30 August 2013

The Liebsterrrrrr

Here's what happened! Lisa over at Making Life's Lemons, one of my more-frequented blogs (we're Wisco gals, you see) nominated me for a Liebster Award. It's like this:

"The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster?  The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn't that sweet? Blogging is about building a community and it's a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs."

Essentially, it's a wonderful, fun way to get me (and hopefully you!) to check out up-and-coming blogs.   Following Miss Lisa's example, my choices (at the bottom) are a reflection of followers on Bloglovin'. So what do I have to do? Well, it's like this:

// I tell you 11 things about me
// I answer questions that Lisa sent me
// Then I tag 11 bloggers and ask them 11 questions
// Do my darndest to spread the love...

So here goes!


(I'm on the left. Bossing the crap out of my sister Ali, by her expression! Ha.)

11 Things About Me

1 // I think I could watch the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South forever and ever to eternity, and never get tired of it.

2 // I have wanted to live in the UK since I studied abroad in London in 2006 -- and now that dream is going to be a reality.

3 // I have a sunglasses obsession.

4 // Thrift shopping is my day-off hobby of choice. The biggest thrills (and sometimes best fashion finds ever) come from unexpected finds at thrift stores.

5 // I love coffee. And tea. Almost in equal measure, but for different reasons and at different times of day. I love Colectivo (formerly Alterra) and Anodyne -- both Wisconsin roasters. But if I'm getting really snobby, I love a good Intelligentsia pour-over. Yummm. As for tea, PG Tips will do. ;)

6 // My favorite cocktail is an amaretto sour, although I also enjoy a good gin and tonic with lime.

7 // I like to knit, but I only ever do it in the winter when the desire for new scarves comes up. I don't have patience for much else!

8 // I have a black cat named Porter (after the darkest kind of beer). I'm going to miss him a lot. He wears a little red collar with a bell on it. I've sometimes wanted to affix a little tie to his collar so he could be like Business Cat.

9 // I like to bake occasionally, but mostly for the giving-away kind. I love to surprise people with cookies or pie.

10 // The one notable person in my ancestral line (discovered so far) was Sir Francis Drake, although apparently indirectly because he didn't have children of his own. He's no prince, but I'll take the pirate.

11 // Doughnuts are the best food-vention ever.

Questions from Lisaaaaaa

1 // If you could go back to any moment in time or time period, what would it be and why?

I think one reason I've wanted to be an art historian is because I fantasize about going back in time a lot. It's a super tough decision, but I think I would probably choose sometime in the Middle Ages in Europe. I'm drawn to the romanticism of castles and knights, etc. I'm sure it wasn't an easy time period to live in, but I'd love to see it!

2 // If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you pick?

Probably a Lana Del Rey song because her voice is low enough that I wouldn't have to try reaching notes I couldn't possibly reach! ;)

3 // If time and money were no matter what would you do?

Anything?? I'd drop everything and travel. I'd maybe invest in an apartment in someplace like Provence or Tuscany, one of those dream villa fixer-uppers, and the rest of the time I'd just travel wherever the heck I felt like it.

4 // What is your favorite piece of clothing?

Now is not a good time for this question. The answer is that I just went shopping a few bunch of times and now I have several items that I'm totally in love with right now and can't wait to wear more. I'd have to say, though, that my favorite thing of all time is one of my AllSaints tunics from last winter. It's the sort of thing that can be worn as a dress or a shirt depending on how I feel (or how warm it is).

5 // What would be your ideal vacation?

I think I may have already taken my ideal vaction -- a road trip around the UK in 2011 -- but apart from that, high priority on my travel bucket list is the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. I've been to Italy a couple of times, but this I have yet to see. And ideally, I would stay there for a month and just... be.

6 // Do you have any hidden talents? What are they?

I'm a pretty good baker when I feel like it! :D 

7 // Flats or heels?

A year ago I would have said flats, hands down, but now I think I'm more of a heels girl. Depends on the day and outfit, of course. But by heels I generally mean no higher than 3 inches and almost always boots or wedges. I'm not a stiletto gal... at least not yet.

8 // Where/when are you the happiest?

With my friends. My close friends. My bonded-for-life-buddies. They are a select handful, and I think they know who they are, but whenever I'm around them, I actually feel like I swell with gladness to be around them. I also feel that way about discovering new places, but this almost always goes hand in hand with being with people I love.

9 // If you had to change your name what would you change it to?

I used to try different variations of the spelling of my name to make it sound Irishy. Like Cait. But if I had to change it altogether... hm. Something old fashioned yet fun, like Francis or Florence, or Stella. I'm not sure I'm a Stella... 

10 // What's your favorite cookie?

A family favorite, the "practically perfect chocolate chip cookie". We've gotten it down to a science, and it really is practically perfect in every way.

11 // What item could you not live without?

I'm not sure there is anything, to be honest. It's easy to say, oh, my phone... or my computer. Then I think about photos that I have, letters I've gotten, keepsakes I've kept. I love them dearly and would be deeply saddened if they disappeared, but I'd surely survive. I don't think there is an item that I couldn't live without. But what I couldn't live without would be love. Plain and simple, in all its various forms, shapes and sizes... there's just no way.

11 Questions for 11 Lovely Bloggers

1 // What is your favorite rainy day pastime?

2 // You're only allowed to read one book ever again; what would that book be and why?

3 // What is the silliest anecdote from your travels that you can remember?

4 // Breakfast, lunch, or dinner -- and why?

5 // If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

6 // Do you have any hobbies? A favorite?

7 // Where/when are you the happiest? (I loved this question; had to forward it along.)

8 // Are you a pattern-wearer or a color-blocker, or both? And what's your current outfit of choice?

9 // What is your favorite big city?

10 // A biopic is being made of your life. Who stars in the role of you?

11 // Beer or wine? (And everything's fine.) Favorites?

I Do Declare: 11 Lovelies I Nominate

1. World in Words - Delia Monk's world travels and stunning photography
2. Club Narwhal - Amy's food, books, and travel blog... hellooo. ;)
3. Erstwhile felicity - Sonia's style, food, photography... <3
4. Lark and Lace - pretty photography and style.
5. Sara Loves Portland - obviously <3 Portland rules.
6. A Golden State of Mind - California lifestyle blog by the lovely Courtney
7. Helena La Petite - photographer based in London
8. Edinburgh Etiquette - lifestyle blog, Edinburgh style -- of course! ;)
9. Scotland in the Gloaming - photography of Scotland... at twilight.
10. Ireland in Ruins - exactly that, ruins in Ireland. Travel bug, anyone?
11. Traveling Cats - cats from around the world. I couldn't help myself!

Please do these great bloggers (and yourself) a favor and check out their wonderful blogs. I tried to include a little bit of everything -- my interests vary broadly, and so does the content of a lot of these blogs. They're all worth a gander -- and a follow! 

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 8

29 August 2013

27 hours in Chi-town


Oh, Chicago, city of cities... I just couldn't leave the States without one last jaunt down to one of my very favorite cities.

Chicago, for me, is a mix of nostalgia and newness. I grew up about four hours north, so although it wasn't super common to make the hike down there, it happened often enough that from a young age I had a pretty good grasp of the layout of the city, and the feel of different neighborhoods. Many of these trips were during my teen years when I helped my dad out with art fairs. A semi-regular one for a few years was the Old Town Art Fair (my favorite, because Old Town is great), and on a couple of occasions, the Gold Coast Art Fair, which has since moved to Grant Park, but was in the River North area then. Others were in the suburbs, like Evanston and Highland Park... over a span of a few years, with weekends to spend wandering around as I pleased, I got to know a big chunk of the city on my own terms, and I think it's that early exploring and familiarity that keeps me connected to it now.

My mom and sister Ali popped down for one night, primarily because I wanted to catch the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity exhibition at the Art Institute, but also to get in some good mom-and-sister time before the big departure. But, of course, we also wanted to get a little shopping in, and that we did -- along with some good eats and treats!

First stop:


(Photo via The Purple Pig on Facebook)

The Purple Pig has become a destination and a must every time I go to Chicago. Because it's so central to all of that shopping and strolling one does on Michigan Avenue, it's perfection at lunch time. And because it's a family-style place, serving what amounts to something like tapas, one can have as little or as much as one likes. We usually settle on two to three dishes, and between three people that's almost always enough. The brilliant thing about family-style or tapas is that you generally have more time to really savor what you're eating, and you don't need as much to be satisfied. What you end up getting is simply amazing from-scratch goodness.


First, we tried Salt-cured Greek Yogurt with Raspberry Jam and Pistachios (a smear, served with toasts, pictured above), then our all-time favorite Chicken Thigh Kebabs, Fried Smashed Potatoes and Tzatziki, and finally Fried Smashed Potatoes with Feta.

Super-yum. And just the right way to start off our visit!


After lunch, we promptly split up. My mother and (rather pregnant) sister went north to scope out some baby shops while I hiked down to the Art Institute to check out the Impressionism show. I had a couple of hours to kill, so I meandered around a bunch of other parts of the museum as well. I felt I had to get the most of the whopping $23 it costs for admittance these days. I remember when it was $6 and free on Tuesdays (for everybody). What happened to that?

Oh, the Modern Wing. That's right. ;)

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After the museum, I trekked back north to the Hyatt Magnificent Mile we had booked, and thoroughly enjoyed the hotel. It wasn't huge, and though our view was terrible (not much one can do about that), our room was suuuper comfy. Apparently it had just been renovated, and everything seemed awfully shiny and new. I'd definitely stay there again, in no small part because the location is great, there's a Starbucks on the first floor (yup, I said it), and there were a number of other good restaurants within a couple of blocks.

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We did a fair amount of shopping, filling up just about every spare hour with it. We stopped into the Magnificent Mile favorites like Zara, AllSaints, Topshop and H&M, and also headed over to Nordstrom Rack and Anthropologie.

In the morning, we woke up especially early just so that we could walk about ten blocks to a little hole in the wall (kind of literally, actually) called The Doughnut Vault.


Doughnut Vault is one of those make-a-special trip kind of places. It opens at the 8am, the doughnuts are there until they're not and then they close for the day. They have a small menu of everyday doughnuts, and every day they feature one or two specialty kinds, and $1 coffee. One has to be willing to put up with a line, which of course winds down the sidewalk because the Vault itself can only hold about five people in a single-file line at one time. It's a fun, gorgeous example of a creative business with excellent, second-to-none doughnuts. I just had to get one two before I left.

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On our way out of town, we stopped by a cutsie natural baby boutique called Bellybum, where I managed to find my first purchases as a to-be auntie! I realized that it doesn't take much to get me excited about an itty-bitty niece or nephew on the way: infant-sized socks and footie outfits just about do the trick! We had so much fun there -- they specialize in mommy and baby goods and gadgets, and they were immensely helpful with any questions we had. I think my mom and sister are already planning another trip. ;)


As for what's happening next... I worked my second-to-last day at the bookstore today, my last day being Saturday. Already I've had to start saying my goodbyes, but most people will be there on the weekend, so it will be nice to say farewell to everyone all at once.

I don't think it's really hit me that I'll only work one more day at the job that I've held for the last 4.5 years. That's a long time! Two times as long as any other job I'd held before that, not to mention in one place with the same people. I really found my footing there and I think it's taught me a lot of very valuable lessons about myself and the world at large, as well as forged a couple of priceless friendships.

Looking forward to the day off tomorrow to work on tidying the apartment, perhaps doing a little interior painting to make it look nice before I leave. It feels like there's a lot to do before I go, but I've got time, and really, when I think about it, I've got it pretty well together.

