Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And now for dessert....

All of the turkey has been eaten, the sweet potatoes are gone, and the green bean casserole has been retired for another year. What’s left? Why dessert, of course! But I’m not talking about pumpkin pie or even apple crisp. Think gingerbread houses – more of a feast for the eyes rather than for the taste buds.

For your enjoyment, here are a few gingerbread houses that were on display last year at Hilldale Mall in Madison. The houses were decorated as a fundraiser sponsored by Dane County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) - Casas for CASA. This year's CASA event was at the Overture Center the weekend before last. 

For many families, decorating a gingerbread house is a sweet tradition. How about yours?

This one was decorated by my sister, my niece, and me (with a little help from my niece's son).
Run, run as fast as you can!
You can't catch me; I'm the Gingerbread Man!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let's Eat!

Thanksgiving is upon us so it seems appropriate that this week’s post should be about food....and where to find it.

As we wander Wisconsin, we’re always on the lookout for a good place to eat – a place that the locals frequent, a place off the beaten path. If we can find a place with a story, that’s even better. Of course, the food has to be good, too!

A sampling of some of our favorites……

Madame Belle’s Silver Dollar Saloon (Richfield) and Tally-Ho Pub & Grill (Hartford) are near Rick and two watering holes that we frequent regularly. Yummy burgers at both and a particularly good Bloody Mary bar at Tally Ho on Sunday mornings. Both restaurants have the same owner. One has a ghost (you’ll have to sample each one to find out where the spirit dwells).
The owner also has the Harley-Davidson franchise in Milwaukee.
Comet Café in Milwaukee was one of the diners, drive-ins, and dives that Guy Fieri of the Food Network visited a while back. If you love bacon, you’ll love this café.
Apparently Guy was at the Comet Cafe for a very short time during the filming;
it was Food Network people who spent more time there interviewing and filming the Comet's staff and customers.
Hankering for an old-fashioned drive-in complete with carhops? Then stop in at Mullin’s in Fox Lake. However, you’ll have to wait until April when the restaurant re-opens for the summer season.
Mullin's in Fox Lake not to be confused with Mullen's in Watertown. 
In the same vicinity of the state, you’ll find Chili John’s in Beaver Dam. The owner is a fun guy and there’s no mistaking who’s in charge – he is! Some of the signs in his restaurant: “We don’t make mistakes, we do variations” or “Dinner Choices – 1. Take it, 2. Leave it.” The chili was tasty.
Just breakfast and lunch at Chili John's.
The Pioneer Pub in Wild Rose has a wonderful outdoor deck that overlooks a mill pond. It’s a place I like to stop on the way home from the Iola Old Car Show.
Live music was a treat the last time I enjoyed lunch at the Pioneer Pub.
There’s nothing better in the summer than a fish boil in Door County. One of the best values we found was at the Sandpiper Restaurant in Baileys Harbor. However, I see from a recent news article, the restaurant has been sold and I don’t know if it’s already closed. 
This restaurant just might be history at this time.
Last summer we traveled more than an hour to have a steak at Schwarz’s Supper Club in St. Anna. We had seen the restaurant featured on a documentary about Wisconsin supper clubs and were intrigued. We had our brandy old fashioneds at the bar while waiting for our table. When in Rome....as they say.

Bon appétit! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Historic Theaters

Before there was radio, movies, television, or YouTube, people were entertained by live performances in local theaters. We are fortunate that many Wisconsinites launched campaigns to make sure these wonderful places are still with us today.

The Isle Theater in Cumberland is a great community venue open for not only first run movies but favorites of the past as well. If you want good food before or after your movie, or any other time, check out Nezzy’s Sports Bar & Grill which is adjacent to the theatre at the back-side of the building.
Ceiling in the Isle Theater.
About an hour south of Cumberland is the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts in Menomonie.  A full performing arts season is offered in this beautiful space. The Theater is the centerpiece of the complex. And the gift shop is quite nice!
Box seats along the side of the Mabel Tainter Theater. 
The Al. Ringling Theater is located on the square in Baraboo. This theater was featured on an episode of PBS’s History Detectives. Elyse Luray proved that while the theater doesn’t qualify as a “movie palace” (it’s too small), it probably served as inspiration for architects who designed the movie palaces of the early 20th century.
Mural on the inside of the theater.

Mural on the ceiling of the theater's lobby.

The Stoughton Opera House, to the south of Madison, is another great example of the community rallying around this grand place to restore it to its splendor of the past and equipping it to serve the patrons of the future.
From the floor looking up at the box seats. 
One more historic theater where we’ve been is the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. The Pabst is a National Historic Landmark recognized for the important role it has played in the cultural life of Milwaukee.
Outside view of the Pabst (photo from Wisconsin Historical Society).
You’ll have to visit these theaters to see how beautiful they are since my pictures, only snap shots, just don’t do justice to the grandeur of the spaces.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

For Those Who Serve

November 11 is Veterans’ Day when we honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. The day commemorates the end of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany during the First World War which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and wars still are waged today.

One of the neatest memorials to veterans is The Highground outside of Neillsville. What initially started out as a memorial to Wisconsin’s Vietnam veterans has evolved into an amazing site with tributes to women veterans, Native American Vietnam veterans, WWI, WWII, and Korean War veterans, and families that supported and lost loves ones through the Gold Star Tribute and Fountain of Tears.

Historic marker

Inscription in a plaza stone

The sculpture honoring the service and sacrifices of the Vietnam veterans was the first memorial in the country to include a woman. Bronze chimes, inscribed with the names of each Wisconsin Vietnam casualty, sound in the wind under the woman’s poncho that flows out from the back of the other three figures in the sculpture. My friend, Walter, himself a veteran, worked hard to raise money to fund the sculpture back in the 1980s.
Fragments: Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Tribute
The GI's tears flow through the fountain....
into the pond behind the wife and child of the fallen soldier.
Dove sculpture in the Meditation Garden
The Highground is a peaceful place with its effigy mound, meditation garden, and walking trails. It also offers an incredible panoramic view of central Wisconsin. Because The Highground is open year-round, any season is a good time to visit.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Football and Deer Hunting

We are in the midst of football season and deer hunting is right around the corner so what could be better than plays about these activities if Wisconsin Wanderers don't have game tickets or rifles!

Actually, Lombardi, based on the book When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss, was about the man himself rather than actual football. Most of the play, as presented by the Milwaukee Rep at the Milwaukee Center, took place in the Lombardi living room and in his coach's office. The famed coach's player interactions were mostly with Paul Hornung, Dave Robinson, and Jim Taylor, some of the greats from the 1960s. We saw Lombardi with his wife, Marie, and gained insights into why he was such an inspirational man.

One of the many banners decorating the stage.
We learned that the phrase attributed to the great Vince Lombardi - "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" - originated with another coach who coined it decades before Lombardi came along. To Lombardi it was the pursuit of excellence that mattered most. 

The Milwaukee Rep has extended the run of  Lombardi so it's still possible to see the play. If you're a die-hard Packer fan, you'll appreciate the image that's flashed on the wall at the end of the play. 

At the end of last week we enjoyed Deer Camp, the Musical at the Shauer Arts & Activities Center in Hartford. One of the stars was "my brother, Darryl" and another was "my other brother, Darryl" from the Newhart show. So it was a reunion of sorts for them.

The show was a hoot! Four guys, two of whom were full-figured, sang and danced and we laughed and laughed. From the songs about their wives to the"grunt horn" song to the dance of the Chippendales, the actors kept us in stitches throughout the play. It was great fun and an enjoyable evening out now that camping season has ended.