Being Lazy . . .

Rabbit Rabbit, I’m back Girlfriends, didja miss me?  I been busy, oh so busy, doing nothing, being lazy . . .  MUSICA bunny-bunny

Hello Everyone

Each day I come to the studio with the intention of writing a new blog post, but the windows are wide open because the weather has been so wonderful and it gets light so early in the morning and the breeze is coming up from the harbor and the garden looks so pretty from the kitchen window so I go look at it, and what do I see, oh my, weeds, so I sit down to pull a few (under that awning they call the sky), and then it’s time for lunch and then I start writing my book and I can’t put it down until it’s time to go for a walk.  I think you get the picture. I needed what Gladys Taber said we all need . . .


 And so that’s where I’ve been.  Taking a long deep breath of home. Peeping through the deep tangled wildwood . . .  

hanging the wash

Hanging the napkins and tablecloth to dry on the line . . . while dreaming . . . 


planting flowers (Calibrachoa) while remembering . . .



Eating lunch in the garden. For those who read this blog, you probably remember — first we went to New York and when we got back I girl paintingneeded to prepare my AUTUMN book for publication, and then it was time to think about the talk I was giving at the Gladys Taber Reunion, and when we got home from that I got everything ready, made salads and plans for my four high school girlfriends who were coming from California for their first visits to the island. So it’s been go go go. And after they left, it was the brown birds and the butterflies that became the problem . . . it was this . . 

I meant to do my work

the garden

I didn’t fight it. I couldn’t, I needed to breathe it in and girl wateringrefill my inspiration cup, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Not really lazy.  So let’s start here, in the garden, and why not, It’s July! We are in the midst of summer.  Summer!   A little of this, a little of that, and we’ll be all caught up again . . . so here we go. Finally the roses are blooming . . .

new dawn rosesNew Dawn roses on the arbor ~ Joe put up the twinkle lights for the girls.


our walk

This is what our walk in the woods looks like right now! I took the girls every day they were here. I wish I could describe how wonderful it smells, all piney and woodsy, leafy and green, I think you can see why I love it so much.  A mile and a half out to the water and a mile and a half back.  Perfect.

out to the water

The reward at the end of the road.


I’ve been bringing the flowers from the garden inside so now I have a cottage garden outside, but my “kitchen garden” is now IN the kitchen.

hydrangeaSheri sent me the new Emma “jug” otherwise known as a “pitcher” ~ so adorable, it’s called “Rose and Bee” and there are matching mugs and tea towels too, I had to carry it around a bit, it’s been in every room in the house, but this is the spot I love it the best. Mrs. Rabbit-Rabbit agrees. We can keep our eye on it here.



guess who

Jack kept his eye on me while I was out cutting hydrangeas. And Vice Versa.  See him?

Just Joey and Just Jack

My first Just Joey rose is in bloom!  And Just Jack Just Loves It!

kitchen garden

 Every time I go outside I have to get out another little vase, I’m going to need another shelf soon.

jack and the birds

Jack keeps his eyes on the birds.



This is how the garden looks as the sun is coming up . . . sunlight brushes the tops of the pickets, and puts a bright spot on the golden cypress.


The delicate yet bold old-fashioned hollyhock.  Take a deep breath of that. (I already checked it for bees, you’re safe.) The crown of any cottage garden. I have two this year but they’re already on my list for next year, I need more, because I am berserk for these. They grow over six feet high and still manage to look very sweet.



Flowers.  The glory of the earth.


clover's in bloom

Even a lawn filled with clover flowers and flitting bees is lovely.  If you’re new to this blog, you might wonder about how my picket-fence garden came to be and if so, here’s my How-To Kitchen Garden.

catching up

You can blame these guys for my absence too.  I had to schmoosh them.  It kept me very busy.

Girl Kitty

Girl Kitty prefers her schmooshing to be very soft and gentle.  She likes to be carried over my shoulder like a baby and have her ears rubbed. Her mantra?

too much of a good thing


Jack would prefer to run and play, have me hold him up to look out of windows, have me bring in grass for him to smell.  His mantra?



They have been patient while I made salad dressing 


counting time


This is Jack, asleep on my art table next to Gladys Taber’s Especially Father book.  He fell asleep waiting for me to throw his rubber band. And then just as he thought he might get me back, I did this!


Lynn, Marilyn, Cathy, and Karen

natural beauty

But how could I not???  SO much fun!  The kitties have been very patient waiting for me to get home!  This is Lynn (above, from the left), Marilyn, Cathy and Karen (Karen I’ve known since I was nine . . . she’s the one I met the Beatles with, everyone else I met in Junior High School) . . . we are, as you can see, at Nancy Luce’s grave in West Tisbury, a Vineyard must-see as far as I’m concerned.  (If Nancy Luce doesn’t sound familiar to you, you can read more about her HERE.  Sometimes she’s known as the “Chicken Lady,” but she’s so much more than that.)


at the Blue Canoe

We had such a great time, dinner on the water and dinner under the arbor; after lunch on the harbor in Edgartown, we walked up North Water Street and looked at the old houses with Widow’s girlfriendsWalks, laughing about being on the drill team, our outfits, the routines, Miss Robathon, making our pom-poms at Marilyn’s house at a slumber party, going to Lake Arrowhead on spring break, boys we had crushes on.  It’s actually quite surprising how little I really knew about everyone. Like if they were the oldest or the youngest in their families.  Or how many brothers or sisters they had. Or something about the lives of their parents.  Things I would think I would know.  That’s because an amoeba has no brain and when I was in high school I was an amoeba, single-celled, as yet unformed. It was so fun to compare memories and meet each other as grown ups.

little necks

We ate icy raw littleneck clams and fresh hot steaming lobsters; we went shopping, we went to the Campground and to the lighthouses and to Menemsha . . . to every spot of interest we could think of.  We sang in the car, windows down, winding on the island roads, old songs, Like this one . . .still my most favorite thing to do in the world, sing in the car with the windows down, and it’s because of these people.  They started it.


It couldn’t have been better, but too soon it was time to

saying goodbye

say goodbye, waaaah.

wave bye bye

flower border


. . . and suddenly it was quiet and we were alone with no place to go . . . it took some adjusting . . .

clover garden

I could almost hear the clover growing.  It’s a very lovely sound.

whistling cup

 You can also blame my new book for my absense.  Because as my inspiration cup is filling, I wake up full of dreams, I make my tea and then I start to write and sometimes I can’t seem to stop. Every day a new detail gets added, a phrase, word, painting, photo, thought, remembered conversation, or song — I don’t want it to end. (“Reaching for the infinite.” GT)

BUT . . . here we are, hard to believe it’s already 


The fourth of July

Now it’s time to hang the flag . . .


I found it! And celebrate the birth of our nation.  I’ve been saving this to show you . . . I found it written in crayon on the back of an old Christmas Carol book.  This seems like the perfect time for it!

red white and blueTime for the red white and blue.

ending the night with a BANG

Time for fireworks . . .

Packing for the fireworksTime for a picnic . . .

cold rice salad. . . and all kinds of wonderful picnic foods . . . What are you bringing? . . . How about cold Lemon Rice Salad with lots of flower petals, delicious AND beautiful — here’s the RECIPE. 

Pineapple upside down cake

or the best picnic cake of them all . . . tender and moist, not too sweet . . .


 Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with a sticky brown-sugary edge and vanilla bean sauce.  Yum!  Here’s the recipe for that…

Picnic Squash Salad

Or, fresh from the garden, Squash Salad with Nasty Nasturtiums.  Easy, quick, delicious, the squash stays crisp, like pickles.  Try it!

squash salad

Before I go, in case you haven’t noticed, if you have my wall calendar hanging somewhere in your house, something is hideously girlartmissing from it.  You’ve probably figured it out, but if you haven’t, try not to look for July 31 because it’s just not there.  I have a weak, limp excuse and/or reason, and here it is, it comes also with a strong, forthright FIX . . . so go there to read more and add that little something to your calendar that all calendars should have.  The last day of July.

And one last little reminder for all of us
As Jack would say
Love you XOXO GO US
Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 407 Comments

Light the Candles and Set the Table

“Traveling is all very well if you can get home at night.  I shell candlewould be willing to go around the world if I could be back in time to light the candles and set the table for dinner.”  Gladys Taber.


going home

What a week!  We had a wonderful time in Connecticut, but it is so nice to be home!  Here we are on board the ferry heading back to Martha’s Vineyard the slow way.  We’ll be home in time to light the candles and set the table for dinner.


the island

There’s the lighthouse and some of the little cottages along the shore . . . Good clues for knowing we’re almost home.



There are a few wooden schooners like this that live permanently in the Vineyard Haven harbor.  So beautiful, love catching glimpses of them under sail. Wind, sea, seagulls crying, more lovely hints that we are drawing nearer. 


When we see the church spires, we know we’re there . . .


And now, here I am bright sunny Monday morning . . . Waking up to the quiet, to the going-nowhere-today, to birds singing and morning sun slanting through the maple trees . . .to a cup of tea and . . .


