It’s the (not so) Little Things

It's the (not so) Little Things, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Houseplants, garden, gardening, calamondin orange, citrus trees. Photo by Scott Morrison
Photo by Scott Morrison

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you need something until you get it. In my case what I needed was a happier plant.

My calamondin orange was suffering in a too-small pot for far too long. I kept putting off re-potting, wanting to do it after we moved, but since that’s taking longer than anticipated I finally decided to take care of the plant now.

After transferring it to a bigger pot, pruning, and staking it, I was tired, but also feeling accomplished. It was like a weight had been lifted. Giving the plant what it needed made me feel good. I highly recommend it.

I also discovered that my once-tiny houseplant has gotten huge! It really wasn’t obvious until I was finished and took a step back. How dwarf is a dwarf citrus tree anyway?

It's the (not so) Little Things, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Houseplants, garden, gardening, calamondin orange, citrus trees. Photo by Scott Morrison
Photo by Scott Morrison

By the way, you can use calamondin oranges to make cake, juice (aka Filipino lemonade), or– if you’re like my SO (who also snacks on lemons)– you can eat them straight off the branch, rind included.

What little thing has lifted your spirits lately? Share in the comments…

My character Mara loves plants too. She’s also a vampire. Download my books and find out more…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

🧿

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Happy new year 2022, recipe, loukoumades, greek doughnuts
Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

I don’t think it’s too much to hope for a better year in 2022, so I’m sending you all my best wishes for good things ahead!

There are a few different New Year’s traditions in my family that come from our Greek culture. The one I’ll be indulging in tomorrow is making Loukoumades, or Greek doughnuts. These were a highlight of the holidays growing up, and I thought I’d share my mom’s recipe. Enjoy!

Loukoumades (Greek Doughnuts)

This recipe makes enough for at least 6 people. Feel free to halve the amounts to make less.

Loukoumades, Greek Doughnuts, Greek Pastries, greek honey doughnuts, honey doughnuts, greek honey pastries, honey pastries honey, cinnamon, syrup, recipe, how to pronounce loukoumades
Like with clouds, it can be fun to try to figure out what the different shapes remind you of

(Apologies for the lack of precise measurements– my mom was one of those cooks who just knew how to make things. Luckily the recipe doesn’t need to be too precise.)

2 highball glasses/tall drinking glasses of warm water

3 soup spoons yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 soup spoons vegetable oil (or olive oil, if you want to be authentic)

2 to 3 highball glasses/tall drinking glasses all-purpose flour

Mix together water, yeast, salt, and oil in a large bowl. Add flour, mixing in thoroughly. Batter should have a similar consistency to pancake batter (not too thick nor runny). Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let sit until mixture has doubled in bulk.

Once the batter is ready, pour vegetable oil several inches deep into a saucepan (don’t fill the pan more than halfway). Heat oil over high heat. To test if it’s hot enough, carefully drop a small amount of batter in; if the batter floats and oil bubbles around, you’re ready to start making the loukoumades. (If the batter immediately turn brown, the oil is too hot. Turn it down and test again in a few minutes.)

Lower heat to medium-low. Carefully drop in scant tablespoons of batter (the loukoumades puff up, so you don’t want to make them too big). Don’t crowd the pan. Fry loukoumades, turning them until they are lightly golden and crispy. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl or large dish lined with paper towels. Continue until you’re out of batter, adding more oil to the pan, if necessary.

SYRUP

2 cups unpasteurized honey

3/4 cup to 1 cup water (depends on whether you prefer a thicker or thinner syrup)

Simmer water and honey together in a small saucepan for 3 to 4 minutes. Lower heat to minimum and keep warm.

TO SERVE:

If you prefer crispy loukoumades like I do, pour some syrup into an individual bowl, sprinkle with ground cinnamon, and dip loukoumades into the syrup as you’re eating them.

If you prefer softer/sweeter loukoumades, place them in a serving bowl. Pour the syrup over them and sprinkle with cinnamon. Eat while still warm.

You can also reheat loukoumades in the oven at 350F (175C) for about 15 minutes. Loukoumades are best eaten the same day.

How to Pronounce:

Wishing you a sweet 2022,

Aspasía S. Bissas

More Bookstore-Cat Love

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats
Photo by Hatice Yardim.

Given that libraries have kept cats as far back as Ancient Egypt, it’s probably safe to assume that bookstores have had resident cats for as long as there have been bookstores. Besides stopping rodents from destroying the books, cats are a soothing presence to (non-allergic) staff and visitors, act as a store’s (or library’s) public face, and add life to what can be a sterile environment. On top of all that, cats and book people are a natural combination. Here’s a small sampling of the bookstore cats who keep books safe and hearts warmed…

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Otis and Clementines, Nova Scotia

This adorable kitten is just one of many who get fostered (along with the occasional mama cat) at Otis & Clementine’s, in Nova Scotia, Canada. Visitors to the bookstore can play with, and adopt(!), the kittens at this store. Check out their Facebook page for more info on available kitties (kitten season is generally early spring until late October).

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, kittens, Otis & Clementines, Nova Scotia, Canada, adopt don't shop
In case you needed more convincing to visit Otis & Clementine’s
More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Wild Rumpus, Booker T
Booker T at Wild Rumpus

Wild Rumpus, a children’s bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA), has a number of cute animals on staff, but their two kitties are Booker T, who loves to get cozy wherever he can–including in unattended strollers, and Eartha Kitt (below) whose large size hides a tiny meow.

Eartha Kitt at Wild Rumpus

Kona Stories in Hawaii has two adored (and spoiled) rescue cats:

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Kona Stories, Hawaii, Loki, Kinsey

Loki (back) and Kinsey (foreground). These two are so popular they had to get their own separate Instagram accounts so the store’s account could focus on posting pictures of books.

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Vanice, Libreria Acqua Alto, Italy

This gorgeous trio can be found at Libreria Acqua Alto in Venice, Italy. This store keeps books in gondolas to protect them from high tide, and apparently the cats like to sleep on the books. Is it just me or would it be worth the trip just to see the felines?

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats, Paris, France, Shakespeare & Co, Agatha
Agatha

While you’re in Europe, you can swing by Shakespeare & Co. in Paris to spend some quality time with their beautiful tortoiseshell cat, Agatha. A former stray, Agatha was found in the Mystery & Crime section (can you guess which author is her namesake?), and decided to adopt the store.

Finally, here are a few unnamed kitties from unknown stores. Do you recognize them? Share in the comments…

More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats
More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats
More Bookstore Cat Love, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, books, bookstores, cat, cats

Looking for a book to read while you cuddle your favourite floof? I’ve got you covered…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

A while back I read a great article about how travelling can enrich your writing. In it, the author outlines how travel is unpredictable, fosters empathy and reflection, and creates authenticity in your writing. Now that travel is slowly getting to be possible again, it seems like a good time to remind ourselves of how much it can add to our lives. Here are four more ways travelling is good for creativity (even if you don’t go any farther than the other side of town)…

It breaks up your routine

Even the most imaginative person needs inspiration, and, as many of us have learned these last couple of years, nothing is less inspiring than doing the same things and seeing the same few places over and over again, day after day. Going somewhere new shakes you out of your rut, gives you a fresh perspective, and re-ignites creativity.

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Alex Zhernovyi on Pexels.com

It helps you learn

If you go somewhere you’ve never been, you’re bound to learn something, whether it’s a few words in another language, facts about local history, or even a new skill (so many places offer classes and workshops for tourists). What you discover can be the spark you need for your current project, or the inspiration for something new.

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It gives you the chance to be a different kind of creative

There are all kinds of opportunities to be creative while you travel, and if you can do so in a new (to you) way, even better (I’ve written before about how creativity begets creativity). Take pictures, write a journal entry (or poetry, short fiction, a song…) about your trip, sketch what you see, take part in a workshop, visit galleries and bookstores, talk to interesting people you meet along the way. Use it all as creative fuel.

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

It can help you in unexpected ways

When I was having trouble finding the right image to use for the cover of Love Lies Bleeding, a photo I’d taken in Paris turned out to be just what I needed (I posted about it here). My Paris trip photos also came through for the cover of Blood Magic, and I have a third one in mind for the next book. I didn’t go to Paris to take photos for my covers, but my travels led to exactly what I needed. You never know what going somewhere new could end up doing for you.

4 Ways Travel Can Help You Be More Creative, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com
Photo by Mohamed Almari on Pexels.com

You don’t have to travel to be creative, but it really does help. Even if you can’t make it to another country, try exploring a different nearby town, or visit a neighbourhood in your own town that you’ve never been to. The important thing is to break out of routine and try something new. It could lead you to places you never expected.

Has travel helped your creativity? Share in the comments…

Download my books and find out how my travels have influenced my stories, and not just the covers…

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Home Library Inspiration

Home Library Inspiration, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Books, decorating, interior design, home design
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

If I weren’t a writer or in publishing, I always thought I’d be a decorator/interior designer (I’m not sure I have the artistic skills for it, but I could try). Although I’ll never make a career of it, I still love decorating at home. My tastes are eclectic, but I’m most drawn to spaces that are comfortable, warm, colourful, and a little whimsical. Books everywhere are a must. (Minimalism? What’s that?) With that in mind, I thought I’d share some pictures I found online of home libraries that inspire me. Hopefully you’ll find something to be inspired by too…

I love the cozy feel of Vita Sackville-West’s library. And you can never go wrong with a tower.

Home Library Inspiration, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Books, decorating, interior design, home design, Vita Sackville-West
Author Vita Sackville-West’s Tower Library / photo: Writers´ Houses

Bookcase art, flowers, and a comfy couch– when can I move in?

Floor-to-ceiling books and an old-fashioned library ladder– these are my goals. The arched doorway is a nice touch (although the books wedged in above it are a little painful to look at).

So many books (the climb would be worth it)…

This is just the definition of cozy. I would never leave.

Happy colours, orchids, and built-in shelves. I’m not a fan of the books being used to prop up the coffee table, though.

Based on the way the shelves are set up, this is probably a bookstore, but I don’t even care. I would love a room packed with shelves and featuring a window seat. Great floor too.

This is the perfect reading spot: plenty of books, a comfortable window seat, and a table for working.

Cozy and comfortable. Not to mention those gorgeous sofas.

Everything about this. I need to get a blanket like that for my boring grey couch.

For those of us who can’t afford a Parisian apartment like this one, the look could probably be emulated with wallpaper, paint, and similar furniture. And a whole lot of books ♥

What do you think– do any of these appeal to you? What do you look for in a home library? Minimalism or maximalism? Share in the comments…

What’s a home library without books? Get one for yours:

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

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