Saturday, 31 December 2011

PITTSBURGH: Driving Around

This is where I wish I knew something really informative about Pittsburgh to make this post at least half interesting, but I don't so I'm relying on one of my trusty tourist guides. Historically Pittsburgh was secured by George Washington in 1753 - the result of the strategic importance of the Allegheny and Monongahela joining to become the Ohio River and as the base for continued western expansion by the British. With a history of settlers and industry, Pittsburgh today with its somewhat depleted backbone of steel its often considered to be on the verge of vast prosperity. It is also the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers [NFL team], Andy Warhol museum and a museum all about Heinz.

The view we got of Pittsburgh was via a very quick drive around on Christmas Eve and again as a cut through to our hotel on the same evening. Our trip coincided with an NFL game so a lot of the drive was spent in long queues around Heinz Field. From the short trip drive we had, there seems to be plenty of places to visit and act as tourists and downtown looked gorgeous all lit up at night - definitely will be going back for a long weekend there hopefully in a nice hotel overlooking the river.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

LIFE: Christmas Gifts

Yeap FIVE books about vintage powder compacts - I'm determined to know everything I can about my little addiction! There probably aren't that many books left to get hold of now and Joe wanted to replace the one I had to leave back in the UK because it was just too heavy to do anything with - now I have so many! I've started reading Compacts; Powder and Paint [book on the top] which is full of details and photographs - so good.
Three vintage powder compacts which are actually rather rare and interesting ones and all appear in the above reference books. The Chicago one is from 1933 and marks the World Fair held in the city - Joe actually gave me this compact as an early Christmas present just after we got back from our honeymoon. The red gazelle compact is huge and made from leather [brand escapes me currently] and the envelope style is a famous Coty compact. I'll post more detailed individually about them all soon once I've cleaned them up a little.
The kitty PJS I picked out from Soma [a posh La Senza like shop] when we were in Chicago and they are so so comfy and soft to wear, additionally there is a copy of the original manufacturers guide to using my vintage 1942 Kenmore sewing machine that Joe brought me for my birthday, and just missing out on the top of the photograph is a collection book of some of Daphne du Maurier's work.

Me and Joe where just buying for each other this year and as you can see I'm easily pleased - that and my boy knows me well enough to know what I love. When I left the UK I had to leave a lot of my books behind so my boy's being helping me to replace the ones I had to leave and I've reached the geeky point when I want to know everything about vintage compacts - hence all the books. I also got the Vivian Maier photograph book which I blogged about its one of the most gorgeous books I've ever owned but it missed out on being photographed somehow. Compared to some we didn't have a huge Christmas gift giving, it was just lovely for us to have our first proper Christmas physically together - that was enough for me.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

ROADTRIP: Driving to Pennsylvania

On Friday we drove a seven hour drive down from Michigan, across Ohio to Pennsylvania for Joe to see his family at Christmas. If you don't know, Michigan itself is a rather flat state or at least in the south eastern corner where we live is, and to a point is Ohio. But as a Yorkshire girl I'm use to hills and moors and the closer you got to the Pennsylvanian border, the hills started to appear and the larger they got! Driving around the suburbs of Pittsburgh and it's countryside it felt very much like Scotland at times - curvy roads bordered by rolling steep slopes covered in trees and streams running alongside. It was really picturesque and I'd love to explore the state more. The trip itself was good - Joe has a HUGE family and we only saw a 1/3 of them all but that was intense enough - as an only child with a family that is far from close it got a little much for me but we still had fun [ignoring certain comments about how the husband failed to go home to see family members yet had enough money to come to the UK to visit me as if I was at fault which made me rather upset]. Ignoring that, it was fun and takes nothing away from the state itself.

Friday, 23 December 2011

LIFE: Christmas Times

Ed trying to assist in wrapping Joe's Christmas presents - well I'm sure she thought she was helping.
Presents and PJS

This morning's been spent packing up our suitcase for another adventure - this time to see Joe's family in Pennsylvania - although I feel like I'm being thrown into the deep end having to meet everyone at once. We're looking at a 7/8 hour drive on a day when most people will be starting to make their journeys for Christmas so we've been buying plenty of supplies for the trip. We're spending our nights in a motel so it will be odd waking up on Christmas morning and not having a tree to open presents by. As it's our first physical Christmas together we've probably gone a little over the top with the presents we've both brought each other. I do love spoiling Joe though - he really is worth it and for once we're not limited by weight or the hideous shipping costs dictated by the Post Office. I had a lazy day on Tuesday wrapping all his presents in my pj's watching Miracle on 34th Street and as I write this post White Christmas is playing on the TV - it's taken a while [possibly because I'm not at "home"] to get into that Christmas mood but I'm getting there. And we got our first Mr and Mrs Christmas card - that made me unbelievably happy.

All that is left to say is I wish every reader a very  
Merry Christmas 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

LIFE: Trans Siberian Orchestra

I thought I would try and sandwich in one of my slightly normal Sunday photograph posts between the wedding and the huge wave of Chicago Honeymoon posts that I'll start posting next. After having five amazing nights in Chicago it was back to reality in Detroit yet we've still managed to pack in some fun before the boy heads back to work tomorrow. Yesterday we went to see one of the boy's favourite musical acts - the Trans Siberian Orchestra. I will admit to knowing only a couple of their pieces but the whole act was mind blowing with huge pyrotechnics, strobe lighting, moving stages and a lot of head banging. The rest of the weekend has been spent constructing our goodies from Ikea [yes even America as Ikea]. We spent some of our wedding money getting our flat more homely - we brought a new TV stand come storage piece, a huge new bookcase and three chairs to go with our new kitchen/dining table [saved from our friends basement]. I have a love for putting together Ikea goodies anyway, but its rather fun doing it together. I guess it would be wrong not to mention Christmas seeing it's practically here - we booked our trip down to Pittsburgh to see some of Joe's family which is somewhat daunting for me seeing i've only met his Gran so far. This week I still have to finish off my Christmas shopping, wrap all of the husbands pressies and probably finish off the Ikea jigsaw of goodies!

Saturday, 17 December 2011


"When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident".

Our wedding day and one of our readings from Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Invites to a venue

When you start making your wedding a little crafty and homemade that is when the fun really starts. We wanted to make our wedding personal to us, rather then having the same old invites you can print out and in fact doing it ourselves worked out a cheaper and I think the outcome is more lovely overall. We brought our personalised stamp from Etsy and made our postcard size and style invites on a cold early spring evening in Edinburgh on our holiday last March. It's a stamp we hope to use over and over for thank yous and so on.

Our wedding venue we stumbled across on the internet. When we originally started hunting for a venue it was one of the first we found, we loved it for a while, then dismissed it, then fell back in love with it. It's a simple white ranch house in a little quiet area of Ann Arbor here in Michigan called the Tea Cup Wedding house. When it came to our actual wedding day I was parted from my beloved camera so I couldn't get the chance to take all the photographs that I would have [all the little details of the room and such] so i'm relaying on internet images for those of the house and inside just to give you, the readers a bigger picture of what we had for our special day. We had a really simple contemporary ceremony and our vows reflected us and our relationship amazingly well.

Afterwards we all headed down to downtown Ann Arbor for our wedding meal in a gorgeous Italian restaurant called Grazti. There we had the most yummist of meals, drank a lot of posh expensive wine and generally had a really good time. In reflection it was the most amazing day we could have ever asked for.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

All the little wedding things

Until you get married you forget all the added extras that come into call for your outfit. The back history is that I'm on my third dress for the wedding, after falling out with the first and the second not fitting. With the second result I went into panic overdrive and with only a week left before the wedding the hunt was really on. Then I stumbled over this little sheer knee length, sleeved dress from Forever 21. Its a gorgeous rich peachy colour and from the moment I tried it on, I knew it was the one. While it's not a traditional wedding dress as such, colour or design wise it's totally me. Our wedding venue was a little different, our vows were contemporary [they made me cry every time I read them and the selected reading before the day] but this all reflects us, and our wishes for our day. I guess when you pay for it all and organise it yourselves rather then having families involved you get that added extra freedom.

I have been very silent on blogger and twitter for the past week but now we're back from our honeymoon [five nights in Chicago] i'll find the time to bombard you with tales and loads of photographs of our adventures [will be hard narrowing down from the 450+ photos that I took]. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


I feel we're being extravagant getting flowers for the wedding, we're having a tiny wedding with around 6-8 guests [depending on who actually shows] and with not having a conventional wedding dress, having flowers seems to me a little odd. But I kind of wanted some. It's also one of the elements we left a little late, having only getting around to getting out to places on Tuesday. But luckily the first place we went too was the place that had the bouquet I had to have. We had old photographs of great aunts upon the Palace Green in Durham after getting married holding huge bouquets with trailing ivy and seeing this one with just that made it feel like they were meant to be mine. Plus ivy itself makes it a bit more seasonal. 

The truth is these flowers are fake. 

I'm not sure how I feel admitting that, but I guess having fake flowers do have some benefits, with going on the honeymoon on Friday we would never get to enjoy having real flowers in the apartment, plus any flowery fragrance may be tempted to add to our sneezes. Plus this way, I at least get to keep them for as long as I ever want too and like they are sitting now, they make a gorgeous center piece for our new kitchen table.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thursday and a wedding ...

One element that possibly has been lacking on the blog post front is mentions of our wedding. This in part is through Joe having my blog as has home page [so mentioning of clothes and outfits go out the window because it doesn't want to see or know anything about what i'm wearing before Thursday]. Perhaps it reflects us as people - we're rather laid back about our wedding and we've never felt the need to go on and on about our day or us, we've never been ott about your relationship. But its come to the point where it's only days away and most of the details and plans are in order, well most of them so I thought I should start sharing the details with you all.

I thought I would start with our wedding rings. Joe's ring is made from tungsten which we managed to hunt down in JCPennys [American department store] I love it for it's simplicity, it's thickness and it's little edging design.  My ring is platinum and is a gift from Joe's gran to myself. In fact it's a ring Joe's grandad brought for her and it fits perfectly - which is amazing when i have such tiny fingers. Additionally it matches well with my white gold engagement ring. I love knowing my ring has a  history and one that is filled with love. I know both Joe's gran and his grandads memory are really important in his life and i'm glad they have an important part in our wedding even if his grandad can't be there in person to share in our special day.

Monday, 5 December 2011


I get ridiculously dry hands, more so if they have been within splashing distance of water or cold weather. I've also been known to try a lot of products to find something that solves this problem or at least offers a little assistance. For the past couple of years I've been using Lush products to try and help me. After moving to America with just a minimal supply of Smitten we needed to call in and check out the American version of one Britain's high street names. In addition Lush so far as been the only place where people have noticed, or at least mentioned my British accent, in and "omg your from where Lush is from" moment. Err Yeah.

Anyway, back to the point. The assistant recommended the Ultrabalm product in particular. Lush themselves credit Ultrabalm as being "an instant classic. Restoring, soothing, protecting, relieving, moisturising. There's nothing this petroleum-free balm can't do" [it is actually a body balm for super dry areas or even works as a lip balm apparently]. But for the sake of this post this is just a review regarding using it as a hand cream seeing I haven't tested it out on other bodily areas.

Coming in a tin [rather then the traditional black pots] it's a handy size to pop into your bag. It's selling point is that it's the natural version of Vaseline, that in itself should have sounded warning in my head - Vaseline [natural or otherwise] dries my skin out badly, saying that I thought it would be worth a go. While it doesn't have the greasy Vaseline consistency, it's not as creamy nor is fragrant, [it has a slightly odd, mildly off putting smell]. What I've found with all hand creams Lush produce is how well they last on application, this is additionally true with Ultrabalm but I've found that it does require two applications to get to the feeling that they have been moisturised enough.

Overall it works for what it's meant to but I'm not overall impressed with it like their previous offerings. Maybe because it is lacking that lovely smell you associate with Lush or because it doesn't have that creamy consistency I've come to like. As a multipurpose dry skin healer perhaps is has a use but just for dry hands I think I'll go back to using more creamy offerings particularly designed for that area.

Ultrabalm retails for $12.95 in the USA, £8.25 in the UK, this product was purchased with my own money and not endorsed by Lush.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Redford Theatre

On Friday night we went to the Redford Threatre to see the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street. Detroit's Redford Theatre originally opened in 1927 as a neighborhood cinema and now remains as Detroit's only theatre with its orginal pipe organ. Along with the organ, the three storey theater is fully decorated in an ornate Japanese style, although during WWII this was removed. The national downward trend of declining cinema goers which hit during the mid 1960s and 1970s led to many of Redford's contemporaries being demolished, yet the Redford somehow managed to survive. Today the theatre is a haven to those of us who adore old films with their biweekly showings of films from the 1930s to the 1960s. 

I was expecting the theatre to be half full if that - I was wildly surprised when it was at least three quarters full [Redford has 1,571 seats] but it was good to see that many people of all ages were interested in watching such an old film on a Friday night. The night started off with a half hour slot of live organ music - mostly film scores [Sound of Music, Hello Dolly] and the odd Christmas song, even the American national anthem. Yet to be able to see an original black and white film as it was intended to be seen was incredible, and for $4 (about £2.50) you really can't go wrong and to have a couple of hours without having to think, slot out or plan wedding things was very much welcome. Saying that it's four sleeps till the big day! 

Friday, 2 December 2011

MICHIGAN: CHRISTmas wonderland

Pick a colour, any colour and  you'd find a huge collection of decorations of all shapes and sizes. This was just one tiny selection of the blue baubles.

To visit Bronners CHRISTmas Wonderland just outside Frankenmuth, you really need to be a fan of all things festive. It is one HUGE store dedicated to Christmas all year round, with apparently over 6,00 kinds of glass ornaments, hundreds of decorated Christmas trees, figurines, tinsel, Bibles and toys. Everything you could ever need to celebrate the big day. Yet it was one of those places could be totally overwhelming, you could easily get lost within a place that big and the products on offer were not that cheap [$9 before tax which is about £5.75ish], although they do offer free personalisation upon a lot of the baubles and stockings. You could get decorations with your job, your age, your name adorned upon them.

The grounds is apparently home to the chapel where the carol Silent Night was first sung in 1818 [thank you to my trusty facts in my Michigan tourist guide]. It was worth a visit, but I don't think i'd be returning quickly within three months of Christmas, perhaps March when its quiet would be a better. But like everything, American's as far as i'm seeing tend to do Christmas bigger and more brasher then the UK. We put our Christmas tree up on Thanks Giving but I've been seeing them up since the day I landed - you'd never get away with that in the UK.

Are you getting into the Christmas spirit?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

VINTAGE: Marhill Compact

Marhill have to be one of my favourite vintage powder compact manufactures - not only did they produce gorgeous compacts fitted with plates of mother of pearl, but they are compacts that often appear in a better condition - often spotless and unused. I often give my compacts a little clean up with a duster after purchase - this one however hasn't required anything. I already have one Marhill compact and when we spotted this flowered addition we knew we had to add it to our collection - moving to America's giving me a spurt back into collecting them seeing I couldn't bring them all over with me. Like my other Marhill this one is unused, free of powder with it's original shifter and puff, additionally it still has it's branded label upon the mirror and unlike my other, had it's original box. The box itself is nothing remarkable but its nice to have it. 

Manufacturing during the 1950's, Marhill used slabs of mother of pearl upon their products [alongside compacts they made cigarette holders, cases and lipsticks] upon which a decoration is sometimes engraved or stuck upon. With regards to this compact two flowers cross, the flower head of one finished off with a little stuck on gem stone. Mother of pearl itself is delicious - the colours and the waves of the toning upon the stone is pure beauty. One element which has always impressed me about Marhill is how sturdy their compacts are but not to the extent that they are heavy. They really are gorgeous additions if you can find them in such good condition.

There's still the compact blog poll running to the left to the screen if you have time just to quickly share your view - thank you!

Monday, 28 November 2011

FOOD: Dougnuts and Pie

Yesterday [Sunday] was the day we didn't really eat any proper food, save the burger we had at home for lunch. Seeing The Muppet's film at the cinema led to us eating a bag of buttery popcorn [where you actually dribble butter into your bag - I mean how good?!]. After the movie we drove out to the Grand Traverse Pie Shop - it's basically a shop selling gorgeous, home made pies. We brought the Mountain Berry pie - so so good. I loved the detailing on the box with the vintage lady, it came in a proper tough and rigid pie base with the pie themselves topped off with a love heart. Then the Krispy Kreme light just happened to be on the first time ever in passing the local shop. We brought a box of a dozen mixed including a snowman, chocolates one, blueberry and even a red velvet one and were even handed a hot freshly made one. I'm feeling very fat today but being in a new country means you have to sample all these foods, right?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

You know your in America when ...

You see the yellow school buses everywhere - even on non school days ...

You hunt out the "English" section of the international food aisle ...
... your lucky you can't see the prices of some of these - whoever knew you'd want to pay nearly £4 for one tiny box of Jaffa cakes?! That's alongside some of the items they claim to be "English" like most of the section of the left of the image, I've never heard of most of that stuff. Also please excuse lame blurry phone picture.

You see flags - from tiny ones to HUGE ones everywhere, from homes to car garages to drive ins, [why do we never have this sense of nationalism in the UK apart from the occasional sporting occasion?!] ...

It becomes just as easy to dine out then it does to eat in - and sometimes even cheaper ...

And one of the best parts -  sticking your Christmas tree up before December and get away with it, the fact that we put ours up on Thanks Giving felt somewhat rebellious to my English background - was a good thrill and looking around at all the homes around us - we are far from the first.

Let's not forget the debate over English verses American baked beans ... that set off a debate on my facebook - but the American version comes with bacon - and that has to be better right?

While i'm at it - you know you have an amazing amazing boy when he brings you home three bracelets he made at work for you.

Anyways i'm not really looking forward to the next couple of weeks - I probably should because we're getting married in a week and a half, but I still don't have a dress, or shoes, Joe doesn't have a suit and we don't have rings or guests confirmed. I'm having to meet some of Joe's work colleagues and I HATE meeting new people and to top it off he has his stag/bachelor do at the end of the week and I'm dreading it. Its not that I don't trust him - it's the people he's doing it with - i don't know them so it's hard to trust them. I wish we were just eloping and then running off to Chicago.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

FOOD: Adventures of the Canned Cheese

The recent exploits with the food post made me finally undertake the ordeal of trying the canned cheese. Declaring itself "made with real cheese" [as opposed to that fake stuff] it also doesn't need to be refrigerated - a can and no fridge - this sounds wrong to an English person. The Kraft brand calls it's product "easy cheese" which is a semi solid cheese-food first introduced in the 1970s. We brought the cheddar, but you can also purchase it in "Cheddar 'n Bacon", "American Flavour" and "Sharp Cheese Flavour" with the company suggesting the product can be used as a dip, within nachos and even inside an omelet [crime!] - but I'm playing it safe and trying it with cheese crackers.

The best way to think of it, is like it's squirty cream - it's in the same kind of aerosol container. To "release" said cheese you push against the actual nozzle and it squirts it's way out. It's thick and it's rubbery and it takes a bit to detach itself from the can. It's like glue.

Excuse scabby camera phone photograph.

It really is like those cheese strings that were famous for being in your pack up for a while and then vanished with the really vivid colouring. It has a very sharp, sticky somewhat powerful kind of a taste. A taste that very much isn't cheese like. Would I try it again - possibly on crackers because they are as dry as sawdust anyway and it does give them a bit of taste but never ever as a sandwich filler. That would be a crime to the taste buds. Never, ever, ever.

If you could also poke the poll on the top left of this page that would be excellent - I'm debating starting a separate blog purely for vintage compacts, guides and history. There seems to be a lack of information about them even though there seems to be an audience. Just click the poll and let me know!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Chained Vintage Powder Compact


One section of vintage powder compacts that were never easy to come across  in the UK were chained compacts. Typically American these compacts came with a chain attached to the bulk of the compact. First advertised in the late 1920s and they often have more then one compartment. Sometimes they hold rogue, space for cigarettes, lighters or lipstick, yet they never seemed to catch on over the waters in the UK [and if they are ever found, they really are rare] saying that there is very limited information around regarding chained compacts.

Somewhat reminiscent of a vanity case in its sizing and style, we managed to pick up this unused combination wrist chained compact with attached lipstick in an "antiques" shop on our drive back from Frankenmuth, I typed antiques like I did merely because it smelt and felt more like a charity shop with rows of cookie jars and random assortments of video tapes. This compact was locked up with some cigarette cases [as they often are] but after pulling it out and seeing the chain, I knew it was something special, sadly it is unmarked but i'd assume it was from the 1950sish [give or take a decade].

Clasped together the chain fastens from the center with enough length to fit over your wrist - thus allowing the lady easy access in times of need rather then having to rumble through, or even carry a bag. On the side is an attachment to hold a lipstick case and like the compact this too hasn't been used. The compact design itself is patterned with raised alternating styles of blocks and while it hasn't been used shows a little wear and tear around the edges. Opening up the compact from one side reveals a mirror, shifter and puff, and the other empty space which perhaps was used for cigarettes or in some cases stamps and small note paper. It's in a gorgeous unused condition.

Monday, 21 November 2011

MICHIGAN: Frankenmuth

Some people would be tempted to claim that Frankenmuth is merely a commercial kitsch destination - being one of the states top visitor attractions this former farming community was settled first by 15 German immigrants in 1845 yet I doubt they would recognise their former homes today. Described as "Little Bavaria" in an Americanised German manner its home to a main street of little "German" shops selling sausages, clocks and cheese, a working mill and brewery, plus it's home to the world's largest Christmas shop  and its infamous chicken dinners. We slightly forgot how much of a tourist destination Frankenmuth actually was especially seeing we were visiting on a Saturday - plus with the holiday season approaching it was super busy. We had a good poke around some of the shops - like the cheese shop, the pet store which practically sold everything [and then some] for your cats and dogs and watched some taffy [a sweet which is pretty much all sugar] and fudge being made. We treated ourselves in getting a 1lb bag of Jelly Belly's in the huge candy store - so yummy!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Food Sunday

One of the more obvious differences between the UK and the US is food. Potions are generally bigger [to the point where they are too big to finish], yet food is often cheaper here, some of it can be hit and miss but its generally eat-able. I did my first batch of home baking with cookies - recipes in the states are measured out by cup size, it seems a little less exact but the cookies came out fine so it can't be that odd. The Astoria Pastry shop in the next city is where we shared the huge strawberry shortcake  - which was delicious - the store was crammed full of freshly made pastries, cakes and treats of which we took away something for afters, of which I tried my first American cupcake [last image]. The icing was utterly yummy and overall they make a good rival for their British counterparts, again they tower them in size. One food item I still haven't had the guts to try is canned cheese; you don't even need to keep it in your fridge. The fact that they need to state that it's "real" cheese on the labelling is somewhat disturbing. I think cheese is one of the things i'm missing food wise, proper cheese that's not sliced or out of a plastic wrapper. Cheese out of a tin to a girl that loves her cheese sarnies doesn't fit well.

Friday, 18 November 2011


We'd been looking for some coasters for the new coffee table yet it was harder then you could imagine; they were either non existent or costing the Earth - even the Sally Army was wanting $4 a coaster [how?! They weren't even anything special]. Then I had the sudden and somewhat random brainwave to make some out of the wool scraps of wool we have. A quick Raverly search and twenty four hours later i've made four coasters and two larger sized ones. I'm geekily pleased with them, I haven't crocheted for ages after getting bored of making doilies, but having a purpose for making things for the apartment has helped immensely.

Wandering to Jo Ann fabrics which to a crafter [even an on off one like myself] I found as a total heaven. For some reason the UK doesn't do big craft stores as such but here, oh my! I have never seen so much crocheting or craft products and patterns under one roof. There's scrap booking, wool, fabrics, glitter, fake flowers, photo frames. One of the things I could never find in the UK was crochet patterns; to walk in and see rows of crochet patterns was amazing. I ended up getting a small booklet on crocheting blankets and four huge balls of the softest wool to make one of which I've already started [see the bottom photograph] - for less then the equivalent of £15 its cheap indeed. I'm even tempted to make another and some scarfs. The crocheting bug has been re-caught - this and baking.

Are you making anything crafty at the moment?

You can find the free coaster pattern which I used here.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

VINTAGE: Brushes

On Friday we drove to Ann Arbor, a big university city an hour west of Detroit to poke where we're getting married which in fact is in three weeks today, its in a sweet little district which had a very stereotypical feel of how you'd imagine America to be - with flags on the porch/front garden and a general store, among which was a little antiques store which we just had to pop into. It was filled with old advertisements, cookware, old lipstick containers, and while there was no compacts there was a gorgeous paddle silver brush. They were asking $10.60 [£6.62] for it so it would have been a crime, and a regret to have walked away without it.

The tale behind the brush is that it came from a house which was hit in a storm by a falling tree with the matching mirror splashing to pieces. Age has altered its once shiny appearance and i'm lost in a debate about attempting to return it back to that condition or to shine up the embellishments or leave it as it is. The lady who runs the shop calls herself the Button Lady of at least Michigan if not America [she can command up to $200 hourly in talks just about buttons], she was a lovely lady but she knew how to talk and to escape from the shop took at least an hour after we'd paid. She did suggest that I went full scale into compact collecting, it is something I've considered before but I wonder if its something too many people have converted already because of the ease and the cheapness they can be purchased. It's something to think about at least. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

DETROIT: First Trip Downtown

On Saturday me and Joe with his friend [also called Joe just to confuse matters] drove down into what you'd either call metropolitan and/or downtown Detroit which is about a 20 minute drive from where we live. American cities are pretty much a sprawling mass of suburbia - loads of cities within one huge city [if that makes sense]. I really wanted to try and see proper Detroit for myself, it has a certain image and I wanted to see how try this image was. While you do drive past [predominately once your under 8 miles] shells of former old, gorgeous buildings stand alongside buildings with a purpose, with beautiful facades. There is something about the city though, it has something that makes you want to poke under its skin, the decay is part of what makes it.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

FOOD: Johnny Rockets

A girl with a slight vintage heart couldn't turn down a trip to Johnny Rockets. It drives on providing the theme and feel of true Americana within the atmosphere and look of a 1950s diner with burgers, milkshakes, juke boxes and vintage posters. Our local one is in the Great Lakes Mall and we went up for the trip on Thursday, the mall itself is home to 200 odd shops from factory outlets to smaller independent names, including British recognisable places like The Body Shop, Forever 21, H&M and GAP. I get a bit of a thrill and an "o I know them" moment when I see brands and places I already know. At Johnny Rockets I went for the tuna melt and Joe had a burger, both were utterly delicious, eating out in America can, and is getting rather addictive. Today's note me and Joe filed our petition for the wedding licence - we totally aren't organised and it's like three weeks away but ya know, we've always just wanted an easy, relaxed wedding at least this way we'll get what we want.  

Sunday, 13 November 2011

LIFE: American Style Monday

After sorting my first lot of photographs, I thought I would show stuff from the first few days. Settling into America has been like a duck taking to water, my body fixed itself into the correct time and it's never gone back [saying that i've developed the inability of not being able to sleep past 7am]. To try and win Ed [the kitty] over was the first battle, saying that she's a gorgeous kitty with the biggest eyes but she does like to partake in staring contests. I'm trying to win her over by feeding her, its working if only slowly.

Those who follow me on twitter will know how much i'm rating the "blue" mountain dew - I know in the UK we get the green version, but my word the blue is good! My first food experience was the huge pizza from Green Lantern, apparently they're rated very highly in the area. American's know how to make their pizzas! I've developed a thing for taking photographs while Joe's driving. The roads are crazy however, coming from a rural background i've been use to two to four lanes of traffic in both directions, here it's like two or eight! Freeway driving is a bit of an experience too. In comparison British people seem very remote, keeping in the same lane, here its every car for itself with weaving and tail gating and flying off changes. Road rage is an everyday occurrence for all involved it seems. I never thought I could be this happy, life is good. 

Quick question ...

... merely because i'm not sure of the way to go and seeing your the people that read this blog more then me, it's best to provide a format that's easiest for my readers. Question is, i'm taking my normal loads of photographs since moving and trying to fit them into posts gets tricky when you could do loads of posts on the different places you go to in a day for example going into town yesterday could actually result in four or five different posts but trying to sum it all into one post would be huge. 

So I guess I'm asking, would you rather see lots of little posts telling the tale of different places or have one big photo dump detailed by day with rough overviews?!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Part eighteen - the tale of getting through the border

I thought it would be fitting to finalise this part of the visa tale with explaining the process of getting to America. A lot of what you read explains how applicants got their visa but little gets said about how they got through border control; so here's my little version for all it's worth. You buy your plane tickets as if you were a holiday maker, just at check in you declare yourself being on a visa - this is merely because airlines have to transmit passenger information and because with a visa, you don't need the visa wavier document. 

As most people who have been to America know, in flight you complete the customs declaration of checking your not bringing food, gifts or leaving anything of worth in the USA when you leave. When the airhotess pass these sheets around you may also be aware they have the a-94 form, which is merely known as the "white" form. It's basically the form visa passengers complete with address details and plane information. This form is stapled into your passport, stamped and dated with the date you need to leave the country by [unless you adjust your status]. A lot of people in the immigration queue saw me with my form and were stressing that they didn't have one - but it's only for those who don't need the visa wavier and have other paperwork. 

You might have heard some of the ongoing debates about the UK's border control with suggestions that the UK needs to adapt an American approach when it comes to people entering the country. I've heard people declaring how they were grilled about their holiday plans and why they wanted to enter America so I was fearing being dragged off for hours with all my paperwork being questioned. However in reality it was a lot more simple. I handed that delightfully huge envelope over to the immigration lady who basically went through all the papers - that was up to the point were she declared part of it was wrong - the embassy hadn't done something with one of the parts so it needed to be re validated, for which she needed an official to help - said official couldn't find my details on the database until they tried all the numbers on my forms. Finally there uncovered me, stamped my visa, stapled my form and wished me the best. In all it took forty five minutes but most of that was spent queuing and the people you deal with are friendly. You then run for your bags, get questioned again about your goods coming into America and then it was a quick dash to find the boy.

After the stress of the forms and the ten months from filing my application in consideration perhaps going through border control was realistically "easy", I think it's the nerves that push it into the scary territory. On a side note, more regular posting will occur soon, i'm not going to apologise for not being my regular posting self, i'm just catching up on eight months without my boy and befriending his cat.
Image taken from The Telegraph.


Hello everyone I wanted to say and huge and massive THANK YOU for all the comments on my last post, I quickly popped on last night and I totally was not expecting that many! While the boy's had to pop into work for the morning I have full rein over the computer [and being eagerly stared out by his cat]. I thought my body would be dealing with the change of time zones less well then it actually is - it felt really normal doing the time change even though I was up for the bus back from the hotel at 4am yesterday morning. I'll probably end up doing a full and proper post about the immigration process but lets us say the USA embassy in London forgot to re-validate one of my forms which meant a heart stopping moment at the immigration desk with two immigration offers not being able to find me on the immigration system either. Safe to say I finally appeared when they tried pretty much all my details. I was totally expecting to be fully grilled and getting dragged off into a corner to be questioned about my whole life, but they just politely asked when we was getting married.

I haven't really had chance yet to see much of the world that's now around me, we drove up to the mall last night [as a mere way of trying to keep me awake] and poked some shops - totally can't wait to go properly shopping, oh that and developing an addiction already to the blue Mountain Dew.

Monday, 7 November 2011

See you on the other side

A few people have asked if i'll still be blogging in America. The answer is a huge yes. Moving to America in honesty, will finally give my blog a bit of a backbone, for the past few months it's bugged me that my blog doesn't have a predominant theme, it was a bit of visa talk, bit of beauty or a bit photographic. Hopefully now this blog will come to capture what it's like to be an English girl living in America [in particular the suburbs of Detroit]. This will be far from becoming Americanised [chips will never be fries and colour won't become color!], or be an ode to the US of A or that i'll forget my English roots. But I want this blog to be my place to reveal the mysteries, the little random things only outsiders might notice and overall, feature the novelty of moving to such a huge country especially to a Yorkshire gal.

This next week might be quiet on the blogging front while I get settled in, coping with the body clock change and enjoy being with my boy, plus until we get an American plug for my netbook I'll be relying on grabbing control of Joe's computer. If you do want to catch up or keep in touch i'll be on twitter possibly more until the boy goes back to work. Nevertheless until I get the official American say so to work, I'll be blogging and tweeting frequently. What's more the name and look of this blog will be slightly changing, if you already follow me on twitter its linked to what i'm known as there.

So that is it for now, eleven months after sending my application I never thought I would actually be leaving the UK. A huge thank you to everyone that's ever wished me and Joe well in getting my visa; getting engaged and getting this far! It really has meant a lot to us and i hope you'll all continue to follow our next amazing chapter.

See you all on the other side!! xx

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Suitcase Sunday

One of the hardest things to juggle with moving is packing. It can become a challenge and i've sat countless times on my bed looking at my stuff wondering where to start in deciding what moves with me. I've managed to parcel a lot over already - Joe has to open them up and remind me what i've actually sent however. 

A popular question is about baggage and weight allowance. People assume with a visa you get a bigger weight allowance - if only! You book your ticket like every other passenger, no one knows your on a visa until you declare yourself. So like everyone else my weight allowance is 23kg - realistically I kept thinking that was loads, I mean i'm only packing a few cosmetic bits, some converse, couple of books and clothes. Yeah right, I've packed and repacked my suitcase three times in order to get more in and be more organised with the assistance of the bathroom scales, but i'm also working with how much I can physically lug around on public transport to and around Heathrow. 

But what do you pack? Michigan gets a bit cold so woolies are a must, I've thrown out socks to try and get other things in, my childhood teddy is packed, as to is Joe's [pictured] the remainder of my compact collection and some nail varnishes. You have to pack your visa paperwork into your hand luggage but whoever invented the size of the packet really didn't take into consideration the average backpack size [its huge]. I've managed to get my Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers book, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and my Road Trip USA book into my backpack along with my notebook, I've been eyeing up the 1Q84 book which looks an interesting read and I'll top myself up with some magazines before hand.

Yet I'm a person with the attention span of a goldfish so nearly a nine hour flight is somewhat daunting for my head sanity, so I'm asking;  

What tips do you have for self entertainment on flights or general flying tips?