Category Archives: Madison

Madison’s Top Tens

This has been a big week and it’s only Tuesday. Last weekend, I packed up as much of my house as possible, loaded it up in as few suitcases as possible, packed it into my sister’s car and headed to Minneapolis. I’m spending the week here before flying up to Anchorage on Friday. Then Sam will wrap up work and come with the car in about a month 😦

I am truly excited about moving up there, but I have been pretty sad about leaving Madison, all our wonderful friends, and our new house. My sister recently asked me to tell her things I’ll miss about Madison, so I thought I would take the time to make a nice little top 10 list. This is way more than she bargained for. But it’s handy… for posterity. And for whenever I come back. And for you.

(Of course, as I wrote this, I decided I needed a whole separate category for food.)



Sunset at the terraace

1. Biking on a warm summer evening to the terrace to drink beer and eat popcorn

2. Having friends over to eat dinner on our deck


Climbing one of the 10,000,000 hills of the Hilly

3. The Horribly Hilly and the Dairyland Dare: one day “challenge rides.” You’ll hate your life until you reach the finish line and can hardly wait to sign up for next year

4. “Working” meetings at the Echo Tap

5. “Kayaking” (also what some would call floating aimlessly) on Lake Monona with Abby

6. Mountain biking, skiing, road biking, or hiking at Blue Mounds State Park and stopping to eat at the Grumpy Troll on the way home

IMG_06237. Devil’s Lake State Park: huffing it up the bluff and then sitting on a rock and taking in the view

8. Paoli bike rides and stopping at the top of observatory hill to enjoy the view and catch your breath

9. Thrift shopping at ReThreads on State Street (tons of cuteness under $10)

10. Walking over to Kate’s house in my jammies on Saturday mornings for coffee


1. Cheese curds and old fashionds at the Old Fashioned


Willaby’s Cafe, Willy Street, Madison

2. The Fair Oaks Skillet at Willaby’s Cafe

3. Vanilla swirls at Batches Bakehouse

4. Anything and everything at Greenbush Bakery. Pick one and then ask the doughnut dealer for his or her favorite.

5. Playing flip cup with cheap pitchers of beer at State Street Brats

6. Panang curry, chicken eggrolls, and mango and sticky rice at Ha Long Bay

7. Walnut burger at The Harmony

8. Crusier-bike riding to Mickey’s Dairy Bar for scramblers and cinnamon rolls

9. Commuter bike riding to Mickey’s bar to get drinks on their back patio on warm summer nights

10. Buying an entire loaf of warm, spicy cheesy bread at the Farmer’s Market and eating most of it while walking around the square

Rest of Wisconsin/UP


ABR Ski Cabin

1. Renting ski-in cabins at ABR Ski Trails (Ironwood, MI)

2. 4th of July fireworks on Boom Lake (Rhinelander)

3. Biking up to Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains and then trying to hit 40 MPH on the way back down. I’ve never done it. Yet! (Ontonagon, MI)

4. Canoeing the Kickapoo. Just as good: driving through the driftless to explore its various parks and fishing the streams on the way there (Ontario)

5. Pewitt’s Nest -bring your swimsuit! (Baraboo)


Levi’s Trow

6. This is for Sam: Wisconsin/UP’s own IMBA “epic” mountain bike trails: Levi’s Trow (Near Black River Falls) and Copper Harbor, MI

7. The Trails at Nine Mile and Rib Mountain  can hold an honorary spot too (Wausau)

8. A summer day on any lake in Northern Wisconsin, on a boat, with beer, and country music. Heavenly.

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

9. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore  – easily the best vacation of my life (Grand Marais, MI)

10. …I’m leaving this open to represent the large amounts of awesomeness yet to be explored in Wisconsin

What else would you add to the list??

Tagged , , , , , ,

Weekend Warriors Go To Alaska

This blog got a facelift! I updated the former, environmentally focused “Welcome to the Good Life” blog in order to open up the content options to share more about my life now. Check out more behind this change in the updated “About” page. I hope you like it. Thanks for reading! –Jenny


I knew we’d end up going the moment Sam told me that he may apply for a job in Anchorage.

Nevermind the house we just bought, the puppy we were about to buy, and the already happy and fairly adventurous life we currently live. I thrive on newness, live in fear of regret, and recognize that our relationship is always at its best when we’re experiencing new things together.

So, as I have done many times with other big propositions in the past, I immediately jumped on it… and then soon started freaking out about it.  (Why do I always do this backwards of the sensible way? e.g. 1. Think, 2. React.)

