Category Archives: Uncategorized

Maggie’s In Bayfield, Wisconsin

This past May, my husband and I took a trip up to Bayfield because we were on a mission to see several waterfalls in Wisconsin and Michigan. While bumming around the town, we asked locals what they suggested for a decent place to grab a snack. Maggie’s and one other place, of which I cannot recall the name, were the top options.

After some debate we ate at Maggie’s. My first impression was that we had made a great choice because the atmosphere was fun with a tropical flare. There were quirky decorations and flamingos on almost every surface. I was pleased upon inspecting the menu, because they had some decent gluten-free options.

Our waitress came to the table to take our orders, and I discussed the gluten-free menu items with her. In the end, I told her I would like to go with a pepperoni and pineapple gluten-free pizza and a piece of the flourless chocolate torte. I was sure to tell her I have a gluten intolerance. My husband ordered a burger and onion rings.

The food did not come out as quickly as we would have liked, but it wasn’t a ridiculous waiting period either. At first bite of my pizza it was clear that the crust was barely cooked. The majority of the center was still raw dough and hardly warm. I flagged our waitress down and let her know that it was not completely cooked. She simply stared at me and offered no thoughts, so, feeling slightly irritated and hating to make a scene or send food back, I brushed it aside and said, ‘fine, I’ll just eat it without the crust’. I was not thrilled since they charged me extra for an uncooked gluten-free crust. I know that I should have made a bigger deal about this and that it is my fault for settling, but I have learned my lesson and will speak up more if this ever happens again.

My husband liked his food. He said the onion rings were decent, and the burger was filling. I was not happy with my food. At one point a manager stopped by our table and asked how things were. I told him the crust on my pizza was not cooked. The waitress came over and got involved in the conversation saying that the cook asked if I had wanted it cooked longer and she told the cook I was fine with it the way it was. The manager walked away, and I became quite irritated to find she didn’t even give me the option to put it back in the oven, and that the manager would brush this off. On top of it all she asked if we wanted dessert, which I had ordered with my pizza and never received. I said no, and we paid our bill and left. They charged us the full amount for the crust that was inedible.

I rarely complain about service at restaurants, and I like to give staff the benefit of the doubt if things are busy and get a little rocky, but this place was not busy and they have no excuse for their horrible service. I have never been so letdown by a waitress in my life, not to mention the manager who did nothing. There is no excuse for poor food when it’s brought to the waitress and manager’s attention. Restaurants rely on positive experiences and word of mouth to bring in new people.

If you happen to visit Bayfield and Maggies, feel free to let me know what your experience was like. This may have been an isolated incident but I’m struggling to find the desire to visit Maggie’s ever again.

For more information on Maggies, please visit: https://www.maggies-bayfield.com/

Puerto Vallarta City Tour

This past March my family decided to take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. None of us had ever visited Puerto Vallarta previously, but we have all come to agreement that we will definitely be returning in the future. The trip was so much fun we can hardly wait to go back.

Now, I’m not much for all day tours of the cities I visit. I usually prefer to explore on my own, but we were given a free city tour when we booked another excursion through our hotel. The funny thing is I enjoyed the city tour more than the snorkeling excursion we went on. I highly recommend the city tour if you are visiting Puerto Vallarta for the first time.

The particular tour we went on departed in the morning by air-conditioned bus. We drove down to the boardwalk where we were given some time to take pictures and look at sculptures. We walked across the road to a beautiful church and then got back on the bus and went to several other locations.

We were able to visit a jewelry store, with open bar. We went to a candy shop where we got to try several local treats. We toured a tequila distillery and tasted seven different tequilas and then we ate lunch on location. Lunch was of our own expense, but totally worth it. There were several food choices which were all served family style. We ate shrimp, chicken, beef, and pork. There were also seafood options available, and the prices were minimal. After lunch we made a final stop at a coffee plantation where we were able to try some organic coffee and flavored tequila.

This tour has a little bit of everything included. We definitely got plenty to eat and drink. Our guide spoke both English and Spanish and he was also quite the comedian. He gave us tons of information about Puerto Vallarta which included stories about some of the rich and famous who had inhabited homes on the countryside. The views were beautiful and I would even partake in this tour a second time around, that’s how much I enjoyed it.

For more information on the tour, please visit: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g150793-d11485712-Full_Day_Puerto_Vallarta_City_Highlights_Tour-Puerto_Vallarta.html

The Spirit Of The Holidays

Ho ho holidays. It’s that time again. Remember when you were a child, and the holidays seemed to be all about gifts and the magic of what could be inside those neatly wrapped packages? Heaven forbid it was a sweater.

I remember one Christmas when my sister was young. Grandma Ambers gave her a gift to open; she was probably about four years old. My sister, eyes glistening, tore into the package like her entire magical future might be hiding inside of it. Opening the lid she peered into the magical box and I watched as the excitement faded from her eyes. She pulled out a sweater that my grandmother thought to be, “just darling.” Raising the sweater up from the box her response was, “that’s not a very nice present.” I’m pretty sure I lost myself in uncontrollable laughter.

Children don’t always understand what the holidays are about, and honestly, neither do adults. The holiday season is about love. Every single day should really be about love. This past year I saw more death than I’ve seen in all of my thirty-six years put together. We don’t know how much time we have, and while we receive reminders of that short amount of time, are we really living our lives to the fullest?

I buy gifts for loved ones because I enjoy trying to find something I know they will love receiving, but in all honesty, what matters, in the end, is that we come together and spend time with the people we care about. We don’t know if our brother- and sister-in-law will be with us next Christmas, or if we’ll have the same home, or if we’ll even live in the same state as one another. What we do know is that we can tell the people we love how much we care and show them through our laughter and communion together.

Instead of worrying about things being perfect (I know you will anyway) go out and enjoy meals together. Drive around looking at holiday lights. Drink homemade hot cocoa by the fireside while playing a game. Go Christmas Caroling (that’s a dying pass-time that should be resurrected). Go sledding and build a snowman. Put down your phone. I repeat, put down your phone. People are getting tendonitis from overuse of their phones (I’m one of them). Have a silly photo shoot where you wear holiday gear, antlers, elf hats, etc, and make funny signs to hold up (if need be, use your phone for this). Bake holiday treats together while listening to holiday music. Cook some new recipes and sip wine together (if you’re of age). Heck, go on a wine tasting (but be responsible). Whatever you do, remember it’s about the fun and magic of the season. It’s about being together and that doesn’t have to cost anything.

As we move into the New Year, I am thankful for my life and that I’m still alive. I am thankful for my family and friends who are still here. I am thankful for my cat, Draco. I am thankful that I am following my dream of writing. This is my challenge for you: start living your life to its fullest. Be kind to others. Don’t do the things you hate doing, do more of the things you love. Take care of yourself. You never know if tomorrow will come.

Love to you all and best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. Now go out and make happy memories! Oh, and if you’re one of those people who loves someone but you haven’t told them, maybe go out and do that as well (the movie, Love Actually, can help you with that).

***Image is from Jolly Holiday Lights by Make A Wish, in Altoona, IA. (check it out if you’re in the area).

http://iowa.wish.org/news-and-events/calendar-of-events/november/event-detail-page

***Also check out Christmas Village in Irvine Park if you’re in the Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls, WI area.

http://www.chippewafalls-wi.gov/your-government/parks-recreation-forestry/irvine-park/christmas-village/about-christmas-village

Fun At The Lumberyard Pub

Last week I wrote an article about Ladies Night at The Historic Afton Inn. To go along with that article I would like to let people know about another of my Ladies Night favorites. This one is a lot of fun and it combines two of my loves; purses and Bingo.

