Lamb Cakes and Kitchen Gardens

Here I am with our extra-large Bonnet, all ready for our Lamb Cake and Kitchen Garden drawing and a little MUSICA to start things off right  . . . 

girlbowing

 

    It had to be a really big bonnet ~ with almost 4,000 comments from all the Girlfriends, we will need it!  She’s still upstairs, Vanna, watching the very last of Downton Abbey, in bed in the Peter Rabbit room, cuddled into her quilt with her tea and Girl Kitty.  She’ll sweep down the kitchen stairs in a few minutes, sweep, as she is wont to do, make-up fully applied.  She’s a little hard to live with, but no one draws a winning name with more flair than our own private game-show girl, Vanna. I have all your names in that hat now, she’s going to choose one.  Yikes.  How to choose one.  Good thing this is all her fault and not mine, because choosing just one name is really not my cup of tea. I could keep this contest going forever just so I wouldn’t have to do that! But Vanna is steely.

flowers

Speaking of hats and Downton Abbey, let’s talk.  I love to hash it over . . . Did you notice the amazingly adorable hats on everyone this time?  Gorgeous elegant hats for the upstairs girls, but my favorites were the straw ones with the flowers worn for the fun day at the beach  ~ I thought Isobel & VioletMrs. Patmore’s hat won for most adorable of all.

And while I’m in a noticing mood . . . Did you see the champagne glasses at the party?  Please.  I’m not that wild about champagne but those glasses made me want to drink it.  Would be even better with Peah-Cida!   Other things I loved:  The ride-in-the-car conversation between Violet (the Dowager Countess) and Isobel (Mrs.  

Daisy's picnicCrawley, “much cattle, much care”) was so funny and good.  Those two!  Apparently the lesson they teach us is to never come right out and say another person is wrong, but show with your eyes and expression that someone is very wrong and it isn’t you.  And “Mary’s Men”  ha ha ha ha ~ how cute all the men were in their tuxedoes with those white ties!

I was so afraid Daisy would go to America . . . she’s always trying to better herself, using new words and becoming such a graceful girl and the way she said she “never gets excited.”  (I loved her big clunky hat at her picnic last week), I thought sure she would say yes. I’m beginning to think America is where Downton characters go to die and I’m not ready for Daisy to go away.  SO happy Edith is going to get her baby girl, can’t wait to meet her and see her little clothes!  And Edith has power of attorney!  I knew that guy she’s in love with was a good one!

ta-daa But my favorite thing, after the hats, the gorgeous dresses, Rose’s coming out party, the punch bowls, the baskets (hampers of food) for that PICNIC in front of the Albert picnicMemorial (wanted to be there ~ have you seen The Young Victoria?  I loved learning a little about Prince Albert, what a doll), the musicians, the convenient (for the moment) difference between right and wrong (right: breaking and entering, forging and picking pockets (love you Mr. Bates), wrong: protecting possible killer of definite rapist; thank goodness Mary came to her senses and burnt that ticket), those long necklaces (want), the cars (want) and the musicians . . . the kindness of Mr. Mosely, the wisdom of Mrs. Hughes, and the consternation in the face of Mr. Carson with his moral sensibilities having to deal with the young American’s (what was he? a butler?) love life; but they saved the very best for last, didn’t they?  (SPOILER ALERT, close eyes, skip next photo if you haven’t seen it!)

as if

Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson

 Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson holding hands, she saying the lovely words “We’re getting on, we can afford to live a little,” bare feet in sand, walk into ocean, cue music, wipe tears, wait another year. 

yay!

Such a good show.  My England fix.  Can’t wait for next winter!  Lots of living to do between now and then, spring planting, beach walks, Christmas shopping!  I guess that’s enough of that. . . where is that Vanna Girl . . . I think I hear the bath water running.  She’ll probably have to have her bubble bath before coming down to grace us with her peachy visage.   Patience is the name of the game when it comes to Vanna.  I’m glad I’m not married to her.  I’ll go out back and take a picture of our snow drops for you. Bright sunshine on the island today. Be right back . . .

us, today

Whew, I’m IN . . .  it’s freeeeeezing out there!  I laid flat on my stomach for this one, a lovely whale-like sight in giant old leather jacket . . . snow’s all blown away but the ground is an ice cube ~ we’re hearing we may have another storm coming soon, and yet, despite common sense and every other thing, from the frozen tundra the miracle occurs and there it is, new life, our first snow drops poking through little crunchy iceberg-like dirt clods. 

Bird bath

I saw this out there too, they think it’s spring!  . . . Oh!  and one more thing I can tell you. . .

garland

Our handmade Bunny Banner and Lambie-Pie Garlands have finally arrived!  Yay!

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Oh, I hear Vanna, clunking down the stairs in her pink slippers, she’s coming, that bonnet is ready to go . . . now what was that Giveaway?ah yes!

Ah, yes.  I remember it well.  And, with a little drum roll, Jack watching her every move, the lavender-bath-oil-smelling Vanna puts long arm deep into the bonnet and swirls the names until they become a blur, she’s in there up to her shoulder . . . she’s pulling a name, hope it’s yours – hope it’s yours . . . pulling out, out, out, here it comes!  She’s got one!  Thank you Vanna, beautifully done!  And now, with no further adieu, well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you, I’ll show you instead . . .

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for Karen

Signed, sealed, flowered and ready to be delivered to  K A R E N    P O W E L L  . . . I sent her an email and told her she is our winner.  Karen, if you read this, Congratulations from all of us!!  Write me back and tell me where to send your KITCHEN GARDEN BOOK and LAMB CAKE MOLD. 

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Things wouldn’t be right unless there was a consolation prize no matter how small, a little cheerer upper, how about a beautiful photo of the Forget-Me-Nots from Bateman’s garden in England?  That should cheer anyone up!

forget me nots

It won’t be long and this wonderful little flower will be blooming all over America!  Also, for those of you wishing to get your hands on your own vintage copy of KITCHEN GARDENS illustrated by Tasha Tudor . . . I have been thinking of you.  On our cross-country driving trip, whenever I ran into a copy of this book (not as often as I wished) I bought it and took my little stack to Kellee at the studio!  She’s taken pictures of them, and is putting them up in Kitchen Gardensthe VINTAGE section of our web store even as we speak.  So there are a few anyway.  Go see.  And with that happy thought, I will let you get on with the creative business of living life and I will go back to the art table!  Wishing you the MOST wonderful day, thank you for all your fabulous comments!  It was a joy.  Oh!  One more thing Girlfriends, speaking of comments, I can’t thank you enough for all your kind words about A FINE ROMANCE.  I spent many months writing that book and am still living in the glow of it ~ I periodically see it, pick it up, and kiss it.  Can’t be helped, I love it.  It’s like a little friend.  And as of today, we have 267 five-star reviews on Amazon and I could not be more surprised and thrilled (and grateful!). Thought you’d like to know since you are the ones that made it happen. Bye for now, see you soon!  ♥  XOXO

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400 Responses to Lamb Cakes and Kitchen Gardens

