Tuesday, June 26, 2012

visiting Madison, Wisconsin...

sorry for the lack of my presence around these parts, but i'm just now feeling like i've settled back into life as usual back at home---it only took me 6 days to do so. heh. (and suddenly i feel like i sound much older than my 34 years) 
my adventures started a week ago Sunday (Father's Day) when i made the trek from Columbus, Ohio to Madison, Wisconsin for some training for my new position as Lead Fiskateer for the online Fiskateer community.
little did i know that not only was i there for training but a whole lot of blessings too!  Fiskars really knows how to treat their people right and there wasn't a second of the trip that i didn't feel completely taken care of and spoiled rotten. i kept asking myself....'work? i'm here to work?'  it hardly felt like work!
i first arrived to the airport where they had the most amazing driver awaiting my arrival standing there holding his cute little sign that read 'Tania Willis'.  and dagnabit, i didn't have my camera phone ready, even though my husband reminded me to have it ready to go just to capture a picture of the driver waiting for my arrival.  cute, eh?
anywho. during our short ride he proceeded to tell me his life history based on all the different Madison landmarks that we passed.....i'm certain we took the scenic route.  such a pleasant way to start off my first evening in Madison. he left me with his business card so i could call on him should i need any suggestions on where to go or what to do.  little did he know Fiskars had that all taken care of for me. :)

but it only got better from there as i arrived to my hotel room at the Hilton Madison Monona Terrace and drew back the sheers to see this breathtaking view of Monona Lake.  isn't it lovely?
it wasn't long before we took a short walk together to The Old Fashioned on the Madison Square for a welcome dinner where i tasted and discovered my love for fried cheese curds.  melt in your mouth delicious!  ever had them?
i will admit to being just a bit scared at what would turn up at the table when they were ordered.  afterall, cheese curds don't sound the least bit appetizing. curds? all i could think of was fried cottage cheese. LOL.
anywho. here in Ohio the closest thing we have are mozarella sticks, but they don't even come close to describing the deliciousness that are fried cheese curds. and after having them a few different places throughout my stay i've decided that The Old Fashioned has the best fried cheese curds, hands down!
after dinner we walked out to the viewing deck on Monona Lake and chit-chatted for quite some time about the year to come and how we envision the community moving forward.  i turned around to hear a little boy giggling with his family only to fall in love with the view of the Capitol building amongst the Madison skyline.
what can i say.....4 hours in and this city totally captured my heart.
and from here on, my camera only came back out just a few other times. how i wish i would have thought to bring it out more.

one of those times was the very next morning at 5:30am when i was greeted by the sunrise because I chose to fall asleep by the moonlight instead of pulling the drapes closed on the windows.  so i sleepily got out of bed, admired it for a short time, snapped a picture with both my camera and my phone and promptly crawled back into bed for another hour of shut-eye.  i ain't no dummy! heee.
monday we hit the ground running.  meetings, company history, expectations, lunch at Francesca's, walking the long way around the Square, a cancelled photography lesson, bonus rest time, headshots with the fabulous Jane Hasty, the third sweat shower of the day (it was ungodly HOT in Madison and we walked nearly everywhere!), dinner with Fiskars employees and a dozen Fiskateers, then crafting and chatting until nearly midnight.  jam-packed day!

we ate at Graze where Executive Chef Tory Miller has won all kinds of national recognition awards for his dishes. and do you see that up there...yummmmmmmo. it was grilled steak, over roasted baby potatoes, spicy glazed baby carrots, turnips, onions, mushrooms, with red wine sauce and topped with a compound butter. seriously, delicious. i even got to try my first ever fried pickles. never thought i'd say i didn't like anything that involved pickles, but i'm not quite convinced that i'm a fan of fried pickles. haven't ruled them out altogether just yet. anyone know of a good place to order fried pickles?

from here, my photos are quite lame.

tuesday would have been photos of a screen with lots of powerpoint presentations, or lots of friendly faces of Fiskars employees as we took the grand tour of the facility, and my lunch at TexTubbs (fajitas, yum!), then more friendly faces as they greeted us when they came to fill bags of candy from the orange and green candy bar.

but again. i apparently only had half a brain and didn't take photos of any of that.

oh, but i didn't forget to photograph the mouth watering hot pretzels with cheese dip we ate at Great Dane Pub. seriously delicious. thank you to whomever suggested i not leave Wisconsin without eating a hot pretzel. best suggestion EVER!

wednesday was more meetings at the office with the most delicious chicken alfredo pizza lunch from i don't even know where, and before i knew it we were out the door heading back home.

and let me tell you, it was a blessed miracle that i made it home that day.

