Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Photos

I'll begin, once again with photos of that sad, old house, just outside of Dundalk Ontario, near the highway that continues to lure me to it with my camera. I'm amazed it hasn't fallen down yet. I saw many other tire tracks in the snow, so I know there are quite a few other hobby-photographers like me who feel the same way.

On a happier note, here's a shot of my step niece, Ellen, with the family cat, Sean. That's right. The cat is named Sean!

Sean decided to take over the Monopoly game at one point, acquiring both Boardwalk and Park Place, thus declaring himself the overall winner.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My 2009 Gingerbread House

Okay, I'm not going to go through ALL the steps, but here I have traced around the cardboard templates I made into the dough. This dough was about 1/4 of an inch thick.

For the tiny houses, I made the dough as thin as I could, roughly 1/8 of an inch, maybe even 1/16th. I cut around the paper templates and baked it for less time than the regular dough. I saved this step until all the regular sized pieces were baked, in case I didn't have enough dough.

Here are the tiny ones baked.

Here are some of the regular sized pieces baked and cooling.

Before assembly, I knew I wanted to try lighting the house from within, so I rigged up a couple of bright LEDs to a battery pack with a switch that could be hidden behind the house.

Now my least favorite part...assembly. I have the worst luck with Royal Icing. I found a good recipe, but I think I should have added more icing sugar. It finally set up hard enough, but I had to support the sides for hours with jars and bottles!

At long last, it was finished! You can see the other tiny one I made to the left. Making the tiny ones gave me something to do while waiting for the large one's icing to set.
I call this my least favorite part because you can't start decorating until the roof and walls are secure....and they seemed to take forever to solidify.

Here is a shot of the battery pack behind the house.

The lights are ON....and for some weird reason, the yellow "fruit-roll-ups" I used to make the window panes show up as green! The LEDs must have a strange effect on them.

Oh well, not bad for the first one I've done in about 10 years. I'll have to make them on a more regular basis to perfect my Royal Icing making skills.

Tiny Gingerbread House

I did it again! I made a tiny Gingerbread house...much better than the last one! This time I put a quarter near it for scale.

Front View
3/4 View
Back View

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

I haven't made a Gingerbread House for several years, but I plan on doing one this year. This is one I did back in 1997. I noticed, after Googling "Gingerbread Houses" images, that a lot of people don't use "Smarties" to decorate the roof......but in local bakeries, they're a standard ingredient! I guess this is because I live in Canada and most images on the web must be from U.S. bakers. I didn't realize that "Smarties" aren't the same in the States as they are here. Our "Smarties" are originally British and are similar to plain "M&Ms". Anyway, I always like to use them as pictured here to decorate the roofs of my Gingerbread Houses.

This is the tiniest Gingerbread House I ever made. I put it in a doll's house one Christmas for my children. This was probably 2001. Anyway, the little thing got destroyed by my curious daughter several months later who wanted to eat it! It was completely edible, so no harm done.

This year I'd really like to try it again, only this time use coloured sprinkles and such to decorate it! I rolled the dough REALLY thin and used a paper template. I also baked it for less time than regular thickness gingerbread. It turned out quite crispy!