Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Aspiration Update: #17 February 26, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:34 am
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Finally I got a chance to snowshoe!  Dave and I went together for Valentine’s Day.  We’re so romantical!  Technically it was the day after but who’s keeping track?  I was all worried I’d need to learn how to snowshoe.  I actually found a free class that REI puts on at their stores, but then decided it can’t be that complicated and to just go for it instead.  I’m glad I didn’t take the time to do that because it’s actually very easy!

We went to the The Vera Meineke Nature Center on Schaumburg Road  where you can rent snowshoes for $4.00/3 hours.  It’s a great deal!  Especially because they have a few different kinds of shoes to chose from.  The old fashioned wooden type or the more modern aluminum model.


Checking out the Choices

They had us watch a thrilling 5 minute video on how to snowshoe and soon we were fitting ourselves with our shoes.  Dave ended up with the old fashioned version because they fit his boots better and I ended up in the modern kind.  We headed out into the snow, had someone take our photo so we could document the trip, and started exploring the area.


There were a few other people around but it wasn’t crowded at all.  We explored a bit and found a little cabin on the grounds, a couple of bridges, and a quaint little farm.  Even though it was frigid out, we really worked up a sweat and the next day my legs were pretty sore.  Seems like a good way to stay in shape while enjoying the outdoors.  It was a nice change of pace for us because we really haven’t spent anytime outside since the fall.  We both agreed that even with the cold weather we should get out more often.



I completed an Aspiration!


Winter Disc Golf January 29, 2014

Sundays are pretty repetitive around the Hein household. We get up, throw something in the crock pot, try to get some laundry in, go to church, come home, have a light lunch and prep for the next week. Oh, and of course I watch Downton Abbey at night!

This Sunday, however, we had a nice little twist to the end of our weekend. I was finishing some cleaning around the house while talking to my friend Deanna online when Matt came in from shoveling and asked if Deanna and her husband, Ross, wanted to go out and play in the snow. We scoured the internet trying to find parks that were open past dusk. Because, when Matt thought of this idea it was already 4 p.m. Unfortunately we didn’t find a whole lot options.

Then we had a grand idea – what about disc golf courses? Our friends Deanna and Ross introduced the sport to us in November and we were hooked. Deanna sent me a link of all different disc golf parks in the state of Illinois by town. Low and behold there was a park in Glen Ellyn open till 10 p.m.

Thankfully it was still warm out, in the low thirties and quite comfortable. We met up at Maryknoll Park and started the nine hole course. We had a such a fun time running/walking/diving through the snow. We each found deep drifts that caught us off guard, threw snowballs at each other and made a few snow angels along the way.

Disc Golf Time

Disc Golf Time

Disc Golf Time

Disc Golf Time

Disc Golf Time

Disc Golf Time

Playing Around in the Snow

Playing Around in the Snow

By the time we approached hole seven, the wind started picking up and snow was falling. We decided to call it an evening and headed back to the cars for some hot chocolate Matt made. Neither couple ate dinner yet so we set our sights on the Two Brothers Tap House. Dinner and conversation couldn’t have been better. We caught up on each other’s lives over some beer and excellent food.

I’m glad we were able to play outside before the second round of Chiberia took hold. And who knows, maybe we’ll start making winter disc golf a popular activity.


Dealing with #Chiberia January 8, 2014

Chiberia is finally starting to thaw out. Today was my first day back at work, after closing this past Monday and Tuesday due to the weather. Matt and I ended up with a longer post-Christmas break than planned. How did we pass the time without going stir crazy? Here’s our top ten list of how to get through sub-zero temperatures and a foot of snow.

  1. Complete a 1,000+ puzzle. Special shout out to my mom and dad for buying us this awesome beer puzzle.

    1,000 Piece Beer Puzzle

    1,000 Piece Beer Puzzle

  2. Watch a trilogy movie series. We watched The Lord of the Rings extended edition. However, Star Wars or even to Matt’s dismay, the original Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth would also suffice.
  3. Snowshoe. Yep, we went out on Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening. Saturday was perfect, we wrapped up just before the snow started and temperatures plummeted. Sunday was a little brutal. Matt said I experienced closed to near mountain-like conditions. Glad I could cross that off my list.

