Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

DIY – Kitchen Shelves July 16, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 9:02 pm
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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.


Frank Lloyd Wright House in Rockford July 7, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 3:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

This past weekend while celebrating the Fourth of July, my husband Eric and I went out to Rockford to visit with his family. Eric’s sister came into town with her husband and two little girls (adorable, I might add!). To give Mama a little fun during the day, the girls and I went out to a newly opened Frank Lloyd Wright house that was built in Rockford. The special thing about this house is that it was built for a man who was not only a US Veteran (thank you all for your service), but was in a wheelchair due to a spinal tumor discovered after he returned from overseas. He wrote Frank Lloyd Wright a letter with his needs and desires and the two sparked a friendship that lasted their lifetime. The entire house is fit for someone in a wheelchair, which made for some interesting characteristics. The house was built around 1956.

Some of the unique characteristics included small, narrow window in the front of the house (for privacy) and huge beautiful open windows in the back to interconnect nature with the home. In the corners of the house, the windows actually came in to allow for planters to fit in the corner. Additionally, all seating was very low so that the frequent guests of the house (people who wanted to see FLW’s work) would be at the level of the owner, who sat in a wheelchair. What a fun experience to see a unique home that was so progressive for the times!





Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderlion July 2, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 9:49 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

A few weeks ago I wanted to make a special dinner for Matt’s belated birthday. Knowing that he wouldn’t mind grilling, I went straight to the latest edition of Cooking Light. The July edition has a great meal plan for camping and one meal imparticular stood out. It was pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin with cantaloupe-red pepper salsa. Sounds pretty tasty right? Well it totally was!

My first step was the salsa. I wanted to make it ahead of time so the flavors could meld together. About one hour before we started grilling I was dicing up the cantaloupe and red pepper. Once the salsa was done it was time to prep the tenderloin. Our only recommendation was to sear the pancetta on the pork for a minute on each side before fully cooking the tenderloin. The meal was amazing. The pork stayed so tender and the pancetta crunched up nicely for a great mix of textures. The salsa was a fun twist on the normal pico de gallo and I loved the fresh fruit. Plus it looks so pretty.

If you’re looking for an easy summer grilling recipe, look no further. Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious dish adapted from the July 2014 issue of Cooking Light Magazine. For the meat:

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin trimmed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 6-8 thin slices of pancetta

Steps – Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Make sure pork is dry by patting it with paper towels. season pork tenderloin lightly with salt and generously with pepper (or to your taste). Then wrap the pancetta tightly, overlapping slightly.

Pancetta wrapped pork tenderlion

Ready to Grill!

Sear all sides for about a minute first and then for about 18 minutes total turning occasionally. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing. For the salsa:

  • 1 cup chopped cantaloupe
  • ½ cup chopped red pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion (we just used white onion b/c I forgot to pick up a red one)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeno pepper OR ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (I might have forgotten the jalapeno too….)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Steps – chop all fruits and vegetables accordingly and mix in a medium bowl. Be sure to mix well and the cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.

The Finished Product

The Finished Product



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