Thursday, 27 September 2012

VINTAGE: Differences Between the US & UK

Hunting for vintage goodies is a huge pastime on both sides of the Atlantic. But the methods and ways of finding them couldn't be any different - from car boots to estate sales lets have a closer look.

The car boot [pictured to the left] - the car boot sale appears to be very much a British pastime whereby individuals come to sell their items typically within a field or carpark through an organised selling. People park up, use their car boot [trunk to Americans] or tables and sell, sell, sell. Normally selling off former possessions they are similar to a flea market in seeing everything from antiques, collectibles to second hand clothing. But generally cheaper, a lot cheaper. This isn't to say they don't exist here in the US but they are much less heard of.

Yard/garage sales [also known as tag/porch/barn/basement/roof/carport sales] - you could say a yard sale is the somewhat American equivalent to the car boot although on a smaller scale and very much undertaken by the individual, multifamily or with the neighbours. Drive along any urban street once Spring hits and you'll see sign after sign directing you towards yard/garage sales - they are HUGE in the US. We've stopped at a couple but they tend to be more geared and ideal if you're after toys, baby items, clothes and things you'd traditionally find in a garage. The worlds longest yard sale in fact starts [or ends depending on which way you're driving] in Michigan - at 630 miles long it runs along Highway 27 whereby people just set our their tables along the road. 

Estate sales - these tend to dominate the American side of finding vintage stuff and are certainly a big hit in larger cities. Perhaps us British folk are  too passive and not wanting to be seen as nosey but it's a wonder they haven't made a mark on the UK scene. Estate sales tend to occur after the former owner has died or they are moving and need rid - some of the houses can be in bad states to other being in perfect condition - which often reflects on the prices you'll be paying. Sometimes they can be so busy, especially on the first morning that you have to wait to be allowed in.

Charity shops - while they certainly both exist both sides of the pond there are certainly differences. In the UK at least there are far more smaller, independent local charity shops for the local hospice then say in the US [or at least that is the case within metro Detroit]. As with many things the US goes to town and the stores tend to be a lot larger with more national brands like The Salvation Army and Goodwill. They also tend to be a lot more used too.

The similarities between the two nations certainly exist when it comes to antique and flea markets where you can either find yourself grabbing a great deal or being seriously over priced. Sometimes there's just no difference!

Where are your favorite places to go vintage picking?!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Refashioning Old Maps Into Envelopes

You might remember the bunch of old 1970s road state maps hidden in the box of vintage patterns we grabbed at an estate sale the other month. I'd admit to not really knowing what to do or create with them, but after having a good look around pinterest I decided to turn them into some envelopes. There's nothing amazingly brainy about it just using a template and gluing the sides in place. I love how they all turn out different, you can make statements with the advertisements down the sides, the name places and how the roads cross and fall along the page. These ones above were made from Nevada - Utah and a Central Western American map, but I also created some with a Montana map too.

Have you ever made your own envelopes?

Sunday, 23 September 2012

September sponsors - part two

Using Passionfruit for my ad spaces has certainly being a benefit, and if your thinking of setting up for blog swaps then I would really recommend using them. Passionfruit also lets you sign up to be a sponsor throughout the month which means we have a part two introductory hello. Again I hope you can spare some time to pay them all a visit, say hello and perhaps make some new blog reads in the process. 

Kayla blog - The Rural Knitter is just celebrating her first full month of serious blogging and she's certainly making a mark in the blogging world. With a wonderful mix of lifestyle and crafts you not only get to see her cute bears she's knitted and who lounge in teacups to beautiful snapshots of her world in Newfoundland.

Another new sponsor to the blog for September is Helena who's blog is a great mix of beauty reviews, nail art, everyday life to some gorgeous photographs of her travels. Her recent photographs of Thailand have been giving me itchy feet to see some more of the world!

Finally I'm welcoming back Bex from Futures for another month of sponsoring my little blog. She's an amazing blogger and friend. If you like your blogs lifestyle and beauty based then you must check out Futures. You might even have spied my guest post on Futures this week while Bex has been having a break in Rome [lucky girl!].

*  *  *

If you fancy seeing your blog or online store advertised in the same places next month, just head to my sponsorship page for more details - there's a range of sizes and prices to suit everyone! While I do have the option for blog swaps, please bare in mind I'm currently fully booked till December.

Friday, 21 September 2012

How we got married for less then $1000

When people talk about weddings and getting married they always come out with insanely high prices. Perhaps they aren't that insane - just the going rate for what a wedding costs. But they don't have to be that way. Granted our wedding was small, we had five guests but it was booked last minute but some of the tips can be passed on regardless of the scale of your big day. Admittedly we saved on our wedding because we wanted to splash out on Chicago, our honeymoon - that's just the way we are and this is just how we did it our way. 

Paperwork; $20/£12
Like everyone we had to have a wedding licence to get married, luckily it only cost $20. [No getting around this].

Stationary; $20/£12
If your crafty you can keep your costs down by making a lot of the stationary items yourself which is what we did with the invites. After finding a love bird stamp on etsy which we could personalise with our initials for $9 it was the perfect for stamping postcards and slotting them into envelopes. [Think save the dates, invites and thanks you].

Our home made invites.

Venue; $300/£185
We got married at the Teacup Wedding venue which is in Ann Arbor, about an hour away from where we live. It was an internet find, one specialising in low budget quick weddings which was ideal for us because of the whole visa issue - not knowing when I was moving and having only 90 days in which to do it. Dates can be booked at the last minute with great prices. The amount of guests affects the price so we opted for the package with six guests - we still could pick the style of the ceremony [religious/humanist]. It suited us just fine because we never wanted that church wedding because we're not religious. [Just think outside the box].

Meal; $200/£125
Having a celebratory meal was always important to me and a more informal way of getting everyone around the table talking for us and our five guests. We opted to go to the lovely Italian restaurant Grazi, also in Ann Arbor - we didn't hold back in splashing out either on $40 glasses of wine and really nice meals. This way we got lovely food and drink and didn't have to bother with hiring venues and so on. Yes we were sitting along the normal guests within the restaurant but it got people coming up and congratulating us - but you could always hire a private room. 

Dresses and suits; $245/£150
always wanted a dress that I would, or at least could wear again - to me wearing a dress just once is a waste of money. But I could never picture myself in a traditional wedding dress - just not me at all. After not seeing any dress I liked in department stores I ended up buying one from Forever 21 for $30. Yes $30. Granted most brides probably don't buy their dress from a high street store but it suited me to a tee and it's what I felt confident in. Shoes were from Payless for $15 and the jewelry I already had or were gifted to me [more about what I wore can be read here].

My dress

With regards to suits for Joe - we went to the Men's Warehouse - a huge chain in the US which has gorgeous contemporary suits. Making the most of their offers we actually came away with two for $200 mainly because Joe didn't own one already - if he had, it would have been even cheaper. But a suits an investment anyway. 

Rings; $90/£55
Now that might seem very cheap but let me explain. My own ring was a gift from Joe's gran which fitted perfectly and I love knowing it has a history behind it. So that left us only having to buy a ring for Joe which we managed to pick up at a JC Penny's sale. Using a family members discount we got it even cheaper. My parents wedding rings were cheap ones and they've lasted 30 odd years. You don't have to splash out.

Flowers; $35/£25
As soon as you mention flowers when it comes to wedding and the costs will shoot through the skies. A way of keeping it cheaper is to make your own bouquet. Being winter and not having a garden ourselves this was a little limited, but when there's a will there's a way. What's big in the US is using fake flower bouquets - not only are they cheaper, they are crafty and, well mines still alive today and makes a great center piece on our dinning table. Again I was savvy and brought my fake bouquet from Michael's while it was half off in a sale.

Flowers 4
 My flowers.

Photography; free
Whatever your budget you want some great photographs to remember the day. In our case I gave my camera to one of our guests [who volunteered I didn't make them] and they snapped away. We don't have hundreds of photographs and we don't have all those posed ones everyone else has, but that's fine by us.

