The Flat Pack Craze and the 7th Day of Christmas

Anyone that lives in the ACT and region may be aware that Ikea opened up here in early November (and if you aren’t after it was shoved in our faces every five minutes for 6 months, you have a problem). Now Canberrans need not take the three-and-a-bit hour road trip up to Sydney every time they move into a share house just to buy cheap plates and maybe a flat pack bed or new lampshade. Huzzah! I stopped by the new store out at Majura Park with my mother last weekend with the warning that it would take at least three hours to get through it, which she promptly disregarded and continued to meander along as usual. I cried when we finally found the exit exactly three hours later, a few hundred dollars poorer and weighed down with plenty of crap we didn’t even go there for. It was thrilling.

Anyhoo! While there I noticed that Ikea has a flat pack gingerbread house kit! Pinterest, being the lair of Stepford Wives and Martha Stewart, has convinced me that decorating cakes and gingerbread houses is the easiest, most wonderful, coolest thing in the world, so I’ve been keen to get my hands on a gingerbread house kit for years. Despite my Pinterest delusions, though, a part of me is ruefully aware that I still use my patented “air cutting” method of chopping vegetables, so I knew enough not to start off with too much ambition. The $5.00 kit Ikea is peddling seemed like a great opportunity to try without blowing the budget.

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This “budget” plan went out the window almost instantly. For anyone wanting to try this, this is what you get in the Ikea gingerbread house kit:

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For some reason I expected the icing mixture, candy and whatever I needed to be in the box as well. That being a total fabrication on my part, I went to the shops and dropped over $30 on the extra bits- the kit from my local that probably DOES come with these bits was actually cheaper. >_<

This is the set up, after I finally had everything I needed:

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The instructions actually said to put the house together first, THEN decorate it, but I wanted to do something *complicated*, so I ignored this. I first spent way too long researching gingerbread decorating, branched out into henna designs, went on Pinterest for a bit, before circling back to actually starting the project. First, the icing!

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The icing is basically meringue with some lemon to smooth it. I didn’t have either a piping bag or any clue how to make one with with wax paper, so I also grabbed a sandwich bag and bit off a corner. It would’ve been effective if I had actually used it for more than five seconds. It turns out that piping was kind of useless after the roof, but go me for the good idea!

I did do the roof first, though, because it was the most exciting bit. I had the idea to use almonds slivers as shingles, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!

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It took forever because I wanted to use whole slivers and had to keep sorting these from the broken bits. BUT, worth it! After the roof, I experimented with adding icing decorations to my walls:

 
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I learned this technique from a Balinese nail technician on a beach in Sanur when I was 16. It’s nothing fancy, but I’m pretty happy with the results!

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The hardest part was gluing it all together. I now understand why the instructions say do this first. It was a MESS. Like, everything kept falling over and getting my walls all messy, and the stupid icing glue didn’t set for ages. I figured out the trick was to over icing everything and make sure you stick the bottoms of the wall down to something. >_< Look at how much icing is hanging out inside my house. Just, ew:

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My roof tried to slide off several time, I had to touch up my walls, and the chimney wouldn’t fit over my shingles. This, I think, was the disaster moment. The copious icing started to set after about twenty minutes, though, and things got better after that. This is it before I gave up on the chimney:

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AAAAND, with a final dusting of sugar and coconut, it’s done!

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All up, the whole experiment took about five and a half hours, I got crazy sugar high from licking bits of icing off my fingers, and used maybe $10 of the $30 of extra crap I bought. I feel it was successful, even though I used twice as much icing as the instructions told me to and the stupid chimney was a eaten as scrap parts with a coffee by my dad afterwards. I will probably never do this ever again.

If you want to compare to the original, “follow the instructions” version, go here: LINK 

What do you think? Can I call this an Ikea hack do you think? Is it Pinterest-level decorating? Would you try it? Let me know below!

^_^ xx – Danni

 

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