Christmas In Clinton 2013

The 18th annual Christmas In Clinton  celebration is going to biggest one yet.  There are three new activities planned to ensure participation from the young all the way to the young at heart!


Fabulous fun with wine and food right here in Clinton

Have you ever been to Chamard?  I know some people I talk with say they have never been, but do want to go.  I say, wait no more!!

While Clinton’s very own vineyard is an absolutely gorgeous setting in which to spend an afternoon sipping some fine wine, they offer so much more than just stopping in for a taste of wine.  All local businesses should consider having their functions here, they have several great spaces that can accommodate a small group or a large crowd and offer catering to make for a memorable company outing. I have long believed  Chamard is the most perfect setting in CT for a wedding that is intimate and elegant.  Imagine your wedding guests leaving with a custom crush-your very own wine to celebrate your special day.  This is not a slap a custom label on a sub par bottle of wine; you select the grapes the type of barrel for aging, and  Chamard will help create custom labels and take care of the bottling.  I have been there to their Sunday farmers’ market and my husband has been there for brew sessions offered by Stomp and Crush.  On a recent visit in their tasting room, I learned of another fabulous event they have going on all year long, a Singer Song Writer & Food Truck series.  What better way to spend a Friday evening after work than to wind down with a glass of wine enjoying live music and fun food options?  You can learn about their calendar of musicians on their blog here.   Interestingly, one of their “Food Truck” vendors is another Clinton business:  Franks Wood Fired Pizza Truck.  I couldn’t believe I had never heard of Frank and his mobile oven after all he lives not far from us and we share similar interest-wood fired pizza-we both have brick oven’s in our back yards-who knew?  I can’t wait to meet Frank and have some fab pizza from his mobile oven.  Pizza is not the only thing Franks offers-he can do pigs-I see a a big party in our future.  Before you even think of phoning that Green Truck thing keep it LOCAL and call  Frank.

Another great thing about both Chamard and Frank, they have been very generous in offering awards to some our winners for this year’s Gingerbread Contest!  Now there is motivation for you!

National Gingerbread Contest

Clinton Gingerbread decided to make a Thanksgiving trip to the Carolinas.  Grove Park Inn, home of the National Gingerbread Contest, in Asheville, NC was top on the destination list.  Of course we were “wowed”, unfortunately pictures do not do some of these amazing creations justice!

From the adult non top 10:

The Tepee-a true case of the photo does no justice-quite a stunning piece.  A humble home, that looks difficult, but really is quite simple-hmm, can we recreate this?    Another Front Porch house and Snoopy’s dog house.   The kids enjoyed the “Nickelodeon House” , while well done, I am not a fan of the fondant,more of a cake  houses. The “Three Pigs Houses” were cute & simple.   The “Carolina House” was one of my top ten-can’t really say why, but just was nicely done-not over the top, but well done.

From the Adult “sub standards” we ventured to the teen winners.   I don’t even know what to say, quite amazing, pictures are not good enough, but I hope you can get an idea of the creativity and quality of these young gingerbread talents!!

Onto the child entries.  Keep in mind, the child ages are from age 5 to 8.  I am not sure I can do any of the top 3, actually, I am certain I can’t!

I’ll be posting more, so stay tuned!

I hope you all haven’t forgotten, there are a few ways to win an already assembled house. All you need is to add the treats and bring the finished product to the Congregational Church on Dec. 4th!

Candy Lover’s Outlet  is generously offering a 10% discount to anyone making a purchase at their store. In addition, you will earn a free entry with your purchase.

Liberty Bank on Main Street in Clinton also has a “blank” house that will be raffled off.  If you are in need of a new bank-check out the kind folks at Liberty Bank. They are wonderful supporters of several local events and worthy of your business.

Clinton Gingerbread’s 200th Facebook friend will be given a “blank” house-this house is a little different-the sides are covered in royal icing.

Dolan’s Tree Farm will be having an open barn, tree tagging party. Clinton Gingerbread is making all attempts to visit and offer a “blank” house for raffle.

I stopped by the Dolan’s to ask about having a “blank” house for raffle at their party, they are the sweetest couple!  They are humble, hard working folks who have created traditions for many families.  A little more about Dolan’s Tree farm and the Open Barn Tree Tagging Party can be found here at the Kelseytown Gazette. I hope you get a chance to read about them and consider making this a new family tradition-our family sure is.

