Friday, 30 March 2012

The British art of queueing

I'll admit most of what I learn about what it going on back in the homeland is through twitter. American news is very American bias and most of the British news that ever gets a mention is related to the royal family. Yet I've been seeing rather a lot on facebook and twitter about the potential of a fuel strike causing endless queues for petrol, something which seems to be an annual thing in the UK. This got me thinking - one comparison I notice a lot is there difference between the UK and the USA's art of queuing.

Source

In the UK we love to form orderly lines and patiently wait, not only for petrol it seems but also for buses, in stores, for the post office and banks to open. It's seen as one of our national pastimes being ranked second behind talking about the weather in this Telegraph article. It's a way of being nice to our fellow people and we glare at queue jumpers. It's part of doing our bit, but its also something that defines us as being British, its one of our national traits recognised and known by foreigners. The British just love to queue even to the point while researching this post I stumbled over plans in 2010 for all immigrants into the UK to be taught how to queue as part of their citizenship application, I'm unsure if it came to fruition.



In America not so much - although people still queue over here it's not welcomed as much and they never get to the extremes like they do in the UK. I noticed this first in Chicago when we were waiting to catch the bus. Rather then forming a queue people just gather and regardless of who got there first, people just pile on board.

Have you ever noticed this queuing art form? Do you think the UK has certain national traits? What other traditions do you think our countries both have?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

MICHIGAN: Stony Creek and a Talking Crow

Yes you heard that right - a talking crow. But more about that later. I was lucky enough that Joe booked off a long weekend so on Monday we were determined to get out and do something even if the weather has taken a turn back to being seasonal and not overwhelmingly warm. But we visited Stony Creek all the same. Out here in metro Detroit there's a lot of metro parks which are great places for walks, fishing, boating, golfing and picnics, it's only $5 a time to visit but we opted for the annual pass after decided they're going to be our places of choices for BBQs once it gets into the summer months.





We went for a little walk around some ponds along the creek, sadly it was far too chilly to go too far. Nevertheless we spotted some amazing wildlife - from squirrels, wood peckers, gorgeous coloured birds, fishes and ground hogs all running wild. They also give shelter to a blinded owl and even a talking crow which even has his own video on YouTube.


He was born with a broken wing so he's never been able to fly and he's been at Stony Creek for as long as Joe's been visiting which is a good seven years. Was so cute watching him talk and crows are apparently rather good at mimicking sounds in general. Don't you just love funny YouTube videos?!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Collectors Club - Postcards

Thanks to everyone that commented on the first edition of this series of bloggers who collect. Today I'm featuring Dani from A Blog From Blackpool who has an amazing collection of postcards.



I collect old, written, sent postcards from Blackpool and Greece.

My collection started by accident I wanted to write a collection of short stories in which the lines between fact and fiction could be distorted and a bought a small selection of old sent Blackpool postcard off Ebay.


I found them fascinating like little glimpses in to someone else’s life and I started to use them to inspire my writing.

At first I was only interested in Blackpool postcards because I like to be able to relate to the images and the places mentioned, plus I’ve always had a huge obsessive interest in the history of Blackpool.



Whilst searching for Blackpool postcards online I came across a collection of Greek postcards for sale, looking through a few images I realised that some of the postcards where from a place I’ve visited in Crete which was enough to spark my interest.

I now have over 150 postcards most of which are from Blackpool. My oldest postcard was sent in 1903.

My favourite postcard was sent in 1905 and simply says “As promised” on the back. This was the first postcard which inspired a story.



Collecting postcards is not a particularly expensive hobby; I must have only spent about £10 - £15 on my entire collection. I think this is great value for more.

I think most people who collect postcards don’t collect postcards from/to strangers and I assume those that do collect them for the stamps or the rare images but I collect them for the memories written on the back.

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Do you want this series to last more then a couple of weeks? Do you collect and want to feature your collection in this spot? Get in touch!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Crochet Shrug

Sometimes it can get a little samey crafting the same thing, I got a little suck into crocheting blankets and granny squares for various things. Time to step the crocheting up a gear. Raverly is a website I always turn to for inspiration, if you haven't investigated that site its well worth a view if your fond of crocheting or knitting and there's plenty of free patterns on there. On there I found this shrug come waistcoat pattern which I attempted, and somewhat successfully made.


It's a relativity easy pattern to use as a basis to introduce myself into crocheting items to wear only using double crochets, chains, trebles and treble togs [the English terminology]. It took only two balls off wool too which I grabbed on sale in JoAnns so it's ended up being something cheap and cheerful to wear over vest tops when its evening time in the warmer months ahead. Its certainly tempted me into challenging my crocheting in the future. 

