IT’S beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, as they say in the classics. The third week of November and I’ve already acquired an annoying Christmas carol earworm. But what I don’t object to at this time of year is curling up with a good Christmas romance, something that takes me to the far side of the world and treats me to a traditional Christmas complete with yule logs, snow-laden fir trees and wassail. And if there’s a ghost involved, so much the better. This week I’m joined by award-winning author, Carolyn Wren, who has a fabulous Christmas novella, Ghosts of Grace Cottage, out now. She’ll be giving away two e-copies of her novella to commenters but first, here’s Carolyn!
My parents immigrated to Australia from England in 1966 when I was 3 years old.
They brought all of their Christmas traditions with them. I still have warm memories, literally, of roasted turkey and steaming hot vegetables, consumed on scorching hot Perth Christmas days in the dining room of our non-air-conditioned house. Mum was also a stickler for dressing up in ‘Sunday best’ on the day, adding to the perspiration factor. My own Christmas day cooking is considerably different. I’m a big fan of crisp salads, cold turkey and seafood platters, served outside on the patio, with everyone dressed in t-shirt and shorts. In 1995 I purchased the attached book, for the lowly price of $4.95 and not a year passes when I don’t use it. I love this book, it’s so simple and straightforward, from the traditional turkey roast – I do mine on the bbq – to the icy cold fruit punches, and the most delicious, super easy choc fudge recipe, which I have adapted and tweaked over the years. I have included my version here, and I encourage everyone to try it. Trust me, it’s a real winner.
Carolyn’s Choc-nut fudge.
1 x 200g block of dark cooking chocolate – a good quality brand is worth the extra cost.
200g of dark choc buttons
1 x 400ml can skim condensed milk
50g chopped/flaked nuts of your choice – I always use flaked almonds, but chopped pistachios work great.
Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave.
Add broken up chocolate and chocolate buttons
Add condensed milk
Microwave until everything melts – check and stir every one minute as the mixture continues to cook as you stir. It should take only 2-3 minutes to fully melt, depending on your microwave.
Add nuts and stir
Pour into a shallow baking pan lined with baking paper – mine is 8” x 10” and 1” deep.
Refrigerate and cut into squares when firm.
This is a wonderful easy dish to take to Christmas parties.
I always wanted to write a Christmas story. An idea popped into my head one day and I found myself falling in love with two sexy, Regency ghosts, living under a curse in a quaint English country cottage, and a woman who has lost her Christmas spirit.
Released 15th November as an e-book.
Here’s an Excerpt:
“Are you sure?”
Elly grinned at her friend. “Sal, I think you’re doing this wrong. You’re a realtor. I’m looking for a house. Your job is to talk me into buying, not out of it.”
Sally, her lifelong buddy and trainee real estate agent, looked dubious. “It’s old.”
Elly let her gaze wander over the deep red bricks of the cottage almost obscured by the climbing white rose. She saw the faded paint on the window frames and doors, the cracked tiles on the roof. None of that mattered. Something about this place called to her, tugged at her. “Imagine it with snow on the roof.”
“I’m imagining the roof collapsing.”
“Just look at those flowers. Who ever heard of roses blooming so close to Christmas?”
“It’s a freaky property. The climbing white roses bloom all year round. The bushes in the front garden don’t bloom at all, ever.”
“Imagine lying in bed and letting the fragrance waft over you.”
“Imagine lying in bed and letting the freezing cold wind waft over you from the cracks in the wall caused by the climbing roses penetrating the mortar between the bricks.”
“You do realize, Sal, you have no romance in your life.”
“I have plenty of romance in my life. It’s six inches long and comes with batteries.” Sally turned to her. “Are you sure you want to rush into something now? So close to Christmas?”
“Yes. I spent the last twelve months travelling. It’s time to come home.”
“But…” Sally’s words trailed off.
Elly put an arm around her shoulder. “I know it’s the first Christmas without my parents. Life goes on.”
“You’re so brave.”
“No, I’m not, even after a year. Maybe it’s because I know I’ll see them again one day. You can’t avoid bringing up the subject of Christmas with me. It’s everywhere I look.” She gestured to the fairy lights in the trees and the snowman in the garden next door. “Just because I’m not up to all the festivities this year, doesn’t mean everyone else has to suffer.”
“I don’t know why you don’t buy a lovely new place with the life insurance money.”
“My folks always wanted a country cottage. Maybe in some ways I’m fulfilling their dream.”
Sally yanked the collar of her coat higher as a chill breeze flew along the quiet country lane. “You know she died there,” she whispered. “The previous owner, I mean.”
“Miss Hardy was ninety-two years old. She had to die somewhere.”
“Doesn’t it freak you out?”
“Nope, from what I hear she had a long and happy life.”
“Really?” Sally shivered. “I don’t know where you get that idea. She was a recluse who wouldn’t let anyone inside the house to do repairs and renovations. That’s why it’s so cheap. Did you hear the rumors? Some people say she used to talk to herself, and strange noises came from inside late at night.” Her voice dropped back to a whisper. “Maybe it’s haunted. I heard another rumor too. They say a witch might have lived here a couple of hundred years ago.”
Elly laughed. “Sal, honey I think you have to go back to realtor school. Your selling method leaves a lot to be desired.” Her eyes turned once again to the faded beauty of the old home, and her voice was determined. “I want it.”
So what about you? Do you love a traditional Christmas, no matter how hot it gets downunder? Or are you a seafood and sandals type?
You can find Carolyn at: