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Fischer: The joys of being a gingerbread homeowner

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 25, 2022

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Jen Fischer

Ode to the gingerbread home. ‘Tis the season. This confectionary structure constructed with aromatic sweet and spicy biscuit dough is likely the closest that most of us will come to building our own house, myself included. This became an annual tradition when I was in college. My roommate thought it would be a good idea to spend our laundry money on gingerbread supplies. I hastily agreed, and we both regretted it, as did the people we came in contact with for the next several weeks. Either way, we moved forward with our plan. She finished her log cabin masterpiece in one day, complete with a four-car train in front made of miniature Snickers bars, Starlight mints and Tootsie Roll logs. Golf clap for her. I, on the other hand, spent the rest of my Christmas break attempting to construct some kind of a Victorian wonder that would make my creative culinary skills the talk of the town — neither of which actually happened.

Several soiled loads of laundry later, I had spent my years’ laundry budget on inedible dollar store candy, eggs and powdered sugar, only to create a confectionery disaster. My roommates had all vacated for the holidays and I was left holding the proverbial bag of royal icing. In truth, this bag was only proverbial in the sense that the icing had been contained in the bag. It had not. Once this creative concoction of egg white meringue dries, it is much like super-glue on steroids. It could adhere a 2-ton truck to a steel girder. The clean up was almost insurmountable.

I did, eventually, complete my project. It was a sturdy, snow-capped cottage featuring two stained-glass windows and a functioning door. The roof was capped with chocolate candy Kisses and delicate frosting icicles hung from the eaves. Candy canes, M&M’s, gumdrops, marshmallows and Fruit Loops all adorned the exterior. The stream on which the property boundary aligned consisted of rock candy, melted blue Jolly Ranchers and crushed Oreo cookies. Unfortunately, the building inspector refused to issue a Certificate of Occupancy. In fact, the property was immediately posted as “condemned.”

As a waterfront home, the ground was sloped toward the structure and could be considered a risk for flooding. Since flood insurance is astronomically expensive, and I had already spent my laundry money, I could not comply. The chimney mortar was said to be crumbling, which was difficult for me to believe since I couldn’t even get said “mortar” off the counters without a putty knife. I was being investigated for gingerbread-manslaughter since an icicle had fallen and “allegedly” pierced the cookie man’s chest.

I felt the property had potential, despite the deferred maintenance. The home featured an open floor plan, plenty of natural light (thanks to the crumbling chimney leaving a nice-size skylight) and professional landscaping (those candy rocks were pricey). I could have simply turned it back over to the bank; however, it would not have resulted in clean laundry any sooner. In the end, I decided to keep it. I displayed my fixer-upper on the kitchen counter for the rest of the year until it slowly eroded away, one piece of broken off candy at a time.

As for the tradition, however, it continues to live on. I am now joined by my spouse (albeit reluctantly), my children, their spouses and sometimes even friends. Over the years, we have made an ample contribution to the continuing housing shortage. If only we could find a building inspector who would agree.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.


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