Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brandon's New Sister

Meet Callie:
Nancy's new dog. She's a totally calm cutie. I mean look ... she let me hold her like a stuffed animal! She doesn't bark or try to lick you too much and only smells a little bit. I can't let on that I like her too much otherwise I'll have to babysit.

Brandon's favorite things: dogs, Coke and taco dip :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Almost done with my B&B weekend recap...

Sunday morning we awoke to a knock on our door. Special delivery:
Breakfast!!! More pretty blue dishes (so tempted to steal). I ordered the quiche and Brandon had pancakes. The innkeeper's bread was a cranberry orange cake (I think) and the fruit dish was a pear with preserves. Very tasty and a great way to wake up. Then it was time to check out and head on up to St. Louis.
Our first stop was the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge. (Major props to Missouri State Parks website, it rocks! Seriously, it leaves the Illinois State Parks website in the dust.) The bridge was pretty, and surprising similar to the one in Illinois.

Next up was Laumeier Sculpure Park. Now this was a Mitra destination. I loved it! It is a park with giant sculptures. (Little known fact, in college I took a 3-D art class. One of our projects was Christo and Jeanne-Claude inspired and we built our own giant inflatable sculptures). By far, the two most fun works were:
Ricardo Cat
The cat.
The eyeball. It was cold and drizzly so we only saw a small portion of the park. But I will definitely make another trip back in warmer weather.

Our next destination was a real big city museum. We went to the Missouri History Museum. Best part, free admission! The World's Fair exhibit was really interesting. And totally devastating to know that the magical city that they built in 1904 was promptly destroyed after the festivities. Brandon decided that if he ever becomes Governor of Missouri he will rebuilt the fairgrounds. I stand behind his platform, haha.
Ye Olde 3-D Glasses
We have a thing for silly cut-outs:
Devil Child

The last treat of the day was lunch. Brandon took me to Mama's on the Hill. This was my first time eating Italian food on "The Hill", St. Louis's Little Italy. The reason he chose Mama's was because it claims to be the, "Home of the toasted ravioli!" Being the good foodies we are we ordered them right away:
The Verdict: tasty, meatier than Cummare's in a good way. We then split Fettuccine Alfredo - yum! They have a Mama's challenge which is a "hill" of spaghetti topped with a giant meatball (I mean meatloaf size). Crazy! Maybe someday ...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dr. Hertich's House

Ok, back to my Ste. Gen trip ... It was finally time to check into our bed & breakfast, Dr. Hertich's House. It is an extension of the Inn St. Gemme Beauvais. That is the building across the street and also where we found the owner to check-in. She walked us over to our room, the Ste. Genevieve Suite. When I made my reservations on the phone I just asked for the best room we could get :) It definitely was!
King-sized bed

Gas fireplace

Sitting room
And in the bathroom was a sweet jacuzzi tub! Our only complaint about the room was the small TV and funny tasting tap water. We also had a coffee maker, microwave and mini-fridge in our room. Luckily, a couple of cokes were in the fridge as well as some crackers and microwave popcorn. Another cool feature was the guest book with messages all the way back to 2006 from guests who stayed in our room. We brought in our bags and then headed back across the street for tea time!
Tea time is included with your stay. I loved the cups! We were also served a piece of the most amazing carrot cake:
Couldn't get this pic to rotate, sorry!
While enjoying our tea, we placed our breakfast order for the next morning.
Choices included beverage, innkeepers bread choice, fruit dish, oatmeal and one entree per guest (stuffed French toast, Quiche Loraine, biscuits and gravy, beignets, etc). You could have it delivered to your room or you could eat in the restaurant. We opted for room service.

For the rest of the afternoon we headed back out on the wine trail. We visited Cave Winery first. It was $5 for a tasting. They also have a cave you can go down and see but only if you buy a bottle. Chaumette Winery was next. Absolutely gorgeous. It is an entire resort, they even have a chapel for weddings. I want to live in their bathroom, not joking!

Chaumette Winery Ladies Room
Our tasting guy let us share a tasting for $5. His pours were HUGE and his personality was charming old man, loved it :) Our last stop of the night was Charleville Vineyard. The building was a big cozy log cabin with a large bar. They also have microbrews. By this point I was feeling the wine so I only had a few sips. We did get our passports stamped. Brandon was happy. He already logged them in and we got our bar towel just the other day. Very fun.

On our way back to the B&B we picked up Subway to enjoy in the comfort of our room...classy right? But in our defense, the only recommendation we got for dinner was for The Anvil, a bar. So I don't think we missed out too much.

