Spiderman Inspired Birthday Cake

Kim was planning an Avengers themed birthday party for her son Nathan’s first birthday and asked if I could do a birthday cake as well as a smash cake, and I was happy to oblige!

I baked up 2 8″ round cakes for the birthday cake, and 2 4″ round cakes for the smash cake, and sliced each one in half to get 4 layers for each cake.

Before placing buttercream on each layer, I brushed some homemade chocolate syrup to keep some moistness in the cake.

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Then a layer of coconut flavored buttercream.

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Crumb coat.

While I let the crumb coat set set, I worked on the smash cake, working in the same fashion.

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Kim asked for a ruffle cake which she would elevate on a stand during the party.  Working from the bottom to the top.

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And then working from the outside in for the top of the cake.

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I then worked on the birthday cake, prepping the table with corn starch before rolling out the fondant.

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My cake was 8″ wide, and 4″ tall, which meant that I had to roll my fondant out to 16″ to ensure that it’s large enough to cover the top and down both sides of the cake.

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Now, I didn’t have the hands to document this, but I rolled up the fondant on the roller and unrolled it onto the cake.  Working relatively quickly, I used the fondant smoother to smooth down the fondant at the top of the cake, and down over the edge of the cake before it dried out and risked tearing.

Working in a circular motion, I stretched and pulled the fondant and smoothed it down working around the cake, from top to bottom.  Use a pizza cutter to trim off some of the excess fondant to make it easier to smooth out.IMG_3532

I then went in and used a small knife to trim the fondant right along to the edge of the cake.

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I also sometimes find it helpful to elevate the cake on a smaller cake pan while smoothing the fondant to allow the excess fondant to hang off for trimming.

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For the eye I drew a template of it on paper before rolling out the dark modelling chocolate.

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I placed the template on the dark modelling chocolate and used a sharp knife to cut out the shape.  I repeated the same step for the inside using fondant for the white.

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I used a simple sugar syrup to glue the white fondant piece to the dark chocolate piece.

Then to let the eyes set at the proper curvature, took my 8″ round pan, taped some parchment to it, and attached the eyes using shortening on the pan to let them harden with a slight curve, so that they would curve with the cake when I attached it.
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While I let the eyes set, I started sketching the spiderweb design.  It’s not easy to tell from the pic but I used a dull butter knife to lightly draw on the fondant.  I then painted over the lines with black food coloring gel slightly diluted with water.  I also etched out where the eyes would loosely go.

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Then goes on the first eye.

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And the second.

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And the finished cake!

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Kim sent some pictures my way from the party and the party she put together looked awesome!  I love all the different superhero touches (especially those Hulk beverages!)

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And look at the wonderful stand and topper that was made for the smash cake!  She is definitely crafty!

And how great are these pictures of the birthday boy?

 

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“CAAAKE!”

It looked like Nathan had a good sugar rush of a time at his birthday party and I was touched that Kim considered me to help celebrate such an important birthday.  Happy 1st of many birthdays, Nathan!!

 

 

Greats Eats and Sweets in Seattle 2014

I had the chance to hit up Seattle when J went on a conference back in the fall.  Seattle’s known for some having some great food and I took full advantage of my week there.  We stayed at the Hyatt Olive 8 downtown so I was in great walking distance of some great food places.

Some of my memorable faves:

Taylor Shellfish Farms – A little place where you can get fresh seafood to go, but also has a small menu of fresh oysters, chowders, and other edibles.  A great place if you’re looking for a light lunch, or in our case, a pre-dinner snack!

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Clam chowder with geoduck and bacon.

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An assortment of various oysters.

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Geoduck sashimi – very good!

The Crab Pot – This place has basically been on my bucket list every since I heard about it from friends.  You can’t really turn down the opportunity to put on a bib and eat with a mallet and your hands as you crack open a table of delicious seafood in front of you, can you?  We went all out and got the Pacific clambake which pretty much had everything!

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Leave your fancy clothes at home, cuz it gets good and messy!

Pike Place Market – Being within walking distance was awesome because I got to check out all the fresh seafood, produce, handmade goods, and all the different food vendors.  I didn’t get a chance to hit up too many places but I did get a chance to go to Pike Place Chowder, and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.

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The biggest lobster tails I’ve ever seen!

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Pike Place Chowder – dungeness crab roll and clam chowder

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Beecher’s mac and cheese!

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Eating my mac and cheese while watching them make cheese curds.

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Dog Japon, a few blocks away from the market, tried by Andrew Zimmerman.

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Marination Station – I first found out of this place on the show Eat St, and I guess it got so popular that they opened up a bricks and mortar location, which we had a chance to go to for dinner.  The food was casual and the flavors were great mix of that Hawaiian-Korean fusion (but I love Korean food so I might be biased!)

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A very simple but tasty looking menu!

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spam sushi, miso ginger chicken taco, kalua pork slider, and kimchee fried rice with kalbi beef.

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Kimchee fried rice close up.

Matt’s in the Market – a delicious dinner, located right by Pike Place Market.  Don’t be too scared by the prices ’cause the entree portions are huge, we could barely finish our meal and I actually wasn’t able to finish my pork chop *sob*

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Charcuterie board

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Duck egg salad

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My (humungo) pork chop

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Justin’s half chicken.

The Walrus and the Carpenter – out of all the dining experiences, this might have been one of my favorites.  The food was great, and the vibe was cool.  We sat at the bar so it was fun watching the staff mixing up drinks and plating up dishes.  It was definitely a popular place.  They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait during prime time; we waited about 45 minutes for our spot on a weeknight.

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Assortment of fresh oysters

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Scallop carpaccio

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Fried oysters

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Steak tartare

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French onion soup

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery – my FAVORITE place the entire trip.  Totally being biased here, because I love lava cakes and I love dessert places (since we don’t have too many back home).  The Molten Chocolate Cakery pretty much combined all my favorite elements into one spot!  It was a 10 minute walk from the Walrus and the Carpenter so we headed there after dinner.

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J’s sampler of ice cream flavors and different sauces underneath

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My super amazing dark decadence molten lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream and toffee bits!

Japonessa - J’s birthday happened to be on one of the days while we were in Seattle so we decided to go for a nice meal to celebrate.  With us both being fans of Japanese food, we went to Japonessa for dinner, which I came across when yelping various places.  The food was so great and had some interesting dishes, including a green tea tiramisu!  I would recommend it to any Japanese food lover.

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Crab tower

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Octopus and seaweed salad

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Octopus tataki

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some pumpkin/squash dumplings

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Takoyaki

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Fresh sashimi

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One of the amazing different types of rolls they have

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Green tea tiramisu!

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4 different flavors of mochi filled ice cream: mango, chocolate, strawberry, green tea.

Sitka and Spruce – one of our last meals was at Sitka and Spruce, a very farm to table type restaurant that uses really rustic type ingredients.  Admittedly, some of the dishes look and sound quite odd on the menu (like having flowers thrown on my food), but the flavors were really great!10683596_10152471605401560_9033713962433157055_o

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house made celery soda – very refreshing!

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Sourdough bread with soft butter.

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Black trumpet mushrooms, rutabaga, mussels, and horseradish

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Shaved matsutake, scrambled eggs, mustard seed and greens

Macrina Bakery - having read an internet article recently on the “top 24 bakeries” to visit in the world, I knew I couldn’t pass up a chance to hit up Macrina Bakery, which made it on the list.  Famous for their caramel turtle brownie, I went for a morning walk to the bakery and picked up breakfast.  Delish!1509733_10152471603046560_6298405879571626554_n

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Apple turnover, a morning roll (like a sweet croissant), and their giant caramel turtle brownie.

And there you have it, happy eating!

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Who Tardis Birthday Cake

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I’m just gonna say now that as I write this post out, I’m doing it with a British accent in my mind.  Bloody ‘ell.

Justin always loved Dr. Who, but it seemed recently he went on a bit of a Dr. Who shopping spree, especially with our most recent trip to Seattle where he bought some Dr. Who magnets and shirts at the EMP museum (Which is awesome by the way).

With his birthday party fast approaching and not that much time to spare, I decided to run with the theme and make him a tardis cake.  Admittedly, I might’ve attempted making a 3D tardis cake, but I didn’t have the guts this time around so decided to make him a cake with a dimensional image of the Tardis out of modelling chocolate on a regular 8″ round layer cake.