  1. Gail Buss says:

    Special congrats to Karen on winning! She must be so so very excited. Loved your blog and especially about D.A. I’m still worried about the Bates thing even though the stubs were burned, and I hope someone doesn’t come forward who witnessed anything. I too loved all the straw hats and lighter colored dresses. And thinking of Mary’s suitors……..it’s amazing how they all are crazy about her and while she has a pretty face she is a bit standoffish (did I just make up that word?) Thinking of how they dressed then and you really couldn’t see if they had any shape or not compared to the way the younger women dress today with half or most of their breasts hanging out it shows how times have certainly changed for the worse I think. The women back then were more self-assured but today they just try to please the men and think this is the way to lure them. Why can’t they see that the man has to love you for who you are on the inside or it won’t last. It’s so much nicer to leave more to the imagination I think. On another note…….Daisy……..I’m still hoping that she and Alfred get together down the road………she still loves him so much. I wish they would write Thomas Barrow out of it. I can’t stand his smirk but I know we can’t only have good people on the show. Loving how Baxter and Moseley are getting on together and that she is standing up to Thomas. I will be so happy for Edith and hope nothing stops her from getting her little girl nearby. I’m still not sure and I’m looking forward to seeing what actually happened to her Michael. Finally………I love Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. They are such good friends and it was so very sweet to see them helping each other at the beach in the water so they didn’t tumble………..one never knows where that is going. I must say (and I might have said it before) I love how the British say the word “mean-spirited” instead of just that person is mean or a certain act is mean. What a great word. Now that Joe and I have our characters from the quiz…………we sometimes call each other by that name. It’s great fun!
    Thanks for all you do, Susan. Have a beautiful day. Hugs, Gail xo

  2. Christine D says:

    Cant believe you don’t have snow on the ground! We have high banks of it everywhere ! We haven’t seen the ground in months! So happy they are doing good things for Daisy! I was just telling my sister she needed a makeover and lots of suitors! She had better morals then Rose! Loved the hats to! I don’t like what they have done to Anna and Bates Anna was always so sweet and why did they have to wreck Bates? They needed to kill off Thomas no Mathew. Edith great job I knew she couldnt leave her child behind! go girl!

    • sbranch says:

      I think Anna seems 100% happier, prettier, everything since that creature died. She was almost a different person in this last episode. I like Bates too. Do you mean they wrecked him by sending him to prison? If everyone was really nice we would get bored with this pretty fast. Gotta have some ups and downs to make it interesting.

      • Christine D says:

        Bates seems so sinister and darker where he used to seem nicer
        I know you need to have ups and downs but its hard to see when you really like the characters lol. Anna seems a little better

      • Holly says:

        I agree. Anna is happier and recovering. I love Mr. Bates. He reminds me of a man from a much earlier time. He is like a clansman, loyal to his leader (Lord Crawley), and defender of those he loves. As his character is written, he really had to take care of the situation.

        • sbranch says:

          I’m afraid I would want Joe to throw someone like that in front of a bus (as long as he did not get caught!). I have a streak of outlaw in me … so I can relate to Bates!

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Everyone,

      I am so glad to find other Downton Abby groupies. I really enjoyed Sunday’s telecast. I live in Michigan and have not found anyone who watches the show or has the same interest as me. It was so wonderful that some really positive things are happening in these folks lives. I was getting worried about Mr. Bates. I did not want to him to go jail again and Daisy to America. I can go on, on, but I will keep tuned in this discussion. Cathy

  3. Patricia from Philly says:

    Thank you, Countess Susan, for all the beauty you bring us Girlfriends each and every day. Blessings to you and Earl Hall, Lady Girl Kitty and Lord Jack!
    In all of this prolonged winter, Downton brought us a bit of gorgeous sunshine even on a Sunday night! I for one cannot believe it will be a whole year (oh, the agony!) til we find out what happens to all these wonderful characters. But for me, I long for Edith to find happiness with her Michael and baby girl. And I know in my heart that one day, she and Mary will be best friends. Mary WILL come to her senses and realize what a true treasure – a jewel – her sister Edith really is!
    Thank you for all the bouquets you send us – us Northerners really need a shot of Springtime – and soon! The snow is coming down here in Philly -to quote Forrest Gump in a slight southern drawl – “again”.

  4. I have the Kitchen Gardens book and love it! My five star rating is on of those, still one of my favorite books of all time… ever. And that is saying something from one that has a “book blog”. 😉

    I saw an interview with J. F. saying he wanted to show that Mr. Bates had a dark side of him due to his past experiences. I was SO afraid he would end up back in jail and instead saw Mary toss that ticket into the fire. Yes!

    • sbranch says:

      Yesssss! So glad we agree on the Kitchen Garden book — I read it every year when I want to get inspired to plan the garden!

  5. Rayma Halloran says:

    Hi Susan: so glad you are a DA fan, of course, I knew you would be! I savor the dresses, hats and jewelry, too! I think Baxter has a story to tell! something bad happened to her in London that we will find out about next season. Maybe that is why Thomas has such power over her. Thomas is certainly a good villain, isn’t he? I was also so relieved that Edith brought the baby back to England and am so hoping for a reunion between her, Michael and babe! They’ve just got to give Edith a little happiness, she’s been forlorn too long! Not sure I like the new characters though!

  6. Patricia from Philly says:

    Hello again, Susan… the more I look at that lovely photo of Daisy amidst the picnic paraphernalia, the more convinced I am that she would make a terrific subject for a lovely watercolor drawing! Just sayin’ …

  7. Julianne L. says:

    Susan, I am such a Downton Abbey fan that I made a visit to Highclere Castle last summer. I cannot get enough of that show. *Sigh*

    • sbranch says:

      How was the castle? I’ve wondered.

      • Julianne L. says:

        It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. We toured the breathtaking gardens, had tea there, and then took the castle tour. If you’re ever in the area, you must visit. I bought my tickets several months in advance.

        • sbranch says:

          We tried last time, but it was closed because they were filming. I think it’s probably a lot like Chatsworth . . . did you go there by any chance? Another grand estate filled with art.

  8. Anne in Maine says:

    Congratulations to Karen! I have the Kitchen Garden book. It was a treasure I found on one of my second hand store jaunts. I hope she loves her copy as much as I love mine. Susan, thank you sooo much for the spoiler alert. I am watching the DVD of season 4 of Downton and am only on episode three. (And I really DID close my eyes to scroll down to the remainder of the post.) I loved the picture of your snow drops sprouting up. It assures me that spring will really reach my corner of the world some day. Right now we’re still buried under five feet of snow. But my husband surprised me at work today and brought me a big bunch of daffodils. So, it’s a happy, happy day and it’s getting closer to watching the next episode of Downton for me. (Friday night is my night to watch my DVD. As hard as it is I only let myself watch one episode at a time.) Have a great day. Anne

  9. Carol Oliver says:

    OH MY GOSH!!
    Susan, what a great Blog…and so sad I did not win..maybe next time.
    I Love,Love, Love your talking about Downton Abbey..and Yes to everything, it
    was fabulous, and Iwill watch it several times before…next year…that’s sad too. The Hats, you are right, the one thing that I always look at…SO COCO CHANEL….all of them that are Straw…I have them all over my bedroom wall, so pretty to look at, and fun to wear antiquing..and if there is an Earthquake, and they fall on my Head, it wont kill me.lol…
    Thank you for lovely words and discussing Downton Abbey.. as I said, you and I watch and notice all the same things, all of it, and yes the ending was lovely.
    If I did not tell you before, the photo of your Snowing House a few blogs ago, is my LOVELY desktop background and I smile every time I turn on my computer.. Thank you
    Carol O. in So. Calif. with your Red Toile Gravy Bowl..xo

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Carol! We will have this gravy bowl and permanent lifetime connection! Who would have thought? 🙂

  10. Grace says:

    Downton Abby finale ball had a delightful scene with Violet and Branson. Despite Martha’s earler remarks admonishing Violet that she was stuck in the past, the Dowager Countess stepped into the future by accepting Branson’s invitation to dance.
    I love your big bonnet and love the “Downton” hats. Parkhust, a Canadian hat company, has great winter “Downton” style hats. Do you or any of the Girlfriends have any “Downton” style summer hat company suggestions? Spring is in 23 days!

