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Old 06-12-2013, 04:38 AM   #271
AussieDisneyNut
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Don't leave us hanging!

Can't wait for the next installment!

I definitely recommend Friday Night Lights ... but then again I am not familiar with the whole football culture! I really enjoyed this series because of the interaction between the characters.
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Old 06-12-2013, 06:23 AM   #272
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"Our" routine is changing?????


Oh boy!


And I was so enjoying this vicarious lifestyle.
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:06 AM   #273
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LOVE.THOSE.PINS!!!!! I'm envious! What a find--and a great price!

I'm salivating over that pretzle--didn't know they had those at Whitewater Snacks!

Have you put up a picture of Stupey Doodle yet?
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:35 AM   #274
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What a great find those pins were! I'm eagerly waiting to see what the changes are xx
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Old 06-12-2013, 03:01 PM   #275
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That's it??????????

I hope that next installment comes around quickly!

That was nice that the CM whipped up a fresh batch of pretzels!
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Old 06-12-2013, 11:05 PM   #276
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We were shocked as well on how cold it gets here. When we moved to OC Jan 2011, we barely needed sweaters. By December we were lighting logs in the fireplace to take the chill off many mornings.

I never thought once about going to the Disneyland hotels' lobbies during the holidays but will try to do that this year when are blocked out from the parks, just to see the decorations.

And now I'm itching to know where that thrift store is. :D looking forward to more of your journey/story!
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:33 AM   #277
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1. Weather - It always amuses me when people say that it isn't cold in California. I have lived here my entire life, and I know that it does get cold from time to time. Sure it's not Chicago-cold, but it can easily drop down to 30 degrees in SoCal and much lower than that in the mountains. It's certainly cold enough to bundle up and bust out the hot cocoa!

2. Christmas movies - "Love Actually" is on one of the HBO channels right now! Sam's dad just bumped into the Claudia Schiffer lookalike and is googly-eyed.

"Elf" (another favorite) was on Starz earlier this morning! Such a great movie.

Do you and Tracy get the Hallmark Channel? You mentioned "The 12 Dates of Christmas," and I wondered if you had ever caught any of the 2-month long Christmas countdown marathons that start on Hallmark in early November and run until early January. Every weekend during those 2 months, they run Hallmark holiday movies (along the lines of "12 Dates...") all day and night, and I have become addicted. The movies are usually frothy, upbeat, harmless, good-natured, Christmas fare -- almost always involving a disenchanted woman who dislikes Christmas and romance....and by the end of the movie she loves both Christmas and a guy! Some of the best movies they show are "Farewell, Mr. Kringle," "The Most Wonderful Time of Year," "Trading Christmas" and "Mrs. Miracle," but there are a lot of good ones.

3. Hidden Mickeys -- I love the hidden Mickey in the Marceline's Confectionery sign/logo. That's always been a favorite.

I don't know if you saw it, but there is a hidden Mickey by or on the front door of Vault 28 in DTD as well. You may have to walk right up to the door to see it, and it's better to do that when they have not opened yet and the front door is closed, but it's there!

Another favorite hidden Mickey is in the grandfather clock in the GCH lobby, but I don't know if it has been replaced. It was gone the last time I looked.



4. Gingerbread houses? I may have missed it in one of your previous posts, but was the little gingerbread neighborhood still up in White Water Snacks when you stopped in there during the holidays? It wasn't just one house -- there were two houses with cute little snowmen and reindeer in front.

Storytellers Cafe also has a different (larger) gingerbread house every holiday season -- the one in 2011 was really aromatic. The one in 2012 was not as fragrant, but it was still fresh gingerbread. In 2010, apparently Storytellers briefly put up an elaborate Haunted Mansion Holiday-themed gingerbread house...and then quickly took it down for reasons that remain mysterious. Only one waiter admitted to having seen it for a second, while everyone else in the restaurant feigned ignorance. A year later, some of the Storytellers employees confessed to knowing about the HMH gingerbread house from 2010, and they speculated that it was quickly taken down for "legal reasons." It was taken down so fast that some of the CMs who work in the restaurant didn't even know it had ever been there!

5. The picture of you and Tracy wearing the New Year's hats in front of the PPH tree is great!

6. I can totally relate to the cat allergy! I'm also terribly allergic to cats -- which is a shame, as I love animals. Are your allergies to the point where you could just be standing in a room -- even post-vacuuming -- where a cat had been at one point and still have a reaction? A lot of friends of mine have never understood why I couldn't go to their houses because I was allergic to their cats. They figured that since they were not allergic, neither was I! Or they figured that I would sneeze once and that would be the end of it. Wrong! Cat hair can find its way to an allergic person standing two rooms away if it wants to find them, and those allergies can get wicked!





You and Tracy should join us in the Disneyland at Christmas Time/Holiday Season Superthread at some point (on the main DL forum) -- especially when we start the (3 Month) Theme Week Countdown in August. I think you both would enjoy it because you love Christmas and you love Disneyland! Cheshirecatty and Pesky post there too!
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:33 AM   #278
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tayalltheway View Post
Chapter 36
Christmas is Over?


We walked to the back of the restaurant and found what we were looking for—the pretzel spinner! Unfortunately, all the pretzels in there looked like they were hours old. I may have poked one to confirm my suspicions. Tracy reprimanded me later, saying that I probably could have found a more hygienic way to figure out that the pretzels were stale. The point, however, is that these were not the Mickey pretzels we were looking for. We wanted a fresh one. So I went up to the cast member at the register and asked if they could make a fresh batch. Since we were literally the only ones in the whole place, she quickly obliged and asked the kitchen staff to start working on some new pretzels.

