Category Archives: Holidays

Project Ginger Redux

Project Ginger was such a huge success last year that the family decided we would try again this year. We opted to make a smaller house this time around, using a template for a saltbox house rather than last year’s colonial model. We ended up making two houses this year, one to demolish on Christmas Eve at my house and one that we gifted to my mother on Christmas Day. When I told her of our family tradition of smashing the completed house to bits at our Christmas party, Mom looked at me like I was nuts and replied with an emphatic  “Oh, I just can’t!” Mom took many pictures of what she called “an edible masterpice,” and I’m hoping to get those photos from her soon, because my photos leave a bit to be desired.

I’m not sure if Mom tore her gingerbread house apart or not. Mom held a party for her employees the Saturday immediately after Christmas, and my gingerbread house was the centerpiece on the buffet table. The staff was really thrilled with it, and they were also a bit surprised to find out that it was homemade (Even people who haven’t seen me in years recall that I am not exactly what you’d call a crafty gal). The clients also thought it was quite lovely and festive.

That darn house may still be intact today. I have no idea and, frankly, I’m afraid to ask. Not sure I’d want to know if there’s a two-week-old gingerbread house languishing in my mom’s beauty shop, the scent of peroxide and hairspray replacing the house’s original gingerbread/Necco wafer fragrance.

The candy selection this year was better than last year’s–I guess that’s because I planned far enough in advance this time to get the candy everyone wanted. This year we bedazzled our house with DOTS, Mike ‘N Ike, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, and the Necco wafers for the roof shingles. And we didn’t eat too much of the leftover candy. Okay, maybe we did.

My kids’ favorite part of the this whole exercise was–believe it or not–the little gingerbread boy and girl who stand guard at the front of the house. Ayden insisted on having a little Ayden and Zoe as part of the presentation, and I think it really works, don’t you?


A Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, Flamenco Dad and I will be packing up the kids and spending the holiday with my side of the family: my mom, stepdad, grandma, and brother. The kids are looking forward to some serious turkey eating and many rides on my stepdad’s ATV. Before I start getting angry letters from folks about the safety concerns, let me assure one and all that no one rides at an excessive rate of speed, the kids always ride with a responsible adult, and Florida has some of the flattest terrain I have ever seen! You’ve heard of making a mountain out of a molehill; here we make mountains out of anthills.

So since my mother has graciously offered to host the dinner, that means the bulk of the cooking is out of my hands. That can be good and bad: good, because my mom is a good cook (so you know the food will taste good) and also because that means less prep work for me; bad, because I don’t always know what is going to be on her table until I get there. Mom doesn’t put butter on anything, so Zoe’s safe there. And Mom doesn’t stuff the bird…also safe. Not only that, but there is usually some variety of rice and/or salad that is GFCF. Awesome. But other than that, the ingredients of the other foods at the table present challenges for Zoe, so one must always arrived prepared.

And that’s where I’m hoping you come in.

I am in need of some inspiration! I figure it would be a good idea to bring a side dish and a dessert item that I know are Zoe-friendly. So tell me: what GFCF goodies are you putting on your Thanksgiving table? Please leave your comments here, or send me a note at flamencomom [at] gmail [dot] com.

P.S. Your suggestions will come in especially handy in the coming weeks. Here at Casa Flamenco, we are not only hosting Christmas Eve, but we may be having a graduation party here at my house this month as well! Yes, that is my not-so-subtle way of saying the end of school is in sight; but also I haven’t decided on whether to just go out to lunch with my family after the graduation ceremony, or if a larger celebration is in order.

Is This Normal?

There may be something wrong with me: I have developed an unnatural attachment to a gift  my very special Santa gave to me. Behold, the shoes:sofft-corine1

You can’t hear me, but I’m squealing with delight over here. Cue the girly giggle noises! I know that they don’t look like the most practical shoes in the world, but they’re remarkably comfortable; and as a bonus, they make my giant canoe feet look dainty and feminine. Sweet! I also received this, which makes my hair smell good enough to eat. I’d say that I was a pretty girl girl this year, because Santa really hooked me up.

The Aftermath

After the Demo Team Got to It

After the Demo Team Got to It

I knew that my gingerbread house would be torn down eventually, but I was still really sad to see it in a heaping pile of rubble on my coffee table. My husband and the kids took turns poking at it with the wooden spoons in the picture until all that was left was the mess in the photo. The good news is that this experiment in edible construction has given rise to a new family tradition: the annual Build-A-Gingerbread-House-From-Scratch-Then-Tear-It-Down-athon. My niece Lisa made me swear that I would build one every year so that the family could bask in the glory of tearing it down on Christmas Eve. I guess you could say the house was a hit!

Mmm, cookies...

Mmm, cookies...

And my husband thought it was most delicious!

Merry Christmas, Achoo!!

Merry Christmas from the Flamenco Family

Merry Christmas from the Flamenco Family

What do obscene amounts of food, wrapping paper “snowball” fights, 103 degree fevers, gingerbread house demolition, and too much sangria have in common? Well, they were all part of our Christmas this year. Oh did I neglect to mention that my daughter is WAY sick? And that my little guy is slowly following in his sister’s stead? Yup, it’s humidifier and Kleenex city in my house this week. Sigh.

In other news, Santa was really good to me this year; to all of us, really. We’re blessed to have been able to spend the holiday with our loved ones (boogers and all), and that all of us are happy, healthy (mostly), and safe. I’ll put up a few photos of my Christmas booty and the demolition of my beautiful gingerbread house. It brought a tear to my eye to see that thing come down, but the gang seemed to have fun playing wrecking crew with it.

Project Ginger

Planning and Baking

Phase I: Planning and Baking

So over the weekend I started thinking about things I could do with the kids during the Christmas break, things that would keep them from trying to hunt around the house in search of presents. Then I had an idea: how about we make a gingerbread house? Since we had to make the house GFCF I was unable to grab one of those nifty kits available at Michael’s or Target, so I went on the hunt for a suitable recipe.

 I found one thanks to the Christmas cookie roundup I saw on Ginger Lemon Girl. Only Sometimes Clever posted a big-batch gingerbread cookie recipe that is not only GFCF, but also suitable for gingerbread houses. After looking over the recipe and heading over to Bob Vila’s for a template, we got to work.


Phase II: Construction

Karen Joy was not kidding: this recipe makes a LARGE batch of cookie dough. I used about half of it to make the pieces for the gingerbread house. I baked the pieces last night, and today the kids and I got to work on the royal icing and decorating. This was a great project; it does take quite a bit of time, so if you’re thinking about taking this on, allot yourself enough time to get it done. Zoe and Ayden were beyond excited about decorating the gingerbread house, and they can’t wait to show the finished product to our family at our dinner party tomorrow night. Now the kids are looking forward to tearing it apart on Christmas Eve!


Phase III: Decoration

Ready to Eat..

Ready to Eat..

Pumpkin Carving

God bless him, Flamenco Dad spared me from the icky task of carving the pumpkins this year. Last year, he carved the pumkins with the kids. FD was SO good at it that I saw an opportunity to delegate: “Hey honey, why don’t we make YOU the official pumpkin decorator? You’re so great at it, and the kids really love when you did it last year?” Having sufficiently appealed to his ego, he agreed. Hooray!

What a job he did! The jack o’lanterns turned out wonderful. Well, except for the fact that they are already rotting. They are now sitting in my back yard, scaring the squirrels and birds away. Tomorrow we’ll cut up the pumkins and feed them to the critters living in the trees behind my house.