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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

2023 l.a. county fair roundup

so one good thing that came out of the pandemic was that the l.a county fair moved from september to may, which is lovely because it was always hotter than a witch's butthole at the fair.  this is the second year of it being in may and the weather is pretty much perfect - with most days starting off overcast and cool and temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

the bean and i headed out during opening weekend using the two-week season passes i'd bought at christmastime.  i was super amused at the shirt they chose to wear - one of their trademark button-downs with little corn dogs all over it.

i'd already gotten the heads up about the fate of my two entries into the home arts competition, so i was okay with stopping to grab something to eat before heading over to check them out.  as always, there were tons of options for food and we chose some delicious carne asada tacos from king taco as our first item.

it also helped that they had a booth directly across from the entrance to the grandstand buildings where the competitions were displayed.  and so once we were done gobbling down every last bit, we headed over to find my crocheted entries.  it didn't take long to find them both.

we browsed through all of the competition displays - tablescapes, sewing, embroidery, various food items. and when we were done, it was time to find something else to snack on.  that came in the form of bacon-wrapped pickles for me and deep-fried oreos for the bean.

the dogs were barking after all that walking around (haha, it'd been like an hour...maybe) and we made our way over to the footsie wootsie machines for a little foot massage action.  i fished through my bag to find as many quarters as i could find and we were both startled to find that not only were the machines now accepting only credit cards/contactless payments, but that it now cost a whole dollar for a few minutes of bliss.  we sat down anyway, but man...that's some inflation right there.

neither of us ate this, but i had to take the picture anyway because whoa.  this is a fried chicken sandwich served between two krispy kreme donuts, drizzled with raspberry sauce and covered in crunch berries cereal.  like...WUT.

while they made endless fun of it last year, the bean's favorite food item for 2023 was this skewer crammed full of bacon-wrapped, deep-fried pork belly.  and i gotta say...it was delicious.

and we couldn't leave without stopping at cathy's cookies for a bucket of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

you know what's funny?  i was craving pizza, but at almost $10 for one slice at the nearest booth i decided to make a pitstop before going home.  because i mean - come on, you can't beat $1.99 costco pizza!

the next week, we went again with the bean's friends from school.

this time, i had some fresh potato chips topped with gooey cheese sauce:

we saw some animals, like this sweet cow:

and the bean enjoyed this slice of cheesy, garlicky pizza.

one of my mom friends from the bean's elementary school days is the voice of the fair - she does all of the voiceovers for their ads online and on tv and the radio.  she texted me one day out of the blue - and i'm paraphrasing here - "hey, do you want to go to the fair for free with a parking pass, eat some free food, take some pictures and possibly be in next year's commercials - plus get paid for your time?"


and so that's how i ended up at the fair one more time, hamming it up and posing for videos and photos.  this is the only picture i took with my phone, at the tail end of the photo shoot.

three days after the fair ended, i found myself at the fairplex once again - this time, just to pick up my competition entries.  this was a first for me, because in the past i'd only ever submitted cookies and those always get tossed in the trash when they clean out the display cases.

it was kind of weird to drive around inside the fairgrounds, with all of the rides and food booths and things being torn down and moved to either storage facilities or to the next fair or carnival.

and now i have these back in the house...along with two blue ribbons that i'm pretty proud of.

woohoo!  can't wait till next year - maybe this time i'll actually get my act together and sew up some clothing to submit for judging.  let's see how many different categories i can maybe win a ribbon in.

Monday, May 29, 2023

nerding out, star wars-style

going to disneyland on 5/4 has become a fun little annual tradition for me, which is kind of weird considering i've never really thought of myself as a big star wars nerd before.  i mean, i saw the three OG movies in the theater back in the day when they were first released, and i eventually saw the prequels and the few most recent films too.  i definitely wanted to be princess leia when i was little, and when disneyland hosted the star wars-themed races i was happy to register/train for/make costumes to wear to run them.  

wait.  i guess maybe i AM a low-level star wars nerd then, huh?  oh.

nowadays when i visit the parks, i like to park in the toy story lot instead of the giant parking structure because unless it's fairly early when i arrive (like before 9am), electric car charging spots are typically all taken.  but the toy story lot has two whole aisles of charging spots, and it's a pretty short walk to the shuttle loading area.  it also seems like the loading process onto those buses is easier than shoving through the crowds to board the tram that takes you to the mickey & friends structure.  all this to say, even the bus was feeling it for may the fourth (i guess it's kinda hard to see, but the display reads "may the 4th be with you!):

my reservation was for california adventure, where i wandered around aimlessly for a bit before crossing over the esplanade into disneyland.  i scoped out the turnstiles until i found my favorite cast member:

obligatory castle selfie.

and then i made my way back towards galaxy's edge, along with everyone else.  the weather was beautiful that day - partly cloudy skies and cool, comfortable temps.  truly the best time to come to the parks.

as i strolled through batuu i caught a glimpse of the crazy long line to get into the den of antiquities - it snaked out the door and all the way out to about halfway through the black spire outpost area.  i guess they release a $400 limited edition light saber every may the 4th, and since i thought i'd seen that there was a two-per-guest limit, i couldn't help but stare when i saw these people walk by:

that's the kind of thing that drives disney fans absolutely bonkers - because you know they're making their way out of the parks and heading straight home to list those online with a huge profit margin (they're actually on ebay right now, going for up to $900). 

i was hungry, so i got in line at ronto roasters for a delicious ronto wrap.  as i waited, i noticed a sign for a new specialty drink - the destran ice cap, sprite with orange-tangerine syrup and topped with sweet cream cheese cold foam.  i'm pretty sure that's the same topping they use for my favorite black caf cold brew, so i decided to give it a shot.  and of course...it's delicious.  goes really well with that ronto wrap.

i found a nice shady spot where i sat back to eat and peoplewatch, two of the best things to do at disneyland.  and i wasn't disappointed in the least, because all my fellow star wars nerds had busted out all their gear for the occasion and dressed up as much as they could get away with.  not to mention, it was one of the dates for star wars night, a separately ticketed event where attendees of all ages can wear costumes to the park (on normal days, costumes are only for kids under 14).  and i didn't pick up my phone fast enough for a better shot, but these folks went all out with their outfits, even dressing up their scooters.  it was impressive and caught everyone's attention as they rolled by.

photo ops, because why not?

by that time the old lady's shift had ended, so i caught up with her near the entrance and we headed back into tomorrowland to grab a limited-edition souvenir for one of her fellow cast members.  it happened to be time for the "magic happens" parade, and we caught the last few floats.

she'd been wanting to try the birria toasted cheese sandwich at jolly holiday, so that was our last stop of the day.  

and that was how my may 4th for 2023 went.

Monday, May 22, 2023

taking a trip to omega mart

so...back to our spring break adventures in vegas.  for our last full day we decided to try siegel's bagelmania, which i'd heard of but had never visited.  and since the bean is obsessed with bagels these days, i knew it would be a winner.

there was so much carby goodness in there, it was hard to focus and figure out what i wanted to order.  from a plethora of bagel and cream cheese flavors to a bakery case full of freshly baked cakes and cookies to a nice assortment of pinkbox donuts, there was something here for everyone.

it really was sensory overload, and that's how i ended up with a salt bagel stuffed with delicious slices of corned beef and an iced latte.

you know i had to take this:

but it was only the beginning of a full day of sensory overload.  as soon as we were done with our bagels we headed over to area 15, just a couple of miles away, for our next adventure.

we'd secured tickets to visit omega mart - something i didn't know a lot about, but had heard was a must-see while in vegas.  all i knew was that it was some kind of art installation disguised as a grocery store but with secret passageways and other mysterious things to explore.

i'd heard that there was a card of some sort that you could buy for a couple of bucks that would activate some extra added bonus experience, and once we secured one we headed to the back of the store to get started.

we wandered around the store for a few minutes before we came across this outdoor exploring setup.

the bean and i peeked into the tent and found an opening to a tunnel inside, so we crawled through.

when we emerged on the other side, we found ourselves in a huge back area, with these stairs off to one side.

the hub had found an easier way to get back there, and we started wandering around back there, checking out all of the rooms and walkways.  i really can't explain what it all was, but there seemed to be some sinister backstory to the whole thing that involved executives and employees of the store who had vanished suddenly, and a bunch of references to a dark underworld that i really didn't understand.  i took a bunch of pictures, but i suppose none of it really makes sense unless you're there - and honestly, maybe not even then.

we lost the hub at some point, and then the bean and i found this little walkway that dumped us right back into the grocery store.

we browsed through the "produce" section, which was just as super weird as the rest of the place.  almost everything on display was also available for sale, like this avocado coin purse and banana-shaped flask.

as we wandered through the store, browsing all of the aisles, the products on the shelves reminded me of those old school wacky packages - the collectible sticker cards that were parodies of real-life grocery store items...do you remember?  they looked just like this stuff.

the dairy case looked like it was glitching:

and i found this bag amusing.

the door to what looked like an ordinary refrigerated section actually led you back to the weird area behind the store:

we ended up spending close to four hours at omega mart.  the hub had gotten his fill and found a bar oh-so-conveniently located right near the exit, where we met up with him after picking up a couple of souvenirs.  and because it was still pretty early, we headed on outta there and hit the strip one more time to do touristy stuff.  this is what we had in mind:

but once we got there and i got a look at the pricing for tickets ($25 per person? for a freaking ferris wheel?) we decided to just walk around and browse through the shops at the linq.  no one wanted to pose with me here, so i settled for this shot:

and this one:

and then we hopped back in the car and snagged a booth here.

we spent about an hour or so taking turns hitting golf balls and having a great time.

and that's how we wrapped up our quickie spring break trip to vegas.  we'd packed as much as we could into the few days we were out there, and had a great time.  it'd been a very different vegas trip compared to how it would normally be if it were just me and the hub, or if we were out there for cheer competition.  it was relaxed and low-key and a whole lot of fun - what more can you ask for?

2023 l.a. county fair roundup

so one good thing that came out of the pandemic was that the l.a county fair moved from september to may, which is lovely because it was alw...