Friday, November 20, 2009

Flashback: Gingerbread House 2008

My story starts with yours truly planning a trip to Milwaukee to visit Kari last December. My driver’s license is only used to get into bars and onto planes, so I am a regular patron of the MegaBus. Hard to beat $7 rides to Wisco, especially when the drop off is just a couple blocks from where Kari lived at the time. This day happened to be one of the coldest days of the year, which caused me to wait inside Union Station rather than on the sidewalk where the bus typically picks up. No worries, I’d be able to see the bus pull up. I got there early, and waited. . .and waited. . .and waited. Part of that cheap $7 ticket means MegaBus is not too advanced with automated updates and location tracking so I really couldn’t know much more than calling in and hearing that there were no reports of delays. Convinced my bus had disappeared into thin air and unable to sit on the steps in the entryway any longer for fear my feet would fall off (I didn’t wear winter boots because, “it’s not like I am going to be walking around outside for too long”), I headed down to the Amtrak, bought a quick ticket for the next ride and jumped on the train. Finally making it to Milwaukee was one thing, but the intense cold pretty much ensured that we would be staying in for the evening. Hence, the first annual Gingerbread House decorating party was formed. We spent way too much money in the candy aisle at the grocery store and then proceeded to spend the next 6 hours on our little project. The breakdown follows. PS. I realized on my way home that the new MegaBus pick up and drop off was a block away from where I was waiting. It came and went, probably on time, while I sat inside the doors freezing my bones for an extra 45 minutes. Woe is me.

Gingerbread is actually a loose term – we used graham crackers as the base and glued pretzel logs to form a log cabin. The glue is powdered sugar icing and we went through quite a bit over the course of the night! It got sort of messy but we would just call any extra drizzles "piles of snow" and "icicles."

After the house was built, we moved into Phase 2. The aerial view is really just a conglomeration of sprees, snowcaps, kisses and gumdrops. After finishing though, we realized we forgot to add a chimney!

The front door has a cake decoration wreath and pretzel stick border. Lamppost candy canes with gumdrop lights stand tall on either side of the entrance. One side of the house has a picture window made with Andes mints that looks into the Christmas tree set up inside. The other side highlights two gumdrop candles in the windows. Licorice and stretched out gum drops helped out by looking like strings of lights and garland.

Phase 3 involved setting the scene. Pretzels formed a fence, and mini candy canes led into a snowy walkway. Green gumdrops not only acted as bushes, but also helped prop up the pretzels when a wad of icing wasn’t enough. Coconut was liberally applied to the whole shebang to act as new fallen snow and a red hot border was added. A snowman on the side of the house, a firepit and stack of logs and a sled round out the scene. We were also proud of our deciduous tree invention – we made popcorn balls, dyed them green and stuck them atop pretzel logs for a little whimsy.

I would say our 2008 house had an overload of material (I don’t know if I could have lifted it after all was said and done), but it was a lot of fun to do. It took me back to when I used to do Gingerbread houses when I was little. Or rather, my mom would do them and I would try not to wreck it. I am excited to announce that this post leads us into a 2009 Gingerbread House Decorating Contest! I have invited several participants to take part in a “long distance” contest and will have them send in their photos by December 21 for posting. I’ll have a poll open for a few weeks to give readers the chance to pick the winner! I’d be the judge, but am selfish and want to participate myself! Stay tuned for more information and get ready to be inspired (and get hungry!)

It's going to be fun, but if Kari and I are going to pull another all nighter on our 2009 house I may need to start resting up. I think her cat, Theo, perfectly sums up how we felt after we were finally done:

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