Wednesday, 31 July 2013

My Postcards, Down Under

I don't think it's a secret that I love post. I love it so much that I make my own and send them places. Here's a photo of my most recent creation, that I was making the other day:

More robo-post! Where will this one go?

I recently sent a robo-postcard to Pop-Up Adventure Play's Australian friends An Everyday Story. I thought it would take ages to get there, but only after 10 days, I received the most amazing photo:

212/365 - Zan revels in the awesomeness of post, and the joy of children.
The caption that goes with this photo is: 
"Elliarna was trying to read the card, but Anneliese kept turning it back over to look at the robots on the front"

I'm so happy that a) my postcard got to Australia (which is a very long way), b) that the recipients enjoyed the postcard (robots are sometimes hit and miss) and c) that I got to hear about the joy of children :) I don't think I've ever sent anything to a country quite so far away, and I'm super excited that my homemade postcards actually hold together! Hoorah! I think there are going to be loads of them now! Hahaha! :)

Hoorah for post, and hoorah for the peeps down under! :)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Flower, Flower

Today was full of tidying, donating and scrapping. When I finally got time to sit down, my brain was awash with baking scenarios and projects. But I just couldn't concentrate or sit still, so aside from making the mess in the house look normal again, I haven't been very productive.

I did go into the garden briefly though, for some fresh air.

207/365 - Zan says hello to the flowers in the garden.

Now that the busyness is over, I've got to catch up with everything I haven't been doing. But I might have to wait a little first. Maybe a night of sleep will fix that. Off to wind down. Or run around the block. Or both. :)

Monday, 29 July 2013

A Cuppa Tea, A Piece of Cake and A Storm

As the clouds gathered ominously above me today, ventured into Manchester to meet my friend Ricky. We were meeting to celebrate happy things, and we would do it the good old English way: with a cuppa tea and a piece of cake. And the weather wanted to play too, and delivered an almighty storm the strength of which has flooded my workplace. Ha! Ah well. Anyway, here are the pics from my day:

We went to Home Sweet Home, a quaint little cafe themed around the US but with great UK tea standards :)

They had 4 versions of Eggs Benedict-eque dishes. I went for Eggs Florentine. They were delicious.

I liked Home Sweet Home, but it didn't have nearly enough cake choice as the place me and Ricky went to last time, so we got our umbrellas and nipped across the road to indulge in our sweet tooth at Teacup:

I got me a rainbow cake. I've been thinking about it ever since I saw it last time.

We had a go on the Etch-a-Sketch too. Ricky drew a house.

206/365 - Zan rejoices over cheerful cake :)

Even the crumbs are cheerful!

We also visited a Bug Hotel. It was sooo cool, just tucked away between the road and a nearby carpark. And yaay, children helped! :)

Before we knew it, our adventure was over. Responsibilies and meetings crept back into our lives, and the rains came. I had a really happy day though, despite the weather. I hung out with my brother and sister-in-law at home, and had more good food. My brother fixed my computer, and then we went to get frozen yoghurt. I really did have a lovely day today, and it was a lovely way to end a period of super super busyness! Hoorah for tea, cake and friends and family! :) Yay! :)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Pikmin Pikmin Pikmin

Today at work, I was thrilled to receive a marvelous gift. It's a piece of promotional merchandise for one of my favourite computer games ever, and it's awesome!

205/365 - Zan spends a day as a Pikmin.
The hat is currently being modeled by our watermelon.

I'm really quite tired from the wedding yesterday, and also spending a rather hectic day at work, so I'm going to sign off now. More tomorrow :)

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Zan's Wedding Craziness 2013: Wedding the Forth

Today I had the pleasure of being the photographer for my brother's best mates, Ian and Anna. Any friend of my brother is a friend of mine! :) Here are some of my favourite moments, which may not feature in the final cut:

205/365 - Zan plays photographer at another summer wedding :)

Hello Clem - weird how I can only see my own siblings during weddings.

Hog roast - oh my word, hilarious decorations! And delicious food! :)

Unfocused sibling photo! Hello Clem and Fiona! :)

Really cool first dance shot. Yay for Anna and Ian! :)

Here's the happy couple! :) Enjoying a laugh with some crazy singing.

I'm very very tired, but it was a very good day. The food was amazing, the venue was amazing, and the defining feature of this wedding? A tent, in a hall. Yes. Amazing stuff. I met some lovely people too. And a man in a top hat! Haha! :) My biggest congratulations to Anna and Ian, and I shall see you very soon! :) And so concludes wedding number 4 of 6. Two more to go! :) Hoorah! :)

Friday, 26 July 2013

Slightly Older Little Zan

It's my birthday today, so no Freebie Fridays, just an exclamation of my leveling up! I'm Level 29 now! :) Hoorah! Many experience points and health points. That, of course, is a geek way of saying that I'm older and wiser now. Haha. Anyway, here are some photos of my day:

My dad bought me root beer. Best birthday ever!

I made quiches to take to the park for a picnic.

204/365 - Zan goes to the park for a birthday picnic.

There's mum and dad, and my shadow at the highest point of Heaton Park.

The 'rentals - looking very happy about sitting on the picnic blanket.

Here we all are, getting out the picnic. Lots of yummy food!

A squirrel joined us! Hello Squirrel! :)

Here's birthday cake 3, courtesy of Marks and Spencers. Such wonderful cake.

And here's me. Level 29. :) Happy :)

I had a nice day today, just quiet and pootling around with my parents. I played computer games, and watched CSI, and ate happy foods, and had cake. I saw a squirrel, and had awesome post, and finally solved the mystery of the free play books. It has been a great day, I feel very loved, and I know that the coming year will be a great year. A big thank you to everyone for my birthday wishes. You're all lovely! Hoorah! :)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Celebrating Friends and Family

Some time around my birthday last year, I decided that I was going to spend my birthday this year celebrating the people I care about. So today, I did. I cooked a meal for some of my college friends and my parents - the few people I could get together in Manchester today. Here are some pics:

Here's some Zan-made quiche. It was delicious.

I dug out some potatoes from the garden, for a potato salad. I cut my finger looking for these gems, but it was totally worth it cos they were delicious!

My lovely college friends bought me some alien balloons.

I baked some sun dried tomato bread. Really yummy!

Here's me, making the base for the pizza.
I'm wearing the plastic glove because of my cut finger :(

Here's my pizzas! I think the recipe for the pizza base can now be added to my recipe compilation. :)

203/365 - Zan enjoys an early birthday with friends and family :)
This is the cake that my college friends made for me. It's very cheerful, and was really really yummy! Thank you Lee! :)

And here are all my cards and gifts. I think the owl card is particularly awesome! Yay! Thank you! :)

I'm so thankful for having wonderful people around me. I hope that my meal today shows them a little of how much they mean to me. I hope they enjoyed it :)

Anyway, off to watch some TV, and to look after my food baby! :) Hoorah for food, friends and family! :)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Value of Scrap

When I was little, I used to watch a TV programme called Bitsa. It was brilliant. The entire programme centered around the stuff you could make from the stuff that was around. As I child I was inspired by it, and most than anything in the world, I wanted to have boxes and boxes of stuff to build with. Bit like what you could do with all the loose parts at a Pop-Up Adventure Playground really! Just watching the programme again now reminded me of just how much I love scrap material, and just how much I was floored when I discovered Scrapstores!

Scrapstores are all over the UK. They disguise themselves as resource centers, or art shops, or community bases, or education supply stores, but there is one thing they have in common: scrap. They gather unwanted materials that factories, warehouses and shops would otherwise throw away and sell cheaply along to people who can reploy it for greatness! Those people might be teachers, art students, playworkers, parents... anyone really. And there can be no customer that's more enthusiastic than me! Haha!

I've visited quite a few Scrapstores in my playworking life. I blogged about going to one in Yeovil, and one that's kinda close to me in Salford, but my favourite scrapstore was in Rochdale - where I was a playranger. The last time I tried to visit though, I discovered that it had closed, and I was super sad.


Remember the free fabric I got? Well I put word out there to all the scrapstores to tell them it was available, and it turns out that my favourite scrapstore had moved! They got in touch and they wanted some fabric so I took the opportunity to get a tour! Here are some photos of the new place:

202/365 - Zan rediscovers her wonderful scrap paradise!

Look at the scrap area - it's on the top floor of the building, but oh it brings me so much joy! Hello loose parts! :)

There's string and buttons, and books and paper.

Look at the rolls of film, and paper, and material and foil. Just imagine all the play opportunities we can provide with a some coloured film!

There's the supply section too - here is the craft paper, of every type!

And here's the painting supplies - so many, so much!

And there's a story to tell. This poor scrapstore had to close it's doors in Rochdale in the face of the economic downturn. The owners could have left it to die though. They could have turned their backs on the scrapstore world to go in pursuit of other avenues. Instead they looked at all the things that they learned, and simply started again. Now they're back and to me, they are bigger and stronger. Their funding now comes from many sources, one of which I think is marvellous and pictured here:

This is their permanent crafter's market. They charge a small fee to hire out each space, and help them to sell. I think it's inspired.

I genuinely impressed and happy for M24 Arts. And I'm so excited that the scrapstore is even closer to me. Yes, they have had to disguise themselves as an art store, and no, they don't have the ceiling space and vastness of the old place, but boy have they made a comeback! I'm going to work out some ways that Pop-Up Adventure Play can work with them because their downsizing has meant that they don''t offer as many training packages as before, but that's okay, cos we can help! Hoorah! 

Everyone needs to go down there and visit, and everyone needs to spread the word that despite the schlump in the economy, great things can still grow. What a great model for practice! And the sheer fact that they are doing well tells me that there's value in scrap. And scrap has value in play. Therefore all of this is awesome. It's not all doom and gloom in the play world. Hoorah for M24 Arts, and hoorah for available play resources!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Confirmation of Registration

Today was a big day for me: I had my Confirmation of Registration. Now, this sounds ridiculously poncy and posh, but in reality, it was a meeting with a couple of other experienced researchers and talking to them, on an informal level about how best to improve, alter, or expand your research. But I tell you what? It was intense. We had an hour to talk about my PhD and all the attention was on me. It was uncomfortable, but I think I did okay. I received a lot of good feedback, good constructive criticism, and great suggestions for making my research better and stronger. I was even praised once or twice.

The C of R is something that only Leeds Met seems to do. It's a process that every PhD candidate is required to go through in order to proceed in the course. I think that it should be named something else, but I have a feeling that they're onto something. Being made to present my ideas to people who have no idea about what you do? Probably genius, when I sieve through the bag of nerves.

It was a frightening experience, but I think that I'm coming out of the Confirmation of Registration a little wiser and a little more confident. It was good to hear from people who aren't playworkers that I actually have good ideas, and that I have something worth studying. Yes, there are lots of things I need to think about, alter, and look into, but in reality, I think that the C of R is a good process within the PhD, giving me time to reflect and re-jig my ideas.

And I'm jolly glad that Fraser was there to watch my back. :)

Here is a slightly related but not entirely useful photo from my day:

201/365 - Zan takes a moment to take in the day.

I think I had a good day today. I also had a lovely meal with my friend and fellow playworker Andy, whom I hope will be joining me on my PhD adventure soon.

Anyway, off to let the thoughts roam free in my head. They've been tangled up a in a mess of complication. Time to unwind and restore order. Goodnight! :)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Desktop Robots

Time was of the essence today, so play was slightly compromised. But that doesn't mean there wasn't any. Of course not. I light of recent doodles, I thought I would have a moment of play, making robots! :)

200/365 - Zan makes some loose parts robots on her desk. 
Hello robots!

Today I celebrate 200 days of Zan play in my 365 project. I'm so pleased that I've got so far, and brought so many robots to life. I think I may miss this when it's over!

Today, I also have to admit that I am slightly freaking about tomorrow: my Confirmation of Registration. I'll be honest, I only have a vague idea of what to expect at this PhD meeting. I guess there will be more to tell afterwards. I'm going to swot up and then, erm, turn up. More on that tomorrow.

Anyway, time to wind down and sleep. I think. Hoorah for robots! :)

Sunday, 21 July 2013


I recently spotted a post on Pop-Up's blog friend An Everyday Story which was asking for postcards, so I had a think. I have made so many postcards so maybe I should send one to see if is strong enough to survive the journey to Australia! So I dropped them a line and joined in the fun, and here is a slightly more colourful version of my robo-postcard just before I posted it:

Goodbye colourful robots! Enjoy your adventure to Australia!

As I coloured the robots in, I realised that I'd never sent any post to Australia more, so it was pretty exciting. But of course, as soon as I stuck the stamp on and popped the postcard in the postbox, I instantly missed the robots. Haha. So I drew more! Here they are:

202/365 - Zan draws more robots to keep her company.

I'm so pleased I have more robots, and I'm excited about sending post to Australia. It's such a long way for a piece of robo-paper to go! I hope they make it okay! :) Hoorah for post, and hoorah for robots! :)

Saturday, 20 July 2013

An Early Birthday Surprise :)

My friends Angel, Lisa and Fiona surprised me with a little get-together to celebrate my birthday which is next week. Angel's going to Hong Kong for the Chinese portion of her wedding, so she won't be around to meet up next week, so they decided to make it early. It was really nice of them to think of me, and it was great to have a quiet one, relaxing and eating.

They took me to see Monster's University, then we hung out at Angel's place and had food. Here are the pics:

Here's me, clutching my ice cream and ticket just before the show starts. Very excited!

Here is the delicious paella that Angel made me. It's the first time she's ever cooked for me, and I feel very privileged!

Here's my birthday cake slices. Which to pick, which to pick?

198/365 - Zan enjoys an early birthday with lovely friends.

It really was lovely to have a little catch up with my girly friends. I honestly hadn't thought to do anything for my birthday, so I was mostly surprised because they remembered me. I was also just as pleased that they know that the highlight of any occasion is the cake, so they went to get me some cake especially. What wonderful friends, and what a lovely evening. Yay, happy! Thank you ladies! :) And hoorah for little surprises! :)

Friday, 19 July 2013

Freebie Fridays - stationary and yoghurt

It's time for the weekly examination of my freebie acquisitions! This week I have been surprised by the post a couple of times, and I also went out to go get some too. I've left it this late to show you all my freebie cos I left one of them in the fridge at work yesterday! But here they all are:

197/365 - Zan shows off her freebies.
We have:
a magnetic notepad
a pink highlighter pen
and an peach yoghurt

I've been inspecting the coca cola site realised that I could get me a freebie, so I went out to get my free beverage on Monday...

Here's my coke. I was a little disappointed that it was so small, and that they opened it for me :( I wanted to save it for my weekly photo. Nevermind, it was nice all the same.

I'm going to visit Gorton Tesco on 6th August to get my free personalised coke bottle. I'm very excited - it may be the first time ever that I'll have my name (spelt correctly) on any mass market product! Hoorah! Maybe I'll see some of you there, especially those of you who have unusual names! 

Anyway, those are my freebies, here is my showcase, and this is me: out! :)