Monday, 25 January 2016

FOOD: From Tarts to Tacos

Moving to America opened up an whole new world of cuisine, especially Mexican food. Whether it's cheap and cheerful fast food or authentic dishes from Mexicantown, Mexican food has found a special, and happy place in my stomach. 

We were looking for a new place to try out for date night and the idea of platters of tacos I admit was what won me over in trying out Ferndale's Imperial a fully serviced bar and all things Mexican restaurant.

To picture Imperial, think of California street tacos in a bar playing Johnny Cash.

It's bare bones, it's simple, it has a touch of rock n roll.

And tequila. Lots of tequila.

Hot dogs and tacos.

Up front you're greeted with a communal seating arrangement, with long wooden tables to share, make new friends and chat the night away. If a more private, darker feel is your jam there's the same but small wooden tables over looking the patio.

Food is presented family style - everyone's order on the same place adding to friend making atmosphere. Perfect too for a date night, perhaps a little awkward those not too comfortable with sharing their grub off of the same dish. 

While the menu is on the small side, what they do do, they do it well and also have separate menus for late night and brunch. The Sororan hotdogs (particularly the Bakersfield being my favorite bite of the night). While many may be put off paying for chips and any of the salsas they do, for around $2 - $5) they are well worth the pennies.

Detroit Tart (left) & Whiskey Sidecar Cocktails

In comparison to their food menu, they have an extensive drinks list particularly when it comes to beers and liquor. But with a great selection of $8 - $10 cocktails I was happy to try them out. And if tequila is your liquor of choice, you'll find some great picks. My favorite being the Detroit Tart - great in name and taste.

Imperial : 22828 Woodward Ave, Ferndale MI 48220 


Thursday, 21 January 2016

LIFE: Small Things

It certainly hasn't been a good couple of weeks for Michigan when it comes to the news what with the ongoing Flint water crisis and the Detroit Public Schools sick days. Winter has finally decided to make an appearance too - although much more on the chilly side than snow fall. So today, more than ever there's a need to look for the positive in life and the first small things post of 2016. 

  • Getting my new specs - I can see (better) again!
  • Speaking of new specs that means I can get back into sewing, although my return has been on the slow side. I've been working on a bookmark, stitching on perforated plastic for the first time which has been a fun little challenge.
  • The slowness of my stitching has been the result of being overloaded with coloring books. And treating myself to a couple of new ones. The Vive Le Color series is ideal if you love patterns and small details from around the world - I'm working on the Japan book at the moment, which is full of fish and cherry blossom - beautiful!
  • Then I happened to treat myself to the Dover "Cityscapes" publication, ooops.
  • Oh and then refinding a 1970's Beatrix Potter coloring book I picked up at the end of last year at an estate sale. It had never been started and it's just full of all my favorite characters. It's the one coloring book i'm not rushing with! 
  • Sharing some super yummy tacos and hot dogs from Imperial (review to follow).
  • Putting up some new shelving for my office come craft room - finally getting a little more organised in the process.
  • Then decorating the edges of said shelving with lots of pretty washi tape.  
  • Finding a fantastic cheese grater lamp shade in a kitchen down in Hamtramck while at an estate sale - genius! 
  • Those fish n chips from Scotty Simpson's - followed by a super yummy (and huge) slice of lemon meringue pie. Delicious!
BTW if you want to help Flint residents during this ongoing water crisis (long story short lead contaminated water) - Michigan Radio put together a great list of ways to donate

What's been rocking your world?


Monday, 18 January 2016

LIFE: Photo An Hour - January 2016

Saturday rolled around with no particular plans in mind. January is always a slow and cold month for estate sales, so we're rather hit and miss about them. But still, I'd be looking forward to joining in with the first Photo an Hour link up of 2016 with a plan of just seeing what fell into place.

Photo An Hour Photo An Hour

With no aforementioned plans, the morning started with a cup of coffee and finishing of a page in my Vive Le Color Japan coloring book - a particular favorite recent purchase of mine. An hour later by the time 10 am rolled around, I was adding in some more of the black background to my stitched bookmark I've been working on.

Photo An Hour Photo An Hour

With some not every water tight plans in the making, we decided once 11 am rolled around to have lunch early (a cheese toastie for me, a toasted sarnie for him) and a pile of tomatoes on the side. Noon actually saw us picking up Joe's first ever pair of glasses and an hour later we were back on the road traveling to Ikea, that magical place. 

Photo An Hour Photo An Hour

It's probably a good thing we don't live on the same side of the metro region that Ikea reside, because I'd probably be in there every other week. We planned to pick up some odds and ends and get an idea about some new cabinets for Joe's Transformer collection. Ended up buying a load of shelving for my office come craft room. 4pm marked a stop on the way back home to my favorite fish n chip - Scotty Simpson's in Brightmoor. This place happens to be the best fish n chip shop I've come across since moving to 'merica (see previous review here) nothing beats their fish n chips, even if the chips are on the skinny side. They also make the most delicious pies. Most people will probably avoid the place because of the area, but I love it there.

Photo An Hour Photo An Hour

5pm and back home saw me working on the jigsaw puzzle that is was putting together two lamps from Ikea, like seriously, is there nothing that can be just put together in two steps from that place?! All that yummy food though and being lazed out for the day left me on the sofa catching up with the internets happenings and watching Invader Zim, as you do.

Photo An Hour Photo An Hour

Trying out the Darth Vader comic book series while catching up on some episodes of Ghost in the Shell before popping into a very relaxing bath by 8pm with some whiskey on the rocks and a rather fizzy bath bomb. The rest of the evening was back on the sofa, curled up in pjs catching up on the Abominable Bride episode of Sherlock Holmes, with even more whiskey.

How was your weekend?!


Thursday, 14 January 2016

BOOKS: On Graphic Novels & My Top Reads in 2015

When the wind chill is -17C outside, there's nothing better then reaching for a good book to snuggle under a blanket with. More and more, i'm reaching for a graphic novel to read.

For me adding graphic novels into my reading was one of the best decisions of 2015. However it was also a bit daunting. Unless you really know where to look, recommendations for graphic novels aren't always the easiest to come across, and because there's so many to pick and choose from, it's a challenging to know where to begin. 

So I thought I'd share some graphic novels I found to be the most accessible in 2015, ones that are eye opening into the genre whether you've been reading graphic tales for years or want to reach out and pick that first book off of the shelf. 

In no particular order;

Ninoma by Noelle Stevenson

Based on the authors acclaimed webcomic, Ninoma follows the adventures of a subversive and impulsive shapshifter. Featuring dragons, girl power, science and people with awesome names, Ninoma befriends and becomes the sidekick of villian Lord Ballister Blackheart. Going on to cause a whole lotta trouble, Blackheart and Ninoma set out to prove to the kingdom Sir Amroisuis Goldenloin of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't as heroic as they make themselves out to be.

For every girl that wanted to be out fighting dragons, saving the world and dealing with secrets, Nimona is a lead protagonist that world of books really needs more of and she sure does kick some ass.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Based on Telgemeier's childhood experiences, Smile recounts her frequent trips to the dentist and everything it entailed from braces to surgery, headgear to retainers after tripping, falling and injuring her two front teeth in 6th grade. Throw into the mix the everyday dramas that come to make up the daily life of a teenage girl be it confusing boys of friendship fallout's and Smile is a funny read that will take you back to your own childhood.

While it's probably aimed for young teens/early adult readers I certainly still enjoyed and related to her experiences.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

Continuing our female lead graphic novels, IRL features Anda is a teen who just loves to play the multiplayer role-playing game Coarsegold Online. An online world Anda uses to relax, be herself and make friends across the globe. But after befriending a gold farmer (a character illegally collecting valuable objects) the avatar of a poor kid from China, Anda begins to question right and wrong and how such online matters became a lot more complicated when real life is also involved.

Combining friendship, gaming, female empowerment and poverty IRL is a great insight into the friendships of the gaming world.

Maus Vol I and II by Art Spiegleman

Comprising of two volumes, Maus documents the true story of a Jewish survivor of Nazi Europe through the words and art of his son, Art. Be it capturing life in Poland before WW2 and the struggles of coming to terms with being an Auschwitz survivor, Maus is a must read in understanding the personal toil and horrors of the war. Told in a world were Jews are mice, tormented by the Nazi cats, these two volumes are a masterpiece in their genre. They are touching, they make you think and they made me cry. 

