Thursday, 31 May 2012

The BIG interview

Lets cut to the chase about the interview yesterday - I passed! Although I'm not sure "passed" is the correct word. I'm not getting deported, I'm allowed to stay in the USA. 

And now to the details;

So we are know I was dreading the interview - I had no real idea what would happen and searching google resulted in seeing them question everything from what you did last night, to details about your partner and your sex life. I made sure to fill my folder with everything they mentioned in the letter that we were required to take, I had our photobook, cards, photographs, official documents and letters. Everything filed, everything ready. I was beyond nervous.

Our appointment was at the nearest Homeland Security building which for us is on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit. The process was similar to the one I underwent at the American Embassy in London - you let them know you're there and you wait in a huge room resembling an airport lounge with loads of screens with numbers and letters. We had to wait for my name to be called and met with the guy that was doing our interview who led us to his office. After swearing we'd tell the truth he went straight into pronouncing he'd gone through my K-1 forms yesterday [that's that huge envelope of the original paperwork dating back from January 2011 with Joe's original application, my London medical stuff and things from the embassy which I handed over at the Detroit airport] and that he was happily giving me a Green Card. Just like that. 

The waiting room where we had to wait prior to the interview - resembling an airport lounge. On the upper walls [which you can just see] they had the names and dates of famous immigrants to America - from Bob Hope to Einstein. Image source.

In five minutes he'd double checked my biographical information, talked about that we can't yet go to Canada until I actually receive my card, took a copy of the marriage certificate and said thank you for coming. 

Now I know some people who have issues with immigration and how lax it is may have issues with this process especially knowing I'm getting a green card out of it. I did think there would have been more questions, but considering the process as a whole and this being the end of the journey - we'd already handed in a lot of photographs, copies of boarding passes and been through one interview previously. Maybe it's because I'm British and not from a country they worry about. I'm glad they didn't tackle us down and question everything about our relationship because as I've said before everyone one's relationship is different. This is just our and this was our case of immigration - it might not be the same for everyone so please bare that in mind. 

So what's next? In the short term we're off to celebrate with a meal at the weekend and we need to actually wait for my green card in the post. We're off to spend the rest of the year working out where we want to live/settle down - as you know I'd love that to be in Chicago. A lot of this is dependant on things out of our control - if the economy continues to suck in the UK [or if Cameron's still in charge] then maybe we'll stay here. And its also dependent on who's living in the White House come November, I think Romney cuts could hit us hard. But who knows - I still need to get a job first. In the long run I can apply for American Citizenship in three years - it might take me that long to decide! 

Finally I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone of you that has ever wished us luck, not only for yesterday but from the very start regarding long distance relationships, moving, visa's to the wedding. You all really are the best!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Relationship Evidence

letter file

The day, the interview, the stressy thing that I'm dreading is fast approaching. Everything has been leading up to this day. The residency interview which in fact is tomorrow.

The letter has 16 main points and an additional 7 subdivision of evidence they require that they need to see to judge a marriage upon [some of which we've already submitted]. This encompasses everything from actually bringing Joe with me to photographs, tax forms, birth and wedding certificates and any correspondence ever received in relation to the application. That creates a pile of things we could take. So much that on Thursday I was sat on the living room floor swamped under all the cards and letters I'd ever sent Joe [some of them are very soppy aw] and trying to then match them to their envelopes to plane boarding tickets for evidence of Joe flying to the UK for visits, a huge photograph album of all the photographs I've got around to developing to more official documents - luckily we have two bank statements and our renters insurance - but that's it because as I've said before with only being a legal alien it's a nightmare trying to get your name officially on American things.

But how much is enough? I pulled out card/letters from me that have post marks across 2009-2011 when we were apart and the same for things Joe sent me. Seriously if anyone was going to fake a relationship they wouldn't have gone to all the soppy effort I did in writing all those cards! To the cards we were given on our wedding to cards declaring "To you're first Christmas together". Photo wise we're taking eight main photographs from our trips in York, Edinburgh, Chicago, to Christmas, the zoo and the like to taking our mini wedding photo album and the photobook I made. Yet we were never an email based couple so we don't have loads to print and after many of your suggestions I am going to print off some of my blog posts about us. 

With all this evidence you really do need somewhere to store everything and this is true for the first interview I had back in London for my visa initially. You're stressed and panicked enough without having to try and fumble through papers trying to find the one you want, so I've always swore by using a folder with dividers - keeping one section separate for different parts. For example one part has all the correspondence and photographs, another fight details and another all the Homeland security letters.  It's helps just knowing everything is organised.

As for the interview I don't really know what happens, I know Joe has to come with me and we both get interviewed but whether it's together or separately I don't know. I should probably google about it but that itself may panic me even more. What worries me is how do they classify what a relationship is? The sociologist in me keeps arguing that a relationship itself as a term is a social construct. What one couple sees as a relationship another might necessarily not. In fact one of the criticisms of long distance relationships I've often heard is that they aren't real relationships. What I do know is that what we have is real I just hope they see that because the idea of having to go back to the UK without Joe scares me so bad right now.

Be thinking of us tomorrow please - I need your luck!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Random photograph post #2


Loosing the internet through me slightly off course with the blog for a day so I've felt like I've been playing catch up since Thursday. Nevertheless when I haven't been freaking out about my residency interview on Wednesday this is what I've been doing.

