Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yay, Helio!

I didn't mean to get sucked into Dancing with the Stars. Really. How cheesy can you get? Still, I found myself skimming through the beginning of the season (TIVO is a wonderful thing) and, of all the weird things, I started to care about those celeb dancers.

The dancing part was fun to watch, but the personalities are what grabbed me. And I have to tell you, Helio Castroneves stole the show right from the beginning. Charming, sincere, funny - he was just fun to watch. He may not have been the best technical dancer in the competition, but he projected such joy and energy that he was by far my favorite. And Julianne Hough? She's amazing.

Up until the last night, I had liked Marie Osmond as well. Her personality and style in each performance made me smile. But the doll dance was so variety-show that it really didn't belong in the finals. And it felt like she was grasping her last opportunity to promote herself on finals night, which was very off-putting. "I'm one of the world's top doll designers." "I have thousands of doll fans." "Come on! I'm a doll designer!" Loved Tom Bergeron's response, "Yeah, I think we got that."

Mel B. and Maks were honestly the best technical couple of the top three, but again, it was the personalities that grabbed me. Mel was at times... scary. I did like her, though. And Maks. Definitely Maks.

But Helio! Ah, the smiles, the struggle to overcome his fear of sequins and to master the style. The little boy joy he showed at the end of every performance when he knew they had nailed it. Could he have been any more charming?

Congratulations, Helio and Julianne, and thanks for an entertaining and endearing season.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Enchanted is Enchanting

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, everyone! I hope you were able to spend the day surrounded by the ones you love, thinking about all the things we have to be thankful for. On my long, long list is our annual Thanksgiving Movie Night. Our family tradition (besides eating waaaay too much and sitting around watching football) is to go out to the movies. This year's unanimous selection was ENCHANTED.

I laughed all the way through. It's about time Disney got on the parody bandwagon. Amy Adams was a perfect Disneyesque princess, right down to her gestures and facial expressions, Rachel Covey was the adorable kid star and Susan Sarandon made a wickedly wonderful evil queen, complete with really great makeup. Patrick Dempsey, of course, was McDreamy. The only disappointment was to look forward to seeing Idena Menzel in a musical production... and we don't get to hear her sing. Otherwise, ENCHANTED was magical and irreverent and a whole lot of fun. Just what a Thanksgiving movie should be.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Daemon!

This is the coolest thing ever. Did you know that you can go to the Golden Compass website, answer a few questions, and see what your daemon would be? Mine's named Pereus, and is still changing before settling into his permanent shape.

If you want to check out your personal daemon, go to and clock on the daemon link.

Have fun!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Death by Bikini

It's coming... yes, DBB is done, done, done and in copyediting as we speak! Yay! I am very excited about the book and the follow up books that are in the works. Everyone at Puffin has been amazing to work with. The cover design is fabulous. The editorial team is fantastic. I feel like the luckiest author alive.

Watch this space in the coming months for some deadly fun contests and promotions!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ode to Mint MMs

I'm an avowed chocoholic.

Not just any chocolate, though. Not me. I've done my time, honed my taste. I prefer European chocolate to American, dark but not bitter, and hazelnuts or almonds rather than peanuts. I like chocolate with an essence of orange or mint. I like it to melt in my mouth.

I'm not so much of a chocolate snob, however, that I don't appreciate a good M&M now and again. In fact, my family likes to sprinkle M&Ms in our popcorn for movie night, preferably when the popcorn is still warm so that the chocolate inside the M&M candy shell turns soft and gushy.

Once a year, M&M Mars offers the Mint M&Ms. Those are my absolute favorite. Since they're only available at Christmas time, I've been known to stock up on them and ration them out throughout the year. If I was lucky, I'd hit Target or a grocery store the day after Christmas and buy out their stock at half price. When we lived in Japan and I couldn't find them in the stores, a dear friend used to send a package to me, paying probably triple what it was worth - monitarily, at least. I treasured each bag I received and eked them out, a few minty mouthfuls at a time. This only partially illustrates my obsession with Mint M&Ms.

It was with great anticipation, then, that I waited for Halloween to come and go this year, and for the stores to start hauling out the Christmas goods. Sure enough, WalMart lead the pack, and festive green and red packages of M&Ms graced the shelves by November 1st. Excitedly, I scanned the labels until I found what I was looking for.

Mint! The packaging was different... last year they were shiny and foil-like, this year they look like any other Holiday M&Ms package, save for the label "peppermint" in the corner. That did give me some pause. Peppermint, huh? That's a little different from previous years' simple 'mint' label, but I figured it was probably the same thing. I grabbed two packages.

In the parking lot (yes, I actually made it to my car before dipping into the shopping bags), I tore open a little corner of the package and appreciatively breathed in the chocolate-mint aroma. I poured a few out into my hand. And stopped.

Rather than the classic M&M size and shape of previous years, these Mint M&Ms resembled Swedish Mints, or the huge Peanut Butter M&Ms, roundish and large. Well. Half the fun of the Mint M&M experience was popping a few in your mouth and savoring the crunch and the feel of the candy as well as the flavor. But, not being one who is typically resistant to change, I gave these new M&Ms a shot.

They taste the same. I still like them quite a lot. But... I don't love the things like I used to. All because of the size and shape? I must be crazy.

But at least that's a few less calories I'll have to worry about working off this season.

Classic Mint M&Ms, rest in peace.