Friday, 27 March 2015

Cocktail Friday - piña colada

Hey everybody! 

Welcome to another edition of Cocktail Friday.  This weeks drink of choice: Pina Colada.  Ah, the beautiful taste of summer.  It's getting closer, can you feel it?!?

Ingredients for 2 drinks 

4oz light rum
2oz dark rum
4oz coconut cream
6oz pineapple juice

I put all the ingredients in the cocktail shaker, and well, shook.  

Ta - da.....

I initial poured these over ice cubes.  Man, they were STRONG.....  Literally every recipe I have seen for this says to combine all ingredients in a blender with ice.  I don't have a blender, so I had to improvise.

Second time round, I used crushed ice.  This made them taste not AS strong.  They still had a darn good kick though....

And that coconut cream, thats just weird stuff.  I was going to use coconut milk, but again, most recipes called fro the cream, so I purchased it anyway.  Who knows what else I can put it in....

Friday, 20 March 2015

Cocktail Friday - Bahama Mama

Ok folks, time for a new feature on the blog.  Hopefully this will encourage me to post more regularly....

Given our recent trip to the beach, and the fact summer is right around the corner (please...)  I have been indulging in cocktail making.  I tend to do this every few months or so, but usually only stick with one cocktail, that I end up being pig-sick of after a while.

Not this time.  I am determined to grow our liquor cabinet to something the boys will want to pilfer as they get older (everyone raided their parents alcohol stash as a teenager, right?!?)

So we will begin this new weekly series with the cocktail I indulged in on holiday, the Bahama Mama.  Typically I was missing some vital tools of the trade, like a cocktail shaker, a measuring utensil and hurricane glasses.   I found all of these at World Market.  

Ingredients to make 2 Bahama Mama's 

1 1/2 ounces coconut rum (its got to be Malibu....)
1 1/2 ounces banana liquor
2 ounces spiced run ( I used Goslings black rum, as, well, I am a Gosling...)
3 ounces of orange juice
5 ounces of pineapple juice
couple dashes of grenadine

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker.  Shake.  Pour over ice into hurricane glasses.  Enjoy..

These were absolutely flipping lush.  We had 3 each last friday, and that was enough alcohol to not have a sore head the next day.  Makes the weekends easier when you don't have a sore head.  Wouldn't want to drink much more than that, as they are very sweet.  I wish I had taken some photos of them....  

I think tonights poison will be Pina Colada's.  

Check out my drinks board on Pinterest

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Lego Organisation and Storage

This post is going to describe our love / hate relationship with Lego, and the journey we have been on regarding its storage solutions.  If you don't like lego, you might want to click away now......

So, I hare three boys, ergo, we have lots of Lego.  We are fortunate enough to have a house large enough to separate our toys.

Initially we had the lego organized in colors in this Ikea unit in the learning room

We initially purchased these lego tables and storage boxes from Toys'r'Us, as when we first moved here we thought the lego could go in Oliver's room, as Sebastian was so small

Obviously that didn't last long.  Here is Oliver playing with the Lego last year.  

After our trip back to England at Christmas 2013, the boys lego collection grew somewhat.  This was because I decided that it would be easier for us to transport Lego back on airplanes. i was darn right too!!!!

But this did fill up the boxes to the point of explosion.  It was near on impossibly to build anything from the instructions, and very frustrating for a then 5 and 7 year old.  So we decided to do something  about it.....


The ultimate lego storage system.  In the Amazon Black Friday deals last year (2014), we picked up these storage boxes.  Yes, the inspiration came from the Lego film, among other places 

These hold all the little fiddly bricks.  We moved the large blocks and flat pieces into the Ikea unit

Paul laminated the labels to go on the draws, and stuck them on using velcro tape, so they are easily interchangeable if necessary (we have had to change some already, the system has been in place since January)

They are arranged in 'types', like all the one block specials together, all the flats together, all the smooth bricks together etc, etc, 

The boys still have to hunt for bits, but just not through so many bricks.  Ok ,we may have made it slightly easy for them, but it was a pure nightmare before.  Even Paul and I couldn't find bricks most of the time.  Isaac had lost all his confidence in Lego building, and Oliver was getting very frustrated. Now they knock things up in no time, and have great fun playing with their creations.

Our boys love looking at the Lego instructions.  So they were starting to get a little beat up.  Paul had the idea, and we had seen on Pinterest, about putting them into folders.  We divided them into types, then Paul set about making spines for the folders. 

This whole Lego organization has been a labor of love for him.  He has done most of the work, while I dipped in and out.

Inside the instructions are in sleeves.  The folders are kept of a high shelf, mainly out of Sebastian's grip, as he is still a little rough with them. 

The boys have had great fun with their legos. This system has made everything so much easier for them.  We quite often spend time just building.  They are even fairly good at putting away, now they know where all the draws are......


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Kure beach - last few days

I awoke on our final full day to deal with the kids.  Paul had been awesome at giving me lie ins, so it was time to return the favor.  This was the beautiful sunrise I awoke too.

