Thursday, 18 September 2014

Food Travel. Is there a better kind? // Life // Travel

This is a post for Eat Now

When it comes to food travel there are a few places that I would desperately love to visit: France, for the cheese and bread and genuine escargot; the UK for their traditional foods that I've enjoyed variations of here in Australia while growing up; Thailand, for authentic Thai food, because Thai is probably my favourite cuisine; Mexico, because Mexican! I love Mexican food too! Forget an animal safari in Africa, I want to do a food safari around the world!

In this day and age, everyone is so concerned about their health & fitness, the food they eat, the obesity epidemic, wholefoods, organic, paleo, sugar-free, the list goes on. Some days I wish I didn't have to think at all about the food that goes in my mouth, I would love to just be able to eat with reckless abandon.
fijian food
While staying at Royal Davui in Fiji we were treated to a banquet with traditional Fijian dishes, and of course we had to
sample the Kava and delicious cocktails. The photo bottom right was taken to prove to my family that I had in fact eaten lots of salads!
Despite the look on my face I was actually really enjoying it!

There is one time however, when I throw all caution to the wind and eat whatever I damn well please. Holidays. In fact there are three occasions when I believe the calories just don't count, and that's birthdays, Christmas and holidays! This could perhaps explain the reason for my excess love handles, but whatever. That's a topic for another post!

When I go on holidays, especially somewhere overseas, part of the joy is trying all the different foods on offer that you wouldn't normally find or eat at home. When Dave and I travelled to Fiji for our honeymoon back in 2008, I found myself trying and eating all sorts of food that I never would have dreamed would pass my lips back home. The freshest of fresh seafood and fruits, vegetables I'd never heard of before, and more exotic cocktails than you could poke a stick at.
And of course Dave just had to climb a palm tree and try out some coconut juice for himself (I don't think it was terribly ripe though!)

When we visited the US in 2010 it was a veritable smorgasbord of food. Dave and I have vowed to go back purely to try all of the food and restaurants we missed out on first time around. Some of the highlights were hotdogs from a street vendor out the front of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, a giant slice of pizza in Times Square, dinner in a tiny little diner in uptown New York City, where we had more bread and sides than we knew what to do with.
In California I had the most amazing breakfasts, with huge omelettes, "country-style potatoes" (a kind of potato bake if you will), toast and fresh fruit. We had the best calamari either of us has ever eaten, before or since, from a restaurant in Hawaii. It was so good we actually went back the next night so we could have it again.
Top Row: Eating Churros for the first time at Universal Studios
Middle Row: (L-R) Dave trying out the New York Hot Dogs; Maccas - same, same but different;
Levain Bakery, home of the best cookies in Manhattan
Bottom Row: Cappuccino in a Can in Hawaii

And it wasn't just the foods we had in restaurants and diners that were an experience. Even the fast-food, such as McDonalds, Burger King and Subway were so different to what we have here in Australia. The coke in particular was so sweet and fizzy that I actually switched to drinking Sprite on the occasions I had a "soda" as I just couldn't handle the difference. It was more like Pepsi and as a hardcore Coke fan, that just wasn't going to cut it!
big apple pizza
Dave enjoying his New York Pizza (I had to try a slice of Hawaiian for research and comparison of course!)
June 2010

The thing is, unless I win the lottery I probably have a slim-to-none chance of eating my way around the world before I die (or become too huge to fit in a single plane seat!). Which is why, when I find out about competitions to win a holiday to far-off lands and stuff myself silly with local cuisine, I just have to enter!

Lucky for me, Eat Now, the online food-ordering service that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago is running a competition to win a foodie holiday to either Morocco, Italy or Mexico. They're giving you the chance to eat your way around one of the world's top dining destinations, with flights, food tours and accommodation for two up for grabs.

All you have to do to be in with a chance to win is tell Eat Now where you get your favourite takeaway meal. Entry is super easy just by visiting this page here, and there's also 10 runners-up prizes of a $250 Eat Now voucher to be given away.

If you fancy yourself a bit of a foodie, or even if you just like to stuff your face with good grub from time to time like me, then this is one comp you'll want to make sure you enter. You can see the full terms & conditions for the competition here.

