Monday, 17 December 2012

Happy Birthday Bella


It was old fashioned, the sort of party I remember from my own childhood. Ten girls and one boy came to join in the fun. There was an abundance of sequins and bows and sparkly shoes. They played musical statues and pass-the-parcel. The food consisted of sandwiches (plastic white bread, crusts cut off), crisps, cocktail sausages, cakes. Carrot sticks and grapes to tick the healthy box. I didn't know where to seat thirteen children so we moved the dining room table out of the way and put a disposable tablecloth on the floor and called it an "indoor birthday picnic", which they thought was great fun.

When I asked Bella what kind of cake she would like, she asked for a round, chocolate cake covered in Smarties. Yes, very specific, but I have to say I nearly cried with relief and thought - I can do that! Previous birthday cakes have included a train, a princess castle and a butterfly. (The castle had seven layers of rainbow layered sponge - what was I thinking??). I used my mother-in-law's recipe and made a chocolate buttercream icing. Arranging the Smarties was very soothing, I enjoyed that part enormously. We enjoyed eating it too.

I have to be honest, a part of me did worry that it wasn't enough of a party, not big or fancy enough. One parent asked me what the theme was. I replied that the theme was that is was a sixth birthday party. But when I asked Bella what her favourite part of the day was she said "playing pass-the-parcel". Children are amazingly traditional in their tastes.

Tomorrow is her actual birthday. This time sixth years ago I think I was screaming for an epidural, all thoughts of natural, intervention-free birth long gone. We will open a couple of presents before school - naturally she has chosen those already. After school we will go out for tea; when I asked her where she would like to go she said "McDonalds", quick as a flash. 

Bella - Happy Birthday my beautiful girl! You bring us more joy and happiness than you can possibly imagine and we love you to the moon and back.


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Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments on my last post. My Grandma died last week. It has not quite sunk in yet, and I don't know that it will until I go back home and see my family. She was quite a character and I'd like to tell you more about her one day. We are very sad but taking a lot of comfort from the fact that she lived to be eighty nine and died peacefully with family her side, and there is a lot to be said for that.

On a happier note, hello new followers! It's very nice to have you here and you are most welcome. Thank you as ever for being here and for reading. x

39 comments:

  1. Happy birthday Bella! That cake is a thing of beauty and I have to say, my first thought on seeing it was 'ooh I bet it was fun arranging those Smarties!' - top job! And the party sounds perfect. I'm all for old-fashioned 'proper' parties, after all, as you say, the children remember the simplest things as their favourite bits and in this world of over-stimulation, I think it's lovely to keep it simple. Well done and I hope you are enjoying a well-earned rest now! x

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  2. happy birthday to bella and thinking of you too. xo

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  3. Hello Gillian,
    A Happy 6th Birthday to Bella! The Party looked just perfect and a picnic sounds a wonderful idea! The cake is/was beautiful (bet it went quick!) and she will remember it all forever.
    I am so sorry to learn about your Grandmother passing, my thoughts are with you and your family. Maybe next year, we would love to share your memories of her in a special post as you said.
    Ivan x

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  4. Oh happy birthday to bella - it looks like a lovely, lovely party. Also smiled at your response to the parent that asked about the theme. I think that the simple parties are the best - because really, the point of it is to celebrate with friends, and all the themed miscellanea (that probably ends up in a landfill) just distracts from that. Children are very very good at entertaining themselves! I love the cake, beautiful rainbow smarties.

    Thoughts are with you, and sympathy about your Grandma. Go gently in this grieving time. x

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  5. Happy birthday, Bella, from a fellow December baby! I had chocolate cake this year, too!

    And to Mama, hang in there. It's been twelve years since I lost my grandmas, and it's still rough at times, especially at my birthday. Funny, isn't it, how I miss the birthday cards most of all! I have a baking business where I use family recipes, so all three of my grandmas (one great grandmother) are on my mind whenever I use their recipes, but December is hardest.

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  6. A beautiful rainbow effect of Smarties, Gillian. Love to your family xo

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  7. Happy birthday wishes to Bella, hope she enjoys her birthday as much as her party, looks like fun!

    I'm sorry to read about your Grandma, take care.
    Lisa x

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  8. Happy Birthday Bella - love your cake choice :)

    Sorry to hear about your Grandma xxx

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  9. Sounds like the best kind of party! And a Smartie cake? Fabulous, we do those too. Pass-the-parcel is always a favourite in our house : -)

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  10. Happy birthday to Bella! I LOVE the cake and I'm going to steal the idea for my son's 11th birthday in February! I've done some very elaborate cakes in the past, staying up til the early hours perfecting fire engine windscreens and marzipan merry go round characters (not for the same cake I hasten to add.....now there's a thought!) Traditional parties are the way to go I think...themed elaborate affairs aren't remembered anymore than pass the parcel and musical chairs. Thanks for popping over to Mad Maison...more photos of Wolfie in Christmas attire will follow! x

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  11. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Bella! how wonderful to be 6!
    it sounds like the perfect party to me :o)

    so sorry to here about your grandma, sending lots of love x

    love jooles x

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  12. That cake looks lovely, simple parties are definitely the best my children loathe party games of any kind. We went to a party this week and my eldest retreated to the car as the thought of games was too much for him. Happy Birth day to you both!

