Thursday, 31 January 2013

Thriftbag Thursday

Even the dog's facial expression got windswept
Jumper/Sweater: Thrifted
Tommy Hilfiger for $4
from the Salvation Army

Necklace and Tights: De ja vu

Skirt: River Island (UK)
Ancient, just ancient.

Coat: House of Fraser (UK)

This is what happens when you take an impromptu walk in the park on a windy day: Almost salvageable photos that lack coherence. It was going to be far too windy (or blowy as us Scots say) to take a tripod, so Mr did his best as usual! 
That's okay, if you're a fan of pictures of girl and dog you'll already be following Katherine at Of Corgis and Cocktails, and her photos are MUCH better.

And as for basic photo tutorials - I think I'll launch in March. I'm going to take it very slowly for you, and hopefully we'll have some fun. The best name I can think of for this feature so far is Glad Rags and Camera Bags.
My bedtime reading at the moment fantastically geeky book about DSLR sensor technology and all the clever gremlins that live inside my magic photobox.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

In defense of public transport

Fellow expat blogger Selena is a Texan living in England. Recently she wrote a very heartfelt piece about her experiences on public transport. To put it simply, her post was not very complimentary, but it was very funny.

She has been transplanted from the place with the most drive-thru liquor stores in the US (yes, really), to London, which this year is celebrating the 150th birthday of the tube, the oldest subway system in the world. That's a definite culture clash.

In contrast I myself have been transplanted from a place where retirees get free bus rides (and certainly use them) to the land where planners removed sidewalks to fit in parking lots.

I told her I felt I had to defend public transport just a little. So here it is, a Brit's defense of public transport (though I know true Brits write 'defence' and not 'defense' I have to use the American spelling now).


Public Transport
Selena's first criticism of public transport (namely the London tube) is that it's almost impossible for newbies to navigate. But the London tube map is hailed as one of the great successes of design - a marriage of form and function - beautiful and understandable!

Yes, maybe at first you will end up going around the Circle line the wrong way; discover that some stations are actually quicker to walk between (what's the point of them?); or take three hours longer than expected due to weather, strikes, or engineering works. But overall it works, and the Olympics were testament to that - just ignore the fact that they drafted in thousands of volunteers to show spectators which stations to use.
These days it's not hard to plan your journey online, even with sporadic construction or random closures due to pigeons on the line. And when you get really good at the Tube you can have all sorts of fun: You can become expert at games such as Mornington Crescent and this cryptic game. The London Tube inspired subterranean public transport across the world, so it must be okay, right?

The effort to drive is huge. First you have be examined on how to control a large piece of machinery. You don't sit need to any tests before you hop on a bus. As long as you have correct change and acceptable body odor tolerance, you're fine!

Planning a route to drive is infuriating. Even with Google Maps and Sat Navs you can never accurately predict roadworks, heavy traffic or road closures.

If you take a wrong turn you often have to do a massive detour to get back on track. With public transport you just jump off and get on a different train/bus, but in a car it's actually treacherous: Do you take that U-Bend and cross four lanes of angry traffic, or do you drive an extra 20 miles back the way you came?

In the city you have to learn the patterns of intersection lights, get stuck for hours at multiple red lights, dodge jaywalkers and tourists, and you're expected to know the whole city's randomized system of one-way streets. I swear city planners switch up the one-way system every now and then just for fun.

And then you have to park your car somewhere. This can take hours in certain places, wasting precious gas money and shopping time driving past giant SUVs taking up two spots and shopping carts lazily abandoned everywhere. When you finally end up at the opposite end of the parking lot you feel you may as well have walked anyway.


When you're traveling by train, plane and underground you really don't want to be laden down with unnecessary shit, so you get really good at traveling light. It becomes a source of pride when you show up for a weekend break with just one half-empty weekend bag, or an overnight function with just a change of knickers and a lipstick in a tiny purse.

Public transport makes you efficient. You keep your Osyter/Octopus/Calypso/Opus/Charlie/Freedom/Smartlink card in your pocket, and everything else on your back.

