys having even more chocolate. Visiting robs family was wonderful - Olwena (his aunt) lives in the Cayman Islands so seeing her is a little geographically challenged, but she happened to be over for a visit - excellent timing - and we spent about 2 hours catching up and looking through old photographs. The boys fell in love her, and my little Mo became best friends with his great granddad, they were all spoilt too with as much ginger beer, milk, chocolate biscuits and welsh cakes as they could stomach. We left late after taking about 50 new photos to mark the occasion and the boys are desperate to go over again soon.

Monday was spent as a family day. We decided to take the children out - it was again raining and they are fed up of being in doors - to the cinema - Theatr Mwldan in Cardigan. We saw The Muppets and all of us loved it, we left singing the Mahna Mahna song and wanting to buy it as soon as it comes out on DVD - we saw first hand why Jason Segal got an Academy Award nomination for the music! We then went out for dinner to the Toby Carvery, which we all love, and were even given complimentary ice-cream sundae's! Home then for some r&r. 
Tuesday Robs was back at work (sob), so Mum and I took the boys to the Dinosaur Park in Tenby - and it was wonderful. All the rides are free with the entry fee (this was not the case 2 years ago, and cost a fortune) so they were able to go on so many things over and over. We did a long dinosaur walk and every time the boys found a Dino they would act out scenes for my to take with the camera - very very funny! It was so warm too which was lovely, I even got burnt! hehe.

The rest of the week has been spent just doing housework, playing and keeping the boys busy until Tuesday next week when they go back to school I have planned so much for the future over this 2 weeks to I can't wait to share it with you, so will get right on to it as soon as I have five minutes, or ten... maybe 30.

I hope you have had a nice break and enjoyed reading what appears to be more of a diary entry than a blog, sorry about that, and I will be back asap with another, more bloggish - promise!

TTFN xxx

Friday, 6 April 2012

Number 19

Hey y'all,

So I have quite a bit to talk about today. So go and grab a cup of tea and a couple of your favourite biscuits and sit and read with me for a while.

Firstly I have decided to cancel the BBQ I was going to have this weekend - why? Because the weather is up to some very odd tricks at the moment (global warming is very real!). In March we had spring - beautiful flowers blooming, light rain showers and some milder days, and then towards the end of March we had Summer - 24 degree heat waves, beautiful sunshine and far too many men walking about wearing sandals with socks (why?). Now we are in the beginning of April and we have gone back to winter - storms, gale force winds, endless rain and believe it or not, snow. How ridiculous right? So I have cancelled, even though in Wales we are used to some pretty crummy weather, I am not going to take it to the extreme and stand outside in the snow flipping burgers.

I have also been busy working on the children's book, I have finished and typed up the first story and have started adding illustrations to it - it looks really cute! Can't wait to finish it!

So yesterday I spent all day going though our finances. This was a tedious task, but gosh it feels better when it's done! I created a spreadsheet with three pages showing our income/outgoings, our debt and bank forecast for the next three months. Our finances have been in turmoil for some years, we have tried to fix it in the past and have almost managed it, but hen something seems to always come along and knock everything for six again, taking us back to square one. Well not this time (she says with fingers and toes crossed)! So being the honest person I am, I want to tell you what I did to get our finances back on track.

I created an excel spreadsheet detailing our in-comings and out-goings, their dates and amounts so we know exactly is going on money wise and then any defecit cn be used on our debts (on top of the monthly payments) to decrease them. This is called a debt snow ball. In the bottom rows - I used auto-sum to calculate the totals and then again to add and subtract them to get the deficit.

Then the nasty page - the debt. Now we have quite a bit but I have organised it (using the bank forecast page) so that by June 12th we will only have the secured loans and the mortgage left - Yey! Then we will be able reallocate the money we were using to pay the little debts on the bigger debts, thus clearing them in a shorter amount of time. Hence what I said earlier 'The Debt Snowball' effect.

On this one I have columns for amounts, months due, payments, totals and notes for phone numbers or completion dates. Then once I have completed clearing a debt I grey it out so it not only stands out but makes me smile knowing it's gone. Woooo! Also if you look in the note columns (all of this again corresponds to the bank forecast page) there are final payment dates for the debts for when they will be cleared - I put these here to spur me on to keep on track and to see our debt becoming smaller and smaller.

OK, so now to the final page - the bank forecast. This is what took me the most time as I had to correspond it all to the dates money comes in and when the bills go out. I used auto-sum to save me having to do the maths and confusing me further (there is only so much my little brain can take), everything tallies to the date I need to pay it with cash, card, or direct debit, and more importantly when we get paid! There is also a total column so I always know there is enough money every day to cover whatever needs to be.There is a column stating what I have paid and then once I have done it I colour it red, a bit like giving myself a little tick of good work. Just because we are adults, doesn't mean we can't have a little praise like the kiddies! 

Now the way I have incorporated the snowball effect is to use the bank forecast spreadsheet to show me when I will have a big enough deficit to clear the debts, or to make substantial payments on them. I start with the smaller ones and progress to the larger (the final one will be the mortgage), I then include them into the forecast making sure it doesn't affect further dates (the genius that is auto-sum again) and keep going like that until I am debt free, also marking them off on the debt page too.

Now I understand that this is a lot of work,but it is so rewarding when you can see the results of the decreasing debt and the amount left in the bank each week/month increasing. I hope I haven't bored you with this - but I think it could help if you are in a similar position to us.

Onto a recap of our lives thus far, in regards to the most wonderful and the downright crap in regards to money. I would imagine it is a similar story to many others that are in debt, but I thought I would share so you know your not alone in making bad decisions or having people cause problems for you. I have also added some images for you to peruse off our most memorable moments.
Outside our new home in 2002

In December 2001 I fell pregnant with my first son Mathew. I was still working at this point supporting us, and Robs was in college doing mechanics. We knew we needed to get a house as we were currently living with his parents and there wasn't enough room for a little one as well. We applied to the council and were very lucky to get this house, which we later purchased, in Llandissilio. 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, living room and a lovely large kitchen, it also had/has two huge gardens which meant our little one/ones would be safe playing. Robs left college to get a job so that we would have an income for our growing family, as I was having a horrendous pregnancy so left work earlier than planned. 

Fast forward to the August of 2002 and our little bundle Mathew was born and Robs started working with a man as a labourer. In the November Rob was still going to work but had stopped being paid. As Christmas was coming we made the decision to try and get some store credit (we now know this was a BIG mistake) so we could afford to have a good first Christmas together. 

 Mummy with new little Mathew & Daddy with baby Mathew

In the new year, Robs managed to get himself some more work (again labouring) fitting driveways. We were scraping by and making the minimum payments on our store credit. Towards the summer of that year (2003) the same thing happened, Robs continued to work but stopped being paid. The boss fled. So we were struggling again, and then came the credit cards. 

Robs then found another job building extensions on the secondary school Preseli in Crymych. Robs loved this as it was our old school where we had met and fallen in love, and where we hoped our boys would go when they were bigger. Six months passed and we were back to not being paid again and Mr. Boss Man disappearing without a trace. 

This time we got a loan - ha, yes, we really were that stupid. It fixed us for the time being but ended up causing more harm than good. Did you know if you can't make the required monthly payments on loans, store cards, and credit cards that they charge you an extortionate amount? Well, we began to learn this, and our debt crept ever higher.
That September, thankfully, Rob got a job with a building firm called TPT, who not only paid him every week but also put him through college on a day release course to become a fully qualified builder. YEY - some stability at last. 
We continued on like this until the October of 2004 when I gave birth to our second son Michael. 

Mummy with a very new Michael & Daddy with gorgeous baby Michael

Robs had a steady job, was getting qualifications and we were keeping going, paying monthly amounts on our debt.

On our wedding day 08/10/2005

In the March of 2005 we found out that we were eligible to purchase our house and could get a 100% mortgage - Woohoo we said. Robs had stable work and we could afford it. So deciding to do this took a few months but we were also told we could have a loan to go with it to bring the house up to a better standard, so we jumped at the chance and consolidated all the debt we already had - good bye store cards, credit cards and loan, and hello one easily manageable payment. Now being ever the optimists we thought things were on the up, and so decided to get married. This happened in the October and was one of the best days of my life (I will tell you about the day in a future blog). 

No money problems, we now owned a house, and we were happily married.

Robs finished his NVQ2 and NVQ3 and decided to look for another job (while still working I must say).

Fast forward now to 2006 and Robert's bother Barry had got himself a new job with a building firm and they offerred one to us which included letting Rob go back one day and one evening a week to college to get his HND in Building Management - we jumped at the chance and took it. The pay wasn't great but it was enough, with a promise of more as Rob progressed with his degree. We were constantly told that this was a secure job, lots of work in the pipeline and ongoing, so we were again feeling at ease.
Me and my precious little Mo

Time for baby number 3 - Morgan. Now this was a good pregnancy but with complications at the end which meant Mo was born premature, I didn't handle it too well and so Robs took a couple of weeks off work unpaid (so the bills mounted again), to help support me which was invaluable, and bonded us all so much I look back now an just think it was worth it.

Everything continued as it was (no pay increases as there wasn't as much work as they had said) until the October of 2009 when they started laying off workers - including Robs. Luckily Robs had a redundancy payment which tied us over for around a month and a half. Robs failed to find work after that, and became despondent with the building trade as a whole - having had so much bad luck. Now this is where it all got a lot worse.

A man Rob had worked with, contacted us as he was interested in starting his own building firm and wondered if Robs wanted to be a partner and go halves. Robs was by this point chomping at the bit to work, and had always expressed an interest in having his own company - something to pass on to the boys when they were older.

So after some trepidation on my part, we jumped both feet in as I will always support Rob. We took out another loan to give us a good head start if the business didn't work. The company was formed and started working quite quickly, work coming in steadily, all be it not that local and long hours. Robs put everything into it. Then came a job that caused us concern. A relative of the business partner offered a job that was worth a heck of a lot of money so was a big deal in both of their eyes. Now it was at this point that the partner's girlfriend stepped in and decided she wanted to become a big part of the business and control what was happening. This didn't go down to well with me as I didn't trust her as far as I could throw her (remember the trepidation?) and as she was a big girl I knew that I wouldn't be able to pick her up let alone throw her... Anyway Mr Business Patner ended up taking the money for himself (a lot). We had nothing to prove that he had done this as the invoices had gone to his personal account and no record in ours as his girlfriend had been handling it. Oh god right?! Thousands down the drain again.

We battled and fought, but in the end gave up and settled for 10% of what we were owed as we were both so stressed we were making ourselves ill by this point.
Robs then landed a self employed job for himself with a member of his family (which partially started a few weeks before the company ended) and would you believe it was the same old story again, working with initial invoice paid and then working for absolutely nothing :( and then followed silence on the clients end.

Well a few very, very painful months passed with no work, no money (except my earnings - I took on a, 14 hour a day, chef job to bring in cash). We got into so much debt we were about a week away from foreclosure on the house.
Robs friend in London managed to get him a job - which then meant that for 3 months Rob lived in London away from us, but the money was wonderful and meant we kept our house and car from being taken away. This was the worst time of my life though as we hadn't spent more than 2 nights apart since we were 16.
Work dried up in London and Robs came home, yey, but alas that meant again no money. We kept our heads up just, but the mortgage suffered again, then in July 2011 Robs managed to get a job with his current employer and we started to crawl our way back to normal. 

So in a very long winded way, this is how we got into, out of, into worse, out of, into again and are now trying to get out of debt. I thank you if you managed to stay with me through all that. So many other personal good and bad things happened in those times that just contributed to making it worse, but they are stories for another day.

I hope in whatever way, that I have helped any of you that have debt, to know you are not the only one and that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't always a train!

Lots of love to you all, and if you need any help with anything, or simply an ear to bend then I am here, just comment after this post or on my facebook page.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Number 18

Morning all :) 

As promised I am back and am very pleased to announce that I have weighed and lost a further 3.5lb this week - so that gives me a total of 22lbs lost altogether - yey!! I am very close to having lost 10% of my total weight and I hope to have got there before I go back to the doctors in the next couple of weeks.