We waited for a few minutes while our pretzel got heated up. Here’s the (now empty) spinner after the cast member threw away the old pretzels.



Finally, out our treat came. It was piping hot, and we had to wait for it to cool for several minutes before digging in. Of course, we got the requisite side of nacho cheese to dip it in.



To say this was a glorious snack would be a gross understatement. At the time, we were swearing it was the best possible thing we could imagine eating. Disney food does that to you, and we had been deprived of this kind of snack for far too long. We gobbled down our pretzel and then didn’t stay too much longer at Downtown Disney.

We also discovered this cool thrift store near us that is run by two of the people on the show Storage Wars. We had never seen the show, and then we happened to catch an episode about a week before we accidentally found this place.



On our first visit, the display that caught our eyes most quickly was several Disney pins priced very reasonably (about $3 each). This was obviously a collection that someone had prided themselves on at some point. We jumped at these really cool Autopia driver’s license pins as well as this cool Minnie nametag cast member pin. We later looked them up on eBay to see if we had made some good finds and they were selling for over $50 each. Not that we were looking to sell. We just thought they were really cool, and they cost us less than $10 total.



These were actually the last few days of maintaining the routine to which we had become accustomed. The times, they were a-changin’ starting the very next week.
Those Mickey pretzels look so yummy!

I have watched Storage Wars and I think you went to the thrift store run by the married couple? Atleast one of the other bidders on the show also has a thrift store, but they just show the men. There is only one couple on the CA version. I would love to poke around that shop and hear them arguing!
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:00 PM   #279
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Originally Posted by tayalltheway View Post
ALERT! Season 3 of PLL is on Netflix now! We re-watched the last few episodes in preparation for the Season 4 premiere tonight! So there goes your next 24 hours... You're welcome
Ummmmm I had just seen season 3 come onto Netflix, but I didn't know season 4 was starting on TV!!! So literally after I ready your post, I ran downstairs and looked it up on my Tivo. I missed the first ep, but the are re-running it before next weeks new one, so I'm glad you said something! And I'm slowly getting through season 3 right now, woo hoo!!


LOVE the Stupey Doodle cup, I laughed when you posted the picture. And that Mickey pretzel looks super yummy, it's making me crave Disney food just looking at it!

And way to go with celebrating Tracy's b-day all month, in my family we call it a "birthday season" and it goes from when you start celebrating to when you stop. Could be days, could be weeks, or at Disney, could be all month!!! Happy belated birthday to Tracy!
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Old 06-16-2013, 02:53 AM   #280
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieDisneyNut View Post
Don't leave us hanging!

Can't wait for the next installment!

I definitely recommend Friday Night Lights ... but then again I am not familiar with the whole football culture! I really enjoyed this series because of the interaction between the characters.
Hope the anticipation hasn't been keeping you up nights!

We would be the same way with Friday Night Lights. We don't care about football (we'll watch the Super Bowl each year, and that's about it), but we always like a show with good characters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
"Our" routine is changing?????


Oh boy!


And I was so enjoying this vicarious lifestyle.
Alas, our carefree days couldn't last forever. They could, I guess... But we would have been living on the streets before too much longer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheshirecatty View Post
LOVE.THOSE.PINS!!!!! I'm envious! What a find--and a great price!

I'm salivating over that pretzle--didn't know they had those at Whitewater Snacks!

Have you put up a picture of Stupey Doodle yet?
We were SO happy with our pin finds! We wanted to buy more from the thrift store, but at the time we couldn't really justify spending much more than our $10, and we definitely got the best ones.

The pretzel was just delicious. We were so glad we had wandered back there on a whim to discover White Water Snacks!

We still don't have a good picture up, though our Stupey Doodle calendar still gives us glee each time we look at it. Now we want to order one of those big canvas prints and hang it above the TV.

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Originally Posted by tinkerbells mum View Post
What a great find those pins were! I'm eagerly waiting to see what the changes are xx
They were definitely a good find. And we didn't even go into the shop expecting anything related to Disney! Alas, the changes are a little boring in comparison to everything else we had been up to, but we had to pay the bills somehow...

Quote:
Originally Posted by franandaj View Post
That's it??????????

I hope that next installment comes around quickly!

That was nice that the CM whipped up a fresh batch of pretzels!
Next installment coming your way in a few minutes!

We were really glad the CM didn't mind making fresh pretzels. I'm sure it helped that we were the only ones in the restaurant...

Quote:
Originally Posted by flamingglobessigmund View Post
We were shocked as well on how cold it gets here. When we moved to OC Jan 2011, we barely needed sweaters. By December we were lighting logs in the fireplace to take the chill off many mornings.

I never thought once about going to the Disneyland hotels' lobbies during the holidays but will try to do that this year when are blocked out from the parks, just to see the decorations.

And now I'm itching to know where that thrift store is. :D looking forward to more of your journey/story!
I think a lot of things about the weather surprised me. I didn't realize we would have defined seasons at all, but they're definitely there (even if the temps don't vary THAT much).

I can't recommend heading to Downtown Disney during the holidays highly enough! It was such a great way to get our Disney/Christmas fill when we couldn't be in the parks. They just do such a great job with all the decorations.

The thrift store is called Now & Then, and it's located at 810 N Tustin St in Orange. We went back recently to see if there were any more pins, but they had all been sold They DID have some other really cool Disney memorabilia, however, including someone's whole collection of old Mickey Mouse watches, but everything was a little too expensive for us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherry E View Post
1. Weather - It always amuses me when people say that it isn't cold in California. I have lived here my entire life, and I know that it does get cold from time to time. Sure it's not Chicago-cold, but it can easily drop down to 30 degrees in SoCal and much lower than that in the mountains. It's certainly cold enough to bundle up and bust out the hot cocoa!

2. Christmas movies - "Love Actually" is on one of the HBO channels right now! Sam's dad just bumped into the Claudia Schiffer lookalike and is googly-eyed.

"Elf" (another favorite) was on Starz earlier this morning! Such a great movie.

Do you and Tracy get the Hallmark Channel? You mentioned "The 12 Dates of Christmas," and I wondered if you had ever caught any of the 2-month long Christmas countdown marathons that start on Hallmark in early November and run until early January. Every weekend during those 2 months, they run Hallmark holiday movies (along the lines of "12 Dates...") all day and night, and I have become addicted. The movies are usually frothy, upbeat, harmless, good-natured, Christmas fare -- almost always involving a disenchanted woman who dislikes Christmas and romance....and by the end of the movie she loves both Christmas and a guy! Some of the best movies they show are "Farewell, Mr. Kringle," "The Most Wonderful Time of Year," "Trading Christmas" and "Mrs. Miracle," but there are a lot of good ones.

3. Hidden Mickeys -- I love the hidden Mickey in the Marceline's Confectionery sign/logo. That's always been a favorite.

I don't know if you saw it, but there is a hidden Mickey by or on the front door of Vault 28 in DTD as well. You may have to walk right up to the door to see it, and it's better to do that when they have not opened yet and the front door is closed, but it's there!

Another favorite hidden Mickey is in the grandfather clock in the GCH lobby, but I don't know if it has been replaced. It was gone the last time I looked.



4. Gingerbread houses? I may have missed it in one of your previous posts, but was the little gingerbread neighborhood still up in White Water Snacks when you stopped in there during the holidays? It wasn't just one house -- there were two houses with cute little snowmen and reindeer in front.

Storytellers Cafe also has a different (larger) gingerbread house every holiday season -- the one in 2011 was really aromatic. The one in 2012 was not as fragrant, but it was still fresh gingerbread. In 2010, apparently Storytellers briefly put up an elaborate Haunted Mansion Holiday-themed gingerbread house...and then quickly took it down for reasons that remain mysterious. Only one waiter admitted to having seen it for a second, while everyone else in the restaurant feigned ignorance. A year later, some of the Storytellers employees confessed to knowing about the HMH gingerbread house from 2010, and they speculated that it was quickly taken down for "legal reasons." It was taken down so fast that some of the CMs who work in the restaurant didn't even know it had ever been there!

5. The picture of you and Tracy wearing the New Year's hats in front of the PPH tree is great!

6. I can totally relate to the cat allergy! I'm also terribly allergic to cats -- which is a shame, as I love animals. Are your allergies to the point where you could just be standing in a room -- even post-vacuuming -- where a cat had been at one point and still have a reaction? A lot of friends of mine have never understood why I couldn't go to their houses because I was allergic to their cats. They figured that since they were not allergic, neither was I! Or they figured that I would sneeze once and that would be the end of it. Wrong! Cat hair can find its way to an allergic person standing two rooms away if it wants to find them, and those allergies can get wicked!





You and Tracy should join us in the Disneyland at Christmas Time/Holiday Season Superthread at some point (on the main DL forum) -- especially when we start the (3 Month) Theme Week Countdown in August. I think you both would enjoy it because you love Christmas and you love Disneyland! Cheshirecatty and Pesky post there too!
1. I think we were a little glad that it got kind of cold. We left the terrible East Coast winters behind because I never want to feel THAT kind of chill again in my life, but I still like having the feeling of seasons a little bit, and I think our seasons were good this year. You can definitely tell a difference between January and June at least.

2. Glad you've been getting a Christmas movie fix this week even if we're still several months away! We haven't ever really watched any Hallmark movies, but I guarantee we'd enjoy them. We'll have to check out a few this year!

3. I don't think I've noticed the ones in Vault 28 or the GC clock. New things to be on the lookout for! We always love spotting Hidden Mickeys!

4. I think we missed the gingerbread neighborhood because by the time we went into White Water Snacks, the decorations were definitely starting to come down. Sounds really cool though! We'll have to check it out this year. That Haunted Mansion gingerbread house sounds awesome!! I wish it could have stayed up. I'm sure there was some sort of copyright issue though... Boo!

5. Thanks

6. My allergies aren't QUITE that bad. I can usually be in houses with cats without too much of a problem, though there have been exceptions where the house just "smells like cat" when it starts to give me issues if I'm there for too long. Luckily I'm also usually fine petting cats as long as I wash my hands immediately afterward. I just start having problems if they try to rub up on me. I agree that it's awful having animal allergies! I would love to have a cat, but it's just really not a good idea...

I'll have to pop over to the Christmas thread. Sounds like a fun place to be!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pharmjenn View Post
Those Mickey pretzels look so yummy!

I have watched Storage Wars and I think you went to the thrift store run by the married couple? Atleast one of the other bidders on the show also has a thrift store, but they just show the men. There is only one couple on the CA version. I would love to poke around that shop and hear them arguing!
The pretzel was so good! Just what we were in the mood for.

I'm not 100% sure who the thrift store was run by because I think the people who run it weren't really in the one episode we watched. Google tells me it's Jarrod and Brandi though, if that means anything to you. Unfortunately, it sounds like they're rarely there in person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by laur roo View Post
Ummmmm I had just seen season 3 come onto Netflix, but I didn't know season 4 was starting on TV!!! So literally after I ready your post, I ran downstairs and looked it up on my Tivo. I missed the first ep, but the are re-running it before next weeks new one, so I'm glad you said something! And I'm slowly getting through season 3 right now, woo hoo!!


LOVE the Stupey Doodle cup, I laughed when you posted the picture. And that Mickey pretzel looks super yummy, it's making me crave Disney food just looking at it!

And way to go with celebrating Tracy's b-day all month, in my family we call it a "birthday season" and it goes from when you start celebrating to when you stop. Could be days, could be weeks, or at Disney, could be all month!!! Happy belated birthday to Tracy!
Glad that you're in the process of catching up on PLL. It's really good right now!!

Also glad that you liked our Stupey Doodle cup and our Mickey pretzel. We were very happy with both!

Definitely agree about "birthday season!" We love extending celebrations whenever we get the chance!
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Can We Move Here and Be Pancho’s Handlers? A Sept '11 Throwback Disneyland Trip Report
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Old 06-16-2013, 03:05 AM   #281
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Chapter 37
Celebrating a Quarter-Century


A couple weeks into January, I was the first one of the two of us to find a job. It wasn’t a huge accomplishment, per say, because all I really did was convince the company I had worked for in NYC to let me do some work for them remotely. The company, which I’ll call Washington Crabtree (the real name is just as nonsensical) makes really expensive designer doorknobs. Like, we’re talking $1000 per door just for the set of two knobs. I originally found my job with them on Craigslist when I was still auditioning, and it seemed like a great “day job.” The pay was pretty good, I would only work three days a week, and the duties were child’s play. I was literally hired on to print pages, put them in binders, and then ship these binders off to customers. I was making great use of my college degree. Within a few months, however, my immediate boss had left the company, and they had me step into her role (basically giving me the option of step up or ship out). Suddenly, I was in charge of all the marketing for the entire company. Now, you may be thinking, was it really wise for them to put a fresh college grad with a theater degree in such a high-ranking position? The answer would be a resounding “NO,” but these were not the smartest business people. Instead, they liked the fact that they were basically paying me peanuts for a job that they would have to shell out big bucks to fill with a qualified candidate.

And so my time with Washington Crabtree progressed. I wasn’t happy, but it was steady work. We knew we would be leaving New York imminently, and saving up every possible penny was essential. My health also started going downhill while I was working there, and while they gave me a hard time about my issues at first, eventually they let me start working from home when I went through my worst period of all-but-constant dizziness. I had a countdown clock ticking down to the exact moment when I could officially be done working for the company starting about 9 months before the fact. When I was finally able to officially clock out on that last day (albeit from my home computer) I felt one of the greatest sighs of relief I think I’ve ever experienced.

So now, here we were about 6 months later, and I found myself working for them yet again. Had I gone crazy? No, but we were pretty desperate. And I didn’t have any other options lined up for jobs that I would be able to do from home. More specifically, I had no idea where to even start looking for such jobs. In early December, I made the decision to email my old boss and ask if there was any chance they would want me to take back over some of my old tasks. After giving me the runaround for about a month (they obviously wanted to wait until the new calendar year before shelling out the money to bring me on), I got the email saying there were a few things they could use me for. I was able to start the following week, and pick up several of the tasks I was used to covering. Mostly, I just had to update the company website because it had literally gone untouched since I left. It wasn’t that there weren’t new things to add/change, it was that no one else had any idea how to do anything on the site. Again, not the best business people. The work wasn’t anything I was excited about, but it was easy enough. The biggest upside, however, was that I was now 3000 miles away from the people in the office who I really couldn’t stand. Yes, I occasionally had to check in with them via phone or email, but mostly I was able to work independently. I would start my days logging in remotely at 9am and finish promptly at 2pm. Even working these part time hours, however, I was making more money than I would have gotten from full-time hours at one of the Disneyland jobs we had been looking into. For now, it really was the perfect situation. Not the perfect job, by any means, but just what I needed right now. Above all, it meant that we were safe from the imminent prospect of going broke (for up to a few more months if it came down to it) even though Tracy hadn’t found anything yet.

It was during my first week of working from home that Tracy’s birthday arrived! I had been given any sort of flexibility I wanted as long as I completed 25 hours per week, so I decided to space it out this week such that I could take her birthday entirely off.

Tracy started off the morning with presents (of course!). Since we still had the tree up, we put them under there. It was like a second Christmas. The first card Tracy opened was from her parents, and they included her new insurance card with it. Tracy was SO thrilled about that first present.



Now, onto the presents I gave her. First off was this Dumbo mug that she had been eyeing at the Disney Story at the mall. We have SO many mugs—way more than we ever use—but I couldn’t pass up Dumbo.



Next was this Monorail bracelet I ordered from the Etsy seller Migoto Chou. She makes all kinds of great beaded Disney jewelry (Tracy got the Orange Bird necklace from her a few months earlier), and she’s had her eye on the Monorail bracelet for many months. I think I surprised her with this one pretty well because she had no idea I had figured out how to use Etsy…





Tracy’s last present from me was a Jim Shore birdhouse to hang from our balcony. This one features Tinkerbell! Alas, we still haven’t had any birds make this house into a home…



After lunch, we headed back over to the Orange County Zoo to continue celebrating. Unfortunately, we weren’t doing a very good job keeping track of time, and by the time we got there, the zoo was only open for another half-hour or so. Luckily, you really don’t need too much time to see all the animals at this zoo.

There was only one bear out today, and he was sleeping adorably.



Speaking of adorable, our raccoon friend was heading out for a drink of water.





There’s a nice duck pond right next to the zoo where you can rent pedal-boats during the summer. We’ll need to go back sometime soon, but for now, we just enjoyed watching the ducks.



Soon after we finished at the zoo, it was time to head to Downtown Disney for our dinner reservation. We ended up trying to cram a little bit too much into this day, so Tracy was feeling more stressed than excited as she drove from the zoo into Anaheim—not the birthday glee we were going for!

When we arrived at Downtown Disney, however, it was actually too early for our reservation. Unfortunately it was also pretty chilly, and we didn’t feel like walking around outside. In the end, we just decided to check in a little early, which we had no problem doing.

A few weeks before Tracy’s birthday, we had seen a thread on the Touring Plans Lines chat about how some of the restaurants in Downtown Disney offered free food if you joined their birthday club. The three sit-down restaurants that participate are the ones that are part of the Patina restaurant group: Tortilla Jo’s, Catal, and Naples. When we signed up, Tracy quickly got the birthday email entitling her to $30-off at any of those three restaurants. Since we usually split our entrees anyway, that amount was probably going to cover our entire meal at any of the restaurants, so we looked into which one we were most anxious to try. Catal undoubtedly had the best reviews from what we could find, but it had some more eclectic entrees that we weren’t sure we would like. Tortilla Jo’s seemed like pretty standard Mexican fare. Then we heard that Naples was run by the same people as Via Napoli, and our decision was made for us. Since we had LOVED Via Napoli in Epcot, we were hoping to recreate the experience here at Downtown Disney. We called and made our reservation a couple weeks in advance. Then we started reading reviews. Unfortunately, it seemed that the general consensus was that this pizza was just okay. People who had been to (and loved) Via Napoli were warning us that we wouldn’t find the same magic here. We were worried, but since we love pizza and are very rarely “pizza snobs,” we figured it would almost definitely be acceptable even if it wasn’t the greatest thing we’d ever eaten.



Our reservations weren’t even necessary when we decided to check in. We were quickly shown to a table on the first level of the restaurant.



We started looking at the menu, but since we had already checked it out online before coming, we were pretty sure we knew what we wanted.



While we were waiting to order, our server brought us out some bread.



Unfortunately, the bread was cold and not too fresh. Strike one, Naples.

We ordered the Barese pizza (which was topped with sausage, mozzarella, and tomato sauce). It arrived quickly and looked quite delicious.



After eating a few slices, I guess I understood the reviews we had read. It was definitely good. It was in no way offensive, as pizza goes. But it also wasn’t extraordinary. If anything, it was actually a little bland. As is sometimes the case with fresh mozzarella, the cheese didn’t have that much flavor to it, so the pizza was a little lacking as well.

While we were eating, the real highlight of the night was actually watching the balloon artist that was going around to all of the tables with kids and making the most elaborate and awesome balloon animals I’d ever seen. They were all Disney characters, and they were EXTREMELY well done. First, we saw him make a Snow White, then an Ariel, and later, a Pluto. I tried to get some pictures across the room of him doing Pluto, but I wasn’t at all able to capture the full effect.





We kept wishing he would come over to our table, but he was pretty focused on the kids. Stupid children, ruining everything in Disneyland. Just kidding… sort of.

When we were pretty sure there was no chance the balloon man was going to come make Tracy a birthday treat, we decided it was time to go. We “paid” the check (which was zero dollars after the discount, though we did have to still pay the tip). As we walked out, we stopped to admire the pizza oven in the process of cooking up some pies. They all looked quite delicious.





Overview of Naples Dining Experience
Service: Our server was definitely fine, though I wish he would have noticed that we could have used some fresher bread. Nothing to really complain about, but nothing memorable. 3/5
Atmosphere: I liked the atmosphere at Naples. The layout of the restaurant is cool, and I like that you can walk by the pizza ovens. We also really enjoyed watching the balloon artist, even if we didn’t get one. 4.5/5
Food: The food was pretty consistent with the reviews we had read. Not fantastic, but not bad either. I wish they could make it more like Via Napoli somehow. 3.5/5

First Visit?: Yes
Will Return?: Maybe. Not any time soon, but I wouldn’t rule it out. We thought the thing that looked the most delicious at other tables was the Panzerotti appetizer (fried pizza dough filled with fresh mozzarella, artisan ricotta and Parmesan cheese, marinara sauce), so we’d be tempted to go again to try that. On the whole, since it was practically free, it was obviously worth the money.


After we were done at Naples, we went to sit by the fire at the Grand Californian for a few minutes before heading home. It was fun, but we were sad that the pianist was now playing a mixture of Disney songs and regular piano tunes. We prefer all Disney, all the time.



We headed home rather than spending too much more time in Downtown Disney because I needed to get to work on Tracy’s birthday “cake.” Instead of an actual cake, she wanted me to try making a homemade version of the ‘Ohana bread pudding that she had loved so much on our WDW trip last May.

We had saved a recipe posted in the Touring Plans Lines chat by the user Banish, and Tracy had been craving it for months. Now was the time to see how accurate the recipe was and how well I would do at making it.

Here is the recipe we followed. It was originally posted on Banish’s blog, but it doesn’t look like it’s there anymore:

'Ohana Bread Pudding and Vanilla Sauce

Ingredients:
- 5 eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg (we used Pumpkin Pie Spice instead)
- 1-1/2 cup sugar
- 8 cups French or 'Ohana breakfast bread (We used a French bread loaf from Fresh 'n Easy. It worked really well)

Directions:
1. In a large bowl (big enough for mixture and bread) mix eggs, milk, salt, sugar and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. Cut bread in medium pieces (about 1.5" cubes), place on cookie sheet pan. Put in 350 degree oven.
3. Bake bread until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Remove bread and place in egg and milk mixture. Mix the bread into the mixture with a large spoon to let the bread soak up as much as it can, just do it gently so as to not break up the bread too much.
4. Place mixture in a lightly greased 10-inch cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Test with a toothpick till it comes out almost completely clean. You want the custard to be set but not dried out. I set my oven for 50 minutes and checked every 5 minutes after that. Mine took 65 minutes to finish.
5. Let stand 5 minutes, serve hot with ice cream or the Vanilla Sauce recipe.

Here are pictures of our pan before and after baking.





Vanilla Sauce

Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon (again, we used Pumpkin Pie Spice)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1-1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
For vanilla sauce, whisk light brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, egg, melted butter, whole milk, and salt together in a heavy saucepan until smooth. It will most likely start out with little lumps in it but whisk fairly vigorously for a minute or so and they will disappear. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and the sauce coats the back of a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour sauce over warm bread pudding, or serve on the side in a bowl.

(Note: Ours never really got totally smooth. It ended up pretty thick, so I’m not 100% sure if it turned out how it was intended)

Here it is with the sauce.



At this point, since it was done and looked pretty good (if I do say so myself), I thought it would be time to put the candles in, light them up, and sing Happy Birthday. Unfortunately, what I didn’t consider is that when you put candles in a cake, that cake has usually been cooling for hours. I learned the hard way, therefore, that when you put candles into a hot pan of bread pudding, those candles will melt pretty much instantly. After cursing and fishing out all the candles (except the waxy areas they left behind, which we would learn to try to avoid when eating our bread pudding on this first night and for several nights of leftovers), I put some candles in an unused hunk of bread and was able to sing to Tracy.



She made her wish and blew them out.



When we served up the dessert, it was actually very good! The vanilla sauce was a little weird (as expected). Obviously, the dessert at ‘Ohana comes with a Bananas Foster sauce. I’ve made Bananas Foster in the past, but since those days, bananas stopped agreeing with my stomach, so Tracy had to sacrifice her beloved sauce. On the whole, I thought this first bread pudding was a pretty successful venture. Not perfect, but definitely tasty. Similarly, Tracy’s birthday was pretty good. Not perfect, but not too shabby either.

Continued in Next Post
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1987 - WDW Visit in the Womb * 1990 - First WDW Visit * 1993 - First DLR Visit * March 1996 - Family Reunion at Treehouse Villas * March 1999 - Family Vacation at Treehouse Villas * March 2005 - One Day at MK with Friends * May 2008 - First Visit with then girlfriend (now wife) at POP * June 2010 - Disneymoon at Best Western LBV * Sept 2011 - Return to Disneyland at PP * May 2012 - Grand Prize WDW Radio Trip at POR Royal Room * November 2012 - Move to CA to become DLR locals!

Can We Move Here and Be Pancho’s Handlers? A Sept '11 Throwback Disneyland Trip Report
Duffy is Going to be ECSTATIC! a.k.a. Thank God She Was Jewish - May '12 WDW Trip Report
We Moved to Disneyland!! Now What…? Stories from New DLR Locals

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Old 06-16-2013, 04:45 AM   #282
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Happy Belated birthday to Tracy.

That monorail bracelet is just gorgeous! And I love your O'hana bread pudding cake. I'm going to have to try make it.


Congrats on your old new job. It is a regular paycheck and doesn't sound overly taxing. And it is convenient in that you can clock in when you want and clock off when you want. Seems like win-win all round?
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Old 06-18-2013, 02:01 AM   #283
tayalltheway
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
Happy Belated birthday to Tracy.

That monorail bracelet is just gorgeous! And I love your O'hana bread pudding cake. I'm going to have to try make it.


Congrats on your old new job. It is a regular paycheck and doesn't sound overly taxing. And it is convenient in that you can clock in when you want and clock off when you want. Seems like win-win all round?
Tracy appreciates the belated birthday wishes. I'm glad you liked the Monorail bracelet and the look of our bread pudding. You should absolutely try to make it sometime!

Thanks for the congrats on the job. It isn't really our situation anymore, but it was good while it lasted, and it helped introduce me to the world of freelancing, which is what I'm doing now. But more on that later.
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1987 - WDW Visit in the Womb * 1990 - First WDW Visit * 1993 - First DLR Visit * March 1996 - Family Reunion at Treehouse Villas * March 1999 - Family Vacation at Treehouse Villas * March 2005 - One Day at MK with Friends * May 2008 - First Visit with then girlfriend (now wife) at POP * June 2010 - Disneymoon at Best Western LBV * Sept 2011 - Return to Disneyland at PP * May 2012 - Grand Prize WDW Radio Trip at POR Royal Room * November 2012 - Move to CA to become DLR locals!

Can We Move Here and Be Pancho’s Handlers? A Sept '11 Throwback Disneyland Trip Report
Duffy is Going to be ECSTATIC! a.k.a. Thank God She Was Jewish - May '12 WDW Trip Report
We Moved to Disneyland!! Now What…? Stories from New DLR Locals
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Old 06-18-2013, 02:12 AM   #284
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Chapter 38
Kitties


We aren’t supposed to be allowed to have pets according to our lease, but the rule only applies to us specifically because we are renting from a single individual who owns our condo (Moustache). Many of the other occupants in our complex own their condos, and there isn’t really a rule about pets, so lots of people have them. Soon after moving in, we started seeing a few dogs going for walks daily, but it was cats who seemed to have cornered the market on the real estate around our complex.

