Wednesday, 25 March 2015

We LOVE visitors!!!

Oh how we love visitors! and February was the month for them! every week brought new people which was ever so exciting! You can see from the picture above what Ella thinks about visitors too!! hehe! Our first visitor was Granny Kathy, who had been staying in the UK since Christmas for Ella's Birthday before she headed off to her new house in South Africa.

She came a few days before Ella's birthday so she got to spend some time with the birthday girl one on one.  Ella thought she was pretty great to have around!

Books and cuddles before bed! 

and she also joined us on our birthday trip to the Zoo too! 

On a very late Thursday night after a very long megabus ride from London which she almost missed, Auntie Mara arrived! We wasted no time the following day, and since it was a blue sky day we headed for the mountains!

which were covered in snow!!! Unfortunately it had rained the night before and frozen the melted snow back into ice, so the path we usually climb to get to Cwm Idwal was super slippy.  So slippy that By kept falling over with Ella in the backpack, and Granny Kathy didn't have suitable footwear so her and Ella chilled out in the visitors room whilst we had a quick walk up to the lake.

I think this was my very favourite trip to Cwm Idwal because everything just looked so beautiful in the snow.

Mara and By did the daredevil stuff like stepping out on to the lake! which I was a little bit horrified at! and then Byron started throwing himself down on his belly and sliding along the ice...and I was getting even more panicked! but it was pretty solid ice, we threw rocks at it and it didn't even crack!

Mara got to live out her childhood dreams of being an ice skater sort of! 

Ella was all smiles after, once she was warm and cosy and not slipping over on ice!!

The next morning, the complete Braithwaite/Jones/Ide gang arrived for Ella's party! so we were a full house! Whilst the babies napped, we told everyone of the fun that had been had at the frozen lake the day before so By and Mar went off for round 2 with Cam and Ja and Mel!

Even more snowy and beautiful than the day before! 

Mara and Cam showing off their moves! 

and catching an awesome sunset just before they left! with all limbs intact, thank goodness!

On a lovely Sunday afternoon the following week, our friends Laura and Javan came over for lunch.  They were in our church congregation the last time we lived here in Penmaenmawr...but they've since moved about an hour away so it was fun to have them come visit...and see Esme all grown up and baby Jude in action! 

Ella was in 7th heaven having Esme chase her over and over! she kept requesting more and Esme kept obliging, a great little set of buddies! 

What a bunch of little cuties! Ella sure does love having other children around! 

The following week some of my uni friends came to visit and check out some of the Welsh scenery! I was madly checking my weather app the whole week leading up to their trip as knew they were keen to do some hiking but every day I looked the weather for Saturday got worse and worse! 

Eventually Saturday came and it was pretty sunny and pleasant where we live on the coast, but the mountains were still forecasting heavy rain. We went to Cwm Idwal anyway and fortunately it didn't rain, but we did have crazy gale force winds! 

It proved a bit much for poor little Ella so she chilled in the car with her Daddy whilst we had a quick hike around!

All smiles, despite the crazy weather! The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying lots of yummy food, and homemade desserts! and games were on the cards but we just got too busy chatting! Love these friends of ours and wish we didn't all live so far apart! Really appreciated all the driving they did to reach us! Some of the Londoners only arrived at 3am!! Now that is dedication! 

The last of our visitors was Laur, one of my besties from back home.  I was especially excited about her and Sam and Lilia coming to visit because they were bringing a very important Rosie! 

She's the camera shy one passed out on Laura's lap! hehe! We started our day at Hickory's for some steak and shake fun! Laur is a big milkshake lover like me so we always like to indulge when we get together!

A giant steak and a snickerlicious milkshake for only £10? I'll take that Steak n Shake Tuesday's!!

Lilia and Ella loved their balloons!

and back home we got the babies to do some posing! The last time I saw Lilia was last summer so it was lovely to see the adorable little girl she is turning into, and she is quite the chatterbox these days - loved her cheeky little personality coming out! 

I love this one, it's like Lilia and Ella are really fussing over baby Rosie! 

It's easy to see why, she's completely adorable! look at those gorgeous blue eyes!

So fun to get to catch up and have fun with all the babies! 

Had to snap a little pic of the recently turned 4 person Brooker family! Aren't these guys lovely! 

Ella wasted no time in showing Lilia how her toys worked!

and baby Rosie did what newborns do best...and slept the day away - what a peaceful sleeper! Their visit certainly made us excited for the day when our family expands!

We've been on quite the lonesome comedown these past 2 weeks since our last visitors left! but oh what fun it was having so many people come to see us! We don't really have any more visitors lined up for now...because we will be departing these shores in around 8 weeks, not that I'm counting or anything ;) 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Hello Kitty Happy Birthday for Ella Bella!

Ella Bella had a Hello Kitty theme for her party because she's all about the cats! and has become quite the Hello Kitty fan over the past couple of months! 

I made a bunting using all her monthly photos we had taken and was so happy with how it turned out - it was amazing to see how much she had changed with each passing month! and how much more hair had grown towards the last few months!!

These confetti balloons came all the way from Abu Dhabi! randomly after an etsy seller I'd been following for months who was based in London moved there just before I was about to place my order! Fortunately, she still ships to the UK! and I was so happy with how well they went with the colour scheme! 

Daddy worked tirelessly all morning putting everything into place and getting it just so, Mommy may have turned into a crazy perfectionist at times...but I kept saying 'she's only going to turn one once' so everything had to be perfect! and Auntie Mara also helped behind the scenes in the kitchen helping with all the finishing touches - I couldn't have done it without her!

I made this tissue paper garland after watching a few youtube tutorials on how to do it, and it was so super easy - now I will be wanting to make them for everything, they are so fun! 

 I think the whole table came together pretty well! and my weeks worth of baking was worth the effort!

Grandad Jones painted this number 1 in his workshop especially for the occasion! It fit in perfectly with the table!

Auntie Mara whipped up these coconut cupcakes, with fresh raspberry frosting and got these adorable Hello Kitty toppers printed especially for the occasion! 

I love how fun they turned out! and the cupcakes were so delicious! 

These Hello Kitty macarons almost never happened!! I have never made macarons before and they are known for being tricky to master! So I think it was the 4th attempt when I finally had some success! 

Mastering homemade marshmallows proved much easier, I flavoured these ones with coconut and then dipped them in chocolate and coated in extra coconut! 

No party is a party without pretzels so I dipped these in white choc and gave them a little Hello Kitty flair to finish off with, thanks Pinterest! 

and these chocolate covered oreo's were super cute!

There were hello kitty plates...

and chevron striped cutlery...and Granny Jones made this lovely little arrangement because you can't have a dessert table without flowers!

The drinks jars with little colour co-ordinating doilies on was another Pinterest find! and we served raspberry lemonade for fun!

 and then the centrepiece of the table - the cake! A 6 layer chocolate fudge cake, sandwiched with vanilla pink ombre swiss meringue buttercream and finished off with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream! and a little bit of kitty and bunting and sprinkles to finish it all off! 

You will notice there was no fondant in sight at Ella's party, I am a fondant hater! and don't understand why you would make a cake that looks good but doesn't taste good! So I'm going to try and keep making Ella's cakes totally edible and delicious...until a few years time when I'm sure she'll want some crazy character cake and I might have to give in - but even then I'll try my best to not use it!! 

We decorated the front door to let everyone know they were in the right place! 

and hung this cute little kitty garland in the lounge...although according to my dad he thought they were sheep!!

and little miss Ella donned her Hello Kitty party frock and we were ready for the guests to arrive!

In fact, I think Ella saw some through the window at this exact moment!!

We had a full house of all the immediately family.  Granny and Grandad Braithwaite came up from Bedford as did Uncle Ja, and Uncle Cam came from uni in Loughborough.  Auntie Mara came from London, Auntie Mel and Uncle Arne and Ellis came from Yorkshire and Granny and Grandad Jones and Auntie Alli came from Shropshire!

As soon as everyone arrived it was time for some of Daddy's famously delicious slow cooked pulled pork! So this shot was everyone chowing down! on some pulled pork dogs with homemade guac and chips! 

even the birthday girl was a fan! 

