Thursday, 31 October 2013

Meet Mia :)

It's Halloween, and of course I have my very own pumpkin to carve. Last year, I had a lot of fun with Phil, my slightly worried pumpkin friend. This year, I'd like you to all meet Mia:

303/365 - Zan makes a new friend.
Isn't she cheerful? Mum and Dad always ask for a cheerful pumpkin face. She's watching TV with them now.

304/365 - Zan has fun with photography.

I had a lot of fun with Mia. She didn't take long to design, but I was really quite chuffed with how the name turned out! Hello little Mia, and welcome to the world! Hoorah! :) Looking forward to next year's pumpkin already!

(The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that there are two photos attributed to my 365 project today. Well, I have to say, yesterday I didn't get chance to have any fun. I work up busy and went to bed miserable. Such is what happens when you don't take the time out to play.)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Cake and a Catch Up

Today I met up with a friend that I haven't seen for 14 years. I honestly thought that it would be slightly odd, and was a little worried about how things might go, but after we got settled, conversation flowed easily as if we hadn't been apart for over a decade! Of course, we chose to have meet over great food and delicious cake at Slattery's. I go there so often now, the floor manager actually knows me, ha!

We talked easily for hours, sharing with eachother the things we've missed, and enjoying eachother's company. I heard many stories which confirmed to me how strong I suspected my friend has always been, and continues to be. I was also reminded strongly of how resilient you sometimes have to be to overcome obstacles that you face, and fully admire my re-acquainted friend for being able to sit in front of me calmly and tell her about some of the things she's been through, both happy and sad.

I took a moment to reflect on our meet by gazing serenely (and probably quite strangely) at the sky that had just turned blue. Having spent a couple of days drenching people unexpectedly, the weather decided to give us periodical bursts of sun, which, I'll be honest, I really needed.

302/365 - Zan reflects on a thoroughly good catch up.

I'm so pleased that I was able to meet my friend after all this time today. I'm really excited to be meeting her children at one point too :) Sometimes life takes us down unexpected paths that lead us away from your friends, but that doesn't mean the friendship suffers. You just put it on hold until the paths cross again! I'm glad I've always upheld this idea because today is a great example. Hoorah for re-kindled friendships, and hoorah for amazing cake and catch ups :)

Monday, 28 October 2013

Drawing the Storm

There has been a lot of talk over the past few days of a huge storm passing the UK, and today it hit. In the southern parts of the UK it was particularly bad, but it didn't really affect the northern areas where I am, and it certainly wasn't to the scale of the last big storm I was caught in.

I didn't fancy being sporadically rained upon today though, so I spent the bulk of the day inside watching the weather try to make up it's mind. I had some time to ponder the storm too, and in my head, this is what it should have looked like:

301/365 - Zan doodles a storm.
In my head, an Autumn storm would involve lots of leaves and lots of water. And probably be in multicolour too...

Around 5pm, it became kinda sunny, so I ventured outside for a minute to visit the post office. The weather has been very unsettled recently, so we've not really been able to see one day from the next, but today it has definitely gotten significantly colder. It might even be time to break out the big coat soon. We'll have to see. 

Anyway, time to get ready for another midnight release - something about Assassins and flags. It's going to be a busy week.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Photography in Print.

My brother got married over 12 months ago, and I was the photographer. There was a long gap between his wedding and him getting his photos (mostly because I was recovering from surgery and then graduated, my uncle passed away, and then I went to the US). But I did end up producing him and Fiona their own wedding album of photos, and two little albums for both sets of parents. And then I forgot all about them.

Apparently, they did too because about 6 months after receiving these albums, they didn't get round to giving them to my parents til this weekend. My parents pootled down to visit them in Yeovil and came back with their photo album. There was a tiny flutter of butterflies in my belly when the book was passed to me - I hardly ever actually get to see my photos in print! They normally just get sent to the happy couple and then I never see them again!

Anyway, here is the little album that was personalised for just my parents:

300/365 - Zan gazes wide-eyed at photos she once took.

