A Three Sentence Movie Review

1. The Best of Me

This was so bad it's actually humorous; but really, 'best' should be nowhere near the title. It was like they thought, "Let's put about 6 tragic events in one film, add in a choppy love story, mix in a few outrageous/alcoholic/drug-dealing characters, and WE'VE GOT OURSELVES A WINNER!" Not even James Marsden's beautiful face could save this one.

2. Advanced Style

On Netflix Instant
Inspiring and adorable. Documentary on women who have great style in their "advanced" age--the 70 and above crowd. Of course, the film veers into their life stories, their hopes, and the idea that no matter your age, there's still a lot of living to do.

3. The One I Love

On Netflix Instant
WHOA. You'll go into this film thinking it's just about a troubled couple wanting to fix their marriage, and you'll leave the film thinking "WHATTTTT JUST HAPPENEDDDDDD?!?" Without giving too much away (I can't ruin this for you), this is suchhhh a must watch!

4. Song One

Although I usually love the depth Anne Hathaway gives to her characters, I found this film to be lacking. There was no real passion between the two love interests, and no real passion in the film, period. Unless you're looking for a good nap, skip this 'song.'

Image credits: 1/2/3/4

Forgive the radio silence the next few days on the blog. I'll be traveling and experiencing some jet lag this week. The next post you'll see here will be written from London! 


Newsflash: London Bound Next Week!

Before I start this post, just wanted to say: Jess, you won the bracelet! But the e-mail you gave me doesn't seem to be working. So please e-mail me with your address! (you can find my e-mail in the about section).


Right, so...you all know I love London. And since my job allows me to work remotely, I thought: why not have an extended stay in London while I have this super flexible job? 

I felt like a genius coming up with such a great plan; that is, until I remembered how expensive London is. So how was I going to have about a month stay in the world's most expensive city?

Enter trustedhousesitters.com. It's an online house and petsitting site that calls itself the "win/win for pet lovers that travel." So basically, I am going to house and pet sit for a lady who is traveling for three weeks, and in return I have a place to stay for three weeks--as long as I watch her pup. I'll do a proper review of the whole deal once my housesit is over with, but I'm already ecstatic that I figured out a way to cut costs and have a long stay in the U.K.

So in a week's time, I'll be flying off to London once again (I just can't stay away)! I realize how lucky I am to have a job that allows me to move around if I choose. And you know what? It's just what I needed! 


10 Year Blogiversary and a Giveaway

I don't usually blog on a Sunday, but today is a special occasion.

Exactly 10 YEARS ago today, I created this blog for a Creative Writing class in college. And then I just kept it. For a freakin' decade! (!!)

I think 2 things have kept me going with this blog:
  • Having a close-knit blog community who left meaningful comments. It was never about quantity, but most definitely quality when it comes to my blog community! 
  • Having a space to catalog my travel adventures! 

Oh right, the giveaway. You know I've never done a giveaway on this blog? Today I thought is was highly appropriate to gift what's known as a nazar bracelet. Nazar is a protector of sorts, most often crafted into an eye shape, to keep away the "evil eye." It's a tradition that spans back centuries, and Turkey is not the only place that holds onto this tradition.

Now this bracelet is nothing pricey, but just a little trinket to say thank you for reading all these years. According to my family, if the bracelet or eyes break it's done it's job in keeping away an evil spirit coveting something of yours! So...this may not be a great gift for the guy readers...um, I'll give away something "masculine" next time. ha.

To enter my lil' giveaway, simply comment and please leave your e-mail. I'll be picking someone at random on Wednesday, February 18th (probably with some numbering off method)!

So...here's to another decade of blogging?? I think so! 


4 Things

Sometimes it's just really fun to fill out these questionnaire thingies! 

4 names people call me other than my real name:
  1. Ash
  2. Smashley
  3. Zero
  4. Skittles 

4 jobs I've had:

  1. Student Advisor 
  2. Smoothie Maker 
  3. Cashier at a Party Store/Balloon Expert
  4. After School Teacher 

4 movies I've seen more than once:

  1. High Fidelity
  2. Bridget Jones' Diary
  3. Office Space
  4. Notting Hill

4 of my favorite songs*: 

  1. "What's Going On?" Marvin Gaye (pretty much my favorite song of all time) 
  2. "Interstate Love Song" Stone Temple Pilots (my favorite driving song)
  3. "The Mother We Share" CHVRCHES (my favorite electronic song)
  4. "In a Sentimental Mood" Duke Ellington and John Coltrane (Fave jazz song)
*It's extremely difficult to choose just 4 songs, so each song is a representative of different types of music I like. 

4 places I've lived:

  1. San Diego, CA 
  2. Point Mugu, CA (Military Base) 
  3. Camarillo, CA 
  4. London, United Kingdom 

4 places I'd rather be right now:

  1. Tulum, Mexico (on my bucket list!)
  2. Istanbul, Turkey (always and forever)
  3. Rome, Italy
  4. London, United Kingdom (my fave)

4 things I don't eat:

  1. Seafood 
  2. Sushi
  3. Internal organs of animals (gross!) 
  4. Balut (look it up...it's something I've seen often living in a place with a large Filipino population) 

4 of my favorite foods:

  1. Spaghetti (ALL DAY, ERR'DAY!) 
  2. Cheese (preferably from France or Switzerland) 
  3. Kısır (Turkish dish, yum!) 
  4. Chocolate (I used to prefer milk, now it's dark all the way baby!) 

4 TV shows I watch (that are currently on):

  1. The Mindy Project
  2. GOTHAM 
  3. The Bachelor (the absurdity makes me laugh)
  4. Made in Chelsea (British show, horribly fake reality TV) 

4 things I'm looking forward to this year:

  1. Always looking forward to my next trip! Where in the world is Ashley San Diego? (It fits, doesn't it?) 
  2. Zeroing in on my dream career (I'm getting closer) 
  3. Being more fearless.
  4. Taking steps to be mindful of every day. 

4 things I'm always saying:

  1. Can't be bothered.
  2. I have a serious addiction to travel. 
  3. Coffee! (in the morning when I cannot utter full sentences)
  4. If they just played Marvin Gaye right now, I would be happy. 


Made You Laugh

I've had a hard time getting motivated today, so I thought some humor was needed as an energy booster. Enjoy!

Feel better? Me too. 


A Three Sentence Movie Review

1. In Bruges

WATCH THIS NOW if you love dark humor. Ray's moodiness wins here as he trudges around the beautiful Bruges while calling it a shithole and sulking on site-seeing boats. Even better, there's redemption found in the friendship between Ray and Ken, two men that you should probably hate but have a hard time doing so.

2. William and Kate

Ok, this is a vapid pick, but sometimes I like a little vapid. As far as Lifetime movies go, it's not half bad! This is a gushy, girly, good watch on a sick/rainy day when you have absolutely nothing better to do than watch craptastic films and eat ice cream.

3. Chef

Not a novel idea for a plot, but somehow it still charms. A story about a has-been chef/crappy father and his journey in turning his life around. This is a mood-lifter; but beware, it'll make you hungry.

4. Perfect Sense

I just couldn't take this film seriously. The premise: an outbreak causes the world to lose all their senses, one by one, starting with the sense of smell. It might have been a well-done horror flick with the right direction, but only succeeds in violin overkill during overdramatic scenes.

(All of these films were from Netflix Instant)
Photo credits: 1/2/3/4


What I Think About Portland (and Comparisons to Austin)

Well, Portland...weird is a fitting term for you, indeed...and you like it like that! You are weird in that ultra-hippie, wear whatever feels good, moody and care-free at the same time kind of way.

You are a mix of nature and man coming together to live in complete harmony. The only city (I know of) that has its residents save food scraps to make a compost pile (in addition to garbage and recycling).

Sometimes you seem light as a feather, at peace with the chaos around you...

Other times your mood shifts to the dark side as the rain and the fog sets it.

You seem to embrace your mood swings, enjoying the yin and yang of smiling and sulking.

You are interested in different cultures, but maybe not so interested in people from other states moving to your newly popular territory.

Well, Portland, you'll have to deal with that reality; all the great cities are found out eventually and you are one of them. 


And of course, I had to eventually talk about how Austin compares to Portland. These are the two cities in the States that proudly display the bumper stickers and signs that proclaim: "Keep [city name] Weird. So who is weirder?

Portland, hands down, is the weirdest city out of the two. Don't get me wrong, Austin is quirky...but it's only "weird" in comparison to the rest of Texas. Austin still has that velvety Southern charm, a necessary trait of the cool kid. Portland, however, is more of the strange loner in the corner of the classroom, only inviting similarly loner-ish kids to his clique. I met more "interesting" folk in Portland than I have...well...anywhere!

So keep up your weirdness, P! And know that even as your population grows, you're only going to attract those as equally strange as you! 


My Favorite Food in Portland: Coffee (And Other Recommendations)

I am a coffee addict. I am that person who is grumpy/hates the world/thinks everyone should probably die before I get my coffee. Portland pleased me (and the eradication of my grumpiness) with its coffee choices! This was my favorite "food" in PDX. As most of us know, the Pacific Northwest was one of the first in the country to adopt italian style coffee, which I would gladly call an art form. If the coffee is brunt or the foam too bubbly, then it's shit. Portland understands the delicate play between coffee and milk, and it's hard to go wrong with the plethora of coffee shops found here.

My two favorites were the famed Stumptown Coffee and the less-famed Barista.

Besides coffee, brunch seems to be a HUGE thing in Portland. Two spots that I had a delightful breakfast/brunch at were:

23 Hoyt: If you're into a modern space with yummy grapefruit mimosas, do go here! 
Got to meet up with my friend Alexa, who I met in London! It's crazy how paths can cross.
Stepping Stone: With the slogan "You Eat Here Because We Let You," this is the perfect place for a good atmosphere. Oh, and oversized food, like my biscuit below...
 And Lainey's "Mancake."  

And lastly, for dinner, there's Pok Pok. Recommeded by, um, EVERYBODY, Pok Pok really is just that good (for those that love Thai food).

We also went to quite a few places with fresh juice/salads/teas/vegetables/vegan entrees--but you already knew that Portland has a bunch of hippies, right? So I don't have to get into that anyway.

But whatever you do, don't forget to get some coffee while you are in Portland! 


The 10 Prettiest Sights in Portland

Man, Portland is pretty. A serene river, set against the mountains, with several bridges and tons of trees--my eyes feasted upon its beauty! Here are my 10 picks for the prettiest things in Portland (this is a very Ashley list).

1. The Chinese Gardens

Located downtown, this is a tranquil getaway from the city where you can have a spot of tea and marvel at the well put-together gardens. Not a huge attraction, but still a beautiful one. I have a suspicion this would be the best to visit in spring.

2. Views of the City Across the River

I really liked all the bridges in PDX, it made for good photo ops! This photo was taken at the OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).

3. Nob Hill

Beautiful part of town complete with unique restaurants, shops, and thrift stores. Great place for sunday brunch and a stroll on a sunny day.

4. Forest Park 

Forest Park is a conserved section of forest complete with paved out trails for the not-so-hiking inclined. Drop dead gorgeous.

5. Portland at Night

The city is well lit, extremely walkable, and easy to get around. People are out and about and the buses run until pretty late, which brings me to my next point...

6. Public Transportation

Okay, so not all of you would add public transport to a "pretty sites" list, but this is a GORGEOUS site for me. PDX is WELL connected. Buses, trains, and streetcars make every part of the city accessible. Lainey and I took public transport the whole time we were there--no need for a car. It's a BEAUTIFUL THING.

7. Pretty Sounds and Drinks 

Go to Jimmy Mak's (a Jazz Bar), order some French 75s, sit back and relish the moment.

8. That Fog

The locals said they don't always get this near impenetrable fog, but it was there for us nearly every morning. Bewitching, isn't it? Sometimes the fog engulfed entire bridges!

9. A Very Clean and Sleek Downtown

 Clean air, modern buildings, easy grid system of streets makes for one walkable city. My fave.

10. Books Galore

If you are a book lover, you will cry at the site of Powell's Books. I've never seen so many books, aside from libraries. This is definitely a bookstore you'll want to explore.


What are some of the prettiest places and things you've seen in Portland? 


Portland: Blue Star Donuts, the 'Superior' Donut Shop

Hello all! Back from Portland, sifting through my photos, and thought I'd share an easy piece of advice before diving into heavy travel posts.

So, before I went to Portland, most everyone told me to go to Voodoo donuts. Obviously, Voodoo has quite the following with it's creative, quirky ideas. However, when I got into Portland, all the locals steered me in another direction. "Voodoo is a tourist trap," they said. "If you want a really excellent donut, go to Blue Star."

The dude at the counter told us, "We don't rag on Voodoo too much because their shitty donuts bring us business." Cheeky.

Now, I can't compare the two, since I never went to Voodoo, but I can tell you this:

The buttermilk old fashion donut from Blue Star is the best donut I have ever had in my entire life. Simple in its execution, divine in its delivery of taste. It is perfect.

There are other options, of course (I also got the green tea).


Okay, I'm calming down now. Here's the site for Blue Star, check em out!

More Portland posts will be filling this space soon!

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