Wonder Woman – Wizard World 2017

Last weekend, I attended my first Wizard World Comic Con here in Chicago. I went dressed as Wonder Woman, and I had a great time. Everyone was very nice and no one was too critical.

I got to see lots of other fellow cosplayers dressed up as many different characters, ranging from cartoon/anime to TV show and movie characters. I even saw an adult man dressed as Eleven from Stranger Things. My favorite, by far, were the storm troopers and anything Star Wars related. It made me miss my Han Solo costume.

But I had a great time actually dressed like a female hero for once. Who should I be next?

 

Festa Italiana

On Sunday I attended this Italian Fest in Milwaukee with Paschen. It was my 2nd festival I’ve ever attended in Milwaukee, Bastille Days back in 2009 being the other one. As per usual, I didn’t do much research so I was surprised when we got there that we had to pay for parking and to get into the fest. Were we in Chicago or Milwaukee? I thought Wisconsin was like the country where everything is mostly free or cheap. $10 to park and $13 to get in, then I had to pay even more to attempt to satisfy my raging hunger (which is normal).

 

Despite the cost to get in, I felt I was transported to Italy itself. Nevermind the highway right next to us, or the strange Wisconsonites, we felt like we were in Roma. The pizza was sub-par and the Bosco sticks K.O.’d us. But never fear, we found room for gelato and espresso. We also got to ride the ski lift but unfortunately it was too hot to ski. Wait why is there a ski lift and no mountain? Anyways. Overall, had a good time but pretty sure anything I do with Paschen would be fun, other than maybe watching paint dry. That’s never fun. 🙂

Aladdin the musical

For my birthday, I saw Aladdin at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago with Nathen.  I had heard it was amazing, but had a feeling it may be a little corny (you know, Disney corny). I also wasn’t sure how they would portray Abu the monkey and Iago the parrot, which could definitely be distracting if done wrong. But it surpassed my expectations!

 

 

First of all, instead of Abu the monkey, they gave Aladdin three human friends with three different personalities. This made a lot more sense than a talking monkey. And Iago was also a person, basically Jafar’s sidekick. Iago was funny, and so were Aladdin’s friends. They still kept the overall personalities and didn’t soil them. Good move, Disney.

Beyond that, the Genie song “Friend Like Me” was hands-down the best part of the entire musical. You can tell they put a lot into that song production, and it was amazing to watch. Also, the magic carpet ride “A Whole New World” was really well done. The visuals were entrancing. I would highly recommend this musical to everyone, young and old included.

Have you seen Aladdin? Or any other musical recently? Comment below your favorite musical! What should I see next?

Party in the Park

This past weekend my church threw an amazing party in the park. This is an annual summer party they throw that just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. It was great to be a part of this event and to be able to hang out with my church community outside of church.

To give you some perspective, Free Church was started in 2012. In five years, it has grown from only a few to about 300 churchgoers. There were well over 100 people at this party yesterday. The growth is amazing to see, and we got our very own building this year (the Hemingway Museum). 🙂

I’ve only been going to Free Church since November of 2016, but I feel myself growing as well. While it’s great to see more and more people at church, it’s even better to feel my faith growing as I learn and dig deeper into this community I call home. I feel safe and cared for in my church community. And I feel strong. There’s about 46 of us training for the Chicago Marathon this year. We’re all running it for Team World Vision which brings clean water to those who need it the most in Africa.

This week is week 6 of training and I already feel myself changing. This past Saturday was the second time I ran with my church group, and it was amazing. We ran 10 miles and we crushed it! Not only do I notice my chub decreasing, I also feel my legs getting stronger. But beyond that, I feel healthier all around. Not just physically, but also mentally. My mind feels more clear and focused. I feel like I can achieve my goals that I have for myself.

If you have the means, please consider helping me bring clean water to the women and children in Africa. This small act will allow them time to do other things, like go to school and study. Thank you!

https://www.teamworldvision.org/participant/jenb

Eyes to the skies

This past weekend I went to the Eyes to the skies festival in Lisle, IL. It’s an annual hot air balloon festival that I’ve always heard about but had never attended before. I had fun but was unfortunately a bit disappointed and technically it’s my fault.

I was under the impression that the balloon glow included the balloons being released into the sky. This isn’t the case, the balloons are actually released at 6:30pm and the glow is later on at 8:15pm. I thought it was all at the later time, so didn’t arrive until closer to 8pm. While the balloon glow was cool, it was hard to see since the balloons were still on the ground. And the field where the view was clear was very crowded as everyone was making a mad dash to get into it. We decided to sit on the nearby basketball court thinking the balloons would go up. My bad. 🙂

The only other thing that sucked was parking. The parking lot was a few miles away from the festival and they had school buses shuttling people back and forth. At the end of the night, the line for the buses was about two to three blocks long. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Overall, a fun time and now that I know the actual timing may consider going back some other year. But I’d take a motorcycle next time to avoid the parking hassle. 😉

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July! What are your plans? Fireworks? BBQ? Comment below your favorite part of the holiday.

