Update: Graduate School, Hiatus, and Website Reconstruction

Hello, hello!

It’s been a while in since my last post and I apologize for the hiatus! For the past 6 months, I have been preparing for, and am now attending, graduate school (this is indeed what I have been alluding to in my previous posts from early last year regarding my “important/exciting” update)! It’s definitely been an adjustment being away from home and getting used to the graduate school workload, but now that I have one semester under my belt, I’m hoping that this semester will run a bit smoother.

With that being said, my current goals for my websites are to revamp my photography website (I’ve got a few new sessions to post and during the site reconstruction, I will continue to leave my site viewable) and slowly work on editing the rest of my PNW trip photos for my blog. So stay tuned. (:


Pacific Northwest: Day 4

May 4, 2018

Location summary:
Astoria, OR–> Newport, OR
Pier 39 (Astoria, OR)
Astoria Column (Astoria, OR)
Hug Point (Clatsop County, OR)

Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitors Center (Tillamook, OR))
Local Oceans Seafood (Newport, OR)

Pier 39

We had a pretty early wake up time of 7:00am today due to the amount of driving needed to get us to Newport! We had breakfast in the hotel before heading to quickly explore the surrounding area, which boasted peaceful views in the early morning.

Our exploration also included venturing over a wooden bridge to get to Pier 39, which houses the Bumble Bee Cannery museum and a few businesses.

Astoria Column

After the pier, we made a quick stop back at the Astoria Column to purchase some last-minute souvenirs for a friend (they sold small wooden gliders stamped with “Astoria Column” and we thought it was the perfect gift for our aerospace engineer buddy). It was a good thing that we went, too—we were there at the same time as a group of school children who all purchased gliders to throw off of the top of the column. It was quite a sight to see perhaps 10-15 gliders flying and twirling every which way with a horde of giggling children excitedly watching their respective planes’ descent.

We also finished writing our postcards up at the column:

Hug Point (+ drive from Astoria, OR-> Tillamook, OR)

We then spent a good chunk of the day driving on the coast of Oregon to get to Tillamook, OR. Needless to say, we had to make some bathroom breaks that sometimes may or may not have been timed with scenic recreation points such as Hug Point! (Funnily enough, we actually drove by Haystack Rock without realizing that it was an icon of the Oregon Coast… *sad face*.)

While walking around the beach, we noticed this beautiful arch that had been erected–possibly for a recent wedding ceremony??? The flowers at the top were still perfectly healthy!

Annnnnnnd onward to more photos from random stops on the coast other than Hug Point:

Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitors Center

Even though Tillamook was a bit out of the way of our final destination of Newport, we thought that it would be fun to stop at the highly-recommended cheese factory that produces our favorite cheeses! (Hehe I would like to point out that Darren drove most of the way… I was dead asleep in the passenger seat most of the time.)

It was definitely worth the drive even though we were only able to visit their temporary visitors center (they were currently in the process of opening up their new center). There, we had a lunch of tomato soup+cheese curds and a grilled cheese sandwich before moving on to the obvious highlight of this place: ICE CREAM!!!! There were so many flavors from which to choose, but after some deliberation, we decided on a scoop of huckleberry ice cream and a scoop of maple whiskey (totally worth the extra $1 per scoop) on a waffle cone.

Lastly, we walked around their shopping area that carried everything from t-shirts and bottle openers to wildflower honey and cheese curds (defined as “The fresh curds of cheese that squeak against the teeth when bitten into, which some would say is their defining characteristic.”)! I was sad that the squeaky cheese curd samples were no longer squeaky when we tried them, hahaha.

We ended up buying an ornament (I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but Darren and I want to buy an ornament for each major city that we visit on our trips), some meat sticks, and honey. We also took home a couple penny presses (I also haven’t yet mentioned this, but as a child I collected penny presses and I am now making it one of my souvenir priorities).

