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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?)

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!

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!

Monday, Monday (and Stuffed Mushrooms)

15 Apr

Although this weekend was less than fun (it was cloudy with a few fleeting glimpses of sun and Matthew was studying all weekend), at least it was full of good food and good television programming.  I made stuffed mushrooms Saturday night, a roast chicken last night, and delicious parmesan crusted pesto grilled cheese for lunch both days.  Matthew and I have started watching a show called Firefly, which had a brief run in 2002, and I started the first season of Downton Abby yesterday.  In addition, I managed to get a fair amount of work done.

Today looks to be equally thrilling, registering at a doctor’s office and getting a library card being at the top of my to do list.  Hopefully I’ll also get some writing done today.  I haven’t done any literary or film analysis in months, so I’m a bit nervous that what I do end up with will be lower quality than what I generally produce.  I suppose that’s what drafts are for!

I leave you my mushrooms and a wee warning.  You should definitely check this BBC article out if you’re a wordpress.com user yourself.  Apparently someone/a group of someones is hacking fairly successfully into many people’s accounts.  Make sure your password is strong enough!

Stuffed MushroomsStuffed Mushrooms A La Leigh

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 large mushrooms (I used large chestnut, but you could also use portabella)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes (roma sized), chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup rice (I used basmati, but I really think any kind would be excellent)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • butter or oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • dried basil

Preheat the oven to 180°C (or about 350°F).  Cook rice while chopping up vegetables.  Over a medium high heat, heat butter in frying pan and add onion.  After about 2 minutes, add pepper.  Cook until onion is beginning to brown and add tomatoes and spices, to taste.  When rice has finished cooking, add the vegetables to the rice.  Grate in parmesan to taste (about 1/4-1/2 cup).  Place mushrooms on a baking sheet and pour mixture into mushrooms.  Cover the tops with mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 8 minutes, and serve.

Speaking Like a Brit

12 Apr

I stumbled upon a NY Times article today (admittedly suggested by Cup of Jo, a wonderful blog if you like girl things, as the article was written by her husband) discussing the use of Britishisms by Americans.  I had never really thought about it before, but I use them all the time.  I use cheers daily, call my living area a flat, and have even unconsciously come out with “aye” recently.  Because I do live in Scotland (and have been here a total of some 10 1/2 months total) and have a Scottish partner, this is both less surprising and less annoying than it may otherwise be.  I probably would have ended up picking some of the terms up any way.  Between my friends’ study abroad trips to the UK, my mom’s Australian roommate in the 70s, and general pop culture, how could I have missed or resisted gems like ginger or bloody hell?  Basically I’m just hoping that someone stops me and tells me if they think my Britishisms are terribly annoying.

In the daily Britishness that is my life at the moment, I’ve been doing more work with inclusion.  I’m having a bit of a hard time finding American legislation on this, but I suspect that some will pop up the minute I’ve posted this post.  Interestingly, it appears that the US initially signed on to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a convention that would impact how the US educates individuals with physical and mental disabilities, and then failed to ratify it.  The UK, on the other hand,  has not only ratified it, but also incorporated it into their education legislation in recent years.  What do you think about educational inclusion?  Do you think it’s a big issue where you are?

Happy Spring!

21 Mar

It’s not really Spring yet here in Glasgow, although we did see some sun late yesterday and earlier today.  The daffodils are threatening to bloom, the weather is nearly in the 40s, and the sun is almost out more often.

I have an interim review coming up for my thesis, which is mildly terrifying.  I can’t believe I’m halfway through my research period.  Am I half way done with my research, you may ask.  Not at all.  I suppose I am close to a third of the way through, but I feel like the first 3 months were such a bust.  Now that I know what I’m doing, I’m moving so much more quickly, I wish I could pretend that I had started in January rather than October!  Oh well.  I’ve been working a lot this week (hence the multiple blog posts for a break) and am looking forward to a weekend of completing the prereview things I need to do and doing a round of spring cleaning.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

While I’ve been working, Matthew has also been killing himself to finish up his term.  I can’t get over how early classes end here.  The students at UCLA still have a full 10 weeks of teaching plus finals.  From here on out for Matthew, it’s all about studying for a mass of exams that cover a year’s worth of topics.  Because of his stress (and my love of baking), today I made a giant batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Around 60, in fact.  Our neighbors might love me as much as Matthew does soon because I might just leave small parcels of cookies in their mail boxes to get rid of some of them…  I tried out a new recipe from, yet again, Deb on Smitten Kitchen and it turned out wonderfully!  I usually add or subtract little things from recipes, but I decided to bake straight from the recipe today and damn was it a good choice.  I don’t want to know how many Matthew has consumed and I’ve already eaten 4.  Thank god tonight we’re eating a salad for dinner…

Food for Thought

Multitasking

11 Mar

It something we’re all guilty- me perhaps more than others.  As I sit here writing this blog post, I’m listening to the boyfriend play guitar, thinking about my thesis, drinking tea, eating poppy seed and sesame crackers, doing laundry- I just stopped to hang it- and planning dinner.  I think, typically, my ability to multitask is a demonstration of efficiency.  It drives me a bit barmy (to quote a lovely English friend of mine) that Matthew can’t seem to put his gloves on and tell me a story at the same time.    It definitely gets in the way of finishing things or putting in singular effort; not that I can’t do this, I usually just choose not to.

