#100happydays.3

This one sat in my draft folder for the whole of drama school term 3, during which I had zero minutes free per day for 100happydays. I’ll pick it up again now I’m on holiday…

Day 27 #100happydays

What Gabi and I did on Sunday morning.

Day 28 #100happydays

Sunny school run and early morning piano practice.

Day 29 #100happydays

Another day off, another sunny walk in South Hampstead.

Day 30 #100happydays

Feeling down so took myself to the Garden Café to cheer myself up.

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Day 31 #100happydays

An impromptu dash to the Garden Café  with these two monkeys to escape the hail shower.

Day 32 #100happydays

With the fabulous Teal Swan at the Mind Body Spirit Festival workshop.

Day 33 #100happydays

Celebrating Orthodox Easter at a wonderful Romanian restaurant, Crystals Of London.

Day 34 #100happydays

Little trip to the London Transport Museum this morning.

Day 35 #100happydays

Not much better than a pile of new books and time to read them. Nailed Oresteia in one sitting in Foyles’ café. ✔️💪🏻

 

#100happydays

My first 13 #100happydays posts, all in one place…

Day 13 #100happydays

A last visit to the beach with this boy.

Day 12 #100happydays

Prosecco and lemonade at The Llawnroc Hotel with all my favourite peeps, bar one.

Day 11 #100happydays

Happiness is a flower from my boy.

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Day 10 #100happydays

My favourite small people, homemade cappuccino and Cornish skies.

Day 9 #100happydays

Sunny Cornwall! ♥️ My Boys ♥️

Day 8 #100happydays

♥️♥️♥️ REUNITED!!! ♥️♥️♥️

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Day 7 #100happydays

Feeling pretty proud of myself. Both boys’ rooms cleaned and tidied, with love, ready for them coming back home next week. Can’t wait to join them in Cornwall tomorrow. Been a long 10 days.

Day 6 #100happydays

Like an idiot I forgot to take a photo today, but I had a lovely dinner out at Cafè Rouge with the husband and got a free glass of wine.

Day 5 #100happydays

A few hours late… Remus played a stonking performance of Brahms Concerto last night in Bucharest on an amazing Strad! While I was in London rehearsing Chekov’s Three Sisters at school. Thanks to Roza Zah for the photo.

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Day 4 #100happydays

Didn’t catch a photo of it but saw a fire rainbow in the clouds this morning. And as much as we are phenomenally behind and got shouted at a lot all day, I love playing Natasha in Chekov’s ‘Three Sisters’ as well and am really grateful to have the chance to be studying what I really love to do.

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Day 3 #100happydays

My 100happydays Day 3 moment was hearing my sons’ voices on the phone. I miss them so much. ♥️

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Day 2 #100happydays

A fun little acting job for Thom Hoffman and a walk in my favourite street in London this morning.

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Day 1 #100happydays

If you’d like to join in, go to 100happydays.com and register!

Gabi’s 6th Birthday Minecraft Party!

On 4th July our biggest boy and beautiful, minecraft-crazy aspie, Gabs turned a big 6 years old!!! I can’t possibly have a 6 year old! I don’t understand it at all. But I pretended I accept that he really is 6, did his bidding and threw him a full-on Minecraft Pool Party. It was the hottest week of the decade so far in London, hitting 32 degrees and one of the school mums said, “Pleeeeease can you let them have a paddling pool party this Saturday?! It’s so hot!” With 4 days to go to the party and having zero activities planned for twenty Year One children, let alone anything minecraft related, I cried, “HELL, yeah!” without accounting for the fact we didn’t actually own a paddling pool.

The invitations were downloaded for free from a now defunct graphic-designer’s blog. Feel free to grab the jpg.

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The party started at 2:30 (which I correctly guessed was precisely the earliest minute I could get the party ready if I got up really early and worked all day.)

I basically planned this party by stealing ideas from other mum’s blogs found on pinterest. I plan all my kids’ parties by making a pinterest board, couldn’t do without it:

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The main feature of the party (apart from the pool) was probably the incredible grass-block cake made by the inimitable Michelle from May The Cake Be With You.

 

IMG_4704It looked amazing just as it was, but we also put some of Gabs’ minecraft figures on top and it was perfect. Michelle has made three cakes for me now and every single one exceeds my expectations. I heartily recommend her.

For the birthday boy we got this minecraft t-shirt to wear from Argos (but cheaper, through hotdealsuk) and the torches came I think from Amazon, from his Aunties Tara and Jen.

 

As we didn’t have a paddling pool, we had to nip out to ToysRUs for one and spend all night putting it up and then returning it for another one in the morning when it, of course, turned out to have a hole in it… We got it inflated and ready only just in time – man, those things take an age to fill! 5 hours to get it to the top. I don’t want to think how many gallons of water that is. But it was totally worth it:

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I had tried to give everyone warning to bring costumes but just in case I filled a tub with the boys’ spare costumes and another with dry t-shirts and shorts, and two big tubs for wet and dry towels. I also had a creeper bean-bag throwing game set up which was really easy to make with a load of green poster paint and a black marker and some minecraft beanie-toys to throw.

