Sunday, 30 September 2012

Happy Moon Day :)

In the Chinese world, today is the Mid-Autumn Festival. It's a day of moon cakes and steamed sticky rice, lanterns and family.

And of course it's celebrating the day in the lunar calendar the when the moon is at it's brightest, biggest and roundest. So here's my moon:

Okay, so I didn't have the right equipment for zooming in for a big moon shot, but it's definitely bright!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to all of my family and lots of my friends. I'll have to eat my moon cake next year :)

Friday, 28 September 2012

Freebie Fridays - perfume, hair stuff, foundation and drugs!

I laughed at the post this morning when I got 7 free samples in it. All that were very similar. I knew that it would make today's Freebie Fridays post a lot more interesting though! Haha. Brace yourself for the pic:

Alrighty, this week we have:
7 samples of different fragrances of perfume, all from the same company! Woohoo!
2 sachets of hair care product (a shampoo and a conditioner of course!)
2 swatches of foundation, which I thought was pretty stingy compared to the UK equivalent samples I got.
and 2 heatburn pills. Yes, in the US, you can get free pill samples.

This week's freebies would have looked boring had I not got all those perfume samples this morning. That's why my Friday blogpost is always in the afternoon, so I can wait for the post to arrive. Of course, then I start worrying all over again whether I'll have enough freebies for next week's post....! Hahaha. Stay tuned I guess! Hoorah for Freebie Fridays!

My Stick Men World

I looked at my sketchbook today. It looked lonely. I've not done anything in it for a while so I thought I'd break out the pencil crayons and trusty muji pen and do something fun. Here it is!

Say hello to my stick men. They don't have faces - I've never drawn any with any expression at all. They might look familiar to a uni project I once did... :)

I like drawing stick men. I always draw them in this crazy world where there are distorted sizes and hilarious scenarios. It makes me happy :)

I've reached the middle of my sketchbook! Hoorah! Only half a book to go! :)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Wellies are for Puddles

On my trip to the Anarchy Zone a few days ago, I was able to share many playful moments with the children who turned up for the day. There was one in particular that was a little more wonderful.

The little boy in the yellow wellies was quiet, but he wasn't shy. No. He was thinking. He was thinking about the next thing he needed to do. He did some digging, and some throwing. He ran around a little bit and got involved with some of the more boisterous activities the older boys were doing. A Dad and his daughter were having a wander, talking and thinking, connecting their minds for a moment on a walk around a huge puddle next to the rainy play site. He ran towards them and for the next 15 minutes, the slushing of the yellow wellies were the only thing you could hear.

It got me thinking. I remember whenever I had wellies on when I was little, the only thing I wanted to do was find a good puddle. And this little boy found a good puddle. And he was in the company of a load of adults who were happy for him to explore it. 

Hoorah for playful moments, and hoorah for wellies and puddles! :)

A Few Curiosities

Here are a few things that I have seen that have made me smile :)

For the Zelda fans out there - I found Link! In a car park somewhere :)

Here is a car that is locked by a number code!

Very oddly, I also found a British phone box! Hoorah! :)

Play, defined as organised sports. Sigh.

Crop circle? Sandy cyclone? Does anyone know what it is? Open for guesses!

And Autumnal trees. This one was particularly pretty. :)

So many things to see, so much to photograph. I'm having fun and enjoying the US. Hoorah! :)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Zan's Trip to Ithaca: Part 2

After wandering around the Farmer's Market in Ithaca, I met up with Rusty and Alex who took me up to the Anarchy Zone for an afternoon of play. The Anarchy Zone is a patch of land next to the Ithaca Children's Garden, a community garden. Rusty has worked hard to transform this land into a place for children to take ownership of, and to freely play. I was super excited to see this new Adventure Playground, especially in the US because there aren't many around! Here are the pics:

Hoorah! I am here!

I arrived to find a den/fort already, next to the picnic table.

This is the first time that I've seen burdock! Inspiration for velcro!

This photo was taken just before I was stung twice by bees. Sigh. Apparently, I'm that person.

Here is wider image of the playground. There is the pile of soil from International Mud day on the left, and a pile of wood chip on the right. Behind me, is the Anarchy Zone hut.

Here's one of the first children that came to the site. Tree climbing time! :)

Such variety of loose parts!

