Tag Archives: 2014

We Kayaked the Milwaukee River: An Afternoon with Milwaukee Kayak Co.

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Shortly after Michelle and I met, while talking on the phone, we discovered we had the same birthday. At the time, this little fact seemed charmed–a reason to keep talking despite the distance between us and the longshot prospects for a relationship.

Ten years on, that charming fact–August 3 being our shared birthday, I’m three years older–seems like more like a burden to bear. We always struggle to determine where to go and what to do.

As this past birthday approached, I decided to be proactive. I wanted to do something fun and memorable. I’d seen images on social media of people kayaking the Milwaukee River and I thought, if we were able to stay upright, it would be the perfect way to spend our day and take in a unique view of our city. Continue reading

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Reflections on Ralphie’s First Year

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“Animals should fit into your schedule,” I matter-of-factly told Michelle in the first week after we brought home Ralphie.

We were discussing whether she should walk him in the morning–if that would increase his comfort and tire him out for the 10 hours we’d be gone.

“When you love something, you make sacrifices,” Michelle retorted.

I’m not Michelle, so I had a lot to learn. Continue reading

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Y is for Yen Ching

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Whenever we select a restaurant I’ve never been to, I am eager to go online and see the reviews.

Thanks to Michelle’s winning entry of Yen Ching (Adam also picked it), I found mixed results of a curious, unsurprising variety. I saw claims that Yen Ching is the best Chinese in Milwaukee. I saw that Yen Ching was featured on Dirty Dining.

I was eager to form my own opinion, so on a sunny Friday evening in early June, we made the half-hour trek from Bay View to Brown Deer and pulled up in front of a restaurant festooned with life-size golden lions, red siding, green shingles and large Chinese characters.

The interior carried the theme further. The large dining space was decorated with items meant to evoke ancient China, and they looked like they had been in place for about as long. Adam said:

I loved the gold Buddha statue and paper-style lantern light fixtures.

The mostly windowless dining area was maybe a third full on a Friday night–no reservations necessary. Although, Cindi notes: “I noticed a lot of people picking up their take-out.” Continue reading

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We Went to Nomad in Milwaukee and saw America Beat Ghana in the World Cup

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Being a sports fan is a calculated risk. The highest highs are possible, but crushing lows are more likely.

I’m a novice soccer fan, I only watch every four years, during the World Cup. Soccer is not a sport we grow up with and not a sport our country excels in, but trust me on this … go to Nomad or Highbury or any other soccer bar before this Cup ends and watch the Americans.

The United States Men’s Soccer team is only certain to play two more matches in this year’s World Cup. What they do on Sunday and then next Thursday will determine if they move on.

If you’re lucky and this team has more magic in it, perhaps you’ll share the joy that millions of Americans–including Mike, Ryan, Adam and I–felt early Monday evening. Continue reading

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X is for Wildcard: Harbor House

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Since there are no ‘X’ restaurants in Milwaukee, we decided to make this round a wildcard round.

Harbor House is one of Milwaukee’s premier restaurants because of its location. Set out into Lake Michigan between Discovery World and the Milwaukee Art Museum, Harbor House’s best tables allow diners a picturesque perspective of Milwaukee’s skyline and its changing reflections upon the lake.

Besides its view, Harbor House is known for seafood. Everyone but Mike had been there (it was Michelle’s submission). Continue reading

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Wandering Chicago: A Trip to The White City, Goose Island & The Squared Circle

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Michelle and I hopped the 6:05 Metra train from Kenosha pointed at Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago. She was headed to a conference and I was planned on wandering the city on a beautiful, warm spring day … one of the first of the year.

What followed was an adventure in miniature. I traversed Chicago on foot and via bus, train and subway … all between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Continue reading

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W is for Wolf Peach

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Nothing could quite hit the spot after our morning tour of Lakefront Brewery (read about it here) than a great brunch, so we were counting on our “W” restaurant, Wolf Peach, to deliver.

Wolf Peach, named for the tomato’s European nickname with a menu that honors the fruit, was Shannon’s selection. Most of us had not been there before. Adam said:

The brewery tour served as a nice way to go buzzing straight into lunch. The first thing I noticed walking into Wolf Peach was the excellent view of the city. The restaurant sits perched on Brewer’s Hill and the entire back wall is a floor-to-ceiling window looking over the city. It also has a raised patio that I’m guessing seats people come spring and summer.

You almost exclusively see downtown from the Lake, but the view from Wolf Peach, atop a bluff above the Milwaukee River, highlights the city and its iconic buildings from a more impactful vantage point.

The place is small, rustic and was lively and packed throughout our brunch. Our spot was in the middle of the dining room, at a tall table–it seems like no space is wasted–the aisles are tiny and tables seem to take up every possible other inch. Reservations were necessary. Continue reading

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Touring Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery: A Pictorial

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The unmistakable, lime green label of Lakefront’s IPA is ubiquitous in Milwaukee’s finer bars and restaurants, but as a neophyte beer drinker, I still remember it as the first microbrew that really made an impression on me. IPA remains one of my favorite beers.

So, it is a huge hole in my hophead resume that I have never been to Lakefront Brewery for a tour. I’d only first gone there the year before for a fish fry charity event.

When I saw a case of Lakefront beer and a private tour were a silent auction item, I had to win, and, eventually, after several other bidders stepped in, I made the winning bid – Michelle was okay with it because Lakefront also makes one of her favorite beers, Riverwest Stein, which is their most popular offering.

A year later, prior to our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining brunch at Wolf Peach, Adam, Cindi, Michelle, Shannon, TJ and I made the trek to the brewery, which is, decidedly, not on the lake. Instead, it is tucked in the Milwaukee River basin, in the Riverwest district. Continue reading

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Painting & Drinking: An Evening at Milwaukee’s Splash Studios

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The last time I put a brush to canvas was college. In my art class, I could never get anything to look how I wanted it. It was always frustrating.

Thanks to Splash Studio, in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward, I now know that one element could have turneded those futile attempts at art into carefree fun … alcohol. Continue reading

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V is for VIA Downer

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This winter has been pretty rough on Wisconsin. Frigid temperatures and mountains of snow make it easier to stay home, underneath the covers with wine and Netflix.

But on a Friday in early January, we found many similar souls braving the weather for pizza and drinks at VIA Downer on Milwaukee’s Eastside, which was chosen by Adam, Cindi, Michelle, Mike and TJ (Michelle’s entry was selected).

I walked in, kicked the snow from my shoes and when the fog cleared from my glasses, I was in a large dining room with a modernist, industrial feel featuring high ceilings, artwork on the walls, exposed beams, wires and pipes. To my right was a hostess stand, to my left was a large, crowded bar and beyond were tables full of people.

VIA, the sister restaurant of Transfer (near the Allen Bradley Clock Tower AKA “The Polish Moon”), was crowded and our reservations, with a group our size, came in handy. Mike said:

The atmosphere was cool. You can tell they were busy but you could also hear everything any of us were saying and sometimes that doesn’t happen with seven people at a table.

We were seated near the middle of the room at large table. It seemed like a good mix of people on dates and large groups of friends. Continue reading

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