Monday, March 30, 2009

Sharpen those pencils!

The Brodhead Chamber of Commerce is working on a grant to bring a Smithsonian Exhibit, “Key Ingredients: America by Food” right here to Green County.

The Chamber Director, Lea Brookman, is writing the prosposal, and the chamber needs to public's help too. No, they are not looking for sponsors or money. All they need is some local people to write letters of support.

Only six communities in Wisconsin will have the opportunity to host this traveling exhibit, and having it here in Green County could be a potential tourism boon for Brodhead. The exhibit focuses on food, and that is certainly something we know about in this area!

The letters should focus on support for bringing the exhibition here as well as ideas for programs that local businesses, service organizations and community groups could do to complement the exhibit. Major parts of the exhibit focus on the history of food systems, farming, kitchen gadgetry, and markets. There are great opporunities for groups in the area to tie the exhibit in to our rich dairy and cheesemaking history, our family farm history, and other local specialties.

Since applications will be chosen not only on geographic distribution of the proposed sites and the physical display space but also the demonstrated local commitment and proposals for complementary programs, your letter of support and your ideas could make all the difference in bringing this Smithsonian exhibit to Brodhead.

Please write a letter and send it to Lea Brookman by April 9, 2009. If you are writing on behalf of a local organization, please consider including what your group does, how it fits with the project, what your group could contribute to the experience of the exhibit, and any proposed programs (like educational ideas, tours, whatever!).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Making a lasting impact

Over on our website, Monroe Area Real Estate, we proudly display two balloon logos. One is the Re/Max balloon, naturally. The other is one that we are especially honored to display.
The Children's Miracle Network is a very worthy charity. It is one that we support, along with the rest of our office here in Monroe. Re/Max Towne Square has earned the designation of "Miracle Network Office".

If you have ever bought or sold a home, chances are your realtor gave you a small gift at the closing table. A plant, a bottle of wine, magazine subscription, food goods. Luis and I tend to avoid these goods. Instead, we give something that has a more lasting impact.

We take part of our commission and give a generous donation to Children's Miracle Network in our buyer or seller's name.

Thank you to all of our clients over the last year. You have helped us to do our part in Re/Max US and Canada giving eight million dollars to Children's Miracle Network in 2008.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a contemporary home in Monroe.

Don't miss this fabulous contemporary home!

If you are like us, you know you have driven by this home and wondered what it was like. It does not disappoint. Quality shows, and right away you will notice the quality construction used to when making this home. Come inside and enjoy the combination of today's decor along with fashionable retro styling details.

The large open living space has a soaring vaulted ceiling with the fireplace taking center stage as it reaches all the way up. This space is bright and sunny with a wall of atrium windows, perfect for bringing in reluctant winter sun to life your spirits or nurture delicate plants. The roomy kitchen has granite counter tops, a built-in eating area and hip cork floors. The three bedrooms and two bathrooms are all generously sized. Downstairs, a finished basement awaits. Entertain the entire extended family or let the teens and kids hang out in this large area. The large lot is in a great location near the schools.

If cookie cutter ranches are not for you and you enjoy quality homes with well planned details, you must come see this home.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Things to Do around Monroe, WI

Hold on to your hats, it is a busy weekend in the area!

~ Artisan Gallery in Paoli is having an opening reception for Joel Wish: New Work in Pastel & Digital Photographs & Five by Seven: Five works by seven artist. The reception will be on Friday evening startimg at 5 pm.

~ The 39th Annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show will take place on Saturday and Sunday from 9am - 5pm at Monroe High School. Come explore earth sciences in a fun and festive way. There will be cool demonstrations, interesting displays, fun stuff for the kids.

~ The Monroe City Band is having their annual Cabaret Show on Saturday evening at Turner Hall starting at 8 pm. Admission is free.

~ Winneshiek Playhouse in Freeport will have a concert by solo acoustic guitarist Michael Gulezian on Saturday beginning at 7:30.

~ Also on Saturday, come hear Voices Unlimited at the Monroe Arts Center. Thoughtfully crafted arrangements, a masterful use of tight, five-part harmonies, infectious rhythms, and exhilarating improvisations all characterize this group's unique style.

