Tag 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??

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Natural House


DSCN1120 This week for ecology lab we traveled to a natural house made by Design Coalition Architects in Madison.

Aside from the goofy looking (but meticulously calculated) overhangs on the sides, it looked like a fairly traditional home. But, after our tour (3.5 hours and 6 pages of notes!) we were all assured that this house was very far from standard! This, hopefully is a fact about houses that will change in upcoming years.

The architects on this project really thought of everything. From the location (close to the city, family, and work for biking or public transportation), to the porous driveway (that allows water to percolate into the ground and reenter the groundwater instead of runoff or erode), to the to the high tech Air Core floor.

This house had so many inspirational ideas for builders or anyone looking to improve and upgrade their home.

I’ll start with the fact that nearly all household materials were recycled. Sinks, tiles, counter tops, roofing, cabinets, insulation, appliances, you name it. Even better, we didn’t even notice. It seems that recycled or “second-hand” has a bad connotation, but all this stuff looked pretty nice. Lou (the homeowner and architect), told us about the re-store which sells recycled materials such as the ones that can be found in this house. Another great source for green (non-toxic, sustainably made) household materials that I’ve heard of is Grow and Make. Although sites like Grow and Make can insure that its products are safe and chemical free, Lou couldn’t, so he’s found a sealant called, Safe Seal, to prevent any chemicals that might be in his recycled cabinets, for example, from escaping into the air or onto his plates!

Next, Lou told us all about the amazing insulation and thick windows (tripple glazed) that help make it so the house requires very little energy to heat/cool. Most importantly, the insulation was completely non-toxic (made from recycled denim!) so we got to touch it too. I don’t think anyone would do that with fiberglass! This insulation, combined with straw-clay walls, contributes to a greater R-Value, or the measure of thermal resistance, of the house.


These walls, paired with the passive solar heating system utilized by the house helped Lou and his wife keep their energy bill nicely around $400 a YEAR.

Passive solar just means that they utilized the sun to moderate the temperature in their house. Lou explained this novel idea and I wasn’t sure whether to be dumbfounded at how genius it is, or just say “duh!” (why don’t we all do that?!). The house had large south-facing windows and tiny northern side ones. It placed rooms like the kitchen, living room, and bedroom (that need heat) next to these south windows, and uninhabited things like closets, stairs, and storage on the north side. Smart right? ($400/year smart!)

DSCN1123I could go on for quite some time with all the stuff I learned, but I’ll just throw in a few highlights:

1. The high-efficiency boiler (and tankless waterheater)

2. The low-flow water appliances

3. Rainwater Cisterns

4. PVC-free Plumbing

5. Nothing plastic!

6. Certified sustainably harvested wood (which is now sold commercially at Home Depot and Manards)

7. Natural cleaning products (some homemade)

8. Cork flooring upstairs

9. Vent roof (aids the passive solar system)

10. Framing that uses much less wood but is just as sturdy

The clear theme was sustainablility and “embedded energy.” Nothing was complicated, but everything was well-planned. Lou and his team took the time to ask important questions, and came out better in the end because of it.

How did this get to me? How long will it last? How close is this to its original form? What went into making this?

I loved his idea of sustainability too. They decided not to install a solar panel system, but they put all the wiring into the walls so that if the next person wanted to install it they could without tearing out the walls. He explained that to be really sustainable you have to think about what is good for you now as much as what will be good in the future. While solar isn’t necessary in Lou’s house now, there are contractors and engineers nationwide who are working to make solar more practical and affordable for other families. (Lake Eerie Electric comes to mind for families in Ohio or Michigan. Check them out!)

This house was an inspiration for my future house and gave me a better idea of sustainable thinking. The green and environment part of it was cool, but what struck me was how humanitarian the house was. It embodied community, concern for other workers, and learning… so it was just neat to see all the thought and true concern that went into a really cool finished product, instead of just a financial focus like we’re so used to seeing. The more I learn about the issues in our homes, buildings, ecosystems, cities… the more I appreciate the innovative ideas at places like Grow and Make, Lake Erie Electric, Grist and so many others who dedicate their careers to thinking of new, creative, sustainable ideas to help us all and improve this crazy world we all share.

