Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Lemon Bars April 22, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:28 pm
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Yesterday I was in a rare mood of procrastination. I did not want to write my blog post because I felt I had nothing to write about. There are a few projects I’d like to start but I’m holding off because of our house hunt. Thus my inspiration was running low. So instead of writing I baked. My procrastination got filled up with butter, flour and sugar and a little lemon.

One of Matt’s favorite desserts are lemon bars. Over the last few year’s I’ve modified a recipe from Betty Crocker to become a family favorite.

What you’ll need:

  • Oven heated to 350 degrees
  • 1 8 or 9-inch square pan
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 powder sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • All of the peel from a large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • an additional 2-3 tablespoons powder sugar

To start you’ll mix the flour, butter and powder sugar together. I start with adding the flour and powder sugar together and the cut the butter into smaller pieces. I use my hands to make sure the butter is mixed in well and not left in chunks. Pour the mixture into the square pan and press down firmly all around. Pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the crust starts to brown at the edges. When you take it out, there might be a few cracks but don’t worry, they’ll be covered up in the next part!

While the crust is baking, whip out your Kitchen Aid stand mixer or hand-held mixer. Beat the granulated sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice, baking powder, salt and eggs on high speed for about 3-5 minutes. The mixture will turn a lighter yellow and appear fluffy. Pour the liquid mixture on top of the hot crust. Bake for another 25-30 minutes until the liquid mixture has solidified.

Homemade lemon bars

Homemade lemon bars

Cool for at least one hour and dust with your extra 2-3 tablespoons of powder sugar. Enjoy and here’s to procrastination that tastes good!

 

HP Themed Party April 21, 2015

I usually write about projects I’ve done, recipes I’ve tried, or a goal I’ve accomplished, but today is about a party someone else planned.  All I did was attend and enjoy.  I was so impressed I just had to share it with you!

All the perfect elements for a Harry Potter themed party:

banner

Sorting Hat and House Banners

hodge

Floating Candles, Owlrey, and Butterbeer!

toliets

Toilet Décor

quid

Quiddich Beer Pong complete with a Golden Snitch

Last but not least good friends with awesome costumes!

Last but not least good friends with awesome costumes!

Two weekends ago I attended a 30th birthday party for two of my good friends.  Their husbands planned the whole thing complete with personalized Hogwarts letter and a train ticket serving as the invitations.  No detail was spared in all their planning.  Everywhere you turned there was another detail!  I couldn’t even capture everything.  I missed the train track tape leading from their house to the garage with a note that I had arrived at Platform 9 and ¾.  There was a closet labeled ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ and when opened had a spider hanging from the ceiling.  The ‘Room of Requirement was where everyone kept their coats.  There were also huge posters of the characters scattered on the walls. I was so impressed with it all.  If you ever plan a Harry Potter themed party, I hope you are able to use some of these ideas and Jeremy & Brandon thanks again for accepting us into Hogwarts!

 

Break Time at the Noon Whistle April 15, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:17 pm
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After taking last week off, I’m back! This past weekend Matt and I checked out a new brewery called Noon Whistle in Lombard. The establishment focuses more on session brews, which means there is not a lot of alcohol in the beer so you could theoretically drink more :). From the listing of nine beers on tap when we visited, the average ABV was around 5%. However, they did have one barleywine that weighed in at 10%.

When you first walk in, you can see the brewery operation as there are no walls dividing that area from the seating area. The place is a decent size with a few large tables and four person barrel tables as well as a bar. There is also a large garage door that can be opened to let in the nicer weather we are finally starting to experience. They don’t serve any food but on the weekends they do have a rotation of food trucks that stop by.

After reviewing the menu, we both decided on a tasting. The tasting included four four-ounce pours. I went with the lighter beer styles, including a saison, German Weiss, wit and Kolsch. Matt went for the IPA/darker ones, including a dubbel session, an IPA, the barleywine and pale ale. All of the beers were very easy to drink – no surprise since they were sessions.

Our samples from Noon Whistle

Our samples from Noon Whistle

We went on a Saturday evening around 8 p.m. and it filled up quickly. The place can be a little loud with a lot of people. Sometimes I felt like Matt and I were yelling during our conversation so we could hear each other. I think they next time we go back, we’ll try to go a little early and maybe bring a board game to pass the time as we drink our many beers.

 

Photobooth Backdrop April 8, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:47 am
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This past weekend I stood up as the maid of honor in one of my closest friend’s weddings!  I took the week before to help out with special projects and one of my favorites was a homemade photobooth.  To be fair there was no actual booth, but the other bridesmaids and I created a similar concept for a smaller cost than a traditional booth.  Here are the materials we used to put the backdrop together:photobooth

-Curtain Rod
-2 sets of curtains
-3M Hooks
-Two large pieces of tulle
-2 strands of Christmas lights
-paper pennants
-chalk marker
-twine
-safety pins

We researched a bunch of different options to be the backdrop to the photobooth.  There were PVC pipe structures, plywood structures, paper streamers, and a curtain setups.  We ended up choosing the curtain option because we thought it would be the simplest and still look professional.

First we had to measure the space we were allowed to use in the venue.  We decided on 5 feet across and 7 feet tall.  We were very lucky that they had no problem with us using 3M hooks on the wall.  We used three heavy duty hooks that were rated to hold 5 lbs each (two on each end and one in the middle). Definitely don’t want the whole thing falling on someone’s head!  We placed the curtains on the rod and hung the whole thing up on the hooks.  We started hanging the lights vertically up and down the curtain and used safety pins at the top to secure the wire in place.  I will note that this was the most time consuming part of the project.  Also because our Christmas lights were a green wire and we had a cream background we ended up flipping the whole thing around so the lights were behind the curtain.  If you had white wire it might have been okay to sandwich the lights between the curtain and tulle instead of at the back.  We draped the tulle over the top of the rod and arranged it at the floor in a bunch.  I was unsure if the tulle would be necessary, but in the end I think it made the look a little softer.  The last thing we added were the paper pennants.  I found these at Michaels and they look like a chalkboard although they are just paper.  We had purchased a chalk marker for the wooden sign you see pictured above and it was perfect for this.  I tried my best to design some chalkboard letters and wrote out their names and the year ahead of time.  When we were putting the photobooth together we used twine to string the pennants into two different strands and tied them to the ends of the curtain rods.  Then we stood back and hoped the lights would show up when it was dark.

We were lucky to be able to leave the booth set up in the space so we actually put it together at the rehearsal dinner and left it up for the wedding the next day.  When we were able to get into the room, we plugged in the lights and it looked amazing!  I could not get over how professional it looked.  The other bridesmaids had worked on procuring and crafting props for everyone to use for pictures.  Since the bride is American and the groom English, they had a lot of fun coming up with funny props to fit those themes.  Cowboy hats and crowns, flags and tea cups.  The list goes on and I think everyone had a ton of fun with all the choices available.  I was very glad the bride and groom asked for our help and we could create the vision they had for their big day!

photobooth 2backdrop

 

House Hunting Update April 1, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:30 pm
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Sorry to report, no awesome beer adventures this weekend. Instead it was full of packing and cleaning. Here’s a little recap of where we are at with our house hunt. We’ve toured about half a dozen homes with no luck at finding our first home. However, I will say we’ve learned so much. From seeing what types of projects we’re willing to take on to understanding the different types of mortgages and finding out what we’re comfortable compromising.Plus we’ve have enjoyed a moments of “you’ve got to be kidding me” like the one below.

House Hunting

To keep me off the listing sites, Matt recommended that I start to pack. Back in March my goal was to do one box a week. Well, I hadn’t even gotten started until last week. So I did a little catch up and packed all of our fine china and other items from our china cabinets. Thankfully we saved a lot of the wrapping and stuffing we received from all of our wedding gifts. (A special thanks to my mom and dad for letting us borrow their basement to store it!)

Inspired by my packing, I thought I might as well start deep cleaning a few rooms in the house. My rationale was that maybe the cleaning wouldn’t be so bad when we do actually move. First on my list was the refrigerator. A little vinegar and some elbow grease, and the old beauty was shiny once again! Next stop was the bathroom. Armed with my trusty vinegar again, as well as some bleach, it was time to kick some grout butt. To help with the teeny-tiny cracks and crevices I used a toothbrush. Best idea ever!

We’ll see what I get done this weekend, although I think I’m going to take a break from “major” cleaning efforts and just focus on a few more boxes. And keep your fingers crossed, we have a few more houses to look at next week!

 

Beer and Ice Cream the Best Combo Date Night March 25, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:46 pm
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Saturday night Matt and our friends Lei and Chris headed to Lagunitas TapRoom. We’ve been wanting to check out the brewery since it opened in January. The taproom is located just South of Ogden and North of Cermak, practically next door to the Cook County Courthouse.

With traffic heavy on 290, we simply jumped on Ogden and we were there in no time. We grabbed an excellent parking spot and headed inside. The entire building is gigantic, especially after visiting Penrose; everything seemed to be on steroids. We walked in and waited in line before we could head up stairs to be seated for food. While waiting, we were able to hit up the downstairs bar and grabbed a few beers. We only waited about 10 minutes before we were told to head on up.

Lagunitas Taproom

The restaurant is open seating. It was like a cross between Urban Chestnut’s Grove Brewery and Harpoon’s Boston Brewery. Tons of picnic tables lined an open space with a bar at one end and a stage at the other. When we walked in we were greated by a live band and quickly grabbed four open seats. Our meal started off with brisket topped nachos and a large pretzel with horseradish mustard. For the main course Lei and I both ordered the sandwich special, which was pulled pork with a side of coleslaw and chips. Chris got a burger and Matt got a sandwich with bacon, ham, cheese and pickles. Everything was delicious, including the beer!

My favorite part of the location is the restaurant is where it’s situated on the third floor. There is an observation deck, where you can sit and enjoy your food and overlook a lot of beer and the entire beer making process. The third floor also features walkways where you can overlook the process too. The night we went, we were treated to watching some of the crew fill up quarter kegs.

Lagunitas Taproom

Between the beer, food, live music and good company, I’m sure we’ll be back again soon. But that’s not quite where the night ended.

Since we were already downtown, I figured we’d grab some dessert. And what better place than to check out Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s new store in Wicker Park?!?! Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea because we couldn’t find parking anywhere. So, I gave my order to Matt and parked with my flashers on. It was totally worth it. My order was a goat-cheese cherry that was fantastic. What better way to end a night than with delicious ice cream?

 

Chi-Irish for the Day March 18, 2015

IMG_2436[1]Observing Saint Patrick’s Day is probably one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in downtown Chicago. This year, Matt was finally able to join me and our friends in being “Chirish” for the day. On Friday night we decided to skip watching the Chicago River dyeing since it started at 9:15 a.m. meaning we’d have to be on a 7:30 a.m. train. And let’s be honest, that’s definitely not going to happen on a Saturday morning. Instead, we took an 11 a.m. Metra train into the city.

Our first destination was the Chicago River to take a few photo next to the “green” river. I was surprised to see that the dye didn’t reach as far west as it had in past years. By the time we arrived it was barely under the State Street bridge compared to reaching past Wells Street even last year. Once our pictures were taken, we walked to our main destination – the Hard Rock Cafe.

Matt and I grabbed a corned beef sandwich on marble rye as soon as we got there.  Within a few moments they were both gone. Probably from a combination of being very hungry and simply eating a delicious lunch. With food in our bellies we were ready to start dancing to The Hat Guys. The band is always there to play our favorite pop songs from the 80’s and 90’s. This year we stayed later than usually and were treated to a performance by the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band. You can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without bagpipes.

As the afternoon went on, a few more friends stopped by and I even ran into an old co-worker. By the time 5 p.m. rolled around our voices where going and we figured it was time to head home. As you can see, there is no surprise why the The Hard Rock Cafe has become the destination of choice over the last five years on St. Patrick’s Day. There is no cover, good music, green beer reasonably priced, it’s a great place to meet up with friends and they a decent food menu. Oh, and of course amazing live music.

All and all another great St. Patrick’s Day for the books!

 

 
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