Friday, 29 May 2015

SNAPSHOTS: Pere Marquette Depot, Bay City


Trains are a big deal to me. I gues that's what happens when you grow up with an old disused railway line running through your home town (thanks to 1960's Beeching cuts) and with the National Railway Museum not only being free, but on your doorstep in York, train love was bound to happen. While Michigan is lacking in the public transport yet along having a decent train service around and about, I remain enchanted admittedly to old railway/railroad stations. I guess that's why the Michigan Central here in Detroit appeals to me as a train lover rather than a fan of it's abandoned state.

So for me, I love to imagine the days before the car of getting around by stream train. For people and goods the railroad was a vital life line between towns and cities and Bay City, a city here in Michigan, it was no different. From here you could travel to a couple of miles to Saginaw, further to Detroit, into Ohio or even to Chicago. Bay City's own train station was once abandoned but has found new life has a community resource facility, proof that stations can always have a second, or even third life. So when we were up in the area last year, a wander to the train station when I had time to kill was bound to happen.

Depot Depot

The Pere Marquette Depot opened in 1904 and seemed to have been at the displeasure of many. As the Bay City Times reported:
"the exterior, with it's tile roof, and odd surroundings, presents a quaint appearance and many will probably say upon looking at it from the street, that it is not good enough for this city". 
Whether it's appearance was loved or hated, the station still saw the arrival and departure of over 30 trains daily in it's early years. Travellers were greeted with a two story waiting room, marble flooring and walls, a gentleman's smoking room and a ladies waiting room. 

Operated until 1937 by the Pere Marquette Railroad Company it was then acquired and merged by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1947. Sadly by this time rail travel was in decline on both sides of the Atlantic and the station closed in 1951. While the station found a second life as a terminal for the Greyhound bus company, they vacated in 1969 and the station was abandoned. It wasn't until 2003 when the Great Lakes Center Foundation purchased and restored the depot - rebuilding the tower, canopy and porte cochere which were all removed by Greyhound. It's now home to two local Bay City committees.

As someone that came from a rural town that demolished both the railway tracks and it's station, it's great to see old former stations finding new leases for life, if only the same could be side for the Michigan Central Station. Maybe one day.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

GREEN FINGERS: Recent Garden Happenings

Garden Daffodil

The last couple of weeks, hotter days and a couple of heavy showers and the garden has sprung to life. So much life I'm behind blogging it all. As much with weedy life too as it is with flowers. But that's neither here nor there. I've fallen in love with the late flowering Original Poets Daffodils (shown above) which have the most delightful scent to match that charming red tint around it's trumpet. 

Shopping lists for spring bulbs 2016 are being penned out. More crocuses, more daffodils, even more colour. Bulbs to replace all but one of the tulips that my fuzzy squirrel friends enjoy dead-heading before they have a chance to bloom. Only one pictured below, survived long enough to flower. Do they bother with the neighbours tulips?! Nope, no, just mine. Damn it. 

Poppy Garden

My eye for capturing all blossom of Magnolia has been replaced by the deep purples of the Lilac tree. Another border is home to all my inherited poppies, all furry and promising those eye catching bright reds and oranges. More inherited unknown plants have finally been named, peonies and Irises both hanging on the edge of flowery promise. Everything that got a very thorough pruning - the roses in particular are seeming all the better for it, I'm just hoping they gift me with some flowers this year. 

Veg Patch Rhubarb Veg Patch

But all the main exciting events, for this time at least has been occurring down the end of the garden, hidden away in the veg patch. After Flower Day shopping haul from the Eastern Market our plot is full to the brim with goodies. Home made trellises were constructed for the zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, Serrano peppers and cucumbers. We have a patch of strawberries and inherited raspberries with a rhubarb edition, lettuces and radishes. A small herb collection of basil, coriander and chives, the odd sweet potato plant and carrots fill out the remainder of the space. While I've already called time of death on the onion seeds, I have great hopes for everything else.

We've even had a few new and interesting feathered visitors too - regular Blue Jays and another Woodpecker variety, some fluttery butterflies passing through and a fair few bees. It's all turning very exciting even if the weather isn't fully cooperating with highs and lows everywhere between the 30's and 80's. I've had this garden nearly 11 months and after finding some of the original photographs when we moved in, it's great to see how it's all coming together although as soon as I finish off a garden post, with all the new flowers coming to bloom daily, it's already behind the times.

Monday, 25 May 2015

LIFE: Photo An Hour May 2015

May's photo an hour challenge rolled around this weekend and I managed to join in for the most part. This weekend also happens to be Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day is a federal holiday here in the US for remembering those who have fallen serving in the countries armed forces. It's a weekend of lots of local activities - fun fairs, parades, people getting together having BBQs and marks the first big weekend for people travelling and spending time away.


9 am // weekend days start the same as any other - topping off any or all of the three bird feeders we have around our garden front and back. A couple of weeks ago we decided to buy a more "premium" blend - more fruity and nutty and it's certainly paying off (at least in the back garden) with the new bird species that seem to be passing through more often.

10 am // out in the garden watering the veg patch and I noticed in the border that is home to all my poppies that seem to have been on the edge of blooming for the last couple of weeks. Luckily the frosty nights of the last week haven't scared them off and the first poppy bloomed. 


11 am // driving around for estate sales we hit the end of the Memorial Day Parade in our old stomping ground of Madison Heights while attempting to get across John R for the post office. We decided to watch the end of the parade and caught a glimpse of this rather pretty old car (although in the Motor City old cars are ten penny but I rather like this colour scheme). 

12 pm // came home via our cities local community centre which was having a craft (not so much crafty things there) and bake sale again over the Memorial Day weekend. The food was all too tempting so we stocked up on home-made plum jam, zucchini bread, fudge and carrot cake. Nom indeed! 


1 pm // I decided to take my work outside and work on the deck when I noticed the first Iris had bloomed. Strangely enough in the same border as the poppies. In the couple of hours we were out for estate sales, it had sprung to life.

2 pm // work being organising all today's purchases including a great pile of 1930's and 1940's crochet edging pattern booklets. Hopefully I'll find them some loving new homes. 


3 pm // working on the final back stitching piece of my shed themed cross stitch design I've been working on the last couple of weeks. I love how colourful this design has been to work on. 

4 pm // getting in a sequin and beady kind of mess. I'm not the most logical or organisational kind of gal, but seeing them all messed up in a craft box I picked up for like 50c, calls for organisation. I've been eyeing up a cross stitch that using sequins so this'll come in handy. 


5 pm // well basically 5 through 10pm was spent at a friends house having a BBQ. A lack of phone signal strong enough to update, too much yummy food to ignore and basically lots of chatting and photo an hour kinda fell out the window. I donno, too many pictures in such circumstances seems rude to me so I called it a day there. 

Memorial Day weekend marks pretty much the start of summer. Hopefully the end of frost warnings, getting out to more estate sales and enjoying the outside a little more. 

How was your weekend?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

DETROIT: Flower Day at the Eastern Market

Shed 5 Flowers Flowers Flowers 2015-05-17 04.08.36 1 BBQ Pulled Pok Eastern Market

The first Sunday after (American) Mothers Day marks the arrival of Flower Day down in Detroit's Eastern Market. You may remember me mentioning the Eastern Market last year when we paid a visit -  it's a huge farmers market which comes to life on Saturdays with all things plant, food, live music and local memorabilia you could put a name to. For Flower Day which began in at it's present location in 1967, the Eastern Market hosts local growers alongside those from neighboring states and those from over the river in Ontario, Canada. Here you'll find 15 acres of all the flowers, hanging baskets and containers, garden accessories and vegetables you could ever dream about. Think of a sea of flowers of all sorts, colours, sizes and varieties piled up, laid out and you're half way there.

Now that we finally have a garden, it was time we got around to checking it out for ourselves. We only went with the idea of finding something colourful for our endless shady parts, but as you do, came away with a little more. Mainly in the veg department (hopefully get to show you my latest veg patch developments in a post soon!), but with the quality and the price, you couldn't really say no. We did learn that we need to invest in a garden cart and again because of the price, we'll just get all our plant veg from here once the 2016 growing season rolls around.

But it's not all about the flowers no matter how beautiful they are all on mass. There's live music, some awesome street food (we treated ourselves to an pulled pork sarnie each for an early lunch - yum) which I burnt off no doubt with all the digging and planting on our return home.

Even if you don't have a garden, just for all the colours, the sights and sounds, it's well worth popping through.

Monday, 18 May 2015

LIFE: Blossom Filled Zoo Trips

Detroit Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo Giraffe Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo
Detroit Zoo

Like I mentioned last week, part of Joe's birthday weekend involved a trip back to our local Detroit Zoo. A year late and we finally got our Detroit Zoo membership renewed. Better late then never they say. It's a pretty exciting time to be members again - construction of the new $29.5 million penguin exhibit is well under way (set up to open next year), work is also under way building a biodigestor turning 400 tonnes of manure into a methane rich gas. Not to mention the born of a giraffe last September and the Polar Bear exhibit was voted the second best zoo exhibit in the country by USA Today.

With the Red Panda hiding away in the trees, the big cats sunbathing to the tree kangaroo (second photograph) finally making an appearance it was nice able to walk around the zoo, see all the wildlife, the crowds, all the blossom of the trees to wildflowers. I noticed they even have a butterfly garden I need to poke the next time.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of our regular zoo visits that's for sure.

Friday, 15 May 2015

CREATIVE: A Garden Party Stitch Along #4


With April passing us by, I'm a third way through the year of joining in with the stitch along with Cross Stitch Magazine.

Bar some of the backstitching, most of the first two (middle section pieces) are complete - yey. So we can finally see the house and a couple of the guests. The chart has be now moving to the left of the page where some more guests, some servants and children feature. 


I've been aiming to complete half a page every month (which doesn't sound a lot but there's a lot of detail going on) and luckily I'm a bit ahead of schedule which has given me the chance to focus on some smaller projects like the Pennsylvania blackwork and my London scene. Working on such a large design has been a bit of a challenge, sometimes I think of all the other designs I could be stitching with all the time it's taking, but then I see it and I love how it's all coming together.

Although saying that I really need to redo the lips of the lady in the blue dress, she's got some really bad trout pout going on ...

Anyway ...

The design still remains the biggest and most challenging cross stitch design I've ever worked one and even with twenty years of stitching under my belt I think it's helping me learn to be a better stitcher. My stitches I've noticed have become a lot neater, I'm becoming even more careful about having a neat reverse side, the importance of balancing time with this, life and other projects, battling the guilt when I'm not working on this and working on other cross stitchy things ...

Progress - January, February, March through April 2015

I'd love to hear what you've been working on, crafty or otherwise!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

SNAPSHOTS: A Birthday Weekend

Fair Funnel Fair Duck Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo Detroit Zoo Zoo

All you can eat sushi, The Avengers, zoo trips, an evening at the fun fair and a visit from the nephews and niece was how we spent our weekend celebrating Joe's 30th birthday. Funnel Cake (mmm) coated in a thick confectionery sugar layer with the most deliciously squeezed lemonade with a gorgeous rainbow covering Detroit's sky was how we finished Saturday. A day spent with the kids raiding Uncle Joe's Transformers collection and completing on his video games. After a dinner of Coney Dogs, a trip (our first in over a year) to the zoo to not only renew our membership (more on this to come) but to see the blossom, watch the butterflies fluttering around and try to seek out the Polar Bear. And while it's fun being an auntie, they sure tire you out, that iced tea cocktail in a bath on Sunday night felt very well deserved. 

How was your weekend?