Hosting Christmas

Anyone who knows me, knows I love hosting a party. I love entertaining as much as I love my child. It’s basically my M.O. Even when there is no party to be had I will plan one for the fun of it, or offer to help with someone else’s. (Because I am that weird party-lady who will even take over your party planning if you so much as give her an inch). Put that together with Christmas, my favourite time of the year, and you’ll find an exploding, gushing, so-excited-I-can’t-sleep Mel on your hands. This should give you an indication of how I reacted when I was asked to host Christmas last year.

Right away I knew it wouldn’t be just another ‘Christmas’ for me. No simple family gathering with paper plates and a plastic table”cloth”. Those words don’t exist in my vocabulary.

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Christmas Day belongs to the husband’s family. (Mine celebrates on Christmas Eve as the Finns do – a story for another time). Usually we would swing by the hosting house, have lunch, open some presents and then be gone after a few hours. With the planning in my hands I decided to mix it up with a big family dinner.

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The day began with family trickling in all morning as I pottered in the kitchen and served up an antipasto lunch. We had a spread of cheeses, quince, grissini and other fancy-shmancy crackers that I never normally buy. Dukkah and fresh bread was a hit, not to mention my paste/dip concoction of blitzed fetta and semi-dried tomato – so good! So good, in fact, that in the past my brother-in-law has taken to sandwiching the stuff between slices of bread. These were all balanced nicely with olives, stuffed bell peppers and meats, and a range of fruit and nuts. With a big meal ahead of us, grazing was the smartest idea. And of course I had to have a giant bowl of assorted chocolates for everyone to pilfer throughout the day.

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My daughter’s skills, with gingerbread as her medium, were also on display!

When it came to the beverages I had set up my drink dispensers on a large, wooden crate and filled them with options of water, apple & guava juice and a fizzy, peach iced tea – the orange slices, raspberries and mint I added made it all look so pretty and summery!

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For the dinner I really wanted us all to sit together. Most Christmas’s we end up plonking ourselves wherever we can find a seat or we spread out in the backyard. So, in order to make a table large enough to fit 20 people I added two trestles to my dining table. The size of it, however, meant I would have a hard time finding tablecloths to fit not only the length, but the width of my very wide dining table. To remedy this I bought two lengths of some deep blue fabric to run down it, overlapping in the middle. After adding some runners I already had, I adorned the the table with gold and glittery ornaments, bulbed votives, and I borrowed my mum’s gold-lined plates. I finished off the look with windings of some creeping potato vine.

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For dinner everyone pitched in by bringing in sides, salads, and a delicious chunk of ham. I even had turkey roasting away in the oven, along with a traditional Finnish dish called Peruna Laatikko – a kind of baked mash potato. With everything under control in the kitchen it allowed the family to relax, and boy did they! I had people lounging and napping on the sofas, lending a peaceful, homey mood to the day! At dinner the meats stayed hot in a chafing dish – greatest investment ever – and everyone filled themselves with what had to be the tastiest Christmas dinner. The real cherry on top for me was seeing how happy everyone was to be seated at the same table. Mission accomplished!

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The night rounded off with a giant pavlova, Christmas pudding and more than a few tipsy guests lingering till 11pm. With many compliments such as, “This was the best Christmas ever”, they all culminated to one last comment, “So…next year?” I was left feeling pretty chuffed, and it’s safe to say I tucked myself into bed that night with a smile on my face.

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Binge Watching Supernatural

The hubby and I have recently been binge watching Supernatural (or Spooky, Spooky – as we call it), and I have to ask myself: Why did we not watch this show sooner? Way back when the show first started I did attempt to watch that first episode, but it was way too scary for me and the TV went off after five minutes, if that. Yes, I am a big baby when it comes to anything scary! But with hubby’s insistence I decided to give Supernatural a go.

I spent the whole first season peering over a pillow and squirming, flinching and squealing my way through every episode. *Awaits the mocking* But through all the dreaded suspense I became hooked! Since then I’ve become very desensitised (Yay, I’m all growed up!) and can watch without batting an eye. But now, oddly, I miss getting the crap scared out of me. That being said, I will NEVER visit an orchard out of fear they might just have a scarecrow who comes to life and kills people… Creepiest. Episode. Of all. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the one with the clowns…sheesh.

Now in the middle of season 8 (and fighting to avert my eyes from any spoilers of the current season 10) I can easily say this is one of my favourite TV shows.

Reasons why Supernatural has made it to my favourites:

– I never expected the show to be funny, but it cracks me up!

– Castiel… This really requires no explanation. But a simple quote should suffice. “If the pizza man truly loves this babysitter, why does he keep slapping her rear? Perhaps she’s done something wrong.”

– Sam and Dean never actually die. It’s like they’re living in Mystic Falls – no one there is ever truly dead. Which just means the fun keeps on going 🙂

– Not a reason, really, but more of a thought: Sam’s car/beast in season 6 is the sexiest car I’ve ever seen… Sorry, Dean.

– The stories, of course! Though I tend to pick up on little clues early on and predict what will happen by the end of the episode, much to hubby’s frustration. (As a writer you find these things easy to notice because you’re used to using the same tactic in your own books!)

