Gingerbread Houses by S.L. Saboviec

Hello, everyone! My name is S. L. Saboviec, and I’m an SFF author. I’m excited to be part of Rhonda’s Giftmas blog tour, and I’m so glad to be here today on Kristina’s blog.

When I was growing up, my mother used to make miniature gingerbread houses.

She had a real assembly line going—at one point, she was making a couple hundred every Christmas. She would give them away to friends and relatives or sell them to my dad’s coworkers and at the church Christmas bazaar. People would go crazy over these things:

I’m sure you can see why. They’re 100% edible and 200% adorable.

A few years ago, I decided to make them myself. The picture above is my attempt in 2011. They turned out pretty well, but they were a lot of work. It takes three days to make them because you have to leave a day for drying between each of three steps. However, if you’d like to embark on some fun Christmas craftiness, here’s how.

TOOLS NEEDED

Baking ingredients & assorted candies

Large mixing bowl

Cookie sheets

Knife

Spatula

Mixer (Hand or bowl)

Sealable tupperware or bowl & wet cloth

Icing bags

Cake decorating tips (#4 or #5, #18)

Patience

Seriously, more patience

 

DAY 1: MAKE THE GINGERBREAD

 

2 2/3 cups flour

1/8 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ginger

¼ tsp. allspice

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

¾ tsp. cinnamon

1 cup butter

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup molasses

This recipe makes 8-9 houses.

Sift together flour, salt, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Cream together butter, brown sugar, and molasses. Gently blend flour mixture into butter mixture well. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight in covered bowl. Roll out on generously floured board to ¼ inch. (Note: Cookies must be thin so they dry stiff and the houses hold their shape.)

Cut into shapes, and bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees about 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly on pan before removing to wax paper. Let dry out on countertop overnight.

 

SHAPES

Make cardboard templates and cut from rolled-out gingerbread with a sharp knife.

 

1 x round base = 4 inches diameter

2 x Five-sided end pieces:

Bottom = 2 1/2 inches

Height of sides = 1 3/4 inches

Height to the peak = 3 3/16 inches (approx)

2 x Side pieces:

Bottom = 1 7/8 inches

Height = 1 3/4 inches

2 x Roof pieces = 2 inches x 2 inches

 

DAY 2: CONSTRUCT THE HOUSES

3 large egg whites at room temperature

½ tsp cream of tartar

1 pound or 4 ¼ cups powdered sugar

This recipe makes about 2 cups royal icing.

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until frothy. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing well. Beat for 7 minutes until dry enough (stiff).

Keep covered in Tupperware or with wet cloth at all times or it will dry out around the edges and top.

Glue houses together with Royal Icing. Use cake frosting tip #4 or #5 for gluing pieces together. Let dry overnight.

DAY 3: CONSTRUCT THE HOUSES

After 24 hours, use fresh & stiff Royal Icing again to add assorted candies to decorate. You can use whatever you want, but here are some suggestions.

Front – Tin-foil wrapped chocolate Santas

Front step and side “windows” – Smarties (US) / Rockets (Canada)

Roof – M&Ms or Reese’s pieces

Chimney – Tootsie roll cut in half

Fence around the outside – Red hots (For the picture above, I cut up a multi-colored gummy thing because I couldn’t find them.)

Front and back “window” at the top – Jujubees or gumdrops

Use cake frosting tip #18 for squiggling “snow.” Let dry overnight again.

 

SWEET TREAT OR DECORATION

Each house can be bagged up. They can be eaten or kept for years in the freezer to be used as decoration.

It’s a lot of work, but a fun family tradition. Enjoy.

Thank you, Kristina, for having me here today!

 

About Me:
I’m an author whose dark, thought-provoking science fiction & fantasy contains flawed, relatable characters and themes that challenge the status quo. My first release, Guarding Angel is available at several major eBook retailers and on Amazon in paperback: Kindle | Kobo | Nook | Google Play | Paperback (Amazon) | Goodreads. The sequel, Reaping Angel, will be released in spring 2016.

You can also follow me on social media: Twitter | Pinterest | FaceBook | My newsletter (No spam!).

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“A Million Pieces” By Rhonda Parrish

In exactly one week I have the pleasure of hosting Kristina on my blog. What’s more (Spoiler!), she’s going to be sharing a bit of Christmas flash in that post. Since she is sharing a story on my blog I wanted to return the favour on hers.

Every year I participate in Loren Eaton’s Shared Storytelling: Advent Ghosts. So far I haven’t figured out what I’m writing for this year’s (good thing I have a few days left!) but I am quite fond of the piece I wrote for last year’s. This story has been described as ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘haunting’, which is my way of warning you, this isn’t a happy little holiday tale, but I hope you like it!

