Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Relaxing in Pure MI July 2, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:30 am
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I just got home from my little get-away in Pure Michigan!  My aunt and uncle graciously invite the family up every year to their place on Lake Paw Paw and we go for a few days in the sun.

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We soak up some rays, chat, read books, lounge on the raft, go boating, play games, have bonfires, and eat a ridiculous amount of good food.  My favorite part is just that I get to spend time with my family.  Growing up we used to spend at least once a week together at ‘Hamburger Nights’ every Saturday.  Now that everyone is much older {the cousins range from age 29 down to 14}, people’s schedules don’t always allow for us to be together as often.  Not every family is able to come up to the lake, but it’s still good to spend some quality time with those that are able to be there.  Some years it rains and we have to occupy ourselves with something besides hanging outside.  This year the only times we had bad weather were in the early mornings and late at night so we really didn’t have to leave the house.  Besides going out on the boat, I only left two times!  Once for breakfast at a local diner and another time to go on a walk with my sister {Did I mention I got a Fit Bit for my birthday and now I’m a little obsessive about steps?}

photo 5 Briads


Anyway the last day we usually have to rush out of there and get back to Illinois so we can get ready to go to work the next day.  It really kills that feeling of relaxation.  This year I took the whole week off so today we took it easy and a few of us were even able to stop at Redamak’s in New Buffalo for one of their famous burgers on the way home.

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Once back on the highway, Kate and I decided to make another detour to Michigan City to visit a few stores at the outlet mall.  First stop was our favorite: Fossil.  We wanted to buy everything in that store, and Kate pointed out that if she worked there she probably would have no money left.  Agreed!  After carrying around 3 different bags around the store {not including my new mint crossbody purse my sister gave me for my birthday}, I finally decided on a new purse and small little wallet.  They were having an amazing sale and the total price conveniently matched the amount of birthday money my grandparents gave me.  Sometimes things just fall into place don’t they?  Now it is time for me to unpack.  The real question Stella wants to know is how could I possible pack all of this for a 3 night trip in a neighboring state?

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5 Days Dockside July 2, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 10:41 pm
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Last week I actually was writing my blog post in the car on the way to Pure Michigan {smart phones do amazing things}!  Every year we travel East and North to my aunt and uncle’s lakehouse to hang out with family for an extended weekend.  This year we went up a bit early on Wednesday.  People always ask me what we do up there, and the answer is almost nothing.   We eat, nap, read, boat, sun ourselves, booze, and eat some more.  It is glorious to have such a simple list of things to do for 5 days!  In addition to the relaxation, it is so nice to have {almost} everyone all together in the same place.  Granted this year we had to rent an extra house because there were too many of us to fit in one, but it was only about 2 blocks away and ended up being a good set up for us.

The weather was pretty good for us. There were a few storms that passed through, but watching all the cool clouds made up for the sunshine they stole away.

 photo (7)One morning looked super cloudy so all the cousins decided to drive into town and go thrifting.  Cue Macklemore!  We went four different places and encountered a lot of interesting items.  My favorite place was the first place we went that had a super friendly kitty.  Here is a little glimpse into our adventure:


Those baby faces were a bit creepy, but I couldn’t resist a photo opportunity.  A few people found some treasures and by the time we got back it was nice enough to lay outside again.  We played millions of games and I learned a few new ones too.  My favorite was probably one called Contact.  It was complicated to learn, but once we got the hang of it we were on a roll!  One person thinks of a word and gives the group the first letter.  Then the group asks questions about words that also start with that letter and tries to stump the person with a secret word.  If the main person doesn’t know the answer, but someone else in the group yells, ‘Contact,’ then there is a count down.  3,2,1…and they both shout out the answer.  If it matches then the person with the secret word has to tell the group the next letter of the secret word.  Sounds a bit confusing, but once you start playing its fun and forces you to be pretty creative.    It was sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end of the weekend and go back to work yesterday, but I was glad to get to spend so much time with  everyone.  Plus it’s a short week at work!  Everyone enjoy your Fourth of July and stay safe!


Knowing Where You Come From November 28, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:22 pm
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The holidays offer a multitude of opportunities. You can spend time with your family, get caught up on cleaning, laundry, bills, or even get a jump start on holiday shopping. Oh, and how can I forget decorating! Pulling out the boxes from the closest or under the bed with trinkets and ornaments to be displayed while listening to Christmas music.

