Saturday, 31 March 2012

Community Chess

On my wanderings around Leeds, I found something awesome: giant outdoor chess, for the general public!

 The chess pieces lives in a big black box outside the library entrance. These gentlemen went to the box, brought out the pieces one by one, set them up, then they started to play! It made me so happy!

Lots of people came to watch the games - people of all generations, contributing and discussing tactics, and then playing eachother! It was marvelous! And all in a very pretty, very majestic doorstep of the Leeds Art Gallery and Town Hall.

I stole a pawn very briefly to take a photo - it made me so happy! :)


It got me thinking though - this is a wonderful idea by someone to get men involved in a type of play that they wouldn't normally get chance to do. They play against strangers, but also come together to set things up and form relationships with other by-standing strangers. It's like an alternative to football for male bonding! Hopefully one day, I'll come across a lady playing on the chess board. But for now, this is super cool!

Hoorah for giant chess boards and chess pieces. And hoorah for strangers who play chess! :)

Friday, 30 March 2012

A Visit to Durham :)

I'm back from my very brief trip further up north and the sun has sadly disappeared. Today was cold and it made me a little bit sad. I had a lovely little trip to Durham though to see the lovely Chikae. My primary reason for visiting was to catch up so eventhough I took my camera I didn't actually take many photos. There are a couple to share though:

Photo excitement on the train.

Durham Cathedral from the train station

A shot of the multicoloured awesomeness just before I was shooed in the cathedral - not allowed to take photos in there!

And a happy photo of me and Chikae! :)

We had a lovely time wandering around, laughing, talking and just enjoying the sun. Chikae made me some awesome marmalade ribs and shortly after that I had to rescue her from the dark. It was a fun adventure and it was great to chat up. See you again very soon Chikae, and by then I'll have to bring gifts for three people! Woooo! :)

Freebie Friday - chocolate, seeds and dishwasher tablets

A couple of days ago, I hinted that I had some rather impressive freebies to show off this week, and looking at it, I think it is pretty cool. Here it is:

I managed to acquire:
a sample packet of 10 dishwasher tablets
a packet of sweetcorn seeds (which are now growing)
a free Aero bar
And a Thornton's chocolate egg (walked into the shop with the voucher and walked out with an egg)

Now, there it one thing I must make clear about this week's hoard: I don't actually own a dishwasher. So the dishwasher tablets are going to be put away safely whilst I gather resources for a freebie giveaway! I think it could be a bit of fun, and I'm willing to bet that some lucky person who owns a dishwasher will have sparkling clean plates and bowls courtesy of my freebies. 

Soon, maybe. Soon.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Another Mini Zan Adventure! :)

I'm going to visit my friend Chikae in Country Durham. I'm super excited to see her because we've been trying to get together for some time now but life has just been too busy! I'm especially excited because Chikae's preparing for the arrival of a new family member! Yay! Very soon there will be a mini Yuey or mini Chikae running around in this world! So happy for them both! :)

Anyway, getting ready to leave now so I'll catch you all later :) Go outside and enjoy the sun, and remember to take a moment out of your day to play :)


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Spring Time Gardening

Over the years, I have been relatively successful at growing plants on my windowsill. I first discovered it was a good spot when a sunflower grew really big in a plastic coffee cup I'd upcycled, and now my mum uses every year. Then the year after I grew an assortment of vegetables on my windowsill as well as some wild flowers, and this year, I'd received a free packet of sweetcorn in the post and thought - why not. I poked around my house for some suitable containers, and after a bit of digging and watering, here's what we have:

On the left is a plastic box previously containing cotton buds. It already had holes in the bottom which saved some work and now it has 7 sweetcorn seeds in. On the right hand side there is a modified plastic bottle.

A close up of my bottle, modified so we can take the top off so my plants can be nice and warm but not suffocate! I really like my design cos it comes on and off with a satisfying "pop"!

