26 September 2009

A Sunny Day in London Town

On Thursday, Jonty and I went into London for the day. We had a rough start to the day, as parking in Oxford (where we caught the bus) was a disaster. Once we got into town, though, we had a great time.

First stop was a little Mexican restaurant Jonty had seen in Soho a couple of times before but always closed. Our luck turned around when we saw it was open! Anyone who has lived in the UK can identify with the difficulty of finding good Mexican food. Even good salsa is pretty hard to come by. Our burritos and nachos (ended up being way too much food) were pretty darn good!

We went shopping on Oxford Street for a while, then headed toward the Embankment. I saw Trafalgar Square, which had a lot of people--tourists and locals--hanging out on the steps and by the fountain.

Next, we went to the National Gallery. We saw lots of famous paintings and several pieces by some my favorite artists. A few we looked at are: Van Gogh's Chair, Sunflowers (Van Gogh), The Water-Lily Pond (Monet), and Bathers at La Grenouillรจre (Monet). It was amazing to see such well-known pieces of art just a few feet away from my face, and impressionist paintings are particularly amazing to see close-up. Unfortunately, Jonty's favorite painting was on exhibition elsewhere, so we didn't get to see it, but we'll go back once it's reinstated at the end of January.

Thanks to the woman who offered to take our photo!

We then headed back to Oxford Street to meet Jonty's grandparents. They took us out to dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant. The food was delicious, the service impeccable, and the company very enjoyable.

Thanks to the waiter for stopping everything to snap a photo!

After dinner, we said good-bye to his grandparents and hopped onto the London Eye as one of the last passengers for the night. We were lucky to have such a clear day in London. Any other day, we might not get such a clear view, but that night we were able to see the whole city lit up.

Photo taken from the top of the London Eye. Lit up on the left is the Palace of Westminster
(aka the Houses of Parliament), complete with Big Ben, overlooking the River Thames.

We headed home tired but happy after a lovely day in London.

Photo taken from the Golden Jubilee Bridge. Left to right: London Eye, the Palace of Westminster.


23 September 2009

Golden Birthday

A few days ago was my Golden Birthday--I turned 22. I knew it would be a good day, but it turned out even lovelier than I expected.

The evening before, Jonty's family wished me a very purple happy birthday. They gave me a lovely, soft, warm robe, a coffee mug, hot cocoa mix, calming bath milk, & a nail file.

They also gave me gorgeous purple flowers, which I mixed in with the pretty white and pink ones Jonty gave me.

On my birthday, I woke up to breakfast in bed! The banana pancakes were so good that I couldn't wait to eat long enough to take a photo. We ate while watching Season One of LOST (our current series of choice) in bed.

Then he presented me with flowers (above) and a great mirror for my new room!

After breakfast/LOST/presents, I got ready and Jonty drove me to a small town nearby. We parked the car at a park and walked down the road.

He walked me to a restaurant next to a stream called The Trout. I immediately obsessed about the decor.

We sat outside and had a beautiful view. These chairs would be a great place to read in the summer.

There was a domesticated peacock that wanted to eat our food (which was amazing, by the way). Jonty had to stare him down.

We wandered in Oxford for a while, stopping in some cool vintage shops and a great bookstore. After everything shut, we read in Starbucks until our reservation at 7:00. Jonty wouldn't tell me where we were eating until we got there because he knows I love surprises. We had dinner at Brown's, a posh restaurant just outside of city centre.

The atmosphere and food were great, but the Pimm's & lemonade I ordered was the best!

And to top off a very sweet day with a very sweet boy, I saw a hedgehog for the first time in the backyard!

Isn't he the cutest???


20 September 2009


I woke up with a cold this morning and am slightly bitter about it. I knew last night that I would wake up ill, but I drank a few ciders anyway and I'm sure that's what really did it. So in a sense it's my fault that I feel like this right now.

Most of today wasn't too bad. My headache went away after a while and my sore throat got better after a hot cup of tea with honey and lemon. I was mostly just sniffly. But now that it's later in the day, my sinuses are starting to hurt from all of the nose-blowing and I'm getting really tired.

When I get sick, my most major symptom is exhaustion. It's a genre of tired that I've never gotten other than when I have a cold. It feels sort of like I could float away, or melt--like I could curl up in bed and just not move for days at a time. And today I realized something about that feeling... I kind of like it. Don't get me wrong; being sick sucks. But colds are life's way of telling you to take it easy. They're an excuse to get some rest. I'm quite thankful that my body is saying, "Just chill out, take care of yourself, and let me do my work."

But it is a bummer that I'll be sick on my birthday!


Lazy Sunday

I haven't seen this video in a long time and got the urge to watch it today. Enjoy!

I'm having a nice lazy Sunday myself.


19 September 2009

Birthdays Past & Present

After reading Sarah Jane's post on birthdays past, I've been thinking about my previous birthday celebrations. While I was lucky enough to have two birthday parties (one with Dad, one with Mom) for most of my childhood, my birthday experiences pretty much go downhill from there.

One year, I planned a day trip to San Francisco that my friends forgot about. After we rescheduled I ended up the fifth wheel, a bit left out from the group, and we ended up shopping at the mall rather than going to the Haite District and having dinner on the pier like I'd wanted.

Another year I decided to go to the beach. I couldn't convince any friends to go last minute, so my (now ex) boyfriend's friends were my crew for the day. While I had fun watching them play football on the sand and run into the freezing water, we had to leave early because one of the guys had brought his love interest--get this--who had gotten her wisdom teeth removed the day before (!!!) and she was tired (duh). Said person also requested no rock (my music of choice) on the two hour car ride (IN MY CAR ON MY BIRTHDAY). On top of that, my contact scratched my eye AND I got sick from the pre-mixed margaritas I drank at the beach and the blooming onion I decided to eat for dinner at Applebee's.

But not all of my birthdays were that bad. Most were just dull. Theater rehearsal, studying for a test, birthday cake after dinner. I think my family did try to make it fun, but I guess I hyped up the day a bit too much to enjoy something ordinary.

A couple of birthdays stand out as being pretty good. For my 18th birthday, I had just moved into the dorms at UC Santa Barbara, and I worried that I'd have no one to celebrate with. Thankfully, my amazing roommate Roya paid attention. She surprised me with some earrings I'd pointed out a few days before, which was really sweet. I went with her and her friend Derek to get my nose pierced in Isla Vista, and we went back to our room and fell asleep watching a movie.

My 21st birthday was simple but nice, too. I was doing an international exchange in Oxford and yet again was surrounded by people I had just started getting to know. More than anything, I really didn't want to have to plan anything, especially since my plan to go punting was ruined by the weather. My new friends planned a dinner in the city centre and then brought me back to our flat for a surprise apple crumble. While it was hardly how most Twenty-First Birthdays go, I still had a nice time and was touched at the thought the girls put into it.

This year, I've already had some birthday celebration, since my family wanted to do something before I crossed the pond. My mom, Doug, Sissa and I went for pizza at Steve's and then saw the original Parent Trap at the Screen on the Green (a free movie in the park) down the street from our house. I opened some nice gifts, and my sister made me red velvet cake with rainbow chip frosting (mmm!).

The actual day of my birth, though, is this coming Tuesday. I tell people that I'm used to having not-so-great birthdays, but the truth is that every year I still look forward to the day expectantly. There's something exciting about having a whole 24 hours that count as "my day." I think that I won't be disappointed this year. Just the fact that Jonty has put a bit of thought into some plans makes me feel good. He has a restaurant in Oxford chosen for dinner (but hasn't told me which one--yay for surprises!)... and he also mentioned breakfast in bed (my fingers are crossed!). But as far as the rest of the day goes, I haven't decided what I want to do.

Some options:
* a lazy day watching House/LOST/X-Files
* a trip into London (perhaps including London Eye, British Museum, National Gallery and/or afternoon cream tea?)
* reading and a picnic (weather pending)
* wandering, shopping and cocktails before dinner Oxford

I feel like the perfect idea is right at the edge of my brain, but I just can't locate it. If I was at home, I would throw a creative party like this one!


17 September 2009

Season of Love

With summer quickly coming to an end, it seems everyone is settling into all the good things that the change of seasons brings. Fall fashion has been a hit blog topic, especially with Fashion Week in full force last week. Thoughts of sweaters and scarves also hint toward cups of tea, pumpkin muffins, walks in the wind, and evenings inside with those you love.

And it seems that the blog topic du jour is Love. Something about autumn emphasizes the warm feeling that love brings. It reminds us to bring life down a notch and to enjoy what we have. I'm enjoying spending time with Jonty lately. And the coming of fall is reminding me to slow down. For a person so obsessed with planning and organizing, it's surprising that I'm so content with just going with the flow--watching a movie inside, having a nice meal, going to the fair, whatever--as long as I'm with him.

But autumn hasn't arrived quite yet, so I'm going to hold onto summer as much as I can these next few days.

Speaking of summer, if you haven't seen 500 Days of Summer yet, go right now! The colors, clothes, interior design, and cinematography are all worth noting, not to mention Zooey Dechanel's beauty and charm!

[photo from IMDb]


16 September 2009

The World at my Fingertips

Now that so much more of the world is within reach, I'm loving globes. I really want one on my desk to make me look scholarly and to help me brush up on my geography, since Jonty is always besting me in that field. Vintage-looking designs like this one are my fave.

