Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Parc55 Wyndham Hotel at Union Square

After this post I will be officially caught up with blogging.
Dallas has been working insane hours lately.  He's up for promotion this summer and is having to "prove" himself with every move he makes.  I am constantly impressed with his work ethic and am so grateful that he has and will do everything in his power to provide for our family.  Obviously, with all of his work comes the down side...we hardly get to see each other.  Most days he leaves around 7am and doesn't get home until close to 10pm.  Needless to say, we end up missing each other a lot!

Last Friday he called from work saying that I needed to pack an overnight bag and drive into the city.  I love it when he tries to surprise me, I always end up finding out some way or another!  I picked him up from work and we drove over to Union Square downtown San Francisco.  He had gotten us reservations at the Parc 55 hotel.  It was absolutely beautiful!  We had a perfect evening being able to spend time with one another, dining at the hotel restaurant, ordering desert through room service, and sleeping in Saturday morning.  It was exactly what we needed!

Thanks again, sweetheart, for an incredible weekend.  I love you so very much!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Club 33

I was first told about the secretive Club 33 in the summer of '07.  My friend pointed out the obscure door located in the New Orleans district in Disneyland while telling stories of it's exclusivity and a wait list of 14 years to be a member.  So you can imagine my utter surprise when Dallas surprised me with not one, but TWO reservations, one for lunch the first day we were there, and another for dinner the second day.  We showed up for our reservation, used the buzzer on the side of the wall, and were welcomed inside.  I guess the best way to describe it would be that it felt like we had taken a step into "Alice's rabbit hole and into a gourmet wonderland."  (As quoted from Dallas)  We took a vintage elevator up to the second level where we ate at the exclusive five star restaurant hidden above the crowds.

Here is some information I found on the website www.disneylandclub33.com
Club 33, Royal Street, New Orleans Square, Disneyland 
The colorful realism and the precise architectural detail of New Orleans Square in Disneyland captures the atmosphere of the nineteenth- century New Orleans French Quarter. Glancing upwards to the second story balconies and the ornate iron railings hung with flowers, one would hardly guess that they surround the little-known but quite elegant Club 33.
 Years ago, Walt Disney felt that a special place was needed where he could entertain visiting dignitaries and others in a quiet, serene atmosphere where superb cuisine and distinctive decor would complement one another. He asked artist Dorothea Redmond to provide watercolor renderings of what such a place might look like. Accompanied by renowned decorator Emil Kuri, Walt and his wife traveled to New Orleans to select many of the beautiful antiques that are on display. After years of planning, Club 33 became a reality in May of 1967. Sadly enough, it was never seen by it’s creator, because of his untimely death five months earlier.
Club 33, so named after its address, 33 Royal Street, is comprised of two dining rooms and several adjoining areas, all of which hold a wide array of magnificent antiques and original works of art. After ascending in the French lift to the second floor, guests enter into The Gallery. Here they find interesting items such as an oak telephone booth with beveled leaded glass panels adapted from the one used in the Disney motion picture "The Happiest Millionaire" and a rare console table, which was found in the French Quarter of New Orleans. 
 The Main Dining Room is decorated in First Empire, recalling the era of Napoleon and the early nineteenth century. Three glimmering chandeliers and wall sconces illuminate the entire room. Much of the framed artwork on the walls is again, the work of Disney artists. Fresh flowers, parquet floors, and antique bronzes create an atmosphere of serenity and warmth.

Basically, it was a pretty amazing experience.  Reservations are not open to the public; a member must make the reservation for you.  Luckily someone at Dallas' work hooked us up.  I think Dallas was a little shocked at how excited I was when I realized where he was taking me; he had never heard of club 33 :)
All I could say is that he had done very well...very well indeed!


Any who know me, know that I'm a child at heart.  Maybe that is why I love my profession; working with elementary students.  And one of my absolute favorite places on earth is Disneyland.  Oddly enough I do not remember going as a child...too young to remember, but frequently took trips there in my college years.  Several of my close friends throughout the years, have loved the opportunity to forget our worries and return to our youth...yes, we all probably have "Peter Pan" complexes!  Some of my most cherished memories have been made behind the glittering walls and lights of this make believe wonderland.  

For this reason, I have wanted to take Dallas here for the past few years.  He, on the other hand, does not share my obsession.  He does not dislike Disneyland, but simply does not have strong feelings either way.  So you can see why when we decided to take a trip with our friends, two days were the most I could squeeze out of him.  

We ended up having a blast and loved the nonexistent crowds.  It was incredible to walk up to the entrance of every ride and walk right on...literally NO LINES the entire two days!  Dallas was an amazing sweetheart and indulged me with warm churros, a romantic trip to Snow White's wishing well in the dark, princess searching, ride after ride, photo stops every other minute, and staying the entire opening to close park hours.

It was so much fun to go with Tammy and Glenn and their little girl, Stella.  Oddly enough, I had never been to Disneyland with a child, so it added the magic of seeing Stella's face light up continually.  She is currently obsessed with The Nightmare Before Christmas and we were able to find the main characters Jack and Sally for her to take pictures with.  This time of the year is also great, because during the holidays they redecorate the entire Haunted Mansion ride with the Nightmare Before Christmas theme.  We were extremely exhausted after two days of hopping back and forth from Disneyland and California Adventures, but we loved every minute of it!  Well...I'm not going to share my horrifying first experience on the "Tower of Terror" ride...you'll have to ask Dallas about that one!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Santa Monica

Dallas and I have been extremely blessed lately.  At the end of October I was offered a position at the school I used to teach at when we first moved to the bay area.  I have been so excited to teach again and to know the other teachers and staff already has been a major blessing.  

Over the summer Dallas and I planned a vacation with our good friends and neighbors, the Aydelottes, to Disneyland.  We figured that the first week of November would be the perfect time to visit since it would be between holidays and not very many people.  Since it had been planned so far in advance the school district was more than accommodating in allowing me to still go.  Dallas and I left Monday morning and drove down to Anaheim where our hotel was literally a couple blocks from the Disneyland entrance gates. We shared a condo/suite with our friends from Monday to Friday, but there was no way I was going to be able to convince Dallas to go to Disneyland for more than a couple days.  So we decided to spend a day in Anaheim so we could meet up with one of my best friends from college, Maren.

We parked at Santa Monica Pier and were pleasantly surprised by the lack of people around.  I guess we are not much for crowds anymore.  It was so nice just to relax and enjoy the pier.  Dallas has been working insane hours lately and we haven't been able to spend much time together, so this trip was exactly what we needed.  We had fun watching the numerous "crazies" which reminded us of home and bought ancient churros from a street vendor.  Needless to say we threw them away after one bite.  We also rode the ferris wheel and got some great shots from the top.  It was such a perfect, beautiful day.  As we were leaving the ferris wheel we noticed camera crews setting up and were able to watch a little of the filming of NCIS:Los Angeles with Chris O'Donnell and LLCoolJ.  Dallas was underwhelmed with the whole process, saying they were "B list" actors, but I felt like the paparazzi.  He dragged me away after a half hour to see the street performers further along the pier.  We watched a gorgeous sunset while listening to a hippy guitarist play classic Led Zepplin.  Basically it was a perfect way to end the afternoon.
(Make sure to click on the image to enlarge the pictures.)

After watching the sunset, we walked up to the promenade to meet up with Maren.  She took us to an incredible pizza place on the roof.  We had so much fun catching up, eating great food, and spending time with our Maren.  I'm so glad that she moved to LA and we are now at least a little closer.  We love ya, Maren!  Thanks for the fun night!

My "Sweet Az" New Zealand Family

In January 2003 I flew down to Auckland, New Zealand where I spent an incredible four months with some of the most loving and Christlike people I have ever met, the Puriri family.  My host parents, Heidi and Arama, welcomed us with open arms and immediately made us feel at home.  With two little boys of their own, Teancum and Kowea, they were saints for allowing six crazy college girls to live under their roof for an entire semester!  Some of my most cherished memories were made from this experience, including kidnapping Arama from work dressed up in all black for a surprise romantic outing with Heidi, countless family outings to the beach, dancing with live music at the top of Sky Tower, watching the boys practice the Haka, listening to the awesome New Zealand accent, just to name a few.  Leaving New Zealand was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, just ask my parents who came down to pick me up! 

I was lucky enough to make a return visit for a month in the summer of 2005 with two of my good friends.  The Puriris once again opened their arms to us crazy college girls.  We spent an incredible four weeks driving around the country, visiting all the different sites we had fallen in love with two years previous.  The above collage is from the airport saying goodbye in '05.  We loved getting to know their new addition, their little daughter Nauvoo.  I absolutely LOVE all their smiles and the big hugs goodbye.

Fast forward five years to the last weekend in October, when I got the great news that the Puriris would be traveling to the states for a month long adventure through CA, UT, IL, OH, NY, and FL!  I was so excited to be able to see them after so much time!  I hopped in my car and drove right down to LA where they were flying in and out.  It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but it was so much fun to see them all again and to meet their youngest three sons.  My roommate Amy and I met up for dinner at their hotel  and we were absolutely shocked by how old Teancum and Kowea are now.  They are all still as cute as ever!  Seeing them again reminded me how lucky I was to be able to have such an incredible study abroad experience.  They truly are family and will forever hold a very special place in my heart!

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed