Friday, 29 November 2013

ZOO TIMES: Mr Grizzly

Bear Bear Detroit Zoo Bear Detroit zoo Bear

I forget how many times I've been to the Detroit Zoo and each time the Grizzly Bear enclosure was quiet, no bears were coming out to play. In fact as the exhibit is a little hidden away I didn't even they were there until my third trip. But on our last trip as we turned the corner from the Griffe house we saw the furry brown butt of a Grizzly going back inside. We'd missed him again, or so we thought. We sat down for a little in the hope of another rare glimpse and a couple of minutes later we were granted an amazing view of this incredible creature as he was rooting around for food. Little did we know the Detroit Zoo is home to two Grizzles, the second coming out a little after to see what all the fuss was about. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

LIFE: Things #2


Ranting so close to Thanksgiving is possibly going against the meaning of the holiday, but as a British expat I feel like i'm somewhat gatecrashing the preceding's anyway. Luckily this installment of things - a look into my rants and loves features the good as much as it does the bad. So here goes!

♥ Cool kids jumping on the Doctor Who wagon being "geeks" for an hour and then going back to being the cool kids. 

♥ Question - can you be a Doctor Who fan without watching any of the classic Doctors? Do all these cool, or even new fans of the Doctor know anything, or take the time to go back, re-watch and explore the original Doctor Who or is it all about the new Doctors (the Smith's the Tennants) and that's it?! Discuss in the comments please!

♥ Talking about geeky shows, mines Star Trek - a new ritual of dark hot chocolate out of my TNG mug while watching the original series has begun oh and starting my Star Trek TNG cross stitch.

♥ Wondering if non Star Trek fans of Big Bang Theory "get" the Star Trek references, guest stars etc?!

♥ Beauty blog posts clogging up the #lbloggers twitter tag - just spam your own category please!

♥ Everything in the apartment breaking at once - from the closet door the AC dial to the toilet ... for which a broken toilet isn't deemed as urgent enough to fix within a day ...

♥ Date night sushi from Noble Fish - (one of THE best places to get made to order sushi in Metro Detroit) - it said so on this list.

♥ Homemade chicken pot pie - your husband going automatically for seconds - sign of a good meal!

♥ Actually gave in and watched the Hunger Games, really didn't get on with the book, film was somewhat better then expected, it's nice when you're proved wrong by a film. 

♥ Drivers who don't use their sodding indicators - like seriously?!

♥ Actually getting a little tearful when you read that they have plans to demolish your fresher year student housing (Ricky Road at Newcastle University).

Share what's been bugging you or what you've been loving too!

Indicator image source

Monday, 25 November 2013

MICHIGAN - Kitcheossening

Big Rock Big Rock Big Rock

The way Columbus is celebrated you might come to think there wasn't an American population before he "found" the country. Yet American was home to many hundreds of Native American tribes and today at leas in my Michigan experiences many historic makers come to remind us of the important places to Indian tribes and their people. One such place is Kitcheossening - now known as Big Point Rock. 

On our drive north from Mio through to Mackinaw we took the long scenic route through Charlevoix along the western coast of the state and found Big Point Rock as a place for a sarnie and a viewpoint. Markers state that Big Rock Point was named for a large boulder Native Americans used as a landmark and a gathering place by the Odawa (Ottawa) Indians as early as the mid 19th century. Each spring the Odawa returned to Waganaksing (are between Harbor Springs and Cross Village) with their wiigwaas jiimaan (birch back canoes) loaded with goods - sugar, furs to skins, meat, oils and honey after spending the winter hunting. You can see why - the huge bay although stony, is an excellent base for getting out onto Lake Michigan even today. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

LIFE: The Kennedy Car


The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has this week, been across all the media outlets. Be it discussing his work for human equality, conspiracy theories to at least within regional sources his links to Detroit, it's everywhere. Within the metro Detroit region region, this historic milestone casts a look towards the 1961 Lincoln in which drove Kennedy and his wife through Dallas, the car which now sits within the Henry Ford Museum which we visited back in 2011. 

Many are surprised that the car lives on, even more so when they find out it's on show within a museum. In fact rather then being decommissioned after the assassination the Lincoln served another 13 years in service to the White House although it was rebuilt - upgraded with bullet proof armor and a permanent roof attached. After it's service the Lincoln was donated by the Ford Motor Co., to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Today the car sits alongside other presidential vehicles on display with an eerie presence, I remember how noticeable it was that people were stopping to look in silence, especially when you consider how huge the museum is, people are walking and looking, but at the Lincoln, they stop and reflect. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

LIFE: The Things in Life

It gets to a point were I end up with a lot of things on my mind, things that probably shouldn't bug me but they do. But as they say, better out then in in my vain hope that typing things out will cool me down. But fear not, it's not all negative.

♥ Bloggers apologizing for text and or heavy blog posts, or if they haven't blogged in like two days. You really shouldn't feel like you need to aplogise, it's your blog stick as many darn photographs up as you like.
♥ Since when did perfume and £50+ gifts become stocking fillers?
♥ In fact when did Christmas become all about the gifts - can we have some more crafty, food and more of the Christmas spirit within posts please?!
♥ Talking about Christmas, has there been some huge shift in the UK to explain all the Christmas related blog posts in November coming out of the UK?!
♥ Tornado watches still scare me .. and they aren't even as serious as a tornado warning. 
♥ Filling up my netflix list with period and British dramas and going on Bomb Girl binges (great 1940's Canadian drama). 
♥ Eating far more doughnuts from krispy kreme than one really should
♥ My growing contempt for our apartment complex ....
♥ Being grateful for having a British food section in Meijer - Britishness levels maintained after purchasing more HP sauce. 
♥ Non payers on ebay, seriously don't buy or bid on things if you don't have the money.
♥ for twitter is highly addictive and perhaps a little stalker like, it also is making me angry at those who opt to follow you and then unfollow you within a couple of days if you don't follow back. Yeah I know what your after really ...
♥ Oh and when people who thought were okay with you and you notice them unfollowing you too ...
♥ Endless Modern Family reruns for hours. 
♥ Falling for Taco Bell advertising of the Triple Steak (well I opted for chicken) stack ... tasty.
♥ Remembering pork pies and sausage rolls exist and living with huge cravings for them.
♥ And finally winter means clementine season, which means tastiness!

What things are you loving or are bugging you?

Monday, 18 November 2013

MICHIGAN - Whirlpools and Animals

Dragonfly Autumnal Trees River Snake Fern Snake

Take a walk in Michigan and you'll see some amazing animals, often up close. An autumnal walk along the Au Sable River and seeing the whirlpools popping up we were surrounded by nature. From snakes (luckily non of the rattle snakes that make Michigan their home), dragonflies to birds swooping down and grabbing prey off the past right before us (actually I was daydreaming and totally missed this but i'm taking Joe's word for it). 

What wildlife have you seen lately?

Friday, 15 November 2013

FOUND IT FRIDAY: Raiding the Sally Army

There is an incredible huge, cheap and awesome Salvation Army off M-59 in the far reaches of Metro Detroit that had an amazing, amazing sale on when we happened to be driving past. So awesome in fact they had their records reduced for day down to 5 for a dollar. Yes 20 cents a record and what better way to start a Found it Friday post.

Records and charity shops can be really hit and miss. Mostly miss, sadly. But the vinyl gods were on our side and helped us score some more Zepplin, Who, Temptations and Fleetwood Mac vinyl to name but a few. I actually forget the entire list of records as we did walk away with 34 of them. Yes, really and goes some way in explaining our major vinyl storage issues which will only be resolved with a buying a house in all honesty.

Oh and I made the mistake of actually finding the time to count how many records we have ... without counting 75's and box sets, we stand are 682. Any wonder we need a bigger place?!
Scouring estate sales your constantly pinning in your head furniture wish lists, a true lack of space means we rarely act on our impulses but a set of nesting tables for $3.50 and a vintage shelving stand/unit (now half used for storing shoes, the other half vintage cookbook stock) for $3 and you somewhat make the space. I have dreams of vintage sofas, tables, desks, miss matched chairs and dressers. One day Rachael, one day.

If there's space in our $5 bags we always seem to throw in things for ourselves, from beautifully illustrated 1930's bird guidebooks (seriously the color of birds in the US are amazingly colorful) to vintage Gerber leaflets on the meaning of baby names, endless hardbacks of Steinbeck and du Maurier. I've also managed to rehome a couple of vintage powder compacts into my collection which must be nearing 80. Another Volpte design with lipstick container attached and my first Avon design, at $3 a piece I can't really say no.


What have been your vintage finds lately? Thinking of buying vintage things for Christmas? I'd love to hear!

PS // Giving you all a heads up -> Love vinyl as much as we do? You might be interested in checking out the Record Store Day Black Friday special LP (and even CD) releases - not sure how international the releases are but well worth checking out.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

PROJECTS: Cross Stitch Completion Mission

Cross Stitch

Give me any cross stitching project and there's a high chance i'll give up sewing it 3/4 of the way in. Why?! I get too distracted by the next project I intend to do that I begin daydreaming about in my head whilst sewing the cross stitch I'm trying to finish, give up on it shortly after and start the new one.

Sewing in such a manner left me with five, yes five uncompleted projects all lined up in my sewing pile. All from the last year, all nearly completed, all so nearly completed but never done. So the last couple of weeks I made myself finish at least a couple of the projects before my hands wander onto yet another piece of stitching. 

I actually ended up completing three, all sewn, finished, backstitched and framed as new additions to my embroidery hoop wall (although one was a Christmas design for a card which I'll be blogging separately in a couple of weeks). Both the patterns, frames, material and floss were all from estate sales which I find the perfect place for getting supplies really cheap and funds my addiction while saving money.

Cross Stitch Cross Stitch

In fact the 1919 beach scene was an unopened 1979 vintage sewing kit I found at a sale and turned out to be my first cross stitching design sewn upon linen (as someone who has been stitching since I was five it's somewhat hard to admit). Originally it was intended to be rectangular with a simple brown cross stitch border, the backstitching of the place and date to the left of the design which did make it look more dated, I was rather impressed myself how much a simple change of moving stitches and framing it in a hoop actually made. It pays to explore and adapt patterns as you see fit.

Cross Stitch Cross Stitch

Before I began stitching the beach scene I was midway through the flower bouquet - a design actually stitched using only one thread which creates a very blended colour scene to the picture. I don't normally tend to be a fan of flower designs (I say that with two flower designs now on the wall) but they don't tend to be my favorite things to sew but i'm impressed if I do say so myself how this one turned out.

Admittedly there still sits another two unfinished cross stitching projects to complete, seeing the success of this mission they'll be lined up for the next completion challenge. But there's only so much I could do before I got truly tempting into stitching a lighthouse design I picked up at said lighthouse during our Michigan roadtrip last month.

Cross Stitch Wall

What have you been crafting lately?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

LIFE: 10 Things I Miss About The UK

Continuing from last weeks reflection on being in the US for the last two years, I thought I'd share a post reflecting on the little things that I miss from the British homeland. Try as I might to not miss things, there are bits and pieces that I do have an aching for.

Train Service - now I know the British rail service has it's issues but when we look at the bare facts, the fact that you can get between cities with a decent service is something I took for granted. As someone who loves train travel I wish it was easier to do the same in the US. It is if you don't live between the East Coast and Chicago. Those of us in Michigan have to do the six hour train journey to Chicago if we ever want to travel across to Washington or New York or even south to say New Orleans. Yes really, you have to go west to go east, or go the long way through Canada.
Curvy Roads - probably an odd thing to miss, but straight roads bore me. As the passenger in the car I love to watch the world go pass but straight roads make the time drag.
The BBC - The British person in me craves the BBC, to me it's the best news source and while I appreciate having BBC America, it's not the same. I miss the random BBC 2 documentaries, Question Time (yes really) to Sunday night drama and the 10 o'clock news.
Reserved British Nature - sometimes America is a little bit too in your face. It wants to share everything with you - baby showers, car stickers about their kids being honor students, to death, politics and especially religion. I miss religion being a private matter - one you don't throw in everyone's face, consider yours to be better then someone else, judge someone because of it, I could go on. 
Food - While British food culture doesn't have the best reputation outside of it's coastline there are certain things I miss; proper fish n chips, sausage rolls, quavers, mushy peas, custard, angels delight, mince pies, biscuits (aside from Oreo's they don't really exist) and proper sausages to name but a few ...


Marks and Sparks - There is nothing that compares to M&S, anywhere. It was my go to shop for pjs, underwear, birthday and Christmas gifts to their food - did I mention how tasty the food is. If I could ship an entire truck load of food from M&S here, I would. 
The NHS - enough said.

Christmas Food - from mince pies to Christmas cake and puddings, they don't really exist here and trying to find decent mincemeat for mince pies last year was just a bit of a challenge. It's hard to have Christmas without the basic Christmas food you're raised with.

History - I guess I took it for granted just how much history the UK has right there, buried and established, from forts, Roman Walls to castles. I was spoilt growing up so close to York that there is breathing, living history around every corner. I miss it even more when I consider if we ever have children they won't grow up having that tangible history of seeing castles, huge cathedrals to Roman roads.

Seaside - although I live in the Mid West, beside the Great Lakes (which happen to be the largest collection of freshwater lakes in the world don't you know) I feel extremely land locked in the US. Growing up an hour away from the seaside in the UK, you get accustomed to salt water, the sea air, fish and chips and rock pools. That all seems a world away even though there's sand and shells just down the road beside the lakes.

What do you think you'd miss from your homeland if you moved countries? Or have you moved and what do you miss the most?

Photographs all my own - York Minster from the walls // Wharram Percy Deserted Medieval Village, East Yorkshire // Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire

Monday, 11 November 2013


Cooke Dam Cooke Dam Cooke Dam Cooke Dam Cooke Dam

Sometimes you come across places on your travels that you half want to tell the blogging world about because they are so beautiful, and the other half of you wants to keep the place your little secret. To me Cooke Dam is one of those places. I wasn't expecting much when we headed off the scenic drive to follow the sign posts to the dam, I wasn't expecting such a huge lake, the water just this most amazing deep blue, the surface as still as glass reflecting the incredible reds, yellows and remaining green leaves of autumn. Cooke Dam impressed me, a lot. 

As the first of six hydroplants along the Au Sable River, Cooke Dam began operating in 1911 and still does to this day. While some houses may back onto the lake, the area is amazingly tranquil and still.

Where's your favorite tranquil place?

Friday, 8 November 2013

LIFE: Dear America, Two Years In

Sometimes I wake up on a morning and it dawns on me that here I am, living in America, it's not a holiday, nor a dream - that America is home. I still feel like that way two years road the road from landing in Detroit. But time has gone incredibly fast it's scary. Now don't get me wrong i'm still the Yorkshire lass inside, I still love a brew and a chocolate digestive, American sports confuse me, I listen to Radio 2 still and I love a British TV show fix. Yet more and more Americanisms creep into my everyday life especially with language. I've noticed myself slowly dropping the 's" from math, oh and I've been known to say "have a  nice day". 

Maybe without the immigration changes going on the British homeland I wouldn't be feeling this way about America, maybe, maybe not but i'm more then happy to be finding my home here. America has it's faults don't get me wrong - government shuts downs, the hoopla over healthcare and not really wanting to achieve gun control speaks for itself, maybe more so for me because I grew up with that. But watching what is happening in the UK right upsets me, I have no love for the Tories let's just leave it at that.

If only I'd of known the following two years ago;

  •  Winters are cold, summers are hot. You won't be able to cope with either.
  • Speaking of winter, your New Look boots really weren't made to stand a Michigan winter, talk about cold feet.
  • American radio doesn't compete with anything you grew up with - it's either all talk, or all music and commercials, just stick with Radio 2 you'll finally get to listen to the night time shows as you work on an afternoon. 
  • Christmas trees can go up in the middle of November and no one bats an eye, actually you'll probably me one of the last ones to stick it up if you actually wait to December.
  • You really will start to say "have a nice day". 
  • A favorite pastime will be watching Star Trek reruns on BBC America. No joke.
  • But even with thousands of cable channels, you still won't be able to find anything decent to watch on TV.
  • American sports will still not appeal to you, aside from hockey, that's growing on you, kinda. 
  • Cornish Pasties over here are really hit and miss, just bake your own, in fact you'll do lots of baking adventures through moving
  • Detroit has more things to offer then people realise and it's not all that bad, really but you live near somewhere people don't want to read positive things about and you constantly feel if you lived in NYC your blog would be hip and happening. But you live outside Motown, so it's not.
  • Speaking of cities Chicago is more amazing then you could ever hope to believe and visiting Pittsburgh will test your head for heights!
  • You'll wonder how you ever coped without a Target close by, or a Taco Bell, Joanns, Culvers, Jets Pizza, Steak and Shake milkshakes ...
  • It's a constantly battle of remembering the differences between the English and the American English keyboard. 
  • When the clocks change in the UK it'll through you off course for the entire week that there's only a four hour difference.
  • That spending two years in a long distance relationship was well and truly worth it for the fun and we have as a couple now. 
  • But in the end you'll miss the UK much less then you thought you might.

Thank you to everyone that's stuck around for the ride, it means a lot to me and it pleases me to know so many of you enjoy my posts about American life as a Yorkshire girl. If you ever have any questions or topic suggestions be it about long distance relationships, visas to typical American life just drop me a comment!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

FOOD: The Time an English Lass Tries a Cornish Pastie in America ...

Cornish Pastie Michigan cornish

Give me the chance of trying an American's attempt at the British staple that is the Cornish Pastie and I would have been a fool not to take up the challenge. While visiting a huge, huge antiques mall in Traverse City, I noticed upon the city map a mere three stores down Cousin Jenny's Cornish Pasties, we just had to try it out (you might remember my post on visiting a The Red Fox - a British themed pub back in July 2012). 

The pastie shop was all things British, a red phone box greets you, over-sized teddy bears stand the over the doorway dressed in Queen Guards attire and it's all talk of tea and bright red tea pots, it was home away from home. Boards around the restaurant illustrate the history of the Cornish Pastie in Michigan particularly in the Upper Peninsular whereby Finnish immigrants followed the tradition of the Cornish miners who had immigrated during the 1850's taking the pastie into the Copper Country mines. Today pasties are strongly associated with the Finnish culture in this area of Michigan but their availability is now reaching lower into the state (although they are pretty non existent in the south east). 

Rather then opting for the staple traditional pastie I went for chicken and Joe ordered the French Potato both served with an option of gravy or sauce, neither disappointed. Thing is they are so many to choose from it was hard to pick - they also have options for steak 'n cheddar, Italian and German among others. The crusts were lovely and thick and the pastie oozed with taste, and they are huge, really huge. There was no case of soggy pasties here (which I sadly experienced in another pastie shop a couple of days later in Mackinaw City which I had to admit let the whole pasty down and made me a little sad). The British decor was something I enjoyed and they had certainly gone to town with honoring in British culture.

It's always interesting to see how others see and interpret your own culture and if we lived any closer, it  probably would be a local haunt.

Want to make Cornish Pasties yourself - you'll find my attempt here!

    Tuesday, 5 November 2013

    LIFE: Light


    Sometimes there are no words to go along with the picture.

    Sometimes you just need to let the photograph do the explaining, say everything you can't find the words for.

    A river full of mist, behind me sunshine pouring through the leaves.

    Photograph taken at the overlook in Mio, Michigan one early(ish) morning.

    Monday, 4 November 2013

    MICHIGAN: Sleeping Bear Dunes

    Sleeping Bear Dunes Sleeping Bear Dunes

    Stop signs and blowing hurriedly stuck down notices declaring the areas along the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore closed (again due to the old government shut down - you can see a theme developing across these posts can't you?!) were getting little attention. Like in many of the National run parks and forests people literally were driving their cars around the aforementioned signs.

    As we drove along the scenic drive from Traverse City via Leelanau State Park and back south along US-22 you can see why the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the drive we tried to get onto was voted the most Beautiful place in America by Good Morning America in 2011. Even on an autumnal day you could see the dots of tourists as they climbing their way up the Sleeping Bear Dunes and while the scenic car dive was closed as a result of the shut down, we like many took to our feet and walked to one of the many look outs over the dunes instead. 

    To say the views from the North Bar Lake Overlook were stunning is somewhat of an understatement and the camera fails to capture just how investigating beautiful the vista over the sand dunes towards Lake Michigan actually was. Perhaps more so after the arduous up hill climb without really knowing where we were heading, aching feet, growing blisters and the heat didn't help, but this is what we saw;

    Sleeping Bear Dunes Sleeping Bear Dunes Sleeping Bear DunesSleeping Bear Dunes

    Sleeping Bear Dunes cover a 35 mile stretch in north west Michigan are named as such after the Chippewa legend of a huge fire upon the western end of Lake Michigan which drove a mother and her two cubs to fee and swim across the lake towards the shore. Mother bear reached the safety of the shore, yet tired after the swim she laid down to wait for her cubs, sadly they drowned. The Great Spirit watching the cubs determination, created the North and South Manitou Islands to commemorate the two cubs while the winds covered the sleeping mother bear. 

    Sometimes the beauty of nature really just dwarfs you.

    Where would you vote as being the most beautiful place in America? I'd love to hear!

    Friday, 1 November 2013

    FOOD: Eggs and Soldiers

    Boiled Egg Soldiers
    Boiled Egg Boiled Egg Soldiers

    My heart sank a little when Joe stared at me blankly when I mentioned in passing about having a boiled egg and soldiers for lunch once. He'd never heard of them, in fact not many American's have. What we consider to be one of the top child meal time favorites growing up in the UK, it's pretty much non existent in the US - maybe it's because as Brits we love dunking biscuits in tea, it's not such a jump to dunk toast into your egg when you think about it! 

    They missed the joy of dipping your toast into the gooey golden heaven of the yolk, watching it dribble over the shell onto your egg cup. Trying to scoop up every last piece with your toasted soldiers. I loved eggs and soldiers so much as a child that for years I use have one everyday before school. They are still one of my lunch time treats.

    And yes, I eat my boiled egg out of a Jack Daniels shot glass. The lacking popularity of boiled eggs, makes trying to find egg cups a difficult mission!

    What were your favorite meals as a child? Did you love the egg and soldiers too?!