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. Rosalina says:

    Love your recaps. Henry is not for Mary, Tom is!!! Mr Barrow needs something good to happen in his life. Carson and Mrs Hughes are so funny, he got what he deserved. Love what’s going on with daisy, mrs patmore and the rest of them. What a cute dog. Granny hit the nail on the head. Am going to miss all of them 😥 Congratulations on your book. I have collected all your cook books. God’s blessings on your new tour. Love Jack 😊

  2. Ann says:

    Mary and Tom! Noooooooooooooooo! Poor Tom! Way off course – but of course (as I’m sure you’ll have guessed) all’s well that ends well. My recommendation for the period fix is War & Peace – absolutely brilliant and visually stunning. Emotionally draining though!

    • sbranch says:

      My girlfriend Elizabeth recommended that to me just yesterday! We haven’t noticed it offered yet, but I’ll keep my eye out for it. Thank you Ann!

  3. Susan, Thanks so much for sharing the frozen snowflakes on the windows, where Jack Frost has been sprinkling his magic! I do miss real winter, down here in Phoenix! But I have to add that having the front door open to fresh air is divine right now! I have put aside my snowflake ornament making, and am embroidering a project! I haven’t done embroidery in years! This is exciting because it’s with “crayon tinting”, and of course, it’s a Christmas theme! I am looking forward to meeting you in Prescott this June! It’s about 2 1/2 hours from my home, but I am hoping a girlfriend or two joins me, and we will spend the night and enjoy the town, I have never been, have you? Happy Monday!

  4. Marianne in Mo. says:

    My emotions were all over the place with this weeks DA. Rah-rah to Violet, sad over the car race and Henry, happy for Mosely, laughing at Mr. Carson getting his payback, sad again for Mary’s breakup, happy for Edith. ( But I have a feeling that will not end well. ) And the joy of seeing that PUPPY! I AWED out loud at that. I find myself talking back to the TV only when watching DA, (or a game show where the contestant gives a horribly wrong answer!)
    Your windows look frigid, same as I have been feeling all week, but it’s going to warm here soon – something to look forward to!
    I’ve been making a version of your Pork Chop dinner for many years, although I brown mine already stuffed. One of our favorite meals! Hubs won’t touch a sweet potato though, so I just do reds, and it’s fine. Haven’t made them in a while, so thanks for the idea! We’re in a food rut right now, and wanting something we haven’t had lately! Soon need to stop the comfort foods though and get back to more healthy eating, but not just yet, winter isn’t over here.
    Enjoy your dinner and relaxing, you deserve it!

  5. Carrie says:

    I can’t wait for everyone to see the final finale of the final last episode of Downton–what was our Christmas Special–so we’re on the same page. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and all will be well in the end. We felt bereft as it ended thinking Sunday nights will never be the same, but Mr. Fellowes did himself, and us, proud. But that’s all I can say–other than, now that the book is done, see you in England next autumn!!!

    • sbranch says:

      He did you proud is right! On so many levels! See you there Carrie!

    • KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

      I DO hope Julian has another treasure on the horizon for us! He, himself, is a treasure! I loved watching him in the Monarch of the Glen series as an actor and Downton Abbey has just been a jewel in the crown of quality tv viewing!

  6. Cathy Aquilina says:

    Well, I must admit, I am behind on my Downton watching, so I skipped down to the bottom, but I did look at all of the pictures as I scrolled because I love, love, love the clothes. As I sit here in my jeans and sweatshirt trying to stay warm I can dream of wearing clothes like that, when Spring and Summer return!! I can’t wait for the new book, I often return to the books just to look at the illustrations. Happy belated Valentine’s Day and stay warm!!

  7. Jenn says:

    Yes, Sunday evenings will not be the same. I guess I could get all the back seasons out of the library and just binge!
    “Home Fires” and “Last Tango in Halifax” – if they come back – will fill in some, but just not the same.

    • Linda Matson says:

      I plan on catching up on ‘Home Fires’ when Downton ends. It’s going to take a lot for me to get interested in something else. Downton grabbed me from the start when I first binge watched the first season. Facebook friends from England were always raving over it, so one day I thought I would take a look and that’s how I ended up where I am today. I am a Tom-lover, but I fear Julian will not put him together with Mary. Such a shame — I have the entire ending written the way it ‘should’ be 🙂 Only two more Sunday nights – I will be crying, I’m sure.

  8. Lacy Province says:

    Oh yes, the hats. Love the hats. Wish ladies wore such hats today.
    I have one that I wear when I garden. I’ve just about worn it out.
    I want to slap Mr. Carson every time he says anything cruel to Barrow. I think Mr. Carson should retire and Barrow should become head butler!
    So happy for Mrs. Patmore, she as well as Anna should have a very good & happy life after Downton.
    Aunt Violet is my hero, I like how she cuts to the meat of the subject. Others would do well to learn from her.

  9. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Oh, dear sweet Susan, you make my heart so happy!

  10. Becky says:

    So happy that we have your new book to look forward to. Sunday nights will be so boring now. What fun reading your critics of Downton.

  11. Robin C says:

    the fashions really are yummy on Downtown Abbey…speaking of which:
    February 2017, MUZEO (a museum) in Anaheim, CA will host the West Coast premiere of DRESSING DOWNTON – the same exhibit that was in one of the Carolina’s last year and featured in Victoria magazine!
    Love love love the snowflakes at your place–it is way too warm in So CA right now – enjoy your blog so much!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for the info . . . might be lots of CA people would love to see that!

      • Linda Matson says:

        I went to Delaware last year to see the Downton clothing exhibit at Windemere. It was so fabulous, especially Mary’s engagement dress <3 Didn't she look stunning in her dinner dress and headpiece? My soul is dressed in the 20's, I swear!

        • Linda Matson says:

          Oh, my goodness. NOT Windemere (that’s from General Hospital!!!) The real place is Winterthur! And it was decorated for Christmas, so it was just awesome with loads of trees and table settings and a wonderful hutch filled with red transferware.

          • sbranch says:

            Yes and there is a Windemere up near Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop Farm! Thank you for the clarification! Sounds just beautiful!

      • sondra fox says:

        WOW Robin. Thanks for the info! I’ve got that marked on my 2017 calendar. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • Barbara Stanley says:

      Some girlfriends and I went to see the exhibit last year at Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. It was fabulous! If you are able to go see it, GO! You will NOT be disappointed. Of course, I love any excuse to visit Biltmore House in any season.

  12. judi says:

    Love, love Downton and so enjoy your recaps😊 I’m afraid Edith’s boyfriend/father of M is going to show up just as she is waltzing down the aisle😳 And, yes I think Tom & Mary will end up together. Maybe Mrs. Patmore will have her own series about her little cottage. Have you ever taken a magnifying glass to the frost on the window…amazing❣

    Stay warm, dear one, and nose kisses to the kitties and big hug to Joe (patience of gold)… Ah, just kidding. Xoxo judi

    • sbranch says:

      I have looked at the frost with a magnifying glass and you are so right… just amazing. But you are so right, Joe, patience of gold!

    • Chris Wells From Knickerbocker, W. TX says:

      Did we ever get indisputable evidence that Michael Gregson is dead?

      • sbranch says:

        I, for one, am not sure . . . but my heart would break for Bertie because you can see he really loves Edith!

  13. Marian from Orange, CA says:

    Congratulations on finishing your book! Looking forward to it. I envy your winter–right now it’s 93 degrees in Orange County, CA. That doesn’t set right with me anytime, especially in February. It helped looking at your beautiful photos of ice tracings on your windows.

  14. CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

    Even though I’ve seen all of Season 6 I’m still watching every Sunday evening (just in case I missed something) and enjoying your recaps even more now. Watching the snow falling down and recovering everything all over again I’m thinking about decorating for Easter by pulling out all my rabbits (plush not real) from the basket and setting them free until Spring. Imagine, February is half gone and before you know it May will be here and your road trip will be in full swing. So looking forward to meeting you in Bucks County then. TaTa, Cherry-O and all that……..

  15. Andi M says:

    Congratulations on the completion of your book! Just bought the book, The Road to Little Dribbling, Adventures of an American in Britain, by Bill Bryson. See what you have done, can’t get enough. Reading this book till your book arrives.

  16. Rae Ann R. says:

    What a winter wonderland where you are! We haven’t had Jack Frost painting our windows with his magic here in northern Michigan this winter…yet! With only a few Downton episodes left, there certainly are bunches of story lines to finish…I am loving the fashions this season too, had to chuckle when Mrs. Hughes sat while Carson was bustling around the kitchen and I am hoping the tax man wasn’t hiding in the bushes spying on Mrs. Pat more. You may want to get a copy of the book “Euphoria” by Lily King~the paperback cover is gorgeous, the story about Margaret Mead is fascinating and I recommend it highly…not Downton, but wonderful…xoxo

  17. Linda L. Seidel says:

    Last night’s episode had me capitivated from the moment it began! However, I must agree about Henry’s unfortunate choice of hats. I could only think of The Man with the Hat in the Curious George stories! Think about it…do you see what I mean?

  18. Carol from CT says:

    Dear Eat, Pray, Love … ooooopsy … Dear Dinner in Three Courses … oooopsy … Dear Susan,
    The ‘Downty’ clothes were so gorgeous in the last episode I was overwhelmed by it all. I covet Mary’s glistening green and gold dinner gown and the contrasting red and white race track outfit! Wowee wow wow wow! I wonder if some fashion designer or company will market the costume designs of Downton? Where shall I go in them? Maybe on a cruise on the Titanic II : /news/world-asia-17890754. Sue, will we be able to pre-purchase a signed copy of the 30-year edition of Heart of the Home from your website? Would you let us know? Thanks. Love, Carol from CT … tra la

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that Eat Pray Love was good, but it was taken! 🙂 Titanic II! Wow! We’ll probably do a pre-purchase if we can, it looks like a crazy two months coming up, but I promise to try!

  19. Jean says:

    Thank you for your recap of Downton. I love it!

  20. Holly says:

    I alwyas love your overview of Downton! So say exactly what I feel plus some!!! I have always hoped for Mary and Tom to get together too!
    I’m sooooo excited for your book! I bought my first S.B. book 23 years ago, when I discovered it in a little shop in Door County. My sister in law got one too and it as been LOVE ever since!! I have them all, have bought them all for my daughter (who cooks out of them constantly, while I mostly read mine for pure joy and have to order a pizza due to too much time spent on the reading and admiration, lol!), have bought them all for my future daughter in law, and then also have a few tucked away for gifts! ADORE them!!!!
    My Sweet Daughter has gotten me the last two for Mother’s day and a birthday, and I’m expecting this newest one for Mother’s day this year!!!
    Thank you for bringing us so much JOY over the years!!!

    Blessings ~ Holly

  21. Pam says:

    Glad you caught up on Downton this week and many congratulations on finishing the book. Can’t wait to add it to my collection.

  22. Mary says:

    Hello, my new dear friend! I’m new to the party but I suspect I’ll be staying late … helping wash up the cups and saucers, wiping the crumbs from the countertops, and lingering in the foyer discussing your upcoming book tour.

  23. Kelley S. says:

    Just adore your Downton recaps – you always hit the nail on the head. On Mary’s beautiful dinner party dress from last week: she told Anna to pack something “medium smart”. THAT was medium? It was gorgeous. My friends and I toured the DA costume exhibit at Biltmore. Simply stunning! Even Mrs. Hughes’ black uniform has more details that you can’t see on TV. I think the exhibit moved to the Midwest. Do go if you can.
    I agree that Charles Blake needs to swoop in and rescue Mary. Bertie’s brother will contract a deadly case of malaria (bless his heart) and Bertie will wed Edith and keep her and Marigold in fine fashion. I think the man in the bushes at Mrs.Patmore’s is a reporter who thinks he has some sort of scandal to print about the Crawleys’ cook. Do you think Violet will return before the end? I can’t let her go just yet. Stay warm and congratulations on the completion of your book. Can hardly wait to read it!

  24. Melissa says:

    I look so forward to your Downton recaps. I was happy to see that Mary broke up with Mr. Tolbert as I don’t think they are right for each other. Although, I was glad that it wasn’t easy for her as it showed she really does have a heart. Like you, I wish she could end up with Tom. However, if she can’t, perhaps I can. Oh, wait a minute. I am daydreaming again. Mrs Patmore is one of my favorites. She is becoming quite a business woman. I love how she “fixed things” for Mrs. Hughes and I adored her advice to Daisy about sharing her father-in-law. I am hopeful she will eventually share him with Mrs Patmore. I am hoping beyond hope that Julian Fellows will allow both Edith and Mr. Barrow to be happy in the end. I think they both deserve it. And finally, the Dowager…She is just the best. As the series ends, I will miss her the most. I can’t wait to see what will happen next and yet I wish I could savor these Downton moments forever. 💓

  25. Kiki Hammond says:

    Suggest you all check out Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It’s in season 3 now. They’ve been airing season 2 on my local station. I was SO hoping that SOMEONE would get me the DVD’s for Christmas or my birthday or Valentine’s Day…. The costumes are fantastic. It’s set in Australia in the 1920’s. If you love Downton, and enjoy a good mystery and a strong female lead, you will love this show. Please watch it and tell everyone so they will make more seasons!

  26. Ah, another Downton episode & recap….sigh! A couple weeks back, when the computer glitch happened on your website, I had written out the questions that Feb. 2016 issue of Harper’s Bazaar had asked Michelle Dockery about the future of her Lady Mary character. No spoilers, I just wrote out the questions, NOT her answers 🙂 Available for your own speculation, of course, though Michelle/Mary minces no words, as one would expect. So here they are again, for the curious….
    1) Lady Mary won’t ever leave Downton Abbey, right?
    2) Could Ladies Mary & Edith ever make peace with one another?
    3) Any more kids in Mary’s future?
    4)What will Mary be wearing, say, 10 years out?
    5)Would Mary ever follow in Chanel’s footsteps and design clothes?
    6) What other trends of the future will she enjoy?
    7) Are she and Henry the real deal? Is this true love?
    8) If Mary had to move, where would she go?
    Now, you can look up the magazine issue to find her answers! (Or email me, Sue, & I’ll send you a photocopy….) One clue: Tom is NOT mentioned!

    • sbranch says:

      I think I’ll wait until I see the end first. I’m really looking forward to the surprise no matter WHAT happens!

  27. Carol from CT says:

    Sue are you familiar with the author Adriana Trigiani? Adriana-Trigiani/e/B001ILOB3C/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1455572915&sr=8-2-ent… She wrote the novel, the screenplay, and recently produced and directed (on location) ‘Big Stone Gap’… Big-Stone-Gap-Movie-Tie-/dp/1101967447/ref=la_B001ILOB3C_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455572926&sr=1-3 … She might be a great person to contact to talk about what you might be going through pretty soon, oh Cecilia B. DeMille! I think it’s great! Here’s her contact information:… Picture your name in a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! You could wear a Downton Abbey gown to the Oscars and stroll the red carpet. Love, Carol from CT … tra la

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Carol . . . LoL “Cecilia B. DeMille! I hadn’t heard of Adriana, I just don’t get out much! 🙂 Will have to investigate her!

