gingerbread

Making gingerbread with Tinkles

Not so conveniently placed, Tinkles was sitting in front of the pantry this morning inviting the kids to cook with her!

Tinkles sitting in a bowl with baking ingredients nearby

She was helpful by getting out a bowl and spoons, some flour, sugar and food dye, and left a note for the children. She even had two Christmas aprons ready for the children, along with some gingerbread train cutters.

Being a school day, we can’t do the cooking until this afternoon (but it does help fill in the ‘what do we take to the after school party tomorrow?’ question!) Of course, we will have to use a different bowl and spoon as Tinkles is sitting in the bowl! I didn’t realise it straight away, but my son wrote a note to Tinkles in response, too.

invitation to bake from Tinkles

Tinkles asked “Would you like to bake with me? Maybe we could make some biscuits…” and my son responded with “Yes, But I have to go to school and I can’t touch you!”

 

Christmas Lindt

Knowing I love Christmas, my husband bought me a box of Christmas Lindt when he was at the shops yesterday which was very sweet (pun not intended, but apt!)

silver box containing Lindt chocolate balls

As well as the usual delicious Lindor and dark chocolate balls, the box contained  a gingerbread ball and a peppermint cookie ball.

Four wrapped Ind balls from their Christmas range

I loved the Lindor and dark balls, of course. The peppermint cookie ball was nice enough but I am not keen on peppermint with chocolate so this was never going to excite me very much – it was Lindt though so smooth and pleasant will do! However, the gingerbread ball was not gingerbread at all to my taste – it was more like the crystallised ginger flavour rather than the subtle spiciness of gingerbread.

So, as much as I love all things Christmas, I think I will stick with the general Lind range rather than their Christmas ball selection.

What do you think of their Christmas balls?

A gingerbread sleigh and reindeer

Happy Gingerbread House Day!

To celebrate Gingerbread House day (yes, there really is a day celebrating gingerbread!), ChristmasJen and I made some gingerbread to give Santa a sleigh.

A gingerbread sleigh shown from different angles

We used a gingerbread recipe known to work well and a cutter set that I had grabbed from an op shop.

Cutter set

Using the cutters, we cut out two sleigh sides, two sleigh ends and four reindeer. My tip if you create a gingerbread sleigh – cut half the reindeer with the cutter upside down so some will face the other way for decorating.

gingerbread pieces and an empty piping bag

Baked gingerbread pieces

The set made this all very easy, but you could cut out cardboard templates instead – the ends are just squares and the sides were about 3 times longer with curved sections to look like a sleigh. Any other animal cutters may work if you don’t feel able to draw some reindeer templates!

Creating the sleigh

So you will need gingerbread and icing, plus a board to sit your sleigh on.

  • two sleigh sides
  • two sleigh ends
  • reindeer (as many as you want – I got four out of the recipe above)
  • egg whites
  • icing sugar

To make the icing, start by beating two egg whites until they are white and form stiff peaks.

Stiff peaks in the egg whites are important

Then add icing sugar, about half a cup at a time, to make a really thick icing. I used 3.5 cups in total, and probably could have used more. Remember that thinner (ie runnier) icing takes longer to set so you will end up holding pieces together for a while.

Spoon standing in icing to show how stiff the mixture is

Stiff enough to hold up a spoon!

Lay out your gingerbread pieces and pipe some icing to stick them together as a sleigh.

Sticking pieces of gingerbread together to form Santa's sleigh

Let the construction begin!

Decorating the sleigh

The reindeer were easier to decorate lying down, but the sleigh can be decorated once it is put together – especially if you want to decorate the back of the sleigh.

Some lollies ready to use in decorating the gingerbread

Some of the lollies used on our gingerbread sleigh

My son had a wonderful time using the remaining icing to stick on Smarties, candy canes and lolly cupcakes.

CHild's hand attaching lollies to a gingerbread sleigh

He was generous with the icing as he attached lollies!

To finish off our sleigh, we added a marshmallow Santa on top.

 

Decorating the reindeer was quick and simple – and we added a glacé cherry to one to be Rudolph!

Decorating gingerbread reindeer

They gained personality as added decorations!

Then we ran long streams of snow (also known as icing!) out in front of the sleigh and stood the decorated reindeer in the snow. This is where stiffer icing would have helped as I need supports for the reindeer for a little while as the icing fully set.

We used some sour pencils to form the reins between the sleigh and reindeer, and we were done!

Santa's gingerbread sleigh

Santa’s gingerbread sleigh

It was a lot of fun to make Santa’s sleigh. And the reaction at a local Christmas party when I presented the sleigh was priceless! There were compliments from adults, but more striking was the amazement and wonder on lots of little faces – I do love delighting young children! It didn’t take long for there to just be an empty board with bits of discarded icing…

Lego calendars quite different

Our Lego advent calendar countdown continues with days three to five, and I must say there is a clear difference between the City and Friends versions this year.

In past years, my daughter has felt let down on a couple of days but overall loved the calendars. This year, she is really disappointed with the Friends calendar so far – and jealous of her brother’s City calendar. And rightly so. I’m afraid.

Day 3

Lego City produced a cute little fireplace that fits nicely into the corner of the play board.

Lego fireplace for day 3 of advent calendar

Lego Friends has a cute little rabbit on a slide (at least we think it is for the rabbit to slide down).

Lego Friends rabbit from 2017 advent calendar

Day 4

Pleasingly, Lego Friends had more pieces to put together today as my daughter created a structure – I thought it was a fireplace/mantlepiece, but my daughter sat the rabbit inside it so she thinks it is a pet house/stand apparently! What do you think it looks like? It also came with a carrot, which supports the pet stand idea I guess!

Lego rabbit sitting in a mantelpiece structure

Lego City had a chair, lamp and side table combination to put together, and it fits nicely beside the fireplace 🙂

Lego chair, amp and side table

Day 5

My son was very happy to open up and build a gingerbread house on day five of the City advent calendar.

gingerbread house from Lego City advent calendar

However, the sarcasm just dripped off my seven year old’s tongue as she said “Oh, this is exciting to build”. Inside the fifth flap she found a small Lego dog – no accessories, nothing to build, just a plastic bag with a tiny dog in it which she was bitterly disappointed with – especially in comparison to a gingerbread house.

Lego pug dog in front of Stephanie on a ski mobile

Puppy is cute but still disappointing

I sincerely hope the next few days are better in the Friends calendar.

Have you had any advent calendar disappointments?

Christmas in Melbourne

Earlier this week, we had a beautiful day in the city of Melbourne just walking around and viewing the Christmas decorations and displays.

I wish I could visit all the Aussie cities for Christmas, but I’ll have to make do with Melbourne! At least I can share some of the beautiful sites here, though.

Collage of photos of Lego Christmas display - tree, sleigh, star, Santa

First, we wen to Fed Square and saw the largest Lego Christmas tree in the southern hemisphere – it’s nearly 10 m tall! It is a very Aussie tree with koalas and kookaburras in the tree and obvious gifts underneath (like a cricket bat, footy and surfboard).

Then, we looked at the City Square which has a whole Christmas feel. As well as a tree and signposts, we saw plant reindeer, Santa’s seat and red flowers everywhere. The kids also enjoyed interactive aspects such as having their faces in an elf picture and hearing Santa laugh.

Collage of Myer windows, Christmas 2015

Next were the Myer windows, of course, with the story of the Little Dog and the Christmas wish. This is the 6oth year of the Myer windows which is quite something!

Collage of gingerbread village 2015

And we finished with epicure’s Gingerbread village. This was amazing and a fun way to see Melbourne. The village includes landmarks like Flemington racecourse (with Santa and his sleigh on the roof of the grandstand!), the MCG, St Kilda beach, Melbourne zoo (although I’ve never seen the animals stand in snow before!), the arts centre and the Grand Prix. It’s fun spotting the places and the little details throughout, and amazing to realise it is all made out of gingerbread and icing!

Merry Christmas Melbourne!

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