Big adventures ahead!

Cheers :)

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 9

26 August 2013

What the..?

I thought perhaps I could use this opportunity, less than two weeks before departure to Scotland, to touch again on the whole purpose of this blog, and where I see it heading in the next several months.

I started up Artsy Abroad back in May as a way to get myself prepared and into the mode of blogging before heading off to Scotland. Its primary focus was always going to be my travels and discoveries, experiences around the city, and bits and pieces of my life and what it's like to be a student of art history in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. And that's exactly what I still intend to do. Of course, since I haven't actually been in Scotland for the last few months, this blog is obviously going to seem a bit different. But in my mind, different = totally super rad! Yes, I said rad. ;)

Don't worry! The focus will be the same. I'm still using the same, dumb 8-year old digital camera and will update in much the same way and with--hopefully--the same frequency. I hope that the change of scenery and massive change in my life's focus will inspire even better blog posts, because part of the fun of this whole blogging process is learning more about it and getting better at it as I go along.

Needless to say, I'm going to be pretty busy when I arrive in Edinburgh, and especially when classes begin. But doubtless there are going to be many other things I'll want to check out, considering I've never been to Edinburgh before! I've begun thinking about what museums and galleries there are in Edinburgh, and have filled some empty time by checking out what exhibitions are going on. I thought I'd share a few that I hope to get to eventually!

Man Ray Portraits at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Decorative Art Collections at Lauriston Castle

And probably a few galleries from this list from The Guardian.


I'm so excited to check out all kinds of architecture, landmarks, neighborhoods, cafes and shops and so much more... and share them all with you. :) Thanks for following along!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 12

25 August 2013

Moving tunes

As the big move to Edinburgh draws near, I've been working hard packing and organizing, and I've needed some upbeat tunage to keep me going. These are songs I just can't tire of! Thrown in for good measure are some more downbeat or less-dancey songs to keep it interesting. I like a real good mixed-up mix. :)

I have Spotify and my iTunes library open at the same time, usually, so I go between playlists for a few rare things that Spotify does not have. You can check out my Spotify profile (which will open up the Spotify app) and keep up with my ever-changing lists. I thought it might kind of fun to start a weekly or bi-weekly playlist post to share what I've really been listening to. Since music is a big part of my day, I think it's worth sharing with you!



Days to Edinburgh move-in: 13

24 August 2013

Packers and a postgrad

I'm within two weeks until departure (13 days!) and firmly in the get-it-in-before-I-go phase. Hanging out with various people, stopping into particular restaurants, taking certain trips, and--going to a Packer game! Preseason, but still. It's Lambeau! It wasn't something I planned, but I haven't been to a game in a couple of years and the tickets were complements of my grandparents -- and club seats! Can't really turn that down. The only downside being that a can of beer costs almost $10. ;) At least it's damn good beer.


I was raised twenty minutes from Green Bay, so it's really no contest when it comes to where my football loyalty lies. Every season there's usually a game or two that I have the option of going to see, but it's been a while. So I'm happy to get a game in before I left, even if we lost big time. :(


Can't go wrong with that view... brand new stadium addition and all.

Anyway. It's not like me to go on about football, so... I won't. The Predator is about all you need to know. ;)


As for the next couple of weeks, and what comes next: wow. Are big changes afoot or what? It's finally starting to sink in that I'll be moving abroad for a year at the very least, with no clear idea of what comes after that. But this next year will undoubtedly reveal a lot about where I'm headed, and get me on that journey. I don't particularly have one place I aspire to end up, or one thing I must do... I view my career and schooling as a series of little islands I get to hop to -- kind of like life. Here and there, for this and that. Whatever makes me happy is about where the ball stops! ;)

I've started receiving notifications of meetings and welcome events to the Edinburgh College of Art (or ECA). The week before classes begin is known as "Freshers Week" in UK parlance, but in the States is what I've always known as "freshman orientation," ie. chock full of activities, picnics, outings and getting-to-know-you events. But in my case, and other postgrads (another US-UK difference: I'm a postgraduate student, not a graduate student) mostly an opportunity to meet up for various ECA events and to prepare as much as possible for the upcoming year.

