Sisters become queens of the castle at local flower shop

Karen Clay, co-owner of Flowers by Ruzen, pipes frosting onto a gingerbread castle at the local store. She and her sister spent about three weeks making the creation for a sale display. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now

NEWTON—Karen Clay put some frosting finishing touches delicately on her gingerbread castle Thursday afternoon at Flowers by Ruzen in Newton.

She and her sister, Diana DuBrou, created the structure for the store and Clay got her inspiration for the castle from none other than the queen of domestication herself–Martha Stewart.

Clay said her sister came from Missouri to help out.

“I asked her, ‘Have you ever made a gingerbread house?'” Clay said. “She said, ‘No, have you?’ I said no. We had never ever done a small one. By the time we started, maybe we should’ve.”

Clay purchased some items with a gingerbread theme at market in March and wanted a real gingerbread castle to put those items around. At market, Martha Stewart’s chef had made a gingerbread house.

“They had it as their display and had items around it,” Clay said. “Theirs looked like a house. Ours looks like a castle. I didn’t want to mimic theirs.”

Clay, co-owner of the local flower and gift shop with husband Jack, went big with her first-ever gingerbread structure, as she had never done that before.

“It was fun doing it with your sister,” she said. “Of course, we know a little bit more now.”

She’s also developed a deeper respect for people who make them and she’s learned more than just how to create a gingerbread building.

“Deer actually like gingerbread and it’s actually good for them,” she said.

At first, the duo made dough that was too light, so they baked it and the deer ate it right up.

Clay has plans for the castle after the holidays, as she’s going to feed it to the deer, although she plans to remove the icing first.

“A friend said I should store that,” Clay said. “Nope, too big and too much space.”

From start to finish, the process took about 18 days.

“If we had known what we were doing, it might not have taken so long,” Clay said.

Clay purchased foam forms at market she used as templates for the castle, cutting the dough around them.

The most difficult part wasn’t making it, however. It was figuring out how they were going to transport the large structure to Ruzen’s. DuBrou thought they should divide it into three sections, which they did.

Clay wanted holiday lights on the castle and in it, so they covered up the mechanics that allow them to turn the lights on and off.

“We did enjoy it,” Clay said about the process. “Especially happy when it was done. If anybody wants to spend friend time, sister time, you’ll find out how well you get along. My sister said, ‘Well, you know what? At least we still love each other.'”

As the creation progressed, Clay’s home smelled like a bakery, she said. Even her grandson said he loved the way the house smelled.

Her young grandchildren, ages 3 and 6, didn’t even touch the castle when visiting.

The display is popular with area folks.

“We’ve had people come back in bringing friends to look at it,” Clay said.

Clay uses her artistic abilities not just in making castles. She also uses them at her store, doing some designing, added onto other duties, like answering phones and working with customers. She also works throughout the year creating stained glass cardinals.

“They sell so well,” she said.

She also makes stained glass snowflakes, but didn’t this year because of an operation she had and then decided to make the castle. She’s hoping to continue that in 2022.


Flowers by Ruzen, 520 Washington Road, hours are 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., weekdays and 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturdays.


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