It all seems a bit weird my own photos printed on paper. The end result of most of my photography is almost always digital: on a webpage, in an e-newsletter, stolen completely without permission... but yeah! It was really strange to see my pics in an album! Ha! It was really weird too to see my photo printed on a canvas when I went round to Shazia's house. It's just surreal that you can touch it! Anyway, I'm mostly really really pleased that everyone liked the photos too. Yaaay! :) Everyone likes them! :)

Anyway, tiny celebration over. I'll smile for a bit to myself and perhaps go and have some cake. Then it'll be an amazing end to a very busy week. Weeeeeeee! :)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

This Is An Elk

Today was surprisingly busy. I thought that not having parents at home and having a lie in would amount to a comfortable day. Instead I've had to clean the house for some visitors, and then get hauled off to work because of a misunderstanding. It's a good job that I always work in a buffer for days where I don't have a car.

Anyway, the most exciting and playful part of my day involved some papercraft:

299/365 - Zan makes a paper Elk.
I think I'll name him Colonel Kernel.

Colonel Kernel was delivered to work as part of a magazine advertising for a new game that's coming out. I honestly didn't even know this game existed, but now I do! But I am far more concerned, of course, about the awesomeness of my Elk. Well, I think he kinda looks like reindeer, but the instructions said he was an elk, so there we go. He is pretty awesome.

Anyway, so that was my day. The next coupla day are predicted to involve wind, rain and a storm. And probably work as well, we'll see. Hoorah for Colonel Kernel! :)

Friday, 25 October 2013

A Warm Day

Today I write about being warm because I had a whole day full of it in Leeds.

Firstly, today I went to uni, and I spent a few blissful hours with fellow PhD students talking about PhD things. It was kind of amazing, and kinda exactly how I wish I could do my every day of PhDing. Being able to hang out with people who are like-minded and at a similar stage in research is awesome, and made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. I'm so pleased that I was in the company of wonderful people today.

Secondly, we went to have to Mexican food today. It was really quite yummy, but despite asking them to lay off the chillies, the meal was pretty, well, warm. Copious amounts of sour cream required, washed down with a lot of water. Yummy though! And reasonably priced! :)

298/365 - Zan enjoys time with fellow PhD peeps.

Thirdly, the weather was weird today. The day started off as one of the coldest in a while, and then it went double figures hot, with blazing sunshine. I have no idea what's going on, but I spent a lot of my day very very warm. Haha. Here are two photos that show the dramatic change in weather today:

This was at 11am.
It was cold and wet and miserable. Icy winds.

This was at about 4:30pm.
It was mild with a light warm breeze, and when you were in the sun, it was actually hot!

I had a really nice day today, even though it long and involved a small battle with everyone else's umbrellas. I think that at last I am engaged with my PhD and will push myself to do more of it because I have other people to be accountable to. There's never any harm in a little bit of pressure. Hoorah for a day in Leeds today, and hoorah for wonderful people! :)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Naan-As-Big-As-Your-Torso! :)

My friends J and Peki were in town this week so we decided to some people together for a good ol' curry. The last time we met up with them was also for a curry, a few days after their wedding. After much excitement (from me) about Naan-As-Big-As-Your-Torso, we decided upon a restaurant and met up to have a good giggle.

I came to this restaurant a few months ago, just after Angel's wedding. I particularly love this photo because of the colours in the spoon.

297/365 - Zan enjoys a moment with a family naan. 
Can you tell I was excited? :)

The naan bread was incredible. Perfectly flavoured, and crispy in sections but not in the slightest bit dry. Their peshwari naan isn't as nice as the other place we went to, but the size of the normal naan makes up for everything. Naan and Korma has become one of my favourite meals ever.

The restaurant was really nice, with only one drawback. The waiters were a little too enthusiastic (to the point of aggressive) about setting up and tidying up the tables. At one point, our table was surrounded by people who were all just slamming stuff off and on the table. It was fast, yes, but the over-riding feeling of shock was more prominent than that of efficiency.

Anyway, I had a lovely time with my friends, both at the meal and for our single (highly clinked) drink afterwards. It's so great that I am able to see my friends so often, despite us living in different cities or different countries. I love them so much, and look forward to the next time we meet up for a giggle and a curry :)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Breathe

The rhythm of a working day can get repetitive and unrelenting. Wake up, get in the car, go to work, get in the car, get home, sleep, repeat. This has been something that the past few days have presented me with which, granted, makes time pass very quickly but it doesn't always give you the opportunity to appreciate what you have around you. Certainly for me, this pattern of work wears me down.

