Family & Food

I had the best weekend. I feel kind of weird saying that since Dave wasn’t with me, but I guess it’s good that we can have fun without each other, right? I know he had fun playing World of Tanks on his computer, building our fire pit, and ordering out food that I’m certain made him sick.

My weekend started Friday night when I left work, ran home and threw all my stuff in a bag, and made a two hour trip to Northeastern Wisconsin to see my family. As soon as I got to my parent’s house, I gave them each a big hug, and then Mom and I hopped in the car to head into town to see my uncle and aunt perform karaoke at the Oneida Casino.

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My cousin Amanda came back to Wisconsin for a two week break in between her travelS from Hawaii to Alaska. Lucky bum. Since I had to fly all the way to Alaska to see her last time, I figured this was a lot cheaper than flying to Hawaii next winter (although I would like to….) There was a great mixture of family and friends at the Oneida Casino, and my mom kept me up until 4:00 in the morning! We had no intention of staying out that late, but that’s the way it worked.

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At least I got to spend extra time with my family. It was especially nice when I came home and Dad had the spare bed all ready for me, then Mom built me a fire.

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This is the best kind of TV before bed.

The next day, Mom, Dad, and I drove to Manitowoc to look at mom’s new shop. Then we headed back to Green Bay for brunch at the Mustard Seed. There are so many good things on the menu that I never know what to order. I knew I really wanted some of Ken’s vegetarian chili, and I scored when I found out he added a new item on the menu: Chili Frittata.

062The three of us all ordered it, and it was delicious. Perfect for a cold and rainy day. I am very picky about eggs for some reason (I don’t like when the yolk and white are mixed together), so I don’t normally order or make omelets or quiche, but if it’s covered in enough other stuff, it’s fine by me. This frittata was topped with chili, cheddar cheese, scallions and sour cream.

Later, my friend Shelby met up with Mom and I to go see Divergent. Shelby had actually recommended the book to me way back when, before we were even good friends, so it was pretty cool that we got to see the movie together. Mom hadn’t read the book, but she didn’t have trouble following the plot and seemed to enjoy it just as much as we did.

Two of the same actors from this movie are going to be in the upcoming movie, The Fault in Our Stars, which I’m also really excited to see. Remember when I raved about the book? I’m glad I got over my fear of going to movies alone, just in case I’m flying solo for this one.

I had made reservations Saturday night for S.A.L.T. in De Pere to use a gift certificate I got on my last birthday. The whole experience there was just wonderful.

063The food was as good as ever, the staff was awesome, and the company was even better. Plus, I never get tired of the atmosphere. I took Shelby as my date and we doubled with my parents.

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Mom and I shared a bottle of Malbec, which Mom taste-tested first with a swirl of her glass and a sip before she approved it. She’s so cool.

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Mom and Dad let me take the reins on ordering again, so I ordered all at once and asked the waitress to pace our courses for us.

We started with Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese and Curry Hummus.

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Cheese = always good. Curry Hummus = awesome. Of course, with two of my favorite things mixed together, it was bound to be good.

072Next up, we had Mac & Cheese: Cavatappi pasta in a mac and cheese sauce. After my experience in Alaska, I learned it’s always good to order mac and cheese in nice restaurants. They know what they’re doing.

073We also ordered an Andouille sausage, served with creole mustard and “holy trinity” relish. It was a nice variation on “fancy food” with the perfect spicy kick.

074Truffle fries with aged parmesan and a poached egg. I don’t care if fawning over truffle oil is getting old, I LOVE IT. The fries were delicious and perfect with the creamy yolk broken over. And they’ve made me decide that I need to buy more truffle oil, damn the cost.

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Who needs crab cakes anymore? (Well, I do). These smoked walleye cakes with caper aioli were wonderful. I’d take seafood over red meat any day.

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Last up was the Mushroom Risotto. When our server first brought out this tiny plate, I was a little worried, but it turned out she had actually portioned this one all out for us. Ha ha! Not to toot my own horn, but I actually think my risotto is a little better. Shelby’s never had my risotto, so she asked me to prove it. You’re on, Shelby.

For the first time ever, I had room in my stomach for the S.A.L.T. sundae: salted caramel gelato with candied bacon and a whiskey sauce. Shelby and I shared this bowl, and Mom and Dad shared one as well.

077The sauce was a bit potent for me, but otherwise, the dessert was perfect. The waitress also brought out some complimentary White Russian shooters.

For anyone who lives or plans to travel to De Pere, Wisconsin, I highly recommend S.A.L.T.

We headed home right after our two hour dinner experience and promptly went to bed. Sunday morning, we started our day with a fried egg sandwich.

078Adorned with spinach, sharp cheddar, red pepper flakes, and Frank’s Buffalo Sauce.

Afterwards, Mom and I got to work making scones for Amanda’s homecoming brunch.

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082My mom’s side of the family was all there, and my aunt Colleen and cousin Amanda put on a lovely spread of food with sangria to drink.

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094Plus, I got to see my little Moonbeam!

Amanda also surprised my grandma with a birthday cake. She’ll be 90 next month!

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I had to force myself to leave just before 5:00pm. Fortunately, I had Dave and my kitties to look forward to, otherwise I may not have left.

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Weekend at ‘Beebs

Happy Humpday!

Sorry I’ve been such a bad blogger lately. I have been training a new employee the last two weeks which has made for very long days. It’s also hard to shake out of my winter routine of ‘work-make dinner-watch tv-read-go to bed’ when winter just won’t end.

We had a nice break from the ordinary last weekend when our friend Shelby came to visit on Saturday. She arrived shortly after I came home from a co-workers baby shower, so my patience didn’t have to be tested at all waiting for one of my best friends.

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Cake for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do!

We didn’t have anything specific planned for the weekend, but it was nice just catching up with Shelby. We decided to go out to Habibi’s for dinner at my suggestion. Their food isn’t awesome, but the atmosphere is lovely, and I always have a good time there.

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Residents of Stevens Point call it “Gyro Kabobs,” I call it “Habibi’s” because it’s fun to say, and Shelby asked if she could start calling it “Beeb’s.” A place of many names.

We scored our favorite floor seating and ordered some appetizers and sides for dinner.

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Sampler plate with extra dolmas.

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Cups of Gyro Barley soup.

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And a side Greek salad. It was a pretty generous side salad, so I shared with Dave.

We headed back to our place after dinner, where I was pretty much dropping from exhaustion for no apparent reason, so I headed to bed just after ten.

Stevens Point has a lot of cool places, but the city tends to shut down on Sundays. After discovering that none of the antique shops we wanted to check out were open, we decided to head to Graffiti’s for Bloody Mary’s (in keeping with our ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ tradition).

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Graffiti’s has a build-you-own Bloody Mary bar where you basically get a glass with ice and vodka and you make your own Bloody to your tastes. As for me, I don’t turn my nose up at anything pickled.

Brunch was a little crock of French Onion soup for all.

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After Shelby went home, Dave and I lounged around the rest of the day, which looked a lot like this:

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Three Days

That’s how long all weekends should be, don’t you think? Sure, a fourth day would have been nice, but the three I had off were quite lovely.

Saturday was concert day, so after running a few errands and doing dishes, we packed our bags and headed to Madison. Naturally, Dave drove; for one, because he hates being a passenger and for another, because I hate city driving with a fiery passion. I was surprised that the drive to Madison wasn’t that bad at all, even right in the city. Must be because the hipsters love walking. Good for them!

Dave found this gem of a hotel called Hotel Ruby Marie, and I fell in love with it as soon as we walked in the door.

018 I requested a room with a king size bed and a fireplace, and it was just lovely from the comfy armchairs to the pull-chain toilet and jacuzzi jet tub.

021After the snowy drive, it was nice settling down in our comfy room in front of the fireplace.

020We will definitely come back here if we’re ever in Madison again.

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Happy hour started in our room as our friends arrived and then we headed down to the hotel’s attached bar to redeem our free drink voucher that was given to us upon our arrival. After a drink, we headed past our hotel to their attached German restaurant, Essen Haus.

068 Obviously, we had to order a few boots of beer for the table.

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I wasn’t terribly hungry but I hadn’t eaten much that day and knew I needed something besides beer in my system. I ordered the Veggie Reuben with the Deutsch Salad.

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The Deutsch salad consisted of marinated kidney beans, carrots, beets, and coleslaw. I only picked at the salad, since the marinated vegetables were a bit sweet for my taste.

I had no trouble polishing off my delicious reuben, though.

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Mmmm, sauerkraut.

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At our friend JD’s suggestion, we hopped a bus to take to the Barrymore Theatre where Cloud Cult was playing. I think we startled the normal bus patrons as our group stormed the public transportation. There weren’t enough seats, so many of us grabbed on to the handle bars. and as I struggled to keep myself upright as we lurched and turned, I couldn’t help but think of The Knight Bus: “Take it away, Ernie!”

Cloud Cult had no opening band, they simply played themselves for two sets: one acoustic and one electric. As they played, two of the band members drew pictures that would be auctioned off at the end of the show. It was wonderful being so close to the stage–the lead singer, Craig, was so cute! There is no other way to describe his dimpled face.

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On our way out, our friend Nicole tried to get us a cab while Shelby and I got our picture taken with a polar bear advertising for…something.

061The Madison cab was apparently going to take at least a half hour to pick us up. A half hour? In Madison? Shouldn’t they have a bevy of taxis?

So we started to walk. Two miles. In the freezing cold. I stayed positive, but I don’t think anybody else wanted to try that hard.The night ended much later than I wanted it to, and Dave and I got fewer than six hours of sleep in our comfy, king-sized bed before I woke up and took myself to the jacuzzi-jet bath with my book.

After checkout, we walked to the hotel’s breakfast place, Come Back In, to redeem our breakfast vouchers.

069 I was expecting the menu to be simple: eggs, toast, and hashbrowns, but they had a wide array of delicious-sounding breakfast items. I ordered the Veggie Benedict, which was chock-full of veggies seasoned with curry and served with breakfast potatoes.

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It was so good, I wished I was hungrier.  Dave and I split so he could go home with Dan & Em, and I could drive to Green Bay to see my family for an Oscar party.

It’s always so funny when I don’t see my family for awhile, because when we’re all together, we just talk over each other and it’s really chaotic. Adding a toddler to the bunch didn’t help with the volume–that girl has got lungs on her!

We headed to the store to get groceries for our Oscar night. On the menu: Champagne (of course), White Chicken Chili, Brie en Croute, Buffalo Chicken Dip, Tuna Topped Wonton Crisps, Veggies & Dip, and Cheese & Crackers.

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These Tuna-Topped Wonton Crisps that Mom made were a recipe from Hungry Girl made a really tasty appetizer.

  • 12 square wonton wrappers
  • 2 pouches Starkist Tuna Creations Sweet & Spicy
  • 1 cup bagged broccoli cole slaw, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp lowfat sesame ginger dressing (Newman’s is great)
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray, and lay the wrappers on the baking sheets. Bake until edges have browned, about five minutes.

Remove from sheet and let cool.

Meanwhile, flake tuna with a fork in a medium bowl. Add chopped broccoli slaw and dressing and mix well.

Top wonton crisps with tuna mixture and sprinkle scallions on top.

Recipe can be found here.

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As usual, we printed off our Oscar sheets, made our votes, sat back and waited for the stars to dazzle us while munching on delicious food and enjoying champagne.

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075The highlights of the event included the hostess Ellen (love her!) ordering pizza and passing it out amongst the crowd (the delivery guy got a huge tip that night), Jared Leto looking like a Hot Jesus with his long unkempt hair, Benedict Cumberbatch being Benedict Cumberbatch, and Aurelia singing and dancing along to the songs.

Well, when she wasn’t sitting in a box.

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It was so fun watching it with my family, which included my mom, my sisters Emily and Moriah, my aunt Dina, my grandma, my uncle Howie, and Aurelia. Needless to say, it was a little loud. I insisted Dina get a hearing aid after she said, “Who won?!” for the hundredth time.

I lost spectacularly, guessing only 9 of the 24 categories correctly. Moriah won with 19, the little cheater. The injustice of it all! At least I guessed Best Picture (12 Years a Slave) and Best Actor (Matthew McConaughey) correctly.

After putting ourselves to bed, the next day we woke up with coffee and pretty much rewatched the Oscars as it was being rehashed on the morning TV shows.

The gang of us (minus Emily who had to work) went to Nicolet for brunch. It’s in a new building now in De Pere, but before that, nearly all of us had worked there before. Oh, how I miss the days of food service….

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I had to order an old favorite: A seaburger with all the fixings and french fries.

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The food is definitely not as good as the old Nicolet, but at least the taste of nostalgia is still sweet.

I said my goodbyes to my family soon after lunch and started the drive home to Stevens Point after my three day weekend, eager to see Dave, Athena, and Artemis again. There’s always something to look forward to, isn’t there?

O Tannenbaum

One of my favorite post-Thanksgiving traditions is decorating the tree with Davy. I have so many wonderful family members and friends that the holiday season has always been very special to me, and it was made even more so five years ago when Dave and I decorated our first apartment together, lay down on the couch with our cat Athena, and Dave presented me with a beautiful ring and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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What’s even more fun is that the last few years, we were able to get a real tree: sticky sap, pine needle carpet, heavenly smell and all. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is how we pick out our tree: Dave points out Griswold-sized monstrosities, I point to Charlie Brown trees, and we eventually decide on one that just grazes the ceiling. We’ve got a system, and it works just fine. Dave just needs a little reigning in sometimes.

Our tradition became even more fun this year when we went as a foursome with our friends Dan and Emily, who just bought a house and were ready for their first real tree. Dave and I cleaned up the house a bit and moved the recliner to make room. Breakfast was decided for me by the refrigerator when I opened the fridge and a carton of eggs jumped onto the floor, leaving two cracked.

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Thus, fried eggs on spinach, topped with a little mustard.

After running a few errands, we met Em and Dan at their house and headed to a cut-your-own-tree place I found via Google: Pheasant Pines.

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After the twenty-minute drive, we were greeted by a flock of guinea hens clucking and chattering away. The owners were very friendly and directed us to the trails that led through their 80 acre lot, used for both a Christmas tree farm and a pheasant hunting preserve.

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It was a beautiful day for a walk and, though we saw a lot of nice trees right at the beginning, we were enjoying the fresh air too much to stop so soon.

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Em found her prize tree right away: a beautiful Blue Spruce that we took a photo of to mark for later.

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After I talked Dave down from a few 20 foot trees, we finally found the perfect Leahy-Dowe tree.

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Dave carried it all the way back to where Em and Dan’s tree sat waiting.

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First tree together!

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Twenty points if you can spot Emily’s face.

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Em cut the tree down herself, and then Dan sawed off a perfect coaster-sized end for the coffee thermos.

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Beautiful!

We carried our trees back to the lodge, and the owners tied up our trees while we munched on some popcorn and picked out a couple wreaths.

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The family had a wonderful dog named Ocho who I had to stop myself from bringing home. I think Aurelia gets her affection for puppies from her aunts and uncle.

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The four of us have so much fun together. I hope we can keep this tradition for a long time.

We each went to our respective houses to set up the trees, and then Dan and Em came over to help decorate.

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It’s a beaut, Clark!

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And I love my pretty wreath.

After the tree, wreath, and Christmas village were up, we sat down for a long winter’s viewing of Love Actually. Such a good movie.

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We planned to order dinner, but I ate so many snacks during the movie that we just sort of skipped over that part.

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Getting a tree must have been more exhausting than I thought, because I ended up falling asleep on the couch and having to go to bed earlier than anticipated. I guess I needed my rest for Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Some people love Sundays, but I just can’t bring myself to that level of affection. In the back of my mind, I always knew I had school or work the next day, leaving a sour taste in my mouth.

Fortunately, my friends and I have come up with a remedy to stomach any Sunday with a smile: Sunday Bloody Sunday.

The concept is simple. Get together with friends.

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Drink tea.

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Then, when it’s appropriate, switch over to Bloody Mary’s.

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My friend Dan always makes the mix, which is always spicy and delicious.

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The best part are all the garnishes: pickled green beans, cocktail onions, pickles, pickled mushrooms, pickled brussels sprouts, and cheese.

Whilst drinking Bloody Mary’s, we watch Emily watch the Packer game, knit, play cards, play board games, cook, and/or read magazines.

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Oh, and we eat.

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Another recipe from Smitten Kitchen: Cinnamon Orange Breakfast Buns. Holy yum, Batman.

That was breakfast. This was lunch, courtesy of Dave.

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Crunchy bannas with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and caramel sauce.

Sunday isn’t such a bad thing, after all.

Holiday on the Lakeshore

My mom, my sister Emily, and I have a tradition the weekend of Holiday on the Lakeshore of working at the show from 3-8pm on Friday, then heading back to my parent’s house to have a fire, drink wine, and watch our first holiday movie of the year: The Family Stone.

I worked this Friday, so I made the two hour trek to my parent’s house afterwards. I am turning into an old-lady driver and do not like driving on highways in the dark–it’s scary! I ran over part of a dead deer and just about had a heart attack when a leaf scuttled in front of me, and I thought it was some poor critter. *shudder*

I arrived at my parent’s house before Mom and Em made it back, and when I opened the door, I still half-expected our (now passed away) dog Sage to run and greet me at the door, tail-wagging and all excited.

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There’s a strong possibility that I am overly sentimental about….well, everything.

I set to work building a fire while I waited for them to arrive, and I sat in front, cross-legged on the floor, reading Anne of Avonlea on my kindle.

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When they got back, Em made us a lovely snack plate for dinner with smoked salmon, cheese, bread, and grapes.

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With a glass of Cranbernet wine on the side, it was a lovely dinner.

I was so excited to see them that we talked through most of the movie, but that’s okay–I have plenty of time to rewatch it this holiday season. I pulled out the couch, and this was my last view before going to sleep.

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Sleeping in front of a fire is one of my favorite things to do.

The next morning I woke up and shouted “Someone come build me a fire!” but instead Mom made me a fried egg and toasted bread with butter.

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Then we gussied ourselves up and headed to the show.

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Here we are in front of our booth!

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PicMonkey Collage

 

Holiday on the Lakeshore is a two-day gift show with a bunch of local vendors selling homemade pottery, scarfs, jewelry, artwork, food, and, of course TEA!

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We had brewed Chocolate Mint tea to sample, as well as my Maple Walnut Tea Cookies, and Smokey Tea Dip made with Lapsang Souchong. Our samples always go over well. A sure fire way to get people to your booth is to lure them with food. We completely sold out of Maple Walnut Tea, and we sold many bags of Lapsang Souchong.

The local choir came in to sing a few carols during the day, which were lovely.

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Best of all, my friend Shelby came from Green Bay to help us.

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With my mom, Emily, and Shelby there, it was such a fun day. Working at a show can always be a little hectic, but with four people to write receipts, wrap, and explain the varieties of tea, it went quite smoothly.

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Em went to Applebee’s to get us lunch: a honey chicken shrimp dish with green beans and roasted potatoes.

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It was quite tasty, but unfortunately they forgot to give us forks. We tracked down some spoons from the coffee shop, and had fun trying to balance green beans and cut chicken with them.

I was having such a good time that I was a little sad to leave, but I know I will see Mom, Em, and Shelby again at Thanksgiving, so I’ll barely have time to miss them.

Plus Dave promised me a special dinner when I came home, and he certainly delivered: his famous deep dish pizza and two vegetarian pizzas.

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We brought them over to our friend Dan and Em’s (not to be confused with my sister Em) house, where they were hosting a small Dr. Who party.

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Dave and I haven’t started watching Dr. Who yet (horrible, I know), so we stuck to the kitchen until their show was over.

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So much has happened already this weekend that I feel like I have two Sundays. Can’t wait to start my second one!

Pizza Bagel Stratta

It’s a shame we’re out of grocery money, because I’ve got a mile-high list of recipes to make from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

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That’s not very strange.

What is strange is that I want to host breakfast parties instead of dinner parties.

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I hated “breakfast for lunch” in grade school. Flimsy french toast sticks served with sickly sweet maple-flavored syrup, powdered eggs whipped into a fluffy, pale yellow mess, and greasy sausage patties. Ugh. Even now, I’m not a huge breakfast person.

But ‘Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema,’ ‘Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions,’ ‘Peach Sour Cream Pancakes,’ and ‘New York Breakfast Casserole?’ I’ll be your brunch date anytime.

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We had one uncommon ingredient in the house last night: bagels, and that’s all I needed to adapt Deb’s ‘New York Breakfast Casserole’ into a Pizza Bagel Stratta. A little breakfast, a little dinner, a lotta pizza.

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(I wouldn’t normally post recipes from a cookbook, but this recipe is online, and I adapted it enough that Deb probably won’t hate me. But please buy the cookbook, because it’s amazing).

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Pizza Bagel Stratta

  • 1 1/2 lbs of bagels, cut into cubes
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cut into small bits
  • 6 oz shredded cheese (I used a mix of mozzarella, Parmesan, and feta)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 1 can of black olives, chopped (minus the ten you eat while chopping, like I do)
  • 4 slices of cooked, diced bacon (optional)
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups of millk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together tomatoes, onion, green peppers, black olives, bacon, and spices.

In another large bowl, whisk eggs with milk.

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Spread one-third of the bagel cubes in the pan and dot with one-third of the cream cheese. Top with one-third of the vegetable mixture and sprinkle with one-third of the shredded cheese. Repeat layers, saving the remaining cheese.

Pour eggs over bagel mixture, shaking the pan to even out.

Bake for one hour, sprinkle remaining cheese on top of stratta, and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown and set. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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Visit From the Illinois Fam

After I finished work on Friday, I was very eager to start the weekend. Dave’s way of starting the weekend was to take a very long nap after his 12 (?) hour work shift, so I headed to O’so Tap House with Dan and Emily.

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Central Wisconsin is a king of microbrews, and O’so is no exception. I particularly love their Night Train beer.

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We sipped our beers while playing a few card games: War and Slap Jack.

008Friday night ended relatively quietly, because Dave and I were preparing for his family’s visit the following day.

Since we cleaned the house, I thought I’d give you a mini tour of our new home.

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The living room.

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The bedroom.

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And the most important room in the house.

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This was a bare wall when we moved in. Dave installed the counter top, shelves, and a rod to hang our pots and pans from. I helped attach the legs, but that was pretty much it. I love the new work space he created. I can’t wait to cook a feast in it!

After cleaning, we ran a few errands and decided to check out an Asian market that we both pass frequently.

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Dave bought the ingredients to make our own miso soup base, and we also left with some dried seaweed (it’s a great snack!), spinach noodles, soy sauce, and coconut juice.

Some other interesting finds included gelatinous mutant coconut.

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Beef blood and bile (note the edible).

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And a whole chicken: feet, head, eyeballs, and all.
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We didn’t expect Dave’s parents and sister until 7:00pm, so it was a long day waiting for them, as we were both excited to finally see them again.

We hoped to take them to Father Fats for dinner, but when we found out it was a 40 minute wait, the five of us walked a few blocks over to Habibi’s.

Beers all around! (Lemonade for Ali).

019I had a Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter which is one of my favorite CW beers. Very rich, dark, and smooth.
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I started with the gyro chili, which was good but had a little too much meat for my taste. I’m one of the weirdos who prefers vegetarian chili to chili with meat (aka real chili).

The five of us also shared an appetizer plate with hummus, falafel, samosas, dolmas, pitas, kalamata olives, and garnish.

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We ordered extra dolmas, because they’re so good. I’m going to add them to the list of things I want to make at home, right under sushi and lettuce wraps.

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For dinner I ordered the Vegetable Kabobs, which was a mix of veggies and pineapple cooked in a curry-type sauce and served with dill basmati rice and pitas. It was also good, but not great. No one can hold a candle to Taste of India’s curry.

We went back to the house to hang out for a bit and had some dessert, courtesy of Barry: apple brownies. They were moist, cinnamony, and chock-full of apples, basically fall in dessert form.

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We hung out in the kitchen (I’m so glad that we have a kitchen table to use now!) and played a game Ali brought called Castle Panic.

Instead of playing against one another, everyone bands together to play against the monsters in the game. We won, and I was named Slayer Master! It was really fun, and I decided that we need to add it to our collection. We also played a round of Wits & Wagers before they headed back to their hotel for the night. Unfortunately, our guest bedroom is pretty much just a cat room and storage room for now. Someday…

Eight hours of shut-eye, and we were up and at ’em again. I headed to the grocery store to pick up eggs while Dave made biscuits.

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His dad, the biscuit master, said they were perfect. I agreed.

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In addition to eggs, I also fried up some breakfast potatoes.

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Sunday mornings and breakfast potatoes go together quite well.

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And bacon just goes with any day. I’ve been baking my bacon a lot lately. It’s much easier and mess-free if you line the pan with aluminum foil. I usually just put it in a cold oven, turn it to 400 degrees and check it between 15 and 20 minutes. I like really crispy bacon, so sometimes I even bake it a bit longer.

We meandered to the antique store after breakfast, where Ali hit the jackpot. She and her wife Jaimee moved into a house, and they are going through the wonderful (and I’m sure somewhat stressful) process of decorating it.

I found a wooden corner shelf for our bedroom (since I don’t have an end table), and a cool Beatles book that I had to buy for my friend Emily.

Every time we see Dave’s family, it’s never long enough. They left in the early afternoon to make the three and a half hour drive back to Illinois, and Dave and I headed over to hang out with our friends Em and Dan for a bit.

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Hi Em! Hi Miss Marple!

While there, I finally read my Food Network Thanksgiving Issue, and we discussed the menu for our Housewarming/Friendsmas/Dan & Em’s Birthday Party. Dave and I changed our minds a few times about the dinner: we initially were going to have a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, then I suggested the idea of us just doing appetizers, then we went back to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner cooked just by us, and we finally landed on Thanksgiving-inspired appetizers. Phew!

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Here’s the tentative list:

~Brie en Croute with Cranberry Chutney, Shredded Turkey, and Walnuts

~Samosas with Dressing and Brussels Sprouts

~Shredded Turkey Egg Rolls with Gravy Dipping Sauce

~Savory Monkey Bread (which we found in the Food Network Magazine and looks amazing)

~Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Hummus with Crudites

~Sandwich Station

We also decided on three beverages: Wassail, Rumplecider, and Black Tea Punch

I can’t wait to get cooking! But first things first: the real Thanksgiving in 2 1/2 weeks. I’m excited.

Weekend with Mum

We had another visitor last weekend: my mom! As soon as she saw our yard for the first time a few weeks ago, I could see the wheels turning in her head. As a horticulturist, she can help even the blackest thumb turn green so she devoted her Saturday to winterizing our yard.

Almost as soon as she arrived late that morning, she and I headed outside while Dave headed to the laundromat.

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Mom and I raked, pruned, lopped, and mowed.

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Fortunately, she brought all her tools with her, as Dave and I don’t have any yet. Except this baby…

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My friend JD donated his push mower to us, and it is so much fun. Way more exciting than an electric mower.

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I forgot to take a before picture, but here’s the after picture of the front of our little house all ready for winter. (Don’t ask me why there are two front doors, because I don’t know).

A little past noon, we took a midday break.

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Mom brought some of her delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. I immediately picked up on the addition of sesame oil, which added the perfect zing. I love sesame oil.

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I served the soup with slices of wheat bread from the last farmer’s market.

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We also had a few cups of one of Mom’s newest teas: Maple Walnut. I am such a sucker for seasonal beverages. She also brought Pumpkin Cream and Orange Cookie for me to taste-test as well as one of my all time favorites: Warm Hearth.

After lunch, we headed out again to tackle the back yard.

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Mom decided this tree was too close to the house and had to come down.

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Attack!

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I planned to mow the back yard, but just after the tree fell over with a hefty “Timber!” it started sleeting. We waited a few minutes, but it didn’t seem like it was going to let up, so we made plans to go thrifting instead.

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As usual, we had fun trying on all the cool hats.

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Dave managed to find the most expensive hat in the store: a $550 dollar major’s hat.

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Comparatively, the vintage Italian sunglasses were a steal at $8.50, so I had to have them. We also left with a lovely tea and saucer set for Mom, a cast iron pan for Dave to fix, and some curtains.

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We did not leave with what I originally thought was a torture device and turned out to be a corset.

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Or this hideous piece of artwork. Really? I guess it takes all kinds to make a world…

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But I really did like the giant Hulk hands. Go figure.

We needed a pick-me-up after thrifting, so we headed to Emy J’s for some coffee and a scone.

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Dave and Mom each enjoyed an Orange Mocha Latte.

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I went for the Honey Almond Latte.

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Dave made me take the photo this way so you could see the heart. It loves me!

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Mom and I also split a tasty triple berry scone. Not nearly as good as her homemade scones, but still delicious.

After a brief interlude at home, we met our friends Emily and Dan for a birthday celebration dinner for Mumsy at Father Fat’s.

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Father Fat’s is a tapas restaurant so it is the perfect place for a group of foodies interested in communal dining.

They have a beautiful outdoor seating area which we took advantage of last summer, but this time we were part of the indoor scene.

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The decor is not exactly my cup of tea, but definitely fun. They still had their Halloween decorations up, which were eclectic but classy. I loved the umbrella for the witch’s skirt–very creative!

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I started my meal with a dirty Tanqueray martini, which was perfect.

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Hopefully I can remember all the small plates we shared. Here goes nothing…

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I believe this was Roasted Pork Crepes. Dave didn’t think the cheese sauce was necessary for how fabulous the crepes were, but I thought it was a divine accompaniment. I never say no to cheese.

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These Lobster Fritters with homemade ranch were off. the. hook. Soooo good.

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They even trumped my order of Maryland Blue Crab Cakes with grilled pineapple salsa and sriracha.

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Mom paid me the a compliment of the highest regard when she said my hummus was even better than their creamy Roasted Garlic and Truffle Hummus. I’ll take it!

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I love raw oysters, but these roasted Horseradish and Citrus Crusted Oysters were wonderful.

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Emily has a knack for picking out wonderful comfort food like this Homemade Meatballs and Wild Mushroom Pasta which boasted homemade mozzarella.

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The Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps were spicy and fun to eat. They reminded me that I want to make my own lettuce wraps at home. I bet they’re much easier than spring rolls.

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And….I have absolutely no idea what this is. It looks desserty, but I don’t remember ordering dessert. I’m going to go ahead and say it was amazing, though. (Edited to add: It was chicken and waffles!)

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My second drink was a Black Satin, a local dark beer (Night Train) mixed with champagne, which sounded strange but tasted amazing.

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We finished our meal with a pot of French press coffee.

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I think Mum enjoyed her birthday dinner. I know I did!

The next day, Sunday, was mom’s real birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARMIE! We had a lovely lazy morning. I popped in one of her favorite movies, Somewhere in Time, before making her breakfast.

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I was saving these purple Peruvian potatoes for a special occasion, and this certainly fit it.

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I also baked some local uncured bacon, fried an egg (there was only one left) and toasted more of the homemade wheat bread from the farmer’s market.

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I topped my wheat bread with cream cheese and low sugar strawberry jam.

Mom and I lounged in the living room for a bit longer while Dave made homemade bread in the kitchen.

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So pretty!

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Either I’m boring or Mom really was having a relaxing day, because she fell asleep for a little bit. After she awoke, we walked to Dan and Emily’s house while Dave finished baking his bread.

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It was a beautiful fall day. It was so nice to see the sun after the grey, gloomy days we’ve been experiencing lately.

We spent a little while chatting before Dave brought over his masterpiece.

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Braided rosemary and cracked pepper bread. Fortunately, Mom got to taste a piece before she made the drive back home. I was sad to see her go–visitors always leave us on Sundays, so it is a bittersweet day for me.

Emily distracted me by teaching me how to knit, something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile.

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Look, I made a scarf for a sprite!

Hopefully I will remember what she taught me so I can keep practicing. I used to loom all the time making scarves, but I have so many scarves now that I need a new project.

A few more friends came over, and we all played Scrabble together. Can you believe this was actually my first time playing Scrabble?! (Maybe second). I play Words With Friends, but we never actually had the board game.

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We kept ripping off pieces of Dave’s bread while Dan’s homemade Chicken Noodle Soup simmered on the stove.

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Dan used a mixture of homemade chicken stock and cream, which was an amazing base.

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It was the perfect comfort food for a Sunday night and the perfect cap to a great weekend.

Third Time’s a Charm

Last weekend was our third consecutive weekend visiting Stevens Point. People are already starting to think we live there, as indicated by a text I received from one of my friends Saturday night: “If you visit Green Bay again some day, we should hang out!”

Dave had to work late on Friday night, so I opted to pack him a bag and drive there myself rather than wait seven hours for him to get home. We didn’t get our carbon credit for carpooling, but we shaved two hours off our estimated arrival time at Em & Dan’s house, which was a-o-k by me.

I arrived first to Emily playing the piano. It’s always nice to be greeted by music.

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And hedgehogs.

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Hello, Miss Marple!

I’d only been at the house for one martini by the time Dave arrived.

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The fantastic four, together again. We make a great team.

Something very comforting about Em & Dan’s house is that no matter where they move, this is always on their fridge.

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A thank you card from our wedding with a post-it attached reading: I know them and they don’t suck. 😀

After a low-key night at home, we put Dave to work making biscuits the next morning.

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Dave’s dad Barry makes the best biscuits ever, but Dave is getting pretty damn close. These were buttery, flaky, and delicious.

Dan fried up some eggs and sliced a tomato from the garden while the biscuits were baking.

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Awesome breakfast.

After biscuits, we walked to the Farmer’s Market to recreate last weekend’s spread of food–this time for the Riverfront Jazz Festival.

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It was a very pet-centered market.

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Hello, Muffy!

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And Alex…in a stroller. Newsflash: cats don’t like being in strollers. Outside. Surrounded by lots of people. I know, because I have two of them, and they would gouge out my eyes if I ever tried to pull that.

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When we got back to the house, we chopped up veggies for more quick pickled vegetables. Half red wine vinegar, half rice wine vinegar, garlic salt, smoked paprika, and pepper.

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We went to the store for a few imbibables, then waited for the rest of our friends to arrive before heading out to the river front.

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The music was good, but the company was better.

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As was our delicious spread of food.

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This is how we do things in Wisconsin.

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If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

After five hours of jazz music, we headed back to the house for more music and fun.

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Sunday morning, we walked to Emy J’s, the best coffee place in town, for breakfast.

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I’ve had the chai here several times and it’s wonderful, but I decided to branch out this time and ordered an iced matcha topped with ginger.

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I ordered mine brewed with water and lightly sweetened, and it was incredibly refreshing.

It was nearing 11:00am by the time we arrived, so I decided it was close enough for lunch. I ordered the Beany Bean wrap, made with hummus, guacamole, seasoned black beans, kalamata olives, cucumbers, pico de gallo, provolone, and greens. I requested apple wedges on the side, since I’m not a big fan of chips. My brother graciously paid for my meal—thanks, Ty!

Like Kavarna in Green Bay, Emy J’s handed out different objects to mark orders.

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Ty and I got a dinosaur puppet.

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He was all about the matcha.

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Another lazy Sunday.

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Ty and I made the drive back to my parent’s to drop off an antique bench that Dan & Em asked my dad to fix. We got caught in a torrential downpour halfway through our drive, but at least now I know Serenity can handle the rain! Aurelia is a big fan, too.

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On the drive from my parent’s to my apartment, I was really craving Chinese food for dinner.

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Dave and I are foodie soulmates. He had already ordered Chinese food and it had been delivered just before I got there.

Another great weekend in Stevens Point.