Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Door County Brewing Company, a Family "Adventure".

We have just about done ourselves in.
The brewery officially opens this Sat, the 24th at 11am.
I cannot tell you the stories, the stresses, the ambulance ride and emergency surgery, the happy events, the ones that left us thinking we were done for, the brilliant ideas tossed at us out of nowhere… which all go without saying when you're starting a new business.
Last Saturday we hosted a party, or soft opening so that we could invite our neighbors, vendors, local BH businesses, distributors, builders and anyone else who has supported and helped along the way.
It was great.
Surrounded by people that love us, and that we love, we were able to make our mistakes and allowed to shine all at the same time.
I just want to leave you with these images of the evening.
There were many hands and magical touches… and you'll see the love in the pictures.

 Brewer, Manager… Husband/Make It Happen Guy.

 John is so driven to make this happen, and I am so proud of him.  Every hurdle, however insurmountable he just kept going.

And yet, we still like each other.

Growlers and Howlers.

  Blaze, one of our bartenders hard at work.

A peak at the brewing system. 

Did I tell you how proud I am of my husband?  

A quick shot through the retail.

I cannot tell you how fun that chalkboard is.  Alicia Daubner is doing all of our marketing.  While she lives in the big city a few hours south of here, she grew up here.  Talk of the aliens, being lead to China, lawyers and chubs… and Doc Wahl.  Just ask.

 The band!  No Name String Band from Madison.  No pa system needed.  However, after a couple of hours they moved around the room and sudden outbursts of jigs ensued.

I would say we had about 250 people.  Nistebox served up some fabulous food. 
All of these wonderful pictures were taken by Chris Eichenseer.

More details and stories soon...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sweet Annie, an Ephraim Wedding

Quite a few years ago, we were graced with the presence of Annie.
Still in college and spending summers in her family's seasonal cottage, like all the summer residents, wanting a summer job.
I knew her Mom and other assorted relatives from being customers in my shop.  When we met it was during the hay day for retail in the county.  I prided myself on the varieties of bedding we carried in the shop… vast swatches of fabrics for custom bedding, quilts, comforters, european shams antique and new… you name it, and several of Annie's relatives have these cozy linens in their homes.

It was this particular year that we hired Annie to work part time at the shop.
From the minute I met her I was intrigued.  Confident.  Well mannered (well taught).  Graceful.  Articulate.  I couldn't help but think there was nary a situation this girl couldn't handle.  Kind and thoughtful.
This was also the year we experimented with our "Low Tea".  Which was another glorious, chaotic, laughable yet dreamy time in the shop.
(Carol and I introduced Annie to making sandwiches on the ironing board when all else fails.)

One summer.  Only one.
We stay in touch.  She graduates.  Gets a job at the Art Institute of Chicago as an event planner.
Starts taking photos of her own.  Sidelines as a wedding photographer.  Studies photography and the use of film versus digital.  Gains respect as a photographer and thrills clients.
Meets a boy.

In the meantime our lives separate, but I am lucky enough to connect with her on face book and a quick stop in the shop during her busy summer visits.

Then it happened.
"I'm getting married, could you help with the wedding?".

Here is where I want to share an interesting insider view of "summer people".
Annie comes from several generations of Ephraim summer people.
They own very old cabins and cottages throughout Ephraim.
None particularly large, or fancy… or updated.  No air conditioning, and certainly not winterized.
However, they are well lived cottages.  Well lived and solid.

The handful of times I visited Annie's mom, Debby… she would ask me "what can we do with this place?!?  I need your help.  It's so dated."  And yet standing there, I could never  come up with a thing.  Authentic living.  They keep it in working order and comfortable… and keep that very deep Door County summer feeling alive.
We have this friendly tossed about phrase concerning Ephraim summer people, "Oh, she's EYC or he's EYC".

Ephraim Yacht Club.
(I have to admit stealing this early photo from Annie concerning a cherished relative)
Oh, it's grand all right. 
About the size of a large living room.
They teach the young set how to sail.  
Many a summer morning before work I have parked myself at the Ephraim beach and watched the boats go out.  Little bursts of white sails highlighting Eagle Harbor.  Precious summer memories for those who participate and for those of us who live here appreciating the history that continues due to these "summer people".

Back to the wedding…
after many discussions I knew that they only needed props from me. 
Debby is an fabulous event planner on her own, and we landed on the idea of renting tables and the bar from me.  I would show up the day before to help out where I could.
My dad, who built all the tables from the wishes of an earlier very creative bride, and I packed the trailer and we were off to the Ephraim homestead.

To be continued...


Friday, January 17, 2014

Everything Just Got Real.

First of all, Viva's Vintage Market is inked in for Sat. July 12th in Baileys Harbor!

I've been a bit shy talking about this because it's really about my husband and sons.  Over the course of almost two years things have churned and shifted, evolved, shed, gained, lost, hit highs and have bottomed out.  While I've been around to offer opinions, run an errand here and there, I've pretty much stayed out of it.
Until now.

A couple of years ago a serious conversation started about starting a craft brewery… a conversation between my husband and a couple of good friends.  We knew that our son, Danny had been home brewing for quite a while and was making some very tasty beer.

Fast forward, the two good friends have their lives fill up with other new ventures, Danny gets educated at Siebel Inst. of Technology (America's oldest brewing school) and we buy an old grocery store solely dedicated to brewing, which has evolved even further.

Today it's official.  We are turning the old grocery store in Baileys Harbor into a tap and tasting room.
Some of you may have had our beer, because it's making the rounds through the state…
Polka King Porter
Little Sister
Goat Parade…
all by Door County Brewing Company.
Yep, that's us.

I'm going to keep a journal right here on the progress of the remodeling… so here we go, warts and all.

Even here we were thrilled just to have cleaned the place out.  See the white beams going from the floor to the ceiling?
They revealed quite the surprise. Our friend Kerry, my dad, Dan, Danny, and John.

Do you see those beams?!?!  They go from the basement up!  I believe there are nine of them.

More beams...

A mock up of the bar!  We are incredibly lucky to have Rick and John (pics to come) working on the remodel.  Not only stellar builders, creativity to boot!

The basement is actually my favorite spot, however it's where the brewing equipment will be stored.  The new stair case will lead right up into the bar area.

While the entire place is almost gutted, the kitchen area remains.  I got a kick out of the cole slaw recipe taped onto the  paper hand towel container right over the sink.

Recognize it now?  Yep, it's a beast and not a pretty one.  However, we're putting our hearts into it and have been lucky enough to fine the right people to help get it done.  This building was originally a barn, then a feed mill.  We're getting lots of stories from people who worked and played here!
Old doors in the basement.  This old barn door was turned into a workbench in the basement.  You know this makes me happy!

Another door… remember, this is "before".

…. and one more.

This kind of stuff excites me!  The beams in the basement still have bark on them!

When we took down the ugly paper ceiling tiles, this is what we found.

You cannot believe the snow… and not a bad view either.

A quick snowy look down the street.

Look at the top picture, and look at this after the gutting!

If you were a long time customer, you might remember Ben on the left  and Danny on the right (oldest) back in the day when they would help me at the register.
Danny is our brewer and Ben is our sales and tap room manager.  Ben will be greeting and serving you!

The goal is to be open by Mem'l Day Weekend.  You'll be able to come in and sample several beers or enjoy a pint or two of your favorite.  While you will be able to sample and purchase our regular beers, the exciting part to us is that only in the tap room will you be able to taste our one of a kind specialty beers!  That's Danny's true passion.  To make really good craft beer, and to introduce you to some really creative and delicious brews… only in Baileys Harbor!

Okay…. all of the above is something that in my entire life I never thought I'd be writing, saying or thinking!

I'll also be in the tap room a few days a week… someone has to display!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Viva's Holiday Market, and How to Make it a Day Trip or a Full Weekend!

We are thrilled that Saturday is getting closer, and the barn is in full twinkle!
If you are thinking about coming to the sale, but worry there's not enough to do this time of year, let me help you out!
In Sister Bay…
*FOG (Friends of Gibraltar) Craft Show Friday and Saturday
*Friday Evening visit with Santa and lighting of the tree and other special holiday themed events for the weekend (see posters and ads when you get here)
*Spot (a mini Anthropology) and Cupcake Heaven will be featuring big sales, local artists, face painting and Family Center of Door County Donation Drop offs here.
*Quite a few shops open with really great sales going on
*Don't miss Pipka's (in her charming cottage you will find 
all kinds of papers and trinkets for crafting, jewelry, books, art… very inspiring)
*Northern Door Day Care Center is hosting their annual Holiday Home Tour, you can tour the BIG HOUSE:) and other charming decked out homes all while contributing to a new roof for the center.
*JJ's will have live music Saturday night!  Have a marg and dance the night away!

Ellison Bay…
*A wonderful group of artisans will be hosting Holiday Open Houses Friday and Saturday where you find fabulous gifts for giving this season:
*Clay Bay Pottery
*Gills Rock Stoneware
*Turtle Ridge
*The Cider House
Ellison Bay Pottery

*Blue Dolphin House is hosting it's annual Holiday Sale with everything being 20% to 50% off! An inspiring, more contemporary store featuring all kinds of art, fragrances, outdoor art and home decor… well, and a whole lot more!

Egg Harbor…
*Egg Harbor's Holly Days are going on!  All day Friday and Saturday with lots of family friendly events.  Again, check the paper and ads when you get here.
*Family Center and Door County Children's Christmas Store…. kids ages 4 to 12 can buy gifts for family member with items priced from 1.00 to 10.00.  Items donated by local businesses… so sweet.
Don't miss…
*Patricia Shoppe
*Maxwell House
*Door County Nature Works
*Something Fishy
(a few of my own must sees)
For a wonderful lunch or breakfast…
*MacReady's…. lovely bakery with lovely owners featuring delicious baked goods, sandwiches, soups and more!

Fish Creek is open an bustling… don't miss breakfast at the White Gull, and Dinner at the Whistling Swan… just park and walk up and down the street for lovely shopping and strolling.

And Don't Forget…
Viva's Holiday Market!!!
I am totally stoked about this.
Saturday from 9 to 3, 2004 Cty ZZ two minutes from Sister Bay.

Now this is what I call really good local shopping! 
Come and join us!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Viva's Holiday Market, Sat. Nov 30th!

You know how you start out with one great idea... things happen, disappointment and a little fear set in?  Then you take a step back, start the conversation and an even better idea is born?
This is it.

A mix of our Winter Wonderland and a Vintage Market.
Step into a charming (and heated) Door County barn and you will be in for an experience.
Six of my favorite vendors will fill the barn with one of a kind handmade and vintage items for gift giving and holiday decorating.
You will be greeted with warm drinks and holiday treats to enjoy while you shop.
Twinkly lights, festive decor and holiday music will set the mood for a wonderful time.
It's a great time to be in Sister Bay.  Really.
In my next post, I will feature how to make this a day trip or a complete weekend... you know, I'm in the know, wink wink.

On a more personal note...
One day my husband and I were driving home from a quick trip to Green Bay.
I was quietly pondering the closing of my shop.  Late fall has always been my favorite time to be in the shop.  Fewer customers coming in, more "visits" from my friends dropping by and my creative juices welling up for the holiday show, excited about the trade shows and visions of a new season.  

It was a bitter sweet feeling and I was contemplating how times have changed and wondering just who and what I am these days.  My days are very different now.  There are some wonderful changes that have happened, mainly both my boys living close by and my time has been more open for social events and time spent with friends.  But there are many days where I am home trying to define myself.  Sometimes feeling a little lost.

  It was a beautiful day and I let my eyes just roll over the landscape, taking notes of the clouds and the lighting.  Something was stirring in me... eating at me.

I started this conversation with my husband,
"Remember when you could visit wonderful little towns and places, step into and out of wonderful little shops and eateries that presented delightful and inspirataional sites and smells... the kind that made you want to turn your own home and surroundings into the same feeling?  What ever happened to that?".
Don't get me wrong, there are still some wonderful places to get that experience... just not near as many, and it's not the same.

2008, that's what happened and I know it.  
But still... John mentioned to me that the experience has just shifted.  While most of us can't afford to drop a 2,000.00 on some new bedding, we can afford to eat.  So many wonderful places in Door County alone have popped up.  The food scene here is quite something, and I can walk into many delightful places that offer that experience.
Luckily Door County has two other precious commodities that keep people coming back... the arts, artists and the landscape.

That's when I realized my true desire, to create that feeling.  To my core I want to set up and present to you a feeling, an experience... to inspire you and make you feel good.
To send you on your way with new ideas and wonderful memories.
Can't do it in a shop anymore, but I can still do it.

Just when I thought I couldn't pull off an event or experience, my heart and my brain kicked in.  I could make it the best one yet.

I want you to feel like you've entered into the sweetest, most charming, feel good kind of event.  I want you to ooh and ah over all the delightful sites, items to purchase and new ideas to take home with you.

Don't forget to check back... I'll set you up for a great day trip or weekend here in the county.  
Where to eat, shop and experience the county.
There's some fun to be had.

While it's blustery and cold, I'm off to the barn... you're going to love it, and thanks for hanging in there with me.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wedding Photo Shoot... Details, the Real Wedding...Serendiptiy.

To just skip the story altogether, or get the background on the story
 you can go to
The Magnolia Rouge Wedding Blog to see our work published. Published!!!!
Keep in mind, what you will see is the styled shoot, not the real wedding, which is below.
It's awesome!
The shoot was also published on a German wedding blog (which for some reason I can't get to link)... so I'm thinking we're an international sort of group here!  Little ole Door County... with a splash of Milwaukee.

At this site you can see exactly what we were working on and the "fruits" of our labor, and after you've seen it, this story makes more sense

To continue, and onto the "real wedding"...

Time was running short.  We had to get to Fish Creek and set up the Robert Wahl homestead.
Privately owned, with all the original buildings (including the silo with the police lookout) we knew this would add that prohibition look we were after.
Because we had a real wedding, we were in a time crunch.  I was panicked about the "bar/no bar"  that I had waxed poetic about.  Luckily some of our younger friends showed up and pitched in.
Joe stopped by the house, curious... he had a pick up.
"Joe!  We're loading!"  And somehow he just went with it.  We threw prop after prop in his truck, and mine... and off we went.
 Kari, Katie and I were in overdrive.
Clock is ticking.
 When we got to Fish Creek, we were so incredibly lucky to see that Jake and Claire (Ms. Sign Maker) were there just to get a look at the shoot.
It was clear to them immediately... pitch in, unload and set up!!!
Mosquitos were loving us and you could see the bug spray floating in the air. 
Props were flying, flowers were being placed everywhere and the camera was clicking away.

Jesse and Rachael were cool as cucumbers.  Honestly, they were so gracious and patient.
Click, snap get it done.  Whoop!

 And then it happened.

Please, no.

  We had forgotten to take a couple of very important shots in the orchard, and we knew the real guests were gathering.

As we all stood there dumbfounded, someone, I don't remember who, said "Let's go!".
We scrambled back to the house Molly, Kari and Helene were awesome at quickly resetting what was needed... all just within ear shot of the real wedding guests.

Then. It. Was. Done.

When we all agreed on a real wedding after, I told Rachael... get it organized, and on the day of the shoot none of us will be involved in the setting up of the real part... we'll shoot, have fun and then just show up knowing the real wedding is ready to go.

Joe and I pulled our trucks around to the back of the barn to unload, maneuvering the cars parked all over.  
I'm telling you, what happened next was magic.  Magic.
Joe and I were lugging a big table to put in the barn... we slid the big door open and could not believe what we saw.
People, in costume... in COSTUME, I tell you, everywhere.
Pinned striped Zoot Suits, flappers... hair and makeup over the top.
Drinks flowing, candles and lights blazing, conversations buzzing and smiling happy people everywhere to celebrate Jesse and Rachael.

Rachael and Jesse suggested dressing in prohibition style, and the guests took it to heart. 
At that point, I stopped unloading and went into the house.

I found Kari and Rachael getting ready for round two.
Being so caught up in the styled shoot, I had to regroup for a real wedding.
Rachael was sitting at my kitchen island, sipping a bit of bourbon, in her real wedding dress.
Kari was whispering advice and calming words to Rachael as she finished her hair and touched up her make up.
The contrast of my own feelings of being sweaty, exhausted, covered in bug spray and wind burned, to seeing our bride sitting there was so moving.
She was getting married.

Out we went to wait for our cues... and like Mama bears watching our cubs, Helene, Katie, Kari and I watched a beautiful wedding take place.

I was taken with Molly.  How she had changed into her professional wardrobe, was clicking away like the professional that she is taking care that she gets the best pictures she can of the wedding.  As if this was her only and most important duty of the day.

And here they are...






You know, you're only getting teaser pictures of this wedding.... because it was so glorious, it's going to be published as well.

And the chickens, remember the chickens?
As the chaos of family pictures, cocktails, music and general festivities were taking place, Kari came running over to me with outstretched hands.
I'll be damned.
That chicken laid an egg.