R A B B I T    R A B B I T   Hello October!  MUSICA



Good Morning, Gypsy Vagabond Girlfriends (and all the rest of you too), Happy October!

this morning

Here’s the view outside our upstairs window this morning.  Rain and blowing leaves for us today.


first fire

Last night, we had our first fire of the season!  



We went away last weekend.  I had a wonderful booksigning and then went up to Exeter, NH (this is our view from the hotel window) to go leaf peeping and graveyard wandering. 


Best of British

pumpkinHere we are, parked in front of Best of British in Newburyport MA. It’s just the most wonderful store ~ the charming owners Bernadette and Bob Williams along with the wonderful people who work there, Cathy, Dolina, Lucy, and Evan — and Wendy Louise who volunteered for the day, made it SO nice for us. (If I forgot anyone, please forgive me!)  The store is in a darling town you should put on your list to see if you are ever in this neck of the woods.  There’s plenty of reason to be here; everything in this area is filled with early history of our country. We went over to Plymouth too, and visited the Mayflower Society House.


They saved us a parking space right out front! (Oh dear, she already has her mouth open!) (Photo borrowed, with permission, from www.karenharveycox.blogspot.com ~ she was there, thank you Karen!)


I signed books for two hours having so much fun because everyone in line was talking and laughing as if they’d known each other forever. It was a Girl Party! Everyone was remembering Joe with the tea bag!  Ha ha ha ha!  We all agreed we have the “best girlfriends” ever!  We even had nuns from the Holy Nativity Convent come to say hello, my first nuns at a booksigning, and they were adorable, you would have loved them like everyone else did.  This is Mother Seraphima.

The Mothers and me

I asked for permission to introduce them to you; they said OK, and so, from left: Mother Pelagia, Mother Xeni, me, Mother Warty pumpkinsSeraphima and Mother Martha, all from the Holy Nativity Convent.  And they’re all Girlfriends on the blog ~ They came because they’re fans of A FINE ROMANCE ~ they drove in from Brookline to have their books signed!  We had such a good time ~ they were so happy and fun to talk to, I was honored (as I was with every person I met) that they came.  They brought me a loaf of amazingly delicious bread, homemade by Mother Effie (who wasn’t with them), which I’ve been eating ever since, feeling very blessed.  

They also brought us these . . .

Beautiful Beeswax

. . . gorgeous, handmade (they make them at the convent) 100% pure Beeswax candles with the delicate delicious scent of honey.  I have one going here in my studio right now, they’re slow burning and don’t drip at all.  And I discovered they sell them on line!  They are so inexpensive I couldn’t wait to tell you about them, what a nice Thanksgiving or Christmas gift . . . only $11 for eight candles! (11 1/2″ long x 3/4″ diameter) . . . Girl Kitty loved them too, here she is this morning,


 . . . wide awake in the holy candlelight at 4:30 am.

Mothers' Bread

I munch this crunchy toast one mouse-bite at a time so it will last as long as possible.  It’s whole wheat with every healthy thing, flax seeds, oats, sunflower seeds, honey and lots more, including bulgur.  Mother Effie sent me the recipe to share ~ I’ll give it to you soon. You will love it! It’s heavenly!


Kale saladOur Girlfriend Martha was also at the signing (I’m sorry to say, we didn’t take enough photos!) and brought me this recipe which I made for dinner last night.  You can print it out if you like.  Lately I’m leaning more and more toward a vegetarian diet, not rigidly, but I like it better, I feel better, so it’s easy to do. So when I saw this HEALTHY recipe from Martha, I said, oh yes, please!

flower border

fresh kale

Here’s how it’s done:  You start with a bunch of kale (try to get organic if you can) ~ wash it and let it dry.


Put the zest of one orange into a small bowl . . .

Kale salad

. . . and mix it with a half-cup of fresh orange juice.

little orange bouquets

Speaking of orange . . . 


Whisk the juice and zest together with the rice vinegar and maple syrup and set aside.


Cut or tear a bunch of Kale into bite-sized pieces . . . removing the stems.


Put the kale in a large bowl, pour the orange dressing over, mix well, and then massage it  ~ (I know, this is a first, massaging greens, but massaging softens kale, takes away the bitterness, and makes it easier to eat) just take each piece of kale between your thumb and first two fingers and give it a good rub. To know if you’ve done it right, taste it, if it’s still bitter, massage some more.  You probably know how GOOD kale is for you? ← Click there if you don’t.



Once the kale is ready (you can even see it’s softer here), add a bag of broccoli slaw, and a half-cup each of dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds. (Or instead of cranberries, try adding beets and orange segments, and maybe some creamy goat cheese).


Mix it well and let it marinate for four hours in the fridge, stirring every so often. Give yourself a hug for making such a healthy salad! It keeps in the fridge for four days.


quinoa salad

and here’s another healthy salad . . . this  delicious Quinoa salad, I wanted to remind you in case you haven’t tried it yet ~ it’s perfect for a fall dinner and would taste just as good even if you weren’t trying to be healthy!

sense of beauty; susan branch art

Some beautiful new things have come into the Studio, Girlfriends ~ starting with THIS 

be an elf!

. . . A brand new dream charm for your bracelets and necklaces!  This one is magic, it says “BE  ♥ AN ♥ ELF” one of my favorite little sayings. These days, elves are more important than ever before.

Be an Elf!

This is it from the side . . . the charms come in a small clear bag, each with a different gift card and message that says it all.


Here’s our other new charm . . . To celebrate AUTUMN from the Heart of the Home . . . ♥


This “I LOVE AUTUMN” dream charm is all about the swirling leaves of fall ~ but I’m sorry to say, there is one problem . . . we only received about a quarter of our order  . . . there was a mixup with the rest of them.  I don’t think what we have will last long, but they take such a long time to make ~ I don’t think we’ll be getting anymore this year since Autumn is racing toward winter . . . so if you like it, go now!


On top of that, our annual Limited Edition Christmas Ornament has arrived! 


Santa in all his pink-cheeked glory hanging from a gingham ribbon!


lady bird

I’m watching a movie called The Merry Widow while I’m writing you  ~ and they just did the most wonderful waltz, I thought you might enjoy it!  It’s Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette Macdonald.  I have more to tell you, but I need to go now ~ I’ll write more soon!  I promise!  xoxo Have a wonderful day! 

Von Arnim Quote

It’s raining, it’s pouring the old man is snoring . . .

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Time out for dreaming, Girlfriends. One of the things I’ve learned over time is to listen to my inner voice when it tells me I’ll do better work if I take some time to dream and just be. So that’s exactly what I am going to do, but first a new post ~ I’ll show you what I have in mind . . . MUSICA 


 I actually started yesterday ~ I don’t think I’ve ever felt it as strongly as I do right now, I think it’s trying to tell me something ~ all the way out on the walk this morning I was in some sort of nature trance, I could feel the movement of every leaf and the drift of every cloud ~ it was sending me to the moon.

Saturday Evening Post 1926-03-20

Our walk lends itself to that kind of dreaming. Looking at the sky through a canopy of leaves and of course staring at the sea is an excellent exercise for dreaming.

You’re all dressed up to go dreaming, mind if I come along . . .

old cokbooks

I love reading old cookbooks too, especially this time of the year, it takes my mind to another world . . .


. . . and makes me want to bake something . . .


'08 May, Vineyard 015

Because there is nothing quite as inspiring as coming in from a chilly fall day and smelling something baking in the oven. It makes a person feel good about herself, don’t you agree?

Random Harvest

Another good one is getting under a blanket your grandma knit for you, totally guilt free, not a care in the world, with a kitty on your tummy, to watch a wonderful old movie like Random Harvest.


october 2010 415

Also, making dinner with the birds at the feeders and no noise at all, just the clanging of the measuring spoons, the clanking of the spoon against the bowl.

little vases

Filling the little vases with whatever is drifting around the garden . . .bringing nature indoors. And I don’t have a photograph of this but I have to report an aphrodisiac alert!  Joe just walked by my studio window carrying our new storm door for the front door! I love a man in the yard in the fall!  So inspiring!

Sept 2010 179

I love wrapping up in a cozy shawl and lighting candles and reading or just staring at the fire as the days grow shorter.


. . . and hanging clean dishtowels on the stove . . . is perfectly inspiring to me.


my diary

Of course writing in my dairy . . . extra squiggles are tucked in the back of my diaries, everything from greeting cards to ticket stubs — this is one of them (on the right), totally and completely meaningless . . . I have no idea why I did it.  I think I’m thinking about clothes!


