Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park is one of those NYC institutions that is totally worth the hype, long lines, and general inconvenience. So far this year we've seen Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice and we hope to catch the production of A Winter's Tale as well.

Since I've been the one to camp out the last couple of years, Matt volunteered to wait in line for tickets to Merchant. (A small portion of the line is pictured above.) He and our friend S arrived at Central Park's Delacorte Theater at 6am and there were already hundreds of people ahead of them. The tickets are given out at 1pm and so they waited for seven hours not sure if they would receive tickets.

I slept in and brought Shake Shack to the Shakespeare fans. Much better duty.

We wound up on the standby list which meant we had to show up at the theater two hours before curtain, bringing the total waiting time close to nine hours. But we got seats! And the show was very good even though they don't let you take pictures in the Delacorte, boo. Also, S spotted a certain celebrity in the row in front of us.

I am terrible at identifying famous people so I never would have guessed that it was Daniel Day Lewis. But the teenage girls behind us were giggling and snapping photos so I'll take their word for it.

Now we have to muster the energy to wait for A Winter's Tale...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Day

[Image source: Barnes and Noble]

I just gobbled up this delightful little confection on my Kindle. Each chapter follows two college friends on the same day, July 15, over a period of twenty years. It sounds like a romantic comedy, it reads like a romantic comedy, and not surprisingly soon it will be a romantic comedy, starring Ann Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.

Basically, it's right up my When-Harry-Met-Sally alley, baby. Pack it in your beach bag along with your SPF and Pirate's Booty.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cotton Candy

[Image from Daniela Edburg's amazing Drop Dead Gorgeous series]

In the past two weeks I've been to two fancy restaurants that served cotton candy as dessert (Landmarc in Columbus Circle and David Burke Prime at Foxwoods). Yum. I am a big fan of this trend. Even after a delicious meal, who can't stomach a bite or two of delicious spun sugar?

My mom is just as much a cotton candy fiend as I am and when I was little it was the ultimate summertime treat—the bonus that came toward the end of trips to Denver's Water World and Lakeside Amusement Park.

[Image source: Lakeside Amusement Park. Aren't these vintage signs incredible? They are all over Lakeside.]

I do feel sorry for the folks behind the scenes, as my student council days taught me that cotton candy machines are a bugger to operate. You wind up sticky from your knuckles to your elbows and I'm pretty sure we only rented the cotton candy machine once before deciding to stick with snow cones.

Past experience has also taught me that cotton candy is one of those divisive foods like mayonnaise and candy corn. You either love it or you hate it. I don't think I need to say to which group I belong.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream

[Image source: Amazon]

We're in the middle of a nasty heat wave here in NYC. My dog just looks at me like I'm crazy when I try to take him to the dog park. I'm not running around in this!

So instead we're huddled in the only room with the A/C, the bedroom. I stole my husband's lapdesk and I'm getting pretty used to this.

And I'm thanking god for my ice cream maker. Matt's grandma gave me mine as a gift two Christmases ago, and I've since given the same machine to friends several times. Twenty minutes to homemade bliss? Heaven.

I always give a copy of David Leibovitz's The Perfect Scoop along with the machine. It's the ice cream bible.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pretty Little Liars

[Image source: E Online]

I didn't read Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series until I caught the first episode of the tv show on ABC Family. Then I was hooked. My sweet husband brought home all eight books in the series and I've read them over the course of about two weeks. Pretty girls, big secrets, Philly private schools, cute boys--what's not to love?

I actually think these books stand above a lot of similar series out there. They are a master class in plotting and suspense, for one. And I really appreciate that each of the girls has an inner journey as well as all the outward drama going down.

I'm liking the tv show as well. Even though the characters are totally different from the way I imagined them in my head. I know, I know, it's a lesson I should have learned by now. But it's kind of weird considering I started reading AFTER I watched the show. Usually that flips the rule for me. It's a testament to Shepard's writing for sure.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Video Games

[Image source: Maclife]

My husband is the true game player in our little family. I've mentioned his affinity for chess, but he also beats me handily at just about anything else, including checkers, Risk, Monopoly, Scrabble, and just about everything else. I blame it on my own childhood's lack of Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering. That jaunx set Matt up for life.

Matt also owns an Xbox, a Playstation 360, a Wii, a Nintendo DS, and a PSP. Our cord control situation is a little out of hand. Despite these distractions, I've really only enjoyed a handful of games over the course of my life. One of these is my beloved Bejeweled (pictured above). I really don't want to know how much time I've spent playing Bejeweled. Not as much as this guy, at least.

Of course Bejeweled's older, wiser cousin is Tetris. I still own my old-school Gameboy, with my name written on it in permanent marker, just so I can play original Tetris.

[Image source: Techtree]

That's how it's done son.

And lately, the reason for this post, I've been playing Super Mario Galaxy 2. I love it. We finished Super Mario Galaxy a couple of years ago and I have been waiting ever since for the sequel. That's because I get to be this adorable little guy:

[Image source: Pokemon Gamers Blog]

...and follow Matt-as-Mario around collecting star bits. It's just my speed when it comes to gaming. And I know all of the above makes me fall into every girl-gamer stereotype out there. But I don't care.

Monday, July 5, 2010

New York Secrets

One of the best parts of living in New York is stumbling upon the million little surprises the city harbors. One of my favorites is the Little Red Lighthouse at the base of the George Washington Bridge. I suppose you could argue the lighthouse isn't a well-kept secret, considering there is a classic children's book about it.

