Bucket List: Jane Austen Centre & Bath

12034382_767009650089213_4661089792366364661_oI have been a fan of Jane Austen for longer than I can recall. I remember watching “Clueless” and thinking this story is awfully familiar… so, somewhere around the mid-90s I was already quite aware of Ms. Austen.

I am such a fan that I even put on Jane Austen afternoons (proof). So, one of my bucket list items has been to visit the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. I wanted to drink tea and run around Bath and try to imagine Jane Austen herself roaming these streets.

Bath is a magical place. It’s timeless. The moment I got off the train I was transported into another time – the time of Austen and her novels. I fell in love with this city and the two days spent there were simply not enough! If you go to England, you must stop in Bath.

And now onto some photos!

Bucket List: Eagle and Child

12108074_768456746611170_8004241924936449109_nJ.R.R. Tolkien’s works changed my life. So, it’s no surprise to those who know me that I had to visit Tolkien’s old stomping grounds in Oxford and the pub he frequented with his Inklings crew, Eagle & Child.

So what did I do? Well, I took a C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien Walking Tour that brought us around Oxford giving us access to their colleges. I think as someone who has studied Tolkien for years much of what the tour guide said was nothing new, but the fact that I was able to walk where they once walked and see the colleges they attended and taught at made the tour worthwhile.

One of my bucket list items was to drink a pint of Guinness at Eagle & Child (check!). My friend and I were able to get in there and grab a seat in the back corner before the night rush. It is a strange sort of pub, very long, with many side rooms, which is perfect for small conversations.

Did the experience live up to what I expected? No, not really. I was hoping to eat there but the kitchen had just closed. Whilst getting the drinks, someone accidentally poured beer on me. And there was an urgency to see more of Oxford before the train that I couldn’t just sit there and take it in. I was able to journal a little bit though, and this is what I wrote:

It’s not so romantic as I expected, but it’s still special because Tolkien and Lewis were here once creating and discussing their works.

I will publish my novel someday. Just like Tolkien and Lewis, I will love God and my craft.

All in all, it is something I will always remember.

A Dream Came True


I had a dream come true this month. I think it’s a very rare thing to be able to say that without an air of sarcasm these days, but it’s true, and it happened. A dream came true.

Since I was a little girl I dreamed of going to England. All of my favorite authors had lived over in that part of the world, and I believed that if I could just stand where they stood that maybe their stories that I treasured so deeply would become even more real to me.

This dream moved like a snowball throughout my life growing larger and larger as I went to college and studied Literature and met my best friend who also had the same dream I did. And it continued to grow when I moved to Chicago and began saving money and planning with my best friend to actually make this dream a reality. It took two years of planning, severe budgeting, and prayer, but it happened — I left with my best friend to Great Britain and Ireland for three weeks and it was magical.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to tell all the tales and maybe it is best they are kept with me, but I figured I will eventually be able to share some of the adventures I had on this blog. But for now, please enjoy this photo of my friend and I at the Eagle & Child as a preview of an upcoming story:


Love in the time of Vancouver 

How’s that for a cheesy headline?

I went to Vancouver, BC, Canada this week for work and I was incredibly excited to finally see and experience this country as it’s been my neighboring country.

While the majority of my time was spent at Simon Fraser University learning and discussing Digital Humanities, Schoarly Communicstions, and Open Access (nerd alert indeed!), I was able to get outside and explore the beautiful west coast.

As I grew up in Southern California, I am no stranger to the west coast.  The landscape was breathtaking. I tried to walk the sea wall as much as I could, even early in the morning when nobody was around and the city was mine. I belong near an ocean. It’s home.

I also had some of the best fish of my life. I found Sushi Home and I became a regular this week. I even became friends with the owners and she was giving me free tea and letting me stay past their operating hours. I also brought a friend! I wish I could bring them back to Chicago.

Living in Chicago, I do not get fresh and cheap fish like this! So I had to take advantage of it by going there every day!

There was a strangeness to Canada too because it was similar to America but there were slight differences, so I kept forgetting I was in another country until they wanted CAD and I only had USD on me. (Thank you shop owner for buying me a stamp!)

If I get time and can’t fall asleep on my flight home, I may write up my thoughts on the conference, but until then. Cheers!

10 Things I Miss About Living in California


Three years ago today I left California and drove across country to my new home, Chicago. So much has happened in these three years and I am so utterly thankful for the journey I’ve experienced whilst living here.

So, as to celebrate this victory, I figured I would post a fun list!

10 Things I Miss About Living in California 

*This list does not include family and friends because, obviously, they would be the entire list!

In no particular order…

6811487454_121d9b1132_z1. The smell of orange blossoms. There is nothing quite like it. Driving down Victoria Ave. in the spring with the windows down and breathing in the sweet smell of orange blossoms is forever engraved in my memory.

2. Getting lost. This is two-fold: I had a car in California, so I miss that, and I loved hopping onto a freeway without GPS/phone and just going right or left. There’s so many different cities in California and so many neat, beautiful places to see and get lost in. Southern California is just one big expansive city, especially in the coastal regions, and each city has its own story to tell. I miss experiencing those stories on a whim.


3. In-N-Out. Yup. It may be cliche, but I don’t care. I miss their burgers and fries! That’s usually the first place I stop and eat at when I visit.

4. Diversity of landscapes. I loved that I could go to the mountains, desert, beach, or city all in one day. And that there was such a large variety of places to experience.

5. Produce!!!! I miss cheap produce that I could buy on the side of the road from farmers, including avocados and oranges. They were cheap and delicious. Baby come back!

7996900221_9443b2a926_z6. Disneyland. Being 45 minutes away from the Happiest Place on Earth was something I definitely took for granted. Also, the Southern California discount is a beautiful thing to have. I miss having an annual pass and going there to study. I know it’s strange, study at an amusement park? But it actually helped my procrastination. Finish this paper and then you can ride the teacups! 

7. Knowing what to expect. I knew every street, the cultures, and the colloquialisms of the area because I grew up into it. I don’t ever remember learning it because it just was. I wasn’t an outsider, but an insider.

2065992611_44ddf79c28_z8. Mountains. I miss mountains. Growing up in a valley, I never realized how much I adored them and how they were a constant in my life. I loved looking at them, driving up in them, and getting lost in them. Whenever the “city” life was too much, I could drive up there and sit in the woods and read. I miss the feeling of forced humility when I stood near them and how often they reminded me of my creator.

9. Large and concentrated faith community. Southern California had the Jesus Movement and so many megachurches blossomed out of that. I grew up in the Riverside area and there are three megachurches in that city alone. When I became a Christian I flourished because there were so many Christians and resources.

10. Living where everyone wants to be. I think that’s the strangest thing about living outside of California now. Everyone wants to visit or live there. The normal places I would hangout at were actually famous places. So many songs are written about California and all of this was just normal to me. But do I really miss that? I was always frustrated by the California arrogance of living in such a “paradise” but it seems I still carry that with me because I still think it’s one of the best states in the country. Although, I wouldn’t ever move back (unless God said, go!); however, I am thankful I grew up there and that family remains so I can still visit and enjoy the tacos!

The One About Prohibition

The One About Prohibition

For Christmas my mother gifted me tickets to The Chicago Prohibition Tour and it was beyond fantastic!

A 3 1/2 hour tour traveling to four different Speakeasies around the city, drinking delicious beverages, hanging out with my friend and meeting new friends along the way, and learning fun facts about the Prohibition era was one of the best Friday nights I’ve had in a long time.

History + cocktails = awesome

First stop was The Green Door Tavern. 

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This place was super legit as it still has the speakeasy in the basement hidden behind a cabinet door, and the space is still used to this day. I will definitely be returning to this joint.
The Green Door Tavern speakeasy space.

Second stop was Club Lucky.

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Club Lucky is not far from my neighborhood and it’s like stepping back into the 1930s when you walk into the door.
Club Lucky is known for their famous Mixologists and this drink with its Horchata deliciousness proved their title is well deserved.
Club Lucky is known for their famous Mixologists and this drink with its Horchata deliciousness proved their title is well deserved.

Third stop is Marge’s Still.

Marge's Still is one of the oldest bars in Chicago. The woodwork in this place is amazing.
Marge’s Still is one of the oldest bars in Chicago. The woodwork in this place is amazing.
Their Champagne Bomb was delicious and definitely a must taste!
Their Champagne Bomb was delicious and definitely a must-taste! Although, their Moscow Mules were also delicious. So, take your pick.

And last, but not least, Exchequer!

Exchequer was Al Capone's joint. Not only was this his speakeasy, it was also a brothel. Apparently their pizza is amazing.
Exchequer was Al Capone’s joint. Not only was this his speakeasy, it was also a brothel. Apparently their pizza is amazing.
After cocktails and martinis, I had to go for my tried and true drink, Guinness.
After cocktails and martinis, I had to go for my tried and true drink, Guinness.

After the tour, my friend and I hung around Millennium Park and enjoyed the city.

The One About Chicago

chicago 2

Chicago is a crossroads of faiths — religious tradition, religious innovation, and religious rebellion.

I sometimes wonder why God sent me to Chicago. Why was I this blessed? Why was I sent to a place as wonderful, scary, enlightening, and demanding as Chicago? A place filled with such religious history that it boggles my mind. I have studied and will continue to study, but I will never completely understand. Unlike God, I will never fully comprehend the breadth of His work in this land.

There’s also an arrogance with saying “I was sent.” I wasn’t sent to save but to serve. God does the saving. I am here to be humbled — to realize how small I really am and how big God truly is.