Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A great day for a great guy

For Rich’s birthday I wanted to plan a very special day for him that included many of his favorite things. After consulting with him, I planned what I hope "made all your wildest dreams come true." (Pedro, Napoleon Dynamite)

First thing in the morning, we awoke to the kitchen majorly decked out in decorations, courtesy of Emma. There were colorful construction paper chains, balloons and signs and it looked awesome! Rich and I quickly downed a little granola and then took off for the first thing on his agenda -an early morning hike.

Festive decorations

We like to park near the 210 freeway exit at La Tuna Canyon, and hike the mountain trail there. It is about an hour to hike to the top and your reward is beautiful, unobstructed views of Glendale and Pasadena on one side and Burbank on the other. In addition to the wonderful views, it is a very nice trail, with a lot of beautiful landscape to enjoy as you hike. It takes about an additional 1 ½ hours to descend the trail. That’s harder than the climb up in some ways, as you use muscles you don’t regularly use, and it’s a little hard on your back to continually go downhill. After about 2 ½ hours to complete the hike, my body was pretty tired, but I did feel exhilarated. Hiking with Rich really means a lot to him, as it is one of his favorite activities. He let me know that it was a great gift to him. Good start to the day!

Self portrait on the trail

Rich with some of the beautiful wildflowers

Panoramic view of Burbank

We returned home, showered, grabbed the kids and headed out to one of Rich’s all time favorite restaurants, Barney’s LTD in Old Towne Pasadena. Barney’s is actually a pub but if you go during the daytime you don’t get that bar-like atmosphere or bar-type clientelle. They have a huge menu but as far as I’m concerned there are two choices: the fish and chips or the clubhouse sandwich. Rich and I have both been going to Barney’s for over 25 years (long before Old Towne Pasadena was the chic shopping spot that now is) and those are the only two items we have ever ordered. Rich always goes for the Fish and Chips, while I struggled to decide but finally went with the Clubhouse. It’s good to split the Clubhouse with someone (though I had no takers this time as everyone ordered the fish and chips) because it’s huge! It is a triple-decker with ham, turkey, and bacon served on thick grilled Texas toast. I know it sounds kind of boring, but the ham and turkey are really high quality and the combination of them with the crispy bacon and shredded lettuce, mayo, and crispy/greasy toast is a total winner. They also have amazing potato salad and fries at Barney’s too.

Happy (and full) birthday boy with the kids at Barney's

Well, after putting back all those calories we burned off hiking (oh well, it was worth it), we headed over to Burbank to catch Prince Caspian. It was a pretty amazing movie, though I thought it had a certain element of cheesy-ness (if that is a word). We all enjoyed it.

So, now that Rich had been treated to a hike, lunch, and a movie, it was now time for la piece de resistance – his mother’s spaghetti sauce. Fortunately, I possess this secret family recipe, so I whipped up a big batch a couple days ahead of time, along with what Rich requested for his birthday dessert – Red Velvet Cupcakes. I don’t know why, but for some time Rich has been asking me to make a Red Velvet cake. So I found this recipe online, and it was pretty good. I think I would prefer a buttercream frosting to this one which contained cream cheese, but Rich loved it. The recipe called for an ENTIRE bottle of red food coloring (the big glass one!). Ewww, that just can’t be good for you (but then again, the goal of your birthday dessert isn’t to be good for you anyhow).

"love in a bowl"

Red Velvet cupcake

What a great day, and a great guy we were celebrating!
Next birthday coming up....Emma!

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