All posts in Food and Drink

  • Chapter 131- Cranky Al’s with new friends!


    Last month, I met up with a few friend and ate sweets, drank coffee, watched our kids take over the place, and had some really good conversation.  Ellia, of GreenBeanBaby, and I met at Elm Grove Art a few months ago, and have been meaning to meet up over donuts since.  We finally made it happen at Cranky Al’s!


    Ellia’s kids are so wonderful, and they entertained my kids for the entire time we were there (almost 3 hours!  You know the conversation’s good if you sit down for breakfast at 8:30am and realize it’s practically lunch time when you leave).

    Little A and Ellia’s daughter, Isabella, were queens of dance that morning.  I’m very certain the gentlemen sitting next to their impromptu dance floor loved the sounds of Little A’s cowgirl boots stomping.


    I’ll point out here that every photo after the one above (and the 237 on my camera) was taken either by Isabella, Little A, or Diego.  So the remainder of the post will be from their perspective!  Ellia and I stayed in the same spot, more or less, talking about motherhood, Milwaukee, challenges, art, and you know…life.

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    This one is hilarious and she’s going to hate me in like 10 years if any of her friends find this gem.

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    And somehow, the kids changed the settings to black and white and snapped this pic of Ellia.  They’re so smart, I’ve never taken a B&W photo on my camera!


    While we were there, Ellia gave me such a thoughtful gift!  Did I mention that she’s a cut paper freelance illustrator who makes amazing things like the ornament above (complete with yellow glasses!), and also does infographics?  She brought us a bottle of sequins and a stack of beautiful paper, too.

    And when we got home, we broke out our new art supplies and went right to making masterpieces.  Thank you Ellia!

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    Here’s to more adventures with Ellia and crew, and to sweets galore.

    Thanks for your patience in my slow-down of posting, everyone.  This is the first winter where I really feel like we’ve been hibernating!  Hopefully we can get out of our house and explore more than we’ve done the past few months!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 130- A Month in Review

    I haven’t posted in such a long time, for a few reasons.  The first is that we haven’t gotten out much.  The second is that I’m too overwhelmed to go through and individually post the adventures we DID take.  The third is that sometimes you just need a break.

    So because I have a slew of photos waiting to be posted, and that slew is causing me some anxiety, I’m just going to throw it all in this one glorious “recap” post and start fresh afterwards.

    Please be warned there are a million photos of my kids doing art projects in their pajamas.  Here’s the past month in photos:


    Oil pastel lessons from Grandpa.


    Fine-tuning her craft of making “loopty loops”.


    A “big dog bone”.  My kids have each been planning their big dog bone for months.  Maybe even a year for Little T.  My husband and I have been baffled at what this whole thing means, because nobody’s ever done anything except collect pieces of paper and recyclables.  But one day, after collecting a million scraps of paper, Little A declared that “today’s the day for my big dog bone!”.  She mapped it out and then created her masterpiece.  I’ll let you know when the others are having their dog bone.  It might even be a party.


    Took pretend naps on the kitchen floor while I was trying to make dinner.  Very helpful.


    Made it to the Tosa Tree Lighting ceremony.  It was crowded and fun and hectic and we were glad to do it.  And glad to leave.


    Went to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Like 10 times.

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    We dragged each other across the floor with blankets.


    Drank lots of hot chocolate.

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    Got dressed up in Halloween costumes to help Uncle Wow with a shoot for his film.


    We drew more loopty loops.


    And drew aliens, robots, and super heroes.


    And decorated cookies.  I thoroughly enjoyed saying “screw it”, and letting them just get at it.  I didn’t supervise one bit.  I put all the decorations out, walked away, and only came back for this photo.  They made a huge mess and had a blast.

    IMG_0783 IMG_0787 Little A, Little T and I went to The Nutcracker with my mother-in-law for the third year in a row.  It was amazing, as always!


    Cranky Al’s saw our faces quite a few times.


    We went back to the art museum.

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    And made these AWESOME accordion books filled with slides of famous artwork!  The kids art studio was open EVERY DAY of winter break.  That place is the best.

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    We had another impromptu cookie-decorating session, this time with TEN kids.  Most were under age 6.


    Sat on boxes eating treats.


    Played with glow-in-the-dark Hot Wheels tracks.  And got numerous “movies” put on by Little T and her new planetarium projector.


