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Archive for 'Christmas'

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses - Romance Book Promo

If you enjoy romances full of the Christmas spirit, then this is the promo for you. My paranormal romance Merry & Seduced is part of this promo, and you can grab a copy for 99c (normally $3.99)

Get in the Christmas reading spirit!

Shortbread #recipe

Scotland immediately comes to mind when I think of shortbread, and my next thought is always Christmas. It’s said that shortbread developed from a medieval recipe, with the modernized recipe attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots. Over time the ingredients changed, with butter replacing the yeast. Butter was an expensive ingredient, which meant shortbread was only baked on special occasions. Butter has become very expensive down here in New Zealand, so nothing has changed in that respect!

I tend to bake shortbread at Christmas. It’s one of my favorite biscuits to eat, a trait I fear I inherited from my father because it’s his firm favorite too.

The recipe I use comes from Jo Seagar’s Easy-Peasy Summer Entertaining recipe book.

Shortbread

Shortbread

250 grams softened butter (1.1 cup American)
3/4 cup icing sugar/confectioners sugar
1/2 cornflour/cornstarch
1 1/2 cups flour

Beat the butter and icing sugar until creamy. Mix in the cornflour and flour. Roll into teaspoon size balls with your hands. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Flatten and press with damp shortbread mold. Bake at 150C for 25-30 minutes until the shortbread is pale but crisp. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Shelley’s notes:

1. The original recipe says to roll out the dough and cut out star shapes. I’ve always found the dough too soft to do this–maybe because I tend to make this recipe during the heat of a New Zealand summer–and after experimenting I’ve found teaspoon size balls work best for me.

2. If I feel in the mood for a variation with bite I add 1 tablespoon of cocoa and 1 teaspoon of chili powder just before I add the flour and cornflour. Sometimes I’ll also add chocolate chips-the small kind.

3. If you don’t have a shortbread mold, press down with a fork. Dip the fork in a cup of cold water after flattening each biscuit to avoid sticking.

Chocolate Chilli Shortbread

Here’s a photo of the Chili Chocolate Shortbread.

Are you a shortbread fan?

Merry Christmas

happy couple with Christmas hat

Merry Christmas! I hope you have a lovely day full of friends, family and laughter. Fingers crossed that Santa hides a book or two in your Christmas stocking.

Christmas in New Zealand

Christmas falls during summer where I live in New Zealand. While I was growing up I always heard about New Zealanders who spend Christmas day at the beach. Not true in our family!

Christmas to me means:

1. Warm days, sometimes with rain since we live in a subtropical zone.

2. The pohutukawa trees come out in bloom with their bright scarlet pom-pom flowers.

3. Our daylight saving is in full swing so the days are long to make the most of the good weather.

4. All our local towns and suburbs hold their Christmas parades.

5. Christmas carols start playing in the shops and malls.

6. The towns and malls bring out their Christmas decorations.

7. We have a family discussion about who will host lunch on Christmas day.

8. The kids all break up for Christmas holiday – about 6 weeks off school.

9. Office parties!

10. Shopping for presents.

11. Filling up the pantry and freezer with Christmas treats.

12. Fresh strawberries and asparagus. Pavlova!

13. Family.

14. Excited and tired children.

15. Christmas trees and the decorations we add to every year.

16. Christmas stockings.

17. Shortbread.

18. A glass of Pimms with fruit and mint garnish.

19. Smoked salmon sandwiches.

20. Homemade truffles.

21. An advent calendar.

22. My husband and his brother go to purchase fresh oysters.

23. Barbecues!

24. Staying up late to walk around our neighborhood to view the Christmas lights.

25. Watching our neighbor take two weeks to put up his Christmas lights.

26. Reading Christmas romances. I have some to suggest – Merry & Seduced, Festive & Seduced or Christmas is Coming, all by me. Open-mouthed smile

What does Christmas mean to you? Do you enjoy reading Christmas romances?

Tales of Christmas Past

Christmas Gifts

 

I’m visiting Joan Reeves today and showcasing my recent release Merry & Seduced. I’m also reminiscing about Christmases past. Check out my snippet plus the posts of the other authors at 12 # Authors Reflect on Christmas

Get in the Christmas mood!

Seven Signs That Summer is Here

Pohutukawa tree

Signs that summer and Christmas are really on the way…

1. Some of our native pohutukawa trees have burst into flower. The trees growing near the sea have started to flower and the others closer to our home should start flowering soon. The pohutukawa tree is known as New Zealand’s Christmas tree.

2. Daylight saving has kicked in and our days are longer. We’re starting to take the puppy for a walk after dinner.

3. All the local malls have put up their Christmas decorations.

4. I heard Snoopy’s Christmas (one of my fave Christmas songs) for the first time today.

5. I received an email from one of my favorite cafes telling me I’ll receive a free muffin since it’s my birthday. My birthday is at the beginning of December and slap-dab in summer.

6. Some days it’s hot enough to wear shorts. Now all I have to do is make sure my legs are silky smooth!

6. The strawberries are ready to pick. Yum!

What is the first sign of summer for you? And if you’re in the Northern hemisphere – what is the first sign of winter for you?

Xmas Day in Lahaina, Hawaii

I took a load of photos over Christmas, photos of the different Hawaiian islands we visited plus shipboard shots. Unfortunately disaster struck and hubby managed to delete every single photo on my digital card. There was much cursing and swearing on his part and I have to confess that a few mutters emerged from me too. Sigh. On the positive side we have visited Hawaii before and we still have hubby’s photos, but they weren’t as good as mine. Devil I lost all the Christmas day photos, although I did visit Hilo Hatties in Lahaina and had my photo taken with Santa Claus. He was the most talkative Santa I’ve ever met. When he heard I was from New Zealand we had a discussion about the movie Once Were Warriors.

xmas_Lahaina, Hawaii 2012

I love his Hawaiian shirt and the fact his beard was real. We had a lovely day in Lahaina. My highlight was getting up to watch the sunrise. We watched the pilot boat from the cruise ship and saw it stop suddenly. A humpback whale breached right in front of it and as we watched the whale breached three more times. It was a magical start to the day. This was the first time I’ve ever spent part of Christmas day on the beach. Unfortunately the photos to prove it are lost.

If you’d ever like a warm Christmas I highly recommend Hawaii as a destination.

Merry Christmas

Pohutukawa tree

Pohutukawa flowers

This is one of our native trees – the pohutukawa tree. It’s an evergreen and bears these gorgeous scarlet flowers around Christmas. Our local council has planted these trees all down our street and in some of the neighboring reserves. They make for a pretty picture.

I wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas. Enjoy your day.

NZ Christmas Tree: Pohutukawa

I mentioned pohutukawa trees over at Berengaria Brown’s blog the other day and promised I’d post a photo.

Pohutukawa trees are known as New Zealand’s native Christmas trees since they come into flower during late November/December. They have scarlet flowers and tend to like growing near the sea on clifftops. Our street sidewalk is lined with pohutukawa trees and it looks very pretty at this time of the year. This photo is the tree outside our house.

Pohutukawa Tree

Christmas at My Place

I’m visiting Berengaria Brown today and talking about Christmas. Here’s the link to Berengaria’s Blog.

My husband sprang a surprise on me for my birthday and my holiday ended up a bit longer than I’d planned. Not that I’m complaining. I had a fantastic time. I’ll be back to tell you about it tomorrow. Meantime I have what seems like a million things to do before the family arrive for Christmas lunch.



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