How to Make a Homemade Gingerbread House

Magnificient Gingerbread Houses

These days, it’s easy to never have to make anything from scratch. Want to make cookies? Just pop them out of the package and bake them. Gingerbread houses? There’s a kit for that, and I buy one every year. But do you know what I just discovered? That with a little bit of advance planning and some creativity, you can actually make some super cool houses at home that will knock the Christmas socks off the ones you buy at the store.

I looked around for a good standard recipe and settled on this one, from King Arthur Flour. You know it’s going to be good coming from them, plus there are very detailed instructions with photos to guide you through each step of the process. Click through the link to get started on the basic recipe, as well as to get some templates for pieces, depending on which style house you’ll be looking to make.

Not sure what type of house to construct? Why not let it fit your personality whether that be modern, minimalist or traditional. Here are some great examples from around the web to get you started. You’re only limited by your imagination so get building!

Modern Gingerbread House by Hometta

Gourmet Gingerbread House

Go Red

Mid-Century Modern Gingerbread House

 

A nice traditional house with some great detail work

A Gingerbread McMansion

More Modern

A front lawn filled with ice cream cones

Mini Gingerbread Houses to Perch on Your Mug

Gingerbread Church

Architectural Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Modern….plus a trailer

Gingerbread Row Houses

Gingerbread Estate

Where Malibu Barbie would live if she lived in a Gingerbread House

Get Crafty: Making Homemade Kid’s Christmas Ornaments

CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENTS If your tree looks anything like mine, you have all the good ornaments on the top third, and all the non-breakable, ‘can find another one just like it at Target tomorrow’ ones on the rest of it. Actually, if your tree looks anything like mine, you used to have the bottom decorated but now all those ornaments are under the couch or in the dog bowl or sitting on the table because you refuse to put them back up one more freaking time. Can you tell I have a one-year-old in the house? Yeah. But this one-year-old also has two older brothers, and for the last few years we have spent some “crafty time” making cute little ornaments that they love to pull out of the box every year.

Now, another way you may be like me is that the entire extent of your sewing skills entails dropping things off at the tailor, so my list of homemade ornaments will not require you to wield needle and thread, just glue and whatever material the activity calls for. We like to label the finished product with the name of the child and the year we made it so every December, the ornament box is a time capsule of sorts for us to go through. Right before the baby tries to destroy them all again, that is.

Here are some great ideas that are easy to do and fun to make with your kids, what level you decide to place them at on your tree is entirely up to you!

Reindeer Clothespin Ornaments (you know you made these too as a kid!) Also, consider staining some brown to get them more of a true reindeer color and painting some pink to get some cute little females (white fuzzy tail required!):

     

Handprint Snowmen:

Festive Photo:

Rudolph Balls (insert dirty joke here):

Cookie Cutter Ornaments:

Paint Chip Christmas Tree Ornaments:

Reindeer Handprint Ornaments:

Scrabble Ornaments (to make, try spelling each child’s name and attaching ribbon on the back to hang):

Craft Stick Snowflakes:

Button Wreath:

Decorative CD’s: (because who actually uses CD’s anymore these days anyway?!):

Stained Glass Cookie Ornaments:

Which ornaments will you be trying with your kids this year?

Snow Angel Day

Woke up to a foot of snow this morning and the weather people are forecasting another six inches to fall throughout the day. Ah, New England in winter! The windows are covered with windswept snow and the tree limbs are almost breaking from their heavy covered limbs. The streets are empty, except for the lone vehicle going who knows where. And there is a special quietness emanating from the snow covered landscape. With a second cup of coffee…I will take the time to take in this wonderful morning. But soon, the neighborhood children will all be about. Some will shovel the front walks and some will pull their sleds to the closest hill. However, a few will give in to that inevitable feeling to just fall back into the soft snow and leave their imprint of their very own snow angel. Remember that feeling? As you swished your arms back and forth, closed your eyes and opened your mouth to catch snowflakes, you wondered what your angel will look like. It is a memory that stays with you forever.

What To Do With All That Artwork from Your Child’s School

My son Leo goes to a great daycare, and one of my favorite aspects of the education-based center is how much emphasis they place on creative activities. During a typical week, Leo's parent folder will fill up with about 10 pieces of artwork. It's so fun to go through his creations and see his little style emerging. But before I knew it, I had a giant stack of paper gathering dust in my home office. I felt awful throwing it out, but it was starting to drive me bananas. Also sitting in the corner of my office were two 16" x 20" frames I bought at Ikea more than a year ago. Bingo! On a rainy Saturday, I had Leo help me pick out his favorite pieces, and we haphazardly arranged them in the frames. His school had also sent home photos of him creating some of this artwork, so I put those in the frame as well. I recycled the pieces I didn't use (and got over that way quicker than I thought I would!) and hung the frames right outside Leo's room. It's not Picasso, but the look of pride on Leo's face every time he sees them is just as priceless.

Summertime Kids Activity: Building a Birdhouse

As a grandmother, I'm always trying to think of fun and educational things to do with my grandchildren. My grandson Leo, is an avid bird-chaser and squeals at the site of any sparrow, sandpiper or seagull. Taking a cue from his curiosity and enthusiasm  I found a great summertime activity we can do together: building a birdhouse. There are many birdhouse kits for sale to choose from. One in particular is "Melissa & Doug Build Your Own Birdhouse." This one I really like. It comes with everything you need: the wood pieces, screws, paint and a paint brush. With a little guidance, young children can put together this charming birdhouse. When completed, they can add their creative touch with the paints provided. Let it dry and then hang it in a place where the whole family can see it. Also, there is a wonderful children's book called About Birds: A Guide for Children, by Cathryn Sill. It has beautiful illustrations. The text is sweet and simple for toddlers to young elementary age children. It is definitely a winner! So take a break, feed the birds and watch nature in its glory. Both of these products are available at Amazon.com