A Birthday Made for Heaven

Birthdays are an amazing celebration. They are the special days that occur during the year in which we celebrate and acknowledge the lives of our loved ones by way of cake, balloons, and other party favors or public outings. Birthdays are the established born days…they are how love is created, how relationships begin, and how memories are made; all thanks to the birth of that special person. Whether it’s your mother, your father, your child, or your sibling, everyone deserves this appreciation for the place that they hold in someone’s life, especially on their birthday. This past weekend was my boyfriend’s birthday who, unfortunately, passed away exactly a year and a half ago from osteosarcoma which is an aggressive form of bone cancer. Losing him was the most difficult thing that I have ever endured in my life by far. He was my love, he was my everything, and he stole my heart with that smile of his. I miss him greatly each and every day. But he is always with me in my heart, I see him everywhere in this world that he has left behind. I see him in the whistle of the wind, in the shape of the clouds, and in a mesmerizing sunset. The picture below is actually a photograph that I captured while overlooking Coney Island. If you look closely, it looks as if it is an angel with huge wings, soaring horizontally.

a sunset with clouds

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

One of his favorite places was Coney Island. He was still pretty young when he passed away, but he always had this mentality of being a kid at heart. To this day, I have never met someone who loved cartoons or McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries as much as he did. He was such a huge fan of Coney Island, though…he loved the amusement park and all of its thrilling rides. He enjoyed the serenity of the beach and the view that you could observe of the sun setting with the sand and water as the backdrop. He would be so excited to see the fireworks there as they lit up the entire sky with bursts of vivid colors. He especially liked the food; he’d always get fries from Nathan’s, as well as a hot dog on occasion. But he would almost always buy a root beer. He loved those; it was his favorite flavor of soda and it was mine too.

the awning of Coney Island Brewery

Image by: Mike Carey

We would always share our root beers with each other whenever we had one. And, even when he got sick, here I was, spoiling him without his mother’s knowledge with root beer. I wanted to dedicate this post to him. I visited the Coney Island Brewery last summer and I would definitely recommend going to this amazing place. It was an admirable experience; the brewery offers free tours and sells beer pints, beer flights, as well as the company’s merchandise apparel. I, of course, decided to try one of the hard sodas which are essentially an alcoholic version of soda…a soda pop for adults. The root beer flavor was stunning and made for a great ode to my boyfriend.

a bottle beside a plastic cup of root beer

Image by: The Sampler

So I say, cheers to my handsome guy for his second birthday in heaven. I love you so much.

Beer, Beer and More Beer

When we are surrounded with sports, parties, and Oktoberfest; what is the most present beverage? Beer. It is used as a celebratory drink for these events as wine is for weddings. The precise history of alcoholic beverages is still unknown but it was most likely created as a mistake from an ancient Chinese concoction made from rice, honey, and fruit which was nine thousand years old. This was the first known alcoholic drink yet the first barley beer is widely believed to have been created in the Middle East. Beer was also the first alcoholic beverage to be established by a simple reaction of certain sugars causing fermentation with the wild yeasts to invented alcohol. This beverage was utilized for dietary purposes during food shortages, now beer has improved in quality and is widely consumed for pleasure. Despite the complicated complexity of beer, it can brewed at home from scratch with the proper ingredients.

American Pale Ale Recipe


  • 5 1/2 pounds dry light malt extract
  • 1/2 pound Crystal 20L malt, crushed
  • 1/2 pound American 6-row malt, crushed
  • 1/2 ounce Centennial hops—60 minutes
  • 1 ounce Cascade hops—15 minutes
  • 1 ounce Centennial hops—15 minutes
  • 1 ounce Cascade hops at flame out
  • 1/2 ounce Centennial hops at flame out
  • 6 gallons of tap water, split. If possible, place 3 gallons in the refrigerator to cool in a sanitized container.
  • 11.5 gram package Safale US-05


  1. Tie the American 6-row malt and Crystal 20L malt in a mesh hop-bag. Heat 1 gallon of water in a large pot to 160°F and remove from heat. Add malt and let steep for 20 minutes.
  2. Raise temperature slowly to 170°F. Make sure mesh bag isn’t sitting directly on the bottom of the pot. Remove the grain bag and add water to make 3 gallons total.

  3. Bring the wort to a vigorous boil. As water is heating, slowly add malt extract, stirring constantly until completely dissolved. When boil begins, add 1/2 ounce Centennial hops in mesh bag.
  4. After 45 minutes of boiling has passed, add 1 ounce Cascade and 1 ounce Centennial in mesh bag.
  5. After total of 60 minutes of boil remove from heat, add 1 ounce Cascade and 1/2 ounce Centennial in mesh bag and cover. Warning: After wort cools below 180°F everything that touches it should be sanitary, and exposure to open air should be limited as much as possible.
  6. Cool wort by placing pot in ice bath until it is below 85°F. Transfer to sanitized fermentor (either a carboy or a fermentation bucket). Top off to 5 gallons using refrigerated water.
  7. Sanitize outside of yeast package, fermentation stopper and airlock. Carefully pour yeast into cooled wort (it should be below 70°F), and agitate vigorously. Ferment in dark place, keeping ambient temperature consistent, preferably between 62-66°F.
  8. Bottle after two to three weeks.

Recipe adapted from SeriousEats and to learn more about the carbonation process as well as bottling the beer. Visit SeriousEats

Or simply grab a can or bottle of your favorite beer instead. Afterall, it is easier as the process of making beer is very labor intensive without commercial machines.


Also, if you are interested in the styles of beers, becoming knowledgeable about specialty beers, and understanding the difference between ales and lagers; then I have heard rave reviews for Brooklyn Brewery which is located near New York City of Technology. Brooklyn Brewery hosts tours for small batch beers Monday thru Thursday at five o’clock as well as Friday thru Sunday at differing times. The tours costs ten dollars and after the tour, you can purchase tokens (each token costs five dollars) to purchase samplings of the house-made beer. Those under 21 years of age can still attend and will receive prizes such as a Brooklyn brewery shirt and craft soda instead of the beer. Honestly, I’m waiting until I turn twenty-one so I can fully enjoy it but many have told me that the tour groups come together for their personal, sentimental value of simple drinking beer. That is the best part of food and beverages that it inevitably brings everyone together.

Visit Brooklyn Brewery for more information.