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Heritage
Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #45

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For me, heritage is complicated!  It’s about the stories we tell, the food we share and the items we pass down.  More often than not, all of these things are intertwined.    I had envisioned a more elaborate depiction but the usual hurdles of time, energy and ability to focus posed challenges.  Nonetheless, I at least completed something.

The woman in my diorama is wearing a bunad, which is the national dress of Norway. (My father was Norwegian.)  Bunads vary from region to region but this one is similar to the one I had as a child.  It is commonly worn on the Norwegian Independence Day.  The costume is not normally worn with a flower crown but I put one on her because it is commonly worn by Swedes when celebrating Midsummer.   Though my father was slow to admit it, he was actually half Swedish (his mother).

The woman is baking, which is where my mother comes in. She was Lebanese. (That makes me a “Lebawegian”.) She was as American as they come but often made middle eastern food.  One of my favorites is a pastry called sambusak. It contains walnuts, orange blossom water and an ingredient called mahleb, which is made from ground cherry pits.  That specific ingredient is the special sauce to the pasty.  I make sambusak at Christmas but I have also been trying to incorporate mahleb and orange blossom into my sugar cookies.  I haven’t locked down the exact amounts yet but I’m close!

On the kitchen table, I have included a cornucopia to symbolize American abundance and Thanksgiving.  My mother fully embraced the spirit of Thanksgiving.  Food was plentiful and there was always a seat at the table for anyone who wanted or needed a plate.  This is a part of my heritage that I have gladly continued.

Included in the diorama is a sideboard/hutch and a clock.  The hutch displays various heirlooms that have been handed down and tell stories about our family.  Both of my parents were veterans so we learned early to honor the flag. My mother had a statue of the smiling Buddha, that she acquired while stationed in Japan, and I never passed it without rubbing its belly for luck. We celebrated birthdays with angel food cake, with a Barbie doll inserted in the center. When my sisters and I got together to divide up our parents’ belongings, we found the Barbie doll.  She had survived years of cakes and countless candles – her hair was singed to the point of resembling a haphazard pixie cut.  But, the story she told was just as important to our history as anything of traditional value.

The clock is a replica of a clock that originally belonged to my great grandfather.  He was a well-respected citizen and gifted it by the community in 1941. It includes a plaque inscribed with the names of those who presented it.  It also symbolizes a moment in Norwegian history. Some of the individuals listed were part of the Norwegian resistance, some were Quislings and others were killed by occupying forces.   The clock and its story survived WWII, a trip across the ocean and a transport to California where it now resides with my sister.

As I said at the start, heritage is complicated!  Particularly for Americans.  We are a nation of immigrants. There are parts of the country with specific heritage (Southern, Western, etc.) but for those of us who have been constantly on the move, heritage is personal.  In my case, it’s family, food and the stories we share.

Technically - all the cookies are made from gingerbread.  Some have royal icing transfers, fondant and modeling chocolate toppers.  The gingerbread has been airbrushed various shades.  Edible marker has been used in spots.  Royal icing has been used everywhere.

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Dear Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your rich legacy with us. Your description is so vivid that I literally felt as if we were sitting at a table listening to you. I loved learning from you and your lovely parents and Grandparents.

Each piece in the setting is so full of colours, textures and details. Really gorgeous. Congratulations!♥️

I knew this challenge was going to be very special, dear Christine. Thank you so, so much!♥️

Wow! Such an incredible story of your heritage, and so perfectly illustrated with your cookies! I'm not sure what you had envisioned but this seems pretty elaborate to me. Looks like you even "tiled" the floor. Did you find any part of this project to be more challenging than the rest?

Thank you Christine.  I wanted to do walls that displayed photos and relevant artwork.  I also wanted to do a lot more details, including the floor.  I did emboss the gingerbread to create a tile but I wanted to put a finish on it that would seamlessly connect the two pieces and make it pop.  Time was definitely not my friend!

This was definitely a "challenge" for me on many levels.  First, the idea.  I wasn't sure what or how much to highlight. This led to the second challenge of editing.  I was originally focused on so many individual components for the shelves- all of which would have required a lengthy explanation to anyone who wasn't in my family!  Then I had all sorts of problems with my gingerbread.  I don't know if it was because we have had a lot of rain or if I made a mistake but the pieces kept softening and distorting.  I had to put pieces back in the oven to dry out several times. And reglue. And reglue. I'm usually quite good with construction stability so that was a challenge I didn't anticipate.