Re-homing our pet cacti into an old cup after it outgrew it's original container. After seeing this DIY use of a mason jar I did want to recycle one of our jam jars [even though I'm eagerly saving them for making some jam]. Nonetheless all the jars we had were a little too small and after been jabbed, stabbed and pricked countless times trying to get the said cacti in I reverted to using a cup instead, layering the bottom with stones for drainage, then filling up with soil and topping off with more stones for a little bit of decoration. Turned out well don't you think?!

For the first time in recent history I've gained a tan on my legs - temperatures haven't really dropped below 24 degrees [at least during the day] and we're normally reaching into the mid 30s daily. As a Yorkshire lass I'm slowly getting use to the weather just by making myself be in it more - I'm just glad there's always shade under our apartment windows!

Baking for me can be really hit and miss but these brown sugar cupcakes have been an extremely big hit with those that have tried them. Although it's hard to just get away with eating and walking away after one. Lastly I won a giveaway over at The Sasse Life for a canvas of my choice by Carolyn McNee Photography. All the photography is gorgeous and it was hard to pick one image to get made up but I opted for Ayres Rock - while we've never been to Australia ourselves it's one of our dream vacations and it's were my grandad back in the day [but my gran didn't want to so they stayed in the UK]. One of the reasons why I'd love to visit Oz is for him and while he died when I was a few months old I love looking at that canvas and thinking of him.

What's been rocking your world lately?

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sally Hansen Salon Effects

Sally Hansen Salon Effects; Retails at $9.99 [Full size]

I am a girl who loves her nails being done and I've always been intrigued by the idea of using wraps especially when they state that they have no drying time. I've seen them everywhere - from drug stores to the supermarket but I've never had the chance to try them - until now when a pack was supplied in my Influenster Spring VoxBox.

The Sally Hansen Salon Effects claim last up to ten days so they would be perfect if your going on holiday and don't have to worry about your nails or just perfect for the summertime! Everything you need [16 foil wraps - mine was in the Rock Star shade, nail file and stick] is inside the pack which is really welcome and very handy. I found the instructions to be very helpful, care and easy to follow especially for a first timer like myself when it comes to the Salon Effects strips.


The Salon Effect strips come in a really handy box with everything you'll need.

Nevertheless I didn't have much luck with this product although admittedly it was the first time of trying nail wraps. The first problem I had is that I apparently have tiny sized fingers so a lot of the nail foils were too big so not only did I have to file the wraps down around the tip of the nail but also along the side and then carefully try and pull the access off. Nevertheless the straight forward filing the wraps down to size around the tip was pretty straight forward.

 My nails straight after application of the nail wraps.

However within a couple of hours I'd noticed them the first signs of chipping to the tips - with the wraps being similar to a glitter pattern it wasn't too noticeable but if they had been a straight forward plain colour then I'd of been very disappointed. They claim to withstand up to 10 days of wear, sadly mine didn't make it past three. It's not as if I do a lot of manual work with my hands, although I do a lot of typing, washing up and general cleaning and crafts. Perhaps using a strong top coat of nail varnish after application may help in the future.

I can see why they appeal and their range of shades are impressive - they have 40 in total. But in future I'd rather stick with traditional nail polishes especially because of the price. $9.99 for one use is a little expensive in my view especially when I can get a full bottle of OPI for far cheaper!

Have you ever used Sally Hansen's Salon Effects or foil wraps similar? What have you're experiences being like?

disclaimer - this product was provided complementary by Influenster for my review regardless all thoughts and images are my own.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

My summer fragrance - Bath & Body Works fine fragrance mist - Sweet Pea

Bath & Body Works Fine Fragrance Mist in Sweet Pea which retails at $14.00  for a full sized 236ml/8 fl oz bottle

The Bath and Body Works fragrances come in 20 signature scents, from White Citrus to Pink Chiffon via Moonlight Path there is a scent for everyone. I was over the moon when I was sent the fragrance in the Sweet Pea scent - a flower which reminds me of England, of flowers grown on allotments almost the runner beans. Picked and displayed in our home - their sweet light scent circulating around the room. They are one of the flowers of my childhood - and my parents did exactly that - they grew them every summer so this fragrance takes me right back, drawing out happy memories also of when I made this bouquet of home grown flowers featuring lots of sweet peas. 


Sometimes I'm a little skeptical about shop own fragrances but Bath and Body Works seem to have hit the nail on the head. The mist itself is nice and light - it's flowery but not overpowering which is great in the summer because heavy fragrances for me give me awful headaches. It's perfect for the summer, it's cool and refreshing and you really don't need a lot. However I didn't find the scent to be long lasting which is a shame because you do need to reapply. Regardless I'd consider purchasing and trying over fragrances in this set.

You can see and find out more about these signature scents and other products on the Bath and Body Works website

Have you ever tried Bath & Body Works products? What are your must have scents for the summer/

Disclosure - I received this fragrance complimentary from Influenster's Spring VoxBox scheme for reviewing purposes. All thoughts and images are my own.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Pipe Dreams and Patchwork

Patches Patches

Patchwork was one craft I always grew up around. My mam use to do it on and off for years but never really seemed to every finish anything major with it. I think that's one of the downsides to this craft - it can take a lot of time but designing, cutting and sewing before you start to make an indent in your design. I've made the odd couple of cushion covers before but only using the hexagonal shaped patches which are pretty easy to cut, make and sew together so I wanted to try and make something patchwork based to add to my hoop wall. The beauty of patchwork is that you can pretty much use any fabric you come across - mine being from the discount aisle of JoAnns, the fabric bags sheets come in to an old pair of jeans. Its recycling or maybe even up-cycling - in a crafty, pretty way. 

