Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Gingerbread House That Wouldn't Let Me Sleep- All Done!

First things first. I hope y'all had a fabulous Christmas and have recovered from the wonderful chaos the day always brings. In the spirit of the season, and more likely because I don't want it to be over, I've made a decision. Historically, Christmas was celebrated for twelve days- starting on December 25th and running until January 6th. Because I'm all about historical accuracy (*cough, cough*), I feel it's my civic duty to carry on this tradition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. So,until the 6th rolls around, I'm still going to be posting about "Christmasy Stuff". I knew you'd understand and support me- that's why I adore you.
So here's where we left off with my gingerbread house. Everything is hot glued together to industrial wall strength standards. Ain't nothing gonna break off this baby. Now for the fun part- decorating!
 Royal icing is really the only way to go here, folks. It's a type of frosting made with egg whites that dries rock hard (like candy). This is a good thing because it keeps all your hard work from being smudged as the days go by. Here's what I use- Wilton's Meringue Powder (another term for dried egg whites). It works like a charm and that way I don't have to do the whole slimy egg white separating thing. The royal icing recipe comes with every can, so just follow the steps and it'll turn out perfect.
Here's what the royal icing looks like when it's ready to use. It takes about 7-9 minutes to beat it to the right consistency, so if you have one, your KitchenAid will be a godsend here. I ended up adding one extra tablespoon of water to my icing to get it just right. Don't worry if you have to do the same, your icing will still dry nicely on your gingerbread house.
I folded back the cuff of my piping bag and loaded it up about 3/4 full. I've used disposable piping bags in the past and, without a doubt, they rock! So much easier when it comes to cleaning up. Unfortunately, I forgot to replenish my stock from last year. No worries, I still had my cloth bags and they were willing to step in.
Just like I promised, this #18 star tip did a dynamite job covering up all that hot glue.
I love how royal icing sticks exactly where you put it. Even though I was piping under the eaves, not a bit of it slid down or dripped onto other parts of my house.
Ta Da! Now that the basic work was all done, it was time to get down to business.
As you can tell - I used my ruler and spent many hours making sure the shingles all lined up perfectly - NOT! I just got after it and used some clear sugar sprinkles on the roof to give it that "snow covered" look.
Here's where I'm keeping it real. I wasn't totally loving my window on the door - in the kindest of words, it looked wonky. And the heart didn't look anything like the cute one I was envisioning in my brain. I was distracted,thinking these deep thoughts, when I accidentally smooshed the side of the door with my hand.
 This is why I love working with royal icing. It's very forgiving when it comes to this kind of drama. All I had to do to fix it was take a butter knife and gently scrape off everything I didn't like. It was almost as if it had never happened.
And I was able to do this instead. I ended up liking this version of the front door so much better and you can't even tell where I patched everything up. I'd like to see Bob Vila try and top that kind of skill.
And here she is in all her glory. It's been over ten years in the making, but I have to say, I love how it turned out. I've noticed something, though, in the past few days since I finished this house. New Jersey humidity is a factor I hadn't considered when making this baby. The walls seem to be "soaking" it in and bowing a little bit under the weight of the roof. When making these in the future, I should probably reconsider the overall pattern and add some kind of internal structural support. Either that or make sure I buy my hot glue sticks in bulk.

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