Friday, 4 December 2015

LIFE: Small Things


Hello hello. How are you all? Everyone getting in the Christmas spirit?! Life here has been a mix of 5" of snow, road trips, lots of turkey and candied bacon. These small things posts always get me into the swing of blogging although I haven't done one since October - oops. I actually haven't done much blogging since October ... moving swiftly along ... here's to the happy list
  • Loving Jessica Jones - although we haven't binge watched it like we did Daredevil - it's a little bit too dark for me to binge in one go, that I want to make it last. I love how they've adapted Jessica for the screen, taking the darkness in a different direction. I'd highly recommend reading Alias (although perhaps not if you don't like curse words) which focuses more on her being a PI than perhaps this adaption is showing. The Pulse - which focuses on her life a couple of months after Alias when she works for the Daily Bugle is a fun read too especially if you want to get some more gossip on the whole Jessica, Luke Cage (who's getting his own show) relationship. 
  • Enjoying a fantastic brunch at Bakn in Carnegie PA - also loving their name, and if you love bacon it's well worth checking out.
  • Finishing and hanging my cross stitch advent calendar all ready for December - used up some of the left over chocolate from Halloween. 
  • Thanksgiving dinner - delicious!
  • Making friends with other people's kitties.
  • Seeing Pittsburgh's Christmas tree.
  • Getting my fish & chip fill at my favorite place for my British fix - Piper's Pub along Carsen St, Pittsburgh.
  • Chocolate covered espresso beans from Sanders - oh my word they are good!
  • Cashmere scarves = weakness
  • Sticking up our Christmas tree, living in the US it seems a lot more acceptable to stick your tree up early, I can live with that. The cat's trying to eat said tree, not so much.
  • Making lots of cross stitch Christmas cards - I only tend to send them to family members - or at least family members that'll appreciate them but they are fun to stitch. 
How's things with y'all?

Monday, 23 November 2015

LIFE: Photo An Hour November 2015

Photo An Hour Photo An Hour Photo An Hour Photo An Hour Photo An Hour Photo An Hour Photo An Hour Photo An Hour

Oh hey everyone. I know I've been a little absent from the whole blogging thing. I don't think I've been near anything blog related in about two weeks and apparently I haven't shared anything here for the entirety of Noevember. As of right now, I'm not really sure of the future of my blog, I'm not really sure if I've reached the point of calling it a day or just drawing it right back and just writing whenever whatever. It's all a little up on the air.

But photo an hour was calling and well, it's hard to not join in. 

Saturday was actually the first proper snowfall of the winter 2015-2016 season with a predicated 8 or so inches of the white stuff, but I think we ended up getting about 5". It was also a day of trying to get on top of all our boring adult chores, think changing oil in the car, putting the window insulation up, hanging curtains and getting a start on Christmas shopping kinda day. Followed by cross stitching, hot dogs, whiskey and everything from Jessica Jones to the Mindy Project. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

SNAPSHOTS: The Cincinnati Zoo

Zoo Zoo Zoo Zoo Zoo Zoo Zoo Zoo Zoo Zoo

After our first visit in July, the Cincinnati Zoo fast became my favorite. It's wonderfully laid out, the exhibits are huge and they do a great deal of work behind the scenes at helping reintroducing species back into the wild - to the point it's often considered the sexist zoo for all the breeding programs that help repopulate wild populations. So when we had a long weekend just after my birthday, I couldn't really turn down a road trip back there. 

It's always great returning to the zoo after a couple of months (one of the reasons why I love my Detroit Zoo membership) those lion clubs were getting so much larger and daddy Lion was back in the exhibit, Tofu the baby Red Panda was out and about, those baby Flamingo's were just as big as their parents. Plus we managed to catch a glimpse of those animals we missed the first time around - like the crazy cute Sloth to those calling the Gibbon island home. Plus the zoo is home to my favorite penguins - those baby blue ones and with the cooler weather overhead they were being adorably active - splashing, swimming around in their pool. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

LIFE: Allegheny Autumnal Backroads

Small Things Small Things Small Things Small Things

Sweeping along the many back roads of Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) walls of orange and yellowing leaves were broken up with a quick glimpse of the Monongahela River, railroad tracks or rocky hills. Winding roads and hills seem another world away from the flat corner of SE Michigan, roads that often take me back to my English roots and old family holidays in the Lakes or Scotland. For this reason along, Allegheny always has a special place in my heart for drawing up those old memories of the homeland. I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised at the autumnal colours that this corner of West PA had to offer.   

Monday, 26 October 2015

LIFE: Small Things

Small Things

Life has been a little up in the air shall we say in the last couple of weeks, which unfortunately led to a quick dash back to Pittsburgh for a family funeral. Hence the delay in getting out last weeks small things posts, but with a death, it makes you appreciate those small things even more. And while I could go on about the differences in how a funeral plays out in the US in comparison, lets just talk about happy things, like;

  • Fall the fall colours - I can never tire of seeing all those oranges, reds and yellows
  • Signing up for Marvel Unlimited and getting to read loads and loads of Marvel comics - old and new
  • Managing to get a 3 foot tall Peace Lily home in one piece all the way from Pittsburgh, it however may not survive being around the kitties ... 
  • Having a couple of days being called auntie is always fun
  • Driving around the back roads of Allegheny in Pennsylvania and being blown away with all the beautiful fall colours (more on this to come)  
  • Finally getting around to reading Nimona which is a very quirky and fun graphic novel that I would highly recommend
  • Also Neil Gaiman's Sleeper and the Spindle is both a beautiful tale and gorgeously illustrated which is always a double winner
  • Being spoiled with a Keurig coffee machine in our hotel room
  • All the pumpkin carving
  • Meeting lots of new kitties and seeing just how well they flock to me, it's like I just let off cat lady signals at every turn
  • Popping into an anime store in Greensburg and finding all the goodies

How are things with you?

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

CREATIVE: Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

A couple of months ago, I made the most of our friends buying their first house and made it the perfect excuse to get around to trying out designing another cross stitch to give to them as a celebratory gift. The design was a whole collection of various ideas that have been flying around in my head for a while that just happened to flow out and work pretty well together. Pretty love hearts, cute fluffy clouds and variegated shades on the text. Not to mention the endless number of french knotted flowers. Finished off in a 6" embroidery hoop and all ready to hang.

Home Sweet Home

I have to admit, I'm pleased as punch how this design turned out.

What have you been crafting lately?

Monday, 19 October 2015

LIFE: Photo An Hour - October 2015

Saturday rolled around marking the October link up for photo an hour organized by Jane and Louisa. The morning actually marked the first frost of the year (even snow in some places) and the first weekend getting around to estate sales for nearly a month. 

But enough of the introductory small talk and get to the juicy bits.
Photo An Hour

9 am // getting ready to go out - finally back to being scarf season, actually wishing I had some gloves to hand once we got outside because of the aforementioned frost. Chilly days.

10 am // admiring pretty autumnal colours

Photo An Hour

11 am // Joe was poking boxes with old Transformers toys, I was amusing myself admiring various old plates.

12 pm // blue skies ahead. Misleading Michigan blue skies I should add. They always suggest warm days that are now long gone.

Photo An Hour

1 pm // library trip - dropping some off, picking some up. Also admiring the huge comic book collection that my local library is home too.

2 pm // late lunch of a bacon sarnie smothered in brown sauce mmm

Photo An Hour

3 pm // on my bulb planting mission trying to plant over 200 of them. It's endless. Also annoying my squirrel friends by disturbing all their nut collections as I plant away. Take this additionally as my 4pm image.

5 pm // so I was a sucker for the lighthouse fabric, cleaning up an old footstool into yet another sewing box (can't have too many).

Photo An Hour

6 pm // became all about the n's - Netflix (NCIS), nail painting and reading the newspaper. Easily pleased. 

7 pm // tea time - Buffalo Wild Wing leftovers from Friday night - nom indeed.

The rest of the night was basically spent on the sofa watching Netflix and being lazy with two purring kitties.

How was your Saturday?

Friday, 16 October 2015

LIFE: Why Michigan Rocks in the Fall

Westgate Overlook Michigan

Maybe it's because I'm an autumn baby, or because September weekends were spent picking apples from the tree in my parents garden, eating all those pies, kicking all those leaves, but autumn has always been a favorite of mine. And while it's always been a favorite, moving to Michigan made it all the special, there's something pretty incredible about Michigan when fall comes to town.

Call this post a part bucket list, a to list of Michigan autumnal delights, or just another list of reasons why I love this state. 

Apple Picking

Apple Picking
With a broken oven - I shall miss the baking of apples picked by hand from our somewhat local apple orchard.Turning all those juicy ripe goodies into pies and crumbles. Nom. I would never have imagined witnessing the hour long queues to grab a bag for filling to the brim with apples, but once autumn comes around apple picking is a huge event.  

Cider and Doughnuts
The two go hand in hand lets be honest. Granted I've not actually made it to a cider mill yet (oops) but the doughnuts we treat ourselves too from Erwin's Orchard (where we go apple picking) are some of the best I've tasted.

Fall Colours Michigan

Fall Colours
You can take a gander at amazing autumn colours - reds, oranges, burnt crispy yellows throughout the state, but the higher you go, the more beautiful the sight becomes. I could basically say "drive along any road in the north and you'll be impressed". Actually true. But the avenue of trees along M22 or any that takes you through the Huron National Forest (stopping at my favorites when we took our little Michigan road trip back in 2012.

Need a guide for peak colour dates, well MLive has you covered.

Michigan Ren Fest

Michigan Ren Festival
Once Labor Day rolls around, the Michigan Ren Festival comes out to play. With Turkey legs the size of your face, jousting contests to displays and little shops it's a fun place for soaking in all things medieval. It's been a good couple of years since we took a trip to the festival, so we're probably due another visit. 

Erwin Orchard Picking

All sizes, shapes and varieties of pumpkins as far as the eye can see. There's something really American about seeing countless fields (often pick your own) of pumpkins in the fall. More so when you see how everyone decorates their front porch with them - all shapes and sizes.

What do you love about autumn where you live?

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

PITTSBURGH: The Block House - Western PA's Oldest Building

Point Park

Beside the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh's Point Park, you'll come across a small building with a delightful garden and a most intriguing history. Known as the Fort Pitt Block House, this building remains as the oldest standing structure in Western Pennsylvania and the oldest building west of the Allegheny Mountains. Occasionally known as Bouquet's Blockhouse or the Bouquet's Redoubt, the building was originally built as a defensive redoubt (often one of the first lines of defense) of Fort Pitt - what was once the largest and key defensive forts of the British.

While the fort was demolished in 1792, the Block House was converted into a private residence. The building isn't on the large side so I can't imagine who cramped housing conditions must have been - records suggest it was home to various sizes, classes and social backgrounds over the decades. By the 1840's the Block House was home to multiple families - just one of many tenement houses of Pittsburgh's poor Point District population.

Point Park

By 1894, Mary Schenley - a philanthropist, presented the deed to the Block House to the Daughter of American Revolution (DAR). With 16 months of restoration - removing the windows and doors, the DAR continue to this day to preserve the structure for future generations with many of the timbers, brick and stonework being original. Today the Block House is a free to visit museum. Sadly we wandered around Point Park late on a summers evening after closing, but fingers crossed for a peek inside sometime especially with it's British history.

I do wish I'd captured more photographs of the Edith Ammon Memorial Garden which is planted just to the left of the building. While small, it had quiet the English cottage garden feel yet filled with flowers native to the Pittsburgh area.

Point Park

It's always great to come across glimpses of British history on my travels on this side of the pond.

Monday, 12 October 2015

OHIO: Along Country Roads

Farmland Farmland Farmland Farmland Farmland Farmland Farmland

An unplanned diversions (roadworks & accidents) though the back roads on the northern drive homeward to Detroit from Cincinnati lead to a sneak peak of more of the Ohioan countryside. With tractors buzzing away gathering in the harvest, fields of produce stretched as far as the eye could see. Old farmhouses, brick and wooden popped up over the crops, nearly all with their sturdy metal roofing to protect themselves from the elements. Old wooden barns marked with painted lettering celebrating a notable year in the state's history faded and peeling in the distance. So I thank google maps for suggesting we avoid an hour long queue along I-75 and for offering me a pretty glimpse of American countryside.