You gain a sense of freedom by being able to pack so lightly. You know if anyone calls you last minute for a luxury trip to the Bahamas leaving in one hour, you'd be at the airport in time with just your toothbrush, bikini and sun cream, and you wouldn't even have to check in. My rule for travel now is - if I can't lift it, it's not coming with me.

And that's the other thing - all the lifting, carrying and walking is healthy! I saved a fortune on gym memberships when I used public transport. I'd happily walk 45 minutes to work each day. Now I have to drive to the gym and it just feels so wrong and contradictory.


Public Transport
Petty people politics is never so apparent as on public transport. It's tough out there, jostling up against all and sundry on the rush hour tube, rubbing your shoulders against other people - who knows where they've been - and touching the same poles and sitting in the same seats. It'd make a hypochondriac's skin crawl.

Plus you have to endure their rudeness. Shoving in front, listening to loud music, folding their newspaper into your field of vision, giving their luggage the last seat on the carriage so you have to stand. There's no such thing as personal space on public transport- how dare they sneeze/text/fart/argue in your vicinity?

If you're having trouble securing a prime seat on public transport there are very detailed and militaristic guides to help you. When I was a kid at youth theater we'd play a game known as 'keeping your seat on the bus'. Basically you make silly faces until nobody wants to sit next to you. Trust me, it works. 

But all of this is part and parcel of living in a world with other people who are just not a cool and considerate as yourself. Plus it gives you the prime opportunity to hone that truly British sport of complaining. If you ever find yourself starting a new job in London, you'll instantly make new friends the moment you walk in the door and say "Oh my gosh, the Central line was just awful this morning, did anyone else have a ghastly time trying to get in? I couldn't get a seat at all and we got stuck for fifteen minutes at Bank and…" Trust me, it works.


The thing is, driving isn't any better. People speed, honk, tailgate (known in the USA as driving up your ass, as far as I can tell),  blind you with their lights, don't indicate and they always cut in front of you, guaranteed.

Gesturing to rude and inconsiderate road users is usually not that helpful
Drivers are in a hurry, they're rude, and they always think they're a better driver than everyone else. This has been extensively researched and it's true - it's a Lake Wobegone effect manifesting at 80mph on a four lane rat race.

And the worst thing is - all the tutting in the world won't do a darn thing! On a crowded tube, Brits take great pleasure in tutting loudly to display their displeasure at another passenger's actions. It's our favorite form of dissent. In a car this does nothing, and you end up becoming one of those deranged, enraged drivers flipping people off and honking at anything, spreading the blood boiling road rage across the region.

You stomp into work, not with a hilarious and frustrating tale of how crowded your train was, but with a loud tirade full of obscenities about the selfish road moron in front of you with the stupid bumper sticker.

It makes me stressed just thinking about it.

I've told Americans how shocked I am by Pennsylvania drivers and they all say the same thing, "Oh, just wait until you get to New Jersey/New York/California/Maryland/Anywhere, they're terrible at driving!"

And I shudder at the thought. On public transport at least you can sit back, plug in your headphones, eat a questionable prawn sandwich, and zen out all the way to Zone Six…

What side are you on? Which public transport system makes you crazy? And which US state really has the worst driver?

PS, if you've never seen this parody of Going Underground, about the London tube, you're in for a very sweary treat (really NSFW).

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A quick rundown of what we've enjoyed this week in the Glad House…


Gosford Park on Netflix - can you believe I hadn't seen this inspiration for Downton Abbey until now? Fabulous cast, and great screenplay worthy of the Academy Award.

Vinepeek - with the launch of new social media site Vine, the video equivalent of Instagram, comes vinepeek. It's like the movie Life in a Day with even less context, but just as compelling. I noticed lots of cats, lots of wine, lots of babies.


Pinup paintings with the original photographs - Elvgren pinup girls are well-known for their beautiful cheekiness. It's fun to see the original models for some of the famous paintings.

