Friday, 31 July 2015

LIFE: The Small Things

Small Things

Wow two of these in two weeks, I'm spoiling you. That and I'm impressed I've remembered to do another one. There's hope for me yet. Plus it's another excuse to dump a load of random photographs in a pretty display. It's all about the visuals.

So 14 days and some happy things;
  • Doing the all American tradition of hiding from the crazy heat by going to the cinema and seeing both Ant Man and Amy Schumer's Trainwreck. Both are well worth watching. The latter just making my day and being so much better than I had hoped. Tears from all the laughing. Amy Schumer just gets it spot on. 
  • Tennessee Whisky Cake at TGI Friday's - enough said (kinda made up for the slow service and just okay entree). 
  • Scoring a new (to us) computer desk for $20 - one that doesn't rock, wobble, slide like the old one. Yey.
  • Finding an old blog post about my first ever visit to an estate sale back in March 2012, oh the fun we've had since doing them weekly! 
  • Marking six years of blogging - thanks for all the comments!
  • Messing around with a new phone camera app - complete with mirrors and leaky light features. I'm easily amused. But amused enough to ditch VSCO for Lidow. 
  • Vanilla cream drinks from Tim Hortons <3
  • Picking seeds from the cilantro plants in hope of turning it into some coriander powder for curry making. Fingers crossed!
  • Bulb catalogues for spring 2016 dropping in the mail box, not that I'm wishing time away but gimme all the flowers!
  • Self seeded sunflowers from bird seed - free flowers!
  • Studying this obsessively detailed map Emma found all about amazing places to visit on American roadtrips - any roadtrip that gives a mention to Michigan (which is most often missed off) is a winner in my book.  
  • Falling in love and adding far too many more cross stitch projects after coming across The Sunflower Diaries (great xstitch freebies if that's your thing).
 What's been rocking your world lately?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

OHIO: The Cincinnati Zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo fast became one of my favorite zoo's, and I've been to a far few over the years. Not only because of those penguins. But there's great natural exhibits, encounters, great landscaping and it's huge. And it's not just a zoo, it's also a botanical garden and, as a result, offers a beautiful blend of gardens and flowers as you wander around between the exhibits. Plus gives the animals that all important privacy if they want to keep away from the crowds.

Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo

From rain gardens, a green (low input plants) garden and a conifer garden to name but three, the flower borders are also filled with plants butterflies and pollinators love are bright and bold. My favorite, the Pollinator Garden is found on the main loop by you guessed it, the insect building. Borders are crammed full of nectar rich, long flowering plants and shrubs perfect for butterflies, bees to birds. If you're anything like me, a wannabe butterfly garden gardener, you'll leave with so many ideas and plant names.It's all certainly a great approach to landscaping and wildlife and I wish more places would follow suit.

Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo

The Cinci Zoo is rather historic too - opening in 1875 it remains America's second oldest zoo. While located in the heart of Cincinnati's Avondale district you'd be forgiven thinking you were miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life with how peaceful and green the zoo is.

Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo

It's home to over 1,800 animals over 500+ species. From the huge Elephant reserve, the new African exhibit (more on this to come) special night creature exhibits to gorillas and manatees, there is so much to see. We even managed to spot some baby flamingos which I have to admit, after the penguins came close to being a favorite. There's also a great mix of inside and outside exhibits, so if you're visiting on one of those hot summer days like we were, there's plenty of ways to cool off. 

While it might be a three and a half hour drive from Detroit, I think we'll certainly be popping back for another day trip, it's well worth a visit. 

View Larger Map  |  Get Directions  |  View Bird's Eye
 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens
3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, Ohio

Monday, 27 July 2015

CREATIVE: A Garden Party Stitch Along #6 & #7

Our late June roadtrip through me off course with sharing the updates on the old Cross Stitch Collection Garden Party Stitch Along. With feeling like I'm running out of things to say other than hey look more stitches, oh look I'm still avoided stitching the faces ... hate stitching faces, so here's June and July's update all in one post. 

I thought we'd take a step back and see how it was looking in May;

So June rolled around which involved a lot more stitching outside and soaking up that all important natural light. Apparently I got a lot of stitching done in June. Marvellous.