Patches Patches

Recently I've been having a pipe dream of making something similar and opening a shop on Etsy for things like the above and perhaps some crochet work. Sadly I don't know if my craftsmanship is up to it because they are obviously handmade and or if people would want to buy them. What do you think?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Dining out comparisons, the UK v's USA

When it comes to eating out, America seems to get it right and for a number of reasons - over here dining out can be fun - but the huge couse of places to eat can leave you stumped as to where to go. I've noticed a few differences between the UK and the USA when it comes to getting your meals cooked for you and here they are;

Not only do you get FREE top ups of certain soft drinks - your Coke, your Pepsi often without asking, iced water can come as standard in some restaurants.

Bread buns, you know those tiny little things they give you to nibble on before you're meal arrives [in particular thinking of the infamous Red Lobster] are called biscuits. I really don't know why. A biscuit is what you dunk in your tea.  

What really confused me at first was the side salads which are included in the price of your meal and are usually garden or Caesar based. The first time I was asked I was a little confused as to why and more so when they bring it out before your main meal. Yeah that threw me the first time in Red Lobster. I'd normally eat salads with my meal.

Eating with a knife AND fork is seen as posh.

There is an American perception that English food is bad, very bad and tasteless. 

Fish n Chips are edible over here, but apart from getting one huge piece of greasy battered fish, in the States you get several mid sized fillets, often served with coleslaw. Saying that I miss fish n chip shops - getting your food on a polystyrene tray, wrapped in newspaper and eating it with a wooden fork - I'd give anything for that right now!

One of the things that impresses me the most is regarding your leftovers. I remember moments in the UK of family members trying to sneak out that nice bit of meat they couldn't finish because we all knew it would just end up in the rubbish. In America your more then likely to be asked if you want a take out tray for any leftovers. So rather then your food and the money you spent on it wasting, you get something tasty to fulfill your hunger pangs. Normally I eat them up for my lunch the following day after giving them a thorough reheating. 

There's a drive thu for every kind of food you could imagine. 

Tipping in restaurants is a big thing too, which I know is why your servers are always extremely pleased and happy to see you but it really is how they make most of their money so your typically meant to leave a tip of 15% [at least in Michigan anyway]. Thankfully we have a handy little tip application on my phone for those tricky brain-dead moments of maths after a hearty meal.

And where are my favourite places to grab food? I'm partial to a Jimmy Johns [another version of a Subway], Tom's Oyster Bar [not really a chain but gorgeous seafood regardless], Red Robin [tasty burgers!], Wendys [like a MacDonalds but better and do great milkshakes] and Culvers - the best frozen yoghurt desserts ever!  Oh and how could I forget Krispy Kreme?!

What are your experiences of eating out in America? Where do you love to eat out?
I know you guys love hearing about my USA - UK comparisons and if there's anything differences you'd love me to talk about or look into then do let me know!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Detroit, Ruin Porn and what's missing

ABANDONED HOMES. That is what you the reader expect when you hear and see images of Detroit, right? The media perhaps uses those former homes to metaphorically suggest the perception of Detroit being a shell of a city, empty, lost and unloved, or as some websites state a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A camera will snap images of neglected homes, buildings, schools and streets. So why would you think that Detroit wasn't like that? 

At times the media seem hellbent on showcasing Detroit in a negative light - the newspapers you'll read will highlight endlessly blight and poverty. Photographers come and snap hundreds of images of abandoned burnt out buildings living up to the Ruin Porn craze. The media talks and photographs the Central Michigan Railway as if it is some tomb to abandonment that Detroit stands for. They snap, they write and then they leave. But their images and words recreate, continue and uphold the horrors and poverty that apparently dwells in Detroit - they write and post what people now assume Detroit to be. So why would readers like you assume Detroit to be any different when the media comes to the city and tells you what it's really like?

       Google Detroit and or Ruin Porn you'll get images like this. [Click each image for original source]

Well some people do come to Detroit - those intent on experiencing this Ruin Porn craze - but what actually is it? Its those who come to the city merely to be voyeurs on "devastation tours", to document the presumed devastation within the urban vista - to visually stimulate the sense of destruction and withdrawal. Normally they target the aforementioned Central Michigan Railway Station alongside the Fisher and Packard Plants.  Often the beauty of these places - the light steaming through semi broken windows for instance alongside their photographic skill actually turn these places into being beautiful which encourages more people to come and try it for themselves. An endless cycle. Moreover, through Ruin Porn Chayka states Detroit has become the visual symbol for us to "be reminded that it could all fail" but that it is perhaps beyond help. For them it's time to document Detroit before it falls completely. 

Yes Detroit has abandoned fired out homes, yes it has lots of vacant plots and houses I'm not going to lie. But there is much more to the urban landscape those audiences outside are ever provided as evidence. Now here is were my interests enter - I love images and I love trying to analyse them and it's what I did for my Masters. When it comes to analyzing images what has always interested me is what is missing from the photographic frame. Because what is missing is just as important, if not more so then what is being featured within any given still.

