Friday, 29 June 2012

That one BIG comparison - religion

I'll be the first to admit to being liberal and maybe because of that I've never really "got" religion. Nor can I understand people living word by word by it and I find many religions and some religious people to be very hypocritical. In moving from a pretty secular country to somewhere where religion is very much everywhere has been a huge eye opener. And while I write this post and publish it out into the big wide world, I don't mean to cause offence if religion is your thing. [I'm all for religion - but it's not for me, don't peach at me about you're religion and don't get brainwashed about how it's the only way to lead your life, to me religion has caused far too many of the world's problems, killed too many people and claimed too many lands, but that's my own belief].

So .... RELIGION - perhaps it was how I was raised but I believe my case could well apply to many people in the UK. We're brought up with either religion meaning tradition or the religious fanaticism that leads to terrorism. Being British our religion [if you have one] is something that is personal - to broadcast or shout out about it is bad form, you keep it to yourself and you get on with your life. Or, we're just indifferent to it.

In America religion is everywhere - churches are everywhere, people talk about their religion very openly, attend church weekly and in gardens you'll find statues and shrines to the virgin Mary. I've married into a religious family - although Joe himself is rather carefree, the rest of the family seems very much by the word of the book and their praying before meals made me rather uncomfortable. The difference between our two countries is clearly quantitative, a survey in 2008 disclosed only 15% of Americans describe themselves as being of "no religion" in comparison to the 43% in the UK. Furthermore only 3% of Americans would state not believing in God to 18% of the UK population.

It even extends to the differences within blogs. Religion creeps into more American based bloggers [maybe I'm just exposed to more of them] and to me, it's a little unnerving especially with regards to how they so openly criticise other people's lives and constantly make biblical quotations, that they are sinners and Jesus saved them. There are fanatics in many religions but for a country that's meant to be so forward in the world it's amazing that religion has such a big place. I've read a comparison that religion in the USA is where religion was in the UK back in the 1500s and this I could well believe.

More so religion is in bed with politics, so much that the Republican party are often renamed as the Religious Right. From the right/church come the pro life cries [anti pill/abortion] tend to be against this on going debate for increased women's health provision. The church even continues the call for evolution to be taught in schools [although no prayers can be said at any school due to laws under the American constitution], porn is one of the biggest evils and we all know their attitudes towards gay marriage or even gay relationships. In contrast religion and politics in the UK don't mix that very often - the church will mouth off about something they disagree with but that seems to be that.

Religion seems to be a huge element for social cohesion here in the USA and it strongly seems to define many living here and being "American". But whatever your religion is, whether you have one or not shouldn't define who you and the bible shouldn't dictate what you're rights as human should be.

Just saying.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Strawberry Jam - A How To

I grew up with the women on my mums side of the family making jam in the summer months. My gran would come around and the kitchen would air that smell of stewing fruit. This has been a tradition that I've wanted to continue - nothing tastes better then home-made jam and making it yourself is pretty easy once you have the know how. This recipe is partly what I remember from my family way of making and random recipes found via google. 

  • 2 lbs of strawberries - the fresher the better
  • 4 cups of granulated sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons

You should have plenty of glass jars at the ready [the above amount makes just short of three jars] - loads of people buy brand new ones but I'm all for recycling old jars we've come across, just make sure they are nice and clean.

How you cut up your strawberries depends upon how lumpy you like your jam. While some people opt to blend the life out of them in a blender, I love knowing that my jam has real strawberries in it, so I love mine nice and lumpy - therefore I don't cut up the strawberries into tiny pieces. You should bare in mind that the boiling process does melt them down anyway. 

Strawberry Jam
strawberry jam

After all your strawberries are cut up, add everything into a large pan and set the temperature on low. At first you only need a low heat to slowly start boiling the mixture. Keep boiling until all the sugar has dissolved.

Once all the sugar's dissolved the strawberries will start strewing and you'll start getting a lovely strawberry juice mixture going. Whack the pan up to high so you start to get a roaring boil - you have to be careful because sometimes it can spit, but you need to keep the heat up. Keep stirring so you can tell when it starts to thicken.

Sometimes this can take 5 mins sometimes a lot longer - that's the luck of the game when it comes to making strawberry jam and the more you make it the more likely you are to know when it's looking good enough to start thinking about checking if it's set. At this point I always put a saucer into the fridge - it's an important piece in checking to see if you're jams ready. 

Taking a dribble of your jam mixture, drop it onto your saucer and leave by an open window for a couple of minutes. If you can then tilt the saucer and the jam doesn't run off, and or it has a crust forming over it [say like lava would] then you're ready. There's no magic way of  pouring from the pan into the jars and this point is one of the muckiest and somewhat dangerous part of jam making. What I've been taught to do it use a glass jug and scoop up the jam from the pan and then pour it into the jars.

Leave to cool and you're all done. It's best to keep the jam once you've reopened it in the fridge and they can last stored for months and months.

Have you ever made jam?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Duck Lane

In his job Joe drives around a lot and see's random places he'll remember and drive me out to see whenever we get the chance. On a fitting road called Duck Lane out in the countryside he'd spotted these bird houses on wooden poles in the middle of an allege covered pond - apparently in someone's back yard. How the bird houses stand up is a mystery to me but it was a great sight to see and there were a few birds rustling around in the marsh grasses close by. Further along the same road came another couple of ponds and a careful eye spotted these amazingly coloured birds which we later found out to be wild Sandhill Cranes. Wildlife in America does seem to be a lot tamer or maybe they should be seen as more adventurous?

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

LIFE: Row Row Row Your Boat

On Saturday we took a trip back to Kensington Metropark to hire a rowing boat to get out onto Kent Lake. After my panics of getting into the boat [hate how it wobbles and moves and slides when you're stepping in] so much so that I clung onto the sides for dear life for the first couple of minutes it was rather a lot of fun. Joe rowed us out for an hour and a half across to one of the quiet bays, around an island and back into the dock. With it being another bright sunny day here in south east Michigan the reflections on the waters surface were amazing and luckily my camera was playing game in letting me capture some of it.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Bloggers who collect - vintage rings

I'm starting a new blogging week with a late, but very much welcome addition to the former bloggers who collect series. To today I'm welcoming Hazel and her lovely collection of vintage rings - all with a gorgeous story behind them;

Hi, I’m Hazel from Tales of alittle Hazzelnut and I’m going to share my collection of vintage rings with you today. At the minute I have about thirteen in my possession, so it is rather small but is growing rapidly. As soon as Rachael mentioned her Collection posts I knew I had to get involved; firstly I’m nosey and love to know what other people collect, and secondly, I thought it would be nice to share my collection and to find out if anyone does the same.

So onto the collection…

I’ve never without a ring, and I seem to rotate between all the rings in my vintage collection. I started collecting vintage jewellery (necklaces, bracelets, rings) when I was sixteen and currently have a rather large collection. However, I’m only going to show you my collection of rings.

My love of vintage rings started quite early. From about the age of five every Friday my Nana would come over for the afternoon and every time without fail I would insist she let me wear this ring;

It’s a 1920s cameo ring which my Papa bought her while on holiday in Dublin, and after she passed it was left to me in her will. It is probably my one of my favourites. However, I don’t wear it often for two reasons; one, I’m terrified of something happening to it, and secondly, it doesn’t fit on any of my fingers, apart from the little one! 

Here is my other ring from the 1920s. Surprisingly this is the only silver ring in my vintage collection, and it is probably the most worn. I obtained it for £3 (bargain!) at the vintage fair I attended last summer. 

Similarly, this is probably my most worn gold vintage ring (1940s). I just find it absolutely stunning and it goes which basically everything I own. 

