Food, Glorious Food

The PurdyCool crew visited the opening day of the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival. Although it was April 1, the resort chefs were not foolin' around with the offerings available at this special event. Themed food booths, lining the main walkway from Carthay Circle to Paradise Pier, serve as the main attraction of the festival. Each booth features a couple of meat/veggie dishes, dessert and a variety of beverages. A large menu, such as this one at the "Gold Rush" booth, detail the offerings.

Of course, we were not able to sample EVERY item during this first trip, which is why we have two more trips to the festival planned before it closes on May 1. (The event runs Fridays-Sundays.) The following dishes were a couple of our favorites on this first day:

*White Cheddar Ale and Bacon Soup in a Mini Boudin Sourdough Bowl (By the Bay booth)

*White Cheddar Ale and Bacon Soup in a Mini Boudin Sourdough Bowl (By the Bay booth)

*Blackberry Tart with Rosemary Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche and Cabernet Wine Glaze (Wine Country booth)

*Blackberry Tart with Rosemary Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche and Cabernet Wine Glaze (Wine Country booth)

We also quite enjoyed the Grilled Beef Tenderloin Slider with Chimichurri Sauce from The Farm booth, but I forgot to snap a picture of that before I scarfed it.

We took advantage of the free cooking and lifestyle seminars held in the Hollywood Backlot area. We especially enjoyed watching Jean-Marc Viallet, Head Pastry Chef of Disneyland Resort, create the featured blackberry tart.

Several of the park's restaurants also have special dishes available during the festival. The Shredded Pork Tostadas with Grilled Pineapple Slaw and Chipotle Crema at Cocina Cucamonga were quite tasty. We even experienced a celebrity sighting while enjoying the Caribbean Pork Sandwich at Carthay Circle Lounge.

Taylor squared

Taylor squared

Hey!! Famous pop stars need sustenance, too!!

Feb. 2016 Awesome Pack: Ponies and Crystals

It's always fun to receive packages on a birthday, so Wendy was excited when we arrived home from our traditional Disneyland trip for her birthday to find the February Awesome Pack waiting on our porch. The PurdyCool gang decided not to wait and opened it that evening...even though a little fatigue was in evidence. We didn't let that dampen our spirits, though!!

The Sorcerer's Workshop

As you can probably surmise from earlier posts, the PurdyCool gang enjoys visiting the Disneyland Resort. We certainly try to get our money's worth from our annual passes. However, sometimes a mass of humanity can overwhelm the parks, and the lines for rides grow to a length that cause us to seek entertainment elsewhere. During these times, we visit one of our "escape" attractions. The Animation Building in California Adventure contains one such attraction: The Sorcerer's Workshop.

The first room of the workshop gives you a chance to exercise your animation skills. Long, narrow pieces of paper and pencils await your drawing skills (strong or feeble) and your imagination.

Once you complete your creation, you can literally give it a whirl in one of the motion cylinders located in the room. Perhaps you will discover that you have a shot at becoming one of Disney's next great artists (like Taylor). Or perhaps you will discover people might pay you to STOP drawing (like Wendy). At any rate, you can always spin up one of the existing animations available in the room as well.

When you finish your creation, you can move to the Beast's Library. It appears the Beast suffers from anger management issues. Also, the enchanted rose makes an appearance, dropping petals at a rate that doesn't bode well for the breaking of the curse.

 

What a terrible predicament! We really hope....oh wait!! Computers!! They take a picture of your face!! They tell you which Disney character is most like you!! I can't believe it....the "original" Facebook quiz!! WE MUST COMPLETE THIS NOW!!!

Indeed, after answering a series of questions, the magic book will reveal some of your character traits and your Disney "twin." As a bonus, a mechanism exists to also allow you to discover your villainous side as well. After completing the quiz, Wendy discovered she is most like....MRS. INCREDIBLE!! What about the other PurdyCool folks? Take a guess, then scroll to the bottom of the post to see if you were right.

If you linger long enough, you notice an interesting transformation in the library: the lights brighten, the portrait repairs itself and the rose becomes whole once again. You suddenly realize that while you were fooling around on this quiz, you missed an epic battle, the death of the villain and the curse-breaking True Love's Kiss. Drat those computers!!!

In the past, guests could visit another room: Ursula's Grotto. In this room, you could insert your voice into famous Disney scenes and songs. Currently, this room is not available due to the Anna and Elsa meet-and-greet in the building. Hopefully, it will return in the future, because I'm not ready to let it go.

We hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into the Sorcerer's Workshop. It truly is a nice space to spend some time, especially when the crowds or the heat become intolerable.

PurdyCool quiz results:

Stephen: Jiminy Cricket

Taylor: Belle

Holly: Lilo





Disneyland Annual Passholder Days

This year, the Disneyland Resort decided to dedicate an entire month to celebrating its annual passholders. As part of this fortunate group, the PurdyCool gang decided to try and take advantage of all the special opportunities. Each week featured a different theme:

Sadly, due to a sudden illness, we did not visit during the first week's celebration. However, we found ourselves in the parks the following weeks to participate in all the special activities, including....

Character Meet and Greet

We met Roger Rabbit!! We all love Roger, but he definitely has a special place in Wendy's heart. In fact, Santa delivered a Roger Rabbit plush toy to her during her senior year of high school. It kept her company all during her college years. Other rare characters meeting guests during the months included Jiminy Cricket, Baloo, King Louie and Baymax.

Crafts

At the Blue Sky Cellar, the girls enjoyed coloring and interacting with cast members and other guests. Of course, Taylor couldn't confine herself to the coloring pages....she had to draw on the tablecloth!! She drew everything pictured except the Jack Skellington (drawn by a cast member). Since this location also offered cell phone charging stations, mom and dad were happy to sit, relax and charge their phones while the girls explored their artistic sides.

 

Special show and Free Popcorn

Each week, the Main Street Opera House featured a show related to the week's theme. The second week we watched a show called "Disneyland 1961" and the True Nature film "Olympic Elk." The third week we watched a selection of Silly Symphonies and the fourth week we learned about "The Plausible Impossible." Taylor especially enjoyed this last offering, in which we learned about designing believable animation from Walt Disney himself. Actually, all the shows were hosted by Walt Disney, as they were from the old "Disneyland" television series. We also received free popcorn and water to enjoy while watching the movies.

Recipe Cards and Buttons

Some days when we visit the park, the crowds can become overwhelming and it's no longer feasible to wait to enjoy attractions. (After all, we've experienced them before). At that point, we deploy the "crowded day" motto: At least we can eat! Now, thanks to AP Days, we can enjoy some of our favorite Disney treats at home. We received two recipes each week during the celebration. The recipes above come from two of our favorite restaurants in Disneyland. We all also obtained a collectible pin featuring the week's theme.

All in all, we enjoyed the event. If nothing else, it gave us an excuse to catch up on some of our park visits. Due to an extended Christmas vacation and family sickness during the month of January, we feel woefully behind in our attendance. Hopefully, we will be able to take advantage of more special Annual Passholder events in the future!!

January 2016 Awesome Pack

Yippee!! Our January Awesome Pack finally arrived. We hit the jackpot this month with THREE games and some other goodies. Watch the video below to check out our haul...

Interstate 40 Snow Patterns

How do you kill time while riding along Interstate 40 in New Mexico? Why, take a time-lapse video of the pretty snow patterns on the road, of course!! Check out the video if you have a moment....

Livingston, TX: Dec. 15-19

The PurdyCool gang finally reached the Taylor homestead and settled down for a few days. Of course, we didn't just sit around watching Papa and Holly rake and bag the leaves. We always enjoy visiting the local restaurants....or as the PurdyCool girls call them....the "hole-in-the-wall" places. (To them, anything that's not a chain restaurant, however elegant or casual, is a "hole-in-the-wall.") We really enjoyed our lunch at Joe's Italian Grill Restaurant at 1615 W. Church St. The garlic rolls are excellent, as were all of our meals. Taylor's shrimp and ravioli is pictured here:

Dec. 17 marked Wendy and Stephen's 21st wedding anniversary and included a trip to NRG Stadium in Houston to watch the Mighty Refugio Bobcats play in the Class 2A, Div. I State Football Championship.

Wendy lived in Refugio for seven years during her childhood and considers it one of her hometowns. Sadly, the Bobcats suffered a huge loss, but the girls enjoyed their first live, in-person football game, and we all enjoyed visiting the home of the Houston Texans.

