Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

Time to look ahead to what is happening in the next week or so.

~ There is still a little bit of time to register for tomorrow's See Jane Grow workshop led by Lisa Kivirist of Inn Serendipity and hosted at Kookaburra's in Monroe. I just spoke with Lisa, and while there are 20 registered attendees, there is still room for a few more.

~ The Monticello Historical Museum opens for the season on Saturday. They will be unveiling a new exhibit, Jim Town, and there will be a Civil War Living History Encampment. The encampment will be across from the fire department at the end of Main Street, and it will open at 9 am. The museum opens at 10 am, and there will be a parade at 1:30 pm. Following the parade, the City Band will have a concert at 2 pm in Community Park (alternate location is the school gym in case of inclement weather). Free, but donations are appreciated.

~ Time is running out to register a team for the annual Big Brothers and Big Sisters Bowl For Kids Sake. The event takes place over the next week and half at area bowling alleys. Register your team and gather your pledges, then lace up your bowling shoes.

~ The UW Extension Master Gardeners are having a plant sale in the Auditorium of the Government Services building on Saturday from 9 until noon. They will have perennials, annuals and herbs, and volunteers will be available to help you choose the best plants for your garden.

~ Live Music! Come to Baumgartner's on Saturday night to listen to the sounds of Robert J and the Rowdy Prairie Dogs. Tofflers will feature Joel Pingitore and the Playground of Sound. Tofflers is also having a Kentucky Derby Party on Saturday including a Fancy Hat Contest at 5 pm.

~ Thursday, April 30 is the last day to register to attend Monday evening's "Taste of Spring" benefit event for MAC.

~ Young Professionals of Green County are having a Business Showcase at Quest Industrial, a locally company owned by a YP'er, on Monday evening at 5:30. Tour the facility and learn about the company's current robotics projects. There will be a socializing time at Smokey's following the event for anyone who wishes to stay.

We'll see you around town!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Impressions

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

Spare me the cliche, right? Or maybe not. Cliches get to be cliche because there is a strong grain of truth in them. This one is no different.

First impressions matter. It is human nature to judge, and most people judge very quickly. Many people will decide to buy a home after spending less than 20 minutes in it. Curb appeal is important because people will judge a home's interior based upon how it looks from the street as they drive by.

Fair or not, those are facts.

The feeling that a buyer gets upon opening the door and walking in for the first time is one thing that we never get a second chance at. They will judge the entire home based upon what they see and feel in those first few moments. Knowing this, pay attention to how a buyer enters your home.

What door are you having realtors and buyers enter through? Sometimes, sellers will have us enter through a back door, garage or a side door because it is easier for them to have the lockbox there. It may be easier, but is it the best place for a buyer to enter and fall in the love with your home?

Think about the emotions evoked as someone walks up to the entrance. If you were a buyer, how would it feel to walk up the utilitarian back entrance looking at the kids bikes and toys under the staircase compared to walking up the wide front stairs and porch while looking at the blooming flowers in the front gardens?

Does your door need a coat of paint? What is the condition of your doorknob? A rattling, loose doorknob and a shabby front door give the buyer the idea that the house has not been well maintained and needs work, even if it is not true.

What greets the buyers inside the home? If you bring the buyer in through the garage or back, they might be greeted with a view of your mudroom or laundry room. Compare this to the feeling of walking in your foyer and front entrance. Which is a better first impression?

Try to put yourself into the shoes of the buyer as you get ready to sell your home. Ask your realtor for help on creating a better first impression. It can be hard to look at our homes through new eyes, but give it a try. It can help your home show better and sell faster.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Beyond the Friday Night Fish Fry

Green County has so much to offer those of us who live here as well as those who are visiting. Last month, Midwest Living recognized our area in their article "The New Vacation" under "Surprisingly Hip Small Towns". This month, Midwest Living gave our area another nod.

In their June 2009, Midwest Living has a wonderful article on dining, "5 Star Food Towns." Nearby Madison was given huge recognition, and rightly so in my opinion. There are some great dining choices there. However, our own New Glarus was featured in the "60 More Places Worth The Trip" addition to the article.