Time to do some digging.

That's Rusty up in that tree.

I decided to watch the children play from above.

More children and more tree climbing - this was a fantastic tree with it's very own camo design.

Rusty here, discussing tyre rolling technique with a nervous participant after just rolling around in a circle on his own. Video to follow!

Hanging out in the tyre and discussing possible movement.

It had rained for the most of the morning and quite happily a fantastic puddle had formed next to the Anarchy Zone which attracted a lot of attention.

Alex and her little friend, digging in the woodchip pile.

Taking a leap from the tree. He was awesome.

Multiple den building.

In the foreground here, this isn't a den or a fort. This is a hotel. Oh yes.

Shortly after we helped the children re-build their hotel to accommodate two residents, the children all ran away. We thought we might have accidentally adulterated the children's play and scared them all away. Thankfully the children came back, and not only took control of it again, they also made it even higher. Haha.

The session ended with a very full-on but really happy hay fight.

The Anarchy Zone is awesome. I am in awe of Rusty, setting up an adventure playground in a world where freely chosen playful adventure for children isn't always met with approval. Rusty has done a fantastic job, along with Alex and Ellie who help out on the site. They have really embraced the site and taken on the playworker role with much enthusiasm! It's still early days for the Anarchy Zone: Rusty and his team are still finding their feet and learning what's best for their community of children and their adults. Ithaca is a great place to start up a project like this, and Rusty is completely surrounded by supportive people and organisations with open minds. I'm totally impressed with how well they have done, and want to spread the word that good playwork practice is happening in the US. It is possible, it is permanent, and it is wonderful. And kinda different to the adventure playgrounds I visited in the UK.

A huge thank you to Rusty for showing me around, Alex for letting me sleep on her sofa, and hoorah for the Anarchy Zone! :)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Zan's Trip to Ithaca: Part 1

While I was in the States, I thought I'd take the opportunity to go to Ithaca, NY to visit some lovely people that have started a wonderful play-based project! I took my camera, as I do, and well, let's just say the photos got so out of hand that I probably should leave the play photos til tomorrow. So today, I'm going to write about the first half of my trip to Ithaca which involves the idyllic setting of Ithaca's very own, just-on-the-lake, pavillion based Farmer's Market.

This is me, reading on the way to Ithaca. A book about cupcakes, by the same lady that wrote the book about sweet shops :)

I walked through heavy rain to the market and was really grateful that it was under shelter and nice and cosy, complete with fairy lights!

The market stalls were well built and colourful, manned by friendly market traders.

There were sooo many curiosities and fun things to look at!

So much fruit and veg! :)

It stopped raining outside so I went to the water side to take a photo :)

A lady was wandering around with a selection of the most delightful looking balloons that she was giving out to toddlers in promotion of a baby store.

I had soba noodles and tempura vegetables for lunch :) It was lovely that they gave me the food in a real bowl and unquestioningly provided me with chopsticks!

And then the sun shone through and everything was instantly even more awesome.

The ferry tours that ran next to the Farmers Market looked really popular - how often do you have markets which have their own lake tour?:)

I liked the look of this organic clothing store - I spent a lot of time here looking at the designs and colours!

A friendy farmer gave me a peacock feather and told me his friend has a pet peacock and lets him have all the feathers - all of the beauty without any of the noise! Haha. He was a funny one :) I gave my feather to a little girl that was fascinated with the colours and asked me what it was. She was sooo happy when I offered it to her.

Here's a thoughtful man on the little jetty.

And, ladies and gentlemen, this is JJ. He really likes hummus, and in this photo is eyeing up corduroy as his next chew thing.

I really enjoyed spending time at the Ithaca Farmer's Market. It was fully of colour and thick with conversation and community. Everyone seemed to know eachother, and even when they didn't, they took the time to smile and nod. It was a wonderful atmosphere, it smelled delicious everywhere, and it was really well thought out too. I think I'd totally go back again and get a ferry tour! Oh, and hoorah for JJ who is awesome. No I didn't steal a baby from someone - JJ belongs to the people in tomorrow's post. But for today, hoorah for Ithaca's Farmers Market! :)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Freebie Fridays - a fun variety!