To the kitties, here’s Jack posing, Girl took off the moment I pulled out the camera. I checked to see what Vanna was doing, and found her bed empty.  She’s not even home.  The nerve of some peoples’ children. There was a note “Be back soon.”  OK.


Then I thought, “Good. I have it all to myself.” First thing I did was walk out to see what grew while we were gone.  We had a good drenching rain storm, so the mock orange (left) and the pink Beauty Bush are cascading over each other and smelling like exotic perfume. 



Pink perfection “Linda Porter” (named for Cole Porter’s wife, he wrote the song you’re listening to) is blooming.

Old roses quote susan branch




I picked strawberries for breakfast . . .


And washed one


Y U M !

small treats

hanging clothes

I got the laundry going and started hanging it on the line. I really wanted to come in and update the Blog, and pick the winners, but would you look at this day! So, you may have noticed, I’m late.

Beauty Bush

I suppose one of these days we will have to cut the beauty bush back, we can barely get through it to get to the back garden, but probably we won’t be doing it today.

GoldfinchesHello to the Goldfinches . . .

So here’s what we’ve been up to since we last talked . . . We’ve been away ~ I was asked to speak and sign A FINE ROMANCE at the annual meeting of the Friends of Gladys Taber, in Danbury Connecticut.  If you don’t know who Gladys Taber is, you can read more about her HERE. But she is an author that I have loved since I discovered her many years ago.  So I was honored and thrilled when they invited me to tell the story of how I found one of my heroes ~ it’s just another odd and wonderful way to find out how connected we all are, even when it is least expected!

Finally.The day before I was to give the talk, Joe and I were invited to see Stillmeadow Farm, and the 1690 farmhouse in Southbury, CT that Gladys Taber called home ~ many of her books are centered on this house. Here I am arriving at Stillmeadow for the first time in my life. I am verklempt. 



Because what does anyone do when they see a fabled place for the first time?  They cry, tears pop out horizontally. I thought I was strong, but the moment I got out of the car, I was mincemeat.  Gladys’ granddaughter Anne had come out that door to greet me and what did she find?  Mincemeat. The moment I saw the house, my imagination jumped to the picture of Gladys and her best friend Eleanor seeing this adorable little place for the first time, and saying, “I’ll take it!”



The house is not a museum, it’s still family owned, and I don’t think anything has been changed or moved since Gladys lived here. For about two hours, Joe and I had the privilege of wandering around Stillmeadow taking pictures, visiting with Anne, hearing her stories, drinking her tea, eating her cake.  In addition to writing books, Gladys raised thoroughbred cocker spaniels and this iron bootscraper on the windowsill is one of the little reminders you notice here and there around the house.

Gladys' typewriter


Some of Glady's books

Gladys was born in 1899, she lived through two world wars and the great depression, and died on Cape Cod in 1980, but despite the turmoil in the world, she managed to carve out a “safe space” for herself, where peace and contentment reigned supreme ~ she stayed happy and grateful her whole life.  She wrote fifty-nine books (all out of print now, but still available in used bookstores and flea markets if you are lucky ~ collecting them is part of the fun), about one a year for her whole writing career beginning around 1925. She also wrote homemaking columns such as her “Butternut Wisdom” for women’s magazines.  She was a hard worker and very prolific, very wise and very funny.

Here I am standing in front of the famous fireplace where Gladys would simmer baked beans and other wonderful things during the wild snowstorms she described in her books.  I was wishing it would start snowing. Snow us right in so we would have to spend the night! “Oh darn,” I would say!


living room

See Gladys granddaughter, Anne, in the mirror?  She is telling Joe how she’s working to upgrade and protect Stillmeadow and the surrounding countryside, and these days that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Speaking of sounds . . . Mas MUSICA?  Something for Gladys.

Christmas in Connecticut fireplace 4

There is a wonderful movie called “Christmas in Connecticut.”  Have you seen it? Because if you haven’t, you have something to look forward to!  Write it down and save it for this Christmas.  You will love it!  One of the most adorable movies ever, starring Barbara Stanwyck and lots of other wonderful actors.    Supposedly this movie was loosely based on the Gladys Taber Ladies Home Journal Column called “The Diary of Domesticity,” started in 1945.  As you can see from my photos, Gladys’ living room didn’t quite look like the one in the movie version ~ she lived the life she wrote about; simple, humble, and very real. 

kitchen window

Here we are in her tiny kitchen where “the cheese melts, the butter sizzles and the cream sauce bubbles.”

kitchen linoleum


You can see, as my sister would say, this is a one-butt kitchen.

kitchen table

Not like the kitchen in the movie . . .

movies and life

house of books

There’s an old spinning wheel and the house is filled with old books. Stillmeadow is not open to the public.  There is no support money arriving from anywhere.  It is just as Gladys left it, not really so long ago. 

everything old

Gladys loved milk glass

We readers of Gladys Taber all know how much she loved milk glass, and here it is, in the corner cupboard, just as she described it.

narrow stairs

Here are the stairs to the second floor, straight up, almost like a ladder, with a rope to hold onto.

photo 8-staircase

Here are the stairs in the movie. I like them both.  


Upstairs, three tiny bedrooms, still in use.

room with a view

With quiet views of a quiet place. The same view people saw here three hundred years ago, when Stillmeadow was new.

upstairs bedroom

I love all these old headboards and footboards, look how beautiful the wood is. Anne spent part of her childhood here.  

Gladys' bed

This is Gladys’ bedroom . . . The daybed (on the right) is where her desk and typewriter were.  

“I suppose I am a sparrow, a stay-at-home-bird.”  Gladys Taber

little birds

Gladys' Bedroom

Her desk was in front of the window on the left.  The books are just as she left them.

Me with Anne

I told Anne that the house reminded me of Beatrix Potter’s house, it was like an English house, and she said, “Well, it was an English house!”  Yes, oh my, she’s right, because in 1690, when this house was born, this was Southbury, England!


Then Joe and I went outside to wander around ~ Anne and her husband David are doing lots of work on the house, working to put it into better shape, the way it was when her grandmother lived here.

good things


These old houses are so “natural” they could be compost within a very short time!

Quiet Garden

This is a famous spot in Gladys’ books called the “Quiet Garden.”  Over the years, the trees grew thick over it and growing things were shaded out, most of the garden has disappeared, but do you see the new posts?  Anne and David did those just recently.  They are bringing it back.  The reason it’s called “Quiet” is because it was fenced in with a gate; it was one of the few places on the forty acres that the dogs were not allowed.



This is Gladys in her glory, and we can judge her heart to be the best.

quiet garden

Thyme used to grow between the stones, roses tumbled over the picket fence, and will do again someday; they are planning to thin the trees that grow around the Quiet Garden. Once the sun shines on it again, it will be fun to see just what comes back on its own!

The well

Here’s the old well.  This was the topic of conversation for Joe and I (our Morning Science episode) for our walk through the woods today.  How was it, we asked ourselves, on a drizzly, icy, snowy afternoon, to pull up a bucket of chilled water from the girl-in-bathwell (because you had no running water in your house so this is what you had to do), fill a pail, carry it inside, then go out (brrrrr!) and get another, and another until you had enough, and then heat it over a fire, and start filling a tub for your bath.   Then go bake the bread for dinner. And make a quilt.   We are baby food compared to our ancestors.  But they had something over us.  They had quiet. Pure, clean, sparkling like stars (and lots of them), deep-breath quiet. Maybe a jingle of reins, maybe a clip-clop of the horses. Church bells. But that was it. No dishwasher noise, no TV, no radio, no cars, no beeping things or phone answering machines, no snow blowers or leaf blowers or lawn mowers or hair dryers, and no, “you’ve got mail.”  

Mountain Laurel

Deep breath . . . Mountain laurel runs rampant around Stillmeadow and the Connecticut countryside in general.

beyond the fence

This is the new fence that David and Anne have been building.

Sanford Road

This is the unpaved street in front of Stillmeadow. Much effort to conserve this area has been inspired by Gladys and taken up by many others who live nearby. In your heart, you look at it and you say, please never change.


Because it’s lovely to take a walk up this quiet road, see the beautiful old houses and red barns and smell the green things growing.


And listen to the water fall . . .



saying goodbye

So now it’s time to go.  There are almost 200 people coming for the Reunion . . . and thanks to Anne, they will all have a chance to tour Stillmeadow.  A rare occurrence, so there’s lots of excitement in the air.

Time to go

We get ourselves together, put our cameras away, and off we go . . . I have to practice my speech!  Two Hundred People, Yikes!  I was not born to get up in front of two hundred people.  I will do it, for the cause, but I am wicked scared.


Me with Susan

The big day has arrived.  Here I am with Susan Turnley, the hard-working editor of the wonderful Gladys Taber Newsletter. girl with hearts(Saving the memory and legacy of Gladys Taber is not a money-making enterprise, no one is paid, everyone does what they do with the fervent wish that Gladys Taber books and wisdom will be around to help in any small way to guide the future. If you’d like to help, you can sign up HERE and receive your very own copies of the best Newsletter I’ve ever seen. Thank you Linda, Carol, Nancy, Vernon, Louella, Paul, and Teresa!)  Susan is introducing me, and giving me a gift, which turns out to be this adorable little children’s book about lambs!


