Friday, June 1, 2018

Take Time to Disconnect and Play Some Games

Let’s just say that April was a pretty miserable month….weather-wise. I think we shoveled more in April than in January. Let’s hope those days are behind us until at least December. So what do you do with your family when the weather is less than ideal? Going out all the time can get pricey, not to mention, the weather can limit things too. And there are only so many TV shows you can watch and things to view on YouTube. I vowed to not let my family become zombies to the TV or computer/tablets. I do think that our girls could watch TV or play on phones/iPads for eternity, but that isn’t a good habit to start so young. We all need a good disconnect every now and then.
What got our family through many, many snowy, rainy, cold days were games—cards and boards. To state we have some games is a severe understatement. We love games—all types and skill levels. We bring them over to friends’ homes for get-togethers and our friends love to play and share their games with us too. And we have raised the girls to love games and want to play them as well. Rarely do we get complaints when we say we are taking a break from TV and playing games.
Here are some of our favorites that we have introduced the girls and our friends too. They can be as competitive as you make them, but I guarantee it will be good family bonding time and learning at the same time.

The point of Outburst is to guess all ten items under the category in a minute. You get points for each correct response. We have a few versions of this game, but the Junior is a favorite with the girls because the categories are less complex. No need to make the girls name ten Harrison Ford movies (“who is that, they would chant in unison?) My husband purchased Ultimate Outburst in the early 2000s, and though some of the questions are dated, it adds another level to the game. The Ultimate version makes you guess the category by listing the items and you receive points based on unused clues.
I have been playing this game since I was a wee child and it’s still a favorite. Our oldest received Emoji Uno for St. Nick, and thinks it’s hilarious when she plays a wild and makes the next person make the emoji face until their next turn. Regardless which version of Uno you own, they are all a blast and involve some strategy. Matching numbers and colors and mixing in some fun rules, makes our games last a very long time and provides the winner extra joy in being the first one out.
This game was one of my and my brothers favorites growing up, but it’s less known. You are dealt 10 cards and need to put them in the holder in the order they are received. Then you take turns picking and discarding from the center pile to try to get your cards in numerical order first. There isn’t a lot of strategy to this game, except what cards you are going to keep and how you can get the most points each turn.
Phase 10
This card game involves players competing to be the first to complete ten different rounds (phases) in the game and have the least amount of points. There is some strategy in this one, but again is a little based on the luck of the draw. The game takes a while and you need to pay attention to what others are playing so you don’t discard what will make the next person phase up. I also received a dice version of this game as a gift a few years ago, but the card game is more fun.
This game is a staple for us and brought along to all get-togethers—young and old. The girls especially love the Disney version. Every player wears a headband and one person is given a card to wear in the headband facing out so the other players can see, but not the person with the band on. That player needs to guess who/what they are by asking a series of questions to slim down the answers. I am not nearly the Disney aficionado that the girls and their father are, so they know to give me a more basic character but it brings laughs to everyone that plays. The original version is an assortment of things. We played this with my husband’s mom and while she was trying to read the suggestion card she grabbed her glasses and said “I cant’ see this I’m blind as a bat.” We all started laughing a chuckling and didn’t know what to say, because her card was indeed a bat. What are the odds? It’s a great story that will be a family memory for all of us.
So even though the weather is finally acting like it should for this time of year, I urge you all to disconnect from your devices and spend some time playing games with your family and friends. These games are great for cookouts, when you are babysitting, or just want to have a different kind of night. Games are a sure way to bring some laughs and memories and the video or show you were going to watch will always be there waiting.

**This post was written for The Lake Country Mom as I am a contributing blogger. But I also want to share it with my readers here on my own blog.  

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Taco Chili

Looking for something to warm you up on these unseasonably cook Spring days? Taco chili will surely warm you up. This is a family favorite that my husband introduced me too when we first started dating. I was leary about it because he does like spicier foods than me, but once he said I could add sour cream, I was in heaven.

This is a super easy recipe that we name a dump and run and the slow cooker does all the hard work for us.

The only prep you need to do is browning off the meat and onions. Once you have that done, it's literally dumping in a bunch of cans and then set the slow cooker to do the rest of the work.

Here's the recipe:

1 lb. ground meat
1 lb. ground turkey
half a medium onion, diced
1 can corn, with liquid
1 can chili beans
2 cans beans of your choice (you can drain liquid and rinse beans)
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 pkg. ranch seasoning
1 can chilies (optional)
1 cup water (optional)

Fritos Scoops
shredded cheese
sour cream

Brown the meat and onion together. Once done, add to slow cooker, add all other ingredients and stir together. (I hold on the water until the end if it doesn't seem to have enough liquid). Set slow cooker on LOW for 6-8 hours to let the flavors really meld.

Serve in a bowl topped with sour cream and cheese. Scoop it up with some Fritos for extra texture.


I know everyone makes chili a little different--I would love to know how you enjoy it. How spicy can you handle? Do you have a signature ingredient that goes in yours?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Daylee Public House - To Go

Daylee Public House outdoor patio - on W. Main Street
Photo: Daylee Public House
It's no secret that I am a fan of Daylee Public House. I have introduced many people to Megan and her lovely establishment and have never had a bad experience. She makes you feel like you are with family when you are there (and the good family, not the crazy uncle that bothers you.)

Heat lamp at Daylee Public House
Photo: Daylee Public House
Daylee is good for small groups, large groups, private parties, catering, and more. There is plenty of space inside and out, and she caters to all seasons!
Grilled cheese and tomato bisque at Daylee Public House
Photo: Daylee Public House
My co-workers and I went to lunch on a very chilly Friday afternoon and ordered tomato bisque and fancy grilled cheeses from the menu. Though she has a create your own grilled cheese, we were all drooling over her menu options and ordered those. The boursin cheese and fresh ingredients put her grilled sammies over the top.

NEW Wraps at Daylee Public House
Photo: Daylee Public House
Megan also shared with us that she has four wraps on her menu now as well. I love a good wrap sandwich and these look amazing. I can't wait to try them out.

Soup to go at Daylee Public House
Photo: Daylee Public House
Besides just going to Daylee's for a meal and a good time, you can bring Daylee's home to your family. Megan keeps a fully-stocked freezer of take-and-bake meals that range from soups and sides to entrees and desserts.

Take and Bake Meals
Photo: Daylee Public House
I couldn't resist her freezer when we were there and brought home meatloaf (for two) and lasagna rollups (for the family).

The hubby was very excited to see the meatloaf in the freezer that we made it the next day. Every package comes labeled with the ingredients and directions. I whipped up some of my favorite creamy mashed potatoes and let the oven do the rest of the work with the meatloaf.

Daylee Public House Bacon BBQ Meatloaf
My mom makes a good meatloaf--I have never had much luck making one. Megan's is really, really good. It's juicy and the bacon takes it to another level. As you can see I like my potatoes because the meatloaf portion was decent sized and I loaded on the taters!

Other meals of Daylee's that I have taken home included stuffed meatballs, meat lasagna, and glazed carrots--all were fantastic. You can stop in and seen what Megan has Tuesday through Saturday or email her and she will respond and let you know what is currently available. I have never had a difficult time finding something I would like to eat from her selection.

As for catering, she will make you whatever you wish for your event--the skies the limit. My bridal shower was held at Daylee's and my mom and I put together a menu of our favorite items and Megan surpassed all our expectations with the food.

So consider Daylee's for all your eating and drinking needs. And watch my blog soon as I attempt to recreate her tomato bisque and grilled cheese at home.

Friday, November 3, 2017

National Sandwich Day

In honor of today being National Sandwich Day, I want to share my top sandwiches that I love in downtown Waukesha. There are a lot to choose from so I had to slim it down to my top five. Please share your favorites as well.

1. The Cranberry Bog - The Steaming Cup--This sandwich is the epitome of Thanksgiving. It has turkey, cranberry, mustard and pecans on a cranberry bread. Though ownership of the Cup has changed, this sandwich has stayed a staple and is so delicious.

2. Chicken Breast Salad - The Rochester Deli--Savory, delicious and always a great lunch option, this sandwich comes loaded with chicken in just enough mayo sauce, but not too much that it saturates the bread.

3. The Veg Head - Daylee Public House--I think it's the cheese spread that puts this sandwich so high for me. The spread gets extra creamy when grilled and the veg combo is on point. Pair with the delicious tomato bisque and you are set!

4. Sandwich Capri - People's Park--Another go-to for me. Juicy tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil and balsamic on a crusty baguette. Simple but packs in so much flavor. Pair with the cucumber salad for a real delight!

5. The Beatles - Roots Coffeebar & Cafe--I'm a sucker for melted brie and sweet jam and this does it for me. The toasted bread, turkey and raspberry pair so well with the cheese. Some kettle chips on the side and I'm a happy girl.

