Walking on the southwest Irish coast

Walking and writing go together for me, whether I’m working out a specific issue, letting my wander, taking a break or not thinking about writing at all. I love getting outside and heading off on a trail or a garden walk or a beach or a city street, whether for a short distance or f0r miles.

Ireland, of course, is one of my favorite places to walk (and run). Below are some of the places I wandered recently on the southwest Irish coast, coming away energized, refreshed and filled with creative ideas. The top two photos are in Derreen Garden and the bottom one is in Kenmare. Azaleas and rhododendro… Read More

Read More >

The Elusive Finian Bracken

Irish priest and whiskey man Finian Bracken has become a reader favorite. A man with a tragic past, serving a parish in a struggling Maine fishing village, he appears as a key secondary character in every Sharpe & Donovan tale.

And he started and has remained one of my most elusive characters.

The clock was ticking on my deadline for Saint’s Gate, the first book in the series and I took a three-week writing retreat in a little hideaway cottage on the southwest Irish coast, an experience it itself. I didn’t know at the time if Saint’s Gate would be a standalone novel or the fir… Read More

Read More >

The joys of rhubarb

My first encounter with rhubarb wasn’t promising: I was around seven and ate a chunk off the ”vine.” It was ultra-tart. I had friends who loved it straight that way but not me! I don’t like it too sweet but I do like some sweetness.

Since then I’ve come to love rhubarb stewed, in pies, cakes, crisps, crumbles, pies and jams. I’m trying savory glazes for meats and vegetables now, too. It’s hard to go wrong.

Not everyone is a fan. An Irish friend remembers his mother peeling rhubarb and using it in many dishes, but he never developed a taste for it. After many years, he ga… Read More

Read More >

Spring flowers…I’m ready!

With a surprise ten inches of snow and a spell without power this past Sunday, I’m in the mood for flowers! Maybe you are, too. Here are some images from our visit last spring to the Keukenhof gardens just outside Amsterdam in the Netherland. They open for the 2024 season on March 21.

Enjoy!

 … Read More

Read More >

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

Read More >

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!

Read More

Read More >

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

Read More >

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

Read More >

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

Read More >

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

Read More >