Friday, 31 May 2013

Freebie Fridays - teabags, coffee and paint

My apologies for skipping last week's showing off of my weekly freebies - I was in London doing crazy London things. This week's free stuff isn't a massive hoard, but I'm happy:

148/365 - Zan enjoys her freebies.
We have:
2 herbal teabags
2 tubes of paint
1 sachet of caramel coffee.

I actually got some particularly cool free things for what I hope will be the next street party on my road. This all goes down to whether I can convince my neighbours to have another street party this year, but we'll see. And then I'll show you my freebies :) Hoorah! :)

Don't forget to visit the Freebie Fridays showcase! :) Hoorah for freebies! :)

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Making Post

To relax myself recently, I've been creating post to send. I like drawing, but sometimes my little paper creations just get added to the other stuff on my desk and then get lost. Making my own post means I get to share my stuff as well as make my post all fun and interesting. The drawings have a use now, and they won't be forgotten! :)

150/365 - Zan makes her own writing stationary.
This one is to celebrate a wedding that's far far away. Wedding number 7 that I can't get to, so I thought I'd send a little something :) More about the wedding craziness here.

Here's a little card for my friends who have just got a new home. Hoorah!

And this one is to reserve my place at a wedding - I think it should be wedding number 4? I might have lost count.

I haven't sent any of the postcards I made the other week yet. I'm not sure whether they will last the journey through the postal system - they might fall apart and then I'd be sad. But maybe I'll pluck up the courage to try it soon. Maybe I'll gift it to someone who can send them on my behalf! :)

Anyway, I'm going to watch some fun TV and ready myself for a day of productivity tomorrow! Rawrawrawr! :)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Favourite Moments from Today

I did another fantastical Pop-Up Adventure Family Play Day today at the Co-operative Academy of Manchester and had a great day of play. There were some brilliant moments, but these were my personal favourites:

146/365 - Zan gets a warm hug from a tiny twin, who pokes her camera with a tube.

This tiny twin is taken under the wing of blue shirt kid - "He can come in because he is small" - then they crawled in together.

This little boy was completely unsure about his surroundings, but soon found his way around and started to get comfortable with the environment, and with the playworkers :)

Another moment, which I couldn't take a photo of, involved our bank manager. He came to help out today as a volunteer and was a playworker for a day. He had to set aside his managerial instincts and allow the children to take the lead. The image I wish I'd captured the image of him looking all the way down at one of the tiny twins who was looking right up at him. He's 6 ft 4. It was a wonderful image.

It was a great day today - lots of wonderful people, and lots of great play. Hoorah hoorah! Now, I think maybe a nap! :)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Cake Play

I was invited back to the Co-operative Academy of Manchester to do another Pop-Up Adventure Family Play Day today. It was mostly relaxing for the first half of the day. It might have been because it was raining, or perhaps because there were greater adventures elsewhere, but nobody came to my Pop-Up today. It made me a little bit sad.


It seems that the lure of baking isn't as great as the lure for play. The baking class next door to mine was captivating, sure, and the smells were amazing, yes. But after about an hour, some little heads peeped their heads around the corner to see what I was up to. And then I heard a little voice

"Where are all the other kids?"
I looked up. "They didn't come".
She looked at me briefly. And then we both lipped.

Soon after that, more little tiny bakers popped round the corner and then all of a sudden I had me a Pop-Up Adventure Playground. There was a spaceship going to Spain, and there was a house with a fence. There was also a floatation device, and home made wallpaper. More photos can be found the Pop-Up facebook page, apart from this one:

145/365 - Zan eats cake with a triceratops in a spaceship to Spain.
I type that sentence with utmost sincerity.

The day took a little bit to get going, but it finished off great. And I learned something new: no matter how wonderful cake is, the appeal of play will be greater, and even though I don't get to eat any real cake, there's still opportunity for cake play. :) Cake is awesome, but play is awesomer. It doesn't really get better than that for me :) Hoorah for a great day of play! :)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Tea and Cake, Friends and Family

My friend Ricky, that I met down in London a few weeks back, came up with Manchester to do the 10k (please sponsor him if you haven't done already!) so we took the chance to go have a giggle and a brew. We ended up having tea and cake at the Northern Quarter's Teacup and discovered that amongst the wonderful tea selection and scrummy looking baked goods, they also sold rainbow cake. Oh yes.

144/365 - Zan marvels over rainbow cake that is available for every day consumption! Nom nom nom!

Here's Ricky with his fish finger wrap. Oh yes, I'm not kidding - fish finger wrap!

This was the timer I got with my tea. I poured it at exactly 4 minutes and then realised my other half cup of tea would be super brewed. Ah well! :) Isn't it a wonderful timer? :)

When I got home, it started it raining and became a thoroughly dull looking afternoon. But that didn't stop me, my sister and brother-in-law going out to celebrate my parents' 32nd wedding anniversary! Hoorah for my parents! :)

Look at them, all parenty and happy and stuff! :)

Well, I didn't get much real work done today, but I did get everything ready for a Pop-Up Adventure Playground I'm having tomorrrow! Woohoo! :) Time to rest now - 2 big days ahead :)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Boop Boop

My 4 days in London was rounded off by a service at my sister's church and then a hilarious Disney punctuated car journey home. It's been a crazy few days and I am very very tired, but very happy too :)

143/365 - Zan enjoys good company!
This is Law Law Lee - a girl group that disbanded just as quickly as it formed.

I'm a bit tired so I'm going to leave it at this for now. Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for having me, and hoorah for a marvelous weekend! :)

Angel's Hen Do :)

Today we celebrated my friend Angel's up and coming wedding with a Hen Party! We all trooped down to London to see Matilda, the musical, and have some truly great food. Here are few moments that made me particularly happy:

142/365 - Zan enjoys the sunshine!

Here's me and Chris, near some roast duck and a giant orange squid.

The set looked amazing. I was immediately drawn in.

Here we all are, all 8 of us all blinged up (kinda) during Matilda.

There were blackboards everywhere, and you could write on them. Here's one I decorated for Angel :)

Yay, here's me and Angel :)

I really enjoyed my day. The show was amazing - really quite stunning, and the food was delicious. Of course, I had great company all day, and it was nice not to be completely rushed off my feet through super busy London, and truly take some time to enjoy it.

We had a great day out, and I really hope Angel enjoyed it too. Not long until the big day and there's lots to prepare! And we'll do it all together to make it awesome! :) Here we go Angel! :)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Time for the Tube

Today, I had a lot of meetings. And going to meetings in London means you have to take the tube. I have really found the tube stations to be really quite pretty, and have taken a few photos of some of the things that caught my eye on way around:

141/365 - Zan admires London's Tube stations.
I really like this logo - it's a colourful elephant's footprint, signifying the Elephant and Castle tube station.

These steps are so shiney and very pretty, but I don't think the bajillion commuters would notice them on a daily basis.

There was some really cool mosaic work in the tube stations too. This one made me really happy.

I've always wanted to take a photo of the super long escalators in London. Here's one of them - not the longest, but it was a good clear shot that I really liked.

Lots of good thoughts came out of my meetings today. Some really complex thoughts too. So my brain is really full at the moment so I'm going to relax a little then go to bed. Tomorrow, I have a Hen Party to attend, which is going to be awesome. Hoorah! But until then, goodnight! :)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

On the Go

I love going on business trips. And for some reason, I find it enormously satisfying to get emails while I'm on the go. Maybe it's the old fashioned part of me that still finds it astonishing that I can keep in contact with people on a phone that has no wires. Maybe. It makes me really happy anyway, that I don't leave things unattended just because I'm away from my "office".

Anyway, I'm off around the country again. It's less of an adventure and more of a business trip, but it's still exciting for me. :) Today I hit Leeds and London, and I got a little perplexed with time and space. It seems as though I spent quite a lot of my day in train stations today. Luckily, they're pretty nice places to be in. I was a little in awe when I got into London at Kings Cross Station today:

141/365 - Zan does some fun station hopping.
When I saw this, I wondered why noone was looking upwards at the cool blue ceiling, but then I realised that everyone was staring at the departure board with an angry expression on their face. I guess if you see it every day, it's not special anymore.

