Monday, October 1, 2012

another delivery

Can't believe month two of the Foodie Pen Pal exchange is already over! It's been so busy. This time, my sender was Roxanne from Connecticut. She sent lots of goodies from her home state:
  • Two bags of Deep River Potato Chips -- I think we had these in New York, though I'd never seen the Aged Cheddar Horseradish flavor
  • A Nate's Yankee Bar -- jam-packed with cranberries, and not too sweet
  • Honey Ginger Crystals -- not local; from China, I believe, and I'm really looking forward to finding these for myself
  • Savor Nicasia cookies -- we all loved these little guys, which are flavored with lemon, rosemary and sea salt...even Guinness
Thanks for sending, Roxanne!

Friday, September 7, 2012

dabbling in cheesemaking

The evening was balmy, perfect for a garden tour. My friend Alysse and I arrived in Hales Corners with seven other women for a cheesemaking class at Mia Famiglia, an Italian restaurant that focuses on local ingredients. But first, while we could still see outside, Chef Tomas showed us his sprawling kitchen garden and apiary -- fascinating! I've never been that close to a beehive before, and it really did buzz. He said that if I didn't show fear, they wouldn't become alarmed, so I bravely stepped forward so I could check it out -- he was right. No swarming...on me, at least.

Friday, August 31, 2012

foodie penpal reveal!

In late July, my foodie friend Sarah told me about an online program she'd discovered called Foodie Penpals that's run by Lindsay of the Lean Green Bean. Some of you might know that as a kid, I had several pen pals, and I still love to write -- and receive! -- letters and postcards today (Izzy and I have been writing since we were 6 and 7). The idea that I could have another pen pal paired with a mystery package of yummy foods was enough to make me hop in line. Well, today's the big reveal, when all the Foodie Penpals bloggers post about what they received this month.

Friday, July 13, 2012

we grew this! eastern eggs florentine

I guess it was around Memorial Day that Ian and I planted our veggie garden, this nice 6x8 raised bed that the previous homeowners installed. We're using the Square-Foot Gardening technique in hopes that we'll be able to grow more types of produce than we otherwise would using the row technique. So far, it's working fabulously well, and even though we're experiencing severe drought (are you sick of hearing about this yet?), things are growing really well -- including our bok choi, an Asian cabbage that looks kind of like a mix of celery and chard, shown here in the center right soon after it was planted.

Monday, June 25, 2012

a pleasing palette

While the contractors are hard at work inside the house, the plants are growing, growing, growing outside. Ian has been a trouper, watering nearly every day -- and the weather forecast suggests there’s no end in sight. (Sorry.) I’m especially pleased with the results in the front garden.

I put in a few perennials, but since we’re planning a major revamp this fall and don't want to stress stuff out by moving it, I added mostly annuals. The previous homeowners had planted a number of spring-blooming perennials and the enormous hostas, which were fairly easy to work around -- their foliage is a nice uniform green, and they blend in nicely.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

inspiration overload

If you’re following me on Facebook, you might know that I’ve been feeling a little bit overwhelmed about our impending choice in paint colors. When we started our house hunt, I was thrilled that we could finally have colored walls, and found inspiration everywhere I looked.

Now that we’ve signed with a contractor and construction starts next week(!), there’s a looming deadline. Somehow, I’m finding too much inspiration, so I’m feeling the pressure to choose. After some friends gave me wise advice about searching for color combos here, here and on Pinterest, and just by googling the name on the paint chip to see what others have come up with, I’m starting to feel a lot better. (Thanks.) Ian is much more relaxed about the whole thing. (Who’s surprised?) He has already chosen his office color: white.

Friday, June 1, 2012

this old house

Last November (the same day we got Guinness, actually), Ian and I began our house hunt. That first day, we toured five homes on Milwaukee’s East Side, where we were determined to live. In all, we looked at around 30 houses that seemed to cover every part of the house-condition spectrum: a cozy but obviously crooked bungalow; a creepy old boarding house; some cute but character-less flipped ones; a former commercial building; and a few foreclosures that had once been beautiful, but are now crumbling inside, the ceilings dropping off in gobs and the walls covered in mold thanks to burst pipes and general neglect.

As we hadn’t spent much time in houses there -- which are typically 100-plus years old -- it took awhile to realize that, rather than spend on a house that had been rehabbed in a style we didn’t love, we’d rather buy low and make exactly the changes we want.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

meet guinness

What: Female African pygmy hedgehog
Full name: Guinness Harriet Martin Cliffe, after Harriet the Spy, because of the way she tilts her head and looks at us out of one eye
Aliases: GP (for Guin-nea Pig), Huffy Hufferton, Tubby Tubberton, Bubby, Bubbers and Bubberton
Coloring: Pinto (same as the horse; she has a few pure-white patches on her sides) with a white furry tummy
Namesake: Most of her quills (which don't come out like a porcupine's) look like the stout; dark brown on the bottom and white on top
Length: 7-1/2 in. (when we got her, she was about 5 in.)
Weight: 1 lb., 1 oz. (when we got her, she was about 7 oz.)
Birthday: September 21, 2011 (thank you, Earth Wind & Fire)
Gotcha day: November 14, 2011, just outside State Fair Park (from a breeder whose husband wanted to go to the train show)
Home: A two-level cage with a ramp that Ian made; her food is at the top and she is really good at using the ramp, unless it is blocked, at which point, she flops down to the first floor
Modus: Being afraid of everything
Life goal: Being brave
Feels like: When she's calm, her quills lie flat on her back and feel like rice; when she's upset, her quills stand straight up and are quite sharp -- and her tummy is very soft, if she lets you touch it
Eats: Dry and wet kitten food, mealworms, green beans, corn, carrots and shortbread cookies
Likes: Digging, climbing, burrowing, snuggling, playing outside (under strict supervision), sleeping in her special blanket, huffing at frightening sights and sounds, exploring the world with a toilet paper tube on her head, playing catch with Ian (she is the ball), cigarette butts, meeting new people
Dislikes: Apples, being tickled, getting her picture taken (especially for holidays), sitting still, her ball, leashes, meeting new people

I've obviously been sitting on this post since November, for absolutely no good reason at all. But even though it's very, very old by Web standards, it still deserves to be read.

Want to know anything else about our little hog?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

craving a good sandwich

Doesn't everyone? So, when my friend Sarah invited me to check out The Loaded Slate, I accepted. It's in a cute old building on Milwaukee's Old World Third Street, now dwarfed by the under-construction Moderne. Inside, baseball and soccer were on the TVs, a couple motor scooters were leaned against walls and all the guys were nursing Bloody Marys -- it's a bro bar. True to the name, chalkboards were scattered about the place, depicting everything from drink specials to whom to call for a good time (that one was in the bathroom -- pretty sure someone on the staff would have picked up if you called it). 
The tables had a chalkboard-painted board in the center, surrounded by a trough for chalk. Very clever. And much, much cleaner and less dusty than I'd expected. Thank goodness. A little background: I was nervous to come here because I hate chalk. When I am in a serious situation and for some reason, start to get the giggles, I think of chewing a piece of chalk to keep myself from laughing. Gross? Maybe. But it works.
Anyway, the beer list was pretty good, our server was very attentive, but the food was just OK. (And I think Sarah and I were both horrified by the caddy of plastic silverware at our table.) My server-recommended Slamberry sandwich sounded promising, especially the cranberry mustard sauce, and I was excited for the tater tots, which I haven't eaten in years. I took my first bite and discovered unseasoned chicken, a centimeter-thick layer of raw spinach, and greasy cheese. No cranberry mustard. I did request an extra ramekin of it from our server, and that helped, but it was not enough to redeem the sandwich. I didn't try Sarah's burger, but we could smell Cheez Whiz before the plate even arrived at the table.
Needless to say, I won't be at The Loaded Slate anytime soon. Or ever. But if Smirnoff bombs and College Night are your thing, you won't be disappointed.

This visit has made another Milwaukee sandwich spot shine even more brightly: Melthouse Bistro. Sarah, our friend Tiffany, and I went there a few months ago for an event co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Cheese Board and I've been back a few times since. Melthouse Bistro's goal is to serve as any locally grown and sourced products as possible (everything from cheese to produce to wine), and as its name suggests, it serves finger-lickin' good grilled cheese sandwiches. I had bites of several at the event and enjoyed all, though I think my favorite was The Heartland. I worked with the owners for a project I was doing at Reader's Digest, and they are wonderful, generous people who really believe in their mission. And so do I! Go.

Have you had an amazing sandwich lately?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

six months later

Hello. It's nice to see you! And it's nice to be back.

The last six months have flown by, and as you've probably noticed, I haven't blogged. Well, that's not entirely true. I've done some editor's posts on the Birds & Blooms blog, and have "met" some truly outstanding garden bloggers, including Gayla Trail and Margaret Roach. I've been dreaming about gardening a lot lately, and have big ideas for upcoming opportunities. But more on that later...

I've also picked up a freelance gig with, working on their new local wedding blog, It's been incredibly fun to pick up where I left off a couple of years ago, and it's gratifying to be able to introduce local wedding resources to couples in Southeastern Wisconsin. As someone who married in this area, I know how hard it is to see something inspirational in a magazine and then try to find it here. And that's what Wed In Milwaukee is about. Last Tuesday, we were formally introduced to the masses via a blog post on OnMilwaukee and a billboard on I-94 East (near the 27th St. exit), which resulted in an extremely positive response.

More notable things have happened since I last checked in, and I'm excited to tell you about them. Imagine me putting out my pinky -- pinky-swearing that you'll see me way more often. Until then, happy spring. I missed you!