Playtime, Girlfriends! ♥

 Time out from all that cleaning and grocery shopping!  Let’s get to the good stuff, the decorating!  ♥  When I was young I would pour over my decorating magazines gleaning every teeny scrap of inspiration about homemaking and decorating.  Of course nothing has changed; I still do it.

(But we need music for the rest of this story, don’t we . . . us dreamers? Yes, we do, click there, and come right back.)

There was nothing I loved more than going to a restaurant by myself, taking my newest issue of Country Living Magazine, finding a cozy table, and ordering lunch.  I would lay my knife across the pages to hold them flat, and slowly go through the whole magazine, absorbed, lost in dreamland, reading every bit of it, while stuffing my face with a BLT, or dipping  French Fries in tartar sauce.

 My favorite restaurant had a tall open fireplace and old, scruffy wooden floors.  Snowy afternoons in front of the popping fire were the best. From the silver-rimmed windows that ran across the harbor-side of the room, I could see the ferry coming into view through the snow and mist and the choppy grey sea.  Because it was winter and freezing outside, I would often have the whole restaurant to myself.  I would wrap my green-plaid shawl around my shoulders and burrow in for an afternoon of uninterrupted home-born happiness. 

The magazines were full of crochet-edged pillow cases, rose-covered picket fences, old hutches with tea cups hanging in a row over baskets filled with apples, and snowy scenes streaming in from what I called “cris-cross” windows.  I dreamed of old stoves and homemade noodles; I learned to tie up fresh herbs and hang them to dry and polish brass candlesticks; I would go home, inspired to try a new recipe, embroider a dishtowel, make curtains, stencil my walls.

There seemed to be a lot more rules about decorating in those days, and one of them was that it was gauche to use faux flowers or fruit.  That’s over now, anything goes, it’s all mix and match, and I’m so happy to finally admit, I love fake fruit!

I love my little faux lady apples in the tiny Longaberger basket, on my miniature chair in the little scene on my stove shelf!  I love the little red pear in the Love creamer my girlfriend Rachel gave me (she’s coming from England for Thanksgiving!), and I love that perfectly wonderful fake little pumpkin!

Over the years I’ve collected fake fruits in pottery, paper, clay, glass, wood, wax, and marble, whenever I run into one, which isn’t that often.

There’s a lot of good things I can say about fake fruit, first off, it doesn’t rot! It doesn’t attract fruit flies; it’s not expensive, and you only pay for it once; and if you get tired of it, you put it away in a bag until you want it again.  A bowl or basketful livens up a dark corner. . . (I just found out, we have a few boxes of pears and crabapples left in our web store, if you need some!)

. . . adding a bit color and whimsy.

It’s fun to mix fresh and fake . . . the pinecones, the little pumpkin, and the sweet-smelling tangerine poked with cloves are real; the rest isn’t.

This marble apple had a hole in the top.  I went out to the driveway and found this little stick, so now the apple has a stem. Mixed media.

This miniature mixing bowl is going to be part of our Thanksgiving tablescape.  And my fakery does not stop at fruit . . . oh noooooo  . . .

I like fake birds too, on a fake tree!  This is my favorite holiday decoration — I started putting this on our kitchen table during the holidays about ten years ago.  Jack the kitten helped me put it up yesterday.

Here it is several years ago, when my sister Shelly lived on the island and had her little Lovebird “Grace” here with her. Gracie gave the tree some serious je ne sais quoi. 

I’ve collected birds forever, some of paper, some with feathers (Jack particularly likes the ones with feathers).  One day, I went around the house gathering all my birds from their perches, from book shelves and bedside tables and when I saw them all together, I realized I had enough for a tree full!  My Bird Tree was born. 

While decorating for Thanksgiving, I’m also planning ahead, so that the Christmas decor will slide right in as the Thanksgiving guests go out the door!

And speaking of decorating and speaking of kitties:  Girl Kitty has been very helpful; jumped right up to help me put on the Thanksgiving tablecloth.  Such a big help! BTW, Girl and Jack touched noses for the first time this morning.♥ 

 But mostly, when he isn’t knocking jars full of paintbrushes and pens off my desk, or climbing up Joe’s pantleg, Jack’s playing with his ball!

One last thing: here’s one reason I love REAL fruit, in particular, the delicious juiciness, beauty and versatility of a red pear.  If you need a little color for your Thanksgiving dinner, ripe red pears are perfect!  Top any green salad with chopped up red pears; or make a sparkly fruit salad with them: Mix together chopped red pears, pomegranate seeds, green grapes, thin slices of red onion, sheepmilk feta cheese (or blue cheese crumbles), and a sprinkle of walnuts or toasted pecans.   Make an orange dressing from 3/4 c. fresh orange juice, 1 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate, and 1 Tbsp. orange zest — simmer together and reduce to 1/2 c.  Chill and pour over cold fruit.  Serve ice cold.

Or have pears for a healthy breakfast; chop them and put them in a bowl along with blueberries, over creamy plain yogurt, and then sprinkle everything with good granola. Yum!

OK, so I think we covered it all, fake fruit, fake birds, real fruit, one real bird, salad, and breakfast.  xoxo

This weekend, I’ll announce the win-win-winner of the book-book-book!

 This, by the way, is what 95% of the photos I’ve taken of Jack look like, he is a blur.  This moment as we speak, he has just reached up out of my lap and has the island-shaped pendant on my necklace his mouth!  Help!!  I gotta go now! ♥ TGIF Girlfriends!!

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285 Responses to Playtime, Girlfriends! ♥

  1. Holly says:

    Fake fruit! I never would have thought to use it. I will now be on the lookout on my treasure hunting days! Antique malls in the midwest are the best, and the little, half deserted farm town antique stores. I could treasure hunt everyday.
    Thanks for the Jack video, Abby (my girl-kitty) loved it. I’m using you and Jack to convince my husband that we NEED a kitten. He thinks two shop cats and two inside cats are enough. He is totally wrong. There is always room for a kitten!
    OH, your kitchen shelves are perfect — perfect enough for Country Living Magazine! My favorite too now that Home Companion is no more.

    • sbranch says:

      Always room for one more! They are such babies!

    • Suzanne Talbot says:

      According to Mary Englebreit, if enough people vote at her website, she may bring Home Companion back!
      Although I love Susan’s blogs and Willards more!

  2. Jacqui G says:

    One word- Longaberger. I just knew you had to have one among your beautiful things…I admit…I have dozens of them! I’ve been to the factory in Dresden, Ohio too . In fact, my dear husband, Mark, passed over going to the Football Hall of Fame so I could go to the factory. That’s love, right? xoxo sweet Sue 🙂

  3. gina h says:

    I love pears too! I just bought some red ones yesterday, and I found an anjou pear that still had a leaf attached, and had to buy it. I always say, “pears are art”. I have some lined up on my counter…pretty.

  4. Nancy D. says:

    Hi Susan! And I thought I was the only one who poured over CL magazine when each issue came and then on Thanksgiving Saturday or Sunday, would pull out all my December issues and pour over all of them, looking at all the holiday decorating. I still like to do it! Jack is darling and looks like a handful!

  5. Gin says:

    Susan, I remember when your recipe page was in Country Living and THAT’S what I looked forward to every month!

    • Karen P says:

      I look for (and often find!) old Country Living magazine’s with Susan’s recipe page in them at thrift stores! I have a nice little “safe-in-vinyl-sheets” set of those and continue to look. How many issues, Susan, did you have your Country Living Pantry recipes in…do you know?

  6. magic and charming as ever . . my favourite magazine is Country Living UK version . . and when my subscription plops onto the mat each month the world outside comes to a speedy halt . . everything stops for CLUK!! Everything stops for Willard too! Such a cute photo of Jack . . guess he never stops! TGIF <3 Enjoy your weekend!

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, as you will see when you get to the I love England part of the blog . . . I see you are branching out, so to speak 🙂

  7. mari says:

    finally! someone who admits to “fake” fruit!!! I love it!!!! The first time my sister came to visit me in my new house in Boston, I asked her 7 yr old and 2 yr old if they would like anything to eat or drink.. The 2 yr old spoke right up “grapes, please!” with that gorgeous grin (he has still to outgrow 🙂 ) – I said, oh, I’m sorry, but I don’t have any grapes, would you like …..” smile – “grapes, please!” – me: I’m so sorry, but i don’t have any grapes. He took my hand, marched me into the kitchen, pointed to the hanging copper basket filled with (fake) fruit, and shouted “GRAPES” – like I was from another planet and was not quite getting the picture. We laugh about it to this day ♥
    So much packed into one post, Susan! Love everything! Since I’m going away for Thanksgiving, I’m sadly taking down my autumn things on Sunday and getting out the Christmas boxes, so when I return, I will be READY! Christmas is such a shorter season than autumn, I love to decorate as soon as possible to enjoy every minute of the beauty of this next season. Thanks for a wonderful blog, the videos (LOVE Jack!) – all the tips and stories – just had to share my fake fruit story with you 🙂 ♥

  8. nicole says:

    I have never seen red pears!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Really? Bright red and beautiful, next time you go to the market, see if they’re there.

    • Paulie says:

      Neither have I….so don’t feel bad. You are not alone.

      • Doreen Strain says:

        Me neither! Learn something new everyday I guess. Today I learned not only about red pears, but how to bake them too!
        Thanks “Girlfriends” !!!!!! XO!

        • Pat Mofjeld says:

          Here’s the recipe (they are cooked on the stove, not baked–sorry, I forgot! 🙂


          6 firm-ripe medium to large pears
          1-3/4 C. red wine
          1 C. sugar
          1/4 tsp anise seed
          2 sticks cinnamon
          thin,unpeeled lemon slices from 1 or 2 lemons

          In a large saucepan large enough to hold the six pears, combine wine, sugar, anise, cinnamon, and lemon. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove core from blossom ends of pears, leaving stem in place. Peel fruit or not (nice to leave on). Set fruit into boiling syruip and boil covered about 8 to 10 minutes, turning fruit occasionally so all portions are at times in the syrup. When the fruit is heated through and still holds it shape, transfer to a serving dish. Boil syrup at high heat, uncovered, until reduced to 1 cup. Pour hot syrup over and around pears. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Good served with cream or whipped cream.)

  9. Brenda says:

    I too have fake fruit, all glass or stone. Usually they reside in a gigantic clear glass bowl, but now, with your inspiration I can see them moving into small unexpected arrangements around my house. My kindergarten pal from across the street loves coming over and playing with the collection. I love the bird tree and your cats must be in kitty heaven with a tree of birds to attack!

    • sbranch says:

      They aren’t allowed to! LOL, I know!

      • Kay says:

        We have an eight-month old kitten, Mario, and I don’t know what to do about Christmas decorating this year!
        I also love fake birds and when I recently found some pretty little robins in a local shop, I had to have them – four for less than £2.00! Our daughter got married last month and used shabby chic, cream birdcages for her table centrepieces. So the robins will be perfect for that and they’ll be protected from Mario by being inside the cage. Not so sure how I’ll protect the tree and shiny balls and baubles though! Perhaps I should put Mario inside the cage – don’t worry, only joking!

        • sbranch says:

          I’m afraid Jack will be spending Thanksgiving in the Peter Rabbit room because of the candles we will have lit, and so many people around! So I understand about Mario!!

        • Jeanette says:

          Kay, wouldn’t it be darling to put tiny trees with the birdies inside the birdcage??? I do. I too love tiny birds, the are the sweetest creatures – so delicate and graceful. Best, Jeanette

          • Kay says:

            Jeanette, thankyou for such a lovely idea. Robins are absolutely my most favourite birds. Not only are they beautiful to look at (all that lovely colour), but they are such dear little characters – quite tame at times. Though I know that to fellow robins they can be quite aggressive and territorial.
            And Susan, I envy Jack spending time in your Peter Rabbit room – what a treat it would be! However, following your example, I now have a Brambly Hedge room and my newly married daughter and son-in-law will be home for Christmas and will be using this room.
            Love to you all xxx

          • sbranch says:

            Oh they will Love that!!!

  10. Patricia Wehner says:

    Jack is precious, and I’m thrilled that he and Girl are getting to know each other! Precious Furry children. Had to tell you that the tea biscuits are absolutely awesome, and the recipe has now made it into “The Recipe Box”! I love it! Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  11. jeannine leonard says:

    Our cat does the same thing with is toy balls. He loves boxes, no matter what size he just fits himself in. He is a grey tux, named cookie and he is 12yrs old.
    Thanks for reminding us about red pears, they are so yummy, while so beautiful to look at.

  12. Lori C. says:

    Love, love, LOVED – the fire-side luncheon, wrapped in your green-plaid shawl! Don’t know if you ever saw the BBC “House of Elliot” series – but in one of them, one of the sisters is wearing a shawl over her gorgeous Victorian nightgown. How romantic!!

  13. Sharon Sieppert says:

    I love the idea of the fake birds in the fake tree. So colorful and festive. I am going to use that idea this weekend. I only have a couple of birds but that is a good start.

    Thanks for the pear ideas as well. Love Pears.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  14. Claudia says:

    I’m so glad you said you love fake fruit! I have a bowlful of fake apples and pears on my kitchen island. It always looks great and I don’t have to worry about fruit flies!


  15. JoAnne says:

    Oh Susan, I love your blog! Fake is fine with me too and I used some red pears in my fall decorating this year. That’s so sweet that Jack and Girl Kitty are starting to get chummy! We have a cat too and we just love him – he’s a special part of our family. I just bought your 2012 calendar yesterday and your illustrations are just so wonderful ~ I have your 2011 calendar also!
    Have a very happy Thanksgiving!
    ~ JoAnne

  16. Martha Ellen says:

    Susan I love your writings today about real and fake! I have both in my home also. They do brighten dark corners! I use them on wreaths that I decorate for Christmas–they look so beautiful with their bright colors. I especially love pears and buy them in season. When we were in Turin, Italy, my husband and I went to a wonderful outdoor market that had the most georgeous fruit–the pears looked divine, so I reached for some to buy—I was scolded for doing that-Surprise–I figured I could pick out my own fruit–the nice vender told me to point to what I wanted and she would bag it for me! Everytime I see a pear I think of this experience. Have a wonderful weekend! xoxo ♥

  17. Cindy Garner says:

    I love it, fake fruit, fake birds and fake roses (not hard tacky plastic though).
    I’m so happy to see the little man running around his new home….he is just adorable.
    If I wasn’t living in a shoe box with four cats and one dog already, I think I would get myself another feline family member.
    ♥♥♥Give Jack a hug from this cat lover♥♥♥

  18. Jan from Michigan says:

    Just received my CL today. The DECEMBER issue! YEAH! Will also wait until after Thanksgiving to enjoy every second of the new issue. I agree that Home Campanion was my favorite before. Susan, have you ever thought about having a Susan Branch magazine? I know it would be a huge undertaking but I am sure the Girlfriends would love it! I enjoy your blog so much that it is the first thing I get on when I get home from work. How excited I get when I see a new posting from you! The BEST stress reducer ever! Many blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving.

    • sbranch says:

      Probably be better if I just wrote regularly for some other magazine, rather than have all of one to worry about!

  19. This is so funny. I also pour through Country Living magazines (I have saved the holiday ones from past years) and I also have a bird tree that I put up every year right after Thanksgiving. I would post a pic, but I am not that computer savvy.

    And I love your kitty. I am allergic to cats, but we have one anyway because he was the cutest thing ever with his yellow fur and big blue kitten eyes. Plus, I promised my daughter she could have a kitty if she went on a trip with her Grandma (she is 12, you have to bribe 🙂 The kitty is all grown now, but I adore him. Allergies and all.

    I love your blog and your Willard newsletter. It makes me smile and reminds me so much of how I grew up. I especially liked the link to the Andy Williams/Osmonds video. We always watched those specials in our home each year. I miss those days. Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Andy Williams. I feel bad for my daughter and her cousins that they don’t have that. I try to have a few things that they will look back on fondly (like the Boston Ballet Nutcracker), but musical shows are just not on anymore. At least ones that are any good. So sad.

  20. Kelly J. says:

    You’ve put me in the mood to decorate a bit more for Thanksgiving! And, how cute is this? My kitty is sitting here on the desk watching your kitty play….now even cat’s are lining up to read your blog! Hahaha! Happy Friday, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      That does it, am happiest woman on earth!

      • Doreen Strain says:

        Hahahaha! Kelly isn’t that too funny….my Kitty is also sitting on my lap here while I’m on the computer and when I clicked on the video of Jack he watched it and when Jack started running around Kitty swipped the screen with his paw trying to catch him. Tooooo funnnyyyy! So now…not only do we like the blog but are Kitty’s are going to start jumping into our lap eveytime they here that little bird chirp, alerting them….Jack is about to take the stage! LOL !

        • Kelly J. says:

          These cats have good taste, and yes, that little bird chirp always gets their attention!

        • Doreen Strain says:

          I’m sitting here reading my post and boy do I need to make sure I proof read my posts…..our instead of are and Kitty’s instead of kitties and here instead of hear…that’s why I’m a nurse instead of a teacher….I guess my mind is moving fast than my fingers! LOL! I’m sure you all got what I meant though! LOL ! Now let me reread this before I click “POST COMMENT” LOL !

      • Kelly J. says:


  21. Pamela Jo says:

    Love the birds and the fruit, and most of all Girl Kitty and Jack! So glad to hear that Girl and Jack touched noses! I think he will keep you, Joe, and Girl very busy! What a sweetie! Molly’s favorite thing to do is bat her little basketball through her tunnel. She has many toys, but she favors my Boyds Bear collection! That was not my intention in putting them on display, but somehow our furry, purry friends always win, don’t they? Molly is the Queen of the house and she may have the bears if that’s what she likes…and it seems what Molly likes, Molly gets! I think I am just here for her entertainment! Have a great evening! ~xoxo~

  22. Debbie Johnson says:

    I love fake fruit too! They look so real as well as a lot of the faux flowers out there.
    So glad Jack & Girl Kitty are getting along.
    You are a brave girl to eat alone. But it sounds so fun with a favorite magazine. I must screw up the courage and give it a try.
    Still working on going to the movies alone.
    BUT I did go to Disneyland once (for an afternoon) alone and had a BALL!

    • sbranch says:

      I love to eat alone, have only been to the movies alone once. Saw Thelma and Louise. Should have gone with a girlfriend!!

  23. Sarah Maldonado says:

    I was so excited to see a new post and what a fun posting it was! Had me looking at all my birdhouse decor and real and fake nests around my kitchen windows, etc. I have this old bench with a nest on it and fake eggs in the nest. It is all covered with a glass conservatory and an electric candle lighting the whole scene from inside. My friend’s husband saw it and said, ‘You know those eggs aren’t going to hatch, don’t you?” Ha ha! I love it when people look at me like I’m a little wacky!

  24. Mel Mel says:

    Seeing little Jack run around like the kitty he is makes me want to run down to our local cat shelter and get another kitty! But I don’t think my Morgan would appreciate it right now. She’s just now getting used to Lucy, the dog, and it’s been a year since we adopted her!

    I love your home and all the wonderful things you’ve collected! You can tell there is a lot of love in your home! Thank you for sharing it with all of us! 🙂

  25. Rita Baker says:

    So nice of girl kitty to help you with the tablecloth – had experiences like that in my past life when I had kitties. It will be interesting to see how many birds stay on that tree – Jack possibly is thinking there may be too many, so he’ll “trim” a few off! Anyway, sounds like you’re having a great time. Today I finished my embroidered Christmas gifts – FINALLY! Time to shop – HUGE craft show tomorrow – YES!!! Have a great weekend and hug the kitties for me.

  26. Marissa says:

    I’ll admit, I would have never guessed that your fruit was fake, especially that little pumpkin!

    Like Jack, my new little kitty Luna likes to help out with my Christmas tree and oddly enough, she looks like a long-haired version of Jack! haha 🙂

  27. pat addison says:

    good afternoon Susan from the snowy pacific northwest, its raining/snowing today, the cats are all in the windows watching the snow and the rain, for awhile we had big fluffy snowflakes coming down and that got their attention. Jack is soooooo adorable, just Tabitha, all cute and playful and full of mischief and fun. i love country living, especially the holiday issues for Thanksgiving and Christmas, i have spent many happy hours reading through them. i love the poached pears in wine and cinnamon, that is part of our dessert this Thanksgiving, and soon after my kitchen tree will come out, and hopefully Tabitha won’t tear it apart or attack it. i also put a red ribbon across my kitchen window and hang my antique Christmas cookie cutters from it, a little string and some small clips and my kitchen window is ready for the holidays. then i will get busy and paint the front windows and create swirls of snowflakes and snowmen. love the idea of mixing fake fruit and real fruit together, wonder how the cats will react to that?? they are already veggie vampires, and by that i mean they will bite and leave their lil fang marks on squash, tomatoes, potatoes and onions. but i love my lil veggie vampires and i can’t imagine life without them around and all the mischief they get into. has Jack discovered yarnballs yet or the yarn basket, you’re in for some fun when he does…hehehehehe!!!!! autumn blessings on your household and to everyone!!! hugs….. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      He found it, but, as part of the baby proofing, it is no longer available 🙂

      • pat addison says:

        hehehe!! Tabitha found it, so now i have a yarn basket out for the catsd and mine is up where they are not allowed to get near it!! its in a plastic storage container behind the chair. LOL!!

      • Sandy Richmond says:

        Pat, I like your idea of hanging Chistmas cookie cutters in the window. I may have to try that this year!

        • pat addison says:

          Sandy i hope you enjoy them. i have 2 small hooks hidden under the kithen swag that i loop my ribbon on and then hang the cookie cutters by tying fishline on the cutters and using tiny little clothespins to hang them with on the ribbon, i swap out the cookie cutters, i have acorns and leaves for the Fall, witches, cats, pumpkins, bats, ghosts and such for Halloween on an orange ribbon, then i have Turkeys, pumpkins, acorns and leaves for Thanksgiving and sleds, reindeer, santas, bells, mittens, stars, trees and candy canes for Christmas. also have easter bunnies, eggs, tulips and butterflies for easter and hearts for Valentines. enjoy!!! 🙂

  28. Beckie says:

    Love all the faux fruit and birds. Please tell me that you will be washing the Thanksgiving tablecloth now that kitty has been up there!
    (Cats+litter boxes+outside+table=lots of germs)

  29. Cris says:

    My Mother had fake fruit in her kitchen from when I can remember. She loved it. I had some too. We moved far away so lots got left behind I fear. Oh well there is always something fresh on the counter. I also find that magazines arent as good as they used to be. Now I thumb thru and thats it. I used to savor every page. Thank goodness I saved a few old ones & all of my Victoria magazines. Love the pictures of Jack. What a cutie.

  30. For many years, I had every issue from several years of Country Living – before the days of computers. I would spend hours studying the pictures!

    I recently found/posted a 1963 photo of my grandma’s dining table set with her china for Christmas. She had a beautiful fake fruit centerpiece, topped with a pineapple. I would love to duplicate it.

    Your little Jack reminds me of our Magic. Always playing! Jack is a cutie!

    Hope you have a nice weekend.

  31. Heather says:

    Jack is SO cute!!!!!!!! His video cheered me up and just made me smile as I am resting after having major surgery~ Thanks SUSAN AND jACK!!!

  32. Cindy Maulin says:

    hey there Susan…sometimes when i am reading your blog, i just have to shake my head….we ( and other GF’s too i feel ) are like-thinkers in so many ways…i intend to inform my sweet husband that those are my stacks of “vintage” Country Living magazines in our basement and not “firestarters”!!! I too have found the delight of “fake fruit”, especially the fruit fly/rot part….good fake fruit is hard to find, so i grab it when i see it…. but BEWARE !!I had a really pretty centerpiece on the table last year for our Christmas Open House…fake fruit and pomegranates surrounded by rose hips…I had to dart across the room to tell our good friend to stop snacking on the fruit bowl !!!! Boy..was he surprised!! tee hee!!! Just absolutely LOVE your blog and visit daily..sometimes more than once! …thank you for all of the smiles you are creating…. i see them everywhere… : ) ** cindy

  33. Bee Stevens says:

    I love so many of the same things – I too have a bird tree – mine is 4 ft, skinny,
    with clear lights and all kinds of birds I have collected. I just bought a lovely
    robin and a little silver bird with dotted tail feathers. I try to decorate the
    day after Thanksgiving. I love all the Christmas issues of magazines – so many
    good ideas. Thanks for your blog – it’s great. I look forward to it every day.

  34. Reading your blog is the highlight of my blogging day! It always makes me smile! You always have something interesting to share! You make me wish I was your best friend, living next door! Enjoy your weekend! ♥

  35. Nellie says:

    I love the image of you in the restaurant, poring over the pages of Country Living, looking out at the ferry in the harbor.

    There is nothing like a kitten for entertainment, and it looks as though Jack is living up to expectations. Has Girl stopped growling at him?

    How wonderful that Rachel will come for Thanksgiving! When will she arrive? Did you know that I was fortunate enough to have my name chosen for one of her giveaways? Such a thrill!

    Preparations are well-underway here for the coming week. It will feel as though we have a revolving door.:-) The countdown has begun!

    I send along good wishes to you for the days ahead. xoxo

  36. Gail says:

    Glad to hear I am not the only one who likes to decorate with fake fruit. This fall I have picked up apples and pears. And last week found something interesting at a tag sale…fake vegetables. A tomato, beet, cucumber, pepper, onion and carrot made in plastic marked Hong Kong, so I guess they are vintage. Put them in a mixing bowl in the kitchen. They must look real because my airedale terrier knocked over the bowl and was playing with them.
    I will definitely steal your idea with the fake birds in the tabletop Christmas tree, very cute idea!

  37. Gumbo Lily says:

    I used to get Country Living and then stopped. My DIL, who lives next door gets it so we shared. Now she’s going to quit and I’m going to start up my own subscription. I just like it and can’t stop it.

    I’m a “real everything” person. My kids tease me — “What will you do, Mom, when you can’t go hiking to the Hills to get your REAL Christmas tree?” I don’t know. Buy a real one, I suppose. I tell them, it’s either got to be real or it’s got to be REALLY fake — a silver tinsel tree or something.

    I do have some fake fruit. My dad makes wooden fruits and they are beautiful.

    Happy decorating and thank you for the Dream music to sway to while reading your blog.


    • sbranch says:

      You are welcome Jody!

    • Tamar Weaver says:

      I love that – “it’s got to be real, or really fake”, so funny. I know what you mean, I am the same way, and when it comes to my “really fake” stuff, I proudly reffer to myself as “upper-end tacky” and hey, we are in style beacuse the rest of the world is calling it “Retro” and charging more for it! 🙂

  38. Gumbo Lily says:

    Did those Country Living mags say “1989?”
    You are a Keeper of Things, aren’t you?

    • sbranch says:

      Some things. Not all things. 🙂

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        But those old issues of Country Living aren’t just “things”, they are full of entertainment and inspiration–room settings to look at, recipes to look at, quilts and woven articles to look at, etc., etc. I have saved CL magazines from earlier than 1989 and I love to pick out seasonal ones and just sit and look at the photos, too! Like I said, they are full of lots of inspiration and entertainment! 🙂

  39. Laurie Walt says:

    Hi! I will start with my mantel on Saturday-ease into Christmas-enjoy every festive moment! It really makes me hap-hap-happppy! I too love Country Living, both American and British. Can’t seem to find a way to get the British edition on a regular basis. Does anyone know if I can get a subsription in America? Love the kitties!

  40. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    I love your Bird Tree how sweet it is and so colorful. I couldn’t tell your fruit or some of it at least was fake. It all looks so real to me. I love red pears they are my favorite. Am I suppose to eat the whole pomegranete seed or no? they seem like they would be hard. Enjoy your weekend Susan, oh that video of Jack was precious. How he loves that ball. So cute to watch.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes eat the whole thing — they will be like tiny juicy delicious croutons!

      • Amy D. says:

        What a wonderful treat to read your blog!! That is a beautiful tablecloth. Can’t wait to see it all set for Thanksgiving! Yum! Little Jack is sure a cutie and I’m not even a “cat” person! haha! Thanks so much for reminding me to treasure small moments that really make a day special like enjoying a favorite magazine. I appreciate you so much for that!!! I definitely had stacks of Country Living (and Victoria, and ME Home Companion, and Country Home) that I have finally thinned out and just saved a few favorites. Thanks so much for the inspiration. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

      • deezie says:

        can’t wait to try them !!!

  41. Amy D. says:

    What a wonderful treat to read your blog!! That is a beautiful tablecloth. Can’t wait to see it all set for Thanksgiving! Yum! Little Jack is sure a cutie and I’m not even a “cat” person! haha! Thanks so much for reminding me to treasure small moments that really make a day special like enjoying a favorite magazine. I appreciate you so much for that!!! I definitely had stacks of Country Living (and Victoria, and ME Home Companion, and Country Home) that I have finally thinned out and just saved a few favorites. Thanks so much for the inspiration. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

  42. Lisa G. says:

    Oh, your Peter Rabbit figurines!

    I still get Country Living, and I like it (it came today, in fact), but I like the older ones better – with the lacy things you mentioned, etc. It was prettier then, I think.

    • sbranch says:

      What I was noticing is how much better the photos are in the newer magazines. The ones in those old magazines are so dark, and full of shadows! I guess cameras and digital everything has made a huge difference.

  43. Wendy says:

    Oh the bird tree!! Love!! When we get a bigger house with more room for adorable things like that I am SO gonna have one. Lots of birds perch on the branches of our Christmas tree each year, my favorite of which are bright red sparkly cardinals.
    I fall more in love with Jack every time you show us new pictures or videos of him. What a bundle of black-mustached energy! Happy to hear they went nose-to-nose today!
    And fake fruit…. Love it. Used to have some beautiful fake lemons. I wonder where they are. Hmmm…..

  44. That’s what I love about you, Susan….you’re not afraid to admit that you love fake fruit…I do, too 🙂 And, I’m happy to say that I use fake flowers/plants as well 🙂

    Nighty-Nite and Sweet Dreams ♥

    • sbranch says:

      I use fake ivy on very high cupboards; I got tired of watching things die up there! Also, I love to have flowers in the guest rooms, but if no one is in there, I just have either dried or fake flowers so it looks nice and cozy and lived in when I walk by!!

  45. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Super idea, the fruit fly free, faux fruit & veggies! Last summer I taste tested my GF’s bowl of cherry tomatoes – very pretty, totally yummy looking & really yucky tasting. EMBAR RA SSING when she asked me (smiling) to please not eat her table day-korr!

    “Dream” was beautiful to listen to while I was picturing you in the restaurant with the mags, I wanted to be there too! It’s nice to see that Jack has definitely become a member of your family, what with his decorating skills and all! Great blog, thank you, have a wonderful weekend Susan and bloggers!

  46. Priscilla says:

    My fake fruit in my kitchen is a compote full of wood apples that the Apple Farm Inn would give to their guests. A complimentary apple for each stay at the Inn. Do they still do that? And I have cut out pages from old Country Living magazines of your hand-written recipes that would be featured each month. They are kept in page protectors in my binder full of recipes on my bakers rack next to your books. And I have a thing for birds too, although I don’t have a real one, I love them in pictures and knick-knacks and I am a sucker for birds or cabbage roses in wallpaper. Come to think of it, maybe I don’t own a real bird because of the George and Georgia Thanksgiving experience.

  47. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Evening Susan & All~
    When I started reading about the fake fruit I remembered my mom and grandma both had it.
    Do you remember the glass grapes that looked like they were made from giant marbles?
    Mom had purple ones and grandma had green. I can also remember them making sequined fruit. They would go to the Ben Franklin or Winkies and buy their supplies…foam shaped fruit, stick pins, some beads and of course sequins! There were apples, pears any fruit you could imagine… even bananas! Whatever the fruit, it always sat in a glass bowl and sometimes, for special occasions, it would Carnival glass. The spot never changed though. It was always front and center on top of the television.
    Thank you for the sweet memory!
    Sweet dreams~Lynn

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      Would be!

    • Patricia says:

      Oh my Grandma used to make those sequined fruit!! She used to also make sequined Christmas ornaments and I’m lucky to have been given a bunch of them after she passed away so my tree is full of them. Imagine the patience it must have taken to push all that sequin in with those straight pins one at a time!

    • Pam K says:

      Lynn, I just found some glass grapes at Hobby Lobby. Reminded me of my Grandma’s fruit too. I’m going back to buy some for the holidays. I never thought of sequins on fruit, but how gorgeous! Thanks for the idea! PK

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        When I was a kid I thought they were” tacky”. I now realize all the time they took to make! In retrospect I see their beauty and simple elegance. Who knows? Maybe they will make a comeback?!

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Hi again~
          I just had another idea about fake fruit. What if you took some fruit and put some very fine glitter on it to make it look like sugarplums for the holidays? I may have to try that myself!

  48. Linda Wattier says:

    Enjoy sitting down in the evening and reading your new blogs. I’ve never gotten into fake fruit but could be something I would enjoy. Have seen some really neat fake vegetables. Needed to make an extra dessert for Thanksgiving for Friday or Saturday so made your orange cake in the Sweets for the Sweet book. It looked so good. Put the coconut on top. Didn’t get to taste it. Went right in the freezer. I’m sure it will be a big hit. Have gotten into Andy Williams, Tony Bennet and the other day I bought, Songs That Got Us Through WWII. It has some great songs.Thanks for all your inspiation!!

    • sbranch says:

      I have a CD of WWII songs and British Pub songs, they always touch my heart! That’s my favorite cake there in your freezer!

  49. I always come away happy after visiting your blog! Love the video of Jack ~ what a cutie pie. Okay, now I will close so that I can pour over my newest issue of Country Living. Thanks for always putting a smile on my face!

    Susan and Bentley

  50. Rachel K says:

    Susan I loved reading about all of the delights you are preparing for the holidays, but you had me at the very beginning of this post. I thought I was the only person in the world who eats french fries with tartar sauce. The result of a slightly sloppy plate presentation at a Howard Johnson resturant when I was a child. What fun to find out that we share that gourmet taste.

    • sbranch says:

      Love tartar sauce with french fries — just the best!!! I was pretty sure I wasn’t the only one!

    • Paula B. says:

      So funny about the tartar sauce but when you mentioned Howard Johnson’s you had me! Such wonderful memories of eating at the one near us and ones on the road when we vacationed. Just visited the culinary museum at Johnson and Wales University here in Providence and they have a wonderful display of memorabilia from HoJo’s and from diners all over – I highly recommend stopping in there for those in New England.

      • dottie says:

        After several years living in Belgium, I am spoiled for our usual USA fries with ketchup — my “frittes” MUST have pure and simple mayo now. Tartar sauce might work though — I’ll have to give it a try. Most places I can ask for mayo — but NOT at McD.’s — though when I ask, there are sometimes odd looks or questions asked.

        • sbranch says:

          I think you are the perfect candidate for a break out to tartar sauce! Let me know. Has to be good tartar sauce. Don’t let them give you any kind of gussied up thing with roasted garlic in it.

  51. Heartsdesire says:

    I too, poured over Country Living magazine. I loved the charming country decor, the lovely gardens, but most of all, the recipes by guess who? Susan Branch, no less. The recipes were great, the drawings were wonderful and I tore them out of the magazine when ever they appeared from 1987 onward, and was so disappointed when they were no longer available. I still have the recipe pages in plastic sleeves inserted into the first of your books, Heart of the Home, given to me by my then 15-year-old son for Mother’s Day (he knows me well). And now I have your wonderful blog to read, with decor ideas (love the fake fruit), new recipes, inspirational stories and fabulous “Jack” videos.

  52. Pat Mofjeld says:

    So, you said that Girl Kitty and Jack touched noses–but then what happened?

    • sbranch says:

      Nothing, they backed away nicely. He still comes barreling at her, and she still hisses, but she sort of follows him stealthily and sits watching, until he gets too close. The nose touching was only once, but it bodes well!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Good! It really hasn’t been that long that she is sharing her space so if things went that peaceful, that is a good sign! It is probably like dogs–when you have more than one, they sort of activate each other…

        • sbranch says:

          I think you’re right. They’re going to be friends. It’s already good for Girl, she was very lazy. Now she is romping a bit.

  53. Stephanie says:

    Another fantastic blog – loved it as always!

    I am loving the Jack videos. I don’t know much about pets – so forgive me if this is a dumb question – but are your cats inside and outside cats? My mom had some cats (after all us kids grew up and left!) but the cats were in at night and out running around all day. However, I’ve met people who don’t let their cats outside – which I don’t quite understand.

    Anyway – Jack is making me want a kitten – although I could never give up candles! My whole ‘cozy home’ thing depends on candles!

    • sbranch says:

      Mine go in and out. But Jack’s too young, he has to be acclimated to the house. We’ll let him out by himself in the spring probably. We won’t have a choice, he already sits at the window and looks outside longingly! 🙂

  54. Elizabeth says:

    I remember the plastic “grapes” and such from my childhood…I like the fruit now much better. I have fake fruit, fake acorns, and such scattered across my sideboard…my three American Girl dolls, in their Thanksgiving finery (one is in Pilgrim dress, the other two in turkey dresses) are standing guard over the fruit and the soup tureen.

    I love the “mixed media” marble apple…I have a snowman who has twig arms, and every once in a while, I have to go outside and find him a new limb!

  55. Joan says:

    WHO dusts your house? LOL

  56. Laura Jenkins says:

    Love the fruit…I have a bowl of artificial lemons and limes in the breakfast room…I added an authentic touch by placing the grocery store sticker from a real lemon on one in the bowl…hahaha Jack LaLane is a hoot…he did seem quite interested in what lies beyond that screen door…so nice to hear that he and GK have shared a proper greeting a la eskimo kiss! All of the pear talk makes me crave my fave fall dessert..poached pears with creme anglaise…yummmmmmm xoxo

  57. andrea says:

    Oh my goodness, that Jack is so adorable!! Pure engery! He’s so healthy looking…our little shelter kitty is still sort of scrawny….even though she eats like a small horse. She’s getting there, just slowly.

    I’m sure you’ve been told this already, but reading your blog is like having your books come alive! I own every book you’ve done and owned loads and loads of your stickers, notecards, etc. and when I come here and read your wonderful blog entries, it’s just like walking into the pages I’ve poured over a million times. One never leaves here without being taken over with joy for our homes and families and furbabies, a renewed sense of commitment for all things DOMESTIC. Thank you so much for blogging and sharing your life with all of us…so many wonderful ideas and overflowing inspiration…

  58. Nina says:

    Good morning Susan! What a wonderful start to the day this is! firstly your jam packed willard and then I find your blog updated great stuff! It is so funny because my family know the sound of the “little birdie” now and they say O Mums visiting Susan again! lol (they know to be quite and all will be well!)
    Its funny because I have the UK edition of the country living magazine but I love it when I can pick up the US version (arn’t we funny!)
    I love the little glass pedistal bowl by the way the pear sits in, is it a bon bon dish? So cute! Talking of cute loved little Jack too! Susan what a great start to the day I hope it continues to be this good. xxxx

    • sbranch says:

      We are funny! The UK edition is my favorite magazine ever! But I love England, in case you haven’t noticed! Yes the dish is a bon bon dish, but I haven’t gotten around to making the bon bons yet!! Have a wonderful day Nina!

  59. Pamela Jo says:

    Just took some time to check out your friend, Rachel’s blog. Very interesting. Her info about old graveyards and war memorials was very moving. The poppy wreaths and crosses made me think of “In Flanders Field”…one of my favorite poems. Like Rachel, I’ve always been interested in old graveyards and have spent many hours visiting them. Still do, as I love history. Revolutionary War sites are some of my favorite places, and many are a short drive from my home. It’s wonderful that Rachel will be with you for Thanksgiving. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed her blog. Thank you for sharing it!

  60. Paula B. says:

    Thanks Susan, for sharing some cheer this chilly morning, and for including the latest antics of Jack! Love Country Living and long save many of the issues for further enjoyment. I was thinking as I watched the video that Jack is so darn cute, it’s almost as if you had painted a perfect kitty and then he came to life! Were you thinking of him and then he was there????

  61. Gert says:

    Oh Susan…I love all your photos especially of the fake fruit and birds! That fruit looks amazingly real! lol As did the one bird…dahh…oh ya, it was real… smile… I also enjoy pondering over those Country Living magazines….one of my favorites…I could just imagine being in that lovely restaurant with you…awwww

    And then there was Jack….smile..oh my gosh what fun he must be! Glad the two introduced each other…nose to nose! Love it!!

    Oh..I just know you can not wait for the arrival of Rachel…what a great and “thankful” time you all will be having!


