Thursday, 6 October 2011

Route 66 - First night in the Windy City

We landed at O'Hare in surprisingly good shape, and hopped in one of the many cabs outside of the airport. It was about $40 each way from O'Hare to downtown Chicago (the Doubletree Magnificent Mile to be precise) and after an 8 hour flight, neither of us fancied the El or the shuttle (though both would probably have been straightforward enough).

The Doubletree was lovely - very art deco opulence. We got cookies when we checked in, and Tom, our bellman (too old to be a bellboy) was really nice and friendly. Mr S pointed out that this may have been assisted by the fact that we overtipped (we had no change), but I like to think the best... We crashed out both nights in Chicago, so our best laid plans of visiting speakeasies and staying out late were a little optimistic. We both had terrible colds too, which didn't exactly help...

After a fantastic night's sleep (where we woke at about 5am), we decided to hit the city. When we visited Chicago, the heatwave had just come to an end - typically, this coincided with the UK's heatwave commencing! As a result, it was a bit drizzly and wet. But we decided that this would not stop our exploring, and pressed on regardless.

In the morning, we ate at Panera Bread, which appeared to be a small cute bakery - turns out, rather than supporting the local economy (inspired by the Dave Gorman roadtrip) we had inadvertently eaten at what appeared to be a huge chain. Still, their egg and cheese ciabatta takes some beating! Fully fuelled, we walked down Magnificent Mile and wandered around Chicago.

We went up the Sears (now the Willis Tower), which was a cracking way of getting to know the city! We also walked up the official start of Route 66:

In the afternoon we took a boat trip with Chicago's First Lady, which was fantastic! The narrator really brought the city to life, from the stories of those who designed the buildings, to the unfortunate chap who crashed into a bridge next to one and caused billions of pounds of damage...

A few of my highlights were:

This beautiful building is the Trump Tower. Whilst I have never considered the man a style icon (and still don't - just for the record), the building is staggeringly beautiful in the flesh, and even more so from the water.

This is the Tribune Tower. At the base of the building are pieces of other famous buildings, from the pyramids in Egypt to Edinburgh Castle. There is such a contrast between the styles of buildings in Chicago, from the (quite literally) new and shiny Trump Tower, to the gothic majesty of the Tribune Tower. However, they all work brilliantly together.

This is just one example of the reflections from the water - I have many others, but figured I've probably bored you enough by now...

Sorry, couldn't resist just one more...

This is the planetarium. It's next to Soldiers' Fields baseball park, and is in an area with heaps of museums. As we were only there a day, it wasn't possible to check any of these out, but I would love to head back one day and spend more time in Chicago. As it was Mr S's favourite place, we might be doing so in the not too distant future...

We travelled to Springfield, Illinois next. We were lucky enough to hit their annual Route 66 Festival, which I'll tell you all about in the next post.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Route 66 - California or bust!!

As you may have guessed from the title, we are embarking on my longest holiday ever - 3 and a half weeks of travelling the US of A in a soft top! It was his holiday choice this year, and he chose well. As a result, we are driving from Chicago to California via about 17 different locations. I'm going to try and document each, if for no other reason than to make sure that in 20 years I can still remember the fantastic hotels/people/sights/sounds etc...

DAY 1 & 2 - Chicago

We landed in O'Hare after an 8 hour (or so) flight from Heathrow. As we live in the north of England, our day started at 3.30am, when we piled into his car and drove from Leeds to London to make sure we were nice and early. I (rather impressively in my opinion) managed to catch some zees underneath the flightpath, whereas he (who had driven for 4 hours to get us there) was less able to block out the vibrations when a plane took off every few minutes...

We flew with BA, and the flight was fine. I cannot, however, recommend going "Premium Economy" enough, due to the extra legroom and extra baggage - we will be needing it on the way back. I don't want to sound tight and/or perpetuate any Yorkshire steroetypes, but the Premium Economy includes free drinks. However, they only come around a couple of times and close the bar an hour before landing. I'd therefore recommend getting a couple of drinks each time, and not being embarrassed to go through Cattle Class (honestly - they couldn't fit anyone else in without injury and/or breaching EU regulations on transport) to get anything else you fancy during the flight. Also, if you fly at the end of the month, the tapes may be knackered and the films might not play very well - definitely something to be aware of if you're travelling with kids and reliant on the airplane telly to keep them amused... We took films on the laptop and PSP, so I was kept out of mischief. I also was able to take a 3.5mm crochet hook along for the flight.

[Going for dinner now, I'll post again later... and add our photos of our first night in the Windy city]

Saturday, 30 July 2011

What makes you smile?

One of the reasons I set up this blog was to try and encourage myself to take a few more photos and make things a bit more, instead of spending so much time looking at other people's makes and gorgeous photos. On that vein, I thought I'd share some pictures of things that have made me smile recently:

This was a photo taken at a lovely spot in the Yorkshire dales. We might be going camping close to here over the bank holiday, whilst I'm not a natural camper, the stunning views make it all worthwhile :)

I've also been finishing work early (for me - about 6.30pm) and going for walks around the local lake with my camera. I'm particularly pleased with this shot of a chap I saw hiding in the woodland - he's not half so gruff as he looks, I'm sure.