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  13. Happy Birthday Bella! Love the cake, my daughter always has a chocolate cake covered with smarties for her party it's becoming a tradition which I'm glad about as personally I think a cake should look like a cake and how it tastes is just as important as how it looks.
    Sorry to hear about your Grandma, it was nice though that she was able to experience having great grand children, I don't think many people these days will manage that with people delaying having children till they're older (including myself).

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  14. Happy Birthday to Bella! Love traditional parties ... and I think that children do as well, because they are so rare nowadays!

    So sorry about your Grandma too xx

    Claire xxx

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  15. Gillian,

    So sorry to hear about your Grandma. xx

    Alfie's favourite birthday party was a traditional at home affair with games and the sort of food I remember from birthday parties as a child in the 70's - the pink wafer biscuits were very popular!

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  16. Many happy returns, Bella, and yes please, I'd love a slice of your cake.

    Sad news about your Grandma. Take care.

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  17. Happy birthday Bella - that smartie cake looks delicious!

    Hugs to you at this sad time - so sorry to hear about your Grandma xxx

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  18. Happiest of birthdays to Bella, and happy birthing day mama!

    Like many things, it's all out of control. i say, simple, traditional games, plenty of food, laughter. sod themes and such. good grief.
    we come from old-fashioned european families and it's all about the food and the people. that's it.

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  19. Sorry to hear about the loss of your grandma. Yes, that's great number to get to, but the loss of a loved one still remains. I hope your grief is beneficial and releasing, and that you will come to remember all the wonderful memories you have of her.

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  20. Happy Birthday Bella!!!

    The indoor picnic was a regular Sunday tea time event here ... perfectly ordinary sandwiches and sausage rolls become magical for some reason when eaten off a paper plate while sitting on a blanket on the floor.

    I bet Bella's friends will be talking about the indoor picnic at her party long after they've forgotten the latest themed affair. And the Smartie cake, of course :D

    So very sorry for your loss Gillian x

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  21. Happy Bitrthday to Bella! My mum made the same cake for me when I was five! Sorry for your loss x x x

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  22. Happy happy birthday to your Bella. Your party sounds just right. Each year I see what the minimum effort is I can get away with. . . yours looks and sounds very fancy in my book!

    And much love and sympathy on the passing of your grandma.

    rachel ox

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  23. Happy birthday to Bella, it sounds like she had a wonderful party and I'm sure she'll be at school looking forward to her birthday tea all day today. I'm so sorry to hear the sad news about your grandma, I shall look forward to hearing more about her when you feel ready to share.

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  24. What a beautiful cake. My boys always ask for chocolate cake and smarties too and we are fans of traditional small parties too!

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  25. What a wonderful birthday party and what a lucky little girl to have such a lovely mum ... I am so sorry for your loss Gillian ... Bee xxx

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  26. How lovely! And so many yummy looking things. Going through the pictures made me feel so nostalgic. Happy birthday Bella!

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  27. So sorry to hear about your Grandma Gillian.

    Bella's party sounds perfect. The cake is so cheerful. Happy 6th birthday to her!

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  28. Sounds like my kind of party and that cake is amazing. I'd love to see photos of your previous cakes if you have any. Your children are so lucky to have such a thoughtful and creative Mum.
    So sorry to hear about the loss of your Grandma. x

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  29. Happy Birthday Bella :) Beautiful cake, and I love traditional party games xx

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  30. Happy Birthday Sweet Bella! It looks like you had such a fun party! And I love the cake...so so pretty! I am very sorry to hear about the passing of your Grandmother. You are in my thoughts.

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  31. what a brilliant cake, but sorry to hear about your grandma. Heather x

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  32. Sending you a huge virtual hug and a dose of empathy - well done for putting a brave face on and giving Bella an amazing birthday to remember; it all looks beautiful and so sweet - absolutely perfect for marking the VERY important transition from six to seven! x

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  33. Sounds like a lovely fun, simple fuss-free party. And no theme, how liberating. I've never done themed parties myself. What a star Bella is for suggesting such a manageable cake! Happy birthday to my beautiful eldest niece. (Your little message to her made me cry!) xxx

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  34. Oh what a relief to see this post- amongst the super sized kids birthday parties, an old school simple party like we all grew up with. Kids don't need Hollywood scale parties...I love the cake, the picnic indoors and I'll bet she loved it too!

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  35. That cake made me smile and I laughed out loud when I read the bit about the party theme :) Good work, it reminds me a lot of my parties when I was little x

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  36. Sounds a perfect birthday party to me and a very happy birthday girl - what more could one ask for?! Marvellous cake - why is the placing of Smarties so very satisfying? I don't know but it is! So sorry about your grandmother, Gillian. Really hard when one loses someone anyway but especially in the run up to Christmas. I send you a hug. E x

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  37. That cake looks amazing! I am totally going to convince S that that is the cake he needs for his next birthday :-) And happy birthday Bella!

    Also, I am so sorry to hear about your Grandma. Thinking of you and your family... Big hugs, Colleen x

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  38. So sorry to hear about your grandma. Sending you lots of love.
    Can I say that that cake looks more tempting than any train or castle. It is a thing of beauty and I am going to save up your idea for future use if that is ok xx

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  39. So sorry to hear about your Grandma Gillian. I lost mine last year and it was (still is) such a sad time despite her living to the ripe age of 90. Grandmas are very special.

    You did an awesome job on Bellas party. Honestly, these parties are the best kind. Mel x

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