Friday, August 27, 2010

Tourdot Winery: A Drive Through the Country

In May of this year I took a trip with family to Wisconsin Dells, a favorite childhood vacation destination, and we had the chance to visit the Tourdot Winery. Tourdot is one of the Dells newest additions, and a great breather from all the lights, water and people.  

If you are not familiar with Wisconsin Dells, it is a gorgeous vacation destination here in the Midwest right along the Wisconsin River.  The Dells are actually the sandstone formations that are carved into the rock along the bank.  It is actually this sandstone that makes the area the ideal place to have a vineyard, and why the Tourdot family is smart for starting their new small business.

Driving out to the vineyard was actually very easy, it is minutes from downtown Dells, down a quiet country road. The winery itself is small, but enough for the size of the overall vineyard.  Our family, and yes, the vineyard is totally family and kid friendly, showed up early in the day for wine tasting and ended up sitting out on the patio enjoying wine and cheese and Frisbee golf.

I actually cannot wait to come back and see the winery and vineyard when it has grown a little more.  We were not able to do more than sample the wines that are straight from their own grapes-- they need a little more time-- but what we did taste was great.  The wine that they are making and serving now is made from the grapes that they bring in and I regret not buying more bottles when I had the chance. 

The owner took the time to step out and show us the property, they will be offering tours once everything is up and going, and I loved the maple trees that surrounded the vineyard.  In this picture you can see the shed where maple was once collected and turned into maple syrup-- something they plan on bringing back!

If you are ever driving through this part of the country, the Tourdot Winery is definitely worth a stop.  If you are vacationing in the Dells, it is definitely a nice respite from all the people.  And for flea market fans, there is a small road side stand selling things you would only find at a country flea market (seriously rustic). 

Tourdot Winery
3619 13th Avenue · Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
(608) 253 · 4400

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Got2b Smooth Operator Product Review

A couple months ago Got2b sent me a coupon for their new Smooth Operator Hairspray or Lustre Lotion, in exchange for an honest review, as part of a Bzz Campaign. I have been using several Got2b hair products for years, mainly the Heat Styling Lotion and Luxury Mousse, so I was really excited to try the new styling line.  

Right now I am in a good place with my hair, but the twins long hair has become especially unmanageable, frizzy and tired.  Because their hair is so long, it is harder for them to care for, especially when they are in a rush and do not want to take the time to do so, so I went to the store with their hair in mind. I decided on the Got2b Smooth Operator Smoothing Lustre Lotion.

The twins have gone through two bottles in the past two months, since I showed them how to apply it and styled their hair for them.  I am still on the fence with how long the product lasts, and if this is the better deal than the mousse or hairspray that are in the line, but the girls really like it and their hair looks great so we will stick with this for now.  

Both of the twins have very thick, wavy hair all the way down their backs and they each use about five to six pumps of the bottle to finger it evenly through all their locks.  If you have thinner or shorter hair, you would only need half that amount.

The smell and feel that the lotion leaves their hair in is incredible.  I think the lotion is a little too strong, but the girls really love it.  And no matter how they decide to style their hair, straighten it or keep it wavy, the lotion really does smooth it down and keeps it silky.  And because it protects from heat styling we no longer have to purchase a separate bottle of heat styling lotion!

The twins and I all give Got2b's new Smooth Operator line two thumbs up and want to thank Got2b and Bzz for letting us try their new lotion out. 

Check out Got2b on Facebook, here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Daytripping to Pisa, Italia!

The twins and I had nothing better to do this weekend so we decided to head to Pisa, Italia to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa! We have been to Italy, wait, I have been to Italy, but never to see the Tower, so we were all very excited.

Funny thing is, I pass the Tower all the time, but never have the time or inclination to stop, even though I think it is one of the coolest and weirdest things I have seen driving around. The twins have passed near it several times, but again, never had the chance to stop, get out and take a few snapshots.

We had time this weekend though, so we all hopped out and wouldn't you know it, but there was absolutely no one else checking out the Tower of Pisa today!

The girls were more excited about the cool looking telephone booth though, so we walked over to snap a couple pictures of them inside.

Wouldn't you know it, but there was not actually a phone inside the booth and I started laughing because it reminded me of the poor telephone booth that an angry Italian beat up in Piazza de Trevi because it didn't work.

In those couple of minutes we were snapping away, about five different families and a van full of tourists pulled up and we had to wait around to get pictures in front of the tower.  I was seriously getting irked because there was this couple that kept arguing over the poses they wanted to take and not actually taking any pictures.  Plus, I knew that if we were going to get home before I was too tired to drive anymore, we had to move fast. 

Our turn finally came and the girls went at it,
posing like mad in front of the Leaning Tower.

Catherine decided on a new approach to hold up the Tower and took the weight on her shoulder!

Christine decided to go Old School and hold the Tower up with her hands, lol!

Only thing was, the job was not actually that hard, but that was only because you are not looking at "the" Tower of Pisa, but the Tower of Niles :)

See, the real thing would definitely not be flying the American flag, front and center. 

The girls were hoping to trick everyone into thinking we really were in Pisa, Italy, but I think everyone around here knows about this Leaning Tower.  It is one of those weird things that pops up and you just cannot help but wonder at.

The story, as I heard it, was that the Tower of Niles was built in the hopes of gaining sister city status with Pisa, but the city originally balked.  Many, many years later, Niles and Pisa finally were sister cities-- but I am pretty sure that has since changed.  Now the city uses it as a meeting point and concerts are held in the plaza.  It is a really neat thing to stop and see though, as it is exactly one half the size of the real Tower smack in the middle of IL.

Oh, and I found another lion!
Unus Sed Leo!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eight Ways to Use a Watermelon

We have been drowning in fresh fruit for months, which has left me looking for different ways to use everything that we cannot eat in a matter of daysWatermelon has been especially abundant, and in the past two months, I have come up with so many ways to use all the watermelon that we have. 

Here are some of them:

Watermelon Smoothies
Make smoothies with the extra flesh that you have by blending up to three cups melon, one and a half cup strawberry and three tablespoons lime juice.  Add one cup ice and sugar to taste.  Blend well and enjoy!   

Watermelon Licuado
I love drinking licuados all summer long, and watermelon is one of those flavors that just screams summer. I make mine using a whole watermelon cut into chunks and seeded.  Add watermelon and one liter of water to a bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.  Pour water and watermelon into sieve and into a serving pitcher, use spoon to push as much of the juice into the pitcher as possible, leaving only the watermelon flesh behind. Add the juice of one to two limes and honey to sweeten.  Pour over ice and enjoy!

Watermelon Sorbet
Fruit sorbets have become an evening dessert and so far we have done this with just about every fruit you can imagine. To make watermelon sorbet combine 4 cups pureed watermelon and 1/2 cup simple syrup in a small metal baking pan-- I like to use my banana bread pans. Freeze for six to eight hours and then serve!

Toasted Seeds
This was a first for me, but I am up for new things and since I pulled the seeds for the liquado already I figured, why not. So toast half a cup of seeds in a pan over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Add a 1.4 cup water to one and a half tsp salt to the pan and cook until the liquid is evaporated. Cool and enjoy as you would nay other seed. 

Toss in a Salad
I am surprised by how limited people are with their salads, and how many fruits and veggies people skip or simply do not know of. One of my favorite ways to enjoy watermelon is in salad, with jicama and mandarins.  It gives the salad a whole different taste and you do not need to add any dressing because the fruit gives you all the flavoring that you need. 

Make a salsa
A sweet and hot watermelon salsa is an incredible treat and can be done with just a couple ingredients and absolutely no cooking involved.  Dice up any leftover watermelon you have, dice one red chili or a green jalapeno pepper, squeeze the juice of one lime, chop cilantro and if you have mango or pineapple you can go ahead and add that to the salsa too. I like to eat it with chips or pour it over grilled chicken!

Pickle the Rind
I've read about this and even tried it once, but the result cannot be what everything I read have been going on about.  I am not giving up though, as the recipe I found was less than easy to follow and I think I might have messed something up or accidentally doubled an ingredient.  If you are up for it though, there are several online recipes and tons of books that are nothing but pickling. 

One Big Slice at a Time
Last but not least, I love to eat watermelon one big slice at a time! Many of my favorite summertime recipes involve eating watermelon, on a beach and getting all messy.  There have been Lake Michigan slices, Tybee Island slices, Washington beach slices, Padre Island slices and Long Island slices for me :)