*How to Host the Best Ever Barbecue

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So far it’s been a summer of Barbecues; the weather’s been so beautiful here in Wales (I mean who’d have thunk it?) that we’ve had or been to one practically every weekend.  I’m not complaining!  I LOVE a good barbecue, and over the weekend we hosted yet another one in our back garden, thanks to the lovely people at Marks and Spencer who recently sent me an email asking if I’d like to try some of their goodies for the grill.

So, having put a few successful barbecues under my belt this summer (literally, you should see my waist line…), here are my top ten tips for hosting the best ever barbecue. 🙂


1. Fire up the Grill at 3pm

There’s nothing better than banging barbecue weather, but standing next to the grill at midday – when the sun is blazing overhead – will have you melting faster than that slice of Monterey Jack crowning your burgers.  Spare a thought for your grill jockey and get the grill going at 3pm instead when it’s cooler and shadier.  It’ll also give you plenty of time in the morning to prepare the food and set up. 🙂

2. Keep your set up simple

The last thing you want to be doing when the whole neighbourhood is squeezed into your back garden is rushing around making sure everyone’s got plates, ketchup, napkins etc…  The best way to host a stress-free barbecue is to make sure people can help themselves to whatever they need, whenever they need it.  Create a “Pimp Your Hotdog” stand where all the sauces, buns and garnishes can be found, and set up another space for plates, forks (no one uses knives at barbecues!) and napkins.

When it comes to decorating, keep it simple!  Brightly-coloured streamers and pom poms will look great when there’s a breeze, while fairy or pontoon lights will keep the party going when the sun goes down.  Oh, and don’t forget a couple of citronella candles and wasp traps to keep those stinging party poopers at bay.

3. Serve Pitcher-friendly Drinks

Aside from bottled beers and cans shoved in a massive ice bucket, pitcher-friendly drinks are a great way to serve up some fancier drinks that everyone can help themselves to. Plus, they’re easy to prep and make up beforehand.  I served up these Peach, Apricot and Raspberry Floats over the weekend and they went down a treat!  Just smear some glasses with raspberry coulis and pop them in the fridge or freezer, then make up a jug of the Peach and Apricot Fizz.  Serve up with a hefty blob of frozen yoghurt and garnish with some raspberries and mint.  Yum!


4. Something to Keep Pets Entertained

Bungle is an absolute nightmare when he’s out in the garden.  He digs holes, chews on the plants and just generally likes to cause trouble.  So, when we’re having a barbecue making sure there’s plenty to keep him (and his friends!) entertained is a must.  First things first, make sure there’s fresh water handy and somewhere for furry guests to cool down – whether that’s a shady area or a massive paddling pool is up to you, but be warned, if you pick the paddling pool then you’re going to get showered with shake off!  Make sure there are plenty of toys out, as well as a few treats handy. I like to make Bungle his very own cup of frozen yoghurt with chopped up bits of cheese and sausage.  They’re super easy to make and he goes absolutely mad for them (…plus they keep him out of trouble for a good half hour…).


5. Serve up the *Best Ever Burgers

I mean, can you even call a barbecue a barbecue if you don’t serve up some show-stopping burgers?  Especially here in Wales; according to statistics we consumed 180,000 M&S burgers in the last 12 months – that’s enough to fill the Principality Stadium to capacity twice over!  You all know how much I love Marks and Spencer when it comes to barbecue food; their Posh Dogs make the best hot dogs (and you all know how fussy I am when it comes to Hot Dogs, right?).  Well, now they’ve taken the Grill Crown once again with their Best Ever Burgers.  Apparently, the M&S boeffins (see what I did there?) spent a whole year creating the recipe, playing around with different cuts until they came up with a juicy patty that’s got a little bit of added bone marrow for an extra hit of flavour.  (M&S is also the only national retailer in the UK that can trace every single bit of beef it sells in store, right down the exact cow that provided it.)  We served them up on the weekend with fresh salad, fried red onion rings, beef tomatoes, bacon (phwoar…), some Cheddar and Balsamic Burger Melts and a hefty smudge of Smoky Onion Relish and they were a huge hit.  Sunny grilled them to perfection on the BBQ and when he asked my brother and I how they were, we just nodded and mmmmm’d with warm juice drizzling down our wrists.  Oh yes.  We may have sneaked a few before everyone arrived… 👌


6. Something for the Veggies

But why should us rampant carnivores have all the fun, eh?  Veggies like my Mum love a barbecue too.  There are plenty of great vegetarian dishes you can cook up on the grill, from stuffed peppers and mushrooms, to these spicy halloumi kebabs drizzled with hot mango salsa.  Just remember to make extra because you can bet everyone else is going to want to have a couple too.  And remember, depending on how strict your veggies are, you might want to have a separate grill or disposable barbecue handy to prevent cross contamination.

7. Pick Simple Sides

No one wants to faff around cooking up fancy sides in the middle of a barbecue, so pick a handful of recipes that you can make ahead of time.  Plenty of salad, grilled sweet corn and chips are always easy to make up and go down well.  I like making these baked new potato wedges with my Chilli and Red Pepper Jam and chopped chives.

8. Don’t forget to serve up something sweet!

But make sure it’s not going to sweat in the heat!  Ice lollies and ice cream are great if you’ve got somewhere to store them where guests can come and go as they please, but there are lots of other options too.  Why not whip up a very messy Eaton Mess, or serve up some cake with plenty of fresh berries and ice cold cream? 🙂

9. Evening Games

I went to a barbecue recently where we played musical chairs, no kidding!  We’d all had a bit to drink by that point, and what started off as a game to entertain the kids turned into an adults only duel to the death.  It was hilarious!  Once everyone’s had their fill of food, it’s great to have some after dinner games to entertain everyone while the grill cools and the sun goes down.

10. Make the Cleanup a Doddle

“Let’s host a barbecue, it’ll be great!”  And it is, until everyone goes home and you’re left to scrub grease off the grill and clear up all those bottles (and the mud and grass that the dog’s trodden in through the kitchen…).  Make life easier for yourself and clean up as you go along or consider serving food up on paper plates to cut down on the late night washing up.  Also close doors to rooms indoors that you want to keep clean and tidy; that way guests won’t get lost and leave you with extra spots to scrub up at the end of the day.

How many Barbecues have you had or been to this summer?  I think we’re up to about ten and honestly, I could easy go for at least ten more 😉  Massive thanks to Marks and Spencer for all the glorious food! 🍔

Our Garden

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I think this is the first year in a while where we’ve had a proper summer.  So far, anyway!  And because the weather has been so nice we’ve spent loads of time out in the garden scoffing barbecue food and just soaking in the sun like the little solar powered creatures we are.  When we moved in to our house three years ago, the back garden didn’t really exist – it was just a muddy slope.  Three years (and a lot of hard work) later and it’s finally looking good.  I mean, it’s still a work in progress, but this is the first year that a lot of the plants we put in during those early days have blossomed.  It’s definitely one of my favourite places to chill – and it’s one of Bungle’s favourite places too (although he can’t really be trusted on his own out there because he likes to dig!). 🙂



Against the back fences we planted a couple of climbing roses that finally seem to be growing!  You know me, I love roses, and so I definitely wanted some in my garden.  Luckily our soil is perfect for growing roses in, although they’re way more upkeep than I thought they’d be; they constantly need spraying to get rid of insects and fungus, and trimming back to encourage more roses.



For my birthday last year Sunny bought me these colourful hanging pots which I absolutely love!  We filled them with pansies and geraniums and it nice having a bit of extra colour on an otherwise boring brown fence. 🙂



5 ways to get that Spring feeling (when it’s not Springing outside)

Is it just me or has this felt like the longest winter ever?  True to form the British weather has been a right old tease the past couple of months, from that false flash of Spring back in February to the March deep freeze.  And despite the fact that we’re now over a week into April, Spring seems to still be playing hard to get.  So, if like me you’re getting tired of waiting for warmer weather to arrive, here are few things you can do around that house to get that Spring feeling. 🙂

T Shirt & Sunglasses – Primark, Trainers – H&M (similar here), Scarf – really old! (similar here)

Have a Wardrobe Clear-out

On a soggy Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was bored enough to feel like tackling my wardrobe.  I made myself a cuppa, put Youtube on, scooped out my clothes and chucked them on the bed, and then I slowly started putting them into piles.  It actually didn’t take very long, but at the end of it I’d sifted out all the clothes I didn’t wear anymore and the ones I wasn’t going to need until next winter (I held a few jumpers back knowing full well that 1. Spring got lost in the post this year, and 2. Uh, Wales).  And bonus, I found some clothes I’d completely forgotten about, worked out what I was missing and made some room for some fresh Spring/Summer togs (you should see my ASOS wishlist…).  Ah!  That felt goooooood.

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Bring the Outside Inside

Ever since Bungle moved in, I’ve become a really neglectful plant parent, and over the winter my indoor greenhouse kind of turned into a plant mortuary.  Oops!  Last week I decided enough was enough and had a crispy leaf clear-out.  I got rid of all the dead plants, cleaned their pots and then trimmed, fed and re-potted the survivors (…there weren’t many… *ahem*).  It’s surprising how empty and bland the house feels without a bit of greenery though, and so – even though I should probably be banned from ever owning vegetation again – I’m going to think about buying some new plants. 🙂

Make a Spring/Summer Bucket List

Okay, so the weather’s crap and it’s just too miserable to go out.  So, I’m going to start making a list of everything I do want to do when the weather eventually cheers up.  That way, as soon as the sun makes an appearance there won’t be any dithering and deciding where to go and what to do!  I’m ready and raring.

Eat Fresh

I find it so hard to eat healthy when it’s cold and wet!  All I want to do is stuff my face with chocolate and pizza.  But I always feel so much better and more like summer is on its way when I ditch the heavy comfort food and start eating more fruit.  Time to look up some new recipes to try!

Deep Clean the House

There’s nothing better than having a good old Spring clean, and this year – let me tell you guys – a deep clean was definitely needed.  It’s been a wet winter and Bungle’s muddy paws had not only done a number on our carpets and skirting boards, but he’d flicked wet mud off on the walls so much that they were starting to look like a Jackson Pollock painting.  Before Easter I took a couple of days and cleaned the house from top to bottom.  And I mean really cleaned.  I washed the curtains, wiped and repainted the skirting boards and went through about five bottles of Zoflora, but IT. WAS. WORTH. IT. 

So whenever Spring actually feels like turning up, I’m ready for it!  Have a great week everyone! 🙂

On the Bedroom Wall

On the Bedroom Wall - Geometric Grey Wallpaper - The Cardiff Cwtch

It’s been a while since I’ve done a home post, but then we haven’t really done any DIY or made many changes recently.  Things have been… cosy!  That being said, in September Sunny saw some wallpaper online that he fancied putting up in the bedroom, and after dithering over it for a couple of weeks, we went out and bought it.  The problem was that we’d never wallpapered before and so the rolls sat in the spare room for a good three months because we were too scared to actually put them up!  Then, one drizzly January Saturday afternoon I decided enough was enough and that we were going to give it a go, and so we did! It’s a bit different (and a little bit Gatsby), but I love it!  ♡



On the Bedroom Wall - Geometric Grey Wallpaper - The Cardiff Cwtch
On the Bedroom Wall - Geometric Grey Wallpaper - The Cardiff Cwtch
On the Bedroom Wall - Geometric Grey Wallpaper - The Cardiff Cwtch

The good thing about this wallpaper was that it was a “paste the wall kind”, rather than a messy “dunk the paper” kind, which made the whole process a lot easier (and cleaner!).  the paste came with a kit that included a tray, roller, wallpaper scissors and a wallpaper knife – so we had everything we needed to do it!  The trickiest bit was lining the sheets up, but even that wasn’t too difficult. 🙂

On the Bedroom Wall - Geometric Grey Wallpaper - The Cardiff Cwtch
Wallpaper – Homebase (Sold Out!  Similar here), Bedding – Tesco, Flower Cushions – Marks and Spencer, Spotty Cushions – IKEA, Lamp – John Lewis, Bungle – not for sale!

On the Bedroom Wall - Geometric Grey Wallpaper - The Cardiff Cwtch

Have a great week everyone! X

How to keep cut Flowers looking fresh

I’ve said it plenty of times before, but fresh flowers are one of my favourite simple pleasures.  I love buying them, I love arranging them and there are a few spots in my house that just look really bare without a bright bunch of flowers sitting there (I know, first world problems, right?).  They’re just one of those things that never fail to put a smile on my face, especially during the dreary winter months… until they start wilting, that is!  😦

Since I buy a lot of flowers (Sunny’s always complaining that he never gets to buy me any because I’m always getting in there first), I’ve learned a few tips and tricks over the years on how to get them to last a little longer – most of which are dead easy!

Always remove all leaves below the water line

Make sure its only the stems that are submerged; you don’t want leaves slowly mulching in the bottom of the vase and making the water dirty (clean water = happy flowers!).  I always strip the stems completely and leave only a few leaves near the head.

Always trim the stems at a 45°  angle

Never ever just dump your flowers into the water before trimming off the bottom inch of the stems!  After cutting, bacteria makes its way in through the bottom of the stem, so you’re going to want to get rid of it.  Not only that, but cutting at angle creates a larger surface area for water absorption, as well as allowing the stems to sort of tip toe on the bottom of the vase which means better access to water.  And always trim the stems with super sharp scissors (pruning shears are better) to avoid splitting the stem.

Sear the cut stems in warm water

If any of the flowers are looking a bit limp then drop the stems into boiling water for about 30 seconds (a nice trick to bring them back to life!).  It’s also a good idea to trim off your stems under warm running water to prevent air from travelling up the stem.

Always use flower food

Using flower food doesn’t only feed the flowers, but it keeps the water free of bacteria.  Most bouquets come with a little sachet filled with flower food these days – but you can also easily make your own!  A little bit of lemonade will do the trick, but you can also use vinegar, aspirin, lemon juice or even a small bit of bleach.  Or make them a special cocktail of a few drops of vodka and one teaspoon of sugar!

Use Hairspray!

A bit of hairspray’s not only good to keep your ‘do in place, but also helps keep your flowers looking their best.  Stand back and spray a little under the petals and leaves to protect your arrangement.

Keep your flowers away from heat sources (and fruit?)

It should be obvious, but don’t put your vase next to the TV, in direct sunlight or next to a radiator.  Heat will evaporate the water and make the flowers wilt.  Keep them cool, but not cold.  Also – and this is a weird one – don’t put them near your fruit bowl!  As fruit ripens, it releases a particular type of gas that can actually poison cut flowers.

Last but not least, change the water every 2 days

If the water goes cloudy, that means it’s full of bacteria which can clog the stems and decrease the amount of water the flowers can drink.  So, every two days make sure at the very least that you’re changing the water, and – even better – chopping another inch off the bottom of the stems to prevent them clogging.

Have you got any old tips and tricks for keeping flowers fresh?  Have a great week everyone!  🙂