Well, it isn’t quite April, but almost! Right now everything seems to be almost: Pandemic is almost over, Ukraine has almost won, the tulips are almost up, it’s almost time to go to England, and my new book is almost here, it’s almost April, almost my birthday, and my sisters are almost here! The only thing not almost, is this Willard! MUSICA

So here begins the painting of the cover of my new book. I had an idea of how I wanted it to look, but at this point, I’m thinking, I hope I’m going to like it … but I had a ways to go. . .

And here I’m beginning to love it because of the moon in the middle ~ but I’m nervous to do the border I have in mind, because I might ruin the whole thing . . .

I wanted to paint the sky over the Atlantic we see when we’re on a ship, a huge profound ice-cold, blue-black starry sky that says “infinity” . . . and now I’m happy because it looks like I remember it.💖 If I’ve done the best I can, “good enough” is my middle name. Am I done? Not yet, I think …. it needs a little something more . . . a little more magic . . . And I have to change the line above my name… the correct word is quotations, not quotes . . . 

And there it is! Voila! The finished cover from. . .And today is the day Distilled Genius goes up for presale . . . you can order your copy HERE . . . They are due in to the Studio at the end of June … they will be printed in the USA, with a hard cover, and a ribbon bookmark, so they SHOULD be on time! I hope we’ll have enough to last through Christmas because, due to EVERYTHING that’s going on in the world, we’ve been told we won’t be able to get another printing until 2023 ~ I just never know for sure how many to get. But if Distilled Genius is something you really want, please try to put your name on it now!❤️What a labor of love writing this book has been! My days have been spent with the geniuses of the world. Can’t ask for more than that! I almost didn’t notice it was March! And now, poof! It’s almost April!🌸

I thought you’d like to see a few pages so you have an idea of what you will get . . . this one is from the chapter called The Secrets of Life.✍️

This is from the chapter on Happiness . . . As Lewis Carroll wrote, “What use is a book without pictures?” Luckily we don’t have to worry about that!

Page 234 is in the chapter called Breaking Up ~

and this one is in “Women” … we also have Chapters for Love, Creativity, Diaries, Writing & Writers, Courage, and Fairy Tales to name a few.

At the end of each chapter there are blank pages, so you can include your favorite quotes!💞

And the next bit of exciting information is


I will get to say Rabbit-Rabbit and celebrate spring with 1000 of you in person!👏

. . . that is if you click HERE to sign up to join a Webinar with me and Hayley Solano and her Enchanted Book Club ~ grab a cup of tea or coffee… (or gin if you’re in England!) And join us at 3 pm my time, 2 pm in Chicago, 1 pm in Denver, noon in California, and 8pm in England! This Saturday, April 2! Check the time in your area to make sure. It’s free, sign up and you’ll automatically be sent a link to join … We’ll take questions and talk about creativity and the new book and spring and any questions you might have about the trip to England and all kinds of girl talk! ♥️

Most of the time, I think all I do is work … but I forget! The best part of doing a blog is looking back at my photos and realizing how much fun I’ve been having. After painting and writing in the early hours, our morning walk in the fresh cold air is so beautiful with the sun shining through the trees, almost an out-of-body experience. The outdoors is not one bit like the indoors … two very separate things . . . We’re still bundling up in sweaters and jackets, hats, gloves, scarves . . .

We each put an AirPod in our ear, and turn on our book of the moment on my phone via Audible . . . and off we go, through the woods to the sea! We could NOT love it more. We just finished The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, and NOW, we’re “reading” Brideshead Revisited, an old classic about English society in 1923  … written by Evelyn Waugh. I somehow missed both the series and the movie … but being an Anglophile, I could NOT love this more! It was first published in 1945, during the war, and the writing is amazing ~ I would almost go so far to say awesome! Memories of times gone by, a step back in time in story and language, and for frosting on the cake, it’s read by Jeremy Irons, who acts it rather than reads it. You’ll love it if you haven’t read it! Even the parts that puzzle me are okay because his writing is so eloquent and engaging.

