Here I am, your woman’s home companion, busy at work.  Happy Sunday!  Guess what!  I finished the new Blotter Calendar yesterday!

paintbrush  So happy.  Did I tell you it’s much bigger than the old one?  It is — it’s 17″ x 22″ — very professional and so much space to write in.  But still adorable like the others!  Now only one calendar left to do, the little mini calendar, starting that today.  MUSICA. And then freedom!  And new book to write and paint!

artist at work

And after I get done with the calendars, I have some fun surprises for you!!  Yes I do, and that includes a special giveaway.  I just need time to the handle comment “moderation” which lifeisgoodcomes with giveaways — otherwise it would be today. (I have a terrible time keeping secrets so this is not easy!)  But today is taken . . . first mini calendar . . . and then . . . you know, Downton Abbey!  

I’ve held off showing this bit of information that Laura from Twitter sent me until you all had hopefully caught up with last week’s adventure.  It’s a closeup of the letter Edith got from her Doctor. (I know you’re way over this English Girlfriends and those who find it unbearable not to peek ahead, but for us still in the throes of discovery . . .)  Remember how quick they showed this letter?  Way too quick to read.  I got to “consultation” and it was gone!  Joe didn’t get it either.  Blinking and deep breathing occurred.  Hate bubbles went to writer.  But Laura froze it and sent it to me and I saved it so in case you missed it, here is the scary truth of what is going on!!!


From Laura

yikesYikes!  “writing to confirm my findings . . . ”  Here she is, poor Edith, finally out from the judgement of Mary who is so mean to her (Why? I do not know. Wait ’til she hears this), getting a wardrobe full of fun flapper clothes, becoming independent suffragette-type modern woman, kissing in restaurants, falling in love with a cute guy who has now disappeared (Why? We don’t know), and now this.  My only prayer is that those symptoms are also consistent with a touch of the flu.  Perhaps vertigo.  Or stress.  Maybe she has the chicken pox.  We shall see, tonight Girlfriends!  Until then, back to work I go!  Later Tater!


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  1. Sweet Sue says:

    Musica….Musica….Musica….what is life without musica? I had never heard of Annette Hanshaw yet enjoyed the song you shared, “True Blue Lou”! Do you just go to You Tube and put in name of artist and song to get your clips? Would love to start sharing musica myself in some of my emails to others. Thanks again for sharing!

    • sbranch says:

      I do, I’ve loved old music since I was old enough to hate hard rock! I had Shirley Temple and Marilyn Monroe albums in my 20’s and got laughed right off the stereo by my friends!

      • Sweet Sue says:

        🙂 That’s great …… you dance to the beat of a different drummer……and that is why you are so special to us all because you are not afraid to be who you are and share that free-spirited creative spirit God gave you with others. For if it be told many of us are not the “norm” of our generation or society we live in so we cheer on and are inspired by those who live life to the fullest and encourage us to do the same! You Go Girl!!!! 🙂

      • Carolyn says:

        Sadly, I just heard Shirley Temple passed away last night at 85 years old. I loved her, too. My brothers and sisters would sit around the TV watching her on Saturday afternoons. My sisters and I always cried so hard during Heidi.

  2. Jean says:

    So glad Lady Edith decided not to get the abortion, but how will she handle this, especially with her beau missing in action? Oh the drama! Love it!

  3. Asha says:

    Oh Susan! A new book? Did you really say you will be writing a new book?? How wonderful! Can I also pre-order???? LOVE all the Downton comments! I also love the Dowager and the comments she makes. Last night was an especially good episode. I too was watching The Beatles special in between. Did anyone else see “The Making of a Lady” after Downton? Stayed up way too late but couldn’t drag myself away! Take care Susan. Love ya! Hugs to all.

    • sbranch says:

      No pre orders until we’re sure what it is! And after we are burrowed in and truly making it happen. xoxo I had to turn off Making of a Lady! It was so scary at the end … what happened? I left when there was only five minutes left to go.

      • Linda Pintarell says:

        Of course, it had a HAPPY ending…two children, beautiful, loving family. I know… parts of it were scarey – that guy was so creepy…but love prevailed!

      • I stumbled upon Making of a Lady and wow, it kept me on the edge of my seat! Talk about tense! I’m glad it had a happy ending so I could have pleasant dreams. Whew! PBS sure has great programming!

      • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

        I’m curious, too. I turned it off at the scary part because I realized I was holding my breath! I don’t like scary shows as I have an active imagination, as it is!! LOL! I turned back to peek through fingers at it but it was ending so I don’t know what happened! 🙂

  4. Jane Mulligan says:

    Well, now we know! Poor Edith . I so like her and nothing seems to go her way.

    • Kat From Jesey says:

      Edith is my favorite, too (and her wardrobe is to die for… those headscarves alone are so fab)! But she is the black sheep of the family, and just can’t get a break. I don’t know how she can hold back from smacking smug Mary upside her head (not that I condone that, but you know..). I knew Susan and her faithful blogettes would be Downton fans!

  5. Judy F - Orange County, CA says:

    Susan, can you believe how fast Downton wizzes by, it is by far the fastest one hour. Last night’s episode was so good, can’t wait until next week! Sure wish the seasons were a little longer, this one is almost finished! 🙁

    I will look forward to your latest book, whenever it’s finished and whatever the title!

  6. I can’t wait to see your new calander next year, Susan! It sounds like it will be the best ever!

    Downton Abby was full of more “foreshadowing” events this week–I’m so glad that Edith made the right decision regarding her bun in the oven, though. I bet good things will be happening to her son. Just love that show!

    I’m also excited to hear about your new book. It is alwasy fun to have a new one to lok forward to!

    Have a wonderful day!


  7. KarenP (Wisconsin) says:

    This Downton Abbey “forum” is such fun, Susan!! I’m sorry that I comment so much. I know no one but my online girlfriends who watches it (not even my hubby) so it’s nice to have a place to debrIef! LOL!! xo

    • sbranch says:

      That’s why we are here, it’s extended tea at the kitchen table!

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        Here in Rochester, our local PBS station has a 30-min post-Downton gabfest after each episode. Fun to hear the different ways people interpret events & predict what’s next…

  8. Rebecca W says:

    I love your comments and how clever of your friend to freeze the screen so that the letter could be read. I am afraid that I will have to catch up with ‘the Abbey’ after the Olympics. Glued to the ‘telly’ routing for the athletes. Please someone let me know that there is sunshine somewhere, it has been cold, grey and gloomy in Denver. Am not sure that this is not English winter weather???

    • sbranch says:

      We have bright blue sunny skies and 30 degrees. One outta two ain’t bad.

    • Mary S. says:

      It’s sunny and a balmy 68 in Fresno, CA, Rebecca! Not too happy about it, tho’, because we still need a LOT more rain! But it is very beautiful!
      Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

      • Linda Pintarell says:

        Sunny and blue skies in San Diego…but we could use some of the wet stuff – we are in drought conditions – NOT GOOD!

  9. Susan in SC says:

    Sharing a random thought . . . I absolutely LOVE everything about the illustrations and quotes for February on your 2014 wall calendar! What great motivation to get me out of bed and hurry to kitchen to get my morning “SB fix.” I’ve never enjoyed February more . . . too bad it’s the shortest month.

  10. Lorraine says:

    So happy to hear about your progress on the calendars. Thank you so much for keeping your nose to the grindstone – we all love the calendars. No doubt about it. Along with everyone else, I have ideas and would love to see several more books by you – but no one wants you shackled to the drawing board. So hopefully, you’ll get a bit of a break after the calendars are completed.

    I thought I could refrain from refrain from calling Edith, “Poor Edith” – but I can’t. Poor Edith… She’s going to have a tough road ahead regardless of what she decides to do – but so brave for walking out of the abortion clinic. I was so scared for her. Did you see the preview when she talked about marrying a tenant farmer? Hmmmm – not sure how that would work. I loved the scene with Mary and the report writing guy mucking about with the pigs – then eating scrambled eggs. Hope Lord Gillingham or the other guy mess things up. Mary and Edith definitely deserve some happiness. On the other hand, Rose needs to take things a little more seriously. Yikes – that girl is playing with fire. And yes, I saw the murderous look in Bates’ eyes – he most definitely knows who is responsible for hurting Anna. Fingers crossed that justice can be done without Bates going to prison again. And finally, soooooo glad the Dowager is fine. That must have been red herring for all of us so we wouldn’t expect the Bates thing, or something. And so the plot thickens… How many more episodes? My nieces were upset that Sherlock only has 3 episodes per season. So glad there are more with Downton.

    • sbranch says:

      They used to hide their children born out of wedlock with tenant farmers who raised them. Maybe it’s that.

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        Or she could take the Grand Tour and return after a year or so with a “poor little orphan” who somehow looks remarkably like the rest of the Crawleys ??? I’d like to hear Carson & Mrs Hughes on that…

      • sondra fox says:

        Really? Never heard of this Susan. There must be many stories about children trying to find their parents later on in their lives. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  11. peg says:

    something tells me I’m a bit behind on this Downton Abbey-thing. I haven’t seen one episode……pathetic, I know….soon, I hope!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure you’re not the only one Peg … some people, like you, have actual lives to lead! We others live vicariously through the crazy antics of the unreal! 🙂

      • Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

        Peg, you can probably catch up with “On Demand” or something along those lines. I always think of my grandmother while watching Downton Abbey. Her wedding dress was so stylish and similar to those worn by the Ladies. I always think of her and the time frame in comparison to her younger days. She would have been the same age. my thought on Edith – I think maybe she has a tumor! After all, medicine was not so sophisticated. It’s possible her symptoms are of another nature…..

      • Ricki says:

        Now that is funny!!

  12. Gail Buss says:

    Susan, was so surprised to hear some of the GF’s don’t like Mary! I love her and look how she saved the pigs and ended up falling in the mud! As far as she and her sister, Edith, siblings do have “sibling rivalry” and I think Edith has always been a bit jealous of Mary. I must admit at first I wasn’t too thrilled with Mary, but now I just love her as I see she does have a kind heart. And Edith has said some very hurtful things to Mary as well. I am so happy Edith did not go through with the abortion. I can’t imagine how sad her mother, Cora, would be if that happened. (And you know she would eventually find out because these things usually come to light especially on TV stories). Cora was so sad when she lost her own child she was carrying after that other lady’s maid (I think O’Sullivan but not sure) put the bar of soap there for her to slip on so she would lose the baby. Yes, I’m worried about Bates and Anna. They are so special and what happened is such a shame. Mrs. Crawley was a Saint to stay with the Dowanger without any hesitancy on her part that surely she could catch the bronchitis from the Dowanger. And that Rose……….she is trouble and wish they would write her out of the whole script. I must say I wish DA was on all year long. Sunday evenings are so cozy watching DA! I will miss it when this season is over as I always do. Looking forward to next book. Oh I do have one question. I love gingerbread men and you had a banner I saw in one of your posts that had gingerbread men………..do you plan to sell them anymore? I’m already planning for next Christmas! Hugs, Gail xoxo

  13. I had to go back and read Edith’s letter too!

    As to her missing beau…his visit coincides with Hitler’s rise to power (which began in 1919) so that worries me, and he did say he was going to become a German citizen. That would mess up Edith’s life considerably, would it not? There were many British Nazi sympathizers at that time, especially amongst the British aristocracy, so it wouldn’t be unusual for the writers to do that to him. I hope I’m wrong, though.