~ There will be a wine tasting at the new Vince's Ristorante & Pizzeria on Monday evening. There will be two different wine companies there, and you will be able to sample up to twelve wines. There are two dining options: wine sampling and choice of two appetizers for $20.00 (plus tax and tip); or wine sampling, choice of two appetizers, soup or salad, choice of two main courses and dessert for $37.95 (plus tax and tip). Please call for reservations, 608-328-3222.

~ Get your tickets now for the upcoming performances of "Godspell" by the Monroe Theatre Guild. The shows will be on the first and second weekends of April. Also, sign up for MTG's upcoming theater classes.

For even more area events,visit Green County Spotlight or Stephensen County CVB.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Can that home handle modern life?

Monroe and the Green County area have been home to people for many decades. There are homes in the area that date back 50, 100 or even 150 years.

Our lifestyles have changed as the years have gone by. Naturally, these older homes have been modernized to keep up with the changing times, but the degree of change in a home can vary a great deal.

If you are looking at an older home, pay attention not just to the stunning woodwork or charming quirks, but also look for some of the things that will make your modern life in the home easier.

Are the outlets in each room? How many? Many older homes tend to only have a few outlets run to some rooms, especially bedrooms. This can limit your ability to arrange furniture as well as limiting the types of electronic systems that can go into the rooms.

Does the home have light switches? This sounds silly, but do look. There are a fair number of homes in the area that do not have light switches in the bedrooms. Instead, they have wall lights or outlets for lamps. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but if you have younger children, it could matter a lot.

Has the electrical system been updated? Your home inspector can tell you more about the electrical system, but if you have any doubts, write an offer to purchase allowing for an inspection of the electrical system by a qualified electrician.

How many cable jacks and telephone outlets are there in the home? Are they positioned in rooms that you want them in? It can be a simple project to run outlets and jacks to the places you want them, but it could also be very difficult depending on how those old walls were constructed.

Does the home have the wiring necessary for DSL or high speed internet? Many people get around this issue by setting up wireless internet in their older homes, but if you prefer to be hard wired, you will want to check for internet infrastructure in the home.

How modern is the thermostat? Is it programmable? This can be a simple update if necessary, but a programmable thermostat will help reduce your heating and cooling costs.

I am a huge fan of older homes, but they are different from newer construction. By going in with eyes wide open, buyers can save themselves headache and heartache later down the road.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Little bit of this, little bit of that

I often come across little snippets that are just too short for a full post here, but still are things worth spreading the word on. Today's post is a compilation of some of these announcements.

The Green County Humane Society is featuring special pricing on all cats and kittens in the months of March and April. Kittens up to one year old can adopted during this time at the price of two for $63. One kitten is available for $32. Two adult cats can be adopted for $30, or one adult cat for $15. As with all pets from the Green County Humane Society, the pets are checked are vets and are up to date on all necessary shots. Visit the Green County Humane Society website for more information.

As a class project for the Green County Leaders program, some area residents are doing a survey on Community Networking. Please help out by filling out the survey. It takes just a minute. Community Networking Survey

The streetscaping project in Downtown Monroe will be starting as the weather begins to warm up. If you have not had the opportunity to see plans, visit the Monroe Main Street website and view the documents in the design gallery. There will likely be a little inconvenience for us all during the construction, but the project will take care of some much needed underground repairs while at the same time improving the flow and appearance of our downtown area. I for one am very excited about it and can't wait to see the finished project.

The City of Monroe has canceled Spring Clean Up days this year to increased costs. Never fear - there are options for getting those unwanted items out of your home! Consider posting on the Green County Freecycle list anything that is in usable condition, wood or other building supplies, or metal and other materials that could be recyclable. There are people who would be happy to take these things off your hands for you. You also can take your recyclable metals to Behr in Monroe to sell yourself. If you have trash that needs to be removed, you can take it to the Green County Landfill. It is located at W2002 CTH SS between Monroe and Brodhead. You can call 608-897-8605 with any questions; the cost is quite nominal at $5 for up to about 300 lbs or $34 per ton. They are open 7 until 3 Monday through Friday. Read our post on Out with the Old from New Year's for some more options on what to do with your unneeded items.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a custom home near Monroe.

This one a kind home is filled with upgrades galore. There are elegant arches over doorways and windows and flowing curved walls. Enter the home into the large living room with gas fireplace. There is a formal dining room with hardwood floors, beautiful lighting and long views from the large window. There is an oversized curved sunroom with hot tub and panoramic views of the countryside. The custom maple kitchen has tons of storage and a breakfast bar. You have to see the size of the pantry to believe it. Stay comfortable all winter long thanks to the in floor radiant heat, R-70 ceiling insulation and R-25 wall insulation.

