Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Winter Wonderland Gingerbread House

When I was a young girl, I remember visiting my Great Aunt and Uncle's house a few days before Christmas. They lived nearby and we actually visited them throughout the year, but some of my most vivid memories of my visits are of their home during the holidays. I loved the way their home was decorated with old world charm and most especially they always had a REAL Christmas tree as opposed to the artificial one we always had. Sometimes the tree was still living with its roots balled up in burlap and set into a large aluminum basin to be planted outside after the New Year. It stood in their home with purpose, as if it were reveling in finally knowing its fate and was proud to be put to the task. But even more vivid in memories is the way their home smelled during the holidays. To this day, I can close my eyes and recall the wonderful scents of their home. It smelled of snow and pine and sugar and spices. Just lovely. I'm quite certain I had my first nibble of a gingerbread house right there in their family room beside that proud Christmas tree. I think these happy, charming Christmas memories of my Aunt and her house have a lot to do with why I always want to make a gingerbread house for Christmas in my own home. I don't always get around to it every year, but it's always on the list.

This year, I had grand plans of making a gingerbread house from scratch like I did a few years ago and then sharing the whole process here with step by step photos, but I realized at one point last week that it simply wasn't going to happen. I even bought a fresh bottle of molasses, too. Alas, even with the best intentions, plans can easily fall by the wayside. We still managed to "make" a gingerbread house this year, though, by using a kit that I had from last year that we didn't get around to assembling in time for Christmas. Talk about plans falling by the wayside, eh?

My youngest daughter and I assembled and decorated our gingerbread house on Sunday. It's so adorable, if I may say so myself.

click photo to enlarge

We used the sugar candy that came with the kit, but also embellished the house with gumdrops, candy canes, starbursts, smarties, and licorice. The latter three are left over from Halloween!

We laid the finished house on a silver cake stand, and filled the edges with granulated sugar for a snow covered ground.

Then we sifted about a tablespoon of powdered or confectioner's sugar over the house so it would look like a dusting of fresh snow had recently fallen. And that's how we built our own little pre-fab winter wonderland gingerbread house. :)

Even though the gingerbread kit was bought in December 2008, the expiration date on the box is August 30, 2009, which isn't even really that long ago. I think I may just take a bite of the house and take my chances. ;)

Just not the big orange gum drop in the back of the house . . .

click photo to enlarge

What holiday sights or scents bring to mind vivid Christmas or other holiday memories for you?


  1. Christine, I love the way you've described your memories of your Aunt & Uncle's house at the holidays. Steve & I put together a prefab gingerbread house this year. It was a lot of fun! And our dog enjoyed it almost as much as your cat did :)

  2. LOL! You made me laugh like crazy with the picture and the comment on the orange gum drop! *G* This time of year is always bittersweet. My Mom would have been 60 exactly one week from Christmas this year. But, I love to stand back after hubs has put the lights on our tree (real tree) and watch the kids pick and choose what ornaments they place on the tree. It's especially entertaining because Son has no limit or control and would place EVERY. SINGLE. ONE on the tree if we let him. *G* It's also fun to watch the cats inspect the tree and packages underneath it. Especially since one keeps stealing the pipe cleaner candy canes the kids made last year off the bottom of the tree. *G*

  3. Hi Lori! I have to admit the prefab gingerbread houses are just as much fun as the from scratch ones. The decorating is the best part, anyway! The homemade ones just smell better.

    The funny thing about the cat licking the gumdrop is that I didn't even think cats liked sugar! They're very rarely interested in human food!

    Brandy, I'm sorry that this time of year without your mom is so sad for you. I can tell that you treasure the warm memories of her that you have. Hugs to you.

    That's so funny about Son's tree decorating habits. My girls used to do the same things, in fact, I open the big box of ornaments with the same quote every year, "Remember, we got a small tree this year, so not EVERY ornament needs to get hung. Little ones at top, big ones on bottom, fill in the spaces." LOL! Not only would they want to hang ALL the ornaments, but they'd also ALL be hung at THEIR eye level. Right?

