Archive for August, 2009

I Left My Heart in SF <3.


San Francisco is, hands down, one of my favorite cities ever. Although it’s not the cleanest and it doesn’t boast the greatest weather, there is a vibe throughout the city that cannot be replicated. The diverse population, the various districts and their cultures, and the fact that you have no reason to ever be bored with the innumerable things to do, definitely make it one of the world’s greatest cities. Although I had planned on spending this weekend in SF to take a jaunt down to Golden Gate Park, the Outside Lands festival that took over the mega-green pushed that idea to the wayside. Instead, my cousin, B., and I stayed in a little B&B in the Marina and spent our evening in the super-fun North Beach area. For anyone that hasn’t had the pleasure of experiencing North Beach, it’s a must! It is by far one of my favorite areas of the city with its Italiano vibe and amazing patrons. B. and I cabbed it the entire weekend so we wouldn’t have to worry about driving, parking or having a few drinks. Our first stop last night was Calzone’s on Columbus Street. B. had been raving about their amazing drinks the entire day, so we had to stop there to test out their fare. After a crostini appetizer & a Moscow Mojito (think normal mojito with limon vodka vs. rum — delish), we agreed that it was a great joint. Additionally, we met the cutest family from England (Newcastle, to be specific) and ended up chatting them up for a bit. They definitely solidified my excitement for the big move!



After a bite at Calzone’s, we moved next door to Figaro’s where we met our super-server/bartender Joel & his version of the Moscow Mojito. Though they didn’t have one on the menu, B. requested that he make something similar. After some bruschetta & another drink, we were happy with our experience. A plus for anyone that’s visiting: they (allegedly) have some amazing gnocchi. Although we didn’t stay for dinner, their food looked superb!


For our last stop of the night, we hit up a tried and true favorite, The Stinking Rose. Chris & I had dinner at The Rose about a year ago & it definitely made me fall in love with North Beach. You can smell the garlic from outside & the food is super delish! B. and I split the gnochetti entree for dinner & left there knowing that we were keeping vampires (and boys) away for life. Word of advice: bring a pack of gum/Costco-sized Listerine. If you’re a huge garlic fan, they even have a plain roasted garlic bulb on the menu! Mmmm?


After a decent-night’s sleep, we hit up a mass Sunday morning at St. Peter and Paul’s Church (also in North Beach) and B. and I were asked to take the eucharist & wine up to the priest — definitely the most involved I have ever been in a mass in my many years of existence. Although I do not consider myself the most religious of persons, the church was spectacular; more European than American in its design. Side note: This was clearly Joe DiMaggio’s favorite place — he was married & had his funeral at this church. Worth checking out!

After mass, B. and I explored a bit of North Beach before our fun-filled weekend was at an end. We popped into a little bakery called La Boulange on Columbus for a bit of coffee and were pretty surprised to learn that they serve coffee in bowls! We got ours to-go in standard paper cups but some of the in-house coffee drinkers were equally surprised to be sipping lattes out of bowls. Pretty cool, though!


Lastly, B. grabbed some goodies for the fam (cannolis & sweets) so she could go back bearing gifts. We had an amazing weekend from start to finish. Although our B&B, Edward II, was not the most spectacular of residences, for the affordable price & the location, it was worth the investment. Plus, we got to enjoy some breakfast before heading out in the AM!

A little weird to think that the next time I’ll be in SF will be when I’m saying goodbye to the US & hello to the UK!

Anyone have any amazing must-sees in San Francisco? Was anyone in SF for the Outside Lands festival?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

To see photos of the many adventures of Shannon & B. from this weekend, check here!


Grammar Nazi on Patrol.


I am a grammar nazi. Really. Everyone has a pet-peeve, right? Something that just irritates them beyond belief? Well, for me, that happens to be poor grammar and an incorrect usage of homophones. Also, since text messaging and instant messaging have become normal conversational tools, it seems that this texting/messaging language has made its way into our daily lives, plaguing our emails and correspondence. I understand the stray comma or the forgotten semicolon here and there, but to write and entire paragraph that is void of punctuation and capitalization? Not only unacceptable — purely indecipherable! If you don’t capitalize, I don’t know where your sentence begins. If you don’t punctuate, you force me to try and read your three paragraph email as one incredibly long run-on sentence. It’s impossible!

Also, note to those that write in such an indecipherable manner, CAPITALIZATION is used in a few capacities: primarily when beginning a sentence or when capitalizing a proper noun. You can’t use compensatory capitalization! For example:

hey ma wanted to see if you wanted To get coffee

Capitalizing “to” in this sentence doesn’t make up for the fact that you suck at writing. It doesn’t take the place of capitalizing the first letter of the sentence, nor does it make up for the fact that you’ve left out punctuation in its entirety. Moreover, it NEVER makes up for the fact that you’ve referred to me as “ma,” “babe,” or any other bizarro term that you find appropriate for me. FYI — I’m not your mom, so calling me “ma,” “mama,” or “mami” is just incestuously weird.

