I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, December 12, 2016

Adventures in Gingerbread Land

Hi! Nope, sorry, not a fun Kringle Market post [maybe later in the week]---but instead a tale about my gingerbread house experience. Ho ho ho. [sorry.]
For many years my children and I made a gingerbread house together. Over the years we made little cottages, surf shacks, ski lodges, and a lighthouse. We had windows made of candy glass, with lights inside. But in recent years, as my kids got older, their Decembers were too busy, usually filled with exciting ski weekends and other projects. And no gingerbread house. I admit I was very sad about that.
So this year when I saw the kits at Michael's Crafts, I decided I would make my own gingerbread house.

"It will be wonderful," I told myself. "No childish teasing and bickering. No little sticky hands in  the royal icing, no garish gumdrops and candy canes!" My gingerbread house would be a work of art, all brown crispy cooky walls and white spun sugar icing. My house would be in the Swedish style, sophisticated yet adorable. Neutral, natural. I had stars in my eyes, Christmas glow in my heart.


Last week I opened the box.
I carefully drew my design on each section.

I fired up the hot glue gun and stuck the little house together.

And in the box I found a big tube of white royal icing. Yes I used it, despite years of perfecting my own recipe that has 100% success rate.
Omigosh, what a mistake! The store-bought icing was too thick to nicely flow from the pastry tip, too dry to stick on the walls---but too wet not to sag and droop.

I was out of coarse decorating sugar so I ''covered'' my flaws with white Martha Stewart glitter! Glitter fixes everything. Right? And if Martha made it...well.

Probably you can tell from the hot glue gun part that this is not an edible gingerbread house. Really, no one wants to actually eat a stale confection that has been sitting on the table for a month, gathering pug fur and dust. So glitter and hot glue are fine. (If you have your heart set on gingerbread, make a batch of little Gingerbread Boys to actually eat.)

I almost tossed it out. Then I dressed it up with  pine twigs. Is it a FAIL? I haven't decided yet. My audience here has been politely very silent.

I did find an interesting tutorial, from the White House pastry chef, of all people. Seems I should have decorated the walls and roof flat [no dripping!], waited a day for the icing to dry firm, and then put it together. Huh. Never tried that. Next time!


And here's a link to a beautiful blog, where the designer creates her own perfect village. HERE
Someday I'm going to make a gingerbread Noah's Ark. But next year I think I'll just try another little cottage.


Do you have  special family tradition for the holidays? Something you do or did with the kids or grandkids? My favorite--not a craft--was taking the kids ice skating at Rockefeller Center on the day their school let out/ half day---for the hols. Magic. Once it even snowed.



gone to the beach...

note: all the pretty houses and Rockefeller Center are from Pinterest and/ or Google images.


  1. It's a perfectly wonderful little Gingerbread house. I do like the idea of decorating before putting the walls up.

  2. Well, having never attempted to put together a gingerbread house myself I don't think I'm qualified to comment... The idea to decorate the pieces first does look like a good idea, though. And if you're not going to eat it, you can cheat and use all kinds of craft supplies! I don't think yours came out too badly. I probably would have kept adding stuff trying to fix it and ended up with a hot mess! Now that you've shown us the way I might try one next year.

    Mo is adorable (as always) in his antlers. I love the bell dangling from one side! Makes him look dashing!

  3. You can always add 'Smarties" M&M's for a bit of colour. Little coloured balls [cake decorations] from the Supermarket. My DIL had a Gingerbread Christmas tree last year. It was 10"tall sprinkled with icing sugar. Easier to make than a house.

    1. Oh, cute idea! I have a set of nesting cookie cutters that will make a 'tree' if stacked - but only about 4" or 5" tall. If you were having a dinner you could make a forest of little trees as a table centerpiece/runner - and eat them for dessert!

  4. I think it is charming and made with loving hands! Mo, you never feel to charm.

  5. Sorry - meant to say "fail to charm!"

  6. I rather like it. It looks as though it's withstood a winter storm. It has strength! I tell you what, now that we know, it seems so obvious to decorate the house before assembling it, duh. But, it would not have occurred to me to do it that way.

    What fun to go skating at Rockefeller Center. I don't think we had any yearly traditions we adhered to for the holidays. One of my fondest memories now is of my Mom baking spritz cookies and cursing a blue streak because the dough often stuck to the press instead of releasing onto the baking sheet. Boy could she hurl expletives. The memory makes me laugh now, but at the time all of us kids went running for cover, lol.

    Mo sure does look cute in his antlers.


    1. House: LOL, damned with faint praise, as my mother always said. But I don t have the heart to toss it in the bin.

      I think the cooky baking is often an issue. I do remember one year my mom was baking tons of cookies for a party, my dad was eating them as fast as she d take them out of the oven! And she got so mad she threw the cookie tray on the kitchen floor, said she d never bake another cooky. Then burst into tears. [terrifying for us at ages maybe 5 and 6?] She never baked another cooky tho, and sold all her vintage cooky cutters to a flea market friend. In later years my dad and I always made the cookies, and darned if when I went to college, mom didn t sell all OUR cutters too. That woman could hold a grudge, smiling all the while. My dad made me a star and a tree and heart that year, out of aluminum roof flashing. I still have them.

      My family don t really eat cookies now, but if I make fancy decorated cookies for Xmas Eve dinner, I always also make a batch of chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal, to be eaten right away.
      PS the trick w press cookies is to use margarine so that the dough is not too hard and slips out easily. Do you make cookies, Kel?

    2. NO, don't toss it. It really is cute.

      Lol! Your Mom! I was feeling bad for her...and then, not! It was scary when they became unreasonably mad, right? I bet you'd love to still have the cutters she sold. Have you ever showed us the ones your Dad made?

      I have done traditional Christmas cookies a few times. I mostly make biscotti these days. Kind of time consuming and you sure don't get the yield you get with a regular batch of cookies. I started giving them as gifts, and now everyone expects them, dang it. I should change it up to something easier.

      Thanks for the margarine tip, and thanks for sharing the story about your Mom. It's a good one!

    3. I have about 300 cooky cutters so I d guess I replaced the gone ones, and then some. The first ones she threw out were the aluminum ones with the red or green wooden handles. I m not sure I ever showed my dad s handmade cutters, they don t look like much, but f course I treasure them. I have showed my big collection of antique PA tin cutters, all weird shapes, like scissors, a camel, a cat, and a swan , I ll try to find the post for you. And I ve showed my collection of heart cutters and molda, maybe 3o or 40, all quite antique or vintage.

  7. Well, did you at least have fun doing it?...LOL It is very quaint. Do you know I have never made one! The girls and I were always into decorating cookies. They loved it! By the way, my floats are attached to the ceiling by wire and white cuphooks but eye screws would be even better. You should do that with your floats. :) Happy Season! Kit


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