Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Big Chill

It's the last day of January and another day of cold and snow. I ventured outside today for only a couple of reasons - to put out the garbage can, to mail a couple of letters and to let Bailey out to do her business. Other than that I am quite happy to stay inside where it is warm and cozy. I took this picture the other day when the snow was coming off the Brise Soleil on the Art Museum - thought it looked pretty interesting. We're expecting another 3-5 inches tonight. Of course Mike is out of town so I am left with the shoveling. He's got this figured out - he's either sick or out of town when it snows...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brrr! It's cold!

This was the winning photo from the Milwaukee Moments Photo Contest hosted by The Milwaukee Press Club. Very cool shot! Photographer: Terry O'Neill

Unbelievable is the only word to describe what happened yesterday. We went from 43 degrees to 4 degrees in a matter of a couple of hours. In less than 24 hours almost all of the snow melted - I was amazed when I went outside on Tuesday morning to find the driveway, patio and backyard almost completely clear of snow. Then at about 1pm the sky turned gray and it began to rain. The rain turned to tapioca (large pearl) size hail around 4pm and then the wind started up. Yesterday was Milwaukee's 162nd birthday and The Milwaukee Press Club hosted a birthday party at The Pfister Hotel from 5:30pm - 8pm. I almost didn't go due to the weather, but then thought "c'mon this is Wisconsin, we can handle a little wintery weather" and sure enough it wasn't that bad. I was expecting something ridiculous and it was just fine. Sometimes the media drives people crazy - they talked about 1-3" of snow and white-out conditions and there was nothing of the sort. The hail made things a bit slippery, but the salt trucks had been out and did a good job of nipping that. The party was fun and well attended. It was nice to run into some old friends and continue networking for the new biz.

Now today is different - it's downright cold! Even little Bailey was hesitant about going outside. I forced her because there are just some things that have to be done. She wasn't happy, but at least she was quick! I attended a luncheon at The Newsroom Pub hosted by The Milwaukee Press Club. The speaker was Carlos Santiago, chancellor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has acquired $125 million in private money for the school and has great plans for a new engineering campus and research facility perhaps here in Wauwatosa at the Milwaukee County Grounds near the Medical complex. I was very impressed with his candor and wit. He's a real asset to Milwaukee and understands the need for the community and businesses to partner with the school to encourage entreprenuerism and innovation. 22,000 students that attend UWM are Wisconsin kids and we desperately need these people to stay and flourish in Milwaukee after they graduate. We're a bit behind Madison and far behind Minneapolis in the whole "brain drain" syndrome. I am happy I attended the luncheon and learned quite a bit - gotta keep the positive vibe in the Mil!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Weekend in the Mil

We had a nice visit from Mosley, his mom and Auntie Chris on Saturday. He's certainly a big boy - all 16 pounds of him!! He looks alot like his Uncle Mike, minus the facial hair :)

It finally warmed up on Sunday, so it was time to take Bailey out of hibernation and let her go for a walk in Veterans Park. She was happy to get out from under the blankets. It will be nice again today but will dip back into the single digits tomorrow - we'll enjoy a little bit of a thaw before the cold returns. We took a drive along the eastside just to see what's happening and how things are progressing. Thursday night I attended an event hosted by Historic Milwaukee to hear UWM Dean of the Architectural School Bob Greenstreet talk about recent and future Milwaukee developments. Seeing cranes in the city is a good sign. He focused alot on the future of MacArthur Square in front of the Courthouse and what can be done there. It certainly needs some help as they made it a complete eyesore probably in the 1970's. The Milwaukee County Courthouse is such a grand building and it has been blighted by a hiddeous parking ramp with a misused park square. Dan McCarthy from the Pabst Brewery Project which Joseph Zilber is undertaking gave a good report on all that is happening with the old brewery as well as another gentleman Kevin Mantz (sp?) talked about the sustainability study and the landscaping plans. All in all very informative and I am glad I attended.

