“Vacation, All I Ever Wanted”

By: Emma Faulkner

This past week Dylan and I got in the car with our favorite drinks from Blackberry Market (The best little spot in Glen Ellyn, IL) and headed out to Door County, Wisconsin. Door County is located at the tippy top of Wisconsin – it’s a peninsula right between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Dylan’s family has vacationed there for many, many years and it’s like a home away from home to them! They even have a condo there called the Rosio Condo which they rent on vrbo if you’re looking to experience this little slice of heaven yourself!

The first few days were full of views, sunsets and beach days. We stayed and spent most of our time in Sister Bay. Sister Bay has a little beach you can easily access and we did lots of swimming and kayaking. We also did some exploring of different towns, found some fun coffee spots, got yummy smoked fish, matching souvenirs and checked out the local pottery. Door County is known for its sailing and my favorite thing to see was all the sailboats on the water at sunset!

On Tuesday, we experienced a Door County treasure…the Fish Boil. The fish and potatoes are prepared in a cast-iron kettle and when the fish is fully cooked the oils rise up to the top, add a little kerosene and the flames create a boil over. It is a fun thing to watch and be apart of and it’s such a fun tradition in Door County. My favorite part is all the melted butter they serve with your fish and potatoes. YUM.

By Thursday everyone had made it to Door County, Dylan is one of five and four of the five siblings brought their “special friends” as Dylan’s dad calls us. In total there were thirteen of us and a little one on the way! Dylan’s sister is pregnant and it was so fun to spend time with the mama to be! We spent time on the boat together and enjoyed a big family dinner at Fred and Fuzzy’s – a fun little restaurant on the water which I highly recommend if you’re ever in the area. We drank cherry margaritas enjoyed delicious food and took lots of family photos.

An evening at the Northern Sky Theatre up in the woods surrounded by nature and theatre, I loved it!

We ended our vacation in Milwaukee at the Cubs game. This has become a new tradition on our last day of vacation. We spontaneously started it last year in Chicago and it just so happened that the cubs were playing the same day we were driving through Milwaukee, so how could we not? It was a hot sweaty and fun end to the trip. I am so grateful for Dylan and his family and the joy, love, laughter, and spontaneity they surround me with!

Weekend Recap…Newsies!

By: Emma Faulkner

Emma here! Back to reality after 4 weeks of summer camp putting on Disney’s Newsies the Musical with the craziest, silliest and most wonderful group of kids.

Our little Newsies family dressed up for a Disney theme day at camp!

This show was produced by a company called Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids with locations in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. They offer multi-week summer camps culminating in a full-length musical performance at the end. Sounds crazy, but somehow with the magic of theatre we always put on an incredible show.

I stage-managed this production and worked alongside some incredible creative adults who kept me sane and made this crazy process the best it could be. They were especially when I sprained my ankle the weekend before the show–the worst timing for a job which requires me to be on my feet! Luckily I got a walking boot, which was my savior and I highly recommend it for anyone with a sprained ankle; it supports you and gives you the freedom to walk around (Walking boot plug over).

My cute fans! Dylan and his sisters Hunter and Taylor!

We opened the show Friday night and had a sold out show with a packed house. The audience was so eager and excited to see all the hard work their children and loved ones had put into this show. A few of my favorite fans were there to see the show and support me! The company even made a photo booth with a newspaper background and newsboy props and costume pieces to go along with the Newsie theme. So cute!

The show was in Boulder and I’m based in Denver. This was the perfect excuse to make a little staycation out of the weekend. Dylan and I found a fun little hotel in Boulder and stayed there for the weekend. We got up on Saturday morning and had a delicious buffet style breakfast with his (orange juice) and hers (coffee with cream and sugar) breakfast beverages and warm cinnamon rolls we both enjoyed! I was full and energized for the double show day! We loved our stay so much we spontaneously decided to add another night and stayed Saturday night as well. I loved being five minutes away from the theatre and waking up to a beautiful view of the mountains!

Sunday we had one final show! It was so fun to watch these little ones do their thing. This show was a big undertaking and these forty nine students stepped up and put on a really fun show. I am so proud of each and everyone of them! They memorized all their lines, choreography and music in just four weeks. We had four shows in three days and it’s safe to say we all slept well last night. This was my last show with this company. I have been with them for two years and it was a very fun note to end on. Bravo to all these kiddos, all the parents who supported and the staff who stuck through it all. I am lucky to have shared in this experience!

Being the stage manager I had to wear all black for all the shows, It’s what the technical crew wears in theatre! Here a couple of cute things I found at Old Navy for my backstage wardrobe!

