Friday, 31 August 2012

Compacts - Three Years On

Three years ago today my gran died - a lot of things have changed since then and if there's a positive to come from her passing it really opened my eyes into the world of collecting vintage things. You'll probably all know the story of randomly finding five powder compacts in her collection. Other family members wanted to throw them out, but I grabbed and kept them. 

These are the ones I saved; blue plastic compact with Avon marked on the puff, Stratton compact [round gold design] square Vogue Vanitie compact with white lace detailing, horseshoe material compact closed with a zip featuring Gorey Castle and an over sized Gorey Castle compact with watercolour picture.

Little did I know that three years on I would own 49 compacts spanning over 80 years and manufactured in 4 different countries [Germany, France, England and the United States]. Everything I know about the compacts has been self taught through the countless compact books I own alongside the two notebooks I have crammed with information I've come across elsewhere. Although I never got chance to bring all my compacts over to the US [I think about 9 are back in the UK] one day my collection will be reunited.

If I had to show you my favorites, well that would be hard. I love them all for different ways - why we brought them, where we found them, maybe it's the colour. But I've managed to pick out six which inspired different parts of my collection;

From top to bottom, left to right;
  1. The compact that started it off - Vogue Vanitie square English compact, the lack of the "s" in vanities indicates this compact was produced between 1940-42 as the introduction of that extra letter only occurred after the company restarted production after WW2.
  2. One of the first compacts Joe brought me - 1950s unused Marhill [American] butterfly compact designed with imitation mother of pearl slab.
  3. Adventuring into mixed compacts/vanities - Columbia 5th Avenue compact, another gift from Joe came with unopened Jergens foundation sachet and hidden rogue compartment under the mirror. The rhinestone detailing always caught my eye and I've been wondering since 2010 as to what it's meant to be.
  4. Edinburgh find - while holidaying in Edinburgh we were staying so close to so many vintage shops and found this gorgeous, rare 1950s Flamingo compact. I love that it's oval and the flower detailing is divine. This was the first compact I shelled out on - spending £30 for it.
  5. War love birds - this Zell compact was one of my greatest eBay finds, not only was it unused but it was complete with its original box and mailing boxes which themselves told such a great story of this compact being given as a gift during the war.
  6. Start of the souvenir collection - after visiting Chicago my eyes were open to all kinds of souvenirs and after spotting this 1933 World Fair compact it found it's way into my collection. It might be small but its still a mixed rogue and powder compact, I love the space age feel to it too. It's also one of my oldest.
Where my collection will go in another three years, who knows!

Friday, 24 August 2012

EXPAT: Over The Edge - 9 Months In

Well technically it's closer to 10 months but life is finally starting to settle down in the state of Michigan. I thought it was high time for an update of being an English girl living in the US. 

Over the past couple of months, our little urban corner of south east Michigan increasingly feels like home. I'm developing a somewhat pride-like sense of being in the sprawl and shadow of Detroit. It was a city I first learnt about in GCSE geography through Henry Ford and his mass production. The more I come to learn about the city, it's importance historically and commercially the more I feel determined to highlight on my blog the positive images, places and things really going on. They might not necessarily all be in the city limits but metro Detroit is too overshadowed by the same assumptions. I know my posts about Detroit aren't the biggest hit on my blog - I can tell by less views and comments, but it's important to me, I'm a lifestyle blogger and I'm going to write about what we get up too. That's not going to change because some people might not like the city I live in/near.

Maybe my greater sense of being settled in the US is through immigration changes occurring in the UK. You may or may not have seen my rants on twitter about the Tory policy being pushed through which would require me and Joe to have £60,000 [$93,000] in savings if we wished to return to the UK with Joe has my husband without us having a job to go to first. Yeah because people in their mid twenties have that money hanging around. I'll spare you my rant about how the British government washes their hands of you if you immigrant or fall in love with someone outside of the UK.

While I got my green card back in the end of May the paperwork still continues mostly in the part of running between national departments. Getting Social Security numbers [which to UK readers is like getting your National Insurance Number which your tax is sorted through] was a nightmare - it makes me wonder why they don't just give you your SS number when you get authorisation to work. It would make greater sense. Then I've been trying to apply for state ID - so I don't always have to show my green/work card just to be able to get served in a bar. But I can't get said card without an SS card. You get the feeling of going round in circles. 