    • sbranch says:

      You’re right … could be that. But seems a little early for all that Nazi stuff … but where is he??

      • Ann Jane Koerber says:

        I think that fella (Sampson??) that was cheating at poker until Edith’s beau won all the money back – did something to him……

        • sbranch says:

          Ohhhh, interesting. We Girlfriends should hunker down and write our own Downton Abbey. We have very good twists of plot!

  14. sherrill says:

    At a grandson’ s birthday party on Saturday, as we were sitting around visiting, I happened to say,” So, how did everyone like Downton Abbey?” One of my daughters-in-law quickly said ” Don’t say anything! We’re still watching it!” I looked at her as if to say…..huh?…..and she then told me it is still on!! I didn’t know. I had preordered the DVD and they arrived January 30th and so my husband and I have already watched the whole thing. I just thought that they wouldn’t put it out to buy until it had all been shown on PBS.
    Glad she warned me….I’d hate to spoil it for everyone! It’ll be fun to discuss it all here.
    Just love the top painting of today’s blog!!!! Take good care!

    • Jane says:

      I’m with Sherrill….I was very confused until I read Sherrill’s post…I too purchased the season 4 online and have seen all and thought NOW I can watch what’s on t.v. but that isn’t season 5, is it! I think they are in the midst of FILMING season 5. I didn’t think one could get the dvd until that particular season was done showing for the first time on t.v. Maybe the Brits are ahead of us and have seen it all already on t.v. and that’s why it’s available? But mum’s the word, you won’t get any spoilers from me! 😀

  15. Denise from Wpg Canada says:

    So nice to hear of you reading Elizabeth Goudge I loved the Deans Watch and many others , as a girl I enjoyed The Little White Horse, They are classics !
    Loved the rosy cheeked cherub from the blog today concentrating on painting the perfect piggy! not a laptop or tablet or device in sight !! YEA

  16. Lori says:

    This just in. Just thought Jackie Boy and Girl Kitty would enjoy Downton Tabby.

  17. Perfect timing. I sat down with a hot cup of tea and viola, a new SB blog! Warms my heart. Please pass the biscuits. Loved the Home Companion picture. Sweet lil girl. I watched the Beatle special last night and taped DA as I always do. I cried during the first hr of the Beatle special as that was my time. I cried then and I still cry now. What the heck? I sang all through the show. I remembered kissing those pictures a thousand zillion times. It is amazing I still have any lips left! Oh what a great time it was. Then I savored watching my fix of DA. I watched it again this afternoon while my two almost getting along cats napped nearby. It was the least I could do! 🙂 Thank you Susan for warming up my day!

  18. Lynn Hamilton says:

    dear Susan, I am SO EXCITED to hear you have finished the BLOTTER CALENDAR~~~~I so missed it this year…was forced to purchase a plain, generic one..ugh…no inspiration, pretty photos, wise sayings and general enthusiasm for everything that’s good in our lives…I will be ordering calendar as soon as I know it’s ready~also have purchased two of your girlfriend charms (so sweet); one for me and one for my best g/f in Oregon! Love your shop and how much you share of yourself in your blogs….thanks so much!

    Lynn, Rochester, New York

    • sbranch says:

      As soon as the blotter gets into a PDF form, I’ll do a little preview on the blog! I’m happy you’re happy. 🙂

  19. Mary S. says:

    It seems to me that Edith is just as mean to Mary as Mary is to Edith!!! We always watch Downton a day later, on Monday, so I got to freeze the screen to read the letter. What a shock!!!

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA xoxo

  20. Barb from Ohio says:

    Another book in the works? How wonderful! So glad to hear it, we’re all hungry for another one, and no matter what it’s about you have a way with words and of course your wonderful paintings so I know it will be great. As for Downton, my daughter said she actually could read part of the letter as they flashed it on the screen, saw first trimester pregnancy, so she knew then. Mrs. Hughes was mad as a wet hen at the culprit, what’s his name, Mr. Green? I’m wondering if something will happen to him eventually, and those that know Anna’s secret will think Bates did it, but it won’t have been him at all? Feel sad for Edith’s predicament, but glad she decided to have the baby. We shall see what happens, only two more episodes and a Christmas special, I think.

    • sbranch says:

      Ohh, that makes three. Happy to hear that!

      • Barb from Ohio says:

        I was told by someone who I thought would know, that there were two more regular episodes and a Christmas special, but yesterday I checked on Wikipedia and this Sunday’s is the last regular episode and then there is a Christmas special. Don’t look on Wiki if you don’t want spoilers. I wish they had at least ten episodes per season instead of eight, it seems to be over with way too fast.

  21. KarenV says:

    Susan, I’m so grateful that you did a blotter for us for 2015! I must say that I am lost without one for this year. I use it on my desk at school, and always get compliments on how pretty it is, and I love that the squares are large enough to write lots of notes and reminders. So thank you!
    I couldn’t believe Downton last night! I have to say that I think Mrs. Hughes is my favorite character….what would they do without her keeping the peace and all their secrets? And when she told off Mr. Green? I was so proud. She’s like the glue that keeps them all together. I think that Mr. Green’s days are numbered.

  22. Sherry K says:

    At least she didn’t get an abortion. And where is her lover? It will be interesting to watch this play out. Also, Bates is catching on to who is Anna’s rapist. He may not personally take care of this, but he has connections who can. Mercy me!

  23. Mady says:

    I like to record DA to watch a second time before the next Sunday. This way, I can catch some exchanges I couldn’t hear/understand the first time, pause things like this letter, and revel again in the fun bits.

