Sunday, July 31, 2011

Balsamic Chicken

Tonight's dinner was Balsamic Chicken. I made it with red onions instead of baby spinach and white rice instead of couscous. It was good especially if you like the tang of balsamic vinegar.

Millions of Peaches

Yesterday, I checked out the Carbondale Farmer's Market. It was obviously peach season - they were everywhere. I got 6 juicy ones. The Amish ladies sold me some cinnamon raisin bread. It fills the whole house with the smell of a-mazing!

I'll be back! There were some guys selling pickles that I forgot on my way out.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

People of Southern Illinois

Carbondale, IL
Poor guy started hacking up a lung all over the screen.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Miner" League Baseball

I went to my first Southern Illinois Miners game on July 17. It was the annual Kiwanis game meaning club members from all over Southern Illinois were invited. We also got a shout out on the big screen. It was a hot day, but our seats were in the shade. We had a fellow Kiwanian hook us up with good seats and a parking pass (just outside of the gate).

Love the couple behind us!
I was wearing a sweet Kiwanis visor. The park was really really nice. Although, in my opinion they could use some new mascot costumes. The Miner, TNT, Canary and the Gopher were a little rough around the edges. We had a great time. Especially, when the home team won in the bottom of the 9th, woo hoo!
The Marion Eye Center sponsored the eyeball race. I was rooting for brown but green came in for the win.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

STL Weekend

Last weekend Brandon and I had another St. Louis adventure. On Saturday we drove up to Jefferson Barracks Park for a vintage base ball game. The park was nice but it was in the 90s and there were only a few trees surrounding the field. I spent the majority of the game chatting to another player's wife. Telling your life story makes the time pass very quickly! The Clarkes won one and lost one.

The games were over at 4 and we headed into the city. Hunger pangs hit us in the car and a billboard caught our eyes. That is how we ended up at Gus' Pretzels. Being the foodies that we are, we just had to experience "a St. Louis tradition."

The pretzels were 55 cents each! They had a classic soft pretzel taste, obvious more fresh than those sold at a ball park but were sadly missing the Auntie Anne's  grease.
We spent the night at the Casino Queen (in another comped room!). Gotta love the view at this hotel:
That night we went to the last Fair St. Louis concert of the summer - Barenaked Ladies. So good! The concert (not rained out like last time) was in a park next to the Soldier's Memorial Military Museum. The band sounded really good live and the lead singer was so goofy. We loved when they played the Big Bang Theory theme song.

Our Sunday was spent at Six Flags. Mary Jo's dad's company - Illinois Electric - had a day at the park. Our tickets were discounted to $20 and including a buffet lunch. I'm afraid of roller coasters but Brandon always makes me go. I still don't have fun on them yet!

Friday, July 22, 2011

My First Sunset Concert

Since this blog is about the Capital of Southern Illinois, I think it's about time I have a post about something actually in Carbondale! Last night, I attended my first Sunset Concert. These concerts have been happening for over 30 years. Yesterday's concert was held in Turley Park (it alternates between there and Shryock Auditorium every week in June and July). I went with Brandon and Jarrod and some more friends joined us when we got there, including Kie:
and lots of Bud Light Lime, hooray!
Yes, alcohol is allowed in the park as long as you don't bring any glass bottles. It was a really hot night but not too bad in the shade with a cold drink.
I think the camo lawn chair really set the tone for the event. There were lots of young people, hippes hula hooping, kids playing on the playground and a few older folks. The music was provided by The Black Lillies who performed in the gazebo. There is just one more concert left in the series, next week, and I just may be there!
We were starving by the time it was over so we headed to Tres Hombres. We ordered our dinner at 9:30. Their kitchen stayed open until 10. That is probably the latest I've eaten since I've moved here! I ordered a combo plate with a cheese enchilada and an avocado tostada - standard Mexican food but it was satisfying.

Going to St. Louis tomorrow for the weekend. Crossing my fingers that the rain stays away!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tonight's Dinner

I cooked Rachael Ray's Pork, Apple and Cheddar Meatballs tonight and they were an absolute hit! I was intrigued by the combination of flavors. Basically you grate everything up - green apple, cheddar and onion. Mix it up with pork, parsley and breadcrumbs. Broil for 8-10 minutes. Serve over egg noodles. Loving the egg noodles.
In case you were wondering, the only difference between egg noodles and regular pasta is that egg noodles have more cholesterol - same amount of protein and calories.

Date Night

Last night was my first visit to Carbondale's Italian Village, aka IV's. When you come in, don't wait to be seated (oops). You walk up to the counter to place your order and then your number will be called over a loudspeaker. There was a sign on the register asking that patrons pay with cash because credit cards charge fees..blah blah..but cards are accepted but pay cash... confusing!!! I used my card, muahaha. I ordered the veggie pizza which came with broccoli, tomato, mushroom, green pepper and onion.
The veggies were delish. The crust was thin and crisp around the edges but a bit soggy in the middle. This was evident in the middle piece since they cut the pizza into squares.

This place boasts that it's been around since 1960 and it shows! The salad bar is shaped like a boat and the booths are an ancient dark green. The real defining factor is the graffiti on the walls, and chairs and even the ceiling! For some reason, they let people wreck the place? Come on, are they trying to be a dive bar? Oh well - do as the locals do. Brandon did the honors:
I guess this means we have to go back and make sure it's still there.

A bonus is that IV's offers free soft serve ice cream for dessert. Brandon and I grabbed our cones and headed outside to enjoy the sunset.
Oh yeah, that's their tower...odd...filled with busty I said, odd.

After that we headed to Campus Lake at SIU for Moonlight Canoe. Free canoeing and paddle boating provided you can give them an SIU ID card. Check out our view:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hopping Aboard the Coupon Train

Today was a slow day at work, we had more techs than were needed. So I had a chance to practice my venipuncture skills some more. This time we did infusions (pushed saline into each other's veins). I'm getting better. Thanks to my brave coworkers! After that, my supervisior decided to send someone home and I was the lucky one :)

Brandon also had the day off so we spent the day watching world cup soccer. USA USA USA! I also made a wicked shopping list using all the coupons I've started collecting. When I went to Kroger I used 7 coupons at the register and saved $6.75. Haha. Yay! I'm almost an extreme couponer, lol.

For dinner I made BBQ shrimp, sweet corn and the disaster that was microwave mashed potatoes.
That's what I get for taking a short-cut I guess? Oh well.

It's been really hot here lately. But last night we had some torrential rain:
Gotta remember to take those summer storms seriously! (I was stranded for a good 20 minutes).

We're having a pot luck lunch at work on Friday. What should I bring?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Secret Admirer

I spent the majority of the day at the library working on my Genetics exam. When I got out, I found this note on my windshield:
Tribe Pride or stalker? Either way, I don't plan on calling him. When I got home I had the urge to make Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. They turned out delish!

Blood & Country Music

I had to work on Saturday. Actually, I was sent to class. A bunch of the techs from Marion Eye Center were sent to John A Logan to take Introduction to Phlebotomy. The course went from 9-4:30. While it was a long day, it was very informative and will prove useful in my career in healthcare.
We learned how to tie the tourniquet, palpitate for the veins, insert and remove the needle. Not as hard as you would think, but definitely not for everyone. We practiced on some dummy arms filled with water and then on our fellow classmates. I was able to draw blood on my second try. Our teacher, Van Hendrickson, was very informative and calm when we poked him in the arm :)

On our lunch break, many of us went to Arturo's Mexican Grill in Carterville. We had the lunch buffet which was a good deal for just $7.00.

When I got home, I found out that the plans for the evening were to go to the Williamson County Fair for the LoCash Cowboys concert. This was the first night of the fair. Can you believe it has been occurring annually for 155 years?! We went with Brandon's parents and his niece Kayla. We were able to get into the concert for free because Nancy is the childhood friend of Juli Ingram aka "Honey" from Z100's morning show Nut 'n Honey. Her son Ryan was going to be playing drums in the opening act Jared Thomas and the Vagabonds. Listen to their music on facebook.  They gave a good performance and the crowd seemed to be into them.
LoCash Cowboys followed them with lots of energy and excitement. They shot off red, white and blue confetti! But their loud base started shaking Nancy and we decided it was time to go, lol!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lewis & Clark

On July 3rd we went up to St. Louis in hopes of catching the free Maroon 5 concert under the arch and fireworks. Unfortunately, just as we pulled into town a storm blew in and the concert was cancelled. WAHH. Brandon's parents had hooked us up with a hotel room at the Casino Queen so we decided to gamble the night away instead. Well, I gave the slots a chance and ended up liking them (because I was winning). Brandon played blackjack and won some money too. Not too shabby, but I think we really missed out on a good show.

The next day we were invited to Bethalto to visit Seth and Mary Jo. Since we had some time to kill, Brandon made us take a detour at the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, IL. The main draw here is the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower but it was closed due to firework viewing later that night. So instead we headed over to the museum.
It was small but informative. I'm sure lots of school groups come through because it is very interactive.
Here's Brandon with one of the boats. Outside they had a little camp set up so you could see what it was like for Lewis and Clark... but it was still raining a bit so we skipped it. We were happy to strike this place off our list - you only need to come here once :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Marion Swimming Pool

Today, feeling like the hottest day of the year, all I wanted to do was soak in some sun and lounge by a pool. It took some extensive research to find an outdoor public pool but Brandon helped me find the Marion Swimming Pool at Ray Fosse Park.
Winner! It was $4 to get in and since I got there a little after 1pm (when it opens). I was able to secure a beach chair. There was plenty of parking and as you can see, a fun water slide. There was also a deep end with 2 diving boards. The locker room left much to be desired (ie doors to the stalls) but there were several (curtained) toilets, showers and changing rooms.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Red Lobster Lovers

Brandon can't get enough of Red Lobster's cheddar bay biscuits. Using a copy-cat recipe I made these:

SOOO good. Mix buttermilk pancake mix with milk and cheddar. Bake and then brush with melted butter and garlic powder. We're going to Red Lobby tonight because Brandon's got a gift card, I have a coupon and they have a $15 meal deal. What more could a girl ask for on date night?! Let the holiday weekend begin!