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The Sugar Shack Festival of Trees Grande Prairie 2009

The Sugar Shack Festival of Trees Grande Prairie 2009

The end of summer means a lot of things to people, and for this girl, it means gingerbread!

The emails and donation material came out a few weeks ago and I am so excited about this years Festival!

Truthfully though, gingerbread is never far from my mind, I am continually on the hunt for inspiration for the next showpiece!

And good news! After a suggestion by yours truly, this year we are going to be using bigger boards!  24 x 24 wonderful inches!

Only 2 inches bigger but that is a lot of prime gingerbread real estate to work with!

I have a rough idea of what my building will look like and for the first time I have the design and name picked out early.

I have been know to,  at times push it right to the sign up deadline before I nailed down the perfect name and idea.

Feels good to be ahead of the game this year!

I stopped by The Home Depot yesterday to pick up  my board and will start the sketches this evening on my 2010 competition entry.

I draw the complete house on paper then plot it out on the board. Patterns are made, then the fun begins!

This weeks shout out is to……Mr Koscielnuk, my high school drafting teacher!  Little did I  know, back then, that drafting would be so handy in the kitchen?!?!?!  Thanks Mr. K!

Now to get down to the nitty gritty……

Because of the HIGHLY competitive nature of gingerbread competition…….I will not be talking about this years design on the blog until right before I drop it off with the Festival committee on November 16th.

I am looking at the possibility of doing a Gingerbread Cam to follow the progression of the construction so stay tuned for further details.

In the meantime, I would love to share my 2009 entry!

I introduce….


Sugar from Nutmeg Disrupted

And this is her house.

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

The Sugar Shack!

I was looking for a more rustic looking entry, a change from the very colorful houses I usually create.

I love the deck and railing design, it really lends itself to the country feel of the house.

As with any construction, you need a nice strong solid base.  This holds up the whole structure, make sure its strong!

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

I used blue and purple Nerds for the rock stucco detail.

Then I add the main floor using gingerbread pilings for support.

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

Now you turn your attention to other things while you let the base dry.

If you rush this step you could cause  damage now that will cause a collaspe later.

I like to add a lot of little details to my houses, whatever fits the setting you are trying to create.

This time I used candles, gifts and the green wreaths you see placed around the house.

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

Before I put the front of the house up I need to do a touch of interior decorating, for the kids of course!

They are on eye level with these creations so I design to please not only the Judges but love when the kids hit Gingerbread Lane and also keep them in mind!

To see the delight  in their faces when they first peer into my houses is pure joy for me!

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

And a shot of the livingroom from above.

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

Hummmm…..looking at it now I am wondering why I did not paint a pattern on the rug?

Won’t let that kind of detail slip by me again…..

See you can learn something everyday!

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

With the inside complete its time to put the roof on and work out the details of the exterior of the house.

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

At this point I decided that although the roof shingles looked good, I found it all to be a touch too dark and decided to modify the roof plans a bit looking to add some brightness to the house.

100’s of cirlces later…..

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

I thought this really brightened it up enough yet it still felt Christmasy…..if thats even a word!

The wonderfully detailed steps, front deck and railings where my favorite part of the construction.

Also the most time consuming as it took a long time to place the Ovation stick railings in place, with tweezers, so as to not melt the chocolate on the sticks and mess up the nice swirled pattern on the surface of the minty Ovations.

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

As with any project, if feels good to come to the end! I was very happy with my Sugar Shack!

It took a total of 115 hours to complete.

Here is a short list of some of the ingredients.

85 cups of flour

37 eggs

92 cups of icing sugar

17 cups of regular sugar

17 cups of molasses

20 boxes of Nerds

5 oz of Vodka

and a whole lot of little ingredients.

Here was the final shot before I turned it over to the Festival of Trees.

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

And this is what I found when I returned to the Festival!!

The Sugar Shack Gingerbread House on Nutmeg Disrupted

I could not have been more thrilled!

For my American readers, First place in Canadian competitions are represented by RED ribbons!!!