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Probably my favourite feature of the party was the playlist of minecraft songs I made for Gabs on YouTube. The most-requested by the whole family was “It’s All About My Base”, which we played so many times while I set up the party it became like the official theme tune for Gabi’s 6th Birthday:

It took me a while to figure out how, because I’m not very tech-savvy (hoping Gabs will step in and teach me sometime soon now he’s six) but I managed to link my youtube account to our TV in the living room and have the playlist of minecraft parodies of loads of current/recently popular hit songs with some really great animations playing when people arrived. It came in handy once they’d got cold and tired of the paddling pool as the living room became a bit of a dance floor. 

Most of my ideas for this party came from various blogs that I found via Pinterest, on my new favourite party-planning website Catch My Party. I had really hoped to link to the individual blogs that helped me but they all seemed to have moved around since I pinned them. If you browse Catch My Party you’ll come across them all.

One of the most useful was the free printables from Printabelle where I got food labels, a Happy Birthday Banner and some other small signs.

For the other decorations including the creeper-face cups and balloons, I used a template from My Sugar Coated Life. At first I tried the black marker like she suggested but this was a disaster probably because I had ridged cups and had only used paper instead of card. Instead, I used the template and black sugar paper from a local art shop and stuck the faces on with double sided photo stickers.

Possibly my favourite craft bit of the party was making the TNT party favours (which I just used as part of the party food) and they were probably the most popular “food” item too.


The party food was kind of random. I had already downloaded the food labels and went along with the general premise of only serving foods they actually have in the world of the game. Luckily the party was between mealtimes so it didn’t quite matter and the kids loved it. We had watermelon for minecraft melon, chicken nuggets, strawberries as redstone, carrots and apples, chocolate matchsticks as “sticks” and silver-coloured plastic cutlery as “diamond tools”. We had a sign from the free printables over the table saying “Party Food, Nom, Nom, Nom!” which my four year old found hilarious and parroted all day long. I still don’t quite get it.

The kids’ drinks were different cordials poured into empty water bottles with “healing potion” labels. I left the kids to mix their own with the water as a “Mixing Station” and served my parent-friends prosecco (never, EVER throw a kids party without it!), beers, juice and coke.

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Inside, I set up a “crafting table” with printouts of minecraft pictures for colouring, glue and loads of different gems and “ores” for sticking on and a minecraft lego set. I really added it just to have something “mine-crafty” indoors to carry the theme and was pleasantly surprised to find a few of the girls actually staying there a long while and making some arty stuff.

Once everyone had gone crazy in pool (oh, the screaming!), eaten all the food and had a dance to the minecraft songs, we did the cake.

The party bags were meant to have creeper faces on but I ran out of steam! At least they were green, and aswell as cake and sweets, had some crayon blocks that looked vaguely minecrafty and some plastic toys.

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And then since the kids were all having a pretty great time and we mums were getting pretty merry on the prosecco and it was a gorgeous sunny evening, we just kept the party going for a few more hours until it started to go dark and the kids were sleepy! It was a brilliant day. A lot of work to set up, but totally worth it. Gabs absolutely loved his party and all his friends ran up to me at school on Monday to tell me what a great time they’d had, so we might do it again next year!

 

 

Coco & Gabs in Paris! … Day Two

The Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel is a very business-class, modern style hotel so not for you if you’re looking for boutiquey Parisian romance, but it was perfect for us for it’s amazing proximity to it’s namesake landmark. It was a little run down in some places, (like if you looked up to the balcony above – but why would you?!) but Gabs loved it and I have to say this: The bed was AMAZING! I had an unbelievably good night’s sleep and only struggled to get out of it the next day because we had overdone it the day before. I really wanted to make the most of every minute before our train back to London for Gabi’s sake, so had set my alarm for 07:30 (06:30 GMT) so we could go out early. Ha! Fat chance. And although Gabs got himself up at 8am and, unbelievably for him, dressed himself! I quickly realised I wasn’t the only one who was feeling it, as you can see from his face! …

 I was going to take the boy out to a café for croissants and chocolate milk but he had got the idea stuck in his head that he had to have breakfast in the hotel, so down we went and it was actually really great. He stuffed himself with mini-pain au chocolats until he couldn’t move and I had sausage and scrambled eggs, a bucket of cappuccino and a lot of very good, freshly-squeezed orange juice. Like that helps you climb 704 steps…

When weIMG_0179 first looked out on our balcony, the top of the tower was completely shrouded in fog! It had never occurred to me that could happen and we were both delighted with how creepy cool it looked, though it had mostly cleared by the time we got there.