As I continue my work on autism’s representation in fictional media, I find myself involved in looking at educational inclusion of those with disabilities with hopes to positively correlate representation, perception, and inclusion.  Schools, it seems, are also trying to multitask with our children and are largely failing.  They are trying to implement too many new things at one time without fixing the fundamental issues.  I am pro inclusion where appropriate, but, unfortunately, the system at most schools needs to change in order to effectively education children with and without special educational needs in one place.  It breaks my heart to know that teachers feel overwhelmed by students in their classes with needs they don’t know how to properly address, that parents feel that their children are in the wrong place or not getting the education that student deserves, and that the students themselves are unhappy and/or bullied.  The legislation is in place; now schools need to challenge themselves to live up to it and the government needs to provide the appropriate funds so that they can deliver it.  I have many a rant on the educational system, this is just a small chunk of a new one.

Tonight, when I’ve finished with some work, I’m making enchiladas (recipe courtesy of the amazing Emma).  It is a recipe that multitasks only in that the chicken ones will be using the leftover chicken from the roast Matthew and I had for dinner two nights ago.  He made a lovely soup last night from homemade stock, so tonight is my turn.  These puppies are dangerously good in a country that is nearly devoid of Mexican food.  They really make me hanker for a giant, cheap burrito or chile verde from a local Mexican restaurant.  *drool*  I’d provide a recipe, but since it isn’t mine (or posted on the internet), I’m going to keep it all for myself.

Crazy, Beautiful, and Productive

27 Feb

My life of late has been pretty much the same.  I feel that since I am living in a foreign country I should be doing a lot more exciting fun things, but, let’s face it, this place is my life now.  I can’t afford to run around the UK because I have to actually make a life for myself so I don’t go insane.  As much as I love the adventure that my life has become, some semblance of normalcy is required.

This past week, though, has been a bit more exciting than normal because a friend of mine from St. Andrews came to visit.  We did all sorts of things that I haven’t done in such a long time.  It made me remember how much I like this city, even if Glasgow is a bit rough around the edges.  Also, I had the best piece of cheesecake I’ve ever eaten.  It’s been 3 days since the pecan cheesecake from Willow Tea Rooms entered my life and I still can’t stop talking about it.  If ever you are in Glasgow looking for Mackintosh architecture, a fairly nice atmosphere, and great cheesecake, go there folks.

We were also lucky enough to have the most beautiful weather in months the past few days.  It was brilliantly sunny, it wasn’t bitterly cold, and, because I had time blocked out for my friend, I got to enjoy it!  Today is actually foggy (very odd), but it looks like sun as far as the weather app on my iphone can see!  I doubt that will actually happen, but it’s a nice thing to imagine.

In addition to all of this fun, the literature review portion of my thesis is starting to take shape.  I’m in the very early stages, of course, but it’s generally outlined and much of the first section is done.  I’m so excited to have finally started writing.  It makes the whole project a lot more tangible and has put me on a better path to actually get things done.  I need to have lots more than I’ve finished done by Friday though, so hopefully I’ll have a successful working day today.  If you have any suggestions of scholarly work I should check out, I’d be more than happy to know about it!  Wish me luck on writing about all things psychologically related to autism!

Pancakes and Disability Theory

13 Feb

Yesterday was certainly not the most exciting day of being a grad student I’ve ever had.  The weather was less than pleasant, despite my weather app’s indication that it would be sunny (lying rat), so I spent the day filing online job applications and reading a book for my thesis, Representing Autism by Stuart Murray, one of the few scholars I’ve been able to find invested in autism’s representation in fictional media.  As interesting and helpful as this book is, it is almost certainly not as enjoyable as, say, Terrorist by John Updike, which is currently sitting on my shelf, calling my name.  Murray’s book has, however, inspired some new thoughts for my thesis in addition to providing me with countless opportunities to thank heaven that someone else has worked on this topic and demonstrated eloquently the large number of reasons it is important to research.

On a more delicious note, yesterday was also Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday for those not in the know).  For whatever reason (I’m assuming it has to do with celebration before the giving up of things on Lent), the Brits have decided that it is a day to eat pancakes.  I am wholeheartedly embracing this.  Matthew volunteered to make them, scoffing at the idea of my American buttermilk variety.  His were lovely, although I am still partial to buttermilk- especially those made by my former roommate and good friend Emily, which are AMAZING.

On that note of delicious foods, we’re off to see a movie on this snowy turned rainy Wednesday.  I know I’m going to really enjoy it once I”m in the theater, but freezing rain is a bit daunting…  Enjoy your day!

Beginning Again

17 Jan

Happy New Year!

After a ridiculously long hiatus, I’m back!  The last month and a half has been very busy and filled with the strangest holidays I have ever had.  Although I spent the vast majority of my break with my family, I managed to see most of my best friends (in addition to most of the state of California- from LA to San Francisco).

I’m now back in Glasgow trying to get back into the swing of being chilly.  I’ve come equipped with foot warmers and those wonderful fleece wellington liners for warmer feet and some new sweaters.  It was 2 degrees today (35 for those of you on Fahrenheit) and I’m embracing it. Tomorrow is supposed to be 2 again with a chance of snow.  I’ve spent enough time outside recently to appreciate the cold and relative clear, but I am not planning on being out much this weekend.  I’m tucking in for some serious Skype sessions and working on my thesis up the wazoo.  I have a plan now, which is SO exciting.  I’m definitely ready to start on a more productive and procedured journey.  I have about 9 months to finish my research.  Only 22 films, 23 novels, and numerous television shows to go.  In addition to at least one critical book on my subject, one master’s thesis, and heaven only knows how many articles.

All of this makes me want to bake.  My boyfriend’s mother bought me a loaf pan for Christmas; thus, pumpkin bread is in my future.  Now to find a suitable recipe…