And boom! just like that 2 months passed by, it’s now July here in L.A and it’s a sweaty one I tell ya! Some things that have happened: We had the Halsteads over for two… More
I remember when I was younger asking my mum what she wanted for Mother’s Day, or what she wanted to do, she replied the same thing when it’s her birthday or Christmas – she wants something I have made or just be there for the day. I always thought this was strange but now I completely get it. Mother’s day and its meaning has a whole new sentimental feeling now i’m a mum. It’s a day where you realise that, wow! what you have achieved is actually something quite spectacular. To raise a baby (including animal babies) is hard work! that’s a lot of responsibility for anyone and the fact you have a day to appreciate that must mean its a big deal!
So for my first ever one Mark so very thoughtfully made it a day to remember.
But before we’re going to delve into that I wanted to just talk about the much hyped Au Fudge restaurant. We went there the day before to celebrate Summer’s BFF’s birthday, little Yuna turned one and we needed to make this a big deal so we went to a celebrity owned “kid friendly” Au Fudge restaurant in Beverly Hills. This celebrity happened to be Jessica Biel..and also Justin Timberlake’s wife.
My honest opinion though, is that I thought it would be more kid friendly. I mean, the tables and chairs are pretty close together and no strollers are allowed in the actual restaurant. They had a pretty good selection of high chairs but the food options were minimal for the kids (especially for one year olds and under). We opted for the mac and cheese which was pretty tasty and went down well with the babies. What I wasn’t too impressed with though was when they put the food down they told us “be careful the plate is very hot” and then proceeded to put it down RIGHT in reach of Yuna. Luckily Joe spotted this and was there with his protective dad arm to move it completely away. Overall the staff just didn’t seem to like children! maybe its because they’re surrounded by them all day – but we had our reservation for 4.30pm so it wasn’t too busy at all.
The selling point of this place is they have their own “creative space” which is super nice, well decorated, beautiful airy room that kids can play – but, you have to pay to go in! So from the outside it looked pretty nice! I saw they had “au pairs” that work in there that can look after your child whilst you eat – this is a super great idea but think it would be more beneficial for kids 2 and up.
Overall though, the food was delicious – I wanted to take more pics of the food and our seats but the actual restaurant where we ate was pretty dark. Maybe we wouldn’t have noticed it as much if the other rooms weren’t so airy and light, but you can see what I mean in this picture.
But they do have a fun photobooth and the interior of the place is pretty cool!
My advice is if you go to ask for seating in the patio area – it’s bright and colourful in there and looks like it had comfy cushions too! After saying all this though, I would probably still go again, the wine we had was pretty yum and I think as Summer gets older it will be more fun as she can play whilst us guys can get on with adulting!
So the big day arrived and I came downstairs to Summer giving me a card that she had scribbled all over herself. I could already feel myself welling up but just didn’t want to show it, and then Mark with a bunch of flowers telling me we’re getting my present later – I get presents!!
That present was a trip to the ceramic cafe Color Me Mine in Santa Monica where I got to paint something of my choice! This was creative and sentimental! way to go Dad! we ended up painting an “I love you” mug which is complete with a *really* messy baby hand print. I had free for all with what to do and my mind got a bit carried away and ended up with the most random and most sentimental piece of clay i’ll ever own. I can’t wait to pick it up in a weeks time.
Next stop was Universal Studios! we have an annual SoCal Pass so its a nice feeling knowing we can kind of go there whenever we want (except for black out dates which we once realised as we pulled into the carpark…) we know we couldn’t really do any of the rides today, but we could just enjoy being there and look around and watch a show. We ended up eating our lunch whilst watching the Transformers “Meet and Greet” (apparently Summer cheered when Megatron came out – everyone else boo’d….) We played in the Minions Super Silly Fun land and we watched the Animal Actors show – which is very entertaining! I didn’t think Summer would be able to follow all the animals, but she was so, so excited every time a dog came onstage or everyone applauded. Much to my surprise and amusement she was right there cheering along with them all.
Overall I had a super great day with my little family. Just what I needed really as it can sometimes be quite all overwhelming this mothering stuff! Hope you all had a great mothers day too! let me know how you all celebrated 🙂
So my parents left today and suddenly the feeling of when we left them 5 months before all came flooding back and obviously I got a bit emotional. 3 weeks went super fast and it’s so much to write in a blog post as so here’s some highlights and summaries- get comfy.
