Sunday, 14 October 2012

Change


Change is in the air. The season has changed (and oh how I love it), I want to change my hair and in a matter of one week a big change will happen.

Matt and I will finally be living in our own house.

We've saved and sacrificed a lot to make it to this point. We've lived with my parents for nearly two years, we've taken only one holiday this year – a week in a cabin in west Wales, I've not bought nearly as many clothes and 'nice things' as I would have liked to. But it'll be worth it to have our own place where our family will really take a foot hold.

How it looked almost two months ago


Earlier today as I was cleaning our bathroom, it suddenly hit me that it'll probably be the last time I do it. Whilst I was in the shower I realised it was my last Sunday night shower in this house. I feel excited and I feel sad.

I feel sad to be leaving what has been a very happy family home for me, I'm going to miss my parents and brother like freaking crazy. I'm going to miss the comfort I feel of just being at home, I'm a proper home body. I'd rather be at home than anywhere else. I know I'm going to be homesick, I just know. But I know that I have to take the bull by the horns and enjoy what is to come.

Down in the valley is our new town


I'm excited because the prospect of owning my own home makes me feel grown up. At 27 and married I still don't feel grown up, I don't feel like I'm taken seriously by the world. Hopefully owning my own place will change that. I'm looking forward to decorating it and filling it with our clutter. I'm looking forward to owning an American sized fridge-freezer that gives you ice both cubed and crushed, I need that crushed ice!

Matt is excited because he gets to get a kitten. OK, so he's excited not to be living with his in-laws any more and because he gets to get a kitten.

Me, pondering the meaning of life spying on the neighbours. See my hair? Bleh, that's why I need a change.


Change is coming, and it feels good.

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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The one where they forgot to order

I can honestly say I never thought I'd write a review about TGI Friday (Newport Road), but I couldn't let the opportunity to write about what happened to Matt and I there last week go by.

After an insanely busy day in work last Wednesday where my 20 minute lunch break consisted of half a mug of absolutely vile soup Matt and I decided to go out for dinner and as I was so hungry when I left work we opted to visit the Newport Road branch of TGI Friday so I could make the most of their two courses for £9.99/£14.99 midweek deal.

I'll admit that Matt and I are fairly regular visitors to TGI Friday, with us going there for dinner maybe once a month (but does that make us fairly regular visitors?) We both know what we like, Matt likes the refillable drinks and the American theme and I like that Matt likes it. A while back we even had a favourite waiter, but it looks like he has left. I can hand on heart say that I've never had a bad experience there, OK so I'm not a fan of the birthdays on a seemingly constant roll and the prices are over inflated for what you're getting, oh and their chicken quesadillas are the worst I've ever eaten (enough onions already), but apart from those niggles it's an ok place generally.

Matt and I arrived at the restaurant at 5.45 pm, it wasn't busy and we were seated right away. We both ordered a coke which came promptly. Matt then ordered from the two courses for £9.99 menu, he ordered the mozzarella sticks to start followed by the classic American burger. I ordered from the two courses for £14.99 menu, opting for my favourite thing on the menu - the wonderous Jack Daniel's sesame chicken strips. Heaven in a bowl, seriously. As I was clearly in an unladylike mood and went for the Jack Daniel's full wrack of ribs, notice a theme?

Fifteen minutes after we ordered our starters hadn't arrived and I was ready to start gnawing on the table but Matt and I were deep in discussions regarding US politics (such is dinner table conversation when one of you is liberal and the other very much a conservative). After another fifteen minutes I realised that we had been waiting for our starters for 30 minutes, something was clearly wrong so I asked the nearest waitress how long she thought I food would be as we had been waiting for 30 minutes already. Five minutes later our original waitress came over to us and explained that she had forgotten to order our food.

You saw that coming, didn't you?