It’s hard to pick just one thing that I like to do over a holiday break. Mostly because I like to do them all, yes even laundry. I’m a sucker for being productive. Plus, I love the smell of clean laundry. And with no heat over the holidays in our apartment, doing laundry was another way for us to generate heat. But, I digress to what will be my main point :).

My favorite memory from this Thanksgiving holiday was talking with my parents about our history, how my parents or grandparents came to America and to Chicago. As an inquisitive high school student in need of a history paper, I went to my mom who immigrated to the US when she was nine. Since then, my parents have gradually told me more about how my mom’s and dad’s family landed in Chicago.

Mom has an interesting story. She came to America only knowing two words, chocolate and tea. Not bad to start. This year she talked more about her childhood growing up on a farm that was a former air field in Germany and her long walk to school. We talked about World War II a lot. We touched on my grandfather and great uncles involvement in World War II and what happened afterwards. I found it fascinating to hear how the family stayed in touch during the war without all the technology we have today. Let’s just say they couldn’t exactly check-in on Facebook where they were. My dad even shared stories of when his grandfather came over to America from Sweden. They came to America on a boat second class and made a good life in Chicago.

There is still so many stories to be told on both sides. I know my mom still has a few more memories from the farm to share as does my dad about his grandparents and childhood. My future mother-in-law made a wonderful suggestion of video taping or recording the stories. That way we have a permanent record. Plus my parents can tell their story over and over to future generations. Isn’t that a fantastic idea? Do you know your family’s history and the stories? I know next time I ask I’ll be recording!



Family Hangout Time October 31, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 3:00 pm
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This past weekend we celebrated my mom’s birthday. The festivities began Friday night when my dad, Matt and I took her to one of her favorite Italian restaurants in LaGrange, Marconi’s. We split a bottle of merlot and enjoyed catching up with one another while enjoying a wonderful meal. My dad got his usual slice of lasagna and both Matt and my mom got the chicken vesuvio. Wanting to try something new, I did a sauteed chicken with a slab of prosciutto with fresh green beans and carrots. For dessert we split a decadent piece of tiramisu that was light and fluffy and melted in your mouth. Matt even went back for another bite – which was epic since he is not a huge dessert guy.

Naturally the festivities had to continue. So on Saturday afternoon my mom came and picked me up so I could take her shopping. (This whole not driving thing really complicates things when you’re supposed to be treating someone else). Our destinations included Oak Brook and Costco. The weather was beautiful. A perfect sunny crisp fall day. There was definitely no other place I would rather be with my mom on her birthday than shopping.

We hit the usual suspects of Crate and Barrel, Gap, Vera Bradley. The Limited, Ann Taylor Loft, and Banana Republic. Armed with our birthday coupons we did very well scooping up deals. My mom scored a free long sleeve top at the Loft and I got a $4 long sleeve top at the Gap. It was fun to pal around with her even though she kept trying to carry all of the shopping bags because of my arm. We had a blast trying on clothes and picking out ridiculous clothing wondering who would ever buy that.

With my parents traveling between Florida and Wisconsin throughout the year, I’ve really come to enjoy the time that I do get to spend with them. Whether it’s shopping with my mom for her birthday or helping my dad out with his computer/organizing the garage to enjoying a meal with them. It’s all good stuff that I look forward to. Mostly because they make laugh but also because they’re still teaching me things in their sly parent ways and I’ll always respect them for that.


Thanksgiving Came Early November 22, 2011

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 10:18 pm
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Thanksgiving came a bit early for my family this year and we celebrated this past Sunday.  For someone so obsessed with tradition it actually didn’t bother be to change it up.  In fact it ends up working quite well because now I will get to see the other side of my family on real Thanksgiving.  The more the merrier!  And did I mention I now have an excuse to be a piggy twice in one week?

Yeah I’m not complaining.  So for Thanksgiving Part I, my sister and I were in charge of desserts.  My cousin who organized everything asked us to ‘think outside the box.’  We went back and forth on Gchat with tons of different ideas, but one thing was for sure, we had to make a trifle {my sister was very excited to use her brand new trifle dish my cousin got her for her birthday}!  If you don’t know what a trifle is I will show you:

Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle

Basically it’s a layered dessert that usually includes cake, whipped cream, and some sort of pudding.  This one was a gingerbread cake, pumpkin vanilla pudding, and whipped cream.  We pretty much made everything from a box, but we used real pumpkin. Doesn’t it look pretty?  We also decided to make apple donuts.  Mostly because my sister wanted to use her donut pan {does anyone else see a pattern here?}, but also because apples are in season and not something you’d traditionally think of at a Thanksgiving feast {remember we were thinking outside the box}.  She was worried when the dough was cookie dough texture instead of liquidy, but in the end they turned out very well and got even better once we brushed them with butter and dipped them in cinnamon sugar.  Sorry I don’t have a finished product picture, but here is the batter in the cute donut pan ready for the oven:

Apple Donuts

Lastly, but certainly not least we decided we need a dessert involving chocolate.  I decided some type of bar would be easy to make.  I found this recipe for chocolate peanut butter crunch bars on Smitten Kitchen’s website and the search was quickly over.

Side Note- For some reason any recipe that requires a candy thermometer intimidates me and also knowing that neither my sister or me owns one we quickly made an alteration to the recipe.  We ignored her instructions for the rice crispy bottom and using another a simpler rice crispy recipe by Smitten Kitchen.

This was my most favorite recipe to make and my sister pointed out that it was the only one that required no actual baking.  Haha, my true feelings are revealed!  Anyway we forgot to take a final picture, but here are all the ingredients we used and you can look at Smitten Kitchen’s website…ours looked very similar.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Bars

I was worried I’d hear complaints about the missing pumpkin pie, but I didn’t hear a peep.  In fact I think people were too busy enjoying their desserts.  I think we succeeded at thinking outside the box, don’t you?


Power of Prayer February 20, 2011

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 7:20 pm
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My biography makes a brief mention of my religious beliefs. I need to explain this further today. On Thursday, after a very rough day of work and after failing an IBM Certification test, I was feeling down and exhausted. I finally sat down to relax for a minute, when I heard the familiar “ping” of a text message arriving on my phone. I had just spoken to Eric, who was going to be late and I was already with my neighbor, so I was wondering who it could be. It was Kristie (my sister).

The news she gave me was surprising and scary. My oldest brother, John, who is only 30 years old, was in the hospital. He had collapsed after his heart began to race, his palms began to sweat and a feeling of nausea overcame him. He was at dinner with his wife. I raced to the hospital on Thursday night shortly after receiving her message to be by his side while they tested his heart, took blood and struggled to find a reason for his racing heart. Apparently, his heart was was going from 120 beats/minute to 30 beats/minute. The hospital decided to admit him.

Today is Sunday and John is still in the hospital undergoing testing. I visited again this evening to find him in higher spirits and a little antsy from being pent up for 4 days in the hospital.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because we’ve all been praying for him. Dr’s have told us that the patients that get the most prayers tend to turn it around and make it through their medical challenges better. Do I believe this is true? 100%. Every Sunday at Church, my mother reads a prayer to St. Anthony, the Saint of Miracles.

Now if you aren’t religious, I’m not one to preach. But I am asking for prayers and good wishes for my brother this week from those who want to send them and also, if you want to post someone’s name that you are praying for… I’ll pray for them.

My sister, John and myself


Disconnecting February 9, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 6:17 pm
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Catching up on my magazine reading poolside I read in a recent study, the average American absorbs 12 hours of media consumption in nine hours. It’s easy to do when technology is at our fingertips 24-seven.

I’m a classic case. Unwinding after dinner in the living room, I’m curled up in a chair watching TV (usually HGTV or PBS) with my MacBook (searching for deals on Craiglist/real estate listings) and iPhone (ready to text/use an app) close by. Even at work I have at least three tabs open on google chrome, podcasts of BBC streaming and sometimes I’ll even rock out to music on my cell phone. Being connected is part of my every day natural habits.

Yet, Florida has forced me to disconnect. I’m writing this blog post on my parents’ lanai enjoying a view of the Orange River with no wireless connection. I’ve turned my phone on silent and resisted the urge to check my mail every five minutes. The one bar of service I get keeps me reassured I am still connected to my data plan, if I need it.

Turning off or at least silencing means I can enjoy the view. Watching five different types of birds fly around while one takes up residence on the boatlift three feet away. There is a gecko is sunning on the dock and I’m still scanning the water for a manatee to pop up and say hello. Boats float down with passengers waving hello with a smile.

There is nothing I love more than being by water, enjoying good company and fine wine. Visiting my parents in Florida has done just that. Allowing me reconnect with the people I care about most – my parents, my aunt and uncle, many of our close family friends and of course, my best friend Jill who came down form Detroit for a few days.

It’s good to recharge your own batteries every once in awhile. Try powering down, you might be surprised by what happens next.

Enjoying the view


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