On Dec. 18, we elected to attend a symposium on "Beyond PowerPoint: Presenting Fictional History Using Video and Audio Components to Impact Your Audience:"

Oh...also known as "The Force Awakens." Actually, we hadn't planned to see the movie on opening weekend, but due to circumstances beyond our control, we found ourselves at the theater at 9 a.m. Friday morning. We even sat in those crazy "D-Box" seats. It was like riding "Star Tours" for two hours. We loved the movie, but Taylor and Wendy were a little bit sad....

If you saw the movie...you know why. If you didn't...WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??

Saturday, we headed out to Livingston Trade Days for some last-minute Christmas shopping. Of course, the pumpkin funnel cake was just an extra perk...

Trade Days takes place at Pedigo Park each month. If you are interested in visiting in the future, here's an upcoming schedule...

by Wendy Purdy

CHRISTMAS ROADTRIP DAY FOUR: COLLEYVILLE TO LIVINGSTON

The final travel day for the weary road warriors dawned with....NO SNOW!! Yippee!! We departed Colleyville in the late morning in order to avoid Dallas rush hour. Success! I only wish we could zip through Los Angeles at that rate of speed. We probably could have made it to Livingston without a single stop, but why would we want to when faced with the opportunity to visit a Texas icon....

After loading up on beef jerky, honey roasted pecans, BBQ brisket sandwiches and summer sausage, we continued our trek.

Granny and Papa Taylor were rocking and waiting on the front porch when we arrived in the 75-degree sunshine. This decoration on the front porch made us smile....

Inside the house, Holly was flabbergasted, because the rainbow scratch art door hangar she designed paled in comparison to this....

Thus our journey ends....at least until next week when we begin the process again in reverse. Thanks for joining us along the way!!

Christmas Roadtrip: Day Three (Amarillo to Colleyville)

I'm NOT dreaming of a White Christmas...but someone is determined to give me one.  We awoke Sunday morning in Amarillo, and the ground was clear.  However, by the time we ate breakfast and gathered our belongings, we faced this when loading our vehicle...

Thankfully, we turned toward the south and only had to deal with the snow for another half-hour or so. We zoomed along for a while, and as inevitably happens on this sort of trip, we needed to stopped for a gasoline fill-up. In a small town between Amarillo and Wichita Falls, we encountered perhaps the most exciting site of the trip....

Yes, you see that correctly folks. I don't really know how this might compare to other places in the country, but I can tell you it's a great deal cheaper than my local gas station in San Pedro, Calif.

We finally pulled in to the PurdyCool grandparents house, and the suspense ended....

Yes indeed, folks, that is a Texas chocolate sheet cake with TARDIS sprinkles. Grandma PurdyCool for the win!! Try not to be too jealous.

So, what could possibly top that? A trip to the world-famous "Big Red Tree!" 

After sufficiently burning our retinas, we retired for the evening in order to prepare for the shortest leg of our journey....Colleyville to Livingston. Until next time!!

by Wendy Purdy

Christmas Roadtrip: Day Two (Flagstaff to Amarillo)

Ol' man winter greeted us as we awoke in Flagstaff, AZ. We began to question the wisdom of selecting the northern route to Texas instead of the southern. Oh well...too late to change our minds now!! So, we brushed the white stuff off our van, packed as quickly as we could, and headed down Interstate 40.

Thankfully, the interstate was clear and the early part of the day proceeded with the oh-so-exciting views of travel along highway.....

 

We hit our first major traffic snag in Albuquerque. Since we were already delayed, we decided to continue a PurdyCool tradition and stop for a bite to eat at The Owl Cafe.

Of course, a stop for a bite to eat equals a rest stop down the road. Now, for all you Whovians out there who might doubt the good Doctor visited New Mexico, Holly found definitive proof in her bathroom stall.

As we approached Texas, all weather broke loose. Vivid lightning, loud thunder, driving rain and strong winds made us glad to finally reach our hotel in Amarillo.

On the next installment....Amarillo to Colleyville. The suspense builds: Did Grandma PurdyCool make that Texas sheet cake?

Christmas Roadtrip: Day One!!

So we're headed to Texas to visit family for Christmas.  Cue National Lampoon Christmas Vacation music... (it's not that bad..well yet).

First Stop: Breakfast!  We made it a whole hour-and-a-half down the road.  We ate at....

Stephen managed to only drink four cups of coffee at breakfast, so we were able to ride down the road for a couple more hours until...

Hey, can't complain about a rest stop that's not only convenient, but also educational!!