The bedrooms are all oversized with enormous walk-in closets. The main floor master bedroom opens with double doors into a surprisingly large room that could be a home office, study, den, family media room, toy room or nursery. This room has a custom mural by local artist Suzanne Miller gracing one entire wall. Downstairs, you will have another larger family room as well as two more bedrooms, a full bathroom and a walkout to the patio and yard.

The home is fully handicap accessible with no stairs at any of the entrances; 8' garage doors to accommodate taller vehicles; large doorways; low pile carpeting; keyless entry and two way swinging doors from the extra-large garage; wide, shallow stairs on the strengthened staircase to the lower level and more.

Outside the landscaped yard offers room for the kids or grandkids to play. There is a large Cleary building on the property for extra storage of all those big boy toys or for a workshop. The home security system will offer you peace of mind.

Located in the desirable Edelweiss subdivision, you will be only moment from Monroe. This custom home is truly special and a must see.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Things to Do around Monroe, WI

So, what is on the calendar in the upcoming days?

~ The Dining Room at 209 Main in Monticello is having an Indian Cooking Class on Sunday, March 22 and Tuesday March 24. Learn to make mild and hot homemade curry powder. There will also be carrot chutney, cucumber mint raita, chick pea salad, and rice and lentils. $60 for the class and food. Space is still available according to the website. Contact them at 938-2200 for more information.

~ Moonspinners of Northern Illinois is having their monthly meeting tonight, Wednesday, March 18, from 7 until 9 pm at the Orangeville Methodist Church. Spinners of all skill level from complete novice to expert are welcome to attend.

~ Calling all kids! The Monroe Lego Club will be meeting on Saturday, March 21 from noon until 3 pm in the community room of the Monroe Public Library. Lego lovers of all ages are invited to come and build with the Legos provided. Bring your creations to display, but please leave the legos at home to prevent mix-ups.

~ Movie and popcorn. Are you in the mood for a classic date night? Goetz Theater on the southeast side of Monroe is the place to go. Now showing: Coraline, Race to Witch Mountain and Watchmen. Call 325-4545 for specific showtimes. Coming soon are Knowing, and Monsters versus Aliens.

~ The next session of the Revitalizing Wisconsin's Downtown webinars is scheduled for Thursday, March 19 from 12:00-1:30 at Wisconsin Community Bank. This month’s theme is “Creating an Entrepreneurial Climate Downtown.” The webinars are hosted by Main Street, UW Extension and Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry. $12.50 includes lunch. Contact Cara Carper at 328-9441 to register.

~ Zone Health Care in Monroe is sponsoring a free seminar on detoxifying your body on Thursday, March 19 from 8 until 9 pm in the community room at Amcore Bank on Monroe’s Downtown Square.

~ There will be a community drumming circle in Freeport at Oakdale Nature Preserve on Friday evening from 7 until 9 pm. A variety of drums and shakers are provided, and drumming experiences is not necessary. Families are welcome. We've been to these, and they are fantastic events.

~ Zweifel Brothers are playing at the New Glarus Hotel on Friday and Saturday evenings. Enjoy your meal and stay for the entertainment. They begin playing at 7:30 pm.

~ Have you registered for Diva Daze in Monroe? If not, call your sisters or girlfriends, fill out the registration form and make you plans to attend this fun filled weekend. Wine tasting and appetizers, buffet brunch, shopping, style shows, swag bags, “Women in the Arts”, entertainment options – wheeee! It will be a weekend to relax and enjoy. Diva Daze happens March 26 through 28.

~ Senator Russ Feingold will be having a town hall listening session at the New Glarus town hall on Saturday starting at 3:45. Senator Feingold is a great guy and great senator, so come out to meet him.

~ The Freeport Public Library Foundation is hosting another lecture in their American History series. Jim Phillips is presenting "Dawn at Weehawken: The Duel Between Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr" on Wednesday, March 25 at 7 pm.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Staging is for everyone

When something if familiar, we tend to take it for granted and stop seeing it as clearly. This is a fact that home sellers need to be aware of.

When you are selling your home, consider having an extra set of eye walk through to look for the things your might not notice any more. Perhaps the friend who seems to have the Midwest Living quality home can give you some advice. Consider a staging consultation, offered free for all of our sellers.

If you can, hire a professional staging service. The costs to modernize window treatments, paint colors and art work can be minimal, and the payback in higher selling price and quicker selling time can be enormous. Some people also consider furniture rental for vacant homes; this can turn vast empty spaces into a home the buyers can see themselves living in. The cost of professional staging services is often less than you think. One nearby company lists costs as $195 for a do it yourself guide filled with suggestions of things like paint colors and where to put your furniture. A complete home staging using your furnishing runs $595 to $895 (furniture and accessory rental extra). According to industry data, staged homes spend 80% less time on the market, and staging costs have up to a 578% return on investment.

If a professional stager is not in your budget, there are still some simple things you can do to help your home show better:
  • Remove all the personal photographs. You love to see your wedding photo, your children and grandchildren, but the goal is to have buyers see themselves in your home. Your family's faces on the wall tells the buyer this is your home, not theirs.
  • Declutter. You are moving, right? So pack away the knick knack collections. Clear the appliances and papers off the kitchen counters. Have the entry areas clear inside and out.
  • If your furniture is older or dated, invest in some modern slip covers to freshen them up.
  • Remove any dated window coverings and replace them with more modern pieces. This can be done inexpensively by shopping discount stores or even the local Swiss Colony outlet store.
  • Put away the silk flower arrangements and replace them with a few real plants throughout your home. Don't go for a jungle, but a few glossy green plants or succulents in the kitchen and living spaces can modernize things.
  • Take a weekend to fix the little things: broken light switches, door latches, holes in the walls, off-track sliding doors, missing trim pieces, etc. Invest in a little paint to freshen up any dated color schemes or spongepainting.
  • Buyers will see everything, so make sure your home is clean for every showing. The bathroom should sparkle, the corners of the rooms should be dust-free, windows should be free from little handprints.
Staging can be time and money very well spent, making a difference in how quickly your home sells and how much your home sells for.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Local Foods + Business = Success

Food plays a large role in our lives here in Green County. Family farms grow food, raise animals and milk cows. Our many cheese factories create award winning cheese. CSAs and market farmers grow vegetables. Established businesses like Swiss Colony, Minhas Brewery and New Glarus Brewery distribute goods nationwide.

There is a new initiative beginning that has the goal of getting more of our local foods into local homes as well as helping people start the value-added food businesses they have always dreamed of, but never had the resources or support to begin. The group, sponsored by UW Extension, is currently doing a survey to assess demand for a community kitchen in order to secure funding.

If you currently have a small local food business, from jelly making to cake decorating, or if you dream of a business, please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey. Green County Community Kitchen Survey If you yourself do not have these dreams, but you know of someone in the area who has an amazing salsa, if your neighbor gives away batches of delicious kettle chips, if your cousin creates sublime fudge, please pass this along. Sometimes all it takes is a suggestion and some support for a business to grow out of a hobby.

The group is also promoting two events this spring and summer along the local foods and business theme. See Jane Grow is a workshop presented by local author, business owner and director of the Rural Women’s Project, Lisa Kivirist. The workshop is described as "bringing together various tools, resources and networking opportunities for women passionate about food and agriculture." See Jane Grow is free, but pre-registration is required. Contact Cara at UW Extension (328-9431) to register. This event takes place at Kookaburra's on Monroe's Square on the evening of April 30, and it is co-sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Blackhawk Technical College and Green County Development Corporation.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council has also given the group a grant to fund a three part potluck discussion series this June, July and August. Stirring the Pot: Dialogue, Discussion and Dinner in Dairyland will feature a cooking demonstration, potluck and topical discussion led by national local food leaders each month. Mark your calendar for June 17, July 15 and August 19. The family friendly events will bring together area farmers, chefs, educators and anyone who appreciates our area’s rich food and agriculture traditions.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kidz Kloset in Monroe, WI

There is a window on the south side of Monroe's Downtown Square that often shows little hand prints and nose marks. The kids cannot help themselves; the toys and clothes in the window display at Kidz Kloset are so colorful and fun that getting closer is the natural thing to do.

Kidz Kloset has a great selection of clothing and shoes for infants and toddlers, plus a selection of wonderful pieces for preschoolers and elementary age boys and girls. Once glance, one touch will let you know these are not big box store items. Finding durable children's clothing locally is a wonderful treat for those of us who call Green County home. The heavy cotton girls tights are brightly patterened, the boy's clothing are classic pieces, and I like knowing that I can find age appropriate clothing for our elementary aged girls here.

If you need a gift for a baby in your life, Kidz Kloset is the perfect place to go. Angie offers a wonderful selection of baby and toddler items that you will not find anywhere else in the area: baptismal clothing and gifts, brightly patterned soft soled shoes, touch and feel books, taggie balls or blankets and so much more. Don't miss the adorable Bee Squeaky shoes. They squeak with every step your toddler takes. Our little one thinks they are so much fun that he dances every time he wears his!

Kidz Kloset has more to offer than just clothing. Angie has been expanding the selection of toys and games over the last few years. It is our first stop for birthday presents nowadays. There are puzzles and toys from Melissa and Doug's, crafting kits from Creativity for Kids, read and do sets from Klutz, great toys from Toysmith and more. I can walk in and find presents for infants through tweens in a matter of minutes, and Angie will wrap them for me for free. During the holidays, distract the kids at the small play area in the back. Angie or her staff will help you stash your gifts behind the counter without the kids noticing.

Kidz Kloset is the kind of store that makes Monroe such a special place to be. It has all of the fun and the quality merchandise of stores in the nearby big cities, but it is right here in Monroe, and I don't have to pay any extra for the convenience of shopping locally. I couldn't wish for anything better than that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Things to Do around Monroe, WI

What to do, what to do. Here is a sampling of the upcoming events in the Monroe area:

~ Young Professionals of Green County is having a speed networking event at Blackhawk Technical College on Thursday evening beginning at 5 pm.

~ The Monroe Public Library has their annual St Patrick's Day event on Saturday, March 14 from 11 until 2. Enjoy stories at 12 and 1 pm, and crafts throughout with Miss Kris and the Volunteens.

~ The Browntown Firemen's Dance is on Saturday evening starting at 7 pm at the Civic Center in Browntown. Support the small town fire department with a fun evening out.

~ Saturday evening is also the Green County Harmony Chorus annual show! Listen to sounds of All that Jazz, Skyline, Adamz Applez and more at the Monroe High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for adults. Show starts at 7:30.

~ If a pub crawl is more your speed, join the Celtic Pub Crawl in Monroe. Contact Tracy at 608.328.4404 for details.

~ Get on your green! The annual St Patrick's Day parade on Monroe's Downtown Square is on Tuesday, March 17 starting at 5:17 pm. Enter your pet in the best costume contest sponsored by Green County Humane Society. If you have a child who wants to be in the parade, all are welcome to join Miss Kris from the Monroe Public Library. Bring your quarters to buy popcorn from Shakespeare on the Edge and help support this great group of teens.

~ The Stephenson County Home Show is going on Saturday and Sunday at the YMCA complex on Pearl City Rd in Freeport. Come see over 70 local businesses and get ideas for building and remodeling.

~ There is still time to enroll the kids in Monroe Theatre Guild's workshops for Saturday. Learn the art of physical comedy, Elizabethan sword fighting for the stage, or both. Contact MTG for additional information or registration.

~ Plan ahead now for Chocolate Temptation's next Chocolate Fondue Night! The Valentine's Day event was so popular that they are doing it again on March 28. There are two seatings: 5:30 and 7 pm. Call Robbyn at 328-2462 to make your reservations now before they fill up again.

Please visit Green County Spotlight or Stephenson County CVB for additional events.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Location, location, location

Everyone knows the classic realtor phrase "Location, location, location." There is a reason this phrase became cliche. When you are buying a house, pay careful attention to your location.

Where do you want to live? What lifestyle do you want? Do you want a larger lot in the country? Do you want to live close to work? Are school systems important to your family?

These are all things that are important to think about as you begin looking at homes. Consider both what features you will look for in a home as well as what location features you want.

Homes in town tend to have smaller lots than those in the country. The neighbors will be closer, and your taxes will likely be higher. You will be closer to schools and urban amenities. City services like police and fire will be closer to you, and you won't have to worry about trash pick up. If you live in the same Green County community as you work, your commute will be short or you could bike to work. This can be an important consideration if gas prices climb again.

