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Utah’s Ruby Snap Cookies Create Memories Worth Reliving

Cookie Saturday Roly Poly Penguin

It’s Cookie Saturday, and you’ve got a cookie craving, but you don’t want or don’t have time to bake cookies what should you do? If you live in Salt Lake City, Utah, the answer is simple: Ruby Snap. The company delivers some of the best cookies ever made, and they’re open until 7pm on Saturday! If you don’t live in Salt Lake City, you still have options. Cookie dough is available in the freezer section of Smith’s, Harmon’s and Lee’s Marketplace. If you live even farther away, you can get the cookies by mail. (You’ll want to order before Saturday so they can arrive on time.)

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Sicilian Cookies Pale Compared to Grandma’s

Cookie Saturday Roly Poly Penguin

This story is brought to you by #CookieSaturday. Part of my family comes from southern Italy, specifically, Sicily. While I never had any plans to go there, when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance. My first sophomore semester of college I spent in Vienna. A friend and I planned a trip for our two-week fall break. We included Sicily in those plans. When we got to Palermo, we ended up in a street market where they were selling different kinds of cookies by the kilo. I found some that looked like the cookies my grandma made, and I had to have them just too see how close they were to my grandma’s recipe.

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Russian Wisdom: The Greedy Man Pays Twice, Especially for Razors

Maybe I should invest in one of these. The greedy man pays twice.

I’m not sure that this is the correct translation, but “the greedy man pays twice” or maybe “the cheap man pays twice” is something I’ve heard a couple of times while in Russia. My wife says it to me because I am always looking for the best price per unit. I know there’s something to be said for quality, but most of the time, the quality of an item isn’t worth the price increase.

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Cinco de Mayo in Far East Russia 2020

Nachos on Cinco de Mayo?

As far as I can tell, no one celebrates Cinco de Mayo in Russia where I live, which makes sense considering it’s between May Day and Victory Day. I have seen three “Mexican” restaurants in town. The drive-up never appears to be open. The one on a side road closed down and became something else, and the one at the mall actually serves pretty good Tex-Mex style food. The tortillas are all flour and more like wraps, but the salsa is often a fresh Pico de Gallo. If it weren’t for COVID-19 and the flood near the mall, we might’ve gone there today.

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March of the Immortal Army: Russian Victory Day, May 9

Victory Day has a parade and the March of the Immortal Army

On May 9 every year, Russia celebrates its victory against the Nazis and Germany in World War II. The army parades down main streets in ever city. There are marching bands, tanks, and patriotism on display. People line-up on the curbs and cheering as the different groups march by. It’s a lot like America’s Fourth of July celebrations. However, there is one difference. After the parade is over, another parade starts: The March of the Immortal Army.

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Russian Radonitsa: Day of Remembrance

Blini are a part of the day of remembrance

Yesterday was the Russian Orthodox holiday called “Radonitsa.” The second Tuesday after Easter, Russians go to the cemetery to visit their relatives and friends on this day of remembrance. Rather than tell you what people generally do, I’m going to tell you my experience of the holiday this year.

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Which Five New Zealanders Would You Invite to Dinner?

Patch Penguin with Fish and Chips in New Zealand

When my wife and I went to New Zealand, we were able to see an exhibit on the country designed to bring families together. They handed out a deck of cards that were supposed to be used at home with the family. The fronts of the cards have different photos, and the backs have questions to answer. One of the questions was “Which five New Zealanders would you invite to dinner?”

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Coronavirus Delays Our Journey to the U.S.

Plane outside the TWA Hotel

In Sep. 2018, we applied for my wife’s green card to live in the U.S. We thought we would go about it the right way, so we sent in our money and waited. Then we waited some more. Then we waited some more. In between all the waiting, we spent time in the U.S. with her tourist visa. By Sep. 2019, we still hadn’t heard anything, and we decided to book a trip to New Zealand. It would be easier to get to than if we flew from the U.S.

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New Zealand: Waitomo Caves Where the Stars Are Glowworms

Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

In the Waitomo Caves, there is no photography permitted, which makes the experience all the more sacred. New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves are home to thousands of glowworms that light up the ceiling.

How Glowworms Eat

While much of the tour is conducted in low light, there is a truly magnificent and terrifying view of what glowworms do to eat. The glowworm is the larva stage of an insect that lives only long enough to mate. It attaches itself to the ceiling of these caves where insects fly following the current of the air and river. If the insect flies too close to the ceiling of the cave. It gets caught and eaten by the glowworm. Many adults end up feeding the larva after they have mated.

The tour guides explain this and then turn on the lights to see what the glowworms look like. The bright flash blinds you for a second. When your eyes adjust, you see thousands of strands of saliva hanging a foot or more from the ceiling. These strands are excreted by the glowworms and used to trap their food. The lights go off, and you’re left with your thoughts, which may or may not include the ending of the original fly and what if you were that guy in this cave.

A Quiet Boat Ride

As you descend to the boats, the guides ask you to remain silent to allow everyone to enjoy the cave and its atmosphere. The lights above seem to waver in lines. They look like a 3D matte painting. It’s unreal, beautiful, and quiet. As an addition to our Hobbiton tour, Waitomo Cave was a perfect contrast to the manmade set. The entire experience highlighted New Zealand’s ingenuity, beauty, and natural wonders. If you can’t make it to New Zealand, You can listen to Johnny Mercer’s Glow Worm (affiliate link) tune!

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Disney in Arbat, Moscow, Russia

Disney in Arbat: Mickey Mouse

It always neat to see how Disney has been appropriated in other countries. As we walked the area, we saw a lot of Disney in Arbat. The Mary Poppins Hotel is a chain of sorts in Moscow. Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen were at the local toy store. Mickey Mouse stood outside of a children’s place, and the Cheshire Cat in its 1951 “Alice in Wonderland” style floated above more traditional Alice characters at the door of an Irish Pub. Check out photos of Bulgakov’s house in Arbat.

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