Winter Kitchen and the Ginger Stars

comments: 73


I love it when the light comes into the kitchen in the afternoon. It's a dark room in the morning and for most of the day, but in the winter for just a short while on sunny-ish afternoons, it filters in at a low angle through obstacles — bare branches, eyelet curtains, onion baskets. Some people are so affected by light, and some people don't seem to notice it too much. Andy and I are in the former category. We are constantly fussing with the lights, tweaking dimmer switches, curtains, and lightbulbs throughout the day and the season until it feels right. I think that part of the reason I miss snow so much is that the daylight, when reflected off snow and into the house, is so much brighter and whiter than the daylight reflected off . . . mud. Our house faces north, and we need every bit of brightness we can get.

What any of it has to do with gingerbread I don't know, except that I find myself just wanting to be in the kitchen all the time lately. Who doesn't, during the holidays. It's warm in there, and the light is nice, and there is cinnamon, and hot drinks, and happy work to be done (unless chocolate is involved, and then there is howling). I just couldn't bear to ruin anymore chocolate in anymore bad brownies, so I decided to go with homemade gingerbread for my baked gifts. Next to homemade egg nog (so much different than the store-bought stuff) and Mexican hot chocolate, gingerbread is right up there with my favorite holiday treats.


Homemade gingerbread requires, you know, ginger, which is fun to chop up into little glittery nuggets. Nevertheless, as we were standing in the aisle at Winco on Sunday afternoon about to buy four bottles of molasses, a ginormous jug of vegetable oil (eeewww), and a big huge bag of flour, I saw a stack of about a thousand Betty Crocker gingerbread mixes for $1.48 each — just add eggs and water. I stood for long moments, flat-footed in front of the display, thinking, thinking. I pointed at them and looked at Andy hopefully — yes? NO said he, and dragged me away. He insisted that "we'd" have more fun if we did it from scratch. Strangely, he disappeared into the basement the minute we got home. . . . But he did come back up when it was time to clean the kitchen and take care of the whole batter-splattered thing, so that was fun. He was right!


Perhaps homemade gingerbread is no-fail, because mine amazingly came out just fine. It was a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. I used this recipe I found by just doing a search; it seemed to have gotten good reviews. I'd have to agree with them — mine came out dense and moist and really nice. Phewy. Well, some of them sunk a bit in the middle, but I think it's because I was baking four at a time. And it was only some. And it's crunch time here, baby, so nothing can stop me now.


I used star-shaped paper baking molds from the Decorette Shop here in Portland. These come in lots of shapes and worked beautifully for me. I found some on-line here. They're a little pricey but I think they're so beautiful. The design on top is just powdered sugar sifted through a square doily (and I have no idea where I got the doilies; I've had them forever — sorry!).


Mmmmmm. Spicy stars. Can you smell them?


those look fantastic! mmmm! Man, I am seriously going to be missing my daily Posie posts while we're in Mexico ...

Oh, it's like you're channeling Martha! Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

They look so delicious AND beautiful. As a photographer I can tell you I always pay attention to the light.

nothing smells better than gingerbread baking! mmmmmmm
I'm a slacker and just buy the packaged mix though. so good to eat while warm with whipped cream!

Bravo! The whole process looks so inspiring, I've never made gingerbread before, but now I think I'm going to have to try! Thank you for sharing!

Hello Alicia,

I was hoping to send you a personal email but this comments section will have to do. I have a confession to make, I have been stalking your blog for nearly a year now and I have to say it has become a bit of a lunch time ritual. First off let me just tell you, I know absolutely nothing about crafting, I actually have no interest in crafting whatsoever. I am a fifty year old career woman in Seattle. I have been an executive in the past for many years and now own and work at my own company, a technology recruiting firm. One day last year my kid's nanny shared your site with me and I have been captivated ever since. I love reading everything you write, your daily life with Andy and clover, your families, nieces, parents. I love your photos, your sense of style and color. Your home and the beautiful simplicity of it. I love the relaxed easy going approach you take to your life even when you are "stressing" about your doll kits or something.
I would say I don't have a creative bone in my body but I do LOVE to cook so your obsession with REAL food and baking, I totally get. So I have this routine where I get my lunch and take it to my desk and look at your blog as my little lunch time treat to myself. My brief moment of relaxation in my otherwise busy, office-type, day. Thank you so much for being out there and sharing honestly about things like the death of your dog, the lost Christmas present from your dad and Andy's recent fall and surgery. I read every page and love your pictures, your outlook and vicariously your life. Thank you again for sharing.

Merry Christmas,

well I just wrote out the most eloquent comment and typepad ate it (no fault of my own, I assure you!). Yes, I can smell ginger everywhere now that I've clicked over here. Wouldn't it be so fun to hang out in the kitchen all day together. One day sista! xo

u could never tell u have light problems at ur house. ur photos always look so cosy and nice never cold and dark!
yummm the gingerbread looks so good... i made some (diff recipe) and mine were less bready more cookie... yummm nonetheless

YES! send some over now, please! I went mad baking last Saturday and now after a short break, I'm ready for another whole day - thanks for the inspiration today and yesterday!

Those are beautiful! What a wonderful gift.

I dreamed about decorating gingerbread houses last night, LOL~that doesn't happen often!

I also wanted to let you know that I got the package--thank you!

Elizabeth Mackey says: December 19, 2007 at 02:12 PM

I know exactly what you are saying about light! I live for the fall and winter here in California, because of the incredible light. Especially after it rains. When I lived in Europe, my favorite two countries for the most amazing light were, Sweden in the summer and Scotland! So gorgeous. I tried and tried to capture it in photos and only succeeded in Sweden I think.
Our family loves gingerbread and Mexican hot chocolate also! I made both a couple of weekends ago. I think I may try the recipe that you did though, as mine was from cooking light. Who needs cooking light during the holidays! Keep posting all your wonderful Christmas projects,cooking and crafting,you are keeping me motivated to do some more of both.

Where is the Christmas Clover!!!! I love all the other things, but can't we have a puppers Christmas video? Clover fans unite!

Where is the Christmas Clover!!!! I love all the other things, but can't we have a puppers Christmas video? Clover fans unite!

These look fantastic! So funny to read that facing north means dark and gloomy. Here in Australia it's the opposite - the ideal for max sunlight is rooms facing north.

Wow, those photos are making my mouth water. Fabulous.

Yum. Are those huge cookies or small cakes?

Alicia, can I pleeeeeease be on your gift list:-)))) I can't remember the last time someone made me a gift like that! Happy baking, we did gingerbread cookies today---all done with those , thank goodness!

Those spicy stars look wonderful! i like a nice sunshiney house too. My little kitchen is just flooded with sunlight in the mornings and I love it!

I can tell that you really understand light. Your photography, which I love, shows it. I also like your gingerbread stars.

Wow do they look beautiful! Great job!

You make everything seem so beautiful and interesting!

If you have a trick about using the sifted flour, I would appreciate knowing it. Mine always looks so smeared and messy!

oops I meant to say sifted sugar!!!

They look beautiful and delicious. I use the gingerbread recipe I got from Colonial Williamsburg. They're a family favorite.

They are so pretty! And so festive!

My husband and I moved to Bonn, Germany for the year and we are loving all of the readily available Gingerbread (Lebkuchen). My kitchen is okay but nothing like the one I had in the US and of course all of my baking supplies are in storage in the US. I am living vicariously through your baking ... so thank you.

With regard to the eggnog ... I can't believe how much I miss it. They have Eilikor (Egg liquor) and Eierpunch (a drink made from Eilikor) that is very good ... but it is not Egg nog. I had thought about making it myself but I'm just not comfortable eating raw eggs -- particularly since I like the nonalcoholic version.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.