New Wine Bar in Webster, WI

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There’s something new blossoming in Webster on Cedar Street. It’s named after the state flower of Wisconsin and is called Violet on Cedar. “Violet” is a wine bar that serves small plates, soups and dessert. It’s the creation of mother and daughter duo, Virginia Harstad and Ginna Lauré. They both spent their formative years in Burnett County, but their outside education and experiences have led them to this exciting new collaboration.

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The idea to create a place that offered wine and food germinated in 2012 when they sat down to write a business plan. Over time, they’ve allowed the idea to unfold as the right elements came along to make it happen. Among those elements was finding the right space and location, finding the right chef and food plan, and then preparing themselves with the knowledge they needed to do it right. Ginna even traveled to Napa, CA to earn a Level 3 certification with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust so that she felt confident in her knowledge of wines and wine service.

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Once they purchased the real estate that would become their vision, they acquired the zoning change and permits required to transform the 3 bedroom, 2 bath home into a 38 seat space, complete with bar area, a professional kitchen and a dedicated baking room. The interior is open, fresh, light and bright. It’s a comfortable place to linger with old friends and to meet new ones as well!

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The next step was to begin testing and tasting food concepts. They worked diligently with their chef Hans Eckstrand to create food ideas and recipes. To hear them talk about their food and what they plan to present to patrons can be summed up in one word: flavor! The menu will be everchanging along with some staples. And rest assured, if you require a gluten-free environment, this is a safe place for you! They also joined forces with Lisa Benson at Webster’s Fresh Start Coffee Roasters to create a house blend of coffee called – you guessed it, Violet.

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They’re taking things one step at a time, so that Violet can grow and develop in a way that maintains their vision. But the future holds ideas for private parties, wine tasting events, developing the outdoor green space for summer use and expanded hours.

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They’re open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 4:00-8:00pm and have menu and wine updates on their website and Facebook page. Stop by this weekend for their Open House on Saturday, January 12th from 4:00-8:00pm. When you arrive at 7438 Cedar Street, it will feel like you’re arriving at the home of a friend. When you leave, you’ll know that to be true! ~ Wanda Boldon

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Inside the New Webster Health Center

1For over a year, we’ve all been watching the changing landscape at the site of the old school in Webster. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in such short time! The exterior is visually impressive, but what exists inside might surprise you.

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I was fortunate to get a private tour from Dr. John Ingalls, a familiar face to many in the community and the name behind the original dream that started the process of what we have today – the Webster Health Center.

Inside, the Clinic has a bright and welcoming reception area, 19 exam rooms, 2 procedure rooms and a full dental clinic – all built to grow with the future needs of the community.

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The Clinic has an army of medical professionals and specialists to serve the needs of young and old alike and there is a first class physical therapy room (P.T. stands for pain and torture, right?) with machines and equipment like we’ve never seen here before!

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6If you’re interested in reserving “classroom” or presentation space, there are community education rooms available for your group or event.

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Perhaps the most surprising thing that I discovered was the Webster Wellness Center – a dedicated space for the ongoing fitness classes that are offered. You can take dance fitness, yoga (including senior yoga), kickboxing, circuit training and steady-as-you-go, to name a few. Classes are offered Monday through Saturday and the pricing ranges from $7 for a one time walk-in to $125 for an unlimited 3 month session. “Hello, New Year’s Resolution!” My suggestion is to round up a friend or two and meet up for a class a couple of times a week.

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What a wonderful transformation to have watched the old school come down and now have a welcoming door to open. The Webster Health Center – now doesn’t that feel better? ~ Wanda Boldon

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Septic Vent Pipe. There’s a Wrap for That.

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For years, people have been trying to hide, camouflage and dress up the signs of utilitarian necessities around their homes. There’s the famous wishing well placed over the well head. The fancy ones are sometimes adorned and laced with silk flowers. You’ve certainly seen the barrel sized flower pot placed over the septic cover, or at the very least, a painted re-“tired” ring that corrals a bevy of petunias. My favorite is the virgin Mary propped inside a bath tub. Though I’m not sure if she’s hiding anything, but perhaps just protecting. It’s a telling sign that folks just want to drive into their properties and feel pleasant about being home.

