Let me be clear. I HATE gingerbread houses. No. I hate making gingerbread houses. They are the most difficult thing on the face of this planet. And I can’t believe people actually force their children to do this for “fun”.
About 5 years ago I made my first gingerbread house. It wasn’t actually a house, it was a sleigh. Filled with holly jolly, The Texan and I had gone to Target and thought HEY! A gingerbread house (sleigh), that sounds like fun.
Famous last words.
After about two freaking hours of trying to get this thing to stay together, we finally did it. We decorated it very minimally. We walked away because, well, it was like some kind of weird torture putting this thing together. But unfinished projects drive me nuts so, not unlike a slave driver, I made the Texan sit there with me and help me until it was finished.
Half falling apart and all twisted and screwed, we left it on the table. Only to come back into the room to find that my dear beloved dog (rest his soul) had taken it off the table and was happily munching on it. That was it. I was done. I swore them off forever.
Just on a random *#&$*@) note, the dog NEVER, and I mean NEVER took ANYTHING off the table. In the 17 years we had him, he never ever took anything off the table. You could put a steak in front of the dog and say no and go grocery shopping and he would leave that steak alone. But no. He ate the gingerbread sleigh. He knew. He must have known that it was evil. He ate it to rid the world of it. He was protecting the pack.
This has become a running joke (if we don’t laugh we will cry) with the Texan and I. Mr. B has been poking fun at me for weeks telling me we should get a gingerbread house kit. He never put one together before I think. So I showed him up. I bought one. And I told him he had to put it together.
Somehow the agreement was made that HE would put it together and I would decorate it. I think he was trying to take pity on me or something, murmuring something about how the decorating was the fun part. Fun my ass.
But I agreed. First because I wasn’t going to let the gingerbread demon defeat me and also because it was worth the pain to see what was an inevitable bout of serious Christmas frustration about to fall so righteously upon Mr. B’s head. Smug I was. Smug I shall remain.
It must be said there was a bit of cheating on his part going on. First off, the damn thing had a stand. It had grooves that you filled with frosting so that the walls of the house would stay. No such thing is available when it comes to putting the roof on. Vengeance is mine.
I watched intently as he happily unpacked the pieces, filled with holly jolly and thinking he was going to show me up. I waited, saying nothing, poised with my camera.
And he started to happy fill the grooves with frosting to keep the walls of his beloved, and seemingly innocent, gingerbread house stable
Not to get out of chronological order here, but the smile was creepy…because he normally looks like this most of the time
At about this point Mr. B was getting rather smug. “How easy this is!” he exclaimed, filled the pre made grooves with frosting and happily watching his gingerbread walls stand up just fine. And also at about this point, the Texan walked in (he’s the headless one in the Texan shirt) smirking. That’s right, he knew what was coming.
And away Mr. B went. Plugging away with his frosting. He got one wall up. Then two. Then three.
Then, frosting canal or not, they started to fall down.
He picked them back up. Then fell again. He kept a smile on his face. But they fell again. And one more time.
Finally he got them up. All four of them. He was murmuring at this point and I was nice enough NOT to take pictures of his misfortune (I’ve been there, I know…).
There was a little bit of swearing because there were smudges of frosting on the walls of the house from having to pick them up with sticky covered fingers when they kept falling.
Then came the roof. He slathered it with frosting and pressed it on. It fell.
It wouldn’t stay.
NOW came the real swearing! NOW came the bargaining “If it would just stay…” he was growling…
Among some of the phrases I heard, and some I won’t repeat I think I heard “They didn’t make this right” and “how are you supposed to” the most. I didn’t take pictures. Well, I didn’t take too many pictures. I took this one though. This was his 987th attempt at the roof
Most of you may think that look on his face, the one that is somewhere between a forced contented smile and severe constipation is actually a look of a patience filled man with the Christmas Spirit. It is not. He was pretty pissed at this point and highly aware of the camera.
This dragged on about another hour. I was snickering while he was swearing, shaking my head in the “I told you so” fashion. He didn’t think it was funny. I couldn’t help it. I’m a bad person.
That damn frosting dries pretty fast into a brittle, nasty, flaky mess. Good I suppose to keep it together. Bad because you have to work fast because it dries so quick and you end up putting more and more and more frosting on until you are either out of frosting or the house is held together with 4 foot thick frosting on either side.
