I hope the start to your holiday season is going well! I have been finding moments to get in the spirit amidst the end-of-semester madness. I took my first final today. One down, four to go! In the meantime, I've been enjoying the holiday decorations and have started my Christmas shopping. After all gifts have been given, I plan on doing a gift review of some of the items I found for others that might give you some ideas on future holidays. The exception to this waiting is the redonkulously cute llama and flannel jacket and coat I picked out for our dog, Buzz. He can't use the internet, so the secret is safe on here!
Ryan and I took some time last week to go see the Christmas lights downtown. One interesting element was a "Singing Tree" whose lights would change depending on what sounds you made while near it. The technology wasn't perfect, but it was fun to play around with!
Yay lights! Big setups like this feel so magical!
While walking through the trees, I couldn't help but notice that one of the trees was decorated with what looked like miniature toilet paper rolls. I'm not sure if that's what they were going for or not! It reminded me of a project I made in high school art class. We were given wooden boxes and told to construct a scene on the inside, also all made out of wood. When we finished we painted them all one color (I chose white). I chose to make an the inside of an outhouse (I don't remember why) complete with a mini wooden toilet and toilet paper roll. Seeing this Christmas ornament reminded me of the art project, which I don't think my mom kept, haha!
Milwaukee also strings LED chandeliers at the intersections downtown each December.
Ryan and I wanted to make some Christmas-themed recipes. This week we tried out some non-traditional beef wellington recipes and a friend's pretzel dip. We sauteed mushrooms and onions and put them away to cool. We based it on this recipe here. For the dip, we mixed together what I thought an uncomplimentary combo that actually turned out quite addicting: 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, two blocks of cream cheese, two packets of onion soup mix, and milk as needed to get a "dip" consistency. Not healthy by any means, but yummy!
For our first wellington, we used the sauteed onions, portabella mushroom caps, spinach, mustard, and thyme. We decided if we make it again to add a lot more seasoning and maybe some loud cheese like pepper jack! I enjoyed it best with a healthy dose of salt and pepper along with some melted shredded cheddar cheese. It baked beautifully!
Check out that closeup. Scoring the pastry made it look super fancy.
We were creative with our second pastry. We used leftover sauteed onion, spinach, and mustard from the first wellington, but then added sliced ham and cheddar cheese. It turned out super good! We thought this one was a lot better than the original.
One week into December I finally put up the tree in my apartment! Last year I made 30 pinata ornaments. 10 each of donkeys, unicorns, and cacti. That's what fills up most of the tree. I also have some round colorful bulbs, a hippie van ornament, and a merman. I hope to collect at least one unique ornament per Christmas season and grow my collection from there!
Lastly, in the spirit of the holidays, I made some simple peppermint pancakes. I used the Kodiak Cakes dark chocolate protein cake mix and combined it with chocolate protein soy milk and crushed peppermin candies. I thought I would be able to smash the candies with a potato masher, but ended up having to grab the hammer from my toolkit and make quite a bit of noise for an otherwise quiet Sunday morning! I liked using the soy milk as the liquid component of the cakes. I find this flapjack mix to otherwise be a bit bland. Between the mix and the protein milk, one serving of these pancakes contained 19 grams of protein! Good deal!
Sticking with a peppermint theme, I used peppermint mocha flavoring in my coffee.
Peppermint is one of my favorite holiday latte flavors and in turn I enjoy this coffee creamer as well. I have been trying to cut down on sugar (which flavored coffee creamer is full of) so I used half a tablespoon of creamer with half a tablespoon of half and half. It took awhile to get used to but now tastes normal. In the new year I hope to adjust to just half and half so I can develop my coffee taste buds and actually be able to pick up on the differences in coffee roasts and flavor elements. That's enough about coffee and future goals for now, though. I hope you all have a great weekend! For those of you also in the midst of finals, happy studying!
Was anyone else ready for Christmas immediately after Thanksgiving? I was, but since Thanksgiving was super early, we had a whole additional week of November before! The day after Thanksgiving, my mom, great aunt, sister, and I went to a local Christmas market to browse the wares. We picked up some goodies from people we knew, including a bow tie for Buzz, alpaca wool gloves, handmade goat milk soap, and Christmas stollen. The man who makes Christmas stollen in town has a phenomenal recipe. I'm not a big bread fan, but this was great! I was also stopped by a Swiss Father Christmas, called Samichlaus, who told me I had to reaffirm my belief in the the spirit of Christmas to clear my name off the naughty list. His sidekick Schmutzli was right behind him. For those of you unfamiliar with the Swiss story, Schmutzli travels with Samichlaus and punishes naughty children by hitting them with a broom. Needless to say, I was glad my name was cleared, haha! He gave me a piece of Swiss chocolate as a reward for reaffirming my belief.
When we got home, it was time to put up the Christmas tree! We blasted Twisted Sister's "A Twisted Christmas" album and had as much fun wearing the decorations as putting them on the tree. Buzz allowed us to put his sweater back on for the second day in a row because we gave him lots of cuddles after convincing him to hold still enough to get it on.
I love all of our Christmas ornaments. We've collected many different types over the years! I'm always super interested in seeing what styles other people have collected!
The finished tree! It's so bright! Each year we put 12 strands of lights on, because why not?
The next day it was time for me to head back to Milwaukee. The last week of November was a mix of stress and zoning out because it's the time in the semester where projects and exams start accumulating and yet I have no desire to work on them! To get away from it all, the night before December 1st my roommate and I headed downtown to get in the holiday spirit! It t'was the night before December after all! It was a carefree trip. Initially we planned to go ice skating, but we arrived to find out it wasn't open yet. So we hit the streets instead! This is our third year in a row going Christmas tree hunting (taking pictures with as many trees as possible).
My favorite tree time and time again is inside a building attached to the Pabst Theater. It's a three story tall live tree! It is unbelievably magical. My roommate and I stood on one of the top balconies and people watched for almost an hour.
We were getting hungry, so we went back to a restaurant we passed on our way to see the epic tree called the Angry Taco. It wasn't open, so we looked it up online and found that is opens on December 3rd (which is now today)! We'll definitely need to go back. Lucky for us, there was another taco place close by called Taco Bar. It was exactly like the title suggests. They have an extensive taco menu and a bar, and that's it! We both loved the food and I would definitely not mind going back if I find myself in the area and craving tacos once more.
And now it is officially December! Finals are coming up, and this year I'm planning to stay on top of them while still enjoying the holidays! I made my master list this morning of all remaining assignments, along with my study schedule for finals. Now I just need to stick to it! This month I hope to make some posts on some holiday recipes I've collected, holiday events around Milwaukee, my monthly recap, and a holiday gift guide (after all gifts have been delivered, of course)! I hope you all have a great start to your week!
This month I turned 22. My parents drove into Milwaukee to take me to dinner and spend some time together. I'm glad they did this, because I've been feeling homesick and this helped a lot. We headed to Cafe Benelux in the Third Ward for some delicious eats. We started with an order of sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo and curry ketchup dipping sauces. I had the spicy cyclista burger with a benelux side salad to eat and a swing time sangria to drink. Yum!
My parents gave me a Harry Potter action figure as part of my birthday gift. I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I absolutely LOVE Harry Potter! I'm currently rereading the series for the 14th time...for some reason it never gets old! Action figure Harry currently hangs out on the bookshelf with the Harry Potter DVDs.
The next day, Ryan and I went back to the Third Ward to do some exploring. We had the first lasting snow of the season on November 9th. The Third Ward looks so magical in the winter!
We made our way down to Grand Avenue Mall. This place is kind of creepy because its missing so many stores. We went to the TJ Maxx (the only store open on the whole side of the mall) to check out the Christmas wears while waiting for a restaurant to open. Looking at gift wrapping brings me joy, which led to the collage below haha.
For lunch, Ryan and I tried out Rock Bottom Brewery. They had a very extensive menu! I had the smoked chicken tostadas. We both enjoyed our meals, and, since we were there to celebrate my birthday, they gave us free beer samples and a dessert (mason jar bourbon pecan pie)!
I have been debating buying a latte maker of some kind for awhile and was being very picky about what I was looking for. I did not want a machine that only took prepackaged espresso pods and also did not want it to take up a lot of space. Thanks to my Discover cashback reward, I was able to get finally take the plunge! I ordered a separate milk frother and portable electric espresso pump. So far, they've been a dream! It took me a couple goes to figure out how to work the espresso pump, but now I can enjoy a quick, homemade latte whenever I want!
The weekend before Thanksgiving break, my roommates and I hosted a Friendsgiving for people we know who live in our apartment complex. For decor, we stuck our potted plants and a mini pumpkin inside a fall wreath and Ryan brought a cornucopia that we put a bag of clementines into. We also had a festive scent in our wax melter.
Everyone brought a dish, so we had great variety! We had mini pigs in a blanket, pickles, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, upside-down rice (a dish from Jordan), salad, pumpkin bars, pomegranate punch, and sparkling apple and sparkling pear cider. We played some games and chatted and there was hardly any food left at the end of the gathering!
The next week, my mom and aunt picked me up from Milwaukee to go home for the holidays. One of the first things we did when we got back was go to the store for last-minute Thanksgiving supplies. While there, we found an ugly Christmas sweater for dogs and just had to pick one up for Buzz!
The day before Thanksgiving is always "Pie Day" at my household. My mom, sister, and I drink wine, sing, and dance while cooking different types of pie. This year we made two pumpkin pies, a bourbon pecan pie, and a lemon meringue pie! We used leftover pumpkin puree to make a bourbon pumpkin pie drink. It turned out nicely!
I like to go all out when I dance!
The fruits of our labor.
We also made sangria with oranges, limes, lemons, whiskey, and Barefoot pinot grigio. It was great and I hope we add sangria to our list of Thanksgiving traditions. Thanksgiving day itself was very busy so I didn't take any photos of our meal, but the food was all fantastic! My mom is starting to teach my sister and I how to make her recipes so one day we can host the meal!
Those are my adventures up until Thanksgiving. I have a sliver more for November, but they're more Christmas-related than pumpkin, so I'm putting them in a separate post. I'm so thankful for my family and miss them again already. Just a few more weeks until I get to see them again for Christmas break though! Happy holidays!
At the beginning of October, Ryan and I went on a double date to the Shalom Wildlife Center in West Bend, Wisconsin. I was impressed at the depth of this sanctuary. It didn't look like much when we drove up, but it went on for miles! I enjoyed their nature-knowledge signs posted along the trails with pieces of lore and information.
Some of the trees were already turning beautiful colors. We bought a bucket of animal feed to share and headed out to the trails.
The elk were probably my favorite animals we saw. Their tongues were slimy and my hands were covered in goo after feeding them, but it was worth it!
These cute dear on the right were so excited we were going to feed them that they also ate part of our trail map when we weren't paying attention!
There were a multitude of activities along the trails. Little houses with information inside, containers already containing non-edible Halloween goodies, and a rope-climbing pole!
Look at all these cute, curious faces! I think the white deer below has a very dog-like face!
Rawr. These bears had a fighter while we were there that was quite impressive to watch.
This pine tree lined pathway offered a great photo opportunity!
Fall slowly crept in as October went by. The awesome dinosaur pumpkin appeared outside our apartment. Stone Creek Coffee also started offering some fall flavors. I really liked their maple syrup flavor! I love the blend of colors in the plant leaves below.
A friend from high school and I (who coincidentally attend the same university and haven't been meeting up until just recently) went to the Ethiopian Cottage Restaurant to catch up over some delicious food. It was so good to get up-to-date and also talk about our crazy Sims stories.
I arrived early to an observation site for a course project and walked the neighboring blocks and on the bike trail until it was closer to my scheduled slot. I found an array of sights.
I went on a group horseback ride with a school organization. It was a positive experience! It was snowing when we got there so our ride got delayed. While waiting for the weather to let up, we learned how to interact safely around a horse, especially when walking in their blind spots. The stables also taught us about grooming, nutrition, and riding gear. Then, we went on a super guided trail walk on horseback. That same weekend, Ryan and I went to Cafe Benelux in the Third Ward for some good eats and to enjoy the atmosphere.
I found a very random note on the ground while walking to work that said, "to: women, from: God." I think it was out of its original place because it pointed to a fence that said "beware of dog." I also took a leap and decided to switch up my hair. I cut a lot off and went much darker than before. I wasn't sure how I felt about it initially, but it's been growing on me. I also met my friend Emily for brunch at Cafe Hollander. I had their "sweet potato noshers" and it was super good. I'm going to try and remake it at home because it was so amazing. It had sweet potato wedges, poblano peppers, pickled pearl onions, aged cheddar, beer cheese, sriracha roasted cashews, and a fried egg on top. So. Yummy.
Meal prep madness. I decided meal prepping would help me eat healthier, so I have been doing tons of meal prepping on the weekend to help simplify my work and school week.
My roommate and I took a break from studying a couple weekends ago to go to Mayfair mall. I found a cute fall coat at Charlotte Russe. It's been so cold lately though I've only worn it a couple times. We found a super decadent candy store that has a huge selection of chocolates (including the chocolate "happy pills" shown below) and an entire wall of alcoholic gummy bears! We also went to Bath and Body Works to smell the Christmas scents. They had these really weird hand sanitzer holders that look like the gel comes out of their butts when you give them a squeeze. We couldn't stop laughing at them!
We got fro-yo afterwards and chatted about life. The Fro-Zone in downtown Milwaukee has excellent frozen soy yogurt by the company Silk. It was one of the best dairy free ice creams (or yogurts) I've had. The next day, Ryan and I invented a new pancake recipe. I did not have regular soy milk so we used my dark chocolate variety and added pomegranate seeds to the batter. It was a great combo!
To celebrate Halloween, Ryan and I went to the the ballet Dracula. It was incredible! I am amazed by how graceful every single movement was. We also witnessed the retirement of a ballerina and got to see as her coworkers, company, and sponsors bombarded her with flowers at the end of the performance. I had never seen her before, but by the strong emotions of everyone in the room I knew she was a great dancer and we truly witnessed something special.
On Halloween Tuesday, Ryan and I took a break from costume creation (that will now be postponed until next year, haha) to eat yummy food at Belair Cantina and watch The Shining. I'm glad with the way our plans ended up. I had been wanting to watch a scary movie all month, but I won't watch one on my own because my scare tolerance it very low. Also, chips, salsa, and tacos are always a good time.
September went by in a flash! After the first week of school, my family and I headed to the Green Bay area to celebrate my cousin's wedding. The venue and decor looked straight out of a whimsical Pinterest board!
They added a non-traditional element to their ceremony. They performed a whiskey barrel ceremony in which they both poured a bottle of whiskey into a barrel that they will drink from at big events in their lives, such as special anniversaries and the births of children. My mom painted the bottles and kept referring to them as the "whiskey bottle of love" the entire weekend, which got some laughs. There were also some chuckles during the ceremony itself because it took a long time for the bottles to empty out into the barrel.
After that, it was time to get back to school. I've been trying to eat healthier this semester and decided to make my own vegan poke bowls! I was very inspired by the poke bowls I ate when I was visiting my sister. The bowls below had spring greens, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green onion, pickled ginger, carrot sticks, glazed tofu, and vegan sriracha mayo. Yum!
UWM hosted a free night of rock climbing at Adventure Rock. I went with a couple friends and it was a blast! I was totally afraid to let go of the wall on my first couple climbs though. The first time I climbed back down the wall and the second I let go, but at the last second grabbed the wall with one hand and dangled for awhile before I got a better grip and climbed back down with two hands!! We also tried out the boulder wall where you climb with no harness on a shorter wall. For some reason, whenever I jumped off I always landed seated!
Out and about around Milwaukee! Ryan and I took a bike ride to Bay View to see a festival.
We went to the Bay View Bash. There were tons of street vendors and we enjoyed walking around the local shops as well. I found a cool physical therapy company that offered to let me job shadow, and I'm planning to take them up on the offer! We also found a cute bookstore called Voyageur Book Shop.
This crazy band playing in the street had anamatronic parrots!
More cool finds in Bay View.
Oooh coffee? We've got to stop! I ordered a caramel latte from the Drift coffee truck. Ryan also bought me a sunhat because I couldn't find any sunglasses before we left. I love it!
One of my favorite things to do is try out new restaurants. Cafe Corazon was highly recommended to us, so we stopped there for lunch before heading back to Milwaukee. I loved how colorful this place was!
Our server didn't realize we were in his area so we had to wait awhile. He felt so bad when we notified him that he gave us free guacamole and a margaritas! Both the food and drinks at this restaurant were phenomenal and I hope to go back again soon! I was really impressed with their extensive vegan menu and the food was super fresh.
A few more shots from life. I took fewer pictures this month as a result of school starting. The taco shop Belair had an awesome sign about taco body season! I also went to Rochambo coffee house to meet up with a friend from high school. Lastly, I was surprised to realize my jade gollum plant (pictured on the right) has nearly tripled in size since I first got it! Go little plant, go!
Finally, lots of food shots! There were a lot of food pictures in this post (sorry-not-sorry). Margaritas and tacos at Belair with my roomie, brunch at Comet Cafe with another awesome friend from high school, and celebratory sweet potato fries at Cafe Hollander with Ryan.
Those fries were celebratory because I found out at the end of September that I have been accepted in UW Milwaukee's Doctor of Physical Therapy program! That was such an emotional and exciting day and I am very much looking forward to the future. That announcement offered a breath of fresh air and I gave me a happy boost for days. Lots of things will change come spring, but I am looking forward to it.
I hope you all had a great start to fall. Have a great weekend!
I know, it's the middle of fall and I am just now finishing up my last post of the summer. Colectivo is a huge local coffee group based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Not only is their coffee amazing, but they also have cool events at their different locations including trivia nights and live music concerts. All of their locations have a different kind of charm and are awesome spaces to study or get some computer work done. The photos below are from a free concert at the lakefront Colectivo.
At the end of August, I decided to take a trip to visit my sister in Madison. This became my first stop on an adventure that took me all over the state. I stopped at Stone Creek Coffee before boarding my bus. I love this spot's giant rooster painting over the fireplace!
Even though I drank coffee right before my bus ride, the first thing my sister and I did when I arrived was get more coffee!
My travel goodies and sister's cat. I had quite a heavy suitcase because I didn't want us to need to drive to the grocery store before making dinner my first night there. Next time, I'll just plan on shopping after traveling because that was a heavy suitcase! I brought Barefoot sparkling wine, beans and corn for vegetarian tacos, nacho cheese, three avocados, and all eight of the Harry Potter movies in addition to my clothing. As a side note, my sister's cat is quite a character.
I've been trying to resist posting too many food photos, so here is a collage of my favorites from my visit. A vegetarian poke bowl, hibachi grill, and pot stickers with sushi. Do you see a theme??
We spent our first couple days completing a Harry Potter movie marathon and ranked all the movies in order from best to worst. I'll do a nerdy Harry Potter post in the future and include my rankings with all the other details. After that, we decided it was time to emerge from the movie den and feel the daylight on our faces. We started with a trip to the zoo!
There has not yet been a trip to any zoo that I haven't enjoyed!
Check out these chill capybaras.
A trip through the bird house.
On another day, we went to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. This place was so cool! It had themed areas that looked right out of picture books!
So many routes and tunnels. My yoga pose in the photos below started a crazy series of photos between my sister and I. We went beyond yoga and just got silly. We'll keep those photos between us...
I really wanted a splits photo but didn't want to take it with anyone around. My sister and I made several laps around this fountain area before the coast was clear!
This bridge looked so magical.
So much diverse greenery.
I had so much fun visiting my sister! It was hard to say goodbye because I never know when I'll see her again. After staying with my sister for almost a week, my mom picked me up to go to her art show in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The first thing we did when we got to Green Bay? We went to Margarita's of Green Bay! They have some seriously awesome Mexican food. We ordered a trio of chips and dip including white queso, guacamole, and spicy yellow queso (plus the free chips and salsa lol), giant margaritas, and shared steak and chicken fajitas (it was three plate large!). We took so many leftovers back to the hotel!
