Monday, 31 March 2014

MICHIGAN: 40 Mile Point Lighthouse

FortyMilePointLighthouse FortyMilePointLighthouse FortyMilePointLighthouse FortyMilePointLighthouse FortyMilePointLighthouse FortyMilePointLighthouse

It's probably wrong to have lighthouse favorites but the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse just a couple of miles north of Rogers City has to be mine, maybe it's the richness of the red bricks against that warming October sky, or the amazing view point over the lake by which is sits, having a shipwreck there certainly works in it's favor. 

You'll find 40 Mile Point Lighthouse along a small tree lined road, one that opens up into a huge, welcoming space. The lighthouse doesn't mark a harbor, nor even a river mouth, it's mere purpose to guide ships between Mackinaw Point and the Saint Clair River - that a ship should never be out of sight of a light to be guided by. 

Creeping along a small trail you'll come to find the final resting place of the SS Joseph S. Fay - a wooden steamer built in 1871 - one of the first freighters built for carrying iron ore on the Great Lakes. On a rough October night in 1905 while heading south, the Joseph S. Fay was swept onshore by the powerful winds of the night. While the ship broke free of the ship she was tugging, yet she was sinking and a strong wave washed the ship aside onto the sandy beach a short walk away from Forty Point. Now all that remains in it's final resting place is 150 feet of it's wooden side complete with metal rods and spikes.

While we there there I picked up a cross stitch kit of the lighthouse design which now all completed, sits on my embroidery hoop wall.  Since our trip Joe brought me two other kits from Presque Isle Needlework for the lighthouses we visited - the Grand Traverse Light and the Mackinac Point Light - which I can't wait to get started! 


I must admit I love how it turned out!

You can find 40 Mile Point Light house along;
County Park Rd Rogers City, MI 49779

Friday, 28 March 2014

FOOD: Mango Chicken Curry

Mango Chicken Curry

It's high time I shared my favorite curry recipe, the fact that we have a home made curry, made from scratch every Wednesday seems to pass by a lot on my blog. Admittedly I have selfish reasons of the page the recipe is on is very well worn out after getting stuck to another page, so this is for my own records as much is it is for sharing with you all.

It's a pretty straight forward curry recipe typically using the spices you should already have if curry making is your thing. It's sweet, mild and full of flavor. While it takes a bit in preparation, it's quick to cook and well worth the time. 

1 medium mango (go by your personal taste by how ripe you want it)
1 good sized chicken thigh or breast
1/4 teaspoon of onion seeds
1 teaspoon fresh ginger pulp
1/2 teaspoon of fresh garlic pulp
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
2 tablespoons of oil (vegetable, corn or peanut - whatever you have) 
4 curry leaves (or a teaspoon of curry powder)
1 large onion
1 cup of water
2 medium tomatoes
2 medium green chilli's seeded and chopped
1 good sized teaspoon of dry cilantro (2 tablespoons if you have it fresh) also note coriander is often known as cilantro in the US

First things first, peel the mango and slice into blocks and divided into two. Take one of the piles and place into a bowl, adding in the chicken cubes, onion seeds, ginger, garlic, chilli powder, turmeric and ground coriander and mix well. 

Mango Chicken Curry Mango Chicken Curry

In your pan, heat the oil and pop in the sliced onions, once golden add in the curry leaves (which I never have to use about a teaspoon of curry powder instead). Gradually add in the chicken pieces and finish off with pouring in the water. Lower the heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, string every now and again until the chicken is cooked and the water has been absorbed. 

Once the 15 minutes have passed, add in the remain half of the mango, the chopped up tomatoes, chillies and cilantro, give it a quick stir and heat through and then serve.
mango curry

This curry takes me to my happy place every time.

What are your favorite curries to make or eat?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

LIFE: Antiquing in Bay City

If our spare time wasn't busy enough at the moment, we decided to make a 100 mile trip up north to Bay City to poke around Michigan's largest antiques mall. The Bay Antiques Center covers an entire block and is crammed full of vintage goodies from cookbooks to old hinges, vinyl to road signs, you could seriously spend hours there. 

