Friday, August 30, 2013

happiest playdate on earth

what's better than a trip to disneyland?

well, not much.  heh.  but there is at least one way to improve on it - and that's scheduling lunch and a playdate with a friend at the happiest place on earth.  and as luck would have it, we were able to do just that with friends we don't get to see very often these days - kelley and her son, li'l d.  we met at the fire station just inside the gate at disneyland.


we made our way up main street and decided to eat at carnation cafe.  of course, there was a line of folks waiting to be seated, so we took a pager and wandered through a few shops.


it didn't take too long before the kids were happily coloring their kids' menu and kelley and i were sharing an order of deep-fried dill pickles.


i was pleasantly surprised by how delicious my grilled shrimp salad was.


and the bean went with her usual.


one of the greatest things about being annual passholders is being able to stroll through the parks at a leisurely pace, without having to worry about making sure we hit every last ride and attraction in one day.  and we did just that.  after lunch, we headed to the theater in fantasyland to catch a showing of "mickey and the magical map," and then decided to take the kids into neighboring toontown to let them loose in the playgrounds.  we ran into a couple of other friends while we were there:


i can't stop laughing at li'l d's face in this shot.  clearly, he was over having his picture taken.


so we rewarded them with a stop at the ice cream parlor.


okay, maybe we treated ourselves too.


across the way at california adventure, they had fun playing some games down by the pier.


after bidding our friends goodbye for the day, we stopped in at the animation academy to learn how to draw phineas & ferb.


this is my kid protesting that she wasn't tired nor ready to leave.  yet there she was, sitting on the tram on the way back to the parking structure.


and before we even got out of said parking structure:


taking her to disneyland is the best way to get her nice and tired so that she doesn't protest too much at bedtime.  it works every time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

it's NOT like riding a bicycle

considering the fact that i haven't made a batch of macarons in, oh, probably about a year, i don't know what i was thinking when i filled out my entry form for this year's l.a. county fair culinary competition.  after i wrote in the code for the sugar cookie category, i got all crazy and threw in "french macarons" in too.  good lord.

and then i promptly forgot all about it until i looked up while driving last week and noticed the banners advertising the upcoming fair.  it opens this friday, and that's when i realized i needed to get my shit together and figure out what i was going to make for my entries.  well, i'd already figured out what to do for the sugar cookies.  they came together pretty easily since i'd just done these designs not too long ago:


as i was debating what kind of macarons to make, i remembered something.  thanks to the dude at the hot chocolate 5K this spring who was handing out jars all willy-nilly, i had a crazy stockpile of delicious biscoff spread sitting in my pantry, just waiting to be used.  and then i remembered seeing a recipe on the picky palate blog for biscoff macarons.  well, duh.

the ingredients were simple.


because i didn't want to be stuck with a stupid number of leftovers - which sounds wrong somehow, i know, but the hub's not a big macaron fan - i thought i'd cut the recipe in half.  but when two eggs yielded about 2/3 the amount of whites listed in the recipe, i decided to use that fraction instead.  thank god for calculators, is all i can say.

the biscoff cookies ground up easily in the ol' baby food maker (yup, i sure do still use that thing on the regular).


i decided to add the almond meal and whirl it together.


whip the egg whites to a stiff peak?  check.


by the time i folded everything together and scraped it into a pastry bag, i was feeling like i'd never stopped making these things.  kinda like riding a bicycle, right?


and that's when shit started to go awry.  i got the dreaded "hershey's kiss" top as i piped out the shells.  no amount of whacking the cookie sheet on the counter got rid of 'em on most of the cookies.  damn.


not only that, but as soon as i got 'em in the oven, i somehow managed to knock over one of my very favorite mixing bowls.  r.i.p., small pink bowl.


although i managed to achieve the desired macaron "feet," i was super bummed when i pulled the sheets out of the oven and the shells were...ugly.  meh.  didn't stop me from assembling them with the biscoff spread buttercream and sandwiching them together.  look at how fug it turned out.  boo.


luckily, i had enough shells that did turn out to my satisfaction to create six sandwiches - exactly the number i needed to submit my entry.  voila:


i suppose they look okay, right?  i can tell you this much:  they're damn tasty.  and those shells actually came out with the most lovely, satisfyingly chewy texture to them.  the bean and i happily snacked on a few of them as soon as they came out of the oven.

the fair opens tomorrow.  i have a packed schedule, but i wonder if i can make it over there to at least get a peek and see how my entries fared.  it'd be cool as hell to win some sort of a ribbon again!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

like, OMG! this run was so rad

last year, i wasn't able to participate in the inaugural awesome 80s run at the rose bowl.  it'd been scheduled for the same weekend as the disneyland half, and took place while the disney kids' run was going on.  although i did collect my cassette tape medal at the 10K down in san diego, so it was all good.  this time around, there was no way i was going to miss out - especially as a race ambassador with superhero events, the company that organizes the run.

i managed to rope the teen into joining me to volunteer for a shift at the expo the day before the run.  we each took a spot at the check-in tables, handing out bibs and goody bags and fun neon sunglasses.




plus, i had a couple of friends who signed up to help out with us.  it was fun to see them and chat as we greeted the runners.


totally awesome tunes from the greatest decade ever were being spun by this dude.


and for a short time, we had this 80s icon parked behind us.  as a huge "back to the future" fan, the teen was stoked to see it.


because the city required us to charge for parking, we were offering these prepaid passes for half of what would be charged on race day.  the teen cut all of these out and handed them to me to initial.


the next morning dawned bright, sunny, and hot.  it was already close to 80 degrees as we approached the start time.



there was quite a long line to take pictures with the delorean.


the national anthem was sung live, and was beautifully done.  and then our race director, "michael blackson," and our very own run mc took the stage to welcome everyone and get them warmed up.


team superhero group shot!  can you see me?


also, it was nice to see my friend big ray.  the name is fitting - he's slouching down here!  dude is TALL.  but apparently not tall enough to shield us from getting photobombed by a fellow teammate.  heh.


there were a ton of people there.  i think we actually sold out of spots for this race.  ahead of me:



and behind.


the costumes were pretty fantastic.  some of these folks really went all out, although i was sweating just looking at a few of them.  but check these out:




this guy gets my vote for best costume.


can you see me in this one?


i did my best to get through the three miles without passing out from the heat.  first, this:


then this.


on the downhill finish, i ran past "michael" again.


then finally, i was done.


i stopped here to turn in my timing chip and collect my prize.


my buddy interview was there too, and we got in the blessedly short line for the delorean for a triumphant post-race shot.





super gnarly to the max, dude.
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