Winter, Animal Kingdom & Downton

More winter, more animal kingdom, Downton and . . .  MUSICAspring!Not really, just kidding.


Conflicting reports on whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not, abound. So we better enjoy this winter of 2015 while we’ve got it, because we don’t know how long it will last. But we definitely have it now, and boy do we.  Boston got 40 inches of snow in the last seven days.  It’s not as bad here, but more than we remember having before.



So we stay hunkered down and enjoy the show . . . because around here it’s mostly animal kingdom. (In fact while I’m writing this, I just saw the turkeys go past the window on their way to the feeders!)


Yesterday there were three squirrels chasing each other around the feeders at the same time, up and down the wisteria trunks, over the top of the arbor, vying for space at the feeders, so cute. I could only get two in my lens at once . . .

squirrel play

Wet and snow spattered . . .

Jack watches

Jack’s right there, enjoying the show . . . I put my head right next to his and we watch together . . .

squirrel at feeders

It goes on all day . . .

squirrels on ice

Squirrels making themselves at home . . . 

did you see that?

Do you see that?  Are you just going to let them do that?

snow birds

And then, look at the birds waiting their turn on the branches in the background . . .


Love it when I catch them in mid air . . .



There are three feeders and a suet cage outside the kitchen windows  . . . the wall between the windows kind of gets in the way of photos . . . it’s like a giant fish tank for us while we cook or do dishes.  Highly entertaining.

path through the snow

Our house “sounds like an ant farm,” says Blog Daddy, from my description of the paths Joe has dug coming from every door, to the street, to the feeders, the trash area, the barn, and the wood pile . . .

Joe at the wood pile

Joe loves it out there . . . here he’s pulled back the plastic to fill his apple basket with dry firewood. . .

Helping Joe bring in wood

Of course Jack misses nothing . . .

Playtime for Jack

He has a well-rounded day . . .

He loves the fire

He LOVES the fire and will sit and stare at it for hours.  Like mother, like son. 


I sneak up on him . . .


working on new calendars

. . . and while all this nothing is going on here in Smallville, paint waterI’m working on the Calendars for 2016, asking myself, as usual, on every month, “what would the Girlfriends like to see?” I’m on September of the wall-calendar now . . .

I also have the mini calendar to do, the big blotter, the purse calendar and the little magnet.  I paint and write most of the day.


my paintbrush, doing what comes naturally

wearing them out

I’m wearing out pencils with all the drawing I’m doing.  When they get low, they become “kitchen pencils” ~ they go into the jar in the kitchen ~ as opposed to drawing pencils.



You know how much Jack loves to retrieve pony-tail bands I shoot for him?


He deserves to live forever, one way or another, preferably both. This is me immortalizing Jack.

Jack on the stairs

Because this guy is an original.

He wants it so bad

He could play like this all day everyday.  But I have to get those calendars done!


Girl has found a new place to sleep.  On the red checked pillows I got at Ikea the last time we were off-island.  But as soon as I come with the camera, she leaves . . . so we are lucky to get this pose from Queen Victoria Girl Kitty.


And even though it is still like this outside (10 degrees this morning) . . .

hibiscus grows in winter

Upstairs the hibiscus is in full bloom in an east window of the “blue room” — which could also be called “the junk room” . . .


The flowers just keep coming. We don’t do anything but water, and I think this plant is happier here than it was on the porch during the summer.

life is good

And we have a fire everyday . . .  for the sound of crackling and hissing, because it’s warm . . . and to give Jack and me something to zone out on.

Downton Fireplace in the LibraryIf I couldn’t have my own fireplace, this would be my second drinkchoice ~ this one in the Library at Downton Abbey . . . It’s hard to have a favorite room at the Abbey (we’re now such good friends I feel I can call it “the Abbey”), but this and the dining room are my favorite. I think it’s because of the elegant carvings over the black fireplace, but there are also gorgeous red sofas in here, it’s dark and romantic and perfect for “cocktails.”

Mary and Tom and the kidsThis is why I like Lady Mary and Tom together. I know I won’t get my way, because Charles Blake is very charming and he and Mary do have chemistry ~ and maybe there is something wrong with marrying your sister’s widower who used to be the chauffeur.  But times are a’changing, as we are only too well aware, and how about for the children?  I think they would all be perfect together.  

Did you watch?  Goodbye Miss Bunting!  Hooray!  I thought maybe she wouldn’t go and screamed OH NO when Tom jumped up to go say goodbye; I hated it when they kissed but then, deep breath of relief, he let her go.  I loved it when Mary said, “Are you happy now?” at dinner. Bye-bye, Miss Bunting, you give Bunting a bad name.

Union Jack bunting

I don’t see why Julian Fellowes didn’t give Tom a perfectly lovely normal feminist to fall for, there had to be one in England at that time ~ they couldn’t all be dinner ruiners.  “Feminist-socialist” does not automatically equal “no manners.”

watercolory flowers

I haven’t mentioned it, but didn’t you love it when Violet was remembering where she met her Russian Prince, the Ball at the “Winter Palace,” and what she wore . . .  “powder-blue velvet with silver lace?”  Made tears in my eyes.  Would have loved to see Violet dancing in that.  Would love to see her being courted by a Prince too. What he might lack in hair laundering I’m sure he would make up for in manners.

Downton Abbey Highclere Castle Series

I’m sure she was beautiful.

Downton Abbey Clothes

She still is, just like her granddaughter.   If nothing else, I would watch for these dresses and what they put in their hair, their jackets and hats.  I love this show!


Poor Edith.  Someone is going to see her making that phone call in Carson’s office.  Probably Mister dark-circles-under-his-eyes.  Have you noticed that no matter how sick Barrow makes himself, he stays mean and sneaky? No more, but no less than before.  He’s on an even keel when it comes to scheming. You’d think he wouldn’t have the energy for it.  One other thing.  Cora suddenly looks, and acts, like an all-American Girl. Golly!  Poor Robert is confused to the point of needing a time out.  OK, that’s enough, now you tell me, what did you think?


Bye from cold, icy, wintry, sunny, bright-white Martha’s Vineyard, from Joe, Girl, Jack and me . . . and Smallville, USA. I’m off to get my warm pair of shoes from in front of the furnace!  Be sure to try the Punxsutawney Pudding and Spareribs on the February page of the Calendar, I promise you deliciousness! 


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594 Responses to Winter, Animal Kingdom & Downton

  1. Lynn says:

    On Downton – was just waiting for your comments! While Tom should be true to his ideas, Miss Bunting was downright rude! He is not rude – Sybil’s love polished his rough edges and he is a mix of both worlds now. As he said, nothing is black and white. She was just a bad-mannered person – glad to see her go!
    Cora should be ashamed of herself. She kind of knew what the art dealer was up to. But she felt neglected by Robert, just as he felt neglected by her during the war years. He felt useless. Honestly, people – just TALK to each other. The fact that Robert punched Mr Bricker was a good sign. He still feels passion for Cora. He is just hurt right now.
    On the whole, not my favorite episode – too many china plates in the air, ready to come crashing down. And don’t get me started on ROSE and EDITH! Edith should just tell her parents and be done with it!
    Whew! I need some tea!

    • sbranch says:

      Nothing is black and white, a sure sign of maturity. Again, perfect for Lady Mary. I agree, this was a softer episode.

    • Deb W says:

      Rose? She just found a great looking, nice man who is in banking! (although 1929 is only 5 years away!)

  2. Judy Smithmyer says:

    I live in NC and am so excited because The Biltmore in Asheville NC will be displaying some of the dresses and clothes from Downton this spring. If you haven’t visited there you would love it and you could see some of the clothes up close. I hope to go.

    • Martha N. says:

      Judy, I was going to mention the exhibit too! Can’t wait to see all the clothes close up. A friend saw the same exhibit at Winterthur and loved it! So lucky to be in NC!

  3. Forgot to share hilarious DOWNTOWN ABBY STORY.
    I was in the check out line late at night and there were only two lanes open. My mother has been catching up on DA with my DAd~! He had shoulder surgery and can’t move his arm for five weeks. So he is stuck in a chair and is watching DA! Yay!

    So they have been watching all of mine to catch up!

    So there I am in Wal-Mart and my son said, very loudly, “Mom, Grandma wants to know if you have season five of Downtown Abby!”

  4. Toni says:

    Might Edith’s betrothed return and, with Marigold, make a family of three? (Though as a mother of an adopted child ,I know there would be broken hearts in the wake.)..I think I’ll choose that happy ending. (which has already been made happy with Miss Buntings departure; thank goodness Robert , whom I love, need no longer endure dinner table misery.) And if Julian is listening, Ill ask him to limit the number of beds Mary, even more lovely than gracious, finds herself frolicking in. I do understand, that meaningful activity seems to be in short supply for the Downton ladies and a good looking man …. I know! !! They could take up water colors! I love yours and and plan, when I’m reincarnated , to come back an artists oh similar skills….or if all the artist positions are spoken for, an opera singer who looks like Renee Fleming. OH. BTW. How did you create the snowfall on the closing photo of today’s post? Enchanting. Thank you for the quiet and warm diversion and for sharing your gifts with us once again
    Gratefully. Toni

    • sbranch says:

      When I come back, I would like to be the female equivalent of Garrison Keillor. I would love to do what he does. And paint at night, and knit on the weekends, and go to England in the spring. 🙂

      • Rae Ann R. says:

        I Love Garrison Keillor!!!…I’ve seen his Saturday night show…yes~he wears RED socks and I don’t know if he memorizes his “News from Lake Wobegone” or just talks extemporaneously, but he has NO NOTES and keeps his eyes closed quite a bit while sharing his “news”…why don’t you be the female G.K. NOW!!!…all the F.O.S.B would certainly listen to you!!!…

  5. Cindy K. Beranek from PA says:

    Dear Susan Hi! All the pictures are great! I just love seeing Jack and Girl Kitty! I would love to cat sit and cuddle them! I miss having a cat around. I’m still amazed they leave your furniture alone! The last picture of your house with the snow is one of my favorites! I really enjoyed the tour of your town!!!! Would love to see it this spring when everything is green and flowering!!!!! I am excited to be getting my next order in the mail, I am waiting on a HEART TEA POT and MUG!!!!! can’t wait!!!!! I am enjoying the 2015 CALENDAR this year! Have fun painting 2016’s!!! Enjoy your snow!!!!!!!!!!!! Our’s is mostly melt ed!!! Bye for now!!!!!!!!

  6. Chris aschbacher says:

    Well I don’t know what the groundhog predicted but here north of Chicago it is snowing once again as I type this! I too enjoy the birds at my feeders I have seven feeders and oh I have no idea how many suet feeders ! The flakes are big and beautiful ! Just the serenity I need after a day at work! Love love love your blog thank you for putting happiness in my day

  7. Kirsten Anne Wichert says:

    If only I had that same circus you have performing outside your kitchen window!! I may have to hand wash my dishes for an excuse to spend more time there! No, that won’t do. I love my dish washer! Ohhhhhhh, you missed a spot on this one, kitty.

  8. CarolK says:

    I wish Downton Abbey ran for two hours instead of one. I get all wrapped up in the hour and want more then it ends and I have to wait a whole week for another dose. Is this an obsession or what!?! I like watching Selfridges and you’re right, there is something about the main character that puts one off. Maybe because he comes across way too cocky. I like it for the set decorations, costumes and story line. Oh, I baked that Valentine cookie recipe of yours yesterday and they were so delicious the cookie jar hasn’t stopped clanging. I can tell when a hand is dipped into it because the lid is so noisy. Wanna bet they are all gone before the week is out. Jersey hugs……..

  9. Rhonda D. says:

    Love your home and your property in the winter…so cozy and peaceful. We had another blast (a good one) here in the maritimes yesterday. I too think it is a good idea to enjoy the beauty and blessings of winter while we can. Everything is so quiet. Except for the bluejays who have turned our house into some sort of a woodpecker practice station. Our neighbours have a huge bird feeding area and the jays are coming here to crack open their nuts. They start at dawn and finish at dusk. Part of the winter package I guess. Your bird feeders and our noisy jays are a wonderful reminder that nature is still thriving. I missed Downton Abbey on Sun. night. My daughter called to chat for an hour, the exact same hour that DA was on. I’ll have to catch up.

  10. Jane says:

    Susan, Jack and the hair band drawing is adorable. Take care!!

  11. jane says:

    Another fun post. Thank you for being our friend. OK, so I just turned 65 and had totally forgotten about the word, “golly.” And, now I’m going to start saying it again. Let’s start a new fad, ok? It made me gasp and laugh out loud. You are so wonderful and I’m always sad when I get to the end of the post and know I have to be patient a few days until it’s time for another. I love Smallville, by golly! Jane

    • sbranch says:

      I have to give the credit to Cora . . . that was her word for when Robert caught her in her bedroom with another man! Love you being here Jane.

  12. Wanda Robinson says:

    Before you get to October pleeeeze don’t make it orange. That’s my birthday month and every year EVERY calendar is ORANGE!!! I love orange but October is full of purples, golds and those pinky maple leaf colors. Also (can you tell I’m bossy)…please remember that December is Christmas and I think Santa is welcome in every house. Thanks for all the fun and beauty you bring into our lives and for being a far-away-girlfriend.

    • Cheyenne Renard says:

      Thank you Wanda my Birthday is Oct 6th and i love PINK not Orange for Oct thank you again . Susan does the best calenders which ever way it goes. Im bossy too but Oct is for fall things . Sept could be orange . Have a great week Love Cheyenne from Henderson Nv

      • sbranch says:

        I’m listening, but what about pumpkins?

        • judi says:

          Pumpkins can be pink …. if you want them that way:)

          • sbranch says:

            I’m what they call a realist. Pink pumpkins? Let me think . . .

          • Mary in Phoenix says:

            I see a LOT of PINK in October because that is when the Race for the Cure comes to Arizona (and 10 other states) … Celebrating Life, Love and Hope ♥♥♥ … Just a thought 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            I’m listening . . . I always think of “decorating” everyone’s kitchen when I’m doing a calendar. In October I put out all my black checked and pumpkin dishtowels, fill bowls with apples, get out my owls and birds . . . so I think, what will look good in the kitchen with all the other things? It leads me to my Autumn book, where it’s all brown, purple, burnt sienna (not bright orange unless it’s a pumpkin), gold, green, crimson, and like that. But I’m listening!

          • Carilyn Wolski says:

            Oooooooh Judi, I agree regarding the pink pumpkins!!!! I would love it on the calendar! Maybe just one Susan? My kitchen is painted a sage green, my Kitchen Aid mixer is light pink (like the Breast Cancer Pink), my curtains I sewed are shades of sage, eggplant, white, cranberry, and lots of my pink depression glass grace the room. Every October, the traditional colors of the season seem to blend in just swell.! (My mother passed of that dreadful cancer, so I always mix the two color schemes every October to support the Cure in memory of her.) A little bit of this & that is always a wonderful thing!!!!!

          • Julia says:

            I’m an Oct. girl, too, and I loved the Oct.
            The red checked border sure did go with
            my kitchen. Thanks. Still looking for this
            years calendar. Wasn’t able to find one.

          • sbranch says:

            Right now, as far as I can see, the only two places you might still get it is Amazon UK, or Amazon Canada — both say “in stock” — but that’s all I know.

        • debbie says:

          Another October birthday here and I LOVE pumpkins!! Having the calendar match the holiday decorations is a must 🙂 xoxo

        • I’m an October girl too, and while I don’t favour orange as a colour to wear, I couldn’t think of October any other way than orange, rust, yellow, red, and a soupçon of green 🙂
          How about blue pumpkins? They do have blue ones and they are quite magnificent to look at.
          Oh, that and I don’t like pink! Sorry 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            Pink pumpkins are a strange thought, but it’s because over here, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and pink is the color associated with it. I’m working hard to make it good for everyone! It’s going to be insane, but everyone will see themselves on this page!

          • Jennie Lou says:

            One more voice here: October is the month I was engaged and then married and true Autumn colors have to include the glorious oranges of every sort of pumpkin and leaf please. Maybe a pink-dressed lady scarecrow (to scare breast cancer away?) Note about the groundhog: here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a weather rock: if it’s wet, it’s raining, if it’s hot it’s sunny… grins to you all and Susan, thanks especially for giving us all an opportunity to share!

          • sbranch says:

            I finished October yesterday . . . I think I got it all . . . It’s kookie, but it will have to be a nice big surprise for the new calendar!

        • Jacquie says:

          There are mini white pumpkins at the Farmer’s Market in October.

      • maggie b in nevada says:

        Hey, Cheyenne ~ I live in Henderson too! In the heart of original Green Valley.

        • Cheyenne Renard says:

          Hello Maggie b I know exactly where you are.How cool another SB Girlfriend . How long have you lived in GV I love Hillsboro i used to live next door to it and if i stay in HD another year it will be back there. I listed my email would love to hear more Maggie.Please let me know SB said on her FB FOSB site that she has pen pals on it so i will have to check that out . A nice lady named Jane send me an email and it was so fun to get to chat , O Golly would love to do the same with you , Love to you and hope to hear from you Cheyenne from Henderson Nv

  13. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    hello! 1st comment: love love love that you use yellow #2 Ticonderoga pencils. they are such a classic that I can’t resist buying them! I have 2 boxes in my bedroom that I may not get around to using before the erasers get hard, but I just love them! 2nd comment: we got 16 ins of snow on SuperBowl Sunday and expect 4 more tonight. I love the whiteness of it all, especially love the moonglow on the snow, how it sparkles in the dark! My favorite line from The Night Before Christmas is: the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave a luster of mid-day to objects below. so true! 3rd comment: yes!! was “over the moon” when Miss Bunting drove away! good riddance. but what is with Edith? gosh, leave that family alone! OMG every time she shows up at the little cottage to visit Marigold I could slap her. But I guess that’s how it is with the Royals….they get their way at all times. I do feel sorry for her having to give up her baby, but she can’t have it both ways. She really needs to find something to do. don’t think badly of me, I wouldn’t really slap her, but I think you know what I mean. She is scaring Mrs. Drewe!

    • sbranch says:

      You made me laugh with the slapping, so that’s OK — she’s pretend anyway! She should have taken her baby and gone to America and let Shirley MacLaine (Cora’s American mother) handle everything for her.

      • Nancy Petrie says:

        Good Idea!

      • Kate Taylor says:

        Oh I totally agree! My mom and I were dishing aobut the episode and I said I wish Edith would get a backbone, take her trust fund and her child and go to America and just say she was a widow. No one would check and she could start over and find a great husband. Julian has a cruel streak and I don’t think he likes women that much. Making Cora so silly… Wish we had some snow, our birds don’t even bother to come to the feeders, plenty of natural food. spoiled brats!

        • sbranch says:

          That’s exactly how I felt. Because of what he must think of “feminists” to make the only one so rude. I can see how the rest of the girls are a product of their times, but Miss Bunting could have been funny, witty, smart, cute, sexy, kind, thoughtful.

      • Wende Taylor says:

        Amen to that! I totally agree

      • Care Kester says:

        INDEED! My thoughts EXACTLY! Edith needs to still take Marigold and go to America and live her life. Get a life, Edith!!!!!!!!!

  14. Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    Was very happy to see that a new post is here. I check each day and get so excited to see a new one. I’m with everyone else…. I didn’t like Miss Bunting and so glad she is now gone. She just didn’t know when to keep her mouth shut. Barrows is making me angry with all the trouble making that he does. He is looking really bad now though. I’m surprised that none of the household upstairs don’t take notice and deal with him.

    We really enjoy watching the Great British Baking show. It’s so fun to listen to them. Their words are so different at times. They really are good at what they do since they don’t know a lot of the items that they are to bake and especially when they don’t get a lot of the ingredients or at least the timing of baking. Was very happy to see no one got voted off the show last Sunday.

  15. Judy says:

    What about Anna and Mr. Bates? In the previews of the next episode, Baxter will be making a statement about them. What is that all about? (I have been sympathetic toward Baxter. Hopefully, she won’t be changing my feelings about her w/whatever her announcement is.)

