Valentine’s Day Gifts and Dinner on a Budget…

Often the word Valentine can be associated with expensive gifts, lavish nights out and flashy restaurants… and all this so soon after getting over the January pinch $$$!

Here at Coolaz the team have put together a ‘recipe book’ style feature flowing with recipes and cute gift ideas that will be sure to tantalise your tastebuds and wow your loved one this Valentine’s Day!

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Why not start with some Lunchbox Love…

If your sweetheart is off for a normal day at work and you are unable to share a romantic midday snack together then why not offer to make their lunch for them, pack it up into a cute little box full of extra special treats! Make sure that you whip up some gorgeous sandwiches packed full of your loved one’s favourite fillings and cut them into heart shapes!

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Move onto to a Romantic Dinner …

Your Valetine’s meal together doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t even have to go out! There are so many home cook dinners that you could make for eachother, whether you are a beginner in the kitchen or a wanna be gourmet chef there are so many step by step recipes out there, so set your very own masterchef challenge and wow your other half with something delicious this year – and remember presentation is everything!

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Make sure that you plate everything up onto eco-friendly, biodegradable plates and use equally as green disposable utensils … this will mean no arguments about the washing up, simply dispose of your eating tools into the correct recycling can! Then all that will be left it to do is simply sit back and relax!

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Maybe your ideal dinner-in would be to cook together, put on your matching aprons and work as a team in the kitchen! One half could read the recipe while the other actively chops and prepares or you could have set tasks each to make things easier and then do the cooking bit together – how romantic! If you’d rather cook alone then I always find the “I’ll cook, you clean” rule works pretty well. Or there is always the take-away option for a naughty but nice treat at home!

And finish up with some personalised gifts…

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Get in touch with your crafty side and DIY some gifts this year, gather together your lover’s favourite goodies, chocolate bars and more, bundle them together in a box or red bucket and fasten them with a cute ribbon!

Homemade cards are always great, it can be as fancy and creative or as simple as you like, you could simply cut out a heart shape from some red material and fasten it to the front of the card, after all it is the words inside that will be the important thing.

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If your other half is fond of a cold beverage then why not order them a little something online, a wine or champagne bucket, or beer coolers with a difference. Be sure to check out some of our new designs like the ones shown below – you can grab personalised stubby holders either in a ‘be my valentine’ fashion or something completely different!

valentines stubby holders

Check out our Top 5 Aphrodisiac Recipes!

Designed especially for a romantic night in for two and perfect for your special Valentine’s dinner, there does seem to be a theme of heart shape things, red ideas and strawberries …

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1. Oysters Kilpatrick

Considered a natural aphrodisiac, why not make this as a starter for your romantic night in!

2 cups rock salt

24 oysters, shucked

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

175g thin rashers rindless bacon, diced

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

lemon wedges, to serve

Preheat grill on medium-high heat. Place rock salt, in a thick layer, on a baking tray or heatproof plate. Arrange oysters (in their half-shells) on rock salt. Sprinkle Worcestershire sauce over oysters. Top with bacon. Grill, on the salt, for 5 to 8 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon.

2. Strawberry and Feta Salad

This unusual combination of strawberries, feta cheese, toasted almonds and romaine lettuce in a sweet and tangy dressing is sure to be a winner – A guaranteed pleaser for your other half!

1 cup slivered almonds

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 head romaine lettuce, torn

1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Nice and simple – lightly toast the almonds first and set aside to cool. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, raspberry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. In a large bowl, toss together the toasted almonds, romaine lettuce, strawberries, and feta cheese. Cover with the dressing mixture, and serve.

3. Wine Sauce Chicken

6 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut

into 2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream

of mushroom soup

1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup slivered almonds for topping

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Place the chicken in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer until the chicken pieces are no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms; cook and stir until the mushrooms are lightly browned and have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Place the chicken pieces in the prepared baking dish and add the sautéed mushrooms. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine and heat the soup, milk, Cheddar cheese and garlic powder. Remove from heat and add the white wine and mayonnaise. Pour mixture over the chicken and mushrooms. Top with slivered almonds and grated Parmesan cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

4. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (love bugs)

These cute dipped treats are a simple yet affective dessert or appertiser! You could even paint little faces on with white choc or an icing pen to make them into little love-bugs.

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 pint fresh strawberries with leaves

Cook chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth. Holding berries by the stem, dip each one in molten chocolate, about three-quarters of the way to the stem. Place, stem side down, on wire rack and chill in refrigerator until hardened.

