Monday, 28 February 2011

2 down, 10 to go!

Months that is, in 2011.

I cannot believe that tomorrow it will be MARCH! Third month of the year, full of fabulous things, like Mardi Gras, the beginning of spring, and my birthday! It seems like New Years was just a few weeks ago, and living through January and February is the hardest part of the year in Edinburgh. Dark, cold, miserable, and seemingly never ending, it makes me so excited to know that the literal darkest part of the year is over!

The other day I saw a flock of birds flying North, and the sun has been shining on Edinburgh for three whole days! Hope springs eternal! I am so excited to not have to wear boots 24/7 any longer! And it is amazing how much brighter everyone's outlook is when the sun returns!

I have really enjoyed the past month, writing and catching everyone up on the last 10 months of my life. I hope you have enjoyed it as well, and while I cannot upkeep a daily blog, I will try my hardest to write as often as I can!


He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put into vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw, inclement summers.  ~Jonathan Swift

Happy End of Winter!

<3 Kim

Sunday, 27 February 2011


In January I decided to make some of the dreaded resolutions for the year.

A desire to better oneself is normal in January, right? After two months of gluttony, revelry, and debauchery what could be better than some introspection into the things about ourselves that we want to change? Although that introspection may make you want to dive into a bottle of wine to pretend you never ventured into the dark territory of self-improvement and never saw the bits of yourself that are going to be HARD to change.

I have one or two hard ones, but some of the rest were much easier to take on.

Actively learn Spanish
Cook or bake a new recipe every week
Start writing again
Learn how to make really good yeast bread.

Spanish? Check! I'm really enjoying my Spanish class, and I am definitely looking forward to going further with the learning. I would love to do some immersion learning time in a Spanish speaking country to help me become fluent!

New recipes? I'm doing pretty good here too...It can be hard to remember or take the time to follow a new recipe, especially when you're tired/don't have the ingredients/just want to make your basic stand-by dish to get dinner over with! So I usually try to cook or bake something new on Sunday, when I have more time to do so.

Start writing again? Check! Not only have I been doing the blog, but check out my theatre review from Richard III:

Learn how to make yeast bread? errr...It's too soon to tell. I have issues with yeast breads. The wee buggers don't seem to like me enough to want to rise! Soda bread serves me well, but I really want to be able to make my own baguettes! Good thing there is still plenty of time left in the year!

So we'll see how the rest of the year goes! If all goes well, I'll be able to write a whole blog without using a translation website, and I'll get through the hundreds of saved recipes that I've been wanting to make for ages! And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to stop buying bread! :-)

Happy Sunday!

<3 Kim

Saturday, 26 February 2011

New Year...New York

As I was winging my way east towards Manhattan on December 29th, the two people who I was flying to New York to spend New Years with were in two very unideal predicaments.
The blizzard on Manhattan stopped Yara, who lives there, from getting back after christmas. She was stuck in London until the 30th. Adam, coming from Scotland to meet us, had his flight cancelled and had to fly to Boston before taking the Greyhound up to meet me in New York.

Luckily, my lovely cousin Autumn had gotten back to New York before the blizzard, and she was able to save me from sleeping in the airport for the night! After many hours of ridiculousness that I won't bore you with, I arrived in Manhattan after midnight, keeping my poor cousin awake far later than I should have gossiping.

The next day, after a bagel and coffee at my FAVOURITE bagel place in NYC, I wandered the city before picking up Adam at the Bus station, we then whiled away some time in a bakery where I introduced him to the magic of sweet potato-pecan pie before Yara arrived.
Tal's Bagels...yum!
See...Sweet potato pecan pie!
Adam falls instantly in love

Ah, the magic of friends reunited after a long absence! I'm sure Yara's neighbours thought we were all insane. We are a dangerous force when we're together. That night we had dinner and dessert with Autumn at some amazing places who's names I will never remember, followed by a day walking the city, visiting too many after-Chrstmas sales, and getting ready to ring in 2011.

For the festivities, Yara had arranged for the three of us, plus seven of her friends, to have dinner, plus an open bar, and dancing with a DJ at a restaurant on the lower east side. It. Was. Brilliant. The food was amazing, the company was too much fun, and the music kept us going all night long!
Yara, The Birthday Boy, and Faha
Champagne and party favours
Our whole group

On the way home we had to amuse ourselves waiting for the few and far between night subways to arrive...
Hey there Homeless man!
What way? THAT WAY!
How you know it's the end of the night...

