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Daily digest: Candy cane shortages come for America’s gingerbread houses, a…

Daily digest: Candy cane shortages come for America’s gingerbread houses, a…

    Daily digest: Candy cane shortages come for America’s gingerbread houses, a new bridge for Indianapolis’s 16 Tech, and more

    Good afternoon and welcome back to another recap of what’s going on today, from the eclectic to the important.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    A nationwide candy cane shortage threatens gingerbread house construction

    The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be taking its toll on a critical segment of the building industry this time of year: gingerbread house construction.

    The New York Post reported that retailers are experiencing a shortage of a key ingredient needed to make gingerbread houses: candy canes. A weak peppermint harvest and COVID-related supply chain issues have contributed to what the publication is calling The Great Candy Cane Crisis of 2021. “We only received half of our candy cane order for the holiday season and sold out almost immediately. We currently have zero in stock,” Mitchell Cohen, the owner of Economy Candy on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, told the Post. “Raw material and ingredient shortages globally have had quite an impact.”

    “We can’t really do a gingerbread house without a candy cane tree, a candy cane door, or candy cane anything,” Cohen added. The shortage isn’t solely related to the pandemic. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, peppermint production in the United States has declined nearly 25 percent over the past decade, from 6.57 million pounds in 2011 to 4.98 million pounds in 2020.

    PAU and schlaich bergermann partner unveil a new bridge for Indianapolis’s 16 Tech district

    A year after AN broke the news that schlaich bergermann partner (sbp) and Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) would co-lead the design of a new bridge to link the 16 Tech Innovation District in Indianapolis with the city’s existing medical and educational research corridor, new renderings of the span have been unveiled. The 16 Tech Community Corporation pulled back the curtain on the bridge on December 15, revealing a 342-foot-long pedestrian bridge bounded by undulating steel ribbons meant to evoke tree trunks and canopies. On the eastern edge, the bridge will swerve to create a cantilevering observation platform over the river.

    “PAU was thrilled to collaborate with 16 Tech, sbp, and our other team members to deliver a bridge design inspired by both the needs of the richly diverse surrounding community and the beauty of our site in the verdant heart of Indianapolis,” said PAU founder and creative director Vishaan Chakrabarti in the announcement. “By echoing the surrounding trees with the structure of the bridge, and by providing places of pedestrian repose, this bridge will create both destination and connection during a time our society is in need of both.”

    The Pittsburgh Glass Center plans a major expansion

    Fueled by a rise in demand and media attention after Netflix’s glass-blowing competition show Blown Away took off, the Pittsburgh Glass Center is undertaking a major expansion (with an appropriately glassy facade). The center has tapped local firm Indovina Architects to expand its current headquarters at 5472 Penn Avenue, to approximately 8,000 to 9,000 square feet. The biggest addition will, from renderings, be a boxy new section for classes with a pleated glass curtain wall.

    The Department of Homeland Security is beefing up the Southern border wall despite the stop-work order

    Although construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was halted by President Biden on his first day in office, the Department of Homeland Security is still moving to repair sections endangered by flooding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reportedly handed off responsibilities for the border wall sections to the DHS after Biden’s executive order in January, but drainage remediation, gap closures, erosion control, and other upgrades are still ongoing—nowhere did the administration stipulate the removal of any southern border wall sections.

    A modular bridge fills in for a Louisiana span destroyed during Hurricane Ida

    The Gulf Coast is still cleaning up after Hurricane Ida tore through the region at the end of August, and for the towns of Jean Lafitte and Barataria in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, the storm also severed the connection between the island Barataria sits on, stranding its residents. Now, prefabricated and modular steel bridge company Acrow has delivered a temporary bridge to link the two bayou communities made up of two 100-foot-steel spans, which will remain in place until a permanent bridge to replace the storm-destroyed Kerner Swing Bridge is built.

    McDonald’s opens the U.K.’s first net-zero restaurant (not counting the food)

    Fast food giant McDonald’s is leaning in hard on its sustainable bona-fides with its continuing string of net-zero carbon emission restaurants, this time in the English town of Market Drayton. Powered by wind turbines and rooftop solar panels and built with recycled materials, the Scurr Architects-designed building is the first net-zero restaurant in the United Kingdom. Previously McDonald’s had turned to Chicago’s Ross Barney Architects as its go-to net-zero architect; the firm most recently completed a net-zero location for the chain’s Walt Disney World Resort flagship in Lake Buena Vista near Orlando.

    Of course, the net-zero status of the new outpost doesn’t take into account the enormous amount of carbon dioxide and methane (not to mention the deforestation) that comes from producing cheap beef.

    Gingerbread houses show spectrum of talent

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    Gingerbread houses show spectrum of talent

    Tilly Norton’s Christmas at the Surf Shack harks back to her time in Hawaii, before she moved back to Port Townsend. The creation was judged best in the individual builder category, ages 12 and younger.

    Parents Eric and Holly Kuzma helped their children, Anora and Cabett, build a Merry Christmas-Go-Round that plays merry-go-round music. The creation won a first-place award.

    Maddy Geelan’s Time to Decorate the Tree was inspired by her own home, including the shingles on the roof. Geelan, 10, said the project took longer than anticipated because her sister kept eating the building supply of candy.

    Quaint, cheery cottages sat alongside austere ruins, a baroque igloo, a Tolkien-esque battle scene, a seaside surf shack, an environmentally friendly home, an elaborate lighthouse, a workplace replica and a carousel that played music at Port Townsend’s 24th annual Gingerbread House Contest Jan. 7.

    Mari Mullen and Scott Rogers found themselves organizing the event for the first time in a new venue at the Flagship Landing building, drawing a dozen entries by builders of all ages. The Port Townsend Main Street Program organized the contest, traditionally hosted by Aldrich’s Market, while that business is in transition.

    There’s so much detail on some of these that you can miss it on just the first pass, said Mullen, Port Townsend Main Street Program executive director.

    The designs ranged from traditional to ultra-creative, said Rogers, co-owner of the Dogs-A-Food eatery, who helped round up prizes. In that sense, it was like Port Townsend as a whole, just as a gingerbread house contest.

    daily, digest, candy, cane

    Rogers received gift certificates from The Rose Theatre, Elevated Ice Cream Co. Candy Shop and Whistle Stop Toys, the last of which also donated the space adjacent to its store for the contest.

    In the 12-years-and-younger individual category, 3-year-old Nate Brady took third for Frosty’s House, while 8-year-old Blake Flanagan Tinling’s Hell Brute Slayer ranked second. Tilly Norton, 9, placed first with Christmas at the Surf Shack, which was inspired by her time in Hawaii, before she returned to Port Townsend.

    The hardest was getting the snowman’s eyes and nose to stick onto the frosting, Tilly said. Also, the first time I put it together, it fell apart. The roof broke.

    daily, digest, candy, cane

    Although she was able to recover through two weeks of baking, Tilly wasn’t the only entrant to suffer this setback. Heather Flanagan’s Dreaming of a Green Christmas home sported solar panels and a recharging station for its electric car, but a combination of humidity and insufficient load-bearing strength forced her to submit it with a broken roof.

    Heather nonetheless earned an honorable mention, as did Ray Grier for his Determination! New Life from Old Ruins, which was intentionally built to resemble the snow-covered rubble of a rustic structure.

    Adult Faith Kalous received the third honorable mention for her winter igloo, which she built in a couple of days out of doughnut holes, Styrofoam, clay and string and with tips from the Internet.

    Next time, I’ll cook it longer, Kalous said.

    In the 12-years-and-younger group category, Maddy Geelan, 10, spearheaded her family’s efforts with Time to Decorate the Tree, a subtly distinctive gingerbread house inspired by her own home.

    I tried to make it look like our house, Maddy said, as she looked at its black frosting exterior again, and my mom was the one who said, ‘Why don’t you use cornflakes to look like our roof shingles?’

    Although it took only two hours to put together, Maddy was hampered by her sister Lenore, who kept eating all the candy, and by nearly running out of enough frosting to hold the structure together.

    I didn’t think I would win anything, said Maddy, who won first place.

    In the older-than-12-years category, the powered lighthouse and coastal cottage by Ella Ashford, 15, were capped off with a Salish Sea Dragon, made of marzipan, which earned third place, while Edensaw Crew Sound Experience employees teamed up to re-create their workplace in sweets, placing second in the process.

    And in first place, the Kuzma family of Anora, 6, and Cabett, 3, were aided by their parents, Eric and Holly, in building a Merry Christmas-Go-Round, which played merry-go-round music with the turn of a key.

    We chipped away at it for a few days, said Eric Kuzma, who works for Jefferson County’s Public Works Department. We’re not tremendously experienced with gingerbread houses, but I have some experience with architecture, woodworking and building models.

    One challenge was the brittleness of the candy canes that the family used as poles for the merry-go-round. Even though the candy canes didn’t have to support the weight of the merry-go-round’s roof, many of them proved so brittle that they broke as soon as their plastic wrappings were removed.

    A couple of gremlins populated the merry-go-round scene, one riding a horse and another sitting on a bench. Their appearance serve as a running joke from the Kuzmas’ entry last year, when they’d built a gingerbread bridge.

