My Photography Got Published!

My photography got published! Read more about that process in the link below!

https://www.carmenhaideeleung.com/blog/my-photography-got-published

IMG_0184

Advertisements

A Wintery Sonoma

IMG_8621

My boyfriend and I decided to take a quick visit to Sonoma this winter break. Normally, I imagine Sonoma to be covered from head to toe in luscious grapes vines, but because we decided to visit in the midst of winter, Sonoma took on a new sort of feel. The foggy air and bare branches were a beauteous view in and of itself. The air was mysterious, and I surprisingly really loved it. I really enjoyed whipping out my handy dandy little camera and snapping a couple photos of the place.

IMG_8622
IMG_8627
IMG_8633
IMG_8605

We visited two wineries to taste test some wine. Now, we are both only 21 and 22, so we look quite young, but we never got carded because these places are just classy beyond belief. We first visited Imagery, an art gallery inspired wine tasting bar. Each of their wine bottle labels are decorated with pieces of artwork that they showcase in their galleries. I saw many people walking around, sipping on their glasses of wine, admiring and discussing the paintings and photographs. This is what I mean when I say classy beyond belief!

My favorite was the 2007 Petite Sirah Port. It’s a sweet wine that pairs amazingly with the little dark chocolate pieces that our host handed to us as well. Our server, Leslie, was bright and upbeat, and she even concluded our visit with a ticket to a free wine tasting from a neighboring winery as well! If you know me, I love free stuff, so there was no way I was going to pass up the chance for a FREE wine tasting!

IMG_8612
IMG_8609
IMG_8613

The second winery we ventured to was Benziger, yay for free stuff! I loved the long green leafy holiday decorations that sometimes intermingled with Christmas lights and sometimes were decorated with huge red bows. Festive.

IMG_8544
IMG_8541

Normally, the wine tastings at $20, but we got to taste 6 wines for free! One of my favorites was definitely the 2012 Oonapais. Now, I just turned 21 and all Paris taught me was that drinking wine is a wonderful experience, so I must admit that part of the reason I loved this wine was it’s funny name. I kept muttering it under my breath to try and pronounce it and my boyfriend just laughed at me. That being said, our host explained the wine to have sweet aromas of boysenberry and dark cocoa. It was smooth across the tongue and had fruity hints of blackberry jam, blueberry, and plum flavors. I loved seeing on the host’s little map where each of the grapes came from on their estate, or the methods in which is tend to the vines.

I do love whites the most and that is why we purchased a white 2013 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc Benziger wine to take home as a souvenir. That, I admit, is very delicious. Can’t wait to sip on some more!

IMG_8626

A Land Where December is Sunny

IMG_7888

Meet my anything-but-little friend, Mr. Tiger. His wide, soft, bright eyes stared at us in curiosity as we started snapping photos of him. We never would have guessed an animal so adorable could be so dangerous. He was officially our favorite of the day.

IMG_7932IMG_7944

Ever since our freshman year of college at UC Davis, my friends Janae and Phoebe have been trying to plan a trip to visit our good friend Haylie down in sunny San Diego. After three years, we finally made it happen! This vacation got me through the very difficult moments of finals that I struggled through. We scored $80 round trip tickets (an AMAZING deal) thanks to Southwest’s random one day deal. Haylie, our host for the trip, is an intelligent and talkative spirit who seems to have friends who hook-up us with things everywhere. She even got us free tickets to the San Diego Zoo and we all felt like little kids again.

IMG_8100IMG_7873

One of my favorite things about my friends is their spontaneity that leads to the discovery of random hidden treasures. One of these was this mysterious little light shop that boasted many sales. We passed by a couple of times, and finally, Janae decided we should go in and my jaw dropped.

Light Fixtures Galore.

Every single ceiling and wall were packed with light fixtures until it seemed there was barely room to squeeze in any one more. Every wall, every door seemed like its own masterpiece.

IMG_8171IMG_8166

My favorite part of the light store was this huge brightly lit hallway that was compacted with lamps and chandeliers that led you all the way down a long corridor to two glass doors that escorted you out back to the streets.

IMG_8190IMG_8192

Haylie, who planned everything this trip, is probably the most athletic out of the four of us, so of course we went out to Torrey Pines and completed a gorgeous hike by the San Diego waters. This hike was perfect for people like us, who are looking for a great view that does not require too much effort and sweat.

IMG_8246IMG_8265IMG_8249

The waters were so blue and so clear. All along the hikes were little turn out points to rest on benches and lean against the railings to listen to the sounds of the ocean. Then, behind us, were all gloriously huge mountains and hills. The views this hike presented had just a little bit of everything.

IMG_8285

We all brought long sleeves and sweaters to the hike, but took them off within the first 10 minutes. We continuously talked about how only San Diego would stay so warm during the midst of December. It honestly felt like we walked through some portal into the spring season! The San Diego natives we chatted with all talked about how the 60s weather froze their little toes off while we stood in front of them in our dresses and t-shirts.

IMG_8306IMG_8278

Our week trip would not have been complete without some drinks by the beautiful waters at sunset. We headed over to Peohe’s for happy hour and we were greeted with a tall and very friendly waiter who patiently took many photos for us before we settled down to eat and enjoy our drinks. The mango mojito I ordered was so delightful to my tastebuds.

IMG_8427IMG_8470

The trip was an overall success! We watched cheesy Christmas movies (snOMG became our cheesy ironic pun of the weekend), enjoyed a jacuzzi with a view in Haylie’s own bathtub, ate a LOT of homemade bon-bons (Haylie’s dad is the bob-bon master), and even visited a classy rooftop bar at Rooftop600 at Andaz hotel.

IMG_8438

Most of all, these friends are people that I am sure will be around for life. These three here, as well as many many special people I have met at my community at UC Davis have helped me to grow and redefine myself in completely new ways. For the first time, I felt a sort of genuine love that proved to be so powerful and so undeniable. For the first time, the people around me looked at me and made it known that they saw so much in me, and even though I didn’t believe them, their faith in the goodness of who I am pushed me to believe in the fact that there was room for me to grow into my full potential. For the first time, I have friends who love me enough to voluntarily put themselves into an uncomfortable situation, risking me being completely upset with them, to pull me out from doing something that they recognized was not good for me. For the first time, I recognize that my worth was not dependent on the situational things that occurred all around me, but on the constant downpour of love that God continues to shower me with. For the first time, I feel full. Anytime I fall into the lie that nobody loves me or cares about me, as everyone inevitably encounters these moments, I simply look around me at my friends and realize that the facts don’t line up in that regard. My friends have led me to believe that I am so loved, and I could never have asked for anything better.

Cheers to an amazing 2016!

 

Getting Toast(y) for the Winter

IMG_7680-2

Finals were certainly stressful this time around, but there is no better feeling than the freedom I felt from finishing my last test and walking out to the fresh air. Only two more quarters until I graduate from University of California, Davis! There is no telling what comes afterwards, but hey, let’s take life one step at a time! To celebrate the end of finals and the start of the holidays, my sister-Katie-and I decided to make some cute little toasts ! I totally stole the idea for this punny blog title from my sister btw. We grabbed our inspiration from Tastemade, a group on Facebook that has delicious food ideas. You can visit their video through the link down below.

IMG_7643IMG_7660

Katie has always been the better chef, and I always learn really simple foundational things from cooking with her. To wash strawberries and blueberries, she taught me to soak them in water a little bit of baking soda. I just always scrubbed them in water. Apparently she learned that from our mother… I should pay attention in the kitchen more.

IMG_7692

Today, I decided that one of my favorite sensations in the world was the taste of freshly hand-whipped heavy whipping cream.

It was a very simple process. We toasted the bread, whipped the cream, spread the Nutella, cut the fruit, and placed them aesthetically all over the place.

IMG_7684
Orange and Walnut Nutella Toast
IMG_7681
Kiwi and Banana Toast
IMG_7686
Strawberry and Blueberry Nutella Toast
IMG_7682
Apple Walnut and Cinnamon Sugar Toast
IMG_7683
Fresh Tomato and Pepper Toast
IMG_7685
Avocado and Pomegranate Toast
IMG_7699
Your chefs for today: Me (left) and Katie (right)

Where we drew our inspiration from:

Bread & Sweets All Day

IMG_6461

My good friend Monica decided to come to SF to hang out with me for a day! Our first stop was to The Mill. A cafe that describes themself as a “joint venture between Four Barrel Coffee and Josey Baker Bread”. Monica and I both agreed that the place and all of its customers looked like they were plucked straight out from an edition of Kinfolk.

IMG_6468

IMG_6470

IMG_6465

Next, we hopped on over to Mr. Holmes Bakery. There was no line because we got there kind of late. Eh…Pros and Cons. We missed the Cruffins, but every other pastry we tasted was beyond delicious. I would highly recommend.

IMG_6472

IMG_6475

IMG_6473

Yeah I did. No jk I didn’t.

IMG_6482

IMG_6485  IMG_6484

Then we went to the Mission District (her fav) and enjoyed some samples and gawked at the cheese at Bi-Rite Market after doing some people watching at Mission Delores Park. My favorite cheese from there would definitely have to be the triple cream brie. $7 seems kinda pricey for a slice of cheese, but you need to try it. It is totally worth every penny.

  IMG_6491   IMG_6501

IMG_6513

We then contemplated purchasing an air plant. They literally just hang off the wall. Who knew that was a thing?

IMG_6515

We then walked over to this amazing tiny dessert shop called the Sixth Course. I bought a small box of chocolates that consisted of a Habanero flavor, a curry flavor, brown butter sage, and a smokey caramel. The Habanero (the lonely white, red, and yellow chocolate in the top left corner) was almost all sold out, so I made sure to snatch up the last one standing. It surprisingly tasted pretty hot and spicy, but the sweetness of the white chocolate balanced it out pretty well. Plus. Everything looks so pretty!

IMG_6518

Tartine Bakery was our next stop! A kind stranger behind us recommended this porridge bread and so we decided to try that one! It was moist and freshly out at 4:30pm. Totally worth the line yet again. After all, long line = high probability the food there is BOMB.

IMG_6525

And the bread was indeed bomb.

  IMG_6531 IMG_6532IMG_6530

Isn’t she cute? Lastly we attempted to walk off all the sweets we had eaten today by climbing the famous Moraga steps! These are barely a 5 minute drive away from my house. I love seeing all the names of all the people who contributed to the building of these stairs when etching into the tiles.

IMG_6538 IMG_6540 IMG_6551 IMG_6562

I’m Back San Fran

IMG_6369untitled  IMG_6310IMG_6312IMG_6305  untitled2IMG_6303  untitled3untitled4

I was welcomed back into fog city with a surprising amount of sun. I’m lovin it.IMG_6367IMG_6336  IMG_6337

Now that I’m back from Paris, I definitely am experiencing withdrawals. During my lunch break at work, I actually started looking up the cost of plane tickets to go back to Paris next summer. Heh. I am currently working as a summer temp at Hills Physicians with a bunch of amazing & inspiring pharmacists in managed care. I get my own cubicle and glass name place card everything! I feel so legit. The commute to San Ramon is quite far, but manageable. When the weekend finally came, my sister and I decided to venture out to our own home’s backyard. We usually affiliate the backyard with our precious puppy Snowy’s bathroom space. As we stepped out back, even though we’ve lived in this house all our lives, we both realized we didn’t even know what color the back of our house was! As you can tell, due the association of the backyard with poop, we don’t go back there much. This time around, we’ve developed a newfound appreciation for our white paneled backyard and the new garden my mom has begun. I guess since both her children are growing older and leaving for college, she still needed something to take care of. Haha it’s sweet.

Getting to spend quality time with my little sister has been one of my favorite things about summer. When we were little, we used to help each other circumvent our parent’s strict rules, toss stuffed animals back and forth as a game of intense catch when we were supposed to be asleep, and pull up sleeping bags to have sleepovers in the other’s rooms. I love being around her because she’s weird, which influences me to become weird, and all the weirdness just cracks me up. She’s going off to college in less than a month so I’m super excited for her! She’s also getting her wisdom teeth out later this week. I’m excited to make fun of her and her chubby chipmunk cheeks.

Excited for the many super hip adventures in San Francisco to come.

IMG_6373

Au Revoir

IMG_6127IMG_6138IMG_4344

My lovely friend Ani came to sleepover and spend my last two days in Paris with me. We shopped and we shopped until my arms hurt from carrying all the bags and Ani had to assist me. She even helped me pack and took the train with me all the way to the airport. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her because my luggage was crazy heavy. Having her hang out with me (or rather do chores with me) ended up being the best end to this trip I could have ever asked for.

IMG_6145

These pictures were taken on the balcony of my apartment! Oh, I’m going to miss that beautiful apartment with its balcony and flowy white curtains. I would often wake up to my roommate sitting on the balcony eating strawberries and looking out onto the streets. What a way to live.