    Took my dad to the hospital on Christmas Day.  He’s ok, back home now and recovering well after a 6 day stay for an inner ear issue.  Merry Christmas!


    Played outside in the snow.


    Took a family photo.


    Went back to the art museum.

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    Made crowns and took photos.


    Attempted that ever-elusive 6 person selfie.


    We said goodbye to the world’s best dog, Bagheera.  He gave us 14 beautiful years of love and wisdom.  I’m still grieving something big and heavy.


    My beautiful sister and her hubby drove up from Colorado to hang out with our crazy crew.  They even took us out to lunch at Pho 124, which is really great by the way.  And my kids discovered bubble tea!  There’s no going back.


    We went to Gospel Brunch at Collectivo, only to discover that it was cancelled (or the calendar was just incorrect online).  However, we drank more hot chocolate and smoothie, and ran into an Instagram friend.  So not a total bust.


    We did more art projects at home.  In pajamas of course.


    And we got bunk beds, which gave opportunity to some super dangerous but really fun mattress-jumping.

    A big shout out to the Milwaukee Art Museum for being so totally rad and giving us endless opportunities to create and absorb art so frequently.  To cookies and hot chocolate and donuts for pumping my kids full of sugar.  To Froedtert hospital for taking care of my dad.  To the Milwaukee Ballet for another year of tradition.  And to the good people who I call friends and family.

    And here’s to the year ahead.  May it be filled with more places to explore, friends to share experiences with, love to be radiated, and peace to be found.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 129- Drink & Ink at Bay View Printing


    Another Drink & Ink?  Why yes, yes indeed.

    I don’t know how I forgot to post this, but a few months ago, I attended a Drink & Ink at Bay View Printing Co.  I rounded up a group of bad ass women, and we headed to Bay View with our drinks and snacks.


    Since I’ve posted about this amazing outing before, I’ll be brief with words.  The gist is that the amazing Ashley (owner of BVP) gave us an overview of how to use the printing press, where to find the type, and how to assemble our design.  We then went to work crafting our posters (mostly various quotes), chatting, drinking, and snacking.  A pretty ideal combination, as it turns out.

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    Because I had zero plans for the poster, I made this.  A bunch of letters with “STORM” hidden in it.


    My friend Sarah made this…


    …Shannon made this…


    …and this ghost picture has Margo and Kayte’s posters.  Ha!

    Now for the good stuff: Bay View Printing is offering memberships!  A one time fee gets you access to a bunch of awesome stuff, and you can go to open studio sessions.  AWESOME!  Please check out Bay View Printing Co.  Ashley is pretty much the best, and it’s exciting to see the business being opened up to artists and makers in the community.


    A. Storm

  • Chapter 127- 414 Music Live at Radio Milwaukee with New Age Narcissism


    Another reason I love this city?  Music.

    I’ve heard New Age Narcissism (a group of local musicians including Lex Allen, Siren, Webster X, Lorde Freddee, Bo Triples, Chris G., Jay Anderson and Q the Sun) on the radio for the past year or so, and been meaning to get to see them.

    So when I heard that they’d be on 414 Music Live at Radio Milwaukee, AND THAT IT WAS EARLY IN THE EVENING AND I COULD BRING MY KIDS, I jumped on it!  We’ve had plenty of dance parties to “This Is Our Year” at home, and the kids were stoked to have a public dance party.


    I knew it was going to be a great night when while we were parking, I saw Lex Allen frolicking across Pittsburg Ave while The Weekend’s “Can’t Feel My Face” on the radio.  I got there with enough time to purchase a dinner of champions from Stone Creek: cashews, almonds, a cookie and hot chocolate.


    First up was Siren, who serenaded us to no other song than the one we had just heard on the radio!  She slayed “Can’t Feel My Face” and my kids were enthralled.  At one point, when she was belting it out, I looked over at Little T who was plastered to her chair with the widest eyes I’ve ever seen, just taking it in.  I don’t know that she had ever experienced live music so deeply (being in the front row helped heighten the intensity too!).  Her parents were there, and even said hi to us after the show…it was heartwarming to see such support.

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    Next up was the fabulous Lex Allen who sang “Earned It”, also by The Weekend.  It was steamy and sultry and marvelous.  You know, as I’m writing this, I’m remembering that the first time I heard Lex was on 414 Music Live a while ago.  His mom was in the studio audience, and he was real and authentic and charming.  How cool to see him still going strong (ahem, stronger even) on the same stage.