      • Carol from CT says:

        I heard Adriana speak a few years ago. She said that the Hallmark Channel was going to pick up the Big Stone Gap trilogy of novels but it turned out that she produced the one film on her own. Her books are great reads; the kind that you can’t put down.

        • sbranch says:

          I wonder how she knew how to do that! Distribution had to be difficult . . . course if she sold it to Hallmark I guess you don’t really have that problem.

        • KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

          The Hallmark Channel would be PERFECT for your story….a mini-series! I LOVE the movies on the Hallmark Channel. Uplifting. Wholesome. Cheery. Like you!

  28. Ellie from White Bear Lake MN says:


    I want to thank you for your weekly postings regarding your “take” on each of the Downton Abbey episodes! You and I must be kindred spirits because literally EVERYTHING you have observed and commented on I have had the exact same thoughts (right down to the hats on ol’ what’s his names head – can you tell I’m not too happy about this story line either?) This actor was absolutely WONDERFUL in “Leap Year” with Amy Adams, but I have a really hard time seeing chemistry between Henry and Mary on Downton. I have it in my head and heart that Mary and Tom would make the PERFECT partners as they continue on in life together. Julien is not on the same page with me so far. We will see. Thank you Thank you for your witty posts. You make me smile “out loud”! Also, thank you for all the pictures and posts about your home on Martha’s Vineyard. MV is my happy place, and since I live half-way across the USA in MN you make it possible for me to live vicariously through you! Blessings, Ellie

  29. Joy Harper says:

    Two other shows you might like are “A Place to Call Home”, set in Australia, with lots of gorgeous scenery and houses, and lots of drama. Another is “Doc Martin”, set in a little fishing village in Cornwall. Unbeatable views, quirky characters–really fun.
    Thanks for your beautiful work, Susan!

  30. Ann Y. says:

    Yay for you….The End…which is really The Beginning…again. Loving Downton, only two more….but loving Mercy Street, too. Another time, another family to get to know. Snowy here, sleet, fire, tea, watching Time After Time about HG Wells – a movie from 1979 – and Chili and Cornbread for supper. So glad you “found” winter….could not live year round where there were no seasons. Enjoy the cozy, can’t wait for next year’s calendars !

  31. Yet another fabulous review! Mrs. P’s B&B…wonderful and would LUV to stay there! Mr. C makes a meal…er, heats up a meal…big whoop. I’m rather concerned marriage has made him a whiner and, like you, am rather peeved at his continual mistreatment of Barrow. I mean, Barrow isn’t my favorite but no one deserves such continual meanness. Re Marigold and Edith…why doesn’t that woman just up and tell the truth? That child is going to have a complex!
    So happy for you and excited the new book is completed. I think I pre-ordered a copy but can’t remember…dang! Well, guess I’ll find out in a few months, eh?
    Best wishes, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve read that back then, Marigold would be a nightmare reveal for not only Edith but for the whole family! Big scandal! But somehow I think she still might get away with it. Thank you Sandra!

  32. VickeyB says:

    Hi Susan–I loved last night’s episode, too. The clothes! The quips! How fantastic to watch Violet wade in to do battle for her friend, Isobel–even though she was so mad at Isobel just a few weeks ago over the hospital situation. The new puppy for Robert was a sweet thing to do. No wonder she had to go away–she wouldn’t want to be accused of having a soft heart!

    I still have a VERY hard time with Thomas. He still has a tendency to be mean just for the sake of being mean. (Remember his nasty “outing” of Gwen.) He does do kind things at times, but his fall back position is always to attack.

    Mrs. Patmore is one of my favorite characters. She has been great this season. I’m hoping she and Mr. Mason end up together!

    Congratulations on finishing the book. I can’t wait to read it!

    Stay warm. (It’s 85+ degrees here in San Diego. Some El Nino!)

  33. Valorie Veld says:

    Congratulations on the completion of your newest book!! Wonderful accomplishment again!!!! Enjoy some free time! Blessings on your day!!!

  34. Susan Mixon says:

    So very Happy for you! You are finished with your new book and we now wait with glad, but patient, anticipation! Something beautiful to look forward to! And I knew this, but seeing the red dot by Memphis on the book tour map is just so exhilarating. Can’t wait to meet you😊 Thanks once again for your rendition of the Downton Abbey goings on…I love watching them but also enjoy your account immensely…Enjoy your days of freedom, you, and Joe, truly deserve them!

  35. Barbara says:

    Your synopses are always the best. And the screen shots make me remember so many of those special bits. You’d think, now that I actually own all six seasons on DVD, I wouldn’t need to be so thrilled with screen shots, but having something still and focused is clearly the best way to relish those moments.
    I hope to be at Rakestraw in Danville. Best wishes until then.

    Ah, I also agree with Kiki’s recommendation of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. What a wonderful character; actually, each character is wonderful — and the clothes are simply fabulous. It’s set just a couple of years after the ending of Downton. You may also like Mr. and Mrs. Murder. Another Australian mystery. This one is modern, and with humor, yet intelligent.

  36. Ellen from NH says:

    Hi Susan. Count me as a member of the frozen bathroom pipes club! Your Downton Abbey recaps are so much fun and help to lengthen the enjoyment. Thank you. Regarding your pork chop recipe, do you use bone in or boneless chops? Also, can you tell me what size baking pan you use? That is a lot of food to fit in one pan! It sounds delicious and just what is needed around here, so I can’t wait to try it.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s 3 frozen bathrooms amongst us that I know of so far! Fingers cross that all thaw out quietly with no repercussions! Bone-in! Very thick. We think it’s like 12″ x 18″ but just your biggest . . . One dish meal to serve six. The apples cook down. You will love it, just delicious!

  37. Carol from PA says:

    Congratulations on finishing your book! And now I wish you many happy moments to bask in your accomplishment! I look so forward to reading it! You are a gem, Ms. Susan Branch!!

  38. Linda Joan says:

    I just love you, Dear Susan! Don’t ever doubt it.

  39. Julie V from Springfield, MO says:

    Well Done! Congrats on finishing the book – cannot wait to read the “Main Course”! Love the recap – Mrs. Patmore was brilliant!!! She is so happy so all we need is for her and Mr. Mason to get together. Mr. Carson is being so mean to poor Mr. Barrow – I hope he doesn’t do anything foolish. Hopefully Mosley will take the teaching position and Barrow and stay on at Downton. Mr. Merton needs to wise up, get some backbone and totally disinherit his ungrateful and totally selfish children. Enough said! What could be a better way to end the episode than with a puppy!!!
    You , Joe and the Kitties stay warm and safe.

    • sbranch says:

      I am so with you on Merton. But maybe it’s easier said than done. Perhaps he is waiting for “maturity” to set in with his children. But I suppose if they changed, Lord Merton could change his mind too.

  40. Can’t WAIT to get my hands on your next book!! Yes, we will all miss Downtown but before that it was Upstairs/Downstairs, and The Duchess of Duke Street and Brideshead Revisited and each time one of those ended I thought that’s it, there will NEVER be anything like it again. But I know there will be. So I have hope in my heart and tea and scones in hand and I’ll wait. By the way, I didn’t read all the comments, but I think that’s a private eye watching not Mrs Patmore, but two adulterous lovers staying at her B&B. (I was lucky enough to walk around the town of Bampton, the real town standing in for the Downton village. It’s in the Cotswolds and is as charming as it appears on TV!) Cheers, Pam in a freezing Montreal

    • sbranch says:

      I can just imagine how charming it must be!

