Thursday, 26 February 2015

EXPAT REVELATIONS: The Seasons

Weather and the seasons, that age old tradition that us Brits love, love, love to talk about. As you might have noticed, it does frequently feature on my blog. Which is why I enjoyed putting together this topic for the Expat Revelation series with Holly. I didn't consider the seasonal differences before moving here I will be honest. Maybe if I had, I would have been mentally prepared for the differences between South East Michigan and East Yorkshire. 

Michigan is both warmer (yey) and colder (boo) than Yorkshire. Average temperatures hit a high of 82F (28C) in July to a cold 17F (-8) in January. It seems in the last three plus years that America has been home, all averages have been smashed. Especially the average cold temperature, -8C would be a pretty warm seeing I've spent most of 2015 in -20C. Luckily, Michigan is a lot dryer than good old Yorkshire, not that that's at all surprising it does like to rain in Yorkshire. Less rain, more snow, I can't win. 

So let's start as we mean to go on with the season right out my window, winter:

Lake St Clair Weekend
PHOTO: NOAA via The Detroit News

Right now i'm covered under that super cold whiteness. Yes it's that cold and wintry.  

I have to admit, I have never seen as much as snow as I have until moving here. In winter you're guaranteed a good foot or four or snow throughout the season with -20C becoming the new norm this year. In fact in 2013 we hit about 100 inches in total of snow. Around here winter is measured by how much the Great Lakes freeze over. Currently that stands at nearly 85% of the Lakes being covered by ice. Which is pretty awesome when you consider the Great Lakes is home to 21% of the worlds fresh water by volume (ta wiki for that fact). Unlike the UK, Michigan doesn't grind to a halt and just gets on with it. Wearing four layers becomes the norm, -8C feels warm, and snow shoveling is a nice winter work out.

Downtown Detroit

Spring brings hazy days but not until late April and May. Temperatures are much like a warm British summer day. As  far as seasons go, it's pretty uneventful but lovely all the same. 

Sunset Ren Cen

Oh summer with your long hot days around the high 20's into the 30's (C). Still a little hot for this Brit to fully enjoy. Sometimes we get a tornado watch or warning when it's the season (late spring through early summer). Sometimes one passes through, although rarely. Long warm days lead to stormy nights. The thunder is eerily loud and threatening enough that it use to scare me the first year or so.

Fall Colours Michigan Cooke Dam Fall Colours Michigan

And what's the result of those warm spring days, lovely summers and a mild autumn with it's colder nights? A beautiful colorful colourful autumn finale. The fall colours Michigan has to offer because of it's seasons is one of the reasons I love calling the mitten home. Burnt oranges, to crisp reds and dazzling golden yellows, the Michigan landscape comes alive. By the end of October the trees are naked and Thanksgiving always rolls around with a snow shower or three.

We're lucky in Michigan that we actually get to enjoy all four seasons with their quirks and charms. According to all the seasonal information out there, Michigan is more cloudy than the norm. It's one of the affects of being surrounded by all the Great Lakes. Many leave the mitten and it's surrounding northern states for the warmer climes of the south to retire, it certainly tests what you're made of. But those fall colours, having those of your doorstep, that makes it all worth while in my book.

Blogger Tricks

Monday, 23 February 2015

LIFE: Photo An Hour Feb 2015

Saturday became a Saturday without any plans. By the time Friday was upon us, Joe was sick and the forecast was suggesting another 3" of snow. But no snow came, and Joe was feeling (somewhat) better, but like January's #photoanhour, estate sales were bleak and few & far between, so we were a meh about them all. In the end our day ended up revolving around one of our shared loves - records. 

PhotoAnHour

8 am // Saturday morning started like any other - snuggles and play time with teeny tiny (who actually turned four in the past week). Normally she has her butt up against the air vent in my craft room, then see's me and get's all "come and rub my tummy" but today she was all about owning a paper bag. 

