Naperville: Days 5 and 6

Today, I have our Naperville Post about days 5 and 6 in Naperville. Click here for the post about Days 1 and 2 or Days 3 and 4. 


We started off our 5th day in Naperville with some protein at the Starbucks Reserve Bar. We had the Bacon and Gruyere Sous Vide Egg Bites. Yum!

Then we walked all the way to Dunkin’ Donuts on the riverwalk. It had rained so much part of the riverwalk was flooded.

        Flooded Part of the Riverwalk

After our morning riverwalk hike, we went to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. The Morton Arboretum was founded by Joy Morton who owned the famous salt company.

Recently, lot’s of troll statues made out of scrap wood have been erected in 6 different places around the Arboretum. We spent our day hiking and checking off all the troll statues. We even found the Troll Hideout.


That night after lot’s of walking we headed for a rather unhealthy yet satisfying meal at Smashburger. I had the grilled cheese and tater tots. Once we returned to downtown Naperville we headed for David’s Tea and got some teas – to – go and walked along the riverwalk. I got Magic Potion Tea which changes colour.

             Magic Potion Tea

The next morning was my parents 24th anniversary! We had breakfast in the hotel room and then from there we drove to Wheaton and went to the Danada Equestrian Center. We saw tons of horses up close and even Clyde the Cat, who we saw a year ago at Danada.

         Clyde the Cat: August 2018


              Clyde the Cat: August 2017

We had lunch in Wheaton Square at PDQ which specializes in chicken tenders and nuggets. From there, we went to pick up bundlets (tiny bundt cakes) for back in the room, at the store Nothing Bundt Cakes which was also in Wheaton Square. Nothing Bundt Cakes is one of my favourite cake shoppes. I got the red velvet bundlet.

Outside of Nothing Bundt Cakes

That afternoon we went shopping downtown at stores like William Sonoma, Eddie Bauer, and Anderson’s Bookshop.

                    Andersons Bookshop

For dinner, we went to Midici Pizza which is right on the river walk and offers great views. I got a Margherita Pizza, which was pretty good.

            Margherita Pizza 

After dinner, we walked around the campus of North Central College which is in Naperville.

Goodnight, Naperville


Thanks for reading! The next post will be about days 7 and 8.

~ Mara




Naperville: Days 3 and 4

Hi! As promised I’m back with my post about our 3rd and 4th days in Naperville. If you haven’t seen the 1st and 2nd-day post here’s the link.


Our third day in Naperville we once again had breakfast at the hotel before setting out on our day. We hung out in our hotel room for most of the morning since it was raining pretty hard. It cleared up for a bit and we headed out to lunch at Le Pain Quotidian. I got the baker’s breakfast, which came with some amazing soft-boiled eggs!


That afternoon since it was still raining we went to the Hollywood Palms Theatre. I like to call it “Hollywood in the Midwest” since they have a red carpet and everything.

We watched the movie Christopher Robin which was amazing! I highly recommend it, and it’s pretty funny. Since it’s a dine-in theatre I got a dessert called the Willy Wonka Chocolate Cake and they noted in the menu it was an “Augustus Gloop size portion.”

Augustus Gloop Sized Cake

After the movie, we headed to our favourite Naperville grocery store called Standard Market which sells healthier versions of foods. They still have a really cool bakery with some amazing cakes.

Some of the cakes

For dinner it was still raining so we ventured to the nearby Chick-fil-a since there isn’t one close to where we live back home. That night we hung out in the room and I watched Survivor.

The rain from the day had raised the river’s height

It wasn’t raining when we woke up the next morning so we headed to breakfast at the Colonial Cafe. We all got eggs, bacon/sausage, and hash browns. The eggs were very good.

We went on a hike at Pioneer Park which was across the street from Colonial Cafe. It was very pretty and we even saw a heron there.


After, Pioneer Park, we decided to stop at the Starbucks Reserve Bar back in downtown Naperville. I got an iced hazelnut bianco latte. Yum! For lunch, we went to Burrito Parrilla Mexicana. I had guacamole and chips, which was really good.

By this time it has started to rain again so we headed back to the Hollywood Palms and saw Mamma Mia 2. It was a really good movie, but the best part was all the songs. For dinner, we got some food like hummus, chips, cheese, grapes, etc. at Whole Foods and took it back to eat in the room.

