My eyes and ears are always peeled for inspiration; inspiration for projects that I have on the go and inspiration for projects that I’ve yet to dream up. My overactive brain can’t help but take note of any and all noteworthy [or not] details. Fitting, as for both small and large creative undertakings, my planning process always starts with an inspiration point, which gets the ball rolling and ensures that my overactive brain doesn’t stray. So, naturally when I took on my next holiday project, my gingerbread house, I had to sort out my aesthetic and needed inspiration; it was after all a full [gingerbread] home reno.
Like all great things, inspiration hit when I least expected it; sitting on my sofa under a blanket. On my latest trip to New York, I stopped by the Jonathan Adler store on Madison Ave. and picked up the softest throw for our living room [and it was on sale!!!]. The colour and geometric pattern were perfect and its hand feel was dream-like. The blanket made for interesting packing on the way home, as I only travelled with a carry-on, but I made it work!
Along with my newest bottle of sprinkles, I had my inspiration and colour palette sorted and was ready to decorate. My friend Shereen and I dedicated a Sunday afternoon/eventing to gingerbread housing. Sadly, but yet not surprisingly, an afternoon/evening wasn’t enough. Our little home decor projects were completed over the course of 2 days [also accounting for drying time and a Bulk Barn candy run].
Hedging that we would need the most decorating time, we picked up gingerbread house kits by Wilton from Michaels’. The kit came with the gingerbread pieces, decorating candy + fondant, icing, and a pipping bag + tip.
We made use of the icing to erect the structure/decorating and I used some of the candies but for the rest, we decorated with our findings from Bulk Barn. However, of course I chose the more time consuming decorating route of painstaikinly piping patterns and details onto the walls of my house. I started by carefully measuring and carving out my design with an exacto-knife and ruler – that was the majority of day 1. When completed, I began my outlining, flooding, and flocking.
After several attempts at sugar cookie decorating over the years and though my pipping technique still needs work, I found a brilliant recipe for royal icing. I particularly loved this recipe because it didn’t require meringue powder [which I usually have on hand but I was out] and because the final result dried opaque and glossy.
R O Y A L I C I N G
recipe from the Pioneer Woman blog
[As per the recipe, this will yield 36 servings. Note. I used half and was able to complete decorating my entire house]
- 1lb sifted powdered sugar
- 3 pasteurized egg whites
- 1tsp fresh lemon juice
add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and with a paddle attachment, mix on low | about 5mins
once all ingredients are combined, increase speed to med-high
mix until stiff peaks are formed
if using immediately, you can start pipping or tinting at this point, but if not, transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly touch icing surface.
For all the white outlining work, I piped the icing as is. For filling in my designs, I divided my remaining white icing and tinted each portion accordingly. As the consistency for the filling needed to be more viscous, with a teaspoon at a time, I cautiously added water to the tinted icing. Note, I decided to pipe my gingerbread pieces pre-construction. Once the piping and filling were dry, I erected the house and started decorating with candy.
I am thrilled with how it turned out. It’s not your classic red, white, and green Christmas house but it’s exactly how I had envisioned it [maybe with a little more straight lines]; colourful, bright, and with a little Hollywood Regency nod.
It’s 3wks to Christmas; Happy Holiday-ing!
** blanket image from the Jonathan Adler website