My official program title is the MSc History of Art, Theory and Display. I've chosen a few classes that I'm interested in taking, so my schedule tentatively looks like this:

Semester One:
Research Theories and Methods
Scottish Medieval and Renaissance Architecture

Semester Two:
The Cultures and Politics of Display
Rome Across Time and Space: Visual Culture and Cultural Exchanges c. 300-1300

Summer term:
Plenty of dissertation-ing

Something that I had to consider when choosing this program was whether I wanted to pursue a taught masters or a research masters. The distinction doesn't exist in quite the same way in American universities, but a taught masters degree functions similarly to an undergraduate degree where one attends classes and is assessed by group projects and a dissertation. A masters by research is one that is more independent and sets one up on a clear path to the PhD--usually with a more specific focus and independent academic approach.

Since I'm not quite sure that a PhD is the path I'd like to pursue immediately, I wanted to take a somewhat general course to get not only an opportunity for research, but vocational experience as well, through the internship opportunity. I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a straight-up academic/scholar, so the value of that vocational aspect can't be overrated. I look forward to seeing what kind of opportunities this year presents!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 14

22 August 2013

Oh, pie of pies...

My first ever from-scratch #cherrypie. My crust technique is about as far from perfect as can be, but it tastes good and the cherry filling is amazing!

Photo via my mom, Vicki/Knitorious on Flickr

We finally put our amazing Door County tart cherries to use and produced two from-scratch pies! Thanks to my trusty Perfect Light Desserts cookbook by Nick Malgieri (who really knows his baking), I'm again very happy with how they turned out. I've also made tarts and the blueberry pie from this book and have been totally in love. We picked up a whole pail of fresh-picked cherries from Door County's Wood Orchard Market. In my humble opinion, it's one of the foremost orchards there. :)

I just needed to share. ;) <3

I've been busy-busy cleaning out my apartment and packing. Two weeks from tomorrow I'll be hopping a plane across the Atlantic. I couldn't be more stoked, but I've also got a lot to do. And there's a lot going on! Tomorrow I'm catching a Green Bay Packers game, and the night after that is a family farewell dinner for both my sister Maddy and I as we embark on our respective semesters of college. And about five more days of work thrown in there, too. And of course, (hopefully) a few more nights out to celebrate friends before I go.

Can anyone else hardly believe that back-to-school time is here already? Oh! And I've requested classes, too. More about that in the next post, perhaps. ;)

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 16

20 August 2013

What I've learned so far...

5 Tips from a Student Moving Abroad

...a continually evolving list about dealing with stuff and moving and the stuff of moving, as of 17 days before departure. ;)


5) Don't wait forever to get started. And by that I mean, waiting until the very last minute/day/week to sort through your apartment or house and try to get rid of everything all in one go -- that's tough. Unless you feel like donating everything, or paying boatloads (possibly for a boatload) to move your stuff somewhere far, far away. I've never been much of a knick-knacks collector or a media hound or anything (except maybe books), but when I thought I "didn't really have that much" to deal with, it actually came out to at least about twenty boxes and some furniture here and there, not to mention a bike and a couple of pets. It's hard when you've put down roots somewhere--even for only a couple of years--to come to terms with all that you've acquired.

Sell/give away/donate or as a very last resort, recycle/trash whatever you do not absolutely need. Every time I've moved, whether to locations near or far, purging has always been the most time-consuming and at times difficult part of the entire process. Moving is just physical labor, but having to sort through every little thing -- every drawer, closet, cabinet, dresser, etc. -- and then pare it down, deciding where it goes: it's draining. Make it a little easier on yourself by playing into your generous side and gifting things to people you know would be able to use them (but don't overburden them with crap that you're just too lazy to get rid of the right way; that's not generosity, it's just annoying). Donate whatever isn't all that valuable -- or maybe even stuff that is, if you really don't want to be bothered trying to sell it. eBay and Craigslist exist for a reason -- good for the big, bulky stuff like sofas and bikes.