I’d like to clarify right now that I know nothing of Dr. Who but the little tidbits that Justin shares with me.  The only thing that seems to catch my eye in the show are the little adipose guys that were in one episode apparently eons ago.  SO CUTE!

Moving on.

I started with a 4 layer vanilla cake, pretty much identical to the cake I used for my coworker’s baby shower.  The cakes were layered with chocolate buttercream and all around.  I wanted the tardis to have a spacey background but didn’t want to dump in all that black food coloring to whip up black icing, so I figured chocolate buttercream with a few drops of black to darken it a bit would give it the same vibe.

I purchased a bag of blue candy melts from Wilton to make my modelling chocolate.  To darken the blue candy melts (because they come in a lighter blue than the tardis is), I mixed in a couple drops of my Americolor blue food paste gel into the warmed corn syrup before I mixed the melted candy melts and corn syrup together to make my modeling chocolate.

After letting it rest and kneading it to a pliable consistency, I rolled the chocolate to a 1/16″ thickness.  I printed off a picture of the tardis off the internet that I thought would be a simple template for me to use for my cake.  Using my scalpel I cut around the image.

This would be the base layer where I would lay all the other elements upon.

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I printed off multiple copies of the tardis image so that I could cut out the various elements of the tardis and use them as templates to cut around where needed.  After doing the outline of the tardis, I cut out the doors from the paper image, rerolled my modeling chocolate, and used the paper doors as my template to get my doors for my chocolate tardis.

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After letting the doors firm up a bit, I rolled out a small ball of white gumpaste as thin as I could and cut out three little squares that could fit behind the doors to serve as the windows and the sign.  I used corn syrup to adhere them to the back of the doors.IMG_2784

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Then after that it’s just a matter of continuously cutting out various parts of the tardis and layering them on top of each other.  I proceeded to do the door knob and handle, the bottom step, as well as make the police sign at the top but cutting out the blue rectangle with the modelling chocolate.

To make the police sign, I cut out a rectangle of rolled gumpaste that I tinted black.  When it had dried sufficiently, I used my Americolor white food gel paste and a thin brush to paint in the words and the border.

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And a little knob at the top for the light, again using a bit of white food gel and a brush to make the “light”

When all the pieces were in place, I took a dry paintbrush, dabbed in the same blue food coloring I used for the modelling chocolate, and used it to shade the tardis to give it some more depth.  I feel that helped to bring it to life and give it more depth.

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And with the same modeling chocolate, I used the letter and number cutters I had to cut out his name and age.  Again, with the food coloring I had, I used it to shade and highlight the letters, like I did with the tardis.

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As for the spacey mist I had in the background, I used a clean dry brush, dipped the tips in white food coloring, and sprayed it onto the cake by running my thumb across the bristles.  I had some leftover icing sheets which I painted with yellow coloring and cut out a few stars.IMG_2796

The finished cake.Justin loved the Dr. Who themed and wore his Dr. Who shirt to go with the event.  There were little adiposes, daleks, and a Dr. Who Banner to complete the look and Justin totally loved the cake surprise!

 

 

 

 

Silhouette Halloween Cookies

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Yes… I know it’s December and I’m a bit behind to be posting Halloween cookies during the Christmas season.  Ops, oh well.  Perhaps these techniques can help you out with some Christmas silhouette cookies :)

As much as I enjoy using lots of color in my cookie decorating, I sometimes forget how simplistic, minimalist designs can give a really cool vibe too.  I was reminded of that when I made some silhouette cookies for my halloween potluck at work a few months ago.

Thanks to my kopykake projector and a few images from the internet, it made decorating a breeze and I was able to do all the silhouette images in one evening.  No need to wait for icing to dry in between or nothing.

Before decorating, I flooded the cookies with white royal icing the day before and let them dry overnight.

After mixing my black royal icing, I filled my piping bag and used a #2 wilton tip for pretty much all of the cookies.  With the haunted house I switched to a #1 wilton tip to make it easier to do the fence and window lines.