The top half of the woman is made out of gumpaste.  Her arms originally were as well but they looked too hefty.  So, I had to break them off and replace with modeling chocolate.  Her face was the biggest challenge.  I have previously only done cartoonish gumpaste figures and this was my first attempt at doing something more traditional.  I definitely have a long way to go in terms of sculpting. I also used modeling chocolate which is still pretty new to me. 

I almost gave up a number of times and then decided to focus on editing. I learned an awful lot about different techniques, which was very enjoyable.  My sisters were able to identify all of the random items I did have on display, which made me feel as though I did a decent job of representing our story. 

@LisaF posted:

Thank you so much Julia @Julia M. Usher.  I will say, it was a challenge trying to figure out how to cookiefy things!  I struggled with the face of the woman - its made out of modeling chocolate and I don't have a lot of experience in sculpting facial features.  She originally looked a lot like a Neanderthal. I showed it to one of my sisters and she said - "Oh, so you're going back THAT far in our heritage!"😂

LOL - Leave it to sisters to be "supportive" in their own special way!

Wow, I just got to know you a whole lot better! Thanks for sharing all of these personal details in such a delightful vignette! I couldn't agree more with: " . . . but for those of us who have been constantly on the move, heritage is personal." So, so true!

Thank you so much Julia @Julia M. Usher.  I will say, it was a challenge trying to figure out how to cookiefy things!  I struggled with the face of the woman - its made out of modeling chocolate and I don't have a lot of experience in sculpting facial features.  She originally looked a lot like a Neanderthal. I showed it to one of my sisters and she said - "Oh, so you're going back THAT far in our heritage!"😂

What a cookie and a what a wonderful story dear Lisa @LisaF. As you say heritage is complex and there are many elements to us immigrants. What a rich heritage you have, certainly to be proud of, certainly to cherish. I love Middle Eastern pastries and like the fragrance of rose water and the variety of nuts they use. Great job.

Wow, I just got to know you a whole lot better! Thanks for sharing all of these personal details in such a delightful vignette! I couldn't agree more with: " . . . but for those of us who have been constantly on the move, heritage is personal." So, so true!

You have shared so much of you with these cookies, so very interesting. It was like walking in the cookie scene. I can see all the hard work you have put in every single details. Thank for sharing .

Last edited by Manu

@LisaF Wow! You definitely did put a lot of work into this. It's good that you didn't give up. And I would agree that if your sisters were able to identify all of the items on display, then you did a wonderful job of representing your story.

Thank you again Christine.  Although one of my sisters refuses to acknowledge cookiefy as a real word, so her opinion matters less.😂

@LisaF posted:

Thank you Christine.  I wanted to do walls that displayed photos and relevant artwork.  I also wanted to do a lot more details, including the floor.  I did emboss the gingerbread to create a tile but I wanted to put a finish on it that would seamlessly connect the two pieces and make it pop.  Time was definitely not my friend!

This was definitely a "challenge" for me on many levels.  First, the idea.  I wasn't sure what or how much to highlight. This led to the second challenge of editing.  I was originally focused on so many individual components for the shelves- all of which would have required a lengthy explanation to anyone who wasn't in my family!  Then I had all sorts of problems with my gingerbread.  I don't know if it was because we have had a lot of rain or if I made a mistake but the pieces kept softening and distorting.  I had to put pieces back in the oven to dry out several times. And reglue. And reglue. I'm usually quite good with construction stability so that was a challenge I didn't anticipate.

The top half of the woman is made out of gumpaste.  Her arms originally were as well but they looked too hefty.  So, I had to break them off and replace with modeling chocolate.  Her face was the biggest challenge.  I have previously only done cartoonish gumpaste figures and this was my first attempt at doing something more traditional.  I definitely have a long way to go in terms of sculpting. I also used modeling chocolate which is still pretty new to me.

I almost gave up a number of times and then decided to focus on editing. I learned an awful lot about different techniques, which was very enjoyable.  My sisters were able to identify all of the random items I did have on display, which made me feel as though I did a decent job of representing our story.

