Around the World in 180 Days

A journey across the Atlantic and into matrimony

NYC Part 1: Funkytown October 4, 2010

Filed under: travel — rhet @ 9:14 pm


To make the most of our trip the the States, we broke it up into 3 parts. First we flew into Philly and spent a couple of days at my parent’s place, getting over jetlag and spending quality time with my immediate family. I was soo glad we did this, it was really helpful to be acclimated to the weather and time change before getting to the city because boy did we keep ourselves busy! Where my family vacations tend to be the ‘lounge by the beach’ types, T’s family goes for the ‘itinerary full to the max’ variety.

the funky entrance

our all yellow bathroom, complete with floor to ceiling glass wall in the shower!

For the first half of the week, we stayed in a really hip, modern hotel in the Lower East Side. Our room was on the 19th floor, right below the penthouse suite and the view was stunning.Also, the bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on EVER and it was massive. When T and I went to sleep, we didn’t even touch let alone whack eachother during the night!

the room!

I really liked the neighborhood as well, full of cute little boutiques, bars with great music and it had a great atmosphere.  The first floor of the hotel turned into a hoppin’ night club in the evening and it was really fun to come back in the evening, greeted by extremly friendly bouncers who let us in ahead of all the people waiting to get inside. Definitely makes a person feel VIP!

Another one of my favorite things about the area was Babycakes Bakery. They’re cakes and cookies are so tasty that you’d never know they were vegan! Alright, you might guess that they’re not normal baked goods but they’re still delicious enough for it not to matter which is an impressive feat in my eyes.  I really enjoyed having a drink at Spitzer’s Corner as well, with their giant windows that opened up onto the street which makes for a great people watching spot. There are tons of places that do this in Glasgow as well, but I have to say, a NYC summer makes it even nicer!

they had a huge selection of beer on tap, I had the Speakeasy Prohibition Ale!

We were really lucky to have fabulous weather during the whole week. We definitely took advantage of this and used the Staten Island Ferry as a good (free!) way to see the skyline from a bit of a distance. And who doesn’t love a free boat ride?

Coming soon: NYC part 2: Ritzytown!

i don't really know what that means..

lady liberty!


Summer Highlights October 1, 2010

Filed under: daily life,food,travel — rhet @ 2:30 pm

I know it’s been a while folks, I kind of lost my zeal as is wont to happen to us mercurial Geminis, but as my 1 year anniversary of being in the UK approaches, I thought I’d pop back in and update!

I’ve definitely feel like I’m becoming more British over the last few months. I went from really hating Indian food and completely baffled by the Brit’s love affair with it to being able to enjoy a good curry every now and then! I absolutely love a few Hobnobs with a cup of tea on a rainy day, lemon curd on toast and a steamy steak and ale pie.


It’s not all about the food though, I’ve also acquired a sexy pair of Hunter wellies since Glasgow’s last winter destroyed a total of 3 pairs of shoes not including all the feet soakings I got. Not this year! As of next week I’ll be working at Greggs and am praying I’ve gotten the accent down and can make change with those funny little coins fast enough!

Despite my best efforts at Britishization and to the disappointment of my friends and family, when I came home to visit over the summer, I had no noticeable accent myself. Ah well, maybe next year!

We had a great time in the States though, getting the most out of the trip by spending the first week of our trip in NYC with the hubby’s family and the last 2 weeks at my parents house in Pennsylvania. It worked out really well because in NYC we were all go go go, visiting as many museums, art galleries, cocktail bars and restaraunts as we physically could and when we got to PA, we got to lounge by the pool, do some reading and just generally visit and hang out! Glorious.

my parents pool, or paradise as I call it

wii bowling outside on the deck!

We also had a wedding reception for all my friends and family who couldn’t make it to our ‘real’ wedding in Glasgow. I wore my dress and all the accoutrements and T dressed up all schnazzy (wearing his full suit would have killed him in the July heat so a nice linen outfit was chosen instead). I knew I too would die if I kept my dress on the whole day so a couple days before the party I suggested that when we’d both had enough of the heat, we’d jump into the pool with our clothes on which would be 1. AWESOME and 2. give us an excuse to go change. T was skeptical of this idea. But when it came time for us to cut the cake during the party,  T bravely smashed a huge slice allllll over my face. And so to get him back I decide we would indeed be jumping into the pool. What a blast that was! I wish we had a picture of us holding hands, jumping in together but it was pretty spontaneous so no one really had their cameras ready in time. I’ll certainly remember that moment forever though!

I’m so glad I got to spend so much time with my family! Spending 3 weeks in the US during the height of summer also made it easier to deal with Glasgow’s almost complete lack of summer. Now it’s starting to get dark early again, but at least I can look back at my sunny pics with my family and look forward to dry feet with my wellies!


Get Sprung April 7, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 12:21 pm
Tags: ,

window box and teacup flowers

After enduring my first dreary winter in Glasgow, I’m definitely ready for spring. To help get our flat feeling more cheery, T and I took a trip to Home Base (the UK equivalent to Home Depot or Lowes) for some window boxes and lots of pretty things to fill them with. Neither of us have ever really grown anything on our own so when deciding on how many plants we’d need to fill the boxes, we totally overestimated leaving us with nearly 2 dozen extra flowers. Whoops! So with no more windows to put a box in, we scrounged around for anything to stick them in and came up with mason jars and teacups to a pretty lovely result if I do say so myself! I love being able to make use of all the charity shop teacups we bought for the wedding, instead of having them packed away in a box. Now let’s hope I have my mother’s green thumb!

