Category Archives: Wisconsin

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

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/

Updates On St. Croix Casino Hotel, Turtle Lake

Previously I have written a couple of different articles about St. Croix Casino’s hotel at Turtle Lake. This article is an update on the hotel’s current condition and what to expect upon checking in. I am going to be very straight forward and honest in this article, so bear with me.

My husband and I have stayed at this hotel many times over the past six months. We always have a good time. The hotel is clean, and it has an appealing look to it. The rooms are finally finished being updated and I very much like the look of them. The couches and chairs are elegant and have nail head accents on them. The furniture is simple, but nice and I like the colors they chose.

What I am not pleased with is the fact that I walked up to the front desk to check in; there was no one in front of me and three people working behind it, and no one acknowledged me for about five minutes. They just let me stand there while they were messing around with I’m not completely sure what. It looked like spilt change and cell phones.

I don’t have a problem with waiting, but if you aren’t on a phone helping a customer or helping someone who is in front of me, then the courteous thing to do is to acknowledge me, the patron, who has just arrived. There is no excuse for poor service, especially when there are three people available to help.

Aside from the fact that I think the front desk help needs some serious work, this wasn’t the first time this had happened to me, the rest of the actual stay was mostly comfortable and pleasant. The image I used for this article does show that the bed could have been put together a little bit nicer; it looked that way when we checked in. It was however comfortable and I liked the whirlpool, and the various other amenities in the room. One thing I will note is that you can hear people in overhead rooms at times, but they didn’t really bother us. Other than a little light noise, I slept great, and enjoyed myself.

The last thing that I found to be distasteful about this stay was the breakfast. The first time we stayed and partook in the morning breakfast, there was no hot food, but they weren’t completely done with their modifications either. This time they had eggs and sausage, as well as waffles, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, bananas, toast, and cereal. The issue I have is that the eggs were powdered eggs. If you are going to serve breakfast at a hotel that you just took the time to remodel and bring up to a more pleasing standard, then the least you can do is serve actual scrambled eggs.

I truly hope that Turtle Lake realizes that these issues exist and takes the time to quickly remedy them. I won’t stop visiting, but I don’t like reporting such practices to the community either. On a side note, we ate the broiled chicken dinner in the café, at the casino, and that was very good.

For further information on, Turtle Lake Casino, St. Croix, please visit:  https://turtlelake.stcroixcasino.com/

 

Updates At St. Croix Casino, Turtle Lake, Hotel

If you like Turtle Lake Casino, St. Croix, and you stay at the hotel there; you know what the rooms were like. While they were not the worst, they really weren’t the best. For those who haven’t visited recently, requests have been heard and the hotel is going through some changes.

While changes can be a bit frustrating while in progress, the outcome will be completely worth the hassle for future visits. I recently stayed during Valentine’s week and we stayed in the Egypt suite. The whirlpool tub was brand new, as were the counters and sinks. The look is much nicer, though the sinks do seem to spray water all over the place; it didn’t seem to matter how lightly I turned the water on.

The hotel room was not finished. Several of the installations have been a work in progress and should be near completion by this point. All I know is that I cannot wait to go back and see the final product. I shall send further updates and show you the outcome of the next suite we stay in, which will most likely be in April.

While I cannot vouch for the completed room feel, I can vouch for the front desk area. The room is much more appealing with a fireplace and area for sitting. The feel is much cleaner and I feel at peace while going through the check-in process.

For more information on Turtle Lake Casino and Hotel, St. Croix, please visit: https://turtlelake.stcroixcasino.com/

A New Adventure

To my followers who haven’t heard much from me in the passing months. Life has been very busy. I have hit some road bumps, and I have also begun a new journey. This past September I found out that my book, Runway Dreams: A Black & White Affair, will be published by, Black Rose Writing, on March 29th of this year.

I am beyond elated about this development and it has provided me with a lot more work outside of my regular job, which is working for an art gallery. I am currently in the middle of putting a marketing plan into effect for my novel, as well as planning a release party. All of these things take time, money, and lots of thought.

While I very much enjoy my blog, it has been hard between the book and some other things in life, to keep up a consistent writing system. I do want to continue with Star Spirit Adventures, but I am currently in the process of deciding whether or not to redefine it.

If I do remake the site, it will be a focus more on experiences, which to me still has to do with adventure. You will still receive critiques and information on my travels, but you will also see other articles that may be journal like in structure. I will keep things tasteful, but I am a reflective person, so you will learn about what I learn. This is just a possibility at this point. I will keep readers updated on my decision, once I figure out the logistics.

Until later, keep on exploring and having adventures. I know I will. Every day brings new possibilities.

For more information on my book, please visit: www.fb.me/HappilyWriting

An Evening Of Fun With The Squirrel Nut Zippers

I have always been a lover of live music, so I seldom pass up a chance to see a band in person, even if it’s one I haven’t listened to before. My love of music covers many genres, and for the most part, I can thank my father for the variety I have introduced into my life. Being around a band that plays so many types of music has its benefits.

Recently, on a Saturday night, a friend of mine invited me to see the, Squirrel Nut Zippers, at the State Theater, in Eau Claire. I had heard of them, but didn’t know offhandedly, what they played. I decided that it would be nice to see friends and spend a night out, so I agreed to go. Man, am I glad I went.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers have a big band sound. The band consists of nine people. Their female lead is from New Orleans, so they have that New Orleans flair. The music was lively, upbeat, and it had my foot tapping from note one. My favorite thing about the evening was that this band knew how to put on a show. They danced, they played, they had a great time with each other, and the audience was engaged.

I went home after the show, wishing it hadn’t ended. I wanted more. I could have listened to them all night long. I decided to check out their music on Amazon, and while it was still great, it just didn’t provide the same experience, though I will continue to listen. This group puts on a fabulous show, and I would recommend them to anyone who likes that jazzy big band sound.

For more information on the, Squirrel Nut Zippers, please visit: http://www.snzippers.com/

The Blisters Rock Eau Claire

In my experience as an adventure seeker, when I am not on vacation, weekends are for two things: spending time with family and friends, or getting work done. I of course would prefer the former, which is why I went back to Eau Claire this past weekend to spend time with my family.

Saturday nights in Eau Claire are usually set aside for listening to my father’s band play, but on the rare occasion that we have a free night available, it is nice to get out and enjoy listening to other local musicians. This past Saturday happened to be one of those free evenings and I had the pleasure of enjoying the music of an Eau Claire band called, The Blisters.

The Blisters are a tight sounding, three-piece band, that plays old Rock n Roll and a little bit of country. Their humorous personalities work well together and are upstaged only by their great sound. Their harmonies are something to be commended and they have chosen a wonderful variety of music that will make you want to get up and dance.

The band consists of Peter Phippin, on bass, Dave Engedal, on guitar, and Mike “Slant” Hucek, on drums. All three band members take turns singing. They even shared the stage with a couple of other local musicians who were taking in the show.

Those of you who know me, know that I am a bit of a music snob and I can be pretty critical of local bands. I don’t hand out praise very easily, so my view on this group is sincere. If you want an enjoyable evening, filled with good company and good music, I would highly recommend going to the next Blisters gig. For more information on The Blisters, visit their Facebook page at: fb.me/theblistersrock.