Getting past the thought that making a gingerbread house is too difficult…

I have been getting lots of great feedback about the contest.  After a person enthusiastically proclaims, ” This is such a great idea!”  I follow up , “Great, so you will enter a house?”  Which is then followed by a long pause, grimace, deep breath and, “Well, I prefer to see them not create them, I couldn’t possible MAKE a gingerbread house.”  Let me assure you folks-nothing could be further from the truth!  My advice, become a believer.  If you get a chance to see some of the “ad”  houses out and about: Henry Carter Hull Library, Candy Lover’s Outlet, and Liberty Bank, you will see the structure is nothing fancy or complicated.    This is the template for those houses that I created 7 years ago when I first made a house.  You can make one house with a batch of the Wilton’s Grandma’s Gingerbread and have little left over to have a few cut out cookies if you choose.

You can can use the same ratios of the template and either increase or decrease the size of the pattern.  Making the dough to having fully cooked house pieces will take less than an hour.  Just yesterday, I made the dough and baked of the pieces for 5 “Mini Houses”  using a double batch of the Wilton’s Grandma’s Gingerbread in about an hour and a half.  These small houses are perfect for the little ones.

Once you bake your house, let it cool forat least a full 24 hours, 48 is better, especially if it is humid.  When you are ready to assemble your house, make your Royal Icing, the glue.  It is really easy, beat 1 pound of confectionary sugar, with 3 egg whites (room temperature) and 1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tarter.  You can substitute meringue powder by eliminating the egg whites and cream of tarter, and replacing it with 3 tablespoons meringue powder and 5-6 tablespoons water.  This mixture needs to be beaten for a long time-about 8 minutes.  It needs to be stiff and not at all runny.  Once made put the Royal Icing in either a pastry bag or zip-lock bag.  Cut of a small part of the tip of the bag (corner of zip lock bag)-you don’t want the hole to be too big or you will have a mess when you try to pipe out the icing.   Now, you are ready to assemble.  I found a great little step by step photo series on assembling a gingerbread house on Just Gingerbread.  What they do is exactly how I put my houses together.  As they state, do not try to put your roof on until the walls are completely dry-it is best to let them sit over night.

Hope I made a few of you believers!

Biscotti gingerbread coming our way!!!

I recently learned about a fast rising new comer to the Clinton business scene,  Two Cousins Biscotti.  I visited their new facility to promote the contest-you should have smelled the place-heavenly!!!  Their biscotti is made from an original family Italian recipe, using only natural ingredients and no preservatives.  Everything done with care-while I was there, lemon peel was being carefully cut and prepped by hand.  What is really great-despite being crazy and I mean CRAZY busy, they are going to make a gingerbread biscotti “house” for the contest!!!!  Some other cool things that they are doing-they have the brilliant idea of making your gift giving a bit easier this year-they have gift boxes and bags of their biscotti all package up for the holidays ready for you to hand out to teachers, bus drivers, mail persons, anyone-they are a super cute, easy and yummy gift.  This is one sure way to keep things local this season!  And the last jaw dropper from them, they have been selected to do a promotional demo at Williams Sonoma- I told you fast rising!!  Give them a like on FB and be sure to check out their website.

Think outside the box-it doesn’t have to be a house…

I stumbled upon this series of photos from a contest a few years ago which has a stadium gingerbread.  I know at least one of you are thinking about doing a stadium so that link and these pictures are for you:

I have heard a few others mention Harry Pottery-have at it folks-a step by step gallery of this magical castle!

A little Quiddich anyone?

How about Boston Common’s Swan Boats?

I must admit this looks a little tricky, but fun:

Who needs Staples when we have Technique Printers right in our backyard?

I have learned a lot about Clinton the past few days.  I am slightly ashamed at admitting this but, I never really knew all the great businesses that are offered right here in Clinton.  I always give the default -I am not really from around here.  That line is tough to sell because just a few days ago, marked our 11th year here, both in Clinton and CT.  I need to drop the: “I am not from around here,” and work a little more at keeping it local; after all, this is what my children will call home!

I knew Technique Printers was going to be doing the printing of the flyers that Karen Gardner made for Christmas In Clinton and since I needed some printing for my friend, Clinton Gingerbread (have you had a chance to become Clinton’s friend on FB?), I decided to make that my first stop and not that Red Button store out in Old Saybrook.  They all are super nice and beyond helpful at Technique Printers.  This is my first time doing  anything like this and they held my hand through every decision-something that is almost impossible for me to do.  I picked up my printing yesterday-the came through with shining colors-everything was just as I wanted.  Today, I salute you, Technique Printers!

I hope any of you who need printing of any kind stop there first!


Anyone up for a famous landmark?

Wow, wow, and wow!!  So, I was searching around for a gingerbread Taj Mahal- you know a humble doable type to satisfy my son.  There are ideas out there, I am keeping my fingers crossed.  I did have to be the bearer of bad news when I told him we couldn’t make this version:

This “Around the World” display was too incredible not to give a quick little post about it.  If we get one house that is half as good as any of these  in this year’s contest, I will be thrilled!!!!

Please do take the time to check out the photos to the rest of this display  here.