Monday, December 21, 2009

The 4th Sunday of Advent and the Catholic Librarian makes a gingerbread house...

The image to the left is what the gingerbread house is *supposed* to look like when one finishes. Well, I suppose it looks like that in the photo because a professional pastry chef decorated that one. At least, that's what I tell myself. Because this weekend, Henry and I cracked open our gingerbread house kit, and the following is what ensued...

When we started, I was in a good mood. I flick open the box and put on some Christmas music. Pretty soon, Hank and I are singing along and unloading our equipment. And then I glimpse a look at the directions:

"To make the frosting, add water and confectionary sugar, then mix...."

Whoa. I have to *add* something? Requiring me to add and mix *anything* when it comes to baking will mean frosting flung up onto my kitchen ceiling. Every.single.time. I guess I assumed that the frosting was in a pastry bag, ready to squirt. This shows you the level of incompetence we're dealing with here, people.

I'm feeling slightly more apprehensive, but Hank is clamoring excitedly beside me, and for his sake, I press on. The directions say that the finished frosting should have the consistency of toothpaste. Well score, this looked pretty pasty to me. With no small amount of trepidation, I pick up the pastry bag and snip off the end. I put the squirter thing in it and shovel in some paste. Let's just say it didn't go well. My paste soon had the consistency of 'cement.' No way that was gonna squirt out the pastry bag. I quietly utter a swear word, empty the bag back into the mixing bowl, and try again. Dismissing the directions, I add about 10 times more water than called for, grit my teeth, and start up the handheld mixer. This time, though not paste by any stretch of the imagination, the gook in my bowl actually looked like frosting. I taste it. This happens, many, many times. It tastes good. Gold star.

I slip some into the pastry bag, instruct Hank in holding up the gingerbread house walls, and attempt to pipe some frosting on. The fiasco that ensues seems funny now, but didn't seem quite so hilarious Saturday afternoon. I could see the Gingerbread Daily Sentinel headline now:


By squirt number 3 of my beleaguered pastry bag, the little squirter apparatus burst right out because I had cut the hole in the bag too wide. Curses. I grab a butter knife and attempt to slather the frosting onto the cross points. It doesn't go so well. I cannot get those bloody gingerbread walls to stay up. By this point, I'm shooting dagger glares at the gingerbread house kit box. I finally just slathered frosting onto the roof pieces and let Hank go to town decorating them with candy. He put every single piece of candy on his roof piece and declared it "Beyoutiful." He was happy, thus I was happy.

That picture, that included intricate frosting lattice work, garland and window boxes? Lies, all lies. I fail to see how any regular old , non-professionally trained mother and child could make their gingerbread house look like that.

When Mike got home, we were on structure collapse #19, and luckily he stepped in. He's a civil engineering student, so perfect. Next thing I knew, the house was standing AND had the roof secured. It's decorating still looks woeful, but our gingerbread house is finally structurally sound. Amen.

4th Sunday of Advent...Our parish didn't have Children's Liturgy of the Word this week and Hank behaved less than angelically. I managed a much better parental 'dealing with it' performance, however, and we made it to Communion and out of the church without a humiliating scene. I consider this a great victory.

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