Sadly, I was unable to capture video of the little chihuahua trying to walk around in booties...because that that was funny right there...I don't care who you are.

We crossed into Arizona, and as we passed Kingman and started climbing into the mountain, guess what we found? Winter!! Yes, So. Cal. pals, it does exist!!

We stopped in Williams, AZ, and after retrieving our gloves from the, ahem, GLOVE COMPARTMENT (thanks, Wendy, for remembering those), we entered the Pine Country Restaurant...

 

Of course, the grown-ups needed more fortification in order the face the two minutes of walking back to the vehicle in the ice pellet shower.

We safely arrived at our hotel in Flagstaff....where the low tonight is projected to be 19 degrees. If we don't freeze from just that thought, we will be up bright and early tomorrow and ready to reach our next goal....AMARILLO!! (That's in Texas, y'all. Yee-haw!)

Co-authored by Wendy Purdy





November Q Box Unboxing (Rilakkuma Theme)

Rilakkuma?  What's that you ask? (I know I did).  Well the PurdyCool girls are here to tell you (turns out it's Japanese for "relax" "bear" and he's big in Japan).  Here's a wikipedia article on Rilakkuma.  As the Youtube description says, it's totally "east meets west" as these homeschool "western" girls of Texas heritage meet the latest in Japanese fashion and fun.  The fun this month is brought by Q Box.  Q box brings "Hand-selected cute items in beauty, fashion, accessories, home" from Japan and South Korea.  So cuteness reigns here.  The girls trade off each month on this particular subscription box, so this month Holly gets to unwrap the items and divide the loot between them.  The fun really starts toward the end as they start reading some cards with interesting foreign translations or wording.  Enjoy!

 

The PurdyCool girls encounter a cultural "East meets West" when they unbox their December 2015 Q Box! This month's theme is "Rilakkuma" which is Japanese for "relax" and "bear" (wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rilakkuma). See the girls lose it as they look through a card deck filled with amusing phrases and foreign languages.


November Awesome Pack

Woo-Hoo!! Our November Awesome Pack arrived yesterday. If you want to see the really awesome items we received, head over to YouTube and watch our latest unboxing video.


Season of the Force

Disneyland recently debuted its Tomorrowland "upgrade," Season of the Force. Capitalizing on the current Star Wars mania leading to the release of "The Force Awakens," the displays, character meet-and-greets and ride updates will encourage you to make the "Kessel Run" from the Main Gate as quickly as your ol' beat up bucket of bolts can handle.

The PurdyCool gang spent several hours exploring all the offerings of this galaxy far, far away. We even had the opportunity to meet some of the inhabitants.

What do you say when you meet Lord Vader? My strategy was to say as little as possible and escape with my windpipe intact. Holly took another approach and asked him to join her on the scarf side. I don't know...a scarf AND a cape might be a little much.

After we escaped from the clutches of the Empire, we hurried over to meet our favorite Wookie...a literal warm and fuzzy experience. Warning: Chewbacca, like Olaf, likes warm hugs. Of course, we assured him that we always let the Wookie win.

The character meet-and-greets are located in the Star Wars Launch Bay. The area also includes some awesome full-size and scale model props, costumes and other items from the movies.


Some familiar attractions also join in the fun with an infusion of midi-chlorians. (Yeah, I went there. HAHA!!) Star Tours, which has always been a Star Wars themed ride, received new scenes featuring locations and characters from the new movie. The "Captain EO" theater (it has an actual name that I can never remember) now shows "Path of the Jedi," a surprisingly moving film highlighting the history of the light/dark battle in the Force from the previous films, and a sneak peek at the new movie. Hyperspace Mountain allows you to join a rebel squadron fighting an Imperial Star Destroyer.

Finally, what would a trip into Season of the Force be without "Star Wars: THE MERCHANDISE?" Many locations now offer all manner of items for depleting your bank account. Head over to Star Trader for the largest selection, where I imagine these fellas are an effective shoplifting deterrent.

Overall, we have a very good feeling about the whole event, and deemed it Super PurdyCool!!

An Early Christmas for all the Whovians down in Whovianville....

The Grinch's heart was three times its size as he ordered a Doctor Who Limited Edition Loot Crate for the family this year.  It arrived early so we had an early Christmas Present.  While Stephen has always been a Doctor Who fan (from early on watching Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor with Grandpa PurdyCool back in the 80s - An example: Horror of Fang Rock, also available for free at Netflix), recently the rest of the PurdyCool family joined the fun with the modern era Doctors (ninth, tenth, eleventh and now twelfth doctors).  Wendy has of course gone above and beyond, having started watching the Doctors from the very beginning and listening to Doctor Who podcasts for good measure (try Lazy Doctor Who, Radio Free Skaro, or The Verity Podcast).  The girls especially have gotten into the series and show mythology.  As a result when Loot Crate announced this one, I couldn't resist.  Turns out I was right - quite a few neat things in there and we loved it.  The girls, not unexpectedly seized most of it for their own and took off!  The video is below for your amusement.  Of note, one of the Loot Crate items made us call out Grandma PurdyCool....

 

There were enough cool items in here (for us at least) to warrant its own special picture below.  The T-shirt alone is almost too cute for words.  For those unfamiliar with Doctor Who Lore, the "Weeping Angels" are a modern Doctor Who monster - they move rapidly but freeze in place if you look at them - prompting the modern Doctor Who slogan sometimes heard "Don't Move..Don't Even Blink".  Pretty freaky and on par with the Daleks in all-time cool monsters.  The rest of the Loot includes a sonic screwdriver toy, a mini Doctor Who figure (12th doctor), a Doctor Who sound key chain (with six classic sounds), the Tardis cake sprinkles, a comic and a summary document with outlines of the twelve doctors (plus War Doctor) on the back.  The box itself reversed into a Tardis as well.  Very Cool Stuff and guaranteed PurdyCool.

And to show Christmas wishes do come true....a text from Grandma PurdyCool....

:-) :-) :-) 

And he...he himself..carved the roast beast...(or Texas Sheet Cake)....

A Disneyland Thanksgiving

We have a tradition at PurdyCool (two years running) to take our Thanksgiving at Disneyland.  We have lunch reservations at Carnation Cafe and get a mix of thanksgiving traditional food plus another plate, then eat it all family style.  Lots of fun and no mess or leftovers.  We do miss the traditional football games, but we get Disney!  This year was extra fun as the new Star Wars area is up.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and yours from the PurdyCool family.  A short video is below showing the Carnation Cafe meal.

Viva Navidad

Christmas celebrations are in full swing at Disneyland! Check out one of our PurdyCool favorites....Viva Navidad at California Adventure.

Vasquez Rocks

Believe it or not, we managed to visit Vasquez Rocks without encountering any antagonistic aliens or having our vehicle stolen. The visit, though, was an unplanned detour as we drove home to San Pedro from Lancaster, CA. I (Wendy) just happened to look out my window as we cruised along the highway and spotted some rock formations that looked vaguely familiar. As I turned back to the highway, I saw a sign that said "Vasquez Rocks County Park Next Exit." I then proceeded to startle Stephen by yelling, "You must exit NOW!!"

After recovering from his initial shock, Stephen navigated the winding road to the park...about two miles from the highway exit. We parked at the Visitor Center, viewed the displays (including a few spiders and snakes) and then made our way to the rocks.

If you visit, I suggest wearing some sturdy athletic or hiking footwear. I was just wearing my city-slicker cowboy boots, so my progress was slow and I didn't try to reach the top of the rocks. Stephen and Taylor made it to the top, though.

Out of curiosity, we opened our Geocaching App and noticed a plethora of caches in the park. So if you enjoy geocaching, this is probably a great place to tally numerous finds in one day. We might try to return and do this on a day when we are better prepared for an extended stay. Admission to the park is free.


Tops in Blue

Earlier this year, the Air Force selected 1st Lt. Oliver Chang, a member of Stephen's organization, to participate in the Tops in Blue program. On Saturday, the group performed at Edwards AFB, so we, along with several other folks from Stephen's office, made the trip around the mountains to catch the show.

The group gave an outstanding performance, including a set of current chart toppers, a history of music through the 20th Century, a special appearance by some favorite superheroes, and a salute to the United States. Of course, our favorite part was Lt. Chang's "My Way" violin solo.

After the performance, we stayed to visit with Lt. Chang and the other cast members...as well as participate in what I like to call the "Plaque Exchange." First, Stephen presented Lt. Chang with his Company Grade Officer of the Quarter award.

Next, Tops in Blue presented Stephen a plaque to thank him for allowing Lt. Chang to participate in the program this year.