So I had a meeting in Leeds with people from East Street Arts, and then I met my lovely supervisors at uni before I pootled down to London. Tomorrow I have 4 meetings, which is very exciting, and I hope I don't get lost! More soon! :)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sunshine and Flowers

I took some time out to do my things today. I have a busy week ahead of me and I needed some time to myself before the crazy begins.

I went to a little exhibition, and saw some cool flowers:

141/365 - Zan admires a fun exhibition with paper and flowers.

Here is a Space Invader, all tiled up and cool on a wall in Manchester. I was obsessed with these at one point. Yay for geeky graffiti! :)

And here's me, in the wind, enjoying the dusk light. Look at that sky!

I've lots to prepare for tomorrow cos I'm off and away to Leeds then to London! Hoorah! Hopefully it will be well documented and happy. I just hope it doesn't rain. Woohoo! Adventure time! :)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Three Happies

Today, I had three happy moments. These happy moments make my crazy days a little less stressful, and give me a very brief moment to just be.

140/365 - Zan has a happy moment.
Here's me, enjoying a gimmer of warm sun.

This is the discovery of "Mega Spider" a huge gummy spider that I really wanted to try.

And here's me, with my new friend - hello Pikachu! :)

I've marched around the house with Pikachu now doing "Pika pika!", and both my parents have looked upon me with mild puzzlement mixed with great amusement. He's watching TV with them now. I'm totally going to keep him forever. I'm so happy! :)

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Just the little things :) Hoorah! :)

Monday, 20 May 2013

My Food Baby

I went to another buffet today, and now I'm looking after my food baby. It's causing me moderate amounts of pain and discomfort, and I don't think I'll eat again for another week. Here are some photos:

139/365 - Zan eats far too much food, and both loves and hates herself for doing it.

Look, unlimited sushi!

And look, unlimited cake!

After around 4 platefuls, I feel fat now but I reckon that that's okay. I'm happy to indulge in good food with good company. I had a lovely meal today and hope to have more soon! :)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Writing Has Begun

Last year, when I was writing my dissertation for my BA in Playwork, I baked a lot. It seems to be some form of therapy for me, and deeply saddened my Dad who wasn't allowed to eat any of it. I can tell that the writing had begun again, because I just want to bake constantly. I've started doing more PhD stuff now and guess what happen today? Two types of baked goods:

138/365 - Zan indulges in baking therapy.
These are lovely gooey nom nom nom chocolate brownies. :)

And these a  delicious buttery shortbread bites.

I only made a little of both items today, because they are gifts for some lovely people I'm meeting tomorrow. I found those little foil trays that are perfect to transport the brownies to someone as a gift, the presentation of which I have been pondering for some time. They'll work perfectly for mobile brownies. The shortbread's easy, I've packaged that before. :)

Anyway, hoorah for baking therapy, and hoorah for delicious sweet treats :)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Pear Upside Down Cake

My evening is being taken up with the annual sing/performance/crazy contest, the Eurovision Song Contest. I still find it hilarious every year when I countries across Europe come together to compete for the best musical act watched by bajillions of people across the world. I think I mostly like the fact that it's all very serious, but taken very tongue-in-cheek. This year's contest features a dude that sang like a lady, a man in a box, a dress that climaxes with the song, and, well, a really odd performance from the hostess of the show.

And what better way to celebrate Eurovision than to bake! I tried something new today and it turned out delicious:

137/365 - Zan makes a very understated but super yummy Pear Upside Down Cake.

This cake looked a bit sad, and looked a bit like it had gone incredibly wrong. But it wasn't wrong, and it wasn't sad, it was delicious! Oh my! Eurovision cake was goooood! So happy!

