Good friends, yummy food...

Our meeting of Paul and Judy is almost as bizarre as David and Karen (Uniquely acquainted friends- Feb. 13th).  Judy is our friend, Mark's, sister and we met her and her husband, Paul, in the bus on the way to embark on our China trip in 2008.

Since then we have spent time with them in Palm Springs with Carol and Mark, stayed with them at their home in Lititz, PA (May 5, 2010) and shared Spoleto, Italy with them when we lived there (including a cruise).

Tonight we all reunited in Temecula for a delicious pasta meal, reminiscing and just enjoying the weirdness of how we all are connected.  Dessert was a simple but fun treat served to me by my girlfriend, Leslie's, mom.  Buon appetito!

The apple thing is pretty simple. The main ingredients are just an apple, a tube of Crescent dough and maple syrup. I generally use my favorite Jonagold apples, or Gala when the Jonagold isn't available, but I'm sure I would use any other apple that came to hand.

Peel, core, and cut the apple into 8 sections. Unroll the total crescent roll dough, place a chunk of apple on each triangle of the dough. Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar on each apple chunk. Cut along the perforated sections and roll the crescent piece around the apple and put on a greased or parchment lined pan. Pour maple syrup over it and bake at 350° for about 25-30 minutes  or until dough is done. 

As you can see, this is such a loose "recipe", that there's plenty of room for improvement and variations. (I added pecans and topped it with Vanilla Bean ice cream).

I'm sure yours will be a great success. Considering that once I inadvertently used garlic flavored crescent rolls instead of the plain ones, and all of them were eaten.  I'm sure yours can't possibly top that low point in culinary endeavors......although the garlic apple roll-ups do make a nice contribution to family lore :-)


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My Oscar Monday...

Since Steve and I live in a trailer, we are without the ability to watch the Academy Awards live but today I hung out with my girlfriend, Lynne, who taped the most important wins for our very fun Oscar Monday.  While I hadn't seen a majority of the nominated films, I was happy to see Meryl Streep win (one of my favorites).  I thought the conclusion of her speech was wonderful, " — I really want to thank all my colleagues, all my friends. I look out here and I see my life before my eyes, my old friends, my new friends and really this is such a great honor but the thing that counts the most with me is the friendships and the love and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together. My friends, thank you, all of you, departed and here for this inexplicably wonderful career. Thank you so much. Thank you."
I know the photo above is not new, but I just had to include myself with Billy Crystal, the host of this year's Oscars, just because I still think it is so cool I met him last year!
After watching, I have a very full Redbox® 'wish list'.

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The Huntington Library...50 days of celebrating 50!

In an effort to make my half century more memorable, I've decided to extend my normal birthday month into 50 days of celebrating 50!  While I realize not every day will be worthy of a blog post, there are some amazing plans coming up that will last beyond my actual birthday (March 28th) into mid-April.

Brady inaugurated the festivities by a surprise trip to The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

A private, nonprofit institution, The Huntington was founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington, an exceptional businessman who built a financial empire that included railroad companies, utilities, and real estate holdings in Southern California.

Huntington was also a man of vision – with a special interest in books, art, and gardens. During his lifetime, he amassed the core of one of the finest research libraries in the world, established a splendid art collection, and created an array of botanical gardens with plants from a geographic range spanning the globe.

We spent hours strolling the picturesque grounds with mirthful expressions upon our faces.  There is no way to fully capture how mesmerizing The Huntington is.  We took almost 200 photographs with each being equally spectacular.

Brady had reserved a coveted spot for us in the Rose Garden Tea Room, so after wandering aimlessly for hours, we rested, people watched and dined until content.  When fully regrouped, we returned to our garden meandering.

I hope the images here give you a glimpse into the magicalness of our day.

Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures,
and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.
-St. Thomas Aquinas

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Wild Animal Park then Wine Tasting...

It could not have been a more perfect day for an explore of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Wild Animal Park).  Our friends, David and Karen, are members and took us for a day of great adventure.

We spent hours cooing over all the new babies.  We could have spent days in Elephant Valley studying how these gentle giants lived and played.  The momma gorilla made me laugh and we delighted in the poise and superiority the lion exhibited.

