Not Martha

Seattle’s Gingerbread Village

Each year here in Seattle chefs from the Sheraton hotel pair with architects from various firms to create a Gingerbread Village display that is truly stunning. The village is free to view and donations are taken for the JDFR. This is the 21st year and the theme is “there is a rhyme and reason this holiday season” and the various structures are based on classic nursery rhymes. If you’re here in Seattle I highly recommend making a visit to see the gingerbread village part of your Christmas tradition. It opens this year on November 27th and stays up for viewing in the Sheraton lobby under the new year. If you like to avoid the crowds, or if you just want to extend the holiday as long as possible, going in to see the village after Dec. 25th means you’ll have more time to linger and study the details.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a peek at the gingerbread structures in the midst of construction. I managed to play it cool but I was so excited to learn what goes on behind the scenes.

From the factoids I got: “The gingerbread creations are made from an estimated 1,200 pounds of dough, 800 pounds of icing and hundreds of pounds of chocolate, almond paste and candy. Creations are designed in partnership with Seattle’s top architecture firms and trade associations, and are made possible by more than 2,500 volunteer hours from the Sheraton’s hotel staff.”

Chef John Armstrong told us that people keep an eye out for candy they can use all throughout the year.

Since the display is up for over a month they do have to use some non-edible interior support. By the time this is ready to be viewed by the public nothing inedible will be showing.

He also showed us the industrial oven which was massive and has eight surfaces that can each hold a bunch of full sheet pans. Yet in order to bake some of the gingerbread pieces needed they had to extend the baking surfaces to be large enough to hold them. That, people, is some serious gingerbread.

This boat has to be built in pieces because, no joke, it’s too tall to fit inside the room where it’s being constructed.

Kids respond most to the past gingerbread creations that have lights and movement so almost each sculpture will incorporate some of that. This entire ship will sway back and forth, I cannot wait to see it’s finished state.

All the details in the walls here are hand carved into the gingerbread before being baked.

The clock shown here was created by coloring dried pasta then embedding it into a pane of sugar while it was still hot. So smart.

Figurines awaiting showtime.

I love the Gingerbread Village every year but I think this year is going to be really special. Thanks again to the Sheraton and Chef Armstrong for taking the time to show me behind the scenes!

· comments [3] · 11-21-2013 · categories:christmas · seattle ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 22

While I was in the UK I got my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

This egg was bought at a Sainsbury’s grocery store.

It’s a monolith!

Oh, nope. It’s another Monsters University figurine. That’ll teach me to buy three eggs from the same store. One thing to note, all of the tops and bottoms of the eggs in this bunch from Sainsbury’s had slightly flattened tops and bottoms. At first I thought it was intentional but they were actually slightly crushed. Are these brand tie-in runs treated less carefully than other Kinder Surprise eggs?

· comments [1] · 11-20-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 21

While I was in the UK I got my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

This egg was bought at a Sainsbury’s grocery store.

A hand.

Oh my god it’s only got one eye! Oh wait. It’s another Monsters University figurine. Hi.

· comments [9] · 11-19-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 20

While I was in the UK I got my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

This egg was bought at a Sainsbury’s grocery store. You know what I learned there? An American chip-and-signature card used in the self checkout area will still require a human to come over, print a receipt, hand you a pen and get you to sign even if you’re spending less than two pounds.

The suspense.

So many eyes!

It’s a Monsters University figurine. Yay?

· comments [2] · 11-18-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 19

While I was in the UK I got my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

I found this not-Kinder Surprise egg at a train station in Brussels. The writing in the box was in Dutch but it clearly said figurines so I only bought one.

It’s a very cute egg, one half is in white chocolate and other other in dark chocolate. Each half had stars in the chocolate. This chocolate was ok, a little softer and less salty than the Kinder Surprise chocolate, but still not great quality.

The capsule was a little bigger than the Kinder capsules.

It’s a figurine all right.

Cute, it’s got a little base to stand in. The little sheet of paper that came with it indicates there is a whole set. I’m assuming these are all from a cartoon or toy set that I am not familiar with.

· comments [14] · 11-15-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 18

While I was in the UK I got my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

The one came from a grocery store in Bristol, I think it was a small Sainsburys.

Gears? Wait, we’ve seen these before.

Yay, it’s another Princess Magic Face!

This one looks eerily like a friend of mine.

· comments [4] · 11-14-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 17

While I was in the UK I got my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

Another egg purchased in Belgium. I, uh, went a little crazy while there and kept going into grocery stores just to see the number of different kinds of chocolate sprinkles they had in the baking aisle.

Sad trombone, it’s a figurine.

It’s a kangaroo. It’s cute. It looks cold though, poor thing.

· comments [2] · 11-13-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 16

While I was in the UK I got my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

This is from an egg I bought in Belgium. I forgot to photograph it in it’s unwrapped state, oops.

Little paper cards?

It’s a set of photograph cards of wild animals. You match them up to their spot on the included sheet and learn animal facts.

They weren’t that much fun except for this, they were textured! The mammals were flocked and the snake here was bumpy.

· comments [1] · 11-12-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 15

While I was in the UK I got my Kinder Surprise fix by opening an egg a day.

This is a Kinder Surprise bought from a grocery store in Belgium.

It’s… uh.

It’s a woman in pieces, a puzzle woman.

Cinderella! The detail on her face is really impressive, and that is glitter in her plastic that makes up her skirt.

· comments [6] · 11-11-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Washington Outdoor Women’s Weekend

This month on Friday the 13th I found myself at summer camp on purpose. I know. I wasn’t there for purposes of making a horror movie come true, though, I was there to learn how to read a map and shoot a bow and arrow.

I attended the Washington Outdoor Women’s weekend workshop and it was held at an honest to goodness summer camp. There were girls’ and boys’ dorms, a bonfire circle, a cafeteria and a gong to call everybody to meals. The camp was entirely filled with women who gathered to learn or hone outdoors skills. After listing my top choices for classes I realized that they would all apply to things I’d need to know in the case of the Zombie Apocalypse.

My first class was Map and Compass where I learned how to read a map, work a compass, account for declination and how to find myself on a map when I’m not quite sure where I am. I was surprised at how much fun it was, very much puzzle solving, and I might just get into Orienteering.

Next I took archery and I managed to hit at least somewhere on the target every time, which I counted as far better than what I expected going in. I even hit the very middle of the target once! I’m pretty sure it was a mistake, but it still counts.

My last class was Wilderness First Aid. We used oranges to learn to clean wounds and got the inside view on how to stock a first aid kit. I always suspected but now I know that those first aid kits you can buy aren’t worth it, you’re better off making your own collection.

The only bad part of the weekend was the dorm situation. I barely got any sleep and it made me a grumpy human. The trouble was that the bathrooms were in the dorms and those dorms held about 80 women and there was no way to shut out the noise of running water or industrial toilets flushing late into the night and very, very early in the morning. It was a huge downside to an otherwise amazing weekend. (The weekend was held at a different camp the year before so the reports I got from friends didn’t apply to this weekend. I’d much rather have been sleeping in a tent outside.)

Washington Outdoor Women is a great organization that uses experienced and enthusiastic teachers. For the map and compass class one of our instructors worked with Search and Rescue and had just finished hiking the Pacific Coast Trail at age 68. Our archery teacher had finished first in nationals several times and was able to talk us through all the different forms of archery for competition and hunting.

If you are interested in the outdoors I can definitely recommend looking into Washington Outdoor Women, it was great to learn new skills surrounded by supportive females. And you don’t have to live in Washington there were women attending from Oregon, Montana and Idaho. It was indeed like summer camp, only you didn’t have time to get homesick. See you there next year?

· comments [4] · 11-7-2013 · categories:events ·

iPad games I’ve been saving for travel

I’ve been saving up a few games on my iPad for our upcoming trip

The Cave
This is a Sega game from Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert an Double Fine Productions. I have not played it yet so I’m just hoping that the on screen controls all make sense. Yay for vintage games. (iTunes.)

The Walking Dead
What? I know, I have been holding onto this game for a long time. I played the first chapter and decided to keep it for the upcoming long plane ride. (iTunes.)

Tiny Thief
I actually played all the way through this and have been trying to forget all the good stuff so I can play it again. This game is so very charming and sweet, I actually played each level as a sort of bedtime story. This is a simple and entertaining point and click animated game. (iTunes, also on Android.)

Draw A Stickman Epic
I played through this before but they’ve added a levels and completeist elements since then. Also it’s all Halloween themed right now! (iTunes.)

This one is a suggestion on my part, I played the PC version of this a few years back and really really enjoyed it. I’m not sure how the on-screen controls will translate. In this game you are a little mermaid creature who wakes up with no memory and have to explore the underwater world, memories come back as you explore. There is a little combat but you can largely zoom past all the nasty creatures instead of fighting. (iTunes.)

Are there any iPad games you’ve been playing lately? Any that were surprisingly amazing?

· comments [7] · 11-4-2013 · categories:technology ·

Trip update: heading out to the hills

We are at the point in our trip where we are heading out to more remote areas and so I’ll be hitting pause on my Kinder Egg A Day posts until we have returned to a place where I don’t feel so guilty spending time at my laptop. I’ve got a few posts lined up to fill in while we’re busy chasing rainbows. See you soon!

· comments [2] · 10-29-2013 · categories:mumbling ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 14

This is the third egg from a box I bought in Belgium.

I see feet!

Oh my gosh. Oh dear. Is that a body that’s been cut in half? Is that a dead shade of pale? Are those intestines!?

Nope! It’s just a Smurf figurine. A Smurf figurine that looks like a zombie holding it’s own intestines. The little skirt there is made from a bit of fabric, a nice touch. Still, look at that thing. Shudder.

· comments [6] · 10-28-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 13

This is another one of the eggs I bought in Belgium. I started unwrapping it before taking the photo here, oops.

What? No little bits?

It’s a puzzle!

I’m always surprised at how much they can fit into the Kinder Surprise capsules and this is no exception. This is part of a wild animal theme, but this time the ostrich emu is way cuter than before.

· comments [6] · 10-27-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·

Kinder Surprise Egg A Day, Day 12

The next three eggs are from a Smurf branded box bought at a grocery store in Bruges.

Oh dear. Is that… teeth?

Are those naked legs?!

Whew, thankfully it’s just an ostrich! Ostriches have strange feet.

· comments [5] · 10-26-2013 · categories:kindereggaday ·