Archive for December, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Troika

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Music Monday: The year’s lists

Another year is nearly over, and, once more, the most-played lists of December and the yearly roundup are remarkably overlapping. Well, of course they are. They wouldn’t be my favourites otherwise!

Without further ado, top artists for December:

1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra (325)
2. Blind Guardian (183)
3. Epica (177)

And the cumulative top-10 for 2014:

1. Blind Guardian (1047)
2. Nightwish (894)
3. Epica (841)
4. Loreena McKennitt (716)
5. Nox Arcana (447)
6. Anonymous 4 (426)
7. Trans-Siberian Orchestra (325)
8. Whitesnake (311)
9. Queensrÿche (262)
10. Lacuna Coil (238)

Happy New Year!

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Fantasia – Nutcracker Suite

Music Monday: Festive jukebox III

It’s the last Monday before Christmas! and next week I will be reviewing not only the month of December but also the entire past year. It’s going to be interesting.

The pieces I’ve chosen for this jukebox instalment have been regulars for several years. It’s incredibly hard to pick just one Trans-Siberian Orchestra song, as their works need to be enjoyed in their entirety for the full effect… but ‘An Angel Came Down’ was where it all began, 18 years ago, and ‘Anno Domine’ is, for all intents and purposes, a rock carol just right for belting out after a few drinks.

Hayley Westenra contributes the only version of ‘Carol of the Bells’ with words that I really like (apart from an anonymous choir that can be heard on a certain seasonal advert and makes me shiver but can’t be traced). ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ is another favourite, and Katherine Jenkins’ slower take makes it both intimate and stately, a mini-candlelit service for the listener alone. ‘Christmas at Sea’ brings tears to my eyes just by reading the poem; Sting and Mary McMaster keep it spare and grim, to haunting effect.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Foodie Friday: Christmas Pudding Cookies

christmas_pudding_cookies(Makes 18)

Ingredients:
150g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

To decorate:
Icing sugar, for dusting
200g white ready to roll icing
50g green ready to roll icing
1 tube red writing icing

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together using an electric hand-held whisk. Beat in the vanilla.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda, then add to the butter and sugar. Mix until crumbly, then, with clean hands, gather the dough and knead until just smooth.
3. Turn out onto a work surface and shape into a 27cm-long sausage shape. Slice into 18 rounds and place, spaced apart, on the baking sheets. Flatten each with your fingertips to a 5cm diameter. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. To decorate, dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the white icing to a thin sheet. Use an 8cm-round cookie cutter to stamp out 9 circles. Cut each one to make two wavy-edged semi-circles. Lightly brush with water and stick onto the cookies.
5. Roll out the green icing and cut out 36 leaf shapes. Use the tip of a teaspoon to cut away the edges to resemble holly leaves. Attach two to each cookie with a dab of water. Use the writing icing to dot two ‘berries’ on each cookie.


Month at a Glance

December 2014
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