Posts Tagged ‘Photos’

London in the Snow!

I woke up this morning to some serious snowfall outside of my window. The rooftops of neighboring buildings were laced in snow and cars were covered with inches of powder. After getting my morning workout in, I headed to the local Starbucks in Covent Garden to meet up with Steve, a friend of a friend who’s in town as part of a whirlwind tour of Europe (in true backpacking form). We spent the day touring around Central London and as I was showing him around, I realized how different (and beautiful) London looks when it’s covered in snow! It gave me a whole new perspective of the city. Check out our little tour through snow-covered parts of town:

Trafalgar in the winterAfter cutting through Covent Garden and checking out the Piazza, we made our way to tourist hot-spot, Trafalgar Square. Check out the water — frozen over!

National Gallery in WinterWhile we were there, we hit up the always amazing National Gallery. We were in and out in about thirty minutes, but we caught some great glimpses of Monet, Cezanne & Van Gogh. I always forget how pretty this place is inside!

After passing the Buckingham area, we made our way to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey to snap some pictures. So pretty!

Big Ben & the London EyeAfter checking out the sights (and before grabbing delicious lunch at Pizza Express), we took an alternate route back and stumbled upon quite possible the prettiest place in London! The bird-covered pond looked absolutely gorgeous with the snow all around, plus it made for some pretty incredible pictures.

We also made some cute new friends!

All around super fun day. If you haven’t been out in the snow yet, it’s a must! It’s definitely a chance to see everything in a whole new way.

Lots of love,

Loving on Indie Films!

As most people who knew me in my former California life can attest, I’m not a movie watcher. Or a TV watcher. Or a video game player. Generally speaking, I hate all things that are a waste of time. Since my move to the UK, however, I have found that I like watching my Keeping up with the Kardashians while I’m gymming (I’ve kept that dirty secret for far too long!), and I actually enjoy watching movies during my quiet evenings. My current genre du jour? Indie films!

In the last two weeks, I have watched Sideways, (500) Days of Summer and Little Miss Sunshine. Surprisingly, I enjoyed them all! I have a new soft spot in my heart for indie films, I’ve decided. So much better than big budget films… lack of funding must force creativity. In any case, I’m on a quest to enhance my portfolio of indie films. I think it will help me fare better when playing Trivial Pursuit — I always fail miserably in the entertainment/movie/TV category.

Also, I must commend Fox Searchlight for putting out so many good films. Quality work.

Any suggestions on must-sees? I’m clueless when it comes to movies!


Breaking Out — Is leaving HS friends really a bad thing?

Let me preface this by saying that this post is prompted by a facebook photo that I just ran across. The photo belonged to a girl (woman?), with whom I have a mutual friend; she went to my high school and graduated a couple of years before me. I wouldn’t say we’re ‘real’ friends, but I feel justified in looking through her random facebook photo albums…. please, isn’t that what facebook is for? In any case, I found it quite interesting when the majority of her current photos (posted December 2009) were snapshots of her and the same friends she had in high school. Now, I’m all for keeping friendships alive and maintaining bonds, blah, blah, blah, but really? At 26, isn’t it time that you had new friends, too? When 90% of photos are of you and the same people you were friends with at 15, I think it says something. If I had to guess, I would think it says, “I haven’t really grown/changed/advanced much in life and I still hang out with, and find interesting, the same people that I did when I was 14.”

Let me also say: a) I have no problem with this girl — she was actually very spirited and fun, so I’m not saying this out of anger/jealousy/whatever other emotions people associate with scorned women; and b) I also have a handful of friends from high school with whom I maintain friendships. It’s not the maintenance of friendships that I find irksome. I actually think it’s awesome to be able to keep in touch with people from the past and keep those friendships alive. Rather, I think it’s quite awkward when people maintain the exact same group through life without incorporating new individuals and new personalities into the group. Even if I tried to keep in touch with the same group of friends I had in high school, there would only be a select few that I would still share commonalities with. We all grew up and went our separate ways, finding new things that interested us. Some of us pursued higher education, some got married, some joined the military… some even have children. For us to all still find common ground would be a rather unachievable. The things that we find interesting now are so varied. I have no interest in spending three hours talking to my girlfriends about their over-achieving babies nor do I find interest in planning upcoming nuptials. Likewise, I find it highly unlikely that any of my girlfriends want to have a conversation with me about the effects of poverty on HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Now then, my question is, how does this happen? How do people continue to hang out with the exact same individuals for decades on end when their initial friendship began at such a young age? I understand the concept of adults meeting and maintaining life-long friendships, but it just seems that so much happens from the ages of 15 to 25 (high school graduation, college, college graduation, career choices, moving, marriage, children, etc.) that you really aren’t the same person that you once were. Doesn’t it say something about your growth as a person if your friends haven’t changed? Isn’t it important to meet new people and allow their perspectives on the world to open your eyes to new things?

Maybe it’s just me… maybe it’s late and looking at facebook friends’ random photo albums is unhealthy. Or maybe it really is weird to be BFFs with the kid you met in 9th grade geometry when you’re 26.

Either way, I would love input from people on this… it’s a topic that I find bizarrely fascinating/irksome.

Sleep tight,

Ringing in 2010, London-style!

I must say, there’s no better way to welcome in a new year than with people you love! Despite having been a bit under the weather, I think not going out would have been a pretty ominous way to start the new year. With all the milestones that marked my 2009, I have a feeling that 2010 will be even bigger yet. Getting my Masters, finding my life’s path (at least temporarily), figuring out where I’m going to live… This year will probably be the most influential in guiding my life (no pressure, right?) In any case, I decided to spend my last day of 2009 and first few hours of 2010 with friends in London — I can’t imagine a better way.