IMG_6143

This beautiful raspberry rose Pierre Herme macaron served as our farewell to Paris treat. The rose petal was real and surprisingly refreshing to eat! The macaron was almost as dreamy as this entire experience has been. The only way I could keep myself from sinking into sadness was by promising Paris that I would be back for it one day & I intend to keep that promise.

IMG_6177

Leaving London – Full of Food and Full of Love

This weekend I had to fight off the urge to say “Merci Beaucoup” every time I left a store because I finally was in an English speaking country! I spontaneously decided to travel to London to visit my friends Serena and Danielle over the weekend and they took such good care of me. Serena and I almost had a panic attack because the plan was for me to sleep over at her room, but her housing building last minute implemented a new “no guests from 9pm-9am” policy and it was already 10:30pm so we set up this elaborate plan to lie and sneak me in, but we got caught and the security man was incredibly intimidating. I thought I wasn’t going to have a place to stay the night! Then after a very stern scolding, the security guard suddenly turned nice and bent the rules after we told him the truth so I could stay. We were confused at this sudden switch in personality but we both agreed that honesty really is actually the best policy.

IMG_5743

IMG_5731

IMG_5821

My first meal in London was fish & chips (typical), then the next day we dressed up all fancy and headed over to Browns Hotel for a legit experience of afternoon tea. It. Was. So. Fancy. The waiter poured all our teas for us, the sandwiches and cakes came in an unlimited supply, and there was even a live piano player! Can the place get any classier?!

IMG_5662

IMG_5784

IMG_5908   IMG_5789
IMG_5825

Then we walked over to Reagents Park which was beautifully green and full of gorgeous flowers left and right. All the bathrooms in the area slowly started shutting down though, and that did not agree with my small bladder.

IMG_5776-2

So we left to Dishoom’s for some crazy amazing Indian food. The line was a 1.5 hour wait, and Danielle waited alone for 1 hour because I wasn’t feeling well and needed a jacket and an advil (she’s the best). On Sunday, we headed over to Borough Market to preemptively celebrate Bastille day and nibble on some more yummies. Then I left for the train again back to Paris!

IMG_5868   IMG_5933

The weekend was spent with two of the sweetest, funniest, and most encouraging two people I know. It felt like I was home again. I left London feeling full of both food and of love.

Giverny & Normandy

IMG_5539

There was so much green I wanted to die of joy. Having been in the hustle and bustle of Paris for so long, walking into the lush greenery that filled Monet’s home in Giverny felt so refreshing. I had been anticipating this day trip to Giverny ever since I visited the Musee L’Orangerie and fell in love with Monet’s Water Lilies, his infamous painting of the water lilies in his personal garden. I couldn’t believe I was standing on the bridge, overlooking the very sight that inspired such a captivating piece of artwork.

IMG_5526

IMG_5548

IMG_5537

IMG_5586IMG_5598
Then we headed to Normandy. I didn’t take any pictures inside the D-day museum because I was too focused on trying not to cry while reading through everything. It was quite an emotional experience. Seeing the actual soldiers’ faces and reading their stories about how so many soldiers refused medical help when injured to complete important deliveries or save others’ lives, or others who died in battle leaving behind widows and newborn children they never got to meet.

IMG_6009

IMG_5944-3IMG_5946

My favorite story was of a soldier who, amidst the raging gunfire, stayed on the beach to hold the hands of dying soldiers and listen to their last wishes. So many of these soldiers were young men in their early twenties, and I can’t help but relate that back to the fact that this is the age range of all of my guy friends right now. The amount of bloodshed and death that occurred that day is quite hard to picture now on the beautiful beaches that we walked across. So much history and too many feels. IMG_6031-3
The beaches and the grassy hills were gorgeous though. The place was crazy windy, but the beach sand was the softest I had felt in a while. My little tired feet were quite happy. Wheeee!

A Katie Lin Day

During orientation, we were told to pack some sweaters for Paris’ bipolar weather. However, on this particular day, Paris was burning hot. We dipped over to a cute little shop in the 3rd arrondissement called Boot Cafe. The place was run by a sweet English lady, and we ordered what she remarked was her most popular item of the day, a cool cup of classic iced coffee. The place apparently used to be an old cobber store! It was super cozy and so cute. We then walked through Musee D’Orsay, and pretended to be art connoisseurs, attempting to interpret and analyze all the Monet and Degas impressionist artworks. The best part about the entire day though, was being able to see a familiar face. Great way to combat the homesickness. IMG_4860IMG_4861 IMG_4919IMG_4900IMG_4883