Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Exploring Chester On a Budget

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chester is one of England’s coolest small cities. Packed with history stretching all the way back to the Roman era, exploring Chester on a budget is simple and awesome.

I’ve been to Chester five times now. My husband went to university there and still has friends in town, so when we want to get away somewhere familiar, this is where we end up.

There’s so much to do in this small city, and the architecture and atmosphere is just oozing with history. Particularly if you’re from a part of the world where nothing was there before the 1950’s. This means that if you’re up for a walk, you can see some incredible sights without spending any money.

St John the Baptist Church | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Free Sights

Chester is completely surrounded by Roman walls, and you can walk all the way around the ancient border of the city. Spend a few hours taking in the river, the cathedral, and the Tudor architecture. You can also explore the Roman Gardens and visit a creepy old church, St. John the Baptist, where a man was buried alive in a wall.

In the heart of the city, you can stroll along the Chester Rows and seek out the small, family -owned businesses amongst the chain shops. There’s something lovely hiding in just about every corner.

They also have a small local museum, The Grosevenor Museum, that’s free if you need a break from the weather. Also, Chester Cathedral is stunning and free to visit.

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Worth the Money

If you’re up for a bit more walking after dark, I’d also recommend a ghost tour. You’ll learn a lot and have a totally different perspective on the city in the morning. Some tour companies advertise free walking tours, but you should definitely leave a generous tip at the end.

Chester Zoo | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you have a full day and a bit of cash to spare, the Chester Zoo can’t be beat. Tickets are pricy (we’re lucky to have a connection for free tickets), but you’re also making a contribution to support animal conservation which is something we’re deeply passionate about. You can save some money by booking tickets online at least a week in advance. By far my favorite part is the free-flying butterfly house. It’s absolutely magical. But they have all the cool animals in a beautiful environment. Check it out if you can.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of expensive hotels in Chester. We even splashed out and stayed in the Chester Grosvenor on our last visit, using my husband’s student discount. While it was certainly luxurious, I’ve been just as happy staying in smaller inns and guesthouses. We’ve stayed at Lloyds of Chester Hotel in the past, and while not exactly glamorous, it was clean and comfortable. It’s just a short walk from the train station and another short walk to the heart of the city.

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Where to Eat & Drink

You know eating is my favorite thing to do, so you’d think we’d have tried more restaurants in Chester. To be honest with you, some of the best meals we’ve had have been at chain restaurants. On our last visit I had an absolutely delicious carbonara pizza at Pizza Express. I was a little drunk, but I think it’s still pretty awesome. We also had the best nachos I’ve had in the UK at Firejacks which is a chain but was new to us. Good nachos are hard to find in Scotland, so I couldn’t resist.

Burger Shed 41 is a local place with a killer chipotle peanut butter burger. Skip the shakes, though. They were thin and disappointing.

If you’re looking for a cool place for a drink, I’d recommend the Marlborough Arms for a quiet week night drink or Alexander’s for a bit of music with your booze.

For tea and cake in the afternoon, we enjoyed Bridge Street Roastery. They had a great selection and weren’t super pretentious like some coffee shops can sometimes feel.

Exploring Chester On a Budget | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Guidebooks might suggest you go to The Boot Inn, supposedly the oldest pub in Britain or something like that. Current management is puritanical and takes all the fun out of the simplest things. I’d also give Hanky Panky Pancakes and Hickory’s a miss. I was disappointed by both.

My favorite thing to do in any city I visit is just be. Walk around, explore, get lost. Chester is an ideal place for this. I’ve been several times and still haven’t gotten bored. Get yourself to Chester. It’ll be awesome.

Basic Bloomer | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Basic Bloomer

Basic Bloomer | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Basic Bloomer is easy enough for even a beginning bread baker. It’s got a great crust on top but stays soft inside. You’re gonna want to use it for everything.

I love taking on new challenges and new projects. If life is too easy, I get bored. Perhaps this is why I’ve moved around so much. I like telling myself that it’s because I’m so smart, and I just have to keep my brain active. More likely it’s just because I’m trying to avoid something I don’t want to deal with. Keeping my mind busy stops me from spiraling into depression, so I take on new challenges.