And as I type, Denmark has been declared the winner. I think my cake wins a little more though :) Hoorah for music and cake! :)

Friday, 17 May 2013

Freebie Fridays - seeds, creams and a piece of kitchen work top

It's time for my weekly roundup of freebies! I receive them, collect them together over 7 days, then post a photo up here to show you my acquisitions.

There wasn't much in the way of freebies this week. I have to admit that I was far too excited by the actual post I got than the freebies I engineered to send myself. But I still got a few, and oh - I remembered an unusual free item I got a few weeks back:

136/365 - Zan smiles upon a few little freebies.
We have: 
1 packet of flower seeds
one sachet of skin conditioner
one thingy of moisturiser
and (the usual thing) a piece of kitchen work top. It's black with purple flecks - very pretty!

The freebies are building up again, so if there should be another week where I receive nothing at all, I will endeavour to have another freebie giveaway! It's all very exciting - and might be soon! :) Have a poke around the Freebie Showcase to see what you might be getting, and I shall pootle off and see if I can get any more before then! :) Hoorah for freebies! :)

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Wonderfulness of Post

When I was in high school, I wrote letters to my friends. These were friends I basically saw every day at school, but we came to realise that sometimes in huge groups of people, there were things you wanted to say to one another that you simply couldn't in front of others - and there wasn't much chance to get people on their own. We could use the phone of course, and call them when we got home to have that quality one-to-one time, but that phone belonged to everyone else in the house too, and when I was around 15, that one phone line was in great competition with dial up internet too.

So with options limited, I used to write letters.

Writing takes on a whole new quality of language, emphasis and thought. Unlike typing, you simply can't delete. Each word is carefully considered (or obliterated if incorrect), and somehow, they're more truthful, more real. And more awesome. It takes time to write a page of words. And it takes thought to make those words wonderful.

After I left school, I still wrote letters to people. I wrote to my friend Nancy the most for a long time, but I also started writing to new friends that I met in college. My good ol' PMs also delighted in the written word as much as I did, and as a result I used to get so many letters. So many. And when we weren't together in college and couldn't pass on these notes of sentiment, we posted them. That's where my love affair with the post began. I love post. And all my friends know it too. Everytime they jetted off to their next destination I would always simply ask for a postcard as my gift.

My friends have had adventures that have taken them everywhere: globe-trotting, city-hopping, hall-swapping. When I looked back on my box(es) of post a few weeks back, I had letters from Hungary, Malaysia, Dresden, Italy. I have postcards from Singapore, China, America and Canada, as well as the standard-but-equally-as-awesome postal notes from Bury, Lancaster, Devon, London, Durham, Bangor and Bristol. Looking at these bits of paper, filled with scribbles, thoughts, ideas and adventures, I can't help but feel loved. These people have taken a moment out of their busy lives to write to me. These little moments really mean the world to me.

This week, I got two more little moments. One of them was from a regular poster, my college friend Ric (who really has a way with words, you should check out his blog) and the other one was completely unexpected and is from my friend Frank that I introduced to you all a few weeks back.

135/365 - Zan reflects on the wonderfulness of friends that post.
(It amused me for a minute that I was taking a photo of a photo)

Ric sent me a lovely photo of me, Shazia, Lee and himself from the curry we had when the PMs last were in town together. I frequently brim over with appreciation for my college friends - over 10 years now and we're still hanging out together whenever we can. These are people that I love and respect, and are genuinely awesome people.

I'm so chuffed at the moment, and feel quite loved. Great friends are hard to come by, and great friends that post is even harder. I hope you have a few of them in your lives :) Hoorah for friends, and hoorah for post! :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

To Sing and Dance

The weather was terrible all day today. And all last night in fact. But then unexpectedly the weather broke and gave us a beautiful evening.

I decided that I had to go out and have a walk in the dusk light. That took me to the huge park near my house where I was all on my own with my favourite music on the ol' mp3 player. I started singing, quietly to begin with because I was convinced there'd be people around, but then I realised that there really wasn't anyone there so I started properly singing. As my confidence soared, the joy within me spilled out. And quite happily my feet started catching up with the singing. So I danced.

