The interactive map listing Madison coffee shops I have visited is finally here. Each location has a price point, rating and location information. 

I have yet to visit several coffee shops but I have many on my list that I will be going to after work these next few weeks. The options are endless and when I think about all of the espressos and chai tea lattes I will be drinking excitement boils up and my hand goes directly to my new coffee cup filled with earl grey tea. 

Growing up, coffee disgusted me. My parents drank one pot a morning - and consumed more at work. I remember spitting out my first taste of coffee and vowing I'd never drink it - that didn't last in college. Now, I can't live without it in the mornings. Coffee or tea has to be in my hand at least 30 minutes after I wake up if I'm to be productive. It's not an addiction. Well, maybe it is. 

No matter what you call it, it has lead me to experience more things in Madison or my European travels and dare I say, matured my palate

So here's the spiel: black coffee; no cream; no sugar; hold the to-go cup - I'm a snob that way. Cheers! 
Tuesday was the day. 

I was going to embark on a journey to get to know more Madison residents while doing the most enjoyable act possible - eating. However the first Meet and Eat and the Villager Mall on Madison's South Side was cancelled due to projected storms

At each Meet and Eat, there three locations in total throughout the summer, Madison food carts and vendors congregate Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 - 7:30 p.m. The event began last year in the Meadowood neighborhood on the Southwest Side and this year the city of Madison and Madison Parks, the sponsors of the events, decided to expand to Villager Mall and St. Paul Lutheran Church on the North Side. 

On summer nights there is nothing like going out for a cheap meal and getting to know people in your community. All it takes is some guts and $5. 

If you go: 
             Meadowood Shopping Center
              5800 Raymond Rd.
              Thursdays: July 11, 18, 25;  Thursdays Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
              5:00 - 7:30 p.m. 

          Villager Mall
             2234 S. Park St. 
             Tuesdays: July 16, 23, 30
              5:00 - 7:30 p.m. 

             St. Paul Lutheran Church
             2126 N. Sherman Ave.              
             Tuesdays: Aug. 6, 13, 20, 27
              5:00 - 7:30 p.m. 
A $2.72 total for 2.58 pounds of clothing at Dig and Save, 1900 S. Park St. Madison, WI
I’m actually extremely frugal when it comes to money.

I hate whipping out my debit card, sliding it through the kiosk that then reads all my information. Then the kiosk asks me to sign and, poof, money is magically taken away from my bank account. It just plain hurts the soul.

On the brightside, there are ways to shop that aren’t damaging. And no, Target is not one of them - even though that store seems to understand me more than I understand myself. No, I’m talking about thrifting. 

It’s a great way to curve your shopping craving and get a lot for ridiculously cheap. So, as my urge to shop began to grow I hit the thrift shops in Madison to see what they had to offer. 

On the list: 
               Hours: Mon. - Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
               Hours: Mon. -  Wed. 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Thurs. - Sat. 9 a.m. -  7 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
               Hours: Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Closed Sunday 
               Hours: vary 
  • Savers: 7333 West Towne Mall Way
               Hours: vary
                Hours: Mon. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Closed Sunday 

In order to accomplish everything on the list I gave myself an hour limit at each stop. That didn’t last long. 
PictureBins heaping with close at Dig and Save.
At Dig and Save I spent an hour and a half digging through the bins of clothes thrown into them. At this spot there is no rhyme or reason to organization except clothes and accessories are in the front and furniture, toys and odds and ends are in the back. 

This place is great. 

They measure clothes by the pound, each pound cost a dollar. That is right, one single dollar aka one George Washington aka 100 pennies. I couldn’t get enough of this place. 

After 80 minutes of shuffling clothes, tired arms and a cart full of items I went to the back right corner where a single mirror stood, for sale,  and scooted skirts over my pants, sweaters over my tank top and belts around my waist. 

I received a few suspicious glances, but what is a girl to do when there are no fitting rooms? 

Upon checkout I had ten items that weighed a little over two pounds and rang up to $2.72. 

Now that’s what I call a good deal. 

Things to know about Dig and Save:
  • They turnover product weekly, mostly on Wednesdays
  • Wednesdays are 50 percent off
  • It’s work to thrift here, don’t come if you’re grossed out by germs or in a rush
  • They are part of the St. Vincent de Paul thrift chain. If you have their member card you get a point for every $10 you spend, once you get 10 points you get a dollar off your next purchase. I obviously got one. 

Next up:  St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store

This was a great location but the prices made me frown. Not because the prices were bad, but because nothing can top Dig and Save.

The draw here is that it is a local chain, it’s not a nation-wide donation center. Vincent thrift stores  can only be found in Wisconsin. Here, they had a variety of furniture, glasswear, storage, clothing and accessories that, according to the saleswoman, constantly become cheaper because of promotions they have nearly every weekend. 

On this particular Saturday, the sale was on women’s skirts, end tables and women's knit tees. I did spend only an hour at this location after three rapid trips to the fitting room. The bill? A little higher than I wanted and I did end up returning the skirt I purchased. Buyers remorse.

Things to know about Dig and Save:
  • They turnover product relatively quickly, marking down often
  • Frequent sales
  • Great jewelry selection in the room to your right, passed the mens section, across from the fitting rooms
  • They are also part of the St. Vincent de Paul thrift chain. Points, points, points! 
After this I said, no more purchases! Instead, I just went to check out a few more spots to see if they had just of good of deals. 

The answer: meh.  

Bethesda House of Thrift had some options for women in their young 20s but reminded me more of my grandmother. And this grandmother statement can be proved by the fact that I actually tried on a blouse, and who happened to be the designer? Alfred Dunner. It immediately went back on the hanger and on the return rack.

Boomerangs Resale Shop had a small selection of clothing items compared to the former three, but they had a great selection of furniture that was in the best shape of all the thrift stores I visited. The clothing was also more geared towards women 65+, another statement that was proved valid after realizing I was the only one under the age of 70 in the store. I guess you could say I'm an old soul?

I did not get to Savers and Goodwill because I was exhausted. It was a long day of sifting through racks and buckets that lead to tough decisions in narrowing down what I “really” needed.

End total: $30.50

Total number of purchases:
  • Red jacket, great to pair with jeans or summer dress
  • Purple wool sweater
  • Black lace tank top
  • Black silk top
  • White lace blouse
  • Gray tribal print crop top
  • A red button up with a passport print, perfect for a music festival
  • Blue jean shorts
  • Tan belt to sinch skirts and dresses with
  • Tan sweater with vertical tribal print stripes on the left and right side
  • Yellow Lacoste polo
  • Four plastic milk classes with lighthouse on them
#LauraGoesToMadison and visits the chair outside Union South across from my apartment.
PictureIce cream, beer and Lake Mendota.
#LauraGoesToMadison was the hash tag my girlfriend, Laura Moderhock, used when she began her trip to spend Memorial Day weekend with me here in Madison. It being the first weekend I had in Madison I had a slew of things I wanted to see and Laura was the perfect person to explore with. 

First up: Memorial Union Terrace for a taste of Babcock Dairy Ice Cream at the Daily Scoop, beer and live music. 

This was a great way to start the weekend off after my first two days at the Wisconsin State Journal. The terrace was buzzing with energy and nearly every table was taken. Families with children, college students, middle aged couples on double dates and a few elderly couples still having date nights made up the crowd that waited for the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Drum Band to perform. We snagged a table and watched the sunset over Lake Mendota while chatting. 

Jim Nelson, a former professor and co-worker at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, urged me to become a frequent customer of the Union Terrace and I can say this is one instruction I’m not going to discard. 

Eats, drinks and entertainment:
  • That night we ate mocha chip ice cream, just as Jim recommended, and it was delicious, A+.
  • Though coupling beer with ice cream made Laura and I both raise our eye brows it turned out to be delicious. When in Madison, I believe we said.
  • The music? It started a bit late, but we were not in a rush and stayed for a few songs until my grandma tendencies began to show and I admitted to wanting to go to bed around 10:30. 
  • Check out a Vine video Laura made of our night. 

PictureDane County Farmer's Market at Capitol Square.
The next morning we hit up the Dane County Farmers' Market at the Capitol Square. We drove instead of walking or biking because of the list of things we wanted to accomplish and driving and parking was easier than expected. The ramps were reasonably priced since they are metered. The next time I go, if solo, will be on bike. 

On the checklist was: 
  • Cinnamon roll and coffee for Andrea
  • Something tasty for Laura
  • Mixings for our taco pie dinner: tomatoes, onions, salsa

We arrived a bit later than we had hoped but the market was still wild with energy and filled with locals carrying their Dane County market bags. There was no right way to really walk, though the traffic seemed to move east to west and we followed suit. 

As we walked I found myself realizing Madison has an eclectic mix of people that  reminded me of the diversity I found in Uptown in Minneapolis, the east side of Milwaukee and everywhere on the streets in Spain. 

My mouth watered as we strolled and made one complete loop without making purchases, and then headed back to stands we had our eyes on. 

What we walked away with:

PictureSacred Feather, 417 State St. Madison, WI
Third destination: State Street. 

After the market we walked through the Capitol, then dropped our stuff in the car and headed just down the street to State Street. With no spot in mind we just browsed the street and took it in for what it was. We stopped at B-Side Records where Laura bought a Wilco record, and then went across the street to the iconic shop, Sacred Feather

Years ago when I visited Madison the selection of hats was incredible, but we entered I was shocked to see such few options. Now, it would seem, the store is a specialty store with a handful of merchandise. Nevertheless it was nice to walk on the dark wooden floor and hear them squeak as memories wafted back from my pervious trip with my family and I glanced at what the shop had to offer. 

The street, filled with boutiques, chains, restaurants and patio seating is a popular area to spend your evenings and weekends. It would seem it is the perfect place to wind down after the hectic and crowded farmer’s market. Great for people watching as well. 

Time passes fast as you walk up and down State Street and soon we were back to the car and on our way to the Henry Vilas Zoo

All college students and recent graduates are about saving money. With the exception of the market, a few purchases along State and the gas we were using, our day was cost-free and we wanted to keep the trend going. 

The Madison zoo is free of charge, kid friendly and has seals - so naturally it was perfect for us 21-year-olds. We walked along the trails and looked at the animals but found ourselves glued to the seals as we ate popsicles. Oh, to be young again. 

The rest of the day was relaxing. We made our taco pie, which was the first thing I cooked besides a pizza or salad at the apartment, and it was delicious. That night we went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Chicago Blackhawks game. Unfortunately I’m still new to the bar scene and don’t know where the popular places to go are – hopefully that will change soon! 

PictureLaura sits on top of Bucky outside Camp Randall.
On the following morning we got up early to beat the rush at Mickies Dairy Bar. A colleague at the Wisconsin State Journal recommended the restaurant as an early Sunday morning feast, and feast it was. 

The portions are incredibly large and offer a little something for everyone. Take a look at the video Laura made of our meal if you want to see for yourself. 

Following breakfast we took a walk by and around Camp Randall, UW-Madison's football stadium, unfortunately we couldn't actually get in the facility but we found out a lot about the history. Camp Randall was a former training camp during the Civil War for the Union Army, named after the late Governor Alexander Randall. The state bought the land in 1893 and then gifted it to the University. Later it was turned into a place for athletics, primarily for track and field before the baseball and football teams began using the space in 1895. There is green space, a memorial and UW Athletic Hall of Fame on the Monroe Street side of the complex. 

PictureBrat and beer at Brat Fest, Madison.
Shortly after dropping of our leftovers we headed to Brat Fest, the world's largest brat festival. With no admission fee or parking charges you were free to come in and out as many times as you'd like. With live bluegrass and folk music acts serenading you and people attempting the Oscar Mayer Wiener song we were not short on entertainment and people watching as we chowed down on $2 Chipotle Chicken Monterey Jack brats and split a $6 Capital Radler beer. The beer price was steep but worth every dollar. It turned out to be a new favorite of ours. 

All-in-all we had a relatively inexpensive weekend unless we chose to make purchases. There are tons of things to do in Madison that are cost-free and entertaining. It will be fun to see what other events there will be in the coming months for me to explore, free of charge. 

For now, we just have to wait for #LauraGoesToMadison round dos! 

Q: #WhereIsWanda. A: Parked outside with Wisconsin State Capitol.
In an effort to be as “Madison” as possible, and avoid parking tickets, I have joined the Madison Red Bike Project. This is an effort started by Jillian Corbett in 1996 to make Madison one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Now, hundreds of red bikes have temporary homes across Madison for a $100 refundable deposit. 

Before coming to Madison, I heard how un-car friendly the city was.  While the check I write for parking each month reaffirms this assumption, it really didn’t hit me until I was the last person to receive one of the retro red bikes. Riding on the road in designated biking lanes that bump right up to the traffic wizzing by to my left is a daily experience that I've missed from my days in my hometown, Minneapolis.  

Minneapolis has consistently been voted one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, and I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until Wanda, my bicycle, and I took our first adventure around Madison the first day I was here.

  Wanda and I's destinations: 

When I reached Capitol Square and found myself severely lost I stepped off my bike and decided to walk back to campus, with the assistance of Google Maps… I have no shame in admitting I am horrible with directions.

Since then, Wanda and I have enjoyed several bike trails: Capital TrailShorewood Bike Loop; Capital City State Trail and more. Soon I will be publishing a list of the trails I find to be most enjoyable and easy for Madison newbies such as myself. 

If you want to keep tabs on Wanda and I, follow me on:
Twitter: AndreaEAnderson 
Instagram: AndreaElinAnderson

Also follow hashtags: WhereIsWanda and AndreaInMadison2013