Last year, I decided I wanted to get better at bread baking. I still have a ton to learn, but I think I’ve made some slight growth. It’s not like I’ve been super dedicated to the endeavor. I know some people bake bread every week. I’ve made maybe eight to ten loaves this year of different varieties. Some have come out beautifully, like this Basic Bloomer, and others have been pretty awful.

Bread baking is not something you can really learn from a book or a video. Bread is alive, and it’s different every time you make it. There are half a dozen variables that can affect your dough on any given day, from the temperature and humidity of your kitchen on the day to the particular batch of flour you’re working with. There’s chemistry and biology going on in there. Fermentation, alchemy, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t really understand. Bread baking is all about how things feel, and for that, you probably really need a teacher. And tons of experience.

Basic Bloomer | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Well, books and videos are all I have at the moment, unless someone wants to come to my house and be my bread guru. But just from reading a really helpful book, Paul Hollywood’s Bread, I was able to create a reliable result with this Basic Bloomer. If you’re interested in learning the art of bread baking, I’d highly recommend this book. There are lots of step by step pictures for things like kneading and shaping your loaf that you can only learn by lots and lots of practice.

This particular Basic Bloomer loaf came out a bit dark on top because I have the worst oven in the world. Yours will probably be a bit less brown. But even with this flaw, I couldn’t stop eating this bread. It didn’t last long enough to become sandwiches. It barely lasted long enough to be a soup dipper. The pillowy softness of this bread is unbelievable. I kept going back for slice after slice, eaten simply with salted butter. I may have had this bread with butter and honey for dessert one night.

Basic Bloomer | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

If, like me, you’re a bit intimidated by homemade bread, this Basic Bloomer will help you overcome your fears. I promise, you can do it. And even if it comes out looking a little wonky, it’s still going to be completely delicious. Let’s bake bread, friends. It’s gonna be awesome.

Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood’s Bread.

Easy Chili Cheese Dip | How to Be Awesome o $20 a Day

Easy Chili Cheese Dip

Easy Chili Cheese Dip | How to Be Awesome o $20 a Day

This Easy Chili Cheese Dip is so simple, absolutely anyone can make it. It’s also impossible to stop eating. Perfect for game day, game night, or any gathering. Get your friends together, and dig in.

I’ve lived with a proper football (aka soccer) fan for so long, I don’t even know if people still watch American football. I have fond memories of everyone getting together at the weekend to watch what seemed like endless football. I was never really interested in the games, but the food was always pretty awesome.

Because it’s all supposed to be “man food,” whatever that means, you don’t have to pretend to be healthy, which I love. Though I’m guessing there are probably plenty of vegan football fans these days. And that’s cool, too. Not gonna lie, though, I’m here for the hot cheese dips consumed with an endless mountain of tortilla chips.

Easy Chili Cheese Dip | How to Be Awesome o $20 a Day

This Easy Chili Cheese Dip is exactly that kind of food. People don’t really get together to watch the game here, so we just sometimes eat this for dinner because we’re horrible people. And by horrible, I mean awesome. It’s spicy, cheesy, gooey, and irresistible.

And as the name suggests, Easy Chili Cheese Dip is unbelievably simple to make. Spread a baking dish with some cream cheese. Mix together a can of your favorite chili with a jar of your favorite salsa. Scatter some shredded cheese over the top. Bake. Eat with chips. Live your best life.

Easy Chili Cheese Dip | How to Be Awesome o $20 a Day

Make Easy Chili Cheese Dip any time you get together with friends. Football, basketball, board games, book club, heck break this out at a baby shower and watch everyone lose their minds. This is the food you really want to eat. Let’s do it.

Recipe adapted from Circle of Friends Cookbook – 25 Dip and Spread Recipes.

13 Awesome Warm & Cozy Recipes

13 Awesome Warm and Cozy Recipes

13 Awesome Warm & Cozy Recipes

I’ve started digging out my chunkiest sweaters and cozy socks. I now basically put on my bathrobe as soon as I get home from work. We’ve agreed that it’s fully acceptable to drink nothing but tea. Winter is coming, friends. And we all know what that means.