New Years Day was celebrated with some greasy food, Central Park, and the Guggenheim Museum...a good mix for those of us that felt less than 100% after too much champagne.
New Years Phone calls with the parents
Colouring while we wait for food!
Central Park
Aww my loveys!
The Gugg
The amazing exhibit we saw

That night we got to meet some of Adam's friends who live in NY, and I got to see Autumn again. The food was memorable only for it's lack of deliciousness, but it was a nice relaxed way to spend my last night.

The next day I flew home. After one last bagel and a stop at Bloomingdales, I cried my way through one last call from my parents, a bus and subway ride, and through the last goodbyes at security.

It was a fabulous way to ring in the New Year, and helped me realise that as much as I love the west coast, New York really is pretty awesome!


Friday, 25 February 2011

Back in the Review Seat

Tonight I'm going to review Shakespeare's Richard III for the website I do theatre review for, I haven't reviewed anything in AGES, and I've never read nor seen Richard III...So I need to do some research! 

Oh, Wikipedia, how I love thee!

"Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591, depicting the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England...It is widely considered to be one of Shakespeare's greatest plays.
After Hamlet, it is the longest play in the canon...The play is rarely performed unabridged; often, certain peripheral characters are removed entirely. In such instances extra lines are often invented or added from elsewhere in the sequence to establish the nature of characters' relationships. A further reason for abridgment is that Shakespeare assumed that his audiences would be familiar with the Henry VI plays, and frequently made indirect references to events in them, such as Richard's murder of Henry VI or the defeat of Henry's queen Margaret."

Hmmm...should be interesting! I've never seen nor read ANY of Shakespeare's histories. I hope it is as interesting as his other stories!  

I'm looking forward to doing this again. I've missed using that part of my brain! If only they would pay me...haha oh well...

Ok off to the Theatre! 

<3 Kim

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Some decent Mexican food in the UK!

London made my night last night! Well, Adam did, because as we walked by this place he was like "that's supposed to be the best Mexican food in London" so of COURSE we had to go! And it was good!

Called Tortilla, I would equate it to a Baja Fresh or Chipotle. Yes, I know, it isn't Mexico-Mexican, but it's CALIFORNIA-Mexican which is just as good in my opinion!

I got a Carnitas burrito bowl, and Adam got a Pollo burrito. To wash them down we got cold Pacifico beers. It was just like being at home! I never see Mexican beer here either, so it was a double happy surprise! There were pictures on the walls of Mexican restaurants and Taquerias throughout California, which was kind of funny, but also fitting. At least they were admitting to be what they were: A California Fusion Mexican joint! I loved it!
So even though my train was cancelled, then delayed, and it is London Fashion week so there were SO MANY people everywhere, I got my own little piece of tastiness that reminded me of home! Good times!

<3 Kim

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Goin’ to the End of the Line!

 Well it’s alright, everything will work out fine, well it’s alright, we’re goin’ to the end of the line…maybe someday down the road a-ways (at the end of the line) you’ll think of me and wonder where I am these days…

OK so The Travelling Wilburys probably weren’t referring to the East Coast Rail when they wrote that song, but today, I am riding to the end of the line! Edinburgh Waverley to London Kings Cross, to be precise. I have a meeting this afternoon, and I usually go by plane, but the flight times weren’t very good, and as my boss is out of the office, so I’m going by train this morning and back by train tomorrow.
Edinburgh Waverley-London Kings X

Travelling by train is such the norm for people in the UK and Europe. Trains are fast, (mostly) efficient, and easier than flying. You are taken from cit centre to city centre, no need to book it out to Edinburgh airport or schlep it on the tube for an hour into London. I say trains are mostly efficient because sometimes they get delayed, or cancelled, or other such nonsense that irregular travelers handle with panic and regular travelers handle with aplomb.
My train got cancelled this morning. I was supposed to leave at 8 am, arriving in London at 12:45, leaving plenty of time to get to my meeting at the Royal College of Physicians London at Regent’s Park. Now, I will be arriving around 1:45 for my 2:00 meeting, and will have to grab a cab to Regent’s Park so I’m not late. Oh well. Such is life.

