Yep - I've made it! I'm actually on the other side of the age-hill heading down (ever so very gently :) )
I've spent the first day of my 'noughties' baking. Don't know why. Surely the nesting instinct hasn't kicked in again ... there is absolutely NO=WAY I'm pregnant ... must be a comfort thing.
Henyway - I've cooked this year's Christmas cake (plus bread, plus shortbread) and I took a photo of it before I cut the first slice. It is delicious!!!! So good, in fact, that I felt the need to share the recipe. If you're looking for a great, easy recipe that tastes divine - then this is it. Enjoy :)
Dark Rum Christmas Cake
6 c Christmas Fruit mix (or 2.5 c sultanas, 2 c raisins, 1.5 c currant/citrus peel mix)
3/4 c oil (vegetable is best)
1/2 c dark rum
1/2 c orange juice
1 c brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup or treacle
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 eggs - lightly beaten (I actually missed this instruction, so if you don't beat - it's still okay)
2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp mixed spice powder
'As many as you like' cherries ;)
tbsp plum jam
Combine the dried fruit, oil, rum, orange juice, sugar and golden syrup in a large saucepan and stir over medium heat for two minutes. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda (definitely use a large saucepan or the baking soda will overflow - yup, I found out the hard way). Allow to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile. Preheat oven to 150 degreesC (or 300 degreesF). Lightly grease then fully line with baking paper a 20cm (or 8inch) cake tin. Hint: the cake rises a lot so make sure the baking paper on the sides of the tin is a good inch higher than the tin (- again, the hard way).
Now that the fruit mix is cool: add the eggs, sifted flour and baking powder, and the mixed spice until completely combined.
Spread the mixture into the prepared tin. Arrange the cherries on top. Bake for 2 hours 10 minutes or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.
Let it cool in the tin. Heat the jam until it's runny then paint over the top of the cake with a soft pastry brush.
Store in an air tight container and it'll keep for a month if you want to tease yourself - or five minutes if you live in a house like mine - we all like the first slice while it's still warm. (It'll last three months in the freezer).
Our wonderful friend and fellow author, Sandra Hyatt, passed away in August 2011. Her last book Lessons In Seduction has now been released by Harlequin "Desire" and we are all spreading the promotional word.
“The romance community is great at helping one of its own. Sandra Hyatt’s posthumous book Lessons In Seduction, is out tomorrow and her writing friends are spreading the word in the hope of increasing royalties for her family.”
Sandra's writing is fresh and heartfelt - I thoroughly recommend this book.
Okay - it's not really anywhere near as cool as the 'real' Bat Cave on the Batman TV series (i.e. it has no butler). In fact, the bat reference is more in relation to my love of vampyres, than a shout-out to Batman - but still - my little writing wardrobe is like a cave of sorts.
And, I'm back-into-it ... I'm-a-writing-liza. And, it feels good, da da da da da da da!!!
99% of bulls have gone out and they won't be back until January/February 2012! ergo - I have major writing time and I'm not gonna waste a moment of it.
Over the last month of full on bull-pimping, I've been able to fully develop the 'New Voices' entry in my head with the characters now shouting at me to get written - which means that in my world - all the moons have aligned and it's time for the BatCave.
As a small stop-over (not procrastination :) ) I checked out what's been happening on the New Voices Facebook page and caught a post by Wendy S. Marcus with a link to her blogpost about external plot devices - very timely!! I was going to have Hero/Heroine meet again in hospital because of emergency and an outsider (fairy-godmother-anaesthetist) let slip that the hero wasn't leaving the country like she thought. Whoops! Have now re-thunk that plot point and changed to the hero confronting her instead (on a mountain biking course - but you'll have to buy the book to find out why :) ).
I'm so excited! - To The BatCave (and no more procrastination!)
Well, I didn't get through to the top four - but considering the shock I received when I got in the top twenty-one - I'm not complaining! This has been an absolutely fantastic experience. Wendy S. Marcus is now my new hero!! Her mentoring, was spot on and stretched my writing muscle completely out of shape; into a new sassy, flirty voice that makes sense to me (it didn't to start off with because I didn't recognise it). That might sound a little weird but VOICE has been one of my toughest challenges because I couldn't see it on the page.
To everyone who voted for me and supported me with comments I give my heartfelt thanks. The facebook friends were brilliant and our RWNZ members went the extra mile to make sure I did the best I could. Extra special thanks to Kamy Chetty for being the "Critique Partner Extraordinaire". Over a thousand writers put themselves out there with the first chapter and I give a standing ovation to all.