Travel Adventures

Places I Love | The Oxford Exchange – Tampa, Florida

Whenever I travel, I try and squeeze in a visit to a recommended and local book shop or tea shop. It’s so fun to see what cities offer. Thanks to Twitter and Amelia Rhodes, I checked out Oxford Exchange.

Well, Internet, I have absolutely fallen in love with this place. Oh my word…I need one in Colorado! I didn’t get a chance to try the food (although it looked so tasty), but everything about the place is perfection. Teas (all the teas!!), coffee, pastries, a cafe, books to buy, this place has it all. It’s the place you can visit with friends, for business meetings or a place to work on anything you need. I’m obsessed. So if anyone wants to invest some cash, I can point you to the perfect area in Colorado Springs.

I bought Summer Melon, TeBella Breakfast Blend (can’t not get my English Breakfast), Georgia Peach (I tried this one there and delicious – not too sweet!) and Tropical Breeze.

So yes, if you find yourself in Tampa, don’t pass this place up! Find out more:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I need this.

They have the best cards ever.
These teas called to me.
Any guesses which portraits I’d include?

I didn’t the full course, but they have afternoon tea people. AFTERNOON TEA.

Travel Adventures

Adventures in Mexico and Cali | Spring 2016

These past couple of months, I had the chance to do some traveling and if y’all have been around here for just a bit, you’ll know I pretty much live for the days of getting on a plane and going somewhere adventurous. I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do, but I did snag a few, so today is dedicated to adventure!

My first was a trip with my company, on the President’s Club, and this year was a cruise to Yucatán and Cozumel. It was also my first cruise and wasn’t a bad experience. When we got to the beaches though, I wish I could have stayed! Put me on a beautiful beach and I’m done for days!

The first stop, my friend and I decided to do the excursion to Chichen Itza. It was so worth the drive and heat.

This is the main event of these ruins, El Castillo. You can no longer climb the stairs, but it’s still really impressive.
Since I have the best memory, I forgot a few of the details about this water hole, but I do remember them saying the Mayans did some human sacrifices here. They were big on that, as we also saw the stones where they practiced this at as well.
Eagles and Jaguars were everywhere in the stones. They played a big role in their sacrifices and beliefs. (Warning, maybe don’t continue with this caption if you aren’t a fan of kinda gross facts: they would sacrifice someone and then leave the heart in a specific spot for Jaguars to come and eat. #NoThanks)
I call this “Sweaty Hot Mess in Front of Pyramid.” Bring lots and lots of water if you go. Unless you like your fingers tripling in size, then no need.
Because this was a pretty mural and helpful map!
This might sound dorky, but I love getting to eat the snacks in different countries. If we have the same snack in America, I like seeing how they might taste different. Of course I love trying new snacks too. Plus the packaging not being in English makes me smile.
Why couldn’t I stay forever? Whyyyyyyy???
This picture is terribly crafted ; ), but here’s a view when we were leaving Cozumel. Zero filters added… just look at that water!!
The sunsets at sea were pretty amazing as well – this was the view from my balcony.

Next stop was California to visit the family because it was time to meet my nephew!!! It worked out perfect because it was Mother’s Day Weekend and my brother’s birthday and I love being there for fun celebrations.

Here’s our first photo together. Clearly his expression says “I love you Auntie!”

For my Mama!

Just because, here’s my sister and I. We did a face swap on Snapchat and were cracking up because there wasn’t much difference.
Snapchat antics with B.
Dancing with Gabs

Have I mentioned how much I love being Auntie to these three?

We’ll be back to our regular bookish programing tomorrow, but I couldn’t resist sharing pictures :). Any fun travels for y’all coming up?

Oh and I almost forgot this guy. Is anyone on Snapchat? I kinda love it. People are funny and I love seeing what people Snap. Plus the filters are awesome and hilarious. If you’re on it, I’m jamielynne1982. I had to have my cousin show me the ropes, but once I got the hang of it, I’m hooked! This is a collection of my flight shenanigans snaps when I was trying to get to Cali….delayed flights can be fun ;).

Family Life, Travel Adventures

A Japanese Legacy

One of the favorite parts of my trip to Japan this past summer, was when we went to hang out with Mariko’s grandparents.

We hopped on the train and headed over to their house (which they’ve lived in forever) and spent such a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. Do I speak Japanese? Nope. (Unless you count “I eat rice in my house,” then yes, I’m fluent). Do Mariko’s wonderful Grandparents speak English? Nope. But were we able to have an amazing time? Why, yes we were! With Mariko translating, it worked out perfect.

There was one time during lunch when the chopsticks weren’t being my friend, so I attempted to be stealth and just grab the cucumber with my fingers. I figured that was better than trying to stab it with the chopstick. Totally thought no one was paying attention to me, but nope…totally busted. How’s that for immersing myself in the Japanese culture? But they simply laughed.

But more than that, I’m so thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, be encouraged by them and simply get to know more of their story. A legacy is the only thing you’ll leave behind and I promise you, the one they have started has already made an incredible impact on the world!

