YEAR 20!!!!
Our gingerbread house recipe is dated 1989 so we figure that this is probably the 20th year we have made one of these things, give or take a year when we took a break. If you have not seen earlier versions they are housed at:

This year we decided to do the house on Thanksgiving since Arie and Katherine would be going to Katherine's family in Maryland for Christmas and Thanksgiving weekend was the only time we could all get together.  Now, you know us by now, and we never do anything "traditional."  So,  after much discussion - well really just a bit of talk - we decided to make a total 360 degree turn and not do a "Christmas" gingerbread house. Instead, we decided to do a "pagan theme" which turned out to be an homage to four holidays: St. Patrick's Day (a great day!), Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Easter.  I know, you are probably shaking your head and saying that Easter is not a pagan holiday but we took Easter in the non-Christian view and instead focused on the pagan "Easter Bunny."  I have actually never understood how a bunny got connected to a resurrection, but it sure sounds pagan to me.  We also broke tradition by having not one, but two houses, AND not dealing with them hardly at all.  As you will see, our pagan themes emerged outside the houses and they are bare and, for the most part, undecorated.  What the heck.

Here is the finished house. Just an overview and then more detailed pictures follow.  The lot is basically divided into five main areas with some smaller theme areas scattered around.  There are two houses, which, as I said above, have nothing at all on the inside (except for brown rice floors) and have very limited decorations on the outside.  On the left is the St. Patrick's Day house with a framed piece of art above the doorway, a door mat at the front door and roses next to the door mat.  Behind this house are the St. Patrick's Day creations.  The Easter house on the right also has a door mat (Kaylee always makes the round multi-color door mats) and a framed picture and another piece of art on the back wall.  That's it for that one.  The Easter theme items are all behind this house and scattered around to its right.  Very minimalist this year.  In between the houses is the Valentine's Day area with a dinner table and some Valentine theme objects.  Running in front of the house is a street with thin red licorice lane markers and a covering of brown sugar (Jacqueline's idea!).  Each house has a driveway coming off the road made of brown rice and bordered by pretzels and lollipops (a la Jacqueline).  Surrounding all this area, and most of the lot, is grass made from green colored coconut (always my job).  Directly behind and between the houses is a darker area (brown rice and rice pilaf mixture) with a couple of trees and some other stuff (later).  In the back you can see a graveyard encompassing the Halloween theme and a typical British maze symbolizing .... well, I am not really sure, but I made this to be scary and so it must be a Halloween maze. Read on for more details.

This may not be all that clear a photo, but I wanted to give you an idea of the types of candy we used.  You can see them better to the right -->

Here are Katherine, Arie, Farris, and Jacqueline at the start of the process discussing what to make.  Arie is clearly pondering her first move.

Farris is working hard (note the wine glass) and Jacqueline is mugging for the camera.

Here you see Jacqueline in pjs with a whole lot of creations in front of her.  NOTE: The beer bottle in the background is NOT hers.  She only drinks lite beer (JK).

Kaylee's friend Tami joined us and here they are working hard on their creations.

Break time and time to mug for the camera!

Arie and Katherine .... aren't they so adorable?  Just a happy dad's take on the photo.

Farris and Arie are consulting on the best way to craft something.  A whole lot of discussion went on about the best ways to build things this year since we made some very different candy creations.

Chris is very proud of his St. Paddy's Day leprechaun hat with an assist from Adam and Arie.

I actually did more this year than in the past.  As the houses have gotten bigger over the years so has my "baking" and "rolling" duties and I have had less time and less energy to create.  This year the two houses were identical and the same as the original one we made years ago so the baking was an easy job.  Here is part of the graveyard.  We needed a lot of propping up

Not sure what Tami is making here but it looks interesting.  Note the mess of candy on the table behind her.

Vicki, Jason and Carolina joined in.  You will see their scary handiwork on top of the maze plus Carolina, an exceptional artist, made some of the artwork on the houses.

Now the candy pile is really getting to be a mess while Kaylee, Arie and Farris continue to be creative.

Kaylee and Donovan spend a moment taking this project ever so seriously!  Even though he goes to Berkeley, we like him!

Aren't they a cute couple?

Adam and Farris were dog sitting and Pebbles was very happy to hang around us all day long.  What a great dog.  Very mellow.

Ah yes, the building of the houses.  So much easier this year using old, simple plans.  As always, Adam and Arie are in charge and here they are working on getting the St. Patrick's house glued down.

Here's what the Easter house looked like without its roof.  Arie has just let go (voila!) and it stood up.  The bowls on the left hold the "glue" which is powdered sugar, egg whites and cream of tartar.  This year I managed to hold out for the entire 10 minutes of beating it to death and it came out very sticky and fast drying.  Am I getting more patient as I age, or perhaps just more senile and forgot that I was beating the mixture.

Arie is spreading the brown rice while Adam, in the background, is dremeling the roofs for the houses.

Here is Adam's back while he dremels at the sink. It is always amazing how much fun using the dremel can be.  The dust is flying!

We took several breaks during the day.  This is our dinner break where Adam made some amazing sushi and sashimi and other goodies.  Of course, sake was a required accompaniment.

Farris is clearly enjoying her quaff.  Beer?  More sake?

Hard to see, but the sushi is all but gone.  I think Katherine has her eye on one last piece.

Hail to the chef!!

Working on the inside of the house (adding a brown rice floor) before Adam attached the roofs.

Here is a closeup of the gingerbread process.  I have rolled it out to about an eighth of an inch and then little pieces are being cut and spread around the back of a baking sheet.  At the bottom are the eventual tombstones.

Here is an aerial view of many of our creations. 

The trees are out of the oven!  Plus a few miscellaneous pieces of tombstones.  This year Adam experimented with a new way of making a tree out of several pieces of gingerbread and I think they were his best trees ever.  If we can remember to do that next year ... oh wait, we have pictures as a reminder!

Arie is writing names on the tombstones.  She asked each person what name they hated to be called as a kid and that's what she wrote.

OK, so we got a tad silly here.  Adam's mustache looks a bit odd but I think it is quite charming, don't you?

Here is one of the beautiful framed pictures of various fruits. To realize how amazing this is look back at the entire spread and you will see that it is very tiny and the fruit are even smaller.  Meticulous work indeed.  Thanks Farris for your "3D" artwork!

Here are Adam's obligatory roses.  I am always amazed at how perfect they look and how tiny they are.  Jacqueline made the rug.

St. Patrick's Day decorations including a leprechaun (amazing work by Tami), some shamrocks (Arie and Katherine), a hat (Adam, Arie and Chris), a rainbow and the pot of gold (Chris).  Fountain at the bottom of the picture courtesy of Jacqueline.

Here is a closeup of some of the St. Patrick's Day creations.  The detail on Tami's leprechaun is mind boggling.

Valentine's Day. A pagan holiday indeed!  This is pretty amazing.  A table set for two with candles, plates with T-bone steaks, peas and mashed potatoes (a group effort by Jacqueline, Katherine, Kaylee and Tami) plus a heart shaped box of chocolates (Jacqueline and Kaylee) sitting on a runner and all atop a waffle table by Jacqueline.  Yummy!

The Valentine's Day dinner included a beautiful wall photo of a pierced heart.

Here's the Easter themed area.  Of course we have an Easter egg hunt and you can see three baskets already full of eggs (Farris, Chris, Arie).  On the ground is a long-stemmed rose (Carolina) and a few Easter eggs still remaining undiscovered in the lawn (mostly sculpted by Jacqueline).  Isn't the bunny cute? Thanks to Carolina for that one.

Although this photo is fuzzy, i think it shows the detail in the bunny's face, whiskers and all.

Here's an aerial view of the Easter egg hunt baskets, bunny and flower.

And here are some of the hidden eggs hand crafted by Chris.

Propped up against the St. Patrick's Day house was a pile of logs (Jacqueline) and a spider with his web.  The spider and the web were created by Adam.

Now we get into the Halloween theme with a garden of pumpkins (Farris and Jacqueline) which are already carved (seems odd to see them on the vine with carved faces, but we always take liberties with reality).  In front of the pumpkins is a cauldron made by pretty much everyone together.

Here is the Halloween graveyard with our despised  childhood nicknames.  The fence is made from pretzels and the entrance is littered with bones (Katherine's creation).

In this view from the top it is easier to see the details surrounding the cemetery.

We used spice bottles to prop up everything in the cemetery.

I liked this one.  My nickname (thanks to Jackie my temple youth director when I was a youth group counselor and had long hair) was "Hairy Larry." I had forgotten that until I re-connected (on Facebook, of course) with Jackie and Tori (her daughter who I baby sat from the time she was born) and they reminded me that I was then and will always be "Hairy Larry" to them.  I like the brain (thanks to Donovan) and knife (by Farris) to the left of my tombstone.  Is that how I died?  Is it some evil split brain research project from my students?

Arie's tombstone littered with bones which she made herself. 

Katherine's tombstone. Someone has left a bouquet of long-stemmed roses (Arie made them). How sweet!

This area is in the center of the whole lot.  Adam's nearly leafless trees are the centerpiece.  Note the blue and brown glob in the back.  See a closeup to the right -->

This is the melted witch from the Wizard of Oz with the broom by Farris, the hat by Arie and the puddle by Jacqueline. I guess that is sort of Halloween like. I love the broom and the hat.

Here is a closeup of one of Adam's trees with a few remaining leaves.  It may be hard to see, but the leaves have etched veins.

Here is a view of the English maze from the top.  I made the maze out of pieces of gingerbread covered with green coconut to simulate vines.  At the front is a sign daring you to come in past the noose to the left and coiled snake to the right.  All around the maze are evil things including a spider (Tami made this one) and a few other monsters (all made by Jason, Vicki and Carolina).  Note the blue arms at the far right. More on them later!

Here is another aerial view

At the entrance to the maze!  See the coiled snake's red tongue?

I think this view tells it all.  You enter at the top and there is no exit unless you back track.  Note that the maze portion on the right has no entry or exit.  Just having fun!

A scary spider (Thanks Tami).

Not sure what this is but it would scare me!

OK, here is someone trying to get out of the maze.  Here are his arms and head as he tries to burrow under the maze wall.

and here are his legs and feet on the inside.  Way to go Chris!
So, that's it for 2009.  I guess it gets more difficult as the kids get older and have significant others.  But 20 years is a heck of a ride and I think that we have a few more years of our creative juices.  If Adam has his way we will do it forever and certainly Farris and Jacqueline are right in line with Adam. Maybe next year we will do it at their place in Sherman Oaks.  Perhaps that will be enough to motivate all of us.  For me it is just fun to see everyone having fun together and sharing the same space for a a day or two.  I guess it is just the proud dad role that I enjoy as we do more of these family projects.

That's all for 2009.  Check back sometime in late 2010 for the next iteration of the Rosen Clan Gingerbread House.  Come join us if you have the time or inclination.

May 2010 be your best year ever.