I need to start looking in thrift stores and on eBay for some cheap ones...


15 September 2009

I've Got Decorating on the Brain

Since I'll be moving into a new place soon, with very few items from home, I've had my mind on decorating lately. I know my walls will be a light shade of yellow/gold, I believe the trim will be white, and I'm not sure about the color of the blinds.

Jonty's family and I made a trip to IKEA on Sunday, where I got my bedlinens (a gift from his parents, actually, which was very thoughtful).

My sheets are about this shade of teal.

Since my place will be brand new when I move in, I'm concerned that it will have a really sterile feeling. So I hope to find some thrift shop treasures to make it look a bit more homey. My main focus right now is finding a great mirror with lots of character. Here are some thrifted mirror muses of mine:

I hope to make some older, funky finds and revamp them myself. Centsational Girl and Dollar Store Crafts will hopefully give me some fun (& cheap) ideas. I'll also be using The Big Ass Book of Crafts that Sissa gave me for my birthday.

Speaking of my birthday, it's one week from today! I'll be 22. Pretty exciting...

Off to the Witney market and charity shops!


11 September 2009

My New Home

Well, first and foremost, I have arrived in the UK to stay (for the next year, at least). I thought I would be shocked at all the differences (like last time but not quite as intense), but I was surprised to find I felt very comfortable from the start.

The beginning of this week was devoted to finding a house in Bristol (where I will be getting my MA in Philosophy). I knew I would like Bristol, but I didn't know how much! I was expecting an Oxford-type town and was (pleasantly) surprised when I saw tall buildings and a new shopping mall! It has a mix of these urban pieces, plus neo-Gothic style university buildings, PLUS lots of funky little shops and organic eateries. I'm so excited to do more exploring! There were definitely snags in our house search here and there, but I was thankful for the sunny days to guide our way. (Apparently it typically rains a lot in Bristol so this is a big deal.) We finally found a place. It's actually still being built and will be ready to move into by the Thursday of our first week, but it's worth it. Pros: brand new place, third floor, two bathrooms (with showers) for four people, new furniture, relatively good location. Cons: not much character (yet), a bit of a walk from campus. All in all, this will be a great place. Also, our landlord Bojang is my new BFF.

My housemates are worth noting as well. Nell is an English girl getting a PhD in Chemistry, Jim (James) is an English guy doing Law, and Michael is a German guy doing Commerce Law. All three are very nice and very different, so we will make quite an interesting bunch!

Now I'm back in Witney (near Oxford) at Jonty's house for the next few weeks. Today we're going into Oxford (I miss it soooo much so I'm excited to be going back!!) and we may be going punting!!!


05 September 2009

My Crazy Life

I took a Tylenol PM two hours ago and am still awake. "Why?" you may ask. Because I leave for the United Kingdom tomorrow (well, today since it's after midnight), and a million things are running through my head.

The past week has been utter mayhem. Saying my goodbyes, finishing up work, packing, and cleaning, to say the least. But that is just a start. My flight was scheduled to leave on Thursday morning, and I realized Tuesday night that I wasn't going to receive my visa in time. And this is when the craziness began. I immediately get in contact with the British Consulate in LA (very difficult to get ahold of). Then I rebooked my flight for Saturday and flew down to LA with my mom on Thursday morning. I had an appointment, and the woman I spoke to informed me that I could pick up my visa the next day at 3pm or I could receive it by mail on Monday, maybe Tuesday. Since my flight leaves before Monday, I had to choose her first option, and the date/time of pickup was definitely not negotiable with this woman. And so we waited.

Thankfully, the British Consulate is in West Los Angeles, just down the street from Santa Monica. My mom and I ended up having a blast, [window] shopping on The Third Street Promenade, drinking cider and eating Irish nachos (nachos made with potato wedges), and laying around and swimming at the beach. We then got a great deal on a room at the Raddison ($79, believe it or not!) that had Sleep Number Beds and squishy pillows. It was really nice to have some extra quality time with my mom, and I ended up being kind of happy all of the delays happened.

That being said, I picked my visa up today, yay! After bus issues and missing one flight, I got home safely. I leave tomorrow for England, and I just cannot believe it! It really only started to sink in this evening, and even then it doesn't seem real. I'm going to miss Sacramento, my family, my friends, etc. so much! But I'm excited to finally be with Jonty again, and to begin my new adventure! My next post will be written over 5,000 miles away!

The Tylenol PM is calling me to bed... Time to get a decent-ish night's sleep before embarking on my journey.


01 September 2009

My Apologies for Being MIA

Read an explanation for my lack of new posts here.

I'm hoping to get at least one good one in before I head out of the USA!