Seattle Day 1

Seattle Day 1

We arrived in Seattle, Washington at about 5:30 pm Seattle time (so 7:30 pm Wisconsin time). I was amazed by all the mountains we saw from the plane on the way in. The trip from Sea-Tac to our hotel, the Seattle Marriott Waterfront, took about 30 minutes by taxi. Along the way, we passed Centurylink Field and Safeco Field, home to the Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, and Seattle Sounders FC.

After settling in at the hotel, we made our way by foot to the lakefront piers to find dinner and were able to sit outside and watch the sun set. The glare coming off of the water was intense, but it was so cool to watch the ferry boats go back and forth between Seattle’s piers and nearby Bainbridge Island. One of my things to do while we are here is take a ferry to Bainbridge Island and back. The plan is to do so next weekend when we are back in Seattle.

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After dinner, it was time to do some exploring. Our hotel is only a few short blocks away from Pike Place Market, and while it was about 8:30 and the market was long closed, we took a walk through anyways.

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Before coming to Seattle I had no idea how hilly the city really was. To get up to the market from the pier area, you have to climb about a block’s worth of stairs. Kinda crazy, but most definitely worth the climb.

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When we reached the top, all of the stalls were empty, but it was fun to walk through the deserted alleyways and corridors. Many other tourists were out doing the same thing. Neon lights lit up the streets and it was a fun, artsy atmosphere to be in.

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We were strolling through the cobblestone streets when I turned to my right and realized we had made our way to the “original” Starbucks. I say “original” because the story is that the first Starbucks ever built has since been torn down and this one in Pike Place Market is the next oldest to the original-original and therefore has been given the name the “Original” Starbucks.

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Anyways, I had read that the lines are incredibly long during the daytime and go out the door and down the block so many people say to stop for a picture and move on. We happened upon the Starbucks at the perfect time because the line only went to the door on the inside. My aunt is a Starbucks fanatic and requested that we stop to get her a mug while in Seattle so this was the perfect time to stop in.

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We waited in line and made our way into the store. Different cups, mugs, and tumblers lined one wall while baristas manned the counter on the other side of the store. Because I love a good tall tumbler for all the water I drink, I decided to buy one. I mean, how could I pass up a tumbler from the original Starbucks? When checking out, I handed over my Starbucks gift card to the barista and he mentioned how cool my Los Angeles gift card was. I told him how I had gotten from Ellen when I attended one of her shows and he proceeded to yell to the barista next to him, “Look how cool this card is! She got it from Ellen when she went to the Ellen show!! I LOVE Ellen! Is it weird that I would marry her if I could? No? I don’t really care anyways if its weird. She should run for president!” This interaction was incredible. The baristas at the “original” Starbucks are hilarious, energetic, and clearly love what they do. This interaction wasn’t the only cool thing to happen while in the store. We also happened to be the last customers let into the store for the night which is kind of awesome to be able to say we closed the “original” Starbucks.

After Starbucks, we continued our walk. We were on a mission to find a small deli or supermarket to buy some water and I wanted to get a few apples for the next few days. We continued to walk along and suddenly saw a large crowd gathered a few streets down as well as the sounds of a marching band playing. I convinced my family to keep on walking so we went to check it out.

It turns out that the Seafair Parade was going on. Crowds of people lined the street taking in the sights and sounds of the parade. Because it was about 9:30 at night, everything was lit up in the parade from the marching bands, to the floats and performers. We stayed to watch for a bit and then went to find a supermarket.

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When we arrived back in our room, we found a note and some cookies laid out in front of the TV. Someone had come by to drop off some extra towels and a rollaway bed and had spotted my Wisconsin Badger water bottle in my backpack. They left the cutest little note mentioning seeing the water bottle and saying “Go Badgers!” Needless to say, day one of Seattle was a success!

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I can’t wait to see what we get ourselves into tomorrow! I’m not sure what my plan is blog wise, if I will be posting daily during the trip or not, but today was so great that I just had to share what we got up to!

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Badger Bakers

Badger Bakers

Most people only bake cut-out sugar cookies during the Christmas season, but I decided to switch it up and bake some during the hot summertime. Earlier in the summer I had picked up some Wisconsin Badger cookie cut-outs from a local baking shop, Downtown Dough, and decided it was finally time to use them for the first time.

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I invited a few of my friends over to bake and decorate cookies with me who also just so happen to go to UW-Madison. Emily, Emily, Kate and I craft and bake together from time to time and this night was no different.

Earlier in the day, I had made two batches of the cut-out sugar cookie dough, cooled, cut, and baked the cookies so that they were ready to be decorated when the girls came over. E.K. decided that she was dying to bake her own cookies as well, so we quickly ran to the store for more ingredients before our night truly began.

Once back at my house, E.K. whipped up her own batch of cookies, meanwhile the rest of us began to make the icing for the cookies. The blog that I found the cookie recipe on, Sally’s Baking Addiction, suggested using icing for the cookies instead of a thicker frosting. An icing is much easier to decorate the cookies with as you can dunk the top of the cookie in the icing to fully coat it because it is thinner than a frosting. If desired, the icing can even be painted onto the cookies for more intricate decorating. I found the blog’s suggested icing recipe from AllRecipes,  and we used that as the base for our icing recipe. We tripled the icing recipe so that we could color enough of it for our decorating. Also, as we began to mix the ingredients together, it was much too thick and we continued to add milk to lighten the consistency of the icing.

After the icing was made, we split it, coloring a portion of the icing red and leaving some white. Some of the cookies were in the shape of footballs, and because of this we needed to make a brown frosting color. Online, we found the idea to add coco powder to the icing to turn it brown and we attempted to do this with a portion of our white icing. It actually turned out great and I would suggest doing this if you ever need to make a shade of brown frosting or icing.

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Emily G adds some details to her iced cookie using a toothpick.

As I mentioned before, our go to way to completely cover the cookies in icing was to dunk the tops of them in the icing (which we had in a few bowls). This was very effective and dried evenly within about 8 minutes. After we had the base layer of icing on the cookies, toothpicks were used to create designs which included basketballs, footballs, the details of Bucky Badger, and some nifty red and white swirl designs.

Our night of baking and decorating these cut-out sugar cookies lasted about 5 hours. Needless to say we really got into the decorating! Plus making and coloring the icing took us awhile as well as completely cleaning up the decent sized mess we made. Which we did—no worries there! (AKA no complaints from my parents the next morning! 🙂 )

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From Left: Emily G, Emily K, me, and Kate L hard at work decorating our cookies.

Below is the sugar cookie recipe as well as the icing recipe we used. For most of the recipes that I use, I usually find myself adding a bit more vanilla extract than they list. I find that this helps add a bit more flavor to the recipe and I did this again for both the cookies and the icing. The cookie recipe also calls for almond extract and a bit more can be added to enhance the flavor of the cookies.

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Let me know what your favorite cookie decorations are that we did and happy baking!

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Sugar Cookie Recipe

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/05/27/soft-cut-out-sugar-cookies/

COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (makes the flavor outstanding)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamed and smooth – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combine, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces (with paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Chilling is mandatory. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper. Chill up to 2 days (max).
  4. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The amount of batches will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.
  5. Before baking, you can apply sprinkles like I did on the rainbow sprinkle lined cookies shown in this post. If you’re planning to only ice them instead, or you just want to keep them plain –  skip the sprinkles.
  6. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until very lightly colored on top and around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. My cookies took 9 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing. I always let mine cool overnight, just to be sure.
  7. Make the icing and decorate the cooled cookies however you’d like. I doubled the frosting recipe to frost a majority of my cookies. I used a paint brush for some and double-dipped others directly into it. I did not color the icing, as you can see. Add sprinkles on top of the icing if preferred. Once the icing has set, these cookies are great for gifts, sending, or munching on right away. I find they stay soft for about 5 days at room temperature.
  8. Make ahead tip: Unfrosted cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Frosted cookies do not freeze well at all. You can chill the cookie dough for up to 2 days (step 3). You can also freeze the cookie dough before rolling for up to 3 months. Then allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then allow to come to room temperature for about 1 hour. Then roll and continue with the recipe as directed.

Additional Notes:

  1. Room temperature egg is preferred to be easily dispersed in the cookie dough. Good rule of thumb: always use room temperature egg if recipe calls for butter at room temperature or melted.
  2. Edited to add: Lately, I’ve been preparing this dough with a little salt and I love the way it brightens the flavor of the dough. You can leave it out for super sweet sugar cookies, but its addition is fabulous.

Icing Recipe

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/11587/sugar-cookie-icing/

Icing

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • assorted food coloring

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

 

My College Packing List

MY College Packing List

Prior to leaving for college last year, I remember constantly scrolling through Pinterest pinning every single college packing list I could find. Many of these lists had overlapping items and some hand pointless items that were totally unnecessary to bring to college.

After going through these lists for a few weeks, I combined and edited a bunch of lists and accumulated my own. This list was critical to my packing. While I may have brought a few other things that are not included on it, it encompasses most of the major things that I brought. Be sure to talk with your roommate(s) about what you are planning on bringing so you do not overlap items!

I have already started to pack for this coming school year and am utilizing my list again. I’m sharing it with you in the hopes that you will find it useful as you begin to pack this year. It may also save you some time and keep you from searching through every list you can find on Pinterest.

Let me know in the comments if you think there is anything important missing from my list or anything you saw that you had not thought of before that is on it!

Oh, and good luck packing!

My College Packing List

Bed

  • Twin X-Long Sheets (Two Sets)
  • Blankets
  • Duvet Cover
  • Duvet Insert
  • Mattress Pad
  • Pillow Cases
  • Pillows
  • Body Pillow
  • Throw Pillows
  • Mattress Protector

Bathroom

  • Body Towels
  • Hand Towel
  • Washcloths
  • Towel Wrap/Bathrobe
  • Curling Iron
  • Hair Straightener
  • Hair Dryer
  • Shower Caddy
  • Shower Shoes
  • Hair Brush
  • Comb
  • Lotion
  • Conditioner
  • Shampoo
  • Other Hair Products
  • Hair Spray
  • Nail Clippers
  • Q-Tips
  • Razor
  • Shaving Cream
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tweezers
  • Scale

Desk

  • Tape
  • Stapler
  • Staples
  • Calendar/Planner
  • Desk Lamp
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • Paper Clips
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Post Its
  • Rubber Bands
  • Scissors
  • Alarm Clock
  • Dry Erase Board
  • Calculator
  • Highlighters
  • Note Cards
  • Sharpie Markers

Electronics

  • Laptop
  • Headphones x2
  • HDMI Cable
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Printer
  • Ink
  • Printer Paper
  • Surge Protectors
  • USB/Flash Drive
  • DVDs/Movies
  • Extension Cords
  • iPod Speakers
  • TV and Remote
  • Phone Charger
  • Computer Cord
  • Camera
  • Power Strip
  • DVD Player
  • JamBox

Dorm Room Necessities

  • Book Light
  • Futon
  • Kleenex
  • Mini Ottoman With Storage
  • Vacuum
  • All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Wipes
  • Steamer
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Broom
  • Lint Roll/Brush
  • Area Rug
  • Floor Lamp
  • Air Freshner Spray

Decorating

  • Posters
  • Pictures
  • Lights
  • Picture Frames
  • Decorative Pillows
  • Adhesive Hooks

Toiletries

  • Clearisel
  • Face Pads
  • Neosporin
  • Band-Aids
  • Face Wash
  • Deodorant
  • First Aid Kit
  • Aleve/Aspirin
  • Cold Medicine
  • Gas Medicine
  • Cough Medicine
  • Thermometer
  • Vitamins
  • Makeup
  • Makeup Remover
  • Perfume
  • Bobby Pins
  • Hair Ties
  • Headbands
  • Feminine Products
  • Nail Polish
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Cotton Balls
  • Floss
  • Wipes

Food

  • Plates/Bowls/Cups
  • Can Opener
  • Pizza Cutter
  • Silverware
  • Paper Towels
  • Tupperware
  • Granola Bars
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Bread
  • Popcorn
  • Chip Clips
  • Dish Soap
  • Dish Brush/Sponge
  • Dish Towel
  • Microwave
  • Water Pitcher
  • Filters for Pitcher
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Water Bottles
  • Water

School Supplies

  • 4 Folders
  • 4 Binders
  • 4 Notebooks
  • Loose Leaf
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Highlighters
  • Backpack
  • 4 Notebooks
  • Pencil Case
  • Eraser
  • Calculator
  • Laptop Sleeve
  • Textbooks

Laundry

  • Hangers
  • Fabric Softner
  • Hamper
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Stain Remover
  • Tide Pods

Organization

  • Under Bed Storage
  • Stacking Drawers
  • Shoe Storage
  • Closet Organizer
  • Duffle Bag
  • Waste Basket
  • Desk Organizer
  • Over the Door Organizer

Random

  • Batteries
  • Duct Tape
  • Fan
  • Safety Pins
  • Sewing Kit
  • Umbrella
  • Soccer Stuff
  • Scooter
  • Board Games
    • Cards
    • Catchphrase
  • Lanyard

Clothes

  • Hoodies
  • Jackets
  • Jeans
  • Rain Boot
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Snow Boots
  • Sweaters
  • Sweatpants
  • Swimsuit
  • T-Shirts
  • Winter Wear
  • Shoes
  • Workout Clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Belts
  • Dresses
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Coats
  • Scarves
  • Jewelry
  • Purse/Wallet
  • Sunglasses

MUST HAVES

  • Drivers License
  • Debit Card
  • Credit Card
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Financial Aid Info
  • Bank Info
  • Checks
  • Student ID
  • Social Security Card

Here is a document version of my checklist if you want to print it out and use it or edit it!

Checklist

Very Berry Summer Cake

sixteen miles

I rarely venture out from my boxed cake mixes when baking and instead prefer to focus on decorating rather than baking a cake from scratch. This time I decided to switch things up. For the first time, I decided to bake a cake from scratch.

My next decision was of course, what type of cake to make? A few weeks ago, a cake appeared on my Instagram feed. It looked amazing and nothing like anything I had ever done before. It was a Victoria Sponge Cake that featured a buttercream frosting topped with strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I had found my next project.

When searching for a recipe, I discovered that they mostly come from England and are measured in grams rather than cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons. I eventually found one I liked that had both measurements. I found it from http://www.errenskitchen.com/victoria-sponge/2/ . I adapted this recipe a bit to make it my own and that can be found below.

Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Softened Butter
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Tablespoons Milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a mixer or food processor and blend until everything is mixed and smooth.
  3. Split the batter between 2 well greased 9 inch round tins. Place them in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Tops should be golden brown.
  4. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then flip the pans upside down over a cooling rack or plate, removing the cakes from the pans to finish cooling completely.

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I also made my own buttercream frosting. This frosting is very easy to make and my recipe can be found down below.

Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ Cups Powdered Sugar
  • ½ Cup Butter, Softened
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons Milk

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with an electric mixer on low speed.
  2. Mix in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk.
  3. Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make the frosting smooth and spreadable. If the frosting is too thick, beat in more milk.

After baking my two 9” rounds, I found them very difficult to get out of the pans. One cake completely broke coming out and the other came out of the pan but not as cleanly as I would have liked. I placed the decent cake on a plate and put it in the freezer. I then decided to make more batter for two more cakes. After baking these two 9” rounds, I let them cool for 10 minutes after taking them out of the oven and then immediately used a knife to loosen the sides and flipped the cakes over on top of two plates. This worked soooo much better and the cakes came out a bit cleaner.

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Because I now had three decent cake rounds, I decided to make a three layer cake instead of the classic two layer. I had the chance to get a bit more creative with my layers since I had an extra one than what I was originally planning on.

For my first layer, I decided to spread a layer of strawberry jam to add more flavor to the cake. I then topped the jam with some of my buttercream frosting. I then added the next cake on top.

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The next layer I decided to switch things up. I first put a layer of strawberry jam and then buttercream but then added some sliced strawberries. The next 9” round went on top.

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For the top of the cake, I put a layer of buttercream frosting and then decorated it with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

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And there you have it, my finished Victoria Sponge Cake with fresh berries!

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Don’t Forget These 10 Items When Packing for College

10 Items

It’s about that time to start planning your list for heading off to college. These can be long lists and while searching for futons and microwaves you may forget the little things that are most definitely some of the most important items that should be on your list.

