The Cruel Miss

Oh, Downty, I love thee so.   Fair warning: I’m about to talk in depth about Season 6 Episode 7 of darling Downty including the Cruel Miss, so if you’d rather have our local weather report (frozen tundra), kitty tail, recipe for pork chops, and book update, scroll to the bottom! And now my dear Girlfriends? Strike up the MUSICA! Song for Mary. IMG_5678

There were just a couple of things I wanted to say about last week’s episode before I get started on this one. Just a couple mentions, because this was a beautiful dress and hat on Cora and should be given a little moment.


But, I have to say, this hat on Henry was not really my cup of tea as it was precariously perched maybe a foot above his ears, thereby elongating the head not to his great advantage.


But just as I was getting used to it, Mary and Henry got caught in the rain, the hat disappeared, and as he was zooming in on Mary’s lips, I felt myself warming toward this guy who’s only real fault is that he isn’t Tom.


Also, I wanted to say a little something about this outfit!


Wow! Dinner out with the boys. Wasn’t this whole restaurant scene, the men in tuxedoes, Mary illuminating the room in her gold gloves, her turquoise earrings, her satin headband, her gorgeous dress, just beautiful?


And this week the fashion beat kept going . . .  Cora! That hat, the scarf, the colors, is that beading on her top?  And those pearls!


And these glasses. Quite something. Not sure what, but very interesting and zippy for Mary. I’m with her all the way, her hats, her glasses and her headbands  because just like Mary  . . .accessoriesI just don’t have quite as many.


Beautiful. These people have accessories that shine in the dark!


But my favorite person this week was darling Violet, aka, Granny, Dowager Countess of Grantham and Queen of Downton Abbey.  Cool in defeat, she decides to whisk herself to the South of France to lick her wounds and try to forget the whole (and meaningless at it turns out) hospital debacle and the fact that they dumped her unceremoniously, actually without even bothering to tell her.  In small and totally understandable retaliation, Violet was going to France without telling the family, except she said she would write to Tom! Because he is “the sensible one!!” Me and Violet = on same page. But before she left she did two outstanding things:


First, she went to visit Lord Merton’s (“Dickie” to his closest friends like us) daughter-in-law, who was clearly cut from the same cloth as her husband, Dickie’s hideous son, Larry. Dickie has two sons, both of them horrible snobs and selfish beyond measure, and they stand between Isobel (Violet’s best friend and mother of the sadly dead Matthew) and Lord Merton, who, tepidly, some of us wish would get together, why I don’t know. I think we’re supposed to but I haven’t really been able to care too much. Except for him. I do sort of feel sorry for him. Isobel does fine on her own, but that poor man with that rotten family really does need her.


Anyway, here is the haughty daughter-in-law, mean girl Amelia Crookshank, who really just wants to foist her father-in-law OFF herself, just in case he becomes a burden, so that’s why she’s been being nice to Isobel. Granny saw right through this greedy “cruel miss” because her rat-o-meter is highly sensitive and sent off alarms the moment she laid eyes on Amelia. Granny made short work of her, exposing her true motives, then slapped her back with the “Not if I see you first” comment, and took off for France. But before she left she planned one more wonderful thing because Violet’s wake is almost as good as the woman herself. (← the Royal Purple)IMG_5845

She got her son a little THANK GOD FOR NOT DYING present.  A new puppy! I’m really going to miss this show.


And he was thrilled of course… and weren’t we all!


And either the dog was just as thrilled, or he deserves an Academy Award for best actor. “So natural,” the reviewers exclaim in unison! So, that was good.


Something else good (although, despite what Edith says about never being so comfortable in her life, I find that a bit hard to believe, she doesn’t look comfortable to me).marryme


But still, the languorousness of it must have worked because the enamored Bertie asked her to marry him.  Can I bring Marigold?  What? You mean The Ward? Really? You want her to live with us? Okay, I guess so.  So Edith’s thinking about it.  Happiness for Edith is a warm gun. Fleeting.  She is a girl balanced on a window ledge called Typhoon Mary and only we know it.aint life grandIMG_5795

And then they all go to the car race and THIS happens. Tom meets Bright Young Thing, editor Laura Edmonds who works for Edith. Course the first thing he tells her is that he used to be the chauffeur. Not sure what he wishes to prove with that one.  He is sure not the chauffeur anymore! Did you see Laura smoking in the office, how she waved that cigarette around like she was directing an orchestra? Very artsy! Ah well, so be it. I don’t want this good man to end up alone.  I am resigned.

Just kidding, truth is that I’m just trying to save face. I’m not resigned because in my heart I think Julian is just trying to throw me off the trail, but it can’t be done, I see through his ruse and hold on to idiot faith for Tom’s destiny to be entwined with Mary’s despite all his terrible hints to the contrary. Like this for  instance:


Hint-Hint. Not even engaged but full-0n kissing in front of a grandstand in broad daylight.  I’m glad Granny was in France and did not have to witness this wanton exhibition.IMG_5803

Another hat, and works as a rather good head thickener, don’t you think? (Note: white bunting as racetrack decor!)


And off they go without any seatbelts or football helmets. Don’t you just KNOW that Julian is having every kind of fun with these cars.  Just wonderful!!!


But UH OH, tragedy strikes, you can tell by the shocked faces . . . . Could history be repeating itself? First Matthew dies in car crash and now . . . could Mary just be the car-guy jinxs of all time??????

IMG_5825 Oh. Okay, whew, just that other very nice guy died.  Charlie Rogers, Henry’s best friend, so now he is in tears. Mary wants to never see him again, she can’t take this car stuff, but we are beginning to feel his pain and think he is a wonderful, brave and honorable person for diving under that burning car in a last ditch effort to save his friend. It’s all so futile, Henry’s “Carpe Diem” moment is going down the drain. Later we find out that Tom is much more upset about Mary’s apparent change of heart than she is, and tells her she is making the biggest mistake of her life. But actually I think he is seeing his future career as a car-guy himself go up in flames.

It’s worrisome that there are only two more episodes for Mary to get herself in love and happy! (Not to mention Anna getting her twins!) I may not sleep! Oh yeah, they aren’t real. Okay. Whew.


Now for Mrs. Patmore. Our girl fixed Mr. Carson’s wagon. Well done! Also, she got herself a dream. Her own Bed and Breakfast. Sturdy little business woman, quietly setting herself up.  But who was the guy in the bushes and why would he be watching her??? Anybody know? Hopefully he is bringing word that she will be receiving an inheritance from a long lost relative. Or that the baby girl she gave up for adoption all those years ago is coming back to claim her! (I just made that up.)


Anyway, Mrs. Patmore fake-bandaged Mrs. Hughes arm, thereby rendering her unable to make dinner. Poor Mr. Carson was forced to do it himself. It was heartbreaking, all that warming up he had to do, the two forks, two plates and all, the long walk to the table, poor man fell asleep over his dinner!


Mrs. Hughes looks like she is having canary for dinner.  And allows Mr. Carson to “do the dishes in the morning.” So thoughtful. Because Mr. Carson is truly getting on my nerves.


He is persecuting poor old Barrow. Never ever says one nice thing. I would find it very difficult to constantly be this mean to just one person who was doing me no harm!!! But Carson is steel. And now, Barrow’s only joy in life, the fragile place where his fragment of self-esteem had balanced itself, hanging by a cat whisker, the teaching of reading to Andy? Gone too. Whisked away by the do-gooder schoolmaster. No one wants Barrow around. He has nothing to live for. Not fair! And so handsome too.


And this sentiment counts double today, because not only is it the end of the Downty recap for this week, this is also something I painted on my book.  Eeeek, I have been wanting to tell you.  She is done. yay! The flaps are written, the endpapers are done, the spine is designed, and so is the back cover, I chose the ribbon color, and yes, I cried. I have wanted to write this book my whole life. TeaTimeBut it took me till now to figure out how to do it, because it seems that all things happen when they are supposed to. The person wanting the movie option has called again! So it’s not over yet! I love it so much I’ve decided to call this trilogy, “Dinner in Three Courses.” Because you can take the girl out of the cookbook, but you can’t take the cookbook out of the girl: The Fairy Tale Girl is the Appetizer, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams is the Main Course, and A Fine Romance is the Dessert, which of course, in this neck of the woods, we always eat first.

Susan is short dishtowelMVID-Ad-Victoria This is the ad I designed for the May-June issue of Victoria Magazine . . . Joe added to the copy from where it says, “Based on….” Which makes it a family affair (which it actually always has been). ♥ MVID-Ad-TeaTimeThis one is for Tea Time Magazine (which btw, has really wonderful recipes in it!) . . . each ad got a different girl. Like her jammie bottoms?  I knew you would. And Now? I just designed the very first page of the 2017 calendars, which is my next project. Before we leave for our cross-country book tour at the end of April, all of my projects will be done, and turned in.  To celebrate it’s 30th year, we will have a brand new printing of Heart of the Home, with 16 new pages included, coming in July . . . yes, and all the calendars will be done. I will be FREE as a bird. FREE, FREE, FREE! (Till I decide what next fool hardy thing I should do!)  But now?IMG_5866

Now I wander around the house taking pictures of snow flakes frozen to  the windows. Because, until I was almost 36, I never even knew this existed!


It all came as a wonderful surprise, these lovely wintry views across the frozen tundra.


Little feathery ice trails.


Look at what I was missing!


 So what if the pipes are frozen in one of the upstairs bathrooms? So what if when we open the silverware drawer we get blasted with icy air because somehow back in there seems not to have any insulation! So what if they are  warning us that we can get frostbite in only ten minutes in the great outdoors? We can take it!  And, we stay in! We are no dummies!

IMG_3075We know where our bread is buttered.  And where our stuffing lies waiting . . .Stuffed Pork ChopsThis is our dinner tonight . . . Oven on for extra coziness! Apples, raisins, cinnamon, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and juicy pork chops . . . who could ask for anything more on a wild and wooly winter night? And I have time! No book!


Jack knows how to stay warm!


And we all send Valentine good wishes . . . from our house to yours . . .


 Happy Valentine’s Day Girlfriends!!!  I can’t thank you enough for your wonderful support during this rather lonely journey through book writing. It’s such a difference to read your kind comments and know I’m not alone. And a special thank you to everyone who wrote yesterday to tell me it was Sunday! XOXO

Girlfriendsforeverart Girlfriends

Thank YOU!


Book Tour MapBe sure to stop by and say hello while we are out and about!  I’d love to meet you!

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504 Responses to The Cruel Miss

  1. matty says:

    I <3 dropping in after "Downton" to enjoy your recap of the story! You and I are on the same page with Miss Cruel! What a witch! What will Isobel do?? Can she leave him to the Mean Girl? And Mr. Mosley? A teacher?? What a great thing to happen! I am worried about Mr. Barrow… he is getting more and more isolated. While he hasn't been a nice person, he has gotten kinder over time… and he does have his good qualities.. and the children like him… And Bertie… Oh, please, Edith, don't mess this up! He is a good man and, like Robert said, if he loves Edith, we are all happy. Frankly, I think she is highly underrated!

    Whatever shall we do on Sunday nights after our family leaves us for the great "out there"?

    • sbranch says:

      We have to not think about it! That’s the only answer I have right now. And trust SOMETHING will show up to take our minds off of the gaping hole in Sunday nights. This has happened every year, I really can’t believe it. I always miss it.

  2. My heart is so happy for you, Susan!! ‘Dinner in Three Courses’ is truly perfect! We just can’t wait for the Main Course!! So proud of you!! ♡
    Stay cozy!
    Dawn (in Illinois)

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Dawn! Hope it’s milder weather where you are!

      • We’ve been busy shoveling and snowblowing, too. I just love your frosty windows, Susan! It must be much colder at your house. So glad you have a fireplace, Joe, and the kitties to keep you warm ! ♡♡

        • sbranch says:

          Yes we were down to 10 degrees not counting wind chill which is pretty cold for us. No one is shoveling snow!

        • sondra fox says:

          Susan Dear, The picture of the pillows on your couch was pretty, then, on my second time through the pictures, I spotted the kitty tail, finding a hiding spot amongst the pillows. So adorable. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        I think “Dinner in Three Courses” would be a lovely name for your movie/series. Loved little Jack hiding in the cushions. And your frosted windows are so pretty. Stay warm, take gentle care. Hugs.

  3. Connie T. says:

    Susan, thanks as always for the recap of Downton Abbey! I was actually laughing out loud many times last night. It was the most witty episode yet! I was giggling with delight at all the wittiness and the eye candy of the costumes and scenery. I think we have three more episodes – I believe the last episode is March 6th, a special 2 hour finale! I went to recently and think that is what my memory is telling me. The pork chops recipe looks delish! I’ll have to try it soon! So glad you are almost done with all your projects. Raise a glass and cheers to you!

  4. Sandra says:

    Love the frosty snowflakes designing true art from nature on your windows! What will you DO when Downton is well and truly over for you?! Maybe you’ll enjoy “Dickensian” if it comes your way. It’s based on stories written by Charles Dickens. Or how about “Call the Midwife” if you get that over there.

    Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day. I made crocheted hearts and little pouches containing chocolates to give away!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, we do get Call the Midwife, it’s good, but it’s not Downton. Though, what is? I would LOVE Dickensian, but so far I haven’t seen it. Maybe, if we’re lucky, it will come.

  5. Lee Rose says:

    Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I am worried about Violet’s travels. They kept saying the name of the ship…sounded like foreboding foreshadowing to me. I’m just being paranoid, right? Violet was at her very best when putting Amelia in her place, that girl didn’t have a chance.

    I’m glad Mary realized Henry is not for her. Even if it is not Tom(which it will be), it is not Henry. I loved how Anna ran after Mary when the accident happened, the two of them really love each other.

    And Yay! Mr. Mosely. I so want him to be happy.

  6. Mary Ann says:

    I love your re-cap of Downton Abbey…. While watching it, I imagine I’m living it and I’m part of the scenery. Although I hope Mary does not get Tom – maybe he’ll get together with the Editor. Lady Edith has never looked better now that she may get some happiness. My take on Edith was she’d fall for Bertie and Bang! Mr. Gregson would come back from the dead. Can’t figure out why Mr. Carson is being so mean to Mr. Barrow though. I got quite a kick out of Mr. Carson’s come uppance when he had to cook the meal!!! Loved the puppy and will be so sad to see the show end.

  7. Ann Woleben says:

    My two favorite parts in last night’s episode were the puppy and watching Mr. Carson fumble in the kitchen. The Dowager Countess has a bigger heart than some realized and Mrs. Patmore is one smart lady! Edith needs to say “yes” and begin packing her bags for Marigold and for herself. I’m beginning to think that Mary is going to be an unmarried, independent woman. I simply don’t see in her heart a real desire to marry, but I will continue to keep my fingers crossed for her and Tom. I want to jump “into” the TV screen and fix a better life for Mr. Barrow – enough picking on him! A always your snow, kitty and home photos bring great pleasure. We have about three inches of snow this morning, but now the temperature is rising and rain has started to create an ugly mess. So glad I’m an early riser and had an opportunity to see the undisturbed snow. A belated Happy Valentines Day to you and Joe!

  8. Deb W says:

    I can’t say much about Downton, because – not only did I look up the plot on the Internet as it was shown in England, I bought the DVD last week and WATCHED IT ALL over the weekend!!! I promise not to give anything away, but I “blubbed” all the way through the finale.

    I wonder if they had Tom gain weight for this season? I’ve seen photos of him post-Downton, and he’s slim again. The pudgy figure, baby face and crumpled fedora are a bit of Irish stereotype – even if he is “the only one with sense.” He REALLY runs Downton, and herds the whole family like a sheepdogs. Mary just THINKS she’s the boss.

    Henry? Looks well in a Tux, has some charm, but……with the small head and long neck, looks rather like a grasshopper.

    May I say how much I’m beginning to adore Bertie? Soft-hearted, but very capable and ‘take charge’ when it’s called for, but mostly because he’s in love with Edith.

  9. Rayma Halloran says:

    Thank you for the recap of Downton, I love your photos of the ladies beautiful dresses, hats and jewelry because I get to examine them in depth! This season’s wardrobe has been amazing! I’ve been a fan of Henry’s (Matthew Goode) since he first appeared in “The Good Wife” TV series as the love interest, then as a the main character in Death Comes to Pemberly, another PBS special! I chuckled so much to see The interplay between Mrs. Hughes and her hubbie, a long time coming! What will we do when the show ends!?

  10. Isabel Bush says:

    Congratulations Susan on the amazing accomplishment of finishing the book. Can’t wait to get it. Unfortunately, I am in Orlando (not as far down as Miami), but I know you are not coming down that far this trip, so I will not get to meet you. It is ironic that I have fallen in love with Downton now that it is ending. That has happened with quite a few shows I have loved. They decide to end them while they are still popular instead of waiting until no one is watching them. I do love Call the Midwife and hope Home Fires and Indian Summers come back. Stay warm. Jack just gets cuter and cuter, if that is possible.

  11. KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

    Wonderful recap yet again! Thank fashions…..Oh my! They continue to thrill! I do not like that nasty Miss Cruikshank’s name is Amelia! I love that name and it doesn’t suit her. The only first name that would suit her is Selfish and I don’t think that’s a name! I loved the scene with Edith curled up next to Bertie, lounging. A picture of contentment. Violet was in true form, indeed….a tough nutcracker, indeed! I love her perception! Dickie and Isobel should marry and kick those brats out on their butts! I think Isobel would be happy to “take care of” Lord Merton in his old age! There’s still hope for Mary and Tom….did you see the little preview clip for next week? Not looking very promising for Mary and Henry. There is hope now for a place for Barrow to stay in his Downton home. I hope so! Can’t believe there are only 3 episodes left. So much to get done! So happy YOU have gotten so much done! Such exciting news for all of us adoring fans! Love you frosty winter wonderland! Same here in cold northern WI! Dreamy! ♡

  12. Mary boyer says:

    Have a few more pages to the Fairytale Girl and and now I can’t wait to get to the “main course”!
    Kind of the same feeling I get when I think of finishing Downton.🙁
    Have to tell you though, I attended a flower show in Edison, NJ this Sunday and came across a vendor who used salt shakers to make old looking tassels and sachets (which I would turn into pincushions). Very clever and adorable, but better yet, she used figures from Beatrix Potter’s books and others! I didn’t think they will mind if I give you their info-

    Dancing Bear Designs, John & Martha McGann, 860-249-3452, Windsor, CT.
    Thought immediately of you the instant I came to the booth. Enjoy❤️

  13. Ann Waddell says:

    Hello Susan,
    I always look forward to your Monday morning posts, including the Downty ( I LOVE THE WORD!) recap. Last Monday I checked several times, and was amused that I am not the only one who gets days and dates mixed up! Anyway, last night’s episode was so jam packed! My two favorite parts were: Violet left the new beautiful puppy for Robert (and us), and when Mr Mosley is offered a teaching position. But now that I have written that, I am thinking of many other examples as well! Congratulations on completing the new book-I love your ads for Victoria and Tea Time. I have been looking forward to this book since I finished The Fairy Tale Girl, and am pre-ordered on your site. I got Heart of the Home when it first came out, so many years ago, and still cherish it. It’s exciting that it will be re-released with more pages. It’s very cold here in western Mass, and I am delighted to spend the day with my dog and cat, working on several creative projects, and maybe leafing through one of your books! I’m in the mood for England, so perhaps “A True Romance” is the one. Be well, congratulations, and enjoy your new found free time.
    Warmly, Ann
    PS Provence is very beautiful and quaint. Perhaps you and Joe could travel there and you could write about your adventures! You’d really love it. I’d love a book by you about that!

    • sbranch says:

      How does English go there? I really love being places where I can understand the people! Very limiting, but as for trip enhancement, it truly helps! Thank you Ann!

      • Ann Waddell says:

        Everyone speaks English, or makes an effort! And you are richly rewarded if you attempt a bit of French. The food is amazing, the countryside is breath-taking, and the people are love bugs! What’s not to love about a region where lavendar grows in abundance and intoxicates the general public?!?!

  14. Betsy in Pennsylvania says:

    How about Poldark ? Although the fashions will be a far cry from what we are use to. The red dress Mary had on at the race track was so beautiful. The fashions just got better and better. I can’t wait to meet you in New Hope Susan!!!!

  15. Susan says:

    I love how you focus on the fashion – it’s a treat for the eyes, for sure. The little details is why I re-watch on DVD.

    I love how Tom Branson is the voice of reason, and also what a rock of stability he is for all around him, including the Dowager. His character seems to also speak for *us* the viewers; sometimes he says things that I feel particularly need to be said.

    I am definitely on Team Molesley, and I love where the plot is taking him, week by week. When the Headmaster congratulated him on his knowledge, you could see Molesley stand a bit straighter and square his shoulders. A sweet moment.

    Thanks for your recap 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I’m wondering if Molesley might end up with Daisy? Too far fetched?

      • Susan says:

        Probably not, but I do love how she has another person rooting for her, believing in her, in addition to Mrs P and Mr Mason. It’d be interesting to know more of her back story – I wonder if she was an orphan?

  16. NANCY JO says:

    I think Barrow is going to save one of the children from some fate, and will be forgiving his past.
    Love the post. yeah the book is done!!
    NANCY jO

  17. Gail says:

    I loved last nights episode. Loved Mr. Carson’s kitchen duty,what a riot. Am I the only one who feels sorry for Thomas? Will he take Moselys job? Only 2 more episodes,so sad. Is Anna having twins? So many great scenes last night, but I was so very happy at the end when Robert got the puppy. Made my heart melt.

  18. Kathy Korb says:

    Hi! I watched Downton Abbey for, Yes, the first time last night.. Loved the fashions, especially the turquoise dress and accessories! and the teaware! Our public tv shows two episodes. 6 and 7 last night! So there was a wonderful tea with Violet and her friend in episode 6.. Loved it!! Also, loved the race car scenes.. They had a tailgate party – tea party style!!! so fun! Tried to watch Downton a year ago and couldn’t get interested. Now with only 2 episodes left.. I love it!! oh well.. I can get the dvds at the library!!
    Congratulations on the completion of your book! Can’t wait to see it and you!! Have made plans to go to the book signing event in Cedar Rapids in May with my best friend!!
    We had a wonderful snow fall here in Wisconsin yesterday. My teenage daughters and I took a walk in the winter fairy land!! Gorgeous!! Stay cozy and give those kitties a squeeze, not to mention Joe!! xx00

  19. Wendy Louise says:

    Dear Susan,
    Downton just keeps getting better and better, I almost feel like I am watching a football game when my son’s played in high school. “Oh my gosh look at that dress”,”look at that hat”, “what a terrific thing to say”,”touch down a new puppy”!!!!! I also feel like a magnet attached to the TV and I am not one that watches a lot of TV. What are we going to do without Downton??! Julian better be working on something else, what is he ever going to do? I think you have lots to keep yourself busy, traveling the country with your sweet heart, meeting so many that love you, a trip abroad. What a beautiful life, a life you made, such a wonderful example you share. We are blessed to know you. I am so happy for you finishing your trilogy, you must be walking on clouds. Doing the calendars now would seem the icing on the cake. Can’t wait for what’s ahead, Congratulations and cheers to a wonderful job!
    OX, Wendy-Louise

  20. judy says:

    Dear Susan, Sending you warm thoughts and prayers for pretty cold weather, but not too, too cold weather or utilities going out. What good news to know there may be more Downton to come in March, I so hope that is the case. We need more Downton in our lives. One thing you might enjoy watching after Downton is Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime which is based on her Tommy and Tuppence books. The new series is set in the 1950s and stars the lead character from Call the Midwife, Jessica Raine is her name, I think…maybe. The clothes are darling in it. jep

  21. sondra fox says:

    Dear Susan & GF’s, Your commentary on DA helped me gain perspective on last night’s show. I wasn’t sure who the Dowager had visited, the woman who was apparently evil. It was Larry’s wife. Thanks. They’re bringing new characters into the show, with only TWO episodes to go? Perplexing. Let’s finish up with what we started. Sunday nights won’t be the same without DA, although the way it’s going, I’m not sure if I’ll miss it all that much. Not very exciting now. Sorry DA fans, but that’s the way I feel. I’m with you on Mary’s new beau’s hat. I was thinking the same thing about it sitting high on his head. Not very well put. I just knew you’d write to us today, after last night’s episode of DA. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      My guess is that now that his family did THIS, Lord Merton will see that staying close to them is a total joke and dump them forever. I hope. So they needed her to do the dirty work, although I don’t know why they didn’t bring back the hideous sons.

      • sondra fox says:

        Beats me too. As for Mercy St………when it first came on, I thought, “oh, good,” I can watch Mercy St on Sun. nights. But, it is way too gory for me. I wouldn’t be able to sleep after watching that, and I usually enjoy Civil War stories, “if” they aren’t too bloody & gory. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  22. Clare says:

    Really, thank you for doing these Downton summaries, Susan- it’s a laugh out loud time for me that I truly appreciate…….”a good head thickener”, I’m still laughing. Many congrats on finishing your beautiful work. You’re a gem🍭

  23. Ellen Johnson says:

    You are so fabulous, Susan! I pre-ordered your new book and can’t wait to receive it. I already have the other 2 and love them. I also love your recaps of Downton Abbey. I agree with everything you say. Even after disliking Barrows all these previous seasons, now we feel for him. I believe he’s changing his mean ways and now should be respected. And what happened to Carson? We used to like him and now we are puzzled at his behavior. It’s funny how Fellows is playing with our emotions. And the dog was so precious!
    We are having a snowstorm right now in southwest Virginia but I never get any beautiful frosty snowflakes on the windows like yours. Thank you for sharing that beauty with us. And a picture of Jack hiding behind the cushion. So funny!
    You always bring a smile to my face.
    Hope you have a great day.

    • sbranch says:

      I love watching how Julian puts words in their mouths that send us to all kinds of conclusions. He is so good at it! Thank you Ellen!

  24. pamm says:

    “They’ve sacked the captain…” when Cora said this last week, I died. Violet went down like a true captain…letting everyone know how she felt….and then leaving for different air? Perfect!!!! I loved that she gifted the dog before anyone else thought to bestow one to him to cheer him up!!!

    I, too, am worried for Barrows. Perhaps with everyone else leaving for teaching positions and farming and what-not there will be hope that he can remain where he finally admits to putting down roots.

    Of course I loved the costumes and accessories…right on point and really makes a statement as to how much wealthier they were than just us regular folk. (sigh) I am going to miss this show so much….

    Congratulations on finishing your book. I am looking forward to it. Stay warm!!! hugs to you…pamm

  25. Jan says:

    I ,too, have gotten into watching Downton this season after all the talk about it. I surprisingly caught on pretty quickly as to what was going on but had to listen very carefully. I, too, believe it or not, missed watching the same episode that you did. I completely forgot about it!:( Didn’t forget last night though. I do enjoy your take on the episodes.:) Congrats on your completion of the book and offer for a movie. How exciting!! So glad to hear about the reprint of Heart of the Home too. Have you had time to check out the newest issue of Tea Time – the British issue? Wonderful! Have a great week and enjoy some of that “free” time.

  26. Merci in Payson says:

    OMG! Susan, Susan, Susan, I am so totally excited and so very happy for you! I love the way you recap DA, brings such a smile to my face. “Dinner in Three Courses” – how appropriate! And, a movie option – wow! “Heart of the Home” with additional recipes; I have your first edition, I shall have to purchase your new printing. Oh, so much going on in your fabulous life, I am so thrilled for you, you wonderful lady who brings so much joy to all our lives! Thank you! I now look forward to your trip across the pond! I must say, you are so very blessed to have your Joe in your life who so appreciates who you are! Just love that! Continued blessings and success, so much deserved!

    • sbranch says:

      You are so nice Merci, thank you for those kind words! Sometimes I have to pinch myself, especially when I read things like this! XOXO

  27. Pat says:

    I am so in love with your books & looking forward to getting the next one!!!! I have pre-ordered so it should come fast. I sure wish you were swinging thru Florida on your book signing. I have had your books for years and just love them. Give Jack & Girl Kitty a big hug from me. Stay warm.

  28. Diane Newton says:

    I am getting so excited for the “Martha’s Vineyard”!! I am re-reading “A Fine Romance”. And may have to re-read “A Fairy Tale Girl”. My daughter pre-ordered Martha’s Vineyard for me for Mother’s Day and is bringing me to Cincinnati for your book signing! Can’t wait!! So excited!!
    It took me a long time to start watching Downton. My friends kept telling me to watch it, so I started with season 1 last spring. Now I’m so sad this is the last season. I’m with you in wanting Mary to get with Tom. And I’m so glad Violet told “Miss Meany” off! She is one feisty lady! Love her!

  29. Jena says:

    You know Ms. Branch, you are a light.

    No matter what mood I come to your blog with, I find myself lighter and brighter after spending a moment with your thoughts, observations, and amazing photos. The little moments that bring you joy and make you share are the things that tear the funk right out of my day!
    -So what if I have to have a root canal- the sky is delivering a special icy gift.
    -So what if it is Monday and we find ourselves one day off from the rest of the world- just another reason to snuggle in and eat cheese.

    Thank you for bringing my day a complete 180- much needed!

    Be well and keep shining so brightly!

  30. Heartsdesire says:

    So glad you didn’t miss Downton last night. Your recap was wonderful as always. This week was a little more exciting with the car crash, and Mary deciding to reject Henry. I think she did the right thing. Loved her in the red dress and cream/white coat and hat. I do hope Edith and her man marry. Maybe that is the finale of the show. Or, perhaps Anna having her twins. Mr. Carson is certainly getting to be quite unbearable. Also looks like he is putting on weight. His jacket seemed about to burst it’s seams. Poor Barrow, not sure what his fate will be, although, I hope he gets a good ending. He is trying so hard to overcome his previous nasty self. Only two more episodes you say. Sunday night won’t be the same without Downton. I’m thinking of buying the boxed set and replaying an episode on Sunday nights just so I don’t miss this wonderful family saga. Your window snowflakes are beautiful, reminds me of growing up in Toronto. We don’t get this sort of thing here on the south coast of Vancouver Island.

  31. salve says:

    Susan, beautiful pictures of your windows with frozen snowflakes! I had to stare at them! Yes, we stayed indoors too and watched the world outside! I really thank you for all your pictures, I can always go back and look at them again and again!

  32. Christine from CA says:

    Thanks for the lovely comments on Downton! I love your descriptions and apparel analysis. My husband was saying how he wished women still wore hats regularly. I do some but not frequently!

    Our weather is so”mild” here in So. Cal it is wearing. We need some rain! But it is Sunny California! Would like a little more weather. Love your icy windows! So pretty you don’t even need lace curtains!

    Always thanks again for your wonderful comments!

  33. freda says:

    Dear Susan As usual your commentary was spot on of Downton Abbey last night. I have to tell you I laughed out loud of your description of Marys beaus driving cap making his head look thicker. And then I read a little further and you have decided that Miss Patmore has a long lost daughter, laughing again. I am hoping that Mr.Mosely will take the teaching job and that will leave room forMr.Barrow to stay at Downton. And by the way why are we all on his side now? Compassion He did say Downton was his only home. Well anyway congratulations on finishing you book.Hope you will have some time to relax and keep fixing some of those wonderful sounding meals for Joe. Blessings to you, just one more girlfriend

  34. Debbie Noyola says:

    Can’t tell at all that you absolutely love Downton Abbey. Certainly not by the length of the blog, or maybe the mention of pork “cops”! Lol. I must be honest and tell you that I don’t watch Downton but I get equally excited over “Fixer Upper”. I just love seeing the old homes transformed from old, tired & ugly to new, refreshed & beautiful. And with the magic of television it all happens in one hour!

    I’m equally excited over your newest book coming out. I can’t wait to read it. I can’t wait to see all the lovely watercolor pictures. I can’t wait to hear about your Martha’s Vineyard adventure! I so wish I could meet you. I just know we’d be good friends. Congratulations on finishing your book. Enjoy your down time & good luck on any & all future endeavors.

  35. Ridgely says:

    I can hardly wait for the new book. The last two were enchanting, but I sense this new one is going to top them both! You are such a dedicated artist and writer, I applaud you! Your winter scene reminds me of my East Coast youth. Up here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve been basking in balmy temps most of this winter, as well as last. No snow sadly. I’m missing it…especially since I don’t have to get up at the crack of dark and go to work at the unimaginable time of 7 am. Egads. We’ve had lots of rain, though, and grey skies which gives me reason to stay inside and enjoy all the Christmas lights which I have yet to take down…I can’t bear to part with their “coziness” factor. Are there really only 2 episodes of Downton left? I can’t bear it. If I were rich, I’d buy the whole set, but alas I’ll have to wait for it to show up on Netflix or some such thing. PBS will have a hard time topping this superb series! Enjoy your new-found freedom!

  36. Jane Franks says:

    Hi Susan! I was hoping to see your review of Downton today!! I’m with you on just about everything! My favorite scene which still has me laughing out loud when I re-run it in my head is the one with Robert in bed, when Violet storms in to unleash her wrath about being kept in the dark by Cora! She’s wailing along about being cast into the outer darkness, and Robert says, “Oh, steady the bus! you are not being logical!” Then comes the priceless side splitter. . .”I HATE logic; I operate on Principle! (spit flying!!); and if given the choice I will choose Principle over logic EVERY TIME!!” (more spit flying); and then charging out the door. . .”Tell Cora I am not talking with her again until I get used to having a traitor in the family.” LOL Yes, there is no one like Maggie to play a scene like that!!! And I agree, it was her night! And she sure cut Miss Cruel down to size, didn’t she! Good job, Granny! Re: Henry Talbot, I did feel sorry for him to lose his friend, but there is something about him I don’t like. I am very glad Mary dumped him; I hope it is permanent. I think we are going to see a nastier side of him come out. I could be wrong. Edith’s situation is getting more complicated! She’ll have to tell Bertie the truth eventually, which will mean Mary finding out, and who knows what that will lead to! I am so happy for Mr. Mosley. He deserves this break and will be a wonderful teacher. Mrs. Patmore’s “plan” is ingenious! The elegant butler laboring over the meal was priceless!! Mrs. Huges/Carson did look like she was eating canary and enjoying it. No one deserved it more! Let’s hope Carson never finds out about her “injury”! I do feel sorry for Barrow. He doesn’t deserve such scorn. True he has been nasty in the past, but to quote the Spirit of Christmas Past (A Christmas Carol), he has had some “reclamation” in his life. I hope it ends well for him.

    I’m so happy for you about your book! I know how you feel! I’ll be crying, too if/when I ever finish mine!! Such a great accomplishment . . . and relief! And “Dinner in Three Courses”!! Perfect!! We always eat Dessert first! Brilliant!! (Or Bril as they say in Oxford)!

