Friday, 18 April 2014

Embrace Happy

The last couple of years haven't always been the easiest of times, especially when it can be hard to shake the idea that 'we are living the dream' Aaron, the eternal optimist powers through convincing me it will all be fine, and eventually a whole lot more than just fine while I can find it hard to focus on the end of the week let alone any further than that!

Don't get me wrong, I have (usually) tried to look on the bright side but often have failed to find one despite the blue skies and sandy beaches (I hate sand anyway!) so being consistently happy is something I have to actively work at.

There has been a change this year, despite many of the existing problems still ongoing but it's still worth while realising there is always something, no matter how small to be happy about.

A fellow blogger, Karin (Cafe Bebe) is trying to help us all remember this, and is doing a very good job!

After joining in with #3goodthings for a while on Instagram and facebook, where you stop and find 3 good things in each day no matter how small, I decided to join a small group in the 'happy snail mail' challenge. Being in Cyprus I had to wait a little longer than most but soon enough I recieved my own little bit of 'happy' through the post....

a lovely card and picture from Karin with a short message inside, and the address of another participant to 'pay it forward' and share the happiness!

Being all caught up in Fun Day preparations I got a little bit delayed but eventually I got round to my task and sent my own snail mail with a little bit of Cyprus sunshine on wards to the next person, as well as one back to Karin by way of thank you.

I love the 'snail mail' idea, its so rare to receive it these days and being in Cyprus we get very few birthday or Christmas cards even,  it's even harder to go to a post office and check international postage than to just pop something in the postbox!

I love the whole #embracehappy idea and it does make you stop and notice the little things a lot more.

'Embrace Happy' has a new home and you can find it at and join in on facebook in the Embrace Happy group which is open to everyone. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fun day Sunday!

I've been to many events here in Cyprus, some good, many bad but usually leave muttering how easy it would be to improve them in some way. So when I was was offered a venue to hold my own just after I had set up the Famagusta Parents Network I jumped at the chance to do just that!

As a child I loved the school fetes, Brownie fairs and enjoyed getting involved in them. (I helped at Brownies for many years after I actually left!) and my ideas for the event I guess were based on those. I knew I wanted to have things for the children to do, and that if they were happy, the parents would be happy.  I knew I wanted to promote and support local businesses and I wanted to raise money in the process for a local charity.

From the idea it might happen to the day itself was just 6 weeks, some people mentioned this wasn't very long - I shrugged and said it would be fine!

And it was!

The support I had from the community was quite amazing both in the run up to the day, with businesses getting involved, donating prizes, promoting the event and arranging activities for the day itself. On the day it was estimated that between 300 and 400 people came which I was very pleased with, especially as there were several events on the same day (which of course I hadn't realised when I set the day -  I checked, assuming that promotion would have already started for something happening in 6 weeks time, forgetting that this is Cyprus!)

The event was held at a local football training ground which has a cafe bar and a municipal skate park and playground, a great venue that no-one I knew had heard about they provided a bouncy castle and bbq for the day. We had many local businesses with stalls there, some selling products and some with activities to participate in.

There was toys to play with, pottery painting, drawing. face painting and cute poodle dogs to see as well as a variety of games arranged by Anagennisi, the football club who own the venue.

With help from some friends I ran a tombola stall with over 100 prizes which had been donated by local shops and several people helped me to sell raffle tickets.

Local dance school Performers Academy put on a great little show for us and we had a DJ playing good old family friendly music all day creating a brilliant atmosphere - I may have been dancing around at several points in the day!

A representative from KEPA, the charity I chose to support came along and very kindly presented me with a plaque for my efforts and as a thank you for raising funds for them, which in the end totaled €550

I was so pleased with how the day went, and at one point looked around at all the people and especially considering I'd never done anything like that before! Many people have told me what a great day they had but none made me smile more than Leo telling me the next day that 'it was the BEST fun day ever Mummy!'

You can see more photos of the day on the Famagusta Parents Network facebook page and find the website at

3 Children and It

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 3 April 2014

For the first time in forever...

For the first time in forever, I am more than 'just a Mum' 
For the first time in forever, I am busy, having fun!
and I know it's totally crazy to think I wasn't 'me' 
but for the first time in forever it seems I've found the key!

