Hiya and welcome to a Sunday post! I’ve been wanting to incorporate a few more different things in around here (natural skincare post coming soon) but I always thought, well does anyone really care? I’m kind of a nosy person myself, so I figure maybe some of you do, but if you’re here for the food, that’s still coming too! I’m trying to be a lot more intentional with my fun activities every season, as it seems like they fly by in the blink of an eye and I’ve hardly had time to do all the season appropriate things that I was intending on doing. Inspired by my friend Erin I made a fall/winter bucket list for this year so the season doesn’t go by without all the fun stuff. Some of these are things I’ve been wanting to do for a while and others are just ones that I’ve wanted to do ever since we’ve moved to Milwaukee, but just haven’t gotten around to yet.
– Make homemade noodles
- My late maternal grandmother was somewhat of a noodle master. She was famous for her chicken and noodles, making big batches of her homemade noodles and giving them to us every year. I remember her making a ton of them, all spread out around the kitchen counter and rolling them so thin that they cooked perfectly and were never too doughy. Sadly, I never got the official recipe from her, but my mom says that the recipe was all up in her head anyway. I’m making it my mission this winter to master noodles just like hers and keep them around for soups and all the best winter comfort foods!
– Go hiking in Kettle Moraine State Park
- This is more local, but I’ve always wanted to see the fall colors at Kettle Moraine here in Milwaukee. The park is only about 40 minutes from where we live, so it’s crazy that we haven’t been more often. I’ve gone with friends once, but it was in the middle of the hot summer heat and more for a ‘let’s hike around a little and then get outta here’ situation. I would love to go when it’s cooler and not as busy as in the summertime.
– Host Friendsgiving
- We started this last year and I LOVED it. As stressful as it is to host a big meal for several people, having all the friends we love around one table made it totally worth it. We threw this one together in a week last year so it was kind of unplanned, but I’ve already had the menu going in my brain this year to make it even better. A lot of our friends work in the tv news business like my husband, so they are working on the Thanksgiving holiday anyway. Hosting a Friendsgiving at our house lets us get everyone together and gives them the chance to eat all the good foods, even if it’s a week before the actual holiday.
– See The Nutcracker ballet
- This is one that I’ve done with my parents year over year, planning way in advance to see the production at my local high school that was always my absolute favorite. Even though we live away from my parents now, Milwaukee has an incredible ballet company and they put on a lovely show for The Nutcracker. Seeing the Nutcracker several years ago reignited my love for ballet, so I always have a soft spot for this one specifically.
– Perfect vegan swiss cake roll recipe
- This vegan swiss cake roll recipe has been one that has been on the ‘to make’ list for over year and I still haven’t quite nailed it. I really want to recreate my absolute favorite Little Debbie snacks, but the results have been less than perfect so far. It’s hard because the cake portion needs to be pliable enough to roll up, but tender and sweet at the same time. I’m going to chip away at this one on those cold winter weekends when it’s acceptable to stay inside all day. I promise after winter is over this recipe will come soon!
– Bake the perfect vegan cinnamon rolls
- I have a few cinnamon roll recipes on my site, but I still haven’t developed my own solid, plain vegan cinnamon rolls recipe yet. Luckily, I know Oh, Ladycakes has the best recipes around and has posted multiple times about these fluffy, amazing looking rolls. I think a Sunday morning with snow and cinnamon rolls sounds just about perfect to me!
– Winter trip to Door County, WI
- While I always visit Door County every summer with my parents, I would love to see the area in the winter! A lot of the main businesses are closed and a lot of the peninsula is gone for the fall/winter season, but it feels like a perfect time to book a room with a fireplace and curl up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.
There it is! I’m hoping that listing them out will keep me more accountable (never got through my summer bucket list!) and I hope it inspires you to make your own. I’m definitely a ‘cross things off a list’ kind of girl, so this is right up my alley and will keep me from hibernating all winter. Tell me in the comments a few of yours, I would love to hear them!
Hi friends and lovely readers! I have an REALLY exciting announcement today and I’ve been waiting for so long to share this with you. For a while now, I’ve been thinking and mulling over the future over this blog and I kept coming back to making a big change that will allow me to grow and continue to bring you the best content I possibly can. While it isn’t a cookbook (someday!) and I’m not quitting my full time job just yet (hi, health insurance is something you need I guess?), it does have to do with the look and feel of this site here.
