Top Reasons To

Spring Break 2018: New York City

Spring break, for many, is a time for travel. Its a chance to get away from the madness of school, relax and take a break–for most at least.

This was not the case for me.

While I did take a step back from school work, my week in NYC was not your typical “lay out on the beach, soak up the sun and relax” trip. Instead, it was a jam-packed week filled with sightseeing, delicious food and endless miles of walking and riding the subway.

My boyfriend, Ethan, and I arrived on Friday, March 23 in the evening and took a taxi from LaGuardia to his aunt and uncle’s apartment we were staying at on the Upper West Side. On Saturday morning, we hit the ground running and it was non-stop until we headed back to the airport on Friday, March 30. The week was a whirlwind and we somehow managed to fit in everything we wanted to see, do and eat, in a cost-effective manner nonetheless!

The following is an itinerary of all of the incredible things we packed into each day. We combined our trusty sneakers with an unlimited ride metro pass for $34 for the entire week, making transportation incredible cheap, easy and efficient. After studying abroad in London, I am a huge fan of the CityMapper app, which provides transportation suggestions and maps routes for major cities in the world, and I used this app to figure out how we got from place to place on the subway.


  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum
    • We bought our City Passes here. The City Pass was a great option for us as it included all of the major things we wanted to do and for a much cheaper price. Not only that, but we were able to skip many of the ticket lines at locations such as the Empire State Building (had to wait in line but not the ticket line) and we simply had to exchange our City Pass voucher for a ticket at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ticket booth.
    • I had been to Ground Zero before, but did not have the chance to go in the museum. The museum was moving and filled with people there to remember what happened. If you haven’t been, I highly suggest it.
  • Lower Manhattan
    • For the majority of the afternoon, we walked through Lower Manhattan just looking at different sights. The first few things we saw were Charging Bull in the Wall Street area, then we walked through China Town and Little Italy. It always amazes me how quickly the neighborhoods change in New York City. We then walked through the shopping district in SoHo. We stopped in Stance, where Ethan bought a ton of socks. We then bounced back and forth between other stores and then took the subway back to the apartment we were staying at.
  • Dinner at El Centro
    • We went to dinner at El Centro in Hell’s Kitchen area. El Centro was incredibly busy and dim lit. We almost had to pull out our phones to use as light to read the menus. While it was loud and difficult to hear each other, it was a great place to people watch and had delicious food!


  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
    • We got up early to beat the crowds at the pier for the trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Our City Pass covered the excursion which was great since it was on our must see list. While it was a rather cold and windy day, we were lucky to avoid the rain while out on the water. We did not spend much time at the Statue of Liberty, but both of us truly enjoyed Ellis Island and learning about the history of the gateway to the U.S. for many immigrants. It was incredible to read personal anecdotes from individuals who came to the island.
  • Times Square
    • In the afternoon, we went to Times Square. We first stopped at the TKTS booth to check to see if there were any shows we wanted to see later that evening that had discounted tickets. There weren’t, so we explored Times Square for a bit stopping in at different shops. The longer we stayed in Times Square, the busier it got so we headed out to get dinner.
  • John’s Pizzeria NYC
    • We went to John’s Pizzeria NYC for dinner. The restaurant is located in an old church, so it is an awesome environment. The stained glass ceiling is my favorite part. The restaurant is always extremely busy, and we waited nearly 45 minutes to be seated. The pizza was delicious though and I would highly suggest going!


  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
    • We took the subway almost an hour from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn. Our first stop was the Brooklyn Bridge Park. The park consists of six piers that offer different facilities. Pier 2 was really fun to explore as it had a roller rink, covered basketball and tennis courts and what looked to be a turf soccer field. I had never seen such an innovative athletic complex before situated on a pier overlooking Manhattan.
  • Dumbo
    • Next, we headed to Dumbo, a trendy warehouse district of Brooklyn. The area was filled with upscale clothing stores and restaurants as well as cute little cafes. I found the perfect street (Washington Street) to take a photo that framed the Manhattan Bridge between two buildings. Ethan stopped for a slice of pizza at Front Street Pizza, which he said was delicious!29694630_1877943042224718_5762089606043719519_n
  • Islanders Hockey Game
    • Monday night, we headed to the Barclays Center to watch the Islanders play the Florida Panthers. It was an entertaining game, but most of all, it was great to see Ethan so happy watching the sport he loves. He was very excited to watch some player named Barzal… We also ran into a friend from school at the game, so overall it was a great time!


  • TKTS (Round Two)
    • Tuesday morning we got up and headed to the TKTS booth in Lincoln Center. I read that it is much easier to get tickets at the TKTS booths not in Times Square, plus the TKTS location at Lincoln Center opened at noon which allowed us to get an earlier start on our day rather than waiting around later in the afternoon. We were able to purchase discounted tickets to the showing of Kinky Boots that evening, which we had heard great things about!
  • Empire State Building
    • We then walked from Lincoln Center to the Empire State Building. It was a long walk. But we made it and luckily it was early in the day and the line was not too long to go up in the Empire State Building. We also did not have to stand in the line to get tickets as the Empire State Building was including in our City Pass. That saved us a lot of time. It was still incredibly crowded, which helped to add to my distaste for the Empire State Building (my parents decided to take my brother and I years ago around midnight right after we had gotten off a plane from Milwaukee and it was not the most enjoyable experience).

      This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Dinner at Barilla
    • Who knew that Barilla, the mass producer of boxed noodles, had a small chain of “upscale Noodles & Co.” restaurants in New York City? I found them online and we went before going to Kinky Boots as it was close to the theatre. The food was actually delicious and reasonably priced. If you’re looking for some good pasta (that reminds you of home but is still fancy) I would highly suggest Barilla.
  • Kinky Boots
    • After dinner, we walked to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre for Kinky Boots. Both Ethan and I did not know much about the show coming in, the most I knew was that it was funny, heart-warming and had great music. Needless to say, we couldn’t stop laughing and the show portrayed a message everyone needs to hear, to accept people for who they are. It was truly a fantastic show. Ethan thoroughly enjoyed it as well as Wayne Brady (who has appeared on How I Met Your Mother) starred as Lola and he had an incredible voice.
  • Black Tap Midtown
    • Post Kinky Boots it was time for dessert! We made our way to Black Tap, a restaurant known for its burgers and its “Crazy Shakes” (aka milkshakes). We went for the milkshakes and wow, they are good! After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, New Yorkers love their lines, we made our way into the funky milkshake hotspot. We ordered “The Cookie Shake” to share, but substituted the vanilla shake for a cake batter shake. Greatest decision ever. It was delicious. Highly, highly recommend.29594478_1877955428890146_7309439998022462890_n


  • Central Park Bike Ride
    • Despite Ethan’s grumbles about hating biking, I ensured him that the best and fastest way to see all of Central Park was by bike. So Wednesday morning we went to Bike Rental Central Park to pick up our bikes. I had already rented the bikes online where they are not only discounted, but also found a coupon for 15 percent off, which made our two hour rental incredibly cheap. We walked our bikes from the rental facility to Central Park and then we were off! We managed to see most of the big sights, such as the Alice in Wonderland statue, the Great Lawn, Kerbs Boathouse, Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, the Loeb Boathouse, the Reservoir, Strawberry Fields, Cherry Hill and finally I danced in the Cherry Hill Fountain (aka the Friends Fountain). We did it in under two hours and had our bikes back before time was up!

      This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Lunch at Burrito Box
    • Directly across from our bike rental was a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Burrito Box. I had read reviews online that raved about the food, and when we walked across the street to grab lunch, the tiny space was already packed with locals and tourists alike. Ethan got a steak and ground beef burrito while I got a quesadilla. The food was delicious and cheap!
  • NBC Studio Tour
    • The last time I was in NYC, I had done the NBC Studio Tour, and as Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show was on a break that week for Easter, the only way into Studio 6B was via the tour. Apart from loving The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, I also really enjoyed the tour the last time I went and wanted to experience the magic of NBC again. The Pages lead the tour and give a behind the scenes look at the making of various NBC programs such as Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. They also show you what it looks like in the sound, audio and lighting studios and basically how they put television together and get it to viewers around the country. If you are ever in NYC and have any interest in the shows I mentioned or simply the television industry, this is a great experience!29594599_1877964708889218_1748460956714507432_n
  • Top of the Rock
    • After the NBC Tour, we stayed in the Rockefeller Building and headed to the Top of the Rock, which was also included in the price of our City Passes. Unlike the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock was much less crowded and we made it to the 67 floor in no time. From the 67 floor we could head up to the 69 and 70 floors and by stair. From the top of the Rockefeller Building, we had a great view of the Empire State Building, Central Park and the entirety of Manhattan. Personally, the view and experience of the Top of the Rock was much better than the Empire State Building.
  • American Museum of Natural History
    • Later that afternoon we walked from the apartment to the American Museum of Natural History. It was only about an eight minute walk, and while the museum admission is pay what you like, our City Passes covered our admission and we had the choice of one special exhibit. I was most excited to see the Easter Island head that says “dum dum give me gum gum” from Night at the Museum. Meanwhile, Ethan enjoyed looking at all of the animals from around the world. 29573365_1877954885556867_3230761022699380232_n


  • The “Today” show
    • On Thursday morning we got up at 5 a.m. You read that right, 5 a.m. From there, we took the subway a majority of the way to Rockefeller Plaza so we could get in line for the “Today” show. We were near the start of the line and got a great spot behind one of  the clothing displays for a style portion of the show. While there, we saw John Cena, I got a photo with Al Roker and we got a photo and had a conversation with Hoda Kotb. All in all, it was a great experience and I would get up at 5 a.m. to do it all over again tomorrow if I could!

      This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Cookie Do NYC
    • We headed down to Greenwich Village to go to Cookie Do NYC, where they make cookie dough that you are able to eat raw without worrying about getting sick. We got there before noon and there was literally no line, allowing us to walk right in and look at all the flavors they had to offer. The cookie dough shop is a cute venue with pretty lights and decorations. While the cookie dough was delicious, I got a scoop of Brookie Dough and Cake Batter in a cake batter cone, there was so much dough and there was no way I cold finish it. I didn’t even finish one scoop! It was oh so good though!

      This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Exploring Gramercy Park
    • After Cookie Do NYC, we walked around the Gramercy Park area. We popped into The Strand to look at the monstrous book store, Flight Club where I saw the most expensive pair of sneakers I have ever seen and NYU. 29684076_1877967182222304_3941625900558741695_n
  • The High Line
    • Post Gramercy Park, we walked to the north entrance of the High Line and walked south towards Chelsea. The High Line was really cool and very nature-y compared to the rest of NYC. We walked through the art district and could see so many art galleries from the High Line. We ended our walk on the High Line at Chelsea Market. The market was filled with people shopping and grabbing lunch and we found lunch for ourselves there. It was a super cute market that I would go back to in a heart beat!


