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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.

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

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?)

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?

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.

City Spotlight: San Diego, California

12 Oct

From SanDiego.com- I’m clearly not this talented

While I was home, I got to explore the city of San Diego with Matthew. When I got back to the UK, the experience of going somewhere unfamiliar and wishing I knew it a little better inspired me to do a [hopefully] monthly series of posts focusing on cities I’ve visited and loved.  I hope I shine a light on a new place you one day get to visit!

Although I grew up in California, I hadn’t been to San Diego since I was 5, so it felt like a whole new place to [nearly] grown up Leigh.  It’s a lovely city with a very laid back vibe, which was unexpected based on the stress of my drive and experiences living in LA!  San Diego has a large military presence, which gave me the most patriotic feeling I had had in a very long time.  I highly recommend the Embarcadero, where the USS Midway is docked as a floating maritime museum, complete with aircraft from various US conflicts.  The Embarcadero has oceanside views (see the following photo) and an assortment of characters from active duty military, to British tourists (ahem), to locals walking their dogs.  Nearby is Seaport Village, a cute assortment of shops and small restaurants also on the water.

'Merica

‘Merica

The Gaslamp Quarter, near the San Diego Convention Center, simply comes alive at night.  The area is filled with small shops and wonderful restaurants and bars that attract people of all ages.

Nearby is the lovely Balboa Park.  If you have kids (or not!), these are wonderful places to be.  Balboa Park has museums and performing arts, not to mention the famous San Diego Zoo.  While Matthew and I didn’t get to spend much time in the park itself, we did get to go to the zoo!  Although it was wicked hot, the highlight of being in San Diego for me was getting to watch the baby panda nurse in the middle of the day, a rare occurrence- pandas usually only allow their cubs to eat at night.  I didn’t get any blog-worthy photos of it, so instead I leave you with pleased and displeased alpacas, creatures I will forever find highly amusing.    

Sarcastic Alpaca at SD Zoo

Sarcastic Alpaca at SD Zoo

Get yourself to San Diego- a Californian gem. (Maybe just wait until the government reopens…)

Autumn

4 Oct

Leaves

The first day of autumn has come and gone, and I haven’t posted since!  I know I said there would not be another hiatus, but I was wrong.

I went home for a couple of weeks and hung out with Matthew in San Diego, Los Angeles, and on the central coast.  It was nice to be back in my natural habitat.

Highway 1

Highway 1

I got back to Scotland two weeks ago.  I had my last first day of school.  I’ve killed myself finishing up my thesis research. I spent time outside. I started watching Breaking Bad.

Newest Television Problem

But now it’s October and I’m in Scotland, so it’s time to crack back down to work and my little blog.  The leaves outside are changing, so don’t be surprised if you see some here too!  I’m hoping for some new things this year (like consistency…), so if you like something that I’ve done, I’d love to hear from you!

Apples

Happy Autumn!

The Secret Garden

7 Aug

This past week, I read the children’s novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a physical book I remember from childhood, but don’t remember actually reading. I think I have a hard back copy sitting on a shelf in my bedroom at home with a dark green, leafy pattern on the jacket.

Parts of Glasgow have, in a sense, become my own secret garden. Although they are far from secret, there is something that wakes up in me as I wander through green spaces with lovely flora and fauna. Now is the time in life to stop and smell the roses.

IMG_0496

Rose

Flowers

Living Life Cameraless

31 Jul
Test Kitchen Cookie+Trusty Spreads

Test Kitchen Cookie+Trusty Spreads

Remember that recipe I promised would be up by the end of last week?  Noticed a lack of recipe?  Well, I have come to defend myself for my own inconsistency.  I made the cookies,  I ate the cookies, but the cookies should stay in the “test kitchen” portion of my life.  I took a tried and true cookie recipe, substituted peanut butter for 1/2 the butter and things got sticky.  Literally, the dough was thick and sticky.  Not sticky in a good way though, but in a the-chocolate-chips-won’t-fold-into-the-dough kind of way.  I did, however, put peanut butter and nutella between two this afternoon, and was pretty happy.  Decent cookies, just not cookies I’d encourage others to make.  A shout out to a friend of mine who stayed with me last week though for telling me that I’m a good baker anyway!

I realized today (while spreading my two favorite things on cookie, mind you) that I’ve become a person that doesn’t really document things.  When the flash on my camera broke over a year ago, I never bothered fixing it.  Because I’m terrified of breaking my precious iPhone, I don’t whip it out and take pictures unless I’m nearly guaranteed its safe return to my handbag.  I don’t mind this though.  I know it makes for less entertaining blogging (sorry guys), but I’m happy to say that I’m able to live my life without constantly needing to take 18 pictures of myself eating and walking and baking and doing yoga and studying and writing and reading.  And, though I may have been converted to just about every social media platform, I don’t need to take and share photographic evidence of my life.  Thanks little blog for teaching me that.

I leave you with a John Mayer song that sums up my feelings very neatly.

P.S. check out this wonderful vegetarian fajita recipe my friend Emma sent me- healthy and reducing the impact eating meat has on the planet! (It’s my dinner tonight!) http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/roasted-chickpea-fajitas/

Hiatus

22 Jul

Clearly I ended up taking a month off, albeit completely unplanned.  I’d like to promise that it will never happen again, but let’s be honest, I’m doing an MPhil and working and trying to entertain friends (and a wonderful dog for a couple of days) and actually take a breather and watch some quality films.

Not exactly blogging weather

Not exactly blogging weather

It’s been lovely here (still! it’s like a summer miracle that Glasgow has been nicer than home in California!) so I’ve been spending a lot of time outside.

I’ve baked two batches of peanut butter brownies in a month as parting food. If you haven’t tried these yet, seriously, you must because they are perhaps the best baked good ever and I can take no credit for anything about them other than being able to exactly, faithfully replicate a recipe.

That and working like mad both on a thesis and at a job, blogging things have not exactly been on my mind.  I promise, though, that I’ll be better AND that I’ll have rolled out a recipe for something amazing (think cookies) by the beginning of next week.

In news related to my country of residence, THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE IS IN LABOR!! Get excited.  I know I am.

First Day of Summer

21 Jun

Happy summer boys and girls!  Today is the longest period of daylight I’ve ever experienced, sunrise was at 4:29 am and sunset at 10:05 pm.  Quite the turn around from the oh so dark days of winter.  I’m delighted to be in the warmest season of the year here in Glasgow.  Everything is so green, which is so odd to my SoCal senses. I keep expecting something close by to turn brown and catch on fire.  I love being surrounded (year round, in fact) by luscious greenery.  I don’t think it will ever get old.  The earth here just looks so healthy all the time.  This is not what I’m used to in the summer.

Kelvingrove Flowers

I mean, let’s be honest here.  Once it’s May in Southern California, it looks a lot more like this.

854

Perhaps a picture of the desert is a liiitttttle bit of an exaggeration, but you catch my drift.

One of my intended big undertakings this week was to bake a swiss roll cake, something that looks terrifying, not because of the actual baking, but because of the rolling of cake after the baking.  I’m especially nervous about this due to, well, the lack of grace in my favorite food blogger’s early attempts at this kind of cake.  I’ll go at it best tips in hand, but let me tell you, I’m afraid!  Of course, the reason I’m telling you about my nerves and not sharing this cake in any of its potential formations is because it didn’t  happen this week.  I had a presentation for my thesis, so all baking exploits were put on the back burner.  Soon my 20 followers, soon!