Having done the trip to the top by lift in the night time, our plan (devised by Gabs) was to take the stairs to levels one and two in the daylight. First, we walked round the park to get a really good view of the whole thing and I was so happy to see Gabs just as excited about it as the day before and talking all the time about how amazing it was. Then we climbed the 704 steps to the second floor, which for a little boy with hyper-mobility issues who usually whinges about pains in his legs when walking, he scampered up remarkably quickly! There is a staggering amount of steel inside the tower and Gabi was fascinated by the fact that it all comes from Romania (where his Daddy’s from) and pondered how they got it all over here without the ship sinking…

The view of Paris was a little foggy and Gabs wasn’t that bothered by it anyway, he loved being inside the stairwell the best so we went down to the first floor which is all redone since I was there last. Gabs was really disappointed the ice-rink is only there at Christmas time as he liked the sound of trying it out, but 30 seconds later he was distracted by the gift shop where we got gifts for Daddy and Luci. The great thing about the new first floor is the transparent floor, which made me dizzy but didn’t bother Gabs at all who was just fascinated by seeing people like ants on the ground below. Apparently it was even scarier when they first put in completely clear glass and people were getting freaked out by vertigo so now they have tiny little dots in it so you can kind of tell you’re standing on something.

Skipping back down the steps Gabi saw two young, friendly-faced Japanese boys, maybe 20-25 yrs old, one of whom wore a bright-red jumper. Don’t know what possessed him but he stared the guy straight in the face and said in a loud voice, “Hel-lo, ‘Mr Tomato’!” The guys looked taken aback but laughed and then a few steps later, still in their ear-shot, Gabi noticing the “600 steps” mark on the steel cries out, “600 steps to go??! NO! That is just an INSULT!!!” I tried not to laugh and said that if anything is was an insult it was probably the “Mr. Tomato” comment. If you like travelling incognito and doing your sightseeing without attracting too much attention, Gabi’s probably not the person to go with…

So Gabi said his goodbyes to the tower and we pootled off down the very pretty Avenue de Suffren back to our new favourite place where we’d had dinner the night before. The same smiley waiter greeted us and I was really proud of Gabs who is – mystifyingly for a half-Romanian – massively resistant to speaking any foreign languages at all, for managing to say, “Je voudrais un chocolat chaud s’il-vous-plait” (and it was one bad-ass Parisian hot chocolate the like of which I never tasted in my life) before falling asleep – again! – under my coat, to the bemusement of our waiter who remembered us from the night before. At lunch time ‘Saffren’ is full of well-dressed native Parisiens and business people sharing a bottle of wine (why am I only person holding up my end of that convention in London?!) over giant platters of glazed spare-ribs, lobster-and-oysters or steak frites. It was nice to be surrounded by natively-spoken French and you know you’ve found a good-‘en when the locals eat there.

While Gabs slept and I had coffee and crème brûlée, the waiter came over to chat and tell me about his son who is studying at a university in London. It was clear that he missed and was proud of him, and it seemed to me that he felt, through talking with us just before we went for our train he was making some sort of energetic contact with his son, through us. Such a look of fatherly love mixed with sadness in his eyes, like he wished with everything he had he could jump on that train in our place. We will go back and find him next time we are back in Paris.

Meanwhile, Gabs played Atlas with his mini Eiffel Tower in the lobby while I charged my phone and then it was time to say goodbye for the last time to his beloved steel monument (even I got a bit emotional, his obsession has rubbed off on me and after so many hours spent with that bloody tower, I started to think of it as a person – what the hell?!). Then a tired boy rode the metro back to Gare du Nord and was, again an angel all the way home. The journey home was as beautiful as the rest, with this sunset appearing as we travelled through the French countryside to the tunnel, and Gabs was good enough that I could sneak off the buffet car for a last glass of bubbles…

At this point, before we make our return to London and real life, I have a confession to make: I never did give much of a crap about Paris, as a concept. I mean, everyone always falls over themselves to get to kiss at the top of the Eiffel Tower, Americans in movies shriek with excitement when they get to go, and I understand it’s atmospheric and beautifully constructed, but I just couldn’t make myself want to go. I don’t know why! Well, I don’t know what Gabs has done to me, or if it was the wine or being at the le tour itself for so many hours and it just grew on me, but first of all it is just a spectacular piece of art and the longer I looked at it the more it fascinated me, and second of all I started to feel at home in Paris and suspect that it might be just a tad friendlier than it dares to let on. Maybe it was just being in such good company and seeing it all through my Gabi’s eyes, but I really started to fall a little bit in love with this city… Paris, we will be back! ❤

And LOOK what was waiting for us at London Kings X-St Pancras!!!

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Nothing Paris has to offer could be more beautiful…

Messy Play for Matilda Mae – Silver & Gold Leaves Christmassy Wreath

I’ve really missed Messy Play for Matilda Mae over the last few months. This is our first messy play in the new house (which really isn’t that new anymore!) which should tell you in one second that I’m really not … Continue reading