I'm amused at this week's freebie selection because it's so varied! I also don't remember where/how I got one of my freebies, they just arrived in an envelope with no explanation! Haha. Here's the pic:

Here's the breakdown:
a guide to cheese types
a customised greeting card
2 dishwasher tablets
2 sachets of instant coffee-based drinks
and a mysterious pair of earrings!

So yeah, no idea how I got a free pair of earrings, but I'm not complaining. When it arrived in the post I just giggled lots! Haha! Also this week, I got something else free:

Free Queso! Which is cheese in Spanish! Wooo!

I'm very pleased with my freebies this week.Check out the Freebie Fridays page for everything I've had! Roll on next week for more and more and more! :) Hoorah! :)

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Happy Z Loaf :)

I baked my first loaf using US ingredients it worked out really really well! Hoorah! :)

Look at it! So awesome! The crust was crunchy, the inside was soft and moist, and it smelled SO delicious! SO GOOD!

Baking here has been a bit of trial and error. I guess it's different when it's not your own kitchen, and not your own tools, and also not as easy when the ingredients are named differently. Or just different full stop. The biggest problem I've had is with butter - "European" butter is just so much better than the US "sweet cream" butter. But it's not as cheap. I really didn't realise. You can get a block of Stork in the UK for like 70p. For the same type of butter in the US, it's $3.99 or for the sweet cream version, it's like $1.99. 

Anyway - it's a fun adventure trying to work out the world of US baking, but I'm super happy happy. Hoorah! :) My bread worked! Woooooo! :) Hoorah for baking! :)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Three Things

I'm super excited for 3 very excellent reasons. Ready?

First thing: I'm going on an adventure to Ithaca to visit Rusty Keeler and the Anarchy Zone. It's an adventure playground in the US that has only been open for a few months. I'm very excited to see it, and see how different it is compared to the Wrexham Adventure Playgrounds and share my thoughts with all my playworker friends. So excited!

Image courtesy of Rusty :)

Second thing: The Keep Calm and Play On tour promotional stuff is going really well. It's such a wonderful challenge, and Marc Armitage is really good fun to work with. I've had emails from lots of lovely people and had a lot of fun making promotional materials with Marc's face on.

Final thing: Pop-Up Adventure Play UK are now officially a charity! Oh yes! It's taken months and months of paperwork and phone calls and more paperwork and then some more, but we've officially received our charity number and I'm SO excited!! What do we do with it now? Wait and see! :)

I'm sooo very excited about everything, especially with the charitable status stuff. And I'm going on an adventure. And I've got an exciting challenge in the form of Marc's tour. I love being a playworker, I love my job and I love Pop-Up Adventure Play! It doesn't get better than this :) HOORAH FOR EVERYTHING! :)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Candy Floss on Legs

I have been so taken by the multi-coloured chickens that I thought I'd post up a video of their awesomeness. Enjoy! :)

Hoorah for multi-coloured candy floss on legs! :)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Many Characters of Pumpkin Adoption

I went to a farm today to adopt my first ever pumpkin. When I mean adopt, I just mean buy from a pumpkin farm, but you know, adopt sounds more personal. Especially because I was planning on naming it and giving it a personality. I was so excited about having a huge variety of  pumpkins in one place for me to select, but I really wasn't expecting to find...

Giant bees in purple flowers

Multi-coloured chickens. That's right, you heard me.

Little deer.

A silly chubby sheep.

A very white llama.

A sad looking donkey.

Huge teepees!

And some free range weird-looking birds!

I was sooooo excited about all of the fun animals on the farm that I almost forgot about the pumpkin adoption that I was there for! So I got serious, put my camera away, and started wandering through the pumpkin world.

Okay one more photo.

After lots of consideration, umming and ahhing, and the picking up and putting down of pumpkins, I finally selected the pumpkin which I would be making it's new home with me.

Everyone, meet Phil. Isn't he awesome? :)

I can't wait until I decorate Phil. Give him some eyes and a fun smile. For now, he's just sitting on the counter, being orange and awesome. Hoorah for Phil!

And I know everyone out there is dying for another photo of the most curious creature I saw today, so here's another shot of them:


I had SO much fun today! When I took Patrick home last year, it wasn't nearly as fun. Woooo! Hoorah for pumpkins, hoorah for phil and hoorah for multi-coloured chickens!