Some people prefer country homes. There is space to spread out, put in the outbuildings to store your classic cars. You can garden or perhaps keep animals. The views can be majestic. In a rural subdivision, you will still have nearby neighbors. You may have home owners association rules and covenants. When you live in the country, pizza delivery won't be available, and your children will have to be bussed or driven to school. You may feel safer letting the kids bike on the surrounding roads, or you may worry about leaving the teens home alone in the semi-rural setting.

Urban or rural? Subdivision, downtown or a home on ten acres? Look at your lifestyle, your wants and your needs, then narrow down the location that works best for you.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thank you Midwest Living!

The latest issue of Midwest Living recognizes what we have known for a long time - this is a great place to be!

The new travel trends are apparently shorter trips closer to home; wanting to see real communities, not just tourist venues; and focusing on food. Southwest Wisconsin fits this description beautifully, and area communities are featured in the section of the article called "Surprisingly Hip Small Towns."

Eat local. Go green. Support independent businesses and artistic communities. These are all things we have been doing in the area for a long time, and the article recognizes that travel tastes are catching up with us.

Both Monroe and Monticello are mentioned in the article, along with area communities like Spring Green, Mount Horeb and Mineral Point. All of these towns are within about sixty to ninety minutes of Monroe, and I have to second Midwest Living's opinion that they are places to visit. Stay in one of our local B&B's and town hop for a few days to explore this area of wonderful arts and food yourself. Spend one or two days on your bike along the Sugar River Trail to work off some of the meals you enjoy at our surprisingly good restaurants. See for yourself why Midwest Living felt the Sugar River Trail, Earth Rider Inn, The Dining Room at 209 Main (the Monticello restaurant it references), and Monroe are worth the visit.

If you are planning a visit to the area, visit our website for an article with area resources for traveling green as well as local lodging options which include the aforementioned Earth Rider Inn along with another B&B that is a nationally recognized top 10 eco-destination.

Come visit. Enjoy the quiet of our bike trails, back roads and state parks or the flair of our concerts, plays, arts venues, and dining establishments. Cars will stop for you when you cross the downtown streets; people will smile and say hi.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Things to Do around Monroe, WI

Lots going on in the area in the upcoming days!

~ Monroe Theatre Guild is a happening place in the next week! Tons going on at the Stage Building in Monroe.
  • Dancing with Marlene: This dance class is a bargain! The five week class started last week, but anyone interested can still register and join us this week. The class runs from 6:30 until 7:30 on Thursdays, and the prorated price is only $8 for memeber for the remaining classes. Luis and I are taking it, and it is so much fun. Learn swing, polka, waltz, line dances and more.
  • Youth Improv Workshop: Dave Bristow is leading this workshop for people age 14-24. Learn the art of Improv comedy and acting. Cost is $30 for the 4.5 hour class. Registration is officially finished, but there may still be room. Contact MTG for more information.
  • Classic Movie Night: Come watch Casablanca with MTG members on Saturday evening. Enjoy their theatre seating and pick up some popcorn at their concessions. Stick around after the showing for post-movie discussion. 7 pm
~ Music! If you want to hear live music, this is the weekend for you.
  • Keith Gennerman Band is playing at the New Glarus Hotel on Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30 pm.
  • Dave Cox is playing blues and rock at Baumgartner's on Saturday night at 8 pm. Come listen to Cox's mix of blues and rock, enjoy a Lazy Mutt or peppermint hot cocoa and a cheese sandwich.
  • Joel Pingitore and the PlayGround of Sound! is playing at Toffler's in New Glarus on Saturday evening at 9 pm.
  • Turner Hall has another Dance and Dine event featuring the Keith Zweifel Band on Sunday from 2 until 6 pm.
~ Stop by the United Methodist Church on Saturday morning for the Boy Scouts Troop 180 annual Pancake Breakfast. Adults are $6, kids 10 and under are $3. The breakfast runs from 7 am until noon.

~ The 22nd annual Monroe FFA Farm Toy Show takes place at the Monroe High School on Sunday from 9 am until 3 pm. There will be over 120 tables of old & new tractors, Nascar, farm displays and farm related toys as well as vendors from three states. Admission is $3, kids 10 and under are free.

~ Winneshiek Playhouse in Freeport is showing a production of The Vagina Monologues on Saturday March 7 and March 14 at 7:30 pm. It is sponsored by the Freeport Art Museum, and proceeds will go to support VOICES, a Freeport group working to prevent violence against women and girls. Tickets are $12.

~ The Monroe Public Library is hosting another Celebrando Storytime on Tuesday, March 1o. Bring the kids for stories in both English and Spanish along with games and a craft. Everything is presented in both languages, so you do not have to be bilingual to attend. Stories start at 6:30 pm in the community room at the library.

~ Young Professionals of Green County is having another Bowl-o-Rama at Turner Hall on Wednesday, March 11 starting at 6 pm. $10 for bowling, pizza and soda.

This is just a sampling of local events. Check out Green County Spotlight or Stephenson County CVB for more events.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Knitting, spinning, dyeing. Oh my!

Every spring, fiber arts enthusiasts have reason to celebrate as the Stephenson County Fiber Arts Fair takes place right in our own back yard.

This fun fair has something for everyone. There is workshops offered in a variety of fiber arts every year. This year's line up will teach participants how to spin with beads, needle tat or paint yarn and the basics of Entralac knitting, Kumihimo weaving, and felting (wet and dry). There is also a spinning wheel workshop to help people learn to "get the most out of your wheel" (bring your own spinning wheel).

There are always vendors on hand to feed any fiber arts enthusiasts stash. I will be on the prowl for some nice sock yarns and another set of bamboo double pointed needles, but I know from previous years experience that there array of choices will be stunning and include a huge variety of yarns and rovings, lots of needles for knitting and crochet, accessories, and supplies galore for any fiber art from needle felting to weaving and everything in between.

Join in the fun and enter the drop spindle spinning competition. Watch this ancient art, and perhaps you will see why I am so tempted every year to give a go myself.

The fair happens on April 18 from 9 am until 5 pm at the Jane Addams Community Center in Cedarville, IL, about halfway between Monroe and Freeport.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Business Spotlight: Bauman Kitchens and Giftware

On the east side of Monroe's historic Downtown Square sits a store that has been a Monroe fixture for over 50 years: Bauman Kitchens and Giftware.

When we first moved to Monroe, Luis became entranced by the musical chimes that played whenever we walked into some of the Downtown businesses. A conversation with Scott over at Chocolate Temptation led us to Bauman Kitchens, the store selling the chimes and so much more. We have been back often over the years.

Like so many stores in the area, Bauman Kitchens has wonderfully eclectic offering of goods. Walk in, and you see racks of collectibles and gift items. Figurine lines include Precious Moments, Seraphim Angels, My Little Kitchen Fairies, Cherished Teddies and more. They offer a large collection of Rossi cranberry glass and leaded crystal items too. You will find gifts large and small, something for every taste and every budget in the giftware areas that span three floors.

As the name implies, Bauman Kitchens also has items for the kitchen, but most people who are not from the area do not realize that they also design kitchens here. A Bauman Kitchen is a selling point always mentioned by realtors around here.

If you are not in the market for an entirely new kitchen, but are just looking for a few items for your kitchen, Bauman Kitchens can help too. They carry a variety of wine and cheese items, cookie cutters, various sea salts and peppercorns along with mills, specialty pans, and lot of gadgets.

Bauman Kitchens and Giftware is open Monday through Friday from 9 am until 5 pm, Saturdays from 9 am until 4 pm and Sundays (during the winter holiday shopping season only) from noon until 4 pm.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Green Your Yard Care

It may be a chilly 16 degrees at the moment, but we Wisconsin natives know that spring is just around the corner. Now is the time to start planning yard care and gardening for the upcoming warm weather.

Taking some small steps in your yard care this year can have a big payoff for nature. Standard yard care in the US dumps chemicals into our soil and spews pollutants into the air.

Mowing a yard with a gas powered lawn mower or using a gas powered leaf blower produces a lot of hydrocarbons. Do it the old fashioned way instead. Take the kids outside, get out the rakes and spend some fun family time raking up winter's debris instead of blowing it. If you have an average city or suburban yard, consider a reel lawn mower. These are quiet, good exercise and easy enough that we let the kids use ours to mow the lawn. It takes about the same amount of time as using a gas mower.

Another thing to consider this year is a rain barrel. Depending on the type of yard and garden you have, you will probably need to water somethings this summer. Sprinklers are convenient, but they end up watering a lot more than just the vegetables I want them to soak. A rain barrel is an easy way to capture the drops from summer storms and funnel them to the garden later. They are available commercially for about $100 and up. It is quite easy to build your own. Here is a video on doing it yourself: