Local day out – Werk Force Brewing Co.

If you know me at all, you probably know that I rarely drink (I am also one of the biggest lightweights you will ever meet, but that’s a story for another time). But, Werk Force Brewing Co. in Plainfield, IL is a super hip, laid-back spot to grab a few unique brews that won’t break the bank, so when the opportunity to check out their new taproom presented itself, I took advantage.

Their menu is ever-changing with new varieties available as they come about. My boyfriend and I were sucked in from their Facebook post about a s’mores-infused brew (how could we not be?). So, we went in to try it and ended up staying for almost three hours.

The s’mores stout was called “Stupid Sticky Fingers” and it was every bit as magical as it sounds. Unfortunately, I think this one is now all tapped out.

As for the others, they are all worth a try with different seasonal flavors popping up throughout the year. It’s only $2.50 for a 5 oz. taster which allows you to figure out which ones you really enjoy before grabbing a full glass (or if you’re like us, just continue to buy the tasters so you can try a bunch of different ones).

The taproom is a mix of rustic and modern, with a few colorful pops to make the space bright and unique.

They host a bunch of different food truck events every week. So, make it a date with food and drinks.

Overall, the staff is super kind and helpful if you have any questions. You will probably run into at least one dog when you visit (bonus points). The beer is so delicious, perfectly chilled and there is definitely something for everyone (even that one friend who just HATES IPA). Definitely a local gem and worth checking out.


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Local Day Out – Suburban Chicago Garden Boutique

It is HOT in the Chicago suburbs today. I’m talking 89 degrees (but my phone says it feels like 90 degrees and I agree), not a cloud in the sky kind of hot. So, what does a normal girl do? Heads to a new outdoor garden boutique in the smoldering heat.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and since the weather is so nice people are already out and about. I drove to Downtown Aurora and found my way to the most adorable garden boutique called Branch Gardens. It’s brand new, just opened May 1st and was basically a garden lover’s dream (me).

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This space was revamped from it’s original glory. Downtown Aurora has some incredible historic buildings and architecture. It is the last stop on the BNSF railway, which takes you from Aurora to Chicago with intermediate stops. So, if you’re looking to get away from the city for a day, it’s easy to hop on and check out the new shops in downtown Aurora.

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The shop was filled with adorable planters, plants, homemade soaps and little home decor items. The space itself gave me a Joanna-Gaines-started-a-garden-shop vibe, but in the absolute best way (I am a huge fan of everything Joanna does).

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This place was honestly so worth checking out. I think Aurora has great potential to thrive as it once did and these shops coming in certainly gives it a head start in the right direction.

The owners are super great and will help you with anything you need. They both have a passion for horticulture and make it a wonderful experience for every visitor.

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It was a great kick-off to my Memorial Day weekend, now off to see what else I can find.

What are your favorite local places?


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A day at the farmers market

Did someone say fresh local honey?

This weekend I ventured over to a little town called Wheaton, IL to check out their Saturday French Market. I’m a sucker for the words “fresh”, “local”, “natural”, “non-GMO”, “better than the grocery store produce section”, and I was not let down with the beautiful choices of fruits, vegetables, honey and even homemade cheese.

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Fellow market browsers checking out the local bargains.

There is something so special about knowing exactly where your food came from, and the people who run these stands are proud of their products. I was intrigued by one stand that had a giant British flag hanging off the back of it, and it turns out that there were some very British men selling sausages. Of course, I had to hear their accents so I asked them a few questions. They were a little insulted when I said that I don’t eat sausage, but they got over it.

The produce was gorgeous. I saw a poppin’ red pepper that looked like I could see my reflection in it. There was a head of romaine lettuce that looked out of this world. Don’t even get me started on the wonderful assortment of berries.

Aside from all the delicious food, including some donuts and crepes, there were beautiful fresh flower bouquets for a bargain price, handmade soaps and a super adorable home decor shop.

Not only are you getting a better product when visiting your local farmer’s market, but you are supporting a local small business which is oh-so-important to me. While the hot summer days are almost behind us, maybe it’s time you check out your own local market this weekend and pick up some great stuff to add to your meals.

I ended up leaving with some homemade, fantastic cheddar cheese, a whole bunch of fresh blackberries and a big jar of honey.

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Have a great Monday everybody and keep eating local.

-Emily

 

Week in Boulder Junction, WI

So it was time that I, Emily, the city-dweller (and surrounding suburbs) venture out and expand my horizons to THE WILDERNESS OF AMERICA. Okay.. fine.. I wasn’t completely off-the-grid, but I did find myself all the way at the top of Wisconsin in the North Woods region with my boyfriend for a week.

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive going in. I have a hard time with all living bugs and insects.. specifically bees, wasps, spiders, mosquitos, ticks and everything else. I knew that these things were going to be there in SWARMS but I toughened up, packed my suitcase and hit the road.

Six hours later we arrived at a small, adorable cabin in Boulder Junction, WI that we rented which luckily ended up looking better then the pictures. It was right on a beautiful lake. I am still dealing with the separation anxiety of my sweet second home. Here’s a picture of the living area inside:

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I had my first-time fishing adventure and ended up catching several fish on my pink sparkly pole. We spent our nights out on the water and would boat around until the sunset.

I was hit with a bit of a culture shock when we started going to the restaurants in town. I had been out of town several times before and nothing was like here. The walls were covered in taxidermy animals (and for my animal activist self this was very hard to see) and the decor was like a 1970s grandma basement. Basically, there was no glitz or glamour but each place did have some charm and the views made up for what they lacked in style. As for the food, I was not overly impressed when dinner time came. When it comes to meat I only eat chicken and these places were only into cooking fish and red meat. However I SURVIVED just not happily.

On our third day, we drove into a nearby town called Minoqua for some shopping but on our way I noticed a small cabin coffee shop and demanded that we stop on our way back. I have to admit this was the best decision we made the whole trip. Little Creek Coffee Company in Arbor Vitae, WI deserves all the awards. Not only do they offer tons of coffee drinks and teas BUT THEY HAVE A BREAKFAST AND LUNCH MENU. We came here three total times during our 6 day stay. WE WERE OBSESSED. Their iced chai tea latte was to die for and I can’t stop thinking about their turkey and avocado sandwich and homemade soups HELP ME. We enjoyed sitting on their outdoor tables overlooking the lake and we even spotted some baby deers running around. It was magical. Bambi had come to life. The pics below are us hanging out there:

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There is no way I can go through this post without mentioning the most amazing ice cream place ever.. Mad Dog Jakes in Boulder Junction is super great. We went twice during our trip (WE ARE REPEATERS IF WE LIKE YOU). The first time I got the best super chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had and the second time I got blueberry cheesecake and wow it was out of bounds. FLAVOR TOWN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. If you are ever in these parts you better stop there and get a scoop.. maybe even two.

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Halfway through our trip on a kind of gloomy day (or so we thought) we took a day-trip to Hayward, Wisconsin to the Wilderness Walk. This essentially was a mix between the coolest petting zoo ever and an exotic animal zoo. The 2-Hour drive was worth it even though it was painful after already driving 6 hours just a few days before.  I normally hate zoos but these animals were all saved from injury and could have died without their help. The admission fee was a little steep but once we walked in we knew it was worth it. The first thing I saw was a GIANT LOP BUNNY free to pet and love. I was obsessed with him. This is when I knew this place was great.

We continued on through the day petting various animals and letting them eat corn-filled ice cream cones.. even a giant camel. My favorites were the baby goats that were roaming free throughout the Walk and the baby fawns that stole my heart. It was amazing and I 10/10 recommend. Here we are having fun below:

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A few days later we went to a lumberjack show and watched some ripped guys chop wood.. it was torture I could barely watch wink wink wink wink. Tom kept thinking i was into them and I totally wasn’t. It was actually super interesting though and we witnessed them climb up a 60-ft tree stump and try to not die. I have to give some credit to the 40 year old male in the denim jacket who was in the audience for his hilarious commentary during the entire show. Also, some credit is due to the ENTIRE JOHNSON FAMILY REUNION for creating several obstacles in parking and getting into the show.. but your matching shirts were cool.

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After the show we went out to Eagle River, Wisconsin to visit Tremblay’s Sweet Shop for some delicious fudge because I am an addict to anything chocolate. 45-Minutes later we arrived to the rude employees of the shop who barely spoke 2 words to us and didn’t even respond to our simple hello. Despite their awful service we got some delicious fudge, pretzels and cashew clusters. We also adventured around the town for a few minutes and checked out some shops.

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The next few days were our last and we were filling up our time as much as we could. We decided a fun thing to do for our last day would be to rent some mountain bikes and go for a nice long ride. We embarked on our 3 mile ride to a nearby lake where we stayed and layed on the beach for a few hours. It was beautiful and peaceful. Somehow Tom didn’t burn even though he’s paler than paper. I went in the water but was quickly freaked out by crawfish swimming on the bottom on the lake. I don’t do well with bugs or bug-like things (i know its a fish or something shh). It was a little bit difficult to get ourselves back on the bikes after hours of being lazy but we did and battled the uphill trail all the way back to town.

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I had a great trip and this is just the highlights of what we did. There was so much more to remember and it was an amazing time for Tom and I. I would love to go back again sometime and explore other places as well. My travel bug has been fulfilled for now.