June 29, 2016

Partly sunny

Gingerbread challenge: Brunswick trio wins event at Jo-Ann Fabric

MEDINA TWP. — A few snowflakes on the window and a little “White Christmas” music wafting through the air set the stage for the first gingerbread-house decorating challenge Saturday afternoon at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store.

Although the turnout was smaller than expected, the team of Jenny Morrison, 49, and her daughter Alyssa Kolarik, 23, and niece Larissa Duncan, 17, all of Brunswick, quickly began to create a cottage spun from the stuff of fairy tales.

Jenny Morrison, left; her daughter, Alyssa Kolarik, right; and niece, Larissa Duncan, all of Brunswick, encourage Meredith Terepka, 6, front, of Medina, to help them create a gingerbread cottage for the decorating challenge hosted Saturday afternoon by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft in Medina Township. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDY A. TOTTS)

Armed with a tub of thick white frosting and containers of handcrafted candy reindeer and winter-clad carolers, they soon topped the house with multicolored chocolate shingles and created a small forest of pine trees made from inverted mini-ice cream cones covered in green frosting.

Nancy Pero of Brunswick, who has taught the Wilton method of cake decorating for Jo-Ann stores about 15 years, said competitors could purchase kits and were encouraged to put the house together before they came, but the actual decorating had to be completed on the premises.

“Wilton and Jo-Ann sponsored the challenge, so there was no entry fee,” Pero said as she watched the team place marshmallow Peeps snowmen next to a pine tree. “They provided the prizes.”

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” said Morrison as she filled a plastic decorating sleeve with frosting and handed it to Duncan to pipe window trim on the gingerbread walls. “But I’ve always baked, and I used to decorate cakes and make candy. We bought two kits, and we did a practice house last night.”

She said the girls entered the contest several weeks ago and added her name to the team after she offered a few artistic suggestions.

Their work drew the attention of 6-year-old Meredith Terepka of Medina, and they invited her to jump into the fun.

“This is cool,” Meredith said as the cottage grew into a Hansel-and-Gretel storybook confection. “I made a house once with graham crackers. We used frosting for glue.”

People streamed by, oohing and ahhing over the glitter on the roof, and commenting on the cleverness of the crushed nut “pebble” path leading to the door as the team added the finishing touches.

When the team received their prizes, two $25 gift certificates from Jo-Ann and a $10 certificate toward Wilton products, Morrison looked at the gingerbread house and smiled.

“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” she said. She nodded as the girls took their gift cards and product certificates and headed down the aisles of the store.

“That’ll be gone in a minute,” she said with a laugh.

Contact Judy A. Totts at jatotts1701@gmail.com.