Where you been, Joe?

Well I’ll tell you. It all started nearly a year ago, when I made a donation to our local parish. They have a casino night each January to raise funds for school programming. Part of the event is a silent auction, for which parishioners donate prizes ranging from artwork to electronics. I’d just finished doing gingerbread houses for the blog so I figured: why not? “Your house rendered in gingerbread” for a recommended donation of $75.

I figured I was pretty safe from a major time commitment since most of the houses around here are simple, turn-of-the-century Kentucky bungalows or boxy Victorians. What I neglected to consider was one corner of the neighborhood that’s peppered with 50’s-era chalets. Wouldn’t you just know that the family who won the house would live in one of them…a high-peak three-bedroom with four dormers, two additions off the rear and a tricky set-back front porch containing several arches.

The house directly across the street was a two-story cube, but when they refused to consider moving into it I had no choice. I got out my compass and protractor and started drawing. I had the main structural walls up last weekend, with an awful lot of detail work still to do. Then something happened. A big work project that was supposed to take up half of Thursday and most of Friday was canceled. The wife was teaching, the kids were in school and the skies were too dark and grey for any Joe Pastry photography. I saw my opportunity and I took it.

Which is why I spoke naught of popovers last week. I’ll tell you this though: I learned a lot about Swiss-inspired American architecture. It’s fussy and a lot more complicated than it might seem at first. Fortunately the deal didn’t include decorating or I’d still be applying Necco wafer roofing tiles. Whew! This year I’m donating a gift certificate to Applebees!

17 thoughts on “Where you been, Joe?”

    1. Hey Jennifer! Those are the finals…at least for my part. The decorating I’ve left up to the recipients, and darn excited they are to do it, too. Decorating a gingerbread house really is a kick! I’ll post a picture if I can get one once they’re done with it.


      – Joe

  1. I bet this took a gingerbread blue print larger than a real one :). It’s good that the roofs weren’t true Swiss style because I’d imagine it won’t be easy to replicate the slanted front. Good job.

    1. Yes, it’s Swiss-“style” for sure. Some of the houses in the area have tougher angles for sure. It could have been a much harder job!

      – Joe

  2. That is beautiful and they are a lucky, lucky family! I hope for the school’s sake you’ll do it again but come up with a more advantageous/reasonable price schedule.

    Meanwhile, I hope you’ve got the time left to do one with the Pastryettes. I remember last year’s and I’m sure they do too! ;>

    Well done!!!

    1. All the money goes to the school, but they could definitely be making a little more money on one of these! 😉

      I’ll do one for our house for sure. I still have the templates from last year!

      – Joe

  3. Great job. I’ve always wanted to try a gingerbread house but I would leave the decorating to someone else. I can see why it would have kept you busy. For 2 years I donated a full cake to a Cub Scout auction. I was lucky they gave me the theme and I knew what I’d have for a guideline and was able to pick what I wanted to do..following the theme. The first year I did the Cub Scout insignia in white chocolate and painted the colored parts with cocoa butter paints. I thought I learned enough from that one to say no the next year but I found myself saying yes. That year was Americana so I did a white chocolate disc and placed it on the top and drew Abe Lincoln in dark chocolate with air-painted flying flag behind him. It turned out well but it was a LOT of work. I was told both cakes got the highest auction bid. I was proud of that but hoped I’d never be asked again. I admire your dedication and skills!!

    1. I wish I’d talked to you before all this began! 😉 I want to see pictures. Do you have any?

      – Joe

  4. One year when I was in college, my dad and I decided to replicate our house in gingerbread. I think it took about 3 days — dad figured out the blueprint, I baked the cookies and we decorated together. . .even did a little “authentic” landscaping and since my mom had a small cat cookie cutter, made a couple of cats to match ours (including the manx cat that had no tail!) It was a great time and a fun memory. Thanks for the memories! 😉

    1. It is fun. I like to make fun of the process, but there is something delightful about making a house you can eat…even if it’s for someone else. They were so excited, it was very gratifying to see. My girls can’t wait for me to start ours.

      Thanks Tonia!

      – Joe

  5. Interesting you mentioned that you parish has a casino night. I was shocked when I first learnt that a lot of Protestants don’t allow ‘gambling’ – whatever that means! Is that a Calvinist leftover?

    1. I’m sure it’s something like that, it depends on the denomination. Episcopalians have fund raiser gambling I know. Not so sure about anyone else.

      – Joe

  6. I have just started baking the parts for a gingerbread village. So far I have the makings of a castle, two small cottages and one larger house. Am thinking I need a few more buildings, but can I be bothered? It’s hot here. Maybe just some trees and meringue snowmen.

  7. I don’t have a photo of the Cub Scout insignia. I was so exhausted I forgot to take a photo but I have one of Abe if you want to see that.

  8. On the way. I had quite a few mistakes (as I noted) but learned a lot about dealing with chocolate and painting on it. Not sure I’d want that for a job!! Thanks, Joe!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *