Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Murphy Boy Weekend

This past Memorial Day weekend was a blast. Two boys were home visiting from the military and one was enlisting.
Jamie, Joey, Tamra and Brayden
The main event was a picnic on Saturday for Jamie, the Marine-to-be. His parents threw an amazing party in their backyard with tons of delicious food. Check out the cheese dip:

With all these Murphy boys in town, we headed to the Murphysboro sign to take a group shot. Yes, we had to pull over on the shoulder and cross over the ditch. The result was worth it:
Jamie, Seth, Kie, Gavin, Brandon, Jarrod, Joey, Mr. Hall, Brayden

The after-party was held at Brayden's Mom's bar the Da-Nite. We pretty much took over the place. Woodchuck was on draft for $1. Need I say more?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Crazy Joe's Fish House

On Friday night we headed to Crazy Joe's Fish House in Ava, IL for dinner. This place is in the middle of nowhere and only open on Fridays and Saturday nights.
The bathrooms are outside
When you enter, the menu is on a big whiteboard and you order at the kitchen.
They give you a ticket and you go over to the dining room to wait for your food. Check it out, it's an old barn decked out in odds and ends:
We sat at the picnic tables in the middle by the band. The Swamp Tigers were playing. We got started on some beer while waiting for our food. I ordered the Alaskan Whitefish with Joe's fries.
Joe's fries are homemade chips with a bit of seasoning. It was a little bit of a wait but worth it. Southen Illinois does fried food right : )

Saturday, May 28, 2011

People of Southern Illinois

Not a person, per say, cars seems to be the easiest pictures to get. But this one sure is special:
Spotted in Carbondale

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Trip Home

I got to spend this past weekend at home in McLean, VA visiting my family. I left Thursday evening after work and made the trip to St. Louis' Lambert Airport. As you can see the airport is still being repaired from the tornado damage:
My departing flight was with United to Chicago and then onto Washington-Dulles. The reason I came home (for the first time since moving) was because my brother Alex graduated from George Mason University.

On Friday morning Jeila and I headed over to Tysons Corner to visit my mom at work at Deloitte. She is the front desk receptionist. Check out her swanky office:
Then we headed over to the mall. The metro tracks have certainly taken over - exciting! We stopped in all my favorite stores but didn't buy anything. The highlight of the trip was my favorite Dippin Dots treat, Orange Sherbet:
Obsessed with this Flavor
Friday night was spent in Reston. We ate dinner at Big Bowl in the Reston Town Center and later that evening we went to The Reston Rave to see Bridesmaids.

On Saturday we slept in, had pancakes and headed back to McLean to set up for the graduation party. Although I missed Alex's formal ceremony, at least I got to go to the party. Cutting the cake:

The best part of the trip was getting to hang out with my siblings:

I said goodbye on Sunday afternoon after going to church. My flight back home was non-stop and with the 1 hour time change, it was only 2 hours. Brandon picked me up and on our way home I saw another scary farm tool:
Hauling Ammonia

I live here :-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Joanie's Food Truck

Murphysboro is becoming quite a foodie destination (I said it first!). It has it's very own food truck that has been next to the Murphy Pride Car Wash for a few weeks now. Joanie's Food Truck is a staple at the Murphysboro Apple Festival. She is best knownfor her homemade cinnamon rolls.
On our way to the airport on Friday, Brandon and I stopped at the truck for dinner. We ordered 2 burgers ($5 each) and a cinnamon roll ($3). Joanie was happy to take our picture:
Cinnamon Roll
The burgers came with cheese and sauteed onions. They come on these big fluffy buns that melt in your mouth. The cinnamon roll was made of the same bread with lots of cinamon and an icing that seemed to have a hint of lemon in it. Delish! Time to call Food Network and alert them to this awesomeness!
We also drove by this giant combine:

Farm tools scare me, lol.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

First Cardinals Game of the Season

I'm currently visiting my hometown - McLean, VA. But, I'm still behind on posting so back to Illinois we go... enjoy!
On Wednesday night, the Murphy guys and I headed to downtown St. Louis to attend our first Cardinals game of the season. We left town around 4:30pm and stopped at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights, IL for dinner. Brandon spotted Five Guys and we ate some delicious burgers. We didn't know the chain had made it this far west. This location just opened in September.

The other reason we stopped here was to park and ride the Redbird Express to the stadium. The ticket was $5 for a round-trip. The last time I went to the stadium we parked at the casino and took the subway to the field.

Bumpy ride
We got to the park just in time to hear the national anthem as we passed through the entrance gates at 7pm.

Check out the view from our seats:
My Murphy guys:
Brandon, Jaime, Garrett, Kie, Adam and Jarrod
The Cards won against the Houston Astros 5-1  and we got to see some fireworks!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bucket List: Shawnee Wine Trail (Part 2)

I'm currently visiting my hometown - McLean, VA. But, I'm still behind on posting so back to Illinois we go... enjoy!

Another weekend, another winery outing! Brandon's friend, Lindsey, was in town from Mississippi and wanted to go out to explore the wineries. Since we had such a good time last week, we had to go another round! This time though, I was the designated driver. (PS: I drove through some seriously winding roads!)

Again, our first stop was Von Jakob. Lindsey ordered us a wine spritzer:
It tasted like their Johnny Apple Wine with pineapple juice, Sprite and some fresh fruit slices. Our next stop was Hickory Ridge Vineyard. Such a beautiful view from their deck. Unfortunately, it started misting and we had to go back inside the cozy lodge (complete with loft).
Just down the road was Pomona Winery which is a winery that doesn't use grapes! Most of their wines are apple based with some different fruits and spices. Their Orchard Spice wine tastes just like an apple pie with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Their tasting was very generous and the gang got to try all of the wines on their list. Our server was really friendly and a true wine lover. She gave us lots of cooking tips!
Next on the tour was the luxurious Blue Sky Vineyard. From the moment you drive through their massive gate you can tell that a lot of money went into the place. The main house and the landscaping (complete with waterfall) are really nice. I didn't participate in the tasting but I did order a cheesecake with "the works."
This baby came with a raspberry Framboise drizzle, chocolate, cherries and whipped cream for $3. The gang ordered a bottle of the Misterioso. Quite possibly the worst/scariest label I've ever seen:

Last stop of the day was Rustle Hill. It was busy as usual with live music being performed. We were hungry so we ordered pizza. We tried the Italian, Hawaiian and Chicken Alfredo. All came on thin crunchy crust - so good but a little pricey at $15/pie.
My original goal was to go to 6 of the 11 wineries on the trail. Turns out there are actually 12 wineries (oops) and I have been to 8 so far (wow!). I see more wineries in our future! We already have a trip for Memorial Day Weekend planned, in addition to the Shawnee Wine & Art Fest being held in Riverside Park in Murphysboro.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Summer Fashion

Just wanted to share a few items I've browsing online. I'm loving bright bold colors this summer, especially coral (which goes great with olive complexions and tanned skin):
Urban Outfitters


I never wear large necklaces but I love the colors in this one:

The bright purple shoes are out of my price range, $295!
Loeffler Randall

Love this avocado bag:

What items are you desiring for summer?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Axios! Axios! Axios!

The reason we were in Chicago in the first place was for our friend Musil's Ordination:
Yes, Brandon and I attended our first Greek Orthodox service. The church was ornately decorated with lots of golden artwork of Saints. The service was long and most of it was in Arabic, with some Greek and a bit of English thrown in. Musil's family is from Sryia and most of the attendees were dark haired with big noses - I fit right in!
When I could catch some of the parts in English, I recognized similar elements to the Episcopal Church service - bible readings, prayers of the people, Nicene creed and Brandon's favorite - the peace! We even took communion. The priest dipped the (real) bread in wine and placed it in our mouths. This website told me we shouldn't have actually taken communion...oops. This website has a pretty similar description of the ordination ceremony that we experienced.
Musil is now a deacon and will be a priest next year. He is studying divinity at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA. We're so proud of our Musil!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Grant Park and Wrigleyville

We made it to Chicago late Friday night. We spent the night with our friend Nikki, from CKI, who lives in a Polish neighborhood called Portage Park. She had a whole guest room for us to stay in and a friendly cat named Maxwell. We were only staying one day in Chicago so we had to make the most of it. We woke up early Saturday morning and headed downtown. The Logan statue in Grant Park was Brandon's number one priority. We went the wrong direction and bumped into the Buckingham Fountain (aka the Married With Children fountain):
Can you see how foggy it was? Until now, I have only been to Chicago in January, so I thought it was going to be a nice change. Unfortunately, it was rainy and windy and freezing! After walking a bit, in the right direction, we found the Logan statue:
Up on a hill and very impressive. It was originally built as a tomb for Logan and his wife but their remains were never moved from DC. After that we grabbed donuts at Dunkin Donuts and continued to walk around and enjoy the city. We stopped by Cloud Gate in Millennium Park:

We returned to Nikki's around lunch time. Per her suggestion we all headed to Wrigleyville on the bus. We got dropped off right outside of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. (Chicago also has another baseball team - the White Sox.) Our goal was to have lunch at a famous Food Network/Travel Channel restaurant so we headed to Lucky Sandwich Shop which was featured on Man V. Food for its sandwiches loaded with fries and slaw. But, there was a 20 minute wait and we would have had to stand out in the rain so we ended up at The Cubby Bear.
I ordered the Chicago dog with tots. The tots were perfectly fried, extra crispy. The hot dog was just what I wanted:
The last mandatory stop of the day was Nuts on Clark:
This is where Brandon buys his favorite candy, German raspberries and blackberries:
Despite the rain, it was a lovely afternoon. But the main reason we came to Chicago was later that evening ...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jarling's Custard Cup

This past weekend has been a whirlwind. Friday night we drove up to Chicago. On the way there we saw a very large cross in Effingham, IL: 
We also made a pit stop in Champaign to visit a friend at Jarling's Custard Cup.
The menu was huge, it spanned the length of the store. They offer everything from milkshakes and sundaes to old fashioned sodas and "snowstorms" (like Blizzards). I had 1 scoop of chocolate custard in a waffle cone:
Brandon had a pomegranate raspberry slushie (I think they called it something else, but I forget). Our waitress was new and I think she put in too many pumps of syrup, but it was a good flavor. We ate outside in front of the store. They had a bunch of tables out. Unfortunately, middle schoolers took over the place - some were even dancing on top of the picnic tables. They also have a drive-thru which was packed. We waited in line for about 10 minutes and we walked out with 2 waffle cones and the slushie for about $7. It was a fun pit-stop.

Late to Work

I was late to work this morning because of an accident blocking my driveway. The garbage truck fell off our raised driveway and into the ditch.

My neighbor said the driver was looking down and missed the road. Luckily, the truck didn't fall over and was able to be towed out around 7:35.
Off he goes (taken through my front window)