Join us for Nonna’s ‘easy pumpkin delight cake’ and a ‘Huckleberry Hill’ home tour!
Here is how the home tour originated (read on for Nonna’s pumpkin cake recipe.) At book events I am often asked, “Is Huckleberry Hill a real location? Did you ‘make it up’ as a setting for your children’s books?
High Resolution Image: Lena Max Photography
The answer is, ‘yes, I really do live on Huckleberry Hill’! For this post I am going to answer readers questions. I love hearing from you, it is so much fun making connections. Thank you for offering recipes, sharing your lifestyle tips, and encouraging one another to follow our dreams. Feel free to connect with me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Huckleberry Hugs, Maxine (AKA “Molly”)
Question: Is Huckleberry Hill a real place? Do your book characters Molly and Fern really ‘live’ there? Did you base Molly on yourself?
Yes, it is the actual name of the hilltop that I live on (and where I grew up). This mountainside overlooks the majestic Pacific Coast of Pebble Beach. It is “stop two” on the 17 Mile Drive. My book character Molly is based on me and Fern is based on my sister Francine. The tales are from our childhood. My home on Huckleberry Hill is actually named ‘Starbright’. My cousin Gig Davi loved the large windows of our hilltop home, especially the evening stars shining bright over the Pacific Ocean, so Gig and his wife Anna gave us this home plaque. My cousin Gig has passed away and the ‘Starbright’ name has very special meaning to my family.
Front Entry- “Starbright” at Huckleberry Hill
Question: Do you actually pick huckleberries?
Sketch from artist Drew McSherry- ‘Molly and Fern find wild huckleberries!’
Yes, my family picks wild huckleberries on our hillside every summer.
Huckleberry season is very short, and wild Pacific Coast berries are smaller and tart, when compared to north west berries.
Sketch from artist Drew McSherry- the buck at Huckleberry Hill.
Question: What does your Huckleberry Hill home look like? Where do you write?
Huckleberry Hill Childhood Home, by Drew McSherry.
At the entrance we keep several walking sticks by the door. There are lots of animals in the forest and we also have hiking paths through the hillside, so these are used often. Bella Sophia really enjoys visits to Disneyland, she has collected fall decorations with a ‘Disney theme’, we have to bring “fall” indoors as our evergreen forest does not change with the seasons.
‘Starbright’ is a gathering place:
Question: In blog posts, you mention that you like to write in nature. Do you have a favorite outdoor writing spot at Huckleberry Hill:
I love our back deck. We are surrounded by lots of beautiful trees in an evergreen forest, and a few blocks from the beach. This is a cozy place to write!
I spend hours writing on my back deck, sitting on my porch, at the beach, and cuddled up in a comfy chair or couch and gazing out the window. I write longhand in a journal and also type on my Macbook. I very rarely write at a formal desk, I have a beautiful home office and never use it. I take the time to write every day.
At Huckleberry Hill, my Godchildren are always “monitored” on my wizard clock in the kitchen…mortal peril? school? candy shop? hospital? traveling? prison? quiddictch? lost? I am keeping track! Love this fun clock…visitors enjoy it too.
I surround myself with sentimental clutter! In my home, you will find meaningful trinkets…Patty Ward, one of my very favorite people gave me many little unique mementos, I love collecting items with a past and using my imagination to give items a “story”…this little picture frame made with retro earrings is a favorite (thanks Patty)!
All day long I drink coffee in different tea cups ( I change them out), these were passed down to me from my Nonna Frances. Nonna is an influential book character and in real life shaped and guided my upbringing and influences
Most days I am writing indoors or outdoors while drinking coffee with a retro cup and saucer.
Question: Where is your family, sister (Fern) and extended family located? Do they live on Huckleberry Hill? You all seem so close. They are featured in many of your blog posts.
I am very connected to my famiglia! On Huckleberry Hill, we have friends and cousins, across the street we have very dear friends and Sophia’s godparents. My sister Fran (Fern) and my brother-in-law David, as well as my niece and nephew (Davey and Catherine) are walking distance, very close. Nonna Cathy and Papa Archie are also reside in an adorable casita on my sister and brother in law’s property! We all adore Huckleberry Hill and being so close to one another. Living within close proximity is definitely an Italian cultural influence! (Nonna and Sophia like to bake together, they won first place in the County Fair this year!)
My sister (Fern) she spoils me with the BEST cappuccino! XOXO- love my sister!
Question: What are your favorite activities in your Huckleberry Hill neighborhood?
Bella Sophia adores surfing with the local Wahine Club. As a matter of fact, our popular boutique product line “Surf Club” is based on this image.
We enjoy the ocean, we live only a few blocks from this beach and it is on the way to Spanish Bay.
A favorite: spending time in the evenings watching the sunset, swimming at the pool and listening to bag pipes at our neighborhood hangout, ‘The Spanish Bay Club’:
Nature hikes are fun, here are some images from daily walks:
Pebble Beach is know for hosting events, this is Erin (our terrific Nanny), Tom Brady and I at the AT&T, supporting local charity. It is fun to live in a place that attracts visitors from all over the world.
The Gingerbread House and Indian Village, these nature areas along the 17 Mile Drive are the setting to The Wild Buck Photo Shoot, we enjoy having picnics here.
There are many wonderful golf courses in Pebble Beach. Poppy Hills is very close to us, we enjoy breakfast at the lodge and hitting golf balls at the driving range. I enjoyed signing books for their ‘June Father’s day event’, as Poppy Hill’s supports Monterey Jazz Festival and Youth Music Programs. Poppy Hills is a terrific local hang out spot.
Question: Why is getting out in nature always referred to during your book talks?
As a mom and a professional educator I realize that today’s youth (and adults) need to unplug. This video outlines my motive:
That’s a glimpse into my Huckleberry Hill life! Hope you enjoyed it. Follow your dreams, even if they take you all the way to the Pacific Coast of California. XOXO
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-Nanna Cathy’s Pumpkin Delight Cake-
Did you think I forgot about Nonna’s pumpkin cake? My mom made this for the first time last year and we all love it!!!! Enjoy the fall season, this cake not only is a crowd pleaser, it also brings delicious aromas of ginger and pumpkin into your autumn home! The textures are divine, the smooth pumpkin, light cake and crunch of pecans…perfection!
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour (or spray) 9X13 rectangle pan
30 oz. can pumpkin
16 oz. can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 package yellow cake mix (any brand)
1 cup chopped pecans
¾ cup butter
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix pumpkin, milk, ginger, cloves, sugar, eggs and cinnamon in a large bowl. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan.
Sprinkle cake mix and chopped pecans on top.
Cut butter very thin and cover all over cake mix.
Bake for One hour and served warm with whipped cream. YUMMY!!!