Who Has a Gingerbread Doghouse?

What makes the holidays special to young and old alike?  Well, I have a theory – it’s the delight of the surprise.  When you open up an unexpected gift, your eyes open wide, a quick smile comes to your face and you lose your breath for a second.  The really cool thing about it is the gift giver experiences the same physical reaction as the gift receiver!

One winter when I was a young girl, my brother and I spoiled our Christmas. You see we searched until we found my parent’s special hiding place and we saw our unwrapped gifts!  At the time, it was a thrill to seek out and find something we weren’t supposed to see.  We kept it our little secret.  Then on Christmas morning when we opened the packages, the whole thing fell flat. Knowing what was inside took away the delight and it just wasn’t the same. My brother and I never spoke about it but we never tried to find presents again.

When I went to see the life sized gingerbread house adorning the lobby of the Montage Resort at Deer Valley, I expected it to be wonderful.  A 12 foot high gingerbread house was sure to be impressive!  I’d heard the resort’s award winning Executive Pastry Chef, Raymond Lammers and his team spent two months building it – so I knew it was going to be really special.


It is spectacular!  The house is tiled with over 11,000 gingerbread cookies (2,000 roof tiles, 8,000 small tiles and 1,000 white gingerbread tiles) and completed with:

1 ½ pounds of nutmeg

135 pounds of butter

165 pounds of sugar

170 pounds of molasses

85 pounds of corn syrup

540 eggs AND 110 pounds of special sugar were used for the 26 sugar candies and the 6 window panes.

But there is more!  The delight came when while I was looking up at the gingerbread house, a furry friend nudged me.  Jonas, the Bernese Mountain Dog Ambassador at the Montage was visiting his very own gingerbread doghouse.  Let me ask you this.  Who has a gingerbread doghouse?  Well, Jonas and his fellow ambassador, Monty both do. These 3 ft. wide and 4 ft. deep gingerbread doghouses sit on either side of the life sized gingerbread house.

House 2

When I saw them, I had the same physical reaction as if I was opening that unexpected gift. Everyone around me had it too. I watched teenagers elbowing each other and saying, “Look at the doghouses!”  Jonas lapped it all up oblivious to the doghouse as he focused on making sure each one of the guests had a chance to pet him and give him a nice big hug.

Don’t spoil the surprise when you bring your family to visit the gingerbread house at Montage Resort – keep the gingerbread doghouses under wraps!  That way you can watch their reactions as their eyes go from the tall roof line of the gingerbread house, to the six foot tall candy canes on either side of the front door, and finally to the doghouses with the names “Jonas” and “Monty” written in icing on the top.

House 3


The Prescription for Happiness- The Montage Day Pass

What do you do when you are completely frazzled or just plain worn out?  I was in that state myself a few weeks ago because in the span of a three week period, I had two separate weeks of grueling meetings in LA and a total of seven days of company here at home in between.  Visitors warm the soul but can wear you out at the same time. The prescription to clear up my condition was a “be good to Nancy day.”

A “be good to yourself day” is just as it sounds.  Here are the parameters:

Do whatever you want when you want to.
Eat whatever you want.
Rules are suspended for the day.
No clocks or watches – be in ‘real’ time.
No checking email.
No appointments unless it falls under “do whatever you want.”
Nurture yourself in whatever form that takes.
Let everything else simply wait because it will all be there later.

The first thing that came to my mind for my “be good” day was the Montage Spa.  My girlfriends were out of town or working so I was on my own. When I inquired about a day pass, there came a welcome surprise.  Guess what? Two crisp twenty dollar bills opened the door to the wellness center for classes, the gym, both indoors and outdoors pools and the “Art of Spa” in the ladies lounge area -this had to be best value in Park City.  I was in.

My prescription for happiness was:

The indoor pool. The mosaic tiles reminded me of the beautiful pool at Hearst Castle, and I had been dying to swim at Montage since I first laid eyes on it. I ended up swimming for half an hour when the plan was just to take a dip.

Nap on the lounge chair.  The outdoor deck with the amazing view was another option but this was an indoor day.

The Art of Spa: Steam room, followed by a cold Vichy shower, then the sauna, whirlpool, and relaxation on comfy lounge chair.

Ladies lounge and meditation room:  Wrapped in the soft silky robe, I was greeted with a glowing fire in the fireplace.  I chose an overstuffed chair in the corner, made a cup of earl grey tea and while it steeped, I grabbed a bite of dried fruit and a fig bar to nibble on.  Pulling a cozy fuzzy blanket over me, I sunk into the chair, read and simply enjoyed the quiet.

What is not to like about this day?  I think I will have to change the name to “be great to Nancy day.”  My prescription for happiness has been filled.

Has yours?