It’s Monday! Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Oh my!  MUSICA




So, guess what Joe just told me?  It’s Monday! That probably doesn’t come to a surprise to you, but . . .


I coulda’ sworn it was Sunday!  Note: View from kitchen window right now, Squirrel hanging from bird feeder!

kitchen in the blizzard

I missed Downton last night!  I just found this out, I was gearing up to see it tonight, and I’m now in a bit of a dither.  Joe saw it, he said nothing monumental happened, that he thought Julian was “stalling.”


And look, we are in the middle of a blizzard right this minute!  Joe is outside  filling the bird feeders and digging us a tunnel to the liquor store.

kitchen in the blizzard

We have the best view from our kitchen window, cold on the outside, warm and cozy inside. It’s really a heavenly day!  Wind is blowing!  White flakes blurring the house across the street, big red snow plows going up and down the roads.


Jack is fascinated by the wildlife around the bird feeders. “Eyes on the prize,” that’s what he is thinking. Prize being fresh squirrel meat. Which he will never have in this lifetime.


And darling Girl Kitty only worries about where her next meal is coming from. After fifteen years of togetherness, she is still never quite sure.


Birds are well taken care of. We have the fattest fluffiest coldest birds in the world right now.



Merry In The Winter

And here is the reason I lost track of time . . . I’ve been on a roll, as you know, trying to finish Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams (which is listed on Amazon as #1 New Release!). Very exciting! And Look! 


Yesterday, which was supposed to be Saturday, so that today would be Sunday, so I would get to watch Downton tonight . . .


I did this!


I painted these words on the last page of the book!!!!  Aren’t they beautiful??



I must have gone delirious after this because, that was it. I jumped around joyfully for a while, it’s really hard to believe after so many months!  But then I re-introduced myself to the real life things like folding clothes and eating dinner and talking and talking with my darling man about our new dream of going to Scotland in the fall. I still have a ton to do on the book. All the corrections, and I have to design the back cover and the end papers and things like that! But it’s so close! happiness

fireAnd now, I’ll have you know, because of this wonderful fire Joe made, I am going to the kitchen to make grilled cheese sandwiches, which I will mash with the spatula to make them extra crispy, like this:

grilled cheese sandwich

and we will take our sandwiches to the sofa and cozy down in the storm with the throws that my grandma knit and WATCH Downton (yes Joe’s going to watch it again!), luxuriously maybe even twice, con kitty, just forgetting about the world, praying that the electricity doesn’t go out. But if it does, too bad, I will just have to take a nap. Because it’s WILD out there. Someone said we should expect 18″!  I am all for it!



Jack doesn’t care, he just waits patiently on the sofa.  Anyway,  I am so SORRY Girlfriends, that I messed up.  You can go ahead and leave comments about Downton, because I’m going to close the computer, and go watch it right now, and I won’t read anything you say until I’m done, so YOU can basically write the Blog this time! :-) And I’ll come back and comment on your comments!  A job for everybody! Love you Girlfriends! Stay warm! XOXO

the reason I'm so happy

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | 398 Comments

Bad Harvest!

The new greeting of good luck, Bad Harvest!  Bad Harvest and Rabbit Rabbit and Happy February!  Well, that was amazing. Downton, I mean. Is that what a bleeding ulcer does? Remind me not to get one. Oops, Spoiler Alert! It’s Season 6, Episode 5 of the best thing TV ever had. Or at least one of the top best things.  MUSICA

downton abbey

Off to the hospital Robert goes. What a nightmare dinner party!


It started off so beautifully, Granny was busy unleashing the dogs of war, and enjoying the last big fight of her life, Neville Chamberlain, the future Prime Minister of England was there, but then, Oh No! Robert looks so sick, and suddenly he comes crashing onto the table in glorious technicolor. Visually it was terrible, but I also think the sound effects person got his inspiration from Niagara Falls. Then Robert tells Cora, who is now totally splattered with blood, that he’s always loved her, in a way of saying “goodbye.”  I couldn’t bear to take pictures of the carnage ~ I’m sure you saw enough of it too.  Up until that moment, I was LOVING this episode, but suddenly we were plunged to the depths of what looked like certain death for Robert, because obviously no one could live through something like that. Do ulcers gather blood? I mean good grief, a bear eating a man whole could not have much more blood than that. That was slaughterhouse five. Julian saved himself by bringing this mess to a conclusion without leaving us hanging. I doubt if he could have gone out in public if he hadn’t. When this episode finished I was crying and laughing at the same time.Kiss boring goodbye

LOVE DOWNTON ABBEY. Everything was wonderful! Blackmail, love, jealousy, concern, outrage, history, charm, husbands needing training, it had it all!

Then while they were all waiting for the ambulance, standing around talking, and what happens? The Dowager mentions the MARIGOLD secret!!!  And WHO is  in the background lurking and hearing every word?


MARY!!!!  Didn’t we just GASP?? Out loud with OH NO!


But she didn’t say a word. Yet. I had a shiver when I saw them coming down this hall . . . but, for a change, it was just a nice coming together of the sisters with concern for their father.


Five seconds of nobody being mean. Yes, let’s save this confrontation for later… we know it’s coming.


Mary assumes the reins of Downton. It’s lonely at the top.


Mary thought Anna knew something about Marigold.  We close with Mary deep in thought, putting two and two together.  You can actually hear her brain ticking on screen. Something tells me she will figure it out just in time for


Edith’s wedding.  Because we do love those last minute scandal eruptions! For the moment, we have a happy Edith! By the way has she told Bertie about Marigold? We wouldn’t want Mary to tell him, would we?


Edith’s life is going well, she hired a new editor and has probably the nicest flat in London.


And she has a nice boyfriend, who seems crazy about her. I love these people together.  They will make a calm sophisticated life together, lots of country life, pip pip and all that, but fun in London too, and he will love Marigold.


Kiss her!  Kiss her!


Yay! My wish was granted in a very graceful screen kiss.  I was sorry we didn’t get to go with them to the Cafe du Paris!!!


But it was fun at the Carson Cottage having our first at-home dinner together, Mr. Carson being waited on hand and foot, just like when he’s at work. It’s hard being King, so many likes and dislikes to express, almost not enough time to fit them all in. Uh oh. Trouble in Paradise. Bubble and Squeak WITH Lamb!!!!  Has someone lost her mind? Those two things do not belong in the same room with each other! Oh boy is she rusty!

IMG_5367We wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, because we love Mr. Carson, but he needs some lessons in marriage survival. That little giggle he gave when he asked Mrs. Patmore to help Mrs. Hughes “catch up with her cooking!” In front of Mrs. Hughes. IN the kitchen at Downton. He should start sleeping with one eye open. Mrs. Hughes keeps things inside.


My little couple were busy bees this episode.



Always together, playing brothers and sisters


Tom teaching Mary how to be human


Mary saying she could NEVER marry down.  Tom saying that his marriage with Sybil was a marriage of equals, that it wasn’t based on money or position.  Grow up Mary. “There’s no such thing as safe love.” The wise brotherhood of Tom. Wonder if she will notice. Sturdy, steadfast and true.You can't have everything quote; susan branch artIMG_5445

Loved this coat. Love that hat too, her first time in a Pub.  That is difficult to believe. How unfriendly would life be without pubs? She’s with her brother again, she goes everywhere with him, despite the fact that he doesn’t “play by the rules,” comes to the point, and throws his sister into the lion’s den.


Him.  Henry Talbot. I was happy to hear Anna say she was wary of this guy too.  But I have to admit he has a beautiful smile! I did love it when he said, “Blast!” And, he speaks French.


Branson even took  his sister Mary to watch the car show.


Boys and their toys. Nobody tell me if you know who Mary ends up with. I love not knowing.  This way, in my mind at least, she’s still going to be with Tom. Despite the ten thousand clues to the contrary!


Loved when Denker told Spratt she had a “passionate nature.” And he said, “Any more of that talk and I won’t be able to sleep.” I have never seen him so chipper, humming, singing, bouncing on his toes. For a moment we both thought we were getting rid of her, but no such luck.  Blackmail wins the day! That woman has a very strange thought process, going up and giving Dr. Clarkson a piece of what passes for her mind in broad daylight.


The new little family.  The new Mrs. Mason-to-be, her jealous daughter Daisy, and Daisy’s new non-reading farmer footman husband.  What a darling group. How well they will eat, Picnic Teas and the like. Rather unfair to others to put the entire Downton cooking staff in one cottage! Mr. Mason’s red-letter day! Gets a free farm AND all the cooks! Besides being “tops in pigs” he loves to see a woman bustling around the kitchen.  No stinkin’ Bubble and Squeak with Lamb in this household!


