Archive for June, 2013

  • Chapter Seventeen- Lakefront Festival of Art & Port of Milwaukee

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    We made a last minute decision to head to the Lakefront Festival of Art this past weekend.  Good choice!

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    After paying our dues (kids free, MAM members $8), we headed in to see some art.  As it turns out, though, it’s fairly difficult to get a good grasp of the art when you forgot your stroller and baby carriers at home.  I sort of felt like we were in a parade because we just strolled down the alley and had lots and lots of people smile, gawk, and say hi to our big family.  Many women asked how we do it, and what we’re thinking having another.  Oh, the things people say.  At least on this day I didn’t have anyone say to me “So you’re almost there?!” referring to my due date (I’m NOT).

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    The above woodcut print that Little T is pointing to is her favorite by the very talented John Schirmer.  We stopped to compliment him and had a really nice chat about the art of woodcutting, and found he even has a children’s book.  It looks really interesting, and it’s on our list of books to buy. I love the opportunity to bring art to kids!

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    And this is the photographer Christopher Robleski, explaining to us the magic behind his art.  He and Katie Nelson have a really unique process of finding abandoned buildings, setting up at night usually by a bright full moon, lighting the interior and “painting” light on objects, and taking a photo.  I think it would be a better idea for you to actually go to his website for a better description.  Anyway, he was a really personable guy with a great idea.

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    Then we headed outside to see some wild animals….

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    …and play in the sand!  Definitely the kids’ highlight of the day.

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    Later in the afternoon, we took a drive to the Port of Milwaukee to take some photos.  Here’s some info on the port.  And here, too.  There are so many structures, I’m curious to know what they’re all being used for.  Or if they’re even being used.  The first photo below looked so space-like to me, like we visited a gated moon community or something.  Now pardon me while I post some extremely large pictures from the day.  I can’t figure out how to make them smaller but still clear.  BAM!

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    The last two are just for our moms.  You know, to make them worry that we’re doing dangerous things 🙂

    Have a great week everyone,

    A. Storm

  • Chapter Sixteen- Epic Date: MAM, Braise Restaurant, Honeypie Cafe and South Shore Park/Oak Leaf Trail

    On Saturday, Theo and I celebrated 6 years ago when we chose to travel life together.  We ditched the kids (ok, our amazing babysitter came over to give our kids a super fun Saturday afternoon/night) and went to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

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    We couldn’t figure out why it was so crowded for a late afternoon, but realized when we entered that it was a free day.  Yay!  Free art for anyone!  The exhibit 30 Americans was open, crafts were happening in the lobby, and easels were available in the hall for drop-in art.

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    After seeing 30 Americans, we stopped by the Veterans Book Project: Objects for Deployment.  I wasn’t prepared for such a powerful experience, yet could have spent a whole day reading through the books, notes and comments.  While it’s a difficult and politically-charged subject, please stop by and take part in this experience. We’re all affected by the wars our country has fought/is fighting in, and more education and knowledge about first hand experience can only give us a greater understanding.

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    We headed upstairs to some standard Storm family photos.

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    We had some time to kill before our early bird reservations at Braise Restaurant, so we walked over to The Harbor House for a quick drink.  I can’t comment on much other than the soda, which was as is should be.  The view, however, was great.  It was nice to see the skyline and art museum from an ever so slightly different view.

    Now, here is the part where I need to wow you with my descriptive writing.  Braise Restaurant.  I took no photos because I wasn’t planning on it being part of my blog, didn’t ask for a table by the window (so the photos of food would be better, of course), and didn’t want to ruin the mood of our date by documenting every aspect.   I can, however, tell you that by the time I took my second bite of food, I blurted out to Theo “I CAN’T WAIT TO COME BACK ALREADY!”.  Staff was genuine and good at their jobs, the decor was a great mix of industrial, country and modern, all with a warm and natural feel to it.  Price was as I’d expect for amazing local and well-prepared food.

    We ordered three small plates and one large, because we splurged.  The crispy scallion cracker, lamb kefka, and soba noodle dish were incredible.  I got the distinct impression that whoever put these plates together knew EXACTLY what they were doing.  Everything was the perfect balance of delicate and rich.  I want each dish in front of me right now, in fact.

    We also ordered the crispy pork shoulder as a large plate.  My favorite part of it was the bed of greens it came on.  They were earthy but tender, and drizzled in ramp jam (a strange clear gel/liquid) and stinging nettle sauce.  Both the ramps and nettles were foraged by the Chef/Owner, and made at the restaurant.  YUM.  I wanted to soak up every last bit of those two sauces on the greens.

