Monday, 28 March 2016

LIFE: Photo an Hour March 2016

If you didn't think the year was flying by already, well it's rolled around to another Photo an Hour Link up, to remind you just how quickly the months are passing us by. Sundays are typically our lazy days, we may pretend to be adults and get dressed, poke some DIY, do the weekly shop. This week we were enchanted by the blue skies and headed to the zoo for a wander and then flopped back on the sofa and went back to being lazy.

Sunday began with a late start to the day (10am) the usual coffee, cereals and catching up on a couple of pages of my new read - The Witches, which as you probably might have guessed is all about the Salem Witch Trails of 1692. Then I finally got around to opening up the Easter package from the homeland - some yummy looking Harry Hopalot chocolate figures from Thorntons.

I lost track of time when we were actually at the Detroit Zoo when it came to live updating, but hey I was having too much fun. With blue skies and warm temp, it was a perfect day to visit, loads of animals were up and playing around, especially fun to watch the young Chimpanzee's climbing and jumping off rocks and rolling down hills.

Fun for hobby time - cross stitching a Michael Powell design titled Garden Shed that will eventually end up upon a birthday card, and of course coloring in one of my favorite books - Unicorns Are Jerks. Because Unicorns fart in elevators, on purpose, if you didn't know.

5pm was time for tea! Some yummy homemade egg fried rice with lots of veg and crab. Then watching Windows decide it wanted to update. Had I know this earlier, this would probably have been achieved hours earlier. Yawn.

Then we ended the day, well more like 7pm (because my phone was dying) at failing to do our workout. Failing because we were still too knackered and achy from doing two cardio/core workouts on Saturday. We tried. That's the important thing right?!

So that was pretty much our Sunday. If you like random stuff like this, tag along on Instagram, where I try and post more of the same, random shit! 

How was your Sunday?


Monday, 21 March 2016

LIFE: That Time a Brit Went to the Supercross

Saturday saw the Monster Energy Supercross come to Detroit which some of Joe's family came to see (and brought us tickets) to tag along and watch at Ford Field. Personally,  while I'm a country girl, the only time I can stand dirt under my nails is when I'm working in the garden. Country sports, like anything involving motorbikes is not really my thing, but I tagged along, and anytime I can try and squeeze a blog post about something oh so American, then why the hell not share my random British thoughts.

Random thoughts like - why do they play the American national anthem at every sports event?! (not something we really do, or would probably care to do in the UK). Why do they then try and turn said anthem into a pop song?! Why is everyone at this event, so very white?! I came to the conclusion early enough into it that I'm not really hillbilly, countryside enough for such things. I'm happy to wallow in suburban excess, happily. 

But anyway, AMA Supercross is an American motorcycle racing held between January and May in various venues (typically baseball and football stadiums). Founded in 1974, Supercross is an offshoot of Motocross - the difference being Supercross uses off road bikes on man made tracks with jumps, obstacles and tight turns (Motocross using natural terrains on closed courses). When the championship hits Detroit, it finds it's home at the Lion's Ford Field and becomes one of the few venues were the track layout runs into the stands. Various pre-races make up the afternoon and main event - various sizes of bike engine, even a kids race. You have the Monster Energy ladies with hardy anything on waving heat and time signs around and races that last up to 20 laps. 

I guess it was a different way to spend a Saturday night. I did get to cheer on a Brit in one race who was propping up the back, sigh. It was fun being inside Ford Field for the first time. Getting another sports team plastic cup to add to my every growing collection (alongside my Sparty and Harlem Globetrotter ones). Indoor fireworks and fireballs are always fun. Constantly coughing because of the smell of petrol/gas, feeling very small and anxious as 46k plus people are leaving, overpriced downtown Detroit parking spaces, not so much. 

While I'm coming more to grips and understanding American sports. I think I would have preferred watching the Lions getting their ass handed to them, or anything March Madness related. Guess I've left my countryside ways long ago.

How about you? A fan of Supercross?


Thursday, 17 March 2016

LIFE: Small Things #12

With the clocks jumping an hour forward last Sunday here in the US, there's a extra sense of spring in the air. The days are getting warmer and longer, bulbs are popping up everywhere and more and more birds are chirping and fluttering in to garden for a nosy. Oncoming spring also means the arrival of annoying weather like three hour long thunderstorm early Wednesday morning, I always forgot how hideously loud the bangs and booms are in Michigan. 

The promise of spring has created a little bit of inner peace within myself. This week in particular I feel I might be getting somewhere with my stress and there's lots of plan making to be doing. 