Antiques mall Antiques mall

Housed in what was once a hardware store, the store holds over 60,000 square feet of offerings across three levels. In fact there's so much we actually antiqued out, there was just so much you could go through, flick though and devour that it's hard to take it all in. There's lengths of walls filled with stacks of vintage doors to pillars, piles of old letter presses, old door knobs and tiles - it's a perfect place if you're thinking of fixing up an old home and need some original pieces. We left with a bag full of vintage cookbooks and some more 1970's/1980's metal on vinyl - all in all a very worth while trip.

Bay City Bay City Bay City

Prior to wandering around the antiques mall we ate lunch beside the iced over river in the Veterans Memorial park and had a quick drive around the old part of town, certainly going to be a place to check back in the warmer months -5C wasn't the perfect weather for a picnic or wander around I have to admit!

The Bay Antiques Center can be found at;
1010 N. Water St, Bay City, Michigan

Monday, 24 March 2014

CROSS STITCH: Star Trek, The New Generation

Star Trek

If you've of told me before living with Joe that watching Star Trek would be one of my favorite TV shows I would have looked at you very strangely indeed, sci-fi shows like Star Trek never crossed my radar. Granted the kids these days are all into the film version (different universe though - don't ask) and may be unaware of all the TV series - there are five in all. So after moving, Joe tried making me watch the Voyager series, which admittedly I was very resistant to liking (and to be honest I still don't click with some of the characters). Yet give or take a couple of months I'd happily watch The New Generation (TNG) on BBC America plus having some understanding of the story line and characters really did start to help with "getting" the jokes and guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory

So TNG is the series that got me into Star Trek, it's set 70 odd years after the original adventures of the USS Enterprise with plot lines focusing on finding new life forms and the human condition. Commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by the infamous Patrick Stewart) - often found face palming and drinking Earl Grey tea, he is accompanied by the ladies man Commander Riker, the android operations manager Data to Geordi La Forge and his infamous visor to Worf - the first Klingon main character to ever feature. 

It fast became one of those shows I can really binge watch, so when I found some cross stitch patterns on Pinterest linked from Black Lupin. I knew I had to stitch them for myself and now it's finally all completed and framed. This is the first popular/non traditional/submissive stitching, call it what you will project I've stitched so it was a welcome change.

Star Trek Star Trek
Picard, Riker, Troi, Dr Crusher, Data, Geordi, Worf and Wesley Crusher

Admittedly since beginning this project, I've since started watching Deep Space Nine (DS9) which is partially a spin off from TNG with some characters (O'Brien, Worf) staring in both with is fast rivaling TNG as my favorite series. DS9 has some really well developed characters and interesting story lines when it comes to relationships amongst the crew to other life forms and the human condition, so after returning to some more "traditional" cross stitch projects, the DS9 character version is next on the list!

What's your take on Star Trek? Have a favorite series? Character? Are you cross stitching anything at the moment?

You can find the original chart here.

Friday, 21 March 2014

LIFE: Greencards and Conditions

Detroit, Michigan, USA
My corner of America - Detroit from NASA (source)
If life wasn't crazy and stressful enough with planning on buying our first house, it's all occurring at the same time my green card expires. While greencards tend to last 10 years, entering on a K1 visa, my first only lasted only two years until we jump another set of hurdles, pay lots of dollars ($590 which breaks down into $505 for the paperwork fees and the other $85 going on biometric costs) and get the "conditions" removed. What conditions I hear you cry? Well in my case, proving that my marriage is legit and that we didn't just married just so I could enter and live in the US.

This has got me stressed, very stressed, don't get me wrong I know my marriage is real, it's the trying to prove it part to officials who know nothing about us. Sadly while you could send in a million photographs of you and your spouse together, they hold little weight compared to the formal paperwork evidence. 