The final ring I’m going to share with you has quite a sweet story behind it. During the second world war my Papa was stationed with the RAF in India and because my Nana loved to shop but was restricted by rationing he would send over jewellery and clothes he commissioned to be made for her, this is one of those pieces;

I absolutely adore it and the story behind it.

I personally find the best places to find vintage rings are in antiques shops and at vintage fairs, sometimes they can be quite pricey but I usually attempt to haggle it down. 

So that’s my collection, hope you liked it. Does anyone else collect vintage rings? Or even vintage accessories?

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Stratton Butterfly Vintage Compact


I will be the first in admitting I'm not a big collector of Stratton compacts [I'm picky, I know]. To me their popularity and the ability to be able to find them easy is a little off putting. In turn I love my small brands. But I love butterflies - they have to be one of my favourite things to photograph, I love butterfly houses in zoos and Joe is always amazed at how well I can name any we come across on a walk. So much that I'm currently reading a book all about the life of a butterfly - knowing they only live a couple of months makes you remember just how fragile their beauty is. The book - Wings in the Meadow documents the tale of one butterfly through words and brilliant illustrations [last image]. So being the big butterfly fan that I am, how could I turn this compact down especially when I come to think about it how I'm adding to my collection of powder compacts featuring butterflies in their designs [now up to three!] alongside this Marhill and another Stratton double mirrored compact.

The pale blue background of the compacts top really sets the butterfly colours off, although it's probably rather abstract the butterfly is rather reminiscent of the Monarch butterfly. The compact itself is unused - it's even compete with it's original "inspected by" little slip of paper and instructions. It is suffering a lot with regards to it's mirror - you can just see in the image that the mirrors gone a bit green and blotchy but I can see pass that too. 

I always wonder how English compacts made their way over to the USA.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Dragonfly cross stitch

Dragonfly cross stitch Dragonfly cross stitch Hoop wall dragonfly cross stitch
There's a new addition to the embroidery hoop wall after completing my cross stitch dragonfly [the pattern for which came out of the Cross Stitch Magazine]. This project was something I really got into but with only just one colour it started to drag out a little, and it became something I'd pick up every now and again. But being only four lines of the wing away from the end got me on a sudden drive last week to finally finish it off and hang it up. It's sewed completely in metallic DMC thread which in itself can be a bit of a nightmare - I had one lot of thread that tangled itself up every other stitch and another thread that was a dream. That's just the luck of the draw. I love it's size - which makes it such a statement piece [the sewing is ten and a half inches at its widest and its framed in a 12 inch frame].

Now just need some more ideas for more embroidery hooped pieces!

Monday, 18 June 2012

LIFE: Fireworks

Saturday night the Kensington Metropark held their Salute to America fireworks display. Being English I've grown up with firework displays although more often on a freezing cold November night [until like many bonfire nights they decreased in size or stopped all together because of councils refusing to shell out on something for Guy Fawkes night]. This display was their early July 4th celebration and masses turned out. We parked at Maple Beach and like many others, waited the two hours till 10PM and the display began taking our positions by the beach. These were like the fireworks you'd see on your TV that London put on on at New Years. They were insane, the colours were amazing, and was just non stop for a good 25 minutes. As the display was being launched from one end of the lake, the fireworks created amazing reflections over the water - that really added something. While we both took our cameras [I totally forgot my tripod] fireworks weren't the easiest thing to catch photographically but here's some to try and capture the event. In the end I took to videoing it with my camera to share with you the finale of the display.

And yes, American's even clap at the end of fireworks!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Insert Hulk Smash [Book] reference here

I've eyed up getting a smash book for a while. Seen them, drooled over them, flicked through them and put them back down and walked away. Then I thought sod it and brought one and the fun began! Smash Books [which I've seen in both JoAnns and Target] are designed to be used pretty much however you like - from drawings, to scrap-booking to journalling. Coming in a range of colours and themes, they come with their very own half glue half pen stick thing. There are additionally a range of accessories to help you on your smash book journey.


