Thursday, 29 January 2015

CREATIVE: A Garden Party Stitch Along

It's not that I need an excuse to get creative with any cross stitch project especially when I have a dream list of things I want to stitch that's longer than my arm. But when Cross Stitch Collection magazine announced a stitch along project running throughout 2015, I thought why the hell not. One of my missions (I guess others would call it resolutions) for this year is to be more crafty and creative after all. 

The project - Garden Party is a free Edwardian scene and is not only the first stitch along I've taken part in but it's basically the largest project I have ever, ever worked on. Which I admit is as much scary as it is exciting. On 16ct the piece measures a good 7 x 26 inches with over 47,000 stitches. Ekkk.

It's also been a perfect excuse to shop from my stash - luckily I had a large enough piece of aida that after cleaning and bleaching came out perfectly and managed to grab a lot of shades from my stash of embroidery floss. Both of which - floss and aida I try and pick up at estate sales, so it cuts down on the price hugely which always helps in my book.


To mark joining in and stitching something so large, I'm going to try and document my monthly progress. I'm currently working on the middle third of the chart. I didn't have all the threads until a couple of weeks ago so for a while, it looked like a big pile of nothing, but now, it's slowly starting to take shape as I stitch in more of the figures. Below is my January check in photograph!


I've given myself the aim of complete half a page a month (there's six pages in all), maybe a little more. It doesn't sound a lot but there's a lot of stitching and colour changes.

If you yourself fancy joining in or finding out more, you can find the details over on the Cross Stitch Collection website.

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Monday, 26 January 2015

FOOD: M-Brew

Alongside my hunt for decent fish n chips across the USA I'm always on the look out for other American versions of British foods, Cornish pasties being a great example. Cornish miners brought the tradition of the pastie when they migrated to work in the mines of Michigan's Upper Peninsular and they are still working their way throughout the state. 

Joe came across a recommendation for M-Brew, an eatery in Ferndale that offers the traditional Michigan take on a said pasty. They actually specialize in local Michigan beers and food - all Michigan sourced. It's in an old converted VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) building and from the outside, just off of Woodward looks just like any other house on the street. Climb up to the wrap around porch and you enter to a homely cabin feel, a fireplace to bare wooden beams. Step through to a back basement you'll find a cave of vintage arcade games (think pac-mac), pinball machines (Family Guy, Wizard of Oz, Star Trek etc), dart boards to a shuffleboard. 


M-Brew has a coffee shop feel, the cosy seats in front of the fireplace, but a coffee shop that serves beer. Lots and lots of beer. 30 Michigan craft beers in fact to Michigan made wines, meads and sodas. To be honest it's a little all over the place, perhaps that's a good thing in this instance because it only does it make it fun, but because it can be what you want it to be at any one time. It's a place to grab a coffee and read, a place to play a couple of pin balls or somewhere to drink a couple of local beers and relax.

But to the important business, the pasties. The Bruce Crossing (a town in Michigan's UP) Pasty is crammed full of beef, rutabaga, potato, carrots and onion and can be served with gravy if that's you're thing. It's traditional to a T, even the way it's folded. Would it stand up in the UK? Most probably. Is it the best pasty I've had in Michigan (this being the third?! - the first being one from Cousin Jenny's Cornish Pasties in Traverse City which were pretty tasty) - why yes! 


We actually spent more time here then we would typically eating out, due to the games and pinball machines, the atmosphere is great, the staff are super friendly and having somewhere on the doorstep that serves Michigan made products - that's always a winner. We'll certainly be back, I have my eye on trying one of their Detroit pizzas next time!

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Fancy a pasty? You can find M-Brew at;
177 Vester St.
Ferndale, MI, 48220

Thursday, 22 January 2015

LIFE: Snow Days


A couple of years ago, my home town met with a thief. Someone was driving the eight or so miles from another town, filling their car with the salt straight out of the salt containers for the footpaths and driving off. Coming from a rural town where nothing much goes on, the newspapers went full stream and there was public outcry among the masses and huge debates about council provisions. 

