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Christmas Blog Hop party

This Christmas party is one with a difference. It was held on Christmas Day 1914 for Belgium refugees living in England after their villages had been overrun by the invading German army.

Like many women of the time, Elen, the heroine of ‘We That are Left’ had watched the men march proudly away in the summer of 1914 to rescue gallant little Belgium. By Christmas 1914 it was beginning to sink in that this was not going to be so simple, and the world would never be the same again – not least for women like Elen, taking over work they had once been considered to frail to even attempt, and embarking on a journey of self-discovery from which there was no return….

So come and join the Belgium refugees, who have lost everything, being taken to the hearts of their hosts in an English moat house for a Christmas of joy and tears.

And if you want to join in their celebrations, there’s nothing better than the legendary WW1 Seed Cake from ‘We That are Left’ – delicious at all times of the year!
  You can find the recipe HERE

Seed cake

And I’m giving away a signed copy of ‘We That are Left’. Leave a comment on this post to be entered into the draw – winners to be announced on Monday 23rd.

A Christmas Day reunion at the Moat House for Belgium Refugees – Christmas 1914

By a happy inspiration it was decided to extend an invitation to Belgians resident in the Borough who have passed through the Moat House Reigate, to partake of dinner at the Moat House on Christmas Day. A happy party numbering about 24 were enabled to respond to the invitation so kindly given and no efforts were spared to give them a right good time. Their happiness was contributed to in every way and everything possible was done to obliterate the sorrows of the past in the kindly hospitality lavishly dispensed. The Moat House was appropriately decorated for the occasion and the reunion proved of a most happy character. A Christmas dinner of good old English fare was served about 5 o’clock.

 

 

 

 

 

You can find a copy of ‘We That are Left’  published by Honno Press here:

UK     US

We that are left

 

Thank you for joining our party
now follow on to the next enjoyable entertainment…

 

1. Helen Hollick : You are Cordially Invited to a Ball
http://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/you-are-invited-to-party_17.html?

2. Alison Morton : Saturnalia surprise – a winter party tale
http://alison-morton.com/2014/12/20/saturnalia-surprise-a-winter-party-tale-and-giveaway/

3. Andrea Zuvich : No Christmas For You! The Holiday Under Cromwell http://www.andreazuvich.com/history/no-christmas-for-you-the-holiday-under-cromwell/

4. Ann Swinfen : Christmas 1586 – Burbage’s Company of Players Celebrates http://annswinfen.com/2014/12/christmas-party/

5. Anna Belfrage : All I want for Christmas
https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/all-i-want-for-christmas-the-christmas-party-blog-hop/

6. Carol Cooper : How To Be A Party Animal http://pillsandpillowtalk.com/2014/12/19/how-to-be-a-party-animal/

7. Clare Flynn : A German American Christmas http://www.clareflynn.co.uk/blog/a-german-american-christmas

8. Debbie Young : Good Christmas Housekeeping http://authordebbieyoung.com/2014/12/20/christmas/

9. Derek Birks : The Lord of Misrule – A Medieval Christmas Recipe for Trouble https://dodgingarrows.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-blog-hop-the-lord-of-misrule-a-medieval-christmas-recipe-for-trouble/

10. Edward James : An Accidental Virgin and An Uninvited Guest https://busywords.wordpress.com/an-accidental-virgin/
and https://busywords.wordpress.com/the-birthday-party/

11. Fenella J. Miller : Christmas on the Home front http://fenellamiller.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/christmas-on-home-front-and-giveaway.html

12. J. L. Oakley : Christmas Time in the Mountains 1907 https://historyweaver.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-time-in-the-mountains-1907/

13. Jude Knight : Christmas at Avery Hall in the Year of Our Lord 1804
http://judeknightauthor.com/2014/12/20/christmas-at-avery-hall-in-the-year-of-our-lord-1804/

14. Julian Stockwin: Join the Party http://julianstockwin.com/christmas-bloghop-join-the-party/

15. Lauren Johnson : Farewell Advent, Christmas is come” – Early Tudor Festive Feasts http://laurenjohnson1.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/farewell-advent-christmas-is-come-early-tudor-festive-feasting-christmas-party-blog-hop/

16. Lucienne Boyce : A Victory Celebration – http://francesca-scriblerus.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/a-victory-celebration.html

17. Nancy Bilyeau : Christmas After the Priory http://nancybilyeau.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/blog-hop-christmas-after-priory.html

18. Nicola Moxey : The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182 http://nickymoxey.com/2014/12/19/the-feast-of-the-epiphany-1182/

19. Peter St John: Dummy’s Birthday http://jennospot.blogspot.fr/2014/12/dummys-party.html

20. Regina Jeffers : Celebrating a Regency Christmas http://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/celebrating-a-regency-era-christmas/

21. Richard Abbott : The Hunt – Feasting at Ugarit http://richardabbott.authorsxpress.com/2014/12/19/the-hunt-feasting-at-ugarit/

22. Saralee Etter : Christmas Pudding — Part of the Christmas Feast http://saraleeetter.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-pudding-part-of-the-christmas-feast/

23. Stephen Oram : Living in your dystopia: you need a festival of enhancement… http://stephenoram.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/living-in-your-dystopia-13-you-need-a-festival-of-enhancement/

24. Suzanne Adair: The British Legion Parties Down for Yule 1780 http://www.suzanneadair.net/2014/12/19/the-british-legion-parties-down-for-yule-1780/

25. Lindsay Downs http://lindsaydowns-romanceauthor.weebly.com/lindsay-downs-romance-author/o-christmas-tree-o-christmas-tree

Thank you for joining us

Happy Christmas! Nadolig Llawen! 

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My room 2November is Novel Writing Month and to celebrate NaNoWriMo, Webucator is asking writers for their perspectives on novel writing and to answer the following questions. I may not be trying to write a novel in a month, but I’m in hermit and no-housework mode as I wrestle with finishing one – so I’m delighted to part in answering Webucator’s questions.

 

What were your goals when you started writing?

When I wrote my first novel at the grand age of ten, it was to create my own version of the worlds I adored in my favourite books. The author I loved most was Rosemary Sutcliff and her vivid historical novels – so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that I eventually ended up as a historical novelist.

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The writer’s life …

My room with a view!

My ideal writing room in beautiful Portmeirion. One day …..

When I began to write seriously as an adult, around fifteen years ago, my goal was simply to be published. I knew that what I was actually producing was turgid, pretentious, and dreadful, but somewhere inside me that flame from my childhood passion still burned. As I could feel myself beginning to improve with experience, and even had a few short stories published in magazines, I found a new goal – the one I now know I should have had from the start of my adult writing: to work with an editor.

That chance finally came when Honno Press liked the book that was to become ‘Eden’s Garden’ and gave me the chance to work with the wonderful Janet Thomas. No promise of publication, just to work with an editor. That year working with Janet was the biggest rollercoaster ride of my life. I always say it was like having a personal trainer: I was pushed and prodded and inspired to be more ambitious and explore more depths in my writing than I could ever have believed, and to be more rigorous in my approach. It was the year that changed both my life, and my writing. (And yes, there were times when I wanted to crawl into a corner and for it all to go away – but who said writing was easy?)

You can find out more about my experience on working with an editor HERE and about throwing the best bits away HERE

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The proud moment I first held ‘Eden’s Garden’ in my hands.

 

What are your goals now?

 To earn my living from my writing! It’s begun, but it’s a long, slow process. My two books for Honno Press ‘Eden’s Garden’ and ‘We That are Left’ both reached the top 5 in the Amazon Kindle store earlier this year, so I’m moving in the right direction, but I still earn very little from my writing. I also write serials as ‘Heather Pardoe’ for The People’s Friend magazine, which helps. I find the real problem is time: all writing is speculative unless you have a contract for several books or a serial has been commissioned. Bills arrive come what may! But I’m plodding on. My three month Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary to finish ‘We That are Left’ gave me a small taste. And when I think that only a few years ago just being published seemed an impossible goal and the word ‘bestselling novelist’ was a daydream, to even have this goal feels a miracle!

National Museums of Wales Book of the Month small

Becoming book of the month with ‘We That are Left’

 

 

What pays the bills now?

Some comes from my novels and serials and I have a small amount of PLR (Public Lending Right – the writer’s best friend) each year. But the majority still comes from an admin day job I do for one and a bit days a week, and I also work as a freelance academic proofreader, mainly for students with English as their second language. It’s fascinating – and good training for proofreading my own work.

 

Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?

I’d die if I didn’t. Like most writers, I sometimes wonder why exactly I put myself through the agony – but I know I couldn’t give it up if I tried. I don’t write to be rich (although that would be nice) but earn enough to be able to write. And I don’t care how long it takes …..

WWI Seed Cake

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Thank you to everyone who entered the two competitions to win the signed copies of ‘We That are Left’ as part of the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop.

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Phoebe sends her apologies for being late with her part of the draw. She has been feeling a bit delicate due to the fireworks surrounding Bonfire Night here in the UK. It’s raining today so she’s been able to concentrate on the task at hand.

And so the winners are …. (drumroll)

The winner of the Rafflecopter random draw is –  Piroska Blanchette!

Congratulations Piroska and signed copy is winging its way over the ocean towards you.

 

Phoebe has just completed her draw. We agreed that the first to fly out of the bowl would be the winner. In the end several shot off at once so it was the one that landed nearest the copy of ‘We That are Left.’

 

Phoebe choosing 3

Phoebe sets to work

Phoebe choosing 1

Entries go flying ….

 

Phoebe chosen

Phoebe approves the winner

And the winner of Phoebe’s draw from the hat/bowl is – Jen Fishler! 

Congratulations Jen and I’m just off to let you know the good news.

Thank you to everyone and I hope the winners enjoy ‘We That are Left’ – and try out the recipe for the WW1 poppy seed cake. Delicious.

There are 5 copies of my first book for Honno ‘Eden’s Garden’ currently in a Goodreads giveaway  – and watch this space for a chance to win signed copies of ‘Eden’s Garden’ here too.

Enjoy!

WW1 Seed Cake small

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Thank you to everyone who has entered the Rafflecopter draw to win a copy of ‘We That are Left’ (and which is still open). For all those who are not on Twitter (and anyone who would like two chances to win!) there’s now a second signed copy to be won. To enter the draw, all you have to do is to follow this blog and put a comment below this post. All names will be placed in a hat on November 6th and the winner will be chosen in time-honoured fashion by Phoebe the collie and announced on the blog.  You are welcome to enter both draws!

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The Author’s Secretary in action earlier this year

 

You can enter the Rafflecopter draw in the original post HERE

The ninth Literary Blog Hop this weekend (November 1st – 5th) is  Hosted by Judith@leeswammes.wordpress.com/

There are over 30 participants joining in the hop (you can find links to all of them at the end of this post), all offering exciting prizes for book lovers everywhere – so check them out!

As my part of the hop, I offering a chance to win a signed copy (which will wing its way to you wherever you may be, this side of Mars) of my novel ‘We That are Left’, which was published in February this year by the wonderful Honno Press.

“We That are Left’ is the story of the brave and resourceful women of the First World War, both at home and on the battlefields of France, and of one woman’s journey of self-discovery from which there is no going back. It is a story of friendship and survival, and includes original recipes and remedies of the time. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with the aid of a Writer’s Bursary from Literature Wales and in March 2014 was Waterstones Wales Book of the Month, Wales Independent Bookshops Book of the Month and Wales National Museums Book of the Month. At the same time, my previous book for Honno, ‘Eden’s Garden’ became a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’.  Over the summer, both books reached the top #5 in the Amazon Kindle store.

‘We That Are Left’

“August 4th, 1914: It was the day of champagne and raspberries, the day the world changed.”

Elin lives a luxurious but lonely life at Hiram Hall. Her husband Hugo loves her but he has never recovered from the Boer War. Now another war threatens to destroy everything she knows.

With Hugo at the front, and her cousin Alice and friend Mouse working for the war effort, Elin has to learn to run the estate in Cornwall, growing much needed food, sharing her mother’s recipes and making new friends – and enemies. But when Mouse is in danger, Elin must face up to the horrors in France herself.

And when the Great War is finally over, Elin’s battles prove to have only just begun.

Praise for ‘We That are Left’

“powerful and moving”
Trisha Ashley (http://trishaashley.com/)

“‘We That Are Left’ spans the four long, life-changing years of 1914-1918 and beyond, portraying the effects of the war not merely on the novel’s characters but on British society as a whole, capturing the final days of a passing era and way of life. It is beautifully written, wonderfully paced. There is romance, adventure and suspense. And there is, as in Eden’s Garden, quiet contemplation of the themes of grief, loss and loyalty, and of the way in which our past experiences shape our future selves. It is, quite simply, a riveting read.”

Suzy Ceulan Hughes, http://www.gwales.com

“There are few greater delights than a book that draws you in from the very first pages and immediately makes you care about what happens next, that demands your attention in every free moment you can conjure until the end.”
Claire McAlpine, Word by Word (http://clairemca.wordpress.com/)

CHECK OUT THE BRILLIANT BOOK LOVERS TAKING PART IN THE GIVEAWAY – JUST CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW.  

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self (N. Am.)
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books Speak Volumes
  7. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  8. Books on the Table (US)
  9. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  10. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  11. Words And Peace (US)
  12. Booklover Book Reviews
  13. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)

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literarybloghopnovember-1

 

I am delighted to be taking part in The ninth Literary Blog Hop this weekend (November 1st – 5th) Hosted by Judith@leeswammes.wordpress.com/

There are over 30 participants joining in the hop (you can find links to all of them at the end of this post), all offering exciting prizes for book lovers everywhere – so check them out!

As my part of the hop, I offering a chance to win a signed copy (which will wing its way to you wherever you may be, this side of Mars) of my novel ‘We That are Left’, which was published in February this year by the wonderful Honno Press.

“We That are Left’ is the story of the brave and resourceful women of the First World War, both at home and on the battlefields of France, and of one woman’s journey of self-discovery from which there is no going back. It is a story of friendship and survival, and includes original recipes and remedies of the time. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with the aid of a Writer’s Bursary from Literature Wales and in March 2014 was Waterstones Wales Book of the Month, Wales Independent Bookshops Book of the Month and Wales National Museums Book of the Month. At the same time, my previous book for Honno, ‘Eden’s Garden’ became a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’.  Over the summer, both books reached the top #5 in the Amazon Kindle store.

To win the signed copy simply enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below- all you have to do is tweet to be in with a chance!

(There’s now a second chance without using Rafflecopter – check out the next post here) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

‘We That Are Left’

“August 4th, 1914: It was the day of champagne and raspberries, the day the world changed.”

Elin lives a luxurious but lonely life at Hiram Hall. Her husband Hugo loves her but he has never recovered from the Boer War. Now another war threatens to destroy everything she knows.

With Hugo at the front, and her cousin Alice and friend Mouse working for the war effort, Elin has to learn to run the estate in Cornwall, growing much needed food, sharing her mother’s recipes and making new friends – and enemies. But when Mouse is in danger, Elin must face up to the horrors in France herself.

And when the Great War is finally over, Elin’s battles prove to have only just begun.

Praise for ‘We That are Left’

“powerful and moving”
Trisha Ashley (http://trishaashley.com/)

“‘We That Are Left’ spans the four long, life-changing years of 1914-1918 and beyond, portraying the effects of the war not merely on the novel’s characters but on British society as a whole, capturing the final days of a passing era and way of life. It is beautifully written, wonderfully paced. There is romance, adventure and suspense. And there is, as in Eden’s Garden, quiet contemplation of the themes of grief, loss and loyalty, and of the way in which our past experiences shape our future selves. It is, quite simply, a riveting read.”

Suzy Ceulan Hughes, http://www.gwales.com

“There are few greater delights than a book that draws you in from the very first pages and immediately makes you care about what happens next, that demands your attention in every free moment you can conjure until the end.”
Claire McAlpine, Word by Word (http://clairemca.wordpress.com/)

CHECK OUT THE BRILLIANT BOOK LOVERS TAKING PART IN THE GIVEAWAY – JUST CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW.  

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self (N. Am.)
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend
  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books Speak Volumes
  7. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  8. Books on the Table (US)
  9. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  10. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  11. Words And Peace (US)
  12. Booklover Book Reviews
  13. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)

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Old wellies never die – they become growers of garlic!

Today I’m blogging on the Novelistas Blog about how I’ve loved seeing the gardens in this year’s Chelsea Flower Show commemorating the First World War. You can read the post HERE, and you can find my favourite garden, the Potter’s Garden HERE.

As I learnt in my research, many grand gardens were abandoned during the war, as the men left. But many new gardens were created to grow much-needed food, by women, schoolchildren and conscientious objectors, along with men too old or too young, or otherwise unable, to fight on the battlefields.  As WW1 dragged on, and shortages increased, many discussions appeared in the newspapers of the time, like this one from 1916, expressing a very modern outrage at NIMBYism (Not in My Back Yard), but with a chilling twist, that brings home the reality of daily life for its first readers: ‘We are living in the 20th century in the time of the greatest war ever known …‘ You can read the original HERE.

 

Derby telegraph allotments 1916

Derby Telegraph December 1916 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

 

By 1918, the arguments had settled down into a dealing with the practicalities. Here,  in 1918, home grown food supplies are discussed alongside home rule for Ireland and the exchange of prisoners. You can read the original HERE

 

Liverpool Echo allotments 1918

Liverpool Echo May 1918 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

Also in May 1918, the newspapers announced that Britain was almost self-sufficient in bread – alongside a report of a recruiting rally for the Women’s Land Army in Exeter – the delicate creatures of the pre-war world (excluding the Suffragettes, of course, who didn’t count as real women at all) have clearly gone forever! You can read the original HERE.

Land army 1918 Western Times

Western Times May 1918 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

Where I get my delicious veg box each summer – this must have been a familiar sight in WW1, wherever you lived.

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we that are left draft 6aug13 smWhen I began creating a book trailer for ‘We That Are Left’, just after Christmas, I thought it was going to be relatively easy.

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In Glynllifon’s grounds

After all, I have iMovie (which makes creating a video as easy as falling off a log, which is my kind of easy), and I cut my teeth on my trailer for my first book for Honno Press, Eden’s Garden. I’d done all the hair pulling out and cursing and wishing computer programs (yes, even you, my beloved iMovie) had better instructions. Well, actually, INSTRUCTIONS, might be a good start. Hey ho.

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In front of Glynllifon house

Luckily, I remembered most of the technical stuff. Even the Ken Burns effect, which still leaves me amazed. And slightly befuddled, but luckily it seems to just work, whatever you do to it.

This time, it was what to put in the trailer that had me scratching my head. Eden’s Garden is about gardens, and I love gardens. I had photographs I’d taken of the main garden inspiration. This time it was about The Great War.

I’d originally been planning to use stock photographs from the war, but I could find very few, and the ones I liked I discovered, with further investigation, I could not use. Or I wasn’t quite sure if I could use, and so felt nervous about using them, if you see what I mean. Particularly in the year of the centenary, the First World War feels a very public event.

So in the end I returned to my own photographs to create the impression I was looking for, with a bit of tweaking of colours, a few effects and a liberal use of sepia to give an aged look. A visit to Glynllifon gave me many of the images, as did my own beautiful washstand that I use as a kitchen unit. My first attempt was lacking in faces and people. I had a look again for photographs of the time, but ended up just as confused by the permissions.

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The original photograph

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With a bit of tweaking (thank goodness for the sepia effect!)

Then I remembered a magical walk in the deep snow last year with a friend who was wearing a beautiful old coat (we hadn’t planned to go that far, but had been entranced by the falling snow and the Narnia effect). And there it was.

I was very lucky to have original music from Silvarco’, a Welsh musician who writes progressive and experimental folk music.  I’d fallen in love with ‘Reverence’ the moment I heard it. Having original music is a real pleasure and a privilege. You can download the track of  ‘Reverence’ here.

In the end, I loved creating the trailer, just as much as I had done the one for Eden’s Garden. And okay, if I had the chance to have a professional trailer like the one for Kate Morton’s ‘The Distant Hours’ , which is my favourite of all time, I’d jump at it. But then I might not have had half so much fun and or the sense of satisfaction when finally (after much tweaking and more than a little cursing) my book trailer for ‘We That are Left’ was born.

You can watch the video by clicking on the picture below from the magical walk in the snow with my friend Jan, who helped me find so many of the recipes for ‘We That Are Left’, as well as playing a role in the trailer.  (Beware an author with a camera …..) 🙂

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Enjoy!

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