17 December 2007

general advice

Reasons not to be born close to Christmas, if you can help it:

1. People forget your birthday.
2. Then they try to pretend they remembered by scrawling "and happy birthday!" on your Christmas present. Unintentional two-in-ones really don't count, folks.
3. People remember your birthday, but their veins are pumping copious amounts of caffeine, cortisol, and mulled wassail, meaning you party with a jittery crowd sharing a universal headache.


On the bright side:

1. Sometimes you can get one huge combined gift that would never have been possible if your birthday were in, say, July. I recall (with large doses of fondness) the Barbie McDonald's from my grandparents, third grade. That thing had little trays and fries and Big Mac containers that opened and snapped shut, plus tiny beef patties and buns and a spatula. Good golly do I miss that McDonald's.
2. There really is no two.
3. You get to have a long-standing tradition of making gingerbread houses at your birthday parties.

I'm not sure when it started, really...likely after (and as a safer substitute for) the debacle of the carousel cake that caught on fire (that was a memorable one, Mom)...but sometime in my childhood we started rinsing out those school milk cartons and trucking them home for my birthday. We'd tape them to plates, smear the sides with my mum's homemade icing, slap on graham cracker halves and embellish with candies. We fashioned chimneys and doorknobs, landscaped the paper plate yards, and built on second stories and guest room additions.

Much to my delight (and everyone else's chagrin, I'm sure), I never did outgrow this tradition. To this day, I still force everyone to participate in my birthday faux-gingerbread house construction.

This year the triple F (Forced Family Fun) took place a week early. If you want to celebrate my birthday at your house, here's the brief process:

1. Either go the milk/whipping-cream carton route (make sure you wash and dry them thoroughly), or make a template and trace on stiff magazine paper or lightweight cardboard:





2. Tape houses together and adhere them to paper plates.



3. Bust out the candies and such:




We used dark chocolate M&M's, sour gummy shapes, pretzels, marshmallows (both standard white and tree/star shaped), mint Hershey's kisses, and gummy bears. Spiced gumdrops are very pretty but, in my opinion, taste like fermented licorice. Beware.





4. You could mix your own frosting. My mom's recipe is something like powdered sugar, vanilla, milk or possibly water--not sure, and maybe an egg white for good luck? I will look for the recipe card. In the meantime, perhaps my mum will post the recipe in the comments because she is a Really Nice Person. She honestly is.

OR...you could be like me and just buy a jar of vanilla frosting because one should not have to make frosting on one's own birthday, albeit a week early.



5. Bust out the Christmas music.



6. Give your kiddos dull butter knives, glops of frosting on the sides of their plates, and free rein with the candies.



Results may vary. Here are ours.

















7. Bonus points if you do this on Friday, which is my actual birthday. I will be thirty-one. :)

19 comments:

Kimberly said...

Oh heck...thanks for the reminder! It's my sister-in-law's birthday that day as well and, yup, totally spaced.

Luuuuurve the houses! So yummy looking...and, yeah, charming and pretty, that too.

Must...eat...lunch...now...

Alicia said...

Ooohh, I've never made gingerbread houses.

My favorite is the last one though they are all very lovely.

And Happy Birthday!

Jen said...

Ah!!! Happy Birthday!!! :) Thirty one is a good birthday - I just had one of those myself. :) I'm making it a point now to make sure Ben's birthday stays free and clear of all things related to Christmas and stays and entity of it's own - though after all the drama he caused coming into this world I don't think he'll have a hard time helping me.

The ginger bread houses turned out adorable!!! :) And I'm sure there were lots of yummy 'experiments' along the way. :)

janae said...

These are amazing! What a cute idea. Happy Birthday. Hope you get everything you want, like more hours in the day (unless it's a bad day that you want to end ;)), kids to stay little longer, etc...those would be some of my wishes.

Hot Flash MaMa said...

H-m-m-m if I am counting correctly, I think you are missing one. Let's see who could the one non-creative person in your family be?? Perhaps the one who is not an actual blood relative, with no creative dna in his blood? Sorry about that.

I do remember you making our family attempt to be creative--- I think your first birthday with us? I remember dad kept his um-m-m, shall I say "different looking" gingerbread house in his office until it petrified. He was very proud of his accomplishment.

I'll think about having some milk cartons available for you this weekend---maybe.

Shannon Bieger said...

Those are adorable!!! I always wrinkle my nose at the kits they sell at Michaels. They seem too....cookie cutter. These are so fun and leave room for the imagination! LOVE IT!

And a very happy birthday to you. We're 8 months pregnant right now...DH is hoping she comes early so we can beat the deductible and include her on next years taxes. I say "No way!" Poor kid would have to have a Christmas birthday! LOL! Our priorities are so skewed, aren't they?

heather said...

Happy Birthday! I had to comment because I can totally relate to the Christmas/birthday gift combos. My birthday is Dec. 30th and I always seem to be forgotten somewhere between Christmas and New Year's. I hope you have a wonderful birthday! Although we already made gingerbread houses this year, I like the idea of a birthday tradition...

BD @ BusyDadBlog.com said...

Hey, I'm far from a craftsy person (and would wince if someone called me one), but those are some cool gingerbread houses! And great job documenting them in pictures. I guess some traditions are worth perpetuating, even if by threat of bodily harm.

Oh, and happy birthday! May you get the adult equivalent of a Barbie McDonald's set.

Angie said...

First -- I have to say -- I totally forgot about the Barbie McDonalds! That thing was wicked cool! ;)

Second -- I empathize on the Christmas time birthday. Since I'll be 31 just four days after Christmas, looks like you arrived just eight days before me. Happy (almost) Birthday!

Norman said...

OK, OK, OK. How can I NOT post the recipe after you call me a Really Nice Person??? Here it is:

3 egg whites, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 t. cream of tartar

Combine and beat at high speed 7-10minutes. This is very quick drying, so cover with a damp cloth.
Mom

CB said...

Mine was on the 11th (29 yrs and counting)But I agree with you there is no number to for good reasons. We decorated the Christmas tree every year on my birthday weekend ARGH... (hmm might still have some anger over this) But my dd and I will be making a gingerbread house this weekend.

MOMMY said...

Those came out adorable. Happy Birthday!

Jen said...

I LOVE your new header - it's so cute! :)

Melissa said...

The houses look wonderful! What a great tradition for your birthday... I wouldn't make frosting if it was my birthday either... :)

Tayasmama said...

Wow. wow. wow. little milk cartons. Freakinnnggg genious!!! Where the heck was THIS idea when I needed it?!?!?! That's what I get for not celebrating, I don't learn the tricks!

Tonya said...

Those are killin' me...I love the little marshmellow snowman...so creative...

Lovin the new header...you alway ssnag the cutest fonts...

Tonya

BD @ BusyDadBlog.com said...

Hey, I'm far from a craftsy person (and would wince if someone called me one), but those are some cool gingerbread houses! And great job documenting them in pictures. I guess some traditions are worth perpetuating, even if by threat of bodily harm.

Oh, and happy birthday! May you get the adult equivalent of a Barbie McDonald's set.

Alicia said...

Ooohh, I've never made gingerbread houses.

My favorite is the last one though they are all very lovely.

And Happy Birthday!

Kimberly said...

Oh heck...thanks for the reminder! It's my sister-in-law's birthday that day as well and, yup, totally spaced.

Luuuuurve the houses! So yummy looking...and, yeah, charming and pretty, that too.

Must...eat...lunch...now...