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  • Photo by Allie Bishop Pasquier

    How many times has it happened before? A group of people go to get ice cream and everyone orders his or her favorite flavor. First there is mint chocolate chip, then strawberry followed by butter pecan and Rocky Road. Then, one lone man steps forward and in a bold unwavering voice states “One scoop of vanilla in a sugar cone!" Lips curl, eyes roll, some fool chortles and in a derogatory tone says, “Vanilla... it’s so bland.”

    This has been my ice cream life. I am a vanilla man and have been since I was a child. I cannot tell you how many times I have taken abuse for the fact that I love vanilla ice cream. It is my belief that vanilla is the most misunderstood of all flavors. People spend a lot of time talking about how it is simple, how it lacks flavor and depth, but this is not so. To discount vanilla is to be a short-sighted. It is easy to make an ice cream packed with all manner of flavors: chocolate, nuts, fruits and herbs. However, to make truly good vanilla ice cream is to be a master of ice cream making.

    Vanilla is the most unyielding of flavors; every error that can possibly be found in ice cream will present itself in a single scoop of vanilla. Whenever I buy ice cream from a new store or company my first pick is the most overlooked of flavors. A simple bite and I can tell the quality of the product. What is the butter fat content? How creamy is it? Do they use good quality product to flavor their ice cream? All of these questions and more can be answered with a taste.

    Some flavors are over-wrought; they drown in their own selfish needs to be special, to stand out in the crowd. Not vanilla, vanilla knows exactly what it is. It is the ultimate base flavor. Perfect alone, it needs no alteration, but for those who cannot appreciate it for what it is, vanilla is also an excellent canvas. Any topping that can be placed on ice cream pairs perfectly with vanilla. Hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, chocolate syrup or my personal favorite, butterscotch all are perfect companions to a bowl of the derided flavor. Almost all ice cream novelties at the store contain vanilla in some form or other. Where would Klondike be without vanilla? Drumsticks, Bon Bons, Ice Cream Sandwiches and Fifty-Fifty Bars all contain vanilla. To discount it is to discount all of these as well.

    No longer should the vanilla lovers of the world be made to feel ashamed of their favorite flavor. I encourage you, my brethren and all ice cream lovers, to walk into your local ice cream parlor and say loud enough for everyone to hear, “My name is... and I would like a scoop of vanilla, please.”

  • Another entry in the “new twists on old favorites” category is the Banana Split Pop.

    These pops have everything: 3 different ice cream flavors, two fruity toppings, chocolate fudge, and even a banana surprise in the center. Add some whipped cream and a cherry on top, and you’ve got a complete, no-holds-barred sundae on a stick!

  • Photo by In Sappho We Trust

    Sometimes a book will be read so many times that its cover starts to tatter and the pages fall out.

    Instead of throwing it away, you can transform it into something else! Here you’ll learn some crafty ways to take apart an unwanted book and make it into something useful.

    1. Make a Wreath: By rolling, cutting, folding or crumbling the pages of books, you can arrange them into a wreath that’s good for any occasion. Then you can add any personal touches you want, such as ribbon, berries, or a photograph. Check out this awesome tutotial on The Shabby Creek Cottage

    2. Paint or Print: Mediums like watercolor or printmaking can be a unique alternative to blank paper. Here's a great how to on Instructables

  • We're halfway through Summer. And for those of you prepping to head off to college... well, take it from me, you might need this advice. 

    The first day of school may have been a little scary when you were younger, but you can handle anything now, right? Bad news: if you just graduated from high school, you’re not out of the woods yet. Your freshman year in college is one of the biggest transitions of all, and one of the first challenges you’ll be facing is getting along with your roommate.

    Good thing The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College has some hints, tips, and tricks in case it’s not working out between you two.

  • Photo by Nadia Hatoum

    Summers at the movies evoke images of action flicks with lots of explosions.  But bookworms like me won’t feel left out as they retreat to the cool air conditioning of the theater.  Here are four summer blockbusters you won’t want to miss.  And I won’t even make you read the book first.

    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Now Playing) Seth Grahame-Smith adapted his novel of the same name for this movie that imagines our 16th President’s secret vampire hunter identity.  The majority of the film takes place in the Civil War era, where another war wages - this one against the race of vampires. 

    Both the film and the novel seek to explain the early death of William Wallace Lincoln as an attack from the undead.  The film’s star Benjamin Walker seems to be making a career of portraying presidents.  Walker played Andrew Jackson in the Broadway musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” last season. 

    What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Now Playing) Based on the popular pregnancy book of the same name, What to Expect When You’re Expecting follows five couples at various stages in their pregnancies.  This comedy offers a lighthearted take on the joys and pains of pregnancy, using acquaintances and associations to weave together the various story lines of these five couples. 

    Screenwriter Heather Hach is no stranger to adaptations.  Hach wrote the script for the 2003 remake of Freaky Friday and the book for the Broadway musical “Legally Blonde.” 


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