Thursday, September 18, 2014

Walking Around Waukesha

I attempted to sit outside my work yesterday and enjoy my lunch in the sun, but the bees had another plan for me. They tried to steal my lunch and get their germs all over it. I feared if I swatted them away one more time, I was going to be stung. So I went off on a walk around downtown Waukesha instead.

 I love how the sun comes through this bridge on the Riverwalk.

The Fox River really is beautiful this time of year.
 This ugly building will soon become apartments with a skywalk (South Street)
 Hard to see but Jackson's added a garage door to the front for windows making it easier to see in as well as let in the fresh air!

 This gorgeous plant takes up half the steps to Chill, but it's really vibrant. (Gaspar Street)
 Generations at 5 Points has taken over RiverMill Foods and the windows are all papered up while they work on the pub!
 Yellow Cab seems to be gone in Waukesha so this spot on the 5 points is available (Broadway)

 I like the expanded sidewalks for outdoor seating. Can't believe no one was enjoying it on this beautiful day! (Clinton Street)
 A new salon has gone in on Clinton and they accept Carroll University card holders. I think this counts for Alumni too!
I love Cafe de Arts and you can't miss this place in Waukesha with it's purple color and bright sunflower.
 Brook Street Little Free Library! Look for a post on these soon!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

4 Counties, 1 Day

This past weekend I was supposed to go camping and hiking with some friends at Devil's Lake. Unfortunately some of those going ran into issues of being able to go for the whole weekend and so we ended up cancelling the trip all together. Although I would have been a trooper and survived, the weekend started out on a rather rainy and chilly note, so I think it's best we didn't go.

So when I had no plans in place for Saturday, I joined my parents on a road trip venture through 4 counties covering about 140 miles round trip.

We started in Waukesha to hit up the Farmer's Market. I wanted some more kale for the Zuppa Toscana soup I wanted to make now that the chill is in the air and my mom needed to find Buck, the cutting board man, so he could make her a custom board to the dimensions of the sink in her kitchen. We located Buck and she picked out her wood pattern and handed over the dimensions and Buck said he would have it for her hopefully by next Saturday. Speedy delivery folks! I got my kale and we left the market.

We stopped at Sprizzo's for some breakfast to fuel us up before the venture my parents had planned out. My dad and I both had the Breakfast Stratta, but unfortunately mine was a corner piece and the bread was really tough to cut through, making it impossible to bite through parts of it. I ate enough and wasn't about to complain over a few bites I really didn't need anyways. My dad's piece was great and he was a proud member of the clean plate club.

My mom asked for the quiche special that was zucchini, tomato and Monterrey jack. After a few bites, she realized she got the other special with crab and mozzarella but said it was really good so no complaints by her either.

My dad and I both also tried the Sweet Peach Ginger tea that was on the menu and I fell in love. I took the little box the tea came in to remind myself when out shopping to pick some up. But if I can't find it in the area, I already scoped it out on Amazon.

The lunch specials looked amazing and I wanted to stay but we had to get on the road. I will definitely have to keep Sprizzo's in mind for a Saturday lunch. Beer Cheese Soup and a Blueberry Crunch salad - sign me up! 

Then we were off to Johnson Creek. My parents are heading to Paris for a vacation with my aunt and uncle in a few weeks and needed some quality walking shoes. And if you know anything about the Outlet Mall at Johnson Creek, you will know they have a ton of shoe stores. We only had to go into one because my dad found 3 pair (2 for Paris, 1 for work), my mom found a pair and I found new brown boots for the Fall/Winter. The boots are even made with Gortex, yet are fashionable.

Then we ended up buying something at practically every store we walked into - including an amazing deal of 100 chocolate truffles for $30 at the Lindt store. Then when you spend $30 at the store, you also get another pound of dark chocolate truffles for just $5. If you have ever bought these at Walgreens or the like near the checkout, they are usually around $.79 each....well with all we bought, we got them down to $.27 each!

We decided we had better leave the Outlet before we go broke. So it was off to Darien next for Sorg's Quality Meats and Sausages. I had never heard of this place and had no idea what to expect. If you have ever been to Ray's Butcher Shoppe on Loomis or Robert's Specialty Meats in Waukesha, this place is very similar.

They feature excellent looking cuts of fresh meat, as well as sausages and other products to make a great dinner from. I picked up the Italian sausage for the Zuppa Toscana soup, as well as some Chicken Alfredo brats and Bourbon Summer Sausage. I can't wait to try those.

My parents picked up some Bison sausage sticks, beef summer sausage, Braunschweiger, Portabella brats and a round steak. We walked out with all of that for around $50! It was definitely worth the drive.

Then it was back north to Fort Atkinson for the Simple Life County Store (sorry no pics - left phone in the car). My parents came across this place a few years ago in a magazine and decided to drive out and see what it's all about. They have visited about twice a year ever since. It's an Amish bulk food store that buys in mass quantity and repackages for customers into smaller portions at a great price. You can pick up all sorts of baking flours, soup mixes, spices, cookies, candies, treats and more. My cousin has one up in Appleton by her and her son is Gluten Free so she can find special treats just for him at this store and know the products are safe for him to have.

We picked up some popcorn, caramel corn, pesto dip mix, pancake mix, seasoned rye chips and mint chocolate chips. (I plan to use those for some chocolate cookies for the Cookies for Kids Cancer Bake sale and Cookie Swap I participate in annually)

And then after all of that is was time to head back to Waukesha and get me home. Total tally was 140 miles give or take because of some poor directions from Google Maps that put us in a route around a farm field randomly. Total counties we drove through: 4 - Waukesha, Jefferson, Rock and Walworth.

Don't worry we didn't drink all of these!

My friend ended up having a cookout/wine night and fire instead of us camping, so I headed over to his house and enjoyed a good time chatting with friends new and old, eating, sipping on wine and just relaxing around a fire.
Wine and a Fire - perfect Fall night!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Overheard Vol. 3

So apparently tonight is rev up your engine and let everyone know what you got under that hood night. 

At least 4 cars have revved up and peeled out from some business or road near me. Exact location unknown truthfully. But not only do they peel out squealing and all, they keep at it down Grandview. 

Don't get me wrong, I love me some classic car engine revving and wandering around car shows and riding passenger in something speedy. But Grandview is a busy road all the time and I always see cops so I don't get why they would choose this road? It's not even car show night, so maybe these folks aren't familiar with the area? 

Good luck to them, hope they are driving safely. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

100 Happy Days

If you have been on social media sites in the past few months, you may notice that some people are tagging posts with #100happydays and the post is something that makes them happy. This is a movement that I have noticed going through my friends and wanted to know more about it.

I went to the website: and found out more. The point is to make you realize that something every day can make you happy and you should be ok telling others you are happy. Then after the 100 days you are more willing to find something everyday that is making you happy and you won't need to post about it. This can lead to being in a better mood and overall more optimistic. And who doesn't need that in their life.

So I decided that I could go for a little more optimisim and positivity in my life and jumped on board and started. I'm only on Day 2 but I plan to do a weekly recap on my blog but if you want to see it daily, check out my Instagram.

What makes you happy? Consider joining the movement!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Generations at 5 Points Brunch

At the very end of 2013, my friend Tiffany and I enjoyed a tapas brunch at Generations at 5 Points. They were doing brunches once a month with seasonal menus and the dates hadn't worked out for us to attend any of the others that had happened. But recently I saw via their Facebook page that they are offering brunch every Sunday.

Tiffany and I set up another breakfast date last weekend and stopped in to catch up, relax and enjoy ourselves. It was a gorgeous day and we walked from the west end of Main Street to Gen Five for brunch. We saw that there is a new store going in where Three Sisters Uniquities was but the name escapes me. Looks like it will have women's accessories and more.

When we arrived at Gen Five, a few other tables were already enjoying the brunch but we grabbed a high top in the bar area and settled in. We treated ourselves to a Bloody Mary and a Mimosa while we looked over the menu.

It was quite different from the menu we saw back in January and I wanted to ask a few questions. That's when we were filled in that this wasn't a tapas brunch but regular size portions. This definitely helped us because we were both looking to order two dishes to share. We would have been so full!

The prices were extremely reasonable with nothing over $9 and quite a variety; Panini sandwiches, omelets, Caesar salad, eggs Benedict, french toast, brie and goat cheese dishes and more.Dishes were also labeled if they were vegetarian and gluten free - a little extra step that goes a long way now with food allergies.

We decided on splitting the baked Brie for a starter and Tiffany ordered the Smokehouse Panini and I stepped way outside my comfort zone and went with the Huevos Rancheros with (of course) a side of sour cream in case it was spicy.

The Brie came out quickly and was gigantic! It was inside puff pastry and came with a warm baguette, roasted peppers, apples, candied pecans, spinach and honey. We cut into the brie and it oozed just as it should but I didn't notice the carmelized onions or peaches in it. I did notice it was seasoned with rosemary and other herbs and that combination with the sweet items or the spicy peppers really paired together fantastically. We almost finished it all but realized we had meals coming so we asked for Emma (our amazing server) to take the rest away.

Emma then filled me in that she had pureed a watermelon if I wanted a mimosa made with that she would pour one up for me. I jumped at that opportunity to try something new and it came over really frothy! It was refreshingly delicious and I want to make these at home sometime for the brunch I always want to have for my friends.

