Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

Saying Goodbye to 2009.

It’s 930A, I’m up and feeling much better than I have been the last few days. Sniffles are gone and congestion has nearly disappeared! Thank God for lots of water, soup and Bendadryl to help me sleep about 18 hours yesterday. I’ve been holed up for a few days but I woke up this morning to the realization that today marks the last day of 2009. Crazy, really. Where has this year gone?! Despite the fact that time has flown by, a lot has happened this year for me; lots of big changes that have had a big impact on my life. Time for me to reminisce a bit and welcome in 2010!

Dad & I took our first international trip together in February. We visited England to look at possible grad schools… that was only 10 months ago? Wow. I’m already through 3 months of grad school!

I don’t know if I secretly thought/hoped that my grandparents would live forever, but my grandpa passed away in March and it was the first time I had to say goodbye to someone with whom I was extremely close. It was also the first family death I had to deal with in my adult life, and it marked the first eulogy I ever delivered. Even though I know he’s not alive anymore, I often still feel like he’s here, which makes living life much easier.

Got my acceptance to LSE in April (I applied quite late)! I actually recall the moment of my acceptance with 100% clarity. I think it’s like the JFK assassination moment that everyone from that generation talks about — you know exactly what you were doing and exactly where you were. I was so elated when I got the letter, definitely changed the course of my life. Here I am now, half way through taught courses with amazing new friends and loads of fun travel stories. I can’t imagine having been anywhere else!

Ahhh… graduation from undergrad was a very bitter-sweet moment for me. It was great to be able to say goodbye to my undergrad and know that I had the opportunity to pursue my Masters in London in the fall, but it was sad graduating and not having my grandpa there for the first time. Nevertheless, definitely a milestone!

A surprise birthday weekend for Tiff & our first family vacation in forever! We planned a surprise getaway to Carmel for Tiffany’s 19th Birthday this year, complete with handmade surprises and super-cute B&B. It was the first family vacation we’d been on in years (since Disneyland days) and it was the first time we got to bring nana along! So fun!

Saying goodbye to work after four years! It was quite difficult quitting a reliable job with a steady income to welcome a life of joblessness and full-time Masters work. I’m glad now that I had the wherewithal to actually leave, but it was a bit sad… four years of bonding and relationships and saying goodbye to the full-time job that allowed me to pay my way through undergrad.

One of the biggest things that happened this year? Moving to London! I really didn’t think I had it in me to leave my family, friends, relationships and the normalcy of California life  to move to a foreign country for (at least) a year. I’m happy to announce that I did manage to say my tearful goodbyes and settle in to London life. Quite happily, I might add. I already feel so much more fulfilled & so much more educated!


I didn’t even realize that I had experienced so many life-altering changes this year. How can a year go by so fast and still contain so many memories? I must admit, this blog has definitely come in handy! I had created it with the intention of keeping up with friends and family from afar, but I have found that it has become the best online journal imaginable. Now that I know there are people reading about my daily adventures and trips, I feel somewhat accountable to upload pictures and thoughts on a regular basis. Now, a year later, it’s fun going back and remembering the things that I would have otherwise forgotten!

Thank you to everyone who made my 2009 amazing.
Let’s get ready to take on 2010!

Now, I’m off to make breakfast and face the last day of 2009. Possibly hitting up Trafalgar Square tonight to ring in the New Year!

Love my fish.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Between writing formatives, finishing notes and figuring out life, there are very few reasons for me to take the time to write a second blog post in a single day, but this is definitely one of them! Since I know my dad looooooves reading my blog, I have to give a shout out:

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I wish I could be with you on your birthday, but I’m sending all of my love from London. I hope you have the most amazing birthday ever (as amazing it can be without me there, of course)! Thank you for being such an amazing force in my life and encouraging me each and every day.

[This is going to be odd for everyone except us!]



[Nana’s Birthday Bash!]

[In SF at the Japanese Tea Garden before I left for London!]

[In Carmel for Tiff’s surprise party!]

Love you, dad!

