Nibbly Bits, what the boring old posh people get between their teeth at weddings, was definitely not going to be good enough for Mrs. Hughes. She wanted a BREAKFAST. And a bit of hooey. And me too, I wanted what she wanted! Strike up the MUSICA!


And boy did we get it! Isn’t it gorgeous? Is this the schoolhouse? Because it couldn’t be more perfect. And my favorite white bunting is BACK. They had it at Mary’s wedding too. So festive!



Well, they did it again Girlfriends, I cried all the way through it! The work they put into this show, the details, the creative everything, makes me proud to be a human being. I just love this Downton Abbey. As I’m watching I can’t help but think about the things I’m going to miss.


Besides the stories and the laughter and the tears, I am going to miss the Drawing Room, the prettiest most elegant room.


I love the green wallpaper and how good it looks with tuxedoes, dresses, and lampshades.


And this room, my absolute favorite, because of what is hanging on the walls, and the beautiful woodwork, and the draped table, and the candles. Please don’t go!

IMG_4955And this room, with the long tables and the cupboards, and the wonderful copper pots and pans and the steaming kettle. Because, just like on the show itself, for us too, all good things are coming to an end.


This was such a sad little part. When poor Mr. Barrow (who only needs a partner of his own to be happy, and also for Mr. Carson to quit shoving him out the door) went to look for a job and he came into this sad house where life as it had been was pretty much all gone away and met that sweet man who lost both his sons in the war, who’d worked in this house his whole life, and was preparing for the good times to return again. So well written, hearing him remember the women climbing the stairs in the old days and the twinkling of diamonds? Tears and sadness for a lost era, where beauty reigned. Remember the garden parties? The hats? A changing world: nightmare for people we love.


And how I will miss this WOMAN ~ who knows “many happy couples who haven’t spoken in years.”  The Countess of Grantham, known to her close friends like us as Violet or Granny, was in rare form last night. Accusing Mrs. Crawley of secretly drinking her lunch! I fear she will not be getting her way this time, and there may be hell to pay. I have to tell you though, I have a very difficult time telling Lord Merton and Dr. Clarkson apart. Are they the same person with different makeup. Do we ever see them in the same shot together?  Hmmmm. It seems to me one of them has got to marry Isobelle!  


And Edith! Life is getting so good for her!  She better snap this guy up. Anyone who rushes in to help and works into the night, must be in el-oh-ve-ee, Love! Remember Bertie? (Of course Edith would have to go with a Bertie!)  He flirted with her at the shooting party when they went to that other castle? At the time he referred to himself as an “agent” ~ I didn’t know what that was, but it didn’t sound all that royal so I wondered if he was “good” enough for Edith. Well, lo and behold, he owns that castle, he is an Earl or a Marquess or something, perfectly up to standards, and obviously a hard worker too, not a spoiled brat like some people we know. I hope he’s the one. (Edith will have to quit calling Marigold her “ward” — I’m hoping Marigold gets a new title: Flower Girl!)


Fabulous! Edith took over the magazine and fired that miserable guy ~ and I bet this will be the BEST EVER ISSUE RECORDED IN THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH MAGAZINES! 


But look at Lady Mary’s face when Edith is receiving approval from her father.  YikesIMG_4968

Tra-la, they don’t notice! They are the normal ones! (Although I didn’t like it that Robert coughed in another scene. That struck me as a bit foreboding. I need ALL these characters to get out of this show alive.)


Look who has a secret.  Look who’s smiling and perky and cute for the first time in the history of this show!!!!  Baby on board! Hooray!baby


The wedding was perfect. Poor Mr. Carson, all packed up, saying good bye to his bed.


And Mrs. Hughes, saying a little prayer in hers.


The girlfriends working everything out in Cora’s bedroom, about how to cover the ugly brown dress so that Mrs. Hughes will look slightly better than just “tidy” on her wedding day. Oops, Lady  Mary thoughtlessly forgot to mention the idea to her mother. Uh oh.

IMG_4976So Cora hurts everyone’s feelings with unkind words like “stealing” which she was very sorry for so we forgive her instantly with her totally loving and heartfelt apology. Cora is a good person and despite what her charming daughter says, I don’t think she’s one bit a snob. 


And now, let the show begin! A perfect wedding . . .



With lots of friends, and hopefully  some hooey what ever that is, since Mrs. Hughes wanted it.


Elsie Hughes and Charles Carson, we now pronounce you man and wife ~ you may go ahead and look like you have just swallowed the cat bird. Or whatever that phrase is. While I’m busy crying.

the happy couple

I wanted to add this photo, where you can really see all the details on both of them! Our Girlfriend Angie sent it to me on Twitter ~ it’s so much better than the photos I’m taking of the TV! Aren’t they adorable? That coat!




And then, just as we are toasting the happy couple . . . (coat looks pretty good!) . . . 


Who walks into the room and MAKES MY DAY?


Tom and Sibby!  They’re home! And Tom is looking straight at spoiled Lady Mary!!! And he is going to stay forever! 


I don’t know, I could be wrong, but it seems to me the only sensible ending for this. When all else fails, you have to go with common sense! Even if I’m wrong, I’ve already decided to be happy, so don’t let my longing and wishing upset you. I can take it.


Plus, here is Sibby hugging Mary’s little boy, George, the heir of Downton Abbey. I’m just saying’.  And that’s it for another FABULOUS week of Downton Abbey. Now I will go watch it (actually I will listen to it) again, and probably one more time, while I paint away this snowy day. The whole time I’m writing to you right now, the snow plow is going up and down Birds in the snowmy street outside my window. Dawn is just now breaking, and my view is of a pure white winter wonderland Christmas card outside. Life is good. Joe is making all of our bookstore dates. The tour (30th Anniversary of first book, btw, who would have thought, not me!) starts off with a tea party and fund raiser, a talk and a signing, a big wonderful event at the new delightful bookstore called An Unlikely Story in the darling little town of Plainville, MA ~ then it’s off to RJ Julia’s in Connecticut, New Hope, PA, and from there, points west, not necessarily in this order . . .  Kansas City, St. Charles, Chicago (for another Tea Party), Cedar Rapids, Denver, Salt Lake, Danville, CA, San Luis Obispo, to Vroman’s in Pasadena, to still another delightful tea party in Prescott, Arizona (more info to come), to Book People in Austin, Texas, and right now testing watercolorswe’re working on the wonderful Parnassus Books in Tennessee, if any of you are interested in that, I’m sure it would help us if they heard from you. I think we also have stops in Arkansas and North Carolina and New Jersey planned also. And More. Keep checking COMING SOON/EVENTS in the right-hand column of the blog for new additions. We’re not done yet. I’m so looking forward to meeting you out in the real world! But FIRST, before any of that, I must complete the book and get it to the printer! That’s my job!  So, back into the rabbit hole I go dear ones. Have a wonderful day, can’t wait to hear your take on Downton, or any other thing for that matter!  Girlfriends Forever!  Love, XOXO, me.

If you do it with heart


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Wild Conjecture and Downton Abbey

Fair warning, I’m about to talk gibberish about Downton Abbey, Season Six, episode two and a little bit of episode teacupsone.  If you haven’t seen them, and/or don’t wish to hear about them, look away from this blog immediately. But other wise, come along with me . . . for a recap. And lots of wild conjecture and wishing. Perhaps a cup of tea would go good right now? And oh yes, le MUSICA. I could play the Downton theme but you JUST heard it last night, so I’ll look for something a little bit different but still in England.

Downton from my TV

I just love how Downton starts, love this big yellow lab. He sets a perfect tone of realness and family and gives us the first glimpse of heaven so we can go ahead withFalling in loveSo! Have you been loving it?  Me too! It’s practically the only thing I do outside of book writing these days. I was SO happy to learn that Anna and Bates are not murderers after all, phew! There will be no Downton Abbey hangings! Hooray, we don’t have to think about that anymore!

IMG_4789Maybe these two can start smiling again, or, er, maybe not. Because there is always something. Out of the murdering frying pan into the baby-wanting fire. Misery knows no end. I’ve come to realize that it’s always bad news when these two go to the Boot Room which is where they spent much of the last show.Susan Branch pink-daisy-borderIMG_4771But the girlfriend relationship between Mary and Anna gets better all the time. Now Mary wants to help Anna with her pregnancy problems. Of course Anna thinks Mary shouldn’t put herself out, but Mary said, “I owe you for so much, for keeping my secrets and for hiding that fearful Dutch thingamajig.” (Those Dutch!) So off we go to the special Doctor that helped Mary to have her baby.IMG_4799“. . .  just a little stitch, very fixable,” said the doctor, and voila, we’ll get you a Bates Baby. ‘Course we can’t tell Bates, that would ruin the telling of Bates for later, when we will all burst into tears from happiness when we find out they are having twins. (Not a spoiler, just making things up, I have NO idea!!! But why not Julian? Give them a good head start on that houseful of children they want.)clap your handsIMG_4827But already, look at Anna at the Pig show. She looks ten years younger just knowing there is hope. Mary is so good, she’s solving everyone’s problems.IMG_4545Oh yes, Mary. (She can’t help it, forgive her, oldest child syndrome, don’tcha know.) Besides whisking Anna off to the Doctor, Mary runs Downton, talks like a grown-up to the pig man, and self-appoints as the Carson-Hughes wedding planner. But she still doesn’t know that Edith is Marigold’s actual mother.

That will be a fun hunt on downtonShe is also done with riding side saddle. And if she falls into a ditch, no big deal, she brushes herself off, gets back on and starts all over again, mud in hair and all. A regular Scarlet O’Hara. As an added bonus, she has a lovely tendency to believe in more equality for everyone, i.e. not wanting her darling Carson to marry in the Servant’s Hall, perish the thought. Which tells me she could very likely MARRY an Irish ex-chauffeur!! Why not? Look at the way he looks at her! Cute, cute cute!downtonOh yeah! As you know, I’ve been hoping for Tom to be the one for Mary for a long time. They need some fresh blood in this new generation. I would love to see a total surprise romance between them ~ with their two darling children who happen to be cousins, they could run Downton together (because they both have common sense, plus Mary has the heir) until someday, years from now, when they give the whole place to the National Trust. He respects her mind, and she will never have to play solitaire again.Downton Abbey Mary Crawley Tom BransonWhat a darling couple. They will look back at this photo and say to themselves, remember when we were young? They will tell their children, “This was taken before Daddy and Mummy even knew they loved each other.” They will say, “Too bad we didn’t read Susan’s blog, then we would have known sooner and quit wasting so much time on fast car drivers, stuck up do-nothings, rude and smug Miss Buntings, trips abroad, and fearful Dutch thingamajigs.”1925 phoneMary solves nothing for Edith ever. Edith might gain some respect from Mary who would maybe stop calling her a Ninny sensible womanif she would a.) fire that misogynist editor who supposedly works for HER, b.)take over the magazine and run it herself, c.) move herself and Marigold into that fabulous London apartment belonging to Marigold’s father who we think is dead in Germany but no one knows for sure. And d.)Start going to all the most fabulous parties and meeting the whole Bloomsbury intelligentsia and having dinners down in Charleston.Then start British Vogue Magazine. And be done with it. Lady EdithShe could use gold dresses like this one for her photo shoots. Which reminds me, aren’t the clothes fabulous this season? I think they changed them for every scene last night. We were always in some room or another being dressed by a ladies maid.Lady Mary and her blue robeHow about this robe in the first episode? I’m surprised the blackmailer didn’t throw toast at senselady mary's underwearI noticed last night that Mary got new underwear, did you see? This was her old stuff . . .Lady Maryand now this . . . so very 1925.

IMG_9769And I miss Rose. She was always such a smart dresser, and golly, so much fun.Lady RoseShe’s now married and living in New York and I miss her. Mary got a letter, she thinks Rose might be pregnant, but Edith thinks it’s all balderdash, but what I hope is that Rose makes it home for Christmas.And then there’s darling Mrs. Patmore who handled the whole dilemma for Mrs. Hughes with such total adorable English charm, first, and quite rightly, slamming back a shot of sherry, and then suggesting to Mrs. Hughes, “Maybe you should just leave the lights off.” I loved the moment when the light of understanding first comes into Mr. Carson’s eyes, and she says, “Oh yes, I think we’re there.” I would give her a Golden Globe for that performance.

Yes, they’re there. It looks like they are going to figure it all out just fine. Oh, Elsie, Oh, Charles.💞 Two hearts that beat as one.

Mrs. Hughes has changed too, with her new smoother hairdo and much stronger attitude, putting her foot down, that she would rather be married in the schoolhouse than in the butterflies in loveGrand Hall at Downton. What do you think? Which would you want? I go back and forth, because although Downton is gorgeous, it just might be too much and I bet the school house is very cute. Although in that country, pick a meadow with a river and voila, get married there. Now there’s a tug of war between Mrs. Hughes and Mary, with Carson in the middle. (I think Joe and I will dress as this couple at our next costume opportunity. We already look like them!) 

And then this . . .

IMG_4831Oh My God, (Ignore my gorgeous hat) Where is Marigold? She was right here a minute ago!  Marigold! Marigold! Where for art thou Marigold?

People mill about in a frenzy, and then . . .


…the rescue.


The heartbreak.


And now, the poor Drewes have to go, get out of dodge, not welcome anymore. Well, let’s face it they had to anyway. Otherwise what would we do with Daisy’s father-in-law, Mr Mason, who is being kicked off his farm by the neighbors who are going out of the Lordship business forever?



We needed an empty farm to fill, and the poor Drewes family had no clout. And we just love Daisy. Who just happens to know all the right people even if she is anti-establishment. So the balance is there, between happiness and heartbreak.


