Things I Will Miss About Downton Abbey

Downton-abbey-subs-august-coverThe Dresses – How spectacular are those costumes! Especially the upstairs dresses! And how they have changed over the years in the story, from fabulous to wonderful to stupendous. Which era is better for gowns and embroidered frocks, I cannot say. They all have been beautiful. I will miss watching the women change 4-5 times a day for meals and every occasion in between.

IMAGES NOT TO BE USED BEFORE 13TH SEPTEMBER 2011. 2011 DOWNTON ABBEY  SERIES 2 EPISODE2  DOWNTON ABBEY returns for a second series. Pictured: General dinner scene Photographer: NICK BRIGGS This photograph is (C) CARNIVAL FILMS and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or CARNIVAL FILMS. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic  cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk.  This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk.

The Furniture – I am fascinated by everything in the background – the overstuffed chairs, the straight back dining chairs, the loungers, the big soft beds, the colorful rugs, chests with a drawer for every item of clothing, that immense dining room table that seats 22 or more. I love all of it. Each little piece has a purpose all its own. One chair for reading, one lounge for fainting on, one table for tea service, and on and on.


The Accents – From the proper English spoken by the Grantham family to the Irish brogue of Tom Branson, the chauffeur/son-in-law to the Scotch tongue of Mrs. Hughes, downstairs housekeeper, all the languages spoken in the past by several of the characters are hinted at by the accents they use in 1900’s England. What a wonderful melting pot it becomes in one household both upstairs and downstairs.


The Kitchen – A lot happens in the castle kitchen and it is all very authentic to the time and station. How fascinating to see in detail how a true Victorian household was run from downstairs. And who wouldn’t fall in love with Mrs. Patmore on first sight? I am sure her bark is worse than her bite!

Multiple Emmy® winner (including Best Miniseries!) Downton Abbey resumes the story of aristocrats and servants in the tumultuous World War I era. The international hit is written by Julian Fellowes and stars Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, plus a drawing room full of new actors, portraying the loves, feuds, and sacrifices of a glittering culture thrown into crisis. Downton Abbey Season 2 - Episode 1 January 8, 2012 at 9pm ET on PBS Matthew and Mary take up the cause for England as World War I rages. Shown from L-R: Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Credit: (C) 2011 Nick Briggs/ITV for MASTERPIECE Usage: This image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only.

The Romance – There is actually a lot of romance and love among all the stories at Downton Abbey. I am enthralled by them all and am rooting for all to make it in good English style to the end. We can’t forget the ill-fated loves of Sybil and Tom, and Mary and Matthew. But there is still hope for the ongoing romances of Bates and Anna, Carson and Mrs. Hughes, and the family Lord and Lady Grantham. It may sometimes seem like a soap opera, but I truly adore a good love story.


Maggie Smith – Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess is the star of the show. Her character has the wisdom and wit to carry any conversation and opinion to make it interesting. She challenges every new convention and all change in general. No one gets better or more biting one liners than the Lady Violet. She will be missed most of all as she has made her character the center of the family as well as the center of the story of Downton Abbey.

Sometimes Christmas Comes After Christmas

Sometimes Christmas doesn’t happen on Christmas Day.  Sometimes people are working. Sometimes family members can’t get together on a particular day.  Sometimes Christmas comes after Christmas.

That’s the way it was in our house this year.  Our Christmas came on December 27th. Two days after the official day, our family got together for a Christmas pancake brunch and gift exchange.



Of course, all the decorations were still up, because this was our Christmas. The miniature Snowflake Village was in place with all the required snow and Victorian buildings. There is even a pond with skaters!



The collection of Santas lined the short wall between the dining room and living room. My favorite is the small white felt Santa who holds his own among all the giants.




The fireplace mantel is a tribute to my mother, who was a supreme baker, especially at Christmastime.  Anything having to do with candy and sweets can be found there.


The card holder is a set of shutters I painted and stenciled specifically for its Christmas charm. I love it standing so tall next the fireplace.

We don’t have much room for a Christmas tree, but the tall narrow tree seems to fit pretty well.  We have many decorations collected over more than forty-five years.  It is very  nostalgic to handle each one while decorating the tree.  We are tinsel people and always have been.  I know it’s going out of fashion, but I love it.



The table is all set and ready for everyone to arrive.  An hour or so later it was full of family, pancakes, eggs, bacon, biscuits and cinnamon rolls.  Everyone had their fill before emptying the tree of all its gifts.

Outside it was rainy, windy and cold.  Inside it was warm with a fire, bright with all the lights, happy with everyone talking and laughing.

Outside it was unpleasant.  Inside it was family.

Outside it was miserable.  Inside it was Christmas!




The Importance Of Decorating

I love decorating for the season, I love decorating for the holiday, I love decorating for the day. Any occasion really and I will throw up a wreath or a garland or a special picture. I have always said, “Give me a theme and a color and I’m ready!”


Enjoying the changes in the year is so enhanced by changing my environment. I feel the march of time on the outside needs to be matched by the change of color and bunting on the inside. It can be small. It can be epic. It just needs to reflect you and your home.

While taking down the Halloween decorations to get ready for the Fall/Thanksgiving paraphernalia, I was thinking how important it is for families to mark the holidays. How important it is to change with the seasons, the months, the celebrations of life.


I think decorating for special occasions, whether for a day or a season, keeps us in time with the year, our lives and our families. We look forward to each event instead of being overrun by it. Making special arrangements also gives the occasion more meaning and certainly more fun.

When we plan decorations for an event, we keep our minds on other people and our sense of hospitality is enhanced. Will the kids like this? My mother would love to see her things used like this. I think the neighborhood will appreciate this.


Change itself is a good thing for us, especially as the years go by and we get somewhat set in our ways. Keeping up with change, rather than dragging behind, can be one sure way to stay young or at least young at heart. Expecting, planning for and being a part of new different experiences is very invigorating and keeps us adaptable – which is a very good thing.

Experiencing events by decorating for them is just plain fun and can be done with children. Traditions are made of these. Memories are made of these. Share the joy! Share the fun! Decorate!

10 Things You Want your Grandchildren To See You Do

1 – Love Unconditionally. Let them know they are the light of your life. Always end the conversation with “I love you”. Tell them often how much they mean to you.

2 – Cheer them on. Not just at soccer or baseball games, but always tell them they can do it. Give them encouragement. Always be on their side and help them to believe in themselves.

3 – Laugh. See the funny side of life. Tell jokes and laugh at their jokes. Use humor to heal the heart.

4 – Hug. Make physical contact when appropriate. Give a good hug and kiss. Sit close and snuggle. Hold hands when walking.

5 – Move as much as you can. Keep active and do it with the grandkids. Walk. Ride bikes. Swim. Hike. Camp. Go fishing. Garden. Dance. Anything done with a child can be fun!

6 – Enjoy life. Don’t be a hermit. Be active in the world. See friends. Go to movies and plays. Listen to music. Go to the library. Join a club. Be active in church. Meet your neighbors.

7 – Be positive. Keep a good attitude. Don’t complain. Change the things you don’t like and adjust to the things you can’t change. Be an optimist.

8 – Have a hobby. Keep busy. Have a passion and an interest. It gives you something to talk about!

9 – Forgive. Set a good example and let go of the wrongs done to you. Learn to say “I’m sorry” also.

10 – Always greet them with a smile. Make your grandchildren feel as though you have been waiting for only them. Always always greet with a smile. Tell them how glad you are to see them.



Music, Music, Music!

Another September, another week at Walnut Valley Music Festival in Winfield, Kansas. What a delightful, wonderful way to get saturated in bluegrass, folk, country, gospel, celtic and every other kind of acoustic music you can imagine. Camping in the 5th wheel at the Fair Grounds and listening to instrumental and vocal tunes all day is my kind of vacation.


Gramps and I have been coming for about five years now and love it more each time we are here. The music comes from all parts of the world, yet needs no translation. We understand each rhythm and beat. It’s truly magical, even if we don’t know the words.

Music is like that – it speaks to each heart if its own language. Even children and infants understand the seeming foreign tongue of a lyrical tune they have never heard before. People who can’t understand each other’s spoken language, can read and share music, providing a bridge across every barrier.

dancing images

Instruments are played, songs are sung, toes are tapped and fingers are snapped. It’s the beginnings of dance and we all have it in us – the response to music.

Simple words and notes can make us cry or laugh, pause or become excited. They can make us feel every emotion or stun us as though we have been slapped. They can stir rebellion or quiet the raging soul. Nothing affects us quite like music.

Music can do things like nothing else in the world. It can change a child’s brain who learns to play an instrument. It can enrich a child’s life who sings in a chorus. It can enlarge a child’s world who plays in an orchestra or band. Nothing affects a child the way music does.


Gramps and I have done it all – we have sung in choirs, played instruments, taught songs to our children and grandchildren, provided music lessons to younger family members and probably sung “Happy Birthday” at least once to everyone we know.


Walnut Valley Festival is one of the places we visit to learn, understand and share that mystical language we call music.

Let’s Walk

Every evening as the sun is setting and the temperature is becoming more tolerable, Gramps and I take a walk around the neighborhood. We don’t exactly power walk, but we don’t meander either. We walk fast enough to raise our heart rate and slow enough to talk.


Part of the reason we do this activity is health improvement. Walking has a positive effect on almost every part of the body and on almost any problem you might have. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But it’s true!

Walking improves thinking, sleep, blood pressure, weight, the immune system and Vitamin D levels. It strengthens the heart, legs, butt, tummy and bones, and reduces stress and risk of dementia. What else can do so much for you while requiring nothing but shoes and a little time?

The biggest reason Gramps and love to walk is it is fun. We hold hands, talk, look at nature and visit with others walking their dogs on the same route. It is really a grand time for us. We share happenings from the day, bring up new ideas, rehash old ideas, make future plans. We listen intently to each other and laugh a lot. Sometimes we just walk in silence and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood. What a precious time it is!


When grandchildren come to visit, they usually walk with us (or use a bike or a scooter or whatever). They love taking the walkie-talkies along for some added interest. One of them runs ahead with one of the walkie-talkies and gives a report of what they see i.e.. an ant hill, two toads and a robin. The kids see things we usually don’t, so it is an added treat. In fact, it is so much fun with the kids, we usually go farther. And the little ones like to hold hands too!


I can’t think of many things more fun, more positive or more healthy than just plain old walking around where you live. Can we walk?