This is my first Harry Potter post of the year. I have been a Harry Potter fan ever since I could read and I am currently on the seventh book of my fourteenth reread of the series! I kinda like it a lot!! I find it entertaining to dream about what I would be like as a wizard attending Hogwarts and have decided to share those magical thoughts here.
Favorite Shops in Diagon Alley
Wizarding World Pet
Favorite Hogwarts Classes
Favorite Shops in Hogsmeade
fifth book, the shop also sells coffee. I am a coffee lover, and the beverage is mentioned little in the Harry Potter world besides this shop, so I would make a beeline for it whenever Hogsmeade visits took place. I would love to try a butterbeer latte (recipe in progress).
Favorite Wizarding Treats
This concludes my Harry Potter Wizard Profile. I had a lot of fun researching the world of Harry Potter to narrow down my selections and drawing the pictures used throughout this post! I plan on creating three more Harry Potter themed posts this year during which I answer some "tag" questions and try out some Harry Potter recipes I've found online. Until then, thanks for reading!
Resolutions. Goals for the New Year. Wishes for a better future. Whatever you call them, these are my goals for 2019. Warning: text-heavy post ahead!!
Publish one post per week. While reviewing what I posted last year, I noticed how irregular and unplanned my posts seemed to be and how the overall blog seemed to lack focal points. During this past week of my long winter break I have been creating an outline for the coming year. I've decided to focus on my lifestyle, restaurants and places to visit in Milwaukee, a little bit of travel, and a few nerdy Harry Potter posts. Lifestyle posts will encompass more information on my life as a college student, healthy eating on a budget (~$30 a week), and quick, efficient workouts (some of which can be done at home while watching Netflix). Right now I share a little about the city I live in, but I want to make enough individual posts to have a dedicated Milwaukee tab in my navigation bar full of my favorite places that others can use as a guide if they ever plan on visiting the city. As for travel, I do have a couple trips planned for this year that will get their own separate posts. However, they will not be a huge focus due to college, two jobs, and no car. And, lastly, some Harry Potter fun posts. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan (I'm currently on the fifth book of my fourteenth read through the series) and I found a bunch of themed recipes and blog tags I thought I would share on the blog since it is a big part of my life.
Minimal Spending Challenge. My goal for this semester is to save as much of my income as possible. To kick start this goal, I'm limiting what I spend money on. There are some unavoidable expenses that I will make exceptions for this month, including rent, utility bills, my minimum credit card payment, course materials for school, and groceries (max of $30 a week). I also have two pre-planned purchases I will make using money I had already saved for a trip with my sister that has since been canceled: an anniversary present for Ryan and a plane ticket for spring break my roommate and I have been anticipating for months but for which we were waiting for a good deal on. Things I will not be spending money on this month and semester include: drinks from coffee shops (I will use my at-home latte maker more instead), "treat yo-self" purchases at the drugstore (last semester I would go to the store and spend $30+ on unneeded face masks, chocolate, etc.), random groceries (I will now make lists and set budgets instead of shopping on a whim), and online shopping. My goal is to plan spending out ahead of time at the start of each month for things such as date nights, outings with friends, and thrift store shopping to build up my professional wardrobe. I also have a $100 cash "fun/coffee" budget from a side hustle over winter break to spend throughout the semester as I please.
Decrease Sugar Consumption. Something that has been weighing on my mind is that my favorite coffee creamers have 5 grams of added sugar per tablespoon. I use 1 tablespoon per cup...and drink anywhere between 2 and 6 cups of coffee per day. Not to mention the amount of sugar in coffee syrups when I buy drinks from cafes! To help remedy this, I am making the switch to half n' half and plain lattes. This has been an adjustment, but I'm getting there. 1 tablespoon of half n' half is enough to cut the bitterness to drinkable and only has 0.5 grams of sugar. This is a huge improvement over my coffee creamers! Now I just need to keep an eye on the nutrition label for sugar when buying non-dairy milks to use for at-home coffee drinks.
Meal Prep and Portion Control. I made myself a meal plan to follow while I am in Milwaukee. My plan is vegetable heavy and has rotating dinner plans and flexible weekend allowances to keep it interesting. I don't mind eating the same plan for days in a row, which is good since I typically cook for just myself! I also ordered a kitchen scale in December to use so I can measure my portions accurately and get a better visual idea of serving sizes for when I don't use the scale. I'll be sharing my meal plan once I've cycled through the four dinners so I have photos of each recipe.
