Blimey, It’s Those Hackmans

8 Oct

Let’s start with London because that’s where our trip began. We spent about eight days traversing across the city and even some areas a little further out. Their 60ish degree weather was freezing compared to 100 degree heat we had just left in Los Angeles, but my excitement (and big ol’ rain jacket) kept me warm enough to keep going. ;) I feel like we hit the ground running as soon as we landed and didn’t stop. Here’s the highlight reel:

1. Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter was everything I hoped for and more. Being a giant Harry Potter nerd, this was at the top of my to-do list. I am so happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed. We spent six hours listening to every bit of our audio tours, watching every interview, reading every sign, and taking in each detail of the sets, costumes, and props on display. I loved learning new things that even surprised a super nerd like me. We got to walk through the Great Hall (hey tour guides, there is no ceiling!), board the Hogwarts Express, peek inside the Ministry of Magic, and doorbell ditch the Dursley’s on Privet Drive. Hermione’s Yule Ball dress was just as gorgeous in person. The details of each wand, small prop (Time Turner, Sorcerer’s Stone, Snitch), and paper product (Daily Prophet, school book, letters, Quibblers, and Marauder’s Map) was exquisite. They also had a really neat display on special effects – like Lupin’s trunk that actually opens up the drawers and shoot out books, shoes, etc. through mechanics – verses visual effects – like the CGI background during a Quidditch match. The tour also included a look at the giant miniature (I know) of Hogwarts. It was spectacular. The tour concludes in what look like Ollivander’s Wand Shop where they have wand box with the name of every single person involved in the eight films. What a legacy! I left feeling ridiculously happy and (if it’s possible) an even bigger fan.

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2. Westminster was one of my favorite places to go while we were in London. This is also where I had my first “Oh my. I’m in London!” moments. We got off the tube and I was looking down, putting my train ticket back in my bag as we walked up the stairs. We had reached the top by the time I looked up and I found myself staring at Saint Steven’s Tower and Big Ben. I can’t even describe what it felt like to finally see it in person. In Westminster we wandered beautiful gardens and watched part of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – very cool. But my favorite part was Westminster Abbey. There is a place within the Abbey called the Cellarium where they serve a lovely afternoon tea. We really wanted to do a traditional English tea, and our friend Amanda recommended this spot so we knew we had to go. It was delightful! I am not much of a tea girl myself, but I drank an entire pot of peppermint tea while we ate tiny sandwiches, delicious bite-sized desserts, and yummy scones with jam and butter. It wasn’t just the food – it was the whole experience. I’m so glad we did it. We also loved exploring the Abbey itself. There is something so powerful about stepping into a building with a history that dates back more than 1,000 years. I could barely wrap my mind around it. The coronation chair is also on display – it is one of the oldest things in all of England. The building itself is stunning, and I really enjoyed learning about England’s Monarchy through our audio tour (these were everywhere – it was awesome). Many of the Monarchs are buried or memorialized there. It was also neat that they honor other important English figures like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, and Charles Dickens. I am so fascinated by their history and the way they have preserved it for so long.

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3. Tour Guides! Some of our best experiences were on guided tours at Windsor Castle, The Tower of London, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Each guide we had was full of history, interesting information, and wit. Each location held fascinating stories waiting to be told. I’m so glad we got to listen to them. So thank you to Adam (Windsor), David (Tower of London), and Fi (The Globe) for bringing those stories to life and making our trip feel so special.


4. Being in the presence of Stonehenge is one of the most amazing things I’ve experienced in my 26 years. Seeing something with my eyes that was seen by people 4,500 years ago was mind-blowing. I just couldn’t get my brain around it. The stones were a beautiful sight, and I was fascinated by the audio guide details – both fact and speculation by historians. I liked the idea that it was built for God or ancestors… At that time wood structures were built for the living. Stone was reserved for something more important. It was also such a gorgeous day which made it even more perfect. On top if that, the food there was delicious. It was an excellent thing to experience on our last full day in England.

 5. On our final evening we did a final sprint around the city to see a few things we hadn’t made it to yet. We wandered through Hyde Park to find the Peter Pan statue, made our way to Trafalgar Square (which we had somehow missed earlier in the week) to take a picture with the lions, searched for Sherlock Holmes at 221b Baker Street, and strolled down Portobello Road because when you love Disney as much we do you have to. We had a blast running around London and squeezing every last drop out of our experience.  

So, there you have it! Some of my favorite moments from one of my newfound favorite places. Thinking through all of them and reading bits of my travel journal just made me so happy. I am so thankful for this experience, and I can’t wait to see more of this beautiful world! Check back soon for my (again, much belated) post on Paris!

Oh Those Hackmans In Europe

30 Sep

Guys. I went to Europe! Dan and I had a completely wonderful time exploring and eating our way through both London and Paris. I have so many memories from this trip that I already know will be treasured for years to come. 

Since we got back people have been asking about our favorite parts of the trip. That is a tough question because truthfully the answer is all of it. I’ve been wanting to share a post about our adventures abroad, but I’ve had a hard time writing since we got back. It’s like if I write down “final thoughts” that means the vacation is over. I’m not crazy. I know we’ve been back for two weeks already, but I’m sad it’s over! The time has come to move on. My goal is to release a post about London and a post about Paris within the next week. I can’t wait to share a few really special moments and photos with all of you! Stay tuned, mes Amis!


Speaks To Me Sunday #24

30 Aug


When I was little I loved going to the airport. There was so much going on! And it always meant that I was picking up someone I hadn’t seen for a long time (any time apart is a long time when you’re a kid) or I was going on an adventure. 

For as long as I can remember I have loved to travel. There is something so thrilling about being in a new place, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. It’s no wonder I chose to travel during my summers as a teenager and took a year off before college to do the same. Many favorite memories are from trips, vacations, and travel of some kind. 

I will forever be in love with places I haven’t seen and people I haven’t met. I have this deep desire to see it all. Well, over the next couple weeks one of my travel dreams will be coming true. I’m off on an adventure to London and Paris! I am tearing up just thinking about it. I have loved these cities from afar for so long. It’s about time I get to go experience them in person! I couldn’t be more excited. 

That said, this might be my last post until mid-September! I can’t wait to tell you all about Europe when I get home. 

What cities are you in love with – the ones you’ve been to and the ones you’ve only dreamed of? Where are you adventuring to next?! 

Give me a shout! Comment or join in on Twitter or Instagram. Find me so you can follow along when I post from London or Paris – @JoannaHackman


Favorite Five Friday (126th Edition)

28 Aug

Welcome back! It’s that time again…


1.  Dan is the best gift giver. He often surprises me with sweet little presents for no reason at all. Lately he’s brought home a few new editions to our growing “nerd collection.” Super appropriate as we get closer and closer to our trip to London and visiting Warner Brothers for their Harry Potter tour!

 2.  I’ve never spent a lot of time exploring downtown Los Angeles, but I have friends who are very familiar. This week I got to explore DTLA with the best guide around, Trevor! We tried a delicious new coffee spot straight from SanFran called Philz. That alone was worth the trip downtown. I highly recommend the ginger snap iced coffee. I want to go back and bring all my friends. We explored a bit of the flower market and I loved getting to recreate my wedding bouquet in my mind. Then we hit the Grand Central Market, and I don’t know when I’ve smelled anything so yummy. It took some time to decide which place would get our business for lunch, but we ended up with some awesome pizza from Olio. And finally we hit The Spheres at MacArthur Park. They are these lovely orbs being painted by people in the neighborhood. It was quite the adventure! Trevor, thank you for the fabulous date and for being one of my favorite friends.


3.  Audition turned Call Back is always a good thing! That was a highlight of my week. Here I was with my mind already in Europe and then I had to bring the focus back to my career. Not a bad reminder to live in the moment. I never want to wish time away – even if I’m excited about what’s to come!

4.  Girl’s Day is the best. My beautiful besties and I treated ourselves to lunch and a mani/pedi together. It was the most relaxing and refreshing afternoon. We got to enjoy each other’s company and make some great memories. I’m so lucky to have them in my life.

