Gingerbread houses

A friend of mine, Karen, pointed me in the direction of a delightful blog, A peek inside the fishbowl, by a fellow Ottawanian. I was inspired to organize my December calendar after reading her 25 days of Christmas challenge. My calendar is now officially loaded with a fun activity for each and everyday, though I have yet to create funky envelopes to hold the day's events. Thankfully I brought out my fabric advent calendar with the tiny pockets I like to fill with stickers, cars and odd ball dollar store items. Monkey boy and lil bug receive instant gratification with counting down the days on our advent calendar and I know that I have something extra up my sleeve for their day.

I started the countdown to Christmas off with a bang. Day 1 and 2 were occupied with creating a gingerbread house. As kids, my sister and I rarely received a gingerbread house kit. If memory serves me correctly, I think the few we tried were pretty awful looking or never structural sound. Yet I felt ambitious this year. I'm not working, I have a desire to create and bake, and I want to share special moments with my kids. So I figured how hard could it be to make a gingerbread house from scratch. I poked around the internet for directions, recipes and templates. I meshed some information together and decided to plow headfirst into the project. The kids helped me prepare the dough. It was a hoot to see them mixing the enormous pile of dough. Monkey boy's running commentary regarding texture and colour kept me entertained.

The only glitch was the dough was too dry. I knew I couldn't roll it out, there was absolutely no way it would stick together. I had this huge mound of dough (the recipe called for 9 cups of flour) and I wasn't about to start over again or let it go to waste. Crap what should I do? Well, call my mom of course. With rolling pin in hand (our rental place was devoid of one), my mom came over, suggested I try adding milk in small batches while she occupied the kids. It worked enough for me to roll out the dough on a cookie sheet and have it more or less stick together.

After the kids were in bed, I cut out the house shape and baked the dough. While assembling the two houses, I realized I probably should have copied a template off the internet rather than create my own. The pieces fit together fine for monkey boy's house. The problem rested in the aesthetics and the lack of dough for lil bug's house. Let's just say that it is a good thing I found a fantastic icing cement recipe which would hold the patchwork roof together on her house.

Upon waking the next day, monkey boy was itching to decorate his house especially after glimpsing the assembled product on the dining room table in the morning. By 9 am the kids and I were decorating the houses and working on a mini-sugar buzz for ourselves.

It was fun watching them decide how to decorate. Their stamina was limited as was my selection of candies. However for a 2 and 4.5 year old they did pretty good.