Texas is home to the world’s largest gingerbread house

ginger4n-10-webForbes Magazine reports that the world’s most expensive house is a 400,000 square foot skyscraper in Mumbai, with six floors of parking garages and several helicopter pads.  For the world’s largest edible house, look no further than Texas, where the Texas A & M Traditions Club built a 39,201 cubic-foot gingerbread house.  The house has been deemed a Guinness Book World Record holder.  Profits from the fees to enter the house are being donated to St. Joseph’s Level II Trauma Center.

The house at Traditions Club is 60 feet by 42 feet and is 20.11 feet tall at its highest point. It was constructed using 1,800 pounds of butter, 7,200 eggs, 7,200 pounds of flour and close to 3,000 pounds of brown sugar, with 22,304 pieces of candy attached. All told, the house totals 36 million calories!

The Traditions Club website has a time-lapse video of the construction of the house.  Unfortunately, it was on display only until December 14.  We’ll have to visit the record books to see it!  On the Facebook page for Texas A & M Traditions Club, they report that they met their goal of $200,000 fundraising dollars.  In addition, Habitat for Humanity deconstructed the house to recycle the materials.

Need a Little Christmas? You can have a piece of 2013.

Noah’s grandmother Christine is the first to decorate the day after Thanksgiving, and she is also the first to pack her decorations, just hours after December 25.

Holiday lights, train, and other displays are disappearing, many ending with the new year, often around the 12th day of Christmas, January 5.

Until January 12, you still have time, though, to witness one of the best gingerbread displays in America, Gingerbread Lane, at the New York Hall of Science in New York City.  This gingerbread display, designated as Guinness World Record Holder, is celebrating its 20th year.  It is the handiwork of one man, chef Jon Lovitch, and he works all year to build his sugar-coated creations.  Here is a great New York Daily News article that includes several videos demonstrating the construction process. What I like best about Lovitch is that he has a PLAN that puts  The Yule Log 365 to shame.  Here’s his annual timeline–and Lovitch does all of this while holding a full-time job!

On January 12, Lovitch disassembles the village and gives away the individual parts—houses, trains, and other confections.  The give-away begins at noon–bring your own cardboard box.

Gingerbread House Competition–great family or workplace fun

All this week, Tracey, Jane and I have been carving small chunks of time our of our lunch break to work on our house for the gingerbread competition.  We pooled our resources (and the talents of Jane’s husband to cut some of the gingerbread with a saw) to complete our entry, which is due on Monday.

I received an email from another team informing me that theirs is, without a doubt, the entry that will win.  Stefanie stopped by this afternoon to tell me that she and her partner are excited about their entry and enjoyed working together.  I saw them after school hunched conspiratorially over their pre-boxed kit, quite happily exchanging ideas.

On the down-side, there are an equal number of teams who are scrambling to get their house finished by the deadline and another few who didn’t enter this year at all because they didn’t have time. Depending on the spirit in your workplace, the competition needs some key enthusiastic participants to energize the larger group, and it doesn’t have to be expensive–time is, perhaps, the most valuable resource.  Fortunately, a pre-made house kit costs under $10.00, and, depending on the rules you create for your group, costs very little to decorate.  Last year, the display was up for three work days in a common area, and it received a lot of enthusiasm.  Everyone had a favorite or  just plain marveled at the effort of their co-workers.

Our friend Pam duplicated this idea with her extended family by hosting a holiday get-together with each family bringing and decorating a pre-made kit.  Then, they voted on the best house. Similar to a chili-cookoff and family game nights, the large group was gathered together for a cell phone-free evening, with some actively working on the house and others enjoying the spectator support.  A gingerbread competition puts the capital “F” in Family.

Children can join in their own friendly competition, decorating houses made of graham crackers or decorating more simple shapes like pre-baked ginger people and trees.  Providing equal candies and helping with the assembly (hot glue is your best friend, unless you are purist and stick with icing) can control the time commitment for younger children.  This is an excellent activity for Girl Scout troops, winter birthday parties (have a Cake Boss-type party), mother-daughter gatherings, youth groups and more.

There are plenty of local gingerbread house competitions–ones where the contestants must bake their own gingerbread (been there, done that–once) or can create using a pre-made shape.  These are a great opportunity for groups or individuals to enter if you are looking for more competition.  Jeremy and I will be taking gingerbread houses to the Kennedy Krieger Festival of Trees next year.  Here are the rules for their display (which is a display and auction, not a competition).

I am including a link to the Gingerbread House Heaven website where you can get ideas, purchase items, and copy patterns.gingerbread house mugs

Finally, if you are having a gingerbread-themed gathering, and you lean toward the scale of Martha Stewart-style preparation, check out this blog, ironically titled “Not Martha” with instructions to make mini-gingerbread houses to adorn mugs of coffee or hot chocolate.

Bo and the Presidential Christmas

As our President’s Day celebration continues, this is a shout out to all dog-lovers.  I visited the Newseum this fall, and, more than anything, I was captivated by the First Dogs:  American Presidents and Their Pets.  While it appears that no president has had the good sense to own an Australian Shepherd, the Obama family made Bo, their Portuguese Water dog, the center of the White House decorations in 2011.  The black and white dog, re-created in marzipan, licorice and marshmallows, felt, and, even garbage bags, guarded almost every room.

Bo assembled from trash bags.

Our friend Gini, who receives only a token photograph of our dogs each Christmas, has something in store for 2012.  I can wait to start designing our Blue Christmas (and Peso) replicas!