Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Height of Summer

I enjoy reading Julie's blog over at Notes on Paper and this August she is running a series called The Height of Summer Winter :-)  Have you ever corresponded with someone and then finally met them and you were surprised by their height?  I remember going to Madame Tassauds and standing next to the wax figure of John Wayne and being absolutely SHOCKED at his size!!!  I also didn't realise just how petite Kylie Minogue is.  Size is hard to picture at times and as bloggers we sit behind our computers/iPads/Smart phones and never really consider each of our heights.

As taking a photo with my family would just be too easy (and besides only The Princess is still smaller than me) and I really wanted to think of something different.  So I came up with this ... I just hope it works!  

I am just a smidge taller than 120 distress inks stacked one on top of the other :-)  So how tall does that make me?  (It turned out smaller than I had hoped. The sign says 10 = 14cm = 5.5")


P.S. I used the stop animation app Stop Animator by Samuel Adams.  It was free and super easy to use.

Craft Storage

You may be asking yourself why I was so excited to receive an Ikea kitchen cupboard for my birthday?  Well, it is the answer to my storage problems :-)  I had an epiphany one night while sleeping and the next morning I tested my theory and it worked, so I have been planning ever since!

I use the Artbin Super Satchels for my craft storage.  We sell heaps of them at the shop but we do get the odd cracked one and then they become mine.  Over the years I have accumulated quite a few and even with HUGE cracks they still work perfectly!  So, what is an Artbin Super Satchel you might be asking yourself?

I find them very useful especially as we move semi-regularly and the house gets quite dusty with the air-con on.  The double deep ones have removable dividers and they are very useful for embossing folders, 6x6 pads, paints, sprays and other bulkier items that you might not want falling all over the place.  They also do narrow ones with lots of divider for smaller items.

But the main problem I have faced is with storing them.  Artbin do make a cube for them that they slide into on plastic runners, but over here they retail at $104 and only hold FOUR!  I just refuse to pay that much for a cupboard for them to sit in (even at cost!) and hiding them in a big cupboard with doors is a waste as I like to see things (and I also don't have a spare big cupboard with doors!).  So mine have stood proudly in the corner of my room in a HUGE stack, with others dotted around the place.  The problem with this solution is that I inevitably want something in the BOTTOM container and to get to it I have to unstack them all and then re-stack them once I have the item I am looking for.  It drives me just a little insane at times :-)

I had planned on just making my own 'Artbin cube' style storage for them but time is always against me.  We built our shop counter out of Ikea kitchen units and as we wanted it narrower we used the wall cabinets and just put legs on them to make them the right height.  They are fabulous under-counter cupboards as they aren't too deep (they are 35cm deep).  I never thought to see if they would hold the Artbin's until a few months ago when I dreamed about it.  The second I walked through the shop door the next morning I tested the theory and it worked perfectly!  So I asked for the Ikea 40cm wide wall cupboard for my birthday.  No doors or anything, just plain.  Here they are $45.  And so my mom bought be one for my birthday :-)  LOL

Here it is made up.  I chose to put in the wall fixing bracket (the silver bit) while I made it as one day when we do buy our own house again I will probably mount it on the wall.  My dad gave me money for my birthday and so I went to Ikea and I didn't realise that they also make one the same width and depth but LOTS taller.  It was even better value so I bought one of those with his money.  I believe it is meant to be a broom cupboard or a shallow pantry.

Today I ended up with an unexpected whole day off!!  I set off to the hardware store after dropping the kids and school and bought a BIG box of shelf brackets and away I went ...
See how the Artbins sit rested on the little brackets.  They fit perfectly!  It would be a little easier to slide them in and out on a rail but the only ones I could find were plastic drawer rails and they were $5 a pair!!!!  I haven't had any problems with them so far but if I find one is a bit too heavy to get in and out easily I will just get a thin piece of wood and glue it to the mini brackets as a guide rail.

And out one slides from right in the middle!  It is pure bliss!  Not all of the containers are full as I didn't get to choose which ones got broken. LOL  Some are deep where they could be the narrower ones, but over time I may get some more and then I can swap things over to get the most from my space.

And here they are all finished.  I added a shelf to the middle of the tall one to put my plain Bazzill on.  I had them on the floor behind my desk in Cropper Hopper Vertical Storage Holders (like magazine holders) but I prefer to pull my paper out from the front, not the top.  So I turned them on their sides and slid them onto the shelf.  I think it will work quite nicely.

The Artbins with green clips hold my Cricut cartridges.  I have run out of room in these cupboards so you can see a few stacked on top.  I shall just have to save for another one.  The next few I get will probably be short ones as I want to eventually build my craft room using them.  That way they can go under counter tops, or hung on the wall above counters.  The other nice part about them being Ikea units is that you can get very cool drawers to fit inside them (as in they don't have a front in the same way as an under-counter drawer does) that are designed for holding tins in a pantry.  I think they would work very nicely for punches or sprays.  However, at $50 a drawer they can be added in the future :-)

If you ever find yourself using Artbin Super Satchels, here is a much cheaper way to store them!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Catch up :) (photo heavy)

I had so much planned to post over the past few weeks, including details of the BEST DAY of the YEAR!  So here goes all be it a bit late ... :-)

While my previous posts about Hiro were auto posting The LOML and I went away for the weekend.  I had made wedding invitations as a friend for a gift last year and they bought us a voucher for a weekend away as a thank you.  They also offered to babysit the kids too!  It has been three years since we went away together so we were very excited.  Thankfully the place we stayed was only an hours drive from home and we set off on Friday evening after work.  It was right on the harbour in a very pretty holiday/vacation town.  So we did touristy things and ate until we needed to be rolled back to the hotel.  We even went to a place with a miniature village, mini golf and a maze!  The weather was perfect and it was so relaxing and wonderful.

Our view from breakfast :-)

The miniature village
Me after we arrived at the miniature village
Entering the maze ...

Will he find his way out???
Devonshire Tea anyone???
Looking out over the ocean before dinner
Those photos were just from Saturday!!!  But so you see the dreary dusk sky?  Well Sunday was stormy, rainy and awful!  So we decided to drive home after we checked out of the hotel.  We couldn't have asked for a better day on Saturday and we enjoyed getting home early to spend some time with the kids.  They were spoilt too all weekend.

Midway through the month it was my BIRTHDAY!!!!  So of course that means that it is the best day of the year in my book!  I love birthdays.  It's not just about the presents, but that it is a day special for each person where they should be treated like a princess (or prince).  My order for breakfast was poached eggs on toast - YUM YUM!!!!  I was supposed to have the day of work crafting with a friend, but we had only just sat down to start when I got a call from The LOML to say that I needed to come to work straight away as he wasn't well.  Thankfully he didn't need to go to the hospital again and we were able to come home after lunch.  He improved over the afternoon and he instructed the kids on the preparation of my special dinner.  I had requested crumbed steak, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and gravy.  And it was YUM YUM YUM!!!!!!

I chose not to have a cake this year as I really craved warm brownies with vanilla ice cream and Hershey's chocolate syrup.  While the brownies were cooking I made The LOML call the health line to confirm that a trip to the ER wasn't warranted as he had a Dr appointment two days later.  He tried very hard to act like nothing was wrong as it was my birthday, but that just made me more worried.  So better late than never we enjoyed our brownies.  They were also YUM YUM YUM!!!

In the end I chose frosting and not Hershey's syrup :)

For my birthday I got a Sizzix Eclips (spoilt aren't I??) and some Tim Holtz background stamps.  I also got something a bit unusual from my mom that I had asked her for ... an Ikea kitchen wall cabinet.  I will have to show you later what that is for :-)  I am giddy with excitement and I just hope it works!  No, I am SURE it will work ... but you will just have to wait.

