Gingerbread at the Fairmont

Fairmont Entrance

Never before have I stepped inside a house comprised mostly of gingerbread – yes,  gingerbread.  Every year, the legendary Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco transforms its lobby into a holiday paradise.  This includes the annual construction of a grand Victorian manor of gingerbread, icing, and other materials (some edible, some not).  I had the fortune to visit the Fairmont for the Official Opening of the Gingerbread House on November 30th.

Gingerbread House

Standing twenty-two feet high and twenty-three feet long, the Mansard style home almost touches the lobby ceiling.  Feeling very much like Hansel from the famed Grimm’s tale, I walked through the doorway of the impressively festive abode.

Gingerbread House Tree

Through the front windows of the house, one can see a room in Santa’s Workshop, everything the right size for elves.  A small lighted tree illuminates the front, with a four-car train traveling the surrounding track.

Gingerbread House Second Story

The second floor of the home boasts a larger tree, elaborate lights, and a roof with a widow’s walk.  Is that Santa I see upon the chimney?

Gingerbread House Detail

I love the attention to detail the home was given.  Thick icing in shades of green, red and white frame the windows.  Unlike most gingerbread houses, there was a surplus of edible building materials for the guests at the event.  One could eat the cake, and have it too, so-to-speak.   I was able to sample some and it was sheer holiday perfection.  It went amazing well with the hot chocolate that was also being passed out.  Notice another view of the elfin workshop through the window.

Gingerbread House Back Entrance

The back entrance to the house opens onto the Fairmont’s Laurel Court Restaurant and Bar.  They are hosting a Gingerbread Tea Service on the weekends through December 15th, and then every day between December 16th through December 29th.  For more information regarding the Gingerbread Tea, please visit the Fairmont website:  http://www.fairmont.com/san-francisco/promotions/gingerbread-house/

Gingerbread House Nutcracker

A life-size tall Nutcracker has his own room in the tower of the home.  I estimate him to be about five feet tall.

Ice Nutcracker

A Nutcracker carved of ice was on display for the opening.   Beautiful and exquisite.

Nutcracker Collection

On loan from the San Francisco Ballet is the Molinari Family Nutcracker Collection, on display throughout the holidays.  Which nutcracker is your favorite?

In fact, there is even a friendly competition between The Fairmont and the Westin St. Francis, as to who has the better gingerbread creation.  I haven’t seen the other house, but it is much smaller in size and more castle-like.  As for feng shui purposes, The Fairmont’s Gingerbread House creates a full-fledged environment.  How, exactly, is this specific gingerbread house good feng shui?  Well, unlike most gingerbread constructions, one can actually walk through this one (they are typically much smaller).  The house is also structurally sound.  Following building codes, a wood frame acts as skeletal support, with the gingerbread and other materials then applied.  And then there is the smell.  The aroma of gingerbread fills the lobby’s environment.  This fosters a sense of festive holiday cheer.  And the closer one is to the house, the stronger the fragrance.

Fairmont Tree and Santa

The new addition this year to the house was the Gingerbread Doghouse.  Located over in the kid’s section of the event, I was unable to get a good photo of it due to the crowd.  This area was ideal for kids to make their own fanciful buildings and drop off letters to Santa Claus in his designated mailbox.  However, he was there in person if one’s Christmas List needed immediate attention.   A beautiful tree takes center stage in front of the main entrance.  Decorated in golds, silvers and cobalt, it harmonized perfectly with the gilded resplendence of the lobby.

Fairmont Mirror Bird

I loved the carvings on the mirrors and walls of the entry hall.  Above is a close-up of the birds attached to the golden mirrors that hang throughout.  Simply stunning.

Fairmont Reindeer

Topiary sculptures covered in lights adorn the roof the lobby’s front desk.  The Gingerbread House will be on display through January 1st.

The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco

950 Mason Street (Nob Hill), San Francisco, California 94108  

415 772 5000

http://www.fairmont.com/san-francisco/promotions/gingerbread-house/

Fairmont Carollers

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The Scarlet Letter

Apothic Logo

Due to some circumstances beyond my control, I’ve had to deal with a lot of stress over the past few weeks.  Stress of any kind attracts sha (negative energy) to an individual and/or space. Depending on the person, stress can cause a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, skin issues, sexual performance problems, and a weakened immune system.  For me personally, I suffer from insomnia, and the resulting fatigue and lack of energy that comes along with it.  Unfortunately, stress is an inescapable part of life.  But, it can be reduced and dealt with accordingly.  One way I like to unwind is to pour myself a glass of wine, such as the red blend from Apothic Wines.

Apothic Echos

Created by winemaker Boyd Morrison in 2007, Apothic harvests its grapes from Lodi to make some of the most tantalizing blends I’ve ever had.  I was first introduced to it  on a weekend away in Big Bear a few years ago.  It was love at first taste.  The name Apothic comes from the word Apotheca;  a mysterious place where wine was created and stored in the 13th century.  The “ic” portion of the name comes from the word epic (which this wine definitely is).

Apothic Red

Apothic Red – A seductive blend of zinfandel, syrah, cabernet and merlot.  While this is definitely not a dessert wine, I found the bold and rich taste of chocolate to be highly prevalent (probably from the zinfandel grapes used).  Vanilla, blueberry, raspberry, and mocha flavors also permeate the libation.  An excellent choice for every wine lover’s palette.  Even if you’re not an aficionado of red wine, try this.  It’s impressive taste lingers upon the senses.  Unforgettable.

Apothic White

Apothic White – I had this recently at a dinner party, and the first taste to assuage my senses was honey.  Sweet honeysuckle, vanilla, and mellow pineapple bring forth images of hot summer days in tropical climates.  A friend suggested adding actual honey to the wine, which I am inclined to do for a more digestif appeal.  Best served chilled, although ours was not; we added a few ice shards instead.  Sultry and beguiling.

Apothic Rose

Apothic Rose – A limited edition released this year, this is a very stylish blush wine.  Strawberries with hints of cream, nutmeg, and watermelon are the dominant flavors.   This pairs amazingly well with Trader Joe’s Carrot Zucchini Bread.  Charming and sweet.

Apothic Wine Art

Wine Advertisement Art by Aurie Singletary of Cargo Collective.  See more of her incredible images at her site:  http://cargocollective.com/auriesingletary/Apothic-Wine

Apothic Red Pond and Trees

From a feng shui perspective, there are many ways to deal with stress.  Here are a few things I do to help relax and rejuvenate during stressful times:

  • Gaze at some art – Whether is be online or at a museum, spend some time browsing artists of various styles.  This helps to relieve the mind of worrisome thoughts, and let’s people focus their attention on an item of beauty.  Even if one doesn’t like a piece of art, it’s always thought-provoking.
  • Clear the clutter – Remove and reorganize any clutter in your environment – especially in the bedroom   Clutter also attracts sha, stressing people out the more and more it collects. Take a half hour or so to clear some of this away from you environment, or at the very least, remove it from the bedroom.
  • Get some fresh air – Open up all the windows and let fresh air into the space, for about an hour (weather and temperature permitting).   Air and breezes from outside help remove the stagnant, yin air of the area, attracting more fresh,yang energy inside.  Taking a nice stroll around a park or neighborhood also helps.
  • Take a bath – As opposed to showers, baths helps to relax the body rather than stimulate.    There are all sorts of various things one can add for the ultimate bath experience.  I like bubble bath, some essential oil (usually lavender or eucalyptus), bath salts, and apple cider vinegar.  Why the vinegar, you ask?  It’s a skin equalizer.  If you have dry skin, it helps to naturally moisturize.  If you have oily skin, it helps to draw out the unnecessary oils.
  • Aromatherapy – Lighting candles or incense is a very quick way to alter a space for the better.  For calming, I suggest vanilla, lavender, or sandalwood.
  • Calming music – Various kinds of music can help one to relax.  Studies have shown that classical music alters brain waves, slowing down heart rate and breathing to a more calming rhythm.  Soft jazz and new age music also have the same effect.  (Enya is awesome)
  • Unwind with wine – A glass of red wine a day is good for the body and improves memory.  It also helps to relax.  After my second glass, I feel much better.

These are but a few of the ways one can de-stress.  There are many others, and they’re different for everyone.  Some of my friends play video games, or go for a mile run, or do yoga, or meditate.  Find what works best for you.

Haunting Apothic Poster

Apothic has  a choice selection of luxurious products for sale on their website, like the beautiful poster pictured above.  They also have a new black, stemless wineglass I’m sort of in love with.  All of their products are here:  http://store.apothic.com/index.cfm?method=storeproducts.showlist

Opera Wine Quote

Apothic can be found at a variety of locations, including CVS, Target and Trader Joe’s.  Also, check your local supermarket, bodega, or liqueur store.  Many of them in the Los Angeles area carry Apothic, although the rose is much harder to find than the red or white.   There is also a store locator  on the Apothic site here:  http://www.apothic.com/where-to-buy.asp  The price for this relaxation in a bottle is around $9.00 – $11.00.   I would not recommend purchasing online, as the shipping costs from all available distributors seems grievously high.

To unwind from the day tonight, I plan on having some Apothic Rose as I lounge in a warm bath courtesy of that amazing gentleman, Mr. Bubble.

http://www.apothic.com/

*Uncredited Apothic images provided courtesy of Apothic Wines.