Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas To All

"Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept."
From A Child's Christmas in Wales
by Dylan Thomas 

Merry Christmas to All
I can wish you all no better feelings than those expressed above:  
 Love, Beauty, and Peace.

My sincere thanks to all my readers for the kindness you have shown me again this year.  I truly have the best readers in the whole, wide world. Your letters, your comments, your friendship - all continue to inspire me, comfort me, and make me smile.  I am thrilled beyond measure that so many of you have included Edward Speaks at Midnight in your Christmas celebrations this year, and hope this book will be a part of your family holidays for years and years to come. 

As we all return home this week, whether literally or figuratively, and begin to put this old year to bed, may we look forward to a new landscape where no footsteps have yet trod; shining new days unwrinkled by worry; a dozen new months with unwritten blank pages to fill with beautiful, adventurous words.  
We will soon be given a brand new year. 
 A wonderful gift indeed.
Love to you all!

and Edward, too

***See more of Edward's Christmas
on our Instagram page - HERE**

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

In The Close and Holy Darkness

In The Close and Holy Darkness

Several years before he died my Father, who loved Christmas with the passion of a child, came home with a new-fangled Christmas tree.  Small enough to fit on a table, it held no threat to the large fir tree that always stood by the fireplace, but it commanded a certain unique attention nonetheless.  It was a fiber optic tree, changing colours as though bewitched whenever you plugged it in.  Mother tolerated it because she loved Daddy, but Daddy simply adored that crazy tree and would turn off all the lights to show it off to any and all visitors.  Having inherited his love of the holiday season, I myself put up three large trees in my house but have now also found the perfect spot for his strange, colourful oddity on the screened porch off my bedroom.  On cold, dark nights, when I wrap up in a tartan blanket and sit beside it,  that tree swirls its outlandish light all around me and I swear I can hear the holiday laughter of my Dad.  Another wonderful memory given to me by my Father.

As someone blessed with the invaluable gift of a happy childhood, I am beholden to tradition.  In doing the same things in the same way every Christmas, I perform a conjuring more potent than any wizard could master.  Those who’ve gone on before glitter and glow all around me and incarnations of my former selves follow me round, giggling and grinning, emitting the ethereal warmth of sweet memory.  Every year I stir my famous Christmas fudge with the same wooden spoon that rested in my Mother’s hands as she did the exact same thing December after December.   Every year I unwrap a tiny, perfect porcelain angel and place it on the side table in my sitting room.  It was given to me by my Great-Aunt Susie the year I was born.  I always watch White Christmas when I wrap presents and I always listen to A Child’s Christmas in Wales each and every Christmas Eve.  My voyages into the past at this festive season are as sweetly anticipated as any summer holiday and my memories are all the tickets I need.

There are those in my life not blessed as I, for whom the holiday season holds no comforting memories but only the pain of loss and lack.  The past is not a country they wish to visit and Christmas only underscores this feeling.  But if the Holy season teaches us anything, it is that life can begin again - hope can blossom on the deadest branch, love can rise from ash.  As I learned from my Dad through that strange little tree he brought home late in his life, we are never too old to create new memories that are destined to delight our souls and bring a special enchantment to this season of joy. 

Three years ago a new family moved into our neighborhood.  Their first Christmas here they put on a live nativity play, complete with sheep and donkeys, with neighbourhood children in the roles of the Holy family, the shepherds, the wise men and the angels.   This charming production has continued and last night I stood in the cold with my hands in my pockets alongside my neighbors to watch this year’s performance take place.  A tiny little blonde in a pink dress with homemade paper wings swung her arms back and forth as she said to us all, “Fear Not, for Behold, I bring you Good Tidings of Great Joy” and I smiled, feeling privileged to be present at the creation of so many shining new memories. For make no mistake, this little girl will remember this cold night in December; her heart is now engraved with the magic of this event.  Like a good fairy, it will wait for her in the close and holy darkness of each Christmas as the magic of my memories wait for me.  

May we always be mindful of the memories we are fashioning, for ourselves and for others.  While no one can change their past, we all possess astonishing power over our futures.  It is my prayer to create as many happy memories as I possibly can, particularly over the festive season.  I wish the same for each and every one of you.
Happy,  Merry Christmas to you All.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Books For Christmas - The Shopping List

Books For Christmas  
The Shopping List

After the party is over, after the guests have gone.  After I’m done stirring fudge and icing cakes. After the last card is written, the last present wrapped. A cold wind rattles the window as December blows outside.  The fire quietly crackles and hums in the old stone fireplace, the Christmas tree casts jewels of color on the darkened walls and Edward softly snores at my feet.  The setting could not be more perfect.  This is when I pick up a book.   

As much as books are famous for coming with us to the beach, as much as we reach for them on a plane, or a train, or when we’re perched in the passenger seat of a car, there is really nothing better than winter reading by your own fireside.  Is it any wonder books are my favorite gift to give at Christmas?  It’s like giving tickets to other worlds - other voices, other rooms - whenever I wrap up a book for a friend.   Matching the perfect book to the perfect person is a celebration of that friendship, so shopping for them is delicious fun.  You want the book you choose to compliment the interests and personality of the friend you’re shopping for and when you find just the right one, you know it.  I love giving books at Christmas!  And yes, I always find few for myself as well.  Double fun.

Here are a few, well more than a few actually, of the books that have caught my eye this year. 
 I hope they entice you to feel as I do. 
As always, click on the photo to find out more.
 Give Books for Christmas!  
And have fun shopping!

Edward Speaks At Midnight
A Christmas Story
by Pamela Terry
(I have to start off with my favorite!
A special thanks to all of you who have 
sent such adorable photos of your family
reading this book!  I'm thrilled you like it!
Makes me, and Edward, smile.)

The Yorkshire Shepherdess
by Amanda Owen

The House of Owls
by Tony Angell

Love, Style, Life

by Garance Dore

The Private Life of an English Field
by John Lewis-Stempel

A Day at the Beach
by Geoffrey Wolff

The Lake House
by Kate Morton

Thirteen Ways of Looking
by Colum McCann

Do Unto Animals
by Tracey Stewart

The Bronte Sisters
by Catherine Reef

My Kitchen Year
by Ruth Reichl

Call the Nurse
True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle
by Mary J. Macleod

by Mary Oliver

The Summer Book
by Tove Jansson

Stories of Art and Artist
Everyman's Pocket Classics

A Curious Friendship
by Anna Thomasson

The Year of Cozy
by Adrianna Adarme

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Rolling Blue Ocean

A Rolling Blue Ocean

The rain of the past few days had only recently stopped and a slight rise in temperature conspired with a December wind to create a mist that rose from the streets like wood smoke.  I was making my way back home from the market, the passenger seat of my wee little Fiat overflowing with oranges, flowers and pecans, and a ever-growing number of tasks jostling for priority in my mind, when I saw them up ahead, darting in and out of heavy traffic.  Two dogs, a large Goldendoodle and a diminutive Dachshund in a bright green winter coat, their furry faces wearing  tell-tale expressions of glee and fear, those warring emotions common to the recently escaped beloved pet.  My heart froze to ice as I saw them narrowly scrape past disaster as a large sedan blew by.  I slammed on my brakes in the middle of the street and threw open my passenger door even as I knew there was no room inside for these two, my mind racing with fear.  Suddenly, all around me,  on both sides of the busy street, cars began stopping.  A red pickup truck, a sleek BMW.  A mother and daughter jumped out of a large SUV; a grey-suited elderly man climbed out of a Cadillac.  The dogs had now bounded all the way across the street and were apparently reveling in this wild new game with so many eager participants.  The elderly man finally proved to have the touch, as the big dog, his little green-coated friend following, came closer and closer to him.  They were going to be fine!  Both were sporting bright red collars which no doubt had the needed information on their tags to get these two back home safely.  Exhaling, finally breathing, I started up my car and went on my way.  
And that’s when it happened. I began to cry.  Fat wet tears that couldn’t be explained or stopped.  They fell behind my large sunglasses and splattered onto my coat as I tried to figure out where they were coming from.  It didn’t take much thought to work it out.

There is much meanness in the world today, it is impossible to ignore.  Every week it seems, we are hit with this reality like a cold slap in the face.  The words of the paper tigers and straw men currently cast in the sideshow of a presidential campaign only seem to bolster the worst of human nature and only increase my feelings of impotence in the face of such bleakness.  My efforts to brighten the corner in which I live, my devotion to creating a more beautiful, kinder world around me, all can seem as bootless and lame as mice before lions and the cliffs of despair can beckon my soul towards the edge.  But as I sat in my little car on that busy afternoon, heart thumping in fear for the fate of those two dogs, other like-minded people began to appear, in droves.  Each car that stopped surrounded me like a cavalry of support and each person that got out to help was a balm of affirmation to my bruised heart of the goodness of those all around me.  I was not alone.  We are not all - as the news would have us believe - hateful, ignorant beasts.  Nor are we all without compassion, devoid of empathy, or bent on revenge.   There are good people all around me, people who have my back when I feel incapable or low, people whose ideas burn bright when my own are feeble and inadequate, people who reach out their hand to pull me up.   The tears that tumbled down my cheeks were manifestations of gratitude called forth from a beleaguered heart; they told me how much I had been holding inside, and they continued to fall all the way home.

More than any other time of year,  good will is bubbling near the surface just now, often spilling over into a special joy as unexpected as it is welcome.   Especially now, I wish you all the same realization that was presented to me like a gift.  We are not alone in our wish for a better world.  Perhaps we cannot do it all, but each tiny little offering of mercy and beauty that we hold out to the world can flow downstream with the kindness of others till it becomes a rolling blue ocean of good.  I do believe that, and I’m grateful for the reminder.

Goodness is achieved not in a vacuum, 
but in the company of other men, 
attended by love.

Saul Bellow 


A special thank you to all the many sweet people who came to my Atlanta book signing for Edward Speaks At Midnight on Sunday.  I am humbled by your love for this Christmas book and thrilled to know it will be a small part of your celebrations this year, and for years to come.  
If you want a copy under your tree, order soon! 
Much love and thanks to you all.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Edward Goes To France...

 Edward Speaks at Midnight 
lands on a doorstep in the French Countryside!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Shopping: The List

Christmas Shopping
The List
While I am seriously irritated by the ubiquity of the modern-day term “Black Friday” - which in my view sounds more like a horror movie than any sort of festive start to the holiday shopping season - I do confess to love choosing gifts for those near and dear to me each year.   I also confess that since I do this all year long (whenever I’m traveling or in a special shop, I’m always Christmas shopping) my gift list is already checked off.  (Don’t get mad at me… I also make a lot of gifts, so I’m doing that all year as well.) 

So it’s with a relaxed pace that I wander through the stores this season.  And I really love it.  Yes, I stay far away from the cattle yards of mega-stores and malls, preferring instead those little shops where a silver bell jangles when I open the door, the wooden floors creak a little as I wander through, and the air smells of old books, paperwhites, and mulled cider.  Occasionally I find a treasure or two in these places, but the atmosphere itself holds so much of the sort of Christmas magic that I seek out just now, that is often treasure enough.  I always make time to stop for people-watching in a cafe or coffee shop or a stroll through a Christmas tree lot.  I stop to try on extravagant hats.  I flip through expensive books and get a sack full of Christmas cookies in the local bakery.  It’s magic, it’s festive, it’s fun.

 That’s rather what I hope you’ll find at the start of my own Christmas shopping season here at The House of Edward as you take a look through a few specially selected treats chosen to charm and tempt you. 
 After all, the holidays are coming, whether we’re ready or not.
  And aren’t we glad they are!  

1.  Book
Of course the number one gift here this year is my brand-new children’s book,
Edward Speaks at Midnight, A Christmas Story. 
I have been both astonished and so grateful for all the many orders placed.  Books are currently being shipped all over the world and letters are beginning to come in; letters which make me incredibly happy…

Thank you for the wonderful book, Edward Speaks at Midnight. What a heartwarming story with beautiful illustrations!  Edward is so wise. We wish he would run for President.  Apple is dear to our cheese-loving hearts”….

I collect special christmas children's books. Only I don't consider them children's books at all.  Just as this one is not only for children. It's for EVERYONE! Everyone who believes in love and what's best about Christmas.”….

We know a lot of these books are being purchased for holiday gifts, so the elves at Wild Bouquet Press want me to tell you that they will be happy to wrap your order for Christmas if you wish.  Just indicate this on the order form under “special instructions”.  And keep writing… I love hearing where these books will spend the holidays! 
Find your copy HERE

2.  Handkerchiefs
My Father was never without a handkerchief. 
These are updated with a touch of irresistible whimsy and style.
Love them.
Find them HERE.

3.  Snowflake Cake Pan
Just imagine the cakes you’ll create for your holiday table!
Find this fabulous pan HERE

4. Christmas Cakes
  Here in the Southern part of the US, our holiday cake is often Red Velvet, but across the pond, Christmas Cake is fruitcake.  Not the sort of fruitcake that can easily double as a doorstop.  Not the sort you find sold in Southern drugstores, either.  The British Christmas Cake is something altogether different and delectable.  And I have it on good authority that the best of best of the British Christmas Cakes can be ordered from the Edminston sisters of London.  Portia, Pandora and Scarlett’s secret family recipe has been perfected through three generations and is oh, so, sorely tempting.
Find them HERE.

5.  Book and Candle
I learned about these wonderful candles from the pretty red-haired girl who works at my favourite, world’s best,  yarn shoppe.  She loved them, and I so agree.  Each candle creates the fragrance of certain bookish locations… 
For instance, the above “Christmas In The Great Hall” 
smells like Mistletoe, Gingerbread, Cinnamon, Peppermint.
  Of course! 
Then there’s “Sherlock’s Study”, 
which smells of Sweet Pipe Tobacco, Cherrywood, and Fresh Rain.
With fragrances of “Through the Wardrobe”, “Sassenach”, “Reading at the Cafe’, or “Oxford Library”, just to name a few.  Imagine giving someone a gorgeous copy of Pride and Prejudice with a “Pemberley Gardens” candle. 
Find them all HERE

6.  Big Fat Stuffed Animals
I’m crazy about these.
Enough to buy one for myself possibly.
I’m partial to the Corgi, of course.
But the Dinosaur's pretty cute, too.
Find them all HERE

7.  Santa Mugs
They’re back!
My favorite holiday mugs.
Find them HERE
and to put in these mugs....
7b.  Horlicks Light Chocolate Malt
Though my British friends are shaking their heads right now, 
I have to say that I absolutely love Horlicks Light Chocolate Malt drink.  
Give me a hot Santa mug of this, by the fire.  
Add a good book and a couple of furry dogs and I’m so very happy.  Also, for some inexplicable reason,
 I sleep like a baby after I drink a cupful. 
Find it HERE

8.  Fair Isle Gloves
Wintertime means my paws are in gloves almost all the time. 
And the ones I love most are the ones I purchased 
on a blustery day in Shetland. 
Handknit by a Shetlander named Agnes Bowie, 
they are gorgeous and incredibly warm.
You can find a pair like this for yourself,
 or for a special person,

9.  Liberty Sewing Machine
Love, love, love.
Find it HERE

10.  Ushanka Hats
Unbelievably fetching.  
Absolutely faux.
Find them HERE

Have fun!
Christmas Book List Coming Soon!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;
 they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

Happy Thanksgiving to All My Readers
You make me happy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Dinner Party Fantasy, for BIO

A Dinner Party Fantasy
for By Invitation Only

When I was young the movie Out of Africa ticked all the boxes for me, and for many of my friends.  Of course it boasted Robert Redford who, though miscast, still rivaled the beauty of the African landscape.  The costumes made us all want to wear safari hats and kente shawls, certain we’d mirror Meryl Streep if we did so.   And then there was the farm house.  Oh, that glorious house.  I still remember how my heart quickened with desire when I saw that exquisite floral linen on Karen Blixen’s overstuffed sofa and chairs.  I toyed with the idea of draping my bed in mosquito netting and purchasing a cuckoo clock for my sitting room, so strong was my desire to duplicate the magic of that house.  And my favorite scene in the film, even more so that the swoon-worthy hair wash by the river, was the candlelit dinner party when Finch-Hatton requests “a story”......  

Karen:   “Whenever I tell a story to my nieces at home, one of them always provides the first sentence.”

Finch-Hatton - “Anything?”

Karen:  “Absolutely anything.”

Finch-Hatton:  “There was a wandering Chinese named Cheng Huan, living in Limehouse, and a girl named… Shirley…”

Karen:  “Whooo …spoke perfect Chinese.  Which she learned from her missionary parents…..”

Her voice drops to a conspiratorial whisper as she stares into the candlelight and we are off to the races.  I was completely entranced and this has since been my template for the quintessential dinner party ever since.    Of course to have this sort of dinner party guests have to be chosen carefully and that’s where I’m lucky.  I have a wild bouquet of options when it comes to choosing who might fill the chairs round my table, each one more than capable than the last of regaling the gathering with fascinating tales, rapier wit, and laughter, all vital ingredients for a perfect dinner party.  Is there anything better that listening to your guests spin tales over the remnants of a glorious meal while the candles burn down low to paint flickering shadows across captivated faces?  Bliss.

Here in the states this week, we are filling grocery carts with sweet potatoes and cinnamon, green beans and pumpkin puree.  Flowers are being bought and arranged, pies are baking, bread is rising, all in preparation for the ultimate meal of our calendar year, Thanksgiving.  I can think of no better time than now to create my fantasy dinner party guest list and so I thank Marsha for this opportunity to let my imagination run wild, which is precisely what I expect these guests of mine to do, as they are all brilliant, funny and inventive.  For fun, I thought I’d request a story from each of them, much like Finch-Hatton requested of Karen, and to complete the fantasy, I’m providing each of them with a first sentence.  

Stephen Fry…. 
“The hands of the clock were frozen at twelve - midnight or noon, Geoffrey did not know - and the room was as cold as a Christmas icicle….”

Emma Thompson… 
“The Corgi had been the smallest of the litter, something his brothers and sisters never once let him forget….”

Nathan Lane…. 
“Jeremy sat up suddenly, stunned and a little embarrassed to find himself surrounded by candy wrappers and confetti, the detritus of an evening he could neither explain nor remember….”

JK Rowling… 
“The rain had begun suddenly, the way spring rains sometimes do, and Marguerite wondered as she sat on the train in her new linen dress what precise character flaw had influenced her decision to travel this far without any assurances that Leonora would even remember her name…”

Michael Palin
 “It was said that the mountain cave was haunted, a legend for which Freddie publicly expressed disdain…but privately….”

Tina Fey 
“Lois had never intended to steal another pair of shoes but her guilt was assuaged by the fact that these were on sale...."

Meryl Streep…. 
“Fiona could only speak Gaelic and now that she was finally standing in the middle of Times Square she realized how ill-advised it had been to come to New York alone…”

After the stories,  I’d have Alan Rickman read the poem Ithaka,
 just because I adore his voice…

and then, just at the close of the evening,  
I’d ask Sir Paul McCartney to sing Blackbird.

A dream dinner party, indeed!
Happy Thanksgiving to All!

For more essays on this topic, go HERE.
And to have your copy of 
Edward Speaks at Midnight, A Christmas Story 
under someone’s tree for Christmas, 
order now… HERE.

Thanks and xoxo!