Such a Day!

Such a day! MUSICA


Music’s playing, Vanna’s ready, (corduroy turquoise skinny pants, yellow gauze top, silver sandals, orange toenails ~ she must be freezing) ~ I’m ready too, are you?

You’ve been very patient, but now’s the time . . . Our little tea/winter/romance kit is going to one of you soon! “Silver Fish” (aka Vanna), has jumped into the vat of almost 5000 names (including girlfriendsall your wonderful comments from the Address Book Giveaway, really Girls, you are too  much).  She is scissor-kicking to the bottom, the names are whirling and sloshing around like the inside of a laundromat washing machine. I think she’s chosen the name because she’s breast-stroking her way straight to the top now ~ out popped her delicate little pink hand, gold charm bracelet tinkling like bells, her blue eyes looking over the top of her yellow sunglasses as she hands it over.  I’ve got it!  My heart is racing.

a fine romance

And the winner for our special Valentine’s Day Prize Package is!!!!!!  . . . . . deep breath.  Are you ready?  I really hope it’s you, I SO hope it’s you.  But be forewarned, there are other gifts coming sooner than you think, so steel yourself in case isn’t you.  Ready?  (I really don’t like this part, in case you can’t tell)  One person happy, vs ALL PEOPLE HAPPY?  (Ohhhh, to be Oprah.)  But here we go . . .

Oh! (reading)  This is nice!  It’s a mother-daughter team,  our winner is the very L U C K Y Linda Wiernusz and her 13-year-old Emma heart breakfast cupdaughter Sophia!  I sure hope that’s YOU!  Please look for my email in your box, Linda, write me back and let me know where to send your goodies.  Congratulations! I know I speak for all of us when I say we hope you and Sophia have a wonderful tea party!  Everyone is happy for you . . .

He Loves Us

See what I mean? Paul too . . . He’s thrilled for you!

And now, for everyone else, perhaps, at this point, you are thinking . . .

new bookmark

Because I understand, and you know I’m right with you,


 . . . so, here’s some magic for you (don’t run away, because there’s more), ease the pain dearest ones by clicking HERE, from me to you with loveand print out a brand new bookmark (use card stock if you can) with those “magic” words on it (you’ll remember the sentiment from your new calendar) . . . just for you ~ something to give away to the Valentine’s in your life. Everyone’s a winner in Smallville.

 More cheering-up necessary?  No problem, I’ve been waiting for this all week . . . Let’s take our mind off our no-teapot sorrows and go look at wildflowers in England!  Forget real life, snow and traffic, let’s look at fields of blooming color . . . with nature’s MUSICA . . .


Bluebells Stourhead

bee I know this does not look real, but magic never does, that’s how you know it’s magic.  These are bluebells, they come to England angelartevery spring, see the little meandering path that goes through them? We are there, walking along and smelling the flowers.  Rachel wrote and told me the bluebells are coming up now!  They run rampant, I mean rampant, all over the English Countryside.  This really exists, not just in this one place, but everywhere.  Isn’t that shocking?  I thought so too.


 There is no fresher air than being in the deep woods with a mile of bluebells around you and birds going wild all around you.


at Diana and Clives

These are the bluebells at Rachel’s mum’s house, grab a handful for your kitchen counter.

painting bluebells

I had to paint one ~ I did this when we were in England on a page of one of my old English garden books, now stuck in my diary. I love that this writer calls bluebells “clever” for learning how to grow in deep shade where other flowers fail . . . thereby owning the woodlands themselves. “A carpet as blue as the sky!”

Green things Growing


blowing in the wind

Here are some of the “thousands” of green things vying for the sunshine.  People here are so lucky , they run outside and bring in the MOST amazing vases of flowers. Free, God’s gift.


In the Yorkshire Dales

Here we are driving through the Yorkshire Dales.  Even now, alone in my studio, when I look at this, little screams emit (not from remembrance of Joe’s driving, but from how much I adored the Yorkshire Dales).

road lined in cow parsley

It wasn’t really Joe, it was road width and curvature. But look at the countryside!  Rock walls, hedges, wild flowers and stone cottages . . . this is the Lake District, the place that so inspired Beatrix Potter.  Gee, I wonder why.  Deep breath, Ommmmmm.






cow parsley

Here we are, up close with the cow parsley that lines all the country roads with frothy white flowers in May . . . it’s also called wild chervil and wild carrot, we call it Queen Anne’s lace. Of course, being magical, the story of cow parsley is filled with lore, including superstitions about the safety of your relatives if you bring it into the house.  Children made whistles and pea shooters from the hollow stems; whole weddings have been concocted from it.


“Of what are you afraid, my child?” inquired the kindly teacher.  “Oh sir! The flowers, they are wild, replied the timid creature.”  Peter Newell

fairy foxgloves

This wildflower has the best name, it’s called a fairy foxglove ~ we saw it at the ruins of King Richard III’s castle in Middleham, which was begun in 1190 (still there, filled with the story of time, and waiting for YOU), a massive very impressive ruin with no roof, but with most walls and stone stairways intact  (it’s in the middle of the Dales, a wonderful place to poke around ~ look at the picture on the cover of A FINE ROMANCE ~ We had just taken the right turn to get to Middleham).

the road to Middleham

Here’s the very next photo I took after the one I used for the book.  It shows why the roads are so narrow: they were made for horses!  Rock walls, stone houses, and deep hedgerows come right to the edge.  You’d have to dismantle the entire country to widen them. “Slow” is right; this is a two-way street, and our side is the left side.  Me?  I’m really close to those walls, could reach out the window and touch them.  My squeeking mantra to Joe on that trip (who was incongruously sitting behind the steering wheel on my right side) was “eeep, get over.”

fairy foxgloves

I digress, back to wildflower magic . . . in this photo I’ve climbed to the top of the castle, the fairy foxgloves grow all over it, right out of the stone walls!

Middleham Castle

Proof positive, the impossible happens all the time!



From Middleham Castle

This isn’t a field of wildflowers, but I had to show you the view of the countryside from the top of the castle.  How is this for “real?”  Works for me!



This too, this field of buttercups is at Rachel’s parents house.

Will and me and happiest dog in world

That’s me, with Rachel’s nephew Will, laughing ourselves silly, enjoying the face and gleeful road-runner qualities of the happiest dog in world.

brought them home

Had to bring them home some of Rachel’s Buttercups to dry them for “our book.”



This goes on and on . . . I’m not sure what town we’re in here . . 

the world is a garden

The Peak District

but this is the Peak District, the view from the porch of the cottage we rented in Wirksworth.



Grass bridge at Stourhead

And this is the most magical of them all.  OK, that’s probably wrong.  Because how do you choose just one.  But this is Stourhead, 2,650 acres of stunning everything, long walks in beautiful woodlands (covered in bluebells in the spring), lakes, ponds, lambs, bridges, follies, a twelfth century church, a pub, a castle . . . and this is the grass bridge.  We stayed in a stone house on the grounds, walked miles every day, fell in love with it, and had a wonderful picnic here on the lawn on the left.


my diary

This is my diary from the day of the picnic in 2004, that’s Rachel and me in a photo Joe took . . . this is the diary I kept on our first visit that inspired A FINE ROMANCE ~ so I will never forget that in short there’s simply not, a more congenial spot, for happily-ever-aftering, than here in Camelot.



wild orchids

These are wild orchids. Wild. Orchids.  And waaaaay over there, peeking around the tree, is one of the many magical “follies” at Stourhead called the Temple of Apollo.

wild orchids

You can see it a little better in this photo . . .

Temple of Apollo and even better here . . . you can walk up to it and sit on the porch and look at the view if you like ~ if you’re lucky it will be pouring rain . . .



just like it was in my favorite scene in my favorite production of Pride and Prejudice.  Which I just watched the other day, here in Smallville, with my nap blanket. Which anyone can do.Aren’t the actors wonderful?  Heart palpations galore.


And that’s all for today, Girlfriends.  Hope you enjoyed our little  “mini break” and feel refreshed for all that will go on in your own little Smallville today.  You can tell I’m in a good ferrymood!  Those flowers cheered me right up! Off to paint more for our next year’s calendar (btw, some are asking, I believe there are a few wall-calendars left at Amazon!)  Next time, maybe we’ll take a stroll into my small town so you can see the winter streets of the Haven. Would you like that? Plus, Downton, we have so much to talk about! Don’t forget to go back and get your bookmark! The days are longer now, have you noticed?  XOXO Have a wonderful day!

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HAPPY SUNDAY EVERYONE! MUSICA first (we have our priorities) ~ I was going to announce the winner of our teapot now, the tea tin teapotand Fine Romance book ~ and then I thought, “it’s the weekend, let’s make sure everyone had a chance to sign up.”  Right?  SO, if you haven’t yet, this is your chance!  Scroll down to the next post to read all about our Giveaway, leave me a comment, and Good Luck! And P.S., Yes, more Swedish Hearts are on their way to our web store!

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Ray's terrier collection

But while I’m here, I think we should get a little fun out of life! One of our Girlfriends asked to see a close-up of Ray and Paul’s Terrier collection that was glimpsed in one of the photos in the post below . . . so here they are!  On a shelf in her kitchen. (Ray’s version of Beatrix Potter figurines!)  When we went to visit Ray and Paul in England, Joe and I brought the little dog on the far left.  He’s made of iron and very heavy for his size. Aren’t little collections like this wonderful?  No two alike!

It’s not in my DNA to do such a short post, I’ll be back soon, but here’s a little food for thought for your Sunday . . .

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King of Intimate delights

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Weather-wise we’ve had it all this winter on Martha’s Vineyard ~ sheets of ice on the kitchen porch, sleet and snow that “chill and bite,” wild winds beating at the windows ~ the temperature fluctuates wildly: my first house in the snowyesterday it was 20° with a misty ice-fog in the air, the foghorn blew all day; this morning it’s 40°, grey and raining.  Cars drive by, I hear their tires slapping the road. Joe made us a fire; he’s reading the paper in front of it with crackle and pop and ashes falling, tick of wind-up clock, rustle of pages turning; Foreign Correspondent with Joel McCrea is on the TV in my studio; Jack is giving himself a bath on my art table, Girl is curled on the back of Joe’s couch, and I’m saying hello to you and getting ready to spend the day painting; wending our way through life ~  “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world” here in Smallville.

 O’ Winter, King of the MOST Intimate of Delights . . .

And tonight, Girlfriends?  For frosting on the cake and “continuous small pleasures?” Downton Abbey!  Be there or be square! Wob you, Me.

Lucky us


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