Sunday, June 23, 2013

Post-papers, pre-dissertation= relaxation!

The last few months have been an absolute blast. While April was an absolute nightmare, having about 14,000 words worth of end-of-term papers to write (my dissertation will be 15,000!) I was super stressed, couldn't sleep, nearly had a breakdown... Yet somehow my papers all got turned in, I survived, was happy with the results, and have been relaxing (probably a bit too much) since then!

When my last of the final papers was finally turned in I went to Holland again to visit my dear friend, Dide. She lives in Utrecht, but also took me to her parent's house in Raalte so I could see the countryside, meet her family, and basically just experience a real Dutch home! We had a blast, ate so much bread, made a Dutch apple pie, cycled to a pub, visited the royal palace, and just had a wonderful time together.
Walking through the centre of Utrecht

Crossing the canal from where Dide lives to the centre of Utrecht.
We waited for over an hour in cold pouring rain to get into the palace. When we came out there was nothing but sunshine!

Dide's adoooorrrable farm house in Raalte! 
Success! Our apple pie was soooo yummy! 
The breakfast and lunch spread included tonnnns of bread, cheeses, spreads, meats, etc. to put atop incredible fresh bread!... not before loading with butter though, of course ;-)

I was back in London for about two weeks after Holland, and then left for San Francisco. I absolutely fell in love and want to move there as soon as I possibly can! It's so fun to still have some connections, and people to reconnect with from when my parents lived there, and even from my pre-school days. I had the most wonderful time. 

What a beautiful city! I'm in love!

Sausalito- where my parents met working on a yacht :)

Fresh food markets= to die for!
Mt. Tam :)

After about 5 days in SF, my parents and I headed north to Napa for one night. We drove through Silverado, a beautiful place in Napa where my grandparents used to live. It was so fun to see again.

We only caught one winery before it closed, and had an incredible mediterranean dinner, before heading south the following day to Carmel/Monterrey for my cousin's wedding. I got to see family I hadn't seen in about 7 years! The wedding was beautiful, and was so much fun to see that long lost side of my family :) 

 At Markham Vineyards
Napa Valley
Monterrey Bay


From SF I flew home for two weeks and was able to visit friends, soak up some (very) warm weather that I wont see again for a while(!), and be home for Father's Day. I took advantage of our well equipped, large kitchen, and a bigger amount of people to cook for, and made a new, interesting dinner for my parents almost every night. 
Father's Day!

It always does feel wonderful to be back in London. I'm feeling pretty accomplished too, having only been back a week (only wish some of that accomplishment was towards my dissertation!). But since I've been back I've had a job interview, attended Ascot, and met Matthew Morrison at West End Live. was a pretty fantastic week! 

Rachel & me on the train to Ascot!

The Queen in the Royal Procession at Ascot

All dressed up in my Ascot atire!

     Last, but DEFINITELY not least, went to West End Live today-- where a bunch of West End shows perform bits of their shows. REALLY fun. Was so impressed with Let It Be and Thriller. But best part of the day hands down was meeting this beautiful man! Mr Matthew Morrison, ladies and gentlemen!

Cheers for now :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mom's Visit to London!

Wow, it's been a busy few months!
Between 5 April and 8 May I wrote 13,000 words worth of papers (my dissertation will be 15,000). Whew! So glad that horrible month is over, and that I survived! I had three papers to write for my second semester classes, and one giant, scary critical survey about the resources I'll use for my dissertation. So much reading. So much research. So much writing.

But let's being a week before I started all this insanity.

Mom came to visit!! I'll just give a quick recap through pictures... first we spent some time in London!
Mom & I visited Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill

We also visited Borough Market near London Bridge... a huge, dangerously-full-of-delicious-foods Market. So we
went for lunch and shared a duck sandwich, baklava, and took some bread pudding for an evening dessert!
Oh, and it was snowing (in April).
We walked to the British Museum in the snow. By the end of the trip Mom really knew how to properly bundle up!
We went to Tate Britain mostly because I live across the street from it. The modern art section clearly was beyond our understanding...
Almost every afternoon we stopped for coffee and a treat. Best ritual ever. This is at my favorite bakery in Notting Hill.
We dined twice at the pub down the street from my flat; we just loved it! This is Mom's last night, I got a curry and she had steak and ale pie :)
 In between our time in London we made a quick two-day trip to Paris via the Eurostar. London was so blizzardy and gray, and I hadn't seen the sun in months. So even though Paris was also cold, the sun was such a treat!