If you like playing Bingo you have got to check out the Lumberyard Pub. The Lumberyard hosts Coach Purse Bingo every third Thursday of the month. To make things even more exciting, each person receives a ticket and a chance to win a free beverage. The atmosphere is fun and definitely has its regular patrons whom you will hear hooting and hollering when they win a prized purse or drink for that matter.

Aside from winning purses and free beverages, the food at the Lumberyard is awesome. They have Wisconsin cheese curds, wings, nachos, sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads, just to name a few items. I haven’t eaten anything that I didn’t love. All of their food is great as well as the service.

Come on out, bring your friends, have some fun. The Lumberyard is a great place to spend an evening.

For more information on the Lumberyard Pub, please visit: http://lumberyardpubafton.com/

Ladies Night At The Historic Afton House Inn

If you live in eastern Minnesota or western Wisconsin and you are looking for something fun to do with your ladies, or maybe even your significant other, come on out to Afton, Minnesota the third Thursday of each month and take part in Ladies Night.

Start your evening off right by checking into, The Historic Afton House Inn. You cannot go wrong with one of their whirlpool suites. Men will feel encouraged to join in if they know all of the excitement and fun involved. This Inn has twenty-one uniquely decorated Jacuzzi suites. Some of the rooms have river views as well as fireplace, and a patio, or balcony. I personally like to use this event for date night because honestly we both have a great time.

After check-in wander through the inn to Current Restaurant for Happy Hour, where you will find great specials on appetizers and drinks. I can personally vouch for the food at Current, it is quite delectable. The low lit room provides a nice ambiance for reconnecting with loved ones, and the service is excellent.

If you are a wine lover, you absolutely must head over to Swirl, which is located inside the inn. They offer a free wine tasting for Ladies Night, but don’t worry men, you won’t be excluded. The tasting consists of a variety of different red and white wines. My favorite by far was the, 2012 Amayna Sauvignon Blanc, which is a nice crisp and refreshing Chilean white wine. Despite having a clear favorite, I greatly enjoyed all of the different wines on the list. Aside from the wine, Swirl has a great atmosphere with wonderfully attentive sommeliers. They also serve food, which I hear, great things about, but have not yet had the pleasure of trying. Rest assured I will be back to visit in the near future and I will do a more in-depth article on this lovely little wine bar.

Other fun things included in this evening are door prizes and games, as well as a variety of sidewalk vendors. You can even take in some free music on the patio outside of Swirl. This month ladies night will take place on July 19th and the giveaway will be for 187ml bottles of Blanc De Bleu.

After you have had your fill of the wonderful Ladies Night activities, you can purchase a bottle of wine to take back to your Jacuzzi suite and enjoy as you soak away any stress from the week. You will sleep well on the comfy beds which feature, My Pillows, and wake feeling refreshed and ready for the inn’s included, hot and tasty breakfast. Breakfast often features: coffee, tea, juice, fruit and yogurt parfait, and some form of egg omelet or frittata.

I have a history of traveling to many different towns and trying out the bed and breakfasts. This particular experience is one of my favorites, because this inn has a certain charm to it and there are so many things to do in one setting. Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself.

For more information, please visit the following websites:

https://aftonhouseinn.com/

http://www.swirlmywine.com/

Experiencing Villa Bellezza

Summer is here and along with it comes the season for sipping cocktails on patios while relaxing after a long and crazy work week. While many of my friends hold a strong appreciation for breweries, I find myself in a slightly different boat. No matter how hard I try I am just not a beer lover. The closest I come to loving beer is drinking a couple of PBR’s (Wisconsin girl here).

If I am going to test out a beverage nine times out of ten it is going to be wine. Luckily where I live there are a ton of great options nearby. One such location that still has me dreaming about its newest wine is the Villa Bellezza in Pepin, Wisconsin.

This past weekend for my friend’s bachelorette party I met her and the rest of the crew at Villa Bellezza. Upon arriving early I decided to start a wine tasting while I waited. Each tasting is three wines of your choice and one that the winery chooses to give for free. You can taste as many as you want, but each tasting will cost you $5. If you buy four bottles however, one tasting will be free and you will get a 5% discount.

