Downton and the Full Moon

The Full Moon and Downton Abbey go so well together!  MUSICA

Violet's House

Did we love it?  Oh yes!  There are many wonderful houses on Downton Abbey; I just love going inside those gorgeous rooms, with the beautiful dishes, fireplaces, paintings, wallpaper, furniture, rugs and cut glass pitchercut glass, etched glass, sparkling glass ~ it’s the reason I watch,  besides the clothes, the jewelry, the views of England, the history, and the witty repartee ~ but this brick house is my favorite ~ Violet’s (the Dowager Countess’s) is the one I would take if they offered me my choice.  Yes, much more than Downton Abbey itself.  That’s just too much house for me.  Home darling.  Let’s go home.  Pull in, get the suitcases . . . Jeeves dear!  Bring the tea!


By the way Violet’s wonderful house is called Byfleet Manor in real life; you can go there, have tea, and even stay there!  It’s in Surrey!

One of my other main reasons for loving this show is these two:

The girls

That’s how they talk to each other.  They don’t even have to talk, they manage to say everything that needs saying just with their facial expressions.  Their tongue-in-cheek comments require that I see each episode three times in order to catch everything. Not to mention their clothes.  Look at Isobel’s jacket, the buttons! The gloves!  Their acting is wonderful but you have to give credit to the storytellers, Julian Fellowes and his team . . . something so cute last night (in the first episode of the 5th season) was the detail that the grandchildren are calling Robert (the Earl of Grantham) “Donk” (Donk, referring to Pin the Tail on the Donkey). It just has to be something they came up with from real life!  No one could make that up!

Downton Abbey Who's Who

These are the upstairs characters (missing is Lord Gillingham, Mary’s current boyfriend and childhood friend, and others I’m sure) ~

Downstairs charactersHere are the downstairs characters . . . Alfred has gone off to cooking school, Ivy’s gone and Edna is evil and gone too, but now we have Phyllis Baxter, who is Cora’s lady’s maid and just gave away the secret that Barrow was holding over her head.

I know not all of you are watching, so I won’t stay on this subject further, suffice it to say (about last night):  I LOVED sweet Mr. Molesley’s personal make-over to attract Baxter’s interest, despite Robert’s question about him being “Latin.”  And doesn’t Thomas Barrow make your skin crawl? I kind of think that if he got together with Miss Bunting (the schoolteacher rabble-rouser) they could join forces and terrorize the neighborhood.  I’d be scared, that’s for sure!  And I can’t wait to go on the scandalous vacation with Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham, maybe next week? ~ I hope they go somewhere in a darling car, with darling luggage,

darling car!

and lovely traveling clothes to a Country House Estate with massive gardens in the beautiful English Countryside . . .  if you didn’t catch it, they are going to “audition” each other for possible marriage; trying out s-e-x because they are in l-o-v-e, but afraid.  It’s 1924.  OMG.  Oh yes, and Edith.  Poor Edith. There’s always something.  But last night she made me laugh out loud when she disdainfully said to her sister Mary, “I thought only imbeciles were happy all the time” in her precise English accent which turns the word “imbecile” into a kind of sausage stuffed with cheese.

happy! I know those of you who saw it will have your favorite parts and it’s fun to hash them over ~ (I’m probably wrong about Miss Bunting; but right now I’m old enough to be firmly against change :-) despite how good it might be, plus she was really rude to darling Robert), but, get ready for a rapid change of subject, the real reason I’m writing is this, below . . . Because I don’t want another full moon to get by without you having your New Year’s present!


Full Moons 2015

I don’t want us to miss a single one! (Especially those school children who are waiting for their bookmarks!)

4 am

Outside in the summer, inside in the winter, from the beach, from the car, from the woods, in your own front yard, you get to make wishes on them all!

up close, the moon

A pure sky miracle!

The pink moon

How can that be possible?

Susan Branch Moon Bookmark 2015

So click HERE and you can print it out . . .

And now, it’s back to work for me


I’m working on this little painting


Kind of easy to see who we’re talking about here 


Jack likes it . . . he modeled for me . . .


That white spot is my favorite green plaid shawl over the back of my chair . . . and that’s what I’m about to do right now; finish painting it! Then, after Comcast comes and updates our service, we’re going for our walk; 40 degrees and clear today, turkeys pecking around in the yard as we speak.  Then I take in my new computer because the Google bar has disappeared!  Try living without that for a few days!  Those Downton Abbey people were lucky ~ their problems didn’t include lack of Google!

Have a wonderful day girlfriends! Wob you! XOXO 

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , | 598 Comments

BEGIN AGAIN ~ Happy New Year!

MUSICA Hello Darlings!  Happy New Year!  


Another year gone by . . . but before we say goodbye, I thought I’d reinforce the old memory bank with a look back at a very good year.

susan branch starry light border



susan branch starry light border

Birds in the snow

January 2014 was a snowy one here on Martha’s Vineyard . . . we had a fire in the fireplace almost every day . . . it was very cozy to paint and work on my new book with the crackling of the fire . . .

Martha's Vineyard winter 2014

Watching out the windows to see the wild turkeys visiting our feeders . . . adding to the magic.

Gladys Taber


We burrowed in for a long winter’s nap . . . it’s never quite long enough for me.  I don’t ever get tired of this sight.

He throws snow at me!

Or this one.  My sweetheart doing the aphrodisiac thing . . . I look out the window, there he is, he sees me, he throws a shovelful of snow at the window, and I count my blessings.

sticky snow

I love it when the snow comes in sideways and sticks to the windows.

Jack loves the fire

Jack does too, he’s the kind of kitty that likes to loll in front of the fire.

pristine walk in the woods

Almost every day, Joe and I walk in the woods, we bundle up, and out we go . . . unless there’s ice, or it’s 20 degrees, we always try to go.

icy day on the pond

That’s ice at the water’s edge.  But this is the view, one of them, and being out here is the best part of our day no matter what the season is.

blue with cold

The sky and colors change constantly.  I take a big breath of this cold freshest-of-the-fresh air, and let it circulate through my blood stream and whatever else I do that day is enriched by it.


But all good things must come to an end. So the other good things can begin.  


Snowdrops . . . our first flower of the season.  I lay on the cold ground, getting up close and personal with them. And the dirt smells good.



Then I bring nature inside to be with us.


And bake a lamb cake to celebrate SPRING!

spring bunny


And while I do, outside our kitchen windows, others are celebrating too.

busy bee

The birds and the bees are as happy as we are . . . the earth blooms for us, a surprise every year even though we’re pretty sure it’s coming.




Still all grey and brown, and yet . . . hope springs eternal.

weeping cherry trees

And then things get even more serious and we all come down with . . .

spring fever

And it becomes physically painful to stay indoors . . .

magnolia tree

This gorgeous Magnolia tree bloomed for us for many years, but then one day, it died. It was a huge loss, she had come with the house and we lost her on my watch. I have mourned her ever since.

planting a new Magnolia tree

I know we can never replace her, but this year, we tried.  A new girl was planted.  Now we have something special to look forward to in 2015, will she bloom?

To plant a seed

We hope so.

ahh spring on Martha's Vineyard

Spring was becoming lusher and lusher as it moved toward summer.  The roses began to bloom.  June is a perfect month on this island.


I could roll in these.

the garden


our walk

And the long dirt road through the woods to the water, birds singing, squirrels chasing each other up the trees and across the branches, and the smell of the green things growing ~ it’s all very good fordreams


Jack runs from window to window in the spring . . . watching the world go by, keeping his eye on all the critters in the neighborhood and on his sister, hiding just below the window . . .

Girl Kitty

We let her out because she never goes further than two feet from the foundation of the house.

  And then it was time to clean the house because my high school girlfriends came to visit!  I drove them all over the island, we ate everywhere!  Here we are at Nancy Luce’s grave.  We had a wonderful time!

Reseda High School Girlfriends


me at Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow

And then it was time for me to realize a huge dream and go visit the home of an author I love named Gladys Taber ~ her very old house is called Stillmeadow, and there I am, verklempt. Tears. It was everything I hoped it would be.  I got to go inside this little house in Connecticut that Gladys wrote so much about (I feel like I can call her Gladys because we share the same birthday which makes us almost related.)   It felt like she was nearby, like she’d just run to the market and would be right home.

Stillmeadow, Gladys Taber

Gladys Taber quote

the waterway to Nantucket

Summer progressed, we planted the garden, we ate lobsters and watermelon under the arbor, Joe painted the house, I painted my watercolors and worked on a new book . . . and then it was time to hop a fast ferry to go visit a friend who was spending August on Nantucket, which is about an hour from here, east . . . another little speck of a place, just a little bit out to sea.


And as all of you who virtually traveled along with us know, it is ADORABLE over there.  Cutest little houses in the world.  Pathway made from crushed seashells.

Sconset Cottage, Nantucket

I want to have a little house

sb border

Sconset Cottage, Nantucket

Please.  How can it be this cute! We walked up and down, up and down, all the little lanes to see them

Chanticleer, Nantucket

This is a wonderful restaurant called Chanticleer ~ you can sit outside in the garden, or inside in the garden.

sunset in Sconset



Gorgeous Chanticleer on the inside . . .

Chanticleer Restaurant, Nantucket

Peachy pinky heaven.  Even the salt is pink.happy!

August 2010 005

And home again, to watch the sun set on the beach we walk to everyday.

IMG_6401 Spring Street Publishing Logo 10420153_10152701278086660_1615965967957388925_n

And then we started our own publishing business called Spring Street Publishing, and published our first book . . . AUTUMN from the HEART of the HOME.  We didn’t know how to do this when we started, but after 10,000 mistakes, now we do!  Here’s our first production, just arriving at the Studio in California, greeted by Sheri, Kellee, and Robin.dreamer


And more things bloom in the garden . . . and the bees buzz and the butterflies flit . . . and the clock ticks . . .




And a bunny cools his tummy on the shady lawn on a warm late summer day . . .HeartOfAutumn

And the clock keeps ticking.  We had lots of book signings this fall (I put the pictures HERE under Events) for Autumn and for A Fine Romance . . . which “forced” us out of the house, and we took good advantage of it . . .


Because it’s very beautiful in New England in the Fall . . .

leaf border


We visited old graveyards where we walked and smelled the musty leafy smell, kicked up crunchy leaves and read the years on the headstones.

Wallum Lake

We stopped by this lake because once we saw it we really had no choice.  Did you know that New England is filled with lakes?  It is!  And there are darling little 1940’s cabins on the shores of most of them that are rentable!  Keep that in mind!

leaf border



Elizabeth Howe Salem Memorial

We stopped in Salem to leave flowers on the memorial for my ancestor Elizabeth Howe who was hung because they said she was a witch.  Saddest thing in the world, she was the mother of six, a farmer married to a blind man.

Mayflower Society House

Then we went to Plymouth, where the Mayflower landed in the freezing winter of 1620. If you’d like to read a really great book, read The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.  You’ll love it!  history

19th Century doll

The Mayflower house was filled with wonderful old things.

Old Book at the Mayflower House

Including this beautiful old book ~ read what it says about Foolishness!!!!  Help!  Run Children!!!  Makes me happy I live today.  People calling people witches and the rod of correction would have done me in!

red work

Lovely old embroidery too, redwork.

Ti-corner hat

And an old Tricorne hat ~ you don’t see these everyday!

the walk

Then again, back home, and out on our walk seeing the colors changing, for just a while, because soon, we are off again . . .


On the train ~ here we are in South Station in Boston . . . about to board the Lake Shore Limited for California . . .


It’s a three-day cross-country trip in our room-with-a-view . . .I’ve been taking the train across the country since around 1984 . . . the only way to fly!  Because of the view from our windows . . .


What a gorgeous time of year to travel!


It couldn’t have been prettier.


Sunrises and sunsets right from our bed, rocking along, singing a song, side-by-side.

Twins Paden and Mason

And then we get there, and here are my sister’s twins to meet us . . . that’s Paden on the left (I’m pretty sure) and Mason on the right (I think), or perhaps that’s Mason on the left and Paden on the right!  Oh well, I’m better than I used to be! I’m sure eleven year old boys don’t like to be called “beautiful,” but I can’t help it.  These boys are beautiful.


Sisters . . . This is Shelly and me. She’s the youngest of my eight siblings and I’m the oldest. Gotta show each other our pictures and catch up ~ we sat outside near the sea for lunch as often as humanly possible.  We have always loved to do this.  We are girls who lunch.

Me, Mom and Shell

And we bring our Mom . . . so it’s me, my mom, Pat and then Shelly.


And here we are again, Mom and me, our Uncle Dick and Shell.

family love family

And here we are on Thanksgiving . . . that’s my brother Brad on the far left.  Joe was truly the photographer on this trip!


Seal Beach is where we are . . . and this was where we walked . . .  


It’s fun to watch the surfers.

Baby & Mom shore birds Seal Beach

And the birds ~ we loved these shore birds . . . so photogenic!  The one that’s sort of got his head down is a baby and he wants to be fed!


Just so cute!


And Decorative!

Old photos

There were lots of old family photos on display while we were there ~ there’s my dad’s twin sisters in the middle and on the right . . . that’s how Shelly got her twin boys!

Me with Blog Daddy and Jeanie

And here they are Girlfriends, Blog Daddy and his darling wife, Jeanie. I’m showing off his elfish ears . . . He couldn’t hide his leprechaunism even if he tried.

Jeanie's tea party

Jeanie invited their friends and we had a wonderful tea party.

Jeanie, Dad and Me

We also had Thanksgiving dinner.  

Mom and Grandma's roses

My mom has my Grandma’s rose bush in front of her house . . . we picked these two roses, one from my Grandma’s bush, one from my mom’s, and kept them on the dashboard of the car the whole time we were out there.  They dried like this; we carefully packed them, and now they’re on my kitchen shelf.


driving north on Highway One

Here we are driving north along the Pacific Ocean, almost to Santa Barbara, to my Studio on the Central Coast.  It’s one of my favorite things to see, it smells like Home to me.  Home in California.

California Studio

This is our Studio garden in California . . . things grow really well in this ancient river bed.

Studio garden

Joe and I were feeling very “Vita” when we planted this garden; it was after our first trip through the gardens in England and we were inspired!

The Long Walk

We even planted a “long walk” ~ something all the gardens have over there . . . it was exciting to see how big the hedges have gotten.

Kellee and Sasha

We also have Studio Kitties . . . this is Kellee with fluffy sweet Sasha . . .

Kellee with Sammy

And here she is with Sammy . . . I don’t like to play favorites, I love Sasha but that freckle on Sammy’s face stole my heart. I wob him.

Sheri with Sammy

They dressed them up for Christmas and they LOVED it . . . this is Sheri trying not to be cut to ribbons by Sammy’s claws. His ears look like horns, but trust me, this is a HEAVEN kitty.  Perfect nap material. Just don’t make him wear a hat and beard!

heading home

And then, the clock ticks forward and off we go again, homeward bound . . .

susan branch starry light border


And a deep breath, across country with Christmas lights beginning to show in the dark, we made it!

GirlAnd I couldn’t wrestle a camera and do hugging and kissing at the same time, but they were so happy to see us, and vice versa!!! 

Decorating the top of the stove

We sprang into decorating mode, it was almost Christmas!

Jack helps

Jackie helped out with every bit of it!

susan branch starry light border

Cookie gifts

He especially helped by sleeping through it while I made the cookies, my Coconut Macaroons and my grandmother’s Frosted Molasses Cookies!

Christmas Eve at Lowely's

MUSICA  On Christmas Eve we went to Lowely and John’s, our best friends just two doors over . . . she is into magic also!  And the best cook in the world!

susan branch starry light border

New Year's Eve in front of the fire

And then it was my turn for New Year’s Eve in front of the fire . . .

Delicious dinner

We made a delicious dinner; everyone brought something . . . that’s Lowely in the sparkly sweater . . .


We just wanted a cozy evening so we could eat, drink (Joe made delicious Brandy Alexander’s!) and talk about our dreams for 2015. And then suddenly, it was here . . .

watercolor flowers

Neglect not the gift that is in thee

We were there!  And began right away, taking my own advice trying not to neglect the gift . . .

painting away

I started painting for next year’s calendar.  (That would be 2016!)  

Best wishes

And I was inspired by the time of year . . . and sending best wishes to you and yours.

Jack in my arms

Jack allows only so much of me not paying attention to him, then he gets tired of it and starts trying to knock over my paint water or something until I stop and gather him up — this is me trying to take a photo of him in my arms, and this is the best I could do without waking Joe up to do it for me!

Merry In The Winter

Full Circle

And now, we are full circle, it’s winter . . . no snow here yet but VERY cold out on our walk . . . this is yesterday and it was 30 degrees; this is the “bundled-up” look.

the all-cookie diet

Under these clothes I look like this. Two Thanksgiving dinners didn’t help, but there’s much more blame to go around . . . we’ll talk about that later . . . :-) OR, let’s not and say we did.

Kay & Cheryl at Highclere

I still get wonderful photos from our Girlfriends who take A FINE ROMANCE with them to the MOST interesting places, then they take pictures and send them to me.  This is Kay Bennett and her daughter Cheryl at Highclere Castle in England!  Lucky lucky them! What a wonderful memory for the two of them. And I love our book being there . . . right there on the lawn of Highclere!  

Downton Abbey Highclere Castle Series

Which reminds me to remind you . . . Downton Abbey starts January 4th!  Oh goodie!  It’s going to be exciting. I can hardly think of a better thing to do in January!  Our girl Maggie Smith, just turned 80 this week, hooray!  See, you’re never too young or too old to dream a new dream, there is so MUCH to look forward to!  Just


Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 377 Comments