Signed Willy Wonka Poster


Thanks for reading about days 3 and 4. Our next post will be about days 5 and 6.

~ Mara



Tofu Bowl: A Healthy Meal Step-by-Step

Hi! It’s Mara and today I have a blog post about one of the recent meals I made for a Girl Scout Badge. Hope you like the post!


For one of the badges as a Cadette, we need to make a recipe from a different part of the world, so I decided to make a tofu bowl which is from Southeast Asia. We used zucchinis, rainbow carrots, and Chinese Cabbage as our main vegetables but you can also use other vegetables like cucumber and broccoli. Here’s the recipe:



Step 1) If you get store-bought tofu it’s almost always kept in water inside the package. So your first step is to pour out the water from the packaging. After all the water is drained out, take out the tofu and place it on a plate/cutting board. From there cut a vertical strip of the tofu off then. Cut that strip horizontally into tofu cubes.

Starting off with a chunk of tofu


Cut a vertical strip of the end


Cut that strip into cubes

Step 2) Cut the rest of the tofu this way. Then take out a plate and place a towel on top of it, then a paper towel on top of that. Place the cubes all onto the paper towel. From there take another paper towel and place on top of the tofu, then another towel. You do this to drain out all the water from the tofu. Then put a heavy pot or pan on top of the last tea towel, and put it in the fridge for 45 – 60 minutes.

Place the cubes on top of a paper towel

Step 3) Wash the zucchini in some water to remove any excess dirt or other debris. Cut off the top and bottom part of the zucchinis and then from there cut the rest of the zucchini into either coins or quarters.

Coin or quarter cuts


Place zucchinis in a bowl


Step 4) You can place the zucchini aside for a while and pull out the rainbow carrots (you can also use normal carrots.) Wash the carrots very well since they’re usually pretty dirty. Then, use a peeler (my favorite kitchen appliance) to peel the outer skin of the carrots. Then cut the carrots into bigger pieces if you’re going to roast them in the oven or smaller pieces if you’re going to stir-fry them.

Before peeled


After peeled


Cutting the purple carrot


Put the carrots in a bowl


Step 5) Take out a head of cabbage. Wash it then cut it in half, since that is usually enough for at least 4 or so people. If you have more people you can use the whole thing, or if you have a bunch of cabbage lovers in your family. Cut thinly around the hard center part of the cabbage and place all the cabbage in a bowl.


The cut cabbage

Step 6) Make the sauce for the stir fry by zesting in some ginger and garlic (optional) then add some soy sauce.

Zesting in the ginger


Sauce once completed


Step 7) Pour some teriyaki sauce in a bowl. The teriyaki can be storebought or homemade. Then take your tofu out of the fridge and place it on a metal pan with some paper on top of it. Then take out a spoon or a basting brush to and brush the teriyaki onto the tofu cubes.

Painting on the teriyaki

The tofu once “painted”



Step 1) Put the tofu in the oven for 30 or so minutes at 375. Every 10 or 15 minutes take out the tofu and paint them with a little more teriyaki sauce.

Step 2) Take out your cut carrots and roast them in the oven for 30 minutes as well. You can also stir fry the carrots if you prefer.

Step 3) Stir fry on together the zucchinis and cabbage, drizzling the sauce you made in Step 6 toward the end.

Stir-frying the zucchinis and cabbage

How To Eat:

For our meal, we had sort of a “Make Your Own Tofu Bowl.” We set out all the toppings along with some rice, and everyone made their own tofu bowl with all the toppings.


Thanks for reading this recipe everyone! It’s one of the more complicated ones I have made, so if you have any questions or comments about it feel free to ask below.

~ Mara

Naperville: Day 1 and 2

Hello! I recently was on a week-long vacation in the town of Naperville which is in the northern part of Illinois, not far from Chicago. Enjoy the post about our first two days.

It was a late Saturday morning when we got in the car on our 2 hour trip to Naperville. Along the way, we passed some cool roadside attractions such as the Mars Cheese Castle in Paris, Wisconsin and Six Flags Amusement Park in Gurnee Mills, Illinois. We stopped for lunch at BibiBop Asian Grill in Schaumburg, Illinois. I had a noodle bowl with purple cabbage, corn, cucumber, tofu, and teriyaki sauce. Yum!

After our lunch, we stopped at Woodfield Mall which is the 12th largest mall in the United States with over 2 million square feet of space!


