Friday, 31 January 2014

CNY

Traditionally, Chinese New Year's Eve is a big family thing. Everyone comes home and there is a big family feast. There is much noise and much food. It's actually much more of a thing than New Year's Day itself.

This year, I found myself oddly lost about this year's New Year. I had completely forgotten that it was happening, so I hadn't really planned for it. But when family friend Kit called to ask if Morgan and I had fancied having New Year's Eve with her, I suddenly found myself again: it seems that I had adopted a little family!

Kit brought some roasted pork goodies from China Town as well as a lovely fresh fish and some Chinese Veg. Everything was delicious! We also had lovely dessert too:

Glutinous Rice Balls (they must have a better name!) stuffed with Black Sesame in some, and Peanut Butter in the others. They were very yummy.

And fairy cakes wrapped with red. Why not, right? Very festive. :)

So this year, I celebrated Chinese New Year without my family, but it wasn't too weird. I gathered a family around me and it was lovely, and I felt quite blessed. I hope that all my Chinese friends and family had a lovely New Year's Eve meal too, and I wish you all a happy and playful year! :)

Monday, 27 January 2014

A Delivery from the South Lands :)

Wonderfully, gloriously, I was delivered a huge tub of cornish clotted cream by hand today by the lovely Morgan, my friend, colleague and fellow roadtripper. I was astonished at how big this tub was, so I had to take a photo:

Look at it! There's so much goodness! :)

And of course, if there's clotted cream, there has to be scones, and what better opportunity is there to make some? Limited edition too - I only made 4, hahahaa! :) With a friend to eat it with, it's the perfect recipe for a lovely evening! :)

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is pure joy on a plate. Nom nom nom! :)

I'm excited to have Morgan in my house for a little while. It's been exactly 3 weeks since anyone else lived in this house apart from me so this is very nice! :) It's nice to have company, and of all people of the world, it's the amazing, the super dooper Morgan! :) Hoorah! :) More adventures soon! :)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Doodle Me Clouds

I've been sorting and packing and tidying and organising. And while shuffling bits of paper around, I found lots of doodles I wanted to turn into postcards. So having spent a whole day being busy, I decided to settle down to some making and crafting:

Hey presto, three new postcards - they will be flying to addresses all over the world! :)

I got the doodle bug straight after making these postcards, so I poked around for a new idea and came up with clouds. And then got down to doodling...

I love these clouds. Perfectly offset with blue skies.
I used to draw sheep like this. Maybe I'll do a sheep doodle next! :)

Anyway, nothing like a good doodle to align your thoughts. I'd better get back to being busy! Hoorah! :)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Winter-Into-Spring

For the first time in a long time, it was sunny outside. Sunny in a pleasant, glowing sorta way. Warm enough to enjoy being outside, but cold enough to appreciate being inside. Anyway, so I went outside. It was probably good that I did because I've not really relaxed for a whole week. I've been solidly working, catching up on precious lost research time for my PhD, as well as finalising details for the Pop-Up Adventure Play and Special Guests Tour 2014. It's been a lot of work, and while living on my own, I have realised how all-consuming it can be, in the best possible way. So while the sun was out, I went outside to play.

Here I am - probably the first time this year I've been outside without a huge coat on.

The skies were gloriously blue. And flowers are beginning to bud.

I thought it was really cool that these leaves had holes. So I took a photo of the sky through it. If it's sunny tomorrow, I might try it with the macro lens.

It was nice to take a breather outside: to enjoy the cool breeze on my face and the winter sun softly warming my skin. It's a real shame that I've had so much to do; Winter-into-Spring is a great time for discovery and walks. Sigh, too much work to do. I can't wait for this month to be over so I can start a new adventure - I'm going exploring! :) Woohoo! :)

Monday, 13 January 2014

A Great Weekend

I've just come out of a busy three days, and I'm gleeful because of it too! Eventhough I was super busy, I had a really good weekend, and am still smiling about it now.

On Saturday, I had my final shift at the, erm, video game store, and am now a free lady! My friends Lee and Dave came round to celebrate my last shift and we played Settlers of Catan. Turns out, I really like the game, and have really taken to it. I really appreciated having Lee and Dave there too. They fed me. And shook their heads at my piles of washing up. Oops.

On Sunday, I went for an early morning wander before church. It was a beautiful Winter's morning: the sun was shining and there was frost on the ground. Here are some of my frosty pics:

I used my macro lens, so I could see all the tiny tiny details.

This is the frost that was on the car.

And here is some moss, growing on a wall. This is my favourite pic.

On Sunday evening, I had a Board Game and Baked Goods night, and a bunch of my friends came round to eat. It was really nice to see them all, to hang out and joke and laugh. I cooked for everyone, and baked lots of things. I was particularly proud of my chicken pie, which is the only photo I took that whole evening:

It was crispy and golden, and no soggy bottom. Yummy too! :)

This evening was particularly awesome. I think it's just what happens when people with similar personalities get together in a social context and realise the amounts of fun that can be had. I haven't spent much time with these people beyond where I met them, so to discover this was wonderful! We all get on, it's enjoyable, we mock eachother but only in jest and it's great, because that's all part of the fun! And a few of them stayed until, what, 2:30am? That was well cool - not had a gathering that lasted so late for a long long time! Hoorah! :)

On Monday morning, I woke up to amazingness! We'd finished our fund-raising campaign and had met our minimum target of $4500. Not only that, we'd also met the target that we'd been given by mahoosive playground builders, KaBOOM who pledged to double $2500 of our contributions. So we have $7000 to buy a car for the tour, HOORAH! :) Isn't that amazing? Thank you so much to everyone who contributed! :)

The late night did render me mostly confused for the rest of my day, but when the fog finally lifted, I got it together to celebrate with a quiche. Weee, a quiche! :)

It was delicious. Nom nom nom nom.

And so we come to the end of three very eventful days. I'm going to watch Sherlock now and finish the day off with a bang! Hoorah for an amazing weekend, and I feel utterly blessed to be surrounded by such great people. :)

Friday, 10 January 2014

Mini Study Break

With all the drama of retail, and the company at Christmas, I have to admit that I have been neglecting my PhD. It was with much amusement then, when I met up with my PhD peeps today, to find out that they were in exactly the same boat too. Oops. Shh... don't tell Fraser...!

I'll be honest though, despite the fact that this little meeting didn't involve writing, or reading, or real work, I feel much more motivated, well equipped and ready to do more work. Having this gathering of similar minds really helps to kick-start some action. Who woulda known!

And as always, it was a real pleasure to hang out. Share ideas, discuss thoughts, and be mutually envious of eachother's research. There was a lot of discussion about my up and coming tour, especially because Andy is going too, but mostly because it will benefit my research greatly which I am so very thankful for.

Anyway, instead of going by train as I would normally, I drove to Leeds, and ended up parking almost in the sky. It took forever to get up to the 15th floor, but it made for a lovely photo:

Leeds from a car park, with sunshine just after the rain.

In other news, I should congratulate my cousin Joe and his new wife Maggie. I've seen some photos and they were lovely. I hope you liked the hearts on the card, and hope that your wedding day was everything you wanted it to be! :)

Right, maybe time to rest a little. More tomorrow :)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Gathering Momentum :)

Oh my oh my, the last few days have been busy busy busy! I've been working very hard on the Pop-Up Adventure Play and Special Guests Tour, and it's all now gathering momentum! The last coupla days have been full of planning, and confirming, and generosity, and excitement!

Planning: Morgan and I have been working hard on getting everything organised for the tour. We've been looking at cars, and what kind of luggage we'll be taking, and the hours we need to drive, and examining the tolerance we have for eachother. There's also our special guests too! We need to brief and plan their time as well! There is sooo much to organise, but there is sooo much anticipation, joy and pleasure in all of this planning. We're going on TOUR!

Confirming: The last few days have been full of calls to confirm locations and dates etc, but I'm so pleased to announce that I will now be going to at least 12 locations across the US! The exacting locations are available here, and genuinely will be one of the biggest adventures in my entire life. I'm actually freaking out about it, but trying to keep it cool. Ahem! :)

Generosity: There have been soooo many wonderful people out there who have contributed to our road trip campaign. A lot of my awesome friends have donated, which is amazing. There are also a lot of nice people out there who I don't know but have donated too. Such generosity - I could not be thankful enough!

Excitement: The biggest news I've had in the last couple of days is from KaBOOM. They are a big playground building company, and they have decided to match dollar for dollar our donations from yesterday til the end of our indiegogo campaign! That means that every dollar that is donated in the next few days will magically turn into TWO. Isn't that kinda awesome?


The adventure, it seems, has already begun while still sitting at my computer chair in the rainy city of Manchester. Fancy that! I hope that this excitement continues to build as I fly to the US, and then is sustained as we travel across the US. More on this very soon! :) Hoorah! :)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A Good Catch Up :)

My friend Andy is awesome. He is a fellow PhD peep, a director of Pop-Up Adventure Play, and most importantly my awesome playworker friend. He's just come back from a trip to Australia and came over to say hello, and to bring me scones!

We had cherry scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam. It was awesome.

We got together today because rumour has it that Andy might be, erm, part of the, ahem, big tour that we are doing! :) More details on that to come! But yeah, Andy and I had a good chat, discussing holidays, and flights, and adventures past, present and future! It's so nice to talk to someone about playwork. I don't think I've talked much about it recently, certainly not about my own thoughts and feelings towards it, so it was nice today to speak without inhibitions, and just to have a good laugh, with good food and good company. Hoorah! :)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Doodle Me Hearts

Have I ever mentioned that I didn't like the colour pink? I'm just not a very girly person, but being a girl automatically gives people the right to assume that I should like the colour pink, but I don't. And I think that I dislike it more because of that reason.

Nevertheless, I just spent a good couple of hours with the colour pink and it's various tonal cousins because, of course, there's a Chinese wedding, and when there's a Chinese wedding, there must always be red, and pinks, and purples. And lots of it.

Not the colours that I would have picked, but the recipients and their family should be happy. Hoorah!

And who are the lucky recipients? Well, my cousin in HK is getting married! I don't often talk about my HK relatives because we live very separate lives, but this time, my peeps are going to be represented, so it's kinda cool, so I'm sending a card to mark the occasion :)

Anyway, off to enjoy some tv baking. :)

Friday, 3 January 2014

Dogs n Dough n Dudes n Dolls

For the first time for a long time, I went to have drinks. Now, I have lots of reservations about going to bars and pubs, mostly because I don't actually drink, and partly because I don't like drunken people. But I thought I'd go with it this time to prepare myself for any future engagements I might have, and be ready to leave before it got too rowdy. I think I quite enjoyed myself.

I really liked Dogs n Dough. I've never previously come across it, but it's quite swanky and very well decorated. For me the big thing was: it's nice and clean! :)

I hung out with some lovely people and had a good giggle. The food was very good (I had some excellent cheesy fries) and I was offered the choice of Cream Soda which automatically gives this place a very high mark. It's been a long time since I've felt comfortable in my own skin at a drinking establishment. Maybe I've just learnt how to deal with the anxieties that I used to have about it all. Maybe I've just grown up and have learned how to socialise. Whatever the reason, tonight was a good night, and I'd be happy to do it again. :)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A New Year Yorkshire Pudding

My parents and I decided that the best way to bring in the new year was to eat huge homemade Yorkshire Puddings. Having successfully made tiny ones for Christmas, I decided that I had the adequate skills to make huge ones :) Hahahaa. Here's how they turned out:

Look at it! So big, and so lovely!

Mum and Dad have been excited about this for weeks now.

And here's my Yorkshire Pudding, all loaded up with food and ready to go! It was crispy and lovely and tasted delicious! :) Yaaaay! :)

Now, there are some of you lovely people who have been following the progress of last year's 365 project, and have expressed interest in me doing it again. I really want to, but it's been quite a commitment. This coming year will be full of tour goodness, and I need to focus my energies on that. I will still blog as much as possible because I think it's a great habit, but I don't know if I'll be able to do it every day, especially when I'm on the road. 

So here's to another great year of blogging, and I hope that you too had a wonderful start to 2014, with or without huge Yorkshire Puddings :)