Posts Tagged ‘wisconsin’

Yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday might have seemed like a piece of weirdness.  Some shop front?  What is this place?  Why does Auntie B include this image with her ever-famous photos of glory on her blog?

I know, you have questions galore, but I only have one answer for you, one that comes in story form.

A couple of years ago I was approached by a very skilled artisan asking if I’d like to show my candles at the artZ Gallery in Amery, Wisconsin.  I thought she was joking.  Me?  My candles in a fine arts gallery?  I thought I’d lose my breath for laughing so hard, but then I realized she was serious.

I’ve participated in many craft/art shows in the Wisconsin county of Polk over several years and have come to know a lot of the local artists and crafters in that area.    The artZ Gallery is “a group of 17 regional artists working together to make (the gallery) a place to take pride in and professionally share our talents. The gallery is a gathering place for viewing quality artwork of members and over 40 guest artists, with meaningful communication, the meeting of artists, sharing ideas, and participating in classes.”

Once I got my head around the fact that I was recognizable in the area because of participating in several local festivals and fairs I felt honored to have my candles shown and sold among the fine pieces of art displayed at the gallery.

This week Husby and I took a road trip to Amery to refresh and revive the Auntie B’s Wax inventory at the artZ Gallery.  We brought in lunch and enjoyed it with our friend Loretta, the artist working at the gallery that day.  Spending time in the gallery, talking with Loretta who I’ve known for at least a decade through shows and festivals, and seeing the great works of art on display just made me feel all warm inside.  “I’m a part of this,” I said to myself.  That thought makes me smile.  Always.

Loretta’s yarn. “She spins, weaves, felts, knits and crochets natural fibers to create functional and beautiful pieces to use and enjoy.” I’ve commissioned Loretta to make things for me and let me tell you, they’re glorious! Photo credit: Randy Lee for artZ Gallery


That’s why I posted that particular Wordless Wednesday this week.

artZ Gallery in Amery, Wisconsin. Such a cool place!


artZ Gallery  is the only place in Amery, Wisconsin where Auntie B’s Wax products are displayed and sold.  If you’re in the mood for some spectacular fine art or fabulous scented candles, visit the artZ gallery!

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What a different life I have now that I don’t go to the day job every day.  Different, as in better!  I’ve noticed it the most when I’m getting ready to take my wares on the road to craft shows and festivals.

A lot of work goes into making actual products, as any artisan knows.  Then there’s packaging the products.  I spend a huge amount of time getting my candles and drink charms retail ready ~ creating labels, protecting them with shrink wrap (candles) and bags plus hang tags (charms) and putting price tags on each and every item.  After all of the products are made and packaged they have to be displayed within a 10′ X 10′ space as efficiently and pleasingly as possible.  That requires props, tables and shelving.  When it comes time to actually head out to an event the products and displays have to be accounted for in addition to the canopy under which everything is placed.  The canopy requires assembly at every show and won’t be complete without stakes and weights.  So many things to consider and organize…and fit into a standard SUV for transport.

Husby and I have it down.  As my roadie he makes sure all of the displays and canopy are packed, as well as a huge toolbox containing everything (and then some) we’ll need for the structure.  I’m responsible for packing all of the products as efficiently as I can.

Gathering my products and shelving.

Gathering my products, props and shelving.

If I’m lucky, the only thing I have to do at the last minute is pack up my scented candles.  I don’t like to keep them tubbed up for too long for fear the fragrances will bleed together.  I’m paranoid that way.

The autumn and winter candles ready for travel.

The autumn and winter candles ready for travel.

With all it takes not only to create these products but to also take them on the road I’ve never been more grateful for the fact that I don’t have to squeeze it all into little snippets of time like I did when I had a day job.

This weekend I’ll be at the Baker Orchard Art Festival in Centuria, Wisconsin.  It’s just a short and beautiful drive from Minneapolis/Saint Paul and will surely get you excited about the autumn time of year in the midwest.  Plus, I’ll be relaxed as ever as the day job is gone.

Happy Days!

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Most of us have heard of Paul Bunyan and his buddy Babe, the big blue ox.  Paul is a giant lumberjack, fictional of course, and he’s often accompanied by Babe the ox, also fictional, also a giant, and blue.  Both legends are alive and well in the Midwest United States.  This summer I was very excited to be able to have a hearty lumberjack lunch at Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty in Minocqua, Wisconsin.

Minocqua (better known as Minocqua-town per my Grandpa Joey) isn’t too far away from the family cottage, and Paenney requested a birthday meal at The Shanty.  Who could resist?  The touristy attraction is not only fun to visit, but the food is really good.

A bunch of us were at the cottage that weekend.  We piled into two cars and made our way to Minocqua-town.  The weather was perfect and it was a wonderful day for a drive through the Wisconsin countryside to the Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty, which was everything I thought it would be, and more.

Kitschy and touristy – everything a resort town in Wisconsin requires.  Lots of people who come here are from Milwaukee and Chicago, so the lumberjack theme makes them think they’re really out in the boondocks.

Log cabin decor, vintage accessories, lantern lighting, and red and white checkered tablecloths really get an appetite up.  Anyone who enters will most likely have the appetite of the giant lumberjack for whom the shanty is named.

I love the little raccoon in the rafters.

