Build That House

Mobwives' Renee Graziano, Jennifer Dalton, and Jennifer Aydin at the Jennifer by Delice launch party.

Mobwives’ Renee Graziano, Jennifer Dalton, and Jennifer Aydin at the Jennifer by Delice launch party.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of spending the evening with Jennifer Dalton, who you may remember from The Real Housewives of New Jersey season 5 and Pregnant In Heels season 2. Jennifer was celebrating the launch of her new fragrance and face and body bar line called Jennifer by Delice. Having attended several events together and sharing a close mutual friend, I’ve gotten to know Jennifer and was part of the group she arrived and left with.

Jennifer Dalton and I at the party.

Jennifer Dalton and I at the party.

Jennifer, like so many people I have met through my TBB blogging experience, is chasing her dreams. Like me, she is following a path, one that isn’t always easy or paved with definitive destinations. She’s on a journey, and though that journey may not be clear cut, the final destination is one of success, and self reliance, and she will get there. How do I know this? Because she’s not a quitter and she’s not one to just stand still and let the grass grow under her. She’s on the move, she’s setting goals, she’s leaving no stone unturned. As we close out 2014 and move into 2015, I want us all to embody those qualities that I see in Jennifer.

I’d like to share a little story with you. When I was a senior in high school I signed up to take a cooking class, I think it was a cooking class, though I don’t remember doing much cooking. The one thing I do remember, however, was our final project, which did indeed involve cooking. It was actually the main reason I signed up for the class. The fall semester students of this course got to design and create, from scratch, gingerbread houses for their final project. The houses then had the chance of being chosen for the holiday display at a popular inn north of New York City.

I had seen a Mexican Adobe Villa with sugar wafered patios and Twizzler Spanish tile roofing in a magazine and immediately knew this was the house my group had to make. My gut told me that choosing such a unique design that wasn’t typical for gingerbread houses would give us a leg up when it came to winning a spot in the display. If memory serves I got the the 3 other people in my group to agree to this. I can be pretty annoying  convincing when I have an agenda.

Making a gingerbread house from scratch is not easy, in fact I remember it being a complete and total pain in the ass. The gingerbread has to be cooked precisely, cooled to a certain hardness, angled a certain way. Any missteps and it literally all falls apart. There are strategically placed cans involved in getting walls to stand up and long drawn out minutes of holding the roof “just-so” until the icing sets enough so that you can let go.

After several days of fiddling with the gingerbread, repairing cracking pieces, scrapping parts to have to bake new ones again, our house was finally standing. We were excited to begin the decorating process, with just a couple of days left until the deadline. The morning of decorating day we walked in to find our house in ruins, the victim of some imaginary candied natural disaster. There sat our house in a heap of creamy frosting coated crumbly chaos. Our teacher could see the devastation in our eyes. “It’s ok,” she said, “I know how hard you all worked. You’ll get the A.”

That A, however, wasn’t good enough, at least not for me. “Can we start again?” I blurted out, while the eyes of the others, happy to be off the hook, shot imaginary daggers at my skull. “Well, there’s not much time, and it’s really not necessary. If you all want to then I suppose so, but you won’t be ready in time for the contest. Discuss it.”

There was no discussion, I was outnumbered. Nobody else in my group wanted to start again. They were satisfied to have tried, they were content with never touching gingerbread dough ever again. I went to my teacher and told her my dilemma. “It’s ok,”she said, “you don’t have to do this. Like I said, your grade is fine.” I explained to her it had nothing to do with a grade, it ran deeper. I had signed up for her course to make a gingerbread house and even if I had to sleep in the classroom I was going to make one. She tried to talk me out of it, she pointed out that if as a group it was a challenge, then surely on my own it would be a ridiculously daunting task. “Let me try,” I asked, “I want to be part of that contest.”

And so I persevered, working all alone with molasses and sugar while everybody else in that studio worked in groups of 3 or 4. For the last couple of days whenever I could get to that classroom I worked on that Mexican Adobe Villa like my life depended on it. Not only did I finish in time for the contest, I won!

Unfortunately I think I lost the only photo I had of that house, or maybe it’s buried in a box at my mom’s somewhere. However, I keep a mental picture of that house, and anytime a task feels too daunting, a dream too impossible, or somebody tells me “you can’t”, I flip to that mental picture and tell myself I can.

As we move into the new year I want each and every one of you to decide what your “gingerbread house” is and go for it. Never let anybody tell you, you can’t. If you want something so bad that you can taste it, you can make it happen.

Have a blessed holiday! We will be back with more TBB in January! See you next year!


Regards and Hugs,

Tara (The Bravo Blonde)