Here are 10 things that you should add to your list of things to pack if they aren’t already there:

  1. Paper Towel: There will be spills. Just bring it. Please.
  2. Command Strips: Of all types and sizes. Hanging your things up allows you so much more space in your small room. Make sure you have both heavy duty strips for heavier objects coats and backpacks and lighter strips for hanging up accessories like hats and necklaces.
  3. Kleenex. Srsly though. You’d be amazed at all the people who don’t have kleenex in their rooms, especially when the floor plague comes around (it’s a real thing, and beware of it). Using toilet paper is NOT FUN. Just bring a starter box at least!
  4. Vitamins and Emergen-C: like I said, the floor plague is real. Be ready to combat it early with vitamins and Emergen-C.EmergenC_OriginalFormula_Tropical_cupAndPacket_mini.jpg
  5. Tide Pods: the best thing that you can do for yourself to help get through doing your own laundry. They make it so easy. Throw one in for a light load and two for a heavy or particularly dirty load. Bam. You’re done.
  6. A scissors: they come in handy and you might be the only one around on your floor with a pair of them. You’ll be famous.
  7. A vacuum. Either a handheld or a small stand-up vacuum is a must have in college. If you are living in the dorms, you’re front desk will most likely have one. In my experience though, these vacuums are not well maintained and usually do not work. Having your own will make cleaning so much easier and quicker. Trust me!
  8. Hanging Wall Lights: If you are sharing a room with a roommate these are a must have! Not only do they serve as a pretty decoration, but they are the perfect lights to leave on for your roommate when you decide to go to bed early and they are out late. Instead of leaving all the lights on, leave these on instead, they give off just enough light for your roommate to come in and get ready for bed without waking you up. Here is a cheap option from Target: http://www.target.com/p/room-essentials-14-17-x-9-45-x-22-44-inch-winter-white-string-lights/-/A-23980561
  9. Mini Storage Ottoman: You can find these at Target or Bed Bath and Beyond and let me tell you they are SUPER HANDY. They serve as storage, a table, a foot rest, or extra seating. I used mine almost daily last year and it is where I kept my extra blankets for when friends came to stay overnight.ottoman.jpg My choice is this ottoman for $14.44 from Target: http://www.target.com/p/microsuede-ottoman-room-essentials/-/A-51004606#sn-51004606
  10. Dish Soap and a Sponge: this is actually really important. Don’t forget it! I was amazed by some of my friends who didn’t have any of their own and rarely cleaned their dishes. Don’t let this be you. Be cleanly. (I prefer a Dobie Pad: https://www.amazon.com/Scotch-Brite-Dobie-

 

Do you think I’m missing something really important? Or has one of these items come in handy for you in the past? Let me know in the comments below.

Road to Rio: First Stop, Chicago

Road to Rio- First stop,

Today, Saturday, July 9, I traveled down to Chicago with my family to attend the United States Women’s National Team game versus the Republic of South Africa. I’ve always wanted to go to a USWNT game and this is the closest that they have ever played to the Milwaukee area. When I first heard that the US would be playing at Soldier Field, I immediately asked my parents if they would be up for going, and luckily my dad is also a soccer fanatic, so this was the perfect excuse for a family trip to Chicago.

Today’s game versus the Republic of South Africa was the second to last game before the USWNT departs for Rio and the Summer Olympic Games. Their last friendly match before the Olympics is to be played in Kansas City on July, 22 against Costa Rica.

PreGame

The USWNT is currently ranked number one in the world, meanwhile, the Republic of South Africa is ranked 52nd in the world. The US did not have much knowledge about RSA prior to this game—the RSA only qualified for the Olympics for the second time ever this year. With that being said, this game was critical for each of the players to show their skills as they each vie for a position on the Olympic Team. Head Coach Jill Ellis is to release the 20 woman roster on Sunday.

Fam Selfie

Enough about the stats though, let me tell you a bit about my experience in Chicago today. The day began with my family and I parking in a lot next to the Marriott Blackstone Hotel. When we stay overnight in Chicago, we normally stay at this hotel, as it is only a short walk away from Soldier Field. (I’ve attended my fair share of concerts at Soldier Field and therefore the Blackstone has become a favorite place of mine to stay.) This is important because we made a quick pit stop in the hotel for a bathroom break before walking over to the stadium, and who do we happen to see, but the Republic of South Africa National Team loading up onto the bus to head over to the game. They stayed at the Blackstone and it was funny to see a few stragglers sprinting to make the bus. Almost late to their own game!

