Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back home and it feels so good

Well, I'm back from Australia, with all kinds of stories to tell!

OK maybe not that many stories to tell, but better than normal weekdays. The flights to Sydney were super-smooth: we weren't delayed at all, and we made it through Customs and our 6 hour layover in Vancouver no biggie. We met all kinds of fun people in the Vancouver airport and I had TONS of fun asking people what they thought of Americans and the US in general. The consensus: that we're a little misguided and in deep, but that they have faith that we'll find our footing again. I thought that was pretty interesting.

We left Vancouver at midnight on Saturday night and arrived after a 16 hour flight at 9:30 AM on Monday morning. I only slept for about 4 hours total, so I was feeling like major death warmed over on Monday. However, we had all kinds of stuff to do and needed to stay awake until at least 9 or so to adjust my body to the time change, so we headed to the Sydney harbor for lunch and a zoo outing.
The Sydney Opera House

The Taronga zoo is across the Sydney harbor from downtown, so we took a ferry over there. The zoo is located on a hillside, so we took an air gondola up the hillside to the top of the zoo. Then we walked down the hill, working our way through the zoo. It was so great, seeing all kinds of crazy animals! Mike teased me, saying that they probably had animals that they thought were crazy, like North American bears and cows and such, but they did have a whole area called "Wild Australia" that we spent most of our time in. There was even a kangaroo walkabout where you could walk around and feed kangaroos and such. So cool!! Except for the kangaroo that jumped right at me. It was just a baby little guy, but I still screamed bloody murder like a little girl and got the heck of its way!

I just loved the Koalas. They were so cute that I wanted to cuddle them. I've heard they can be kind of vicious, but whatevs!
Giraffes, with Sydney in the background

That night we headed to the Opera House bar to have a few cocktails, then hit up dinner in an area called "the Rocks". Our ferry tour guide told us that there are a lot of weddings in that area, because you can take pics there on the harbor with Sydney in the background. He also said that Australians joke, "Look, another marriage on the rocks!" haha.... the area was super cute with all kinds of nice restaurants and shops and such. After dinner we were pooped, so we headed home to the hotel to cash out for the night.

The next night we headed down to Darling Harbor (a pretty happening area right near our hotel) for some dinner and fun. We landed at a restaurant called Kobe Jones for sushi. The sushi was super-good, and my one co-worker ordered the "dynamite roll." You could customize the spiciness level by telling the waiter 1-5, and we settled on 3 since we liked spicy but not too spicy. The stuff was so spicy, it got all of our noses running and was like a little explosion in your mouth. I got two chews into my one piece of the roll and then it suddenly felt like some liquidy spiciness exploded in my mouth. I almost spit it out, it was so surprising. After that, we ended up at a swanky bowling alley that played mostly old-school Christina Aguilera and Beyonce. There, my boss almost broke a 200 game before the Christina Aguilera video "Dirrrrty" started up on the video monitors right above the bowling lanes.

The bowling shoes reminded me of Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" Wednesday night, we all headed out to a team dinner at the restraurant Wildfire. It was not a part of the Wildfire chain here in North America, but it was a seafood and steakhouse.

Thursday night the guys headed out to see smashing pumpkins and my coworker and myself hit up an italian dinner in Bondi Beach

Friday was the happy hour that never ended.... well, you can see how that went:
The boss and I throw down IT gang signs
Let's just say it was fun.... I liked Australia!

Pulled pork recipe

Tonight I made pulled pork and it was soooooooooooooooo good....

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast, well-trimmed or boneless pork loin roast
1 package McCormick® Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork Seasoning
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar

I switched some things up - I used 1.00 pounds of pork roast pieces (not a whole roast) and first browned them in the dutch oven (in about a tablespoon of olive oil). Then I put all the ingredients in the dutch oven and added a half cup of water (in addition) and put it on low heat to simmer for about 2 hours. It was sooooo tender and yummy. I put a couple spoonfuls over a piece of wheat bread, and made a side of coleslaw from the coleslaw cabbage mix and just a teeny bit of low-fat mayo. ;c) It was super good!!!

Plane - off the runway

Plane - off the runway, originally uploaded by agstratt.

Check this out... pilot tried to go down the "small plane path" instead of the "large plane path" to get to the terminal. Realized a little too late that this 777 didn't have the turn radius that he thought it did!

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Oh, and I colored my hair (and by "I" I mean my stylist AnnaMarie). Just a bit darker, but I love it!


It's been a VERY busy few weeks... here are some photo highlights!

Jay moved to Chicago.... this is us at Jack's for the IU vs. Purdue basketball game

We hit up Prost! for Mike and his pals' b-days. This is a pic of another night at Prost, and a Das boot of Schlitz... ew....
We were walking across the street to go to the train this week and saw this semi. We're not sure how it collapsed in half but it looks pretty cool!!
I hit up Adobo Grill and 2nd City Comedy club with Emily and her coworkers this week, and got off the El at the new Sedgewick station. They have installed this beautiful mural/mosaic in the new station.
Just walking down North Avenue to Adobo....

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Check out this article I wrote on about my Little sib, Gracie!

Good eats

Tonight's domestic accomplishment - Homemade pizza!

My side: asparagus and goat cheese
The boy's side: Pepperoni

both sides.... YUM!

Monday, March 03, 2008


I would say that I would like to do a recipe-of-the-week type entry, but I have been a bit sparse about the updating.

So here's a recipe that I tried tonight and Mike and I both liked:

Kettle Goulash from
Cooking Light
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pounds lean, boned bottom round roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups diced plum tomato
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced red onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups cubed peeled red potato
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (14 1/4-ounce) can fat-free beef broth
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef, browning on all sides. Remove from
pan. Add tomato, onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 10 minutes.
Return beef to pan; stir in potato and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat,
and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.

I also sprinkled like three tablespoons of flour in at the end to thicken it up and make it more like a gravy than a broth.

As an aside, Cooking Light is one of my favorite websites..... I get the magazine, but find the website to be much more fun... I am just not the type to read a magazine and think "Oooh! I will make this next week!" and then follow through with it. The problem is that I usually buy whatever meat is on sale and then put that cut into the search engine in Cooking Light or to try and figure out a tasty way to cook it. I like that Cooking Light publishes the nutrionals per serving as well.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Guitar Kid Hero

Check this kid out!!