Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

The Inauguration into Wine Club July 23, 2014

Every other week or so Matt and I try to do a date night. In the past we’ve done mini-golf, kayaking, movies and breweries. We try to make it an activity so it’s not always going out for food. Personally, I love our outings because we try new things and it’s not always a budget buster.

Cheers!

Cheers!

This weekend we added something new to our date nights with wine tasting. My knowledge of wines is solely based on my experiences in southwestern Michigan. I love all the vineyards stretching from about mile 10 through mile 40 on I-94. If you get a chance, I definitely recommend exploring the wine trail. But that’s for another blog post :).

Our destination was Tasting deVine, located in downtown Wheaton. Tasting deVine is adorable and Matt and I are already planning our next visit. The storefront has a cute outdoor area where you can enjoy a sample, glass or split a bottle of wine with friends. On the inside there is a large bar for sampling as well as smaller tables for you to enjoy your wine. They also offer a small and large cheese and fruit plate to compliment your wine selection.

The tasting room and tables were quite full when we arrived close to dinner time on a Saturday evening. So, we headed to an open spot at the bar and were greeted by friendly staff who walked us through our tasting options of Lynfred wine. Fun fact about Lynfred Winery is it is the oldest and largest winery in Illinois. The winery is actually located in Roselle, Illinois but there are two tasting locations where you can also sample and buy Lynfred, the one in Wheaton and also in Naperville.

Matt decided on a red sample flight and I chose a white one. We were given a menu of the three wines for our sampling that included descriptions and a pairing guide for meals. I tried to take a picture to remember what we sampled and one of the bartenders told me I could just take the menu. Yay for friendly staff!

The staff elaborated on all the wines which was very helpful to learn more about them and the winery itself. My favorites were the Chenin Blanc and the Marsanne. Matt’s were the Sangiovese and Syrah. The samples change on a monthly basis so there is something new to look forward to.

We had such a good time talking more with the bartender about wines and our experience with them, he encouraged us to learn more about their membership club. Before we knew it, we signed up to be wine club members! Tasting deVine has 5 different clubs to choose from. We selected the new release of the month club where members receive a soon to be released bottle wine which alternates between a red and white every month. There is no fee to the membership and you get discounts on bottles and cases as well as opportunities to attend wine club member events and special promotions. As you can see, it’s a good deal if you enjoy a bottle of wine.

Maybe after a year in this wine club Matt and I will be ready to take on Napa Valley!

 

Light Pasta Dinner July 22, 2014

photo 1This is a light meal, perfect for a hot summer night. I had ½ a pound of shrimp in my fridge and wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Do you ever buy things without a plan for them?  I usually plan all my meals and then go get all the ingredients, but I saw the shrimp in the case and grabbed some without a recipe this time so of course I turned to Pinterest for some help.   This recipe is by Tiffany at Savor Home blog.  The recipe called for 1 pound so I cut the original recipe in half. Here is the list of what you’ll need:

 

 

Ingredients:

6oz pasta (I used shells)
½ tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic*
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
8oz portabella mushrooms, sliced*
2 medium fresh tomatoes, sliced*
2 cups fresh spinach
½ lb fresh shrimp, clean and peeled
¼ cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
salt and black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil

 

*Items I did not half because I love them too much

 

Cook the pasta, drain and set aside.  In a separate skillet, heat the garlic and red pepper flakes in heated oil until you start smelling the garlic.  Next add the mushrooms and tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms give off their water.  Turn the heat up a bit and add the raw shrimp.  Cook the shrimp until they are only slightly pink.  Once these are cooked, turn down the heat a bit and add the spinach until it is wilted.  Now add the already cooked pasta, marinara sauce, and greek yogurt and stir it all together until it is well mixed.  Scoop into bowls and add Parmesan and basil on top. Enjoy!

photo 2

 

 

 

 

DIY – Kitchen Shelves July 16, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 9:02 pm
Tags: , ,

Uncharted authors are writing a lot about DIY home solutions this month and I’m continuing with the trend. Last week I wrote about an easy solution to update and stabilize a wire shelving rack with wood shelf inserts. This week I have an update on our new kitchen wall shelves.

Matt and I worked in tandem on both projects, though I have to say he did pretty much all the work on the free standing shelves. My only contributions included picking out the wall mounting brackets at Home Depot, assisting with measuring where the shelves would go on the wall and then reorganizing the kitchen once the shelves were up.

So yes, he did all the double and triple checking of measuring and cutting, sanding and staining, and then firmly attaching them to the mounting brackets. And he did a great job! He used the same color stain as we did for the shelf inserts for the wire wrack so everything looks a little more coordinated.

Here’s the before:

Kitchen Before

Kitchen Before

The intermediate:

The shelf bracket

The shelf bracket

The almost done phase

The almost done phase

And here’s the after:

The final product

The final product

I love having the additional storage to display more items. Plus it helped to keep all of my spices in an easy to reach location where I can see everything. And I have a better display of my cookbooks and Cooking Light magazines when I need to figure out dinner. All in all, I think our kitchen is finally set!

Now all we have to figure out is what project do we want to do next. Or rather, I should really find a new project…

 

Surfs Up VoxBox July 15, 2014

influensterAwhile ago I saw my fellow blogger Sarah post a picture of something called a VoxBox.  I was curious about what it was so naturally I Googled it.  That brought me to a website called Influenster where I learned the following:

 ‘Influenster is a community of trendsetters, social media masterminds, and educated consumers who live to give opinions of products and experiences.

Influensters meet here to learn about new products from our favorite brands as well as review the products they already use in their day-to-day lives.’

 

I dug a little deeper and found out what exactly a VoxBox was.  At first I thought maybe it was one of those subscription boxes that have a theme and you receive one every month for a fee.  It is a box you receive in the mail, but the similarities stop there.  Instead of paying for a subscription, Voxbox is full of complimentary items that you test out and review.  This is how they describe the VoxBoxes:

VoxBoxes are boxes filled with complimentary products from your favorite (or soon-to-be-favorite) brands. Not all Voxboxes are created equal: some programs feature an assortment of products while others will spotlight one awesome brand. But make no mistake: All VoxBoxes are created awesome.

 I was pretty excited to try this for myself so I signed up on their website right away (it didn’t hurt that it was free!).  I connected my profile to a few of my social media sites and then started choosing ‘badges’.  These are basically different categories you can answer questions about.  There are a bunch of different options to choose from, but once you pick a few, you start answering surveys, leaving reviews, and answering other people’s questions about products in these catagories.  My badges so far are Eco, Decorator, Tastebud, Catnip, and Bookclub.  Completing these actions gives you points and I’m not sure the exact science, but after about 3-4 weeks of participating, I got a notice that I would be receiving my first VoxBox…the SurfsUpVoxBox.

 It took a little while to get to me, but I must say they stayed in touch by email along the way and kept me updated.  They are definitely good communicators!  They even warned us that one of the products would be late and not in the box with everything else (Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun).  When my box finally arrived I was super excited to open it.  Here is what was inside:


whole box

I received:

  • A coupon for a free Jamba Juice Smoothie Kit
  • First Aid Shot Therapy
  • SinfulColors Professional Nail Polish in Anchors Away
  • Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Shampoo & Conditioner

So far I have only had time to try one product and that is the SinfulColors nail polish in the tangerine colored Anchors Away.  I don’t trust myself to do my own manicure, but I did my toes.  I usually wouldn’t pick out such a bright color for myself, but I like how it makes my feet look tanner.  I plan on trying the Beach shampoo and conditioner this weekend when I have a bit more time to do my hair.   I love the idea of wavy beach hair so I’m crossing my fingers that it actually works for me.

Once I opened the box, I logged into my account and confirmed that I received it.  Then it gives you a list of activities or items to complete.  I need to take some time to read through them all and see what I can take care of.  I’m thinking the more items completed, the better chance I’ll have of getting another VoxBox.  I’ll let you know what happens!

*I received these products complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster*

 

Painting a Brick Fireplace July 14, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 10:59 am
Tags: , , ,

The house projects continue! This year, we decided to take on a few larger scale projects around the house, but agreed to only do them every couple weeks so we wouldn’t burn ourselves out like we did for the last 2 years. So this past weekend, while lazily hanging out in the living room and trying to think of something fun to do, we decided we’d paint the fireplace (and get it over with) and then go out to lunch to celebrate another project off our list.

First, the reason we are painting the fireplace is mostly for aesthetic purposes. Both Eric and I loathe the red bricks on our fireplace. The bricks appear to be fake, though we found out that they are just treated. The red doesn’t match our taste or the feel in our 1950′s home, so we did some research and decided on painting the bricks white to match the backside of the fireplace (which is in our bedroom).

When painting a brick fireplace, there are some things you need to know:

(1) Fireplaces require special paint that can handle hotter temperatures. Though we painted the outside of our fireplace, we wanted to ensure that we weren’t going to create something that would explode. Our local Benjamin Moore/Epco paint store was able to help us out with the correct paint.

(2) Before painting, you MUST make sure that you’ve wiped down the bricks and it is super clean. Even in the little pockets of the bricks. To clean in those little holes, we used a paint brush. The primer won’t stick if your fireplace is dusty.

(3) Use a primer. We got one at our store and painted the primer on by hand. We also bought a special roller for bricks (it’s a little more furry than the usual roller) to get in all the grout and holes of the bricks.

(4) When selecting the finish for your paint, here are some things to keep in mind… The shinier the finish, the easier it is to clean, but the easier it is to see paint strokes and imperfections in the brick. Because our bricks were treated, super straight and nearly perfect, we went with a high gloss paint. We’d rather be able to clean the fireplace easily!

So here is the before shot and the “after primer” shot. We will finish painting this evening – so I’ll share that photo when we get it! What do you think?

Pre-Painted Brick Fireplace

Pre-Painted Brick Fireplace

Post Primed Fireplace - still need to put on the paint

Post Primed Fireplace – still need to put on the paint

 

 

Easy Upgrade: Update a Wire Shelf July 9, 2014

To say we have a storage problem in our galley style kitchen is an understatement. Only one set of cabinets align one wall. Thankfully we added additional storage by upcycling my parents old upper cabinets into a storage unit. Plus I brought my kitchen island over for more storage and prep space. All too soon, both items were filled. We needed another solution to help with our kitchen items exploding. So Matt and I started brainstorming.

Since we’re currently renting we don’t want to spend a lot of money on a solution. After discussing options we decided to build shelves on two open walls and treat wood to improve storage quality on a wire rack. Off to Home Depot we went! We bought a few 1” X 10” and decorative shelving brackets. Total cost came to $80. Perfect for our rent friendly budget.

We decided to tackle the wire rack first. Matt measuredand cut one of the 1” X 10” into three pieces. After cutting the boards to size, he sanded them down so I could stain the wood. We decided to use a walnut stain we had leftover from another project. One coat was all we needed. The next day we added the final clear polyurethane coating to seal the wood.

The Before

The Before

The wooden shelf

A final wooden shelf

The Final Product!

The Final Product!

The shelves turned out great! Now things don’t slide through the racks and the wire rack itself seems sturdier. Now we just have to finish up the shelves!

 

Fitbit Thoughts July 8, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 10:08 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

fitbit adI’ve had a Fitbit about two weeks now and here are my thoughts so far:

#1- It’s made me aware that I am a lazy ass. 

Seriously!  After using it the first day I realized that I do most of my walking in the last 4 hours of the day.  When I left work the first day of using my Fitbit I was barely at 2,000 steps.  The recommendation is 10,000 steps or 5 miles a day!

#2- It motivates me to walk more, even if the step counter isn’t 100% accurate.

See item number 1 above: I made Dave go on a walk that first night and I think I ended the day around 6,500 steps.  Two nights ago I was only around 2,000 after having a vey lazy Sunday so I walked up and down my stairs and around my teeny tiny apartment a million times to get my count up over 5,000.

#3- I’m starting to do strange things with my arm when I walk so I can make sure a step gets recorded.

I especially worry when I’m carrying something or going up or down stairs.  I mean what if my arm isn’t swinging enough?  I should definitely get credit for going up stairs right?  Am I the only one who thinks about this?

#4- I see the early signs of a Fitbit tan, am I’m weirdly proud of it.

I have always been jealous of my one cousin who has the most distinct watch tan of anyone I’ve ever met.  It’s a tanline I can actually show people!

#5- I’m wearing out the battery by tapping the god damn thing every minute to see if I made it to the ‘next dot’.

For those without a Fitbit, each dot represents 20% of your goal for the day.  This means I’m constantly hoping that the short walk to the bathroom I just took is going to push me from that second dot to the third one.

fit bit

#6- It’s causing me to pay attention to my water intake and I’m for once in my life getting enough water in a day.

There is a water intake counter and as you add in the ounces you’ve drank in the day, it shows a little outline of a person getting filled with water.  It’s oddly motivating, but I must say I think I’m cheating a little.  If I drink a drink that has mostly water in it I still count it in the counter.  For instance the  16oz. Steaz green tea I drink every day gets counted even though it isn’t straight water.

phone photo

I swear Fitbit didn’t give me mine for free and pay me to write this.  I’m not that lucky or cool.  I just asked for one on my birthday wish list and my dad got it for me.  I’ve been a little obsessive about this thing and I was hoping I wasn’t alone in these crazy feelings.

 

 
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