So without further-ado, here's an assortment in no particular order (order being overrated) of random small, but happy things.
  • Getting my Brit fix while popping to the store that has a decent British international section - this trip calling for Wetabix and salad cream. And no, sadly to everyone who thought I ate them together when I shared this on instagram, I don't. 
  • Talking about British food, those scotch eggs from One Eyed Betty's.
  • Finding Tubi TV on our Roku which has a sizable collection of British shows, even ones more recent then Netflix. Even better it's FREE!
  • Said Tubi TV also has a couple of Transformer shows on which makes the OH happy.
  • Speaking of TV, the second seasons of Happy Valley and Dinotrux popping up on Netflix - happy TV days indeed. 
  • Reading - Midnight in Perking and The Other Daughter. 
  • Starting out new tradition of (homemade) taco Tuesday, even making my own guacamole and taco sauce (playing with all the spices!!) for the first time. 
  • Talking of spices, turning an old spice rack into a nail polish holder. Sometimes those Pinterest craft ideas actually work.
  • Lots of spring bulbs popping up around my garden - tulips, daffodils and flowering crocuses. Especially excited for the bulbs showing in the two new flower beds I dug lining out front path last year. 
  • Cuddles on the sofa with Joe and Eddy - purrs all round.
  • Cats and paper bags, which are nearly as good as empty boxes. Also getting an empty box and now not being able to remove it from the living room because the cats love it.
  • Onto god knows what week of using Daily Burns True Beginner workout (for everyone who has asked, I will be doing a review/round up once we finish this program) and getting a lot stronger. We started kickboxing which week and it's AWESOME!
  • Also starting Pilates, which ached and killed me, but fun all the same. 
  • Finishing my crochet wreath! 
  • Ordering lots of seeds for the garden - herbs, flowers and even going to attempt to grow cacti!
  • 1940's radio. I'm sick of constant Trump & US election talk on the radio, so I spend most mornings chilling out to the 1940's UK radio station, which suits me perfectly. 

And everything I came remember, and if you made it to the end of the list, well congrats to you!

What's been rocking your world?


Thursday, 10 March 2016

FOOD: Hold On The Brits are Coming ... With Their Scotch Eggs

Think about stereotypical British food and scotch eggs may top your list, or at least come close, perhaps alongside pork pies, fish n chips, sausages rolls and even mushy peas. Surprisingly, scotch eggs are making a fast experience in pubs and eateries in Metro Detroit of all places outside of your British themed pubs. 

I have to be honest here, from leaving the UK to this March, I haven't eaten a scotch egg (or sausage rolls, bakewell tart .... it's an endless list). Hearing about the tend, reading all the restaurant reviews, well it was making this Brit hungry. 

But what on earth is a scotch egg I hear you non British folk cry?! Well take a boiled egg, wrap it in sausage meat and breadcrumbs, fry away and there you go. One scotch egg. Typically us British eat it as is hot or cold. It's often considered a picnic food, a snack or have with your lunch. Here in the US it's appearing more and more on menu's as an appetizer, a snack to have with your beer often served hot with a dipping sauce - think ranch, a hot sauce or mustard.

While the history of the scotch egg is a little up in the air - no ones really too sure of it's origins. Fortnum & Mason, the London department store happen to lay claim to them having invented them back in 1738. Others argue they have a more Indian cuisine background. Either way the British have laid claim to them and we just love to eat them.

Scotch eggs have become so much of a popular, perhaps we could say hipster food that Eater dedicated an entire list to finding them in Metro Detroit. One such place was One Eyed Betty's - a gastopub with lots, and lots of beers, pinball machines and as it happens awesome tasting food - including their scotch eggs - yippie! (they even have crispy Brussel sprouts as an appetizer too - apparently loving their random British foods). Served with a hot sauce, they were everything I could have wanted and hoped a scotch egg could be, and more.

Whether this is a growing tend across the US, who's to say? Maybe it's because they are a kinda quirky hand food, great to share, easily eaten and enjoyed with a beer and kinda like an all day breakfast food. I've personally seen them pop up on a menu while eating at the British (no surprise there) themed Piper's Pub in Pittsburgh, PA. Back in January 2014 the Chicago Tribune published a piece on the scotch eggs increasing menu presence with the rise of the small plate restaurant. But I'm just happy they're more readily available on my doorstep.

So I guess alongside my adventures in hunting out fish n chips, I have another British food stuff to eat, enjoy and as always, compare.

Any excuse for eating out ... any excuse ...
Places mentioned:

One Eyed Betty's: 175 W. Troy St, Ferndale, MI, 48220
Piper's Pub: 1828 E. Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203


Monday, 7 March 2016

CREATIVE: Getting My Craft On

The last couple of weeks has been met with a super urge to be rather crafty and get my hands messy. Be it playing around with lots of thread, paper, rooting through tins of vintage buttons to daydreaming about a whole variety of projects. If you follow me on Instagram you might already be aware of the million and one crafty projects I seem to have on the go at any one time (and perhaps be sick of me sharing them) but for those of you who haven't noticed them, or wanted more information, I thought it would be fun to do a little round up and see how I get along over the year ahead.

So we'll start with crocheting!

The last week has actually seen me picking up a crochet hook for the first time in a good couple of months. I go through fits and starts when it comes to crocheting, I don't really find that there is a lot that I want to do with this craft but when that urge comes along, I gotta roll with it.