- we picked my parents up from the airport and my mum had literally got about 30 different dresses for Summer ranging from fitting her right now until the age of 3! Each dress we pulled out Summer ooooohd and ahhhh’d and examined each dress. It was this point I realised we have a very girly girl
- then Suddenly Summer got very sick and clingy and high temperature and the what’s that noise? Oh, it’s her cough that sounds like a seal. Hello Croup. Nice of you to join us a week before her big party.
- Mark passed his driving test! That was Wednesday, Friday we get a new car and Saturday he’s driving to Santa Monica with a whole car full of things for the party day.
- the big party. 8am and the bbq is already going and our house is brimming with food and all the best smells. By 11am we are by the beach reserving our area and blowing up balloons and inflatables. Everyone starts arriving and big smiles everywhere. My family from all over California start showing up as does the fog and marine lay. The party girl is asleep on her Lola for about 2 hours of it but when she wakes all her baby friends are here and she gets to blow the candle out and eat the biggest slice of cake to herself. She is loving being one.
- then our surprise guest arrives. My cousin Christina surprises us all and has got a flight in (or 3 flights actually) into LA from New Jersey! Everyone is happy, especially her mum who she hasn’t seen for 2 months. Then everyone back to our house – didn’t know we could fit that many people in there but we do and Moana is on for the birthday girl. Drinking and eating carries on late into the night and everyone smiles from a brilliant day.
- new car and long drive to San Diego to see the family. We all stay at auntie Yollys huge house and make use of their pools. So many family members in and out of the house and so much food to go along with it. It was actually pretty good this time around as we got to explore more with the car and San Diego really is pretty!
- we met up with Jocelyn, my high school best friend, can you believe we both have children now? So crazy! We hung out at Seaport Village – it’s very pretty there with lots of little boutiques and places to eat along the harbour.
- back to LA for some tourist time with the folks.
- Universal Studios was super fun even though I had never seen this much rain fall in one day in LA before. It started out a bit rocky where everything goes wrong (yeah we did leave our bag with EVERYTHING in it at Starbucks right at the beginning) but it turned out to be a great day and the rain worked in our favour as there were no lines at the Harry Potter ride (which is amazing I might add) and we got to see a lot, there is so much to see that we ended up getting the SoCal discount card so we will be back soon!
- my parents tried the metro! We went from Grand Central Market to eat ramen and then to Hollywood boulevard to see the stars. Like everyone says, it’s not as nice as you would expect and it’s only one road that’s good. But they did enjoy it. We got to experience downtown LA too- which not gonna lie, did scare me a bit with an active baby and parents who don’t really walk very fast.
- Getty Villa was the place that everyone told me is very parental friendly and you should go. They’re not wrong – so much to see, mum loved all the pretty flowers and herbs and the gardens. Dad liked the architecture and learning about the Greeks and Romans, Summer loved the fountains and Mark loved the views. And me, I loved just being with all of them there as a family.
We also went to other places such as the Observatory, Getty Center, Venice canals, Santa Monica pier etc and all along the way taking a million photos and making even more memories. Overall the whole trip went really fast, but it was so nice to have them here. It’s such a joy to see their faces when they’re around Summer and the fact that they could teach her new things such as “thank you” and “no, no, no, no (complete with finger wiggle) are moments that I am going to cherish forever. Now they’re back in UK and I am counting down the days till we see them again, but for now our freezer is fully stocked with all the food a girl could want. Thanks guys, we love you.
So if any of you have parents coming to visit or are going on a holiday out here and need some tips, then I will be happy to help!
One whole trip around the sun – we hope we have made it a good one for you, this time last year we had no idea how much you would fulfil our lives with your gummy smiles, cheeky laugh, continuous chatting and your infectious ways of getting us to play with you. We didn’t know how much Bare Necessities we had to sing or how we need to carry snacks on us at all times to feed your healthy appetite.
You surprise us everyday whilst we watch you grow into such a beautiful girl.
happy first birthday our little Summer bear.
I can’t believe it’s only been just over 3 months since we moved here, and a part of me can’t believe we’ve actually already been here 3 months already. This is one of those moments when time and logic don’t seem to be working side by side for me, everything feels so slow and yet so fast at the same time.
I’m not gonna say everything has been a bed of roses and its fair to say that we had a few low points in the first 2 months, there were battles with landlords/banks/shipping/permits etc but I guess that’s normal when moving to the other side of the world – we don’t know. We’ve never done anything like this before!
But since 2017 arrived we seem to be finding our feet a bit better and getting some kind of “routine” down. I’ve made some friends here and we’ve worked out where to get our groceries, best sushi, art materials – you know, the essentials from:)
So I thought now would be a good time to write down my top 10 (no particular order) of things I really like about living in LA. It would be interesting if I still feel the same a year down the line.