The LOML hasn't been able to drive since our weekend away.  He was constantly unsteady on his feet and light headed.  The Dr was increased his new medication from his last visit to the hospital and he was getting worse, so without telling me, he went off the medication.  Within two days he felt better!  He went back to the Dr and now he is almost back to himself.  It is crazy, but it seems that he had a delayed reaction to the medication.  As it built up in his body it was getting worse.  I was starting to get very worried and all of it was caused by a nasty tablet!  I hope that it is now the end of it and he stays better this time.  It was all very worrying and has made for a busy and chaotic month.  Hopefully he is cleared to drive again really soon as he makes a TERRIBLE passenger!

All in all I think we are headed into a pleasant September :-)  The Extrovert turns 15!!! Oh my!!! I suddenly feel old :-)  If I don't see you before, I will be back for Storytelling Sunday this Sunday. Pop back then for all the details and enjoy a story or two.


Monday, 13 August 2012

Adventures with Hiro - part 3

Monday saw the kids all return to school (this was a few weeks ago now LOL).  That night Hiro went with the boys to cadets.  I wonder what he thought of it all?  There was another Japanese student there that night from yet another school (this is the popular time for Japanese students to visit as they are on summer holidays and don't miss school).  I wonder what he thought of it all???  It was hard to tell but the boys said he took lots of photos and the cadets all made him feel welcome.

Wednesday was Hiro's last day with us.  They had organised afternoon tea at the school with a performance by the students.  They sang a song in English and Japanese.  You can see Hiro in the back row, just left of the middle.  They were swaying from side to side and The Thinker stood up on his chair to get the shot.  This was the only time I got to see the students all mixing with each other.  You would never have know that there was a language barrier.  Each of them just re-phrased things until the other understood.  It was great to see them all hanging out and being silly together.  It made me feel just a little old, as that was once me!!!

During the presentation each student gave a speech in English thanking their host families.  Hiro was the last to give his and his was the longest.  He said the nicest things about us and it made us feel really special.  I am glad that we were able to have him stay with us and I would be very pleased to have him stay again.

We had organised with my brother and SIL to meet up for a Japanese meal that night at an authentic restaurant in the city.  We had hoped the wait staff might be able to help us with translating, but they were very busy.  We also wanted Hiro to have the opportunity to share with us some of the food he was used to.  Other than sushi and a few other food court style dishes we had never had Japanese before.  My SIL loves Japanese food and she had recommended the restaurant.  The first thing Hiro said when he sat down was "I am so excited to be having Japanese food!".  It was definitely the right decision to go there.  While we were there we gave him his mini album and he spent most of the night looking over it :-)

The Extrovert (wearing his new glasses!) and Hiro

The main meal came as an set tray and you chose the 'main' part, so we asked Hiro to suggest our starters.  We tried lots of wonderful food and I would never have thought that I would have ever eaten raw beef.  But it tasted sooooooooooo good and I will definitely be having it again!  For our main course four of us (including Hiro) had the tempura with udon noodles and sushi.  Every main dish comes with miso soup, salad and beans.  Hiro said they have the miso soup and salad every day with their dinner.  Everything tasted YUM!

Tempura with Udon and Sushi

The LOML had teriyaki pork and rice and The Extrovert tried the sashimi.  The Princess had picked up a tummy bug that day at school and so she was unable to come.  She was very disappointed.  We will definitely be having Japanese again.  As we were leaving Hiro said it was his best night ever!

All of us at dinner.

He had to take family photos the next morning and Hiro was very sad to be leaving.  The boys said he cried when he got to school as he didn't want to go home yet.  We all had adventures with Hiro and we will remember them forever.  Remember, if you are ever given the chance to host an exchange student, seriously think about doing it!