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Up to now, there hasn’t seemed to have been a proper cover for a septic pipe vent. You’ve seen it. It’s the bright, white pvc pipe emanating from your peaceful and serene wooded environment. It’s not exactly how Mother Nature intended things to be. Well now there’s a genius, easy to install, economical way to hide that nagging septic field from your moments of Zen.

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Kevin Hughes, inventor of the Septic Vent Pipe Cover says the idea came to his attention at his property near Johnson Lake. He felt moved to make it after seeing a white tail deer out the window, beside an unsightly vent pipe.

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The covers come in an array of Northwoods friendly patterns like red fish, camo and crappie (of course) and a variety of lengths, depending on the size of your system. The website where you can purchase covers was just launched – www.sspcover.com. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer, so you’ll want to load up for the holidays. Just think of the lively conversation that will ensue! ~ Wanda Boldon

Trish Needham Has Earned the Certified Residential Specialist Designation!

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We’re so proud to announce that Trish Needham has joined the ranks of an elite group; the Council of Residential Specialists (CRS). She was awarded the prestigious designation after accomplishing their rigorous requirements of advance professional training and achievement in residential real estate.

This is a significant personal achievement and a milestone in a professional real estate career. Only 3% of all REALTORS are Certified Residential Specialists and we’re proud to have 2 working and thriving at CENTURY 21 Sand County Services! It shows a sincere and dedicated commitment to maintaining the knowledge and expertise required in our profession.

Trish has been a part of our firm for 15 years, starting by working behind the scenes. Her strong work ethic was made evident when she decided to get her license during a maternity leave, taking her exam the week before her due date! That was 12 years ago.

When asked why it was important to take on the arduous task of achieving the CRS designation, she said that education is important to her and that she wanted to spend her money and efforts on education that was 100% real estate driven. She plans to keep learning and achieving because she knows this business is constantly changing and she likes to stay on top of things.

Congratulations to Trish, an inspiration in many ways! ~ Wanda Boldon

Metal Arts are Alive in Frederic, WI

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Take a short drive. Travel south of Siren on Hwy 35 to Frederic. As you pass through town, a distinctive looking red building with cadet blue awnings will catch your eye. Do stop and go inside. This special place was recently given life by its new owners and occupants. Once a gas station, an oil company, a Greyhound bus stop, an optometrist office and a Coast-to-Coast hardware store (not all at the same time), this building was slated to be torn down.

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Serendipity smiled and along came Jon (Jack) Route and his son, Mike. The father and son duo, metal artists through education and experience, but mostly in their hearts, were in need of working studio space. They’d both been traveling individually, doing art shows to share their work with a larger populous and were at a place in their careers where they wanted to go down a different “route”.

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Jon (Jack) Michael Route, a skilled artist in nonferrous metal work, makes collectibles, commissioned pieces and corporate art installations with materials like silver, copper and brass. He is also the owner of One10 Gallery. The gallery features new art and fine craft art from dozens of quality artists, with an ever-changing choice of pieces to collect or give as gifts. If you have an immediate itch to scratch, in the way of art, this is the place to go!

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Mike Route, an award-winning blacksmith artist occupies the other half of the building with Red Iron Studio – his studio, office and a working blacksmith shop, where custom architectural ironwork pieces are created and forged. Mike and his crew create everything from furniture, signage, sculpture and architectural pieces for indoors and out. His work shows a combination of emotional, intellectual and physical energy that makes it distinctly his. Make an appointment to meet with Mike if you want him to make something special for you!