New Glarus Hotel is a place that we have mentioned often here at Cheese Country Realtors. Midwest Living recognizes New Glarus Hotel as a great dining destination too. They specifically recommend the Swiss bourguigonne, which is cubes of prime beef that diners can dip into hot oil, like fondue. Other specialties at New Glarus Hotel are the Swiss cheese fondue dinner (mentioned in our Tasting Tour #2), schnitzels, wursts, Roesti potatoes, fish and beef entrees

If you are looking for a delightful dining experience, give the New Glarus Hotel a try.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Survey Says!

Did you grow up in Green County and are now reading this blog because of the reminders of home?

Are you considering relocating here and read this blog for a preview of the community?

Are you a Green County resident currently?

Whichever group you fall into, Future Forward Green County would like to hear your opinions. Future Forward is working to improve the quality of life here in Green County. The group is currently doing a survey, and is especially looking for input from professionals under the age of 45.

What does Green County lack in your opinion?

What makes it a great place to live?

How can we improve the quality of life?

Why would (or wouldn't) you consider living here?

The survey is short, and you can enter to win a $50 gift certificate. Take a moment to fill it out. Future Forward is a very responsive group, one that truly listens to what people say. They will pay attention to what people say on this survey.

Make your voice heard. Take a minute right now to fill out the survey.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

If it is Wednesday, it is "Things to Do" day...

~ Remember that Thursday is the evening for both Poetry on Tap and the Young Professionals recognition event.

~ Evansville is having their 7th annual Energy Fair on Friday from 4:30 until 8 pm at the school field house. There will be over 65 exhibits and businesses featuring various alternative energy and sustainability displays.

~ Have you signed your child up for Masks & Mime from Monroe Theatre Guild yet? The class is Saturday, and there is still time enroll. MTG members, come for Classic Movie Night at 7 pm. They are showing Hitchcock's "North by Northwest", $5 admission.

~ Get outside and enjoy the spring weather this Saturday. Help the Cadiz Browntown Recreation Area get ready for summer with their spring work day. Bring a pair of sturdy gloves, shovels, rakes and a sack lunch to enjoy at the park with your fellow workers. It is a great way to spend some time outdoors while helping a noble cause. The work day will be from 9 am until 3 pm; come for all of it or just part, whatever works for you.

~ World Qigong and Tai Chi Day is on Saturday, and there will be local events in honor of this. Stop by Infinity Yoga Studio in Monroe at 11:30 for a discussion and demonstration of Tai Chi and Qigong. At noon, there will be an overview of acupuncture, and then at 12:30, try it yourself with the group participation of Tai Chi and Qigong (no prior experience necessary). Infinity is on the west side of the Square in the lower level. Enter through the alley behind the building next to the municipal parking ramp.

~ Tofflers, the New Glarus Hotel and the Road House will all be having live music on Saturday evening. You can also head to Freeport for the Royal Scots and Big Band Show at Highland Community College for an evening of jazz.

~ Brooklyn is having their annual Depot Days event this weekend. New this year is the Geo-Caching Poker Run! There will also be speeder car rides, a city wide garage sale and more.

~ Celebrate Earth Day with Saturday's event in Monroe featuring lectures, demonstrations and much more. $7.50 includes lunch, contact Art at 608.325.2995 for more information.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Market Report for the Green County area

It was very interesting looking at the real estate market statistics for Green County this afternoon.

I examined the number of single family homes that sold in Green County in March of 2009:
  • 25 homes sold in March of 2009,
  • The average sale price was $142,654,
  • The median sale price was $118,500,
  • The highest priced property sold was $513,500,
  • The lowest priced property sold was $25,000.
I then compared this to the March of 2008:
  • 17 homes sold in March of 2008,
  • The average sale price was $160,067,
  • The median sale price was $141,500,
  • The highest priced property sold was $379,900,
  • The lowest priced property sold was $26,500.
Clearly the real estate market is still very active in the area. More single family homes are selling than sold a year ago. This also shows something that we realtors have been aware of - prices did drop in the last year and the more expensive homes are moving more slowly. This accounts for the very large drop in median home price.

When I ran some numbers for single family home sales in Green County for so far in April, I noticed a similar trend of a smaller drop in average sale price and a larger drop in median sale price. It will be interesting to see how the number of properties sold compared when the full April data is in.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poetry Reading this week

We have previously mentioned that this Thursday, April 23, will be annual recognition event for the Young Professionals of Green County. If that is not an event you plan on attending, here is another one for your consideration:

Poetry on Tap by the Monroe Arts Center

Come to the Lazy Mutt Lounge at Minhas Brewery on Thursday evening from 7 until 8 to enjoy readings by award-winning Wisconsin poets John Lehman, Shoshauna Shy, Richard Roe, and Robin Chapman. Known as Prairie Fire Quartet, they will be reading excerpts from their favorite published works.

