Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Countdown to Disney World January 21, 2015

Eight years have flown by since I first gazed upon Epcot and Magic Kingdom in all their splendor. Our senior year of college, my friend Jill and I decided to spend spring break near Orlando. We went to Discovery Cove, the Strawberry Festival, caught a Detroit Tigers spring training game and, my personal favorite, spent a few days at Disney World!


Flash forward and it’s 2015. I cannot wait to see how much the parks have evolved since my last visit. I’m also excited to build new memories with Matt. I can see us running around like excited little kids and my parents attempting to corral us without much success, especially when my Dad decides to join Matt and I. Looks like my mom is going to have her work cut out for her!

Matt and I started planning a few months ago when we invited our dear friend Lei and her mom (one of my adopted mom’s) over for dinner. They are frequent visitors to Disney and we were hoping to gather their tips and tricks for our upcoming stay. I was overwhelmed with how helpful they both were. We pretty much planned our entire itinerary after dinner! My adoptive mom even gave us two books, one to help us research and one to keep us entertained while waiting in ride lines. We were definitely set.

What am I most looking forward to? Here’s my list in no particular order:

  • Drinking delicious adult beverages around the world in Epcot
  • Going for a ride on the test track
  • Enjoying the Toy Story ride with Matt and my Dad where we will find out who is the best marksman
  • Seeing the animals up close on the safari at Animal Kingdom
  • Seven Dwarf mines ride
  • Buzz Light Year ride
  • Splash Mountain (with the entire family…it will be EPIC!)
  • Peter Pan ride
  • Dinner at the Contemporary Resort
  • Taking on Everest, at least the ride, Expedition Everest

Guess you’ll have to wait a few weeks for the highlight reel 🙂


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!


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.

photo 1

photo 2


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.

photo 4

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?

photo 3


Gingerbread and Boston December 18, 2013

The 7th annual gingerbread village creation took place this past weekend. This year’s event took a little more coordination than in previous years, because we met up in Boston. As you may recall from a previous post, my best friend Jill moved out to Boston this past spring. Naturally, Bethany, Jill and I wanted to keep the tradition going since we’ve been doing this for seven years!

Bethany and I booked our flights in October and once again we divided up the candy list. We did quite well this year except we forgot sugar cones for our evergreen trees. But that didn’t stop our creativity. We had lots of marshmallows and used those to create shrubberies and an igloo.

By now, we’ve got our schedule down to a science, Friday night after Bethany and I landed and ate a tasty dinner Jill made we got right to work on making our foundations. Jill whipped up an excellent batch of icing and none of us had any major issues in putting up our walls and roofs. The next morning proved to be a little more interesting.

After breakfast we got to work on decorating. Jill’s general store had an awning that proved to be quite difficult. But after some finagling of soup cans and other small cans, she made a support system that would eventually allow her candy canes to take over. Check out the gallery of gingerbread images to see all of the final products.

As for mine and Bethany’s we didn’t have any problems at all. Bethany and Jill were even impressed by my decorating skills. Usually I’m the first one done by about two hours and this year I was last! I think they tricked me though because they gave me the biggest building….

We finished decorating Saturday night just in time for dinner. Jill and her husband Jaz took us to Boston Burger Company. Jill got the Artery Clogger, Bethany the Hot Mess and Jaz and I both got the Run Down. Burgers were delicious. The place also had a nice variety of local beers. To pair with mine, I got a blood orange wheat beer by Somerville Brewing Company. The only bad thing that happened during dinner was that Bethany and my flight got canceled. Luckily, thanks to smart phones we were able to transfer our ticket to a later flight. Phew! Once that was sorted out it was time for dessert next door at J.P. Licks for some tasty ice cream. I enjoyed a small cup of eggnog ice cream that was simply delicious.

The next day Bethany met up with her sister and Jill and I went exploring in downtown Boston. Check out the Boston gallery to see all of the different places we visited and all the snow we trudged through. Here’s a bulleted list of what we accomplished in just a little under three hours:

  • The Old State House

  • Site of the Boston Massacre

  • Saw the Old South Meeting House

  • Went to Faneuil Hall

  • Ate lunch at the Faneuil Hall Market Place (I enjoyed a bread bowl of clam chowder soup)

  • Walked around Boston Commons and saw the Capitol Building

  • Picked up amazing cannoli’s at Mike’s Pastry

  • Went to a ridiculously large Christmas ornament store and bought two ornaments

  • Walked out to Boston Harbor (but didn’t throw any tea overboard)

  • Explored a small corner of Harvard University

We accomplished a lot in a half day but there is still more to see. Guess I better start planning my next trip back to Boston!

Gingerbread 2013 Gallery!

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A few images from trekking around a snowy Boston.

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Rocky Mountain High November 6, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:57 am
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At the end of October Dave and I took a little trip out to Denver to visit our dear friends Jon and {fellow blogger} Sarah.  We have wanted to go for awhile, it’s been two years since I’ve been there and Dave hadn’t been since they moved out there.  On top of that it was Dave’s birthday weekend and we wanted to celebrate the last year of his youth (Haha, sorry honey I’m not sorry).  Our relationship with Jon & Sarah is special because not only are we friends as couples, but me and Sarah have been friends since 1st grade and Dave and Jon have been friends since 8th grade.   We always have a good time when we’re with them and our long weekend in Denver was no exception!   They were sweetheart hosts and fulfilled all our Denver expectations!  I’m going to take you through our itinerary and show you some pictures and perhaps one day if you are ever going to Denver you’ll go some of the cool places we went!


Day 1:

Arrive in Denver pretty late.  I am prepared with Claritin, Flonase, and plenty of water to ward off any altitude sickness I may have in store (last trip I was dizzy most the time).  This time I had really no issue except for a few minutes on a hike.

Day 2:

Slept in and headed over to a lovely place called Jelly in the Capital Hill neighborhood.  All I have to say is I loved every little bit of that place and I want a lemon custard donut now!  The atmosphere, the service, the food, it was all incredible.


We had a brief terrifying moment where a wasp the length of my wrist landed on me, but after Jon valiantly swiped him away we were off to Golden, CO the home of Coor’s Brewery!  I can’t lie.  I didn’t have high expectations for this place.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a huge beer drinker.  However it was a really cool tour and I can’t argue with the 3 free beers offered at the end.


We made our way back to Sarah & Jon’s and soon it was time for dinner.  We were joined by our friend Stan and we all made our way over to Steuben’s.  They serve American classics and I really enjoyed the retro décor in there.  We hung out at a place called Ace afterwards that has ping pong tables you can rent (!) but the wait was super long and we were all a bit tired so we went home to rest up for the next day.

Day 3:

We ate a mini breakfast at the apartment and then headed out to Idaho Springs, CO to explore the little town and have a day at the Indian Hot Springs for Dave’s birthday.  The town was super cute and we explored some of the shops and then ate lunch at Tommy Knocker.  We hurried on over to the spa for our Jacuzzi reservation at 1 and got changed.  It was a nice setup, they had private hot tubs along the bottom of the mountain and we were assigned to the Zuni Bear tub.


We relaxed for about an hour and then made our way to the mud room where you basically apply mud to your body and then sit and wait for it to dry.  If it sounds boring you’d be wrong…it was highly entertaining watching everyone dry up and look like a weirdo.  We washed up, checked out the cave bath’s down under the building (creepy, but cool?) and then headed home to prepare for Dave’s birthday dinner at the Denver Chop House.  More friends joined us for dinner and we had a great time catching up and spending time together.

girls boys

It was the weekend to celebrate Halloween, and even though none of us dressed up we went out after dinner and enjoyed some dancing and people watching at Punchbowl.

Day 4:

We all slept in after out splendid night out and pulled ourselves out of bed for brunch at Syrup.  After we were all happily full (my pancakes had sausage patties inside them!) we decided to go on a hike to work off all the food and drinks!  Sarah researched a brand new State Park that opened earlier in the year called Staunton Park.  We headed over and proceeded to take in a lot of beautiful scenes.


  The only downer is the lake the trail goes by is currently under construction so you don’t get to see a beautiful lake, but the rest made up for it!  We made our way back to Denver.  Stopped for an awesome Chinese dinner (we were all pleasantly surprised how good the food was) and had a beer at the Copper Kettle nearby.  We capped off the night with a movie- Dave put in a birthday request for Bad Grandpa.  It was okay but I really only laughed once or twice. ..

Day 5:

The last day we snuck in another breakfast at Syrup, but this time in downtown Denver, ran over to Great Divide so Dave could sample a beer from their tap room and then it was off to the airport to go home.  It’s always sad to say goodbye to our friends, but luckily we already know the next time we’ll see them.  That makes it a little easier and we were delighted to get to spend a few days with them in their town.  Thanks for all the hospitality!


Ain’t Travel Great? April 23, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 10:09 pm
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Hi All! Thought I’d be able to write my post on my plane ride tonight and post when I arrived home, but turns out I’m stuck in NYC tonight! My flight just kept getting pushed later and later so when they updated us that it would be delayed until 2am I decided to make other plans. I gotta get to bed now so I can wake up in 5 hours and get back to the airport, but I will post later this week instead. I guess travel is great when it’s great and bad when it’s bad!



Planning for the Big Apple April 9, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:40 pm
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My sister and I are planning a last minute trip to NYC.  It’s been almost exactly 14 years since we were last there.  We have been furiously planning this past week because the trip is a bit last minute.  While it can be a bit nerve-wracking, I actually love last minute trips because you don’t have to wait so long.  You plan and then get to experience it all right away!

We are somewhat methodical when planning a trip {this is a huge understatement}.  First thing we do is start a Google spreadsheet in Drive and share it with each other.  Then we get to work on creating different tabs: Dining, To-Dos, Flight Information, and Accommodations.  For New York our columns consist of: Item, Neighborhood, Address, Phone, Hours, Cost, Website, and Notes.  We set to work by filling in things to do and places to eat by researching online and asking around for some opinions {Asking for opinions on Facebook landed me 13 likes and 14 comments so far!}.  We only add things we think we might be interested in, but just because it’s on the spreadsheet doesn’t mean it will actually happen.  We try to keep the idea in our heads that if something doesn’t go according to plan we are okay with that.  In fact we usually prioritize what items are must do’s and which ones we can live without.  Seeing a play on Broadway was a must so we already booked tickets to see Chicago while we’re there.  After we have plenty on there, my sister usually starts mapping and color coding the items that are closest to each other.  This way we can see what makes sense to visit in the same day.  This requires some time and effort, but pays off big time when you realize you would have had to zig-zag and trek all around the city if you didn’t take the time to plan according to location.  Here is screen shot of the spreadsheet:

travel plan

We also made spreadsheets for our DC trip with our cousin and our NOLA trip together a few years back.  I would say we get better at it with each trip.  It’s very helpful if you want to experience a lot.  If you just want to relax, it’s probably not the ideal way for you, in fact you might want to go without a plan and see what happens.  I personally feel like I’m missing out if I don’t have a plan.  Reminds me of setting a goal list.  It’s easier to accomplish goals if you have them laid out.  If you have any recommendations for our trip please comment and let us know.  We especially like to hear about places to eat.  It’s not hard to figure out where our priorities lie!


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