Halloween Security

“An’ it’s the scariest night of the year,” declared Jabberwocky, “An’ we need security to scare away all those frightenin’ ghosts and goblins!”

Yes, ‘tis.  And, to that end, we had employed the most frightening security available—oh, alright, it was cheap and available, what more do you want?

So far it’s working.  We’ve only had one butterfly, a large royal queen in a fur, and one little princess appear at our door.

Here is our reason for feeling so secure:


Yes!  The GIANT PUMPKIN POODLE!  Enough to frighten off any prospective ghoul or ghost!


Security never rests as long as we are in potential danger, that’s for sure. 

Well………maybe it’s not for sure………..


Finishing touches!

Let your creations of Gingerbread houses dry overnight so all the frosting is set.  Then, wrap them up in cellophane, tie with a ribbon, and place in a gift bag if you wish.

Wrapped up and ready for display:




And they fit right in a gift bag….


Gingerbread House Party

“And Cupcake’s birthday, too!”

Yes, was!  Had a great time today with some of the Y-Knots decorating gingerbread birdhouses/  And the birthday celebration for Cupcake.


This is what they began with (above)…….


Cupcake received her birthday basket from the group.


She seemed pleased!


The workers have begun the process—it got very quiet for a while as they concentrated on decorating the birdhouses.








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So cheerful and pretty!

But there are more to do!


Happy Halloween


On our Saturday travels, we spied this red-neck display for Halloween!  Pretty funny, actually………….


Wherein Declarations are Declared!

“Whereas neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail nor dark of night nor impending holidays shall prevent us from our ‘pointed rounds,” began Jabberwocky, “so it was that you and the Brigade headed out on a Friday morning to go to sales, didn’ you all?”

“There!  There is one declaration!” finished Jabber, rather proud of herself.

Hmmmmmm, yes.  Guilty.  Even though the season has changed dramatically in the last couple days……..

“Yes, has,” Jabberwocky commented, “’Cause of the fragrant aroma of gingerbread and spray paint in the air…….”

Ahhh, yes! ‘Tis true! Things are beginning to bake and finalized plans are about to be made…………

“Do they know?”

Well, I’m certain the Y-Knots and the Brocanting Brigade know, yes, along with others who are friends and acquaintances, not to mention TMWL. (“Yes, let’s not mention him.” interjected Jabber “and let’s not mention Security, either.  There.  There is declaration number two!”)

Just this morning the Brigade swarmed a sale where half the items were Christmas items and Me, Myself and I almost went into a swoon. Thumper and Sosew along with Girlfriend and Vanna held me up while I continued to select choice items.

“You are zaggerating!” commented Jabberwocky.

Oh alright, to be more accurate, they held up items for me to see and purchase!  Then they purchased some of their own.  Let’s just say that Sosew will not need any new shoes for…ummmm…decades.  It was a Great Sale!

  (“An’ so you declared some stuff, too.  Good.  I like to ensure we live up to the topic of the post, you know.” finished Jabberwocky who is a bit too particular if you ask me. 

“Nobody did!” finished Jabber as she rather indignantly sauntered off.)

So, ‘course, I have to show some of the treasures to you!


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     And more!

I am remiss……..

One of the funnest things for me to do is read blogs.  To that end, I have a friend who is an artist in Long Beach, CA, and blogs.  I have not checked her blog for a while, so today I did.  Guess what?  She put up a post just for me!  And I am very late to go see it!  Thank you Annie!

You must take a look at it!  And, then, of course, you must go look at her beautiful artwork, one piece of which I am eagerly awaiting to be delivered to my house!  Yes! 


And here is her artwork website—she is very creative and talented, of course!


Do enjoy!

Assembling your Gingerbread structure


Cut out, chilled, and ready to bake (above).


Just out of the oven (front and back pieces).

Ready to assemble:

You will need to make your frosting recipe (I buy a can of Wilton’s Meringue Powder and make the Royal Frosting recipe which is enclosed in the product) first and have a piece of Styrofoam on which to construct your gingerbread structure.  In addition, it is very helpful to have a piping bag and tip, some kitchen towels, plastic wrap, a spatula or two  and some small containers to hold up the sides of your structure as you put it together.

For decorating the structure, you will need assorted candy and perhaps other edible items such as pretzels, cookies, cereal or any other items which you may want to use.  Decorate only after you are certain your structure is secure!  (This may be the next day.)

