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Catching up with holiday craftiness
Submitted by Pam on Tue, 12/09/2008 - 15:43
I just have to share some holiday cheer, crafty beauties, and edible art!
I spent most of the Thanksgiving weekend helping my friend Heidi make her very first gingerbread house. My part was strictly instructional - an extra pair of hands when needed for wall support, and a bit of assist with piping on frosting. She chose and applied all the candy and cookie decorations. Notice the little kitty faces in all of the windows - one little candy face to represent each of the four members of her kitty family.
I assembled the two little houses in the background - I am taking them to two very little friends to decorate next week.
Remember these - my first gingerbread house and the marshmallow men? Well, check out these little villages here, here, and here, posted earlier this season by Margit. I think I made marshmallow nisses! I love the villages Margit has shared with us. (Click on the photos in the first link so you can have a close-up view.)
Be sure to visit BeckyKay to see the beautiful gingerbread Christmas tree she created for her family. I totally disagree with her assessment of her decorating skills. I think her gingerbread tree is beautiful!
You mustn't miss... Chris's gingerbread house building party at Thanksgiving. Chris shares how she turned a near-disaster (a broken oven just before guests arrived) into a great success (by buying gingerbread house kits - no baking required). Her ability to "save the day" under circumstances that could have easily "ruined the day" inspires me. I would like to know her recipe for lemonade.
AND...she and her friends even made marshmallow men - including a James Bond version.
Diane has just finished working on a tutorial for a cookie house village for Craftstylish. If you want to make a house or little village with the children, but don't want to get into the whole gingerbread baking thing, these cookie houses could be the answer. No three or four-day project here. These can be completed in an afternoon!
Here's a fresh, new take on gingerbread houses - The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chattman.
Put a pastry chef and an architect together in the kitchen, throw in a little sugar, spice and Christmas Spirit, and you have a new direction for gingerbread houses. Photographer Alexandra Grablewski's photographic skills, paired with the authors' metuculous and colorful creations results in page after page of eye candy! If you want to try something beyond the standard gingerbread house, this would be a great place to start. (Personally, I prefer good old-fashioned gingerbread houses, the very thing the book is trying to get away from; but I have to say, I found valuable information on nearly every page.)
The book is well-written and can be understood easily, even by someone coming to gingerbreading for the first time. And those of us who have made dozens of gingerbread houses can find helpful and surprising tips on construction, assembly and decorating.
Look at how beautifully the book is laid out! Historical notes, construction schedule, and step by step assembly - it is all there. Equipment and ingredients needed - and where to find them. Discussions on fondant and pastillage, sheet gelatin, landscaping and lighting. Page after page of inspiring decorating with candy and other edibles I would have never thought of using!
Blueprints, elevation drawings, roof plans, floor plans, and there's even a complete set of templates for each classic house. A useful tool for beginner and seasoned gingerbread builders alike.
Check out this new post on cookie decorating from Baker's Banter. I have never had the desire (or courage for that matter) to try my hand at decorating cookies with glazes and piped frosting... until now! After reading this post, I am thinking I just may be able to do this. I think I will start with these lovely snowflake cookie cutters I ordered from King Arthur Flour a few years back.
This absolutely adorable melting snowman cookie is from Meaghan's blog the Decorated Cookie. If any of you out there are still working on the landscaping on your gingerbread village, just imagine this little guy melting into the snow.
Excellent vintage flower ornaments, seen at Cathy of California. They make use of the flower loom kits Cathy occasionally sells. Diane has already ordered some for the two of us to play with but so far she is the only one who has gotten to play!
I think I need to create a "Seasonal Tree" for lovely creations inspired by Hanna, Cindy and Cathy. And speaking of Seasonal Trees...
...As promised - my husband's Star Trek tree! He has been collecting Star Trek ornaments for years. Recently, he added the planets, a couple stars, and even a star-studded string garland (as a nod to string theory). The Jupiter ornament, with its red spot and the Saturn ornament, with its rings, are easy to spot. We are still looking for the perfect Earth. (Come to think of it, aren't we all!)
Since most of the ornaments are designed to plug into miniature tree lights and mini-light designs are changing, it has been getting more and more difficult (even before LED's) to find light strings that will allow us to plug in the ornaments. If anyone has any suggestions on where to get these, I'd sure appreciate it.
Happy 16 Days before Christmas!