Life and the Staycation in the Little “Apple”

 

We don’t live in the big city, not even close to the “Big Apple”. But  living and doing a staycation in our “Little Apple” otherwise known as Appleton, WI has many benefits that residents and visitors of the bigger city can’t even realize.

First of all, we don’t really have traffic, just traffic lights. When I lived here previously, 441 was just being completed. We didn’t get to enjoy the benefits of bypassing the city traffic. Although, I find 441 a great benefit when I am in a hurry, I use the city streets when I desire a leisurely drive. Besides little traffic, Appleton and the surrounding Fox Cities have much to offer whether you are a nature buff, a cultural buff, or both. I personally am excited for the Heid Music Summer Concert Series to start again June 1. I love warm summer evenings listening to free local musicians while people watching. Of course we are excited to partake in the Mile of Music once again to hear new evolving groups. The Trout Museum has a revolving door of different exhibits and I just noticed a pop up art gallery on College Avenue.  There are history museums such as the Hearthstone Historical House Museum, gardens, and children’s museums to visit. And everyone needs to learn about two of our most famous past residents; Harry Houdini and Edna Ferber.  Did you know that Appleton was once part of the Underground Railroad?

The Fox Valley has many parks to visit and trails that take hikers walking around the Fox River. Families can partake in activities at most of the parks such as  Gordon Bubolz Nature Center, Thousand Islands, and Plamann Park. Check their schedules to learn more. What is your favorite park in our community?

I could continue on about the reasons to live and take a staycation in the Fox Valley but I don’t really need to reinvent the wheel, so I am providing a link to the 14 Best Things to Do in Appleton, WI. If your favorite thing is not on the list, please feel free to add it.

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.

 

 

A Year in Retrospect in the Fox Valley

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

A year in retrospect in the Fox Valley. We returned to live in the Fox Valley last December 21st after a 23 year hiatus. We lived all over Wisconsin during our time away and found many things to love and of course a few to dislike about each area.

So what is it about Appleton and the Fox Cities that we find attractive? The winters are NOT on the list of what we ( especially I) love! Actually, I abhor them and am already freezing and tired of wearing so many clothes. But we had a beautiful summer and a long fall, allowing us to spend weekends on the boat, take long walks in the evenings, and partake in all of the outdoor music the area has to offer.I can’t wait for spring to arrive.

The Fox Cities really grew up in our time away. As a matter of fact when we first moved here in the early 1980’s, one had to go to Green Bay to do big shopping other than Sears and J.C. Penney’s. Then the downtown developed with the Avenue Mall and later the Fox River Mall came on the scene.It is exciting to see a bustling downtown with locally owned shops, restaurants, and coffee shops.  Today, the arts and music scene, while continuing to evolve offers something for everyone. We loved the Heid Summer Music Series and attended each one . The Mile of Music, extremely well done with a wide variety of acts, attracted a crowd of all ages, including the little ones at the Lawrence University Academy of Music. We’ve enjoyed the arts too, with visits to the Trout Museum, Take Me to the River month long exhibit at the old Thilmany Mill in Kaukauna, the Art Fair in City Park, and the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh. The beautiful PAC brings in some great shows.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Fox Valleyaires Barbershop Concerts and area competition in which my husband participates.

We have also taken time to enjoy hiking in both the winter and fall at Thousand Islands Nature Preserve while watching the wild river run over rocks and logs into the more serene lake. We’ve driven along the lakeshore in both Oshkosh and Manitowoc, thrilled with the park areas that have been established so people can enjoy some of the areas natural beauty.

The sporting events have also grown in the area. We love hockey so ventured up to Green Bay to watch the Gamblers and the UW- Madison Hockey team. We’ve been to the Timber Rattlers for baseball and will most likely return.

The year hasn’t been all about what the Fox Valley offers. It also involves work. In the spring, I started a job as a new home designer with Midwest Design Homes and Jon Huss Custom Homes. This fun position allows me to use my creativity in helping people design their dream homes. It also means that I need to go out and network. I have met some wonderful people in the area through the chambers, BNI, and Fox Valley Women in Business.

We also spent that past year working on settling in our new home and making it ours. That meant hours of sweat equity in landscaping and maintaining a brand new yard. To think that 2 years ago I was reveling in the ease of condo living. Now we are once again shoveling snow, mowing, and weeding. Plus, our beautiful 3 season room should be completed today!

We need to continue to discover and enjoy the area. First on my list is to seek out the best holiday displays and visit the Kohler Museum over the holidays. We will also return to the Trout Museum and walk downtown Appleton to admire the ice sculptures.

What are your favorite activities in the Fox Valley area that you would recommend?

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?