25 Dec2009


The inspiration for this year’s gingerbread creation is a relatively small but fabulous gothic style chapel in the middle of New England in winter time… The Teen may be 14 going on 24, but she made a special request that we make yet another of these annual gingerbread extravaganzas (I keep thinking the previous year will be the last!), so here it is!


The relative size and proportions of the original are applied to most of the gingerbread version, but some of the details have been changed to make it more executable in a baked medium… The roofs are dyed with black food coloring, and were meant to mirror the slate grey of the original chapel, but they turned out a tad too dark. The gingerbread walls were dyed with red food coloring to mirror the muddy brick exterior of the original church.


The nearly 3 foot long chapel is set on a spacious bed of “snow” and the background is painted black to mirror the same dark conditions in New England at this time of year. There is a string of fairy lights imbedded into the styrofoam to simulate the stars. Hundreds of little syrofoam balls were each individually glued to the backdrop to simulated snowfall. They also provide texture and shadows when viewed in person…


Set on a large table between two fresh Christmas trees decorated with just some white lights, the table would later be completely filled with candy and cookies of all sorts, some 20-30 pounds worth, for all the kids of crew, friends, relatives etc. who would be visiting over the holidays and who would get to pick just about anything they liked from the sugar overloaded display! I suppose it is meant to approximate the reality of a “kid in a candy store”… It is such an incredible joy to watch young kids come up to the gingerbread chapel, stare for seconds, then eyes darting between the candy, the little figures, the lights, etc.


For me, the special time to view the chapel is in the early morning, just as the sun begins to rise, because it casts it’s clear light right onto the roof of the chapel and the “snow” encrusted branches of the trees with no leaves. I made these trees by searching for branches in the yard with the right shape and drying them out to simulate the trees near the real chapel.


There are functioning lamp posts in front of the chapel, park benches, “stained glass” windows, and a hill behind the church for sledders and those on toboggans. The stained glass is made of acetate overhead sheets with cellophane bits glued between them. In drier locales, you can make these by melting life savers in the oven, and they really look like stained glass, but in the Philippines, the candy windows would liquify in a few hours.


The little figurines we have collected over the years, and use the ones appropriate to that year’s theme. Here a dog with a wreath is a tribute to our own pet dog who is such a joy to have around…


This guy looks as if he is walking down a hill, all bundled up to ward off the nasty chill…


We decided to make this gingerbread chapel without any candy stuck to it at all. It just seemed more appropriate. The theme was a bit somber and more serious, but very much in step with the recent times… But don’t get me wrong, the Marketman household is ALWAYS filled with sugar at this time of year, so nearly every surrounding space on the table held hundreds if not thousands of sweets!


And just because you are on church grounds doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun in the snow, here a couple of kids sledding down a snowy hill…


…parking their sleds by the church doors before going in to hear Christmas mass. It has been a very interesting year for us in the Marketman & Family household. We are grateful for all the wonderful things that have occurred in the past year, and hopeful that we are able to make even a small positive difference in the lives of others. We too have had our highs and lows, ups and downs, but have been incredibly fortunate overall. If you have been reading this blog for several years, you know that our annual gingerbread creation is really more than just flour, sugar, spices and lard… It is a tradition that binds our small family together, that heralds a season we all love so dearly, and which is ingrained in our memory banks for as long as we shall live. Sometimes, in the early, early morning when I rise at 4:30 or 5:00 am and it’s still pitch dark outside and nothing in the house is stirring (hopefully not even rodents), I head to the little chapel, turn on all the Christmas lights on the trees nearby, pull up a chair and just stare at it for a few minutes and think of good things… The combined smell of the fresh pine trees, the spices of the gingerbread and the sweetness of all that icing is just simply wonderful. This year, every single member of our household played a part in creating this gingerbread creation, and they are all part of the gingerbread family.

Thank you so much for visiting the blog and being a part of the Marketmanila family. From our home to yours, we wish you only the best, and of course, a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!



  1. bagito says:

    Wow, it’s beautiful and I love the way it inspires your dawn reflections (muni-muni). Love all the details you thoughtfully included, esp. the doggie. :-)
    Anyway, a very Merry Christmas, MM, Mrs. MM, The Teen and crew! I wish you all the very best life has to offer in 2010 and beyond. Happy Holidays also to all fellow Marketmanila readers, fans and lurkers!
    (Oh and a special shoutout to betty q.!)

    Dec 25, 2009 | 3:50 pm


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  3. Marilou See says:

    Wow….A Blessed Christmas to you MM and to your family. No words can describe the gingerbread house…a big thumbs up to you and to your teen. Enjoy the holidays.

    Dec 25, 2009 | 3:59 pm

  4. lojet says:

    Merry Christmas MM, Mrs. MM and the Teen and to all your extended family including these here at MarketManila.com. Mabuhay!

    Love your gingerbread chapel and all your gingerbread creations thru the years.

    Dec 25, 2009 | 5:11 pm

  5. Mom-Friday says:

    Merry Christmas MM! this “project” is sooo amazing! My son would absolutely love the looking at those details…
    On the side, your scallops on a half shell inspired me to serve a batch last night, plus lechon sana, but no lechon since our regular supplier ran out of pigs…and your Zubuchon came to mind (sigh)…wishful thinking na lang ako :D

    Dec 25, 2009 | 5:12 pm

  6. MarieV says:

    very nicely done..it’s beautiful actually…been an marketman fan for a couple of years now and have just read through each time…this time I had to say it and be heard, MM you have always inspired me in my small quest to learn and be a good cook at that..thanks for a very inspiring blog site. keep on..will always be a fan…Merry Christmas to you and your family…have a blessed 2010 as well!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 6:09 pm

  7. millet says:

    wow, that is a MAJOR gingerbread project! life is full of blessings indeed!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 7:05 pm

  8. kevin navia says:

    This gingerbread creation is awesome. I love small details that makes the chapel pop.

    Happy Holidays!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 7:05 pm

  9. Eileen says:

    Merry Christmas, MM! This is so nice (just like all your other gingerbread works in the past). I’m just curious… How long does it normally take you (and your family) to finish doing something like this? It’s such a cool tradition! :)

    Dec 25, 2009 | 7:41 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    Eileen, this was a fairly major project. The frame took maybe 6-8 total manhours, including painting and lights/snow. The pattern making, dough mixing, prepping and baking probably took 5-6 hours, for several people. The assembly was pretty quick, say 2 hours total for 2-3 people. Overall in FTE (full-time equivalent) personnel it was probably some 5 working days at least… :) And while I have done this on my own before, today I rely heavily on my crew for many of the tasks.

    Dec 25, 2009 | 8:01 pm

  11. Jaja says:

    So nice!!! Merry christmas MM and family!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 8:17 pm

  12. anne says:

    merry christmas to you and your family MM!!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 8:22 pm

  13. mardie c",) says:

    its so beautiful! i love the boys sledding down the hill, it reflects the fun times you can do on a snowy winter. Merry Christmas to you, your family, your crew and to all the readers here in your fabulous blogsite.

    Dec 25, 2009 | 8:34 pm

  14. bluestars says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family! :) Awesome gingerbread chapel by the way!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 8:39 pm

  15. moni says:

    Great gingerbread chapel. Merry Christmas to you MM, Mrs. MM and the Teen and the crew. May you have more blessings in the New Year.

    Dec 25, 2009 | 9:03 pm

  16. chinky says:

    Beautiful!!! Merry Christmas!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 9:25 pm

  17. lookie says:


    Dec 25, 2009 | 9:28 pm

  18. rhea says:

    well done, as always MM! Happy Holidays to you and your family, and to everyone else, wherever they may be!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 10:25 pm

  19. shasha says:

    merry christmas to the whole MM family!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 10:43 pm

  20. jaygirl says:

    Lovely MM. Merry Christmas!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 11:26 pm

  21. Paul says:

    all the best to you and your family MM. Merry Christmas!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 11:28 pm

  22. kit says:

    Merry Christmas to you MM and to your whole family and crew. God Bless!