Now, moving on to homophones… oh Lord, with the homophones.

To, Two, Too

There, They’re, Their

Yes, when you say them, they sound the same. That is the joy of a homophone. They are not, however, interchangeable in any way. For example, the following sentences do not work and never will:

I’m going to.
It’s over their.
I think it’s there’s.

If any of those looked remotely correct to you, I suggest you read this book and then re-visit this post and this situation. In the first case {I’m going to}, it really looks like an incomplete sentence (and I’m not just being a bitchy grammar queen); it appears as though you’re saying “I’m going to…. [some specific location],” but didn’t finish your thought. It does not appear as though you are trying to say that you are going, also. In that case, you would say “I’m going, too.” As a side note, bye and by are two different words, as are here and hear. Learn how they work before you use them.

Lastly (last rant here [not “hear”], kiddos): Using text language in normal semi-professional correspondence is a no-no. FYI, it was never a yes-yes. I get that sometimes the 150 characters allotted to a text message aren’t enough to complete your thought, and thusly you have to use some text-y abbreviated language: r for “are” or u for “you”. I can totally understand that in a text message. When typing an email to another human being, there is seriously no reason to ever use “u” instead of “you.” Never. You are not so pressed for time that you can’t hit the other two characters that comprise that word. “4” instead of “for”? Same thing. Lame. To the nth degree.

Using l8r instead of “later”? I think it probably took you longer to find the “8” key than to actually just type out “later” like a normal person. Or using “wuz” instead of “was?” I mean, really? You’re not saving any characters in your text and you look like a total tool. “Wuz”? In what language is that correct?

I’m not a bitch, I promise. I’m just a girl who appreciates correct grammar and spelling. Additionally, I think that running across a gentleman who understands the correct use of punctuation and implementation of grammar is so incredibly attractive… probably because I can decipher his text messages :)

Gotta jet now. Talk to you kids l8r,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Scholarly Events. Pip, pip.

bookDear Fellow Scholars:

Now that my stresses are relieved after receiving my student visa, I have channeled my happy energy into something new: finding London-based events worth attending. Above you’ll see a new tab entitled Scholarly Events added to this smart-kid website. After doing some research, I have found a number of events happening in the UK to help expand our knowledge and open our minds. Although many of the events are focused in my area of interest, International Development, there are events that will appeal to people of all areas of study. Many of the events are free, as they are hosted by local universities. Those that do charge a fee often have student pricing that is significantly lower than the price typical of a public ticket.

Since we have a year abroad in one of the most amazing cities in the world, we definitely have some amazing opportunities to listen to some renowned speakers and leaders of our generation. I am currently waiting for some information on events hosted by the London School of Economics, but the School of Oriental and African Studies, along with UCL have posted a number of events that are open to the public and would prove to be quite the academic adventure for those looking for some brain-tingling stimulation.

If you are hosting any events or know of any relevant events that you think should be added to the list, drop me a line with the event name, date, time, host, website and cost of tickets. If there are available student/group discounts, that would also be a plus!

Happy studying,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Bonnes Nouvelles — Le visa vient!

Fantastic news, friends:

My UK Student Visa is on the way!


I am beyond excited right now — the visa was essentially the last component to get the move completely under control and as of yesterday, everything is secure. Now that all of the stressful paperwork is in order, I can get excited and not worry about being stranded in the United States sans student visa.

FYI for those that are still waiting, here’s an idea of the time frame from start to finish:

July 29th, 2009 // Sent my visa from Sacramento, California with package tracking
August 3, 2009 // Package arrived in Los Angeles (per tracking #)
August 17, 2009 // Received an email from VisaInfoLA noting that my visa was beginning to process
August 25, 2009 // Visa approved and UPS Tracking Number was sent via email
August 26, 2009 // Got a call from UPS noting that my package was overnighted and would be arriving today!

About a month from start to finish to receive the visa, possibly a little more now since they’re pretty backed up, but on the brightside — once it is approved, it should be delivered within 1 – 2 business days!

Super happy travels!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Inside Look: The Scholar’s Bag

I recently asked a friend to grab my cell phone from my purse and after ten minutes of sifting through everything in my bag, he handed it back to me, defeated. “How can you find anything in here?” I understand the frustration, but there is some level of organization to my madness. My bag is an integral part of my existence. Inside it holds all of the tidbits that I need to be successful traveler & an overall successful person.

What’s in my bag?

My iPhone.

Well, it’s actually a BlackBerry currently, but my multi-functional phone is of the utmost importance. I make phone calls, organize my calendar, browse the internet & utilize the GPS if I’m lost. How did people live before cell phones?

PenWriting Utensils.

Pens, pencils, sharpies, and occasionally my black eyeliner will suffice. Quite frankly, I find that there are too many thoughts floating around in my head. At any given moment, I like to jot down notes so I don’t forget an important thought that arises here and there. Occasionally, I’ll run across something inspirational that prompts blog thoughts — musn’t forget those. Pens are a necessity!

B of A Debit Card.

Who can live without one? I can even use it internationally at certain banks without being charged withdrawal fees! Made for me! Plus, there are a load of identity theft protection features that make my life easier.


{Smart} Water.

Dehydration = nasty headache for me. Considering the extreme amounts of caffeine I ingest
on any given day, I think that water is of the utmost importance. Plus, if I make a stop at
the gym, I always have some serious hydration in hand.

The Kite Runner

Good Reads.

This may take the form of a book, a Social Policy paper from the UN (talk about real excitement) or the latest edition of US Weekly. Whatever the case, I try to keep an attention-grabbing piece with me to read whenever I have downtime. It’s also quite nice to have a book while I’m at the gym (I’m one of the crazies that runs & reads). Additionally, I find that in a crunch, I can rip off a corner of a magazine and use it as a micro notepad!



The ultimate accessory! Carrying (oversized) sunglasses with me at all times is a must! Not only are they important for obvious reasons (when it’s sunshiny!), but they’re also fantastic for early morning coffee runs when I don’t want to put makeup on, long flights that make my eyes look super tired and they’re key in battling fine lines under the eyes (since I know all you male readers care a TON about that!) The bigger the better — my philosophy on most things <3.

CanonDigital Camera!

This item deserves an exclamation point! I cannot LIVE without my camera — I started becoming super obsessive about recording life’s fun over the years and I religiously carry a camera with me at all times. How could I have a super cool, photo-filled blog if I didn’t record my life like the OCD blogger that I am? My pink Canon is the best!

What’s a must in your bag?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Family Reunion Recap <3.

Our family reunion was a total success! It was the first of many to come and we actually had a fantastic turn out. It was really nice to see everyone before heading out for my year (or more!) overseas. As a side note, Folsom Lake ended up being a great location for the event: great weather + picnic tables + an alcohol permit made for a fun-filled Saturday in Northern California. Thanks to the many out-of-towners from the Bay Area, San Diego and Las Vegas for coming!

Shan&Stace2Staci & I — we definitely don’t get to see each other enough!

Shan&Tiff2Tiff & I at the lake!

DylanThe youngest one of the bunch — the best 5-year-old on the PLANET!

Kerri&DylanDylan with Kerri (his girlfriend for the day!)

Stef&Aaron2Stef with her (awesome) boyfriend Aaron — all the way from Vegas!

IMG_6023My grandma — dressed for success!

IMG_5927Loving life <3.

IMG_5945Pretty day at the lake — 90 degrees of joy.

To finish off the night, Staci, Stefanie, Aaron & I headed to Hangar 17 to partake in 2 for 1 drinks from 10 – 11P. Super fun — I miss my cousins!

If anyone has any more pictures to post, please send them my way!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

I’ll Take That Dissertation To Go, Please!

If you’ve read any/all of my previous posts, you know by now that I am one plagued by grandiose dreams. I can’t visit France, I have to rent a flat in France for a week and explore the Louvre from top to bottom. I can’t book a weekend in Rome, I have to pre-schedule visits to art galleries and find a slew of restaurants I will be hitting up per Rachel Ray’s recommendations. I’m a planner. A planner who plans big. That being said, I have tentatively (very tentatively) planned a little map of fun for next summer. I specifically chose an accommodation provided by LSE that had a contract of 40 weeks (instead of the standard 52). July 3rd, which marks the last day of Lent Term, also marks the last day of my housing contract. After speaking with my graduate department, I have been assured that being in the UK is not mandatory during the summer. The only thing that is mandatory is that one’s dissertation is completed and submitted by September’s end in 2010. Well, being the advantageous Californian that I am, I have a well-thought out plan of attack for the 12 weeks that I would be homeless: Euro trip + hostels + rented villas = the life!


My plan from the beginning has been to spend the summer in hostels and/or homes that provide Wi-fi, so I can travel and see the world whilst working on my crazily important dissertation. I have no intention of letting my studies or responsibilities fall by the wayside, but I do think that if doing my dissertation in London isn’t required, then I will be using those 12 weeks to check out a load of European countries. With discount airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir providing amazing flight deals (£1, £5, £10, etc.), a little flexibility and an internet connection is all I will need to have a super fun-filled summer. Plus, with fellow students being interested in this madness, I know I have some partners in crime with which to share the costs of a villa.

On the list for next summer:

1. Portugal
2. Spain
3. France
4. Italy
5. Switzerland
6. Germany
7. Czech Republic
8. Belgium
9. Netherlands
10. Denmark
11. Turkey
12. Greece

With the amazing deals on hostels and on vacation homes, traveling is actually super affordable. Considering I am paying about £160 ($265) per week to have a place to live in London, any place that offers housing for the same amount (or less) per week, will fit into my plans perfectly. At that rate, anything that costs less than costs less than $35 – $37 per night is in my range and most hostels are much less than that (depending on the country)!

Amazing what discount airlines and one-star accommodations can afford us!

Signature Stamp - Shannon