Monday, 31 August 2015

LIFE: Photo an Hour, August 2015

Another photo of an hour join up for 2015 has just rolled around. You might have caught me sharing my Saturday if you follow me over on twitter or Instagram. The day was pretty unplanned, uneventful and I was somewhat in a grumpy mood for whatever reason, but here's my day either way.


9 am // starting the day poking around my veg patch - checking to see if my brocolli seedlings planted out earlier in the week were still alive (they are yey), picking some hot peppers (double yey), the norm.

10 am // from poking veg patches to poking estate sales, shifting through old boxes of someone's old, unwanted family photographs


11 am // driving under the hazy skies of Detroit, colder more like October days earlier in the week merging with more normal August conditions means crazy humid hazy skies 

12 pm // popped into Target, new shoes, new bed sheets and new notebooks. Happy times.


1 pm // the weekend always calls for bacon, for lunch a yummy BLT.

2 pm // took a drive to get some more of the weekly shopping chores done, getting stuck in traffic and hitting all the red lights.


4 pm // (missed 3 pm shopping oops) on a whim Joe brought some scratch cards, I lost, he made up the $5 spent on them.

5 pm // tea made up of warmed up leftovers from the night before. Classy.


6 pm // finishing off the final rows of stitching on Mr Dinobot cross stitch - eventually I'll get around to explaining the whole piece once I get it framed and photographed.

7 pm // final book of my library haul is due back this week, better get it finished!

So that was pretty much my day, how was your Saturday?

Friday, 28 August 2015

LIFE: Small Things

small things

The death of my netbook while upgrading itself to Windows 10 (it decided to do said upgrade just as they released an update that messed up and makes it just constantly start rebooting) perhaps casts a shadow of this weeks small things, it's certainly put blogging on the back burner a little. But hey, it's letting me crack on with the gardening and crafting. 

But on the up side;
  • Checking out more tasty eating places down in Hamtramck - this time Aladdin Sweets & Cafe - the cities first Bangladesh restaurant. 
  • Dutch Girl Donuts - enough said.
  • Picking the last of the cilantro seeds, one of my kitchen is full to bust with row after row of paper bags of seeds drying out.
  • Planting out the first of the fall crops - lots of little broccoli seedlings.
  • Getting a new (to me bike) and feeling like a big kid biking around the block.
  • Designing and stitching two of my own cross stitch pieces - a Detroit cityscape (more on this to come) and a gift for some friends buying their first house. Really loving designing my own charts, it's taking cross stitching to a fun new level for me.
  • Speaking of crafting, for the first time in months, picking up a crochet hook and starting a Christmas tree skirt. Fingers crossed it'll be completed in time for Christmas 2015, it's not stitching up quickly.
  • After a whole lotta waiting, lack of communication and even more waiting, our hand selected by Anthrax bottle of Knob Creek finally turned up. Mighty tasty too. 
How's things with you?

Monday, 24 August 2015

VINTAGE: The One Golden Arch of McDonalds


America is a great place if, you're like me and love nosing out of the car window at random business and road signs. Neon, huge, spinning, flashing, America has them all. When some of them are on your doorstep you take them a little bit for granted, and I thought it was high time I got around to working out why two of the local McDonald's restaurants signs only had one of the arches in their signs. Plus they look rather vintage - double winner. I got a couple of questions about why the single arch was used when I shared the above photograph across social media, so I thought, why not blog about it. Why not indeed.

To back up a little, the golden arches we associate today with the fast food chain is known globally. But that hasn't always been the case. in 1948, eight years after brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened their barbecue resturant, the Speedee character was launched, a character reflecting the Speedee Service System of their production line principles. He was later replaced with Ronald McDonald. Sadly signs featuring Speedee are even harder to find than the single arch, but you can stumble across one in the automotive section of The Henry Ford Museum over in Dearborn (shown below).

So between Speedee and the golden arches during one short interval in 1962, the single arch came about, many featuring a crest design upon the red advertising space. Here in Metro Detroit we are rather spoiled in being home to two (one in St Clair Shoes - pictured, and Warren) of the few remaining. This modernist transitional sign is own back lit (very popular in post World War II USA) and constructed of plastic panels upon a metal frame with the red advertising space midway. 

Sadly with McDonald's popularity, growth, redevelopment, finding early signs is growing increasingly tricky with some suggestions of only around 11* still used for their original advertising intentions, the majority lost to scrap yards or incorporated into private collections.

So there you have it, a little bit of history about that infamous branding you might just happen to pass every day.

* The 11 "known" single crested arches can be found in Lancaster, PA, Magnolia, NJ, Green Bay, WI, St Clair Shores and Warren, MI, Huntsville, AL, Independence, MO, Winter Haven, FL, Velleville, IL, Muncie, IN and Pine Bluff, AK.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Point Park Point Park

If you're ever in Pittsburgh and fancy grabbing some fresh air among great history, you'll do well to head towards Point State Park, or if you're down with the locals, the Point. Located at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers which go onto form the Ohio River - you'll find the outlines of two of Pittsburgh's oldest buildings, the oldest building still standing, some gorgeous views of the city and a lot of old British (and French, Native American and colonial American) history.

Before redevelopment during the 1950's the Point was the hub for industry and transportation particularly in the 1930's. Warehouses, railroad yards and two bridges intersected the area. But the Great Depression and World War 2 resulted in an area heavily blighted. Through the war years local authorities set out to redevelop the site. While plans for a civic center fell through, the area was turned into a park which opened in 1974. A park fully noting it's recreational and historical importance. 

Point Park

You could get knee deep in the historical details of Point Park, but I'll try and keep it short. The confluence of the Ohio river was the center for river based travel, trade and ultimately war for the British and France. With France constructing three forts within Western Pennsylvania by 1753 the Governor of Virginia sent a young George Washington to instruct the French to halt construction on their territory. Rightly or wrongly the French refused to stop on what they considered to be their land. Virginia's response at the start of 1754 was to build a small fort at the Point called Fort Prince George. But due to the advancing French army, building stopped and they surrendered in April 1754.

Point Park

On their arrival the French built Fort Duquesne (pronounced du-kein) to oversea the forks of the Ohio River, yet the British tried twice to regain control. With the sounding of the French and Indian War (part of the wider Seven Years war), it wasn't until 1758 that the Brits made another attempt. William Pitt, the British Sectary of State outlined a three pronged attack upon the French including the capture of Fort Duquesne. Knowing they were outnumbered, days before the arrival of the British, the French burnt and fled the fort.

Point Park

Now under British control, plans were made to build not only the largest, but the most elaborate fort in North America. Completed in 1761, the Fort was named for the aforementioned William Pitt by British Army Officer John Forbes. Moreover - the area became known as the Point and it's wider surroundings, Pittsburgh.

Point Park

For a Fort it had a relatively peaceful existence witnessing only one attack - a siege by Native American Indians as part of Pontiac's War in 1768. Yet by 1772 the fort was falling into disrepair - no longer fit for purpose and flood damaged. Decommissioned and sold to save money and to help strengthen relations with Native Americans it did became the Continental Army's headquarters during the American Revolution. Still by 1792 it's official Fort life came to an end - replaced by a new and smaller Fort Lafayette further upstream. Sold off piece by piece, by 1854 all that remained was the Fort Pitt Block House (below) the tale of which I'll be sharing in more detail in another post.

Point Park

Today the Fort Pitt Museum which I'm hoping to wander around on another visit, explores the history and role of the region making of not only Pittsburgh but American history and within the part itself the outlines of the forts are both marked in the grass with paved footpaths. It's actually surprising to see just how small the forts were and always interesting to see the location of not only American but British history to boot.

Point Park

At the furthest tip of the Point you'll find a huge fountain one that sprays water over 46 meters into the air (somewhat weather dependent I hear). It's located at the intersection of those two bridges I mentioned and now offers the visitor an outstanding backdrop to look back at downtown, out along the Ohio River to the north shore attractions like the Carnegie Science Center and Heinz Field. It's also often the home of a festively huge Christmas tree once that season arrives.

Point Park

We were saying as we wandered back to catch the T how if we ever happen to have a spare $300 dollars for a one night stay, we'd book ourselves into the Hotel Wyndham (that huge yellow building) for a room with a river view. One day, one day.

Fancy some fresh air & history? 
You'll find Point State Park at the intersection of Commonwealth Pl and Liberty Ave in down town Pittsburgh. 
Entry to the park is free. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

DETROIT: University District

University District

I have to admit, I do love a poke around residence streets across America. The older the better. Maybe it's because of how you'll come across a variety of styles along any street, from English Tudor, Queen Anne, throw in a Georgian style neighbor and perhaps something more contemporary into the mix. Perhaps it's the mature trees lining the streets. Or the lack of fences and hedges that are all too common in England. 

You might remember my wander around Bay City's Central Avenue Historic District, which after having a drive to an estate sale over the weekend to Detroit's University District, I thought I'd do the same. Because a) pretty houses and b) they probably aren't the images of houses you have in your head when you think Detroit.

University District University District

Anyway ...

As you might have guessed, the area gets it's name from it's neighbor on it's southern most edge - University of Detroit Mercy (actually the university Joe attended) but it's also bordered by 7 mile, Palmer Park over to Livernois. Most of the district's housing stock was built during America's "golden age of housing" (1925 - 1930 & 1937 - 1941) - a period with lots of old world craftsmen, new building technologies and cheap supplies. Think large family homes of the owners, managers and partners of Detroit's businesses with four to six bedrooms, big basements, tiling, hardwood floors and you get the idea.

University District University District

I admit, I just love the style of the American home of this era I will be honest. I've been having major house and font yard envy over the above house in fact. Ignoring the old electrics, and plumbing and probably how cold they are, I wouldn't half mind living in one myself. But any house, like the one below with a turret is a winner in my book.
University District

Love a good turret!

Friday, 14 August 2015

LIFE: Small Things

Yesterday in particular has reminded me just how quickly time flies. Not only did Thursday mark ten years since receiving my A Level results (and then me leaving to go to university a couple of months later) but also five years since I first tried sushi. Because Joe was over on a visit. Little did I know what he'd start with me trying sushi. Favourite! Anyway, I broke the special things happening every five years on that date and just wandered to the Post Office which, wasn't very life changing. 

But otherwise, other small happy things!
  • Oreo frappes 
  • Joining the local library finally
  • Which lead to reading Amy Poehler's Yes Please! and loving every page
  • Drawing and redrawing ideas for a Detroit themed cross stitch piece again finally
  • Getting my DIY on - I'm waterproofing the basement ...  oh the glamour
  • Stocking up on 19c notebooks that I don't really need but hey, it's back to school time and they are cheap and ... yeah
  • Free listings on eBay, because I can never have enough of those
  • Nutella milkshakes from Steak n Shake - DELICIOUS! 
  • Being cat stalked
  • Stitching myself a new bookmark from a 25c kit I picked up at an estate sale the other week - new bookmark for a new book love
  • Having kitchen cupboards filled with paper bags in my attempt to dry coriander and sunflower seeds ... key word being attempting 
  • Peppermint tea - nom!

Happy things, happy list, what have been your happy things?

Also if you have any recommendations for quirky, funny, historical book - fiction or otherwise, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

FOOD: Amar Pizza


There are three food stuffs I really love. Pizza. Indian curries. Spice. Throw them all together and I'm in food heaven. And thus, I've found my new favorite pizza - the tandoori chicken pizza, and well the rest of the pizzas at Amar Pizza are pretty awesome tasting too.  

Amar Pizza is a place that makes you rethink what you know about pizza. It's a place that will get you trying new things, new flavours, new flavours together, possibly even pushing your limit. It's friendly. It's local (to me at least). It's independent. It's cheap. It's a winner on all counts. 

Seafood Pizza 
If you enjoy your Travel Channel food shows, you might have even caught this pizza place on Andrew Zimmerman's Bizarre Foods when he passed by a couple of years ago. In fact it was Detroit's first ever appearance on the channel so there you go. I remember catching this place on one of the endless reruns they show, then promptly forgot about it - story of my life when it comes to places to eat in Detroit. So many that I forgot which ones to try. I think I need a list. But I digress.

So to the spice. Pizza's here tend to be on the medium and higher scale. But if you want to take things to the next level, you can order pizzas that make use of spicy fish and naga sauces and the ghost pepper. The ghost pepper, oh yes, one of the hottest pepper's in the world, one uncomfortably hot. It's so hot they don't actually put the pepper onto the pizza, it's mixed into the sauce instead. But fear not the menu is great at labelling the spice levels.

Tandoori Chicken Pizza

So what did we end up trying? Well the sweet & spicy tandoori chicken pizza and the seafood pizza which was made up of shrimp and crab meat (mmmm) with a deliciously hot Cajun crust. Lots of Cajun. Lots of mmmm's. Now we've finally got around to trying it out, there's all the rest of that menu to get around to trying!

View Larger Map  |  Get Directions  |  View Bird's Eye
Amar Pizza
11608 Conant St, Hamtramck, MI

Ever had a spicy pizza?!

Monday, 10 August 2015

VINTAGE: Smart Underthings, 1922

Recently I came across a stack of well loved and used vintage crochet pattern booklets mostly from the 1910's and 1920's. I pounced on them. They were only $1 each after all. There's a number of reasons why I love them - their colouring, their designs, they give a peek into the crafts of nearly 100 years ago, but it's what people wore and what people made. 

But they are far too beautiful not to share, so I'm lining up a couple of posts to let everyone get a quick glimpse inside their pages. First up is one from Clark's - this pattern book Smart Underthings - a collection of patterns for crocheted yokes, edgings for your nightgowns, camisoles and boudoir caps. Published in 1922 it has seen better days but hey it's 93 years old. Clark pattern books from this era have this gorgeous blue tint to their photography, and the ladies and patterns, well they are all just wonderful.

Smart Underthings Smart Underthings
Week-End Set For The Youthful Matron

Smart Underthings
The Sunflower Camisole // The Cosmos Camisole

Smart Underthings
Trousseau Set With Fine Crochet

Smart Underthings
Lazy-Daisy Step-In // The Marguerite Smock

Smart Underthings
Dainty Set For A Young Girl

Smart Underthings
Camisole With Star Banding // The Helene Camisole

Pretty huh and nearly too pretty just for the bedroom!

Friday, 7 August 2015

CREATIVE: Stitch The States


If you remember my blackwork state designs (Michigan and Pennsylvania), you'll already know I enjoy marking the American states I get around to visiting. And perhaps how slow I am at stitching them. I've seen various ideas around of cross stitching or embroidering countries, states, cities you visited and with a spare couple of hours free the other afternoon, I thought it was high time I got around to playing around with the idea. 


It's a funny little design because in reality, it may never be completed - completed being visiting all the US states and I'm actually okay with that. Because it's marking where I have been and it'll always be in progress.


Because I wanted the design to be hangable even though it's not "complete" it had to be visually appealing from the off, so the design started with back stitching in some fancy pink the outline of all the states. The internet is filled with maps so make the use of them, I used this map of the US that was actually all blocked into squares which made converting it into cross stitching really easy, but if you can always print out on squared paper. Then the rest is made up of stitching your visited states in whatever colour takes your fancy. 


As you can tell my visited states are rather Mid Western - Michigan (obvs), Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I know holiday road tripers probably cram more states in during a week than my seven in nearly four years, but hey bills and life. As for visiting and adding more, I'm not too sure when that'll happen, probably not until we save and undertake our dreamed Washington DC road trip and I'm sure a couple more states will get cross stitched in.


Do you do anything to mark the places you've visited?

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

PITTSBURGH: Dinosaurs Galore - Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Carnegie Museum

Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History is often ranked as one of the top five (or ten depending what survey you follow) Natural History Museums in the USA. With 20 galleries and over 22 million specimens, the museum is most well known for it's collection of dinosaurs. First making history in 1899 with the unearthing of Diplodcus Carnegli fossils, today the Carnegie includes the world's largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs and the third largest collection of mounted and displayed dino's in the USA. So if you love dinosaurs like Joe does, this has to be one of the places on your bucket list.  

Carnegie Museum Carnegie Museum Carnegie Museum

The Dinosaurs in Their Time was the exhibit we spent the most time wandering around. Arranged chronologically you get a great glimpse of not only the scale but of the environments and life (take the two battling T-Rex's as an example - image 2) these creatures lived in. As someone that really struggles to comprehend the scale and life of such creatures it's really eye opening and informative. Plus it's accessible to someone like me who's not as knowledgeable about dino's and even if you do, there's plenty to keep you interested.

With nearly 75% of the exhibits featuring actual fossils it's a great immerse display. Additionally through viewing windows you can watch palaeontologists working on prehistoric fossils - cleaning them up for display. 

Plus it constantly amazes me how dinosaurs are closely related to birds ... head blown. 

Carnegie Museum Carnegie Museum

Entering into the Hall of Fossil Mammals you'll come across everything from the evolution of the horse (image above the fish), to mammoths, giant sloths, the Irish Elk and fishes. It certainly opens your eyes to evolutionary change and of all the creatures no longer around. 

I have to be honest, we mainly visited so Joe could see the dinosaurs and mammal fossils but there's lot of other things to spark your interest. There's actually lots of taxidermy displays in the halls of American & African Wildlife but that's really not my thing (freaks me out a lot) so we quickly bypassed those. 

Carnegie Museum Carnegie Museum

If anthropology is more your cup of tea up on the higher levels you'll find three great exhibits based around Polar Life, Ancient Egypt and Native Americans. The latter I found the most interesting as it focuses on native American relationships with the natural world alongside arts & crafts but often presented within a local context of Pittsburgh. 

Carnegie Museum

It's well worth spending some time just taking in your surroundings while at the museum. The grand staircases to gorgeous paneling on the lifts, fabulous artwork and tiling, it's a beautiful building and as you enter you're greeted with fabulous pieces of contemporary artwork and fountains. Plus they do this really great thing of rather than printing tickets, you get a little tag as in the first image which you can slip around your wrist or get inventive, of which alongside your museum map your encouraged to hand in to recycle after your visit. Impressive. 

The Carnegie Natural History Museum is well, well worth the $19.95 charge each for entry (ticket cost gets you into both the natural history & art museum) and you could spend hours there. We certainly would have spent a lot longer wandering around if we hadn't worn ourselves out with walking the two days previous and driving hundreds of miles in the morning before arriving. Hey we're getting old. Sadly we missed out on the gem display and all the art galleries, both of which are on my visit list for next time.

Fancy feeling dwarfed by some dinosaurs for yourself? 
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, 15213

Do you like your natural history?!

PS. You can also revisit my post about my visit to the Carnegie Science Museum and it's model railroad back in November 2014.