Fun Fall Things To Do On Sunday (Instead Of Watching Football)

I’m on a fantasy football league. I have no idea how this happened, but I am fully in and for some reason I’m getting competitive. I’m currently 4 points ahead. I am not a big sports fan.. especially with football. I’ve tried to watch, and I still just don’t get it; which makes for a very interesting fantasy football team.

But, don’t for a second think that I actually watch these football games.

NOT INTERESTED.

If you are into football, good for you! You probably have a jam-packed Sunday schedule for the next few months and have an excuse to drink beer at 1 pm.

For those of you looking for some fun, fall things to do this month (and into October) that don’t relate to Football, keep reading:

  • Visit an Apple Orchard

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There is nothing more ‘fall welcoming’ than a visit to the apple orchard. Grab some friends or rip your boyfriend/girlfriend away from the football game for a fun-filled day of flannel-wearin’ apple pickin’. You get to pick as many apples as you want straight from the trees. You will never had a crisper, fresh apple in your life. Go for the Honeycrisp variety and thank me later.

If your orchard has a little shop or bakery.. make sure you get the apple cinnamon donuts. They are crazy good and every orchard I’ve ever been to or seen has them. Also, don’t miss out on fresh apple cider.

  • Visit a Nature Preserve or Park

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Find a pretty nature spot near you to explore for the day. With the changing colors of the trees, each and every park is bound to look beautiful towards the end of this month into October. Pack a picnic to stop and lay out underneath the trees and have some lunch. This is the best time of year to take in the true beauty that the earth has to offer.

If you live in the Chicagoland area: Cantigny Park, Morton Arboretum, Silver Springs and Starved Rock are some places to check out.

  • Go DIY Crazy 

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There is no such thing as too much DIY. Get crafty and annoy your roommates or significant other by making whatever Pinterest has to offer. Create your own fall decorations to make you feel at home.

Glittery pumpkins, fall wreaths, banners and fall floral bouquets. Head over to Michael’s or your local craft store, check out deals and start creating.

  • Pumpkin Picking

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Don’t let them tell you it’s too early! We are only given a short period of time where pumpkins are acceptable.. so don’t waste any. Pick a cool, crisp day to head over and pick out some pumpkins perfect for carving.

Much like the apple orchard, most pumpkin patches have some delicious food and drink to make your experience even better.

Spend the rest of the day after deciding what to carve.. and then carving. Decorate the front of your home with your beautiful creation.

  • Candle Making

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DIY candles are much easier than you think and a lot cheaper than $22.50 for one at Bath & Body Works. I made a bath of homemade candles last year that smelled like vanilla and peppermint for the holidays and people were begging me for more!

I will post a tutorial soon on how to make cute, easy candles.

Or, if you know how to already.. spend your Sunday afternoon making a batch.

  • Bake Some Things You Have Pinned

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If you don’t have a ‘Food I Want To Make’ board on Pinterest, I’m judging you. The website is loaded with amazing recipes. Take a few hours to pull together ingredients and make something you’ve been wanting to try.

I made an amazing pumpkin bread recipe which i’ll link below. Seriously so good:

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No matter what you do, make sure you experience fall as it comes, because it definitely doesn’t last long.

Hope you guys enjoyed and try out some of these activities.

-Emily

5 Places You Must Eat Your First Time In Chicago

Chicago is an absolutely amazing city. I’m going to be bias and go as far as saying it’s the best city ever. But, really, if you’ve never been.. put it on your priority travel list. Try to go sometime between May and October or you will be wishing you were anywhere else (unless you love wind and snow).

Here are some things you put on you MUST-EAT list for the next time, or first time, you’re in the 312. These are mostly some cheaper options. They are in the Loop and accessible from any hotel:


  1. Pizza (TOO BROAD TO PICK ONE)

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Even though I’m not a big pizza person (go ahead and boo me, I don’t care) I still have my favorite pizza place in Chicago. It’s pretty much a part of the culture at this point. If you come and don’t try any, I feel bad for you.

There are some major debates as to which place is best, and I don’t think the whole city will ever agree on which one actually is..

Some places often called “the best” in Chicago: Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s and Pizano’s.

Personally. Pizano’s is my favorite.

If you’re not into deep dish, don’t fear… most of these places have amazing thin crust too.

2. Portillo’s

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As if you weren’t already full of pizza, right?

Portillo’s is a Chicago favorite that will make you question any burgers, hot dogs, italian beefs or chicken sandwiches you’ve ever had. Be sure to grab some cheese fries (ahhhmazing) or onion rings with your food too. Absolutely do not forget to grab dessert: their famous chocolate cake.. or the chocolate cake shake.