So this is all based sending in the I-751 form off and after a couple of weeks of compiling, printing and photocopying about 10oz of evidence what do you send in such a situation? Well, officially within the guidance for the I-751 they suggest any of the following;
  • Birth certificate(s) of children(s) born
  • Lease or mortgages showing join occupancy/ownership
  • Financial records showing joint ownership of asserts and joint responsibility for liabilities eg savings, checking accounts, state and federal tax returns, insurance policies, joint utility bills or loans
  • Other documents which establish a legit marriage 
  • Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by at least two people who have own you since your conditional residence was granted and have personal knowledge of your marriage and relationship
That basically comes down to showing and providing evidence for a lot of joint things - accounts, photographs and the like - anything that has both spouses names upon them. So for us - joint state and federal tax forms for the last two years, joint bank account, joint health insurance, joint rent lease and renter insurance to yes, even our joint Detroit Zoo membership (just because) alongside some photocopies of holiday cards, photographs with family members over the last couple of years and envelopes addressed to us both. Seriously not even all bona fied marriages have all that. 

After mailing it all in the wait begins, I've already received my receipt and a year extension on my green card, now just the waiting game for having my biometrics (photograph, finger prints) to be taken all over again and then we go from there towards getting the full ten year card, then after that I think I'm applying for citizenship which brings up a whole load of other topics in itself although I won't feel ready for that for another couple of years.

Crazy much?!

I should probably give some background to all the readers that have come along since I moved to the US and don't know the full story. Basically I fell in love with an American and migrated from Yorkshire to Michigan in 2011 on a K-1 visa after being in a long distance relationship since 2009. I blogged about it a lot over those nine months waiting for my visa - from the paperwork to the medical exam and America embassy interview alongside applying for permanent resident status so feel free to have a look back - it's all under the visa tag, and as always if you ever have any visa/expat questions you can always get in touch.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

FOOD: The American Baked Bean

Baked Beans

Before moving to the US, everyone I worked with always use to tell me how much I'd hate American baked beans. Baked beans to me are one of those things I could never skimp on and buy a shops own brand, it would always have to be Heinz. They are certainly a key cultural icon in the UK - I mean we have them for breakfast, lunch or tea. We all grew up with baked beans on toast, they go perfect with a slice or three of bacon and well they are fine on their own if we're honest and some would even admit to eating them cold.

It's funny how a tin of beans can become and reflect wider cultural impacts and experiences of food when you are an expat, when the things you've eaten for the last 25 odd years in my case suddenly change, hence why this blogger challenge post is about the baked bean, rather than a recipe, which I would normally do anyway. I'm shaking it up.

When you compare the two nations and there two versions of the baked bean, there is actually a far bit of a difference. In the US you'll find them much sweeter due to the inclusion of brown sugar and in variety of sauces and if we're getting observant different in colour. But many say the key difference is down to the tomato sauce - in the US it's certainly thinner, more watery and actually more expensive. 

According to many an expat, baked beans of the British variety are one of the main food items us expat miss the most although they can be found in those British food sections in the import aisle although you'll probably have to fork out about $3-4 for a tin. Myself? Actually not, I oddly prefer the American variety because they are sweeter and yes the bacon pieces is my winning factor even thought it might only be a teeny tiny 1cm slice in the entire tin. But I think I'm one of the few British expats that prefer the American baked bean.

Custard on the other hand is another matter entirely ... American's can't do custard.

What are your thoughts and what do you love to have your baked beans with? If you've ever tried them, are you a lover or hater of the American baked bean? What would you miss if you moved countries?

 This post is the #6 in the 2014bloggerchallenge.

Monday, 17 March 2014

ZOO TIMES: Penguins

Penguins Detroit Zoo Penguins Detroit Zoo Penguins Detroit Zoo Penguins Detroit Zoo

Penguins have to be one of my favorite creatures (although they do battle with Kolas to be that high on the list) I love their grace in the water, how they waddle to their mating and nest building rituals. But at zoos in the US they are a bugger to photograph. Out of the three zoo's that we've visited that have had penguins - two of them have had them indoors (Detroit and Pittsburgh - just to note the Toledo Zoo does have them outside), often because winter gets too cold and summer gets too hot. Sadly that means they get housed behind glass which gets steamed up and messy from water although it's a great way for the keepers to maintain a constant 45 to 50F environment - which is key for the Sub Antarctic penguin species that you'll find at the Detroit Zoo - the King, Macaroni and the Rockhopper.