I am certain I will look back on this time and laugh because I’ve gotten it all wrong. Once I get through the next three weeks of packing, selling, storing, and planning maybe everything will be totally fine. But right now – after accepting a job, telling my Momma, giving notice at work ,and realizing how much needs to get done at home all in one day – I feel overwhelmed, nervous and pretty sad. I want to go to Alaska, but I don’t want to leave our good friends, beautiful new home, and the comfort of family close by.

Familiarity is nice. But perhaps (and cross your fingers with me here) adventure is better.



It has been almost a year since I’ve blogged. A YEAR. Luckily, I have good things to say about the end of 2011 and most of 2012. In fact, I have so many good things to say I hardly know where to start.

Actually I do. It’s with this guy —-> 

I have always liked to do stuff. Just in general. But this guy takes “doing stuff” to a whole ‘nother level. He has that good initiative to bundle up and strap on some skis when it’s 10 degrees out. Or that motivation to start training for biking season…in March. I have never had that “get up and go.” But, he inevitably brings me with him and although I grumble and whine (a lot) getting out of the warm car to put on my bike shoes or ski boots on days the sun is NOT shining, I get going and always end up thanking him for forcing us up and out.


His “doing stuff” also occasionally results in me sitting in a diner in Copper Harbor, Michigan surrounded completely by mountain bikers (read: really, really smelly dudes) after a night of sleeping in a tent in a storm yelling, “Ifeellikeicantkeepupwithyou!”

But that’s getting ahead of myself. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the awesome stuff we (I) have been doing since I last posted:

Rock-tober 2011: This was the month I ran my first half marathon. I attempted to write a blog post about that milestone, but decided I was better off relishing in my personal victory all by myself. My journal from that day starts, “I do not want today to end. Today I finally proved that I am capable of setting a lofty goal, dedicating myself to work toward it, and reaching it – all by myself.” This taught me the value in goals – especially when it comes to athletics.

Thinking of doing one for the first time? If you’re anything like me, you’ll need a schedule. Print it and put it somewhere you see everyday. I liked this one.

November: This is the month I discovered Pinterest. I know this sounds lame to list as a milestone, but this means that I found a lot of really good new tips, tricks and recipes that have now become staples. I could do a whole post on this, but here are three of my faves:

December: I can’t remember a damn thing about last December except that it was really busy at work and then I got to spend Christmas in MN followed by a week on the beach in Florida. Not too shabby.

January: Someone wonderful sent me this quote that I have come to love:

Bessie Stanley, in the Lincoln Sentinel on Nov. 30, 1905 wrote:

(s)”he has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.”

February: Got to see so many of my favorite people all in one place. I am so proud of my friends from high school (many of whom live in Chicago where this picture was taken). They’ve all gone on to do such wonderful things!

March: Sam finished chemo this month. He’s been on the up and up for a long time now, but every time I watch him cross any finish line on his bike, I still have the urge to yell, “HE SURVIVED CANCER… RECENTLY!” What an inspiration.

April: Oh you know, just BOUGHT A HOUSE. We love it, but for most of the summer it has merely served as ‘homebase’ in between activities. Cook a meal, clean, sleep, store the bikes for the night, load them, go to work. Repeat. (Or some variation of that.)


June: Tackled Horribly Hilly Hundreds (“the toughest one day challenge ride in the midwest”) number two.

July: Did July even happen? It was a blur. Aside from attending some bike event, family occasion or work trip constantly, I also started indoor climbing as a result of purchasing a groupon to the local climbing gym and LOVED it. It’s a workout, a puzzle to be solved, not terribly time-consuming and just plain fun. I highly recommend it. And, I got to visit Hannah in my first trip to the Big Apple!

August: Biking, biking, biking. Then, started training for my second half marathon. And, for the first time in my life I feel like an athlete.

I am sure I forgot a lot. But, I have had a great year. I feel tired so often, but I also feel really, really happy.

…which is something to remind myself next time I am rushing to load the car up with a canoe, paddles, PFDs, two mountain bikes, gear, clothing, toilitries, a tent, sleeping bags, pads, (etc) to get on the road to make it up north before 2 am. Or something like that.

Thanks for reading this long blog post. Let’s do it again sometime- soon!


Wishes, Loves and To-Dos

Approximately two and a half months ago I promised to document my half marathon training. Sadly (and somewhat unsurprisingly), that didn’t happen. Luckily, the half marathon training has happened, and I’ll be running it in just a little over a week. (eek!)

Tonight’s run was the kind that would have made this blog awesome had I documented the whole process. It was colorful, warm, quick and reminded me of how far I have come.

The jury is definitely still out about how much I actually like running itself. But the time to think, and the opportunity to notice little things to add to the list of all I love about Madison make it well worth sore hip flexors and inability to gracefully ascend or descend the stairs.

Anyway, tonight I particularly appreciated the thinking about nothing and now I have separated my “nothing-thoughts” into three categories for your enjoyment. (Amusement?)


– I wish I had taken the following classes in college: forestry, horticulture, creative writing, photography, pastry making (is that real?) and lots more. Just more variety. I miss learning.

– I wish I hadn’t stopped writing for so long. Ira Glass is currently my main source of inspiration on this matter: (click the image to enlarge)


So many things!

– The houses that are growing beautiful things like pumpkins, colorful flowers, mums, etc, and have done it in lovely ways that I am determined to someday master.

– The block of Spaight Street that had the most perfect fall colors. Bright yellow, electric green, deep red. Oh boy, oh boy it was amazing. I gasped outloud.

– All the smells while running. Tonight’s highlights: the autumnal smell of decaying leaves that smells dirty and sweet at the same time, lots of dinners (particularly one that reminded me of Grandma Lynes’ goolash), french fries, and Sam’s cooking when I walked in the door.

– How I felt like I had a relatively easy run and it was five miles! I will never get over how awesome I think that is.

To Dos:

– Write more. (Do it, do it, do it. DO IT.)

– Take some sort of class to chisel away at my “wishes” list.

– Get awesome at baking bread and do it regularly.

Ready? Go.

Tagged , , , ,

This is what DE-MOC-RACY looks like

Beep – Beep – Beep – Bah – Beep – Bah – Beep – Beep – Beep.

Though there have been many, this is the tune of the “crowd favorite” chant over the past 3 weeks at the Wisconsin capitol. Protesters yell it, car horns honk it, and my mind constantly replays it throughout every part of the day (wait, was that in my mind or did a passing car just honk it?).

This morning, as I sit and drink Just Coffee’s aptly named, “Revolution Roast” and try to get that beepbeepbeep out of my head, I am amazed, once again, looking through the images of the turnout to the state’s capitol yesterday.

Since Clean Wisconsin’s office is located about 4 doors down from the center of the action, it’s been day after crowd-packed day of chants, honking horns, clever signs, free pizza, marching union leaders, marching students, marching firefighters, and marching teachers, all determined, angry, mobilized, and very, very persistent.

While I am usually hesitant to write a blog post about political matters – especially this one that’s about as divisive a topic as you can imagine, I still want to make sure my out of town readers realize just how amazing these protesters have been – that amidst day in and day out of bad news, the crowds come peaceful, organized and in big, big numbers.

On Wednesday, the sneaky Senate found a [potentially-illegal] way to vote on the Budget Repair Bill (the bill that includes the contested collective bargaining piece) without a quorum. Sam and I were at a film festival near the capitol at that time, and went down afterward to see what was going on. It was madness. Before I get to the crowds, you should really watch what it is exactly that happened that night in the Joint Finance Committee before it moved to the Senate. It’s pretty crazy. Watch here.

…Hearing them vote as Rep. Barca is yelling at them that the vote is illegal, while you can hear the crowds yelling right outside the door. Wow. Representative Gordon Hintz also did a good job of expressing the frustrations of many in this awesome speech the week prior:

Well, anyway. The crowds were quite riled up when Sam and I got down there. We made it inside and up to the third floor of the packed capitol and made a few loops around looking for a spot to stand and see the drama unfold in the rotunda below. The place was noisy as hell and filled with such an array of people. Sure, there were your smelly, stoned, dreadlocked protesters that you’d expect at any protest, but for the most part, the capitol was full of normal everyday pissed-off people who are just frustrated, and standing there is the only thing they can think to do at this point.

We ran into the exec director of Clean Wisconsin, many fellow students, interns, UW professors, WI Supreme Court hopeful David Prosser, Tia Nelson (the daughter of Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day), one founder of Clean Wisconsin, the previous mayor of Madison (who had apparently snuck in through a bathroom window at the time the capitol was locked in order to protest the vote) and 8 policemen with mustaches (hey, we needed something to do).

What’s truly amazing though, is with as angry as everyone has a right to be, the protesters have made their occupation of the capitol somewhat of a science. This HuffPost blogger paints a really good picture in his post, “The Unbreakable Culture of the Occupied Capitol,” but that night Sam and I probably got there at 9:30 pm, and by the time we left at 11:30, in anticipation for protesters staying over night, fellow-protesters had come distributing free water, fruit, and pizza to the crowds, and holding “peaceful protest info-session” gatherings in the assembly. There were people delegated to go around and get signatures for recall petitions, and others delegated to go around with mega-phones on each floor announcing over and over: “This is a peaceful protest. The police are waiting for us to become violent so they can kick us out; do not let this happen. Later tonight the police might tell you to leave the capitol. You do not need to leave, but do not resist arrest, do not become limp…” etc.

My pictures don’t do justice, but there are many that do.

Alright, I’m disappointed by my inability to describe the powerful scene that night (and many previous to that night), but it’s time to wrap this up. But I do think that despite all the bad news, the scene at the capitol has been truly amazing, and I feel really lucky to have gotten to see so much of the action. Although I might go crazy if I hear that protest again, this really is what democracy looks like.

Oh also, one major lesson of all this:


Wisconsin elections are April 5th. And according to a friend, “If you were down there protesting this bill and you don’t go vote, you’re the worst kind of person.”

Here is any info you need to know (for Wisconsin).

Beep – Beep – Beep – Bah – Beep – Bah – Beep – Beep – Beep.


My Green Life: The Introduction

My last real post was June 24th. That’s a long time for the blogging world, but for me personally, that seems like a lifetime ago. (And in some ways, it was.)

Even though this blog so far has been about my green living in general, I have titled this post, “The Introduction” because I feel as though my adult life began sometime in late June, and that’s what requires an introduction.

I promise future posts will be a bit more directly eco-focused, but for my friends, family, and anyone else who cares about the more exciting aspects of my personal life… you should stay tuned.

Chapter One:

(Just kidding, I hope it won’t really be that long.)

It all starts with Clean Wisconsin, an environmental non-profit in downtown Madison.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I had the most awesome internship there last semester. I learned a great deal about writing, media, how to present clean energy and the environment to a non-agreeing and/or political audience, how much a dedicated group of people can actually accomplish, and also how to deal with the failures that occasionally occur. More importantly, I gained confidence in myself as an almost-college grad and in my ability to write and communicate about the environment. For these lessons, I largely have my supervisors, Amanda Wegner and Sam Weis, to thank.

During this time and as a result of what I was learning (in school and at Clean Wisconsin), I started to question what I wanted with my post-grad plans and ended up making some crazy direction-changes and landed in Madison permanently. While I certainly never expected to be here, the lures of a strong environmental and socially progressive community, paired with proximity to fun adventures, good entertainment and, unexpectedly, my new boyfriend… Sam Weis… keep me here happily.

During my first few weeks in Madison after moving back from Minneapolis, I struggled to find a job and ensure my conscious (and Mom) that I’d done the right thing. Meanwhile, Sam and I hung out everyday and immediately connected. All these changes were exciting, but tainted by the fact that there was relatively low permanence to me being here because I had no roots here, place to live, or source of income.

Then, on June 25th I was offered a full-time job at Clean Wisconsin as the Membership Assistant, meaning that I get to talk to members, thank them for donations, get them involved, and help recruit new members (among other things). Then things really started to come together. Although it’s not the communications position I ideally wanted, I’m still working for an environmental cause, and even working to convince others why they should care about the environment. (And… I’m also working for a paycheck. Which is good.)

Questions I had upon coming here were almost entirely answered in such a short amount of time: Would things with Sam turn out to be as great as I (we) thought they would be? Would I find a job? Would I stay in Madison after this summer? Would I like it here?

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

So, long story… not-that-short, I am now sitting in Sam and my flat on Madison’s east side, still sweaty from the bike ride home from work, typing this post, happy as could be. Sam and I have had a summer packed full of fun stuff that I’ve always wanted to do when picturing my pseudo-outdoorsy, environmentally-friendly life… going to Lake Superior and Devil’s Lake, hiking around the Porcupine Mountains, making driftwood bonfires on the beach, taking late night bike rides, pitching a hammock between two trees somewhere in Madison, cooking delicious foods…

Anyway, this was long and unsolicited, but I’m really excited about having a place of my/our own and finally getting to write about “green living” when dorm rooms, easy mac, and absent recycling collection are out of the picture. I’m excited about implementing all these green-living tips that I’ve come across during the Environmental Studies program at school … and getting to write about them!

Well, I’m excited about a lot of things.

Finally, just in case you, like me, are trying to figure out what to do with your CSA share this week (eggplant, peppers, basil, carrots, onion, broccoli) here’s a great, simple, & yummy Thai recipe I found. (Except add more spicy stuff and any other veggies you need to get rid of!)

More to come soon!


Tagged ,