Refreshing the Fairy Garden

Almost a year ago, Melody created a fairy garden. It was modest, small by some standards, but it thrived under our gardenia bush and we picked up a few more bits and pieces over time. Due to some work we had done in our yard, we have had to relocate the fairy garden. Don’t worry, the gardenia is still beautiful! :-) We collected all the accessories, stones, and little items we had made, and set to work on a new and improved fairy garden.

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Melody chose the placement near a rosebush

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Here she is laying down a pebble path from the house to the garden gates

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The fairy’s house, mailbox, and the path from the gate, plus a little visitor

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A bird’s eye view of the house and path, plus the little garden where the fairies are having a picnic!

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A close view of the house and the pebble path, plus a fairy resting in the shade of the bush

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Here is the “mama” fairy, sitting on a bench Melody and I made from clay and beads

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A top view showing the entry to the garden, the small stones leading to the garden gate, and the fairy resting on the bench

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The proud girl with her garden of fairies and pretty things!

We reused the sides of the old planter box we started with last year. The bottom of it rotted out completely, and so the sides, which were painted to say “fairy garden” were still of use to us. One is in the rosebush and the other is along side the brick border, on the other side of the garden. It will be clear to all fairies who fly by that this is the place for them!

Construction project

It has been many years since I made a gingerbread house from scratch. I have a vague memory of doing this as a kid, and in between I did one from a kit that had pre made house pieces and awful tasting royal icing. I had a whim this week that it might be fun to make a gingerbread house with Melody, so here we go!

Ready, set, bake!

Ready, set, bake!

I downloaded some instructions from King Arthur Flour (click the link, it is packed with info!). The gingerbread recipe was easy to follow, if a bit bland. I had hoped for a more gingery gingerbread. Next time I’ll stick with my mother’s or grandmother’s recipe. The first batch was so dry I had to add a bit of milk just to get the final dry clumps to bind with the rest of the dough. The second batch was insanely sticky.  Go figure, I used the exact measurements and measuring cups for each recipe.  ???  I chilled it for an hour, then with my sister’s words of wisdom ringing in my head, I floured the heck out of my work surface, plopped down some dough, floured it again, and then floured it some more for good measure! The dough when chilled was stretchy and rubbery. I had a hard time rolling it thin enough, but did have enough left over to make some trees, elves and a Santa Claus cut out.

The King Arthur template

The King Arthur template

The Pixie House template from Gingerbread by Design

The Pixie House template from Gingerbread by Design

Instead of square windows on Melody’s house, we used a small heart cookie cutter. Awww, it was pretty cute. :-) We allowed the gingerbread pieces to cool quite a long time before assembly. In the meantime I made royal icing. The key to good royal icing is beating it a long time, not quite to merengue state, but close. You want it thick so it doesn’t drip right off or run. I used a plastic zipper type bag in a gallon size as my pastry bag, and snipped off one corner. It worked great! The freezer weight bags are quite durable.

Don't you use canned goods to make your gingerbread houses?

Don’t you use canned goods to make your gingerbread houses?

More canned goods

More canned goods

I piped a bead on the bottom edge of the wall and stood it up, then did the same with the next wall, all the way through four walls. How did I get them to stay up you ask? Well I used cans to prop them up heh. Even though the royal icing was nice and thick, gravity is stronger haha. We left these to set overnight, then put on the roof pieces in the morning. Here we ran into trouble. On the Pixie House, one front wall was actually curved, and one roof piece was too short. Not sure how that happened since I used the same pattern piece to cut them both.  I also have not figured out how to make the gingerbread bake flat. Ours was ripply and lumpy. Hrmm. we used the can technique to set the roof pieces and watched some TV for an hour.

Finally, we went to town decorating. I got a little crazy buying candy for this escapade because I didn’t know exactly what we would want. I like to have lots of choices! We had Twizzlers, M-n-M’s, Skittles, gum drops, Dots, peppermints, bell shaped chocolates, candy canes in two sizes, plus stick pretzels and mini Oreos. Oops! But, it paid off and we have really colorful houses!

One last note about the templates. The chimney on the King Arthur house left something to be desired. But the chimney for the Pixie House was very nice and sits very sturdily on top of the house. A combination of the two house templates might work if you have the right roof pitch for the “good” chimney to work.

Hey! I forgot to cut out the front door opening!

Hey! I forgot to cut out the front door opening!

Mini Oreo shingles

Mini Oreo shingles

Gingerbread house love

Gingerbread house love

Someone got bored lol

Someone got bored lol

I lost Melody at this point. She wanted to get it done and go play. She was a trooper though and spent a good 3 1/2 hours doing this! She came back at the end to sprinkle the coconut for the snow. She was also high as a kite from eating plenty of the candy. :-)

Front

I remembered my own door

Why yes, that is Life cereal for shingles

Why yes, that is Life cereal for shingles

12 rows of it with 9 pieces per row...

12 rows of it with 9 pieces per row…per side

Don't forget the back!

Don’t forget the back!

This was a really fun activity but I think in the future I will only make one house. I’m glad we both had a house to decorate because we had very different ideas of what should be included and of course different levels of talent. But if we do this next year, Melody will decorate the house and we will enjoy it however she decides to do it!

Yum!

Yum!

Daisy Scout Field Trip: CPK

Our Daisy Scout troop went on a field trip last week to California Pizza Kitchen. And what fun for little girls! Who doesn’t like pizza and being with their friends?

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They showed the girls all through the kitchen, explaining all the different equipment and food safety features, and then the girls were invited to make their very own pizza! Someone suggested making a heart shaped pizza, and it was over…there were a dozen heart shaped pizzas, lol. And, perfect timing for Melody’s birthday, they gave us a CPK Kids VIP pass for a free ice cream. We will be going there for her birthday on Wednesday. Nice!

California Pizza Kitchen offers this at no charge for scout troops, and birthdays have a nominal fee. It was a great experience for girls and adults too. Bonus for CPK? They gave the parents a cup of wonderful coffee. Ahhhh. :-)