Please Rain On My Parade!

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We’re still in August but the cooler temperature of the last few days has been an indicator that Autumn will be here before we know it – and I couldn’t be more thrilled! It’s pelting down with rain as I’m writing this post but instead of feeling dismayed at the grey skies I cannot wait for Autumn to arrive which is most definitely my favourite season.

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As a Summer baby, the irony that I don’t ‘do hot weather’ isn’t lost on me. I put it down to the fact that I’m a Londoner, and that the cold and the rain is what I’m used to but then I know that that doesn’t count for much as most Londoners crave the sun – mainly because we don’t usually have any! But I’m most definitely an Autumn-bordering-on-Winter kind of girl. When planning our wedding, the original date was to be in Winter (Mr. D’s birthday to be  exact) but the reaction from our guests – who acted as though we’d just announced that our wedding was gong to be held in a morgue – made us reconsider. So as a compromise, we held our wedding in the twilight month of September: technically Summer but with a more Autumn feel.

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I understand that to say you don’t like hot weather is like saying you don’t like chocolate, can’t stand Friends or never listen to music! I’m not totally sure where my negativity regarding the Summer comes from because I’m quite sure I loved it when I was a child.  I put it down to the fact that as I got older I became less tolerant to the sun (or maybe the sun became less tolerant towards me!) But I don’t see anything great about sweating like a spa; having your make-up slide off your face; getting heat rash  and sunstroke… I could go on and on. Sure we get to indulge in ice-cream, barbecues, picnics, give our summer clothes an airing, and drive with the top down if we’re lucky enough to own a convertible. But for me, the colder months have more appeal.

So why do I love Autumn so much? Well…

1. If it gets too cold, you just put on extra layers. What do you do when it’s too hot? I don’t live near Miami Beach so running around in a bikini is not an option!

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2. I’m very much a jeans and boots kind of girl, but who can wear boots in scorching hot weather? I love the ballet style pumps I live in throughout the warmer months but it feels so good to be back in a pair of knee-high boots!

b4e6a25b83ef8c80e736e40fc392ece53. I love my snug, cosy jumpers, sweaters and cardis.

b6d50e938049e42d1175d6ed956511464. The colder temperature means lots of frothy, hot drinks. I love the wonderfully flavoured hot chocolates and coffees that are available. Gingerbread, eggnog, pumpkin pie lattes… bring it on!

9dac74f8b853b89380b8696fdc948ac55. All the best holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Bonfire Night, Christmas and Valentine’s Day – take place during Autumn and Winter.

91ef87c27baacc591457da8c505abb1b6. There’s no denying that blossom looks gorgeous in Spring but there’s just something naturally stunning about the simplicity of Fall colours. Plus walking ankle-deep in fallen leaves reminds me of my childhood.

e0e4af7801503de99673e4e9991824ec7.  It’s the perfect excuse to lie around in cosy pjs, with a warm blanket watching movies all day (providing it’s the weekend of course!)

jam8. Comforting soups, stews and stodgy puds were made for this weather!

c22bf7b45c460be365672c6fdcc6810d9. There’s something quite beautiful about a  dark city street, after it’s been raining and seeing the street lights reflected on the glistening ground.

imagesHAY40OMF10. If you think miserable weather means being cooped up indoors, think again. Some of my best nights out have occurred during cold and wet weather.

imagesJNYNTT8111. …but if you do decide to stay in, sofa Saturday nights with takeaways, booze, movies and mates are fab.

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12. You can ditch the exercise plan as you won’t be getting your bikini bod out for a while!

images52SLUESX13. It’s great news for holidaymakers and soon-to-be-marrieds as everything tends to be cheaper around this time.

919cba7fcc60496198876a96b44c36ad14. No one wants to be stuck indoors during the Summer, especially not in a hot kitchen, but Autumn’s great for practising your baking skills.

af17f96ebd70102e575eadee310cb16815. There’s an extra hour in bed!

child-sleeping16. It’s great to fall asleep to the sound of falling rain.

swr17. The crisp, cool weather makes for great walks.

322594c5e6154444c0e2aacd2bec075918. Who wouldn’t like to sit in front of a real log fire?

imagesBS01HPVG19. Packed tubes, trains and buses are way more bearable when it’s cold.

efee4-imagescap4210j20. I can wear my beloved scarves and not look like an idiot!

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I can’t wait to say

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Bring it on!

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Video

Auntie Fee’s Kitchen Rules

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If the name Auntie Fee means nothing to you, then Muthaf***er, where have you been?

Auntie Fee

Auntie Fee

 

As someone who enjoys cooking shows, I am totally blown away by the latest hot, new chef on the cooking scene, who’s most definitely stirring things up in the kitchen. Based in South-Central LA,  her cooking methods are a little unorthodox; she doesn’t use ingredients that you need to order online; she’s not too fussed about presentation, and she’s got a mouth to rival Gordon Ramsay’s. Her video clips which she posts on YouTube have gone viral and I’m wondering how long it’ll be before she gets her own show. I’m talking about new American cook, Auntie Fee, also known as Chef Sista Girl.

Two weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of Auntie Fee, real name Felicia O’Dell. But now the latest cooking sensation has the world in stitches with her culinary antics and expletive- laden commentary, all filmed by her son Tavis Hunter who acts as cameraman – and often gets an ear-bashing from his mum due to what she perceives to be annoying questions, unhelpful input and dodgy camera work. If you’re looking for the genteelness of Delia, the seductive charms of Nigella, or the perfection of Martha – forget it because as the name of her Facebook page states, Aunty Fee Keeping It Muthaf***ing Real In The Kitchen, Muthaf***er!

 

Auntie Fee's son and cameraman, Tavis

Auntie Fee’s son and cameraman, Tavis

 

Auntie Fee’s choice of language is most definitely a little on the colourful side – and that’s putting it mildly – so she’s probably not going to be a hit with those who are easily shocked or offended. However, most people evidently think she’s awesome, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV chef so entertaining since Nancy Lam and her henpecked hubby, Ben.

The first time I happened to stumble across one of her video clips, where she made ‘something sweet for the f***ing kids,’ I watched it three times consecutively and howled with laughter. In fact my laughter could be heard all the way in South Carolina (Mr.D was Skyping his bestie at the time!) At that time there was very little info available about Auntie Fee, but she did have a Facebook page which at the time of liking, had less than ten likes – now there are thousands! Talk-show hosts have been clamouring to get her on their show, but even though Auntie Fee was allegedly holding out for Oprah, she did make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live via Skype – and we got to see Tavis for the first time – last weekend, where she made a five minute meal using shrimp and garlic bread – and as expected she brought the house down!

My friends and I cannot get enough of Auntie Fee and her antics, and as annoying as it may be for some people, we quote her on a regular basis. Forget literary figures and noble statesmen, this cooking sensation has some real gems. We’ve watched her prepare raisin turnovers, egg rolls, chicken wings, a noodle soup dish, and a strawberry shortcake. A lot of Auntie Fee’s cooking is aimed at families on a budget or people who don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. Admittedly, it’s not the healthiest of food and doesn’t always look appealing (sorry Auntie Fee!) If you think Delia got a lot of stick for preparing food with her rings on, wait until you see how Auntie Fee seasons her chicken wings – not for the faint-hearted! And Auntie Fee is well aware of the criticism regarding her levels of hygiene and makes defiant references to it during her clips.

 

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But whatever you may think of her recipes, one thing’s for damn sure: Auntie Fee is a breath of fresh air in an industry where some chefs take themselves – and food – way, way, waaay too seriously. Auntie Fee may be at the other end of the spectrum but she is hilarious with it, and I for one cannot wait to see what else is on the menu.

Someone give this lady and her son their own show!

CLASSIC AUNTIE FEE QUOTES

1. “I don’t know what the f*** this is. It’s just something sweet for the f***ing kids.” – When asked what she was making.
2. “Muthaf***er, this is not no prison food.” -After Tavis cheekily asks if what’s she’s making is like prison food.
3. “I need to get me a f***ing cameraman cos you trippin’.” – Getting annoyed with Tavis’s questions.
4. “Goddamn it, I ain’t got no muthaf***ing name for it yet, muthaf***er!” – Just before she named the sweet treats ‘raisin turnovers.
5. “I don’t give a damn whether they broke or not. You smash ‘em out how you wanna smash ‘em out.” – Clearly not one for following instructions.
6. “This muthaf***er make any f***ing thang taste good!” – On dried parsley.
7. “Cook it for three hours if you want it to fall off the muthaf***ing bone. I swear this s**t will.” – On cooking chicken wings.
8. Aunty Fee: “I meant to say that you was my assistant. But instead I said you was my informant.”
Tavis: “Yeah, don’t ever say that again.”
9. “We had it for dinner last night. I don’t know where your fat ass was.” – To Tavis.
10. Tavis: “So this like the ghetto way of doing things.”
Aunty Fee: “We don’t talk ghetto okay? I’m not ghetto.”
11. “Oh but that Jimmy Kimble, Jimmy Kimmy, what’s his name? Jammy Kimmy…” – Unable to say Jimmy Kimmel’s name.
12. “You got an old Crisco can by your sink, then you a mutherf***ing G.”
13. “Now I can wet this with my hands if I want to, because this is my mutherf***ing shit.” – On sealing pastry edges.
14. “Tavis the camera better be on me. We only got one shot at this.” – Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
15. “Say something so I know we communicating!” – To Jimmy Kimmel

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When It’s The Students Who Inspire The Teacher…

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I feel a little sad today.

I had to say goodbye to a student who had been in my class since April. He was a delightful student and an absolute pleasure to teach. I only wish all of my students could be like him.

I’m thankful that I work in an EFL college and not in a mainstream school as I really don’t think I’d have been able to handle the pressures that go along with that territory – mainly difficult pupils and their even more ridiculously difficult parents. I have family and friends who work in secondary schools so I hear the horror stories. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t come across my fair share of awful behaviour. I’ve had students who are impolite, arrogant, ignorant and thoroughly unpleasant to be around. They’re apparently here to learn English so as to improve their chances of getting work, but who on earth would want to hire people with that attitude who are more than old enough to know better, I really don’t know. There have been times I’ve dreaded going into class – which is a ridiculous thing to say seeing as I’m the teacher – but that just goes to show how miserable the situation can sometimes be. All I can do is hope and pray for the day when the worst of the bunch leave – although I have no idea why it takes so long!

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And then there’s the other end of the spectrum. There’s the kind of student who makes you want to go into class every day. They’re attentive, courteous, eager to learn, full of questions, respectful, and always have time for a laugh and a joke. Basically, they’re smiley, happy people – my kind of people. And you just know that, unlike the above, they have all the qualities that will see them go far in life and succeed. I certainly hope so because the world is in short supply of fantastic people like these and we could do with more of them.

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So my brilliant student who has finished his course and is now heading home to continue with life as normal has inspired me to write this post. But my students actually inspire me in more ways than they know – even though it’s probably my job to inspire them. They’re the reason why I work hard at being a better teacher, and why I try to be more patient, understanding and encouraging. But they’ve inspired me in other ways too. I see what they do and I want to be more like them. No, I don’t mean getting legless at the school parties we have at clubs around the city – although I have no problem with that! But I see the effort they put into learning a language; the experiences they’re having; the countries they’re visiting; their love of travel; the way their eyes light up when they see something new… and it makes me want to experience some of that for myself. So much so I’ve decided to get back into studying languages again and would love to experience time away in another country.

It’s not just the students who are learning…

…teacher is too – and I have my amazing students to thank for that.

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Happy Birthday To Me! Chez Mrs. D Is A Year Old

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I cannot believe that Chez Mrs. D is a year old today! Where has the time gone? thank you WordPress for the reminder!

I’d wanted to do a blog like this one for a long time before I actually got around to doing it. The first few initial attempts didn’t quite work but then I brought it home to WordPress and Bingo! Chez Mrs. D. was born!

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All of my blogs are very special to me in one way or another – after all, they’re all my babies! And I definitely have a lot of love for Chez Mrs. D. It celebrates my love of being Mrs. D which is without a doubt the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s also a reflection of the real lives of women up and down the country around the world! After all we love having a cuppa with our mates around the kitchen or sharing cocktails in the lounge, where we put the world to rights; have a giggle; have a grumble; have a cry; give tips and handy hints to make each other’s lives easier, and share our experiences and the benefits of our wisdom. What I love about Chez Mrs. D is that it’s not about one particular subject. Here, you’ll find posts based on a multitude of subjects, so there’s something for everyone.

Fr. Ray Kelly: I owe it all to him!

Fr. Ray Kelly: I owe it all to him!

 

In the beginning it was very much like shouting into an empty room: I was speaking, but was anyone listening? I was writing, but was anyone reading? For a while, it seemed as though nobody was and I was beginning to lose heart. But then came the post about Father Ray Kelly, the Irish Catholic priest who performed that beautifully moving rendition of Hallelujah at the wedding ceremony of Chris and Leah O’Kane – and the views for Chez Mrs. D skyrocketed! Just as Fr. Kelly couldn’t believe his new-found popularity, I couldn’t believe mine – although admittedly, he definitely had the edge over me!

And since then I’ve seen this blog go from strength to strength. Chez Mrs. D still has a long way to go, and there are still tons of plans that I need to put into action for this blog, but as it’s only a year old, I think it’s done very well.

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I would like to thank everyone who has supported this blog during it’s first year. Thanks for the likes, the comments, the follows etc. The response I’ve had has always been positive and very much appreciated.

Here’s to another fantastic year!

 

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Passion Fruit Mousse

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Passion fruit mousse is supposed to be the closest thing that Brazil has to a national dessert. It’s not hard to see why. Mousse? Great! Passion fruit? Amazing! I absolutely love tropical fruits, so this dessert is right up my street.

Prep: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time

Serves: 4

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 4 passion fruit, pulp and seeds scooped out
  2. 150g sweetened condensed milk
  3. 175ml fresh whipping cream
  4. 4 lemon shortbread thins, to serve

METHOD:

  1. Put ¾ of the passion fruit pulp and seeds (reserve the rest for decorating) in a food processor or blender and whiz to a purée.
  2. Push through a sieve into a bowl, to remove the seeds.
  3. Add the condensed milk and stir until smooth.
  4. Pour the cream into another bowl and use a hand-held electric whisk to whip until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold through the passion fruit mixture, 1/3rd  at a time, until combined.
  6. Spoon into small serving glasses and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
  7. Spoon the reserved passion fruit over the mousses and serve with the lemon thins.

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Citrus Sorbet Cups

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Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

 

A cool way to serve ice-cream and sorbet.

 

METHOD:

  1. Cut citrus fruit (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.) in half.
  2. Squeeze out juice.
  3. Scoop out any left over pulp.
  4. Cut a thin slice off the bottom so that the cups sit flat.
  5. Freeze until firm.
  6. Use as serving cups for scoops of sorbet.

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Sweet Griddled Pineapple

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Pineapple is one of my favourite fruits, and it’s so versatile – it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes; makes an excellent mixer in cocktails and can be eaten both raw and cooked. This is a great dessert to serve as finale to a barbeque.

Prep: 5 minutes

Cooking: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 4

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 pineapple, quartered lengthways, leaving the skin on
  2. 4 tsp Fairtrade caster sugar
  3. 1 tsp Fairtrade ground cinnamon
  4. 1 lime, cut into wedges

METHOD:

  1. Preheat a griddle pan or barbecue to medium.
  2. Cook the pineapple quarters for 2-3 minutes on all sides until just softened and a little charred.
  3. Just before removing from the heat, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.
  4. To serve, cut away the fruit from the skin and cut up into slices.
  5. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.

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Pepper Dipping Bowls

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I think these pepper dipping bowls are an awesome idea for serving up dips, sauces, salsas etc. at parties. It’s especially for individual portions because then afterwards you can eat the bowl!

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

METHOD:

  1. Cut the stem ends off washed peppers.
  2. Dry with a paper towel.
  3. Remove seeds.
  4. Test the base of each  pepper, and if necessary cut a little off , to make sure that the peppers will stand up when filled.
  5. Fill with a variety of dips.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips and crudités.

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Pineapple Coconut Fizz

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Pineapple and coconut make a great partnership, and this mocktail is perfect as a refreshing summer drink.

Prep: 5-10 minutes

Total: 5-10 minutes

Serves: 4

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

INGREDIENTS:

  1. ½ x medium pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped, reserving 1 skin-on slice, cut into wedges, to decorate
  2. 200ml pineapple and coconut juice drink
  3. ½ x 28g pack fresh mint, washed and chopped, reserving a few sprigs to decorate
  4. Crushed ice
  5. Soda water to top up

METHOD:

  1. Put the pineapple in a bowl and crush using the end of a rolling pin.
  2. Tip into a jug and add the pineapple and coconut juice and the chopped mint.
  3. Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice, then pour over the pineapple mixture.
  4. Stir with a cocktail stick, then top with soda water
  5. Decorate with the reserved pineapple wedges and mint to serve.

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The Coolest Ice Cubes Ever!