The penguins of the Detroit Zoo are housed within the Penguianrium which, when opened in 1968, was North America's first facility specially designed for penguins. The three sided enclosure is surrounded by a pool which allows the birds to swim all the way round. They even control and adjust the lighting to reflect the seasons they would experience in the wild which is key for maintaining their health, breeding and molting seasons - as you can just see in these pictures, molting season is upon the King penguins - their feathers are everywhere and we were luckily enough on our trip on Saturday to watch them being fed - it was very amusing. 

Luckily the penguins are set to get a new home with work set to commence this month on a new $21 million home which is designed to have a 25 foot deep pool, waves and snow - as a zoo member and a penguin lover - I'm really excited about this and I can't wait to see it all built and opened. I've loved seeing the online clips of the recently opened penguin exhibit at The Deep in Hull for some Gentoo Penguins (which I often visited as a teen being on the doorstep and all) so if you're in the area do check it out!

I'd love to hear your favorite penguin exhibits! 

Friday, 14 March 2014

HOUSE BUYING: The Beginning

Front Door Flowers
"Front Door Flowers" by LongitudeLatitude is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Growing up, at least during my university years I had my heart set on buying a little terraced house that lined the streets of Newcastle. It'd be filled with period features - everything from the original brass door knobs, cast iron fireplaces to grand old staircases, much like the house I lived in for three years in Heaton (but it would be warmer and not have mold on the walls or be filled with students that didn't clean up). With a bright red wooden door, a terraced house in Newcastle would be home. 

It's funny how life turns out.

There aren't too many terraced houses in these parts of the Mid West and wooden doors seem very few and far between. American streets of Metro Detroit are predominately filled with detached homes with porches to the infamous post box by the curb side with retro bars in the basement. Streets are tree lined (so many trees) and you'll even come across a dirt track or two. A year ago we started properly saving, working on our credit to buy our first very house, a small piece of America, now we're ready to buy.

So this post marks the start of a new adventure - one I hope to share on my blog in a mini series across the forthcoming weeks and months covering everything from mortgage pre approval, mistakes first time buyers make to home buyers classes and the like. An increasing pet hate is coming across blog posts that claim buying a house is easy - and while I hope my posts don't scare people, I do want them to reflect the experiences and advice we've come across. We're doing all this by ourselves (literally and financially), we're learning as we do this. Hopefully this series will provide a realistic glimpse at house buying and whether your in the UK or the US I'm sure many of the tips are international and helpful. Granted we are buying in the US market  and we are really lucky to be able to apply for a particular government loan (which requires only a 1% down payment - more of this to come) and while yes we live just outside bankrupt Detroit, we actually live in one of the richest county's in the US.

Luckily me and Joe are on the same page with what we want out of a house - while we're approved for a lot higher, we're trying to stick well under the $70k max (yes you can buy a house that cheaply here) aside from being in the couple of cities we have our eyes on, they basically boil down to;
  • 3 bedrooms (one to be converted into my office come store space/craft room)
  • A basement 
  • Decent sized garden (pretty much standard in these parts)
  • At least 1000 square feet (that might sound small but basements without full windows and attic space which is often a room rather than an attic in the English sense of a home generally aren't included in the space measurements). 
Yeah we're that easily pleased. It'll be interesting how this list relates to what we finally buy.

Seeing as we're all mortgage approved and the house viewing is beginning this weekend I thought it would be high time I actually blogged about it (I always thought it was tempting fate too much to talk and share prior to having things sorted - trust me we've been working on this for over a year).

So first things first, what kind house would you be after? What would be on your must have house list? Did you ever imagine where and how your first house would be growing up?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

FOOD: Vintage Coffee Drop Cookies

Coffee Drop Cookies

Everyone loves a cookie right? Thing is i'm not the best at baking them, they never end up gooey or chewy enough for my liking. But after seeing so many other the blogpshere in the last couple of weeks I thought it was high time I tried baking some again. Maybe things are starting to improve, or this is just a really tasty recipe, either way they are worthy baking again. 

