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July, 2006

Jenna's dad has a classic rock band, and in July of 2006 we all went for a Friday night performance at an outdoor patio of a local restaurant. She came home with us to spend the night, since she was really tired and her older brothers and her mom were going to be staying late.

I had just purchased several more of the Michaels unfinished hutches, and as we looked at them the next morning, she commented that she sure would like to do a project. I am not sure now how it happened, but somehow, we came up with the idea of turning one into a gingerbread house.

She picked out one with the peaked roof because it looks more like a house. Here she has begun sanding. We removed the round wooden knobs, figuring we would use something else to make the door pulls later.

Now she's in her work shirt so she won't mess up her nice clothes when she paints.

I didn't have an exact gingerbread paint color, so we did a little combining of colors to get an approximation. "You know, Nana, I never actually ate any gingerbread," she said, "so I don't know." We agreed that this fall when it gets cool, we will make and eat some real gingerbread.

It was still not quite right, so I suggested we use a dirty water wash to darken it a bit and make it look more baked. I showed her how to experiment on the back of the house until she was satisfied, then do the rest of the house.

She wanted to make a gingerbread man to stand outside her little house, using the cookie cutters that she and Laura had played with when they did their Bake Shop. Even though I got out my pasta machine, she still prefers this little one from the dollar store.

As she struggled to soften the clay, she asked, "Don't you have a little waffle iron or something like that that we used once when we had to do this?"

Ah yes, my little tortilla press!

Now this is so much easier, she agrees, as she smooshes her clay and gets it ready to run through the little roller machine.

As Jenna peeled the paper from her flattened clay, she mused, "You know, Nana, sometimes you just don't know why you have to learn something. For instance, if you had to take a blizzard class, you might wonder, why? But, someday if you were an archaeologist in a snowstorm, then you would be glad you took that blizzard class!"

Although I wanted to smile at her unique analogy, I didn't; and agreed with her. My students used to wonder why they had to study certain things, I said, but I told them that sometimes it's many years before we have that "Aha!Now-I-know-why moment."

"Well, I've already had some of those Aha's, Nana."

Impressed at her perception and the delightful way she had put it, I started gathering little gingerbread items from my stash for her to choose from later.

And then while she worked making her gingerbread men I started cutting out little doilies from large ones. I also printed out some paper plates for her to use and was so intent on doing all this that I completely forgot to take pictures of the process of cutting out and baking the big gingerbread men!

A test tube (my husband was a science teacher; I guess that's why I had this) was just the right size to indent the inner part of this plate printie.

She presses down and sort of rocks the form around and around to create a more realistic not-so-flat shape. I cut the plates out.

Here some goodies are being glued in place on her finished plates. I really got carried away with those doilies; got out my fancy-edged scissors and started using not just the rounded edges but the interior of the doily, too. With a bit of squinting, I discovered all kinds of embossed designs that I never had paid much attention to before


The sign we are using was the cardboard label from a package of mini Christmas gingerbread ornaments. I cut it to fit within the roof's peak. "I am actually going to call this my little Home Sweet Home," she said, "because it is a little house and it has sweets in it."

To prepare for the "frosted" roof, she is first putting on a coat of white paint, then she will use something called Fresh Fallen Snow, which comes in a jar.

These beads and the red and white striped paper clips will work for small candies. (By the way, that's a necklace she made from paper clips.)

Here she has added the frosting and her candies. She planned her arrangment on the table first, then glued them in place. If we had had more time, she might have added a second coat of snow ....

I knew there was a good reason I kept those little beads all these years. I used wire cutters to cut the canes from the paper clips.

Now she has glued her sign in place.

She made two candlesticks, and worked out a pleasing arrangement of her goodies before she started gluing. I would have added more items, but this time she decided Less Is More! I think she was tired by this point, after making all those big gingerbread men that I forgot to take pictures of. lol

All finished!

And here she is, ready to show Mom her latest creation, Gingerbread Visions: Home Sweet Home.

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