It was another lovely sunny day.  We had already decided to try and go out for dinner, so we kicked around the condo most of the morning.  After lunch we kitted the boys out in their swimming trunks, and set them lose on the beach

They had a great time kicking around in the waves, and typically, when you dress them up to get wet, no one falls in!  I just wish the weather had been a title better.  We grabbed our swimming gear, and headed over to the indoor pool.

The joys of being on the ocean, you can literally watch the weather roll in.

After a swim, we headed down to Carolina Beach, an area of seafront about a 15 minute drive from Kure Beach. The boardwalk there is very well known, and many people vacation their year on year. Unfortunately for us, the boardwalk was undergoing MAJOR renovations.  The boardwalk area is over 80 years old, we all need a facelift now and then! 

You could still access certain businesses, mainly the bars.  But there were photo places for small chimps to mess around on

There was a major fire in one of the amusement buildings in September 2014.  Below you can see the damage that still hasn't been repaired 

The renovations on the boardwalk are supposed to be completed by the end of this month.  From what we saw, it doesn't look likely.  I really hope they can get it finished in time.  Seaside towns like Carolina Beach rely on their tourist revenue to survive.  I hope Carolina Beach manages to survive.

For our final meal, we ate at Havana's.  This is also where we ate on our first night.  We found them very accommodating to  small children.  Any hostess/ server who moves wine glasses on the table away from small hands gets a thumbs up in my book!  I fell in love with a cocktail called a Bahama Mama ( more on that in another post).   The kids liked it there, depute the fact there was no kids menu.  They had to talk to us, which was kinda nice!  The boys ate grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken fingers when we were there and polished them off.  On our first trip Paul and I both had bison burgers, with meat locally sourced in North Carolina.  The second time we had the prime rib special (only available on friday and saturday).  Both times, the food was delicious, with the meat being particularly melt in the mouth.  If you want a good meal out in Kure Beach / Carolina Beach area, this is the place to come.  We would definitely be back. 

Havana's on Urbanspoon

We awoke fairly early the next morning.  It always amazes me how quickly we can pack a family of 5 up, empty a house, give it a quick once over and pack a car.  The boys were amazingly cooperative (they wanted to play kindles), so we were able to get on the ferry back to Southport at 9.15am!

Everyone had a good time, but we were all looking forward to getting home.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Kure Beach - Wrightsville Beach

We had one really good sunny, almost warm, day while we were in North Carolina.  We decided to spend it at Wrightsville Beach.  This is a town, about 20 miles north of Kure Beach, just to the east of Wilmington.  It is stunning.  You drive over a lovely bridge to reach the town itself, it is really aimed at tourists, boaters and beach lovers.  After driving around for a little while, we decided to stop by the fishing pier.

Unfortunately they had stopped the free car parking 3 days earlier, so we had to pay to park.  We attempted to access the pier, but like Myrtle Beach, you seemed to have to go through a store, and pay a fee.  No thank you.

Instead we headed on to the beach.

This beach was a lot like the one right by the condo, it's like they are the same strip of sand or something....

It was just so windy.  A warm wind, but windy.  It was kicking up little sand storms all over the place, and our children are still learning how to deal with these kind of things.  These need to be experienced, and guided for the kids.  We did our best to shelter them.  but our tummies were growling, so we headed in search of some lunch.

Paul had spied somewhere on Urbanspoon, but I had spotted somewhere while we were driving round.  We headed to The Oceanic.  This is a restaurant situated right on the beach,  this was our view from the table.

We ended up sitting upstairs, at the back of the restaurant in a booth.  Paul and I both had Land Shark beer, while the boys had sprite.  Service was a little slow to say the least.  It took a good chunk of time for Paul and I to get our beers. We went with the usual for the boys.  I went with the fish and chips in the basket.  Food was also a little slow to come, and when it did arrive, they forgot Sebastian's fries.   My fish and chips also did not have its lemon or tartar sauce.  I am getting a little particular over this!  But it was tasty, the view was tremendous, and it was with putting up with the iffy service.  

The Oceanic has its own pier, which can be hired for private functions, or just strolled along like we did!  There were plenty of people sitting in the outside seating area, and I can imagine in the heat of the summer the place would be jumping!

Th Oceanic lacks slightly in restroom facilities.  There are 4 toilets available for clients use.  They are unable to add more due to rules governing the changing of old buildings on Wrightsville Beach.  Not great if the place is busy!

Oceanic Restaurant & Grill on Urbanspoon

We decided to head back to Kure Beach, stopping for essential supplies (beer) on the way.  We tried out the indoor pool.  

We made a firm rule with the boys that they were not to use the hot tub.  They did as they were told.  The pool was perfect for them, there were only two other people using it, and they stayed well clear of our children!!!

The pool tired them out, and they went to bed perfectly.  There was an absolutely stunning full moon.  I did my best to get a good photo

Friday, 13 March 2015

Kure Beach - North Carolina Aquarium

The weather while we were in Kure Beach was ok.  It wasn't hot, but when the sun came out you felt it.  We had a few showery days, but it was the first week of March, so I think it was to be expected.