To be continued...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Recap

How was everyone's black Friday?

I went out with the Shultz family at midnight for the doorbusters at Macy's. Nancy wanted to buy Kayla and I some $19.99 Rampage boots for Christmas. These were VERY popular. Luckily Brandon and Seth were super shoppers and elbowed their way through crazy ladies to grab us boxes of shoes in our size. It was hilarious. Knute was standing in the aisle with 3 shoe boxes in his hands and a lady walks by and says "oh, that's why you're here."

After looking through all the ads, I decided that really the only thing that I could justify buying for myself was new pillows. So on my suggestion we all headed over to the home section. We found Martha Stewart memory foam pillows on special for $23.99 that were originally $80. Turns out everyone wanted one so we walked away with six pillows (which also turned out to be our Christmas present, thanks Nancy!).

We stopped by Kohl's,Walmart and Best Buy to look at their specials but I didn't see anything too exciting. By then it was 3am and we were ready for bed. Later during the day, I decided that I wanted sneakers so I ordered $27.99 Asics from Finish Line online. All in all a successful shopping day.

Feeling Frenchy: Wine & Chocolate Please!

Following our drive last Saturday morning, we arrived in St. Genevieve, MO. We had some time to kill before our 2 o'clock check-in at the B&B so we made our first stop at the visitor's center. They had a nice display of some of the history and attractions in the area. We picked up a map and realized that the Ste. Genevieve Museum would be a good place to start.

Ste. Genevieve Museum
The building itself was a historic landmark, built in 1935 for the town's bicentennial. Admission was $2/person. It reminded Brandon and me of the Corry Museum, due to items relating to local industry and arts & crafts like a "crazy quilt" from a church.

Our next stop was the Sainte Genevieve Winery. When we walked in we were stuck behind a tour bus of divas on the Route du Vin. When we finally got up to the tasting counter we tried a bunch of delicious fruit wines. I was a fan of almost all of them. Our tasting was free, score! We also got a stamp on our Missouri Wines passport. With just 4 visits to different wineries you earn a bar towel (and with 40 visits... food and wine pairing for 10). Illinois definitely needs a rewards program like this.
Ste. Genevieve Winery
From there we walked over to Sweet Things, a candy and gift shop. Brandon and I picked out some decadent truffles and tasted them outside.
Truffles from Sweet Things

And then it was time to check into our room! To be continued....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Four Thoughts on Food

1. Blackberries and raspberries were $1 at Schnuck's. Wow! I was so excited I bought 6 cartons. Actually ... I shared most of them with my coworkers. We had a pre-Thanksgiving potluck at work today:
Big Juicy Berries
2. I bought my first leek. I'm a fan. It reminds me of a giant spring onion and smells so good! I plan on using it this weekend in beef and barley soup. 
3. I made chocolate chip oatmeal scotchies. These are my contribution to tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner. 

4. For dinner Brandon brought me home a sub from Whiffleboy's. The one benefit of having a pizza maker as a boyfriend - hearts on my takeout box :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Covered Bridge & Liberty Bell

On Saturday morning, our trip started out with a quick stop at McDonald's and a drive through the cutest towns of Southern Illinois. I requested a special tour of Ava because a coworker lives there and I was curious. Brandon refused to tell me where we were going. I was totally surprised when I saw a sign for a covered bridge ahead. As I started to tell him to pull over - typical Mitra roadtrip behavior - he was pulling up to this:
The Mary's River Covered Bridge was built in 1854 as part of the toll road between Chester and Bremen. There were some serious plaques to inform us:
Self-timer shot
This trip was off to a great start.

Our next stop took us across the river into Missouri and then back into Illinois... all so that I could further my Illinois state education and say that I've been to the first capital of Illinois. Whereas in Virginia, a class trip to Williamsburg is mandatory, Kaskaskia - not so much!

The Mississippi River changed it's course in 1844 and cut the town off from the rest of the state. It is an island. The place is seriously creepy because it's so isolated. It is the second smallest incorporated town in Illinois (population:14).

