Monday, 22 December 2014

LIFE: May Your Stockings Be Full Of All Things Dear

It's time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas as I take a step back from the blog and try to get into the festive spirit myself. 

Working in retail and now, as an expat, they both in different ways have a killed a part of the Christmas spirit for me, perhaps that and just growing older. Both make me more aware of what the true Christmas meaning, in turn how this season should be more about love, giving, donating rather than the Christmas wishlists and haul posts that seem to dominate blogging at this time.

I wish you all the best for the coming days - and i'll see you all next week after a recharge of the blogging batteries. 

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

Friday, 19 December 2014

LIFE: The Henry Ford

I guess you could say the Henry Ford is probably one of those must visit museums if you're ever in the area of south east Michigan. Noted for it's collection of many of America's notable historical pieces, the museum began it's life as the personal collection of Henry Ford (the noted automobile industrialist). Now it captures a glimpse of the industrial revolution, the history of the automobile through to pop culture and agriculture.
The Henry Ford over in the suburb of Dearborn was the first American museum I ever visited back in 2011, oddly enough around this time of year. Joe was having a work party there so I took to entertaining myself with the displays while he got to eat fancy food.


Driving America has to be my favorite part of the museum, they were revamping it the first time I came to this museum and now it's a well established fixture. The exhibit traces the history of how we got from horse and cart through to the cars we recognize today - how automobiles brought about the travel industry, hot rods to drive thru eating.

I wouldn't mind owning one of these classics myself.

HenryFord henryford1

As I mentioned, the Henry Ford has some key items from America's most recent history and the social battles for equal rights. It's home to the Presidential car JFK was assassinated in, the Rosa Parks bus and the chair Lincoln was sitting in when he too, was shot. But you'll also find the first helicopter prototype, Edison's alleged last breath in a tube to a Dymaxion House.

HenryFord HenryFord

Always around this year, the Henry Ford is home to a gorgeous huge Christmas tree that dwarfs everything and anyone around it. With a golden glow, it's decorated with miniature toy sized vintage cars, planes and trains - it's pretty magical.


I gotta confess I love museums with historic collections, I love standing before history and seeing it for myself. I'd love to hear what your favorite museums are - wherever they are in the world!

You can find the Henry Ford at;

20900 Oakwood Blvd,
Dearborn, Michigan

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

VINTAGE: 1970's Apple-Carrot-Raisin Cake

Apple Carrot Raisin Cake

If you have a sweet tooth then this apple-carrot-raisin cake with a load of cinnamon thrown in for good measure is one for you. It's another of my dug out and re-found vintage recipes - one found among a group of Detroit Free Press newspaper recipe clippings. While this is one undated, the rest all dated from the 1970's so I'm throwing caution to the wind and dating this to the same age.

As in it's description it's very much a pudding cake, it's moist and sweet and with the nutmeg and cinnamon has a festive feel for this time of year. While it only calls for 1/4 of a cup of butter (or marg) the apples and the carrots keep it amazingly moist even though it looks like sawdust before you place it into the oven.
It's one of those awesome bakes that doesn't take too long to put together (bar all the cutting up) and you can happily got watch your favorite show while it bakes away. I love how crispy the sugary lemon juice glaze makes it and finishes it off perfectly.

So if you're all fed up of Christmas cake, and pudding and have some left over carrots, give this a go and let me know how it turns out!

Monday, 15 December 2014

LIFE: #Photoanhour - Lazy Sunday

Sunday's, well I try to keep them lazy. They normally call for reading, sewing, endless marathons of Law & Order, CSI Miami, maybe even some NCIS. So I guess you could say that yesterday's #photoanhour was a great way of capturing some down time - the normal Sunday routines of watching TV, food shopping, eating something bacon related and everything in between. 


9am // after crawling out of bed, turning the heating on and falling over two hungry cats, Sunday mornings call for some read (this instance Visit Detroit and Gone with the Wind) and a mug of green tea. 

10am // got around to looking for something to do which I thought would be for filled with a quick attempt at tidying up the office, which really turned out into just moving random piles around to another part of the floor


11am // long way around to going food shopping via Target, the husband's on the look out for the new Transformer toy releases and I'm basically his enabler. But Target's been pretty poor showing for Transformers lately. 

12pm // trolly pushing time around Kroger for the weekly shop - lots of food and lots of coupons


1pm // because bacon for lunch

3pm // after going back to Target (don't ask) and missing 2pm, we got back just in time for a photo of our front door somewhat decked out Christmassy with a wreath.  


4pm // inspiration has been a little lacking, and it's hard to get down and write something half decent for the blog lately, so i started writing up this post while watching NCIS marathons on USA.

5pm // taking a screw driver to Optimal Optimus - he lights up, or at least he use to, the battery is dead and the screw is worn out.

The rest of the night was basically spent on the sofa, watching endless TV shows, cuddling the kitties and eating pizza.

How was your Sunday?

Friday, 12 December 2014

CHRISTMAS: Festive Cross Stitching

If you haven't been able to tell, this Christmas has been rather productive on the cross stitching front. Aside from the cross stitched Christmas cards I shared previously, I've been working on some festive stitching projects - couple of tree hangers and a grumpy old sheep.


I have to admit this Dimensions kit (#71-08932), annoyed the life out of me because embroidery is not my talent and the wording for love got pulled out far too many times to count. Satin stitch is not were my stitching talents lie. I'm too much of a perfectionist when it comes to stitch work and it's far from perfect but it got to the point where that was as good as it was going to get any time soon. Anyway, Share Love is something we all could be doing more at this time of year, like I said on twitter the other day - share love not a 101 wish lists.

Baaa Humbug

Baa Humbug by the Cross Eyed Cricket ( #21 from 1989) is the second sheep I've stitched by this company - they always design them so well. I have to admit, sometimes I feel and look as cranky as the sheep does when it comes to Christmas - too many years in retail does that to you. 

Cross Stitch

The sheepie hanger design was an old 1980's sewing kit I found at an estate sale. It had been opened but never started so it was my little mission to stitch it. Actually completed it in a night and I love the way it turned out. Those French knots in the wreath make all the difference.

So that's all my Christmas stitching for the year. It's a shame they'll only be out for a month every year but it'll be fun digging them out in the future and adding to the collection.

Now I'm busy working on a large City Stitcher sampler - something to get my teeth into and slow me down a little.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

VINTAGE: Photographs In Old Cookbook

Odd things fall out of vintage cookbooks. Former old bookmarks made from greetings card, yellowed church service programs, wrinkled torn out recipes from newspapers to magazines, sometimes the odd photograph. More often than not there's never a reference, any description to the photograph - faces, place and events lost in time. I've taken to sharing them on my instagram because, well to me, they deserve to be shared.

Old Photographs

A cover-less, title-less cookbook out fell an old passport photograph and tickets for a showing of Dumbo. The darkness of her lips, I can only imagine how dark and red her lipstick was!

Old Photographs

The sticky backing of a cut out photograph found itself stuck in place in the index of an old Alice Bradley menu cookbook. I imagine it being an image capturing a couple looking down cutting a cake, an anniversary perhaps.

Then there is the photograph that started it all. When it came to unpacking a box of stock after moving, there in the bottom of a box two photographs had slide out from the pages of a cookbook - which I'll never know. Upon the reverse and along the white space of the bottom edge, a notation - revealing the names of those pictured including a Mr Ivan Harold Browning. 

Ivan Browning

An old handwritten note graces the photographs reverse - "The Brownings lived in London for more than 20 years. He was orginally one of the four Harmony Kings. He often works in pictures now". The penner notating for themselves the need for "two of these photographs" - one for them, another for Maurice (sp) - the lady to the far right of the image.

Not much can be gleamed from the internet about Browning, but enough for an outline, a mention on IMDB and a clip catching him signing upon YouTube. He was born in Brenham, Texas in 1891 and was part of the aforementioned Four Harmony Kings - a religious harmony group which formed in 1916 and appeared in vaudeville shows and continued their popular run into the 1920's. In addition, Browning appeared in Blake and Noble Sissies celebrated all black Broadway Show - Shuffle Along in 1921 and later stared in movies including Sunrise at Compobele (1960), Mr Peabody and the Mermaid (1948) and The Narrow Margin (1952). He died in California aged 87 in 1978.

And then he stood "on the terrace" all smiles. It makes you wonder the link between the photographer, the person who penned the note, how they knew Browning, how the photograph turned up in an old cookbook.

All the photographs are framed together on my desk. Some of them may be nameless, but they all have stories and I like to wonder what they all were.

Monday, 8 December 2014

LIFE: School Reunions

Nothing would scare me more than walking to the school hall of my teens and seeing the faces of former school "friends". With Joe's 10 year high school reunion, it's got me thinking about if I would ever attend my own, which if my school was ever to have one, would also have been this year. My school didn't, it doesn't really do things like that. 

A school reunion for me would mean going back to that claustrophobic hometown where everyone knows your business, where you either resettle hundreds of miles away from it's populace or your stay trapped in it's folds for life. In fact, probably one of the reasons why my school would never have reunions because typically every Friday night down the local watering holes is pretty much the stomping ground for all your old school friends and probably lots of people still in school too. I don't have much love lost for my school years or my hometown. 

I wasn't the smart kid but I tried hard, I always did my homework on time. I sucked at sports and maths, (confession here - I originally typed math - oh i'm turning even more American by the day but I digress) but art was my escape and I found a love for geography and sociology, both of which I have degrees in. There were teachers I hated, some we made cry (our year was hell to French teachers - in hate even though we were rural, our school was pretty rough) and some inspire me still. I kept myself to myself and in fact, I still do. I'm not really in touch with many from those senior school years, those that I want to, I've chosen to befriend on facebook. 

Facebook actually got me thinking. Has facebook, or social media in general killed the need for younger generations to have reunions? Every day we get an inside glimpse into what our old classmates are getting up to, their rants, their love life, what baby number they are on to now and who they currently hate. I know everyone's dirty laundry.

What about you, would you/have you go/gone to your school reunion?