This was me every moment I got direct sunlight on my face. Vitamin D is a beautiful thing.

Does this even need a caption? Mom, me, and Notre Dame :)

Notre Dame is so stunning. (It will never beat Westminster Abbey for me though!)

Traveling with Mom means you take extra bread, meat, and cheese from breakfast and make an incredibly delicious lunch out of it. It made for a free lunch overlooking the Seine and Notre Dame in the background. Can't beat that.
Notre Dame at sunset. What a stunning walk to dinner..

My biggest weakness...nutella crepes. And they were everywhere!

Of course we had to get some Eiffel Tower pictures :) 

Our last day we hiked up to Sacre Coeur for some beautiful views.
My mom's visit was so special and fun. I was able to show her where and how I live--my flat, my usual walks around London for groceries, books, coffee etc--and many of my favorite places, and also was able to introduce her to some of my friends. We just had the best time eating, drinking, freezing(!), traveling, and exploring... what a perfect visit :)

In the interest of keeping this blog a manageable length, I will end it here, and write another soon detailing the fun events of the past month!


Sunday, March 10, 2013


I'm not sure if there is much new to write about. I'm still doing the same things--studying, reading, writing, spending time with friends, eating amazing food, enjoying London to the fullest-- yet even though it's all the same, life just feels so exciting here all the time! :)

This was *some* of my reading for last week alone (!)
I've been SO busy recently, between readings, meetings, beginning to look for jobs, etc. Reading seems to have tripled, but what's new. At least most of it is really enjoyable! I recently became the Student Representative for International MA students in the English department. I get to attend meetings where I'm actually face to face with people who make decisions and make things happen in the English department. I get to tell them what I (and my peers) like and don't like, how things are working--such as dissertation workshops--if they're effective, or how they could be more so. It's really fun to actually be heard and be able to make a difference, and to sort of see behind the curtain how these ideas, changes, policies, etc. come about.

I also had my first meeting with my dissertation supervisor this week. It went really well and she was very helpful. Now I've got about 25 books to go read in the library (!), but I feel a bit relieved that I think she'll be very helpful through this process. Now all I have to do is find a few spare weeks/months to do all of this reading/research. ha.

Things like dinner with these lovely ladies gets me through the crazy busyness of what my weeks are!
(These girls are all also on the English: 1850-Present course with me)
Perfect Friday night cuddled up with some wine and friends :)

Caught a gorgeous glimpse of Somerset house one night

Ventured to Brick Lane for some SUPERCHEAP Indian food!

The most beautiful day...
London has experienced a few days in the 50's recently, nearly 60 with sun one day, and they were amazing! ...but then it drops back into the below-freezing temperatures and turns really gray and miserable for days again... I don't really like being teased by Spring. Nevertheless, I've become at least somewhat of a Londoner in that these rare days are very exciting, and I do rush outside like everyone else to lay in the sun--yes, when it's in the 50's...I can just hear all my Texas friends laughing :) Last week it was nearly 60 and sunny and I walked across the bridge from my flat to this walkway that looks across at parliament. I found an empty bench and read for hours; it was just heavenly! When there was no breeze I was almost too HOT sitting there! Imagine that! However, I now haven't seen the sun in four or five days...and tomorrow it's supposed to snow :-/ 
This was my gorgeous reading spot for the day :)

View from the bridge of the bank where I was reading

Someone else thinks it's Spring too!.. they've started planting all kinds of beautiful things in the courtyard of my flat!
The windows on the left are my living room & kitchen, so I get to see these pretty flowers all the time :) It's not
quite the SMU landscaping...but I still enjoy it immensely!
I couldn't live without a real coffee maker anymore... Thanks
to Gumtree, for 15 pounds I'm now feeling American again :)
In the most exciting news ever...MY MOM IS COMING TO VISIT at the end of this month! I cannot wait! So much more exciting blog starring my mother coming soon!