26 October 2015

Lately...

Here are a few things I've been loving lately (cause we all know the power in keeping a thankful heart)...

Loving celebrating my second born son's birthday recently - 14 years old!!  You know what that means don't you... two sons old enough to baby sit now!  Yeeehaaaaah!  We celebrated with family and this Ice Cream Cake drizzled in caramel sauce.  So good!




Loving the roses that are blooming at our house at the moment.  The gardens are a bit of a shambles here and we can't really do much to them until we've finished the re-piling, but thankfully the roses and other pretty blooms don't mind!




Have loved baking with my girls - I really must make more of an effort to do it more often. Recently we made Coconut Mice - basically Coconut Ice shaped into mice and cheese segments! Fun and delicious.  They only took about a million hours to shape and decorate, but it was worth it.



Speaking of coconut, loving this new drink!  If only it was around when I was young, I could have avoided having to drink goats milk!!



Loving making Pita Bread Pizzas when an easy dinner is called for, and a great meal that people can get involved with (if you have fussy pizza topping people in your household)...



Loving girl time... not loving that we could have just bought a few tubs of ice cream at the supermarket instead and still come away with a saving... but you live and learn!



Loving this neat dinner idea that our friends Jackie & Les had - a "sticks" themed night with all food items (entrée, main and dessert) to be served on sticks.  There were so many delicious items to eat! We brought an entrée of cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar, a main of shrimp, chorizo sausage, potato and red onion kebabs and a dessert of marshmallows, brownie and strawberries on a stick drizzled with chocolate!  Drooling right now as I write.



Finally, loving our girl Boo.  She's getting older, but is still such a sweetie (most of the time)...




Here nickname should be "Ball Wrecker".

Have an awesome week!!!



For more Loving/Lately posts, go here.



13 October 2015

Mayah Jade's PB&J Cupcakes



My eldest daughter has been dreaming up ways to make some new delicious cupcakes, and after a bit of inspiration from a book she was reading recently, we decided to create our own recipe for some simple Peanut Butter & Jam Cupcakes!

These cupcakes were fun to make, and so delicious.  The cupcake batter has a peanut butter flavour with a surprise bit of berry jam in the middle and are iced with a delicious twisted peanut butter and jam buttercream icing.

Using a basic cupcake recipe I have, we tweaked it a bit and shared below.  Hope you enjoy it, or are inspired to create your own delicious flavours!  The recipe below makes 12 cupcakes, but can easily be doubled to make more.



Mayah Jade's PB&J Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients
1½ cups of Self Raising Flour
1 cup white sugar
½ cup of milk
2 eggs
125g (4 oz) butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of smooth peanut butter (softened)

Preheat oven to 180°C and and line your cupcake tins with paper cases.

Put all ingredients in a bowl and beat on medium speed for five minutes. 

Fill cases half way, then place small teaspoon of berry jam on top of each cupcake.  Finish by topping off each cupcakes with the rest of the batter to cover jam.



Bake cupcakes in the oven for approx 20-25 mins.  Once cooked, remove from oven and cool on wire rack, ready to ice when cool.

Peanut Butter & Jam Buttercream Icing
100g softened butter
1 cup icing Sugar
1 tablespoon of softened peanut butter
1 tablespoon of berry jam
Milk to mix

Place softened butter in mixer with icing sugar and mix until light and fluffy (add a few drops of milk if needed to soften).  Once ready, separate icing into 2 bowls and add peanut butter to one and mix, and jam to other.

Place each of the icings in separate small icing bags (we got ours from local and online supplier Kiwi Cakes) and place together in large piping to get the swirl effect.



Ice cupcakes and enjoy!!



For more delicious recipes visit here.


11 October 2015

Family Road Trip to Hobbiton





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We are nearing the end of a long anticipated (and much needed) holiday.  Amongst the main goal to relax and be refreshed (along with a wee bit of renovating) was the plan to go on a road trip as a family for a few days away.

On the top of our list of things to do was to visit Hobbiton in Matamata.  With a short time frame and budget, we decided to add in a few extra places to visit along the way that wouldn't break the bank for a family of 6.

First stop was Western Springs Lakeside Park in Auckland for a picnic lunch.  Such a beautiful spot to explore!





From there we went to Motat.  The last time we were there was around 14 years ago when our oldest was 2 years old!  Time goes by so fast...



Symon was in plane heaven there as well...



After that we made our way down to Hamilton ready for our Hobbiton tour the next morning (you can tell the kids were pretty excited).  



The day started out overcast and later light rain started, but thankfully as we started out on our trip the sky cleared and the weather was absolutely beautiful!!!



Crazy thing is that our good friends (the Boucher clan) had unknowingly also planned a road trip down to Hobbiton on the same day and time as us!  We made sure we were on the same tour and had an awesome time.



Prepare for Hobbiton photo overload (don't worry, I won't post all of the hundreds of photos I took)...






We loved all the little details around each Hobbit Hole.  With up to 3,000 tourists visiting a day, everything is kept looking so nice. 












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The tour ended with drinks at the Green Dragon...

 
  


Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  I didn't know what to expect at first, but was so impressed.  Awesome tour guide, great experience and I came away so proud to be a Kiwi!  

During our trip we also made time to check out the beautiful Hamilton Gardens.  Sadly we couldn't explore the whole area due to tired children and a scraped knee (see child running in the pic below) but the gardens we did see were lovely.






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The next day we explored Hamilton Zoo before heading home.  The bird below seemed to love Symon - it danced away and squawked at him for ages!





As usual, I think our family kept others at the Zoo more entertained than the animals did (just kidding... sort of).



A quick stop at Mount Victoria in Auckland on the way back to Whangarei brought back a few memories from this visit a while ago




So we went there and came back again (see what I did there all you Hobbit fans) and had the best time.  So proud of our children who were so well behaved with all the travelling and walking - if you are a parent of young children have hope... those years of children fighting in the back seat does pass!

So good to get away and explore our precious country of New Zealand!
























For other road trip posts, go here.



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