And there they are, the two nifty containers, chilling on my windowsill. Let's see how long they take to peek out and say hello! :)

The sun's still out and everyone's still in a good mood. I'm really thankful for the few days - it's been a good change from the miserable grey we normally get. The weather has meant that I've done lots of things I wouldn't normally get to do, like gardening and eating lunch outside. Good times!

I'm off to visit a friend tomorrow so may not get chance to post on the ol' blog. We'll see though. Off on another mini adventure! Wooo! :) Hoorah for adventures, plants and sunshine!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Picnic in the Sun

I met up with my lovely college friends today and had a picnic! It was very nice. We talked about college, and old friends, and cassette tapes, and scaling walls. We ate cakes, and made nachos, and hummed music, and drew pictures with our eyes closed. Then we laughed at ourselves and with eachother, and just a lot of happy things went down. We missed our other college friends a lot, and wished they were around too. Maybe next time!

And the happy thing about today - the discovery of a mouse shaped cheese grater! Let me show you! :)


I'm very chuffed to have such lovely friends which I have known for such a long time. I say this every time, but it really is pretty awesome to have kept in touch and actively still meeting people who you met for the first time over 10 years ago. Crazy. But awesome. :)

Hoorah for friends, and my love to every one of them :)

Hello Lady! :)

I made a friend today. A very little friend. With a red body and black spots. Say hello! :)


My little friend was crawling around in my house, and when I found it, I thought it would be nice if we'd go on a little adventure.

All around my fingers


Onto the local greenery.

A little bit of upside-down action.

A quick view of the sky.

And a little visit to some almost-ready flowers.

It was a nice little adventure with my little friend. I hope to see more little ladybirds flying my way! :)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Flowers in the Sun :)

It has been a gloriously sunny couple of days and today I decided to venture outside with my camera. After a few clicks, I realised there was a little bit of a theme going with my photos so I made them into a collage. Can you see the odd one out?


Flowers look lovely against the backdrop of the sky. I love the blue of the sky - I'm often amazed at how pure and clear it looks on days like this! Makes me happy :)

I've really enjoyed my afternoon in the sun. Found some time to read for fun and just relax a little. I've had a busy week, and have a busy week ahead so I'm getting ready for it all by having a little time for play :) If you have two minutes, go have a peek at the new Pop-Up Adventure Play Blog! Only when you've had some time outside and have said hello to the sun! :)

Hoorah for photos, blogs and sunshine! :)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Two Mums, Three Exhibitions and a Train Ride :)

You may remember me showing you a photo of two mums happily smiling on Mother's Day. Well, inside those lovely little purple and white envelopes, there were were lots of tickets! Tickets to a craft show. Not just any craft show, but a 3 in 1 craft show in the NEC in Birmingham! Both these lovely mums had received train tickets and entry tickets to Birmingham and were chuffed to pieces!


So I've just returned from the train station having escorted them to the appropriate train. Very exciting stuff actually, and they were already laughing and giggling along the way. Turns out the other mum hasn't been on a train in the UK for about 10 years. And it turns out my mum has never been to a huge show. So they're both gonna have an experience today! Here is a photo of them leaving my house:

Don't they look lovely? :) Just in case you're wondering, the mum on the right is mine :)

I'm very excited for them, and I also wish I was with them. No matter though - plenty to do and all that. I'm happy that they're happy! :) And also pretty excited cos it's so sunny outside! :)

Side note - just went to get the post and it looks like I have a wonderful list of things to tell you about for next week's Freebie Friday! So exciting! :)

Hoorah for mums and hoorah for craft shows! (And a small yay for freebies! :) )

Friday, 23 March 2012

Freebie Friday - Almond Milk, Pizza, Coffee and Seeds!