Looking back, I can't really think of a time when I was 'busy', before Leo was born I worked but I finished at 5pm on the dot, never took work home with me or gave it a moments thought once leaving the office and did as I pleased in the evenings and weekends. Never chock a block with social arrangements or struggling to fit things in, always free for any meet ups or last minute plans.

For the last five years I've been lucky to be a stay at home Mum, and I've spent a lot of time being busy doing nothing,   'nothing' being washing, cooking, cleaning and general housewifey stuff and looking after one, then two children, which of course isn't nothing at all but often feels like it!

I'd arrange to meet with friends and never have to think if I had other plans, it was never anything that couldn't be moved, maybe just a vague plan to go shopping or mop the floor!

Aaron was working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, and then in the winter it was the complete opposite and he was at home 24/7.  He was then able to help out with everything and it felt like we were both sitting around the house doing 'nothing' together.

And then it all went crazy!

Aaron started his new job, in which he basically sets his own hours and arranges his own appointments, so it varies when he is around.

I started a part time cleaning job working the hours around Aaron being at home.

I am still going to Slimming World (3lb from target now)  but am also the 'weigh lady' which I enjoy - I like helping out and it means I 'have' to attend group even if I've had a bad week.

Aaron had time to re-discover his love of photography and created a facebook page showing some of his favourite photos and offering his services at local events.

Last month I started year 2 of the government's Greek lessons, they were due to begin back in November but in typical style they were late and because of that they are being run as double lessons - hence 3 hour long lessons twice a week!

In February I launched the Famagusta Parents Network (FPN)  a website and online community group for families of all nationalities in my area, and just in case all that wasn't enough I started arranging a Family Fun Day to celebrate the launch of the FPN and give families a great day out whilst supporting local businesses and raising money for charity!

It's madness but I love it!

Week days are crazy busy, with Aaron and I competing for time out the house for meetings and time on the computer for working whilst the other occupies the boys!

Weekends are starting to feel like weekends again, and becoming a time that feels different to the rest of the week!

I think some people may think I'm a bit mad - running a non-profit organisation but it's my 'baby' and I really feel like it's going to go places - the fun day is a first for me and so far seems to be all under control. I'm really looking forward to the day and hope it goes as well as it is playing through in my head!

I still love my own little piece of the internet with my personal blog here, and I have no intention of abandoning it, posts may be less frequent but I'll keep 'em coming as and when I get a chance!

Image credit
Louka is now 19 months old and rapidly approaching the 'terrible twos'  - he's starting to talk but has also started to develop a real temper when he can't get what he wants or can't make you understand him.    Leo is almost 5 years old -  loud, crazy, still reasonably high maintenance but on the whole increasing easy and fun to be with.

I am ME, a wife, Mum, daughter, friend and throwing it all together with lot of  'to do' lists and my fingers crossed!

Who knew that being properly busy was the thing to make me happy than I can remember being for ages?! (well, either that or the repeated watching of the film 'Frozen!)

Monday, 31 March 2014

Creme Egg Cake Tutorial

Have I ever mentioned how much I love cake?

Admittedly the best bit is eating the cakes but over the last few years I've been slowly improving on my cake creating skills, usually with the help of my more creative and patient husband but we are getting there.  I am always so in awe of professional cake makers who these days seem to create such amazing masterpieces and until now wouldn't have thought of even attempting to emulate them.  

Last year, 'Ladies That Cake' created a masterpiece - a Creme Egg Cake. 

This year they are sharing the secret!

For £10 (about €12)  you can now purchase the 'Creme Egg Cake' tutorial, and make your own in time for Easter. 

Due to a major lack of time setting up and promoting my new website and being so close to my Slimming World target, unfortunately I've yet to try to make my own Creme Egg cake but it's on my wish list!  I just thought it was so cool that I had to share it with you!

You can purchase the tutorial for yourself by emailing  

Not a sponsored post - although I may be requesting payment in cake from 
Ladies That Cake at a later date!   *wonders if cake will make it in the post*

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Marching and Mountaineering

March 25th is Greek Independence day - and is celebrated in Cyprus as well as Greece. It is a bank holiday, shops and schools are closed and parades are held all over the country.  Leo and his classmates took part in a school play to commemorate the event and came home proudly waving their Greek flags.

As usual on these national holidays we were 'treated' to the sound of one of the parades which sets off from outside our apartments, we were lucky to have to unusually late start of 7.45am though this time!  Leo and Louka enjoyed it though, watching over the balcony and then marching round themselves!

It was a lovely day and summer must be on its way as the flip flops and 3/4 length trousers made their first appearance this year when we all headed down to the beach path for a walk later in the morning. 

It's quite rare that we venture onto the beach while we walk along which is daft but the sand drives me crazy, especially when I'm not prepared for it but I'm really trying to get over that so when Leo asked to play on the sand I think he was surprised to hear me say yes. 

We took a very tired Louka down with us and had a great time playing on the almost empty beach, especially when we discovered a huge mountain of sand left by the diggers that had been getting the beach ready for tourists.  

Louka absolutely loved it and hardly even ate any which is an improvement on last time, it was only when I tried to take him off and he threw himself face first on the floor that it went a bit badly!

We finished off the outing with a meal at my favourite beachside cafe and Leo played nicely while Louka eventually fell asleep in the pushchair, 4 hours later than he would normally sleep!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Rosetta Stone, Mobile Solution

I've been a big fan of Rosetta Stone for many years now, ever since I tried the free demo not long after deciding to move to Cyprus.

Having previously used the the TOTALe program on my laptop I was interested to see what the difference would be using their new 'Mobile Solution'

Designed to enable you to learn 'on the go' away from your computer, your progress automatically syncs to your computer.

I used the Rosetta Stone TOTALe Course app on my android tablet and it completely renewed my enthusiam for learning the language after I'd long got out of the habit of using the program on my laptop.

It was a much more enjoyable pastime, curled up on the sofa or in bed made it seem easier to dip in and out off meaning that I found it less of a 'chore' to do.

For me, the biggest advantage is how much more it appealed to Leo. At the age of four he attends local Cypriot school and is taught in Greek, therefore his understanding of the language is very good and 'helping Mummy learn Greek' has become one of his new favourite activities!

It amazes me to see how good he is at it and we make a great team doing it together as the bit he often struggles with is not the comprehension of the language but understanding the pictures, often needing my help to work out if someone is 'going into a bank or a post office for example.

Even Loukas at 18 months old is fascinated by it and will often sit for quite a while watching us, as long as we can keep it out of reach so he doesn't ruin our scores with his wild lunges at the screen!

The Rosetta Stone Mobile apps are available from the App Store and Google Play

I received an online subscription to Rosetta Stone for the purpose of review and in conjunction with my contributions to the Rosetta Stone #milestones blog.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Listography - My life in books

It's been a very long time since I joined in with Kate's Listography but I couldn't resist at the mention of books. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many books I've read and I have so many favourites but these are these ones which are the most memorable to me.

The 'Little House' series - Laura Ingalls Wilder

After reading Little House on the Praire at school, and then finding 'These Happy Golden Years at the library I was totally hooked on the story of Laura and her family.  Eventually I owned the whole set and read and re-read them for many years. I can't remember how old I was when I got rid of them but I dearly wish I'd kept them all now.

Flowers In the Attic - Virginia Andrews

This was the first time I realised how you (usually) ruin a very good book with a bad film.  I loved Flowers in the Attic and the rest of the series, but I sat in disbelief at the film - it wasn't even the same ending! I went on to read almost everything Virginia Andrews wrote.

London Pride - Beryl Kingston

The first 'grown up' book I got from the library, I can't remember how old I was but I didn't have an adult ticket but I asked my Dad if he would get it on his, the libraian heard him and said I could get it myself as she would change my ticket to enable me to take out adult ones - I was so excited about this sudden new amount of books to choose from! It also started me off on a love of World War two 'home front' books and a fascination for recent history.

Lightning - Dean Kootnz

Officially declared as my favourite book of all time. Time travelling Nazi's, 'destiny struggling to reassert the pattern which was meant to be' - what more could I ask for!  I first read my old housemates copy and just loved it and then brought my own battered copy for 50p from a boot fair once he had moved away. One day I will get round to buying a decent copy - it doesn't seem right that my favourite book is falling apart now!

The Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carlye

This has to have a mention as not only was it probably one of the first books I read, its now one I'm regularly reading now! I am pleased that I seem to have passed my love of reading onto my boys and we have acquired a huge collection of books which both the boys read every day just like I always did.

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