I've always been one to collect stuff. Recipes, tickets, tokens, leaflets. You name it I've saved it if it's from somewhere we've been, something we've seen, or just a something. But they've either been thrown into a memory box [aka an old shoebox], lost in the bottom of my bag or line the edges of our mirrors. I thought it was time to try something grown up, crafty and stick them into a book, with notes and pretty tape so they tell a story.

Smash book
Smash book

Smash Books come with a really cool introduction which pretty much encourages you to use this book as you will. I started ours off with a geeky introduction page - with old photographs of us both, my visa picture [geeky!] and one of the few postcards I've ever been able to find around and abouts!

It won't be one of those neat scrapbook things with numerous coloured paper, fancy stickers and stenciled letters. It'll be a mish mash, it'll be messy, hand written, doodled things. The idea is that the things I stick in will tell the tale of a British girl finding everything in America amazing, showing the things she loves, places she's been to the things she wants to do. I'll stick in the the CTA travel ticket from our honeymoon, gig tickets to the Dave and Buster Power cards we got last week from playing on arcade games for the boys birthday. Glue glue, stick stick.

Smash book
Smash book

I'm working on a couple of pages so far - one about all the fancy American stamps I'm coming across both US and UK and pages about all about random things we do and places we've been.  I start off with writing a random title and just going with it.

Being an inpatient person however, I keep having to constantly remind myself that this Smash Book will be a work in progress, that it will take months, maybe even a year to fill. But that's okay. It doesn't need to be filled up right now. Just however and whenever.

How do you collect your random somethings? Do you journal or use a scrapbook?

Friday, 15 June 2012

The things you tend to do as an expat

While I love posting about all the US verses UK comparisons big and small there's things I've started noticing about myself in relation to being British and away from the homeland. Plus with the recent Queen's Jubilee what's a better excuse then to think about all things English!

So as an expat here are some of the things you start to do;

Listening to BBC Radio 2 far, far more then you use to because American radio stations often seem to be lacking that variety of music and news. In the USA unless they are a public broadcaster they tend to be commercial [which sucks]. Even though the BBC is based thousands of miles away - you end up getting your news, especially international news that way.

Finding an "English Pub" in the next town and thinking up excuses for the need to visit there and drink "proper beer".

When getting into a car you have to double check which side the steering wheel is on - just to remind yourself that everything is opposite.

Following a car with a Union Jack sticker on the rear window or plate and getting way too excited. 

Knowing exactly what the time is in the UK at any given point throughout the day and therefore knowing what would showing on the TV.

Plans arise in your head to open a chippie shop to get your English fix of proper Fish n Chips.  Nothing compares to greasy fish n chips out of a tray with old newspaper keeping them warm. Not forgetting the wooden fork. Just the best thing ever.

You stalk the PBS channels on a Sunday night for the latest English show to be shown in the states be it Downton Abbey or Sherlock. It's months behind but you need your English TV drama fix.

Hearing an English voice on the TV/Radio or in the street is a source for excitement.

You prefer writing addresses on envelopes the English way rather then cramming the town, the state and the zip code on one line. [In the UK we do everything on separate lines]. 

When describing the location of your hometown to Americans you make reference to it's locality to London.

Being British you take the time to do your civic duty by trying to register to vote in elections while overseas. After getting directed by YouGov to the voting website you get told you need your application to be signed by a fellow British citizen who is living aboard [WTF?!]. The East Yorkshire website just wants you to fill out a simple form and that's it. Nevertheless a quick google search tells me the UK doesn't have to go to election till 2015 - I wasted my time. 

You watch the golf channel because most of the commentators are predominately English and are therefore far more knowledgeable.

Every time you visit a new supermarket you need to hunt out the English food aisle, drool and then be astonished at the prices they are charging for a bottle of brown sauce.

