Here's a photo of the amazing full "Pink moon" we had last week, looking particularly beautiful, shining down over Martha's Vineyard. . . The next time I see a full moon like this, about two weeks from now, (omg!) will be from the rail of the good ship Queen Mary II, somewhere out in the wild Atlantic ocean. We'll be completely out of our element, sea-banded, and on our way to England for a two month trip! I still can't quite believe we're going . . . I give myself chills when I write this. Maybe music will calm me down.

Uh-oh, I don't think so. It's worse! In a good way. Sometimes I enjoy a little torture.

I painted this for my Love book (which came out in 1994), because it's what we were doing at the time; dreaming, planning, and saving; hoping to someday make a very big dream come true!

Sailing away on an ocean liner has been something Joe and I have talked about since the first night we met; although at that time, we were each dreaming it separately; it was one of the little discoveries we had in common that night.

But time went by, and we continued to let life, work, and other things hold us back; we could always find a reason not to go; and then, in 2004, we finally sailed off on the QEII. We've never been the same; we've lived on the memory of that trip for a long time; it's taken us eight years to get it together again to go back; we left behind unfinished business from last time.

We saw a lot back then, but we never did make it up to the Lake District to see Beatrix Potter's house at Hill Top Farm; my life just won't be complete until I do! I know I could probably go on-line and look at it all, but I haven't, and I'm not going to. I've been saving it, savoring the knowledge that someday I'll return and see it with my own eyes. I don't let my friends tell me anything about it when they've gone. No pictures please! I keep it all a secret from myself so I'll be surprised. Don't tell me!

I do know all her original furniture is inside her charming cottage; I just have to see how she decorated it! I'm not sure what it is about her that touches me so much; I've tried to analyze it. It's not really her art, although her simple drawings, soft colors, and charming stories are wonderful; I think I relate to her on some sort of psychic level. I love what she did with her life. She was original, she followed her heart which was all about her love of nature; she was brave, dealt with life's blows, and chose a path that was all her own. I wish I could buy up a huge piece of America and keep it wild and protected forever; that's what Beatrix Potter did for England. My secret title for this trip is "Finding Beatrix Potter." (Joe's secret title is "Pub food: where to find it, how much of it can we eat.")

Of course, there are 10,000 good reasons why we shouldn't go right now and only a few why we should. The ten thousand CON reasons are all worrisome responsibilities having to do with everyday living; we're not listening to them anymore; the PRO column won because it had more to do with life questions, like for one, how short life is. And because, at this moment, we're blessed with good health, for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our kitties, that's what made it seem like now was actually the perfect time to go. So we decided to put our real life on HOLD, and go get us some new memories.

And, the really amazing thing is, we get to take not only everything, but everyone with us! This means YOU. We're taking the computer and I can show you the ship and the ocean, everything, via my blog; and then when we get there, I get to show you all the reasons why I'm in love with this beautiful country.

I'm packing my watercolors, brushes, pens and paper, and I'll paint and write an England diary while we're there, that I'll bring back and publish so you can all follow along on the trip. I'm also including more about the inspiration for this trip in the diary, the rest of the story of how Joe and I met. I'm so excited, thinking about all the things I hope to share with you: the hillsides of wild bluebells (!), frolicking baby lambs, thatched roofs, the grocery store where they sell "breakfast milk," knitting and stitchery shops, old bookstores, and the castles! The little towns and four-hundred-year-old stone cottages! A tour of Emma Bridgewater's factory! Table settings and teapots and desserts and linens in tea rooms, recipes from the pubs, and old churchyards (eight-hundred-years-old! Seriously.); dovecotes and wild gardens all in spring bloom. And the fuzzy yellow baby ducklings that waddle around all the streams and lakes in the spring. We're going back to Sissinghurst! to walk through Vita's wonderful white garden again. You're going to love it.


We're sailing away on May 4th aboard the ocean liner Queen Mary II (which is about 150 feet longer than the unsinkable Titanic, and twice as thick with a double hull, thank you very much), past the Statue of Liberty and the tip of Manhattan, under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, past Coney Island and out into the vast Atlantic Ocean, arriving in Southampton early morning on the seventh day. The regulars on the blog know all this, but I haven't told the Willard Girls yet -- I hope this isn't too much of a repeat for everyone, but I do want you to come with us, and bring your mom, your sisters, your grandma and your girlfriends (and husbands too!). It will be so much more fun having you along!

Talking to the girlfriends on the blog, I know there are others of you out there who are contemplating making a big dream come true. I have done a few "Inspiration Scrapbooks" over the years, which I put together just for the purpose of dreaming. They are not beautiful in the way true scrapbooking can be, no origami in my books, they're just about function and inspiration. Come over to the blog when you are done reading this, because I put my Dream Garden Inspiration Scrapbook up so you can see and get ideas for your own Dream Books.

And, btw, speaking of Moms! Mother's Day is going to happen just about the time we step onto English soil, on the first Sunday we're in England. So of course I'm making plans for it right now! They say, "The best way to remember Mother's Day is just to forget it once!" I don't ever intend to let that happen!

When we turn our calendar over to May 1, you'll see that the page is all about having a Mother's Day Tea! A great celebration of spring and womanhood and Moms. I propose it should be a Mother's Day Tea, and also perhaps, if you so choose, a Bon Voyage Tea Party for all of us going on the trip!

So I made you a set of Ocean Liner Cupcake Toppers that you can just print right out on card stock on your computer. And I put up all the recipes on the May calendar page for you to print out. So you can have your tea party, and make a toast to our trip. Recipes for yummy soft egg salad and cucumber sandwiches that melt in your mouth, fresh fruit in an ice bowl, coconut layer cake, lavender tea cookies and cream scones with orange butter! You can have this playing on the TV during the party, turn down the sound, turn on some old music, and set the tone.

Use your prettiest dishes, silver, and linens (but don't think that everything has to match, because it's really more interesting if it doesn't!), bring in some flowers from the garden; you can make it a vintage hat party if you're so inclined; we did that one year and it was really fun; the hats made for some great photos.

If you've never had a Tea Party, and have any inkling of maybe doing this, please be brave and try it. Here's a Tea Party invitation you can print out too! There is nothing so wonderful as the gift of a Tea Party in the spring to celebrate Mom's and the amazing things they do that hold the world together. P.S., you should know, pink champagne is not unheard of at a Tea Party.

We have lots of good things for MOM this year -- and for all the nurturing, loving women in your life.

You can give your mom, your sister, your grandma or your aunt a recipe book to fill out, and she can put in all your family favorites! You can get someone special's life story, and keep track of priceless memories. And make every day Mother's Day.

And, speaking of Tea Parties, you have to see this wonderful glass dome I found! I don't really care for the new ones they're making these days; so thick, heavy and clunky . . . I've looked forever for a light-weight, thin-glass, beautifully-shaped dome that would work in a variety of ways with all the footed and unfooted cake plates I already have. I found it!

That's just a regular dinner plate under it in the first photo, and it works just fine -- for muffins or cupcakes -- for cakes I put it on a larger, platter, and it's even better. It also works with all of my footed cake stands. We do have the glass cake stand in the picture too, it's very beautiful too; it's not a perfect fit because of the ruffle on the stand, but I use them together all the time. So pretty!


Well, girlfriends try as I may to keep writing and not deal with the realities of packing and getting ready to go, I can't think of anything more to say! I know you find that hard to believe! Me too. I'm probably forgetting something; the subject of shoes keeps floating through my head. But that's why blogs were invented. If I forget something here, I have another place to make up for it. Have a wonderful day, here's a kiss to build a dream on: XXX Or three. Be good to yourselves.

In two weeks, they'll be blowing this whistle.... Will you be ready?


Here are a few other things for the special people in your life, Happy Spring Girlfriends!!!