4) Take care to keep the really meaningful things. In the process of decreasing the quantity of your belongings, don't forget: you're not a hoarder just because you keep old letters and photographs and the occasional ticket stub or somehow bizarrely meaningful chipped coffee mug. I've put away six fairly decent-sized boxes of valuable and/or sentimental books and keepsakes that I wouldn't trade for all the money in the world. Our lives are constructed of the people we know, the places we've gone, and sometimes the things we acquire. It's important to hold onto those things and keep them in a safe place if you're not taking them with you right away.

3) Seek out others who are doing the same thing as you. It's really helpful to hear from others who are in your same situation. How many suitcases are they packing? What do they expect to pay for airfare? What kind of accommodation do they have, and would that maybe work better for you than an alternative? Facebook is a fantastic medium for finding groups and other students who are going to the same school or city as you, and you can find friendly answers to questions like, "How does mobile phone service work where I'm going?" or "What is this neighborhood like?" What is the best bank for student accounts? How convenient is the public transportation? Likely your university website has plenty to help you out, but Facebook groups often offer opportunities for people who have been there already to give practical advice. And who knows, you may meet a few future friends!

2) Spend a ton of time with those who mean a lot to you. But respect those who want to keep a distance. It's really hard on other people in our lives, when we move far away from them. It's hard being the one left behind. And we're not talking significant others or even best friends, necessarily. It can be our parents, our siblings, or our coworkers. Spend a lot of time with the people you care about before you leave, and if you really intend to keep in touch with them, then reassure them of this. Sometimes, however, there is a tendency for those who know you're leaving to sort of... back off. It's done kind of unconsciously (I've done it, and I've had it done to me, so I know how it feels from both sides). Sometimes the person doing the backing-off is just ready to let you go; it's all relative to how long you plan to stay away. For a few months? Maybe not a big deal. A few years? A big deal. It depends on how close you are.

Respect that some people will want to stay in touch, and some people might not. Don't feel too offended if someone doesn't seem as interested in your move as others. For some people, it's just not their cup of tea. It's cliche, but worthwhile to remember, that some people touch our lives for brief periods and others stay with us as long as we live. It's just the way it goes. Don't force unnatural relationships when you leave; it keeps you clinging to home unnecessarily and makes it more difficult to get to know new people where you're going.

1) Keep an open mind. Wherever you're headed, whether it's someplace you've only ever dreamed of going, or you've been a handful of times already, be ready and open to everything. Remember that you don't have to bring absolutely everything with you; you'll be able to get what you need there, so it's not necessary to have every little thing ready to travel. And when it comes to experiences, it's imperative to be receptive and open to the new places and new people you will encounter. Like anywhere, at any time, you'll stumble across those you don't care for, but if you find yourself dwelling on the "bad" things or those that are different from home, you'll set yourself up for a totally crap time. Leave home with the realistic expectation that not everything will go exactly that way you've dreamed, expected, or planned, but that the experience is what you make it.


These are points I've ruminated on quite a bit, especially after several trips abroad, including a study abroad semester in London several years ago. I hope they can be a source of, if anything, reassurance to anyone who is about to move far from home, whether abroad or just a few hours away.

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 18

18 August 2013



I really feel like I'm getting packed up now. I cleared out at least 10 if not more like 12 boxes and bags of clothes and household items to sell at this garage sale. I sold a good amount of it, too, but there was a lot of stuff and overall it wasn't very busy, so there was quite a lot left over as well. Regardless, it feels really great to get a lot of that stuff out of my apartment, and if not into someone else's hands at the rummage sale, then into a donation bin at the thrift store.