I’ve put together a baker’s dozen of recipes to keep you warm and cozy this season. There’s something for breakfast, some great soups, a few awesome casseroles, of course, dessert, and hot chocolate. Duh. There’s something for everyone.

Dutch Baby Bunny | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Start your day all warm and cozy.
Dutch Baby Bunny – Best eaten straight out of the oven

Chicken Corn Chowder | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Winter means cooking everything in one big pot. Try these.
Chili with Gnocchi – This is spicy chili plus extra carbs which is what winter food was made for
Risotto Bolognese – A cozy twist on your favorite pasta sauce
Chicken Corn Chowder – Absolutely packed with goodness
Spicy Chicken Chili – Always the best
Ham & Potato Soup – A great use for leftover holiday ham

Cornbread-Topped Chili Mac | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you’re not gonna put everything in one pot, you should bake everything in one casserole dish.
Cornbread-Topped Chili Mac – Spicy, carby, covered in cornbread, basically everything
Picky Eater Enchiladas – You’ll be desperate to dig in, but try not to burn your face off

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding from Awesome on 20

Something sweet to keep you warm
Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding – Serve warm with booze
5 Minute Microwave Lemon Cake – For warm and cozy dessert emergencies
Molten Chocolate Cake – I mean, molten is in the title

Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Hot chocolate is the coziest of all
Vanilla Hot Chocolate for One – You just have to
White Hot Chocolate – A sweet twist on a cozy classic

I hope you enjoy these awesome warm and cozy recipes. Stay warm. Stay awesome.

Apple Butter | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Apple Butter

Apple Butter | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Homemade Apple Butter is easier to make than you might guess. It’s sweet and warmly spiced and will add a unique punch of flavor to so many things. Use up any ugly apples that might be hanging around your house to make this absolutely gorgeous Apple Butter.

Apple Butter | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’ve lived in four different states in the US. Five if you count those two months in Texas. I also spent two years in Taiwan, and now I live in Scotland. From here in Glasgow, we’ve been able to travel to six different countries in Europe. I’ve had the opportunity to try a lot of different food in my life which is pretty impressive considering I mainly ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the first 20 years of my life.

For a while, there was this tiny restaurant near us in Honolulu that did American Southern food. It was called Kiss My Grits, and I would drink at least a gallon of sweet tea every time we went there. My favorite thing was their creative biscuit sandwiches. Sadly, they closed down not long after we discovered them, but luckily I was able to remember and create my own easy version of one of their outstanding biscuit creations.

Kiss My Grits made everything, including the pork sausage, from scratch, but for my Sausage Egg & Cheese Biscuit with Apple Butter, I used canned biscuits, Jimmy Dean sausage, and store bought Apple Butter. My lazy version is still pretty damn awesome.

When I wanted to make this again here in Glasgow, I had to go to a bit of effort because one thing you learn from living all over the world is that you can’t get everything everywhere, even from Amazon.

I’m getting better at biscuit-making, and I’ll share the super easy recipe I used for my biscuits soon. Today, though, is all about the Apple Butter.

Apple Butter | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it is to make your own Apple Butter. Even just a few apples make plenty to go around. Use any apples you like. Different types of apples will obviously give it a subtle difference in taste. I used the apples I happened to have lying around the house in a moment when I thought I’d surely eat more fruit. I never do.

The only thing you need is a medium sauce pan and a food processor. We don’t even have to peel the apples. Chuck some chopped apples and a few other basic ingredients in a pot. Let them simmer until the apples soften. Puree them in a food processor, then cook this down further with some spices. Put it in a jar and enjoy. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for a couple of weeks.

In addition to that biscuit sandwich, you can also use your Apple Butter on a grilled cheese. Spread it on croissants, English muffins, or toast. Serve it with pancakes, waffles or French toast. You could even spoon it over ice cream. You’ll want to make Apple Butter all the time.

Apple Butter | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I hope you try and love this Apple Butter recipe. We could all use a little more sweetness in our lives.

Recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil.

If you make this recipe, be sure to take a photo and tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #awesomeon20.

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