This was me just starting out on a lifetime of dreaming.  In those days it was the noises of the neighborhood from my bedroom window that sent me off to la-la-land. I could lay on my bed and listen to that all day. I recreate that every chance I get.

art girl

This is just a little wonderful art (which I did, of course, NOT paint!)


Back then my dreams had no edges, no solid lines, they were unformed, I didn’t even know I was doing it.  After I grew up I learned about Beatrix Potter and always wondered what her dreams were like as a child.  She has always seemed so grounded to me, I wonder if she had flights of fancy. 


 But she definitely helped me to form my grown-up dreams.

Falling in love


She gave me places to go and people to see . . .


Dreaming taught me this . . .

counting time

Every once in a while I forget, but then I remember.


Of course, the fastest way to fill my heart with inspiration is to imagine myself back in England, for example here, in Ellen Terry’s garden.  I can still smell the fresh green-ness of this place, and feel the breeze and remember that it is actually poetry in motion.

Time for tea


I sat in that garden, with her lilac, writing our book, having tea AND Peah-Ci-da, listening to lambs baaah, all senses on high alert.  Deep breath, ahhhh, now that was a beautiful day.


An empire of imagination.♥  I am SO HAPPY Scotland, with it’s lovely men in kilts and the entire ecosystem of fairy magic, chose to remain as part of England. I was so happy to hear the news this morning, it made me cry!  It would have been very sad to see them break up after so many years. MUSICA  And I’m sure it will be better now! Heres to the future!

Here’s a bit of English charm I know you will love, also from Ellen Terry’s garden.



And this?  This is my first glimpse of Wray Castle, the place the Potter family rented on their first stay in the Lake District when Beatrix was sixteen.  I took this photo while on a boat crossing Lake Windermere, the egret was a gift. 


I wrote about the Waterhead Hotel in Ambleside (across from where you get the boats) where there was magic in the bathroom! This is the place!  I didn’t have room for a picture in A Fine Romance, but here it is! If you haven’t read it, you can (if you squint) below.


Like a basket of drinkable kittens . . . 

working on the book

This stone cottage in Tetbury belonged to our friends Siobhan and John.  There is a river running just below the windows, it is raining and grey outside; just behind where I am working there is a woodstove with a little crackling fire.

Dreaming . . .

story book land

Isn’t it adorable ~ a perfect storybook cottage.  I wrote and watercolored these pages while we were there:


I was channeling Beatrix Potter when I did it. I had to.  I couldn’t help myself by that time.  I’d fallen head over heels in love with everything around me.  She must have painted and drawn on many rainy English days just like mine. 


Lambie Pie.


When a picture makes me cry, I know I’m on the right track.  This is the Yorkshire Dales and the grand sweep of it is beyond my words to describe.  But the sound of those wildflowers blowing against each other was enough to do a person in.  Permanently and forever.


Oh.  I’m sorry.  I’m losing it, right Girl Kitty?  Sorry. 

red books

 Another thing that encourages my dream state, which I need right now for growth, is piddling around.  Putting away my summer books and putting out my red winter books. . .

IMG_6546 . . . filling vases and cups with flowers ~ because  I need nurturing, Joe needs nurturing, kitties need nurturing, our house needs it too, and I’m assigning me the job of doing it. For the sake of my dreams. 


Some people hang clothes on the line because they want to dry them.  I hang them on the line so I can go outside, smell the fall air ~ and watch them fly. 

draft stop


Time to pull out the hooked rugs for the kitchen floor and put the draft stop at the door.  This draft stop is one of my favorite decorations for my kitchen in the fall.  I love it because it’s useful, it does a very good job of keeping the air out, plus, “Home Sweet Home” just says it all.  The design isn’t stamped on, it’s embroidered!  It’s filled with Balsam needles and smells like Christmas.  Kellee says our Goat Barn at the studio (where these are kept) smells WONDERFUL.  Why? Because we just got a bunch of them in!  Are you excited?  Because I am! I’ve been trying for two years!


our walk

My guy, this morning, on our walk where all the trees were talking to me, making me cry from how beautiful it is out there. Beatrix Potter had her beloved Lakeland, and I have my wonderful island, and especially this little corner of it right here, with that guy on it, right there.


And one last thing before I go and do as much more-of-the-above as possible for as long as it takes . . . this↑.  Several of you have asked for Count your Blessings to be made into a print.  And Kellee listened and did it! From us to you with love.  XOXO  Have a wonderful day Everyone, be sure to take a moment for dreaming. 


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