The art fair itself was great! The music selection this year was awesome and my mom's booth was right across the lot from the main stage. It only rained a little and we discovered an amazing coffee shop called the Daily Buzz. I went there four times over the two days of shows. I found a street sign stating what types of animals weren't allowed at the show. It made me wonder, if the list is so long, was this actually an issue? Wow! My cousin and his wife also stopped by with their adorable son who is almost two. It was great to see them again.
Art from my mom's booth. She and her business partner Nikki do some amazing work!
It's impossible for me to go to a good art show and not take home souvenirs. Below are the most recent additions to our apartment. Our walls are finally filled! On our last night in Green Bay, we went to a fancy restaurant near the football field and then to a cool hole-in-the-wall comedy club. After Green Bay, my mom and I drove north to visit my grandparents by the Michigan border. It was so good to see them again, though I did not take any pictures there. After a few days with them, we traveled back to the opposite end of the state to my hometown for a few days before I returned to Milwaukee.
At the end of August our dear pup Rusty said his final goodbye. He had been getting progressively sicker and finally had a stroke that did him in. I'm so glad he's no longer in pain but am sorry that Buzz was left without his buddy of 12 years. These two escaped many years ago from being studs at a puppy mill. They were found swimming in a river and were taken in by a dachshund rescue group. A family friend located them for us and they came as a bonded pair. Since then they have been spoiled beyond measure and Rusty lived lived beyond his life expectancy to 17 years old. The beginning was ruff (pun intended), but he was a happy dog after that. We will never forget him.
I spent a lot of time with Buzz. He was so lonely the first month without Rusty. I discovered talking him on long walks cheered him up, so we went on a lot of those!
On one of the last days of the summer, I reunited with two of my best friends from high school to go mucking about and catch up. It's so funny how we can go years without seeing each other, but the moment we're back together it's like nothing changed at all.
We took tons of photos and videos. It was so amazing to see them again!
After our day of playing at the park, we went to the drive-in movie theater to watch The Incredibles 2 and the latest Jurassic Park. For some reason I cannot ever stay awake during the second feature. I watched approximately the first 15 minutes and then woke up during some kind of auction scene, slept again, and then woke up for the credits haha.
On my last night in my hometown, we celebrated my mom's birthday. I made her a llama card, my dad grilled a nice dinner, and she opened her presents on the deck while enjoying a nice campfire. Buzz kept doing this cute thing where he would stick his head under the pillow like it was a little lean-to tent! It was such a great night to end summer vacation on.
That wraps up my summer. I miss it already. However, it's time to look to the future because we're somehow already halfway through the fall semester. Thanks for reading!
A quick look into some August celebrations. There was a lot of coffee this month. My goal this summer was to read a book I bought last semester and didn't find the time to read. It is called "The Gene: An Intimate History." I loved it so much! It broke genetics down into easy to understand language and I learned so much. If I wasn't going into physical therapy, my second choice was biology, specifically genetics.
I started my school supplies shopping this month. This notebook and planner are from Paper Source. I love the notebook because is has four sections with different colored pages. I have four lectures on Tuesdays/Thursdays this semester and I can use this single notebook all day!
Pancakes! A success photo after managing to flip the giant pancake without breaking it.
This month, my roommate invited some people to her family's annual bonfire. This is definitely the largest bonfire I have ever seen in my life! For scale, you can see her dad lighting it in the middle photo. It was crazy huge and burned for hours!
The next day, we went hiking before heading back to Milwaukee. We went to Blue Mound State Park to enjoy the views.
I also propagated my succulents. They have come so far since these photos were taken! I was fine pulling the bottom leaves from the plants, but felt mean cutting the tops parts off with a scissors and leaving the little stumps behind. Much to my surprise (even though my web source told me to expect it), little plants have started sprouting from the stumps where the leaves used to be! This has been such a fascinating process and I can't wait to share the current photos!
All the leaves in their new nursery (a Chinese takeout container). In this photo, some of the leaves are just barely starting to sprout new life. Look real close and see if you can spot them.
Scenes from a bike ride through Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.
One of my favorite memories from August was whitewater rafting for the first time! It was such a thrilling experience! I wish I had photos from the actual event, but for safety purposes no one brought cameras for the ride. It would have been fun to have a Go Pro for this. Ryan and I sat in the front and it was so frightening during the tip down the ten foot drop. I'm so glad we did it though! So exhilarating! I can't wait to do it again!
Post-rafting selfies while waiting to dry off before the ride back.
Ryan and I paid a visit to the Sip & Purr Cat Cafe. It opened in Milwaukee this summer and is a super cute place! They serve fancy food, wine, and coffee drinks. After some noms, you can play with cats in the cat room. All the cats are from local shelters and available for adoption. I think this is a super sweet way for members of the community to meet cats. This way, they aren't sitting inside a tiny cage and can express their true personalities.
At some point, I want to attend one of their yoga with cats sessions. You have to book pretty far in advance because the classes are so popular!
After some coffee, we took a stroll through Black Cat Alley so see the new installations that were in creation during the Summer Solstice Festival. They look great!
There are also koi fish everywhere throughout the alley! Love it!
