Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gingerbread House take #2

Sam and I already made one gingerbread house this season and of course used a box kit from the store. Naturally. I don't recall ever having made a gingerbread house from scratch (making one from graham crackers does NOT count) but my neighbor was appalled when she learned we had used a kit and immediately instituted "Gingerbread House From Scratch" night for the ladies in my apartment building :) I was in charge of bringing candy for decoration, so I went to the store and bought candy that I knew tasted good and I would like to eat....I probably should have taken a different approach and bought candy that would be practical for decorating with! Ha! It was all good though cause we stacked some gumdrops for trees, used the marshmallows for snow, and a couple other people brought candy as well.

The gingerbread itself was delicious but it took a little longer than we thought for it to properly cool and dry enough to be sturdy for the house, so the decorating part of the party didn't get underway until 10pm or so and by the houses were complete (what originally started as wanting to make a house from scratch for each of us turned into a total of 2 houses to collectively decorate!), one of the guys in my building must have felt sorry for us (or he wanted some candy!) and brought us all a pizza and pop to finish off the night. We even made the royal icing from scratch - egg whites and confectioners sugar. Now, according to the Food Network chefs, when you mix sugar and raw eggs together, some sort of chemical reaction takes place and the eggs become "pasteurized" (so to speak) and they are safe for, tell me, why then are we warned NOT to eat raw cookie dough with eggs in it due to salmonella?? Cookie dough has sugar in it. Maybe the other ingredients nullify the pasteurizing process??? I'm not convinced royal icing is safe to eat but apparently it is, and I've been munching on the house and no problems. So, do I go back to eating raw cookie dough? That is the predicament this made-from-scratch gingerbread house has left me with.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Tree Time Again!

The Capitol Building tree

Botanical Garden
National Christmas Tree

The White House

It's hard to believe it's Christmas once again in DC! This year, DC has gone "green" and used LED lights on the Christmas least I think that's why the lights are so florescent. They are definitely not just normal Christmas lights. The Capitol tree once again looks beautiful. It's from Wyoming this year. Cute ornaments made out of Wyoming license plates, CD's strung together, painted snowmen, paper ornaments, tin, and many more. If there wasn't a guard standing next to the tree, I would make my own ornament and go hang it on it!

And once again, the "National Christmas tree" near the White house is uglier than ever. *sigh*. I told people who were standing around that tree to go look at the Capitol tree cause it was prettier....I even told them where to park so they would get a close spot :-) The national tree is permanently in that location but I was hoping that sometime between last year and this year, a park ranger or whoever would have shaped it up a little and cut off those protruding bottom branches that make the tree look like an igloo. Also the lights just look terrible being strung vertically top to bottom instead of horizontal around the tree. This is an instance where more isn't always better. Less lights and better positioning would do a world of good for this tree! I will say the White House looked beautiful and the outside of the Botanical Garden building was very elegantly decorated. Now my goal is to go inside the Botanical Garden and see what Christmas display is up this year. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ice Ice Baby

The awesome ice slides with carpet at the bottom, thankfully, to slow you down!!

How did I spend my weekend?? Looking at 2 million pounds of sculpted ice in a venue that was only 9 degrees! Can you say BRRRRR?!?!?! But it was incredible and well worth my frozen nose afterwards. The Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center at the National Harbor in Maryland brought in ice sculptors from China to carve 2 million pounds of ice into scenes from Dr. Seuss's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" - plus a nativity scene at the end of the event - into one production called "ICE." It was a very cool set up because when you walked in, as you waited in line to enter ICE, they had a whole museum collection of sketches, magazine/book covers, poems, etc. that belong to the Seuss estate and are on loan for this specific event. There are also videos playing that show how ICE was created and the origin of ice sculpting. The sculptors from China spent 1 month prior to the opening of ICE working around the clock in 12 hour shifts to sculpt everything. As you can see from the pictures, these are not your ordinary ice swan sculptures! The scenes are very intricate with lots of colors and details and they are least life-size if not larger for some of the pieces. The ice slide was awesome and we could go down it as many times as we wanted :) There were people standing at the top not only telling you when to go but also giving you a push so you really went flying! Ha!

So, the down side to ICE is that it was 9 degrees in there, which is to be expected because after all it's ICE we're dealing with and it has to stay cold so we don't all end up swimming, but if you wanted to go down the slide, you had to wear the blue parka coat they provided to each guest. Just before entering the exhibit, everyone is handed a fluffy, blue parka to wear to keep warm. Sounds like a nice thing, huh?? Maybe to some people, but my mind immediately went to lice and bed bugs as these jackets are transferred from one person to another after you exit. I asked the coat attendant how they disinfect for lice and he said they spray the coats with Lysol....ummm really??? Hate to break it to them but Lysol is not a lice killer even though it sounds the same. As for bed bugs, he said he didn't know. *Sigh*. I was now faced with the dilemma of do I wear the coat, stay warm, and enjoy the slide or do I not wear the coat, not stay warm, and not enjoy the slide all for the chance that I might get lice and bed bugs?? Well.....the slide won out and I donned the coat and pretended for a couple hours I wasn't a paranoid germaphobe. Two days later, I am lice and bed bug free, so I guess it was a good choice :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The wonderful world of computers

I stared blankly at Sam's computer monitor the first time this screen appeared. I just lost all the work I had been doing, all the search pages I had open on the internet, all the information I had just inputted, and now the computer is mocking me?! Really?! This is the screen that appears when the computer crashes?! Click on the picture above to make it bigger so you can see what it says.....if you still can't read the message, it says, "Ah, Snap! Something went wrong..." The slang, teenage-ish saying "ah snap" is now the computer crash page. It's so ridiculous it's almost humorous, and in fact, every time this happens I laugh and say "ah snap" aloud, which is I'm sure exactly what the computer-screen-maker-people want to happen. Instead of users getting mad and calling an IT helpline irate, "Ah, Snap..." is so absurd that it makes you laugh. Gotta love brilliant computer geeks :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The tradition continues

It's December once again which means it's time to break out the gingerbread house kit and get to work! Every year for as long as I can remember, I've made a gingerbread house ~ never from scratch, though. Kits work just fine for me because let's be honest, decorating it is the best part. Who cares whether or not you actually made the sides and roof. Sam was in charge of decorating the Santa and Christmas tree cookies for the front and I took on the rest.....I tend to get a little possessive of my gingerbread house :-)