*Fun story about this bus: we had been waiting for it to empty of children and RIGHT when it finally did, Darren had to go to the bathroom… hence no photo of us inside of it :(.

Newport, Oregon

Following Tillamook was more driving (or sleeping if we’re talking about me hehe) until we reached our beautiful destination of Newport, Oregon! It was pretty late by the time we arrived, so the majority of our evening was spent checking into the hotel, having dinner at Local Ocean Seafood (unfortunately, no photos of our delicious seafood consisting of local raw oysters and fried razor clams), and walking around the pier and boardwalk.

Pacific Northwest: Day 3

May 3, 2018

Location summary:
Seattle, WA-> Astoria, OR
Fremont Coffee Company (Seattle, WA)
Portage Bay Goods (Seattle, WA)

Fremont Bowl (Seattle, WA)
Post Office (Seattle, WA)
Astoria Column (Astoria, OR)
Hampton Inn (Astoria, OR)
Buoy Beer Company (Astoria, OR)

The third day of our trip was filled with last-minute ventures in Seattle, WA before our 3.5 hour coastal drive to Astoria, OR (where I slept for a good chunk of the car ride… thanks for driving, Darren!).

Unfortunately, I don’t have photos from all of our stops that I listed in the above “location summary” because some of them were taken on Darren’s camera and he hasn’t gotten around to sorting those, yet. But do enjoy the ones I DID manage to obtain!


We woke up early in the morning to finish packing our belongings, have breakfast, and fill out our postcards (we both made it a point on our trip to send postcards to friends and family from each big city at which we stopped during our trip). We also found a cute travel notebook that was left by our host for their travelers; we made sure to fill it out and thank them for such a wonderful stay! We hope to be back here someday!

Fremont Coffee Company

After departing from our Airbnb at around 10:30am, we headed to our morning coffee fix at Fremont Coffee Company. This place was highly reviewed on Yelp as a eccentric, yet cozy coffee shop housed in, well, a small house! They are also known for their cute latte art, as seen in the cute little owl that I received on my own latte.

Washington-> Oregon

Following coffee, we did a bit of souvenir shopping at Portage Bay Goods, where we bought some coasters and postcards with artwork designed by local artists (one of my goals on this trip was to shop at small businesses/local businesses—I hope to also keep this up in the future!). We also had a late lunch at Fremont Bowl, famous for their chirashi bowl. Of course, we ordered the famed chirashi bowl and an additional sake don (salmon) to share between the two of us and woah—this place definitely lived up to the hype! There was a lot of fresh, tasty fish in our bowls, fresh wasabi, and fresh picked ginger that really brought our dishes together. Finally, we dropped off our postcards at the post office and then we were on our way!

As we drove to Oregon, we saw the weather deteriorate from Sunny San Diego weather to the famed PNW cloudy gray, but it was beautiful all the same.

Astoria Column

Our first stop in Astoria was the Astoria Column! It was highly recommended in the AAA Oregon guidebook and even though my initial impression was that it might be a slightly sleepy stop, it turned out to be quite an experience.

*A bit of background information about the column from their website:

Standing above the city–600 feet above sea level to be exact–the Astoria Column unleashes an unrivaled view of Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the mighty Columbia River, and in the distance—the Pacific Ocean. Its light shines each night as a silent testament to the pride, fortitude, and resolve of the people who settled the Pacific Northwest, and to those who live here today.

Modeled after the Trajan Column in Rome, the Astoria Column features a hand-painted spiral frieze that would stretch more than 500 feet if unwound. The monument was dedicated in 1926, and has since undergone several restorations.

Learning more about the history of the column made it more interesting in my eyes, especially as I also recognized the similarities to Trajan’s Column from my art history studies. However, the true enjoyment came from driving up the hill, seeing the views from the bottom of the column, and then actually CLIMBING the spiral staircase inside of the humid column before opening the door and seeing a panoramic version of the views I had just seen from below.

Hampton Inn & Suites

Subsequently, we drove to our hotel to check-in, drop off our things, freshen up, and find a place to have dinner. To our pleasure, our room had a gorgeous view (obviously, that meant Darren had to stick his Go-Pro to the window and take a time lapse; I’ve yet to see the fruits of his labor… haha!) and we spent a few moments simply enjoying it before heading out again.

Buoy Beer Company

There were a few promising options on our quest for food, but in the end we decided on Buoy Beer Co. because not only was the food highly rated, but the views from the restaurant were supposed to be stellar.

Again, Yelp came through! The food was delicious (fried cheese curds, the sweetest oyster shots, and steamer clams), the service friendly, the beer pretty tasty (my personal favorites of our flight were the Dunkel and Mandarina Bavaria Single Hop IPA), and the views majestic. I’m so bummed that I didn’t get any photos of the scenery 🙁

Another highlight of this place was the partial glass floor that allows for the viewing of sea lions perched underneath!


Pacific Northwest: Day 2

May 2, 2018

Location summary:
Seattle, WA
Pike Place Market
Storyville Coffee Company
Rachel’s Ginger Beer
Argosy Cruises
Post Alley Gum Wall
Pike Place Chowder
Seattle Great Wheel

The second day of our trip was essentially wandering around Pike Place Market and exploring all that it had to offer (just as a note: many of the places that I listed under location summary are actually part of the Pike  Place Market)! We also did some sightseeing on land and on sea.

Pike Place Market

Storyville Coffee Company

After a quick venture around the Farmer’s Market, we had our mandatory “local coffee” stop at this little peaceful place that was full of warm tones and picturesque views of Pike Place Market. We ended spending at least an hour just sitting there by the window, chatting, drinking our mocha + cold brew, and enjoying our time together.


Following coffee, we had MORE coffee at the Orignal Starbucks Store! Just kidding—we didn’t (nor did we want to) purchase any drinks, but we had to make this our next travel priority because we noticed that it was fairly empty when we passed by. And by that, I mean there was no line outside but still packed inside HAHA.

Since the store was so small, it didn’t take long for us to peruse their merchandise (I bought a Pike Place mug that is part of their “Been There” collection) and snap a couple of photos.


Appropriately, we visited a highly recommended bakery after our back-to-back coffee stops: Piroshky-Piroshky. We were in luck—again, no line! It was definitely difficult choosing a few pastries as our breakfast, and in the end we decided on a cherry white chocolate streusel, cinnamon cardamon bread, and ham+peas piroshki.

Rachel’s Ginger Beer

Rather than eating our pastries in the cramped shop, we took our bakery purchases to Rachel’s Ginger Beer (this place was highly recommended by Darren, as he’d been here before on a previous PNW trip). While inside, we chatted with the employee about photography and the different ginger beer flavors only to find out hat he was also a fellow San Diego native who went to school in a very familiar school district! Anywho, we added a 20 oz pink guava ginger beer to our breakfast menu and ate our goodies whilst filling out our travel notebook.


Next up on our itinerary was our Argosy Harbor Cruise, but rather than drive, we decided to meander our way down to the waterfront on foot—there were a lot of pretty sights to take in on our walk!

Argosy Cruises

Our harbor cruise was a 1-hour narrated cruise that provided more beautiful sights of the city as well as sights of the surrounding landscape (we were lucky enough to get clear viewing conditions + sunny skies). And in case anyone was wondering: yes, we did buy a copy of our cheesy boarding photo, hahaha.

Post Alley Gum Wall

By the time the harbor cruise was over, our stomachs were voicing their displeasure at not having been fed more than pastries and ginger beer… so we listened to our bellies and made our way back to Pike Place Market. Except we made a teeny little detour: the famed gum wall.

I smelled it before I even saw it—the cloying scent of fruit. And just around the corner from where my nose detected the smell was this great alley of gum wallS. Not just one, but two walls in Post Alley that were completely covered (pipes, doorways, and all) in chewed gum. Gross!

