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The sweet life in the Granite State

How one New Hampshire native found herself through family, nature, and baking.

If you visit Cornish, New Hampshire, Hannah Darling is sure to greet you with a smile, a wave, and a slice of fresh, homemade raspberry pie. Keep chatting, and she might invite you to stay at the house she shares with her husband, two children, and a few chickens. As she gives you a tour of the family garden, she may even point down the road to her childhood farmhouse, where her parents still live. 

In today’s hustle culture, the life Darling has made for herself is refreshingly balanced. Her days are filled with hiking the rolling hills of the Upper Valley of New Hampshire, picking berries from the brambles on her property, canoeing on the Connecticut River, and hosting for family, friends, and neighbors – all while maintaining her career remotely. 


From the country to the city and back again

A self-described “city girl in the country,” Darling initially left her hometown of Cornish to attend university in Boston and stuck with the big-city life for the rest of her twenties. Darling loved living in the shadow of Fenway Park, but the hustle and bustle of Boston started to chip away at her mental health. “I was always thinking about what’s next,” says Darling. “I felt pressured to get ahead constantly, that I have to be the best all the time, doing the newest thing.”

A woman sitting in a dining room decorated for Christmas frosts snow themed sugar cookiesDarling and her highschool sweetheart (now her husband) realized that while they wanted a busy life with successful careers, hobbies, and friend groups, they could still have those things without sacrificing their mental health or their desire to start a family. The couple moved back to Cornish together, where they built a house right down the road from Darling’s parents, allowing them space to start the family they always wanted and the convenience of being able to walk to see Darling’s parents every day.

At first, Darling was nervous about being able to find the same high-level operations work she was doing in Boston. But thanks to remote work, she has been able to continue her work in executive support at a cybersecurity startup. “COVID actually really helped me get virtual opportunities in the past few years,” she says. 

“It’s such a great place to raise a family. It’s such a great place to be a real person.” — Darling

In Cornish, Darling is able to enjoy everything that she loved about Boston, with an added sense of authenticity. She is still able to eat some of the best food imaginable, but this time with fresh fruits and vegetables grown in her backyard. The time she used to spend waiting in traffic, she now spends going on quick hikes with her husband after work. “In Boston, I always had to be on, and I always had to be perfect,” says Darling. “Here, I just get to be me.”


Spreading love through baking

Two pies and an assortment of cookies sit on a counter with many county fair award ribbons next to themWith the extra freedom afforded by remote work, Darling has found more time to pursue her passions, even ones that she didn’t know she had. On her property is a giant raspberry patch, which has been cultivated by her parents for years. After a request to make a pie for her husband turned into the best pie either of them had ever had, Darling started making pies regularly, then branched out into other baked goods. She set up Darling Sweet Treats where she makes cakes, cookies, and everything in between for her neighbors and strangers alike.

The main inspiration for her baking projects come from the area around her. The Upper Valley of New Hampshire straddles the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont. The region has some of the best local produce, which means better tasting desserts. “We have our own local eggs, gardens, and farmers markets,” Darling says. 

Now, Darling Sweet Treats has found itself a loyal following, serves as her creative outlet, and helps her share her passion for baking with those she loves. “My tagline is ‘look good and taste good,’” says Darling. And don’t just take her word for the quality of her goods – Darling’s pies have even won blue ribbons from the Cornish Fair.


Less distractions, more balance

Three family members kayaking on lake togetherWhen not whipping up beautifully iced cookies and decadent pies, Darling and her family love to enjoy the outdoor beauty of the Upper Valley. “You really get to experience all four seasons, not just weather wise, but activity wise,” says Darling. “There’s something you can do pretty much any time of year.” From maple season in the early spring, to hiking during the summer, to the stunning fall foliage drives, to snow shoeing into winter, the adventures allow her family to bond and connect away from all other responsibilities.

This time of year, Darling can be found going on afternoon treks with her three-year-old to enjoy the changing leaves and breathe some fresh air after logging out of work. Another family favorite is being out on the water. The Connecticut River runs right by Cornish, providing summertime kayaking and canoeing, as well as a fun fishing spot for the family.

a woman standing in a kitchen holds out a pie crust in a red tin that is piled high with apple filingIn all aspects of her life, from her career to raising her children to crafting baking projects, Darling says she prioritizes balance above everything else. “When I’m on, I’m on, and when I’m off, I’m off,” she says. “It really helps me be more in the moment,” she says.

This attitude is at the heart of Cornish and part of the ethos of New Hampshire as a whole. It’s not uncommon for those driving along the tree-lined roads of the Granite State to wave, despite not knowing each other. “Everyone’s a neighbor here,” she says. “We all help each other. What goes around comes around.” 

After years of living in Cornish, the area’s neighborly warmth is reflected in Darling’s very personality — and she knows it. “This is definitely where I’m supposed to be,” she says.


Hear more stories about how people are choosing to “live free” in New Hampshire: 

This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.