    And then Webster X took the stage with Bo Triples and performed “Kid X” off of his new EP for us.  It was one hell of a song…included dancing and audience participation.  Can’t really go wrong with that.  In the interview with Ken Sumka afterwards, Webster X mentioned that his father recently said how proud of his son he is, and that was the highest approval Web could ever ask for.  It was really heartwarming to see the family ties among the artists!

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    Lex came back on stage to perform his new single “Cream and Sugar” and DAMN it was good!  Be on the lookout for it, and get yourself ready.

    After the radio program ended, we were treated to a bonus performance of “This Is Our Year”, to which my kids jammed out hard.

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    Thanks to the NAN crew, Radio Milwaukee, and Stone Creek Coffee for a really fun evening.  In particular, thanks for letting my kids experience live and local music in such a great setting!  And if you have 26 minutes, check out the session for yourself, and get a more accurate recap.

    Happy Thanksgiving, All!

    -A. Storm

  • Chapter 125- Apple Picking at Barthel Fruit Farm


    Today, I made a break from our routine.  I normally head to the gym with S while the twins are in preschool, but instead, we went apple picking!  We had enough time to drive to Barthel’s and man, was it a good decision.  I’m going to officially say that you should get out there soon before it gets cold, and pick some DELICIOUS honeycrip apples!

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    They also have pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks and various fall decorations.  I’ll get back to things other than apples in a minute.  But first…honeycrisps.


    I grabbed the $20 bag to fill, and found the correct aisle.  S and I walked around and looked through to find some really great apples.  Apparently, there was some hail damage this season, so the crop isn’t as perfect as normal, but every single apple we got was really great.  Some have a few small marks, but they’re so tasty just as well.

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    After filling up our bag, we went back to the barn and I noticed there were some plants and herbs on sale.  S and I walked around and discovered new colors and smells.  I ended up getting some thyme and apple mint.  There was a small chocolate mint plant which was super yummy (I may or may not have nipped a tiny leaf to try), but my planter at home can’t fit it.

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    After strolling around, having some great conversation (I swear this kid can talk like no other.  She’s not two quite yet but is speaking in full sentences and has A LOT to say.  I guess that’s the product of being a fourth kid!), we saddled up to the apple barn to pay.  And for $24, I got an enormous bag of apples and two herb plants.  Not a bad deal!

    But like I said, colder weather is coming, so head out soon.

    I hope everyone’s soaking up the last bits of nice fall weather…more to come on a trip I took yesterday in search of autumn colors!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 124- Elm Grove Art


    My friend Keila (of Mommy In Milwaukee) and I attended a Momma’s Night Out at Elm Grove Art last weekend, and I have to tell you that it was so fun!  I was a little nervous about leading the discussion about motherhood (Keila and I were hosting the night, as Mom Bloggers).  I don’t actually feel like a “Mom Blogger” because this is such a hobby for me, and also because in no way am I qualified to give anyone advice.


    BUT…when we arrived, we were welcomed by two of the most genuine, funny, and kind ladies I’ve met.  Katy Oberst and Danielle Heckenkamp are co-owners, who have created a super fun and casual space for people to socialize and make some art.  We were greeted with beautiful flowers that Danielle arranged, as well as some delicious chocolate.  Oh, and they serve wine and beer.  So um, yeah.  Can’t really go wrong.


    We sat down with nine other moms in the party room, gathered around a table, and shared stories about motherhood and what we’ve learned.  It was such a nice opportunity to hear from some other women who are interested in helping create a community of support, who give themselves a break, and who try and move through this role in life with grace.

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    Then, we grabbed some complimentary candy and headed to the easels.  Miss Katy led us through making a painting of a cherry blossom tree, which included some jokes, some instructions, some questions, and lots of laughs.  It was perfect for people with lots of experience in art, as well as folks who’d never painted before.


    Katy and Danielle have only been open for about four months, and already have so many different ways to make art.  They host birthday parties, rent out the space, have holiday celebrations and more.  They are going to add in a “craft” night as an option.  Have you ever seen a DIY project on Pinterest, but not wanted to gather all the materials and clean up the mess?  Well, keep an eye out for those!  Also, join in at the next Momma’s Night Out!  You can come and hang out, socialize, and make something amazing to bring home.


    And here’s the pretty kick ass bunch of ladies (minus Danielle and Katy) that I got to hang out with.  It was so great to meet everyone, and I hope we can meet up again!


    When my kids saw the painting I made, they were ASTOUNDED that I could do such a thing and asked to have it up in their room.  Win!


    And as an additional bonus, we are still enjoying the beautiful flowers from Danielle!

    For the record, this is NOT what my dining room table looks like normally.  Currently there are about 50 pieces of paper, 100 colored pencils, some books and pieces of broken toys taking up most of the tabletop.

    Check out Elm Grove Art’s website for a calendar of events, and I’ll hopefully see you November 21st at the next Momma’s Night Out!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 122- Holey Moley Donuts and Gordon Park


    Last week I saw a picture of donuts from Holey Moley, and decided to pack up the kids and take a trip for a mid-morning snack.


    We pranced our way into the sort of odd location (the lobby area connected to Coquette Cafe and a few other businesses), smashed our faces against the glass, and chose donuts.  Little T and J opted for the Boston Cream, Little A got the Red Velvet, and S got the Sugar Babies (I didn’t realize we’d get two).  Oh, and I got the Coffee Cake Old Fashioned donut…I may be thinking about it right now wishing it were in my mouth.  It was SO good.


    Turns out the pair of Sugar Babies came in handy, because after Little A licked off the frosting of her Red Velvet, she decided she didn’t like it.  Luckily we had a spare!

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    Just because there was a lot of twin love that day.

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    There was also a lot of hair flipping and squeezing and singing.

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    So then, after the donuts, the kids requested a park.  I agreed it would be a good idea, and asked if they wanted to go to a park we know, or just drive around until we found one.  They chose the latter, and we ended up at Gordon Park.


    It was almost deserted, because it was almost lunchtime, and the sky was threatening to rain at any minute.  We took our chances!

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    And there’s a woman, Amanda Magee, who has some beautiful things to say about life and parenting.  And she often says yes when she wants to say no (in terms of things like pulling over to swim in a lake with her daughters).  And when I saw the enormous sandbox, I was temped to request that the kids stay out of it.  Because who in their right mind likes dealing with sand in hair and eyes and shoes and anywhere else you can think of?


    But I thought of Amanda, and I said yes.  And the fun we had was worth the sand in my car.

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    I had spotted a big wall across a soccer field, so we took off our shoes and ran across to find out what was behind the wall.  Turns out, it’s a building with some graffiti which makes a great backdrop for photos.

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    And that was that.  A really enjoyable morning and totally worth it all!


    A. Storm



  • Chapter 120- Barthel Fruit Farm: Strawberry and Pea Picking


    Let me just start by saying of course this post, like most, could be better timed.  If things were different in my life and blogging were actually my job, I’d have posted this right before strawberry and pea picking, rather than after.  Then I’d give you a list of farms around Milwaukee, complete with some sort of family-friendly rating system.


    But…I’m not that organized.  So here’s my recap of an amazing day a few weeks ago!  I met my friend Margo and her three boys at Barthel’s, which is in Mequon.  I’d never been strawberry picking before, because I imagined it being a total fail of a day.  I had no idea how I’d possibly wrangle four young kids and keep them safe and engaged.


    But for some reason, it worked out perfectly.  It was a fairly cool and overcast day, so we didn’t have to contend with complaints about heat.  We were assigned a row of strawberries, took a few flats, and got to picking (eating).


    There were lots of other families there, some with younger or more kids than I have!!  Ok, nobody with more than four kids, but I did see a woman who had what looked like almost 2 year old twins.  And I admired her.  She was very calmly watching over her only partially happy kids, while carrying on a semi coherent conversation with her friend.

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    After we finished our row of strawberries, we headed over to the peas to start picking.  And man, those peas were delicious!

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    After we had our fill of peas and berries, we packed up to head out.  I think I paid like $8 for the big bag of peas and few pounds of strawberries.  Woot!   barthels16 barthels19

    I had plans to make freezer jam with all the leftover berries we’d inevitably have, but within 24 hours, ALL the berries and peas were gone.  Amazing snacks!!

