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The gingerbread sub-division

If you lived here, you’d be home by now.

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Gingerbread houses.  They are not something to take lightly.  Holy cow, what an undertaking.  I remember decorating these with my Mom and siblings every year –  I don’t remember Mom staying up till 2am the night before cutting and baking all the pieces.  It’s possible that the reason I don’t remember this is that Mom is a lot better at time management than I am, but I choose to believe it’s because I was sleeping through the boring part just like my kids did.

Mom always used the recipes and instructions out of these books.  I have the complete set, (not sure I can describe the joy one feels when they find the entire library of craft books their mother used for all their childhood projects at the flea market for 10 bucks.  Sweet.) and went straight to them when I decided to do this.  One look at the gingerbread recipe (I have to use the candy thermometer? Really?) and I went to the net to find something easier.  What can I say?  I’m lazy.

My search led me here, which is just about the weirdest cookie recipe of all time.  It says right across the top “cook time: 2 hours”, and I guess it was my bad to assume they meant that’s how long it would take from start to finish.  If you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find that they want you to cook this stuff at 275 for two hours.

The hell?

I’ve been making cookies for a long time.  Never have I heard such nonsense.  When the recipe had me start out making whipped cream, I should’ve known they were cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs right then and found a different one.  In the end, I cut a little cookie out of the dough and baked it at about 375 for 10 min and it worked out just fine.  Who comes up with these things?  And who doesn’t bother to read an entire recipe before she makes 9 cups of dough?  And who doesn’t just use the one her mother used for 30 years that she already knows comes out tasting good and is strong enough to hold up a house?  Anyway – onto the pictures.


By the time the kids woke up, this is what the gingerbread fairy had left in the kitchen – 3 bases, and 3 little stacks of house parts.  Violet immediatly went back to her room and switched her princess nightgown for these cookie jammies.  We’re all about dressing appropriately for an activity around here.

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Mom and Dad do the actual construction, while our eager little helpers crowd around, bumping the cardboard every 4 seconds. (I think you can tell a lot about a person, based on whether they use 72 blocks to prop up every part of their house, or the just stand it up and frost it and hope for the best.  For the record, they all remained standing.  Even with Earthquake Jonas in the room.)

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All put together and awaiting the delicate decorating hand of a four year old.

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At this point we took a break to decorate something like 83 dozen cookies.  Details and 47,000 pictures of that party can be found on the other blog.  Doing this gave the houses a couple of hours to set up, and when we went back to decorate they were strong enough to survive the kids.


Hmm.  Maybe just *one* more orange slice over here….

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The back of V’s house.  She completely surprised me with the happy face.  I love this kid.

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These two are “true loves” and they are “laying in the grass, looking at the clouds together.”  Joe made the one on the left.  Love that nose.

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The m&m’s here are a “giant snake that’s sneaking up on the true loves.”  It’s not all sunshine and roses with these houses.

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Jonas’s house. He was very interested in getting as much candy and green sugar as possible on the lawn, not so much interested in anything else.  Roof design by Joe.  (Whoa – what happened to Violet’s back there?  Mice?)

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And the house I made to give away.  Joe made that snowman for me out of my giant homemade marshmallows.  Lawn sprinkles by Jonas.  After we were done with the cookies, we dumped all the spilled sugar and chips and sprinkles that were under his rack into one bowl and called it the “party mix”.  Jonas seemed to think my house needed a bit more of a “party” vibe.

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Last one – artsy extreme close up of the roof.  These gumdrops look so pretty, and taste so awful.  Spice drops – I smite thee, spice drops.  How on earth do you defend a red, sugared, gummy candy that tastes like black jelly-beans?  Bleck.

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And that’s how we ended up with a gingerbread sub-division on our kitchen table.  Quick poll – does everyone out there agree that these things are to be eaten?  Because every single craft book or website I consulted during the great recipe hunt then had an icing recipe (we won’t even go into my panic attack when I read these.  Hopefully nobody will get salmonella.) and a section on “preserving your gingerbread house.”  The hell?  Preserving?  Like then you put it away and take it back out next year as part of your Christmas decoration.  Does this not seem like the absolute meanest form of kid-torture you’ve ever heard of?  I’d like to take a moment right here, to thank my Mother for never suggesting we “preserve” our houses.  For the love.

We’ve been eating these for breakfast.  Tis the season (to find your fat jeans.)

I hope everyone out there is behaving themselves.  Santa’s watching! 🙂


Get ’em while they’re young

That way, they don’t have time to decide that whatever it is you’re doing isn’t “cool”.  You’re the Mom! EVERYTHING you are doing is cool!  Neat-o!  Something they want to do RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND!  Take advantage of that enthusiasm.  What they lack in fine-motor skills, they more than make up for in a desire to learn.  Observe –

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Why, yes!  That is the Twink with pink yarn and ginormous needles!

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I looooooove the little tongue-out I’M CONCENTRATING! look on her face here.  It was a little tricky, teaching her to knit in an entirely different way than I do, but I figure if armpit knitting is good enough for Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, than it’s good enough for my girl. 😉

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Of course, now I’ve got her brother following me around, “helping” me with my yarn (ie: creating the biggest knot known to man.)  Sorry, kiddo, it’s still fingerpaints and sidewalk chalk for you.  We’ll work on the crafts that involve math after you master POOPING IN THE POTTY! (Sorry, my Mom blog seems to have spilled over a bit into the craft side.  Tomorrow I’ll try to post about the 398479384738 sewing projects I’ve been doing, *without* using the word “Poop”. Promise.)

Easy recon and a window update…

First the recon –

I am more comfy wearing pants or capris than skirts or dresses. Especially when I’m hot and sweaty. Right now, all the female readers larger than a size 6 are nodding their heads. The rest of you – don’t worry about it.

Problem is, I loves me the dresses and skirts. I don’t really ever look at any other department when I’m cruising through Old Navy. I’m a girly girly girl, and my skirt wardrobe just keeps growing and growing.

What to do? Well, I had a brainstorm while shopping for a slip. I wandered from lingerie to pj’s and got a pair of off-white, soft jersey fabric pants. I cut them off right above the knee, and now I wear them under all my skirts, not just the white ones. Problem solved.

Why am I telling you all this? Do I just enjoy the humiliation of exposing the truth about my undergarments online? Well, there is that. But also, there’s this –

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Look! I cleaned my floor so we don’t have to do all our photo shoots outside!

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The pants were almost solid cream jersey, but on one leg down at the bottom there were these big pink flowers. I thought that was too pretty to just throw in the trash.

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Yes. My need to save stuff “just in case” extends to the cut-off legs of pajama pants.

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I cut it to the right length, made a casing on the top, threaded elastic through, (sound familiar? Here we have the description of every single one of my sewing projects… ever.) and voila! Cute tube top for little miss “I refuse to wear sleeves ever again.” At least with this we’ll get a little relief from the all tank tops all the time parade that’s been going through here lately.

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Three pictures a little overkill for such a simple project? I couldn’t help it – she was being such a ham. I took somewhere in the neighborhood of 47, so be thankful I was able to pare them down to just these.

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In other news, the window is now full color –

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I swear, it actually makes the octopus one seem boring.

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As you all know, I’ve been planning to now go in and add layers of color, textures, etc. More dots like in those hearts. Swirls of clear on top of the color to give it dimension, etc. But it’s just so friggin awesome already, and also so busy, now I’m second guessing myself. Anyone wanna weigh in here? I usually feel this way when I’m painting, too, and then I go for it and love it so much more when I’m done. So it’s possible I’ll look back at these pics in a week and think “Look how boring it was! I’m so glad I added these details!” Or it’s possible that it’ll look exactly the same because I’ll decide it’s gorgeous already and I still have my room to clean before Joe gets home.

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Last one. Well, for now.

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Can you see how it makes her room pink?  Jonas’s is this amazing calm blue.  Violet’s is pink pink pink.  Not the most restful shade, but she’s so unbelievably happy with it.  I’m Rockstar Mommy (for now.  Until I force her to wear a tshirt somewhere.)

So – opinions?  Do it up?  Leave well enough alone?  I’m too close – I need outside input.

Blog Hiatus

I’m off to Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Venice, Rome, Barcelona, and Fuerteventura.   Yeah, I know.   A little jealousy is normal in this situation, just try not to let it eat you alive. 😉

When I get back, Joe leaves, so theoretically there could be tons of crafting to post about.  With nobody to hang out with in the evenings, I could become a knitting machine!  I could paint the huge glass balcony doors!  I could finally do that Jonas painting for his room!  I could make quilts for everyone, alter all my “I bought this because it was on clearance, but it doesn’t actually fit me” clothes, make dresses for the Twink, and reorganize all my crafting supplies.

(Probably what will actually happen is I’ll be ranting a lot on my other blog about how difficult life is as a single parent to two terrorists.  Who has energy for crafting after 14 hours of saying NO and PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PUT YOUR BROTHER DOWN!  So if this place becomes just a memory, that’s where you can find me.)

Ciao for now!