Adiron-Deck the Halls: An RLPS Holiday Village

My brother-in-law, John, works as a project architect and construction administrator for RLPS, an architectural firm based in Lancaster.  For many, many years his firm has created a unique Christmas-themed display which is then opened to the public.  After our family Christmas gathering on Saturday, John gave us a private viewing of this year’s village and of the gorgeous office space he gets to work in every day.

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The theme this year is the Adirondack Mountains and all buildings are required to reflect this turn of the century (circa. 1900-1930) architectural style.  Several rules accompanied the design and creation of this year’s theme: all models are at a scale of 3/8″ – 1’0″ (making people about 2 inches tall), all visible material other than windows, roof structure and lights are edible, and 75% – 100% of the  exterior walls  are made of pretzels.  I was blown away by the precision of construction and the attention to detail – even the interiors had glowing fireplaces, Christmas trees and an occasional grand piano.  With moving parts, a multitude of twinkling lights and a heavy dose of whimsy and humor,  Adiron-Deck the Halls was an unexpected delight  for me.  I’m thankful for my connection to an insider so I could take my time investigating it.

Some statistics:

  • > 30 unique pretzel shapes used
  • 40 gallons of Royal icing
  • 120 12″ x 12″ sheets of gingerbread
  • 15 pounds of salt
  • 16 pounds of aluminum wire
  • 652 trees
  • > 50 pounds of candy
  • 20 pounds of rock candy
  • 17 houses
  • > 2400 lights

This is what happens when designers, draftsmen, and architects play with their food:

Adiron-Deck the Halls 

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So much fun…thanks, John!

UPDATE: John sent me the link to a time-lapse photography video on Youtube showing all the prep that was involved in putting this little display together.

A Little Yule Cheer: Day 21 (Christmas Card Outtakes)

Ever since my youngest child joined our family, my husband and I have been exploiting our children to create adorable Christmas cards.  When Aaron was four months old, we dressed the kids up as  Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.  We used an old Crate and Barrel magazine rack for the manger and pillow cases for costumes.  The card was a huge hit and a tradition was born.  Through the years the kids have been angels, shepherds with cardboard sheep, lions and lambs, Santas, and the reindeer you see below.  They’ve held candles, played in the snow, and spelled the word Joy with cardboard letters painted gold.

Now that the kids are older (my daughter is 19 and my sons are 16 and 14), we’ve pretty much given up doing creative family Christmas cards.  The last time I asked the kids what theme they wanted to do, my middle son suggested a recreation of that first manger scene complete with my youngest son, who is now 5’7″ and 170 lbs., playing the role of baby Jesus.  That went over like a lead balloon as you can probably guess.  With that, our card tradition has come to an end.

I wish I could say that I miss creating all those Christmas cards, but I really don’t.  They were a lot of work, mostly because getting three children to look at a camera at the same time and smile is difficult  under normal circumstances.  Add props like a lit candle or uncomfortable costumes and it becomes an impossible task.  Photos sessions always ended with someone in tears (usually me and at least one child) and an oath that we were never, ever, doing this again (which we always did).

Somehow, we always managed to put a card together before Christmas and as much as I don’t miss doing it, I’m so glad we made the effort.  Our family and friends have enjoyed the cards and w e now have a wonderful collection of images of our children across the past 14 Christmases.  The funny thing is, when I look through the photos, I love the ones that didn’t make the cut the best because that is where each child’s personality really shines through.  Sweet Julia, who has always been a pleaser, wanting to do exactly what we asked of her and who the boys could get to laugh at the drop of a hat.  Mark ,who was always half annoyed that he had to participate and who could never keep his eyes open when the flash went off.   And Aaron, who has the most expressive face of anyone ever and who couldn’t sit still for 5 seconds.

The photos below are from our 2007 Christmas card.  The kids are 11, 8, 6.  You’ll notice they are signing in some of the photos.  I found that it helped them to smile if they sang Christmas carols.  None of the photos below made it to the cover of the Christmas card that year but I love every single one of them.  They are the perfect example of what our Christmas card process was normally like and are beautiful reminders for me of who my children were at that time.

Christmas Reindeer of 2007

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Thank you for allowing me to revel in some Christmas nostalgia and for joining me.