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 🙂


Weekend in St. Louis April 24, 2013

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 3:06 pm
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Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of touring in the Midwest. A few weeks ago I was up in Milwaukee and this past weekend I was in St. Louis. Matt’s best friend, Ken, lives down there and we decided to visit. It definitely helps when you have a local directing you around! St. Louis has a lot to offer.  Among them are the warmer weather, their zoo and their craft beer scene.



In 2006, my best friend Jill and I took a trip to St. Louis. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been back until this past weekend. One of Jill and my favorite stops was the Zoo. So you had better believe I was going to go again with Matt and Ken. Luckily they were both game for seeing animals – Matt wanted to see the big cats and Ken was probably most enthralled by a  brawl of baby animals between what looked like mini anteaters. My favorite exhibit features the penguins. You can walk right in and practically touch them you are so close. So close that if the penguins splash around a lot you’ll get wet. It’s so cool and they are adorable! One of my other favorite parts of the zoo is it’s free. You can’t go wrong with free admission plus free parking if you don’t mind a little bit of a walk.

After our day of fun at the zoo, Ken treated us to a little brewery tour. Our first stop was Urban Chestnut. We ordered our flights inside and then headed out. Three words: outdoor beer garden. I felt like I was back in Germany, Austria or Switzerland sitting out, enjoying the sun, drinking German style beer, nibbling on a selection of cold meats and cheese while conversing with great people. It was the perfect set-up and the beer is mighty tasty. The beer is what actually flooded back memories of brewery tours and other beer gardens I visited in my college days. Urban Chestnut definitely made me want to hop on a plane and visit my cousins in Germany. And if I can’t do that, I’ll definitely settle for another trip to Urban Chestnut instead.

My flight at Perennial

My flight at Perennial

Next on our brewery tour was Perennial. Once again we started with flights. I ordered the Saison de Lis, the Black Walnut Dunkel, Fantastic Voyage and 17.  Matt also ordered us hot pretzels with a tasty mustard sauce and a potato, pea and crispy prosciutto tart. It was all so good! My favorite beers were the Black Walnut and Fantastic Voyage. They were so good that Matt and I got a growler of the Black Walnut and I limited myself to one 750 mil bottle of Fantastic Voyage which took a lot of restraint. Even though it didn’t have a beer garden, there was plenty of outdoor space with smaller tables or an expansive urban/loft indoor space.

After this trip, I’m pretty sure it will be less than seven years until my next visit to St. Louis. At least, just for the beers and maybe for Ken too!


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…


Oh, How Times Have Changed! May 5, 2011

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 1:58 pm
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It used to be that people went to school, grew up, got married, settled down, found a job they liked, and worked there forever.  It’s not like that anymore.  The older generation {for me that means grandparents} doesn’t always understand that, either.  They think young people can be flippant and careless about making decisions to move somewhere other than the place they have always called ‘home,’ especially if you’re moving just because you want an adventure, or for someone you’re not married to already.

But times have changed!  Our generation is living in a world where things are unsure, where we feel like we’re always moving at the pace of a mile a minute, and where we are constantly trying to prove ourselves to stay afloat.  You can’t just get one job and stay there forever anymore; that would be an unreasonable expectation, and more likely than not you would find yourself discontented by this fact when you are 90 {if we can even expect to live that long}.  The world has changed since 1952.  Economic development and advances in technology have led to jobs that didn’t even exist 5 years ago, let alone 50!  And those jobs are taking our generation across the state, across the country, even across the globe.  We have lofty goals set for ourselves {believe me, I’m not saying that our grandparents didnt!}, and we live in an age that’s generally motivated by money and career advancement. 

In many cases as of late, our generation has been forced to move on out because of our tough economy.  I can speak for education {among many other professions} in saying that even schools and companies that were begging people to apply 10 years ago now receive up to 400 resumes for a position that has only been posted online for 42 minutes.  It’s tough out there, and hopefully it will get better soon. 

But I guess I’m writing this to tell any of you out there that are in a rough spot that it might be unfortunate that you’re in the place you’re in, but an adventure isn’t unfortunate.  You might have to work a lot harder than our grandparents did when they were 22 to get a job out of college, and {like myself} you might have to send out an average of 53 resumes and applications for each one phone screening you receive.  But you’ll get there, and you’ll be stronger because you did.  And who knows, like mine and Jonathan’s situation, yours might bring you adventure and new opportunity!  I have yet to convince all my relatives that it’s the best idea in the world to move to Denver, but in the end, you have to look out for #1 😉

Speaking of #1….congratulations Stephanie for being the Spring Giveaway winner!  I’ll be contacting you for your address to send the card pack your way.  Hope you enjoy your touch of spring, and that your card recipients do, as well!


The Motor City March 30, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 9:42 pm
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New York was last week’s post and this week’s is about Detroit. Before heading off to Michigan last Friday, I was conversing with a co-worker about our weekend plans. He said, “I’m sorry you’re going to Detroit this weekend.” My response was, “It really isn’t that bad!”

Sometimes I think Detroit has an unnecessarily bad reputation. But that may be that after visiting the area so many times and having a great tour guide, I can see past the negativity.

Here are some of my favorites about Detroit:

The Fist of Detroit - a Monument to Joe Louis

  • Spend a day at the Detroit Zoo and be sure to check out the “Arctic Ring of Life”
  • The battle between University of Michigan and Michigan State University
  • Enjoy the Arabic food…I can taste the chicken shwarma and garlic paste now!
  • The downtown skyline featuring beautiful art deco-buildings
  • You rarely see a Toyota or Honda
  • Listen to Motown music and let it take you back to a golden era in the music industry
  • Go to Miller’s Bar for a burger and you won’t be disappointed
  • The Riverwalk
  • Walk, play in the park, wave to the people in Canada, be amazed by beautiful plants in a conservatory and learn about the shipping history, all at Belle Isle
  • Pottery shops
  • The free concerts at Hart Plaza
  • Sweet vintage and thrift stores filled with treasures
  • Little neighborhoods – like the Mexicantown with its deliciouso bakeries
  • The Riverwalk
  • The opportunity to remember what once was  – Michigan Central Station
  • Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church

So Detroit isn’t exactly like New York. And that’s ok. Detroit has its own story to share. And especially with the recent economic fall-out, it’s an important one to remember.  John Rich sings it best,

“Cause in the real world they’re shutting Detroit down

While the boss man takes his bonus pay and jets out of town

And DC’s bailing out the bankers as the farmers auction ground

Yeah while they’re living it up on Wall Street in that New York City town

Here in the real world there shuttin’ Detroit down.

They’re shuttin’ Detroit down.”

Don’t be too quick to judge and to shut Detroit down.


Thoughts on The Big Apple March 23, 2011

Last week I had my first chance to visit New York City.  One of my good friends invited me to tag along on a girls weekend to visit her young sister with their mom. So naturally, I said yes!

Being a planner, I respectfully submitted my spreadsheet of things to do a month in advance of our trip. I’m happy to report that everything on that spreadsheet got crossed off. What I didn’t expect was to do additional amazing things thanks to the fabulous recommendations from those I traveled with.

Here are few observations from my first trip to NYC:

  • Rarely heard a “true” New York accent. The city was full of international folks from Irish to German to Swedish to Russian.
  • I thought Las Vegas was the city that never sleeps. Apparently, neither does New York.
  • Carnegie Deli serves inhumanly large delicious portions – from cheesecake to Rueben’s bring your appetite and another person to help you eat everything!
  • Check out the ceiling at Grand Central Terminal if you forget your Zodiac sign.
  • Your neck may get a little sore from admiring the towering views.
  • I could buy out the entire Fishs Eddy Store.
  • Bring your shades for Times Square at night.
  • Danielle Radcliffe can really dance and sing. One step closer to being something more than just Harry Potter.
  • Planet Doughnut is a must eat location that was not originally on my spreadsheet. (That’s why you travel with friends who have favorite and AMAZING places to eat!)
  • I saw one mouse in the subway and technically that was in New Jersey.
  • You’ll get your bearings off in Central Park with North, South, East, West but the city is easy to navigate.
  • The best restaurants or bars only have five tables that comfortably sit two.
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral reminded me of Notre Dame – from the interior architecture to the lighting inside.
  • You’re never too old to ride the Ferris wheel, especially when it has a My Little Pony carriage.
  • NYC was surprisingly clean of garbage for no allies.
  • The High Line was flipping amazing. I didn’t feel like I was in the city.  I would love to see something like this in Chicago.
  • Learned a ton at Ellis Island. The museum puts old school immigration in focus. Hard to believe that people (my mom included) came to this country on a boat.
  • While rowing a boat in Central Park, stay low when switching places.
  • The Statue of Liberty is really green.
  • Ground Zero is a sobering location yet bustling with activity.
  • Café Lalo, makes me drool just thinking about it.
  • A 48-hour lock-in at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is still not enough time for me to explore this building.
  • Loved catching up with friends and family.
  • I want to go back at least five more times ok, maybe ten.

New York City


Uncharted territory…literally. October 14, 2010

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 1:18 am
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I’ve always wanted to live somewhere else.  All of my friends have lived some place other than Chicago for at least a short period of time.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown…the incredible history and culture, the windows at Marshall Field at Christmas (no, I still haven’t forgiven Macy’s for taking over), the best pizza I’ve ever experienced (it’s true people, no matter how much you try to deny it, Chicago deep dish is where it’s at).  But part of me has always wanted to try something new…to experience the joys a different city has to offer.  Little did I know that this opportunity would hit me suddenly in mid-June this past summer.

 One night while cooking together in the kitchen of the amazing Chicago apartment I had just moved into and fallen in love with, my boyfriend asked me if I would go with him if he had to move to Denver, Colorado for work.  Of course I hesitated at first, seeing as all my family and friends live in the Chicagoland area.  However, after a bit of time and some serious thought, I warmed up to the idea.  What better than to experience a new city with the love of my life and go on a completely exhilarating adventure?! 

 This past weekend I visited Denver to see Jonathan, and couldn’t help but think about how much fun I’m going to have if I get to live there someday…granted, I need to get myself a teaching job there first, but I’m allowing myself to move a tad in fast-forward to keep my hopes up about being in the same city as J again someday. 

 On Saturday we went hiking on a breathtaking set of trails in the Rocky Mountains.  We got the rare opportunity to see both a panoramic view of downtown Denver on one side of the mountain, and a scenic view of nature on the other side.  Saturday evening we explored downtown Denver.  One of the things I love about Denver is being able to take advantage of the feel of a city…the real hustle and bustle of people around and constant action, but then also being able to drive a mere few miles to access the beauty of nature…the silence and organic smells and views. 

 Hopefully I’ll get to write more about my Denver adventures (let’s be honest, I’ve heard enough advice and great thoughts about this awesome city to last me a lifetime since I started telling people I was looking to move!).  I even have faith that I’ll be able to find at least some DECENT pizza in Denver 😉 Now I just need to get a job there…


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