Relax, listen and enjoy a complimentary beverage from Minhas Brewery. This event is free, but space is limited. It should be a wonderful event. If we were not already planning to attend the YP event, I know that we would be there!

If you go, I'd love to hear a review of the evening.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Celebration of Art

The Monroe Arts Center is having their annual spring event next month.

This year, the theme is A Celebration of Art. It will be a chance to enjoy all of the arts of the Green County area - culinary arts, master vinters and our traditional media artists.

Sip fine wine and nibble cheese while browsing the art available for bidding during the auction potion of the evening. Visit with friends and neighbors and enjoy the live music during this pre-dinner portion of the evening.

The dinner will be a five course meal featuring the artistry of Chef Hans Lenzlinger from the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant.

After a delicious dessert, partake in the bidding for the artwork and other fine items available for bidding during the live auction. Which piece would be perfect in your home? You can stop by the MAC anytime between now and April 30 to preview the art that will be up for bid during the event.

A Celebration of Art will be on Monday, May 3 from 6 until 9 pm at the Ludlow Mansion. Tables of 8 are $400 or individual seats are available for $75 each and a portion of the cost is tax deductible. RSVP by April 30.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

It looks like another busy week here in the Monroe area! Saturday is an especially busy day around here.

~ The Stage building will be hopping! Come try out for a part in Monroe Theatre Guild's upcoming production of The Odd Couple on April 16 or 17 from 7 until 9 pm or on April 18 from 10 am until noon. Upcoming MTG events include Saturday's Youth Theatre Set and Prop Design Workshop, a Mask and Mime workshop (April 25) and another Member's Movie Night (April 25).

~ Fun for the entire family! Albany Elementary School is having their annual PTO Carnival on Friday evening from 6 until 9 pm.

~ Come to the Garden of Quilts quilt show sponsored by the Courthouse Quilters on Saturday from 10 am until 4 pm at the Monroe High School. $5 admission, $1 discount with a non-perishable food item donation. Lunch available on site benefits the German Club.

~ Fiber arts enthusiasts, remember the Stephenson County Fiber Arts Fair this Saturday! The link will take you to our full post on this fair from last month.

~ Bring the kids to the Monroe Lego Club meeting on Saturday 12 until 3 pm at the Monroe Public Library.

~ Stop by the Swiss Colony Warehouse sale on Saturday from 9 am until 4 pm at their 1112 7th Ave location.

~ Nancy's Meadow Herbs is having an open house on Saturday from 10 am until 5 pm. Nancy's is one of our hidden treasures. Nancy and Terry grow over a hundred variety of herbs for wholesale sources, and they have a large variety of succlents and other very interesting plants. This open house also is the opening of their new Crone's Nest, a retail herbarium that will also offer teas, aromatherapy products, spices, dried herbs and more. W5549 Center Road just north of Monroe.

~ Bel Canto Singers are having a concert on Sunday afternoon at the Monroe Arts Center, 3 pm.

~ There will be a meeting on Monday evening for brainstorming community improvement with the goal of helping Monroe become a destination community and a home of a Local Foods Discovery Center. There will be a guest speaker, the creator the famous Mount Horeb Mustard Museum. Please, if you care about the future of our community, come. It will be from 5:30 until 7:30 at the Minhas Brewery.

~ April 23 will be the Annual Recognition Event for the Young Professionals of Green County. The evening will begin with at 7 pm with a dessert reception and networking. There will be a welcome from Dr Lance Sathoff, networking time and then presentation of the annual Young Professional of the Year award. It will be in Founders Hall at the Monroe Clinic. No charge, but please RVSP to the Young Professionals.

It should be another great weekend here in Cheese Country!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Get ready for Spring

Another seasonal change is upon us here in Cheese Country finally. Spring has really and truly sprung, so it is time to get our homes and yards ready for another warm weather season.

Here are a few things to remember to do around your Green County home this spring:

~ Take a moment to check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. Checking them is such a simple thing, yet something homeowners often forget about until too late.

~ Walk around your yard and home to clean up the trash and debris the spring winds have brought with them. Even when our yard is pristine in the fall, once the winter snows melt, we have a bunch of stuff out there to clean up. This is especially important when selling your home. Curb appeal is crucial, so keep the exterior tidy. Even if you are not selling, it is always nice to come home to an aesthetically pleasing home. This is time well spent.

~ Inspect your roof and foundation. Winter takes a toll on a home. While you are outside straightening up the yard, take a good look at your foundation and roof. Taking care of repairs while the problem is still small is a lot more cost effective than waiting until it is a big job.

~ Clean out your gutters. Those fall leaves have a way of sticking around and clogging up gutters. Time to haul out the ladder and clean them out or contact a local handyman service to do it for you.

~ Clean out your dryer exhaust duct. Every year, a number of homes in our country end up with fires as a result of a partially clogged exhaust duct.

~ Check your heating and air conditioning ducts. Clean if necessary. Clean ducts will allow the entire system to run more efficiently, saving energy costs.

A weekend's worth of work now will pay off with increased safety, decreased energy costs and increased pleasure in your home.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tasting Tour #2

We don't call this blog Cheese Country Realtors for nothing!

Green County is home to many dairy farms, and we make a great deal with the cow's milk produced here. Tasting Tour #2 will feature these dairy products.

Cheese is our most famous product, but we also are home to one of only three homestead, artisan yogurt companies in the state.

Begin your day in Monroe. The Historic Cheesemaking Center is located just off Hwy 69, and it is open from 9 am until 4 pm March through November. Learn about our dairy farming and cheesemking past, about how Green County came to have such a large concentration of cheese factories and master cheese makers.

From there, continue up Hwy 69 to Roth Kase for a self-guided tour of this active cheese factory. The large viewing windows make it easy to see what is happening in the factory, and be sure to pick up some samples in the attached retail space, Alp & Dell Cheese Store.

Grab some lunch at Baumgartner's on Monroe's Downtown Square. Baumgartner's is a famous cheese store and tavern has been on Monroe's Square since 1931. The menu features a variety of cheese sandwiches, hot sandwiches and cheese plates. Feeling adventurous? Go for the Limburger and Onion Sandwich! Wash it down with the local beverage of your choice.

From here, see where the cheese starts - at the farm. This one requires calling ahead for reservations, so plan accordingly. You can visit a Green County Dairy Farm, meet the cows and visit with the farmer. $5 per person. Contact Green County Tourism Office toll free 1.888.222.9111 or email

Venture over to Albany next to see another great local dairy product - yogurt! Sugar River Dairy is an incredible local product, one that we have written about before. Learn about it first hand by taking a tour. This one also requires a little planning, so call ahead at 608-938-1218 to make sure they are available for tours as they do their own deliveries to local stores on some weekdays. On your way out of our area (or while you are grocery shopping if you live local), be sure to stop by Brennan's Market to pick up some of this great local product.

Finish your day with a dinner at New Glarus Hotel or Turner Hall (Monroe) for a Cheese Fondue dinner. Have this Swiss classic of cheese, wine and other delicious flavors as your main meal, or both restaurants offer it as an appetizer so that you have room for the other delicious entrees available.

We hope you have enjoyed this second tasting tour. If you are making a weekend of it, combine this with Tasting Tour #1 to explore our great local culinary traditions more fully. If you are coming from out of town, we have some great local lodging options available for you.

Have fun eating your way through Green County!

I am writing these Tasting Tours myself; they are not from any visitors guide book or tourism site. These are just fun ways to spend a day or two here in the Green County area.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

See Jane Grow Workshop

Today we have a guest writer on Cheese Country Realtors. Lisa Kivirist is a local author and environmentalist who is a good friend of ours. She and her husband, John Ivanko, own Inn Serendipity, the eco-B&B we have mentioned often in this space. Lisa is also director of the Rural Women's Project, and she is doing a free workshop later this month here in Monroe.

Positive change is brewing in America’s countryside with women-owned businesses growing at twice the national rate. Women also constitute one of the largest, fastest-growing groups purchasing farms today. These trends will be showcased at an upcoming free seminar, “See Jane Grow,” in Monroe on April 30 at 6:00 pm. The interactive seminar offers support to existing women ecopreneurs and those who hold dreams of launching their own business related to food and agriculture.

