We make a gingerbread house every year. It is one tradition the children seem to think is very important to a successful holiday season. They love
eating all that sugar the challenge of creating an edible masterpiece. And to tell the truth, so do I.
The Handy Man was in the building inspection department of a local county government for 16 years. He started with residential inspections, moved to commercial inspections and ended up as plans review officer before he was laid off due to county budgetary woes. He clearly enjoyed certain aspects of the job more than others, and that was evident when he began to provide critical commentary on our edible house projects. Much to our amusement, we never meet code. But we do try.
This year we used a design we found online. We’ve designed our own houses before, but we
aren’t very good at it did not have as much time this year, so we opted instead to go the easy route. We made our gingerbread, doubling the recipe as required, and cut out all our pieces. (you can find the recipe here.) Once the walls were out of the oven, we had to make our windows. We used crushed jolly ranchers to make our “glass”. It was not tempered glass, but then again, the side windows did not provide adequate egress in case of emergency, either. (Perhaps that was why Lil’ Adventurer was so concerned. He commented that we needed to make a gingerbread bell so that if there was a fire in our gingerbread house, our gingerbread people could get out. Perhaps he is a fire-marshal in the making.) Definitely a code failure.
As you can clearly see, our scaffolding was not OSHA approved. We were unable to find OSHA approved scaffolding for the scale in which we were working. This rig was the support for the walls while the icing mortar dried. We were sited for not anchoring our home to the base plate. Evidently our house would not have stayed in place during a tornado or other heavy wind event. The
urchins sweet children who ate the house surely appreciated that!
We carefully put the roof on, anchoring it with lots of icing. It seems that our roof was also lacking proper rafters. Our home was not engineered, so this was a huge violation of standard building code. The roof had a slight sway to it, but we thought it gave it character. We also thought we would just cover up that flaw with lots of roofing material. Does this make us dishonest home builders?
Dee constructed the chimney out of candy bricks. She did a pretty good job, but she did get frustrated when the chimney refused to rise in a straight line. She eventually did anchor the chimney to the house, albeit she did not use brick ties (another violation) and opted instead only for our harder-than-nails icing mortar. We did not quite get the chimney high enough, either, which was problematic because we used an unapproved potentially flammable material for roofing. We should have known better, but the shredded wheat had the promise of looking really cool!
Finally it was time for some landscaping. We decided we would go more in the “rock garden” direction than the “lush lawn” direction. We used technicolor gravel (also known as nerds) for our “yard”. We completed it with some hardy candy bushes and a cozy campfire. And then we added protection. Because let’s face it, we all feel more secure when our homes are guarded by army men.
Our completely decorated house lasted all of, approximately, 7 minutes and 23 seconds before Curious George (and all our other
urchins children) began to pick the decorations off one at a time. The shredded wheat was not as popular, and it lasted wholly intact until the day after Christmas, when the Handy Man, in an act beloved by the dozen or so children in our home that night, helped the children smash the house into edible bits.
From a standard building code stand-point, our gingerbread house was an astounding failure. It’s a good thing we didn’t take that to heart. The children loved the sugar high provided by eating the ten pounds of sugar used to build it. And we had fun. And isn’t that really what matters in a gingerbread house?