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I can’t believe how hot it is. I swear I’m melting away. I know England cries out for hot weather but seriously this is just too much. I feel like I’ve been locked in a sauna. People may pray for the sun but in my opinion, hot weather is so overrated – and that’s coming from a summer baby! Beach babes are able to look effortlessly hot as the temperature soars, and I’m no different. I’m able to look like a hot, sweaty mess with no effort at all!

 

So in this heat, it’s no wonder my thoughts have turned to keeping super cool. For me it’s cold drinks – and I’m knocking them back like there’s no tomorrow. And cold drinks mean ice, which right now is a necessity. The summer season means parties, weddings, barbeques etc where ice and drinks will go hand in hand. But the problem with ice cubes is that they can be pretty boring to look out and as great as they are at keeping your drinks cool, they’re also great at watering them down (which is only OK if you’re drinking water!) I did a post a while back about creating an ice-bucket - made from ice. It proved to be very popular and inspired this post about livening up the humble ice-cube in terms of appearance (presentation is important, you know!) and taste!

1. GOT TO BE HOT TO BE COOL!

Image from lifetricks.co.uk

Image from lifetricks.co.uk

Everyone knows that if you freeze cold water, you get cloudy ice. But freeze boiling water and you get crystal-clear ice. And that’s really important if you’re going to add other ingredients to your ice cubes.

2. THE HERB GARDEN

Image from boston.com

Image from boston.com

 

Add washed sprigs or leaves to the water before freezing. Mint ice-cubes are great in iced-tea (Mr. D’s fave) or fruit punch; rosemary or thyme are perfect with home-made lemonade; basil works well with gin, vodka or rum based cocktails,  and lemongrass ice-cubes in pineapple or apple juice – WOW!

3. CITRUS FRESH

Image from goodfoodideas.com

Image from goodfoodideas.com

Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are a very obvious choice as slices are often served with cold beverages. But you could also try experimenting with pieces of grapefruit, pomelo, blood or ruby orange. These will work with still or sparkling water; as well as a variety of sodas, cocktails and juices.

4. BERRY NICE 

Image from tastespotting.com

Image from tastespotting.com

If you want pretty as a picture ice-cubes, berries are the way to go. They give a fantastic burst of colour and a fruity flavour to drinks. Raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries etc. could go in whole, although strawberries would probably have to be sliced. They would be perfect with iced tea, lemonade, sodas, berry, cherry, pomegranate or cranberry cocktails or juices, and raspberry would also work well with orange or peach juices.

5. TROPICAL PARADISE

 

Try pieces of pineapple, kiwi fruit, lychee or dragon fruit for a touch of the exotic. These would be a welcome addition to coconut water, a multitude of cocktails and tropical fruit juices.

6. SALAD DAYS

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

Cucumber, celery, red, yellow and green peppers might be more at home in a salad bowl but these can be really refreshing served with still or sparkling water or in a Pimm’s (my absolute fave – summer just isn’t summer without it!)

7. EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES

Image from shaadicurry.com

Image from shaadicurry.com

Add some washed, fresh rose petals to water before freezing. I adore the delicate flavouring and aroma of rose as an addition to food and drinks, and it is amazing with pomegranate, raspberry and other berry based drinks.

8. IF THE SUMMER HEAT ISN’T ENOUGH…

Image from blond-logic.hubpages.com

Image from blond-logic.hubpages.com

 

… then try adding cut pieces of chilli to your ice cubes. This will give a light heat to drinks and complements citrus, pineapple, papaya and mango based drinks. Just remove some of the seeds in order to reduce the level of spiciness.

9. GLITTERING COLOURS

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

Add some edible glitter for sparkle or food colouring for a marbled effect. These obviously won’t do anything in terms of flavour but they will make the ice-cubes in your drink look so pretty, so it might be good for those who want to keep the taste of their drinks pure.

10. DITCH THE H20

Who says that ice-cubes can only made with water. It can be annoying when ice-cubes water down our drinks. So freeze cola for cola-flavoured ice-cubes; pineapple juice for pineapple-flavoured cubes; iced tea for iced tea cubes… you see where I’m going with this.

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

And of course you can combine any of the above and freeze them in water if you really want to be creative with your cubes. Try rose with raspberry; pineapple with lemongrass and ginger; cucumber with mint… the possibilities are endless!

Let’s hope the only thing that melts in the heat wave is the ice in your drinks! Stay cool.

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