Any Other 30th Birthday

Good afternoon readers…and welcome to your Tuesday afternoon post.  Feet up, tea in hand.  This is drivel, Anna K-style.

We are nearly a quarter of the way through 2012.  Tell me how that happened?

These are some things that happened this year.

I fell in love with a house, then nearly lost the house, then had it again.   I still haven’t quite got it.  But we’re getting there.

I helped re-launch a blog, and I can honestly say I’ve never worked harder on anything in my life.

I turned 30.

When you are throwing a birthday party, and when you know people are coming a long way for that birthday party, you want the party to be good.  I’ve never been one for décor and twiny bits and DIY, but I know people who are.  I know many people who are.  And don’t worry, I’m not going to turn this into a DIY-post, (dear God that would be a train-wreck) and there IS a wider point at the end of this post, but some people deserve mentioning.


A good party starts with good invitations.  Ben Gilman (of Frankie and Ben fame, and of cake-stats fame, oh ok and of Rarebright ) designed my invitations, and I love them with all my heart.  Ben is brilliant to work with because he is patient, and loves fonts, and is great at suggesting things that are perfect but you hadn’t thought of.  You should work with Ben if you need anything designing.  He’s professional, fun to work with and always delivers.

I hired an empty room above a pub that overlooks Victoria Park, my favourite park in the world; the park in which I said yes, the park in which I got fit, the park in which I nearly passed out from hyperventilating doing pressups in the snow (thanks BMF).  I got slightly scared by the empty room-ness of it, had a couple of incidents where I had to take deep breaths and tell myself that no I didn’t need handpainted signs – my guests could see perfectly well where the pizza was.  But what I DID need was a crack team of specialists who could help me decorate the room above the pub so it didn’t look quite so morgue-like.

And that crack team consisted of my cousin Bec, my friend Kate, Rach of RachBakes and Aisling, co-blogger, pompom-maker, rustic bride extraordinaire.  These girls came to help me set up, loaned me lanterns, spent hours making me pompoms, balanced on step ladders to pin Lucy Stendall’s beautiful bunting and said lanterns, drove from the depths of beyond through central London with a car full of said pompoms and lanterns, pinned and taped and did great balancing rhythmic gymnastic feats, and were on hand to tell me that no, the party won’t be just me and my parents, a couple of other people might show up, too.  I cannot recommend enough the importance of a crack team.  Especially a crack team who will play Twister with you when you really should be putting on makeup and froufing (there is photographic evidence of this game but dear God no-one needs to see it!).

 Me, modelling one of Aisling’s (many, beautiful) pompoms ( this one made by her husband, Phil.  Yes, they were two-tone.  Thank you, Aisling and Phil)

 Happy Birthday to me!  Even Mr K is grinning!  All photos from here down are by the brilliant Steve Chen.

 Check out the vintage number, readers!  Rach M and I

 All parties should have Twister.  Just make sure you are wearing a) a forgiving dress b) opaque tights

We ate an insane amount of pizza from E5 Bakehouse (anyone within a three-mile radius of Hackney should check this place out.  Sourdough base.  The freshest ingredients).  Mr K and cousin Bec did two runs out to get the pizza.  That’s how lucky I am, and I am forever indebted.  There was a small incident of crowdsurfing for the world’s best brownies. There was lemon drizzle cake (recipe to come this Saturday, readers, it’s the best lemon drizzle you will ever taste and I say that not lightly).  I actually messed up one of the lemon drizzle cakes (I’m not used to baking industrial-sized quantities of cake and failed to include the er…drizzle stage.  So it was technically just lemon cake).  There were delicious cupcakes baked by my former roommate, Strac.

 Mum, cousin Bec, me

 Recognise this motley crew?


Now.  I had a hell of a night and it was great fun, and I got some incredible, thoughtful presents (some of the best  of which were from you guys, I am teeth into some of the books you gave as gifts and my God, they are deserving of a review…to follow).  But the best  bit of all was a present given to me at the end of the night, when the music turned down and we all rested our aching feet and having the kind of chat that only happens after a party, that kind of bone-tired inane chat between people who’ve known each other both forever and only a matter of months.