    Dec 25, 2009 | 11:38 pm

  23. marilen says:

    Exquisite!! the lovely little details, much thought went into it. MM, you always manage to set the bar higher in all that you do. A blessed Christmas and happy new year to all from the rainy Midwest.

    Dec 25, 2009 | 11:56 pm

  24. lei says:

    a very merry christmas to MM, Mrs MM, Teen, To Sister & her Family too, the crew & to the Dog! it is such a joy to share the holidays with people you love and your readers love you MM for all the generosity and inspiration you have continuosly given.
    Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!!!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 12:15 am

  25. Avic says:

    Merry Christmas, MM and family. THANK YOU for this blog and all the wonderful things that you continue to share with us. From the time that I started reading your blog, I have always looked forward to your Christmas posts. I enjoyed each of them and I look forward to many more posts from you. Thank you!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 1:00 am

  26. presentacion says:

    Nicely done MM, Family and Crew. You made me experience your Christmas. Thank you for sharing.

    Dec 26, 2009 | 1:04 am

  27. rowena ganut lyle says:

    Merry Christmas and have a prosperous New Year, MM and whole family and to all it’s readers. Thanks for the interesting blog and information sharing with the rest of us. May God multiply his blessings and peace for all of us.

    Rowena, Sam, Jet and Kita

    Dec 26, 2009 | 1:14 am

  28. betty q. says:

    Nicely done, MM! …maybe another business venture down the road for the crew?

    Dec 26, 2009 | 1:19 am

  29. atbnorge says:

    Ang ganda, MM!!!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 1:58 am

  30. juli says:

    WOW!! What a creation. Very detailed and with lots of props too. I’d like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. I’ve been a follower of your blog since I was in Hong Kong. Now I’m serving my first Christmas dinner in very snowy Minneapolis. Thanks for the Celeriac with prawns salad MM. This is my first dish for dinner. Also serving Litsong Kawali and Bibingkang latik. This is my second Christmas making Bibingkang latik.

    Blessings and good health to all in the coming year.

    Dec 26, 2009 | 2:20 am

  31. natie says:

    Wow!! the much awaited gingerbread creation!! so pretty, with all the attention to details..happy Holidays to all, near and far!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 2:24 am

  32. kurzhaar says:

    Impressive, MM! My gingerbread creations were much smaller (and I haven’t attempted one in years…no time) and they never stood around for all that long before bits of roof and wall got eaten. We did melted candy windows, which would get broken into eatable bits as well.

    Liked the snowshoer and dog figures…we and friends spent a couple of hours in the afternoon of Christmas eve in boots or snowshoes and exercising the various dogs in the woods. The snow was great, still pretty fluffy and very deep in some drifts. Great fun to throw snowballs for the dogs and to watch them rolling in the snow and getting up all frosted white!

    Christmas Day dinner awaits with friends (we are bringing the wine, an assortment of reds including a much anticipated Hospices de Beaune grand cru and a couple of “cult” California pinot noirs.

    Happy Holidays to all!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 3:22 am

  33. Tonito says:

    Why can’t we have Christmas 365 days a year?

    Dec 26, 2009 | 4:32 am

  34. marcial bonifacio says:

    very well said MM, Maligayang Pasko po! and a Blessed New Year to All!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 5:20 am

  35. connieC says:

    We all have our ways of getting into the christmas spirit and sharing its joys. Some are luckier than others. While visiting my hometown in Mindoro, we took a drive to a barangay at the other end of town on a short “convoy” of two vehicles filled with relatives, friends and house help past what seemed to be two km of impressive christmas light displays along the main street ( really one main highway) in various colors and outlines of trees, humble dwellings of nipa houses, big stars with center pinwheels, and one special display, a large calesa drawn by a carabao, perhaps the humble equivalent of MM’s elegant church gingerbread creation but sharing the holiday joy and spirit as well.

    Judging from the looks, the connections appear to be with the main electrical lines. In the spirit of the holiday season, I dare not think it a politicking project of an imaginative barangay captain whose project it is for his reelection campaign but done in the same true Christmas spirit that MM shares his with all of us thru his blog, feeding program, etc.

    On this note, my wishes for a happy Holiday season and better days in the New Year to MM and family, his staff and all of us…. and a special one for bettyQ as well.

    Dec 26, 2009 | 7:30 am

  36. Hershey says:

    Merry Xmas! :D

    Dec 26, 2009 | 9:02 am

  37. s says:

    awww. . . super nice MM. :) happy christmas to you & to your family.

    Dec 26, 2009 | 12:37 pm

  38. Lee says:

    The war happens in the far trenches outside the wire but the battles happen in the nooks and crannies of the minds, hearts and souls of the ones far away from home. There are no vests to repel loneliness and longing, no guns powerful enough to shoot boredom…. and no meals-ready-to-eat packages with kadyos, baboy and langka infused with batwan.

    Merry Christmas from faraway land!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 1:56 pm

  39. joan says:

    Belated Merry Christmas and Advance happy New Year MM! I have been a reader and follower of you blog and it has inspired me in many ways. This is my first time to post a comment and I wanted to let you know the effort you put in your blog is well appreciated. I read your blog everyday and go through the archives as well.

    Keep it up, MM, well wishes to fellow readers, to Mrs. MM and The Kid :)

    Dec 26, 2009 | 2:48 pm

  40. nina says:

    Merry Christmas, MM, Mrs. MM and the Teen! The gingerbread house is amazing. I hope I am creative enough to make something like this. I also hope that when I already have a kid, he/she’ll grew up with our own Christmas Family traditions.

    On another note, I play cafe world and it takes five days to cook/bake ginger-bread house. Now it make sense!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 6:16 pm

  41. nina says:

    MM, I have trouble viewing the first photo of your posts. I wonder if it is my browser? I use internet explorer 6.0 for my Offfice laptop and Safari for my personal laptop.

    Dec 26, 2009 | 6:18 pm

  42. Marketfan says:

    aawww…a senti post and a senti comment from lee…enough to make one cry

    MM, I don’t think this is going to be the last year for the gingerbread tradition in your house. I wonder how a nipa hut version of this project would look like. No snow and no stained glass windows but you’ll have to do some miniature parols. ha ha consider this a challenge.

    Sana’y naging maligaya ang inyong Pasko. Manigong Bagong Taon!

    Dec 26, 2009 | 9:24 pm

  43. izang says:

    you are truly an inspiration MM…with such a giving and generous heart, you will certainly be blessed….

    a happy christmas and a prosperous new year to everyone…

    Dec 27, 2009 | 12:09 am

  44. Mari says:

    Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon sa inyong lahat!!! Napakaganda naman ng inyong gingerbread house! What a feat to have done this creation…as always, you keep us in awe with all your blogs of food creations, photos, and ideas…more power to all of you.

    Dec 27, 2009 | 1:50 am

  45. Ariel says:

    Very creative.

    Dec 27, 2009 | 1:54 am

  46. Vicky Go says:

    Well done, MM & family & crew! May you all live long & prosper!

    Dec 27, 2009 | 4:25 am

  47. Cecilia says:

    Such a beautiful creation, MM! Like you, I love to stare and reflect on creations such as this … A fabulous New Year to you, your family and the crew!!!

    Dec 27, 2009 | 12:59 pm

  48. mrs lavendula says:

    what a beautiful creation!

    Dec 27, 2009 | 1:48 pm

  49. Maricel says:

    Beautiful as always. MARY CHRISTmas MM, Mrs. MM, The Teen, the MM Crew and the MarketManila Family!