Frosty the snowcat and namesake - cold weather hit the news on both sides of the pond this week. I'm a sucker for this photo just because I have my own white kitty.

Fire and ice in Chicago - such strange yet beautiful photos of firefighters putting out a smoldering blaze in sub-zero temperatures.


Love Note to a Pink door - this is what happens when you ask a kid for their favorite thing about Philadelphia.

Frozen Soda shuts down PA highway - a bit of a sticky situation.

How I lost my wedding ring - poor Raspy Wit, but hilariously illustrated.

How Toy Story 2 was deleted twice - this is a fascinating account of one of the best movie sequels made. Well worth a read.

Snuggle up with your loved ones, it's Sunday
Let me know what you're enjoying today?

Friday, 25 January 2013

FOOD FIGHT: Haggis v Scrapple

It's been a while since I last did a Food Fight, so here's a very special edition for you: A Burns' Night special.

Today is Burns' Night, an evening to celebrate and remember the Scottish bard Robert (Rabbie) Burns. For Scots this is (yet another) excuse for good heavy food, great company, and even better drinks.

At the very least you'll know of Burns for Auld Lang Syne, the charming ditty sung at New Year. He also penned the delightful Address to a Haggis, which is recited on Burns' night as the haggis is ceremonially cut open and served to expectant diners…

…but not in the USA, on account of haggis not being available. According to the BBC the USA banned it in the 1970s because it contains a rather dubious ingredient: Sheep lung. This is a real shame, because despite its rather unglamorous constituent parts (essentially left-over offal, bits of sheep with oats and spices) it's a true delicacy.

A traditional Burns' supper of haggis, neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes) is a beautifully sweet, spicy and comforting winter dish…honestly!

All is not quite lost though, because Pennsylvania has its own answer to dubious spiced meat products: Scrapple. This too is a traditional dish comprising leftover meat (hog offal - that is, pork), grains (cornmeal) and spices. It's a Pennsylvania/Amish dish which is formed into loaf shapes and fried in slices.

I think Scots would whole-heartedly embrace scrapple as it has potential to be a great addition to any heart-stopping full fried breakfast. It's similar to lorne (square) sausage, although with a more haggis-like texture. Even the name is suitably dubious, literally describing the left-over meat used up in the product (actually it's allegedly from the PA dutch word panhaskröppel).

So, here goes…


Invented: Some time in the 15th Century.
How to Make: You probably don't want to know.
Rock n Roll factor: Has an ancient poem, an annual ceremony, and is banned in the USA.


Invented: Some time in the 18th Century.
How to Make: You probably don't want to know.
Rock n Roll factor: Has a song, can be put in Apple pie to make Apple Scrapple Pie, diner favorite in the Mid-East.

Who is the FOOD FIGHT winner?

Sorry scrapple, today of all days it has to be haggis. Anything that strikes fear into the US Government has surely got an edge. But as I'm no longer living in Scotland, I'll have to settle for my local equivalent instead. Do you think scrapple, neeps and tatties could become a new Pennsylvanian favorite?

PS - I didn't take the photo of the haggis myself, but got permission from a real red-headed Scot who runs a tour company. If you're ever in Scotland be sure to get in touch with him - tell him I sent you and he'll give you special treatment.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Thriftbag Thursday

Yesterday I explained the history of an American tradition - the Girl Scout Cookie. I thought this would be an appropriate Thriftbag Thursday.

T-shirt: Thrifted
From a hipster thrift store in 
Manhattan's West Village many moons ago. 
Five bucks well-spent, even if I was(am) a poser 
who'd never tasted a Girl Scout Cookie until this week.

Scarf: Marks and Spencer
Seriously, thanks nan.
Who needs Anthropologie?

Shoes: Michael Kors
Because why not?

I'm a little embarrassed to say I wore this t-shirt for so many years without knowing that a Thin Mint is wearing ear muffs and that a Samoan likes to surf. I never got to do the Girl Scout Cookie thing. I was not a Girl Scout. Although Scouting was founded in the UK, the UK does not have Girl Scouts; they are known as Girl Guides.

