Tour de Fat, Milwaukee 2011

Over the weekend, I went to one of the most fun festivals I've been to in a while, which says a lot, seeing as how I live in the City of Festivals, itself.

Tour de Fat is a traveling festival, making its way around the nation thanks to New Belgium Brewing Company, which happens to be one of my favorite breweries around. The tour exists to celebrate the biking community, and has an air of steampunk vaudeville that hosts entertainment from everyone from toddlers to octogenarians (which, I promise, I saw plenty of both and all those in between).

The festival itself took place in Milwaukee's Humboldt Park, right in our neighborhood! It kicked off in the morning with a bike parade, filled with eccentric costumed bikers pedaling through the streets of Bay View. Thankfully, the parade route went right near our house, so we were able to  see all the totally creative costumes and unique bikes.

After the parade, the festival had a plethora of activities so you were never really standing around, waiting for the next act. The first thing we checked out when we got there was the bike pit. It was filled with a bunch of hand-crafted, totally Dr. Seuss-looking creations, open for everyone to try.

I loved watching people step up to try the different bikes, but there was so much going on at the festival I just couldn't stick around for too long.

There were plenty of games for the hoards of kids there.
 Pretty things to see, like a kaleidoscope made out of bicycle parts!
 A periscope for the little AND big kids to check out.
 Making music out of kegs.

There was also a "Bicycle Dating Game," which was a sort of cheesy, slightly funny sketch, but the "winner," pulled from the audience, ended up winning an awesome cruiser bike!

It was a clear, beautiful summer day, but unfortunately is was ridiculously hot and humid. Everyone was looking for any shaded spot they could find. Luckily, the tour set up "cooling stations," which provided shade, and the one Eric and I found ourselves under even had an awesome rigged-up stationery bike. Every few minutes, someone would hop on and pedal, and the pedaling powered an amazingly refreshing misting system throughout the tent. It was definitely a welcome treat.

Everything at the festival was so fun, so interesting and incredibly entertaining. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the gut-busting comedy/talent show that afternoon, but rest assured it was hysterical. Eric and I were often time doubled over in laughter at the man-woman duo schtick. It greatly exceeded our expectations.

But my favorite part of the festival was music headliner Free Energy. This is a band I first heard a few months ago and instantly enjoyed. They're a fun-loving, slightly garagey, slacker rock group that clearly makes sure their audience is having a good time. Hailing from Philadelphia, they sure knew how to win over their Wisconsin crowd when the frontman shouted to the lead guitarist, "Take 'em to the Dells!" If you're not from Wisconsin you may not get this reference to the Water Park Capital of the world, but it had the crowd roaring (Especially when referencing the Dells staple Tommy Bartlett Show). When I heard they were playing this festival, there was no way I was going to miss it.

Even the kids were rocking out!

The day ended with a big-ol' Ferris-Bueller inspired number to say goodbye to everyone, complete with confetti galore (which this kids gobbled up in hoards as soon as it all hit the ground).

This was the second year the Tour de Fat made a stop in Milwaukee and I'm really, really hoping it continues to do so every year. With New Belgium brews flowing, activities to keep everyone occupied and fantastic entertainment, this festival has been my favorite one attended this entire summer. The tour makes stops in major cities around the country all summer/fall, so check out their route and if they come anywhere near where you live, you'll definitely want to head over and experience the fun.


Your Weekly Pins

Another Friday, another week full of pins! Here's what I've been keeping track of on Pinterest this week:


[From the painted log walls to the patterned sofa and even the moose head: I absolutely love this room. If I had a little cabin Up North, this is exactly how I'd want it to look. Cabin chic?]

[I found both this image and the one above on what might be my new favorite home design blog: Desire to Inspire. The homes they share are so to my taste, and this entire room just 
makes me swoon.]

[Isn't this chair fantastic? Of course, it's first appeal its chevron pattern, but it also actually looks so comfy in addition to being cute!]

[I pinned this mostly due to its fabulous color palette. I love the cool mint and bright citron pairing, and the little pop of pink from the roses adds a little sweetness. Also, check out that amazing hanging mirror to the right. I may have to DIY that at home.]

[I'm partial to any piece of furniture that's tufted or quilted, but learning that this gorgeous tufted ottoman was a complete DIY creation by a relative novice? That won me over on a whole different level. Also, I'm just loving this entire room's look altogether.] 


[Buffalo Chicken Mac 'n Cheese. There is absolutely no way this could not be delicious. I am definitely making this once Fall rolls around and the comfort-food cravings kick in.]

[Until the appliance fairy comes along and drops off my long-wanted ice-cream-maker Kitchen Aid attachment, I'm going to have to take this route: Homemade ice cream in a bag (in 10 minutes!).] 

[And just to prove to you I am actually a healthy eater, stuffed cucumber bites. These would be a perfect app for any party, no matter how laid back or fancy!]


[You're not even reading this right now because you're dead from the cuteness.]

[This one is kind of a two-fer. Totally rockin' chair (while not an actual rocking chair) AND incredibly adorable Frenchie? Be still my heart.]


[Soft enough for day, sparkly enough for night, I NEED this dress.... right?]

[By now you all know my obsession with the gray/yellow color scheme, but gray may soon have to move over in favor of royal blue with mustard yellow.]


[Hands down my favorite design blog is Design Sponge. I check it every single day and pull loads of inspiration from this site alone. I'm dying to crack open the site's NEW book and see all the gorgeousness and creative DIY ideas inside. If you order through Barnes & Noble TODAY only, you can get it 50% off! People, my half birthday is only two months away...]

What have you pinned this week?


Enough Cuke to Puke

So, uhhh...... remember the other day when I said my cucumber plants was expanding rapidly but had only produced little baby teenager cucumbers thus far?

Way wrong.

I must be the most oblivious gardener in the world because when I was snapping photos of the garden earlier this week I completely missed this MONSTER of a cucumber! I was walking by the garden yesterday and just happened to glance down to notice a behemoth, tennis-ball-can-sized cuke just lying there, proudly reigning over its cowering kingdom of twerp-sized cucumber relatives.

To illustrate the size of the cucumber, here it is next to a very wiggly (and apparently hungry) Mr. Pancakes.

And, mind you, Mr. Pancakes is no imp of a cat.

I'm taking this as a hint that I probably need to go outside, get low and actually take a close look at what beasts may be growing underneath all those coiling vines and leaves.

I'm fairly certain if this cuke was taken before congress to testify it had never done steroids, it'd be found guilty of perjury.

Or maybe it wouldn't.

I assure you, all of my produce is 100% organic, because I wouldn't know the first thing about how to enhance them. But, daaaaaangg, does it look like something hit up a stockpile of HGH or what?


A New Look

Hi friends! Please, don't touch the dial, close your browser or become confused - this is the same I'm Loving Today you've always known and loved found somewhat amusing, maybe. But I'd been itching for a new design for some time now and have finally found one I'm pretty happy with. It's simple, it's cute and just plain happy to look at. Plus, who doesn't love bunting (you know, that little flag banner at the top?)? Stay patient while I fiddle with things to try to get it looking spectacular for you - more changes may be coming!

But first, I've got to know, what do you think of the new look? Love it? Hate it? Let me know! I'd love to hear your feedback!

A Garden Update

What a different 19 days, high humidity and a few rain showers make! My last State of the Garden address was nearly three weeks ago, and within those three weeks boy have things been busy!

My friends, check out this crop.
If you look to the very right, you'll see the cucumber plant is literally spilling out of the garden itself.

To refresh you memory, 19 days ago this is what it looked like:
Quite a change!

First of all, Herb Corner is getting just a bit out of control.
My one basil plant has turned into two, and my cilantro is spreading like wildfire. I gave a bunch to a coworker, made salsa with the cilantro and pesto with some basil over the weekend, but hardly put a dent in anything. Does anyone want some fresh herbs? I'd be more than happy to share!

And my "mystery plant?" Well, although it's completely taken over the entire garden, I still have no clue what it is. Granted, I haven't crouched down to look extra closely in the past few days, but still: I'm stumped. 

And even though the mystery plant is all but blanketing my strawberries, sure enough, they're forming! About a week ago, I had a few more of these cropping up, but came home one night only to find that a hungry little creature had bitten every single one off at the stem! Hopefully they've lost their taste for unripened strawberries and will leave these little babies alone.

Also taking up space are my cucumber plants. As I mentioned before, they are spilling out of the enclosure!
So what's going on underneath all those leaves?
Baby cucumbers are starting to....
I was so excited when I noticed this bad boy lying there in all its cucumbery glory this morning. Although it's currently in its awkward teenage phase, I've got a feeling pretty soon I'm going to be up to my eyeballs in ultra-mature cukes.

Fighting for space near the cucumbers plants are my bush beans. Rollll that beautiful bean footage (I'm sorry.):

Don't they look gorgeous? I'm guessing they'll be ready for picking very shortly. They sprouted and grew in no time!

And as for my sad little jalapeno plant, which I never thought would produce after being ravaged by gluttonous bunnies weeks ago, well, just look:
No... look closer:
The little nuggets of spicy joy have overcome the obstacles and are growing to full size! I'm so proud of their grit and determination. They're real troopers, those jalapenos.

And finally, the real superstars of the garden all along have been the banana peppers.

In three weeks they've gone from little pepperlings to full-blown pepper BEASTS. I'n fact, I've already harvested about five of them.

They're big and sweet and great in salads and salsa. I have noticed that the bottoms on a few have gotten brown and kind of rotten. Does that mean I should have picked them earlier, or is this normal? I'd like to can and pickle a few, so that's my next DIY endeavor to tackle.

Frankly, I'm surprised how well everything has gone in the garden. I started everything as a complete novice, blindly planting and hoping I was caring enough for my little crops-to-be. I'm still a novice, but am so pleased with how things have progressed! 

Now, one last update, which happens to be outside of the garden on the main level of our backyard: The grape vines!

Sadly, the pretty red roses are gone, but look what's sprouted in their absence!

Green, glorious baby grapes! They've still got some time to grow before they can be picked, but they're starting to get big! There's always a pack of birds perched atop the vines, so I'm thrilled they haven't been stingy enough to eat them all. If they all stay in tact, we'd have enough to make some wine, for sure.... though I don't know if I'm up to the challenge (or, actually, the being patient enough for fermentation...). 

Thank goodness for the weather we've gotten in July. Sure, it was ridiculously hot there for a while, but all the moisture in the air and a few nice rain showers really moved things along outside. I can't wait to see what the next couple weeks will hold - I may be doing a lot of harvesting!

Do you have a green thumb? Can you give me any pointers? Am I doing everything absolutely, appallingly wrong? Let me know in the comments!



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