After lunch it was time for present opening, and Ella had quite the mound to get stuck into! 

which she was clearly thrilled about! 

There is nothing she loves more than ripping paper apart!

and reading all the lovely cards everyone gave her! She's quite advanced for a 1 year old ;) 

I made sure I broke out my co-ordinating ring for the day!

Ella got not one, but two Hello Kitty's of her own! 

This one came all the way from Japan, the real deal! Grandad Braithwaite brought it back for her from his business trip! I don't know many 1 year olds who would be lucky enough to be gifted one of those, I was seriously jealous!!

and this beautiful blanket was made by her talented Granny using all her little newborn outfits. It will be such a lovely keepsake for her to treasure always!

After Ella opened all her presents, she handed around presents for all the guests!

Each party bag had a Hello Kitty lollipop and a personalised mini book of photos of Ella and the family member!

We took a breather before we started on the desserts! So Ella got spoilt by all the attention, reading books with Uncle Ja...

and showing him her ballapalooza in action!

and snuggling down with Auntie Mel and cousin Ellis!

and engrossed in some of her birthday prezzie books of Bizzy Bear from Granny Jones! They are her faves! 

Trying to convince Ellis, but he wasn't too sure!!

Then it was time to break out the cake! which I was super excited about! Ella had never had any cake or chocolate before so I thought she was going to devour it and eat up every last crumb! 

My expectations were high! We lit a candle that played happy birthday, and it proved pretty difficult to blow out.

 I think it took me 6 attempts if you were counting!

The cake got cut, we oohed and ahhed at the ombre inside! and Ella got the first big fat slice!

 We all stood around watching, waiting for her to adore her 1st birthday cake! and this is what happened next....

yes, what an anti climax! My daughter apparently doesn't like chocolate cake!!! 

I was devastated, not because of all the effort I had put into the cake, I knew everyone else would enjoy it anyway but because I wanted her to have some yummy treats on her big day!

After cake, half the party guests went off to the mountains to play on a frozen lake we had played on the day before!

My nerves couldn't handle it two days in a row! so I stayed back with the birthday girl.

...and let these crazies do their thing! Fortunately there weren't too many injuries, just a few cold feet that may have slipped through the ice at a couple of points!

Undeterred by the cake fail, I gave Ella a chocolate covered oreo! and she did actually eat some of it!

Not the whole thing, but I saw a smile and I saw some chocolate enjoyment going on so that made me feel better about things!!

The party girl went down for a nap, it's tiring work being the birthday girl you know! and once everyone else returned it was time for some photo booth action! 

I'd set up a little prop area, with Hello Kitty party hats and blowers, and Daddy and Granny Braithwaite had helped me make this frame so we were good to go! 

The birthday girl got her pic taken with all the guests!

Granny Jones and Auntie Alli

Granny Braithwaite

Both the Grandads! 

Auntie Mara, Auntie Mel and Ellis!

and again with Auntie Mara!

Both her Braithwaite uncles! 

and even one with Uncle Arne, despite him not being a fan of photos!

Clearly the photo thing was wearing thin by the end! Look at that furrowed brow 'Mom, you're cramping my style'!!! 

It was such a lovely special day filled with all our favourite people who have so much love for our precious little 1 year old! Some very happy memories were made! and I just couldn't stop thinking the whole day where did that year go! how are we parents of a 1 year old! 

We held her party on the Saturday because we don't do parties on the Sabbath, so she woke up on Sunday 8th - her actual birthday and we wanted to make her morning special! So we glammed up her highchair and made her special blueberry pancakes for breakfast - blueberries are her fave! 

We headed to church and then came back for another round of present opening of gifts she had been sent through the post.

By now she knew the drill well, and got stuck right in!

It's almost like she was intently listening to each card I read her out!

She was one spoilt baby with so much love and thoughtfulness from friends near and far!

and she soaked up those Auntie Mara and Ellis cuddles one last time before it was time for them both to head home!

Well done if you made it to the end of this post! There was just so much fun I wanted to document it all! We so appreciated all the travelling everyone did on Ella's behalf! and for all the love that surrounds her!

She is one special little one year old, that's for sure!