Vicarious Travel | London

Prince Albert Memorial

Back in May, Jordan travelled to London for work. He had a lot to do (meetings, photography etc.) so his trip ended up lasting a total of 10 days! I was so excited for this opportunity (slightly envious if I’m being honest, haha). Hopefully I can go next time. 😉

Jordan spent most of his time in and around the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London though he did get a chance to visit some of his favorite places around the city and even spent some time in the town Richmond. One thing Jordan did was photograph the 2015 Alpha Leadership Conference which took place in the world renowned Royal Albert Hall. Because of his press pass, he was able to explore almost every inch of this legendary venue. It was a treat for him to walk in the footsteps of some of the most legendary performers and leaders of all time.

I wanted to feature a few of his images on the blog because I think we could all use a little escapism in between our actual adventures. Here is to traveling vicariously!

Royal Albert Hall

Alpha Leadership Conference 2015

Alpha Leadership Conference 2015

South Kensington

South Kensington

^ Another view of the area that Jordan and I roamed a few years ago!

Kensington Palace

^Kensington Palace, the previous home of Princess Diana and the current home of William and Kate.

Notting Hill Gate

South Kensington

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

^Looking towards Westminster Abbey.

London

London

^Piccadilly Circus.

London

Richmond, England

Richmond, England

Richmond, England

^These three photos were taken in Richmond, England.

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London

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Photo Credit: Jordan Short

On Travel and Money

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^ Versailles, France 2013

Jordan and I both place a high value on travel and adventure: far away getaways, smaller weekend trips and various local excursions. Growing up, the trips my parents took us kids centered around visiting family; we always stayed state-side. The family trips were fun but my longing to visit places around the world has been strong from a very young age. Thankfully, I married a man who shares those desires! We want to see the world while being wise with our time and money.

During this early stage of our marriage, Jordan and I have chosen travel over what others might view as more normal steps for our age (i.e. purchasing a house), but we don’t regret our adventures one bit. We’ve seen lots of great things and hung out with some even better people. As an aside, we’ve been granted good health and seven years of marriage without children, which has given us more flexibility with our money. Travel requires a lot of planning and saving and we’ve learned a few things along the way.

Continue reading “On Travel and Money”

Cultivating Memories

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I’ve always been kind of a sentimental person. As a little girl, my mom gave me tupperware bins to store nicknacks, letters and pictures. My nieces are pretty fortunate that I didn’t go through a purging stage in high school because my room makes a fun play place whenever they visit my parent’s house. Jordan and I enjoy filling our home with select special pieces: passed down furniture from relatives, photos, trinkets and mementos from vacations. I recently found all of my old concert and movie tickets and I added them to our glass jar where we store our tickets. One of which is from our first movie we saw together in 2005.

I can walk through our house and remember the antique store in New Mexico where I bought a little hand statue that holds simple necklaces or the day walking around Chelsea in London before purchasing a letter press “£” or the pair of perfectly worn-in dining room chairs that came from my uncle’s old fraternity house.

I cherish these photos we’ve taken this past year, some of which make it on this space, because they tell stories and help maintain memories. This particular set will remind me of a crisp, not-quite-winter-but not-quite-spring day where we met new friends at Creative Mornings and a coffee shop, surprised my dad for lunch and watched Lake Michigan’s ice retreat and give way to spring.

Oh Chicago, thank you for providing a beautiful backdrop to our life.

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A Shoe Story

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I’ve mentioned before about how Jordan and I packed for our European vacation earlier this year. Restricting ourselves to one carry-on suitcase + backpack/shoulder bag a piece was made possible by having access to a washing machine at various stages of our trip. It probably comes as no surprise to all the ladies out there, but the hardest packing choice I had was what shoes to bring!

Looking back, my feet probably would have appreciated if I had walked around with my New Balance’s, but I was trying to avoid the American tourist look. I wanted to bring my nice J. Crew leather riding boots, but I’m glad I listened to Jordan when he mentioned how the spring rain might not be kind to the soft leather. My shoe selection ended up being one pair of flats, black wedges, brown boots, and my trusty Hunter Rain Boots. The first day we arrived in London it snowed and a few subsequent days it rained, so my Hunters got the most use.

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Shoes haven’t really been an obsession of mine. In the past, I tended to find one pair of shoes that I loved and then wore them to death, but that also meant my shoes were either all-purpose or no real purpose (So many bridesmaid shoes!). Walking around London and Paris I noticed that all the women (and most men) have really nice shoes: practical but sexy. I was inspired to branch out with my footwear and make sure any new purchases would be versatile and functional, but also fashionable.

I decided to start assessing my shoe needs with my sandal collection. This summer I threw out all of my five dollar cheap sandals and replaced them with one, yes one pair of Salt Water Sandals. I wore them constantly, both at the beach and walking around town. I thought I would miss having a lot of options, but it was the opposite.

These wedge sneakers are from Superdry, which I bought on Regent’s Street in London. I fell in love with them during our trip and my shoe obsession got started off on the right foot.

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Tinker Bell and Me

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“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
– J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan 

Growing up a baby of the ’80s, Disney movies were the only movies in our house for my brothers and I to watch. The second golden age of Disney animation was beginning and we had a VHS player! What more did we need? “Which is your favorite Disney film?” was a common question to ask your friends. Like any girl would, I enjoyed a good princess movie, but Peter Pan has always been my favorite.

I absolutely loved Tinker Bell. She was feisty and small, independent and yet she still needed Peter. As the youngest of two brothers, I often felt like Tink: desperately needing to be heard, striving for my own identity, but clinging to the comfort of older siblings. Other people must have seen the similarities as well, because Tinker Bell was one of my nicknames. I even dressed like her for two Halloweens in a row!

Life has been interesting lately. I try to live a balanced life and one that is full of perspective, but sometimes wallowing feels good. Impatient Tinker Bell had a tendency to wallow and pout if things didn’t go her way… though it usually just got her in trouble. And really, it gets me in trouble too.

A year can feel very overwhelming without structure. There are days when I miss the structure that being in school gave me. For years, I would go into a counselors office and walk out with a set plan and over the course of the semester I executed that plan. Now, I have no one to tell me which course to take. There are just endless possibilities. Jordan and I are working through the possibilities and I’m trying to not wallow when something doesn’t pan out like I had hoped. It’s kinda exciting, but I wish I could sprinkle some of Tinker Bell’s pixie dust to make everything just right. Though, really, I just need to pray and surrender. I believe God always has a bigger and better plan.

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^These photos were taken in and around Kensington Garden and Regent’s Street. The Peter Pan statue is in Kensington Garden.

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On History, Royalty, and a Tiny Regret

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I often jokingly say that my history books growing up seemed to focus solely on the pilgrims, so much so that I feel like certain historical events aren’t familiar to me. It used to be my little joke, but now Jordan laughs along with me. I’m always trying to fill in those perceived gaps through documentariespodcasts and books.

One area of history that fascinates me, starting when I was an early teen, is the Tudor Dynasty. King Henry VIII and the scandals that surrounded his six wives seem unreal. Despite his attempts at producing a healthy son, Henry’s greatest legacy was a daughter! Queen Elizabeth I ascended the throne after the tumultuous reign of her sister, Mary. She was able to support and provide stability to her people during her 44 year reign and was loved and revered in return.

Fast forward to earlier in the year when Jordan and I were deciding on places to visit in Europe. The Tower of London was high on my priority list. For a time, Queen Elizabeth I was actually held prisoner there, the same place where her mother was beheaded. The Tower (and the other buildings inside the walls) is nestled across the River Thames from many contemporary government offices. One might imagine that it is secluded but in actuality, it’s right in the middle of a very modern environment.

I’m not one to regret past decisions, but I kind of regret that we didn’t pay for a Tower of London tour. Returning to London from Paris, I forgot my initial desire to see the inside of the Tower. The 40 US dollars per person ticket price seemed like a lot considering the Tate Modern museum was free and it was still on our to-do list that day. Looking back and after hearing of other people’s experiences, going inside the Tower would have been worth it. It’s a guided tour, not simply a price for admission. Thankfully, we were able to walk the grounds outside the wall and read a few interesting facts along the perimeter. Hopefully, this won’t be our last time in London because I would love to go back to the Tower!

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Exploring Oxford

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Jordan and I planned our trip to Europe off-and-on for almost a year.  The early stages mostly consisted of discussing which countries/cities we wanted to visit. When traveling Europe there are several reasons why visiting more than one country makes sense. Since the countries are close together, the cost to travel between them is minimal compared to the initial plane tickets to arrive (in fact, our Eurostar tickets were less than an average ticket to another US state). We wanted to make good use of our time and experience Europe from different perspectives. London was an automatic yes for both of us, but we weren’t sure about where else to go.