I decided to try two different tastings. I tasted 7 different wines (the free one twice) and I bought two bottles. I should state for the record that I like a vast variety of reds and whites from sweet to dry, so what I like and what someone else likes, may vary, but the majority of our group agreed that the, Terra, which is a fruity, dry red wine, was the option for us all to purchase. We drank quite a bit of this back at our campsite later that evening.

My favorite wine over all of the rest was the Frontenac Reserve which is a dry red wine with a lot of deep oaky black cherry flavor. This particular wine is new this year and it’s selling like hot cakes. I had to have a bottle to take home, and who knows, I will be back in Pepin this weekend and I may just buy another.

Now if you prefer a nice crisp white wine, the Petit Blanc was very tasty. I would definitely recommend checking this wine out. It is dry but has a nice pear flavor that will make for a wonderfully refreshing beverage on the upcoming hot July nights.

Aside from the wine, the service was excellent. Our Sommelier’s name was Christy, and she was very attentive as well as informative. If you struggle with wine choices for your tasting she makes great recommendations.

Villa Bellezza would make a great destination for anyone’s bachelor or bachelorette party, wedding, or special event. This winery is within walking distance of the Pepin Campground, which is nice if you want something more to do than just sit at your campsite. They have a restaurant on location as well, but unfortunately I have not had a chance to try it out as of yet. All I know is that the wine was great and I will definitely be going back for a visit.

For more information on Villa Bellezza, please visit: http://www.villabellezza.com/

Let’s All Go To The Zoo!

Last week while on a mini vacay, my husband and I visited Council Bluffs, Iowa. As we were getting ready to head toward our destination we began looking into the activities available in that area. While there are many fun and historic things to do between Council Bluffs and Omaha, Nebraska, which is just a few minutes away, we decided to check out a zoo.

The Omaha zoo is known as the, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. This particular zoo has nineteen exhibits and it can take more than one day to take everything in. During our visit we did not go into the aquarium, theater, children’s adventure area, or the butterfly and insect pavilion. There were also a few different areas that were closed due to renovation. I wish I had known ahead of time that things were under construction, because I missed out on seeing a few of my favorite animals.

During our visit, I did not see any penguins, polar bears (they moved to the Kansas City Zoo), or zebras. I have no idea where the zebras were, but they were not in the enclosure they were supposed to be in according to the map. In some cases, due to the construction, it was unclear as to which animals were normally located in which areas. The zoo is currently adding an Asian Highlands section, but it also appears to be changing other areas as well. I believe there was construction going on in three different sections.

We arrived at the zoo around one o’clock and we were there until close, which was at five o’clock. We very much enjoyed walking through the, Desert Dome, as well as the, Kingdoms of the Night. If you want to take everything in, or try to take everything in, I would suggest you arrive at nine in the morning, when the zoo first opens. Make sure you check the times of the different Visitor Experiences that are available. These events are great learning occasions for children.

As you wander around there are plenty of bathrooms, water fountains, and places to find a snack, or to get out of the sun. Several exhibits are indoors. One of the most interesting things I witnessed was that of the giraffe crossing. This must occur at the same time each day, because the giraffes were lined up at the gate and waiting for the staff to come out and let them into their indoor enclosure. This process can take roughly a half an hour. The staff must open fencing to create a walkway and then the giraffes meander on into the building across the walk from their outdoor pen.

I have not been to a zoo in many years. My experiences are mostly with that of the, Como Zoo, in St. Paul, MN, and the Apple Valley Zoo, in Apple Valley, MN. I greatly enjoyed the Omaha Zoo, even though several areas were under construction. I still took tons of photos and saw a lot of interesting animals. I would definitely recommend this zoo to anyone who is visiting the area, especially if you have children who love animals.

For more information on the, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, please visit: http://www.omahazoo.com/