National Gingerbread Competition, A New Holiday Tradition

This makes the second year that we have visited the Grove Park Inn in Asheville to see the National Gingerbread House Competition. I’m so glad this has become part of our holiday tradition. I love seeing the creativity and craftsmanship that is involved with the competition.

This year I made to visits to the competition. One was with Mr. McB on December 17. We arrived pretty early on a rather mild day. Other than some school groups, we did not encounter a lot of people during our visit.

32349_10151177644812233_351580794_n12 Days of Christmas in gingerbread

60918_10151177604892233_1191068075_nThe Velveteen Rabbit

305465_10151177644802233_735383762_nMidnight Angel

31621_10151177644962233_1431262057_nElf on the Shelf and advent calendar

532532_10151177598432233_1585010754_nGingerbread factory detail

598636_10151177622797233_1999842471_nGorgeous details on this gingerbread tree

547520_10151177877217233_1636209878_nRelaxing after walking around and looking at the displays.
My goodness these chairs are so comfortable. I could have enjoyed a nap.

224912_10151177593717233_504428205_nOne of the many decorated trees. This one was a bit much for me with the full-sized peacock roosting in the branches. There is something for everyone and while this tree didn’t strike my fancy, there were many that did. It’s all fun to see.

My second visit was on December 27 when I met my aunt and grandmother. While the winners were traveling to New York for a segment on Good Morning America during my first visit, I was delighted to see them back in Asheville last week.

25040_10151192018982233_84429709_nAmazing detail
Every inch of this is created with gingerbread. Even the parts that look like fondant are made with an innovative “gingergel” created by the winner.

314086_10151192035657233_474963455_nMuppet Christmas

398709_10151192019867233_228106461_nYellow Submarine

We also opted for lunch on the Sunset Terrace. It was a lovely experience. I was smart enough to plan ahead and make reservations and I think that is how we wound up with this wonderful table by the window.

DSC_0022Instead of having a heavy lunch, we opted for the wedge salads. I enjoyed the original version with bleu cheese dressing and crumbles. My aunt and grandmother opted for different dressing and they were happy to oblige. The lemon vinaigrette, selected by my aunt,  provided a light, zesty flavor.

After our delicious salads, we got down to the serious business of selecting a dessert. It was a difficult choice but we wound up with the key lime pie and panna cotta.

547968_10151192035942233_1218613443_nIsn’t this an adorable presentation for the key lime pie? It had a nice creamy consistency and perfect tart flavor.

376770_10151192052622233_332534841_nThe panna cotta was so very delicious. I loved the crispy praline pieces and slight tartness from the raspberries. Yum!

I enjoyed our meal at the Sunset Terrace and thought it added something special to the visit.If you are looking for a less expensive treat during your visit, there are holiday drinks and treats available for purchase in the Great Hall. If you can find a table or rocker, it’s a great place to sit and enjoy the roaring fire in one of the two 14-foot fireplaces on either side of the massive room.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend adding this outing to your holiday schedule. Visitors do have to pay to park ($10-$15 depending on where you park) but it is well worth the price to see the displays and the hotel itself.

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Sunny Point Cafe

Back in August, I had the chance to meet my parents in Asheville for a visit to the WNC Farmers’ Market and lunch. While we enjoy the Moose Cafe located at the market, we wanted something different. Enter Sunny Point Cafe located at 626 Haywood Rd in West Asheville.

574685_10151011169052233_74143656_nSunny Point has the tiniest of parking lots. Thanks to my dad’s eagle-eyes we were able to nab a parking space but be prepared to park and walk to the restaurant. Actually, there can be a bit of a line so be prepared to let you party out of the car so they can get your name on the list while you find on-street parking.

That tiny parking lot is the only thing that separates the cafe from the lush garden where Sunny Point grows much of the produce used in their dishes. Lettuce, greens, tomatoes, and herbs were just some of the tasty items growing the day we visited.

After a brief wait, we were seated at a table under the partially enclosed patio. We ordered the fried green tomato and goat cheese appetizer. It was delicious, maybe too delicious for its own good since there are no pictures of it.

195903_10151011169472233_58360315_nDad ordered the burger. From this picture you can see how big and thick it is. You can also seed that gorgeous slice of heirloom tomato from the garden. The beef is free-range, hormone-and-antibiotic-free. It comes on a toasted English-muffin bun.

 

300808_10151011175157233_32485797_nMom got the grilled chicken sandwich with cheddar and maple-and-black-pepper bacon. Her bacon wound up on Dad’s burger. He said it was very good. She enjoyed the sandwich and the delicious fries.

I ordered the black bean tostadas. I can’t adequately describe this pile of delicious without going to the menu description. “Two crisp corn tortillas topped with grilled chipotle cheese grit cakes, roasted tomatillo salsa, and baby greens. Garnished with black bean corn salsa, cilantro crema, feta cheese, and fresh cilantro.”

378215_10151011169212233_326582162_nI loved everything about the dish. The contrast between the creamy elements and the tangy tomatillo salsa and the crispy tostadas and the moist grit cakes…my taste buds couldn’t ask for more. It was so delicious. I must admit to waking up craving this dish. It’s so unique and flavorful, I can’t imagine anything that would make a good substitute.

I would highly recommend Sunny Point. Other than the parking lot and the fact that they do not have Sweet’N Low for your coffee, it’s almost perfect.

Traveling Thursday – Beauty Bargains

Christmas clearance sales can be the perfect time to stock up on the toiletries for your travels in the coming year.

Remember those special “value” sets of fragrances and lotions or “limited edition” holiday makeup palettes? These items are now half-off and the price is bound to drop again in a few days. These special deals can be found at all levels of the retail ladder – drug, discount, and department stores. A bevvy of deals can also be found at Bath and Body Works semi-annual sale.

Last year I bought a set of four body-sprays for two dollars. I found all of the fragrances to be nice and light. They’re not my favorites but they’re also inexpensive so if I leave one in the hotel, it’s no big loss. The same is true for the discounted eyeshadow I bought on clearance last year. They were cheap enough that I tossed some of the more outlandish colors and kept those that fall within my comfort zone. The colors don’t have as much staying power as my normal makeup but for vacation, they work just fine.

This is also a great time of year to stock up on manicure sets and other beauty tools. These might not be durable enough for daily use but they work just fine for vacation and again, if you leave them behind, it’s no great loss.

Happy bargain hunting!

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

tree2012angela
As I type this my husband is in awe that I am writing a blog post. I have neglected my duties as a blogger but I’m ready to change that in the new year. I enjoy writing and photography and this blog is a way for me to showcase both of those things. It’s also an excuse to get out and try new restaurants and activities.You can look forward to lots of reviews and other posts in the new year. I might even attempt Project 365.

In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas. Be kind to yourself and those around you. Remember that love came down at Christmas to give us hope and set us free. Thank you Lord for the best Christmas gift of all.