My third and final tale for AMMC, a Christmas Anthology.
My second Christmas tale for AMMC:
Gossamer threads hung, decorated with frozen diamonds, and beneath the lacy webs Winter rested her head on the stony floor. Swirls of vapour rose from her nostrils and tiny blue flames licked across her tongue. She sighed.
An amber glow suffused the sky with light, banishing the indigo skyline over the horizon, and the vista smouldered beneath an ethereal haze. Snow clothed the valleys, and ice clung to every rock and ridge. Icing-sugared trees blended the woods together, evergreens bathed in a blanket of white and leafless trees stood dipped in sherbet. A cotton-wool carpet covered the grass before the cave and red berries shone like rubies peeping through earth’s crystal mantle. Lakes shone like glass, and early-rising village folk danced across the sheets of ice.
This is a preview to the story that can be found within A Symphony of Dragons. It has become one part of my symphony, a composition, of A Symphony of Seasons… You can find this enchanting book of short stories in many outlets in both paperback and eBook or at my publisher BHC Press.
As she ran all she could hear was the susurrus of the murmuring leaves as they swirled about her, and she quickened her pace. She slowed stepping carefully through winding vines and convolvulus, still decorated with scattered diamonds of dew. She paused, one foot still aloft, and flared her nostrils. Heavy petrichor rose from the forest floor masking the scent she tracked. Her foot dropped and she stood silent, listening.
The breeze still whispered, and her mind whirled as scents mingled. Flora’s fragrance intermingled with fungi and soil’s pungent aroma, and different odours emanated from the undergrowth, confusing her and sending her into a tailspin.
She raised her nose, but the scent had vanished.
Just mere months since Christmas and here she was lost and abandoned. Her meretricious collar, now studded with dull zircona, had long since snapped…and she settled in the leaf mulch with a maudlin whine, to wait.
Still enjoying a writing hiatus and catching up with some crafting ideas… Rather consumed with Steampunk right now, and wanted a steampunk bauble for the Christmas tree, but couldn’t find one, so made my own:
1. Find (or buy) a single Christmas Bauble. Mine was 49p for 3 at my local garden centre. Stick with gold, silver, chrome, brown or neutral colours.
Having just decorated the cake, it now feels like Christmas! It’s been the same over the last few years…my cakes used to be standard, just rough iced, but after watching Kirsty Allsopp a couple of years ago I became more adventurous!
The first year I put polar bears on my cake and I haven’t looked back since…this year I attempted penguins. Not all plain sailing…couldn’t buy black fondant icing anywhere, so had to make it with food colouring. Advice is to use gel paste colourings, but couldn’t find a black one, so it was liquid colours…and that didn’t help. You need a lot to make white fondant black, though I made it a day before and it darkened from steel-grey to black overnight. The icing became softer and stickier with each drop of black…which added to my frustration as I tried to mould penguins. It turned out to be easier to keep the icing in the fridge and only bring it out each time I moulded or added something (eyes, feet etc), was a long drawn out operation and several penguins were violently sacrificed during this process!
The iced-over pond was made by melting four glace mints in a tiny cake tin on grease-proof paper (at a low temperature for about 15 mins) then cooling in the fridge. The bubbles made as the mint heats makes the ‘ice’ you’re left with look pretty authentic! The pond sits on top of very stiff royal icing (I add as little water as I can get away with when making my royal icing, I like the peaks!) and I lightly coloured the icing below the pond with the palest blue (food colouring). Finished with a few snow-covered rocks of white fondant and the penguins surrounded by ‘snowballs’ (sugar decorations) and silver balls.
The rest of my cake is a standard rich fruit Christmas cake and traditional marzipan. My husband makes the cake with the children, I marzipan it…then make decisions about decorating it myself in secret and we all enjoy the big reveal when it’s finished!
So, yes, now it’s Christmas! We’ve decorated the tree…I love that my tree is covered with individual decorations, which I add to each year with anything unique I can find. I love homemade decorations too, the children’s school efforts…Bekah’s robin, Dan’s star and angel and Cait’s snowflake… Almost nothing is repeated, and this year I made my own Button Snowflake and Button icicle (similar to the snowflake, but buttons on one white lollipop stick, both sides, big buttons at the top and small at the bottom…)
I’ve had my face painted, cute snowflake on my cheek. Bekah is starting up a Face Painting business http://littlemasterpiecefp.blogspot.com/ and she painted faces at our local church Christmas party…some excited little tigers! See her Facebook Page for some more great pictures: http://www.facebook.com/LittleMasterpieceFacepainting
Along with the cake we’ve made our Christmas pudding, lovely recipe, which makes our main pudding and several mini ones too! Takes ten hours in the oven, but oh boy, the house smells good that day!
We’ve even been carol singing…granted, people find it strange that a large group can go carol singing and not expect payment, but being out in the dark singing carols and wandering down a street of twinkling Christmas lights is magic!
Since Caitlin moved to High School, I’ve missed the infants/junior school concerts and nativities…what’s not to love about little boys with gold cardboard crowns, tea-towel shepherds, grumpy inn-keepers who forget to open the door, reindeer with runny noses and angels with wonky halos..? I miss the innocence and enthusiasm!
So what’s left? I must finish the present wrapping (before school’s out!), Santa’s done all his! We’ve got our Santa hats, the holly and the ivy…what more?
Perhaps just the time to take a moment and remind myself of the reason for it all…