Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Catchup - Gingerbread

My birthday is 4 days before Christmas. And yes, it has always irked me that we were rarely in school to celebrate, people combined gifts, it kinda got lost in the Christmas celebrations, etc., etc.

But this year? I had a very, very cool birthday. Mr. at Home and I had plans for that night to meet some good friends at a Brazilian steak house (the food was *amazing* and the company even better). I did, however, find a very neat way to pass the day until it was time for dinner.

Some friends invited us to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville to see the gingerbread houses. I've always wanted to go, but it's never worked out until this year. So the girls loaded up and drove out to the mountains to meet our friends for lunch, then we went out to the hotel. Now this is an amazing hotel. First off, it's HUGE and incredibly fancy, but it looks like exactly the sort of place you'd expect to host a gingerbread house competition. We had a difficult time finding a parking spot, then we had to trudge up an enormous hill to the front porch. At which point I discovered that I had left my camera in the car.

Now if I'd known what this place was going to be like, I would've sucked it up and gone back for it, but I didn't and you'll just have to put up with camera phone quality.

First was an enormous lobby with a beautiful sleigh and reindeer setup for photo opportunities.

Then we took off wandering through the winding hallways and levels where there was a fabulously decorated Christmas tree every few feet and breathtaking views of a beautiful courtyard and the mountains beyond. And then we found the cases where the gingerbread houses were displayed.

And they were beyond anything you could imagine.

Each piece in the adult categories had to be handmade and they had done so in exquisite detail. This was the first house we saw.

The icicles blew me away. The horse. The tree with a cardinal. It was simply breathtaking. But there were so many more. They could be no bigger than 2 foot square, so everything was done is such miniature perfection.

Most were buildings - houses, stores, theaters, but some people really pushed the boundaries and created other things like dolls and pumpkin stands. The grand prize winner was a set of nesting dolls where each one appeared to be finished with wool or wood or lacquer that looked real.

There were tons of houses of all different types.

Some whole landscapes.

Some famous houses like Falling Water.

The little girls' favorite was this gold-roofed theater with a single ballerina on stage. (It's on the left.)

After we had seen all the gingerbread creations, we wandered outside to a little artists' shop where they wanted $65 for a crocheted baby hat and most of the stuff was breakable, so I took most of the girls outside where they ran around like crazy and found a bit of leftover snow.

The girls have all declared that they want to enter the contest next year. There is a child category where the rules are far less strict so we'll have to see what happens before entries are due for 2011. Whatever the case, you need to plan to come visit us next Christmas and we'll go see the gingerbread houses together.

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