    Chef/Owner Dave Swanson was stationed at the Chef’s Counter where he supervised every plate leaving the kitchen.  He seems very involved in the process and I think he’s doing something right.  You can read more about Braise on their website, but the gist is this: it started out as a link between local farmers and local restaurants.  They have an RSA program (Restaurant Supported Agriculture), culinary school, home delivery program, and restaurant.   Braise seems to breathe community and intention.  The entire experience was amazing and I’m looking for an excuse to go back.

    Next we headed to Honeypie Cafe for some pie and coffee, cause you know, we didn’t splurge enough at dinner.  I had (part of) a giant piece of cookies and cream pie, and Theo had apple pie.  Luckily they had to-go containers.

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    You can imagine one might need to take a walk after such a dining experience, so we drove to South Shore Park.  We parked the car, and walked along the Oak Leaf Trail both down by the water, and up on the residential streets.  We got an incredible view of the city and daydreamed about living on S. Shore Drive.

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    The chance to get out and enjoy our city was so appreciated.  Kids are great, of course.  But it’s also great to be an adult and walk along a beach without chasing after toddlers and wiping sand out of mouths.  There are so many neighborhoods with charm and character in this city.  There is culture and art and diversity and life.  I feel refreshed having been reminded of this.  We made a pact that we should do this every few months.  It’s totally worth getting a sitter and spending the money on food.

    Thanks for reading, and I’d love to connect with any of you readers.  If you have suggestions for spots to visit with or without kids, I’m all ears.  In fact, if you submit a comment with a suggestion, you’ll get a postcard!!  Last time I offered this, two lucky women received HAND WRITTEN correspondence!  How rare is that these days?  Make sure to email me your address if we’re not already friends….milwaukeebystorm [at] gmail [dot] com

    Also, a special shout out to my mom….Happy Birthday MP!  We love you lots!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter Fifteen- Milwaukee RiverWalk (better late than never)

    On a rainy day last week, we took a mini walk on the Milwaukee RiverWalk.  We searched for ducks and turtles, waved to the Police boat, then ate corndogs at the Public Market.

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  • Chapter Fourteen- The Eschweiler Buildings

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    Located on Watertown Plank Rd. in Wauwatosa, these vacant buildings hold a lot of wonder.  It’s hard to find concrete records on what exactly they were used for after their original purpose, and rumors say the campus was anything from a TB sanitarium to an insane asylum.  But here’s what I do know: Alexander C. Eschweiler designed five buildings in 1912 to be the county’s School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy.  The school’s enrollment was good for a year or two, but dwindled down and eventually the school closed in 1928.  Since that time, it’s reported that it served as The Milwaukee Home for Dependent Children, Milwaukee County Children’s Home, A DNR Headquarters, a space for SWAT training (perhaps adding to the apparent vandalism?), and also as the Milwaukee County University Extension Office.  It appears that some of the buildings have been occupied and some not throughout the years.

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    At any rate, there is and effort to Save the Eschweilers and the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, as well as interest by the Mandel Group, Inc. to demo at least some of the buildings and construct new apartment complexes.  There is also an effort and plan for a Forest Exploration Center, serving grades 6-12 (more here).  I haven’t done enough research to say my piece on any of these plans besides my initial thoughts…it would take an insane amount of money and time to update/repair these buildings, but the thought of more huge and unimaginative apartment complexes makes me want to vomit.  And the butterflies?!  We all know how important insects are, right?

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    I put filters on the above photos to create a creepy feel, which is what I had imagined this post looking like.  However, I have to admit that the campus was beautiful and the nature surrounding was peaceful.  There were a few trails with signs about treading lightly because of the butterfly habitat.  Huge trees shaded nice lawns, flowers were blooming, and I even saw a deer in the trees.  This really was a nice place to walk around, and it was cool to view the buildings from outside.

    All of the windows are boarded up, and there is a serious amount of vandalism in the buildings.  I had zero desire to enter the structures because the one broken window I looked in had a COLD and WET and MOLDY WIND bellowing out of it.  Not a “damp draft”.  Cold and constant wind that gave me the shivers.  Plus it appears the buildings have had such serious neglect and damage, I wouldn’t want to dishonor them any more by treading on them.

    I’ll participate by walking around, taking photos on a foggy day, doing research into the future of the grounds, and imagining what this place could be.  For now, it’s a neat place to see some wildlife and feel like I’ve gone just a bit back in time.

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    I hope whoever ends up taking care of these grounds has community (including the animals and insects that are a part of it) into consideration.  Cause that’s sort of my thing.

    See you next week!

    A. Storm