...And a Happy New Year

It's been a busy holiday season.  I spent a lot of time preparing for Christmas, enjoying Christmas, and recovering from Christmas, with a few other things added in for good measure.  Here are a few highlights:

1. I read books.  Almost one a day!  And I've thoroughly enjoyed them all.  I polished off SLAYERS by C.J. Hill and immediately went out to grab the sequel.  I finished them both in under 24 hours.  If you are looking for a good YA book featuring dragon slayers, I highly recommend it.  I also read Philippa Gregory's CHANGELING (YA), which was an interesting blend of historical fantasy.  For a change of pace, I switched over to Jeffrey Deaver's OCTOBER LIST.  I wasn't sold on the whole telling-the-story-backwards idea until the last 1/4 of the book.  Then, I decided I loved it.  I've moved on to Kristi Cook's MIRAGE (YA sequel to HAVEN), which I've been meaning to read for a while.  I'm half-way through it, and am enjoying it.  Believe it or not, all these books were Christmas presents I hadn't previously read, which makes it extra awesome. 

2.  I learned to make toffee from my husband's grandmother.  I miss the days that my grandmother would show me how to cook, and it was a pleasant blend of new and old memories.  GiGi has the recipe memorized, and in traditional grandmother fashion, there was a lot of "stir it until it looks/feels right" and "until it turns this color."  My first batch tastes a little over-browned (read burnt), but I did it! 

3. I closed out work projects, and decided NOT to do any more "work" this year.  And take a right and proper vacation.  I haven't had a completely non-working vacation since before my baby boy was born (over 18 months ago), since I'm a consultant (and you never know when your next job's gonna be, so you work when you can get it).  Not only does it feel divine to sit and read for fun, and write for fun, and watch chick flicks (and finally get around to the MORTAL INSTRUMENTS movie), but it feels a bit like I'm playing hookey.  And I love it. 

4.  I pulled out my sewing machine and made some soft books for baby boy.  I missed the hum of the motor and the rhythm of the needle and it felt good to make something.  And it also felt nice to sit in a room, by myself, with only my thoughts.  Bliss!

5.  I broke 29K on my new WIP (Work in Progress/novel).  I've given it the working title code name "EASY MARK."  I don't know if it's a good fit, but it's better than Untitled WIP.  I've been trying to work out my plotting and scenes while washing dishes, folding laundry, and prepping dinner so that when I find some quiet time to write, that's all I have to do - write.  And it seems to be working pretty well for me.

This is my last post of the year, and 2013 was a good year.  I'm looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings! 

***Wishing you a very happy and safe New Year!***

Friday Fun Facts Version 13.3: The Christmas Edition

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic today, so I thought I'd share some of my Christmas favorites:

1.  Amahl and the Night Visitors: Menotti's Christmas opera.  The story of a young crutch-laden boy who travels with the Three Kings to visit Baby Jesus.  I first saw it performed live in a small N.H. church when I was ~10 yrs old.  A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see it again in Chicago under the direction of Menotti's son.  

2.  The Muppet's Christmas Carol: "All our pens have turned to inksicles.  Our assets are frozen."  Never gets old. 

3.  "Mary's Boy Child," by Boney M.  It's the kind of song that makes you want to throw on a Santa hat, kick off your slippers, and boogie for Christmas sake.

4. Holiday scents: Is there anything better than the smell of fresh cut pine, warm cookies, and spices?  Well, maybe cutting and trimming the tree, eating the cookies, and tasting the spices, but you get the picture.  Christmas is scent-sational!

5.  Kucios: The traditional Lithuanian Christmas Eve Dinner.  I love how my family has kept up the tradition (you can read all about it here) and I'm excited to share it with my little boy.  I look forward to planning the 12 dishes (one for each Apostle), setting an extra place at the table to welcome Jesus, and sharing a bread-wafer to usher in well-wishes for the coming New Year.  After all the rush before Christmas, it's a nice way to connect with my ancestors and remember the real reason for the Christmas season.


May your Christmas be merry,

And your holidays bright.

May your blessings be many:

Health, happiness, and delight.