Happy 4th of July!

I just got back from a mini-weekend of sand, surf, and a sunshine (minus yesterday’s morning monsoon) in Seaside Park. Although I was trapped in the land of guidos and fistpumps, I got to spend time with some of my favorite people. We sauntered up and down the boardwalk, eating cones of Kohr’s custard and trying to conquer the claw machines and ring toss games.

I also got to play with Instagram, which is quickly replacing Angry Birds as my favorite app.

And, seeing as though I was on the Jersey Shore, I knew I had to take a photo of Karma. Only the sign for the dress code ended up being way more interested than the club itself:

I’m still convinced “Plain White Tee’s” is referring to the band and not the clothing article.

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8,000 Bright Lighs

Last week Poland celebrated Midsummer Night, which marks the shortest night of the year, by sending 8,000 Chinese lanterns into the sky. Despite the fact that it’s completely terrifying to have 8,000 balls of fire floating over your head, the result of so many lights in the sky is nothing short of breathtaking.

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Let Them Eat Cake

Now that it’s summer, I don’t spend as much time in the kitchen as I used to. The idea of turning on the oven in my teeny-tiny kitchen makes me cringe; I know the apartment will heat up to a saunalike intensity, and as much as I love baking, it’s not nearly as much fun when you have to sweat through the entire process.

Over Father’s Day weekend, I found myself in my parents’ house – and central air. I called dibs on making dessert for Father’s Day and promptly took over the kitchen.

I turned to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking for inspiration and decided to make a take on a strawberry shortcake using an orange spongecake and Grand Marnier-laced whipped cream.

I got a workout juicing oranges:

And I sliced (and snacked on) more strawberries than I care to admit:

Then a few hours later, we had cake. And a very delicious one at that. It was perfectly light and no too sweet, a perfect way to end a Father’s Day celebration on a hot Sunday afternoon.

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You fail, dog.

The first dog my family ever owned was a hand-me-down collie, rescued from an abusive owners by my aunt. Although he had spent much of his young life locked in a dog crate, the experience did not stifle his desire to herd things. Small children, cats, even a chair – that dog was ready to herd anything and everything.

Basically, my first dog was the complete antithesis of this terrified little guy, who looks as if he’s being told to herd a flock of zombies, rather than sheep.

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Something Good Can Work

I was late to hop onto the Pandora bandwagon, but now I’m completely addicted. Gone are the days when I listened to the same three or four songs off my iTunes.  Now I actually hear music that isn’t in the Top 40 that I  want to listen to.

Two Door Cinema Club’s “Something Good Can Work” has been playing on my Phoenix station lately, and now I’m absolutely obsessed:

It’s one of the first songs in a long time that I don’t mind having stuck in my head.

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Father’s Day Weekend: A Recap

This past weekend was a trifecta of celebrations. It began with Friday night’s girls’ night in, where I learned and perfected the art of margarita making (minus successfully rimming the glass with salt). Saturday was devoted to my cousin’s wedding. I hadn’t seen most of the family in seven years or so, and I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to drink multiple vodka sodas to make the night bearable. However, there was a fantastic band at the reception, and it turns out the other side of the family really likes to boogie.

Sunday was all about celebrating the most important guy in my life: my dad. We opened presents in the backyard, then invited my aunt and uncle over for an afternoon barbeque. You would think that nothing could top seeing all the inebriated distant relatives at my cousin’s wedding, but my aunt single-handedly topped them all the span of an afternoon. Here are the top five highlights from the weekend, listed chronologically:

1) Seeing my mom dance to Black Eyed Peas at my cousin’s wedding. She still knows how to get her groove on.

2) Subjecting Tilly to her monthly bath, just so she’d smell nice for Dad on his big day.

Tilly got a bath. She didn't enjoy it.

3) My septuagenarian aunt, while on the subject of Weinergate, asserting that “it’s not sex if you can’t get pregnant” during Father’s Day dinner. Somewhere in NJ, my high school health teacher is cringing.

4) My aunt’s hypothesis that we’ve turned into a culture of smut: “Even Princess Di had to take a virginity test before getting married. And those Kardashians have a lot of sex…and style.”

5) Watching Despicable Me while sandwiched next to my parents on the couch – a perfect ending to weekend.

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Hello, my name is Becca. And I’m a Gleek.

There are certain things that I’ve done in my life that I’m not particularly proud of. I’m not sure if what I did this past Wednesday was one of them – or it was one of my most spectacular moments of late in my largely uneventful life.

I saw Quinn at Irving Plaza. Sadly, there was no sign of Puck.

You see, a friend, through her office, managed to secure some V.I.P passes to a Darren Criss, a.k.a Blaine from Glee, show at Irving Plaza. It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse. I’ve sat in front of the TV too many Tuesday nights to gasp and gawk at every kiss or infidelity on the show. I even have a Glee station on Pandora for when I walk to work in the mornings. Like buying copies of Cosmo at the grocery store checkout or eating all the cookie dough chunks out of a pint of ice cream, watching Glee is a guilty pleasure of mine. I’m probably too old and too tone deaf to watch a show about high school kids singing about their feelings, but I just can’t stop myself.

When we got to the venue, my friends and I were still in our work clothes and there was no line-up; the rabid teenage fans had been waiting on the sidewalk hours earlier, determined to secure a spot as close to the stage as possible. We sauntered in, acting as though we weren’t really that excited to see someone from Glee, then picked up VIP passes at the will-call window and grabbed a drink at the bar. The VIP balcony was filled with girls about our age, or middle-aged men glued to their Blackberrys, who were presumably in the music industry and forced to attend.

Down below, I saw a sea of teenage girls wearing Darren Criss t-shirts and pink wayfarers, packed elbow to elbow on the floor. Each time they thought that Darren Criss was about to step on stage, they erupted into a wave of high-pitched squeals that made my ear drums ache.

Eight or nine years ago I was one of those rabid fangirls, arriving early to secure my place in line at Maroon 5 concerts, knowing every word of every song, thinking that, despite the bright lights, maybe they’d see me in the crowd. Once, my two equally Maroon 5-obsessed friends and I planned a “college visit” in Pittsburgh just so we could skip school for the day and see the band perform there. My 15-year-old self always felt pangs of jealously when I saw people with V.I.P. passes talking (imagine, the nerve!) during the set. They weren’t real fans. They didn’t deserve to be there. And now, it a weird twist of fate, I was that person with the passes and a motor-mouth.

Darren Criss performing at Irving Plaza.

The night went on, and Darren Criss finally stepped onto the stage, greeted by more screeching. I was daydreaming about how lovely it would be to have a pair of earplugs as Blaine/Darren Criss performed when one of my friends turned away from the stage and made a face. I craned my neck to look. There, only two or three feet away from us, was Quinn/Dianna Agron. I gasped, quickly covering my mouth with my hands. She was completely unassuming, standing alone quietly near the edge of the VIP area. My friend laughed, but with my nerdiness already so blatantly obvious, I thought I’d go all out and post my celebrity sighting on Facebook. “Standing next to Dianna Agron,” I typed into my phone, “This is why I love NYC.”

Things only got Gleekier from there. An odd assortment of, to borrow a line from Zoolander, really, really ridiculously good-looking men stepped onstage and broke into Teenage Dream. It slowly dawned on us that it was a select few Warblers. I began to squeal like the girls below me as I felt the urge to regress into my teenage, fanatical self. I wanted to jump up and down and dance, but I was still in a work dress, holding a vodka soda. I’m fairly certain one of the laws of the universe dictates that as soon as you have an office job, you’re no longer allowed to dance to pop music (in public).

A few songs later, Naya Rivera (you know her as Santana) stepped onstage to perform Valerie with Darren Criss. What was supposed to be a ridiculous concert was becoming a live performance of Glee tailor-made with my favorite songs. I downed the rest of my drink, and danced.

Later, when I checked my phone, there was a notification from Facebook. A co-worker, who is old enough to be my mom, had commented, “Is Dianna as pretty in real life as she is on the show?”

I guess you’re never too old to be a fan of something – or indulge in a TV shows made for teenagers.

And if you’re wondering what you missed, here’s a recap:

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