    Finally, thank you so much for posting the frosted window panes!! I was instantly catapulted back to my childhood! Our bedroom window (my sister and mine) was just over our beds, and I so vividly recall winter mornings waking to see those amazing mosaics! They always looked like feathers to me, and I imagined that Jack Frost had been there in the night with his big paintbrush and a frost-feather in his hat painting my window!! I would gaze, and gaze at the intricate designs; it was just magic and pulled me away to my winter fantasy world where I just about constantly lived from December to March!! I would stand in my bed and place a little finger against the frost and till small frost “polka dots” were formed over the masterpiece, adding my “artistic” touches to those of my friend Jack!! Thanks for this memory!!
    Great to hear from you as always! Jane xo

    P.S. Oh, I ordered Isle of Dreams last week! Can’t wait!! 🙂

  37. Michele P. says:

    Hello Susan!
    Just found your new blog and so enjoyed it! Aren’t the costumes this year just so outstandingly gorgeous?! It seems like every scene produces more lavish outfits than the one before. I think Julien Fellowes is trying to soften the blow that this fabulous series is coming to an end in just two more episodes! How can that be when we are all such ardent fans of this historic series? With only two episodes left, there seems like a lot of unfinished business that needs attending to. What will happen to Mary and Henry Talbot? Andy, poor Edith, will she divulge the true identity of Marigold to Bertie? Of course, I have always hoped that Michael Greggson would suddenly reappear at the 11th hour! So, that is what I am hoping for and I know you are hoping for Tom and Mary to turn into a couple by the end. It won’t be long until we find out.
    Congrats on finishing your new book. You must feel so proud of this accomplishment! You deserve a special trip to celebrate this feat and heading back to England sounds perfect!!
    Watch out for the mixed precipitation tonight and into tomorrow.
    Cheers, Michele – Woodstock, Vt.

  38. Jane Franks says:

    P.P.S. (and this is way too long, forgive me for hogging so much space!) I wondered about the guy in the bushes, too! We’ll all stay tuned!!

  39. Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

    Wonderful recap. It was such a great show last night. All except the car racing. I could not help but see that Tom was ‘right nearby’ Mary during every thing. Mr. Steady. Mr. Reliable. We’ll see. Violet was perfect. No one beats her at her own game! Her puppy for Robert was perfect. I’m still getting goosebumps! And Mrs. Hughes pulling a prank on her know it all husband. Perfect! Notice I’ve used “perfect” three times? Perhaps with Mr. Mosley becoming a teacher there will open up a spot for Barrow. It would be step down or two, but he could stay at the home he loves. (( )). Stay warm and cozy in Smallville. Congrats on wrapping up the book and getting all your ducks in a row so you can play in the spring. We are all ready to go with you.

  40. Kathie Burton says:

    Susan, thank you for the Downton reviews. You catch things I miss, so now I watch each two or three times. Maybe with Mr. Mosely leaving to teach, Barrow can stay? I think Carson needs to be taken down a peg or two also, with his uppity behavior toward others. On a fairy note, those Jack Frost paintings on your windows are lovely. We had them in the house I grew up in. So fun to lie on our beds and see animals in the frost! Keep warm, we have been cold here, too.

  41. Jean says:

    So happy to hear you finished “our” book! I hope you are able to now enjoy a little Sue time . It’s been bitter cold here in the UP of Michigan….cozy soup or stew weather. So happy to hear that there will be a brand new printing of Heart of the Home…it’s the cookbook I turn to over and over again. I purchased the book many years ago in a little shop in Georgetown, Colorado. Beautiful gingerbread trimmed houses there☺️ My copy is splattered with cooking stains and the dust jacket is quite tattered…it has been loved to the point where I will be ordering a new copy for myself and one for each of my daughters! Thank you Sue for your wonderful books…they have given me more joy than you’ll ever know❣

  42. Gill Smith says:

    Oh Susan,I Love to read your comments on Downton. I can’t wait for you to see the last episode, and see how it all falls into place!!!
    Congratulations on finishing the book, can’t wait to read it. Can you sign my books for me at Septembers picnic in the park?? Love the frosty windows, beautiful photos.

  43. Chris Wells From Knickerbocker, W. TX says:

    First off, as I sat down to watch Dowton last night, my first thought was, should we call Susan?! So glad you didn’t forget. Your recap is 100 times better than the NY Times recap I just read by Louis Bayard. No offense Louis, it probably is just not your cup of tea!
    What a RICH episode! The Dowager Grantham exited with a bang! She had the best lines last night. And Mrs Hughes and Mrs. Patmore certainly brought Mr Carson down a notch! It was perfect! Story lines beginning to get sweetly tied up….except Mary and Edith. Edith is going to have to tell Bertie the whole truth….and then we will see what he is made of. We are through with the race car driver…didn’t like him! What is going to become of Mary? And then there was a new puppy! I almost cried!
    Sunday nights are going to be lonely…..very lonely! My granddaughter hooked me up with Netflix and told me when Downton is over that I should watch The Gilmore Girls. Hmmm. We shall see. I think I will start dreaming about the Susan Branch Movie!

    Looking forward to May and a finished book and June, seeing you in Austin. Thanks for another great Downton recap! See you right here next Monday! 🙂

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

    Only 2 more eppisodes left of Downton Abbey? Oh how sad!!! The past couple of weeks I’ve been wondering just how many more there were. I may just have to buy the DVDs so that I can watch them again. My husband would like to buy them.

    I’m happy that you have your book all finished now. You did a good job! Now, it’s time to relax and rest, but wait!…. You have do to next year’s calendar. 🙂

    I hope that your Valentine’s Day was a good one for you and Joe. Too bad that the weather didn’t cooperate with you to go someplace romantic to celebrate. But, staying home can be just as romantic.

    We saw the “Four Tenors” on Saturday night. Their voices were awesome! Had a good time telling stories and fun with the audience. I didn’t want them to quit singing. I would recommend anyone to go see them if at all possible.

    Carol M

  45. Darlene Messina says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just looked at the Book People Web site for information about your book signing in Austin TX. They are requiring that Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams be purchased at their store to have it signed. I pre-ordered two copies of your book on your site when it was first available and before I knew of this requirement. I called The Tattered Cover in Denver to ask if this is a requirement at your signing there and they said it is not. I was planning to travel to Austin for this signing but am disappointed that they will not allow books pre-ordered/purchased on your site at the event. Can you let me know about canceling my pre-order so I can have the book signed in Austin?
    This is quite frustrating.
    Thanks for your help.

  46. Debby says:

    Loved the puppy scene! My puppy Emma looks just like her! Edith has got to tell people that Marigold is her daughter! Also noticing that Lord Grantham’s personality has changed a bit since he was sick, from last Sunday’s episodes off color remark about the people wanting to see Lady Mary in the bath, to telling his sister to shut up at the dining table, what is that about? How about if Thomas becomes Edith’s butler? That could work. Not to worry, I can just see Tom telling Mary she should marry car guy, but Mary telling Tom she loves him. And Mrs Patmore telling Daisy not to be jealous of Mr. Mason’s fatherly attentions. Are there two more episodes? Okay correct me if I am wrong, but I have been following you so since A Fine Romance came out, and my calculations say that you have misplaced TWO days, last Sunday and then the missing calendar day???? Hummmm? Last question, in my mind I see a picture that you painted of a little white labish type dog with a red collar, sitting next to a black and white kitty. It’s on a calendar or in one of my your books, I think. Not on your blog. Do you remember where it is located. I have been trying to find it. It looks just like my two petty pets. Your friend in arf, Debby

  47. Marian Yeckinevich says:

    I cannot face the rest of the cold weather without Downton. Whatever are we to do? I am so happy that Edith is finally coming into her own and that maybe a little happiness will find it’s way into her life. As for Mary will she ever find herself and decide what she wants to do with her life. She has only two or three episodes to make it happen. Do you think it will have a happy ending for everyone? One thing puzzles me Dear Susan, that you think Barrows is handsome. Very surprising.
    Cannot wait for the Fairytale Princess and all the other wonderful things you do for all the Girlfriends. You are wonderful and really spoil us. Marian

  48. Ann says:

    Love to read your take on Downton because it is exactly like mine. Loved last episode, laughing and crying at various scenes. We cheered when Mosley passed his exam. We are all so proud of you and your success with your trilogy. So looking forward to MV Isle of Dreams.

  49. Susan P. says:


    First CONGRATULATIONS on finishing the book…I like the “trilogy” theme….and soon you will be done with the calendars and FREE to roam. Job well done! Loved the snowflakes on your window…here in SUMMERTIME SO. CALIFORNIA…I really appreciate those snow scenes…MY girl friend in AZ. up in the Mts…sends me pictures of their snow also….AAAHHHHHH so refreshing during this heat wave..but I will enjoy what we have now…for we do not know when the RAIN WILL COME NOR DO THE WEATHER PEOPLE. hahahaha.

    Now to the important things in Life ..DOWNTON I REALLY LOVED all of Violet’s outfits….she looked extremely beautiful in all of them. Loved the way she handle that little Miss Cruel person (I am being nice). My favorite part..Mr. Carson cooking dinner….I was giggling all the way through it…and loved Mrs. Hughes looks and smiles. I am very lucky I have a husband that likes to cook also…we share the adventure! This episode had allot of little hints of things to come??????? Wow the last episode will have to be, for sure, two hours long!!! Still feel for Mr. Barrow…shot down by everyone…and not even a thank you for the help with the reading. …. I will be looking forward to next Sunday Night and the new book… So, enjoy the FREEDOM (somewhat) thanks for a nice post. Love, Susan P.

  50. Lindy Hebel says:

    Great re-cap on Downton Ms. SB! My husband and I got a great laugh over the plot to teach Mr. Carlson a thing about Domestic Duty. hahahahahaa!
    Our plan for life after DA is to pull out the Northern Exposure collection and start at the beginning to fall in love with Cicely, Alaska all over again. I have missed Ruth Ann and Chris in the Morning. Time to dust them off.
    Hoping your book trail gets you back in the West Michigan area, but Chicago is only 3 hours away. Looking forward to the book!
    Lindy in Holland MI

    • Julie H from Michigan says:


      There is a Northern Exposure collection?! I have looked for it for many years….I even checked Netflix. That was another good series that my husband and I would look forward to during the week. Where did you get the series?

  51. carmel says:

    I look forward to your Downton summaries as much as I do the show each week. I had the same thought when the puppy arrived – I will really miss this series and this is one of the reasons why I enjoy this show so much. Something good hearted happens just in time. I also loved the conversation that Mrs. Patmore had with Daisy about how no one can replace love and relationships. Mrs. Patmore has been so patient with Daisy’s insecurities and I love the smile Daisy had after their conversation – she gets it! I’ve definitely warmed up to Henry but still think Mary might not end up with anyone before the series ends. As the series moves along I truly see Tom as Mary’s “brother.” We’ll see. I will never tire of Mr. Knightly’s proposal to Emma. Those scenes take my breath away each time. And telling Emma that they can live at her father’s home so she can still care for him- true love. Most of all, congratulations again on your completed book. I look forward to reading it! The “end” of Jack sneaking behind the couch cushion is precious. New Hope, PA may be the closest. I’m checking into it to see where it’s located and what day of the week your signing takes place.

  52. Mary S. says:

    I agree on Cora’s and Mary’s gorgeous outfits!! Absolutely stunning!!!
    You’ve really said it all with your excellent comments, but one thing I want to add: I LOVE Isobel’s priceless facial expressions, I always laugh out loud and point (“Look at her face!” I say out loud to no one, because my husband can’t hear me), especially when she and Lady Violet are talking!! They are so great together! Downton truly does get better all the time!! When it is done, I know I will be watching my DVDs all the time!
    As usual, I am envying you your wonderful winter!! *sigh* I think I live in the wrong place!
    I will be seeing you when you come to Morro Bay!! So excited!! xoxox
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  53. Jean Burns says:

    Susan, I enjoyèd your summary of DA. Violet’s “hissy-fit”, over the hospital merger and Cora’s new position, was so amusing. I love this series and will miss it. My granddaughter Erin and I are looking forward to your book signing at RJ Julia in CT. I will make the pork chops recipe this winter. Sounds delicious! Jean😊

  54. Marilyn H says:

    Yes I believe Mr Carson got his just desserts. Is that right ? He got what he deserves. Don’t mess with a woman and her cooking. I remarked to a friend as we watched the show (we text occasionally during it) what a hideous statue by the phone when Mary was talking to Henry. Did you see it ? Body of an animal and head of a woman with bare breasts. What in God’s name is that ? I declare.
    Anyway thank you for the light moment. I am feeling a bit down for my poor kitty is at hospital for he’s been sick for the last few days. Come to find out he may be diabetic. Time and more tests will tell. I never knew. Well good day to you. Perhaps another “girlfriend” and I could catch you at your Danville, CA appearance this May. We are going to see if we can do that. Til next time pleasant dreams and stay toasty by that fire !

  55. Cynthia Avalos says:

    I love reading your comments on Downton and they often mirror my own thoughts. I’m wondering if you are aware of the trend in coloring books for adults. I would sure love to have a coloring book of your drawings to color myself. I just got a Mary Englebreit one, but would really like one from you!

  56. C.Mary says:

    Hi Susan,

    I can’t decide if I was more excited about last night’s Downton because it was so awesome or because I couldn’t wait for your recap because of how awesome it was!
    Finding lots of icy drafts here too, single digits on the thermometer. Stay safe & warm. PS Did you say 2 more episodes???…say it isn’t so!!

  57. I knew you would not forget it was Sunday! But I am alarmed by that man in the bushes watching and writing……I think, fear, that it is against the law to serve food in a B&B which was not cooked on the premises and that something bad will happen….How many episodes are in Season Six? I want to know! And more than almost anything I want to be reading your new book!

  58. I thought that hat on Henry was ridiculous-looking, too……it made me think of Charlie Chaplin! Which he is definitely NOT!

    I can’t believe I somehow missed reading The Fairy Tale Girl, but I got my local library to get it for me and finished it in 2 days. LOVED it, I’m roughly your age, and it was so fun to read! Loved it so much, I went and ordered a copy for my very own (which is a rare, rare thing for this retired girl!) I know I’ll read it another 20 times in the years to come, and can’t wait now for it’s sequel! Have got The Learned Owl book signing on my calendar, too, in May!

    Those pork chops with sweets and apples are just the thing……found my Heart of the Home with the recipe inside and showed it to my honey to cook sometime soon this week! It’s frigid here in Ohio, too, so it’s the perfect winter meal!

    And now we see why Daisy was being so strange! She’s back in my good graces again, and I’m hoping for 1 big happy family with Mrs. P and her father-in-law and her! So sad to know that there are only 2 more episodes……what will we do?

  59. Barbara says:

    Love your stories, love your artwork … thank you for sharing your special talents with all of us! ♥

  60. Brenda Caldwell says:

    The snowflakes in the windows are beautiful! I especially like the one with the church in the background…Perfect! We have all ice so I am stuck inside, but I’ve been busy snapping photos of all the trees with the beautiful iridescent decorations that nature bestowed upon them : )

  61. Annie in IL says:

    The New York Times TV critic or whatever refers to us Downton-ites’ as ‘Abbots”!! I think I like that!!!

  62. Kathy says:

    Have you watched “Home Fires”? It isn’t Downton but it is fabulous. England 1938 prewar, small village fascinating story moving into wartime. First season fall of 2015. Second season fall 2016! A must see!

    • sbranch says:

      I think I did see that. Mean pig man treats his poor wife like a slave? I was looking forward to him getting his just rewards! I’m reminded of the song Earl’s Got To Die.

  63. Kay Bennett says:

    So glad you can see the light at the end of the “book tunnel.” You truly are an amazing person. Reading your books and following your blogs are such a pleasure.
    I love your recap of Downton. Last night’s episode was full of new and interesting tidbits of finishing the storyline in mostly a positive way. I still want Tom and Mary to get together. I worry about Mrs. Patmore and what that man is up to, hiding in the bushes. Downton has really drawn us all into their family. I will miss them so much, however, I’m glad to see how the difficult times in their lives are are being resolved in a positive manner. Hopefully, Barrow’s life will find turn out better for him. So sad now.
    Thanks for those beautiful window photos. Never realized snow crystallized on windows like that.

    • sbranch says:

      I think Downton has brought us closer too. I just wish I would have started putting in my 2 cents and asking for yours a WHOLE lot sooner! 🙂

  64. Carol Horlock says:

    I resolve to buy EACH of your wonderful books this year (or get one or two as gifts….Mother’s Day is coming!)! I’ve purchased A Fine Romance TWICE, only to give one to my sweet Mom and the other ( a couple of months later and a separate purchase to replace the other one) to my wonderful Mother-in-law who is British! Needless to say, they both adored them!
    I am putting this in writing which MUST mean that I shall make this happen THIS year!! So looking forward to the three-course meal! Love your blog, love your posts, love your products, love you! Thank you for sharing yourself in such a wonderful way! I feel about your blog the way that YOU feel about Downton Abbey! ❤️ Carol

  65. Sally says:

    Its so much fun to see all the special moments from Downton through your eyes to mine. Goo going ole girl!

  66. Kendra says:

    Long live the Countess Dowager of Grantham !!!! She makes my Sunday nights…..and week !!!! I JUST LOVE HER.
    Congratulations on finishing your book. I look forward to reading your story. My mom and I have always enjoyed your art work and I especially love the charming quotes you leave. THEY MAKE ME HOPEFUL AND HAPPY!

  67. Linda H (from northern IN) says:

    Hi Susan, Loved your Downton recap as usual! I hope Violet is back from her journey for the last episodes! It wouldn’t be right to end the series without her. Let’s hope that Mary will see the light with Tom. Maybe he was just making sure that she really didn’t want Henry before he makes his move! Mr. Carson’s cooking experience was too funny–I guess he got his just desserts! And the scenes with Mr. Barrow are sure helping us to see him in a new light. I felt so bad for him that I had to look him up on the internet to be assured that his “real life” is happier! Sounds like it is!
    Looking forward to May and your book tour. My girlfriends and I have tickets for your book-signing and tea in Illinois!

  68. Connie Leach says:

    I always enjoy your recap of Downton– it’s amazing how important its been to all of us. Been wondering what could happen good for Barrow– surely Julian knows we NEED something good for Barrow. Also love the icy windows and snow views– miss it all now that we’re living in the Florida panhandle. Have a kitty who looks like your boy, the very persnickety Ruby Dee— adopted from the shelter with former owner bad behaviors I’m afraid, but she’s coming around.

