Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Oktoberfest or Oaktoberfest: It’s All About the Beer Anyway September 21, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 3:00 pm
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As I’ve explained in previous posts, I’m always looking for fun stuff to do in my own backyard. Summer in Chicago is usually filled with festivals, neighborhood events, concerts and craft fairs. Now that summer is drawing to a close, sadly so are the fun outdoor events. Luckily, it’s usually still warm out enough to enjoy a good Oktoberfest.

The town of Oak Park, a suburb just 8 miles west of the city of Chicago, holds a pretty good “Oktoberfest” appropriately named Oaktoberfest.  The event is usually held around the second week of September. The weekend event holds different activities for all ages, local food, and tasty beer. So, Matt, Kelly, our friends Tom and Kim, and Lei and her dude and myself went to check out the festivities on Friday and had a fabulous night.

The beats of Cathy Richardson and the Macrodots pulsed around the three-block event. With our toes tapping we knew it was time for one thing, beer. For the purchase of 3 beverage tickets you were able to get your own 22-ounce souvenir mug, which was a pretty decent deal.  Plus the variety of beer (they even had cider), plus wine was pretty spectacular. With my first beer in hand of a Leinie’s Oktoberfest, very appropriate, we found a nice spot around the corner to have a seat and enjoy our beer, company and music.

Soon enough we were starting to get a little hungry and walked over to check out the food vendors. Some of my favorite restaurants like Jerusalem Café, Lou’s Peking House, Mancini’s Pizza and Pasta plus Marion Street Cheese Market were all present serving up tasty snacks or meals. Kelly went for the sweet and purchased a delightful cupcake from Sugar Fixe. I was looking for something a little more substantial and went with the fried ravioli from Mancini’s. I must say, I made a good choice.

Oaktoberfest is a great fall tradition. I would definitely recommend it to folks in the area looking to same great local food and beer in a relaxed environment. Plus it’s cooler out finally so you can enjoy the lovely fall weather. Now I just have to find a few more Oktoberfests to enjoy the rest of my favorite season!


Ravinia: A Summer Must August 31, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 3:00 pm
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“Holy picnic tables!” is how Matt described his first glimpse of the Ravinia festival grounds.  I’d agree that it’s a fitting description for the outdoor concert venue in Highland Park.  Ravinia attracts over a half a million spectators with their picnic baskets in tow to over 100 musical events in the summer ranging from Jazz, Classical, Rock, Country, and everything in between.

Since high school, I’ve tried to be one of the 500,000+ attendees each year. I’ve been fortunate to see headliners such as Blues Traveler, Carrie Underwood, Nickel Creek, Trisha Yearwood, Billy Currington, The Temptations and just a few others.

What makes Ravinia a must attend event in the summer? Here are a few of my reasons:

  • The lawn seats. Bring your camping chairs or a blanket and sit back and relax!
  • Picnic tables. Below is an example from my friend Tom. Matt and I went with him, his wife and their friend from college to see Lifehouse….the picnic table is key to a successful Ravinia experience and it separates the rookies from the veterans.

A Proper Ravinia Table

  • The smell of citronella candles.
  • People watching. Let’s be honest, the music is just background for the live entertainment you’re watching (which may include people doing a funky rain dance).
  • Appetizers. My personal favorite is chili con queso from Casey’s Market in Western Springs. You might as well just by one pound because you’re going to eat it all and still want more.
  • The breeze off of Lake Michigan – if you’re lucky and it’s not a still day.
  • Playing cards, Apples to Apples or Uno.
  • The unwritten rule of one bottle of wine per person.
  • Good music.
  • Laughing with friends.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things April 18, 2011

Filed under: Kate — Uncharted @ 12:50 pm
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As many of you are aware, I work for an IT Company that is always providing new technology services. You know those commercials, “To the Cloud!”? We’ve been using Cloud Computing for almost 12 years. I know! Why am I telling you this? Because I consider myself to be someone who is “into” technology. Not just for businesses either, I LOVE gadgets (This, I think, I get from my father) and other technologically advanced things that make my life easier and happier.

So I was recently reading some magazine (I can’t remember which one because I read so many) and it had a list of cool gadgets that can help you with a variety of things. I thought I’d make my own list of items that I think are awesome, and I’ve tried them… so I know the pros and cons!

(1) Want to improve your posture? I ordered this little gadget that Oprah recommended (Don’t ask me why, I’m not a big Oprah fan). It clips onto your bra strap (or an undershirt) and it vibrates when you start to slouch! Don’t worry, you can work your way up to tall and straight if you want! It comes with a lifetime guarantee of batteries and is small and nobody knows you’re wearing it. Downsides: The clip has nickel in it, which I am conveniently, allergic to. It’s also pretty frustrating when the batteries keep coming in the mail and you haven’t even used the ones you have already (PS – they charge about 10 bucks each time for shipping and handling too). My recommendation is to skip on the lifetime battery order if you don’t plan to use this every day.  www.iPosture.com

(2) Love swimming but miss the tunes? If you are like me, and NEED music to move your body, try out a waterproof mp3 player. www.speedousa.com has an awesome one that connects to your goggles and is completely waterproof. The headphones clip around your ears so they won’t fall off and it has all of your basic functions… including 1 GB of memory for your favorite bust a move songs. Downsides: None that I have found yet.

(3) On the music note… many of you may have heard of this, but I’m sharing just in case it’s news. www.pandora.com let’s you create your own music stations and plays music “similar” to your interests. You have the option to “like” or “dislike” songs so that they will play them more or less. Also exciting, if you “dislike” 2 or more songs by an artist, they stop playing that artis (Thank GOODNESS I don’t have to list any more Keith Urban!). Downsides: They only give you 40 hours of music per month for free. Don’t forget to pause it when you’re not listening so you don’t waste them!

(4) Like to record HD Movies? I didn’t know it was possible until I met Cisco’s Flip Video. It’s pocket size and you can design your own! (Completely!) Naturally, mine has yellow polka dots on it. when you upload your design, you get to see a 3-D model of what it will look like, which is pretty awesome. The memory depends on which type you buy, but the video is always clear and beautiful and super easy to upload to your favorite networking sites like youtube and facebook. Downsides: There is no function to keep the film from shaking… hope you have steady hands! www.theflip.com

(5) Love the manicure, hate the same ‘ole? Try Sally Hanson’s stick on nails. They have fun patterns like zebra print and lace and are really easy to use. Literally, match up the size, peel off the backing and stick it on to your clean nails then file off the access. They last for a good week or more and they look really cool. Some of the patterns are a little wild for my taste, but wear what you feel! They come off with normal nail polish remover. What will that Sally think of next!?

(6) Love designer shoes? Check out the “Today’s Shoe” app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It shows you some of the newest designer shoes with pictures and prices. The shoe is available on this app for 24 hours only. Downsides: You may buy a couple pairs of designer shoes… hard on the pocket book but happy for the feet! 🙂

Hope you guys check some of this stuff out. If you have other cool suggestions for gadgets or other things that make our lives easier, please feel free to share!


The Soundtrack of my Life February 24, 2011

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 9:24 pm
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Do you ever find that when you hear a song on the radio or your ipod, that it brings specific memories your way? I do ALL the time.  And this week was a particularly crazy week for bringing back memories.  Every day since I last posted, I have heard a song that has brought something wonderful, saddening, exciting, or memorable back to my mind…

…Friday “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison…this song always makes me think of my fellow Uncharted author Kelly.  When we were younger, we loved the song, but hated that it wasn’t about blue eyed girls.  So when we heard it or sang it, we changed the lyrics.

…Saturday “Yeah” by Usher…random, I know.  But in college my friend Jess used to do this insane impression of this song, and it always makes me think of laughing at her and getting ready to go out to the frats.

…Sunday “Realize” by Colbie Caillat…makes me think of my first official ‘love.’  I don’t think he ever knew how I felt, but I always, from that very first day in elementary school, wish he would have ‘realized’ how much I cared about him.

…Monday “This One’s for the Girls” by Martina McBride…in Delta Gamma, everyone got a ‘senior song’ at their senior dinner before they graduated.  The girls wrote it to a specific tune, but changed all the lyrics to ridiculous things that you did or that defined you in college.  So whenever I hear this song, I always think about how “this one’s for Little O.”

…Tuesday “Time of Your Life” by Green Day…our eighth grade graduation dance song.  Our parents fought against this one, because they didn’t think the theme song of eighth grade graduation should start with a declamation of swears.

…Wednesday “Animal” by Neon Trees…kooky as it may be, this is sort of mine and Jonathan’s ‘song.’ We both love it and rock out to it when it comes on the radio, so I always think of him when it comes on, and look forward to being with him again in Denver.

…Thursday “Here’s to the Night” by Eve 6…for some reason, hearing this song always makes me think of high school.  All the times we drove underage to Harvester park and just ‘hung out.’ I remember feeling so cool in the green 1991 Jetta I had nicknamed ‘Foxy Roxy’ and freaking my friends out because I drove too fast.  But I taught several people how to drive stick shift in that car, and those times growing up will never fade to blank.