So take some time today and celebrate deliciousness between two great pieces of grainy goodness. What will you choose?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Pieper Porch Winery

Pieper Porch Winery has been around for about five years, but recently it has been picking up steam and popularity. More and more of my friends are talking about the business and it was about time I checked it out. The opportunity arose about a month ago and my friend and I decided to enjoy a nice sunny Saturday afternoon at the winery. 

The winery is located on the edge of Waukesha/Mukwonago off Hwy. I/River Rd. It's just a short drive from my house and is a residence that has been turned into the winery and vineyard. 

The tasting room is located in the basement of their home and the family/staff is smiling and ready to serve you. The winery provides five samples as part of the complimentary tasting from their lengthy list of varietals. They even provide further explanation than what the sheet provides on each wine if needed, and then you have some time to choose your samples. 

I tried some sweet wines, but mostly stuck to the dry varietals and was very happily surprised with how bold their wines are. When you think Wisconsin wines, sweet and fruity come to mind a lot of the time. Peiper Porch knows how to do both kinds of wines and does them well! The reds are very deep in flavor and are dry. 

After our samples, we decided to split a bottle to enjoy on their covered porch and have some girl talk. The winery was quite busy, but the crowd seems to rotate well and we found a spot with no problem. They have two silo areas that can be reserved for special events in the vineyard, and the grape vines were really impressive. You can also bring in your own food to enjoy at the winery--we took notes for next time. 

We watched kids play in the open field while parents enjoyed each other's company. I also ran into a friend from high school and it was her first time here as well. It was good to see her and I found out that if you aren't a wine fan, they do have some beers to offer to help please more of their crowds (not her, but her husband isn't a wine guy).

After about an hour, we noticed the sky getting a little darker and started to make plans for what to do for dinner, realizing our wine time was nearing an end. The winery is only open Friday-Sunday 11 am - 5 pm, so regardless of the rain, we were about to get the boot.

It did rain and so we went inside, wrapped up our sales, and asked to take the rest of our bottle home. They gladly recorked it for us and sent us on our way. We told them we would definitely be back. I will be keeping them in mind for presents as well #shoplocal!

I really enjoyed the atmosphere and quality of their products. They have a solid business and you can see the pride they have for it in the wine and the vineyard. I also recently saw their wines for sale at Sentry Fox Run--not sure where else they are available, but this was a good find for the winter.  I know I will be back soon to enjoy more.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Waukesha - City That I Call Home Part 1

Riverwalk Apartments, Waukesha
It's been almost 10 years since I moved to the city of Waukesha, not including my days at Carroll University (it was College back then). I have lived in two places in downtown, owned a condo on the north side, and now reside near Waukesha West in our forever home.

There are definitely benefits to living in the heart of the city versus living in the more rural areas. The biggest benefit--being close to all the fun and excitement that comes with city living. When I moved to the Riverwalk Apartments in February 2008, downtown was revitalizing itself. Not even the catastrophic flooding of June 2008 could stop downtown. That summer People's Park, the Clarke Hotel, and other shops opened--making downtown more inviting. It was an event filled summer with the Harley-Davidson celebration and national recording acts played at Cutler Park.
June 2008 Fox River Flooding in Waukesha
My roommate, Tiff, and I were able to walk to all of it and really enjoy our city. This is when I really realized all that downtown has to offer. Since then, downtown continues to add new businesses (and lose a few as well). But overall, this is a massive improvement over what downtown was when I went to Carroll.

(Side note - when I went to Carroll, it wasn't really recommended to students to go downtown by themselves or really at all. Downtown didn't have much to offer at that time for students and came across as a scary place. What a difference a few years make as now Carroll partners with downtown businesses on promotions and that entire opinion has been changed. Good job!)

Madison Street Condominiums, Waukesha
After a few years with a roommate, I decided that I might want to live on my own and try to purchase a property. I found a one-bedroom condo that was lease-to-own and thought that would be my best route to finding out if I could do it. It was still in the heart of downtown and so close to my job that I could walk every day.

And that leads into......walking everywhere is a huge benefit. I was able to walk/bike to work, walk/bike to meet friends, walk to explore, and walk to shop. The farmer's market and I became really good friends while I lived downtown--exercise and local produce--a win, win. And there aren't "big box stores" in downtown Waukesha, so when I did shop, I supported local with unique gifts that meant a little more to the receivers.

