Monday, 30 June 2014

Baked Goods

When I was doing my BA dissertation, I baked for inspiration. Now that I'm doing my PhD, it seems like history is repeating itself a little. My post at the beginning of the month, showed an array of yummy treats, and that was just 4 weeks ago! PhD-mind-fog-unblocking aside, my parents now have lots of new dietary needs which are much easier to bake for than buy for, so now there is a significant amount of purposeful baking too. Here are some of the recent bakes:

Here is a tomato, ham, broccoli, mushroom and cheese quiche. I didn't agree with all those ingredient choices, but my audience is very specific about many things. Turned out really nice - didn't need the ham.

Here's a plain white loaf made from fresh yeast. Really soft and lovely.

This is an sugar free apple pie. Excellent with some nice sweet ice cream for peeps like me.

This one is a sun-dried tomato and basil white loaf. This one was particularly awesome.

This is a completely wholemeal loaf. Really quite dense and crumbly.

And this is a chicken, celery and mushroom pot pie, with a butter and suet pastry. Today's bake - surprisingly great!

I'm really enjoying the baking, and am learning lots of new techniques, recipes and discovering new favourites! Yay! It's probably a good thing that I'm trying out sugar-free and low-cholesterol recipes now because I would be SO fat. As it is, it's glorious and I'm enjoying the baking, typing, baking, typing. Weeeee! :)

Maybe I should have a monthly baking blogpost. Hmmmm....

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Wandering The Burrs

My parents and I had a wander around the Burrs Country Park today. We took the opportunity to go when the Bury Show was on. Sadly, we didn't bring enough cash for the entrance fee so we took to wandering around the beautiful paths instead, discovering the sculptures and staring out at the lovely stretches of water. Here are some pics:

Here's a man on a tiny little coal powered train that is powerful enough to pull him and passengers along! It's so cool! I cooed a lot!
Here's my mum, taking photos of everything,

Look at how pretty it is!

It's hard to believe that we're right next to the civilisation in this lovely green space!

We found a mummy duck and her little ducklings - we saw three little'uns in total! :)

Mini duck! :)

And here are the rentals, up to mischief.

It was lovely wandering around the Burrs on a nice bright day. I've been here a few times with my college friends before, but it seems more tranquil and lovely now. Even with all the people wandering around because of the show, it was still a lovely wander. Even lovelier still, I was able to follow this adventure up with a "Hag Do" of Damon and Jenny, my soon to be married friends - hoorah! What a lovely day over all! Very tired now though so... time to lay! :)

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Zan's PhD: Growing Pains

I'm finally ready to declare that I'm PhD-ing for realsies. The reality of it is, I've been shying away from my PhD, scared of it entirely and cringing every time someone mentions that I'm working towards a doctorate. But over the past 3 weeks, I've been working hard, typing out the thoughts and things I've read over the past few months. It's taking a long time, and keeps leading to more reading and more typing, but you know what? I'm kind of enjoying it. 

And if you're reading this, Fraser, I haven't done nearly enough work, I'm sorry. But I know what I need to do now, and it's happening!

It's growing gradually, and right now it's at a really ugly phase with things like REFERENCE THIS written halfway through a sentence. I am not worried though, because I've finally found my confidence after many many months of fearing writing. I genuinely believed for a long time that I was not good enough to inject my knowledge into the academic world, but I had to remind myself time and time again that if Fraser thinks I'm good enough, then I must be. Eeeeek!

It's not pretty, but it's happening, and hopefully I will grow something shiney and lovely out of it, even if the process has dragged me backwards through the hedges. 