  62. Linda Trokey says:


    So glad to see that someone can describe so perfectly exactly how I feel when I open my Country Living magazine. I wish I had the view you have from your beautiful home and island cafes. I live in the Midwest though and experience the beautiful, seasonal changes, although if my dream is to live in the southeast. For now, my heart beats quicker every morning when I go to my favorites and click on http://www. to see the newest entry to you blog. I too, wonder if it’s the tea or the china that I love the most as I love, love, love dishes, glassware and textiles. To find a treasure in an antique store or anywhere causes my heart to quicken and you give me such wonderful ideas for display and how to use those things that make me happy.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Linda T

  63. Dorian says:

    I enjoy your blog so much. I love looking at your beautiful house and going along on your lovely walks 🙂

    Your kitty Jack reminds me of a kittie I once had, Shadow was her name. She once ran up to a visitor and grabbed the tea bag from his cup of tea! and ran off with it to play.

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds exactly like Jack! I was writing a letter this morning, he kept thinking I was playing with the pen, attacking it, and making me smear the page! He is a riot! All I do all day is laugh at him. And peel him off the ceiling! I am so in love!

  64. Patricia says:

    I love the wooden fruit bowl you have Susan! So the post where you showed your pots and pans I showed to my husband and said “can we do this?” and he said yes. Last night I showed him the photo of the cupboards and said “can we do this?” We have a built in very old fashioned cupboard thingy in our kitchen….with the doors pulled off and painted in thick creamy white it would be similar to yours….his answer was “yes, I can do that.” I have a feeling your blog is my version of “Country Living Magazine”……I’m getting decorating ideas (and fortunately I have a husband who doesn’t mind helping me implement them). I’ve also slyly pointed Russ to the Man Cave, though maybe it wasn’t too sly because I stated insistently “you have to shop soon- it’ll take awhile for things to be shipped- you can’t wait until Christmas Eve like you usually do!” 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I think I like Russ! I love men who answer questions about cupboards with YES! Have a wonderful day Patricia! Thank you!

  65. I was watching an HGTV design special a few years ago when they gave the ten decorating No-No’s one should never do when decorating one’s home. I broke at least five of them (including one should never use fake anything).

    But I didn’t care, my family and friends love the way my home looks… for the most part. Hubby still says I have too much on the walls. 😉

    The only problem with the fake fruit these days? It looks so real I have to stop people from biting into it…

  66. Ann says:

    So much to discuss in this post! First, “Country Living”–that is where I learned to decorate too. Started my subscription right after I got married in 1980 and still continue today. I keep all the Christmas issues because they are timeless. Now, “fake fruit”–I am usually against fake things (don’t like fake flowers) but they make some very realistic fruit today. Your marble apple being an excellent example. I treasure an old red wooden apple found at my husband’s old family home. I’ll finish with the bird tree–love it! I do a small one with just cardinals, my fav bird. Finally have to add that Jack is the cutest kitten ever. Happy cooking everyone!

  67. Barb says:

    Susan, absolutely LOVE your blog – it’s the first thing I check when I switch on the computer. I’m going to try your fake tree/fake bird idea – hopefully my kitty won’t discourage me from keeping it up! Loved watching Jack chase the ball – he’s adorable! Oh, and I’m going to try your cranberry sauce recipe from Willard – fingers crossed.

  68. Robin Smith says:

    Who needs Country Living magazine when we have you? I get so much inspiration and ideas from your pictures and videos. I love your house and everything you do!! What a joy it would be to actually visit!! I just know I would feel automatically at home.


  69. I so needed a new blog from you Susan, I am weary from all the grocery shopping this week and it is finally all done and put away. I think Thanksgiving is so much preparation vs Christmas at least the meal, mainly because we all have our favorite sides? and although all the hours of prepping and preparing the actual meal for it to be over in such a short amount of time is a little disappointing…IT IS SO WORTH IT!!!! I remember my Mother having a lovely glass bowl of wax fruit when I was a kid. Now, I don’t want to say “I told you so”…..about your two kitties needing to see each other nose to nose….but, I DID….and Girl will never totally let you think that she accepts your new arrival…..secretly she will love watching his playful abandonment I think it brings back memories from when they were small?? and may encourage Girl from time to time to join in….. We now live in the city and for the issue of letting cats outdoors, there is no way we could do that here for fear of them being killed on the street so that is the main reason to protect them and let them watch the world from the picture window. I also think indoor kitties know how lucky they are to be inside vs their feral friends that everytime I see one makes me think no one loves them and that makes me sad or worse when I see one along side the road….now that being said if your lucky enough to have acres of land and your kitties come back inside that is the best of both worlds. I do believe that Jack is going to be a very big boy with the size of his paws….so adorable. I want to wish you and all the “girlfriends” a very Blessed Thanksgiving…and this suggestion…..forget fashion for one day and bring out the elastic waist pants!!!! Enjoy…..

  70. Paulie says:

    Good Morning Susan!
    Oh dear, now I do wish I had some kittens again, unfortunately, allergies say otherwise now. But oh such fun to watch and have around, arent they though? The fruits made me giggle because I used fake fruits long before they were accepted until the day I caught my six year old cleaning the grapes off and trying to eat them. They really did look real. Scared me to death……so out they went. ……….. Love your white tablecloth…..and those old Country Living Magazines, oh how I had so many of them but decided to let all the saved ones go at the time I thought I would be moving, now regret not having them. I would spend hours combing through those and dreaming ………and the older ones had so much more in them to my personal liking too. Nothing ever stays the same, when do we learn this? Thanks so much for the reminders of such great times and memories. I need that………have a great holiday Susan!

  71. blondie blu says:

    I am so thrilled that Jack has come to live with you! Meant to be… surely a match made in heaven. 🙂 And what a help Girl Kitty is! Yes, I have 4 kitties that love to be “helpful” like that, lol. XO Helena

  72. Juliene Bramer says:

    I have a grand baby size bite on one of my ‘fake’ apples-a treasure!

  73. Tawni urrutia says:

    I was married in 1988…at the ripe old age of 20. I always poured over every issue of CL, it was like a guidebook for making a cozy dreamy home. But, my favorite was your beautifully painted recipe page. Infact, I cut out the gingerbreadman recipe page…ya know the one with the darling gingerbread men dangling from the potted wispy christmas tree, and taped it to the inside cover of Christmas from the Heart of the Home. I make those cookies all if the time, and it always brings a huge smile to my face to see that darling page from 1989. Makes my husband happy too…as the recipient of your cookies for all these many years! You’ve added many wonderful meals and charming details for my family over the course of 20 plus years. Heartfelt, thanks a million!

  74. I was in the middle of commenting and my computer locked up, so I finally had to go to task manager and end task. Don’t you just hate when that happens?
    Love your foux fruit! I have some packed away (can’t get rid of things I like!), the bowl they were in (monkey pod I brought back from Hawaii many many years ago before Husband and Sons) broke and I still need to repair it, maybe now I will get it out and try some of the new glue on the market!
    Love your bird tree! Scrolling down I thought, that bird looks real, then I read that he is! How perfect!
    Love the way Jack has taken over, but the touching noses, I bet girl cat is telling him “welcome to the family, but I am in charge!”
    Have a wonderful Saturday, I am off to get a much needed hair trim! trying a new hairdresser, hope I like her!

    • sbranch says:

      I got yesterdays posting almost completely finished, and lost touch with the server and hadn’t saved it!! Yes, I really do hate it when that happens!! 🙂 Good luck with the haircut!

  75. Pam K says:

    Thank you for today’s blog Susan. Your memories of sitting by the fire while the snow fell reminded me of how much I miss living up North. And inspired me to look into getting a subscription to CL!

  76. zinnia patch says:

    good morning susan! i swear we are kindred spirits.. i used to be in love with the country living mag. ( and i have that Christmas issue in your pic) i would swoon over them in bed! love to read in bed…of course my dream would have been your view…but….anyway…. i still get my old issues out every holiday and go through them again – the old ones were the best one…. i have a bunch of fake grapes that i got at an auction years ago…. in one of those boxes you bid on and hope for the best…i was in love when i found them in the bottom. Those and my little fake table pumpkins are the only fake fruit i have…at least for today…tee hee
    so enjoyed seeing the kitties – my “Latte” is sitting on my lap and i’m reading her your blog….lol and the other one “Starbucks” is looking out the window…. what would we do without them…. enjoy your day!

  77. Ann Y. says:

    Good Morning ! Love fake fruit and leaves !!! Just dusting all mine and getting everything ready for a dinner with friends. Going to try the cranberries you make in the oven with my pork tenderloin…think it will be yummy. Thanks for all the inspiration….now off to rummage around and do my “tablescape”. Enjoy this wonderful day and keep your great posts coming !

  78. Gigi says:

    Oh me too! Country Living was very favorite magazine for years and years. Now that I think about it, I must renew my subscription. Now, I’ll just be needing a green plaid shawl to wear while I read ;). I love British Country Living too, don’t you? And remember Victoria magazine (the original) — so beautiful and such gorgeous photography? I miss it ;(.
    And yes to fake fruit and even the occasional fake flower! I mix them in with the real stuff too, and it’s really hard to tell the real from the not real, isn’t it?
    Love your little Jack! Doesn’t having him around just make life more fun? There’s just something life brightening about kitties, isn’t there?
    Well, happy Thanksgiving to you all!
    ♥ ♥ ♥

  79. Gigi says:

    Oh, and p.s. I forgot to tell you how much I love your bird tree! There’s a good chance a similar tree might appear here in my house this year, but I’ll be sure to tell that I totally copied that creative girl, Miss Susan Branch ;).
    ♥ ♥ ♥

  80. Pamela Jo says:

    I know I’ve already posted a couple of times to your recent blog, but this is so odd…Remember, I looked for a honeycomb pumpkin like yours and my friend gave me an entire Thanksgiving set? Well, after reading about your fake fruit, I started longing for the neat pieces my mom had when I was little, and then my phone rang. It was my mom and she said “Come over. I went through the attic and gathered some things I don’t want anymore. You can have whatever you like.” I walked next door and, Lo & Behold, the first thing my mom handed me was a whole bag full of her old fake fruit! I did not mention it to her, so she did not know I was thinking about it. Amazing! First the honeycomb pumpkin. Now the fake fruit. All have appeared before me just b/c I wished for them after reading your blog! Susan, I am starting to think you must be waving a magic wand and saying “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!” every time you write your blog! Isn’t it unbelievable???
    P.S. Maybe you could mention a new BMW in an upcoming post…I’ve been wishing for one of those for a long, long time! LOL!!!

  81. Nanc says:

    What fun to know that you love to do what I love to do – save a magazine to relish over lunch alone in a restaurant with the best soup and sandwich! I have done this for years and years and now am taking British Edition Country Living and two British garden magazines along. But I go shawl-less :-)!

  82. Karen P says:

    So happy to hear that Girl and Jack have taken strides to co-exist! Before you know it, they’ll be sleeping all curled up together…I KNOW it!

    I started a collection, of sorts, of fake birds in my fake ficus tree in my foyer when my then 14 month old grandson took notice of one that I had put there for spring. He pointed to it and said “tweet-tweet!” in such an excited tone that I had to get more! So now, I scout out different colored fake birds for my tree. He’s coming over today for a weekend visit and that will be the first thing he says when he walks in the door! He has to look for and touch each one…now we’re learning colors so that makes it Fun!

    Looking forward to hearing who the contest winner is! Have a great weekend, Susan and all you lovely girlfriends! xoxo….kp

  83. Annelies says:

    I have baskets FULL of Apple Farm wooden apples….one for each time we are there. They come with a brass stem which I remove , and like you, I replace with a twig. They look very real, make me smile each time I look at them, and then I think of the newest apple that will fill my basket when we travel to SLO again. In fact we are off the “farm” tomorrow. I will give a wave as we pass your home. A blessed and joyous Thanksgiving !!!!

  84. Ellen Beeton says:

    Love all your Christmas ideas and I think Jack is just adorable. Have a great day!

  85. Nanc says:

    Forgot to add that I have a white pear section on my kitchen shelf – mostly ceramic, but one stone and some hanging. I began this collection after I got hooked on white pear tea!

  86. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Oh Susan, I love your birdie Christmas Tree! They are sooooooooo cute! I could just jump right into the picture of your adorable kitchen! (Love the red gingham chair covers, too!) On my shopping list is now little pears for my Thanksgiving Day table. One for each of my family guests place setting. I’m so excited about Turkey Day! I am very thankful for you Susan… are a blessing to us all!!! Keep healthy, we need you!!!

  87. Nnacy Jo says:

    Hi Susan,
    Just ordered your willard book, I have most all of your books. I don’t have a kittie like Jack. I would like one. Sure miss mine. They are too funny.
    I have several birds too, but I see by your collection that I don’t have enough, I’ll work on that.
    Love your blog, I check it everyday, if there isn’t a new one I read the old one again.
    Well off to help hang theOutside Christmas lights, now all we need is lots of snow. And more pretend birds.
    Nancy Jo

  88. Jenny L. says:

    I have a new tuxedo kitten named Teddy. I was fostering 2 brothers for a local rescue (one all black and one tuxedo). They were feral and my job was to love the feral out of them. I was a complete failure as a foster mom because I couldn’t give them up. My daughter took the all black one and I took the tuxedo. So far he has to stay in the office with me because my big fat tabby is not playing nice, but I am sure he will eventually. The rescue group got these kittens from a colony where the cats are ALL either black or black and white. When your friend wrote a few days back that she was looking for a tuxedo, I really wished she was in Florida because the rescue group has plenty of them. Hopefully, no more from the colony because they are trying to get them all caught and spayed or neutered. One thing I have learned from this experience is that people who do animal rescue deserve a medal. It is hard work and not for the faint of heart. Something I already knew – rescued animals make the best pets. They are so happy to have a home. Have a good weekend and have fun with Jack, he is so cute!

  89. Mama Bear says:

    It is such a pleasure to read your blog posts….
    I have a bit of fake ivy on top of the hutch…this week I just held it under running water at the sink, shook it off, let it dry a bit and put it back…..some of the fake looks real enough to eat, that is the kind I like.
    Mama Bear

  90. Rae Ann Roche says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Susan…kindred sisters we are…as soon as Country Living comes out I devour it~have cancelled all my magazine subscriptions since I am in Michigan six months and in Minnesota six months…I use artificial/fake fruit in my cornucopia and artificial greens all around at Christmas…they work for me…

  91. Mary Weir says:

    Your decorating memories are getting me into the holiday spirit now that Southern California has finally left summer behind. I have a basket of red wooden apples I collected one at a time out in Oak Glen (where you can pick your own apples). They bring me a lot of joy remembering going out there with my siblings and my mom and dad (Dad’s been gone 2 1/2 years now) and then with our boys.
    Thank you for another beautiful recipe and for being such a champion of what a joy cooking is. My new Eating Well magazine refers to a new study that says
    25 % (!) of Americans don’t cook because they don’t want to get their kitchens dirty(!!) . I know a lot of nice moms like this who always have immaculate houses (I’m afraid I don’t) but who don’t enjoy their kitchens and avoid using them. I always think how sad that is for their families. Our whole family has so many memories linked to our time together in the kitchen. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to remember the fruitcake our boys and I made from scratch for my dad, who was the only one who enjoyed that holiday treat. We were able to use the pineapple and pecans he loved best and to leave out the alcohol, the way he like it. Everybody thought the homemade version was great and the boys were old enough that they will remember doing that for their Grandpa. I will always be grateful for that. So worth the “dirtying” of the kitchen. Thanks always for listening to my stories and helping me practice what’s most important.

    • sbranch says:

      Not sure everyone realizes what a giving thing cooking is. Heart thing. Creative heart thing. Such a gift.

  92. Mary S. says:

    OMGoodness!! Jack is soooo darling!! Nothing is cute than a kitten!!! Or more trouble! Well, I guess puppies are more trouble!
    I loved all your fruit ideas!!! Inspiration!! I have fake grapes everywhere!!
    And I do the same with Country Living!! My fav since Home Companion is no more. But I have been reading CL for years and years!!! And cutting out pictures from it!
    I wish the window sill above my kitchen sink were wide enough (or would that be “deep enough”?) for my Beatrix Potter figurines!! *sigh* They look so cute there!!

  93. Mary S. says:

    P.S. Thank you for the music links you post in your blogs! I always listen to them while I am reading!!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh good, I never know. I’m not wild about going to a site and running into music I don’t like, that’s why I do it that way, so everyone can decide for themselves whether they’re in the mood for it. Glad you like it!

      • Mary Weir says:

        I really don’t know when (or if) I ever would have realized that I had that power to give to my loved ones in this way without your inspiration and your wonderful, treasured cookbooks. Cooking is my true creative expression.