We all have them, those songs that make us think of a certain time.  I have them often, but this week I happened to hear at least one a day.  Reminiscing through music is fun, and I can’t wait to have more songs to add to my memory’s repertoire in another 10 years or so…


Lots of love… February 17, 2011

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 7:59 pm
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In honor of Valentine’s Day, and this week being full of love, I thought I’d post a list of simple things that make me (and I’m sure many others) happy…

10) Getting snail mail…there’s something so nice about receiving a colorful card in the mail that you can actually hold.  Email’s nice too, but snail mail is better.

9) Hearing a song on the radio that makes me sing out loud…I was doing this the other day at a stoplight, when I looked next to me and realized that a preteen girl with her mother was staring at me like I had 3 heads.  It was such a good one though, that I kept singing anyway.

8 ) Thinking up something creative…I’ve been feeling very crafty lately, and have been coming up with new foldables and projects for my students to make things more interesting.  I know it’s super nerdy teacher-esque, but every time I come up with something new I feel good.

7) Getting flowers…and Jonathan knows it.  He’s a really good flower picker, abnormally so for a guy.  But every holiday I get fresh flowers that bring a big smile to my face.  I know some people just say flowers die, but something about having that colorful burst of life in your home for even a few short days is uplifting.

6) A glass of wine after a hard day…there’s nothing more relaxing than curling up in my PJs on the couch with a glass of red, catching up on my shows or reading my Kindle.

5) Text messages just to say hi…it’s nice knowing people are thinking about you, not necessarily needing you for something.  I love getting a random hello in the middle of the day.

4) Buying a new pair of shoes…I know they just stay on your feet all day, but glancing down and seeing a shiny new pair of shoes that make you look just that much cuter is a nice feeling.

3) When kids are thoughtful…there are a lot of things that you see kids doing these days that make them seem selfish and unaware of others.  But this Valentine’s day my students were really sweet to each other.  And one even suggested that we all make cards for our special ed reading buddies AND our pen pals to brighten their days.

2) Panda bears…if you know me, you already know this one.  But even if you don’t know me, you can’t deny it.  Want scientific proof why humans are so mysteriously attracted to these big huggables?  Check this out>>>Why we love pandas.

1) Finishing  a book…sometimes in the midst of all the crazy in life, it’s nice to know that you can actually still finish things once in a while.  And finishing a book is very satisfying.

What loves do you have? What makes you smile? 🙂


Jump Start my Kaleidoscope Heart November 10, 2010

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 4:18 am
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Last week Sarah, Karla, and I went to the House of Blues to see my favorite (after James Taylor), Sara Bareilles!

Look at the Blue Piano!


I know you might not know me, but I don’t get very excited over music.  Sure I like to listen to it and all, but I don’t have an overflowing 30MB iPod {ahem, Karla}.  I’m just saying it’s hard to get me into music.  But it is not hard for me to get into Sara Barellies’s music.  I love every single song!  In addition to her singing she is really funny and down to Earth.  She doesn’t take herself too seriously which is what I love.

As I write this I am eating M&Ms and drinking Chamomile tea, trying to calm down from a hectic day.  Is that like drinking Red Bull and vodka?  Hope not!  Today I attended a First Aid, CPR, and AED class at work given  by the American Heart Association. Those classes always surprise me by how sad they make me.  I know they could be useful one day and might even help me to save someone’s life, but concentrating on a bunch of worse case scenarios is not something I need.  It put me in a weirdo mood and I decided to solve it with a little retail therapy.  I ended up going to two Marshalls stores and got some really fun stuff that I don’t really need.  Wanna hear what I got!?

At the first Marshalls I fell in love with a book end.  A book end? Why do I need a book end?  I don’t.

But like I said I fell in love with it, and I have plans.  You’ll see!

I also found a replacement for my ‘Not a Paper Cup’ cup that fell out of my car and shattered.  The new one even has a pink lid.  Much more stylish than the white cup with the white lid.

At the second Marshalls I found mini mercury glass ornaments…not sure what I’ll do with them, but surely Christmas will help me figure that out.  Then I found the perfect vase for my next project.  I’ve been trying to find one forever and I finally have!  Once I’ve created it I will share.  All the shopping really cheered me up.  Not the thriftiest solution to my problems, but it got me thinking about creative things instead of sad things and that was my intention.


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