This month my roommate and I checked out the state fair. This will honestly probably be the one and only time I go. The crowds were crazy, the food overpriced, and the lines long.
I did enjoy that everything at the fair was super colorful.
We watched a dog agility competition for awhile. The dogs were so smart and adorable! We also discovered a nature center built into the park. We stepped through the entry and felt as though we were transported into another dimension. It went from super crowded and industrial to peaceful nature in about 15 feet! The most interesting food item I saw was deep fried olives.
Lastly, my roommates and I went to Belair to celebrate my roomie Hannah's birthday. She turned 22! We enjoyed tacos and margaritas. I don't think there's any better birthday meal. :)
That sums up the adventures from the first half of August. I took so many photos I decided to break the month up into two posts. I am planning to post once a week to get caught up, and after that monthly life updates with some content posts in between. School is crazy busy and must come first, but I still want to keep this blog going so I can look back on my life adventures.
These are pieces from July. A couple friends and I made it to Summerfest on a free day. We had no idea who was playing, but went because it was free. We found a nice statue person and listened to some cover bands. Not a bad visit, but I hope to see some bigger concerts next year. We bought ice cream and walked around the park to visit Ryan, who was working at one of the vendors stations selling musical themed jewelry.
I went back to my hometown for the Fourth of July. My mom decided to give this year a Cajun spin! We had fried turkey, grilled shrimp, corn maux choux, dirty rice, red beans, and sweet potato pie. The food was phenomenal and I hope this becomes a tradition!
Playing with sparklers! And one fireworks photo. Every year I try to take pictures of the fireworks when I should just watch them in the moment. I hardly look back on the thirty photos and four video snippets (how many I took this year). Next year I'll hold myself to that. It was so wonderful spending the evening with my dad's family. We have a great vantage point for watching from the back deck, so that's where we cooked, ate, and socialized all evening.
Back to Milwaukee! This summer I applied to graduate school! The application process was long and stressful. I buckled down to get things finished and I built myself a fort to work in on my bedroom floor. I needed a change of environment but did not want to leave the apartment. I used every blanket I had and layered them to make the floor soft and pillowy. Then I angled my box fan in to provide some nice airflow and wrote all my application essays.
Back around town. Ryan and I went to another NEWaukee Night Market. We grabbed more free s'mores and walked the streets. We saw some cool artists and spotted the mounted police. I get so excited when I see these guys because it's so unusual to see horses downtown! He and I also went to see the documentary on Mr. Rodgers called "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" I enjoyed hearing about his life story. He was one happy man.
Ryan and I also checked a longtime wish off our list: library cards! I've only been living in this city for 3.5 years! I thought it would be nice to have one since freshman year, and now for my senior year I actually got a card. We stopped at the French festival Bastille Days on the way back to find some macarons. I've been wanting to try these.
First time eating macarons, documented by Ryan. They were alright. Super sweet! I definitely consider these more of a special occasions kind of treat. I liked that all the colors were a different flavor.
Such fog. Every once in awhile the city gets very foggy. Ryan and I went to the beach to play frisbee without considering the weather. We were surprised when we got there. The beach looked so mysterious!
Biking around town. I got a new bike this summer and love the mobility it gave me. My student bus pass deactivated for the summer and I didn't want to pay for a summer pass. This bike took me places!
Ryan and I took the longest bike trip I've ever been on this summer. We biked about 27 miles round trip to a park called Seven Bridges Trail.
This is a cool park south of Milwaukee that I recommend visiting. It's supposedly haunted, and I could see getting weird vibes if it was dark and there were fewer visitors. There was a fair amount of people there when we went though. The first picture took me awhile to capture because I did not want other park goers in the photo. I took it at an angle so that the lady standing on the bridge was covered up by the pole! The entry message states "enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature" and the exit "may the God given peace of this leafy solitude rest upon and abide with thee."
"I am the sand guardian."
This was a long trip for me. I'm grateful for Ryan's patience because we stopped quite a few times on the way back for me to rest and get my head back in the game.
My favorite stop on the way back was at Café Centraal in Bay View. Boozy coffee, burgers, sweet potato fries, and beignets. Yes please :)
Later in July I also visited the Villa Terrace Art Museum. This has been on my Milwaukee bucket list since I found out it existed. It's a very beautiful mansion with a large garden in the back. There were people there taking wedding photos and it looked like a wonderful backdrop!
The Brady Street Festival. I stopped by the Arteryink booth. These are my favorite local artists. I also went to the Rochambo Coffee House for drinks and then to Fro Zone to try rolled ice cream for the first time.
My roommate and I kept walking the street listening to the local musical artists. We got sucked into a strange square of masked people dressed in black. The boxes they held contained laptops with nasty video footage of animal slaughter houses. As soon as we approached we were bombarded by animal rights activists asking us how we felt about the footage and talking about animal cruelty. I didn't mind listening to their message, but I was frustrated when they didn't want to let us walk away from them. Eventually we escaped and ate empanadas at La Masa Empanada Bar. What a great restaurant!
We ended the night by watching the Brady Street Drag Show. It was mostly enjoyable. There was a hardcore fan standing behind us who told us about each queen as she performed. There was only one act I didn't like because the queen kept touching herself in a manner I didn't care to see. Other than that the show was full of energy. It reminds me that I want to see a Dining with the Divas show at Hamburger Mary's before leaving Milwaukee.
That sums up the main excitements in July. Looking back I realize I did more this summer than it felt like in the moment. I appreciate the flexible pacing this summer allowed. Both of my workplaces were flexible and I had time to finish my responsibilities in addition to having some fun. I'll finished up my August post soon and then I'll be mostly caught up to the present!
This summer I went to a couple of the 2018 NEWaukee Night Market events. These events include live music, food trucks, local vendors, and family activities. My favorite feature of the Night Market is the free s'mores. An organization sponsors the creation of thousands of s'mores each event. People dance around with marshmallows on skewers to draw your attention the the fire pits scattered along the street. Once your marshmallow is nice and toasty, a lovely volunteer has the sandwich materials at the ready and captures the blob of sugar between the crackers and chocolate.
At the June Market, my roommates and I checked out a local bookshop and were pleasantly surprised to see the owner had a cat wandering the store. In the photo the cat is sitting by the door. It just peered outside, never trying to leave. Whenever I go to a bookstore, I take photos of the covers of books I want to read. I have a huge photo collection on my computer of books to ambiguously read "someday." Back at the Market, we saw a cool steampunk man on stilts wearing a bubble blowing backpack. Wicked!
More Night Market explorations. I spotted a Superman crossing the street and then we paid a visit to the Milwaukee River. Before leaving, we had to stop at a sushi food truck. I hadn't had sushi in a long time and it was calling my name! Overall, the Night Market is a nice event. It was a little overcrowded both times I went, but the atmosphere is nice. There is a wide variety of stock in the vendors from pins to paintings to bath bombs, along with local produce.
I became a fan of Stone Creek Coffee this summer. I stopped there a lot on my way to work or stayed at the shop to telecommute. My favorite drink order there is a rosemary-honey latte with almond milk. On the note of consumables, Ryan and I made a June trip to Belair for tacos. Life is great with a trip to the taco restaurant at least once a month. Later on, I was surprised one morning to wake up and find a little bird outside my window! It was resting and didn't take off when I got my phone to take its picture.
June went by in such a blur. It's the month I took the least photos during because it was mostly filled with work. Ryan and a couple of his friends moved into our apartment complex, so I made some muffins to share. I couldn't decide which Pinterest recipe to follow, so I combined three of them! Below are banana and chocolate chip muffins with brown sugar streusel. They were sugary enough to be dessert muffins- so yummy! Essentially, add a streusel topping to chocolate chip banana muffins and you have these.
The cityscape across from the island park at the Summerfest grounds. There is something magical about walking at the water's edge at night. We met a couple on this outing who had the cutest puppy I've ever seen! It was a miniature dachshund puppy!
The last week of June arrived, bringing the summer solstice with it. My roommate and I spent some time enjoying the Summer Solstice Festival on North Avenue. We discovered a powerful band called Tigernite. Powerful may sound like an odd descriptor, but that's the vibe I got from listening to them! You can sample their music here. After listening to music, we paid a visit to Black Cat Alley. There were artists on North Avenue working on pieces for a temporary installation in the alley, and one adding a more permanent piece to a building in the alley.
This is one of my favorite pieces in the alley. I take a picture of this scene every time I visit even though I already have photos of it. A cool thing about the alley is that after time, the art changes and artists replace older murals with new ones. I think I'm savoring this one while it lasts. There is a local artist who paints koi fish all over the city, and he has gone to town in the alley. Every time I've gone the number of fish has grown. I love finding his fish on the sidewalks while exploring the city!
During the last weekend of June, Ryan and I went stand up paddle boarding with one of his roommates. This was such a fun morning! Ryan can borrow them for free from his workplace and I wish we had a car so we could go more often. The view on the water was surreal. I annoyed my companions by managing to stay dry for most of the trip. I only went into the water after we started trying to do yoga on the boards. I attempted the standing version of supta padangusthasana and that's when I went down.
And there was the month of June. This whole summer has gone by so fast! I'm working to catch up on my summer recaps before we get too far into September. I count the seasons using whole calendar months, so on my watch we've now entered fall. I'm contemplating mixing the old with the new to help stay current. I enjoyed taking a break from blogging for the summer, but want to share all the photos I took. For those of you returning to college this week, good luck!
After our wild experience camping in the mountains, my family headed to Boulder early. The first activity we did was walk Pearl Street. There were so many interesting shops there and we spent hours just walking around. I stopped at a coffee shop called Ozo Coffee Co., and ordered my favorite honey almond-milk latte.
The next day we toured Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory. This was such an enlightening experience! We started off sampling tea in the lobby while waiting for the tour to start. Then, we watched a video about the origins of the company and then donned our lovely blue bonnets before heading into the production facility. Our tour guide did a great job keeping the information brief and interesting. One of the most memorable parts of the tour was the Peppermint Room. The peppermint tea must be stored away from everything else because its flavor is so strong it will contaminate everything around it! My eyes were so watery when we stepped inside! After the tour we spent way too much in the gift shop, but it was worth it!
