19 Things You Need to Know Before You Talk to a Cheesehead

Ralph Bruno was re-upholstering his mother’s couch when he got the idea to create a cheese hat. People from Illinois would often refer to us northerners as cheeseheads, so Bruno cut out a cheese wedge out of the stuffing, burned some holes in it  and painted it cheddar yellow. He wore it to a Brewers game in 1987. People noticed, it caught on and the rest is history.

When you meet someone from Wisconsin, I want you to be prepared. If you read, ruminate and resolve to embrace this inside information, I guarantee that you’ll have no language barrier blocking your budding future friendship.

1. Brats.  Even among Wisconsinites, you’ll have  arguments over brats. What is the best brat, Johnsonville or Klements? What’s the true brat bun, a hard roll or a over-sized weiner bun? Do you boil before grilling or slap them right on the grill? There is a lot that goes into having the perfect brat experience.

I fall into the Johnsonville camp and will stake my reputation on the following statement: There is nothing like two Johnsonville brats on a hard roll. My parents must have thought the same thing because we would drive from Appleton to Johnsonville, 54.2 miles to stock up on Johnsonville meats: brats, weiners and summer sausage. That was in the late sixties, when you could only get Johnsonville brats in where else, Johnsonville.

Grilling brats
If I haven’t convinced you yet, then how about this. Since 2001, Johnsonville has been the featured brat of the World’s Largest Brat Fest, 209,000 sausages consumed in 2010.

 

2. Brandy is not a liqueur. This is not your sit around in your dinner jacket, sipping cognac, puffing on a cigar state. Brandy is often used in lieu of whiskey. Be forewarned. If you order a manhatten in a local tavern in Cheesehead country, you’ll get it with brandy unless you specifically ask for whiskey. Same can be said for an old fashioned. You can even get old fashioneds to go in a six-pack for your tailgate party, see #9.

Korbel ships 43.5% of its brandy production to Wisconsin.

Only California drinks more brandy than Wisconsin. In 2012, California-based Korbel shipped about 324,000 nine-liter cases of brandy. Of those, about 141,000 – 43.5% of Korbel’s production – went to Wisconsin.

3. Packer history. It goes without saying that you need to know some Packer history. It’s the only team that is owned by shareholders. In 1919, the Indian Packing Company organized a company football team with Curly Lambeau as the coach.  According to the official Packer website,  360,760 people (representing 5,011,558 shares) are owners of the iconic franchise.

Known as Title Town, Green Bay is the smallest city to have an NFL team. It may be small, but there is plenty of help when it comes to removing snow in Lambeau for a big game. Fans will take off work to be a part of the “grounds crew” at Lambeau.

4. Women’s formal wear is a new Packer sweatshirt. Okay. This is a joke my husband likes to tell because he’s from that state south of the border.

5. Deer hunting is a nine day holiday season. Over 600,000 hunters bought licenses in 2014 according to the DNR. I’ve known people to finish their early Thanksgiving dinner and then get in a few extra hours of deer hunting.

6. Sturgeon spearing is a winter sport. For two weeks in February fishermen sit in their ice shanties and stare into a 5×2 foot hole in the ice (carved with a chain saw) waiting to spear a big fish. Hard to believe, I know, but true. Smoked sturgeon is very tasty and especially nice because it’s boneless.

7. Roads on the lakes. See #6. How do you expect to get to your shanty? Duh.

8. Master cheesemaker program. Wisconsin is the only state to offer the program, taking three years to complete. If you haven’t figured it out yet, we take our cheese seriously.

9. Tailgating is a year-round sport. We’ll use any excuse to tailgate. Packer games are the ultimate place to tailgate and fans will never be dissuaded because of subzero temperatures. Brewer games, Badger games, and even Grateful Dead concerts at Alpine Valley in the 80’s, or so I’ve heard, are just a few from the long list of excuses.

We take our card games seriously.

10. Euchre/Sheepshead. Coming to Wisconsin and don’t play cards? You better pick up your Hoyle and read it on your bus trip to Wisconsin. Euchre is the most popular because it’s played all over Wisconsin with many areas hosting tournaments. Sheepshead is a little more regional and well known in the German community, 2-8 players so it’s more versatile than the four-handed Euchre.

11. Beer is ordered by tap not a draft. The proper way to order a tap beer is to say, “I’ll have a tap beer.” A draft is what you get on those windy, winter days when you have old windows with even older storm windows.

12. Home of Harley Davidson. If you’re a biker, you probably know this already. You can check out the museum if you’re traveling through Milwaukee.