The (Boy) Scout Movement was founded by British Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell in the early 1900s and at the time girls were not encouraged to do the same activities as boys. When a group of young girls protested to Baden-Powell, he founded the Girl Guides, a special organization just for girls named after a corp of the British Indian Army.

I was a Girl Guide, but all our Guiders got pregnant and we never got to do anything cool, such as go to camp. I don't think it helped that our patrols were named after birds and I was in the 'Swallow Patrol', which in retrospect sounds highly inappropriate.

At any rate, Girl Guides in the UK don't sell cookies, and as far as I know Girl Scout Cookies are entirely unavailable in the UK. If you're a US expat living in the UK with nostalgic pangs for Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties, I'm sorry (Viscounts and Tunnocks Tea Cakes are far better biscuits anyway, and your local Girl Guides might even have a 'bring n buy' sale with homemade bakes).

By the way, I haven't forgotten the photo tips idea, I'm working on it and will keep you updated!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Glad Notes: Making a (thin) mint - Girl Scout cookies in the USA

For a month or so every year troops of young American girls put their entrepreneurship skills to the test and flog cookies to the US population. I've been vaguely aware of Girl Scout Cookies being a 'thing' here in the USA. But I did not know that each year these kids sell a batch of cookies worth an impressive $786 million. I did not know that there is an app to find out when and where to get them. I also did not know that they weren't homemade cookies, but rather a specific brand made by two bakeries in the USA.

Originally, in the early 1900s, Girl Scout cookies were homemade. A recipe circa 1922 is available on the official website. But in 1933 the real tradition of the American Girl Scout Cookie was born, and where? Philadelphia!

The 1933 Philadelphia Girl Scouts outsourced their cookie baking to a local firm, Keebler bakery. Sales were so successful that in 1936 Girl Scouts of the USA contracted Keebler to bake cookies nationwide. There's even a plaque commemorating this in Philadelphia (not my photo but worth a look).By the 1950s there were three popular varieties of Girl Scout Cookie, all of which are still produced along with other recipes, and sold by wily American girls.

The most popular? Thin Mints. One in four boxes sold is a box of Thin Mints.

As baked goods go, Thin Mints are surprisingly mediocre. They look and taste mass-produced, just like Oreos, the defunct Twinkie, and that vital 'smore component, Graham crackers. A division of Keebler, Little Brownie bakery, remains as one of the two official Girl Scout Cookie bakeries. Keebler also produces Grasshopper cookies, which look suspiciously familiar but are not the same as the Girl Scout cookie. Thin Mints, again like Oreos and Graham Crackers, are actually vegan. Grasshoppers are not.

I understand why the youth movement no longer encourages homemade bake sales. And Girl Scouts of America and their two contracted bakeries are fairly open about the contents of the cookies, the use of palm oil, and the nutritional value (or lack thereof). They also say attempts to promote the sale of low fat/sugar-free confectionery failed.

In what I consider to be the true American culinary spirit of taking something unhealthy and making it less healthy, I have created a special treat using three US confectionery institutions: Thin Mints, Marshmallow Fluff, and Plantation Candy straws. Behold, Cookie Cloud Heaven, or something:
It's actually only about 120 calories if you care about that kind of thing. At any rate, nobody is really buying Thin Mints for their salubrity, are they?

I think Thin Mints serve a valuable purpose for young American women. I really do. These young girls must choose their cookie supplier, set the price, order stock and reach sales targets. I think that's pretty admirable. Never mind that they're ruining the post-holiday diets of the American populace.

Girl Scout Cookies are not available in the UK, primarily because the UK doesn't actually have Girl Scouts. Why's that, you ask? Well, you'll have to come back tomorrow to find out…

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Nifty Fifty in the City - unedited photos of New York

Since moving to the USA, living within a(n almost) commutable distance from New York City is a reality for me.

I know New York very well, better even than my husband who lived this short distance from it for most of his life. Philadelphia and New York have a similar rivalry to that of Glasgow and Edinburgh - cultural, native, sporting, jovial with an edge of cynicism.

My sister in law needed to pick up some things from the fashion district in midtown Manhattan, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out my new lens - a nifty fifty.

I'm not happy with how my photos turned out, but I've left them largely unedited except for the black and white ones. I'd only ever used my lovely large Sigma until now. Learning how to frame, focus and light with the standard 50mm is a fun challenge. And if it means more trips to NY to perfect my pictures, well that's okay too.

Empire State building
tick tock diner Manhattan NY

NY yellow cab Manhattan
what looks like some creepy face…
Mid-town Manhattan
Empire State at night
Film Noir at the back of Macy's, NY
New York Skyline
Manhattan Skyline
Taking low light photos with this lens is a dream.
I used to love Satan's Laundromat, which was a New York photoblog. What are your favorite photoblogs?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Thriftbag Thursday

 Sweater/Jumper: Urban Outfitters
This is seriously ancient
and misshapen but I love 
the jersey with lace sleeves. 

Spaceman helmet: My husband's old toy

Boots: Aldo (UK not USA)
Also ancient and
they've been re-soled a few times.

Tights: Target
They're actually gray 
so you're not missing much

Skirt: Thrifted/home-made…
Last week I said this skirt was a whole other story. 
 I made it a long time ago from an old festival t-shirt.

I can't remember I did this directly from the book Generation T, or if I adapted a simple version of one of their skirts. If you have a closet full of old t-shirts I recommend this book.

I doubt you could get away with wearing most of their creations in a workplace setting, but when I wear this skirt inside out I know I'm rock n roll on the inside (literally).

On another note, last week Selena suggested I do some photo tutorials here on the Glad Blog and I thought about combining the Thriftbag feature with some super basic photo tutorials. It'd be an extension of the Photo Geekery from 12 Days of Gladness but we'd start right with the basics.

I know Kitty and Buck has photography tutorials, and many other blogs do them, but I thought it'd be fun to use my own photos so you can see how I took them. 

What do you think? And what would I call a feature combining Thriftbag and Photo Geekery? Let me know below!
I'll shine some light on taking your own manual photos. It'll be, er, out of this world.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Glad Notes: What makes a Brit proud to be a Brit?

Marks, Sparks, and Migration: How Brits and British residents feel about the UK

Last week my Marks and Spencer slippers got a lot of loving from my readers, many of whom also received Marks and Spencer's footwear and/or sleepwear during the festive season.

Now there's demonstrable proof that M&S really does have socks appeal. This week a poll by think tank British Future revealed that M&S makes 4% of Brits feel proud to be British.

Though to be fair another UK department store, John Lewis, also allegedly makes 4% of Brits feel proud to be British, and of course these two stores pale behind other institutions that make Brits proud, ranking below the UK National Health Service, Military, and Olympics sportsfolk to name a few.

Pure socks appeal
Incidentally another recent poll, albeit run by a British bread company, claimed that Brits are most proud of their sense of humor and the lush green British countryside. Sturdy y-fronts, cosy slippers and emotive advertising didn't even get a look in (you've seen John Lewis's famous Christmas ads, and Marks and Spencer's salacious food porn, yes?).

On a different note, the British Future poll highlights Brits' unease and concern over the issue of immigration. Brits claim immigration causes the 'most division in British society as a whole today' above inequality, politics and even ethnicity. The poll also indicates Brits' general perception that immigration negatively affects housing, crime, employment and the NHS. The majority of those polled did however believe that immigration had a positive effect on football, fashion, food and entrepreneurship.

Interestingly, although six out of ten Brits wouldn't want to be citizens of another country, the poll suggests that immigrants to the UK are on the whole more positive and more optimistic about Britain and the country's future than natural-born Brits.

The UK coalition government is currently implementing new immigration reforms, with the overall aim of significantly reducing the UK's immigrant population. Regular readers of the Glad Blog will know that I have strong opinions about these latest immigration reforms.