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This short drive that you plan to take. Do it this weekend. The One10 Gallery is a part of the Earth Arts Tour with specially planned demonstrations that will amaze you – even beer tasting on Saturday from Pitchfork Brewing in Hudson. Their hours will be Friday 10am to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm. ~ Wanda Boldon

Cinco de Mayo Weekend – Up North

The list of fabulous things to do Up North on Cinco de Mayo weekend is growing! Gather your friends and family to plan your weekend and then plan a siesta after it’s all over!

Here are “cinco” events to choose from:

  1. 36th Annual Second Alarm Fish and Smelt Fry – Gather at the Jackson Town Hall at the corner of Hwys A & C on Friday, May 4th, starting at 5:00 pm for an incredible experience! Widely supported by the community for a good reason. Tickets can be purchased at the door – $10 for adults, $4 for kids 12 and under. Get your smelt on!
  2. Inaugural Fat Fish 40 Bike Race – Show your true grit in this 42 mile bike race that starts at the Central Burnett County Fairgrounds in Webster, WI. The race has a fat tire division and is also has a “non-fat” category. The race course takes you on the sugar sand fire lanes, logging roads and trails by the marshes, lakes and streams through the lost acres of Webster, WI. With a spaghetti dinner the night before, the race starts at 9:00 am on May 5th and ends with a beer and a brat, a podium ceremony and prizes. https://www.fatfishrace.com/the-race/
  3. Wisconsin Fishing Opener – The first Saturday of each May kicks off the fishing season for many species of hook and line caught fish. Make sure you get your license in advance and stock your cooler so you can be on the water by 5:00 am. You own an ice barge, right? https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/seasons/index.html
  4. 9th Annual Taste of Siren – Tickle your taste buds on Saturday, May 5th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the Northwoods Crossing Event Center. It’s an evening of food, festivities and fun! You can buy your tickets in advance or pay at the door. $20 per person or $35 per couple.  https://www.travelwisconsin.com/events/fairs-festivals/taste-of-siren-128205
  5. 17th Annual Spring Art Tour – Earth Arts of the Upper St. Croix organizers put together this distinctive tour of studios and galleries May 5-6th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. One could spend the entire weekend doing this alone! Download the brochure and map so you can prioritize your stops! http://www.earthartswi.org/spring-art-tour/

Sombrero and margaritas are not required, but not discouraged. Have a great Cinco de Mayo weekend! ~ Wanda Boldon

Busting Out of Icicle Jail

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Winter has had a long grip on our time and patience. It’s time to bust out! You don’t have to go far to feel the benefits of “escape” and enjoy an extraordinary outdoor experience in Northwestern Wisconsin.

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Just 45 minutes north of Danbury, lies Pattison State Park, containing the highest waterfall in Wisconsin at 165 feet! In any season, it’s a glorious site!

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The trails in the park are clearly marked and offer a variety of distances. It’s only a half mile hike through a majestic, mature forest on a nicely managed trail to get to the shores of the Black River.

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It’s a quiet place where you can let your hidden dreams of joining Tom and Huck bubble to the surface. It just might cause you to bust out…in a smile warm enough to melt ice! ~ Wanda Boldon

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Danbury’s Minerva Chain of Lakes

Minerva Chain of Lakes

Minerva Chain of Lakes

One of the best kept secrets just East of Danbury, WI is the Minerva Chain of Lakes. “The Chain” consists of 9 lakes created by the Loon Creek dam. Seven of the lakes, starting at Burlingame Lake and heading South, offer connected boating and recreation. Each lake has a distinct personality, fishery and unique boating conditions, giving the gift of fun and adventure around every bend and bay!

Minerva Flowage - just South of the dam

Minerva Flowage – just South of the dam

Longtime owners, Paul and Dawn have enjoyed many years of fun with their family at their cabin. “We thoroughly enjoy the variation the Minerva Chain of Lakes provides, from an assortment of boat accessible lakes and channels, to remote undeveloped waters. The Chain has clean and clear water with a mix of vintage cabins and charming homes – all while being minutes from shopping, dining and entertainment options.”

The channel between Minerva and Falk Lakes

The channel between Minerva and Falk Lakes

The Minerva Chain of Lakes is ideally located in the heart of lake country and near thousands of acres of County Land, making it a highly sought-after location for most types of recreation – fishing, boating, trail riding and hunting. There are several bars and eateries within 10 minutes of any given point and there is even a boat-up tiki bar at Houman’s Resort in the summer! Nancy and John are new owners on the lake. “Every boat ride offers a new adventure for us.  We’ve enjoyed exploring the different lakes and unique experience that each one offers.  We also enjoy access to ATV and snowmobile trails right out our door, as well as numerous restaurants and bars nearby.”

Boater's paradise in full Summer

Boater’s paradise in full Summer

The water level is controlled by a dam, which means there is little fluctuation in water depth along with easy, sloped elevation at the shore. That’s a rare combination! Some waterfront owners are even able to leave their dock in the water year around.

Natural views around every corner on The Chain of Lakes near Danbury, WI

Natural views around every corner on The Chain of Lakes near Danbury, WI

Easy elevation on Gull Lake

Easy elevation on Gull Lake

The water clarity is high due to natural vegetation in the channels acting as a filter. “When our grandkids come to the lake, they want to take the pontoon to the sandbar on Love Lake. It’s a fun social outing for them and we always run into people we know.” Steve and Peggy

Entering Love Lake on the Minerva Chain of Lakes

Entering Love Lake on the Minerva Chain of Lakes

Love Lake water clarity

Love Lake water clarity

Sunset cruise on Minerva Lake

Sunset cruise on Minerva Lake

“What has probably surprised us the most is how quiet and peaceful it is around the lakes. It has been great for personal relaxation and bringing family together. It is the highlight of our nephew’s summer to spend a week fishing and playing. That’s pretty telling as they are now in high school.” Andy and Marlene

Fishing for bass and panfish on the Minerva Chain of Lakes

Fishing for bass and panfish on the Minerva Chain of Lakes

Summer vacations at the lake

Summer vacations at the lake

Jon and Lori have years of great experiences under their belt and are still loving it. “At the top of the list is the boat cruising!  We love the ability to take nice long boat cruises  from lake to lake. If we have friends up to visit we can load up a cooler with some beverages, put together a tray of appetizers, dial up some good beach or island music and venture out for a few hours. We think it’s fun to cruise slowly along the shoreline and look at all the other cabins and wave at everyone we see out on a dock, in their yard, or by their fire-pit. It’s fun to kayak back in the shallow bays. The water is so clear, you can see down into the water and see the little fish, turtles and underwater vegetation. On sunny days the turtles climb up on the logs along the bank and sun themselves and everyone gets excited and counts them. ”

We enjoy helping people get to know the hidden treasures of our area. After years and years of work experience, the Minerva Chain of Lakes still stands among the best! ~ Wanda Boldon

Minerva Chain of Lakes courtesy of Sportsman's Connection

Minerva Chain of Lakes courtesy of Sportsman’s Connection

It’s (Gluten) Friendly Up North.

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You can hardly have a conversation about food these days, without encountering someone who’s affected by gluten in the food they eat. I have a friend who was diagnosed with MS and has been prescribed a gluten free diet as a result. I recently met a woman with a child who is ADHD and their pediatrician is having them try a gluten free diet for a year. When the topic arises, it’s interesting to find out how many people are truly in tune to the dietary restriction – either for themselves or for someone they know.

It caused me to seek out food resources in the area for those in need of a gluten free or gluten friendly diet. Because no one should avoid coming Up North to have fun because they’re worried about where and what they can eat!

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If eating out is on your wish list, be sure to try Mia Mangia in Grantsburg. It’s a thoughtful family owned Italian restaurant with pizza, pasta and sandwich choices that are big on flavor. Owner Gerry Ensign said they decided to adapt some of their menu items and offer a nice assortment of options because they have a daughter who eats a gluten free diet. As a result, he said they have a “regular” who comes in just for the gluten free spaghetti and they do quite a few pizzas as well! They have a comfortable dining area if you want to eat in or you can order in advance and pick up your food on the way to the cabin.

