After studying genetics at UW–Madison’s College of Agriculture, Gwen Condon opened a garden and landscaping center in the hopes of making local exteriors more beautiful and fashionable. Gwen began traveling to shows in Germany, England, and Italy in search of gifts and garden accessories. Her shop quickly grew into an inspirational garden, where customers wander paths lined with seasonal plants, from spring flowers to fall mums to winter killer tomatoes. The knowledgeable staff makes sure to clearly label each plant with lighting and water requirements.
Additionally, customers can show photography of their yards to Garden Gate Nursery staff to get tips on plants, shrubs, or trees that would thrive there. The garden tamers’ most popular service is what they call the “Please Come Stand in My Yard” consultation, a house call in which they scope yards and inspect any problem areas before sharing their ideas and recommendations.
Five trails descend down the slopes at Highlands of Olympia, ranging from the beginner-friendly bunny hill to the East Bowl, a black diamond that challenges advanced skiers to face the biting winds as they carve through the incline. The mountain also features a terrain park where snowboarders grind over rails and boxes, and tow ropes pull inner tubes up the hill before they are released for a speedy 1,000-foot-long descent that covers a 60-foot vertical drop. A half-hour’s drive from downtown Milwaukee, Highlands packs a day’s worth of entertainment into the neatly packed snow, from the onsite bar and restaurant to lessons in which instructors impart the secrets of picking up ham-radio signals with outstretched ski poles.
Chic youngsters fulfill trend-setting cravings at Tadpole’s storefront, which blossoms with a colorful array of name-brand attire. The house of habiliments stocks such fashionable garb for gals as the Charlie Rocket owl thermal tee ($35) and the Florence Eiseman multi-patterned sweater dress ($94). Parents can outfit lads for fall with the Charlie Rocket endzone thermal ($36) and swaddle pocket-sized progeny in a dress and tights by Hartstrings ($50). The Tadpoles staff also corrals a selection of accessories for moms as well as lovable, self-unaware stuffed animals ($13.95–$32.95) for kids.
The act of picking up a paint brush, dabbling it in a little paint, and guiding it across a blank canvas has long been an adventure in self-expression—and a soothing one at that. At Arte Wine and Painting Studio, they add a little wine into the mix, and lead artists of all experience levels through easy to follow steps to complete a work of their own. During each class, experienced artists provide tips and tricks for bringing paintings of a variety of subject matters to life, from start to finish. The airy studio hosts two- and three-hour painting classes, where wine and beer is available for purchase, while all supplies, canvases, smocks, and high fives are at the disposal of each visitor.
A colonial-style brick mansion with two stories of picturesque wraparound porches and balconies greets visitors as they approach Tony & Mia's. Once inside, they’re met by the smell of pizzas, pastas, risottos, and steaks along with the approachable familiarity of homestyle Italian meals. Framed prints of famous Renaissance paintings fill the walls. And the warm glow of antique chandeliers evokes memories of sharing a Thanksgiving meal at the grandparents' farmhouse, or perhaps of stealing the neighbor's chandelier.
Head Chef Camille DiNicola wills into existence stone-baked, mozzarella-topped pizzas, slow-braised beef ravioli, and marinated Cornish hens. Her husband⎯manager Randy Piering⎯ensures the comfort and satisfaction of each guest. Diners relax with glasses of fine Italian wine and small plates as they listen to professional crooners sing Sinatra standards, or gather on the lawn to watch the expert spheroid-flinging of the neighborhood bocce league.
At more than 1,000 Mattress Firm locations around the country, shoppers sink into plush mattresses, recline on firm beds, and belly-flop onto pillow tops. Knowledgeable staffers can help customers create an ideal bedtime environment by dispensing advice based on sleep preferences and illuminating the difference between the many kinds of mattresses. And to the delight of their customers, much of Mattress Firm's bedding wears the label of a premium brand, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, or Stearns & Foster.