Our Weekend Getaway to Northern California

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Last week I posted about my time at the Walt Disney Family Museum, which was the whole point of this trip, but while we were going up there with our friends Lauren and Kellen, we made the most of it with stops for dinner with friends, touristing around the city, and getting to attend our friend’s newly launched church!

First stop: Bakersfield! Our friend Kathleen moved there 2 years ago and this was my first visit to her new hometown! It was definitely an overdue visit. Aren’t these 2 too cute!

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Plus I got to see the Little Free Library in person that I had posted about a few months ago (thanks to Kathleen’s blog for the tip)!

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And of course when we had dinner at Eureka Burger, I just had to get the burger with the fried egg. Because it’s the best. Oh and hot sauce, and bacon. There was no question there.

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Okay and just one more food photo… ice cream at Dewar’s… that’s marshmallow fluff as a topping. Don’t worry, I thought it sounded weird too. But it was amazing!

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I lied, I have another food photo! But seriously, this is the best pizza in America. I’m not the only one who thinks that either… the important people of the world agree with me. Just down the hill from Coit Tower is Tony’s Pizza. So so good. Crazy busy, but piping hot and freshly made. Delicious.

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Then Kellen and Lauren dropped us off at the museum… see last week’s post for more on that.

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And just like 5 minutes away from the Walt Disney Family Museum, is the Palace of the Fine Arts. Which is by far my favorite place in San Francisco. I posted a little reminiscing post on this city that I love so much a few years ago with a great animation of us girls having way too much fun here.

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But this was my first time here with Andy! yay!

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And our last stop in the city was dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf’s Boudin Bakery and Cafe for clam chowder bread bowls. And Andy’s chili bowl, oh that poor anti-seafood boy of mine.

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Since we were going to be going to our friend’s new church in Walnut Creek, as I was looking for hotels in between there and San Francisco… my eyes lit up with joy at seeing Emeryville on the map! The home of Pixar!! I conveniently booked the hotel just around the corner from the studio. You’re welcome friends.

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You can’t see much there, it’s very gated and private but I could catch glimpses of the giant Luxo light and ball and also the fun little “mine mine mine” seagull perched on one of the corner buildings. Thanks again Lauren for slamming on the brakes to let me snap photos each time I exclaimed at each of these finds.

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After lunch at yummy Ike’s in Walnut Creek, we headed up to the Jelly Belly Factory for some sugary sweets and a tour of the factory.

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And then it was time for church! After the nonstop action from those past couple days, sitting in church with our friends was just wonderful, spending the evening singing worship songs and praying for their new church. And of course it was so awesome just to see them in their new home!

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And then we drove home. The end!

The Walt Disney Family Museum and the World of Mary Blair Exhibit Trip Report

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This past weekend I got to experience the Walt Disney Family Museum—finally!

We made a trip up to San Francisco, just to make it in time to experience the Mary Blair exhibit at the museum. With only 2 hours in total to spend there, we started with Mary Blair as the thought was, the Walt Disney Family Museum will always be there and we can always come back.

So that’s how I ended up spending a whole hour in Mary Blair world and had to rush through the Walt Disney Family Museum at lightning speed. Yes, rush, as there are 11 galleries to experience and each one is pretty big and unique! I really didn’t get to read much but just get the overall impression of each gallery and move on… but I still walked away feeling inspired by both Walt and Mary and charged up to get to work and to follow my own dreams that I am so passionate about.

Between the two, my big take away was a continued encouragement to tackle your passion, your work, your dreams with your whole heart and give it all you got. Whether your passion is design and art or not, both Mary Blair and Walt Disney did not do anything halfway. Everything they did and everything they touched, was done 100%. If they ran into a problem, they researched, they dug deeper, they clung to it harder. They tried again and again and got it done. Beautifully and epically done.

Sidenote—Before I go on, you may even be wondering who Mary Blair even is…. she was a conceptual artist for Disney. So she created a lot of the ideas and overall feelings for the animators to base their final drawings on for movies like Peter Pan (my fave!), Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella. She then left Disney for a time, but then came back to work on the attraction its a small world for the World’s Fair. That ride then came back to make its home at Disneyland—and is one of the few rides that are actually in every single Disney park.—end very long sidenote.

Recognize this scene from its a small world from Mary Blair's sketchbook—her rough sketches are as bad as mine!

Recognize this scene from its a small world from Mary Blair’s sketchbook—her rough sketches are as bad as mine!

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From Mary Blair, I loved seeing how her style so drastically changed from her trip to South America. There, she learned about color and reinvented the way she drew children. This getaway with her husband and the Disney crew—including Walt Disney himself—opened her eyes to the way color is used and gave her an entirely new perspective on her work. Her work drastically changed from that trip. So from that I take 2 things:

1. Take a vacation when you can. Even if its a working trip. Get out of your box and experience life.

2. It’s okay to totally reinvent yourself no matter your age. It’s okay to gain new interests, new perspectives, and a new style. (Sometimes I feel so behind in starting this Etsy shop of mine, it’s totally different than anything I’ve ever done and I’m getting “older”)

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Similarly, I had encouraging take-aways from Walt Disney as well but on a much grander and different scale.

I love how Walt would come up with some crazy new idea, and without having a means to get the idea done, he would then create the tool to get it done. One example of that would be the multi plane camera that enables their animations to have that layered quality… from the foreground to the background. Okay, I’m getting rather technical now… so back to the feelings part…. Walt had a vision, he had a dream… he actually had a lot of visions and a lot of dreams… so he made these teams of like-minded people and together they accomplished world changing creative endeavors. I think its amazing to see where he started… he taught himself how to draw, how to animate… and from that planted seed he grew a company and a brand that was then able to grow to such a giant scale of an amusement park. That road from A to B…. was marked with so many failures but then so many wins…. so many struggles and problems but then so many victories and solutions.

A bench from the park where Disney was first inspired to create his own amusement park: Disneyland.

A bench from the park where Disney was first inspired to create his own amusement park: Disneyland.

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Of course, while I love the animation and film side of Disney, my heart truly is captured by Disneyland. The museum kinda lacked in this area. However, it did have a “massive” minitature model of Disneyland. Not Disneyland of any certain year, but the Disneyland that Walt knew and loved. It showed all the rides that he had a hand in, whether or not they had opened before his death (like Haunted Mansion). To view this model, from above, was remarkable. To see the imagination it took to create this larger than life amusement park that was done in the quality it was down to the smallest detail. He left no stone unturned, seriously, even the ground slowly changes theme as you walk from land to land. Walt knew quality, and expected nothing less.

The earliest known drawing of Mickey Mouse.

The earliest known drawing of Mickey Mouse.

So to sum up… from Walt Disney I continued to learn:

1. You have to start somewhere, no matter how small. He started with a sketch of a mouse. “If you can dream it, you can do it” “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

2. Once you get started, don’t let anything get in your way. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”

3. When you’re going after your dreams, go all the way—giving it your all. “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”

sam and walt disney family museumThank you Walt, for being such an inspiration to me… ever since I was a little girl, but more so since I grew up to be a big kid. A kid that wants to explore her creative boundaries and push the limits. To be inspired and to inspire. To have dreams and follow them through. A kid that wants to spark that light in others while continuing to burn my own creative juices. And to do everything I put my mind to with every ounce of strength I have.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

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A Year Spent at the Happiest Place on Earth / 2013-2014

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Today my Disneyland pass expires. After having an annual pass to the Happiest Place on Earth since Christmas of 2004, I am so heartbroken to not just be able to head down there whenever I want. Looking back over the years, I feel so blessed and am so thankful for all the little moments and celebrating all the major milestones. It’s the place I fell in love, it’s where friendships were strenghtened, its the place where my little nieces and nephews saw a whole new world with a sparkle in their eyes. And oh my gosh, I miss it already.

On the other hand, Disneyland to me has always been a creative and artistic masterpiece. Every single nook and cranny has been thoughtfully executed down to the smallest detail. It has been crafted with love and a passion for the ideals of one man, Walt Disney. Walking down Main Street, I am just filled with so much creative juice that my heart just feels full and my mind is racing with ideas.

And while I am taking a break from having a pass for awhile… I will forever cherish all these days and nights spent in the most beautiful amusement park ever created. Okay, I think Paris and Tokyo Disneyland are the prettiest, but I haven’t been to those—yet.

So here’s to yet another great year spent at the Happiest Place on Earth—and my last for a little while! To the memories and photographs, to the friends and laughter.

See my 2010 year at Disneyland, 2011,  and 2012.

May 7

The day I got my pass was just to be able to get in for the day to take Rachel’s maternity photos… it was great to be back after not having a pass for 2 months. And of course, great to be there for sun kissed moments such as this…

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September 22

Saying goodbye to the Courtyard of Angels as they closed it down the following week to make it the new entrance to Club 33. It’s my favorite spot in the park, see my post on it here.

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November 11

My first trip with my newest Disneyland ride buddy!! I was pretty excited, can you tell?

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November 15

First time seeing Amie as Mrs. Pankratz since the wedding! So much catching up to do while exploring Disneyland at its Christmas finest!

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December 8

Before going on Splash Mountain with the newlyweds… and before Amie was very upset with us for making her sit in the front row and get totally drenched.

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January 12

Celebrating our annual trip for Rachel’s birthday.

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January 17

Because I just couldn’t pick which Ryan boy to post! And because they are both just so darn cute!!

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February 9

One last trip before the husband’s pass expired.

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April 9

Molly’s first trip to Disneyland! And her buddy Grayson and my buddy Jess looking at ducks… again, couldn’t decide which kiddo to show! More photos from this trip here.

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April 11

Mia took her first spin around the teacups during what we thought would be our last trip together! Another couple photos from this trip here!

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April 30

Another “last trip before the pass expires…” I just love watching the kiddos experience the joys we take for advantage. Like the fun of a carousel.

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May 4

Since I started my pass and this post off with 8 month pregnant Rachel, I thought it was only appropriate to end with 11 month old Mia in her mama’s arms.

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Wow… what a year it was! I can’t promise you that I didn’t cry a few times going through photos to create this post. I love these friends of mine who are more like family. And this park that sometimes feels more like home.

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