    Snowshoeing out and about

    Snowshoeing out and about

  4. Get out the crockpot. First on my list was homemade chili. It does a great job warming you up after snowshoeing in subzero temperatures.
  5. Bake. Corn muffins complement chili too well to pass up. Plus the oven is an excellent extra heating source in the house.
  6. Find a favorite spot on the couch. Don’t be afraid to call dibs.
  7. If you’re looking to be productive, do a little organizing. This included reviewing and shredding many files. Three paper grocery bags later, I felt better and my file cabinet was a lot lighter.
  8. Catch up on new movies. Matt and I ventured out to the theatres to see The Hobbit. We also stayed in-doors and watched The Croods and Hot Fuzz.
  9. Finish a TV series. We’ve been working through a variety of British sitcoms and wrapped up “Coupling”. Definitely check it out on Netflix for a good laugh.
  10. Make soup. If it’s only January and the weather is this bad, I’m stocking up on soup. I made one of my favorites because it’s simple, easy and cheap: French Onion. Here’s the recipe I use:

French Onion Soup

4 medium onions                                                                                          2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cans (10.5 oz each) condensed beef broth                                     1 1/2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon pepper                                                                                   1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 dried bay leaf                                                                                              4oz Gruyère, Swiss or mozzarella cheese (shredded)
4 slices (3/4 to 1 inch thick) French bread                                         1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Peel and cut the onions into slices. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in whatever stock soup pot you use. Stir in onions to coat with butter. Cook uncovered 10 minutes, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes.

    Onions Just In The Pot

    Onions Just In The Pot

  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered 35 to 40 minutes longer, stirring well every 5 minutes, until onions are deep golden brown (onions will shrink during cooking).

    The Same Onions 40 Minutes Later!

    The Same Onions 40 Minutes Later!

  • Stir in broth, water, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Heat to boiling over high heat. Once mixture is boiling, reduce heat. Cover with lid and simmer 15 minutes. 
  • You may need to move the oven rack so it is near the broiler. Set the oven control to broil. On a cookie sheet, place the bread slices. Broil with tops about 5 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn bread over; broil 1 to 2 minutes longer until golden brown. Or you can always use a toaster to get the same effect. Your choice! Place toasted bread in 4 ovenproof bowls or individual ceramic ramikins.
  • Remove bay leaf from soup. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with cheeses. Place bowls in pan with shallow sides.
  • Broil soup bowls with tops about 5 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or just until cheese is melted and golden brown.

How have you passed the time in the polar vortex of 2014?


Sledding in the Back-Country February 6, 2013

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:21 pm
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The snow totals have been quite dismal in Chicago once again. Finally this weekend we got enough that Matt and I could go and play in it. The accumulations weren’t enough for snowshoeing but it was just enough for a hike and a bit of sledding.

I always forget how much “gear” is involved when going out into the snow. Or at least when going out into the snow with Matt. With Radioactive by Imagine Dragons blasting in the house, we got started by organizing our gear. First stop layering. Literally from our heads to toes we were layered. Which I am always thankful for, because it does keep me nice and warm (but not too warm that you’re sweating buckets.) Next stop gathering some snacks, packing a water bottle, sleds and camera.

We went to the same spot that Matt had taken me snowshoeing last year. The day was perfect. Sunny, clear and minimal wind. We trekked along the trail looking for good inclines/declines on the trail that we could sled down. Our first spot was pretty good. We got about one-two runs on it each where we quickly learned a few lessons. When sledding down trails, be ready to use your arms/legs as rudders. They will save you from spinning around, going backwards or from slamming into fallen trees. (Yes, I learned the later the hard way. I’m totally ok though!)

Sledding in the Back Country!

Sledding in the Back Country!

The next spot was better. Matt and I were able to go about 2-3 times. Then a very nice group of 6 people came by with four dogs and walked right through our sledding hill. So it was time to find a new one. The third was definitely the charm. It was probably about 100 yards long with two curves. You couldn’t see the ending point from the starting point and there were no fallen or free standing trees that you could slam into! Woohoo! Unfortunately, there were a few bumps that you had to run over at a fast rate. Needless to say, we probably could have used another 2-3 inches of snow to avoid our butts being sore the next day. But it was totally worth it! We probably went down about 3-4 times.

My poor broken sled

My poor broken sled

Hopefully we get some more snow because I would love to go back sledding. Plus I still need to break in my snowshoes. Fingers crossed we get some more snow!


A Winter Escape to Michigan February 15, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:06 pm
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Apparently I cannot get out of Illinois enough these days. A few weeks ago it was California, then Florida and last weekend was Michigan. My best friend Jill finally returned home from a three month vacation from Australia and New Zealand and last weekend was the first time I was able to see her.

Jill’s mom actually booked a “barn” near Arcadia, Michigan for the whole family to enjoy. Arcadia is about 45 minutes south east of Traverse City for those who have some familiarity with the state of Michigan. The drive up was very intense. Naturally, I had to go through a snowstorm extending my drive time from five and hours to seven. Awesome. I honestly think it was the first time I drove well below the speed limit for the whole trip slightly white knuckled.

Happy to say, everyone made it safely. Our first night at the house we played a few rousing games of Apples to Apples and caught up with one another over beer. In the morning Jill and I were assigned to breakfast. On the menu were apple cinnamon pancakes and chocolate chip pancakes with a side of bacon. We must have done a good job since there were hardly any leftovers.

