Photo of the day… Smile!

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Happy Birthday Dave!

Today is Dave’s birthday, what could be more worthy of photo of the day honors?

That was then…

July 30, 2012

This is now

Dave isn’t on facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn, or any other form of social media you can imagine.  So call, email, text, walk, run, and be sure to wish him a happy HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


Wonders of Wisconsin

Despite spending a large percentage of my weekend obsessing over the Olympics I was still able to enjoy a variety of Wisconsin wonders.  If you’re looking for a few fun ways to enjoy the state, check these out.

Saturday, July 28, 2012:  Milwaukee Harley Davidson Museum

Harley Davidson Museum

I started out Saturday with a 13 mile run throughout Milwaukee with a Fabulously Broke Twenty-Something.  We hit up major Milwaukee landmarks like Bradford Beach, the Milwaukee Cupcake Company, Miller Brewery, and the Harley Davidson Museum.  You will have to read her blog in November for a complete list of the hotspots we checked out.

The real action started Saturday afternoon and evening.  Saturday afternoon we headed to the Lands’ End Annual Warehouse Sale.  This sale is truly a Wisconsin wonder.  Bargain hunters beware, major bargain hunting tips coming up soon.  But first, I’d like to cover Saturday night.  We headed to Shullsburg, Wisconsin.  This town tops the charts in charm and cheese.  We also found some of the best “bar food” I’ve ever had.  In fact, it’s not really fair to label it bar food, but I don’t have a better label.

Shullsburg, WI:  Cheese and Charm Galore

The Shullsburger

That burger is at least a 1/2 lb of meat magic.  It is also topped with ham, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and barbecue sauce.  Wow!  That was Dave’s meal, he’s still full and it’s been almost 24 hours.  Their corned beef sandwich and grilled chicken pesto sandwich were also top notch.  You can find these delicious eats at the Water Street Pub.  Eat here and you will leave happy.

Sunday, July 29, 2012:  Lands’ End Warehouse Sale

Lands’ End Warehouse Sale

The Lands’ End Warehouse sale is a Wisconsin wonder that I am thrilled to share with the world.  This sale includes 14 semi-truck trailer loads full of clothes and home goods made by Lands’ End.  You can find it in Dodgeville, Wisconsin at Harris Park.  If you want to plan your vacation for the time of the sale you can generally plan for the last weekend in July or the first weekend in August.  It starts on a Wednesday and ends the next Monday.  It is a sale so big that it doesn’t matter what day you show up, there will definitely be something for you and it will be a great deal.  Here are the best parts:

1)  There are discounts on top of discounts.  The actual price has a listed sale price and then you will get an additional 25%, 50%, or 75% off of that.

2)  The discounts gets bumped up a notch every hour or so when they announce their “lighthouse specials.”  About once an hour they will announce an extra special.  For example, when I was there I got a special punch that took the price of a pair of shoes from $12.50 to $5.

3)  The deals get even better as the days go on.  Today I went to the sale and everything that was labeled a “sample” was $1!  There were boxes upon boxes upon tables and more tables and racks and even more racks of clothes that were all $1.  Samples are generally clothes that were maybe used for photo shoots, put on mannequins, or didn’t quite meet the Lands’ End standards.

Half the Pavilion

With a little bit of patience and at least a few hours of your time you can rejuvenate your entire wardrobe.  But be warned, if you are a man or a child the selection is significantly smaller than the women’s.

UWM Pride Clothes:  All $1!!!

Checking out these Wisconsin wonders made it a great weekend for me.  I hope they will for you too.

Pop the Champagne

I am thrilled to be one of the first people to publically congratulate the members of the 2012 ASHRAE Student Design Competition at the Milwaukee School of Engineering for taking third place in the 2012 national competition!!!  They placed in the HVAC Design Calculations category.

Why am I so excited?  Because I am a proud alumna?  Kind of.  But really the main reason is because David Lee Grassl himself advised this group to their third place prize.  What makes this even more exciting is that this is the first year MSOE competed in this competition.  Out of 44 colleges and universities nationwide, MSOE was one of the 23 teams to make it to nationals and was one of 12 teams that placed.  Go team!

I think Dave has a special knack for advising.  A few years ago he mentored and coached a team of 8th graders from an MPS middle school to third place in another engineering design competition.  This team was up against a variety of private and wealthy suburban schools in the area and kicked some major butt.  Dave is very patient (he puts up with me), which I think helps a lot when it comes to his advising and teaching ability.  He is also supremely dedicated.  This year he stayed after class regularly to work with the team and even went into work on a Saturday so that he would be around when they had questions.  When he was advising the 8th graders he tried hard to win a desktop fountain in a Christmas present exchange so he could rip the pump out of it to give to his team.  That’s dedication.

I’d like to give Dave a special award.  First place, 5 star, Stanley Cup of advisors award!  He deserves it, he’s pretty much amazing.

July 25, 2012

He cooks and cleans too.

Garage Mahal

Being a distance runner I generally cover 15-20 miles per Saturday.  All those miles and all those blocks covered means that I pass quite a few garage sales along the way.  When that’s the case I generally slow my pace and scan for anything I might want and if something catches my eye I will swoop in and check it out.  Last year my big finds were a Pottery Barn ottoman and an antique trunk that when you open it you feel like you are Alastor Moody in a Harry Potter book.

This summer I decided to be the giver of garage sale treasures instead of the receiver.  We finished our sale today and I am thrilled to report that it was top notch.  Here is the before picture of about 1/4 of the stuff Dave and I had for sale:

The Before, July 19, 2012:

By noon on Saturday all that was left was this…

The After, July 21, 2012:

Our total sales equated to $137.95, which when high priced items are selling for 50 cents or less this means we moved some serious merchandise.

After my first sale experience, here are a few things I’ve learned with some bonus “Photo of the Day” photos for you to enjoy.

1)  Join forces and pool resources.  Get as many families together as possible to participate in the sale.  We teamed up with my parents and one of our neighbors.  Our entire driveway and front yard were full at one point.  Cars will stop if they see a lot of stuff.  Less stuff, they just drive by.  We experienced a lot of drive-bys on Saturday morning after 75% of our inventory was gone.  I was embarassed to be hosting such a pathetic sale at that point.

2)  Clean your stuff.  People will pay a lot more for clean used stuff.  The extra time it takes for a good scrub down, the higher your revenue.

3)  Find some great staff.  My parents worked our sale on Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. so that Dave and I could go to work.  My Dad also is a retired salesman and this trait comes in handy at a rummage sale.  If he sees a customer pause for just a moment at an item it’s like blood in the water.  He will get them talking about it and before you know it they are walking away with a giant stuffed carp, 10 yards of bright yellow velvet upholstory, or a hand crank fish skinner (yeah, we actually sold that stuff).

4)  Signage and marketing are key.  My mom made some completely obnoxious fluorescent orange signs that were perfect!  Placement is also very important.  If a car needs to make a turn, you better put a sign at every corner they need to turn at.  We got lots of compliments on our signs and sign placement.  We did have one sign snafu, it was my fault.  What can I say?  It was 6 a.m. and I was confused.

5)  Have a free box.  Some things just shouldn’t be sold but you never know, people might actually want them.  Someone actually paid me $1 for everything in my free box.

6)  Keep scary bugs off your things.  Especially when they look like they are sporting some kama sutra style moves on your merchandise.  That kills a sale.

We learned a lot from our first sale and were beyond surprised with the success of it so we will definitely be hosting another sale next summer.  I’m sure we will have plenty more to sell.

A Diamond in the Rough, Literally

July 20, 2012:  Farewell Old Friend

I’ll spare you the drama, but just know that losing my diamond was an extremely traumatic experience.  I am now going through the five stages of mourning.

1)  Denial:  “Hmmmm… my finger looks weird.  What’s the matter with my ring?  Is my ring broken?”  Then I called Dave…  “My diamond is gone.  Better go home and look for it.”  Followed by a total and utter meltdown.  I moved pretty quickly to the next stage…

2)  Anger:  I just had my ring inspected by the jeweler who sold it to me.  They said I needed to replace all my prongs because my old ones were weak.  I followed their advice.  NOT happy that my new prongs failed me, I was definitely blaming the jeweler for this.

3)  Bargaining:  Well, I might have skipped over this stage.

4)  Depression:  I spent a couple of hours sporadically bursting into tears every time I looked down at my hand.

5)  Acceptance:  I’m now trying figure out how soon I can get my ring fixed.  Looks like this is how I will be spending my weekend.


My ring is insured, I’ll survive.  But I absolutely loved my ring as is.  I loved that Dave put in painstaking effort to select the perfect diamond and setting for me when we were completely poor and he was willing to spend his last dime on me.  I’m not trying to be melodramatic, I just might be slipping back into stage four.

