Monday, December 14, 2009

How I Won $50,000 on a Cookie House - Part VI

I hate all-nighters.  And I speak from experience.  I have pulled my fair share of marathons getting ready for stuff - finals, girl's camp, speeches, making my daughter-in-law's wedding dress... Building the gingerbread house was not exempt from my perennial underestimation.

It was now noon on January 30th - a Tuesday.  My sister and mother arrived to assist in any way.  I was behind the eight ball to successfully enter the Brach's Gingerbread House Contest by January 31st.  I needed a photograph.  By the rules, the judging would be based on one photo not larger than 8 "X 10".  This was before digital photography.  I had to snap a bunch of pictures, get them developed, pick the best one, have it enlarged, and get it in the mail before 5 p.m. for overnight certified mail delivery.

I was tired, but still completely focused on accomplishing my mission.  We called around to find a photography studio that offered photo finishing while you wait.  There was one about 12 miles away.  My camera wasn't anything special - I think it was an Advantix - the kind that would take panorama shots - point and shoot.  The professor in my model building class taught us that the cardinal rule of model building was to take your model outside and photograph it in daylight.  The light and shadows cast by the sun make the models come to life.  I was determined to take my gingerbread house outside to photograph.  There was one big obstacle standing in my way:  the house was now royal frosted to the 32" wide drafting table base and my doorway was only 30" wide.  Even with the door off the hinges, it wasn't wide enough.  Out of desperation I looked at the big picture window.  Could I remove it?  Yes, but even if I did, it would only get me to the enclosed front porch and another doorway!  What to do?  I HAD to find a way!  Tilt the gingerbread house diagonally until it fit through the doors.  Would that work?  The house was now very heavy - it might fall completely off the base.  The house was also very big - even sideways it would only clear the door by a few inches.  I settled on a plan.  I would take a whole batch of pictures inside and then, do or die, I would tilt that board until it fit through the doorway and take some more pictures outside.   If it tumbled... I had the inside shots.

I covered the dining room table with a sheet and started snapping from every angle.

A close up of the front entryway featuring stained glass Lollydrop windows, Snappytarts Queen Anne shingles, candy cane pillars, red hot cobblestones, and nonpareil roof shingles.

A side angle showing the Nougat Gel chimney
and Burnt Peanut pine cones on Spearmint Leaves tree.

Pictures completed inside, it was time to git 'r done and go outside.  The sun was shining on a freshly fallen blanket of snow - perfect.  One person on each side, my sister and I lifted the gingerbread house.  We carried it to the door.  Like the two stooges who needed more than four arms, we tried to support the house and tilt the board at the same time - huffing and puffing and giving each other directions all the way.  The angle got dramatically steep before we cleared the door and against all odds... IT HELD!  Hooray!  We made it down the steps and plopped it in the snow.

Here is the money shot - literally.

Next I jumped in the car with my roll of film and drove to the photography place (slapping myself to stay awake.)  I slept in their waiting room while the pictures were developed.  Thank goodness nobody was around.  After a while someone came out and showed me the picture they thought was the best.  I agreed and went back to sleep while they enlarged it to an 8 X 10.  I had addressed an envelope with the entry blank and list of candies used (see below) inside.  Everything was ready to go once they handed me the photo.  A quick stop at the post office for overnight delivery and the waiting would begin... and sleeping.

23 candies used in the construction of the G-bread house:
Burnt Peanuts - pine cones
Candy Canes - porch columns
Christmas Nougats - medallion in front door pediment
Cinnamon Imperials - window trim decoration and cobblestones
Crimp Ribbon - under eave "gingerbread" trim
Fruit Bunch - turret window crowns
Gumdinger Balls - fence post caps
Gumdrops - column capitols
Holiday Mix - porch lights and panels below windows
Jots - porch lights and front door pediment decoration
Kentucky Mints - foundation decoration
Licorice Twists - corner fence
Lollydrops (melted) - red, green and gold glass windows
Mellowcreme Toys - Santa in the chimney
Milk Maid Caramels - dentil trim on turret
Mint Filled Straws - porch railing spindles
Nonpareils - roof shingles
Nougat Jels - bricks for chimney and porch posts
Nut Goodies - fence post rocks
Snappytarts - Queen Anne shingles
Spearmint Leaves - evergreen tree and bushes
Starlight Mints - column capitols and bases
Toffees - firewood logs at front door


  1. Have you ever given these pictures to Swanson for her class?

  2. No, I haven't. Their Gingerbread House display is coming up this Monday night - the 21st at 6:30 at the high school. Too bad I have so much school board business that night. I'd love to see them - they are always so creative!

  3. Great effort deserved to win!

  4. I just love a good story! So..... what happened next??? :)


Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet-
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

Related Posts with Thumbnails