Oh hi there! If you are ready to be overloaded with wedding pictures and want to be nosy (I love being nosy, so I’m not judging) about our wedding, this is the place for you. There are approximately a billion pictures in this post and if you want to just skim them and glass over the text, totally cool with me! Just know that the pictures were done by the lovely and talented Danielle Simone Photography . If you are looking for a wedding photographer in the Milwaukee/Chicago area, you need to contact her. She’s sweet, talented and all around a really cool lady. Ok, now let’s move onto the wedding details!
When we got engaged, we knew we were going to have a pretty long guest list. Between AJ coming from large families and us both having a lot of friends whom we love dearly, it was hard to imagine cutting anyone out! So first off, one of the biggest struggles when we were wedding planning was finding a space that would accommodate 250 guests (we had 175 attend) and allow the ceremony and reception to be held in one place (in November). Since Milwaukee is gorgeous in the summer, but unpredictable in the fall/winter months, we also didn’t want to mess with even thinking about an outdoor space. October/November was our general timeline, so we knew we had to be inside. After a lot of research (so many hours on Google) and several e-mails later, we settled on the Mitchell Park Domes.
The Domes are right in Milwaukee, close to downtown and have some of the most gorgeous indoor greenhouse space that I’ve ever seen. We had been to the Domes a few times previously, but looking at it as a wedding space was a whole new option we never even considered. We were able to hold both the ceremony and reception in the same building and there was plenty of parking available, win win. My word of advice for looking into wedding venues? Keep an open mind and keep a spreadsheet with all the details from all the spaces. Between sifting through e-mails from potential sites, remembering who could accommodate what, and needing to be able to share all the info with my mom (best wedding helper EVER), creating some shared planning documents in Google Drive was a total lifesaver. I actually had passed over the Domes when we were initially looking into venues, thinking it wouldn’t work for us. Good thing I looped back around and took a second look! The Domes are technically park of the Milwaukee County Parks System, so the fee was much lower than other places and it was super easy to go visit the venue when we were planning things out. Don’t overlook your parks system, there can be hidden gems in there.
The day of the wedding the whole bridal party got ready at the hotel where we had reserved blocks of rooms for our guests, which ended up working out great for us. It was so nice to see people as we were running around the hotel getting ready and much easier for the bridesmaids, since they could hang out in their individual rooms while we were getting ready, eliminating the chance that the ‘getting ready’ room would get overwhelmed with people or anyone would be hangry/cranky or need time alone. I paid a little extra to have hair/makeup come to us and it was also totally worth it! I know some places charge extra for this service, but for me, it was worth our time and smooth operation of the day just to have them come to us (If you are curious, Martha at MKE Shears did my hair and Katie at Harmony Salon and Spa did the makeup). I would also recommend plenty of snacks, water and lots of time. I stressed out majorly about planning the timeline and honestly, it all went off without a hitch. Build in plenty of time in case something goes wrong, someone gets lost, etc. and you should be right on track. Things are probably going to run behind and not everything will be perfect. Sit back and have a mimosa and forget about it!
My absolute biggest piece of advice for the day of a wedding: get a day of coordinator. Hands down, this is some of the BEST money we spent. I luckily have a close family friend who plans events for a living, so he was the perfect choice to coordinate our wedding day. He thought of things we didn’t even consider and took a lot of the last minute tasks off of my plate so I could fully enjoy the day. Our day of coordinator even put together a pretty bomb last minute photobooth when our photobooth didn’t show up (Having a wedding right after Halloween=allllll the props for a perfect photobooth are on sale). If you are going to splurge a bit on something extra, hire a day of coordinator, you won’t regret it!
Finding a good place to take wedding photos was another hurdle we had to get over after our original plan fell through. At the time, it seemed like the biggest disaster on Earth and I kind of lost my mind thinking about re-planning the whole dang photo plan. Luckily enough, I was a.) marrying someone who kept me very calm and b.) had a photographer who jumped in and helped right away. These two things were essential to ensuring that we found somewhere that was inside (it was in the 40s on our wedding day) and was beautiful, so we would be able to capture photos we loved. Ultimately, we decided to take pictures at the Iron Horse Hotel, which ended up being perfect. Not only is it a gorgeous old building, but the staff was more than accommodating and there is a bar right inside where we were taking pictures. Wedding pictures and a cocktail? Yes please! I’m not advocating for anyone to get drunk before the wedding, but having a couple cocktails beforehand just eases those nerves and stresses about the day.
