American Hero, Astronaut Scott Kelly

Captain Scott Kelly

Captain Kelly being interviewed by The New York Times journalist, Jonathan Schwartz, on 10/17 at West Orange High School.

I was on a high! 

It’s not what you think. Accompanying my youngest daughter’s Space Exploration class, I got to meet Astronaut Captain Scott Kelly! “I am so excited to meet you!” I said. “Two summers ago, we watched the International Space Station cross the night sky and you were on it! Did you see me waving?” Kelly responded, “Yes, and I waved back!” Guess what? Kelly is funny!

Kelly, promoting his book Endurance, filled a high school auditorium. According to Amazon, “it’s a stunning, personal memoir from the astronaut and modern-day hero who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station—a message of hope for the future that will inspire for generations to come.”

Kelly talked about growing up, how he wasn’t the best student, and didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. In college, he read a book about flight pilots that changed the course of his life.

In October 2015, Kelly set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space by an American astronaut, 520. This record was broken in 2016 by astronaut Jeff Williams. For the so-called ISS year long mission, Kelly spent 340 consecutive days (11 months, 3 days) in space. Kelly’s identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, is a former astronaut. The Kelly brothers are the only siblings to have traveled in space. While Scott Kelly spent a year in space, Mark stayed on Earth as a control subject. Researchers are looking at the effects of space travel on the human body, as part of the NASA Twins Study.

Memorable quotes from a real American Hero.
“When I’m in space, I think of earth, and when I’m on earth, I think of space.”
“It would take over 200 days to get to Mars and over 200 days to get back.”
“Flying in space is a privilege.”
“If we can dream it, we can do it.”

Selfie that Captain Kelly took while he was on the ISS.

Want to learn more about Astronaut Kelly’s time in space?

Tonight, PBS is airing Part 2 of Beyond A Year In Space,an Emmy award winning documentary which “follows Scott Kelly’s record-breaking 12-month mission as the Twin Study as NASA charts the effects of long-duration spaceflight for the next generation of astronauts.”

Sources: Amazon, Space.com, Wikipedia, PBS

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Three Berry Lovely Hostess Gifts

Chocolate-covered raspberries from Sweet Nothings.

One of the best things about summer is getting together with friends. With less carpools and craziness, it’s nice to hang out and catch up. I love that the day seems longer. Last night, we left a concert in our town’s park about 9pm and it was still light.

Summer invitations mean hostess gifts. Here are three berry-lovely ideas.

I found this adorable strawberry basket filled with chocolate-covered raspberries at Sweet Nothings, a chocolate shop in Summit, NJ. How easy is this to make yourself? All you need is a basket, filler “grass,” and candy or berries. How about making a berry mix? Wrap the mix in plastic wrap and nestle it inside the basket. Tie a bow and off you go!

Hand-thrown berry bowls filled with local berries.

Berry bowls aren’t just pretty, they’re practical since they are small colanders. I made the two ceramic bowls above, but I’ve seen them in several stores. How sweet would it be to give the hostess a berry bowl already filled? Want to make it even sweeter? Bring along whipped cream and (dare-I-say?) chocolate sauce.

Photo of Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries from bettycrocker.com.

I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture the last time I made Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. Click here for a recipe. Know what’s fun about making these? Finishing up the leftover melted chocolate at home.

Berry-yummy!

Sources: Sweet Nothings  and bettycrocker.com

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway

My daughters outside of the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in Manhattan.

Looking for a show to see? Are you a Roald Dahl fan? Both?

“Unwrap a world of pure imagination.”

My youngest daughter loves Broadway shows, so what better way to celebrate her birthday than to surprise her with tickets to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The New Musical in Manhattan?  We appreciate Roald Dahl’s dark humor and twisted characters (We loved “Matilda the Musical.”), not to mention that Willy Wonka is played by Christian Borle who was excellent as Shakespeare in “Something Rotten.”

One of my favorite childhood movies was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I saw the newer version, and didn’t mind Johnny Depp playing a deeply disturbed Willy Wonka, but Gene Wilder’s Wonka stuck in my psyche.

The musical is wonderful! The set design is clever, interesting, colorful and illusional. The larger than life characters are modern, and each has his/her own “voice.” The humor is both timeless and relevant to the times, and, of course, of course, the story is evergreen. The messages that imagination is valuable, dream big, and work for your passion makes me–sniff-a little weepy.

Oh and, hon, the Oompa Loompas are hysterical!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The New Musical

I thought most people knew the story, but at the Broadway show the woman sitting behind us seemed genuinely surprised when Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard, Mike Teavee, and Augustus Gloop met their sweet rewards, and when Charlie Bucket was the last child standing. The show’s website describes the story like this:

Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, has just made an astonishing announcement. His marvelous—and mysterious—factory is opening its gates…to a lucky few. That includes young Charlie Bucket, whose life definitely needs sweetening. He and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a mesmerizing, life-changing journey through Wonka’s wondrous world. Get ready for chocolate waterfalls, exquisitely nutty squirrels and the great glass elevator, all to be revealed by Wonka’s army of curious Oompa-Loompas.

Birthday girl.

Have you seen a good show lately? I’m always interested in what else is on stage.