My flatmate, Lindsay; her friend, Cole, and I headed to Primrose Hill for lunch. Despite having lived in London for nearly four months, I still hadn’t really ventured out into the outskirts of the city (outside the central area) so it was a fun experience. After lunch, we headed to the actual hill to take in the views:

Cole, Lindsay & I at Primrose Hill!

Pretty sweet views.

Lunch was my good-bye time with Lindsay & Cole — they are spending their first few days of 2010 gallivanting around Turkey! Can’t say I’m not a little jealous. If I didn’t have papers to write and studying to do, another trip might be in order for me!

London provides a lot, in terms of entertainment, for ringing in the New Year. Our original plan was to hang out in Trafalgar Square (which is semi-analogous with Times Square in New York), but we decided to take in the views of the fireworks from the North bank of the river. There were thousands of people that had the same idea — the place was seriously packed, but the 7-1/2 minute firework show was pretty fantastic. The London Eye is gorgeous at night! I was mesmerized (as Wen can attest to), and the coordination of the London Eye’s changing colors with the fireworks provided a pretty awesome show.

And who better to celebrate with than fellow LSE kiddos?

Flatmates: Keti & I!

Wen & Alex!

Immediately following the fireworks show, it started snowing! It definitely made for a pretty magical New Year. Also, as a side note — kudos to the city of London for providing free public transportation last night. Definitely a responsible move by the city.

I’m still working on my New Year’s Resolution (I tend to be against them), but I’m leaning towards being the best version of myself. In every way. Physically — working out more and taking care of myself; academically — working hard and putting forth the best work that I can on each and every occasion; and personally — creating bonds, building more friendships and taking advantage of opportunities to socialize and grow as a person.

It’s actually a pretty lofty resolution, but I think it’s doable since it’s all under my control! Here’s to Day 1!

What did you guys do to ring in the New Year? Any resolutions?

Lots of love,

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!

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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.

Regaining My Spirit…

…Today has marked the first day of valiant attempts at regaining my spirit. After nearly two weeks of not being able to hit the gym (a week in Malta + time in Scotland + holidays do well to sabotage my gym-going), I finally got in an hour of cardio followed by an hour and a half yoga class. It was invigorating, indeed, if not a bit ambitious. I can already feel the soreness plaguing my legs; it’s truly amazing how tight one’s hamstrings can get in two short weeks without proper exercise. I have effectively stretched them out but not without a bit of pain. I’m happy to say I’m back on track with my gym and eating habits just in time for the New Year!

After that super fun-filled gym session, Wen and I hit up Sherlock Holmes at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square to further revive my spirit. I think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been proud to see Guy Ritchie’s work on this film. Good movie, substantial plot and a hot cast — Robert Downey, Jr. + Jude Law + Rachel McAdams = a lot of gorgeousness on the screen at any given time. Now I’m back at home, marinating in bed with a much-needed cup of coffee in my hand to ward off evil spirits (aka caffeine headaches) watching Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I just ran across this list ranking Disney movies from 48th up to 1st place and I was a bit surprised by the outcome… How can 101 Dalmatians or Pinocchio outrank the likes of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast or the Lion King? Perhaps it’s a generational thing… in any case, I’m re-watching Sleeping Beauty (haven’t watched it in a good 15 years) to see what puts this film ahead of 38 other films in the ranking. I find that in re-watching some of these movies as an adult, I pick up on some adult humor/innuendos that I hadn’t noticed as a kid. (Note: Re-watch Disney’s Hercules… it’s much funnier as an adult!)

On the agenda for tomorrow — gymming (complete with Pilates sesh!) followed by a visit to Zara… there are loads of amazing sales this time of year and I plan to enjoy a few of them while I can! Also, on a different note, I have been revisiting the idea of veganism. I had attempted to go from vegetarian to vegan once upon a time but had a difficult time when I realized how difficult the process truly is (eggs and dairy are in everything). With a bit of a stronger spirit, I have been investigating the move once more… it’s definitely a possibility for 2010! Anyone interested in veganism, check out this great blog: FatFree Vegan Kitchen… great recipes! Mmm!

Lots of love,

Ghosts of Christmas Past.

Being that this is my first Christmas on my own, I couldn’t help but sift through old pictures from Christmases past. To my family & friends out in California (and abroad): I love you all and hope that you all have an amazing Christmas! Wishing I could be with you all on my most favorite holiday of the year, but I’m sending love and positive thoughts your way.

Check out some of these pictures from the last few Christmases:

Prepping Christmas dinner with Nana, 2006

Mimi’s 1st Christmas with us — one of our Christmas gifts to Nana.
The reindeer ears didn’t stay on for very long, but it was a cute idea! 2006.

Chris & I at Tara and Greg’s on Christmas Eve, 2007.
Lots of wine & seven fishes. Mmmm.

With Nanu & Nana, 2007, when the whole family was still together <3.

Only two years ago, but Alyssa was so tiny!

Mac & I, Christmas 2008 at the McDonald house!

Mom & Dad, Christmas 2008.

I always have such amazing memories from Christmas and although I don’t get to be with my family, I did get a special surprise  in the form of an early morning Skype session with the fam and with Chris — definitely a good way to start off Christmas day! I’m having some folks over for Christmas breakfast/brunch and coffee before we go out and explore the quiet streets of London (something that can only happen once a year!)

Here’s a song/video that always puts me a good Christmas mood; definitely a classic!

To everyone reading:

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

To my grandpa, who’s no longer with us — wish you could be here, but you’ll always be here in spirit. Inhobbok hafna.