Sentry Liquor Crew Bike Ride
Also, I was a convenient location for friends to meet and hang out before going to events or a night out in downtown. Being able to walk everywhere kept us safe and we had a lot of fun in the process.

However, along with living so close to everything came the sights and sounds of a busy downtown--noisy vehicles, people yelling, loud music, and fire trucks leaving the station at all hours of the night to name a few. I didn't get angry and bitter about it, I realize it's part of living in an area that is more populated by businesses than residential and sometimes it was actually quite comforting to know there were so many people around. For some people, they enjoy city sounds all the time.

For me, it was good for a while and I became used to some of it but obviously, a one-bedroom place wasn't going to be my forever home. I decided to get out of my lease-to-own property and began the search for a real place outside of downtown. I definitely appreciated living so close to everything (as did my car), but I wanted something with a bit of a yard and more square footage.

Part two will talk about my next places that I have lived in the city and the benefits (and drawbacks) of those. But overall, I would recommend Waukesha to anyone of any age looking for a place to live. It has downtown, city, and rural life all in one and provides a little bit of something for everyone.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Wings Around Waukesha: Homemade Wings

As you know, hubby and I love chicken wings and try them whenever we can.

About a year ago, hubby and I made wings at home for the first time. It was definitely a new experience for both of us and it turned out so well. The wings were oven baked and amazing--I couldn't have asked for a better first experience.

The worst part of making wings is having to separate the wingette from the drumette. My coworker told me about Cermak and that it has an incredible butcher department. I went and checked it out for myself. Indeed the butcher department was very impressive with every cut of meat you can imagine. I was able to find packages of fresh chicken wingettes and drumettes already separated. Hubby was so excited we were going to have homemade wings again!

I couldn't find the original recipe that I used to cook the chicken wings the last time, but relied on Pinterest, and the amazing bloggers that share their recipes on the platform, to guide to me to another good one.

I put all the wings in a big bowl and sprinkled baking powder and salt over them and flipped them around. The next step was to put them on wire racks over baking sheets. A recommendation would be to foil cover the baking sheets for easier cleanup.

This recipe has the wings bake at a low temp for the first 30 minutes and then you raise the temp for the last 40 minutes. During that time, I made the sauces.

Searching chicken wing sauces on Pinterest brings a ridiculous amount of pins. But one struck my interest right away--copycat Buffalo Wild Wing sauces. My hubby loves BW3s so I asked him to pick his faves for dinner--he chose Parmesan Garlic and Asian Zing.

I had everything for the Parmesan garlic, but I was missing Sriracha for the Asian Zing. I subbed cayenne and Frank's Red Hot. I also recently bought an Apricot Bourbon sauce so I added a tablespoon of butter to thin it out and gave us three choices.

I recommend keeping your wing sauces warmer so when the wings are dipped in them, they don't cool down. And sauces with a butter base will thicken when not kept warm (as you can see in the photo above.) The surface of my stove gets warm when the oven is on, so I put the sauces on it so warm up.

Though the recipe didn't call for it, I flipped the wings with about 10 minutes left.

I let the wings rest for five minutes when they came out of the oven and then it was everyone from themselves! Not really, but I showed hubby how to sauce them up and we went to town. Place a few wings in your sauce of choice and flip them around. Using tongs, I grabbed them out, let them drip off, and then plated them up.

My favorite sauce was the Parmesan garlic (right). The Asian zing (center) ended up rather runny, my guess because of my Frank's sub instead of sriracha that is thicker. But the flavor was there. Apricot Bourbon was good as well (left).

Though the sauces coated the wings, the wings stayed nice and crispy. This was definitely a success and I have since pinned the recipe to be able to find it in the future.

I also used my air fryer for the first time to make homemade fries. I will share my thoughts on the air fryer once I use it a bit more. But so far, so good!

Have you ever made wings at home? What are your favorite wing sauces?

Zubleton Wings Rating (Max Score of 5): 4.5

Flavors: 4.5 Drumsticks (I offered 3, which hubby said was pretty awesome being we were home, but ultimately could have made as many as I want.) 

Size: 4.5 Drumsticks 

Taste: 4 Drumsticks - the runny Asian zing was what brought this down. 

Price: 4.5 Drumsticks (.43 each - I had all the ingredients already at home for the sauces)

Temp: 5 Drumsticks - nice and hot

Sauces: Ranch

Veggies: Celery and carrots :)

Wet Naps: napkins while eating, plenty of soap and sinks to wash up with