Let us sit back for a second and reflect before we get in deep. Detroit hasn't always been documented negatively. In it's era it's been the Motor City and Motown - famed for it's car industry and music but the recession hit it hard, very hard. We all know what a certain Republican now trying to run for the White House said about "Let Detroit go Bankrupt" [Although he actually forgets saying that]. We've all see store prices in increasing and redundancies yet bankers and leaders keep their hands in pocketfuls of cash. Unfortunately Detroit became the visual metaphor for the global economic decline - Detroit lets people see what the recession has done. But to the point were they tend to forget that neglected poverty stricken parts effects many cities, American and non America alike.You don't want to imagine it happening in your own backyard, and you don't have to - that's what Detroit is for, right?

Time to think about the images;

Fullscreen capture 5222012 10546 PM.bmp

The first image is what would normally be published within an article about Detroit - it's stereotypical in it's style. The home is abandoned, the wood is falling off the front, the overarching trees case it in shadow. It's forlorn, unkempt and mangled. It even appears to have suffered in a fire with no narrative we're left to wonder if the fire was accidental or arson.

Fullscreen capture 5222012 10446 PM.bmp

Yet this second image comes to show what the photographers and or editors are cropping out of their images - this is what is missing. What is missing is the truth that beside this former burnt out home is a new construction perhaps by the same owner - it's new, it's clean, light and it looks welcoming. But that isn't what people expect to see so it never gets shown. It's all too easy to document what people assume, what they already perceive.

There is no real conclusion to this post. Only to state that it's too easy to merely take a photograph at face value. What's missing, what they don't want you to see is just, if not even more important then then what's being shown. Don't come to believe there is nothing in Detroit, that is all rack and ruins because its not. But if people keep believing the city to be that way - then it's never going to be able to be given the chance for a new state. A city shouldn't be allowed to fail and Ruin Porn can't be allowed to devastate Detroit even more.

You can read more about Ruin Porn and the references for this piece on these links; Motown or Ghost Town?, Ruin Lust (Guardian article about the history behind Ruin Porn), Civic Branding; Defining Detroit through the Media

I know this post might not necessarily appeal to my normal readers but I felt I needed to write this post for both myself and for Detroit. I did my MA in semiology [study of images] because I wanted to make a difference and it's something I love. I've been disheartened in my degrees lately because they have never seemed to get me anywhere and I can never seem to find that job that's out there for me. I wanted to prove to myself I still had it in me. So if you read this to the very end, thank you.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Hole In One

Last night [Sunday] we went for an impromptu crazy golf match. I've been a fan of the crazy golf game since childhood with memories of constantly replaying the game in Keswick [Lake District] and Filey Beach on trips and holidays. Because it's a game of part luck part skill it's always been a fun game to play and with having a really fun crazy golf set up pretty close to us has been hard to ignore. The 19 holes were based around the idea of rocks and water - with huge fountains and waterfalls all around with music coming out of speakers disguised as stones - so rad!

The course itself was pretty fun - loads of holes on different levels so you had to rely on getting your ball [provided in multiple bright colours] through the right pipes and not have it floating in the water. Although the signs constantly telling you to give up after five shots didn't appeal to the British spirit inside me! Most of the holes were par 2's - we were really off on our style! But to me that adds to the fun. Joe even grabbed a hole in one but that didn't save him from loosing. I won by just won shot - purely because of luck!

You would have thought that the weather at 5pm would have began to start to cool off - how wrong was I?! If anyone knows any tips to acclimatise to heat really well and quickly then I'd love to hear them. I'm really acting as the Yorkshire lass melting in the 30 degree heat to the point were I'm even wearing shorts. I never wore shorts in the UK because of being paranoid about my legs because of thinking theyl looked huge - how times have changed. Coming home to some of the limited edition batches of Ben and Jerries [which if you shop in a Meijer are two for $6 right now] Rocky Road-ish [which has some gorgeous toasted marshmallow twirls in] certainly helped!

Friday, 18 May 2012

The "I have lots of random photos" post


Sometimes you just end up with so many photographs and not enough time to blog about them all. So I though I'd lob them all into one post and fling it out into the blogging world. I'm trying to get it into my head to stop being lazy and make a move about getting a job. But not really knowing where to start is hindering me. That and being deadly scared about my interview to stay in the USA is really putting me off.

On happier notes I've been back to my posing ways with the camera, won a cookbook giveaway from Midwestern Belle which I've been pouring and drooling over ever since it arrived. So far I've whirled up an almond cake and messed around with a lot of the versions of cooking vegs. We were getting to the point of having the same meals every week and its always nice to have a little shake up and try something new! Ed seems to have had a personality transplant lately - that or she's finally become settled again with having Smokey in the apartment. She started avoiding contact with us, there was no more snuggles with us on the sofa at night, she avoided sitting on her tower and bugging either of us when we were on the computer. We now have a very affectionate kitty back which is always nice. Although we're going to have to DIY her a little step up onto her tower [it is rather far and it's probably a fair jump for a little overweight seven year old cat].

Being English I feel compelled to talk about the weather. If anyone knows anything about Yorkshire we don't really have proper summers - a day of sunshine will most often then not be followed with a day or two of rain. I haven't seen rain for over a week and the temperatures keep in the 60 - 85s ºF [15 -  30 ºC]. Being Yorkshire in blood I'm not use to this weather and I'm totally wilting. You always miss what you don't have, right?!

So now I'm off to try and make my own Washi tape from this DIY, watch golf, play with my Smash Book [more on this soon] and carry on my dragonfly crosssitch. Good afternoon, yes?!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

What Was a Trip to Krakow

All the recent posts going around about dissertations, graduations and revision has made me remember one the best parts to my university life - our research trip to Krakow. The premise behind the trip was gaining first hand experience of the social and economic change occurring in Krakow since the fall of communism - one of our modules in human geography. About twenty of us went with two lecturers, we had to find our own way there and were constantly reminded we were there to work, not be tourists [that became a running joke]. Breakfast was eaten over the lecturers going over what we'd be doing, we'd risk our lives catching the tram [the line of which is in the middle of the road], riding taxis [the drivers were INSANE], getting off trains were you have to climb up to the platform, panicky lecturers shouting at us to move quickly when molten hot steel was being lifted over our heads in a steel mill [one of the scariest things I've ever experienced] and even visiting a Tescos. I thought take the time now to finally giving that trip some attention. 

Krakow itself seems torn between trying to create a city of culture image while not trying to forget it's historic past - which is often dark. During WWII Krakow became one of Nazi Germany's five major Jewish ghettos concentrating Jews in the Podgorze district. Sometimes WWII can become a little intangible, but when you're standing in front of what remains of ghetto walls and buildings [see photograph above] it brings it to life. As did our trip to Oswiecim - the town that became better known with the camp that was built there - Auschwitz. The towns beauty, quirky little streets, brightly coloured buildings and it's castle continues to be over shadowed by the camp. Visiting Auschwitz was a chilling experience.

With the outcome of WWII and the raise of communism a new order of social change came into affect which we saw most predominately within the planned city of Nova Huta - a city of preplanned communist propaganda and ideals based around a steel mill. What developed were towers of socialist living, vast housing blocks and avenues named after Lenin. Every avenue looks alike and tower high above you. It's daunting in its style. With the fall of communism in 1989 so too did the communist street names and the statues of their former leaders, replaced with references to Pope John Paul.

Visit Poland and you take a glimpse of it's former life. We visited in 2007 so it'd be really interesting to witness how the country had developed it's sense of self since this time. Krakow is certainly worthy of a visit, everywhere you look and go in the city it is coated in history - the good and the bad and you have to acknowledge both sides to create a future. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

How I fixed a vintage powder compact


So as I've hinted, one of the exciting goodies we found at Saturdays estate sale was a vintage compact - the first I've ever found at such a sale. To say it's seen some use would be a massive understatement but regardless of it's condition I couldn't leave without it. I always have it in my head that it's better being with my collection were it will be loved and looked after, cleaned up the best I can and welcomed then going into the trash. I want to rehome them all. I saw it's potential and then again it was only 75c.

As for it's details it's probably from the 1950s, it's a simple compact and still has a sturdy, strong hinge which is always a plus yet its missing a puff, sift and even it's top decoration which may have been a slab of say mother of pearl like my Marhill compacts. Additionally the mirror [after a clean] is in good condition so I originally considered using this one as a spare for parts. Then I had an insane brainwave [they occur sometimes and are painful] in which I thought why not create a brand new top for the compact and what better then sewing something pretty?!

I found a small rose cross stitch in the pattern book I also picked up from the estate sales and went about sewing it which only took a couple of hours. After cleaning up the compact, particularly on it's top were the two would be glued together - it was time to see if the idea would actually work! There's plenty of compacts out there with stitching designs on them [I already own one by Kigu] so now was time to make my own version.

Cutting out a piece of cardboard the same side as the indent on the top of the compact I used this as a mounting piece to glue the sewing too as I've done many a time sticking fabric to canvas. Carefully wrapping the material around and gluing it tight I then used the glue gun to attach it to the metal casing. It stuck perfectly! 

It's not perfect but it's far better then it once looked and I'm glad I managed to morph two of my loves together and give this compact a new least for life.

PS. There's a tiny little poll to the top right of this blog about what you'd love to be featured more of on LOTS. I do these polls from time to time just to make sure I'm keeping you all interested!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Vintage crochet patterns

vintage crochet
The knot stitch - Clark's ONT Book of Crochet Patterns No.3 1917
vintage crochet
Luncheon set doilys from the Clark's ONT Book of Crochet Patterns No.3 1917
vintage crochet
The Grape and Leaf Centerpiece featured within Clark's ONT booklet of crochet patterns 1917.
vintage crochet
Front cover of the 1917 Filet Crochet with Instructions pattern booklet.
vintage crochet
Nightgown yoke detailing from the Royal Society Crochet Book No.8 1916
vintage crochet
Advertisement for crochet cottons featured in the Royal Society Crochet Booklet No.8 1916
vintage crochet
Butterfly used on yoke pattern taken from A.W.B Lingerie Special 1915
vintage crochet
Top - down; Yoke with butterflies, simple yoke with motifs applied to points. Taken from A.W.B Lingerie Special 1915.

In addition to learning how to crochet I really enjoy trying to create my own little collection of vintage patterns. Regardless of age, of style, their ware and tear or even what the patterns are for, merging together a collection is something I love doing. Its a collection that's been cheap to begin and started in the UK through hunting in charity shops or ones passed down to me. In honestly I had somewhat forget about this until finding some at the estate sale - I merely glanced at them, amazed they were vintage, grabbed and then paid for them. It wasn't until we were sitting in the car that their beauty emerged.

The first pattern booklet, the A.W.B Lingerie Special of Yokes, Trimmings and Crochet Hats which perfectly describes itself as providing "wonderful effects never before attempted in crochet" was copyright to 1915. I was more then amazed at something being 97 years old being in such good condition. And the more I looked, the wonder of this new collection grew. From this to the Royal Society Crochet Book No. 8 (1916), Filet Crochet with Instructions Series No.7 to Clark's ONT Book of Crochet Patterns No.3 (both 1917). Although the latter booklet is missing some of it's middle pages, these have become the oldest patterns in my collection. 

While they may have an age to them they have some gorgeous designs, from the intricate, delicate edging to your nightgown, the beautiful butterfly, to providing patterns for lampshades and edgings to table pieces - there really was something for the lady of that era. Whether you crochet or not I hope you can find and admire the beauty in the photographs and designs. I'm already eying up some of the doily patterns to tackle, I think it's about time I reunited myself with the art of doily crocheting.

Monday, 14 May 2012

What we grabbed from the estate sales

Our weekend turned out to be rather lazy - particularly after I somewhat knocked myself out with allergy tablets and pain killers resulting in a very sleepy me for most of Sunday. Add a slight hangover to the mixture and I was a bear with a sore head. When we weren't playing on Guitar Hero [we're addicts] or eating home made rocky road we spent an hour or so hitting some estate sales. Our intentions had originally been to attend an Antique and Vintage show - while I love attending vintage things like this everything in them tends to be overpriced, plus it would have cost us $20 to just get in and it would have been a fair drive from where we live. For me estate sales are much more fun - cheaper and free just to go for a nosey.

I've noticed decent sales close to us come like buses, and this weekend we had two on our doorstep. The first was in a tiny house which was crammed full - from which I managed to grab out a 1960 recipe book [you can never have too many recipes]. Joe found the vintage mirror with the posh lady cameo and what was a very very battered, somewhat rusting vintage powder compact with no puff or sift and I then worked out it was missing it's top. It really had seen better days but me being me I couldn't really leave it there could I?! All this came to a mere $3.75. Bargain!

The second sale was a crafty girls paradise! The spare room was transformed in a craft room [how I long for something like this one day] filled with goodies! From huge stashes of fabric [going for less then $3 each] to embroidery hoops, patterns and crafting essentials it was hard to find somewhere to start. But when I did I stuck gold. Everyone else seemed to be ignoring the patterns on the floor so I had a good hunt and managed to grab four vintage crochet patterns and a cross stitch booklet alongside some crochet yarn and some aida material. What was even better was grabbing this all for 50 cents! Driving back home, flicking through the booklets I saw they were dated between 1915-1917 - total score! The patterns along deserve a post all to themselves so I won't talk about them all here but I can't wait to do some of the patterns.

Additionally, I'll leave you a hint that the compact has been given a new life and a new top - stay tuned to see how I've updated the powder compact!

Friday, 11 May 2012

The one in which we go for another walk

Find a spare couple of hours at the weekend and we're becoming partial to stretching our legs and going for a walk [a longer walk each time]. The last trip was back to Stony Creek one of the closest Metroparks to us. While we didn't catch any glimpses of lots of crazy American wild animals like last time we did catch some photographs of some amazing wild flowers, heard rustling of chipmunks and saw swelling rivers from the last thunderstorm. When it comes to landscape photography I always feel my work is lacking somewhat. I always find it harder to take images of vast vistas in comparison to my micro work so I always end up tinkering endlessly with them in editing programs - yet I can never just find one to stick with. Here we have everything from the lomo to Polaroid plus. Do I use too many? Who knows.

Do you stick to one photo editing style or do you mix and match depending upon the subject matter? Would love to hear!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Six months in America and you learn;

So a whole six months have passed since I landed at Detroit's airport and started a brand spanking new chapter of the Yorkshire lass in the states. I'm not sure about you, but the time has gone so fast. Nevertheless I have loved every second. Yes there have been occasions when I've missed things about the UK, or I've hated the stares you get when you open your mouth and people hear you have an English accent, but life in America is good. So we're six months in and three weeks away from my residency interview. Hopefully here's to another six months and longer.

I thought it would be fitting to compile a quick list of things I'd learnt and experienced, noting links if I've blogged about them. I hope you're loved reading about my move and life over here as much I have writing about them. So here goes;

♥ It always amuses me in a cinema during films the audience will cheer, clap and boo at the screen. The clapping at the end as the credits roll always amuses the English girl in me.
♥  With moving overseas you realise who you're friends really are. YOU guys helped me see that.
Twinkies aren't as nice as people rave about.
♥ Rumbling around on Saturday mornings at estate sales is such a fun thing to do!
♥ I've never come across Newcastle Brown Ale to be as readily available to drink in bars as it is in the USA, which is a shame. The British should embrace the Newcastle Brown far, far more!
♥ America is heaven for vintage powder compact collecting - they are everywhere - although not in estate sales. Or at least not yet.
♥ I've fallen in love with Chicago.
♥ BBC America pretty much sucks - everything is either Gordan Ramsey or Star Trek.
♥ Taking home your leftovers from a restaurant is more then a neat idea, as are free refills on soft drinks.

