Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Learn to Use my Telescope… Check! January 12, 2015

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 2:41 pm
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I crossed another goal off the list of 2015, which makes me feel quite accomplished. With the help of my very smart husband, we assembled my telescope, read the materials and used it. It. Was. Awesome.

So here’s the backstory: I grew up with a fascination of the stars. I rarely saw them though because my parents live so close to Chicago that there was a lot of light pollution. When I went to school in Oxford, Ohio, I’d walk the entire way home from parties looking up at the sky excited that I could see so many stars, so I decided to minor in Astro-Physics. And just to be clear, that’s Astronomy, NOT Astrology. Astronomy is physics based. I have no clue if a Gemini and an Aquarius are a good love match (Actually, that’s not true, I happen to have heard recently from a friend that they are one of the best love matches), but I digress. So I’ve been asking my parents for a telescope on my Christmas List for about 10 years and this year… I got one!

Assembling my telescope was pretty easy, most of the work was getting the rotating base set up. Then we had to add springs to keep it from falling over and breaking the mirror inside. It took us about 30 minutes. I also did some reading up on how to take care of the telescope, use it, and how to get the best results.

Tip One: First and foremost, everyone should know that you should absolutely never look at the sun through a telescope unless you have a sun filter. It can cause serious damage to your eyes. I think most people know this, but I felt obligated to mention it.

Tip Two: One thing that I learned that I didn’t know, was that for best viewing, you have to let your telescope acclimate to the temperature. For every 40 degree temperature difference from your house to outside, it needs to rest outside for 30 minutes. So with our freezing temperatures, my telescope had to sit outside for over an hour before I could use it!

Tip Three: The telescope came with two eye pieces, a 25mm and a 10 mm. The 10 mm is the one that lets you see up close. The best way to use it though is to first use your sight scope to get your telescope pointed at what you want to see. In our case, we looked at the huge bright moon. Then you start with the 25mm eye piece to zero in. Once focused, you can swap in your 10 mm if you really want to see it up close. Things are way too hard to find if you start with your 10mm!

Tip Four: The last piece of information I’ll share is how to know if it’s a good night for viewing. One thing to check is to look at the stars above the horizon. If they appear to “twinkle” then it is not a good night to view the stars. The best viewing happens overhead, but check those stars about 40 degrees above the horizon. Twinkling is not good in this case. You can also check the star Megrez, which is the star in the “Big Dipper” that connects the handle to the scoop (pictured below). If you can see that star well, you’ll get some great visibility.

Our moon looked pretty awesome through the telescope. You could see the surface very clearly and it was fun to have a nighttime activity. I can’t wait to use my telescope on a warmer evening and I can’t wait to see some other cool stuff! I’m also experimenting with how I can hook my camera up to take pictures. When I get some, I’ll be sure to share. In the meantime, I’m always looking for suggestions on what else I should look at!

Big Dipper


Making My Bed – Check! January 5, 2015

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 2:10 pm
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The year is off to an outstanding start and I can’t be happier with my list of aspirations for 2015. I’m even off to a great start with making my bed every day. This was one of the aspirations I mentioned being really nervous about doing because I didn’t think I could stick with it. Now granted we are only 5 days into the New Year, but I am boasting a 100% record on achieving this goal… and it is AMAZING.

Before any of you say it… Yes, I am a huge dork. And yes, I may be overly excited about making my bed, but I got this idea from a Gretchen Rubin book (many of you know that I am a huge fan of hers) and I also did a little bit of research to back up my thoughts behind this aspirations. Did you know that “71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy. Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired. All in all, bed makers are happier and more successful than their rumple-sheeted peers.” I got this particular information from Psychology Today.

And you know what the crazy part is? I am happier when our bed is made. It makes it more inviting to sit on and read a book, my room feels cleaner and more spacious, I start out every morning feeling more accomplished AND when I go to bed at night, the sheets are nice and organized, so I sleep better. All in all, I’m happy I made this resolution and I am proud to say that I am keeping it so far.

How has your year started off? Are you sticking with your resolutions? Do you make your bed every morning?


2015 Aspirations December 29, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 11:58 am
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I’m back on the wagon – at least in the sense that I am once again copying Kelly’s awesome idea of creating a list of 30 Goals for the year 2015!