    Dec 27, 2009 | 1:56 pm

  50. Maricar says:

    merry christmas MM,Mrs.MM,the teen,MM crew and to all of you……

    Dec 27, 2009 | 7:31 pm

  51. Tonito says:

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

    Dec 27, 2009 | 9:54 pm

  52. tintin says:

    Happy Holidays MM, family and crew, and to all readers around the globe! it was really nice looking at the gingerbread chapel, so serene and really stirs up happy holiday feelings. Wishing everyone all the best year 2010 and beyond has to offer.

    Dec 28, 2009 | 8:45 am

  53. Ley says:

    Beautiful creation MM. Is Lee now abroad? I feel the emotion in his comment. I hope his wife is with him.

    Dec 28, 2009 | 10:18 am

  54. jules winnfield says:

    merry christmas to everyone!!!!!!!!!!

    Dec 28, 2009 | 11:50 am

  55. emsy says:

    happy holidays everyone! everyone seems to be in the holiday lull…looking forward to more holiday posts MM!

    Dec 28, 2009 | 1:52 pm

  56. Mini says:

    Hi MM! The gingerbread creation is amazing. Congratulations for coming up with such a breathtaking piece of work. Wishing you, your family and crew the abundance of God’s blessings and may your team inspire more people by your example.
    Happy New Year!

    Dec 28, 2009 | 3:45 pm

  57. Pam says:

    Merry Christmas, MM! I love how you keep your family together. Such a rare and wonderful family you have.

    Dec 28, 2009 | 3:47 pm

  58. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Through the years,I look forward to your gingerbread creations…the details are wonderful MM.!!!! Thanks for sharing all these with all of us…..I feel like one of your family when you show this to us………a blessed 2010…and we wish you,Ms MM and the Teen the best for 2010………Cheers!!!!!

    Dec 29, 2009 | 7:36 am

  59. joan says:

    Wishing you and your family and all the readresa really good new 2010. We’re thinking of you too, Lee, and wishing you’ll be back home soon, having a great meal of zubuchon and puso!

    Dec 29, 2009 | 10:52 am

  60. joan says:

    Wishing you, your family and all the readers a GREAT 2010. We’re thinking of you too, Lee, and wishing you’ll come home soon to a meal of zubuchon and puso! Thanks MM, for your legendary GENEROSITY.

    Dec 29, 2009 | 10:56 am

  61. Daisy says:

    Merry Christmas MM and family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts they are inspiring indeed… makes one value more the things that really matter are those very close to our hearts and free for everyone to experience. I long for moments just to stare and think of good things.. I can almost smell the gingerbread chapel and the sweets :) thank you for bringing us into your most intimate thoughts of the season! God bless!

    Dec 29, 2009 | 4:15 pm

  62. Skunkeye says:

    They rebroadcast your Anthony Bourdain ep in the US last night – first time seeing on big screen, very impressive. I really appreciated your insight on why Filipino cuisine hasn’t been picked up so much in the US. I think between this episode and the growing visibility of your wondersul site, this might change. Meanwhile, I made filipino breakfast for my family at the beach house in the Outer Banks, NC, yesterday and we were reminscing how we were always in Baguio this time of year for many holiday seasons – I miss the philippines very much and your site keep me connected to home.
    Have a wonderful New Year and thank you for your heartfelt, informative, and amazing work!

    Dec 29, 2009 | 9:33 pm

  63. thelma says:

    skunkeye, i was able to see the whole anthony bourdain episode last night. being
    from pampanga, i was craving for sisig, pansit luglug and other food that tony bourdain was having….

    Dec 30, 2009 | 12:27 am

  64. mikel says:

    had the roast suckling pig at Maialino-NYC the other night and thought of you…happy holidays!


    Dec 30, 2009 | 1:09 am

  65. kurzhaar says:

    Hi Marketman, you might enjoy today’s WaPo article on gingerbread houses:

    Dec 30, 2009 | 12:19 pm


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