So today, I took a moment to breathe. I went outside and just gulped down the lovely fresh air.

I don't know what these little berries are, nor what they are going to be, but they seem to be very cheery on a cold autumn day.

These flowers remind me of earrings, hehehe. 

Of course, as things go in the UK, big fat drops of rain came tumbling down from the sky, so I scurried into my car and took pictures of the window.

296/365 - Zan takes pics of the blue skies through the rain.

Having that moment to breathe really helped with my day. What could have been very stressful shift turned out to be pretty relaxed. I'm really pleased that I'd set myself up for the shift properly by taking a moment to remind myself of the other great things in life. Weeeee! :) More of the same tomorrow, but hopefully with a little more excitement :)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Doodle Me Cupcake

I baked 5 cupcakes today. I made them specifically for the cheering up of a particular person. But today I was so busy, that I finished the cakes (with buttercream!) with seconds to spare before I was running out of the house with them all balances precariously on a plate. Consequently I didn't take a photo! :(

So when I got home today, I decided to honour my un-photographed cakes with a cupcake doodle. Here it is:

295/365 - Zan doodles oodles of cupcakes. Nom nom nom.

I think this doodle goes perfectly with the collection that I already have. I hope to expand on this soon and create a range of doodle postcards that aren't robots. Too many robots now. :)

Anyway, I'm off to watch the final of my favourite baking programme. Enjoy the cupcake doodles! :)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Book Six

So I probably should be reading books to do with my PhD really, but I have been completely taken by the Harry Potter series. I'm on book six now so it's nearly over! Hahaha.

294/365 - Zan lives briefly in another, more magical, world.
This photo is totally posed - I am nowhere near that far into the book.

The day has been slightly mad. My adventures for next year are shaping up nicely, but is a lot of work, and then on top of that, the demands of work work are increasing. Bah! So yes, excuse me as I go and read for a bit.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Secret Plans

Today I was working on something super secret that's for my next US adventure. For those of you who might follow the exciting adventures of Pop-Up Adventure Play, you might have seen a teaser about it. Either way, I can't show you what I was making today, but I can tell you that I had to design some things for the new adventure and it's looking pretty cool. Did someone say tour?

So what I will show you is some photos from my previous trip to the US. It's lovely looking back on the photos, and I wanted to pick a couple of playful ones to give you an idea of what might be happening!

My visit to the Anarchy Zone: a new adventure playground Upstate NY.

This is Eliza at play. Hopefully I will see her during this next adventure.

293/365 - Zan thinks back to her last American adventure.
And here are the multicoloured chickens. They might not be coming on my adventure with me next year, but I'm totally going to try and visit them.

It's been almost a year since I've been back home and I'm really itching to get back out there. So yes, stay tuned for more information about my next adventure. Should be an awesome one :) Hoorah! :)

Saturday, 19 October 2013

"We're playing stairs on the stairs" - Reflections from a playful evening with Nina and Hannah

Nina and Hannah came to play today. Here's what we did:

We made "stairs on the stairs". Exactly what this was I'm not not sure about, but it was important at the time.

"We have so many" - Hannah shows me her stash of bottle caps in a basket that I used to play with as a kid. Take care of my little childhood toy, Hannah! :)

Little hands found it hilarious to squish my face. For many many photos.

This was a wonderful game, for them. See how much fun Nina's having with my face!

292/365 - Zan has fun with Nina and Hannah.
Here I am with the little friends. This is a lovely photo.

And finally, I showed Nina and Hannah my doodles and they drew their own versions. This one is Nina's.

It was lovely to have a moment to play today. It's been such a long time for me, and it's great to have children's perspective on things. When we were eating at the dinner table, Hannah asked me "Why are they so loud" and then gestured the adults who were laughing raucously about something or other. I told her that it was because they don't get to see eachother very often, and this is their play. Then she asks me why did they play so loudly, and I pointed out to her that she played loudly too. Then she just giggled and asked me to go and play. It was a lovely little moment.

Thank you for the lovely evening of play, Nina and Hannah. Hope we get to play again soon! :)

Doodle Me Leaves

After the autumn doodle yesterday, I became increasingly aware throughout today that I was drawing leaf shapes in my head. It was a particular shape of leaf too, can you guess which one?

291/365 - Zan doodles oodles of leaves.

And after I finished drawing, and colouring, and altering, and changing, everything seemed right with the world. A moment of play? Perhaps. The urge was definitely there. Hoorah for doodles! :)

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Doodle Me Autumn

There's nothing quite like a satisfying and reflective doodle at the end of a tiring day. Well, aside from mountains of cake actually, but my parents are now on very controlled diets for various health reasons so I don't want to tempt them too much with delicious treats. So I've been doodling much more than I have done previously. That's okay though, because lots of thoughts have been working away through my little head, hopefully with some resolute solutions. :)

So today's play, reflection and doodle is leafy!

290/365 - Zan doodles her way through autumn leaves.
I particularly like the 7-lobed conker leaf there - the one with the amazing colour gradients :)

Another addition to my doodle collection me thinks! :) Anyway, I'm on the final chapter of a Harry Potter, so I'm going to pootle off and read it to my heart's content. Hoorah for doodles and books! :)



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bake Off

Since I woke up this morning, I've been dying to watch the most recent episode of the Great British Bake Off. I was too tired to watch it yesterday but I've been itching to find out what's in the oven this week! The Great British Bake Off is a baking competition hosted by two of my most favourite female comedians and judged by 2 very discerning bakers. The competitors are just ordinary folk who have extraordinary baking skills, and gave me the inspiration, a few years ago, to start baking.

So today's fun moment of the day:

289/365 - Zan watches her favourite baking competition on TV.
Photo courtesy of the Telegraph.

I'm super super tired today, and got rained heavily upon, so I'm going to curl up somewhere and watch some competitive baking. I know it sounds stupid, but some wonderful baking has come out of this so don't complain! :) Hoorah! :)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

White and Blue

The most fun I had today was arranging my cakes for the following photo:

288/365 - Zan takes an aesthetically pleasing photo.

The rest of my day wasn't unpleasant, it was just very busy, so much so that I didn't have time to stop and was almost late for work, and now I'm really really tired. But it's all good. Tomorrow I have a day in Leeds, which I hope to relax a little (read: have a bit of a lie in) and then look studious for a few hours. Hahaha. Anyway, hoorah for cakes today - the best part of any day. :)

Monday, 14 October 2013

Time Out with Harry

It's been a busy day. The sudden turn in weather from weirdly warm to ridiculously cold has caught lots of people off guard (including myself) so people are off sick at work. Of course this means that I am doubly cheerful and doubly hard working - we as a store have a reputation of awesomeness to uphold after all!

Anyway, so throughout my day, when I had a moment to myself, I would sneak in a few pages of Harry Potter. I've gotten to the part of the book where I genuinely don't want to put it down. It usually happens to me just after the middle of the book, and I've been known to stay up til about 2 or 3 in the morning to finish a story off! I've been far too busy to do it recently but it's so so hard to tear myself away from a great adventure.

287/365 - Zan hangs out with Harry Potter.

Another long day is ahead for me. I'm hoping that amongst the appointments, the organising, the baking and the running around, I'll get to have a moment to myself to play. I'll do my best to make it so! Watch this space! :)

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sam > Frodo

Today my day has been taken over slightly by Lego Lord of the Rings on 3DS. I was kindly allowed to borrow the console and game from work, so I decided that I would have a good bash at it. I also did a bunch of other work things too, because I felt guilty for gaming so much, but undoubtedly this was the most exciting part of my day:

286/365 - Zan gets super excited by Lego games.
This photo kinda makes it looks like I've possessed the 3DS... ah well. It was fun taking the pic!

It was whilst playing this game that I was forcibly reminded of how rubbish Frodo is as a hero of the film. He spends a lot of it just crying, or being sad, and Samwise, bless his heart, just gets on with it. "Oh you're tired Mr Frodo? Let me carry you as I make a bacon sandwich with foraged and wild foods I caught this morning". Even in the game I like playing Sam more than Frodo. Without a doubt for me, the hero of LOTR was Sam who even with all the power struggle around him did just what he had to do to keep Frodo safe and survive long enough for to see his next meal. Awesome. Sam is the greater hobbit, by far!