Despite the chill, the boys had great fun on the beach.  The way the tide is eroding it, it leaves like a cliff of sand.  The boys had great fun falling down the cliff.  Every time after the beach, their wellies would be full of sand!

As they had their wellies on, they couldn't resist splashing in the waves.  Until someone fell in.  Typically this was Sebastian. Luckily the condo was right there, so I was able to get him back and under a warm shower.

We saw a fair amount of wildlife.  Most of it was hiding from the cold though.  We saw a few Pelicans, one dolphin ( no trip to the beach now is completely without seeing Dolphins), and an osprey with a fish in his claws flew over the top of the car.  Amazing.

We probably saw the most wildlife at the North Carolina Aquarium.  We could have walked here form the condo, it was so close.  Ad midweek, ridiculously quiet.

The ladies who volunteer here were extremely informative, even if our children kept walking off when they were telling them facts.  This is certainly not the biggest aquarium we have been too.  To be honest, we though it was a bit rubbish.  But our kids love aquariums, and all water animals.

Isaac made friends with a sea turtle.  It was lovely.  They had a baby one ready to be released back into the wild in a separate tank.  This area of the North Carolina shore is known for its fossilized sharks teeth.  We didn't find any one the beaches, but there were some massive ones in the aquarium.

To kill a few hours in the morning, the aquarium was good for the kids.  Wouldn't bother going back though.  

We headed of for a pizza lunch.  The boys had spotted Michelangelo's pizza in Carolina Beach when we had driven through, so we headed there.  We all went with massive slices each.  Paul and Oliver had pepperoni, Isaac and Seb had cheese and I had onions and peppers.  With drinks, the whole thing came to about 30 bucks, typical price we pay for pizza delivery at home.  The pizza was yummy, everyone finished, even if Oliver did assist his brothers in finishing theirs.  That boys is a pizza pig!

Michaelangelos Pizza on Urbanspoon

The boys were adamant they wanted to go for ice cream after.  So we headed over the road to Magik Beans.  This is a coffee shop. It was full of local, and they weren't exactly ready for ice cream season (it was about 40 degrees, our kids are nuts).  The boys had 2 vanilla and one chocolate. We ordered a couple of lattes for ourselves, which were delicious. Again, only Oliver finished, so Paul and I ended up eating the other 2, while observing the locals in their own environment......

Majik Beanz on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Kure Beach - Wilmington

We arose in good time on the Monday, and headed up to Wilmington.  I had done a bit of research in advance, and we had our day planned.  Wilmington is only about 30 minutes from Kure Beach.  

First stop: U.S.S. North Carolina.  

Any one who knows us, knows that we like touring old battleships.  This battleship has been in Wilmington since 1961, after being saved from the scrapyard with the help of a statewide campaign.  She was dedicated in 1962 as a memorial to its veterans and the 10,000 North Carolinians who lost their lives in World War Two (Source)

Admission is reasonable, so we did a brief look round the inside area, before taking to the gangway.

It certainly is an impressive ship.  You are able to go into the gun turrets and check out the working conditions (squished)

You can do a self guided tour of the whole ship.  It is epic.  Really good.  The tour takes you up and down the whole ship, through all the rooms. It is one of the better ones we have been on.  Really informative.  I think we enjoyed it more because there were very few people there.  Being off season, we only passed people on the outer decks.  The only people we saw below decks were those doing maintenance work and painting.

Everyone really enjoyed the ship.  Paul took many, many photos.

I had researched breweries and wineries, as I wanted there to be something moderately adult for lunch.  I settled on the Front Street Brewery for lunch. By then, we were starving.  We were seated quickly, upstairs.  Paul went with the dark beer, I think it was a Hoppelganger and I had the Riptide raspberry wheat.  Soft drinks for the boys.  They had their usual, the same as the previous day.  I went with the chefs special, a turkey burger with salad and avocado.

The kids loved the activity sheets for them.  Our food arrived, so we ordered more beer.  I went with the same, Paul had the Coastal kolsch.  Here is Isaac practicing his duck pout (quack)

The food was absolutely delicious, clear plates all round.  We ordered the Costal kolsch in a growler to go for our evenings drinking pleasure.  I had been eyeing up the serving staffs zip up hoodies, so I got one of them for myself also!  We found the Front Street Brewery or have tasty food, good beer an ok service.  A place we would return to without the children.....

Front Street Brewery on Urbanspoon

After lunch we took a little walk along the Cape Fear river which runs through Wilmington.  The Customs House is an awesome looking building.

There is a paddle boat which runs in high season up and down the river.  This would have been a good adult activity.  

From this side of the river, we were able to get some awesome pictures of the battle ship.

Wilmington has some awesome Art Deco type buildings.  

We walked along the river towards the Serpentarium.  Unfortunately it was close on a Monday, should have checked that one a little bit more closely.....

Wilmington seems like a town in transition.  There are plenty of old buildings, with some redevelopment going on.  They have carriage rides.  I can imagine in the summer the place is jumping, and probably a lot of fun.  I hope while doing redevelopement that they manage to hold on to the olde worldy charm.  There are a lot of old buildings, and I hope they are well protected.  It is a very pretty small city.