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What to do when winter has got you down? Dream of your springtime garden-to-come. Bake like your great-grandmother did. Pretend you're 16, it's prom night, and you are the King/Queen. Pretend you're Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie. Voyage with the Norsemen, march with the Scots. Bring home an alpaca instead of a hamster for your kids.
If all else fails, eat chocolate.
Let's start with that last item. The goodly folk of Appleton invite one and all to experience Death by Chocolate on the evening of February 14. Ten downtown coffeehouses and restaurants will prepare delicious, decadent and divine chocolate desserts guaranteed to stop the stoutest of hearts. You'll die ten pounds heavier, but you'll go out with a smile. $20 per person; $30 per couple. See Fox Cities of Wisconsin or call (920) 954-9112.
Slaving over a hot stove actually can be a pleasure in chilly February. Warm to the task as you cook 19th-century dishes on a wood-burning stove and over an open hearth during Hearthside Dinners from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on February 16 and March 15 at Wade House in Greenbush. The menu features old-time favorites like squash soup, pork roast, red cabbage with apples, and mashed turnips. $45 per person. See Wade House or call (920) 526-3271. (By the way, you'll be washing the dishes in 19th-century style, too.)
Recapture the elegance of another era at the Blue Moon Ball, a black tie and vintage dress prom for adults on February 9 at the Lakeside Pavilion in Bayfield. The 20-piece Big Woods Big Band croons the tunes, and trophies will go to the best dancers, best vintage apparel, and more. Try not to pull a Carrie when they crown the King and Queen of the Ball. See Bayfield or call 1-800-447-4094.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and in the hands of the St. Germain Lion's Club, perhaps the most hilarious as well. During the 25th annual Miss Stump Dump Pageant on February 9, club members do impersonations of celebrities, all in good fun and for a good cause – to support local charities. Take in the show at the St. Germain Community Center, and enjoy food, raffles and dancing between appearances by Cary Grant and Madonna. (715) 542-2929.
How will your garden grow this spring? Two events can help you answer that question. On February 8-10, visit Madison's Alliant Energy Center for the WPT Garden Expo. Ideas are sure to sprout with more than 100 seminars and demonstrations, 200 vendors and many display gardens. Proceeds benefit Wisconsin Public Television. See Garden Expo or call (800) 422-9707. The Chippewa Valley Master Gardeners Association and Chippewa County UW-Extension invite you to the Think Spring Garden Seminar on February 16, featuring fascinating presentations, knowledgeable speakers, door prizes and the good company of fellow gardeners. For the location, see Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce or call (715) 726-7950.
When winter rails, what's a good Viking to do? Have a Norse Afternoon of Fun on February 10 at Stoughton High School. While the town's famous Norwegian Dancers kick up their clogs, you can sidle up to the smoked salmon and the lefse. See Stoughton Norwegian Dancers or call (608) 877-5600. When the krumkakka runs out, make your way over to Whitewater, where the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards & Band of the Coldstream Guards perform on February 11th at the Young Auditorium on the UW-Whitewater campus. Enjoy the rousing music of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales with pipes, drums and highland dancers. See Young Auditorium or call (262) 472-2222.
What do you get when you put 300 alpacas in a room? The Wisconsin Spring Bling Alpaca Show, on March 15-16 at the Tri County Ice Arena in Neenah. The furry ungulates come in many colors; soon you'll know your Suris from your Huacayas. See Fox Cities of Wisconsin or call (920) 337-0646.