    To make the bridge more like a gingerbread house, we gave it these little guys, because even trolls need a home, Eric Kuzma said. It was just a fun little family tradition, to give it continuity.

    The gingerbread creations remain on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday, Jan. 14.

    daily, digest, candy, cane

    Inspiring the Next Generation of Solar Power Enthusiasts at a Young Age

    While Whitney Houston famously told us that the children are our future, those advocating for a clean energy transition also contend that solar power is the future. Both are sage forecasts, and as such, educating children about solar power and its importance must not be overlooked– luckily, many avenues exist for these efforts.

    A major inspiration for many people fighting for a future filled with solar power is to leave our children a healthy planet, one with clean air and free from climate change. Such motivation is surely noble, but rather than simply leaving built up solar resources for the next generation, we must also teach children about the how and the why of solar energy. The science of solar power doesn’t have to be mysterious or intimidating to young people, rather many opportunities targeted specifically at children make it immensely simple to show (rather than tell) just how normal and beneficial solar energy is in the world of today and tomorrow.

    Let’s examine a few opportunities that have integrated solar power to capture the attention of the solar enthusiasts of tomorrow.

    Disney World Solar Installation

    Through a combination of great marketing and parental nostalgia, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has remained the premier vacation destination children (and Super Bowl MVPs) clamor to visit. The magic of Disney World has spanned generations, and the people working behind the scenes want to let that continue for future generations through their pledge to fight climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020.

    As a part of that pledge, in 2018 Disney World unveiled a 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar power array that could power two of their parks when operating at full utilization. The solar installation is located right outside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and, like many parts of Disney’s theme parks, it’s built in the shape of giant Mickey Mouse ears.

    Not only are the executives of Disney shrewd enough to recognize the financial benefits of installing solar generation, but they also know that their parks operate with a unique ability to shape the outlook of its young visitors. Disney World has long looked to fulfill Walt Disney’s vision to not only look forward to the future, but to play a part in building that futuristic world of tomorrow– as shown with Disney’s own desire to build the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). As this vision for the future evolves, solar power is a key aspect of any plan for the coming years. Most importantly, as with the rides and features of various parks that are meant to teach children about the importance of energy and conservation, this solar power installation is both practical and educational.

    You can just envision families driving up to Disney World and children seeing this playfully-shaped solar power installation, sparking their natural curiosity. By creating yet another opportunity for parents to have conversations with their children about what solar power is and why renewable energy is important, this type of solar installation might just inspire the imaginations of future solar engineers or prompt them to ask their parents whey they don’t have solar panels at home.

    Solar Panels on Gingerbread Houses

    The past decade has seen a relative explosion in the ubiquity of solar power on rooftops and on the power grid, and with it has come an unexpected correlative trend: the ‘installation’ of solar panels on gingerbread houses.

    During recent Christmas seasons, those looking to make rooftop solar a fun topic on children’s radars have recognized the ease of doing so using gingerbread houses. Kids inherently love the construction projects that bring together cookies, candy, and frosting, but such endeavors can also create teachable moments for parents and teachers surrounding solar power.

    A quick Google search will reveal plenty of examples of clean energy enthusiasts creating such gingerbread houses, with the trend even resulting in the annual Essex County Environmental Center’s Sustainable Homes and Habitats Gingerbread Contest. This fun competition brings together gingerbread house builders, young and old, by challenging them to include at least three identifiable sustainable building elements– with candy solar panels on the roof often being a key component on many entries.

    By creatively integrating solar PV on gingerbread houses– whether using chocolate, fruit bars, or even seaweed– children can again find opportunities to ask questions and learn about solar panels in a way that sometimes only happens with hands-on projects.

    Educational Videos about Solar

    Photo Source: Visual Rhetoric Blog

    One of the beautiful aspects of modern educational entertainment created for children is that, when done right, they may not even realize they’re learning. Integrating important topics into programming that children watch regularly is a time-honored strategy, and sustainability-related topics are no exception.

    Growing up, the educational shows I would clamor for in the classroom included the Magic School Bus, Captain Planet, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Luckily for me (and perhaps these played a small role in my current career in clean energy), each of these programs had episodes discussing solar energy. The ‘Getting Energized’ episode of the Magic School Bus saw the children use solar power to get out of a tricky situation, the ‘Isle of Solar Energy’ episode of Captain Planet touted that “we could build solar panels, hot water heaters, even solar cars…The more we shift to solar power, the healthier our planet will be,” and the Bill Nye (who today is a notable investor in solar companies) episode ‘Electricity’ taught that solar cells can change light into usable energy.

    But these shows are from my childhood, so I can already hear today’s children scoffing at the ancient TV tastes. The insatiable modern palettes of the youth of today for video content, though, can also find great solar edu-tainment:

    • Nova, on PBS, has a great introductory video for young people to learn about the science behind solar generation.
    • The Fixies is a YouTube series billed as one following “the comical misadventures of Tom Thomas and his secret friendship with Simka and Nolik, the chlidren of the Fixie [author note: think fairies pixies but with STEM skills] family that lives in his apartment. In one episode, they create a solar battery to solve their puzzle.
    • Ready Jet Go is a PBS Kids cartoon that sneakily teaches kids about science while entertaining them, including one episode where the gang races solar-powered cars.
    • Planet Bonehead is another YouTube cartoon series, with this one focusing entirely on current environmental issues and green technology that talks to kids and “empowers them to act now and make planet Earth a great place to live.” Many renewable energy topics of course come up, including an episode about solar batteries for kids and another episode called The Cannonball Run Race for Renewable Energy.

    These are just a few examples, with parents being able to research and find even more fun educational (and entertaining) videos that their kids will want to watch that will also teach them about solar power.

    Solar Powered Toys

    Photo Source: Fractus Learning

    Many companies manufacture toys with the goal of getting solar PV technology in kids’ hands, allowing for direct learning. The wide variety of solar-related toys parents can buy reflects the various interests and styles of learning children may have.

    Sometimes these toys take the form of more traditional science kits for children, which can be used in schools or at home. These kits tell kids up front they’re going to be learning science, which for the right child can be extremely exciting. For example, one science kit might include various knickknacks to be powered with a small solar cell to show the possibilities of harnessing energy from the sun, while others provide bigger tasks the solar cells can accomplish for inclusion in a science fair, such as solar-powered remote control cars or solar-powered robots.

    Other children, though, might resist such obvious attempts from educational toys to teach them. For these stubborn children, you can sneak in the learning on solar topics through toys they’ll want to play with that just happen to embrace solar PV principles. Take, for example, the OWI Solar Space Fleet— this solar-powered kit is disguised as cool spaces toys like a shuttle, space station, astronaut, space rover, and more. The science-resistant kid will just find these sci-fi looking toys fun to play with, not even registering that the ability of them to be powered by the sun is not only really cool but also educational.

    About the author: Matt Chester is an energy analyst in Washington DC, studied engineering and science technology policy at the University of Virginia, and operates the Chester Energy and Policy blog and website to share news, insights, and advice in the fields of energy policy, energy technology, and more. For more quick hits in addition to posts on this blog, follow him on @ChesterEnergy.

    Slices of Life

    Alec really wanted to try making his own gingerbread house this year without using a premade kit. We talked about how we never really eat the house since they don’t taste very good. Years ago we gave up on the frosting that comes in the kit and began making our own so we thought perhaps we should try making our our house too.

    Only problem is that no one in the house likes gingerbread. We talked about trying to make the house using a sugar cookie recipe. Alec was so excited at that idea since he just LOVES sugar cookies.

    He found a recipe online for a simple sugar cookie recipe and mixed up the dough.

    He rolled it out an cut it to the size of our cookie sheets we had read that it’s easiest to cut the house pieces out after the dough has been baked and is still warm and soft because then you don’t have to worry about any of the pieces losing their shape while baking.

    I had picked out a simple cookie cutter set on Amazon and as soon as the cookies came out of the oven we began pressing the cutters into them.

    The front, back, and two sides with Windows and doors cut into them.
    The roof pieces (the squares and pac-manish shaped pieces were for a chimney we didn’t use)

    We let the cookies sit at room temperature for about an hour and then stored them in an air tight container overnight.

    The next morning Alec mixed up some buttercream frosting (we don’t like royal icing even though that is what is normally used). He filled his piping bag and set to work.

    We like to have our candy easily accessible in little glass jars.

    While he worked on decorating his walls I decided to put together the kit I had bought. I always thought it looked like fun to decorate a gingerbread house but never had the change to really do one.

    We had read that it is supposed to be easier to decorate the house in flat pieces and then assemble so we decided to give that a try this year. Once we each had all our walls mostly done we let them dry and firm up a little before putting the houses together.

    I can’t say this was any easier than decorating a pre-assembled house but we both did add a few extra decorations after the houses were assembled. Alec is so proud of his house and how it came out and I just know all three boys can’t wait to start tearing pieces off of it to eat.