There were several outdoor cats who seemed to always be around. You couldn’t go for a walk around the complex without seeing at least three or four poking out from bushes, sitting on fence posts, or darting across your path.

Now, we really don’t understand cats, and we don’t claim to, but at least we find them interesting. We tried, therefore, to befriend any of the neighborhood cats who would give us the time of day. Our first “friend” was a fluffy orange cat who reminded us of Crookshanks from the Harry Potter books. He didn’t have the smashed face, but otherwise, he was pretty similar. We started referring to him as “Crooky,” reaching down to pet him whenever we came across him, and generally just trying to get on good terms with one another.

While resistant at first, Crooky slowly began to respond to our particular band of needling. He would even occasionally be waiting on the mat at the bottom of our stairs when we would go out or come in for the day. Before we had known each other for too long, I tried to snap a few pictures of him.





You’ll note that he doesn’t look too happy to have us around. He’s rarely been super receptive to our petting him, but he doesn’t usually shy away too forcefully either. He’ll often come up to us as though he wants to be pet, but when we actually reach down, he’ll quickly move out of reach. Then there are other days when he’ll apparently be in the mood and will stay put while we scratch him. On these occasions, he begrudgingly lets us scratch under his chin, and he’ll occasionally let out an accidental purr.

Just as we were starting to make progress with Crooky, one day we were petting him at the bottom of the stairs when we noticed that he kept peering into the hedgerow outside our downstairs neighbors’ apartment. Upon looking into the bushes, I saw that there was a black cat staring from inside. We tried to coax the kitty out, and she came out before too long. Crooky was interested because she seemed unfamiliar, but when he tried to sniff around, she promptly hissed and bopped him on the top of the head with her paw. She would hiss whenever any of the other kitties around came anywhere near, but she seemed really friendly to people. Once we let her know that we weren’t going to hurt her, she quickly started rubbing all over us, and she seemed to love getting pet. We weren’t sure who she belonged to, but we were glad to have made another kitty friend. When we were deciding what to call her, Tracy meant to say “Midnight” because of her being all black, but said “Twilight” instead because we had just been listening to that on audiobook. Twilight was what stuck in the end (unsurprisingly), though more often we would call her “Twilighty.”



That night, we were just sitting and watching TV, when we heard a terrible sound coming from outside our door.

“Reeeaaaaaaaaaaaarr. Reeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar,” it went. Upon opening the door, we discovered that it was our new friend Twilighty. She was yowling and pawing, and she seemed frantic to be let in. Obviously, since we weren’t allowed to let her inside—and since my allergies would have gone haywire had we attempted to do so—we were at a loss for what to do. Suddenly, we were less sure that she was actually a new cat who had just moved to the neighborhood and started wondering if she was a stray.

Eventually, she quieted down, and we hoped she had just gone home. The next morning, though, there she was at the foot of our stairs once again. We tried to snap a couple pictures in case we wanted to make signs to report a found cat. She wouldn’t stay still very long to pose.





As you can see, her right eye was pretty squinty and goopy. We weren’t sure, but we thought it looked like it was infected. We also gave her another nickname: “Squinty McGee.”

By this point, it seemed pretty certain that she wasn’t going home. She appeared to think that we might be her new home, but unfortunately that couldn’t be the case. We tried researching what to do when you found a stray cat, but the options weren’t great. The first piece of advice seemed to be to try to bring the kitty to the vet or a local shelter to be scanned for a microchip. We didn’t see how we could accomplish that considering we weren’t about to put a strange cat in our car having no idea how she would react. The next option, of course, was to call Animal Control, report a stray, and have them bring her to the shelter. Since the OC shelter is a notorious kill-shelter, however, we weren’t about to subject her to that. The last option we found in our research was to try to find a cat rescue that could house her safely and eventually adopt her out. The rescues we called, however, told us they were full with long waiting lists. That meant that, once again, it was up to us to figure out what to do.

We thought about putting up signs around the complex saying “Found Cat,” but we read such mixed reviews about whether that was actually a good idea or whether it would attract potential wackos. In the end, we stalled long enough with indecision that night fell again. This time, we were prepared for the ominous yowling that would greet us at the door. We couldn’t do much, but since it was cold outside, we put a blanket in a cardboard box and set it down at the bottom of our stairs. When I checked a couple hours later, Twilighty was curled up adorably inside. We also knocked on the door of one of our neighbors across the courtyard to see if she had any idea who the kitty might belong to. After confirming our suspicions that she seemed like a stray, the neighbor at least gave us a bag of dry food for us to try to feed her. She never really seemed interested in food, however, despite being so thin, so we wondered if she was being fed elsewhere.

After the third night of yowling, we really couldn’t take it anymore. It was making us so stressed out to have this poor kitty who was obviously used to being an indoor cat suddenly facing the elements (remember, that this was early January, when the low temperatures would reach the mid-30s). We resolved that the next day, we would ask one of our neighbors to borrow a cat carrier and at least bring her to the vet to get scanned for a microchip. We also hoped the vet might take pity and have a look at the infected eye.

The next day came, however, and Twilighty never appeared. Several days went by, in fact, without us seeing any sign of her. We began to joke that we should make our “Found Cat” signs, but cross out the word “Found” and write “Lost.” Mostly, we were just worried that she had wandered into the street somewhere. Then one day, about two weeks after we had last seen her, we were taking a walk around the whole condo complex and wandered into the courtyard on the other side. Suddenly, we noticed our little kitty bounding toward us seeming happy as a clam. She came over and rubbed up against us, let us pet her, and “talked” to us with a few of her signature (but much less mournful) yowls. Then she retreated to one of the patios on that side of the complex where she looked to have a pretty nice setup, which included a cat carrier to sleep in as well as food and water dishes.

We were really confused at first. Had we been duped into caring for a kitty who had a home? Had we accidentally almost brought someone’s pet to the animal shelter?? It turned out that neither of these scenarios were actually the case. Twilighty had, in fact, found a new home. We heard from the neighbors of this new owner that, while she didn’t originally intend to keep her, she too had been charmed by our new friend. She, therefore, had taken Twilighty in as a pet. Luckily, she still wanders outside several hours each day, and if we see her out our window, we can go over and pet her. It’s actually the perfect situation. We can still have our new friend, but all of the stress associated with trying to care for her is gone.

With Twilighty adequately cared for now, we turned most of our attention back to old Crooky. We started giving him further nicknames (Crooky Monster, Crooky Crumble, Crooktenshtein, Crooky Poodle, Crookala, Monstro, etc.) We also started trying to pretend more and more that he was our kitty. After all, he didn’t really appear to have much of a home. Yes, there is a lady across the way who feeds him, but he spends 99% of his time outdoors. It’s quite obvious that he just thinks he rules over the whole complex.

We bought a roll of string and decided to see if we could get Crooky to play. Luckily, he was quite game.





We continue to bug him daily, and recently he’s started coming up the stairs with us whenever we get home, hoping to be let in. Despite the fact that he’s never ONCE made it over the threshold, he still manages to be very offended ever time the door is closed in his face. We also MAY have bought him some real cat toys recently. And MAYBE we got him some cat treats. But we don’t have a cat! I swear!

For all of our interactions, he still REALLY doesn’t seem to like us much. He has become, perhaps, LESS receptive to getting pet despite our being around him for six months now. Still, every time we come home, he comes sprinting over to our door. The same is true if we see him prowling around outside. All we have to do is bang on the window or say “hi” out the door, and he’ll be here within a couple minutes.

Cats. I just really don’t understand them. They’re adorable, yes, but all this give and take is just why I could never truly be a cat person. I’m just never sure where we stand with one another.

All this cat talk brings me to another story. This one revolves around the Disneyland Cats.

As I had mentioned in a previous update, one day while we were strolling around the grounds of the Disneyland Hotel, we saw a stray cat who appeared to have made himself at home in one of the bushes there. Having written this off as a one-time occurrence, we were surprised when we saw another kitty in the same general spot a few weeks later.



This sighting prompted me to ask about stray cats at Disneyland on the Touring Plans Lines chat. I was immediately flooded with responses about the “Disneyland Cats.” In case you aren’t familiar, here’s a brief lesson:

There are approximately 200 feral cats who live at the Disneyland Resort. Rather than get rid of them, however, Disney “employs” them as a small army that helps get rid of any rodents or other vermin that happen to make their way into Disneyland. Disney feeds the cats at several feeding stations set up around the parks and resorts as well as providing medical care when necessary.

When I first heard about this, something in the story just FASCINATED me. We joke sometimes about how when we moved to Orange County, we “moved to Disneyland,” but these cats actually LIVE in Disneyland. As far as they are concerned, there is no real world outside the parks. Disneyland is the location of their entire existence. What a great life. If you were a cat, is there any place you would rather be? After first hearing about the kitties, I read up on them as much as possible, and from that moment on, we always had our eyes peeled whenever we were on Disney property.

Cut ahead to the not too distant future, when we were spending an evening in Disneyland. We were walking through Fantasyland toward “it’s a small world” when we caught our first glimpse of a Disneyland Cat IN the parks. He just darted across the walkway on his merry way to some other corner of the park. Tracy and I mused for a few minutes wondering if the Disneyland Cats were active in the social media world at all. We checked Facebook and Twitter but found nothing.

Would you believe it, however, that on that very night, some poor person lost their phone in the parks. It was picked up by one of the Disneyland Cats who created a Twitter account and began tweeting about life in and around the parks. The cats are still very active to this day on Twitter at @disneylandcats

They’ve also started writing a blog, which you can find here.

Cats, huh? Am I right? They’re interesting. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear meowing at our front door.

Continued in Next Post
__________________
1987 - WDW Visit in the Womb * 1990 - First WDW Visit * 1993 - First DLR Visit * March 1996 - Family Reunion at Treehouse Villas * March 1999 - Family Vacation at Treehouse Villas * March 2005 - One Day at MK with Friends * May 2008 - First Visit with then girlfriend (now wife) at POP * June 2010 - Disneymoon at Best Western LBV * Sept 2011 - Return to Disneyland at PP * May 2012 - Grand Prize WDW Radio Trip at POR Royal Room * November 2012 - Move to CA to become DLR locals!

Can We Move Here and Be Pancho’s Handlers? A Sept '11 Throwback Disneyland Trip Report
Duffy is Going to be ECSTATIC! a.k.a. Thank God She Was Jewish - May '12 WDW Trip Report
We Moved to Disneyland!! Now What…? Stories from New DLR Locals

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Old 06-18-2013, 06:02 AM   #285
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Thanks for the updates. I love bread pudding and have a fantastically easily yet sublimely delicious recipe if you want one! In fact I made it just the other night with some beautiful brioche which I bought from our local "Good Food & Wine Show". Yum!

I have a theory on your new freelance job ... you are the cats of Disneyland and are actually twittering and blogging on their behalf! Am I right??

Hope you are enjoying your new quasi-pets.
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