We had that whole thing with Baxter and Molesley, another opportunity for Molesley to stand by his woman, which he did, admirably, even though it ended up not mattering, but other than that, I couldn’t see why they were taking up screen space. Cut to Edith’s flat and let’s see the rest of it. Let’s go into the linen closet, the hat closet and the pantry where they keep the dishes. Right?  Okay, the shoes too.


I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours. . .

Mrs. Patmore was talking about putting together a picnic hamper which I wished I could rummage through and look at the linens, old picnic baskets always had such beautiful linens. And it reminded me of the BYO Picnic Basket (Hamper) party we’ll be having in England next September when the book is finished and Joe and I go back to England on the Queen Mary 2, and take you all along for another virtual trip through the English countryside and, this time, the Scottish countryside too.  This is the big carrot at the end of the stick that I’m aiming for! Can’t wait.


We want to meet everyone in the same place where we had a picnic with our friend Rachel (this is her with Joe) a few years ago.  You can see it’s a . . .

Grass bridge at Stourhead

wonderful magical place ~ called Stourhead in Wiltshire, England ~ we’ll be there in September this year (I’ll let you know when we chose the exact date) and hope to meet many of our English and European Girlfriends (and American too! All countries are welcome!) there for a BYO picnic lunch/book signing in these amazing


It’s acres and acres of this kind of beauty designed a few hundred years ago by flowerthe famous landscape designer Capability Brown. There’s an 18th century mansion you can tour, a pub and a wonderful old church that dates to 1291  where Joe learned to ring the bells.  But it’s the walks in the rhododendrons and along the ponds that is the very best.  Very nice carrots indeed. And I’m getting closer every day.


Here’s where I am on the book. Each of those pages is a double page spread . . . they are upside down so no secrets are spilled, but they are all done and being scanned now!  There are 16 chapters in all, right now I’m just finishing chapter 14.  I think it will likely end up about to be about 390 pages. It is getting very scary! Fluttery tummy and all. I don’t want it to end. I love this book. I hope you do too.Let the Fun Begin


I’ve enjoyed doing some strange sorts of artwork to illustrate this new book.  I have never painted a dune buggy before!  But I write about starting to date again (after getting over a broken heart), and how you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find Prince Charming . . . here is some frog kissing I was doing, only without the kissing. Trust me, this wasn’t my idea.


Dating commentary is always fun.


Off to the market to get groceries for recipe testing wearing my favorite t-shirt.


I included the whole story of why I began to take the train across country . . .

back of the train

How much I loved it and how romantic it was . . .


And  all the times I’ve had to wave goodbye.  I know what I’m saying doesn’t make sense right now ~ these are just tiny hints, because I want to surprise you.  But one thing for sure, and you can depend on this, I promise no one with throw up a swimming pool of blood at any table in my book. That is my promise to you dear readers.


It will be all sweetness and light when I meet you at the bookstores in May and June . . .  speaking of which . . . a new MAP!Book Tour Map

Martha's Vineyard Isle of DreamsThis is an update for our book signing events . . . FTGNameTagThe events you see here are all confirmed. You can read times and dates, and print out a special badge I made for us, so we Blog, Twitter, and Facebook Girlfriends will know who we are  when we meet . . . Go HERE.

If you are a first time reader of my blog, then maybe you don’t know that I’m just finishing the story of how I moved to Martha’s Vineyard and found that little cottage in the woods (in the picture), where I went to start over after a sad divorce. It’s coming out in April, and I hope to have Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams  ready for the printer on Valentine’s Day.  surprise!And you’ll know when I’ve done it because I have a wonderful new giveaway  which is right now simmering on the back burner. I can’t wait to show you! So much to look forward to!


And now, for my special parting gift, if you love Downton, you would probably like to visit (or revisit) Jane Austen’s house in England, where Joe and I went on our last visit. This is your basic Calgon Take Me Away Moment to start your week off right.  Can’t wait for the next episode of Downton!  See you then Girlfriends! XOXO

And just so you remember what it was like driving through the English countryside last time we went . . .Vita quote


Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 252 Comments