I got back home and started packing up my books and various sentimental things I won't be bringing along with me to Scotland, but that I want to keep. All in all, six-or-so boxes of stuff (books, mostly) at my parents' house and three suitcases (carry-on included) to Edinburgh is all I'll have, period. That feels good.

All I can seem think about right now, with moving in mind, is stuff, so I'm definitely ready to be able to drop it all off in my university flat and know the tedious/difficult part is over. Maybe I should take up a nomadic lifestyle; I feel it would suit me. ;)

Turns out that I'll be taking a few choice books with me, of course, including a Scottish Architecture book I found at my own bookstore today that happens to be on one of my class readings lists! Score.

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 20

16 August 2013

Daytripping: Door County

As my departure date draws near, I find myself thinking more about spending time with those around me that I'm really going to miss when I leave. It goes without saying that one of these people is my mother. I spend a lot of time with her, not just because she's been awesome enough to let me live (almost!) rent-free to save for school, but she's just an awesome la-day. And she's my mom. Obviously. Like I said, it goes without saying. ;)

She shares similar taste in food and therefore restaurants, and also a similar philosophy when it comes to travel and day trips. We both love our cameras and don't hesitate to veer off the road (sorry, other drivers!) when a photo-op presents itself unexpected. We're also both keen to drive waaaay out of our way to chase cool storm clouds (like this one time), find cool restaurants, or see neat exhibitions, be it art or festival or music. We always want to try the more interesting things on restaurant menus (and can sometimes get carried away, just a wee bit, but really... isn't it always worth it?). She has good taste, so she never wants to go into shops that I think are stupid -- just saying. So, she's pretty much an ideal person to take day trips with.


One thing we had to cross off the Before-Kate-Leaves List is a day trip to Door County. It's a summertime place to go -- nothing is really properly open until June, and August is a fantastic time to go up there because Door County's famous cherries are ripe and ready for the eating/cooking/baking! But there are also plenty of other things to do and places to stop along the way, so we spent a few hours poking around our usual haunts like The Cookery in Fish Creek (pictured above), and visited some places that we'd passed a million times before but never actually stopped, like Wilson's Ice Cream in old-timey Ephraim.

At The Cookery, I've always had a grilled salmon sandwich, and decided to switch it up this time and tried the pulled pork. Verdict: amazing. Also, I sprung for a 22oz. bottle of Crispin Artisanal Reserve apple cider made with organic honey. Let me just say, I'm a fan of hard cider, and this was just brilliant.  I'm going to have to try to find Crispin somewhere else a little more... local. ;)


Ephraim boasts a really amazing bay and a bit more of a beachy-boardwalk feel. A few more art galleries and artist studios are prominent in the shopping areas, and it's also known for Wilson's, which has been around for basically... ever. And yet I had never been there. As you drive along the main route through town, the view looks like the photo above the whole way. Lake Michigan at its summer finest.

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I spied on an old couple being really cute. And then we found these flowers outside:


What are those? They look like strings of felt. Or necklaces. Weird necklaces. Or something. I don't even know. Anyone know what they're called?

It was an absolutely goooorgeous day, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. So thoroughly that we had double-dessert (and felt somewhat sick afterward) and were properly exhausted when we arrived back home in the evening. It was certainly nice to spend that much more time with my mom before I take off in only three weeks' time.

How the summer has simply disappeared...

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 22

12 August 2013

Mile of Music

I spent my entire Saturday afternoon wandering around Appleton, stopping into bars, coffee houses, back patios and public squares to see what music was playing. There was a lot of music, because it was the third day of the inaugural Mile of Music Festival, that ran from the 8th through yesterday, the 11th.