Well it’s alright, Remember to live and the live, the best you can do is forgive …

One plus to the train is that you get some nice views. Living in the middle of a city, even a small as Edinburgh, you start to miss the wide-open spaces and views of nature. The English countryside is quite flat, green, and welcoming. Today, as I roll along down the East Coast, there is a light fog resting over the hills, melding into the North Sea, blending the grey sea and grey water-heavy air into a thick blanket of cotton wool, so you almost forget that the edge of the earth is even that close. Then we move inland from Berwick-upon-Tweed*, and small copses of scraggly trees pop up ever half mile, seemingly random gatherings across the countryside. The fog follows, creeping it’s fingers through the leafless trees, but not quite obscuring the fresh green grass, holding in it’s tiny stalks the promise of spring, another six weeks away.
Entmoot in action over to the left? Also, please note the boy sleeping in the reflection...haha

The tree gatherings remind me of the Entmoot in the Lord of The Rings, Twin Towers**. If these trees met together to talk, I imagine they would sound like some of the most notable of Brits: A willowy but strong Dame Maggie Smith, a charming yet bald-topped Patrick Stewart, a stalwart, deep-rooted Brendan Gleeson, a straight-standing Colin Firth, a roguish and leaning Rupert Everett, and a slightly skewed but beautiful Helena Bonham-Carter.

What would this Brit-Entmoot discuss you ask? Probably the news from their various corners of the UK and Ireland, and the controversial new development of a possible high-speed line between Birmingham and London, cutting through some of the most pristine land left in England.

“Luckily”, Maggie would say in her clipped Scots drawl, “Scotland still has the monopoly on natural beauty in the UK.”

True story, Dame M! Way to represent for the Scots!

As you can tell, the mind wanders on the train…Especially since East Coast Rail has cancelled the unlimited wireless service that they used to have. Probably a good thing overall, but it means that I am unable to get any work done….ah well! Instead I am listening to the family next to me discuss the horrors of Facebook and Twitter (I agree, for the most part, but would be lost from so many people without Facebook!)

The sun is failing to break through the fog and there is still a gentle haze, like a soft focus lens covering the countryside, allowing the meandering streams, soft rolling hills, quaint towns, and spindly trees to retain some of their mystery as the behemoth train charges through their territory, ripping the air open with a roar of the engine and the rhythmic clack of the wheels on the tracks.

Well it’s alright even if the sun don’t shine, well it’s alright, we’re going to the end of the line!

Update: My train got into London 15 minutes late. Making me late to my meeting. So stick with your cars, America.  These trains are only good for a casual trip through the countryside and the occasional Ent Moot spotting.

Hasta luego,


*pronounced “Berrick” 

** An Entmoot is a meeting of the Ents, or treeherders, to discuss very important things (AKA the attack of Isengard/War against Saruman.) Don't judge me! :-) 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

It's only Tuesday?

This week has been a bit manic, and it's still only Tuesday!

I actually just had to stop and send an e-mail right as I finished that first sentence. I'm tired. haha

It's been a busy work week, and tomorrow I'm off to London on the 8 am train for a meeting in the afternoon. I'll spend the night, getting a chance to catch up with my good friend Adam, then come back to Edinburgh on the 8 am train on Thursday. Then straight to work. Then I think I'm reviewing Shakespeare's Richard III on Thursday night.

Now I'm even more tired. Is it Friday night yet?

Esta noche, mi clase española está en 7 p.m. El sigh. :-)

Ever wonder why life is either brainlessly boring or ridiculously busy, why there is no in between? The universe is laughing at me right now...

<3 Kim

Monday, 21 February 2011

Christmas in Cali

I was only able to take one trip back to America last year. Once was not enough. It's a shame my transporter hasn't come through the mail yet...

Sunrise in Simi Valley

But it was a really good trip! I arrived on a sunny afternoon, and proceeded to enjoy a further two sunny days until...

A sunny day for a hike

...the rain hit. And stayed. For a week and a half. I come to Southern California for two and a half weeks out of 52 and it rains. That's what you call irony.

But I did get to enjoy a lot of time with friends, family, and the magic of Disneyland at Christmas!
My Dar Dar
Haunted Mansion
Space Mountain!

I was also lucky enough to see my Friends James and Nathan perform with their band, The Terns. They're all sorts of fabulous. :-)

The Terns

The annual Barnes family get together was a lot of fun, and it was so nice to see all the family! Even though they kept making fun of the way I talk now! (you know who you are! hahaha)
Grandparents! awww!
The Fam!
Love my cousins! (and those not pictured too!)

I got to spend some time outdoors, despite the weather, and my Dad and I were able to go hiking and kayaking, two of my favourite things!
Christmas Eve Hike
Coffee and Kayak, what more do you need?
Sea Lions sunning
Grant's Park in Ventura

For Christmas, I made a Middle Eastern meal for my parents, brother and Auntie Peggy. Delicious, and not too heavy. Which was good after weeks of indulgence!
Wearing our cracker crowns around our Middle East Feast!