The Canterbury Tales

After a bit of an AM fiasco yesterday (missed the 930A bus that we had booked), Rita, Austin, H., Cosima and I managed to get on the 1030A coach to Canterbury to get the proverbial ball rolling. Let me just say, I secretly wished that my high school English teacher (Mrs. Thompson, if you’re reading this, you’ll be proud!) could see me jetting off on the coach to see the site of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and, more importantly, the site of the beheading/martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket (c.1170). We ended up snagging tickets for £14.20 round trip from London Victoria Station to Canterbury (although we ended up paying a premium for missing our first bus, but I digress); definitely a good deal for all the fun that ensued on our historical excursion. Yesterday also marked Austin’s 25th birthday so it was doubly amazing!

Kentish Countryside
Being that I live in London, we don’t get much of the British countryside during our escapades. Traveling through Kent was definitely a cool experience — we finally got to see some quintessentially British homes, land and architecture.

On our way to the bus stop in Canterbury, we passed by a pretty sweet Castle-esque structure. I think it’s ruins of an old castle (Norman Castle, perhaps?) but I only got a glimpse of it on the way in so I didn’t get to investigate. Still, pretty cool:


Our main objective was to see the Canterbury Cathedral, which dates back to 597AD. I think part of my desire to see the town was from reading Chaucer’s work in high school, but there is something pretty amazing about walking through a Cathedral that was constructed 1000+ years ago. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get to do that every day.

Shannon & Rita at the Canterbury Cathedral
Rita and I were pretty pumped about checking out the Cathedral — even the entrance was amazing! They, of course, charge an admission fee. £6.50 if you’re a student, £7.50 for adults. We tried to pass for a ‘family’ wherein we could all enter for £21.50, but none of us could pass for under 16s and H had a particularly hard time passing as my 24 year-old Asian father (it was worth a shot). Even having to pay the fee, the place was worth it. Simply spectacular. The outside of it (see below) was astounding and the inside housed some amazing history.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral Inside
About 10 minutes in, we ran across the famous martyrdom site. Apparently we’re not the only ones interested, because it’s clearly marked.

Martyrdom Site
This vicious looking piece was erected to recognize where Thomas Becket was beheaded… or at least where they tell us he was beheaded. I’m gonna take their word for it because I would have no idea based on historical fact.

Martyrdom Sign

Tomb of King Henry IV{King Henry IV}

After enjoying the Cathedral and checking out the Tombs of Archbishop William Courtenay and King Henry IV and his wifey, we headed to check out the grounds — so pretty!

Cathedral Grounds

As luck (and my planning skills) would have it, Kent’s International Arts Festival started yesterday, so we were able to check out some cool art and some fun little stands dotting the streets — paella by the bucketful, cupcakes bigger than my head and homemade fudge! Plus, we ran into a number of old restaurants and shops that have been around since 1500 (some from earlier). The doors and ceilings are so low!

Old Weaver

We also randomly stumbled upon amazingness like this castle-ish structure above. In the words of Rita, “Hey guys, just FYI, we’re coming upon a fortress.” No biggie.

After enjoying Canterbury, we ended up at a little pub called the City Arms Inn where we found pitchers of cocktails for £9! Rita and I shared a pitcher of Sex on the Beach while we waited for our bus, and H & Austin shared a pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea!

Pitchers at the Pub!

All in all, it was a super fun day trip and a fun way to celebrate Austin’s birthday (hopefully he felt the same way)! After having such a good time, we’ve decided that day trips to Bath & Stonehenge, Oxford, Cambridge and Brighton are in order! National Express makes getting there so cheap with their ‘fun fares’ that it makes staying indoors seem like such a waste of a perfectly good weekend!

Hope everyone else’s weekend was eventful!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

If you wanna see the rest of the album (there are nearly 100 pictures posted!), check out my facebook album here.

Nana’s Pre-Birthday Birthday!

For some reason unbeknownst to me, the world has decided to wake me up before 630A both weekend mornings. Not that it much matters anymore, honestly, because every morning is like a weekend morning for the next few weeks: aside from a couple of mid-morning flights, or an incredible early-morning sale, there will be very few reasons for me to be up this early until school starts on October 5th. I have four short days until liftoff and the primary reason that I decided to leave on the 17th of September (instead of heading out earlier) is because my grandma’s birthday falls on the 15th. Since this will be the first birthday that she’s celebrating without my grandpa here, I knew it would be difficult and duly important that I be here for support. Plus, I love birthdays.