      • It was! Climbing roses and colourful doors and lazy cats and thatched roofs and That Church, and of course, every cottage built in that lovely local stone. I snapped photos like mad and then two owners popped out from behind their gate. I apologized for intruding, and said they must be getting tired of all the tourists swarming the place (it’s reeeeally tiny) but they just smiled and said “everyone’s got to eat!”

  41. Mary S. says:

    I kept forgetting to ask you, Susan – Does Joe enjoy Downton as much as you? My husband watches it with me, but he just tolerates it. Our pastor loves it! He must have a very sensitive soul because he also loves “Pride and Prejudice”! Oh, another thing Granny said that I thought was hilarious – “Why would anyone pay to see the inside of an ordinary house?”
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, he really loves it. But he’s got that “England” thing too, so I’m sure that helps. That Granny!

  42. Kathleen Spaeth says:

    War & Peace, which was shown in 4 parts of 2-hours, was shown on Lifetime Television and the History Channel (and finished last Monday: 2/8/16) out here in Massachusetts. It was a very interesting adaptation, I greatly enjoyed the Military Costumes, and we (my Husband and I) watched it faithfully and he recommended it to me (since he read about it on-line prior to its first part). We faithfully watch Downtown Abbey together too! He, my loving Dude of 26-years, wants Mary and Tom to become a couple. I find that hard to handle since Sybil and Mary were faithful Sisters (and Tom has a namesake Daughter). I have not liked Henry (but I found his boldness to be refreshing), even though I so felt bad for him losing his Best Friend in a horrible Race Car Crash that he could have died in instead, because he is below Mary’s Station. I want, but alas he got Married to another women who was originally his Finance before Mary broke his heart, Lord Tony Gillingham to come back. I was rather shocked that Mary risked her reputation, and her Family’s Name, to have such a torrid affair with him (but she never married him). Edith must tell Bertie the truth about Marigold (she is more than just the Family’s Ward). Thomas was such a former wicked and conniving man with Mrs. O’Brien, and Mr. Carson remembers what he did and how he acted. Now Thomas wants redemption and kindness extended to him. But, I feel conflicted about this and so does Mr. Carson. I don’t know that I trust Thomas, since he does everything he can to enamor himself to Mary and George. Since when was Anna expecting Twins? Mr. Carson will now realize just what it is like to run his Private Household and how important Mrs. Hugh’s is and I hope he appreciates her more? I am rather shocked by Daisy’s behavior and no Lordship would have tolerated her language and outspokenness towards the new Land Lord. She should have been fired and would have been had it not been for Cora’s intervention. Violet’s kindness, and her gift to his Lordship, Robert, so touched us. We have an almost 9-month old Female Black Labrador and we always wanted to get a Puppy and raise it up. We call ’16 the year of the Roxie Puppy! We always looked for Isis and were so sad when she died. Violet redeemed herself by giving Robert Teo and showned everyone that she can be kindhearted too. She knows how much Isis meant to Robert, how he came close to dying, and how he needs something to cheer him up. Now who gets to housebreak her? Labradors will lick your face without being coaxed. It is in their happy nature. I Love how everyone gathered around her bed, placed on the downstairs’ dining room table no less, and was overjoyed with her introduction! Yes, we watch and analyze Downtown too!!

  43. Asha says:

    Dearest Susan! LOVE this week’s recap of DA. You are spot on! 🙂 Can’t wait to find out who is lurking in those bushes!!!! Jack Frost painted beautiful pictures on your windows. Thanks for sharing. I have something to share as well. Couldn’t get a picture though. We have a heated birdbath so our feathered friends can have a drink during the winter. We had five Mourning Doves on the edge of it this afternoon sharing a drink. It was the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen. 🙂 We have seen Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal enjoying a drink as well. Quite a beautiful sight. So happy you are tying up loose ends on your projects. It is such a great feeling and then you will have some well deserved R & R! Love ya, Susan Branch! ox

  44. Darlene Kostrub says:

    You said that you will be reprinting an expanded Heart of the Home in July.

    Is that the same thing as “Counting our Blessings…Days from the Heart of the Home” which is a book of days? I love this book and had to pay $44 recently to get a copy of the 2013 version of it.

    • sbranch says:

      Crazy. Heart of the Home was my first book and it’s a cookbook. Days is out of print right now. . . but yes Counting our Blessings is a lot like Days, almost exactly and is for sale in my webstore. I hope this answers your question!

  45. Cathy Hoff says:

    First, oh my gosh!!! You are going to be at a location about three hour drive from me! I cannot tell you how excited I am. I told my husband not to plan anything for that day – ROAD TRIP!!

    Now, as far as Downton…I laughed out loud when they showed Carson asleep at the table. Hopefully he now realizes it’s not so easy as it looks to work all day and then make a meal at home. Love that Mrs. Hughes, she and Mrs Patmore are crafty.

    I was also yelling at the screen when Tom was talking to Mary after the phone call. “Kiss her you fool!” If Julian doesn’t bring these two together, I’ll, I’ll…well, I don’t know what I’ll do but I can tell you I won’t be happy that’s for sure.

    Now as far as Barrow goes, I can’t help it. I feel so bad for him. He’s trying to turn over a new leaf and Mr. Carson is just being so mean. I keep hoping he sees this in Barrow. *sigh*

    So happy you are finished with the book and now already starting on the calendar…you are one busy bee!! Stay warm Susan and again, thank you for all the loveliness you bring into our lives.

    • sbranch says:

      Yeah, crafty. No nagging or being mad, just an introduction to compassion 101. I’m so happy you’re coming to my signing. I love to think I won’t be there alone! Thank you Cathy!

  46. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    Those magazine ads for Isle of Dreams are adorable, like everything you do! I’m in awe of the discipline it must take to complete your books, calendars, etc, on schedule, and yet I know it’s all a labor of love, and that you do it for us! As for Downton, it is such an experience, that each week when the episode comes to an end it’s like waking up suddenly from a lovely dream. Oh how I love the clothes, and the jewelry, and the Dowager’s sitting room! It’s nice to be comfy and casual as we are now, but I wish there were more opportunities to be sparkly!

  47. Mary Alice says:

    Susan, I am so glad that your book is finished. I love the feeling of finishing a project and having the time to think about the next one. However (sob) so sorry that your road trip does not come to Washington or Oregon. I was so hoping that it would.
    I love your take on the events on Downton Abbey. I certainly hope that Julian Fellows does a follow up movie in a year or two. That would give us all something to look forward to in the coming months.
    Enjoy the snow!

    • sbranch says:

      We tried hard to get up there Mary Alice, but it was a little like fighting City Hall and we finally had to give in ~ in order to continue moving forward! 🙂

  48. Tina Mandeville says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am so happy….for you, for us! We cannot wait for this latest book installment to our beautiful SB collection…due out on my birthday! You are on my list! Looking so forward to seeing you “on the road”! Enjoy your “done”…..such a wonderful time of accomplishment and reawakening! Bless you!
    P.S. Thank Joe for us…..he’s the best…..we’ll all keep him!

  49. Diana from San Francis o says:

    Wait. You forgot to mention Mr. Mosley. The perpetual underdog. I was so happy for him, I almost cried. Yeah, I know I have to keep reminding myself it’s not real.

    Susan come to San Francisco. We love you.!


  50. Judy Wylie says:

    Thanks for your DA review, it was great. I also don’t want it to end but guess we have no choice, I’m almost sure I will go into withdrawals when it’s over! Congrats on finishing your book can’t wait to read it!

