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  • helentao 12:03 am on October 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    happy birthday to me! 

    i think i had mentioned this a while ago…but i had given up my birthday to throw a party for my friend mai who was moving to boston (we miss you!). soooo due to my busy schedule, oct 23rd was my first open weekend to plan a bday event! it was nice…ive never had a fall birthday before :)

    i had asked my friends to come rock climbing with me….only sal and jenn had gone with me before but i love it and i wanted to share it with them too!

    jenn couldn’t stay for dinner so she came a bit earlier so that she could go with me to get lunch. i was waiting for her to get here….and all of a sudden i hear “happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!”.

    how sweet right? jenn woke up super early to make me cupcakes from scratch. chocolate on chocolate of course. thanks jenn!!!!!

    kind of funny because jenn was telling me how she talked herself into really, really believing it was my birthday this weekend (i was born in mid-july….)

    so off to milk + honey we went. got there….and surprise!!!!! sal and mai are there! (boston mai and thao were on the phone) i was really surprised. so surprised that i didnt get to take any pictures….but you can see them on sal’s blog here.

    milk + honey…always wanted to go get shaved ice there…didn’t get a chance to because of the hoopla going on.

    this is just a great picture. one year on our way to vegas, we played chubby bunny. can you guess who won?

    after milk + honey, we went over to rockreation to climb.

    thao :) she really liked it

    sal climbing. thao thought that sal would want an extra push to get her going :))

    better angle :)))))

    jenn climbing. i know jenn loves it. (sorry she’s a bit blurry :( )

    thats me! didnt/couldnt climb some of the harder ones. :(

    mai climbing. so funny. mai volunteered herself to go first. and when she finished the first climb, our belayer (person who’s holding your rope at the bottom) told mai to let go of the wall so she could be lowered…”i dont want to!!!” in a cute whiny voice. hahahah

    after climbing we went to shabu shabu….but will have to get those pics from sal!

    thanks girls for coming with me!!! i hope you guys had fun :))))

  • helentao 12:29 am on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    rock climbing 

    continuing with the trend of using groupon, i had seen one for outdoor rock climbing and decided to buy it. i asked sal and jenn to buy it also since theyve been climbing indoors with me before. i was super excited to finally (!!!) get to go outdoors. jenn couldnt go with us but sallys friend who is also now my friend (its facebook official) john came alone with us.

    not gonna lie…all week i was stressing about this trip. what if i hated it? everyone that i climb with told me that theres absolutely no way i would hate it….but who knows right?!

    sally and john drove from la to pick me up then we headed to sd.

    here we are at mission trails regional park. we got here pretty early since sal needed extra time in case she got lost. the good news is we didnt. the bad news is we had 30+ minutes to kill.

    so sally posed with the bobcat. very sexy sal

    we climbed with a guide from front range climbing company. our guide, diego, was absolutely amazing. hes been climbing for about 17 years! definitely a good person to go climbing with if you’re inexperienced.

    the hike up to where we were going to climb was pretty steep. i think the hike is the hardest part for me because im so, so afraid of heights. its ironic that i feel fine climbing a 50 ft wall but cant hike up (or down) a mountain. weird.

    i think by the time we started hiking it was about 9:15 or 9:30. already getting pretty warm…and unfortunately when we got up there a lot of the (easier) routes were already taken. we kept walking and finally settled into the climbing area called “limbo”.

    this was our wall. we had two topropes setup….one on this side, which was a 5.7 and then one on the other side which was a “5.7”. the other side was just a very large crack and very few features. i thought it was a lot harder than a 5.7…or 5.10. took me forever to finish the climb on the other side. this one was great though.

    look at sally go :)

    johns life is in sallys hands right now….seriously.

    john at the top of the crack climb. he didnt get to go onto the other side but he did this one twice!

    so diego told us about this other climb that was on the face of the rock. one of the other climbers in our group was going to try it so i figured i would give it a try too! it was quite ambitious….this climb was a 5.11d and i’ve only ever done up to a 5.10a. so i set my goal at reaching the halfway point.

    fail. hiding my head in shame :( so close. took a break then tried it again.

    made it! (yay!!) i couldnt go any further because i couldnt figure out the next move and i wanted to give the other climber a go before we had to leave. still proud of myself for doing it…i didnt think i would make it.

    diego doing the climb that i couldnt.

    we definitely had a lot of fun climbing. i have bruises and scrapes to show for it.

    after we left, we drove to the counter in carlsbad to eat. john and i have never been there before, but sal has.

    i cant even remember what i had on my burger. it was huge!

    and last but not least. i got a pretty disgusting tanline from my sports bra. but it doesnt beat sals.

    hope it was worth it! :)

  • helentao 11:38 pm on October 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    san diego 

    so dj and i had taken a trip down to san diego because I had purchased a groupon to go snorkeling (actually, I had purchased the groupons…without me dj probably wouldnt do anything). since we were there, we decided to stop by and see jenn for a bit…its been a while since ive seen her.

    i cant remember the name of the place we went to for sandwiches…but it was yum! i think it was called com pane? as we were leaving, we saw across the street a sign that said “chocolates”. we were immediately drawn in. turns out the place makes truffles so we bought 6 pieces and shared.

    delicious looking no? lets see if i can remember what they are. starting from the top left corner going clockwise. rose champagne truffle, expresso truffle, whiskey truffle, sea salt truffle, green tea truffle, lavender truffle.

    we also got a frozen hot chocolate. it was yum.


    thanks jenn for taking us “around sd”. haha

  • helentao 10:42 pm on October 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    blah blah. 

    life has been hectic. but i’ll be back to blogging soon….

    loved this bouquet. many more pictures to come from this wedding and a bazillion others.

