Alexandria · Baking

Home Sweet Gingerbread Home


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Last year for Christmas we were in Cairo…this year Alexandria–not Egypt, but Virginia. As a result, last Christmas Eve, we promised to do next year’s Christmas BIG…well, not that big, but anything is bigger than last year. What a difference a year can make.

Check it out…I’m pretty pleased…but now I have more pressing things to do, like unpack our final shipment of furniture and such from Jordan that arrived yesterday.

Here are the steps:

1. I created a template from thin cardboard, fashioned after a picture of our house.

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The bay window on the third floor in my attempt at perspective.

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2. Make the gingerbread dough. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe here.¬†http://www.marthastewart.com/342245/molasses-gingerbread-cookies

This picture is really just to show off my new mixer.
This picture is really just to show off my new mixer.

3. Roll out the dough; place template pieces over dough to cut out shapes; bake.

4. Here’s my favorite part. I smashed up butterscotch candy to melt into the windows so that they would light up.

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butterscotch candies
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Place smashed candy into window and bake at 350 degrees, watching closely until melted.
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Perfectly melted window
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…and some more windows…

5. Assemble all of the pieces.

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6. Assemble the house using royal icing as the glue. This step got a little dicey with no one to help hold the roof into place, resulting in a slight slope.

7. And the finished product…

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Taken in full light…
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…and in the dark, but with the flash you can barely tell there’s light behind the windows…

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Side view of the Necco roofline
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I cut out a square on the back of the house and placed a battery operate tea light like this one into the center to illuminate the stained butterscotch glass windows.

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Crafting · Decorating · Living in Amman

Cross-Stitched, Handmade Christmas Stockings–A Year in the Making


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With my underwhelmingly open schedule while living in Jordan, I had lots of time to bake homemade bread almost daily, make Greek-style yogurt, read, exercise and craft. A lot! Here are two fine examples of what my idle hands were able to stitch in record time. Normally, such projects would take countless months to make each one; not so in Jordan. I did both of these stockings in about two months. I’m not a skilled sewer, unlike my highly gifted mother, whom I managed to convince (connive?) that no one else would be able to sew the final products nearly as well as her. I think they turned out spectacularly, even better than I imagined with lining, piping and all.

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Raj’s is sewn on a tan linen, and mine is sewn on an off-white, extremely fine¬†Irish linen.

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Crafting

Christmas in Amman in April


Summer weather has finally hit Amman, making my days much happier and enjoyable. I’m still constantly searching for things to keep me busy but given my sorry lack of crafting supplies, I’m limited to what I have on hand, which isn’t much other than felt left over from my calaveras phase. I searched online for felt ornament inspiration and found a treasure trove of ornaments to recreate.

In five days, I’ve managed to crank out an ornament each day. Here’s the menagerie so far:

  • This is my first one and still my favorite. You can pay to download the pattern from this blog: http://rosylittlethings.com, or you can make up your own template, like I did, adjusting the coat to your tastes. (I didn’t have any little buttons like the inspiration piece, but I did have small pearl beads. I’m loving the little wire hangar that I fashioned out of floral wire).

  • Here’s the second one. Again, the inspiration came from the same site as above (http://rosylittlethings.com). It’s a deer in case you couldn’t tell–the upper right black dot is an eye and the dot below the eye to the left is a nose. After I finished it, I asked Raj what he thought, “Oh, it’s an elephant!” was his reaction. (Not what I was looking for!) I admit, the perspective of the eye and nose are a tad confusing at first glance, but once you see the face, you get it.

  • Moving onto ornament number three, it’s a polar bear and the inspiration? You guessed it, the same rosylittlethings.com. He’s cute, but not my favorite. I think he turned out too small.

  • I was especially proud of this one…that is until Raj’s inquiry, “Is that a donkey?” In case you can’t tell, this is no donkey, but a schnauzer (like our dog, Shanti). I really liked the eyebrows, but Raj said the eyes were “too small.” (I should know by now not to solicit opinions). I found inspiration for just about every dog breed except schnauzers, so I was forced to create a template for this one on my own.

Since we didn’t really celebrate Christmas properly this year (we were in Egypt and our Christmas tree was left behind in storage), I’m anticipating a HUGE Christmas next year to make up for the lost celebration (along with ALL of the other holidays that we didn’t get to celebrate like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving…).