1.  Make the frosting as directed for Royal Frosting in the powdered meringue instructions.  As soon as it is ready to use, fill a frosting bag (use whatever type you like) fitted with a medium tip (again, whatever tip you desire to work with–I find medium is best), twist the top of the bag and wrap the entire filled frosting bag with a damp washcloth.  You may use a small metal spatula to put on the frosting, but I find the work not quite as neat as piping it on.   Cover your
remaining frosting with plastic wrap and over that place a damp dish towel or two.  This will prevent it from hardening as you work with your structure.  (Do not use WET towels or your frosting will begin to melt.)

2.  Take your structure pieces and put in the glass windows.  Where there are window openings, pipe frosting around the openings on the back side (inside) of the gingerbread and place a window to each.



3.  Let these windows dry until the frosting is completely hardened which may take a half hour to several hours.  If you find that the frosting is not hardening quickly, then wrap up your frosting bag very securely in damp dish towels and
again cover with plastic wrap.  Secure the bowl with frosting with additional damp dish towels and secure with a rubber band around the edge.  You may place them in the refrigerator for several hours and they will still be useable.

4.  Pipe frosting at the bottom and up one side edge of the front piece and place on the Styrofoam.  Use anything handy to hold the piece upright and in place.  (This could be salt and pepper shakers or metal spice containers or whatever will
hold it in place).

5.  Take one side, pipe frosting at the bottom and up one side which will attach to the front.  Place it on the Styrofoam at a right angle and hold in place or secure in place.

6.  Observe how you secured the front to the side.  You will need to make sure the other side and back line up with them.  Before you frost and place the other two sides, hold them in place.  If you need to trim, you may do so
now.  Use a very sharp knife and carefully whittle to the desired size.  Do not try to cut as you will break your piece.

7.  Repeat step 4 and 5 with the back and last side piece.  Hold and secure as you did with the other pieces.  They should stand on their own.  If you see openings where the sides meet, you might want to run some frosting inside to secure and close up any gaps.  Frosting is a wonderful way to camouflage
any mistakes!  Running additional frosting inside will make your structure more sturdy.

8.  Ideally, you will let these 4 pieces stand and dry for several hours or until the frosting is completely hardened.

9.  Hold the two roof pieces in place.  Do they fit?  If they need to be whittled, now is the time to do that.

10.  Run frosting up the two sides to the front and along the top of the front piece of the roof.  Place the roof in place and secure however you can to hold it in place.
Generally, it will just adhere without additional support.

11.  Recheck the final roof piece to make sure it will fit.  Now, pipe frosting along the sides, top of the back piece and the edge of the roof piece that meets at the top.


12.  Place and secure.  Let dry several hours before you decorate.

Decorate as you wish!  There are many ideas online or come up with your own ideas.

Have fun.  As you gain experience working with gingerbread, it will become easier.



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Above gingerbread pieces decorated by Granddaughter last year.

Beauty Parlor Day for Security

“And just when I thought I had the upper paw on her, too!” exclaimed Jabberwocky.


Making Windows for a Gingerbread House

Please read all directions before beginning.

Before you begin making the windows:

Lay one of your structure pieces (front, back or side)down on parchment paper. Draw around the inside of the windows you want to fill with ‘glass.’ Do this for each piece in your structure, leaving enough room between your ‘window’ outlines—remember the liquid sugar will run a bit.

Flip the parchment paper over so that the pencil or ink outlines are on the bottom. You will pour the liquid sugar over each outline to make a window. Remember you want to make the windows large enough so that you can adhere them inside the gingerbread structure all around the windows. (If you don’t flip the parchment paper over, the ink or pencil will adhere to your liquid sugar and make lines in your windows.)

Finally, I’d suggest that you make windows if your structure has window openings large enough—tiny openings just don’t allow enough room to place windows. Judgment is up to you on this!

Here is a recipe you can use:

2 cups sugar
2/3 cups water
2 Tablespoons corn syrup

Bring sugar, water, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat.
Do not stir.  Cover pan until steam dissolves any crystals.  Uncover and boil 5 minutes or until syrup is amber.  Remove from heat. 

IMMEDIATELY pour onto parchment paper, using a spoon,
into the desired shapes.

(Martha Stewart recipe, Martha Stewart’s Christmas, 1989)

Some things to think about:

1.  You might consider wearing some inexpensive, clear plastic surgical gloves which allow flexibility–Be very careful. I also try to wear long sleeves too.  Liquid sugar is extremely hot and you can be badly burned if you get any on your skin.

(I’ve made this for 20 years.  Keep this warning in mind.  Liquid sugar HURTS! when your skin comes into contact with it—even a tiny little bit.)

2.  Keep children away from this.  At this point, keep them out of the kitchen.

(and NO JABBERWOCKIES EITHER.  Pay attention!)

3.  Once you pour the liquid onto the parchment, it will harden very fast. 

4.  Whatever is left in the pan will also harden quickly.  I’d recommend you work fast.  If you do not do this fast, you will have a pan full of hardened sugar.  This stuff is like concrete, and you don’t want that!

If you have some left, just pour it out on a piece of parchment paper.  It will harden almost immediately.  Then you can give it to those patient little kids to nibble (it’s candy, after all)—the kids you banned from the kitchen.  Or nibble it yourself.  Or throw it away.  DO NOT POUR IT DOWN THE SINK. 

When you are done, place the pan in the sink and fill with water.  The water will eventually dissolve the leftover hardened sugar.  Let it sit overnight and most of it should melt off without a lot of scrubbing.


Gingerbread Dough recipe

I assume you have been up all night finished your design and cut out the pattern for your gingerbread structure?  Yes?  Very good!  Set it aside.  You will now make the dough and roll out pieces of gingerbread.  I do not recall from where I got this recipe, but I like it because it is quick and easy and the finished pieces assemble well.  But, of course, you may wish to look online for other recipes.  (Hint:  you want a dough which does not rise much.)

Assemble all your ingredients first and be sure to measure accurately, although I find this recipe is fairly ‘forgiving.’

Gingerbread Dough

6 3/4 cups flour (I do not sift it—all purpose flour is fine)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt      

Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  (I have a large glass Pyrex bowl I use for this.)

1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup margarine (two sticks—and I use butter)

Combine light corn syrup, light brown sugar, and margarine in a 2 quart saucepan.  Stir constantly over medium heat until margarine is melted.  (I let it boil for a minute or two so the sugar is completely dissolved.)   Stir the liquid into the flour mixture.  Mix well using wooden spoon and then your hands to mix as dough becomes stiff.  Chill the dough until it is easy to handle.  (I find it cools down as I knead it, but I do not want it cold, just cool enough so that I can handle it, so I skip chilling the dough at this point.)

Place a piece of parchment paper onto workspace and place some gingerbread dough on it, smash it down with the palms of your hands.  Cover with another piece of parchment paper.  Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.  Place all onto a cookie sheet.  Repeat until all the dough is rolled out.  Chill for several hours.

*Hint:  you can also roll out the gingerbread on plastic wrap.  I have a heavy marble rolling pin (acquired for $3 at a garage sale, of course!) on which I place spacers so that I get an even sheet of gingerbread as I roll.  The marble rolling pin does not pick up the gingerbread, so I find I can roll it out directly without a covering of parchment or plastic wrap.   The final rolled piece does NOT need to be symmetrical.  You are going to cut out your pieces, anyway.  If you use plastic wrap, you will need the top covering piece to be parchment so you can flip the sheet of gingerbread over onto the parchment paper before you cut it out.  Chill the gingerbread sheet first before you flip it over onto the parchment.

Now you are going to go “chill” for a while.  I’d say two hours or more.  The gingerbread sheets will last for a week or so in the fridge, so you can delay the baking process for a bit.  It is best to cover the gingerbread sheets once they are cool if you do not bake for more than a day or so.  You don’t want the gingerbread to dry out.

Now……….you have waited long enough, right?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove 1 gingerbread sheet with its parchment paper.  Lay pattern out and cut out with gingerbread still on the parchment paper.  Remove excess pieces of gingerbread.  Put cut out pieces on their parchment paper on a cookie sheet (just slide the parchment paper, pieces and all onto the sheet) and place back into the refrigerator to chill for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  (The excess pieces may be re-rolled a time or two, but I find that eventually it becomes too brittle to re-roll.)

Remove from refrigerator and then………

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Check for air bubbles during baking and poke them with a sharp knife or toothpick.  Be sure that the gingerbread is completely baked, not doughy at all inside.  You want hard, solid gingerbread pieces to work with. 

Slide parchment with the hot shapes onto a flat cool surface (countertops work just fine).  Make sure all pieces lie flat.  When semi-cool, slide off the parchment paper, and then flip over onto the other side to complete cooling. 
Note:  dark corn syrup or dark brown sugar may be substituted and will result in darker dough.

When you have all your pieces baked, set them somewhere to dry for a day or so. 

I will give you more instructions next post.

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