5. Strawberry Love heart Sponge Cakes

350g double unfilled round sponge cake

250g cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup thickened cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

250g strawberries, hulled, sliced

1/2 cup strawberry jam

1 tablespoon pure icing sugar

Place sponge cake layers on a chopping board. Using an 8cm heart-shaped cutter, cut 3 hearts from each cake. Using a sharp knife, gently split each heart in half. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add cream and vanilla. Beat until mixture thickens.Spread cream cheese mixture over sponge cake bases. Top with strawberry slices. Place jam in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on high (100%) for 30 seconds or until warm and runny. Spoon warm jam over strawberries. Sandwich together with sponge tops. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Top 5 – Love Potions

valentines stubby holders

Assorted Champagne mixtures and yummy cocktails!

1. Sparkling Strawberry cocktail

30ml strawberry liqueur

2 large strawberries, washed, hulled, sliced

1 x 200ml btl chilled dry sparkling white wine

Divide the liqueur and strawberries evenly between 2 serving glasses.

2. Frozen mango and vodka cocktails

4 large mangoes, peeled, flesh chopped

125ml (1/2 cup) water

80g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) finely chopped palm sugar

240g (2 punnets) raspberries

500ml (2 cups) vodka Top each glass with the sparkling wine to serve.

Spread chopped mango over a tray. Place in freezer for 3 hours or until frozen. Meanwhile, combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to the boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until liquid reduces by one-third (see microwave tip). Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Place raspberries and sugar mixture in the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. Place half the frozen mango and vodka in the jug of a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large jug. Repeat with remaining mango and vodka. To serve, layer the mango and raspberry purees among serving glasses and serve immediately.

3. Champagne cocktails

1 litre frozen passionfruit sorbet (we used Weiss Frutia)

750ml sparkling white wine, chilled

Place half the sorbet in a blender with half the sparkling wine. Process until well combined. Pour into 4 chilled glasses. Repeat with remaining sorbet and sparkling wine. Fill 4 more glasses. Serve.

4. Pom-pom cocktails

200g berry sorbet

300ml pomegranate juice (or juice of 3 pomegranates), chilled (see Notes)

150ml vodka, chilled

Chill 4 martini glasses in the freezer. Whiz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into the chilled martini glasses, then serve ice-cold.

5. Cosmopolitan Champagne

250ml (1 cup) cranberry juice

2 tbs Cointreau liqueur

2 tbs fresh lime juice

6 sugar cubes

1 x 750ml btl chilled pink Champagne

Place cranberry juice in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until reduced by two-thirds. Remove from heat and set aside for 30 minutes to cool. Combine the cranberry juice, Cointreau and lime juice in a small jug. Place a sugar cube in each serving glass. Pour the cranberry mixture over the sugar. Top with Champagne or sparkling wine and serve immediately.

Happy Valentines Day!

Australia’s Northern Territory! Great place for a Wedding!

From the coast to the red centre the Nothern Territory has so much to offer! With a landscape like no other stretching from Australia’s famous monolith Uluru, to the Barkly tablelands and the tropical north where wetlands and waterfalls cut through the national parks to create a stunning backdrop for any wedding photograph! Make sure that you take some time out to meet the locals and soack in the rich aboriginal culture and history, be mindful to watch out for some other locals like the crocodile!

Darwin & Surround

With its tropical outdoor lifestyle, beautiful harbour scenery, surrounded with WWII history and its cuisine heavily influenced by its near by Asian neighbours, Darwin is a true adventure paradise for you and your guests.

Renowned for it’s sunset markets, if you need to pick up a last minute gift for the bride and groom, or grab some final wedding decorations then you’ve come to the right place as you can expect to see arts and crafts in abundance here!

wedding stubby holders darwin

For a truly unique wedding experience you could take in a Darwin Harbour Cruise or discover the Melville and Bathurst Islands, (Tiwi Islands) on tropical sailing journey. Say ‘I Do’ onboard a private catamaran! Check our Arafura Sailing Adventures for more ideas!
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground then Darwin also has some amazing hotels and resorts that can cater for all of your needs to create the perfect wedding in Darwin! The amazing SkyCity has some fantastic wedding packages on offer to help you plan your big day!

Kakadu & Arnhem Land

In this stunning location you can witness world Heritage-listed scenery and outstanding rock art, Australia’s largest national park boast cascading waterfalls, giant crocs and exotic birds!

Check out the Wilderness Safari Retreat for some exclusive bush luxury… you can speak to the lodge team about arranging your wedding in Bamurru Plains, an amazing marriage amongst the wildlife.

wedding stubby holders NT

Perhaps for the more adventurous this is somewhere to consider for your honeymoon, you could hire a campervan and takes the Nature’s Way Tourism Drive for a romantic adventure! Experience the Mamukala Wetlands, Nourlangie Rock, Jim Jim and Twin Falls along the way, what an amazing way to start your married lives together.