Neither Brandon nor his dad had been there until this year.  I will be the first to admit that I'm a bit of an East Coast snob ...but I just think a state should have a little more pride in it's first capital.
The weather was windy and chilly. When we pulled up to the main attraction I was seriously bummed that the gates were locked. Didn't they know we were coming?
 Luckily for us, this attaction is self-serve. Just press the green button. And viola!
The door opened and you could peer inside the gate. Inside lies the Liberty Bell of the West - actually older than the bell in Philly.  Both Brandon and I were glad to check this one off our list. Definetly only a place you need to visit once.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Proper Presentation

How great is my mom? She read my post about apple crumple and promptly sent me 4 little white ramekins. Just what I needed! I made the recipe again and it was an even greater success!
Likely due to the ice cream on top:
The ramekins kept the apples piping hot so the ice cream melted deliciously creamy. Mmm. Have you made this yet?

I just spent an awesome weekend with Brandon at a B&B in Ste. Genevieve - recap to come! Definitely in the holiday spirit - just a 3 day work-week and NO classes - woo hoo!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nathan's Grill Pan

I'm always inspired to cook on Sundays. It's a good way to ensure leftovers for at least Monday lunch. Today's meal was inspired by a birthday present I forgot to mention:
A grill pan! Perfect for grilling some BBQ chicken breasts. I used Maull's Sweet-N-Mild sauce. When they have it on sale at Kroger for $1, Brandon's dad stocks up and shares with us. 

The meal was tasty served with mashed potatoes and corn for him:

and salad for her:
As you can see, I also made deviled eggs. This was after finding out that the eggs in our fridge had a sell-by date of October 21. I had Brandon do some research and we found out that the eggs are fine in the fridge until they dry out as long as they don't have salmonella in them. Haha. The eggs turned out well and I'm not dead yet so I think we're safe.

The grill pan was a gift from Brandon's parents along with a night's stay at The Dr. Hertich House in Sainte Genevieve, MO. We will be cashing it in next Saturday - so excited!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What was for Dinner

I forgot to share this dinner with you from a while ago. I was inspired by some recipes from blogs. First up was this Julia Child-inspired Beef Bourguignon. Slow cooker recipes are so easy! 
The meat came out super tender however the wine sauce was not right. Too bitter for our taste buds. I used the leftovers in an Asian salad and a rice bowl. I think I'll stick to Mom's traditional pot roast.

For dessert, I used the last of our Apple Festival apples for this Apple Crisp:
I liked the maple syrup, it added a lot. And I sliced the apples really thin so I loved the texture. Served with vanilla ice cream this was Yum-o! I had a small glass dish to bake it in but clearly I need a pretty little ramekin.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Walmart Finds

Take a walk with me down the clearance aisle...

My last name is Irdmusa, now if only I needed a baby crock pot:

Never ever pay $3.00 for 1 single contact lens case - what a rip off! Just go to any eye doctor's office and we will give you one for free:
On clearance?? You must be joking!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

College x3

Well, I got into college again. This time I'm a Saluki!

I had a minor freak out when I realized that I was one prerequisite course short for my EVMS PA program application. Brandon looked up courses at SIU for me to take last minute and he found the perfect Human Physiology course online. But Mitra aren't you already taking that? Yes... but by taking this class I can meet the March 1 deadline. Necessary because EVMS is a school I've wanted to go to for years! This online course costs twice as much as my classes at Logan -- but it'll be worth it when I get in... then I can cancel my Spring courses (cross your fingers people!). In the meantime, go dawgs!

Anyone know if this status gives me access to the rec??

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dumpling Maker

Today was the Kiwanis/Knights of Columbus Chicken & Dumpling Dinner. It was a fundraiser for our Kiwanis Club. Brandon and I volunteered for the morning shift which meant making dumplings:
Assembly line
Brandon hard at work!
Bestill my Southern Illinois lovin' heart! My job was feeding the dough through the pasta roller. Guess who wants a KitchenAid Stand Mixer?! The pasta roller was an attachment to the mixer. Fun!
Finished product
In addition to Chicken & Dumplings were coleslaw, mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls and a buffet of amazing desserts made by Dana Ritcheson.
Happy customers
I had a lot of fun. I hope we raised a lot of money!!!

PS: This has me cracking up like no other:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

3 Ways to Support BGCC

The Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale is in need of your support. Here's how you can help:

1.     Barnes and Noble’s in-house book drive starts tomorrow. BGCC and the Women’s Center will be the top 2 recipients of select children’s books purchased and donated by store shoppers.  This book drive runs from tomorrow through Christmas!

2.     Diners at Chili’s on November 9 & 10 (who present the attached coupon) will see 10% of their bill go to the Boys & Girls Club.  Eat hearty---eat often! 

3.     Barnes & Noble will donate a percentage of your purchase amount made on December 3 (and 4 more days for online purchases) to BGCC.  (you must also present the attached coupon or enter the numerical code).