13. Friday night fish. Look for a tavern, supper club or VFW for your local fish fry. Mostly concentrated along the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago where a heavy German population settled, the Friday night tradition is a great way to get together at the end of week for some gemutlichkeit.

14. Winnebago lakeflies. Nasty, nasty and more nasty. Think plague of locusts in biblical proportion. Keep your mouth shut and eyes partly open while power washing your windshield to clean the bugs. Don’t plan your Mother’s Day visiting anyone living around Lake Winnebago because there’s a good change you’ll run into a hatching.

15. Mosquito is the state bird. You’ll hear this often during a bad mosquito season. I’m sure this isn’t just Wisconsin, but we like to think we’re special when the mosquitoes are particularly annoying.

16. Wisconsin: Illinois’campgrounds. Any Wisconsin camper will declare that this should be our state motto. We have beautiful and well-maintained campgrounds that our southern neighbors flock to every summer.

17. Home of the cheese curds. These tidbits are rarely found outside of Wisconsin. Stop at any cheese shop and you’ll find a fresh batch of cheese curds. Before the cheese coagulates, curds are collected from batches of cheddar cheese. They are less than a day old and squeaky when eaten. Deep-fried cheese curds is a staple bar food.

cheese curds

18. Limburger cheese. The only place making limburger cheese in the US is in Monroe, Wisconsin. Follow the smell if you’re interested.

19. 30 degrees is still considered shorts’ weather. I’m not one to partake in this adventurous wardrobe display, but it’s not uncommon to see the frostbite fearless baring their legs.

And there you have it. The list to end all lists, your guide to talking to a cheesehead. I could go on and tell you about all the famous people who were born here, boring!, or equip you with a big list of other websites with interesting facts about Wisconsin, yawn!, but this would be unnecessary.

I’ve given you the meat of what you need to know, so be ready. The next time you find yourself invited to a Friday night fish fry at the VFW, drinking a tap or brandy old fashioned, discussing the upcoming Packer game, you’ll be ready to declare that your favorite bratwurst is Johnsonville.

How to Organize Your Life in 4 Easy Steps

If you haven’t heard of Evernote, you’ve probably been living in a closet. It’s time to come out, admit that you don’t know what Evernote is and then prepare to be amazed. In four easy steps you’ll be a certified user and what I don’t explain, I’ll give you links to some great information. No need to waste your time looking for information; I’ve done the work for you.

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Evernote is an app that stores information. It can store website articles, pictures, audio recordings, anything you think is worth saving. It will simplify your life and the learning curve is small, so it’s worth learning how to use. Best of all, it’s free!

I will only be discussing the free version because this is all I use. If you go looking on the internet for advice and resources on Evernote, be aware that many sites fail to tell you which version they are talking about. You could find a feature that you’d like to try and then realize that it’s only in the paid version.

Choose which  version is right for you.

I think that the average person would find the free version to be more than enough. You are allowed 60 mb monthly upload with a 25 mb note size. The storage is unlimited. I’ve been using Evernote for over a year and have never come close to reaching my limit, and that included storing my research for my ebook. The two paid  plans, $24.99 and $49.99 per year offer more features and higher data upload.

How Evernote Helped Build My Strawberry Garden

To get you started using Evernote, I would learn how to:

1. Clip a website article,
2. Take a picture, and
3. Create an audio.

If you’re a visual person, the following illustration will show you one way to use Evernote. I used the first two features in my latest DIY project.I wanted to grow strawberries vertically because we didn’t have any room in our garden for a strawberry patch, and we have southern exposure on the back of the garage.

The first thing I did in Evernote was to create a notebook and call it DIY. I plan on having many DIY projects in the future, so I created another notebook, Vertical Strawberry and “stacked” it under DIY.

DIY

 

Then it was time to hit the world wide web for ideas with pictures. I found the perfect solution (note #1), a picture of what I wanted and clipped it. I decided that we would make it easier by substituting plastic boxes instead of building wood ones. I then put together a shopping list (note #2) by typing a list as a note. Next I decided on the type of strawberries I wanted (note #3) and took a picture from the catalog of where to buy the berries.

 

DIY_2
While looking for  vertical gardening examples, I came across another picture (note #4). This picture was a part of an article, so I clipped the whole article (note #5) because there were some other ideas that I might use in the future. When completed I took a picture of what our finished project looked like (note #6).

I hope you see how incredible this tool is, and did I mention it was free? You can clip recipes, user manuals, DIY instructions, articles, you name it. Record measurements for that DIY project so it’s with you when you go to the store, prescriptions for when you go to the doctor, pictures of receipts you’ll need at tax time, and serial numbers for your appliances when you need to order a part.
The possibilities are mind boggling.

What about sensitive information?

I do want to caution you about entering sensitive information, such as bank statements or account numbers. I would encourage you to read Michael Hyatt’s article about security to judge for yourself.

If there is something that you want to keep in Evernote and you’re concerned about security, you could save it on one device and not have it sync with other devices. That information will remain only on that device and would be in a local folder.

How can I possibly get organized in four easy steps?

Now that you’re ready to simplify your life, here are the four steps I promised you.

1. Download Evernote on your computer. I would start with the free version to gauge how much you’re going to need. So far, I’ve been satisfied with the free version. The free version allows you to sync Evernote across all your devices. I have my computer, my Kindle and phone synced together. Using Evernote on each device takes a little patience because you use them differently, so I recommend downloading on the computer first. It’s much easier to see a full screen and use a mouse to create notebooks and change settings.

2. After downloading Evernote, you’ll want to get the web clipper extension. This is the confusing part. Think of Evernote as your filing cabinet and the clipper as your file folder. If you want to clip something from the internet, you’ll need this extension.

My favorite use for Evernote is clipping articles from the web. I used it extensively when I was researching and writing my ebook. Because I read so many books looking for the best resources, I clipped pictures of book covers so I could keep them all straight.

Write_Blog_note
I clip from Chrome because when I started using Evernote they didn’t have a clipper for Explorer. Today, I have so many problems with Explorer I rarely use it, so I’m happy with Chrome. But, if you like Explorer, you’re in luck; you can click the “Get Evernote for Windows” button, download the app for Windows and then get the clipper for Windows.

Search on Google for “Evernote web clipper” to find the way you want to accomplish this, Chrome or Explorer. If you’re using Chrome, I would recommend using the Chrome webstore.

web_clipper

Once in the store follow these steps:
1. Type in Evernote web clipper.
2. Click the extension box.
3. Click Add to Chrome. Your button should show Add to Chrome as in the second example. Mine doesn’t because it’s already added and now wants me to rate it, so make sure you chose the Evernote extension when you download yours.

It’s time to start clipping

Check out this video for a quick overview.

3. Download Evernote on your phone. To create a note on an Android phone click the green plus sign. Choose camera and take a picture. Click the green check mark, and you have a saved a photo.
4. Creating an audio file is a little trickier. Click the green plus and chose text note. In the top right corner you should see a microphone. Click the microphone to start recording. Click the green box next to the time to stop recording and then click the green check mark to save.

Microphone

 

That’s it. You can now clip something from the web, take a picture, and create an audio file. You are officially an Evernote user. Welcome to the club!

Notebooks: Not just for school any more

Once you get the hang of saving items, you’ll probably want to start organizing them into notebooks. I’m constantly reading other blogs, especially if they are about writing. I break them into separate notebooks: freelance, blogging, content marketing.

Keeping separate notebooks works for me at this point, but Michael Hyatt writes about organizing by tags because you get 100,000 tags and only 250 notebooks. I can’t imagine needing more than 250 notebooks, but if you think that you’ll go over, consider checking out Hyatt’s article about organizing by tags.

References you can’t live without

Once you get the hang of Evernote, you might want more information on how to use it more extensively.

  1. Michael Hyatt is a big fan and has been writing about Evernote for years. He kindly wrote an indexing blog so you can find all 12 Evernote blog posts. If you highlight in Kindle be sure you read his post on how to transfer those into Evernote.
  2. The Evernote website has many tutorials on using the application.
  3. I did come across this resource in my research. Mark O’Neil posted an extensive blog titled the Unofficial Missing Manual and offers it in a PDF format. I admire the time it took to put this all together and then offer the information for free, but I have a few exceptions to my recommendation. The article is over a year old so all the information may not be up to date, e.g., the reference to Skitch, an annotating app that is no longer available.  Also, he uses an iPhone, so that is his focus. If you have an Android, you’ll probably want to stick to the Evernote tutorials.

Have I convinced you yet that you can’t live without Evernote? Well, I suppose you could but your life would be a complicated mess. If you want to barely get by, end up on the corner singing the Blues for handouts, then continue as you are. I won’t get in your way.

Now, organizing can be fun. With these four easy steps, you can start to get your life in order. If you’re not convinced that you can’t live without Evernote, then let me know why. Or maybe you’re using something even more awesome. Let me know that too.

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