Basically, you can expect to walk out with around 2,000 calories in your stomach.. but, It is so worth it.

Here’s the best part.. if you fall in love with their Italian beef, they ship it everywhere.

3. Yolk 

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A hidden little gem of breakfast perfection, Yolk has a few locations throughout the city. If you are in need of some quick, delicious breakfast food (with gigantic portions) then this is your place. I’ve never been disappointed.

4. Hannah’s Bretzel

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I randomly fell into this place a few years ago and had no idea what it was. It has an almost futuristic appeal outside that can confuse the average passerby. But, this place is a Chicago gem. They offer a highly-organic menu selection of sandwiches, salads and more. Although it’s a tad pricey for a lunch, $10-12 dollars per sandwich, it’s a huge step up from your average Subway.

Menu suggestion: Free range chicken + avocado. LIFE CHANGING.

Also, don’t expect to find Coke products here. It’s only organic pop’s. They’re good, though!

5. Cafecito

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Cuban. Sandwiches. That’s all I need to say. This place is so delicious. It’s not badly priced at all, most sandwiches are between $5-7 dollars.. and they will fill you up. This is a great spot to stop for lunch, and they even offer a full range of Cuban coffees to fill your caffeine craving.

Menu Suggestion: Pavo sandwich. Soooooo good.

Planning A Trip on a College Budget: Tips + Tricks!

Expanding your horizons past your hometown or college campus may seem impossible right now, but, with the right amount of planning ahead, it could be more doable than you think.

First.. here’s a story:

I have a ridiculous ‘need’ to travel (more of a want, but in my heart it’s a need). My entire life i’ve gotten such a thrill out of trips, and even planning trips. I think it’s so important to immerse yourself in other cultures and see as much as you can in your life.

So far, I think I’m doing an okay job. I know I’ve seen more then some people have seen in their entire lives (which makes me incredibly sad).

I have a few trips stored away until I’m done with college: Europe, Asia and various islands. I don’t even want to think about planning those trips until I have the money to see what I want to see and do what I want to do FULLY. I’m not going to fly 13 hours to half-ass it.

But, while I was thinking up all these foreign trips, I realized that there was so much I still haven’t seen in my own country.. THE USA. Despite all the racist, homophobic and politically effed-up stuff happening in America in the moment, it’s a gorgeous country.. and I’ve only seen a very small chunk of it.

My boyfriend and I have decided to travel at the end of May, when school is out, and to make it achievable in terms of budget and planning.

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We are planning a road trip from Chicago –> Toronto –> Niagra Falls –> Upstate New York  –> Bar Harbor, Maine –> Portland, Maine –> Boston –> New York City –> Washington D.C.

That’s 8 locations in around 12-14 days. We at first thought this was insane and impossible to do with the amount of money we have..

Here’s how we planned and made it doable..


Tips + Tricks for Planning a Trip on a College Budget:

*Disclaimer: No trip is ever going to be THAT cheap. You have to spend a little money to have a nice time, this is just how to keep your costs down.

  • Be Realistic: Before even starting to plan, know how much money you can put toward the trip (all people involved). Save that money! If you have to, open a savings account at your bank. If you trust yourself, throw the money in jar and put it in your closet. Another thing you need to be realistic about, if you can’t afford a trip to the outback of Australia (unless you’re in Australia), don’t even make it an option. Don’t choose places that are unachievable; you’ll get there one day!
  • Planes, Trains or Automobiles: Transportation is one of the biggest parts about planning a trip.. I mean you do have to GET THERE after all..

 If you are planning to go to one central location, I would 100% recommend taking a plane; it’s mostly painless and gets you where you wanna go quickly. For airfare, I suggest checking TONS of sites and playing around with dates as much as you can to find the BEST deal (www.cheapoair.com has some good deals).

If you want to go to several locations, as long as they’re in your country, a road trip may be the best option. There are some real downsides to this option, unfortunately. If you are under the age of 25, renting a car is possible.. but ridiculously expensive. If you take that price plus the price of all the gas you’re going to use, it’s not a smart option. If you have a car or someone has a car you can use, use it. Be sure to plan for the gas you will use the whole trip. There is an awesome site for people planning a road trip.. roadtrippers.com allows you to completely map out your trip (and includes attractions and places to see along the way) and calculates your gas expenses depending on where you want to stop. I’ve been using it and it’s awesome.

– The train is also a perfectly good option. Amtrak hits a ton of major cities all over the  country. This is great if you have a fear of flying, and even if you don’t you can sometimes find better deals on train tickets versus plane tickets. Of course, there are some bad things about this option. It will take you WAAAAY longer to get where you’re going. Usually, the prices aren’t that much better than flying.. especially if you find a great flight.

  • Lodging: Hotels can be crazy expensive; I’m talking upwards of $200 a night in major cities. If you are on a college budget, this is a big no-no! But, that doesn’t mean you have no options of places to stay:

– AirBNB: I cannot hype up AirBNB enough. It’s an online site, and app, that allows you to book either a whole home or private room in people’s private residences (sounds creepy, but it’s a big thing now). You can find some insanely great prices. I, for example, found places for around $30 a night for my trip. Some of the places do require a minimum night stay (usually 2 nights, if they do).. which could be a problem for some people. Most of these places are really, really nice too! Check out their website: www.airbnb.com

– Hostels: I’m not totally sure about the quality or safety of these places, cause some of them can be kind of grimey, but, if you need a cheap place to stay these will definitely do.

– Camping: Nothing wrong with roughing it. If your location makes camping doable, go for it! There are tons of campsites that only charge like $20 a night (so cheap).

  • Other Costs: 

– Food isn’t free: There are cheap ways to do it. Eat in your hotel, bring snacks, find a place with free breakfast to stay at, but at the end of the day.. you’re going to have to eat. Food is a big part of some cities, so make sure to try it all out. Think out how much you want to allow yourself each day for food (realistically) and then add up the meals per day and how many days you’re there.

– Things to do: If you are a great tourist, like me, you probably want to do some interesting things the town/city has to offer. Allow yourself some extra cash for some stuff to do. You don’t have to go crazy, but some fun is needed.


Planning a trip can be tedious and hard, but if you give yourself enough time, anything is possible.

Start now!

-Emily

Week in Boulder Junction, WI

So it was time that I, Emily, the city-dweller (and surrounding suburbs) venture out and expand my horizons to THE WILDERNESS OF AMERICA. Okay.. fine.. I wasn’t completely off-the-grid, but I did find myself all the way at the top of Wisconsin in the North Woods region with my boyfriend for a week.

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive going in. I have a hard time with all living bugs and insects.. specifically bees, wasps, spiders, mosquitos, ticks and everything else. I knew that these things were going to be there in SWARMS but I toughened up, packed my suitcase and hit the road.

Six hours later we arrived at a small, adorable cabin in Boulder Junction, WI that we rented which luckily ended up looking better then the pictures. It was right on a beautiful lake. I am still dealing with the separation anxiety of my sweet second home. Here’s a picture of the living area inside:

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I had my first-time fishing adventure and ended up catching several fish on my pink sparkly pole. We spent our nights out on the water and would boat around until the sunset.

I was hit with a bit of a culture shock when we started going to the restaurants in town. I had been out of town several times before and nothing was like here. The walls were covered in taxidermy animals (and for my animal activist self this was very hard to see) and the decor was like a 1970s grandma basement. Basically, there was no glitz or glamour but each place did have some charm and the views made up for what they lacked in style. As for the food, I was not overly impressed when dinner time came. When it comes to meat I only eat chicken and these places were only into cooking fish and red meat. However I SURVIVED just not happily.

On our third day, we drove into a nearby town called Minoqua for some shopping but on our way I noticed a small cabin coffee shop and demanded that we stop on our way back. I have to admit this was the best decision we made the whole trip. Little Creek Coffee Company in Arbor Vitae, WI deserves all the awards. Not only do they offer tons of coffee drinks and teas BUT THEY HAVE A BREAKFAST AND LUNCH MENU. We came here three total times during our 6 day stay. WE WERE OBSESSED. Their iced chai tea latte was to die for and I can’t stop thinking about their turkey and avocado sandwich and homemade soups HELP ME. We enjoyed sitting on their outdoor tables overlooking the lake and we even spotted some baby deers running around. It was magical. Bambi had come to life. The pics below are us hanging out there:

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There is no way I can go through this post without mentioning the most amazing ice cream place ever.. Mad Dog Jakes in Boulder Junction is super great. We went twice during our trip (WE ARE REPEATERS IF WE LIKE YOU). The first time I got the best super chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had and the second time I got blueberry cheesecake and wow it was out of bounds. FLAVOR TOWN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. If you are ever in these parts you better stop there and get a scoop.. maybe even two.

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Halfway through our trip on a kind of gloomy day (or so we thought) we took a day-trip to Hayward, Wisconsin to the Wilderness Walk. This essentially was a mix between the coolest petting zoo ever and an exotic animal zoo. The 2-Hour drive was worth it even though it was painful after already driving 6 hours just a few days before.  I normally hate zoos but these animals were all saved from injury and could have died without their help. The admission fee was a little steep but once we walked in we knew it was worth it. The first thing I saw was a GIANT LOP BUNNY free to pet and love. I was obsessed with him. This is when I knew this place was great.

We continued on through the day petting various animals and letting them eat corn-filled ice cream cones.. even a giant camel. My favorites were the baby goats that were roaming free throughout the Walk and the baby fawns that stole my heart. It was amazing and I 10/10 recommend. Here we are having fun below:

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A few days later we went to a lumberjack show and watched some ripped guys chop wood.. it was torture I could barely watch wink wink wink wink. Tom kept thinking i was into them and I totally wasn’t. It was actually super interesting though and we witnessed them climb up a 60-ft tree stump and try to not die. I have to give some credit to the 40 year old male in the denim jacket who was in the audience for his hilarious commentary during the entire show. Also, some credit is due to the ENTIRE JOHNSON FAMILY REUNION for creating several obstacles in parking and getting into the show.. but your matching shirts were cool.

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After the show we went out to Eagle River, Wisconsin to visit Tremblay’s Sweet Shop for some delicious fudge because I am an addict to anything chocolate. 45-Minutes later we arrived to the rude employees of the shop who barely spoke 2 words to us and didn’t even respond to our simple hello. Despite their awful service we got some delicious fudge, pretzels and cashew clusters. We also adventured around the town for a few minutes and checked out some shops.

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The next few days were our last and we were filling up our time as much as we could. We decided a fun thing to do for our last day would be to rent some mountain bikes and go for a nice long ride. We embarked on our 3 mile ride to a nearby lake where we stayed and layed on the beach for a few hours. It was beautiful and peaceful. Somehow Tom didn’t burn even though he’s paler than paper. I went in the water but was quickly freaked out by crawfish swimming on the bottom on the lake. I don’t do well with bugs or bug-like things (i know its a fish or something shh). It was a little bit difficult to get ourselves back on the bikes after hours of being lazy but we did and battled the uphill trail all the way back to town.

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I had a great trip and this is just the highlights of what we did. There was so much more to remember and it was an amazing time for Tom and I. I would love to go back again sometime and explore other places as well. My travel bug has been fulfilled for now.

I’m Alive?

Hello friendly followers and newcomers,

I thought I’d give a little update on my life since i’ve been completely MIA for weeks. First of all, I’ve been thinking of tons of new posts that I will have coming up that I am so excited about.. SO STAY TUNED. Secondly, I have been neglecting this precious page because of college. The last few weeks were insane but now the semester has finally come to a close and I am ready to enjoy the summer. I will be posting so MUCH because summer is my time to shine.

I am in the process of planning a summer road trip to Tybee Island, Georgia.. and honestly it’s harder than it sounds trying to get 4 college students with low-paying jobs to have a decent getaway. If it all comes together expect several posts about the trip (which should happen towards the end of July).

Also, something exciting happened a few days ago. My boyfriend got a NEW PUPPY. It’s a baby black lab and it’s the cutest damn thing to ever walk this earth. Her name is Daisy and I’m obsessed with her.

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So those are the new cool things happening in my life.

Sorry for abandoning you all,

XOXO EMILY.

Do I Attract Creeps (and other concerns from being in the city)?

Just a typical Monday and I survived my long morning commute to Chicago via train. The music in my earphones drowned out the chatter of people arguing with the conductors about why they don’t have a ticket (this happens every time).

I grabbed a black coffee to wake me up from the corner bakery outside Union Station as I waited for my Uber. My first uber cancelled on me (I couldn’t believe it) and I was eventually picked up by Jayc, my very kind driver. He was concerned about my drop off point saying “we gon’ get jumped over there”.

I finished my slow, dragging class and went into my usual panera to sit, not eat, and use their Wifi: The joys of being a part of the technological generation. I was approached at my quiet little table by a boy who asked to sit with me. I passively agreed and looked back at my tablet… But then, of course, he wanted to talk.

I guess I can’t accept friendliness as friendliness in a world where a guy talking to a girl often ends in them asking for your number. He wanted to know everything about my college experience. I just wanted to bask in my loneliness.  Does this make me a cold-hearted wench? I’m not sure.

Additionally, during my panera trip, a homeless man quietly ventured through the restaurant asking for money and food. I have neither so I did the traditional bitchy Chicago thing and ignored him.

During my last year, when I used to actually live downtown, I was involved in some sketchy situations. I was an innocent bystander in a 7/11 hold up. I had a presumably mentally ill man whisper in my ear “y’all gon die” referring to my friend and I; not the most comforting message at 3 am on the CTA. I had a “rapper” come up to my roommate Taylor and I offering us some Patron. I had an insane boy try to kill me because I didn’t want to date him (after one day of meeting him).

Each day downtown provides you with some incredibly interesting stories. There is always something happening and there’s nothing better than fearing for your life sometimes, right?