1.Green tea matcha frappuccino. The BEST refreshing drink around. It’s not too sweet and its green so it looks like you’re being healthy.
2. Culver City – everyone says that you need to drive in LA, but with Culver City where we are residing we seem to have a lot on our doorstep. I mean at the bottom of our road is a hospital, Starbucks AND Sony Studios! we decided to live here as we it’s where Mark’s work is based and we thought at the beginning at least it would be good to not have much commute time. Plus we had Alee and our friends already living here which made it very appealing.
3. Our new table. It was one of those things I had envisioned before we arrived here that we would have this big table and we would have family meals there and have sketchbooks laid out ready to just draw when we want. And since it’s made itself into our living room it’s been exactly that, I am loving the games nights we have around it with our friends. right now I have a half -done puzzle waiting for me to finish it. But, we don’t have any chairs yet so we’re sitting on our boxes full of boxes from our shipping.
4. How soft the towels come out of the dryer. So apparently we’re spoilt as we have a washer and dryer in our apartment! In UK this is standard but not so much here, you’re good if you have one in the same building as your apartment, but to have one actually inside is pretty unique. I am LOVING the ways the towels come out so warm and fluffy, makes me feel like we’re staying in a hotel. But it does make sense why there are scenes in Friends and Big Bang Theory where they hang out in laundrettes all the time – ah the joys of learning life through sit coms.
5. Unlimited data on my phone. I know this one is a bit of a first world thing to bring up, but honestly I feel so lucky to have it! To have this in the UK would be super expensive but out here it seems to be the norm. I’ve found this most helpful when we are lost on our random outings and also those occasions where we need to calm Summer in her car seat – queue Bare Necessities on Youtube on repeat!
6. The sunny weather. It’s very cliche to put this in but it’s true. The weather is so glorious, well its supposedly is. We just happened to move here in the wettest winter since forever (right now there’s actually a storm outside) but when the sun does shine its so lovely! The whole place comes alive and everything just feels that much cooler. I like the vibe that goes with it too – so many places to get ice cream, beaches, everyone on skateboards, sunglasses and cold drinks everywhere! and the sunsets are just stunning.
8. Amylee – she’s my cousin, but she’s more than that. Even though we grew up in different countries we always laugh so much when we’re together, since we’ve moved out here she’s helped us out more than we can imagine- even took us (and our millions of bags) in on the night we had nowhere to live! It’s also amazing to see how much Summer already loves her. It’s such a comforting feeling knowing you have family this nearby when you’ve moved so far out of your comfort zone. Thank you Alee, for the continuous help, the Backstreet Boy drives and the many Ramen’s we will eat together.
9. Mina and Yuna – I will make a separate blog post about these two as I have so much to say about them, but they need to go on my list as they’re one of my favourite things that have happened to me since we’ve moved out here. Mina and Yuna are amazing and they like to eat ice cream. Here’s a pic to prove it.
10. Target – Fun fact, when we first moved to US and were living in the hotel I went to Target everyday. Literally everyday – you would think with no actual home I wouldn’t be able to find things to buy but I really, really did! It’s been our saviour on many occasion and then when Jocelyn introduced me to the Bullseye app it was a game changer. All that choice and the prices pretty low – what’s not to love about that magical place.
So there you have it. There’s my list – materialistic it may be it’s these things that make a place feel more like a home and less like a holiday. Looking forward to expanding this list with our time here. What would you add on yours?
To the lady who was on the bus with me from Abbot Kinney to Culver City. Thank you so much for the bracelet you gave to Summer.
Summer was crying because she wanted to get out and crawl around, which she couldn’t as the bus was packed and she was strapped to me like a little kangaroo. I know you thought it was because she thought she was hungry and decided to tell everyone on the bus you thought that, at first I couldn’t hear you as the screaming from Summer was pretty loud and so you came to sit nearer to me.
As I am British and therefore used to people just staring at the wall or looking at their phones on public transport I was a bit reluctant when you wanted to start a conversation with me. But I’m glad we did and your singing really did calm Summer down. You then were kind enough to take off your plastic bracelet, you had to pull over your hospital band and other bangles too just to take it off. You told me to give it to Summer when she was old enough to wear it and I said I would.
Summer saw the bracelet though and immediately wanted to tug it. As we were getting off the bus I let her hold it as it was making her so happy, a little too happy and excitable that I didn’t realise that she had dropped it just as we were stepping off the bus. It wasn’t until the bus pulled away that I noticed she wasn’t holding it anymore.