  • The MET and Central Park
    • Friday was our last day in NYC. We were planning on going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as it was the last thing on our City Pass that we had not used. We walked through Central Park to the MET, but due to the longest lines I had seen in New York City ever, we decided against going inside the museum. Instead, we spent the next hour or so walking through Central Park and exploring the park by foot, as we had only biked it before.
  • Levain
    • After our walk through Central Park, we headed back towards the apartment to finish cleaning and packing, we made a second stop at Levain Bakery. Levain was highly suggested by Ethan and his mom as they make some of NYC’s most sought after cookies. We went to not only buy one each for ourselves, but also got a few to bring back as a “souvenir” for our parents. Ethan’s favorite are the oatmeal raisin cookies, while my favorite is the dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookies.

All in all, it was an amazing trip and not much went wrong (until we were at LaGuardia waiting to go home and our flight got delayed nearly four hours!). While I saw some things I had seen already, I saw so many other things and got to explore New York City at a relaxed speed because we were there nearly a week. These were some of my favorite places, restaurants and things that we did while there. It was no doubt a spring break I will never forget!

Autumn Spirit

Fall into the local autumn spirit

The changing leaves and crisp air have those on campus reaching for comfy sweaters, stopping in at the nearest Starbucks to grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte and cozying up near the fire while watching Sunday Night Football games. That’s right, fall is upon us.

While partaking in these activities is a natural reaction for many when the cool fall weather hits, there are plenty of other ways to fully indulge in the fall spirit. Whether you are looking for something artsy, active or relaxing, here are five fall-themed, and fully Instagrammable, things to do to celebrate the fall season.

Find the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The quintessential fall outing involves picking your own pumpkin, preferably at a local farm. Stopping by Target or Pick’n Save may be the easy option when it comes to snagging a pumpkin to spice up your apartment, but local farms such as Schuster’s and Treinen offer acres upon acres of pumpkins to choose from. If making your way off campus to a local farm is not in the cards, consider stopping by the Dane County Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning as pumpkins and gourds are beginning to pop up at various vendors. Be sure to customize your pumpkin by either painting or carving it at home!

Get Lost in a Corn Maze

Have you ever wanted to get lost in the eyes of a true stud, Bucky Badger? Well, now you can. This year, local family farm Enchanted Valley Acres shaped their corn maze in the image of the beloved Bucky Badger. If you’re not confident in your abilities to make it out of the big corn maze, they also offer a smaller, one-acre maze, for those who may not be the best at directions. General admission to Enchanted Valley Acres is $10, which includes access to hayrides, their giant slide and of course, their Bucky corn maze.

Pick the Perfect Apple

Fall means that local apple orchards are bursting with seasonal apples just waiting to be picked. Whether you are looking for a single apple or a brimming bag full, local farms and apple orchards are the best place to shop during the fall. A few apple orchards near campus include Jones Orchard, Eplegaarden and Bickler’s Apple Farm. Local farms offer a variety of apples, but if you are looking for a specific type, be sure to check their produce varieties before visiting. To save you the time, Jones Orchard and Green’s Pleasant Springs Orchard currently offer Honeycrisp apples. You’re welcome.

Did Someone Say “Pie”?

Now that you have had the chance to pick your pumpkins and gather your apples, there is no excuse not to call up your mom to get her favorite pie recipes. Fall baking is the best as apple and pumpkin pies are staple treats. Whether you are baking alone or with friends, the sweet smells that fill your kitchen are reason enough to budget the two hours it may take to prepare and bake your sweet treats. As Friends-Giving nears, you will be the star of the meal as you dazzle your friends with your pie-baking skills.

Get Spooky

For all you thrill seekers, fall is your season to thrive. ‘Tis the season to get spooky and as we near Halloween, there are tons of haunted houses and trails to visit. Just south of campus, visit Horror in the Dark at Olin Park, a local haunted house. Or, if you are up for a drive and in the mood for some realistic zombies, make your way to Wisconsin Scaryland in Waunakee. Wisconsin Scaryland is a live-actor haunt, truly meant to make you scream. It is not for the faint of heart. For the rest of us, a scary movie streamed at the Marquee at Union South may be the perfect balance of thrill instead. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Shaun of the Dead (2004) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) all play throughout the month of October.

Mil MagMil Mag

Its been a while…

Its been quite a while since I last wrote on mostlymotto, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. A lot has happened in the past few weeks.

Since I’ve been home from London, I began my summer internship at Milwaukee Magazine as their Digital Intern. Four days a week, I commute down to the Third Ward in Milwaukee to the Milwaukee Magazine office. On my first day, (just over three weeks ago) I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I arrived. I was thrown right in though and put to work. I was surprised at how much responsibility I was given as an intern right away, especially after my intern experience in London.

As the Digital Intern I am writing and editing stories for online, auditing the website, creating the tri-weekly E-newsletter that is sent to subscribers, scheduling social media posts and working with the marketing interns to promote the Milwaukee Magazine brand (just to name a few things!). And while I’m so busy there, I’m fully enjoying it and couldn’t imagine it any other way! As the summer goes on, I can’t wait to get more involved at Mil Mag and take on more responsibilities as well as publish more articles.

While I’ve been home and interning, I’ve also realized some of the things London has prepared me well for and some of the things I miss most about the beautiful city.

My commute to my internship in Milwaukee is much more stressful than my commute from Kensington to Shoreditch was in London. Instead of simply hoping on the District line for 35 minutes, I hope in the car and drive through Milwaukee traffic for 40 minutes (at least). I also had to attend Jazz in the Park to do some marketing for Mil Mag and instead of taking the tube or bus to get 10 blocks away to Cathedral Square, I drove and then was faced with the task of finding street parking in Milwaukee near a busy event. Oh how I miss the ease of fantastic public transportation, namely the tube.

At Milwaukee Magazine, I’ve done just about everything from pitching and writing stories, to auditing the website and doing street marketing. I’m thankful for my time in London as it has taught me to be ready for anything thrown at me. Both my internship and travels in London prepared me to be open and flexible when its comes to things I may not have experience with.

Needless to say, its been an incredibly busy past three weeks which have flown by so quickly. I can only imagine how the rest of my summer will go at this rate, but I am excited to see where it takes me!

You can check out the articles that I’ve written so far here:

Mil Mag 8

Mil Mag 1Mil Mag 2Mil Mag 3Mil Mag 4Mil Mag 5Mil Mag 6Mil Mag 7


What I Know

I know that America is fiercely divided, but inherently strong. Our country was built to withstand obstacles and continue to move on, stronger than before. This election divided an already separated country, but cannot break us.

While neither candidate was perfect, we, as a country, have made the decision to elect a new president. And while some may long to deny it, this is our reality today.

We, as a country will move forward.

It is what we are known for doing, and we must do so together.

There will never be someone that will completely and wholly represent each individual in such a colorful, opinionated and unique country such as the United States. It is not realistic. Only you can fully represent who you are. That is what makes electing one individual to represent so many millions of people so incredibly difficult.

What is realistic, is moving forward in as unified of a way as possible. This is a lot to ask of a country that can ignore the fact that the election was filled with words and actions of racism, sexism, sexual assault, lies, characteristics of bullying and trust issues.

As I said, neither candidate was perfect, nor was the process, but we elected a new president and now we must come together to move forward.

I know what I stand for:

  • Respecting others who are different from myself through their race, religion, sexual orientation and background.
  • Understanding others with views that are different from my own beliefs.
  • Courage to accept that I am not always right.
  • Ability to listen to each other and voices that are different from our own, and grow.

And finally, I hope and dream that we, as a country, can come together and move forward.

Move forward for ourselves, our families, our neighbors and those who live differently from us in a country that we all call our home.



Not your average story about a ‘dead old white dude’

On May 12, 2009, Lin-Manuel Miranda was invited by President Barack Obama to perform at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word. At the time, Miranda was most well-known for his Broadway show “In the Heights” and many expected him to perform something from it. Instead, Miranda took everyone in the room by surprise.

“I’m actually working on a hip-hop album. A concept album about the life of someone I think embodies hip-hop. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton,” Miranda said as he introduced himself to the audience.

The audience proceeded to laugh and Miranda acknowledged the laughter but ensured that he was serious. Then he began to sing a song that would eventually go on to be part of a musical that would win 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and a Pulitzer Prize.

As Miranda told the audience at the White House his plan–a concept album of Alexander Hamilton, someone who he thought embodied hip-hop–he said it without a hint of amusement, total seriousness. This is what hooked me.

How can Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father of the United States and the founder of the United States Treasury, embody hip-hop? These two concepts seem like they should be opposites of each other.

When Miranda announced his latest venture at the White House, he seemed prepared for this response from the guests in attendance, the same response I had when I first heard about the concept of “Hamilton.” Combining hip-hop, rap, theater and U.S. history is something that had never been done before, something no one had probably even thought of. Something of pure genius.

As Miranda sings, you can clearly see his passion for creating this work of history in musical form. Miranda is passionate, dynamic and knowledgeable. As he sings, he details Hamilton’s history. Not only does he create catchy verses, but he informs the public of one of our Founding Fathers’ past. Not an easy feat.

I would not consider myself a history buff by any means, but this simple video pushed me to want to know more about Hamilton-and not in the traditional way. Miranda takes a piece of history, something normally taught in a high school classroom to students wishing they could be anywhere else but there learning about a dead old white dude, and makes them want to know more. He makes his audience snap along, pushing them to get involved and become invested in his beautifully created piece of art.

Hip-hop and rap, staples of popular culture today, are what I believe allows Miranda’s idea to work. Without this musical style, “Hamilton” would have been just another dull installment of history. Instead, Miranda challenges his audience to invest in history and take a chance on his unique take of the life of Alexander Hamilton.



DIY Succulent Terrariums

One of the latest home trends has been buying or making your own succulent terrarium. They are a simple addition to give life to a room and look great sitting in a sunny windowsill.

While many people may opt to buy their terrariums already made from stores like Target or Home Depot, these pre-made terrariums are not always filled with real plants. Instead, they may come with fake plants that require no upkeep. This is sad really, as succulents require very little care. They simply need to be placed in a place where they will receive lots of sun and be watered maybe once a week. With very little water at that-placing an ice cube at the base of the succulent will give it all the water it needs for the week!

There are many different styles of terrariums you can make, and here are just a few different styles for inspiration:

Being that I wanted to customize my terrarium, I decided to make mine myself. To make your own terrarium you will need:

  1. A container to house the plant (I went with a glass fishbowl that was on sale at Hobby Lobby)
  2. Some rocks. These can also be bought at crafting stores. You can go with colorful stones, simple white ones, or natural toned rocks. good1.jpg
  3. Soil. This can be found at home improvement stores like Home Depot or Menards. When all else fails, you can dig some up from your backyard!
  4. Moss. I bought some colorful moss from Hobby Lobby to spruce up the terrarium. good.jpg
  5. A succulent or two. I got my plant from Home Depot. They had a very large selection varying in price from about $2.50 to $12 depending on how big and what variety the plant was. img_7978

I began making my terrarium by putting a layer of rocks down. For my small terrarium I went with the bright white stones, and mixed it up with my large terrarium. Be sure not to fill up the bowl too far with rocks as you need to leave room for enough soil to plant your succulent. 