A Million Pieces
by Rhonda Parrish

They say it’s the things which drove you crazy that you miss the most. I never much believed it myself. Not until I lost you.

It’s been a year now. And what a year. A year of rehab and therapy, lawyers and courtrooms. A year of firsts.

My first surgery. First steps without my walker. First birthday without you. First day back in our apartment, alone. First night—

So many things you could have counted. So. Many.

It used to frustrate me so much, your counting, but my love was deeper than my irritation so I stayed. Stayed though you counted every Cheerio in your bowl. All the bowls in the cupboard. Every spoon.

I loved you enough to stay though you counted your pills six times a day. And when you stopped taking them? I stayed then too.

I spent our last Valentine’s Day dressed up, crying and watching you crawl across the floor in your suit picking up each Q-tip from the Costco-sized box I’d spilled and counting, counting, counting.

I stayed through all that, yet you let a drunk driver tear you from me. One. One car. One driver. One crash.

Christmas was always your favourite holiday, and I’m celebrating in style in honour and remembrance of you. I’ve baskets full of Christmas balls scattered throughout the house, festive decorations, and the tree is up and decorated. I think you’d approve. The lights twinkling on it are reflected in the glass globes which adorn it and nearby the fireplace snaps and pops. Outside, snow is falling, piling up in the corners of our windows, and my want for you is so intense it’s nearly a physical thing.

I stare out at the city. From this high all I see is a sea of lights piecing the darkness. Like stars.

I look up, then, expecting to be disappointed; star-watching and snowfall so rarely go together, but through a clearing in the clouds, just to the left of the moon, one star gleams. It’s super bright and though I don’t know its name or if it’s a part of a constellation, I’d bet it’s one sailors use to navigate. To find their way back home.

I close my eyes.

I make a wish.

When I open them, something has changed. Not outside. The moon and star are still there, snow still falls and below steams of red taillights still move alongside the blue-white of halogen headlights.

I shift my focus from beyond the window, to its glass. The change is in here. With us. The window reflects the room back at me. Tree, fireplace, me…and you.

Your reflection is as solid as mine. Distorted ever so slightly by the flaws in the glass, but distinctly you. Your shaggy hair. Your hipster glasses. Your mouth which moves, your voice I hear.

“I missed you—” You reach for me. You reach for me and I panic and grab the basket of Christmas balls from the window ledge beside me. The wicker is hard against my fingers, unforgiving. I turn it upside down, pour out the balls which tumble over one another, and onto the floor.

You stop. Your graze drops to the floor, then back up to mine, reflected in the window.

“I—” you begin, then stop and chew on the corner of your pinky finger’s nail. My chest clenches at the sight, so familiar.

Your indecision is a vacuum sucking all the air from the room, slowing the tick-tock of the clock on the mantle until each sound is a long, drawn-out scream. I can’t move. Can’t breathe. My eyes burn, but I cannot cry.

“One,” you say, kneeling down and disappearing from my sight. “Two—”

I exhale. The grip on my chest loosens and the clock resumes its natural rhythm.

“Three, four…”

How many balls were there? A dozen? More?

Too few. Too few.

I step back and white heat rips through my heel as the ball crunches beneath it.

Blood stains the milky glass shards, drips from my foot to the hardwood. You reach for a piece, a shard, “Five, six, seven…”

A sob catches in my throat and I snatch a ball from the tree. It’s blue and glittery, the surface rough against my palm. I remember picking it out with you in the antique store we stopped at on our way home from the local theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol three years ago. You’d grinned at me then, so big I could see the gap between your bottom teeth, and your eyes shone with love. It was a perfect moment in a perfect day.

How many more of those days could we have had?

“Eighteen, nineteen, twenty—”

How many were stolen from me?

“Twenty-four, twenty-five—”

…from us?

“Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine—”

I hurl it with all my strength so it shatters. I rip the next from the fir’s branches and smash it too. And the next, and the next.

I scream out my anger. I sob out my sorrow. My blood mixes with the fragments of memory spreading across the floor and woven through it all, your voice. Implacable. Counting.

“Three thousand four hundred and two, three thousand four hundred and three—”

***

Bio: Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine for eight years (which is like forever in internet time) and is the editor of several anthologies including, most recently, Scarecrow and B is for Broken.

In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been in publications such as Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015) and Mythic Delirium.

Her website, updated weekly, is at http://www.rhondaparrish.com

 

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