Once again, for the umpteenth year in a row (we can't seem to agree when we started this tradition, but it was most likely in the mid-1980s), we have built our gingerbread house.  This year the participants included Larry and his four wonderful kids, Adam (31) Arielle (29), Chris (19) and Kaylee (16), plus Scott, Arie's significant other and a brief appearance by Matt, Kaylee's significant other.  As with past years (you can see the last two years' efforts at and, we specialize in minute, obviously obsessive detail.  We started on December 23rd when Adam and I began to bake the major pieces for the house that Adam designed last year.  We decided to keep the same design, although, as you will see, we added some things and changed others.  We baked late into the night and started again in the morning.  Arie and Scott arrived late on the 23rd (missing the extremely intense, and often confounding, baking experience).  On Christmas eve day we began to do our project, starting mid-morning and lasting late into the night.  This year, it all went quite well, although we did have a roof collapse which Adam, our chief engineer, fixed with a bit of a structural modification.  The house was finally finished on Christmas Day with the final touches.  You can see our pictures and commentary below.  We hope you enjoy them.  With love and best wishes for a wonderful 2007, Larry, Adam, Arie, Scott, Chris, Kaylee and Matt.

Here is the whole group at the end of a long day and a half.  Do we look tired ... or happy???? The house has a variety of special touches both outside and in.  At the left is a train which basically occupied Larry for the entire time (this may have been a good thing since he was in no shape to bug everyone else!).  To the right of the house is an outhouse.  Last year we pondered the fact that the "bedroom" had a toilet next to the bed.  This seemed bizarre to one and all and after tossing around a variety of ideas we decided to move the toilet outside and change the bedroom to a game room.  In front of the house you can see Santa, his sled and a sack of toys.  For the zillionith year in a  row we are using the "football" santa who, inexplicably, is carrying a football.  One can only guess that he is very excited about the BCS bowls or perhaps he is a Chargers fan!  At the front of the house is a curved driveway made of brown rice, lined with pretzels and candy canes.  To the left is a play area including a swing set, teeter totter and slide.  To the left rear is a garden and to the right rear (not visible) is a dog house.  Now, here are pictures to highlight the process and the fun.  Hope you enjoy!


Here's the front of the house.  The roof includes lights (the only part of the house that is not edible - they originally were necklaces), a porch held up by candy canes, a front porch made of pretzels and a welcome mat.

Here is an aerial view of the front of the house

Santa has his bag of toys for good girls and boys all wrapped and ready for 2006.  The bag has marshmallows with rolled out tootsie rolls wrapped around them and a Twizzler used as a bag tie (by the way, don't ever try to eat a cherry Twizzler - I did and it was awful).

Here is a close-up of the front porch.

A different view of the front of the house with the train going around the side.  More pictures of the train are coming.

This is Kaylee's front door mat.  Notice the detail as it is made from Starburst candies which are rolled out in separate pieces and tied together with candy.

The baking starts the day before and continues all throughout the day as more pieces are needed or, as happened this year, a piece (the chimney) is made too thin once, then too short and finally, just right.

Most of the pieces come out pretty rough and need some shaving to get them to fit together.  This is Adam's job.  Notice that Adam is scraping the piece over the floor.  Cleaning up the mess on the floor is Dad's job!

We use a glue that is made of powdered sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites.  It gets really gooey, the gooey-er the better.  Adam puts it in a pastry bag and squirts it on the edges of pieces to glue them together. Luckily, the glue sets pretty quickly.

When a structure is glued it has to be held together for a couple of minutes so here you see Adam, Arie and Chris holding the main house structure together.  By the way, the whole house is put on a large piece of plywood which is covered with foil.

Here is what the glued structure looks like before we start loading it up with goodies.  The roof goes on last.

I know this picture is sideways, but there is a reason.  According to family lore (at least according to Kaylee), a pizza was being delivered by a bicycle riding Dominoes delivery man (note the Dominoes sign on the bike).  As he approached the house from the back, he was attacked by the dog, aptly named Fido. He dropped the pizza, dumped his bike and ran away so that Fido got to eat the pizza.  The bicycle is made from pretzels, licorice and Starbursts.

OK, so here is what I spent nearly 10 hours building.  After doing this last year I swore I would never make another train, but I am a weakling and here is the result.  It has four cars -- an engine, a coal car carrying wrapped presents, a zoo car carrying a giraffe, an elephant and a monkey (haven't you always wanted a monkeeee?) and a caboose.  The wheels are made from licorice circles. The bars are baked gingerbread and the rest is decorated with a variety of candies.

Here is a closer view of the train from the back.  You can see the back of the caboose which has a platform for standing and waving goodbye.  The monkey is peeking over the edge of the zoo car and you can just see the elephant behind the monkey.

At the side of the house is the obligatory woodpile.  In past years we have painstakingly made little pieces of gingerbread to look like logs. This year we finally got smart and used pretzels.  Duh ... that was so much easier!

This is a close-up of the side of the doghouse.  Note the food bowl at the top and the "yellow snow" at the bottom. 

Here is where most of the work gets done.  Everyone sits amidst a ton of candy and create their masterpieces.

This is the play area which is new this year.  In the past we have tried a variety of yard equipment which have mostly been disasters.  This time Arie and Kaylee were able to pull off a swing set (candy canes, Twizzlers and molded tootsie rolls), a slide (candy cane and pretzel stairs and a candy slide) and a teeter totter out of pieces of gingerbread with molded Starburst seats.

My friend Bob, his wife Barb, and son Eric came by with some Tequila so here I am holding the chimney together with one hand and a glass of Tequila in the other.

Kaylee decided to make a garden in the back yard.  Note the heads of cabbage (thanks Adam for the lesson on cabbage making) and the carrots (bits of orange peeking out with greens sticking our above ground).  Way to go Kaylee!

In the past we have put the toilet in the bedroom. This year we have no bedroom so we built an outhouse with the toilet.  It is hard to see, but the outhouse has a crescent moon.  The toilet is realistic down to the brown handle on the left and the blue water in the bowl.

The roof goes on last and then it is covered with frosted mini-wheats to simulate snow.  This year we bought a box of Safeway brand knockoff mini-wheats and will never do that again. They were a royal pain and required a lot of work.  Midway through the process, the roof that you can see being covered collapsed, necessitating a midstream structural modification by architect Adam who created a brace on the inside of the house so that the roof could be safely reattached and hold up with the frosted mini-wheats on top.

Adam had to gently cut each mini-wheat in half lengthwise so that we could use the frosted half only/

I am great at mindless, tedious tasks.  Here I am gluing on one of about a hundred mini-wheats, one at a time.  Yay! Let's hear it for those of us who require very little stimulation to maintain our interest.

Adam and Arie are building the outhouse.  You can also see the doghouse from the side with the paw print on the side of the roof.

Here Adam and Arie are grappling with a recalcitrant swing which kept tipping to one side or the other.  Before we went to bed (at 2:30 AM) it was propped on the right side. In the morning it had started leaning to the right so we had to re-prop it up on the other side.  Ah, the trials of being creative.

No, this is actually BEFORE the Tequila!  I have been standing in the kitchen, baking pieces, and standing on my feet for about 8 hours and am whipped and silly.

Scott decided to take a nap.

I took a break and watched the Chargers pull out a last second miracle in Seattle.  Then back to work ....

Chris worked on all sorts of objects d'art. Here he is laying back and relaxing for a bit.

Kaylee is working on something teeny tiny.  Could have been anything since she worked on most of the inside stuff.

No, that is not Kaylee's beer glass in the middle of the table.  But that was her permanent seat for the day.  When I ventured out of the kitchen, she was always sitting in the same place.  Was it the soft pillow or creative genius?

This is a top view of the dining table.  Three diners are eating steak and veggies.  One, a non-beef eater, is having fish.  In the center is a vase with roses.  Kudos to Adam for the vase and Chris for the dinners.

The tree divides the dining/living room from the game room.  The left side has the fireplace, throw rug, and dining table.  The game room has a computer, bumper pool table, DDR (Dance, Dance, Revolution) game, hero guitar and a wonderful piece of art above the plasma TV which is mounted on the wall.  In between the rooms is a couch which you will see later.  If you don't know what DDR is click here and if "guitar hero" is a mystery click here.

This picture shows an aerial view of the dining room area.  The fireplace has a menorah on the mantle and two stockings hung from the mantel (with care, of course).  To the left of the fireplace are some potted plants.  In the photo to the right you can see a close-up of the fireplace.

Every year Adam has made a computer. This year he broke out of the PC mode and made an iMac complete with keyboard, a mouse and a pencil holder.  Even the cords are there connecting the peripherals to the iMac. 

Here is the tree, complete with presents.  Everyone pitched in on this one. Adam made the tree but the presents were contributed by everyone.

This picture and the one to the right show the game room.  In the front you can see a bumper pool table (click here for more information about this great game).  It is difficult to see, but the pool cues, made from pretzels, have blue tips to simulate the top of a real pool cue.  Such realism!  The two "pads" are for playing DDR and the multi-colored item in the corner is for guitar hero.  It is courtesy of Matt who is teaching Kaylee how to play guitar hero.  Last I heard she was working on Crossroads by Cream.  Dad highly approves!

This is a close-up of the DDR game.  The television shows progress for the two players.  The goal is to watch the television and when an arrow reaches the top you are supposed to step on the appropriate arrow on the pad.  If the arrow is an "up arrow" you are supposed to step on the up arrow at the top of the pad. If you step on the arrow just as the television arrow crosses the top you get points.  The more points, the higher the grade you achieve.  I think it is made for teens by teens who want to embarrass their parents.  I, for example, can't seem to get any grade better than an "F."


Here is the couch and side chair which are facing the Christmas tree.  On the couch are two pillows, appropriately in red and green) and in front of the couch is a rug made of multicolored candy.  To the left of the side chair is a potted plant.

Arie is working on the bumper pool table.  It is an amazing work of art!

Behind the TV is a magnificent piece of art, courtesy of Chris.

Here is another view of the dining room.  I particularly like the plants to the left of the fireplace.

Arie worked a long time on the elephant and monkey heads for the zoo train car.  The detail is amazing.

Matt showed up for a short time and made the guitar that rests in the corner of the game room.  Too bad he is wearing a Minnesota T-shirt in a house of Charger, Laker, Angel and Dodger fans.  We remind him often that it is sad that all of those teams manage to win while the Twins, Timberwolves and Vikings can't seem to. 

Eventually we finished and, of course, all of us rushed to our computers and overloaded my wireless cable modem.