Carrying along with my new vintage recipe feature, this recipe for coffee drop cookies comes out of the pages of the McCall's Cookie Collection printed back in 1972 and rather than being just a plain old cookie, has as very tasty icing. It originally called for walnuts instead of chocolate chips, but my cupboards dictate what gets thrown into the bowl - that's half the fun. 

To the recipe we go!

Coffee Drop Cookies

1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons of instant coffee
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of chocolate chips

For the icing;
2 cups of confectioners sugar
1/4 cup of cold coffee
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of cocoa

The cookie dough is pretty straight forward to make - you mix your butter and sugar together, adding in the egg and mixing until all light and fluffy. After dissolving the instant coffee in two tablespoons of hot water, add that into your mix. Take your flour in one bowl and your milk in another, and alternatively mix them into the butter/egg mix. 

Take about a tablespoon of mixture at a time and place them onto a baking sheet, place into a preheated oven at 375F for 8 to 10 minutes until you start to see that lightly browned topping to the cookies. Once cooked place on a wire rack and leave to cool.

Then mix together your icing - adding the sugar and coffee alternatively to the butter. Finally add in the coffee and mix well. 

Coffee Drop Cookies

I'll be honest, I did eat a cookie as soon as they came out of the oven unglazed and you couldn't go without icing them at all, but I find the icing with the added coffee certainly brings out the flavor a little more, which for me can only be a good thing. Granted they are particularly gooey, or even overly chewy, but I can deal without that, they taste good enough as they are although they might be a little too coffee based if the coffee flavor isn't your thing, the taste isn't subtle.

Coffee drop cookies

How do you like your cookies?

Monday, 10 March 2014

BOOKS: February's Reading Pile


Another month another small pile of books read (I say small because I know some people manage to read 25+ books a month so this appears to be a tiny tiny pile) - but my intention of reading more in 2014 is still holding strong. You'll notice that Cosmos is missing from the photograph - this because I packed it away for moving and totally forgot I hadn't taken it's photograph yet ... oops.

So what pages have I been turning in February?

Everyone leaves school with their memories of reading Of Mice and Men, having studied the book over 12 years ago, I thought it was high time I took to exploring some more of John Steinbeck's work. While The Winter of Our Discontent isn't credited as being one of Steinbeck's best works (although it did win the 1962 Nobel Prize for literature), it was his last and follows a man experiencing somewhat of a mid life crisis as he battles his role as a husband, father, shop assistant and friend alongside the legancy of his family. He is a man disillusioned with life and everyone seems restless. Questions of mortality, social status and keeping up with the Jones will keep you reading through to the end, which itself is haunting. 

Big Maria* is one of those epic tales - not in terms of the size of the book but through the adventure that unravels. Three down and outs come together to scour for the forgotten gold mines that just happen to be within the middle of an American artillery range. Nothing is simple - maps are lost under a flooded city, bus crashes, bullets flying and cancer all play a part. Straight up honest humour is met with characters you might not necessarily warm to, but in fact that makes them more real - they may be total losers, but many of us in life are just that.

Originally published to accompany the TV show of the same name, Cosmos by Carl Sagan  documents, explores and often predicts how science and civilisation developed together and their roles in our future. Cosmos is still a controversial read for some, especially those who swear by the Bible  - there's even suggestions of having to repent if you choose to read this within Goodreads reviews. But that is by the by. Sagan is an excellent narrator in depicting how we as humans are part of the larger system of planets and space, but what intrigued me most was how life, how plants and space discovery may change in the future. While it's a great read for the lay person, at times the text did drift off, often repeat and end up in maths formulas that lost me many a time.Oh and if you happen to get the chance to watch the remake of Cosmos which began last night on Fox/Nat Geo - it's a must watch!

While I don't overly reach for memoirs, I was struck by just how much I enjoyed reading Mermaid- a book documenting the life of Eileen a girl born without legs. Mermaid comes to share her exploration of family life, religion, of dealing with a disability and the unspoken truth about her mother taking thalidomide. It's funny, heartbreaking and heart-warming, it's touching and inspiring which I say about very few books.

I'd love to hear what you've been reading lately.

*Big Maria and Mermaid were Goodreads First Reads giveaway wins in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

Friday, 7 March 2014

DETROIT: Stained Glass

The pieces of stained glass to me are some of the most mesmorising pieces the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) holds - you'll find the majority up on level 3 as you set outside the lifts - the lights behind them bright and welcoming you over. The work, the skill and the beauty that went into creating such early pieces astonishes me every time I visit. Rarely do I sit and just look at anything for a long period of time, in a gallery or otherwise but stained glass just grabs my attention - it feels so alive. Every time you look you notice something else, some detailed and something different. From the detailing upon a hand, the text upon a book or the lines around a person's eyes - it really is all about the details. Somewhat fitting I think for a Friday as we approach a weekend when we can hopefully relax a little, step away from the emails, loose ourselves in a couple of netflix shows.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

LIFE: Paczki Day


I was certainly going to town on the fat on Fat Tuesday, what with paczki's and pancakes. What is a paczki I hear you cry from over the Atlantic Ocean? As much as they look like, and the word paczki actually translates from the Polish into doughnuts they differ in the batter used for frying them. They're often filled with yummy fillings like raspberry, strawberries or just covered in a glaze, but traditionally they were filled with plum and rose hip. They are a lot richer and a lot taster than your average doughnut for sure.

They are a bit of a big deal around these parts - as Polish immigrants moved into the region they brought their food and traditions with them. The city of Hamtramck is made up of a big Polish population and is the center for paczki and Fat Tuesday traditions. Due to the popularity they can be found in food stores too especially in areas across the US with similarly high Polish populations which is were I grabbed mine - filled with a yummy strawberry filling and I also had a "proper" paczki later that was filled with the most gooey and delicious lemon curd filling. Heavenly. 

But being a mix of cultures these days, I'm all for having a traditional crepe pancakes (lately I've been always making American style pancakes so it was a welcome change) and gave me an excuse to get through some of the cappuccino ice cream that's a little strong tasting on it's own!

Pancake Day

What did you eat for Fat Tuesday?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

BEAUTY: On Being the Girl With the Chipped Nails


Hands up - I know nothing about beauty, or how to do pretty nail art or what's even a decent top coat these days. I'm the first to admit it doesn't interest me in the slightest.

In the early days of this blog nail varnishes sometimes had a passing mention - I think there's even some individual posts if you care to big deep. Fast forward to today and I don't have that need or the desire for make up or even really splashing out on fancy nail varnishes depending on the in colors for the season. I'm pretty low maintenance, don't get me wrong I like to look ok but I'm more than happy to go the store without a face of make up on - working from home, I go without make up most day. Coating my face in make up doesn't boost my confidence, it makes me feel like I'm hiding from myself even more than normal. This is why you'll rarely, if ever see me talking of my own free will about beauty on Dear Ms Leigh, in fact I rarely read about beauty on any blog. It's just not my thing - each to their own and all.

Then it comes to nails. Rooting in old, damp, dark, dusty basements to sorting through kitchen cupboards and piles of old boxes every week, well that does nothing for your nails I tell you. Gone at the days of having nails that were long, or smooth, or nice. But it goes with my job. Root through a box of vinyl and there'll be a chip and well it gets worse from there. To be honest, it doesn't bother me much, yeah I'm one of those people with chipped varnish. And I don't care but I will spare you from having to see them.

To limit this post being rather negative and not knowing anything really about what's hot in the world of nail varnish, I do feel comfy talking about new uses for vintage things in everyday life, so we'll go with that. 

Me and acrylic storage don't go well - my plastic drawers for my stock are well hidden under vintage doilies and table cloths, so when it comes to storing my nail varnishes, the ones I have on hand - at least the ones I reach out to the most in any given month are, surprise surprise, displayed in something vintage. Acrylic nail varnish holders and containers may work well for some, but they would never work, nor would they ever fit in with everything else we have and use. So vintage it is. Granted i'm not overly sure about the original purpose of the holder - it may well be a dish, a holder or even an ash tray - but with a good clean it works well for my uses, it sits on one of my stock drawers, piled with varnishes I've considered, used but never lasted long enough from the previous couple of weeks. 

Nail Varnish

Where does beauty fit in your life? What crazy things do you turn to for storage?

 This post is the #5 in the 2014bloggerchallenge - yes I missed 4 because I have no interest in high end items

Monday, 3 March 2014

LIFE: Vinyl Kind of Weekend

Record Player Vinyl Collection Motown Record Vinyl

Our weekend pretty much started, and ended with vinyl. There was a huge, and I mean huge estate sale at the end of last week with a house of thousands and thousands (no joke) of records - from everything from jazz to blues, show tunes and some rock and roll thrown in for good measure. The majority were for sale for $1 so it would have been wrong to have not checked it out. 

Which basically meant Joe leaving me at the sale for a couple of hours to go through the walls of records and pick some out for ourselves. I think we came home with about thirty to add to our collection, I was mainly battling against seasoned resellers, luckily they weren't overly interested in the jazz or the blues so that was fine by me. What did we end up with well everything from Fats Waller to Billie Holiday via some Motown and Three Dog Night.

With talk about buying a house we've already packed up a box of vinyl - mainly the ones we can deal without listening to for a couple of months, as for the rest, I dread to think we physically and safety pack up and move 800 plus of them. This all reminds me how I should get around to doing an apartment tour - but it'll be without the fancy parts you find in similar posts on other blogs - you'll see it mess and all.

Anyway listening to vinyl, relaxing with five of them lined up, certainly is a nice lazy way to spend a Sunday and try to forget the coming stresses of the week ahead. Nothing beats that pop, the hissing and the crackling of music of years gone by coming back to life.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

FOOD: Amici's Gourmet Pizza

After finding the Detroit Metro Times list of their favorite 15 local pizza places, we decided to take it up ourselves and try some (if not all) of them. Everyone loves pizza, everyone loves really good pizza so this challenge, if you could even call it that is hopefully a win win. Granted not many of my readers are in the Metro Detroit area for you to try them out yourselves, but hopefully you might be tempted to try your local pizza places over the big chains (bar Jets, you can't go wrong with Jets). So I'm starting this little side venture on the blog to compare them ourselves and see how ours ratings compare.

First up was Amici's - an electric, gourmet and certified green pizzeria in along Main St. in Berkley. Here you'll find flavors of pizzas like Caribbean Spicy Jerk Chicken to Vegan or Pesto pizzas. With our push towards eating more organic fruit and vegetables ourselves, anywhere that sells organic, fresh and locally sourced produced is worth a try in my book and this place would certainly appeal to the vegetarians out there.


Opting to pick up and take out our pizza the first issue sadly was the parking which is pretty much non existent and parking in any of the other business carparks your continuously threatened with being towed. Not so good if you fancy taking out your food. But to the most important factor - the food. We ordered two 12" (8 sliced) pizzas to try - the Portabello Mushroom - decorated with fresh mushrooms, roasted garlic with crispy bacon and fontina cheese on a garlic spread alongside a Smoked Salmon pizza (photographed - salmon, sour cream, scallions and low fat cheese) for $15.79 each and on a white flour base (they also have a wheat option), we also ordered a side of the pesto breadsticks ($3.25).

Starting with the breadsticks (shown in the header) you certainly get a lot for your money, they come with a real nice, chunky tomato marinade, however the breadsticks themselves seem to be lacking in taste in comparison to the sauce. Both pizzas were non greasy which makes a very welcome change, yet the bases were a little dry for our liking. The salmon pizza turned out to be my favorite, the flavor - what there was of it was intriguing enough for it to be enjoyable. Sadly the flavors on each were nothing special - the bacon was certainly only a hint on the mushroom and the sour cream probably takes some getting use to, at least on a pizza.

When you consider the price, you somewhat expect a little extra in terms of both size and flavor. Granted the pizzas aren't cheap - yes they are "better" than many of the chains, but you're certainly paying that extra couple of dollars for the gourmet name. While I think the pizzas were good and the topping suggestions certainly offer something a little different, but the best? I'm not so sure.

Amici's is located at;
3249 W. 12 Mile, Berkley, Michigan