Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gingerbread Houses and Spaghetti

I'm back! It's been a nice long break, but I'm ready to enter the blogosphere once again. I'd like to start by addressing a comment left on my blog last week. Big brother Ed would like to know how our gingerbread house decorating tradition went this year (another one of those holiday traditions - gotta love 'em!)

It went okay, though to be honest, I've been getting lazy on this one in recent years. Long, long ago, when the children were very small, I bought a Pampered Chef gingerbread house mold. The kids and I made the dough from scratch, pressed it into the mold, baked it, glued it together with homemade icing, and then the kids decorated it. I took pictures, made black and white prints, and hung a new set up in frames on the kitchen wall each year. It was an all-day project, but back then the kids and I had a lot more time on our hands, and everyone looked forward to this special event.
As the years went by, eventually I realized they actually make kits for that sort of thing. What a revelation! I started buying the kits with the prebaked pieces and the premade icing. We did this for several years, and more than once I couldn't get the house to stand up and ended up throwing away the whole thing. But this year I discovered something even better - a kit with a preassembled house. This is the easiest way to go, for sure, though it does take something away from the sense of accomplishment.

So we did decorate our gingerbread house this year, and it sat on the kitchen window throughout the month of December, as is our custom. Does anyone else out there decorate gingerbread houses? Do you buy the preassembled houses, the prebaked pieces, or bake it from scratch? Do you eat it when you're done? We keep ours on the corner window sill for a month, so we don't actually eat it, though I'm sure the kids wouldn't hesitate if I'd let them.

Another small note: thanks for the blog topic suggestion, Ed! And if anyone else out there would like to make a suggestion, please do so. Your ideas are always most welcome.

In closing, here's a quick update on my WIP (work in progress). I finished the second draft of Killing Kessler (my time travel/romance/young adult novel) right before Christmas. I had one of my critique group buddies, my sister, my 14-year-old niece, and my 13-year-old daughter read it. They all had nice things to say, but a lot of great constructive criticism, too. Now, instead of a manuscript, it feels like I've got a big bowl of spaghetti with loose ends leading everywhere and nothing really connecting. Such is progress, I suppose! I know it will all pay off in the end and result in a much better book. And a huge THANK YOU to my critiquers - you guys are the best!

Until next Sunday, happy writing, and may your coffee pot never run dry.


Sharon Mayhew said...

I'm glad to see you are back! It sounds like you are going to be busy with KILLING KESSLER. Is it a MG or a YA?

Tess said...

Hooray for finishing the book -- that's a huge step :D

And, we do the Costco gingerbread houses and I let the kids eat them right away before the candy goes all stale.

Susan Fields said...

Sharon, it's a YA. And yes, it's keeping me very busy. But I'm having a lot of fun with it. I'm really liking this romance stuff.

Tess, you're such a nice mom! I should probably do that one year and let them eat it. They always beg to, but by then it's been sitting out for a month - ick.

Velva said...

I think building ginger bread houses together is a wonderful tradition. As much I would love to embark on making one during the holidays, I have never had the courage to attempt it-Now, that my kids are so much older, it may not be happening anytime soon.

Congrats on getting further along on your book.

Susan Fields said...

Velva - if I'd known about the premade kits way back when, I probably never would have made them from scratch, but I am glad we used to do it that way. When they were young (and we had more time), it was a great way to spend the day together. Now that they're older, the best I can hope for is fifteen minutes to put on the candies.

I think I'm having blueberry buttermilk cake for breakfast one day next weekend. Thanks so much for the delicious post!

chopchop83 said...

so.....i see the tradition has been downsized somewhat from it's ambitious beginnings. am glad to see it is still around however, good for you. you do what you can do in these busy times. coral's mom has us over every year and does some sort of decorating of foodstuffs. it was getting more and more complicated every year, 2 years ago it was 3-d train engines (with a train car attached) what a project, very messy and time consuming and complex gingerbread sculptures. after some complaints she has scaled it back to much simpler projects, this year 3-d christmas trees and sugar cookies. much easier, but just as much fun.

Susan Fields said...

Hey Ed, how funny - I'm simplifying and she's getting more complicated. The kids just really like putting the candy on it anyway. I'm not even sure how many more years we'll have of that. I think I started this tradition because one year (I think I was in college - high school at least) Mom decided she and I would build a gingerbread house. We only did it once, but obviously it made an impression.