Gingerbread Kit – Beware

When my children were small, we used to make Christmas gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, clean meat trays and small milk cartons.  But in today’s world gingerbread kits are widely available for most holidays as “convenience products”.  My daughter loves gingerbread so the marketers definitely have her attention.  In fact this past Sunday as my husband and I watched the grandchildren (ages 5, 3 and almost 1) while their parents attended a training at church, there on the kitchen counter sat this box promising a creative masterpiece – the turkey kit that my daughter had provided for something to do after dinner and Grandma would help them.   I remember looking at the kit with a bit of concern because construction isn’t an area I’ve been gifted with.

So after dinner, my husband took the baby over to the carpet to watch and we broke the box open.  In front of me lay several gingerbread cookie pieces, some gummy type of candy, a package with a few m&m’s and a packet with the smallest round candy balls I’ve ever seen.  I was looking for the frosting, thinking there would be a can of ready made but instead there was a small bag of powdered sugar with these directions – whip an egg white until firm (what? are you kidding me), add sugar and a few drops of vinegar.   I needed to find the mixer and the beater, I needed to divide the candy in two bowls (already foreseeing the future of those little ball candies all over the place).  But there was no way I could tell two children looking expectedly at me that we weren’t going to make the turkey gingerbread.  

The mixer was found and two chairs were pulled up to the kitchen counter, safety instructions were given and my grandson became the power source of the Kitchen Aid Mixer while my granddaughter was in charge of the lever that locks the  machine down.  Two roles they were delighted to take on; this was happiness for them.  We talked about how important it is to start out slow when working with powdered sugar because it can go everywhere.  They were very good listeners and soon Caden was asking me if he could increase the speed to 4 miles an hour (the four on the speed control) and Maisie was ready to unlock/lock so we could scrap the sides of the bowl.

For me the day had already been filled with baking and decorating the baby’s birthday cake for later in the week; and I’d cleaned up several colors of frosting in pastry bags.  But the frosting we made for the turkey was similar to thick cement – I kept looking at the front of the package thinking how did they get the outlining of frosting around the pieces so the tiny ball candy could adhere to it.  If you’re a grandma and have been in a similar situation, I know you’ll understand how sometimes you miss essential pieces like the pastry bag – although I don’t think the frosting would have come out very easily – when managing a project with two little ones.  I found a butter knife and started loping frosting on the turkey cookie pieces only to discover those little candies just rolled off onto the floor.  Then my grandson’s elbow caught his bowl (yes, full of the little rolling devil candies and off they went on the floor.)  Caden glanced over for my reaction.  By this time, I laughed the laugh of a person knowing that this would soon be over.  The only thing left was for the limited gummy and m&m candy to be pushed into the unattractive gobs of icing I had sloped onto the turkey because what the children really wanted to do is eat the 12 pieces of candy the kit had allotted each of them.  While they pushed the candy into the drying cement frosting, I was still trying to figure out how to brace the bird so it would quit toppling over.

Finally the candy that was adhered  5 minutes before had been picked clean by the children’s hands and was sitting in their little tummies, sticky hands had been washed, teeth brushed and Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving was on the tv.  I gave my husband the option of getting the baby ready for bed which included a diaper change or cleaning up the turkey fiasco which had left the dining room and kitchen a disaster.  He chose cleaning up the destruction the now naked turkey had left; and I wrestled with a wiggly precious boy getting clothes off – pjs on.  While diaper changing I noticed Jesse pushing something back and forth with his tongue and discover a small piece of gray lego in his mouth.  I am able to remove this and look forward to sitting in a dark room in a comfy rocking chair feeding him a bottle.

In the dark, I am in awe of my daughter and son-in-law – how do they do it day in and day out?  I wonder how could a simple turkey gingerbread kit make me feel like I’ve been to battle and lost?  In a brief moment of self pity, I even think why would my daughter do this to me?

Soon all the children are asleep in their beds, their grandpa has headed home because he has an early bedtime; and I hear the garage door open.  My daughter sees the turkey on the counter without any adornment except the splotches of frosting that look more like a bad skin condition and asks how the project went; the turkey mocks me.   I told her from now on, I can’t do these type of projects with the children – it’s too much.  These people who design these kits can’t have tested them out with real children and tired grandmas.  No one in their right mind has you mixing up frosting with eggs – don’t get me started on the raw egg in edible frosting for children and those ball candies that are barely visible to the naked eye and then have the audacity to not stick to the frosting – there are no words.  

My daughter smiles at me and the turkey; then looks at the back of the box and explains when she has bought the kits in the past they always came with ready-made frosting and bigger sprinkles.  We laugh as Tamara begins breaking off pieces of the turkey cookie and saying how good it tastes. While her eyes glaze over from the gingerbread happiness, I repeat there will be no more gingerbread kits for this grandma.  A note to the wise – if you see this kit in the store or in your adult child’s home – run!


