Love through the lense

I just got back from a family holiday and am now sorting through the hundreds of photos we took between us. My parents were there first for a week alone – the first holiday they’ve had without me or my brother since their honeymoon. I copied all the photos from Dad’s camera (I asked if there was “anything I wouldn’t want to see” first, he assured me no) and going through the photos from their week together, I really feel they are a couple who’s love will last a lifetime.


I wish I could share lots of pictures, but to protect their identities, I will only share ones where they cannot be identified.

Seeing my parents through the lense of each other’s love was a truly humbling, and at times hilarious experience. I love that photos like these show they can really have fun together:


I love you Mum and Dad, I hope you stay together forever.

Avocado Update

I occurred to me a few weeks ago that I never posted an update on my avocado plant that I grew from the stone. As a reminder, here’s what my plant-baby looked like in the last post it featured in:

picture my own

Aww, so cute and tiny!

And now look at its magnificent self!

DSCF2166That’s one hell of a change, the leaves are massive – bigger than my hand and the main stem is really think and strong – it actually feels like a sapling as opposed to a softer less woody stem.

A word of warning though to anyone who wants to grow one of these, they’re very thirst plants, and if you don’t manage to water them enough, or leave them alone for a week or so, you will come home to this distressing sight:


Poor little thing :( … at least it perks up again in a few hours if you give it some water :)

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Monkey Brain Moments

I was thinking about this yesterday after hearing a discussion on Heart Yorkshire radio about carwashes. DJ Rich was saying that he’s always irrationally scared of the ‘do not break, this will rise automatically’ sign:


The picture of the offending barrier, posted on Heart Yorkshire’s Facebook page is above.

I realised I’ve always had a theory about this kind of irrational fear, I call these moments of terror or confusion at technology ‘monkey brain’ moments. Let me explain

I theorise that we have developed technologies like car-washes and planes and traffic lights faster than we’ve evolved – we can learn to use them, but it’s not innately built in. Some fears we have are evolved fears of heights and spiders for example have been selected as those who possessed them historically had a higher chance of survival.

So, when we encounter something like a car-wash, though we’ve learnt to accept this technology as a safe part of the modern world, I think that on some innate in-built level we are distrustful – hence a ‘monkey brain’ moment (I realise this is disingenuous to monkeys, and I should probably call this a ‘homo erectus’ moment, monkeys are, after all, exactly as evolved as we are and when modern humans didn’t exist, neither did modern monkeys) –  a moment when an old intuitive part of your brain kicks in and says “I don’t trust this”.

I have these regularly myself, especially when handling this set of knives:

My monkey brain really objects to me holding the thin sheath in my hand and sliding in the knife, every single time, it’s like someone is screaming in my head “you’re going to slice straight into your palm!”.
The response to DJ Rich certainly confirmed that many people are scared of car-washes, but does anyone else have another example of a ‘suspicious monkey brain’ episode?

I have a Secret Identity

My friend has a superpower

What he doesn’t realise is that I have a super hero costume. I can walk straight past people wearing my normal clothes, people who I’ve seen many times, some even over a number of years and just like Peter Parker or Clark Kent, if I’m not in my super suit, they don’t recognise me, or they just give me this weird ‘have I maybe seen you somewhere before?!?’ look. It even works on my own boss!

Want to see my super hero outfit?

Wait for it…



That’s right, I don’t even have a face mask! Not even a skinny black one like The Incredibles wear!

But I did used to have a hat, interestingly, losing the hat has made me no more or less recognisable.


Of course I realise here that the trick is situatedness, my customers are used to seeing me at the cafe in uniform, seeing me outside the cafe in plain clothes is somehow incongruous – and it’s not that they don’t see me as a proper person I think, though thinking about it, it’s the people who take the time to talk to me who recognise me more often and more easily…

So I guess the moral of the story is if you meet Superman, chat to him, maybe he’s had a rough day, and then perhaps when you walk past that muscular vaguely-familiar man on the street you might be able to put two-and-two together!

…and also that making a mean cappuccino is a really shit super power.

Crafty Summer Wedding & Outfit

This summer I was very fortunate to be invited to my Uncle’s wedding. It was an amazing day and made extra special because so many people contributed. The bride’s brother-in-law made a spectacular cake, my grandpa and grandma made hundreds of these gorgeous hanging hearts out of old music paper:

517 DSCF0257I took some of these home from the wedding and have hung them above my bed, they are a lovely memento.

My wonderful mum (sister of the groom) made these lovely hanging jam-jar lanterns


There were custom Japanese umbrellas


More contributions from my grandpa in the form of hand-written calligraphy


And my mum and I made pompoms from florists fabric to hang in the trees (these were super easy and the florists fabric is brilliantly weather-proof)


Everyone looked absolutely gorgeous, especially the bride in a stunning backless floor-length silk gown, but I didn’t want to put personal photos of anyone else in my family up online, so I have mainly just got photos of myself from the day. Though I did find this lovely one of the bride and groom:


My outfit was a short summer dress from River Island – it was originally wide shorts, but with the waist tie it used to make me crazy having to untie and retie it all just to go to the loo! So I made it into a full skirt instead. The best thing about it is the pockets, they’re huge and deep – so useful!


I also had some surprisingly nice cheap shoes from Shoe Zone – the type with little cut out holes. I think they were only about £8! Crazy.

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The scarf I think was a gift from my uncle – so rather appropriate to wear it to his wedding. It’s a gorgeous good quality and very warm scarf from Hong Kong


You can just see part of my Mum standing behind me in this photo, she looked like a beautiful Hawaiian princess in pink and turquoise with her gorgeous dark hair in an over-the-shoulder plait.