At the time, for me it wasn't a big deal. But now wow I'm old before my time and turning into a bit of a nimby and I get annoyed when my neighbours don't shovel their snow. Back when we lived in our apartment, snow shoveling wasn't an issue, but now we own a house, we have to do it ourselves. You see, in the US most cities have some ordinance that any snow on the footpaths (yeah yeah I'm not calling them a sidewalk, I'm pretty stubborn with my English words) in front of, around your house have to be cleared within a certain time of snowfall, for our city, it's 24 hours. They threaten fines, but going by the lack of shoveling on some of hour neighbours parts, that doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent.

Ho hum.


Some people join the gym come the new year, but I'm finding snow shoveling to be a jolly good work out in itself. It takes half an hour and I have a smug smile on my face when it's all cleared. Properly cleared. As someone who skates and falls on her arse on those paths that haven't been cleared fully and then the snow melts and ices, I fully appreciate a cleared path.

Coldness and winters are relative. I remember my days waiting for the bus into York and thinking how freezing it was when it was 5C. Now 2C feels like a heatwave, a daily search on the weather websites hunting for the "high" of the week and hoping there's no snowfall and layers, it's all about the layers. Holly sums it up spot on in her ABC's of winter post, granted she's over the border in Ontario, Canada but for the most part, everything is pretty similar, what with Canada being over the river from me and all.


Those spring bulbs I planted, well they and the season they herald the arrival of, well they can't arrive soon enough I reckon.

How's your winter been?

Monday, 19 January 2015

LIFE: Photo an Hour Jan 2015

I was happy to hear that Louisa picked up the #photoanhour organizing baton for 2015 and it's a little mission of mine to hopefully take part in each monthly challenge throughout this coming year. This weekend marked our since Christmas of going out hitting some estate sales which, with the +2C "heatwave" (we've been stuck at -13C and colder for the last couple of weeks) it was a nice cure for the cabin fever of late.


 9am // starting the day right with a brew, i was actually aiming for an Earl Grey tea bag, turned out I picked a smokey tea. Took me about 5 minutes of drinking to realise this, well after Joe asking if I was drinking a smokey tea and I was like noooooo ... apparently I was after all. I guess I wasn't full awake. 

10am // driving to an estate sale we took I-75 which is basically a freeway to test your patience and humanity levels. Otherwise known as everyone forgets how to drive and does triple lane changes. But anyway we timed it well with seeing a train passing overhead, which being a train geek I am, is always a welcome sight (we can actually hear trains honking from our house - doubly awesome). 


11 am// third photograph of my day hit while we were at our second estate sale and sadly I couldn't take any fancy photographs of the mountain of tupperware in the basement, this old piano would do.

12 pm // prior to this estate sales were kinda lacking on the score front - actually this next estate sale where we found all these vintage cookbooks was the only decent one. Not only did we find a load of cookbooks but also a load of vintage crochet and cross stitch stuff too.


2 pm // quickly glossing over the fact I forgot about the 1pm photograph, well carry on. On the way home we popped into our favorite local liquor store and did some stocking up - some gin, vodka and rum. Stereotypical packaged in a brown paper bag.

3 pm // after getting home, sorting out a vinyl we found today. Boney M will probably go over most people's head but they were a German pop group of the 1980's. They are one of my first vinyl memories growing up as a kid, my dad pretty much had all their records and I always loved playing them. They actually weren't big in America - so it's probably quite a score coming across it, although their recording of Mary's Boy Child that gets played over the festive period that they became more known.


4 pm // I love pouring through cookbooks old and new for some new inspiration, we picked up these at the estate sale I mentioned before. A girl can never have too many cookbooks I reckon.

5 pm // It was still feeling a little spring like as 5pm rolled by and we were buying a parking ticket in Ferndale, the sky was looking rather pretty too.


6 pm // so the reason why we popped over to Ferndale was to try M-Brew - a little local cafe that specialises in Michigan made products - from food to drink (as seen in the photograph enjoying a local beer), while it has a cafe feel upstairs, down in the back basement they have a collection of vintage arcade and some pinball machines. I'm hoping to get around to talking about it more in a future post.

7 pm // home and my plans for the evening - netflix, the internets and a glass of whiskey.

So that was my Saturday, how was yours?!