Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Celebrating Our First Wedding Anniversary Part 2 September 24, 2014

This past weekend Matt and celebrated our anniversary in Northern Wisconsin. We had a lovely time relaxing, trying out a new brewery and restaurant, as well as playing games, shopping, and cooking. One thing I couldn’t wait to do on our actual wedding anniversary was to exchange our traditional gift of paper. Matt ordered a beautiful print off of Etsy that features a birch tree and the lyrics to our first dance.


Funny story…I almost bought Matt the same thing for his gift! There was a laborious decision on whether or not I should, and I’m glad I didn’t. Instead, I went with something homemade and created an “Adventure Passport”.


First, I created a list of 12 different restaurants and 12 breweries we’ve wanted to try around Chicago. Next, I cut in half left extra 12X12 pieces of plain white scrapbook paper. To create the book, I simply folded the cut paper in half. On the cover, I cut and glued a fun compass looking paper I found at JoAnn’s years ago to play off of the passport theme.


On the inside, I printed out my list as well as headlines for the two “chapters”: restaurants and breweries. Each section and item was carefully cut out and glued accordingly.


For the binding, I cut out two holes with a hole punch and threaded a thin white ribbon through them. To fasten the ribbon, I used a spot of hot glue on the inside of the book. On the second to last page in the book, I glued in an spare RSVP envelope we received when choosing our wedding invitation paper.


To start us off on our first adventure, I dropped $30 into the envelop, which was our gift budget.

The passport is a great go-to resource when we can’t think of somewhere to go. Plus, we can add left over money or specifically put aside money in our passport at any time. Matt loved it and even asked for another one for when we go to Northern Wisconsin. I guess that’s one gift I can knock off his Christmas list!


Happy Fall! September 23, 2014

Happy First Day of Autumn (Autumnal Equinox)!  In honor of my favorite season beginning I thought I’d share one of my favorite fall activities- Apple Picking!

apples 2

Not this weekend, but the weekend before I joined my cousin, her son, and my sister at Jonamac farms for apple picking.  It was a bit of a drive, but I think it was worth it.  I feel like a lot of these places are a big mess and totally chaotic.  Janamac  was very well set up and was higher quality than most.  My only complaint is the lack of orchard rows open (I’ll get to that in a minute).  When we arrived we of course had to get the standard photo of one of Noah in one of the largest rocking chairs I’ve ever seen.  {Can anyone tell me why this is a thing at pumpkin and apple farms?}  We then went inside and bought ourselves some hot apple cider and cinnamon apple donuts.  Then Noah wanted to play a bit and you had to pay to get in that section so Kate and I walked around the farm and checked out the garden.  Then it was finally time to go pick apples!  I bought a half peck bag and we made our way into the orchard.  They had many rows blocked off from picking and we could never really tell if it was because they weren’t ready or if they were trying to preserve apples.  It was very frustrating to pay $13 for a bag and have to search high and low for one nice looking apple.  We eventually made our way back near the first couple rows and found really good sized healthy apples.  We had a great time and up with a lot of apples to use.

When I got home I jumped on Pinterest right away to find a recipe that would use a lot of apples.  That is when I came upon Julia’s blog The Cedar Spoon.  She has a super easy recipe for applesauce made in a crockpot.  All you need is:

4 apples
½ lemon’s juice {I used the bottled}
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup water

apples 1

All you do is peel and cut the apples {I used my trusty Apple Peeler Corer Slicer to make this step a snap!}, throw the apples and the rest of the ingredients into the crockpot and set on high for 4 hours.  Once the time is up the apples just fall to pieces and it’s ready to enjoy.


Celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary September 17, 2014

This upcoming weekend Matt and I are celebrating our first year of marriage. Where did the time go? We’ve had a blast traveling to new places, finding ways to up-cycle all the birch wood leftover from our wedding, combining our two households, rearranging the house, trying new recipes and restaurants, and working on our parenting skills with Porter.

Time to celebrate all of our accomplishments and our festivities started this weekend. Saturday evening we enjoyed dinner at Two Brothers Roundhouse, the same location of our wedding reception. Our meal was scrumptious! The meal started off with scallops and bone marrow garlic toast followed by the chef’s specials for our entrees. Matt ordered the duck in a ginger sauce and I ordered the trout stuffed with crab and lobster served with asparagus and rice. Our plates were literally wiped clean. And of course we had to have dessert to top off our dinner. Matt ordered the raspberry cheesecake and I ordered the flourless chocolate cake.

A while ago, Matt and I decided we would do two gifts, one for the modern first anniversary gift, which is clocks, and the other for traditional, which is paper. We decided to go shopping together for new watches and the paper gift would be up to us, with a smaller budget of course.