Another thing which bugs me about being an immigrant is how you can sometimes be treated - and I know I suffer it less then others. Most of the times because I'm white people don't assume me to be an immigrant. Until I'm in a government department building like social security and I'm with Joe. Then because I'm with him at the booth, they see I'm foreign and therefore assume I can't speak/understand English and talk about me and my application directly to Joe rather then to me. I actually had to butt into the conversation and get her to talk actually at me. 

Job hunting seems to be the same regardless of the country. It's tiring, endless and feels like you get nowhere. Don't get me wrong there does seem to be more jobs out here in Michigan which I apply for and as I remember from my job hunting days in the UK you never hear anything back. Not a word. It annoys me that employers can't take the time to say thank you in a quick email for applying for jobs. Even from the one interview I've already had I never heard anything after that. Rude. 

Generally life is good, and most importantly I'm with Joe. I have my eBay selling to keep me busy when I'm not job hunting. I've learnt a lot about myself, refound my love for reading, started new crafts, re-homed a new kitty and found a passion for estate sales.

I know you all love my UK/USA comparisons posts but it's something I get a little mind blocked at times - so wing some ideas what you'd love to hear comparisons about!  

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Five decent books I've recently read

I've found the best way to find new reads is by looking at other peoples reading lists and basically doing shout outs. So I thought I'd take the time to tell you some of the better reads I've been storming through lately. In order to help everyone out make sure to leave you're own recommendations in the comments!

I recently went through a bit of a thing of trying to always pick up one Agatha Christie book from the library on every trip. As a teenager she was one of my favourite authors but I haven't touched her since and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side was a great reintroduction featuring the nosey Ms Maple. Don't expect gruesome murders or horror filled grime just a tale of murder and intrigue. Going on from the murder theme I've really got into noir novels through reading The Black Dahlia which came from a similar book theme on Dainty Desires. Set in 1940s Hollywood it's based on a true story, while the beginning was slow it's certainly worth sticking with as you untangle the mystery and the depths a murder can take upon those trying to solve the crime.

Jane Green is a more contemporary women's writer rather then calling her books chic lit and there's more to her histories then just a love story. The Beach House tells the story of characters male and female coming together at confusing and challenging times in their lives, all brought together under a house by the beach that is itself struggling to keep up with time. Sophie Kinsella is my favourite chic lit writer - she always makes me laugh and her books are always great page turners. I've Got Your Number is an adventure into the life of a girl who lost her own phone and picked up one left by someone else and is left with the consequences of peeking into someone else's world while trying to deal with her own wedding dilemmas. Twenties Girl, also by Kinsella is another great read and certainly a tear jerker.

I don't think you particularly need to a fan of science fiction to enjoy H.G Well's novels. As a fan of War of the Worlds [yes that was originally a book not a lame Tom Cruise film] I've always been one for branching out and reading his other work [Ann Veronica being a particular favourite]. While it's somewhat of it's time The Invisible Man a tale of a society coming to terms with the shock and horror such a creation and what it allows him to do.

If you really are into your reading and you're not signed up already I would really recommend joining the Good Reads website. Not only can you create virtual shelves of the books you have to read, read or currently reading, its great at recommending you books you might like on how you rate the books you've enjoyed. I've found it really invaluable to finding books I might not necessarily have considered.

What have been your great reads lately?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Giveaway winner and September sponsorship!

A somewhat delayed announcement of the winner of the September ad spot goes to Anastasia who blogs over on Dainty Desires. I'm very happy her pretty little blog ad will be sitting itself to the right of my blog for September! But make sure you go and check out her blog ahead of time! 

Do you too fancy adding your blog/online store to the list for September too? It couldn't be any easier! Starting from $5 you can get your ad featured for the whole calender month and be presented to my readers in a big shout out. What could be better then reaching out to my readers on both side of the Atlantic especially for my birthday month?! You can find more details here.

Fancy it? Stick your name down and some method of contacting you [if I don't know you already] or email me over at

Monday, 20 August 2012

Woodward Dream Cruise

While I can't bring you the smell of the petrol fumes and the reeving of the engines both old and new this is a somewhat small showing of the Woodward Dream Cruise. You might not necessarily be into old cars - and don't get me wrong I know very little about them myself, but I boy can I appreciate a old pretty car and have somewhat longings to own one someday. I've always been exposed to old cars with my uncle doing 1930s cars up and my former neighbour in the UK owning three old cars himself and working on them. I always find older cars to have more style compared to their modern counterparts.

So on Saturday me and the boy took ourselves to sitting by the roadside along Woodward Avenue watching the 18th Dream Cruise. You might wonder what the Dream Cruise actually is - but it's the worlds largest one day celebration of classic old cars. It's part rally, part cruising, part pretty cars parked up along the 16 miles between Ponatic and into Detroit here in Michigan. And why in Metro Detroit? Because here in Detroit we're home to the birth of the automotive - we're the Motor City.

They don't close the road down so you'll find the typical road user [most normal/sane drivers find alternative routes] trying to rev up their engine against original Model-T's, Packards, muscle cars, hot rods to the newest Ford releases. People travel from all around the country, even stated the world just to attend this event and it's certainly more hands on then the British affair of just parking old cars up in a field. It was just a delight watching them drive by.
On the night we headed down to Ferndale for drinks which was running as the end of the Dream Cruise - Ford had a big display of their latest models with a funfair and music. Pretty fun way to experience my first dream cruise. Especially when we headed home with a load of walnut and chocolate shortcake fudge.

Hope you all had exciting weekends!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

SOAD & What Not To Do At Gigs

I thought I'd use this post as part feature about the Deftones and System of a Down gig we went to on Tuesday night and part rant about what you shouldn't do at gigs just as a general humorous rant.

But first lets start with the gig from Tuesday night. It was held at the DTE Energy Music Theatre which is a part covered amphitheater with seating going upwards finished off by a load of lawns surrounding. Even though we were pretty far back we still had an amazing view and the venue has live filming broadcasting on screens either side of the stage. Extreme traffic back up meant we arrived part way though the Deftones supporting set but from what we did hear they were certainly on form.

But System of a Down really nailed it, they appeared from behind their white curtain, playing loud and hard and did so for a full hour and thirty minutes. Predominately playing their big hits from Hypnotise and Toxicity and a few of their older songs thrown in for good matter. Ariel's, Lonely Day, Old School Hollywood and BOYB certainly got the biggest cheers with Cigaro even starting as a somewhat ballad was hilarious. Watching them sing they are so animated - just as you imagine and they sounded fantastic.

There are some things as a person who loves to attend gigs I've noticed. I don't mean to be cynical and ranting but there are things I wish people didn't do. You're there for the music and if you're full attention isn't on that, then you're missing out.

Driving - if you're driving to a gig in a venue that's in the middle of nowhere be prepared for the traffic to be insane. It took us 45 mins to go a mile once the traffic built up before the turn off on the interstate. If you don't want to piss off you're fellow gig goers don't think it's cool pushing you're car in before theirs and especially don't do it in front of our car - because we won't let you in. Get you and your car to be back of the queue like everyone else.

People who film the whole concert with their phone - stood in-front of us was one girl filming the entire gig on her phone. Even I could see over her shoulder that the film was blurry and just comprised of all the pretty flashes of lighting. The sound will be horrid so why bother wasting you're time and you're more likely annoying the people behind you with your arm in the air?!

Taking pictures the whole way through - granted you'll want to take a couple, maybe even a few - I do. But don't spend the whole concert doing it and like mine you'll just get tiny figures that looked something like the band.

Prepare for everything to be overpriced - from paying $8.50 for a pint of beer to them waiting $40 for a tee gigs are overpriced to the hilt. Saying that my Trivium tee was only $20 which in comparison is a bargain. All goes by the size of the band. Nevertheless take lots of cash with you.

Pushing and shoving - if your at a metal gig it comes with the territory, get over it.

I thought I'd leave you with the lighter moment from the Lonely Day song. Being outside people were actually able to use lighters too [like the UK there's the whole non indoor smoking thing too over here] and well the modern version of using your phone. Quite a goosebumps moment seeing all those lights coming up from crowds watching from the hillside.

What would be your gigging rants or tips?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Taxes and The Arts

 Adolphe-William Bouguereau's The Nut Gathers which can be seen at the DIA. Source.

Art galleries are now more then ever in the UK under pressure to make their social benefits heard as the country sinks further into recession. Bankers may not be facing more taxes but the arts certainly are finding less pennies in their piggy banks. But is this actually what the tax paying public want? According to a recent primary election here in Detroit funding cuts to the arts may not necessarily be the case. 

But let me start with the UK. Art in the UK is run through the Arts Council of England [ACE] under instruction from the government. Founded in 1945 it is home to 7,500 artworks which it lends out to galleries and museums. While under the Labour admission it received huge payouts to invest in galleries and theatres, a change in government resulted in a 29% cut in funding due to a parliamentary select committee deciding it was grossing wasting public money. Today ACE aren't commissioning any new galleries and have been forced to sell many of their contemporary art pieces to create extra funding. 

Art has all too often been considered an "idle pastime for idle moments" and while a country is suffering through it's age of austerity giving out tax payers money for new pretty pictures or theatre performances many would have you believe was a waste. But have the government actually asked the tax payers themselves if they want to continue funding the arts, in say a referendum? No, of course not.  

 The DIA - Detroit - source

But that is just what happened here in Detroit on August 7th. As Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties went to the polls for the primary elections a mileage was passed to create a tax to fund the Detroit Institute of Arts [DIA]. For the next ten years this tax will raise $23 million dollars annually will to keep the DIA's doors open to the public. What does this mean to the people living Detroit and the metro region? Well it's attached to the value of your home, so if you're home is worth $200,000 you'll be paying an extra $20 a year in property tax. 

The DIA itself is considered one of America's top museums in having one of the biggest collections of artworks in the country, housing works by O'Keeffe, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso and even a Warhol. While I'm not sure of the state of art galleries else where in the US, here in Detroit the state and to a point the city wiped their hands clean of the DIA in the 1990s. Since then it's been almost run entirely as a private business. What little funding the DIA was receiving from the state was slashed a further 25% in 2009 and things were starting to fall apart, money needed to come from somewhere before the gallery had to start cutting hours, jobs and ultimately closing. Unlike ACE, the DIA couldn't just sell art because not only would it violate museum practices but would "isolate the DIA from the national and international museum community". 

Opposition was calling this tax an extra increase on the tax payer - why not merely increase the entrance fee but that was only providing 3% of the galleries income originally. [Yes this may be odd to residents of the UK and some US cities but the DIA charges entrance fees of $8]. The mileage under the "Art is for everyone" campaign was welcomed as one people would be willing to pay to keep the art gallery doors open and the future of the DIA is much more secure. Furthermore, residents of the three counties now get in for free [including us] and another local city - Ann Arbor is calling for a similar mileage to be passed for their galleries. In a city like Detroit the arts and their institutions are vital not only for future generations, but for us - the current residents. They can inspire change and hope which is so very important in a city that the media likes to write off. 

Diego Rivera's [the husband of Frida Kahlo] Detroit Industry [the north wall] again at the DIA. Source

What I hope this comes to show is that often people do want to keep the arts going and are willing to pay a little extra to keep them open for everyone. Times may be hard but they can see the importance of keeping their doors open and want their voices to be heard. Maybe if the UK government could be as brave in asking the public what they wanted to do with the arts it wouldn't be heading the way it unfortunately is.

What is your view, would you be willing to pay a little extra for the arts? Would you love to tell the government what you think about the arts and funding? Or do you think the arts need to be cut in harder times?

Monday, 13 August 2012

DETROIT: The Anne Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

We gave estate sales a miss at the weekend after nothing grabbing our attention on the websites so took ourselves off to play at being tourists again on Belle Isle - that island between the US and Canada. I had my eye on getting over to the conservatory come greenhouse and botanical gardens - also known as the Anne Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory for some photographs and it certainly didn't disappoint. 

To the front of the conservatory are huge sweeping lawns and boxed hedges leading to a fountain, flanked by brightly coloured flower borders. You can just see the Detroit skyline in the distance in the last image. I always love the vast grand architecture of glass conservatories and this one certainly didn't disappoint. While it was open we didn't venture inside as Joe's allergies were acting up but in the cooler autumn months ahead we're certainly coming back. Inside it's home to the worlds largest collection of orchids with many being shipped here from the UK to save British collections during WW2.

To the rear of the conservatory next to the aquarium which I'll be blogging about soon was a huge koi fish pond covered in flowering lilies, rocks and ornaments. It was such a tranquil peace to watch the water and reflect a while. I know my posts about life and things to do in Detroit don't appeal to everyone but to me they are important in providing the opposite to what people would like to see written about the city.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Ad spot giveaway for September!

Call it slightly being ahead of the game with planning sponsor blog slots for September already but I wanted to make sure you all had plenty of time to not only win but to design your blog button if you don't have one already. And if you don't win you'll still have plenty of time to show your interest in signing up. 

This giveaway is also a mini celebration of blogging here on LOTS for three years. The actual birthday was in July but like a bad mother I forgot the date and it past me by, so to make up I'm offering one of you the chance of winning a blog advertisement slot for free for September. August has been the first month for offering ads so hopefully this will give more promotion and boost interest too for the forthcoming months ahead.

The competition will be open for five days, it's open to anyone regardless of following my blog but you must have a blog or a shop to advertise otherwise it would be slightly pointless for both of us! Please do enter with an email address that you frequently use!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And lastly, good luck to everyone! 

Friday, 10 August 2012

FOOD: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Failure in making a carrot cake once before slightly put me off ever trying to bake using carrot again until I started craving it and then the stomach just commends me to try. This was another recipe I adapted from a cake based recipe into cupcakes and changed some of the ingredients around. If I do say so myself it made some super tasty little cupcakes that are lovely and moist and certainly rich in flavour. You could use the normal cream cheese frosting you traditionally get with  carrot cakes but I didn't have any and it tastes just as good without.

INGREDIENTS - makes 16/18 nice sized cupcakes
  • 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose [or plain] flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups of grated carrots - around 5/6 medium sized carrots
  • 1/2 cup of raisins

Place the sugar and vegetable oil into a bowl mix together for 2 to 3 mines. Add in the eggs one by one followed by the flour, baking powder and baking soda alongside the cinnamon and ginger mixing well. Stir in the grated carrots and add in the raisins. Spoon into the cupcake cases and place in a preheated oven at 180C/350F, baking for 20 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Do you partake in the odd bit of carrot cake? 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The box in the room - TV comparisons

That box in the corner, the box of entertainment is universally loved regardless of the country. Yet the attitudes that are attached to the TV and shows on it do differ. Going from having freeview to hundreds of cable channels was a shock in itself although admittedly the first time I properly got to watch American TV was in our hotel room in Chicago and that is when I feel in love with American Pickers and Pawn Stars previously to this we just had netflix. 

In the US TV shows all seem to end or start at the same time. Within two weeks most of the programs we constantly watched finished their latest series - from NCIS, Best Ink, The Big Bang Theory. They all take four months off and they'll all restart at the same time. Which is a bit of a bummer because you find you have nothing really to watch.

In the UK a new show will start and unless there's no major events [say sports and or holidays] a show will run every week without fail. In America it is so stop start. You'll get two weeks of new episodes and then a month without. Another episode and then some more reruns. It makes it hard to keep up with new and repeated episodes.  

American TV shows have HUGE budgets so they all seem like mini films with huge plots and special effects - I know Joe finds some English shows to be very limited in their wow OTT factor. I prefer the British shows because of their quirky low budgets.

The Big Bang Theory - one of America's most watched shows <3 . Source
Compared to the UK where soaps are huge. I haven't seen EastEnders [image source] since left the UK seven months ago but I know if I was to start watching again [somehow] I'd still be able to catch up. They don't tend to move that quickly in their plot line and are often rather repeating.

With regards to the news - although there's many many news channels on cable they are all very limited and bias in their broadcasting.  Especially in regards to world news. American news stations are pretty much politically run, so the news stories you hear come from a political standpoint. MSNBC is very liberal minded [that's the one I watch] whereas FOX News is in bed with the Republican party. This isn't to say the news in the UK is wholly objective but it's more so then what news we get here.

America shows tend to travel better then UK ones. We all grew up in the UK with Friends, Saved by the Bell and say Sabina The Teenage Witch. We all grew up with American TV in our lives and that's continued well into our adulthood especially with all the HBO shows that migrate eastwards. In comparison most UK shows don't really tend to get transferred over to the US, and if they do then they are remade. 

The shows that do cross and get redone is funny at times - from the UK - The Antiques Roadshow, Being Human, America's Got Talent, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, The Jeremey Kyle Show, Life on Mars, Junkyard Wards [taken off from Scrapheap Challenge], Secret Millionaire, Shark Tank [from Dragons' Den], Family Feud [USA version of Family Fortune] are all on TV today. They are even making an American version of the latest BBC adaptation of Sherlock called Elementary - we're going to refuse to watch it - how could you ever top Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman with Johnny Lee Miller [as Holmes] and Lucy Lu [as Watson]?! You just can't!

Have you ever found any differences between your own country and another? What shows would you miss if you left your home country?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

DETROIT: Engine Works Complex

How the area once was  in 1912 Source

I originally was just going to post this as an insight into some of the former buildings that made up of Detroit's past. But after watching these videos with Johnny Knoxville about Detroit it got me thinking if I really want to go down the line of posting more of Detroit's Ruin Porn. Yes Detroit has rough parts, yes there's parts I wouldn't want to walk alone in and yes, there are a lot of ruined buildings. But that isn't everything Detroit has to offer, I want my blog to come to show Detroit in another light, to be as it appears there is a general lack of Detroit being mentioned in blogsphere at least not positively.

But old buildings do have their place and not in the ruin porn sense. To me old buildings have a beauty that is often overlooked. They architecturally have a presence and a structure people should take stop and note. All buildings have a history, one that should be recognised and remembered, and as luck would have it I managed to find a fair bit of information about this building that marks Detroit's maritime history.

Once stood six interconnected buildings along Atwater St. - the complex of the merged Dry Dock Engine Works and the Detroit Dry Dock Company [together also known as the Globe Trading Company] in 1899. Prior to this date both companies had worked together manufacturing engines for boats worked on in the dry dock that sailed upon the Great Lakes. By 1900 they were Detroit's fourth largest company, employing 1337 including at one point the then unknown Henry Ford. By 1929 however the company ceased trading and the building had multiple reincarnations as a place for at separate points, cabinet and stove manufacturing [1930s] to reconditioning and appliance construction by the Detroit Edison company during the 1960s.

The oldest remaining building [the building to the left in the photographs] is the 1892 machine shop - a structure registered upon the National Register of Historic Buildings for it's steel frame construction - a novelty for it's era. By 2002, like many of it's neighbouring structures the complex was abandoned. It was promised new life with the hope of renovating the buildings into apartment complexes however this occurred with the world recession and as for it's future today, I'm not sure. A glance from the outside made it appear that the building hadn't been touched for a long while with it's row upon row of broken or boarded up windows. 

Regardless of it's decaying features I love the half washed out old painted signs which can still be just made out, the weathered affect to the brick work and the clash of the brick colour between the machine shop and the loft buildings to it's right. The 1892 iron numbering can just be made out against the brickwork upon the drainage pipes, and it's uniformed row upon row of large grand windows. It certainly would have been a grand building in it's time and hopefully it can be restored with the same love and strength it was built with. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Crocheted Hook Roll

Like knitting, when you start to crochet you start collecting a range of different crochet hook sizes. Even with bringing my own from the UK I just kept them together with an old hair tie. With of them being old they deserved some more love and I went after finding a pattern on raverly [you can find the pattern here].

The roll is stitched using a star pattern which was a new and trickier stitch then normal but certainly paid off in figuring it out - and I found this tutorial really helped. I crocheted the width until I it was wide enough to hold all the hooks with extra space for new purchases. The roll from finished off through adding a string of crocheted chains which can be tied around the middle of the roll to fasten it shut.

This star pattern was great in providing holes in the pattern that the hooks could slot through and be held securely. How long the hooks will stay organised in size order - from a 1.25 to a huge thick 8, is another matter!

Keeping my hooks somewhere this pretty is inspiring me to want to break them out and crochet something new. I'm been eyeing up granny squares for a while perhaps for another blanket [yes another] or cushion covers but Joe has been hinting for me to get back into crocheting socks alongside working on some cross stitch gifts for Christmas - yes i'm mentioning the C word already.

Are you crafting anything currently?

Friday, 3 August 2012

FOOD: Chicken Curry

If you follow me on Twitter you will know that Wednesdays in our apartment is always curry night. While I've always been a fan of curries they use to come out of a jar, until Joe encouraged me to start experimenting in making my own. Now curries are one of my favourite things to cook, from tandoori, onion gravy curries to garam masala curries I've made pastes, naan pizza curries - everything. 

Making your own curries the first couple of times can be rather intimidating but they are some great simple recipes out there to get you on your way. While there's the expense of having to purchase lots of different spices, in the long run you'll find it cheaper and you'll enjoy the freedom of being able to mix and match, change it for your tastes or for how spicy you like it, and know it's all fresh when you get down to the all important eating.

So I thought I'd share with you an easy basic chicken curry recipe which is mild to medium in hotness if you're looking for somewhere to start. This recipe itself is one I've changed to fit our tastes and what we have in the fridge and that itself is one of the beauty's of making curries - you can add or take out anything you don't like or don't have.

INGREDIENTS to make a 2/3 person serving
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 green chili
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tin of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of plain yoghurt
  • 1/4 tsp of garam masala

Start by finely chopping your onion and fry with vegetable oil on a mid to high heat, I like my onions to start going nice and brown which takes 5/8 minutes. When your onions are golden add in your chicken breast which should be cut into bite sized pieces.

Frying the chicken for around 5 minutes add in your chopped chilli [making sure you removed the seeds] and crushed garlic, quickly frying them for a minute or two. Then the fun bit - add in all the lovely spices - the salt, turmeric, coriander and cumin, making sure everything is mixed well. 

Pour in your tinned tomatoes and reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and leave to simmer around 15 minutes. You can add water a tablespoons at a time if your curry is starting to loose all it's gravy and juices.

By now your curry should be simmering nicely so add in the plain yoghurt. Once mixed, turn off the heat, add your garam masala. Serve on rice with or without naan bread.

Tasty indeed!

Have you ever made your own curry?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Vintages Rides

It's not everyday you get to go to work and see sexy old cars leaving a meeting but those beautiful cars are what Joe was luckily enough to see the other day and grabbed these photographs to share with me. Moving to Detroit and you do get use to see lots of old motors because if you remember rightly Detroit is the motor city. During the summer months parking lots come filled up with hot rods and gorgeous vintage cars which increasingly starts making me want one for myself. 

Where better to see vintage cars then Detroit? Detroit is the city were Henry Ford put into motion the development of the automotive with the infamous Model T coming to production in 1908, to be followed by General Motors, Chrysler and American Motors having their headquarters in Detroit by the turn of the 19th century. This industry created Detroits gilded boom years with 125 motor makers coming out of the city. In short the modernisation of the auto-mobile industry in the 1950s led to high job losses and the continued de-industrialisation which the city never really recovered from sadly.

Don't you just love old cars?!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Say hello to the August sponsors!

August is the first month of sticking up blog sponsors for LOTS so I want to take the time out to say thank you to everyone that's got involved or shown interest. Part of the sponsorship I'm offering is a group mass shout out as a thank you and hopefully as a way for you the readers to find some new blogs if you haven't come across them all ready!

So lets get to it, here's five fabulous blog reads for August! 

Claire who blogs over at Clareabellemakes is a girl after my own heart with all her crafting adventures from covering flower pots and jam jars to DIY washi tapes - there is a little bit of everything crafty. Whether you new to crafting or an expert Claire really does have something for everyone! She's also just opened her Etsy shop so make sure you stop by and say hello!

If your a fan of all things vintage like myself, Jem and her wonderful blog Beautiful Clutter will be right up your alley. Not only does she have an amazing eye for spying beauty in old random finds, she has a tea cup collection anyone would be jealous off! I can always image us both having find rummaging for vintage goodies together!

Bex is a friend I'm glad to have made through blogging and we near enough have a daily catch up on twitter. Her blog Futures is a great collection of reads whatever your interest. Not only does Bex cover life as a first time mum to her sweetie Jack but she had some great weekly blog hook ups!

The Glitter of Sunshine is a relatively new blog in the blogging world and one new to me too. Run by Sierra Catherine there is a great mix of lifestyle, life lists, letters and dreamy photographs to keep every blog reader interested!

My Life As Mindy is a great lifestyle blog and one of the reasons why I'm coming to love Mindy's blog more and more is that there really is a bit of everything to read about. What more could you want as a reader?!

Make sure you go and say hello to everyone and look out for a giveaway in the next week or so for an ad spot for September to celebrate LOTS 3rd blogging birthday!



Jelly fish have to be one of my favourite creatures to photograph - they are so capturing and memorizing in their movements and with interesting aquarium lighting you can get some good shots really easily. I've enjoyed taking photographs of Jelly's at The Deep in Hull and also at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago - the latter being home to a Jelly Fish exhibit which is being extended through into 2013. The aquarium itself is really worth a visit if you're ever in Chicago - we got to see a aquatic show with dolphins, a 4D film alongside seeing all the different exhibits but I especially loved the corals and the Jelly's. So I thought it was about time the Jellys made a show on my blog! Our Chicago pictures and stories seemed to get a little delayed and pushed aside because of Christmas, I hope you don't mind their publication half a year later!

Have you ever visited the Shedd Aquarium? What are your favourite animals? Do you have an animal you love to photograph?