Stuff you keep for life . . .

See this pot? I got it at Disneyland in California about two weeks before I painted my first painting. If you saw it on Ebay you wouldn’t give it a second look. I don’t know why I bought it or what I planned to use it for; I think I just loved the bird, but it has held the water for my watercolors since day one.  I’ve filled it at the kitchen sink, carried it through the “wood room” (creatively called that because the walls are wood), through the living room, and into my studio before the sun has come up, day after day, for years. Just a woman and her water pot.

I‘ve dipped my brush into it a zillion times.  My cat loves it too, she wants to drink my water, but she’s not allowed to unless I’ve put clean water in it…which I do constantly, for her. Since I’ve never been quite sure where this ability to paint has come from (sort of out of the blue you know, when I was thirty instead of when I was eight) … I’ve given some credit to this pot which I like to imagine might have a speck of Disney magic connected to it. 

Why not? For all I know Tinkerbell waved some fairy dust over it.  No telling how long that pot sat on a shelf in a “Main Street” store in Disneyland before I got it.  Could have happened. And two generations of kitty lapping can’t hurt either, for magic.  You use something long enough and it becomes rather a treasure to you…an odd, valueless treasure, that you wouldn’t part with for anything.  I also have a spoon that belonged to my Grandma, just a regular wooden spoon she used for making cookies.  Another treasure.  Infused with magic.  I know you know what I mean. 

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54 Responses to Stuff you keep for life . . .

  1. Rachel Lucas says:

    OOH this resonated with me so much! I know JUST what you mean! Whatever anyone else is using, I have to eat (at home!) using one of the forks & knives I inherited from my grandparents…they are nothing special, not made of silver or anything…but they hold a part of my pastthat is magical. If I look around as I write, I see many things that hold that magic…they are worthless and priceless at the same time! Wonderful post xoxo

  2. Your finding this little pot reminds of when I found my favorite morning coffee mug that came from a sale shelf at Cracker Barrel. It’s the one I always pick for that first cup. It’s not the prettiest but it just feels “right” for bringing to the computer to browse emails et al while I sip away.

  3. Ann Y says:

    Yes, know EXACTLY what you mean…..while I have many “treasures” from my family that reside on shelves or in the “china cabinet”, I feel my grandmother’s sifter is magical. I never knew her, she died before my parents wed, and it is well over 100 years old. With that funny old green color handle and knob on the turning thing, it says only on the front “Perfect – Made in the U S A”. I could not agree more !

  4. Pom Pom says:

    So special. I think you are right, a bit of Disney pixie dust makes your little birdie pot magic. Take a picture of the wood room, okay? That sounds very cabin-like. Cabins are my summer theme (and the three bears) and today it is raining in Denver. I got up early and made a pound cake. It promises to be a good day!

  5. Jeanette says:

    What a lovely reflection! I think your cup is so sweet and it makes me smile. I have few pots I use for my watercolors depending on my mood. Perhaps I need to find just my perfect one!?! I believe it falls into your category of: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. And, perhaps in this case, to be magical too. Happy creating.

  6. jennifer says:

    We are all getting to know you better! How lovely. 🙂
    I too had a favorite ‘water pot’ for my watercolor table. It was an odd shaped glass dish that, I believe it was some sort of ashtray originally, my Mother asked if I wanted. It was perfect for my brushes and water. But after many years, it fell to the floor and shattered. I’m now using an ashtray my Dad used for years.
    Apparently, to me, the little slots for cigarettes are perfect for the tiny brushes I use. I do miss the first glass dish, but this one reminds me of my Dad each time I used it.


  7. Val says:

    Oh, I love hearing little stories like this. 🙂

    And from the tiny glimpses I’ve seen of your cat, she seems to look like my “Stuffed.” 🙂

  8. Pat Mofjeld says:

    I know what you mean, also. I have a favorite candleholder, nothing fancy, that I like to use with a candle on the table when we eat supper starting in the Fall when it is dark by suppertime. Just feels “right”… 🙂

  9. It’s stories like these that are what “LIFE” is all about….I have a black kitty vase that I bought at Disneyland many years ago…in fact my son was 13 years old then….and this Summer he will turn 40!!!!!!
    It’s very impotant to me because I have a black kitty who is 25 years old….and I think I was meant to have that vase….

