24 December, 2012

Christmas music

What I’m listening to today (in no particular order):

Caz Christmas: The Brothers Cazimero
Kohala Christmas: Kohala
Holidays: Hapa
The Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas: The Beach Boys
Christmas Then & Now: The Lowe Family
Canon of Praise: The Kidmans
Christmas Time: Jean Frye Sidwell
Christmas Gift II: Na Leo Pilimehana
Joy to the World: Honolulu Madrigal Quartet
A Merry Christmas with Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters

My choices remind me of Christmas’s in Hawaii, musical friends, visiting art festivals in Arizona and the good musicians we met there, our present life and Christmases in California, and the Christmas films I grew up with.

Merry Christmas/Mele Kalikimaka to you all.

19 December, 2012

Light Fantastic

One of the must-do's in the run-up to Christmas for me is the Dana Point Boat Parade. This year's theme was 'Hollywood' and as usual some boat owners pulled out all the stops to come up with creative decorations.

I was unsuccessful in uploading a video directly into this post but you can see it here.

13 December, 2012

That Takes the Cake

Every year I make an English Christmas cake. This is a fruit cake covered by a layer of marzipan followed by a layer of royal icing. 

I start the cake the night before cooking by mixing the dried fruit with a few tablespoons of orange juice. The next day the rest of the ingredients are added and the cake is baked for four hours. Only this year I decided to forget about it and it baked for an additional 90 minutes. But it looks alright.

I leave the cake packed in a container to rest for a while before starting the next layer.

When I visit England I always buy several packs of marzipan. You can buy it in the States where it is called almond paste but the packages are too small. In England it is sold in a package large enough to cover an eight inch cake (with just enough left over for a little treat.

This isn't my neatest job but it will be covered up so it doesn't really matter.

Next I leave the cake out for three days so the marzipan will dry out otherwise the oils in the marzipan can seep into and colour the icing.

The final layer is the royal icing. This is made from icing sugar (powdered sugar) and egg whites. The sugar is slowly added to the egg whites until it becomes very thick and then the mixture is whipped with an electric mixer. Finally it is spread over the cake and left out for the icing to harden.

There are various ways to decorate a cake. I go for the easy option of roughing it up on top to stimulate snow. I then use different decorations to create a little winter scene. Thanks to my friend Nicola for sending me these ornaments.

Once the icing has hardened, all that's left is to put the cake away some where cold and dry until the evening of Christmas Day when it is traditional to cut the cake. I love Christmas cake so I can't wait.

Cake and icing recipe and instructions courtesy of Delia Smith's Christmas Cook Book.

05 December, 2012

Ho Ho Ho

Keeping in the Christmas spirit this is another post from my visit to Roger's Garden. As well as having an array of Christmas trees, the shop also has a myriad of olde worlde Santas' or Father Christmas as we call him in England.

I love this beach-inspired Santa.

Not a Santa but I couldn't resist including it.

01 December, 2012

Christmas Garden

Although I have generally been too busy to blog lately, I did want to share these pictures from a recent visit to Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach.
It has become a tradition with hubby and I to visit their beautifully decorated Christmas shop and enjoy all the sparkling, colourful decorations. It helps get me in the mood for the festive season ahead.

In this post I'm just focusing on their many Christmas trees which are decorated according to colour or theme (or both).

Most of the ornaments come from Germany and they remind me of decorations from my childhood Christmas's in England.