All posts in Special Events

  • Chapter 116- Orange Gallery

    Hey all!  If you’re free tonight, check out Orange Gallery’s Grand Opening!


    I was lucky enough to attend the soft opening in February, and wanted to share about this cool new shop.  Ngoc is a fabulous lady (pictured below, left) who has put together the collection of artwork, jewelry, clothing and general awesomeness in the gallery.  Lacquer Nail Salon shares the space, and provides some seriously good looking nail services by a lovely and hilarious woman, Lynna.

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    When I arrived, there were lots of folks strolling around talking to artists, shopping, munching on delicious food and doing some general mingling.


    I liked a ton of the work, and got to meet the women from Artery Ink, Mara and Gloria.  They’ve put together health/wellness with art, to create a really unique art form.  I really appreciate the combination, and the fact that they honestly care about people.  And their message is worth getting behind.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of their work, so hit up their online stuff if you haven’t seen them around town.

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    There seemed to be something for everyone here.  The range of style and price was fit for a wide variety of shoppers.


    And the general vibe of the night was right up my alley.  People were interesting, welcoming, easy going.  I sometimes feel out of my league at art events, but not here!


    I met Leah Delaney of ExFabula (CHECK. THAT. OUT.) and got excited about what she’s doing.  I later attended an ExFabula event and had a wonderful evening, where I almost got up the guts to share a story in front of a large crowd.


    I even said hi to Mr. John Dye of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge (he was apparently feeling a bit photo shy).  Remember the post I did about Doors Open and the in depth tour I got?  It’s a cool place with rich history.


    I spent most of the evening meeting artists, learning about Milwaukee, and generally having fun talking with people.  Which brings me to the fact that I took only a few of these photos…

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    A big shout out to my friend and photographer Kate for making this post possible!  Most of these pics are hers.  Well except the one above that I snapped while she was avoiding being in front of the camera.

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    The food was delicious (catered by Classic Slice and Cedar Teeth), the company was top notch, and the art work was really great.  I’m sure the Grand Opening tonight will be a blast!


    Check out Orange Gallery tonight (I hear there’s a DJ!) or any other time, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    Thanks for reading and have a great weekend,

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 113- Cuban Day Street Celebration


    Thanks to Miltown Moms, I heard about Saturday’s Cuban Day Street Celebration.  The weather was cooperating, so I packed up the kids and headed downtown to Milwaukee St. in front of Cubanitas restaurant.

    The celebration included a stage with some wonderful live music, space for dancing, tables and chairs, a small booth or two, and a very large inflatable slide.  Because I have four kids, we made a dash for the slide.  Since the celebration was still starting, we had it all to ourselves!

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    Soon after, a few other families came in and the kids took turns going two by two through the maze/slide.

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    And then my sister-in-law and her son showed up!  My kids were beyond excited that they got to go down a giant inflatable slide AND see their cousin (they often literally squeal with delight when they see him!).


    After some convincing, we decided to leave the inflatable and head to the food.  Little T insisted on pushing the stroller which was a very independent and big kid thing to do.


    When I went inside Cubanitas to check out the food situation, I read the sign that said “$13 per adult, $6.50 for kids ages 5-11 and free for kids under age 5”.  I bet they didn’t think of my family when making those prices!  The food was delicious.  We ate some rice and beans, fried plantains, plantain chips with guacamole, delicious roasted pork and more.  The kids mostly focused on the white rice, chips and guacamole, but I’d say 75% of them tried 50% of the food.


    The tables were all full so we set up shop on this doorstep, which made for a nice backdrop.

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    I’ve been letting the kids use my camera periodically, and the above portrait and below family shots were done by my three year old nephew.  Pretty good, I’d say!

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    And this one just because Little T looks like she’s hitchhiking.


    Oh!  And then we realized that Indulge was part of the celebration, and stopped in for some free cotton candy.  The woman making the treat was nice enough to make really small ones for my kids, because I was already tempting fate by getting the kids all hopped up on sugar right before departing.


    Little T scarfed down her treat and promptly made herself into a unicorn.

    Which happens to be a fantastic parting shot.