So I am very sorry that I am not able to give it to her when she’s old enough to wear it. But I do want to remember you and the kind gesture, and to thank you for breaking down my barrier of thinking strangers (especially on the bus) are all a bit strange. It’s hard to sometimes get past the first appearance of someone before you see how big their hearts are.
Today we said we will start being healthy: reality hit – just a little over 2 months until Summers birthday and we are planning on spending the day on the beach, therefore we need to look good! I mean, I’m gonna be taking a million pics and want to be able to look back at them without wanting to cry at myself!
So now we are going to make better choices on what we eat. Thank goodness the end of Peppermint mocha frappucinos (yum) will be off all the menus!
Mark and me were going to have driving lessons with my cousin Marv today and he lives in Santa Monica so we thought we would go to the shopping area early and get some lunch. On our healthy buzz I suggested going to Flower Child as I had been there before with Caroline and enjoyed it and Mark had never been.
So, in LA I think there are certain ways you can eat when going out. There’s the all you can eat life – where you can get a burger with all the toppings you want and embellish it with all the sides with a side next to your side. Or you can go super healthy life – where everything you eat is Earth friendly and super fresh. This is THAT kind of place, where people go after their yoga session and discuss their latest retreats over arty coffees #latteart
Summer had fallen asleep so it actually felt like the old days when we would go out for lunch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Mark even managed to get the sketchbook out and trying out the new pens we had splurged on the day before ( who knew there were so many different types of black pens…apparently Mark did, and we had to test them all..all of them)
So the menu at Flower Child is made of different bowls or main ingredients and then you pay a little extra if you want to add meat. I went for the two bowl option of spicy cauliflower and smashed potato and then added beef steak on top. If I had some gravy it would have been like a mini roast dinner! but it was still so darn delicious
Mark went for the already made up “forbidden” rice, we weren’t too sure what red japonica was but went for it anyway. In his words, you didn’t need the meat as it was already so tasty. So I’m guessing it was a big hit.
I started looking around and taking in the interior and noticed that everyone here had great style, you were even allowed to bring your dogs there. I spotted quite a few lil pups begging for food under the table. This place even have a place to “park” your yoga mat!
It is slightly pricey, but the quality of the food is good so you can justify it, but think it might be just a special occasion or a nice place to take friends.
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Sawtelle Blvd is its on Japantown, but what we loved about this place (apart from the best cheap Japanese store Daiso with its surgical feeling lights and random things they sold – we came out with nail clippers, a lunch bag, and a mirror..) was they have a really nice Filipino inspired bakery called B Sweet. I had visited before with Alee but after our $2.25 a dish splurge on sushi at Kula and then shaved ice at Blockheads we just couldn’t fit anything else in our bellies, so I had said I would go back another time and today was the day!
It’s towards the end of the street and you have to resist getting bubble tea from many of the cafes along the way, but then there it is all lit up with a cute outside area to sit and eat your treats
We ended up getting a doughnut, but not just any, oh no! This one had ube ice cream in the middle, I mean look at that purple just calling you to eat it!
Next is a personal favourite Filipino dessert of mine, halo halo! This version had both ube and ube ice cream as well as leche flan! But me personally, I feel like it needed more condensed milk
We sat outside with our goods (and so I can take pictures) and I noticed this sweet little sign with the plants
Also, there was a couple who showed up with the best most well groomed poodles, and you know that saying that dogs look like their owners? Well this was the case for sure, one of the dogs was even sat like his owner!
27th December – So the Christmas festivities feel like they are slowly ramping down, which is strange as usually at this time in the UK it becomes Mark and mines most busiest period trying to cram in seeing as many people as possible along the south coast and end up with at least 4 Christmas dinners and a couple of trips to China Garden (ahh I miss China Garden)
I spent a long time feeling like I’m missing a whole whirlwind of magical moments of Christmas 2016, every time I logged onto social media I was seeing pics of people at Winter Wonderland in London or people talking about the adverts on TV, everyone was dressing in an abundance of layers and glamming up for their Christmas parties, which was really lovely but made me realise how it still feels very much like I’m in a bubble out here. Slowly the decorations were coming out in LA and the music was playing in all the shops, but I’m just not sure if I’m ever going to get used to seeing a Christmas tree next to a palm tree.
But to make the most of the situation I seemed to have come across quite a lot of mega huge Christmas trees!