    Congrats on finishing everything! What a wonderful feeling!

    Thanks for the happy reading..

  69. Kerrie Foley says:

    Hi Susan! I can’t wait for the new book!! You must be thrilled to have some of your time back! I had my 2 grand babies for a sleepover a few days ago. Maggie is 5 and Molly is 4 and I was looking at your blog while they were drawing pictures. They saw pictures of Girl and Jack and were SO excited because they are in many of the stories I tell them on the way to their school in the mornings when I babysit them. They sit quiet as mice as I drive. You and Joe and Martha’s Vineyard and the ferry are in them too! They each made a book with their own story about Girl and Jack along with illustrations and were thrilled that you were an author and illustrator just like them!! I asked them if they would like to send you a picture and they are eagerly looking forward to our next drawing session so don’t be surprised if you get a wee bit of snail mail from 2 wee little budding authors and illustrators. I’m sure they will grow up loving your blog and books as much as I do. Stay warm! It was -9 here yesterday in Wickford! Brrrrrr!!!!!!

  70. Rose Utterback says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing you in Danville, CA. Love your blogs;esp. photos of the kitties.

  71. sylvia in seattle says:

    I laughed, I cried — at your Downty commentary. SO much fun. Those cars – I have an old picture (1920’s) of my Mom and Dad leaning on a crude version of one of those cars that he built from a kit, my Mom in a more humble version of the headband craze. Dread the end of all this, but then it will only be a few weeks till your new book shows up in my mailbox 🙂 Whee. In the interim I could get ALL my old family pictures finally organized — yes I could. Hmmm, I’m REALLY going to work on this for sure. This is a worthy goal and I’m REALLY going to do it this time, yes yes yes I am. It will inspire more family stories to be written . . . wish me luck! I’m so happy you’ve finished the book so you can relax a bit. Must be a wonderful feeling.

  72. peg says:

    Yippee! Congratulations on finishing your memoir! We cannot wait! May will be here before we know it (half of February has disappeared already! Oh, how excited you must be!!! And, to have Heart of the Home reprinted with more pages! Fabulous! Take a deep breath and enjoy your winter. It is 80 degrees here; humid and warm. El Nino was a bust, I think. We so need rain! Looking forward to seeing you soon! xoxoxox peg

    • sbranch says:

      I think we will have it in the Studio and ready to go out to our Girlfriends first, in April!!! That’s what I think! Praying for CA rain Peg!!

  73. Ellen says:

    Congratulations on finishing your book! Can’t wait to read it. I bought the Downton DVD so I know who the photographer in the bushes is but of course I can’t tell you. I will only tell you to bring your tissues to the finale. It’s not sad, just emotional and sad for it to be over. Have a good day!

  74. Barbie Prince says:

    Hi Susan! I recently finished reading “The Fairy Tale Girl.” I grew up in that era too and married ( I thought for life) someone who was very handsome and charismatic but broke my heart. I moved just 3 states away and started a new life! Now I am happily remarried and counting all my blessings! Can’t wait to read your next book! P. S. Love Downton Abbey!!!

  75. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    Please tell us which program you’ll be reviewing after Downton Abbey ends, because I like reading your synopsis as much as watching the program.

    I still haven’t been able to find when The Golden Age will start, but I hope you have plans to tune in to (and review) that series as well.

    • sbranch says:

      I do if it ever gets here! If I get hooked on something I’ll let you know. But I’m not that easy normally, very picky TV watcher! Easy to love Downty!

  76. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    I just can’t wait to get the new book. I love your windows** why I wonder don’t my windows do that? we have cold air coming out of places too, I don’t mind. I love the winter
    happy day Susan, hope your Valentines day was magic

    • sbranch says:

      We’ve had REALLY low temps, like 10 degrees plus wind. Maybe that’s it. We don’t always have those frosty windows.

  77. Margie Orr says:

    Your beautiful home looks like Dr Zhivago. Loved your cat nip review of Downton Abbey. I still think Mary needs Tom…he is her rock! ❤️❤️❤️

    • sbranch says:

      I agree. Otherwise they will have to wait until they are 84, after their Julian-arranged spouses are gone, to marry and finally live the good life!

  78. Celia Reusch says:

    So, here is my fantasy life: Mr. Molsley gets a job as a teacher and leaves the whole for Barrow to fill … and he gets to stay forevermore.
    Edith works up the courage to tell her Sweetheart that Marigold is her daughter BEFORE snotty and miffed Mary can spill the beans.
    Lord Merton kicks the kids out of his house “until I and my love are dead” and they have to face the consequences of their dire hearts.
    Tom marries Edith’s editor. I know. It’s not Tom and Mary forever, but at least he’s happily ever after with someone who is sweet.
    Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Mason marry and work the farm and bed and breakfast into Tea Time Magazine fame with fresh produce every day for breakfast AND tea.
    Mr. Carson gets a clue.
    The Bates’ have a houseful of children and never have to see the police again.
    Violet comes home sans Miss trouble maker as she latches onto some rich dowager in the South of France who figures her out within three months and she ends up having to work in a kitchen as a dish washer.
    Mary marries Evelin and settles down.
    That’s all I can think of right now, and I’m with you about what in the world we’ll do when the gaping hole of Sunday night looms forever. It was tolerable knowing that another season of Downton would eventually come, but what do we do now? And commercial-free on PBS!!!

  79. Amy Warren says:

    Susan..not sure if you picked up on it but in a recent episode, Mary voiced a concern that Barrow would be leaving because he’s so good with the children. I have a feeling he might get a job as the kid’s tutor. That’s my hope at least. I can’t imagine Mary will be thrown together with anyone BUT Tom at this point. I also can’t imagine Edith’s beau throwing her over because of Marigold. Loved Mrs. Hughes creative revenge on Mr. Carson..but who is the mystery man in the bushes??!! Stay tuned.

    • sbranch says:

      I did notice she said that . . . I’d like him to have something where he feels needed. I think it will bring out the best in him.

  80. Gina P. from NY says:

    Great recap Susan! I agree that the costumes/clothing this season have been superb. Mary looked especially gorgeous in the last few episodes. Right on about Henry’s hat. Just didn’t work, right? But his build reminds me so much of Jimmy Stewart – tall, those long, gangly legs, and since I love Jimmy Stewart so much, I think I will have to love Henry too. Besides, he seems like a truly nice man who loves our Lady Mary after all. Loved Violet in this episode too. Though Violet can spew out zingers of the highest order and though she can sometimes seem harsh and abrupt, as we have seen time and time again (when she has come to the rescue of upstairs and downstairs folk alike) she does have a heart. And let’s not forget she came to Isobel’s rescue even after the hospital battle they had just been through! She put that witchy woman right in her place! I’m with you on the Isobel/Lord Merton pairing. I would much rather see her with Dr. Clarkson than Lord Merton, if it has to be someone. Love the doggy too!

    As far as Edith, just as you wish that there would be a Mary/Tom pairing, I was hoping somehow Gregson would be reincarnated, but alas, no such luck. Bertie does seem like a good match for her, and I hope it all works out. She just needs to be honest with him about Marigold pronto!

    I am happy about Mrs. Patmore and her B&B, and loved her for intervening in the Mr. Carson/Mrs. Hughes debacle. I’m with you – Mr. Carson is getting on my last nerve. How Mrs. Hughes has held herself back from dumping her cold dinners (remember, plates were not heated) on his head, I’ll never know. This was a great comeback on her part, and hopefully, it will teach him a lesson! I am also getting fed up with him picking on poor Mr. Barrow every five minutes. Yes, Carson, we know he needs to find another job. Give it a rest!

    Congratulations on finishing your book! I can’t wait to read it! I am going to try to make your book signing in Connecticut in May! It will be my honor and pleasure to finally meet you Susan.

    Just one question on that yummy sounding pork chop recipe: do you use boneless pork chops, or bone in? Can’t wait to try it. Stay warm and well…

  81. Love your “Downty” summaries! It is so wonderful to see the photos and to be able to really appreciate the costumes and your view of it all! Thank you!

  82. Cathy says:

    I so enjoy your posts , so thoughtful , warm and fun. It’s so grey here in Seattle today that
    Your fireplace looks like just the ticket to brighten up the day.
    I’m getting a teapot out and grab a book too

  83. Karen says:

    I am overflowing with frustration and anxiety at the impending end of Downton…oh, dear! I don’t know how Mr. Fellowes will adequately give Mary’s life some calming love resolution in just 2 episodes!! But, I shall forgive him since he gave us her exquisite gold and turquoise dress at the dinner of singles…unbelievably striking. I’m considering a bedroom/bathroom redo in that color vein now…just WOW! And, I am overjoyed that the poor Mr. Molesley was given such praise for his test scoring, being better than that of some previous “Cambridge scholars”. I wanted to give him a standing ovation for that accomplishment. Before this season began I coaxed my husband into watching the first season…and his precious English Literature minored-self fell in love too. We jointly “binge-watched” the following seasons and made it just in time to herald in this final season.Though my 18 year old son has permanently taken away my husband’s man-card for doing so, it has been so fun sharing this experience with him. He thinks that the mysterious man stalking Mrs. Patmore’s B@B is a detective that will expose her first guests as adulterers. But, I just don’t see how that will add to any of the current story lines…and I’m not sure I like another mystery being thrown in at this late date. There must surely be some sensible tie-in somewhere??
    Thanks for providing fun and beauty to a climate that surely can benefit from both.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve seen such interesting color combinations on Downton. Another reason I love it! Ha ha ha, no more “man card!”

  84. Kathy Phenix says:

    I am very happy for you–“feeling FREE”. I used to feel that way after finishing college exams every semester and then after passing my nursing boards. What a relief!
    Love your narrative on Downton. I couldn’t believe that Mary was heartless enough to dump Henry on the very same day that he lost his best friend. Heartless!! Love the new puppy. Do you think they smeared dog food on Robert’s face or was it great acting or just natural puppy-love? Priceless.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that was a double whammy for poor Henry. Smeared dog food. But of course those dogs will lick faces any time any place!

  85. Liska Janelle Moody says:

    Come on down to Austin EARLY. We are having a whole week of temps in the 80s.
    See ya at Book People.

  86. Diane says:

    My daughter and I just LOVE our Sunday nights with Downton and are NOT looking forward to the end:(

    Psst…the creepy guy in the bushes at Mrs Patmore…I think it may have something to do with the guests at her bed and breakfast. Perhaps the doctor and his guest are up to “no good”. Just a thought.

  87. Susan Morgon ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

    Done! Oh, joy – what wonderful news! Hugs to you, Susan! Can’t wait to get a copy , and my fingers are still crossed that I’ll be able to make it to Hudson, Ohio. Here’s hoping!
    What an episode. Mrs. Patmore shines, doesn’t she? She helped put Mr. Carson in his place, and then gave Daisy a much-needed lesson in math. Love is multiplied, not divided. Loved that! The sneaky man in the bushes might be up to no good, but he hasn’t long to get up too much mischief. ( I hope! ) Wasn’t it nice that Mrs. Hughes tried to give Tom a bit of comfort? I’m about ready to give up on Tom too, since I think we just met his new love interest. I couldn’t help but notice, though, when Mary was breaking up with Henry, Tom was waiting in the shadow. He alluded to Henry as the right man, but – maybe not. Still, now that Henry has experienced the loss of a friend, he might gain some added depth and be good for Mary. Here’s hoping Edith’s story has its own happy ending. Violet’s scenes never disappoint. She certainly is a shrewd lady! I adore her character. During the dinner conversation, I noticed a mention about one of the old homes being taken down with something else going up in its place, which was something I heard on Secrets of Highclere Castle. How sad that some of them were destroyed. It’s wonderful that Highclere remains.
    Jack Frost did beautiful work on your windows! Hope you enjoy the coming week enjoying the coziness of home!

    • sbranch says:

      I heard that Julian is very much into the preservation of these old homes. He certainly has guaranteed the survival of Highclere! One more reason to love him. Thank you, Susan!

  88. Heather Field says:

    Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Calendars! Will there be any new formats for 2017?! (I get excited. I’m a calendar girl…)

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, there will. There will be a family planner wall calendar, and a couple of very interesting magnet note pads.

  89. Suellen Dehnke says:

    I keep saying that hat makes Henry look like Stan Laurel. Poor choice I think. And I’m still pulling for Isobel to marry Dr. Clarkson. She’s such a strong personality she’ll walk all over Dickie Merton, not in a mean way, but just the same. I think she and Clarkson have much more in common and I know he’s still holding a flame for her.

    • sbranch says:

      That is all so muddled for me. I can’t tell what’s going to happen. I seen no particular yearning coming from her!

  90. Jeanne DeShazer says:

    I am SO worried about Mr. Barrow. Like all of you I’ve begun to see change in him. Hopefully his only caring friend Baxter will reach out to him before he does himself in! And Mrs. Hughes tries, though she needs to just tell Mr. Carson to knock it off! He is so rigid, I’m hoping in the last two weeks of this he’ll loosen up just a tad, and recognize he’s being cruel. He can be so darling sometimes, what is his problem?

  91. Sally Jenks Roth says:

    I love the frosty windows too… Congratulations on finishing your book, Susan! Well done, I can’t wait to see my copy. You always make me smile and thankyou.
    PS: the disappearing kitty tail is so amusing😏

  92. Kathryn Rehrig says:

    Susan, I live in the Finger Lake region of NY but I’m sure you could hear me laughing all the way across the Sound in Martha’s Vineyard! Every Monday, I can’t wait to get your take on our wonderful Downton Abbey as we are definitely on the same page. I am praying with everything I can cross that Mary and Tom end up together…it would make the perfect ending, Julian–please don’t let us down!! Whatever are we going to do without our favorite people, even if they are just created characters? Can’t wait for your new book to continue where you left us all off at the end the FTG, which was absolutely fabulous. See you in May in New Hope, PA. Stay warm. Before you know it, snow drops will be popping up!

  93. Bonnie Porro says:

    I am wondering since Mr. Mosley got a teaching job if there will be a position for Mr. Barrow. I hope so as he is actually sort of a sad soul and since Downton is the only place he has ever put roots down, I hope there is some way to keep him on. I believe he has truly changed from a troublemaker into someone who cares more for others. Since Mary likes him I hope he will get a second chance even though Mr. Carson wants him gone.
    Hope you have a great week! Spring is coming and it is 70 degrees in the DFW area today with lots of sun.

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, Mary to the rescue!

    • Julie V from Springfield, MO says:

      Bonnie, I agree with your thoughts about Mr. Barrow and hope that Mosley takes the teacher job- why wouldn’t he? That way Mr. Barrow can stay at Downton.

      • sbranch says:

        I’m sure Moseley is too old for Daisy, but sometimes when I see them together, I wonder. They are both so curious and interested in the wider world.

  94. Melissa q says:

    Oh Susan I love your recaps, it is almost as good as sitting and watching with you! There is so much to tie up before the sob , end that I can’t believe it will all be resolved. So stay warm..can’t wait for the book to arrive at my home (with frozen pipes in our bathroom too). Happy days ahead!

  95. Sandi in So Cal says:

    Susan,Susan, Susan,please forget about Tom and Mary,she doesn’t deserve him!and Henry is so nice and she should thank her lucky stars that he wants her…and his head isn’t all that bad!!
    I’ve seen all the episodes, bought the dvd, but I wont tell !! I enjoy how you point out the fashions.They truly are beautiful and that’s where the dvd comes in handy..go back and look as many times as you like. I grew up in RI but I never noticed the windows with frozen flakes on them. So beautiful and I do miss the east coast. On the pre order list for the new book, can’t wait. Love your writing and your drawings…delightful!

  96. Daena in NJ says:

    I enjoyed the recap (as always) and am also happy the book is finished – looking forward to that! I’m still hoping for Mary and Tom and won’t give up until it’s over. The bright young editor is worrisome, though! Stay warm and toasty and enjoy being indoors. We’re having lovely snow here right now although it will be turning to rain in a few hours. Boo hoo!

  97. Pattie says:

    I was thinking last night just how much I’m going to miss Downton and how impossible it seems that everything will be tied up so neatly (read: to my satisfaction) in e episodes that remain. I fear the man in the bushes is the tax man and that there is trouble ahead for Mrs. Patmore. Just a guess.

  98. Donna Barulich says:

    Oh Susan! I have enjoyed your work since I found your first cookbook in a tiny bookstore in my little town of Burlingame, Ca. Many of your recipes have become family favorites and birthday requests. I can hardly wait for this new book. Congratulations! And thank you for many years of pleasure and fun..,

  99. Beth Ferraro says:

    Susan, I was so excited to see that you may have a book signing at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC. I see from your schedule that the date is yet to be confirmed, but you can bet I will be checking back for a date so I can plan to meet you there as it is a pleasant drive to Asheville from the Charlotte area where I live. Thank you for bringing me so much pleasure with your books, blogs and so many other expressions of your creative talents. Enjoy your FREE, FREE, FREE time as you have certainly earned it.

    • sbranch says:

      We’ll be at Malaprops on Monday, the 27th of June . . . at 7 pm. Kellee is so busy with the book she hasn’t had time to update the schedule yet. Call the bookstore for more details. Thank you Beth!

      • Mimi says:

        I, too, am thrilled you are coming to Asheville, NC….hopefully, you and Joe can take the time to visit the Biltmore House and Grove Park….lots of wonderful history in these beautiful mountains….anytime available, you and Joe can stop in and have lunch in our garden!

  100. Valarie A Whitcomb says:

    Susan – If you’re going to Scotland (I think I’ve gotten the idea that this is the plan!), you must say “oot and aboot” – instead of out and about! Got to get with the lingo!
    Eagerly awaiting the new book! And so glad Heart of the Home is being republished.
    All the best!

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