9 am // After picking up a handful of cheap original 7" singles (think Johnny Cash, Michael Jackson, Motown) the week previous I decided it was high time I got around to decorating our single shelves in our record room

PhotoAnHour

10 am // Some people read, some people poke the internet, I cross stitch to pass the time while we worked out what we were going to do, or think about doing. This Transformers piece is one I've been working on since Christmas, I have a bit of a love hate relationship with it but the end is in sight.

11 am // Because bacon and egg sarnie. Need I say more?!

PhotoAnHour

12 pm // Getting out in the frozen tundra is an effort in itself with all the layers, boots, hats, and frozen snow, especially with it being -18C most of the week. Even Iceland has been warmer than Detroit. Brrrr. But I get cabin fever pretty bad so sometimes you just have to get out regardless.

1 pm // We ended up in Hamtramck. After coming across this Metro Times article about Detroit's best record stores and having not hit any for a while (plus we finally got our brand new turntable at the start of the week wup) we decided to hit Detroit Threads which is a mashed up mix of records (lots and lots of techno) mixed with vintage clothes and souvenir tees. 1 pm hit as we were making a chilly dash back to the car and this building caught my eye with it's old painted advertisement. Hamtramck is one of those places that is now firmly on my to explore list, with it's Polish heritage and now increasing Indian population, it's home to some great places to eat, or so I hear.

PhotoAnHour

2 pm // By now we'd explored Solo Records (super friendly) in Royal Oak and were leaving Found Sound (super hipster) in Ferndale with a bag of records in tow. Horrid Michigan winter grey skies for added gloom.

3 pm // New records means an afternoon listening to them. Like we need an excuse.

PhotoAnHour

4 pm // Finally got around to sorting out some threads and starting off those first stitches of a new cross stitch project. This'll end up as a group of daffodils i'm going to stuck upon and use for a greetings card, much like I did with the ones at Christmas. It's actually a free chart from DMC - yey.

5 pm // Weakness of living near a Taco Bell is that I can't turn down a trip, smothered burrito for tea it is then.

Photoanhour6

6 pm // Pretty much starting the evening as we intend to go on - a date with the remote for Netflix and Hulu (gotta love how our DVD player has a Netflix button, oh modern technology). Between watching South Park, anime and old X-Men cartoons it was a night of catching up with the Metro Times and blog reading.

7 pm // Oh and drinking whiskey, because that's how I roll. I tend to call it a day at this point, because I run out of ways of showing blog reading, TV watching and whiskey drinking.

I guess you could say Saturday summed me up pretty well - whiskey, records, cats, cross stitch, Detroitness and food. If that sparks your interest you can always follow my day to day going's on over on my instagram if you haven't been inflicted with it all ready!

So that was my Saturday, how was yours?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

BLOGGING: Don't Assume Your Blog Followers ...

Blog

There always seems to be a LOT of presumptions and assumptions thrown around and about blogging these days. That you need to blog a certain way, feature certain things, you have to be in it for the money. It often focuses on us, our blog, our writing, our style, but what about those that read your blog, those followers that come back time after time. Why are we making assumptions about those?!

Across the board it's time to stop the assumptions of finding this perfect reader we all seem to be after and remember why we started blogging and more often that not, just blog for ourselves.

So stop assuming that your blog readers;

Only use bloglovin
Please please please, I say this as a reader, link out your blog URL during a blog chat, not your bloglovin page. I'm pretty clued up and I'm sure if you're blog savvy you'll have a BL link on your page. While BL is really popular, it's not the only way to follow a blog, I know because it's not my preferred way (I only "follow" a blog on there because of the pressure of having to look like I follow your blog and so I can enter all your competitions - I actually use Feedly to read everything). Linking your BL link is just an extra annoying step for me, and my time is precious.

Want you to constantly talk blog
Obviously as a blog reader myself, if I have a liking for your blog I'm more than happy to follow you across different social media. Mainly because I'm nosy but I want to see what else goes on in your life - the things that you might not always get around to blogging about. But constantly talking blog all-the-time gets draining and I'll unclick. Throw a line out to your followers, engage with them, see what they get to too, it'll certainly help breach that reader - blogger bridge.

Are dumb
Regular readers are pretty wise, a hint of an undisclosed sponsored post can be smelt a mile off or a sudden 180 to constant PR posts. Integrity is a huge part of blogging, to me at least and regardless of how long you've being doing it for, you have to keep it real. So don't try and sneak out a sponsored post and pass it off like you didn't get something in return, your readers trust your words (or they should if they don't have any reason to doubt you) so respect them.

Are always following for the right reasons
Cynical to say but some "followers" may not be there for the right reasons, they might be fake, they might be just following and pay no attention to your blog and just hope you follow them back or because you wanted to reach a milestone and they are part of your follower quota. In other words, do things to make people follow you for the right reasons - you're approachable, your personality, your topics and just maybe because you let your blog grow organically over time.

Will always be happy
You can't please everyone in life so why expect to do so on your blog. You'll have readers that love some topics and hate others. Then you might have others that love every single thing you do, or they might just dig your photographs. Basically what I'm trying to say is that you can't make everyone happy with every single post (although if you do that's pretty awesome) so don't stress about trying too. Blog to make yourself happy - share the things that make you tick, that make you smile. 

Mind if you take a break
Life gets in the way of blogging at times, it's just a factor you have to deal with, but don't assume your readers need you to blog every single week if you can't handle it. If you can that's a high five to you, but sometimes we all burn out, we get bloggers block or you just go on holiday and you want to leave your blog standing for a while. It's fine to walk away for a week or two, most readers may not even notice because while we might love your blog, we're probably following far too many others to even note when one might not blog for a couple of days.

What do you wish people wouldn't amuse about blog readers?
What as a reader, do you wish more bloggers did or didn't do? I'd love to hear!

Monday, 16 February 2015

SNAPSHOTS: Hauntings & Afternoon Tea at The Whitney

Whitney Whitney Whitney Whitney Whitney

My snapshot posts have been in part, an excuse to redo some of the posts that I killed off when the images went dead. Our Valentines trip to The Whitney in Detroit, being one of them. The building is well worth talking about again, in fact I highly doubt I talked about it much the first time around being somewhat too worrisome to talk about Detroit on the blog because of stats (urgh). 

The David Whitney House stands proud as it did when first constructed between 1890 - 1984 for a mere $400,000 (approx $9.5 million in today's money). Named for David Whitney - a mightily wealthy lumber baron, then one of Michigan's richest inhabitants. Standing along Woodward Avenue, it's home to 52 rooms with 10 bathrooms, several Tiffany stained glass windows, a secret vault in the dinning room and the Detroit's first elevator (or as us Brits know them, lifts) in a residential building. It was one of the places to be for receptions, teas and evening parties often held by Mr and Mrs Whitney. 

The Tiffany glass windows are worthy of noting and are considered themselves to be worth more than the house itself. Their designs often come to reflect the role of each room, but in the case of the grand staircase, you'll find a knight (second photograph) - one who symbolize all those of the Whitney family line knighted and their royal lineage. 

Many believe Mr Whitney and his wife - both of whom died within the house in 1900 and 1917 respectively, haunt the building with disturbances noted on all three levels. Most particularly haunted is the elevator, which is known to move on it's own accord. Spooky! 

The house was turned into a restaurant back in 1986, offering afternoon tea, dinner service and hosting wedding receptions - which we actually looked into for ourselves. We visited on a chilly February afternoon all suited and booted while they were offering their Valentines afternoon tea - which itself was a delight and they welcome you going up the second floor and having a wander around. It's an enchanted building, one that has been beautifully preserved (although at a $3 million cost back in 1986). Dinning there is a great opportunity to sample how grand the houses of this era in Detroit must have once been and certainly a must stop if you're ever in the city. 



The Whitney
4421 Woodward Ave.,
Detroit, Michigan, 48201

Where are your top places for a spot of afternoon tea?