One of the fun things about this place is that they offer food family-style.  Don’t know what that means?  Well, it’s just like the name suggests.  Food is delivered to the table and everyone serves him/herself as if sitting at the family dinner table.  When ordering in this fashion the restaurant offered hearty, thickly-sliced bread, barbecued ribs, fried chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn-on-the-cob.  Mind you, this is ALL YOU CAN EAT.  Also included in the meal is soup or salad of your choice, as much as you want.  Of course you can order individual meals, like a cheeseburger or chicken nuggets, but why?  Even if you have kids at the table, do you offer them something different from what you’re eating yourself?  No!  Family style.  That’s the way a logging camp shanty should be.

Here’s the wily group I came with. We’re all waiting for the food to fill the table.

The food was delicious, our service was wonderful, and pretending to be in a logging shanty was a lot of fun.  Licking fingers isn’t frowned upon and asking for more and more food isn’t judged.  But we can’t forget, we visited the shanty for Paenney’s birthday.  His 24th birthday.  I can’t believe he’s a grown-ass man, mostly because he keeps his child-like enthusiasm.  That’s something I really admire in a person.

Because it was his birthday he was presented with a lovely, paper ox-horn headpiece and a special birthday button the size of which is fit for a giant like Paul Bunyan.

The little fella is twenty-four years old! I’m such a proud auntie.

If you’re ever in the neighborhood of Minocqua(town) or Wisconsin Dells, be sure to check out Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty.  You’ll leave satiated with good grub.  Really good grub.  And by grub I mean food.  Please don’t mistake the word grub for icky food.

*Here’s a little aside:  The shanty we visited also had a huge gift shop attached to it which was filled with fun, rustic, lumberjack stuff, and stuff that’s relevant to woodsy living.  I purchased something for Husby and myself that might or might not be featured on another blog post.  I’ll just say this…we named him Barney.*

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Hello again!

I just returned from a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway to Door County, Wisconsin.  I don’t know how many years Husby and I have been going there, but it never disappoints.  The tiny motel in which we stay is tidy, clean and unpretentious, but offers a most spectacular view of Lake Michigan.   Not only that, the house which inspired my novel-in-progress is right across the street, so I get more writing inspiration every time we visit.

*Insert House Picture Here…When you find it amid the thousands of Door County pictures you’ve taken throughout the years…I know it’s somewhere…Now I wish I’d taken another one this week…*

Speaking of writing, I tried something novel and daring while we were on our retreat.  I didn’t take my laptop with me, and when I wanted to write I did it by hand.  Yep, I took a note book with me and put my cursive writing to action instead of tapping away on a keyboard.  I must say it was refreshing, and I was surprised at how the process of writing is different when doing it by hand.  I felt like things flowed from my mind through my arm and out the pen in a more thoughtful way.  Also, I didn’t feel so detached from what was going on around me.  I may begin a practice of writing by hand every day, even if it’s just a stream-of-consciousness thing.  I really enjoyed it.

I’m sure I’ll be writing more about the peninsula soon as its abundance is all I can think about right now.  Here’s to the strength and peace of big water…


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The autumn season has begun here in Minnesota, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  August and September were such busy months for me, and now I look at the calendar and see October is more than half over!  Here’s what I’ve been up to…

1.  The Minnesota State Fair was the highlight of August.  One special thing Husby and I had the opportunity to do, in recognition of our contributions to the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, was dedicate a bench.  (Benches are a necessity at the fair ~ I’m finding that out the older I get.)  We dedicated it to Dad and my brother Diggy, who died just before his 26th year of working at the fair with Dad.

The small plaque on the back of a bench dedicated to Dad and Diggy and twenty-five years of working at the fair (and taking bench breaks) together.

2.  September was full of craft shows.  I was at the Dancing Dragonfly Winery, the Chateau St. Croix Winery, and the Baker Orchard, all in Wisconsin.  I love Wisconsin.  I went into each of these shows with doubts of one kind or another, but they all turned out to be fabulous.  The organizers of the shows did a tremendous job, it was a blast to spend weekends with my fellow artisans, and of course the food and music at all of these events were wonderful.  Husby and I have a special place in our hearts for Dave Ybarra and the Northside Dukes, who have twice invited us up to the stage to do the Hand Jive.  They played at both winery festivals, so we got our share of the blues.

Dave Ybarra (center) and the Northside Dukes. Premium blues band.

Husby and I aren’t the only ones who like to dance to the music at the festivals…

Four ladies dancing it up in front of Auntie B’s Wax’s canopy.

3.  Then came October, and Husby and I went to our beloved Door County for a bit of R&R after three consecutive weekends of craft shows.  Our trip this fall seemed to be much more relaxing than the visit we paid in the spring.  We managed to see a bunch of stuff we hadn’t seen before, and plus discovered some new restaurants that will surely become favorites for us.  Not only that, we got to lounge around and do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, which no one can do unless one is on a true vacation.  *deep sigh*

A lovely autumn in the County of Door.

4. There was also a trip to the family cabin to close it up for the winter. There was much raking and other miscellaneous chores to be done before the cozy little cottage is left to weather the forthcoming winter on its own. One never knows how it will fare, as it was built in 1950 by Grandpa Mike…from scraps.

Work gloves and rakes were the tools du jour at the family cottage.

One leaf of millions.

What now?  There’s still a lot to do, but the chaos of deadlines is behind me for the moment.  This is the time of year I cherish and I plan to enjoy it to the hilt.  I have lots of projects in store for our home and a list of hot, comforting food to make during the chilly and downright cold months to come.

I also hope to visit this site more often too, documenting happenings at the Auntie B’s Wax World Headquarters.  I’ve been away too long.

Here’s to a bright autumn and a peaceful season of dormancy.  *squeal*

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