Are you crafting anything at the moment?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

VINTAGE: Our First Visit to an Estate Sale

On Saturday we were driving back from the H & R block people [yeap here in America people have to sort out their own taxes - British folk cherish your national insurance and tax numbers that the government does all that for you]. Seriously it's all confusing. On the way there we noticed a sign for an estate sale, the drive back was a follow the sign mission until we found ourselves with many others parked outside a sweet little home. Everything was for sale with a huge range of things - radio tube testers, old cameras, crochet goodies, two singer sewing machines and loads, and I mean loads of dolls. We've been looking for some new shelves for my compact collection, we wanted something thrift and ideally vintage but we stumbled upon this god awful pink [the photograph doesn't show just how awful the pink was] painted shelf fixture. Everything was half price so we grabbed it for $5. 


One good adventure with some sandpaper, two days and two coats of Purple Orchid paint later and it's a lot better. Totally not a vintage colour but I'm a purple girl at heart and something dark will make the gold and silver of the compacts stand out much more.


From the top to the bottom - red Lin Bren compact, Rex lovebird compact, Marhill white flowers, Marhill butterflies, unmarked wooden compact, Yardley compact. 

We're slightly running out of wall space in the main parts of our apartment so it's hanging above the computer. Surprisingly it looks rather good there and they catch the light coming in from the window opposite. A quick gathering of some compacts, spreading them out across the levels and if I say so myself they look rather good. Now just on a mission to fill the top shelf after I find out where to buy some more mini plate stands. We've signed up with the company running the estate sale for news emails for upcoming sales, hopefully this might be the start of another fun vintage adventure!

Have you found any good vintage goodies lately? 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What sits on my dresser

I've seen a couple of these posts around bloggerville and I thought I'd let you be nosy at my own. When I got down to thinking about it, my dresser is one of the places in our apartment which I get to fill with all my own things, filled with some of my favourite vintage goodies and items that are very meaningful to me.


As you can see my dresser isn't a dresser as such. It's a make do one till we spy a nice vintage one. Until then I'm making do with an old computer desk which actually works rather well due to the top shelf which allows me to lay out my nail varnishes and the storage on the bottom lets me hide away travel and camera things. 

On the top shelf as I've mentioned I line up all my nail varnishes. With only owning 20 or so they don't take up much room and having them out I can see what colours I own. There's a candle [far left] that Joe's gran made us for little wedding favours, they have a love hearts on the side and she wrote our names and the date on the tag. We have so many left over but they mean too much to use. I also have a photograph of us on our wedding day and some compacts which I swap around with those in the living room. [Compacts photographed; Marhil with butterflies, Marhill with flowers, green Rex compact, tapestry Kigu compact and a Bourjois Evening in Paris - some of which I haven't got around to blogging about oops].


While I'm not a huge perfume girl, I adore the ones I own. I mostly wear Marc Jacob's Daisy and Chanel's Chance. For a change I wear 4711 which although is an old scent I love how fresh and light it is. It's excellent for cooling you down on a warm day by lightly babbling it on your wrists. I also have a Donna Kahn fragrance which I was given in a bridal shower present which is a lovely soft scent.


This is another of those instances of Joe buying me a surprise present. Looking around the gift shop of the Field Museum in Chicago I fell in love with this wooden, hand painted fair trade box to store my jewellery in but in my saving money mode I walked away from it. I left Joe buying presents for friends and I wandered off to another section. Leaving the museum he handed me the bag and there it was!


Everything on the main part of the "dresser" sits on a green cotton doiley which I brought with me from the UK as it was my grans. To keep my rings that I take off, hair ties and bobbin pins I found this glass lid bowl from the dollar store - total bargain and fits the vintage feel. I also keep my vintage perfume atomizer [shown behind the bowl] that Joe brought for me it's made of gorgeous cut glass and in an amazing condition. At the back I have two cards used as love letters when we were in our long distance relationship. I pulled them out and keep them on display because I love their pictures - a love bird and a vintage photo of London's Picadilly. I aim to get them framed one day.


While I keep my make up in the bathroom [huge mirror and better lighting] I keep my hair and body products in the bedroom. My Palmers tube came with me across the ocean [so glad you can get it over here] and I'm a sucker for TRESemme. I also stand up some of the music sheets I brought last year from Pickering's flea market - this one of High Society in particular is my favourite, I love the film, the stars and the colours of the sheet. Another thing I need to get framed! 


Aside from my vintage powder compacts obsession I do take fancy to pretty vintage brushes - I currently have the three that Joe has brought for me over the years and they sit nicely on the dresser too. They are something else to look out for when we're rummaging through old shops.

What do you keep on your dresser? Are you minimalist or cluttered? 

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On a side note i've been featured twice this week on two amazing blogs this week so make sure to check them out. My blog interview over at Life of a Sweetaholic and my photograph post over on Bex's website Futures. Check out both these ladies blog - they really are great reads!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Collectors Club - Tins

I'm really excited to be starting off this new series about us bloggers who collect - be it old or new. My intention is to create just that little spot for us to share our passion for collecting and to learn from each other. If you want to get involved you can, just leave your contact details be it email or twitter and I'd be glad to welcome your collection to the list! Thanks goes out to everyone that's got back to me with their posts already.