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Adventures with Hiro - part 2

There wasn't any way we could avoid having to work Saturday so Hiro and The Extrovert came to the shop with us for the morning and at lunch time we let them go across the road to the shopping center for lunch and a brief look around.  It is important in Japan to buy souvenirs for family and friends back home and this gave Hiro another opportunity to shop for gifts.  The Extrovert was hoping that Hiro would want sushi for lunch as it is his favourite, but he opted for Chinese.  Thankfully there is also a place selling sushi in the food court so they both had what they wanted.

I have already said that we went out for Italian Saturday night and by the time we came home Hiro was looking very tired.  I think that the late night Friday at youth group and the intense week of study was catching up with him.  The Extrovert had hoped that they would both get up early on Sunday morning and head to church as The Extrovert was taking The Thinker's rostered spot helping out in Children's Church.  But we told him to just let Hiro sleep until he woke up as he really needed his rest.  As it turned out he must have been really tired as he almost missed breakfast.  He then asked if he could stay home and study for the morning so The LOML and Hiro spent the morning at home.

That afternoon we had planned to take Hiro to Fremantle for a look around the markets and stay for fish and chips with friends at a place right on the water.  My mom collected The Thinker from camp and after he had showered and cleaned up they met up with us.  We wandered around the markets with The Princess after sending the boys off on their own and tried to find something that wasn't the usual run-of-the-mill touristy gift for Hiro's parents.  We found a little shop selling prints and originals by a local artist.  They were somewhat quirky designs and we bought his parents coasters featuring Aussie animals.

A photo of their gallery
Fremantle is a port town and a famous tourist destination.  On the weekend and most days in summer there is plenty of street entertainment and this day we watched a crazy pirate sword swallower.  He was nuts!!!!  He is even in the Guiness Book of Records for sword swallowing.  After cringing at sword swallowing while on the top of a pole, we headed off to the small beach in Fremantle.  My kids took their shoes off and jumped right in (remember that it is winter here!) and Hiro looked at me as if to say "can I do that too?".  As soon as he realised that he could remove his shoes to splash too and he was in like a two year old!

Wandering around the marina.

The Princess and The Extrovert were first into the water!

What would a beach trip be like without writing in the sand?!?!?!?

The Extrovert and Hiro wandering  along the beach

Looking through the old jetty.  The Extrovert is running towards us.

The Extrovert being silly

The Princess playing too.
After a splash around on the beach the kids all cleaned their feet as our friends had arrived and we were off to enjoy fish and chips.  There are two very big fish companies in the marina and both catch their own fish.  It was left up to us to decided which one we went for and we chose Kailis Fish.  Their boats are moored right next to where we eat (you can just see them in the photo below) and at one end they sell fish to take home.  My friend also had an exchange student from Japan but from a different area and school.

We bought a family plate of fish and chips just for our four kids (four fish filets and LOTS of chips) while The LOML and I had snapper and chips.  It was sooooooooooooo YUM!  The kids polished off all theirs quick smart.  The three girls at the back hardly made a dent in theirs LOL.  My four definitely have huge appetites.

We went home later that evening after another quick trip to the markets for The Thinker to get some morish nuts (nuts covered with caramel).  This was a very close to perfect day.


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Adventures with Hiro - part 1

On the day Hiro arrived at the school we were to collect him from the library at the end of the school day.  The students had spent the morning on a bus tour of the city and a visit to the beach for lunch.  We arrived at the library and all the host parents were standing around looking nervous and the students were sitting quietly in the library with their teachers looking terrified.  Hiro was sitting at the back sharing a joke with a friend.  He seemed a smiley sort but very shy.

When we arrived home The Extrovert did the tour of the house with Hiro as they were sharing a room and The Extrovert was his official buddy at school.  As I already said we probably frightened the life out of him with Mexican for dinner but they all settled in quickly and everyone adjusted to the additional family member.  He may also have been wondering why we were all home in the afternoon on a weekday as The LOML and I had arranged to have that afternoon and the next one off just incase things didn't go so smoothly.