And I am very proud to say we raied $250.00 with this very large cookie! And up to date I have raised over $1000 with gingerbead!

Sugar would be very pleased!

Be sure to head over to the Food Bloggers of Canada to see a step by step tutorial I wrote on designing and building your own one of a kind gingerbread house!

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Angel Academy Festival of Trees Grande Prairie 2012

Angel Academy Festival of Trees Grande Prairie 2012

The Angel Academy, where all angels come to get their wings!

Nutmeg Disrupted at the Grande Prairie Festival of Trees, Grande Prairie Alberta

The annual Festival of Trees  in Grande Prairie kicked off last night with the Decorators Take A Bough event out at the Tec Center.

It is a chance for those who designed and donated for the event to gather for a few hours, have a coffee and explore the venue.  It is an evening of fun without the crowds and is a fantastic way to get into the Christmas Spirit!

My theme for this years gingerbread house was designing an Angel Academy. I wanted it to have a fun whimsical feel,  straying off from a heavy Christmas theme. I used bright pastels and made flowers in place of the more traditional Christmas decore.

Grande Prairie Festival Of Trees Gingerbread House

Nutmeg Disrupted at the Grande Prairie Festival of Trees, Grande Prairie Alberta

I tend to lean towards sided buildings. I love the color that fondant can bring to the build. The strong colors are always sharp against the black rooves with the bright white snow.

Nutmeg Disrupted at the Grande Prairie Festival of Trees, Grande Prairie Alberta        Nutmeg Disrupted at the Grande Prairie Festival of Trees, Grande Prairie Alberta

My projects usually have a path somewhere as well. The Angel Academy is no exception with the path being a strong element in this years project. I really had no plan when I started but am extremely pleased with how it evolved.

Nutmeg Disrupted at the Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie Alberta..      Nutmeg Disrupted at the Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie Alberta..






I also took a different direction with my trees, which are usually sharp and green. Keeping with the white “heaven” look the trees were made of rice krispies and then dipped in royal icing. They turned out quite nice and took only a short time to complete compared to trees of previous builds I have done.

Nutmeg Disrupted at the Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie Alberta..        Nutmeg Disrupted at the Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie Alberta..






The flowers were made of fondant and dyed green spagetti. Which is kind of obvious. I just really wanted to say dyed green spagetti.

Nutmeg Disrupted at the Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie Alberta.

And a quick look through the front window will reveal a painting of a scene from a sunny memory down by a remote lake.

Nutmeg Disrupted at the Festival Of Trees in Grande Prairie Alberta

And of course, we have the bears. I always have to add that little something for the kids. Once it was Santa, stuck upside down in the chimney. Then there was Sugar from The Sugar Shack! Even a group of troublesome penguins made an appearance a few years. Of course these house are made to raise money for the QE II Foundation but I build these houses with the kids in mind and always gear them towards the little ones. Nothing better then to be able to light up their faces when the discover all the cool things to be found in Gingerbread Lane!

Nutmeg Disrupted at the Festival Of Trees in Grnade Prairie Alberta

Just a bit of an update. I was asked about the competiton end of the gingerbread tonight so am updating what I know.

As most everyone knows I am a fierce competitor, it is what drives me! That is just how I am hard wired and I work hard to do well when I put myself into these competitions. In the next year I plan on taking that to a whole new level.   I will have an annoucement reguarding a new project I will be involved in the days to follow.

But first a little about this years gingerbread house build.

Some ribbons were awarded at the Decorators event Wednesday night. I was there for a short time but I left the event early. This year it is not about winning, it is just for the kids. There is a sad story that motivated this build. A few weeks ago a few boys down the street came home from school and found their mom in the house, dead. The oldest one is 10 and I just can not get them out of my mind. The police were there for many many hours that night. I knew something bad had happened. That truly has to be every childs nightmare, to find a parent like that. So I don’t care if I do place this year, I just hope those little boys can find some peace this Christmas. My worry for them pushed me through this build. At one point I wanted to toss it all and just quit. It just breaks my heart. But not being one to quit,  I sucked it up and finished the house with no expectations except to hopefully give the kids who go to gingerbread lane a smile. I can not imagine this familys grief. The burden this little boy will carry in his heart will be there for a long long time. I know my thoughts will be with them all throughout the Christmas season.



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Recipe To Riches. Canada’s Top 5!

Recipe To Riches. Canada’s Top 5!

If anything this chapter in my journey has taught me is patience.

When you are dealing with a televison production that is traveling across the country, sorting through all of the contestants and products and making so many decisions there is a lot of waiting involved.

And so I did.

After I received my gold ticket in Vancouver I was told I would hear from the show, either way, on the 4th of March.

It is amazing what you can accomplish when you are trying to keep busy and distracted at the same time. It was a very productive 3 weeks. Though I have to say, it has also been very enlightening and I find I am having a hard time putting it all into words.

For whatever reason, I seem to have put certain aspects of my life on hold for about 5 weeks now.  The trip to Vancouver was very cathartic and I find myself examining my life.

It is amazing what can happen when you really put yourself out there. Really out there.

The hours turned to days, days into weeks. Always aware of the Tweets Kyle was putting out from the Recipe To Riches crew, and a Twitter follower of both Dana and Tony the excitment was there, simmering just below the surface. I checked and double checked my paperwork from Vancouver. Going over the possible dates of the trip to Toronto if I was lucky enough to get that far.

The weekend of the 4th rolled around and time began to drag, like the batteries of a clock in the process of dying. Sunday arrived with much antisipation. I would literally jump, my heart racing every time the phone rang. Knowing they had the Toronto auditions earlier that day they must have been working in overdrive. I knew if I did hear from them, it would be late in the day. At about 10 that night I thought I would check my email for the hell of it. There was a 1 beside the inbox.

It was an email asking me to fill out some paperwork for a back ground check on behalf of the show.

What did this mean? Am I in? Have they decided? It was midnight in Toronto, no way I would hear anything further tonight.

I filled out the required paperwork, signed what needed signing and was at the post office first thing Monday morning.

When I got home this was in my email.

Did you read #3.

You want to know what is worse then waiting?

Getting word you have indeed moved to the next level ………….. and can’t tell a soul.

This time no date was given as to when I would get final word.  The ultimate exercise in patience. I quickly threw myself into a few very time consuming projects. I work very well under pressure so I took advantage of the nervous energy.

I was so close I could taste it. Feel it.  I spent many hours visualizing myself in Toronto. I could really do this. Truly the first time I went for something huge for myself. Digging deep and finding my courage.

Putting it all out there.

Could you imagine the possiblilty?

To have a once in a life time opportunity to compete to get a product I created into stores across the country. To represent a city I have grown to love on a scale such as this would be amazing.

Becoming a slave to the phone it became an extension of myself. One more call. That is it. Just one.

And it came, while I was in the shower, of course.

I quickly jumped out and answered it. I have looked at the phone number a 100 times so I knew it was them.

Dripping wet, wrapped in a towel in my newly painted bathroom……my journey came to an end.

This time it was Yetta calling and as she put it, the news isn’t good. I was as close as one could get. Top 5 in Canada is pretty cool! She did invite me back to try for season 3.  And mentioned that they did pop in and read my blog. Which was pretty neat to hear. Though it didn’t lighten the blow.

I stepped back into the shower, let the hot water drift over me. The tears didn’t come right away. I think I was numb.  I have since made up for that in the day that followed. And to be honest, writing this has been tremendously tough.

The disappointment is indeed huge.

Would I do it all again? Absolutely. It has been an amazing journey. I am changed. I am excited! Defintely at a crossroad in my life. Trying to figure out where do I go from here? I feel like something big still needs to happen, like there are things I need to do.

I want to thank everyone who has followed along these past few weeks. Your support has been overwhelming and so very much appreciated.

I am sorry it ended here and not in Toronto.

Is season 3 a possiblilty? Absolutely.

I know I can still win this thing. It is just a matter of timing……….

Thanks again everyone!

Keep it real.






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Gingerbread Dreams Festival Of Trees Grande Prairie 2006

Gingerbread Dreams Festival Of Trees Grande Prairie 2006

Never in a million years did I expect I would come to design and create gingerbread houses.

I did make a few of the kit ones you can buy. I remember the feeling of “that is all” after the simple build. Though I never had a reason to build anything bigger.

Many years later and a move to north of Grande Prairie I had seen pictures from the local Festival of Trees in the newspaper. My first thought was cool, gingerbread houses. My second thought, wow,  I bet I could create some seriously cool gingerbread.

So inspired by simple design I decided to find out how I could get involved with the Festival for the following year. I was very excited to be able to partisipate. To see what I could come up with and just have fun with it.

I went with 2 smaller buildings, I pictured a sort of town square in my mind. Having limited space I had to keep it fairly simple.

Truly, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I had taken a few years of drafting in high school so had an idea of how to draw out the plans. Then I turned the plans into templates which were then used right on the surface of the gingerbread dough.

I wanted fairly bright colors so I decided to go with fondant siding. It is a great decorating medium and is very inexpensive to make.

I had 3 different buildings to start but realized only 2 would fit the board. The blue and yellow really stood out so I went with them.

I did not own a very good camera back then so the limited pictures I do have really are not of great quality. But they do give a good idea of what the project looked like.

Being completely new to the Festival, Gingerbread Lane and doing something of this size I was nervous going into it. I did not know know what to expect. And I had hoped I had done a good job. I had only see a few pictures in a newspaper and the only gingerbread houses I had ever seen in person were the kits I made with my kids.

I worked for 38 hours straight to finish it for delivery. Total hours into the complete build was somewhere around 150. I had 2 goals in mind while doing the build. One was keep it nice and clean. Second was making it fun for the kids.

Get down to their level and look at what you are building.  Now scroll back up 2 pictures. Do you see it?

The kids noticed him right away.

I am so proud to announce that Gingerbread Dreams did very well. It was lucky enough to get first place as the Judge’s Choice and was selected for the winners circle. Which means the house was sold at the live auction the night of the gala.

When I called the QEII offices a few days after the sale to inquire how it did at the auction I was very happy to learn that we broke the sales record for gingerbread houses at $450.00. Wow! I truly never expected that. But am very proud that I was able to make a contribution like that with my house.

I look forward to many more gingerbread houses. And maybe a few more records can be broken.

A step by step gingerbread house tutorial I wrote can be found over at the Food Bloggers of Canada!














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Precision Well Servicing Rig #1 GBH 2005

Precision Well Servicing Rig #1 GBH 2005

Talk about jumping in with both feet!

I had seen an article in the local newspaper about the annual gingerbread house competiton that takes place at the Festival of Trees event in Grande Prairie every winter. It is a major fundraiser for the QEII Foundation.

I was completely inspired and vowed to join the Festival the following year. But I seem to have been bitten by some kind of bug and needed to try my hand at it immediately.


I had plans to do a simple house but I was quick to realize just a house would not be enough for the creative fix I was looking for.


I  need to build something to go along with it. Seeing that we are in oil country a service rig seemed like a natural choice.

It sat in the main lobby at the Precision offices in Grande Prairie. They were not only impressed but quite thrilled with what I had put together. I was completely and totally spoiled by the boss which took me by surprise. Though it was appreciated! I was just glad they liked it And made me excited for the Festival next winter. If I could create this my first time playing with gingerbread just imagine what other cool things I could design.

I had yet to discover marshmallow fondant so the complete rig is iced with royal icing. The door of the house, any yellow windows and the Precision logo were cut from  fruit roll ups.

Just looking the flimsey foil covered cardboard the rig is sitting on makes my stomach go into knots and my heart race a little bit. How I ever transported it like that? It is a miracle it made it there intact.

Little did I know that winter what a passion playing with gingerbread would become. It truly is a honor to be able to raise hundreds of dollars with my builds. And I am so thankful I can share the pictures with you. I make the houses to share with others. Perhaps bring a little joy and to maybe even inspire!
Thanks for stopping by!

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