Life is not fair.

wild turkeys

Just ask our local wild turkeys who are trying to drink from the birdbath in our yard.

Yes, and what else?


Well, first we had a drenching rain,


And then we had lovely snow …


So while I drew and painted, Joe made us a fire


And took down the Christmas tree . . .


And we both kept one eye on the birds .  . .


They were hard not to notice . . . they are so thrilled with the snow, it’s so quiet now, the Island is settling in for a long winter’s nap.


The Cardinals came in droves!


And I’m just here wearing out pencils, one after another . . . It’s going so good Girlfriends, and I get closer and Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreamsthis book gets more romantic every day, I could have called it A Fine Romance too, if I hadn’t already used that one!. Right now I just took my first train ride, in pictures, quotes, and watercolors. It’s so exciting to think that in a few months I’ll have my new book in hand, and then so will you, and then Joe and I will be off across America in our Fine Romance van. We’ve gotten quite a few book events scheduled: Look HERE ~ you’ll see that so far we’ve reserved bookstores across the USA from MA to California. We’ve had paintinggreat luck everywhere until we got to the Northwest . . . where we were unable to nail down dates that would work for everyone. We tried our best, we were even taking the train up from California, but time is getting short (bookstores get booked for signings far in advance), and we’ve had to move on. I’m so sorry to miss you there ~ but maybe we’ll have better luck at a future date. And we have WONDERFUL things planned at the bookstores so far. Talks and a tea, regular signings and library fundraisers Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreamstoo. We are still working our way down to Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara and Vroman’s in Pasadena, then across to Book People in Austin, Texas and so on, stopping at lots of Independent Bookstores, as we head back home in June. So there are lots more dates coming . . . keep checking back because I’d love to see you somewhere along the line! And don’t worry, if you have preordered Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, the last book of this trilogy, your books will go out before any go to the stores. You will be the first, and they will all have signed bookplates in them, and I think that will be in April. Can. Not. Wait. Ding Ding!

bellhollyHad to show you two stocking stuffers I got from Joe. He comes into my studio all the time, almost sneaks in, is quiet as a MOUSE ~ and I am SO lost in thought, SO buried in the moment, I don’t hear him, and he scares me to death and I wish to kill him every time for almost 30 years. I beg him to warn me, but he forgets. So now, my new gift: when he goes through the living room on the way to my studio, he slaps this bell to warn me, and I immediately burst into laughter. It’s so perfect! It works!



The second is this, which Joe is going to hook to my art table so if I want him, all I have to do is squeeze this shrieking cat-scaring horn and he, supposedly, will come.  I have yet to try this out. Right now it’s on the back of the sofa, so when he leaves my studio he squeezes it, and I burst into laughter.

Two very practical gifts. ♥

me, just before going into Beatrix Potter's house

Now this ~ remember this? I’m just coming out of Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Cottage for the very first time, and that is JOY you are seeing on my face. Well, this year Beatrix Potter Beatrix Potterwould be 150 years old and there are all kinds of celebrations planned, both here and in England, and if you’re a part of the Beatrix Potter Society (like I am), you can find out all about them. I’m taking part in her Birthday Party here on Cape Cod, where I will read and talk about my first visit to the English Lake District and to Hill Top (click here~scroll down to July 28th). And my friend Betsy Bray, who is very active in the Beatrix Potter Society is planning to take a Castle Cottagegroup on a ten-day tour in June 2017 up to Beatrix Potter Country in England and YOU can go! First come, first serve that is. Here’s all the information. It’s a perfect opportunity Beatrixfor likeminded people, who don’t want to travel alone to get the best of the best by someone who really knows ~  Betsy gives talks about Beatrix Beatrix and WilliePotter all the time. So she’s read all the books, has been to all the places and knows all the secrets and will even be taking the group to Castle Cottage, which I never got to see (that’s it in the photo above), where Beatrix lived for 30 years with her husband, William Heelis, right across Post Office Meadow (you see there with the lambs) from Hill Top. And so much more. You can get an idea of what you’re in for HERE. I just wanted you to know first, I know it’s a long time until June 2017, but it will get here Beatrix Potter roomsoon enough and there is nothing like planning ahead! Of course, for all you arm chair travelers, you have me, and our upcoming trip to England and Scotland, later this year, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. So, lots of lovely English countryside for us for the next couple of years. ♥

blessings Hope you are all well and fine. For any of you who gets confused about who’s who in the zoo on Downton, this should help. Bye for now Girlfriends, I have to grab my paintbrush now, I have a train to catch! Love you! XOXO

Cast of Downton Abbey

Downstairs characters





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