She apologised and told us that the kitchen was cooking our food as she spoke, she also informed us that the manager would be over to see us soon. I'll admit that I wanted to tell her to forget it and leave but Matt insisted on staying as we weren't really in a rush despite my being ready to eat anything that moved. The manager came over to us, he apologised saying that the waitress had a lot on her mind and that it didn't normally happen. He thanked us for being understanding and said that he'd do something for us with regards to our bill. As he was talking our food came.

My starter was good as usual although at least two pieces of my chicken were lukewarm at most. To be honest by the time our food arrived my appetite was starting to vanish, I was tired, hungry and annoyed that we had waited around 40 minutes just for our starters. After our plates were taken away it took another 15 minutes for our mains to arrive. The ribs were only ok, they weren't bad but nothing special. The onion rings were great though, crispy, slightly spicy and decently sized.

We were offered dessert but by that stage I was just ready to leave. Our bill arrived and I was shocked to see that it came to £4.18. The manager had written off our meals and had only charged us for the two cokes, seeing as over the course of our time there we got through five cokes between us I'd say that was pretty good going.

All in all while our experience was poor the way the manager handled it means that we would go back. It just goes to show that the way in which poor service is handled by staff can really make or break the whole experience.



 
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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Restaurant review - Chimichanga Cardiff

Over the last couple of months I've eaten out quite a lot, it's something Matt and I both really enjoy. Because of this I'm starting to discover that some places are fields ahead with regard to food and service, but it's mainly service that makes or breaks a dining experience for me.

On Tuesday evening Matt and I ventured into Cardiff city centre, Matt had a hankering for Mexican food and I'm never one to turn down a chance to eat Mexican. Seriously, I love the stuff. We headed to Chimichanga which is in St David's shopping centre, it's part of the food court there which isn't particularly great but you don't notice if you're sitting inside the restaurant. 

On arrival we were greeted promptly and given a choice of sitting inside the main restaurant or outside, as I don't like being watched by passers by we chose to sit inside. After being seated we were quickly asked if we would like drinks as well as any nachos and dip. Having eaten at Chimichanga in the past we had developed a tradition of always having their nachos and pico de gallo (priced at £3.75). This time we added cheese to the nachos for an added £1.00, something Matt is insisting we do from now on. The nachos were warm and crispy, the only quibble I have with the dish is that the pico de gallo isn't spicy enough and and could do with more coriander, but that's purely personal preference.  

For our mains we ordered Mexican chicken chimichanga (£10.95) and chunky beef chilli con carne enchilada (£11.50). Our mains came quickly and were served piping hot, the presentation was pretty good too considering how hard it must be to present Mexican food nicely.

Mexican Chicken Chimichanga - great presentation!

This was the first time I'd had the chimichanga and I don't regret it, it was great. The chicken inside was all white meat and the chef certainly didn't skimp on it, it was spiced perfectly and served on a bed of Mexican rice and black beans. It was probably one of the best things I've eaten at Chimichanga and I'd definitely have it again. 

Matt's Enchilada. 
Matt opted for the beef enchilada, which must have been good as he wolfed it down and when I asked if it was good he just about managed to mumble and nod at me. As an American Matt knows his Mexican food and out of any of the Tex Mex/Mexican/Latin inspired places in Cardiff Chimichanga is his favourite place to eat. 

Prices at Chimichanga are reasonable, with mains starting from £5.95 for a salad (plain ceasar) to £14.50 for a mixed fajita. Our bill came to £33.95 for one starter, two mains and three soft drinks which is not too shabby at all. 

All in all I'd say we had a good experience and we'll definitely be going back.

9 Bridge Street
Cardiff
CF10 2EF

02920 340220

Chimichanga takes walk ups, phone bookings and online bookings. 
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Sunday, 12 August 2012

My week in photos

I've had a bit of a mixed week, some of it has been great and some of it not so much. The debacle surrounding our mortgage continued into this week, it caused me a heck  of a lot of stress. So much so that I ended up getting ill and having an incredibly miserable couple of days where I would get home from work at 5.30 pm and just go straight to bed until 7.00 am the next day. Thankfully, on Thursday we received the news that the risk department of the bank were happy with Matt's visa situation so they would give us a mortgage. The financial advisor kept telling me that our case was really complicated when it was anything but, it was frustrating.