    Even though strawberry picking season is over, apple season is right around the corner.  Hope you’re having a great second half of your summer, all!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 119- Tosa Tonight at Hart Park


    I’d like to dedicate this post to the big blanket I carry in my trunk, thanks to my Grandpa Cy!.  Because a few weeks ago, I did NOT feel like making dinner (which is pretty much every night this summer) and decided to take the kids to Gilles to get burgers to take to a park.  And on the way to Gilles, I drove past Hart Park and read the sign that said “Music Tonight“.   And since I had a blanket in my trunk for such spontaneous picnics, we got our burgers and custard and brought them back to the park.


    We dined on some fine hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches, got more custard on our clothes than in our mouths, and it was perfect.  Things were just getting set up (the first performer started at 6pm) so we had some time to play with some bug finger puppets that the folks of Firefly Real Estate gave us, then headed to the playground.

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    And I’m usually really good at keeping track of my four kids on a playground, but when 50 other kids are on it for a special occasion, it’s MUCH harder.


    My youngest wandered off in the crowd at one point and it was the first time I’ve been a little nervous about not finding a kid.  Usually, I know generally where they are, and I find them 5 seconds later.  I’m constantly doing a headcount (so if you see me out someday, and wonder why I’m distracted, it’s because I’m counting to four).  But the little miss took off while I was talking to the big kids, and I had no idea where she went.  Luckily, some nice older folks behind me gave me clear directions as to where she went, and I found her wandering among blankets and families not far from me.  Whew!


    Immediately after deciding she didn’t need to stay near us in a crowd of people, she climbed up this ladder all by herself.  Then continued to climb it for like 20 minutes straight.  Let me remind you here that she’s a year and a half.  Someone guessed her age this past weekend, and thought she was THREE.  Nope.  Just tall and independent.


    And then Macyn Taylor took the stage.  And we danced.  Macyn is an incredible musician, and I loved her slide guitar and folk music and heart felt lyrics.  The kids liked it too!


    And now I’ll tell the rest of the story in photos.

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    We weren’t able to stay for the main act, but it was such a fun and spontaneous evening.  Hope you’re taking advantage of all the free music around the city this summer.  Here’s a link to Milwaukee County Parks’ schedule, as a place to start.

    Happy summer, all!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 118- Ingebrigt Håker Flaten at Anodyne Coffee


    A few weeks ago, I saw a notification on my Facebook page that Anodyne Coffee was hosting a free performance by Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, a jazz bassist from Norway who was in town for the OKKA Fest.  Since I knew nothing about Ingebrigt or the jazz fest, I thought it would be a perfect event for my four kids!


    We got to Anodyne a few minutes later than I hoped (for some reason Bay View is the Bermuda Triangle for me.  I can NEVER find a decent route there, and since I’m a “just wing it” kind of gal, I don’t bother looking at a map or getting GPS).

    But when we arrived, we had to share a table with four other people.  One of my kids was feeling particularly shy and obstinate that day, so we almost had to call it off due to table sharing.  Luckily, two super nice folks saw what was about to happen and offered up their table, saving the day.


    We sat down to munch on our cookies and juice (soda? whatever you want to call San Pellegrino) and it was awesome.


    Awesome because the music was nothing like my kids had ever heard.  It was also out of my typical listening genres.  It was disjointed, confusing, interesting, and involved lots of plucking/striking/squealing.  Of course, because I’m out of my element, I’m using non technical terms.  But it was SO interesting to hear and see.


    It was a quiet crowd, as you had to be in order to hear some of the music.  Not something many (ahem, any) people would take their kids to.  The twins and Little T did a good job of listening and letting other people enjoy the performance, but my 1.5 year old didn’t really understand why she had to eat a cookie in silence for 20 minutes.  There were a few “MAMA!” shouts, but other than that, they were all pretty good.  Actually, three people came up to me afterwards and complimented the kids.  High five, team!


    We played on the sidewalk for a few minutes, before deciding we need to run off some sugar.


    So we headed to Humboldt Park!  It was a busy and beautiful day, and I spent most of the time pushing kids on the swings.  Any other parents out there avoid parks with swings?  I do.  It’s nearly impossible to find four swings in a row (at least two have to be big kids swings, at least one has to be a little kid swing).  So I spend my time trying to keep an eye on many people in many different parts of a playground.  But it works out.

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    It was really fun to do something out of our element, followed up by running around outside at a beautiful park.

    A. Storm