My Milwaukee Summer Bucket List

I consider this summer my first summer in a decade that I’ve actually had free time to relax.  Prior to this year I spent every summer taking summer classes, when those finished I spent an entire summer writing my dissertation and training for an IronMan, and then spent the next summer fixing our house and doing all the projects I’d put off the previous five years.  It’s not that I didn’t have any fun during those years, but my life definitely wasn’t carefree. 

I’m now making up for lost time and I have a list of things I want to experience/accomplish before summer 2012 ends.  I made significant progress this past weekend but if I’m going to finish I better get going, summer ends August 28th. 

Here is my list, in order of importance:

1)  Complete my summer “10 Book Challenge.”  I’ve finished 4 so far which means I need to pick up my pace.  I have proof that I am trying to make progress, July 1, 2012.

2)  Tailgate and attend a Brewers game.  Check!  July 13, 2012

We attended the Brewers vs. the Pirates and the Brewers won, 10-7!  It was one of the longest games I’ve ever attended, probably because we made it into the stadium during the first inning.  I generally enjoy leaving the tailgate during the third inning and making it in sometime before the 5th inning.  That’s easy to do when you are sitting in the cheap seats.

3)  Watch fireworks.  Since I completely missed out on the 4th of July I need to find a way to check this one off asap.  I’m counting on one of Milwaukee’s many summer festivals to come through for me sometime in the next few weeks.

4)  Go hiking at Kohler Andrae State Park

5)  Spend a day at the beach in Elkhart Lake and go to Gessert’s for ice cream.

6)  Go on a brewery tour.  Check!  July 14, 2012 at Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery

Personally I think this is the best tour in Milwaukee, and the best beer.  The tour starts and ends at the tap.

7)  Attend a summer festival in Milwaukee.  Check!  July 15, 2012

I can’t say I made the most of this opportunity.  We went to Bastille Days but were there VERY early, even before they started to sell beer!  I might have to check out Irish Fest just to make my summer festival requirement officially complete.

8)  Attend the Bayshore Town Centre Chalk Art FestivalI wanted to go last year, this year I’m promising myself to make it!

9)  Go glow-in-the-dark golfingSome of the Milwaukee County Parks feature Friday night glow golfing.  I’m totally intrigued.  I wonder if my game will improve in the dark?

10)  Visit the North Point Lighthouse and climb to the top of the tower.  I’m sure I could do this in any season, but I’ve got this on my list for this summer and I’m sticking to it!

I’m taking suggestions, is there anything else I should add to this list?

“C” is for Cookie

Inevitably I was bound to write a blog about cookies, I mean they inspired my blog web address and all, there must be some connection, right?  If you know me at all you know that I am somewhat of a cookie connoisseur, some might say fanatic.  I love cookies in all shapes and sizes, which is why I am breaking my “photo of the day” rules and posting a “video of the day.”  Really, it’s pretty close.  A video is just a bunch of photos put together and looked at very very fast.  I can’t get enough of this video of the day…

July 10, 2012:  Cookie Monster Spoof

I also can’t get enough cookies!  I love all kinds, it just depends on what kind of cookie mood I am in.  Dave’s grandma makes two of my all-time favorites.  Her Christmas sugar cookies with a white glaze and sprinkles are top notch.  The only thing that might beat those is her hidden chocolate mint cookie.  My favorite cookie to bake is a chocolate chip pumpkin cookie.  If I’m buying cookies I generally follow this pattern:

My “on a budget Geo Metro” of cookies:  Chips Ahoy Superchunk

My “middle class, yet modest Honda Accord” of cookies:  The Pick ‘n Save bakery section M&M variety

My “feelin’ pretty special Lexus” of cookies:  Pepperidge Farm Mint Milanos

And my “emotional eating, indulgence of the month, Rolls Royce” of cookies:  The Alterra coffee shop cowboy cookie

 I am a cookie monster!

Summer Lovin’

While I realize the heat index is over 105 degrees and I break a sweat just thinking about spending a day in the sun I still love summer.  I am 100% a summer girl, the hotter the better.  I personally love going outside and feeling the heat and humidity, it’s like a big, hot, stifling hug from Mother Nature. 

In case the heat has made you forget why you love summer, here are a few photos that may help you remember.

Sandal Season:  March 18, 2012

Dave and I have two seasons in our house, sandal season and slipper season.  The first day that our slippers go into temporary retirement and the soccer slides come out is a big day for us.