Anyway, so yeah, I have to give the 3DS back tomorrow so I'm going to finish off the game and get my little head to bed. It's been a Lego-battle filled day! Hoorah! :)

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Super Sundae Saturday

After a mad day at work today, I joined my parents and a family friend at a local dining establishment for some unlimited salad. It's always a winner when you get people to be interactive with your own food. Anyway, I decided today that I was gonna finish up this epic meal with dessert. I wasn't quite expecting this:

285/365 - Zan eats ice cream the size of her head.

I felt pretty fat after that meal, especially because of my evening meal the last night too. I think I'm just gonna have to eat much much green things this week to make up for this! But it made me happy for a minute, so it was worth it :) Hoorah for humongous icecream, and hoorah for family and friends :)

Friday, 11 October 2013

Pizza Pizza

I attended a party at my workplace today where I squealed with delight at the cuteness of things, as well as the pokemon-ness of things. I also got very chuffed about food:

284/365 - Zan enjoys far too much pizza.

Everyone enjoys a free slice of pizza once in a while. Today I was treated to much much pizza. Now, I didn't eat all of it, but I certainly came away with a happy belly! :) I was really really happy about pizza today. And the game? It's good. But it's wasn't nearly as playful for me today as the pizza was. :)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

All Snapped Up

My niggling ache and sickness has exploded into a full on cold now. I'm all sniffly and gross, but weirdly, my head's still clear so I'm taking advantage of that and trying to get some work done. In a room full of snotty wontons.

One of the tasks on my ever growing list of things to do is to finish going through the photos from my sixth wedding of this year. I was asked to be the photographer for Wai and James' wedding and today I'm putting the finishing touches to their wedding pics. And as part of the service...

283/365 - Zan doodles about photos.
You can see more of my doodles here.

Okay, so I'm gonna go away and sneeze on something less useful. Hope we're all wrapping up warm for the colder weather! :)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Wheat Sheaf Take Two

Today, I didn't have to do anything. But I did do many things. Did loads of work for Pop-Up, and created a whole bunch of things to post, called some people, ate some food, went to the doctors and did some shopping. I even sorted and organised another hoard of conkers that my parents picked up on this blustery day.

So much conkers! My parents got a little carried away I think, because these are so heavy. I don't think I'll be able to send them all to you Lesley!

Oh, I almost forgot (I didn't forget really ;) ). For my church harvest festival this week, I decided that I'd make something special, just like I did for my parents a few weeks back: I made another wheat sheaf loaf.

282/365 - Zan bakes another wheat sheaf, and this time it's even awesomer!

Last time, the wheat sheaf wasn't quite as shaped, or wheat sheaf like. Last time looked more like a small dude with an afro. This time, it really looks like a wheat sheaf! Yay! :) I'm so chuffed! :) I hope the peeps at church like it! :)

Anyway, another productive day! I'm so much more sniffly today compared to yesterday, but that hasn't stopped me. Getting through the work like the crazy lady I am :) Hoorah! :)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A Three-Photo Day

Today was a PhD day. Couldn't get the day off work on Friday so I swapped it to today instead. It was a good day too: sun was shining, skies were blue, free things were obtained and reading was done. I only took three photos and here they are:

Little flowers on the way to uni. They're so delicate and sweet on these super long, thin stems. Hello flowers :)

281/365 - Zan acquires a laptop.
Please note the language I choose to describe this photo. We might be revisiting this laptop on Friday...

When the sun shines, the giant chess is out! I love this chess set, and I love even more that a community of people (whom I suspect are complete strangers) play eachother. Okay, so it's usually men, but still. I saw a teenager play an old dude once and difference in generations made me so happy.

I had a really good day today. I feel really productive, and feel like I've really achieved something today. This can only mean that I don't feel as ill anymore and am on the mend! Hoorah! :)

Super excitement for the laptop, much happiness for PhD things being done, and hoorah for a day well spent! :) Yaay! :)

Monday, 7 October 2013

Educating Rita

I went to the theatre today! To see something grown up and with no singing in it! But it was loads of fun too! I went to see Educating Rita - a really cool play that echos a lot of things that I've been thinking about recently. There are only 2 people involved in this story (and 2 anti-thieves that look like ninjas and put stuff back in the right place during the dark patches of the play) and was really well written and wonderfully acted.

280/365 - Zan goes to the theatre.

I really enjoyed myself tonight - I wasn't sure that a two-person play would work out but it really did! I think I'll go and see more stuff at the theatre. I really like going to see live things! :) I think next time, I should see another musical though. I've had a really hankering to see a musical since Matilda. Or maybe go see classical music concert! Yaaaay! :) Theatres are awesome! :)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Crispy Leaves

I went for a short walk with my mum today in pursuit of conkers (again). As we left our street and wandered over to our nearest conker tree, I noticed that there were 4 children hanging out inside a skip that has been parked outside someone's house. My gut instinct was to take a photo: there are children outside, investigating, but not causing any mischief apart from checking out the new thing in their neighbourhood, a skip - I need evidence of this happening, quick take a photo! Was it play? What were they doing? Do they live nearby? I didn't want to scare them away so we didn't linger, but I totally wanted to go talk to them, and see what they were up to! On the way back though, they were gone. Still, I glimpsed a moment of play and I am dead chuffed.

Very much like how toddlers wanders a few feet away from their Mums to investigate something on their walk home, I kept wandering off into piles of leaves. My mum sighed that sigh that most toddling Mum's have. That blissful awareness of their kid's awesomeness that's mixed in with the feeling of "just hurry on up!" Haha. I was just distracted by Autumn! Such colour, such quantity, and such crunchiness!

279/365 - Zan runs around in Autumn leaves.

If the UK keeps on giving me such glorious Autumn days, I might end up liking this season more than Winter! But you never know in the UK. Tomorrow could be super rainy. I'm not complaining though. I do like a good pile of leaves to jump into! :)

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Prototype

I pootled into a craft store on the way home from the Playwork Meeting on Wednesday and was instantly overwhelmed by a million Christmas themed crafts. It was my own fault really, I shouldn't have gone in knowing that I really don't have time for so much crafty adventure. The lure of arty goodness was too much though, and I came away with one purchase which I decided to test out today. Can you tell what it is?

278/365 - Zan makes a Christmas craft prototype.

Maybe prototype pics should be in black and white from now one. Haha. I like it. Anyway, today was full of work, spaghetti pie and stickers. None of which are really worth going into. Well, apart from the spaghetti pie, which was delicious. Nom nom nom. Hoorah for prototypes, and spaghetti pie! :)

Friday, 4 October 2013

Zan's Cake Recipe :)

I really really wanted cake today. I looked at the clock and realised I had exactly 1 hour which is the perfect amount of time required for cake to be made, with enough time left over to cool before eating/taking places. I went to it immediately!

While I baked, I realised it was about time that shared my recipe. It's a simple cake mixture with a lovely twist, which my mum taught me, and which taught to her by an elderly neighbour who used to teach me English when I was a kid.


Zan's Cupcake Recipe 
Makes about 12 cupcakes or 24 fairy cakes
Takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and 20 minutes to bake.

Ingredients
4oz margarine spread (I usually use Stork, but you can use softened butter too)
4oz caster sugar (sometimes I only use 3oz if don't want to overload on the sugar)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
4oz self-raising flour
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1) Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 or 220C, and place your cupcake/fairy cake cases into their temporary tray homes.

2) Cream the margarine and sugar together with a wooden spoon until it turns from bright yellow to pale yellow, almost white. The texture will become fluffier.

3) Add the vanilla essence and mix again. It'll smell delicious now.

4) Now add one egg to the mixture and mix until incorporated. Then add the second egg. Don't worry if it doesn't quite mix in (or looks curdled). Sometimes it just does that.

5) Now using a metal spoon, stir in the flour. It won't seem to mix at first but take your time with it. And it'll become nice and thick.

6) Finally add your lemon juice. The mixture will take on a lovely sheen, and will give your cake a lift once it is done. For some reason the lemon makes it smell extra delicious!

7) Divide into your cases and bake for around 20 minutes. They are ready when they start turning golden brown around the edges. You can also test the cake by sticking a skewer into the middle of the cake and if it come out with nothing stuck to it, then it's time to take them out of the oven.