Final photo - whilst it's not the best ever shot, Ducklings! In July! How can that not make someone smile. Especially as one was just about to fly, and kept flapping it's wings manically, but couldn't quite get out of the water, and another kept swimming the wrong way then having to frantically change direction to catch up to mum and the others. Simple things...

Speaking of which, I've been to the local cafe for a rose lemonade (lush) and lunch, followed by candyfloss icecream - with real bits of candyfloss in it - followed by an afternoon of crocheting in the sun and listening to cheesy music on mflow (erasure and deeply dippy anyone??). I'll post pics shortly, but it's a project which was in the bad books after I forgot to try it on and the shoulder finished somewhere near my elbow. It's now been ripped back, and I'm almost back where I was this morning before the frogging started. But on the bright side, at least I realised and didn't persist like I usually do... Growing as a person peeps!

Finally, I've had some lovely comments from Dibs and Bee Happy to my last post, which really cheered me up and spurred me on. Whilst I started this for me, it's such a privilege to have you guys follow me, and I'm so grateful. Your blogs are an inspiration, and were the reason I created this so it truly is an honour - thanks.

Definitely lots making me smile today... What's making you guys smile?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

It's been a while...

Hi all,

What a couple of months! It's not been all fun, but hopefully the worst is over for a while. I've been playing with Gimp, which sounds quite dodgy, but it's actually a photo-manipulation programme which is huge fun. I'm particularly proud of the shot below:

Do leave your comments and let me have your thoughts - I'm very new to this!

I have been crafting a bit - I'll post photos shortly. I also have a cross stitch pattern that I'll upload once I finish the prototype!

I hope you're all well, and I'm sorry I haven't been commenting on your blogs lately. I've been keeping up with you, I've just not been very communicative. I'll be back to my chirpy self soon, I promise!

Take care all


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Parisian Fabric


Sorry it's taken me a few days! I've finally got some good pics of my Parisian fabric haul. One thing I would say is if you are going to Paris, remember that fabric has a weight when packing! We sneaked through, but my shoulder told me the next day that I was probably ove my weight allowance...

So, onto the good stuff. I was quite restrained all told. Given all of the fabulous fabric that there was there, I think that only buying four pieces was almost miraculous!

The first piece of fabric is a relatively heavy weight cotton. It's really heavily patterned, so I've taken two shots to give you an idea. 

I think that this hasn't fully picked out the brightness of the pink - it is quite pink! However, I love it and I think that it would be a fantastic dress - was thinking a slim cut with a high neck and cap sleeves - if anyone has any recommendations let me know!

The next fabric I have picked out as a pendrell blouse - I've been eyeing these up for some time now and I think that the dainty print would be perfect:

I'll have to make a muslin for this one though - I only have a metre and a half, so I don't have much room for error!

The next one is beautiful, the picture doesn't really do it justice (might have helped if I'd ironed it...)  I'm not sure what it wants to be yet - I'm thinking something elegant and classical to match the pattern. I'll have to see what jumps out at me.

The next one is a bit less elegant and classical...

It might not be quite so classically elegant, but it makes me smile! I think it would make a great bag, not least because it's very heavyweight. This was bought off of the roll, so it was quite a bit more expensive. I only bought half a metre, and I'm currently undecided whether to make a cath kidston style bag:

or... something different. Again, feel free to give me inspiration!

In case anyone is going to Paris, the "coupons" have little tags on the edges telling you the price and the composition of the material, like so:

I'll be washing the fabric and doing some sewing soon - I'll keep you updated!

Night for now x

Sunday, 29 May 2011

We will always have Paris...

I've recently come back from Paris, where we did everything! We went up the Eiffel Tower...

We saw an amazing car just driving around...

We saw the Notre Dame...

If you are going, I can't recommend the free tour of the Notre Dame highly enough. They are given by people who actually attend the church, and who are really knowledgeable and passionate about their subject. We were with a short American lady who constantly stayed just on the right side of sarcasm and questioning, rather than simply repeating a script, which reminded everyone that such a beautiful church was actually a living breathing entity. 

And we went fabric shopping! I won't give you a comprehensive list of Parisian fabric shops, as Didyoumakethat has got there before me, and it was her guide that got me to the best places! I can't recommend her blog (and her links) highly enough.

However, we did head to the bottom of the Sacre Coeur, and spent a happy afternoon browsing all of the fabric shops. I never watched Project Runway (I know, I know), but seeing the gorgeous little models in Tissus Reine was fantastic! However, as I hadn't won the lottery immediately before travel - something to do with not playing - I wasn't able to buy any of the incredibly beautiful fabric in there.

However, I did find Les Coupons de Saint Pierre and Au Bonheur Des Dames, aka the BEST idea ever! Both shops (together with a few others on the street) sell 3 meter pieces of fabric which is labelled with the price and composition. I may have gone slightly overboard with excitement - not least given my limited luggage allowance!  I will post pictures of my hoard tomorrow, but if anyone wants to introduce the concept over here (or if anyone has, and I've missed it) do let me know as I want to be a customer!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

First ever blog post!

Having spent the last six months or so looking at everyone else's fabulous blogs, I thought it was time I had a go at creating my own. The purpose of this blog is to document my photography and other crafty things, and to try and spark some creativity! I'm also hoping that I start actually making things again (rather than just reading about the beautiful things everyone else is making) to give me something to write about!