When shopping you feel the need to convert the dollar price back into UK pounds just to see how much it "really" is [and just for knowledge $1.50/£1].

Trying to cross a road you have to sometimes stop and think which direction the traffic is coming from. Then look, look again, and have another look just in case. 

You use English terms stubbornly in refusal of calling football soccer, boot as a trunk.

Using the Queens Jubilee became an excuse to paint your nails red, white and blue. Americans may look at me thinking I've been playing with my nail varnishes but I know deep down I'm saluting the Queen!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

I'm proud of my size

I don't often do link ups or tag alongs in the blogging world but when I saw this idea by Rachele over at The Near Sighted Owl I know I wanted to jump on the bandwagon! The idea behind this link up, well i'll provide you with Rachele's word because they sum it up perfectly; "Nobody has the right to judge someone's health by their size. So let's show the world that every size can be happy and that we are not ashamed!"

While I may not be big into fashion or make up or whatever else, I get body confidence issues as much as the next girl. But I wanted to take the time out to remind myself as well as the rest of you gorgeous readers that we all should be proud of our size - regardless of it's number. 

Love your size
*This is a UK 14 by the by, in the US that equates to a 12 just to be clear on the matter and I'm only making the conversion clear because I have a lot of readers on both sides of the pond.

Since moving to the US my body issues have certainly grown - up to the point of moving I was rather active, not in the gym, running kind of active more walking loads. I'd always walked to school, walked around to and from university daily [a good three miles there and back] and even at work I was always on my feet running up and down stairs between the two dispensaries and at lunch I'd have a 40 odd minute wander around York. Although before university I'd got myself up to a [UK] 16 leaving university four years later I was a 12. Now I'm very much leading a sedimentary lifestyle because of not working. Yes we try and go for walks but sometimes they just don't happen and I spend my days on the computer or crafting. Plus when your not use to constant temperatures in the mid to high 20s into the 30 degree heat the last thing you want to do is be out in it. This to me is equating with the feeling I'm putting on weight and yes since moving I have - not to increase clothe size just yet.

love your size

But ... what I try and make myself remember is that this is my skin and to fully accept it which I'm really working on. Hence this post. This is me, my body, my size. And you know what helps the most in my battle of mind over body matter? Having a guy and knowing he loves me regardless of what that number is.

love your size

So this is what I wear on the average day - but in particular a wander to the library;

Shirt - H&M
Vest - H&M
Jeans - Falls Creek from Meijer
Scarf - Worn as a belt - won in a giveway from Em at the Vintage Sweetheart
Bag - H&M
Bracelets - handmade by Joe [yes really]
Necklace -  A really old one from Claires

I would urge you all to join in Rachele's weekly link up and it's pretty easy to do. Just post a photograph of yourself include your dress size and link up your post to all the other wonderful ladies who have posted! But make sure to visit Rachele's blog for more details!


Time to pack my body confidence issues into my bag!

Let me know if any of you partake in the link up!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Grandads's slides

So last week I finally sat down and made myself start on writing, well rewriting my CV [yes I know - finally!]. In the great migration over the pond I brought with my my memory stick with all my old university essays and former job hunting attempts to find inspiration. Little did I know that this stick had a few of the scans I'd uploaded in trying to capture some of negatives of my granddad's photographs. By the looks of it my grandad was a bit of a photographer at heart [another thing I inherited from him] although far better at landscapes. I have no idea what type of photographic film they were taken on - some where in colour and others black and white but I do remember them being pretty large in comparison to the traditional negative out there. All these were scanned in and I attempted at the time to play with the colours. I just think they deserve to be seen - I think he'd like to be featured on my blog. 


Clearly some came out better after being scanned then others but you do get a great sense of the landscape within which they were taken. They were probably taken in the early to mid 1980s [he died early 1987] and I pretty much think they were all take in the Lake District [bar the obvious one of Durham Cathedral] where they use to holiday and hike a lot. I especially love the last two - they just seem to get the landscape elements just right and bring me a lot closer to the man I never got the chance to know. 