  51. Charlene says:

    Thanks for the overview. It is like seeing it all again and the best parts at that. The clothes are wonderful. Makes me want to be young, tall, and skinny and then I would learn to sew. Can’t wait for your new book and if you get to Asheville I will drive up and bring all my books for you to sign. Stay warm

  52. I’m in Oregon, feeling sad about no red dots being anywhere near on the map of your book signing.

  53. Carrie says:

    Or maybe pop the “Vicar of Dibley” into the antiquated DVD player for some good yucks…

  54. Mary Anne S says:

    My idea about the man lurking in the bushes outside of Mrs. Patmore’s guest house is that he is a private investigator, did you see he had a camera?, and the “lovely married couple” that were her first guests were not married to each other. Of course, this will lead to scandal and ruin her business. This is a gut feeling without any factual basis, we will see… I can’t believe there are only 2 more episodes…

    • sbranch says:

      Ruin her business and she will have to run to Mr. Mason? Hmmmm.

    • Linda says:

      I was thinking the same thing!! Poor Mrs. Patmore! Or it could be a magazine or newspaper? Or perhaps she doesn’t have a permit to operate a guest house??? I too, cannot believe that we only have 2 more episodes!!! Why can’t they make an even dozen???

  55. Traci S. says:

    First off, I have to say I’m LOVING the clothes Ladies Edith, Mary & Cora are wearing this season! Mary’s racing outfit this episode was fabulous and I’m still coveting the cape Edith wore after the first run-in with her nasty editor. All very chic! And, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Lady Cora’s outfit in your first photo. That hat!!

    Who knew, despite his mostly nasty behavior in the past, one could feel sorry for Barrow. Poor guy. I guess “even a leopard can changes some of its spots.”

    Loved seeing Mrs. Hughes be waited upon by Mr. Carson. Poor woman, her wrist was bothering her so much…she was having a hard time not laughing! Mrs. Patmore definitely came through!

    But, the absolutely best lines this whole season (so far) go to (no surprise) Violet! “Larry Gray has spoken to Mrs. Crawley in a manner that in any other century would have resulted in his being called out and shot.” And, then turns around and very accurately nails Miss Cruiksank’s character (or lack thereof) with, “I expect they will have to drag you out as you break your fingernails catching at the door case.” I laughed myself silly through that whole scene! And, there sits Miss Cruikshank still thinking she’s all that and going to be able to play in the same league as Violet! What a nasty couple they are. Ick! I rather feel like I’ve been slimed after either one has been on screen. At least we haven’t been “treated” to Larry this season.

    I know you totally and completely want Mary and Tom to end up together but I have to say, Mary and Henry do make a striking couple!

    And, I’m so glad to see Edith happy again. Though knowing Mary’s behavior when she’s unhappy (and she’s definitely unhappy right now), I’m guessing, she will say/do something to break it up.

    Gosh, there does seems to be quite a lot to wrap up in the remaining 3 hours.

    Yeah! Your book is finished! Congratulations! I can hardly wait until it’s released!

    Enjoy the frozen snowflakes and being snug in your house with Joe and the kitties.

  56. Joann says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Your play-by-play of Downton is so much fun to read!! Yes, Mary is running out of time and ‘R’ feels it fitting that she find no one and for all of us to continue writing her life’s story in our blogs and messages to one another.
    Granny was so well played………….Oh goodness! She got the part in that episode, didn’t she?
    Mary’s clothes…………well, everyone’s clothes are impeccable. I’m enjoying it all so much. I have no accessories. There, I’ve said it. Well, yes….shoes. Earrings here and there. A scarf or two. But goodness…….. accessories are where it’s at, I tell you!!

    ‘R’ is slowly recovering. We watched Downton with tea and a fire; counting my blessings we are home from the hospital. UGH

    We are with you all the way………………love the frosted windowpanes. Reminds me of a Carpenter’s song from their Christmas album that I love……… starts out with: “Frosted windowpanes…..Candles gleaming inside, painted candy canes…on the tree.” It’s lovely!! Congratulations on all the work you’ve done!! We cannot wait to read it!!
    Here’s the song:
    xoxo Joann

  57. Felicia says:

    The best thing about your new book is that it will never “end”, unlike Downton. When we reach the end, we can just start again, which I’ve done any number of times with your other books. I also just love “dipping in”, opening to a page and just taking in as much as I have time at that moment to enjoy. You are delight. Hope you have a little time to “breathe” before you pack your bags to begin another adventure.

  58. Cindy Tuning says:

    Yay!! You’re done! That must be like a weight lifted from your shoulders but bittersweet no doubt . Elated,exhausted and proud. Sounds familiar! My favorite line from last week’s episode was when Mary was telling Anna what clothes to bring on their jaunt. “medium smart”. Love that! Enjoy all those extra hours that have been added to your day now that you’re all caught up. Just in time to start packing.

  59. Ruth thomas says:

    Only 2 more episodes🙁 What will we do? Anna is not even showing a baby bump yet! Cannot wait for the new book! And a reprint of Heart of the Home and new calender song already! Snowed here in Indiana yesterday but supposed to be 59 degrees on Friday. Indiana rarely does a “proper” snow like New England. Ta at for now.

  60. Kristi says:

    Susan, Have you ever thought of visiting Oregon (actually, the Portland area)? I (and several friends) would love it, if you would come visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest! On another point, I would love for Tom to find romance with a woman worthy of him! After Matthew, Tom is my favorite DA character.
    Thanks for a great recap!

  61. Charissa says:

    Well you forgot it was Sunday and I forgot it was Monday recap day! Luckily I have it set up to email me. I really wanted a cozy day so I threw on my coziest, but still presentable outfit and ran over to a little cafe by the house. I sat in a cozy booth ordered breakfast in the afternoon (I hadn’t had a bite or a nibble all day) and read your blog all by myself w bacon and waffle and tea. You and the gfs always make for a cozy day;) I wanted to strangle Carson. He was so mean to Barrow. And why is none inviting him to anything? how rude! I know he may have done things in the past but when he is so obviously hurting?? And ninny pinny Andrew who he is helping and has never done anything to, but be nice to should have invited him to the picnic. I’m afraid that he is so hurt he may lash out, but what I hope is that someone shows him some friendship and love. Thank heaven for Mrs Hughes… a small morsel of kindness. And for giving Carson his just desserts in the nicest way possible. A class act all the way.

    And Mrs Patmore… a genius to help her friend figure out what to do with her new husband. I really hope she finds happiness. I wasn’t happy with that lurker with the note pad. I tried to think of something positive that it might be like maybe she gets a great review in a periodical or something:/

    I agree with you about Henry Talbot. I think they have done him a disservice by not writing a more compelling storyline. I will not be satisfied if they end up together. Which I think they must because 2 episodes are not enough time for Mary to find someone new. Maybe she will be alone but, I won’t be happy with that either. So glad you caught Mary’s dress from the last episode. It was a stunner.

    Edith has finally found someone to make her happy, but then she lies to him?!?!?! I understand the societal implications, but I think it is a mistake nonetheless.

    And that PUPPY. Everyone had smiles.

    I was so thrilled to see your windows and hear about your drafts;) It was 75 here in Frisco, TX today and I would trade with you in a heartbeat.

    So very happy for you to be finished with your book. It must be bittersweet. I so admire your drive and dedication and so thrilled that we will get the first ones out. I can hardly wait. You can count on me to do my best to spread the word. And what a lovely trilogy title so apropos. Maybe you can use that for the gift set bundle:) The movie people callled again?!?!?!?! OHMYGOSH. Just thrilled for you. You always make things so wonderfully wonderful. I will see it/them… then buy the dvd or dvds and watch them when I need extra coziness. I just went to buy your Apricot Jam tea that I love and noticed it wasn’t there. I will write Kelly to see if it is still available.

  62. Carol Wakefield says:

    Oh, how I will miss these Monday morning Downton Abbey chats! Wish they could go on all year long. But as my mother would say, it wouldn’t mean as much if we had them all the time.
    Congratulations on finishing the book!! Huzzah!! Well done!! I can hardly wait to receive mine. Birthday gifts will be so easy this year!
    Blessings to you in your frozen tundra. We have the same frozen tundra in Indiana and I am loving it! Knitting by the fire and watching the birds at the feeder. Doesn’t get any better than this.

  63. Vicki says:

    Susan, will you be celebrating The Queen’s birthday with a tea party? If you do, you must write a post about it! Loved your post and cannot wait to read the new book and pick up the one coming in July- perfect timing for my birthday. I have visited the island once – boy – would I love to come back! My husband and I enjoyed our time there so much. A week there would be heaven. Maybe one day! We are soaked here today in Alabama- a gray dreary cold day- a day to stay in and finish projects. My husband and I accomplish a good bit when we are stuck inside, just as you are, due to the weather. You seem to enjoy every moment, whether sunshine or snow. A great attitude is everything.

  64. Mary/Indiana says:

    Thanks for the Downton Abbey pics and your delightful insights into the characters we
    have come to love so much! They will be sorely missed! I’ve been boo hooing thru the last 3 episodes! Can’t imagine how I’ll feel on the nite of the finale! Glad you’re wrapping things
    up on your next book that I am so looking forward to. It will find a home on the bookshelf next to the other two to complete the Trilogy! What’s that you hinted at…..a MOVIE? How Grand is that! Please please please tell us it’s True??

  65. Barbara Stanley says:

    I will miss your recaps of Downton almost as much as Downton itself! I agree with all of your comments and observations, except I can’t see Tom and Mary ending up together. I’m sorry, but there you are. He is too much like a brother to her. I think he will end up with the editor, who is so much easier to like than that obnoxious teacher from last season. I have begun to feel sorry for Barrow in spite of myself. He was so easy to despise but his sad story tugs at my heart. Even mean people need to be loved and have roots.

    I have loved British period dramas since I was hooked on the original Poldark in the ’70s . Living in a mountain cove of western NC as a young wife and mother, PBS was one of only 3 TV stations that we were able to pick up on our antenna. Since then I have enjoyed many of the series but none so much as Downton Abbey. I am looking forward to the return of Call the Midwife. It is especially meaningful to me as a retired public health nurse who spent many years making home visits to pregnant women and their babies here in our rural mountainous area. So many of those scenarios are the same regardless of whether they took place in 1950s and 1960s England or 1970s and 1980s Appalachia. I also enjoy watching the series available on ACORN TV when I am looking for my British TV fix. Another series that I love is Lark Rise to Candleford.

    I am elated that you will be coming to Malaprop’s in Asheville and so glad to see it finally appear on the map. That makes it real! My friends and I will be at the front of the line with our books in hand. I have my original copy of Heart of the Home if you have time to sign it too.

    I grew up on the Gulf coast of Florida, so, like you, I was an adult before I lived in a place with a real winter. I love the 4 seasons, even if winter is my least favorite. We are getting freezing rain here today and tonight and the roads are treacherous, but the great thing about being retired is not having to go out in it. We can enjoy our fireplace, our 2 cozy cats, and eating homemade beef veggie soup.

    Stay snug, relax, and enjoy your new-found freedom. You need to rest up for your book tour and all the adoring fans who will be waiting to see you this summer. I’ll be one of them.

  66. Karen Saunders says:

    Of course I have to add my own personal take on DA…..I think Merigolds dad is going to show up!!!! And I also think Daisys father-in-law will court Mrs. Patmore….. And since the guy will be a teacher and leave why can’t they keep Barrow?? And will Daisy and the guy that can’t read hook up??? I think that covers everyone but Mary…..?????

    • Karen Saunders says:

      Ps…..I think you are right Susan….the clothing is exquisite this season. However will we do without??? I also might suggest..(since I know at some point you will get itchy for another book..maybe) a cookbook like your old ones. Oh well …I can hope!

  67. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, Yes both Joe and I love watching DA together. I too feel that Tom Branson and Mary will get together. There is just something in the way they banter together but most of my friends do not agree so only time will tell. So happy for the new doggy for Robert and that is the best medicine he could get after his surgery. I’m still not liking Edith and can’t forget how she wrote that note to the Turkish Officials to get Mary in trouble. Yes Mary isn’t always nice to her sister, but Edith is not so nice either. So happy for Anna and I must have missed the twins part……… that for real? What will we do on Sunday evenings when it is over! I can’t stand the thought of it. And I’m really loving how Mr. Carson had to make the dinner after treating his wife like one of the kitchen staff. That was a super idea Mrs. Patmore came up with. So happy for Mr. Mosely……….I think Daisy is liking Andy or feeling sorry for him………….so if Mosely leaves, maybe Barrow will stay………….I don’t like him but I do feel sorry for him.
    Can’t wait for your book to come out and so glad you are getting caught up with stuff. Hugs, Gail & Joe xoxoxo

  68. Kirsten in So. Cal says:

    After reading all the comments, there really isn’t much left to say about this week’s D.A. All the girlfriends and you, Susan, pretty much covered it! Of course, I’ll add that I too love it all! Your blog helps me remember all the things that are wonderful about life…I don’t get out much, but I wouldn’t miss seeing you again in June!

  69. diana from ancaster says:


  70. Shirley Graham says:

    Am looking forward to your new book – love everything else. I’m going to watch Downton all over again with my daughter who is going to school right now and hasn’t had time to watch. I’ll cry when the whole thing is over I know – love the hats and clothing! Will buy new book for my daughter as she has had to start a whole new life after divorce. Look forward each month to your drawings on calendar. Thanks!

  71. Jan Lane says:

    I love your winter photos…………..because, yes, it is only February, and it is still winter. You would never know that in Calif. Temps. in high 80’s and even the 90’s in a few places. We are in the mountains, so it hasn’t been bad, but the windows were all open today and ceiling fans spinning. Looking forward to a bit of rain on Wednesday. It will be too warm for snow, no doubt, even at 6k ft. elevation.

    My daughter ordered season 6 of Downton over the weekend on Amazon Prime. We all binge watched the final episodes together. I won’t divulge a single clue. Oh, it was sad to see the series come to an end. I really hope that somehow the future will bring a continuation to the story. It is one of BBC’s best……

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Poldark. Ross is a hunk. He enjoyed taking off his shirt to my delight. I would have watched the series just to see him!

    Have a lovely week!

  72. Kathy Clarke says:

    Only two episodes left? Nooooo! But congratulations on finishing your book. Can’t wait to read it!

  73. Alicia says:

    Loved your recap! Spot on. Granny was in rare form taking that lady down several notches. I want to be her when I grow up.

  74. MARY LOU says:

    Loved the review as usual. I was annoyed w/Robert though, first for cursing as “bloody” is a curse word as we Anglophiles all know, and his mother commented on it, and second, for making fun of Edith when she didn’t know the origin of Teo’s name. Not nice.
    Susan, do try and catch “A place to call home” it’s an Aussie drama post WW2 and has been so popular they had to add seasons and change the ending of season 1. I’m addicted and can’t wait for Season 3, coming soon. I watch it on Acorn on my Roku along with a lot of other Brit shows. Also “War and Peace” is not on PBS but is very good quality and has great costumes.
    I’m going to miss your DA comments.

  75. Cindy Stierhoff says:

    Congrats on finishing your book Susan! What an accomplishment for you and a grand suprise for us to read.
    Who was that guy in the bush at Miss Patmore’s BB? Did anyone figure it out? And did you say we only have 2 episodes left????? Say it can’t be so…..better start taping so I have something later on to watch.

  76. Gayle says:

    Congratulations on finishing your book! Can’t wait to read it!

  77. Lisa R (northern Az) says:

    Isn’t this season of Downton the Grandest of all!! Thank you to Mr. Fellowes, and thank you Susan, for the wonderful recaps! Love them. Congratulations on your new book! I love the ads you designed for both magazines. I will be on the hunt for those.♥ Stay warm!

  78. Peggy says:

    I love you your art your stories Ghank you thank you thank you

  79. Gladys Marie says:

    Big * Huge * Smiles * Thanks so Much Again

  80. Nan Sadler says:

    Susan, your ‘Downty’ commentaries are absolutely priceless, and I hope Julian Fellowes is reading them all! It was a sad day when the last episode was aired here in England…. Downton will be very much missed, but so will your comments. And those frozen windows decorated with snowflakes and frost – just gorgeous! Thank you, thank you for bringing joy to our days!

  81. Linda Miller says:

    Love your version of Downton each week…curious, have you ever visited Highclere Castle?
    I would love to see it myself. A tour company ( name escapes me ) actually offered an evening there during the Christmas season with cocktails, caroling, and hor’dourves. Sounded very festive and one can fantasize! Congratulations on the completion of your book! A project down and one on the horizon…always keeps us on our toes! Stay warm and cozy.

  82. Betty says:

    Hello Susan, I am enjoying your review of Downton Abbey – being in the UK I have seen it but no spoilers here! there is plenty more bitching and drama to come and some lovey dovey stuff too! I have asked my library if they would buy your books in, I am hopeful – they seem to be hard to come by here but otherwise it’s available on good old Amazon. I just finished A Fine Romance, so luverly! I can’t wait for new book….. Betty

  83. jane says:

    Hello darling Susan! It is warm yet? Oh, my — those ice art windows are so very amazing! I can just imagine the feeling of being inside — God’s own little show for the sequestered ones there. It”s whiner Jane from Washington state and her sidekick Sue — remember? The ones coming on down for the SLO event — on the train. We got our event tickets — Nos. 6 and 7 in line. Should we come right now? We’re almost ready, but we need your sage advice about where to stay. We have an “in” with Best Western and Executive Suities BUT should we stay in SLO or Morro Bay? We arrive on Saturday so we’ll have time to shop, antique, and, of course, eat. We leave to go back to Seattle on Monday afternoon so we’ll definitely have some time but aren’t sure of the best location. Advice? Also, I recall you talked in a blog about eating fish tacos somewhere. Was that in SLO — one of my very favorite foods!
    I loved your DA post. I fell asleep during the episode and quickly exited from your blog and watched the show before I could read it. Are there really only two episodes remaining? I wonder if the last one is several hours long? I WISH. Is it the Christmas season for the last one? Are we all gathering at your house for the finale?
    Stay warm. If it’s any consolation, it’s pouring rain here. I’d rather be sledding.

    • jane says:

      HI Susan – I have sent you two comments and they’ve both said “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” I’m hoping this will go through so you will get it! Stay cozy!

      • sbranch says:

        It’s just me, I’m the “moderator” and I had some last minute book fixes, so i’m late, but here now! Till Joe comes and gets me to go for a walk!

  84. Jacki G. says:

    Susan, I do love your weekly Downton wrap-ups….. they are so entertaining! Looking forward to your new book.

  85. winnie Nielsen says:

    OK, this week in DA was fabulous and hard to figure out again! I was guessing that the car race would end up in some sort of tragedy, but surprised at the fact that Mary was also quite put off by the racing ordeal even before the crash. The real question moment for me was Mary’s honesty with Tom when she told him that she and Henry were not right for each other. I think Tom genuinely wants her to be happy and married again and probably does not see that he would ever be good enough for her. But here is the crux of the matter for me. It is Tom that she seeks out to go with her and Tom that she confides her true feelings about the Henry pursuit. Added to the statement she declared in the Library one evening when Cora was stating that their life at DA might not really continue, Mary immediately spoke up with affirmation that she and George were’t going anywhere! It feels to me that Mary feels both a deep passion and determination that her beloved home will not be taken from her. I think that passion trumps all and she will do what she needs to do to make that work. Enter Tom. He has nothing in assets except his “home” at DA. Earl Grantham has promised him that DA will always be his home too. He is aware of the changing times and devised a way to work the land to keep it going. I believe he of all people is strategic enough to make it happen. For example, he was very positive about the money from the Open House and did not rule out doing it again to help keep the place afloat. Mary seems to come around to his ideas when she sees how a new pathway to keeping DA must happen. She also knows that she needs Tom to be her partner in the transformation into a new period of the existence of great houses. It is this tie between Mary and Tom that binds them above all else and without each other, DA faces extinction. We know from history that DA did pass through the family and is still a home that is lived in and cared for. People are still paying to go there and visit and I have no doubt that money from the filming of this show and visitors is key to the income needed. Diversity always trumps keeping things the old way. I am thinking Julian Fellows will have our DA family reflect the real history of the place , and along those lines, somehow Mary and Tom will need to be together. What do you think about this line of thinking?

    Congratulations on completing your book pages and cover! We are all excited to get our hands on it this Spring!!

  86. Stephanie C. says:

    Oh Susan! Thank you soooooo much for taking time to write, illustrate and finish your darling books! They are beloved and cherished, just like all of the other books you have written. They will have a special place in my “Susan Branch kitchen library.” Yes, Downton Abbey is sadly coming to a close. I am savoring every moment, re-watching the previous episode each week. So sad to see them go but so glad to have had them. I plan to buy the entire series and watch again. ( I missed out on the the first 2 or 3 seasons!) You totally made my day today! Thank you 🙂 LOVE the snowy windows and you too!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I just got all six seasons and plan to do it all again! Thank you so much for all of your kind words Stephanie! xoxo

  87. Linda says:

    Loved Downton too! I will misssss this when it’s done, SO SAD 🙁 But we can console each other here!! Enjoy your toasty fire! We are enjoying ours too!
    Hugs…. Linda 🙂

  88. Kathy Wagner says:

    I’ll be at R.J. Julia Booksellers on May 1st for sure. Can’t wait to meet you. I’m a big fan of your blogs, books and artwork. You’re so talented. Best of luck. Kathy

  89. Biz says:

    Susan, Thanks for the Downton “review”. I think you and I are on the same page with everything. What are we going to do when it’s over?? Very much looking forward to your new book! You are such a talented lady. Keep warm up there in the tundra in your perfectly cozy house. Thanks for sharing your talents with us girlfriends. – Biz (from Maryland)

  90. Margaret says:

    This episode was my favorite of the season thus far. I think Tom is too good for Mary, so she will have to have a relationship with Henry (I don’t think it’s over), that makes her softer and more human (just the way Matthew did)…then something will happen to end it with Henry (perhaps Henry is unfaithful), and Mary will finally deserve Tom. Maybe this would happen post Season 6…just supposing…but isn’t that what wretchedly cold winter days are for?…dreaming of supposes!
    I bought my copy of Fairy Tale Girl at the same time the new DA season began. I couldn’t bear to finish both the book and DA at the same time, so I’m not reading your book until DA is over. That is my plan for future Downton-less Sunday evenings. Perhaps I’ll try to rent or watch some of the other girlfriends’ suggestions…they sound fun to watch.
    Ach! We are kindred spirits…I made sweet and sour pork stew yesterday, put it in the crock pot; watched an old Jack Benny movie, ran upstairs for a couple of hours to draw and watercolor…all the while, pork stew kept wafting upstairs beckoning me to come back downstairs and feed kitty, make cocktails out of the leftover pineapple juice, and watch an old Errol Flynn movie while eating the yummy stew!

    You’re coming to Georgia! Yippee! Just butter my biscuits and pour the sweet tea, darlin’! You’ll be here on my sister’s birthday, so guess where I am taking her. If we bring her copy of Heart of the Home, I hope you’ll sign it…then I’ll get the new edition!!!

    Congratulations on the book and movie offer!!! Take care and enjoy the calendar creating b/c I sure enjoy them every year!

    • sbranch says:

      Wasn’t that Jack Benny movie FUNNY… Ann Sheridan, love her too. Never thought that much of him, but he was pretty great in that. I forget, it’s called somebody Slept Here. Looking forward to meeting you and your sister!

  91. Just learned from Rainy Day Books that the location and time of your Kansas City stop have been changed from what is posted on your website. BIG disappointment since another girlfriend and I were looking forward to the opportunity to meet you. Wish you could fit in Springfield MO between St. Charles and KC; I’m sure you have many fans here in the “Heart of the Ozarks.”

    • sbranch says:

      I hope it’s not changed too much . . . we’ve tried to keep up with updates, and I’m afraid we must have missed this, but when I saw your comment we ran to fix it. Hope you can still make it. It’s just the car thing, otherwise we’d love to stop, but we have to keep going or we miss the next place.

  92. Lynn Cooper says:

    Just as I will miss Downton when it ends, I will miss your commentaries about the episodes that have played. I, too, wish Tom would end up with Mary. What woman in her right mind would not want to end up with a catch such as Tom, a man with common sense and a big heart, and good looking to boot?

    Alas, I feel that I will suffer withdrawal symptoms when the series ends, but know that I will purchase the entire series on DVD so I can watch it over and over to my heart’s content, much like a small child watching reruns of a favorite show.

    Relish your spare time, Susan. My guess is that it will be short lived and you’ll get an inspiration for some new and lengthy project. Enjoy your day.

  93. Tara Baker says:

    Congratulations Susan on finishing your book! I can’t wait to read it. I think I’m going to re read The Fairytale Girl (again) just before your new one comes out! I read that so slowly because I didn’t want it to end! Enjoy your calendar making…. (aka art for our kitchen walls)

  94. Alice P. says:

    Congratulations on finishing your book! Thanks for the wonderful informative recaps. I saw Downton Abby for 2 seasons on Netflix and then no more. How I’ve missed it. I find myself looking forward anxiously to the next episode post. Thanks for taking the time to share this with everyone.

  95. Schotzy says:

    I look forward to every recap… so sorry when DA comes to its conclusion…. but have huge hopes it all ends well… btw… does anyone think that Grahnnie looked exceptionally well and much younger this week…. Loved her retorts to Miss Crookshank.. have a lovely week.. I look forward to those new magazine editions..

  96. Nancy says:

    Hi, Susan. I was only recently introduced to your amazing works, and am already an avid fan! I’m currently reading A FINE ROMANCE, perfect timing, I think, as my 17-year-old granddaughter and I will be going to England in July. Though I’m not an artist of ANY talent, and have published nothing, I’ve had a narrated family cookbook brewing in my head for some years, that friends and family members have begged me to write. Your book inspired me to begin that cookbook! After sharing with him my love for your work, my beloved husband of 47 years (himself a published artist, having put himself through college to his Ph.D. doing scientific illustrations) gave me, for Valentine’s Day, a large container of all things an aspiring artist would need, and a new Rapidograph and India Ink (oh yes, and Truffles)! I, too, have a wonderful “Joe.” I will be preordering your new book and can hardly wait to read it. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with so many of us!

    • sbranch says:

      I already love your husband! My next book has lots of How-to in it that I think you will enjoy, although it does sound like you are doing quite well on your own!

  97. Bonnie says:

    Hi Susan, I enjoy your posts so much. Although I am not a follower of DA, I came across The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (with forward by Julian Fellowes), on another blog I follow and wondered if you have read it ? I thought you might be interested in it if you had not seen it. I understand there is a lot of information and pictures. Sounds like it would be a good book for DA fans.
    I have a black and white girl kitty (Miss Kitty) who looks more like Jack than your girl kitty. I especially love all the antics that Jack gets into! I have read both your books – A Fine Romance and The Fairy Tale Girl and am anxiously awaiting the continuation of your life. It’s so exciting to think of a movie!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve heard about that book! I will very likely see it in all the National Trust Gift Shops we visit when we go back to England! Thank you so much Bonnie, and hugs to Miss Kitty!

  98. Paula Indelicato says:

    We begin our Wednesday Mahjong group by first reading your DA critique on my I-pad !
    Everyone loves your review of both the characters AND the wardrobe. . .so nice to savor.
    Thank you, thank you from your Cape Cod girlfriends. 💕Paula

    • sbranch says:

      How fun you have girlfriends so into Downton that you can read this and everyone understands it! xoxo Tell everyone I said Hello!

  99. Martha Rodik says:

    Hopefully I will see you in Hudson, Ohio! Love the cozy pictures of your home. Kitties are so lucky to be inside and not out in the cold. Love the picture of Jack going to seek warmth behind the pillows. I keep thinking May is coming soon and so is your new book! Can’t wait!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m pretty sure our Girlfriends here on the Blog, Twitter and Facebook, those who’ve preordered, will have the book right around my birthday in early-ish April. 🙂 That’s what it’s looking like so far!!!

  100. Barb from Ohio says:

    As usual, you have given a brilliant synopsis of this weeks episode. It does seem like they’ve outdone themselves this season with the hats and outfits, doesn’t it? The outfit Mary wore to that dinner was a knockout. I know you and a lot of the girls commenting on here think Tom and Mary should be together, but I personally would have liked to have her get together with Charles Blake, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. He wasn’t trying to impress her like Gillingham was, and I never liked Tony at all. I’m warming up to Talbot, but I think it’s because I like the actor playing him. He was in a little movie with Amy Adams called Leap Year, playing a disgruntled Irishman who falls for her character along the way as he escorts her to her fiance, to Dublin I think. It’s a cute movie.
    I do wonder about why someone’s taking pictures at Mrs Patmore’s, but I too think, as Mary Ann pointed out, it could be an investigator after the couple staying there. At least Andrew has admitted the fact he can’t read and Barrow has been teaching him, but even that has been taken away from Barrow. I just feel something bad is going to happen there, and just when we are starting to feel sympathy for him. And so happy for Mr Mosley moving forward and getting a teaching position. Just seems like it would make room for them to keep Barrow, but we’ll see. Almost forgot to mention Violet, cleaver Granny that she is, putting Cruikshanks in her place and getting her son the puppy–what a surprise.
    And I think big congratulations are in order on finishing your book! I don’t know how you get it all done–what other writer today hand writes and illustrates their own books? I have several of your cookbooks I’ve acquired over the years, and the other two books in this series and they are all so beautifully done and so unique. Can’t wait till this new one comes out but I know I must. Hope you take a break now and enjoy the snowy season since it’s finally arrived. We have it here too!

    • Barb from Ohio says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention the trick Mrs Hughes and Mrs Patmore played on Carson, but he so was asking for it. A woman can only take so much of his complaining so maybe he will soften a bit since he’s had to cook for them one night.

      • sbranch says:

        I don’t think I would have been as tricky! I like the way they handled it! For the times. Now I think English is a good way to go!

    • sbranch says:

      I just wish they didn’t take me so long to do . . . because I have so many ideas for others! But they are works of love, this is true. Not everyone wants Mary with Tom, in fact I think most of our Girlfriends don’t like the idea, but that’s the fun of it, we shall see. I think even your favorite Charles Blake might still have a chance!

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