My mam always loves to mail me vintage crochet patterns of doilies, table cloths and random house decor that was popular, I'm just a sucker for collecting all the patterns I will be honest because I have nightmares of them being thrown away and lost forever. That and I'm just a sucker.

Anyway ... knowing I have a pile of old crochet thread collected from estate sales, I thought I'd get around to getting back to crocheting some doilies. I guess you might have to have a vintage heart to still find a love and or need for doilies like I use them, but with all the vintage odds and ends we have around our house, they suit everything just swell. 

So I'm working on a small mat from a dressing set, it'll be about 12" in diameter once completed (pictured above) and comes from what appears to be a 1950's Penelope pattern booklet called Household Crochet.

Rolling with the crocheting urge, a crochet flower wreath has been on my must make list for far too many years to think about. I finally picked up a couple of unused Styrofoam wreaths at an estate sale last year and well, it was time to get cracking. Using this pattern from Red Heart, everything is just made up of a collection of different flowers, different colored yarns and vintage buttons. All second hand, all being reused which I love!

As for the cross stitching, that's going as well as ever. I've started rotating my projects, working on each for a week at a time to make sure non of them are getting neglected, which I'm guilty of doing when I get my head set on a piece that I'm really enjoying.

So I'm working on Flossie, a design from The Heart's Content. I don't normally tend to fall for stitching people even though such designs are rather popular in the stitching world. But Flossie always looked a fun piece, she's on the time consuming side with all the dress details, but I love how she's turning out. 

Taking me back to the seaside is my little harbor town piece that comes from issue 237 of Cross Stitch Collection. With mismatched houses, little fishing boats and smelly seagulls, every time I dig this piece out it takes me back to all the small fishing towns of North Yorkshire and everywhere else it could be around the UK coastline. Eventually it'll be hung up in our bathroom - once both are completed. Like Flossie, it's a slow piece to stitch, measuring 13" square there's a lot of detail going on, but it's cheerful and fun all the same. 

Finally I gave in and added a third main piece into my rotation - a UK sampler by Emma Congdon from issue 214 of World of Cross Stitching Magazine. Again another bright and cheerful piece that reminds me of the homeland. It's such a fun design to stitch, I'm aiming to change some pieces around, I don't particularly like the "love" plate so I might add in some Yorkshire roses or make some reference to East Yorkshire and the like but I'm still on the fence about what I might do, or if I will.

With my cross stitching bag parked next to the sofa, it's a constant reminder of all the projects I would love to get done. I'm aiming to stitch an anniversary design for the MIL, lots more birthday and Christmas cards, there's a Little Red Riding Hood piece I've been eyeing and a super colorful "it's a wonderful life" design I'm itching to start. 

As always, there's more projects then I'll ever have time for!

Have you been getting your craft on lately?


Thursday, 3 March 2016

LIFE: Small Things #11

They say March loves to come "in like a lion and out like a lamb" well it's pretty much living up to that saying this month in Michigan. From 60F weekends followed by snow emergencies, howling winds and back to blue skies, it's hard to keep up. In a funny comparison, recent snow showers in the old home land was being shared on Facebook of "lots of now", I think it barely measured an inch. Oh the perspective that moving to Michigan provided me when it comes to everything snow and winter. 

But that hint of something a little warmer, of those richer blue skies and the promise of bulbs popping up in the garden has got me feeling a little warm inside, and crafty, very crafty. So here's the latest small things pile of joy;
  • Everything hummus related - just pure joy in a pot
  • Managing three weeks of Daily Burn. Which for me is a big deal (it's an exercise work out thingy for those not in the know) because of my high laziness and stubbornness. While it's making me walk like John Wayne and ache in places I never knew I could ache, hopefully it's all doing some good. 
  • Getting lots of crafting in starting with making some card (birthday and mothers card), it always fun to mess around with paper, glue and washi tape.
  • Lots of new coloring books - apparently coloring book addiction is real. I'd highly recommend the Taste of Home Color magazine coloring book if you fancy something cheerful, cute and cheap (it's like $4.99 bargain!). 
  • I finally got my hands on two of Theo Nicole Lorenz's coloring books - Unicorns are Jerks and Dinosaurs at Work both highly humorous and quirky. I really need to add her Mer World Problems (think first world problems for mermaids) too. 
  • While many expats get food parcels, I get coloring books - yes another coloring book. This really fun book filled with vintage themed designs called Bygones. 
  • Reading some great books - Judy Blume's In The Unlikely Event, Boneyards (Richard Bak) and currently Midnight in Perking (Paul French).
  • Picking up a crochet hook for the first time in months and messing around with some vintage patterns.  
  • Productive tidying up organizing days (aka throwing stuff in lots of pretty boxes and making everything look tidy).
  • Starting a fabulously colorful new cross stitch project all about the homeland! 

So that's pretty much been my world, lots of crafting, coloring and good times.

How are things with you?