Final Entry

21 Jun

As my loyal readers may have noticed, the blog has been completely inactive for over a year.

Well, dear readers, I have moved.  I am now a New Yorker.  For the last year. Without mentioning it. I mean, Glasgow and NYC are pretty much the same, right?


It’s been an interesting ride and I’d love to tell you about it, but that’s for another time and another blog. Perhaps one on teaching and learning, rather than just learning. Perhaps one on middle-schoolers. Maybe something people want to read that has nothing to do with my personal life.

You’ll just have to wait and see.

Five Things I Learned About Driving in LA

31 Mar

Driving in LA is a whole new world of controlling a car.

And after my recent thoughts on visiting the lovely city of Los Angeles, here are some things I learned while living in the city.

1. If you haven’t driven in LA, you don’t know what traffic is.

But seriously

It’s taken me an hour to go a mile and a half. No exaggeration.

2. At some point, traffic will make you want to cry.

Or if you’re me, actually cry.

3. Road Rage is real.

There have been incomprehensible strings of words coming out of my mouth due to anger about someone cutting me off. I swear I’m a nice person, but it truly drives you mad. THEN THERE ARE THE OTHER PEOPLE. So many horrible gestures…

4. Turn signals are for the weak (or, you know, drivers who actually know what they’re doing).

I always use my turn signals, because I don’t want to cause an accident. BUT there are lots of people who feel that they are unnecessary/a sign of weakness.

5. Your car is your best friend.


It takes you places, it doesn’t talk back, it plays your favorite music. What’s not to love?

City Spotlight: Los Angeles

21 Mar

Honestly, I don’t know why this wasn’t the first city I tackled.  I mean, I lived here for FOUR YEARS.

The thing about LA, though, is that it’s huge and sprawling.

 LA From Griffith Park

LA From Griffith Park

The sheer size and variety make it a really difficult place to talk about in a single blog post because there is so much of it. And each part has so many wonderful things to talk about.  So, I confine myself to West LA (which is Beverley Hills, Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Culver City, Century City… this list goes on).

As a woman who has always loved things like clothes and shoes and handbags, West LA has amazing, amazing things. The shopping is incredible.  Of course, as a woman who lived here as a university student, I did a lot of window shopping and drooling over things at the Century City Mall, where I was lucky enough to work for a year or so. But there’s also the Beverley Center, 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, the rest of Santa Monica and Venice Beach,  the Grove(which has an American Girl store that I still get excited about as a childless twenty-something) and LA Farmers Market, and, obviously if you have the big bucks, Rodeo Drive.

Bev Hills

Eating is also a huge thing in LA.  There’s dineLA, which offers set menus for reduced prices at lovely restaurants all over the city and is the only way to eat well as a poverty stricken undergrad.  People are OBSESSED with food porn, though. I can’t remember the last time I ate in LA without witnessing someone either in my group or at a nearby table taking pictures of their food.  Things that stand out about food in LA for me: Mexican food (otherwise known as “food” in California), sushi, cupcakes, and the all important brunch.  If you’re visiting LA and don’t go to Sprinkles for a cupcake, by the way, you’ve made a huge life mistake.


I know you’re all thinking at this point, THE BEACH, LEIGH, THE BEACH. Okay, okay, I’ll give it to you. The beaches are incredible.  Go to literally any of them and realize that it’s not only beautiful, but a film or tv show you’ve seen has also been shot there.  Santa Monica is my personal favorite. I mean, look at it.

Santa Monica with your favorite bloggers

Santa Monica with your favorite bloggers

The city is full of everything you could ever want to see.  If you like drinking, there are SO MANY GOOD BARS.  There are play houses and huge, old movie theaters and ballet companies and sunshine and museums…

If only the traffic were always like this

If only the traffic were always like this

Have you been to LA?  Dreaming of going?  What do you love (or think you’ll love) about the city?

Dithering and Delays

11 Mar

As some of you may have noticed (and many of you may not have until I point this out), I have been MIA for three months.  Clearly, there has been a lot going on since we last met in December.

Christmas was a big deal. It was the first I spent in Scotland.

Not that I got the Gos… It’s just so festive.

Then there was Hogmanay (as they call New Years Eve here in Scotland).

Hogmanay Bonfire

Ringing in the New Year with a Bonfire.