2015 is going to be a crucial year in my life, especially when it comes to my health and happiness. As some of you may know, I was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. RA is an auto-immune disease that affects more women than men and symptoms can creep up at any age, though they often creep up between the ages of 30 and 60. I won’t get too into it, but if you’re interested in reading more about RA, check out the Arthritis Foundation. Though I think I have been handling this news and the initial treatment pretty well, I consider my RA to be a huge inconvenience. It’s also a great motivator to be more conscientious of my health and happiness… so a lot of my goals this year will reflect a shift in my extra-curricular activities.

I hear making the bed on a daily basis plays a crucial role in overall happiness… though I’m a bit nervous about sticking with it. Did you make resolutions this year?

  1. Get healthy – cut back on bad foods/drinks and eat cleaner, get RA under control
  2. Golf a round with less than 10 strokes per hole
  3. Finish staining the cabinets in the kitchen and laying the tile at the fireplace
  4. Learn to use my new telescope
  5. Take more photos of friends and family, get them printed and organized
  6. Attend/Participate in a charity event for rheumatoid arthritis or auto-immune diseases
  7. Be more affectionate, tell/show people how I feel
  8. Read at least 12 books
  9. Go someplace I’ve never been before
  10. Save more money and invest some of it in stocks
  11. Attend Zumba, Yoga or some sort of class at least twice per month
  12. Do something that takes me out of my comfort zone
  13. Surprise 3 people with a thoughtful gift or hand written letter
  14. Learn how to use my camera in MF mode and take at least 1 amazing photograph
  15. Conquer a fear
  16. Do something kind for a complete stranger
  17. Keep a journal
  18. Buy a helmet and ride my bike instead of driving
  19. De-clutter our home. Anything not used within a year gets tossed or donated
  20. Make our bed every day
  21. Go to a sporting event
  22. Take a vacation
  23. Laugh and smile more – Be Happy and be contagious
  24. Get rid of the shoes – sell or donate them all
  25. Join the AMA
  26. Do something touristy in Chicago
  27. Do a spa day and don’t feel guilty about it
  28. Build a snowman
  29. Try a new recipe for vegetables each month
  30. Live in the present. Don’t wish away week days.

The Cheapest Round of Golf You’ll Find in the NW Suburbs August 25, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 4:13 pm
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So it turns out we live close to an awesome little 5 Hole Golf Course located in Barrington, IL and we had no idea! We believe the course is owned and operated by the Barrington Park District, but I can’t say for sure. If a volunteer is not collecting money/donations ($10 non-residents, $8 residents of Barrington), they leave an Honor Box out for you, so you can still be a good person and contribute to keeping this little course going.

So the course consists of 5 Holes. Your payment buys you two rounds though, so you’re actually playing a Round of 10 Holes. The course is well maintained, especially considering the price, though the “Rough” is quite rough and the Greens are a wee bit slow (OK, really slow, but hey!). Also of note: the holes are great for practicing on some Par 3’s, but the longest hole is only 200 yards. Don’t let this little course fool you though, Hole’s 1 and 5 have quite a few trees, which always seem to get in the way!

Hole 1   Hole 3

Anyway, Eric and I have been going every weekend since our discovery of this neat little place because it’s super casual (you can literally wear whatever you want), cheap, and a great way to practice our golfing. Eric’s even birdied – twice! If you’re in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago and looking for a relaxed and fun place to golf (it’s a great place to take beginners or kids to learn!), you should check it out!



Kate Dabkey Shoes – Clearance August 18, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 11:39 am
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I have bittersweet news. As you may know from my bio, I started my own company in 2009 where I design and sell fabulous women’s shoes. They exude confidence, ambition and class and I am proud to have my name on them. The shoes are handmade overseas and use high quality materials to keep the shoes comfortable and clean. I’ve worn all four pairs around town for years and they are some of my favorite shoes.

So here’s the bitter part: Kate Dabkey Shoes is clearancing ALL Shoes. The inventory needs to move out and our doors are shutting. We’re in the process of updating prices on the website, but plan to get a pair in your size before they’re gone for good! It is always an honor to attend an event and see someone wearing a pair of my shoes and I hope you will love them as much as I do!

Here’s the sweet part: it’s time to start a new venture. Though I had a wonderful time designing shoes, it’s time to try something new and different. I don’t know what it is yet, but when I do, I will certainly let everyone know. Thanks for all of your love and support. It’s been wonderful!

Here is a link to the website: http://katedabkeyshoes.com. Look for pricing and inventory changes this week!