Maus is an emotional read and a truly poignant story.

Saga (Vol I through V, ongoing) by Brian Vaughan 

Falling in love can be tricky at the best of times, but falling in love with someone on the opposite side during a galactic war might be pushing it. Saga through it's gorgeous artwork welds a sexy love story with fantasy and science fiction, telling the tale of a young family fighting to survive and find their way in the world as the universe fights around them.
Saga is possibly breaking the mold in becoming one of the graphic novels although it's really more of a comic tbh, to break into the mainstream - popping up on various blogs. It may come over a little weird at times, but it's well worth exploring. I'm two volumes into the tale and looking forward to getting around to reading the rest.

Persepolis Vol I & II by Marjane Satrapi

Fantastic autobiography capturing her Iranian childhood. Persepolis (vol I and II) explores the contradictions between home and public life during the Islamic Revolution (1979) and the Iranian war with Iraq. Persepolis is an eye opening and sometimes hard read, depicting the struggles and personal costs of fundamentalism, repression, war and politics through the eyes and laughter of a child. Vol II continues documenting the struggles of migrating and growing up away from the homeland and the attempt to create a sense of belonging - something I can certainly relate too.

Depicted through black & white cells, Persepolis captures a raw and honest look at growing up under repression and being an outsider in another country.

Because of accepting more of my inner nerd and throwing it out into the blog world, I'm hoping to get around each month to share some more interesting graphic novel based reads in hoping to spread the word about this awesome format.

Have any thoughts or recommendations?! Leave them in the comments!


Monday, 11 January 2016

SNAPSHOTS: The Detroit Industry Murals


Some of the most awe-inspiring pieces of artwork you'll ever see can be found within the Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA). Walking through the gallery you'll step inside a glass ceiling atrium - Rivera Court and be surrounded by four walls displaying 27 panels capturing Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals.  These murals completed between 1932 - 1933, are considered to be one of Rivera's most successful works and one of the best examples of Mexican mural art in the US. You might of heard of Rivera's wife too - the infamous Frida Kahlo.


Detroit Industry Mural captures the 1930's daily life of the Ford Motor Company downriver plant, River Rogue. The north and south walls show the plant workers, whereas the east and west walls which are inter-spaced by arches and doorways show the journey of life. But also of the manger overseeing everything alongside a worker. Both are given equal stature and status.


The equality Rivera prescribed to worker and manager reflects his Marxist ideals. He was an artist who believed art belonged both on and in public space rather then hidden away in private galleries. But it wasn't only his Marxist beliefs that caused controversy when this piece was revealed - people were shocked at the depiction of workers of all races working alongside one another to the nudes which were named pornographic rather then artistic, some even called it blasphemous.


I'm not sure the photographs capture just how huge and how incredible these murals are they are certainly worth spending time sitting and taking everything all in. It's even more incredible when you take note that it took Diego only 11 months to complete. NPR have a great little article and video showing Diego actually painting the mural, and of course you can see more full images of the work on the DIA website.


This is one of those pieces, one of those things in life that will sure make you feel small.

Friday, 8 January 2016

LIFE: Grab a Cuppa Tea, Lets Have a Catch Up

So before I jump into the deep end of back to somewhat normal blogging, I thought we'd just have an easy chit-chat about everything that happened since the last time I properly shared a post back at the start of December. Truth be told, nothing much, but enough to ramble on about for a short while so here goes.


Christmas was quiet which is just how we like it. We hacked the ham to pieces to fit it into the slow cooker (and used this yummy recipe) and had enough leftovers to feed a small army. In fact I still think there's some bourbon vanilla cranberry sauce kicking around in the far flung corners of the fridge. I did manage to sneak a quick pep at Detroit's Christmas tree down in Campus Martius, one day I'll wrap up enough to get up close and person with it. Although I didn't manage to grab a photograph of the tree this year, Detroit was looking all sparkly and festive.

Merry Christmas

Speaking of Christmas, the last stitching finish of 2015 - and the last piece of stitching I've done was a pretty "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas" from the 2013 (I think ...) edition of Cross Stitcher Magazine. I'm actually on a self imposed ban when it comes to cross stitching until I get my new glasses which is kinda hard.


So no stitching has led to lots of reading and lots of coloring in - mainly because they don't cause too much eye strain at least. In fact most of Christmas Day was spent coloring in. It's true what they say about coloring in being a great stress reliever, it's certainly helping me a lot. And when I haven't been coloring in, I've been reading - working my way through an endless library of Marvel comics and some great graphic novels I've come across or received for Christmas gifts.

I'm thinking of talking more about books on the old blog, particularly graphic novels, but honorable mentions for great reads since my last Small Things post go out to;  The Shocking Story of Helmuth Schmidt by Tobin GT. Buhk, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, El Deafo by Cece Bell, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, The Marvels by Brian Selznick, Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Saga v1 & 2 (that's all my library has at the moment boo) by Brian K. Vaughan.

Yeah I've read a few very good books lately - if you have any book recommendations leave them in the comments!

Michigan Radio

We became sustaining Michigan Radio members during the winter pledge week. To give a bit of background for non American's National Public Radio (NPR) stations predominately run on listener donations. Plus here it's so it's hard to find news sources in America that tend to not have political bias, and Michigan Radio does the job for me. So we became members, set up our monthly donations (which I urge you to support your own local NPR stations) and ended up with a huge bistro mug that holds enough coffee to bathe in.


December also saw us eating out at some new places to me at least (Social House - West Bloomfield and The Library in Novi) and a return to my favorite burger joint, well one of my favorite places in all of Detroit - the Mercury Bar down in Corktown. Because December seems to be all about eating and then eating some more. I also had a great cup of Mexican hot chocolate from Cafe Con Leche for a Christmas Eve treat down in Mexicantown, damn that stuff was tasty!

So that was my December for the most part. January is kicking itself off in it's chilly Michigan way and I'm excited to get back into blogging. 


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

BLOG: Mi Ave, an Introduction


You might have noticed things look a teeny tiny bit different around here. After thinking about the future of my blog for the last month or so, I thought the answer to get my spur back into the hobby might be to freshen things up, to dust the corners lets say. Dusting is dangerous however and led me to changing my name, and therefore changing the URL. 

2015 marked the 5th year of my blog, which previously had two other names, but always the same, and really long URL. While I wanted to make the jump to removing the blogspot, having being so indecisive and on and off with the hobby the last couple of months, I didn't want to make too many steps all at once.

But nevertheless, my blog, formally Dear Ms Leigh has a brand spanking new name - Mi Ave

Mi Ave?

Let me explain the name - in part it's a reference to my location, in part it's a play on words. The biggest part is that it lets me merge lots of things together under the same title and find away a little longer from having a defined "niche". So basically yes, mi is a silly play on the word my, ave, being short for avenue - think journey, think the streets and the adventures that life takes you along. But MI is also short for Michigan when you're mailing out your letters. Take MI and turn it into Michigan, add the Avenue and you get one of Detroit's historic roads (actually a road with some of my favorite eating joints but that's another tale). I get away with speaking about mi life, mi adventures, mi Michigan, mi Detroit. Oh it's endless. 


Looking ahead

So aside from fixing and finishing all the bits and pieces, and all those links that need updating, Mi Ave will be pretty much the same as before, as I mentioned the blog name lets me get away with lots of rambles. I may post a little less. I may post a some more about books. Probably throw more Detroit posts that I use to hold back. Who knows, I'm just going with the flow for now. 

On the side

I've been rather lazy when it comes to catching up, commenting, engaging with you all and you're own blogs. I'll be the first to admit that. Stress has been my big issue and blogging was making me stressed too, so I abandoned it in a ditch. I'm also struggling with my eye sight and my days involve far too much computer time as it is so I've had to limit my hours in front of a screen, but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things once I get my new glasses. 


To reflect all the new changes, I've hopefully got around to bringing (for the first time ever) all my social media under the same name(s) - MIAvenues upon Twitter and Instragram. Hopefully the moving y'all over on Bloglovin worked and I'm not just talking to myself.

So now I totally feel out of the loop with everyone's lives, feel free to update me in the comments because I'm a nosy bugger!