Our entrees came out next and looked spectacular. I snapped shots of them quickly before we dove in. My Huevos Rancheros came with verde and rojo salsa and of course my sour cream. The verde had quite a kick so I used more of the rojo and all my sour cream. It also came with toasted wheat bread but not buttered, thank you for helping me watch my weight Five Gen :)
At first I thought the eggs were dry but then realized that normal people probably put all the salsa on the eggs and then they would have been too runny if not cooked this way. I kept the salsa on the side and just dipped and it was perfect. (I keep my condiments on the side whenever possible - I don't drizzle ketchup or ranch on my fries and prefer it on the side so I can put on how much I want.) The chorizo added great spicy flavor but didn't overpower and the cotijo cheese was almost more like Parmesan but was really delicious.  I would order this again and recommend it!
The chef accidentally made the wrong panini for Tiffany and so they boxed it up for her to take home and promptly made her the right one. (I appreciate them not wasting the food and just throwing it away!) The "incorrect one" had hash browns, bacon, egg, cheese and jam on it and while we waited we snacked on the potatoes that were nice and crispy on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside. Tiffany got back to me later in the week after trying the Panini and said the salty sweet of the bacon and jam combo really paired nicely together. I think if I do their brunch again, this might be my option!

The Smokehouse Panini had pulled pork, bacon, pickles on it in addition to gouda cheese and chipotle mayo. She really enjoyed it and was able to take half of this one home as well because the potatoes were so good and we snacked on them a bit much.

A decent flow came in for the brunch and Emma was keeping busy. I wanted to ask how the renovations were going on the addition but I didn't want to slow her down. Generations has taken over the location where RiverMill Foods was located (They moved to Elm Grove to expand). That side is going to be more about beer and pub food from my understanding. I'm curious if the buildings will be two separate entities or will they hole cut in the wall to join them. Either way, I'm excited for it to open and glad to not see an empty spot on the Five Points.

I definitely recommend you come for the brunch on a Sunday morning. Waukesha doesn't have too many brunch options on a Sunday and this is one to definitely take in. 

We left and meandered down Main Street on our walk back. It's great to see so much activity in downtown. Although there are still some vacant spots, there aren't as many as there were.

The only corner on the Five Points that is vacant is Broadway & Grand. That building is currently undergoing some renovations because high-end apartments and a skywalk are planned for the adjoined parking structure and will hopefully we open by June 2015. I think that building will have a resident soon because of the new apartments coming. The rest of the locations on the Five Points are currently occupied and I heard a rumor that Sloppy Joes is expanding into the former Riverview Mart. 

I also saw that a Vapor Bar with E-Cigarettes and E-Juices (?) is opening on Main Street between and People's Park - curious about that. And waaaaay down on the West End is a nail studio. We peaked in the windows and it looks really nice.

I do wish more places were open on a Sunday - even just a 10 am - 2 pm. I get that this is one day that many places want to close to have a day with their family (or just a day off as they deserve), but friends of mine commented on just how many restaurants and shops weren't open yet by noon on a Sunday or at all on that day. And it actually caused them to leave downtown and go find somewhere else to go.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waukesha Wandering and Burlap & Lace

I spent some time with my mom a few weekends back and we decided to do some shopping in Waukesha. She knows that I always can find us something to do so we didn't really have a plan and just decided to start downtown and wander.

We started with The Steaming Cup for a quick breakfast before some "power shopping." I hadn't had their breakfast yet and though the menu is small, it is very diverse. I chose the Brazilian Breakfast and my mom picked the Cranberry Bolo. Neither of us was 100% sure what we were getting but we sat down with our coffee and chai and waited for the result.

Had to sit at the Carroll College table :)
We were both extremely pleasantly surprised with our breakfasts. Mine was a yogurt cup with acai puree, granola and mango. The puree was sweet but the yogurt helped to mellow it. I would definitely order it again. The granola is super yummy.

Brazilian Breakfast and Iced Chai
My mom's Bolo was a light, airy bread that was lightly toasted and served with the cranberry cream cheese. (It's the same that is used in the Cranberry Bog sandwich that I love so so much!)

Cranberry Bolo and Iced Tea
I only had a cup of the yogurt, so I helped my mom finish her bolo, we chatted a bit and I noticed the rack of games. I forgot they had these. What a fun concept to meet up with a friend in the evening and while having a cup of joe and catching up, you can play a game!
Games at The Steaming Cup
After cleaning our plates up, we headed off to the Waukesha Farmers' Market. We wandered without planning to buy anything and of course left with peppers, green beans, kale, tomatoes and oatmeal. We can't resist the fresh, local goods. I actually just blanched the remainder of my beans and kale and froze it to have it in the future. It's amazing how much longer fresh produce lasts than the stuff that you buy in a chain market grocer!

