Just thinking back, there is so much I thought of after the fact. Indeed hind sight is 20/20.
Things started off very well and I was extremely excited about how the project was coming along.
The marble steps of the church were stunning.
The bibles, pews and people were done exceptionally well.
The gelatin sheet stained glass windows were flawless.
It was a gorgeous, tall open church……with not nearly enough roof support due to no interior walls.
I thought I could do a fancy balancing act with the roof pieces and hoped the royal icing would hold it all together. Not taking humidity into thought. I had issues with the roof becoming soft and splitting during the day of delivery and set up.
Really, at that point there was nothing I could do to save the roof but about an hour after leaving the Festival location I realized my mistake.
Earlier in the year due to extreme amounts of snow, the ceilling of the art gallery in Grande Prairie collapsed. Reflecting on that I could have got some blue fondant and made a tarp to go over the opening in the roof. The addition of a sign looking for donations for roof repairs to finish it off would have been perfect. Though no records would have been broken I could have at least walked away content with the project.
Like any situation that does not go as you expect you learn a lot. Making mistakes is the best way to learn what not to do. Far more then when everything goes as planned.
As always I was excited to get started on my gingerbread project for the season. I decided to go with nice bright colors, the house, somewhat traditional with a fun flare.This was my first 3 story build.
I always start with templates for all the pieces of the house. Walls are always designed first, then the roof and any accents to the build, like window boxes, steps and signs.
I have always sided my walls then did the construction of the buildings. It makes for straighter lines and less stress. The siding gets quite heavy and would slide down the walls long before the icing had a chance to dry.
I use cans to support the walls when building the structures. But be sure the icing has a good set before walking away. Especially on larger walls. I walked away too soon and have had major walls collapse and fall to the floor. A crash like that puts you many hours behind. So wait that the few extra minutes and allow the icing to really set up. Believe me, it happens! Do not rush this step.
This year I added window boxes. I like that contrast of the black and any chance I have to add greenery to the build I jump at the chance. It is the little details that really make the house unique.
And don’t forget about the sides and behind the house. Like a real yard there is landscaping on all four sides.
This was the final shot before I delivered the house to the Festival.
The house did very well at the Decorators event and placed first with the Judges and the decorators!
And not only did we completely brake all records this year as we also won the Peoples Choice award Sugar Plums sold at auction for an astounding $600!
We could not be more proud! All the hours of work are worth it when you can produce results like that!
Thanks to all who came out and supported the Festival Of Trees in Grande Prairie this season! It could not be a success without the support of the community.
Be sure to pop over to the Food Bloggers of Canada for a step by step tutorial I did on building your own one of a kind gingerbread house!
The end of summer means a lot of things to people, and for this girl, it meansgingerbread!
The emails and donation material came out a few weeks ago and I am so excited about this years Festival!
Truthfully though, gingerbread is never far from my mind, I am continually on the hunt for inspiration for the next showpiece!
And good news! After a suggestion by yours truly, this year we are going to be using bigger boards! 24 x 24 wonderful inches!
Only 2 inches bigger but that is a lot of prime gingerbread real estate to work with!
I have a rough idea of what my building will look like and for the first time I have the design and name picked out early.
I have been know to, at times push it right to the sign up deadline before I nailed down the perfect name and idea.
Feels good to be ahead of the game this year!
I stopped by The Home Depot yesterday to pick up my board and will start the sketches this evening on my 2010 competition entry.
I draw the complete house on paper then plot it out on the board. Patterns are made, then the fun begins!
This weeks shout out is to……Mr Koscielnuk, my high school drafting teacher! Little did I know, back then, that drafting would be so handy in the kitchen?!?!?! Thanks Mr. K!
Now to get down to the nitty gritty……
Because of the HIGHLY competitive nature of gingerbread competition…….I will not be talking about this years design on the blog until right before I drop it off with the Festival committee on November 16th.
I am looking at the possibility of doing a Gingerbread Cam to follow the progression of the construction so stay tuned for further details.
In the meantime, I would love to share my 2009 entry!
And this is her house.
The Sugar Shack!
I was looking for a more rustic looking entry, a change from the very colorful houses I usually create.
I love the deck and railing design, it really lends itself to the country feel of the house.
As with any construction, you need a nice strong solid base. This holds up the whole structure, make sure its strong!
I used blue and purple Nerds for the rock stucco detail.
Then I add the main floor using gingerbread pilings for support.
Now you turn your attention to other things while you let the base dry.
If you rush this step you could cause damage now that will cause a collaspe later.
I like to add a lot of little details to my houses, whatever fits the setting you are trying to create.
This time I used candles, gifts and the green wreaths you see placed around the house.
Before I put the front of the house up I need to do a touch of interior decorating, for the kids of course!
They are on eye level with these creations so I design to please not only the Judges but love when the kids hit Gingerbread Lane and also keep them in mind!
To see the delight in their faces when they first peer into my houses is pure joy for me!
And a shot of the livingroom from above.
Hummmm…..looking at it now I am wondering why I did not paint a pattern on the rug?
Won’t let that kind of detail slip by me again…..
See you can learn something everyday!
With the inside complete its time to put the roof on and work out the details of the exterior of the house.
At this point I decided that although the roof shingles looked good, I found it all to be a touch too dark and decided to modify the roof plans a bit looking to add some brightness to the house.
100’s of cirlces later…..
I thought this really brightened it up enough yet it still felt Christmasy…..if thats even a word!
The wonderfully detailed steps, front deck and railings where my favorite part of the construction.
Also the most time consuming as it took a long time to place the Ovation stick railings in place, with tweezers, so as to not melt the chocolate on the sticks and mess up the nice swirled pattern on the surface of the minty Ovations.
As with any project, if feels good to come to the end! I was very happy with my Sugar Shack!
It took a total of 115 hours to complete.
Here is a short list of some of the ingredients.
85 cups of flour
92 cups of icing sugar
17 cups of regular sugar
17 cups of molasses
20 boxes of Nerds
5 oz of Vodka
and a whole lot of little ingredients.
Here was the final shot before I turned it over to the Festival of Trees.
And this is what I found when I returned to the Festival!!
I could not have been more thrilled!
For my American readers, First place in Canadian competitions are represented by RED ribbons!!!
And I am very proud to say we raied $250.00 with this very large cookie! And up to date I have raised over $1000 with gingerbead!
Sugar would be very pleased!
Be sure to head over to the Food Bloggers of Canada to see a step by step tutorial I wrote on designing and building your own one of a kind gingerbread house!
The Angel Academy, where all angels come to get their wings!
The annual Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie kicked off last night with the Decorators Take A Bough event out at the Tec Center.
It is a chance for those who designed and donated for the event to gather for a few hours, have a coffee and explore the venue. It is an evening of fun without the crowds and is a fantastic way to get into the Christmas Spirit!
My theme for this years gingerbread house was designing an Angel Academy. I wanted it to have a fun whimsical feel, straying off from a heavy Christmas theme. I used bright pastels and made flowers in place of the more traditional Christmas decore.
I tend to lean towards sided buildings. I love the color that fondant can bring to the build. The strong colors are always sharp against the black rooves with the bright white snow.
My projects usually have a path somewhere as well. The Angel Academy is no exception with the path being a strong element in this years project. I really had no plan when I started but am extremely pleased with how it evolved.
I also took a different direction with my trees, which are usually sharp and green. Keeping with the white “heaven” look the trees were made of rice krispies and then dipped in royal icing. They turned out quite nice and took only a short time to complete compared to trees of previous builds I have done.
The flowers were made of fondant and dyed green spagetti. Which is kind of obvious. I just really wanted to say dyed green spagetti.
And a quick look through the front window will reveal a painting of a scene from a sunny memory down by a remote lake.
And of course, we have the bears. I always have to add that little something for the kids. Once it was Santa, stuck upside down in the chimney. Then there was Sugar from The Sugar Shack! Even a group of troublesome penguins made an appearance a few years. Of course these house are made to raise money for the QE II Foundation but I build these houses with the kids in mind and always gear them towards the little ones. Nothing better then to be able to light up their faces when the discover all the cool things to be found in Gingerbread Lane!
Just a bit of an update. I was asked about the competiton end of the gingerbread tonight so am updating what I know.
As most everyone knows I am a fierce competitor, it is what drives me! That is just how I am hard wired and I work hard to do well when I put myself into these competitions. In the next year I plan on taking that to a whole new level. I will have an annoucement reguarding a new project I will be involved in the days to follow.
But first a little about this years gingerbread house build.
Some ribbons were awarded at the Decorators event Wednesday night. I was there for a short time but I left the event early. This year it is not about winning, it is just for the kids. There is a sad story that motivated this build. A few weeks ago a few boys down the street came home from school and found their mom in the house, dead. The oldest one is 10 and I just can not get them out of my mind. The police were there for many many hours that night. I knew something bad had happened. That truly has to be every childs nightmare, to find a parent like that. So I don’t care if I do place this year, I just hope those little boys can find some peace this Christmas. My worry for them pushed me through this build. At one point I wanted to toss it all and just quit. It just breaks my heart. But not being one to quit, I sucked it up and finished the house with no expectations except to hopefully give the kids who go to gingerbread lane a smile. I can not imagine this familys grief. The burden this little boy will carry in his heart will be there for a long long time. I know my thoughts will be with them all throughout the Christmas season.
Never in a million years did I expect I would come to design and create gingerbread houses.
I did make a few of the kit ones you can buy. I remember the feeling of “that is all” after the simple build. Though I never had a reason to build anything bigger.
Many years later and a move to north of Grande Prairie I had seen pictures from the local Festival of Trees in the newspaper. My first thought was cool, gingerbread houses. My second thought, wow, I bet I could create some seriously cool gingerbread.
So inspired by simple design I decided to find out how I could get involved with the Festival for the following year. I was very excited to be able to partisipate. To see what I could come up with and just have fun with it.
I went with 2 smaller buildings, I pictured a sort of town square in my mind. Having limited space I had to keep it fairly simple.
Truly, I was flying by the seat of my pants. I had taken a few years of drafting in high school so had an idea of how to draw out the plans. Then I turned the plans into templates which were then used right on the surface of the gingerbread dough.
I wanted fairly bright colors so I decided to go with fondant siding. It is a great decorating medium and is very inexpensive to make.
I had 3 different buildings to start but realized only 2 would fit the board. The blue and yellow really stood out so I went with them.
I did not own a very good camera back then so the limited pictures I do have really are not of great quality. But they do give a good idea of what the project looked like.
Being completely new to the Festival, Gingerbread Lane and doing something of this size I was nervous going into it. I did not know know what to expect. And I had hoped I had done a good job. I had only see a few pictures in a newspaper and the only gingerbread houses I had ever seen in person were the kits I made with my kids.
I worked for 38 hours straight to finish it for delivery. Total hours into the complete build was somewhere around 150. I had 2 goals in mind while doing the build. One was keep it nice and clean. Second was making it fun for the kids.
Get down to their level and look at what you are building. Now scroll back up 2 pictures. Do you see it?
The kids noticed him right away.
I am so proud to announce that Gingerbread Dreams did very well. It was lucky enough to get first place as the Judge’s Choice and was selected for the winners circle. Which means the house was sold at the live auction the night of the gala.
When I called the QEII offices a few days after the sale to inquire how it did at the auction I was very happy to learn that we broke the sales record for gingerbread houses at $450.00. Wow! I truly never expected that. But am very proud that I was able to make a contribution like that with my house.
I look forward to many more gingerbread houses. And maybe a few more records can be broken.