The brainchild of local musical darling Cory Chisel, of Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, who is currently touring as part of the Wild Rovers Tour with The Candles and others, Mile of Music was a slightly different type of festival. More like a gallery walk with performers in bars instead of pieces in art galleries, visitors were able pop in and out of wherever the music was playing. The turnout was pretty huge, too, especially for it being the first time the festival was on, and also being Appleton, which is not huge at 70,000 people -- but not small either. There was an official lineup and schedule for the entire weekend, so visitors knew where and when everything was happening, but unlike a big festival in a park somewhere, one could be downtown and enjoy lunch at a favorite cafe, that may or may not have been playing music, but then walk outside and join in on a performance somewhere else.


There were headline and feature shows every night as well, which were the only performances where a ticket was required. Cory Chisel was one of these, and the rumor mill was churning well before the event with speculation that Norah Jones would appear during the concert. She did, in fact, appear, and hung out in Appleton during the weekend. She's involved in the Wild Rovers Tour and has been making unannounced appearances during shows along the way. I'm sure that was a nice little treat for those at the show, and not too shabby of a thing to have a Grammy award-winning artist appear in a small-town music festival in its first year. Somebody knows what they're doing... ;)

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I went over in the afternoon as things were starting to get going, to see Charlie Parr, a well-known Minnesotan folk-country-blues performer. I had a great seat in the makeshift setup in the atrium of the downtown mall, and then afterward went down the street to a coffee shop where I ordered some much needed caffeine and waited for another Charlie Parr set. I caught the tail-end of an artist named J.E. Sunde, who hails from Eau Claire, WI and is part of a group I've heard of called The Daredevil Christopher Wright. I liked what I heard enough from J.E. Sunde that I later followed him down to another bar (a sports bar I never would find myself in otherwise) to sip an Angry Orchard cider and listen to his unique voice.

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Among other groups, I also heard quite a bit of the band PHOX, out of Madison, who were on their way very shortly to the UK to play their first shows overseas. I was extremely impressed with them; the lead vocalist's voice was haunting and gorgeous, and the various instrumentation and rhythms were unique. I could describe them only as "indie" for lack of a better term. I think they're on their way to something awesome.

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Some performers who I have seen previously, from our area, played small shows as well. I was really impressed with everyone I saw, and having seen a variety in the five-or-so hours I hung around, all were well worth the trip in and of themselves. I probably won't be around to make it to next year's, so I wanted to be sure to see it now. They have a good thing going!


10 August 2013

The local farm market

Farm markets have become much more popular over the last few years, and they can be found in our area every couple of days or so, in various places. Supposedly the largest one in Wisconsin after Madison's farm market on the Square, Appleton's Farm Market is sort of a destination spot for some on the weekends, especially once-monthly for their extended addition of arts and crafts vendors. However, my own hometown has a steadily growing farm market of its own, and if I have Saturday mornings free, I love to pop down there for some coffee from kc&t, Hmong egg rolls and spring rolls, Amish baked goods and a variety of local farmers' fruits and veggies.

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Late summer fare is in full swing. Phasing out are the blueberries and strawberries, but well in season are tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage, and so on. I scooped up a pound of fresh beets, a pint of blueberries, broccoli, a couple pints of succulent grape tomatoes, and a small zucchini nut bread for dessert. And of course, the coffee! With a breakfast of spring rolls.


My sister accompanied me down, and we walked the small stretch of vendors. There are a few craftspeople too, most of which tends toward ΓΌber-kitsch (crocheted hand towels -- crocheted anything, planters made out of old sneakers, doll clothes, etc). But some of it is a little more interesting, like a woman who wrapped wire around glass and affixed her designs to bowls and utensils. Not that it's very practical for me to be purchasing kitchen items right now... ;)

And my mom, whose passion for knitting and fiber has led to a small side business as Make.Do, with her yarn (and current project), set up for the morning.

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I'm otherwise enjoying a day off, and looking forward to an afternoon in Appleton for the first Mile of Music festival. I'm determined to see folk music performer Charlie Parr, who is playing a couple of free shows today, and then perhaps I will be able to catch some people I know from the area, who are booked in various locations along the "mile."

Bon week-end!

Days to Edinburgh move-in: 28 (!!)