5.  Europe is just around the corner! We’ve had such an outpouring of love from friends and family. People excited about our trip, folks sharing their experiences, helping out with recommendations for food and fun. I just wanted to say thank you so much for reaching out! It is so appreciated. I can’t wait to share our trip with all of you… You know, after we get back. ;)


Also, cats… amiright?

Happy Friday, friends! 

Speaks To Me Sunday #23

23 Aug

Some days I feel like I know exactly who I am. Some days I feel like I have no idea. 

I’ve always been a little ashamed to admit this, but I’ve come to realize that most people feel this way at some time or another. 

We are constantly changing, shifting, growing. Every day new experiences, interactions, and moments affect us, move us. That is the beauty in being human. 

So, even on the days where I feel a little lost… I need to remember that I am me

Jesus Follower, people lover. Wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, aunt, friend. Actor, writer, singer, occasional dancer. Adventurer, explorer, traveler. Cat mom, (hopefully) future baby mom. Creative, dreamer, do-er. Hard worker, lifetime learner, organizer. Book worm, music lover, art appreciater. Empathizer, encourager. Passionate, vulnerable, fierce, brave, kind, a little weird, extraordinary. Human. 

I know who I am. I will not be stopped. 

Who are you? 

Let’s talk about it! Comment, reach out on Instagram or Twitter. (@JoannaHackman
**Thanks to the Firework People for the photo and the inspiration! 

Favorite Five Friday (125th Edition) 

21 Aug

Oh yeah… It’s Friday! You ready for the weekend? But first…


1.  We love living next to downtown Burbank. It’s so fun being able to walk to so many great places (A few favorites: Granville, Wild Carvery, BJ’s, Pizza Rev, the movies, the mall!). It’s even better that we’ve got close friends we can walk to as well. This week we all took a walk and had dinner. Always a fun time when we’re together.

2.  It’s that time of year – more tour guides! We had the open call this week, and it’s one of my favorite things to be a part of. Seeing all of the hopeful, nervous faces walk through the door reminds me of how lucky I am to have this  job. I wish them all the best, and can’t wait to welcome them to the team.

3.  Europe is so close I can almost taste it!! (Literally, I bet Europe tastes so good. Is it weird that I’m super excited about the food?) We have been steadily crossing things off our list of to-do’s before we go. This week we got city passes for London and Paris so we can explore! There are so many sites I am looking forward to seeing in person. It’s finally starting to feel real.

4.  Auditions are still happening. I’ve been trying to really focus instead of checking out before we are actually gone. Having that weekly acting class has really helped to keep my in the right mindset. Plus with all the “back to school” stuff happening, it just makes me nostalgic for class, for school. I might just have to do something about making that a regular thing. Either way, I’m ready to really dive in when we get back from Europe. It’s time for some change and progress. I feel like something is coming. I am so ready for it!

5. I mean… The cutest…

Time to make every minute count as summer winds down!

Happy weekend and Happy Friday!

Speaks To Me Sunday #22

16 Aug

Patience is a virtue. A virtue that I have never had. I’ve always been anxious to complete each task, get where I’m going, and get what I want. 

Moving so fast is exhausting. It’s too easy to cut corners. You miss things when you don’t slow down. 

This has become very apparent to me lately so I am trying to change my impatient ways. 

The kicker came from the acting class I was in this week. My scene partner and I didn’t get to work until the very end. Class was supposed to be over, but they waited to watch our scene. I felt bad for making everyone stay… So I rushed. I didn’t lean into moments that could have been. I didn’t listen the way I wanted to. I didn’t take my time. My teacher could tell and brought it up at the end. He told me that it didn’t matter that class should have been over just like it wouldn’t matter if I was at an audition where they were running behind – I matter. I get to take my time. I learned so much in that moment and I’ve been thinking about it all week. 

I am so prone to hurrying that I forget to take my time. I’m trying to remember that great things take time. I want to do something great. 

Where do you need to take your time? What great things will come of it? 

Go ahead and leave a comment! Talk to me on Instagram and Twitter (@JoannaHackman). #SpeaksToMeSunday 


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