Archive for April, 2013

  • Chapter Ten- Urban Ecology Center and Exclusive Co.

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    For my birthday, I left the kids with my husband and went on a date with my lovely friend Kate.  Back up a few years to when I worked for REI as Outreach Specialist.  That amazing job got me in touch with some really cool non-profits in the Milwaukee area, such as The Park People, The Ice Age Trail Alliance, Dream Bikes, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, The Urban Ecology Center, and many more.  I’ve been wanting to stay involved these killer organizations since I left (when I was pregnant with the twins 2 years ago), so when I heard that the Urban Ecology Center was having an Earth Day Festival on my birthday, I couldn’t pass it up.


    When we arrived, I caught up with Jamie Ferschinger, branch manager at the Riverside Park branch, and got really excited about their new branch that recently opened in the Menominee Valley.  We also talked about how I went to the indoor farmers’ market last week, and how they’re looking to keep the same space at the State Fair Grounds for next year (fingers crossed!).  I was reminded that all these non-profits who care about our community are connected to each other.  Kate and I then proceeded to the animal viewing room and saw some great reptiles.  A cranky snake named Ferdinand was all the talk, and one of the staff was feeding a mouse to Ned the snake.  We also saw some small and some HUGE turtles.  There is space for kids to sit down while they learn all about the animals in their environment, as many school groups come through these doors.

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    Next we headed upstairs to view the super cool face-painting and Korean drumming.  The space is comfortable, clean, natural, and inviting.  And lots of people to use the building for free crafts, projects, and entertainment!


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    Kate and I couldn’t resist taking a trip (or two or three) down the slide, too.

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    We then ventured outside to the observation tower and got a great view of our city, the nice architecture, solar panels, and some rock climbing action.


    This branch of the Urban Ecology Center is placed right behind Riverside Park, and along the Oak Leaf Recreational Trail.


    And as a bonus, you can ask staff for permission to play any number of musical instruments.  Curl up with a banjo and relax.


    Kate and I got some food after the event, and the first person who guesses this location in the comment section (email me your info at milwaukeebystorm [at] gmail [dot] com) will get a postcard in the mail from me.  How’s THAT for a contest?!?

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    The final chapter of my birthday adventure was a celebration of Record Store Day.  I didn’t even know this was a thing, but it is.  It involves independent record stores, swag, record releases, sales, and live music.  As we entered The Exclusive Company on Farwell, I saw a poster of JD McPherson, and pointed to it saying “Kate, I like this band!”  We talked about how I really dig the song “North Side Girl” (see video below) which can be heard on my fave radio station Radio Milwaukee.  So when we entered the store, we were both really surprised to FIND HIM PLAYING!  It was awesome!  Everyone in the place was smiling and bopping along to the beat, and the vibe was positive and fun.  Things I love: vinyl records, sales, live music.  We watched the show and even got the band to sign my LP.  I didn’t think I was self conscious about my age or birthday, until one of the guys asked if we were going to the show at Shank Hall that night.  I stumbled and almost blurted out “Um no, I’m and old lady who’s pregnant with my fourth kid and will probably be in bed by 9pm”, but my much less awkward friend jumped in and said something like “No, we have plans that involve lots of other people”.  Good save!

    JD McPherson North Side Girl

    In all, this was one of my more favorite birthdays.  I got to take part in a great community event at The Urban Ecology Center, and listened to live music.  Things just sort of seemed to work out.

  • Chapter Nine- Milwaukee County Winter Farmers’ Market (AND A BONUS! Explanation for Intermission)


    A friend of mine sent me a link about the Milwaukee County Winter Farmers’ Market, and I decided that Saturday April 13 was my last chance…so I went.


    Upon arriving (located in the Tommy Thompson Youth Center), I easily found free parking and entered into the bustling commons.  There were lots of people shopping and buying meat, dairy, honey, veggies, soups, jams, and much more. I had a little trouble figuring out the flow of traffic, but soon realized there wasn’t really one.  I took a few laps to scope everything out, tasting some samples along the way.


    Valentine Coffee Roasters were busy pouring coffee for lots of customers who seemed very pleased with their purchases.




    Winter veggies looked delicious.  Parsnips, beets, greens, mushrooms and more were available in abundance.



    Fresh and local goods always make me smile.  Vendors were very pleasant and offered lots of delicious samples.


    Let’s talk for a minute about samples.  And toffee.  KP’s Toffee makes some of the most delicious toffee (and other treats) that I’ve tasted.  Now generally I’m not drawn to sweet treats like this, but the nice lady enticed me to try.  Let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.  It was light enough so my mouth didn’t get tired of chewing before I finished.  And not over powering in the sweet, either.  The toffee cake was amazing, too.  I love generous vendors who encourage you to sample!


    Caroline’s raw and vegan cuisine surprised me.  I hadn’t yet ventured into the land of raw food, but these samples may have changed me.  The Chia seed crackers were so flavorful, especially when sampled with some delicious dips.  And the raw sweet potato chocolate mousse was incredible!  How surprising that it was all raw and vegan.


    And then I met this lovely lady, Christina Ward of Kick Out The Jams. I first tried the Carrot Cake jam on it [I must explain that in my house, we refer to jam as “jam on it” and our three year old often raps “jam on it, jam on it, j-j-j-j-jam on it” while requesting a PB&J sandwich] that two other women were sampling, and we all oohed and ahhed trying to guess what was in the recipe.


    Christina shared the simple list of ingredients and collectively, our minds were blown.  There must be a lot of love added.  And then I saw THIS!


    Booze infused jam?!  Since I haven’t had a brandy old-fashioned in a long time, I asked for a sample.  Mmmm.  And yes, you can taste the liquor.  It’s sweet and unusual.  I was advised on how to use the jam besides with toast, and there are plenty of ways to consume this bit of bliss.  Mix with oil and vinegar for a dressing, top some vanilla ice cream with it, put on top of cream cheese for your Wisconsin cheese and cracker platter…genius.


    It was a short trip, very manageable.  Easy access, just the right amount of vendors.  This definitely got me excited for the upcoming outdoor farmers’ market season!  My spread: Brandy Old Fashioned Jam, Smoked Salmon, Fresh Butter, Maple Syrup, and Eggs.



    For those of you who know me, “morning sickness” doesn’t really describe pregnancy for me.  “Hyperemesis Gravidarum” is more like it.  That said, I’ve been out of commission the past few weeks trying to regain feeling like a human, which is going pretty well.  I’m 3 months now, and hope to welcome baby Storm #4 into our house around Halloween!  And no I’m not having twins again…whew!

  • Intermission

    I’ll be back at the end of April!