    • sbranch says:

      I thought she seemed a little shy in accepting “Do you mean it?” Made me love her even more. Not to mention, him.

  11. Susan P says:

    CONGRATULATIONS KAREN…..Enjoy Enjoy and then Enjoy again! Let us know how the Lamb Cake turned out. If anything it should be fun making it with your daughter and memories forever Enjoy, Susan P.

  12. Hi Susan:
    Forgive me for the message here, but I know you moderate so…

    I met with a fabric rep this morning and she mentioned the two companies she represents were both looking for new artists to do fabric lines. I’m not sure of the looks they are seeking but thought I’d share the information with you. They are:

    Michael Miller Fabrics – contact would be Kathy Miller, creative director & owner. Kathy@michaelmillerfabrics.com or Christine Osmers – Christine@michaelmillerfabrics.com

    Also Westminster Fabrics – Joyce Robertson, joyce.robertson@westminsterfibers.com They are owned by Coats and Clark.

    Good luck Susan,
    xo Suzanne

  13. Arline in LA says:

    Congrats, Karen! What a lovely treat for Easter.
    And as for Downton — I loved the season ender this time. But, so many story lines! It seemed like they were rushing to get them all in. I fear Michael is a goner. And when Edith threw out the line, “You wouldn’t know because you are not a mother”, I wondered if Aunt Rosamund had her own secret. And, I love Mary, but really . . . her lover died in her bed and she of all people is suddenly judgmental because a bad guy died? AND, I do think that Bates knew all of those tricks such as forgery and pocket picking before he went to prison. We still don’t know the prior relationship between him and Lord Grantham. Had to go look up Freda Dudley-Ward on Wikipedia to learn about that real story, which was very interesting. Oh, and wasn’t it adorable to see the chauffeur from “Saving Mr Banks” as the swarmy brother of Martha Levinson? Lots to look forward to!

    • sbranch says:

      I bet Bates was a spy for the Allies in the war! They’ll come to give him the Victoria Cross for valor above and beyond the call of duty at the end of this, and make him a Lord.

  14. Deborah T. Norling says:

    Yay for Karen Powell ! ! What a special treat…and…thank you for the synopsis of episode 8 of Downton…I was weeping at the end with Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson…partly because it was so sweet and adorable and..partly because I don’t know how I can stand the wait until January 2015 ! !

  15. Judi from Milwaukie, OR says:

    Hi Susan, I have an ongoing project…..adding to my recipe binders that contains recipes that I have cut out and saved for the past 20 years or so (from magazines that I read in Doctor’s offices, my own subscriptions, newspaper articles and the like). What’s funny is that I have a large cookbook collection so I never got around to trying all these “clipped recipes.” I am starting to now. I told my girls that if I die before I finish (I’m 65) they will have to finish trying them out. In going through these clippings I found five of yours from “Country Living Magazine”, probably at least 15 years ago. They are Cheese Cake, Spring Garden Pasta, Valentine Cherry Tarts, Country Cole Slaw and Strawberry Shortcake. I saved these even before I was aware of your wonderful books. I so enjoy your blog. God bless you and yours:)

  16. Judi from Milwaukie, OR says:

    Here I am again. Forgot to mention that my favorite Cheesecake Recipe is yours from “Heart of the Home.” My husband is trying to be gluten-free. I made it without the graham cracker crust. Just poured the filling in a parchment lined pie plate and substituted the sugar for coconut sugar (no after taste with this alternative). It’s still wonderful. It’s like a pudding and .
    Both recipes are so easy to make. Thank you:)

    • sbranch says:

      You can do it with gluten free cookies too…so many good ones out there now. That recipe came from my ex-sister-in-law and I agree, I’ve never tasted one I like better. Thank you for the ideas for substitution …

  17. Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    Oh, congratulations go to Karen Powell on being the lucky winner! It’s always such fun seeing who will win.

    Don’t you just love to go out in your garden and see the first flowers coming up out of the ground?! They are such brave little souls. I just went outside to see if I could find anything coming up. We’ve had a couple really warm spells this winter so some of the daffodils have come up about 3 inches. They’ve been like that for a long time. Am anxious to see if they mature or if the really cold temps got a hold of them. But, I did see about 4 flowers just breaking the surface. I think that they are tulips, but I’m not sure. You see, I planted a bunch of bulbs last October so that I would have some flowers come springtime. I won’t be keeping them where I planted them, but it was the only place at that time that I could plant anything. I was very excited to see the coming of spring. By this weekend, the artic air will once again be with us. Hopefully, for the last time this year.

    I have to agree with you, Susan, I love all the different hats that the Downton Abby women wear. I really think that my favorite hats are worn by Maggie Smith.

    Well, I’m off to organize all the stamps that I bought so that I can start making some greeting cards. I’m having fun, as the stamps are a different medium from what I’m used to using,

    Until the next time…..

    xoxo
    Carol M

  18. Anne R. says:

    Hello from Canada,
    I recently signed up to receive your blog postings, and am so glad I did. I too love vintage, and pretty things, and England, and Downton fashions, and and and…

    Thank you for a lovely way to de-stress after work. Today’s picture of the forget-me-nots was especially welcome considering the continuing sub-zero temperatures up here. The flowers will be back, right?

    • sbranch says:

      I had to laugh at that, Anne, I’m pretty sure they will be. Ours are breaking through against all odds.

      • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        “The deeper the snow….the brighter the bloom!”

        • sbranch says:

          Now that is something I love to hear!

        • Carol (Daisy) says:

          Oh thank you Chris so much for the quote. . . I had never heard it before but it is a positive note for us here in Wisconsin as we have been experiencing a loooong somewhat nasty winter. We really need something positive to get us through to April! 🙂

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Hi Anne, I was thinking the same thing so I took my frozen little self to a wonderful green grocer and bought a beautiful bouquet of bright yellow daffodils – three bunchs actually and they look breathtaking in my colbalt blue vase. Instant spring, inside, anyway. Keep warm!

        • Janet in Rochester says:

          Perfect combination!! Daffodils and cobalt blue glass. I’m keeping a list of “Great Combinations” and that will definitely be my next entry. Thank you, Elaine…

  19. Betty says:

    What a happy place your blog is! It’s a wonderful place to find positivity and good cheer. The latest season of Downton Abbey has just started here, probably the one you have just seen. I love it! Brings back lovely memories of my trip to England last Spring (English). As does your wonderful book. I visited the beautiful Sissinghurst and many other charming English gardens.
    We are at the end of a hot summer here and looking forward to Autumn. I’m also looking forward to Spring in your part of the world via your blog and those of some other American friends, like Gert 🙂
    Congratulations Karen! You’re going to have a lot of fun with your sweet prize.
    Happy days to you Susan!
    Betty (Melbourne)

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Betty in Melbourne! How fun you are just going into my favorite season and starting Downton Abbey. Let us know how it goes!

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Betty, Are you from Melbourne, Aust.? I just arrived back from New Zealand and Aust. I was there for 3 weeks and had a wonderful time. I visited Larnach Castle and Gardens in New Zealand, wow, what a beautiful site to behold. The host a Victorian Ball there in July. I visited many other places as well and everyone was so kind and polite. I did love Melbourne it was beautiful as well. Take care, Cathy

  20. Cindy C. says:

    How lucky is Karen Powell. Way to go Karen! And I love Downton Abby. Love the life, castle, dresses, hats and the people. They just don’t make shows like that anymore. I am a quilter and am thinking about making a quilt using the Downton Abby fabric.