June also started becoming the month that I started avoiding stitching faces. It's not that I can't do them, I just have a strong dislike for stitching one stitch of one shade, then two of another because I find it a little wasteful. My biggest issue is with back stitching faces. Like I mentioned with trout pout in my last update. Yeah she still doesn't have her lips back ... or her eyes for that matter ... no cross stitching for her.


But as June rolled to an end with me being ill and our road trip so the stitching was actually set aside for a couple of weeks. I actually picked up working on a Dinobot Transformers piece for Joe and now being distracted by that old sampler project.


Knowing I had a stitch along check in a couple of weeks ago got my arse back into gear and I've been working on all the background pieces. So much that the last two figures on the left side are looking rather ghostly.


My goal for August is to finish off this last page on the left side and perhaps complete/catch up with the backstitching.


May through to July

Oh yeah and tackle those faces ... urgh.

Come share what you've been crafting lately!

Saturday, 25 July 2015



I'll be honest, I've started and stopped, deleted and retyped this post a couple of times. While I want to mark my little blog's sixth birthday, everything I had to say about blogging I shared last year alongside things we as bloggers shouldn't assume about our readers. Nothing much in my mind has changed, although I've taken a considerable step back when it comes to the promoting, sharing, engaging in twitter chats.

Somewhat of a blogging fail perhaps, but for me it's worked. My stats haven't really decreased. I'm enjoying blogging more than I have in a long time. There's less stress, less pressure to make it perfect, to be scheduling tweets out constantly. I don't have the time or the energy for curating that perfect look online or offline.

More then ever my blog is just a reflection of me.

An old lady with an aching back, gardening, crafting, collecting old stuff in a 28 year old's body.

Six years on any hobby is pretty neat. Until I remember I've been cross stitching 22 years but that's another story. Six years doing something so publicly, sharing so much, making many loyal readers that I call friends. 

From an attic bedroom in my student days back in Newcastle, England to being a homeowner in Detroit, USA. Life has changed a bit over the last six years. It's nice to have this place to reflect on it all.

So thank you, thank you to those of you that have ever read my rambles, shared a tweet, talked to me, come back time and time again.

Ta muchly. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

GREEN FINGERS: All the Garden Goodies

Once July rolled around - all the goodies started being ready for picking down in the veg patch. Bowls of raspberries, freshly picked herbs, cucumber plants taking over and the first attempt at carrot growing is all complete and food is being made. And you know what, even my wild patch along the fence edge (above) isn't looking too bad either. 

Since sowing them in April, I'd been eagerly awaiting being able to dig up my carrot crop. We went for the Kaleidoscope Mix from Burpee - a range of seeds that result in a rainbow of carrot colours. From red to purple, white, orange and yellow. Purple, yellow and white being the traditional carrot shades btw. They took about 80 days before getting set to be pulled but even then you can see some of them actually really on the thick or large size. They've been a little hit I will be honest, possibly half my fault for not thinning them out quick enough, but even still it wasn't a very large harvest and they took an age to germinate. All but the purple carrots keep their color throughout, they aren't as sweet as your typical carrots but tasty enough. I'm going with the standard orange "normal" carrots for my fall crop, I might try these colorful ones again for next spring.

Also I'd highly recommend keeping and cooking with your carrot tops - they are a great addition to stir fries, salads, sautee them with some garlic and you're all set. Somewhat bitter but very delicious. 

There is nothing as tasty as a freshly picked radish with your lunch. Nor do I ever find store brought ones come half way as strong. These were a super cheap packet from Burgess, I tend to sow about 15 radishes every over week to spread them out. These have come out so fat and juicy - delicious!

My tomato plants are leaning over and heavy with their bounty. Every day I go out and hope for a hint of red to their green outsides - they are slowly, so very slowly turning red. These are the mortgage lifter - a heirloom variety which are the juicy sweet large (they tend to way 1 to 3 lbs) types so we still have a bit of a way to go. But I can't wait to get my mouth around one!

Considering only five of the original 12 (yes really we over brought) cucumber plants grew I'm starting to wonder if I'm soon to turn into one of those green vegetables. They are seriously taking over my veg patch. I'm just not up on really what to do with them all ...

Zucchini's are averaging about one or two a week which are getting lovely tossed into whatever curry I'm cooking that week. I have a huge list of recipes I want to try so I'll be honest, I could do with them getting into second gear! Sadly the cilantro bolted while we were away so it's all gone to flower, I'm hoping I can try and get some coriander seeds from it so at least there's that. As for the basil - I've been making so many fresh basil chicken green curry. Nom indeed. 

As for those raspberries, well those are my favorite! The harvest has died down in the last week or so, but we were averaging about 2 cups a day. So lots of raspberry pies like the one you might have spied in my small things post, and sauces are being baked and I can't wait! 

For the rest of the season, well there's all those remaining radishes and spring greens, I'm still waiting on my peppers (which have just started growing) and then it's time to get thinking about fall and winter veggies! Exciting times still lie ahead.

Have you been growing anything this year?!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

OHIO: Penguins at the Cincinnati Zoo

Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo

With penguins being my favorite creature, I thought i'd start my posts about my visit to the Cincinnati Zoo with a post entirely dedicated to them. You'd think having a Penguinurium at the Detroit Zoo i'd have my fill of penguins, but with visiting the Cinci Zoo and the chance to see some different species you can never see too many. Any chance to see some penguins I haven't seem before, yeah i'm all over that. 

There are two chances to capture a glimpse of these birdie creatures at the Cincinnati Zoo. Inside the Wings of the World indoor exhibit you'll spy the gorgeous huge King Penguins as they splash around in their pool - it was actually great to see such a deep pool too. There is something very majestic about King Penguins swimming. But over in the Children's Zoo you'll find African Penguins and Little Penguins (also known as Fairy/Little Blue). 

Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo Cincinnati Zoo

Little Blue's - a name owing to their blue tinted plumage is the smallest of all penguins happen to live in a warmer climate than most penguins calling southern Australia and New Zealand home. And they are adorably cute as they sunbathed in the warm Ohio heat. 

The Children's Zoo is also where you'll come across the African Penguin and a certain character that wandered around the fence as if on patrol. This charmer of a penguin loved to follow you back and forth along the fence, it was rather funny to watch. I think he was making it his mission to safeguard the penguin flock.

Aren't they just the cutest?!

Monday, 20 July 2015

LIFE: Photo An Hour - July 2015

My head is forgetful enough on a Saturday morning to have missed out on June's photo an hour link up's with Jane and Louisa. Surprisingly enough I remembered to tag along with the challenge on Saturday. We actually had a lot more planned for the day, but SE Michigan went under a heat advisory and it was nastily hot outside. So here is what we got up to instead;

Photo an hour

9 am // checking over the first lot of stitches of that old printed counted cross stitch sampler in the daylight. My embroidery skills are still a work in progress but so far, so good.

10 am // Saturday morning always means fitting some estate sales so 10 am caught us driving around. With a heat advisory over the weekend, it was far too warm to drive around to too many, but the three we hit we did pretty well out of. 

Photo an hour

11 am // at the last sale we scored a huge cabinet of old Lego pieces for $15. After giving our nephews Joe's old Lego last year, we saw this and thought of them. But it the cabinet was incredibly dusty... 

12 pm // still cleaning the Lego, the story of today. Lego orgy was occurring. 

Photo an hour

1 pm // Taco Bell lunch fix - trying out the new bacon club ranch chalupa which was pretty tasty indeed 

2 & 3 pm // yet back on the Lego cleaning, well more refilling the drawers ...

Photo an hour

4 pm // finally time to poke through some of my other estate sale goodies - including this huge box filled with some more thread & accessories for cross stitching. Estate sales feed my stitching addiction for sure

5 pm // messing around with some of the old Transformers Joe found at the same estate sale that the Lego came from. We're both big kids around ours. 

Photo an hour
6 pm // pizza and wings time! 

7 pm // 33 degrees and blue skies and far too much humidity outside. I can deal with Michigan heat a lot lot better, but that humidity, urgh.

The rest of the night was themed around lots of Netflix, beer and hiding inside with the AC blasting.

How was your Saturday?

Friday, 17 July 2015

LIFE: The Small Things

While I've been thinking about restarting my small things posts for a long while. I never really get around to sitting and typing them out. Then things change and they get forgotten. But I've been having a rough couple of months with my health which is boosting my health anxiety/stress to new levels to I thought it was high time to use and type this out as a relaxing way of remembering happy things and distracting that over thinking mind of mine.

Cross Stitch

Old printed cross stitch designs

After my mam taught me how to cross stitch back when I was about 5/6, everyone use to buy me those old printed samplers on linen. They'd have some simple design, often a quote and you got to pick the colours. I found such an old Paragon design at an estate sale the other week and it brought back so many memories. I don't think I ever actually finished such a design in the past, I normally loose my patience with them because it was always so hard to get your stitches neat but i'm up for a new challenge. This one was half started, somewhat messy and half the stitches pointing in the wrong direction. After spending a couple of nights pulling it all out I'm off to dig out some folksy PA Dutch shades of thread and get started! 

Plus while i'm not a fan of quotes, it speaks a lot to me at the moment. Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you. 

In other cross stitch news - too many ideas, not enough time to stitch them all.

Soft Parade

Nothing better then a Michigan made beer, but a Michigan made beer fermented with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries is even better. Short's Soft Parade is delicious for this time of year.


Fresh from the garden

There's nothing more exciting at the moment then heading out into my vegetable patch every morning and coming back with a full bowl of raspberries, perhaps a cucumber or a zucchini and all the fresh herbs.


Home-made pie

Not only did I bake my first ever zucchini loaf, developed a love for eating carrot tops, but I've been busy baking all those raspberries into pies. With Michigan blueberries on offer the other week in Kroger, I throw some of those in too. The lattice topping needs work, but you don't need to look at that too long with how yummy it tastes.

Toaster Ovens ...

Not sure how I went about without one of these - it toasts, it bakes, it broils. It's magic. #EasilyPleased


My wild patch

From one free pack of wild flower seeds, the little wild patch along the edge of my veg patch has become one of my favorite places to go for a wander. There's so much colour. It's getting to that time of year to start thinking about plants for next year, there's certainly going to be more poppies around my garden.


With most of our shows on summer break, Hulu (and not having cable) has taken a back seat against Netflix. Murder She Wrote (seriously you don't want to know Jessica Fletcher she attracts death), NCIS, Property Brothers, CSI: Miami and Hotel Inspector alongside Parks & Rec and Rules of Engagement - yeap all over those.

As you can see, i'm old before my time and that's the way I like it. What little things have been rocking your world lately?

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

KENTUCKY: Newport Aquarium

Cincinnati // Newport Penguins

A Thursday morning downpour became the perfect excuse to pop over the Ohio River and visit the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. Located inside Newport on the Levee the aquarium is built right alongside the river and offers some great views of down town Cincinnati. 

Upside Down Jellyfish Aquarium

With 70 exhibits including the largest Jellyfish gallery (a huge hit with me - they memorize me and I could watch them for hours) in the Midwest, there's also 14 galleries and 5 seamless underwater tunnels. The aquarium takes you around the world with exhibits showing the creatures of the Amazon, to rain forests, otters, coral reefs to frogs, a great penguin exhibit and the huge Mighty Mike - America's largest American gator outside of Florida. He was HUGE. 

Shark Tank

After you weave yourself around the exhibits and all the children, you hop you an elevator to to the top of the shark tanks - one of the countries largest open air tanks. Up top you have the chance of traversing a rope "Shark Bridge" over nearly two dozen sharks alongside shark rays, sting rays and more than 300 fish as they swim beneath you. The 75 foot long shark bridge at the Newport Aquarium is the only one like it in North America. Constructed with more than 4 miles of rope, it's pretty sturdy and there's safety netting under which somewhat restricts your view of the tank below, so seeing those sharks is a little tricky, but a fun experience all the same. 

We sadly got around the whole aquarium a lot quicker than I had expected, even with all the crowds - summer, school trips and rainy weather does that to indoor places. But for $23 each, I was expecting a little more for what became just an hours visit - that and we were extremely spoiled when we visited the Shield Aquarium in Chicago. Still I left happy seeing jellyfish and penguins. 

Where's your favorite aquarium?   

Fancy a trip? You'll find the Newport Aquarium at;
Newport Aquarium
One Aquarium Way
Newport, KY, 41071