What's your ultimate food travel destination? Or what place have you stuffed your face in that you'd love to visit again? If you were to win the Eat Now prize, would you choose Morocco, Italy or Mexico?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Eat Now. As always, all opinions are my own and I take no responsibility for any consequences arising as a result of entering the Eat Now competition. I have entered the competition myself and I am crossing my fingers that a miracle will occur and I might win! If you win, I promise I'll only be a little bit jealous (ok, I'll be a whole lot jealous!). *By entering this competition, you agree to EatNow’s terms & conditions and to receive email newsletters (from which you may opt-out of anytime).*

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Big Trucks & Diggers. Not just toys for boys // Life // Photography

Yesterday our next-door neighbours had a portable office delivered to make a little more space for everyone in their house (I understand the feeling!). In order to get the office in to their backyard they needed to pull down part of the fence between our yards and back the truck in down beside our house.

It made a hell of a racket reversing in, and it actually took a couple of goes as they had to remove more of the fence, which the previous owner had installed with about a tonne of concrete! Once the fence was down the truck was backed in and the crane got to work.

Punky heard the noise while she was having quiet time, and asked to have a look out her window. I was kinda keen myself to see how they were gonna get this massive thing off the back of the truck and in to the yard so we headed outside for a better view.

You can see for yourself how little space there was for manoeuvring the thing, but the crane controller did an amazing job. There were a few moments when I my heart was in my throat, especially when the damn thing started swaying towards the house, but they kept it under tight control and only one tree was harmed in the process!

If you want to see a little snippet of video of the process you can check it out on my instagram feed (@kyl21z).

It wasn't all trucks and cranes though. When we arrived up at the in-laws later that afternoon, we discovered there was a big digger in the yard, visiting overnight while a new trench for the septic is dug out. Dave being Dave just had to climb up and have a closer look (don't worry, it was completely powered down and the owner had left with the key for the night). Punky too had to get up close and personal, and did a pretty good job of controlling her curious toddler fingers to (mostly) not touch any buttons or levers.

Punky was pretty impressed to see all of these big machines today, especially the crane moving the office in action. It's safe to say that big trucks and diggers are not just for boys!

Do your kids like big machines and other exciting, noisy stuff?
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The One Thing... // Life

The lovely Kelly Exeter did this on her blog a little while ago and invited everyone to play along, so here we go...

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Friday, 12 September 2014

Linky Lovin' Friday {12th September 2014} // Blogging

It's a short and sweet Linky Lovin' Friday today as I am off to the city with Dave in a few hours for a long-overdue night off from the kids. It's a belated anniversary night away, and we'll be staying in a fancy pants hotel, eating and drinking to our hearts content, with not a dirty nappy in sight!

I've been plucked and waxed in preparation, and I've already chosen what I'm going to eat from the restaurant that we'll be having dinner at. I'm more excited than a kid on Christmas morning, so excuse me if you don't see me around the social media traps much tonight!

But I couldn't have a night off from the kids without leaving you with a few choice reading links for your own weekend...

Image nicked from Hugzilla's post

Personal Trainer Pushes Watermelon Out Of Butt: Empathy Ensues by Hugzilla
Unless you’ve gestated and given birth to a mini-watermelon, lay off the mansplainin’.
I am a big fan of Melissa and her Higzilla blog, and once again she has struck gold with her fantastic wit and way with words. While my post on the same personal trainer who implied that mothers were fat and lazy and just plain didn't care about looking after themselves was written off the cuff in a chocolate-fueled fury, Melissa's is considered, funny and has way less F-bombs. It's fantastic people and you should do yourself a favour and give it a read.

I'm fat not stupid by Tegan from Musings of the Misguided
Changing our lifestyle choices come down to our motivation and how much we want to change.  If we don’t want to change, our subconscious will always be there ready to trip us up.  I’m not making excuses, I KNOW what I have to do.  I’m fat, not stupid.
I read this post from Tegan on the same day that I wrote the aforementioned rant about the personal trainer. This post of Tegans was written over a year ago and it really hit a nerve for me. I totally get where Tegan is coming from. As I said in my rant, losing weight is about more than science and maths, essentially it's a mind thing for the vast majority of people. Tegan gives great insight in every post she writes and I encourage you to visit this post from her.
Image nicked from BabblingBandit's post

I want an iPhone 6 Plus by Babbling Bandit
From the humble beginnings of the Sony Walkman to data overload in one tiny device, boy have we come a long way!
And I love it!
I loved this post from Vanessa. She takes us on a trip down memory lane, reliving her obsession with technology and the devices that fuelled it. If you remember your first computer, first walkman or first mobile phone with nostalgic fondness, then you'll love this post too.
Interview with a toddler by You Learn Something New Every Day
I sat down with my husband, the questions and a recording device.
I shut off the recording device ten seconds later. My husband wasn't having a bar of it.
I felt left out. Shunned. And so, so sad.
And now, two months later, BRAINWAVE. Why not interview my four-year-old daughter instead?
Those of you familiar with my Interview with a Husband post will remember that I invited other bloggers to play along and interview their husbands and partners. There were heaps of great husband interviews that came of it, but some blogger's husbands were somewhat reluctant to play along (spoil sports!). Emily's was one such husband, and so instead she has interviewed her four-year-old and it's a great interview.

Everntually I would love to interview Punky for the blog, but at the moment all I usually get when I try to ask her pointed questions is a cheeky grin, followed by a bunch of goobeldy-gook. I'm giving her a few more months and then I will try this interview with her next year and hopefully the results will be as cute and funny as Emily's.

Have you read or written anything awesome this week? Hit me up with your links in the comments so I can read them when I emerge from my child-free haze of euphoria on Sunday!

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Family Birthdays // Love

Birthdays are a big deal in our family. We don't go super fancy and extravagant, but we always try to make it special for the person whose day it is. Our tradition is to go out to dinner at the birthday person's favourite restaurant, followed by cake and the birthday songs back at home.

This year my birthday happened less than a month after Mum's accident. She was still in hospital at the time and so we had pizza delivered to the hospital and took over the patient lounge for an hour in a makeshift celebration. I didn't care about anything other than being with my Mum & family and it was still a wonderful evening, despite the setting.

My sister A turned 30 2 weeks later and the Christmas in July celebration that had been planned was scaled right back to just the immediate family and a home-cooked Italian feast. I know it's not how A imagined her 30th turning out, but I think we were all just thankful that Mum was home from the hospital and able to enjoy it.

Zee's 1st birthday was also a quiet affair at Mum's, with pizza and lots of ice cream cake for the birthday girl. I plan on making up for the lack of a party for her 2nd birthday, when I will throw her the kind of celebration I gave Punky for her 1st birthday. It just didn't feel right to be going all out and having an extended family gathering if Mum couldn't be there, and so we made Zee's birthday special in other ways.

Yesterday was Mum's birthday. We were planning on having dinner at her house, whatever she wanted, and then on Tuesday night she sent us all a message saying that she wanted to go out to dinner at her favourite restaurant. So reservations were made at Bohemian Euro Restaurant at Narellan and off we all went.

It was so absolutely amazing to see Mum out of the house for something other than a doctor's appointment or funeral. I know her back was getting the better of her by the time we all finished our meals, but I thin just getting out and having a somewhat 'normal' experience will have lifted her spirits greatly.

After dinner we went back to her house and had not one but two cakes, and Punky and Zee helped Grandma blow out the candles. Zee thought this was the most hilarious thing in the world. We ended up getting Punky to blow out the candles three times just so we could hear Zee laughing hysterically. I've included a video of it at the end of this post so you be infected by her laughter too.

Happy Birthday Mum! We are all so blessed to have you in our lives and we just couldn't live without you! xxx

Do you do much to celebrate birthdays in your family? What's your favourite way to celebrate?

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Father's Day 2014 // Photography

Father's Day this year was a relaxed and easy-going affair. Poor Dave had to work night shift so he spent the day in bed sleeping and I headed over to my sister A's house for lunch with my Dad. We had a huge BBQ thanks to my BIL's excellent cooking, followed by scrummy desserts, tea, coffee, and of course a few naughty treats. The spring sun even managed to make an appearance, allowing us to enjoy some fun in the backyard, teaching Punky how to catch a ball, with often hilarious results.

All in all, it was a pretty special day...

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My Top 5 Best Photo Editing Apps // Photography

There are so many photo editing apps available for phones these days that it can be hard to know where to start. Not all photo editing apps are equal, and a lot of them do pretty much the same thing. From free apps to paid ones, finding a photo editing app that works for you can become a very personal thing. Today I wanted to share with you what I consider to be 5 of the best photo editing apps that I use on an almost daily basis.

I take a lot of photos on my phone and I love to tweak them a little before I upload them to my social networks. Sometimes an image doesn't need anything more than a little cropping, other times I want to tweak it or add a filter to create a certain look I have in mind. Whether you're just wanting to create a simple collage of photos, or create a photo that would also look great hanging on your wall, these are my Top 5 recommendations.

Top 5 of the Best Photo Editing Apps

1. Vintique

I absolutely love this app. I discovered it a couple of years ago and aside from Instagram, it's my most-used app. In fact I often use a filter from Vintique and then don't use an Instagram filter when I upload it there. Vintique is all about the filters and it has lots of them. There is a great selection available in the initial purchase of the app, with the option to add extra packs at a decent price.

Even if you don't want to buy the extra packs you are almost guaranteed to find a filter to suit your needs. The one time that my photo was chosen as a Fab Four in Fat Mum Slim's Photo a Day challenge (image above), it was a photo I had edited in Vintique. This app is super easy to use and you can customise each of the filters. It's well-worth the US$2.49 price tag, and, in my opinion, if you're only going to have one other app for adding beautiful filters to your photos then this is it. Android users are also in luck, because there is a version for you too, and it's actually cheaper for you guys.

2. Camera+

Camera+ is pretty well known amongst iphonographers and for good reason. Not only does it have some pretty awesome photo editing capabilities, but the actual camera you use to take photos with it is considered to be better than just using the camera function in the iPhone itself. For those who understand it, you can control your focus and exposure independent of each other when composing your shot.

If you want to be able to make precision adjustments to your photos then this is the app for you. It also has a range of filters, many of which you'll fall in love with. Some of the old-school filters are the best I've found, and like I said, the actual camera-function itself is worth the price of the app (US$2.49). There is no Android version of this app, but if you check out this website here you'll find a list of some other pretty awesome camera/photo-editing apps that are comparable, some of which I've used (Snapseed, Camera Awesome, VSCO Cam) and can also recommend.

3. Instacollage

There is a free version and a Pro version of this app, and the Pro version is actually available for free for a limited time right now. This is the only collage app I use as it has a huge selection of collage options and layouts, and you can easily change the width of the frames, as well as the colour and drop shadowing.

Instacollage also has fun frames you can use to add to your photos, as well as a limited selection of filters and text options. Personally I don't use the filters or text options, as there are better apps available for this elsewhere, I just use it for creating photo collages and it hasn't disappointed me yet. I'm not sure if there is an Android version of this particular app, but if any Android users have a collage app they can recommend, please let me know in the comments and I'll add it in.

4. Camera 360

Camera 360 is one of the first photo apps I downloaded when I got my iPhone after playing with the Android version that Dave had on his phone. It's lots of fun and has some really cool FX that you can add to your photo.

Everything from making your skin look positively luminous, to turning your photos into sketches worth of an art prize, it's lots of fun to play around with. It's free on both the App Store and Play Store, with the option of buying more fun FX in-app.

5. Face Juggler

This app is purely for the laugh-factor. Basically, you take a photo with two or more people in it and then juggle their faces! It swaps the main facial area of each person with often-times hilarious results! Dave and I spend a good hour sitting on the lounge juggling faces and wetting our pants.

Useful? Not really, it does nothing but juggle the faces. Lots of fun? Absolutely! Face Juggler is the iPhone app and it's free if you only want to swap two faces. I paid up for Face Juggler Plus which allows you to swap more than 2 faces at a time and I believe in the new version you can share your double face juggles to get access to the Plus version. Android also has a version of this, Face Swap. I don't know how similar it is to Face Juggler, but from looking at it on the Play Store it looks pretty similar.

Bonus: There are also a number of apps that I haven't mentioned above that get more than a workout on my phone and are rightly deserving of a special mention and more than likely a future blog post!

They are:
Little Moments by Fat Mum Slim
Rhonna Designs
A Beautiful Mess
and for creating awesome visual quotes, you can't go past WordSwag.

So tell me, what are your favourite photo-editing apps? 

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