  21. barbara lassiter says:

    Alas, and what can I be thinking? I have never watched Downton Abbey, though I do love anything about England and Scotland. I might be the only one who doesn’t watch it. I just don’t enjoy watching TV any more and I’d rather read or get crafty and create cards or bake or knit, etc. Speaking of reading, I just purchased A Fine Romance for my friend for her birthday. Another friend and I will celebrate with her on Friday (weather permitting), and I think she is going to love your book. And congratulations to Karen, too! That was a neat giveaway!

    • sbranch says:

      I always choose my TV shows based on, “can I read, knit, or write in my diary while it’s on.” That’s the reason I don’t really watch sports, it requires attendance, and I just don’t attend. But I have made a big amendment to the rule when it comes to Downton Abbey. The scenes are filled with so much beauty, I don’t want to miss any backgrounds even. It’s like being in the most wonderful antique store in the world! I love looking at all that stuff. So, it’s only an hour or so a week. Not trying to talk you into it. Thank you for your spreading around of A Fine Romance . . . I so appreciate that!

      • stephanie says:

        Oh my goodness! I pick my tv shows for the knitting possibilities too! I love to DVR Charlie Rose and all the night people (Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon etc.) because it’s mostly jokes and light banter and there is nothing to watch – great knitting time!

        Speaking of which – on youtube is a 1 hour discussion between Ken Burns and Conan O’Brien about the Gettysburg Address – just wonderful to listen to – very inspiring and soothed my patriotic soul.

  22. Pamela C Betz says:

    Susan–I gave “A Fine Romance” to a friend for her Birthday. Just received the nicest thank you note, she and her husband had started reading it. Having been to England they really are enjoying it!

    Of course, I have my own copy, and having followed you on your blog while you were in the UK, I’m just loving the art.

    Sincerely, Pamela

  23. Nellie says:

    Congratulations to lucky Karen!

    Loved your description of Vanna coming down the stairs in her noisy slippers.:-)

    You are hardier than I! I don’t believe I would be able to lie on my stomach on our cold ground to take a picture of beautiful flowers.

    I have seen robins in our yard this week, and this morning heard lots of singing when I went out for the paper. It was a cold morning, too!

    Thanks for your Downton Abbey synopsis. I love to hear your enthusiasm!

    February is winding down. Will March come in like a lion or like a lamb?

    Take care.

    xo Nellie

  24. Robbie says:

    All this Downton Abbey talk makes me want to cue it up on Amazon Prime and watch Season 4. I gave it up after Season 3 – when they offed Sybil (she was one of my favorite characters)… and then Matthew! I was just so ticked off! ❉ Of course, I guess they didn’t have any choice since the actor wanted to leave – I think. Plus, none of my friends were watching and I had no one to talk to about it. So much more fun to hash it over with friends!

    • sbranch says:

      I agree, the hashing is as much fun as the watching! I think Julian should read this blog for plot twist ideas! 🙂

  25. Deb says:

    You make me SMILE! I love reading your blog. Thank you for sharing your lovely style of writing. 🙂

  26. Sharon in Fresno, CA says:

    As I absorb every word from your books which I have been devouring since their arrival over the past three weeks since I stumbled into your blog about your Peter Rabbit room, I am amazed at the similarities in our lives. I feel as if we knew each other before somewhere in time. I was born in 1942 and grew up in Southern California, just over the hill from you in the San Fernando Valley, in West Los Angeles and went to Uni High School. My maiden name is Smith. I would spend summers with my girl friends at the beach and we would all go back to school in September with glorious golden tans (which I am paying the price for now, but was worth it then). From my first marriage I have seven children. From my second marriage I found happiness. My husband’s name is Ron and he is from Iowa. I too have a Peter Rabbit room which holds my collections of Beatrix Potter’s figurines, music boxes, books and other memorabilia. I have 6 display cabinets which hold them all. I also have been to the Lake District in England where we spent a week exploring and discovering all that Beatrix Potter loved so dearly, including or course, her home. I thought no one could possibly be as infatuated as I am over her stories and such, but you are. I love your stories and blogs and pictures and books and recipes, oh my! Never stop oh kindred spirit! No I am not a nut case writing on your blog.

    • sbranch says:

      The thing I learned from my very first book is how alike so many of us are. We like home, family, connection, coziness, sweetness and light — generally speaking. And we like to collect things, we like little things, we like being self-sufficient and making things with our hands. We are givers, hopers, animal lovers, children huggers. We love to make memories for our loved ones. We have heroes and they inspire us. We are happiest when we are in a gaggle, having tea, going to the movies, drinking wine, having lunch, talking about books we’ve read, bringing each other veggies from our garden, dancing, running through the backyards looking for the Beatles, or going on road trips. Every letter I got from way back told me this was true. It was the best thing I learned from this book-writing adventure I’ve been on. There is nothing more I love than the celebration of all the wonderful things in life — and having us together, a gaggle, or should I say, a giggle, here on the Internet. So I am not surprised Sharon, you are definitely NOT a nut case, you are normal 🙂 . . . xoxo

      • mary spring says:

        …this is exactly why I come here everyday…thank you..as spoken so wisely before, “take joy”….

        • Elaine in Toronto says:

          Oh, yes Mary, Tasha Tudor was right! Take Joy!

          • mary spring says:

            ..actually, I’m thinking “take joy” was from Fra Giovanni’s famous Christmas poem….

          • mary spring says:

            …hi..(it’s me again (!!)).. Elaine, thanks for commenting.. I do love Tasha Tudor’s Christmas book, Take Joy, also..she actually did print a copy of that lovely prayer towards the beginning of her book…so they both asked us to “take joy”… have a great day !

          • Elaine in Toronto says:

            Mary, yes you’re right but it was one of Tasha Tudor’s favourite quotes. Two of my girlfriends and I have chosen the word “joy” as our word this year and I printed out Fra Giovanni’s poem for each of us and I found the word “joy” in sparkly letters to accompany the poem.

      • Normal Sharon in Fresno says:

        Oh Susan, thank you for those wonderful words. So sorry to read that Willemein is going to lose her house in the Netherlands. Wonderful place. Been to Amsterdam and loved, loved it.

      • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

        traveling in a gaggle–love it! even to the bathroom together!

  27. willemien says:

    Congratulations to Karen! Have fun with your lamb and that lovely book!
    Lots of love from Willemien from the Netherlands!
    ps Dear Susan, love the little blue flowers (forget-me-not/vergeet me nietjes) we have lots of them in the garden such a pretty sight! They’ll be coming soon, since we’re having such an early spring! I’ve got to take some with me to our other temperarely home (ours is going to be demolished in april…aaahhggr snif… due to dike reinforcement)
    Have a lovely day to all you girlfriends!
    xoxox Willemien

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry about the demolishing, that must feel so horrible! I hope you had some time to get used to the idea of this. I guess you need those dikes to work right! Yes! dig up your garden and take it with you. I wish I was there to help.

  28. Cindy Rush says:

    Oh dear, it appears I fell asleep through more of the show than I thought! I know, I know, How could I? I was SO tired and I tried as hard as I could, but I kept dozing off. I woke up to see Mrs. Huges and Mr. Carson holding hands walking in the water. I’m hoping for a repeat so I can watch it again and see what I missed. I wear hats all the time and I loved Daisy’s hat. I’m hoping to find a pattern! I saw Tasha Tudor at the Cincinnati Flower Show years ago and I got her autograph on a copy of her Garden book. I think I will get it out and dream, as we are in for another snow storm on Sunday. When I was in line for her autograph, someone had a copy of Kitchen Gardens. I had to find a copy, and after looking everywhere, I found one online. It’s not signed by her, or you, but I do love it! Congrats to Karen! Stay warm.

    Cindy Bee

    • sbranch says:

      Repeats of Downton are everywhere. On PBS, but also — if you have it–in “on demand” which is a button we can push on our TV remote for repeats of TV shows. We can get all the seasons that way . . . see if you have it. I couldn’t stay awake either.

  29. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Happy Thursday~ Congrats to Karen! ~ I too like to press flowers in my books or make little dried Tussie Mussies from the flowers in my garden or ones given to me by my grandchildren~ also in regards to Downton Abbey…are we really sure Mr. bates did it??
    OR… was the ticket stub really not his and someone planted it there????~ Stay warm~ it’s freezing here again!~

    • sbranch says:

      Your mind works in mysterious ways, you should apply for a job with Julian! He could use you Lynn!

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        ~ Yes that’s the Nancy Drew coming out in me! ~

        • judi says:

          I’m thinking the police will question “the rats” employer…who will then tell about Mary….then she’ll have to tell….. hmmmmmmmmmm. Between now and next Jan. WE can all write our own summer season for JF:)

  30. Heather L. says:

    Oh Downton Abbey was just the best! Also sad that it will be another year….oh well. Looking forward to Call the Midwife in the mean time. Reading “Time for Tea: Tea and Conversations with Thirteen English Women” by Michele Rivers right now and wishing we had an updated version (the book is 20 years old). My own copy of Vineyard Seasons has just arrived and can’t wait to dig into it!!!

  31. carmel says:

    Thanks so much for the Forget-me-nots. Lovely! I’m glad so many here are talking about Downton Abby. I’ve been sick and fell asleep for the second hour. I’m trying to catch up! From what I heard so far, I agree with Lynn. I wondered if Mr. Bates really did it. Too obvious. Home sick again today but looking forward to be well for March! 🙂 Take care everyone.

    • sbranch says:

      Feel better soon Carmel.

      • carmel says:

        Thank you, Susan. I appreciate being able to come to your website to be cheered up. By the way, this may be of some interest to anyone here. I just received my Smithsonian Associates catalog for workshops, field trips, etc. (I live in Arlington, VA a hop, skip & jump from all the Smithsonians). Marlo Thomas (“That Girl!”) is presenting on the power of reinvention. The blurb reads in part: ” Her newest book, “It Ain’t Over …Till It’s Over”, tells the personal stories of 50 women who have proven that it’s never to late to define and realize those possibilities.” I’m going to try to attend, but if not I’m buying her book anyway. I can never be reinforced enough about the possibilities in life as I grow older. It’s so reaffirming and brings the hope of more joy in life for me.

  32. Clair Becker says:

    Oh how I love your Blog. I too am a big fan of DA. and all things England. I record DA and watch them over and over. My Mother in law was a great fan of Tasha Tudor and I have all her books,love the drawings, it great to see them on your blog.

  33. Rebecca W says:

    As an FYI, since you mentioned Betty Crocker Kitchen Garden, it has gone from $45.00 on Amazon to $245.00. Wow!

    • sbranch says:

      What? That’s kind of wild.

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Here in Canada I was able to buy it used at Chapters for eighteen dollars. Just got notification that it has shipped. I also found the lambkin cake mold for sale at our local bake shop. I am going to make the cake for my birthday celebration in March on St. Patrick’s day. A little Irish lamb.

      • Ilene Primack says:

        It is amazing what your suggesting a book can do! Some of these books are now listed for $400 and up. One rare book seller asked me why they seem to be flying out the doors. It is beautiful to see that your suggestion makes so many desirous of having this little beauty of a book. I was fortunate to find one on line for $25 but Ebay now is seeing higher prices and I’m sure sellers are crazy happy but have no idea because it was on your blog!!

        • sbranch says:

          I’m glad people are discovering them ~ it’s truly a wonderful little book ~ but shocked to hear that price. The good thing is that for every $400 book on Ebay, you can still find one on a bookshelf in a little corner of an antique store for $25, or even $3. That’s what I love about vintage stuff, wait and thou shalt be rewarded!

  34. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    Ah, Downton. I love it so! I also noticed the gorgeous hats and beautiful champagne flutes. Just now understanding why Lady Sybil died (or rather, why the actress Jessica Brown Findlay, left the show) because I saw the trailer of the movie, A Winter’s Tale, in which she stars. It looks quite beautiful, like a farytale. Anyway, now I’m looking forward to watching the entire season of Downton again, this time just to notice all the wonderful details that fly past when you are focused on the story. As for myself, just returned from a birthday trip to Phoenix to fill my heart up with grandchild love (one aged 6, one aged 6 months!). Feel like I must be glowing.;)

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds like the perfect birthday Rosanne!

      • Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

        Yes it was the perfect birthday, and I forgot to mention the lobster and champagne and strawberry mousse cake! And a darling plate with my little grandchildren’s handprints. It was good to be the Birthday Queen.;)

  35. Donna Babbitt, Brea, Ca. says:

    I agree with Lynn M. I do not believe Bates did it, though I would have helped him if he had. RAIN in Ca. we are giddy!!! My girlfriends and I were laughing yesterday at how we do “Snoopy Dances” when it gets rainy, we rush for our soup pots, hot chocolate, popcorn etc. It is a celebration!!!
    Doesn’t Edith look terribly thin and gaunt…………………………wonder if she did it just for the part. With WWll in the offing the plots can go on forever, love it!!!!
    What did we do on before Downton Abbey, seems it has always been around, what a treasure for we anglophiles to savor.
    I served Shepherds Pie. I thought, Sunday night, but my grandsons Brit girlfriend Emma informed me that only if made with lamb is it actually Shepherds Pie, otherwise it is Cottage Pie…………………did you all know that???
    Loving life with Downton plots, Cottage pie and RAIN!!!!!

    P.S. Gladys Tabor loved the author Beverley Nichols, said she read his books every year. I just got his book CAT’S ABC’S…………………………….fun, witty and wonderful for cat lovers especially and Down the Garden Path is pure delight; if not for Susan I would not have discovered Gladys, if not for Gladys no Beverley Nichols, an endless chain of wonderfulness!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Same for me, finding out everything is connected, little threads hooking inspiration from one to the next.

  36. Rhonda D. says:

    Congratulations to Karen! A beautiful gift for you and your daughter to enjoy together.

    Thanks for the highlights of Downton Abbey…loved the season finale…the hats, the beautiful clothing (I’m a seamstress and inspired now), Daisy stays home, Mr. Bates looks like he’s in the “clear” (hopefully), Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson holding hands at the end, Mary’s triplex love affair. And, of course, there’s Thomas…but I guess there’s one in every crowd. As they say, “what goes around, comes around.” (Can’t wait for that episode). I don’t care for new school teacher love interest either. She’s not even pretty or refined like all the other ladies. A friend of mine had a lovely hat made using the antique lace that had been in her family back in the 1800’s. I wish I could show you a picture of it. I know J. Fellowes would approve. Sometimes in life we manage to stumble across these little treasures.

    I visited with a beautiful friend of mine yesterday. She turned 95 years young on Sunday. And she just goes and goes and goes. Her daughter-in-law said that she can’t keep up with her. I feel so blessed to have such an inspiration in my life. She treated me to a tea party complete with the fine china, homemade bread, cranberry jelly. And then she had a gift for me…handmade knit slippers with ears on the sides, little black eyes on the top, and a red line around the toes for a mouth. The perfect ending to a perfect day. Thank you Susan for helping me to be more aware of the little moments in life that really aren’t so little. Happy almost spring Girlfriends!

