Archive for the ‘England’ Category

… don’t know when I’ll be back again …

Today’s my last day in Manchester. This is so sad, it feels like I just got here, and I really am not ready to go home yet. I did get to watch the shuttle landing on the big screen with the Astrophysics department, and I get one last Thursday Ale Night tonight.


Tuesday marked my last day at Jodrell Bank, I will miss this telescope dearly.



I will also miss the fact that we have to keep the microwave in a faraday cage in order to prevent radio interference in our data. No, really. I’m not joking.











One thing I will not miss is my apartment. Living on the ground floor really creeps me out. Even with a window lock and chain I’m just not comfortable with my window being two feet off the ground. My apartment in Manhattan is happily on the 12th floor. It’s worth waiting in the elevator.


For my last meal I decided to use up all my garbanzo beans and make falafel. I guess I really do miss Soho… I had never made falafel at home before, but thanks to my lack in trust in directions it came out well.


I started by making a dry mixture of chickpeas, flour, cumin, coriander, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. I then placed this in a pot with about a cup of cold water (added a bit of veggie bullion), a bit of olive oil and at the last minute some cayenne (I realized I didn’t have any hot sauce to put on the final product)



Mixing this results in a thick liquidy substance that I was instructed to bring to a boil, then simmer while covered for 5-15 minutes (until the proper consistency is reached) This is where I ran into problems. It became clear as I brought it to a boil that it would very shortly bee to thick to consider “simmering” and if I let the paste sit there it would surely burn. So I forgot about the simmering idea and stirred it constantly until I felt it was a stick moldable consistency.



At this point I took the goo off the heat and let it cool to a touchable temperature. Mold the goo into balls, slightly smaller than a golf ball.






Then you can fry the result in some oil, until golden brown.








And serve hot with hummus. If you have any pita (which I did not) you can make a sandwich. I can’t wait to try this at home when I have veggies and home made hummus to go with it!



Well guys, this is it. My last post from Manchester. It was great, and I will miss it dearly. See you state-side!


~What type of food reminds you of home?


Read Full Post »


No, that’s not a typo, it’s actually how you spell “Cardiff” in Welsh…

I apologize for going almost a whole week without even a brief post, but I’ve been in Wales at the Amaldi Conference since my last post.

As you can probably imagine I’ve been insanely busy, what with 16+ lectures a day, work, meeting people and trying to see a little bit of Cardiff.

I had a wonderful surprise when I got here and discovered my friend L. came all the way from Texas to attend the conference. L. and I lived together earlier this summer on South Padre Island, TX where we were two of very few girls at the UTB Summer School on Gravitational Wave Astronomy. It was a very fun, but difficult program and the students grew pretty close commiserating over General Relativity homework around the pool.

UTB on South Padre Island, TX

I was thrilled to see L. Here, she didn’t warn me she was coming at all. I thought I was going insane when I heard someone calling my name in a southern accent in Wales.

So most of my week would probably be quite boring to most of you (for an overview on the topic of the conference see my last post) but we did get some time to relax our brains and see a few cool things outside of the lecture halls.

Cardiff Castle:

In the center of town there is a small castle that has some features dating back 2000 years. Unfortunately most of what’s there now is a restoration after WWII, however, some pretty cool original architecture managed to survive. My favorite part was the Norman keep, perched a top a mont and surrounded by a moat.

If you feel up to braving the numerous, narrow (and apparently alliterative) steps then you’re rewarded with an amazing view of the city. Despite being totally unprepared in my heels it was worth the climb.

We didn’t get much free time in the city, but I think ours was well spent visiting the castle.

The National Museum: 

Last night we had a banquet at the Cardiff National Museum. It was by far the best venue they could have chosen. We had our reception I the French Impressionist gallery. The had a surprisingly impressive collection of Monet, Cézanne, Rodin, Morisot and one of the most beautiful Van Gogh’s I have ever seen:

Van Gogh: Landscape at Auvers in the Rain

(In case you can’t tell I’m a huge art fan. Studio art and art history are by far my favorite classes outside of Physics.)

This was then followed by a delightful dinner in the great hall. I think everyone had a great time and the banquet was a huge success (proven by the fact only a hand full of us showed up on time for the first lecture the next morning)

All in all Cardiff was wonderful (despite all the excess consonants in the Welsh language) but now I’m back home in Manchester. It’s odd to think I only have a week left here in the UK. Then a few short weeks of some family time (and continuing work on my internship) then back to school. Where did my summer go?!

Goals for the Summer (or what’s left of it):

    • finish my program for my internship
    • study for the GRE
    • figure out who I want to research under in the fall  (Astrophysics vs Condensed Matter)
    •  go to as many Tae Kwon Do classes as possible







































~ Do you have any goals for the rest of the summer?

Read Full Post »

Do you hear the people sing?

So I realize I’ve been a bit m.i.a lately. There are plenty of reasons for this (some better than others) but lets take a bit of a recap of what I’ve missed.


I began Thursday by scalding my hand quite badly while pouring my morning tea. The top of my left hand was covered in a large second degree burn leaving me quite unable to type for the day. It is still an odd purple color five days later, but it’s healing slowly but surely.

Herman had a growth spurt on Thursday. He ate one cup each of flour, sugar and milk, he is now so large that we have had to switch his bowls.



I have this theory (which is mine!) that when David Bowie playing in the cafe when I purchase/drink my coffee the day is going to be spectacular. This theory has yet to have an exception (mostly because we make our own luck).

We had planned a trip to London to go see Les Misérables at The Queen’s Theatre in London’s theatre district. Unfortunately the show was sold out for about a month before we thought to get tickets, but we decided to make the trip to London anyway.

We caught a 6 AM train and arrived in London a little after 9 AM, naturally the first thing I wanted to do was get a cup of coffee, and sure enough David Bowie’s China Girl started playing as I took my first sip. I told my flat mate then and there: this was going to be an amazing day. And it was…

First, it was SUNNY … in LONDON … I have been to London three times in the past and the weather proved to be rainy, rainy and then bitter cold and snowy. London proves to be much more enjoyable in the sun.

My flat mate had the idea to go to the Les Mis box office to see if anyone had returned any tickets to the show. We arrived just as the doors were opening and were greeted with the SOLD OUT sign. But in fine print under that sign were the magical words “standing tickets £10” They cautioned us that from this position the top of the stage was obstructed by an overhang, but I would have paid £10 to sit in there blindfolded! Les Mis has got to be my all time favorite musical and this was an opening week performance with Alfie Boe as Valjean, Hadly Fraser as Javert and Matt Lucas as Thénardier. You couldn’t ask for a better cast!

We figured we had enough time before the matinée to go see Westminster Abbey, which has been closed each time I came to London in the past.

This building is bursting with history, it is the resting place of the Monarchs of England (up until Henry VIII) as well as many other important figures in British history: Churchill, Chaucer, Darwin …

As an aspiring physicist the monument to Sir Isaac Newton was particularly inspiring. This was the man who, four hundred years ago, started dissecting gravity and planetary motion. I find it quite fitting that the inscription on his grave reads Hic depositum est, quod mortale fuit Isaaci Newtoni or “Here lies that which was mortal of Isaac Newton”.

After the Abbey we headed back towards the Theatre and stopped for lunch. How can you go to London without eating fish and chips? Well if you’re vegetarian that’s how. Except we found a pub that offered vegetarian “fish” and chips. Yum. Again, my luck continues.

We arrived at the theatre about a half hour before the show and decided to see if anyone had returned any tickets yet. It was, yet again, our lucky day. Someone had just returned two tickets in the center of the second row of the first balcony. We traded in our standing seats with out a second glance. The seats were amazing, absolutely perfect, some of the best in the house. And Alfie Boe was the best Valjean I have ever heard let alone seen with my own eyes. The show was absolutely amazing, an experience of a lifetime.

When we left the theatre we discovered that the participants of London’s Pride Parade had moved to party in Soho. We had quite an amusing time finding our way out of the crowd of drunken semi-dressed people partying in the streets. I’m afraid this may have been slightly traumatizing to my flat mate, but I found the whole experience quite amusing. Had I been in a familiar city with a group of friends I may have hung around for a bit.

On the way back to the train we stopped for dinner. I got a delightfully refreshing gazpacho, perfect after three hours of breathing in second hand stage smoke.

We then arrived home, stirred Herman and reflected on our absolutely amazing day.

~Are you a fan of musicals? What’s your favorite?

Read Full Post »

Meet Herman!

Today we added a new member to our flat. Herman, the German Friendship Cake!

Day 1: I get Herman!

“Put me in a large bowl and cover with a tea towel.”

Herman is a sourdough cake that you work for 10 days, then slit into four equal parts, continuing to bake one and pass the other three on to friends. A woman from work gave me my iteration of Herman and I plan to ask about the story previous to my involvement.

I’m quite amused by the fact that they have named him Herman; when I was young I used to name EVERYTHING Herman. My favorite was my imaginary pet rock, Herman. Now I get a pet cake, Herman too!

Tonight my goal was to cook something my flat mate would eat, or at least try. So I tried a Tofu Pad Thai, I mean everyone likes pad thai. The only problem was I had never made it before. I threw together a sauce of tamarind paste, soy sauce, agave (to cancel the bitter aftertaste of the tamarind), and red chili pepper. I took a large skillet, sauteed some green onion and garlic, scrambled two eggs then threw on some partially cooked rice noodles with the sauce and a bit of vegetable broth. Towards the end I added some marinated tofu. The result was not the best presentation, but she liked it (apart from the tofu) though I think she got a bit too many chili peppers in her scoop…

I also decided to do a bit of simple baking today. I tried a slight variation on Leanne’s Itty Bitty Strawberry Coconut Tarts. Instead of filling mine with coconut cream I decided to make a Coconut Yogurt Cup. I followed her recipe for the cup, though I used a full sized muffin pan. Then I simply filled them with organic strawberry yogurt. Delicious!

The entire time I was making these Harry Belafonte’s Coconut Woman song was stuck in my head!

Make sure you keep checking in over the next couple days to hear how Herman’s doing! Also, if you happen to be in the Manchester Area and are interested in taking a portion of Herman that needs to be passed on please let me know!

Read Full Post »

Lake Country

Here in England I have the weekends off work, so my flat mate and I take this opportunity to travel. Today was quite sunny (you heard me right, sun, in England)! So it was perfect weather for a trip to the lake country. Now my flat mate tends to choose where we go on the weekends and when I first stepped off the train I was severely afraid she was off her rocker. I had just sat on a train for two hours and all I could see was field. No lake. No town. Not even sheep. Nothing. Fortunately once we turned around and walked down the road a bit we came to this adorable little town:


We sat down for breakfast and I got a cup of coffee. Not just any cup of coffee, but one good enough to erase the last of my misgivings about the trip.

Now, my coworkers have been recommending I try some typically British foods, one of which is a Full English Breakfast. Being that this is includes sausage, bacon and blood pudding (a type of sausage made from cooking blood until is thick enough to congeal) I thought I’d pass on that one. This place, however, offered a Full Vegetarian English Breakfast:

Eggs, mushrooms, beans, hash browns,

vegetarian sausage (or vegetarian junkfood as a friend of mine would call it)

and half tomatoes

Knowing I probably wouldn’t find this option anywhere else, and that I had a long day of hiking up and down the hills surrounding the (still illusive) lake, I decided to go ahead and try it. It was fantastic, but far too much to finish, I wish I could have take a to-go box.

So after that completely and utterly unhealthy breakfast we headed out to explore. We were winging it, but figured if we headed downhill we would probably find the lake. We followed a winding road encountering so many beautiful gardens (after years in Manhattan I think I’m finally hitting nature withdrawal)

































After about a few kilometers our logic proved fruitful. We found the lake:

Lake Windermere (the largest natural lake in England)

On our way back up a hill we decided to stop for a late lunch. They had very few vegetarian options so I ended up with more carbs, though a very delicious herb and tomato bruschetta:

I also got to try a fizzy dandelion and burdock drink, it was slightly peculiar but refreshing:

After lunch we discovered we were in the town where Beatrix Potter lived when she wrote most of her stories. If you don’t know who Beatrix Potter is, I’m sorry but you’ve had a severely deprived childhood. She wrote Peter Rabbit, and all those adorable little animal stories, as well as painting the illustrations in watercolor (a medium I have never mastered)

Jemima Puddleduck (one of my personal favorites)

So after buying a small gift for my baby sister (well kinda sister) at the Peter Rabbit & Friends shop, we set out to find Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s cottage. We found hill top on the map and started up a beautiful (but steep) road that seemed to go on up forever. At the top we reached a Hill Top road and learned from a kind old woman that we were actually on the wrong side of the lake to find the cottage! I suppose this is the sort of thing that happens to tourists who jump on a train without looking where they’re going first, but it’s all more of an adventure that way. We were rewarded for the climb when we started down and got an amazing view of the rolling hills of the Lake Country.

It was quite a rewarding trip, even though we never did make it to Hill Top. I think a day out in nature was exactly what I needed.

~ What’s best place you’ve traveled?

Read Full Post »