Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Building That Gingerbread Story, Heart and Soul with Guest Blogger Mia Ross and our Very Own Ruthy!

Merry Christmas, Seekerville!

 Mia here, with an insight I had while the kids were decorating their gingerbread house last year. It's a lot like writing a book. No, really--it is! Let me explain.

First, you need the right ingredients to make the dough. Flour, spices, you know the drill. Well, for writing you need an idea, then some way to get it down (paper and pen, computer, stone and chisel--whatever you use). Mix them together and toss them in the oven for a while to make them solid enough to work with. Okay, don't toss your computer in the oven, but the concept is the same. Once you've got your writing ingredients are together, you have to let them cook for a while.

When the gingerbread (or your basic idea) is ready, design and cut out the pieces. Carefully put together the walls and then the roof pieces, making sure each section is solid before moving on. It's the same with a story, where you need a structure with vivid characters and plenty of conflict to keep things standing straight. If one of those things isn't strong, everything will fall apart...just like the first gingerbread house we made many years ago ;)

A strong beginning structure helps ensure a successful result!!! 
Once your house is together and standing on its own, you get to pick out the candy and other goodies that will make it pretty. If you're like my family, we use stuff we like to eat, 'cause that makes it more fun. Anyway, in your book, the candy is secondary characters, the setting, and the unique elements you've chosen to make your story special. You don't decorate your house just like the one in Betty Crocker's picture, do you? Well, your book shouldn't be like anyone else's, either. Your personal spin is what separates your work from other people's, and that's just as important as the structure.

For more on making your story distinctive, I give you Ruth Logan Herne, who's one-of-a-kind herself :)

One of a kind????? 

Oh, I love that description! It pairs nicely with my wish to grow older and be considered eccentric...

Instead of crazy, LOL!

When Mia first suggested this, I grabbed onto the idea and pretended it was mine, then my stinkin' conscience made me own up and say it was her idea, but you get the point, right?

We use the basics.... Add some spice or your gingerbread is tasteless.... and then embellish!

Candy cane-lined walkways approaching the house?  

That's your character's journey, and all the better if you use ROCK CANDY for the path. An easy journey makes for a boring book....




You get it!  ;)

The peppermint shingled roof can be all of the stuff weighing the hero and heroine (or protagonists if this isn't a romance) down... a heavy roof needs a great deal of support, so there's your faith element, in the strong sides you give your story and your house.... 

Or envision your "house" as a welcoming church, a mansion of God's presence:

How stinkin' cute is that??????

Gumdrop bushes add whimsy.

Frosting-scalloped clapboard draws the reader (or Hansel and Gretel, poor dears!!!) into the story.

Or the cauldron!!!  :)

Now you see my buddy Mia is carefully building her walls..... SIGH.... Because you know I have to go back and re-caulk mine because I don't do a ton of pre-planning.... and most folks use that awful-tasting royal icing for their construction...

I refuse to ruin a good cake with that stuff, so I make a stiffer buttercream, melt-in-your-mouth good but NOT AS STURDY... which means I have to come up with strength in other ways, right?

But whichever way you're wired as a writer, the balance of steady-to-sturdy-to-whimsy-to-romance-to-faith is very much like building a house.

The plus side with Gingerbread homes?

Some lucky person gets to eat them!  

Today, we're serving "Haddon Hall Gingerbread" inside! The famous boys' school lemon sauce is the perfect embellishment for the spiced cake made famous generations ago! This original recipe was originally called "Fort Atkinson Gingerbread" and was made famous in the 1870's.... a bride's dream was to get this old brown-covered Gold Medal Cookbook.... Yes, this cookbook was the precursor to the Betty Crocker versions we use today!

And.... Mia and I have three two-packs of books to give away today: Delightful Christmas stories, guaranteed to have an off-the-charts "Awwww..." factor! Because that's how a good Christmas story should strike us.

Grace. Joy. Peace on Earth.

Leave a comment and we'll toss your name in the cat dish.... (Mia does not use cat dishes, she's much more refined than I am.... but we KNEW that, right????)


