A Christmas Day Promise

I have to admit, it’s been challenging to get into the Christmas spirit this year—well, really, the past three years if I’m being completely honest. With so many changes, not only in the world, but in my life in general, there have been times when hiding from the world has seemed a more desired alternative than what is out there waiting for me on any given day.

But life is not about hiding. It’s about doing the best we can, sharing our light in the world and meeting change head on and deciding how best we can step up to the challenges that life gives us at any one moment in time. While I may not be able to do many of the things I’d like to these days, and in the way I’d like to, I can still accomplish something. Baby steps are better than no steps.

So, I have made myself a promise to do better in the year ahead, to take time to do some of the things that are important to me and not push my own needs aside. I promise to be more direct with people. We sometimes think that others should instinctively know what we’re thinking and feeling during certain situations and then become disappointed and frustrated when they don’t. That is not realistic. Communication takes practise and I promise to make an effort to communicate more clearly.

Between now and the new year I will set down a list of intentions for 2023 of some of the things I would like to see manifested in the year/years ahead. (Some things take more time than others, you know.) Intentions don’t have to be large in order to be effective. I’ve been putting things off for a few years now but vow to do better.

So, that is my Christmas day promise to myself. I have also decided to make an attempt to update my blog more often and spend less time on social media like Facebook and Twitter. We shall see how that goes!

So, to all of my readers out here in blogland, may you all do better in the year ahead! I think as we travel though this journey called life that is one thing we can all work toward.

Until next time!

This is Fruitcake, Lark Harnish

It was suggested to me by a friend (Thanks Sue) that posting a fruitcake recipe on my blog might be something that readers would enjoy and since we are coming up to the Christmas season, I say, “Why not?”

In my latest MG novel, This is it, Lark Harnish, Lark helps make fruitcakes one day with the McMaster family.

“We gathered the ingredients for the fruitcakes while Mrs. McMaster searched through her recipe book. I measures out the flour while Mrs. McMaster added the molasses. Sylvie helped break open the eggs while Martha added spices and raisins.”

This is it, Lark Harnish

Years ago, my dear sweet mother gave me a recipe for “Cheap Fruit Cake” that I make every year. It was in a cookbook put out by the Barbour Company with recipes from the Atlantic provinces. I’m not sure how old this cookbook is but I’m willing to bet it’s at least from back in the late seventies. I can remember cooks of the day, mailing their $2 to the Barbour Company and receiving this gem in the mail some weeks later.

I did a quick search and found that the Barbour Company in Sussex New Brunswick is over 150 years old. There’s a link to their Facebook page if you’d like to check it out: HERE.

As in years gone by, cooks added their own twist to many of the recipes they used. Which is exactly what I do with this fruit cake recipe when I’m making it. It’s really, the only one I make. Cherries are never “optional”–they are added, sometimes candied fruit and currents; anything I might have on hand.

“Your mother was an excellent cook, always perfecting her recipes; an extra pinch here, a dash there. There are some who would have done just about anything to have her recipe for dark fruitcake.”This is it, Lark Harnish

The other day, I took out my recipe and got to work. Fruitcake is one of those things that you either like or you don’t. It’s also one of those recipes that are usually only made once a year.

“Once the cakes were baked and cooled, Mrs. McMaster sealed them away in tin cans to ripen and then hid them in some remote part of the pantry, and no one but she knew the location. This added to the mystery and excitement of the upcoming season.”-This is it, Lark Harnish

So, this is fruitcake–perhaps not the same recipe that Mrs. McMaster would have used but this is the one that has been handed down to me.

Do you have any special family recipes that have been handed down to you? What special foods are a must for you and your family at Christmas?

Not Changing My Christmas Day Plans

Lot of interesting things going on at the moment concerning the pandemic and once again people have been asked to change their holiday plans.

We started hearing that 20 people could gather, which quickly dropped to 10, but seriously, I’m just not changing my original plans. I’m not.

Last Christmas my husband and I spent the day at the hospital with my mother who was not doing at all well. It was a quiet, miserable day confined within the walls of the hospital. The man in the next bed had ALS and couldn’t speak but came over with his tablet and wished us a Merry Christmas. It was touching. Turkey dinner was served to my mother, but she hadn’t been eating for many days prior to Christmas. That day was no different. Honestly, it didn’t look that appealing. We tried to get her to take her medications. I can’t remember if she did that day, but my thought is that she didn’t. Most days she wasn’t able to even do that. She remembers nothing about last Christmas and so you might wonder what point there was in our being there in the first place–but there we were and I don’t regret it. It was Christmas and Christmas is for families. At that time each patient was allowed two visitors for the day. We probably stayed eight hours.

Weeks later, we were able to have turkey dinner with more of our family which was absolutely delightful. While we are told that Christmas is December 25th and we should celebrate then, the actual celebration is only a part of what Christmas is about. Many of us insist it’s about family and spending time with loved ones, and if that is the case why are we so hung up on it being that one specific day. Being with family can be a special time, any time. Don’t take the people in your life for granted or the time spent with them. There people who live far away from their families and rarely get a chance to spend time with them, while others get to see family every day. If you believe and celebrate Christmas as being the birth of Jesus, there are likely many ways for you to honour that on December 25th without having a house full of people.

One year later, we’ll again spend Christmas dinner with my mother but that has been the plan all along– the three of us for turkey dinner. What’s wrong with that? The size of the gathering does not determine the amount of joy you feel in your heart on Christmas. Big gathering or small, it’s still Christmas.

Later, in the New Year there will be time to spend with our kids and grandkids. Yes, it’s Christmas and Christmas is for families but so is every other day of the year. I guess what I’m saying is that there’s no point in getting hung up on a date on a calendar page, enjoy the time you have with your family or friends whenever that is. Those moments are precious and we never know when they’ll come to an end.

Like I said, not changing my plans. And I’m fine with that. Last year sitting at my mother’s bedside has certainly made me appreciate the Christmas we will have this year.

I’m not sure if you’ve changed your holiday plans and whether that has been disappointing for you, I really hope it hasn’t. My wish is that you enjoy the day and have someone to share time, some turkey and memories.

Deciding What Matters Most

I’ve spent a lot of time hating the pandemic, feeling like a victim, a captive, while reading about its progression though-out the world. The weeks/ months of isolation when we couldn’t be near family and friends took a devastating toll upon many of us. In the beginning months, I sat mesmerized, horrified, in front of the TV, listening as many of us did. Horrified and yet oddly fascinated at the same time. Was this really happening to the world? For many months the pandemic was my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. The uncertainty we found ourselves in as we tried to sifted through news reports and info–deciding for ourselves what was real and what was false.

I’m not getting into any discussions on vaccinations or even the handling of this whole nightmarish event, but rather, what struck me this morning was our ability to find some good in the chaos that is now before us.

As with everything that appears bad on the outside, there is usually something good to be found if we choose to. I think that’s the optimal word here–choose. We have to choose to see the good, no matter how hard we might have to look.

We can look at the many acts of kindness that people have been a part of, the sometimes creative ways they have come up with to connect with one another without “physically” connecting. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people have realized that the things they previous held precious in this world have now suddenly changed. We value relationships more, and time spent with loved ones, not just giving it lip service, but actually feeling it. I know I do.

I can only imagine that as we head into another Christmas season during a pandemic, we will find a way to make the best of what we have.

We always have a choice in life as to how we will look at situations and circumstances. My hope, is that each of us will find a way to create special moments and make the choice to enjoy what is there before us rather than longing for the way Christmas used to be.

Publishing and the Supply Chain

We’ve all been hearing about disruptions in the supply chain and it’s no doubt going to effect most of us in one way or another. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic that has changed life as we know it.

A few weeks back my publisher sent out the same warning in a newsletter, letting us know that it might be hard to find the books we’re looking for. The letter also said, it’s very possible that we’ll even see empty shelves at our local bookstore or out of stock listings for certain books when ordering online. We were also warned that if and when titles run out, there could be “significant” delays in publishers having them reprinted. *Gulp*

There’s a great article on the Nimbus Blog —LET’S TALK SUPPLY CHAIN if you’d like to read more about it and exactly why and how this could effect the book industry and you.

According to this, if you’re looking to give books this year you might want to shop early. I know I’ve had a book on order from my local bookstore for several months now and it’s not come in, but I’m hopeful it will arrive for Christmas.

I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that we’re heading into the Christmas season again. But I’m seeing brightly lit Christmas trees in front of people’s windows and lots of other hints of the holidays. I have a friend who sends me lovely photos of her decorations. I’m sure at some point I’ll be struck by the Christmas spirit and will be anxious to start some preparations myself. I am hopeful that this year we’ll actually be able to celebrate Christmas with our families, which wasn’t the case last year. But I have family in New Brunswick as well. We’re not sure what will happen there since they are having problems controlling the virus at this time. It could be possible that travel will be restricted. But that will be a wait and see situation and there’s no point lamenting the reality of what’s going on in our world now.

My hope is as you head into the holiday season, you don’t encounter any shortages for the items on your list. Let’s all keep out fingers crossed.

Special Delivery

Have I said how much I love my publisher? It is true. Here is just a small example as to why.

Awhile back, my awesome publisher sent out a special delivery package to my granddaughter who is in another province and won’t be able to make it to Nova Scotia for Christmas this year. It will be the first time in ten years that we won’t get to see her. 

The outside packaging was a little beat up when it arrived in the mailbox, but the wrapped item inside made the trip quite nicely.

So many times, it is the small things that end up meaning so very much. This special delivery went above and beyond. Thank you Kate, and everyone at Nimbus Publishing!

So, what’s inside you might ask? I can’t answer that before Christmas, wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, you know.  You’ll have to check back in with me after Christmas to find out. But in the meanwhile you’re welcome to guess.

Hoping you all have a happy and safe holiday. 


Merry Bookmas to Me

I have no illusions that Christmas is going to be like every other year. In fact, I’m positive. How can it be? We’re in the midst of a pandemic. My family will not be able to come because of the restrictions that I don’t expect to be lifted in time to save Christmas. However, we’re making plans to celebrate later when it is safe for everyone. Disappointing? Absolutely. But we’ve all lived through disappointments. I refused to say that Christmas will be ruined. When we are able get together again the important part will be the actual getting together. That can happen anytime and we don’t need Christmas to do that.

So this Christmas, I decided to pick up some books to celebrate. I mean, if you can’t be with family, then spend your time reading. Right?

Here are some books I’m very anxious to get to, and to top it all off they’re from local Maritime authors. WALLS OF THE CAVE as been our for awhile now, but it’s one you shouldn’t miss. I’ve had BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE for a few weeks now and I just picked up BOY WITH A PROBLEM yesterday when I was in town. I’ll be reading them over the Christmas break.I’m sure I don’t have to remind any of you that buying local books, helps to support our local authors. And don’t forget our local books stores while you’re at it. Whenever possible support them as well. I know plenty of people pre-order books through Amazon, but did you know you can also do the same at your local Indie bookstore? Just saying.

And to satisfy my “young at heart side” THE HERMIT by Jan Coates and THE RISE AND FALL OF DEREK COWELL by Valerie Sherrard: two great novels for kids. I’ve already read the HERMIT (loved it) and am part way through THE RISE AND FALL OF DEREK CROWELL (loving it!)

These are just five books that have been taking up place in the Best household recently; five out of all the wonderful local Maritime books that are out there just waiting to find readers.

I’m not sure what your Christmas is shaping up to look like this year, but I hope you’ll consider giving either yourself, or someone on your gift list, a book from a local author. And because I’m always happy to promote other authors, please feel free to leave any book recommendations in the comment section of this blog. If you’re an author, feel free to give your own book a shout-out. We’d love to hear about your book.

Season’s Greetings

As  I watched the snow from inside my house today, it seemed like a good day to write a short blog post–my last one for 2018.  It also seemed like an even better day for decorating the Christmas tree and wrapping prezzies. Christmas is only a week away and yet I find myself, once again, scrambling to get everything done. Big surprise!

And all the while I’m preparing and thinking Christmas, there’s this nagging urge within me to start writing. Some days are like that, it seems that new ideas are prodding me, begging me to pay attention. Not to mention some stories that have been lurking in the shadows for some years now, following me around like the ghost of Jacob Marley. Oh… but then that would make me Scrooge, wouldn’t it? No, no, no. I’m not feeling like Scrooge today. Perhaps I’m more of a juggler, with several stories still up in the air. I like the thought of being a juggler of new ideas, new stories not yet told.

I always welcome New Year’s, knowing that I’ll able to spend more time writing, and hopefully finishing up some projects I began during the year. Winter is my official time to create. There is just something so new and special about a new year. I find it difficult to describe, and it’s not that I’m even a big fan of winter. Perhaps it’s the sense that, with a brand new year comes brand new hopes and dreams.

Earlier, I found a few very old–like 100 years old–postcards I wanted to share since Christmas and New Year’s are just around the corner.

I love the images on the old postcards, so nostalgic. (Not that I was around back then, but still…..)


Wouldn’t you just love to climb inside this image?

Wishing all my readers a wondrous and magically New Year. I hope to see you all in 2019, and hopefully I’ll continue to find new things to blog about!



Looking a Little Like Christmas

It seems like forever since I’ve taken time to blog. In my own defense, it’s been a busy few months. Luckily, things are slowing down at work and I can start preparing for Christmas. Whew! A lot to do in a little time. I considered giving everyone on my Christmas list a copy of Cammie Takes Flight but they all have copies, and wouldn’t that have been easy? Speaking of Cammie, I made a discovery today while at The Inside Story in Greenwood. I picked up a copy of Best Books for Kids and Teens 2017  put out by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and found out that Cammie was on that list. It also had a red star, which I found out means, “titles of exceptional caliber.” That is why it was also included in their Holiday reading list 2017. I’ve got to say, that feels like quite an honour and I’m very excited for Cammie. But as excited as I am about this, I’ve got to get real about Christmas. Less than two weeks and I still haven’t finished my shopping.

Each year, I try not to stress out too much about it. Christmas will come and go, as it always does, and somehow I’ll be ready. I’m creeping through the shopping and sometime this weekend I’ll do some baking. The tree will one day be decorated, it will, it will. Maybe the elves will chip in.

What I cherish most about Christmas is having the kids and grandkids home. Seriously, that’s all the gift I need. And I don’t even want to say “all the gift” because it’s a wonderful gift as memories and moments are created. These are the things that last, the things that never get old and never break. And this year, if the stars line up just right, Santa will make it to my house in East Dalhousie. So as much as I might enjoy a white Christmas, I’ll be glad if the weather cooperated and Miss Charlotte can hang put her stocking under our tree.

I’m looking forward to all that awaits me in 2018. Lots of family time and, who knows, maybe 2018 will be the year I sign that million dollar book contract. Wish me luck on that, people!

What are your plans for Christmas this year?

A Christmas Post

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

april-2012-026These past few weeks have been a very busy time. In keeping with the tradition I started many years ago, I’m scrambling to get all the Christmas preparations taken care of before the big day. Each year I vow that I’ll get my act together well before December and each year I stick with tradition. I am constant if nothing else.

But Christmas will come regardless. The important part is having the family near. I’ll be back blogging in the New Year and sharing all the news about my new book coming out in April 2017! Exciting times.

I hope your Christmas is filled with precious moments and that you are able to become a child again even for a few moments. Merry Christmas!

Do you have a  favourite Christmas traditions?

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