Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bread, Bingo, and Barrels


One of the many things that Emily has introduced me to is something called "breakfast bread". It's a heavy, yummy bread filled with all types of fruit n' nuts - perfect for toasting. I grew up in the Midwest, this is something I should have heard of! -- but I never had it until the first time I visited Emily and her family in Orlando. How could "comfort-food central for the nation" (the Midwest) have missed a thing like this!

Breakfast bread from Publix
just begging for a good toasting!

After a recent trip to Orlando, from which we brought back two loaves of breakfast bread, Emily set out to try and make it herself from scratch. A quick look on the internet showed that plenty of people were searching for the same thing: the recipe. Sadly, nothing official could be found. But Emily managed to find a couple of different home-grown recipes online from others who had attempted to recreate this dense, delicious, carbohydrate delicacy. Working from two recipes and adjusting as she thought best, Emily mixed up her ingredients.

Emily's bread, ready to go in the oven...

Outta the oven and Mr. Sniff says, "Hmmmm... smells good!"

The bread turned out really good, but still needs a little adjustment. It was darn tasty, but a little on the dry side - more scone-like than bread-like. But great when toasted! So next attempt is sure to hit the mark.

Back in early June, the Disney Company hosted its yearly "Family Picnic" for Disney employees and their families. Emily had been the previous year - I'd never gone, even though I'd worked on n' off at Disney for over 8 years. The picnic turned out to be a better event that I expected. Each year it's held at a private ranch up in Malibu.

Emily sneaking around in a cabin at the picnic.
This is either a really big window, or really small door.
Or maybe it's a huge mail slot, I dunno what
size letters they had back in the Old West.

At the picnic there was plenty of food, games, more food, paddle boats, bounce houses, more food, a Ferris wheel, and of course-- BINGO! (Like you had to ask?)

Emily and her bingo card... um, not so good hon, just two spots.

But my bingo card! Five spots! HA! Count 'em FIVE! Even the
divine light shining from above praises MY bingo card!

Well, okay... so my card wasn't that much better, and the "divine light" was more like a reflection off my bald head. Shortly after we started playing, the group got into a debate about whether to have everyone scrap their cards and start over or keep playing. We could see this was going to be a long, involved event... so we ducked out for more FOOD!

Nothing beats roasted corn on the cob... unless it's breakfast bread.

A week or so after the Disney picnic, Emily's friend Heather was in L.A. for a visit. Emily and I took her down to wine country in Temecula. Who knew there was "wine country" south of LA? I sure didn't, but Emily did. We'd visited the wineries up in Santa Barbara, and I've been to Napa several times, so Temecula was going to be a new experience for us. Emily had found a "Hart" winery, and since that's my last name and soon to be hers, she felt like we needed to give the place a visit.

Welcome to the Hart family!

I'd like to say that the wine we tasted at the Hart Winery was great! But, that wasn't the case. It was just so-so. Nice sign though. And we got to keep our tasting glasses with the Hart name engraved on them.

Emily and Heather, what a coupla' posers.

All in all, the trip down to Temecula was good one. We visited some other wineries that were very good. And at least we weren't attacked by zombies that tried to eat our brains. Not that it ever happens, but if it had, it would have put a damper on the whole day.

I know Emily loved catching up with Heather and showing her around LA during her visit. And did I mention that Heather brought us a couple loaves of breakfast bread?


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Time to make room!

So much to do in such a short amount of time... Emily with her apartment over in the heart of Glendale, me with my house nearly in Burbank --- and I'm the one with air conditioning --- so we have to make room for us both to fit into my house. A 1920's home with very limited closet space (only 2) is tough, given how must stuff most people have these days. And (as Emily has told me) I'm a bit of a pack rat. But Emily is the queen of consolidation, I've never met anyone who can condense items into small spaces so well. So far the items she's brought over have fit nicely in with what will shortly become "our" house.

In addition to moving things around, there's lots of home repair stuff that needs tending to: the shower needs to be fixed, we have to replace the stove (lightning strike killed it, don't ask), the bedroom wall has water damage that needs to be repaired, and the bathroom needs new tile, paint and fixtures and so on. It's a work in progress. But, considering out nicely our Tiki room project turned out...

Seriously, who doesn't want their own Tiki Room? Mai Tai anyone?

...I'm sure we'll have our house whipped into shape in no time. But the indoor theme will be a little less "tropical".

Emily and I just returned from a trip back to the Midwest (where I grew up). We were in Rock Island Illinois for most of the trip. While there I was able to introduce Emily to a local favorite, Whitey's Ice Cream.

Only in the Midwest could there be a place called "Whitey's"!

Oh sweet, creamy, fatty, yummy, calories! I didn't want to share.

In addition to gorging ourselves on Midwest delights we searched for fun things to do. One stop was a place called Bishop Hill which is now a historical town that was once a Swedish commune. We were warned by nearly everyone in the Quad Cities that visiting BH would be a waste of time and "the most boring place imaginable"... but we found it quite the opposite. We were only there for about 90 minutes and had a great time.

One of Bishop Hill's preserved buildings,
with the original working clock in the tower.

Emily outside the colony store.

It was a really nice trip despite the naysayers. We could have spent most of the afternoon there, but what we did get to see we enjoyed.

But now the vacation's over and we're back to the rush-rush of LA, and plenty of packing and throwing out of things, and moving left to do. I could really go for a Whitey's Butterfinger malt right about now.