We stopped by the Plowshare booth at the Farmer's Market and found out a bit more on the fundraiser and fashion show later this month. My mom was very interested and because half of the cost to attend is a donation, we decided we are going to go and see what this is really all about.

Then of course we had to stop into the actual Plowshare store in downtown, because my mom can't go to downtown without stopping in. My teenage cousin's birthday was coming up and we picked up a cool recycled rubber bracelet for her and a flexible fabric frisbee for her brother in the shop. And for ourselves, we picked up some dehydrated mango that we had sampled in their booth at the market. It was delicious and the bag is very generous for $6.

We then wandered a bit more through downtown and saw that a new shop had opened called Burlap & Lace Marketplace was open on Grand. It's painted a very bright teal-blue on the outside with cute decorations to really make your eye catch it because it's not on the main drag of downtown Waukesha.

Burlap & Lace Marketplace
Burlap & Lace Marketplace
We went in and it truly is a lot of burlap and lace items, but so cutely set up. The shop is comprised of local artisans that rent booth space and display their handmade goods. There is coffee, knitted goods, soaps, wine cork art, burlap wrapped decor, handmade stationary, key chains, wall hangings, chalkboard art, antiques and more.

Does it get any cuter than these baseball, football and Wisconsin hats for little ones? 

Burlap & Lace Marketplace
Soon they will have a salon open in the back of the shop and offer classes for DIY projects. I am very interested in those. I signed up for their mailing list so I would be in-the-know when those classes start up.

Burlap & Lace Marketplace

Burlap & Lace Marketplace

I think this is an excellent addition to downtown. I love to buy from local artisans and this shop will definitely top my list when I need to buy gifts for friends. I just read on their Facebook page they currently have 29 vendors with a few spots still available and hope to expand into the basement in Spring.

They are open Tuesday - Saturday 10 - 6 and on Fridays they will be open until 9 pm through October.

(I even got an idea for my annual Christmas gift for my friends based off of one of the items that caught my eye in the store.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Waukesha Public Library

Some of my friends know that I am an avid user of the Waukesha Public Library. Maybe I should state that another way.....I am an avid financial supporter of the library and tend to "rent" my books, CDs and DVDs instead of check them out. Aaahahahahaha!

I am guilty of not returning my books by the due date from time to time. I have gotten a lot better and I always pay my fines for the overdue materials. But fines add up quickly and the library has gotten a nice chunk of change from me this year!

I have found that the library has a great selection of DVDs to choose from. Because I am not one that sees movies often, I can wander the rows and always find something of interest to watch that is relatively new. They even have brand new releases and for a small fee you can check them out too. 

The CD collection is quite expansive as well and has a lot of newer releases so I can check out a full CD from an artist that I know I like one of the songs, and if I like the rest, I can then download it on iTunes.

The Book-on-CD section has become a new favorite area of mine. I drive to Appleton to visit my cousin every few months and I can really get a good start on a book on those longer trips. For instance, this weekend, I am heading up there and I will have almost 4 hours of listen during the drive. I chose Janet Evanovich's Four to Score in her Stephanie Plum series. This is the second book from that series that I am listening too instead of reading.

I am also a huge fan of the library's Hold system. There are high demand books out there (If I Stay and Divergent Series for example) and because all libraries that are a part of the Waukesha County Federated Library System can share books (and some libraries have multiple copies of a certain book) it makes getting a hold of a book that much easier -- and much cheaper than buying if you have a little patience. For example, if you see 20 people on hold in front of you for a book, isn't actually 20 people that each get 3 weeks of the book before you. It's sometimes as short as a week or two for the book. You can use the website to track your place in the holds list and cancel if you no longer want to be a part of it.

I have sometimes found that newer releases of books have long holds, but the book-on-CD will have no holds or a much shorter list and I will add myself to that one as well. (For example, If I Stay has 127 holds for the book and only 2 holds for the book-on-CD.)

The library will also email you when your books are due back or your holds are available. I am really good at checking these emails but apparently the due back emails are read and quickly forgotten by me. I promise to myself to get better at this!

I have also attempted to rent the Kindle books through Overdrive. These too use a hold system and an email will be sent to you when the book is available. By clicking a link, it will download to your Kindle for a few weeks. Unfortunately the only one that I successfully downloaded I wasn't able to read in time, but I feel it works similar to if you are a Prime member and you use the Amazon library. I am currently on hold for If I Stay but am user 71 of 156 - even technology has it's limits.

The library has so many offerings that I haven't utilized either. They have computers to use, copy/fax services, study rooms, free Wi-Fi, teen area, children's area that is the entire upstairs, book reading groups, movies, activities and more.

I see why the Waukesha Public Library has won so many awards in the past few years for their great service to the community. I hope you utilize this great addition to our community but remember to get those books back on time :)