This phenomenal gingerbread house-in-a-boot, made by Pat Ashley Howard, was awarded the Grand Prize Winner at the Grove Park Inn’s 2011 National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville, North Carolina.
The entry, entitled “Sugar Plums Danced in Their Heads,” was inspired by The Old Woman in the Shoe nursery rhyme. It was featured on the Food Network’s show, Gingerbread Giants.
Pat Ashley Howard decorated the outside of her gingerbread cookie boot with edible shoelaces, see-through windows, ornate doors, and balconies with S-curved railings. Read on to learn how she made it.
Pat Ashley Howard’s Story
Chapter 4 – Cookie Rhyme
Now we come to 2011 and I pulled out all the stops for that third win.
Finding the Inspiration
I created a house inspired by the nursery rhyme about the old lady who lived in a shoe. Although what I created was actually more of a boot than a shoe. And the rhyme took on a whole new meaning.
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children and knew just what to do.
She kissed them goodnight and tucked them in bed
where visions of sugarplums danced in their head.
Furnishing the Rooms
There were three rooms in the boot. I actually built each room separately, stacked them and then built the boot around them.
Room #1 – Gingerbread Foyer
First was a foyer with a fully decorated Christmas tree and presents.
Room #2 – Gingerbread Bedroom
The next floor was a bedroom with six children snuggled in their bunk beds. I was terrible at modeling people so that’s why their faces were tucked into their pillows and blankets with only their tousled hair showing.
Room #3 – Gingerbread Boudoir
The top floor was a boudoir complete with a claw foot tub, vanity bench, bubble bath and towels.
Toughing Out the Competition
That year the competition was tougher than ever. And the pressure was really on. There were numerous media film crews and reporters, among them HGTV, the Travel Channel and Yahoo Shine, all vying for on-camera interviews from those who were thought to be contenders for the grand prize.
My sister Laura and I dropped off my entry to the judging area, gave the media their interviews, and then spent the day visiting charming downtown Asheville. Little did I know what I was in store for that evening at the awards ceremony. This year my biggest group of close friends ever were attending the competition & awards ceremony, with most of them driving many hours to be there. That alone put even more pressure on me to score well.
As usual I found myself once again completely intimidated by all the beautiful entries that I was up against. I repeated more than once that this was going to be the year that I wouldn’t even make the top 10. But I was wrong. I made the top 10. Then they announced the third-place winner, then the second place winner. At that point I felt I wasn’t even going to place again, so, while listening to hear who the lucky winner was I started thinking about what I was going to order for dinner right after this painfully torturous waiting was over. But then, when the winner was finally announced, I looked around and everybody was looking right at me, clapping and cheering. And it was my name. I had won again. And just like my first win, all I could say was “no way, no way. Are you kidding me?” I had just become the only person in the history of the competition to win three times. This time I chose my words a little more carefully while accepting the award.
Email Pat Ashley Howard: firstname.lastname@example.org
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