Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Library Time January 22, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 5:43 pm
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New Reads

New Reads

One of my favorite things about living in Oak Park was the library. The village boasted three branch locations, one conveniently situated less than two blocks from my old apartment. The building was gorgeous and filled with all different types of books, magazines, video games, DVD’s, CD’s and more. The staff were always friendly and willing to assist any patron. Plus the Oak Park Library’s online system was easy to use and made picking up books and DVD’s just that more easier.

Because I was so spoiled by my last library, I put off going to my new one. Luckily my mom has been giving me all of her books to read (which is quite a lot if you know my mother) so I haven’t really had the need until recently. Last week I posted about how Matt and I are looking to get a dog and that we’re in the research phase of the adoption process. Well, I decided I couldn’t put off going to the Lombard library any more and finally went to get my new card last night.

The staff were very friendly. From the circulation desk attendant who gave me my card and a helpful brochure, to the reference librarian giving me the tour of the adult non-fiction area. Yes, the building is a little smaller than Oak Park and it’s about a five minute drive versus a one minute walk, but those are really the only differences. I was quite impressed by the selection of material in-house and the ease of use on their online system.

Scouring through the “dog” section found three books to help Matt and I learn all that we can to get ready for our dog. The books I got are “Choosing and Caring for a Shelter Dog” (seemed quite applicable), “The Adopted Dog Bible” (again applicable) and “Cesar’s Rules” (the dog whisperer as seen on Oprah). I’ll keep you posted on the reads. And thanks to the readers who posted other suggestions on dog training books. Keep them coming!


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!


Revisiting 30 before 30… January 12, 2012

Today is my 27th birthday.  That means it’s been about a year since I posted my 30 before 30 list.  And that means I have another 3 years to finish everything on it.  In the spirit of getting another year closer to that big 3-0, I thought I’d revisit to see the progress I’ve made…

1. travel to a foreign country (outside of North America, because let’s be honest, even though those Canadians can get  crazy, they don’t count for my list)…not yet…but I’m starting to make a list of places I’d LIKE to go.  Then maybe I can progress from there!

2. own a dog…not yet…this one won’t be able to happen until Jonathan and I move out of our apartment, since they don’t allow dogs…and gosh, moving is such a pain!

3. get a real Christmas tree (a live one)…not yet…we still had a fake one this year, particularly because we thought about a real one, but wouldn’t be around to care for it over the holiday since we went back to Chicago and decided we’d rather not come back to a fire hazard of needle piles.

4. read at least 3 books per year (ones I want to read, not required reading)…got it…so far since this post last year I’ve read OVER my quota of 3…including Room by Emma Donogue, The Help by Karyn Stockett, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson, and (one of my favorites, so it’s a re-read) Sense and Sensibility.  Let’s see if I can keep this up!

5. go back to Vegas…got it…Jonathan and I got to go back in November because he WON a trip from Allstate! Read about that here.

6. camp in a national park…got it…I’ve been camping in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, plus we’re going camping with some dear friends in Yosemite this May!

7. create a signature cocktail…not yet…but I feel like it will include Cake vodka 😉

8. swim with dolphins…not yet…

9. go on a hot air balloon ride (sorry Kel, I had to add this one to my list, too)…not yet…

10. go wine tasting (it’d be nice to actually know a thing or two about it, not just drink it)…got it…in Santa Barbara, California with some of my favorite ladies!

11. go back to the Grand Canyon…not yet…

12. learn a new song on the piano…not yet…and this one’s going to be harder now, because we don’t have a piano!

13. make a home with Jonathan…got it…love our neighborhood, love our apartment, still working on some of the decor

14. take a photography class (well, another one, maybe digital photography!)…not yet…

15. ride a double-decker bus…not yet…

16. take Jonathan on a ‘spring break’ trip (because he never had one)…not yet…but we may be going to Mexico this summer, so that’s pretty close!

17. try at least one adventurous recipe each month…got it…here are some of my favorites: meatloaf muffins with mashed potato ‘frosting‘ and the Barefoot Contessa’s chicken with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

18. perfect my great grandma’s butter cookie recipe…got it…with my brother Sam’s help this year, I think we perfected it for our Christmas cookie tins (which I referred to in last week’s post).

19. have a garden…sort of got it…I’d like to have a real one, but at least we planted a small herb garden this year for our apartment…

20. write a book (I’ve been thinking of ideas for children’s books lately)…not yet…this one will be a challenge!

21. take a yoga class (this may surprise some of you, but I never have…I don’t want to do hot yoga, just a regular class)…not yet…still a bit intimated to show my lack of flexibility…

22. finish a triathlon…not yet…but I’d like to sign up to do one this summer and start training soon!

23. see another panda bear in real life…not yet…

24. sew something (other than just putting a lost button back on)…got it…took a sewing class, made a tote bag, got a sewing machine for Christmas, and you saw the pillows I made in last week’s post!

25. try a new haircut…sorta got it…got my hair chopped from being long this past fall.

26. take a golf lesson…not yet…

27. find a go-to sushi restaurant in Denver…got it…we LOVE Okinawa on Colfax, and we’ve been to Sushi Den a few times too.

28. take a Spanish class (or several)…not yet…

29. recycle more (and reduce, and reuse…)…trying to, but surprisingly enough it’s hard when our apartment building doesn’t provide a recycling service!

30. tell the people who are important to me how much I love them more often…on my way, working on it!

If I keep it up, I think the whole list can be green by the time I hit 30!  Although it’s amazing how quickly 3 years can fly by…


Mindset August 25, 2011

I usually tease my dear friend and fellow blogger, Kelly, for sharing with us all of her HR-esque culture and mindset knowledge.  These tidbits can come from seminars, books, team-building excursions…all those things that the average person loves to hate, and secretly (or in some cases, not so secretly) makes fun of with his/her coworkers.  However, I have to admit an inconvenient and totally nerdy truth, that I have embarked upon a journey of delving into my first useful (and frighteningly interesting!) self and business improvement book.

I can’t give myself total (or let’s be honest, any) credit for picking this one up, though.  I was required to read it for professional development.  And I actually made fun of it with my coworkers…until I started reading it.  It’s a book called Mindset by a renowned psychologist named Carol Dweck.  In it, she explores all the things that add to a growth mindset: “creating motivation and productivity in the areas of business, education, and sports.”  The amazing thing to me is that I really do feel (unlike other professional development opportunities in which I have taken part) that the concepts in this book can relate to any person’s life. 

You would never believe how many times a day the average person says something that conveys a meaning which he/she is not planning to send.  Life should not be about praising people’s perfections and products, but their growth and processes.  And the harsh (but very real) part of being a successful ‘praiser’ is being honest with yourself and others: if you don’t deserve to win or to be the best, someone should tell you!  Not to be a jerk, of course, rather to be a trusted source of information and growth. 

I won’t give too much more of the book away because if you’re interested at all you really should read it (take it from the girl who usually pokes fun at these personal life-enhancing-type opportunities), but I will leave you with one quote that is attached to the growth mindset which particularly struck me (and if you’re one of the lucky buddies who happen to be friends with me on Facebook, you may have read this on one of my current statuses): “You must help me help you.  If you don’t give anything, don’t expect anything.  Success is not coming to you, you must come to it.”  This is by a Chicago teacher, but I truly believe it can be applied to relatively anything: personal and professional relationships, work ethic…for goodness’ sake, even housekeeping!  But it’s really true; if you want to succeed, go out and get your success!  Work for it and earn it and you will appreciate it even more.


Lists of Likes July 6, 2011

I constantly find myself going places, discovering new things, and thinking about how I want to add adventures to my lists of ‘to-dos’.  So this first week in Denver, when I’ve been thinking about wanting to revisit something, I decided to write it down.  Before I left Chicago, one of my coworkers gave me a purse-size notebook entitled “Great Ideas.”  I figured what better things to record in the notebook than great ideas of things I want to do or come back to?!

Here’s what my “great ideas” consist of so far…

Page 1: Restaurants…The Market: a converted grocery store turned into a deli and sweet shop, with everything from a full homemade dinner to a chocolate croissant and tea for breakfast.  Osteria Marco: an amazing restaurant that will be loved (I’m sure) by friends and family, with a wide array of menu items and a huge variety of wines, with great locally restored furniture items arranged in a dark and romantic atmosphere.

Page 2: Places to Visit…includes a few randoms that I was afraid I might forget, but thought would be fun, nonetheless…Colorado Railroad Museum: mainly because I love hearing stories about how Jonathan used to love trains (like my own brother, Sam) and think it will bring him a bit back to childhood.  Continental Divide: because it’s just a really cool thing that Mother Nature has created all on her own, and I’d love to see it in person.  Denver Art Museum: somewhere I envision taking my little brother in a few weeks when he visits, especially for the MudArt exhibit!

Page 3: Books to Read/Buy…funny enough, this list includes mostly children’s books right now, after a visit to Tattered Cover Bookstore today and spending some quality time in the children’s section…Otis by Lauren Long: an adorable story about a little construction vehicle that does something wonderful.  Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld: a tale of a small cloud who does great things.  Pigs Over Denver by Kerry MacLean: they were out of this one today, but based on the description of it teaching kids something fun about Denver geography while being a fun souvenir makes me want to read it for sure!  The Help by Katheryn Stockett: need to read this book before I see the movie version that comes out soon…looks like an adventurous yet interestingly historical read.  Murder at the Brown Palace by Dick Kreck: sort of strikes me as a Denver-esque Devil in the White City, which really excites me as a reader!

So stay tuned for updates on any of the above adventures and explorations, and keep checking up for more additions to the lists 🙂  For those of you back at home, miss you like whoa, but can’t wait to share fun new things with you out here when you come to visit!


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? 🙂


Bookworm January 13, 2011

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 10:39 pm
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I love to read.  The problem is that with working so many hours a day and bringing work home past those hours at school, I don’t often have time to read what I want to read.  I only have time to read what I’m required to read for work.

 That is, until Jonathan bought me an Amazon Kindle for Christmas this year.  He told me I had to open half of my Christmas present when we went to his parents’ house, because their present corresponded with that half.  I was confused, since I was sure I had given no hints toward anything I really wanted other than to be miraculously transported to live with Jonathan in Denver (and I was fairly confident that I was not receiving a helicopter ticket and being handed a teaching job).

When I opened the first half of my present, I was very pleasantly surprised to find an Amazon Kindle.  I immediately understood; when I had visited Jonathan’s parents while he was living in Denver, I became immersed in his mom’s Kindle.  I thought it was so cool.  It is amazing to me that you can download over 3,000 books to a thin handheld device, and read them with the ease and gentleness with which you read a vintage-scented book from the public library. And I love that his parents’ present to me was a soft, magenta Kindle cover (SO my style).

Each year when school starts, I lament the reality that I will probably not read anything of my choice for the next nine months.  I’m so swamped by research and texts I am required to read to keep up with educational trends that I can’t even imagine making time to read what I want.  But my Kindle has inspired me.  I know it sounds corny, but I am finding time to read again.  I have already read three books for pleasure, and have even discovered the world of online Kindle versions of educational trend texts!  So at least if I have to read them, I can read them more contentedly.  Although, I am more looking forward to finally finishing the Stieg Larsson trilogy.   In fact, I think I may read a chapter or two before I hit the hay tonight…


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