Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Low-Budget Date Night!!

I'm not sure if you wonderful people were aware, but I am in graduate school right now. And while I can't complain about receiving a free advanced education (thankyouthankyouthankyou), I do realize being a student puts me and the Hubs on a stricter budget than I'd really like.

This becomes a problem because I really like fine dining, and wine, and going out with my friends and trying new bars and restaurants. And all of these things cost monies. Blarf.

This is not a post about money troubles!!!

This is a post about how Hubby and I managed to go out on a dinner-and-a-movie date night for $8.50!

Place: Rosedale Shopping Center and the AMC Theaters in Roseville.

Event: Free dinner, discount movies, and a mocha.

Hubs and I had gone to a local minor league baseball game with some friends a couple of weeks ago. In the interest of drawing fans, apparently everyone likes to hand out piles of coupons to the attendees before and after the game. We scored a couple of free coupons to Noodles & Company. This, I admit, is not an exciting date night destination, but the phrase "free food" draws any graduate student like moths to a flame.

Nom nom nom. The best part of dinner is getting to talk to my husband about our days.

We destroyed them noodles.

Afterwards it was a quick hop over to the movie theater. Hubs scored the free movie ticket coupons on his own, and he was pretty excited about them.

Soooo I'm not super proud of this, but our movie choice last night was The Expendables 2. I'm not sure how many proper ladies out there have even seen the first one, but we happen to own it, and so we decided to check out the sequel on the big screen. We submitted our coupons, paid a little extra because it was a new release, and then I splurged on a $5 coffee drink because I was freezing. 

The Expendables 2 was fabulous terrible fabulous. There were so many automatic much bad many cheesy action much plastic surgery.

The highlight of the movie was probably seeing Chuck Norris, Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis shooting their way through an airport together. My head almost exploded from the sheer action-hero overload.

It was, overall, a thoroughly enjoyable date night. And it was also good to our wallets!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend with the Shin-Shins.

I think it's a good thing that the rocket-fast pace of my summer has started to mellow out recently. HOW IS IT MID-AUGUST ALREADY? Where did summer go?!

**momentary panic attack**

All better now. Anyway, this past weekend I decided it was time to put in some time with my parents, the wacky ShinKokos. I love my parents. They are very sweet and supportive in their own Asian way, and they get very delighted when Mike and I come to visit. This delight manifests in a number of ways.

Mama Shin: Over-giggling; hyperventilating about the weekend's menu; cooking enough food for 20 people and shoving it down our throats; taking us shopping and purchasing unnecessary things for us (read: fancy cooking oils from TJMaxx); running around after Mike and insisting he eat more dessert.

Papa Shin: downloading pirated movies from the internet so we can watch them; pulling us around the house to show us home improvement projects he thinks he and Mike can complete (read: Mike will complete while he manages); stockpiling soda in the basement "for the kids"; general smugness as he gets to watch ESPN in my mom's presence because "Mike likes sports too".

I think I feel about my parents generally how a lot of young adults feel about their parents. Correct me if I'm wrong. I love them dearly and really think most of their quirks are endearing and sweet, AND I can handle them for about 48 hours until endearing turns into mildly annoying. Unless they're willing to take me shopping. Then we'll move into the basement. (joking, Hubby, joking. I know you're reading this.)

I end this post with some of the funniest pictures I've ever taken of my parents, when we went to see Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Las Vegas. I entitle this series: Wacky Asians and Wax Figurines. 


P.S.: Hubby is awesome because...he will humor my parents as willingly and patiently as if they were his own. Sometimes better than I do. 
Papa the golf expert, checking the green with Tiger and Arnold.


Not sure what her hand is doing. But she got really excited about this picture with Ben.

Not to be outdone, Dad feels up J. Lo.

How you doin. 

I think he's just being fabulous here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Who eats stew in the summer?

Well I do, I guess. It was a cooler-than-normal week here in good ol' Minny (jacket weather?! in August?!). Not weather that required stew, but I found a recipe, got antsy in my pantsy to try it, so here it is.

Beef Barley Stew:

This recipe was actually pretty easy to make. The hard part was letting it simmer for almost two hours...wafting delicious beefy aromas through the I sat and drooled and tried to ignore my growling stomach.

Off we go!

Gathering of the ingredients. I actually had most of the ingredients!

The first 10 minutes was me just slicing and dicing. onions, celery, carrots, baby bella mushrooms, garlic. The recipe gave discrete measurements but I just kind of eyeballed amounts. Per usual.

I was also browning some beef in a big ol' dutch oven. Wedding registries come in handy for expensive cookware, let me tell you. I used leftover bits from a chuck roast I had frozen down, but they sell straight-up stew meat at my grocery store, so I bet you could get that if it were cheaper.

After it browned a little I added the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and some salt and pepper and let it cook down a little.

After that went in a cup each of crushed stewed tomatoes, beef broth, water, and some merlot, and the herbs. The recipe called for dried thyme but I just tossed in some fresh sprigs from the garden. The best part about a stew is that all the leaves (and thus the deliciousness) of these stalks will fall off during cooking into the stew, making less work for me. All you have to do is pick the stems out at the end, along with the bay leaves.

Simmer for an hour. Yum. The smells were flippin' awesome.

After an hour of unbearable waiting, I had to put in the barley and wait for that to cook, another 45 minutes. Then, at the very end, a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar for that extra oomph.

A-boy, was it worth it though. I chopped a little fresh parsley and sprinkled it on top.

YUM. This stew was gobbled down, piping hot, in the middle of August. That's how good it was. Plus it made a TON, so we had leftovers for a couple of days. I bet you could freeze it down for later also.

Hubby said this was a definite keeper!!


  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup uncooked medium pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Minced fresh parsley, optional


  • In a Dutch oven, cook beef in oil until meat is no longer pink. Add the carrots, onion and celery; cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook 1 minute longer. Add the mushrooms, stewed tomatoes, water, wine, broth, bay leaves, salt, thyme and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add barley; cover and simmer 45 minutes longer or until barley and meat are tender.
  • Combine flour and cold water until smooth. Gradually stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Discard bay leaves. Stir in balsamic vinegar just before serving. Sprinkle each serving with parsley if desired. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

So, the Olympics...

...have managed to simultaneously captivate my attention, make me very patriotic, motivate me to work hard,...and absolutely crush my productivity. Seriously, all I do every night is manage a few household chores and then watch 4 hours of the Olympics. Who knew rowing could be so darn captivating?!?!

This is also why I've been mostly delinquent on the blog-front. I can't have anything interesting to write about recently when all I've done is watch Bob Costas and be envious of the bodies of Olympic athletes.

Speaking of Olympic bodies, has anyone read this article about how Ryan Lochte is a sexy douchebag? You should really read it. I was snorting because I was laughing so hard. Alone. In my office at school. Rings very true.


Well, I've been looking at my Instagram history, and I guess we did manage to leave the house a few times in the last week. Take a looksy!!

PBRs at the local minor league baseball game. Irrationally happy, these two.

Self camera action at the game.

Maddie spoons with Dad on a hot day.

Out for sushi with Seester. Cool celing art. How Asian.

This is Rufus. He needs a haircut. Hello Rufus. 

Nothing like running down a stranger wearing the same shirt as you and posing for a photo op at the MN Food Truck Fair!

The Fair itself = chaos. At least we got some brewskies!