    Thanks to Cubanitas for hosting such a fun adventure.  I can’t wait to head back to the restaurant for a date night with my husband.  I’ll get to do that someday, right?  Have a night out without a headache of planning and paying a sitter?  Yeah, it’ll come.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 112- Performing Arts in the Park

    I found out through the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Facebook page that the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) put on a cool and free event to bring arts to families.  There were events at Humboldt, Lincoln, Gordon, Mitchell, Lafollette parks and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.  We chose the latter location because First Stage was there, and my kids wanted to see some acting.


    Me and the brood, plus a sweet little girl in pink whose mom took our photo.


    We were welcomed inside and the folks from First Stage greeted us and invited the kids on stage!  My kids were excited to head on up, and only one got shy periodically.


    The kids got to join in on warm ups, using their imaginations, and offering suggestions for the storyline.

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    My youngest even joined in 🙂 She spent the rest of the time walking up and down the stairs to the stage.  And fell on her face twice.

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    The kids got to be on stage for like 45 minutes, and were FULLY engaged the entire time.  They thought it was a morning of playing, basically.  There were no specific acting methods and no rigid instructions.  Instead, they got a general outline for how to tell a story on stage and an opportunity to share ideas about the story.

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    We even won a free book from First Stage, and Little T has been reading (looking at) it since!


    After the event was finished, we walked around the community center a bit, admiring the architecture, the fish…

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    …and even got to watch some kids doing gymnastics!

    Thanks UPAF, First Stage, and Milwaukee County Parks for a fun morning.  I only wish the performances throughout the city were staggered so we could have attended more!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 94 – Dia de los Muertos Parade


    A few weeks ago, on a cold Saturday, I took the kids to see the Dia de los Muertos Parade at Walker’s Square Park.  I had forgotten that last year, Theo took the twins and Little T to it, while I stayed home with baby S who was just a few days old.  From what I gather, it was just as cold this year, but less rainy than last.


    We arrived after the parade had wrapped up, but I heard from friends who were on an opposite schedule that the parade was great.  By the time the Storm clan got there, a drum circle had formed with a huge crowd around it.  My kids were totally enthralled by the face paint, woman on stilts, and loud music.  Soon after, the Mexica/Aztec Danzas came out and the crowd made room in the center.


    I had the stroller with me, so we had a hard time getting a good spot to watch, but luckily Little T was super brave and independent and took her younger sister to the front row (sort of within my sight).  Little T LOVED it all, but Little A was wary about the costumes and face paint.

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    After the dancing, there was a vigil for peace.  Community members got up to speak about uniting our community, supporting each other, and standing up for peace.  It was really meaningful to see so many different people get up and talk about the same message.  Unfortunately the kids were freezing and didn’t really understand everything, so their request for the playground guided our next move.


    Here’s a pic of all four.  J had hit his limit and crashed in the stroller while we headed to the playground.  It was packed!  Lots of big and little kids climbing, running, sliding, and helping the littler kids out.

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    We snacked on some fries from a food truck, warmed our hands by a portable fire pit, and headed home.  I had meant to have the conversation about what Dia de los Muertos celebrates, but it was really difficult while managing four little kids.  I’m already looking forward to next year, and helping the kids understand the holiday…oh, and getting to this event in time for the parade.

    Hope you’re all staying warm out there!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 92- Pajama Jamboree with Milwaukee’s Festival City Symphony


    Are you familiar with free symphony concerts for families?  Well you should be, because they’re awesome.  Milwaukee’s Festival City Symphony has Pajama Jamborees, which are amazing opportunities to get your pjs on, grab blankies, and listen to some great music and hear stories and learn about instruments.


    I took the big kids on a feshil mama date, and they were stoked to do something only “big” kids could do (because yeah, a 2 year old is a big kid).  We arrived just as the concert was starting and still found a small space in the back to set up shop.

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    We were introduced to the night’s program of Peter and the Wolf, but stood to sing the national anthem first.  And a little secret about me…I get choked up singing it.  I’m not an overly patriotic person, but something about a group of people singing together makes my heart swell.  And as I had my hand across my heart, I looked down at my kids who were in awe with the communal song, I had to fight to hold in a few tears.


    I composed myself, and by that time a few of our friends arrived.  We spent the next hour enthralled with music, narration, and high school actors playing out the story of Peter and the Wolf.

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    Afterwards, we hung out for just a minute and gave hugs and climbed on things were probably not supposed to climb, and then made our way to the parking ramp.

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    And the skywalk was a huge hit among my three kids in footed pjs and no shoes.


    On the way home, Little T was holding my camera, and I gave her the ok to snap some photos.  Here are my favorites from the evening:

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    There’s another concert scheduled for December 10th, and then another in the spring.  Check out this really wonderful offering if you can!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 84- Doors Open Milwaukee (Part III)


    Welcome to your third and final installment of the Doors Open Milwaukee weekend!  After an easy and really enjoyable time volunteering, and an in-depth tour of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, I took Sunday to explore.


    Remember how in my first post, I told you that when I volunteered I got to meet great people, get a sneak peak at the projection room at the Public Museum, and generally have a great morning?  Well another perk of volunteering is that you get a special badge that lets you in a separate line for busy locations (see photo above).  You just have to pass by all the people waiting in the rain respectfully, and tell them that they can skip ahead next year if they volunteer too!

    Anyway, first stop was a Frank Lloyd Wright model home, and it was amazing.   The house was under 900 sq. feet, and felt much bigger.  We learned all about the lines and light and useable space.  I couldn’t take any photos of the home inside, so you’ll just have to check it out yourself to see.


    Next, we headed to the Modjeska Theater.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t open because it didn’t look like much from outside, but I was wrong.  We headed in and gave the nice volunteer our zip codes, and made our way into the theater.



    A nice gentleman was telling us all about the renovation efforts, and it was fun to imagine the potential of this community theater.  A lot of work still needs to be done, but even with paint peeling and chairs broken, you can feel the rich history and opportunity for something great.

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    Next came some poor planning, and we went to St. Stanislaus church.  We didn’t read the guide to realize that the church wasn’t open until 1pm, so we took a few photos of the outside and kept on our way…

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    …to The Milwaukee Ballet!  We got a great and thorough guided tour and learned all about the building and company.  Did you know that the floor pictured above is moveable?  The company takes it (or a replica) with them to keep their dancers’ joints safe.  I’d love to see what moving and installing a huge floor looks like!


    We were granted access to the costume room.  The costumes were amazing, people.  To see racks and racks (some hanging from the ceiling) of incredible workmanship was really great.  They rent both to and from other companies, and some of the costumes have lasted upwards of 20 years.  Not THAT’S some quality craftsmanship.

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    After the ballet, we headed to the US Bank Observation deck.  I was surprised that there was no line, so we entered the building and headed right up to the freight elevator.  After a minute of being whoosed up to the 41st floor, we headed through some sort of mechanical room to the deck.

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    I was a little surprised that most of the deck was covered by the huge US Bank signs on the outside of the building, but obviously we still got a great view of the city I call home.

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    And finally, we found our way to the Best Place at Pabst Brewery.  Parking was sort of a mess, but I swear, everyone participating in Doors Open was friendly and happy to be exploring their city so it didn’t matter.  I think at one point, my husband actually said “Wow, I’m so inspired to get involved in our city”. Way to go Doors Open/Historic Milwaukee.  I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point of the event.

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    Next year I’ll do some better planning (well any planning..I didn’t plan out a single thing until we got in the car).  There were so many sites I wanted to explore, like churches, but didn’t get a chance to.  It’s worth noting that some places are open only on Saturday or Sunday of the event.  The in-depth tour was great and I wish I could have gone to see the free presentation by John Gurda at St. Josaphat’s Basilica.  So I guess what I’m saying is that next year I’ll pack in more.  And do it efficiently.

    There were a lot of people who went with their kids, and it would be great to take them to some sites.  However, I was really happy that I didn’t have my four young kids with me that day.  If I’d gone to different sites, I might not feel the same.  I met a woman recently who said she took her kids to see a graphic waterfall.  Tucked in an alley.  And the guy programming the waterfall even put her kids’ names in it.  Rad, right?