@LisaF Wow! You definitely did put a lot of work into this. It's good that you didn't give up. And I would agree that if your sisters were able to identify all of the items on display, then you did a wonderful job of representing your story.

Last edited by Sweet Prodigy

Wow Lisa @LisaF! Thank you so much for sharing your heritage in all this detail. Totally fascinating...I also am of Norweigian descent and just learned a whole lot about their culture. Thank you! You went all out on this challenge Lisa and it's absolutely wonderful work ❤️. I also had wanted to contribute something to the challenge but ran out of time! Ugh...that happens to me far too often.

What a wonderful story about the Barbie doll . That certainly seems like a family tradition just by itself. Too fun. Thank you again dear Lisa for sharing your diorama. It's awesome ❤️❤️❤️ Hugs...

Thank you dear Carol.  I definitely know more about the Norwegian part of my heritage because we visited often and lived there for a spell (my father was stationed there a couple of times because of his heritage and language skills).
I'm sure like everyone, I have countless stories like the Barbie doll.  From time to time my sisters and I will recall something we haven't thought of in awhile and it makes us smile.  ❤️😘

Wow Lisa @LisaF! Thank you so much for sharing your heritage in all this detail. Totally fascinating...I also am of Norweigian descent and just learned a whole lot about their culture. Thank you! You went all out on this challenge Lisa and it's absolutely wonderful work ❤️. I also had wanted to contribute something to the challenge but ran out of time! Ugh...that happens to me far too often.

What a wonderful story about the Barbie doll . That certainly seems like a family tradition just by itself. Too fun. Thank you again dear Lisa for sharing your diorama. It's awesome ❤️❤️❤️ Hugs...

Wow! Such an incredible story of your heritage, and so perfectly illustrated with your cookies! I'm not sure what you had envisioned but this seems pretty elaborate to me. Looks like you even "tiled" the floor. Did you find any part of this project to be more challenging than the rest?

WOW!!!! Lisa, that is a absolutely great work of art and such a beautiful Heritage !!!!
I enjoyed every word of your interesting story about it !! Thank you and Congratulation for sharing this masterwork Lisa!!! I love every part of your artwork! The grandfather clock reminds me of my grandparents' clock. Really great dear friend Lisa!! @LisaF ❤️

Thank you so much for your kind words Gabi.  I love that our families both have grandfather clocks that actually belonged to grandfathers!😂❤️😘

Wow, so much stories behind this cookie set!  Very interesting.  The more I learn, the more I think I don't know any.  

Thank you Ryoko.  We definitely had exposure to Japanese culture when I grew up.  My mother was with the medical corp in the Air Force and was stationed in Japan in the fifties.  She shared stories with us and I have some lovely Japanese art work now hanging on my walls. 😘❤️

Dear Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your rich legacy with us. Your description is so vivid that I literally felt as if we were sitting at a table listening to you. I loved learning from you and your lovely parents and Grandparents.

Each piece in the setting is so full of colours, textures and details. Really gorgeous. Congratulations!♥️

I knew this challenge was going to be very special, dear Christine. Thank you so, so much!♥️

Thank you dear Heather.  I think we all have so many stories to tell.  The hardest part is picking and choosing! ❤️😘

WOW!!!! Lisa, that is a absolutely great work of art and such a beautiful Heritage !!!!
I enjoyed every word of your interesting story about it !! Thank you and Congratulation for sharing this masterwork Lisa!!! I love every part of your artwork! The grandfather clock reminds me of my grandparents' clock. Really great dear friend Lisa!! @LisaF ❤️

@Manu posted:

You have shared so much of you with these cookies, so very interesting. It was like walking in the cookie scene. I can see all the hard work you have put in every single details. Thank for sharing .

Thank you so much for your kind words Manu.❤️

@Zeena posted:

What a cookie and a what a wonderful story dear Lisa @LisaF. As you say heritage is complex and there are many elements to us immigrants. What a rich heritage you have, certainly to be proud of, certainly to cherish. I love Middle Eastern pastries and like the fragrance of rose water and the variety of nuts they use. Great job.

Thank you dear Zeena.  All of our immigrant stories are so rich.  And  food is culture.  I lived in Manhattan for quite a long time and one of things I missed the most is being able to walk around the city and soak in all of the sights, sounds and smells of so many different cultures.❤️

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