My hope and prayer is that this glimpse into the lives of Shizuko and Saichi Ohashi inspires and encourages you as much as it did me.

As a teenager during World War II, Shizuko still can recall the constant bombings on her city and watching the B-29 Superfortresses fly over their city. It’s hard for me to even imagine what that would have been like. To have a never ending fear of a bomb falling from the sky. To not know when it would end. What if my country, instead of unleashing the power of the A-bomb, was victim to it? How would my heart have handled losing such a war? I believe she said it best: That while losing was a blow to Japan, simple put, war is never a good thing.

Yet, even while having lived through that history, joy abounds from each of them.

But our time there wasn’t all sadness and dark times from decades past. Most of the time we spent chatting about family, our adventures and faith. Both came from Buddhist backgrounds, but after their two daughters became Christians, they started going when they were in their fifties. At first they started going because Christianity wasn’t about money (as their experience with Buddhism had been). That led to discussions with several pastors and finally one led them both to Jesus.

Two quotes that stuck with me? “Believing in Jesus and being a Christian is joy” and “We have Jesus to protect us.” Said with such conviction and decades of life experiences behind them, it was such a great reminder of Truth.

What a joy and privilege it is for me to be able to share some of their wisdom, story and to spend time with them, even if only for one summer afternoon.

To end, I’ll close with a very special 4 Questions with Shizuko (some the same, some a bit different!)

1. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was growing up, I didn’t have the option or choice to get an education. If I could go back, I would like to study all kinds of topics. I especially want to learn to speak English so I can communicate my grandchildren, great grandchildren and more American friends.

2. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
As you know it is very important to have a son to carry on the family name in Japan. We didn’t have boys, but God blessed us with wonderful and God-loving son-in-laws.

3. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want the next generation to know this most important thing: If they could, meet Jesus when they are young and memorize as much of God’s Word as you can.

And you know me, being the romantic that I am, tossed in a couple of extras for the interview!

4. How did you and your husband meet?
I was sewing clothes for family and friends with my free time back then. There was a country rail road employee apartment near our house and Saichi asked the apartment manager if he knew a good seamstress to sew his clothes. She recommended me to him, so he started to come over and that’s how we met!

5. What’s your advice for a lasting marriage?
Trust each other. Don’t talk back to each other, but share your opinions. Care for each other, especially when it comes to healthy living.

(Interviewed with the help of Kumiko Barnes)

We’re best friends now.

Thanks so much for reading! I never get tired of hearing people’s stories! So who has inspired you? What about your grandparents?

Travel Adventures

A Little Piece of Kyoto, Japan

What a city, what a country! The history and tales of Japan are both fascinating and intriguing. Whenever I’m outside of America, learning of another culture, I’m blown away by how old things are. Like our country wasn’t even a twinkle of a twinkle of a twinkle in England’s eye compared to Japan’s history. But before y’all turn away because of my history nerdiness, here’s some pics and tales of Kyoto adventures.

First thing you must know about Japan is they ain’t playin’ when it comes to heat or humidity. Yes, I live in the great state of Texas…but I don’t stand outside all day in the summer heat, so walking around a city, climbing hills and catching buses = the three of us looking like we ran a marathon. I didn’t know I could sweat so much folks. But I promise I’m not complaining, this trip is amazing!

These are from the Arashiyama area of Kyoto, home to the bamboo forest and other pretty sights.

A lot of students came up to us and asked us a few questions to help them learn English. It was fun. 😉

The Golden Pavilion – what a sight! It’s surreal I got to see this in person, it really is stunning. The Kinkakuji Temple is gold plated and looks so beautiful against the green backdrop.

Before heading back we stopped by the Imperial Palace, but it was closed. Lesson learned: If you want to visit, sign up beforehand.

So instead of seeing the Imperial Palace it started pouring rain. Y’all we could not stop laughing.

This is when we decided to make a run for it after the rain stopped.

Internet, I’m not sure how much longer Japan can handle this crew!

So speaking of travels, where’s a place you’ve been and love??

Travel Adventures

Jet Lag and Hilarity in Japan

Since jet lag is still hanging out and we’re up before things open, what better thing to do then blog? So here’s a few iPhone pics of the adventures so far! We’re in Kyoto for the next few days and I know it’ll be amazing. The history of this place is incredible (Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years) and I can’t wait to explore!

My first Japanese sunset on the way to Nagoya from Tokyo.


Erin and I arrived after (for me) about 26 hours of travel. It was so nice to have the three flights finished!


Kicking it off immersing ourselves in the culture 😉


The Bullet Trains and insane! When one flew by as we were waiting for ours, it came by so fast and loud, it scared the McDonald’s out of me.


Our hotel was only 10 minutes from the station, but it may have taken us an hour and a half to find though. What! What!


This is the prefect picture of how we felt while sweating our faces off searching for our place 😉I almost passed out when I saw they had a Cafe du Monde in Kyoto!!


The photo booths in Japan are hil.a.r.ious. They made our eyes huge! We could not stop laughing!

Alright internet, thanks for sharing in the hilarious journey so far!