After the rocks, I added the soil and then planted my succulent plants. Around the plants, I placed red and green moss to give more color to the terrarium.

Be sure to clean the glass near the top of the bowl or container you decide to use to clean off the dirt, dust and fingerprints that settle on it. Your end result will look just as nice as the store-bought versions and be the perfect addition to rooms that need a little bit of life in them!

If you decide to make one for yourself, or have already done so, share your pictures in the comments!


April 15, 2019

I’m always scrolling through Pinterest looking for my next crafty thing to do, and I’ve seen these DIY photo frames a few times now. As I’m moving back to college in a few days, I’m getting excited to start decorating my room. This DIY photo frame is a great way to display tons of photos of friends and family in the cutest way.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To make a photo frame like this you will only need a few things: a frame, some rope, mini clothespins, a hot glue gun, and of course some photos to put in it. I had been looking for a rather inexpensive frame to do this project, as I was originally planning on painting my frame so I didn’t care how it looked. The frame I used was on sale at Michael’s and I really liked the white so I did not end up painting it (which made this even easier and quicker to do!). I also got the string at Michael’s. I already had a package of mini clothespins from a prior craft which I got at either Walmart or Hobby Lobby a while ago.

Because I wanted to fit a lot of photos into my frame, I decided to order some prints in the 4×4 square size from Walmart. They do one hour photos at a pretty good price and have a very easy online system to use. Some of the photos I ordered had a white frame around them because they came from my Instagram, so I was able to cut them out when I got home. Because I cut them out, they were in a variety of different shapes which I think makes them look a lot nicer in the frame.

To make the frame itself, I began with laying out my photos inside the frame the way that I planned on putting them in later. This made it easier to determine how many rows of photos I would have and how many pieces of string I would need to hot glue inside my frame.


Once I had this determined, I measured out (relatively) the distance I would have between each string row and marked this on the back side of the frame with a black marker. Next, I plugged in my handy dandy hot glue gun and cut the string while I waited for the glue to heat up. Once the glue was ready, I put a layer down on the frame, placed the string on top and pressed it in until it hardened. To be sure that the string would be set in place, I went back after all of the glue had dried and put another layer of hot glue on top–just in case!


After the string was in place and dry, I began to clip my photos in place with the mini clothespins. Altogether, it took me about 35 minutes to finish and I’m really happy with how it turned out!


I plan on hanging it up with some command strips once I get to Madison and I think it will be a great addition to the decorations in my room. If you are looking for a unique way to display your photos, this is a great, low cost, super quick and easy idea!




WHistlerdays 2&3WHistlerdays 2&3

Saturday was our second day in Whistler and also our busiest day. We woke up earlier than usual in order to drive out to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. We had run into a couple when we did the Peak 2 Peak Gondola trip that suggested we make the 40 minute drive out to the Joffres Lakes to go hiking. They also suggested that we get to the park before 9am because the small parking lot fills up crazy quickly with hikers and campers.

We got there a little after 9 and found parking easily. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park consists of three lakes: Lower Joffre Lake, Middle Joffre Lake, and Upper Joffre Lake. Each of the lakes are glacier fed and a beautiful turquoise color. The walk from the parking lot to Lower Joffre Lake only took about 5 minutes and was a very easy, mostly downhill, walk. There is a nice viewpoint on Lower Joffre Lake and you can see the lake and mountains in the distance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My brother Tyler and I then continued on to make the long, uphill trek, to Middle Joffre Lake. The hike to Middle and Upper Joffre lakes is very difficult but well worth it, as you have a fantastic view of the mountains, icefields, and rushing streams that come from the Matier Glacier. From the parking lot to Middle Joffre Lake, it is a 5km, or 3 mile, rocky, steep route up the mountain. And man, was it a difficult hike. There were more than a few moments when I contemplated turning around and going back down the mountain but I stuck it out (with multiple breaks to catch my breath and drink some water) and made it up to Middle Joffre Lake.


Despite the difficult hike, I’m very happy that I continued to hike up the mountain because the view of Middle Joffre Lake was spectacular. Because the lake was created by a melting glacier, the lake water is a pristine turquoise color. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

Because the water comes directly from a glacier and is up in a mountain you could say that the water is “pretty cold.” That didn’t stop my brother from doing a backflip or two off of a fallen log in the water. He came out of the water shivering but he drew a little crowd that was impressed with his backflip so it was totally worth it.


We hung out looking at the lake and taking photos for a bit and then decided to make our way down the mountain. It had taken us about an hour and 10 minutes to make it up the mountain, (supposedly it was supposed to take 3-3 and a half hours to make it up to Upper Lake?!) and it only took us about 35 minutes to make it down the mountain. On our way down, we passed hiker after hiker unlike our trip up where we only saw one other group going up the mountain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After we got back to Whistler, we were scheduled to go ziplining. Our tour with Ziptrek Eco Tours began at 4:10. We had signed up to do the Eagle Tour, a tour designed for individuals who had previously ziplined (we have ziplined before in both Hawaii and Mexico) so this sounded like the perfect trip for us. The trip consisted of 5 lines, the first being the longest.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our two guides were Sarah and Colton. Sarah was only 21 and originally from Australia. She had been in Whistler for about a year and a half working in the resort village. Colton was originally from Ontario. He had been working for Ziptrek for about three months and was planning on staying in Whistler during the winter so that he could try-out for the Paralympic Snowboarding Team. He had lost his leg from under the knee about 3 years ago in an accident. Both of our guides were super energetic and you could easily tell that they loved living in Whistler and working in the village.