Our ceremony was pretty short and sweet, which suited us perfectly! AJ writes as part of his job, so he took the helm on putting together the ceremony script for our officiant and deciding on all of that jazz. This was another big thing that I was SO happy to not worry about, especially since he is a lot better at it than I am. Fun fact about our officiant: he is actually the person who set us up on a blind date in the first place! (He was also there when we got engaged). We sort of joked about having him officiate the wedding, since he has been part of our story for so long, but then we found out that he was already ordained, so we knew it was meant to be. Not everyone has this unique situation, but honestly, if you aren’t religious or don’t already have someone in mind, finding someone who you both know and love to officiate the wedding is so much more fun. Our officiant added in a few anecdotes about both of us and we felt so much more comfortable during the ceremony, since it was being conducted by someone we’ve known for so long.
Like I said, our ceremony was short and sweet. We aren’t religious, so we didn’t have a lot of specific criteria we wanted met for the ceremony. We did a few short readings by the officiant, he added in his own reading and we did our vows. I think total, the ceremony lasted maybe 15-20 minutes, which we heard was well liked by the guests. At that point, we wanted to just be married and move on to the party part of the celebration!
Now onto the good stuff! Food is obviously important to me, so when it came to food, we were excited about going with a somewhat untraditional route of serving heavy appetizers. Overall, everyone loved it and there was plenty of food, without breaking our budget. Luckily, we not only got to serve our guests several kinds of appetizers, but a pasta bar too, so everyone was carbed up and ready to go. Our caterer, Zilli Hospitality (they are amazing and you should use them if you need a Milwaukee wedding caterer), was the exclusive caterer for the venue. Having just the one choice in caterer actually made life a lot easier, because we didn’t have to spend time researching, going to tastings, etc. My words of advice for catering is to have someone who has done weddings a lot, especially in your specific venue. It was so nice to just tell them what we wanted and trust them to make it happen, especially since they had done countless weddings in our venue. They were also really accommodating with modifying appetizers to be vegan or gluten free, since we had a wide variety of diets to please. We also got married at a lower point in the wedding season, so we got a few freebies for getting married in that in-between time (hello fancy drinks and more apps). For the appetizers we had so many different types but the highlights were crispy pitas with hummus, bacon wrapped chicken (for the GF guests!), polenta bites, and cucumbers with olive tapanade. Between all the apps and a variety of pastas, our guests left full and happy.
For the reception, I wanted super simple decorations that wouldn’t involve me DIYing the crap out of my weekends. Some people love that stuff, but for me, it would have been more of a stressor than an enjoyable activity. For the centerpieces, I got a ton of wine bottles from a winery back in Central Illinois (hi Sleepy Creek!) and told the florist to just stick some flowers in there. We did a combo of hydrangeas and baby’s breath and the result was perfect. I’m not super into big flowers that make it hard to see the person sitting across from you, so really fit the bill. For the table numbers, I hired out a family friend who does calligraphy and had her do small tented cards for each table. Lucky for us, the florist threw in the votives on the tables for free and decorated all the food tables with stuff they had on hand, so everything was just right for our space. If you can’t tell, the reception was actually held in the lobby of the venue, so it turned out wonderfully for being something that is normally just a forgotten space.
Moving on to the cake! I already knew that big, tiered cakes were expensive and note my style, so I went ahead and ordered a small cake for us to cut and sheet cakes to serve to guests. This strategy ended up being really great for our size of wedding and we even had a TON left over, so we enjoyed it for a few weeks after the wedding too. Every single piece of cake was a completely vegan red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (ordered from Beans and Barley). No one knew the cake was vegan unless we had previously told them and everyone absolutely loved it! Lucky for us, the bakery we ordered the cake from is also a grocery store, so I went in and purchased individual slices of a few cakes we were considering and tried them at home. This eliminated the whole cake tasting fee and pressure on making a decision right there in the store.
Now moving onto one of my favorite parts, DANCING! I live to dance at weddings and we are lucky enough to have quite a crew of friends from all walks of life who love to dance. The DJ we went with played all of the songs from our play list (listen to the DJ wedding playlist on YouTube to get a good idea of the best songs) and really kept the flow going with the perfect songs to keep everyone going. We also spent some of the best money and rented a pair of people dressed up in sausage costumes to come to the wedding, whattt?! This may sound absolutely crazy, but Milwaukee’s baseball team, the Brewers, has a set of sausages who race every home game during the 7th inning stretch. After a bit of research, we found out that you can pay to rent the sausages and they will come and dance around at your wedding. It’s kind of hard to describe exactly what they are, so watch this then come back for more pictures.
Just having that extra piece of iconic Milwaukee at our wedding made our out of town guests love the experience even more and really got the party going. We did have an incident where one of the sausages got a little into the Cupid Shuffle and his too-tall sombrero broke a part of the ceiling, but we cleared the debri away and continued to boogie anyway. If you have an option to rent something like this for your wedding and you can afford it, DO IT. We only had them for an hour and it was a good amount of time for everyone to take pictures, dance around and really get into the fun of the night.
At the end of the night, we were exhausted, happy and our hearts were so full. The old addage really is true, at the end of the day, you will be married and that’s all that really matters. For all the times I woke up from a panic dream about forgetting things or sent my friends photos of me eating cookies on the couch while stressing about timeline, it was totally worth it. Almost everything could have gone wrong and I think we still would have felt the same way. At the end of the day, you are surrounded with everyone you love, get to eat cake and be married, what more could you ask for?
If you have any questions about vendors, planning a wedding, etc. Feel free to reach out! I couldn’t possibly fit everything here and my fingers got a little tired from typing, so I’m an open book if anyone wants to know more specifics.
Hi hi hi! It’s been a whirlwind around here and I can’t even believe it’s October, ack! This month is going to be full of lots of fun traveling and activities, so I’m looking forward to it, but can someone else just come do my laundry for me so I don’t have to while this is all going on? Ok that’s what I thought. Let’s get started!
-I checked out the My New Roots cookbook from the library a few weeks back and fell in LOVE. I already have a lot of dang cookbooks, but I think I’m going to have to spring for this one soon. I made the Strawberry Coconut Milkshake for lunch one day and it was fantastic, along with the cashew yogurt that turned out perfectly. There are so many other recipes I want to try out of this book, so I need to just jump on it and order it soon.
– My favorite farmer’s market is still going on here, so I stopped by last week to pick up some early fall produce and see what’s looking good right now. I came out with lots of potatoes (for making my favorite potato pizza!), the last of a sweet corn crop, and a bunch of mizuna. Mizuna is a new to me green, so I thought I would give it a try and I loved it! This article from The Kitchn helped me figure out what to do with it and I think I’m going to use the last sauteed with veggies for dinner this week.
– I was never a huge fan of tofu, until I found the perfect way to prepare it! I Am A Food Blog has a perfect oven baked tofu recipe that I’ve made time and time again and never gotten sick of it. Replace the honey with agave and make a double batch of the sauce, because it’s DANG good.
– Sushi is a go-to for me when I have nori and rice on hand, but sushi bowls have become a whole new favorite lunch ever since Kate posted this brilliant recipe. I made this one day when I was working from home and it was gone in a matter of hours. The way of cooking the rice with the nori and seasonings takes everything to a whole new level and I just used any veggies I had on hand. For the sauce, I used Just Mayo and it worked perfectly.
– Ever since discovering that pizza should be cooked at home under the highest heat your oven can handle, my pizza game has been upped by a thousand percent. Sara’s guide to making perfect homemade pizza was what really drove perfect pizza home for me, especially since the rise/make time doesn’t take all day/night. I usually top mine with lots of veggies from the fridge and use a jarred sauce or barbecue sauce to make things easier.
– I’ve been not so great at meal prep and making actual dinners lately (hello tortilla chips for dinner!), but I made a double batch of Pure Ella’s quinoa and chickpea burgers a few weeks ago and they have been a lifesaver. I’ve had them over salad, in a pita and just straight up with some chips on the side.
– Last but not least, snacks! This is totally not sponsored, but I’ve been really into coffee and cinnamon spice peanuts from Lush Gourmet lately. They did kindly send me some nuts to try out, but I have a cake recipe using them coming up next week and it is PERFECT. Trust me.
– After being hooked on binge watching lots of television for the past year or so, I’ve finally transitioned back to reading in my free time! I always love reading and miss it when I don’t do it for a while, but it’s felt refreshing to really get back into getting lost in a book. My favorites this month were The Royal We (seriously, so good!), Stir (food book), and Luckiest Girl Alive. I typically like to mix things up between serious/funny/chick lit and these all provided that. I wouldn’t say Luckiest Girl Alive was the most amazing book, like I had been hearing, but it was still pretty good!
– The Food Blogger Pro podcast has been my main jam when listening to podcasts this month. From interviews with Bjork and Lindsay themselves to a lot of inspiring bloggers, I love the format of this podcast and the info it gives.
– I don’t know how it took me so long, but I finally started listening to the Spilled Milk podcast and LOVE it. The idea of listening to people eat things and talk about them sounds odd, but it really is so good. I just listened to the Melons episode and was laughing like a maniac as I was driving home from work last weekend.
– Chopped Con podcast had a great episode come out a few weeks ago about blog production process and planning and it helped me so much in my search for trying to plan out blog posts in a more efficient way. One of the biggest takeaways for me from this episode was using the talk to text feature to write out blog posts by talking through them. For me, this makes way more sense because I try to write the way I would talk about a recipe, so I’m hoping experimenting with a few tips from the podcast will help my workflow with posts a bit.
– I didn’t do much traveling this month, but this month is a different story. I’ll take any and all recommendations that you have for Kansas City and Boston, food, sightseeing, etc. Lay them on me! Also, I appreciate good airport food recommendations, so I’ll take those too.
Hope you had/have/are having a fabulous weekend! I’ve got a full week ahead of dinner dates, happy hours and lots of baking on the brain. xo
Hi friends! It’s been a while since I’ve done a checking in post, so it’s about time. It seemed like it was just June and I was just getting into the swing of the whole summer thing. Now, we are looking at the end of summer coming up (Noooo!!) and fall quickly approaching. We are having kind of an ‘oh crap’ moment and knocking wedding to-dos off the list left and right, so I’m feeling pretty arm flexing muscle emoji over here. Now, let’s get to the things that I’ve been loving and cooking lately!
– I’m still finding my dinner groove with using up all the summer produce, but vegetable fritters seem to be a perfect way to use up the loads of zucchini I picked up from the farmer’s market. These were an absolute hit for dinner and I couldn’t stop eating them right out of the pan!
– Breakfast! I tend to get into ruts when it comes to breakfast foods. A few weeks ago and it was all toast, all the time, and during the winter I hit the hash browns pretty hard. Current obsession: seedy maple granola from my girl Sara at Cake Over Steak. I added in dried cherries and coconut after it was all baked, so I used it as a clean out the pantry kind of thing. Add almond milk and enjoy!
– Iced tea! I have all these gorgeous peaches and can’t use them up fast enough, so I modified this Thug Kitchen recipe, added peaches and voila! Iced drinks for dayz.
– Less of a recipe and more of a ‘something I can’t live without’: frozen brown rice. For some odd reason, I have an issue cooking rice properly, so finding frozen brown rice was an absolute lifesaver. It also makes it much easier for me to just throw together dinner and have rice ready in a few minutes. I might add soy sauce and sriracha and eat as a snack from time to time, is that weird?
– One of the best parts of wedding planning? CAKE. I went back and forth about what we wanted to do, but finally we decided on getting red velvet cake from an amazing local cafe and bakery in our neighborhood, which also happens to make delicious vegan and gluten free cakes. If anything is important, you know it’s the cake.
– The next big project on my baking to-d0 list is puff pastry or crossaints. After reading this tip about partially freezing olive oil, I think I’ve found the secret to making them work for vegans. Keep your fingers crossed!
– On one last note, vegan paneer? Swoon. Gena knows her vegan cooking inside and out!
What are your plans for the weekend? I’m going to a baseball game and hopefully trying out a cupcake recipe involving raspberry cream cheese frosting. Yes! Soak up the sun and just live that summer life.
