Simple Things

20170615_12255120170610_133644

The old saying, ” Home is where the heart is,” rings true for myself and others who’ve experienced moving; especially numerous times. No matter where we live, we put down out roots, literally by either planting a tree, bushes, flowers, or volunteering within the community.

Moving and changing communities makes it difficult to form new relationships, especially as an older couple without children. That is why it is so important to take a few moments each day to take joy in the simple things. Take time to play tourist in your new community and share your finds with the natives. And don’t be afraid to ask about their favorite spots.  I’ve learned that long time members of a community often become so complacent that they overlook the little things their community has to offer.

Today, I’m keeping this post short but wanted to share a few pictures of the “simple things” that add joy to my daily living. It seems lately, that no matter where I live, I have native visitors. Living in Appleton, I love to walk along Apple Creek listening to the birds during the day, the frogs at night, and watching the carp as they mate. I also take great pleasure in the flowers and plants that we have so lovingly planted to beautify our yard. I hope that you also find pleasure in my simple joy.

The Holiday Staycation

We stayed in Appleton for the holiday with big plans to play tourist again. Our daughters came to visit and one brought along a cold or the flu, thus our tours were cut short and this blog post is late.

We had plans that included visiting ice sculptures, touring holiday light displays, volunteering with We Care Meals, hiking on Christmas Day, and stops at various museums and local shops and coffee shops. Surprisingly, we accomplished several of those things.

20161224_123813-collage

Before our daughters arrived and the rain melted the Appleton downtown ice sculptures, my husband and I ran downtown on Christmas Eve to take a gander.We didn’t have a lot of time as we spent the morning shoveling the heavy wet snow, building a snowman, and needed to rush home for the Packer game.Although the sculptures had started to melt, you could still see the creativity and skill that went into each one. It is a shame that the wicked temperatures on carving day put a damper on the winter event.Still, we enjoyed the sculptures and the snowman in Houdini Plaza and appreciate the Downtown Appleton, Inc. on their hard work in continuing to make the downtown thrive.

My family toured different Christmas displays than we saw last year. For the most part the ones we saw in Appleton were somewhat disappointing. We got a chuckle out of ourselves  as we loved the home that played a Santa video on a projection screen in the front window. Even as four adults we enjoyed the creativity.

Although the flu put a damper on our staycation, we did find an opportunity to venture out at the end of the week. First we enjoyed brunch at Appleton’s iconic Little Diner Xpress followed by a trip to the Kohler Design Center and museum. We spent hours in both. A trip to Kohler is well worth the drive; especially if you take the more scenic back roads. The ideas and technology displayed in the two levels of the design center are endless and have something for everyone.We loved the history in the lower level; having no idea that the Kohler family was involved in the manufacturing of agriculture implements, cast iron furniture, and in helping farmers and the country with the development of the diesel engine connected to an alternator; as well as design and manufacturing of plumbing fixtures. Kohler invented and manufactured the first dishwasher and garbage disposal as well as the first indoor bathtub modeled after a horse trough. Kohler, an innovative and forward thinking company, believes in taking care of their families and employees. The beautiful American Club is a prime example of the hospitality and warmth the Kohler family extended towards their employees and the community. Their story is worth reading and telling.

Lastly, we took a short jaunt to Menasha on New Year’s Eve for coffee and lunch at the charming coffee shop , “Your Daily Grind.” We stopped in a few shops which are all independently owned. At the recently opened Renewed and Reclaimed,we happened upon a great find we couldn’t resist. These simple snowmen were made by the Neenah High School special needs students in Workshop 120. The owner of “Renewed and Reclaimed”, Jodi, sells these items to support the students in the endeavor to hone their skills and buy specialty tools . One hundred percent of the proceeds goes directly back to Workshop 120. Please stop by “Renewed and Reclaimed”, located on Main St., in Menasha to support Jodi in her efforts.

20170103_12592020170103_125940-1

Although our holiday and the beginning of the new year were hampered by illness, we enjoyed getting to know our community of the Fox Valley a little better and highly recommend you touring these places. We are open to hearing about other “must see”destinations in the Fox Valley.

 

 

The Moving Experience

were-moving-1

The Moving Experience- I am an expert. In the last 37 years my husband and I personally moved 9 times. We also moved our children multiple times, more times than I want to count, and my parents once. We spent Thanksgiving weekend moving our daughter to her first home as a homeowner; thus the reason for this post.

Moving is a pain. I’ll admit it, I hate moving. But as a new home designer, all of my clients need to move. And no, those of you reading this post will not benefit from my physical skills at moving. But I offer free advice. I won’t even lament on how difficult it was to move my daughter as I want to save her any embarrassment and would like her to be there for me in my old age.

The first rule of thumb in moving is to declutter all your belongings. I personally am not a saver. Given our numerous moves, I tend to keep our belongings streamlined. I try to live by the motto of, “if you haven’t used something in the last couple of years than it is time to consider getting rid of the item.” Albeit, that is somewhat difficult with wedding presents and family heirlooms. Before you start packing sort your things into groups:

1. for keeping

2. for donating

3. for selling

4. for throwing away.

Take pictures of the things you need to sell and post them on the many Facebook selling sites. Choose your charities and don’t worry about the multiple trips you make as others benefit from the donated items.

If you tend to be a pack rat or haven’t moved for many years, the task may seem daunting. Set yourself a schedule and start with one closet or one drawer. Work your way through them and around the room. Finish one room before starting on another. It can actually be somewhat fun going down memory lane.

Next, as each box gets packed make sure it is labeled well. This can be done right on the box or with a typed up list inventorying the contents of each box. If you employ a mover to load and unload your household items, this is an excellent method of ensuring nothing gets lost or damaged. Also make sure to mark the box on several sides describing the room in which it belongs. Make sure to keep important items such as checkbooks, passports, and closing papers in an envelope or safe place.

I’ve noticed that many people are self moving rather than using a moving company. If that is the case, plan ahead by gathering all the needed supplies. Boxes and often packing paper can be found for free by posting on Facebook or looking at Craigslist. If you ask ahead you may acquire boxes at local grocery stores, Kwik Trips, and liquor stores. Make sure you purchase plenty of packing tape and good markers. Survey your larger decor such as pictures and mirrors to decide what kind of packing material to use. Most importantly, do not plan to pack everything one weekend. We sold our condo at the end of last November and moved December 18th. Knowing we were going to move soon, I started packing unnecessary items early. Even for an expert, packing up a whole house can be overwhelming.

Bottom line when moving- plan ahead. Keep it organized to make the whole process easier for both the move out and the move in. Change your address early on subscriptions, contact the utility companies so you have power upon move in, decide on internet and TV services and schedule the appointments for the day after you move in to your new home. Don’t be afraid to clean out, toss, sell, or donate old unused item. Take it from someone who hates clutter and disorganization, by following these simple suggestions the moving experience won’t be so traumatic.

3 Tips for Getting to Know your New Neighbors

neighbors

Moving into a new neighborhood can be a bit daunting, especially if you don’t know anyone. We recently moved into a new neighborhood and took it upon ourselves to make connections. Knowing your neighbors is very important for your own security and safety.

  1. Exchange contact information- My husband and I went door to door in our new neighborhood to introduce ourselves. We then put everyone’s names, address, emails, phone numbers, and kids names and ages into a shared google doc and sent it to everyone.
  2. Get up close and personal- When each new neighbor moved in after us, we took over a plate of homemade cookies to reinforce the “moving troops.”
  3. Arrange for a neighborhood get- together. This works especially well if it can be held outside so that the kids can all run around and play. A barbecue, potluck, or just an evening with BYB drinks provides a great opportunity for everyone to get together without having to go to a lot of work.

Knowing your neighbors makes living in a new city or neighborhood much more enjoyable. Our neighborhood has been able to share information about contractors for landscaping, patios, HVAC contractors, and watch each others’ homes while they are away. We often meet on the street to visit and have arranged for game nights with our neighbors.Don’t be afraid to get out and meet your new neighbors.

So Much to Do, So Little Time

IMG_20160609_181454967Summer; it’s waning way too fast for me. We are almost to the end of July and I still have so much to do. And the problem- sometimes life and work get in the way!

I love summer and especially love discovering what the Fox Valley offers. I am so excited for the Trout Museum of Art at the Park this Sunday.We used to attend this great event in the romantic, family friendly City Park when we lived in Appleton previously. As a matter of fact, everyday I wear a beautiful pearl ring that I purchased there as my 30th birthday present. I get compliments on it all the time. I realize that many of the same artisans visit the different art fairs but the one at City Park is near and dear to my heart. I think it has something to do with the setting, the large trees, the gazebo, and the fact that we often played there with our friends who lived in the neighborhood.

