Monday, January 7, 2013

Gingerbread Houses

Christmas just "FLU" by and I didn't get to share all the fun Christmas happenings with the Ferrell boys and me!  I'm going to use the next few days to catch up on our Christmas fun!

Dave spent 3 days in the hospital with a terrible case of strep.  My sweet friend, Myra, and I both had the flu.  Myra spent 3 days in the hospital with bronchitis.  It was difficult to blog about everything we were doing together when I felt so bad.  I thought it was more important to try and salvage as much Christmas for the boys as I could.  :)

One of the fun crafty activities we did together was make individual gingerbread houses.

A couple of years ago, we decorated a gingerbread house that came in one of those kits.  We had a great time doing that . . .

2010 Gingerbread House

Sometimes the Ferrell boys have a difficult time taking turns and sharing with each other so I thought if everyone had their own house to decorate . . . maybe this experience would be more fun and less stressful!

When playing on pinterest, I saw some little gingerbread houses made with graham crackers on the Kelly Moore blog, and they looked so cute . . . just what I had in mind for my boys.

In some of the comments, a couple of commenters had suggested other methods of attaching the walls and roof.  One said that she had "hot glued" the walls together and then let the children use the royal icing to decorate the houses.  Another said that she had used melted sugar to "glue" the walls and roof together.  I know most gingerbread houses are put together completely by using the royal icing, but it can take the royal icing a while to harden and sometimes the houses fall apart if you start decorating before the icing hardens enough.  It's hard to wait when you have 3 little boys dying to decorate!

I decided to go with the melted sugar method.  If the boys wanted to eat their creation, then they could eat the sugar but they wouldn't be able to eat the glue!

I poured some sugar in a shallow skillet and slowly heated the sugar up . . . periodically shaking the pan to keep the sugar even throughout the skillet until the sugar melted.  I used a silicon pastry brush to wash sugar crystals down the sides of the skillet periodically.  After a period of time the sugar actually turned brown and started to caramelize.

I broke the graham crackers to make the walls of the house.  Two of the walls I had to cut with a pointed triangle style wall to allow for the roofline.

I dipped the pieces of graham crackers in the melted sugar . . . CAREFULLY . . . cause melted sugar is very, very HOT!

And slowly pieced together my houses.  You have to work quickly because the sugar will harden fast.

I stuck the houses with the melted sugar onto cardboard cake sheets that I cut up.

It doesn't matter if there are gaps in between the roof and the walls  . . . as long as the houses are stuck together firmly . . . you will cover the seams with the royal icing when decorating.

I bought some assorted candy and gumballs from Tems.  I actually bought too much.  With all the candy I have left over . . . we'll be making Valentine and Easter houses too!

I set each boy's house around the table with the candy in bowls.  Each boys had their own royal icing in a squirt bag to use.

I used the Royal Icing recipe I found on  It called for 3 Tbsps. of Meringue Powder, 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, and 6 Tbsps. of water.  It turned out great and worked wonderfully.

I put some for each of the boys in a zip lock bag and cut the corner tip off to squirt the icing out.

Although the squirt bag of icing worked great, the boys used lots of it up very quickly.  I would recommend putting icing in little bowls for decorating and letting them apply the icing with a spoon to decorate.  The icing goes further that way and is easier to apply.  I had a bowl of icing for the boys to share, and all three boys seemed to have better success with the icing in the bowl.

Alex's house.

Zach's house.

Shane's house.

My house.  :)

It was so much fun.  I highly recommend this activity.  Even Shane, who is 4 years old, was able to decorate his house without much help from me.  The boys even thought of using the marshmallows for decorating!  I hadn't thought of them!

So much fun . . .  And the boys won't let me get rid of them!  Ha!

House building and decorating on the farm with . . .

                             the Ferrell boys and me!

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