  94. Terri says:

    I have always loved fruit, real or fake. When I was a about 7, I bought a ceramic lattice fruit bowl at the dime store and plastic fruit for it with my own money (which is kind of funny, money being such a rarity for that age – candy? toy? or a fruit bowl?), to put on the table in our playhouse (old wooden house-shaped shed) our grandparents had in the backyard for us. Though mostly fruitless now (only the apple survives), the fruit bowl proudly sits on our sideboard, today. Thanks for sharing yours – reminding me I really should find it some new faux fruit (maybe a Christmas present for it?).
    So glad GirlKitty and Jack are beginning to warm up to one another!
    p.s. Love Country Living – old and new!
    p.p.s. Love love love your bird tree (especially the photo with your sister’s visiting bird, looking right at home.) I have a little fake tree (I call it our Charlie Brown Christmas tree), that I put on our dining table with as UNbreakable ornaments as I can, because the kitties love to jump up there when I’m not looking and claim them. Your’s is so sweet, I’m considering making some birdies for Charlie to wear. Hopefully they wouldn’t present too great a temptation for the cat people in the house…
    p.p.p.s. I love whenever you show your Beatrix Potter people. I have a few – Benjamin, Peter, Jemima and Mrs. Tabitha Twitchet – s & p shakers, from my grandma, that I treasure. They have to live in the china cabinet now, as when they lived on the mantle, Peter lost one of his ears to an intrigued kitty. At least they’re safe now and I can still visit them through the glass door of the cabinet. Oy the things we do for kitty love – good thing they’re worth it!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes of course, choose the fruit bowl! LOL! I have been so spoiled. My last two kitties have had no interest in my Beatrix Potter people, have never knocked anything over, really quite docile. But I think that party is now over.

  95. Dale Worness says:

    Aren’t restaurants with lit fireplaces great? I love Cracker Barrel in the winter. Soooo cozy! I used to be a big magazine collector, but I always had trouble giving them away when I was done. I thought I was the only one who still had issues of Country Living from the 80’s and 90’s. Glad I’m not! One time I was watching “Cash In The Attic” on HGTV and one of the items up for auction was this gorgeous lamp made of different colored glass grapes…..amber, green, purple, red on a brass platter. It was so pretty when it was lit up. I wanted that lamp so much! I remember when I was a kid going to my aunt’s house and grabbing an apple out of the bowl on her dining room-table. She warned me just in time it was fake, so after that I was very suspicious of any fruit in a bowl! Your bird tree is adorable. My cousin had one and every year I gave her a new bird for Christmas. You better count your birdies every night with Jack around! He is really growing up fast! We’re waiting for those nose-to nose pictures! I took one of my cat and my friend’s cat almost touching noses last Christmas. My Misty was wearing antlers and Soxy Loxy was wearing a Santa hat. I captioned it “Christmas Buddies??? Or not!” Hope all you guys have a great Thanksgiving! Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with for Christmas. You’re full of suprises, which we all love!

  96. Connie B says:

    What kind of camera do you use to take these pictures…they are so clear and wonderful!!! If you have already answered this question, I must have missed it in the hundreds of comments on your posts. Also going to Paris soon…what “Susan Branchee” thing(s) should I look for? Ooh-la-la!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a Cannon EOS — and I would look to see what they have in the way of copper pans! If there were cute shapes or something different than we have here (and cheaper!). And I would go find the apartment that Julia Child lived in.

      • Connie B says:

        Thanks for the tips, Sweetie Pie! I’m going to have my fill of macarons, madelines, and croque monsiers, and, of course, “chocolat chaud” hot chocolate!

        • sbranch says:

          Have you had dinner on one of the boats on the river? It’s a little bit corny, but it’s SO SO SO wonderful, we cried. Under the Eiffel Tower, twinkling lights at night, the boat turns on it’s axis, around and around while a woman sang La Vie en Rose. They say even the Parisians like it. We loved it.

          • Connie B says:

            Yes, we plan to do a nighttime boat trip, and dinner in one of the restaurants in the Eiffel Tower. Do you have any info on Julia Child’s apt? All I can find says there’s not even a plaque.

          • sbranch says:

            I haven’t looked yet because we aren’t planning a trip, but I think it must be findable! Maybe she wrote about it in one of her books?

      • Karen P says:

        Oooohh! Paris! Lucky you! When we went there, one of my fav stops (other than the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Louvre…) was a little street just down from Sacre Couer…can’t think of what it’s called now (Moulin Rouge was there, maybe?) Jam-packed with stores…some touristy shops…but I found a great fabric store there. Bought some white brocade fabric (NEVER take the fabric off the shelf…they don’t like that! I thought they’d take my head off!)….took up a lot of suitcase room but I made a duvet cover and pillowshams and it is now in what I call my “French Room!” When are you going, Connie?! Have fun! Baguettes….yummy fresh cheese….Tour Eiffel lit up at night! Love the boat idea…will have to try that sometime!

        • Connie B says:

          Very soon, Karen P! Have been reading up on French manners and customs and hoping not to make a fool of myself. I think the hardest will be keeping my hands ON the table during the meal and not smiling at people as “French women do not smile because it is considered a come-on!” I could never be French, because I love to smile at people…it’s kind of a secret mission in life…to share a smile with those who seemed not to have smiled in a while…

          • Laura says:

            Oh, Paris…the most romantic city in the world! We love walking thru the Tuilleries and watching the children sailing their boats in the fountains. Also the Jardin du Luxembourg..especially on Sundays when all the older couples are out strolling arm and arm…sigh! If you can, get off the metro at the Ecole Militaire stop and walk down the Rue Cler..enchanting when the bells from the church at the end of the street ring…sigh again! You MUST try the hot chocolate at Angelina’s on the Rue de Rivoli….it is so good it gives you the shivers. On that same street there is an old shop that sells only handkerchiefs…embroidered, lace…all in little wooden drawers!! If you know of any brides they would cherish a beautiful handkerchief from Paris to carry on their special day! You should watch “Midnight in Paris” before you go…..the opening sequence brought tears to my eyes!!! Hope you have a wonderful trip, making memories to keep close at heart!
            P.s..Julia and Paul lived at 81 Rue de l’Universite…in the 7th arr. In the same general area as the Rue Cler…have the sole meuniere in Julia’s honor:)

          • sbranch says:

            OH you are wonderful Laura!!!

          • Laura says:

            Dehillerin is the most amazing kitchen store…I have the most beautiful oval copper roasting pan from there, also they have amazing knives and the last time we were there I found kabob skewers with different brass figures on top…we have a rooster, a cow, a sheep and a wild boar! They are so fun to use!

          • sbranch says:

            Our girlfriends are so smart! Thank you Laura!

          • Karen P says:

            I did not know that, Connie! Oops….I smile at people, too! I love to see downcast faces smile back! Brightens my day!

          • Connie B says:

            for some reason the blog is not letting me reply to you, so I hope you see this. Thank you for all the recommendations!!! Yes, we did see Midnight in Paris and will try to go to Angelina’s. It will be cold when we go so I doubt there will be any sailing :-(. We already have a my husband’s grandmother’s hankerchief that all the brides carry in our family, but I DO love handkerchief embroidered with initials…hope we can stop there, too. THANKS FOR ALL THE TIPS, GIRLFRIENDS!!!

  97. Connie B says:

    Also posted a picture of my faux sugared pears on the FOSB Facebook page to share with you!

  98. Susan I love little Jack and Girl Kitty! Sounds like they are starting to get to know each other. My cat of 21 years, Molly, passed away 2 years ago and a naughty little dog, Mr. Darcy, came into our lives soon after. I do love him to pieces but I’m a cat person through and through. Seeing your video clip of Jack warms my ol’ heart! Fake fruit….don’t have any but after seeing yours – and it looks so real…I may have to indulge myself! Our real fruit seems to dissapear quickly, especially when the kids all come home 🙂

  99. Trish K. says:

    I’m so glad to hear that Girl Kitty and Jack have met! I’ve been wondering about them. Thank you for sharing the video of him playing, hes just too cute for words.

  100. Karen P says:

    I LOVE that little mini white-washed chair, too! So cute with the Longaberger basket of mini-apples! Cute, cute, CUTE!!!! Is your middle name “Cuteness?!”

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