The Gingerbread House Saga: The Conclusion
The next day, the power was still out, AND we still had to assemble and decorate the gingerbread house we'd been working on for the competition the cowgirl wanted to enter.
(Actually, the power being out was no big deal, since we had a generator, and since the only part of making the gingerbread house that required electricity was using an electric mixer for the frosting, but I mention it on a vague principle of trying to be dramatic. Shocking, I know.)
Well, we got started on putting the house together around 10a.m., then "painting" on the windows and icing the roof. I personally cut about a million little chocolate discs in half to simulate roof shingles. Granted, it was my own fault, because it was my own idea, but I'm just saying.
The cowgirl, meanwhile, tapped into a previously unrealized talent as a sculptor, fashioning Santa's legs out of almond paste. Yes, just his legs. (These were placed inside the chimney; the ol' boy must've had a few eggnogs too many to try diving in headfirst.) Encouraged by the fact that the legs turned out pretty good, she went on to try her hand at an entire figure skater, who would eventually be skating on the pond we were going to make.
We changed our minds about both skater and pond when the skater couldn't be made to stand. Plus his/her head had a tendency to keep falling off, so.
Anyway, we were having lots of fun, and joking about how there was no way the gingerbread house was going to win, but hey, at least people might get a good laugh when they passed it by on their way to ooh and ahh over the full-on gingerbread villages that some people apparently feel compelled to make. "Who has the time for that," I asked.
"Oh, you'd be surprised," said the cowgirl. "People plan ahead all year for this."
Not for the first time during my visit, Los Angeles felt very far away.
Sometime in the afternoon (and yes, we were STILL hard at work decorating the house), a neighbor came over with her two kids to "admire" our creation. As we were chatting, we all started wondering whether or not there were different categories that you could enter, or if everyone — village makers and total beginners alike — get judged in the same (slightly unfair) arena. The cowgirl dug up the entry form, and in the process of reading through it, alighted upon the rather important information that the entry form was supposed to be turned in no later than November 19th.
A rather tense moment ensued.
After it became clear that neither the cowgirl nor I were going to break down, scream, or cry (though I've no doubt both of us were considering each and every one of those options during that tense moment), the atmosphere relaxed. After all, if nothing else, we'd learned a lot of valuable lessons during our 20+ hour adventure in gingerbread house-making, including but by no means limited to the following:
1) Unless you are a highly skilled gingerbread house maker, bigger does not necessarily equate with better.
2) Roll out smaller sections of gingerbread dough to bake the pieces from, instead of giant slabs the size of placemats that barely fit on your baking sheets (assuming you are able to move them onto the baking sheets in the first place, and good luck with that).
3) Have a healthy supply of whatever your version of strong drink is on hand. This is for you, not the house. And trust me. You will need it.
4) Fondant works better than almond paste for making figures. But in my opinion, it doesn't taste nearly as good.
5) The little beads on those gummy raspberry and blackberry candies can be picked off and used individually in the decorations. For example, the red beads can be used to decorate a green-frosting wreath on the gingerbread house door. The black beads, on the other hand, look like deer poop when dropped on a gingerbread crust driveway. So, don't do that.
6) Check the due date on your entry form BEFORE you finish building your gingerbread house. You'll thank you. And so will the sister who spent all weekend helping you. (Love you, cowgirl! Wouldn't have done it for anyone else...)
UPDATE: Here's a picture of the house:
I know it's a little small, but if you look closely, you might notice that Santa has been joined by an elf up there on the roof. I can guess now why Santa "fell' headfirst into the chimney...
Also, notice the chocolate discs. Please, for the love of God, notice them.