We decided that since her birthday falls on a Tuesday (a workday for most), that Saturday would be more appropriate for a celebration. Around 11A yesterday, we headed to Red Hawk Casino for a day of fun and potential gold-striking. Although my grandma, mom and I typically relegate ourselves to the slot machines (2 to 5c, normally… we’re real high rollers), my mom ended up branching out a bit and joining my dad at the Blackjack table. Although her luck wasn’t so great, dad ended up winning $50 on the $100 that he had put down and left sufficiently happy. My grandma… well, she managed to lose $40 in one sitting at a single penny machine. I really didn’t know such a thing was possible.


Afterwards, we met up with Tiffany and got ready to go out to dinner! After much deliberation, we decided to check out Lucca, a Mediterranean restaurant on 16th & J Streets in the downtown area. Despite the somewhat mixed reviews that we had read & heard, we were pleased that the menu had something for everyone and their raspberry mojitos were delish!


We ended up with outside seating and the atmosphere was perfect!



After dinner, the birthday girl (a whopping 84 years old!) got a special birthday cobbler that I generously helped her devour.

LuccaLucca's MojitosAfter a load of mojtios, an awesome dinner and spectacular service, we all left in a top-notch mood. The birthday girl was particularly happy — we all pitched in and got her a roundtrip ticket to El Salvador so she could visit her family in October!

I’m definitely glad that I stayed for the birthday celebration! To see more fun pictures from nana’s birthday, check out my album on facebook here.

Hope everyone’s weekend is sensational!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Capitola to Carmel!

Saturday’s Adventure.

Saturday was a total blast! After kidnapping Tiffany on Saturday morning, we landed in Capitola at around 10A after a pretty short drive! Capitola Beachwas absolutely darling! I visited another neighboring beach last year when I went with Hilary, but Capitola Beach is much livelier and there are loads of nearby restaurants, coffee shops and stores! We parked right on the town streets and took a two minute stroll down to the beach!

Hanging out on the beach (pre-sun!)

Hanging out on the beach (pre-sun!)

Tiff & Dad waiting for the sunshine <3.

Tiff & Dad waiting for the sunshine <3.

By 11A, the sun had come out and we were able to spend a few hours hanging out on the beach, soaking up the sun!
Afterwards, we strolled around Capitola for about an hour before deciding to move on to Pacific Grove to check in to our B&B. It was a short 40 minute drive from Capitola to Pacific Grove and we we were able to check it at around 2:30P at the Gosby House Inn. Our rooms were darling; large enough, cozy and a great value for the otherwise pricey area.

The Gosby House Inn

The Gosby House Inn

Our Room, Room #9!

Our Room, Room #9!

We loved our stay at the Inn (sans the treacherous staircase that scared my grandmother)! The service was great and we even had wine and hors d’oeuvres, which were complimentary for guests between 430P and 630P. It gave us some time to relax before heading down to Carmel for dinner.

My sister chose to check out The Forge in the Forest for dinner (check out the menu here) after perusing four restaurants that we had picked out. The atmosphere was awesome and the food was delish! Outside seating (if it’s not too chilly) is absolutely gorgeous. My sister and I each had a bowl of portabello mushroom soup and split a salad. Mmm! Plus, the atmosphere was such that we were able to get all prettied up and not feel out of place while there were other patrons totally dressed down dropping in for a bite to eat.

Tiff at the Forge!

Tiff at the Forge!

You can see how cute the outside area is in the background :)

Sisters at Dinner

Tiff & I at dinner!

After dinner, we went back to the hotel to enjoy the Baby Cakes that I had ordered from a little bakery in Monterey called Layers; we got two red velvet, two lemon love, and two strawberry cream. They even wrote “Happy Birthday” on one of the baby cakes:

Our Baby Cakes -- Mmm!

Our Baby Cakes -- Mmm!

We had such a blast all around on Saturday — after playing a few rounds of blackjack, we ended up passing out around 930P (such partyers, I know) to get ready for our fun-filled day in Carmel on Sunday. More about that tomorrow — stay tuned!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Facebookers: Check out the entire album from Tiff’s birthday weekend here!

Memorable Moments!

There are so many things I have to discuss from this past weekend’s excursion in the Monterey Bay area! We had such a blast this weekend and it was a total surprise for Tiffany! She had no idea what was going on when I kidnapped her on Saturday morning — I can’t believe that we were able to pull it off! (More on our weekend will be posted in the coming week.) I have to say, in spending a weekend with my family, I managed to learn a few new things about each of them and we had some really memorable moments:

1. My mom has an obsession with artichokes and Dairy Queen soft serve. After passing a DQ on Saturday in Capitola, she mentioned that she “looooovvved DQ soft serve!” On Sunday, after passing a Burger King showcasing their 89c soft serve, I pointed it out. She stopped, grabbed me and said, “Soft serve?! Where?! Rick (to my dad), stop the car.” I looked at her and said, “At Burger King,” at which point she replied, “Oh, nevermind. Keep going, it’s not DQ.” She’s hilarious. Mind you, when we did find a DQ she asked the teenage boy to make her large ice cream an extra large *wink* if he could!

Happy to get her DQ!

Happy to get her DQ!

The difference in CONE size; small vs. large

The difference in CONE size; small vs. large

* My dad apparently burns, despite his dark skin. After an afternoon of fun in the sun while laying out on Capitola Beach, dad ended up with a pink face and an Arkansas-inspired tank top tan burn line!

* I also learned that my grandmother is unassumingly funny at the most random times — she killed us while we were playing blackjack last night! She says the funniest things and you have to double-take because you think you legitimately heard her wrong. :)


Here’s a sneak peek of our trip down to Capitola Beach on Saturday morning! I did her make up in the AM (so we could have a “sister day”) and then blindfolded and kidnapped her!


She had no idea that the whole family was in on it! I had her keep the blindfold on until we were securely on the freeway while I played the Beach Boys in the background!

Tiff PuzzleI cut up a bunch of letters that spelled out “Capitola Beach” and had her try to unscramble them to figure out the first stop on our getaway. (Only took 10 or so minutes <3.)


Then she opened my beach bag gift with a new monokini, a water bottle, a book for the beach, a beach towel and her iPod (I new she’d want it!) She still didn’t realize we were going for the weekend!


Then she opened up the book that I made for her that detailed the trip for the weekend including where were staying, where we were going and different restaurants that she could pick from for her birthday dinner. When she realized we were staying for the weekend she was stoked!

Painted Houses

Our ride to Capitola was pretty short with the company. I’ll tell you guys all about our weekend tomorrow. Tune in for pictures and reviews of our trip in Pacific Grove, Carmel and Monterey!

Hope everyone’s weekend was equally great!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Happy Birthday, Sis!

I am actually doing some seriously relaxing and sight-seeing today!  We are spending the day on the beach in Santa Cruz, having dinner in Carmel & spending the night at a Bed & Breakfast in Pacific Grove to celebrate my sister’s birthday! She had no idea before today (which is half the fun!) so we kidnapped her this morning, packed her bags, packed a picnic lunch for our afternoon at Capitola Beach and we’re off! Check out yesterday’s post for all of the deets — got her some amazing new beach stuff, the most darling birthday “baby cakes” {courtesy of Layers Sensational Cakes in Monterey) and a room with a spectacular view! I’m so pumped and I hope she loves it as much as I hope!

Happy Birthday, Tiff!

If you’re reading this, I love you to the moon — you’re a pain in the ass, but you’re my best friend and I couldn’t imagine life without you! Glad my begging mom and dad for a baby sister paid off <3.

Shan & Tiff (2)Tiff & Shan (2)sleepy

shanni and tiff

Signature Stamp - Shannon

PS. After this weekend, I’ll keep you guys posted on the B&B, plus the eateries and places we’re hitting up! Should be a blast <3.