Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

The Mile High City June 18, 2014

The Mile High city of Denver was my home over the weekend. Matt and I flew in to visit fellow Uncharted author Sarah. We had a “loose” itinerary for our visit. Meaning, we had a few things we’d like to do but we didn’t have to do all of them.

Denver Capitol building

Denver Capitol building

Sarah picked us up from the airport and we headed straight for the Capitol building tour. The free tour explained the history about Denver as well as fun facts about the beautiful building. One fun fact is that the building is the only one in the world with beautiful rose onyx. Why? Because the quarry was wiped out to use all the onyx for the Capitol building!

Keeping with the tour theme, our next stop was Stranahan’s distillery tour. Once again we learned a lot of fun facts that none of us knew about whiskey. For example, did you know that to be considered an American whiskey, the distillery must use virgin American white oak barrels? And they can only be used once. Our tour guide was awesome and explained their process as well as how to properly taste whiskey. I learned with a little drop of water I can actually tolerate it!

Where whiskey is made

Where whiskey is made

Running ahead of schedule, we stopped in at Breckenridge Brewery for a few beers and to catch up. Before we knew it, dinner time arrived. We headed to the heart of downtown Denver, Larimer Square. My sister-in-law recommended Bistro Vendome from a previous trip. The French style restaurant was amazing! Our waitress was very knowledgeable and made recommendations for our meal. My favorite part of dinner was not only the incredible food but our adorable table location right on the patio under the Italian style lights.

Friday was hike day in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes, Colorado. Everyone had a blast exploring different paths, bouldering and climbing over snow paths. Pretty quickly I found out it’s time to invest in some hiking shoes and not just gym shoes, at least if I wanted to play in the snow and not get my feet wet. The views were breathtaking at every turn. From seeing the mountain peaks to roaring falls you were not disappointed. We completed two hikes and then Sarah drove us up 12,000 feet to one of the highest peaks in the park. We were able to walk around despite the crazy wind and even caught a glimpse of a marmont.

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

Mountains!

Mountains!

Saturday we took it easy and hit up a few local breweries. On the brew stop list included Crooked Stave, a brewery known for its sour beer. The tap room is in The Source, a recently renovated building featuring restaurants, a florist, baker, cheese and sausage shop as well as a wine store and art gallery. We grabbed a few snacks from the bakery and cheese and sausage shop to enjoy with our beer while watching the World Cup. Our next brew stop was Prost. The German style brewery offered a great selection of beer as well as delicious warm pretzels with mustard horseradish. I almost forgot to mention their outdoor patio is dog friendly and has spectacular views of downtown Denver.

Beer anyone?

Beer anyone?

2nd brew stop

2nd brew stop

Pretty soon it was time to head over to the Red Rocks to enjoy the sounds of Phillip Phillips and O.A.R. The venue was AMAZING and so was the show. I kept looking around at scenery. From jagged stones leaping out of the ground to cute little valley towns off in the distance. The best was watching the sunset hit the rocks and turn them purple, amber, yellow and orange. Once darkness fell, it was beautiful to see an almost full-moon rising and the glow of the towns in the distance. If you head out to Denver, definitely try to catch a show!

The Red Rocks Venue

The Red Rocks Venue

Sunday was organize day. It was time to repack and of course go to brunch. Fellow Uncharted author Kelly visited Sarah and recommended going to Jelly. After a 50 minute wait we understood why so many people would put up with an hour wait. What helped was getting fresh donuts. We picked out maple bacon and lemon curd flavors. The donuts were warm and melted in your mouth. I had to hold back from ordering more! Once inside, I ordered an eggs benedict with spinach and turkey over artisan bread. It was scrumptious! My favorite part of the meal was the homefries served with a side of sour cream and chives. With a full belly it was time to say goodbye to Denver.

Brunch!

Brunch!

We accomplished a lot but we didn’t get to do everything on our itinerary which is a great reason to visit again!

