INSPIRED by AUTUMN

People often ask me what inspired me to move all the way across country, from California where I grew up, to New England ~ to an Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, so very far away from home, where they had this thing called winter. MUSICA? Well, the short answer is the break-up of my marriage in California and the strong urge to escape the pain of it. But the deeper answer is . . .Not just autumn, but all of it . . . everything New England seemed to offer (from all the books I’d read), deep traditions, romance and inspiration that comes with nature, the authenticity of the old houses that had seen so much~ it all seemed to represent a solid foundation where I hoped I could build a solid new life.

And no, 35 years later, I’m still not used to it. I don’t think I ever will be.

I still see the change of seasons as a miracle. Four-times-a-year for extra celebration, totally organic, not man-made, God provided, and real as real could be. So I thought I’d give you my “Best of Autumn,” just in cases you aren’t yet in the mood 🎃 ~ hopefully when this post is done, you will be, because what I want to do is help you . . .

Is that color possible in nature? No. Not possible. Probably the camera had a piece of red cellophane over it!!!  Wrong. But that’s actually what I used to think when I was a child and would see photos of New England in the fall. It just couldn’t be real.

Now that I know better, you would think I would get used to it, but apparently that’s never going to happen. Looks like magic to me.

I’ve walked down a dirt road through the woods to the water almost every day of the last 35 years. The first five I did alone, then I met Joe, and we’ve done it  together ever since, in all seasons. I told you, I love tradition. The over-and-over leaves an ownership imprint, and someday far into the future, Joe and I will haunt this place for eternity. When I wear this loosely woven sweater, I can tuck in stems of the wild things I find growing along the side of the road. 🍂Then of course Joe feels the need to hide in the bushes all the rest of the way home!

Is this not romantic? Sooo romantic, little cottage by the sea, we walk by it every day. Simple and surrounded by color . . . in the foreground is bittersweet, it grows wild and free, it makes a celebration where there might not normally be one. You see? Not my idea. It’s nature! We gather it to decorate our front door. 🍁

In the fall you can feel the icy breath of winter in the wind that blows leaves through the air. Black crows fly low across the road, cawing the whole way. Someday I will catch one with my camera!

My traditions hold inside the house too.  My little rusty birds, garlands, wreaths, leaves, owls, birds, festoons, out of the boxes they come!

Then of course, there’s the dance of the tea towels . . .

I can tell you about the fall breezes, but here you can see it . . . and we can smell it too ~ and not only the fragrance of the sea ~ but as it flits around the Island it gathers perfume from everything that grows wild: goldenrod, clematis, wild apples and pine, blueberries, sandy beach plums, asters and bayberry. 🌻 As I wrote in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, “the salty breeze slips in and out of seashells, climbs tree trunks, dives into squirrel holes, slides along old porch rails, stumbles through the bittersweet, skips along picket fences, scoots beneath falling leaves, whistles past ancient graveyards, flits over and under dragonfly wings, and steals all the wishes off the dandelion puffs, flinging them in every direction, wishes for all.” It’s the pure romance of the seasons. 🍂

And my little bo-bo waits for me to come in.

Our very best tradition. Cat-loving people that we are. True blessings are all around us.💞

I brought in the last Just Joey rose of the season ~ in the little blue bottle Joe found while digging the hole to plant our Dogwood tree. And you can see our best tradition peeking out from the corner of the screen door.

The garden isn’t finished yet. I plant things that bloom late so we keep ourselves stocked in garden flowers for as long as possible, till the first freeze.

To some, marigolds are common, but they are the BEST when it comes to fall color right from the garden. Long-lasting flowers that know their job and do it well.

Lighting candles, part of the tradition of the season, for the shorter days and colder nights, wind beating our shutters against the house. And P.S.: LAST NIGHT!!! PBS was golden! The new season of The Durrells started (you would love it), and after was Poldark, and advertised was the new season of Victoria starting in January! So much to look forward to! Right now, while I’m writing you, I’m listening to the BBC production called Byron (as in Lord). I just spoke into my remote, and there it was!

Lounge lizard.

More wind, crunch leaves, sweet smelling sheets . . .

This is a sandy driveway where the leaves have been driven over so many times they are imprinted. I thought it would make gorgeous fabric.

And we’ve been cooking too . . . this recipe cooks at 250 degrees for 7 hours! Makes the house smell heavenly. It’s Spicy Short Ribs, I made it for you last Christmas in another post  . . . just click HERE and scroll to the bottom for the recipe. It’s so good!

And here’s the Marmalade tea bread! (Recipe is HERE, just scroll to bottom of this old post.)

All for my favorite thing, setting the table, with my purple Windsor Ware . . . and, here’s a little tip: flowered dishes look best with striped, plaid or plain-colored napkins.

Some things are a must at this time of year . . . homemade pie crust is one of them. I have to say, if you haven’t had a real homemade pie crust in a while, you don’t know what you are missing. Fill it with pumpkin . . . homemade is best! There is nothing like cooking and nurturing to make you feel 100% better about the world.

Am I right, or am I right?

I love this photo. It was on a door of a tea room we visited years back and I just love it ~ it screams halloween! 🕷 Or maybe I scream halloween. But definitely, someone is screaming! 😱

And this foggy day showed all the dripping little webs that normally you don’t even know are there. In our woods they’re on the ground, between every leaf  and twig. . . sparkling in the mist and dew. 🕸

And now, about pumpkins . . .

We found these pumpkins at a craft show. They are easy to make, but you have to grow them and mark them while they are young ~ it’s so easy, you can put your family name on them, read HERE for a How To. . . it’s pure magic for children! 🎃 There are so many interesting pumpkins available these days. Below, the warty ones are called Knuckleheads . . . there are Cinderella and Lakota too, beautiful and fun to grow, remember for next spring! Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget!

I’m a star pumpkin girl myself, but Joe always does a few faces . . .

Don’t forget to put cinnamon and nutmeg on the inside of the top of your pumpkins for wonderful smells when lit.

And of course him. Casper. Our ghost. SUCH a tradition. This house would not be a house without our ghost.  How many years have we had him now? Maybe twenty!

We have a street coming toward the house, with a stop sign out front, and for twenty years Casper has been in our upstairs window saying HELLO to everyone who goes by. I’ve never seen another one like him, but I think it might be possible to make one (not by me, but I think Joe could do it, or maybe you can! Or perhaps you have a Joe of your own who might like a project that will last forever) …. would you like some photos of his innards? I can do that!

You can get an idea of his frame by seeing the light through the cloth ~ its like a wire dress form. The cloth is cotton, starched to the nth degree, and lightly covered in the finest glitter. There are two tiny lightbulbs attached inside to the frame, top and bottom, and one inside the pumpkin all on one cord that we plug into the wall.

Here he is from the front, holding a pumpkin . . . which is also framed in wire ~ its fabric is felt.

There are two round frames, one on the bottom (which you can see in the photo above) which is what Casper sits on, the other is visible in that first picture ~ from the back ~ up toward the top of the head. And all the vertical wires are hooked to them.

The little arms are separate, and here’s how they are hooked to the main frame.

There are two lightbulbs fitted into the two round frames.

There’s a tear in the ghost fabric to hook the frames together, to hook the pumpkin to the ghost, and for the light for the pumpkin to go through. The pumpkin hides the tear.

 And voila!

You can see him up top center window.

There have been a lot of Autumns at this house. Tradition, authenticity, romance, endurance, security, dreams, and somehow, despite everything, a symbol for the continuity of life, the manifestation of my childhood faith in forever. Cue the Musica . . .  🎵 I would love to see how it looked inside on the day this photo was taken, what they were doing in the kitchen, go to the barn and see the horses … go for a ride in the carriage down to Main Street . . .

Gathered from the woods, from the farmstand and from Michael’s Crafts.

We are ready! Bring. It. On. We get a jillion kids at halloween. We have a responsibility to give back some of the magic we’ve been given.

Our other house decoration is our big BOO in the window!

Lovely wonderful bittersweet. Another miracle from nature.

Last year we were in England for the fall . . . I’m standing in the 13th century churchyard looking at the moon across from where our dear friend Rachel lives. Whoooo . . .

Here we are at Carrie’s darling house in Oxford! Lots of you know her from Twitter . . . go say Hi! Aren’t blue and orange perfect together?

And here we were, apple tasting with our friend Siobhan in the glorious English Countryside . . .

Perfectly wonderfully charming . . . an apple on every fence post . . .

Last October 19 we were busy setting the table and decorating the dining room in a house in Bath where we were staying (with Ray’s friends and family) to help celebrate Rachel’s birthday! Yes, balloons and hats and bunting, streamers and candles!

While we were doing that, she was waiting in the kitchen ~ no peeking!  Drinking wine and overseeing the cooking of the birthday dinner. 

Here’s Ray’s cake, with all of our rings on board, ready for her to make a wish and blow out the candles. It was a wonderful time and a luv-lee memory. And now, here we are, one year later! We can surprise her again, Girlfriends 🎉 . . . click HERE and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY 🎁 … or, HERE . . . or, if you live in the UK, go HERE, and get a sample of the amazing Sugar Moon Brownies she makes, packs and sends in the mail! Her birthday is on Thursday and I’m not going to say a THING . . . 🤐 shhhhhhh.💞

In the meantime, I go to my studio every day .  .  . making new things, painting for the 2019 calendar with my little three haired brush . . .