He murmured something about using caulk and how it would taste better than the frosting. I laughed, told him no that’s cheating, and continued to watch.
Finally, he had it up. And by up I mean smears all over the roof with frosting and very precariously balanced roof sides that were dangerously close to looking as if the owner of this gingerbread house was getting a letter of condemnation from their township. But! It was up! And it wasn’t bad, really, for a freakin gingerbread house.
One last check to make sure it wasn’t going to blow over…
He promptly gets up from the table, announces he’s done, and that I have to decorate it. Actually what he said was:
“I’m done with that f*&#ing thing.”
He tried to convince me that it only took a half an hour for the frosting to dry. That’s what it said on the box. I told him no way, no how, no chance am I even touching that thing until the next morning. I’m not going to go decorating that thing unless it’s been sitting at least that long without falling apart. I had hope that I would wake up and the thing would be all fallen apart so I wouldn’t have to decorate it. No such luck. All night I worried about it, like the next morning I would be in front of the firing squad. Would it fall? Would there be enough frosting? Gingerbread houses and the people that invented them are evil. Evil evil. They hate us all.
Fast forward to the next morning. My Pookis drops by to pick up some perfume I made her (see how much I love her) and I, after about half an hour of stalling, tell her about the gingerbread house. She offers to take pictures while I do it. Okie doke. Oh boy.
So I start putting the frosting on the roof of the house.
Mind you, Pookis isn’t really there to just take pictures. She likes to yell orders too. She is very bossy and even more impatient. Keep in mind she doesn’t actually HAVE the patience to do things like this, but she sure does like to tell YOU how to do them. We’ve been told we should have a cooking/crafting show together where I make everything and she yells orders at me while I’m doing it.
This is all in good fun, you realize. I don’t mean to suggest she doesn’t bark and get pissy, cause she really does, but she also knows she does it, and laughs about it. And when you look at her and say “YOU DO IT” she’ll tell you no, that she can’t do it. At least she’s honest! And hilarious! Mix her yelling orders at me and me giving her snide remarks about shutting her talk hole and apparently people find this interaction pretty funny.
As I’m putting the frosting on she’s yelling at me to TWIST the frosting bag don’t SQUEEZE it. And twist it from the BIG end not the little one. This ends up with her grabbing the bag out of my hand and twisting it for me and handing it back. Hey! Less work for me!
Now it’s time to spread the frosting. I used a spreading knife. Seems logical.
At about this point I notice that the frosting is leaving lines as I’m spreading it. I’m actually not bad with frosting, but this isn’t frosting, it’s pure white flaky sugary evil.
Pookis is barking at me that I need to use a spatula. Then it wouldn’t leave such big lines. Use a spatula. SPATULA.
OK! I go get a spatula.
Yeah, bigger lines indeed. Not to mention the spatula is really flexible so it kind of just drags the top of layer of frosting off with it when you are trying to spread it around. And the frosting is now drying and flaking off.
Pookis is barking “It’s DRYING! It’s DRYING! Stop putting more on? Why are you putting more on? It’s drying and flaking. It’s gonna look like crap…why are you putting so much on?”
I’m arguing that the butter knife was better. She’s arguing that it leaves too many lines. All the while the evil frosting is laughing at us and drying into an evermore hard and brittle tool of Satan. (Well, that’s what it felt like anyway).
We compromise. I’ll use the STUPID butter knife to spread the STUPID frosting onto the STUPID roof and then I’ll use the STUPID spatula to smooth the STUPID frosting out. Sonofabitch!
I do the roof and just decide screw it, screw it, SCREW it, the lines are staying and it’ll have to look like snow drifts. Pookis nods and agrees. There was simply a very windy blizzard that hit the house’s neighborhood. That’s all.
Now I’ve got to do the top of the roof. *&@!
The picture shows big dollops on the top of the roof. Sort of like you see on the rim of a cake. Ok, I can do that. So I start doing that. Enter Pookis
“Squeeze out a bunch of frosting and keep the nozzle in the middle and then lift up and it’ll make a dollop.”
She says this AS I’m doing it. Duh.
“You’re not making them big enough, look at the picture, they are bigger. They aren’t big enough.”
FOR *@&’S SAKE!