I am also so excited to experience the 4th Mile of Music next week. My family, along with the news, has been talking about it all summer. We chose the weekend to celebrate my birthday and spend together as a family. Our daughters will most likely select the music venues for us to attend. The Mile of Music organized by Cory Chisel has put Appleton on the map. It is another great selling point for people moving here; especially from larger cities. Big city music without the traffic and crime!

As the weekends slip away, we did get to enjoy boating on the Wolf River last weekend. The clouds rolled in as we arrived at the river so the heat and humidity weren’t too bad. We had a great time watching all the people and looking at the homes along the river. We also stopped at the Bridge Bar to a cool drink and to listen to one of the local live bands.

The weather has been a bit disappointing as it has rained  on a few Thursday evenings. We love to attend the Heid Music Summer Concerts in both Houdini Plaza and Jones Park. Although the music and venue differ greatly from the Concerts on the Square in Madison, it hasn’t discouraged us from attending and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

As I said, time is too short to enjoy all that the area and summer have to offer. I’m looking for advice for myself and the new residents  I meet as a new home builder. What events and activities do you recommend in the Fox Valley during the summer?

 

Summers in the City & the Beat Goes On

Appleton and the surrounding communities has certainly grown up over the last 25 years. The music, fairs, and activities keep the city alive and thriving. I enjoyed experiencing it again firsthand this last week.

Believe it or not, I had never visited the lovely Jones Park before. Last week, I joined some friends for the Heid Music Concert Series featuring Vic Ferrari and the Symphony on the Rocks. They put on an excellent show lasting over two hours with the music spanning decades. The weather proved to be perfect and the setting allowed for sitting both in the shade and the sun. The beer flowed easily for those that wished to partake, there were plenty of port- a -potties and parking was free and easy to find in the garages. The Heid Music Summer Concert Series proves to be a well organized event. Kudos to the organizers, volunteers, and sponsors.

It seems that Farmers Markets are popping up everywhere given the popularity of the “buy local” movement. Appleton is no exception. Although we grow a lot of our own produce in the summer, you can’t live or visit a city without experiencing the local farmer’s market. It really gives you the flavor of the city. The variety of locally grown food, music on every block, craft, and food sellers impressed us this weekend. We enjoyed strolling down the “Avenue” welcoming the beginning of summer.

I can’t wait for the Mile of Music and the Appleton Art at the Park in City Park. Both events promise to be delightful and exciting. I bought a ring there over 25 years ago and get compliments on it weekly.  As time allows, I will continue to enjoy the Heid Music Summer Concert Series and hope to try out some of the other weekly music venues.

What are your favorite summertime events in the Fox Valley? Please share.

20160625_105936
Downtown Appleton Farmer’s Market

 

 

Summer in the Valley- It’s Thriving

20160613_123145

Summer in the Fox Valley it thriving. We have been eagerly awaiting all that summer offers and the Fox Valley is definitely delivering.

We love music- especially the free kind. Last week we had the opportunity to enjoy the Heid Music Summer Concert Series in Houdini Plaza. The Jimmy’s put on a great show for an audience of all ages. The perfect evening offered great people watching and the smells emitted from the food trucks whetted plenty of appetites. On top of that, the U. S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team’s performance kept everyone on the edge of their seats.

On Friday as I walked to an appointment on College Avenue, I again had the opportunity to enjoy free music. There were local musicians performing during the lunch hour on the corners of College Avenue. What a pleasant way to enjoy a stroll while shopping or during your lunch hour! Downtown Appleton also offers free music during the lunch hour on Thursdays in Houdini Plaza.

Wednesdays in the summer promise to be pretty exciting with Downtown Appleton offering the WOW- Wild Wednesdays.  Yoga, movies, art, and free music are all part of the schedule. Plus, I can’t wait to visit the Paper Valley Courtyard on Wednesday evenings for more music. The Appleton City Band also performs on Tuesday nights at Pierce Park. There is hardly a summer evening that doesn’t have something great going on in the Fox Valley. And we haven’t even hit on the other cities and villages in the area.

This past weekend also had tons of choices. We bypassed the Flag Day Parade in Appleton which we have enjoyed in the past. This year instead we decided to try out the Kaukauna Electric City Festival. We went to Central Park where we totally enjoyed Cory Chisel. He put on a fantastic family friendly concert. Cory included the children in the crowd by bringing them on stage, giving them instruments, and even a microphone occasionally. It is great to have hometown talent!

Summer is still around the corner but the live entertainment in the Fox Valley is hot! What is your favorite venue to enjoy in the summer?