Gardening:  June 29, 2012


After five years in our house we started a garden last year.  I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I’ve enjoyed trying.  I’ve mastered lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes.  We also planted raspberries and I’ve officially harvested seven as of today.  I’d count that as a success as well.

Farmer’s Markets:  June 23, 2012

Also after five years living in our house we went to our local farmer’s market for the first time last fall.  This year we are regular customers.  The really pathetic part about this is that the market is less than two blocks from our house.  We are also very lucky because Growing Power (www.growingpower.org) has a stand at our market and they give free samples!  I love the Growing Power people.  Not only is it an amazing organization, they are also straight shooters.  They will say things like, “Here, try this.  It’s very good for you, but it tastes like wood.” 

Grilling Out and Potato Salad:  June 21, 2012

What’s not to love in this picture?  (Except the socks and sandals, gross.)

Fun at the Pool (or Beach):  March 28, 1983

I haven’t actually made it to a pool or beach yet this season so I had to use a throwback picture of the day for this one.  I’ve enjoyed the water even more since the invention of SPF 100.  From the age of 12-16 I probably spent four out of seven days in the water during the summer.  You know that big frown wrinkle on my forehead?  Yeah, that’s just a reminder of how much I love being in the sun and water. 

Biking and Running Outside:  June 24, 2012


Hot days in the summer force me to get up early to run and bike before the mercury rises.  Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of a pre-5 a.m. alarm on a Saturday morning, but I’ve seen some great sunrises over Lake Michigan in the last few years.  I also love coming home and going back to bed for a nap before 10 a.m. 

Ice Cream and Bounce Houses!  July 4, 2012

I’m not sure which one I like more, ice cream or bounce houses.  I have an obsession with these blow-up novelties.  Every child’s birthday party we go to I place bets on whether or not they will have a bounce house. 

If you are still having a hard time remembering what you love about summer just remember, in six months (or less) it will be winter.

Secrets of a Bargain Shopper

I love a great bargain and if you do too I am about to reveal one of Wisconsin’s best kept secrets… the Bargain Nook!  This is a gem of a thrift store located throughout southwest Wisconsin. 

June 30, 2012:  More Great Bargains 

Here are just a few reasons why The Bargain Nook is my favorite and a few tips for a successful shopping trip.

1.  This store supports the local community.  Many of the individuals who work at the Bargain Nook are physically or developmentally disabled.  Not only are they employed by the store, but the proceeds from sales go to support local support services.

2.  Lands’ End donates new clothes to the store!  Lands’ End is located in Dodgeville, WI and  disperses their overstock, return, and scratch and dent items to the Bargain Nooks throughout the area.  The vast majority of the clothes in the store have never been worn.  Lands’ End donates these items to the Bargain Nook where you can buy them for pennies, literally.  I bought this jacket for $2.  That equates to almost 99% off its original price.

Yes, you read that correctly, $2!

3.  The clothes are so cheap you feel like you are stealing.  On top of the already bargain basement prices you can always find additional discounts.  When you walk into the store behind the cash register there will be a sign that tells you what the additional discounts for the day are.  Price tags are color coded (green, orange, blue, red, and gray), every day one of those colors will be an additional 50% off and another color will be an additional 25% off.  There are also monthly coupons, you can collect punches on a punch card for additional savings, and if you visit every Bargain Nook (on your Tour de Nook card) you can get even more discounts.  I bought this shirt on Saturday for 80 cents (original price $2).  It was 50% off, plus we had the June 20% off coupon.  You can’t even buy a cookie for 80 cents!

80 cents!

4.  The selection is top notch.  As with any thrift store there are no guarantees you will find what you are looking for on the day you visit.  I probably wouldn’t recommend making a special trip to southwest Wisconsin just to visit a Bargain Nook.  But if you are in the area it is well worth your time to make a stop.  Men’s, women’s, children’s, housewares, shoes, shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, shorts, sweaters, swimwear, belts, jackets, and scarves galore!  Keep at eye out for small imperfections and some items are monogrammed with their original owner’s initials.  Here are a few of my favorite Bargain Nook deals (note, there are other styles, mine just happens to fall into the preppy, “I love a good cardigan” kind of look).

Lands’ End Canvas dress, $10, the top of my price limit

Lands’ End UWM themed cardigan, $3

More Lands’ End, $3

5.  There are five Bargain Nooks to choose from:  Mineral Point, Darlington, Spring Green, Platteville, and Mount Horeb.  Personally, the Darlington location is my favorite.

Who needs extreme couponing when you have the Bargain Nook?

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