  24. Gypsy says:

    I am so excited about that 2015 BIGGER blotter calendar!
    I am definitely doing the happy dance.
    And Abby fun with all the chatter is wonderful and a hint of a give away
    and a new book, oh my, it is heaven in February! Whoohooo!!!
    Keep Calm and Susan Branch on! LOL!!!

  25. Randi Bault says:

    Yippee!!! Of all things Susan Branch I love your blotter calendar the best!!! And when the year is over I recycle it into scrapbooking and bookmarks and even use your borders for “picture framing”, edging on shelves, cards, banners and all kinds of things. It is a wonderful thing to use as it decorates my desk and my life in oh so many ways. Loooovvvvvvvvvveee it! I am so glad you did 2015!! I missed 2014.
    Downton is eye candy and high drama snd I never miss it! I love all the characters; so much fun…I guess all us girlfriends are kindred spirits when it comes to romance and romantic settings….
    Your friend, Randi —<—<–@
    Oh yeah, P.S. I hate to be a slave master, but…when is "Pancakes" coming to bookstores?

    • sbranch says:

      It’s just one of the books sitting bubbling on the stove. I don’t know, but I’m not sure it will be the first anymore as I have all these other interests. I just have to get the calendars done — I’ve been working on them since we got home and it’s time.

  26. Leigh on HHI says:

    To all you Downton viewers (Susan —- you included, of course).
    I must have missed it a episode or back — what does Thomas have on Mrs. Baxter? I know he recommended her when O’Brien left.

  27. suzy says:

    Loved the song sung by Annette Hanshaw..then listened to other songs by her. What a treat, thank you.

  28. Allegra Bridges says:

    Hello Everyone! We have a “Book Club” here in Bandon, OR–but really, we just watch Downton Abbey and drink and eat. We have the best book club in town! Our favorite from last nite was when Rosamond asked Edith why she was “preoccupe” (sp?). That just killed us! We all go around saying that now. What fun! Allegra

    • sbranch says:

      Downton is the perfect thing for a group. Loving it so much. It’s too bad it has to stop until next winter, but it definitely gives us something to look forward to!

    • KarenV says:


      Your comment made me laugh, “preoccupe”, is so funny, but I didn’t think about it until you mentioned it. I love your idea for a Downton Abbey “club”, as you can see from all the discussion on Susan’s blog, it’s more fun when you can talk all about it with friends!

  29. A new book!! I am so excited.
    I just showed off, A Fine Romance, to some friends on Saturday. They loved it! The first comment was “it is hand written!!”
    xx oo
    Thank you for brightening my day!!

  30. Marsha MacLean says:

    Dear Susan,
    I was one of many of the girlfriends who taped last night’s Downton episode in order to watch it tonight. Boy, Mr.Bates certainly seems to know about Mr. Green, doesn’t he? Yikes! I was certainly tempted to purchase next week’s episode after I watched that episode tonight! I was so glad, too, about poor Edith and her choice. What fun, to be so immersed in the time period and the lives of all of Downtonn’s inhabitants! By the way, I loved Mary getting involved with the pigs!
    Thanks for the nice update, Susan. We all appreciate your wonderful blog posts!!

    • sondra fox says:

      Mary’s mud flinging was a riot, wasn’t it? I can just see her doing that. Real lady that she is, must cut loose once in awhile. I love her, even though she is a snob. A strong lady for the times she lived in. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  31. Carrie says:

    Hi Susan, a bit of a D.A. re-wind…

    Loved the deliriously ill Dowager’s comment, take this nurse and get another, this one talks too much, like a drunken vicar. Classic. No one but no one can serve it up as well as Maggie. And her facial expressions…

    Me thinks Gillingham’s valet put the noose around his own neck when he admitted to going downstairs for some “…peace and quiet” during the opera singer’s performance. Did you catch all the looks at the table? Obviously Bates but Baxter, Mr. Carson shot a quick glance, even Alfred … and Mrs. Hughes is beyond livid – can’t help but wonder if she’ll play into Mr. Bates schematics…and Mary too, after all, Anna helped drag poor ole’ Mr. Pamuk down the halls of Downton and told Anna she wanted to help her. There might be a whole lot of characters from the Downton Abbey cast that will be up for the part of “who done him in.”

    So happy to hear the 2015 desk blotter is finished! The utilitarian one I have makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

    *Still hoping for a f/u to AFR. I know someone who would go over and ‘suss out the lay of the land prior to yours truly taking to the sea and then another whirl in God’s country 😉 Maybe Cornwall, Exeter, Devon, Penzanace – a visit to the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan OR, you could return to East Sussex and the beauty of Alfriston, Rye, Hastings, Senlac and Battle Abbey. Maybe a trip to Beachy Head, the Seven Sisters, East Dean or Herstmonceux.

    • sbranch says:

      The more I think about it, the more I think Mrs. Hughes might be the one to do in the valet! They’ve made her character so lovable lately, she would be perfect for us to get all up in arms about, plus it’s almost like Mr. Carson is sweet on her, so he would have to become quite involved to save her. And then he should marry her.

      LOL, no gouging of the eyes!

      We kind of made reservations for next fall on the ship. But we have until May to cancel. Hard to leave the kitties, really want to finish book (s) and so on. Maybe. But we did put the hope button into the hopper. Hard to be only one person.

      • judi says:

        Ouu, didn’t think about Mary in on the demise of the valet…???

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        I’ll “kind of” pick out my wardrobe for our next trip! Love traveling with you & Joe! Rereading AFR, picture this – me giggling out loud, he trying to sleep (both of us with CPAP masks on, our daughters planing to sneak over & take a photo & post on U-Tube), whilst Joe is driving & you’re not talking, pgs 87, 88, 89 – I think – don’t dare go wake him up to verify pages! GF you’ve got a way with words even when you’re not talking! 🙂 xoxo

        • sbranch says:

          We’ll all just “kind of” get ready, but be fully prepared to be happy to stay home!

          • Carrie says:

            You’ve got the Anglo bug and I’m counting on it biting heavily between now and the last day for cancelling. England in the Fall is simply glorious and not to be missed.

            But hey, no pressure here. Either way, I’m really ok, very relaxed and actually, don’t have much of an opinion about it at all ; )

            However, I did hear there was a Royal Decree f/QEII that all roundabouts be removed and pear cider plumbed into the kitchen and bath tub spickets as a thank you for the boost A.F.R. and S.B. has given her HRM, her country, her people and their economy!

          • sbranch says:

            Pear cider plumbed into kitchens! Brilliant!

      • Carrie says:

        Beyond thrilled to hear reservations made! No one captures my beloved England the way you do but I now you’ve mentioned going North, where there are kilts and bagpipes aplenty.

        Never have I known anyone who works so bloody hard to maximize each and every day the way you do, good heavens, how you shut down that gray matter down when, as you described it, there are so many things in the “hopper” I’ll never know. Lucky, lucky us. Please take extra care of that wonderfully creative right hemisphere:) Lots of bubble baths…

        Maybe a visit to Swindon, in-person w/AFR in hand…just sayin’:)

        Thank you so much, Carrie.

      • Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

        Maybe the valet will attack some other poor unsuspecting lady (Lady G.’s new maid?), and will be caught in the act and bashed over the head with a frying pan by, oh I don’t know, the mild-mannered Mr. Mosley or Mr. Carson? As for “poor Enid,” we must remember that all the Grantham girls have had a rough go. I mean, Sybil died in child birth, Mary’s husband died in a crash! Julian keeps us guessing and on edge every time someone gets sick. LOL I can’t get mad at him, though. After all, without him there would be no Downton, and it’s such a wonderful place to take our imaginations.

  32. Jan from Northern CA says:

    Hello Susan,
    Well, I’ve only managed to watch a couple episodes of DA….but am hooked. I’m going to have to buy the series! I just keep missing it!
    Well, I’m so excited to hear that the blotter is coming back. I have this boring one this year and really miss my SB blotter. Thank you soooo much for bring it back larger than before!! I use it for everything, notes, reminders. It’s the story of my life! I have a stack of them to the side of my desk. When I can’t remember a date or the year something happened….I only have to pull them out and there are all the details. Kinda scarey too. To sit and look over what your life has been on desk blotters……interesting…….is there a book in this? lol.
    Jan from Northern CA

  33. willemien says:

    Hi Susan,
    What a beautiful singer is Annette Hanshaw, I had never heard of her, now thinking of buying a cd… We’re watching Downton too here in the Netherlands! I’m looking forward to a new book from you!Are you really writing a new one?? Still love A Fine Romance, and recently I got a ( used) copy of Christmas from heart of the home. I’m paking some of my things we’ll have to move before the end of March, our house is torn down due to dike reinforcement. I’m a bit sad cause I liked our little old white house.. but we’re gonna build a new one!
    I’m curious about the giveaway! Lots of love from Holland, we’re having an early spring it seems: its quite warm and the birds are beginning to sing and the sneeuwklokjes (snowdrops) are in bloom.
    Good luck with your work! Love Willemien

    • sbranch says:

      Holland has snowdrops in bloom — how lovely. We still have too many inches of snow to know, but I’ve seen them come right through it so perhaps they’re out there. Yes, I’m going to start a new book next week, as soon as I get the calendars turned in, and most of all, as soon as I get this nightmare of a studio cleaned up! 🙂

    • sondra fox says:

      Williemien, I have lovely memories of Holland. One is going to the flower distribution center & viewing all the flowers that were for sale. We sat in bleachers & watched florists & others bid on flowers. What a lovely place to live in. People riding bikes everywhere, even in the rain. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  34. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    Sad news this morning, “America’s Sweetheart” Shirley Temple passed away last night. She was an adorable little girl and a smart, gracious woman.

  35. Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

    Good morning, Sue ~
    With the sad news of Shirley Temple Black’s death this morning I’m reminded how much my dear Mother-in-law enjoyed her movies. My MIL was bed-ridden for the last 10 or so years of her life due to MS. She adored Shirley Temple and her movies were such a source of joy in my in-law’s home. What an amazing story her life is! I know you are especially fond of that time …. when Shirley Temple was a child star…would love you to include her in a blog post (just in case you’re running out of ideas…lol).
    While I’m talking about ideas….Have you considered doing a Spring book? My favorite of all your books is Autumn and you have done such lovely work on Christmas and the Summer book is amazing….I think Spring would be the next best thing! Just think of all the lambies, bunnies, ducks, birds, Beatrix Potter, gardening ideas, blue skies, quilts waving in the breeze….only YOU could do it right, Sue!
    That’s enough. Just add this to that pot that’s simmering on the back burner.
    Love ya!

  36. Beverly Brewer says:

    Re: the Bates “evil eye” look. I think he would like to take care of the scoundrel himself rather than have someone else do him in. Mrs. Hughes (bless her gumption) loathes the man, too, of course. Maybe it will be like an “Orient Express” murder where several people want to do the deed.

  37. Kathleen from Philly says:

    Hi Susan,
    Has anyone else noticed the proliferation of female DA characters whose names begin with “E” and have sad storylines? There’s “poor Edith”, Ethel Parks who also became pregnant and sank to prostitution and don’t forget Edna, that little scheming maid who seduced Tom recently. I checked the PBS site and two episodes remain and the last one is 2 hours. I think the story is brilliantly written with twists and turns for every character. I watch on Sundays and then get together on Mondays with my neighbor and her granddaughter for a “girls knit night” where we can re-watch, pause and dissect the story. Just adore it! DA is the bright light in our dismal, snowy winter. Ugh! More snow in the forecast!

  38. Jan says:

    Excited to hear about the new 2015 blotter and the planning of a new book! Hope it’s Pancakes, but whatever it is I know it will be great. Have to tell you – we had our tea party with my daughter and granddaughters (age 3 and 15 months) My three year old granddaughter helped me cut out the bread for the sandwiches. What fun! We had the cucumber and egg salad. I also made the lavender orange polenta cake. It was wonderful! Oh, and chicken noodle soup too. They looked sooo cute in their tea party hats that we decorated with flowers and butterflies. Thanks so much for your input! We had a great time.
    My granddaughter wanted to know if we could have another tea party the next day! She had to have tea with me whenever I had it.

  39. Marianne says:

    Edith’s fiance – who left her at the altar – wanted to marry her and really cared about her, but was bombarded by disapproval by Edith’s family (because of the age difference) even though they tried to be ok with the marriage. Edith cared about him, too. At this point, if he came back into her life and wanted to help Edith I wonder if Edith’s family’s reaction would be different.

  40. Heidi says:

    So excited about the 2015 blotter calendar. I love to put them on my desk at work. Downton continues to excite me. I thought when Matthew died, that was it, and they wouldn’t be able to make it last. I was so wrong, and I’m so glad. I’m having fun reading everyone’s comments on the show.

  41. I swore that after they killed off Matthew I would NEVER watch Downton again….you know how that goes! It was worth watching for the look on Bates face at the end….OMG it was perfect!!!! I just don’t want him to go to jail, I can’t go through that stress again!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Come be with us, I think we help each other over the rough parts! 🙂 Laughing is always a good thing!

      • That cracks me up, I never left…..just love reading all the comments but for some reason I get too emotionally invested in Downton and when something very stressful happens I can’t watch. (Kinda like when I was hooked on The Edge of Night when I was in elementary school in the 60’s)!!!!

    • peggy says:

      i know I got the chills when they showed his face!!! I know that he knows it’s him!!!!

  42. pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

    Good morning Susan, hello girlfriends. well I just woke early this morning to some sad news, Shirley Temple has passed away. there goes a lot of my childhood, first Annette and now Shirley Temple. I can remember so many Saturday afternoons watching her movies like the little princess, curly top, captain January, the little colonel, little miss Broadway, baby take a bow, the littlest rebel, Heidi, Susannah of the Mounties, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, all those wonderful movies to watch and love. there will be a condolence book set up on her website for all to sign, go to: shirleytemple.com . she was a big part of my childhood, and I have some of her movies on DVD, I saw a mom collecting them for her little girl and thought I had better get some for me, glad I did. we had a fun afternoon digging through the bargain barrel of DVDs at Wal-Mart that day, I think we found most of the movies she made, I got the little colonel, the littlest rebel, the little princess, Heidi, the Bluebird, Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm, captain January and curly top. I need to complete that collection and find a nice display case for Shirley Temple Doll my mom gave me from when she was a little girl. maybe this afternoon I will watch a movie or 2 and remember a kinder, gentler time when I was little and Shirley Temple was on the Saturday afternoon movies. “animal crackers in my soup; lions and tigers loop the loop; gosh oh me but I have fun; swallowing animals one by one. when they’re inside me where its dark, I walk around like Noah’s ark; I stuff my tummy like a goop, with animal crackers in my soup.” I remember that song, I always had animal crackers in my soup, well in my tomato soup. 🙂 well off to go feed the flock and do some housework and then watch my Shirley Temple movies and stuff myself like a goop with popcorn. “on the good ship, Lollipop…..” have a great day everyone. hugs… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      There’s an informal memorial going on at my Facebook page . . . lots of lovely memories like yours Pat.

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        I saw them, I will always remember her for that smile, her sparkle and the warmth she gave to everyone. now for lunch , tomato soup and some animal crackers in my soup. then some movies to watch and stuff myself like a goop on popcorn. its not fair, first Annette and my floppy mouse ears, now Shirley Temple, my childhood idols … its so sad.

        • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

          hmm just noticed I didn’t quite get the website for Shirley Temple right, its: shirleytemple.com

  43. Lacy Joy says:

    Bless poor Edith’s heart. All I can say is thank goodness she changed her mind! I’m also very worried because, if you remember, her gentleman friend had her sign something for him before he left the country…and now he’s nowhere to be found! What did she sign! Why didn’t she read it first!

    And oh my goodness, that Mr. Bates. I saw a little glint in his eye at the end of this week’s episode. What’s to come of it!?

    Oh, the drama.
    Oh, the intrigue.
    Only Downton!

  44. Sweet Sue says:

    Hey Girlfriends! Any of you interested in visiting Martha’s Vineyard? I have been doing research on the internet and found 4 great Bed & Breakfast Inns.
    Here they are if you are interested: Narragansett House (888) 693-3627; Peguot Hotel (800) 947-8704;Isabelle’s Beach House (508) 693-3955;The 1720 House (508) 693-6407. Susan says fall is the best time to go so my husband & I are seriously considering a road trip from California to Massachusetts. Maybe we will see some of you there! 🙂

    • peggy says:

      So wierd that you posted this! We are moving to Massachusetts in May and my husband and I want to get away for a weekend, have never done it in 13 years!! busy having babies… but my first thought was Martha’s vineyard because of all the wonderful things I have learned about it through Susan. Anyhow, we go to the cape in the summer with the whole family and I would love to get away just the two of us! thanks for the info!