I absolutely loved ziplining in Hawaii and Mexico, and therefore it was on my list of must-do’s on our vacation. While I don’t necessarily love heights, I don’t hate them, and I enjoy the rush that you get from ziplining. It is the closest feeling to really flying that I will probably ever get (besides flying in a plane) and it is such a fun experience once you get over the initial step off the platform and into the air. If you ever get the chance to go ziplining, I highly suggest you take it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next morning, we headed out to the train-wreck located in Function Junction. The story has it, that decades ago, a train derailed south of Whistler and seven train cars were left scattered about near the Cheakamus River. A new suspension bridge was recently finished in July to make it easier for tourists to make their way out to the abandoned cars. Previously, hikers had walked along the train tracks to get to the cars and that didn’t make the train drivers too happy so the bridge was put in. Over the years, the train cars have been transformed into works of art as they have been covered in graffiti. They have also been transformed into a bike park as there are wooden ramps built around the cars and on top of them. It’s kind of a crazy site.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You are able to climb in a few of the abandoned cars as well as climb on top of them. I did both. I was kind of nervous to climb on top of the car, but it was kind of cool to climb up the ladder and walk around on top of the car. Lots of little kids and adults alike had also climbed on top of the cars to explore.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After exploring the trainwreck, we left Whistler and made the 4 and a half hour car ride south back down to Seattle. We plan on going out to Mount Rainier tomorrow!  



The third city we visited on our trip was Whistler, British Columbia. On Thursday morning, we left Vancouver and took Highway 99, otherwise known as the Sea to Sky Highway all the way to Whistler. Our trip on the highway was filled with fantastic views. Most of our trip was spent along the Strait of Georgia with fantastic ocean views and mountains surrounding it. The highway continues on and leads you up higher into the mountains. It was incredible to see all of the trees that covered the mountains and the snow-capped peaks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We made a few stops along the way to Whistler. Our first stop was at Porteau Cove Provincial Park. Porteau Cove has a nice long dock you can walk out on and check out the mountains in the distance. It also has a nice beach area and an area with picnic tables. There were even a few people scuba diving down near the beach area. Porteau Cove is a great place to stop to take in the ocean views before moving on to the mountains.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our next stop on our way to Whistler was Shannon Falls. The parking area for Shannon Falls was packed but luckily, we managed to find a spot pretty quickly. It was only about a 5 minute walk to the lowest viewing area for the waterfall. Apart from the viewing area, there were different hiking trails that took you up around the falls, but we just made the quick walk to the viewing area and then got back on the road.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We arrived in Whistler at about two in the afternoon. Because we could not check into the condo we are staying in until 4pm, we decided to explore the resort town. First, we drove out to Green Lake which is just north of Whistler. It was pretty difficult to find a way down to the water level of Green Lake, but we finally found a small park that had water access. There weren’t any boats out on the lake and it was eerily calm.


After Green Lake, we drove back into the heart of Whistler to explore Whistler Village. Whistler Village sits at the base of Blackcomb and Whistler mountains. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains make up the largest skiable area in North America, they have more than 8,000 acres between the two mountains. Whistler was a co-host of the 2010 Winter Olympics and part of the village area is made up of the Olympic Village.


Prior to arriving in Whistler, the number one thing that I wanted to do was go zip lining. There are two main zip lining companies in Whistler, Superfly Ziplines and Ziptrek Ecotours. After looking through the two different companies and the various options they offered, we decided to go with Ziptrek Ecotours. Their booking office is located in Whistler Village, so we went there to book our zip lining trip for Friday. The option we chose also offered a combination of zip lining and the Peak 2 Peak Gondola tickets at a discounted price so we went with that option.

We received our tickets for the Peak 2 Peak Gondola right away, so we went to go use them before the gondolas and chairlifts stopped operating at 5:30pm. (So far on this trip, I’ve noticed that Canada likes to open businesses and restaurants later and close them super early compared to hours in the U.S. It’s kind of odd.) The Peak 2 Peak Gondola trip can begin at either the base of Whistler Mountain or Blackcomb Mountain. We had been told that Blackcomb was usually less busy than Whistler, so we went there to begin our trip up.

The trip up the mountain takes about 28 minutes. Halfway up the mountain, you have to get out and switch chairlifts. I felt like my ears were popping every couple of minutes. There are fantastic views from the chairlift, but if you are afraid of heights I would strongly advise you not to do the Peak 2 Peak Gondola trip. When we arrived at the top of Blackcomb mountain, we quickly hurried to get on the actual gondola. We had started up the mountain at about 4:15, and as the gondola stops at about 5:15, we didn’t have much time to get across to the other mountain, back to Blackcomb, and then down Blackcomb before the lifts stopped operating. Because of this, we weren’t able to explore the different hiking trails at the tops of the mountains, but my brother Tyler did run far enough up a trail to make a snowball and successfully throw and hit me in the head with it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Friday (tomorrow), we plan on heading out to Joffre Lake and do some zip lining later in the afternoon. It should be a pretty exciting day and I can’t wait to go zip lining again!



We arrived in Vancouver on Monday afternoon. On our way, we crossed the border in Blaine and my brother and I were able to jump out of our car while we waited in line to cross the border. There was a park along the the area where the cars waited to be checked and many people were out walking. There were two pretty flower beds on either side that made up the U.S. and Canadian flags. After snapping a pic in front of the flag we walked back to our car which hadn’t moved far.


While driving in to the city, I was greeted by a very different city skyline than I am usually used to. Instead of a skyline similar to Chicago or New York, or even that of Seattle, Vancouver looked as if it was taken out of an Asian city skyline and placed in a North American setting. Most buildings looked rounded and stacked on top of each other. They also had windows on almost every floor that opened up and were made mainly of reflective metal. Something about it was just very different. As we drove closer into the city and were at ground level with the buildings they didn’t seem as unusual but from a distance they do.

After checking into our hotel, the Marriott Pinnacle Downtown, we walked across the street to the waterfront. The Olympic Torches that had been built for the 2010 Winter Games were a staple to the area we walked about. From where we were sitting we could also watch the seaplanes taking off and landing. With the mountains in the background it was a very cool setting.

We did not have enough of our day left to go out and drive somewhere, so instead we decided to walk a few blocks to rent bikes and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring nearby Stanley Park by bike. Stanley Park is located just off of the downtown area and is a big change from the sky scrappers found in Vancouver. We biked around the entire island, which is about 9 kilometers or five and a half miles.


Spokes is where we rented our bikes from and is located right at the entrance to Stanley Park.

While biking around the island, we had great views of the mountains and the Lions Gate Bridge. Along the pathway that surrounds the island, we stopped multiple times to look at the views. At one point we stopped to take pictures of the Lions Gate Bridge and spotted a few sea otters in the ocean not far from where we had stopped. We continued on and found ourselves riding along the sea wall. Farther on, we passed a beach packed full with people.

The next day, we left the hotel early in order to make it out to Lynn Canyon. Vancouver is known to have nice hiking paths as well as suspension bridges. When it comes to suspension bridges, there are two main options, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Lynn Canyon Park. We opted for Lynn Canyon as it is free to both enter and park in the park. By the time we got there, the park was already pretty full but we did manage to wait at the start of the bridge to get a few good pictures on the bridge without big groups of people on it.


After walking across the bridge, we hiked for a bit until we came to a part of the trail where we could access the river. There were two logs stuck in the middle that my brother Tyler was able to walk across to get to the middle. Hesitantly, I followed and luckily made it across as well. We hopped from rock to rock making our way towards the waterfall in the park. We weren’t able to actually get to the waterfall so we turned back. I attempted to cross the river the same way that I had before, but did not fare as well the second time. I stepped off of the sturdy log and into the water. Luckily only one foot went under but it was freezing for the rest of our hike.


Lighthouse Park was our next destination. It was another walk out to actually see the lighthouse, but luckily a much shorter one than what we had done in Lynn Canyon. Lighthouse Park has a restricted area around the actual lighthouse so we were not able to see it up close. Instead, they have a lighthouse viewing area if you are willing to climb up a few rocks. We did so, but it was not as exciting as seeing the lighthouse up close would have been.


Next, we drove down to Granville Island. Granville Island is known for having a large market area as well as lots of little shops. When we arrived, it was filled with families and tour groups. We strolled through the market which was similar to that of Pike Place Market in Seattle but was all inside and much smaller. We were tempted by their fruit tarts, pies, and cookies but continued our walk on.


Granville Island  was very busy, and instead of eating dinner there, we decided to drive to Gastown in Downtown Vancouver. We had dinner at a nice bar and restaurant on the water and then walked down the street. Along the cobblestone street were many souvenir shops so we stopped in at a few on our way down to see the steam clock. I was not sure why such a big deal was made about this clock, but supposedly it is the last working steam clock left in the world. So I guess that is kind of a big deal. Every 15 minutes it plays a little tune and has steam come out of it.


On Wednesday, we drove down to Steveston, which is about 30 minutes south of Vancouver, to go whale watching. We went to Steveston Seabreeze Adventures for what we originally thought was a 3-4 hour long whale watching trip. When all 23 passengers boarded the boat though, the captain mentioned how there was a group of orca whales farther down south and if no one had any planes to catch later in the day, we could go all the way down to see them. Our 3-4 hour long trip became a 5 and a half-ish hour long trip. But it was worth it! We went all the way down to the Strait of Georgia, just south of Victoria, and saw a few large groups of orca whales.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the boat ride down, we passed many islands and saw a large group of sea lions sunning themselves on a group of rocks. Earlier on our trip, I swear I saw a lone dolphin out in the water as well. Our guide didn’t confirm it, but I swear that’s what I saw. Despite the longer trip, (we almost boated all the way back down to Seattle!!!) it was entirely well worth it. We saw many whales and even saw a few breach, or jump out of the water and into the air. Our guide informed us that it takes a lot of energy and calories for them to do that and that is why it is a rare sight to see.

Steveston also happens to be the town where the ABC show Once Upon a Time is filmed. They were filming near the docks when we were there and we saw a big crowd standing near trying to get a glimpse of the actors. We drove through the main street where “Storybrooke” the town from the show, is set.

We leave for Whistler this morning and even more mountains! My internet has not been the best in Vancouver so I hope to add more photos to this post later or in an additional post later. 