Something about this flower reminds me of the state I feel right now. It might be the unusual quality of the bloom, or the spikeyness of those little long bits. It's not my favourite: it's not a rose, but it's definitely a flower, and it's definitely blooming! :)

I'm fearful of what happens now, but I'm excited all the same. It's been a year and a bit since I started my PhD but it kinda feels like it's only just started now. And I like it. More to come soon!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My Laptop's First Jumper

I got a brand new little laptop recently. It's fast and awesome, and takes exactly 5 seconds to start up - yay! Since getting it, I haven't been able to find a laptop case for it because it's an odd size so I decided that I was going to make my own! Why not, right? :)

I located a few of my previously knitted square patches, threaded them together on three sides, added a zip and a trim to the forth and hey presto:

My laptop case! Hoorah! :)

I was soooo pleased with my zip insertion, especially onto knitted fabric. It was an experiment that I think went very well, largely down to using the trim as well. Sadly, the zip was a little too small to fit the laptop in sideways, so I have to wiggle my laptop in every time, like putting on a jumper! Good job the knitted part is stretchy! :)

And here's a pic of my hand sewn trim - a nice satin ribbon :)

I think I will attempt this again in a couple of month's time, but for now, I'm really quite chuffed with my new laptop case. It serves it's purpose, I made it myself and it also explored my sewing/zip inserting skills. Hoorah for sewing and knitting things!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Walk, Eat, Train :)

Yesterday, we had part 2 of my friend Lee's big birthday! The day started off with a hike through the countryside, followed up with a delicious tapas meal and face cake, before we headed back on a nice old train! Here are the photos of my day:

Here's me, bouncing in halfway through the walk.

Here's me and Lee, plus other, clearer images of his friends in the background.

We're posing for photos during our walk, thanks to the convenient lady that just happened to wander by.

Here's Lee, presenting us with his face from his cake.

Ramsbottom Train Station - so lovely!

Zan on the tracks! It's like a new reason for train lateness, similar to "leaves on the line".

Me and Lee!

Me and Shazia!

Train - that has windows big enough for you to stick your head out of! So cool! Yaaaay happy! :)

Thank you train! It was much fun! :)

The folks went on for further celebrations in the city, but I was really very happy with the excitement of the train. I'm really glad that Lee planned for us all to go on the train, and I'm really glad that I could be part of his 30th birthday celebrations. Both days were great fun, and I met lots of lovely people. Now to get planning for my very own level 30 celebrations! Hoorah! :)

Friday, 20 June 2014

Level 30: Lee

It was my friend Lee's birthday today! I went over to his house with a freshly baked batch of scones and in exchange was fed amazing rainbow birthday cake! Hoorah! :)

Here are my scones. A double batch since it is a special occasion.

Here's Lee's amazing rainbow birthday cake! :) A good pic of it too! :)

And here's Lee with his cake. He has been very spoilt today! :)

We counted today, and it turns out that I've known Lee for 13 years. That's almost half my life! And I'm SO chuffed that we're still great friends. Yay! :) Happy happy birthday Lee! :) There will be more celebrations tomorrow! Hoorah! :)

Side note - you might remember, my friend Shazia's 30th was also celebrated with rainbow cake, made by me. I think that inadvertantly, we have have created a tradition, that I reckon should be continued on for my birthday. Or at least, I think I'd love a rainbow cake for my birthday. :)

More tomorrow! :)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Postcards for Little People

A wise lady by the name of Sylwyn, a fellow playworker, once asked me how it feels to make something that is intended for play. To answer her, I had to delve into moments where I was in the middle of a creative storm - like when I was making the Pop-Up Play Box - to fully answer.

A few weeks before Karen came to visit, I had decided do a bit of doodling, with a view to giving them to some little people from afar. I waded deep into my head to visualise what they might find interesting, until finally, out popped three postcards:

These are specifically themed for three lovely little people.

I had completely forgotten about my love for drawing sheep until this postcard. Of course, my love of robots continues relentlessly. But just in case you were wondering about the third postcard: one of the children has a thing about snooker at the moment. I promise I'm not trying to adulterate here, just continue a theme! Hahaa.

And in reply to Sylwyn, I said many things, most of which I actually remember now. I know that it still feels the same. As I make these postcards for children, I know that I find them inspiring and exciting. If I can find at least one thing exciting about something, children will find at loads more, most of which will be unexpected and probably illogical, but all of which will be wonderful and most importantly, theirs.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A Whirlwind Weekend :)

What a weekend! What a wonderful 4-day weekend! Manchester to London to Manchester. And then for Karen she went back to London and is now flying to Hong Kong! She's on a plane somewhere in the sky luxuriating in the empty seat she has next to her. Hoorah!

Anyway, here are some photos from the weekend.

Here we are, marvellng at Karen's shopping.

Here we are, after eating at the Woodthorpe.

Here's me with Big Ben.

Here's me at Westminster Abbey

Here's Karen with our All-You-Can-Eat Afternoon Tea. So much yum!

Here we all are, weary after a day in London.

And here's Karen, heading to Hogwarts.

It was really wonderful spending so much time with Karen. I don't actually think there's ever been a situation where we have been able to talk for extended periods of time, and it has been great getting to know her more. She came over to the UK once, 20 years ago. Since then, lots of things have changed, but we're still family, and that's still lovely. Now to make sure I establish relationships with her children and the other little folk in the family, so that this can continue to the next generation too!

Thank you for visiting Karen - it was lovely to have you, and I really hope to see you again soon! :)

Saturday, 14 June 2014

To The South!

After an epic day of shopping yesterday with Karen (and truly, it was amazing), we thought it would be apt to have a moment to enjoy some Slatterys awesomeness, and to stare at cakes. Breakfast was delicious and company was great! Here are some of the amazing creations we saw.

So much cake. So delicious looking!

We then had a wander around Manchester, looking at random things and taking many photos. We had a wander through the canals, and stumbled across a patch of greenery in the city:

There was an adjoining allotment here too! So very very cool! There's my Dad.

Very soon after this photo, it started to rain. We wandered back to the car and made our way to the train station so that Karen and I could catch our train to London! Hoorah! It's going to be a flying visit, so my apologies in advance to my friends in London - no time to meet I'm afraid! We, of course, are staying with my sister and her husband tonight in their London abode. And we get to hang out with Bugsy! Yaaaaay!

He's still just as awesome as when I bunnysat him over Christmas! Yaaay! :)

Right, time to rest and prep for London-in-a-Day! Hoorah! Goodnight! :)

Thursday, 12 June 2014

A Visitor from Afar :)

My brother, sister, Mum, Dad and Uncle, make regular appearances on my blog, but I also have other family too! Today one of my cousins from Hong Kong arrived at our house and I will be spending a few days with her. Here she is with me and my mum:

This is Karen, my Dad's brother's Daughter. I know that that's called in Chinese, but I only just have a grasp of it as cousin in English? Must be.

We will be going on many adventures, Karen and I, but tonight, had a bit of Sunday Roast, did a bit of shopping, and talked a lot, and it was lovely. She brought some lovely gifts too, with a special thank you to her daughter Kalin who, might or might not be my cousin/niece. These family tree terminology is confusing.

There might be a rainbow loom bracelet in my future!

I have a day of shopping and shenanigans tomorrow so I'd better go finish off my things for the day and get me to bed. More soon!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Jelly-Bubble-Blobs

A few years ago, when my sister got married, she used magical looking jelly blobs for her centerpieces. There were a big hit, and they're making a come back at Damon and Jenny's wedding. To make sure we still knew how to use them, we decided to make some. Here is what we do:

Here's the packet, ready for play!

Here are the little bubbles in their original form.

They are absolutely tiny, little orbs that feel like tiny plastic marbles.

You put the whole packet into some water.

And then you wait. Or as I did, just take photos of them. You have to wait for a good 6 hours before they grow to their maximum size.

The next day, here they are! Fully grown water marbles? I have no idea what they're called.

And just for effect, this makes me look like I'm actually holding a bubble at my fingertips :)

So there you go! Water marbles! Or Jelly Bubbles? Or fun-to-play-with-blob-things! Hoorah! :) I'm gonna go and play with them again. Hahahaha.