In other domestic news, our rogue washing machine which was broken for about 3 weeks, and holding most of my favorite clothes hostage (thanks to it being a front loading machine with the handy feature of auto-locking the door) has finally been restored to working order! It only took more than a dozen phone calls to the letting agency’s maintenance department..

oooh shiny

And we’ve finally acquired a toaster! Color me easily amused but as a person who really loves toast (or pretty much any sort of carb that can be shoved in a toaster) using the grill built into the oven just doesn’t cut it. Not only does it take forever, but by the time you pull the slices out to butter ’em up, they’re cold and the butter won’t melt.  Certainly a flaw for any supposed toasting device in my opinion.  Our new toaster, however, has all the bells n whistles including variable browning control as the box describes it, which cracks me up every time I think about it.


TXT March 28, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 12:13 pm

Brits are text crazy. I noticed this first when I moved here and all of the plans the hubby made with friends were via text. Obviously, Americans text a lot too. For example, one of my friends from high school sent enough messages to win $10,000 from AT&T in a texting contest.

But here, even my dentist sends me reminders about my appointments via text as has the UK Border Agency just now***. The hubby and I signed up for our phone plans via text. A couple of days ago, I bought tickets to see a band via text. Every other commercial (or advert as theyd call it here) on TV is promoting some service you can sign up for with a few quick taps.

The hubby and I were even able to donate to the British charity Sport Relief with a quick text after watching the inspiring story of Eddie Izzard. (He ran 43 some marathons in 51 days from London, up to Glasgow and back! The documentary “Marathon Man” is definitely with watching, check it out here on the BBC iPlayer)

*** My interview with the Border Agency for my next visa (the one that will let me stay for another 2 years) is tomorrow! Wish me luck!


Class Culture March 17, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 5:23 am

Years ago, when T tried to explain the class culture of the UK, I stubbornly didn’t believe him. I thought, surely in these modern times, class isn’t that big of a deal and that the UK couldn’t be all that different from the US when it came to class. Well, it turns out I was wrong and the guy who is native to the country actually knew what he was talking about! Go figure.

It dawned on me the other day when I was thinking about how something as simple as a haircut could demonstrate ones class here. With certain styles, sporting X cut means you are of X class. I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but generally if you wear a chavy hairsyle, people will assume you are a chav*.  And unless my memories of the homeland are slipping away faster than I thought, I can’t come up with one single haircut that would so clearly define a person in the US.

Now, I’m just using haircuts as an example here, as the same goes for a persons clothes among other things. Obviously in the US (and pretty much anywhere in the world really), you can get a pretty good idea about someone by how they’re dressed and how they present themselves but it’s becoming more and more apparent to me how distinguished and obvious the class structure tends to be here.

T says it’s gotten a lot better over the last 20 years but I still find the whole thing a bit odd and judgemental to my laid back American sensibilities. It’s hard to deny the stereotypes though when you see a group of teens dressed in sweat pants or track suits, loitering on the street accosting passersby with rude comments as the group who have taken over our local Subway have been doing. I can’t help but  avert my eyes and walk by quickly when I see them.

*Chav is a term applied to certain young people in the United Kingdom. The stereotypical “chav” is an aggressive teenager, typically unemployed or of white working class background  who repeatedly engages in anti-social behaviour, such as street drinking, drug abuse and rowdiness, or other forms of juvenile delinquency.


Recipe of the Week March 4, 2010

Filed under: tastebud tinglers — rhet @ 1:41 pm

see the heart shape in the pit of the squash? hehe We were too excited to taste the salad for me to remember to take a picture of it...which seems to happen more often then not, whoops!

I’ve been trying a few new recipes a week and I thought maybe I’d start sharing some of my favorites!  Even thought it’s only Thursday, I already know that this weeks big hit was a Garlic Roasted Butternut Squash Salad.

I looove butternut squash, but what really made this salad delicious was topping the squash with feta cheese and mixing red onion in with the salad for an extra kick. As soon as the hubby and I sat down to dig in, we both looked at eachother wide-eyed like “…wow”.  Its that good! Plus healthy, fairly easy to make and inexpensive!
So here’s what you’ll need (serves 2):

1 large butternut squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

100g feta cheese

1/2 a large red onion, chopped

1 small tomato, chopped

a couple of handfuls of lettuce, spinach, or rocket (spinach is the best IMHO)
What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 190 C / Gas mark 5. Grease a baking dish big enough to lay out all the squash in a single layer.

2. Peel the squash, slice in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Cut into 1cm (1/2 in) thick slices.

3. Place in baking dish, and toss with olive oil, garlic and parsley. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until tender.

4. Top squash with crumbled feta in last 5-10 minutes of baking. Then place squash on bed of salad with tomato and chopped red onion. Drizzle a little olive oil or balsamic vinegar  on top if you want.

5. Enjoy the deliciousness!


Familiar Faces February 27, 2010

Filed under: daily life — rhet @ 7:29 pm

No matter how far away I move, I always seem to find strangers that look exactly like someone I know from home. Sometimes when I get a  closer look, they turn out to look nothing like the person I thought they did, but sometimes I could swear they were twins! Maybe its my mind looking for familiarity in a crowd of strangers or maybe people just don’t look that different.  It seems that at least once while I’m out in town my heart will skip a beat thinking I’ve seen my Dad, a friend I used to work with, a cousin, etc.

Any other expats (or even someone with nomadic tendencies) found this? No? Just me?