Full of Pride

This past weekend was Pride Chicago 2017. This was the first local Pride parade I’ve experienced despite wanting to attend for many years beforehand. It was one of the most fun events I’ve ever experienced. The floats were amazing, everyone was colorful and happy, and I felt surrounded by some of the nicest people in Chicago.

Even Big Boo was there!

I went with some of my friends and their awesome friends. I made new friends this weekend and felt welcome by everyone. Love this celebration and I look forward to attending more pride parades in the future.

Love wins. Love conquers all.

Community = love

I’ve been in Oak Park for just about 3 months now and I can’t even begin to describe how much I love it here. I came for the church that I fell in love with (Free Church) and I’ve discovered so much more in Oak Park inside and outside of church. The community in Oak Park is amazing and has made me feel like I’m exactly where I belong.

There are many fun and free events in and around Oak Park. Every Thursday is Thursday Night Out where families go to listen to music and enjoy local food and drink. They close down about two blocks of Marion street and set up tables and chairs. It runs from 5pm to 9pm every Thursday night and has caused me to start taking rest days on Thursdays (but wait, no gainz!).

 

Also, about once a month, there’s a movie in the park. This past week was Star Wars: Rogue One which I went and saw a portion of with my friend Nathen Mixon. That was an enjoyable evening at Scoville Park. 🙂

In addition to these staples, there are also many other summer festivals happening over the next few months in Oak Park. So far, I have yet to be disappointed in anything happening in my town. Some notable upcoming events are listed below:

July 9 Church party in the Park (Free Church) (Lindbergh Park: link coming soon)

July 20 Field of Dreams movie in the park

August 19 Microbrew review

There are also free concerts. Looks like I have a busy summer ahead of me. I’m blossoming in Oak Park. What types of events does your town offer? Have you been to Oak Park and any of these awesome community events before?

Vegan Fest

I experienced my very first Vegan Fest yesterday in Chicago and had lots of fun. While I’m not an official vegan, I spent about two years being a vegan about 5 years ago. And while I eat certain types of meat, I generally try to avoid dairy and red meat for the most part. But when I was invited to the 2nd Annual Vegan Fest a few weeks ago, it was a no-brainer to go!

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The fest officially started at 11am, but we didn’t arrive until around 1pm. It was a beautiful, sunny Chicago day and the fest was very crowded. There were quite a few food vendors, but long lines everywhere. Among the longest wait was Doomie’s, a place known for their Vegan “Big Mac.” Determined to get one of these epic burgers, I waited in line for well over an hour, and ordered two single burgers since they ran out of doubles.

I set out with a goal and triumphed. I even got to share some of this food with my good friend Paschen. She won even more, she got several bites without the hassle of waiting forever for them. And yes, they were amazing.  Worth the wait? Maybe not, it was really hot out there! And to be honest, while I enjoyed my time at the Vegan Fest, I likely wouldn’t go back just because of those lines. There was a line to get a drink ticket then another line to get a drink, like water. And it was too hot to wait for water.  It’d be nice if they figured out a better system, especially since they were charging $20 to enter the thing.

Overall, I had fun, ate vegan big mac, and saw a bunch of vegans being vegan. Do you like vegan food? What’s your favorite food? What’s your favorite summer festival?

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Original crush circa 1995

Last weekend, I saw DREAMCAR at the Vic Theater in Chicago. This is a new band consisting of Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont, Adrian Young, and Davey Havok. So basically No Doubt, minus Gwen Stefani and plus lead singer from AFI. The cool part is that they have a completely different sound from No Doubt or AFI (check out some of their songs HERE). The concert was amazing and I had an amazing time, but it rekindled my old crush that I’ve had on Tony Kanal since 1995 when Tragic Kingdom debuted.

While it was instant love at first sight, my love for Tony has only grown over the past 22 years. He has truly grown into an amazing man and now is a father and husband (unfortunately for me haha!). He is also vegan which just makes me love him even more.

I’ve seen Tony Kanal perform with No Doubt three times, and now with Dreamcar once. While I greatly enjoyed the Dreamcar concert, I did notice that there was something missing that I greatly enjoyed while seeing No Doubt. The energy of Gwen and Tony is something that can’t quite be replicated. While Davey is amazing, he brings a different energy to the group. Different but not bad. At the end of the day, No Doubt is and always will be my favorite band so I will be biased when I say they are better, but Dreamcar has a special spot in my heart.

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I got my fair portion of Tony this past weekend. Yum. He stared right at me and we had an entire conversation with our eyes. The best part, though? Tony liked my post on Instagram! That made my weekend. We’re pretty much friends now. 🙂

Enjoy the photos! What’s your favorite band? What type of music do you like?