Back in the mid-eighties, I met Betty Middleton. (Betty, if you should google your name and find this post, How are you? Long time! Where are you now and how are your kids and Ernie?) Betty was a friend I worked with at church. We knew each other for a few years and I haven't seen her since.
I found out that Betty had authored and published a book about making gingerbread houses. It was a cute little book, actually in the shape of a house, filled with recipes, patterns and ideas. As you can see, my copy has been well used.
What fascinated me about Betty's approach to making gingerbread houses was two things: She put real, plug-in Christmas lights along the roofline...
AND she decorated the interior of her houses with Christmas trees...
This really appealed to the interior designer in me!
I was smitten and had to make one.
Here's one of my first tries. See the lights? Betty always included miniatures, too. That was what made her houses so enchanting. I added skis to the front porch. She also recommended a seven-minute frosting for the roof. This kind of frosting covered the lights which were taped to cardboard and allowed the pulling of icicles down over the eaves and hardened into a rubbery coating. About this time I also learned from my friend, Brenda, that crushed lifesavers would melt nicely into window panes while the gingerbread baked. Here I have a red, heart shaped window in the front door.
If you look inside, you see a Christmas tree with garland, gifts and white fur tree skirt. I had so much fun making this house that I even used 3 inch wide paper ribbon to wallpaper the interior and hung a miniature framed picture of my family on the wall. (See the red frame?) When placing the lights on the roof, you had to get a few inside the house to light the interior, too - so when it was plugged in, it truly became magical. Everyone liked looking in the front door to see Christmas unfolding for the imaginary family who lived in the little gingerbread house.
The next year, the imaginary family who lived in the little gingerbread house went on vacation up north. I made this cabin with field stone chimney, frozen pond, dock, sled and fishing poles. (Watch your head coming out that door!) Once again, there are lights on the eaves - got a second use out of my skis - and a Christmas spread inside. I'm trying to remember if that was a stump with an axe in the background -- but I do recall the red sap bucket hanging from the tree on the left. I always got carried away with the details - even if maple syrup doesn't come from evergreens... As usual, Santa was required to peak out of the chimney!
I had so much fun creating these when my kids were little. Thanks to Betty for opening up a whole new world of gingerbread house ideas.
Next post: the ad and the encouragement that started it all. Could I really win $50,000 for baking a gingerbread house?