Me on the Madison, WI

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    JD and I moved to Madison last July and have had a great time exploring the city. Here are just a few of our favorite things about Badgerland...
    The Henry Villas Zoo is free. Let me say that's FREE. They have a good amount of animals and the animal cages/spaces are very close to the spectators, so you can get good these:
    Wisconsinites are very outdoorsy and they take advantage of the wonderful summer weather (because winters can be not-so-fun, as I'll get to later). JD and I went to the zoo 3 times in the first 2 months we lived here. And we've visited Olbrich's Botanical Garden 3 times also. The Garden has a Thai Pavilion and Garden that was given to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai Government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. It's covered in gold leaf, so spectators aren't allowed to touch it, as some of the gold is already chipping off due to weather.
    There are so many different kinds of plants, and I'm not a green thumb type of person (example: I'm pretty much giving my wedding florist free range to do whatever he wants) instead of naming them, I'll just show you some nice pictures I took :)

    Next, I'll share a list of my favorite places to go out to eat/drink. Essen Haus is a German restaurant that serves very German food. They also serve beer in glass boots, which is more fun that it originally sounds. The boot gets passed around the table ...and there are rules.
    1) The boot must never touch the table.
    2) You must drink from the boot toe-up.
    3) You must flick the boot before and after you drink from it.
    4) You do not want to be the last person to NOT finish the boot.
    (picture from
    I don't like beer...nor do I like drinking after a bunch of people, so I don't participate (party pooper, I know). But you can only imagine how seriously groups of twenty-somethings take this "game". With boots being passed around and live polka music in the background, this place is a hoppin' good time!

    The next place we heard about and just had to visit was...

    We have yet to get ice cream from here, but we have sat down to each lunch a couple times.
    "[It] offers a whimsical atmosphere filled with animated figures; homemade originals by the owner, various employees, and local artists in the Madison community.

    The animations include jugglers, flying supermen, castles, and decorations that are either moving back and forth on wires overheard or popping out of trap doors in the ceiling. Many tables have glass tops with detailed scenes or moveable parts inside."
    The last time we went there, our glass table had pages from Where's Waldo inside, so that kept JD and I entertained through the entire meal! Ella's has it's own carousel right outsider the diner, which of course I made JD ride with me :)

     I was having a grand time ^
     JD, not so much :-P

    I'll wrap this up with one more thing we love and one thing we weren't too pleased with from 2010 in Madison. We LOVE Concerts on the Square. The Madison Chamber Orchestra sets up outside the capitol building every Wednesday early-evening and plays free-of-charge. A large crowd usually shows up to listen to different themed music every week. Our favorite last summer was the Beatles theme. There are food vendors and beer vendors or you could bring your own picnic and set up camp on the capitol lawn. Such fun!

    Now for the "dark days" (literally, it gets dark at 4:30pm in the winter) of Madison. I actually don't think this past winter was that bad in comparison to previous ones, but JD and I have never experienced previous ones so we had a right to complain :) The first snow of the year wasn't until after Thanksgiving (thank goodness!), but it started off with a bang. Blizzard conditions! I drove in it (dumb), but that's neither here nor there. Anyway, here's a picture from either December or January right outside our apartment:

     The snow was up to my mid-thigh, which is impressive considering I'm 5'10" and have long legs. Luckily, the snow has melted off (only a little is left from the HUGE piles that were made from plowing) and we are looking forward to another beautiful summer.
     The capitol building.
    Fun Fact: The downtown area of Madison is a land bridge between two large lakes. This is the view of Lake Monona as we were driving towards downtown.
    Fun Fact #2: Wisconsin is home of the 2010 Superbowl Champions- The GREEN BAY PACKERS!!! I will admit, I wasn't a huge Packers fan before I moved here. But, this year, a guy I went to high school with joined the team- Tom Crabtree, #83! He got playing time in 5 or 6 games and made Bloom-Carroll High School (Carroll, Ohio) very proud :) 
    If you live in the Madison area, I would love tips on where to eat, things to do, etc. If you aren't from Wisconsin, but are ever passing by, take the time to stop and check it out...during the summer!

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