Sunday meant modern present time! After church we headed over to Oak Brook. Naturally we both did some research and found a lot of options we liked at Macy’s. Our first stop was the Fossil counter for Matt. He was looking for an automatic watch, which doesn’t have a battery and relies on the movement of your hand to function. He settled on this gorgeous piece. I love how you can see the gears – it’s so cool!

Automatic Fossil Watch

The next stop was the Bulova counter for me. The night before, I found a simple art-deco style watch on major discount. If there is one thing I cannot resist is a deal! And just my luck there were two watches of the style I wanted to try on left in the case. As soon as I put on the watch, I knew it was the one. It’s simple, glittery style sold me and of course, so did the price.

Bulova Watch

Both of the salespeople at Macy’s were wonderful and sized our watches accordingly. They didn’t pressure us, and were very accommodating letting us try on a few watches, compare, and take our time.

Now I just have to sit tight for my paper gift! We’ll be exchanging them on our actually anniversary in three days. I can’t wait :)


Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood Concert September 16, 2014


Here was my view on Friday night

Let me back up a little to tell you just how I ended up so close to Garth Brooks!  My sister Kate received two Garth Brooks tickets for her birthday from her boyfriend.  He decided he wasn’t as into the concert as I would be so she took me instead of him.  Garth was doing two concerts on Friday night and our tickets were for the 6pm show.  We arrived at the Rosemont and went upstairs to find our section (210).  We found it pretty quickly and gave our tickets to the usher standing in our area.  He told us we were in the front of our section, which would be a pretty good view.  While we were standing  there with him, he was telling us that there would be two encores and we should leave once Garth leaves the first time to avoid the crowds and traffic (um why would we want to leave early!?) a different man dressed in all black wearing some sort of badge came up and slipped two tickets into the usher’s hands and told us the tickets were for us.  We were very confused and as the man walked away the usher informed us that we just received front row seats!  We called after the man and said what is this for!? All he would say is that they were for us and we should enjoy ourselves.  The usher told us to go down to the first level and we would be shown where to go.  We looked at each other in shock and hurried downstairs.  We had to go through a couple of ushers before we made it to the front row.  We were in so much shock we were both shaking, but of course we managed to get a picture of us and the stage.

gb2As we got settled in our new seats, we heard people around us talking and soon we figured out that the first three rows were filled with people who had been gifted tickets once they arrived.  Turns out that Garth doesn’t sell his first three rows of seats.  He gives tickets to his employees and they go around beforehand and hand out tickets randomly!  I thought that was pretty cool of him because he could probably charge a few hundred for those seats and instead he gives them away.  While we were waiting we also learned that because we were in the 1st row, we’d be able to approach the stage!  As soon as the opening act came out (Karyn Rochelle) all of us looked at each other and then jumped up and proceeded to spend the whole concert dancing and singing up at the edge of the stage.


Of course I loved hearing all of GB’s classics, but one of the highlights for me was when Tricia Yearwood arrived on stage.  I have very fond memories of my mom singing her songs and their singing sounded very much alike.  When she came out, I swear she smiled straight at me and Kate and waved.  Then when she played our favorite song from when we were kids (She’s in Love with the Boy circa 1991) we freaked out!  Actually we used to call it the ‘Katie and Tommy Song’.  If you are familiar with it, Trisha sings about a young couple named Katie and Tommy.  We used to sing this at the top of our lungs and laugh because my sister Katie had a boy Tom in her class and we thought the song should be about them.

Garth was so full of energy and we knew most every song he played which was a plus.  Even though we were picked at random, I was surprised to see that all the people in the front were singing all the lyrics to his songs.  I think it shows what a legend Garth is.  His songs date back into the 90’s and people of many ages still know all the words.  He said something to this effect at one point and was trying to tell us a story about the ‘talk show host with suspenders and big glasses.’ Kate yelled out ‘Larry King!’ and Garth said oh yeah Larry and told the rest of the story.  We also heard later on from some people we knew at the concert that we kept showing up on the jumbo screen.  Lord knows what we looked like screaming, singing, and dancing our hearts out, but being at the front just makes you feel way more involved.   Kate said it best, we are spoiled now and can’t imagine being anywhere but the front row at a concert from here on out.  So thank you Garth for spoiling us and here’s to being in the right place at the right time!



Too Many Tomatoes September 10, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Lately there has been a growing problem in the Hein household. Too many tomatoes! Our garden is delivering a new tomato every day. In addition to our spectacular crop, my parents’ tomato garden  is producing at least 3 tomatoes every day. Combined, that’s a lot of tomatoes. So many that I’ve started pawning them out to friends, neighbors and co-workers!

Fresh Tomatoes

This weekend I carved out two hours dedicated to using up at least two pounds of tomatoes. How? Homemade marinara sauce. I found a recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook that I was able to modify to use up the majority of my tomatoes.

Here is my modified recipe:

  • 2- 2 ½ lbs of whole fresh tomatoes (instead of 2 14.5 herbed diced tomatoes) 
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoon pre-chopped garlic (instead of 8 gloves chopped garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (instead of 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (new addition since I like parsley)
  • 2 teaspoon pepper (one more teaspoon that the original recipe because we like pepper)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

First dice up your onion, then your tomatoes. This way your chopping board doesn’t get full of tomato juice. I unfortunately, did tomatoes first and had to do a little cleaning before I was able to cut the onion.

Dicing Up Tomatoes


You want the whole tomato so don’t get rid of the seeds or the “guts”. Place diced tomatoes in a large pot. Add in the diced onion and remaining ingredients. Heat to a boiling and then reduce to low. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Let cool before placing in storage containers to refrigerate or freeze.

The Final Product!

The Final Product!

The result? I’m well stocked for pasta sauce. Now I just have to figure what else to make in bulk with the remaining tomatoes! Any recommendations?


Renegade Regulars September 9, 2014

fair 2This weekend I attended the Renegade Craft fair.  It’s always a fun time although I must say it is always blazing hot!  I thought we would luck out because the forecast was in the 70’s, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so it was pretty toasty.  At least it didn’t storm on us.  I went with my friends Tom & Kim, their little girl, and Karla.  We drove down in the morning and had some fancy breakfast and then headed over to Division St. for the fair.  We walked around the entire fair which consisted of 300+ booths stretching between Damon and Paulina Avenues.  I usually like to walk around the whole fair and then come back to purchase the items I still want, but there was a small print {Shawnax} that I was just in love with and bought immediately.  Plus it was only 5 dollars so I really couldn’t pass it up.  Tom & Kim picked up a cool Alice in Wonderland print for their little girl and Karla picked up a tree filled print for her and her husband.  Then I made Karla loop back around with me while I went back to buy a necklace I loved {by Diamonds are Evil (Isn’t this the best shop name?!} and three little succulents planted in a wine cork {by Lucid Design}!  The corks are also magnets which I can place up high so the kitties can’t destroy them.  I left the fair spending less than $50 dollars so I was pretty pleased with myself.

plants necklace


After all that walking and sweating in the sun we decided to make one more stop before heading back to the suburbs…Jeni’s Ice Cream.  Karla and I had never experienced it before, but Tom & Kim told us it was better than their old favorite {I won’t name any names}.  Once we arrived, I was in love with it just for the décor.  Little white marble tables with cute little metal stools and beautiful flower arrangements. White subway tile and industrial lamps.   Not to mention the whole menu is on a large chalk board containing so many unique flavors I had to order basics because I just couldn’t make a decision {surprise, surprise!}.  The small size includes two flavors and my choices were: ‘Milkiest Chocolate in the World’ and ‘Backyard Mint’.  I had mine on a plain cone and it cost $5.  I thought it was pretty reasonable considering the amazing flavor and to tell you the truth I thought it would cost more based on the line hanging out the door when we arrived.  A place that popular can charge whatever it wants right?  It was a lovely ending to the weekend and gave me some much needed steps which was a good bonus.


tables ice creams poster


One Busy Labor Day Weekend September 3, 2014

Friday, Matt and I went with our friends to Piqniq at Tinley Park’s First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre. This was our first time at Piqniq and we were not disappointed. Our first stop was the All-State tent for these awesome pictures.

Then it was off to catch Wild Cub at a side stage. Matt and I have heard them on Alt Nation and were excited to see them. Their show was really good, better than Local H. My vote is next time they should be on the larger stage. After Wild Cub, we endured Local H until  A.F.I. took the stage. Their sound was amazing. The lead singer was so clear and the rest of the instruments truly complimented him.  


30 Seconds to Mars blew me away. They were so good live, so much better than I expected! Their sound, graphics and crowd engagement were impeccable. You couldn’t help but follow Jared Leto when he said jump and smile when he popped up every now and then in the crowd instead of on stage. If they come back into town I am definitely seeing them again and getting a t-shirt!

The main headliner was Linkin Park and they took the crowd’s enthusiasm from 30 Seconds to Mars even further. Everyone was standing even people on the lawn, and were jumping up and down. They played a great mix of old and new songs catering to the wide variety of ages in attendance. My calves got one of their best workouts ever that night!

The next day we headed up to Union, Michigan to rest our calves on the beach. We took it easy playing games, bags, eating, boating, swimming, tubing and playing beach volleyball.



Even Porter got in on the fun. We had a blast talking with our friends and just relaxing in the sun. All in all it was one great weekend. Except for the day after. Matt and I forgot how much upper body strength you need to hold on to those tubes. I think we’re going to start a push-up routine once we can lift our arms over our heads without wincing…       



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