Wonderful Wisconsin: Flowers, Farms, and a Fresh Perspective

Well I have officially left Mexico.
After a short 3-hour flight from Cancun, I have arrived back in the Midwest.
11258133_10104490987476977_2969765158489167312_nIt felt so great to return to loving family and friends that I have missed so much the past year, and there was nothing better than gathering for a cookout to reminisce with good food and drinks. DSC_0854collagecollage11The cooking class in Oaxaca sure paid off when I was finally able to come home and prepare authentic guacamole for my family and friends. Thanks Chef Pinelo! 😀 guac Since I’ve been home, I’ve also purchased a spiffy new camera, which has helped me capture my homeland from a fresh perspective.

The Nikon D3300 has been the perfect starter DSLR camera, but did require a bit of practice to get the right settings.Nikon-D3300-RedThe learning began from Day 1 when I took my first pictures with the lens cap on. Hah. Whoops! 😛Black_from_a_cameraObviously the picture quality could only go up from there. 😉

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and viewing my childhood home from a different lens has really helped me to appreciate its allure.DSC_0248 DSC_0245DSC_0732 DSC_0643DSC_0659h DSC_0604This face just makes my heart melt. ❤ellaStorms a brewin’. DSC_0512 So is my local java by Colectivo Coffee. 😉 DSC_0694 Now I returned to Wisconsin in August, which is mid-summer, where the weather is pleasant and sunny, and plenty of people are out enjoying the many outdoor events in Milwaukee.

Jazz in the Park

Davina & The Vagabonds DSC_0268Jazz in the Park at Cathedral Square Park in downtown Milwaukee is the great place for sipping wine, and people watching in this urban jungle.
Our fancy picnic with Barefoot Riesling, prosciutto, melon and assorted cheeses.
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http://www.easttown.com/events/jazz-in-the-park/

Milwaukee will always have a piece of my heart. ❤ DSC_0262 DSC_0376 DSC_0681 DSC_0670 Milwaukee is situated right on the lake shore, so one of our first stops was a cruise down the Milwaukee river to the harbor of Lake Michigan.

Milwaukee Boat Cruise
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MKE Boat Line offers sightseeing and cocktail cruises aboard any one of their three spacious vessels. While cruising the Vista King, we were able to sip on cheap margaritas and jam out to funky reggae beats. 🙂
The Tritonics 11824989_10207263582057682_7984196958864269037_nAll the while, taking in views of the twinkling city skyline and gazing upon the bright shinning moon.
DSC_0428DSC_0456http://mkeboat.com/

Udderly Delicious

After a year in Mexico, being back in Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland, I also had to fill up on my fair share of milk and cheese. 😛
bbo-SOYMILK-570Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the stringy Queso Oaxaca, but this cheesehead needed some quality Wisconsin cheddar. 😀
11779963_10104490992002907_7598946810496084234_oOne of our stops was to AJ Bombers, made famous on Food Wars for their delicious cheeseburgers, and the local ingredients that they stack on each toasted bun.
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Now in Wisconsin, cheese curds are a regional specialty.

Cheese curds are basically the fresh curds after being separated from the whey, and before aging. They have a springy texture, mild taste and are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese” due to the long network of protein strands created within the curd that cause a squeaky sound when you take that first bite.

Fresh curds usually turn bad after a few days, but I doubt they will last that long in your fridge. 😛

These are white cheddar cheese curds from Ellsworth Creamery, deep fried, and served with a spicy chipotle mayo.IMG_7449Bomber burger topped with a stuffed portabella mushroom, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg.
IMG_7453AJ Burger topped with Wisconsin cheddar cheese and frickles (fried pickles). Yum! IMG_7452IMG_7451This quirky burger joint stands in a renovated old Milwaukee building, covered in gorgeous cream city brick. As a military themed restaurant, it features long tunnels, stretched across the ceiling, that shoot bombs of salty peanuts to each table. IMG_7448Customers who manage to down their fair share of grease and cheese at this quirky establishment leave their marked in ink. Success!
IMG_7450http://ajbombers.com/

Udderly Adorable

We were even able to stop at the Wisconsin State Fair, the epitome of the Midwest.
DSC_0855Check out these sassy gals. 😛
unnamedNot only do I love milk and cheese, but I used to work with dairy cattle, so I had to get in some barn time with the cows, as well as, visit other furry farm animals.
DSC_0863Aside from having an extremely docile temperament and an udderly adorable appearance, with long luscious lashes, Jersey cows produce tastier milk with a higher content of butterfat, calcium, and protein.
DSC_0881DSC_0878DSC_0886DSC_0915DSC_0905DSC_0897DSC_0894Angora rabbit. A distant relative of Ewok, Furby or Baby Spice. I can’t decide. 😛kk

UW-Madison

Outside of Milwaukee, one of my main stops was to Madison, Wisconsin’s capital. DSC_0697I spent five years living on campus attending school, and needed to check out my old stomping grounds. 😛DSC_0832 Madison has consistently ranked as one of the top ten college towns in the nation, and it’s not hard to see why. The city really dances to the beat of its own drum.  CaptureDSC_0708DSC_0726DSC_070611822684_10104511114357547_2013280488648652766_nMadison is nestled between two gorgeous lakes, and most students spend their summer at the UW-Madison Memorial Union terrace enjoying the views and watersports on Lake Mendota.DSC_0717xpl2col1After a day spent sightseeing on campus, I met up with a friend who lives in the surrounding area, where we enjoyed local wine and a peaceful nighttime retreat in the country, surrounded by farmland and fireflies. 11874210_10104524003826947_522262967_n
http://www.wollersheim.com/
Verona, Wisconsin DSC_0758DSC_07652015-08-06 18.09.35The next day we headed out towards Sauk City to hike in the surrounding natural areas. Along the hilly path, we were surrounded by the sound of cicadas and the splendor of wildflowers.DSC_0795We hiked both ferry bluff and cactus bluff, which offer spectacular views of the Wisconsin river. DSC_0801DSC_0810
http://www.devilslakewisconsin.com/ferry-bluff/

Looking Ahead

Now my fresh perspective came not only from my new camera lens, but from re-entry into the US after a year abroad.
triple banded (2)I’ve obviously changed, more than hair and clothes, but on the inside.
Living abroad has helped me to understand more about my culture and myself.

I came back from abroad not only embracing the beauty of my American culture and feeling more appreciation for the values I hold dear, but also empowered to take on another exciting adventure.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

This weekend I will be moving to Istanbul, Turkey to begin another exciting year teaching abroad. It will not come without its challenges, but I think I’ll do just fine. 😉

Wish me luck on this next ESLVenture! 😀
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