Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 - The Best Year of My Life

My company's 30th Anniversary trip to Las Vegas (Tom is in the yellow hat)
Two months have flown by since my last post, though it doesn't feel like that to me. At the end of September, I found out some devastating news about my boss Tom--he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He was given a diagnosis of one to three months and this turned my world upside down. My boss, mentor, and friend of 13+ years wasn't going to take treatment and would instead spend his remaining days surrounded with family and friends. His faith in God is like no other that I have witnessed.

Just two months and one day into his diagnosis Tom took his last breath surround by his family. During his service, the priest said some words that struck quite a few of us. "Strive to live your life in order to have as many people at your funeral as Tom had." I have never attended a wake or service with so many people at it--over 1400 people attended the wake and there wasn't a seat available at St. Gabriel's Church. There were so many other sides to my boss' life that I was unaware of his impact. 

So needless to say, my end of 2016 wasn't ideal, but I have learned some really important lessons that I'm carrying into 2017. 1) Life is unpredictable - live every moment like it's your last. 2) Being the nice guy does pay off.  3) Every moment is a moment to remember, no matter how big or small. 4) Do the things that bring you joy. 

So as part of living out these lessons, I am dedicating myself back to my love of writing, including writing about the city that I love, Waukesha. And 2017 is a year that holds big things for me and I plan to bring you along for the ride. It's truly going to be the best year of my life and full of so many amazing events.

1) I marry the love of my life in April and we begin the next chapter of our life together. 
2) The purchase of a new home that is larger for all of us. 
3) A hiking trip with my ladies to Colorado in June
4) And of course all of my ventures around the city. 

Though I didn't make many formal resolutions this year like I have in past years, I did make one to be more organized. This will help my life in so many ways. I plan to get on a more routine schedule, keep my desk organized at work and keep my household clean. This will help us be prepared for selling, and by doing these things, I will make more time for ME! 

See you soon! 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Playing Catch Up

Yikes- August 24 was my last post to you guys - I'm sooooooo sorry. This year has been flying by and wedding planning has taken a forefront to my personal writing and downtime lately. But don't worry, I have still gone out and enjoyed many places downtown with friends and family.

Let's start with some upcoming fun, then a quick recap of what I have been up to. And then I PROMISE that I will get more thorough blogs out on each of these topics below before November is over!!!

First off - can you believe we are less than two months away from Christmas! The season is upon us. I recently wrote about the downtown Waukesha happenings for the holidays for the Waukesha Pewaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau. Check out the post here.

Ok - here's a brief recap of what I have been doing.

Salsa Chicken - super simple dinner!
1. I have been experimenting with new recipes and family favorites. I try to cook one new dish a week -- sometimes they are kiddo friendly and other times, they are for more advanced palettes. I also recently completed a 10-day cleanse and it taught me a lot about my food choices and what I should be eating. I would say I haven't had any cooking "fails" lately, so that is always a plus. Meals include chicken salad (two ways), chicken cordon blue pasta, "crack" brownies (seriously so good), salsa chicken and z'paghetti noodles with shrimp.

2. I have enjoyed a few meals out and about with friends and my fiance. Gyros West, Bernie's Tap Room, Meli and Tofte's Table top the list of places I have visited late.

Lighthouse Events Pumpkin Run in Oconomowoc
3. I am really trying to get myself into a fitness schedule in addition to eating better. The wedding is coming up in less than six months and I have some work to do before the big day. I signed up again for the Winter Run Series with Lighthouse Events and just completed my first of the five. I also have been trail run/walking with my friend Tory.
Nature Trails at Retzer Nature Center, Waukesha

White Gull Inn Fish Boil
4. I recently had my bachelorette party up in Door County. We did it early because we wanted to make sure things would be open while we were up there. My MOH picked the perfect weekend and we really lucked out with weather. I ate plenty of cherry items and partook in the famous Fish Boil at White Gull Inn. Upon returning, I checked out Raised Grain's Door County Cherry IPA to reminisce on the amazing weekend. I won't be sharing all the details of that weekend, but it was a great time and we actually hope to make it an annual trip.
Raised Grain beer flight

Oscar H. Hanson Bed & Breakfast - Breakfast
5. My fiance and I just returned from a quick weekend trip to Cambridge and stayed at the amazing Oscar H. Hanson House B&B. The service was stellar and we found plenty to do in the neighboring cities to keep up entertained for a few days. We definitely will return to the B&B and maybe venture deeper into Madison next time.

Ok - so before November is over, I promise my readers will see at least four new posts. I am making a commitment with my fitness to also give myself more person time. Typing, doing crafts, or reading gives me less time to snack and more time for creative outlets.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Daylee Public House

Daylee Public House is the brainchild of Simply Irresistible Catering's owner, Megan Day. She was provided an opportunity last summer to lease a space on the west end of Main Street and expand her catering business into a bar and (soon) restaurant. The space is next door to Waukesha Tattoo Company and Megan did an amazing job with the design and decor. Simplistic but unique.
I apologize for my darker images, but I promise you, it's not that dark inside. She has a great combination of seating space and open areas to accommodate large grounds. This expanded space now allows her to host private parties, which is one way her business is growing. She has been a caterer for a few years and now can host functions in her own location--birthdays, retirements, showers, reunions, and more!
The garage door opens up to a pergola covered deck that can accommodate a great sized crowd as well.
She still has her take-n-bake options in a freezer case near the front of the bar. May I recommend the lasagna, meatballs and glazed carrots - totally drool-worthy! And if you plan to stay for a while, Megan can cook up one of these for your group while you enjoy some libations. Or she might just have some treats ready for you to enjoy!

Daylee Public House has a nice selection of tap and bottled beer, liquor, and wine. There is definitely something for everyone.

One of the many things that draws me to this bar is the fact that it sells pitchers of New Age, only the best summer wine. It's a Tincho and you serve it over ice with a lime for a very refreshing beverage. There was no problem that my friend and I were going to polish off this pitcher.

Megan grills out for the Friday Night Live's in downtown Waukesha, so take a walk down to west Main Street and check out her place. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wings Around Waukesha: Club 400 Wings

I am a Carroll University (but back in my day College) alum and one of the places that I frequented on a Thursday night, for a few libations to relax after a stressful week of classes, was Club 400. That bar and Mulligans (now Spurs Saloon) were the closest bars to campus for the Carroll community to enjoy. I never ate food there during my college days, but it was shortly after I graduated and started my "real job" that I found out about the upstairs at Club 400 and spent many Thursday nights up there.

On Thursdays and select weekend nights, the upstairs of Club 400 is open to accommodate the increased number of diners. Though I used to go with my coworker and her family and close friends, many of my fellow Carroll alum would be in attendance as well. It was always great to catch up and I made a few new friends as well.

I hadn't been to Club 400 for quite a few years, but recently my fiance and I were looking for a place to eat and he had never been. We arrived early and took one of the few booths across from the bar on the main level. The building is a historic landmark and the itricate wood detailing of the back bar definitely shows off this fact. I walked up to the bar to see how the wings had changed since I had last been there. They now have order forms and you order by the 1/2 or full pound, pick one of the ten sauces, blue cheese or ranch, and celery.

I ordered a pound of teriyaki wings with bone-in and my fiance ordered a half of each garlic Parmesan and Thai flavored boneless wings. We were feeling glutinous and ordered onion rings and sour cream and chive fries too.
It didn't take long for our food to arrive and our little booth for two was completely covered with baskets. They brought over a bucket for wing bones and the table had napkins on it.
We dug in while the food was hot. My wings were just as good as I remembered. They are a decent size wing and just enough sauce. The sauce had great flavor as well. I was able to finish almost all my wings.

My fiance liked his Thai wings better than the garlic Parmesan. Because of my sensitive buds, I only tried once of the garlic Parmesan--it reminded me of Pizza Hut's garlic breadsticks that they used to sell in the PIT at Carroll. Ahhhh the memories!

The sour cream and chive fries were delicious as always with ranch on the side and the onion rings were really big and yummy.

If you are looking for a great wing place in town, Club 400 is the place to go - and non-wing eaters will find plenty on the menu as well.