Don't you just love finding old photographs?!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Things i've cooked lately

Lately I've been really getting into cooking and baking. It's probably due to now having someone to cook for, or at least having someone who's grateful and doesn't necessarily criticized my failed attempts [which would happen back in the UK - the less said about that the better].  Hellocotton and the growing selection of cook and baking books spare me on into cooking some of these little treats;

What could be better then combining two of our favourite foods - pizza and curry?! When I saw this recipe coming up on Hellocotton I knew I had to try it although I did adapt it somewhat just using curry paste rather then the tandoori they suggest [merely because that's what we had]. Using my home-made naan bread as the based, piling up the marinated chicken with some tomatoes thrown in, topped off with onions, plenty of cheese and cilantro leaves. Seriously it was so, so good.


spag bol

This was another goodie found within the Trisha Yearwood's Georgia Cooking from an Oklahoma Kitchen - it's basically home made spag bol with loads of onions, garlic, tomatoes and tomato paste. I love how when you're cooking like this, you know what's going in.

Now this recipe came from one of my estate sale finds - the General Food Kitchens All About Home Baking from 1960. It took me a while to decide on which cake to bake but the description of its "distinctive red-chocolate colour and an outstanding flavour" sold it for me and I topped it off with some chocolate frosting. This cake is delicious if I say so myself so I thought it was more then worthy of being shared!

  • 1½ cups of sifted cake flour [I used all purpose flour]
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • ¾ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ cup of shortening (at room temp)
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate melted
  • 2 unbeaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

In one bowl combine the flour, salt, soda and sugar stirring in the shortening. Add the water and mix just until all the flour is dampened. Using an electric mixer beat for two minutes on a low speed. Add in the melted chocolate, the unbeaten eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional minute. Using a lined baking tin [9x9x2] place in a moderately heated oven [350°F] and bake for 40 - 45 minutes.

For the easy chocolate frosting;

  • 3 - 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • 1½ tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • 2 cups of confectioners [icing] sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla

Over a pan of boiling water melt the chocolate and butter. In a separate bowl combine the sugar, milk and vanilla adding in the melted chocolate and butter mixture and mix well. Spread over cake.

What have you been baking/cooking lately?

Friday, 8 June 2012

6 months in ...

So today marks the date of our six months anniversary of married life [I know times flown right?!]. Now we wouldn't be normally soppy enough to mark this if it wasn't a marriage anniversary so fear not we're not loosing the plot. But your six month anniversary doesn't come around every day and weirdly enough my green card popped in the post box yesterday, so we'll probably use them both as an excuse to order sushi! December the 8th was a crazy day with snow showers, really hurting my knee walking into the coffee table just before leaving but sharing it with my best friend was amazing. I thought I'd use today as an excuse to show you some more photographs of our little family - well our kitties.


After adopting Smokey in the February of this year she's truly at home with us now and has many, many nicknames from Tiny, Smokes, Princess to Ickle Bickle. She is just truly adorable yet still very skitty. Home for Smokey is sleeping on any of the dinning room chairs to watching the birds on the windowsill. True to her Russian Blue lineage she's playful [man she'll play for hours with the laser pen if you'd let her] chases herself around the apartment in circles and apparently loves a cupcake. When she's feeling brave enough she can be super affectionate and at the hint of a treat, this timid little kitty has one mighty meow.

Ed is still Ed - still on her diet and possibly has less nicknames then Smokes [although we do call her Edmund, Edward, Edwina - you get the idea]. Although the last image of her above is in a lol catz kind of notion that is the voice we give to Ed is some what Cartman like in pitch [yes we impersonate our cats]. Ed is actually very much of the former Soviet Union notion and loves nothing more then to rant about anything being socialist propaganda [all views expressed are her own]. 

