UK! Home for 3 weeks

This is a jet lag, vanilla iced coffee induced blog post. We are 2 days back from a wonderful trip back to UK after 10 months of being away. My head is full of funny memories and my belly is stuffed full from all the chocolate, cakes, Nandos, fish and chips and Chinese we could handle! I could write for days about what we got up to, but I’m just gonna put some little things here. Our time was split between both families and luckily they’re only an hour and half away from each other. I like to refer to that particular journey as “the coastal tour” as its along the south coast and we used to do this trip every Christmas and probably all the other holiday seasons in UK – it’s the trip with all the roundabouts.

The wedding
The whole reason why we came back and the best reason is because Marks little brother Alex was marrying the wonderful Emma. This was a wedding of two beautiful souls and you could see every single detail they have put into it. It was great how they incorporated their love for the beach and surfing into the decorations and the music was amazing due to Alex’s involvement with music. They also used a real sword to cut their cake!
Summer was a flower girl too which made it even more special and with a ton of breadsticks and Moana on hand we managed to get her smiling down the aisle.

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The weather
It was a wet week in Bournemouth, which actually was quite a nice and refreshing! But… three days into it kind of changing our plans I was quickly over it and thinking of those blue LA skies! It was strange to be back in many layers and actually on the first day we had to make a shopping stop to buy Mark a jacket and Summer more warmer trousers.

 

The many animals we saw
So I realised that having your own children means you get to go back to places that live in your own childhood memories, and that’s really fun!

In Bournemouth we made a trip to Farmers Palmers where we met horses, fed goats, got lost in a maize maze, held Guinea pigs, rode go karts and played in a haystack full of slides.

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In crawley we went to Tilgate Park where we stroked donkeys, watched meerkats, spotted pigs, pretended to be kangaroos and saw swans in the lakes

In Brighton we went to Drusillas Park and watched many, many monkeys, saw penguins being fed, more horses and pigs, lots of birds and many exotic ones too like the servals and Binturongs!

Before Mark and me even had Summer we loved animals (Mark actually proposed to me at the zoo!) so to see Summers reaction to wanting to pet every animal she saw made everything feel so much more special. She was getting good at pointing them out in her books, but to see them in real life, that was just amazing for her. And with all these trips we went with family members and good friends, it was great to see how much joy the animals brought to them too, but mainly for them to see Summers personality.

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The family
Obviously one of the drawbacks of moving to another country is being away from loved ones. And going back means you want to cherish every moment you have with them. It makes my heart melt when I see Summer pouring pretend tea with her great grandma or how she calls both my parents Yaya and Yaya. I loved how her face lit up everytime her grandma entered the room (you should have seen her when she came in with a fascinator on her head!) or how she just wants to play with Bailey and Bradley – the family dogs. I loved watching her chase Zoe-Beth around and around and around and how she would just stare at her uncle Alex and uncle Brett.
Every time I think of those memories it makes me want to just pack everything up and run back home, but also know that there is so much more of America that Mark, Summer and me need to explore whilst we are here. Thank goodness for technology and FaceTime and all other devices that make it so simple for us to just call home and see a friendly face when things get a bit too tough for me out here

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Summer’s first haircut by Grandma

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So these are just small things I’m touching on about our time back. What do you look forward to most when going back to your roots?

 

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Mother’s Day and Au Fudge Restaurant

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.

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The cafe area – love the colour scheme here 

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.

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This was taken from in the cafe area- the dark part in the back is where we ate… 

But they do have a fun photobooth and the interior of the place is pretty cool! 

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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!

Mothering Sunday
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!!

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I came down to this little happy face 🙂 

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.

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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.

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Super Silly Fun Land – you get very wet 

IMG_5442Overall 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 🙂

Easter Bunnies

Easter Sunday

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Last year I remember our Easter being bit of a blur as we had just had Summer but I do remember I had eaten more chocolate than any human should have – I had eaten so much that it was affecting our newborn babies tummy and she was suffering from terrible wind and me feeling terribly guilty. So soon after that I had to say bye to all those delicious chocolate bunnies we had left.
This year though, I could eat as much chocolate as I wanted, except…they don’t have Easter Eggs like they do in UK! Crazy right! I thought so. But..they do love a good old Easter Egg hunt and with a child its kind of like the law to do one.
So when Mina asks us if we had any plans I invited her and her husband Joe and little Yuna over for a good old Sunday Roast at the Tompkins household…complete with an Egg hunt for the babies.

They arrived and of course we had the babies dressed in appropriate Easter attire and Mina pulled out a pair of rabbit ears too.
The Sunday roast went down a treat. Mark was very keen on making the best ever roast potatoes ( he was watching over me like a hawk even at the peeling stage) and my job was the Yorkshire puddings. Except, I went and messed that up. Used the wrong flour didn’t I and boom…burnt bottoms, I refused to serve the burnt bottoms, but made up for it with making cauliflower cheese from scratch!

For the Easter Egg hunt we got plastic eggs from Target that were already filled with chocolates and I went around placing them all at baby height around the living room. Every time one of the babies picked one up we would cheer and they would smile. As usual, Summer realised and got super excited every time she picked one up and would cheer so loudly for herself.

It was a really nice way to spend our first Easter here in LA. We usually have this day with family so did feel homesick whilst getting out the Bistro gravy but now have great memories of the day.

Hope you had a lovely Easter too!

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Flower Child

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. 

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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) 

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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!

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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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B Sweet!

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

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love this sign as you come into the cafe 

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!

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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

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We sat outside with our goods (and so I can take pictures) and I noticed this sweet little sign with the plants

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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!

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A quick sketch I had done of the dog and owner being all matchy matchy