Christmas Eve with Dad

Sunday, 25 Dec 2005 | Family

Toni, Erin and I went to my dad's house for our traditional Christmas Eve together. Taffy got to go with us too and she had a wonderful time. She was so excited to be there with us.

My dad had Columbus Turkey (Erin's favorite) and Black Forest Ham, both sliced super thin, and fresh rolls for sandwiches. Erin and I cut up tomatoes and lettuce and set out Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese, jumbo Spanish olives stuffed with pimientos, tortilla chips and salsa and fresh fruit. Everything was delicious.

After dinner, we sat down to exchange our gifts. We normally open the gifts from my dad's family and our family on Christmas Eve and open the gifts from Toni's family on Christmas day. I absolutely love to watch others open gifts I selected for them. I think giving is more fun than receiving. I love to see the joy in the recipients' faces. Taffy got a toy squeaky duck and squirrel from my dad that she loved.

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I framed a 5x7 of Erin and a 11x14 of Waimea Bay in Hawaii for my dad. He really loved both of them very much. He loves Hawaii and Erin, so they were special to him. Everyone had a lovely time. I really enjoyed myself.

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Taffy's 80 Week Photo

Saturday, 24 Dec 2005 | Pets

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Taffy loves to cuddle.

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Merry Christmas 2005

Saturday, 24 Dec 2005 | Daily

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Wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my family and friends. May your holidays be filled with joy and good health.

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Taffy's 79 Week Photo

Saturday, 17 Dec 2005 | Pets

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Taffy poses in our bedroom.

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Disneyland with Alysia

Sunday, 11 Dec 2005 | Disneyland, Family

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On Saturday, Erin and I took my niece to Disneyland. We bought her a ticket to Disneyland for her birthday. It had been some time since her actual birthday, but this was the first weekend I had available to take her.

We arrived at Disneyland at 8:30 am. It was surprisingly crowded. We ate at Redd Rockett's Pizza Port at 11:00 am. Up until that point, we had not gone on a single ride or had anything to eat. We tried to get a Fastpass for Space Mountain, but it wasn't operating before we ate. Right after our early lunch, it was open again and I waited in a long line just to get a Fastpass. The newly revamped Space Mountain ride was very good. The lighting effects were much improved and the ride seemed smoother and faster. We saw them move the track over from the side after loading a group of handicapped guests. It's really neat how that works.

We rode on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters for the first time. I really enjoyed that ride. I had such a great time shooting the Zs. My shooting skill increased as the ride progressed. I'm sure I can earn a better score next time. It's also neat that you can view your picture and even email it to yourself or friends at the end of the attraction. That's very cool. Also, the audio animatronic Buzz Lightyear in the queue area is very well done. His movements are fluid and lifelike.

Although the park was super crowded, Alysia got in a lot of rides and had a wonderful time. We had dinner at Storytellers Cafe. Alysia had the kid's buffet and stuffed herself. After dinner, Erin and Alysia returned to Disneyland to catch the fireworks and race through a bunch of rides. I relaxed and took some pictures at the Grand Californian because I was tired by that time. We ended up leaving around 12:30 am.

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Candlelight Processional

Sunday, 4 Dec 2005 | Disneyland, Family

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On Saturday, Toni and I took my dad to the Candlelight Processional at Disneyland. The Candlelight Processional is a yearly event where an orchestra accompanies a huge choir which files in carrying candles and performs Christmas Carols and the Christmas story is read by a celebrity guest. This year we were delighted to see Dick Van Dyke as the guest reader. I have always loved and admired him on television and in movies. He seems like such a genuinely warm person. His voice was so nice for this event.

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There were two performances on Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 and 8:00 pm. We attended the 5:30 performance, waiting to get a good vantage point for about 3 hours ahead. There were lots of white chairs set up for guests who pre-purchased dinner packages. We had to stand to view, but it was worth it for the quality of the hour long show. The orchestra and choir are really something to see and hear. Part of the choir created a Christmas Tree at the Main Street U.S.A. train station.

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There was a handbell choir and a solo guitarist. The artists invited the crowd to join in singing Silent Night. It was so nice to hear all the voices around you singing the familiar tune. For the finale, they performed Handel's Hallelujah Chorus while everyone stood as is customarily done. We had a wonderful time. I recommend the Candlelight Processional highly to anyone who enjoys Christmas carols and the Christmas message of the Christ Child. It's truly an entertaining and moving experience.

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Le Vallauris

Friday, 2 Dec 2005 | Food, Friends, Restaurants

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On Tuesday, I had the good fortune to try Le Vallauris in Palm Springs. It's a French restaurant that has been around for 34 years and well celebrated in this area. It was Barbara and Martin's birthdays and this group of friends treated me to lunch since I take photographs for them throughout the year.

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Sourdough Rolls

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Veal Scallopini

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Seared Ahi Tuna with Sesame Crust

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Marinated Grilled Flank Steak

Le Vallauris has a very cozy atmosphere, with a smartly decorated bar, grand piano and indoor dining rooms. We ate in the outdoor patio area which is heated in the Winter and air-conditioned in the Summer. I was quite interested in trying their food. I chose the Veal Scallopini with wine reduction, mashed potatoes and spinach. It was excellent. Barbara and Zara also ordered and enjoyed the veal. Denise had the Seared Ahi Tuna with Sesame Crust. Judy had the Lobster Ravioli. Sue opted for the Salmon and Martin ordered the Marinated Grilled Flank Steak.

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Trio of Sherbets

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Chocolate Souffle

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Chocolate Volcano Cake

After our delicious meals, we ordered and sampled several desserts. My dessert was the Trio of Sherbets including Coconut, Mango and Blackberry varieties. We also ordered the Chocolate Volcano Cake and Chocolate Souffle with vanilla and chocolate sauces.

While I was there, I talked briefly with the owner's sister. I didn't catch her name, but she was quite friendly and charming. Our waiter was very nice as well, a tall man with a very French accent.

Le Vallauris
385 West Tahquitz Canyon Way
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 325-5059

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