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    Комментарии и мнения владельцев

    This is SO impressive! I am in awe AND it looks delicious too- you and Alec always make the BEST things 🙂 Reply Delete

    Both of the houses are amazing!! Making a gingerbread house from scratch out of sugar cookies is impressive anyways, but making it look so amazing is even more impressive! I also love your decorating on the kit, it looks so good! Reply Delete

    Thanks; it’s not easy to get those walls to stand up straight! We almost had one whole wall cave in under the weight of the roof. Delete

    Those houses are stellar! Hats off to you guys! One of our local towns has a gingerbread decorating contest every year and I’ve always wanted to enter, but never had. This gives me some motivation to perhaps try next year. Reply Delete

    OK. this is awesome. This is the best way to do it because SUPER YUMMY. My friend made them one year with graham crackers. it was quite a mess, but they turned out cute we devoured them in the end anyways 🙂 Reply Delete

    That looks like so much fun and what a great job. Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas. Reply Delete

    Wow, Joanne, how fun! This is such a great idea and your gingerbread houses came out amazing! I wanted to make pop tart houses with the boys this year, but we got too caught up in cookie making that we ran out of time and I ran out of energy! Thanks for sharing and linking up. Merry Christmas to you all!

    I saw a few of those Pop-Tart houses floating around the internet; I thought they were a great idea! Delete

    This Gingerbread House is so special, great design! Hope you had a great Christmas and thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday,516. We hope to see you back here again soon!Miz Helen Reply Delete

    I really love the idea of a sugar cookie house! Both the cookie houses look like so much fun, and so delicious too! Thank you for sharing this wonderful inspiration at The Hearth and Soul Link Party. I’m featuring this post at the party this week Reply Delete

    Your houses turned out so awesome! Making sugar cookie dough and cutting it after baking is genius! I have a gingerbread house decorating party every year with my grands, but always buy the kits. I keep thinking I might have to step it up and try the real thing, next year it might just be your sugar cookie houses! Thanks Joanne!Jenna Reply Delete

    Awww Joanne your houses are too adorable!! I love seeing Alec doing his creativity and you, too. These are so cute. Happy New Year! Reply Delete

    Let’s Look At. Our Medicine Cabinet

    I join in with the ladies for Let’s Look At (the 2nd Wednesday of every month) so sporadically, but this year I am trying to be more intentional about joining in. This month we’re looking at our medicine cabinet. While we don’t have a traditional medicine cabinet I do have one large-ish closet in our master bathroom that I tend to keep pretty much everything in. I re-organized it back in 2020 when I was on a kick organizing the whole house. I use these clear bins and then made my own labels. The top shelf: The bin on the left holds my curling irons and heated styling tools that I rarely use. The bin on the right holds all our travel items and things The second shelf down: The bin on the left holds all our medicines and the bin on the right (which I didn’t bother to photograph) just holds q-tips and cotton balls. We typically keep cough drops, NyQuil capsules, Vicks shower tabs, Motrin, Sudafed, Vicks vapo-rub and a few at home Covid tests on hand. The next she

    Currently 10 0n the 10th in June

    On the first Wednesday of the month Jennifer hosts her currently series but I was busy with all my Acadia recaps earlier this week to get to it but I still wanted to answer the prompts! Tomorrow is also time for June’s 10 on the 10th with Marsha so I’m combining these two fun prompts into 1 post for my Friday Favorites this week. I am currently. loving Today is Alec’s last Friday at school! He just has a couple of days next week and then all my boys are officially on summer vacation. It’s going to be such a busy summer this year but I am looking so forward to sleeping in! doing I’ve been uploading and developing all the photos from the first half of the year and our trip to Acadia so I can begin scrapbooking again. Alec’s cake contest win from February Ian’s birthday in April our zoo trip in April trying To plan a bit more for our Shenandoah National Park trip- I like to have an idea of possible hikes, places to see, things to do in the area

    Books I Read in June

    I read so many great books this month! While I tried to keep my boys a bit eclectic I definitely tend to stuck to lighter, summery reads when it’s so nice and warm and sunny outside. 1. Inside Out by Demi Moore.- I read this book in less than a day! I have watched many of Demi’s movies, I knew that she had been married to Bruce Willis and had a few kids with him, and I knew she had been with Ashton but other than that I knew very little of her life. I loved the easy tone and straightfoward manner with which she wrote her autobiography and I enjoyed learning more about her life both the good and the bad. I also learned quite a bit of hollywood tidbits that I didn’t know before (mostly because I am awful with names and don’t follow much of anything having to do with famous people). 2. The Restaruant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan.- Lila and her husband Sam have recently moved to Philadelphia where he was offered a job as a restaruant critic. Det

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