It was a magical day at a gorgeous location. I have been blessed to be invited to two weddings in the last few months and they’re always an amazing occasion. Wishing everyone who got married this summer many many happy years together.


Cute Easy Hand-Made Owls

This is a lovely little craft project which is pretty fast by hand and lightning fast with a machine. I found this lovely pin on pinterest and knew I just had to make them!

Aren’t they lovely?! I didn’t have such cute fabric and didn’t have time to buy any as I was in a hurry to make something for my literally-just-born baby cousin. So I rooted about in my scrap box and made this little beauty.

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There’s a bonus picture there of the recipient of said owl – isn’t she cute! I haven’t met her in person yet and I can’t wait to visit in Easter.

The above owl took me over two hours to make as I wanted to make all the stitching super-secure so almost no amount of pulling or chewing would cause things to become unattached, and so that the owl can be machine washed. I have made two more since then for my Mum and Boyfriend (who were both ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the first one) and they were quicker as the super-robust stitching wasn’t so important.

I’m afraid I really dropped the ball on doing progressive pictures of this… I managed a grand total of ONE in progress pic, lol, sorry! But the blog which was the original inspiration for this has pretty much the perfect instructions, so for a how-to, go here:



The one piece of advice I have is don’t use stretchy fabric for the breast of the bird like I did for the owl on the left as it will expand so that you don’t see as much of the back fabric from the front, which doesn’t look so nice, stick to a good woven cotton or something fluffy like my first own and you should be fine :)


Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Banana Lumpia

Today I was catching up on my blogs (I subscribe to so many and do binge blog reading when I get an hour free) and I read this lovely recipe from one of my favourite food blogs, Half Baked Harvest. Tieghan’s photos are just gorgeous and I knew I couldn’t possibly resist making her ‘Sweet Banana Lumpia’ RIGHT NOW.

So I did.

I adapted her recipe a bit as I didn’t have all the ingredients. For my wrappers I used rice pancakes (the kind you use to wrap up crispy aromatic duck)

Banana Lumpia

I also used some runny honey (which I zapped in the microwave to make it even runnier) and some melted butter. I first brushed each pancake with water to make them more pliable then with honey, laid the banana pieces on top and wrapped up into a neat parcel. When I had six wraps I brushed them all over with the melted butter.

Banana Lumpia

Here they are ready for the oven.

I then made the coconut-chocolate dipping sauce. I combined the left over butter and honey (waste not want not) with some shavings from a block of creamed coconut and three squares of dark chocolate and melted in the microwave.

Coconut dipping sauce

This resulted in a silky shiny sauce which has stayed liquid all evening.

The final finished result looked like this:

Banana Lumpia

Very glad to have tried this tasty Filipino treat!

Day 8: LGBTQ

Today and for most of this week I’ve been enjoying the wonderful internet presence of the LGBTQ community. It was always a foregone conclusion that I would be a massive gay rights advocate and gay supporter in general, two or my closest friends are gay and I would describe my own orientation as flexible – I don’t really fit in a box, but I certainly come somewhere under the LGBTQ heading.

So today I’m going to share with you my favourite online LGBTQ moments which are a source of inspiration and joy. Enjoy.

Firstly, for those who want to know what the hell LGBTQ means, here’s a lovely helpful video:

Next, transguy Sam’s wonderful blog/comic strip: you should totally check it out.

Some gay humour (with a meaningful message – which must have worked!)

Bria and Chrissy! Gorgeous singing comedy-video-making couple, you should totally check out their entire channel.

The wonderful Arielle Scarcella’s ‘Lesbians explain’ series (I just love her voice, I don’t know what American accent that it, but it’s great)

And now a few of the sort of videos that make me cry… with happiness :)

So thank you LGBTQ’s, your words of wisdom, compassion and love are always at the forefront of Upworthy, the Huffington Post and TEDx talks – for good reason! To everyone like George Takei, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Degeneres, Laverne Cox, Ian Mckellen, Jane Lynch and so many more you make the world a better place.

I’m so pleased I have lived to see gay marriage legislation be passed in the UK and America, but so many gay and transgender adults, teens and children still need compassion and support. Share videos, promote knowledge, celebrate love, condemn hate and support good causes like The Trevor Project.

And now because I got a bit preachy…

One love.

Day 2: China

I’m currently home alone for about 7-10 days, so when I can, I’m going to blog about what I get up to. Today I’m inspired by China. It’s no secret that I love China, I have three Chinese cooking books, I’m learning Mandarin, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to the orient and for Christmas, I received the DVD of the BBC series ‘Wild China‘ which I watched the first episode from today. Here’s a screen capture I took – this is Zhong Dong, a school  of 200 pupils and village of twenty-odd families all housed in a massive cave.Zhong Dong Cave SchoolI just can’t get over the scale of China, the terraced rice paddies

Over fifty ethnic groups (all portrayed wonderfully in Tom Carter’s China: Portrait of a People)

So today, to celebrate China I cooked Xi Fan or ‘watery rice’ a recipe I have wanted to try for a long time, from one of my favourite Chinese chef’s books:

DSCF9044 I altered Ching’s recipe slightly as I don’t like coriander and didn’t have any beansprouts, so I added instead spring onions and broccoli. The recipe calls for brown rice, mixed grains +pulses (‘healthy grain mix’ or ‘country soup mix’), ginger, garlic, diced carrot and stock cooked together for a long time (I left mine for an hour while I made some phone calls). Ching’s recipe is a fond remembrance of her’s from her childhood where her traditional grandparents would make this for breakfast, and I can see why, though it has a good savoury taste it has the same comfort-factor of porridge – and the same carb-heavy fill-you-up-till-lunchtime quality. It was delicious. And though it isn’t the most beautiful looking dish, I thoroughly receomend you try it out.

Xi fan