First Day of School

Well, today was the dreaded first day of school. After 12 weeks of summer vacation I definitely wasn’t ready to get back into the “school mode.” Overall though, the first day of 8th grade wasn’t terrible.

I’m a mentor at my school for the 5th graders (since they are the youngest.) We started off the day but helping them with there lockers and such.

From there I headed to the 8th grade meeting, where we have to go over behaviour expectations and rules about our computers.

After all the meetings we went to our first hour class. I have science first hour, and we went over the syllabus most of the class. Then we worked on a worksheet that told our science teacher about our strengths and weaknesses.

In my 2nd hour French we went over the syllabus and then we talked for the rest of class. (We’re pretty good at getting off task.)

During 3rd hour I have social studies and of course I’m in the back row like always. Once again we went over the syllabus and then we worked on a project telling our teacher about our favourite things.

In 4th hour I had study hall. I decided to go organize my locker and my binder since they was nothing better to do.

5th hour I have reading class with one of my old 5th grade teachers. We worked on an assignment called Textual Lineage. We talked about how we learned to read over the years.

6th hour we had recess. It was 90 degrees out! We also have lunch during the second half of 6th hour. We had assigned lunch tables and we had to sit with our homeroom.

7th hour I have english class. In English we went around introducing ourselves and making name tags.

8th hour was math class. My math teacher is leaving for Bulgaria in a few days so we won’t have her the first few weeks of school.

Finally 9th hour came. I have gym class 9th hour and today we opened our gym lockers and went over rules and expectations.

Overall, today was pretty good except for the fact that teachers seem to love syllabuses and that it was super hot in our non- air conditioned school.

~ Mara


August Adventures

Over the last week, I’ve been going around some cool towns in the states of Wisconsin and Illinois. Enjoy!

Johnson Creek

Johnson Creek is a smaller town, not far outside of Madison. We visited the Outlets of Johnson Creek. Some of the outlets include the Lindt Lindor Store, Crocs, Adidas, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. Our first stop was at the Adidas outlet. I’ve never seen so many shoes in my life! Next, we went to the Lindt Lindor store. They had every possible flavour from pumpkin spice to mangos & cream. We also visited the Banana Republic and Crocs outlets. After our shopping spree, we went to Pinecone Plaza. Pinecone Plaza is a truck stop in Johnson Creek with some really good food. The desserts are gigantic!

Adidas Outlet


Lindt Lindors!


The gigantic cream puffs

Port Washington

We visited Port Washington on August 24th. Port Washington is about 30 miles north of downtown Milwaukee. It’s a beautiful town on Lake Michigan. We had lunch at a delicious lunch at the Twisted Willow restaurant. I got the four cheese caesar salad and my mom got the salmon salad. Both were amazing!

After lunch, we went to the docks and saw the waves crash really high. It was a super windy day and our hair got pretty messed up. Then we walked a bunch of stairs up to a lighthouse. We took a tour of the lighthouse, which was very neat. After our lighthouse tour, we went to the Daily Baking Company. I got a delicious Boston Cream Donut.

Salmon Salad


Four Cheese Caesar Salad

The Lighthouse


Top of the Lighthouse

Boston Cream Donut


Not long after we visited Port Washington it rained a ton in Wisconsin. There were mudslides and almost 17 tornadoes in the span of a couple days. There was flooding in western, central, and southeastern Wisconsin. We visited the town of Thiensville and got a look at the flooding for ourselves




We saw more flooding when we went up to Grafton. We also got some Starbuck’s because why not?


One day we went to the Shalom Wildlife Center up in Farmington, Wisconsin. We saw all sorts of animals! From elk to skunk to bobcats. You are also allowed to purchase corn then feed some of the animals.



Buffalo Herd


Eeyore says hi!


Belgium/Cedar Grove/Oostburg

One day we headed up to Belgium (Wisconsin that is.) It was definitely very rural. The best part I think was that there was a sign in Belgium that said: “Welcome to Belgium, home of the Luxemburgers.” From Belgium, we went to Cedar Grove and we even saw a traditional Dutch windmill. In Oostburg, we went to the Oostburg Bakery where we got a cream-filled coffee cake for my mom’s birthday. Yum! I tried a Caramel Cookie Frappe at a local cafe. It was delicious!

Windmill in Cedar Grove


Cream Filled Coffee Cake


Caramel Cookie Frappe



We visited Cedarburg on Saturday. We went to lots of stores and the Cedarburg Arts Mill. The river in Cedarburg was pretty high from all the recent rain.



Moving out of Wisconsin and down to Illinois! This was a highlight of August for sure. On Sunday the 2nd, I went to Chicago with my mom. Our first stop was the Centennial Wheel in Navy Pier. We took a water taxi (right by Union Train Station) to Navy Pier which I highly recommend. For lunch, we went to Eataly. The layout of the store was kind of confusing but we found a restaurant with some amazing ravioli inside the store. It had ricotta and spinach inside and it was amazing!

From Eataly, we headed to the Magnificent Mile. We went to Tiffany & Co, Lush, the American Girl Store, and Watertower Place. It was almost 93 degrees that day (in September!) so we stopped at Starbucks and Millenium Park.

Centennial Wheel

At the top of the wheel

Ravioli at Eataly

Watertower outside of Watertower Place

AG Store

Exhausted in Millenium Park

Thanks for reading this post, everyone. I start school again tomorrow, so no adventures for awhile. I’ll post every once in awhile though! Have a great September!

~ Mara


Naperville: Days 7 and 8

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. I’ve already posted about the first 6 days, and here are the links if you have yet to read those posts. Days 1 and 2, Days 3 and 4, and Days 5 and 6. Enjoy!


Friday morning we spent in the room since it was downpouring outside.

For lunch, we headed to Oak Brook which is 20 miles or so from Downtown Naperville. Once we were in Oak Brook we went to a restaurant called Labriola’s. I got the Strawberry & Kale Salad. Yum!

After lunch, we went to the Oak Brook Center which is a mall! It was outdoors and there was lot’s of cool shops like Lolli&Pops (candy store), Tesla, Altar’d State (clothing store), Davids Tea, Build A Bear, and even an escape room.

The Microsoft Store

Starbucks (with a line out the door)

For dinner that night we went to Ted’s Montana Grill (founded by Ted Turner) and I got the parmesan cauliflower (yum!) and a baked potato. My dad got one of the famous bison burgers.


That night we walked around downtown Naperville and the North Central College Campus. We went to a clothing store called Southern Tide as well.

North Central

Southern Tide

The next morning was our last day in Naperville. I went down to Sparrow Coffee (in our hotel) to get a pastry to go with my breakfast. I got a chocolate croissant.

Sparrow Coffee Interior


Then we walked the riverwalk one last time before heading back home. We saw tons of ducks.

Goodbye, Naperville!



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!