Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sweet Houses

I know that I should be spending the morning looking back, reflecting and sharing what the year has brought us, but I still have holidays to share. This happened to me last year and I was left feeling that I had not quite done justice to the fun we had. So, you can choose to stay, or click away, as I am still posting about Christmas.

Each year, the girls and I make gingerbread houses. LibbyLu and I began with traditional mix, roll, cut, and bake gingerbread. It was exhausting so I began to buy kits. When our family grew, the kits became quite expensive, so I searched for alternatives. The girls have so much fun building these sweet houses that I would have gone on investing in the kits, but we discovered our current, and favorite, building with graham crackers. We choose one evening in December and lay out the candy.

With candy as our centerpiece, we ate homemade potato soup and bread.

My favorite.

I mix up some gingerbread house glue, royal icing, and we begin to put houses together. You want your icing to be thick and quick drying. I used to use meringue powder, but learned that egg whites have a few benefits. First, the girls can't eat as they frost, cutting down on some of the sugar intake that is bound to take place in this process. Second, the royal icing is tougher and dries faster.

Royal Icing

4 egg whites

4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat egg whites in clean, large bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar and cream of tartar. Beat at high speed until thickened. NOTE: You may control the thickness of the royal icing with a bit of milk to thin and bit more sugar to thicken.

Grace built her own building this year, but I still keep Cubsey and LibbyLu's basic and simple. I use a serrated knife to cut my crackers to size. It is so simply and since the graham crackers are light, the houses are easy to build.

Investing in a few special touches makes the houses special.

It was a good evening of creative work and concentration.

When I finished mine, I placed it on the cake stand in the center of the table and snapped this picture. Although the picture is of the house, I do see irrefutable evidence of candy snacking. Got you, girls!

John decided to join us again this year and the girls were thrilled. Dad is great at play and the girls love that he dives right in.

GraceLu's candy mansion is for homeless children. So pretty.

Cubsey's chimneys always sport Santa's legs. He gets stuck every year.

LibbyLu was dubbed the queen of icicles this year. Those are peace signs on the roof.

Mine is red and white. My favorite colors.

Our sweet houses (and John's) lived in the corner cabinet in dining room until Christmas Eve when they were gently placed on the table to join us for dinner.


  1. Kelly, Do you know how happy I am that you as well are seasonally challenged! I would have missed so much had you not posted these fantastical pictures. You have me already waiting for next year! What a fun tradition. Please know that I am so beyond happy to have "found" you again. I had such a difficult time remembering all of my friends when trying to reconstruct my blog. I will tell you that I have lost the friendship of a most favorite "hero" in the process that I don't think I will ever get over (JB.)I would not ever want someone to feel that towards me! I'm here! Looking forward to your posts in the New Year! Always, Elizabeth

  2. Hello kelly, I just stop by to wish you a wonderful turn of the year and all the best in 2010!

    Groeten, Corry

  3. How incredibly fun this must have been. I used to have a house that I purchased at a bakery years ago, it finally had to be tossed out....this is such a sweet post, makes me want to do this next year....Have a wonderful New Year, I enjoyed this post!

  4. I looked at all the candy and houses again and I think I have a cavity. What fun! You never do anything halfway, that's for sure :-) All the best to you and yours.


  5. Wow!!! What fun and what a creative family you are!

    I'm gonna click away now before i go into diabetic sugar shock! ;-)

    Happy New Year!!!!

  6. That is a graham cracker mansion! Ours were always little one-storey affairs.

    Happy New Years! I hope 2010 is a fantasic year for you and your family!

  7. That outhouse is classic!

    Our company's name is Outhouse, Inc. I wonder if I could commission your husband to make one of these for the holidays next year. To proudly display on the conference table.

    That would be hilarious if you ask me.

    It would be hilarious even if you didn't...! :)

  8. Hi Kelly! My kids would go nuts for this! I've never seen so much candy!!!!