Club 400 Rating (Max Score of 5): 4.4

Flavors: 4 Drumsticks (10 flavors - many were too spicy for me)

Size: 4 Drumsticks

Taste: 4 Drumsticks

Price:  2.5 Drumsticks on non-wing night 7.00 / 4.5 Drumsticks on wing night $.35 each

Temp: 4.5 Drumsticks - nice and hot

Sauces: Options are Ranch & Blue Cheese

Veggies: Celery is offered

Wet Naps: Not provided with wing order - didn't ask if they had them available but napkins were right on your table.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Grilling Steaks

Summertime in Wisconsin is when my grill really gets a workout. I am almost embarrassed to say my first gas tank on my grill lasted two years before fizzling out--with burgers on the grill! Maybe I just got lucky and got a super filled one? I really do grill a lot, but when it's just two people (or sometimes one) you don't need a ton of gas. And I have a Kwik Trip really close for exchanges, so those burgers never went to waste--the new tank was on before they could even cool down.

July 4th is a grilling day across this great nation and I partake every year. Obviously July 4th has a much bigger meaning than that, but if grilling out in our backyards definitely says freedom to me. Thank you to all our service folks--past, present, and future-- for this day of celebration. There is always a get-together somewhere and if I'm not "manning" the grill myself, I'm bringing something delicious to grill at someone else's event.

The Wisconsin Whisk group sent out an invite in June to do a BBQ blog hop and I was assigned grilled meat. So many recipes went through my head.

This year, we are fortunate to have two family's providing their grills to us on the holiday weekend. We are spending the 3rd with my guys family in the Appleton area. The adults are all getting steaks and the kiddos get hot dogs (they don't appreciate good meat yet!). On the 4th, we are spending time with my parents and not sure what will be grilled yet, but it will be something awesome.

Last weekend I had my folks over for an impromptu grill out. We marinated some steaks and thawed some 'dogs for the girls. Though steaks don't always need a marinade, when you don't spend top dollar, you can sometimes enhance a steak's flavor with a few key seasonings.

I have become a huge fan of vinegar and read a few years ago that it helps break down meat proteins to make them less tough. I don't want to take away from the grilled meat flavor too much so I keep my marinades simple and only on for a short length of time.

For our steaks, I made a simple marinade from Red Wine Vinegar infused with garlic, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, EVOO, salt, and pepper. See below for measurements for two small steaks.

I only let the steaks marinate for two hours and then brought them back to room temp before grilling so they would cook evenly. I am still mastering steaks on my gas grill as it has warm and hot spots. I am very cautious with overcooking, so I use a meat thermometer to check internal temp. And I always remember that food continues to cook even after removed from the heat. LET IT REST!

My parents brought over some thick petite fillets and though they only marinaded for a half hour, my parents still tasted the added flavor and were impressed. It added just enough extra to the meat without taking away from the quality that we bought.

On the side we had boiled corn on the cob, shrimp pasta salad, fresh watermelon, and peanut butter frosted chocolate cupcakes for dessert. This was a meal that scream cookout to my fiance and I. We were so happy with the turnout of everything. And yes in Wisconsin, watermelon and corn cobs are ready for the season, so eat up! Happy Independence Day Everyone!

Easy Steak Marinade (for 2 steaks)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
slightly < 1//8 red wine vinegar (I used a garlic infused)
1 Tbsp. EVOO
dash of salt
dash of pepper

Put all in a Ziploc bag with the steaks (we selected think filets, but it worked well with fat cuts too - about 1 lb meat total). Seal and turn end over end to get the marinade all over the steaks. Place in fridge and flip bag after 1 hour. Marinate 2 hours max. Grill to your liking and enjoy with your favorite side dish recipes.

See all the other participating Wisconsin Whisk bloggers' recipes at the link below.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wings Around Waukesha: Bullwinkle's

Bullwinkle's (Formerly known as Panos) is a sports bar and banquet facility just barely outside of the Waukesha city limits in Brookfield. I have been here a few times for both banquets and food, but I just tried the wings for the first time on my latest visit.

Friends of ours had just returned from an amazing European vacation and we met up with them to catch up and hear all about the trip. We decided to grab a table in the bar area. If you ever want to watch a sporting event with friends, this is your place. There isn't a seat in the bar that you can't see at least four TVs from! And the decor is extremely sporty - very different than the banquet rooms downstairs. They do have outdoor seating but it was a little chilly and being out front, it's right near noisy Bluemound Rd.

On Tuesdays, the wings are half price and it's also happy hour until 7 pm. The happy hour includes domestic beer and rail drink discounts and complimentary appetizers (cheese and crackers and the like). We were there for the wings so we spent a few minutes deciding on the sauces that each of us would try.

Bullwinkle's has a designated wing area on their menu with ordering sizes the sauces listed in heat order. Baby Moose included 10 wings, Mama Moose was 20, and Papa Moose was 30 wings. I tended to stay towards the milder options, but between the four of us we tried terriyaki, sweet Thai chili, Jamaican me crazy, and a few others. I also order deep friend pickle spears.

The wings came out rather quickly and everything was nicely labeled for us. Wings come with celery and ranch or blue cheese. The sauce level on the wings was a decent amount and not overly saucy.

The wings were nice and big and full of flavor. They were juicy and the flavors were great. Our friends like a bit more heat and said the ones they tried could have been hotter, but overall everyone thought they were great.

The pickle spears were a little harder to eat than pickle slices. The spear would separate from the breading and all come out with the first bite. But the breading I did try was delicious. I think I'll stick to slices from here forward when ordering.

Bullwinkle's Rating (Max Score of 5): 4.4

Flavors: 5 Drumsticks (lots of flavors - something for everyone)

Size: 4.5 Drumsticks

Taste: 4 Drumsticks

Price: 2.5 Drumsticks on non-wing night 12.99 for 10! /4 Drumsticks on wing night ($.65 each)

Temp: 4.5 Drumsticks - nice and hot

Sauces: Options are Ranch & Blue Cheese

Veggies: Celery is offered

Wet Naps: Not provided with wing order - didn't ask if they had them available

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer Fun Has Begun

Sky Above Pewaukee Beach
Memorial Day weekend was very busy for us, but an absolute blast. I'm still recovering from all the fun, thus the delay in getting this post out. Here's the breakdown starting with Thursday.

Got home from work and went to his daughter's school for their spring concert. After we headed to Murf's for a bite to eat. 

Murf's in Waukesha
Friday we both put in our eight work hours and ran for the doors for the weekend. We grabbed dinner with our friend Kacey at Rox Bar and Grille and then headed back to our place. The guys planned a movie night and I was along for the ride as I had no plans until.......
Rox Bar & Grille, Waukesha
Tory's plans changed for the night and we headed to downtown Waukesha to leave the guys with their movies. We checked out Daylee Public House and People's Park. Daylee Public House is going to have pitchers of New Age wine - first place I have ever found that does that and I'm overjoyed - see you regularly! 
Daylee Public House Outdoor Deck Seating

Daylee Public House libations
People's Park Rooftop
Saturday morning started early with my fiance and I meeting my parents at the Waukesha Farmers' Market and picked up some plants and bread. Then it was over to Roots Coffee Bar and Cafe for breakfast before heading to my parents to hang out. They need to take down a few trees this year so we walked the yard and assessed. Then my fiance and I headed home to grocery shop. 

Roots Coffee Bar & Cafe - Waukesha
Sunday we hosted a Memorial Day grill out with lots of laughter and good eats. People stayed late and it was a gorgeous night.  My wine bottle Tiki torches worked well for decor but aren't strong enough for mosquito resistance. 
Pinterest Wine Bottle Tiki Torches for the win!
Monday I headed out to Pewaukee Lake with Tory and we got their just in time for the parade. We watched the 21-gun salute before finding a nice spot on the sand. After a few hours, we decided to check out the rental option for kayaks and before I knew it, I was heading towards a fun island on the lake. This is by far my new favorite hobby and I will make sure my next vehicle has roof rack so I can do this all the time with my own kayak. I might have also worked out a storage option with an awesome friend with lake property :)
Pewaukee Beach
Kayaking at Pewaukee Beach
By Monday night I was exhausted but we still played some games at a friends' house and enjoyed another great evening. I was pretty much done by 9 pm and my back was screaming at me for lacking in the sunscreen department (paying for that now with itching and peeling!). 
I'm on a boat!
Tuesday was sad to see come, but it was definitely an awesome way to kick off the summer. I plan to get some posts up soon about all this awesomeness in more detail so you can enjoy it for yourself. But any place that I listed in this post is highly rated by this girl!