Jordan suggested Scotland as he had great memories from a pervious trip. We eventually decided on Paris, France, a city and country neither of us had visited, which just so happened to be my idea :-). During the pre-planning, a close friend got married and moved to England with her husband, who is a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit them and experience a smaller town since our other two stops were larger cities. After our first stint in London, we left for Oxford.

Not only did we have a great time visiting with Zac and Sally, we were also able to recharge for a few days. Jordan had the opportunity to catch up on some work and I took full advantage of their laundry room (the only way we were able to take carry-ons). Oxford is my kind of town; quaint, charm for days (medieval charm!), plenty of modern conveniences, but a slightly slower pace compared to London.

Our friend’s apartment was perfectly situated. We had no trouble wandering and exploring the city center by ourselves. London is roughly 70 miles away, but since Oxford is a university town all major necessities wouldn’t require travel (and so many cafes, I was in coffee/croissant heaven). Traveling from London was extremely easy and inexpensive. We used the UK version of Megabus.

After experiencing some dreary, rainy days in London it was nice to see the sun! It wasn’t quite warm enough to shed all our layers, but oh so nice to feel the sun shine on our faces.

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A Gentlewoman and Her Stuff

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While traveling in Europe, Jordan and I had four layovers, stayed in three cities and took a variety of buses and trains. All the maneuvering between cities not only required good time management but also necessary reading materials. My goal was to pack light (1 carry-on suitcase, 1 tote bag & a small purse) so I brought one book and two magazines (which I had intended on leaving in Europe). I saved my book for the later leg of our journey, but the magazines were devoured quickly.

After the first week of London and Oxford, I realized I would need something additional to pass the travel time. Jordan was the first one to spot The Gentlewoman at the Gare Du Nord train station in Paris. I initially passed, I wanted to spend pounds instead of euros, plus it couldn’t be difficult to find the magazine upon our return to London, right? Well, I was wrong and the search for it proved more difficult than we imagined! It was like searching for buried treasure as we traversed the entire city. Every news stand and bookstore we visited either didn’t carry it or had just sold out. Eventually we found The Gentlewoman in the Spitafields neighborhood of London. It’s been a few weeks now since I got the magazine and I’m still going through it. The articles, images and design come together to create a truly beautiful end product.

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Another aha! moment while traveling, besides bringing insufficient reading materials, is that a backpack would be more practical than an over the shoulder tote for carrying around the necessary odds and ends. This realization happened around day three of our trip, but alas I had to deal with what I brought for the duration. Once we got home, I made a mental note to look for a cute backpack for the future.

While looking for shoes at Madewell on Rush Street in Chicago, I noticed an entire wall of backpacks. I walked out of the store with a polka dot Herschel Supply Co. bag.  Herschel Supply Co. originally was a barrel making company in the early 1900s, but have since moved on to various items that help carry our belongings.

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Westminster

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Living near a city like Chicago, I have experienced large scale buildings. Chicago is known for its skyline filled with an abundance of architecturally impressive skyscrapers. In London, Jordan and I spent a day in Westminster exploring all that it offered. Walking a long the River Thames towards Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey was a must. I was completely blown away. These structures aren’t nearly the size of a Chicago skyscraper, but the intricate detail built into each inch leaves a lasting impression. When I think of all the secrets that the Abbey’s watchful gargoyles must hold, I get kinda excited.

After walking for a few hours we were ready for a good meal. We happened to discover a pub that was from the late 1700s. Jordan convinced me to try fish & chips for the first time and I wasn’t disappointed!

The day we took these pictures was quite cold and windy! Thankfully, I remembered to wear my grandmother’s pink leather gloves. My dad’s mother was quite fashionable and loved accessories. I thought it fitting to use them on this trip to London considering she liked to call me her little Welsh girl.

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Pretty in Pink

Pink House in Kensington London

Jordan was in charge of the camera when we traveled through London and Paris last month. His backpack carried the camera carefully from town to town. This made it natural for him to take most of the pictures. He has an eye for what is important to capture. As soon as I saw these colorful houses (especially the pink one), I immediately requested he snap a picture.

We stumbled upon this street after traveling through Kensington Gardens. These houses are located in Brompton, which is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. If there was a way for me to have that pink home and add a porch swing, perfection would be made.

Pink House in Kensington London