Last week, I introduced you to my batch of freebies, and announced that I would have freebie fridays. This week, I've been very proud of my freebie acquisition. I was also very fortunate really. Here are two lovely photos of stuff I got:

I got this on Monday at the train station on the way to Cardiff - I couldn't keep it all week but it was a jolly good freebie eh? :)

These were posted to me in Manchester whilst I was in Cardiff - seeds and coffee! That's both parents happy right there! :)

Over the course of the week I also got a free (fake, scented) poppy and a slice of pizza. Both of which I couldn't photograph but I enjoyed very much! :) It's been a good week for free stuff! Hope you've all managed to get a little something free this week too! :)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A Tee for Me! :)

When I met Morgan at the Play Shop on Monday, she handed me a bag of goodies which I had no time to explore before being covered in paint. Having got home and rested, I poked around my mini suitcase and rediscovered the bag of goodies. I then spent a significant amount of time admiring a t-shirt that my lovely colleagues had ordered for me so I wouldn't feel left out of the Largo trip that they had the week before. Since I'm not feeling particular photogenic today, here's a pic of it:

It's yellow, and eye catching, and logo-ed and everything! So exciting!

Of course, next time I go anywhere on any Pop-Up Adventure Play related trip, I will be wearing my lovely new t-shirt. Very exciting! And I'm really quite chuffed that my colleagues tried to include me in their adventure :)

On a vaguely related topic, I haven't posted much about the Largo trip yet, but I hear a rumour that Pop-Up Adventure Play may be starting a new blog... maybe Largo will be featured there....? Watch this space! :)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Zan Goes Exploring: Cardiff

I decided to spend my last day in Cardiff having a good wander around. After trying for another coat of paint on the walls in the Play Shop, I found that the sun was out and everything was happy in the Welsh capital, and it made me quite smiley.

I wandered through fancy shopping arcades. They looked like the ones I found in Leeds.

I looked at miniature art.

I discovered a harp delivery!

And I made friends with a fake giant panda which was stood on a table.

All in all, I had a good day, and even though I missed my train home, I think it was still a good day, and a nice end to a very productive 3 days in Cardiff. I really like Cardiff - it seems to be a place that is more accepting than others. That's why the Pop-Up Play Shop worked there I reckon. It's a little sad that it's over (and that we have to paint over everything), but we always knew it was a temporary project, Here's hoping for many more to come! :)

Finally, here's our little goodbye to the Play Shop. Enjoy! :)


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Break from the Play Shop to Play!

After a long hard day at the Play Shop, painting and suffocating ourselves with fumes, Morgan and I decided to take a quick trip to the Lego Shop in the next arcade.

We got very excited about the "customise your own lego man" gondola - we made lots of little people with a variety of different outfits and accessories!

I was very excited about the pick and mix wall - there were sooooo many bricks and soooo many colours! Made me sooo happy! :)

Blue 2x4 bricks

See through round bricks - never seen these before!

Steering wheel pieces! We only ever had one of these in our lego box when we were little and we used to fight over it!

And look - I made a stig! :)

We had lots of fun in the Lego Shop - possibly a little more fun than some of the kids were! It was really cool in there though and they had lots of awesome stuff. Maybe another quick visit tomorrow before I set off home? I don't know.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Tidying Up in Cardiff

On Saturday, we were very sad to have our final Pop-Up Play Shop session in Cardiff. I heard it was a wonderful day and families came in especially to say goodbye. It's been a great project and it is sad to see it go but there will be more to come! We promise! :)

Today, I arrived in Cardiff to help tidy up. Here are some pictures of the before and after:

Our back room/secret storage room before the tidy

The empty room after most of the stuff is sorted into bags.

The Play Shop after a bit of a sweep.

The Play Shop after some organisation and the stuff from the back room is brought outside. Doesn't look much different really eh?

There's still a lot of work to do, mostly painting and cleaning, but I'm here for a couple of days to keep Morgan and her merry band of volunteers company, and to have a laugh and a giggle. Together we'll get this shop back to it's original (more boring) form. More tidying tomorrow :)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Happy Mother's Day! :)

This is a photo of my mum and my friend Angel's mum with their mother's day presents. They are very happy. :) I think that means my work is complete! :)

Happy mother's day! :)

Zan-Pops Ready for Travel

Just thought I'd post up how I'd packaged my cake pops ready to be distributed today. I think they look rather good :)

A little bit of ribbon makes all the difference eh? :D And the flat bottoms made them easy to stand up after I'd finished wrapping them up :D Yay! :)

I think next time, I'll try and do more crazy designs. But for now, I reckon these cakepops have brought some smiles to some people's faces today :) Yay! :)

Zan-pops :)

Some family friends came round for tea today and afterwards, the parents went off to have their own conversations, and I decided to hang out with their kid. Having always been an admirer of Bakerella, I thought I'd practice my cake pop making skills again. So arms with my Cake Pop Book I decided to make some little delicacies myself.

