Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My first trip to Door County

Wisconsinites love talking about Door County. It's a popular vacation spot known for beautiful scenery, an abundance of cherries, and an infamous Swedish restaurant with goats on its roof.

In honor of my 28th birthday on April 13th, Melissa and I decided to have our first Door County experience. Being there in the off season meant that some businesses were closed and the goats weren't on the roof yet (bummer!), but it also meant no traffic and an amazing deal on a room at the Edgewater Resort in Ephraim, which had this amazing view (as always, please click the photos for a larger view):


We spent Saturday exploring Peninsula State Park, which offered up some great photo ops:





And after a day of exploration, Sunday was all about horses (avid blog readers will note that I love barnyard animals). 

We made an appointment for a trail ride with Kurtz Corral.

Super cute barn!
Melissa is an experienced rider, while I'm a total rookie (unless the ponies at my 5th birthday party count). Because of our different experience levels, Melissa rode a vibrant young horse and I rode an apathetic, middle-aged horse.

Melissa's horse, Shadow.

My horse, Goldilocks.
Climbing on top of Goldilocks was a challenge, but I made it!

Goldilocks was very patient.
Ready to go!
We hit the trail with our guide, Kayla.

Goldilocks preferred to stay at the back of the group.
I really wanted video documentation of the event. We got a short video in before Goldilocks staged a small protest.

video

We got back on track and had a great trail ride, despite getting whacked in the face with a few branches (ah, nature). We made it back to the barn and gave our horses lots of treats.

Goldilocks LOVED her treats.
The horses were great, but my favorite part of Door County was the gorgeous sunset:

Perfection!
We will definitely return to see the goats, as well as all the businesses that don't open until May. Until next time, Door County!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Turkey traffic jam: a story in photos.

I heard the stories and saw the photos, but we never crossed paths until today. That's right: I finally encountered the famed urban turkeys of Madison, WI. My fascination started when my friend Scott (he lives under a mile away) took a photo of them in his front yard. It was then that I knew I needed to meet the turkeys, take a turkey selfie, and write about these unique feathered friends.

Today's turkey selfie.
Madison's turkeys are city-dwelling birds who freely (and at times irreverently) roam streets and neighborhoods. My friend Elysha recently saw them chase her mailman. It's a feisty bunch.

Through the Turkeys of Madison, WI Facebook group, I watched their travels and learned about their favorite local places. It was in this group where I learned that the turkeys are fond of the drive thru at the Schenk's Corners branch of Monona State Bank. When I passed the bank on my way home today, there they were: the fab 4 in all their glory.

I wasn't the only person who stopped to photograph the birds. I may have been the only one to take 34 photos, though. I'll take you through some highlights (click photos to enlarge):

The fab 4 took a leisurely walk to the bank drive thru.
They did some preening, strutting, and fluffing.
There wasn't enough excitement at the bank, so they headed into the street. 
An ambulance came and they refused to move. Sirens and horns meant nothing to the turkeys. 
Then, the traffic came. 
And the traffic stopped.
And a kind civilian shooed the turkeys out of the way. 
Nice guy. All the turkeys made it safely to the sidewalk.
As I walked back to my car, the turkeys returned to the street and blocked a bus. They refused to move, so the bus had to back up and go around them. Turkeys own the neighborhood!

I really couldn't have asked for a better first turkey encounter. Hopefully I will see them more often, take more photos with them, and capture video footage of local gobbling. This city is weird.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Madison's best kept secret is a bar.

I must start by saying that is my 100th blog post! Hot damn.

When I was little, two friends and I had a secret club. We held meetings in a shed, took notes, tracked our money, and didn't tell anyone about it.

I think I've found adulthood's answer to the secret club: an under-the-radar bar in a quasi industrial wasteland in Madison. Meet the Old Sugar Distillery: a nondescript bar a few blocks from downtown. Signage is small, hours are limited (Thursday-Saturday), and the surroundings are fellow nondescript buildings. Offices? Factories? Haven't figured it out yet, but that place where a lot of buses park is within sight. The bar itself can be tough to spot, but it's worth discovering.

It's a small local business at its finest. All of the Old Sugar Distillery's liquors are made in-house and aged in Minnesota oak barrels, which line the bar like low-key wallpaper:
Booze barrels!
The atmosphere is friendly and the drinks are top notch. My favorite is the Honey Cap: muddled lime, honey, lime juice, soda water, and the in-house honey liqueur.
My honey cap: perfection!
It's everything I want in a bar, really: a delicious drink menu, locally made snacks, and a mellow place to have a good conversation. The 3-day-a-week exclusivity just makes it more special. It's my secret club, and I like it that way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Feeding the addiction: my first trip to The Crafty Fair.