    I gotta ask.... do your kitties love to throw up on the tree skirt, too? I swear mine are like, "Oh look! She put down the puke mat! Let's go puke on it." :/

  4. OMG that second picture cracks me up!

    We put FIVE ornaments and about 7 plastic stars on our tree. It is VERY BARE.

    My cats puke on the tree skirt too, in fact, I didn't even put the skirt out this year.

  5. No, our kitties don't get sick on the tree skirt. However, I have to replace 4 or 5 ornaments every day when we come downstairs, back on the tree. *G*
    Supposedly studies have shown that cat don't taste sweet. I say they LIE. *G*

  6. Happy Holidays!!! The smell of my mom and dad's cooking always is a good smell. When they roast that pig, it'll be a good night :) The kids always get all giggly when they lay the pig out on the table... it always gets a reaction. No particular memory, but just the sense of family and togetherness for that one night. It's nice...

  7. Lovely post of your Christmas memories, Christine. I couldn't stop laughing when I saw that picture of your cat, I'm sure he loved that gum drop. ;P

    I have wonderful childhood memories of a very large family celebrating in the country at my grandparents' farm. Nine uncles, aunts, countless cousins, travel and my grandmother's cooking! Swimming in the river & the beach and climbing trees while we waited to be fed and enjoyed it all! :) But, I also have newer memories of Christmas trees, snow and the smells of cinnamon and spice. Ahhh!

  8. Beautiful Gingerbread House Christine! Just beautiful!

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. I hope it is everything wonderful for you and your family..

    All Best

  9. LOL ~ your cat is so dainty. A dog would have taken a big ol' bite out of the roof!

    When I was a kid we always went to my grandma's house in the city (Chicago) for Christmas dinner. Grandma was from Poland and spoke very little English but we would managed to talk, maybe getting help from my dad. It was such a festive atmosphere with all the aunts, uncles and cousins eating and exchanging gifts. Lots of good memories. :)

  10. The gingerbread house looks amazing (although I'm with you on the orange gumdrop :)

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  11. Merry Christmas, everyone! :)

    Lisa, sounds like you've got a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree there! I hope you were able to add a few more ornaments in the last few days. Maybe with fabric scraps?

    Brandy, I agree. I'm pretty sure he was enjoying that sugar. Unless he liked the texture, but why would he lick it in the first place? LOL

    Mariana, there's definitely something very memorable about that roasted pig set out on the dining room table, isn't there? ;)

    Hilcia, I love your childhood memories of Christmas. It sounds so different from what I grew up with... but the togetherness with family is universal. :)

    Lea, Thank you! I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas as well!

    Leslie, LOL! I'm sure a dog would just pull the whole house to the ground and devour it as fast as he could. Cats are sneaky... I'm thinking they've all been licking the darned thing for days already when I wasn't looking!

    Thanks for sharing your childhood Christmas memories! Sounds like fun!

    orannia, thanks. The house was fun to decorate. :)

    I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!

  12. Hi Christine
    That is the sweetest house I've ever seen. Love the picture of your cat. Thanks for the warm chuckle today. All the best to you & your family.

  13. Hi Mary!
    The sweetest house you've ever seen?
    Aww, thanks for the admiration. It was a joy to make and I have to agree. It is quite sweet--both figuratively and literally. ;)

    Wishing you a wonderful holiday! :)

  14. LOL, yes, that orange candy should be avoided :P

    I like your gingerbread house, it's cute :D

    I have a friend whose family make gingerbread houses from scratches every Christmas. It's really awesome, but time consuming as well...

  15. Very nice gingerbread house but yeah, this one orange gum drop should definitely be avoided. *g*

    Although I have to say, I love the last pic. It cracked me up!

  16. I love your gingerbread house! And that picture of your kitty having a taste is adorable!


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