Thursday, June 30, 2011

Silver service.

Last week we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Often in previous years we would off load the 2 kids to Grandma's and head off for a romantic weekend away, but since having bubba we haven't managed that yet. In fact the last time we had dinner out alone, just the two of us was exactly a year ago, because he was born the morning after our wedding anniversary. So we headed out to the swankiest restaurant in town "A'deco". Known for its high end prices and quality complicated food, my hubby has justifiably put off taking us there for many years, because he really just appreciates a decent feed of steak. However this year was big...10 years! So off we went.
When we arrived there was one family already there. I could hear the mum ordering "Now if I order the prawn dish...exactly how many prawns will there be...more than two?". The waiter tries to explain the dish.."well you see it is deconstructed.... " Her daughter says "Mum! Just order!" Yes! I thought...we are surround by other silver service virgins!

We carefully looked through the menu. My years of watching "Top Chef" helped me in the food knowledge department. We decided to go for the 5 course tasting menu...Ive always wanted to do it! At an eye watering $95 won't want to do it very often!
I didn't take my camera with me...on was our special night... okay I lie, I just didn't want to look so unclassy in such a pretentious place. ;) I kinda wish I had though...the food just looked so pretty. Maybe pulling out the line, "it's for my blog" may have got us some extras?!

So I have taken the liberty of finding a picture and editing so you can see what it looks like on the inside.

One of the waitresses was a student at the local polytech. The poor thing was so nervous, doing her first silver service placement. Hubster found it a little unnerving being constantly watched from his angle, but as soon as his water looked anywhere near 1/4 full, it was refilled very quickly. Can't fault the service. It was strange having someone lay out your napkin on your lap for you. Our cutlery was laid similar to this...
We argued between it work from the inside out or the other way around.. you know from that scene on the Titanic movie. The five courses were all very nice. Food there's no way you could cook at home...which is the precise reason to go out for dinner! The sizes and components of the dishes meant that we were full by the end of the night but not overfull. Overall we had a great night.

For the expense, I think what you are paying for is dinner and a show if you know what I mean. But the food was all high end produce (Tuna, eye fillet steak, pork belly) which justified the expense. I would definitly try another silver service 5 course meal again one day, maybe for another big anniversary!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

peanut butter and chocolate slice

Ever since I had my first Reese's peanut butter cup a few months ago, I cant stop dreaming about them. At a couple of bucks a pop I thought maybe I can somehow incorporate the flavours into some sort of baking to extend it out a bit.

So I tried to mesh together a chocolate caramel Slice. I based my recipe on PJs one but then changed it up a little.

Peanut Butter and chocolate slice.

1/2c brown sugar
125g melted butter
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2c cocoa
1 tsp baking powder

Sift dry ingredients then mix together in a bowl. Press into a lined and greased square baking tin. Place into oven at 180 for 10-13 minutes.

1/2 can Condensed milk
2 Tbsp peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
30g butter

Melt these all together in a pot over a stove at a moderate heat until fully combined. About 3 minutes on a low to moderate heat. Take off heat and poor filling over the base once it has finished in the oven. Put back into the oven for 5 minutes.

100-200gram cooking chocolate (depending on how much chocolate you like!)
50 grams butter

Melt together until combined and then poor over the filling.
Wait until fully cool and set in fridge before cuting into squares.

So good! Kids Loved them

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Zak Zak turns one

I can't believe its been a whole year since little Zak-zak was born. (See his strange birth story here) It has been a fantastic year. We have so enjoyed the newest member of our family. Even Joe loves him to smithereens, which I was quite surprised about. I thought as a little 4 year old he probably wouldn't be that interested in him. He adds a whole new dynamtic to the family. Essentially he has been a good baby, eating and sleeping when he should. I love that first year when they are babies. As a mum, I like that they just so darn cute and mostly compliant before the horrid toddler years. I love his strawberry blond hair and deep blue eyes. He is fearless, social and rearing to catch up to his older siblings. I look forward to seeing him grow and wonder at what surprises I will be in for.
We celebrated his birthday today with our imediate family. He had a good morning nap and so was in a great mood for the family gathering. I spent most of the morning on my VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR CAKE. Getting the colours of the butter icing right seemed to be a real trick. But heres how it turned out.
Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake
I used a round silcone "bundt" cake mould for the chocolate cake and cut into bits to make the shape of the caterpillar. I also made another cake in a loaf tin to make up the head and tail. I was trying to get the greens right like on the book, but I just didn't have the right shade of yellow. It came out more orange than yellow. I found the fruit lollies at the supermarket and had a great idea to include them around the cake plate, incorporating the foods that the hungry caterpillar eats. Hersheys kisses made for great feet. I had fun whipping up some yummy finger foods for our lunch and trying out some new recipes. I tried making some mushroom filled Vol au vants. The cases I made out of pre rolled puff pastry. I also wanted to try mini chorizo quiches...which turned out delicious.

Happy Birthday Little man!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

10 years today!

And so here we are 10 years later...I can hardly believe it has been a whole decade since our wedding day. What an amazing 10 years they have been. Heres the condensed version:
We left the reception and had fun honeymoon in Taupo ;)
Year 1: I continued my last semester in my degree, graduated, then found a job.
Year 2: We saved to pay off both our student loans, took a BIG trip all the way to the Gold Coast ;)
Year 3: We had our first baby. Miss Joy. We adjusted well to parenting and enjoyed our new expanded family. I took a full year off maternity leave before reducing my hours down the part time.
Year 4: We took a trip as a family to Fiji...and then vowed never to travel with toddlers...ever!
Year 5: We were ready for baby number two- Joe. We did not enjoy the sleep deprivation that the next 6 months brought. We got there in the end. We took the plunge and finally bought a house.
Year 6: Les changed departments at work saying see ya later to shift work forever and hello 8-430pm.
Year 7: I relished my mummy role and also
returned to work 1 shift a weekend.
Year 8: We ran a home group in our home for young adults. I also started some post grad study.
Year 9: We welcomed our well thought out and prayed for baby Zak-zak.
Year 10: We continue to live happily ever after in our own little part of the world.

Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary to US!....its been a lot of fun!

"To love someone is nothing, to be loved by someone is something, but to be loved by the one you love is everything"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

our love story-part two

See part one (here)

Those six months flew by rather quickly. I was in my last year of nursing study, so having homework,
placements and part time weekend work as well as planning the big day, all seems rather full on now that I think back. I guess when you are in love you don't feel it so much. Invitations were out, reception booked, flowers, catering, wedding attire, order of ceremony...arrghhh! So much goes into a wedding! I had held it together relatively well right up until the night before. We have wedding footage of me the night before the big day just ready to burst into tears. All the details of the big day had finally come to a head and I was stressed to the max. I guess it was a lot for a 20 year old! With help we set up the church and as we were leaving for the night one our pastors saw us on the way out. He must have sensed I was upset and stressed ( we later found out that he had spent most of the night praying for us).
When I arrived home to my flatmate also my bridesmaid she prayed for me that God would give me a peaceful sleep. And He did. I woke up the next morning after a fantastic sleep, feeling absolutely peaceful about the day. There was nothing else I could do now except turn up to the wedding venue, hope that everyone would do their parts and get married to the one I loved.

We all excitedly got ready, and was ready for the limousine pick up...just a little bit late (fashionably).
We had picked a song by Third day for me to walk in to,
"Love song"

I guess this song along with our scripture reading Romans 8:38-39 really set an example from the outset which was that, if we as a husband and wife could love each other as much or as well as Jesus did us (an unconditional and self sacrificing kind of love) then we couldn't go wrong.

I walked in with both my parents, one on each arm. I should have just stuck to tradition and went for just the dad like everyone else. My mum started crying right from the beginning of the VERY long aisle all the way to the end! I should have known! She is indian and they cry at weddings! Determined not to cry I held it together, I really didnt want to ruin my lovely make up and besides this was the happpiest day of my life not the saddest as is the case for some indian weddings.

There he was...looking rather handsome in his suit. Mere Piyar - My love. We whispered sweet little things to each other at the front while the singing continued....You look look pretty good too...
As the service continued I grew more and more nervous....we were going to lock lips...very very soon! I suddenly forgot how we were going to do it. We practiced which way we would lean the days leading up. Hold hands...lean to the left and... or was it to the right?! I can't remember!!
"And we now come to the kiss..." says the pastor. And nothing...we stand there and do nothing for 5 long seconds. I was waiting for "And Les you may now kiss your bride"...but nothing. I look to the now?! Yes go for it! The entire congregation laughs. We laugh and then we engage in what is the sweetest kiss ever....just like we had practiced but with the kiss.

After the formalities of signing the register we danced our way out of the church to The Lads "My forever Smoochy Girl".
After an afternoon of photos all over town we went to our reception venue. We planned on having an afternoon tea...not a wise decision on the the shortest day of the year...and at 4pm. It got pretty dark, pretty quick. My poor many details I would do different if I could go back in time.

Syms with his very funny pure and simple joke, our epic wedding cake, and part of the crazy family

After a lovely night of speeches and mingling with friends and family we headed to Auckland for our honeymoon and the rest of our lives together.

stayed tuned for the last installment tomorrow....

our love story.

It all started way back in the summer of 1999. I had just finished high school and had headed for the nearest city to start my nursing degree. I had so looked forward to getting out of my small town and out of home. After being the only high school student at my small town church I was looking forward to going to a bigger church with other young people. The first time I attended the youth church on a Friday night I was introduced to a young man right in the middle of his hacky sack game. "This is Les...he's in his final 6 months of his nursing degree". I'd like to say it was all rainbows and cupids hearts or love at first sight...but it wasn't. It was just a simple introduction to a fella playing hacky sack. From then on however we had something in common. I would ask him questions about my homework and he was a willing teacher. We got on well because...well he's friendly and would get on well with anyone.

Zealous...70's styles

I got on with studying my degree and making friends at my new church. I also became really involved in the youth church and growing as a Christian. I began to really want God's best for my life and that included waiting for the right guy. Later in the year Les and I were assigned to run a home group together at our flat. We seemed to make a good team and had another reason to talk to each other. Around that time I was inspired by another lady I knew, who when she was younger had compiled a detailed list of what she had hoped for in a husband. I thought I might try the same thing. Mine was a pretty short list which went something like this: Loved God, blond and blue eyed, someone nice (No bad boy for me thanks ;) and someone funny. Those were the essentials. At the time I also wanted to him to be an international rugby league star too...;).. so bizarre!

funny man Les...not his real hair ;) and me with the youth group mascot Shebees

I had absolutely no other thoughts about Les other than friendship for that entire first year. That was until I heard what I would describe as a strong impression from God that I was going to marry him one day. WHAT?! It literally surprised me. He was a little older than me so I wasn't so sure,but when I looked at my imaginary list he seemed to fit the bill. I prayed and prayed. If he was supposed to be the "one", it sure didn't seem to be the case because he had no interest in me. So I just sat on it. I continued our friendship and perhaps placed myself in the right places a little more than usual. Months went by, still nothing. Eventually it finally started to look like some one was reciprocating my feelings. The reality of a real relationship dawned on me and I freaked a little. I didn't know what to do or how to go about it. Most of all I wanted to honour God so we decided to get some wise counsel to make sure those closest to us could see that it was a good idea too. We pray some more...until finally we were both IN. We were officially courting!
We really wanted to honour God, and so decided early on that we would do what the bible says and wait until marriage to get our "Love on". I knew it was going to be hard and I was so afraid of falling into temptation. I had read a book about a young couple who had decided to wait until their wedding day to enjoy their first kiss. Can't have sex without kissing first I thought! So my lovely suitor agreed to my ridiculous request...we would wait until after the I do's for the first kiss.
We were engaged on a small island off the Fiji mainland. Les had come to Fiji to meet my mothers family and come to my brothers wedding. My family were especially nuts that week. Oh no! I thought...would he still want to marry into such a loud crazy family like mine. In tears I asked him...are you sure you want to be a part of my crazy family? He still did!

Small Engagement party on our return from the pretty island

We came home and began wedding plans. I hadn't been to many weddings by then, and really had no idea what I was doing. I was trying to keep costs low, because at the time my thoughts were "Cheap wedding all out on the honeymoon!" Silly really now that I think back. Sex must have been on the brain! After a 6 month engagement we planned to marry 23rd June 2001

Stay tuned for the next chapter in our love story....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend getaway-Matakana

This weekend we went away for a "B" family getaway in celebration of Father Bears/Poppa 80th birthday celebrations. Mother Bear/Grandma had organised everything to the finest detail (she's good like that!). She had us all booked into stay at a lovely place in Matakana, just east of Warkworth. It is a truly lovely area out there.

First stop birthday lunch at Mahurangi River Winery and Resturant
. It was set high above a beautiful vineyard and overlooking the Warkworth hills. It would be absolutely beautiful in the summer when the grapes are out. Even though this winters day was a bit dreary, the atmosphere was still lovely and warm. I was impressed that they cater so well for children too. They had a highchair for Zak-zak and a small kids menu for the older ones. They even had an activity sheet for the kids to do. I had to laugh at one of the kids doing a word find. "I can't find the word MERLOT" Teachin em young!
We were all impressed by the food and lovely Maitre d'.

Later back at the place we were staying we tried eating some more...and then lit up Poppas cake. Lucky the smoke alarms didn't go off!

Saturday Morning we headed into Matakana to check out their famous Saturday Morning Market. Lots of delicious morsels to try. I bought some pastries and some chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
Again Hubster and I found a NZ "star" to take a photo with. The former All Black and host of the CODE on Maori TV Glen "OZ" Osbourne. He had a brief chat with us and he is exactly the same in real life as you see on TV. He was coming in to the market to get his hunting knife sharpened! Classic.

Later in the afternoon we took a drive out to Snell's beach because I had never been before. The moment the kids got there they found a new friend. I love that about my kids, always friendly. Zak Zak enjoyed the sensation of playing in a shelly beach and tasting a few.

Playground at Snell's Beach
We headed home Sunday morning after a lovely weekend getaway.
Happy Birthday to Poppa...still young! And thanks to Aunty J who flew all the way from across the ditch for the special weekend. And thanks Grandma for a very successful "almost surprise" birthday weekend getaway.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Whats been cooking lately

As you probably know if you follow my blog, I like my food... I like to make it and I like to eat it. In fact I would pick eating out at a cafe or restaurant over buying new clothes. Hands down. Weird I know!( It may have something to do with fact that all my eating has led to looking a little tubby which makes shopping for clothes sucky! Time to get back in Tri training mode!)
Anyhoo thought I would share some pics of some food I have tried out lately.

Sesame Crusted NZ Salmon with potato rounds on Spinach with hollandaise sauce

So was a nice touch with the seseme seeds on the outside...will do again sometime! The holandaise sauce was a cheat from "Kato" because I have never tried to make my own before. So good!

Mocha Cheesecake cupcakes
These were a modified version of my Mocha Cheesecake. I found doing it this way made more portions, was a great little treat for my coffee group buddies.

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake with raspberry

This was a bit of an experiment mixing two of my favourite loves together chocolate brownie and cheesecake. Alas I find it so hard to get the brownie right sometimes. Definitely needed more chocolate. Will try again maybe with Paisley Jades Fudge brownie recipe

What about you...if you had a few spare dollars...clothes or cafe?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The week that was...

"My name is JackstaB and Im a Social Media-aholic. Its been 6 days and 7 hours since I last logged in."
So my computer has been out of action for the week. And I just cant believe how much I rely on being logged in to the internet. Need a recipe..I google it. Need to figure out who that actor is from that movie..I google it. Bored...I log in and browse. Need to know whats going on in my friends lives... I facebook. Need know how my blogland friends get the picture. The week left me thinking how much we rely on being logged on, both hubby and I. I never realized how addicted I a media junkie. In our house if the computer screen isn't on the TV is, or theres the newspaper or magazine...theres always something... constantly bombarding my senses with information. Hubster and I were talking...what did people do without TV and computer? When do we just chill out and just BE?

So what did I do all week with all my glorious free time? I cleaned. I sorted. I met with real life people. I baked. But I REALLY missed you guys. I missed reading your blogs. I missed updating my FB status. I missed sharing my photos of our Queens birthday holiday. And I log on to find everyones VLOGing! I missed being in the loop! So my week without a computer has made me realise that perhaps my life is a tad out of balance. So like a true junkie says Im gonna cut down! I promise!
So since I was rudely interupted by my computer carking it last Monday trying to upload my they are today. We took a lovely drive out to Ocean Beach (Because Hubby knew the swell and surf was huge) and we had a cup of tea and chocolate fudge brownies (PJs recipe) at the beach. Happy belated-not-actual-birthday to the Queen.

And it so good to be back!Who knows I might figure out a vlog post for you all next time
This is JackstaB Signing out :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Humble Pie

So its been a month since the little fella has started moving, crawling, pulling himself up on the furniture and "cruising". It has also been a month that I now have to have eyes at the back of my head, constantly thinking where is he?! what is he touching?! After a couple of years not having to worry so much about the other two because they are a little older (now 5 and 7 years) , this constant worrying is exhausting. I find myself saying "naughty hands" ALL day. Except when he is napping...thank the Lord he still naps!

My friends would tell me their stories of the their toddlers, who played tea parties in the toilet (*winks at Paisley Jade*), or who would get into the cupboards, put things in the video players, or rip books. And I would say "My kids never did that". Inwardly feeling rather self-righteous about my parenting skills. I would watch the huggies ad for nappy pants with the toddler running away from his mother because he can't sit still at nappy changing time and think "My kids never do that". I would secretly pat my back when I heard the words "baby proofing"...Because you guessed it "my kids never needed that".

And so now I sit here eating humble pie, with my very normal little almost 1 year old, slightly exhausted and stressed to the max, who now does all those things and then some. And I am contemplating finally giving in and actually buying the stupid baby proofing cupboard locks.

I also think...Mr Inquisitive....Its so darn lucky you are cute!