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Wouldn’t it be sad if you couldn’t eat at Tesora or the Wood Shed in Siren because of dietary restrictions? Thankfully, we have a “no sadness allowed” policy Up North and owner, Jake Mangelsen said they offer several options on their menu at Tesora and are now offering gluten free pizza crust in the Wood Shed. They’re careful to use separate utensils and clean cutting boards so their diners can eat with confidence. Jake said they’ve found that people really appreciate having the gluten free items noted on the menu, but that people who have the dietary restriction are very educated and know, for the most part, what they can and cannot eat.

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If you’re looking to grab some grocery items and want to cook for yourself, you’ll be surprised at the options available at Wayne’s Foods in Webster. I talked to Kim Flodin from the store, who said that the bread, buns and frozen items are selling well. If you’re driven by your sweet tooth and want to grab a yummy dessert, they even have gluten free cakes and cupcakes.

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And then there’s the “Mother Ship” in Spooner – North Crossing Foods, “where organic, bulk, gluten-free and regional favorites meet”. If you haven’t experienced this place, you need to schedule a field trip to believe it for yourself. If the owner, Dan Fern is there, you must request a tour of the store to fully appreciate what they have and what they put into every single item they offer. It’s beyond the scope of this Blog post! Suffice it to say, if you’re looking for ingredients for a gluten free diet, this is your new mainstay. From bulk flours, nuts, beans, rice, spices, to condiments and packaged items, it’s a treasure trove. They even have take and bake gluten free pizzas. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’ll make a serious effort to get it!

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Not everyone is a foodie, but everyone eats food. Now there’s no reason for all food eaters to come Up North. Smiles Everyone, Smiles! ~ Wanda Boldon

What YOU Need to Know About Zebra Mussels

image015In November of 2016, zebra mussels (9 adults, all less than a year old) were discovered on one of our finest and most popular lakes – Big McKenzie Lake. It’s a significant discovery, because it’s the first inland zebra mussel population verified in Northwestern Wisconsin. It can and will affect other waterways over the course of the coming years. Historic data of populations that were found elsewhere show that a downstream spread to other lakes and rivers is highly possible.

Zebra mussels are finger-nail sized bottom dwellers and are an invasive species from Europe and Asia that can affect our native species and negatively disrupt the current ecosystem and water quality of a lake. They resemble small clams with a yellowish or brownish D-shaped shell with alternating dark and light-colored stripes. Most are under an inch and they grow in clusters, attached to piers, rocks and other hard surfaces.

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At this time, there is no known effective control method for the spread of zebra mussels. Every lake is different, as to the maximum number of animals the lake’s nutrients will support and some lakes have a higher dissolved calcium level than others, which makes them a more susceptible environment to support a zebra mussel population.

A team of state and local staff, along with university experts have joined together to work on a response to the outbreak. The best that can be done at this time is two-fold: awareness and removal.

Awareness is being built through online platforms like Facebook and online newspapers with media releases. Digital road signs, brochures and signage at the landings are being used as well. Creating a higher public awareness is the first step. Creating a personal willingness for people to help prevent the spread is the next. Sadly, there is no law requiring boaters to decontaminate their boats when they leave a lake.

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Boat cleaning stations at the landings with power washing units have been successful when there are volunteers present to assist and remind boaters. But more volunteers are needed.

The Big McKenzie Lake Association is working diligently with the DNR to monitor, test and suppress this problem. Snorkel and dive teams will be used to manually remove zebra mussels and the awareness and education efforts will continue.

If we want to preserve the beauty and pleasures of our special lakes region, it will be incumbent on all boaters, no matter what lake they interact with, to inspect their boat and equipment, remove any attached aquatic plants or animals, drain all water from the boat and motor, dispose any unwanted bait in the trash and to buy bait locally. It’s the least we can do! – Wanda Boldon