A cross-party Parliamentary group is currently undertaking an inquiry into the new family migration rules, and individuals who have 'direct experience of the new family migration rules' are encouraged to provide written evidence by the deadline of 31st January 2013. I'm eager to see the results of this inquiry so I'll be sure keep you updated.

Finally though, I couldn't find data on the percentage of those born outside the UK that feel pride for M&S and their indoor winter clothing, but I have asked British Future and will report back to you on that too!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

One Week of US Cuisine

 I've said before that American food gets a bum rap.

Perhaps when you think of "American food" you think of McDonalds, drive-thrus, diners and do-nuts. To some extent you'd be right to think of those things. They are everywhere.

They are on every street corner, on every intersection, by (or in) churches and museums. The food is cheap, sweet, and childish, and often famous for the branding or business model more than anything else.

But that's not everything. You know it's not. If you don't believe me, I'm going to show you. In just one week, I'll make you a fan…

A Week in US Cuisine

America has a very rich immigrant culture, and some fabulous cuisine to boot. Finding excellent food here can be surprising and wonderful. And it's fun. American food is undoubtedly fun. What American food sometimes lacks in sophistication it often makes up for in experience and good humor.

Take my mum's visit over Thanksgiving week, for example. She wanted to experience American food. She's travelled all over the world - Europe, Asia, South and North America. She's tasted all sorts of cuisine. She's even been to the USA a fair few times. But when I asked her the first thing she'd like to do when she arrived she said "go to the supermarket".

So that's what we did.

Monday - Supermarket lunch


In the UK a supermarket lunch is a sad affair - usually comprising a wrinkled baked potato sitting under a heat lamp all day, cheap baked beans, and terrible tea, all served on suspiciously sticky tables. Do British supermarket want to punish families for spending their afternoons traipsing up and down the shopping aisles? The food is an afterthought, which is a worrying thing in a store that sells food.

Not so here in PA.

I'm not talking about Super-Walmarts with a Subway franchise inside. I'm talking about lesser known, small family chains of supermarkets. A prime example is Wegmans, once dubbed the 'Anti-Walmart' by The Atlantic magazine (in an unsponsored article, it appears). The Wegmans approach to food and shopping is a little different to that displayed by most supermarkets. Whole Foods comes close, but not quite.

Wegmans is a beautiful playground for food and produce, complete with a miniature railway circling high above the cheese department. Lunch there could be take-out pizza, sushi, a hoagie, or a wholesome twist on pub lunch, complete with specialty draft beer. Everything on the menu, from the seasonal beer to the multi-grain marathon bread, is available in-store to take home.

And that's how supermarket dining should be. It's seems so obvious. A supermarket's food should be like a giant exciting tasting counter. Trust Americans to actually make grocery shopping fun.

Tuesday - Reading Terminal Market

The Philadelphia cheesesteak is ubiquitous. I won't go into the debate over Pat's, or Geno's or Tony Luke's here,  because I've yet to try them. I didn't realize the sin of my ways until I took my mum for lunch in the city center.

The Reading Terminal Market is another fun food playground, a disorienting cuisine casino bustling with tourists and lunching business locals. It's a Caesar's Palace filled with all sorts of cultural fayre, including, of course, the cheesesteak.

Carmen's is great for the uninitiated cheesesteak consumer - they'll advise you the most popular way to do it. Provolone or Cheese Whizz? Sweet peppers or not? I can't remember because they fried it up so quickly. I get the impression they are used to hungry and bewildered tourists bumbling up to their neon sign.

And for dessert: On a cold November afternoon of culinary touristing, who can resist an apple dumpling once featured on the Food Network?
The dumpling was a fat individual apple pie with a flaking crust and hot spiced apple filling dripping with cream. For three bucks a piece this fall filler was a pleaser. The birch beer is an acquired taste though.

A local businessman beside us lunched on sloppy joes and coffee. He noted our accents, "you had cheesesteaks here?" he enquired, "because, you know that's like, how can I say it, it's like going to Heathrow Airport for fish and chips".

What a faux pas. I visibly winced. The very suggestion of an Airport providing a quality fish supper! I promised I'd try an 'authentic' cheesesteak ASAP (confession: I still haven't).

Wednesday - Hoagie

Surprising fact: The hoagie is THE official sandwich of Philadelphia, not the cheesesteak. As such, they are not without their controversy. The origin of the name is a little unclear for a start. A hoagie is a Philly twist on the ubiquitous submarine sandwich, reputedly named after Hog Island, Philadelphia, where Italians and other Europeans worked on shipbuilding for the World Wars.

Forget Subway or even local hoagie purveyor and 'Hoagie Day' sponsor WaWa for a decent Philly sub. A true hoagie comes from an Italian market, and one should contain enough meat for afternoon tea sandwiches for the whole British Royal Family.

Thursday - Thanksgiving Dinner

Turkey, sweet potato, and pumpkin. What else can I say?

Friday - Drive Thru

During the national hangover from America's favorite holiday, it seemed apt to get take-out. We opted for Popeye's Louisiana Fried Chicken, purely because it's fun for us Brits to order chicken with biscuits and end up with cheese scones rather than something to dunk in hot tea. I know this isn't authentic American Soul food by many measures, but the drive thru certainly is a US tradition. 

Saturday - Traditional US cuisine?

The City Tavern in Philadelphia is an interesting place. It's conveniently located in the vicinity of Philly's top historical tourist spots, for those visitors with a hankering for 1770s cuisine. 

Yes, the waiters are in period costume, the pewter goblets and tableware are for sale in the restaurant's gift shop, and the chef's DVDs and TV appearances are advertised to visiting diners. But it's not tacky; it's very enjoyable indeed. The beers, brewed traditionally, are very good.

Surprising fact: Did you know that Benjamin Franklin brought tofu to the USA? No, neither did I. 

The jury's out on on this one - I'm not certain it's true, for a start. The tofu tasted okay, but the other hearty dishes, a menu reflecting the USA's European colonial history,  looked far more appetizing. No fish supper though.

US food is, genuinely, not that bad


I hope I've convinced you, or even tempted you a little bit. And if not, not don't worry, we still have a lot of US food adventures to enjoy one day: Traditional BBQ, Asian-American cuisine, the birth of the American diner and the sad decline of roller carhops (yes! they still exist, you just have to know where to find them).

This huge country has so much to offer to tastebuds and huge appetites, I promise, though I'm secretly glad I don't eat like this every week.

What local USA foods do I need to try? And where DO I get the best cheesesteak?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Thriftbag Thursday

 Sweater/Jumper: Thrifted
A cashmere jumper for $4?
Sure, don't mind if I do

Necklace: Forever 21
It's old, but not quite
old enough to be my granny's

Tights: Target
Thanks Santa/mom-in-law

Slippers: Marks and Spencers
Am I a spoiled expat if 
my nan still sends me slippers 
from Marks and Sparks for Christmas?

And as for the skirt, well that's for another Thriftbag Thursday I'm afraid…

I work weekends, and I sometimes forget that it's totally okay to take a midweek day or two just to lounge, read news and blogs and drink endless tea.

Photo Geekery:  These are all self-taken, sorry! I wanted to explore taking photos in front of a light source (window) which can be tricky. There's another light source (window) to the left of the photos too.I over-exposed the pictures and used spot metering. I think they turned out okay. Next time I'll play around with using flashes and/or bouncing the light.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Liebster Glad…

First of all: Welcome to the new and improved Glad Blog, fresh for 2013! Please let me know what you think of the new layout - I did it myself (as always) and I'm still playing around with it.

Anyway, this seems to be a rite of passage for new and small blogs: This week Elise passed on the Liebster to me (and some other wonderful bloggers that I enjoy, do check out her post).

