When the topic came up this year and the book came out, I blithely agreed. I did insist that the kids choose houses that, on the 4 gingerbread man scale of difficulty, rated only a 1 or 2, but otherwise I was game.
Was I deterred by the weeklong gingerbread house construction schedule provided in the book? Not at all. I thought it was a grand idea to set the kids expectations! We'll just spend an hour or two each day on the houses instead of leaping into an all-day marathon. Excellent! Did I quail when Evelyn revealed that the book was the collaboration of a baker and an architect? Why should I? I even laughed off the section titled "Historical Accuracy and Reinterpretation in Gingerbread". And that is how we ended up spending almost every waking hour of one solid week on three historically and architecturally accurate gingerbread houses.
And we didn't even finish them.
Greta: the Dawson City gold rush house
Clementine: an Adirondack cabin
Evelyn: a Victorian farmhouse
Day 1 was a shopping day. It took 3 stores to get all the ingredients and five hours of shopping. Five hours! In two of the 3 stores cashiers were prompted by the piles of candy to give me a stern look and admonish the children not to eat all the candy.
Day 2 was the day to make the gingerbread and enlarge and cut out the templates. Five batches of gingerbread dough--25 cups of flour!--later it was a lot later than I anticipated. I finished the last batch when the kids were in bed.
On the third day of gingerbreadhousemaking we baked the gingerbread. Roll, lay on the template, cut, bake. Repeat 55 times. This took so long that we baked on the fourth day, too. For walls with windows the girls crushed jolly ranchers and sprinkled them in the window holes.
Alas, if we ever do this again we'll have to research the best candy for glass because after a couple days the window glass ran leaving jagged holes. Evelyn's vandalized Victorian mansion, particularly when unlit, took on more of the flavor of Halloween than Christmas.
Day 5: Assemble houses... Some of the decorating had to be done before the assembling. 2 gallons of royal icing later...
She chose to decorate the facade with historical accuracy and my help, and
to decorate the rest a la the witch in Hansel and Gretel.
And Clem's Adirondack cabin was also coming along.
She had to patch it and let it dry before completing her house with grandma's help. She built her porch and I helped her cut and nibble the mint stick porch supports to the right length. Oh the sacrifices we mothers make.
On the left you can see the chimney bricked with cinnamon gum.