    So my last thanks to Doors Open Milwaukee, I’ll see you next year.  And I’ll recruit more volunteers (ahem, I mean YOU) and explore more of the city.

    Thanks for joining in on the adventure, everyone!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 84- Doors Open Milwaukee (Part II- In-Depth Tour at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge)


    For the second installment of my Doors Open Milwaukee weekend, I went to an in-depth tour of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, hosted by Wisconsin Foodie‘s Kyle Cherek.  This tour was one of the chances to get a guided tour of one of the sites, and I should mention that members of Historic Milwaukee get first dibs on tickets.


    I met my friend Kori, of AnalogEmporium, at Bryant’s and we were immediately brought to a different world.  The space was barely lit, the cash register was plated in gold (like most of the bar actually) and walls covered with velvet wallpaper.   There is no menu.  The idea is that you talk with your bartender about what kinds of things you like, and what mood you’re in, and they’ll match you with a drink.  I’m told that they have a 99.9% success rate.


    We ordered drinks (yes, at 3pm), and headed upstairs and found a seat right in front.  Kyle Cherek and bar owner John Dye led us through the rich history of this lounge and it’s three owners since opening in 1936.

    {intermission: I ran into John while I was attending a punk-rock show with my kids at Anodyne recently, and will fill you in on that adventure soon.  But he was a really nice and gracious dude who immediately gave me a greater sense of the integrity behind Bryant’s just because he seems like a stand up guy}

    What stuck out most to me was the dedication to authenticity.  From the time of its opening, the mission seems to be roughly the same: provide a unique place where attention to detail and the craft of making delicious cocktails are valued.  There’s no standing room at Bryant’s.  You can either sit at the bar, or at a table.  And once you do, you’re encouraged to put down your damn phone and talk to someone.


    Regulars and long-time waitresses remain a part of the picture.  Hardship and disaster arose in the stories told, but so did the notion of rebuilding and remaining true at most any cost.  This cocktail lounge isn’t there by chance.  It’s still around because of people like John who pour thought and time and energy into a place that brings people together.


    After the presentation, Kori snapped a picture of me and Kyle and then stuck around to take a few more photos of Bryant’s.


    And the intriguing thing about this painting is that there’s really  no story behind it.  Nobody knows who the woman is, and nobody knows who painted it.  But it sure is a good conversation piece.


    A special thanks to Kyle and John for sharing the stories, and to Doors Open Milwaukee (and Historic Milwaukee, Inc) for providing the tour.  Stay tuned for my next and final installment of the weekend, and remember that the easiest way to stay in the loop is to enter your email address is the “subscribe” box at the bottom of the column to the right.

    Cheers, all!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 84- Doors Open Milwaukee (Part I- Volunteering at Milwaukee Public Museum)


    Welcome to part one of my Doors Open Milwaukee experience…volunteering!


    As I mentioned in my original post about Doors Open, I signed up to work a 4-hour shift at one of the MANY sites open to the public for free of charge last weekend, and I was placed at The Milwaukee Public Museum.  I’d missed participating in this amazing event in years past, so I decided to volunteer so I couldn’t miss the weekend.


    And let me tell you that it was one of the most enjoyable volunteering events I’ve done.  I was paired up with a wonderful woman named Peggy (who also volunteers at the Volunteer Legal Clinic), and our task was simply to greet visitors and give them the quick rundown (all movies playing at The Dome Theater were free!) and collect zip codes for data collection.  Everyone we met was so happy to be there, and kids were excited to get their passports stamped.


    Then I asked David, the Planetarium Educator, if the Projection Room is ever open to the public (me being “the public”).  He was gracious enough to let me take a peek inside, and then Charlie the projectionist gave me a brief tour.  It was awesome!  The film reels are over 200lbs and are miles long.  To see that enormous projector was really fascinating.  I learned that it gets so hot that they have coils of cold water running around it to keep it from overheating.

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    But back to volunteering, it was so easy and I got to chat with lots of new people.   It was such a simple way to get involved AND get a badge that let me skip to the front of the line in other Doors Open sites.  More on that in the next post…

    Oh and I wanted to mention two events coming up at the Public Museum: The Sci-Fi Film Fest starts October 23 and has some great films to see in preparation for the Alien Worlds and Androids exhibit.  Check out the schedule and head on over to have your mind blown by the Dome Theater, and get details on the new exhibit.

    Thanks to everyone at the museum and my fellow volunteer Peggy for making it such an enjoyable Saturday morning!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 77- Doors Open Milwaukee (Volunteer Orientation)


    For the past few years, I’d hear about Doors Open Milwaukee as it was happening and wish I had coordinated my life so I could attend.  The idea of the event is to open up buildings in Milwaukee to the public, free of cost, for one weekend.  Check out their website for a list of over 150 buildings at which you could get a closer look.

    This year I decided to sign up to volunteer so I wouldn’t miss the weekend.  Volunteers hang out at one of the sites for a 4 hour shift and greet people entering the building.  And for just those 4 hours, you get to be a part of this cool event AND get a special volunteer badge which lets you enter some of the more popular sites through a separate “volunteer only” line.


    So this morning, after a night of food poisoning, I got myself together by stopping by Rocket Baby Bakery to grab a coffee and croissant, and then met up with other volunteers at the Central Library.

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    We met up in the Centennial Hall, and got a briefing on expectations and details.

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    Volunteer Coordinator Melinda Kallenberger gave us the run down, and also informed us that they’re still looking for over 100 volunteers for the event!  People, stop reading my blog right now and visit the site to get in touch with Melinda and let her know you’ll sign up for one 4 hour shift on Saturday September 20 or Sunday the 21st!


    Afterwards, we got our location assignments (I’ll be in the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Dome Theater), chatted with other volunteers, and fell in love with the new GLOW IN THE DARK t-shirts for sale:



    This is a family-friendly event, too.  A free kids’ passport is available to get your young ones involved in exploring their city.


    I’ll post more about the event after it happens, but I’m so excited to finally check this out.  I hope you can carve out 4 hours of your time to sit and greet people who are hoping to learn more about the city.  Stay tuned for my experience with the weekend, and I’d love to hear if you’ve volunteered or attended before.  Please share!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 70- S/V Denis Sullivan, Sail & Fireworks


    Happy Fourth of July, everyone!  Hope you’re celebrating and relaxing.  I wanted to tell you that last night, Theo and I met some friends at the Sailing Vessel Denis Sullivan for a 2 hour sail on Lake Michigan.  It’s been approximately four years since we’ve seen fireworks, so this was a much awaited adventure.


    When we boarded, we met with the ship’s captain, Carlos.  He gave us an amusing but serious set of instructions and expectations for the sail.  As it turns out, he’s a really interesting guy who was incredibly easy to talk to.

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    One of the crew members brought her dog Brody on the trip, and he was a busy guy, checking out everything and everyone on and near the ship.

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    We made our way out of the harbor surrounding Discovery World, and set sail on the fairly calm water.

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    This picture of Theo relaxing pretty much sums up the feeling of the sail.  A nice breeze kept us moving calmly, and I felt like we were in a hammock.

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    We had some great conversations with the captain and crew members.  I was surprised to know that most of the crew live on the ship and spend the winters maintaining the boat.  Everyone we talked to was kind and genuine, and willing to share their experience with us…


    …even if they didn’t want to be photographed…


    We were served Purple Door Ice Cream, as a 4th of July bonus.  Have you had their salted caramel?  Do it.  It’s amazing.  That’s really all I need to tell you.

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    When we headed back into the harbor, there were a million other boats getting set up to watch the fireworks.  Carlos navigated the path and we docked right were se started.  At first, I thought the view of fireworks would be obstructed by the masts, but the minute they started I shut my mouth.  It was a great view!

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    After the show ended, we made our way through the sea of people leaving downtown.  For the future, I’ll never drive or walk to see fireworks at the lakefront again.  Biking would be the only tolerable way to leave.


    What about you, what are you doing to celebrate this weekend?  I’d love to hear.

    So happy holiday, all.  Enjoy!

    A. Storm