Saturday, December 22, 2012

Milwaukee Faves: Usinger's at Christmas

Milwaukee is notorious for beer and brats. We know it. Both Miller Valley and Usinger's sausage deck out the halls for Christmas. Usinger's makes all kinds of sausage and still sells it in their Third Street location downtown.

It's really a beautiful building - like stepping back in time. The meat counter is marble, german frescos of their iconic elves working line the walls. In Milwaukee, Elves make Usinger's sausage. For the rest of the world, they make Santa's toys. So it was hard to rationalize as a kid why the sausage elves were made to work two jobs.

Usinger's puts up some great moving window displays and even have a mini Bavarian village in the windows for Christmas. I love going in and looking around....and inevitably walking out with a pound of knackwurst. Around Christmas, the lines are long, but if you're looking for a last minute Milwaukee gift, the gift shop next door to the storefront sells gift baskets with cheese and sausage. Go and check it out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

10 Milwaukee Holiday Gifts

{My Christmas shopping is just about done, but this is truly a first. I was often the lady running in the background of the 5 o'clock news piece on last minute shoppers at the mall. Luckily, I figured out that shopping locally affords you an extra week of procrastination. Hurrah! And it supports Milwaukee, which I'm down for. So here is my 2012 list for great Milwaukee purchases (including where to buy them). For more ideas check out the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Guides.}

- Janelle Gramling Pillow, from the Milwaukee based designer is $58 (see her Facebook page for a 20% off discount code).

- Hugh Bob and the Hustle's latest album is on my top 10 list this year- pick it up at the Exclusive Company or on iTunes, $10.

- Milwaukee Beer Soap, $5. Purchase at Groom, Outpost, The Brass Rooster, or Glorioso's.

- Plushzilla are just too cute. Find them on Etsy, Sparrow Collective, or ReThreads for $15-$25

- City Tins, $25, (aka my favorite gift to give) are sold out online but are still available at Outpost and the Public Market. Madison City Tins now available, too!

- Bolzano Meats has salami and other meats available at these these places. Or give the gift of a charcuterie class.

- An annual membership to the Milwaukee Art Museum ranges from $25 to &75 will never disappoint.

- Amerique 1912 Absinthe Rogue from Great Lakes Distillery is $35 and great for a hostess gift or for the cocktail buff.

- Koss Headphones, $79, look sharp but don't cost a fortune. Shop their outlet on Port Washington Rd.

- Milwaukee Lakefront bandana from HANmade is so lovely, $18. Purchase online or at Broadway Paper.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Live Show: Sufjan Stevens Christmas

Ok, well the office title of the show was "The Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long, with Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice", but I digress. If you haven't been spinning the Sufjan Stevens Christmas albums, I highly recommend it. There's only so many times I can listen to "White Christmas"...sorry Bing. So last night, he and the band came to town in a Flaming Lips- meet- Yo Gabba Gabba style interactive experience at Turner Hall. Yes, there was kitsch and ugly Christmas sweaters, but a few very notable sentimental moments as well. I tried to take a few pictures on my iPhone but then I realized that my friend CJ will always, ALWAYS take better pictures than me (um, did you see my post yesterday?). So here are his photos from last night's show.

Sartorial bucket list: Cowboy boots

Cowboy boots have been on the sartorial wish list or bucket list for ....quite....some time now. They're a good thing to have around. Sometimes an outfit just needs a little rockabilly added. That, and for when Taylor Swift comes back to town (we all have vices, folks). I found these Volatile Denver boots in Camel on sale at Ma Jolie at Bayshore Mall for $68. For pleather, they look pretty good. I've been pairing them with black skinnies, tunic tops and my cheetah scarf.

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to make a cheese plate

I do love my cheese. So when I discovered on that I come from a long line of cheese makers from Switzerland, so not surprised. I could eat the good stuff all day long. And when I walk into a party and see a well-curated cheese plate, I stop and applaud (slowly like this). This year we're hosting Christmas brunch, and I'll be putting together the ultimate cheese plate for an appetizer. They're easy to do and everyone loves them - a hostesses favorite things. Here are my tips on what makes a really good cheese plate.......
Step One: Pick a board. I like old wooden cutting boards or chopping blocks, but you can also use white trays, slate, or chalkboard.

Step Two: Pick your items. Cheese, of course. For a group of 4-6, I like to pick 3 or 4 cheese with one common denominator (same region / same style / same texture). For larger groups, throw in something unexpected like balsamic marinated mozzarella or brie with honey. Next, choose compliments such as nuts, dried fruit, arugula, currants, salami, or jam.

Step Three: Smaller is better. I don't like overly crowded cheese plates. It's fine to set the cheese onto a bed of cranberries, but just don't let the cheeses touch each other. That's a cheese-mongering faux paus. If you're having a lot of guests, break it up. Set out a couple cheese plates.

Step Four: Figure out the mechanics. Some cheeses are fine to cut and eat by hand, but some, especially soft cheeses like boursin are best with crackers or crostini. I like the idea of putting the bread separate, but a few toasted baguette slices look pretty nice on the plate, too. Set out small knives for slicing or spreading. Utilize ramekins or even shot glasses for separating honey, jam, mustard, or spreads. Even nuts in small bowls looks nice. Labels aren't 100% necessary but can be helpful (and fun)!

Images found via 1., 2., 3., 4., 5.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Christmas List

Dear family,
Since things like a new tile shower, a credit card payment, and textbooks would make a pretty weird Christmas gift, I made a list with more traditional items and posted it HERE on Pinterest!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday morning brunch

I hate to be one of those people who post pictures of their all food, but some things are just took good looking not to take a picture of. For example, the eggs benedict at Honeypie Cafe in Bay View. Two poached eggs with roasted tomato hollandaise and pulled ham. I kind of think it would be funny to have an ironic photo album of "greatest meals" - instagrams of plates of food. This one would make the book.


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