Monday, March 11, 2019

St. Patrick's Day - A Little Nontraditional

For many years, my friends and I have gone out together for St. Patrick's Day. We have gone out in a few different cities, but no matter where we go, we always have a great time! 

This year will be a little different for me being pregnant, but I vowed to myself when I found out I was pregnant that I would not be a hermit or not go out. I still want to have a good time with my friends and not miss out on experiences or time with them. I even bought a special shirt for the day and have a cute headband to wear to be festive!

Our plan is to enjoy St. Patrick's Day festivities on Sunday, March 17--the actual day, in downtown Waukesha. There is plenty going on at many of the local establishments. And quite a few of them are Irish or becoming Irish for the day. :)

I am a huge fan of Reuben Rolls--corned beef, cheese, and sauerkraut wrapped in a wonton and deep fried and then served with Thousand Island dressing. I already saw a few places plan to have them, so I'm ready to indulge! 

I looked up what to drink that would be non-alcoholic on St. Patrick's Day, but didn't find much that would be easy to make knowing the bars will be very busy. I most likely will stick with Sprite or water with a lime, but I may  switch it up and have a seltzer or a lemonade as well. I'm not a fan of non-alcoholic beers, which is basically beer-flavored soda. If there is a place in downtown that wants to make me a fun n/a cocktail (and has the time), I will gladly be there. If you have suggestions for me as well, I'm all ears. (Moscow Mule....hold the Russia?)

Here are just a few places that are having specials for St. Patrick's Day. Even if I didn't list them, most bars offer something special, be it green beer or shot specials. 

Daylee Public House-celebrating both Saturday and Sunday! Mmmm Guinness Beef Stew 

Mainstream Bar & Grill- Reuben burger offered all month long. 

Roots Coffeebar & Cafe - Get yourself an Irish cream coffee to start your day. 

Magellan's (aka McGellans) - Renamed for the day to celebrate and Reuben Rolls! 

Donnie Boys - Plenty to drink at this place! 

Bernie's Tap Room - our savior a few St. Pat's ago when other places were busy and we could get in a food order a flatbread right away!

House of Guinness - need I say more :)

Taylor's People's Park - another Reuben Rolls stop! Received an email about their specials but I don't see it on their website or Facebook yet. 

Five Points Pub/The Clarke Hotel - This menu has Irish flair all year round. 

Meli - one of a few places we found green beer a few years ago

Boscos Social Club - Hoping it's warm enough outside to enjoy their patio and play some bags. They do have heaters out there. 

Whatever you do for St. Patrick's Day, please do it safely. Stay hydrated, remember to eat (who could forget with all this awesome food??), and use a designated driver. Uber & Lyft helped me get around last year and it wasn't expensive at all. Let's pray for nice weather too!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Punch Bowl Social - MKE

We are very fortunate to live in an area that provides a vast variety of entertainment options. In Waukesha alone the variety is amazing. But by traveling just 30 minutes, the variety expands ten-fold.

I was provided an opportunity to check out Punch Bowl Social in the new Bucks Entertainment Block before it opens on Saturday. They allowed area influencers in during their soft opening week and gave us the royal treatment. I brought my friend Tory along to check it out with me--it's always more fun when you go with someone you know. Special thanks for the use of some of her pictures as well!

Punch Bowl Social (PBS) is located directly east of the Fiserv Forum. The roads have been reworked in that area so that there is an open air space and 4th Street no longer cuts through. Many other entertainment businesses are projected to open in this area in the coming year. But the two-story PBS makes quite a statement in that area already.

Upon arrival, I was in awe of all the glass windows that make up the front facade of PBS that look directly at the Forum and what will be the entertainment area. This will work well for those outside to see the fun in and vice versa. And many outdoor events are planned for the block during the warm weather to really make this a hub.

We were escorted to the upstairs area where our party was happening and walked past a large bar, plenty of seating areas, and many entertainment options. At the top of the stairs, your eyes take in the large bar and more seating, but also all the entertaining things that make up PBS. We self-guided ourselves around the space and took it in at our own pace.

After perusing the table display of the drinks and eats they were featuring that night, we grabbed a a beverage and continued on our way. I thought the display table was an excellent idea and the influencers "ate it up" too.

Being pregnant, I truly appreciate that they had a variety of unique n/a options in addition to their hand-crafted cocktails. We started with a strawberry rhubarb fizz for me and rum punch for Tory. They also had servers coming around with samples of their signature cocktails, allowing guests to try all the options without ordering full drinks.

Upstairs offers a variety of seating areas to accommodate groups of any size. There are three bowling areas featuring six lanes upstairs and four more downstairs that are first come first serve or by reservations really adds to the fun of a good time out.

Upstairsa also offer karaoke rooms, pool, jumbo jenga, ping pong, foosball tables (including one of the longest I have ever seen), a second bar and an arcade with some video and pinball games, and a lot more. Many of these are pay as your play or pay by the hour.

After our tour, we loaded up plates of food to try a little of everything and took in the sights and sounds of others enjoying themselves. The menu ranges from grain bowls and hummus to sliders, burgers, and tacos. They even offer a kids menu too, so this isn't just a destination for adults (though that is their primary target)

Everything that I selected to eat, I was extremely impressed with. The pickled carrots and cucumbers were an awesome palate cleanser after my sweet drink. The chicken and waffles were awesome--I think they use thighs which offer a richer, juicier meat and the breading was top notch. Homemade potato chips and a rice crispy treat fished off my plate and I was happily full.

All of the servers and other employees that were available that evening were super friendly and knowledgeable. One server that kept checking in on us was also pregnant, so she guided me to a second n/a cocktail--lime cilantro fizz. The smell of the drink alone had me already pairing it up with a street taco in the future. It was very tart, but still good. I would have never thought of cilantro in a beverage, but now I may consider it. She also told me that when we come back once they are fully open, the variety of homemade juices is amazing and I must try them all.

I don't think I have ever been to a bar or entertainment place in the Milwaukee area that offers so much variety under one roof. Their grand opening is Saturday night and tickets are still available. If you are looking for something to do with some hands-on fun, this place is an excellent option. I will definitely be back.

Monday, March 4, 2019

First-Time Mom

This post will be a little different than others, but it's about the newest stage of my life and I want you all to follow along on this journey! This post was originally written for The Lake Country Mom blog, but I want my followers to be able to see it as well. 

I may not have always known what I wanted to do or be when I grew up, but becoming a mom was always part of the plan. When I first started dating my husband, who has two daughters from his previous marriage, we talked very early on about the idea of children and he was on board. I still remember his exact words, “Being a parent is amazing, so every woman should have the opportunity to become a mom.”

Once married, the questions started coming from everyone if we were going to be having a child of our own. Being in my mid-late 30s (not ready to say late 30s!), I knew that could pose some challenges for us. But I really wanted to be a mom. Yes I was a step-mom, but having a child of my own was my dream. There is no way to guarantee pregnancy and so I put my faith in God to provide me with a child if it was in the plan he had for me. I prayed about it and finally in October of last year, we found out we were expecting.

We found out extremely early because I was diligently monitoring my cycle. We had a long way to go before we were going to be telling people, but I did confide in my mom (of course) and my close girlfriends who were emphatically excited for us.

And so began the doctor appointments and decisions on which tests to have performed. I have been a patient of Moreland OB-GYN for many years and trust them fully with my medical needs. Because both my husband and I have down syndrome in our families, we opted for the MaterniT21 test that would let us know if there were any chromosomal abnormalities with the baby. And a separate bonus of this test, because it goes down to the DNA level, is that you can find out the gender earlier than your 18-20 week ultrasound.

I had an ultrasound around 8 weeks because of some pains I was having in my uterus. As a first-time mom, I wanted to make sure everything was ok and get answers from the pros. The ultrasound confirmed that Baby A (what we are calling the baby) was completely fine and the pains were most likely my body growing and stretching to make room.

Because of the ultrasound, we had our first images of Baby A. And we received the MaterniT21 results a few days before Christmas--no chromosomal abnormalities were found and also Baby A is a…..BOY! Because my husband already has two daughters, he was so thrilled that it was a boy. For me, I didn’t care either way, just want a healthy baby.

Christmas marked 13 weeks and out of the first trimester. Overall, my first trimester was rather easy—a little nausea and definitely was very tired all the time. We put a plan in place to tell his daughters and our close family at Christmas but that our full announcement would then happen after the holiday. 

Baby A has made this past Christmas extra special and memorable for us being able to surprise everyone and in return receive so much love. Our favorite announcement was telling my step-daughters. I purchase shirts from Etsy for the girls, “Big Sister Again,” and “Big Sister Finally.” It was only right for them to find out in a special way and be told before others.

The Friday before Christmas, we let the girls each open one special gift. It seemed to take the girls forever to unwrap the shirts and read them, but the moment of surprise-shock once they figured out what the shirt meant is forever in my memories. The screams and squeals to follow confirmed their ecstatic excitement to get a sibling, and a brother at that. After the squeals subsided, the questions began and haven’t stopped yet. Though we (thankfully) weren’t asked how did this happen (aka where do babies come from), we have been asked a million other questions.

My mom is super excited and already knitted Baby A a pair of booties in Duke Blue Devils colors (my husbands favorite college basketball team), and my step-daughter Samantha does a ton of knitting and already made the baby a little hat. 

Each week I provide my husband and the girls a Baby A size update from my apps that I use to monitor my pregnancy. One of the apps compares the baby to food (lime, mango, artichoke) and the other compares it to a gadget (Nintendo controller, Game Boy, TI-86 calculator). I love the food references, my husband loves the gadget references.

I am trying to do my best to take in every moment and remember this pregnancy. There are many things that are coming as a surprise to me as a first-time mom, but the journey is exciting and I can’t wait for Baby A to arrive. Watch for another update on my second-into third trimester coming up.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Murf's Fish Fry

With the official start of the Lenten season next week Wednesday, where many Catholics make the decision to not eat meat on Fridays, I found it only fitting to write about Wisconsin's favorite Friday night activity - Fish Frys!! (Is it Fish Frys or Fish Fries??? I did some research but didn't get a definite answer.)

I have been a fan of Murf's in Waukesha for the better part of two decades. During college, I had a friend that worked there who we would occasionally visit. One memorable night, I  was rollerblading around Waukesha with a friend and  we found ourselves to be starving. We stopped at Murf's to see what our money could get us. We had enough to get a bucket of fish, complete with fries, rye bread, coleslaw, and of course tartar. Though that night happened about 17 years ago, that fish fry stuck with me. We ate it on the tables outside of Murf's on a beautiful summer evening and then rollerbladed back home during sunset.

Since then, I have told many people about Murf's and stopped there from time to time myself, though never again on rollerblades.

Recently, I introduced my husband to Murf's and he in turn has told many people about it. He even had a guy's night and instead of just ordering pizza or getting wings, all the guys got Murf's and we made many the place have even more fans.

Though they are mainly known for their burgers and custard, the fish fry is still as amazing as I remember. My husband and I love fish frys - be it at home or out in the area, and with Lent starting next week, I see many fish frys in our future (and a lot of Wisconsinites' futures!)

My husband had not had the fish fry from Murf's so it was time to dazzle his taste buds with this great fish. We ordered the 8-piece meal instead of two four-piece dinners to save ourselves a little bit of money. Murf's was hopping as always, but it didn't take too long for our meal to come out.

I was happy to see the exact fish that I remembered from that summer night so long ago. We each fixed ourselves a plate and went to town making our bellies happy.

The fish is generously sized cod fillets that are breaded solidly, but not thickly. You could actually pick up the pieces and eat it like chicken tenders with your fingers if you wanted, but we opted to cut it with our forks.

The butter was really cold, so I actually put it under the fish on the tray to help warm it up before spreading it on my rye bread--worked like a charm.

At first my husband and I were worried about the amount of tartar we received. We enjoy dipping our frys in tartar as well, so we thought we were going to run out. But actually it ended up being a perfect amount and the tartar was quite good. Rye bread was also nice, fresh, and delicious with the warmed butter.

I wasn't a fan of the coleslaw, but I am a bit more picky on this overall. There are very few that I like and I prefer a more vinegar-based style. This was very creamy with lots of mayo and just wasn't my thing. But if they have been offering it for all this time, I know others must enjoy it.

This fish fry is very near the top of my husbands and my list for go-to fish fry. It's close to home and it was really good. We hope to venture out a lot more during Lent and try even more fish frys to add to our arsenal. Here are some of the others that we have tried in the past few years that we have really enjoyed and suggest you check out. I would love to hear your favorite spots for fish frys in the Waukesha area.