Right before I left, My mom and I took Auntie Peggy to a surprise Afternoon Tea á la Britain. It was lots of fun, and soooo tasty!
Ladies that lunch
Cute tea cups!

It was sad leaving California, but it was made a smidgeon easier by the fact that I left California to go to New York. That, and the fact that I met Paula Deen at LAX and was able to act like a silly fan right in the middle of the bathroom. Special. But she was so nice!

On to New York!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

California Girls

We're unforgettable! 

At least, according to Katy Perry we are...And I really like Katy Perry, and people always act so impressed when I tell them I'm Californian, so I'm going to assume that it's true! 

It still amuses me that people hold such preconceptions about America, and California especially! The two most common conversations that I have with people about where I'm from are as follows:

Conversation #1

Random person "OMG you're from California! What part?"
Kim "about 20 minutes from LA"
Random "So do you see famous people like ALL the time"
Kim "Um, no. I'm not really looking for them though. I've seen a few. Oh, but I met Paul Deen at LAX over Christmas"
Random "Who?"
Kim "She's a cooking celeb in America" 
Random "oh...ok"
Kim (internal groan) "But I live pretty close to where the Kardashians live. A girl I went to high school with actually works for them."
Random "OMG that is so COOL!"


Conversation #2

Random Person "You're from California? So why would you ever move here?"
Kim "I came here to do my Master's degree, and decided to stay for a bit to work."
Random "If I lived in California I would never leave! Don't you miss the sun?"
Kim "Errr...right. Yes I do, especially during the winter." 
Random "Wow. I would love to live in California. Let's switch places."
(note: I live in the same place as this person...which 'place' are we switching?)

*sigh* again

It's kind of funny, and doesn't bother me, I just wonder whether I'm not living up to my potential as a Californian Celeb-Spotter and whether I've insulted the state in some way by moving away? It just goes to show how romanticised a place becomes through the lens of the media, or through the rose coloured glasses of tourists! It was the same sort of preconception that convinced me to move to Scotland, and specifically to Edinburgh, over anywhere else in the UK. After a time, you realise that no place is magical on it's own, it is the gloss of newness and difference from our known world that makes a place mystical and special. Los Angeles is a shiny, glamourous place, yes, but that's a tiny part of California, and California has a lot of problems. And Scotland is gorgeous, and some parts are still magical (Seriously...everyone should go to the Highlands!) but it's a nation-state just like any other, with amazing people and places, and problems of it's own. 

My point? I love being from California, and I'm equally happy that I am able to take some of the magic of Scotland, and a Scottish perspective, into my being. I am not just a Californian, I am a traveller and an Honorary Scot. 

Can I get that on my passport?

<3 Kim

Saturday, 19 February 2011


Today I tried a new style of yoga. I usually do a class of Hatha yoga. This type of yoga is typified by the use of breathing, meditation, and postures to relax and to purify the body. I love this kind of yoga, especially when it's Vinyasa Hatha yoga. In this class, you move from one pose to the next with synchronised breathing and movement. Sun salutations are a basic vinyasa that most classes use to start the class and get you warmed up. This yoga is more of a 'workout', and you can work up quite a sweat if it's a fast vinyasa class. 
Today, I was feeling much more yoga-y than usual, and decided to try a 90 minute Iyengar yoga class. According to Wikipedia (yes I googled Iyengar before I went to the class), Iyengar yoga is "a form of yoga known for its use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimising the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. The development of strength, mobility, and stability are emphasized through the asanas." 

Sounded interesting...In my head, I was picturing this: 
But knowing that this is NOT India, and that this would mostly be a class for older people, I figured I would risk it. 

The class was definitely different. Each pose was done carefully and with precision. Held for longer than you would in other forms of yoga to ensure precise posture and execution of each pose. The instructor explained why and how to open the chest, turn the leg this way, pull up the spine, etc. The pace is slow and deliberate and calm. The room was lovely warm and quite, and it was a peaceful experience. You don't have to use props in Iyengar unless you need them, and luckily I didn't really need them as I'm quite flexible. Until we got to the shoulder stand...
Now, I do these all the time, but the instructor INSISTED that we use blocks under our shoulders and necks and a belt around our arms. Talk about weird. and awkward. the instructor had to put the belt on for me once I was halfway in the pose. The band pins your arms together behind your back, allowing what? I have no idea. But I'm pretty sure it was the best shoulder pose I've ever done. 

I left the class feeling relaxed and happy. So even though I think I'll stick to Hatha, and regardless of weird belts and slow moves, it was a nice way to start the day. 

"The Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you."

<3 Kim