She also probably wouldn't want me sharing these images of her and Smokes curled up sleeping next to each other - that would suggest she had a soft side!

Adorable much?!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Inherited vintage rings

When Joe's gran came up from Florida for our wedding, she brought with her some of her rings that Joe's late granddad had given her over the years. She so kindly passed them onto me as part of welcoming me into the family. Since she gave me then they've been kept in my drawers and its only now that I've got them out and worn me. I'm not a huge ring wearer, I don't even wear my engagement ring everyday and I still find it odd showering with my wedding ring on. Now I'm opting to wear my rings a little more. All the rings I own have been passed down to me, the only new one being my engagement ring. They were passed to me to keep them going, so that's what I'm hoping to do and I thought I'd share them with you. I've posted about my engagement and wedding rings before so I'll focus on the new additions. 

Ring 1 - Joe's gran's wedding ring
Ring 2 - Flower ring formally my grans
Ring 3 - Platiumn ring - a gift from Joe's grandad to his gran, now my wedding ring
Ring 4 - My engagment ring
Ring 5 - Pearl set ring another gift from Joe's grandad to his gran

If you remember my wedding ring is actually one of the ring's Joe's late grandfather brought for his gran. It's a gorgeous, yet simple platinum ring. Rather then being flat it rises up with the middle being a good 4-5mm in height if that makes any sense. Its simplicity is what I love about it, it sits so nicely against my engagement ring that although they aren't the same metal or shape and that they were brought decades between each other. From the moment I tried one the ring it fitted perfectly [seriously my fingers small that rings often have to be resized] I knew this was meant to be my wedding ring.

But there's also a second wedding ring to my collection - a 14k gold ring that was Joe's gran's when she married his grandfather. It's just a little too tiny to wear everyday and I've always been a white metal girl hence why I'm not using it as my own but I'm on a mission to wear it more. Its a lovely ring in great condition, even the etching around the edges is still clear.

The pearl ring and the gold wedding ring.

There was also the mother of pearl ring which sits upon a silver metal [metal I'm really not sure which type]. The pearl is a little loose and this ring is the smallest of them all so I can only wear it on my little finger so sadly this is one, unless I get it altered won't see the light of day too much.

Lastly there is my gran's ring of which I truly love the shape. From a thin base the band curves up and thickness into a width wide enough to be the bed for this gem stoned flower. We were going to get it priced [if that is the right wording for it] to see just what those stones may be and to see if they knew of a possible age but I never got around to it before leaving the UK. Again it was one of those rings that just fitted and along with the Singer Sewing Machine and the vintage compacts it was one of the few things my mum passed to me that was my gran's so it has a very special meaning to me. Maybe all these including my wedding and engagement rings will get passed down to our grand children.

Have you inherited any rings? What do you want to pass down to your children and their children?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

LIFE: Friendship Woods

We made the most of the sunshine and the cooler air that came after the Friday downpours here in south eastern Michigan by taking a wander to one of the out of the way places on our doorstep. Friendship Woods is literally yards away from one of the busiest freeways yet you'd think you were in the middle of the countryside. No longer can you hear cars - just trees creaking in the wind, birds tweeting and animals rustling around in the soil.

With a mile circular walk it was nice just to escape city life - we got to see crazy amounts of mushrooms, some wild flowers, plenty of Michigan's native trees [Oaks a plenty] and sit a while watching some fishes in the pond. There's also a Nature Center which would have been great to have looked inside but randomly it's closed on Saturdays [not really sure how that works out for the better?!].

On many of our walks we come across plenty of marshlands, ponds and swamps. Being known as one of the Great Lakes regions the early settlers found Oakland County to be rather inhospitable [at least until the 1850s] and these parks make the most of returning the land to it's natural form. I love looking into vernal ponds [final image] which become the breeding habitats especially for ducks and turtles in the couple of months in which they fill up after snow and spring downpours. Sadly the only wildlife we saw was some robins, fish and bumble bees.