Katherine & Surrounds

The Katherine region extends from the QLD border in the east to the Kimberly region in the west and is a wonderful gateway to nature and adventure. Perhaps the more remote areas like Elsley National Park would not be ideal for your ceremony but certainly your honeymoon of adventure might start with a bushwalk over the spectacular Katherine Gorge! You could hire a car and go on the drive of your life, crossing the Daley river and onto the Douglas Daley area, off into Butterfly Gorge and explore the many waterholes and hot springs that natures beauty has to offer.

wedding stubby holders katherine

There are heaps of wedding venues in the area including Knotts Crossing, secluded amongst tropical gardens near Katherine River is the perfect location for your wedding in the Northern territory.

Alice Springs & Uluru

Famous for the personality of it’s locals, their love for contemporary art and traditional aboriginal influence along with all the natural wonders around it, Alice Springs is the gateway to your outback adventure and truly Australian wedding location.

You could consider a romantic hot air balloon ride over the West McDonnell Ranges for a truly unique red centre experience! Maybe you could convince your Alice Springs celebrant to go up with you and say your vows in the sky!

Venture out to the spiritual heart of Australia and experience the one true gemstone that is Uluru, also known by the name Ayers rock this awesome sight is a must see. With its extraordinary display of ever changing colours, you cannot miss the natural show at both sunset and sunrise, just amazing!

wedding stubby holders alice springs

Voyages/Ayers Rock resort offers a choice of apartments, a luxury wilderness camp, hotel, backpacker rooms or campground accommodation! You can choose whichever style suits your needs, however the Longitude 131° offers a truly unique experience for your nuptials! In 5-star luxury you and your guests will have private views of the sunset and sunrise over Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, what an amazing way to start your married lives together!

Check out our location design like this awesome Uluru background, just click on the image to take you to some great desigsn, and don’t forget if you can’t find what you’re looking for then you can email our friendly team and they will see what they can find for you!

wedding stubby holders uluru

Happy Planning!

Last Minute New Years Eve Party Ideas!

Happy New Year 2013…! Last Minute New Years Eve Party Ideas!

So you are the host with the most and have been appointed NYE party planner for the celebrations this year! Whether this was a last minute decision or you have simply been caught up in Christmas to get your event planner ‘hat’, look no further than the Coolaz Team for some brilliant quick fix party ideas to get the countdown started…!!

1. Add some Sparkle to your night!

christmas stubby holders

Grab yourself some good old sparklers… generally these can be found in the party section of your supermarket or in any good party store. Be sure to wear gloves and use caution when waving them around, you could all try picking a letter (H.A.P.P.Y) and write happy new year in the air! Better to spark up when it’s dark for the full effect!

2. New Year Party Photographer!

Candid happy snaps are the way of the world with social media and sharing apps making it so much more fun to catch someone unawares! But be sure to appoint an official photographer for the night to avoid the “I thought you were taking some pics” scenario and the big event not being captured on camera at all…! Or you could grab a bunch of disposable cameras and hand them out. It is so nice to sit down in the New Year and look back at the memories and the moment the clock strikes midnight!!

3. Fancy Dress & Costume Party Themes

If your friends would be up for a last minute challenge and an excuse to hit the boxing day sales then make your NYE party compulsory fancy dress! You could make it an ‘anything goes theme’ or choose something particular to give everyone a starting point… such as a Masquerade Ball, Wear Pink, or Your Favourite Animal…!

I love the idea of an Op-Shop Theme, make it a requirement that the chosen outfit is purchased from a local charity shop, it can be a sensible outfit or something wild but no cheating the attendee must bring the receipt to prove their purchase!

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4. New Year’s Resolutions and Party Games

Maybe you are having a smaller get together with a close group of friends, then why not think up a few party games to get the laughs flowing into 2013! You could start by writing your new year’s resolution onto a piece of paper and throwing them into a bowl, take it in turns to read one out and guess who it belongs too. Games like ‘Celebrity Head’ are always great, write the name of someone famous onto a post it note and stick it on your friends forehead, they can then ask closed questions to which you can answer only yes or no to gain clues about who they might be! Great fun!

5. Personalised Party Gifts and Favours

So maybe you’ve picked a theme for your party and there is the perfect gift to match or you simply want to give a party favour to everyone that’s coming as a memento to remember their night into 2013! There are some great DIY party favour ideas such as named champagne flutes, you can use stickers to decorate each one with a name, or perhaps a number or edible gifts are always fun – 2013 cupcakes, cookies and biscuits that can be iced and decorated in your party colours!

Be sure to check out Coolaz party favour stubby holders, these can be personalised with each of your guest names and created to be any colour, any theme and any design to suit your New Year Celebrations! Check out some of our latest designs to get you in the mood for a party, don’t forget that all of our online designs can be adapted to suit your event or theme…

Design Ref: NYE001-Cosmic-Party.jpg

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Design Ref: NYE005-I-Rocked.jpg

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Design Ref: NYE003-Country-Fireworks.jpg

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Design Ref: NYE002-Sparkling-Colour.jpg

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Happy New Year!