Wednesday, 29 April 2015

96. April Favourites

Hello everyone, it's monthly favourites time and as it's April, I have 4 for you. They're quite diverse this month with two technology favourites, a TV and a fashion one too.

1) Back in Time for Dinner- This and Gogglebox are the only shows I have been watching during April as I have been busy writing my dissertation and also because there is nothing else good on TV! For those of you who haven't seen Back in Time for Dinner, one family spend 50 days living through 50 years, it's a bit like Doctor Who on a smaller scale and centred around food rather than battling Daleks. The family are an absolutely lovely bunch and they were so funny! Each episode follows the family through a decade from 1950-2000 and the final episode was about food in the future. I absolutely loved it when the Mum got so excited over the fridge. It makes such a nice change to the regular shows about food which are all about cooking. Food history is so interesting. It is still available on iPlayer and can be found here.

Can you guess which decade this is?
2) Photo Grid app - I could not believe that I've not included this in my favourites previously because this is such a useful app. Usually when I've been out with friends or it's a special occasion, it's so much better to just post a collage on Instagram instead of loads of individual photos clogging up other people's feeds. It's free too so what more could you want! Android users can find it here.

3) Black Deena and Ozzy Croc Angular Backpack - I realised that I didn't have a "smart" backpack in my bag collection and I wanted a new everyday bag as well so after a look around on the Topshop, Asos, Zara and Accessorize websites, I finally found THE ONE on the Urban Outifitters website. It goes with everything, is the perfect size, it's well made and has compartments! The straps are easily adjustable and wide enough to stay on your shoulders. The drawstring and two button fastenings makes it secure and you do have 2 zipped compartments for things like your keys or phone. The croc detail is a nice touch and the angular shape of the flap makes it a bit different to other backpacks. It is also available in a tan colour if that's more your thing but I bought a tan bag from Accessorize a few months ago so decided to mix it up a bit and go for black. If you would like me to film an updated What's in my Bag video featuring this backpack then comment below.

I really like this zipped compartment at the back to gain access to things like a bus pass
 or earphones without even having to open the bag when you're travelling.

4) Sony a5000 with 16-50 mm kit lens - I bought a new camera after having my Nikon P520 for 14 months. The Nikon was very good but the size just wasn't practical for my lifestyle and I wanted a camera with an interchangeable lens so I can experiment with photography more. I purchased the Sony a5000 as it has a tilt screen like the Nikon P520 but it is much more compact and you can change the lens. Honestly, I regret staying loyal to Nikon for 5 years as this camera is miles better in terms of photo quality and also, the Wi-Fi feature on this makes sharing photos so much easier. I also love the ? button which provides a description of what each setting does. Below are some sample photos taken with the camera around our house and garden and a couple of the camera itself. 

If I ever get married, it will have to be in Spring just like the great man himself, Andy Murray! How beautiful did Kim, Andy, Judy and everyone else look?
This camera is awesome!

All photos in my previous post were also taken with this camera if you'd like to look at some more sample photos. 

Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x

Sunday, 26 April 2015

95. What to Bake for a Charity Bake Sale

Hello everyone, I hope you're all well. For the past few weeks I have been working on my final ever piece of coursework day and night but on Wednesday afternoon, I swapped my laptop for my mixing bowl because this week was Parkinson's Awareness Week (if you haven't already checked out my post about this year's campaign then click here) so I decided to raise some money for Parkinson's UK by putting on a bake sale at university. My lovely friend Alex helped to sell the cakes and set up the stand on the day. Also, Alex and her Mum baked some mini blueberry muffins and a gorgeous Victoria sponge. We managed to raise £75! :D Although most of you won't have been able to come to the bake sale, you can still donate £3 to Parkinson's UK by texting FRIENDLY to 70300. I thought I would do a post to share some photos of what I baked and why. Also, if you're planning on running a bake sale then this post may provide you with some inspiration. Enjoy!