Follow the Physical Activity Guidelines. As a kinesiology major, I am very familiar with the physical activity recommendations. However, this does not mean I follow them. I should practice what I'm be preaching, so it is my goal to reach the recommendations this year. This means at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, along with working all the major muscle groups 2 times each week. While visiting my parents I am using my mom's elliptical and walking, but once back in Milwaukee I will hit the gym to execute some of the workouts I have been planning. For strength, I have designed a 30-minute body weight and dumbbell routine that hits all of the major muscle groups. I'm planning a separate post dedicated to this workout that includes images of each move.
Complete the 30-Day Minimalism Game: Each day, get rid of one more item than the day before. On January 1st, 1 item. The 2nd, 2 items. On the 30th day, 30 items. In total, this challenge would have me eliminate 495 items! I want to say I don't even own that many items, but that's probably a false statement. I will complete the challenge to the best of my ability and have started counting while sorting through my childhood bedroom. The challenge will wrap up in Milwaukee, and should assist me for my upcoming apartment move at the end of the semester!
Adopt a "one in, one out" rule when purchasing new items: Every time buy something that’s not a consumable (food, shampoo, etc.), I donate or get rid of one I do not need or use. For example, if I buy a new sweater, when I get home I look through my existing sweaters and donate one I no longer wear. As a new one comes in, an old one goes out. I will start enforcing this rule after completing the 30-Day Minimalism Game.
This concludes my main resolutions! So far, so good, other than one sugary coffee drink slip-up my family got for me on our drive back to Milwaukee this week. I hope I'm not getting too far ahead of myself, but since all I am doing next week is training for one of my jobs and working remotely for the other, I am putting together materials for three more blog posts by the end of January. One is my first Harry Potter post, the second my strength workout guide, and the last is my first Milwaukee restaurant spotlight post. I really think having my whole outline for the year will help me stay on track. Thanks for reading!
How was the start to your new year? The first week of the year has already gone by, so I hope if you made resolutions they are going well! Time to rewind. Last Sunday (still December), Ryan and I went to New Glarus before heading to Madison to go shopping at thrift stores. Outside a coffee shop, we saw some salty footprints of a person who has a pair of those funky toe shoes. I found the prints very fascinating so I thought I would share the photo. We went into Fat Cat Coffee for some savory crescent rolls and a butter toffee latte to share. I found two sweaters and a sweater shirt (which I'm wearing in the coffee photo at the bottom of this post) at Goodwill and scored a great deal on all of them. I often forget about buying clothes used and want to do it more. It's a form of recycling and you can get some really good prices!
I celebrated New Year's Eve with two of my closest high school friends drinking champagne, snacking on fondue, and lots of laughing.
On New Year's Day, my family celebrated a late Christmas with my dad's side of the family. We saw some family that we haven't seen in over four years, so that was interesting! A late Christmas gift from Ryan arrived in the mail and it tickled me pink! He got me a Harry Potter wine glass that says "It's MimOsa, not MimosA!" While at Aldis with my mom, I found a llama head on a stick. Do you remember the old horse heads on a stick that you used to pretend to ride around on? Llamas gained popularity this year for whatever reason (though I swear I liked them before they were cool!) and this llama head brought back lots of memories. Also, in one of my last recap posts I shared that an ornament on a tree in Milwaukee looked like a roll of toilet paper and reminded me of an art project I made in high school. Well, while reorganizing my mom's home studio after moving her out of her old one, we found it!
How to make awesome guacamole: 3 ripe avocados, 4 shoots of green onion, 1 roma tomato, and salt, pepper, garlic power, onion powder, and Cajun seasoning to taste.
We picked up some cat toys at the store because our cat Smoky has been extremely playful lately. We discovered, however, that the cat does not like catnip and apparently our dog Buzz does! Buzz has never played with any kind of toy since the day we got him, but would not leave the catnip toys alone! He chased the toys when we threw them (though he does not know how to fetch and bring them back), pranced around the living room, hopped up and down, and chewed the toys until there were holes in them! It was the strangest thing!
The cat, on the other hand, ignored the new toys. As soon as he saw them, he crawled under the TV stand and dug out a really old toy he apparently hid under there ages ago (we don't clean under there very often lol). That was the only toy he was interested in!
On Thursday, Ryan and I had breakfast at a coffee shop called Perks. We each ordered a croissant sandwich and Ryan had cinnamon toast (super yummy: toast with butter, sugar, and brown sugar) and I ordered a praline latte with soy milk.
After that we hit the road to deliver some late Christmas gifts to Ryan's sisters. We ended up only visiting one, but it was great to see her again. Our schedules do not line up very well during the holidays and it has been almost two years since I last saw either of them!