A snow-less winter occurred.

Minimal baking happened. (Mostly this and this and some largely mediocre Mary Berry cakes.)

My thesis writing became an even large part of my life.  Basically, it’s consuming the time that I would generally spend updating my lovely little blog and keeping my friends, family, and followers entertained and abreast of my successful cooking/baking endeavors.

I also tried to come up with things to write about that wouldn’t be boring, but was mostly bored with them myself… So this is the slightly less boring account of my blogging failure.

I would love to promise, yet again, that I’ll do better, but it’s going to be pretty intermittent for the next month and a bit until I submit the thesis and finish some prep for my upcoming job.  Hang in there readers, good things are on the way! (Who knows, maybe even a recipe in the next week or so?)


16 Dec

A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to see a friend of mine who was only in Scotland a few days, The Girl with the Red Bag herself!  We met up in Edinburgh and explored the Christmas Market with her mom, which was amazing. I got some mulled cider (which in Britain is alcoholic-yum!).

Happiness in a mug

It’s so lovely to see people you haven’t in a while.  I love a reunion.  While the parting is always really sad, there is something so wonderful about seeing someone you care about for the first time in a long time.  They remind you why having relationships that span continents and oceans are worth it.

Photo credit goes entirely to The Girl with the Red Bag (and her mom). Isn’t she great?

Only 9 More Days ‘Til Christmas!

Gobble Gobble

28 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!  I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by friends and family.  Spread the love and be grateful for the little things.  

And tomorrow, Christmas music and shopping! Sheer joy.

Holiday Time

26 Nov

The holidays are rapidly approaching, my dear readers.  How did it get so late in the year so quickly? How do I still have so much to do in SO LITTLE TIME?  I have my own reasons to be asking myself these questions (think a long lingering cold and 30,000 words to write in 3 months), but I’m sure you all have your own.

The end of this week will begin my mad dash to purchase all of the holiday gifts I could possibly want to send to my friends and family in the USA from stores in Britain to ensure receipt on or before Christmas.

Starting tomorrow I will be comfortably enveloped in my kitchen for 2 days cooking Thanksgiving dinner for twelve! This is the biggest group I’ve ever single-handedly cooked for, so wish me luck!

Finally a rush to finish Christmas shopping and the lovely deep breath that is Christmas morning.  A deep breath inspired by my lack of stressful things to do.

Here are some things that indicate “that time of year” is upon us to me:

Those red cups

I know, I know. I’m playing into corporate America’s takeover of the season, but they’re just so festive I couldn’t help myself.

I can see my breath all the time.

This is a new thing for me.  In California, I would mention that this would happen in the mornings, but in Glasgow it’s an all the time, even from my nose kind of a thing.

Canned, pureed pumpkin en mass.

So much pumpkin-y goodness

That’s right. That is four cans of pumpkin on my kitchen counter. NBD.

Corn Chowder Cravings.

I know this one is just me, but my dad always makes it in the winter time. No matter how old I get, when it’s chilly, this is a food I wish I had.

Twinkly lights are everywhere.

Glasgow Loves Christmas

Glasgow has a whole marketing campaign for its lights and shopping called “Glasgow loves Christmas.” It’s totally true.

My desire for butter and carbohydrates.

mmm... butter

My body really wants to bulk up for the short, cold, dark days that lie ahead.  It’s both wonderful and rude.

This sweater.

Reindeer Jumper!

I’ve been looking for a reindeer sweater for literally two years.  I saw this one and needed it.

What are some of your cues that the holidays are upon us?

City [Island] Spotlight: Orkney Islands

10 Nov

I was lucky enough to spend some time recently in the lovely Orkney Islands about a week ago.  If you have any interest in the outdoors, it is definitely a place you should visit.  Orkney is a place where the sea and sky are so big (and so far north) you can just make out the curvature of the Earth in a way I’ve never seen before.

A pleasant walk along the sea cliffs at Marwick Head.

A lovely walk along the sea cliffs at Marwick Head and the Kitchener Memorial

Orkney has some of the oldest permanent human settlements in the world. (They’re from the Neolithic era- some 5,000 years old!)