“From farmers to food artisans, from mompreneurs to retail business owners, women launching green business prioritize more than profit,” explains Lisa Kivirist, co-author of the award-winning book, ECOpreneuring and local innkeeper of Inn Serendipity in Browntown, Wisconsin. Inn Serendipity, a nationally-recognized bed and breakfast, features local, seasonal cuisine and is completely powered by the wind and the sun. “These women ecopreneurs see their business as a tool to transform local communities through changing the food system, emphasizing cooperation over competition, land stewardship and meaning over simply earning a living, and often, integrating their children and family into their livelihood,” adds Kivirist.

Kivirist directs the Rural Women’s Project, a venture of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, and will be facilitating this “See Jane Grow” seminar in Monroe and throughout Wisconsin. This seminar brings together various tools, resources and networking opportunities for women to help champion both new start-ups and showcase the stories of successful women already running such businesses that promote healthy and fresh foods, sustainable agriculture, and a vibrant local economy.

“Women in Green County with existing businesses as well as those seeking to start new ventures are encouraged to attend this free event,” explains Cara Carper, Green County UW Extension Educator. “Encouraging such small, green micro-enterprise start-ups will help stimulate positive economic vibrancy in our community by creating self-employment opportunities that also contribute to a healthy, local food system,” adds Carper. During the last recession from 2000 to 2003, micro-enterprise employment grew in Wisconsin while it fell for other employers.

“I started my business because I’m passionate about crafting a livelihood that enables me to steward the land, raise healthy food for my community, express my creative side and share this venture with my family,” explains Kriss Marion, a farmer who will be featured at the April 30 “See Jane Grow” seminar in Monroe. Marion is owner of Circle M in Blanchardville, Wisconsin, where she raises diversified produce and meats as well as Maid Marion, a fiber and educational enterprise. “We rural women ecopreneurs need more opportunities like this upcoming workshop to connect and network with each other and share resources and ideas,” continues Marion.

The “See Jane Grow” seminar will be start at 6:00 pm on Thursday, April 30 and be held at Kookaburras, a culinary and gourmet food shop locally owned by Laura Winters (1609 10th Street, North Side of Monroe Square). A networking reception follows the seminar, featuring locally-produced foods by area women food artisans. The event is co-sponsored by Green County UW-Extension, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Blackhawk Technical College and the Green County Development Corporation. The session is free but space is limited. Pre-registration is required through Cara Carper, UW-Extension

Friday, April 10, 2009

Use Value Assessment

If you are looking at purchasing a rural property, you might see a reference to a Use Value Assessment when looking at MLS property descriptions.

The Use Value Assessment is piece of Wisconsin legislation that tries to prevent urban sprawl and protect agricultural use of our farm land.

When a property is being used for agricultural purposes, it is zoned Agricultural and is assessed differently than land that is zone residential. Agricultural land is assessed at its use value rather than its market value.

When rural property is parceled off from farms to build homes or when small farms are no longer being actively used for agricultural purposes, the land's use changes and the assessment type changes. Wisconsin has a one time tax that applies when this happens, and that is the Use Value Assessment.

Buyers generally are the ones to pay this assessment because the use changes after the sale has taken place. It can be written in to an offer to purchase that the seller will pay this if a buyer prefers, but many sellers do not consent to this. A Realtor can help you figure out if the Use Value Assessment applies and if so, what it is likely to be on whatever property you are interested in.

For detailed information on the Use Value Assessment, please check the Wisconsin Department of Revenue pamphlet on Agricultural Assessments.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Property of the Week

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

This charming home has been professionally remodeled and updated. It is move in ready for you! There is a new high efficiency furnace, new kitchen appliances, new plumbing and new carpeting throughout this beautiful home. The generous backyard is fenced and has a deck overlooking it. There is a storage shed and plenty of room to play. Why look at those fixer uppers? This home finished and ready for your family.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Things to Do Around Monroe

Even with the holiday weekend, you will still be able to find things to do in the area in the upcoming week.

~ If you need dessert for Easter dinner, the Senior Center is having a pie sale at Amcore bank on Friday starting at 8 am.

~ Easter Egg Hunts! Monticello has theirs in the community park on Saturday at 10:30 am for infants through fifth graders. Krape Parks in Freeport has theirs at 10 am on Saturday. Monroe's will be on Saturday at 1 pm at Twining Park (High School M if weather in case of inclement weather). The Basket Benefit begins at noon.

