Flashback to: London

Reading this article got me all nostalgic for LDN, so of course it prompted me to look through my photo archives. Man, sometimes I just really miss that city. It would have been a day like today where I would have layered my socks, buttoned up my peacoat, and walked those glorious London streets.

I used to ruminate, and even lament on how I had left London too early. I'm past that phase now as one realises that leaving is remedied by going back, which I can whenever I want to, really. But somedays, I miss the nuances of that quirky city. It's easy to miss a place the same way you miss a person--for the way it made you feel, for the way you fell in love with it.

You'll end up missing things that seem silly, like old windows and doors, cobblestone streets, and even freezing weather! You'll find yourself missing the good with the bad, a true sign that you really loved it.

I believe in not living in the past (this can be soooooo dangerous); but sometimes it's nice to pay homage to a city that changed my entire being. London, I'm thinking of you today. 


Favorite Thing Thursday

These are a few of my favorite things (this week)...

1. New Earrings: A friend made my cool new earrings! She's about to open an etsy shop, which I will post soon!

2. People Who Know Me: A friend sent me the picture in the middle because she knew it had Ashley written all over it. Makes me smile!

3. Cheese from Ireland: Cheese lovers will feel me here. This imported cheese is HEAVEN. Made from milk produced by grass-eating cows in Ireland and the difference is noticeable! You can get this at Costco, so g'head, give it a try!

...what's making you smile this week? 


7 Reasons Why this Californian Loves Texas

This was my third time 'round in Texas and every time I go, I like it! It's well known that CA and TX are almost complete opposites. We lie on different ends of the political and lifestyle spectrum; yet, there is something about Texas that I love. Here's 7 reasons why: 

1. Austin: If you're traveling to Texas for the first time, Austin is the best place to start. There's a reason you'll see bumper stickers proclaiming "Keep Austin Weird." Austin is different from the rest of Texas in ideologies, but the same in manners. 

2. Random Torrential Downpours: I love rain. Texas has awe-inspiring storms that just sort of happen. 

3. Houston's Pretty Cool, Too: About a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Austin, Houston makes for a great day trip with its soaring buildings and delightful crowd. 

4. Gas Prices: This Californian weeps at the sight of the super low gas prices Texans get to enjoy. WHY, CALIFORNIA, WHYYYYY?!?

5. Barbecue: Brisket from TX is pure and complete heaven: cooked to absolute perfection and worth the extra calories. Don't forget your sweet tea! If you are hanging around Austin, you must go to La Barbecue. MUST! 

6. The People!!!

I know at least two great people that live in TexasMy Zero (that's basically her name) and Linda. My Zero went to San Diego State with me (wayyyy back when) and moved to Austin for graduate school. It was a pleasure seeing her cute house, way of life, and pure bliss over living in TX. She made me pasta for dinner--as in, she actually made the noodles. Man, I love my Zero. 
Although this was the first time I met Linda in person, really I felt like she was an ol' buddy. Linda is even more charming, funny, and brilliant than you can imagine. We talked about the parallels in our family life and travel over Torchy's Tacos. She was kind enough to bring a certain familiar furry friend with her (or I begged her to). Thanks for coming out Linda! The invitation still stands for us to travel somewhere together (ANYTIME, please!). 

7. Bob is in Texas

Linda's baby, a.k.a. Bob, might have been my favorite thing in Texas. I follow Bob on Instagram (@bobthedogatx) and naturally was a little starstruck the first time we met. Bob, I love you.


For the reasons above, Texas keeps charming me (even if I resist). Who doesn't love some delicious barbecue with down-to-earth people, cute dog by your side? 


In the Right Direction

So I'm here in Austin on a work trip for my new gig--working for Across the Pond.

Looking like a complete and utter dork at St. Edward's University to represent Across the Pond!

ATP is a company that is funded by multiple UK universities to help students get over to the UK for graduate study. It is a free service for students and assists with the sometimes overwhelming process of getting and living abroad, from visa applications to researching programs. My job is to be a presence at grad fairs and enlighten the American public that, yes--you can go abroad for your Master's degree! It's been a joy working for a company I believe in, and while I'm only working part-time for them, I know deep down in my bones this is the right field for me. Whether I can continue full time with ATP or a company like it, I truly know this is where I belong.

Also, it's rather nice to be in Austin, traveling for work, eating BBQ, and visiting with blog friends. But more on that later...


The (Happy) Blues

I noticed the other day that I take/post a lot of pictures of the ocean. Even though I grew up by the water for most of my life, I'm still always amazed at its ability to calm my nerves, force me to realize my size compared to the vastness of the universe, and wash away any negative attitude. Baby blue, I really do love you!

Cheers to a relaxing weekend, friends...I know I'll go for a swim (it's still deathly hot in San Diego). 


A Three Sentence Movie Review

1. The Fault in Our Stars

This movie is absolute perfection. The script, the actors, the feelings, the tragedy of it all sinks into the pit of your stomach and sits with you for a few days. The book must be stellar if this is the movie adaptation of, frankly, one of the better fictional love stories I have ever witnessed.

2. Neighbors

The least juvenile Seth Rogen film I've seen--it even has some endearing/mature moments! Zac Efron takes his shirt off (like always). Of course, Seth still found a way to slip dildo jokes in there, but that's really the biggest offense (surprising!).

3. Jobs

This was okay. Maybe because when I watch Ashton Kutcher play someone I'm still well aware that I am watching Ashton Kutcher--sorry dude, but maybe you should stick to finding your car. Furthermore, the movie tries so hard to be really profound, which remains more trying than actually being.

4. Cafe de Flore

I'm really beginning to like French cinema; not because I'm trying to be alternative, but because France seems to be churning out some of the most introspective films in the game. I really got into Cafe de Flore's plot which is bursting full of emotions and symbolism and is a commentary on love in all its forms (familial to romantic). The end may be a little far out there for some, but won't take away from the overall effect from the film--a contemplation on what love is. 

Picture credits: 1/2/3/4


Flashback to: Rome

Found this old photo and felt compelled to post it because:

1. I love cappuccinos, and a cappuccino in Rome can't be beat.
2. I love Rome.
3. I can't help but laugh at my awkward modeling, which is a sort of half smirk/bad attempt at trying to be chic.
4. This picture (taken by my friend Sonja) captures the dark, interesting aesthetic of a crowded italian cafe, complete with grumpy owner who demanded from us "WHAT do you want?!?" That lady makes the best coffee I have ever had. In my life. All for the price of one Euro.
5. Did I mention I love cappuccinos?


Picture circa May 2013


Favorite Thing Thursday

This week started out with me getting a ticket for crossing a double yellow line (ugggghh), so I think a gratitude list is in order here!!

Lately, some of my favorite things have included:

1. Scandal

This show. is. RIDICULOUS. However, as crazy as Fitz and Liv are, there is some kind of magnetic pull to watching their messed-up love and the supposed behind the curtain world of politics. Scandal is simply not as sophisticated as House of Cards, but it appeals more to the teenager in me--it's the equivalent of reading a trashy romance novel and relishing every moment! 

2. Making My Own Pumpkin Spice Latte

Apologies for the blurry photo; my impatience in drinking this foamy masterpiece outweighed any photo etiquette I usually have. Recipe found here

3. A New Rating System for Netflix


A Better Queue matches Netflix movies with their Rotten Tomatoes reviews--to give you a new outlook on movies you may have previously skipped. 

What are you thankful for this week? 


What You Just Can't Miss in Cambridge

Dreamy, isn't it?

Yeah, Cambridge is drop-dead gorgeous. I'm surprised I hadn't been there before in my year of living in England. Only a 45 minute train ride from London and about a 10-quid ticket, Cambridge is really worth the trip. 

The one thing you really can't miss in Cambridge? Punting. 

What the hell is punting, you ask? 

Well, punting refers to pushing yourself along with a pole in a small boat made for shallow water. So, you're not rowing, but actually using the riverbed to push the boat down the river. Well, we were lazy, so we got someone to punt for us. And you should too!

 I couldn't help but think this dude looked a little like Jesus. 

We just sat back and drank a little champagne whilst Jesus did all the work! 'We' refers to my old flatmates, Jen and Becki, who were kind enough to meet up with me in Cambridge as they no longer live in London. I convinced them to go punting with me (a fairly touristy thing to do), but they ended up liking it as much as I did! The pictures below will show you why:

 THOSE WEEPING WILLOWS, THOUGH! I'm in love with them. Not to mention the gorgeous Cambridge campus which surrounds the river. 

 Yes, there were also drunk men in costumes...no clue why! 

Once we got off the boat, we explored the town a little...need I say it? Cambridge is surely posh. Great for a visit; as for living, I will always prefer the gritty reality of London to the poshness of Cambridge. Still, look at this place!

 Above: Cute little candy shop with jelly bean mosaic of Wills and Kate. Below: More of the Cambridge campus.

 DO visit this delicious Italian eatery where I scored a free Cannoli and ate amazing pizza: Aromi Cambridge.

 I also recommend The Pint Shop. We had these amazing, fresh gin concoctions seen below. 

Formula to make a happy Ashley is pretty simple. Rain + Gin + Italian Food + Beautiful Scenery = A Smiley Lady. Yeah, that about does it.

I took the fast train from Kings Cross Station straight to Cambridge, and darling, you should too! 


The Mary Poppins of Little Alcohol Bottles

On the train back to London from Scotland, a very jolly intoxicated man sat across from us. He glanced over and asked, "Would you ladies like a drink?"

"No, no...we're fine, thanks," I replied.

He reached into his pocket to reveal a mini gin bottle. "Oh nonsense," he said, "Do you like gin?"

Being the honest girl that I am, I had to nod my head yes to such a direct question, but told him to keep his bottle. He handed it over anyway and then asked what my friend Laura would like. We again, told him to keep his bottles, to no avail. Drunk man pulled out all types of alcohol bottles from his pockets and pants--vodka, whiskey, gin, wine--and handed them over to us. We were laughing so hard every time a new bottle came out, asking, "Sir...how many do you have??"

Eventually we had a collection of bottles, and as the man stood up for his stop he glanced down at the stash and exclaimed, "Wait! I gave you all of those?!? Oh, go ahead and keep it!"

I couldn't ask for better train service.