    • sbranch says:

      I like her too, but she verges, so I know what you mean. Anna and Mr Bates. They want a baby. And in her closet is some sort of birth control thing that Mary asked her to buy. This does not bode well for the relationship.

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Bates will probably find it 2 minutes before the end of this season. I have a feeling all of the little dramas will end at a peak so we will be on pins and needles until next year… 🙂 (good thing I don’t know how to operate the DVD player or I’d know by now…LOL! 🙂 By-the-way, isn’t this coming Sunday the 6th and last episode? I hate to think so but does anyone know?

        • Susan from Bainbridge Island, Washington state says:

          March 1st is the last ….for this year! and then the grand finale season next year…..

          • Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

            Oh good! We have all of this month to go then. I always get so involved, just like reading a book and I don’t like it to end!

      • Martha says:

        I see that coming too, Susan! Yes indeed.

  16. Tracy says:

    Our black kitty cat Zorro loves pony-tail bands, too! I used to keep them loose on my dressing table, but it got to the point that I could never find any because he would get on the table and steal them. I finally got a glass jar with a lid so he can’t pilfer them. I do let him have a few to walk around with. Love your blog, love your snow, love your kitties, love your life! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      There are hundreds in this house, but I have no idea where they are. I can put my hands on about nine. xoxo Thank you Tracy.

  17. martha says:

    What a treat to see a note from the Chief Girlfriend today! Okay. So, I wanted to slap Miss Bunting until my arms got tired and then ask Mary to hold them up until I was done… Sooo glad she is gone! Cora… ah, loved it when Robert coldcocked the twirp! I was screaming at the TV, “Hit Him! Hit Him!” when he walked into the bedroom and found the two of them together. I was proud Robert took the nasty little man to task… and, even though he is pouting, I think he will be kinder to sweet Cora, don’t you? (Gee. I sound rather violent, don’t I? LOL)

    I have to share, too, that today I used your blog for my college composition two course; they were quite smitten. We discussed audience, purpose, tone, design, and all kinds of English-y kinds of things! You are a rock star even in the classroom! Stay warm and kiss the kitties!

  18. Ellen L. Yoerger says:

    Hi Susan, a friend recommended you to me 2 days ago and I’ve been all over your blog, fb page and website. I love the Vineyard and spent many years there growing up and get there now as often as I can. I live in Quincy, MA. My parents had a big cabin cruiser and we went to the Vineyard every year. We’d drop anchor in Vineyard Haven, then spend few days in Oak Bluffs; then onto Edgartown and in those days you could go out through Katama Bay and over to Menemsha. I noticed on your “Pineapple Ribs” recipe there is no pineapple listed as one of the ingredients. Is that correct? Would love to give them a try. I too love Downton Abbey and after each episode on Sunday, I watch it again every day until the following Sunday. (To be honest, sometimes more than once a day. When you’re retired you can do that.) That way I don’t get the “Downton DTs.” I wish Isobel would stifle herself about Ms. Smug Bunting and I too am glad she’s gone; hopefully for good!!! Doesn’t Branson realize the unique position he’s in? He can effect great changes by staying exactly where he is. And I think Lord Gratham was basically saying that to him when they had their drinks before dinner, against the wishes of Carson. Oh gosh, more snow coming over the next 2 days. Anyway, love your pages and am looking forward to purchasing your cookbooks, etc.

    • sbranch says:

      Hello Vineyard person! Welcome! Yes, it’s just pineapple juice which imparts a delectable flavor to the sauce. LOL “Isobel should stifle” — shades of Archie and Edith! Also, unless something has changed, women still can’t inherit! His daughters can’t inherit Downton, Robert needs an heir.

  19. Mary Lou Cummings says:

    Love your posts, especially your Downtown Abbey remarks! I’m already “not so ready ” for the season to end. Could watch it every night. Had to stop feeding the birds because of the deer, raccoons and mice! Had a mouse build a nest last winter in my covered outdoor grill. What a surprise for me in the Spring when I took the cover off to clean it! I feed the finch all summer long, but alas, had to give up the winter feast. Do you have mice on the Vinyard? Guess that’s where a good kitty always comes in handy.

  20. mary spring says:

    …hi Susan..( and girlfriends )..this is so off the topics, ‘but so happy to hear that Harper Lee’s “Go Set A Watchman” is coming this summer !!..’soooo happy to hear !!…thank you, by the way, for all these wonderfully magical winter photos ..New England really got the snow on these days…and more to come !!..enjoy !…and ‘gotta love this up- rising full moon !!..with love, as always…(sorry that I can’t comment on “abbey”; I’ve fallen so far behind…)

    • sbranch says:

      I heard that today and I instantly got nervous for her!

      • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        Me too! How do you top To Kill A Mockingbird?!

        • sbranch says:

          That’s what scares me . . . but maybe more insight into it . . . and maybe her too. I’ve read that there was lots of editor help on To Kill a Mockingbird, whatever that means, but all the way around, this is a very interesting development!

  21. Pamela Collier says:

    I love seeing all of the animals in your blog. The other day, I took the cutest close-up picture of one of my squirrel friends, smiling 🙂 I don’t know if there is a way to share it with you, but I had just given them some peanuts (before our big Sunday snowfall) and he or she looked up, so happily that I had to capture that little face. I think you would love it! We have about 8 squirrels that tap on the door when they want a treat and they will take things from my hand. Our kitties and dogs don’t love it as much as I do…they stare out the door with their tails swishing and ears sideways.

  22. Cheyenne Renard says:

    I have not been able to get the new calender yet the one for 2015 so until i do , does any one have the rib recipe , Sue said it was in Feb . I would love the recipe. I will def get the calender .Love the ground hog esp the one that bite the mayor funny to watch boy that would have scared me , to have been bitten by him or her. I could see they have big teeth = OUCH in my book . Love this post have a great week. Love the word Golly i use it and it sure sounds lady like compared to words some ppl say now a days. Girlfriends unite Golly Gee Love Cheyenne from Henderson Nv , Hello Jane loved hearing from you. Sue you should have a pen pal section on this blog or the FOSB site so we can connect the ladies who want to like one big chat and if we choose to accept snail mail that would be great or even email , I have nothing to hide so I welcome letters emails etc . My email is [email protected] currently live in Henderson Nv but want to move to Seattle area or Northern Ca or even Portland coast. The heat here gets to be quite hot and this town is very trans people come and go. I want that smallville town where you know your neighbors. Its very warm today but tonite will be cooler. Oh i also love Salt Lake City ,Utah. Well now you know it all . I have three cats that look like Jack all girls Babette is about Jacks age i saved him from a hard life some one dumpted him off. Poor girl well im a sucker for a cute face and the rest is history all 3 are saved cats. Blessings to all XXX

    • sbranch says:

      We do have pen pals on Facebook! You can connect over there dear Cheyenne!

      • Cheyenne Renard says:

        Thank you Sweet Sue i will do just that. Golly it takes me a little but i will get there. My brothers name is Julian and he has always disliked it now i can share with him Julian Fellows and the other man named Julian in the show. Ive always loved that name. My mum being an Auzzie i called Critter had quite a great imagination. My sisters name is Casandra and mine being Cheyenne and my brother Julian. Quite good huh . Her name was Heather and i have always loved that name too. My Sons name is Ashley for Gone with the wind but his middle goes to a grandfather who died way too young, we never met Bryant and Frances for his other Grandfather who also died at the same age as Bryant. Love and Blessings from Henderson Nv and me Cheyenne just in case you forgot hee gee golly XXX

        • sbranch says:

          Your mom was great with names!!!

          • Cheyenne Renard says:

            Thank you Sweet Sue, she was so kind it was like Honey she was really one in a million . She is gone now and I miss her every day every minute of those days. She was really a little critter , so cute and so animated. I know you would have loved her too.She was a ballroom dancer and the clothes she wore were amazing to say the least i will have to post a pic of her in one of her dresses she was such a beauty and i owe it to her. God Bless you for you kindness and your sweet ability to make others feel good. I do that each chance i get since thats one reason we are here on earth to help others and to walk in their shoes. I love to make others feel good no matter what it takes . Thank you again Love you XXX Mucho much oooo gee Golly i do love you . See that rimes love is the answer to any question there is . XXXLove Cheyenne

          • Cheyenne Renard says:

            Today would have been my fathers Birthday . His name was Ernest Julian that where she got my Brothers name as in Julian . FYI just in case love you Cheyenne from Henderson Nv

  23. Mary-Agnes from Long Island says:

    I have two birdfeeders in my yard, right outside my pantry window, and I love watching the squirrels do their acrobatics to get to the feeders. They really earn their meals! I don’t get a great variety of birds where I live, but we have have a cardinal couple every year, and I recently saw a blue jay, in addition to the usual sparrows and some plump, pretty mourning doves. Like Jack, my 3 cats have a great view from the window where they do their “faux hunting.”

    Downton Abbey: I have to confess that for some reason I started laughing when Robert and the lovelorn art expert started rolling around on the floor. I keep waiting for Lord Gillingham (never liked him OR his valet) to rear his ugly head again and try to blackmail Mary into marrying him. I didn’t like the way their meeting in the park ended the previous week, with him jerking his head for Mary to follow him when he stomped off and she doing so meekly. I propose a twist solution to the murder investigation, which would benefit Mary, Anna, and Mr. Bates: Lord Gillingham was ticked off at Mr. Green for not shining his shoes properly and shoved him into traffic in a fit of pique.

    So happy to find other Great British Baking Show fans. I recently discovered the show, and record the previous week’s episode, which I save to watch right after Downton Abbey for my Sunday night British TV doubleheader. I love the way that all the bakers are so supportive of each other, and the judges’ constructive but kindly critiques. Such a nice change from all the backbiting and nastiness of other competitive shows. And how wonderful the bakers’ creations are, so beautiful and scrumptious-looking at the same time!

    • sbranch says:

      ooooo. Blackmail. That’s very dark. But he had such an attitude when she changed her mind. LOL yes, Lord Gillingham is the murderer! We kill two birds with one stone!