8) As soon as you can touch them, move the cakes from the baking tray to a cooling rack and resist eating for about 15 minutes until they cool. They develop this lovely slightly crisp top if you give them a few minutes to stand, so it's worth it. Or just scoff them as soon as you can touch them. Either or. ;)

Extra) You can give your cake extra lemony goodness by adding the zest of half a lemon. Sometimes I even give myself a treat and add one tbsp of cocoa powder in with the flour and then 1 tbsp instant coffee (mixed with 2 tbsp hot water then cooled) in right at the end instead of lemon. So yummy!

277/365 - Zan delights in the magic of cakery.

I have to admit that within 10 minutes of these bad boys coming out of the oven, I'd already eaten 2. But it was totally worth almost burning a finger for it. NOM NOM NOM. So much happy!

If you ever get round to using my recipe, I'd love to hear from you! :) In the meantime, I'll carry on baking, and enjoying the cake awesomeness! Hoorah! :)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A Busy Dad's Day

Today was super super busy. Here's what I got up to:

I went to the Hidden Gem bistro that's deep inside of Heaton Park with Frank and Joan. I had shepherd's pie and a hot vimto, and it was lovely! 

Frank and Joan showed me round - here they pointed out the crazy amount of grapes that they have in the park. We also wandered around the park where Frank and Joan pointed out the things that have changed over time, and their childhood adventures there. It was a lovely way to spend my lunch. :)

When I got home, my mum was organising photos. She found this huge print of when I was about, erm, 2? Mini-Zan! :) My mum used to look sooo much like my sister! :)

276/365 - Zan celebrates another great year with her Dad.
We had a delicious meal and there was fun to be had all round. Happy birthday Dad! :)

To top it off, I also went to Manchester Uni library to day to do some library things and I also had a meeting about the super secret but super exciting thing. But now I'm pretty tired. I was going to pop into Leeds Uni tomorrow, but being under the weather earlier on this week has really taken it out of me, so I think I might take the morning to rest up before my weekend begins. Gotta look after myself otherwise I'll get sick again! 

Anyway, hoorah for Dad, hoorah for Frank and Joan, and hoorah for a very busy but very good day.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Playwork. And Doodles.

I was invited to the Playwork NW meeting today where I met a bunch of lovely playworkers from the North West area of the UK and together we discussed all things playwork. It was really interesting to hear from all the people in the field and on the ground, those who really understand and know their community, and are truly passionate about their kids.

When I got home, I had a peculiar sense of peace which I've not felt for a while, but I was puzzled about why. The discussions of the day all fell upon the decline of the economy, and the impact it has had on playwork in the area. For a vast majority of the time, conversations centred around lamentations, over losses, cuts and missed opportunities. But as I quietly observed, the conversation began to turn. It was sounding a little more positive. Having got it out of their systems, people had moved from sadness to little happinesses, explaining how they were surviving, learning and growing. That's the kind of talk that I like. And that's the kind of talk I want to be more involved with.

So while reflecting on this, I doodled. And this is what I drew:

275/365 - Zan practiced reflective doodling.

This is the full pic. It looks kinda cool. I don't think it's finished, but it was a good place to stop. More doodles here.

I think the meeting went very well today: everyone seemed to have taken something away from it. I feel like I've learned something today too. I'm not sure what it is yet, but it was definitely something. I'm sure I'll understand after a good night's sleep. And some Harry Potter. Hoorah for a day well spent! :)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sing! Together! :)

For the last few days I have been watching youtube videos with much enjoyment. Here are the three that I've had on repeat today:

274/365 - Zan has far too much fun watching happy videos.
This is my favourite of the three youtube videos. If you sing a song, you totally should be in charge of it. And especially if you keep hearing imaginary fireworks that you need to stop the song for. Child-directed singing. Should be a new area of study.

This may be a guilty pleasure, but it makes me so happy when I watch this. Yaaaaay! :)

This song makes me really really happy. Makes me hairs stand on end how well their voices go together! And I can't for the life of me concentrate on my singing enough to be in tune and make a cup do a dance with other people. Madness!!

I hope you too have enjoyed these videos as much as me! I love singing! And I have sang along to every one of these videos as I post them up! Yaaay! :)