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First up we're starting with Alice's collection of tins. Make sure you take the time to check out Alice's blog over at An Alien World, it really is a blog worth spending some time reading and it's one of my favourites to check out! 



I collect tins, old and new I am always fascinated to add to my collection.  Most of my tins are either second-hand or have been given to me over time.  I would never spend more than a couple of pounds on one tin, because I can often find what I want for very little indeed.  It’s often the sweet nature of the tins that appeals to me the most, the thrill of finding a rare design or unusual shape or size is always fun.

I’m sure my collection is probably worth very little in cost, but to me it’s truly priceless.  I don’t really know when it began, but all of a sudden I realised I had quite a collection forming.  I see this collection lasting a lifetime.



My favourite tins are my two butterfly ones, which cost just twenty-pence and fifty-pence each from a car boot sale.  The butterfly design completely enchanted me and always makes me smile.  I’m quite partial to collecting tins with characters on too, Disney Princess’s, Charlie and Lola and The Turtles being a few in my collection already.  I’m a big kid at heart, so love nothing more than a cute design.


Another tip is a lot of tins are often given away as free gifts, either with toiletries or food I find most common!  Amongst my collection are a set of special edition tins given away with the purchase of Bodyform. 



My Cath Kidston tin is the only tin I have bought brand new, but it was a real treat of a design.  I would love to go on to collect more floral/vintage inspired tins over time.  I never know what I like until I see it!  Condition is an important factor I wouldn’t buy anything that was too tatty or rusty, but I do think a bit of wear adds to the character and age of the tin.

And you may be wondering what I keep inside in my tins…well normally they are stashed full of bits and bobs, buttons, letters and my ink stamps!  But of course there main purpose is decoration of course!

So there you have it, a little snippet of my collection. 

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If you collect and want to take part, click here.  

Monday, 19 March 2012

Happy girls are the prettiest girls

I think Audrey Hepburn was onto something when she said that line [title of today's post] and after last weeks slightly negative post about blogging and life. As it's blog positivity week I thought I'd develop that into my everyday life and think about what makes me happy, laugh, smile and why they do. Sometimes it's all too easy to focus on the negativity, especially when I feel like I have no pull or say on my future of where I'm living, but there still is plenty to be happy about. And yes this really is the second post on this Monday [back into blogging - somewhat!]


Mac n cheese, LA Colours - bargain varnish from the $ store, compact winnings from eBay, playing the pawn stars game on facebook endlessly, summer shoes, reading and more peeps!


♥ Buying the first pair of shoes for the warmer months 
♥ Sushi
♥ Getting back into reading and ordering The Hunger Games from the library
♥ Finding goodies in the dollar store
♥ Eating tonnes of mac n cheese after releasing I do actually like it after thinking for years I didn't
♥ Sorting old photographs with the boy
♥ Our kitties
♥ Winning compact lots on eBay
♥ Going outside without a coat
♥ Dortios Tacos - the new thing at Taco Bell
♥ Waking up with my soul mate every day
♥ Driving along finding a sign for an estate sale and proceeding to have a thorough rummage
♥ Endlessly playing the Pawn Stars game on Facebook
♥ Thinking about our mini road trip to Ohio to go to Cedar Point
♥ Lighter nights
 
As she sums up everything so perfectly, I'll leave you with Audrey's quote;

On the set of Funny Face. Source

"I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” 

What's making you smile lately?

Tomorrow I'm launching the first post in my bloggers who collect series [still chance to get involved if your interested] which I'm really looking forward to releasing into the blogger world, just get in touch for more details.

Blog Positivity Week

19th - 25 March 2012

Ashley over at After Nine to Five is running the blog positivity week, an idea which I think is important for us bloggers to remember - to be and remain positivity in our world of blogging. It's all too easy to send negative vibes through comments, posts and the associated social media that all are increasingly using to spread our work. Nevertheless in the period I've been blogging [two and a half years] the amount of hatred and bitchy comments I've seen has really increased especially on YouTube. Unfortunately it's all too easy to give out anonymous horrible comments across today's social media driven world.

Yet it's not just about negativity through comments - I often feel there's a perceived view that you have to blog in a certain way. None of us should fear branching out and experimenting with blogs. There is no correct way to blog - remember that. You don't always have to blog about one topic. Never feel categorized into making your blog only ever be about one thing because you might loose followers. Your followers will read and follow your blog regardless. Your blog is yours. You can make the rules and if some people don't like it - then they are the narrow minded ones. Be brave and write - it's what I've tried to do with LOTS, I have a lame attention span so I would have issues blogging about one topic repeatedly, that's why you'll find everything from baking, sewing, love, compacts to cats here.

There are so many positive reasons to blog - from the gorgeous people you'll met, the occasional give away you might win and that chance of marking one tiny little space on the internet as yours. Through blogging I've often found the support I've needed when I was in my long distance relationship through to moving to America and having those down days. 

