Yes! “Write postcards.” ~Maeve Binchy

Long before either of us visited Ireland, my mother introduced me to Irish novelist Maeve Binchy’s books. I, too, became a fan. I can see my mother, who died a little over two years ago, reading one by the fire in the back room.

Ms. Binchy, who died in 2012, left behind a few tips for us:

“Learn to type. Learn to drive. Have fun. Write postcards. (Letters take too long and you don’t do it; a postcard takes two minutes.) Be punctual. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. They are not thinking about you. Write quickly. (Taking longer doesn’t usually make it b… Read More

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Happy 2024!

2024. It has a nice sound to it. We don’t stay up for midnight in Vermont but instead ring in the new year on Irish time. With bubbles. 🙂

Here’s to a happy, healthy, adventure-filled year, with lots of books at hand!

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Merry Christmas!

Yesterday’s flooding rains haven’t dampened our Christmas cheer. We’d have preferred snow (there’d have been a ton of it!) but appreciate the sunny days ahead as we finish our shopping, wrapping and planning for our gang to arrive.

Fine-tuning what goodies to bake and buy is especially fun! We’re planning on making a Christmas wreath pavlova. Here’s the amazing Mary Berry’s version.

Looks so good, doesn’t it? We love it in part because it’s naturally gluten-free for our grandchildren with celiac. They love helping to make it (a… Read More

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A recipe for hot chocolate

Winter’s getting an early start here in Vermont with chilly days and snow. Perfect for homemade hot chocolate! It’s a great way to incorporate hygge into these cold, dark winter days.

No better time to repost my recipe! It appears in my Swift River Valley Christmas novel, A Knights Bridge Christmas.

I use Dutch-processed Droste cocoa but here’s an interesting article on the different types of cocoa, from the King Arthur Baking Company. Their store and bakery (so good!) is just up the road from us. Worth a visit when you’re in the area.

HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients

1 cup c… Read More

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to take a moment to wish all my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving!

May your day be filled with good food and good cheer.

Up to half a foot of snow is in the forecast for tonight (Tuesday) and tomorrow morning, so we’re in for a white  Thanksgiving on our hilltop. We’ll load up the woodbox and put a pot of mulled cider on the woodstove.

Enjoy, and many, many thanks for being here.… Read More

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Create a hygge reading nook

The past few winters we’ve been incorporating the Danish art of hygge into lives up on our hilltop in northern New England.

Pronounced “hue-guh,” hygge doesn’t translate easily into English. “In essence,” says Visit Denmark, “hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Here are a few ideas for bringing hygge into creating a cozy reading nook:

Candles

A lot of candles. Candles are a hygge must. They can be flameless. It doesn’t have to be dark (or cold!) to light candles. I’m just careful to k… Read More

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Adventures await!

“It’s bad manners to keep an adventure waiting.” ~Unknown 

My mother would appreciate that quote. She lived into her mid-eighties and went through some hard times, but she was always up for an adventure. It was her mindset, even when funds were tight, and a great example for me as the third of her seven kids.

She was with us on our first trip to Ireland in 2006. I said, “Mom, would you like to go to Ireland with us?” I swear she started her packing list before she said yes. She didn’t let health issues and knee troubles stop her. I remember her delight as we trekked through a muddy pastu… Read More

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Happy October!

September flew by for us. Writing, running, walking, planning, rain, more rain, visits with family. One Saturday “we” rebuilt the woodstove chimney at our family homestead on the western edge of Quabbin Reservoir (setting for my Swift River Valley books). I provided an apple pie. Joe could have passed for a chimney sweep. It was a great day with most of my siblings.

My granddaughter celebrated her birthday with a cake that involved a lot of sprinkles. Or you call them jimmies? It was fun and delicious. She’s gluten-free and we all love the King Arthur Baking GF mixes. SO good… Read More

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SAINT’S GATE on sale in August

Saint’s Gate is on sale in eBook through August for just $1.99. It’s the first book in my Sharpe and Donovan series. Set on the southern Maine coast with a touch of Boston and Ireland, it was a fun, challenging book to write.

I wrote a chunk of Saint’s Gate in a hideaway cottage on the southwest Irish coast. Finian Bracken, a recurring character in the series, came to life on one of my long walks during that memorable three-week writing retreat.

You can read about creating the elusive Father Bracken here.

Saint’s Gate centers on Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan, two people is… Read More

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After the Vermont flood

It’s been raining here in Vermont. A lot. Even before the catastrophic flooding rain of July 9-10, we’d had a lot of rain since early June. We’re fine on our hilltop and our town is in cleanup mode.The damage in towns I know well and love is nothing short of breathtaking.

It’ll take time but Vermont will recover, as it did after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

The photos below are from a walk we took at the bottom of our hill the morning after the storm with the river starting to recede. The beauty of this area shines through.

Now, back to writing!!

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