– The random episodes where the usual setup has been changed, ie ‘Ghostfacers’, ‘Changing Channels’, has given me one of my favourite Supernatural moments:

– And those Winchester’s… So much bad-assery. So much hotness. So many teary, angsty scenes.

 

You can’t go wrong with that combination. Basically, if you don’t watch this show you’re an idjit.

Review – The Kiss of Deception

There are many books in my collection that I love. I mean the ones that I want to (and do) read over and over again without ever losing interest in the stories. Even though re-reading means you know what’s going to happen, I still love stumbling across those small moments that make you think, “Oh, I forgot about that!”

I am a habitual re-reader. Especially when it comes to reading a series. When a new book comes out, I have to re-read the previous books. How else will I get the whole flow of the thing, and remember all those important details? And, of course, I re-read just for the enjoyment of travelling those written roads again.

After reading The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson, I am officially adding it to that pile! Since finishing it I haven’t stopped daydreaming about the characters and the scenes that are still playing bright and vivid in my mind. TKOD is the story of Lia, a princess who runs away on the day of her arranged marriage in hopes of a normal life and a chance to fulfil her dream of falling in love. After her escape Lia settles herself in a distant village and soon meets two new strangers, unaware that one is the prince she ticked off and the other an assassin sent to kill her.

The moment I read the blurb for this book I knew I would love it, and that gorgeous cover had me sold. I eagerly awaited its release and it definitely delivered. Even the ‘log wrestling’ scene everyone was talking about on Goodreads had me grinning like a goof. I mean, what’s not to love? Two hunks vying for Lia’s affections; a very cool, jaw-dropping twist; colourful towns and people (hello, vagabond camp! – the bohemian camp of my dreams); and let’s not forget the moment Rafe brings Lia the flower garlands! *SWOON* All of this is set in a backdrop of a fantasy world that very much reminds me of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson – another series on my favourites list!

After reading TKOD over only two days, it was long enough to cause me major withdrawals. I cannot wait for the next book! I might just need to re-read The Girl of Fire and Thorns (and get a Hector fix) to subdue my cravings. What can I say, I’m an addict!

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Evergreen – Book One

After a lot of editing and a lot of convincing from the husband, I have finally posted my novel, Evergreen, up on Authonomy.com.

I have to admit, it’s been rather flattering to get so many positive responses since doing it! Fast forward to a month later and here I am posting about it on my blog, hoping to get more readers. (I’m getting used to this naked-in-the-middle-of-a-crowd feeling. Might as well plunge in a little further. Besides, it turns out it’s not so bad!) As I’m about to begin querying, the more feedback I get on Evergreen, the better.

So come one and all! Have a read, tell me what you think 🙂

When Rain falls for the arcane boy who collects dead animals, his powers don’t just bind them together in love, they’re draining the life from her.

http://www.authonomy.com/books/44158/evergreen-book-one/

If you wish to, you can join the site to leave me a comment and rating. And if you are a fellow writer, it’s a great tool to use yourself.

BTW, how awesome-sauce is my book cover? Eh?? EH???

Synops-ease. A Writers’ Salvation…

As you can see by my earlier post, I despise synopses. But I cannot tell you how utterly relieved I am that I found a solution for this migraine-inducing endeavour. It’s so simple, I can’t believe I never thought of it myself. Just the other day I came across this amazing piece of salvation on Twitter and I tried it out.

Oh. My. Lord. I managed to write my first draft in the space of an hour and a half (toddler interruptions included), keep my sanity and *gasp* I actually enjoyed it.

How is this possible? you ask…

Allow me to enlighten you. Wait, let me rephrase… Allow me to blow your mind.

Write the synopsis before the book.

Yes, people. That’s all it takes. And this is coming from a woman who is quite the pantser. I always know where the story is going to head but I never plan the ending. I prefer to see what happens when I get there, letting my characters do all the work for me. So even with that in mind, it’s possible. With the majority of it done, I’ll simply ‘complete’ my synopsis when I’ve written my ending, when I know what actually happens.

When we write out our 100, 000 words beautifully, we tend to love every little piece of it. When it comes to writing the synopsis we can’t help but want to take those pieces and include them. We think it’s something that needs to be added, when it’s really not. That’s where the frustration comes from – the inability to let go.

When writing the synopsis beforehand, we know the basic events, the bare balls of the story. We don’t get hung up on every little detail because we don’t know them yet. It makes it so easy!

I can see you relaxing already. You’re welcome…

Here We Go Again…

I’ve done it again! I’ve completed my second novel after an extremely dragged-out year. I found it frustrating that it took me so long, but in the past twelve months I’ve had a few monumental things come along that drew me away from my writing. Ah, such is life. Sometimes you can’t help these circumstances.

I’ve had my brother, his wife and kids move back here after living in Europe for almost ten years. Naturally I spent a lot of time with them to make up for lost years. Also, my Mum was diagnosed with cancer, which meant numerous trips to the hospital and helping her and Dad out around the house. Prior to that, they were always the ones to entertain my kid while I spent hour after hour writing on their couch. It was a long while before I could do that again. Then we moved house. Packing, unpacking – need I say more? Clearly, all these things amount to a truckload of time I’ve missed. But I got there in the end! Perseverance, my friend. Perseverance!

So now that my brother and co. have settled back in, my Mum is doing really well and the house is reasonably unpacked, ‘Genius Book Three’ is under way!