      • Sweet Sue says:

        The best to you and your husband as you move to Massachuetts in May! Yes, my husband and I agree that a vacation at Martha’s Vineyard would be so fun! We live in California and have never been to the East Coast or Mid-West for that matter so are thinking of taking a road trip across the United States with Martha’s Vineyard as our destination. Probably will rent a car and drive one way and then fly back. Not sure yet…still in the planning stages…have decided to go in the fall…..yet not sure what route to take…..we want to see New Mexico, have friends in Texas & Kansas…..so we will see. So hope the two of you can plan a get away to Martha’s Vineyard. Let me know which B &B you decide to stay at. We have spoken to Innkeepers and are trying to decide which one to stay at. The best to you on your move, your summer with your family and special get away with your hubby to MV. Blessings !!!!

        • Peggy,
          My family and I have been to Martha’s Vineyard twice over the years and if The Charlotte Inn is still there it is an expensive, but well worth the money, beautiful Inn to stay at. We went there in the fall and to a different Inn with the kids (can’t remember the name), in the summer. I don’t think the Charlotte Inn allows children under a certain age but I could be wrong, it’s been awhile. The boat ride from Woods hole to the Island is beautiful at night….the ambience of the island is also so wonderful but does get crowded in the summer as Susan has said. It is one of my favorite all time destinations……it has been a dream of mine to have a summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, but you have to have money for that!!! Have fun in your travels.

  45. Audrianne says:

    Read the previous post – snowdrops in bloom in Holland (the Netherlands) while this Holland MI has a record 123 inches of snow. Our ave. is 69.9.

    Thank you Laura for your detective work! That letter was shown too quickly as well. I guess Rosamond’s warning should have been a foreboding of this but I thought it would have something to do with the Nazi uprising following WWI.

  46. peggy says:

    so funny ! I had to freeze frame my tv to that letter in Downtown Abby too! I am so glad she is keeping the baby, just can’t wait to see what has happened to her man …. and what his reaction will be about the baby! I actually laughed a few times this past sunday’s episode! the watering the pigs and when she was making eggs… I love downtown Abby. Oh and when the father had to go away to America, it made me think of your trip across the Atlantic, I am sure his was not as comfortable.
    sad news today about Shirley Temple isn’t it.. I think I will go watch one of her films today on youtube..
    have a great week!

  47. Janet in Rochester says:

    Rest in peace, Shirley Temple! Thank you for brightening the dreary dark Depression with your songs, dances, curls and smile. Thank you for the fun and dreams you gave to children [and I suspect a fair number of adults] everywhere.

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      she gave a lot of warmth and love to everyone. goodbye little curly top, thanks for all the lovely memories.

  48. I’m SO looking forward to your blotter calendar…I’ve missed it terribly…resorted to cutting out the little note section on the side to have on my desk. I have a new job and a little Susan Branch always cheers up my day. 🙂 xoxo Jacqui

    • sbranch says:

      Hope the new job is going well Jacqui .. yes, next July or something like that, we’ll have the blotters in to the studio.

  49. Sandi..Corona, Calif says:

    The season 4 DVD is at Target. I had to go back several times to read the letter and then decided not to start at the top but go to the bottom..that’s when I saw first trimester. Well, I know the ending but won’t give it away! Love the fashions this season.Mary is Mary, sooo high and mighty..love Rose,such spunk!
    Can’t wait to see the new blotter…love your letters, Susan

    • sondra fox says:

      I was one of those kids who grew up with Shirley Temple. My mom gave me at Toni Home Permanent so that I’d have curly hair, just like Shirley’s. All the girls on our block had Shirley paper dolls. Rainy days we’d all go to someone’s house with our paper dolls, sit on the porch, & play with our paper dolls. I wouldn’t go to school after the permanent, that turned out way too curly. Shirley’s movies taught us a lot of what we needed in the way of “character,” & doing the right things. RIP dear Shirley. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

      • sbranch says:

        Notice my hair in the photo at the top on the right of the blog? . . . 🙂 Don’t I look exactly like Shirley?

      • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

        Sandy, I still remember the smell of that miserable perm solution, and those nasty little pink rods that our hair was wound tightly around! And sadly, our hair never ever resembled Shirley’s curls.

  50. Julie C says:

    Hi Susan, Losing Shirley Temple today, brought back memories of my Mom.
    We LOVED Shirley Temple! I knew almost every line, in every movie, by heart. We won’t see the likes of her again, sadly. Glad Edith is keeping the baby. It will make the story so much more interesting. Kisses to the Kitties!

  51. Frances Fowler says:

    I paused it on the letter because I didn’t catch the brief shot of the doctor’s gold plaque on the previous episode. I wondered what kind of tests they had back then to determine pregnancy. I will bemoan and wail when Downton comes to an end!

  52. Jan from Northern CA says:

    Hello again Susan and FOSB,
    My favorite Shirley Temple movie was “The Little Princess”. Those movies were so wonderful! I was sorry to hear she had passed. We finally got some rain out here in Northern CA! We need lots more! I love this winter weather, finally! I’ve just had my last pot of tea with your”Cinnamon Apple Crisp” blend. I was so sad to see that the blend is “sold out”…:( I’m hooked! Is there any coming soon. Stay warm out there with all the snow and ice.
    Jan from Northern CA

    • sbranch says:

      Little Princess was heaven. When she found her father! YES! We can get more Cinnamon Apple Crisp … I was just saving it for next fall … and we have some new springtime teas coming soon.