Anyway, if you’re in Madison and have the opportunity to check out some Design Coalition projects, I would recommend it. Seems like those people have a lot to teach and I’m AMAZED at how much there is to learn!



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Madison’s “real food” System

This was a paper I turned in for my Food, Culture, and Society class. It’s longer than my usual posts, but it is an overview of what I’ve learned (and gained) from being a part of Madison’s amazing, developing, and transformative food culture.


Jenny Lynes

Exercise 1

On September 27th, I found myself at the Madison Food for Thought Festival standing behind the sales table of the ‘Buy Fresh, Buy Local Café’ donned in a volunteer’s T-shirt handing out scones. Crowds of people walked past me toting canvas bags with bright red, yellow, and green produce poking out. They talked about petting the chickens, what Michael Pollan had said to them, and interesting new recipes they’d found that creatively included kale, zucchini, and lots (and lots) of tomatoes. As a stilt-walking farmer strolled past me, then stopped to take a picture with my literary role model, Michael Pollan, I had to take a moment.

How did I get here?

My history with local foods is a short one. In fact, just this spring I was a paying member in a weight loss program that encouraged my notion, as Michael Pollan describes, that eating at any one time does only one of two things: 1. Fixes my health, or, 2. Ruins my health. Paul Rozin calls this pleasure-voided idea of eating a personal and cultural “nightmare.” Wendell Berry calls these eaters “victims… passive, uncritical, and dependent.” M.F.K. Fisher describes this process as, “[eating with] a glum urge for food to fill us.” Saying, “we are ignorant of flavour. We are as a nation taste-blind.”

Putting these notions in my past, I spent time on a small family farm in Maine this summer where the farmer occasionally compared eating to sex. I knew that food could taste good, but this idea introduced me to the idea of pleasure in eating and began to prepare me for entering into the web of farmers, advocates, students, eaters, and community-makers by which I have been surrounded thus far this semester.

Through this essay, I would like to explain the Madison Food System and those involved with it through the lens of a ‘slow food baby’, or perhaps more accurately: a ‘real food baby’. I didn’t know it was possible, but this food I’ve been eating has taught me about myself. Despite a prior connection to and passion for the environment, Madison has taught me that Berry was right. “How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, the way the world is used.” On one of the first days of class, someone mentioned that Cargill would defend its practices by stating it’s just delivering what we want and what the market asks for. Although this town is not short many a “beer-and-pizzavore,” I wonder; if Cargill’s products were based off the Madison market demand, would America’s food system be the same? Would Cargill even exist?

Continue reading

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Slow Food in Madison

If Madison had a full name, I think it would be: Madison Slow-Food Wisconsin. (Well, maybe Madison Badger Football Slow-Food Wisconsin. Whatever.)

I became interested in food issues as a way to narrow my environmental focus last fall, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized just how impressive and involved the slow and local food movements are here. I now know how lucky I am to be surrounded by this and I will definitely gain plenty of ideas should I ever want to start similar programs in another city someday.

DSCN0763This morning I volunteered at the Food for Thought Festival where Michael Pollan also came to speak. I was only expecting a few people to stop by after the farmers’ market, so I was surprised when thousands of people stopped by to show support, learn, eat, and make community!

I got to meet many interesting people while I was working at the Buy Fresh, Buy Local cafe and then the info table. I EVEN got to break my no-meat fast with a brat from L’Etoile restaurant which told me all about the farm from which the meat came. It was so good. (SO. GOOD.)

Anyway, the morning made me excited about becoming more involved with food advocacy since it’s such a great way to play an important role in environmental issues and has an appeal to all types of people eating all types of foods. I’m hesitant to focus only on one “issue” group since I know I have a lot more to learn, but this has been really fun so far this year.

I’d love to go on, but I have to get to some homework, so I’ll let some pictures tell the story for themselves.


People learning about REAP and BFBL

People learning about REAP and BFBL

Had to love this after my soils test on Monday!

I had to love this after my soils test on Monday

The BFBL cafe tent where I was. SUCH good food!

The BFBL cafe tent where I was. SUCH good food!

Some local art (of food... surprise) with a view of the capitol

Some local art (of food... surprise) with a view of the capitol

The demonstration tent

The demonstration tent


Thanks for the food, farmers!

Thanks for the food, farmers!

Pet the chickens!

Petting the chickens

Tons of produce at the Farmers' Market

Tons of produce at the Farmers' Market

My friend Adi buying apples

My friend Adi buying apples

Fall flowers

Fall flowers

Anyway, it was a great morning and congrats on a successful event to REAP Food Group!

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Madison, Wisconsin


So, my boyfriend tells me that I need to keep blogging to make something of this space.

While I love writing, I live in constant fear of boring my readers! But I suppose I’ll give more of a daily life take on my blog for a while and see how it goes. But seriously, ANY feedback would be helpful. I really want to make this space an outlet for good writing, worthwhile ideas, funny stories and sharing of opinions. But I guess that’s tough to do with no new posts! Anyway, and ideas would be great.


As the title suggests, I am now moved into Madison for my LAST year of college. I’m torn between being really excited of all the things I’m about to learn this year and also being incredibly over this town and wanting to move onto bigger and better things and more hands-on learning. One day at a time I guess.

Here’s some stuff that’s goin on:

1. I’m taking a really cool class called Food, Culture and Society. It examines “the social relations surrounding the production, distribution, preparation, and consumption of food.” As you can imagine, this class addresses many of my current interests and I feel honored to learn and contribute. On Wednesdays the class gathers to prepare and eat a meal together. It’s just great. I’m excited to share what I learn with you! We’re currently reading Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” in time for him to visit Madison later this month!

I really admire him. I actually wish I was him. What a cool job!

2. I’m also going to be learning a lot more about the scientific aspects of climate change and ecology. This information and these classes are currently quite over my head, but I think translating them into English to be able to post here might be good for me. Currently the processes of oxidation in soil profiles and the presence of infrared rays in layers of the atmosphere are a bit over my head. One day at a time Jenny, one day at a time.

3. Even though I don’t know how I’ll find time, I’m trying to muster up my courage to go into the office for one of Madison’s two student newspapers, The Badger Herald, to apply to write for them. I feel overwhelmed at the thought of doing this on top of trying to succeed (and more importantly, learn) this year while having a life outside of school (read: blogging!). But, I know having published clips will help in job searching next year and I would like to dust off my journalistic abilities. I’m making myself do it THIS WEEK.

There, now I have to.

4. I’ve committed myself to buying local foods since being inIMG_0728 Madison and have reaped the benefits of WONDERFUL Wisconsin cheeses, tomatoes (red, yellow, cherry, grape, striped, green… you never know what you’re gonna get), cucumbers, zucchini-galore, onions, potatoes, fresh jams, artisan breads, spinach, YOU NAME IT! Madison has such an amazing local foods culture that I never knew existed. What a pleasant surprise! I’m excited to make my mom’s veggie-enchilada recipe with all seasonal veggies (to freeze for the dreary winter months) hopefully tomorrow in addition to gathering the ingredients to make a few types of pesto to share with the food class on Wednesday. Yum.

In efforts to stay healthy to get through this year and accomplish all that I want to, I think spending a few extra dollars on these foods are worth it. Hopefully I won’t be biting my tongue in January when I run out of money (don’t worry, I’m applying for jobs)!IMG_0709

5. Socially, I’ve had a blast catching up with old friends, reminiscing about the good memories of my trips to Scottsdale, AZ, the Colorado Rockies and New Orleans, and sitting on the dock in Madison “doing homework” (see left). And, I’m looking forward to a trip to DC next weekend!

6. I’m kicking around the idea of doing the Peace Corps next year or sometime soon. Any thoughts on this?

Ok well, I should go for now. I’m trying to get all my work done tonight so I can enjoy the day on my roommate’s family’s boat tomorrow and soak up the sun while I still can.

Hope you are all well!


PS oh, also. I finally have my own apartment (meaning finally settling in after attending 4 schools!) and I love my roomies 🙂

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