But I'd venture to say that most New Yorkers haven't seen this little gem in person. And that's exactly what it is. A happy beacon in the middle of Washington Heights.

I wish I was better at seeking more New York secrets out. I think all New Yorkers tend to fall in a pattern of visiting the same restaurants, the same bars, the same museums and shops.

The Scouting NY blog has clued me in to a lot of other treasures. Kirsten Miller, author of the kick-arse Kiki Strike series and the upcoming The Eternal Ones, also blogs about cool NYC stuff.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Greenmarket Peaches, Sushi, Eclipse

A whole night full of happy! Matt and I headed down to Union Square last night to meet our friends S and R for dinner and a movie. First I stopped in at the greenmarket and bought a pound of peaches, which I can't wait to blend into these wine coolers.

Meanwhile Matt took on a few of the chess players who set up in the square. When we first met, I was worried Matt had a gambling problem because he spent two hours every day playing chess in Harvard Square. True story. I didn't really understand the way street chess works--the stakes are low and it's not so much a hustle as both players enjoying the game. Anyhow, street chess? Makes my husband very, very happy. So now I like it.

We had some awesome sushi at perhaps the only restaurant I have continually visited since moving to New York seven years ago. And then we saw Eclipse. OMG.

Parts of Eclipse that made me happy (potential spoiler alert):
  • Taylor Lautner never wearing a shirt.
  • Amber Kendrick, she is the bomb.
  • Umm, more Taylor Lautner not wearing a shirt. And Bella nuzzling his cute little wolf nose.
The not-so-happy parts:
  • Kristen Stewart's wig. WTH?
  • RPattz's speech about Bella's virtue, AKA the scene where female sexuality is made to seem wrong and evil.
  • Dakota Fanning. I'm sorry, love the girl, but she does not scream five-hundred-year-old vampire queen to me.
And because I feel like I have to end on a happy, the new Harry Potter trailer! Love it.

Happy weekend, y'all.

Red, White, and Blue Desserts

Holidays make me happy. Decorating, cooking, planning... give me ten years and I am totally going to be one of those soccer moms in the reindeer sweaters. Well, maybe I will limit it to reindeer socks.

Anyhow, it's Independence Day, and while I typically would be drawn to recipes involving fresh berries and produce, or maybe some homemade ice cream, this year I am all about the artificial colors. Woot woot red dye 40! I'll blame you when my kids are born with forked tongues.

First I made the cupcakes pictured above, which is just a white cake mix (again, chemicals, hurrah!) that I separated into three different bowls and dyed with gel coloring. Then I piped on my favorite buttercream frosting and added some carcinogenic sprinkles. Mmm.

Next up is my wacky Jello experiment. I'd seen stained glass jello on various food blogs, and while I don't really like Jello, and I really don't like to think about what's in it, this seemed too fun to pass up.

The verdict? I could eat approximately one half of one square (which was one thirty-second of a nine by thirteen pan). But making it—and taking pictures–made me happy, and maybe one of the guests at the BBQ we're going to will be a bigger fan.

J's Oreo Trifle

In a few months, my husband's cousin B will marry the beautiful J.* This is good news for all of us, because J is not only a wonderful person and teacher-to-be, she's also an amazing cook. And one of her specialties is this delightful Oreo trifle. I cannot resist this trifle.

Especially when it's being eaten around the fire pit in my in-laws' backyard. I love summer.

*We have no less than four upcoming weddings, hence the trend on The Happy Blog. I couldn't be more excited. Registry stalking! Shower planning! Dress purchasing! I'm going to be sad when all my friends are done and hitched.

She Said Yes!

A few weeks ago, T, the boyfriend of my childhood friend N, e-mailed me to say he was planning on proposing. And because he is made of win, he'd decided to plan an elaborate scavenger hunt all around Boston and have N's dearest friends participate.

Would I come up and help out? Umm, hell to the yes!

It was an amazing night. I am so happy for N and T. And when the first words out of T's mouth at the post-scavenger hunt cocktail party were the same ones I'd piped onto the party favors? That, my dear, was the icing on the cookie.


[Image source: Amazon]

Sophomore year of high school, I bought my friend B a copy of this book by Barbara Ann Kipfer. It is a good book, full of many joyous things like newborn kittens and leaves crunching under your feet.

However, we quickly decided that we could write a more awesome book* about the things that made us happy. So we bought a blank journal, and for the rest of high school we traded it back and forth (and actually filled multiple volumes), listing things like chicken patty day in the cafeteria and the totally hot guys on the soccer team.

Our happy book remains one of my favorite memories of high school** and I'm super bummed that in the thirteen years since, we misplaced the original volume. But now I'm back, with the 2010 version of the happy book, the happy blog.

I can' t promise anything too deep or meaningful, just the little things that make me grin. Which still include chicken patties and guys without their shirts off.

*No offense to Barbara Ann Kipfer. I worship at the feet of Barbara Ann Kipfer, because she also wrote The Flip Dictionary, which happens to be the most awesome writing reference of all time. You heard it from me.

**High school memories make me happy. When I got married last fall, my sweet bridesmaids surprised me with a charm bracelet. They'd each picked out a charm representative of our friendship--and they asked my mom and aunts to pitch in too. Best gift ever.

Anyhow, B's charm? A little notebook meant to represent the happy book. I cried. I cry at car commercials, so this isn't especially surprising, but still. Happiness!

[Image source: Rembrandt Charm Shop]