  24. David M. Kyle says:

    Susan, my wife and I love your book on England, your artwork, photography… what kind of camera are you using for the photos on your blog?
    Lolli & Pop
    Houston, Texas

  25. Tricia says:

    Your blog is always such a delight. It’s a cold and dreary evening here in Ohio, and I can just imagine your warm and crackling fireplace. I also enjoyed your bird feeder photos, as I love feeding the birds and squirrels in my garden. I caught a PBS show yesterday called The Queen’s Gardens and wondered if you have seen it. It was a fascinating documentary of the flowers and wildlife around Buckingham Palace, and the details and history and even gardening secrets were fascinating.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it is going strong, Jack is perched right in front of it. I also saw that documentary. Very interesting!

  26. Audrianne Hill says:

    Hello from Holland Michigan! Currently snowing and quiet at the bookstore. Two young lads just left downhearted. They came in and asked how old they had to be to buy a Playboy magazine. I had to break their hearts but also told them the magazine isn’t all its cracked to be.

    Just finished watching the last episode online as I fell asleep on Sunday from all of the shoveling I did to stay on top of the snow piles here. I began at 6 in the morning and with a break for attending church, finished at 7, only to start back up on Monday with only a few inches to shovel before coming in to open up the store.

    I too, am glad Miss Bunting is gone. She was just too rude for my taste. While I think Robert is a bit too set in his ways, she didn’t behave properly for company. I think that phone call from Edith is going to lead to trouble. Do you think she might kidnap Marigold and leave town? And Barrow…he is dying to get the Bates’ in trouble. Why does he work it so hard? Oye.

  27. bobbie Calgaro says:

    I wonder who Lady Mary will end up with. Tony is not going down easy and as she said she has her reputation to think of. Soooooo……………. Hmmmmmm. Ms. Bunting was certainly rude to people who had invited her into their home for dinner. You can certainly disagree without being disagreeable. Rose, Isobel, Edith, Anna and Bates………. The plots thicken…..
    I am so excited because I am going to see the Downton clothes. They are coming to Biltmore house in Asheville. My husband is going to take me. I will take notes and drool. If you ever get to North Carolina, you must see America’s castle. It is one of my favorite places to go. Of course the Crawleys and the Vanderbilts would have run in the same circles I’m sure. Thanks for the winter cheer ups. Wish we were getting some of your snow down here. Keep warm and enjoy!

  28. Toni P. says:

    Love the squirrels – the snow – Jack and especially the great music!! Thank you so much for taking your time to share all this goodness!

  29. Terry says:

    Hi Susan!

    Lots of snow here in North Jersey too!
    I have been following a blog I think you would love. It’s
    The reason I think you would love it is because they are sheep farmers. So there are lots of gorgeous pictures of sheep and lambs. Just thought you might like it.


  30. Sharon in Fresno, CA says:

    Hi Susan, I don’t know why but I can’t get into DA this season. Maybe I am over it. I recorded the first three and started watching them but then stopped. Maybe I will watch them when they rerun later. I too love the Miss Fisher Mysteries on Netflix. Her clothes are exquisite. It is filmed in Australia. I bought some beautiful pink tulips last week to brighten up my kitchen. It feels like spring today in Fresno. Love seeing your photos of the cats. Keep warm….

    • sbranch says:

      Somewhere between the second and third season, I had the same reaction and quit watching. What was I thinking? I don’t know, but for some reason I thought it had become predictable.

    • Cathy B says:

      I am addicted to the Miss Fisher series too. I binge watch whenever there are new ones. I love her name Phryne (not sure how to spell it)

  31. Margot ~~~ Virginia Beach says:

    To tell the truth, I am not ready for Spring yet. I have too much to do inside the house. You go for it Jack!!! Darn squirrels!!! Fuzzy tailed rats.
    Ah the hibiscus…they just keep on giving. I have two in my family room, one is a double. Ah…
    Love the walk through fashion history on Downton too! We are hooked. We are following Season 5 faithfully, but had to catch up. We are now on Season 4 during the week day watchings from our local library.
    How on earth did you make it snow in a picture of your HOME?? The magic of computers.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL! Don’t goad him, he’s already way over the top! 🙂

      • Margot ~~~ Virginia Beach says:

        He has more of a purpose than you know. LOL Got to love the kitties.
        Mr. Socks used to watch movies with me, sitting up right and eating popcorn. Move over Arnie. LOL Funny how they can pick things up with their paws. 🙂

  32. Libby Nash says:

    From “fly-over-country” (Oklahoma) I watched all of Downton Abbey, Season 5, the same evening (but later) of the UK broadcast. Then on Christmas night, I watched the finale! I hope all are surprised, happily! Just received the 5th Season in yesterday’s mail. Can’t wait for Season 6!! Love this series!!

  33. Ann says:

    Love the DA recap. It’s very complex; sometimes I watch it again my computer to pick up some of the things I always miss. Yes, GOOD RIDDANCE to Miss Bunting. Boy was I scared when Tom jumped up and rushed to say goodbye to her!

    I think those luscious red velvet sofas in the library are something special. They look like Knole Sofas to me- named after Knole house (home of the Sackvilles, as in Vita Sackville-West, co creator of Sissinghurst) We stayed in one B&B in Kent where they had a real one in “the drawing room”. What do you bet that those are real Knole Sofas, antiques, that belong to Highclere?

    Jack’s moustache just slays me; it reminds me of Hercule Poirot’s! Absolutely adorable, but you don’t need me to tell you that!

  34. sondra fox says:

    Some of you know that the love of my life passed away a year & a half ago. When I see the older women of the Abbey getting together with men of their age, finding romance, I find it enchanting. As for me though, I could never find another man on God’s green earth, as good as my late husband. Ours was a romance beyond compare. I’m satisfied with the love I’ve had in my life. I do enjoy the Abbey’s romances though. I’m with you Susan, I think it would be a match made in heaven if Tom (adore him), & Mary (she’s pretty snooty, eh?) would get together. Let’s see what Julian comes up with. And then, there’s Cora flirting with her new admirer. She needs to turn the guy away, but she continues to flirt. If I were her, I’d be happy & content with her, strong, loving husband. How greedy can some women get? Wake up Cora! And yes, I was so happy to see the teacher get her dues. Away with her, off with her head, call in the guards! (not really, just kidding) If you’re thinking that I’m reading too much into a made up story, you’re absolutely right. I think of the Abbey characters as REAL. And, don’t you just love the clothes? Oh my. Talk about style. I get a double whammy of Abbey each week. It’s on a PBS channel on Sun., then on Mon. night, there’s another channel that carries. it. Sometimes I don’t catch each & every word, so it’s great that I can watch it twice & pick up things I’ve missed the first time around. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      Tom’s down to earth-ed-ness would do Mary some good. They could balance each other. Unless she got on his nerves. You are a lucky woman Sondra, not everyone gets to have a love like yours.

    • Julia says:

      I agree totally with you Sandy. My husband passed away way too
      young 8 and a half years ago and I still feel the same way that you
      do. I had a elderly friend call me and said “there is something to
      be said for quality time not just quantity and I’ve never known
      what it felt like to be adored and you have.” And it’s true, we
      adored each other. But we just have a different life now and I’m
      like you, I’ve been traveling on. Also a huge Downton fan. They
      are real in my book, just look for me at the dinner table, sitting –
      not serving!

      • sondra fox says:

        Julia & Susan, Thanks for you sweet comments. And, yes I’ve been truly blessed to have a true love, my dear heart, in my life. God has been good to me, & continues to watch over me. Yes, Julia, I’ll look for you in the DA parties, or seated at the table. Will you be wearing one of those fantastic hats? What color will it be? (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

        • Julia says:

          Sandy, I am very comfortable in silk and lace.
          I will also be wearing my black onyx but no hat
          unless it is one of those boring women only
          luncheons. Hope you have something to wear.
          I’m also a quilter. Julia

          • sondra fox says:

            Julia, I’m thinking we’ve both been truly blessed. I haven’t quilted for over a year now, not since my husband passed. Just haven’t been peaceful enough to want to sit quietly & sew. I’m feeling much happier now, so maybe it’s time to get back into quilting. I recently joined a Sr. Chorus. The joy it’s giving me to sing my heart out, is tremendous. After our practice is over, I could skip & dance down the street.(Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  35. Barbara says:

    Hello from NJ shore. I loved all the pictures of those squirrels! I am a huge fan of those creatures and never get tired of watching them in my backyard. Your snow photos are also gorgeous. Why does your snow look so good-ours just looks cold. Your kitties are adorable. Personally, I think every home needs a kitty or two. Ours, Miss Kitty, (very original) is a long-haired totally black rescue and she rules over everything, including our dog. About D/A I agree with you and everyone else about Miss Bunting. Good riddance! Her character was too abrasive for my taste. But the actress who plays her must be marvelous to create such emotion about the character. Well done! Happy to see Robert finally showed some fire concerning Cora. Tom can do better, he’s such a sweetheart. I really hope the Anna and Bates story is coming to an end. Who pushed the valet? Who cares? He was a nasty creepy man. Please give those two a happy story for a change. Maybe a little one? I love your work, Susan. My absolute favorite book is the one about your journey to England. I am a complete Anglophile and read your book as if I had a box of delicious chocolates in front of me. Enjoyed every little bit of it!

    • sbranch says:

      So nice to hear Barbara, thank you . . . and yes, let’s see happiness! Mr. Green got what was coming to him.

  36. sondra fox says:

    Oh Susan, forgot to put in my two cents about Edith, in Downton Abbey. She makes me ill. Such a little wimp. Always boo hooing about her plight? She did it to herself. She ought to own up to her predicament, then she could raise her child. I’m sick to death of her. She’s totally afraid of ruining her reputation. You should have thought of that before Edith. Sorry, but I’m not sympathetic with wimps. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      Can you imagine being the actress who plays Edith! She’s probably a perfectly happy, perky girl, who now has to go whine every day!

