Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break. Time for Gingerbread.

What is it about burnt peanuts? What could make something sooooo good? I love them. I can't stop thinking about them. And they look so weird. Hmm. I don't get it. Maybe it's that crispy bumpy red outer layer that houses the sweet chewy inner layer that houses the yummy peanut?

I once wrote a children's book about peanuts. I wonder where that is...

But anyway, the burnt peanuts worked great on the gingerbread houses my kids made today. My six-year-old used one atop a dab of green frosting that looked like an ivy leaf. Holly and ivy--cool. Yeah, yeah, I know it's March. Spring break, in fact. And this is why we finally have time to get to this crafty project.

In the after-Christmas clearance I found this gem. It was not just a gingerbread house. It was a gingerbread village. That meant there were five tiny gingerbread houses, one for each of my kids. It came with frosting and (according to the outside of the box) "LOTS OF CANDY!"

Which I, naturally, didn't believe.

"Lots of candy" is in the eye of the beholder. Without even glancing inside I made a backup plan and bought the 50-cent bags of Sather's candies at the grocery store: licorice laces (love them!), burnt peanuts (crave them!), Good n Plenty (generic), gumdrops (don't love them but have to have them for gingerbread decorating purposes.) Thus armed, I felt ready for the challenge! (I view all craft projects as a challenge. Bless the hearts of those women who view them as relaxation. It will never be me.)

So we gathered everyone around, thanked them for doing their enormous list of jobs for which this activity served as a reward, and broke out the kit. Each kid picked their favorite little building--a toy store, a regular house, a gabled house, a bakery, something else--and got going.

It would have been fine. It might have even been fun, except I miscalculated. Instead of buying backup candy, I should have bought backup frosting. After several months on various shelves, that stuff had turned from malleable to crusty. Imagine~in March! Shouldn't frosting be more dependable than that?
Our houses didn't look nearly this good.

Yeah, I could have whipped out my powdered sugar and butter and made another batch, but instead I made them muddle through in crustiness, and the houses kept falling down every time they pressed a Spree onto the roof. There were some tears, and growls of frustration not a few.

Eventually I distracted them by taking them to the park.

I guess the lesson is that some things are better done sooner than later. I'm sure this applies to writing. For me it probably best applies to journal writing. Write while the emotion still tingles, while the details and feeling are still fresh. Journaling can be a great source of datamining for future writing. I don't necessarily have to write about my own experiences, but when I have a character who needs to feel a certain emotion, I can dig through the journals and find a time when I felt depressed or elated or incensed. Then I can more accurately infuse the character with the emotion.

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