  10. Laura Jenkins says:

    My grandmother taught me to use my “treasures” every day…she used her good silver, her china, crystal, etc. all of the time. We grew up using the “good stuff” when we visited, even as young children. She thought it was so sad to have beautiful things stored away for those special occasions….when every day should be special…I know that many people disagree…it is more work to clean and care for these things, but I like the mindset…what are we saving it for? Treasures have become useful, comfortable pieces in our daily ritual…thanks, Grandma!

  11. Joann says:

    I understand this totally….it speaks to my heart….

  12. Jacqui says:

    Thank you for sharing your precious little gem! My little treasure is a small blue glazed pottery bowl with a spout for pouring, perfect for whisking up salad dressing and scrambled eggs for two. I found it as an impressionable 20ish girl, wandering around a country craft fair in Webatuk, NY, about 30 years ago. We all do indeed have our little treasures.

  13. Nellie says:

    A bit of pixie dust on that cup! Look what it has brought you! Everyday I glance at a few pieces of furniture that I remember from my childhood; in particular, I remember how my mother used them.
    Now – off the subject a bit – our blueberries are beginning to ripen, and we have picked the first ones of the season! Yay!

  14. Karen P says:

    Beautiful little pot! Wonderful little story! Special keepsake. Keep the pretty watercolor paintings coming! You have a wonderful gift…so glad you “found” it (or may IT found YOU!) those years ago, Susan! 🙂

  15. Rachel says:

    Isn’t every HOME supposed to be filled with those little treasures you just had to have? 🙂 It seems to me that this little pot (what a lovely pot for painting too) was there at the right time 😉

  16. Janis says:

    Ah, yes…..we know exactly what you mean…the magic that connects us to certain things. I have a little grey and white flowered plate that I ate my grandma’s pancakes on. Nothing else would do. Today when I hold that little plate I am instantly transported back to sitting at her kitchen table so many years ago.

  17. Laura says:

    I know what you mean. 🙂

  18. Gail Orban says:

    Love hearing all these stories. We have a small blue crockery bowl marked USA on the bottom that belonged to my mother. Whenever my daughter has a cold and wants chicken soup, it is always served in grandma’s little blue bowl.

  19. Sivje says:

    Oh so darling! I have things like this, that infuse the right bit of creative magic in what I am doing. I love that your little cup is from Disneyland. My oldest daughter works there, on the Storybook Land Canal Boats, which is my favorite part of the park. Every day before work, I text her to “Go make magic” for her guests.

  20. peg says:

    Those funny little treasures….sometimes I will see something…and darling Charlie will look at me with one of those “It needs a home, doesn’t it?” looks…he reads me like a book. Like so many things we find when we least expect it…..those are the ones that are tied to special memories…the who, what, where and whens that tell the story. Rarely expensive, probably has been picked up, looked at and then, back on the shelf it goes. We are the lucky ones that can appreciate the soul of those treasures. ♥

  21. Ann says:

    Mine is the spatula that my Dad always used to flip our pancakes. I use it about every day since he passed. The wooden handle is quite worn and the metal is wearing thin, but what memories it holds for me still today!

  22. Evelyn says:

    I have my mom’s pancake griddle that my dad made. He was a welder and he made it from some scrap aluminum long ago. He passed away in 1996 at age 79 so it’s very precious and special to me.

  23. Thea says:

    i love it! sometimes it’s hard to find just the right size small container that still has the weight and balance you need. i am so loving your blog. thank you! thea

  24. Jennie says:

    Hi Susan~

    I too have a ‘water’ cup for either watercolors or watering down mod podge. And like yours, it isn’t much of a treasure in anyone’s eyes but my own. I will however admit that your cup is MUCH prettier/cuter than what I use. I have an old (classic) whinnie-the-pooh cup given to me in highschool because of my love of all pooh-stuff at the time. On the sides you see pooh bear falling from a tree while commenting on accidents- though, you can hardly see much of anything with all the dried paint on the sides! Yours is so clean and pretty! Of course, as an extra kitty watering hole, I can see why you would try to keep it that way 🙂

  25. Kate says:

    I have so many treasures, and alot of my parents too. Most are special just because I grew up with them. The trick is to know when to let go of a few so you dont end up on a episode of Horders. lol!
    That little pot of yours is very well done, I can see why you like it. My pusses can’t have little bowls, vases, or cups, from kittenhood, the paw was in and the liquid out! 14 years later I’ve gotten so used to drinking everything out of water bottles or insulated cups with lids, I look for the lid when I go somewhere out! Cups look naked without one. I hoped they had grown out of this habit and tried to put a batch of lilacs out, went out of the room and 2 seconds later water and flowers everywhere. Brats. Thanks for sharing with us.

  26. Jake says:

    I have a very plain, very simple aluminum brownie pan and roasting pan that were my grandfathers – he was the family cook just as I am now. They wouldn’t even be considered by the local Goodwill, but I love them and use them every single week. I think if my house were on fire I might try to save them! I can’t imagine how many pans of brownies have been made in it(all from the same recipe found in an old Duncan Hines recipe book) by my granddad, my mom and myself. And I’ll bet the roasting pan has seen many hundreds of Sunday roasts! I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

    Thanks for creating a place where these kinds of things are celebrated!

    Take care,


  27. {oc cottage} says:

    That bowl is adorable! And though I live well within earshot of the Disneyland fireworks…I will have to go with the “kitty lapping” over Tink’s pixie dust as to the infusion of that little something magical!

    m ^..^

  28. deezie says:

    Hi Susan,
    I am just loving your new blog, it is fun and the pictures are beautiful. I love your water bowl, its sweet. Love the coffee cake pictures too. Can’t wait to hear more about your life on Martha’s Vineyard. We are planning a move there in 2 years or less. Can’t wait!
    Happy Day Susan

  29. Joan Lesmeister says:

    What a lovely surprise, Camellias on your magical cup! Old, meaningful treasures everywhere here and our daughter’s homes. I still use the pancake griddle my Mom used when I was a kid! Love your blogs!

  30. Gert says:

    Oh my dear Susan what a wonderful blog!!! And yes I know exactly what you mean, I have a small vase that was my mothers, I look at each day & think of her. In the spring I fillmit with violets (as I did when I was young for her) sweet memories..


  31. Mary Shearer says:

    Not only did I love the story of your beautiful cup for painting but I was excited because I own the pitcher, sugar bowl and creamer that matches it! My sister-in-law gave it to me for my birthday many, many, many years ago. She lived in California at the time and very well could have bought it at Disneyland. I had put the set away for a while and just recently set it out on a beautiful pine tea cart that she also gave me after one of her many moves. I have loved everything Susan Branch for so long and have my daughter hooked also. Now, seeing we both own the same pattern of something a bit obscure has just made my day. Maybe someday I can send you a picture. Thanks, Susan, for all the enjoyment over the years. Love, Mary

  32. Sandra says:

    Beautiful bowl! One of my treasures is a hand crafted rolling pin my great-granddaddy carved for his mother. It doesn’t look like anything special but I hold family when I use it.

  33. lisa skiles says:

    Its the little everyday things that become infused with magic. Monetary value? Not much, but heart value – priceless.

  34. Erica Cooper says:

    Love. I truly love that your little “magical pot” has been with you from the beginning. (and one with such a sweet bird too!) How often do the daily routines of our lives really become little moments that we wouldn’t want to live without? Thanks for sharing… and yes, I also believe that the “magic” from our Grandmother’s is the best kind of all because it was given with love. 🙂

  35. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ♥ xoxo Poof!♥ Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Sweetest Sue….Your Water~Pot Clearly has Been Touched with Lots of Magical Fairy~Dust…& Each Time You Dip Your Paint~Brush in…Poof! Pure Magic always Appears with every Stroke of Your Paint Brush! L♥ve & Hugzzzzzzzzzz! 🙂

  36. Deborah says:

    Makes me think of….I gave my parents a lovely 50th wedding anniversery commerative plate at a party to celebrate that occasion, it was a year before they both went to rest in peace, and that was, oh, 12 years ago now. They proudly had it up on a wall in their home. While cleaning out old glass ware in the basement after they were gone; I discovered the plate in the box it came in. Well, it must have fallen from it’s place on the wall as it was broken in several pieces. The magic for me in finding it: They kept it! Even though it was broken,…they kept it! I can see where my dad tried to glue it back together, and it was just too far gone, but the fact that it was a treasue to them, makes it a treasure to me! And I still have it today..