Here’s Darren smiling and trying not to get his hair stuck to the wall:

Pike Place Chowder

Surprisingly, our appetite was still strong after visiting the gum wall. Onto lunch we went! We decided on the famed Pike Place Chowder, where we again lucked out on the long lines (I guess it helps to go after the lunch rush) and ordered a clam chowder and a cold dungeness crab+shrimp roll that hit the spot.

Ugh, writing this post is making me crave some clam chowder. Just look at this deliciousness:

… they also had this fabulous chowder flight that I regret not getting. 🙁 Next time!


Being the food connoisseurs that we are (Heh, just kidding. We’re no experts; we just really like food), we had to get dessert at none other than Ellenos: real greek yogurt. It might sound odd to have greek yogurt as a dessert, but I personally love greek yogurt—and Ellenos’ preparation of the yogurt with a myriad of different flavors (orange tumeric and raspberry ginger for us) made it more reminiscent of a really smooth, slightly less frozen, frozen yogurt. Heh.

Airbnb & Nap 🙂

Of course, after all of that walking and eating and travel craziness from the day before, we figured that a nap would be a good idea before our evening adventures. Thus, we headed back to our Airbnb to take a nap as well as take care of a few things bugging us back home.

Seattle Great Wheel

Our evening adventure consisted of the Seattle Great Wheel! We timed our trip well and was rewarded by a twilight city views:

Pacific Northwest: Day 1


May 1, 2018

Location summary:
SAN–>SFO–>SEA; Seattle, WA
Burien Fish House (Burien, WA)
Chihuly Garden and Glass (Seattle, WA)
Seattle Space Needle (Seattle, WA)

The first day of our trip was jam-packed as it consisted of flying time as well as visiting some tourist attractions. Our 3.5 hours of flying time took a lot longer as we had to wait for our connecting flight; by the time we arrived in WA and picked up our rental car, we were starving!

Burien Fish House

While Darren was driving, I looked on Yelp for well-rated places to eat that were nearby: Thai food or fish tacos. Obviously we opted for the latter because you can’t be in the PNW and not get seafood! And let me tell you, that was the right decision because Burien Fish House is now probably my favorite seafood place (sorry, Blue Water Seafood Market and Grill… but you’re a close second and obviously way more conveniently located hahaha).

We ordered grilled salmon tacos on corn tortillas + topped with pineapple/mango salsa and their combo plate (panko battered fish, shrimp, and clam strips) that also came with a side of coleslaw. The coleslaw was exactly how I liked it; sweet, crispy, and creamy—I was in heaven!!!

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Next up was the Chihuly Garden and Glass. There’s really not a lot to say here except for the fact that I was completely enamored by his gallery installations (with my favorite being the sea life room) and wished that I had the chance to see the original installations!

If you’re in Seattle, I highly recommend this place—it’s a lot more than just a “tourist attraction” in my opinion. Also, don’t forget to go to the theatre and watch the 4-5 short videos that they have about Chihuly, his process, and his installations; it’ll only take about 30 minutes to get through them all.

I took a lot of photos here, as I tried to capture some installation pieces as displayed while also playing around with some abstraction in my composition.

Space Needle

The Space Needle was next on our agenda, but I don’t have a lot of photos from the Needle as it was under construction and also very crowded. However, I did get a couple of photos OF the Space Needle from around the city!

Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya

Our last stop of the day was dinner! We had no idea what to eat, but we were sure that it had to be something warm because we were exhausted by the day’s activities. Again, Yelp came to the rescue with a nearby ramen place.


Finally, finally, finally—back to our home away from home (at least for our two nights in Seattle, anyway).

The Pacific Northwest: a 9 day graduation trip!

Early this month I embarked on my graduation trip to the Pacific Northwest with Darren and it was an absolute blast! I will be posting about the whole trip, so stay tuned for more details (and of course, photos) about each day.