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{a new} Home Sweet Home May 1, 2014

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 7:38 pm
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I’m so excited to share with you all that we are officially homeowners!  Yesterday, we closed on an adorable single family home in Denver.  Now I can finally start making all my Pinterest decorative dreams come true.  It’s tough living in rented units sometimes, because even though apartment living feels urban-chic, you can only do so much to an apartment to make it feel like home.  Often you are limited with painting, and you don’t want to bust your budget on furniture that may not be ‘forever’ furniture.  When we moved to Denver, Jonathan and I meshed some of our own things, and bought some new together.  We were limited to very specific couch dimensions that would fit our square-footage, and were stuck with the wall colors as they were.  We did the best we could, but I’m ready to move on.

What I’m excited for:

  • investing in some quality, classy, grown-up furniture pieces
  • picking paint colors
  • wood floors!
  • a backyard (grilling, gardening, sitting in the sun!)
  • hanging as many pictures and paintings as I want and not worrying about losing any of my security deposit for making the walls holey
  • starting fresh and mixing styles with fun new pieces and not trying to force old pieces to fit together
  • having an excuse to purge (let’s be honest, moving stinks, but it’s nice when it’s all over to have been forced to shred old bills and donate clothes you haven’t worn since you moved in)

Needless to say, I’m also looking forward to posting our progress as we do a few touch ups to our new home before we move in and as we continue to really make it ours.

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Colorado Fun February 24, 2014

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 9:05 am
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February – Explore

Travel to a place I’ve never been, Take a vacation, Plan camping trip for summer, Try something new

OK so I cheated a little when I made my goals list for this year – I already knew I was taking a trip to Colorado when I assigned this aspiration for February. But hey, I can cross some of these off my list! Eric and I took a vacation to visit my fellow blogger and dear friend Sarah last weekend. Eric had a milestone birthday and to celebrate, he requested we going skiing/snowboarding in Vail… which is a place I’ve never been! Vail is absolutely gorgeous and I would return in a second if I could. Though expensive, the little town is charming and wonderful, filled with delicious restaurants (Kelly Liken!!!!) and little shops. I also combatted being terrified of snowboarding down a real mountain (not like these little bunny hills we have in the midwest) and the fact that I am severely out of snowboarding shape. I’m pretty proud of myself, especially that I went back up after a pretty nasty fall on the first run.

I also learned two important lessons while on this trip… (1) I ride my snowboard “goofy,” which means my right leg is in front and (2) my husband is often right. Eric and I got in a disagreement about which way I ride while in the rental shop, Eric insisting I ride goofy and me insisting I ride with my left leg in front. The rental place listened to me and fit my bindings for riding “regular.” As soon as we got to the top of the mountain and I strapped on my board, I had the disheartening revelation that Eric was indeed right, and my bindings were the wrong way! Nevertheless, I made it down the mountain in one piece and we had a great time.

Vail, CO

We look the part!

Snowboarding

We also had the chance to visit Garden of the gods, somewhere I vaguely remember visiting as a child with my family. We broke a couple rules climbing on the rocks, but had a great time exploring and walking around. The cool thing about Garden of the gods is that it’s free, which we appreciated.

Garden of the gods

In the end, we had a great time and we can’t thank Sarah and Jon enough for being such wonderful hosts to us while we were out there! Anyone else forget which way they ride on a snowboard?

 

Rocky Mountain High November 6, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:57 am
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At the end of October Dave and I took a little trip out to Denver to visit our dear friends Jon and {fellow blogger} Sarah.  We have wanted to go for awhile, it’s been two years since I’ve been there and Dave hadn’t been since they moved out there.  On top of that it was Dave’s birthday weekend and we wanted to celebrate the last year of his youth (Haha, sorry honey I’m not sorry).  Our relationship with Jon & Sarah is special because not only are we friends as couples, but me and Sarah have been friends since 1st grade and Dave and Jon have been friends since 8th grade.   We always have a good time when we’re with them and our long weekend in Denver was no exception!   They were sweetheart hosts and fulfilled all our Denver expectations!  I’m going to take you through our itinerary and show you some pictures and perhaps one day if you are ever going to Denver you’ll go some of the cool places we went!

 

Day 1:

Arrive in Denver pretty late.  I am prepared with Claritin, Flonase, and plenty of water to ward off any altitude sickness I may have in store (last trip I was dizzy most the time).  This time I had really no issue except for a few minutes on a hike.

Day 2:

Slept in and headed over to a lovely place called Jelly in the Capital Hill neighborhood.  All I have to say is I loved every little bit of that place and I want a lemon custard donut now!  The atmosphere, the service, the food, it was all incredible.

jelly

We had a brief terrifying moment where a wasp the length of my wrist landed on me, but after Jon valiantly swiped him away we were off to Golden, CO the home of Coor’s Brewery!  I can’t lie.  I didn’t have high expectations for this place.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a huge beer drinker.  However it was a really cool tour and I can’t argue with the 3 free beers offered at the end.

coors

We made our way back to Sarah & Jon’s and soon it was time for dinner.  We were joined by our friend Stan and we all made our way over to Steuben’s.  They serve American classics and I really enjoyed the retro décor in there.  We hung out at a place called Ace afterwards that has ping pong tables you can rent (!) but the wait was super long and we were all a bit tired so we went home to rest up for the next day.

Day 3:

We ate a mini breakfast at the apartment and then headed out to Idaho Springs, CO to explore the little town and have a day at the Indian Hot Springs for Dave’s birthday.  The town was super cute and we explored some of the shops and then ate lunch at Tommy Knocker.  We hurried on over to the spa for our Jacuzzi reservation at 1 and got changed.  It was a nice setup, they had private hot tubs along the bottom of the mountain and we were assigned to the Zuni Bear tub.

idaho

We relaxed for about an hour and then made our way to the mud room where you basically apply mud to your body and then sit and wait for it to dry.  If it sounds boring you’d be wrong…it was highly entertaining watching everyone dry up and look like a weirdo.  We washed up, checked out the cave bath’s down under the building (creepy, but cool?) and then headed home to prepare for Dave’s birthday dinner at the Denver Chop House.  More friends joined us for dinner and we had a great time catching up and spending time together.

girls boys

It was the weekend to celebrate Halloween, and even though none of us dressed up we went out after dinner and enjoyed some dancing and people watching at Punchbowl.

Day 4:

We all slept in after out splendid night out and pulled ourselves out of bed for brunch at Syrup.  After we were all happily full (my pancakes had sausage patties inside them!) we decided to go on a hike to work off all the food and drinks!  Sarah researched a brand new State Park that opened earlier in the year called Staunton Park.  We headed over and proceeded to take in a lot of beautiful scenes.

nature

  The only downer is the lake the trail goes by is currently under construction so you don’t get to see a beautiful lake, but the rest made up for it!  We made our way back to Denver.  Stopped for an awesome Chinese dinner (we were all pleasantly surprised how good the food was) and had a beer at the Copper Kettle nearby.  We capped off the night with a movie- Dave put in a birthday request for Bad Grandpa.  It was okay but I really only laughed once or twice. ..

Day 5:

The last day we snuck in another breakfast at Syrup, but this time in downtown Denver, ran over to Great Divide so Dave could sample a beer from their tap room and then it was off to the airport to go home.  It’s always sad to say goodbye to our friends, but luckily we already know the next time we’ll see them.  That makes it a little easier and we were delighted to get to spend a few days with them in their town.  Thanks for all the hospitality!

 

Sew Fantastic November 27, 2011

The only things I had sewn before in my life (other than many loose buttons onto coats and shirts) were a pair of flannel pajama pants and a pillow in home economics class in junior high.  And let me tell you, those pajama pants were an embarrassment: they were wider than they were long (I honestly think I may have flip-flopped the pattern at some point during execution on accident).  I went on another and long anticipated sewing adventure a few weeks ago with my friend Krista.

This was another one of those coupon adventures through Living Social that we thought looked like a fun girls’ adventure.  It was at an adorable new shop in Denver called Fabric Bliss, where they not only teach sewing classes, but the adorable young woman who owns it sells vibrant and original fabrics for you to use in class or on your own.  She also teaches knitting classes, which may be something we could try down the line.

My station, all ready to get started!

We walked in and saw the bag we were supposed to make.  It was just a simple tote, but it was so well-made and modern looking that I immediately turned to Krista and confessed that I had zero confidence in my own ability to make mine match the sample.  But our instructor patiently proceeded through the project step by step, adding some comedic relief and a lot of compliments about our abilities in the mix (which really went a long way!), and slowly my bag started to look a lot better than I originally expected.

Taking this sewing class got me thinking about how nice it would be to have a sewing machine so I could follow patterns, create handmade home accents, and maybe even create some clothes and accessories for myself someday!  Therefore, immediately I knew a Brother sewing machine had to top my Christmas list.  My mom was excited to hear this, and I know she already ordered it online (some of you may argue that this isn’t fun that I already know what I’m getting, but I’m so excited about it that I will be dreaming about unwrapping it from now til Christmas, so I feel as though the ‘fun’ of it all will certainly not be lacking).  My mom loves to give gifts that can be used and keep giving, so she was thrilled to steal this item off my list.

I can’t wait to start creating more totes and lots of other projects.  I’m planning on taking a few more classes at Fabric Bliss too, because obviously after only one I haven’t completely shed my fear of recreating those flannel pajama pants that I still have nightmares about.  But the sewing thing is a new endeavor that I can’t wait to continue to explore!

My finished product, I was so proud!

 

Denver Recap October 11, 2011

I had such a lovely trip to Denver!  I just came back today and wanted to share some of my adventures.  For starters I have to give my thanks to Karla and her trusty dude/valet for providing me with a ride {and luggage service} to the airport.  They were so kind to do it, especially when we saw the traffic they’d have to endure on the way home.  Thanks again guys!  I arrived in Denver kinda late on Thursday night and Sarah & Jon picked me up.  On the way back to their place I got to see the red eyed evil Bronco who killed its creator and some fun purple clouds too.  We arrived back at their new home and I got to check out their new place {okay well new to me at least}.  It is a really nice place and I even got my own bed to sleep in!   The next day we {when I say we I mean Sarah} packed for a hike and headed out:

We were going to see Rocky Mountain National Park, but first we stopped off at Celestial Seasonings up near Boulder, CO {thanks for the suggestion Lei!}.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a tea company {the logo is a sleeping bear}.  We got to tour the tea factory, which was really interesting {so were the hairnets we had to wear}.  My favorite part is The Mint Room.  It clears your sinuses it is so strong smelling in there.  They actually have to keep the peppermint leaves in their own room so they don’t contaminate the other flavors of tea they make.  We also had some lunch, sampled some teas, and of course headed over to the gift shop where I bought a few things:

We left before we could buy anymore stuff and drove more North.  I was snapping pictures like a crazy lady because even the scenery on the drive was breathtaking.  Sarah warned me that I would find even better views in the park, but I didn’t believe her til I saw it with my own eyes!  Here are just a few because I didn’t want to overwhelm…it’s already going to be a long post!

That night Sarah and I went to dinner at a delicious restaurant called Lala’s we drank wine and had pizza and then met up with Jon and some of their CO friends.  We all had a good time and then went home to get some rest for the next day.  Saturday we met up with some friends for brunch that I know from back home.  It was awesome to get to see them again and all hang out together.  After a delish breakfast of cheesy grits we made our way to the Chatfield branch of the Denver Botanic Gardens for a fun day at the pumpkin patch.  At first it was raining, but eventually the sun came out and we found really good pumpkins for everyone.  I just loved the fact that we were in a pumpkin patch, but there were mountains in the background!

After the patch we bid our friends goodbye and went home to bum around a bit.  Then they told me they were taking me to Le Central which is an adorable French Restaurant.  I tried mussels for the first time and they were delicious.  On Sunday we enjoyed a homemade breakfast made by Sarah and Jon and then Sarah and I went out for more hiking.  We made it out to the Red Rocks Park which was beautiful and reminded me a lot of AZ.  It’s so unique because not only is the natural part amazing, but seeing all the artists that have performed there is pretty cool too {I learned that Mr. James Taylor has performed there numerous times!}  After we hiked one of the trails we continued on to Mount Falcon which was much more foresty and ended up having an awesome view of the city.

That night we went more into the city to a section called LoDo or Lower Downtown which seemed pretty lively for a Sunday night.  We ate at a place called The Market and I enjoyed THE best chicken salad and minestrone soup I’ve ever ate!  It was a Mediterranean chicken salad and I have to try and make it myself…just delicious!

Monday was my last full day in Denver and Sarah and I used it to do a bit of shopping.  We checked out a couple of shops on Broadway and stepped into an ice cream shop called Sweet Action which turned out to be really sweet.  If you are ever in town I would really recommend you check out this cute area.  The shops are very unique…one place felt like we were in a mad scientists office and another place felt like we jumped back in time with each furniture arrangement we saw.  We wrapped up the trip with a trip to the local ‘Chicago bar’ called Wyman’s and unfortunately watched Da Bears lose.  No matter!  It reminded me that no matter where in the world my friends might be living we will always be Chicagoans at heart.  And if my friends have to be living in a different city than me, at least they live in a cool one that I can come visit!  Thanks again Sarah & Jon for hosting me…I can’t wait to visit again!

 

Fall Delights October 4, 2011

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:16 pm
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 Guess what I’m doing right now!?

If you guessed Packing for Denver you are correct and read my mind at the same time!

That’s right I’m going to visit one of my very best friends who all of you already know.  It’s one of my fellow bloggers… Sarah!  I can’t wait! I’ve never been to Denver, let alone Colorado and I’m excited to see the beautiful scenery everyone talks about.  We’re sure to have a good time.  Whenever and wherever we are we have good times. You’ll have to wait until next week to see what kind of trouble we get into.

Since I can’t really talk about that yet I thought I’d share my Fall Food Projects so far this season.  I’ve only completed one of them so far, but after my trip I’m sure I’ll get to the others.  I think it was two weekends ago that some of my cousins and I went up to Green Oaks, IL to the Heinz Orchard.  We picked it especially because it is purely an orchard.  None of that commercial crapola: Hayrides in a trailer, corn mazes 3 feet high, and electronic kid rides.  You pay for either a peck or ½ a peck at the small tent in front and then you can go crazy.  We had a great time and since my sister and I shared a peck, we each came away with 21 apples!  Look at this haul:

I haven’t made anything except a snack out of my share of apples, but my sister shared a recipe for apple chips that looks yummy.  I have to make a final decision and use these up when I get back.  Then this past week I got further into a fall cooking mood and bought some stew meat and even picked up pie pumpkins and butternut squashes at a local pumpkin patch.  I’ve been waiting forever {since June} to use the birthday present my sister gave me:

Green Cast Iron Pot

I saw a post (wish I could remember where) about making pumpkin pies from scratch and even though that seems a bit crazy for my amateur baker  status I did like the writers point about knowing where the filling in the can comes from.  I will try to document the experience but you may have to wait a few weeks for a post.  {Next week is Denver remember?!}  The butternut squash I picked up on a whim because of my love for Whole Foods version.  You know how every Facebook post you see says something about Carmel Apple Spice or Pumpkin lattes?  Well not me!  My favorite fall warm item is butternut squash soup from Whole Foods.  There is no other quite so good…and believe me I’ve tried to find it.  However, like most things at WholeFoods, it is expensive soup and  I thought maybe if try hard enough I can replicate it at a lower cost.  So far I spent $1.99 on 2 squashes which is already way less than the $5.99 one container at WF costs.  I just googled it and found that they actually put out a recipe. I’ll have to try it out and let you know how it tastes.

 

 
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