Hi Girls, I'm back! How're all the WILLARD girls doing in 2011? So far, so good for me. If you need any help in the keeping resolutions, or in the dreams-come-true department, might I remind you of this tricky tried and true method? Every little bit helps!

Right now, I'm wearing two old cashmere sweaters over a long-sleeved turtleneck shirt, I have another sweater draped over my flannel-jammie lap; my slippers are warming in front of the heater vent, so when my feet get cold, I can exchange the warm slippers for the cold shoes; I'll keep that going through the day. I'm not wearing a hat yet; this could come later. It's so cold; I got up this morning, turned on the faucet to brush my teeth and no water came out. Not a good sign. But there was water downstairs in the kitchen, so I have tea; which is the main thing. If the pipes are frozen up there, that's the way the cookie is going to crumble; we'll have to worry about it later. It's still dark, the thermometer outside the window reads 5 degrees! Not fit for man nor beast. I'll take a picture out the window, soon as the sun comes up. My girlfriend Diana called from California yesterday where it's 80 degrees, wanting to know why, with the choices there are to be made, why am I on Martha's Vineyard???? (She wails this.) But I am happy as a clam. Winter is the king of intimate delights; I love the quiet, the fire, I like socks, and watching the birds and squirrels at the feeders.

And it's not like we don't get out...Joe takes me for what he calls "airings" -- "do you need an airing?" he asks, and then we go for a ride and get lattes, or go out for dinner. And yesterday we bundled up and drove across the island to a girlfriend's house for a wonderful sit-down lunch. One of the guys who was there had gone to the pond early yesterday morning; had chopped a hole in the ice and had gone in there in his waders (this is true insanity, and one reason we love men so much; no woman I know would do this) and brought us fresh, just out of the ice water, oysters. For lunch. Talk about a hunter-gatherer! What a man! There we were, cozy in sweaters, wrapped in scarves, drinking Prosecco, eating icy oysters in front of a fire, toasting each other. What winter? The trick to surviving a cold winter is with warm and crazy friends. Laughing raises endorphins. Which brings on hap-hap-happiness. I'll have to remember this for my next list of How to Be Happy!

I'm sure it helps knowing we're going out to California next month; there's a light at the end of the igloo -- Joe and I are getting our room with a view on the Lakeshore Limited, winding west along the Great Lakes to Chicago then on to LA, where those palm trees are stretching up to the sun over beautiful wide, sandy beaches. My mom's birthday is one good reason to be going; lunch at Cold Spring Tavern above Santa Barbara is also good; and the other is that I'm giving three talks during the month we'll be in California. If you're going to be in the neighborhood, I'd love to see you at one of them, they will all have trunk shows too -- we put all the information on the EVENT list on my Facebook Page, scroll down and look on the left....for dates, times, and driving instructions.

In case you've never taken a long-distance train ride, and would like to do so, vicariously, without ever leaving the comforts of home, come along, I'm going to "TWITTER FROM THE TWAIN" -- it'll be live; as we chug along for the 3 days it takes to cross the country, I can tell you about sunrises and sunsets outside the window and give you up-to-the-minute train news! You can sign up for Twitter HERE...(you don't have to DO anything to be on Twitter; don't have to Twitter yourself if you don't want to; you can just read if you like; or you can Twitter to me). Twain Twitter starts on February 23.

Speaking of happiness...I remember how much you seemed to enjoy the COOKIE JAR, and because of that, I got a little crazy with ideas for other kinds of "cookie jars." I was really doing them as a surprise for you to find on my new blog, but I'm too excited, I'm not good at waiting... (there will be plenty of other surprises!) --- I hope you enjoyed the GIRLFRIEND'S ALL CHOCOLATE VALENTINE I put on the home page! Isn't it cute? :-) I just love it! Here's another one--- thought I'd send it along in this WILLARD, since it's Recipes for a Romantic Dinner which I hope you will need. Just click on the recipe you want.

With Valentine's Day coming up, you just might want to light every lamp, every candle; fill your house with baking smells, and invite your friends for a Sunday the 13th Love-In Lunch and help them survive winter too! It's a definite cure for winter blahs. Especially if you make nice, pink SKIP AND GO NAKED'S and serve them in martini glasses. They are guaranteed to perk up any party.

When I wake up in the morning, in that dreamy time before what passes for consciousness sets in, I've been thinking a lot about the new blog...what I'm going write about. You can tell I've been warming up to it by the way the WEB SITE has changed. I'm thinking my blog will be like a house, with fully "decorated" "rooms" you'll be able to go into, such as The Kitchen, the Sewing Room, the Garden, the Art Studio, the Library (where we talk about books)...also, I thought you might like a Martha's Vineyard Room... and maybe a room in England...so that's what I'm working on. But the big bloggy action will be in the "Living Room," that's where I'm going to tell you a story, in the big chairs, in front of the fire, we'll have tea with honey and cream, you can wear your slippers and bring your knitting. That's what I'm dreaming about. Because I don't think any of us is ever too old for fairytales. It's coming soon, I'll let you know...if you have any requests or COMMENTS, I'd love to hear them.

What else is new? Well, Judy and Kellee were at the quilt show known as ROAD TO CALIFORNIA outside Los Angeles last week, and it sounds like they saw a lot of you there! They met a ton of people, had a great time and we sold out of my new FABRIC the first day! Everyone loved our new QUILT PATTERN, which also sold out. (BTW, we have all kinds of patterns -- some are free...aprons, pillows, quilts). More of everything is on its way; we should have it in by the end of next week. We love the small quilt shops -- it would be great if you could find my fabric at your local store, so be sure to ask for it -- it's the Susan Branch Collection from Quilting Treasures by Cranston -- but if you really can't find it, we'll have it HERE for as long as it lasts. I wished I could have been a fly on the wall at the show...Kellee and Judy said the creativity in the place was overflowing--everyone did darling booths. And just for starters, besides everyone who drove there, eleven busloads of happy people came in every day! 600 of them signed up for this very WILLARD at the show.... and are reading it right now -- Say hello! Welcome to the club! Click champagne glasses, gladaseeya! ... We hope you love it here! Here's a photo of the new quilt made with my Friends Collection -- and a photo of the booth. In case you'd like to see more, we put photos for our FOSB on FACEBOOK.

Now, for your perusal.... here's a list of

Fourteen Good Valentine Things to Do

Number one: Go to the movies and see The King's Speech! You will love it!

Send an old-fashioned children's Valentine to your best friend, your mom or your sister.

Play this FUN LITTLE GAME on a cocktail napkin.

Hang colored lights inside, over your kitchen windows.

Make breakfast and take it back to bed, enjoy the quiet, eat and dream while snowflakes swirl (or palm trees sway).

Hide a little surprise, a handwritten note or card, under a pillow, in a medicine cabinet...something chocolate under the front seat of the car, call and say, look under the seat honey!

Read Enchanted April, do it do it do it!

Watch "Love Actually" with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth; "Shirley Valentine" with Pauline Collins and Tom Conti; or "A New Kind of Love" with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Put on red lipstick and seal your Valentines with a kiss.

Show tenderness; make someone a cup of CHOCOLATE COFFEE, tuck someone in with covers shmooshed around the ears, surprise them with a homemade HEART-SHAPED CHOCOLATE CAKE; give a foot massage.

Give yourself the gift of love, the kind you dream about, and get yourself a kitty or a dog. If I was getting a cat, I would get a kitten (probably two is best), but for a dog, I think an older one, so he is trained; you can make his day and yours at the same time when you rescue him to his new home, and introduce him to the new light of his life, which will be you.

Call someone who might be lonely to just shoot the breeze.

Take a child you love to an old fashioned bakery and buy her a chocolate eclair. A person never forgets their first chocolate eclair.

Have a lunch and invite your friends! Feed them romantic food.

HeartRomance is in the air! February 6 is a special day for Joe and I, it's our 23rd anniversary! Hard to believe, the last time I looked, we were celebrating our 9th! Time flies when you're having fun. We are going to Boston, to the first hotel we ever stayed in, to the exact same corner room with a fireplace, to the first restaurant we ever visited together, to walk through the twinkle lights in the Boston Common, hand in hand, like we did that first time.

Sing a hymn for my soul, stand by me as I grow old ...

Perfect timing, my feet are just beginning to freeze again! Hope you are warm and cozy and smothered in love from friends, family, and most of all, the most important of all . . .