Football Bouquet


I wanted to share 2 ideas that were used at our college’s homecoming tent this year.  They can easily be used to decorate your own football game day.

The first one: creating a football bouquet from a clay pot that is painted with brown craft paint – several coats.  Once the paint is dry, blue painters tape was used to mark off football lacing, white craft paint is used in between the blue tape lines or if you have a steady hand, this can be done freehand.  A styrofoam ball will be needed to sit on top of the painted pot.  The size will depend on your size of clay pot.  Then lollipops were inserted into ball.  I found some green grasslike plastic at the thrift store and we tucked in around the top of the pot.

Inspiration came from 2 sites I found on Pinterest (one doesn’t have a link so unfortunately I can’t give credit).  But here is the picture.


Here is the other idea that was utilized – lollipop bouquet (this is a much smaller clay pot than I used and dum dum lollipops were used.  Our bouquet used tootsie pops.)  Besides we are Arizona State University and I couldn’t use lollipops called Dum Dums – so wrong.


The second idea is an inexpensive way to create a football garland.  It is a free printable from Centsible Life  Download, Print on color printer, cut and glue or tape. 



It is fun to find ideas to create a fun atmosphere as we gather to cheer on our favorite team and create memories.


Shortbread Cookies

This cookie was inspired by a cookbook that a coworker gave me to borrow when she discovered I enjoyed Anne of Green Gables I have enjoyed reading this book and trying a few of the recipes.  Mom and I had fun during Thanksgiving as we made Diana Barry’s Favorite Raspberry Cordial.  Today I took the recipe for Mrs. Irving’s Delicious Shortbread and put my own spin on it.

I was interested in this recipe for several reasons – 

  1. My daughter (yes – I’m shamelessly plugging her site – the workout mama) has a food sensitivity to eggs so it peeked my interest when I saw no eggs were needed.
  2. The cookie recipe only had 5 ingredients.
  3. There was no chill time needed for the dough before rolling and cutting out.
  4. The cookbook is written by the granddaughter of Lucy Maud Montgomery (the author of Anne)

This recipe is a keeper.  Here is what I love about it….

  1. It worked up well using White Spelt Flour.  I will try next time using Gluten Free Flour.
  2. It rolled out so very easy – happiness.
  3. It is easy to add extra ingredients in.  I added 2 fresh vanilla beans into dough.
  4. They are good with or without frosting.
  5. My husband thought they were delicious.

Shortcake Cookies
Yields 24
A cookie that is easily cut out and doesn't require eggs
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
  1. Cookie
  2. 1 cup butter, softened
  3. 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  4. 2 cups of flour (your choice) - I used White Spelt Flour
  5. A pinch of salt (1/8 tsp of salt)
  6. 1/4 tsp baking powder
  7. Frosting
  8. 2 Tbsp of meringue powder
  9. 1/4 cup of water
  10. 2 cups of powdered sugar
  11. Sprinkles/Decorations
  1. Cookies
  2. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. 2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. 3. Cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, scraping sides often.
  5. 4. Add the vanilla bean and incorporate.
  6. 5. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder together.
  7. 6. Slowly add flour mixture into butter mixture until well mixed.
  8. 7. Dust clean, flat surface and rolling pin with flour. Pat cookie dough into a circle.
  9. 8. Roll out to 1/4 inch and cut into desired shapes. Using a spatula place on cookie sheet.
  10. 9. Prick each cookie twice with a fork. Sprinkle sugar on top, if desired.
  11. 10. Bake for 18-25 minutes - will be dependent on oven until light brown around edges.
  12. 11. Remove from cookie sheet onto cooling rack.
  13. 12. Cookies can be eaten as they are or decorated with frosting and sprinkles.
  14. Meringue Frosting - Note this will make enough for several batches of these cookies.
  15. 1. Place water and meringue powder in small food processor or mixer.
  16. 2. Whip until light peaks form.
  17. 3. Sift sugar. Add in a little at a time, scraping side.
  18. 4. Frosting can be spread on with a knife or using a pastry bag.
  19. 5. Add sprinkles, etc.
  1. Meringue Frosting (Royal Icing) spreads very smooth and is easy to work with. It will harden and can be time sensitive.
Adapted from The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook
Deliciously Inspired
 I chose to keep the decorating simple on my shortbread cookies – I used edible glitter, white candy beads, and a little red sugar but the possibilities are endless.  If there is extra royal icing, it can be frozen for up to a month – Read More




I’ll be returning the book to its rightful owner along with a couple of the decorated shortcake cookies as a simple thank you.  It’s amazing when we listen with our hearts what we can lend or give to another to make their heart sing.  

Looking for other desserts to make this holiday season.  Here are a few ideas (you can always give desserts a holiday theme with color and sprinkles.)

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Christmas Cupcakes

Almond Joy Bites

Need a laugh – Here you go.