    • Paula says:

      Wow! 95 years old and still serving up tea! Have you any idea, Rhonda, of some tips your friend might give us to increase our energy and health and longevity? 🙂

  37. chris consentino says:

    thank you. oh! thank you, Susan, for sooooo much. can’t begin the list…..don’t have a ga-zillion hours, but…..most-of-all….thank you for being you! yesterday I was “going-thru” a box of stuff not yet un-packed from our recent move…I found a 1994 calendar of yours! I KNEW I had known you for ages. but, the very, very most wonderful part…on the april & may pages…there was my son’s handwriting in several of the squares. there were names of towns in our native nh. they were his “away” baseball games (in high-school)…that was the most touching moment!!! wow!!!! then, sadly, about an hour later, got an e-mail from him….his father-in-law had passed away on Tuesday, so he & family were heading to be there. soooo sad. he also sent a little “movie-pic” (don’t know the tech name for such, but a moving-pic you take on your phone) of his 1 yr old little girl, dragging her “carry-on” luggage, running up the gangway, with her mama some steps behind her, wiping her eyes as they boarded the plane for a last trip to honor her dad. soooo sad. oh, dear. well, anyway, it was quite a day here. but, thank you all for being here as a cushion to life’s tough moments.

  38. Susan, I think one of the most endearing things about you is the ability to see the positive… I loved it when you referred to Prince Albert as “a doll”… I’m not sure how much you’ve read about him, but that’s the first time I’ve heard him called such a thing! Somehow, though, coming from you, I think even Prince Albert would have appreciated it! One of the interesting things about that scene in Downton was that we got to see something like the Albert Memorial as it was then – a place where one could picnic. I wonder if it’s still that way? I’ve always imagined it as being in the middle of a lot of traffic. Oh to picnic as they used to! I suppose that it helps to have a fully staffed kitchen to prepare and some liveried staff to serve! I wonder if I could get my sons to dress up in livery??? Have a wonderful day!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve only picked up bits and pieces about Prince Albert along the way … most of what I got was from the movie “The Young Victoria” where he was played by (the doll) Rupert Friend. He was a great support to Victoria, she was crazy about him and he was the father of her nine children; he worked for educational reform, abolition of slavery and other good things for his country. I think, given his circumstances, he was kind of heroic.

      I’m sure they still allow picnics — well maybe not at the Albert Memorial, I don’t know, but one thing we noticed when we were there, the English people are a picnicking people and you can walk on all the grass in all their parks and spread your blanket and have your picnic pretty much everywhere there is lawn. We saw this and then we began to do it ourselves.

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        When my mom was in a nursing home my husband and I visited her every week. We would pack a picnic lunch and have it outside at the one, lone picnic table weather permitting. If it was raining or in the winter, we simply moved indoors. The staff thought it was wonderful that we would go to all that effort week after week and would always stop and say hello when we were outside. The last picnic was on Mom’s ninety fourth birthday and we had birthday cake. I have pictures, too. I used to bring real china plates and teacups with tea in a thermos, deviled eggs, little sandwiches, sometimes soup in the winter. I still love picnics.

  39. Jocelyn says:

    Your posts are always so lovely to read. Refreshing and perky 🙂 We are enjoying the blooms of spring here in Florida. I’m sorry the rest of the nation is still covered in snow, but it makes you appreciate spring all the more.

  40. I have watched that fabulously wonderful and wonderfully fabulous Downton Abbey beach scene a few times now, and it gets to me every time. Loved, loved, loved the season finale —– and it’s going to be a long time before next January! I plan to console myself with the PBS video of this season on their website. And I am inspired to do a few art pieces featuring that gorgeous British beach!

    Congratulations, Karen, for winning the nifty prize.

    • sbranch says:

      I love that they take us places . . . to the beach, to London, to parties, parades and country bazaars.

  41. Pamela Jo says:

    Really love all of the Downton Abbey content, Susan! The season finale was wonderful. So much better than last year. The fashions, hats, and locations were beautiful! As I was watching the scenes with Lady Rosamund and Edith, I kept wondering if, perhaps, Edith might really be Rosamund’s daughter?? That would be a great plot for next season.

    The Forget-Me-Nots are lovely and put me in the mood for Spring. My late Fiance gifted me with a beautiful paperweight of preserved Forget-Me-Nots about 10 years ago. It’s from Great Britain and is so pretty. I lost my Fiance to cancer several years ago….Little did I realize how precious and meaningful that simple paperweight would become. It is a sweet memory and a comforting treasure to me now.

    Thanks so much for your blog! You always manage to touch the hearts of many with your photos and your words! You’re the best, Susan!

    Pamela Jo
    ~xoxo~

    • sbranch says:

      It’s important that people leave bits of themselves behind. How lucky you are to have that Pamela Jo.

  42. Lorraine says:

    So happy for Karen…. Congratulations and enjoy! I will keep my eyes open for that special kitchen garden book when I’m out and about at garage sales, estate sales, used bookstores, etc… I am also a huge Tasha Tudor fan.

    I agree – it was a wonderful Downton Abbey – and you hit so many key points. I think my favorite was Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson holding hands. I bet there were many, many “awwwws” going out into the Universe at the same time. And so happy for Daisy – someone finally saw her for her lovely self. I laughed when she first met the valet and he asked her if she was excited being in London – and her reply was she didn’t get excited. Ha! Overall, I gave it two thumbs up and looking forward to the next season. In the meantime, I’m anxiously awaiting “Call the Midwife.”

    Looking forward to those spring flowers. I planted 50 more daffodil bulbs last fall and fingers crossed they made it through this very cold winter and will all bloom this spring. First we have to get through the next week – which includes more cold temps and snow. But I truly appreciate the lovely spring photos. It most definitely helps. Thank you. Stay warm everyone. I enjoyed reading the comments.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh you do have something to look forward too. Us too, we planted more daffodils and some tulips. They always feel like a “surprise!”

  43. Congratulations Karen! You lucky gal you! Ah Downton…I am wondering where the Downton ladies shop as they always manage to be wearing the latest and greatest fashions and that was way before internet shopping! 🙂 This season was so suspenseful and ended up on a happy note. That will keep me going for awhile. I always watch it every time it is shown plus I tape it. I cannot get enough of it and love it each time over and over and over. I cannot help myself.

    • sbranch says:

      I was JUST thinking I would like to go shopping with them (on the show — they go, we watch!) Probably the dress makers come to the house. Or maybe they actually LIVE at the house.

  44. Lisa from Connecticut says:

    Susan, I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this, but I think Edith will have an attraction to the farmer who is taking her baby in. Do you remember in season 2 when she worked on a farm for a while and then actually kissed the farmer (with his wife noticing) and then was told that her services were no longer needed? Could this be the same farmer? Why else would she trust her baby girl to someone she had no ties to? Also….my daughter thinks that Edith’s fiancee is getting involved with the Nazi’s. Good grief….I can’t wait for next season!!!

    • sbranch says:

      That flickered through my mind too. He seemed sturdy. But he is married. I need to go back to season 2.

  45. Denise Eubanks says:

    So funny you mentioned the hats on Downton. For the last 2 weeks, they’ve been exceptionally beautiful!

    • sbranch says:

      The more popular the show gets, I’m thinking the more money gets poured into it for hats and all the wonderful details, trips to the beach, picnics and parades and such.

  46. lani nelson says:

    Hi,
    I wanted to share something from a few years back. Well more than a few. I have saved all my Country Garden magazines. Though retired- I am still an early riser (4:30 am) and now that our weather is way too nice. (Northern California Coast- Eureka) I pull out a stack and plan and get inspired… I have been in my garden 24-7 lately. Well-the piece they did on your garden reminded me of how you indirectly influenced my friend to buy her home. She found a house and she wanted me to take a look. Cute 1925 cottage. I walked in… nice… then I walked into her kitchen. There was your kitchen window!!! No darling Beatrix Potter friends- but your window. When I walked out of the kitchen into the laundry and out a dark green screen door that slammed behind me. SOLD- I told her she had to buy it. Her home is lovely- She has filled it will wonderful vintage pottery, china, furnishings -It’s wonderful.
    Thank you Susan!!!
    Lani

  47. Marianne says:

    So loved your Downton Abbey views. We too are great fans and can’t wait for the next season. Love your blog and look forward to all the news from the vineyard. My husband and I spent many wonderful years on Cape Cod. We loved our day trips to the vineyard and Nantucket. Now we are in Pennsylvania but we get to New England every chance we can.
    Please keep taking those wonderful pictures and videos. It makes me feel like I am there too!
    Made oven baked beignets today. The New Orleans treat baked instead of fried. Topped with a dusting of powdered sugar they are a treat with a good cup of tea! Will share the recipe if you would like.

  48. stephanie says:

    I just got my new copy of YANKEE magazine (thanks to you I now subscribe and LOVE it!)… and saw a great story about the Daffodil Festival on Nantucket. I’m going to make a plan to go to that in 2015. I’m wondering if you’ve ever gone to it – are you going this year and if so can you take pictures for us?

    Especially this year with the 3 foot high mounds of cement-like ice, single digit temps and more snow coming… well I think we will all be very thankful to see spring. Just thinking about all those yellow flowers made me happy!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve never been. But that’s because our island must look like a carpet of yellow from the air during April. We have such wonderful daffodils here I’ve never had the yearning to be away. I should see what the date is for that.

  49. Janice says:

    Love love your “review” of Downton Abbey! My husband loves it too, we came on board after season 3 and bought all the tapes (caved and bought season 4 about a month ago, we couldn’t wait). We have converted several friends and family members by loaning them our tapes 🙂 I’ve had tiny daffodils blooming for over a week – what a welcome sight! More colors can’t be too far away!

  50. Good morning from Florida,
    I love this post about my/our beloved Downton figures. I mean, we feel as if we know them, don’t we? I agree with all you said. Daisy with her father in law, Violet and Isobel’s chatting, hooray for Edith and the ending to make you smile. The hats-ah yes, they are wonderful. All of the scenes have been magnificent. I want to freeze the frame and study them. What a wonderful creation.
    Can you please tell me if there are no more rugs? I have had my eye on two and could never make up my mind and when I went to look today, there were none there. Perhaps more in the works?
    Thank you for your breath of fresh air posts. I love them all and never tire of visiting the Peter Rabbit Room.
    Happy day, Ruthie

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sorry, but I think there are no more. I’m checking with Kellee ~ if she has any left, I’ll ask her to put them up on Monday. The world just doesn’t work the way it used to. We design new things and only so many are made and when they are gone, they are gone! It’s awful, but companies are always looking for “new” these days. The fabric lines I used to do were the worst … they lasted maybe six months at the most and then, no more!

  51. Forgot to mention how I loved hearing one of my favorite songs while reading…
    And as another poster mentioned-Call the Midwife is coming up. If you have never seen it, it is a must. You will be smitten. Good to go back and start at the beginning. I hear the books are a great read as well.
    Ta-ta

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve seen it a couple of times, need to get it on my “viewing” list …most TV I just use for background noise!

  52. Jan says:

    Susan,
    Congrats to Karen! Enjoy! A lovely gift to receive. Thanks for the peek at Spring. It will be here soon – we can hope. Haven’t got into watching Downton Abbey. Did watch one show and realized there is a lot going on. Need to catch up on the plot to enjoy it. Loved all the clothes, hats etc. though. Would like to find hats similar, for my granddaughters to decorate for our next tea party. Enjoy your day and the weekend. Thanks for all you do!
    Jan

  53. True Confessions:
    My best friend bought me the pan! (She’s the greatest) But we, she and I, are pretending we WON it from you. It isn’t hard. Did I mention her name is Karon? Anywhoooo, I own a copy of the Mary Mason Campbell and Tasha Tudor Kitchen Gardens book and since you didn’t inscribe the real winning Karen’s last name in the book -here’s where the true confession comes in…
    …I printed it out, “For Karen, with love Susan Branch winter 2014” and put it in my book! Then I skipped around my kitchen (picture it…) with my new lambie pan and book, newly dedicated to me from you, held triumphantly aloft, sing-songing, “We Won! We Won!” Thought you should know.

  54. Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

    Oh, my! Loved the picture of the coming snowdrops!! Still so much snow here–sunny and bright, but dreadfully cold so no snow is melting. But do you know what I’m glorying in?? Light earlier in the mornings means I will wake up earlier (so I can be “just like Susan”!!) and light longer in the evenings. Makes me very happy!

  55. Margie says:

    Oh my the 11th day since the 1st of the year we are below zero this a.m. I have been playing catch up on your last 3 blog entrees. The shot of springtime was just what I needed. Love the lamb cake it takes me back to Easters when my Grandma was with us. She made one each year for all of us to enjoy. We also had lamb shaped butter too. Congratulations Karen and Happy Spring! (we can at least dream) When I took our dog out today I snipped a few sprigs of forsythia to force. As always THANK YOU Susan for all the inspiration.
    Margie

  56. Kay - North Central Texas says:

    Congrats to Karen!

    I record DA and watch each episode several times – just to make sure I don’t miss anything.

    Have a good weekend and stay warm. Sounds like another round of cold weather coming. Can’t wait for spring!

  57. Frances Fowler says:

    Omg, omg, was that not THE sweetest last scene in Downton? I wanted to cry! I love Mrs. Hughes, who reminds me of Queenie Turrell in “Lark Rise to Candleford” – both of them strong, wise women. Mrs. Hughes sent that wench of a lady’s maid packing before she got her talons into Tom (who, I might add, needs to find a girl not so pushy; can’t say I’m very happy with Miss Bunting). I also love Mr. Mosely’s innocence and kindness; he was hilarious on the dance floor at the Ghillie’s Ball last season. And can I just say that, among ALL the beautiful dresses, I thought Rose’s red dress was spectacular. I enjoy Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes women’s banter over cups of tea. Now, on to the wait for season five. You are correct, there is so much to do until then. And for me, this includes reading my copy of “A Fine Romance” — it arrived in the mail and I cannot tell you how excited I was to open it and get just a glimpse of all the hours I will spend reading every beautiful page 🙂

  58. Gert~Iowa says:

    Congratulations to Karen! And congrats on the 4,000 comments Susan! I just started watching Downton Abbey, and loved those hats…gorgeous!! Don’t you just love all their beautiful clothes? And how they wear them! Best..best, best parts are those you showed!! Can’t wait till next winter either…for that anyway…lol

  59. Kari says:

    Congratulations to Karen! Such a sweet gift that will help make warm and loving memories! ~Kari

  60. Marge says:

    Susan, I read and loved The Goldfinch. It is a long book but one I couldn’t wait to get back to each time I put it down. I was quite disappointed that I missed seeing the actual Goldfinch painting on exhibit in NYC at the Frick. The exhibit ran from October – January 19, and when I realized it was there it was too late to make travel plans. The author, Donna Tartt, did a wonderful job of describing the artwork in her book so it made up for my missed opportunity. It is a good read … Enjoy. I’ll be waiting for your rating at Goodreads where we are friends.

  61. Stephanie says:

    Hi Susan,
    I LOVE Downton Abbey too and can’t believe we have to wait so long for the new season. But you’re right, lots to do to get ready for spring. I am one of the strange people who love winter and snow, but now it is time to get ready for tulips and daffodils! I am so happy that Karen won the lamb cake mold and book.

    I am savoring every page of A Fine Romance. I make tea and sit by the fire in silence so that I can absorb every detail. I don’t want it to end. Thanks for sharing your life experiences with us. You make me smile:)

    • sbranch says:

      It’s really all so good. Big white snow storm, yellow daffodils. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book. It’s really become my little friend now. I’ll always remember that wonderful trip.

  62. Cathy Guljas says:

    Hi! Susan, I just wanted to let you know what a great Christmas I had. I have been admiring the hooked rugs forever, imagine my horror when I went to admire them and they were no longer there. My daughter had asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said SB gift card, she said that was boring, so I was quite surprised to come home one evening after work to your octopus garden rug lying in my bathroom with a big bow on it and a note that said “Merry Christmas, didn’t know how to wrap this”. Next Christmas stop, my dad’s

  63. Cathy Guljas says:

    Hi! Susan, I just wanted to let you know what a great Christmas I had. I have been admiring the hooked rugs forever, imagine my horror when I went to admire them and they were no longer there. My daughter had asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said SB gift card, she said that was boring, so I was quite surprised to come home one evening after work to your octopus garden rug lying in my bathroom with a big bow on it and a note that said “Merry Christmas, didn’t know how to wrap this”. Next Christmas stop my dad’s and stepmoms. house, and what did I get!? the cupcake rug! She and I came to see you in Wilmington, Ohio. So, I figure my family must of gotten the last few rugs and made me one happy person this past Christmas.

  64. Jill A. Kirkpatrick says:

    Susan: I just love your blog and all the capsule comments and photos you have made about Downton Abbey. If fellow eager fans, like me, are interested, go to ew.com for the TV recap, especially the last one for the finale of Season 4. These recaps appear on the Monday morning after an episode. I must say, most of the followers who read the recaps have taken great umbrage with the observations of the critic this season. She has improved her sensitivities the last two reviews. But, what is truly not to be missed are all the comments of the readers that follow. At last count there were over 400. Most are quite brief, but many interesting insights and background facts are offered. The best ones are the speculations about the future plotlines that will be developed. Now, here is a new wrinkle for everyone to think about. With all the swirl around Lady Edith and her arrangements for her baby and the conversations she had with Lady Rosamund, quite a few have the feeling that Lady Edith, herself is really the daughter of Rosamund, who had her out-of-wedlock long ago and who then turned her over to Lord Grantham and Lady Cora to raise.
    It seems to many that Rosamund was offering her “advice” from a position of “having been there”….herself, perhaps, without directly revealing such. Lady Edith doesn’t resemble her parents or sibling(s) that closely. That would be an intriguing possibility, wouldn’t it? I dearly hope that she is reunited with her little one, that Michael turns up and that conveniently, his wife dies of natural causes in the mental hospital, so that they can marry and all be together in the end.
    Now, just in case that doesn’t happen that way, I am wondering, what if Mr. Drewe does indeed take in Edith’s daughter, with his wife,who unfortunately passes on, at some point. Michael never does come back, and Edith ends up with kindly Mr. Drewe and is very happy to be able to openly care for her own daughter and “his” children and no one else is any the wiser about the true relationship involved here. Except Rosamund…….And Edith would be financially secure due to Michael’s will (power of attorney), which would be of help.
    Also, from the commenters, it is 99% unanimous that most viewers do not like the brash and snarky SARAH BUNTING character at all. We would like to see her GONE and FAST. However, I think I read earlier on that she is destined to become the nanny for little Sybbie and a love interest for Tom. He needs to find a heart-of-gold young lass who is confident enough to hold her own with the others and be loving, loyal and supportive of Tom and Sybbie.
    I love all the little sub-plot romances of the various characters and wish that all evolve just the way we hope they will and I do want Lady Isobel to link up with Dr. Clarkson, eventually.
    That nasty Thomas can’t disappear soon enough for me.
    I am still pondering who Mary will prefer. Maybe, it could be with someone we haven’t even met yet. Most are favoring Charles, now.
    I have read that Julian Fellowes, the author, has determined the story will end just at the start of WW2, but not go “into” that time period. Season 4 is in the 1924-1925 time frame. So we have a way to go. Maybe there will be a Season 6 or even 7??????
    Until then, on PBS, there is the current Season 6 of Doc Martin, the upcoming Season 3 of Call the Midwife and Bletchley Circle, in April, I think, that will tide us over.
    While we wait and wait…….we can always check in “here” with Susan’s blog for refreshing and comforting musings on all the important distinctions of the seasons of “our” lives.

  65. Paula says:

    Congratulations, Karen! Susan, your generous, beauty-loving spirit are an encouragement to me. It is so fun to read what you post and then to enjoy the conversations that follow. My husband brought home yellow tulips yesterday: live, potted ones for the living room and cut for the kitchen. What joy! Thank you, as always, for sharing yourself with us. Give Joe my regards!

  66. Ruth says:

    I have never seen or heard of “Mermaids Toenails.” Love them! They look so cute on your white sill. I can’t tell how high that window sill is up from the floor, but it my house, my cat would get such a thrill as she threw them on the floor one by one!
    And a book about tea and tea parties? Hooray! I so wish Americans had kept that custom. Along with siestas every afternoon 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      So far the kitties have no interest in the shells or my heart-shaped rocks which is a good thing because I have them on almost every window sill in the house! No reason we can’t have a siesta with tea after. Perfection!

  67. Such a darling prize! I’d hate to cut into a cake so beautiful, but I would. 😉 I love your blog and your books and your calendars and your . . . just everything you do!

  68. Ellen Geeslin says:

    Made your carrot cake cupcakes. OMG!! They need another name-the simplicity of the word cupcake doesn’t do them justice!! They are delicious and full of fruits and vegetables-thus, good for you. Thanks for the blog and the art and the recipes and you!

  69. Maryse Bellizzi says:

    Perfect ending to Downton Abbey. (Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson). Hopefully Lady Edith will find happiness. Praying for spring!!!!

  70. Cathy says:

    Hi Susan, I have been reading your book A Fine Romance and what an enjoyable read. I am a true romantic at heart and your feelings, dreams, thoughts and desires are similar to mine. Thanks for sharing your story! We all have one and my love story started over 40 years ago but lost my true love five years ago. I depend on my two little dogs for comfort and joy now. They are my blessing. It is my dreams and my little two dogs that keep me going. You are gifted and cannot wait to get your other books.

    • sbranch says:

      I hear the loss in your comment, and the love and memories. Life is quite the conundrum sometimes. Happy about the doggies, they are pure love. Thank you Cathy. xoxo

  71. Barbara Stewart says:

    I love your new book ideas. I can’t wait. I am rereading “A Fine Romance” & loving it all over again. I also have a couple of book ideas, if you don’t already have in your files. I think a soup book would be great & over the years continue to love your favorite sayings & quotes & your beautiful art work.
    Just a thought. I am making your chicken soup this week for a friend,

  72. Susan Johnson says:

    How do I print out the lamb cake recipe. Your directions are wonderful. Thank you.

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