When we finished exploring Woodfield we got back in the car so we could head the rest of the way to Naperville. There we checked in at the Hotel Indigo located right on Naperville’s iconic river walk.

After checking in we made our way to one of our favourite spots in Naperville. The Starbucks Reserve Bar. The Starbucks Reserve Bar isn’t just a normal Starbucks. The Reserve Bar often is bigger and the baristas serve you instead of you going up to order. They also feature small-lot coffee. There aren’t many in the United States, so it’s was exciting when one came to Naperville.

For dinner on our first night, we went to The Patio in the neighbouring town of Aurora. The Patio features American comfort food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and bbq. Our favourite part about The Patio is the great atmosphere. On cold days there is a fireplace going. When we most recently went it was 95 degrees out, so thankfully they didn’t have it on. That night we walked to the Millenium Carillon built for the year 2000.

Our second morning in Naperville, we had breakfast at the hotel since we woke up late. Then we went to church at the Yellowbox. The Yellowbox is really neat because instead of pews they have comfortable chairs (kind of like in movie theatres) and they even have a smoothie bar! For lunch, we went to one of our favourite sushi restaurants called Sushi + Rotary. Sushi + Rotary features booths and tables along a rotary bar where you can pick out what sushi you want. If you’ve ever been to Yo! Sushi it’s a lot like that. I got the Futo Sushi which has daikon, avocado, cucumber, and egg inside of it. I also had the avocado maki which is basically avocado. That’s my favourite roll of all. For dessert, I had a small slice of green tea cheesecake. Yum!

       Green Tea Cheesecake

After lunch we strolled around in downtown Naperville, visiting some shops on walking on the riverwalk.

For dinner, we went to Ballydoyle Pub in Downers Grove. We always like to go on Sunday night because they feature live Irish music. I thought it was kind of funny we went since we were just at Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland less than a month ago. I got the nachos (no jalapenos, beef, or pico de gallo) and I tried some of the molten brownie as well.



Thanks for reading our first two days in Naperville! Stay tuned for more posts about this trip coming soon!



The Musical

Hi everyone! This week I took a musical camp, and at the end of the week (Friday) we performed Annie. I played Grace Farrell, which is the secretary of Oliver Warbucks, who adopts Annie.

We had a lot of fun during the camp, and strangely enough, we spent a lot of time playing dodgeball and kickball. I had 22 lines and I sang in the songs NYC and Tomorrow (Reprise.) There were 8 scenes altogether and I was in 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8. My favourite song overall was You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile, unfortunately, I wasn’t in that song.

We also had a cast party last night, but only 5 people could come. We went down to the beach, which was really beautiful since it was almost sunset. The party was at a local park, that is located on a beach, with a surrounding forested area.


It was a pretty great week, and we had a lot of fun as a cast. We had to paint all the sets, do all the costumes, and actually perform the play which was a lot of work but it was super exciting.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

1935 Chocolate Chip Cookies

For one of my Girl Scout Badges we had to bake something from the past. I was looking through a Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1950s for ideas when I found the most famous cookie of the late 1930’s, which to no surprise was the Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie. So I decided to make that cookie, because who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies?



2/3 cup shortening (1/3 of it should be margarine/butter)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 package (6 ounces) of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts



  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the shortening (including margarine/butter), granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
  3. Measure the flour by sifting into another bowl. The book adds that you can add 1/4 cup more flour for a softer cookie. Then add the baking soda and salt to the flour. Then blend the dry ingredients mix into the other mix.
  4. Add the nuts and chocolate chips to the batter, and mix them in.
  5. Drop round teaspoonfuls of dough, about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until a little browned.

Things I Did Differently: 

  1. I added the sifted flour, baking soda, and salt to the original mix right away, instead of doing it separately, then adding it in.
  2. I didn’t use nuts in the batter.
  3. Instead of using a KitchenAid, I mixed everything by hand like they would’ve in the 1930’s.


The original recipe


Step 2


Step 2 once mixed


Step 3, sifting the flour


Step 3, once the dry ingredients are added.


Step 3, once the dry ingredients are mixed in


Step 4, adding the chocolate chips


Step 5


  1. If you use Gold Medal Self – Rising Flour then don’t add baking soda or salt.
  2. One batch makes around 4 – 5 dozen 2″ cookies.
  3. You can add crushed peppermint for a Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookie.


Thanks for reading! Check out Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, for more cookies like this!


Our transportation throughout the trip had been really good, up until now. We sat in our seats in the prop plane in the middle of Bristol Airport with no air conditioning. It was 90 degrees in the cabin. It was hot! The plane had decided not to work today, so we had to get off the plane and go back into the airport to wait for it to be fixed. If they couldn’t fix it we would have to wait 5 hours for the next plane to Dublin.

After awhile they called our flight back. The plane was “supposedly” working. 30 minutes we took off, and we flew the hour long flight to Dublin.

We arrived without any more plane issues and we took a taxi to our 3 story townhouse we had rented. It was 9:00 PM by the time we got to dinner. We went to Paulie’s Pizza, I got a Margherita Pizza once again.

The next morning, I was in bed on my phone. Everyone in the house was still sleeping since it was only 6:30. Then a face appeared in the window. It was one of the cats!

There were 6 (I counted) cats that lived around our house. I named them; Dingle (the one that appeared in the window), Larry, Shamrock, Gael, Guinness, and Limerick.

We had breakfast then we headed off. We went to Starbucks, and they had some different things than they did here in the U.S. There were all sorts of different Frappuccinos.

There were all sorts of cool donuts in some of the windows we passed.

We had lunch at the famous Temple Bar, where we all got different types of sandwiches. I got an egg salad sandwich.


Then we went stopped at another bar (to get the Temple Bar neighborhood feel.) My mom and I just got diet cokes.

Our next stop was at the Ha’Penny Bridge.

From there we walked around on the other side of the bridge for awhile. We saw some cool statues along the way.

After that we crossed back over to the south side of Dublin and went back to our house. For dinner we got take out pizza from a local restaurant, we also got salads. I only had a piece of the pizza since I didn’t like how there was so much cheese on it (I’m more of a sauce person.) My dad agreed (he’s a sauce person, too.)

Look who came by at dinner…

That night Larry (his real name is Ginger) came to the downstairs window and tried to get inside for awhile.

The next morning we took the train to Howth which is a fishing village north of Dublin.

We saw a bunch of sea lions in the Irish Sea, which was really neat.

After watching the sea lions for a bit we went to Insomnia Coffee. I decided to embrace the moment and I had a very sugary snack (Candyfloss Hot Cocoa and a Marshmallow Cake.) It was really good.

We saw the Olympic House in Howth which was really neat.

For lunch we went to the Abbey Tavern, I had a salad and my grandma and dad had the salmon.

After lunch we went back to Howth Harbour and walked on top of the break wall for a bit. There were some awesome views from the wall.

A sign in the harbour

On our way back to Dublin we stopped at the Bubble Waffle Factory. Bubble Waffle Cones are like ice cream cones but the cones are made of waffles. My grandma and I tried them. I mostly just ate the top of the waffle cone since it was gigantic!

We stopped at Trinity College before going back to the house. We didn’t see the Book of Kells but we went to the Trinity Gift Shop and got some neat shirts.

That night for dinner my mom, dad, and I walked to a store called Donnybrook Fair where we got some things like potato salad and Caesar salad for dinner. On the way to Donnybrook, we saw Meghan, Harry, and the Prime Minster of Ireland drive past us since they had just gotten to Dublin that night.

Our final day in Dublin we went to explore more of the city. We went to the Famine Memorial that morning, which was really interesting.

We also got to go on the famous ship that brought immigrants from Dublin to places like Quebec and New York City. It was called the Jeanie Johnston.

On our way to lunch we saw Harry and Meghan again, and this time we got a wave from them. For lunch, we stopped at another restaurant in the Temple Bar neighborhood and I had a baked potato with scallion sour cream. Yum!

After that we went on a Viking Tour of Dublin. We went on land and in the water. It was really neat!

For dinner we stopped at a salad restaurant called Chopped. The salads were really good.

I forgot to take salad pictures so this is just a filler..


That night we watched the World Cup semi-finals, unfortunately England didn’t make it into the finals. Unfortunately, the next day was our last day of our 15 day trip in England and Ireland.

We drove to the Dublin Airport, and said our goodbyes as our flight took off.


While we were above Newfoundland in Canada we could see icebergs from 36,000 feet in the air!

Soon, we arrived back in the States. We had an amazing trip, and I can’t wait to go to Europe soon!