Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Tough Mudder vs. 2.0 May 13, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:22 pm
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This weekend my husband participated in his second Tough Mudder in Richmond, Illinois. Last year there were just three of them but somehow this year they convinced another two guys to join their team. We drove up at 8 a.m. to the border of Wisconsin to meet up with the rest of the team.

A week before, the ladies chatted and divided up items to bring. I’ve learned to wear layers. It’s early spring and the morning starts off cool but can heat up quickly by the afternoon. Plus, as repeat spectators, we’ve learned to pack just a few items for ourselves and our husbands.

Tough Mudder

Recommended Spectator List

  • Snacks – granola bars, pretzels, apples, carrots
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking or sturdy gym shoes (do not wear flip flops!)
  • Rainjacket – wear layers!
  • Hat
  • First aid kit
  • A small backpack to carry everything

Recommended Participant List

  • Extra set of clothes
  • Extra pair of shoes
  • Large trash bags
  • Towels
  • Mudder headband(s)
  • Wear a form fitting shirt
  • ID

The guys completed all of the obstacles and about a dozen miles together in about four hours. It was fun to cheer them on and the other participants. I give major props for anyone who participates in a Tough Mudder. I don’t think I’ll ever give it a go, I’ll stick with a 5K or two and call it a day!

 

Rent The Runway Review May 12, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:21 pm
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I want to tell you guys about a service that I tried out called Rent the Runway.  I’m not being paid to write about them.  I was just so pleased about my experience I had to share!  I heard some chatter about it so I thought I’d check it out.  I started out by looking at their website.  Here is how they describe themselves:

Rent the Runway is a fashion company with a technology soul. Powered by a transformative business model, proprietary technology, a unique reverse-logistics operation and some of the smartest people on earth, we’re in a position to challenge old systems and rewrite new rules. By giving people access to remarkable luxury experiences, we’re changing the meaning of ownership — and revolutionizing retail in the process.

Here is why it was a no brainer for me:

  • Since I’m not paying full price to keep the dress, I can look at options that normally wouldn’t be an option for me
  • I won’t be guilted into wearing a dress to multiple events in order to justify the purchase
  • I can rent two sizes at a time (for no extra cost) so I won’t need to be worried about not trying it on ahead of time
  • Vitual process is less exhausting than physically searching through racks and racks of dresses
  • Can plan ahead or find something last minute

Rather than just telling you why I think it’s a smart move, I thought I’d also share my experience with you.  I went on their website and created an account.  This allowed me to create a ‘shortlist’ (think similar to a Pinterest board) for different occasions.  I was searching for a dress to wear to my friend’s rehearsal dinner so I named it ‘HP Rehearsal.’  You enter in the date of the event and then can search by size, occasion, price, length, color, trend, body type, sleeve, neckline, age, style, and or designer.  I love being able to narrow the search so much.  I started my search by date to be sure not to fall in love with a dress that wasn’t available when I needed it.  I took my time ‘hearting’ dresses for a few weeks before choosing one.  Once I finally made a decision, I was able to choose 2 sizes (for no extra charge) and place the order.   I signed up for the PRO Account which pays for itself if you rent twice in one year.  It costs $29.95 and covers shipping and insurance on all orders for one year.  It also provides a free rental on your birthday.  I placed my order and waited for the special day to arrive!

I had arranged for the dress to arrive a day before my event.  It actually ended up being delivered on the day of the event.  This made me a little nervous which prompted me to call their customer service team and request an extra day of rental and it was granted to me!  When I opened the box I was pleasantly surprised to see a free sample of Aveeno lotion along with the garment bag.  I wasn’t sure what the packaging would entail and thought the bag was a fancy touch!  The first one I tried on fit like a glove and I was very relieved my plan worked out because I was not excited about my backup dress.  Even if it didn’t fit, Rent The Runway has a ‘Fit Guarantee’ where if neither of the dresses sent fit they will try to send you an alternative in time for the event or give you a credit.  I really don’t see how you can lose here?!

rent 1
rent 2

I wore the dress to the rehearsal and since I had earned an extra day with the dress, I ended up wearing it on Easter Sunday too.  Monday I placed the two dresses (no garment bag or hangers) into the pre-labeled UPS envelope provided and threw it in a UPS drop-off bin.  The whole process from ordering to returning was incredibly easy and I will be doing it again this year.  In fact I booked a trip to Vegas for my birthday and I think that would be the perfect occasion to rent for.

 

Beer Tasting Recap April 29, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:06 pm
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Throughout the year, our beer friends will get together about 3-5 times to try a wide variety of beers. This past Saturday we had the privilege to host a tasting. Even with the weather not cooperating, we were still able to grill, drink a wide variety of beer and enjoy excellent company.

Here’s how our tastings work. Usually a few days before we make a note of who is bringing what to eliminate any duplicates. On the day of, everyone breaks out their bottles and we create a line-up. Starting with the lighter beers and ending either with the “whales” or pallet crushers. At this past tasting here was our line-up:

  1. Devoir Saison from Penrose
  2. A cider called Mitten from Virtue
  3. Maria’s Tears from Marz Community
  4. La Beire Fantaisie from Side Project
  5. Cuve Diable from 4 Hands
  6. Black Angel Cherry Sour from Wicked Weed
  7. Goose Island Grimm Vicar
  8. 2014 Bourbon County Barleywine
  9. Madagascar from 4 Hands
  10. Downfall from 4  Hands
  11. Black Ops from Brooklyn Brewery
  12. Fyodor’s Classic from Stone
  13. 2014 Bourbon County Stout Proprietor’s from Goose Island
  14. Elevated IPA from La Cumbre
  15. Imperial Red from Marble
  16. Serenity from Wicked Weed
  17. Big Hugs Imperial Coffee Stout from Half Acre
  18. Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza from Rio Grande

BeerTasting

There’s nothing better than trying samples of beer with your friends. It’s a great opportunity to sample a few rarer beers and to try out different styles. For this tasting we had a few sours but mostly stouts and barleywines. I will say, I did try everything, even if it was just a sip. This allowed me to confirm that I do not like sours but I do like stouts and a few barleywines. And since we do such small pours, sometimes you get lucky and can get a second round of your favorite.

From this tasting my top three favorites were the Bourbon County Stout Proprietors from Gooseland followed by the Mitten cider from Virtue and then Downfall by 4 Hands. They are all delicious. Now I just have to wait for the next tasting!

 

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

 

 
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