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The Matts House in Verona-Now The Purple Goose!


10-9-14

Al and I were in Verona, gathering photos for a blog post. We took a look at the businesses and buildings in town and discovered this. The Matts House in Verona, Wisconsin was vacant at that time and deemed an eyesore. It was one of the last historic buildings in town, built in the 1840’s. The only other building that is historic that is left is the Cahoots Bar, a former Stagecoach stop.

In my photo, you could see a sign that the house was for free to anyone who could get rid of it.  Thank goodness, nobody took up the offer.

We were shocked to see this and hoped somebody would save the house before possible demolition.


October 2016

Two years pass.  Building Rehabilitation Specialist Troy Rost persuaded the city alders to sell him the house for $1. Troy also restored the Stamm House in Middleton as well. He promised to have the house ready for occupation within two years. Read the article about this development here.  Also here.


October 19, 2017

The renovation was well underway at this point, we stopped by to take an interim picture of the house.

We attended a meeting in Verona that day called “What’s Up at the Matts House?”  Here is a video of the meeting you can also watch. It outlines the history of the house and showed some renovation photos. Troy Rost himself was the presenter.


2018

The building renovation is finished on schedule. Now, the next task is to find a tenant. The Purple Goose women’s boutique store jumped at the chance to move to this beautiful historical building. This was their building in 2017.

On October 13 of 2018, they reopened in their new building to an enthusiastic crowd. I was able to see it for myself on October 22nd. Very impressive!

This beautiful door is possibly from one of the previous businesses here, they kept it and it looks beautiful!

To the right of the register, step through the doorway for some beauty time at Makeup by Francesca. I am not skilled at all with makeup application. I will come here if I need her help!  Francesca Clemente will bring out your best features to look your best, whatever the occasion!

That’s not all, there is open space upstairs called the Brick House StudioTheresa Ann Stuesser holds many classes here.

Everyone interested in seeing the Matts House is welcome during business hours at The Purple Goose.  The citizens of Verona are grateful this beautiful building was saved for all to enjoy.  Thank you, Troy Rost, for taking charge and turning this dream into reality!

 

Mousehouse Cheesehaus in Windsor


7-3-18  Celebrating 30 Years!

You can’t miss it as you leave Madison, heading north on I-90.  Take exit 131 and you are soon there.  This prime location has given them so many customers, they had to expand over the last year to keep up.

In the 70’s, the store was mostly a liquor store with some cheese. Tony’s parents owned it from 1988-1998, increasing the amount of cheese over liquor. Tony took over ownership of the Mousehouse Cheesehaus in 1998 from his parents and added homemade fudge in 2009.  I took this photo in 2010.  The mouse on top of the roof is named Igor. Hours are 8 AM-7 PM daily so plenty of time to stop in.

In 2016, before the expansion, CEO Tony Sobczak and Vice President Heather Smythe explained all that they do on a local Wisconsin program called, “Talk of the Town”. She has been there for 20 years!

July 2018

The expansion was completed in 2017 and there is room now for much more cheese and fudge! Read more about the expansion here.

The inside is just as amazing, bring a cooler because you are going to need it.  This is your one-stop shop for all things Wisconsin.

You can now watch Fudge and Cheese Curds being prepared through the new viewing windows. On the left is the fudge window, the right is the cheese room.  Stop in around noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays to see these confections being made! Separate prep rooms for the cheese and fudge ensures the highest quality for you, the customer!

Inside the Fudge room. Inside are 2 steam-jacketed kettles with stirrers to make the fudge creamy and smooth while cooking. It takes about 40 minutes for the fudge to be ready to pour and flavor. Read more on the fudge here.

In the Cheese room, you can watch cheese curds mixed with herbs and spices to give you many flavor choices.

 You can watch both cheese and fudge being prepared on Tuesdays and Thursdays at around 12:00 PM. The new viewing windows to the cheese and fudge kitchen are a hit with the kids too! These new kitchens ensure that your cheese and fudge are prepared with the utmost care and in a very clean environment. You can see how clean everything is!

Enjoy a tour of the store with me in the video below. You can taste all the cheese before you buy too. You can get pre-assembled gift boxes or choose your own selections for a custom box. Watch Megan make many varieties of delicious fudge right from the viewing window!           Also, see April mix many flavors of delicious cheese curds made that very morning! I’m getting hungry just watching.

You can also get sandwiches here, no need to go somewhere else for lunch or supper.  Igor’s Big Belly Deli can make prepare sandwiches to order to go or eat there in their dining room. Get 8-inch subs too, pre-made and ready to eat.  Menu here.

We hope you enjoyed touring the Mousehouse Cheesehaus.  Tony, Heather, and crew are happy to serve you and bring you the best cheese and fudge in Wisconsin!  Contact them here or come for a visit!

  • CONTACT INFORMATION
  • 4494 Lake Circle Windsor, WI 53598
  • Toll-Free: 800-526-6873
  • Local: 608-846-4455
  • Email at: customerservice@mousehousecheese.com

Photo by Mousehouse Cheesehaus

 

It’s The Cat’s Meow at Cat Cafe Mad


Cat Cafe Mad closed in mid-July 2018.

2-3-18

The latest trend in unique restaurants is ones with cats you can interact with.  Madison didn’t waste any time clueing into this new idea and the Cat Café Mad was born!

In April 2016, it just had a small kiosk in the front to get your drink from a single cup brewing machine. They expanded in 2017 to have more room for the cats and provide a larger menu, also to survive. There is now an open kitchen and small dining area to eat your food. Only drinks are allowed into the “Cattery”. These are your drink choices.

Hot tea also.

A view of the open kitchen and dining room.

Today’s special was a Pulled Pork Crepe, crafted by Chef Dunn, Manager and Chef at the café.  It was delicious! We had the large crepe, there are choices for every palate.

Just to let you know, the cats are not just sealed into a room with no stimulation. There are lots of toys and windows for them to peer through. In the wall separating the cattery from the restaurant, there are 5 bubble windows so they could see what is going on. As you see, one was doing just that.

Some cats were looking inside and it was so cute! Five cats are permanent residents, the others are up for adoption so the number of cats varies. The current list.

We finished our crepes and were ready to play with the cats. In between the room and dining area is an “airlock” to ensure an extra barrier between the people and cat area. Only children 5 and up are allowed, and a waiver must be signed by all patrons. A $5 cover charge is required to enter the cattery, it help cover the cost of care.  Photos are permitted, don’t use flash as it will startle the cats. There are rules all must follow to protect the cats and yourself.

Also tips on how read cat body language.  For someone who never has owned a cat (yet!), this was very helpful to me.

The cattery also has webcam you can watch anywhere on your device or computer. Click on this icon from the website. The camera is on the wall in the center of the room in the back.

Enjoy this video of our visit!

Such a wonderful place to de-stress if you love cats but can’t have one at home.  The crepes are delicious too! Many fun events happen here on the weekends.  High Tea is quite popular. See it here on time lapse.

We plan on making as many visits as we can!

 Donations are welcome and appreciated!

You can  join a Meetup group and make friends with other cat lovers in the community. You will be kept up to date on events at the café.

 

Related Websites

Madison Cat Lovers

Community Cat,Inc.

Underdog Pet Rescue of Wisconsin

TRUE Coffee Roasters

Sjölinds Chocolate House-Mt. Horeb

Petcube

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Litter

35th Annual Cesky Den in Hillsboro


6-10-17 / 2nd Saturday in June

This is our 4th Cesky Den and we were happy we could come back again.  Here is the full schedule of events. Admission is $10 and includes a souvenir button and you get entered into a raffle too!

They have made some changes since our first time in 2013. The festival seemed mostly adult oriented our first time, now they have added more modern attractions the kids are enjoying these days.  The morning began with a Color Run, first implemented last year.

Also a bounce house for the kids.

I still miss the Yuba Hillsboro Czech Singers, they have not been there for a few years. At least I have the CD they produced a few years back. It has traditional Czech songs sung in Czech. Here are the liner notes. This picture is from our first time in 2013.

Notice the cool backdrop? It shows businesses in Hillsboro.

Enjoy the Color Run and the Opening Ceremony below.

The Cesky Den Royalty

Inside the Fireman’s Community Center is where most of the fun takes place. The polka bands provide plenty of music for dancing, and people love to dance here.

This year we had music by the Musical Brass. They are from Green Bay. Also Barefoot Becky & the Ivanhoe Dutchmen. They are from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Enjoy!

Speaking of dancing, Cesky Den isn’t complete without a performance by the Domaci Dancers, talented children in the community keeping Czech dances in the forefront. I’ve watched the older children grow up over the last 4 years. Now they are helping teach the younger ones. Denise Huntley heads the Domaci Dancers and has done a wonderful job! See this year’s performance below.

You can get your traditional Czech pork dinner here too, it was delicious! Here is the menu.

I got the cookbook they had for sale, recipes for the same food so you can make it at home too! It was only $5.

Photo by Al Kutil

Czech bakery items are also for sale, Kolachy, Rolicky (poppyseed rolls),  and more!

After lunch, we headed over to the craft show. There was also a vest-making free workshop for the kids. We plan on having vests to wear next year!

You can even get a picture behind a cutout, kids too!

The Hillsboro Women’s Civic Club  had a Bake Sale, the pie was yummy!

Everyone is Czech at Cesky Den, Vitamé Vas!

 

 

 

The Heidel House Resort and Spa in Green Lake


9-20-17

The journey to escape stress and tension begins in the friendly community of Green Lake, home of the Heidel House Resort and Spa. This place has a long and rich history, first known as the Kelly Estate in 1890. I took the picture above at Horners Landing in Ripon. This is the deepest natural lake in Wisconsin,  measured at 237 feet deep, 2 miles across and 7 miles long.  We did one scuba dive from this site on 7-22-98, almost 20 years ago. It was time to go back and see more of Green Lake than the bottom.

The reputation of this resort as THE PLACE to be in Wisconsin for a great get-away has spread far and wide and we wanted to see it for ourselves.  The beauty of the resort in early fall with the leaves beginning to change color made us feel welcome immediately.

Photos by Laurie Kutil

After a busy morning exploring the Green Lake area, we were hungry for lunch! We went into the Main Lodge building and enjoyed a great view of the lake in their Sunroom restaurant. See the menus here, this restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, you can get breakfast for lunch if you want!

Photo by Laurie Kutil

There is a self-service cart outside of the restaurant for coffee on-the-go.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

The sunny dining room with a view of the beach and dock. It was a good day to be out on a boat, though a little bit windy.

Photos by Laurie Kutil

Lunch is served!  Our wait staff lady Amber was great answering our questions about the resort and was very attentive, as were all the staff there.  I ordered the Heidel Burger and Al the Fire and Ice Salad. Delicious!

Photos by Laurie Kutil

The resort has three other restaurants, the Boathouse Pub   located below the Sunroom. It is open at 2 PM M-F,  11 AM on the weekend.  There is plenty of seating to enjoy the fresh air off the lake on their large patio.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

Lastly, the Pump House Parlor, open limited hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday, cash only.

Also the Grey Rock for fine dining and live music Wednesday through Saturday.

The lodge has many comfortable seating areas.

Photo by Al Kutil

Get a souvenir of your visit at the gift shop.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

Did you know you can also have timeshare ownership also?  This is the Hilltop building where you can own a piece of the Heidel House resort for an extended stay. Check for availability.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

There are many options for accommodations for your stay of any length. Enjoy the Lac Verde Lodge with both and indoor and outdoor pool.

Photo by Al Kutil

You can also stay in the main lodge.  Also the Stable House near the lodge.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

The Heidel House is also a great place for weddings, from rehearsal dinner to reception.  The Carriage Tent to protect your party from the elements is available from May-October.

See map of the grounds to see all accommodations available. We didn’t have a chance to see all of them but we plan on returning next year.

A closer look down by the lakefront. This is the walking path outside.

There are a great many mature trees here, providing shade on a hot summer day. This Indian Bean Tree has a large canopy and looks to be at least 100 years old.

Photo by Al Kutil

Photo by Laurie Kutil

Relax on the private beach outside of the main lodge. You can also take a cruise on the yacht Escapade during the summer and fall.

Photo by Laurie Kutil

 Lakeside view from dock.

The Heidel House is a great place to visit any time of the year. Next summer we plan on a cruise on their Escapade boat. Get away from it all at the Heidel House Resort and Spa!

 

 

 

 

Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota


4-29-17

We finally made it to the Spam Museum, the last attraction at the conclusion of our Westward Ho! vacation. We arrived at 12:18 and left at 1:30. The people at the desk greet you with a friendly “Hello” and are ready to answer any questions you might have about Hormel’s popular canned meat.

There were many visitors today, enjoying the many interactive exhibits.  Here are some highlights I filmed there.

As you can see, Spam cans take a ride above you on a conveyor belt. Someone put a camera up there so you can see what they see 🙂

Spam™ has played an important part in American history, including feeding the troops during WWII as well as people in other countries. One of them is Hawai’i, our 49th state. Spam™ is still a part of many recipes there.  An exhibit also pays homage to the famous Spam™ skit on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  One of my favorites!

A Hormel delivery wagon.

Spam™ for every meal! Get your recipe ideas here at this console.

Plenty of signage teaching visitors the history of Spam and Hormel.

Stop at the gift shop before leaving, we got a Spam™ slicer. And yes, you can buy Spam here too, many flavors. We got a couple of these too.

This museum was great fun to visit and even though we were only here just over an hour, we could have spent even more time here.  Come if you can and enjoy Spam™!

 

 

Wall Drug in South Dakota


April 28, 2017

Wall Drug Store is one place you must see if you visit South Dakota. My dad came here a log time ago and said we needed this unique place on our itinerary. We stopped here on our way to the Badlands to see what the buzz was about.

This place is big so allow yourself plenty of time. We spent about 90 minutes here, a whole day is really needed to see everything. It is not just one store but MANY stores. We explored the main store on the left. That alone was big enough. Another new store was going up.

We entered the main building, it looks like an old west scene, complete with characters to take selfies with.

Even Zoltar the fortune teller.

There is even a chapel inside the store, very beautiful! Quite an interesting story of its history too.

Just before leaving we stopped in the ice cream shop for a treat. As always, ice water is free.

Also the gift shop, what do you choose?

You could easily make a day of this place, we had a hard time leaving but the journey continues. Be sure to bring your camera!