And at the end of the dirt road, is this . . . before we turn around and retrace our steps to home, we stop and breathe and count our blessings and say a prayer for the world, especially for Ukraine (⬅️ click there for charities), we grieve for the brave moms and dads who we just KNOW are going to win this thing! Like most of us the world over, I’ve fallen totally in love with these people fighting for freedom for all of us  … I don’t think many of us do well understanding such cruelty.🇺🇦 But the outpouring of help from the world is certainly making a difference.

We are lucky it’s peaceful here on our little island where the daffodils have begun blooming and where the earth is turning green again . . . and we cleaned the house!

We had to. First off, it’s spring, time to bring in more light and cheer … and secondly, we had to clean up because our dear friend wrote a book about his immigrant grandparents called Blood Pudding … and we invited 60 people to a book party which we had last Sunday! We dusted and vacuumed and moved furniture around . . .

We turned the dining room into a reading room ~ and filled the house with flowers, opened the windows, turned up the heat, lit a fire, brewed four kinds of tea, made cucumber sandwiches and two tea cakes, and had a lovely Sunday afternoon celebrating with our friends!

And when they all went home we had leftover cake and a clean house! How perfect is that? 💖

Extra good because my two youngest sisters, Mary and Shelly are coming to stay with us next week to help celebrate my 75TH BIRTHDAY!🥳 I’m so excited! And then it’s Easter, and then we GET ON THE QUEEN MARY 2, May One, and hit the high seas! And we’ll get to hug under that black starry sky for real! With lots of you! It’s definitely a red letter month and it hasn’t even started yet! If any of you sailors want to bring books to the ship for me to sign, I’ll be happy to do that! That face is a bit of now I feel ⬆️, I’m always afraid to go away, afraid I’ll never see Jack again 🙀, but NOTHING WILL STOP ME.🔪 I just have to step over the fear … so that’s that about that!✌️We’ll be getting another booster FYI, just for extra safety on board, our plan is to have fun and not get sick!👍

We can’t take Jack, but we’ll take his best friend, Petey. Petey rides for free. And so will all of you armchair travelers! We won’t forget you!💞

What else . . . oh yeah . . .

It’s  almost April Fool’s Day, you will need to be ready! This is a gummy worm and that is the shower drain. Need I say more? Even though I’ve done it before, Joe NEVER expects it! Oh the power!😂

Also, Kellee reprinted some notecards for you . . . cheery notes for spring, two styles in each package of 10… you can see they are pretty on all sides! Find them HERE.

Don’t forget to treat yourself . . . 

From our kitchen window we see that apple slices are a big hit . . 

A frozen ear of corn, very popular!

Dishwasher went on the blink, Joe had to get on the floor to see what was going on under there ~ he fixed it! And I got a great shot if I do say so myself! I always say a man fixing things around the house is a pure aphrodisiac!💞

One of my girlfriends turned 71 a couple of weeks ago … we found the perfect candle for her … I made the cake for her party, where we did our girlfriend tradition of putting our rings around her candles … we made a wish along with her,  when she blew them out, all our wishes came true.💫 It’s magic! I’ll need to make one for me! And now, must go … leaving you with one of my favorite quotations …❤️❤️❤️❤️

See you Saturday! P.S. I have a nephew named Jesse who’s in his twenties & teaches art in China! He is Holly’s brother and my sister Mary’s son … Mary just sent me this picture he painted on an outside wall of a building in China, on behalf of Ukraine! Makes me so happy! That’s my boy!💖 What a small world we actually do live in!💞

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 411 Comments


HI ALL! Welcome! Had to celebrate the day with my Girlfriends! I hope you’re being good to yourself! We had another big snow last night, woke up to a marshmallow world. MUSICA? Oh yeah!

Be my Valentine, but don’t forget during this week of celebrating LOVE, to . . .

That should say, “love the cutie you’re with,” which, in case you don’t know, is you!❤️

Guess which cup Joe got his tea in this morning? Oh yeah. On the adorable crocheted heart that our dear Girlfriend Barbara Urbank from Twitter (@barbarasgarden) sent me ~ I think of her every morning when I see this. A pure treasure. As is she. She is having a difficult time these days, and I know your prayers would fill her heart with joy.💞 

So, around here? BLIZZARD! It’s been cold and snowy, and it’s snowing again this morning! Perfect for getting things done. But I am ready to get out and GO! It won’t be long. Every day we inch closer to MAY! That Lusty Month Of May!

I’m still dealing with reality, those are my boots on the kitchen floor in front of the furnace register, filling up with hot air so I can do the big shoe exchange when my feet get cold.

I mean, LOL, look at our kitchen window! This is what happens in a Blizzard, which is snow plus wind plastering your windows. Joe brought the snow broom and shovel in from the barn, everything to dig us out is inside the house and dry and ready to go.

But you have to admit, it IS beautiful ~ and the birds are happy . . . putting on a wonderful show when the windows melt!

And of course, we’re happy too. Crackling fire, lit candles, and little visions of beauty never cease to please.

He LIKES doing this! I have to go out and bring him in, warm him up, make sure he isn’t having a heart attack. So far, so good!

We invited our bubble people to a small dinner party. Feeding each other from the well of sweetness.💞 It’s a must do. Fighting the mental-fatigue inducing pandemic with every fiber of my being. Don’t you just hate this? I don’t hate anything, but I DO hate this boring virus! I even started watching football!🙄 Three games plus the Super Bowl. I even liked it! Save me!

Jack kept me company while I did my very favorite thing, set the table! I used the old blue Copeland Spode that came with this house! Yes, a set of 10 dinner plates was waiting in the cupboard when we moved in! Left behind by the previous owner.❤️ And yes, we will leave them when we go.

I just HAPPENED to have these candles, and just HAPPENED to pick out these roses… I have never matched my candles to my flowers before, but one of my guests is a candle-flower-matching person, and I knew she would appreciate it, and she DID! I used our big 3′ square vintage linen napkins too. Slightly starched, ironed, and smooth as a baby’s hiney. The ones that make you feel like a 6-year-old when you put them on your lap. When you have an appreciative audience, you give them the good stuff!💞 

I spread those roses around the house . . . and brought light to a dark winter with an old-fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down Cake! I LOVE my mom’s recipe for it (⬆️ click for the recipe). It’s perfect for winter. I decided it needed a sauce, so each room-temperature serving sits in a puddle of cold vanilla cream, which almost makes it a Tres Leche Cake, but with pineapple and walnut crunch and that brown sugar chewiness on top. 

The Lilies are gone now, so are the roses, but those white sweet peas are SILL beautiful, now gracing the kitchen table! Kind of a miracle if you know sweet peas!💫

Wasn’t our Webinar with the Cary Library wonderful? Talk about miracles, a thousand of us for a tea party! This was my setup here at home, tea cup waiting, candles lit, I had my new book piled up next to me, and my OLD books, just in case we needed them, and some of the childhood artwork my mother saved for me, everything I could think of for show and tell. We lit up the house as best we could, Joe made a fire, and we just talked and talked. Helen and Nicole were wonderful, I have to thank them again for making it happen! It was like a girlfriend tea party at my kitchen table. Did you miss it? Would you like to see it? Go HERE!Oh yeah, we can talk! There are more Webinars to come, one is tentatively lined up for April. I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s finalized!

Busy busy, storms are perfect for projects, and for solving family ancestral mysteries! This is a photo of my grandfather, the infamous pork-chop-gravy-eating Willard, the man who gave my newsletters a name, here with my darling grandmother, Florence. Born and raised in Iowa, they met at Sioux City High School and married very soon after graduating in the late 1920s because they were crazy kids, and quite brainless in their young years, a trait they passed on to their granddaughter.💖

Willard’s mother was Alice (Allie) Jencks, my great grandmother who used to make boxes of embroidered dish towels (this is one of hers) for my mom every Christmas, a big inspiration for me: if she was making them for my mom, I had to do it too. I remember visiting her at her house in Iowa, playing pick-up sticks on her wide front porch with moths flitting around her yellow porch light, and going up to her attic with her to get one of my mom’s old baby dolls. I was 5 and she was my mom’s grandma.

And THIS person ⬇️ was HER mom, my mom’s great-grandma, and herein lies the mystery.

I have had that photo for a very long time not knowing who it was. Thank goodness I kept it because when I was upstairs digging around for things to show for the Webinar, I found a letter from Willard which I had filed way back in the 1980s when he sent me all kinds of family photos, including this one. I forgot I had the letter (but of course I do, how could I throw it away?) and re-reading it, I found out that that photo ⬆️ was my great-great-GREAT grandmother, Angeline Martin Jencks, the grandmother of Willard and mother of Allie and her four sisters, including my Great Aunt Jose who sent us a box of her old children’s books when I was little, which included one of the best ever, Pollyanna! Wasn’t that a wonderful find? So she hangs on the wall in the wood room now. I wrote all her information on the back of the photo so this kind of confusion won’t happen to any other of her relatives! I’m always working on our family tree, getting little details here and there, trying to make these people come alive for us . . . the Jencks family has been a lot of fun because there’s so much information about them!💖

But, here’s the thing I’m spending most of my time on! My new book, Distilled Genius, the Illustrated Secrets of Life, My 40-Year Collection of Life-Changing Quotes, all 272 pages of pure inspiration🎁, has gone off to Kellee so she can prepare it digitally and send it to the printer!!! This was the first page Kellee finished and sent to me for approval. Now it’s a preview for you! MAS MUSICA? OUI!

If you read these quotes I think you’ll see how this book got the name “Distilled Genius.” I am so excited! It’s the exact opposite of what we’ve all been going through… the isolation, exhaustion, and PTSD from this BORING virus and all the scary news reports … this book . . . is Joy, Hope, Humor, Girlfriends, Creativity, Happiness, Connection and LOVE ~ pulling these quotes together has been the perfect place to spend these winter days ~ pure positivity and genius, reminding me of everything good in this world, has kept me very happy! As soon as I paint the Table of Contents I’ll show you! We gave the printer the green light on Friday, so it’s truly happening. WITH a ribbon! Made in America! They say we should have it at the Studio by the end of June. I will put it up for preorder soon, so I’ll know how many to order! And more preview pages will come! I feel so happy with this. To be able to share this collection after all these years! Who would ever imagine?!?And speaking of Happy Days! This is the other thing putting me in a good mood. Getting the book done, and then getting ready to go, because we are on our way to England on May 1! We’re having a PICNIC!!! Light is changing, days are getting longer, there are new shadows on the kitchen cupboards, I feel it coming!

We’ll be meeting these two Valentines, Rachel and Paul, witty, cute, talented, charming English people, in New York and boarding the Queen Mary 2 together! For those of you coming along, we’ll all be meeting on board to toast the Statue of Liberty as we sail away! Lots of details to come! Rachel and I are working on a talk we want to give on board the ship, something maybe called
The Magic of a Handwritten Letter?💞 What do you think?


It won’t be long now! Dreams do come true!

Well, off I go . . . I still have to paint the cover of the book! And do the Table of Contents… it ain’t over till it’s over. This book was very much inspired by you . . . you gave me a VERY nice reason to go on living this winter, I hope you LOVE it!. . .💖 Pray for our beautiful world. Have a WONDERFUL day!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 460 Comments