My key message is to reach out and be positive through your blog, to the blogs you read and to the people that comment. A little bit of positivity, like a smile, goes a long way.

Go on, ask yourself if your participating and spread some positivity.

Have you experienced the dark side of blogging? How do you keep positive in your work and your messages your sending out? 

Friday, 16 March 2012

Same Product, DIfferent Name UK vs USA

One of the funniest things in regards to differences between the UK and the USA are in regards to the names products are given. From chocolate sharing the same name as soap to trying to find a Mars bar you feel like your going in a never ending circle. Or they'll have the same name but their consistency will be very different. So I thought I'd give you a look through our cupboards with the British names coming first followed by their American equivalent.

STARTING IN THE BATHROOM;


Lynx as Axe, however research comes to show that most countries call it Axe yet trademark problems wouldn't allow that brand name to be used in the UK - so in this instance the UK is the odd one. Even so, Axe seems an odd name for a body spray. 

SEARCH IN THE CUPBOARDS;

Asking a shop assistant for custard will result in being blankly stared at. Rather then being in a tin you get it in a packet like you get your jelly/jello. I haven't dared myself to try and make it yet though. 

A lot of people don't like American baked beans but I find them rather tasty. Granted you can get your typical Heinz beans [they originate from Pittsburgh so they are an American company anyway] but we tend to buy Bushes baked beans which come with mini bacon bits in a brown sauce mix.Yum.

Walkers are your Lay's, with the "ready salted" merely called Classic.

There's a marvellous thing called all purpose flour, so when your baking you often don't have to worry about having self rising or plain flour. Just one will do [obviously you can buy these flours too]. But I can't say I ever noticed anything like this in the UK?

Not only that but Lard is called shortening under the is disguise of the brand name Criso. Plus it comes in a jar! I think that's meant to make it look and seem healthier perhaps?

FRIDGE;
Milk rarely gets termed by being full fat, skimmed or semi skinned - it goes by it's percentages. So semi skimmed is 2% - but over here that's called reduced fat milk. Apparently we drink 1% milk [pink top] which is low fat/light milk. Who ever thought buying milk would be so confusing when you actually think about it rather then the colour of the bottle tops!

If you fancy a mature cheese - that's always called a sharp cheese.

SWEET GOODIES;
Being in America we should probably call them "candy" anyway. 

The one I'll never give into changing it's name is what Galaxy is called, I've mentioned this a few times now but Dove as a chocolate brand name? Especially when Dove as a toiletry is on sale too. But like Lynx/Axe Galaxy is only named Galaxy in the UK and the Middle East.

Finding a Mars Bar is an adventure in itself. A Mars Bar in America is a Milky Way, but a Milky Way in America is a 3 Musketeer. Keeping up? I may have to do a whole post about American sweets - there's way too many I haven't tried! Interested?

Have you ever come across any funny brand/food product names?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

LIFE: Best Friends

Well maybe not proper best friends if Ed gets her way. We've had Smokey over a month now and it's been a joy having that additional kitten in our lives even with hissing, the hiding under the bed and that trip to the vets. I thought I'd update you all and share you some more of my photos of our little dude.

Let me start with the vets trip, those of you who follow me on twitter will know about the issue of Smokey's gender. We were always told that Smokey was male and neutered - a factor noted by the vets at the rescue center. Why would we think any different? When getting Smokey registered with our vets - the said vet is convinced Smokey isn't a he, but she. Ideally we were looking for a male to balance it out with Ed [who although the male name is female] and because of the old wife's tale you shouldn't have two female cats together. Emails were sent back and forth with the pet rescue people who were shocked and were certain in their vets appraisal. A week later Smokey was defiantly in heat. When your used to a cat being shy, quiet and keeping herself in one place - the transformation that occurs when they are in heat is incredible. So today Smokey's gone to the vet's to finally get spayed - when we rang the vets they say on their records Smokey is marked as female - so we have no idea what's going on or why the rescue people would declare she, was a he.


That aside Smokey and Ed get on well to a point. Ed is a bit of a scaredy cat, little things scare her and with Smokey being a year old she's playful and wants to be play with Ed. She'll chase Ed's tail, run after her and do what I find rather cute - follow her everywhere - Ed use to hiss a lot about it, but she really has settled down a lot in the past week or two. Then you get super cute moments of Smokey licking Ed's head [and Ed letting her] they touch noses and they'll sit by each other like in the first photograph, Smokey's follows Ed's call when it's food time too so they do have their cute moments and Ed's started licking Smokey back - we're finally getting somewhere!

Smokey at the start was very timid - often hiding under our bed, and introducing the two wasn't easy. We first introduced them for an hour or so at any one time, then returning Smokey into what's known as the "safe" room which Ed couldn't get into. The more they saw each other the better they got on, but there was a lot of hissing to start with. Now they both have the freedom to roam everywhere, Smokey use to sleep in our bedroom but now she's found some snug places to sleep around the apartment she's happy to stay outside of our room. 





If your thinking of rescuing any animal I really would urge you to do so. It's especially daunting when you already have a pet, and I was worried how Ed would take it. But as long as you aid yourself and your original animal in the process and make it as stress free for them, they can and will welcome a new companion in time. And time really is key.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

And the winner ...

So if we all remember my little give away for reaching the big 500 followers it's time to make the announcement who will have a little parcel of goodies winging their way. In my chosen off hand vintage way I thought I'd make the most of the vintage tea top with rose detailing that was handed to us from a friend who was clearing out his grandads house out and passed it along to us.


Drum roll please!

 
And the winner is Jess

Thanks to everyone that took part and I hope you all carry on reading and enjoying LOTS in the future! Thanks for all the support and advice on yesterdays post. Looks like blogging gets to us all at times!

Monday, 12 March 2012

BLOGGING: A Love Hate Thing

Well not just blogging. When you just have those down moments when you just want to hide away. Sometimes things get to me especially when you mix hormones, cabin fever and feeling lonely - everything comes to a boil. You start missing crazy things like the BBC TV channels, salad cream and quavers then you get to be a stalking mess with regards to your blogging statistics. Blogging is one of those activities you can have such a love hate relationship with. While we should all blog as a passion its oh so easy to get tied in wondering why people aren't commenting, why you're loosing followers and why others have blogs growing triple the rate of yours. Ah.

I need to take a step back from my blog a little. Because of not being able to work yet [another issue that's getting at me because I sometimes wonder if my two degrees are ever going to get me anywhere], sitting on the computer has become my way to spend the day until Joe gets home. But that isn't the way to be spending my life. You probably won't even notice I'm not there has much  because I'll still post, read, comment and things but I'll know in myself I'm doing more outside of the blogging world. I've registered myself at the local library and grabbed a couple of books [Remember Me by Sophia Kinsella, Jodi Picoult's Songs of the Humpback Whale and ordered The Hunger Games]. I might even wander there during the week and spend the odd hour especially with the weather getting better.Plus hopefully with the spring coming up I can get back out with my camera.

On a happier note we spent the weekend eating tacos, drinking at The Oakland - a 1920s styled speak easy cocktail bar [complete with seedy lighting and posh drinks], tried frozen custard for the first time. All of which were utterly tasty beyond belief. And won three compacts in a lot on Ebay after making over $80 selling some of our stuff.

I'm still trying to organise the bloggers who collects series - they'll be getting posted as soon as I start getting some backs! And if you still want to get involved just let me know. But it might have to get pushed back till I get some posts back.

Friday, 9 March 2012

FOOD: Homemade Naan Bread

As you can tell I'm getting far more adventurers in my baking exploits - hence two baking posts in a week. Yet this baking was born out of necessity. America lacks naan bread. Stores don't sell it and unless you have a membership to Costco or live near an ethnic store chances are you'll only see it in an Indian [which metropolitan Detroit lacks in comparison to Thai restaurants]. We eat curry at least once a week so it was time to investigate making it myself. I don't have much luck with yeast, nevertheless this recipe seemed to work but there are plenty of non-yeast recipes on the internet. It takes around an hour to an hour and a half altogether, a lot of which is spent watching a timer, but its straight forward and makes eight tea plate sized naan breads. The basis is taken from this recipe website, but I adjusted it here and there.


WHAT YOU NEED;
1 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of all purpose flour plus extra for coating worktops and rolling pin.
A dribble of oil

HOW TO BAKE;
  • Combine the water, sugar and yeast [after following the instructions to make your yeast active] into a bowl and leave to settle for five minutes.
  • Add the salt and flour into the wet mixture, mixing until a dough is formed. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. You should then knead your dough around 20 times. 
The dough mixture after being left for 40 minutes in an oil lined bowl
  • Place your worked dough into a oil lined bowl. Take a tea towel and soak in warm water. After wringing out the towel, place it over the bowl and leave to stand for 30 to 45 minutes in a warm place. Your dough will settle and will rise [but don't expect huge amounts of rising because it won't happen]. 
  • Turn your dough out onto the floured work surface, gently rolling the dough with a rolling pin and divide into eight [or four for larger breads] sections. 
Rolling out the dough after dividing it into eight sections.
  •  In turn roll out each section until they are around 3mm in thickness. 
  • Place the breads into the grill for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until hardening and turning golden. In turn you can fry them in a very hot pan [as hot as you would have it for making pancakes] with a small amount of oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side.  
  •  Eat straight away or leave to cool on a cooling rack, quickly reheat in the grill or frying pan when required. 

And as for how they taste? Mighty, mighty good. We shared them with our friend who came over for curry and we ended up being totally stuffed and we all had empty plates - that's the true testing of something tasting good and I would really recommend you trying this if you have the time.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

EDINBURGH: Royal Botanical Gardens

It was a year ago this week that me and the boy were holidaying in Edinburgh. I was on a bit of a hiatus with my blog at the time and never posted one of my favorite places we went too - the Royal Botanical Gardens and this is where we went one year ago to this day. Don't get me wrong I'm not green fingered in the slightest and I never thought I would have enjoyed this place at all - we only popped in because we were heading back from the Royal ship Britannia and it was on the same bus route. But if your ever in the Edinburgh suburbs its more then worthy of a visit. The greenhouses are full of the most amazing selection of flowers and trees, with ponds and fish set in a huge landscaped garden. There's even shops and restaurants to keep you entertained even more. Between us we took over 150 photographs - you can always tell how much we like something by the amount of photographs we take!

Since visiting the gardens I've developed a bit of a love for the huge conservatory greenhouses and wandering around them. Most of all they tend to be really cheap places to visit and at least they offer somewhere dry on a rainy day.

Have you ever visited the gardens or Edinburgh? Where are your favorite places to sight-see?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

FOOD: Mayo Chocolate Cupcakes

I was doing one of them random searches for cupcake recipes for my next attempt at baking when I stumbled across this recipe for chocolate cupcakes, featuring mayonnaise. I was intrigued - instead of using any source of butter or eggs - you just use one huge heap of mayo. But what would using mayo add to a cupcake? It baffled me enough to want to bake to just to see the outcome. I won't rewrite out the recipe because it's clearly on the website but I'll share with you my experiences!

Ingredient wise it requires the every day items we all should have in our baking store cupboards. In addition you need one cup of cold water.
All you need - one huge helping of mayo. Yes, really.
The mixture before whacking it into the oven. As you can see it makes enough to make 12 cupcakes and it's lovely and moist.

AND IT TASTES LIKE?
While its nice and moist they are cupcakes without much flavour. Although the recipe is really straight forward and you don't even need to use a mixture, while your mixing the ingredients all you can smell is the mayo, which is possibly over powering the cocoa powder. That lovely chocolate flavour is missing which is a shame. It also doesn't produce that soft light texture you often find in cupcakes, instead its a little claggy and thick. This isn't to say it's not edible and its well worth baking it to try it out but I figure the amounts of mayo to cocoa butter could do with being adjusted. I'll be sticking with more traditional cupcake recipes in the future.


Have you ever tried any wild variations on traditional recipes?

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Volpute Carry All


This carry all came with a bit of a tale. Me and Joe had opted to spend a Saturday poking around antique malls in which we saw this sitting in a display case - carry all's excite me after never seeing them in the UK so I had my eye on it. We carried on looking around but when we went back to it's display case it had gone - yet we'd found a cake stand and a music box so I was a happy girl. Getting back into the car Joe passed me a paper bag and there inside was the carry all! While disappearing to go to the loo he'd quickly gone and brought this for me, asking the ladies who were running the mall to keep it a secret so he could surprise me. He really is a dream.

But to the details of the carry all! As a brand Volupte were based out of New Jersey and came to be known as one of the top designers particularly through their sale of Golden Gestures compacts [compacts in the shape of hands that can go for $200 minimum]. Manufacturing between the 1930s to the 1950s Volupte are credited as being a prolific manufacturer with regards to their designs, styles and shapes. 

Carry all's differ from compacts because they were designed to carry more then merely powder. They were made to allow the lady to carry everything she may need in one place - from her powder, lipstick, a comb, somewhere to perhaps store notelets, stamps or cigarettes and often with a larger mirror then your standard compact. I knew from the off that this carry all had seen better days but I love re-homing them - sometimes they'd had a more exciting life then ones that are in perfect or near perfect condition. Plus a good clean up has definitely helped, the brand marking can now he clearly seen upon the powder well flap, the rusty mirror is more usable and the lipstick markings are less obvious.

While its had a life, it came complete with it's original brand marked powder puff, lip stick container, which unfortunately had it's slider broken and a fabric envelope - this may have been for a comb or as some suggest a place to store paper, money or keys and are apparently is an item often missing within many vintage carry all's. Its had a bit of a battering getting to 2012 but now it's got a home with me it's going to fair much better.

Do you collect anything? Do you want to write a post and have it featured on LOTS? Just check out the link here and leave your details!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Do you collect?

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If you follow me on twitter you might have seen my call outs to people who collect to get involved with a little project I'm working on for LOTS. My call to you is to ask yourself if you collect anything a little different? Do you want a space to show off your little collection, feature on LOTS and tell people all about it?

You all know about my random obsession for the vintage compact but I'm looking for bloggers that also collect. Be it perfume bottles, buttons, china dolls, toys, postcards, old books. You name it, old or new I want to know about your collecting habits!

If you do collect and you fancy getting involved with writing a piece for my blog get in touch! I'm looking to provide a slot for us collectors to talk about what we collect, how we got into collecting, tips and a little look into what we have. The depth and the involvement is totally up to you I just want to give you the space to share your passion! Just get in touch and I'll send you an overview of what I'm aiming for - but I'm giving you the freedom to write it in your style. And just maybe we'll inspire someone else into the collecting world.