134/365 - Zan sings and dances at the park.

When I got home, my heart was light and my spirits were lifted. There really is such joy in a moment to yourself, doing things you enjoy without anyone around you judging you or watching you. You do it how you want, and for your own reasons only. It's play I reckon, and I feel like I'm totally ready to face another day of challenging grown up stuff again. Hoorah! :)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Umbrella Time

The weather has been grim. It was glorious and shiney last week, and now we're back to dreary British wintertime. Bah. I won't let that get all that grey in the way though. I'll add colour in my own way! Today, I've cheered myself up with a stream of colourful doodles:

134/365 - Zan doodles up some umbrollied stickmen.

I feel like this time to myself was well earned today. I totally spent some quality time with the PhD today, and also went to work. I also think I've finished my brother and sister-in-law's wedding book (at long last) but I'm going to sleep on it before I send them off to get printed. By and by I think it's been a productive day, and I hope to have another tomorrow! Hoorah! :)

Monday, 13 May 2013


It's been a busy today today. Full of very little but very necessary things. I had a moment to go outside in the very random weather we had today and took a photo of some little purple flowers.

132/365 - Zan admires the purple flowers.

The rest of the week's looking a little hectic. I'm pretending to a PhD student so that might not be very photogenic. Haha. Maybe tomorrow my post will be a little less one dimensional. And more colourful. :)

Sunday, 12 May 2013


I play the piano. I tend to keep it quiet because I'm not very dedicated to it. But it was a huge part of my life for about 12 years from when I was about 5 years old. But then uni kicked in, and who has time for all-consuming (and forced) hobbies of piano playing when you're at uni? Especially when I was at uni for around 40 hours a week, not including travel! I simply didn't have time any more.

Every-so-often though, I do get an itch to play. I'd sit for an hour or so and bash out a few familiar tunes and mess about with ideas that fester quietly at the back of my mind, inspired by the radio.

Today was one of those days.

131/365 - Zan plays piano :)

I fell in love with Joe Hisaishi and Studio Ghibli's music all over again today. Mysterious and haunting, but absolutely beautiful - that's what the music's like.

It was nice and relaxing to have a moment on the piano again. It reminded me of the hours I put into it in the past, but also made me realise how much more I appreciate the skills I have right now, compared to when I was a teenager. I wish I had more time to re-develop the finger dexterity I once had. The longer I don't play, the more squishy my fingers are becoming, which is sad cos I don't want my fingers to go squishy. It was good to play again though. Back when I was at the height of my piano playing at around 18 years old, I remember thinking how the piano was like an extension of my fingers. I didn't need to look at the keys to get the notes I needed, a bit like typing, and the effect was quite magical when everything fell into place. I had a moment of peace and complete contentment.

Hoorah for pianos, and hoorah for a moment of musical play.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Princess Cakes

Recently, I explained my love of the colour purple and the dislike of the colour pink. So you can probably imagine the complex emotions I experienced when my lovely friend Ash announced that she wanted Princess Cakes for her leaving present. I didn't get round to telling her, but I actually spent about half an hour in the supermarket fighting the internal battle of how best to transform the basic fairy cake into princess cakes without compromising my pink-hating integrity.

How much pink do I want to purchase? 

I finally decided to try out some shimmery crystals. They looked pretty cool, and I gazed at the purple version for quite some time before putting the pink one in my basket. But it has happened, and now I own half a tub of pink shimmery edible crystals. The other half gave my cakes their princess-ness:

There they are! Vanilla cakes with a hint of lemon with lemon fresh icing.
Ash was really pleased with them. :) Yay! :)

130/365 - Zan accidently makes an optical illusion of her princess cakes.

I'm going to miss Ash. I'm so proud of her taking a step into a new environment and learning new things: progressing! I'm so happy for her! A couple of Christmasses ago, we started the same seasonal sales assistant job together, and despite irregular shifts, we always maintained some form of contact. This could be mainly down to being the only girls in a predominantly male workplace, or it could just be because I like hanging out with her. We have lots of fun together. 