I think the Liebster is a quaint and lovely thing amongst the blog community, so I'm happy to join in. Liebster itself means darling, lovely, beloved in German. I made the banner above from two free fonts, the first being HandyHandy. Handy is the German slang for cell phone and that's the only reason I chose it.

Anyway, here goes…

The rules
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you've tagged to answer.
3. Choose people and link them in your post.
4. Go tell them!
5. No tag backs.

11 Things About Me:
I was born by the sea.

My favorite book is A Clockwork Orange. Just don't mention the film.

I didn't like the Narnia books as a kid because I thought Strawberry was a better name for a horse than Fledge.

 I am a nervous driver and not proud of it. But I can drive stick and prefer it.
I haven't seen the movie Rocky…

But I have a joint major in Film and Television/Politics…  

And I live near Philadelphia.

I once spent a summer living in Harlem and working on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

During NFL playoffs I guess the winners based on their 'costumes' (I've correctly predicted the Superbowl winner for the past three years). 

Elise also asked me:

1. Are you named after anyone?
Yes, I was named after my mum's best friends at high school. I only ever met one of them (and it wasn't Gillian). 

2. If you were another person, would you be friends with yourself? Why or why not?
This is a brilliant question! Honestly, I think it would depend on who I was! Sometimes true extroverts and bubbly characters can be disarmed by my dry nature. But I can be quite charming and very interesting so if I gave myself a chance I'm sure I'd be friends with me…!

3. Name one thing you worry about running out of.
Money and/or my health. Moving to the USA has been costly and I work part-time so I don't have health insurance. Coming from the UK I'm not used to worrying about paying for healthcare should the need arise. 

4. What are some of your favorite sayings?
"No shit, Sherlock" - although I'm wary about saying that in polite American company! 

As a lot of my family came from East London so I also love the Cockney alphabet. It surprises me how many phrases I say naturally are actually Cockney rhyming slang. Americans have no idea what I'm talking about, but it makes great dinner party chat. Confused? Have a butcher's 'ere.

5. Why did you start blogging?
I was an unemployed graduate, so it was par for the course. I 're-launched' when I emigrated. I'd like to continue and move towards blogging more about cultural differences between the US and UK.

6. What is your favorite food or type of food?
Blood oranges, really dark chocolate, and seafood, but not together. I'll try almost anything once, and I love food with a process, such as Xiao Long Bao, sushi, or a proper cup of tea.

7. Describe one of your most memorable life experiences. 
Moving from England to Scotland. It doesn't sound like a big deal (compared to my recent move) but I was middle school age, and I learned that discrimination isn't always skin-deep. Moving to Scotland changed my whole life for the better though.

8. What's the best thing anyone has ever said to you?
Elise, who gave me the Liebster, actually commented on my blog recently, saying "I love your blog because it reveals so many new things to me" which I really appreciated.

9. What movies could you watch over and over again and still love?
Stranger Than Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine, and Trainspotting.
As a film student I re-watched many movies. After 20 or so viewings, I still love Trainspotting. Danny Boyle is my favorite director because he's so versatile (plus he did the London Olympics opening ceremony). The other two movies are just beautiful.

10. Describe one of your life goals.
To complete the Guardian cryptic crossword - I got close once. Americans just don't get cryptic crosswords, but boy do they hurt my brain.

11. When do you feel your happiest?
Incidentally, this is the 50th Best Roller Coaster in the world
Phew, that was tough. Now it's my turn to be quizmaster. 

1. What gets your blood pumping?
2. What's your favorite dessert?
3. What made you giggle at school?
4. What's the best part about where you live?
5. What book that I probably haven't read would you recommend to me?
6. What's your favorite word?
7. You're hosting a dinner party - what's the menu?
8. What do you love to talk about?
9. Name a classic movie you haven't seen.
10. If you were tree what type of tree would you be and why?
11. What will you dress as for Halloween 2013?

The blogs I nominate are…
Alice from Pretty Confused

I look forward to your posts if you decide to play along - please feel free to use my banner or one of the many other Liebster logos available online!