SEattle. Vancouver.Whistler

Day two in Seattle began at about 8:30 am. After a quick breakfast upstairs in the hotel lounge, we found ourselves walking back up to Pike Place Market. The market was nearly unrecognizable from the night before. Vendors had filled the previously empty stalls that line the cobblestone streets of the market. Tourists and natives to Seattle littered the streets and inside market area snapping pictures, buying fresh fish and produce, and taking in the sights and smells.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Of all the stalls we walked by, my favorites were those that housed the fresh flowers. Apart from consisting of so many amazing different colors and types of flowers, they also smelled fantastic! (Unlike the fresh fish stalls which had a very different odor to them…) If we weren’t leaving Seattle tomorrow morning I would have contemplated buying a bouquet to keep in the hotel room. They were that pretty!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A staple of the Pike Place Market is the famous Gum Wall. After a little searching, we found the Gum Wall in an alley below the market. The walls were covered in different colored gum. Some was just a gob on the wall while other people had taken the time to stretch their gum out on the walls. It was pretty gross but also cool at the same time. I was also sure to add my own piece of gum to the wall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While walking through the market, we also happened to pass the “original” Starbucks that we had stopped in the night before. And wow are we lucky that we stopped in last night when the line only went two people outside the door! Today, the line went outside the door and almost down the entire block that the Starbucks sat on. There was no way that we would have waited in line to make it into the shop today. Instead we snapped a few photos out front and moved on.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After walking through the market again, we decided to make the trek north towards the Space Needle. We still had not decided whether or not we were going to actually go up in the Space Needle as we had read many conflicting reviews on whether or not it was worth the price and the wait. When we got there, we saw the winding line that was not only inside the Space Needle but also outside. Needless to say, we made the decision to pass on going up and just snapped a few pictures instead.


Our next destination was the Space Needle’s close neighbor, the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. This museum showcases the work of glassblower and designer Dale Chihuly. The exhibit was both indoor and outdoor and boasted glass of different shapes and vibrant colors. My favorite exhibit was the first one we walked into. It was a dark room with pink, white, and grey blown glass. Lights were set underneath the glass to give it a glow-stick light appearance. Super cool. There were also sculptures outside in the gardens which were also pretty neat. My only wonder though is what they do with the glass outside if it happens to rain or better yet, hail. I guess this is a question I’ll never know the answer to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was time to grab a quick lunch after the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum so we headed across the street to the Subway located in the KOMO Plaza. This is important. Why might you ask? Well, the KOMO Plaza just so happens to be one of the locations that Grey’s Anatomy is shot at. It is a local television studio that Grey’s Anatomy calls home for scenes that involve Grey Sloan Memorial’s helipad shots and some outside shots of the hospital as well. The helipad is easily recognizable as the one from the TV series and they even have SGH permanently etched onto the TV station’s helipad today.

After lunch we visited the EMP Museum, or the Experience Music Project Museum. This museum hosts exhibits devoted to music, sci-fi and horror movies, pop-culture. I had read good reviews of the museum and was excited to go see what all the hype was about. After walking through each exhibit though, I was sadly disappointed by what I saw or rather didn’t see. While there was a lot to look at, it was not what I expected it to be. The museum boasted many science fiction and horror movie props, had a large wing dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, an exploratory music lab aimed at little kids making as much noise as they could at once, and a wearable art exhibit that seemed like the odd man out to everything else in the museum. To me, the best part was seeing Sirius Black’s costume from the Harry Potter movies and the costumes from the Princess Bride. If you are planning on visiting Seattle any time soon, I would advise you to skip the EMP Museum.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On our way back from the Space Needle area, we walked through the Olympic Sculpture Park. While the park itself did not seem to contain as many sculptures as I had thought it would, the view of the ocean was incredible and not something you want to skip.

Later in the evening, I lived the life of Derek Shepherd and rode the ferry boat from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. The ferry boat ride lasted about 35 minutes and had great views of both the Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier off in the distance. When we got to Bainbridge Island, we headed to their cute little downtown area by foot to find a restaurant for dinner. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant, Isla Bonita, just a short walk away from the ferry boat docking area. After dinner, we headed back to the dock to catch the boat back to Seattle. Taking the ferry  to Bainbridge Island was a great low-cost option that boasts great views of Seattle instead of taking a more expensive tour by boat. Highly suggest taking the ferry instead of a boat tour. Plus, Bainbridge Island is a very pretty escape from the busy streets of Seattle.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Over the course of the day, we walked about 10 miles. My Fitbit says 22,788 steps. Wow. A very exhausting day, but we fit a ton of what we wanted to see in so most definitely worth each and every step. Tomorrow we head off bright and early to cross the border and make our way to Vancouver, Canada!


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.


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.


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!


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!



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.


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.

emily edited

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! 🙂 )

IMG_8066 edited

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.


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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sugar Cookie Recipe



  • 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


  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



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


  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.


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 . I adapted this recipe a bit to make it my own and that can be found below.



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


  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.


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

Buttercream Frosting


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


  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.


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.


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.


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


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



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.


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

4th of july.JPG

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!


Why a blog-

Social media is great. One can do a lot with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Each social media platform has their pros, their strengths, but none allows you to fully elaborate an idea in paragraphs while adding photos in an environment completely dedicated to doing such a thing. A blog does. Because of this, I created mostlymotto as a place to contain everything that my multiple social media platforms normally do-and more. Here, at mostlymotto, I can expand upon my ideas while also creating a place to showcase my writing and photography. mostlymotto serves as a digital folder for my ideas, crafts, baked goods, tips and tricks, and travel experiences in a written manner. 

Baking and painting canvases are activities I love to do in my free time. Whether it is experimenting with a new recipe or painting a quote I saw on Pinterest on a canvas, I like to showcase my work. Instagram allows me to do so. Instagram does not allow me to talk in depth about the process, the inspiration, and what may have gone wrong.

When I first started college, I found myself constantly scrolling through Pinterest pinning everything that had to do with college, dorm rooms, and study tips. I then discovered that most of those pins came from different blogs. Some were solely dedicated to college tips, others were lifestyle blogs or fashion blogs. When creating my blog I had to contemplate which of these categories my blog would fall under. I plan on sharing blog posts about crafting, baking, music, travel, college, fashion, photography, and anything else that happens to occur in my life. My hope is that at least one of these topics will be of interest to you and that you will continue to come back and read what I have to share.