If you want to take part or want more details, you can leave your contact details below, email me at lo_ts@ymail.com or tweet/DM me. If you already got in touch via twitter I'll be emailing out things hopefully within the next day!

p.s have you entered my 500 followers give away?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

BLOGGING: Tag Post Time!

I've been tagged a lot in the past couple of weeks so I thought I'd lob them together and post them as one long post. Apologies for it's length and being text heavy! So we'll start with the Versatile blogging award from Neeny for which I have to tell you seven random facts about myself. 
  • I fear dogs.
  • My memory is rubbish.
  • Love tacos but tacos hate me.
  • I'd love to visit Italy.
  • Sushi is my guilty pleasure - just wish it wasn't so expensive.
  • I really don't get the buzz around How I Met Your Mother
  • Me and Joe are coming up with random endings for this season of NCIS. Someone will get killed off we thinks.

Next up we have the 11 questions tag from which I was tagged four times

11 things about me
  • Until moving to America I use to majorly hate sweetcorn - now its one of my must have veggies. 
  • I named my first cat Bertie after my favourite children's book when I was two - Big Bad Bertie.
  • I've met the author Melvin Burgess [he wrote Junk, Sara's Face, My Life as a Bitch etc]. 
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  • We have dreams of going to the Galapagos Islands [photograph] to see penguins in the wild.
  • I'm a freak for saving money. 
  • Margaritas are my new addiction.
  • I have a slight fear of roller-coaster but I'm taking my boy for his birthday to one of the countries largest theme parks [I may come to regret this]. 
  • Seeing Razorlight in 2003 was the first gig I ever went too.

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  • We have 106 toy transformers in our apartment. 
  • Aladdin has to be one of my favourite Disney films.
  • Secretly want to run a vintage store. 

So here are Charlee's questions

1. What is your favourite beauty product?
Either eye-liner or the Sleek eye brow kit.

2. Drugstore or high end products?
Drugstore, I think for what your buying most of the products are similar these days you're just paying for the name. I'm a big fan of rooting through clearance, found lots of OPI for amazing prices so you can always find your more expensive goods somehow!

3. Least favourite product you've tried?
While I'm a huge fan of Lush I wish I hadn't brought their Ultrabalm, I don't find it offers my skin anything which is a shame because it's the first Lush product I've been disappointed with.

4. Your favourite skin product?
Any of the Palmers skin lotions - they are miracle workers.


5. What is the most you've ever spent on a beauty product?
Probably a perfume, probably my Chanel Chance that I got at duty free. I don't spend loads on beauty.

6. What item is currently on the top of your wish list?
Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation it was my favourite but apparently Bourjois don't sell their products over here any more?

7. Your favourite feature?
My eyes.

8. Are you a dress it up or dress down girl?
Dress down most days but I love a reason to dress up!

9. Favourite song currently?
I go through phases of constantly playing bands rather then songs, so probably something by either Godsmack or SOAD.

10. Your favourite makeup brand?
I'm a fan of Sleek, i'm using both a blusher and their brow kit. They offer really good products for their price.

11. Why did you create your blog?
I needed a space to write down things that were going around in my head. I was in the middle of doing my Masters so I need a distraction that I could go to when I didn't want to be thinking and it grew from there. 

And 11 questions from Char

Question already answered.

2. How long does it take you to write your blog posts?
I normally start writing a post a day or two before it gets published and spend an hour depending on the length of the post. I keep them back a day or two just to give me a couple of chances to reread or rewrite.

3. How did you get into make up?
I was a rocker in my teenage and university years so I got into the eyeliner and the black make up that way. Then got more girlie since. 

Question already answered.

5. What is your favourite TV show?
There's a couple. I love The Big Bang Theory and shows on the History channel like American Pickers, Pawn Stars and American Restoration. I love old things so I love seeing the stuff these guys find and restore. 

6. Do you enjoy reading, if so what is you favourite book?
I do, I use to read constantly then stopped suddenly last October. My favourite author is Daphne du Mauirer and I love her book Rebecca.  

7. Who is your fashion inspiration?
I have two - Kaley Cuoco [Penny from TBBT] and Danielle from American Pickers both for different reasons. Kaley appeals to my girlie side and Danielle to my rocker, tattooed side. 
 
8. What is your favourite magazine to read?
I haven't read a magazine in months sadly.

9. What is your number 1 staple make up product for your everyday look?
Eyeliner - without it I look asleep. 

10. High end or High street?
High street, I can't justify spending crazy amounts of money on clothes.

11. Staple clothing item?
Jeans they are just my go to item.  

Fool and faffs questions 

What is the best job you've ever had?
My work experience as a journalist at my then local paper, it was the job I wanted when I was younger and I had a lot of fun. Plus the people I was working with were great, supportive and helpful. 

