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…)

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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!

Coffee

30 Aug

I’m anticipating that at some point this blog will have a post dedicated to all of the great loves of my life. Some I’ve certainly already discussed, chocolate being the most prominent, and some lay as of yet uncovered.  On of the things high up on my list currently is coffee.  I find that my morning isn’t quite right without it anymore.  It provides time to take in the day and think or just laze about in one’s pajamas because you’re not done with your coffee yet.

I started using a french press, in the UK the much fancier sounding cafetiere,  in college and have become a believer.  I’m not enough of a coffee aficionado to tell you why I like it, but coffee just always seems, well, better.

French Press

AND it has a bunch of positive health effects, is lo cal (even with milk!), and a wonderful social beverage that has fewer drawbacks then, say, gin.  In a country where it’s cool and often cloudy, nothing puts a smile on my face like a good friend (or Matthew!) and a lovely cup of joe.

Good to the last drop

Do your morning rituals normally include coffee?  Have any recommended brands (either in the UK or the US)?

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!

Nutella Swirl Banana Loaf

15 Jun

Earlier in the week, I did something I never thought I would do.  I added something to my banana bread.  Now, I’m not really a fan of things in my breads.  I don’t generally like nuts or chunks or chocolate chips in them (except walnuts in my pumpkin bread, which, honestly, is amazing) or cream cheese or butter or any other spread on them.  Just give me plain fruit/vegetable loaf.

But let me tell you, I’ve been converted.  After seeing nutella added to just about every baked good on Pinterest and trying some very mediocre no-flour-just-sugar-and-nutella cookies there, I decided to take  inspiration from Pinterest (or should I say PINspiration, eh? Right, never again) and add nutella to my banana bread recipe.

IMG_0439

The bread was a huge comfort for the two days it lasted between two people- whoops- as I’ve been agonizing about my thesis.  Now the angst is over, I’ll give you fewer stress recipes and, hopefully, more interesting ones.  I feel that all you know I can bake is various breads!

Note that this is a loaf and not a bread.  As much as I like to delude myself about banana bread not being a dessert, but an acceptable snack, the added nutella makes it very cake-like in terms of sweetness and sugar content.   I didn’t use quite enough nutella when I made it (an obviously foolish mistake), so use the full amount! Best enjoyed with someone you really love because you won’t want to share!

Nutella Swirl Banana LoafNutella Swirl Banana Loaf

Subtract the nutella and you get my regular banana bread recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (113g) butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 mashed bananas (mashed to your chunk preferred level)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup nutella

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease/butter a loaf tin.  Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and mix until combined.  Mix in nutmeg and bananas.  Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Heat nutella in microwave for 15 seconds or pop in oven for a few minutes.  Pour alternating layers of batter and nutella into the loaf tin.  Swirl with knife to give pretty marbled look.  Bake for about 1 hour.  Leave to cool.  Slice and enjoy!

 

 

Happy June!

3 Jun

As you may have noted, I have taken a little hiatus from blogging the last few weeks.  I have been so unexpectedly busy!  In addition to a wonderful visit with a very special guest (my mom!), I’ve been running around with Matthew and enjoying the sun while trying to keep up with my thesis.  Basically, I’ve been trying to enjoy the summer for a wee while because I don’t really get to have one this year…

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

While I was away from you, I was running around Scotland. In addition to hanging about a village near Glasgow, my mom and I ended up in the Highlands!  I’ve been up before, but not nearly as far.  Can I just tell you how stunning it is up there in the Spring?  I couldn’t believe it.  All of those things you hear are true.  And get this: the whole time we were there, it was sunny.  Simply amazing. Inverness and Loch Ness, you have not seen the last of this girl.  There was also a trip to St. Andrews where we hung out with this girl.  We also did some touristy things in Glasgow, which I thoroughly enjoyed, including the Glasgow Necropolis (go if you haven’t, it’s literally awesome), the Willow Tea Room (great if you love Mackintosh), the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery.

I have eaten more in the last three weeks than I could possibly describe, so I’m not even going to try.  I will say, however, that I’m getting concerned about what might happen with my jeans and that the running needs to commence this week…  I would provide a recipe for you all, but I’ve been sticking to old favorites recently.  I suspect that this week will bring something good though.  I hope you’re enjoying the first week of June!  (How did the first half of the year flash by so quickly!?)

May Changes

13 May

The last few days have not been the most exciting in terms of blogging.  It was my birthday, celebrated with coffee, gratin dauphinois, this cake, and red wine.  I can finally call a hand mixer part of my baking collection, which, I must say, had excellent timing as Matthew got me Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.  I now have enough baking recipes to, perhaps, never scour the internet again for something delicious.  That being said, I do have a slavish devotion to searching food blogs when I’m bored, so perhaps multiple sources of inspiration will continue to exist.

The weather did, as predicted stop being summer-like the following day and has been overcast or rainy every day since.  The sun has unexpectedly come out a few times today

for fleeting periods between torrential (or, you know, pretty heavy) downpours.  It’s days like this that make me really glad that I don’t have to go to university for classes so I can sit inside and hibernate when it’s awful outside and take a wee walk when the clouds part for long enough to enjoy the sun.

I”m thinking of doing a bit of maintenance to the blog, changing the layout a bit and maybe adding an index?  I know right now I don’t have a ton of recipes, but I think it would be useful to be able to have a space where you can find what you’re looking for and discover something you haven’t been.  I’m also thinking that I’m going to try to publish a recipe a week.  Don’t hold me to any of this yet, as I am writing 30,000 word Master’s thesis in addition to trying to live life.  If you see any changes, don’t freak out; it’s still me!  I would love any suggestions you might have for recipes or blog updates!

I leave you with a visible change, my front garden!

March

March

May

May