  37. laurie says:

    I guess its very common among us to use whats dear to us,, I use my great aunts sliver ware everyday as she did,, not saving the silver for “good”, she said everyday we should celebrate, so I use china as she and silver as she.My watercolor water is kept in the same cup I’ve used for years and if I had a nickle for everytime I made the mistake of drinking from the worng cup I would be a wealthy woman.Watercolors mustn’t hurt us because I’ve never fallen ill yet from it,, thats lovely dish and you probably bought because it is lovely, I’m enjoying your blog,,I’m new to this myself,

  38. Melanie says:

    I so love your stories. I am smiling ear to ear (my kids think I’m crazy). I can so relate. I have a metal spatula with a turquoise plastic handle that was my mom’s (from her turquoise phase – 1962-196? Everything in our house was turquoise-even the living room carpet). I use it to take cookies off the sheets – it’s what she used it for and what I use it for now. I can’t imagine baking cookies without it. I wouldn’t know how. xo!

  39. Dawn says:

    I just love hearing stories like this. xoxo

  40. May be fairy dust, but it’s a pretty little pot, for sure. I’d buy it.

  41. EsSuzy says:

    Gosh I love hearing every story about special dishes, cookware,etc. I have some mixing bowls that were my maternal grandmother’s. She died before I was born but my mom told me story of how she got them. My dad gave them to me after my mom died. They will always be used when serving Thanksgiving dinner at my house. Now…get this…my mother-in-law , for my birthday, one year, gave me a teapot, salt & pepper that was her mom’s…the same pattern!!! Some unions are meant to be I guess.

  42. edyB says:

    Woo Hoo ~ love the BLOG!!! What Fun! The yummy photos are terrific, too!
    As always, it’s so much fun to read your stories.
    Thanks for sharing!

  43. Lin says:

    Wonderful post, Susan! I’m not nearly as talented as you, but it took breast cancer and the ripe old age of 55 or so for me to find my passion, making cards! Can’t imagine ever doing anything else!

    When I was going through my chemo treatments a friend here at home signed me up with an organization called ChemoAngels, and for NINE MONTHS I received a card once a week from my Angel, Mary Anne in TN. Though it’s very unusual, we started emailing immediately and became fast friends……..her beautiful hand-stamped cards helped to lift my mood, and before long I started slowly learning her craft. Six years later we are still good friends, having met several times. So out of that difficult year came a new best friend and a new passion – pretty good trade, I think! So in a way, Mary Anne is my pot! (She’d laugh if she saw this!)

  44. Suzanne says:

    Oh thank you for doing your blog…I so enjoy anything that comes to me from you. You are an inspiration to me and all of your fans…Keep it coming. Love from Las Vegas

  45. Nanette says:

    Hi Susan:

    Love and treasure every email from you and this blog is just delightful! Thanks for the great inspirational thoughts and opportunity to share…it’s nice to talk to and read comments from such a great group of friends.

    We moved into my husbands grandparent’s summer home (built in 1857) we inherited in 1978. What fun it has been to live with the traditions and little reminders of our youth (we met when I was 17 years old). The house and basement are full of treasures I’m still discovering! An old washboard, dishes, tea pot and my favorite coffee mill. There’s a oil lamp and cow horn that we use to call everyone in for dinner…and the cow bell hung by the back door always rung as friends and family say goodbye. All are reminders of days gone by and such happy memories…along with lots of barbeques, swimming in the backyard lake and singing to Mitch Miller tapes.


  46. Donna says:

    I like your pastel palette also, what brand of watercolor do u use?

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Donna…if you go to the top of the blog, you’ll see “About Me” — there’s a drop-down; click on “My Art Studio”…I wrote about the things I use for art, the watercolors, brushes, etc. xoxo

  47. Barbara Faylor says:

    I was just going through some of your older blogs and saw the one dated June 22,2011. I was so surprised to see the little pot with the bird on it. When I got married in 1976, we received a little white milk pitcher with the same design. I then found two mugs to match when I was having dinner with my father downtown one evening. He has passed away but I will always remember buying those when I was with him. I have always been amazed at all the things that we collect and never seem to see those same things in someone else’s home. I was happy to see that you have a special piece in the same family as mine. I am a great fan of yours.

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