Grand total - $910/£560
So that was our way, granted it still cost us money - but its what we could afford. We didn't have hand outs by family members. We paid for it all ourselves, so we had it our way. Never feel like you have to have a huge wedding if that isn't what you - its your special day and your guests will enjoy it all the same, and if you want to include the honeymoon it would still be less then $2000 all in. I hope anyone can take some tips or ideas off ours.

Would you ever have a super low key wedding? Share your tips in your comments for keeping to a budget!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Letter From America

It's crazy to think 1999 was 13 years ago. It was the year I started senior school, I remember it being a year of wearing a horrid bottle green uniform, hating cross country and making French teachers cry [not by me personally, but the class collective]. I only released this when I was bidding on a postage scale for my ebay selling. There's no way I'd call it vintage - but I only want to say that about things from before the 80s. Maybe it's retro? Or just mature.

Either way I needed a set of scales. If you know anything about the difference between American and British baking/cooking you know Americans prefer to measure in cups. There's no scales in sight. Which makes it hard when your living in a scale-less apartment to weight items your selling to get the shipping charges spot on. The area we're we've failed a couple of times on eBay is loosing all our profits because we undercharged - those darn Transformers Toys can be pretty heavy you'd be surprised. After months of complaining about me guessing weights I finally took to eBay to buy some scales. I wanted vintage [or course] but I wanted big proper old kitchen scales. Until Joe pointed me in the direction of postage scales and sadly most were Chinese and digital. That made me sad. The oldest going was this 1999 pelouze 16oz scale which for 0.99 cents you can't really complain about. And when it turned up I was weighing everything.

Apparently a first class stamp through the United States Postage Service [or as we more loving call it USPS] in 1999 cost you a mere 33 cents and in 13 years its only gone up 12c to 45c but lets see how that compares to the UK pricing.

  • One first class stamp - in the UK the "aim' is for it be delivered the next day and costs 60p [90c] compared to the US first class stamp costing 45c [30p] which is actually cheaper then the UK's second class post and offers delivery within three days - which when you compare the size of the county is probably a good deal.
  • Second class - the UK has a second class postage option which costs 50p [75c] and is a three day service, which as an option doesn't exist in the US.
  • Sending a postcard - if you were to send a holiday postcard to the US from the UK you'd be spending 87p [$1.31], in reverse you'd be only paying $1.05 [70p]. 

You can really see how different the prices are when it comes to something as standard as posting a letter. And it's not like the USPS system doesn't have competition in the US - it has loads. There's FedEx shops, UPS and DHL available everywhere [well within cities] the American post system doesn't have the run of the mill and control the postage arena like the Post Office in the UK does.

The only problems I've found is when it comes to international mailing, more so when it's coming into the US from the UK. At times it's taken anywhere between three days to three months - no joke. I have no idea where the said parcels go, visit, end up in before they arrive with me but they certainly must go on some journey. 

What do you think about the old price of posting these days? I know it's always a hot topic in the UK!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

LIFE: As The Leaves Start to Change

Here in Michigan the leaves are slowly starting to turn. Their edges are turning burnt yellows and oranges and a few have found their way to the ground. Days are getting a little cooler, yet it can be humid and foggy and mornings have a crisper edge to them and yes, yesterday we stuck the heating back on. Autumn, or fall as they term it in the US has always been one of my favourite times of the year. The sound of crunching leaves, ripening apples and now the prospect of visiting local cider mills is exciting and my birthday in a few weeks. Butterflies are also a little easier to spy as the summer drifts slowly into autumn, just like this pretty beauty at the Kensington Metropark.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The City Within

So my favourite piece from the estate sale picking this weekend was one gallery expo catalog still sitting a shelf 30 minutes before the end of a sale. Yeah, it was coming home with me. Moving to metro Detroit I love learning the history of what is around me especially history captured through a camera. The Detroit captured through the lens of the city born photojournalist J. Edward Bailey III was one still coming to terms with the race riots of 1967, poverty and disorder. The City Within was published in 1969 to accompany a Detroit Institute of the Arts exhibition, while parts of this exhibition were of it's time, many issues are still resonate today. Particularly the human condition.

Children still play, houses lay empty but there is a new sense of hope within the city. Yet things have changed since 1969 whichever way you look at it. There is no need to mention so forwardly that Bailey himself was black - [although that is not to say that race isn't important] and the forwarding note corresponds with the racial equality movement of that time, that Bailey was just "a man with a camera". The images provided with the catalog documents the sense of hope and change, but also the changing 1960s world of the old and new colliding. Of the looks and stares by the elderly upon an interracial couple, ongoing racial tensions and protests but hope and change through official lines of city leaders but more so through love and the young.

Friday, 14 September 2012

DIY - Glass Stencilled Jam Jars

DIY jam jar Martha Stewart stencil project

This happy blogger received a huge box filled with Plaid's new range of Martha Stewart glass paints and accessories which you can find in Michael's for a future campaign in October. But I wanted to get going right away in familiarising myself with the product and make something useful at the same time. What's better then a jam jar?! We all probably have a couple stashed away for recycling, storage or jam making and I've always had a couple in the bathroom storing those little odds and ends. But they were always a little drab and well, plain. Here's how I went about adding some colour.

I decided to decorate my recycled jam jars using the lacy doily silkscreen stencils - one of a doily and another a butterfly. I haven't done any silk screening since high school or any stencil work for so long that the idea of it was a little daunting. But the screen prints have an adhesive backing which hold the design in place against the glass and I was happily surprised at just how easy they were to apply and use.

To make your own stenciled jam jar designs you'll need;

Martha Stewart glass silkscreen in doily lace
Martha Stewart glass handled squeegees set

You need your jam jar to be nice and clean, you can remove that stubborn sticky label residue with a thorough wash or with rubbing alcohol. Either way it needs to be completely dry. Cutting out your chosen stencil, removing it from the backing paper carefully position it on your jam jar, smoothing out to the edges. Press so it adheres well - it can be a little tricky with any vertical curves in the jar so you might have to use some tape to hold in place.

Taking your chosen colour of the Martha Stewart multi-surface paint, run a small amount along the top of the silkscreen. With your squeegee drag down and across until the design is covered. As soon as your done, remove the stencil while it's drying and wash straight away as to not damage the mesh from any dried paint remains.

After you've removed your silkscreen it'll look something the above image. It dries in a good 30 minutes but you still need to "cure" your design which will preserve it. Instructions on the paint bottle indicated it required to be cured for 30 minutes in a 350F oven. Then your jars are free to do as you will - I placed ours on one of the bathroom shelves and refilled one with cotton wool and the smaller jar with hair ties. Overall it was really good fun [which to me is one of the important things about making anything] and it was super quick to get your results, additionally the silkscreens provide some gorgeous designs. I love how eye catching and powerfully bright the red is - which matches perfectly with our bath towels and mats.

Have you ever painted on glass? Would this be something you'd like to do?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

DETROIT: Navy Week 2012

The past weekend marked one of the Navy stops on it's tour marking the two hundredth anniversary of the war of 1812 [us English were fighting the newly independently US]. This war alone is credited as shaping the modern US Navy and at the time the Great Lakes [lakes bordering the US and Canada of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Erie, Huron and Ontario] were a major transportation route. The US gaining control of these lakes stopped the English advancement further westwards. So this English girl and her American boy went down to the Detroit Riverfront on Sunday to have a look on a gorgeous late summer afternoon.

So for a couple of days boats were docked and welcome tourists aboard. This year we managed to see the US two masted Brigg Niagara [pictured] a reconstructed boat which helped the US win the battle of 1813 and the Navy patrol ship USS Hurricane [additionally pictured], and on the Canadian side of the river the HMCS Ville de Quebec was docked. Further down the river was a coastal guard and another navy ship. We also managed to get close up to some humvee's [hummers] which is often considered the vehicular backbone to the US military although many countries globally use them. After you always hear so much about the US military it was great to come face to face with some of their ships and vehicles. But more importantly to me at least, it was great to see the Detroit Riverfront so popular and busy.

Have you ever seen any old ships?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

DETROIT: American Pride

With today being the 11th of September and it being my first year actually being in the US on this date, I thought it would be fitting to dedicate this post to showing you two of the GM cars painted to commemorate the victims of the attack and show some American pride. This weekend saw the arrival of Navy Week to Detroit [more on that tomorrow] and as part of the celebrations GM had on display two Chevy's painted by Mickey Harris to show some American patriotism - one vehicle dedicated to all thing American and another remembering the tragic events of that September day. Both these vehicles were airbrushed freehand - they are both impressive creatively.

First up is the American Pride Camero which is designed to represent "America and our struggle for freedom throughout our country's history". This car remembers those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to obtain freedom and hope through the Armed Forces, not just by American's for America, but by American's for the world. The artistry depicts Washington crossing the Delaware River, to that infamous image of the sailor and a lady kissing at the end of the war to American involvement in the Middle East alongside a whole load of eagles, stars and stripes.

There was also the First Responder Silverado on display - one marked with images from 9/11 and it's impact until the death of Osama - the date of which is marked on the rear. Artwork includes the moment President Bush was told, to eerie structural remains, the Freedom Tower to the overseeing of the attack against the Osama compound. On the hood of the Silverado a small piece of glass from the actual site of the Twin Towers attack is embedded which you can see sticking up from the hood above "let's roll". Finally the cover of the trunk/boot features the names of the 411 first responders who gave their lives in the 9/11 attacks.

The only fitting way I can think of finishing this post is to leave you with some more artistry on art hoods representing each of the military services.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Something For The Weekend - Wine Cupcakes

I love a cupcake as much as anyone - but sometimes you just need to experiment and perhaps make them a little more adult oriented. With wine. These wine cupcakes were baked for a friends birthday and have one cup of wine between the icing and the cake mixture. While you'd need a lot of them to get tipsy you can certainly taste the wine kind of in a chocolate liquor way, but nicer. Much nicer. I owe the recipe to Betty Crocker who also has a recipe I must try for Margarita cupcakes - she lives on the wild side that Betty.

Zinfandel Wine cupcakes - makes around 24


For the cupcakes;
  • 1 box of devils food mix
  • 3/4 of a cup of water
  • 1/2 a cup of Zinfandel wine
  • 1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips

And the icing;
  • 6 cups of shifted icing [confectioners] sugar
  • 1/3 of a cup of softened butter
  • 1/3 of a cup of baking cocoa
  • 1/2 a cup of Zinfandel wine

Taking the mix of the devils food, beat together with the water, wine, oil and eggs for a good 30 seconds, increasing to a high speed for a further two minutes. Beat in the chocolate chips before dividing into the bun cases.

Place in a preheated 350F oven, bake for 20/22 minutes. Cooling completely before icing.

Mix the powdered sugar, cocoa, butter with a mixture until well blended. Pour the wine in slowly, if the frosting remains too thick add more wine a little at a time. Frost your cupcakes as desired.  

They taste as good as they look. If I say so myself. I hope you're all tempted!

Thursday, 6 September 2012


Sat in my sewing corner for the last ten months has been one 1948 Kenmore 95 Rotary sewing machine. The Sears cabinet suffered a hinge death on it's move into the apartment and without any instructions we had trouble not only finding a replacement but knowing how to thread the machine. But a crafty girl breaks sometimes, when there's a machine that she can't use. A failed attempt at buying a replacement hinge and feeling the need to use my fabric goodness lead me to a tearful angry moment of threatening to throw the machine out. Said anger lead me to reconstructing the sewing machine table [you can see how it looks within it's cabinet look here] to make it usable and with a copy of the original instructions I was ready. I had no purpose or method to my sewing. I just needed to sew. Anything. It turned out I created a cushion for my sewing chair. It's rough, it's a little uneven but to me that's beside the point. It was just something I needed to do. 

Sewing anger lead to finally see past the broken hinge and I'm going to use my machine regardless. A broken hinge will not stop me any longer and hopefully my sewing adventures will continue. She's a jolly good machine too, granted not as visually pretty as my 1934 Singer with it's engraved flowers and the like - she's industrial, well built and certainly of her time. But, man can she sew. Actually goes fast enough that the thread breaks. The fact that it can only really go forward and backwards is welcoming to me - less ways to get confused and weirdly enough is powered not by a foot control, but a knee one. 

Speaking of old sewing machines ...

I think remembering I had to leave this sewing machine back in the UK was adding to my hinge anger. Sadly I wonder if this old gal will be able to ever move - being cast iron she certainly isn't the lightest of objects [I can barely carry it]. Additionally I doubt I'd use her in the US as she'd need another power change - she's already 78 years old and been adjusted from a treadle to electric. Maybe once we're flush with money I'll get her here as a display piece.

Do you have an old sewing machine? I'd love to hear all about it!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Tilt shifting

Photoshop can be a labour of love. Mostly it's never the easiest editing software to be playing with. I've been intrigued by tilt shifting photograph editing for a while and it's something I've tried a copy of times trying to attempt on photoshop with little or limited results. Then after searching google for some new tutorials and coming across this one - it seemed to fall into place. So I've ended up adapting some old photographs of York and one of Detroit at night to get me practising. I love how tilt shift makes the world look like a model and people as figurines that you could reach out, pick up and move around.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

MICHIGAN: The Renaissance Festival

If dressing up as a wench, pirate or a medieval peasant is your thing, then you might just love the Michigan Renaissance Festival which we visited at the weekend. Think vintage - but centuries old vintage. It's part festivities with jousting, fire eating and performances, part eating and drinking, a big part shopping and lots of fun. Not only could you buy yourself a brand new sword, but leather armour, chain mail, corsets, natural soaps, teas to glass wear and jewellery. Staff and visitors both dress up which creates a really fun atmosphere, plus Joe ended up going in jail for $3 and having to sing "I'm a little teapot" just to be released which was great fun. Watching jousting was my favourite part of the day, while it's nothing like proper jousting and involves a lot of play acting it was certainly a laugh. We came away with the latest tend for drinking - a drinking horn [pictured], handmade soap to a glass penguin and crazy little mushroom men to stick into planters. Our feet were tired and we were getting a little too sun burnt to get around everything but we're certainly off back next year.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Drum roll to the new sponsors

A new month and some new blog sponsors. This is the second month of doing sponsors on LOTS so i'm always looking for new ways for growing my blog and helping other bloggers out in growing their audience and I'd love you to find some new great reads in this lot! So make sure you get clicking those pretty buttons in my sidebar!

First I'd love to introduce you to Sarah's blog Life in a Break Down. What is great about Sarah's blog is the impressive mix between lifestyle, blog hops and beauty posts. Not only that but her honesty and personality really shine through.
You might recall my blog giveaway for a free advertising slot for September. Well I'm glad to introduce you to the winner - Anastasia who blogs over on the very pretty blog Dainty Desires. If you love your blogs to be a great mixture of lifestyle and beauty posts then you can't go wrong with playing this lovely girl a visit.

I'm more then happy to be hosting Claire for another month. The more I read clareabellemakes the more crafty missions I want to go on - even getting me attempting to remake some friendship bracelets I haven't even attempted at crafting since I was about seven. Whether your an actual crafter or someone who admires those who are, you'll find something creative and certainly inspiring.

If you love your blogs being a great mixture of all things lifestyle, personal, photography and all things vintage [well you probably are because that's what my blogs all about] then you'll love Razu's blog Princess Corner. Blogging from El Salvador is a girl after my own heart with her mix of tea, vintage finds and adventures. 
Following on with the crafty themed blogs we have the addition of Karen from the quintonwench - a lifestyle meets craft blogger. I've already got some great Christmas crafty ideas but there's plenty of projects for the home - I'm particularly loving these twine balls and these British jam jar tealight holders and I love her photographs of her family adventures.

The second smaller blog I'm helping to promote this month is the US based blog Ave Renee. Not only does she have a dog called Moose [seriously how cool?!] but her blog managed to creatively collide everything in a girls life.

A month in and I've adapted passionfruits as my way of organising blog ads [although you can still purchase any ad spot outside of using this app]. Hopefully it'll make buying and organising spots a little easier. So whatever size your blog or online store is, there's a size of ad and a price to fit all of you. There's even TWO FREE blog swaps a month [well every 30 days] - although as I write this there's only one left. Additionally passionfruits lets me upload ads throughout the month and stores your ad up till there's a space if it's fully booked. Make sure to check out my sponsor page for more details.