Friday, I toured the Tripoli Shrine Temple on Wisconsin Avenue. A fabulous building. They recently completed a million dollar renovation which cleaned up the tiles (and there is an unbelieveable amount of tile - it took 3 years for a family from Italy to lay all of the tile in beautiful patterns throughout the building), fixed the lighting and just did an overall sprucing up. Milwaukee should be incredibly proud of this building as it is a one-of-a-kind. I look forward to bringing groups here on tour or for special events. Check out the rental section on the website to see pictures of the dome. I was a dope and didn't take any pictures!
After the Shrine tour, I met with some colleagues at The Knick to discuss some of life's possibilities in Milwaukee especially regarding the Pabst Brewery. Then Mike and I went to Zaffiro's for pizza. What a crazy place - making pizza since 1954 and consistently getting awards for Milwaukee's best pizza. It doesn't look like much, the wait staff looks like they've been working there for years, it's somewhat smoky, but people dig it. Nice and casual with really good super thin crust pizza. Gotta love it.
We then moved on to have a couple of pints of Guiness at the new Irish pub in town, Brocach. Just when you think we've had enough Irish Pubs in Milwaukee, someone comes around with another very cool addition to the city in an up and coming area along the river. I love this place. Brocach is Gaelic for Badger Den. This is appropriate as the bar is built into the side of a bluff. Very narrow so you better not have an affliction to people bumping into you. Great job with the decor. Looking forward to the next visit and a sampling of their food.

Nice plug for the Milwaukee Public Market

I love this place. Nice addition to Milwaukee and I already have tours booked that will include a visit and/or lunch at the market. This is a nice piece on it:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Top Secret

Mike and I went to a new Japanese restaurant in Brookfield, Takara. We love it! The menu was overwhelming so we ordered the specials of the day. Mike had something called Top Secret which was a lobster, avocado, and salmon roll - very good. I ordered something that sounds like yummy, not sure what it really is. Tempura Shrimp, avocado and spicy crab roll. They plated them together - almost too impressive to eat, but we devoured it. Can't wait to go back for the sushi bar and/or the hibachi grill.

I can't believe Heath Ledger died...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A look back

My grandmother, Isabel Burg-Christopherson, moved to Milwaukee from Lena when she was a young woman to find work. She was a nanny/housekeeper at this house on Lake Drive for the Kopmeier family in the 1920s. My sister sent me the picture and I was able to find the house again as the address has changed from a Milwaukee address to Shorewood. The pillar in front of the house shows the original address still etched in the concrete.

This is the house as of today. Hasn't changed much on the exterior. I wish I could talk to my grandma now and have her tell me about the time she spent here. She ended up moving back to Lena where she met and married my grandfather. Thus my existence...

From Mayhem to Misery

We went up to Green Bay on Saturday night to take part in the pre-game celebration. It was cold!! But everyone was so pumped up about Sunday's game and of course, Packer nation was so confident that we would beat the Giants and head to Arizona for the Superbowl.

We have to thank the Packers for a great season and also the Giants for beating the Cowboys to bring the NFC Championship to Lambeau Field. The economic impact for Green Bay was incredible. It also gave people, like this girl, something to be happy about in mid-January when it was 0 degrees!!

We had fun in Green Bay. Very glad that we didn't spend oodles of $ to spend hours in the freezing weather. It may have been worth it had the Packers won, but I am glad we stayed home to watch the devastation in our own little world.

There's always next year!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Here I am with one of Milwaukee's finest gentlemen - Captain Frederick Pabst.

On Friday, I had the opportunity to tour a little bit of Pabst Brewing history. Walked through the old Gift Shop/Tour Center for the Pabst Brewery as well as Blue Ribbon Hall and the corporate offices, including Captain Pabst's office. Pabst left Milwaukee in 1996 and the buildings are now going through redevelopment with ideas for offices, restaurants, potential site for a brew pub and The Beer Museum. When this takes place I really think it is going to be another positive thing for Milwaukee. The buildings are still in nice shape with awesome woodwork, stained glass and brickwork. We're probably looking at 2009/2010 for project completion. I am excited for this to happen and in the meantime I think we could do some tours of the brewery "as is" for people interested in Milwaukee history, Pabst history, and architecture.

I am sitting in Captain Pabst's office reading about Brett Favre!

Love this guy! Great stained glass windows in the old tour center for Pabst Brewing Co.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Business Update

I've been working on a few things this week for KBC Tour Company. On Tuesday I completed the CTA (Certified Tourism Ambassador) training given by Visit Milwaukee. So now I am a Certified Tourism Ambassador for Milwaukee. I already received my CTIS (Certified Travel Industry Specialist) training through IUPUI and American Bus Association when I worked at the CVB. So now I have a bunch of letters to follow my name to make me look really important - Kay Collins, CTIS, CTA.

I've been working with some local Milwaukee tour operators to use me for their Milwaukee area tours. Hopefully all will be successful and my 2008 tour season will be a busy one.

Had lunch today with a tour planner in the Wauwatosa village at Pizzeria Piccola run by the Bartolotta Family. It's a great place for a nice casual light lunch or dinner. Gotta love the wood fired pizza. Had the Chicken Sausage and Pine Nut personal pizza today - yum! Did you know the first pizza was made in 79AD??!!!??? They found artifacts indicating pizza making in the ashes of Pompeii!

Tomorrow will be fun - going to the old Pabst Brewery for a tour. It's going to be cold. Hope to have some good pictures as I have nothing to post today. It's snowing again and I don't need to show that again...

Monday, January 14, 2008

NFC Championship Bound!

What a great weekend! The Green Bay Packers beat the Seattle Seahawks coached by former Packer coach, Mike Holmgren on Saturday in a snowstorm at Lambeau Field. The game started out dismally as the Packers turned the ball over twice and Seattle capitalized on it with two scores putting the Pack down 14-0. But the Pack came back and took over! Final score 42-20.

Then yesterday we watched the New York Giants beat up on the Cowboys to win that game. Now the Giants come to Lambeau to play the Packers in the NFC Championship. It's going to be great for Green Bay and surrounding communities. It's going to be pretty chilly though - probably in the teens. But I am sure there will be some silly souls who show up shirtless in the stands with big Gs painted on their bodies. Go Pack Go!

The rest of the weekend was nice too. Friday night we met an old friend of ours at Mitchell's Fish Market in Brookfield. Was good to catch up. It is amazing how fast time flies. Mike and I caught one more at Fleming's Steak House in Brookfield as well. We'll have to go back to check out the dining. Both places are nice additions to Brookfield and even though they are chains, we'll give them a chance. They are both "classy joints" and the staffs are well trained. We'll still be more supportive of the independent guys though!!

Saturday afternoon we went to the Milwaukee County Zoo to catch up on what's shaking there. It's nice to have a Zoo Pass - we go often and enjoy the walk. Plus we can decide what animals we want to see each time so we don't get overwhelmed. Each time we go we seem to learn something new or see a new addition. This time we got to see the baby Siamang that was born in November. Still clinging to her mother - very cute! The little brother was a riot as he was swinging around and then grabbed a pillow case and kept playing with it, twirling it around and shaking it with his feet. We spent 15 minutes just watching his show - makes me think that he may have been the inspiration for Cirque du Soleil! Unfortunately I couldn't get a good picture because of the glass and flash. I did include a picture of the Elk though - rather majestic rack he is sporting! We ended the visit with a chest pounding demonstration from Cassius, the gorilla. He's quite the show-off.

Saturday night after the Packer win, we went to a neighborhood party. The hosts put out quite the chocolate dessert display. Good times. We really like our neighborhood and the people in it are all very nice.

Sunday morning we decided to catch an early flick at the AMC theater in Mayfair. Being big Johnny Depp and Tim Burton fans, we went to see Sweeney Todd. Ghastly!! Definitely not a "feel good" movie. Critics are raving. It's not for everyone though...

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


What a difference a couple of days makes. We had the hottest day in January on record - 63 degrees!! All that crazy snow we had is almost all gone. And we had thunderstorms and tornadoes. Unfortunately an area near Kenosha got hit and quite a few people lost their homes. Who would have thought - January??

I went to Chicago overnight via Amtrak for a reception at The Hotel Intercontinental. Probably one of the warmest days I've spent in Chicago in a long time - I swear Chicago is the coldest place I've ever been in the winter with the combination of low temps, moist lake air and the wind. But last night was awesome, I could have walked Michigan Ave all night. We hit a couple of old favorites after the reception - Boston Blackies and Smith & Wollensky's. This morning I walked to the Sears Tower to visit with a friend of mine who works at the Skydeck. It's really an amazing building. Still the tallest building in the US. Trump was trying to build a tower taller, but decided to scale down after 9/11. Nice short trip. Amtrak makes this trip so easy - downtown Milwaukee to downtown Chicago in 90 minutes - gotta love it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Green Bay Packers

One of the best things happening early in 2008 is having the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Playoffs. On our way back to Milwaukee we stopped at Lambeau Field. Mike hasn't been in the stadium since the newest renovation. They did a really nice job and we look forward to going back to have dinner/cocktails in Curly's Pub. The Pro Shop was buzzing with lots of people. We laugh every time we are in Green Bay at the sheer number of people wearing Packer apparel. If you want to be in a successful retail business, pretty much sell anything Green & Gold (or Pink for Deanna Favre) and the word Packers on it! The Pro Shop has almost everything you can think of, including shower curtains and hangers. It would be funny to know who the person is who has the most items that you can find in the Pro Shop. Their world has to be ridiculously green and gold.

Looking forward to the next game - hope they go far. If not, it's at least been a surprisingly fun year to watch the Pack. Go Pack Go!!

Snowy New Year's Eve Day in Lena

Happy New Year!

We've been into 2008 for a couple of days now. Nothing earth shattering to start the new year which I suppose is good. We brought in the New Year at home after having dinner at Firefly Urban Grill in the Skylight Bar room. Our choice for dinner was perfect - great food, atmosphere, music and service.

We spent the last few days of 2007 in Green Bay with Mike's mom and in Lena with my family. I was a little worried that we weren't going to make it up north due to yet another snow storm (the second largest snowfall in December in the Mil's history). But luckily the storm moved south and the snow fell mainly in the Milwaukee area (about 6") - it was a bit slick in Green Bay earlier in the day and again luckily for us we missed the slippery roads.

We had our holiday dinner and opened gifts with Mike's mom on Friday night and spent some time with her in the morning. I had a bit of a breathing "issue" later in the evening and had to send them out on a CVS run for "breathing materials". Aargh...

We spent the next couple of days in Lena, my hometown, with my family. We opted a couple of years ago to not go for the big dinner and instead do a soup supper which works out just fine as we have been eating alot around the holidays. We had some fun with my niece's new Wii testing our skills in bowling, tennis and baseball. Then we opened our gifts. This year my sisters decided we needed to have a "sappy sister" gift to present to each other. This was fairly easy to find earlier in the year - you know, the "Sister, you are the reason for living, etc." kind of stuff. But as I got nearer to Christmas, I wasn't finding things like I did earlier in the year. So I went the other route and got a couple of sassy things. "If you think I'm a Bitch, you should meet my sister." and "Things haven't been the same since that house fell on my sister." We had some fun with it. As always, it was good to see the family and I enjoy spending time with them.

New Year's eve day we woke up to a really pretty snowfall - the snow came down in such big flakes and just stuck to everything. I'll post a few in my next entry.