On Thursday it was the one year anniversary of my grandfather's death, I took the afternoon off work and a bunch of us took my nan out for lunch and a potter around. It was nice and without much emphasis on how crap it is now that my grampy isn't around. He wouldn't have wanted us moping around after him.

Here's a round up of my week.

Our house has a roof!!

Cardiff has a gold postbox!



The rugby season has kicked off with a friendly yesterday. We lost by five points but it was so good being back at the Cardiff Arms Park. Fingers crossed my season ticket will arrive this week.

Today my mum and I went shopping at an out of town retail place in Newport, I know that these out of town shopping centres are sucking the life out of city centres but they're so much easier to get to and I find them so much more relaxed. I swear I only went to buy some nude coloured shoes...

1. My haul, oops! 2. Present from my mum for the guest room. 3. Goodies for my hair and eyes. 4. L'Oreal Revitalift, I'm planning a post about this in the next few days.

Lovely summer dress from Peacocks. Reduced from £22 to £12 but I got it for £10 due to a fault on the zip. It's my fixer-upper dress.

By fault on the zip I mean that there's a gaping hole in the back of the dress where the zip has come away from the dress. 

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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Skincare continued

After months of putting up with terrible skin I finally caved and went to see the nurse this week. She was great and has prescribed me some cream that will hopefully help, although she did say that it will be six weeks before I notice the difference. In the mean time I'm trying to be good with my skin.

My current skin care regime is pretty boring really, I use Clinique's three step system.


I really love the toner and moisturizing lotion, I'd highly recommend them both. In the evening I supplement the lotion on my chin for Duac cream (on prescription). It stays on all night until I wash it off in the morning.

The most adventurous I get is exfoliating twice a week with Gentle Exfoliating Face Wash from Boots. At just over £2.00 this face wash is a dream, not to mention it smells unbelievably good. Seriously, I could eat it. But I won't, I'd probably be bitterly disappointed if it tasted disgusting.


For those of you wondering what on earth I use the ibuprofen gel for, well I've found that it helps relieve the pain from those yucky deep spots (yes, I realise it's pretty gross to talk about but we all get them from time to time). I use it very sparingly and only on very painful spots, if you do try and use this please remember that it's just the same as taking ibuprofen tablets so you shouldn't use it too often. Don't use it  more frequently than every four hours and no more than four times in 24 hours, don't go taking ibuprofen tablets at the same time either.

Fingers crossed I may have things sorted and the Duac will help break the cycle of infection that has caused the spots on the sides of my mouth for the last year.

If any of you have any must have products or skin clearing methods let me know!
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Sunday, 5 August 2012

My month in photos

Judging by the photos in this entry the last month has consisted of two things:

1) Food/eating
2) House related jobs

Whilst the whole food/eating thing has been mainly really, really yummy (seriously, I've eaten so much good food recently) it's showing on my waistline now. Skirts and trousers that fit me a year ago no longer fit, this is something that I find quite upsetting. I've always been slim, I was seven and a half stone for a long time, it wasn't until after I got married did the weight begin to creep on. I know they say wedded bliss and all that but things have been far from blissful in the last year and a half so I have nothing or no one to blame other than myself.

Things have got to change, I'm trying to make healthier choices from now on and I'm determined to find some sort of exercise that I enjoy. I was going to Pilates a few months ago but doing that once a week won't shift the pounds, all it did was help with my anxiety. My problem is that I don't like doing things alone and gym/fitness partners are really non existent. Matt refuses to exercise completely (damn his fast metabolism) so that doesn't help really as we both have a very sedentary lifestyle and despite currently hating how I look I find it hard to motivate myself to do something about it.

As for the house jobs, well what a faff the last few months have been. We've been strung along and lied to by the people we were buying a house from so now we're buying a lovely shiny new build, sadly we're now encountering people that have no idea what they're talking about. It's understandable though, how many people know the ins and outs of immigration law? Not that many is what I'm discovering.

Anyway, the house we're buying will  be lovely. It's a terraced townhouse, I have bags and bags of ideas for it. I'm looking forward to sharing them with you guys over the coming months.

1. Amazing salt beef sandwich from Coffee a go go in Cardiff. 2. Mineral Ice (from the States but available on Amazon) has been a life saver recently. 3. Our house in progress, as of yesterday the roof still wasn't on. 4. Mega lovely lunch from M&S. 5. I've been hitting up Yo! Sushi a heck of a lot recently, twice in the last week! 6. Picking our kitchen. 7. Rose I want outside our house. 8. Another lovely lunch thanks to M&S.


 
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Friday, 6 July 2012

Skin care follow up

In my last post I promised a write up of how I've been getting on with my skin care regime, I'd love to be able to come back now and write about how awesome my skin is looking but it's not.

After about six or seven weeks using Clinique's three step solution for type two skin I decided to have a go with their Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam, Clinique's website describes this product as:

"Step 1 of Anti-Blemish Solutions 3-Step System. Mild cleansing foam helps clear and prevent blemishes. Removes dirt and excess oil. Unclogs pores. Calms, soothes, reduces the look of redness. Skin feels soft, smooth, comfortable."

I only used the cleansing foam from the anti-blemish range as I loved the three step toner and moisturiser too much to give them up, I used the cleansing foam until the 125ml bottom was empty. It didn't clear or prevent my blemishes, nor did it help to soothe or reduce the redness of my skin. In fact during the time I used it my skin got worse. The bottle also lasted an incredibly short amount of time. Not exactly what I was hoping for after paying nearly £15.00 for it.

Following my experience with the cleansing foam I've decided that foams are clearly not for me, I just don't feel like they're actually cleaning my face and removing any oil or dirt. I've gone back to using the three step type two liquid soap and I've had much better results. The only issue I'm currently having is hormonal pimples, this means that I only experience two weeks of clear skin in a month. This is a big downer on me and it really affects my confidence, so much so that last Sunday I refused to leave the house because of my skin. Surely that's not normal for a 27 year old (happy birthday to me for yesterday!)

I've reached a point in my quest to get half decent looking skin that I've decided to go back and see a professional about it. I have an appointment with the nurse later this month to see what can be done so the battle with my skin continues!

To be continued...


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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Out of retirement


So it’s been…four months since I last had anything of any note to talk about. OK, that’s not necessarily true as I’ve had plenty of ideas for my blog but now that I’m using an iPad to access the interweb for most of the time blogging time has dwindled. That’s not to say I didn’t do research into social media (I’ve become far more interested in social media thanks to work recently) and make lists of what I wanted to blog about, I just couldn’t find the initiative to spend time putting my thoughts to paper, or screen.

For the last four months I’ve been fairly busy, house hunting has taken a lot of my time and energy up. Matt and I pondered moving out of Cardiff in order to buy a new build house, we looked at a new estate outside Cwmbran but the sales guy, price of the house and the size of the house put me off (not Matt so much). Then we were on the verge of putting a deposit down on a lovely townhouse in Newport, it was such a wonderful house! The house we were looking at buying was actually the show house for the estate but after talking to the neighbour who was very guarded in what he would say about the estate, taking into account the sheer size of the social housing part of the estate (yes, yes not a PC thing to say but when you’re about to drop nearly £200k on a house everything has to be right) and then some of Matt’s work colleagues told him that we’d be crazy to move to that area so we pulled out.

In the end we found a house we like in Cardiff for £40,000 less than the house we were looking at near Cwmbran, the only issue we’re having is that the current owners can’t move out until the end of August! We put an offer in a month and a half ago and so far it’s moving very slowly thanks to our bank who aren’t the brightest sparks when it comes to communication so it would seem. Hopefully the house will be worth the wait.

Here are some Instagram photos from the last few months.

1. I've been reading a lot of interior design magazines 2. Easter bunny gift from a colleague 3. Matt (before his hair cut - woe) on the first day of our mini holiday 4. Gift from myself for our house 5. Teddy after his haircut 6. Post work drinks and dinner with Matt last week
I have a lot more photos that I need to put up but that'll come soon, as will a follow up post to my last blog entry.
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Friday, 13 January 2012

Skin care



I've been plagued by dodgy skin since I was about 15 with my skin gradually getting worse the older I got. The amount of times I've cried because of cysts (oh yes, it wasn't like I could just get spots, I got cysts on my chin) I had, they were painful and unsightly. When things were very bad I used to hate leaving the house as my bad skin was VERY noticeable with even one so called friend teasing me about my skin.

Everything came to a head in 2008 when I couldn't handle the state of my skin anymore, I was working at a private hospital where I had access to some great dermatologists so I booked myself in to see one who specialised in acne. £90 and the humiliation of a doctor peering at my face, chest and back through a magnifying glass that he strapped to his head later and I was being bumped to his NHS list. The drugs he wanted to put me on were so strong that they were kept locked away in only one place in Cardiff.

I had an outpatient appointment (which was vastly different to the lovely private one) a week later, again I was peered at by the doctor but this time a medical student joined in - naturally she had gorgeous skin. I was asked to sign a number of consent forms which basically said that I had to go on/stay on birth control while I was taking the medication and that if I did get pregnant there was a risk that the baby would be deformed. When you are told these things by a doctor you realise just how strong the meds are that you'll be taking. My doctor notified me of the possible side effects, they were all pretty grim. I was told that I would need blood tests every so often as the medication could harm my liver.

All this in the pursuit of clear skin.

Off I tottered to get my blood taken (I'll skim over the part where I nearly fainted...) and then off to pharmacy to get the medication.

The next couple of months were pretty torturous to be honest, my skin all over my body became extremely dry and then started flaking off. I'm not talking about the odd bit of dry skin, I'm talking the palms of my hands peeling, my lips peeling. People in work thought I was ill. It was a whole other level of humiliation. I don't know how I carried on taking the medication, it was touch and go but I had to remind myself of why I was doing it. Things weren't helped when I was informed by an SpR on a trip to the hospital that my cholesterol was raised due to the tablets but in my mind clear skin was worth it.

The results of half a year on the medication was perfectly clear skin, I even braved going out in public with no make up on. I got compliments on my skin, something entirely new to me. Was it worth the pain, peeling skin and humiliation? Yes!

And here I am a couple of years down the line, cystic acne free. Thanks to coming off the pill last year thanks to mind crushing headaches I've got a bit of sportiness back but thankfully they're small and hormonal so I know I'll get a flare up for a few days but then they'll be gone again.

My skin care regime changes every couple of months, whilst in the States visiting my in laws in October I popped into Sephora (why don't we have them in the UK?!) and purchased a bottle of Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser which hasn't really done much for me other than keeping a little bit of oil at bay (I had NO idea that coming off the pill makes you an oil slick, ugh), so when I was in town on Tuesday I popped into Boots and had a consultation with one of the ladies on the Clinique counter where I was informed that I have type two skin. I bought a six week starter kit of their three step regime (£20) and then headed to Lush where my intention was to buy a pot of face mask to soothe the redness I was experiencing. I came out utterly relaxed after a wonderful hand massage and demonstration of some products, in the end I bought Angels on Bare Skin which is a cleanser that I first used about six years ago, and Cosmetic Warrior which is a face mask designed for combatting spots and to help soothe troubled skin.

I've been using my new products for three days and I already know that there is a difference in my skin. The Angels on Bare Skin gets every scrap of make up off and leaves my skin feeling silky smooth, I've been following this with the face mask and I kid you not my spots have disappeared and redness has dramatically reduced. After using the Clinique three steps in the morning and then applying my make up I am no longer oily, my make up has been staying in place.

Could this be my perfect skin care regime? Give me six weeks and I'll let you know but for now the signs are looking good.
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