First stop Santa Monica where we met the main man himself Mr Santa Clause. Now this is the most spectacular of all Santa’s I’ve ever encountered. He had a real beard, he had shiny buckles, he had a jolly voice and he also had a key… this is attention to detail and I was mega impressed. Summer on the other hand, not so much. Poor girl had just woken up and then she was placed in the lap of some big guy with white beard, it was all too much and the screaming started, then the lady with the big camera and huge flash starting clicking away and I could see Summers eyes darting around trying to make sense of everything whilst looking for mummy and daddy who were trying to calm her down.
I think this photo sums up the whole experience
When I think of downtown LA I think of the Staples Center and this is where LA live is!
At the time we went it was sponsored by Target so the bullseye red and white signs were everywhere along with a giant snow globe and crazy inflatables, but overall it did actually feel pretty festive there.
Also they had the biggest Christmas tree I ever did see right in the middle of the ice rink. It’s nice to just stare at it. I’m not sure if I just wanted to feel more in the spirit and plus it was actually pretty cold but I was there wearing my red bobble hat!
For a way to meet new people locally I joined this group called Culver City Moms and it’s great! Nice way to make me feel less lonely, they are always sending invites to events. One invite was to a neighbourhood party at Culver Studios just around the corner and they had built a cute ice rink (synthetic) and had fake snow covering the place. We all got our free hot drinks (hot choco) and huddled around watching the ice skaters. The lighting of the place was pretty good – I guess they had access to the best lighting in town being a studio! We found out that they filmed the likes of E.T, Beetlejuice, Hook, The Matrix to name but a few on these grounds. That’s pretty magical.
Never would I have thought I would be spending one Christmas Eve on Venice beach, but that’s what happened and it was such a marvelous and a (very) windy day. We got the bus! Which for one seems to be a totally taboo thing to do out here, but it’s actually fine. I mean yeah, there are a few colourful characters now and again but they’re harmless and you get them anywhere you are in the world, right?
We found this shop along Venice beach that sold the nicest skateboards our eyes ever did see. It didn’t take long before Mark and me were there picking out our favs and dreaming of our new life where we have them on us and just whip them out and whizz around and weaving through crowds of people, totally forgetting that we have a very wriggly 9 month old too!
Still though, we might get one each for the future. One thing thats so great about the vibe here is that anyone and everyone seems to be trying to skate along here. It’s so refreshing to see girls/boys/men and women all there with their planks of wood and its all totally normal and acceptable.
We ended up walking from Venice to Santa Monica along the boardwalk with the windy breeze in our hair and big smile on our face.
The big day had arrived! and Summer gave us a small Christmas gift by sleeping until 7am…7am!! Thank you!
Having a first Christmas is one of those moments where you want it to be memorable and “perfect” for them. In reality though, Summer is only 9 months old and is she really going to remember this? I better record all of it though in case she ever wants to see it! So I rush downstairs and turn on all the sparkly lights before Mark and Summer make their entrance to see what Santa has left them as I wait grinning with my camera in hand. All week I had spent my time shielding off the poor Christmas tree whilst Summer attacked it with her sticky hands and tried to hang off it using the baubles as grips to hold herself up. Then there’s the wrapping paper battles, countless times I would find her with glitter round her mouth where she’s had a nibble.
So on 25th December I thought I would let her go crazy and had all her gifts laid out for her. And low and behold she was just not interested in them! We spent the next couple of hours giving her gifts trying to get her to look at each one separately, but really all she wanted to do was to play with the first one we gave her. In my head I thought she was gonna go crazy with all the wrapping paper and presents but in reality I think it was all a bit overwhelming for her! She did love all the gifts, especially her new walker – personally I think she looks a bit like an old lady trying to walk with a zimmer frame but I think she’s loving her new found freedom.
Next was a lot of Skype calls to U.K. To family and friends and was great to see their faces but then suddenly it was time to put the ham in the oven! And boy did that ham come out well! Thanks Mum for the recipe!
3pm and we went to Leandre and Carolines house, here’s a list of what we brought
Victoria sponge cake
Mulled Wine ingredients
4 x games
Summers new Zimmer frame walker
Summers pyjamas and blanket
a lot of snacks
They only live around the corner, but it was a struggle to get it all there, and of course we forgot things so Mark had to run back.
We spent the rest of the afternoon evening eating (a mix of English, Filipino, French and Russian food), playing games (who knew there was a game called Love Letter: Batman!) oh and of course there was Home Alone on in the background – I forget every year how great that film is, we got so into it that we ended up watching Home Alone 2 straight after!
Although I missed my family and it felt strange not being in UK I had a great day and know i’ll remember this one for a long time.