♥ I really want to visit Canada its so hard when it is literally over the river and I can't visit.
♥  Finding the British section in the stores makes a shopping trip worthwhile.
♥ Some people no matter how hard you try, will never be happy for you.
Detroit gets written off far more then it should.
♥ I will never understand American politics, especially Romney led politics.
♥ Martin Bashir [yes that former BBC and ITV presenter] MSNBC show is the best, British take on American news.
Americans love their crafts, the craft stores are huge and people love to talk about it which inspires me no end.
♥ People who drive in Michigan are INSANE. Getting tail gated or honked at because you're driving at speed and often being undertaken in the turn right lane. Yes NUTTERS!
♥ Canadian geese are taking over. 
♥ Tornado watches are the norm when the weather starts getting warm.

And most of all - we did more then good making our long distance relationship work.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

LIFE: Our long weekend


A rather belated weekend post, but a post all the same and I really need to catch up with everyones comments on my blog over the past couple of days. With Joe's birthday being on Monday he took a couple of days off work so we got to be lazy together but on my side it was rather crafty. I finished off a bookmark of cross stitched Matroyshka's and began sewing the dragonfly [I mentioned here] whilst remembering just how darn hard it is to sew with metallic thread. We've also started playing with drinks in trying to make cocktails - this weekend fully experiencing the Manhattan - a whiskey and vermouth mixture - love and strong indeed.

Not only is Joe a huge Transformer fan as you might have seen yesterday, he's also a HUGE comic book geek so on Friday we went to see the long awaited Avengers film. Going by his reactions it was a big hit. Aside from that we enjoyed more of the May sunshine with a long walk spying gorgeous forest wildlife and the peace and quiet. We also treated ourselves to a pair of tickets to see System of a Down in August which I'm so excited about. SOAD are one of those bands I got into late but I just love their style and its always good to catch a metal fix [I will always be a metal girl at heart].

And what topped off the weekend even more was receiving my winnings from Em who blogs over at a Vintage Sweetheart which included an apron, vintage crochet patterns and some gorgeous necklaces - they really made my day!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Collectors Club: Transformers

Now this collector is an addict and because it was his birthday yesterday I thought he more then deserved the last slot in this collecting series. I call him an addict frequently but it's allowed because I'm married to him. So I admit Joe isn't a blogger, but I felt my guys collection was worthy of being included because I share my life with it. Plus it lets us have an insight into a man's collection!

Close up of Cheetor from the Beast Wars line

In 1996 an 11 year old boy got hooked into a new cartoon called Transformers: Beast Wars which was based on robots which transform into animals on an Earth far into the future. Divided into two factions - the maximals [goodies] and the predicons [badies] they are the descendants of the Transformers we see in the films, from which countless toy lines were manufactured. At one point his mum threw out a garbage bag, little did she know she was throwing out his entire Transformers collection. 15 years later that boy is recollecting and still obsessed with the show.

When I first started dating Joe I knew of his love for Transformers but I was amazed at how many he actually owned. Currently the total stands at 109 [I think, excluding the ones awaiting being put on eBay] and predominately they are from the Beast Wars, Beast Machines [both old cartons from the 1990s] and the Transformers Prime [film and the contemporary cartoon] lines. Yet it involves more then collecting toys, it involves cartoons, films, searching eBay, membership to the official club, getting member only toys and trips around countless stores to try and grab them. Even I could name your Optimus from your Cheetor to Soundwave to your Snapper. Date a guy with a collection like this and you get interested too. 

Comic within the official Transformers members magazine and Optimus Prime from the film line.

Joe's was always one step ahead of me when it came to collecting, he can part with, and sell them on eBay if he's buying in a lot and there's some he doesn't want or he already has. We don't make lots of money but we hope they go to a decent home. It always come down to condition just like compacts. Paint and chrome-ware all come into account, missing parts and missiles all affect the price. We never keep them in their original boxes [unless selling them], they are toys and they are meant to be played with so that's what we do. But it's why we need an extra bedroom, just so I can contain them into one room. It always surprises me how many grown men are buying Transformers in stores and bid on them on eBay, there's many more Transformers widows out there. The things you do for love!

*  *  *

This looks to be the final post in the bloggers who collect series - although i'll gladly accept any more posts if you want to fling them my way. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone that took the time out to make this little series happen. I hope you all enjoyed it just as much as I did putting it together!

Monday, 7 May 2012

A compact that is a little odd

Me and the boy are having a super long weekend together to celebrate his birthday and becoming a fully licensed social worker after passing his exam last week. As a result I'm flinging a scheduled post or two at you. And what would be better then one about compacts?

Sometimes you get compacts that are a little odd. The flight map upon this compact intrigues me more then anything. I won it on a lot on eBay. What attracted me was that it covered not only a somewhat map of the USA but that it featured three of the cities I'd already been to - Pittsburgh, Detroit and Chicago, plus some more that I one day want to be lucky enough to visit. It's vintage and has a vintage plane on it, what more could I want?!

The route shows what was a flight plan between Seattle to New York. Saying that - to me the map seems a little wrong. Geographically Chicago is after Detroit as the bird flies. Detroit lies between Chicago and Pittsburgh. But on this map - it's the other way around. Maybe I have it totally wrong?!