Cue Club of Wisconsin - probably the top of our list
People's Park
Delafield Brew Haus
Thunder Bay Grille - splure for the seafood fondue as an appetizer - it's soooo worth it!
Tally's Tap & Eatery
Tofte's Table
Spring City Restaurant

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Easy Valentine's Day Treats

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day - a day to tell those you love how much they mean to you. The holiday dates back centuries and though many think it's a Hallmark holiday, it's really something so much more. I shared a post on The Lake Country Mom about things you can do for the holiday with all of your loved ones. And this week, I experimented and made some simple chocolate treats with my mom.

There are a variety of Waukesha businesses that also have chocolate dipped items--cookies, pretzels, strawberries, and more. But if you are crunched for time, or you want to make something so it's more special, this could be your option.

These treats are so easy to whip together, it almost takes longer to preheat the oven or melt the chocolate in the microwave than make the actual treats. And the mess was very minimal and clean up was quick and easy.

We started with chocolate Rolo pretzels. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and while that is happening, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Start with a layer of square pretzels and then place a Rolo chocolate candy on top of each pretzel. Then place in the oven for just three minutes so the chocolate gets a little melty. Push an M&M into the top of each--and push down just enough to mush everything all together. (Aren't these seasonal M&Ms so cute?!?!)

In addition to the pretzel treats, we melted some chocolate in the microwave to dip cookies. If you don't want to purchase a lot of items, you can buy these grab cups and seasonal M&Ms. Usually those cookie cups are in the 10 for $10 bin at Pick 'n Save.

We tried to "fork" or "toothpick" the cookies to help with the dipping, but the cookies wouldn't stay together or fell off in the chocolate. We settled for dipping half the treats.

My mom and I also figured out the calorie content of each treat, and honestly, they aren't that bad. (If you don't eat too many.)

Each treat is under 40 calories, except the regular size Oreos. Those didn't work the best in the chocolate but I just had to dip one of the new Most Stuf Oreos (that have 110 calories each before the chocolate dip!!!)

My mom and I had a great time experimenting and making some treats. She took some home for my dad and I have some to share with Jake this week for a quick sweet treat for my sweetie. I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day, no matter what you do.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sobelman's Waukesha

Recently, the hubs and I were looking for someplace to go for lunch on the weekend. We have our staples of Culver's, Taco Bell, and Cousins, but I wanted something different. I pulled the discount card off the fridge (thanks to the Waukesha West Baseball team) and saw Sobelman's on there. I convinced the hubs that we should try it as neither of us had been there yet.

The location of Sobelman's in Waukesha has been quite a few things in the past couple of decades. When I went to Carroll, it was Mulligan's, a popular college bar. After my college years, it became a few other bars before becoming a country bar that then turned into Sobelman's. The owners of Sobelman's Waukesha also own Boscos Social Club in downtown and I went to college with one of the owners and had friends in a similar circle. It's awesome to see that they stayed local after college and now have successful businesses in the city.

When we walked into Sobelman's, the first thing I noticed was how different it was from the college days. The bar used to jut out in the room and take up a ton of space. Now the bar is L-shaped allowing for more tables for dining. They added cool rustic lighting with mason jars and lots of local vintage signage.

We grabbed a high top table in the middle of the place and were promptly greeted by our server. We showed our coupon for free cheese balls right away and she told us it was a great choice. I ordered a cherry coke and the hubs ordered a Mt. Dew copycat called Mountain Mist from Dang! That's Good soda company (from Milwaukee!). It wasn't Mt. Dew, but it was still good. And my cherry coke was made with grenadine - delicious.

Sobelman's is known for their awesome burgers and has even made national TV shows with a local burger battle in Milwaukee.  I am a sucker for a Mushroom Swiss burger (my go-to at Culver's) so I had to try theirs. The hubs went for The Hangover (though he didn't have one) and just said no to the onions.

Our cheese balls came out wicked fast and oh man were they good. "No cheese ball left behind" was our mantra because we didn't want any of the cheesy goodness to go to waste. The cheese is breaded in a delicious coating and then deep fried. The ranch that comes with is awesome and the pairing really got our buds going. We ate about half the order before our burgers came.

