Possibly not what anyone wants to hear, but over here in the UK, bonfire night has passed and the traditional countdown to Christmas has begun.
The windows at the various department stores have decorated to reflect the season and the Christmas stamps are going on sale.
In fact, if you are sending things overseas by sea mail, you may have missed the last posting date. Some people are very organised and never miss this date. I tend to send my gifts by airmail...
One thing is often made in British households at this time of year are the Christmas cakes and puddings. Because they are fruit and brandy based, they have to sit and marinate for awhile. A traditional date for making them is on the so-called Stir Them Up Sunday (the Second Sunday before Advent begins) -- so called because of one of the lessons. When my children were little, my daughter hated the fireworks that accompany Bonfire Night with a passion, so I used to use 5 Nov to make my puddings, Christmas cake or mincemeat. The idea was inspired by the Dorothy Edwards My Naughty Little Sister books that all my children loved. It worked a treat and my daughter started anticipating Bonfire Night, rather than cowering.
It is also the time of year that all the Christmas themed books start appearing. Harlequin as well as Mills and Boon put out a wonderful selection of books across all the lines just in time for Christmas.
The UK version of my own Christmas offering -- A Christmas Wedding Wager is published this month. It is published as a duo with Helen Dickson and goes under the title of Christmas by Candlelight. I think the cover is wonderfully Victorian. The US version is published next month.
To celebrate the publication, I am giving away a copy of A Christmas Wedding Wager. I will draw the winner next Wednesday ( 14 Nov). To be entered in the contest, please email me with the answer to the following question:
In what city does A Christmas Wedding Wager take place? Hint: the answer can be found in the excerpt.
If you put Tote Bag contest in the subject line, it will make it much easier for me.
As an aside, I know many Americans do not understand about mincemeat pies and their popularity in Britain. I didn't until I moved over here. Mincemeat pies are tartlet sized and don't really feature meat. It is considered bad luck to refuse a pie if offered. And al lthe Christmas concerts and carol serivices seem to offer pies afterwards, rather than Christmas cookies. My next newsletter will feature a recipe for mincemeat pie and can be made with butter instead of beef suet in case anyone is interested.
UPDATE: Cherie J is the winner of the contest. I have contacted her and will post out a signed copy of A Christmas Wedding Wager.
I will be back next month with another blog and a new contest. That one will be a grand Christmas one.
Many thanks to all who entered.