Mothers, children and friends gathered Saturday at a popular bakery to build memories and share in the cheer of the holidays.
A gingerbread house-making class, offered by Harvest Traditions Bakery in Soldotna, gave many a reason to get out of the cold and play with food.
Owner Sally Oelrich said this is the second year the class has been offered by her store. Employee Ramona Paulk helped by making icing during the busy class.
Oelrich had not heard of any similar class offered and decided to give it a try.
"We just thought it would be a fun thing to do," she said.
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Photo by M. Scott Moon
Oelrich has offered other classes in her bakery, including bread making, soup making and more.
As a retired teacher, she said, she is a teacher at heart.
Unlike traditional gingerbread houses assembled with royal icing, which takes awhile to harden, Oelrich showed the class her method of adhesion -- burnt sugar.
Oelrich said burnt sugar, melting pure sugar in a pan, makes the process quicker.
"A carpenter would have a fit with this house," she said, showing the group the holes left that would need to be covered by icing and candies.
After the demonstration, each group snagged an assembled "chalet" house Oelrich had waiting and found a spot in the crowded kitchen.
Participants prepare their gingerbread houses for a coating of goodies during the class.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Tables were full of goodies to make each house unique, including licorice, gum drops, chocolate chips, peppermints, Tootsie Rolls and more. It didn't take long before the decorations turned into snacks for many in the class.
Margie Campbell and her daughter Emily attended the class together. Margie said she had taken a tart-making class from the bakery earlier this year and enjoyed it.
"I learned a lot, so I figured I could learn a lot from this class, too," Campbell said.
She said she also liked the idea of doing something fun with her family.
They both brought friends to the class to share the experience.
Another family who took the class to spend time with family was Rhonda Orth, her three daughters and her mother, Rosie Reeder.
Orth worked on one house with two of her daughters, Jennifer, 14, and Madison, 4, while Reeder shared a house with granddaughter Lisa, 13.
Orth said she read about the class and immediately wanted to participate.
"I called my mom and said 'We have to do this,'" she said.
She said she always wanted to make a gingerbread house and thought the class would be a good experience.
"You get to do the fun part without doing all the work," she said.
Orth was not the only one excited; she said her daughter talked about the class on a daily basis.
While some used pictures to base their decorations on, Orth and her family decorated the houses freehand.
Nick Lockeby, 16, and his grandmother Darolyn Brown, both of Kenai, were working hard on their original home creation during the class.
Brown invited her grandson to the class. The two diligently iced and affixed candy pieces to the thick gingerbread pieces.
"I'd love to eat it, but I won't," Lockeby said, standing over the creation of a mouthwatering snack.
The two said they may save the house they made in the class for a decoration and make another at home.
"We'll take pictures and always have memories," Brown said.
As some were enjoying the experience for the first time, the Semmens were pros in the field of gingerbread.
Soldotna residents Susan Semmens and her young sons Trent and Travis attended the class as a part of their family tradition.
"It is a little family thing we do every year," Semmens said.
However, unlike the families that put their houses on display, she said her house will be gone by New Year's -- piece by piece.
For kids and adults, the traditional pastime was time well spent.
"It's cool," Trent Semmens said.
Harvest Traditions will offer another gingerbread house-making class Dec. 9.
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