The perfect thing for me, because I am crazy about lambs!


lamb book

Published in 1931 ~ Just my cup of tea.

“It’s not that I belong to the past, but the past belongs to me.”  Mary Antin

Friends of Gladys Taber

So now it was time to face the MUSICA . . . these people made it easy . . .

Simply The Best

I thought about putting some of my talk here, but the way I discovered Gladys Taber will be in my new book ~ my talk wasn’t short ~ I’ve already kept you waaaaay too long, and I’m not even done yet!  We still have our drawing!  I woke Vanna, she is stirring!


The best part about being here was this lovely group of kindred spirits.  Can you see the little girl  at the first table, she’s looking at her camera (I think) wearing a light pink top and has dark hair? 

Kate, Eileen's granddaughter

Here she is, you might remember this photo of her, her name is Kate ~ her grandmother sent this to show her reading A FINE ROMANCE.  She was there, so you can see, I was among friends!


stopping on the way home

And then, too soon (Susan and I planned to do this a year ago, it’s been in the future for so long), it was over, and we were on our own again, doing what we do best, traveling the backroads in our rolling billboard toward home, stopping at antique stores and bookstores, 


Doing our best to help support the country people by stopping at their darling nurseries and buying flowers for the front porch.

OK, Here we go, Girlfriends . . . the big moment has come!


OH VANNA?  We are so ready honey, come on down! (Still groggy, feet clomping in pink satin slippers, sweeping down kitchen stairs now, she had a big day yesterday, I should start another blog called Life of Vanna.) She’s wearing one of those black satin eye-shaped masks that keep out the light, the ones with the eyes embroidered in pink thread ~ pushed up on her head. But she’s pulling out the names with her normal verve and style, she can do this in her sleep, despite the kajillion names on tiny pieces of paper, like confetti . . . between these last two posts, we had over 4,000 comments.  Yes, dearest girlfriends, this is definitely a record around here!    

Vanna's shoe

OK, here we are, Winner #1, for the unbound proofs of my 2015 wall and mini calendars . . . the winner is . . .

pink border 


Gwyn Whelband! A Girlfriend in Australia!  Congratulations Gwyn!


And now . . . fingers crossed that YOU are the winner . . . behind door number Two, the signed HEARTS and FLOWER quilt made from my Martha’s Vineyard Fabrics goes to . . .

pink border

Hearts and Flowers

Roxanne (the Roxanne with a pie stand in her kitchen)

Congratulations Roxanne!!!


And, here we go, door number THREE, my Tea Party fabric tea ballcollection, including a bolt of yellow bees, the Little Fat Quarters, and the baby fabric . . . (I hate to even announce this last winner, I would so like it to be all of you! But it must be done . . . and we do have small consolation prizes for everyone)  HERE WE GO, the winner is . . . yikes, I’m even nervous saying it . . . 

pink border

Everything but Jack

Linda from Idaho!!!

Congratulations Linda!  And to all of you lucky winners!!! Look for an email in your boxes from me!  Send me your addresses letterso we can get everything off to you!  Thank you to everyone who put their name in . . . I’m determined to keep giving things away until everyone’s got something!  It’s getting harder, but I’ll keep trying, so watch for the next Giveaway!

Now, the consolation prizes, and then you are free to go live your life, in the spirit of Gladys Taber: listening to the birds, enjoying the little things in life.  Little things like this: 


Don’t let summer go by without trying this amazing Lemonade, it’s like no other!  It will cheer you right up!


And for you all, because your creative heart shone through in your wonderful comments (that I will never get over actually), a special BOOKMARK just for my Girlfriends ~ you can print it out on card stock . . . from me to you with love and gratitude.  

And now, on to my next “project.”  Four of my best high school girlfriends are coming from California on Friday for four days!  . . .

Karen and me

Cathy, Marilyn, Lynn, and Karen  (that’s Karen on left, me on right ~ yes, Karen’s the one I met the Beatles with!) I need to get out my old photo albums!  Planning menu, island tour, fluffing bedrooms (throwing rubber bands for Jack, hugging Girl Kitty, my work is cut out for me).  This is their first time on Martha’s Vineyard!  Who’s more excited, me or them?  Has to be me!

Bye for now Girls, Keep in touch!  I hope you have a wonderful day! One more bit of brilliance to cheer your day . . . look at this!  Fred and Eleanor and more Cole Porter. The end is positively spectacular!

All the flowers . . .

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 601 Comments