Warmest Wishes & Happy New Year

I hope you had/are having a wonderful winter holiday! :) I just stopped by to say happy holidays and share this darling calendar my sister got me from her trip to Japan. The wooden cutouts are so cute and clever. Unfortunately, it doesn't say who designed it so I couldn't look up the artist or company to see more of their products. :( Nonetheless, I'll be finding a perfect spot for it on my (now messy) computer desk. Thanks Shizuka, I'll have to hang up that wall clock too! :x I can't believe it's been a year! Oopsies.

I'll be doing some serious house cleaning and a few MDD projects before the new year arrives so this shall be the last post for 2010. Thank you for all the support throughout the year and here's to wishing you the best for 2011!

Fan Food Contest 2010 Winners

Before I announce the winner of this year's Fan Food Contest, I just want to really thank everyone who participated! You are all awesome for taking the time to create such yummy-looking entries and for taking the time to vote for your favorites! It's such a great experience to be able to connect with my supporters. Every time I look at the creations (including last year's), I can't help myself from smiling so big. :D Alright, enough mushy stuff.

It was seriously difficult to choose the official winner this year. I mean, they are all so creative and have different highlighting qualities that I wanted every single one of them to win! And I'm not saying that just to be nice. I really had a tough time, hence the delayed post today. Brandon and I went back and forth a lot and here we are now announcing our final decision. The winners for this year:

My Dear Donuts by Tommy

Seaweed Skater by Kaman

Congratulations to our contestants! If you miss out on the contest, you can view all the entries here and past contests here. That concludes our contests for this year! I hope to see more next year! ;)

Gingerbread House Making Party

*I really can't stay, Baby don't hold out, Ahh but it's cooold outside~*
Hehe, I love that song (Baby, It's Cold Outside)!
This weekend was full of fun and hard work! On Saturday, my girlfriends came to my Gingerbread House Making Party. I've been wanting to build one for the longest time so I sent out my invites the day after Thanksgiving. I know it was early, but I had to make sure that it was going to happen this year. :P I bought a couple gingerbread house kits, piping utensils, gingerbread graham crackers, and lots of different candy. I know this sounds super nerdy, but I also YouTubed a lot of video tutorials on how to build one from scratch so in my mind, I knew what I was doing.
I wanted to make sure we got in the holiday spirit so I had the table somewhat organized and decorated. I also found a set of cute hot cocoa boxes with different flavors (like Tiramisu and Raspberry Cheesecake) at Target so I placed one in each cup. I'm drinking one as I type this now and it's so yummy! :) Anyway, before the big day, I was imagining how everything was going to go: the girls would come, we'd start building our house, drink hot cocoa, watch Elf (my favorite Christmas movie), and have awesomely decorated gingerbread houses with a few nursing breaks in between. But what I imagined and what turned out was a bit different. Since we weren't kids anymore, I figured that it'd be easy building the houses and decorating it with ease. Umm, wrong! Icing is sticky and messy. My fingers were too big to place all the little candy dots without getting icing on them. On top of that, it turned out to be SO hot that day that I had to put on the a/c to keep the icing from melting! Yes, in the middle of December. That's what happens when you live in California. ;) So the weather wasn't too helpful and unfortunately, hot chocolate wasn't the drink of the day. But even with these minor, sticky, unplanned events, we all had a blast! I learned that sometimes it's okay to just let go and get dirty.
Here's a few pointers if you're planning to host one yourself. (This is actually for me to remember what to do for next year.)
*Buy your supplies as soon as you see it in the store.
I made the mistake of seeing these cute gingerbread house kits at Target a couple times and saying to myself, "Oh, I'll just get it later." Well, just a week or two later, I was able to get my hand on the last mini town kit and there were only a few of the other options. I did notice though, that Costco and Joann's had a ton, but personally, I preferred the Target designs more. 
*Have powdered sugar, vanilla extract and eggs just in case you need more icing.
I ended up making one extra batch with this recipe that my friend recommended. OH! And food coloring if you want different colored icing.
*Buy a disposable table cloth, maybe those plastic ones from the party store. Possibly chair covers too.
Icing got everywhere. :P I can't imagine how all the teachers and parent helpers felt when we were kids making a mess. I suppose I'll see what it's like in a few years when Bruce is old enough to decorate one on his own.
*Do it in a non-carpeted area.
Although we didn't have a choice in our apartment, it's something to think about if you have the option of moving your party into a non-carpeted area. We were all being careful yet managed to spill some coconut shavings and sugar crystals. Lol, but Katsu was happy.
*Use as much candy as you can.
I realized that my houses were boring compared to all my girls' houses because I was picky with the color scheme. Or maybe I'm just gingerbread house challenged? ;)
*If you plan on making yours from scratch, it's not a one day event.
My original plan was having everyone design and build their own houses from gingerbread, but while doing the nerdy research, I realized it's a 3 to 4 day process! So that's definitely something to think about.

I had so much fun that I'm already excited to do it again next year! Maybe I'll challenge myself by designing my own building... or not. Baby Bruce will be able to join in a little by then too! Also, to all my girlfriends who weren't able to make it or live too far to come, hopefully these photos will convince you that it's worth visiting next time. ;)