A handy tip I used was for the really fine work (like the hair on the cat, or the feathers of the crow, or the stringiness of the zombie hand, I would use a toothpick (or you can use a scribe tool) while the icing was still wet to drag and manipulate the icing.

 

Give these a try with any image or silhouette, it’s a fairly easy way to get some bold looking cookies for any occasion in a lot less time than decorating with different colors of icing!

 

 

 

 

Burger Cupcakes and French Fry cookies

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What started off as a joke ended up becoming a very, very beautiful reality when I told J that I wanted to spend my birthday eating a smorgasboard of my favorite fast foods.  So, with some friends in tow we did just that, hanging at the mall food court, dining on the finest things that they could offer us.

To stay true to the theme and as thank yous for friends willing to indulge me in my wacky idea, I decided to make each of them some “burgers and fries” takeout for them to take home, as inspired by Bakerella’s post.

I started with the sugar cookies which would become the fries.  I simply rolled the dough flat, then when in with a pizza cutter doing strips of different thicknesses and lengths.

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I sprinkled granulated sugar on the sticks before baking them.  Like Bakerella’s post, I spaced my cookies out prior to baking to make sure they didn’t bake into each other and stick.  They baked up great, with the different shades of golden brown mimicking what real fries would look like.

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The burgers took a few steps.  I made the cupcake buns first using a regular cupcake pan (not the mini cupcake pan) but I made sure not to fill it up all the way so that they wouldn’t bake up too high and give me tall buns (that sounds weird).  I also used cupcake lines to ensure they wouldn’t stick to the pan.

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Once baked and cooled, I peeled off the liners, sliced them cross wise, and sprinkled some sesame seeds on them.

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The patties were made out of a baked pan of brownies, using a circle cutter.  The brownie mix usually advises to bake in an 8×8″ pan so that you have the thickness in regular brownies, but for the purposes of making patties (and yielding more brownie), I baked the batter in a 9×13″ pan so they wouldn’t be so thick. IMG_2148

I whipped up some white chocolate buttercream icing which was tinted in red, yellow and green to represent mustard, ketchup and relish (or lettuce, whatever you imagine it to be)
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Then, to keep them looking like fast food takeout, I found templates for fries and burger boxes to put the treats in.  I had kraft paper cardstock and printed out the templates on the cardstock, scored, folded, and glued them all up.  K was kind enough to help me in making these boxes (thank youuuu)!

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And the packed up treats!IMG_2153

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And of course it wouldn’t be *real* take out if it didn’t come in a paper bag.  Some of them even ended up with some “grease spots” from the cookies which was an accidental (but quite a

fun) touch.  IMG_2162Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the “burgers and fries” and who would’ve thought such a great time could be had at a food court?  I wouldn’t be surprised if a part 2 happened in the future!

Great Eats and Sweets in Cali, 2014!

Justin and I got to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary, while our dear friends Kathy and Alex celebrated their 1st wedding anniversary, at the happiest place on earth – Disneyland!

I will be the first to admit that I always go through through major Disney withdrawal whenever I have to leave Disneyland (cut to me sprawled on my hotel bed wearing my Mickey ears as I pathetically play “Part of Your World” on my iPhone on our last night.)

Anyways.  The goods, and some of the highlights from our trip.

We kicked off our trip by catching a baseball game since Justin is a huge sports fan.  The rest of us came along more so to eat, and because Justin paid for our tickets to lure us in going.

We took a picture of the Concession chart as a handy reference through our food choices throughout the game.  Definitely not your typical hotdogs and nachos here.

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We ended up getting some waffle fries and grilled cheese sandwiches, both of which were super.

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Justin of course needed his beer.

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And we settled in for the game.  We also had a mid game churro break at some point.IMG_1604

The following day kicked off our 1st out of 3 days in Disneyland.  California Adventures was our first stop, and of course, the first ride we ran for was the Radiator Springs Racers as soon as the park opened.  It was apparent that everyone else at the park had the same idea, but we were lucky enough to get on without much of a wait.

It’s a great ride, but be prepared to wait if you aren’t prepared to get there early before the crowds hit.IMG_1417

The Cali heat gave us a great excuse to cool off in many ways, like this salted caramel hot fudge sundae we got at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop.