First, I made a cake, crumbled it, mixed it with some ready made frosting, then used candy coating to stick a stick in it.

Once cooled, I used some Wilton's Candy coating to cover the whole cake.

I wasn't fully prepared for cake pops because I hadn't found any polystyrene (styrofoam) to stick my pops in, so I decided to just but them back on my baking tray.

But now they look a little silly with a flat head. Haha. Bet they're yummy :)

Oh wow, I didn't realise it got so late! Guess I was having fun making cakepops! Woo! :) Now I hope my recipients enjoy their little gifts. :) Make some of your own - he's a head start with getting the ingredients together:



Hoorah for cakepop awesomeness! :)

Friday, 16 March 2012

Purple Cake Cases :)

I stopped by my local cake decorating shop to pick up some snazzy looking cupcake cases for my friend Angel who came over to make cake with me tonight. We had lots of fun and of course my favourite thing of the night was the cake cases. And the company of course! But look at the cakes!

They were just big fairy cakes actually, with some buttercream on top, and mini oreos to decorate! Pretty cool eh?

It's a belated birthday cake for Angel, whom I have known for quite a many years. Probably for the same amount of time I've known Nancy actually, which I totally hadn't thought about. Angel's getting married soon too!!! I saw the ring for the first time today! It's very shiney. A big congrats to Angel and Tony! I'm SO excited!

Hoorah for cake and many celebratory exclamations for my lovely friend Angel :)

Introducing... Freebie Fridays :)

Ever since I became a student again, I had a vested interest in obtaining free stuff. Let's be honest here, students aren't the richest people around, especially when you're a student the second time round. I've collected quite a few freebies over the last year and a half, both here in the UK and in the States. My biggest free horde was in the States actually, and my most wonderful freebie was the cutest and smallest thing in the world. Having blogged about it quite a bit, I thought I'd just have Freebie Fridays. A little alliteration never hurt anybody! :) I think it would be where I can talk about my weekly scavenge of freebies, or maybe give free things away. I dunno! We'll have to see! It's fun for me, and free for all! Wooo! :)

So this week, I want to show you what I've acquired, and I have to say - it's pretty impressive! :)

This, my friends, is a photo of a 4-pack of the New Kelloggs Rice Krispies Rocky Road Squares (see if you can get some!) and 4 free samples of coffee with adjoining 50p off coupons that they were giving away today at Leeds Train Station.

For now, I haven't the capacity to give any of this stuff away yet. No money for postage! However, I may have to make a freebie hamper one day for someone to win! I think it would be awesome! Thoughts anyone?

Obviously drop me a line if you find any other freebies. I really do like getting free stuff. Makes me very happy :) Heheheee! :) Free stuff for meeeeee! :)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Shortbread and Masterchef

My friend Lee and I have been watching the latest series of Masterchef with much enthusiasm. It's a well edited, intense program that is sometimes hysterical and sometimes emotional. And sometimes just downright OTT. Anyway, it was the finals today so we thought we'd watch it together, and also eat some freshly baked shortbread :)

There's my attempt at making the classic wedge shaped shortbreads. Looked like a pizza!

It was a fun evening - the shortbread was nice and the person who we thought would win Masterchef won. So everything is good! Well, everything ended well today at least. Hoorah! :)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Video from Play Unplugged

The City of Largo certainly knows how to document their own events. There's a 60-photo slideshow on their site as well as this lovely little video - can we spot Pop-Up Adventure Play's Morgan, Anna or Sharon in this video?


Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Little Bits and Pieces

I woke up this morning with a small urge to tiny. This didn't last very long though, and after discovering some forgotten books, I'd completely sidetracked. For some reason, my attention was completely captivated by Amazon Associates and the widget carousel which I will show you in this blog post right now (because it took me about an hour to work out how to do it and I need to make sure that hour was not wasted!)



This of course might get a bit silly when I recommend everything I love to all of you, but for now, let's stick to the hot topics - play and playwork. I managed to do something fancy and put it the carousel to the right there on the side bar too! So chuffed! I'm getting geekier by the day!

I managed today to reach the minimum number of people I needed to participate in my dissertation research for it to be valid and stuff. Very happy, but also slightly at a loss. What on earth do I do with all the information now?!

Later on in the day I spent some time outside, soaking up the sun in the still very cold spring air. It was nice to be outside eventhough it was still pretty chilly. I saw more evidence that spring is coming, and despite the UK introducing a hose-pipe ban, I managed to stumble across very muddy, very wet woodlands where I met 2 horses, a biker and a runner. I like being outside :)


I poked around my local area and absorbed some local history too. I found a bridge that's been around for ages and ages and made me really happy to find out that it has been restored to it's former glory cos people liked it. Yay!

Ooh, today, I found some photos and videos from the Play Unplugged event over in Largo, Florida. The City of Largo deployed their own photographers for this massive play event, and published them online as a little slideshow which you have to go see cos there's like 60 photos on there! There's also a slideshow uploaded by Kate Bradshaw that contains another selection of photos from the awesome day. Finally, my lovely colleague and friend, Morgan, has posted up some thoughts about her crazy week in Eastbourne and Largo up on her blog.

It's been a interesting day, full of little things. Nothing hugely important happened today, but lots of little (but significant) things did. I like the little things though, so I applaud them. Hoorah for the tiny stuff, and yay for the little things! :)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

A Sunny Moment

After a particularly busy day, it was nice to have a lovely little moment to make everything better. What can be lovelier than the brightness of flowers on a Spring afternoon? :) 

Taken with my phone when sunshine collided happily with bright daffodils.

It made me happy :)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Photos I Forgot I Had :)

I've been clearing out the photos recently to make room for more, and I've come across some happy, and some hilarious photos that I've completely forgotten about! I've had a good 2 hours to chuckle at them, and I thought I'd share some with you.

Take at Salford Quays one evening after Church. Peter makes me laugh in this pic :)

A visit to Blackpool with our friend Hui Wei. We laughed so much during that trip! :) Look at Clem's hair! :)

I have no idea where or when we took this photo. Made me giggle though! Is that Janina on the top floor?

I've been looking for this photo for ages! And I think Shazia will have a photo of me taking this photo! :)

I had completely forgotten about taking this photo, but it made me laugh a lot when I remembered what we were doing. Killing time! Haha. Or by the looks of it, killing Ric! :)

This pic makes Kev look like a pro. I don't remember taking this at all!

Look at how happy Uncle is in this pic! We were at Southport and it was cold. This was a while ago.

Hahaaa, me and Clem went on an adventure once - this is usually what happens in our adventures! We pose for pics at the tops of hills. Can't remember when this was!

I remember the cow hunt somewhat, but I don't remember how it all started, nor how many cows we ended up seeing. Hahaha, it was good fun though!

We were at a curry buffet, I remember that much, but whether this photo was taken of James before or after curry consumption, that's beyond me. Could be either.

This I completely forgot about. We are sooooo mean tying balloons to babies. He was so upset that he couldn't get to the balloons and crawled around in circles trying to grab them!

Fiona is mighty! And all I remember is that this happened during James' birthday one year.

This made me laugh so much! The odd situation one day when my family members all discovered they were holding really random bags and wanted to parade it.

Photos are awesome. I know my brother always says that I seem to spend far too much time behind the camera that in front of it, but honestly, I wouldn't have had such a giggle for the last 2 hours if I hadn't taken so many photos.

Hoorah for photos! :)