On Friday I started coming down with a cold, so Ryan and I stayed in for the morning and watched The Greatest Showman. I love that movie and cried most of the way through. Afterwards, we walked around the neighborhood and pointed out architectural elements we liked on the houses we saw. In the evening, my parents, sister, and I went to a pizza restaurant for dinner and then to Menards. My parents took us along, but usually that is how they spend their date nights! They have been completing lots of home renovations lately and they usually go out for a nice meal after shopping at the hardware stores! This Saturday morning my sister and I went out for coffee, in part for the yummy drinks, but also to have a conversation just the two of us. We talked about creative writing ideas and how life is going.
Now I'm going to share some general New Year's Resolutions I made. I will go into more detail with them in my next post, which I'm aiming to have done by next Saturday. One goal of mine this year is to write four blog posts each month. Most will be about my life, as this blog is kind of like a personal journal for me since I do not like writing in a physical book, but some will also be content I have been developing while on my winter break.
Biggest New Year's Resolutions
This post is going to be an overview of some of the gifts I gave away during the holiday season. By sharing this, I hope to give you some ideas for the future because I know it can be hard to shop for people. The first gift I made is a BMO (from Adventure Time) tree ornament. I ordered supplies from etsy.com and made this ornament using a ton of reference pictures online. I have leftover supplies and hope to make even more ornaments for people next year. It's nice because they can be customized to the person you are giving them to.
I also got Ryan a "Grow a Beard" kit containing a wooden comb, hard bristle brush, beard oil, and beard balm. He's been interested in maintaining his facial hair, so I got him some items to help. I also got him a crazy long holiday hat! He has been acquiring a collection of interesting hats to wear on game nights or whenever the mood strikes, and this hat fits the bill.
For my sister, I got a pack of essential oils and a set of lava stones + lava stone necklace holder. She is moving to a four-year college next fall and is not permitted to have oil diffusers, candles, and whatnot in her dorm. She loves essential oils though, so this set will help her to still be able to use them. I also found her a school planner at Barnes and Noble. She needed a planner and the "Sarah's Scribbles" comics are right up her alley, so this was a fun find! Lastly, I got her a set of fun smelling facial wipes and face masks from CVS. Self-care materials are almost always an appreciated gift, and you can change the scents/styles to match the recipient.
I got my mom a sample coffee pack of blends from Stone Creek Coffee. She has been looking to expand what coffees she drinks, so this is a good way for her to try out new flavors and roasts! I also added some new oven mits and hot pads to her box because she has been wanting to replace her current ones and I like to give practical gifts. I got my dad a funny t-shirt related to our Colorado trip we took last May. He was tickled by all the BigFoot-sighting warning signs on the roadways, so I got him a BigFoot holiday shirt. I also got him some socks to match his work pants, again as a practical gift. For my parents combined, I got a card game related to the funny YouTube Simon's Cat videos along with a homemade tree ornament of our dog Buzz wearing a mini version of his "ugly" holiday sweater.
I made a a sort of "template" for gifts for my female friends consisting of fuzzy socks + chap stick + a yummy treat. I did my best to match the colors and flavors to the personalities of the people receiving them. Additionally, I also added an edible treat to each bag that the person would appreciate. Some items I knew, while others I guessed. This year I am going to expand my knowledge of what treats people enjoy. Some of the consumables I got were alcoholic gummy bears in the flavor of the girls' favorite drinks, chocolates, and popcorn flavorings.
I already have some gift giving ideas for next year! Some stores surprised me this season such as Menards (where I found Ryan's crazy hat) and Aldis (for gourmet chocolates and other consumables) and I will definitely shop there next holiday season. I also have a note in my phone containing ideas for gifts. Any time someone says they want or like something, I add it to the note. That way, when I'm picking out a gift for them in the future, I have something to go off of. I hope you can take away a couple ideas from what I have shared here. My next post will be about my New Years goals and resolutions. If you have set goals this year, I hope you are already off to a good start! Happy New Year!
Hello! I'm squishing two December posts into one because I got carried away with the end of the semester and want to share all my Christmas adventures before we get too far away from the holidays and everyone is ready to put it away until next year. Let's step back a couple weeks to when I visited the Milwaukee Public Market to view their gingerbread house display. There was an interesting assortment this year. The one below of a cabin in the woods was probably my second favorite. I wasn't a huge fan of the displays modeling buildings from movies and TV shows. I'm planning on making my own gingerbread house next holiday season!
The really messy looking image in the second photo looked cooler in person. It focused on a scene inside a gingerbread house rather than the house itself. I wouldn't necessarily call it a gingerbread house per-say, but the creator did a great job making little people out of fondant!
This artist made a whole street of gingerbread buildings. There is a roadway full of penguins between the buildings. I really like this artist's icing style for the doors and windows.
My favorite gingerbread house is the one in the bottom right of the series below. It was so loaded with candy that you hardly saw any gingerbread! I thought this house was well executed and thought out because the candies fit together so seamlessly.
Before heading home to study for finals, I stopped at Anodyne Coffee at the Public Market for a honey and vanilla latte. I found their shark coffee mugs very amusing.
Over the next week I went into the "barely leave the house" mode of finals. I started making honey and almond milk lattes at home instead of going out. It worked out well with my new espresso gear and I am going to challenge myself this coming semester to make coffee drinks at home over buying them so frequently on and around campus.
Ryan and I celebrated our six year anniversary on December 18th!! We've had so many adventures since we started dating and I can't wait to see what comes next! Ryan went all out cooking dinner for us. He made homemade guacamole, tomatillo salsa, sangria, and bean burritos. The food was great and my photos did not do it justice, so I added a photo collage of us over the years instead.
Before leaving for winter break, I repotted all my succulent plants. I moved my successful propagations into bigger pots from their makeshift tupperware nursery. I am interested to see what shape they will be in when I get back to Milwaukee!
I hope you like pictures of dogs, because I have soooooo many photos with our dog Buzz.
My mom and headed to the stores to pick up some goods for the holidays. We went to the Mennonite store to pick up some bulk goods including cheddar cheese powder for popcorn and supplies for chex mix. At the regular grocers we got ingredients for meatballs, cinnamon rolls, sushi, and, of course, lots of wine!
My parents picked up this "Fa-La-La-Llama" at Menards that sings and dances. It's pretty funny! I also had Buzz try out his new coat and hat that I got him for Christmas. I'll have to make a couple adjustments on both. The jacket fits at his midsection but not around his chest. As for the hat...
Buzz has a little peanut-sized head so the hat was a pretty big. There was also nothing to secure it to his head, so he was able to dislodge it pretty quick! His face was like, "what are you doing to me??" Then my dad asked to try and put it on him, and since he is the "alpha" of our household, Buzz sat very still and tolerated the hat long enough for me to take a photo!!
The making of cinnamon rolls. This is one of my favorite family recipes. Every year we bake a ton and then deliver them to our family and friends around town.
We had a mini family Christmas celebration before heading up north to see my grandparents on the actual Christmas Eve and Day. Ryan came over and we made sushi and lo mein noodles, watched SNL Christmas videos, and unwrapped family presents. It was a good time!
Are you ready for more dog pictures? I took so many and couldn't choose which to share, so I'm just sharing all of them! We hit the road on Christmas Eve day. Once we arrived, we ate a TON of food and spent the whole evening talking.
We did some dog wrangling and took my grandparents two dogs plus Buzz out for a Christmas morning walk. One of their dogs is pretty wild and hard for them to walk on their own, so we took her out to try and get out some of her pent up energy. We also found a dog park not too far away that they can take her to so she can run and get out some of her zoomies.
My grandpa tied a present ribbon around his dog Willow. Inspired by his actions, my sister and I tied one to the collar of Buzz and my grandma's dog Regis. Buzz was so not impressed. Then we tried to take a cute photo with him, but he kept making disinterested faces.
Christmas pups: Regis hiding under a blanket wearing his red bow, Willow wearing her red ribbon and green tinsel, and Buzz chilling on the couch with his blue ribbon (mostly obscured by his ear). We balled up all our wrapping paper and had a snowball fight in my grandparent's living room after unwrapping presents. I'm not a very good shot, so my paper ball ended up in my sister's coffee instead of her actually hitting her.
Christmas spirit cheer. Floating coffee pics of this cute mug of my grandma's alongside her classic Christmas tree. And then a grandkid and dog photo. Regis was still hiding so he didn't get in the photo. We took a lot of shots, and this was the only one where all four heads were kind of looking at the camera. It was a quiet Christmas but a cheerful one.
Since getting home, my family has been working on a hefty project. My mom and her business partner have decided to say goodbye to their downtown art studio in favor of building their own home studios. My mom works at home just as often as her studio and it was getting to be a bother moving giant art pieces back and forth. So, my parents have been working hard to finish the attic of our house so my mom will have a multilevel art studio including one room from our second floor plus the whole attic. Moving everything between the two has been tiring but accomplish-able due to a family crew of eight, and today my parents are picking up the last item downtown, her giant easel, and returning the keys to the building owner. This has been quite a process, but I'm excited to see the finished home studio! These Charlie Brown stickers are the only thing left behind because they won't come off the mirror on the wall.
That wraps up December. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season and are looking forward to a new year. Lots of changes are coming in 2019, and I can't wait! :)
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!
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!