Sunday, 16 December 2012

Gingerbread houses and Christmas singing

Nearly the final Christmas cakes

This week I finished the last two fruit Christmas cakes (there are still two yule logs to make). My sister had said that the Christmas cakes I gave her in previous years were too big, as her husband and son are not overly keen on fruit cake. I thought the way around the dilemma could be to combine fruit cake and gingerbread, so  I made a ring of house fronts - aiming for the style of the tall houses you see in Amsterdam and Bruges - with a candle in the centre so the light shines out of the house windows. Hopefully this will give everyone something they like. I liked the design so made another one for Mark's parents.

gingerbread Christmas cake

Gingerbread houses

I often make gingerbread houses and churches and a friend at work saw the photos and asked me to make one for her and one for her mum. I just love everything about making gingerbread - the smell (and taste!), the chance to get creative with sweets and icing and the overall effect. I put crushed boiled sweets in the holes for the windows so they melt to form 'glass', and have provided battery powered tea lights so light flickers through the coloured edible glass.

gingerbread house
The trees are iced ice-cream cones and the snowmen are three Whittard marshmallow snowballs (marshmallows covered in desiccated coconut) stuck together with royal icing and held with a cocktail stick, with orange flavoured matchmaker chocolate sticks as arms and a fondant nose and scarf.

decorated gingerbread house with marshmallow snowman
 For the second gingerbread house I covered the roof with matchmaker chocolate sticks, and liberally dusted the whole thing with icing sugar and edible glitter.

gingerbread house with chocolate roof

ice-cream cone tree


Max the cat was very pleased with the box Mark's Christmas present came in...until my new work chair (gift from Mark) arrived! He has hardly moved off the chair since it arrived. I even found it swivelled round so he could look out at the garden!

On Friday it rained all day. The cats refused to go out...just sat by the cat flap, watching disapprovingly. It's a hard life being a cat (yeah, right!)

cats watching the rain through the catflap

"when will the rain stop???"

Max and Rio

Bath Minerva Choir, Light and Gold concert

Quite a few years ago I used to sing in an amateur musical theatre group. The group folded and I stopped singing. At the beginning of the year I decided to start again. I had a few singing lessons and went along to a Bath Minerva Choir rehearsal to see what I thought. I totally loved it - particularly the people - and kept going. The music is quite a challenge for me as my music reading/understanding/knowledge is not all it could be, but I have enjoyed learning this very different type of music, much of which I had not heard before - and as an alto, so no more tune. It is also good that I am not required to dance any more! I was a very, very bad dancer.

I was away for the first concert, at Bath Abbey in April, and the Summer term was spent working towards a two day workshop rather than a formal concert, so yesterday's concert was the first of its type I have taken part in for 27 years!! I was quite anxious - not least about wearing my new, fitted red top, rather than my usual baggy stuff - but I had a great time! I got to stand next to Christina who has a beautiful and strong voice. I sing so much better when I stand next to Christina; just knowing I am singing the same notes as someone else gives me confidence (she is also very lovely and great to chat to). I had some very nice comments from other choristers about the sound coming from Christina and me in the back row (where the naughty choristers stand!) and, much as I know the lion's share of that came from Christina, I am still pretty chuffed. My biggest singing challenge is a lack of confidence, so kind words are always welcome...even if people are just being kind.

We rehearsed much of Saturday afternoon, with the Bath Philharmonia and soloists, and then had the concert in the evening. I was quite tired. I normally wake up between 5 and 6 on a Sunday, no matter how much I would like a lie-in, but today slept until almost 9...unheard of! The music from the concert is still going through my head, my knees hurt from wearing high heels in order to be able to see Gavin the conductor and my tinnitus is a bit rubbish, but I still keep grinning. It was a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to starting rehearsals again in the new year.

I almost forgot...hyacinth cam!


  1. I would have loved to come to that concert - singing in a choir really is such fun! I am sure it was fabulous!

    I must say I understand the cats' feelings - we've had the same dreary weather here, and if I didn't have to walk the dog, I would gladly have stayed indoors the whole weekend.

    1. I wish you could have come to the concert too - maybe one of the future ones!