Dec 30, 2013

easy teenage mutant ninja turtle cupcakes

Once again the Little Guy's birthday has rocked around and talk turns to what sort of cake he'd like. Of course we are foolish people and have set the bar way too high for ourselves in previous years with Scoop, Fire Engine and Iron Man.

This year I was determined to have an easy Birthday/Christmas season and didn't want to commit to any seriously complicated cakes.

Little Guy had requested a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake but we sweet talked him into accepting cupcakes. When I posted the picture on Facebook of the finished product it had more views and comments than just about any other photo I've ever shared!

These cakes were seriously easy, we used a packet mix and dyed the icing a pale turtle green.  Then we used 'snake' lollies as the head bands and a premade 'writing icing' to draw on the mouths and stick on the eyes (small chocolate beads) . You could even just draw the eyes in with the same icing  as the mouth.  Initially we thought the wiggly snakes wouldn't work as well for the headbands as the straight ones but what it did was give them all different facial expressions which looked quite cute.

All the ingredients we used are readily available in the supermarket and didn't require any great cake decorating skills. And the results were fantastic! !

Dec 28, 2013

My home town: Brisbane

Yesterday we heard from guest blogger Kendra Thornton about her home town of Chicago.  Today we'll talk a bit more about my town of Brisbane.

I've shared with you before some of the best bits of Brisbane.  You can see some of my previous posts here, here and here.

Welcome to Brisbane – my home town – and capital of the Sunshine State (Queensland).As the name suggest  it does get pretty hot in Summer but that’s what are beaches and pools and air conditioning are for! While Summer is hot and humid,  Autumn and Spring are beautiful in Queensland with warm, clear days and cooler nights.  I love Brisbane because it has something for everyone from foodies to sports fans, adventurers to artists

Gold Coast beach sunset

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and the gateway to the Gold Coast with the golden sandy beaches of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach only an hour drive away.  On the drive to the Gold Coast you’ll pass the iconic XXXX Brewery, the scrumptious Yatala Pies and the yummy ice creams at The Pimpama Strawberry Farm.  For the more adventurous there are the Gold Coast theme parks – Dreamworld, Whitewater World, Movie World, Wet’n’Wild Water World and Seaworld.

one of the many resorts at the Gold Coast

For those who prefer to stay in the city, Brisbane’s CBD and Southbank have a wealth of activities.  The Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Museum will keep both adults and kids entertained for hours, if not days.  Take a swim at Southbank’s ‘beach’ and then stroll through the markets or dine at one of the many restaurants or cafes. 

Sunday Markets at the Old Boggo Road Jail precinct

If you’ve got more time you can explore some of our hidden ‘village’ gems such as Paddington with it’s many antique shops, West End with it’s bars and cafes, Fortitude Valley for designer furniture and live music venues or head out to the Bayside and explore the tranquil waters of Moreton Bay from Cleveland, Wellington Point or Redland Bay.  Islands such as Coochimudlo or Stradbroke are a quick ferry ride away and will make you feel like you are a million miles away from one of Australia’s biggest cities. 

a couple of locals hanging out

With flights in and out of Brisbane International and the Gold Coast International airports every day, Brisbane is an accessible, thriving and attractive city with something for every taste and age.

Dec 27, 2013

Guest Blogger - Kendra Thornton - My Home Town: Chicago

Today I've teamed up with guest blogger Kendra Thornton to share some insider goss about our home towns - Chicago for Kendra and Brisbane for me.

First up here is Kendra's piece about Chicago

A Few of Chicago's Most Interesting Attractions

I may be biased since I'm originally from Chicago, but to me there is no other city that offers more in the way of fun, culture and entertainment. There is just so much to do no matter what your budget or interests. Chicago is an especially great destination for families with kids, as there are so many family friendly activities.
1. The Hippest Neighborhood For Shopping
Among its many virtues, Chicago is a wonderful place to shop. Whether you're looking to do some holiday shopping or get some clothes and souvenirs for the kids, there are lots of famous shopping districts. One of my favorite areas to shop is the Southport Avenue neighborhood in Lakeview. This is perfect for people who like a chic yet low-key environment. This area is right next to Wrigley Field and offers a wide selection of boutiques. Be sure to check out Cerato Boutique, which features items created by native Chicago designers.

2. Art That's a Little Different

If you're not familiar with the term "outsider art," it means art created by people outside the mainstream who are not usually considered professional artists. These are self-taught artists who often create innovative and fascinating works that defy conventional labels. A good place to see some of the most interesting outsider art is at The Center For Intuitive and Outsider Art or INTUIT. This is a free museum where you can see a variety of offbeat exhibits and special events. INTUIT is on N. Milwaukee Avenue, not far from downtown Chicago and the Loop.
3. Find the Right Hotel

When you make up your mind to visit Chicago, you first need to find the right place to stay. This city is full of great hotels in all price ranges, but it can be a little overwhelming to find the one you want. That's why I recommend checking out Gogobot to find the best hotel for you. This site is full of helpful customer reviews, so you can read about the pros and cons of each one. Whether you prefer an old fashioned hotel with some history in it or a more modern one, you can pinpoint exactly what you're looking for here.
4. Lou Mitchell's Restaurant
One of the best things about Chicago is the vast selection of restaurants, cafes and eateries. I especially like some of the traditional spots that have been local favorites for years, such as Lou Mitchell's. This is an authentic Chicago diner where you can still get delicious, home cooked and reasonable meals for the whole family. Kids have a special reason for loving this place -Milk Duds are given to all of them! Lou Mitchell's is located on W. Jackson Boulevard, at the beginning of the famous Route 66.

There are many good reasons to visit Chicago, and the above are simply a few of my recommendations. This is a city that takes some time to see, so it's good if you can spend at least a few full days there. No matter when you decide to go you are sure to find lots of unique and exciting things to do.

Thanks Kendra!  Come back tomorrow for some of my insights into Brisbane.

Dec 25, 2013

winners - the Cheesecake Shop vouchers

Random number generator thingy has very kindly selected Traveling With Ana and  Jasmine1485 as the winners !!

Congratulations and I hope you enjoy your desserts!

Merry Christmas

Dec 19, 2013

naughty or nice? a giveaway from The Cheesecake Shop

It's that time of year again - families get together and eat, eat, eat and Santa makes his list and checks it twice.

The Cheesecake Shop want to know if Aussies have been naughty or nice, so they are conducting a survey.  What do you think?  Have you been naughty or nice?  What will Santa be stuffing your stocking with - pressies or coal?

To participate in this bit of festive fun head to The Cheesecake Shop's Facebook page or directly to their webpage and click on the naughty or nice icon and take the survey.  Just for being a good sport The Cheesecake Shop will give everyone who participates a $5 voucher to be used in any of their stores.

And if that wasn't enough fun - The Cheesecake Shop have given me a $25 voucher each to give to 2 lucky meandmy2guys readers to spend in any of their stores in Australia.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite Christmas dessert is.  

I will leave the giveaway open for 1 week and draw the winner on Christmas morning (Brisbane time).  Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you. Open to Australian residents only.

Dec 17, 2013

surprise backyard makeover!

While we were away my in-laws very kindly offered to house sit for us - mainly to mind our dogs.  We also chatted about the possibility of my father-in-law starting work on a retaining wall that has been pending since our renovations 2 years ago.  We had agreed on a basic design but weren't sure how much he'd be able to do in the time we were away.  

Our backyard suffered a bit during the renovation with heavy machinery driving all over it and general junk being dumped everywhere.  We had tidied it up a bit but it still wasn't very kid friendly.  The yard also is quite slopey so lacked really usable space for swings and ball play. 

What we returned home to was nothing short of spectacular.  Not only had the retaining wall been built but the yard had been terraced, new garden beds built, a cubby house built around our guava tree and beautiful soft turf coming.  

Before - we have rubble and a little bit of grass

During - the building and filling and sculpting phase

the builder's helper
the builder hard at work

fill incoming
basics done of the cubby and the terraces in place

What we saw when we arrived home

beautiful level terraces with topsoil ready for turf

 After the turf arrived

working on the design for the cubby

three generations (plus two furry helpers) frantically working in the dying light last night to finish the cubby

and it's done!  everyone enjoying their new hideout

We were blown away by the scale of the renovation that they had been able to achieve.  Suffice to say we are two very happy adults, two very happy kids and two very happy dogs!

Thanks Nana and Grandad!

Dec 13, 2013

baby girl turns 2

As if in an instant two years have flown by.  Two years of squishy cuddles and sloppy kisses.  Two years of being a parent of two.  Two years of being a big brother.  Two years of squabbles and playing and cuddles.

This feisty, opinionated little lady has changed our lives forever, and for that we are truly thankful.

We love you Amelie Matisse.

Dec 12, 2013

Review: RedBalloon MarketPlace Gift Boxes

Please note the below is a review and opinions are my own

Just before we went on holidays I was offered a RedBalloon MarketPlace gift box to review.  Of course I jumped at the chance - a box full of yummy goodies - YES PLEASE!

Gift giving is often challenging and we all have 'those' people to buy for who are difficult or just a little fussy ;).  RedBalloon - the people who bring you 'experience' gifts are now offering a huge selection of gourmet food, wine and lifestyle gift boxes that you can purchase as a subscription for three, six or twelve months (or a one month trial).

The range of boxes is extensive (over 60) and I chose the Bitton box which is a range of gourmet French condiments, sauces and jams.

The boxes are beautifully presented and packaged and really would be a delight to delve into each month.

My box contained a beautiful salad dressing, tapenade and a strawberry and vanilla jam.  The black olive tapenade is one of the best I've had with just the right amount of saltiness and a lovely herby finish.  The salad dressing is to die for and I've been slathering it on every salad and even dipped my homemade potato wedges in it the other night.  I'm yet to try the jam but I am seeing some very yummy jam drops in my future!

my very yummy salad dinner the other night with Bitton dressing

The lovely people at RedBalloon have kindly supplied a discount code for meandmy2guys readers - especially in time for Christmas - which can be used on any of their experiences or gift boxes.  Simply enter the code REDBLOG14 at checkout to receive $20 off when you spend $79 of more on any RedBalloon experience or gift box.  And don't worry if you've already finished your Christmas shopping - the offer is valid until 30/6/2014!

(promotional code valid once per person and subject to RedBalloon's T&C's)

Dec 1, 2013

Sacramento - Thistle Dew Quilt Shoppe

This little gem was discovered in the very cute village of Fair Oaks, California where chickens roam the streets.  Thistle Dew Quilt Shoppe is actually quite large and contains a huge range of fabrics as well as notions and other bits and pieces.

Once again a lively class was underway and I purchased a few yards and a couple of magazines.  The owner was also very generous giving me some special California fabric as a gift.

If you are in the Fair Oaks/Sacramento area I DEFINATELY recommend visiting this store.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...