Whooo want to spot owls this weekend?
Whooo want to spot owls this weekend? (Photo: Wehr Nature Center)

Local nature centers celebrate winter this weekend

Just when I'm getting down on winter, local organizations step up with family-friendly events that make the most of this beautiful season.

This weekend alone, Wehr Nature Center in Franklin, Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners and Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Bayside are all offering Winter-themed events and celebrations. 

Winterfest at Boerner Botanical Gardens on Sunday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature winter crafts and activities for kids and winter stories by storyteller Kristia Wildflower. You can munch on kettle corn from local provider Sweet Delight Kettle Corn and other concessions from Zilli Hospitality Group, Boerner's new caterer.

Two Winter Woods Walks led by horticulturist Mike Kreuser will begin at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. He'll lead families through the gardens and teach participants about how living things adapt to the cold and prepare for the Spring. 

To find out more about Winterfest, click here.

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center will also hold a Winter Carnival on Sunday, Jan. 26 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. They're offering snowshoeing treks, animal tracking hikes, ice skating on Mystery Lake, sledding, live animals, live music and Streetza Pizza.  Just like every Saturday and Sunday, you can stop by their Word with a Bird program to meet live raptors and other feathered friends. To find out more, click here.

Finally, Wehr Nature Center is offering a family friendly Owl Prowl on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m. A naturalist will lead this night-time, interactive program and woodlands hike that teaches participants everything they ever wanted to know about Great Horned and Eastern Screech owls. Registration is required, and you can find out more here.

Removable wallpaper. It's not just for walls, ya know.
Removable wallpaper. It's not just for walls, ya know.

Milwaukee native launches trendy removable wallpaper line

If you're anything like me, you are occasionally overtaken with an overwhelming need to redecorate something in your home. You're not asking for much. You simply want every room of your house or apartment to look like a Pottery Barn or Anthropologie advertisement.

Milwaukee native Elizabeth Rees can relate, and she recently launched a business that can help people like us to change the entire look of a space within a reasonable budget.

Chasing Paper offers peel and stick removable wallpaper in fresh, modern patterns. These easy-to-apply wallpaper panels can transform a room or spice up any home project in a matter of minutes.

Her business has already been featured on major home decor websites and Bethenny Frankel's new talk show.

Since I'm expecting a baby in February and have a 2 1/2 year old, I'm especially excited about the possibilities for a modern, sweet nursery and a whimsical child's room.

But of all, the fresh, trendy patterns you'll find on Chasing Paper's website includes my absolute favorite: the peel and stick chalkboard panel. A household chore checklist in the kitchen, a weekly family schedule in the mudroom, a creative space in the living room - the possibilities are endless!

I sat down with Elizabeth to find out more about her first year in business, what we can expect in the future and how her Milwaukee roots have influenced Chasing Paper.

Callie Joy Herbst: What inspired you to start a removable wallpaper company?

Elizabeth Rees: I am a Midwestern gal that has found her home all over the world in the last 10 years. Working, studying and finding my way through tiny towns and big cities, I have been cultivating my entrepreneurial spirit along the way. Since I grew up in the printing industry, it was important for me carve out my own place and conquer my own territory, and so Chasing Paper was born ‚Äď stylish removable wallpaper for the urban home.

CH: Removable wallpaper is not just for walls, we hear. What are some cool projects you've se…

Family resolution no. 1: go easy on yourselves, parents.
Family resolution no. 1: go easy on yourselves, parents. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Realistic family resolutions

There's nothing more hopeful than a clean slate. With the new year upon us, we can put our imperfections and mistakes behind us, and journey into 2014 sans last year's baggage.

I've made lofty resolutions in the past (i.e. cook a healthy dinner every night, work out three times a week, start a meditation practice). But I'm a working mom, and time and energy are precious commodities that I am often running out of.  Just thinking about my inevitable shortcomings makes me not want to make any resolutions at all.

So this year, I've decided only to make resolutions that involve me doing less, not more. Here are my realistic resolutions for 2014: 

Schedule fewer activities. Don't get me wrong. I love activities. I love checking out the latest family-friendly happenings around town. But there is just nothing more beautiful than a day without any schedule or plan of any kind. We might spend the whole day in pajamas, or we might decide to venture out and explore. Either way, I want a little less structure and a little more freedom. 

Buy fewer toys. Experts say that the fewer toys a child has the more creative, social and resourceful they are.  Kids with fewer toys also have longer attention spans, are less selfish, take better care of their possessions, and argue less. And, let's be honest. Those bright loud plastic toys just stress me out anyways. Purging the toy box and buying fewer toys is a win-win for my son and I both.

Cook less (without the guilt!) I've decided that there's just not enough time during the week for me to cook a fresh, healthy dinner for my family every night. So I'm not going to feel guilty when I pick up a delicious dinner from the Outpost, or pop a healthy-ish frozen dinner in the oven. I can cook on the weekends.

Log on less. I don't want to be the parent who is always checking their phone for meaningless updates. Less screen time means more quality time with my kid. Period. (For more on kids and technology, click here.)

Talk less (list…