This weekend was so full and so lovely, I can’t even start to describe how happy I was the whole dang time. Between eating, sipping on beers, and lots of inflatable beds (seriously, they were everywhere in my house), my heart and house were so full. I couldn’t be more thankful that they all took the time to travel in for a quick weekend and are coming back for our wedding in 6 months (!!). My friends are from all over the country, so I had visitors traveling in from Denver to Philadelphia and it worked out nicely that Milwaukee is right in the middle! I wanted to share the food we ate/cooked and then some of the activities we got up to as well. Let’s do it!
Saturday morning we had a waffle bar for a bridal brunch/shower situation, so we went full on with toppings, syrup and pomegranate mimosas. If you are going to have a mimosa, might as well turn it pink, right? One of my best friends is gluten free, so Cookie and Kate came to the rescue with a perfect waffle recipe for her. I know the recipe has eggs, but if you have gluten free friends and want to make them waffles, this recipe was perfect! My favorite vegan waffle recipe is this one and works each and every time. We made 2 kinds of waffles and just cooked them while everyone started arriving. Earlier in the morning, my Maid of Honor and I cooked up these perfect breakfast potatoes from The Pioneer Woman (with some modifications) and another savory dish to balance out all the sweet. Later on, we munched on peanut butter chocolate rice krispie treats (sharing the recipe soon) and everyone told embarrassing stories about me (thanks guys!).
-Saturday night we had a drink at Blu before heading out for a taco dinner. Normally, this bar has amazing views of the Milwaukee skyline, but of course, it was super cloudy and foggy that night, so we saw a lot of this. Ah well!
-Dinner was tacos and nachos at Bel Air Cantina, which was a perfect laid back place for dinner. The endless chips and trio of salsas are really what speak to me, but you better believe tacos were still consumed too. All the girls loved this place because it offered up options for all the gluten free or vegans in the group, while being so close to home that we could drag ourselves back and fall into bed.
– Sunday brunch is definitely a thing here in Milwaukee. We don’t play around with the garnish on our bloody marys and most places are packed by 10am. Luckily, I made reservations at one of our favorite brunch places, Wolf Peach and it couldn’t have been a more perfect place to take guests. From the wood fired pizzas to the view of the city, this place was perfect for the last day of our ladies’ weekend.
– A couple other places we hit before all the girls flew in were Simple Cafe, Glorioso’s, and Cafe Corazon. All solid choices!
-A lot of the girls were only here for a few days, but we squeezed a lot in! There was eating (obvi) and lots of beer tasting. The Lakefront Brewery tour is the best brewery tour in Milwaukee, in my opinion. The samples are plentiful and the tour guides keep everything going and really entertaining. The tour only lasts about an hour, but they serve food so it was a perfect place to hang around for a bite to eat.
– Have you heard of mini bowling? I know what you are thinking, it’s just bowling..but smaller, right? Yes, but think much smaller, like it’s a few lanes of bowling with a bocce sized ball in a bar. I’ve heard about Koz’s Mini Bowl ever since I’ve moved here, but it exceeded all my expectations. It’s nothing fancy at all, but it’s an awesome way to spend a Sunday afternoon with a group of friends. Also, we didn’t partake, but there was a taco truck parked outside, so bowling+tacos= perfect.
Whew, there you have it! Here are a few more links for you, meals or things I’ve made within the last week and loved. Bon appetit!
– Ashlae’s coconut oil chocolate chip cookies were a perfect snack to have around the house in-between meals. They are crunchy, filled with chocolate and pretty easy to whip together. There is one left in my kitchen and I have a feeling it won’t last long.
– Sometimes I have a hard time finding dinner recipes my fiance and I both like, since we have different types of eating. Last week, I made a half batch of these tamale pies and they were a hit! I used a cornbread mix for the topping and subbed in a few different veggies, so it was super hearty and filling.
– I’m a sucker for stir fry and noodles, so these black pepper noodles were a perfect single lady dinner last week. I was on my own for dinner one night, so I made these and took the rest for lunch the next day.
– Curries are quickly becoming a favorite for dinner, since they are full of flavor and use up a lot of veggies that are in my crisper drawer. This green curry was perfect, easy and fast. Done and done.