      • Julia says:


      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        We shouldn’t be so judgmental of Edith–she was a product of the times she lived in. We saw the lengths they went to in preventing a scandal for Mary’s reputation–well, it is the same for Edith. It isn’t just her reputation, it is what a smear it would be on her family…

        • sbranch says:

          You’re right, we come from a completely different sensibility . . . we would all take that baby and GO!

          • Diane says:

            But what about the disruption to Marigold and her young and innocent life and feelings? A sudden separation would be devastating. And her older siblings? How scary that would be that it could happen to them, too. And the poor parents. I know this is “pretend”, but I’m all caught up in the child’s needs and well being. As long as Marigold is safe, Edith needs to back off and be content she can watch from afar. Wasn’t something said in the previews for next Sunday that there was a Swiss couple or someone who had Marigold before she gave her to the family she’s with now? Poor marigold needs stability.

      • Deborah Baxter says:

        I love that thought.

  37. Ardena says:

    My mother in Iowa had many bird feeders outside her windows. She especially loved the cardinals. For the little red squriels, my father drove a large nail part way into a tree and filed off the head. In the fall they would make a trip to a cousin’s farm and load the trunk with good old Iowa feed-corn still on the cob. All winter Dad would jam the soft stem-end of the cob of corn onto the nail. Squirrels would come down the tree, stand on the cob and eat the corn. Being on the nail, the cob would turn so they could eat the whole thing. You can guess this didn’t keep them from raiding the bird feeders!
    Living in CA now, I love all your snow pictures.

  38. Carol (Daisy) says:

    I envy people who have the whole eraser left after the pencil is at least half used up!! 🙂 I honestly don’t ever remember that happening for me. The photos, once again are just beautiful. Why do snow pictures always look so pretty when they are taken of someone else’s yard, driveway, sidewalk, patio. . . maybe the shoveling part has something to do with that.

  39. Julie says:

    Love your birds and squirrels feeding. They’re such little messengers of joy! I love having my morning coffee on the sofa where I watch the squirrels forging for breakfast under the palm trees.

    Am I alone in thinking Edith has turned into a creepy stalker?? I get it that she longs for her birth child, but all I can think of is how the adoptive mother is having to deal with this crazy woman who wants to constantly come over to play with her kid. Ew! Get lost lady!!

    • sbranch says:

      Either I would just go get the child and be done with it, or I would quit going over there; she really is like a stalker.

  40. Pam Betz says:

    Susan– I am a dog person, but I have grown to love Jack, thank you for sharing him. Also your thoughts are the same as mine about Downton Abby. I sure don’t want to loose little Sybie or her Daddy.Thanks Pam

  41. Tamara Leavins says:

    Your blog is always such a joy! Since you mentioned the calendars, is there a possibility that the blotter will possibly go back to its original size? The one for this year ended up being too big for my little kitchen desk/office area. That made me sooooooooo sad, because I had already been a whole year without a SB blotter, and bought the 2015 the minute they appeared in your store.
    Smilingly ;-),

    • sbranch says:

      The size for these things is something that’s decided by the people who manufacture it . . . My only choice is, do I want to put my art on it or not. Since the people who used to make our old blotters stopped doing it, I was just grateful we could find someone else to take it on, and they wanted this larger size, so I’m sorry, Tamara, but I think, at least for now, this is it.

  42. marilyn k says:

    I don’t have television. I don’t need it….I have real life. But let me tell you what I do have: I have an Emma Bridgewater Tea pot with pink hearts and a tea cup to match….rec’d them both last week in a lovely heart spattered cardboard box all the way from England via California!! I love ’em! Also ordered tea in a tin and 3 jars with red lids. The boxes were such a delight to open. Thank you Susan for offering such lovely wares. I was born in the 50’s, needless to say your stuff speaks to me. Enjoy your blog. I want to come visit your stomping grounds someday.

  43. Patricia Eaton says:

    I love your final shot of a sunny snow flurry which does occasionally happen. Here in Plain, Washington we were treated to the morning sun shining through ice crystals. Each one radiated rainbow colors as if each crystal were the most perfect of diamonds.

  44. Susan (Grayslake, IL) says:

    Thank you for your blog … it’s warmed my winter. Stay warm 🙂

  45. Marie W. says:

    Your comment about the prince and his lack of hair “laundering” just about about cracked me up! I had noted the same to myself but had not formulated it in such
    wording. Yes, I too adore this program and wait all year for it to begin again.
    So many in my aquaintance (and “see all the time” girlfriends, as well) do not watch–why ever not it is hard to fathom. PBS has just the best programming going. I enjoy your commentary on the show and just love your writing and your blog in general. Keep up the good work and do stay warm.

  46. Cordelia says:

    I love your website, Susan!

    I think Downton Abbey will be around for a few more years yet. Mary just might get to have her marriage to Another, then along comes WWII. I bet she and Tom will eventually end up together. They work well together and have a mutual respect. That friendship could grow into love especially if he’s the one that makes it back alive.

  47. Cathy Dupuis says:

    I watch Downton Abbey as much for the clothing and house as the story.
    I think Bates is going to find Mary’s what ever she used when she was with lord Gillingham. Because they were talking children and he will think Anna has been lying to him. Cora is in for the cold shoulder for awhile I guess he forgot the kiss with her maid a season or two ago hmmmm. You know that Edith will be found out and told on by Thomas. or she will be blackmailed. Enjoy the snow we are in for more Thursday and more next Monday.

  48. Noelle Sweeney says:

    Oh Boy Susan! You felt just like I did about Miss Bunting! Thank goodness I wasn’t the only one that was holding her breath when he ran to get his coat and I thought oh no.. please let her go:) and he did so happy about that! Oh yes I think they should do a few episodes of Violet and the Count when they were younger some kind of a look back and yes those dresses are just to die for. Thanks for the snow update, pretty much the same here on Long Island, love that snow moon tonight! Thanks Noelle

  49. Linda H says:

    I have seen the entire Downton Abbey series and will NOT be a spoiler … but it is such a fabulous series!! I love to watch them over and over again. I am so happy Ms. Bunting got a PUNTING … hopefully not to be back in the future!! I really am ready for the entire issue with Mr. Bates to be over with … enough with the dead Mr. Green. Mr. and Mrs. Bates are in love and deserve to be happy! So enjoy your blog and all the pictures you provide … makes me feel like I am right there with you. Say warm and pet the kitties for me … we are currently a “pet-less” house after having lost our sweet rescue dog (Sadie Anne) as summer … BIG hole in my heart still.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure. Our pets are so important. I’m sorry Linda!

    • Care Kester says:

      Yes, me too. Enough with Mr. Slimball Green. Let him be dead. Did Bates off him? I don’t know. I hope not but I’m still glad he’s gone. I do wish they would just let Mr. Bates and Anna be happy. <3

  50. Carol C says:

    I missed Downton Sun. due to the Super Bowl. Had go go out and buy Season 5 to catch up. This afternoon I watched all of the previous shows up to and through week 5. Will NOT watch ahead!! It was great to see Tom rid himself of Miss B and I loved Lord G punching out that creepy art guy. I thought they made Cora look more vapid having her eyes turned by his silly flattery. Please let her be more astute and self-assured than that. Agree with the Tom/Mary combo. At this point I’d feel horrible for Mrs. Drew to have to give up Marigold–and that poor kid being yanked around at Edith’s whim. Take her away from 2 mothers? Not fair at all. Off that— I love the houses you paint. They are all so cozy and homey. I’d love a calendar with a different house on every page. Enjoy the snow! Some of us are a little jealous of it.

    • sbranch says:

      I almost did that house calendar this year, but then I painted these geese wearing aprons and it made me change my mind!

  51. Christabelle says:

    I’m just wondering if anyone has been prompted by watching Downton to do a little independent history digging. I’m a little embarrassed to not have realized how relevant Hitler was to this time — i.e., that he had created his Sturmabteilung (Nazi militia) back in 1921.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, he was on his way. Just imagine if he’d been run over by a train in 1924, how history would have been different.

  52. Diane in Washington State says:

    Hi Susan,

    This last weekend, my husband and I went to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. for afternoon tea. What a delightful and well-done tea! After seeing it on your blog, I have been wanting to go there and the opportunity finally arose. I collect afternoon tea experiences 🙂 It’s fun to compare different restaurants. Did they have the Princess Diana exhibit when you were there? It was quite interesting. Next time, I want to stay onboard.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes they did. And you will love staying there. The staterooms, at least the one we saw, hadn’t changed. Old fashioned and wonderful.

  53. Mona in Riverbank CA says:

    I can’t enough of your snowy pictures – it’s comforting to know that somewhere it looks like winter when we’re having 68 degree weather. In February! The squirrels and birds are adorable. How do you ever break away to work? We have a pile of brush and pruned limbs out back that I am having a hard time getting rid of because the sparrows just love perching there and flying down to eat the food I put out. They are so funny and cute!

    Your painting of Jack is wonderful. He should be on every page of your calendar! Sadly, we lost one of our sweet kitties last week. Pete was almost 12, a handsome black and white boy. So glad for the comfort of his brothers and sisters. Your blog was just what I needed today. A pick-me-up for my heart. Love to you, Joe and the kitties!

  54. Mary Martin. (From Hermitage, TN) says:

    Totally enjoyed reading your update. Thank you. I also really enjoy Downton Abbey and look forward to each episode. I had also thought that Lady Mary and Tom would be perfect together, so let’s hope the writer also thinks of this possibility. 🙂

    According to your calendar, tonight is the night for the Snow Moon. I can tell you that from the perfect view here in Tennessee, the Snow Moon is beautiful!

    • sbranch says:

      Snow moon breaks into our house like having a flashlight into your eyes. Had to pull all the shades in the bedroom! But there she was, waiting for me when I got up . . . very beautiful.

  55. Christine from CA says:

    Really love your blog! Farewell Miss Bunting, I hope. I never trust writers!
    I love seeing the dining table set for dinner and the family around it. The crystal, centerpieces and dishes!!
    I love Maggie Smith, what a treasure from England for us to enjoy. I hope this season doesn’t end to soon.
    Thanks for the beautiful snow fall!!

    • sbranch says:

      I know! Writers! So changeable! They think they’re in charge! 🙂 No matter when this season ends, it’s going to be too soon!

  56. Diane V. says:

    Loved the pictures of the birds and squirrels in your yard. I usually photograph them, too, as my cats are lined up at the window to watch them. One squirrel in particular will come close and stare into the house until I put out the peanuts for him. Stay warm and keep your beautiful pictures coming!

  57. Susan P. says:


    I have so enjoyed the last 3 blogs….all the snow and the wonderful pictures…and all the girlfriends comments. I got all caught up on Downton Abbey…But what got me out here in the front room was

  58. Debbie Sowards says:

    I love this post and the perfect ending–the snowfall on the picture of your house. Beautiful!

  59. Donna says:

    Loving Downton Abbey but I am ahead one or two episodes, so will not comment…but it’s good! ❤️ our local Jimmy the groundhog bit the mayor’s ear, and then predicted an early spring. I’m wondering if he really wanted to say the rest of winter will be biting cold. Or maybe he just wanted to give the mayor an earful about the whole business of being asked to predict when spring will come every year. ❄️ We do not have kitties but both of yours are so adorable, makes me want to get one. Our dog may not agree.

  60. Susan P. says:


    So enjoyed the last 3 blogs…Got all caught up with Downton Abbey…Love all the girlfriends comments. But what brought me to the computer was the MOON !!!
    On the way home tonight it was getting foggy so I just gathered I would not be able to see the Full MOON…..Well as I passed by the dark front room there was light coming in….IT WAS MOON BEAMS POURING INTO OUR HOME..AAAHHH
    SO BEAUTIFUL AND PEACEFUL. Here in California things have been warm ..where I am 79 plus…but we have the best SUNRISES AND SUNSETS!!!! What a gift. I like that you have a “junk room” doesn’t everybody?? Just like everyone has a junk drawer in the kitchen…Right? My junk room is my “SERENDIPITY ROOM” IT IS WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE….QUILTS ARE QUILTED….ART WORK IS HUNG…BABIES ARE CUDDLED AND SUNG TO AND ROCKED …AND BUNNIES ARE MADE (DUST BUNNIES) hahahaha Oh I am sorry, just couldn’t resist that. Thanks for giving all of us so much joy and beauty from your pictures and blogs and art…and even laughter. Continue to create and dream for you have a real gift and we your “girlfriends” are blessed each time we open your blog. Thank you very much, Susan P.

  61. Marcy Reed says:

    It’s just amazing how spectacular that gorgeous PINK hibiscus does indoors. Wow! Looks like there’s some plant magic going on at your house

    • sbranch says:

      We don’t understand. The other day we had four flowers blooming at once, and maybe another five just about to bloom! I don’t think either of us has done anything but water it! It’s next to a bedroom window . . . the double-hung kind with all the little panes of glass. It seems to like it there!

  62. Lynn B says:

    Such horrible news updates delivered to my inbox today and then there was your blog post. Reminding and confirming the good in life. Thank you for every post but especially today.

  63. Sharon says:

    The Masterpiece web site features the Downton Abbey fashion show so that you can look at the details of some of the dresses. Lady Mary buys one and wears one in a future episode. There is also a discussion of the etiquette of attending a fashion show. You will enjoy learning about the social significance of men at a fashion show.

  64. Linda Tuskey says:

    I just have to insert some thoughts about Downton Abbey:

    Julian Fellowes has a contract to work on an NBC project evidently, which is why Season 6 will be the last season of Downton Abbey. But let’s hope that it will return to PBS someday as other PBS series have done.

    Don’t forget that Mrs. Patmore has purchased a house that she is going to rent out. Probably to Edith and Marigold.

    I am surprised there are few comments about the murder of Mr. Green. My guess is a certain Lord G is responsible. Mr. Green was his valet. I think LG has lost a great deal of money with the country’s changes and was looking to marry Mary for her money. I haven’t guessed yet why he would have killed Green, but he certainly was angry when Mary broke off with him.

    Early publicity about Season 5 revealed that there would be a wedding. I am guessing the wedding is Isobel’s. I wouldn’t count the doctor out of the running.

    Check out for photos, videos, interviews. There will be four more Sunday’s of Downton, ending March1.

    • sbranch says:

      Can you imagine the “downstairs” being the “landlord” to the “quality?” That would be something! I don’t think any of us care who murdered Green because we all would have done it if we could (figuratively speaking) . . . but I think your idea of Lord G. is a good one!

  65. Laura says:

    I have been enjoying your winter scenes in your blog posts and your chats about DA. I know where Edith’s lover Charles Edwards is. He is currently starring in Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury. We just saw the play in San Francisco. They were great and I hope I’m as sharp as Angela Lansbury when I’m 89. Anyways I had been hoping his character would pop back up in DA but now I’m not so sure he will. I hope Edith will prevail against all the pressures to conform to the ” old standards” and take Marigold and live her own “modern” life in London as editor of the newspaper. I do enjoy reading about everyone’s ideas on DA. It will be fun to see how it all goes.

  66. Mary in Phoenix says:

    My ♥ skipped a beat when I saw the teapot with blue flowers for September!!! That would definitely have been my recommendation 🙂 You can never paint too many teapots … and now you have more for your TEA BOOK file 🙂 Hard to believe your beautifully hand-created artwork calendars sell for the same price as ones that simply have a picture each month! Yours are worth WAAAAY more 🙂 Have fun painting to the winter music of nature ♥ xoxo

  67. Pat Johnson says:

    Yada Yada Yada…….not reading, not reading anything about Downton!!!! I am religiously watching the DVDs at my own pace and loving every minute of it. I have to pace myself so I can see when I leave the TV – one time I watched 72 episodes of Gilmore Girls and about died!!!! I think I hate Gilmore Girls now!! I love to see the snow pics and your weather. I have to admit that this California lady would thoroughly enjoy your situation – if only I had a man like JOE! I love the snow in Washington – but it isn’t very bad in Newport, WA. The snow totally makes me feel like a little girl again – and at 71 that is something wonderful!! Keep up the good work staying warm and doing the things you like best – playing with Jack is grand….hugs to all!!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL! Hate the Gilmore Girls! 🙂 Yes, pace yourself, how great you have all those years to catch up with, slowly.

  68. CindyK says:

    Ooooh, I just loved the squirrel photos!! I am your girlfriend who raised them! They are so adorable! And very sweet creatures! They just want to have fun, just like cats, or dogs. I think squirrels are natures pets. You can make friends with them, and feed them if you want, but you don’t have the obligations as with other pets. Perfect.
    And I just love the photos of Jack. He perks me up!!! What a sweetie he is, and Girl too of course!
    Your winter so far looks lovely! We have only about 2 inches here where I am, and that came this afternoon!
    I am a Downton Abbey fan as well. I rather liked Miss Bunting! She was fearless! She had a good side, after all she was helping Daisy! It would be lovely indeed to see Mary and Tom get together, but I suppose that would never happen. And yes, I wish Edith could have some happiness, poor thing!
    Can’t wait for the next episode!

    • sbranch says:

      I tried every year when we went camping to make friends with squirrels, sat for hours holding food out for them, it was the great disappointment of my life that they never came for it! In fact, I call Jack “squirrel” because he’s my little squirrel. You are so lucky. How about chipmunks, how are you with those? The squirrels never bite? Do you get to pet them?

  69. I’m with you . . . Boo Hiss Miss Bunting. Also I wish Mary and Tom would get together, but not sure it will ever happen. I so want her to be happy after Matthew and him after losing his Sybil. They both deserve to be happy and I think/wish it could be together! Sigh . . . yes, alas, there is only to be one more series done sadly enough. I hope they dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s in a way that makes us all happy and content. I have bought all the series thus far on dvd and will be wearing them out along with Miss Potter. I think a Miss Potter series would be splendid.
    Love all the artwork. I look forward to your next year’s calendars and am glad there will be another blotter one! Yay!! Must dash, the shower is calling me. Love all that you write. This feels like a nice and warm family club to belong to. I love this page and group of gals. We’re all so special, and not the least because of our leader. xxoo

  70. Vicki says:

    Great camera work there, Susan! Also love seeing the ‘snow falling’ over your house; that’s some cute ‘animation.’ You do indeed have A LOT of snow; it’s so pretty but brisk work for Joe! My husband says snow-shoveling is HARD. I swear I have never in my life heard of hibiscus blooming indoors.

    Wanted to tell you. Have, a few times, browsed your online store and then left my cart to think about it…BUT, this time, I purchased and I got everything today, so quickly (so happy!!); the whole order process was tidy and effortless. OMG, the teas; I could smell them even though they’re individually well-packaged; can’t wait to brew a cup in the morning: I got the kitty cup. It is adorable, with its own strainer for the tea; such a complete little ‘package,’ it is (the saucer has a mouse; it’s like a little story!). I was going to give it as a gift but I just have to keep it for myself now; I’m in luv. (I’m cat-full…we look after four…3 ferals/strays on the hill, going-on 8 years now, and our one remaining house-kitty who will be age 19 on his upcoming birthday.)

    Anyway, just wanted to pass that along about the shopping; first-time orderer, very pleased. I’ve usually, over the years, gotten your books, calendars, etc. in select retail or, of course, Amazon. But, now, your online store is I think the best, reliable resource! Wanted to say, too, that I got multiple items and everything was packed really securely with eco-friendly padding easily recycled. Overall great shopping experience!

    I feel so rattled with all the awful news in the national headlines today. It’s like a worry-feeling, nagging at the back of the brain; unsettling. Going into your blog here is a comforting, healing balm. You have a talent for soothing and calming with your words, photos and illustrations.

    • sbranch says:

      So glad to hear your take on our store, that the process was tidy! I always sort of worry about that, I want it to be easy. Some online shopping is SO frustrating! I know after the orders go through all is well because Kellee and Sheri do an amazing job of making things nice when they send them. Happy tea drinking!

      • I am also a big fan of your on-line store, Susan. Have ordered numerous items on several occasions, the largest order being tea, an Emma mug, tea infuser, cookie cutters and the pine-scented door draft protector with the cardinal design. Everything arrived in great shape and well-wrapped, including one item in heart-decorated tissue. So cute. Also get an email telling me when the order was shipped. You have a good crew there!
        All best,
        Nancye T., Wells, Maine

  71. Linda says:

    Finally figured out how to get DA….it is called Masterpiece Classic on our tv guide so never figured out that was DA! So after watching the SuperBowl I tuned in for the first time ever……..well, it sure was different. Had a hard time hearing anyone as it seems they all whisper all the time…their accents make it difficult to understand what they are saying. Well, thought the women were rather “catty?”
    to each other and the man who was the head of the household was not very nice to his wife. I think it is too late for me to start watching this as I can’t get who is who.
    Now dear Susan…….I love your red headed girls that you draw….the Holly Hobby looking ones with the braids and the checkered dresses. You really are very good at painting little girls so maybe they could be incorporated into your watercolors holding the pets or dressing for the seasons? Just a thought!
    Now, the photo of your house snowing I found on TUMBLER and pinned to my Pinterest board. It does not say it is your home and I was sure it was but now I know for sure it is!! I will go in and edit the pin and give credit for it being your home if you want….or maybe you would prefer not? You are so lucky to have such a gorgeous home.
    I tried feeding the birds one winter with 2 feeders but it put me in the poor house as I had to fill them every other day …..about 38 dollars a week!!! Wish they could eat stale bread but have been told that is not good for them.
    Linda from Idaho where it has been raining nonstop for days and more to come. Highs about mid 40’s!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, Masterpiece Classic. But, so you know, that won’t always be Downton Abbey. There will be other, and have been many other, Masterpiece Classics . . . just fyi! It is confusing. But now you know . . . because they produce wonderful programing. Oh yes, do put my name with the snow house, I’d love that. We get our bird food at a kind of warehouse for animal food on the island where it’s not as expensive.

  72. Jamie Lynn from Virginia says:

    You are living in a REAL marshmallow world on the Vineyard! It’s beautiful and the critters outside your window are the icing on the marshmallow cake. I could watch squirrels forever, my mother had become pretty adept at getting them to come to her as she held out a peanut. Cardinals are especially lovely birds, aren’t they? It’s funny to hear people say they have never seen them because in northwestern VA they are so very common. Isn’t so sweet that they feed each other?

    Downton Abbey. I was disappointed to hear that our journey with the Crawleys et al will end with S6 but I guess it can’t go on forever, and Julian did warn us that it would not. Better to go out on top of your game though. Julian Fellowes is supposed to be writing a new series about the Gilded Age following DA. ~ Thank goodness Duck-faced Bunting is gone! I wanted to slap her so many times. Mary & Tom? Hmm, I kind of like the idea, it was common among us commoners for the widow(er) to marry an in-law but I’m not sure the aristocracy would? Tom is so sweet and down to earth he would be a catch for any lucky girl. I like them together, they make a great team. Mary inherited Matthews part of the estate but does that mean Robert still needs a male heir for his part? Wouldn’t it be great if neither Anna or Bates had anything to do with Mr Green’s death? They deserve a break. And so does poor pitiful Edith, take the baby back Edith! Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get a backbone girl! Oh dear Violet!! “Granny has a past.” <3 It's interesting to me how Julian Fellowes is weaving a bit of the Jewish history in to the story line. Cora being half Jewish, what will happen when WW2 comes along (if we get that far) and now Rose's new friend, Atticus, being Jewish. I think we are being set up for another interesting story line. Marry Lord Merton Isobel, he is perfect for you!! Barrow is the character I love to hate! He is pitiful now though as he tries to change his nature, poor fellow. Next week he appears to confide something to Baxter according to the preview. Can't wait!

    Didn't Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley) play Beatrix Potter in a film about BPs life? I would L O V E a Beatrix Potter series, she was an amazingly determined, brave woman in her time. Most people don't realize there was so much more to her life than Peter Rabbit. So I vote yes to a series!

    Thanks for "The News From Smallville. Where all the wild animals know where to find supper, the kitties play endlessly oblivious to the worries of the world and every day is above average!".

    ~ Jamie

  73. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I have been keeping up with the recent big snows up your way all safe and sound here in Florida. Dare I say that we have Japanese Magnolias and Wild Plum trees blooming? And our early azaleas have a few brave blooms opening up. It seems weird to write this following your post of the deep snows up your way.

    On to Downton. Well last week had me glued again and wondering how is all this going to work out? Mary, Branson, Cora, Edith, Anna, Isobel……….so many tangled up twists and turns in one show! Like you, I wish Mary and Branson would make a go of it but somehow I think that would never happen due to Mary being the oldest and her son the inheritor of Downton. But then, we were teased to death before Matthew got his act together and asked Mary to marry him. I am hoping Violet gets in on these relationships and possibly pushes for the best outcome for the future of Downton and puts aside a bit of the Edwardian habits of the past. Like you, I love this show and dread the fact that we are coming close to the end of the season. Julian Fellows just has to give us another season next year. Please!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I believe we have one last season to come for next year. We have ages before we have to go into true mourning — we now do what Scarlett O’Hara taught us to do and we don’t think about it!

  74. Amylisa says:

    Another great blog post! Yes, we in Mass. have sure been getting more than our share of snow. I heard on the radio yesterday that within one week’s time we have gotten more than we did in the blizzard of 1978. I believe it!

    During Super Bowl last Sunday (YAY Pats), I was looking through A Fine Romance and re-reading a few chapters. The next morning right before I woke up, I dreamed my husband and I were in England and I was saying we had to go see Highclere castle. And then when I went downstairs, first thing I saw on the tv that morning was a chef wearing a black beret like your Joe ! Pretty cool! 🙂

  75. N Jean says:

    My husband and I love Downton Abbey. We have seen the whole season and it is wonderful. I won’t be a spoiler, but hold on to your hats! We loved it. I love your home in the winter, it is so inspiring.

  76. Melanie says:

    Ah, yes, Susan, I am also in the throes of Downton Abbey. My friend Marsha bought the DVD and so we are watching it in marathon sessions. I was indeed to see the very rude Miss Bunting leave. What lack of manners and consideration to speak as a guest like she did! Unfortunately, no matter how sick Thomas is, he still is the same nasty guy – even without O’Brien’s help.

    Lovely snow pics! Jack is a cutie. I’ve been on Martha’s Vineyard one time in my life but it was in the summer. I lived on the military base on Cape Cod for awhile.

  77. Linda Metcalf says:

    Your home is so warm and inviting. We are expecting a tiny bit of snow today , just an inch or so. Many moons ago when I was a child of six years we had a 56″ snow and it was amazing as it was way above my head. I was so disappointed to read that Downton #6 will be the last. I will miss it when it goes.

  78. Kathleen says:

    I miss O’Brien. The “evil” element just hasn’t quite been the same without her. What do you think is going to happen with Bates and Anna? He made a pretty beefy promise to her which I think is going to come back to haunt him. I always watch the episode twice: once for the story and once for the backdrop – costumes, dishes, furnishings, food.

  79. Pat says:

    Susan, I totally agree with you about Miss Bunting! SO happy to see her and her snippish ways go out the door, geesh…looks lovely at your home, I am in central VA…sunny today but very cool…we don’t get much snow…love your books and work !

  80. Lorie Hartsig says:

    So LOVE the chat about DA! Such insight we all have….I was lucky enough to spend time at Winterthur in Delaware, my home state, when the DA dresses and other gentleman’s garb was displayed. It was so well done, even great videos of different DA episodes were displayed on the wall behind the displays. If the exhibit comes to a nearby venue, see it!
    And always, love your photographs of your home in the snow!

  81. Ericka says:

    Haha – I’m laughing at loud at the Downton comments – Barrows with the rings under his eyes, screaming Oh No when Tom went to Miss Bunting…my thoughts exactly! I’m starting to feel that sad feeling I get when I can sense the end of a season approaching. It goes by entirely too fast.

    I love Jack’s face with the squirrels – isn’t it amazing how many expressions can come through on those furry faces? We die laughing at some of Geneveive’s (our kitty.) Unending entertainment for sure!

    Your snow paths look like the one we made from the house to the chicken coop. I feel like I’m going on a little adventure every time I go out there. Our ladies will certainly appreciate seeing grass again and madly digging through the leaves. As much as I love each season and am still enjoying winter coziness, I’m starting to think about gardening catalogs, rereading my gardening Pinterest boards, etc. What are your gardening plans for this year – anything new?

  82. Laurie Mitchell says:

    I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I enjoy your artwork. I have your new daybook, and your wall calendar I am in awe of your talent. Seeing your work makes me smile and your artwork is a gift to all of us. Many thanks!!!!!!!

  83. Betsy Brunette (and guess what....I am blonde!) says:

    We all thank you for having us “in” your home today and looking out on the winter wonderland. We, too, are enjoying the animal kingdom as we wait out the days of cold temps and gray skies. (that’s Indiana for ya!) I have a new visitor of late in the form of a red-bellied woodpecker. All of the regular visitors have had to move to the wings to wait their turns at the window ledge where I get a close look.
    The full Snow Moon was in it’s glory when I awoke at 5:45 a.m. so I grabbed my phone and snapped the photos. The broken clouds made for a beautiful presentation.
    Have been one who has been involved with community theatre here in Indianapolis and costuming and set designs are always fascinating for me in such shows as “Downton Abbey”. Love your comments and those of others. Aren’t we crazy to get as involved as we do with the show?! I savor the recordings of each episode and will someday watch them a second (and third??) time.
    Thanks for your heartwarming blog. We may never meet but we feel like you are one of our bestest friends!

    Betsy (Indiana)

  84. CarolK says:

    Got to get my two cents worth in. Next year’s October ~ Its not Fall without jewel toned browns, purples, burnt sienna (orange can be toned down on the pumpkins), golds, greens, and crimson. I’m a traditionalist and Fall is my favorite time of year. I’m going to love seeing your take on next year’s calendar. Just saying…..wink, wink, wink……..

    • sbranch says:

      Knowing me, I’ll try to do it all . . . pink pumpkins, jewel tones, totally fall, and anything but!

