Monday, 15 December 2014

Tears and Tragedy and Gingerbread Disasters

Before the collapse(s)
 In past years, I have had notable and satisfying success with the manufacture of gingerbread houses. I blame last year's success for this year's failure. Last year was the first year I baked my own gingerbread to make a house. I researched meticulously, looking up different types of icing for glue and the best templates. I measured and crafted and sent the Zeds out of the room for the delicate building of the house but it all went without a hitch. It was wonderful.

Also before the collapse(s).
I used the same recipe as for our gingerbread menagerie and previous houses but only baked for 10 minutes instead of 12. I think this was my first error, apart from the lack of meticulous planning. I also broke one of the roof pieces when it came out of the oven. That should have been my first warning that all was not going to be sweet as roses in our construction project but, alas, I ignored this warning as we still had spare dough at this point to cut out another roof piece. I may even have been a little proud at the rescue of this disaster.  However, despite sending the small people from the room for the construction, things were not going to plan. Perhaps the icing, also used last year, was too stiff or my patience was too thin but the house collapsed. A bit broke. I assured Z1 that this one could be Z2's as he was mainly interested in all the candy for sticking anyway. I valiantly struggled on in the face of this adversity and succeeded in making 2 passable small houses (oh yes, I decided to do miniature ones this year so the Zeds could have one each) which were standing pre-decoration. However, not long into the decorating, they both collapsed. Z1 was distraught. She took herself upstairs in floods of tears with a soliloquy regarding the tragedy that could be heard downstairs. I fixed it as best I could and it still looked ok...until the next collapse.

We had to admit defeat. Z1 was quite brave at this point, perhaps all her tears were spent, but she did have the consolation of some cookies we had cut out from spare dough which she decorated. My plans were dashed but I did manage not to cry. It was close. We had even made extra trees and gingerbread men to stand around the magnificent dwellings we had envisaged. There are no further photos due to the trauma involved. My frustration and anger from the day turned, the next day, into a gentle melancholy for the houses that were not to be.

We will be ok. We will attempt these again some day but with more planning and care and templates.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Advent calendar 2014: toilet rolls and Junior Mints

Blueprint for Advent calendar 2013
Last year, I had such plans for an Advent calendar but the Zeds were not on board. This year, in keeping with my transformation into one of those people, I began collecting toilet rolls the moment Z1 showed any inkling of interest in making our own countdown to Christmas calendar.

We had a busy weekend, that last weekend of November which had been designated as our Christmas decorating weekend what with December beginning on Monday. Saturday involved a birthday party and a car breakdown and fireworks in Nathan Phillips Square. Sunday was to be the day of the decorations.

Toilet rolls attached, tin foil
and tape used abundantly
 Z1 was on cutting-up-toilet-rolls duty. I was rather more severe than necessary with her when she cut a couple of toilet roll segments too narrow to be able to hold sweets. I then pulled myself together and we headed off to our beloved Dollarama to buy the sweets for fillings. It was a glorious no-coat-in-November day. We used Hershey's kisses before but neither of the Zeds really seemed to like them. I don't blame them, it is not good chocolate.  This year, Z1 chose Junior Mints and Z2 got some fruit jellies.
Compartments filled with jellies

The finished product - ta da!
Z2 was not an active participant in this project. Z1 drew some little pictures in each compartment and the star on top and presents under the tree. She lovingly filled each hole with a mint and a jelly each...until disaster struck. She tried a mint and discovered she didn't like them. Thankfully, we had plenty of jellies so I ate all the mints and replaced them with jellies in the compartments.

After the Zeds were asleep in bed and the mints were eaten, I settled down with a Sharpie and the roll of tin foil to be used to cover each compartment. It was a bit tedious and I was a bit sloppy with it, truth be known but know this too: I was careful in mixing up the numbers so each day will be a hunt. This is in contrast to the fate of some of the poor, unfortunate people with Cadbury's calendars who have been using #adventcalendarproblems on Twitter over the last few days*.

*If you can't find it or don't bother clicking, people were complaining that all the numbers on their Cadbury's calendars are in order ruining the fun of having to track the day's number down each day.