Congrats Graduates/NYC Visit

What a wonderful weekend; I am so lucky and blessed! I’d first like to congratulate all the graduates in my life. In grade school graduations, my niece Laila graduated kindergarten (wasn’t Laila a baby yesterday?) My niece Angelina graduated from her K-5 school, and she is becoming a beautiful little lady. My cousin Adam graduated from his K-8 school.  I can’t believe he is going into high school already! I can’t believe how much each of them has grown. They are each becoming such wonderful kids, and I’m excited to see how the new changes will make them even better people.

I also have been celebrating college graduations. My cousin Amanda now has her degrees in Early Childhood and Special Education and Psychology.  I don’t know that I’ve ever met a person who is so wonderful with kids like Amanda is. Children have a way with seeing the good in people, and they literally flock to Amanda. I think that speaks volumes of her character. My cousin Maria also graduated college, and she is now officially a Registered Nurse. I admire her so much for it. It’s one of the few things I wish I could do, but know I really never could. I’ve never met a nurse who wasn’t as strong and level-headed as she was sweet and compassionate, so I know she will be the perfect nurse to her patients. I am so proud of my nieces and cousins for all their accomplishments, and congratulate them and all the other graduates of 2013!

Graduates

Sunday, we celebrated Adam & Amanda’s graduations, and on Saturday we got to enjoy Matt’s birthday gift to me:  tickets to The Phantom of the Opera. Before heading to the play we walked through Central Park and passed through Strawberry Fields to listen to a guitarist play “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” at the Imagine mosaic. Phantom was phenomenal , and afterwards we had dinner at Bubba Gump’s. (Forrest Gump is one of Matt’s favorite movies). It was nice to extend my birthday celebrations more than a month afterwards.

Friday was the summer solstice. “Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it.” I always think of this quote from Daisy in The Great Gatsby after every summer solstice. Every year it somehow slips my mind because I don’t judge the beginning of summer by any official calendar. The beginning of summer comes after I’ve seen the first firefly. If the fireflies, or lightning bugs as I sometimes call them, aren’t out, then it isn’t warm enough or muggy enough or happy enough to be really called summer.

Even though I never think to recognize the solstice, I do regret not taking advantage of the longest hours of sunlight. But not this year.  On Friday, I almost ran out of gas on the way to the train station, the train was late, and it stalled at one of the stops, but we finally made it to the city around noon. First order of events: straight  to Luke’s Lobster for lunch. Generally when I see lobster rolls elsewhere, lobster rolls are made up with mayonnaise based seafood salads, but not at Luke’s. Luke’s are made with butter, only a small swipe of mayo, and housed on thick, buttered toast.  They inspire me to try to recreate their lobster rolls, and hopefully I’ll have a recipe posted by the end of the summer.

Foodie

Our hotel was directly across from The Museum of Natural History. I love museums and have never been to this one before. Going to a science museum with a scientist is something I think I take for granted. For the most part, Matt is able to explain many of the exhibits which, for me, is much more interesting than reading descriptions from a plaque.  After a while, each exhibit turns onto a quiz game.  We saw the T-Rex, Lucy, and gigantic gemstones. My favorite was the special exhibit on frogs. I love frogs. Their life cycle fascinates me, not to mention they’re freaking adorable. We added a third person to our party after visiting the gift shop. It was impossible to leave without a little Charles Darwin. Museum of Natural History 

We shifted from science to literature after the museum. It was 6pm, and still there was a very long line of people outside of Delacorte Theater waiting for standby Shakespeare in the Park tickets. Tickets are given out at 12, and standby tickets gamble only on people not showing up. We wandered around Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle until we finally sat in Shakespeare Garden. The garden  made up of flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s works.  

Walking

After all our meandering thought the park, it was still light out. We walked over to Shake Shack for dinner, and we finished our shakes on a bench outside the Museum counting how many dogs passed by (24). As the final rays of sunlight hit, we finished our literary journey at The Dead Poet, a small place whose drink menu and decor is inspired by the great poets. I tried a Poe and a Frost. Both were pink and very sweet, but not bad. The bartender was nice and the poetry on the wall made me happy. On our walk back to the hotel I saw my first firefly of the year, and officially summer began.

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Ode to Dad’s Mustache

Happy Father’s Day weekend, and happy first blog post to me! I decided to start blogging as a reason to write. I’m a marketer by day, a professor by night, and a janitor on the weekends. so, like anything else in my life, if I don’t have an obligation to something it won’t get done. I may not have followers or fans, but the existence of a blog is enough of an obligation for me. And so we begin.

For as long as I remember, my Father has had a mustache. I don’t think I’ve even seen a photo of my dad without one, so I’m pretty sure once he started growing facial hair, he never shaved his upper lip.

My dad’s a pretty modest man, a t-shirt and jeans type of guy who has his wife pick out “nice” clothes for him, so when Dad’s black hair started to speckle with some white and grey a few years ago, he thought it best to embrace his new, sophisticated look.  However, the speckling was much more apparent in his mustache hair than my mom would have liked.

I’m not exactly sure how she managed to do it, but my mother convinced my dad that he was too young to go grey, and he should dye his mustache black. Now, a person’s naturally black hair is different than black hair from a bottle. Instantly, my dad went from regular guy to looking like Nintendo’s Mario. Needless to say, my father hated it, and for the first time in 30 years, he shaved his mustache. The resulting uproar forced my father to never shave off his mustache again and my mother to never attempt to dye it.

Every year for Father’s Day, my parents host a barbeque at their house, and for every even I try to make something fun. Thanks to my eldest niece, Angelina, I had the idea to honor my dad’s mustache by making cookies with my Munchstache Cookie Cutters by Fred and Friends. The set comes with 5 different styles of mustache cutters which double as design stampers.

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My roll out cookie recipe is pretty easy.

You need:
a stick of butter
half a package of cream cheese (about 4 oz)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour

First cream together the butter, sugar, and  cream cheese. I cut up my butter and cream cheese to make it easier.

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When the mixture starts to look fluffy, add the egg and vanilla extract and mix again.

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Mix in the flour and baking powder to make a dough.  You will want to chill the dough for about an hour so it is easier to roll out. Roll out the dough, cut out your shapes, and set up your cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Because these were costume cookies, I added a stick to them by wetting the back of the cookie and adding some of the dough to hold the stick in place.

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Bake the cookies at 375° for 8-10 minutes and enjoy. Because the cookies were stamped, I didn’t ice them, but I may make some different flavor cookies next time to show different hair colors.

The cookies were an adorable hit. All the grand-kids honored their Pop Pop by having ‘staches just like his.

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Texas Craft House

blood, sweat, and glitter y'all