Just last month, my little sister Melissa graduated from college. I’m having serious problems believing this statement to be true. She can’t be a college grad… it was only a few weeks ago that we were dancing in our living room to MC Hammer and reenacting the cult scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It’s amazing how time flies.
Mellie will join most of my family as a Penn State Alum, myself included. Penn State is located in State College or “Happy Valley” as most of us call it. It couldn’t be more true… it is my happy place.
For her big graduation, she had quite the cheering section. Myself, Dave, Mom, Dad, my Aunt Lyn, Uncle Rob, and cousins Aidan & Dani made the trek up to the middle of the state to see her for the weekend. We had the best time ever.
FRIDAY, Dave and I had a lovely traffic-free drive up. We were a little early so I forced him to stop at the Tait Farm, where they breed Basset Hound Puppies. OMG. They are to die for. We even got to see babies that were born only 2 days earlier. (While finding the link for you… I
accidentally totally on purpose looked at the available puppies… the one male that is left is TO DIE FOR! I want him!)
It was Friday after all, so my sister was already set up at my favorite bar (sigh… i love it) Cafe 210 with some of her friends. Once we checked into our hotel with my parents, Dave, my Mom and I booked it to Cafe. They already had one of the coveted large tables on the back deck. Cafe serves delicious food but even more important are their “teas”.
Inspired by the Classic Long Island Iced Tea, Cafe takes a PITCHER… yes, a pitcher… and fills it with a few different types of clear alcohol, a flavor liquor, some soda (depending on the flavor), maybe some lemonade… and voila! Now you have the best tasting strong drink ever. Oh, and did I mention they’re $6 when they’re on special????? Sweet!
Soon after we were done our drinks, the 4 of us headed over to Max Mex, another Penn State favorite. We ordered some of their amazing chicken wings, and of course chips and salsa which is freakin’ phenomenal. And I can’t forget to talk about their Margaritas. They are the best. Mad Mex’s “Big Ass” Margaritas are 22oz served On the Rocks or Frozen… in several flavors… and are only $7 on special. LOVE IT!
By the time we were rested after our mini-bar tour, it was time for dinner and my Aunt & Uncle’s family had arrived. The kids were tired so we ate dinner at the Down Under Steakhouse @ the Toftrees Hotel. It was actually pretty terrible, but we had a great time together.
SATURDAY morning, Dave and I woke up early to go for a run. What I didn’t realize was that all this time I’ve been “running” at home… it’s been on a pretty flat trail. State College is NOT flat! Up and down and up and down… I hardly made it but we ran to my State College “Family”‘s house and got to hang out with them for an hour or so. I learned about One Direction and Middle School, it was so wonderful being able to see them!
Soon after, our service was requested at my sister’s house. We moved my sister out of her 3rd floor house, down the zig-zagging outdoor wooden stairs. I’m so glad Dave was there to organize and do the heavy lifting!
For our well-deserved lunch, Dave and I made it to Irvings, one of my favorite places to eat in State College. They have the BEST bagels, and a ton of yummy sandwiches, smoothies, soups, etc. I have probably been craving their Chicken Pesto sandwich for years: Grilled Chicken w/ creamy Pesto Sauce, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, & Melted Brie Cheese all on a toasted Everything Bagel. YUM!
After a shower and some PSU clothes shopping on College Ave (the main drag downtown), we couldn’t resist going back to Mad Mex’s outdoor bar considering the beautiful weather we were having. Mom, Mellie, Dave and I sipped on some more Strawberry & Black Cherry Margaritas and enjoyed the sunshine.
If you know anything about food at Penn State, you probably will be impressed to know that we had 7pm reservations at the Tavern the Saturday of Graduation Weekend. Woop Woop! Go Mom! The Tavern is one of the classic restaurants in State College and has been around forever.
The best part about the Tavern, is that once you order your entree, you are entitled to UNLIMITED sides! They are very small, but you can taste a little bit of everything. The sides list also changes nightly, so you never know what you’ll get. Being at a steakhouse and all… I went for the splurge and ordered the Prime Rib. MMM!! Besides my Aunt Lyn’s last bite of chicken being undercooked… it was a great meal overall.
After dinner, we headed back to Mad Mex… duh. My cousin Dani danced to the music outside of the bar and flirted with the bouncer who gave her mardi gras beads! She loved them 🙂
Meli, Dave, and I went out again after that, to Inferno, one of the newer bars on College Ave. It is really nice and “trendy”, and despite the fancier look… we were able to get really really strong drinks for $4. The 3 of us were able to get a table outside, had a few drinks and people-watched until we were too cold.
Next, we headed over to “The Gaff“, a bar that claims to have been around since 1848. Now, it’s a great dance-party bar with super cheap drinks. Despite the fact that it’s one of the only smoking bars left in State College, it’s a pretty awesome time.
SUNDAY was the big day. Melissa graduated from Penn State!!!!!! We of course stopped at the famous Waffle Shop first for brunch, then headed over to the Bryce Jordan Center to watch the ceremony.
After taking pictures with her at the Joe Paterno statue, Lyn, Aidan, Dave and I passed by Beaver Stadium. They had a little table set up near one of the gates. OMG. We can go inside the stadium and take pictures on the field. Despite the fact that we had no graduate with us… the 4 of us flipped out at this amazing opportunity and headed in. I was in heaven.
We nearly missed the start of Melissa’s ceremony, but thankfully my parents were saving us seats. The speeches weren’t too long and she didn’t trip on her gown… so it was a success!
We all had the best weekend ever, in my happy place… and I couldn’t be prouder of my little sister!! Congrats Mellie!!!! (I will still call you that forever, even if I embarrass you in front of your friends!)