Sunday, January 4, 2009

Madcity Girl

A new year, a new look. Updates are in the works at

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas With Grandma D

Christmas picture of my cousins and me with Grandma D

Keeping Tradition Alive

While certainly not my most flattering photo op (my friend Brodie already strongly advised I lose the chin cinched hat ASAP), these are pictures from my annual Christmas Day run with my brother, Kelly. For the last several years, my dad, brother, and I have made it a tradition to run from my parents' house in Brookfield to the Milwaukee lakefront (approximately 10 miles) on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, my dad is currently sidelined with a knee injury, so this year's run wasn't quite the same, but Kelly and I felt like we had to keep the tradition alive and brave the 8-foot snow mounds, uncleared sidewalks, and icy patches, to literally earn our Christmas day feast.

Running to the lakefront has become similar to a rite of passage in our family. I like to do the run each time I visit my parents. My mom made the journey for the first time a few months ago, and has been rewarded accordingly with a coveted spot in our secret sect. I love the run because I get to spend quality time with my family and enjoy memorable conversations (sometimes my dad will ask if there are any new guys in my life, which is always classic). I also love the variety of the route and terrain. During the course of the 10 mile journey, we experience the suburbs, parks and trails, the campus of Marquette University, the ghetto, the city, lakefront, and Milwaukee Art Museum (aka, Mecca).

I definitely love good family and holiday traditions (what could be more memorable?), and our annual Christmas run to the Lakefront is one of my favorites. Although we missed my dad this time, I'm glad my brother and I kept the tradition alive for yet another year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Bliss

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Homemade Holiday Gifts

My favorite holiday gifts for friends are simple and homemade. This year, using an idea I found in a Martha Stewart holiday magazine, I made several batches of my famous homemade granola :), bagged them into 1lb window coffee bags, and decorated with festive ribbons. I bought the coffee bags from an online coffee wholesaler, and used a modified recipe for granola that I found in the Joy of Cooking.

Dinner & Nutcracker

This past Friday night, a few friends and I went out to dinner at the Old Fashioned, followed by a performance of the Nutcracker at the Overture Center. I love the Old Fashioned, and hadn't been there in a while. It's a relatively recent entrant to the Madison dining scene and is essentially a trendy take on a Wisconsin supper club. It's good stuff. I enjoyed a burger, and we all split a $4.50 pitcher of Shlitz. It doesn't get much more Wisconsin than that. Afterwards, we headed to the nearby Overture Center, where we barely arrived in time for the show. The performance was good, but nothing extraordinary. I feel like I've seen the Nutcracker a bazillion times, and this performance wasn't particularly noteworthy, except for when two of the professional dancers fell on their butts during two seperate sequences. When does that ever happen?

Two Chicago Favorites

P.O.S.H. (613 N. State Street)

Chriskindlmarket (Daley Plaza)

P.O.S.H. (613 N. State Street) is one of my favorite stores in Chicago. Unlike the nearby homogenous big box stores, this cozy storefront, tucked just off Michigan Avenue, features an eclectic assortment of antique and vintage china, dinnerware, glassware, and flea market finds. It’s the perfect place to find very unique gifts and trinkets. I found a great Christmas present for my parents there during my most recent visit, the details of which I obviously can't yet divulge. I always make an effort to stop at POSH each time I'm in Chicago. The store also offers online sales. Not quite the same experience, but a nice option nonetheless.

More of a seasonal favorite, Christkindlmarket is the largest German holiday market outside of Germany. For the last 12 years, the event has been held daily on Daley Plaza from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. The market features a very large Christmas tree, nativity scene, daily dance and music entertainment, and vendors from Germany, Ukraine, Austria, and Chicago, selling beer, spiced wine, baked goods, toys, and handmade holiday ornaments.

I've made the trip to Chistindlmarket in December for the last several years. Last week, I met up with my friend and college roommate, KJ (Kristen), to enjoy the outdoor market. It was the coldest day in Chicago I've experienced, so shopping outside wasn't terribly pleasant, but we still had a good time. We enjoyed a lunch of traditional German potato pancakes with apple sauce, brats, and hot apple cider in the warming hut. Afterwards, we stocked up with traditional German candy and roasted nuts at the "Sweet Castle" and perused the beautiful handmade ornaments. Chriskindlmarket is definitely a beloved Chicago tradition, and a must-see during the holiday season.