I am sitting down at my desk with a cup of strong English tea, listening to my brood cheerily eat breakfast and make animal noises at each other. It feels good :) To be resting, that is. Yesterday was a great but very long day. I had put off the sugar cookies and the gingerbread house, and there was no avoiding them any longer. In our house, Santa (the combination of me and my darling husband… I’m round, he’s jolly) require sugar cookies on Christmas Eve. And I had promised the kids a gingerbread house since we had acquired (via White Elephant gift exchange) a very heavy mold for making all the parts. Yesterday was THE DAY. The official cookie day of 2010. And boy did we make the most of it! My kids we wonderfully accommodating… they played and listened to Christmas carols, and only became a bother when they started dancing to the music in the kitchen, so I had to shoo them out for safety concerns with the oven opening so frequently. It was divine intervention because, while they are definitely good kids, they are not always helpful in the traditional sense.
And I feel very good about the results of our labor! Baking cookies makes me feel festive, and it’s the best time each year that we get to share our gifts with our neighbors and take something nice to family gatherings. And a gingerbread house for the kids to enjoy… Truly a multipurpose project, and one worth investing some energy.
I made sugar cookie wreaths, Christmas trees, snowflakes and hearts. Recipe here. That assortment kept the colored icing to a minimum and used our sprinkle assortment to its best potential. Combined with the other cookies I’ve been baking and freezing, we’ve got some nice looking cookie trays in the making.
The wreaths were so easy… I wish I had made more. I used a biscuit cutter for the outer circle and a chopped off medicine cup to cut out the center. Then a piped circle of gingerbread “glue” icing and a dunk into the tub of holiday green sprinkles. Then a little piped bow in red, just for fun :) I’m not nuts about overly sprinkled cookies (I don’t want to taste the sprinkles), but they look nice and the entire rest of my family has been eyeing them up even in the dark hours of the morning. Success!
The snowflakes were simply iced in white, so I used some luster dust from our local bake supply store to jazz them up a teeny tiny bit. I don’t like glitter on cards, but it really helped these cookies find their holiday cheer :)
The hearts were sort of blah, but something has to be the least favorite, right?
The gingerbread house was not my favorite part. Pressing the classic gingerbread dough into the mold was arduous, at best, and I was skeptical that the finished pieces would fit together well enough for it to hold together. Fortunately, I was wrong. I made some royal icing to architectural grade adhesive strength (an easily-squeezable airy mix of whipped egg whites, cream of tartar and powdered sugar), and it was goopy yet solid enough and set up fast so assembling the house was quick and painless. Later in the day the kids decorated it (with a little help)…
I had plenty of leftover gingerbread dough, so I baked some gingerbread seniors. These were not boys and girls, but a rather more geriatric population including some balding Santas and Mrs. Clauses. I think they turned out cute, if not as nice as last year’s group. My royal icing was the tiniest bit too runny, so the lines were not as distinct as I prefer, but it was easier on the hands.
And that’s it! Done!! Hooray!!! Ready for plating and giving or toting. And I still have today to finish up a couple last-minute homemade gifts and take it easy before the festivities begin tomorrow. I’m feeling calm and not stressed, and grateful for a year of abundant blessings that I couldn’t even have imagined. How beautiful to have been redeemed by a Child, and to have the opportunity to be a channel of that love for others. I know every person has the same opportunity there, but it really is a gift. And it’s the season for giving… Merry Christmas Eve Eve :)