      • deborah.t.norling says:

        My fav Shirley Temple film….The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer…Shirley Temple…Cary Grant…soo perfectly perfect..and Myrna Loy ! I think I mentioned this once on a prior posting..but in the late 60’s my Dad did some plumbing at Shirley Temple’s home during a remodel…she brought Cokes and cookies out to the men one hot afternoon..and my Dad said she was just as nice in person as she appeared on screen .

  53. Diane Leonard says:

    About “poor Edith.” Someone said they don’t know why Mary is so mean to her. Well, Edith wasn’t always as nice as she seems now. She is the one who let the cat out of the bag about Mary’s unfortunate adventure with the young man who died in one of the first episodes. Edith was very caustic in those days. Thank you, Susan, for brightening up a winter that seems to be relentlessly tough all around the country! Enjoy your blogs so much.

  54. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Susan, I am so wrapped up in Downton Abby! Poor Edith is right. Why can’t she have love and happiness? But this last week’s episode where Mr. Garrison’s valet shows up at the dinner table…….Bates is on it! He is no fool and those few clues he got have his wheels turning. And, God love Ms. Hughes! We are sliding into the last episode of the season and there is so much to wrap up and figure out. Plus , if there will be another season, it is another YEAR until it shows. Whatever happens, Julian Fellows, Pleeze, pleeze, pleeze don’t tell us there will be no more seasons!

    On a different note, the pressure is on you to keep our minds occupied with other exciting happenings to look forward to. And did I catch that there might be another book in the future??

  55. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Thank you for your memorial of Shirley Temple. The short video made me smile :). What a treat for you to meet her so very long ago!!! I also clicked on the short video of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award she received, so, so nice to see her recognized in such a wonderful way. My older sister had a Shirley Temple doll, which was adorable! She still has it, and cherishes it!!! And, I remember we had a small blue glass pitcher with Shirley Temple’s face on the front, printed in white. My father has it, though it no longer is used in the kitchen. Shirley Temple is now a star up in heaven!!!! May she rest in eternal peace!!!!

  56. Donna Babbitt, Brea, Ca. says:

    A bit late but have been pondering. Some think we write our own scripts for our lives………………………if this is so then Edith needs an editor big time!!! I fear she will marry some creep for the sake of propriety and then her fiance will waltz in only to be devastated. Edith excels at devastation. Edies boyfriend is detained on suspicion of being a spy……………..they are suspicious of his app. for German citizenship. World War 2 is looming on the horizon…………………………..plots within plots and Julian Fellowes loves to torment us.
    Remember Edie signed a paper without reading it, her fiance just kind of did a paper shuffle and she signed without even glancing at it………………………wait for it, this will be coming back to thicken the plot and make us reach for a glass of wine to calm our nerves. How many alcoholics will be generated by Downton Abbey??? Just think Shirley Temple thoughts and the fun of Susans new book…………………………….”Animal Crackers in my Soup etc.?”

  57. Patricia Coomes says:

    Thank you Susan for the tribute to Shirley Temple. My mother grew up in the 30’s and she is the one to introduce me to Shirley’s movies. Then she introduced them to my niece who is 26. My 24 year old son knocked on the bathroom door that morning at 6:00 am as I was getting ready for work to tell me Shirley had died, I didn’t realize he even knew who she was. So he must have watched the videos with my niece when he spent summers at grandma and grandpas. She touched so many people and generations! My paternal grandmother gave me the blue creamer a couple months before she died. She wasn’t ill, maybe just wanted to make sure I got it.

  58. kathleen says:

    When I was a teenager in the ’60s, every summer I would spend some extended time at my aunt’s home in Texas. She was a Texan born and bred, but had attended graduate school in NYC. For most of her life, she subscribed to “The New Yorker” magazine. I read them, even the tiny little print, of play and movie lists. One summer I discovered that there was a movie theatre in NYC that showed Shirley Temple movies on the big screen all day Saturday beginning at 10am, last show was at 4pm, and on Sunday afternoons. I wanted so badly to go and see all those shows I had watched on tv as a little girl. I continued to look for the listings into my 20s when I could no longer find them. Sad face 🙁 Think of Shirley, the sweetness of childhood with all that talent…and think of what we see now on certain shows where little girls are dressed like strippers and mothers are screaming and acting so ugly…. Sisters, we gotta stop buying the ugly. We vote with what we buy and watch, according to the statistic guys. I’m for tea and Shirley Temple!

  59. Janie Phillips says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Joe, dear Sue! I hope the weather is cooperating with you today and you’re enjoying yourselves. It was fun to see the banners on your blog. I’m working away on them, paper flying. 🙂

    I can’t join in on the Downton discussion, because I’ve already watched it all (NO willpower) and I might give something away, but it’s fun to see what people are thinking. Julian could get some good ideas here.

    Have a wonderful day and best wishes for the upcoming book signing!


  60. sylvia Faye says:

    Loved this post. Shirley Temple was the same age as my sister and didn’t we all adore this little girl with the happy face and dancing talent. That we would have someone today for our young ones like her to enjoy….such simple times and such innocence in children.
    Happy St. Valentine’s Day to all the girlfriends and thought you would love to read a blurb about the real St. Valentine from Tea at Trianon. Enjoy!
    Saint Valentine was an actual martyr. Here is an interesting summary:

    Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes. His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, the Roman Missal of Thomasius, in the calendar of F. Fronto and that of Allatius, in Bede, Usuard, Ado, Notker and all other martyrologies on this day. To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day. (Read more.)

  61. Sandra Mailey says:

    Well, the book signing is done – or at least it should be, it’s almost 5:00. I hope the roads are passable, and you are on your way back to the ferry with a bag full of frozen cream puffs. Have a safe trip home. xoxo

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