If you could be anywhere, where would you be?  (in life or location)
Cheesy as it sounds I'm more then happy where I am right now - I'm with my boy and we're happy. I'd love a lot more security about my residency though. That and being in Chicago would be heavenly!

Something you've always wanted but never got?
I always wanted a pet rabbit but my mum would never ever let me have one and I never understood why.

The first movie you saw at the cinema?
Not sure if it was the first but I do remember seeing Hook which came out in 1991 when I was five.

Your top played song on iTunes?
Godsmack - Moon Baby

Would you rather be taller or shorter (if you HAD to chose!)
Probably taller, I'm like 5"5 so I could go either way.

Your longest standing hobby?
Mostly likely sewing - cross stitch is my sewing craft of choice. 

If you had an hour to kill what would you do?
Poking blogger or reading. 

The best thing that's happened to you so far this year?
Having afternoon tea at The Whitney with my boy for Valentines.

Lastly, eleven questions from Jess

Question already answered


2. When did you last skip taking your make-up off?
Last night, I'm rubbish at taking make up off.

3. Name a film you've watched so often you can say every line before it happens.
The Secret Garden which was one of my favouite films from my childhood and I still don't tire from watching it. 


4. Who inspires you and why?
My boy - he's so caring, passionate and he's doing the dream job he's always wanted to do. 

5. Did you make any resolutions for 2012? If so, what were they and how are they going?
To make more hard copies off my photographs, which I've done two batch lots of so far!

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6. Do you have any guilty pleasure songs/bands/etc.?
The Backstreet Boys, I got into them when they first came out and they've always been my secret loves. I still haven't ever seen them live though darn it!

Question already answered. 

8. What's the most-played song on your iPod/iTunes/whatever?
Probably something by Flyleaf. 

9. What's your favourite way to relax?
Messing around on the internet, poking games, blogs, researching compacts. 

10. Do you have any bad habits? If so, what?
Not taking my make up off!

11. Where do you see yourself in ten years' time?
Hopefully in a house of our own with a baby or two and our kitties. 


 My questions for people;

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • Your dream thing to do on a date?
  • Holiday location you really want to visit?
  • Era of history you really want to visit and why?
  • Your all time favourite Disney film?
  • Are you a cat or a dog person? 
  • What's your favourite hobby?
  • Recommend one nail varnish brand?
  • One beauty tip you couldn't live without?
  • Do you collect anything?
  • What is your most treasured possession?

I'm basically tagging anyone, feel free to drop me your links if you take part!

P.S. Have you checked out my giveaway?

Friday, 2 March 2012

500 followers give away!

This is only the second give-away I've ever done on LOTS so I hope you find this as exciting as I do. To show my gratitude at reaching 500 followers [to some bloggers this is a tiny tiny figure - but it means a lot to me] I've organised this little thank you. Because I want this to be international - because lets face it with moving to the states I have followers all over the sides of the pond, it needed to be something that was small and light enough because we're trying to save our pennies too. But I hope it's something you'd all love to have and it's my way of saying thank you.

So here is what is up for grabs;

Left to right - set of four clothespins, 3D rose sticker, set of 12 mini notes with envelopes.


This competition is now closed. 

Again thank you to you all that have followed, viewed and/or commented on LOTS since I started back in the summer of 2009. Finally all that is left to say is, good luck if you enter!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Rex Leaping Gazelle Powder Compact


After getting a little disheartened with collecting compacts I thought I'd try and throw myself back into writing about my hobby - so far its working and I'm feeling much more engaged and happier. I thought i'd take the time to say that I get attracted to powder compacts that are different, I love colour and odd sizes just like this over-sized compact. Because of this it made its way onto my Christmas Ebay wish list - it's red, made of leather and has a gazelle leaping in flowers as decoration. Gazelles may seem an odd animal to be upon beauty accessories but as a motif they became popular during the Art Deco period if only for a short time - a trend that continued well into the 1950s. Some suggest it was the result of the popularity of the film Bambi, whatever the reason it can be found across a range of manufacturers including this one by the New York house Rex.

Made of red leather this compact measures four and a half inches in diameter, classifying it as a flapjack [anything over four inches fits this category] dating around the 1940s/50s. I sometimes wonder if such a size limited it's ability to be carried in purses and is far from being as practical as it's smaller counterparts and was probably just used at a ladies dresser. The puff and sift that came with this compact aren't original as the puff would have had Rex fifth avenue banded across it's ribbon. 

With particular regards to leather compacts, manufacturers produced them in a range of colours - sometimes matching the purses the compacts came with additional accessories a lady could purchase from the same line. In fact there is a green version of the this compact on Ebay - whether someone would pay $95 for this is another matter. Yes vintage compacts can go for some very crazy prices.


* And yes that really is a Christmas tree in the background of these photographs, I'm suffering from a huge compact post backlog so be prepared for a compact overload in the coming weeks.