After our tea tour we went to the tourist trap Casa Bonita. It was certainly an experience. The outside was very beautiful, as the name suggests. Once inside, you order your food from a small menu selection and then wait in a line to get your food served on a tray. Then you carry your food up to the eating area and are seated in a giant cavern containing a water fall and dive pool. We were seated right next to the water area. Every 15 minutes a diver came out and did a trick dive for your entertainment. There was also a terribly cheesy "gun fight" that happened at the pool during our stay. The performances were definitely sub par, but overall we had an amusing experience.
We explored the restaurant after eating. There were quite a few spots to discover! I always get sucked into buying a fortune at those weird fortune telling machines. My words of wisdom this time around were "many a false step is made by standing still." It alludes to the missed opportunities made by inaction and I enjoyed the message enough to keep the card.
After lunch we toured the Hammonds Candy Factory. Unfortunately, this tour was not nearly as exciting as the Celestial Tea factory. I do not recommend this "tour." We stood in one room for nearly an hour while our guide droned on in an uninteresting fashion. We were anxious to leave within the first 10 minutes. The candy shop itself was nice to stop in afterwards though.
To celebrate my sister's birthday, she chose a sushi restaurant for us to dine at. I cannot remember what any of us ordered, but the food was fantastic.
The next day we headed to Denver. We first went to an art fair to look for pieces to bring back home to Wisconsin. My mom makes sure to find something to add to our collection on every trip we take as a family. Decorating our home is the best kind of souvenir. On this trip, we found some awesome metal sculptures that now live on our back deck. I love going to art fairs in other states. It's great to see the variety when traveling!
After the fair, we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I positively love science museums! My favorite exhibits in this museum were the animals halls, mineral exhibitions, and a special exhibit on bioluminescence.
That evening we went to a bison restaurant called Ted's Montana Grill. Their complementary chips and dip were to die for and I ordered their popular Avalon burger without the blue cheese. We all left pleasantly full. I've been trying to shy away from posting about restaurant meals, but this place was phenomenal.
The next day, my family went to the Denver Botanical Gardens. I always enjoy botanical gardens. There are so many photo opportunities and I enjoy reading about the different plant species. Most gardens also have rotating sculpture exhibits, which are enjoyable as well.
The sculpture exhibit on display was called "Pixelated." I thought the sculptures were cute, but the rest of my family felt differently. They thought them childish and did not think they complimented the landscaping. I tried to take a photo of each piece, but unfortunately one escaped me. It was in the children's gardens and I got overwhelmed half way to the sculpture by all the screaming and running around.
I appreciated the bonsai exhibit. Bonsai is an art I would like to get into at some point in my future. Based on the variety of tree species on display, it looks like it can be done with just about any kind of tree! I would need to decide what my favorite tree is before embarking on the journey. I also enjoyed the succulent gardens. I'm growing several succulents in my apartment right now and I like seeing the different species and arrangement ideas.
That afternoon, we went to the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center for a tour with the wolves. This was a request of my sister's in celebration of her birthday, but it was an experience we all enjoyed. The tour guide informed us about the wolf populations throughout the United States and what factors threaten the existing populations.
Wolves are a beautiful and often misunderstood species. They pose little threat to humans (cows cause more humans deaths a year than wolves) and less threat to livestock than you might think. Some evidence suggests that killing wolves may actually lead to an increase in livestock deaths (link). The wolves in the conservation site seemed full of personality. For some reason I pictured wolves as being a lot larger than they actually are. This made them seem less frightening in my book. It is important to note though that while wolves may be similar in size and appearance to dogs, wolf-dogs do not make good pets (source). If you really want a wolfish feel to your dog, look into pure dogs with similar physical appearances, such as the samyoed, german shepherd, alaskan malamute, siberian husky, or the utonagan.
The next day we were off to Colorado Springs. Our first stop was Garden of the Gods, and golly were those red rocks beautiful! The park was pretty but very crowded. We arrived early and found a parking spot, then spent an hour walking around. By the time we got back and went to change parking spots, everywhere else was full! Maybe it was because we went on Memorial Day. I would like to give it another go on a non-holiday to see if that helps with the crowding.
Tree pose on the rocks...whoops! Maybe a warrior would be more stable for this grounding.
After Garden of the Gods, we decided to make the journey up Pike's Peak!
This was quite a journey. Most of the road up contained no barriers and I'll admit I was unnerved to look out the window and see the drop down the mountain. I took a few cool pictures (my favorite is of us seemingly driving into the clouds), but for the most part I kept my head down and eyes shut.
The view when we finally reached the top! We were in some clouds and above others. My family went on a very cloudy day, but the view was still breathtaking. Being in the clouds felt very surreal. We made sure to pick up a couple souvenirs from the gift shop (of course there was a gift shop on top of the mountain!) before making the slow journey back down.
These are just some of our adventures in Colorado. Looking at these pictures makes me want to go back! I have added Colorado to my list of places to consider moving in the future and definitely plan to go back and explore more soon.
Hi my name is Emilee and these are my adventures as a young adult living in Milwaukee. Here I will share my experiences as I navigate through college. Thanks for stopping by!