Weekend Recap From Denver to LA

By: Emma Faulkner

Hi all! Emma here with a special Memorial Day weekend recap. I decided to go ahead and make my long weekend a little longer by heading home to Long Beach, California on Wednesday night. Because… treat yo self! My cousin and roommate, Frances, and I traveled to go visit my parents in California.  

When I visit home, I make sure to stop at all my favorite places and even try some new ones. We decided to start off the weekend with a delicious lunch at one of our go to spots Belmont Brewing Company right on the water in Long Beach. My mom, Frances, and I continued the ocean-side fun later that day with drinks at Ballast Point. My beer of choice was The Sour Wench Blackberry Ale which is by far the prettiest beer I have ever had.

I continued my food tour on Friday trying some new places. I am very much a can’t do anything without coffee in my system kind of gal, and always on the lookout for fun new coffee shops. My dad and I had a coffee date at Lord Windsor coffee shop in Long Beach. We shared scones and stories and I had the most delicious oat milk latte. Later that evening we ventured down to Santa Monica and got happy hour drinks at a rooftop bar called ONYX. This bar sits atop the historic Shangri-La hotel right across the street from the beach. Safe to say I think I have found some new favorite spots to visit.

I had the pleasure of attending the Ben Platt concert at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Friday May 24th and this may or may not be the real reason we were visiting. Ben Platt has quite the voice, he can hit notes that make my head hurt just thinking about them. He is incredibly talented but I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere he created. I was in the very back row but felt so pulled in and a part of everything that was happening. We danced, we cried, we wondered how Ben Platt is single, and we confirmed he is a gift from God. He shared stories and gave hope and encouraged us all to strive to be our most authentic self. He talked openly about his journey, his anxiety, his sexuality, his family, and his faith. These are the themes that are so beautifully strung through his music, and as he sang and shared, a sense of comradery filled the room. Everyone could relate to him in some way and for me it was through his song ” In Case You Don’t Live Forever” which struck a chord in my heart as I looked down through my new teal vans and heard the lyrics “I have a hero whenever I need one, I just look up to you and I see one” I thought of my little sister cousin and how she too created a world for everyone to feel welcome, to connect.

After a lovely relaxing few days with family and friends I waved goodbye to gorgeous Southern California and the ocean and headed back to Denver.

Memorial Day is typically a day off people take to relax, well we did the opposite. We gathered 11 runners to participate in the Bolder Boulder which is a Memorial Day 10K that takes place in Boulder, Colorado. We ran for #MilesforMollie sharing in something she loved and challenging ourselves at the same time. It was definitely a challenge and at times a literal uphill battle. My boyfriend Dylan and I ran as best we could but at the same time stopped and engaged with the live bands and race-watchers handing out Doritos to runners. We even saw Elvis and a Pirate! We wanted to take it all in, running, sharing kindness, and having a good ole time just as Mollie would’ve. I didn’t think I could cross the finish line, but I did! When I crossed I saw my family cheering me on in the bleachers and I was overwhelmed with joy and relief. I think we should all do something that scares us, challenges us, do something because someone inspired you to do it.

After a jam packed 5 day weekend of good food and good company I am going to rest my noodle legs!

Jammin’ Into June

By: Emma Faulkner

Happy Friday Junior friends! We’re almost to the weekend! To summer! I have been looking for some motivation to get me through these busy work days which consist of 5% work and 95% dreaming of being poolside or at a backyard BBQ. I can taste the watermelon and the banana boat on my lips. One way I’m prepping and getting in the mood is through music! Music is always my go to from a pump up jam to a good cry jam. I have created a Spotify playlist called Jammin’ into June to help you do just that. So roll down those windows, get yourself and ice cold la croix or simply gather the troops for a backyard dance party!

Jonas Brothers

I started this playlist strong, after a 6 year hiatus the Jonas Brothers have spontaneously reunited and made all of my 12 year old dreams come true. They have re-emerged with some incredible pump up jams that have me dancing in the car, shower, kitchen…you name it! I have included both “Sucker” and “Cool” on this playlist. They have a full album coming out June 7th and called “Happiness Begins” que so many dance parties. You will instantly enjoy these catchy songs whether your walls were covered in Jo-Bro posters and you had homemade puffy paint concert t-shirts (guilty) or you are experiencing the Jo-Bro fever for the first time.

Spoiler alert! I’m seeing him in concert, I’ll be sharing al the details in my weekend recap May 27th!

Next up, Ben Platt “Share Your Address” from his new album “Sing to me Instead”. You May recognize Ben Platt as the adorable face of Benji from the Pitch Perfect movies. Some of you fellow theatre nerds may know from his incredible performance as Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen. This wonderful human has released an album of his own which is heartfelt, honest, and includes a few fun upbeat jams I’ve included on the playlist. Ben, your voice is truly like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.

Wild Rivers

My third song on the playlist is “A Week Ago” this is a song from a Toronto based Indie-Folk Band called Wild Rivers. These guys have quickly become my favorite band and I want the whole world to know about them! Their first album is my go to adventure soundtrack; I’ve listened to them on my many treks through the beautiful Rocky Mountains. My boyfriend Dylan and I have even spontaneously sung their songs fireside with his family! They are just so catchy!

Here are my sister-cousins favs from the playlist!

  • Annie’s Picks:
    • If I Can’t Have You- Shawn Mendes
    • Shotgun – George Ezra
  • Emily’s Picks:
    • Fire – Sara Bareilles
    • Missing You – Ingrid Michaelson
    • Level Up – Ciara (my workout jam!)
  • Nicole’s Picks:
    • ME! – Taylor Swift feat. Brandon Urie of Panic! At the Disco
    • I Don’t Care – Ed Sheeran w/ Justin Bieber

Get Groovin!

Grad Gift Baskets

By: Emma Faulkner

It’s that busy time of year again, the sun comes back out and our calendars fill with events. If you’re like me, you’ve got back-to-back graduations in the upcoming weekends! You may be scrambling to think of a gift for the grad in your life and while it is easy to stuff some money into a cute grad card, I have shamelessly been there, no fear! I am here to help you with a cute and fun way to surprise that soon to be grad in your life!

Grad Baskets! I have two wonderful roommates who have just graduated from Regis University in Colorado! Yay Roomies! Congrats! I wanted to get something cute for them with things that suit their personalities and that they’ll enjoy and use.

I found all of these items at Target! Most of the little items I found in the bullseye’s playground section including fun and silly pencil socks, small candles and grad balloons. They have seasonal stuff out now and it’s right there when you walk in. I also found clearance paper shred to fill the baskets. My roomates love candles and silly socks, which is why I picked these items for them. The fun thing about these baskets is you can fill them with anything your grad loves and you can pick everything up on your next Target run!

A big congratulations to all you graduates out there. YOU DID IT!

Getting Active with Aaptiv!

By: Emma Faulkner

Exercise. That dreaded “to-do” that somehow always gets shoved to the bottom of my list. I have had a long love/ hate relationship with exercise in my life. If you are like me, going to the gym is a personal nightmare. In the past, I had absolutely no idea what to do and every machine scared me. When I finally gained enough confidence to try something, I became aware of the people around me noticing how lost and confused I looked. So I would mosey on over to the elliptical, unwilling to try anything else. I’ve had ups and downs in my personal fitness journey, I’ve tried various gyms, workout programs, and trainers. Nothing worked and it all seemed either too personal or too impersonal. About a month ago I came across an app called aaptiv, and it’s been a game changer. This app provides me with not only the guidance I need to get a full work out but the tools to keep me motivated.

When you open the app you are given choices for your workout which vary from strength-training to elliptical to yoga and meditation. They also vary in skill level, duration, trainer, and music genre. All workouts are audio-led, with music backing the trainer and in some, there are short video clips to give you an example of what the exercises look like. This is extremely helpful for someone like me who knows little to nothing about how to properly exercise. You can also choose a multi-week program with day-to-day workouts to help with a specific goals such as cross-training for a 5K or exercise for weight loss.

Another reason this app is great is because this isn’t something that needs to be paired with a gym membership. You can get in a good workout from the comfort of your home. When I don’t feel like leaving my house I grab my yoga mat, JAM wireless headphones, ThermoFlask bottle, and my phone and I’m set. I have found myself trying new things like yoga and and strength-training because it’s so easy and accessible.

A Britney Spears throwback themed workout what more could you want?!

I start my workouts strong, but just as my motivation begins to fade and the voice in my head says, “please stop, everything hurts,” a friendly voice in my ear guides me and motivates me to keep going. This guidance and motivation is something I need to be consistent about working out and it really pays off. I have also found that it’s easier to push myself to grow, run more, work harder, and not give up. I am working out at least three to four times a week, alternating between at-home and in-gym workouts. I have learned that setting goals and achieving them is empowering. I have become a more energized and happier person because I feel stronger and healthier than I have ever been. I highly recommend this to anyone who is hesitant about working out or feeling stuck in their current fitness plan.