  1. LOVE this post, Mia and Ruthy! However, it's a little past midnight and now I'm hungry for gingerbread...and candy, and icing *sigh*. But I enjoyed the way you ladies compared building a good story to building a gingerbread house--SO clever (and those g'bread houses/Church are adorable). Please toss my name in the cat dish! Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

  2. p.s. SQUEAL!! Just realized I'm the first commenter, LOL. I've only been first one other time! (No, it doesn't take much to thrill me *wink*). Hugs, PJ

  3. Yay CatMom, first first first... and with a cat dish to fill too. :)

    Mia and Ruthy very clever! And I like how you worked it together also.

    I'm at the just starting stage, though it's 3rd in the series. Trying to figure out if that means I need a g'bread VILLAGE! Each house will be different, but have similar ingredients.

    That's my story for now, and sticking to it... Even if with butter cream icing!

    Thanks ladies! and Merry Christmas!

  4. Ok I my first thought was my brain is fried I went to Yankie-belle cafe instead of Seekerville. (and my brian is fried!) then I see the gingerbread house and think about making gingerbread which I may add I dont like. then read about building the story. Did you know it can hurt ones wrists to need and roll out the dough I am sure there is a message in that that it can hurt to write or something! or is it just me.

    Oh I do love the look of the houses. I am not sure if I have Mia's book. I know I am about to order Ruthy's (I cant wait to see if I win!) I dont have Mia's but will add it to my order. (gotta love book depository)

  5. KC did you say icing, I love icing

  6. Good job Mia and Ruthy. I can't wait until tomorrow to see all the spicy things everyone comes up with to juxtapose writing and gingerbread houses. Sounds like fun around here tomorrow. That will be today won't it?

  7. What a fun post and a clever analogy, ladies. I really liked the rock candy road. Just sent my characters down that one today. They're a bit worse for the wear, but they do have a HEA coming, which will every bit as sweet as Ruthy's buttercream frosting, don'tcha know. :-)

  8. First- any time we can make food into a writing lesson, I'm all ears. Especially with pretty pictures. :D

    And I'm no good at gingerbread houses. I've tried and tried and tried... and they either are too soft, or the icing isn't stiff enough or the pieces are warped and everything just falls in on itself. Ugh.

    But that's the good thing about gingerbread houses. Because soemtimes I think my story is perfect (that little church with the cone on top!) and I get to the end and look back just in time to see the whole thing cave in. *flump*

  9. CatMom and KC--- you two are the perfect pair to start the thread. Look at your profile pics!

    It's like everyone needs a cute pet to snuggle. :)

  10. Patti Jo, whatever it takes, darling! We aim to please! :)

    I learn better with analogies and parables...

    That Jesus dude?

    SMART GUY. ;)

  11. K.C., I'm a yes on the village!

    Think of how James Howe wrote the Bunnicula series, still one of my all-time faves.

    Each adventure took you further into the family and sometimes further afield, but the family and animals stayed true throughout...

    And you realize (of course) that Bunnicula is DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the upsurge in WHITE VEGGIES on the market now, right????

    Vampire bunnies are like that.

    Mark me: #SCARED!!!

  12. Jenny, I love icing too! :)

    And yes, sweet thing, rolling gingerbread is a pain, so I use graham crackers....

    But I make gingerbread cake.... Which is the recipe from my VERY OLD Betty Crocker cookbook, the one I learned on in the Mesozoic Era.

    On clay tablets.


    I can't wait to see if you win, too!!!

    Laughing in upstate! (no snow here....) Just updatin' youse.

  13. Mary Cline, thank you!!!

    I love comparatives.

    Analogies. (I know, I said that up above, but listen, I'm about to sound SMART and how often does that happen????)

    I saw Deepak Chopra on TV last week doing a special on the Superbrain.

    And it made sense to me when he said "Put an emotion with the memory, make yourself FEEL, and you will remember... and create new brain "wires" to prevent Alzheimer's.

    Re-training and challenging our brains.... what a smart, simple, and thoroughly possible thing to do WITH NO CO-PAY!!!!

    Happy dancing in upstate!!! :) So when I was writing this, I practiced that... "Painting a picture to evoke emotions" because it's hard to forget something you feel....

    And what a perfect lesson for us as writers, right????? That goes straight back to Vince's idea of REWARDS PER PAGE.... Make the reader feel the emotion....

    And then I like to make them skip back to a new high/low to create an unbalance.

    Deepak and I are now like BFF'S.....


  14. Keli Gwynster-the-Gwyninator!!!!!


    I love it when you come by, Kelster!