The first thing I baked on Wednesday were The Londoner's infamous Sl***y Brownies because who could resist the temptation of an Oreo and Cookie Dough Brownie. If you're going to have brownies at your bake sale, why have any old brownie when you can have these? I made these for the first time one weekend last June and ate most of the batch whilst watching the French Open and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2. These are dangerously easy to make which is why I avoid having the ingredients in the house for them to keep the number of chins I have at a minimum! Check out Rosie's recipe here. Also, I bought a new camera this week so I hope the photo quality is okay!

Now although a lot of people love chocolate, there are some who aren't too keen on it and prefer something slightly healthier and lighter (depending on whether you think cake can ever be healthy) but with the next three bakes, you get at least some of your 5 a day in (probably about 0.25 but hey, it's better than nothing). 

First up are my raspberry ripple cupcakes which some of you may remember me baking for my last birthday. I came up with this recipe and I have to say, these are my favourite ever cakes even though I may say so myself. The raspberries just balance out the sweetness so well and the soft cheese icing is much lighter than a traditional buttercream. You can find my  raspberry ripple cupcake recipe here.

I love how the cake mixture has a slightly pink tint to it.

Almost done!

Et voila!

The other "healthier than Sl***y brownies" bake was lemon drizzle and I had to include it because it is just such a classic that is simple to make too. You can find this recipe and another bonus one here!

If you're not a fan of the tart flavour of both raspberries and lemons then blueberries are a great alternative whilst still keeping it healthy! Alex baked these adorable mini blueberry muffins :D I love the pops of gorgeous violet dotted throughout the cakes.

We all thought this one looked like a shark! *cue Jaws theme tune*

Parkinson's UK very kindly sent me some adorable cake flags that I had to simply put to good use so I also baked some vanilla buttercream cupcakes. These are great for any bake sale because you can colour the buttercream the same colour as the charity you are supporting and decorate the cupcakes however else you wish. Also, these vanilla cupcakes are a great option for people who don't like strong flavours such as chocolate, lemon or raspberrry.

One man who bought a cake said not many United fans would be buying these,
 I see where he's coming from because the icing is a Manchester City blue!

 Up Your Friendly!

Similar to the vanilla cupcakes, a Victoria Sponge is also a classic, very easy to bake and you really can't go wrong with it. Here's the yummy one that Alex's Mum baked! (Sorry the photo is so blurred)

Finally, to add some crunch to your bake sale and to make sure those biscuit lovers and the Cookie Monster are catered for, I'd recommend baking Tanya Burr's Milk and White Chocolate cookies. Packed full of Dairy Milk and Milkybar, these are the biggest and best cookies that you and your customers will ever taste. You can watch Tanya's recipe video here.

I hope this post hasn't left you feeling too hungry and has inspired you to run a bake sale or just bake for your friends and family! 
Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x

Monday, 20 April 2015

94. Parkinson's Awareness Week 2015- 3 Ways YOU Can Up Your Friendly

Hello everyone, yes it's that wonderful time of the year again- Parkinson's Awareness Week and this year's campaign is all about getting the public to up their friendly, why you may ask? Well, many people with Parkinson's find it difficult to do everyday activities like queuing or travelling on public transport due to the symptoms of the condition so the last thing they need is people being unpleasant. Some of you may not be aware of what Parkinson's Disease is so I shall leave all the contact details for Parkinson's UK at the end of this post so you can find out more. Also, those of you who are affected by the condition may wish to find out how to get some information and support from the charity. Regular readers will know that I am a fan of lists so what better way of telling you all how you can up your friendly!

1) If you have nothing nice to say then don't say it! I know it's a well known saying but a common misconception is that only old people suffer with Parkinson's, it's bad enough that anyone has it regardless of gender, ethnicity or age so by saying something like "Oh, I thought only old people got that" would make me personally (I don't know about anyone else) think "Oh sorry for not meeting the criteria but it's not like I chose to get Parkinson's'". Just think before you speak.

2) Don't stare. Instead of standing there making someone feel even more uncomfortable than they already are whilst they perhaps struggle with opening their umbrella at the bus stop or find it difficult to open a shop door, it won't hurt to ask them if they need help or if they're okay. It will make you feel good on the inside too I promise, go on, try it. Let's be honest, altruism must have played a role in our success as a species.

3) Listen to someone who has Parkinson's and be there for them, it's not contagious. Although James Parkinson first described the condition in his famous piece "An Essay on the Shaking Palsy" almost 200 years ago, people haven't yet acknowledged that there's more to the condition than shaking. Can you imagine what it must be like to live with an incurable condition which prevents you from smiling at a family occasion for a photo as your facial muscles are affected or affects the volume and your ability to speak? I have read so many stories both on the Parkinson's UK forum and also in their quarterly magazine, The Parkinson, about people's families and friends just abandoning them after diagnosis and my Mum and I have also experienced this personally too. How would you feel in that situation when you need your loved ones the most?

If the tips above have made you determined to up YOUR friendly then visit to put the advice into action otherwise Major Ted.E.Bear and his friends are coming for you!

Also, I'll be running a bake sale this Thursday at university to raise money for Parkinson's UK but if you're unable to pop by for a slice of lemon drizzle or a chocolate chip cookie then fear not my friends, you can still donate by texting FRIENDLY to 70300 to donate £3! 

To find out more, here are the Parkinson's UK contact details :

Helpline: 0808 800 0303 

Up your friendly and spread the word! Let's make this Parkinson's Awareness Week the most successful one yet! 

Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep (or for this week, Mancunian Bear!) x

Saturday, 11 April 2015

93. Ziferblat Edge Street, Manchester

Hello everyone, so after wanting to desperately visit this place for over 2 months since it first opened, I FINALLY got round to going to Ziferblat twice this week with three of my closest pals! For those of you who have not heard of Ziferblat before, it is derived from the German and Russian word for clock face "Ziferblatt" and is one of a chain of meeting spaces that are found across Europe. It differs from a standard cafe as the only thing you pay for is the time you spend there, at a flat rate of 5 pence per minute - the tea, toast, biscuits, cakes, cereal, Wi-Fi and everything else are free. It opened in Manchester's Northern Quarter in February 2015 and the only other one in the UK at the moment is in London but there are plans to open more as far as I'm aware. I think it is a brilliant concept and I love Ziferblat for many reasons:
  • It's cheap so is perfect for students and everyone else really!
  • The staff are very friendly and so inviting.
  • They have possibly every flavour of Twinings that there is, what more could you ask for?
  • It's really spacious and cosy at the same time so you can work and meet in a relaxed environment.
  • They have board games- Misbah and I played Connect 4, Snakes and Ladders and Operation for the first time in years today!
  • It feels so good to support a local business and you don't feel pressured to rush your overpriced hot drink and cake in a branch of a well known tax evading coffee chain.
  • They have lots of events going on that you can get involved in like harmonica lessons, yoga and knitting.
  • It's so great to have a meeting place in Manchester City Centre where you aren't forced to buy food and/or drinks. My friends and I once sat in a Costa for the best part of 4 hours and only one of us bought a drink, how we got away with that, I will never know so Ziferblat is the perfect place for people like us! Now all we need is a decent park in Manchester City Centre!
  • The interior is your typical Nan's front room, the armchairs are super comfortable! My friends and I loved the bookshelf wallpaper. Here are some photos so you can see for yourself:

Have any of you visited the Ziferblat in Manchester or any of the others, what did you think of it?

Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x

Friday, 10 April 2015

92. My Degree Playlist

Hello everyone, I'm currently writing my final ever piece of coursework and revising for my last ever exams (hooray!) so started thinking about the songs that have got me through revision and assignments over the past three years and songs that reminds me of good times at university too!

1) Florence and the Machine - Spectrum. During my very first week at university, we went on a trip to Risley Moss which is a nature reserve not far from Manchester and on the way, I was listening to this song and spotted a rainbow out of the coach window which is essentially a spectrum of colours, how very apt?!

2) Adele - Skyfall. I think this was actually the first film I went to see during university and I remember seeing buses which had a photo of Daniel Craig printed on the entire bus near our campus.

3) Everything Everything - Cough Cough. I remember listening to this song a lot during my first semester, it's just so upbeat and exactly what I needed after finishing labs at 5pm on Tuesdays and during some weeks, on Fridays too. 

4) Disclosure - F for You. I listened to this a lot during the second semester of first year but one time that sticks out was the day of the fashion show that I had been working on with my mentees during the 5 month voluntary mentoring project I did during first year and I just came home and relaxed as I had been at uni/mentoring from 9am -8pm that day and this was the perfect song to unwind to. I loved mentoring and it is one of the best things I did at uni, a fab way to meet lots of new people from all walks of life. There are a few versions of this song but the original is my favourite.

5) Jake Bugg - Two Fingers. I was lucky enough to see Jake Bugg live at the Manchester Apollo in November 2013 and I couldn't get over the fact he was the same age as me but has done so well! We had so many deadlines around the time of the gig so it was exactly the break I needed. I love this song because the lyrics are so honest and there are some days when we all feel like sticking two fingers up to yesterday to get on with life. 

6) Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know? AM basically got me through my whole second year, I listened to it on repeat when I was making notes for my first semester lectures and then when I was writing my dissertation on Parkinson's Disease in second semester. I stopped listening to it as much for a few months but when I saw their set at Reading (unfortunately only on television), it reignited my love for this wonderful record. It is one of my favourite albums ever so it was very difficult to choose a single song but I went with the first track off the album because I still can't put my air guitar away whenever I hear it (unless I'm at the gym because that would be dangerous and embarrassing).

7) Clean Bandit - Rather Be. This time last year, this song was everywhere and I was lucky enough to see them at Manchester Academy last October and they were superb! This song just makes me happy, the video is great (I genuinely thought the girl in the video was singing it at first) and it was the song of summer 2014 for me.

8) Ed Sheeran- Sing. I had this and Rather Be on repeat during library sessions revising for exams last summer and they certainly got me through plant biology, evolution and immunology revision. I genuinely thought Ed was Justin Timberlake when I heard Sing for the first time. He's such a nice chap and genuinely deserves all of his success. Andy Murray is a fan too which makes him even better (can't wait for the best wedding the tennis world has seen tomorrow, I do hope they share some photos despite keeping it private). Also, I like Pharrell's new range for Adidas Originals, all the colours are beautiful.

9) Years & Years - Real. During my internship, I asked one of my fellow interns if she would like to come to see Clean Bandit with me and she said yes so then we did some investigating to see who the support act was and found out that it was these guys. For most of our internship, both of us had this on repeat, it is so catchy! Thank goodness for earphones otherwise we would have driven the other intern crazy. What makes this song even better is the fact that Ben Whishaw who stars as Q in Skyfall dances like nobody's watching in the video (not sure if 007 would approve).

10) Taylor Swift - Blank Space. Just like I listened to AM a lot whilst writing my dissertation, I listened to this, Wham and S Club 7's (don't judge, they are so motivational) greatest hits a lot when writing my literature review during the first semester of final year. I could have chosen Don't Stop Movin' or I'm Your Man but thought it would be best to keep it current and this song made me like Taylor Swift especially as she loves cats and does nice things like surprising her superfans (I'm not a Swiftie) with presents and visiting them. 

Others that failed to make it into my top 10 include Bauer's Harlem Shake, Psy's Gangnam Style and Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines for pretty obvious reasons, the amount of people who did parodies at university of the Harlem Shake was ridiculous but I do approve of Greg James' parody of Blurred Lines.

Which songs would be on your degree playlist?

Until next time, take care.

Mancunian Sheep x

Monday, 6 April 2015

91. What I Got Up To In 2003

Hello everyone, hope you're all having a good Easter weekend. Apologies but there will be no new post this weekend as I have instead filmed a video of me reading my diary from when I was 9! If you haven't already subscribed to my channel then do it because what have you got to lose? Enjoy!

Until next time, take care.
Mancunian Sheep x