Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gingerbread houses and other frivolities





My days have been filled with joyful uselessness. I had big plans of painting our new house, but every time I was just about to head over there it seemed crucial that I make a felted pumpkin or something like that. Dusty and I and my friend Katja with her daughter Lilly spent a day making gingerbread houses from scratch. It seemed like a really simple concept. My other friend Aimee tried to convince me to just buy a kit with all the pieces cut out, but I tend to be ambitious. The project began in the morning with a trip to the candy store. The children were armed with plastic scoops and attacked the bulk bins with fervor. When we got home with all of our ingredients we began to mix the dough. As Dusty poured in the first cup of flour he asked if he could decorate the house yet. I should have clued in at that point, but we were still relatively fresh. Once the dough is made it needs to be refrigerated for atleast an hour. Feed the kids, break up a couple of fights, clean up the flour from the floor. Then it's time to roll the dough and cut out the shapes. I downloaded some templates from the internet. If any of you read this and decide they would like to try this at home with their kids despite my warning, try a square house and not rectangular. We cut out the shapes and baked them. So far so good. By the time we got the pieces out of the oven it was about 4 o'clock and we had two five year olds who had used up all their patience. Now we are trying to give them snacks, help them roll out the leftover dough to make cookies, while finding places for the twelve parts of the 2 houses to cool off. Through out there are constant pleas to decorate the house which hasn't even been built yet. Because of the stretched attention spans I decided it was probably O.K to assemble the houses even though the parts weren't completely cooled down. After mixing 6 egg whites and 9 cups of powdered sugar we had a glue that would hold together any gingerbread house or anything else it might come in contact with. I put the glue in the pasty squeezy thingy and found there was no way to make it come out of that little hole, instead it seemed to only come out the top opening. After several attempts we ditched it and just used out hands. After assembling all the walls we began to put the roof on. Here's where things headed south. The big rectangular roof pieces were just too much for the fragile rectangular house and the whole thing started to cave in. At this point I yelled, Toooonnnyyyy! Seeing as he's a woodworker I figured he could rescue this operation. I should mention that this was Katja and Lilly's house. Not really an accident on my part to let them go first. After several failed attempts we had to remove the roof from their house. Fortunately, Lilly, who is definitely the easy going one of the two children announced that she didn't want a roof. It did have some charm and looked a little like a medieval castle ruin. Thinking that we had learned from our mistakes we began assembling our house. I guess we really didn't know what our mistakes were, so we basically just repeated them. While Katja's house was an example of convex ours was an example of concave and despite our attempt to prop the thing up with olive oil bottles, spoons, and orange juice cartons we had to abort our mission and take the thing apart. We put the pieces back on the rack and decided to let them dry for another day. On day two I reassembled the house, solo this time, but as soon as that blasted roof went on it began to fail. I valiantly tried to keep the thing upright by holding it in place with my hand for over an hour, but when I began to imagine Dusty's reaction to me destroying the whole house because I was adamant that this blasted thing would have a roof I conceded and took the roof down again. On day three I was able to put the roof pieces on. I got to take a picture (not a very good one) and ten minutes later Dusty wanted to break off the first piece to eat. Next year I buy the kit. Thanks for trying to worn me, Aimee, but some people just need to make their own mistakes.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Oh! This had me giggling because I have SO been there, done that, got the Royal Icing encrusted t-shirt! I got wise and made the house *quietly* by myself without kidlets around, then with all the proper pomp'n'circumstance brought it out pre-assembled with a large bowl of icing and candies aplenty for them to decorate. And for what it's worth, rectangles DO work but you need to keep the roof pieces smaller than the wall pieces. :)