    And I love your rocky road for your hero and heroine because doesn't life just smack us in the face sometimes????

    As if that's a given????

    And then we stand up, brush ourselves off and start all over again. Because that's what we DO.

    If God is for us, then who can stand against us?

    Keli, try this gingerbread, it's just a dream come true in December!!!

    Or... um.... late November. That early Thanksgiving thing messed with my internal calendar.

    Big time.

  15. Ginny-Lou-Who, the fun of gingerbread houses and kids is NO ONE CARES IF THEY'RE NOT PERFECT!!!! because they're looking through the eyes of kids.

    And the graham cracker thing works.

    And letting the frosting dry between each layer.

    I think part of the trick is supreme patience.

    And once it's old enough and dry enough, it's usually too dusty to eat around my place, but that's probably more information than I should share in public...

    Of course a mouse nibble here or there.... That's no big deal, right?


  16. I have never had a gingerbread house but do like the cookies and have you seen now oreo has a gingerbread one. I can see the story coming together gingerbread-style, you are some smart young women Ruth and Mia..what an idea.
    I like the idea of those Christmas books-I have started reading several already. Christmas is just around the corner so get ready everyone....

    Paula O

  17. ruthy are graham crackers ginger?
    i found a good dough last year that works really good.

    Oh when I said i cant wait i mean i am going to order the books tomorrow. i want them before Christmas.

  18. Paula, I just love, love, love Christmas books... there's something whimsical and pure about the season...

    When we take out the manic shopping factor, right????

    That lends itself to sweet romance... twinkle lights. WHO DOESN'T KISS BETTER BY THE GLOW OF TWINKLE LIGHTS????


    Twinkle Lights and Mistletoe... Now there's a happy holiday recipe for you!!!!

  19. Jenny, wait until the WE comes out on Saturday if you can, just in case!

    But I love that you order my books, that just makes me BEAM!!!! And you will love Mia's writing... she's delightful and that Sawyer family...

    Oh my stars, they're to-die-for wonderful!

  20. PS its not snowing here either but we should get around 105 tomorrow. wont just be my brain thats fried.

  21. Ruthy, I whined so much about everyone posting how they loved your book, while my Walmart was not even CLOSE to stocking your book yet, that JULIE HILTON STEEL ordered me one!

    Haha! Who says whining doesn't pay???

    She must think I don't know where Amazon is located on the internet.

    Like I don't check my author ranking every 36 minutes...

  22. P.S. Bunnicula still cracks me up and I've read it (to kids) at least 3 times now.

  23. Good morning, everyone! I see Ruthy's beat me in here, but it's great to see so many smiling faces this early in the day :)

    Ruthy's bang-on about those caving-in gingerbread houses (and stories). You need to wait for everything to set up before adding more things to the structure. And sometimes, the best thing is to tear it apart and start over ;)

  24. Mia,
    I love the parallel of bulding a gingerbread house and building a story!
    Ruthie, beautiful gingerbread houses!

  25. I don't know, maybe somebody said this, but like Virginia indicated, this is not an easy thing to do. Like writing, it's fun to look at and think, "Oh, II can do that."
    Then you try and realize, "Ooops, this was harder than it looked." Butthe key to gingerbread success, like writing success, is persevering. If it doesn't work beautifully the first time, just keep trying - analyze what went wrong, strengthen it, and it will get better.
    Or so we hope. :)

    Looks to be a fun day in Seekerville. Thanks Mia and Ruthy.

  26. The owner of the local toy store suggested I buy one of their new plastic gingerbread houses that you just frost and decorate. Then you wash it off for the next year. I very politely declined!

    Ruthy, Virginia was whining so much about not finding your book, I just wanted it to stop. Actually I was looking for a cheap yet appropriate Christmas gift. Ha!

    Mia, I have your book on pre-order for my kindle as I do Ruthy. I am glad we are not having a cover war between you two. Both are gorgeous.

    Jenny, I almost went to Yankee Belle too.

    peace, Julie

  27. Now I'm craving gingerbread. Great post!

    Those ginger bread houses are so cute. It makes me glad my boys are grown and I don't have to try to live up to those. Ha!

    Thanks for sharing today!

    Jackie L.

  28. MARY CURRY: You're so right about persevering! The quickest way to fail is to stop trying. The ONLY way to succeed is not to give up. Great lesson for writing and life!

    JULIE: What a nice thing to do, buying books for Virginia. The Kindle versions come out Dec. 1, so you don't have long to wait. Hope you enjoy them!

    By the way, preorders are wonderful for new authors like me. It tells the nice folks at Harlequin you like what I'm doing and want to see more. Without that, I'm just another name on their list :)

  29. Nice assessment of my current NaNo. wii which should be complete in the next hour!!!
    RIght now it's a pretty sturdy gingerbread house without a spot of decoration. It's rather...ugly!

    I've tried to make the gingerbread tasty and rich, but I know no one is going to look twice until I make it pretty.

    Last year my first grandchild made her first gingerbread house and she's looking forward to the next one. *(grandmas are special I guess because I never attempted to do this with my own children)

    Thank you Ruthy and Mia!

  30. JACKIE: This is the first year our kids don't want to make one, and I have to tell you I'm going to miss it. I'm hoping they remember the fun they had and will keep up the tradition with their own kids someday. Maybe they'll even ask Gramma Mia to help :)

  31. DEBRA: Way to go on the NaNo!! I've tried it a couple times and never made it past the first week. That pace just about killed me. If you have anything--ugly or otherwise--resembling a book, that's amazing :)

  32. Great informative post. Loved it!
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  33. AMY: So glad you liked it! In case you couldn't tell, we had fun putting it together :)

  34. i've never made a Gingerbread house, well, not one i can remember. i do have vague memories of trying to paste graham crackers together with frosting, but i think the "house" was eaten at the construction stage and was never finished.
    i think i'll try the graham crackers with my toddler son because i'm not sure i could bake a good gingerbread base. he's three this year and it's time to really start some Christmas traditions now that he appears to be able to understand the meaning of the season.

    i do so love the imagery of building gingerbread houses and building a story. ( i would also enjoy winning those beautiful covered books too. love those christmas stories )

    i do so love Seekerville!!!

  35. What a fun post! Both of you have Christmas and writing spirit.

    I must admit that I've never tried to make a gingerbread house but I love looking at them. I'm glad other people tackle the task!

  36. DEBH: Trust me--gingerbread or graham crackers, you'll enjoy it just as much as he will :)

    ROSE: Ruthy and I are both Christmas nuts, so having holiday books on the shelves together is a fabulous early Christmas present :)

  37. I think I gained a pound or two in reading this post. ;) Love the analogies!

    I've got (story) restructuring to do, so I'll be over here repairing a roof and re-installing a window while waiting to see if my name is drawn from the cat dish.

    Happy Wednesday, Seekers!

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  38. I'm at the decorating stage of my latest WIP. Great analogy.

    No need to enter me. I bought both books at Wal-mart yesterday. They finally restocked. :)

  39. Okay, now I want to go to the grocery store and buy ingredients to make a gingerbread house. I've never made one before. Thank you for the festive blog post today! I love the bit about the sturdy walls of faith holding up the weighty, gumdrop laden roof.

  40. CE: Good luck with your renovations!

    BRIDGETT: Thanks so much for buying our books! Happy reading :)

    ANNIE: So glad you enjoyed it. There's nothing like a quirky analogy to make a point :)

  41. What a fun post from both of you! Love it! I've got a confession to make: I've never made a gingerbread house--either as a child or with my children. Yes, I'm hanging my head in shame right now. Sigh.

    I love how you used the elements of a gingerbread house to convey the necessary aspects of a story. So fun!

    Happy story/gingerbread house building, everyone!

  42. I've made a couple of gingerbread houses and they turned out a little pathetic. You would probably assume the kids built it w/out any help, but nope, I was right there w/them. Reminds me of when I used to sew a dress and someone would ask, "Ah, did you make that?" That obvious, huh.

    I'll have to look for your book to today at Wal-mart. Last time they didnt' have many in stock.

    Connie Queen

  43. Love the gingerbread house, Mia and Ruthy! I've always wanted to make one, but it would probably cave in on me. Something would go wrong and I'd have to throw it out. I have an unpubbed book like that. But that's another story...

  44. What a sweet post. As a reader, i get to be the one that eats the gingerbread house, Yeah. And you as authors make me want to eat a whole one, even if i've just had one! So yummy. Thanks for the great giveaways, too.


  45. Great analogy!

    I tried a gingerbread house once. It was a complete failure. Too many little people helping, too impatient with the baking, too stingy with the ingredients...

    The same thing would happen when I tried to write in those days.

    But then the little people grew up, I learned to appreciate patience, and I started using better quality ingredients.

    It worked for my writing...maybe I'll try a gingerbread house again this year :)

    Oh, and I have both of your books, but if I win the drawing I'll have some to share!

  46. Okay I want to know if anyone has ever actually made a Gingerbread House from scratch???

    And congratulations on your side-by-side releases!!!!

  47. I keep scouring the shelves for these books to no avail. Will pitt stop at Wal-Mart again after work since I see there has been a sighting.

  48. In 1960’s talk: RIGHT ON!

    Delicious Post!

    I believe that cooking is the best romance writing analogy.

    I have always compared writing romances to cooking a gourmet meal. You have to make every bite, in every course, taste delicious. People don’t eat the whole meal just to get to the desert. It’s the total eating experience (including the service, ambiance, food appearance on the plate) that makes people happy and causes them to come back again and again – often for the exact same meal.

    Then there was the pantser who strated out making a gingerbread house and wound up with a gingerbread man eating ginger snaps.

    Poetic Justice: The Gingerbread House gives the eater (reader) a sagging middle.

    Sage* Advice: Be sure to backup your Gingerbread House just in case, (like my computer did to my NaNo WIP last year), someone eats it.

    I can remember, as a kid, hearing an old actress on tv saying that the difference between being crazy and being eccentric is how much money you have.

    Also remember when seeking CP’s: too many cooks spoil the broth.


    Please put me down for Mia’s book. I’ve already read Ruth’s. If you have a digital or large print, that would be ideal.

    *Pun intended.

  49. What a very enjoyable post. That was fun to read. The perfect Gingerbread house to go with the perfect story.

    MinDaf @

  50. As always, Ruthy's posts have made me hungry.

  51. I thought about making a gingerbread house once. Instead I just banged my head with a hammer for ten minutes, figured the pain was the same and I saved time.

    Not that I'm not Martha-Stewart-ish

  52. And my fairy tales are kinda mixed up but doesn't a wicked witch come out of the gingerbread house and imprison and eat small children? (true she came to a bad end eventually, but her eyesight was going--mistaking a stick for a bony finger?--so being shoved into an oven was no doubt a mercy in the days before white tipped canes, guide dogs and handicapped parking stickers)
    Anyway, not everything about gingerbread houses is charming. DARK SIDE!!!

  53. btw, that candy cane lined walk isn't at your house is it, Ruthy?
    Just remember admitting you've got a problem is the first step to recovery.
    First of TWELVE.

  54. RUTHY AND MIA ... ooooo, what a delicious post!!!

    And OH MY ... soooooo very true!!! I make my g.b. house with LOTS of red hots, Hot Tamales, Pop Rocks, jawbreakers and gummy bears because I like lots of sizzle and heat and sticky situations in my books along with a LOT of drama and angst, so the roof has to be realllly strong to hold all that up!! :)

    Fun blog, girls ... and drat ... now I'm hungry again ...


  55. Thanks Mia. I think my NaNo success was due to heavy pre-planning and the fact I have no guilt in writing sentences like++and then he does something++

    So, who has the perfect recipe for gingerbread house walls? I might try a pretzel log house

    who am I kidding? I bought the packaged house ready to go, all ingredients for 6.99 at Aldi's last year. It's not like we are going to eat it, after all...

  56. I confess, I have never, ever, ever in my life built a gingerbread house. I won one once, however, at a writers group Christmas party. It was decorated like a bookstore--very cute!

    Now I'm hungry. And I just got off the treadmill!!!!!

  57. Fun post, Mia and Ruthy! I can smell the aroma of gingerbread. I love gingerbread and Christmas stories!

    Gingerbread houses are adorable. I've seen professional results at a festival in town and one time a chef's version in a hotel lobby in Chicago. Gorgeous!

    I've made the kit variety with our grandchildren. They never look like the box. But then who wants a cookie cutter house or story? :-)

    We're putting up our Christmas decorations. No gingerbread houses this year, but always fun to see those ornaments that zip me back in time.


  58. Fun post, ladies. And Mia, I'll remember that name (my first granddaughter's name as well). I'd love to have both books.
    Gingerbread house- tried making one a couple times, once with graham crackers, and once from scratch. The scratch version requires that you get the pieces perfectly cut and lined up on the tray before baking- they can't be straightened after! Makes a charming house, but never gonna be magazine quality. Hm, there's some writing wisdom there, but I'm not going to analyze it right now.
    Ruth T

  59. I HAVE done them from scratch, but there are a couple of tricks. First: bake the pieces while the kids are napping or at school. It takes awhile, and they get bored. Second: trim the still-warm pieces to square them up or the house will definitely fall down!

    For writers, nothing says "holiday time" like the smell of baking gingerbread. It's a great sensory image for everyone to connect with, so it works very well.

  60. JANET: Decorating is my favorite part, too! I get each of our kids an ornament every Christmas and put the year on it if it's not in the design already. My plan is to give them their collection when they move out to their own homes. That way, they'll have something to start their own holiday traditions :)

  61. MARIANNE: Without readers, I wouldn't have anyone to share my stories with. Thanks for being one of them!

    JAN: Thanks so much for buying our books! And definitely give the g-bread house another shot. Like Debra said, the kits make it much easier, and the candy is the fun part anyway :)

  62. I was out grocery shopping and just got back, so I'm a little behind. If I haven't done a reply specifically to you, I apologize. But please know I've read everyone's comments and really appreciate you taking some time out of your day for us :)

  63. I want to know how you got the gingerbread so smooth (as in without any cracks. My gingerbread never looks like that!!!!!

    Love the analogy. Though I fear that my story gingerbread is about as cracked at my real gingerbread these days!

    No need to enter me in the draw because I own and have read (and loved) ALL Mia's and Ruthy's books. Do I get an extra gumdrop for that?

  64. i know my little guy and i will have fun building/decorating a house - my concern is he will be more interested in eating the decorations and frosting than actually using them. toddler on a sugar high?*eep*

    in college i started blowing out eggs and then decorating the empty shells to create ornaments. (i didn't have the money to buy gifts). after i got my first "real" job, i was excited to buy "real" gifts for my family. funny thing: they wanted to know where their egg ornaments were ( i usually drew a significant happening for that year on their christmas egg).

    so, back to blowing out eggs and decorating for me. my brother and his wife decorate their tree each year with 20+ years of gifts. it's an egg covered tree. (when they were engaged, i carefully split one egg and they each got one half of the egg for their ornament that christmas - after the wedding, they were back to a whole egg)

    i'm introducing my little guy to the egg ornament. i've already blown out a couple extra, knowing he may break a couple while decorating. he'll also be painting a few wooden ornaments Daddy will be cutting out of wood. gifts for his cousins from him. never too soon to show him how to give of himself, right?

    i love christmas. i like hearing what everybody does. there's lots of good ideas.

  65. I love this article and the wonderful analogies.

  66. KAV: You get a big handful of extra gum drops! Thanks for including us in your TBR pile :)

    DEBH: What a thoughtful idea! Those kinds of things are what make the holiday memories we all cherish.

    DEBORAH: Thanks so much for coming by! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  67. Hi Mia and Ruthy,
    There have been days that I'd like to put my computer into the oven set on broiler! Just because technology and I don't have the same ideas about turning on an appliance and getting to work. My computer likes to reboot, requires batteries at the worst time, and crash hard drives in the blink of an eye! Good times!

    Love the rock candy path, Ruthy. That line will stick with me as I continue with the WIP!

  68. Mary Curry, that's the stinkin' truth! You have to stick with it and try, try again.

    I like your chutzpah, lady! :)

    Here. Have some gingerbread with this lemon sauce. It's just amazingly yummy...

    EDWINA! Where you been, chickie???? Or are we ships that pass in the night?

    You know what we've made a few times? Gingerbread house CAKES.... and that way the house is cake...

    Sweet, moist, tender delicious CAKE.


    They have molds to use, or you can cut the shapes out of a 13 x 9" cake.... Two triangles for the "top" and a rectangle for the bottom. If the cake is thin, double the bottom rectangle so it's got the "two-story" look....

    And then frost....

    Wait an hour or two for the buttercream icing to "sugar" or "crust".... and then add your candy decorations and embellishments with a dot of buttercream frosting.

    This is a delicious and wonderful way to make a gingerbread house without using gingerbread.


    I like yellow cake houses, actually!

  69. Julie, I love Yankee Belle! It's such a fun, low-key gathering spot. And I get e-mails from people who stop there but decline to speak in public, LOL!

    So that's fun.

    Until the recipe is labeled and EPIC FAIL!!!! and then I have egg on my face. And usually the floor!

    Debra, we Grammy's have to have some fun stuff of our own, Grammy-style! I love that you're doing that!

    Mia, I hear ya'...

  70. Rose, I really think the cake thing is the way to go... If I do it this year with Emma and Dave, I'll post pics.

    It's much easier to keep together if the house is solid, you know?

    Deb H, I wanna hear about it if you do it!

    BRIDGETT!!! THANK YOU!!!! :) I'm so totally loving the SALE at WALMART!!!!



  71. I find it intreresting that Ruthy wishes to be "considered" eccentric.

  72. You're misunderstand, I think, Walt, Ruthy wishes to be considered eccentric only as opposed to being considered CRAZY!

  73. I love the analogy of the gingerbread house. And no two are alike! Thank you for your post!

  74. I love the gingerbread house analogy too, thanks guys!
    I've never made one and am tempted, those pictures are gorgeous.

  75. Eccentric vs. Crazy is a no-brainer, right?

    I vote the "E-Word" every time!

    Connealy, your lack of domestication appalls me but you seem to have muddled through life thus far without the bane of royal frosting therefore you are all right...


    I'm not saying anyone I KNOW has done this, nor would it be anyone in NEBRASKA, but making a stinkin' cake house isn't nearly as involved as being Oprah-for-hire on the church pageant circuit....

    I'm grabbing ibuprofen just thinking of it! ;)

  76. Jan,that's it exactly! Too many little hands mess up the house....

    literally and figuratively.

    And I could never get the hang of writing with little ones around. Still can't. Hence the 4:00 AM wake-up call, but I love that time because it's mine... all mine!!! :)

    Love that you understand, chica!

  77. Toddler stirring....

    Must go snuggle!

    Snuggle alert!!! Snuggle alert!!!

  78. my friend makes gingerbread houses from scratch. makes around 20 a year as gifts.
    I haven't mainly cos as much as I love the look of them I hate gingerbread wonder if you could do it with a shortbread recipe? I do make gingerbread from scratch.

    (must go get more ice. the pavement and me had a meeting today and lets just say I guess my morning walk is out.)

  79. JENNY: Ouch! Hope you feel better soon. One time I saw where a very creative mom made a house from split-up graham crackers, kind of like a house of cards. Folks who are shy about gingerbread could try that sometime :)

  80. Now I'm craving gingerbread! Lol.

    Love this analogy. I've been busy dreaming up ideas and trying to organize them, but now it's time to "cut out" my individual plot lines and make sure they they fit together.

    Thank you for the lovely post, ladies!

  81. NATALIE: Thanks so much for stopping by! Best of luck with your plot work :)

  82. I did, in fact, at one time, for about ten years, write, direct and produce our churches annual Sunday School Christmas Program.
    I finally quit thanks to a note from a cardiologist, psychiatrist and gastroenterologist that pretty much confirmed the job was going to kill me...after it drove me crazy.
    I won't say where gastroenterology came in.
    Those plays I wrote though, five of them, ended up getting published and that was the FIRST money I ever earned from writing. I still get giddy from the pleasure of that $75 check. I could hug it RIGHT NOW (If I hadn't spent it on Doritoes)

  83. And I can be VERY DOMESTIC, Ruthy.

    Why just last night I washed a load of clothes, dried them and took them out of the drier.

    I am wearing that load of clothes right now. (a pair of jeans)

  84. Mia, we dont have graham crackers here are they savory or sweet?
    I am thinking maybe the dough used for shaped cookies may work. may have to consider it. want to do something different of course it would need to be kept in a contaniner (maybe a mini house).

    went for a short walk. one knee is grazed, one has a huge bruise which I am icing (going for over 100 today) and the side of the wrist hurts where it took the weight of the all. icing it too. my right arm is fine!

  85. Deb H, that egg ornament for your brother is the SWEETEST thing! but how on earth did you empty the egg, crack it in half, decorate it, and keep it from getting broken???

    Tell us how you do those, I'm very interested! (Not that I need any mroe fragile items around here. Just curiosity.)

    Jenny, praying for you!

  86. Sherida and Joanne did not make fun of me....

    Did youse all notice that?

    Clearly they are my NEW FAVORITES!!!!

    Connealy, pressing one button on one machine, then transferring the jeans (and they're cute jeans, btw) to the DRYER isn't an accomplishment.

    It's barely something.

    Possibly the least something ever imagined by mankind as we know it.

    Which reminds me the History channel has a mini-series Mankind: The History of All of Us

    Kinda cool to see those old times. I'm kissing my laptop right now because those parchment paper things would have been somewhat disconcerting.


  87. today you dont need a dryer to dry things just put it out in 5 mins will be dry! going for 106 and its already 86 at 8.30am and climbing.

    good day to put up the tree in the cool house!

  88. Time to pick up my son and get dinner ready! Thanks for a fun day, and good luck to everyone in the drawing :)

  89. Oh what a great thought!
    Food and writing!!
    Thanks for sharing, ladies. No 'skipping' steps in this creation because one builds on the other.
    Like writing.

    Oh...and Haddon Hall in England is simply LOVELY, btw. Just sayin'. Been there. Think The Princess Bride.

  90. Yum, gingerbread houses! Although I am curious where the "Fort Atkinson gingerbread" recipe came from, since Fort Atkinson is about a half hour north of Omaha, where I live! I've been there many, many times, so I wonder if your recipe originated there...

    RIght now I think I have TOO many embellishments in my current gingerbread house (WIP)!

  91. Hey Mary,
    I got $50 today for talking for an hour and a half.
    I do NOT, however, have anything in writing from it.
    BUT, $50 will not only buy me some Doritos, but some chocolate icecream and graham crackers too :-)
    For 7

  92. I love this!I got the same deal at Walmart, 3 for $9.99, of course the sale price didn't ring up correctly.I didn't notice it until I got home...but who cares...these books are worth so much more!

  93. Virginia CM
    Egg blowing process: i usually poke a 1/16 in hole on top and bottom of the egg with a safety pin. Then, i blow one end and the egg "guts" flow out the other side. room temp eggs are easier to blow.(somehow that last sentence seems... er, odd)

    i rinse the eggs in water (pushing egg beneath water surface to have water leak in through the holes to rinse the inside).

    as for splitting the egg, i take an xacto blade and gently score the egg vertically between the holes both sides. takes patience. when a crack forms, i pry the pieces apart. if i've scored the egg properly, it breaks clean. if not... ah well. i have used mistakes to create mini nativity scenes.

    i decorate with paint or color sharpie markers. (washable markers tend to bleed when i try to seal the afterwards. i use modge podge to put a clear seal on the shell. clear nail polish and/or hardener works really good too.

    thats about it. patience and a gentle touch. you can't really rush it.

    i will try to take pictures if toddler and i do the gingerbread or graham cracker house thing.

  94. I bought the Doritos in bulk, Pepper.

  95. Ruthy and Mia, what a fun combination!

    Thanks, ladies, for a great blog and lovely images of Gingerbread Houses.

    I'm in the mood for Christmas treats and holiday cheer and a good book to read. Working on the final draft of my DEC 15 deadline WIP. Perhaps the goodies will have to wait until later in the month!

  96. How fun!! I love the sturdy building part. But also love to make it pretty and fun.

    Thanks, Mia, for being with us again today! And for letting Ruthy join you (even if she did try to steal your idea). ;)

  97. This was just wonderful thank you!!


  98. Great analogy Mia, Thanks for sharing with us on Seekerville.

    Sorry I missed you yesterday but so glad you shared with us.

  99. Love the Gingerbread House idea, girls. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Ruthy, I recycle your books by sharing them w/my 87 yr old mother-in-law...she's always been a Grisham-type reader, but finds sweet, shorter romances fit better at this time of her life - keep 'em coming!!

    PS, I'm allergic to cat hair, but NOT cat dishes..

    Gail Kittleson

  100. Absolutely love this post! It's as delicious as any Christmas recipe on my counter waiting to be put to the test. Thanks Mia and Ruthy!

  101. Love to win your books!

  102. I would love to win,Enter me!!
    Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
    Sarah Richmond

  103. What an interesting way to look at writing a book? Thanks for having the giveaway.


  104. Thanks for the chance to win a GRAND PRIZE!!! :)

    Abigail Richmond