Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Place Like Home

I've been having so much fun out here.  My trip has been extended so I'm living it up. See you in 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Home for the Holidays!

Wooo! I really am SO ready to go home :)

Things I've missed:

The cluster that is Tysons Corner Center at Christmas. I'm not even joking. I went to the Carbondale mall to get a Christmas gift and I found a parking spot right by the door. Where am I??

I have a gift certificate to Giant eating a hole in my wallet. What should I buy?

Sushi! Chinese. Panda!!

Kabobs - got to have some. At some point my goal is to make a Sunday dinner - kabobs, rice, tadig, yogurt and salad for Brandon's parents. I just have to practice. There are NO middle eastern restaurants even close. The only thing I found was a Lebanese restaurant in Cape.

Jeila Irdmusa.

I'll be there tomorrow morning!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Busy busy! So ready for the holidays!! Here's what's been going on:

  • Tuesday night we did our gift exchange with Brandon's parents. I got Knute and Nancy a gift certificate to Cummare's - neither of them have eaten there yet. They got me a Paula Deen set of pots - awesome.
  • Before that, Brandon got rear-ended while showing me where on campus where I go to take tests. We're ok. His back bumper needs to be repaired.
  • Today I headed to the SIU campus to take my first test for my online class. I had to go to the Distance Education office. I was nervous! They made me turn off my cell phone and place my purse in a cabinet. Then I went into the testing room and logged into blackboard. I whipped out my post-it with my Dawg Tag. I put in the wrong password on the first try... I clicked on the link for exam 1 and then the proctor entered the password. Then I took my test. It wasn't bad at all, I got a 94!
  • We had a ridiculous spread of Christmas treats at work today.
  • I gotta pack, I'm going home Saturday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Brandon's Graduation

On Saturday, Brandon graduated from SIU with a bachelor's degree in Political Science. There were two ceremonies and Brandon's school was in the afternoon ceremony that began at 1:30.
The ceremony was held in the arena. It was packed!
They read everyone's names which was special but looong.
Brandon shaking hands with Chancellor Cheng

So proud!

Afterwards we ate at Golden Corral. Classy, I know :) But that's ok because I had my graduation dinner at Friendly's.

There are certain times when I really miss my family. Case in point: when the Irdmusas go to a buffet they eat slowly and make it a 5-7 course meal.  Not the Shultzes, they grab 2 or 3 plates of food all at once. I brought back my first plate of salad and a dinner roll and they were shocked. "Is that all you're eating?" NO OF COURSE NOT. Sigh...  I need to teach them how to make multiple trips to the buffet: salad, soup, entree x2, dessert - savoring each course.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmastime is Here

Check out our first Christmas tree:

We didn't have one last year because Brandon moved back to Illinois right before Christmas. This year, we inherited Brandon's grandma's tree. It was simple to put together and it was fun to hang the few ornaments that we've collected over the years. I wish all these presents were under it:

Actually, I took this photo this morning at the Murphysboro Key Club Toy, Coat and Food Drive this morning. Brandon was excited to share this awesome event with me. There were around 400 food orders this year - packages included ham, canned veggies, a loaf of bread, apples and oranges, saltines, vanilla wafers cake mix and frosting, etc. Brandon and I made several deliveries to very appreciative recipients. Later in the afternoon, the kids delivered the presents and coats.

Back to the tree, I love my William & Mary ornament. We are still looking for an SIU ornament, know of any good ones? We want our college ornaments to match if possible, but we've only found this one so far, meh.
Our favorite ornaments:


Nancy had us come over and look through some Christmas stuff to see what we wanted. I saw the nativity scene and knew I had to have it. Notice anything strange?
Jesus has two mommies!
Two mother Marys and no Joseph to be found, how progressive! Haha. Actually Brandon and I hypothesized that his Mom had two sets and either he and his brother must have broken both Josephs or she just packed them up wrong.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Cards that Weren't

Today I went to TJ Maxx and bought my Christmas cards. This girl is on a budget. But, that doesn't mean I didn't shop around online to see what else was out there.
Last year I went with a DC-inspired design for my Christmas cards. Naturally, I looked into cards with local flavor first:

Then I learned of Rifle Paper Co. my newest obsession. I love the designs. If they weren't $2/card, this would be my choice:
Rifle Paper Co.
 The red envelope makes it. Have you ever received a Christmas postcard?
Rifle Paper Co.
Then there were some fun choices:
I work for an eye center, what did you expect?
Wall-e makes me swoon. I die of cuteness.
Snow & Graham
This one is another winner. Simple and lovely. I would want it hanging on my card garland. What's your favorite?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blend Tea & Crepe Lounge

I was working at the SIU office last Tuesday so Brandon took me out to lunch. I requested Blend Tea & Crepe Lounge. I had been wanting to try it ever since I read this article in the DE. I was excited that the owner moved here from Blacksburg, VA.

We walked in around 11:30 and they were eager to take our order so we looked over the menu quickly. We both stuck to savory crepes for lunch and ordered the Smoked Turkey crepe for me and Roast Chicken for him. Brandon said there was too much spinach in his. And to that I said you can never have too much spinach Popeye! Mine was cheesy and the crepe was light and airy. I ate the whole thing.

We also ordered peach black tea to share. It was super sweet but I liked the flavor, so I just let the ice melt a little longer. We decided that we were not in the mood for dessert so I guess we'll have to go back. The building is so cute - it's very college coffeehouse. It's got great potential - just needs a few more personal touches: chalkboard walls, bulletin boards, community bookshelf, live music - something. I could easily see it reaching Aroma's level with a few tweaks and the students of SIU embracing it.

Definitely, a place I'll take Jeila to when she visits. She loves bubble tea. One of their signature drinks is "Ice Coffee Milk Tea with Coffee Jellly" ... ok, maybe they could stand to change a few of the names of their drinks :) But, the price is low and you can stay as long as you want - free WiFi and they are open from 11 am to 11pm every day.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lights Fantastic Parade

Last night was Carbondale's Lights Fantastic Parade. I went downtown with Jarrod, Joey and Dana to watch the parade from South Illinois Ave (across the street from Cristaudo's). Luckily, we had much better weather than tonight - ie not rainy. It was the parade's 21st year. I think this has got to be the original float:
Doesn't "lights fantastic" sound like something out of the 50s? There were several firetrucks covered in lights.
Makanda Township Fire Department
Hate to admit it, but, Rotary had a very good entry:
Probably also from 1990

There were some more unique entries:

Darth Vader
I mean what's a Christmas parade without Darth Vader? (Courtesty of the SIU Order of Jedis)
This train had great timing. As it came by, the actual train rolled into town and added a great soundtrack of tracks rumbling and horn honking. There were several marching bands playing Christmas music. I think the kids had fun decorating themselves and their instruments.
And finally, the man of the hour:

Carbondale did a good job with the parade. They actually turned out the street lights along the parade route. I was bummed they didn't throw out any candy canes and I did get a bit frozen after sitting outside for two hours. It was no Williamsburg Grand Illumination or Annapolis Boat Parade but, I'm glad I went. 'Tis the season!

Today was mostly a day of studying. I got the first season of Dexter from the library. It's freaking me out. The crime solving reminds me a lot of Veronica Mars and the quirky music and plot twists remind me of Weeds. I'm hooked. Ok, time to make tacos for dinner!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ditch the Workout...

Join the Party! Today I got called out in Zumba class for my "boom shake drop."

Let's just say I have a fierce "drop." I'll leave that to your imagination, lol. Hey, it's not my fault my first Zumba instructors were sexy Latinas. I know how to shake it :) I have to say that I'm loving my Saturday morning Zumba with Cindy. She gives a serious cardio workout with lots of squats, lunges and crunches. Plus she always does a full 60 minutes (if not more).

Here were some workout questions I've been wondering about (in case you were too):

Why do my legs shake uncontrollably when I do lunges?
Because your muscles are working hard

Why is my weight different every time I get on the scale?
A fluctuation of 3-5 pounds over the course of a day is normal

Recap of the Carbondale Lights Fantastic Parade tomorrow!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

People of Southern Illinois

Look closely at the minivan's back window.
That's a window-unit AC. Spotted in the Burger King drive-thru, Carbondale.