Saturday, 28 July 2012

Milkshakes, Cupcakes & Zoo Lates...all because I turned 26!

My birthday began in the best kind of way - opening presents!

Apparently my love of coconut has spread to Shropshire and thanks to Alli I got some awesome coconut body butters and lip balms - yum!

My love of America is obviously more widely known so this Martha Stewart 'American Food' recipe book from my mom went down an absolute treat! Inside are recipes for all my favourites such as Key Lime Pie, Corn Dogs, Fish Taco's and Pulled Pork!

and some peanut butter Oreo's and a milkshake and ice cream recipe book from By were equally exciting! but best of all he bought me some amazing FireForks for toasting 2 marshmallows at a time (for s'mores fun) you can check out how cool they are when we made s'mores back here.

My mother in law had the day off work too so she went out especially to buy a blender to whip me up a special fresh strawberry birthday milkshake (it was delish!) and bought me my favourite flowers - gerberas, with some added ranunculus later on in the day!

and I got a rather impressive amount of birthday cards relating to cupcakes! 

My friend Nicola even managed to find one with an Oreo cupcake on! which means she must have psychic powers because I spent the majority of my birthday whipping up these... 

for these lovely people...

because what's better than zoo fun accompanied by cupcakes! Each summer London Zoo opens its gates for something called 'Zoo Lates' where from 6-10pm for adults only you can enjoy some of the animals they have to offer, and also enjoy some delicious food (we all know I'm not the biggest animal lover in the world so yes I was mostly there for the food!)

but this tiger was pretty cool! Unfortunately there was an even bigger tiger lover than Jade hogging all the glass space so Jade never got to introduce her tiger from her t-shirt to the real tiger! 

Her animal themed t-shirt was appreciated all the same though!

Here's nearly all our group - I'm not sure where Amy and Sam were hiding (and By is behind the camera!) It was so lovely to have so many of my friends all in the same place! 

We planned our evening around the penguin performance! so we stocked up on dinner before the show began! There were loads of various food stalls to choose from..I was torn between a few but Mexican, as it so often does, won out in the end! I had some amazing pork tacos and enjoyed my second milkshake of the day!

so it was smiles all round!

There was a huge crowd that had gathered for the penguin fun! Unfortunately, the star penguin was apparently pretty tired and not up for coming out to see everyone!

so instead we had to watch two members of the crowd dress up and act like penguins, and then 5 minutes later the show was over! so that was a bit disappointing...we were hoping for actual real penguin action!

We consoled ourselves by bringing out the cupcakes!

Laur has the same birthday as me! so it was double-y exciting to be able to celebrate it together! 


I love this group shot of everyone enjoying the cupcake action, clearly Jade has enjoyed it a little too much since somehow frosting had made it's way to her nose! I'm sure she won't mind me sharing this slightly embarrassing pic of her since she seems to have established a tradition in our friendship to share embarrassing pictures of me! 

cupcakes + birthdays = 2 happy girls!

One of the best parts of the night was the silent disco! Silent discos are usually pretty entertaining as they are...a load of people wearing headphones dancing around (whilst those watching on can hear nothing but just observe everyone's silly moves)

So Zoo lates' silent disco was made twice as hilarious due to the fact that we were also dressed as zoo animals whilst the silent dancing was happening!

and since there were so many other dressed up dancing animals, no one really looked twice!

Smiles all round for the dancing butterfly, ladybird and tiger!

The little lights strung through the trees added extra ambience...

but our carousel ride to round off the night was not to be as it closed just as we joined the queue!

but after a day packed with cupcakes, shakes, Mexican and silent dancing dressed as a lion it didn't damper our spirits! so it was a fun filled day all round!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Birthdays, Cheesecake Parties, Night Markets, and Wimbledon Mania!

Get ready for a picture overload! I have sooo many things to blog about so this has turned into a bit of a monster post! Let's go right back to the middle of June when it was Mara's birthday...and what other party is more appropriate for the cheesecake queen than a cheesecake making party?!

You've never been to such a party I hear you say? well then you're missing out! We had no bake cheesecake, baked cheesecakes, chocolate biscuit bases, regular digestive bases and all the toppings you can think of! 

I made this oh so delicious coconut cheesecake (because as we all know I'm obsessed!) It was a chocolate base, chocolate no bake cheesecake, topped with sliced up Bounty and drizzled with some Lindt Coconut Creation! 

and the treats didn't stop there! Sophie made Mara this rather delicious carrot cake...

decorated with some milky way stars! 

Here are both the birthday girls, Mara and Naomi with their cake! 

As Nevada and I were guests to the YSA house for the first time, we had to add our portraits to the portrait wall.  This should have been easy peasy for Nevada as she's a rather amazing illustrator but the sneaky trick to this game is that you are not allowed to look down at your picture whilst drawing so you must look at the other person the whole time and you can't take your pen off the page!

So as you can see it was rather tricky! and the portraits came out rather abstract! 

but they made a nice addition to the wall! 

The next day on Mara's actual birthday she got more cakes - two birthday cupcakes from Kooky Bakes...

and the present opening began!

Hmm I wonder what that could be...

as if she needed any more recipe books! haha - she literally has the best collection of recipe books out of anyone I know! I guess it comes with the territory of being a pro baker!

and a little sisters frame from me so that she can have a little reminder of us when she's missing us!

and a whole lot of card loving - mine was the Hello Kitty one!

Now since Mara's was born in Australia, she's the honorary Aussie in the family and as a result of that she is a big fan of Bill Granger and has become an even bigger fan of his relatively new London restaurant - Granger & there was only one place she wanted to go for her birthday brunch...queues and all (that place is so popular that no matter what time of day you go there is always a queue!)

We got these super yummy sunrise smoothies to start...

and I got the classic ricotta hotcakes with fresh bananas and honeycomb butter - I can't even describe in words how delicious this was but if you live in London and haven't been yet then you really need to get down there! 

Mara opted for the sweetcorn fritatta with spinach and bacon which was equally as tasty...

and of course when we saw the words coconut on the menu I couldn't resist so we ordered a side of toasted coconut bread which was out of this world amazing! 

and because we're ginormous fatties we couldn't help but stop by Ottolenghi and pick up a peanut butter s'more!

and I just had to have my picture snapped in front of this Canadian pub - 6 weeks to go people - the countdown is seriously on! 

A couple of weekends later I popped back to London for the Bermondsey night market.  I was seriously excited to finally try Pizza Pilgrims but of course their popularity stopped me before I even had the chance because they had sold out before I could even get in their queue! Sad times, as I have only heard amazing things about their pizza.  Their little pizza truck was so cute! I am determined to make it back to them very soon! 

Luckily their was a biltong stall to console me - I got some of my favourite biltong snapsticks!

and in the end went for some curry and a mango lassi simply because it was the smallest queue of all! 

Mara braved it in a much longer queue to get this amazing piri-piri pulled pork from African Volcano, it was pretty inventive! very messy to eat but seriously delish!

We ended the night with some sweet treats from Crumbs and Doilies...

and a brownie from Yummy Boutique.

and we couldn't pass up the raspberry, lemon and mascarpone ice cream from Sorbitium Ices! I had a coconut ice cream from them before down at the South bank market and it was so good I knew I had to try more of their flavours! 

and I just loved this little thai street food truck that was a tuk tuk and the name of the company was 'Bang-Wok' - I thought that was a pretty clever name! 

and no weekend of Mara and Gem fun is completely without some Mexican!

We got some amazing burritos from Tortilla, which is one of the only Mexican places left in London that we haven't tried yet! 

and then it was time for Wimbledon fun! We got our queue cards, pitched our tent and got ready for the long night ahead! 

Last year we were 777, this year we were 1021 but as it turned out that worked out just fine because we wanted Court 2 tickets anyway as we know the Fish vs Tsonga game would be a great match! 

The next morning, when we arrived through the entrance it was raining! but luckily the rain stopped just before Court 2 play started! 

Here we are ready to support the American players on court! I was really hoping I'd be supporting Roddick (my fave!) but he went out on the Saturday!

So we supported Serena instead, not that she needs much support with 112 mph serves! 

Shvedova gave a good fight and even looked to be worrying Serena at one point! 

and her coach decided to start a Mexican wave during one of the breaks in between games which was pretty funny! 

but Serena came through in the end and won the match - it must have been down to that awesome purple co-ordination! 

We also got to see Radwanska (who co-incidentally played Serena in the final this year so it was pretty cool we got to see them both!)

She played a young italian, Giorgi, who had a very powerful forehand but made a few too many mistakes in her game...

despite having a very cool outfit she didn't manage to outclass Radwanska. 

So we decided during the break to get some strawberries and cream, because it's not Wimbledon without strawberries and cream! 

and I got my flag out ready to support Mardi Fish! and if you want to read more about my patriotic style that day you can check out the style post I did over at Jacy's blog! and you can read all about how we appeared on T.V!

It was a really great match, we reckon it was even better than the matches on court 1 and centre.

Tsonga was as unimpressed as we were with how cold it was! He kept wrapping himself in his towel! 

Fish was on fire and playing so amazingly well! I just know that he would have won had rain not stopped play...

but just as common as strawberries are at Wimbledon, so are the ball boys pulling the rain covers on unfortunately! and rain halted the play for the night! 

Remember this match? 70 games! how crazy is that! I love that they have a plaque to commemorate it! 

and we finished our Wimbledon day of fun by sitting out on 'Murray Mound/Henman Hill!' sitting under tons of Umbrellas wondering whatever happened to our English summer! 

So that concludes part 1 of our London fun...stay tuned for London part 2 - can you believe that some people don't like London?! I can't...I love it! and I could keep spending every weekend for the rest of my life there and never get bored!