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?