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La Brea Bakery Cafe is also another great find.  Alex gave their clam chowder a try and we were impressed by the in-house made sourdough bread bowls that it came in.  We were so impressed that we actually came back on our third day for lunch here.

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And how can you forget all the disney treats?  I love the amount of effort that goes into all the Disneyfied treats, including these huge sugar cookies.  They can be found EVERYWHERE.

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We stumbled upon the Pixar Parade so we took a break to check it out.  It’s so fun to see how detailed these floats are, and it was themed out to all the Pixar movies, including Toy Story, Cars, Monsters Inc, the Incredibles, and Bugs Life.IMG_1488

I also indulged myself in a giant chocolate chip Mickey cookie.

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We also caught the “World of Color” show that same evening.  If you’ve never seen it, you totally have to.  It’s a half hour water show where they use water and special effects, much of which where the water is used as a canvas and images are projected onto it.  It was so great.

You can actually get fastpasses to this show, which grants you access to a closer viewing area (and this fastpass doesn’t interfere with your other ride fastpasses)

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We spent day 2 in the Magic Kingdom Park.  Justin was stoked to hit up the Star Tours ride which he missed the first time he went to Disneyland, and we also checked out Buzz Lightyear’s shooting game as well.

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Inside the line up for Buzz Lightyear.

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Display of Ironman’s various suits in Tomorrowland.

We also got ourselves a serving of Dole pineapple whip soft serve at the Enchanted Tiki Juice Bar by the Enchanted Tiki Room.  The line ups for this place are LONG so get it earlier in the day if you can.  IMG_1584

We stopped for lunch at Cafe Orleans.  The food there was pretty good, though if I were to go again I’d probably get Justin’s Monte Cristo sandwich.  It was like a sandwich using fried doughnuts as bread.  Hohhh

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Alex’s chicken gumbo.

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Kathy and I shared the seafood crepe and the salmon with vegetable ragout.

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Justin’s monte cristo sandwich

We also made a pit stop for some refreshing mint julep at the Mint Julep Bar, also picking up some fresh hot Mickey shaped beignets.

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To escape from the mid-day heat, we retreated to the “It’s a small world” ride.

Or what I also called “iI’s a long ride, after all…”

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Because we had to catch Fantasmic, we had a quick dinner at The Palace, which is a cafeteria style restaurant offering a bunch of different food options.  I went for the roast beef which came with mashed potatoes and green beans.  It also came with a biscuit but I asked for apple slices instead which they happily obliged.

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Day 3 was split between both California Adventures and the Magic Kingdom to catch up on anything we missed the first two days, and re-doing some favorites (like California Screamin’)

I was dying for my photo op with Russell from “Up,” one of my favorite Pixar films.  In order to do that, we had to join his Wilderness Explorer team.  We were probably the most mature bunch in the audience.  By like…25 years.

I was also the first in line for my photo.  I didn’t push any kids.  Promise.

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So like, he’s a bit bigger in real life.

And check out my huge badass cookie #2, and Kathy’s passion fruit macaron that we got at the Jolly Holiday Bakery on Main Street.

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And we gave our feet a rest by watching “Mickey and the Magical Map”

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We checked out downtown Disney for a bit, and their Lego Store which had some impressive Lego sculptures.

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Santa Monica beach

We spent our last two days hitting the outlets and hitting the beach, as well as hitting up some more great food.

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We had dinner at Musha Restaurant just off of the 3rd St Promenade, where we enjoyed a great izakaya meal.  We order a whole bunch of things, but here’s a sample of some of the dishes.10612649_10152361263421560_4828125804720619241_n

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And on our very last night we had a great dinner at Gen Korean BBQ house, VERY reasonably priced at $20 per person!  The array of unlimited side dishes was great, and the list of different types of meats and items you could order (both raw and cooked) was really impressive!  Epic.

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And on the morning of our flight before heading home, we had our last meal in California at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.  Alex is a huge fried chicken fan so I knew that he had to give this place a try, and he really liked it.  Fried chicken and waffles, what’s not to love?

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10698637_10152361273046560_3057307916584935070_nI’m still trying to work off all this food.

So worth it.