Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

The Inauguration into Wine Club July 23, 2014

Every other week or so Matt and I try to do a date night. In the past we’ve done mini-golf, kayaking, movies and breweries. We try to make it an activity so it’s not always going out for food. Personally, I love our outings because we try new things and it’s not always a budget buster.



This weekend we added something new to our date nights with wine tasting. My knowledge of wines is solely based on my experiences in southwestern Michigan. I love all the vineyards stretching from about mile 10 through mile 40 on I-94. If you get a chance, I definitely recommend exploring the wine trail. But that’s for another blog post :).

Our destination was Tasting deVine, located in downtown Wheaton. Tasting deVine is adorable and Matt and I are already planning our next visit. The storefront has a cute outdoor area where you can enjoy a sample, glass or split a bottle of wine with friends. On the inside there is a large bar for sampling as well as smaller tables for you to enjoy your wine. They also offer a small and large cheese and fruit plate to compliment your wine selection.

The tasting room and tables were quite full when we arrived close to dinner time on a Saturday evening. So, we headed to an open spot at the bar and were greeted by friendly staff who walked us through our tasting options of Lynfred wine. Fun fact about Lynfred Winery is it is the oldest and largest winery in Illinois. The winery is actually located in Roselle, Illinois but there are two tasting locations where you can also sample and buy Lynfred, the one in Wheaton and also in Naperville.

Matt decided on a red sample flight and I chose a white one. We were given a menu of the three wines for our sampling that included descriptions and a pairing guide for meals. I tried to take a picture to remember what we sampled and one of the bartenders told me I could just take the menu. Yay for friendly staff!

The staff elaborated on all the wines which was very helpful to learn more about them and the winery itself. My favorites were the Chenin Blanc and the Marsanne. Matt’s were the Sangiovese and Syrah. The samples change on a monthly basis so there is something new to look forward to.

We had such a good time talking more with the bartender about wines and our experience with them, he encouraged us to learn more about their membership club. Before we knew it, we signed up to be wine club members! Tasting deVine has 5 different clubs to choose from. We selected the new release of the month club where members receive a soon to be released bottle wine which alternates between a red and white every month. There is no fee to the membership and you get discounts on bottles and cases as well as opportunities to attend wine club member events and special promotions. As you can see, it’s a good deal if you enjoy a bottle of wine.

Maybe after a year in this wine club Matt and I will be ready to take on Napa Valley!


Wine-Themed Wedding Shower June 29, 2013

A few weeks ago was round 2 of wedding showers for my friend Audrey (y’all saw me post round 1 and the “Royal Bacheloress” theme a few weeks ago).  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend because it was in Philly, which is a long and expensive plane ride from Denver, but I did help her mom and aunt with the theme from afar.

Seeing as the bride and groom both love wine (living in LA, they get to experience a lot of tasty wines in Cali), her mom and I thought wine would be appropriate for the woodsy house venue where the shower would be held.

We tried to up-cycle as much as we could…the bride’s mother and I both adore wine, so collecting bottles as vases for floral centerpieces was easy!  We went DIY on the rest of the decor.  We thought since it was a bit more rustic of a venue, doing things like burlap and twine accents might give the shower a more rustic-vineyard feel.  Check out some of our vineyard-inspired decor below…


Triangular cut burlap panels were sewn together on the edges and stenciled in black craft paint to make this cute sign


I stenciled the bride & groom’s initials onto the burlap table runners we used as part of the centerpieces


We bought votive holders and candles at the dollar store, adding printed burlap ribbon from Hobby Lobby to get the same feel as the rest of our decor


This was our final centerpiece mock-up, which of course looked much prettier in the venue with real flowers!

So for our centerpieces, we ended up using saved corks and wine bottles, therefore only had to buy our votive holders, candles, printed burlap ribbon, and burlap fabric from craft stores.  For a couple who loves wine, this is the way to go!


Bridal Gift- A Toast to Special Events July 4, 2012

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 1:35 am
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So I didn’t even open my new glue gun.  The projects I mentioned last week did not happen.  No Fear!  I did do a sort-of project.  I mean I got the idea from Pinterest.  That counts right?  Has anyone else seen this adorable idea for a bride to be?

Click the picture to read about it!

This weekend I had my friend’s Bachelorette party and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to put this project together.  I started off choosing a container for the wine bottles.  To me it was a very important detail.  I really wanted something rustic.  I decided to head over to Marshalls to start.  I prayed I would find something I liked and wouldn’t have to shop a million places {that seems to happen to me when I have a picture in my mind}.  Luckily I found a wire basket I loved right away.  I headed over to Binny’s Beverage Depot next to find the perfect wine bottles.  After a few laps around the wine department I was starting to feel like an alcy.  But eventually after some coaching on the phone {thanks Sarah!} a few stood out to me and I was in line and out the door with the bottles for my bachelorette gift.

Basically I chose bottles of wine with titles that have to do with special events in a couple’s life.  I chose three major events: first fight blowing over, first wedding anniversary, and finding out you are expecting.  It just so happened that the two I really liked had black and red labels.  That made it even easier to make a cohesive look.   I decided against using the poems in the example above and made my own tags.  The poems are cute, but I wanted something simpler.  I just bought plain white tags with white string and wrote with red marker on them:

Ass Kisser Bottle- ‘Open after your first fight has blown over’

Red Knot Bottle- ‘Open on the one year anniversary you tied the knot!’

Fre Bottle- ‘Open when you find out the two of you are expecting!’  <–Fre is alcohol-free wine made by Sutter Homes so even the mother-to-be can enjoy the celebration.

What do you think?

I used bubble wrap to fill the bottom of the basket and then strategically placed tissue paper to make the basket look really full.  I placed each bottle inside so you could read the labels and hung the tags around the necks {somehow I forgot to take a photo with the tags…oops}, and added a red satin bow.  I was very happy with the result and I think the bride enjoyed it as well


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…


Celebrate the Season October 30, 2011

Last night Jonathan and I had a full on festive celebration with our friends Jeff and Krista in honor of tomorrow…Halloween!  Krista was such an excellent hostess, and I thought I’d share with you some of the things that I think you can combine to create a happy Halloween after college.  Because in college I {probably like most of you reading this} just had to throw on a costume and go to a frat party for a fun Halloween.  Once you’re a grown-up life is a little different, but you can adultify your holidays and still have a great time 🙂

Recipe for a festive fall celebration…

1.  Pumpkin carving

2.  Roasting pumpkin seeds {Krista and I discovered this year that the best and easiest way to create delicious seeds is by adding Lowry’s seasoned salt to your pan before you throw them in the oven}

3.  Fall-themed cocktails like spiced cider with rum and mulled wine

4.  A warm meal of soup

5.  A delicious dessert of homemade pumpkin cupcakes {Krista did an awesome job on these, and they were so delicious I’ve eaten about half a dozen of them because she sent some home with us, too!}

6.  Homemade costumes for a costume party…we went with 90’s themed toys this year…troll dolls and teenage mutant ninja turtles, and crafted them all ourselves!

What’s your favorite way to celebrate this season?  I’m always looking for delicious recipes and festive ideas to try, so don’t be shy and share with Uncharted 🙂


Summer Traditions June 29, 2011

Visiting the lazy harbor town of St. Joseph, Michigan, has become a tradition with my friends Jill and Bethany.  In March I book our “rental”, which is the home of friend who graciously allows us to borrow it for the weekend, and is conveniently located three blocks from a public beach. In May and June the emails start flying between Bethany, Jill and myself about who is bringing what grocery items, board games, cards, etc.

We’ve gotten a comfortable routine down. Friday night, get in, unload and grab dinner at Clementine’s. Onion rings for an appetizer are a must – if you’re feeling hungry you can tackle the 12” stack or if you’re just looking for a warm up the 6” is a great option. Main course usually consists of a burger or sandwich. Dessert? Of course! Especially when traveling with Jill. Order the apple dumpling and you won’t be disappointed. After dinner we head back to the house and either head to the beach for the sunset or plan out the next day’s activities.

Saturdays are a mix of wineries and beach. This year we hit up four of our favorite wineries in the early afternoon. Southwestern Michigan is known for their semi-dry whites, which happen to be my favorite types of wines. Our tour started with Lemon Creek Winery (great peach spumante), followed by Tabor Hill (which bottles a demi-sec that’s been served in the White House since the 70’s), then Hickory Creek (nifty apple wine made with 30 different apples), and lastly Round Barn (their Edel Doux is my favorite). We usually back a lunch to enjoy at the beach or at the winery as well. Round Barn has an excellent patio to relax in the outdoors with a meal.

Round Barn Winery

The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent building up our summer base coats of redness followed by cooling off with ice cream at Kilwin’s in downtown St. Joseph. Sunday we cleaned up the house and headed back to the beach for one more round on sun.

I love the time I get to spend relaxing on the beach, talking with good friends and sampling wine. It’s one quality weekend and I’m glad it’s become an annual summer tradition.

Sunset on the beach


Lots of love… February 17, 2011

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 7:59 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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? 🙂


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