Friday, 5 December 2014

CHRISTMAS: Cross Stitch Cards

Cross Stitch

After sewing a mere one Christmas card last year, time time around I was determined to make some more. Luckily Christmas has coincided with me getting back into my stitching habit to stitching away was a welcome hobby rather than a chore. 

Cross stitching for Christmas cards is a perfect way of stitching for a couple of reasons - it's quick, you can normally whip them out in an evening and it's a get chance to use up lots of scraps - both material and floss wise. All of the designs either out of old magazines or freebies from the web and with use of a glue gun, some blank cards and a letter stamp, they came together pretty well and for once really cheap as the cards were the only thing I had to buy (for like $4 from JoAnns). Score.

Cross Stitch Cross Stitch

So the six designs feature a Santa (Cross Stitch magazine July 1989), robin & deer (Cross Stitcher magazine website 2014), Noel & Seasons Tweetings (Cross Stitcher Magazine #259 - November 2012) and a Christmas tree (adapted from a J M Cochrane design). 

I have to admit, I'm pretty pleased with them myself. It was a great chance to stitch with some colours I wouldn't necessarily work with (the bright pink for example) and cute designs are always fun, especially when you can finish them quickly. Plus I like to think they are a little extra special hand making someone a card, hopefully their intended recipients will appreciate them too.

Cross Stitch

Have you been making anything special for Christmas?

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

MUSIC: Christmas Gifts for the Music Lover in Your Life

They tell you to blog what you know and well, we're a little obsessed about all things music and vinyl around ours. So I thought I'd compile a gift list full of ideas for young and old, male and female for Christmas (or basically any time of year) for the music lover across a range of prices (cuz ya know gift lists with everything over $60 kinda suck). 

Or just for a treat for yourself. 

And ya know what, I wouldn't mind any of these for myself ... hint ... hint.

I gotta admit, the range of record clocks the Vinyl Eaters store has is pretty cool. All made from old records that are too scratched to play, they have a range of clocks in designs from American cityscape's (above), to bands, a Batman clock, Bobs Burgers to zombies. I think I may have to treat myself to something from this store, that's how much I'm loving it right now.

Art Prints - $69.00 via ConcepcionStudios - Etsy
Adorning the walls of our vinyl room, we have a couple of music posters related to the records and bands we enjoy listening too. This collection of three retro styled posters for Bowie, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones are pretty timeless and would certainly go well with the posters we already have. Confession - I wouldn't mind that sideboard either.

Record cloths are pretty basic I have to admit but for $5.99 it's a perfect stocking filler for the vinyl lover. Basic but a necessity if you want to keep those records nice, clean and static free for every day use.
Snuggle up on the dark winter nights under a blanket or jazz up your bedroom or living room with this turntable pillowcase while listening to some music of course.

Bowie Eye Test Chart - $65.00 via WastedandWounded - Etsy
Handmade limited edition retro eye test featuring a number of Bowie's stage alter egos - perfect for checking how many mulled wines you've downed on Christmas Day and perfect for adding something extra to your wall. 

I gotta say, I would be all over these if I had my ears pierced. These earrings are manufactured from the label sections of old records, sealed in resin which makes them so shiny. Perfect is you're after a one of a kind gift.

Turntable Infant Bodysuit - $18.99 via
Kinda wishing I knew a baby to buy this for and well, the corruption into being a vinyl lover needs to start at a young age. Plus, this turntable bodysuit is just to darn cute. Comes in a range of colours too - blue, pink green and white or basically one for 4 days of the week at least.

Personalized Vinyl Frame Record - $75.34 via Vinylvillage -
For the personal touch how about a personalized framed vinyl. Vinyl Village can frame up any 1950 to the present day single with space for a special message. Be it the single at the top of the charts on the day you or your gift recipient were born, your first dance at your wedding or just that song that sends shivers up your other half's spine, this is an awesome gift for something extra special.

Everyone needs somewhere to store their vintage 45's, so why not store them in this classy and pretty tartan vinyl vintage 45 case. Gotta say I'm loving the pattern on this holder!

Any music lovers in your life?!

Monday, 1 December 2014

LIFE: Thanksgiving in the 'Burg

Pittsburgh Carsen Street Art CocktailSarnie Pittsburgh

Yesterday we got back from a bit of a whirlwind of a trip to Pittsburgh for thanksgiving - a mix of seeing family and attending Joe's high school reunion. But it was also a couple of days to cram in as much great eating and drinking and trying to avoid all the mad black Friday sale shoppers.

While I was defeated by yet another Primanti Bros sandwich (a Pittsburgh staple where you get your fries inside your sarnie) we did have some lovely cocktails from their bar, including a Drunk Duck which came with it's very own mini duck which is now finding it's home here in Michigan. I also found the best fish n chips since moving to the US in a Scottish themed pub - The Piper's Pub in Pittsburgh's South Side. The pub was jam packed for the Premiership games they were showing, and after a 40 minute wait for a table, I was greeted with a pile of fish that was battered just how you'd get back in the UK and actually, thick chips. Nom indeed. 

Thanksgiving is never the best time of the year to get out and exploring the city so we'll save that for another trip in warmer times.

Hope you all had a grand Thanksgiving/weekend!