Mar 15

Spring Break

Another of my students from China, is a visiting scholar at Penn State University. She will be here for one year researching the American education system. Her first big surprise was the amount of snow we’ve had this year and the very cold temperatures. I know she is looking forward to spring, as we all are. I advised her not to lose hope, warmer weather will come, eventually.

Julia and her daughter, Vicki arrived by bus from State College, PA. We spent a few days hanging out at my place. She wanted to learn some basic “American type foods”. So, I roasted a whole chicken for dinner that evening. It was a busy day for me and I was too lazy to make gravy, but we did have mashed potatoes and green beans.

After dinner we played a game of scrabble. Julia was excited to learn the game. With a little help Vicki won with the highest score. My excuse for such a low score — I had too many consonants and not enough vowels to make a decent word.

Julia used the word, WEAN as the opening play.

Julia used the word, WEAN as the opening play.

Vicki and I did a short hike around the lake in spite of the deep snow.


Since their visit fell so close to St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be good to make the traditional New England Boiled Dinner on the second night. Both ladies enjoyed the corned beef and cabbage!

a pot of cabbage, potatoes and carrots.

a pot of cabbage, potatoes and carrots.


The third night was a double header. I bought a leg of lamb and made a roast for the evening meal. While the meat was roasting in the oven, I made a pot of lamb stew with a bit of pepper curry. Most of the stew will be used later in the week for dinner, but we did have a good sampling before and during dinner. Vicki seemed to really like the stew with noodles.





This time of year limits what outdoor activities are available so I thought it would be fun to visit the big Cabela’s Store in Hamburg, PA. It is about an hour’s drive and their prices seem ridiculously high, but the store is a bit of a tourist attraction. The gun collection/selection is quite impressive, and of course, the taxidermy of so many North American game animals is worth the trip.

For the remainder of her spring-break, Julia wanted to see NYC. We did the usual bus ride from DWG to Manhattan. First stop was to drop their luggage at the hotel and then, over to the American Museum of Natural History. It is normally an easy walk, but the temperatures were in the 20’s with winds gusting to 40 MPH.

As part of my late-winter laziness, I decided against carrying my Pentax K30 on this trip to NYC. Instead, I shot all of the following pics with the little idiot camera (Canon Power-Shot SD1300).

Our first stop was the annual Butterfly Exhibition.

I'm not sure if this green butterfly is from Ireland or if its diet consists of only shamrocks, but it could be.

I’m not sure if this green butterfly is from Ireland or if its diet consists of only shamrocks, but…..




Many of the species on display are from far away lands and so I didn’t bother to try and identify them. I snapped a few pictures and wanted to get outside of that hot and humid greenhouse.

What kind of savage needs to be warned not to "disturb the feeding butterflies"?!

What kind of savage needs to be warned not to “disturb the feeding butterflies”?!


After the butterflies, we toured the museum’s impressive collection of skeletal reconstructions. The amount of work involved in such projects is really tremendous and the museum has done an exceptional job of displaying many of these prehistoric beasts.


We were fortunate to arrive early in the day. This time of year there are bus-loads of excited kids and by afternoon, the place is too crowded to enjoy any of the exhibits. American Museum of Natural History is an exceptional educational experience for youngsters. Frequently, artists use it as a place to practice drawing various wild creatures. Seeing life size animals in taxidermy is an excellent way to know and understand the exact proportions of each animal.


T. Rex

T. Rex



I think it is important to understand that these skeletal reconstructions are painstakingly re-assembled from fossilized remains found at famous archeological digs. They are not some plastic representation.



After about two hours wandering through the museum we boldly ventured outside into the freezing cold in search of dinner. Finding a suitable dinning establishment along Amsterdam Ave. is quite simple. You can not walk half a block without seeing at least three restaurants!

I showed Julia the Sanitation Department Inspection Rating and each restaurant usually will post their menu out front. If something looks interesting and the menu is within your price range, then give it a try.

We decided on Thai food.

Drunken Noodles with Chicken

Drunken Noodles with Chicken

The picture of the beef item we shared came out a little blurry and we forgot to snap pics of the appetizers. I gave Julia some safety tips for staying in the city and walked the girls back to their hotel. We had a fun day at the museum and I knew they would sleep well tonight. I will be interested to hear Julia’s report about the Broadway show they attended and whatever other activities they experienced.









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    • Julia on March 17, 2014 at 12:50 am
    • Reply

    Hi, Kevin, we have returned to State College. Yes, a very nice trip! Many many thanks for your enthusiam and the traditional American foods! You really are a good cook. You know, my daughter also said that the foods kevin cooked are delicious and she liked most the nut-icecream, haha.

    Today is the St. Patrick’s Day, but we have had the St. Patrick’s dinner ahead and then how do you celebrate it?

    Looking forward to the next reunion……

    1. It was a pleasure to host you and your daughter in my home, Julia. I enjoyed sharing some American foods with you and was pleased that you like my cooking!
      Yes, ice cream with nuts on top is the best…haha!
      You have experienced a traditional St. Pat’s meal and beer is also a big part of the holiday too. Perhaps there is a parade in State College. NYC is famous for their St. Patrick’s Day festival and parade.
      Looking forward to having you visit again when the weather is warmer and my garden is not covered in snow.
      Talk soon.

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