Top of the Morning, Nov. 21, 2023

Nov. 21—On Saturday, Karen Wood will deliver her gingerbread masterpiece to Einstein Bros. Bagels on the corner of Lincoln and University in Urbana.

It's the 12th year of the Champaign woman's easy-on-the-eyes holiday project — but it was in doubt until earlier this month. A series of serious family illnesses that continue to this day has made it more of a challenge.

"Since I am late getting started, it is going to be much smaller than the past few creations," she said. But "this is my therapy and only semblance of 'normalcy,'" she said

In years past, "Gingernana Karen" has made scrumptious replicas of everything from the Illini Union to Allerton Mansion to Burnham Hospital. This year, it's the Cattle Bank building in Champaign, which has been around since 1856.

This isn't your ordinary gingerbread house. Making the dough alone involved 6 cups of shortening, 6 cups of sugar, 6 cups of molasses, 12 eggs and 28 cups of flour.

She created paper patterns on Nov. 13. Baking started last Tuesday and construction Thursday as she hurries to meet her deadline. It will remain on the Einstein Bros. Bagels counter until Christmas.

"I love doing the gingerbread so haven't given up on it yet," she said.