The 30 Stories of Anna Kasparian

Rach M (she of the brilliant, Marian Keyes-style engagement tale) had pulled off a feat of organisational brilliance and a weighty contender for The Greatest Gift Of All Time.  Some of you may remember me weeping over this gift Holly gave her dad when he turned 60.  My friends only went and did the same thing.  But better, because it was about me.  Oh, I cannot describe how perfect it was.

I opened a card, first.  ”Read Me“, it declared on the envelope.  Inside, it said this:

“Postmistresses Claire, Kate and Rach and Postmaster Ant undertook throughout the months of February and March 2012 to ask the loved ones and friends of Mrs Anna Kasparian if they might be inclined to choose a postcard that made them think of her and write a story about Anna on it.  

They were aiming for a box of 30 postcards in honour of Anna’s 30th birthday.

This box is the result” 

Then there was a mini suitcase, with stamps and owls and vintage airmail stickers.  And in the mini suitcase were the 30 Stories of Me, postcards with memories from people from my past and present all around the world.  Some were long, some were short, some were sad, some were rib-achingly funny, all were incredible.

Steve’s pictures describe it better than I ever could.



Thank you Rach, thank you everyone.  Life may begin at 30 but that was a very, very poignant way of summing up what came before.

Categories: Behind the Scenes at AOW, Life Experience, Written By Anna
32 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Peridot
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing party – wonderful gift of the postcards. And can I borrow Aisling to make pompoms for my wedding please? Although I’m also rather taken with them as headgear….

    PS It CAN’T be the best ever lemon drizzle cake because I make that. Fact. Although mine is a triple lemon cake rather than a drizzle, technically…

    • Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Peridot – wait til Saturday. I promise you, your head will explode from the tartness and beauty of this lemon drizzle.

      Clare and I have a high price for loaning out Aisling – she’s a valuable commodity. Price includes a combination of haribo and cake – needs international shipping.

      • Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        I also have an amazing lemon drizzle recipe. G loves lemon cake, but the recipes in books are never quite sharp enough, so over the years I have amended a recipe into a thing of extreme lemony goodness. I have however just mentioned to him that there is a rival lemon cake recipe appearing on the scene on Saturday. So that’s clearly what I’ll be doing on Sunday!

        K x

        PS: I would seriously give Aisling my bodyweight in both cake and haribo if she showed me how to do that with pompoms!

        • Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          Erm…I think there must be a misunderstanding. Aisling doesn’t get the cake and haribo. Clare and I do, as her pompom pimps.

          • Clare
            Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

            I need business cards with the job title ‘Pompom Pimp’.

            • Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

              Best job title ever. I’m now envisioning you two in purple velvet jackets eating Haribo from diamond encrusted packets while Aisling makes pompoms in the background.

              K x

              • Posted March 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

                Weeping with mirth. Pictures of C and I in purple velvet jackets forthcoming.

            • Posted March 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

              I am laughing my ass off over here at the pompom pimp brigade!

  2. Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Now that is a sweet sweet present.

  3. Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    *stamps feet*
    I want to read the stories!

    • Steff
      Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Me three!

      • Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        Ha – I will do a post in the future with the “best of!”

  4. Steff
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Ummm… I’m totally stealing that idea – that’s all kinds of awesome! You’re lucky to have such thoughtful people in your life Anna and what’s best about it all is that you know it.

    Glad you had fun x

    PS Happy Birthday :)

    • Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Steff, man, believe me I know it. And thank you! x

  5. Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Everyone in life needs a crack team. And Twister. I can also recommend that you don’t play Twister in high-waisted jeans, because they seriously impede your bending ability and if you become too competitive you may end up undoing them halfway through the night because you’re determined not to be thwarted in your Twister Championship by mere wardrobe choices.

    That is the most incredibly sweet and lovely present idea ever. I think I may steal it for my parent’s anniversary.

    K x

  6. Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Oh Anna! This was so fab to read- love your love affair with Victoria Park! And what wonderful friends you have – Rach M that is an adorable thing to do! Loved sneaking a peek at the photos too. Great way to start your thirties Mrs K… Here’s to many more excellent parties xxx

  7. Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    LOVE the 30 postcards idea – absolutely inspired! Coveting L-Sten’s outfit…


  8. Rach M
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I can’t take the credit!! Anna’s sister Claire, lovely friend Kate and the practical-advice-giving and wondrous Mr K made it happen. Twas but the idea spark that was mine. It was a fab party – I can vouch for the pizza, brownies and cupcakes (and dancing! Love is a battlefield is SUCH a tune). LOVE the pictures of Anna opening the box. So thrilled you liked it Anna xxx

  9. Becca
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    It was fab.u.lous and there was SO SO SO much pizza and brownies. And I went all fan girl over Ant (sorry Ant). The hardest bit was asking for “an intellectual book” in Waterstones and the best bit was seeing Ginny stagger down the road (and it was a stagger) with me shouting “GINNNN-EEEEEE” on repeat.

    FYI – Excuse my forehead in the pictures. I am now contemplating getting a fringe.

    On a more shallow note – where did they buy the lunchbox from? I NEED a cardboard old fashioned lunchbox immediately.

    • Posted March 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      I wish the stagger/shouting had been captured on camera….no party is compelte without a stagger and a shout!

      Rach informs me the owl case was bought from “Sass and Belle, purveyors of all things owl!” –

  10. Caroline
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I must have that birthday present!!
    I wonder if I leave this web page open constantly when I have guests and tell my H2B and everyone who will listen what a lovely/cute/touching/beautiful present it is maybe I will get one of these for my 30th birthday. Or 29th. Or as a wedding present. I’m not fussy.

  11. Posted March 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Looks and sounds like an amazing party.

    I love your invites and that postcard idea is just amazing! I am absolutely stealing that for all big birthdays/hen-do’s/life event of any kind.


  12. Fee
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    What a fantastic gift! I may have to ‘borrow’ the idea in the future…

    I am turning 30 this summer and have similar worries about having a party and no-one turning up except my sisters and my husband. Although if that happened, at least we could eat all the cake.

  13. Jenny
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Party looks awesome, Anna! You can never have too much pizza or two many brownies surely? The invites look very cool and the 30 at 30 present is amazing! I loved the idea so much that sent my sister the link to Holly’s 60 at 60 when you wrote about it so we could remember to do it for my Dad’s 60th in a couple of years. From the photos it looks like it was a massive success for you too!

    Can’t wait for the lemon drizzle cake recipe at the weekend! My mouth’s watering at the thought. Do we need anything special other than lemons and standard cake baking ingredients? I need to ask the Tesco man to bring them on Friday so I’m ready to bake on Saturday!


    • Posted March 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Lemons, flour, sugar, icing sugar, eggs. And a skewer. That is it! X

      • Jenny
        Posted March 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        Awesome, thank you!

  14. Posted March 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    ‘Twas the best night and lovely to catch up with everyone, meet Ant finally, let you all meet Pete finally and of course toast to your whole thirty years!



  15. Laura
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Ah, man, this is awesome. Is 16 months too far in advance to plan one’s 30th? Waaaah. Many happy returns, Anna K!

  16. Alex D
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    What an amazing bunch of chums you have! Looks like a fabulous party. The postcard idea was also wonderful. I now feel like I need some pompoms in my life. I have no parties coming up, however. Will have to remedy this.

    As for the lemon drizzle cake recipe, I’m intrigued. I want, nay *need* to know if it’s better than the one I use. If it is, I shall be insanely jealous. Not that I get competitive about cake making…x

  17. Posted March 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    I swear, no one dresses better than Rach M.

2 Trackbacks

  • By Weekend Wonderings on March 31, 2012 at 7:05 am

    [...] I promised earlier this week that I would share my second favourite baked goods recipe.  Gold medal is the brownies of [...]

  • By Calling all Creatives… on October 23, 2012 at 7:01 am

    [...] timing, as ever.) I’m going with my special brand of flat-bottomed pompom, seen here at Anna’s 30th earlier this year… I believe she's wearing this to Ascot next [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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