Skara Brae- the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe

Skara Brae- the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe

The stones above are actually the walls of houses.  Pretty impressive for the Stone Age! Orkney also has an impressive array of standing stones (like the famous Stone Henge in Wiltshire, England), some of which pop out of farm fields and literally have fences around them to keep the sheep from leaning up against them.  In addition, there are  Neolithic tombs; one of which looks like a random grass hill (also in the middle of a field)-Maeshowe- and the other of which requires entry on your belly on a skateboard-like apparatus because the entrance is so low-Tomb of the Eagles.

Unnecessary sign near Tomb of the Eagles

Sign at cliff edge near Tomb of the Eagles

There is far more to do on this small set of islands than can be done in 4 days, but I highly recommend making the long trek north; it’s well worth it.

A reminder for those of you who are not familiar with Scottish weather- bring a waterproof jacket with a hood!! Orkney is SUPER windy and when it’s raining, an umbrella is no match for the high speed gusts.  We were told that you can always spot a tourist because they are the only people crazy enough to be carrying an umbrella.

Judgmental Cow

Judgmental Cow

This highly amusing, judgmental-looking cow we ran into near Marwick Head completes this Island Spotlight (because what would a City Spotlight section without a funny animal).

Have you ever been to Orkney? What was your experience?

Pirates and Princesses: Small Children, Cute Costumes

1 Nov

Halloween always brings me back to childhood, when I had so many ideas for what to be that it was difficult to pick just one.  I think my favorite costume was the formal dress Belle wore in Beauty and the Beast that my mom made me when I was 4 or 5.  She worked so hard on it and it was so much prettier than anything we could have found in a store.  I wore it until I was far too big for it if I could muster an excuse to look like a princess.  As an adult, I rarely partake in Halloween beyond the consuming and passing out of copious amounts of mini candy bars.

Last night, a lot of children were running around my neighborhood all dressed up for Halloween.  We got no trick-or-treaters, but did watch costumed families frolicking through the streets with tons of candy.

Disney Candy Bag

I’ll leave you today with some fun articles related to my all time favorite conglomerate, Disney!  This one discusses the problems with “princessification” and a lack of real, strong female icons for young girls. And, although I do wish Disney made their female characters more realistic, Disneyland is truly the happiest place on Earth, so some Disneyland “secrets” should be shared.

Roasted, Stuffed Harlequin Squash

20 Oct

About a week ago, I wandered into the supermarket and noticed an array of fall squash. Upon closer inspection, I found a fascinating looking one that I couldn’t help but buy for the sheer novelty of it. I had no clue what to do with it and came up with almost no recipes in my search. I thought I would share the lovely recipe that came from the purchase of a pretty vegetable.  The Roasted, Stuffed Harlequin Squash.

Harlequin Squash

I know what you’re thinking, “Another stuffed thing, Leigh?” I know, I know.  But there is a reason I stuff so many things! They’re delightful!

Halved Squash

And just look at it.  It needed to be filled with something wonderful.

FInished Squash

Roasted, Stuffed Harlequin Squash

Serves 2 (inspired by this recipe)


  • 1 Harlequin Squash or about 2 pounds of any other sweet squash, like acorn or even butternut.
  • butter (to grease tray)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/3 cup whole grain rice
  • 3/4 cup hot vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (at least one tbsp, but if you like parsley as much as I do, add more)

To Serve

  • Fresh parsley
  • (optional) Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F, 200°C.  Lightly grease a baking tray with a bit of butter, set aside.  Wash, halve, and seed the squash- be sure to have a really sharp, large knife!  The seeds can be saved for later and roasted as well!  Cut 1/2 inch section from each half of squash. Peel and chop into small pieces.  Place squash halves on pan and in the oven to roast for about 40-45 minutes, or until soft all the way through.

While the squash is in the oven, finish vegetable prep.  Heat oil in pan and add the onion,  garlic, and pepper; stir until soft, about 5 ish minutes.    Add rice, squash, and stock and stir for about a minute.  Leave on heat and cover to allow complete absorption of liquid, interrupting to stir, for about 20 minutes.  When rice is cooked through and squash is soft, remove from heat and add the lemon juice and parsley.

Remove the squash from the oven and fill with rice, squash mixture.  Place in oven for an additional 5 minutes.  Serve with a little sprig of parsley and, if you feel like a really rich dinner, some freshly grated parmesan cheese.