~ "Godspell" is running again this weekend. These final shows will be on April 9 and 10 at 7:30 PM and April 11 at 2 pm in the Monroe High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for members, $12 for non-members for evening shows or $8 matinees for everyone. Check out the upcoming classes on the MTG website as well. There are some great workshops coming up for both adults and children.

~ Greg Anderson band is playing at the New Glarus Hotel on Friday and Saturday evenings.

~ Tofflers in New Glarus has an Easter Brunch on Sunday from 8 am until 3 pm. Reservations recommended. New Glarus Hotel is running their Easter brunch on Sunday morning as well.

~ Highland Community College in Freeport is having a job fair on Tuesday, April 15 from 5 until 7:30 pm and Wednesday, April 16 from 9 am until 1 pm.

~ Professional bakers or want to be bakers! The Wisconsin Baker's Association is having a Baker's Forum on Tuesday, April 14 from 1-4 p.m. at the main Swiss Colony corporate building. There will be a tour of the Swiss Colony Bakery at 1:00. Then at 2:00 will be a presentation topic of "Thinking Outside the box - how do bakers survive this economy". The target audience is individual bakers, small bakery shops, and/or anyone interested in this type of food industry. It is free, but advanced registration is required. Contact Sheila at 608-328-8629.

~ There is another Revitalizing Wisconsin's Downtowns webinar through UW Extension coming up on April 15. This month's topic is Downtown Image and Branding. The webinar will be from noon until 1:30 in the conference room at Wisconsin Community Bank. $12.50 includes lunch.

Whether you are a Green County resident or just coming home to visit for the holiday weekend, come out and enjoy all that our area has to offer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

About that First Time Home Buyer's Tax Credit

Much press has been given lately to the first time home buyer's tax credit passed as part of the economic stimulus package back in February.

With all of the media attention the previous versions of the tax credit received, it is no wonder that there is a great deal of incorrect information and rumor out there.

Here are the basics:
  • In order to take advantage of the credit, you cannot have owned a home or had an interest in a home in the three years prior to buying this home. If you are married and file jointly, neither spouse can have owned a home during the last three years.
  • The tax credit is for up to $8,000. Other figures were tossed around during the legislative process, but the credit the was passed had an upper limit of $8,000.
  • The credit is figured as a percentage of the home's sale price. If you purchase a home under $80,000, the maximum credit will be fore 10% of the home's value. For any home with a purchase price over $80,000, the maximum credit is $8,000.
  • There are income limits for the tax credit. A person filing singly can make up to $75,000 and receive the full credit allowable, or up to $95,000 and receive a percentage of the allowable credit. Married couples filing jointly can make up to $150,000 for the full credit or $170,000 for the percentage.
  • The home must be your primary residence.
  • You must close on the home on or between January 1, 2009 and November 30, 2009.
  • The tax credit is refundable. That means that if your federal tax liability (the amount you owe) is less than the amount of the tax credit, you will get the excess refunded to you.
If you are looking to buy your first home or to own a home for the first time in three years, this tax credit is wonderful news for you. You can find more detailed, credible information on the tax credit here or talk with your tax preparer.

Between the tax credit, incredibly low interest rates, and the lower prices in the current home inventories, this is a fantastic time to buy a home.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tasting Tour #1

There are some pretty amazing flavors that come out of our stomping grounds here in Green County.

Whether you are a tourist visiting the area or a long time resident, take a little vacation and sample some of our goods. Try a day trip to the area with a Tasting Tour.

I am writing these myself; they are not from any visitors guide book or tourism site, so please keep that in mind. These are just fun ways to spend a day or two here in the Green County area.

Tasting Tour #1 will focus on beverages, alcoholic and non. If you want to do the full tasting tour, start promptly at 10 am and follow the schedule as given. If you would rather linger longer in the New Glarus area, adjust the tour so that you get to Monroe in time for the 3 pm brewery tour and leave off the final winery stop.

Start your day in New Glarus at 10 am. Here is where you will find New Glarus Brewing Company, a quickly growing upstart in the craft brewing world. Fat Squirrel, Spotted Cow, Organic Revolution, Crack'd Wheat - these are names known to beer aficionados in the Midwest. Dan and Deb Carey are the founders. This company is unique because it is the first brewery in the US founded and operated by a woman. Deb runs the company, Dan is the brewmaster, and an incredible local product is the result. Self guided audio tours are available from 10 am until 5 pm Monday through Sunday. The new facility on the hill just south of New Glarus will be open to the public this year. If you would like to sample, stop in the Tasting Room where $3.50 will get you three samples and a New Glarus Brewing tasting glass.

After learning about New Glarus beers, stop over at Primrose Winery around 11 am to learn about local wines. Primrose began in 1986 when Peg and Bob Borucki decided to turn their wine making hobby into a business after many raves from their friends about their products. Primrose Winery uses Wisconsin fruits to create 13 handcrafted wines. Primrose is special because they do use chemicals to clarify their wines, instead relying on old fashioned racking. They do not offer tours, but they offer free tastings year round at their building in Downtown New Glarus. They do have an Open House event coming up in late May.

Noon means lunch time! Pick up a sandwich for lunch and the coffee drink of your choice at Fat Cat Coffee Works before leaving New Glarus. You'll enjoy the quality ingredients and the charming ambiance at this small town coffee cafe. If you want to do the full Tasting Tour, leave New Glarus at about 12:30 to give yourself enough time to get to your next tour at 1 pm. Otherwise, wander over to the New Glarus bakery for a pastry dessert and visit some of the New Glarus shops as well.

Next stop is Monroe for a tour of Minhas Brewery. This has been a brewery since 1846, the oldest continuously operating brewery in the Midwest. The name has changed a few times, the product labels are different, but the product is still the same - mostly beer. During Prohibition, they began producing excellent root beer and sodas. When alcohol became legal again, the soda stayed in the line up. The brewery has changed hands a few times in 163 years, and in 2006, it became Minhas Brewery. Minhas still produces Blumer's, Berghoff, and Huber, but has grown to include such brews as Lazy Mutt. Do stop in for a tour. They are fun and tasty experiences. Tours are offered every Friday at 1p.m. and Saturday at 1p.m. and 3p.m. It is recommended to call to reserve a spot: 608-325-3191. Tours are $10 for ages 13 years and older, kids under 12 are free with parent. The tour price does include a Minhas Craft Brewery Gift Pack including several bottles as well as Minhas gifts.

If you made the 1 pm tour at Minhas, you will have time for the final stop on our Tasting Tour. (If you had the 3 pm tour instead, browse around our Downtown or catch a matinee movie at Goetz Theater before skipping ahead to dinner).

Drive a little farther south towards Freeport, IL to tour Famous Fossil Vineyard and Winery. Famous Fossil is a charming winery that has a certified biodynamic vineryard (meets organic standards plus some). Their tasting room is open from 11 am until 5 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays, 11 until 7 on Fridays and noon until 4 on Sundays. Sit on the deck, sample the wines and enjoy the countryside and vineyard views. If you call ahead, they will arrange a box meal for you to enjoy on site.

If you prefer a restaurant dinner, drive on back to Monroe and enjoy a leisurely dinner at Barrett's Brick Cafe, Cafe Claudeen or Poncho & Lefty's, opening soon. End your tour with a stop at Baumgartner's on the west side of the Square for a final glass of your favorite beer of the day, great camaraderie and (on many Saturday evenings) live music.

Don't forget the designated driver on this tasting tour! We want you to get back to your hotel or bed and breakfast safely.

If you are making a weekend out of visiting our area, combine this with Tasting Tour #2.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Moving Tips for Sellers

Real estate is moving and homes are selling here in the Green County area. If you are one of the home sellers in the area, here are some tips for getting ready for your upcoming move:

1. Give your forwarding address to the post office, usually 2-4 weeks ahead of the move.

2. Notify your magazine subscriptions, charge cards, and bank of the change of address.

3. Develop a list of friends, relatives, and business colleagues who need to be notified of the move.

4. Arrange to have utilities disconnected at your old home and connected at your new one.

5. Cancel the newspaper.

6. Check insurance coverage for moved items. Usually movers only cover what they pack.

7. Clean out appliances and prepare them for moving, if applicable.

8. Note the weight of the goods you’ll have moved, since long-distance moves are usually billed according to weight. Watch for movers that use excessive padding to add weight.

9. Have a “first open” box with the things you’ll need most—toilet paper, soap, trash bags, scissors, hammer, screwdriver, pencils and paper, cups and plates, water, snacks, and toothpaste.

