About Susanne Matthews

I'm a retired high school English teacher turned author. I'm Canadian. My husband and I have been married 48 years and have 3 children and 5 grandchildren, as well as 2 step-grandchildren.  I enjoy traveling, especially somewhere warm in winter.

It’s that Time of Year: Getting Ready for Christmas

As a Canadian, I celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday in October, not the fourth Thursday in November. What does that mean? Essentially, it gives me more time to get ready for Christmas since I don’t have another holiday feast to prepare in what’s basically a four-week period.

Whew! Since turkey is our traditional Christmas meal as well as our Thanksgiving one, we have a couple of months between each gargantuan meal. It also gives me more time to shop, but as the grandkids get older, there’s less of that involved and more e-transfers! In the picture on the right, this is me and my mother. A long tome has passed since then, but so far, I still have her with me.

Every year, Christmas is just a little bit different. Who can forget the COVID years? But, no matter what, our Christmas traditions remain the same. For example, our eldest son will come home for a week. We’ll go up to Upper Canada Village for Alight at Night. We’ll attend Christmas Eve Service, followed by a gift exchange since we can’t always be together on Christmas Day, and we’ll chat on the phone or through Facetime with those far away who can’t make it home. We’ll also visit my mother in the nursing home on Christmas morning. The baby in the third picture is the blonde in the second. She’s in the arms of her paternal great-grandmother who passed several years ago. Photographs keep memories alive. The last picture shows my grand-daughter in Norway. Memories, some sad, some happy are what we cling to all the days of our lives.

Starting on Friday, and for each ot the subsequent day until December 25th, my daughter’s family will removed one gift from the tree pictured here. Behind each gift is a thought for the day. Examples include, wash the dishes without being asked, or say hello to someone new, random acts of kindness that can brighten someone’s day. Of course they’ll be accompanied by a Christmas treat, but you get the idea. My seventeen-year-old grand-daughter painted this last year, and it’s now part of their family tradition.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember the real reason we celebrate the season. I saw a meme that said, on Thanksgiving, we celebrate all that we have and for which we’re grateful. The next day, we’ll fight tooth and nail for something on sale, even when we don’t need it. We may not celebrate Thanksgiving here in Novemeber, but we certainly embrace and celebrate Black Friday.

Moving along … We all see the Salvation Army Santas with the bells and kettles. Some of us can afford to be generous while others, thanks to circumstances not always in their control, need that generosity. Sadly, this year more than ever, it’s important to do what we can for others. The world is an absolute mess. There are wars raging in more places than I can name, some being fought in the name of religion, others, for territory, and still more for a combination of the two. People are at one another’s throats all over the world. There are mass-shootings, racially motivated riots, brutal attacks on others based on their religion, color, or sexual identification and preference.

So here is my Christmas wish for this world!

Wishing you all peace and joy this holiday season. It doesn’t matter how or what you celebrate, what matters is that you do and remember to be kind to others..

If you’re looking for some great holiday reading, check out the ABB’s Chritmas collections including Irresistable Scrooges

And Unforgettable Christmas Wonders.

Nanny’s Remedy for the Sweet Tooth Blues

Do you have a sweet tooth? If you regularly crave sweets, like candy, chocolate, cookies, and cakes, would prefer a handful of gummies to chips or popcorn for a snack, or feel that any meal without dessert just isn’t right, then the chances are that you have a sweet tooth. But don’t despair. According to the experts, people with a fondness for sweets tend to be friendly, cooperative, and compassionate.

Like many people, I have a sweet tooth, but mine is often hard to satisfy since I’m allergic to peanuts, all tree nuts, and chocolate. I heard you gasp, but sadly it’s true–and it includes anything with cocoa butter, so no Easter chocolate for me. I satisfy my sweet cravings with jujubes, vanilla fudge, and licorice.

But sometimes, even those don’t suffice, and that’s when I put on my apron and dig out Nanny’s recipe for butterscotch pie. This recipe dates to the turn of the twentieth century, My grandmother left us many years ago, but her recipes live on in my memories. This was one of my favorites. Don’t judge it by its picture. LOL I usually use a frozen pie crust but opted to make my own. It was good, but far from pretty. I should’ve piped the edge with whipped cream!.

Nanny’s Butterscotch Pie


1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

Use either a frozen pie crust or your own favorite pie crust recipe.


1 cup packed light brown sugar

    4 tablespoons cornstarch

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    2 cups milk

    2 egg yolks, beaten

    1 tablespoon butter

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    In top of double boiler, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to thicken, about 20 minutes.

    Whisk in egg yolks; continue to cook and stir until filling is thickened.

    While pudding mixture is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Remove filling from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla.

    Pour filling into prepared pie crust. Bake in preheated oven until top begins to brown, about 5 minutes.

    Serve with real whipped cream or ice cream.

    And of course, baking a pie meant pets de soeurs, which translates to English as Nuns’ Farts, a name that always made us laugh, but we loved them.

    Pets de soeurs 



     brown sugar


     cinnamon (optional)


    Left over pie dough although you can make fresh dough if this is your sole baking project


    Roll the dough (into a rectangle shape) on a lightly floured board. The dough should be as thin as pie crust.

    Butter the dough and cover with brown sugar. Add cinnamon if desired.

    Roll the dough into a cylinder and cut into rounds about 3/4 inch thick. Then place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.


    And while you’re snacking on something sweet, why not settle back an enjoy some Halloween reading with The Tigress, only 99 cents USD for October. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z5F4VNZ

    See you next month!

    This, That, and the Other Thing!

    Another year almost gone! It’s hard to believe that summer is over and fall has arrived. The nights are cooler, the days are still warm and sunny, at least in my little corner of the world. But that will change soon enough. When I go out in the morning, the dew on my car windows has to be wiped off with a towel, but soon that will turn to frost. It’s come close a couple of nights.

    As one of my friends put it, only in Canada will you scrape the ice off your windshield to go golfing.

    Watching the weather news, I’m appalled with the kind of weather so many are experiencing again this year–hurricanes, tornadoes, weather bombs, flooding, and even droughts. If we could move the rain to the drought-stricken areas, it might help, but not even the smartest scientists know how to do that. Last night on the news, I watched as they showed the mighty Columbia River whose water levels are lower than they’ve ever been.

    Isn’t it time that even the skeptics agree that climate change is real? I’ve heard arguments on both sides of the story, and even if this is just another stage in this planet’s growth and development, we need to consider what we can do to adapt. Doing what we’ve been doing isn’t working!

    There were more forest fires from lightning strikes this year than ever, not to mention those caused by human stupidity–kids playing with matches, people burning garbage, and people setting off fireworks without the proper precautions.

    And there’s the political mess we’re in. Wars, posturing, threats, inflation, deflation, homelessness … It reminds me of the Billy Joel song, We Didn’t Start the Fire. Everything happening today is simply an extension of what happened in the past. We couldn’t stop it then, and we’re still trying to stop it now. Change? Growing pains? Whatever we want to call them, they’re definitely painful.

    Autumn isn’t my favorite time of year. Sure, I like pumpkin spice, the brilliant reds and oranges of the maple leaves, the milder orange and gold of the oaks, and the yellows of the birches set against the evergreens. Fall is full of birthday celebrations in my family, too, which should make it a happy occasion.

    My mother turns 96 on Friday and my husband will be 74 in October. Two of my granddaughters will be 16 and 17 in November and my eldest son will be 51 that month, too. Before fall is finished, my eldest grandson will turn 18. I remember turning 18. I had such grand plans … While that all contributes to my feeling old, it saddens me even more to think that my generation may have made things worse rather than better for them.

    Fall is also filled with some sad memories. I lost my father 4 years ago come October. He was my rock, and I miss him every day. Grief is different for everyone. For some, it’s a crippling pain that can’t be assuaged. For others, it’s an ongoing sense of sorrow that eventually leads to remembering the good old days.

    It never goes away completely, but given time, it’s possible to move on. For some, that time might be weeks, months, or even years. For others, they haven’t reached that spot yet.

    I remember my dad’s smile and his sense of humor. He also had a great imagination which he passed on to me. I feel closest to him when I’m writing. He was very proud of what I accomplished with my books. His favorite was On His Watch.

    So, as I walk into fall, I’ll enjoy the scents and sights, laugh and celebrate, but I’ll also take a quiet moment to sit and think about Dad. I believe he would be thrilled to see that I’m still writing.

    Looking for something to read on those dull days coming our way? Check out the boxsets available from the ABB.

    Highlights, Lowlights, and Inspiration: My Summer Vacation

    Back when I was teaching English in secondary school, the first assignment of the year was always “How I Spent my Summer Vacation.” Back then, a time equivalent to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, students would grab their pens and/or pencils, and after a round of groans, moans, and ‘I didn’t do anything,” they would settle down to the task.

    Surprisingly, most would end up with a tale or two about one incident or another that had happened over the course of the two month break from school. I used these quickly written paragraphs to give me insight into the students and their current ability levels.

    Now that I’ve retired from teaching, I’m the one writing compositions on my summer vacation. What goes around, comes around. As you may recall, this was my first international vacation since COVID and my second overseas flight. How did it start? With the flight being cancelled after having spent ten hours at the airport. The Business Class lounge is nice but not that nice!

    The airline did provide us with a hotel room and meals, but we lost a day of the time we expected to spend with family. Still, twenty-four hours later, we made it to Norway, so exhausted that I fell asleep at the table! All that aside, the first leg of our journey was underway. Below are images of the Telemark Canal Cruise and the Dalen Hotel.


    Blue skies, mountains, and nature

    It you’re ever in Norway and are close enough to indulge yourselves, I highly recommend this. The cruise was fantastic, the staff friendly and helpful, and the meal at the Dalen Hotel, an exquisite four course meal with a different wine for each course.

    After the canal cruise, we spent time with family at their cottage on the fjord. While the weather might not have been the hot, sunny weather of summer we’d hoped for, it was still a fantastic time, the best part being all the time I had with my granddaughter. My husband went swimming but the water was too cold for me!

    Here are a few pictures. We even had our own guest house.

    When our time in Norway ended, we flew to Southampton to board our ship for the cruise around the UK. The flight was uneventful. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel where we spent the night, and then in the morning, we took another to the cruise ship terminal. This was our fourth cruise with NCL, and I would highly recommend them. I’m a fan of freestyle dining!

    Cruising Around the British Isles

    So much history!

    For the next ten days, the cruise was our home base. We were treated like royalty with fantastic service, outstanding meals and entertainment.

    But the best part of it all were the places we visited. Canada is a reasonable new country. There are few things that are more than 400 years old, like the buildings in Quebec City, but visiting places that are thousands of years old, well, that’s the real eye-opener. Below, you’ll find an image from each of the places we visited. As I write the novels they inspired, I’ll tell you more about each one. But, in order, here are the places we saw: Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plains in England, Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland (didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone but blew it a kiss and had an Irish coffee instead), another castle in Belfast, Northern Ireland (although hearing the tour guide talk about “The Troubles” was what affected me most), Kennedy’s Pub in Dublin, Ireland, a pub both Oscar Wilde and James Joyce were said to have frequented (English teacher mode here), The Standing Stones of Calanais on the Isle of Lewis (more about them next month), Cawdor Castle in Inverness, best known as the home of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the Thane of Cawdor, (what English teacher could resist a walk through there?) At that stop, we also saw Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, the former home of Robert the Bruce, first Scottish king, and finally the last of the castles in Newcastle, England.

    Unfortunately since the ship used tenders to ferry us from the ship to the ports in Scotland, we were unable to get off in Edinburgh because of fog and rough seas, so I missed that excursion, but as you can see, I got to see lots of castles!

    The cruise ended with a sea day as we crossed the North Sea and made our way to port in Copenhagen. Ater racing through the airport thanks to slow lines at passport control and security, we boarded our flight home–unfortunately, our luggage decided to stay an extra night in Amsterdam where our flights connected. Two days later, the bags made it home, and I engaged in that post holiday activity we all love–three weeks’ worth of laundry. And now it’s back to the computer for me. How was your summer vacation?

    I’m already at work on the first novel set on the Isle of Lewis. Watch for Listen to the Stones later this fall..

    Looking for something to read now? Irresistible Second Chances, only 99 cents US or free to read in KU, features my newest novel, It’s a Match.

    See you next month!