And this week, I’ve been choosing thread colors for my newComing soon . . . Have I told you? Yes, we found someone wonderful in the USA to make them for us . . . coming to our web store soon.

This is the newest . . . just finished and needs ironing, but I think it’s going to be darling! This is cross-stitch, but some of the kits will be printed too . . . Nothing like needlework to take your mind off the cares of the day and leave it to wander and dream in an aimless, do-something kind of way. Hand sewing and old movies go together like ice cream and cake. I speak from lots of happy experience. I tell you more very soon.

Jack’s been helping us plan our next trip to the UK! Maybe not helping, perhaps blocking.

Also, for you who’ve been asking ~ two of our “Sold Out” cups came back in! The manufacturer let us know they had some “leftover” decals ~ and asked if we wanted them to make a few more . . . we said we’d take them all . . .

So, there were two . . . the 16 oz. Martha’s Vineyard . . .

And the 11 oz. Autumn cup ….

We didn’t get many, but I hope this will fix it so that everyone who wanted one, gets one!

One more of my favorite fall traditions: I just bought the most delicious new flannel jammies. I love thick cottony flannel for our wintery nights . . . the best ones I’ve found are at Garnet Hill . . . . when I find something good, I need to tell my Girlfriends! 💋So off I go to write a new WILLARD . . . in case you don’t know, WILLARD is my Newsletter, you can sign up and every so often it will just appear in your mailbox . . . lots of interesting things to tell you about . . . it  should be going out sometime next week. Until then my dear, darling Girlfriends, remember to choose love.

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Quest for Beauty ~ Maine Adventure

On a day like today, what would be better than a quest for beauty? Let’s leave the heartbreaking 😢 world behind for a little while and go see Maine! It’s October, and we have MUSICA . . .

We planned this trip a few months back . . . to drive north to see our friends Sharon and Jeff who were coming from California to stay in their camp on the rocky coast of Maine . . . so here I am, your own private tour guide, just in cases you’ve ever wanted to see Maine, which I have to say is a destination that could keep a person enthralled for a very long time. 💝

Doesn’t it look fun?

Happy, as always, Joe and I travel better than almost any other thing we do. All our troubles and long work hours stay far behind us, and we are free. We have more stuff than we will ever need, big cups of ice tea with shots of lemonade in them from Micky-Dees, the radio is playing, the trees are beginning to turn colors, we’re on the open road, who could ask for more?

We stopped at the BEST farmstand. Herricks ~ and while we were there, they brought in fresh corn, just picked in the field. Be still my beating heart!

Hill and dale we go, past villages and rivers and church spires, and the only thing breaking the old-fashioned-ness of it, were the myriad of telephone wires, my pet peeve in life. You can’t get away from them these days! If you are a time traveler like I am it’s hard to pretend it’s 1800, even with the luv-lee church spires, when your view is criss-crossed in black wires.

Fields and meadows . . .

We traveled north on Sunday, look at everyone going back home after the weekend ~ which was nice, because the rest of our trip was pretty much traffic free! See the throngs of people on the left of the photo? They are standing in line for lobster rolls at a famous eatery called Red’s Eats in Wiscasset . . . we thought, yes! We will stop there on the way back, we’ll be there in the middle of the week and have it all to ourselves. And across the bridge we went… breezing along with the breeze . . .

Into the small town of Damariscotta . . . very adorable, would look like 1845 except, of course, for the wires. I promise I will never talk about the wires again. You will just have to see them without me pointing them out.

The Damariscotta River runs right through the middle of town and they make the very best of it. Damariscotta is also famous for their yearly PumpkinFest!

Lots of small charming ma-and-pa shops, excellent yarn and quilt stores that people drive from miles around to visit!

Sharon and Jeff invited us to stay in their Air BnB apartment ~ it was a lovely place with a darling kitchen, filled with books and comfy places to read them. This was my view from the sofa on our first morning where I was sitting drinking my tea and writing back to all the lovely comments you left on my last post, thank you so much! 💓

The next days we went over the river to walk through the old neighborhoods to take pictures of houses because we love  New England architecture so much . . . walking along, kicking up leaves, listening to the birds and the wind in the trees . . .🍂

This was the street we (too many wires but don’t tell anyone I said that), filled with leafy shadows and the ghosts of days gone by . . . 🍂

Most of the houses were late 18th, early 19th century. I wish when they said 18th century, they meant 1800s, because I am never-endingly confused by hearing 18th century, then immediately having to re-compute weak brain to 1700s. It never seems to get automatic, I have to think. 🤔

Porches and bird feeders . . . and porch ceilings painted traditional blue like the sky . . .

Out of focus, but there is no way I am leaving out this cranberry enchantment.

Picket fences and rock walls, all handmade . . . In a thousand years I will never get tired of this view of a peaceable kingdom, where all is tinged with the sounds moths beating on porch lights, of baseball games on the radio, slamming screen doors, the smell of cookies baking . . .

Very interesting upstairs windows on this one . . . perhaps that’s where they practiced piano . . .

Love the blue door with the little “lights” over the top, the trellis’s on both sides, the criss-cross windows with the reflections in them, the glassed-in porch, the big ole tree . . .

Porches and low branches and pots of chrysanthemums . . .

And wild asters everywhere . . .

Bunches and clumps of them all the way down to the river . . .

A huge harbinger of fall in New England woods and coasts . . . Free, they re-distribute themselves every year, seeds fly through the air, and there they are the next year, for the picking.

And in Maine, as here on the Island, huge hydrangea bushes, turning colors like everything else . . .

And right in the middle of this neighborhood, is a graveyard, from a time when families stayed nearby even in death.  (I loved how they painted the telephone pole white to make it “blend”  . . .)

See? There are houses on all sides, the barbecue is there too . . . your history was as much a part of you as your now . . .

The tree of the goddess, the magical hawthorn tree’s red berries hanging over the fence, the world decorates itself for fall!  MUSICA

Of course, we did lots of this . . .

Another thing Maine is very good at . . . and nice prices I might say!

Baskets full of vintage Christmas linens. . .

And we stopped for lunch, warm goat cheese to go with the lobster salad!

Maine lobsters, Maine oysters, YUM!

Then out for more antiquing . . .

I bought a silver serving spoon and a white cotton lace cloth for my bread basket . . . thinking holiday dinner parties!

Signs like this everywhere . . . farmer’s and fish markets too, fresh local delights.

And they still hand out these flyers from the 1960s.

The recipe for boiled lobsters is just like Joe’s, except he puts cut lemons in the boiling water.

And off we went to Sharon and Jeff’s camp, near this little fishing village called Christmas Cove. Don’t blink or you will miss it, and for sure, you don’t want to miss it.

Out of town and onto a finger of Maine coastline. . . the Maine coast is ALL FINGERS. A travelers delight, so many little crevices to explore. We’re about mid-way up.

See? There’s a finger right now . . . smells of salt and pine. . . and takes us to

. . . a dirt road leading to the cottage, then a path through the woods.

Deep in the woods, voila, we find it!

All kinds of wonderful critters populate this area, fox and moose, chipmunks and red squirrels, too. And although Sharon is a master gardener, not a bit of a garden here, hard to garden on rocks . . . she lets real be real.

And she lets candles be candles. This is the living room, their house has perhaps ten rocking chairs in it, most of them on the porch.

Which you get to by going through this door. Note reflection, because that’s what’s behind me.

 Speaking of reflections: I’m outside, on the porch, looking back inside through a large plate-glass window with the reflection of the sea behind me and my own reflection in the window glass . . . on the far wall inside is a mirror made like a window, you can see me in it, and the lamp that’s in the foreground of this photo, AND the view behind me.  Plus a cozy chair with quilt . . . and the unlit candles on the coffee table. I love this photo.

And now, I’ve turned around, the window is behind me and view is no longer a reflection. The sound of the waves, the rocking of the chair . . .

Here I am, rocking with Sharon’s husband Jeff . . . Note delicious edibles on table . . . we wanted for nothing . . .

At one end of the porch is this tiny screened in room; no bug dast destroy ambience of deliciousness . . . table is set . . . pears are lined up on the window sill . . .

Into the kitchen we go.  I love seeing our cups on other people’s shelves!

 Sharon and Jeff, being from California, despite Maine connections, are weenies such as I, and will not cook a lobster. Joe was our only hope, and he came through like the hero that he is. We may not cook it, but we will totally be the hypocrites that EAT it. ☺️

We also had farm-stand corn on the cob, dripping in foreign butter, salt and pepper and this wonderful healthy kale salad from our blog girlfriend Martha  . . . here’s the recipe . . .be sure to massage the kale to make it soft.

And took it outside, to eat with the sound of the waves . . .

lots of candles, glasses of pink wine . . . we stayed out there forever because it was a gorgeous evening . . . stars and crickets and the waves . . .

Then we came inside and made a fire with the owls whose eyes light up . . . and basically, to sum up, we did this every night while we were there, as we solved all the world’s problems and rocked the night away . . . We’ve known each other many years, our rocking is different than it used to be!

XOXO

Just your basic evening in heaven . . .

Another dinner . . .

Sometimes we couldn’t see that finger of land north of us because of the fog . . . but there it is!

More candles . . .

And another cozy fire . . . but this one is different . . .

Because it’s our last . . . we go home the next day . . . we are talking about Joe’s legs, because I think they are like the legs of a four-year-old roller skater.

Sharon talks with her hands . . . she’s a communicator!  MUSICA

Before we go, we need the love photo . . .

We now pronounced them man and wife, kissed them good bye, said thank you, thank you, see you in California . . . And off we go, down the long dirt road . . .

And the next day, we head straight for the little town of Wiscasset, the one we passed on the way in, where that crowd of people was waiting in line . . .

We are nice and early, they haven’t opened yet . . . not a soul around . . . perfect.  We’ll be back.

Such a famous place, they even have paintings of it in the art galleries . . . must be good! We can’t wait to find out why! Off we go to work up an appetite . . .

By shopping this luv-lee little town . . .

Look what’s in the window of the antique store!!! All Petey’s friends! (If you’ve read A Fine Romance, you know who Petey is!)

There was a wonderful women’s clothing store called In the Clover with fabulous sweaters and scarves. . . and across the street, this fantastic shop filled with original and wonderful stationery and gifts, called Rock Paper Scissors … I had a great time visiting with the creative owner and buyer, Erika, and found the perfect handmade diary for our next trip to England. I also did some rather magnificent Christmas shopping, just little things, but really special little things. 😘

She had interesting and creative jewelry too ~ go there if you can, but try to go on week days, when it’s not crowded, because this is a very popular little town. We started back over to Red’s Eats to get our Lobster Rolls, and AGAIN, there was a line around the BLOCK! 😱 But, we had to catch a ferry. No Red’s Eats for us. Must go back another time.👍

Time for one more antique store stop. And in the parking lot, we saw this! Oh, to be famous! Ha ha ha!

And we needed to get our pumpkin allotment . . . The little ones for over the front door, the big ones for the porch and garden . . .

Off we go! Leaves blowing up behind us!

This is the sky out the car window as we’re heading for Woods Hole to catch the boat . . .

And from the bridge that goes over the man-made canal that separates the Cape from the mainland . . .

As the clouds followed the sun into the sea, we followed them to our boat . . .

We were on our walk yesterday and, like we often do, stopped to see our friends Bruce and Gail Kissell. They live in a little camp like Sharon and Jeff’s, right on the water, and asked if we’d seen that gorgeous sunset.  I said, “Not from your front row seat!” Gail had taken photos! She sent them to me, and these are them ~ wasn’t it amazing? Love the reflection in the sea and wet sand.

The clouds chasing the sun into the sea . . .

And this wiggling, squiggling, green-eyed fuzz ball was our reward for coming home . . .💕

We unpacked, and put up the pumpkins and hung the wreath . . .

And distributed the pumpkins . . . 🎃🎃🎃

I need to go out and see the world sometimes, to bring home the juicy creativity that lives out there in such abundance, but I’m just a homebody at heart. 🏡

POLDARK started last night!!! Did you see it? We did, and I recorded it so it could play while I was working on this post. So good. Look how long her fingers are. I think my little finger comes up half way to hers.

Odd view, but this was us last night watching Poldark. That’s my shawl on my leg on the left, Jack’s between it and the arm of the chair, but for some reason he liked hanging his head over the edge . . .

I used my camera to look down there and see if he was happy, and he was. The paws are my favorite. My little prince.

Yup, home, and back to work. Today I have to choose the embroidery thread colors to include in the new cross stitch kits we are having made!!!! This is the fun part! More info on that to come!

I designed two little cards and sent them to Kellee this morning. You are going to be able to print them out to include with your cup-gifts for the holidays  . . . two kinds, one for a Merry Christmas one for a Happy New Year. Soon I’ll give you a link so you can print them on card stock.💞 And I think Kellee did lots of fall “Free Stuff” for you to print out ~ Enjoy! 😘

I hope you enjoyed our Maine Adventure! I loved reliving it! Best part, the memories! Have a luv-lee rest of the day. The Constant Nymph, with the impossibly young Joan Fontaine, just came on TCM, leaves are falling 🍂, you-know-who is waiting, and my new British Country Living is here! Happiness! Wishing you the same! XOXO

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