Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Life goes on. It was a bit rough last night with the wind gusts and the windows shaking. One branch came down on the corner.

It was promptly cleaned up at 5 pm tonight. Not bad at all.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pho 14

My shuttle from work drops off near the Columbia Heights metro station. I feel so lucky that I get to explore the neighborhood because there are a ton of restaurants and shopping there unlike Waterfront station. Tonight, I felt adventurous and had a hankering for Vietnamese food so I chose to pick up my dinner from Pho 14. Best. Decision. Ever.
So delicious!
I ordered #43 Bun Tom Nuong which is vermicelli noodles with grilled shrimp. Bun is a cold noodle salad that is served with lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumber and peanuts. Basically you stir it all together and douse it with the sweet chili fish sauce. I have always been a bun lover thanks to my parents taking us out for Vietnamese food growing up. This was a real winner and I hope to have it again soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Favorite Time of Year

It's starting to feel like fall!
Brandon and I took a drive out to Loudoun County for some outlet shopping and a little wine tasting. The trees are changing colors. So pretty!
Horses! Then we hit up the pumpkin patch and took home a friend:
What autumn activities have you participated in?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Molten Lava Cake

Sugar rush! This was so so good!
Somewhere along the line, I had the inspiration to make homemade lava cake. The idea probably came from knowing that it was the best possible creation to make with my ramekins. I used the Paula Deen recipe posted on Savory Sweet Life and cut it in thirds for 2 servings.

The recipe was very simple. My chocolate and butter melted in just one minute. I baked the cakes for 11 minutes. The centers were warm and gooey. The cakes slid right out of the ramekins when turned upside down. What a relief, as I was most worried about that part.

I topped the cakes with powdered sugar. Although, ice cream or fresh fruit would have made it even tastier.

Go make it now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Brandon and I found a great place to live in DC's smallest quadrant: Southwest. It's tiny, look:
I suggested we look at the neighborhood because we knew we'd be riding the Metro for work and it's so close to Nationals Park (Brandon loves baseball). We found an awesome place on Craigslist by the Waterfront metro stop. Brandon has a knack for finding great places to live because to him, awesome = great kitchen. No complaints from me!
I have an island!
Turns out our condo owner just renovated the whole place with new paint, appliances and a modern sleek look. I can't tell you how cool it is that I got to take the styrofoam out from the dishwasher before using it and the tape out of the freezer. Wow! I guess I better take good care of them :)

We are still learning about the neighborhood, but the street we live on is tree-lined and people of all ages, families included, can be seen walking about. A few blocks down from us is the Southwest Waterfront, which is so neat! There is Cantina Marina, the 7th St. Landing and further down is the fish market. Someday it hopes to be a mixed-use urban waterfront. We have a Safeway, Subway, Z Burger, Arena Stage and the elusive Titanic Memorial - life is good. Brandon and I think we've found a little gem here and it seems like it will only get better with time.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Formerly Known As

My Midwest is now "Metro Mitra". At the end of May, Brandon and I moved from Murphysboro, IL back to DC to pursue some pretty awesome job offers. Fortunately, it was the right decision to leave our rural life behind and try and make it in the big city. Now that things have settled down, I think I'm going to jump back into blogging. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Big News!

Brandon and I are headed to DC next week...for good! We've decided to pack up our apartment and head back to my hometown. We'll be looking for jobs and then finding an apartment. I'm just a little stressed. Notice the lack of blog posts? I still have a few more Midwest stories to tell, so hang in there!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bucket List: Mounds (Not the Candy)

Yesterday, I ran my first 5K. The 2nd Annual Saluki Dawg Jog started at 8am outside of the SIU stadium. The race began with a big hill, yeesh! Brandon ran with me (stitches and all) the whole way. Yeah, I slowed him down but he really motivated me. I didn't walk! My final time was 34:54. Meaning I ran around an 11 minute mile pace. 3.1 miles is the farthest I've ever run without stopping in my life, so hey there's that. The rest of the results are posted here.

After the race, we showered and then headed north to Belleville with Brandon's parents. The Clarkes had their first Vintage baseball game of the season against the Stags. It was hot hot hot. Luckily there was a big tree that provided shade for most of the game, but after 3 hours the 90 degree weather was getting to us. The nice part was that the Moose Lodge ran a snack bar for us - so we got hamburgers and hotdogs. Brandon hated to be on the sidelines, too bad...

Since we were so close to St. Louis, I convinced the family to go to Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, IL. We have driven by so many times that it was finally time to cross it off the Bucket List. Cahokia Mounds is the largest pre-historic Indian community in America north of Mexico. There were over 120 mounds in the region with Cahokia as the center of a large chiefdom. Surprisingly, the largest mound, named Monks Mound was named after French monks who settled nearby and planted trees and fruits on the terraces of the largest mound in the 1800s.

Monks Mound is over 100 feet tall and was built in stages by Indians who carried baskets of mud by hand. 