Where are your favorite hidden away place(s)? 

Monday, 4 June 2012

American Q&A About Visiting London


The London Eye from Victoria Embankment

Going along with the Queen's Jubilee theme that's even hitting me here in Michigan I thought I'd share something I received in the post. Joe's gran who lives in Florida, sends me newspaper clippings from her local paper about all things British - this time featuring the Queen. Amongst columns about the Queen's lifetime, where in Tampa Bay you can grab yourself a good cup of tea was a Q&A about "Visiting London". Here's how one Florida journalist writes about London - my responses will be in brackets [all images are my own].

What is the most important thing to remember in London?
[So you think he might mention seeing all the glorious historical landmarks, to look after your personal belongings on the Tube or about buying a map, but no no] "Look right. The British drive of the left hand side of the street, which means traffic is coming at you on the right. There are LOOK right signs everywhere [really? I can't ever remember seeing them?!], but it's easy to forget" [seriously over six months in America and I forget traffic comes from the left].

What is one thing Americans do better than the British?
[Are we seriously going down this route?!] "Serve salads. A simple tossed salad is hard to find". [WTF?!]. 


What is one thing the British do better than Americans?
"It's been said that Britain is a "nation of shopkeepers". Londoners do seem to have a sense of retail courtesy not always found here in the US." [Nah you'll find rude people in England too! I really would have thought us British did public transport much better].

What is surprisingly cheap in London and what is surprisingly expensive?
[Firstly too many surprisingly in one sentence!] "Public transportation - the Tube (sub-way) and buses - is a bargain. Dining out is expensive, but if you're willing to "cook" ... there are markets where you can buy much less expensive sandwich fillings, fruits and snacks". [Just get yourself to Marks and Sparks!].
What is an absolute must-do in London?
"After all the shopping and sightseeing treat yourself to afternoon high tea, which is served with sandwiches that have their crusts cut off [oh la la], pastries and warm scones with clotted (Devonshire) cream. If there on a Sunday, go to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens ... it's a great stroll (if it's not raining, of course)". [Oh you had to get a dig at British weather in!].

Speaking of the weather ...
"It rains. Lots. But that gives you a chance to watch British TV. The BBC channels are commercial-free and you'll hear lots of different British accents" [oh goodie - we're known for our accents not how good the acting is or what the shows are about].


How do you find these assumptions and perceptions of London and Britain? Did the journalist get it right? How do you see the UK/London?

Article and quotes taken from Fred W. Wright's Visiting London; Q&A which featured in the Tampa Bay Times; Life Times April 25th 2012.

Friday, 1 June 2012

A Coats Crochet Design no. 267


So I thought we'd get back to more lighthearted posts after the emotional struggle of the immigration posts by talking about something crafty.

I couldn't tell you the last time I crocheted a doiley. They are funny things to crochet - you go around and around and a pattern just grows from only using a couple of stitches. Yet they are certainly of an era when you'd stick one under your plates, your cake stand or your flower pot. You'd make them for your dresser and pass them on as gifts. For me they sit on my dresser and underneath my compacts - not only to protect them but they are of the same period. They may not be to everyone's taste but I love making them and that's probably why I never end up buying any when we go to estates sales - sometimes I just prefer to make my own.

While the actual Coats pattern isn't printed with a date, I've seen this pattern [no.267] being dated to 1953. It was one I grabbed for 50p with a handful of it's sister publications from a charity shop back home in Yorkshire. Yes vintage crochet patterns are another thing I love to re-home with my collection spanning from 1915 to the 1980s. This pattern of stars and pineapples was meant to only be 9 inches in diameter but as time as passed finding the more intricate crochet thread is a challenge in itself so I opted to using this multicolored Coats yarn so its ended up being a grand 15". So say's bigger isn't better?!

Have you ever been tempted to crochet? Do you like using vintage patterns?