Trip summary:

  • Day 1: SAN–>SFO–>SEA ; Seattle, WA
  • Day 2: Seattle, WA
  • Day 3: Seattle, WA–> Astoria, OR
  • Day 4: Astoria, OR–> Newport, OR
  • Day 5: Newport, OR–> Portland, OR
  • Day 6: Portland, OR
  • Day 7: Portland, OR–> Vancouver, B.C., Canada
  • Day 8: Vancouver, B.C., Canada–> Seattle, WA
  • Day 9: Seattle, WA ; SEA–>SFO–> SAN

Other fun details:

  • 9 days
  • 4 flights
  • 1 rental car
  • 1090 miles
  • 3 Airbnbs + 3 hotels
  • 2 border crossings
  • & A LOT of car snacks!

P.S. I know that not all of the photos are perfect, but I tried not to focus TOO much on that aspect while on my trip. (:

Disneyland + Disneyland Hotel


April 21, 2018

The last use of our Disneyland SoCal Resident ticket.
Today was extra special given that we were able to snag a great deal on the Disneyland Hotel to celebrate my upcoming 24th birthday!

We checked in early in the morning and to our surprise, they had a room ready for us. Upon entering, we realized that we had a room with a view—and not just any view, but a view of the Mickey-shaped pool (huge upgrade for free; we opted not to pay for a view to save some money). Yay!!!

It was truly a treat to spend a night here, as I previously stayed here back in 2012 as part of my high school graduation Disney trip with my friends. It was such a pleasure to return to the magical, light-up headboard that plays “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”.

Not to mention, the Pixar Fest had just kicked off and we were extremely excited to be able to experience all that it had to offer. Unfortunately, it was somewhat of a disappointment, with the advertisement outdoing the actual event itself. I expected it to be more like Disney 60, but it seemed to be based a lot on food and merchandise. Oh well! We had a fantastic time at Disneyland regardless.

P.S. There’s a massive backlog of posts on my end—my computer’s hard drive conked out and it was finally fixed just yesterday! (Hopefully.) Stay tuned for some belated “Happiness Is” posts, our Pacific Northwest Graduation Trip, and new grad portraits. Cheers!

Happiness Is: February

Happiness is: cooking a delicious meal consisting of lemon salmon & asparagus.

February 6, 2018

Happiness is: buying my mom this teeny tiny bouquet of flowers.

February 10, 2018

Happiness is: spending our first Valentine’s Day together and receiving this beauty.

February 10, 2018

Happiness is: having an influx of flowers on Valentine’s Day (from my boyfriend and my mom’s boyfriend, respectively).

February 14, 2018

Happiness is: putting my most meaningful set of rings on a rose gold metal giraffe.

February 19, 2018

Happiness is: breaking in my mom’s cast iron pans to create this bright dish of lemon garlic asparagus & cherry tomatoes, which was paired with quinoa and Instant Pot whole chicken.

February 20, 2018
February 20, 2018

Happiness is: spending my morning starting our new album. ❤

February 22, 2018


Disney California Adventure Park

February 24, 2018

The second use of our Disneyland SoCal Resident ticket!

It was a relatively languid day given that Paradise Pier is currently under construction (*cue my tears at the loss of California Screamin’ and basically my childhood*).  However, we were able to do things that we usually neglect on busier days, including enjoying Tow Mater waffles at Flo’s V8 Cafe, watching Frozen — Live at the Hyperion, and shopping, where we took home some merchandise showcasing the adorable 2018 artwork by Caley Hicks!

Coffee & Coronado

February 18, 2018

Location summary:
James Coffee Co.
Coronado Beach

When we were both students, we often went out to study at various coffee shops in hopes of increasing our productivity—which worked beautifully! Now that he’s working full time, these study sessions are bit rarer… but on this day, we found ourselves wandering outside of my apartment to complete some extra studying (for me) and some extra work (for him). Our afternoon then ended with a very windy sunset at Coronado.

James Coffee Co.

Coronado Beach