Yesterday we decided to take a break from packing and drive up to Wisconsin, primarily to go to Penzey’s and get new spices (we’d been getting their catalog for years and now we’re finally close enough to actually go to a store). I’d never been in Wisconsin before, so that necessitated a cheese and brat stop. We were actually planning to go to The Brat Stop, but wound up driving past that exit. Rather than turn around we went to Mars’ Cheese Castle (2800 120th Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53144, (800) 655-6147) since it was just off the highway a little farther down.

I don’t mean this in a bad way, but it’s a pretty cheesey kind of place. Little bit of a tourist trap. That said, they actually had a pretty good brat and darn good cheese spread. There was also a bakery with kringle (a specialty of the area, so I understand). We ate at the bar and the bartender was very friendly, as was one of her regular customers who was there for lunch. We chatted over a game show.

After that brief stop, we were off. We stopped at some Prime Outlets place to check out a Restoration Hardware (didn’t realize it was an outlet until after we got there, which wasn’t what we were looking for since we wanted a new doorbell). Then on to Penzey’s. They are based in Wisconsin, so there are actually a number of stores there. We went to the one in Greenfield.

Nice stores, which I pretty much expected from their catalog. Every spice has an open jar so you can sniff before you buy. And each one has a description so you can see what it is, where it is from, and what you can use it for. We did a whole replenish thing and bought a bag full of different stuff in various sizes, including the sandwich sprinkle that I’d bought Lisa once as part of a gift set (she tells me she loves the stuff so I figured I’d better try it). We might try the Oak Park, IL store next time. I imagine it is closer. We just felt like doing the Wisconsin thing.

Got to use some of the spices last night for our first meal in the house (Tony made cornish hen stuffed with sausage and bread with a side of roasted potatoes and salad). Looking forward to trying out the vanilla and the cinnamon…I’ll have to do some baking soon.

We also stopped by a mall to hit a regular Restoration Hardware (picked up a bath mat and a doorbell…though the wrong size doorbell). Since it was cold and I’d made the mistake of wearing a short sleeved shirt (hey, the day before was beautiful!), I also made a stop at Coldwater Creek. Again, I just have to say: what friendly people! Everywhere we’ve gone we’ve met just really nice, helpful people. It’s almost unreal. I’d never heard that the Mid-West was particularly known for being friendly, but everyone around here has been really nice. The lady at the Coldwater Creek even gave me the $25 discount even though I hadn’t brought the discount card in (there’s one every month in Better Homes & Gardens).

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