Each day the Japanese students did intensive English lessons at the school and spent their breaks socialising with their buddies and their friends.  This made them very tired as they had to concentrate almost every minute!  It became a normal occurrence for Hiro to fall asleep in the car on the way home, or on the couch before dinner.  Needless to say he didn't stay up late very often!  Normally at home it would have been normal for him to stay up until at least 11pm.

In our house everyone cooks, but The LOML cooks more regularly than anyone else.  Hiro thought this highly amusing, in his house ONLY his mother cooked :-)  In our pre-visit information book it said that in Japan it is considered very rude to enter another person's kitchen.  Only on the last night did Hiro set a foot in the kitchen, and only to very quickly put something in the rubbish bin.  We did find this very difficult at times as Hiro wouldn't even go in the kitchen to get a drink and we had to remember to keep asking him if he was thirsty.  Next time we will get a water dispenser and put it on the breakfast bar so that anyone could get a water without having to go into the kitchen.  Hiro poured his cereal each morning from the non-kitchen side of the breakfast bar, the kids just placed everything he might need on the counter each morning and then cleared it away after he had eaten.

One night The Thinker had to cook diner for the family for his B&V (Beliefs & Values) homework.  We had sweet and sour pork Jamie Oliver style and he had to take a photo as proof for his teacher.  They are blurry photos but here we are about to eat dinner ...

Sweet & Sour Pork
Everywhere we went Hiro took photos of the food.  The weekend he was with us both boys were supposed to be away at a cadet camp but only The Thinker went as one had to stay with Hiro.  On the Saturday evening we took Hiro out to a local Italian restaurant.  He ordered the same as The Extrovert and they each had a HUGE wood fired pizza.  Hiro ate it all, after taking a photo :-)

He fell in love with Milo, an Aussie chocolate drink which is also now made into cereal and bars.  We gave him a box of the Milo bars to take home with him.  When he saw them he lit up and said "I like very much!"  He certainly got a food cultural experience with us!


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Mini Album for Hiro

You may remember that we were having a Japanese exchange student stay with us for 10 days in July. I was excited and petrified all at the same time but knew that this was an experience that the kids would never forget.  It would also have the added bonus of helping The Extrovert with his Japanese.  As the arriving students were closer to the ages of our boys we knew that we were getting a boy.  It turned out to be a very lovely young man named Hiro.  I believe he had recently turned 17 but his English was very minimal and so I am not 100% sure :-)

Here is the mini album I quickly made for him as a going away present.  I need it to be easy for him to put photos into and so I chose to use 6x4 page protectors and make a chipboard cover.  I covered the front of the chipboard with some Ranger Sticky Back Canvas so that I had a good surface for painting.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it turned out pretty close to what I had imagined.   First I painted a sunrise using Twinkling H2O's, Glimmer Mists, Ink pads, and Distress Pens (these were the things I had in the right colours).  It is actually quite shimmery.

That is our city skyline.  I found a photo online and printed it out in black and white.  I then cut out the skyline and used it as a template to draw around and filled it in with black paint.  Perth sits on a river and so I used Tim Holtz Crackle Paint put on thickly so that I could get some texture.  However it was really the wrong colour blue so before it was fully dry I painted over it with a dark blue October Afternoon Sprinkler.  It turned out quite textured and I like the slight two tone effect.  Hiro LOVED it!  It took me a while to come up with an idea that wasn't girly :-)

I then made a few header pages for some of the places he had been.  By now it was 11:30pm and so these were done quickly! LOL  Here are just a few of the better ones ...

I printed off some of the photos that we had taken and inserted them in the album and left plenty of blank spots for his own photos taken at places that the school took him.  As it turns out I am really happy that I made this for him as we received an email last night asking for any additional photos we might have as Hiro lost him camera during the trip home.  I wish now that I had asked him for copies of his photos too :-(  He is quite distraught about it.  I am going to try and get any other photos that people may have and send them off to him.

He was a very polite boy and he tried all of the food we usually eat.  If he liked it he said it was good, if he really liked it he said "very delicious"!  On his first night he must have really wondered what he had gotten himself into ... we had Mexican burritos!  We had also just bought ourselves a pie maker and so we had apple pies for dessert.  Some of the other meals he enjoyed were roast lamb with all the trimmings, sweet and sour pork (Jamie Oliver style), sandwiches for lunch, and fish & chips.

Hiro was quite a bit more relaxed around the kids than with us, so we encouraged the four kids to do stuff together.  The Extrovert and The Princess taught him how to play Monopoly (a staple in our house!) which he won.  They took him down to the park to play basketball.  The Extrovert got his butt kicked playing Chess on numerous occasions (this is NOT a staple in our house!).  The Thinker had finally met his match and was beaten in every game of table tennis they played.  All three kids thought it was wonderful having him here and we thoroughly enjoyed it too.

I will share more of our experiences later, but this is definitely something I would recommend to other people.  I am not sure if I could cope with a long visit, but anything up to two weeks would be a breeze.  We will definitely be putting our names down again the next time they come.  The Extrovert is really hoping to be chosen to go to Japan next April and they will be at the same school that Hiro goes to.  Hiro hopes to host him at his house.  It will be interesting to see if they continue communicating.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Bookcrossing ... An amazing concept.

I was reading the other stories for Storytelling Sunday (I have only read a few so far so if I haven't commented on your story I haven't gotten to it yet) when I came across a story by Sandie about Bookcrossing.  Now I hadn't heard of this amazing site so I will assume that unless you participate in Storytelling Sunday you won't have heard about it either.  Here are some of the details from their 'About Us' page ...

What is BookCrossing?

It's the World's Library. It's a smart social networking site. It's a celebration of literature and a place where books get new life. BookCrossing is the act of giving a book a unique identity so, as the book is passed from reader to reader, it can be tracked and thus connecting its readers. There are currently 1,234,206 BookCrossers and 9,235,751 books travelling throughout132 countries. Our community is changing the world and touching lives one book at a time.

What's our mission?

Very simply, we aim to connect people through books.

How do we do it?

Label. Share. Follow. Breath new life into books instead of letting your old favorites collect dust - pass them along to another reader. Our online archival and tracking system allows members to connect with other readers, journal and review literature and trade and follow their books as lives are changed through “reading and releasing”. Users are able to tag and track their individual books by marking them with BCIDs (BookCrossing Identity Numbers). Each BCID is unique to each book – once it’s registered on our site, the book can then be followed and journaled forever. BookCrossing is free to join and free to play. So don't be 'shelf'ish with your books - read and release!

The whole idea appealed to me greatly and I have since joined the site (user name "jetsettingchipper" if you wish to friend me) and plan on releasing a few books tomorrow!  I loved the idea soooooooo much that I even joined the shop up and have set it up as an Official Bookcrossing Zone (OBCZ).  That means we have a shelf for people to come and take books from and also release books into.  I went to KMart and bought a bookcase and a handful of books to get us started.  I am so excited about it and it seems lots of our customers are too.  They have said that they will be donating books to the shelf to get the ball rolling.  As we are a place where mothers and grandmothers often come I also want to get some kids books on the shelves.  Can you imagine the look of joy on a child's face when you tell them that they can keep the book, that it is just for them ?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Here is our bookcase :-)
Many of our regular customers in the store are avid readers and we are often discussing books at our craft evenings.  I hope that this will be a much loved addition.  Anyone, be they customers or not, are welcome to drop in grab a book to take away with them and if they feel like it there is always a cuppa on hand :-)

You can also do 'controlled releases' with your books.  This is where your book goes to a specific person of your choice.  By registering it with Bookcrossing you will have a record of where the book has gone.  It is quite a remarkable concept.

Thank you Sandie for telling the story of her summer book releases.  I haven't had as much fun as I did today in a long time.  It was so hard to choose only five books to buy!  One of the books has already been 'caught' ... by The Extrovert!  Apparently he has been waiting for the school library to get the book.  He will probably have it read and back on the shelf by Friday.

Happy reading,

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Storytelling Sunday - August

Where has the year gone?  How did we get to Storytelling Sunday for August?  I'm not quite sure what has happened to this year but I like the month of August the best :-)  Sometime during the first week of each month people from all over the world join Sian at From High In The Sky for Storytelling Sunday.  If you like a tale or two, to either read or write, then head on over and take a look.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Sian suggested a theme this month of 'summer loving' and while I don't normally go with the theme, I thought a bit of summer would be nice.  You see, we are currently in the midst of winter.  One of the coldest and driest on record, and one of the worst flu seasons in a very long time.  I have had the flu for the past two weeks and today is the first day I have felt more like myself.  Some people are calling this year's flu the '100 day flu'!  I am glad my dose has only lasted a few weeks!!!!!!  I have a friend who is now into week six :-(

So here is a summer story which occurred during August a little while back ... A story of love :-)

I love August for one reason and one reason only ... it is the month of my birthday!  I have lived in both hemispheres and so my birthday has been celebrated in summer and in winter.  I like the summer birthdays the best.  On our first camping trip to France our summer holiday co-incided with my birthday.  The LOML, being the loving husband that he is, asked how we could celebrate my birthday while we were away.  We had a family car but with five of us, our tent, and supplies there wasn't a great deal of spare room.  I foolishly replied by telling him that we would just have to celebrate my birthday when we got home.  I didn't think that he would take me literally ... as in NO birthday at all!!!!  I meant don't pack presents, don't worry about a fancy cake, and those sorts of things.  I didn't mean to forget it all together!!!  The morning of my birthday I woke up to nothing ... no cards from the kids, no special meal, no treats ... just a greeting of "Happy Birthday" when I woke up.

I would say that it took The LOML about two hours to realise that he had made a SERIOUS mistake.  So he and the children scrambled to fix it somehow.  They went to the campsite deli but all the cakes were sold (I had dropped hints the day before as to which cake I liked best) and they organised dinner at the campsite restaurant.  Dinner would have been lovely but unfortunately I got food poisoning and really didn't feel great.  Needless to say it wasn't the high point of our holiday.

Fast forward two years and we are once again headed to France for our summer holiday.  We were going a little more upmarket this time and we had hired a cabin at a campsite instead of taking our tent.  And just like two years before we would be away for my birthday ... my 30th birthday!  No one asked me what they should do about my birthday, but I knew it would not be a repeat of the previous trip.  However I was not prepared for what they actually did.

I woke up to a delicious cooked breakfast.  The kids and I went down to the lake for a swim and a bit of a relax and The LOML snuck away ... for mischief!  I came back to the cabin for lunch and found bunting and balloons hung everywhere around the outside of the cabin.  Inside was just the same.  There was no mistaking that it was my 30th birthday!  There was wine and cheese on the table outside along with one of those corny badges.

Inside they had unpacked their presents and cards ... (along with presents from the rest of my family)

I was spoilt with lots of lovely presents ...

And The LOML had even attempted to make a cake in the cabin oven.  He had packed the cake mix and the cake tin just to make me a cake.  Unfortunately for him the oven didn't work very well and the gas kept shutting off so it was only kind of cooked but it tasted wonderful!!!

All afternoon strangers stopped to wish me "Happy Birthday"!  Word must have spread around the campsite as they were even coming up to me at dinner in the restaurant.  We had a delicious dinner at the campsite restaurant where you choose your own meat and veg and cook it on the hotplate in the middle of the table.  We even had crepes for dessert cooked on the same hotplate.  We had lots of fun.

It is a wonderful feeling to be spoilt by your family.  I had never felt as loved as I did that day.  The four of them had thought of everything.  That was definitely a summer of loving :-)  Family loving.