Plus, if you’re moving out of town:

1. Get copies of medical and dental records and prescriptions for your family and your pets.

2. Get copies of children’s school records for transfer.

3. Ask friends for introductions to anyone they know in your new neighborhood or look for people from the area on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

4. Consider special car needs for pets when traveling.

5. For safety's sake, let a friend or relative know your route.

6. Carry traveler’s checks or an ATM card for ready cash until you can open a bank account.

7. Empty your safety deposit box.

8. Put plants in boxes with holes for air circulation if you’re moving in cold weather.

adapted from the National Association of Realtors.

Moving is never simple, but hopefully with a little forethought, it can at least go smoothly for you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is ranch home on Skinner Creek.

Unparalleled style at any price!

This 2 year old, 3 bedroom ranch home has an enormous, bright and open great room with a large stone fireplace. The dramatic formal entry is a lovely way to enter your home every day or greet your guests. Your family will appreciate the oversized closets in all bedrooms, and the 2x6 construction with R19 insulation rating will help keep the utility bills low all winter.

This home is located on 2.57 acres with both woods and pasture. Nature lovers will love looking out there windows and gazing at deer and wild turkeys drinking out of Skinner Creek as it moseys through your land. You will be walking distance to Cadiz State Park and just a couple of minutes outside of Monroe.

Asking price is $189,000.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Things to Do around Monroe, WI

~ A new exhibit is opening in Frehner Gallery at the Monroe Arts Center. Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made Of..." is the exhibit title, and it features acrylic and watercolor media by Beki Borman, and sculpture by Darlene Wesenberg Rzezotarski. The opening reception is Thursday evening from 5 until 7 pm in Frehner Gallery, and the artists will be speaking at 5 pm. You can also preview the art that will be available during the MAC spring silent auction. These pieces will be on display, and you can also pick up tickets to the Taste of Spring event taking place on May 4.

~ Young Professionals of Green County is doing a Beer and Cheese tasting at Baumgartner's on Thursday evening starting at 5:30 pm. Registration is technically required, but contact Lori and maybe you can sneak in. $15 to sample at least 5 beers and 7 cheeses.

~ Bring the kids to Kookaburra's on the north side of Monroe's Downtown Square on Saturday from 11 until 4 to meet the Easter Bunny! Feel free to bring your camera and get some photos too.

~ "Godspell" opens this weekend! Monroe Theatre Guild is putting on an energetic and exciting performance of this Broadway hit musical. MTG does an amazing job on all of their performances, and "Godspell" will be no different. I have had the pleasure of listening to some of the rehearsals, and "Godspell" is gong to be a fantastic production. Show times are April 3, 4, 9, and 10 at 7:30 PM and April 5 and 11 at 2 pm in the Monroe High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for members, $12 for non-members for evening shows or $8 matinees for everyone. Check out the upcoming classes on the MTG website as well. There are some great workshops coming up for both adults and children.

~ Inn Serendipity will host a Sustainable Living Workshop on Saturday, April 4 from 1 until 4 pm. The half day workshop will cover buying farm property; sustainable gardening; using renewable energy; developing a diversified business from a rural setting; raising a family on the farm. It will also include resources to get started and a hands-on tour of the farm, gardens, a straw bale greenhouse under construction and various renewable energy systems. $30 per person includes instruction time, a copy of John's book The Least Imperfect Path, and printed materials.

~ End the week with a bang! Central State Fireworks will be showing off their products at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds on Saturday evening from 7 until 9:30 pm.

~ There will be a lot of live music in the area this weekend. Tofflers in New Glarus is featuring The Midwesterners on Saturday night. Baumgartner's in Monroe is hosting The Rowdy Prairie Dogs also on Saturday. The New Glarus Hotel is having music by Steve Meisner Band on Friday evening. Roadhouse in Monroe will host Mississippi Man on Saturday evening. Turner Hall will have Dick Strauss Big Band at their Dance and Dine on Sunday afternoon.

~ Blackhawk Technical College is hosting Renewable Energy Alternatives: Smart Choices to Fuel Our Future, a discussion hosted by Young Professionals Dan Harrigan and Dusty Williams. It will be on April 8 from 12:30 until 1:30 in room 413 of BTC's Monroe Campus. Snacks and beverages will be provided.

~ Plan ahead for the Bel Canto singers concert, MTG Classic Movie Night, Depot Days, Poetry on Tap, culinary classes, Tai Chi demonstrations, the Quilt Show and much, much more happening in April.

Is it any wonder I laugh when people say there this nothing to do around here?