Gummy bears are scattered across a table dotted with spots of white icing. Sixth-graders boast green-toothed grins between bites of graham crackers and sprinkles.
"The best part is the eating," Kadi Scott said.
Such was the scene Thursday as Scott's second period classmates worked to finish the gingerbread houses they were creating as part of art class. The assignment was meant to teach students about architecture. But Keith Scott said he also learned that graham crackers slathered with icing and topped with sprinkles are his new favorite snack.
With the holidays approaching, residents are busy creating miniature, edible homes and baking treats to share with friends and family.
Stacy Timmer has been busy organizing a cookie exchange and building the winning gingerbread house in this year's Downtown Business Association contest.
She held the cookie exchange Monday evening. The women who attended the exchange each brought cookies, sampled treats made by others and voted on the best ones. Timmer also won that contest.
"My mom did a lot of baking, especially around the holidays," she said. "I guess it reminds me of me and my mom growing up."
She said she hopes to pass down her love of baking to her two daughters.
"Even if they don't like it, I want them to know how to," Timmer said.
Her daughters like to climb up on the counter and watch their mom as she attaches sticks of Big Red gum, or shingles, to the roof and sprinkles coconut, meant to resemble snow, on her gingerbread house.
Timmer said she spent about 14 hours constructing the house, which was her second attempt to build one. Her reward was a $30 gift certificate to The Kitchen Shop. Owner Nadine Daszkiewicz said Timmer immediately spent the gift certificate on more holiday goodies.
For the sixth-graders, the reward is a good grade for a solid structure and beautifully decorated project.
But the best part is yet to come -- eating the house once they're allowed to take it home.
"Mine won't even make it to the car," Kadi Scott said.
For anyone wanting to learn decorating techniques, Safeway is offering a class that's free with the purchase of one of the store's pre-made gingerbread houses.
"Then we supply everything you need to decorate with," bakery clerk Sarah Castor said.
The class is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Safeway bakery, 1295 Victory Way. Call Safeway at 824-9496.
Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or firstname.lastname@example.org.