Singing at the Top of your Lungs

‘Morning Girls, here’s your MUSICA for today. ♥  This is a very good song for memorizing ~ it’s delightful for singing at the top of your lungs in a Smallville shower, nice while cleaning out cupboards, fun while driving in the car, even good if you have to be in bed to wait for your new knee to heal (or something like that).Sing it into the ear of a child, or your better half, and life gets really good.
winter on Martha's Vineyard
Speaking of Smallville; here is a little thing that will make your frozen mornings snow treea little less so. I have two pairs of these darling sexy shoes you see above,the most comfortable shoes in the world . . . this pair is in the kitchen in front of the heat vent getting warm, while the other is on my feet, slowly (but surely) chilling up. Soon I will exchange places with them and my cold feet, as they slip into the deep warmth of freshly heated shoes, will purr the immortal words: Ooo La Wee.
little things
winter dressing for new england
hearts and flowers
Some variation of these two old cashmere sweaters and that brown shawl are my daily outfit for working at my art table. Not pretty, but cozy ~ works perfectly in Smallville. I took the picture pointed at my lap (sucking in my tummy to protect the innocent).
small treats
watercolors
As you know, I’ve been doing lots of painting for my 2016 calendars, but I took a little time out and did something just for fun I thought you might like to see.
Dapper Paul Lucas
This is Paul Lucas, he is the darling husband of my good friend Rachel. It’s his birthday at the end of the month. And it’s a big one.
Paul, Rachel and Joe
That’s Paul on the left, Ray in the middle,(we’re in Maine) and who’s that other guy in the picture with the beret? Oh, yeah, that’s Joe!
Some of you know Ray from Twitter, some know her from Sugar Moon Brownies, and others from her own Blog (she’s more famous every day, another hardworking girl in Smallville) . . . and,
Ray and Pauls
Here’s where they live. You might recognize it because I wrote about Ray and Paul in A FINE ROMANCE; they are English and live in England and part of the reason we went over was to see them. You might remember that wonderful recipe for Ray’s amazing Lemon Butter Cookies on P. 139 of A FINE ROMANCE? (One of our Girlfriends made the cookie HERE in her Blog, in case you don’t have the book but need the recipe!)
hearts and flowers
Paul and Will
This is Paul with Ray’s darling nephew Will. Paul is doing a one-of-a-kind birthday cello recital for Ray’s mum on her sun porch. See? he’s wonderful.
Alice
Just ask the love of their lives . . . this is Ray’s and Paul’s “dog” Alice. I use the word “dog” only because I know Alice doesn’t look at blogs.
Alice's collar
Her collar says it all.
tiny-oranage--heart
dapper paul with mustache
You may have noticed that Paul is the picture of sartorial splendor, he always looks darling. As you know if you read A Fine Romance, he sometimes wears an ascot. He’s one of a kind. I love his new beard and mustache.
Paul
It’s men like this that give me hope for the world. (He’s in my pantry ironing his pants a couple of Christmases ago.) So I decided I wanted, even though I’m much too far away to do him total birthday justice, to help him and Rachel
celebrate
Paul
So I decided to paint him in all his dapper charmingness, or at least as much as I could muster onto a flat piece of paper. Including the dog pin on his lapel and the brilliant scarlet handkerchief in his pocket.
painting
painting paul
The colors in that photo of him made it easy to make the decision ~ I had fun painting every single stripe, plaid and eye sparkle.
If you do it with heart
paint water
I’m almost done!
signing my art
I added a few descriptive words, put on a little border, watercolored his name and then signed it. Paul is funny with words: instead of Vineyard Haven, he calls where we live “the Haven” (no one calls it that); and instead of Martha’s Vineyard which many people shorten to “The Vineyard,” not Paul, he calls it “Martha’s.” He calls Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, “Kimmie.” And now, so do we and all our friends do too. It’s catching . . . if you like Kimmie, you’ll probably call it that from now on too. It will go viral!
birthday
Witty, Talented and Cute. Oh yes, and he raises bees in their garden.
for Paul
paintbrush
So, while Joe reglued an old frame we had lying around Smallville, taking out all the teeny nails and framing it for me . . . I wrote a card, and went looking through my sticker collection for something Birthday-like to put on the cupcakeenvelope. My eye landed on a three-dimensional pink polka-dot birthday hat, with a real, red-yarn pompom on top (no longer being made if you can imagine that sad state of affairs) I tried it on Paul. It fit perfectly. So him.
Paul's Birthday
So I left it there, stuck to the outside of the glass, thinking it was kind of the cat’s meow. Joe wrapped it up in 3 lbs of bubble wrap and it’s on the way to England even as we speak.
birthday party
So that’s what makes Smallville special, we’re in charge around here. We make our own fun.
fun is good
susan branch address books
And speaking of fun . . . it’s your turn! You know I can never just come out and announce the winner of a Giveaway. Oh no, must drag out the suspense like my dad used to do at Christmas, thereby almost doing his children in with the hysteria of the thought of what Santa might bring them!!! Unbearable! Hope I can do the same for you. (No, I know ~ it’s not quite the same thing!)
tiny-heart-pink
Kate HudsonOK, anyway, Vanna, unlike her usual self (usually she sleeps in late, resting up because of the many Euro Trash parties she loves to attend), is actually already UP, and dressed and ready for her big moment. She wafts by me in the palest whisp of Chanel #5, wearing a gown that looks suspiciously JUST LIKE the one that Kate Hudson wore at the Golden Globes, (Vanna has no idea how she freaks out the people who live in Smallville. But her joie de vivre is so compelling I can’t bring myself to put a damper on her. I just let her do what she needs to do and get her out of here before Joe gets up!)
heart2
Our Vanna is named for Vanna White, the most well-known Game Girl of our times. Our virtual Vanna is a professional when it comes to pink shoedrawing the winning name from a huge vat of names. Nobody does it better. She’s the double-oh-seven of the Game Girl world and we are proud to call her our own. This is one of her bedroom slippers.
tiny-yellow-heart
And so. While I was writing about her, she was busy digging deep into the well with all your names ~ she actually dives in, a graceful high dive (especially in that dress), and swims through them to mix them up, she’s like the Little Mermaid that way, a little silver fish. And she just popped up with teeny piece of paper. Let me get my glasses . . .
Ohhhh, how wonderful! Here goes: The winner is . . . drum roll please . . .
J A N    H A M M O N D !!!
Congratulations Jan!
happiness
You are our LUCKY Winner! Please look for an email in your box, write me back and send me your home address so I can pop your books in the mail to you. I hope the new books help organize you and Gale (in her comment, Jan mentioned that if she won, she’d give the other book to her girlfriend Gale).
william morris quote
But that’s not all, there’s more . . . first of all, here comes Valentine’s Day, and Janie made us some adorable new banners! I wanted to let you know before they’re all gone . . . Kellee snuck them into the store last week and they’re already flying out.
little things
Janie's heart banners
yay!
cute!
tiny-oranage--heart
valentine envelopes
Janie always makes the cutest envelopes to go with the banners ~ these little banners make the perfect Valentine’s gifts.
sense of beauty; susan branch art
hearts and flowers
swedish hearts
roses
Janie made these Swedish hearts for us too, they come in both white and red and in darling envelopes of their own.
hearts and flowers Sooooo, I hope everyone is feeling festive and organized and no one is too disappointed ~ the hardest thing I do is announce a winner! But I really wanted to thank you for the lovely, wonderful comments you left on the last post. You are an amazing bunch of Girlfriends!
friends
I feel like we’re on some sort of roll, I hate to see it come to an end, so, because it’s almost Valentine’s Day, I thought . . . maybe . . . we should . . .
roses
heart teapot
have another. . .
another what? ~ another what? . . . another cup of tea?
La-dee-da . . . la-dee-da
hearts
tea time
heart teapot
GIVEAWAY!! After all, winter is long, and the secret of a happy life is continuous small treats, right? . . . and a tea pot really isn’t very big . . .just the perfect size for Smallville.
pink flowers
A Fine Romance
Remember, you saw that teapot in A Fine Romance?
pink-flowers
heart teapot
I’ve had mine for a long time ~ remember how well it mixes with my mismatched dishes?
hearts and flowers
breakfast valentine's party
And how cute it looked at our Valentine’s Breakfast party with the Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz dishes? I think you would love having one as much as I do.
pink-flowers
Private blend lavender tea
pink-flowers
And there’s even more, it’s a really BIG Giveaway! Because I thought it would be nice to include this ~ a tin of our own private label Earl Grey tea with Lavender and Rose Petals. Yum!
Oh yes! And one more thing, since it’s Valentine’s Day we’re talking about . . .
Isn't it romantic
isn't it romantic
pink-flowers
I thought, even though most of you already have it, A FINE ROMANCE would make a good Valentine’s present because handyou could give it away to someone you love. And if you don’t already have the book, if your name is drawn, you would now have access to the recipe for Rachel’s Lemon Butter Cookies. It’s a win-win! And I hope you do! Win, I mean. My way of saying Thank You!
hearts and flowers
Sasha is A Fine Romance
Kitties love it too.And vice versa.
3hearts  So, we’re going to have another drawing ~ after all we don’t want that silver manicure of Vanna’s to go to waste, teacup flowersand she adores Valentines Day more than any other . . . so, to sum up: if you left a comment on the post below for the Internet Address Books, you are already entered for the teapot, book and tea! But if not, leave a comment at the bottom of this post and tell your mom, your sister, your grammie, your BFF, your great-aunt Mary, your Twitter friends, Pinterest Peeps, and Facebook pals to come on over and enter too.
pink roseThe prizes: one of our dear Girlfriends is going to get a 4-cup, Emma Bridgewater Heart Teapot, my “Come Sit Stay” tea tin with delicious Lavender and Rose Petal Earl Grey Tea, AND a signed copy of A FINE ROMANCE.
(And you think YOU’RE having fun! HA! When people talk about “the power of the Internet” I think this is what they mean! At least here in Smallville.)
Rubbing hands together in attack of pathological enthusiasm.
girl with hearts
And P.S. if just thinking about this inspires you to envision having a Valentine’s Tea Party, the first thing you will need are invitations . . . so here you go! girlfriendsClick there and you can print out as many as you need on card stock or heavy paper (one of our girlfriends said she used a cut-down manila envelope and it worked perfectly! Probably an interesting color too, quite creative!) ~ candlelightinvite your best girlfriends, your sisters, your mom, your best guy, or someone who simply needs an airing (as Joe would say, usually about me when I’ve been in the house too long), and celebrate as we do so well here in Smallville. Make Rachel’s cookies and some cucumber sandwiches, light the fire and a candle or two, talk, talk, talk, solve all the world’s problems, hash over Downton Abbey, and watch the cold and snow fade away to nothing.
hearts and flowers
cardinal
Ah yes, here’s Nature’s Valentine, out on our feeders . . . making the world more adorable one little birdie at a time.
The little things in life SB
Love you Girlfriends, have a wonderful day!
Feed Your Creative Heart
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Hello from Smallville!

“Hello,” as my dad says, “from Smallville!”  ‘Cause that’s where I live too.  And I like it lit the firehere.  Sometimes the world just seems too big ~ but the bigger it gets, the smaller I get ~ because here in Smallville,  it’s always a nice day. There’s plenty to do in Smallville too … it’s not a boring place.

  Things that don’t count in the big world are EVERYTHING here.  When the world tries to get into Smallville and upset the smallness, I shut it out, turn on the MUSICA (listening to this now), light a fire (hearing it crackle), watch the birds busy at the feeders (peep-peep), and do what needs to be done.

toxic world

doing dishes

Like cleaning shelves. Nothing more common sense than this, sometimes it needs to be done.  I give myself a sense of purpose and accomplishment by getting the cooking juices off yellow glasswaremy shelves with a hot soapy cloth; washing dishes (I wash the ones with gold trim on them by hand) and putting them back on the shelves, shiny and clean.  Standing back and looking at my handiwork and saying, “ahhhh, look at that sparkle!”  I’m always happiest when my corner of the world is clean and organized and a new year for me always includes organization, which my mom says, is the key to success.

watercolor flowers

doing dishes

Some of the dishes are washed by hand, and these just came out of the dishwasher.

doing dishes

It’s before dawn and my audience is very quiet, just waking up, she pussyfoots around.  No loud applause.  Just purring.  

And speaking of organization . . .

watercolor flowers

address book

The other thing I wanted to share with you is an organizing thing that has turned out to be SO GOOD I had to tell you about it.  I had this old (no longer in print) unused address book lying around, so I grabbed it and turned it into a brand new thing.

address book

It’s now my “Internet Address and Password Log Book.”  Before I thought of this, I had all my notewebsites and passwords written, but not alphabetized, on four pieces of paper (adding more pages all the time) that got limper and more tattered and worn by the day; torn on the fold and messy with additions and pencil smears ~ I would have to “re-do” the whole thing every so often.

watercolor flowers

address book

Now I have a real book I can put everything in. Like here, under C, the phone number and email address for Customer Service at my Studio.

watercolor flowers

address book

It’s a hard-cover book with alphabet tabs that keep everything I need right at my fingertips.

watercolor flowers

organization

For instance, under M, for Mom, here are all the websites, user names and passwords I need in order to pay my mom’s bills online.  There are copies of her two credit cards, in case I need them. (These pages look a lot better in real life than they do in these photos ~ I didn’t think it would be very smart for me to show the world my passwords so I sort of squiggled them out; I knew you would be proud of me for the quick thinking.)

watercolor flowers

advice from mom

address book

Under G is my Google Password, and all my contacts with the people at Gladys Taber, my Gmail and Goodreads Passwords too.  Under S, I have web addresses for all the online places I like to Shop, passwords and usernames for shoes and sweaters and art supplies (sometimes I cross-reference and put art supplies under A, or U for Utrecht); under P, I have my Pinterest and Paypal account numbers . . . under C I have my Computer fix-it people, my Credit Card account numbers and contacts, and so on. I can pack this book up and take it with me no matter where I go! Very handy don’t you think? SO much better than my previous way of doing it.

watercolor flowers

address book

I thought maybe this was something you might want to do. And, just in case you don’t have an old address book lying around . . .

watercolor flowers

address book

I do!  Two in fact, you can choose! You like yellow?  We have yellow.  You like blue? We have blue!

watercolor flowers

IMG_8885

Both come complete with alphabet tabs . . .

address book

They’re both in full color, binder style, they come with lots of pages. I blow on my fingernails, polish them on my sweater, say to myself, Brilliant!  It makes me feel good to be organized.

address books

And if you like it too, I have something for you!

word

watercolor flowers

A new drawing for these two “Internet Address Books,” one for our lucky winner, and one for the lucky winner to give away to her lucky friend! All you have to do is leave a comment and you’ll be entered into the drawing.  (NOTE: If the blog is mailed to you, you might not see a place to leave a comment, go directly to www.susanbranch.com, scroll to the bottom of this post, look for the tiny word “Comments” at the very end in tiny grey letters, click there to comment so you’re entered into the drawing.)  Vanna (she’s our virtual in-house Game Girl and “random number generator,” although she would hate to be called this) is on high alert, ready to do her job in a few days, to choose the winner.

So here in Smallville, all is well, even though it’s freezing outside . . .

frozen garden

And everything is coated in this crisp frozen-on snow crust . . .

ice feathers on the windows

The wind whistles and the shutters bang and ice crystals grace all our upstairs windows ~

IMG_8932

Inside Smallville, it’s 72°, it’s organized (within reason) and as flowery and summer-like as  I need it to be while I paint for our new 2016 calendars.

watercolor flowers

kittyLast but not least, I realize there’s not enough Kitty Love in this post, in case you need a fix, go HERE, for full and complete inundation.

watercolor flowers

And a reminder of the best of the little things in life:

kitten

A kitty will make you laugh every day and that is simply priceless.  Love you Girlfriends.  Don’t forget to leave your comment.  Have a wonderful day!  All my love from Smallville, USA.  XOXO

watercolor flowers

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