Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Milwaukee Day 3 December 9, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:57 pm
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I know you might be sick of Milwaukee already, but there is a third and final day and I haven’t told you about it yet.  I’ll get through it and I promise next week will be something different!  These have been helpful though because I have a lot going on with work and party planning, and then Christmas soon too.  It is nice not to have to think up a topic every week.

First thing we did was check out from the hotel and then walk a few blocks South to The Spice House.  I really wanted to stop in here because I wanted to stock up on a few things.  It was clearly a loved place, there were a lot of people in there and it was a Sunday.  I stocked up on a few spices I’ve been needing and then we hurried on our way to eat something.

spiceA little further South we hunted for an found HoneyPie.  We decided to sit at the bar instead of fitting in a corner next to a table with young children.  Good decisions!  I love sitting at bars because you can make new friends.  I made a friend next to me with a local who comes by often.  I knew it had to be good if he was a regular.  We also made friends with the bartender who taught me to pour syrup in my coffee instead of using sugar.  Do you even need to hear about the rest of what I have to say on this place?  Okay maybe a little more.  The food was delicious.  I had something consisting of potatoes, eggs, and pulled pork.  We were too full to eat dessert, but he gave us a flyer for mini pies that they deliver anywhere in the country.  I kept mine, never know it might come in handy some day.


We actually had to hurry out of there because it was getting late in the afternoon and Dave wanted to see this place called the Chudnow Museum, or more accurate- he wanted me to see this Museum of Yesteryear.  It was $5 a person to get into a house that had rooms filled with items from Milwaukee in the 1920’s.  There were two very knowledgeable gentlemen there.  They were so detailed that you might say it was overwhelming.  If you are a history buff when it comes to pop culture, this is a good place for you to visit.


Last thing on our list and good thing because we were running out of time, was Lakefront Brewery.  It wasn’t far from the museum so we hurried over and made the last tour of the day.  It was $7 a person and you got a tour, 4 tokens for beer, and a full sized pint glass.  Even though he forced us to have a Laverne and Shirley sing-a-long, the tour guide was pretty entertaining.  Fun Fact- Lakefront’s bottling line is from the Schiltz factory which was on the intro to Laverne and Shirley.


We ended the trip at a bar called Stubby’s and ate a little something before leaving town.  Had to have cheese curds at least once when visiting Wisconsin!  The Packers game was on and it was pretty depressing for us.  The bartenders poured shots for the whole bar every time they scored.   Just gotta say there were some pretty drunk people at that bar…

We had a great time on our trip to Milwaukee.  I feel like when you go somewhere close it doesn’t seem that exciting.  But we found plenty to do and see, not to mention eat and drink.  There were a few things we missed on our list:  Mars Cheese Castle and the Jelly Belly Factory.  Guess we’ll have to make another trip someday!  Until then I made sure to pick up some Spotted Cow on our way out so I could take a piece of Milwaukee with me (at least until the beer’s gone)!

beer curds

I love my photo being taken when I’m freezing!


Open House Chicago October 28, 2014

DSC_0027Have you ever heard of Open House Chicago? I hadn’t either until I saw a post my cousin Pat placed on Facebook.  It’s an event that the Chicago Architecture Foundation sponsors where 150 otherwise private buildings open their doors for people to look around.  Sounds intriguing right?  Sorry to disappoint you,  but it was two weekends ago so you’ll need to wait until next year to attend.  I saw my cousin’s post on that Friday and immediately wanted to go.  I had a bit of a packed weekend and didn’t really know how I was going to fit it in.  On top of my planning issue, I wanted a fancy camera with me to capture what was sure to be amazing sites.  Problem is my main camera is my iPhone.  Not what I had in mind.  I was going to try to get up early Saturday to go but it didn’t happen.  I did some things around the house and the apartment ended up a lot cleaner, but I was kicking myself for not going.  Still when I went to bed Saturday I wasn’t sure if I would go.  I woke up Sunday and started thinking of excuses and reasons not to go, but then I got a little fed up with myself and decided to just go.  I reminded myself that I live 20 minutes from Chicago and even if I got to see 1 place, I would be pleased that I went at all.

My sweetheart dad stopped by to bring me his camera and show me how the different lenses work and my sister agreed to go with me!  After picking her up and grabbing some coffee {or in my case hot chocolate} we were on our way to the city.  We found street parking right away and I realized everything was a lot easier than I was making it out to be.  We hit up the Chicago Board of Trade building first.  They were allowing people to see the vault in the basement.  When we arrived they told us it would be an hour wait, but luckily that was a gross overestimate.  We made it down to the vault in about 15 minutes and got to take a walk inside.  I was most impressed by the door and the size of the hinges on that thing!  It was very crowded and sweltering down there so after a few minutes we made our way outside

vault 2


and headed East to see The Blackstone.  It’s a hotel that over 12 US Presidents have stayed in {Roosevelt  all the way to Carter}.  After that it fell into disrepair and it wasn’t until 2008 that it was restored and reopened.  A guy in line at the vault told us ‘if we wanted to see luxury’ to check out the Hyatt near the Blackstone so that was our next stop.  The main attraction there was the ‘Jewel Boxes.’ These are silver additions to the hotel that President Obama, among other fancy people, have stayed in.  Honestly, with both of these hotels, the best part was the view.  I have no pictures of the Hyatt’s interior.


I had made a quick list at home and Kate was fine with seeing those so although we were near some other sites, we hurried North up to Randolph so we could see the Joffery Ballet practice space and The Oriental Theatre.  We both agreed that the Joffery Ballet was our least favorite stop.  We had to wait in a long line and were not impressed once inside.  It was more an advertisement for the ballet company than showing you much of the building.  The practice space we saw did have a great view, but otherwise we didn’t see much of the building at all.  We quickly exited and walked one block West to the Theatre.  Neither of us could remember if we’ve ever been to a show there, but both agreed that we probably wouldn’t have noticed all the details with the crowds that usually accompany a show.  Since we were in a bit of a hurry, we didn’t have time to listen to the gentleman in the theater talking history, but god just look at these details:



The last spot we were hoping to see was the Lyric Opera House.  We were trying to make it over there and see it before our parking meter was up and we needed to make it back to the car.  Unfortunately we figured out that that site had closed earlier in the day at 1:30pm.  It wasn’t meant to be, but we did make one last stop at Union Station where they had 2 spaces open off the huge main hall: the Women’s and Men’s Lounges.  Which by the way aren’t lounges anymore.  The Men’s is an art gallery and the Women’s is literally a storage space for Christmas decorations.  The only nice part was the cellist playing in that space.  It’s always nice to see the hall though and I snapped a few of my favorite details so it wasn’t a total loss.

We made it back to the car the same minute our parking ran out and were pleased to see we had pretty much reached our FitBit step goals for the day {always a pleasant surprise}.  I was so glad I went and now I am even more excited to go next year.  I think I will plan a bit more and maybe even go down Saturday and Sunday so I can see more places.



Quick NYC Trip October 14, 2014

I was in New York for a 3 day work trip last week.  Even though I was there for work, I fit a few fun things in that I thought I’d share.  I flew in on Tuesday night and took a cab to the hotel- The Grand Hyatt which is right next to Grand Central Station.  The location is perfect.  It’s a few blocks East of Times Square and a little Southeast of Central Park.  It’s also right next to Grand Central station as I mentioned, so if you wanted to take the subway somewhere you’d be a half block’s walk away.  Walking in the first thing I saw was a white stone statue of a head.  I saw the exact same sculpture in Millennium Park.  I was so curious, I asked the front desk guy about it and he confirmed that the hotel has scaled down versions of the Chicago sculptures in their lobby.


The coincidence made me feel like I was where I was supposed to be.  Sorry if that sounds weird, but I am a big believer in listening to what the world is telling you.  There is a book called, ‘When God Winks’ by Squire Rushnell that talks about coincidences being more than that.  I think it’s one of my favorite books.

Sorry for that side story…Let’s see that night my boss and I went to a nearby Chinese place called Mr. K’s.  It was way fancier than we expected.  It was decorated with a mix of 80’s and Art Deco style.  The chairs were plush and the small little hostess tried to push in our chairs for us.  The cutlery was gold plated (or at least looked like it) and when they brought our drinks, they also brought us each an orchid corsage!  Not something I’m used to!  We ordered an appetizer and after they took our plates away, they brought us a mini chalice of lemon sorbet to cleanse our pallets.


Iggy Azalea’s song ‘Fancy’ was ringing in my ears the whole time.  PS- If you haven’t seen the video, I’m not sure where you’ve been, but you should check it out…it was inspired by the movie Clueless!  Haha!  After dinner we took a short walk by Rockafeller Place, Radio City Music Hall, and finally Times Square. Times Square is overwhelming but we had a chance to get  ideas for shows to see the next night.

photo- nyc

We had all day training the next day, but as soon as it was over we walked back to Times Square.  We wanted to see ‘It’s Only a Play’ with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, but there weren’t any tickets available.  We called the box office about ‘Jersey Boys’ and ‘If/Then’ (Starting Idina Menzel) but there was nothing available for either of those.  We walked by a marquee for a play called, ‘The Real Thing’ starring Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Cynthia Nixon, and Josh Hamilton at the American Airlines Theater (isn’t it sad these theaters are commercial names?).  There were tickets available for that so we got them and then headed to the Shake Shack for a quick dinner.  My boss had never been, but it was as delicious as I remember it being and hunting and competing for a table made me feel like a real New Yorker.  Not sure that’s a personality I want to use often, but it was necessary to secure seats!  On our walk back to the theater, we spied the Cake Boss Café and had a little time to check it out.  We each got a cupcake, which broke my no dessert during the week, but it was worth it 😉


The show was interesting.  I wasn’t exactly a huge fan of the plotline, but I loved seeing some famous people!  I mean how many episodes of Sex in the City have I seen and here was Cynthia acting 20 feet away from me?! No pictures were allowed in that theater, which was very painful for me, but overall it was an entertaining show.  We called it a night after that because we had more training the whole next day.


Our last day of training went well and we had a 45 minute break at lunchtime.  I decided to rush over to the New York Public Library so I could see the inside.  It was closed when my sister and I tried to see it last time I was in NY.  I didn’t have too much time, so I was pretty much running through there, but it was gorgeous architecture.  There were no books to be seen and the Rose Room (the main reading room you see in the movies) was closed, but at least now I can say I was there.


After my training was over that day I headed to the airport to wait for my delayed plane to take me home.  Traveling for work isn’t always this entertaining so I’m really glad I got to see so much of NYC.


Sunday Funday {Better than a Monday} October 7, 2014

‘Sunday Funday better than a Monday, can only do it one way and that is the drunk way!’– You’re the Worst

So maybe we weren’t exactly drunk, but we did have a very fun Sunday this past weekend. Our friends Lei and Chris had invited us to brunch at Nightwood, located in the Pilsen neighborhood downtown. We agreed immediately and then asked them if they wanted to go to the Art Institute later in the day and maybe Eataly if we could fit it in. Dave’s wanted to check out the Magritte exhibit for awhile and October is the last month it will be open there. They picked us up around noon on Sunday and we made a surprise detour to pick up Lei’s sister at the airport. Then we were on our way to go eat some brunch!

I loved the place right away, at first you walk up to an enclosed patio which looked very cozy. It was too chilly to eat outside so we made our way inside which was bustling with people and made me quite glad Lei had made a reservation. The menu is simple which I like because I get overwhelmed when there are too many choices. At the top of the menu were listed two gourmet donuts. One was butterscotch glazed donut with bacon crumble and the other was a chocolate Cremeux donut with a milk powder crumble. Apparently the butterscotch one its always listed and the other one changes periodically. We ordered two of each to share which was a good thing. They were delicious, but very rich. And me with my new vow to have no dessert during the week was a little overwhelmed by the sweetness. For my main meal I ordered the coppa and farm egg sandwich which came with tots.  They were the size of a ping pong ball so in other words…Amazing! Oh and I ordered a Bellini too. We all ordered something different which is always nice so you can try a little of everything. By the way this is one of my favorite things with my friends. We always offer each other a taste or a sip of whatever we’re having. After we ate, we just sat and drank a bit more…Bloody Marys and Beermosas. It was really quite lovely!


After our brunch we made our way over to the Art Institute and the Magritte exhibit. I didn’t know much about the artist other than he is a surrealist and I’m familiar with the painting of the train coming out of a fireplace. He isn’t totally my style, but it was cool to see his work up close and personal and some of it made you think a little which is always a nice bonus.


After Magritte we ventured into the modern wing and saw a lot of cool art that had structure to it.  I think this was my favorite part of the museum.


Then we walked through a section with a lot of Buddha statues to go see the paper weight collection.


It’s been a long time since I’ve been at the Art Institute and it was a great trip  with a bonus of making me feel cultured when we left.

Then we started walking to Eataly.  This is a place Dave and I have been trying to go for months.  It was just about a mile walk up Michigan Ave and we had earned a treat!  When you step inside it’s like a little mall of different foods, drinks, groceries, and cooking items.  We stopped at the Lavazza bar and all had a warm drink while we stared at the Nutella bar.  I’m not kidding, it exists!  Meanwhile the hot chocolate I got was like drinking a melted chocolate bar so I didn’t try to add another chocolate item to my body.  We didn’t have too much time because we had to get back to the burbs, but we checked out the upstairs beer, olive oil, vinegar, and produce sections.  I made it out of there without buying too much- balsamic vinegar and some fancy pasta, but if I stayed as long as I wanted to I probably would have bought the whole place!  It was a jam-packed day but we had such a great time and now we can mark a few items off our list of things we’ve been wanting to do. Cheers!







Going Out on a Limb or Rather a Ledge July 18, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 9:55 pm
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I love being a tourist in my favorite city, Chicago. Last week Matt and I took the opportunity to visit the Willis Tower Skydeck. Which, for the record, pains me to write Willis, as it will always be the Sears Tower in my mind. But alas, our co-worker gave us two free tickets last year to use at our leisure. However, our leisure was held to a rapidly approaching expiration date. So on we decided to go down on a Monday evening before their expiration of Tuesday.

Five years had past since the last time I visited the Skydeck. Personally, I was looking forward to going out on “The Ledge” – glass set of three boxes that extend 4.3 feet out of Willis Tower and 1,353 feet in the air. A few of my friends had ventured out on the ledge and said it was an awesome experience. The best part being the amazing views literally all around you.

Instead of taking our normal Green Line route, we opted to drive in and take our chances with parking. Fortunately, we found excellent spot two blocks away from Willis. The overall emptiness of the loop caught me off guard. A few folks dressed in business attire crossed our path most likely bound for Union Station. There were a few small tourist groups meandering around looking up at the beautiful buildings. And then there was Matt and I walking hand in hand to Willis.

We arrived at our destination just a little after 7PM. There were no lines of people to greet us it was wonderful! We simply walked through roped off areas until we reached the ticket booth. As we breezed by, there were lots of nifty facts that you could learn about, from famous Chicagoans to interactive Google Maps that would zoom out from historic places like Millennium Park and Wrigley Field to the height of 1,353 feet looking down. Even the elevator ride was full of facts! As you went up the building it compared heights to international landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Giza Pyramids.

Upon reaching the 103rd floor panoramic scenes of Chicago enveloped us. We viewed the “south” end of town making out landmarks in Chinatown and the museums. We were also able to see our kayak route that we took last year up the Chicago River. As we moved eastward, we witnessed breathtaking views of Navy Pier, Millennium Park and the Magnificent Mile. My favorite view was when we faced north. Seeing the skyline at this level gave me a new improved impression of the Trump Tower within the cityscape. Plus, facing north the day was clear enough to even see Wrigley Field!

If you need a break from the views or don’t do well with heights, check out the nifty history exhibit that wraps around the inner wall of the 103 floor. You can learn about everything from Chicago as a settlement to the Great Fire, the World’s Fair and how Chicago became the great city we have today.

There were a few items of interest from the scenic views. One was the number of rooftop gardens. I was surprised how many and grass at the top of their buildings. Another was how drought had affected Chicago. Downtown and the city proper maintain a few areas of open land for parks and recreation. It was quite sad to see how dry the land looked. What should be normally green and vibrant were shades of tan and brown.

And I did step out onto the ledge. My eyes were open the whole time and I didn’t even hesitate walking the plank. Or rather walking on clear class at a ridiculously high elevation. The views were amazing. And how often can you say you can see 1,353 feet clearly below you. Not often for sure. Here are a few pictures from our adventure. And no, we didn’t actually fall, we just pretended.

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‘I’m Here to Learn’ April 3, 2012

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 9:09 pm
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Those were Dave’s words as we entered the Museum of Science and Industry this weekend.   I laughed at him, but that’s just what we ended up doing.  I originally thought of the idea as a surprise for Dave.  I love surprises so I thought I’d plan one for him.  I ended up having to tell him on Saturday night because he was so antsy and I knew he’d want some say in the final plan.  To my delight he was excited about my idea so we moved forward with a game plan for Sunday.  The new Mythbusters exhibit was what peaked my interest and made me want to go to the museum in the first place.  I had heard about it and it sounded intriguing.  So off we went to the museum!

You have to have a timed ticket to enter the Mythbuster’s exhibit and our time was 12:30pm.  So we headed to the Science Storms exhibit which was right across the hall from the Mythbusters.  This is when I got really excited.  Just look at how inviting and awesome this section looks:

 We didn’t know where to go first.  We saw a huge disk full of sand that was mimicking avalanches, we helped create a tornado/vortex that went from the floor all the way to the ceiling (!), we launched hot air balloons, made rainbows, and saw lightening (yes inside!).   I think we spent the most time in this exhibit because there was just so much hands on stuff.  My favorite thing was this:

I’m not sure what it was supposed to teach me, but I had a blast making the bouncy ball float in the air.  We ate a quick lunch in the Brain Foodcourt and headed over to start our Mythbusters adventure!  This was a fun space and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone so I won’t go into too much detail.  I just wanted to say that the exhibit is very hands on and reminded me that it’s fun to learn by doing instead of always reading about something.  Just a few things we got to experiment with were: whipping a tablecloth off a set table (I only knocked 2 items over!), driving blind, hanging off a ledge, and dodging a bullet.  Yep, that’s what I said!  Just one quick picture of that:

After Mythbusters we wanted to see what else the museum had to offer.  There is an exhibit I’ve never seen before called:

This was another one I really liked because it teaches you about humans.  I got to see my heart beat on a huge heart on the wall, and test the calmness of my mind by playing Mindball against Dave.  You put a little strap on your head and sit down at a table with a ball in between you.  Then you try your best to calm your mind.  Whoever is calmest moves the ball away from them and if they continue they will win!  Here is a shot of our Mindball game:

Those are my brainwaves on the left, and Dave (the winner) , calm as can be, on the right

Dave’s favorite area was called ‘Fast Forward… Inventing the Future.’  I must say it was pretty inspirational.  There were many different pioneers highlighted in the exhibit and they all are involved in things I could never dream up on my own.  Music from a table, farming in a high-rise building…much much more, but you can go see it yourself.  I will show you the quote on the wall when you walk out.  It made me think twice:

We also had a lot of fun seeing the classic Museum of Science and Industry exhibits.  Colleen Moore’s Fairycastle is always a favorite of mine as well as the Farm Tech exhibit.  Here you can see me enjoying the farming area in this lovely John Deere tractor:

And what would a trip to the museum be without a plastic mold to take home?


Be a Tourist in your own Town October 6, 2010

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:00 am
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A few weeks ago our dearest friends happened to be descending upon Chicago at the same time.  It was very special because it has been about seven years since we’ve all been in school together.  (Wow that makes us sound much older than I feel!)

I was asked to create a sight-seeing itinerary for the group. At first I thought, ‘Oh easy, there so many things to do in Chicago!’  Then I became overwhelmed thinking, ‘Oh gosh there are so many things to do in Chicago!’  I made an extensive list and then narrowed it down by planning a mix of sights that were easy to get to and affordable.

When the day came I had everything mapped out.  First stop was the Sears Tower ($16 for each adult…the pictures make it worth it).  Last time I went to the Sears Tower I was in 1st grade.  In 20 years time not a lot has changed besides a silly decision to change the name/owner of the building and one special addition: The Ledge.  Pretty much it is a glass box that hangs over the side of the building.

After we made it back down to Earth, we walked over to the Buckingham Fountain (free activity) and almost melted in the sun.  Luckily Millennium Park (free activity) is close by and I knew just the spot to cool down!  The Lurie Gardens in the park are tucked away behind the Great Lawn and have a lovely little boardwalk with a small stream to cool off your tired feet.  We sat there for awhile until a security guard scolded us for standing up in the stream to take pictures.  So we took off to enjoy a walk down Michigan Avenue.

We made our way over to Portillos for some Chicago-style hotdogs (mustard, onions, relish, a pickle spear, tomato slices, peppers, and a dash of celery salt, notice I did not mention ketchup, this is not an accident).

Eating gave us enough energy to make it to the Chicago River for a Wendella Architecture Boat tour ($25 for each adult, worth it for the unique knowledge).  My friends insisted we’d been on the tour before in high school, but it all sounded new to me!  If you’ve never been on that tour before you have to check it out.  Our guide taught us some really cool stuff…like, did you know the Lyric Opera House was made to look like a throne?

After our boat tour we walked  to the train station and hopped a train home.  We made it just in time for a home-cooked dinner by Karla to celebrate everyone being in town.

To have friends in from England, Michigan, and Charleston, IL at the same time was very special.  And to be able to explore our hometown together made it even more meaningful.  I encourage you to visit and enjoy your own city on your next day off!


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