From there, we walked over to Soldier Field through Millennium Park. There were families and many, many young girls decked out in their Team USA jerseys filling the pathway to the stadium. Once inside Soldier Field, we found our seats near the midfield line in the 12th row (shout out to my mom for these fantastic seats!).

The pregame warm-ups began with the goalkeepers from both teams coming out first. Then the rest of both teams came out a few minutes later. The USWNT warmed up directly in front of where I was sitting which was amazing to see. Especially since it was Carli Lloyd’s first game back since being out for her knee injury. Megan Rapinoe also was on the sideline but did not warm up with the team.

Crystal Dunn scored in the first half to put the US ahead. While the second half brought many chances, especially once Carli Lloyd was put in, the scored ended 1-0 with a US win.

With the 1-0 win, Hope Solo posted her 100th shutout and became the first goalkeeper ever, man or woman, to do such a thing. She was recognized for this amazing feat after the game. As a goalkeeper myself, this made the game even more special to be there for. After they recognized Hope, the team made their way around the field, waving to the fans and signing a few autographs. During this time, a few of the South African players went up to Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, and youngster Mallory Pugh to take photos with them. It was so cool to see the young South African players asking for photos and to see that they were as awestruck as I was to see these great USWNT players.

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Needless to say, today was quite the experience and I am so thankful to my parents for taking me to the game. It is a day that I will never forget and will most definitely stay with me as the United States Women’s National Team makes their Olympic run in Rio at the end of this summer. Today also reminded me about how hard work and dedication can take you anywhere you want to be whether it is in school, a job, or a sport. As I continue to play club soccer this summer, this game will stay with me and push me to play at my highest level just like the women of the USWNT do every day.

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Happy Birthday America

Happy BIRthday America

The Fourth of July is the most looked forward to holiday of the summer. Filled with family, friends, grilled out food, drinks, outdoor games, and of course fireworks. I spent my Fourth at my aunts house. She has a beautiful back patio filled with multiple seating areas, heating lamps, tiki torches, plants, and a hot tub. My family was tasked with bringing a dessert to the party and as usual my mom handed that job over to me. Needless to say, I was delighted with the excuse to bake a delicious treat and immediately took to Pinterest to discover some inspiration.

I began with a simple search, “Fourth of July Desserts.” From there I discovered my inspirations for what I eventually created.

None of these designs was exactly what I was looking for, but i did like a few aspects from each. Because of this, I decided to take certain elements and combine them. I ended up making a double layer 9 inch round cake. I colored one layer red and the other blue with food coloring. After baking these two cakes, I allowed them to cool and then wrapped them in plastic and placed them in the freezer overnight.

The next morning, I took the cakes out of the freezer and cut the raised tops of of both of the cakes in order to make them more level and easier to stack. Freezing them overnight makes them easier to work with and allowed me to cut them cleaner. I then took out my handy dandy store-bought buttercream frosting, decided which cake would be my bottom layer, and began to frost the top of that cake. In order to make my vision of a red, white, and blue cake come to life, I decided to make an exposed cake. Meaning I was not going to frost the outside of the cake, only the middle and top layers. I had never done a cake like this before so it was something different for me!

After I finished frosting the middle layer, I placed the second cake on top and began to frost the top of that layer. After I finished frosting the cake, making sure to clean up the sides of it so the red and blue layers were prominently showing, I moved on to my next element: an American flag made up of red, white, and blue M&Ms. The flag took up the entire top of my cake and served as the focal point of my cake. To finish the cake off, I piped the bottom of the cake, the blue layer, with red frosting and the top layer of the cake, the red layer, with blue frosting.

Voilá! I was done.

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The cake was a hit at my aunt’s house, everyone loved the exposed detail and appreciated the red and blue layers of the cake. Not only that, but the cake was delicious! Now here is to waiting for my next excuse to go all out decorating a cake or cupcakes for the next family gathering!