I have lived in Madison for 3.5 years, and it took me just that long to discover that there's an annual craft fair in my neighborhood. Seriously? Seriously.

On Sunday, I made the first of what will likely be an annual November trip to the Goodman Community Center to check out The Crafty Fair. As a craft addict, it was pure heaven. Football game? Don't need it. Two rooms filled with crafts, crafts, and more crafts is my idea of a rocking weekend.

Earring display paired with hand-knit accessories.
I love a good mannequin head.
If you've been wanting to truly drop an F-bomb, now is your chance.
It was a great place to meet local crafters, including Milwaukee-based Plushzilla (makers of the clever F-bombs above). In a room surrounded by local, handmade goodies, it was really tough to nail down a purchase.

My friend Elysha went for this Wisconsin-shaped cutting board. 

Love at first sight: I took home this gorgeous print.
I swoon when an impulse purchase matches my bedroom.
Browsing through handmade jewelry, toys, cosmetics, artwork, soaps, and home decor? Check. The Crafty Fair had it covered. And all less than a mile away from my home! I will never miss it again.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Madison, WI: home of the $1 mimosa.

There: I've come up with a spot-on city slogan.

After living in Madison for 3.5 years, I can vouch that it's definitely a foodie city. And with food, there will always be drinks. I recently discovered Capital Tap Haus, and I must say I'm impressed. Not sure how I missed it, honestly. Located right at the top of State St., this pub offers an impressive variety of local brews and great food to go with it (I'm a sucker for any salad with gorgonzola). 

We were just going in for lunch, but I was immediately enthralled by the chalkboard noting the brunch drink specials: $6 bloody mary, $3 amber, $1 mimosa. Mimosa for a buck!

Nothing says Sunday bliss like a cheap drink.
Capital Tap Haus, you'll be seeing more of me on Sundays.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Eat your veggies: early Fall at the Dane County Farmers' Market.

Hey Madison, it's been a while. I left the country for 2 weeks on an amazing multi-continental adventure (a week in Barcelona, then a week in Israel). The jet lag was rough, and getting back to reality has been harder than I expected. But what better way for me to get back in my groove than to eat some veggies? In Wisconsin, this time of year is all about veggies, veggies, veggies. For me, that means Dane Country Farmers' Market trips and some pretty awesome boxes from my Harmony Valley Farm CSA.

My haul from the market was pretty typical: green onions, napa cabbage, and some gouda from Farmer John's Cheese (Yup, that's the guy whose cow I milked. He told me that she's pregnant. Mazel tov, Faith!). After my shopping, what I discovered downtown that was a fun surprise: a local food fest, including an enormous, stilt-walking corn:

Just hanging at the Wisconsin State Capitol with my new corn friend (and HER corn friend… look at the tiny one in her hand).
I also checked in with the Willy Street Co-Op booth, where I found myself in a bit of a pickle.

I never thought I'd get to say THIS phrase on by blog twice in one year, but…
#pickleselfie.
Once I had my mandatory ridiculous photos taken care of, it was time to head home and pick up the CSA. The most surprising thing in the box was this hairy, curly, finger-like root vegetable:

And the award for ugliest vegetable goes to… celeriac!
My to-do list for the week: figure out how the hell to cook it. I'm thinking soup.

Eat your veggies, folks!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I can pickle that.



As I mentioned earlier on the blog, I have a CSA this summer with Harmony Valley Farm. Every week, the season's best veggies are mine to enjoy (straight from the Viroqua, WI farm to my Near East Side of Madison neighborhood).

Occasionally my CSA box leaves me in a "WTF" moment. Items like collard greens, kale, broccoli rabe, and rainbow chard are things that would never make it into my grocery store cart. But when they arrive with my CSA share, it means I have to get creative. Another peculiar item for me this year was dill. My friend Caitlin recommended refrigerator pickles, so I opted to try my luck.

Success! #pickleselfie
If you would have asked me 4 years ago if I ever thought I'd be living in Wisconsin and pickling things for fun, my answer would have been no. But you know what? My life here is pretty great, and now my life is a little better because I know how to make pickles. And now you can too:

Disclaimer: I don't really cook. I was pretty much winging it. That's why there are no quantities or measurements.

Aviva In Dairyland's Refrigerator Pickles: A Non Recipe
Use a large tupperware container and fill it up with a 2:1 ratio of water and white vinegar. Then, add in sliced cucumbers, a whole bunch of dill, sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Let them sit in the fridge for a few days.

THAT'S IT. See, I told you I don't cook. Happy pickling!