Local Author, Sara Dahmen, Turns Her Historic Literature Into Real-Life Business Venture
A year ago today, local author, Sara Dahmen, released her first novel, Doctor Kinney's Housekeeper. A first place winner of the Chanticleer Book Review for Women's Historical Fiction, the story is set in the Dakota Territories in the late 1800's, and nearly everything important in the book takes place in the kitchen. The story, along with a love of cooking and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, inspired Dahmen's latest venture: a line of historically-inspired cookware called Housekeeper Crockery.
"I wanted to go one step beyond the food discussion," said Dahmen. "We're buying organic, local, sustainable food, but when we bring it home, what do we cook it in? Cookware made in China with a bazillion chemicals in it."
Housekeeper Crockery consists of a line of cast iron and copper pots and pans, ceramic bowls, wooden spoons, and cotton towels that are entirely made in America. In fact, the cast iron is poured in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, and the pottery comes from Rowe Pottery in Cambridge, Wisconsin.
Dahmen has been very hands on in the cast iron and copper process, learning traditional methods from tin and copper smiths, and talking shop with anyone she can.
"Cookware is a man's world, but the information sharing has been wonderful. Even competitors share, because they want a really good product; it's more than just making money. These products are meant to last a lifetime."
The venture has created work for small artisans across the country -- in some cases, workers are being re-taught skills in order to make the cookware. When searching for a place where the line of copper cookware could be made, Dahmen learned that copper pots have not been made en masse in the United States for 90 years.
In keeping with her commitment to local, Dahmen is also working with local businesses to sell her products. "I'd rather support mom and pop boutiques, and keep the jobs here. Integrity and transparency are important to me."
Housekeeper Crockery can be found at Blue Heron Artisan's Marketplace in Port Washington, as well as the Rustic Palate in Cedarburg, who will be having a product launch party for the line on May 21st from 11-4.
Interestingly, the book that inspired the cookware line has inspired another book: a request for a non-fiction book about cookware, which will be Dahmen's next project.
Not only is Dahmen a writer and a business owner, she is also a successful event planner and a mother to three children under the age of 6. This begs the question: How does she do it?
Dahmen smiled. "I'm lucky to have a very supportive husband."
Just a short drive north of Oz, in Sheboygan, lies a magical place to bring children: Bookworm Gardens; a place where your favorite childhood stories come to life, surrounded by beautiful gardens and ponds.
Opening May 1st, the Bookworm Gardens is a wonderful place to visit on any day, but they have a series of great events throughout their 2016 season that deserve special recognition.
Kick start their 6th season with the Daffodil Dash 5K Run & 1M Walk! Register for either a 5K trail run (non-chip timed) OR a non-competitive 1 mile walk around Bookworm Gardens and the UW Sheboygan Campus. The cost is $20 per person, or $50 for a family of four ($10 for each additional participant). Proceeds benefit Bookworm Gardens.
This year, Bookworm has added a Book Club just for grown ups, which will meet on May 10th from 6:30-8 p.m. The first book is How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Dr. Scott Sampson, the creator of the popular "Dinosaur Train" show on PBS. The Book Club will continue to meet every second Tuesday of the month; it's free, open to the public, and food and drinks will be offered during the discussion.
This summer, Bookworm Gardens has a variety of cool Summer Camps for children in preschool through 6th grade. Registration is open now. Questions? Contact Cate, Education Manager at email@example.com.
Volunteers, donations, and supplies are always welcome and needed at Bookworm, from Tour Guides, Readers and Gift Shop Attendants to yarn, birdseed and paper towel. Visit Bookworm Gardens at 1415 Campus Drive in Sheboygan. For more information, call: (920) 287-7895 or visit the website: bookwormgardens.org
By Mary Boyle
I love going to the theater. For hundreds of years, this form of storytelling; of players connecting with audiences, has endured. Hands down, my favorite theater company to watch is the First Stage Young Company, the advanced, college-level actor training program at First Stage Theater Academy for high school students. I especially like it when they perform theater that has stood the test of time, such as Shakespeare or, in this case, an ancient Greek tale: Antigone.
The story of Antigone comes from one of the greatest ancient playwrights, Sophocles, who wrote over one hundred plays during the Golden Age of Athens; the most famous being known as the Theban Plays, which begin with the story of Oedipus (made famous by Sigmund Freud).
Antigone is one of the four children of Oedipus, and the story takes place after his death. Antigone's Uncle, Creon, has become King of Thebes after Antigone's two brothers, Polynices and Eteocles, have started a civil war and killed each other in battle. To set an example, Creon has ordered that Polynices will not have a proper burial, but will be left to rot. Antigone defies Creon and buries her brother, knowing that it will surely cost her her life.
The modern version of Antigone was written in 1942 by French playwright, Jean Anouilh, during the Nazi occupation of France, and is his most produced work. Anouilh was inspired by a young man who, in solitary protest, fired into a group of French collaborationists (Frenchmen who chose to fight for the Germans instead of being sent to German labor camps). Anouilh thought the act caught the essence of a tragedy: heroic. lacking in sound reason, and pointless. His version of Antigone was a barely disguised political attack, which was immediately censored by the Nazis, and didn't make its debut until two years later.
The Young Company's production, adapted by Lewis Galantiere and Directed by Joshua Pohja, brings the character and morality of both Antigone (Josie Trettin) and Creon (Lawson Mitchell) into question, leaving the audience to wonder who the real hero of the story is, if there is one at all. This is a must-see for fans of Greek mythology and classic theater, who will enjoy this thought-provoking retelling of an ancient tragedy.
This performance is recommended for audience members ages 13 and up.
Antigone opens on Friday, April 8th at 7 p.m. at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center (325 W Walnut St, Milwaukee, WI 53212), and runs through April 17th. Tickets are just $14, and can be purchased on the First Stage Website: www.firststage.org, or by calling (414) 267-2961.
First Stage has offered a special promotion: Purchase two tickets to either ELLA ENCHANTED (ages 6 & up) April 1 – May 1, or ANTIGONE (ages 13 & up) April 8 – 17, for just $20 per pair of tickets. Order by phone only at (414) 267-2961. Mention code "GIRLPOWER" when you call.
*This offer is not valid on previously purchased tickets. Must be ordered by phone at least 48 hours in advance of the first performance. Valid for select seats and select performances only. Subject to availability.
We are blessed to have an abundance of natural areas in Ozaukee County, including two incredible nature preserves: Riveredge on the northwestern end of Oz, and Mequon Nature Preserve on the southwestern end of Oz. Of the two, the Mequon Nature Preserve is the newest and, therefore, not always as familiar to residents, which makes them more in need of help. If you like the outdoors, there are plenty of opportunities to help Mequon Nature Preserve this spring and summer, as well as getting yourself outside.
For the competitive spirit, the Mequon Nature Preserve is participating in the 3rd Southeastern Wisconsin Garlic Mustard Pull-a-Thon, beginning this month and going through the end of June. For more information, contact Emily at 262-242-8055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon, MNP is looking for Restoration Rangers to participate in various land restoration activities. No experience is needed - just come dressed to work outdoors. To rsvp, contact Emily at (262) 242- 8055 or email@example.com. Meet at Mequon Nature Preserve's Pieper Power Education Center at 8200 W. County Line Road in Mequon. If weekdays are too tough, there are Weekend Workdays on April 30th from 9 a.m.-noon and May 1st from noon-3 p.m.
Throughout the spring, summer and fall, Mequon Nature Preserve is also looking for Education Volunteers. Assist staff and volunteers with field trip students who visit the Preserve for nature walks, tours, biology lessons, water quality monitoring, and learning about plant and animal species. Contact Nici at (262) 242-8055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While volunteers are essential, visitors are also valued. If you haven't paid Mequon Nature Center a visit, you should. There are many events and educational opportunities for all ages, including Story Time for young children with Ms. Joyce and bird counts and monitoring for the Birders among you. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, year round, and pets on leashes are welcome, so bring the whole family for a hike, and climb the observation tower for a great view of the 438 acres.
This month, view the Water Shapes WI Exhibit from April 18th to May 2nd, and Celebrate Earth Day at MNP on April 22nd from 5:30-7 p.m., where John Gurda, renowned writer and historian, will present Milwaukee: A City Based On Water; a talk in collaboration with the Water Shapes WI Exhibit.
For more information, visit the Mequon Nature Preserve website: www.mequonnaturepreserve.com.
Late last summer, a new women's clothing store opened at 215 N. Franklin St. in downtown Port Washington: Moda Bella, an urban chic boutique. Now, having survived a winter on the lake, the shop is really beginning to put down roots, inviting the community in with a series of classes and events.
Owner, Michele Piechowski, has made a serious commitment to forward-thinking fashion, not only in the trendy, upscale look of the items she carries, but in the way -- and the where -- in which they were made. Most of the clothing and accessories within this lakeside boutique with an east-side feel are Fair Trade (meaning the workers were paid a living wage and provided good working conditions) or Made in the USA; a rare claim for a clothing store.
In fact, one of Michele's favorite lines this spring is from Mata Traders in Chicago, who utilize Fair Trade Co-ops in India and Nepal to make their clothing.
"I just love these garments," Michele said. "They're made of 100% cotton, of which most of is hand-stamped or hand embroidered. These co-ops pay fair wages, and offer daycare, healthcare and empowerment to the women working with them. I love that these pieces are made by one woman from start to finish, without line or piece work."
Beyond clothing and accessories, Michele has had several workshops in the store that were so well-received, she's doing them again! On Monday, April 11th, at 6 p.m., there will be a Glass Painting Class in the store. On Sunday, April 24th, at 2 p.m., there will be a Canvas Painting Class. On Thursday, May 5th, at 5:30, she'll have the second Pillow and Canvas Tote Painting Class, just in time for Mother's Day gifts. Her Pallet Class has been so popular, she added a 4th one on May 9th at 5:30 p.m. (look for the sign up on April 8th!).
Moda Bella will be closed the 2nd through the 7th for Michele to take a much-needed break, but she'll be back in time for Port's annual Ladies Night Out on April 14th from 4-8 p.m.
Moda Bella has something for all ages of women. In fact, they are currently building a special Juniors section for teens, with the same, fashion-forward focus. The boutique is open Wednesday through Saturday, but the hours can be a bit erratic, so it's best to call before you visit: (262) 261-5105.
We at Ozaukee Living Local truly appreciate Michele's commitment to being a local business in the truest sense, and wish her the best of success!
Ella Enchanted at First Stage
What is the most powerful word in the English language? Arguably, it is the word "No." To stand up for oneself; to protect one's independence, the word "no" is absolutely essential. Now, what if you couldn't say no? That is the question explored in the fairy tale-based novel by the popular YA author, Gail Carson Levine, which is making its debut as a World Premier Musical at First Stage Theater in Milwaukee: Ella Enchanted.
Ella (Alison Pogorelc/Taylor Kass) is given the gift of obedience by a well-meaning fairy. The "gift," of course, turns out to be a curse. Her mother (Niffer Clarke) begs the fairy to take back the gift, to no avail, and does her best to teach Ella to live with her curse, commanding her to tell no one, lest it be used against her. Then, of course, her mother dies. No matter what anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey, and it doesn't take long for her wicked stepsisters, Hatie (Grace Becker/Madison Penzkover) and Olive (Elizabeth Robbins/Mari Duckler), to figure out Ella's secret and to use it to their advantage. Ella's father (Milwaukee favorite, Matt Daniels) is completely clueless, and marries Dame Lucinda (Bree Beelow) to deal with his affairs, including his quirky daughter.
Luckily, Ella has a true friend in Prince Char (Max Pink/Cole Winston), but her jealous stepsister means to have the Prince for herself, and will do anything to keep Ella out of her way. Can Ella overcome her curse and live happily ever after?
Anyone who loves a good fairy tale will fall in love with Ella Enchanted. Directed by John Maclay, with stage play and lyrics by Karen Zacarias, and music and additional lyrics by Deborah Wicks LaPuma, Ella Enchanted is the result of the First Stage commitment to new play development, and their willingness to collaborate with other theaters and artists; in this case, Adventure Theatre MTC in Maryland.
"We believe in the power of theater and our responsibility to tell meaningful stories to which young people and families can relate," said First Stage Artistic Director, Jeff Frank.
First Stage has received national recognition for their new play development by being invited, once again, to participate in the Kennedy Center's New Visions/New Voices biennial festival for playwrights and theaters this spring in Washington DC with another World Premier Play making its debut next season, TXT U L8R. See all of the plays in First Stage's 30th Season here.
Tickets for Ella Enchanted, which runs from April 1st through May 1st, can be purchased on the First Stage website: www.firststage.org, or by calling (414) 267-2961. For a really great theater experience, purchase two tickets to performances of either the premiere musical, Ella Enchanted (ages 6 & up) on April 1 – May 1, or for Antigone (ages 13 & up), April 8 – 17, for just $20 per pair of tickets. Order by phone only at (414) 267-2961. Mention code "GIRLPOWER" when you call.
On Sunday, April 17th, attend a special Author's Brunch with Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted, at the InterContinental Hotel, located across the street from the Todd Wehr Theater. Director John Maclay will be on hand to share behind-the-scenes insights about the creative process behind this world premiere musical, and guests will enjoy a sneak-peek musical performance by two young performers in the show.
About First Stage Founded in 1987, First Stage is one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters, and the second largest theater company in Milwaukee. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through Professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain; unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community. First Stage is a member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Arts Wisconsin and TYA/USA, the international association of theater for children and young people. First Stage is a proud cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund.