Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My first year in the state of bikes, cycles, brews and moos.

The title has become my muse for a new blog feature, we'll see if I stick with it or not. There are a lot of things I've learned since my move to Madison, and a whole lot more I need to learn, if not just discover.

Case in point, there is a city zoo, free of charge. I have yet to visit there. It may be on my 2012 Madison bucket list. Along with the arbortereum. And the bike trails. OH, the bike trails that line, cross, intercept, encompass and any other synonym of the like, through Madison!

To say that Madison is a bike-friendly community may be an understatement. There are bike lanes in nearly every main street in town; bike traffic lights as you get downtown and near campus. And let's not forget about the miles and MILES of bike trails in and around the city. Unfortunately, these I cannot tell you about as I haven't gotten my lazy ass on them yet (finding a pattern here yet?). I do feel a little "Wisconsin-ie" though, as I own a Trek bike. There are a lot of Trek bikes around, so I feel like I sorta fit in.

This (the population, not my fitting it) is because they are headquartered merely 15 miles outside of Madison in Waterloo, WI.  I grew up with a dad who loved Trek bikes. He had three, my mom had one with shocks (oh yeah, she was/is a cool mom!), my sister and I each had one. I thought I was pretty cool, but my Huffy-sporting friends didn't understand why I needed to lock mine up at the city pool. 

Trek has always been the staple of consistency, reliability, and strength in the makes of mountain bikes. The one I'm sporting now, yes, may be a few years old, but was the hybrid of bikes when my dad bought it back in the day. A pair of new tires, a good tune-up after years of moonlighting as a cobweb structure, and we're back in action!

Maybe it's the fit physiques gracing tv and media outlets with the Olympics in full action, but I really pine to get my glutes in gear and toe-trip my Trek around the great town of Madison.

A list of the miles of trails can be found here:

As for the bikes, brews and moos, I guess you'll just have to stay interested to see where I visit next!

Friday, March 2, 2012

A family and their kids

I saw the epitome of from farm to table while talking with Katie of LeClare Farms. I arrived at the farm in Chilton , WI this morning to the "doorbell" barking a me; a gorgeous black lab who alerts the family of visitors at their goat farm. Katie brought me into their house and we sat down at their kitchen table, which doubles as the office desk during the day. Or at least until their creamery is built and details for that will be forthcoming. On the table, sat samples of cheese from the LaClare Farmstead; our topic of meeting for the day.

I got a sense of how down-home Katie was as she opened the fridge and poured maple syrup into her coffee. The syrup was distilled just down the road, of course! We proceeded onto our meeting.

LeClare Farms has come a long way in the past few years. While they have been farming goats for thirty years, they got into the cheese-making business a few years ago when Katie came back to join the family business as cheese-maker upon receiving her degree in marketing.  Since then they have produced 7 types of goat cheese as well as winning the 2011 US Championships with their Evalon cheese; a delectable aged goat cheese, similar to Gouda with a hint of Asiago flavoring. In trying, I can see how this cheese would be excellent on a cheese board accompanied with a glass of wine, or shredded and served atop a mix of greens with balsamic dressing.

In the midst of our meeting, Katie's dad, leader of the pack, head of the farm, care-taker to the 30 kids, came in to chatted with us a bit. This is the family farm in its truest sense. Other members of the family taking care of the herd are a brother who oversees the business side, a sister helping with Dad with the herd, and Mom being Mom, covering all other aspects of the farm while also educating area students on the farmstead life.

It's days like this, getting to meet the cheese makers, their families, their products, and having the shining smile while talking about the new ventures of opening their new creamery with store-front space in the next few months that gives me the satisfaction of promoting Wisconsin cheeses. LeClare cheese; goat in specialty, tasty in your mouth.

Holiday planning

I admit, I've come a long way since my days as a server in the small town in which I went to high school. The nostalgia of its specialty strawberry and rhubarb pie; the locals who come in for their coffee breaks daily at 9 am; the company tours that started arriving from the plant across the street at 11:30; and the memories keep on. Alas, following years of college, numerous tests, and continuing my "education" of the restaurant business while exploring other aspects of the PR/Marketing world, I have landed myself back in the restaurant world. This time, however, it's different. I have the luxury of meeting with local creameries, sampling excellent steaks and chops, and bringing the background of event planning with me along the way.

One would think "how do those all go together?" Two words: chef's dinner. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The next step

Two and a half years, some great experience under my belt, and I'm ready for the next step in both my professional and personal life. Yep, I'm leaving Grand Forks and the Ralph Engelstad Arena (again; my prior tenure was as an intern in 2004-05) and heading to the cheese state to start my life in bliss. My boyfriend of two years has a great job there with the hockey program. Actually, it's a conference rival of my beloved Fighting Sioux, so I'm more than expanding my horizons with the new town. I have to learn to live in Badger land when I've always said I bleed green. I'll just have to inconspicuously put green in my wardrobe occasionaly to keep my ties.

It's not the move in with the boyfriend that has been stressing me out though. It's the job search. My last two occupations have been basically earned through who I know. Not that I haven't been capable of doing the job; I've more than excelled at both positions. It's the annonymous resume in the pile of arrogance. Myself, not arrogant. It's hard for me to show my qualifications on one page of paper when what really makes me, is my personality of drive for success.

So as it goes, I'm leaving my job in two days, moving to a new state in 5 days, and will unemployed for an undetermined amount of time. Here's hoping, someone will see something in the dozens of resumes I've sent out and I won't have to revert to waiting tables for pennies.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Can You Smell It?!

The MOST anticipated weekend of the year is here! Not only is this the first conference hockey game of the year, nor does it matter that it is taking place on home ice. What does matter is the opponent, the Golden Gophers of Minnesota are scurrying their way north to face the Fighting Sioux in what I anticipate to be a battle among all battles of the year.

North Dakota is notorious for having a slow start, and having 10 freshmen on the team with 3 seniors leading the pack, pure determination will help them win this series. On the other side of the river, Minnesota has always come out with a bang. Unlike long-distance running; however, the Gophers always look exhausted by the end of the season and into post-season. This is the two team’s 247th time of meeting each other, the longest in college hockey rivalries, with the Sioux holding a .489 record all-time record against the Gophers (124-130-12).

The difference this year is the timing. Being it’s the fourth and fifth game for the Sioux, and the second for the Gophers, the outcome is totally unpredictable! The Sioux are undefeated so far, facing Manitoba in exhibition play and sweeping the series last weekend against Hockey East member Merrimack. (Side note: Merrimack contends with Boston College and Boston University in conference play; not the easiest of contenders to knock off for post-season action). The Sioux freshmen have stepped up and already started making their mark in the sport, going as far as earning WCHA Rookie of the Week honors for Mike Cichy. 5 of the 6 freshmen who dressed for the Merrimack series have recorded their first career point (defenseman Andrew MacWilliam holds a +2).

The other fun storyline to follow is the friends/foes on the different lines. Check out Brad Schlossman’s article following Joe Gleason and Danny Kristo’s ties to the Gopher team. In a nutshell, Gleason played for Edina with Minnesota’s Zach Budish; Kristo played with stand-out Jordan Schroeder for the U-18 team. It will be interesting to see if any gloves drop between these four.

With the upcoming series, the events world is all a bustle making sure the arena is ready to go; and as long as the beer lines don’t tap out and the students lining up outside don’t break into our offices, we should be OK. And no, I don’t have extra tickets. Sorry folks! If you are coming, remember your WHITE SHIRTS as it is white-out weekend! Specialty rivalry shirts are available at the Sioux Shop for $12.00 & $16.00.

See YOU at the Ralph - Let’s Go Sioux!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And So It Begins!

Holy crap, it’s hard to believe that it’s almost October! The past three weeks have definitely flown by as the sports season is in full swing.

In Volleyball, the ladies are under direction of new head coach Ashley Hardee and are proving they are Division I worthy as they remain undefeated in the Great West Conference. They have had three matches at home so far this season, with two sweeps and latest going to four games. The ladies look strong, determined, and they sure are fun to watch!

There are still 7 home series left, so stop on down to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, pick up a $2.00 hot dog and $3.00 16 oz. “adult beverage” and cheer on the Sioux Volleyball team and they spike their way through the competition.

October brings hockey season, my favorite if you couldn’t tell already. I completed my first fantasy hockey draft of the year and was successful in getting the coveted UND alums; Parise, Toews, Oshie, Zajac, Stafford, Commodore, Green, Blake. It’s the only method to my madness when I’m matched up against a bunch of guys from Ontario and one hockey reporter from Germany. A girls got to do what a girls got to do! I did pick up some Minnesota boys as well; Keith Ballard and Jamie Langenbrunner, just to balance it out. My second fantasy draft is tonight - just in time for the NHL season to kick off tomorrow!  I may have to try for the same roster...mmm...we'll see.

Speaking of hockey, my hockey itch (no…not jock itch) was satisfied last weekend as the Sioux women’s team opened up their season facing Manitoba at home. They won 3-1 Friday night against the Bison, but fell short by one goal in Saturday’s match-up (3-2). The ladies look fast, strong and ready to compete with the rest of the WCHA. It’ll be fun to watch them evolve even more throughout the year.

Their biggest competitors will no longer be facing them this year, more-so they’ll be joining next year! Monique and Jocelyn Lamoureux have opted out of their time with Minnesota and signed with the Sioux this summer. They will take this year as their red-shirt year while they compete for spots on the US Olympic team. Keep an eye on those girls as they hope to compete against the best in the world this winter and bring that determination and skill to the Sioux next season.

Hockey, hockey, hockey! Sunday marks the Men’s first game, an exhibition game against Manitoba. As previously reported on, this will also be the public farewell to Denny Gunderson, notable Zamboni driver for the Fighting Sioux for the past 40+ years. I read over the script presenting his honor and got tears in my eyes. It may be a rough Sunday for me!

As promised though, this isn’t just a hockey blog. It’s Beyond the Ice in that it pertains to other things going on in the building. On Monday night, we had a banquet for 210 people from Universities around the United States. Not presidents, nor coaches, but facility managers. The 2009 CAPPA Convention was held in Grand Forks, ND. CAPPA – Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators – the people in charge of making sure you’re building is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Note…they are not responsible for hot flashes.

The guests were guided through the facility and “introduced” to the world of ice. It’s amazing to see the reaction on people’s faces when they walk by the Zamboni…it’s like the white elephant in the room. However, given many of these people are from the southern states (Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana); there is a good chance that many of their schools don’t have hockey teams. There were numerous stops and stares; one lady even had to get in the driver’s seat and take a picture. I’m sure that will be the talk of her next family gathering!

It’s easy to say their tours through our building’s infrastructure was well-liked as well as their guided tours throughout the rest of the arena. I heard numerous comments about the NHL wall; the wall near the men’s locker room that represents UND’s draft history, Stanley Cup team members, as well as each team that UND players have been a part of. Welcome to the north folks where hockey is prominent; I hope you have great words of wisdom to bring back to your schools. It sure was a pleasure hosting you for the evening!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Boys are Back in Town

The college kids have moved back in their dorms and apartments thus creating a “rush hour” between the hours of 3 and 6. You have to look both ways multiple times before turning, because there could be a scholar crossing the street that meets your blind spot. Campus rules; pedestrians always have the right-a-way, whether they look or not!

There has been more traffic in the arena as well. Our employee gym hours are now graced by student athletes from time to time. And if you notice some distant thumping and back beat while walking on the north end of the building, you’ll realize that the team is beneath you in the gym doing their strength training, getting out of “summer mode” and preparing for the upcoming season.

Just off a successful weekend where the Ralph hosted Sioux Fan Fest; a chance for the general public to meet the members of the 2009-10 Men’s and Women’s hockey teams as well as Head Coaches Dave Hakstol and Brian Idalski. This event also showcased both teams’ new jerseys. The women’s team has three different jerseys including a retro-style green sweater with script “North Dakota” across the chest. The men’s team, also donning new jerseys, this year will include “Reebok” on the neckline as they are the new suppliers of jerseys and other equipment for the men’s team. While the main look of the jerseys is similar to those of the past Nike ones, the noticeable change is the horizontal stripe across the bottom in lieu of the diagonal ones from years past.

In its introductory year, Sioux Fan Fest was a fun event for the fans and student athletes alike. Autograph, photo, and Q&A stations were set-up to give the fans, both young and old, a treat to whet their appetite in anticipation of the upcoming season. Following a successful ’08-’09 year, the WCHA McNaughton Cup was also on display to give fans another photo opportunity. Sioux Hockey radio play-by-play announcer Tim Hennessey served as MC to the Q&A sessions where the most entertaining sessions were targeted toward the children. Imagine a 5-year old with a hockey grin trying to say the word “thistle”.

The next preparatory step for the upcoming season is getting the ice ready for the team. With the first game just over two weeks away (exhibition vs. Manitoba, October 4th), the REA Maintenance crew will take two days to lay the initial layers of ice, paint lines and the logo and then top off the artwork with an inch of ice. What seems so thin, especially when it only takes an hour in Mid-January to produce this on the doors of your car, this can be one of the most important factors in maintaining good skating conditions.
As the weather finally starts to cooperate, I can’t be more excited about the mid-grade temps in my office. I have the ice out my door and the sun out my window. Fellow hockey fans please join in saying HOCKEY SEASON IS UPON US!