only moments after being dropped off at the airport, i made my way to the ticketing booth only to find out that my plane to Cleveland was 4 hours behind schedule due to mechanical problems.

no sweat, said the United agent, i'll get you home. clickity, click, click, his fingers were typing at lightening speed and moments later he handed me a new ticket being routed through Chicago with a switch over to American Airlines for the second leg home getting me in 12 whole minutes before my original flight. there was only one catch. i had to walk down to American to get my boarding pass printed. 

while down at American the gal noticed that my seat is 'unconfirmed'.  which meant, as she explained, that i had been booked on the flight but there actually wasn't a seat available.  so back down to United's counter i was sent.

back down there Mr. United had nothing for me except a flight to LaGuardia then a flight from LaGuardia back to Columbus.....an 8 hour total flight time adventure with a 3 hour layover. um, no thanks!

at this point, he booked me on a flight out the next morning and tried to tell me they wouldn't make accomodations for my overnight stay. i calmly asked for that to be verified.

in the meantime i'm calling my husband and calling Fiskars travel agent to work their magic (something we had just learned about in meetings 2 hours before, LOL).

then they offer a flight out at 5:30am getting me in by 9:45am so we wouldn't have to work so many different acrobatics to get everyone where they needed to be since i was supposed to be home.

can you feel the frustration?

what was even more annoying was that my cell phone kept dropping calls like crazy.

long story short at 3:58 i get a voicemail from Fiskar's travel specialists telling me they've booked me on a flight through Chicago on United and it was leaving at 4:23pm.  no terminal/gate information at all.

and..........i still hadn't been through security.

i seriously was waiting for someone from Fiskars to jump out from behind a curtain laughing their behind off saying "YOU'VE BEEN PUNKED!"  as some sort of hazing ritual for the new Leads they bring on.

but, nope. this was for real.
only me, my friends, this kind of stuff only happens to me. (at least that's how it feels anyway.)

these are the types of things that make awesome stories to tell the grandkids i suppose.

long story short, i made it through security. went to the bathroom. got the largest water i could find. and still made it on my plane in time.

but you wanna know the real kicker?
once i got to chicago, i exited the plane and had to have customer service tell me the details on the next leg of my flight.

can you guess what flight i was on?

the American flight in which my seat was unconfirmed because it was full.

no joke.

and you wanna know what?
there were about 15 empty seats on that flight.
and it turned out to be the best flight out of the 4 take-offs and landings that i experienced that trip.

until the end when a passenger went all crazy on me for asking the flight attendent a question.  funny stuff right there.

in summary: i ate well, slept in the most comfortable bed ever, met some die-hard Fiskateers, felt like i was at a family reunion meeting all the Fiskars employees, and returned home higher than a kite on creative inspiration and can't wait to see where the next year leads!


  1. Tania, you are such a sweetheart and I wish I could be as humble as you!!! Thanks for always inspiring me! xoxo - Shel

  2. Tania, sounds like a wonderful trip! Thanks for sharing the fun with us. I am a WI native and there is no cheese curds like WI cheese curds! So happy you got to try some. Looking forward to your Fiskars accomplishments.

  3. Sounds like a great trip!!
    Re: fried pickles, if you ever make it to Holland, Michigan, there's a little place called Pronto Pup near Holland State Park, where not only do they have fantastic breaded-hot-dogs-on-a-stick (they're not corn dogs, and they're DELICIOUS, and I don't like corn dogs!!), but they have the most incredible deep fried dill pickle spears in the entire world. Oh yum. My mouth waters just thinking about them.

  4. Well, I see from your post that you took about 10 photos on the trip, which is 10 more than I did!! I'm so happy we got to share the experience - this and so many more to come! I'm so sorry about your return journey nightmare. I'm wondering if I made it home before you did???

  5. Sounds like a whirlwind... And you seemed so calm and collected during the Fiskateer party (notice I didn't say cool?). It was very hot and it looks like we are in for the heat again this week-- probably headed your way! I posted a photo in the Fiskateer gallery of you and Emma, so now you can have 11 photos... Kellystar #6446

  6. What a wonderful recap Tania! We've always known Fiskars treats us well, and I am so glad to hear that they took good care of getting you home. Don't worry about the lack of pictures. You can twist this around to be a benefit to all Fiskateers by giving us a challenge for a picture-less layout, using our creative journaling skills. I'm from Oregon, the originator of the cheese curds, so I know what heaven is, but I too, am on the fence about fried pickles. If you have a Texas Road House in your city, they offer them. I haven't even tried them yet and I'll wait for your review. LOL!


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