  85. Betsy Brunette (and guess what....I am blonde!) says:

    are we able to attach a photo? I want to share the Snow Moon pics from this a.m.

  86. Teresa Jensen says:

    Haven’t watched yet on my DVR, but will do so NOW! You make my day. I’m here in CA. Can’t go outside without breaking into a sweat…..need a little winter!

  87. Kathie says:

    Will their arms be their own “safe haven” together, Tom and Mary (I’m not talking about “Babes in Toyland”)? I’ve wondered from the start….it would be quite nice. But, first, I guess, we have to get past Ms. Bunting and Chawles Blake (interesting how Chawles used to play Andrew Foyle in “Foyle’s War” and Lord Gillingham used to be Anthony Foyle in Downton Abbey….they’re playing with our heads….) Oh yes, manners. Ms Bunting has zero…..but might be palatable if she acquired some. She may have noticed the importance of good manners in these last few episodes; but what shall we do with her militancy, i.e. it’s either me or Downton, Tom, you can’t have both….or something like that. Sorry, I like Tom and Mary as a couple; not Tom and Ms. Bird…….I mean, Ms. Bunting….. I’ve always like Chawles Blake, too, though. Where will it all lead? Will feminist/communist/rudenist win out over all? Will the ladies wind up wearing OTR fashions from Woolworth’s, smoking cigarettes and talking trash? Will the men sell the land, turn to opium, and go to work in the city? How boring that would be!

    • sbranch says:

      I just wish Beatrix Potter would come for a visit. 🙂

      • Susan from Bainbridge Island, Washington state says:

        Oh YES! for the children! Wouldn’t that be fabulous…THEN they could do a spin off series about Beatrix Potter….What a great introduction that would be!!! YES>>>YES>>>YES!!!!!!

        • Kathie says:

          I am so with you on that. “Let me teach you how to dance….” Tom and Mary swirling about the nursery in a lovely waltz embrace while Beatrix and the children play with bunnies in the bay window overlooking a prosperous Downton Abbey Estates…….where Mr. Helius is selling a flock of cross-bred sheep…..complete with cavorting lambs…..

  88. Mamey Brown says:

    Loved this post. I wish I had a fireplace!! If I may ask; in the pictures of the fireplace, to the right there is a HUGE book on a small table. Is that a bible or a dictionary?? It is stunning, whatever it is… I Love it!!
    I loved Downton this week. Violet never fails to crack me up. I feel so bad for Edith, but I just wish she would take the child. I too, wish Tom and Mary would hook up.
    We finally got a substantial about of snow this past Monday here in upstate NY. I LOVED it, it’s so pretty. Thanks for the great post. Oh, and WOW the moon was gorgeous!!

  89. Nellie says:

    My, my, Susan! What a healthy looking groundhog! Someone has been feeding him through his hibernation period! Love the show the squirrels are providing, perfect to capture Jack’s attention. The birds know they will have a feast in your backyard!

    Our prediction today is for high temps in the fifties, but a chance of light snow by morning! A cold front is coming! Crazy weather!

    There are sure to be more surprises on Downton! I’m eager for the next episode! We are also enjoying the show that comes on before – The British Baking Show.

    Keep warm and stay safe!

    xo Nellie

  90. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    It IS SO MUCH FUN reading all this Downton dithering 🙂 This and your lovely snow pics and painting are the perfect antidote to the “nightly news” which is ghastly just now. Plus turned on the FM classical station on the radio and I’m leaving it there! Didn’t I read a while back that Julian Fellows might be working on a new series about the high society folks on the East Coast of the USA? If that happens, some of those Downton people might show up in that story line . . . Just sayin’ Something to look forward to.

  91. Hi Susan,
    Loving all the DA comments in your post. I had a fun “beat the winter blahs” lunch yesterday with three girlfriends. And all we talked about for over an hour was Downton, the characters, how we love Violet (and Maggie Smith, who plays her), how Edith is getting annoying, what’s up with Bates and Anna, and what would work best for Mary. There we were, seated by a cozy fireplace in the little restaurant, eating salads and soup, and hashing it all out…what a fun way to spend a lunch hour. And what fun it is to read everyone’s comments on your blog, too. Sad it may end after Season 6, but Julian has more to do and the actors do, too. BTW, highly recommend these films for British movie fans. The Imitation Game features the actor who plays Tom in DA, and Paddington, features Hugh Bonneville (Robert). Fun to see these guys in other roles…and also a good way to help satisfy that British obsession we all seem to have.
    Take care and stay warm,
    Nancye T., Wells, Maine

    • Margot ~~~ Virginia Beach says:

      Are you related to the Tuttle Farm family in Dover?

      • Hi Margot,
        No relation to the Tuttle farm in Dover, N.H. My husband’s family – the Tuttles – lived in N.J., where he grew up and an uncle traced their family tree back to ancestors arriving in Connecticut from Great Britain way back in the early 19th century. The Tuttles were founding fathers in Acton, Mass., where we lived for 37 years before relocating to Maine in 2013. Everyone told me I would either be a selectman or work for the paper before long with Tuttle as a last name. I did end up working for the paper – the Beacon – which was founded by an Earl Tuttle…..

  92. Brenda Brady says:

    Love your blog! It is always so delightful and I look forward to each new edition. I live in a similar “Smallville” in Delaware. A typical small town USA. My husband and I feel very luck to not only live in a wonderful small town, but a small town where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.

    Downtown Abbey is my favorite PBS series. I was fortunate to visit the Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit at Winterthur Museum four times. Each visit revealed something I missed during the previous visit. The costumes were exquisite and Brenda

    • sbranch says:

      How nice to hear your “review” — I think lots of our Girlfriends are going to the exhibit when it comes to the Biltmore . . . they will be happy to hear your thoughts.

      • Where in Delaware, Brenda? My sister lives in Selbyville, which is about a half hour from Lewes, which is close to where you are, I imagine ….we took the Cape May-Lewes ferry on several occasions, since my in-laws lived in Cape May and we spent many happy summers there. Just wondering where you are.
        Nancye Tuttle, Wells, Maine .

  93. Debra says:

    Sad to say that Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow. I live just outside of Punxsy, which is it’s knickname. Phil causes quite a stir around town on the 2nd of February. Thousands of people from all over the country, some even from out of the country, come to our small town for a mid-winter get-away. It is a carnival atmosphere with events for all ages. Quite an accomplishment for a small town. Whether Phil is right or not still waits to be seen. ! On DA, I was so happy to be Bunting go although I held my breath there for awhile until she finally left. It was good to see Lord G show some emotion and give it to the scumbag and when will Edith get a backbone and fight for her daughter?

  94. Debbie Vaky says:

    The Downton Abbey costumes are coming to The Biltmore in Asheville, NC!!! This could be a fun trip to take!!

    • Julia says:

      Do you know when that will be? Love to see them. I saw
      Princess Diana’s clothes and also Jackie O’s and would love
      to see the Downton ladies.

      • Julia says:

        PS to Susan. Your sweetheart girls, S&K, helped me out
        again today. Just love them. I’m going to my neighbor-
        hood bookstore tomorrow and see if she could carry
        some of your things. I’ll take the phone number with

  95. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, I was surprised when you said you normally don’t get that much snow on MV because I know MA really gets horrendous storms, but I guess being an island off the coast it saves you from getting it. My son in VA Beach gets very little snow, and I know its because of being by the ocean. Loved all the pretty pics though.

    I just have to say I was so happy when Robert seemed to be leaving the room and that awful man, Bricker???, kept talked about him and how he ignores Cora and when Robert came back around and lunged at him, it was wonderful and my Joe jumped off the chair and yelled “Yes” and was so excited. ( you would have thought he was watching sports). I have to agree with him. Robert had put up with enough of that guy trying to get his wife. Why Cora just put her hands up to her face and let Robert go and sleep in the other room, I’ll never know. I think she should have explained to him exactly what happened. He probably thought the worst with both of them in their night clothes! Cora and Robert truly love each other, and I hope this doesn’t cause them to part. And, yes, so happy Bunting is gone for once and for all. Now we need to get rid of Barrow! He must be a great actor because we all hate him, and I hear he’s nice in real life.

    Loved the pic of the snow falling on your lovely home! Only 6 more weeks of winter. With hugs, Gail xo

  96. Cathy B says:

    You mentioned wild turkeys. What do you feed your turkeys? Thanks for the snowing snow picture of your house. I miss snow very much so that was very enjoyable.

    • sbranch says:

      At first they just “cleaned up” under the feeders and they still do, but Joe got some sort of yellow seedy looking feed he’s throwing out by the barn . . . I’m not sure what it is.

  97. Christine says:

    We can all clap our hands now that Miss Bunting is gone (for good I hope). What was Julien thinking? I thought DA had a good episode this past Sunday, as so much was happening; fighting in the bedroom, new banker boyfriend, more drama for Edith (won’t go there), inheritance for Miss Patmore (I like her), police interviews for Anna (did she do it?) and so on. Sunday night has really become a PBS night for me as I won’t miss the British Baking Show, Downton and then Grantchester, which I am also enjoying. Love that Robson Green. Anyway, thank you again for your wonderful pictures~kitties~just adorable, snow picture at the end of the post (how do you get it to snow like that?) and fireplace photos~can never get enough of those. I have always wanted a fireplace! Good progress on those calendar pictures. Also, I love those tiny painted flowers you use in your posts between topics!

  98. Donna Miller says:

    Oh My Gosh…I was SO glad to see Miss Bunting go. Rude Rude Rude! I laugh every time the little one calls her grandpa DONK!!! Love This Show. And Grantchester, also. What the Dickens

  99. Margot ~~~ Virginia Beach says:

    I think you need the Yankee bird feeder squirrel whipper. Jack would LOVE that one. lol There is a video about it somewhere on-line.

    • sbranch says:

      We like to feed the squirrels too . . . mostly because they are well mannered (not like Miss Bunting) and don’t make pigs of themselves . . . they come, they eat, they go, nary a word of rudeness . . . and the rest of the time everything belongs to the birds.

  100. Margot ~~~ Virginia Beach says:

    I hear my little birdie now. I have to go look out the kitchen window. He gives me hope of better weather.

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