  • helentao 9:38 pm on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: flags, sal, usc   

    sal. this one’s for you. 

    goodbye tmai 107 copy


  • helentao 11:55 pm on August 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: friends   


    so this week, one of my good friends will be leaving for dental school in boston. sal posted some pics of the surprise going away dinner we had for her at my house. of course its not like im never going to see her again, but it’ll be sad knowing that shes far away for a few years (my birthday buddy :( ). i know these next couple of years are going to be very different for us…but life goes on. we’ll miss you tmai!

    im so lucky to have such great friends in my life. no matter what, i know that they are always here for me.

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    p.s. it is so hard to find a picture of the 8 of us!!

  • helentao 11:26 pm on August 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    channel islands: santa cruz 

    sal, jenn and i had decided we wanted to go on a photography trip. so we picked a weekend and planned. i invited my parents along since i was supposed to vacation with them but didnt have the time. so it ended up being my parents, my younger sister, two cousins, sal, jenn and me.

    destination? santa cruz island of channel islands national park. most of the sites were booked, so i ended up reserving the del norte backcountry campsite. not gonna lie, it was pretty tough carrying 25-30lbs on your back…especially since there were some pretty intense ascents and descents.

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    we hadn’t even left yet and sal’s already trying to kill jenn.

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    luckily this was before i fell asleep on the ferry (i get sooo seasick). look how cute they are!

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    then i woke up just in time to go out and get some shots as we came up to the island :)

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    finally there. landed at about 2pm

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    took this pic to show you what the first mile was like. 600 feet elevation gain…it was horrible. then we thought it would be easier the rest of the way…but instead we just went downhill…then uphill…then downhill…then uphill……….

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    so on the channel island hiking guide, it just said 600 feet elevation gain in the first mile. it didn’t mention anything special about the other 2.4 miles…so we thought it would be pretty easy. but we were wrong.

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    my parents were such troopers. they did every single hike that we did. and they brought a lot of food for us (we didn’t think we needed it, but we were so grateful later). my dads backpack mustve been like 35+ lbs!!

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    here we are at chinese harbor. the bottom is actually a cobblestone beach. we didnt actually make it down there because it was getting really late…and some experienced hikers told us that is was a very, very steep climb down. probably good that we didnt go down there because i dont think id be here typing this blog if we did. out of the 6 miles to chinese harbor, i think we did around 4…and we did it right after we set up camp!

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    fox. they were really little. i had to chase it just to get a picture.

    the next morning we started hiking again at 6:30am to make it back to the dock for our guided hike at 9:30.

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    dont we look like such happy campers?

    you know how in movies when people have a revelation or something and they play that music that just goes like “ahhh” (in an angelic voice?)

    well this is how i felt when we reached the dock.

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    (just follow the light!)

    okay actually the picture was a mistake. i was playing with my camera settings and accidentally did this.

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    this is what the dock really looks like.

    some detail shots:

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    a giant log by the dock.

    we waited for a while because our guide was late. luckily that gave us some time to take a lot of pictures.

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    this picture calms me. sal, this could be you someday…haha

    so before we found out that the guide was on his way, we were pretty ready to leave. but its a good thing we didnt. the pelican bay hike was probably my favorite. i was so exhausted but the views were absolutely amazing. the hike had to be with a guide because we were walking into the nature conservatory land.

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    we saw a santa cruz island scrub jay.

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    the guide showed us these lemonade berries. we got to try it…they were delicious! wish i got some to bring home.

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    the bay. look how blue the water is. i just wanted to jump in and swim back to the dock…totally over hiking.

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    starfish! one of the few things in the bay.

    overall, approximately 20 miles in 26 hours. pretty proud of us!

    hopefully we’ll get to go on another trip soon [but not too soon :)]

    • cece 2:32 pm on August 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Wow Lennie I didn’t know you had a blog. Nice pictures!

  • helentao 11:17 pm on July 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: jenga, jumbling towers   


    so for this week’s project, we were to shoot simple objects. this was easy because i shoot flowers all the time! took this picture while we were at my sister’s place. we played “jenga”. that’s in quotations because my sister decided she wanted to save money and got the generic version instead…which is called jumbling towers by the way. you could tell its a cheapie version because the blocks don’t fit right.

    anyways, heres the picture!

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  • helentao 7:31 pm on July 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , wedding   

    connie & thomas- 06.20.2010 

    so i’ll be posting pictures of my weddings on here periodically. i really love what i do, so i want to share it with you!

    connie and thomas got married on a lovely sunday evening at rancho las lomas in silverado canyon. i absolutely love the property…i believe its a 32 acre ranch/zoo and is gorgeous.

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    the view from the downstairs courtyard where connie and thomas had their ceremony and reception. if you go up through the building, there’s another courtyard with a fountain and indoor reception area.

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    connie walking down the aisle with her dad.

    Connie and Thomas 205-1

    yay for the happy couple!

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    thomas’s boutonniere.

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    one of the centerpieces. just a bunch of flowers in a box

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    manzanita centerpiece. manzanita is pretty popular nowadays.

    another wedding coming up soon!

  • helentao 11:06 pm on June 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

    jimmy & whiskey 

    since i have a bit of a break until my next wedding, i decided to take sunday “off” to go get massages and hang out with some friends. i met up with sal for dim sum and shopping. that means i got to meet jimmy for the first time!

    jimmy was great posing for pictures! sorry sal :)

    i love his sad eyes. so cute!

    after food and shopping, we went over to our friends wendy and ronys house to swim. got to see their place and whiskey for the first time! whiskey is such a cutie…cant wait until hes big enough to play with joey!

    meet whiskey!

    jimmy and whiskey are friends (most of the time). sal is an overprotective aunt. hahaha. who thinks her baby is SO innocent.

    hands down my favorite picture of the day. look at that smile!!!!!

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