We loved meandering through various flora and observing very active animals in their environments.

Afterward, we decided to relax overlooking the scenic hillside vineyards of Orfila Winery.  We snacked, sipped wines and conversed.  It was one of those days where everything came together and made it unforgettable.

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Preparing for the inevitable move...

When we were preparing for our year in Italy, we packed up our keepsakes and a handful of furnishings we would want someday, and either gave away or donated the majority of our belongings, scaling down to a 10' X 20' storage unit.

Well someday is getting close as we prepare to relocate to Lake Tahoe.  Today, in 80°+ weather, we unloaded everything, set aside all our needed items, and then reloaded everything back into the unit with useful organization.

We are now eagerly awaiting the last steps in our cabin purchase.  I will blog photos when it is 100% final.  In the meantime, fingers and toes are crossed.

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Presidents' Day Picnic...
After we left Brenton and Christy's, we headed back to San Luis Obispo, grabbed Monica and had a picnic.  It wasn't our intention, necessarily, but Gus's Grocery was so packed, we had to take our sandwiches and find the perfect lunch spot.  I think we found it!
To get to/from Rohnert Park, we had to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.  There is obvious work going on here, so much so we couldn't stop.  May 27, 2012 marks 75 years for this amazing Bridge and a wonderful opportunity to recognize the history, beauty, and ingenuity of this famous span.
Our weekend was a wonderful way to just be together, doing the simple things.

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Novato- a new town to explore...

After a sumptuous breakfast of Dutch Babies prepared by Christy, we headed south to Novato, "the bay Area's smartest tourist destination. Why? Because it provides proximity to world-class hot spots while letting you get away from it all. We're just 20 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco, ten minutes from world-class wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties, and a hop, skip and a jump from some of California's premier State Parks and National Recreation Areas." 

We meandered through its downtown, dotted with h
istorical buildings, including the History Museum (1850), City Hall (a former Presbyterian church built in 1896) and Druid's Hall (1899).  We explored the unique antique stores and studied the interesting architecture, working up an appetite.

Lunch was at
Moylan's Brewing Co, opened in 1995, which brought Novato into the ranks of other world class brew towns like Portland and Seattle by claiming the rights to it's own Microbrewery.  We ate here a couple years ago and found the onion rings to be the best ever and longed to return.  We were not disappointed. 

A stroll through Rohnert Park, burgers barbecued deliciously, followed by movie and game night brought our super fun Sunday to an end!

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Santa Rosa for Russian River...

After having breakfast with Kegan and his girlfriend, Monica, in San Luis Obispo, we said goodbye to Monica and then headed north to Rohnert Park to spend the weekend with Brenton and Christy. 

First thing we had to do was drive eight scenic miles to Santa Rosa for dinner and beers at Russian River Brewing Co (an interesting side note about the owner: 
Vinnie grew up in a winemaking family in Temecula, California, where his parents owned Cilurzo Family Vineyards).  This is Brenton and Christy's favorite spot and we enjoyed reconnecting in such a vibrant environment.  It was a fun night.

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer.
Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention,
but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
– Dave Barry

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Our Desert Escape...

After a torrential rain storm yesterday, we awoke to the bluest skies making it an exceptional day to drive to Palm Desert.  My brother, Chuck, and sister-in-law, Hazel, spend a winter week basking in the warm desert sunshine.  A truly perfect verb for their holiday here:

baskingpresent participle of bask

  1. Lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation and pleasure: "sprawled figures basking in the afternoon sun".
  2. Revel in and make the most of (something pleasing).
Whenever possible, we join them for lunch while they are so close (1.5 hour drive).

As you can see in the photos, today was a fantastic day to dine along the golf course and meander down paths lined with amazing desert flora.  In addition to a delicious lunch and spectacular scenery, we enjoyed catching up with Chuck and Hazel.

Our drive home was through the breathtakingly beautiful, snow covered San Bernardino National Forest.

"I have always loved the desert.
One sits down on a desert sand dune,
sees nothing, hears nothing.
Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams..."
― Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

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