Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgivukkah: Bringing Bucky to the Carolinas

Greetings from my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina! Don't worry Wisconsin, I'll be back Sunday.

As I mentioned in my first ever post, Aimee is my BFF. I've known her since the 4th grade, and now we have another cool 4th grader around: her daughter, Isis. I come home for Thanksgiving every year, and my "niece" and I have a tradition of going to a matinee in a nearly empty theater, watching the latest Disney epic, and putting our feet up on the seats. This year, it was Frozen, and I recommend it! The music was great, and the Snow Queen is voiced by the fabulous Idina Menzel.

This year, I'm fortunate enough to be home for Thanksgivukkah:
My family collects menorahs and dreidels.
Oh, and my parents got a new dog:
Hi, I'm Max the Miniature Poodle!
And, for the first time in years, Aimee and I actually got to exchange presents on the first day of Hanukkah. In true Wisconsin fashion, I decided to get all Bucky-d out with gift giving.
This pair is making their Aviva in Dairyland debut. Meet Aimee & Isis!
Aimee got a Wisconsin tank to wear for running, while Isis (a tie-dye enthusiast) got a "Grateful Red" UW volleyball shirt + cow socks. If you're a kid with a Wisconsin auntie, cow socks are a MUST.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bucky Badger owns this town, part 2: a sea of red.

As I've said before, Bucky Badger owns this town. He's everywhere: in stores, on cars, and gracing the packaging of locally made foods.

When my mom and our friend Pat came to visit, they had the privilege of meeting cardboard Bucky at Hilldale Shopping Center:

Wisconsinites love their Bucky, and the Hilldale skeleton greeter shares in the spirit:

Even this ghoulish bag of bones is supporting Bucky with a UW hat.
I live in the land of Bucky and I have gotten used to his constant presence (and hey, red is my favorite color). With that said, after 2.5 years of Madison residency, I should have known better than to drive to the West Side of Madison on the day of UW's homecoming.

I just wanted to go to Trader Joe's. My intentions were honorable.

But instead of a breezy 10-minute ride on a Saturday, I wound up in a 40-minute ride through a sea of red-clad Badger fans.

Badger fans crossing the street and heading for the stadium.
Badger fans tailgating in the parking lot of my doctor's office
(I later found more in the parking lot of my veterinarian's office).
Some may wonder why I didn't just turn around and go home, but here's how I saw it: I'm a busy gal. My weekdays are packed with working full time, skating practice, and still managing to socialize with friends. Saturday afternoon is always errand time for me, and with the sunny 70-degree weather, I was perfectly happy sitting in traffic with the windows down and enjoying some Alt Nation. It was a nice breather, and I found the extreme fandom fascinating. Thankfully I drive a red car, otherwise I would have been very out of place in my black Madonna T-shirt.

Just as I had planned, I made it to Trader Joe's and got my groceries. It just happened to be by way of a leisurely, interesting drive.

My friend Michal is a huge Bucky fan and she snapped a great shot from Camp Randall Stadium:

100 yards surrounded by red, red, red. 
Although I don't follow football, I try to stay in the know on whether Bucky won or lost. Living a block away from One Barrel Brewing Company helps, as the style of screaming from the bar clearly indicates glory or despair. This week? Glory screams in celebration of a UW triumph.

It's Bucky's territory (I just live in it).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cheesin' it: vote for me!

Love Aviva in Dairyland? Vote for me in Madison Magazine's Best of Madison! Quick and easy to vote. Select "Arts & Entertainment," then "Local Blog (non-food)" and write in "Aviva In Dairyland."

Anyone can vote: you don't have to be a Wisconsin resident. Thanks, friends!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Diary of a chicken farmer: part 2.

As stated previously, I spent 2 weeks as a backyard chicken farmer while Cory and Ryan were honeymooning. The major perk: eggs.

A sampling of eggs from the backyard chickens.
And since they enjoyed the cucumber so much (see my previous post), I figured I'd feed them some garden tomatoes:

Well, it was a fun gig, but now I'm off chicken duty. I'll be sure to visit them, though. Nugget and I bonded-- she likes a good neck scratching.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Diary of a chicken farmer: part 1.

First of all, big congrats to Cory and Ryan on their wedding!

Picture perfect, eh?
While my friends are honeymooning in Indonesia, I'm taking care of their animals and plants. I assured them that their cat and chickens would be in great hands, but I made no guarantees about the plants (I've been watering them every few days, but this isn't my area of expertise).

Caring for Cory and Ryan's pets goes as follows:

Step 1, check on Leisha.
A lovely Persian, indeed.
Step 2, gather the eggs.
Raki's present: a large brown egg.
Step 3, let the chickens out.
Raki and Nugget are best buds.
Step 4, tend to them. This means water, feed, and of course, treats:

Step 5, get the chickens back into the coop. This involves shooing them with a broom and a rake.
Doing my best farmer pose.
Overall, it's a pretty fun gig. The fresh eggs and garden veggies are a nice perk, too!

For my first post on Cory and Ryan's chickens, click here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fluffy things and pretty colors: Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival.

My first year in Wisconsin, I had a blast at the 2011 Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. Last year, I missed the event in favor of a Madonna concert in NYC with one of my best friends (let's face it, Madonna always trumps sheep). Given that it had been two years since my last Sheep & Wool, I was really craving some sheep time.

I went to this year's event with two goals:
1. Hold an angora rabbit.
2. Don't buy yarn.
I'm on a yarn diet right now. Urban dictionary says this happens when crafters go broke, but in my case, what happened was a hiatus from knitting due to fractured trapezium, thus causing my yarn stash to take up space and not get used.

Surprisingly enough, I accomplished both goals!

1. I met an angora rabbit:

He didn't have a name. Let's go with the obvious... Fluffy it is!
2. I didn't buy any yarn. I "showed good use of restraint," to quote one of my favorite college design professors. But... I did buy soap:

Mint Medley from Heaven Sent Home Spun, who came all the way from Gerald, Missouri for the big event.
Now, to the sheep! This year, I sat in the bleachers and watched a sheep show (think American Kennel Club for sheep), where judges were awarding ribbons for the best in show.

All lined up and ready for the judge.
I also wandered through the barn and made some adorable new friends, big and small:

But Sheep & Wool isn't all about the sheep...

It's also about kitsch (like this fab sock monkey and ram duo).
And of course, YARN! I opted to focus my photos on rainbow hues. Just so pretty:

And of course, there was a Wisconsin touch:

Green Bay Packers yarn, anyone?
Fluffy things and pretty colors: a perfect day for an animal-loving craft addict like myself.

For my report on the 2011 Sheep & Wool Festival, click here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

We don't fit in here: my day trip to the land of cheese heads.

When I read that the US Collegiate Figure Skating Championships were coming to De Pere, WI, I knew I had to go watch. A 2 hour drive to watch a day of great skating would be well worth it, and my friend (and fellow skater) Katie was happy to go along for the ride.

When Amie (my supervisor and a De Pere native) heard that I'd be spending the day on her home turf, she recommended that we stop at Lambeau Field to visit the Packers Pro Shop. We didn't have to be at the rink until 1:00, so we left Madison with time to visit the historic football field.

Wow. That's really all I have to say.

Okay, I'll say a little more. I had never seen Green Bay Packers fans in their native environment. Even though it was just "family day" during Packers training camp, the entire venue was an intense sea of green and yellow. Katie and I felt very out of place in grey. I didn't dare utter the phrase, "I don't care about football," because I feared I would be attacked.

This was the line for temporary team spirit tattoos.
It wasn't even a game day.
Let me just get this out in the open: I have never been to an NFL football game, nor do I ever plan to go to one (Close your mouths! I'd rather spend the cash on major figure skating events... sorry, football fans).

The vibe was all Packers, all the time. Everyone wore green shirts had such a sense of pride in the team. Total strangers were sharing this common bond of Packers Pride, and it was unlike anything I had seen before. The city felt like one big family: one big spirited, beer-drinking, green and yellow family.

Once I settled into my culture shock, Katie and I explored the venue.

The Lambeau Field logo at one of the gates.
A lot of fans were posing with this statue, so I felt like it was the right thing to do.

I don't know why this buffalo was wearing a team jersey, but it seemed worthy of documentation.
The Packers logo (saw a huge one on the side of a house, too).
A view of the atrium.
And then, we arrived at the Packers Pro Shop. The fandom in here was overwhelming. If anyone needs to buy Packers clothing, toys, or home decor, this is clearly the place to go. The shop gets so busy that they have one door devoted to entrances, one door devoted to exits, and security guards directing the traffic.

A view of the shop.
And, well, you knew it was coming:

We found some cheese hats to wear! Finally, we were fitting in.
Now THAT was a true Wisconsin experience. It was definitely new for me to experience the Packers to this level of intensity, and I can only imagine how wild it gets on game day.

Daily sconnie fix: check. Then, we were off to the Nicolet Restaurant, followed by the competition at Cornerstone Community Ice Arena. Two skating competitions and a dog show were happening simultaneously at the venue (pretty hilarious that dogs and skaters competed in the same place). The event was great, and we saw a near-clean program from 2008 US Bronze Medalist, Stephen Carriere. Awesome day!

Friday, August 2, 2013

My friends have backyard chickens, and it's normal.

As I've previously stated on this blog, it's perfectly normal (and legal) for Madison residents to have up to four chickens in their backyards. My friends Cory and Ryan welcomed me into their yard last Sunday to explore their coop and bond with the gals. I had met the chickens before, but I do think we did more bonding this time.

Cory and Ryan have four chickens: Blondie (a Cochin), Nugget (also a Cochin), Raki (a Columbian), and Mountain (a mystery breed). There are a ridiculous amount of chicken breeds out there.

Cory's dad helped them build a gorgeous deck and an impressive coop for their feathered friends:

Exterior view.
Running area.
Interior view.
Side door.
Blondie demonstrates her mastery of the ladder (and yes, all of Cory and Ryan's chickens do respond to  "Here, chick chick chick!").

Ryan and I followed Blondie into the coop...

She was keeping an egg nice and warm.
I found it really interesting that Nugget, Raki, and Mountain lay eggs, but rarely sit on them. Meanwhile, though Blondie rarely lays eggs, she constantly protects the other chickens' eggs while they run around elsewhere. She has a job!

Ryan fetched the egg. Nice work, Blondie!
All of the chickens are used to humans and quite friendly, so they didn't mind that I filmed their snack time:

That's right, chickens like yogurt. And don't worry, Blondie ended up joining in:

And after all that yogurt, it was time to snack on an orange:

Left to right: Raki, Nugget, and Mountain.
I know that I had an exciting evening, but I'd say the chickens had a pretty great one as well: yogurt, oranges, and free roam of the yard. And of course, Cory and Ryan wouldn't let me leave empty handed:

My loot: fresh eggs and peppers from the garden.
Raki lays big dark eggs, Mountain lays big light eggs, and Nugget lays little light eggs.
Oh, and here's the best part: when Cory and Ryan go on their honeymoon next month, I get to cat sit AND chicken sit! Stay tuned for more posts on my egg-gathering adventures. Wisconsin rules.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Farmers' Market trip: summer salad edition.

Realizing that we hadn't gone to the Dane County Farmers' Market in quite a long time, my friend Tonya and I ventured out for some Saturday morning shopping. Despite the chilly wind, the market was packed, and I left with an awesome haul:

Broccoli, lettuce, mini cukes, a beefsteak tomato, and sweet cherries.
Yum! Time for summer salad.
Then, off to brunch at Mickey's Tavern. A delicious morning!