I'm a little bit sad though. It might be that her leaving work reminds me of how little progress I've made. I'm still here. Okay, I've started a charity and a PhD, but I really can't help but feel a little, I dunno, sad? Jealous? Envious? I want to be working full time for money too. Sigh. Soon.

I got three hugs for Ash today. Three hugs. That, I tell you, is as monumental as me making pink cakes. And it's made up for it too. :)

Best of wishes to you Ash - we'll have to make sure we meet up so you can get an occasional cake boost :) 

Hoorah for Ash, and hoorah for cake, despite it's colour! :)

Friday, 10 May 2013

Freebie Fridays - t-shirt, tea, creams and food

In case you were worried that I'd announce that I'd acquired a free car or something this week, you have nothing to worry about. Last week's chair is probably the biggest thing I'll be able to get for a while, I reckon. This week's freebie's aren't as impressive, or big, but they are still pretty cool, and useful too.

129/365 - Zan enjoys some freebie goodness.
We have:
a purple t-shirt (courtesy of my sister)
a thingy of skin perfecting cream
a thingy of face treatment for men
a packet of 2 teabags
a tub of margarine

This week, I also managed to get a freebie that simply couldn't wait so I just enjoyed it there and then -

Free chicken! Yay! :)

So this week, I'm dead chuffed with my freebies. Stuff to eat, stuff to wear, stuff to give to other people! Yay! :) Hoorah for freebies! :) 

(Don't forget to check out my freebie showcase that I've had since I started documenting my freebie conquests! :) ) 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Photo Storm and Fabric Fun

It's windy and rainy outside today, which seems appropriate because I'm in the middle of a wedding photo storm! I had just started sorting out my brother's long delayed wedding photo album when I attended Sairah's wedding last Sunday. So now I'm up to my neck in photos.

No matter though, because I managed to have some Zan-happy fun today anyway, in the form of free in-kind donations to Pop-Up Adventure Play! My friend Dino, who works at Direct Linen, donated a sample of fabric offcuts to us. I think instead of "sample" you should read "super-lots" and instead of "fabric offcuts" you should read "treasure trove"! It was awesome. So much of my day that was supposed to be for doing something else was dedicated solely to the pawing of pretty fabrics. Dino said I could keep some too, so I have my eye on the purple pieces :)

128/365 - Zan marvels at donated items!

I've been putting the word out there to see if anyone in the North West of the UK wants to come down and pick some of this fabric up too. I genuinely only have a sample of what they have to offer. Dino says that they make about a van load of offcuts every week. Every week! Who wants some free fabric?

Hoorah for photos, and hoorah for free things! :)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Zippy Zip Zip

It's funny when you clean out you house how many forgotten things you find. Recent diggings unearthed a bag of zips which I promptly made use of, and now I've also made it into a rainbow:

127/365 - Zan plays with a rainbow of zips.

I love rainbows. I take photos of rainbowed things quite a lot. The most recent was yesterday at my friend Shazia's house, who also shares a love of rainbows with me. I also took another pic for my facebook profile of another type of rainbow, and also one of nature that I'm particularly proud of. It just makes me really happy to have all the colours. If I had to pick one colour, it will always be purple, but if I have to pick a few colours, I will always pick all of them. Apart from pink. I don't like pink. (Sorry)

So yes, hoorah for rainbows! :)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Visit to Shazia's House

We had a bit of a housewarming at Shazia's house today, christening it with home made brownies and board games. Here are just a couple of photos:

126/365 - Zan enjoys the rainbows in Shazia's new place.

This is Shazia, telling me about her house. And also looking like she's holding the TV in her hand.

And this is a photo of Lee, perplexed at a round of Rummikub that we were having to celebrate the newness of the house :) It's a good game! :)

I took it easy today so I could rest up, but I'm shattered again. Glad I got to meet up with Shazia, Lee and Dave though, and hoorah for Shazia, and hoorah for friendships! :)