“not a creature was stirring…”

December 6, 2009

This was my mom’s idea. (And borrowed from an adorable product that we are carrying in the store.) A mouse in a match box. An “easy” way to do the whole ginger bread thing. We made a mistake a few years ago and spent hours and hours on our gingerbread house, and after that decided that we either wouldn’t do one, or plan something simple. For those who don’t know, the first Friday of every month in our town we have an art walk. Somewhere along the line the December art walk (they all have themes) got the theme of ginger bread houses. Now in December every store, restaurant, gallery, etc., has one or more ginger bread houses displayed prominently in the windows. Ours isn’t quite a house, but in my mind sleeping quarters count too.

I kept thinking that I would start the gingerbread experimenting long before the December 5th deadline, but of course I ended up Tuesday afternoon with a batch of chilled dough that behaved like a rock.

I could barely cut it with a knife, and had to toss it out. (For the record, I didn’t do the best job of following the recipe, and heated the butter, sugar, and molasses up too hot. I think!)

Tuesday night I made what was the first of many trips to Hy-Vee for a new jar of molasses. Batch two, on Wednesday worked out much better. I was still afraid of chilling the dough so I just rolled it out warmish, and cooled the pices on a cookie sheet on the porch before baking since it has turned bitterly cold here. I made the design for all the pieces on stiff paper, and then placed the paper directly on the cookie dough, on a cutting board, or directly on the cookie sheet, and cut out the shapes. It is harder to keep the shapes exact when the dough is warm, but I managed ok.

I made a lot of bricks, some logs, a few stockings for the mantle, and the box and fireplace this way. I had a few pieces break as I was removing them from the cookie sheet, but other than that, no major disasters. I kept on changing things around, and needing to bake extra parts. I had a ziplock bag  full of left over dough saved for such emergencies, I would turn on the oven, roll out the part, bake it, and go on to the next part.

Cleaning the flour off of the baked sheets of gingerbread. My vegetable brush worked out to be the best tool for this.

Thursday morning, after another trip to Hy-Vee, this time for junky powdered sugar and egg white powder, I assembled the pieces and stuck them together with royal icing. Royal icing is the best icing for this kind of thing. It is made of sugar, egg whites, and water. It tastes kind of gross, but when it is dry it holds like a ROCK. (When I was in 2nd grade we had a gingerbread house party for my birthday and the person who was in charge of the icing used some other recipe, and we had a night of houses falling all over the place!)

One more trip to Hy-Vee (you would think that I could have made a list and picked up all the ingredients at once…) for marshmallows, and the pillows and quilt were under way. I wanted to make the bedding out of something soft, and marshmallows came to mind. Even though you can’t really see them in the finished product, they create the right shape and feel of cozy bedding. The red candies are really yummy peppermint pillows from the store. They made the perfect topping for a downy satiny quilt.

My mom came over to sculpt the little mouse. I made an attempt, and called her directly to finish it off. She molded the head out of marzipan, and the body is just a padding of marshmallows under the quilt (the old pillow technique). The mouse was finished in stages. First he was placed in bed to check his positioning.

Then he needed a little color. His nose and ears were a little too much marzipan colored. In came my mom with the pink frosting.

We decided at the end of mouse production that we needed to have him wearing a red sleeping cap and red pajamas. We molded the parts with marzipan, and carefully painted them with red icing. We inserted the red shoulders into the box using my size 0 knitting needles. Tricky tricky work. If we got even one drop of red dye on the white pillow we were sunk.

(I can’t decide if I like the peppercorn eyes or the shredded wheat whiskers better here!)

On to the fireplace. I wanted to give it a more “authentic” feel, so I made it three dimensional, and ended up having to brick the inside arch. That was tricky! The hearth ended up working out well.

I made a piece of gingerbread for underneath the bricks, and then glued them all on with the royal icing. The fire was lit up from underneath with a christmas light. I ended up painting some of the logs red later on down the line.

We were a little worried about transportation to the store. My mom brought over a large wooden tray, and we placed each part in a bed of tea towels. The pieces were snugly set in, and the trip was successful. My mom drove, and I held the setup on my lap.

Kathy did an amazing job decorating the tree, and it looked so beautiful in the window! Little mousie got a corner under the tree, and enjoyed the festive atmosphere!

8 Responses to ““not a creature was stirring…””

  1. heli Says:

    i like the addition of the hat and the red logs!
    this is so cute!!!!!!!!!

  2. Heather Says:

    Torrey, that is AMAZING!! I can’t believe I didn’t see it last night for some reason. I shall have to come back to check it out, so cute!!!

  3. Addycat Says:

    This totally melted my cold, bitter, bah-humbuggin’ heart & i’m all fa la la la la now.
    (thank you!!!)

  4. Kathy Says:

    I can’t STAND how marvelous that is, Torrey! OH MY GOSH. It is just incredibly adorable, and cute, and creatively fantastic and every wonderful descriptive word you could think of. You must be so proud! I am going to tell everyone I know to go look at it! 🙂 –Or your blog, if they live out of town!!! 🙂 Congratulations!!! Surely you will win a prize if you have not already.

  5. Danielle Says:

    It’s so creative and absolutely gorgeous!! I’m linking to it because I want EVERYONE to see this.

  6. Torrey Says:

    Thanks so much everyone! I am glad that you liked the little critter. My mom and I had so much fun making the whole scene! (One of the perks of working at the At Home Store!!)

  7. Christina Says:

    This is too cute! I can’t believe I missed this blog entry till now – and i though I’d seen them all!! You are just so adorable. Did you guys win??


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