It started snowing Christmas night, so I guess you could say we got a white Christmas. Although 24 hours and 16 inches later... Yeah. We just got a bit of snow.

I'll Be Home For Christmas

My Christmas present from my mom this year was a flight home to the US to spend the holidays with my family.

If there's one thing that sums up the holidays at our house, it's eating. Between all the different family get togethers, we probably make enough food to feed a small army.

But I took advantage of my time at home by doing what I may do best - baking.

I didn't bring over all of my baking tools and supplies to the UK, so I was looking forward to having a mixer and pastry bags at my fingertips! At home, I'd usually bake cupcakes about every two weeks or so, so I had almost 3 months of not baking that I had to catch up on! And I'm pretty sure I accomplished that in spades.

The best part of being home though is spending time with my family and friends.

Winter Wonderland

After the Chocolate Festival, we decided to venture over to Hyde Park, where the Winter Wonderland was taking place. Basically it was a HUGE Christmas-themed fair with rides and a little German-style village full of eateries and shops. Jennifer, Andra, Yanan and I spent the afternoon enjoying the festive atmosphere, as well as a few German sausages.

I even managed to get up the courage to ride the roller coaster! Sure, it was small, but when you hate roller coasters as much as I do, it's quite the accomplishment to be proud of!

Chocolate Festival

After exploring the exhibition space for Made in Brunel, we decided to walk up the street a few blocks to the Chocolate Festival that was taking place.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a chocolate festival, because I could only visualize, well, chocolate bars.

But instead we discovered TONS of booths with all sorts of chocolate faire. From spicy chocolate, to dark, to white, to hot chocolate. If there was a food item made with chocolate, it was there.

The air around the festival smelled not only of chocolate, but of cookies and pastries as well. And even though it was bitterly cold outside, you just felt warmer walking through all the rows of tents.

I decided to indulge myself and get a warm crepe filled with Belgian dark chocolate and bananas. And it was pretty much amazing. (If you remember my earlier post, I've really taken a liking to crepes - although I don't eat them that often!)

For someone like me who loves baking, this festival was awesome. Because at least half of the booths were baked goods that utilized chocolate rather than just chocolatiers.

And even though I knew everything would probably taste amazing, I think the best part was just looking at everything all organized and wrapped up on the tables. The presentation on many of the treats was just as extravagant as the treats themselves. It was really hard not to walk away with anything more than my crepe - because I was certainly tempted! Especially with the monster cookies all stacked up!

There's Beauty in the Breakdown

Every year, Brunel's design students put on an exhibition called Made In Brunel.

The show specifically highlights the work of the undergraduate product design students, but also features some of the MA students as well.

As a part of the planning committee for the postgraduate Made In Brunel team, we went down to the Bargehouse, which is right on the Thames by the OXO tower.

The Bargehouse is pretty awesome as a gallery space because it's kinda run down. But in a cool way. There's graffiti inside, exposed pipes, peeling paint, cracked windows, and old hardwood floors. It's a bit decrepit - but it will make for an AWESOME exhibition. I had fun just wandering through all four floors of the space just taking pictures of the remnants of past exhibitions and all the different rooms. I especially enjoyed taking photos of all these random chairs I kept finding throughout the space.

Seriously can't wait to transform this space!

Marks & Stencils

So I've been a pretty big fan of Bansky for a few years of now. I think I'm really just jealous that he's able to paint on the streets and get away with it. So I was pretty stoked to hear that there was a new Banksy-curated exhibition in Central called Marks & Stencils. The name is a play off of a chain of stores here in the UK called Marks & Spencer.

I went with my friend Cillian and met up with my friend Amber and we went to check out the space. Needless to say, I was pretty much in awe. I love graffiti. Not the gross nasty tagging and scribbling that most delinquents do, but I'm talking about REAL graffiti art. There's something pretty cool about creating art in public spaces.

The sad fact is that even though most of these graffiti artists do some amazing pieces, it is still illegal and so most of them go by pseudonyms. Banksy himself has yet to be revealed. Every now and then though you can find some great art by these artists and they're definitely worth checking out.

If you can't go see any street art shows in your area, you could watch Exit Through the Gift Shop. It's an awesome film about street art and Banksy and totally worth checking out.

And if ever decides to stop raining in this country, I'm planning on doing a Banksy hunt through all of London to find all of his pieces that are left throughout the city. Get excited!