Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Northwoods Get-Away Recap June 17, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 6:44 pm
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This past weekend Matt and I packed up my Escape, for our second get-away to the northwoods of Wisconsin. Our agenda was quite simple: a little work and have a lot of fun.

Work consisted of mowing the lawn, finish staining a lower portion of a new kitchen cabinet and cleaning. The fun part included exploring a new brew pub, going to our favorite breakfast place and visiting a well known Wisconsin brewery.

The new place we’re happy to add to our favorites list is Aqualand Ale House in Boulder Junction. The brew pub boasts their own four specialty beers as well as a nice mix of craft beer from the Midwest. Matt and I both ordered flights and a few appetizers. Their homebrews and food were delicious. My favorite brew was a cream ale, which we ended up getting a grumbler of to take home. We had a great time talking to the bartenders and are already planning to visit them again in a few weeks.

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Flight sampler at Aqualand

If we’re only up for a few days or a week, we always make sure to enjoy a breakfast at Cafe Holiday located in Hazlehurst. My parents discovered this gem a few years ago and it has become a family staple. Matt always orders a full biscuits and gravy breakfast meal served with two eggs. And for me, it’s the stuffed cranberry-apple french toast with a side of hashbrowns extra crispy. My mouth is already watering from writing about it.

Our last favorite stop took place on the drive home. Often we’ll stop in on the way up or down in the little Swiss town of New Glarus, Wisconsin, home to New Glarus Brewery. Once we arrived at the brewery, Matt literally jumped out and headed straight for the beer depot to see if any of the recent brown sours were still available. Luck was on his side because they were! With our haul secured we ventured out to enjoy a Belgian Red straight from the tap on the patio with Porter. Best rest stop ever.

Porter hanging out on the patio at New Glarus Brewery

Porter hanging out on the patio at New Glarus Brewery

We’ll be back up north in another few weeks for much of the same. A little work and a lot of fun. I think that’s going to be my new motto for the summer.

 

Checking out St. Charles and Geneva June 10, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:04 pm
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On Saturday Matt and I headed west to Geneva for a night out and to meet up with my cousin. We started off our evening at Stockholm’s brewery located right in downtown Geneva. We had no trouble finding street parking nearby the restaurant. Once we arrived at Stockholm’s we were immediately greeted and asked where we wanted to sit. Matt and I both agreed to enjoy our meal out on the back patio.

Our meal started off with the scallop appetizer and a beer sampler. The appetizer was great, a hint of lemon, light greens and deliciously cooked scallops. The beer did not live up to the same standards sadly. For our main meals Matt ordered a beef tenderloin salad piled high with blue cheese, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. He was in heaven. I ordered the shrimp taco platter. My plate was filled edge to edge with rice, sour cream, pico de gallo salsa, lettuce, sliced avocado and of course three shrimp tacos. All in all our dinner was great but we wouldn’t go back for the beer. As soon as we finished our meal we met up with my cousin and headed out for our next stop.

We got back in the car and headed north to Saint Charles. Our destinations was the House Pub located right behind the Arcadia Theatre. My cousin warned us that their beer selection was massive and hand-written on a huge chalkboard wall behind in the bar. And she was not kidding. All of us spent about 5 minutes going through the menu trying to decide what we wanted. With our orders of good beer in hand, we grabbed a table and settled in for the evening. Just after the Hawk’s game ended a live jazz band started playing. They had a fun funky sound but it was very loud. A little after 10:30 we all called it quits because we were losing our voices trying to talk over the music.

All in all a nice little visit out to the western suburbs. We both really enjoyed Geneva and St. Charles so I foresee a few more outings this summer. If anyone has any other recommendations let me know!

 

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!

 

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!

 

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.

 

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!

 

 
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