“You know the candies are supposed to go on top. The peppermint ones. You have to have more frosting or they aren’t going to stay”
I give in, I GLOB frosting on top in hopes of keeping the stupid star mints on the roof. I did ask why it HAD to be like the picture about a million times. BUT NO! NO ONE LISTENS TO ME!
The frustration is rising in me at this point. I want to run it over. I want to chuck it at my yuppie neighbor whom I can’t stand. I want to light it aflame. But I don’t.
“Take a deep breath” my Pookis says. Yes, deep breath indeed. Thank you. Of course three seconds later it’s
“You better put those mints on, the frosting is gonna dry and they aren’t going to stay and then…”
So I stick the mints on.
I get the rest of the mints on. Then one starts falling backward.
“It’s FALLING! It’s going crooked. It’s gonna fall!” Yeah I see that.
I fix it. It falls again. Again. One more time.
“Put more frosting behind it. No behind it. Put a big glob there. No! BEHIND IT!”
Jesus Mary and Joseph.
Right. Now that all the mints are on I hear
“Jess. One of the mints is backwards. It doesn’t have the stripe on it. There’s no stripe. And that’s facing the front of the house. There’s no stripe. It’s gonna look funny. All the other ones have the stripes facing the same direction”
*sigh* At this point, I don’t care if there’s a freaking DOG TURD adorning the front of this abomination of nature. But I refuse to let it defeat me. I turn the house around. I soon realize that it’s a just a lone mint problem. That mint doesn’t have stripes printed on both sides. The rest do. That one is the lone mint ruining the top of the gingerbread house. I try to pull it off to turn it around. No dice. Frosting dried.
“It’s gonna flake off. Don’t pull it. It’s gonna fall off. Are you gonna pull it? It’s gonna look funny.”
A single blank mint. DEAR GOD! ALL IS RUINED! ABANDON SHIP!
I should have abandoned ship. I should have sat on the gingerbread house after I ate a huge bowl of double bean chili topped with Habanero relish and a couple of Budweiser’s. I didn’t. I refused to be defeated. I handled with great care, actually, this mint crisis. I turned lovingly to my Pookis and said, with some *ahem* passion:
“IT’LL BE F&*@ING FINE!”
Now came time to decorate the roof. Great. They give you this teeny tiny bag of frosting with little “v’s” imprinted on it. I guess that was where you were supposed to cut it so you could pipe it out. I don’t know. We argued about that for a couple of minutes before we decided just to cut one of the ends off.
“Just snip a little off! Just a little! Just a TINY little corner. Less than you think!”
Right. Cause I’ve never used a piping bag before.
I do realize there are grooves for you to follow on this stupid ass house, but they do no good. The frosting is a weird consistency and it’s not as easy as it looks. A Wilton Cake specialist I am not.
“They’re messy. You are putting too much on. The loops are too big. Follow the grooves!”
So I turn to my dear Pookis and I say “YOU DO IT THEN!”
She snatches her hands away and puts them very close to her chest as if she’s afraid the frosting bag will magnetically adhere to her hands if they are exposed.
“No!” she says
“AND WHY WOULD THAT BE?” I ask
“Because I can’t do any better.” she says
At this point Mr. B is standing over us laughing hysterically telling us we need our own cooking show. I just about throw the bag at her and get up from the chair. I fold my arms and nod my head. She’s doing it. Whether she likes it or not.
It doesn’t take but a loop and a half before she’s frustrated. I told you she doesn’t have much patience. But we are all giggling at this point. Probably because if we don’t we’ll cry.
Mr. B is still laughing at us at this point. So we tagged team him and put the frosting bag in HIS hand this time.
Of course his is much better. We both agree he’s a butthead and are thankful that he has to leave for work because we are embarrassed now.
Now onto the doors and windows. For the love of God. They are TINY! And the detail is just ridiculous. You can’t possible get detail like that with piping bags. I almost busted out the toothpicks until I remembered that I hate this thing and I wished it dead and just wanted it over with. Pookis at this point is checking her phone
“Are you gonna decorate the whole thing? This is going to take forever!” and continued to check her email and Facebook.
I did the stupid door
“IT LOOKS LIKE CRAP! THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE” I shout
“It’s cause you are putting too much on.” she doesn’t even look up at from her Iphone as she says this. I murmur under my breath about then maybe SHE should do it.
Then I do the stupid windows
I try to stick on a couple of candy canes at the front of the house. But Frosty, who is being a lazy ass just standing there in the yard, is in the way. So I only end up putting one candy cane on by the front door.
“You can just go around the other side of him” she says
No. Cause I’ll knock him over or break him or something. So I put the other candy cane on the back door. Pookis does not approve. Too bad! There are no rules in HELL!
I then try to decorate Frosty the FREAKIN Snowman. He’s SO tiny. The piping bags aren’t small enough. And he needs to be white and the piping bag with the nozzle on it is WAY too big.
“Just cut the bag open. Take the nozzle off and…”
No. Stop right there, I tell her. That’s too much work for just Frosty. I start making his eyes and mouth. She’s laughing at me because globs of frosting and coming out from his eyeballs and mouth.
“WIPE OFF THE NOZZLE” she demands. I do that. It didn’t help. I try to trace his arms out. That didn’t work too well.
“MAKE SURE YOU PUT THE RED STRIPE IN HIS HAT”
Then the buttons proved a challenge. The things they give you for buttons are too big. Pookis is convinced they break the candy. So she goes up to the counter and starts trying to break the candies. It doesn’t work. They are apparently made of diamond. I overrule her and stick GLOBS of frosting on frosting and stick 2 candies instead of 3 on him with frosting. Too bad. Frosty will take the buttons I give him and like it.
The picture on the box (just for reference, I’d like to burn at the stake whoever put a picture of what it’s “supposed” to look like on the box. So that kids and Pookis’s worldwide can bother their parents/BFF’s about how the thing is SUPPOSED to look) has icicles falling from the roof. You read that right. Frosting icicles . Pookis won’t let me get away with just putting on some regular old globs. It has to be icicles .
So, on the first side I made long, thin drips of frosting to emulate this.
This is not easy. The frosting wants to touch the house. It wants to break off. It wants to not dry mid air.
“That looks horrible. They are much bigger on the picture. Make them thicker. THICKER!”
I AM MAKING THEM THICKER! Or I’m trying anyway. I make them as thick as humanly possibly. I follow the roof line all the way around and put icicles all over them. It’ll have to do.
I fill the pathway in front with frosting and stick some spice drops and Spree candies in the walkway, cause that’s what the picture has. I don’t have enough green frosting left to stick candies to the frame of the house so I used spice drops and white frosting and stuck them on. I then got up from the table and handed Pookis a bag of little candies and told her she’s responsible for putting Christmas Lights on top of the house. So she globbed away sticking little different colored candies all over the roof. I was too tired and traumatized at this point to bark orders at her in retaliation. I did dishes. Dishes are super cathartic compared to this. And I hate dishes.
Finally it was done. We both looked like we’d been through war. Hair mussed, out of breath, faces red. We stood looking at it as if it was some type of horrible reptile or predator we had just killed after fighting with it for an hour.
We had a cup of coffee. We could have used a shot of Southern Comfort.And a crack pipe chaser.
What I want to know: HOW THE HELL DID PEOPLE DO THIS BEFORE THEY HAD KITS? SERIOUSLY? BAKE IT YOURSELF AND USE HOME MADE NON CAULK FROSTING!?!?! F*&K THAT!
But now as I sit here typing, this horrible evil spawn of Satan sitting calmly in my field of vision, taunting me with it’s gingerbread taintedness and staring at me with it’s globby frosted hatred, I am calm. I am serene. I have a plan.
At midnight on Dec. 26, 2011, technically AFTER Christmas is over, I will take my little evil gingerbread house. I will take it and place it in a huge bowl.
I will dissolve in 2 bottles of Jack Daniels and drink it to absorb it’s power.
While the Ginger Jack infusion is dribbling down my Christmas sweater I will light the box on fire, igniting first the happy people on the back picture who look like they are having SO. MUCH.FUN and laugh maniacally before burying the ashes in the my yard.
THAT is what I’m gonna do.
This is the world’s perfect gift for an enemy. Buy one for your boss and one for each of his/her children as well. For that PTA mom who gives you shit about not showing up to every meeting. To that asshole UPS driver who throws your packages from across the lawn. Do it. You know you want to.
But if you want to go out and get a gingerbread kit to torture yourself and your children with, go right ahead. When it’s all finished and you and the kiddies are huddled in the corner in frosted color aprons, sweating, shaking, crying and your kids hate you later in life and make you pay for their therapy don’t say I didn’t warm you.