Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingerbread House

This was my first attempt at making my own gingerbread.
The recipe I used turned out to be very tasty (usually I'm not a huge fan of gingerbread) and it is extremely sturdy.
The recipe:
2 3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
2/3 cup molasses
1 egg
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Chill several hours. Roll dough on the back of an oiled cookie sheet. Cookie sheet can be placed on a wet dishtowel to prevent slipping. Place pattern for house on rolled dough and cut around with a sharp knife. Remove excess dough. Bake at 300° for 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure it is well cooked, then place the pattern back on the cooked gingerbread and Trim edges, if necessary. Carefully place it on a flat surface to cool completely before you put the house together.
(from Worldwide Ward Christmas Cookbook)

I used melted sugar to glue the edges. I used a Martha Stewart recipe -
Do not stir it! And DO NOT get any hot sugar on your skin!

Here is the link to the simple template I used:
I reduced the size to 70% of the original.

For decorating, I started with royal icing, but it was too runny. I ended up only using the royal icing on my tree and for the snow on the ground. The icing I ended up using was just store bought white frosting (not whipped, not creamy, and not vanilla- white!)
I just piped it on with a icing tip and a plastic bag.
The kids can't wait to eat it. They already made cookies from the leftover dough.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Tree Skirt

I've been using a vinyl table cloth as the tree skirt for our Christmas Tree for years.  I wanted a real one, but I couldn't justify the expense when the vinyl tablecloth really didn't look so bad....  BUT, it ripped!  Yipee!  Soooo, I had some pretty poinsettia fabric and I purchased two round Christmas tablecloths and turned them into a tree skirt.  Ok, that sounds really simple- it was a bit more complicated than that.
First I measured the largest circumference that I could achieve on the poinsettia fabric, I folded it into fourths and used a pin and a string to create an arc.  This fabric (poinsettia fabric) would be the center of the skirt.
Then I folded one of the table cloths into fourths, the one I chose as the wide border on the top of the skirt.  I laid the poinsettia fabric on top and cut the arc 4 inches wider for the outside circumference, and then cut the inner circumference one inch into the top depth of the poinsettia fabric (so that there would be a seam allowance).
Lastly, I placed the folded tablecloth fabric onto the second round tablecloth (folded into fourths) and cut the arc two inches wider, but I did not cut out the center on this table cloth.  This piece would become the backing and the binding of the tree skirt.
To assemble:
Sew the border fabric onto the poinsettia fabric using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Sandwich the top (poinsettia and boarder sewn together), some batting, and the bottom/binding fabric together- just like you would for a quilt.  Pin or use basting spray to keep the layers together, and then quilt together with your sewing machine.  I used gold thread that I had on hand and it looked lovely.  I just marked the center of the skirt and then quilted lines straight across, intersecting at the center (like you cut a pizza ;).  Then I folded and ironed the 2 inch over-hang from the bottom- creating a binding.  Fold in one inch, iron.  Fold in one more inch and it is a binding over the top layer- iron!  (I call this self-binding, I don't know if that is the technical term).  Then sew around the edge of the folded binding...  Almost done.
Measure how big you would like the hole on your skirt to be.  I borrowed my neighbors tree skirt for this, so I would know what the professionals think is the appropriate hole size.  I marked out the hole with tailors chalk.  Then I sewed a straight line from the edge of the skirt, on the line I just drew, and back down my original straight line to the edge.  I took the scissor (and if you don't think I was scared to do this, then you're wrong!) and I cut between my sewed lines and up and around the hole circle I had just sewn.  Being careful to stay within the sewing- so the sewing could hold the three layers of quilt together.  I made some binding from the scraps of the back fabric and lined the hole with the binding.  This part almost broke my sewing machine.  There are a few places where I was sewing through basically nine layers of fabric.  So go slow!!!
Whew!  All done.   
I love it.  Totally worth the work.