This holiday advice column is brought to you by Monica Jackson, the heroine in Eliza Daly’s romantic comedy, Under Her Spell. Monica is a fun, quirky, and creative character with an often unique outlook on life.
Fake It, Don’t Bake It or Make It:
A Busy Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays
Stressed is desserts spelled backwards. Appropriate, since baking stresses me out and when I’m stressed I eat massive amounts of chocolate, and gaining weight is stressful. My cousin Hope makes Martha Stewart look like a total slacker, so I figured she’d be playing domestic elf this year—baking, cooking, and decorating our townhouse. But her no-good cheating hubby is giving her a large divorce settlement for Christmas, so she’s celebrating by popping a champagne cork on a two-week cruise. I can’t skip the holidays. I love the holidays and this is one of the busiest times for my romantic event planning company.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my stressful job, it’s that you need to look like you’ve got it together even when you don’t. I suffered panic attacks a few months back when Reed, a divorce lawyer, moved in next to my business. It wasn’t pretty. However, Reed turned out to be good for my stress. A lot of people experience a high level of stress around the holidays because they are perfectionists and insist on doing everything themselves. So here are my top time management ideas and how I’m going to enjoy a perfectly imperfect holiday.
1) The Island of Misfit Cookies. Last year, I bought gingerbread cookie dough for a holiday party, and then I realized I didn’t own cookie cutters or a rolling pin. No time to run to the store, I rolled out the dough with a glass and found a gingerbread cookie cutter online and printed it out. Half of the cookies ended up with frowning faces and I even decapitated a few. So this year I asked Hope to make my cookies before she starts sailing the high seas. Hope owns a cake decorating business and her cookies are a work of art. I can’t pass off perfect cookies as my own, so she made me some skinny Santa cookies with fuchsia colored suits, one-eyed gingerbread men, and reindeer without antlers. Hope’s misfit cookies business is taking off. However, she has to be discreet or her secret will be out and she’ll lose her clients.
2) Recruit Elves. I’ve started over twenty businesses. When I was ten years old, I dressed up as an elf and went around the neighborhood offering my gift wrapping services. I was an awful wrapper and once mistakenly wrapped a centerpiece and salt ‘n pepper shakers that were sitting on a client’s table. I didn’t last more than one season. My wrapping skills haven’t improved and everyone knows this. So I’m hiring a nine-year-old neighbor girl to wrap my presents. I’m also having her wrap the pictures on my walls, which will make festive decorations.
3) Dual-Purpose Cards. Last year my cousin Ellie posted her annual Christmas brag letter on Facebook and asked everyone to share it with friends and family who weren’t on Facebook. Rather than being put out that she wanted us to distribute her letter, we were happy that Ellie wasn’t so perfect after all. This gave me the idea to do e-cards this year. I e-mailed photo cards of my assistant and me dressed as somewhat sexy elves and her cute little Shih Tzu dressed as Santa, standing in front of my business. I posted this photo on Facebook with our business address and a caption reading We can help you be a little naughty, or nice, this season with your significant other. Not sure if it was the cute little dog or our sexy elf outfits, but the promo just went viral on Facebook. You may have already seen it.
4) Voila—A Holiday Feast. I’ve been watching Hope cook for the past few months and if there is one thing I’ve learned—the only thing—is that cooking is all about presentation. Hope and her soon-to-be ex owned a restaurant, so she knows the secret of haute cuisine is small portions, stacking and garnishes. I’m going to buy deli turkey with the fixings and reheat the turkey on Christmas Day in a slow cooker so the aroma fills the air. Then all I have to do is place a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes on a plate, top it with a dollop of stuffing, slap a slice of turkey over it then drizzle with gravy. Garnish the plate with a few cranberries.
5) Indoor-Outdoor Decorations. We recently had a major snowstorm in Milwaukee. Go figure. School was cancelled. When I came home from work, some kids who live in an apartment building without a yard were building a snowman in the dirty snow plowed up on a curb. I offered them my yard. I asked them to take the snow from my sidewalk first, so I didn’t have to shovel, and to decorate the snowmen with red and green attire and to build them in front of my windows, so they could be enjoyed inside or outside. Of course this only works if you have snow.
Read Monica’s advice column Deck the Halls with Holiday Stress Balls.
Which of Monica’s suggestions do you like the best? What do you do to simplify your holidays?
When a series of failed relationships and business ventures have Monica Jackson doubting her self-worth, she turns to spell casting to attract positive energy and the opportunities needed to achieve her goals. But can Monica’s belief in spells restore her belief in herself?
Monica creates a spell to find her soul mate, and one to ensure the success of her new romantic event planning company, Enhance Your Romance. Monica is confident she has found her niche until divorce lawyer Reed Walker opens a practice next door to her office. The anti-marriage slogan plastered on his office window, and his down-on-love clients, quickly prove detrimental to Monica’s business. When his arrival appears to trigger a string of bad luck, Monica fears one of her spells sent negative energy into the universe and it has returned to her threefold. Although Reed is beyond sexy, and she admires his self-confidence, she’ll do whatever it takes to get the universe back on her side, and Reed out of her life. No way is she losing another business.
Reed finds himself attracted to Monica’s beauty and her optimism. His job and his parents’ divorce have made him a pessimist, especially when it comes to love. However, he soon finds that Monica’s pro-love attitude is rubbing off on him, causing him to lose his edge. If Reed doesn’t distance himself from Monica, he’ll likely destroy his reputation as a pit bull divorce lawyer.
Can Monica and Reed look past what they might be losing to realize the love they have found?
Under Her Spell is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.
“Monica is a hoot and I love the steamy interactions between her and sexy divorce attorney Reed! Such a fun read and full of laughs.” – 4 Star Review by Sara, Chick Lit Plus
“Quick moving, funny and romantic, you can’t help but love Monica, the characters, and the tangles they get into.” – 8/10 review by Annmarie T., Chicklit Club
Eliza Daly’s first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie’s Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing scripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. Fast forward to the present, she’s still writing stories about women who always get their men.
When Eliza isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home in Milwaukee working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy. She also writes lighthearted women’s fiction under the name Eliza Watson.
You can find Eliza on the web at Website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
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