Crabmeat Quiche August 4, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 1:14 pm
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So I don’t have a ton of time to write a long post today, but I did want to share one of my most favorite recipes from one of my favorite people. My Aunt Alie made this crabmeat quiche for a large group of my extended family years ago. Alie is quite the chef and I always love when she cooks because I know it will be delicious (and there will be plenty!) So when I tasted this absolutely unique but absolutely delicious quiche, I begged her to share the recipe. She has graciously shared it with me and I have since made it for as many people that will let me. So I’ve been asked to pass this recipe on… so now I am sharing it with you. It’s certainly become a staple in our household and I hope you enjoy it! (PS – don’t be weirded out that it’s crab meat in a quiche… it’s absolutely delish!)

It doesn’t get much easier than this!!!

1/3 cup chopped scallions (green onions), use white part only.

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup milk

4-5 medium egges

10 oz or 1 package of shredded swiss cheese

1 can crabmeat

1 can sliced mushrooms

1 frozen deep dish pie crust (Pet Ritz or a store brand, but deep dish)

Mix everything altogether and put in pie crust. Bake on 350 for 45 minutes to one hour. It is done when you put a butter knife in the center and it comes out clean.


Painting a Brick Fireplace July 14, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 10:59 am
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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



Frank Lloyd Wright House in Rockford July 7, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 3:22 pm
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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!





Luxurious Grass June 30, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 1:46 pm
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This past weekend, Eric and I decided to take on one of the larger projects on our list of improvements for our house… ripping out what we have been fondly referring to as, “The Weed Garden” or on occasion, “Oakley’s Poop Patch” and instead putting in some grass and flowers. Though it is a small area, it was a ton of work and took us several hours to complete.

First, we had to rip out the weeds. Eric started with a weedwacker to make it a little more manageable.

After the weeds were wacked.

After the weeds were wacked.

Then we had to till the dirt. This helped us get the bulbs from the ground cover out, as well as pulling all the roots from the weeds. Tilling is also important for when we put your grass down, it has some soft ground to grow its roots.

Edging around the tree and tilling the dirt

Edging around the tree and tilling the dirt

Last, we went to our favorite store in the whole world, The Home Depot and bought some sod, which is surprisingly cheaper than I thought. We also picked up some callalilies to add a punch of color. An interesting note: callalilies will die over the winter in this climate, so we’ll have to dig them out in the fall and replant the bulbs in the spring. In the end, the hard work was worth it… and Oakley approved of the changes. While she was rolling around the luxurious grass, she even said, “Thanks Mom and Dad! I didn’t even know I wanted this grass patch here, but I’m so happy you did this all for me!”

Yay Luxurious Grass!

Yay Luxurious Grass!


Aw Skeet Skeet! March 24, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 8:43 pm
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Skeet Shooting

After a round of skeet!

On my list for March is to learn something new and boy did I last weekend!

I recently changed jobs and now work as a Marketing Manager at a Country Club. Our country club is amazing too, not only for working there as an employee, but also to see what kinds of fun activities we offer our members. One of the coolest things about our club is that we’re the only place in this part of Chicagoland that allows you to legally fire a gun… at our skeet shooting range!

Below is the definition of skeet shooting from Wikipedia:

Skeet shooting is a recreational and competitive activity where participants, using shotguns, attempt to break clay disks automatically flung into the air from two fixed stations at high speed from a variety of angles.

Now I realize that this may seem like a man’s sport, but I still had to give it a whirl, so I went to our last day of the skeet season (golf starts soon!) and took a couple lessons. Here are some of the things I learned that I didn’t know:

  • When skeet shooting, you fire a shot gun. No worries about hitting houses on the golf course though because the “bullets” only travel about 50 yards.
  • Normally when you a fire a gun, you close one eye to get better aim, but in skeet shooting, you keep both eyes open because you need your peripheral vision and depth perception to hit a moving target.
  • A round of skeet includes 25 shots. Targets come from a high house and low house. Turns out, I can only hit targets that come from the high house, no matter which platform I’m standing on in the range.
  • At some stations, you yell “Pull” for each target, at others, more than one come flying out. Ahhh!

Overall, I had a great time learning a new activity, and I didn’t do too bad either – 10/25 targets, all high house! I’d certainly give it a try again and recommend it to anyone, guy or girl.

Ever tried an activity that scared you at first, but turned out to be pretty cool after you tried it?



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