Additionally there's some green thing upon the compact. Don't get me wrong this compact, on the top at least has seen some use. Debates are out if the green was a map of the land or it's something that's been stuck on afterwards. Trying to remove the green sadly removes the flight map and plane. 

As with many of the souvenir compacts they tend to date from the 1950s and I figure this is most probably true of this one too. If I knew anything about planes this would have been useful to date it by. Sadly I'm not. The compact is goldtoned with one large framed mirror inside. Although the top has seen better days inside the compact is in great condition. While it's unmarked by brand it has two compartments each with their own puffs and flaps, one for powder which has a "made in USA" marked upon the bottom and another for rogue, the latter has remnants inside.

Don't you just love things that don't really add up sometimes?

Friday, 4 May 2012

A paperwork update

While you might have thought my silence regarding the official legalities of living in America now meant it was all complete - my silence has in fact once again reflected the waiting period. Last week everything seemed to come together and we've finally managed to get somewhere on the two things we were filing.

Along with filing for my change in status to become a resident [more on that shortly] we filed for me to be allowed to look and accept work and on what popped into our letter box but my brand spanking new official card for authorisation to look and take on work. I half love and half hate this step. Don't get me wrong I love the idea of having a bigger money safety net, we can think about a bigger apartment and buy even more vintage things. But with being out of the work cycle for six months I'm use to pleasing myself, crafting and blogging.  I haven't needed to look or apply for a job over three years ago and I'm out to sync with how to write a CV or sell myself. I do know I'm darn well determined to actually do something with my two degrees yet I still long for blogging to make me money [never going to happen seeing in over two and a half years only one company has ever asked me to get involved with them]. 

Anyways ... 

With regards to applying to change my residency we got a separate letter summoning us both [Joe has to go too] for out interview to prove we have a proper, proper marriage. How they judge one relationship from another being real is beyond me but we have to follow the line. We have to take piles of evidence but more legal documents. Alongside the marriage certificate you have to take bank statements with both your names on etc etc. Now here I could really start ranting again - if they knew just how hard it is to get your name added onto American things when you not a citizen is a nightmare. While I'm on the bank account I'm not allowed a bank card. I can't get added onto Joe's health insurance, because I'm not a legal resident. The story continues. I've thought of printing out blog posts to show we're "real" but I have no idea if they'd expect them, so time to reprint photos and take old birthday, Christmas, Valentines day cards and see were it goes. I know what we have is real, but when you're trying to show that to other people, it's kinda hard. The interview isn't till the end of May so we have some time to try and figure out what to take and no doubt I'll be ranting about it again. Fingers crossed they'll see what we have is real and I'll be on my way getting lawful residency for two years. Wup!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

My sewing corner

Sewing corner
Music score

Every crafty girl needs a space that's hers and I've finally got around to making the space in the corner where my sewing machine sits, mine. My Standard Book of Sewing, an estate sale find, goes so far to suggest "your sewing corner should have sufficient light ... [with] enough room for your sewing machine, a comfortable chair, a footstool ... and easy to reach shelves ... on which may be placed boxes and jar for buttons and other sewing accessories". Okay so my corner needs more work but we don't have a huge apartment so we're fighting for space with all our collections between us but I wanted to mark this territory as my crafty zone. Lets call it a work in progress where my sewing and my vintage things sit happily together.

Starting with a few old music scores from of my favourite musicals - High Society and My Fair Lady [I also have Moonlight Bay which is waiting to be added to the wall] all picked up from a flea market in Pickering [UK] - one day I intend to get them framed properly rather then using drawing pins. To my somewhat small collection of sewing books sitting proudly on my sewing table of which I want to keep adding to. The sewing box if you remember I picked up for a steal of $7 in Frankenmuth and is my treasure trove where I keep all my sewing basics - from threads, needles, scissors to some sewing kits for future use. Lastly I had to resort to the student faithful of reusing bottles, in this case a tequila one for a vase for what was remaining of the surprise flowers from my guy. And of course, the pile is all neatly topped off with a boxed 1969 vintage Avon powder compact which is now on eBay [hint hint].

Do you have any special "me" corners where you live? Where do you craft - I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

MICHIGAN: A Sunday at Indian Springs

I've finally got around to taking photographs with my bridge camera again, I'd somewhat abandoned it because it eats up way too many batteries so all my blog photographs lately have been taken on my guys camera. But with new lithium batteries in hand a a trip to a metropark I thought I'd return to my camera for a change. 

If you do go to any park in Michigan you'll see so much wildlife, but I'd never seen to many different species until we visited the Indian Springs Metropark on Sunday to take advantage of the sunshine. Not only were there butterflies but I spied wild turkeys, fishes, chipmunks to crazy looking beetles plus countless signs for rattlesnakes - but I'm glad we never saw them. We took a stroll on one of the nature walks and came across rusting farm machinery randomly placed along the walk, perhaps as art pieces or as a reminder of the former agricultural history of the area. Either way all the old parts were great to photograph. Inside the Nature Center they have an under water tunnel taking you under a lake to see all the fish swimming around - it was pretty cool looking out in the murky depths to try and catch a glimpse of the odd fish floating by. I even overheard one little boy saying how it was "like the zoo" with the girl, possibly his older sister arguing it was "even better".