It takes 158 steps to climb to the top.
The view was certainly worth it from the top. Although our heads are in the way, we had an amazing view of the St. Louis skyline, including the Arch.
On the way home, we drove through Red Bud and could help but to purchase a lotto ticket from the winning Mega Millions store:
Red Bud Motomart
May the odds be ever in your favor!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What's Going On Wednesday

Guess who's running a 5K on Saturday?
Me! Sweaty...
Last night I made these homemade oatmeal creme pies:
And look at the new billboard by my apartment:

My bosses watch over me at night

Gotta love it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

Had another fun trip to Champaign this weekend. Recap coming soon... Of all things to do, Brandon and I hit up another library book sale. I started reading this old Illinois cookbook (published in 2007, surprising...) that had descriptions about each part of the state. Here's the quote about our "Little Egypt" region:

"Little Egypt is the mother of Illinois"

He must have been from here, no?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Best of Southern Illinois: Sunsets

The Southern Illinois sunset is one of my favorite parts of living here. Surprised? So was I! But because the land is so flat, the views are always awe inspiring. Love it!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

River to River

Yesterday, Brandon participated in the River to River Relay. It is an 80 mile race through Southern Illinois from the Mississippi to Ohio Rivers. Teams of eight members take turns running 2.5-4 miles of the course. Each runner does three legs and while they wait their turn they travel in a van from checkpoint to checkpoint. The course is extremely hilly (you can see the elevation of each leg here).
Brandon's first hand-off
Brandon began his journey before sunrise and was scheduled to arrive at the finish line at around 5-6pm. Knute and Nancy wanted to see him cross the finish line so they picked me up in the afternoon. The finish line was in Golconda, IL. On our way there we stopped at the famous Chocolate Factory. Take a look at their latest treats:

My favorite treats were the Illinois-shaped state chocolates. I went home with some dark chocolate peanut clusters and some chocolate-covered bacon which was the treat of the month. Nancy took home some Snickers fudge that was a-mazing. 

Then we headed to Golconda main street where we waited for the runners to arrive. It was cold!! Brandon was the 8th runner which made the finish even more special for us.
His team joined him for the final 2 blocks of the run. His team, "The Breakfast Club," finished in 10 hours and 45 minutes. Afterwards, they posed for a team pic on the levee.
This race is definitely one of the best attractions in Southern Illinois. So glad the boys got to run it!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Things I dont want

I know I've been doing a lot of online browsing lately, so I thought I'd balance it out with a list of things I really don't want...
Car Lashes

J. Crew is calling this fashion??

One thing I don't want for the wedding, a unity sand ceremony:
Heart Unity Sand Vase

"Uniquely" packaged golf balls
Hello Kitty Microwave

Monday, April 16, 2012

Newell House

Some months ago we were invited to the Newell House in Carbondale to celebrate our friend Andrew's 25th birthday. Sorry my pictures are so dim, the restaurant was fairly dark. But this restaurant is worth sharing because it's about as fine dining as it gets in Carbondale. First off, they had an extensive drink menu. We just ended up sharing a bottle of red with another person at the table. Then the bread came out. It was DELICIOUS. It was a warm round loaf of focaccia. I ordered an entree which came with a choice of salad. I went with the one with the balsamic reduction.

Mmm modern art!
My entree was chicken and broccoli Alfredo. They went a bit heavy on the parsley, don't you think?
It was creamy and delicious! Brandon didn't have too big of an appetite so he just ordered soup, the lobster bisque. It was salty and creamy. It also looked like a sundae with the cherry tomato on top:
Lobster Bisque
We decided to share dessert. To my dismay there wasn't a dessert menu, but I listened closely and thought I ordered a brownie sundae. What I got was a turtle brownie ice cream. It was more like a Cold Stone Creation but delicious none-the-less.
Again, they went in-your-face with the plating. Other than that, it was a really nice experience and worth it for a nice night out.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bucket List: Winston's Bagel

On Saturday, Brandon and I got up early in anticipation of a drive to St. Louis for the first vintage baseball game of the season. Unfortunately, as we left the house we got the message that the game was cancelled due to weather.
Coffee was necessary
Woo! A day open to possibility! We had breakfast with Knute and Nancy and then headed to Carbondale. I wanted to check out the Farmer's Market for the first time this season.  As we were walking around the wind was blowing and this amazing onion scent wafted towards us. I turned around to find a table full of sweet onions:
Ever since Easter, I've been wanting a hanging plant for my patio. I found the perfect purple flowers:
Our next stop was Brandon's choice, the Carbondale Public Library Book Sale. I was a bit skeptical but we were actually able to find some hidden gems. The best part was that the highest price charged for a book was $1. Even hard cover books (some with the Barnes & Noble stickers still on!). Brandon was in heaven.

During the afternoon we just lounged around the house and talked some more about wedding plans. We are meeting with our wedding planner tomorrow for dinner :)

Later in the evening we met up with Kie and Gavin. We went to Pinch Penny where Funky Monks were playing the beer garden. They are a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band, the music was good but I thought the lead singer sounded more like Barenaked Ladies. Anyway... at the end of the night, I managed to check another bucket list item off... Winston's Bagel!
OMG gross! Haha. I guess I wasn't drunk enough.