With a full stomach, Jill, myself, Jill’s mom and step-dad and cousin set out for a hike. We drove about a half hour north west of the barn to a national park that runs along Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes. We enjoyed an almost three-mile hike looping through the trees. We kept our eyes out for different animal tracks but didn’t see any furry creatures. The coolest part of the hike was climbing on the dunes of Lake Michigan. I simply found it strange walking on sand with snow all around me. It was just weird.

After our hike we headed back to munch on leftover chili. The rest of the weekend we talked, played all sorts of board and card games. It was nice relaxing weekend with family and I even got to catch up with Jill! That was definitely a win. Another win, was driving home in less than five hours because there wasn’t a snowstorm! Oh, how the little things in life make a big difference.

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Ready Set Snowshoe! January 25, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:05 pm
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The winter of 2012 is off to a slow beginning at least when it comes to “feeling” like winter. Part of me is thrilled with the mild temperatures in Chicago. There has been no great need to break out the long underwear or even to keep your car brush handy in the morning. However, the other part of me though misses admiring the glistening white powder drifting down from the sky and of course playing in it!

To date, total snowfall accumulation has not reached 10 inches. Luckily though, last weekend we did get a sizeable dump of snow. The timing of it was not the best with snow falling at an inch per hour around rush hour. The end result was five inches comfortably resting on the ground. Finally some snow to play in!

Naturally, Matt was thrilled with the snow fall.  Almost immediately, he suggested we go snowshoeing. My vote was for snow angels. Unfortunately I lost. But, I’m a good sport and being game for anything, I of course said yes.

Our first stop in our outdoor adventure was to rent snowshoes. Matt’s car magically routed us to REI. Looking to increase my winter apparel; I picked up a new pair of wind resistant mittens. No time like the present to test out a new pair of mittens while snowshoeing! Restraining himself very well, Matt only picked up a repair kit for snowshoes.

Finally making it to the rental desk we were able to secure the last pair of snowshoes. As a member of REI you can rent snowshoes for a reasonable $20 per day. Not too bad when you think a movie costs about $10-12 and lasts about two hours.

Taking A Break

With snowshoes in hand we headed back to get all of our gear and proper winter attire. We packed a water bottle, a few snacks and a first aid kit, just in case. As soon as we got on the highway ramp, we got off just as quick. At first I was just a little confused. Matt parked us literally right off the highway ramp. Yes, there was a wooded area in front of us, but my initially reaction was, “really? This is it?”

The location could not have been better to test my snowshoe legs out. There were no other people around to watch me fall. Which for the record was only twice, and I’ve been told by reliable sources that is very good.

As we moved into the thicket the noise of the highway faded away. My faithful guide found a cross-country skier’s path that we used to complete about a three and a half mile trek. We kept our eyes out for animal tracks and spotted a few deer, squirrel and maybe even a fox or coyote.  About after a half hour of walking, the sun started to peak out from the clouds illuminating the snow and trees. The winter scene was quiet beautiful. Who knew secluded places like this existed in our own backyard of Chicago!

My first experience snowshoeing went splendidly and I’m totally ready for my next. Maybe it will be up in Michigan or Wisconsin….who knows! I’m looking for other fun spots around Chicago, so feel free to add a comment about your favorite place for snowshoeing and/or other winter activities.

All I can say is that I’m very lucky I have an experienced guide and a REI membership.



Boots with the Fur September 27, 2011

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 10:34 pm
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I just finished Glee {an improvement from last week, but still not up to its usual caliber} and The New Girl ahourago and was supposed to start writing my post, but instead I got a little caught up on Pinterest.  I know you’ve already heard me talk about my addiction, but that doesn’t make me stop! While I was there I found these:

Joan of Arctic Boot

I’ve already talked myself out of buying them.  I mean I live in Chicago.  A cold place but not Antarctica or anything.  Last February we did have that one snow storm {that shut down almost everything}, but that is a once-a-decade sort of thing.  Right?  I feel like Chicago would need more snow for me to invest in these.  See I’ve talked myself out of these, it’s okay my bank account is safe!


And I’m sick of the Ugg look.  They’re obviously very popular.  You can tell by all the knockoffs in the marketplace {we all know imitation is the sincerest of flattery}.  Hey I had a pair from Steve Madden that looked very similar.  I loved them because they are so easy to wear.  They slip on and off, but their ‘no fuss’ quality is all I can say for them.  Perhaps I need to find something more in the middle.

Any by the way I know it’s a bit early to be discussing boots, I mean for goodness sakes the trees still have leaves.  I most certainly DO NOT want to rush fall.  However, I do need new boots for this winter.  I actually made myself throw out those Steve Madden boots last Spring so that I wouldn’t be tempted to wear them for another year.  They were disgusting.  Full of salt and even had holes!  Okay, well the search continues.  If anyone has any ideas for me post a link and help a girl out!


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