In blog post Number 6 I ranted on about how disgusting people are for throwing their litter onto our beautiful countryside - well yesterday we all took the first step to cleaning up where we live and embarked with litter grabber, poo bags and a black bag to see what we would find. Unfortunately we didn't manage to complete one of the circuits I mapped out as once we got a third of the way our black bag was full so we returned home to try again tomorrow. How awful is that! about half a mile walked and a black bad filled to the top with bottles, beer cans, crisp packets, cigarette ends and all sorts of other rubbish that people couldn't be bothered to throw in a bin. It made us all very cross but there was a wonderful silver lining to our outing...

Stanley the slow worm. Yes, I know we already have two dogs, two fish, and a guinea pig but my children completely fell hook, line and sinker for him. He is a male slow worm (which we were very pleased about as the boys had already named him Stanley before we checked), he is about 12" long, silver/brown in colour with blue specks on his tummy, he has eaten a worm and a slug since yesterday and is very happy in the vivarium I created for him. 

Don't worry folks, we came home and googled for around an hour to make sure it was ok to keep him, how to look after him and make sure he was happy and comfortable - we are responsible owners for all our pets! The boys are besotted and spent around 4 hours cuddling him yesterday afternoon - even Mathew my squeamish son!

So yesterday I blogged about food and recipe's and it had a really good response so I thought I would give you a couple more of the menu item's recipes to change up your BBQ menu's.

The first is the marinated Chicken kebab recipe...
To make 4 Mango Chicken Kebab's:

1/4 cup (60ml) of olive oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp of fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 pinch of white sugar
1 skinless chicken breasts, fat removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
Pinch of salt
2 mango's, peeled de-seeded and diced
4 kebab skewers

In a plastic container or a food bag mix the olive oil, orange and lemon juice, brown and white sugar. 
Add the diced chicken breast pieces and ensure they are thoroughly coated, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight if you have the time to spare.
Heat your BBQ or grill to a high heat.
Season the chicken with the salt and then thread onto the skewers, alternating between chicken and mango.
Discard the marinade!
Lightly oil the BBQ grate/grill rack to avoid sticking and cook the kebabs for around 15 minutes or until cooked through on all sides (you'll have to turn the kebabs often).

MMM I am super hungry just thinking about those kebabs! Only a few days to go... So the next recipe I shall share is my stuffed mushrooms. These are so yummy, and as I use small ones they are perfectly bite-sized and very more-ish!

For 8-12 cheese and bacon stuffed mushrooms:

3 slices of streaky bacon cut into lardons
8 - 12 mushrooms with the stalks removed and kept to one side
1 tbls of butter
1 finely chopped red onion
90g of grated mature cheese

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or 180 if fan assisted.
In a frying pan add the streaky bacon and cook through.
Remove the hard end of the stalks and discard, then finely chop the stems
In a saucepan over a medium heat add the butter mushrooms and onion and cook until the onion is soft and not too coloured.
Remove it from the heat and add in the cooked bacon and 2/3 of the grated cheese.
Mix well then spoon evenly into the mushroom caps.
Place the mushroom caps onto a tray and bake for around 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining cheese onto them.

Don't they sound good? So pudding wise I'm not doing too much as I don't want to be over tempted but I do use a lovely recipe for hot cross buns that I will be making so thought I should share with you too. I can't take credit for it however as it is not my own but in fact Delia Smith's :) hehe - so here is a link to her site with the hot cross buns recipe:

Delia Online - Hot cross buns with a sweet glaze

Right off I go again :)
Hope you have enjoyed once more.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Number 17

So to begin a little update on the healthy eating...

I have now come to the realisation that there is not much I don't actually like, as an example yesterday I tried coleslaw for the first time and it was LOVELY! Having always thought that I didn't like raw onion or cabbage, then thinking well I actually quite like raw onion now and coked cabbage is nice too so yeah I'll try it, and what do you know I really liked it!

The biggest obstacle I have however is even though I like these things my head still say's no. So I am constantly fighting against it which get's to be a bit annoying! On the better side though I now have more things to try and I have been assured that my home-made coleslaw is the best so I am to try that next time I make it.

Yes I am aware that I am a little weird!

Ok... a lot weird :D

So to today's post and I am pleased to announce that I have finally come up with a concept for the story book - I won't say any more as yet but it looks cute in my head!! hehehe.

I have also decided (in the hope that the weather is nice) to have a BBQ next Saturday with all the family - Mum, my step dad and my Nanna, Robs sister and my best friend Elin, her lovely boyfriend tricky and our nephews Sion and Owain and of course my hubby and gorgeous boys! If I can too, although logistically it might be a pain, I would like to get Stephen and Christopher - Robs younger brothers - down too. I thought I would share with you some of the food I am going to make and their recipe's so maybe you can BBQ along with me, or use them for your next.

Red pepper beef burgers
Normal beef burgers
Minted lamb burgers
Marinated chicken kebabs
Pull apart cheese and bacon bread
Moroccan couscous
Mushroom rice
Jacket potatoes
Cheese and bacon stuffed mushrooms
Potato Salad
Chicken goujons
Sausages and fried onions
Honey and mustard Dip
Sour cream Dip
Mixed leaf salad
Hot cross buns
Easter themed cupcakes
Easter nest chocolate rice krispie cakes
Fruit salad
Fruit Punch

I don't buy my own burgers any more as I find the home-made ones so much better, healthier and tastier. So to start here is a recipe for my red pepper beef burger - they are so yummy, one won't be enough!

To make 4 quarter pound beef burgers:  (can also be used to make 8 smaller burgers)                        

1 lbs of fresh lean minced beef 
2 pinches of salt 
2 pinches of black pepper
1 tablespoon of dried parsley                                         
1 tablespoon Smoked paprika
1 finely diced red pepper                      
1 finely diced red onion
1/2 a teaspoon of Chilli powder
A good squirt of tomato ketchup

Combine everything together in a bowl, mixing well.
Divide in half and then half again.
Using cling film underneath, roll into balls then flatten with the palm of your hand (if you have a burger press use it now).
Cook in a medium heat pan or grill turning once until cooked to desired pinkness - rare, medium, well done.
Serve on a fresh roll with mayonnaise and mixed salad leaves.

I will also share with you the pull apart cheese and bacon bread recipe - which is something new but oh so good!

1 un-sliced loaf - a bloomer would be best
220g of thinly sliced cheddar cheese
100g of bacon lardons
115g of butter - melted
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary

Using a bread knife, cut diagonally across the top of the loaf but not completely to the base, then again in the opposite diagonal direction.
Place the slices of cheese in-between the cuts and sprinkle the bread with the bacon lardons (then push them into the cuts).
Mix together the melted butter and dried herbs then pour over the bread.
Wrap the entire loaf in tinfoil and place on a baking sheet.
Bake in the oven at 180deg or 160deg in a fan assisted oven for 15 minutes.
Unwrap and then continue to bake for a further 10 minutes.
Serve whole and invite guests to rip off chunks.

Finally for today I thought I would share with you my fruit drink/punch/smoothie recipe's - I have two and both are sure to be hits with the family! The first is a strawberry based one an the second is peach based.

To make 3/4 servings of strawberry surprise (for the kiddies or the drivers)

2 Cups filtered water

1 Tablespoon of coconut Oil (this doesn't add flavour but simply added for it's nutritional values - it can be omitted if you would rather)

1 tbls of maple syrup
2 tbls of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Cup Kale (large handful)
225g of frozen strawberries
A handful of blueberries
Simply put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth - sever over ice with a slice of strawberry on the edge of the glass, oh and a curly straw!

To Make 3/4 servings of Peach Fizz (for the adults that aren't driving!)

4 fresh, ripe, halved and pitted peaches or 2 tins of peaches in juice
1 cup of diet lemonade
4 shots of vodka
Lots of crushed ice!

In a blender add the peaches and lemonade and blend until smooth - try it and if you find it's not sweet enough - add a little honey.
Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice. 
Pour a vodka shot in each glass and then fill up with the blended peaches/lemonade.
Serve with a slice of peach on the rim of the glass and maybe a cocktail umbrella!

So these are my recipes - and an insight into how I like to do BBQ's in the our little house. I would love to know if you have tried any and liked them so feel free to comment in the box at the bottom of this or any of my other blog posts.

I will be back tomorrow with some decorated table and house ideas for BBQ's and also it is weigh day so fingers crossed for a good loss this week. I have been good, promise!

Right a morning of cleaning has passed and now I am off to write some scribbles down for the story books...

Bye lovely readers!!