The burger patties are flatter than other places in Waukesha, but with how they pile on the toppings, you still get a huge sandwich. (Is a burger a sandwich?) The buns are nice and buttery on the outside and soft on the inside. My burger had more mushrooms on it than I have ever gotten and they were sauteed perfectly. The cheese was melty and the whole pairing worked really well. I ate half the sandwich as is, and for the second half, I ate just the burger and toppings because I was too full to eat the bun too. The pickle slices on the side are nice, super crisp, and dilly.

The hubs burger looked amazing - one smush down on the sandwich had the fried egg running all over. He said it was cooked perfectly and it added egg to every bite. The sandwich also had cheese and bacon. He devoured the entire thing and was very impressed.

Our server was extremely attentive and we never ran out of beverages, had plenty of napkins, and she made sure we liked everything we got. She even chatted with us a bit about their other specials and how awesome it is to work for this company. Most servers don't take that kind of time any more or say it nearly as sincerely as she did - so that awesome to hear and something I wanted to relay.

Sobelman's is known for their Bloody Mary's and even has one with an entire fried chicken on top! We didn't try any that day--me, because I'm expecting, and the hubs, because he didn't think he needed a third lunch that day :) (They really can be meals in themselves, can't they?) But we are definitely going to keep this place in mind for lazy Saturdays and invite some friends for Bloody Mary's and a great meal.

They also have wing night on Wednesdays and Fish Fry on Fridays - plenty of reasons for us to go back. And if it wasn't for that coupon to get us in the door the first time, I'm not sure how long it would have taken us to try this gem.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Boombalatti's Pizza Co.

I like to believe that I have always lived a healthy lifestyle--making good food choices and staying active. Since I was little, I was always riding my bike around town, playing volleyball, basketball, and softball, and I loved to dance, both classical ballet and competitive poms. Even after my sports days ended with high school, I continued to stay active with bike rides and I even added running/jogging into the mix. But the older I get, the easier I find it to fall into really poor habits and it's a lot harder to keep the weight off.

My love affair with the gym is one of epic proportions and probably something to discuss on another post. In a nutshell, I have joined and cancelled multiple gyms in the past 15 years and hopefully this time around, I have found the commitment to stick with this one and keep going.

But staying active is only half of the challenge--you can workout all you want and burn calories, but if you go home and chow down on unhealthy options and eat more calories than you burn, it's all for nothing.

Right before I met my husband, I had found a solid routine that balanced healthy eating and working out regularly and I'm aiming to get back to that lifestyle (but I know it won't be easy).

I fall victim to carbs all too often. I am a girl that loves bread, pasta, potatoes--if its a white carb, I love it. And I have had fears that I will never be able to break the habit. But I am also someone that knows I can't go extreme or I will fail. Everything in moderation is ok.

Cue in Boombalatti's Pizza Company -- I first heard of the company from an article in the Waukesha Freeman introducing the company as a low carb/keto-friendly pizza company and I was instantly intrigued. The business utilizes the kitchen at the Easter Seals building and provides fresh pizzas (and a few other goodies) to take and bake at home.

My husband and I are finishing up our "Biggest Loser Challenge" this month. It consisted of changing out lifestyles however we each wanted to be supportive of each other's choices. I increased my activity level and shrank portions, and my husband has cut his ties with the vending machine at work to provide ourselves with a healthier lifestyle.

I ordered from Boombalatti's and got a sausage, black olive, and green pepper pizza for us to try. The pizza is a 10' round, which doesn't sound that large, but let me tell you it is. The owner makes her own crust and sauce from scratch and loads up the pizza with plenty of toppings. Cooking instructions are provided and it's no more difficult that making a Papa Murphy's.

Once out of the oven, the pizza looked and smelled just like a regular pizza. Though the crust didn't get nearly as crispy as my husband likes, I thoroughly enjoyed the pizza. To me, it wasn't too far from a regular pizza in flavor, and knowing I was enjoying fewer carbs made it even closer to regular pizza for me.

Boombalatti's is growing in popularity and offering more days to for pickup during the week. How it works is that you order in advance before the pickup day, pay online, and then come during the pickup time window and your pizza is ready for you.

I have had a few conversations with the owner and she is experimenting with more varieties of pizza and food options and has a very solid following for those looking for gluten-free/keto-friendly food options that are fresh and local. I see good things in her future!