Week of August 9 through 15
My baby brother graduated from college this week. The same little brother I used to terrorize and dress up in girl's clothes. The little brother I convinced to lay inside a tomato cage while I rolled it down our steep driveway. I like to think he's smarter now. His degree in chemistry and minor in math suggest that he wouldn't be so easily swayed towards nausea-inducing activities now that he's older. (Wiser?)
Greg's commencement ceremony was on a Friday. He was one of only two graduates in his major. Practically peerless (at least for August graduation), Greg was imbued with a sense of exclusivity regarding his degree for most of the weekend. Who can blame him? He made it through four years of chem labs without blowing himself up. That's an accomplishment and a reason to celebrate.
And celebrate we did. We planned my brother's graduation celebration around his two favorite things: Mexican food and chemistry. It was a Graduation Chem-iesta and it was totally fun.
I found blank invitations featuring maroon chili peppers at our local hardware store. (The same hardware store where I found paper inspiration for a previous fete. If the next party I throw is screwdriver themed, you'll understand why.) Maroon for the Aggie, chili peppers for the Mexican food. See how this is coming together, internet?
The Fiesta portion of the party was easy. We have an abundance of Mexican themed baubles for just such an occasion. Formulating a way to combine elements of chemistry with graduation and Mexican food was where the party got a little experimental. (See what I did there?)
No fiesta would be complete without a papel picadillo. A ready-made banner would have looked great, and certainly been fiesta approved, but we wanted something that combined chemistry and graduation, too. For some reason, traditional Mexican tissue paper banners aren't customarily made with Erlenmeyer flask shaped cut-outs. I really don't know why, that's such a common request. After a little research, we realized that ordering a custom Mexican celebration banner would be prohibitively expensive. Solution? Make it ourselves. You had to know that was coming.
I created a banner to fit our esoteric party theme by using the Periodic Table of Elements to spell "Congratulations Greg". Each element abbreviation, with corresponding chemical properties, was printed on a separate square of brightly colored paper. We then hung the not-quite-tissue-paper from jute using clothes pins to mimic the look of a traditional papel picadillo.
To give some higher education to the party-goers, I made informative signs about the two most important chemical compounds at the day's event: Ethanol and Capsaicin. The signs illustrated the chemical structure of each compound and provided a short description of their effects on our party.
Ethanol, of course, is the component of the margaritas we were drinking that made us all a little tipsy. Appropriately, these were posted at the bar along with some quite fitting cocktail napkins. (In case the napkins are too small to read, they say: "He could delay it no longer... it was... TIME TO GROW UP").
Capsaicin is what made all those yummy fajitas with peppers hot and spicy. We stuck these hot little numbers in the flower arrangements on the tables. A little light reading during dinner to explain exactly why one's taste buds are burning.
We set the tables with a colorful mix of plates, some bearing the block A&M symbol. Just another way to blend the graduation and fiesta elements. We used a mix of brightly colored napkins with a serape as our tablecloth because bright colors are the hallmark of a good fiesta. That, and lots of tequila.
We had a great time celebrating Greg's graduation, and we are so very proud of him. With four different kinds of fajitas for us to enjoy, we all stuffed ourselves. And drank lots of margaritas. Now that I think about it, I'm not so sure that my brother's degree is actually preventing him from being swayed into nausea-inducing activities.
Around Our House Next Week: International Travelers