Home Sweet Home

Here’s how spring is progressing in our home! Musica for today: our new favorite song . . .I’ll get you hooked yet!

But first, just so you know, the drawing for the Rose Chintz teacups is still open; just leave a comment at the bottom of this post, and you’ll be entered in the drawing!  You can read more about it and see pictures if you scroll down one post.

I just couldn’t wait to show you what we found in the hall next to our dining room!

I think many would see this as a harbinger of spring, which was exactly my first thought; plants are bursting up through the floor!  How adorable!  Get the camera!

But, with a little help from Joe’s more mechanically-minded, reality-based thinking, our second thought was, What’s going on in the basement?  Is there massive plant growth down there?  Now we’re afraid to open the basement door!  Well, Joe’s probably not, but I kinda am. I’ve never really gotten used to having a basement even on a good day.

Our basement was dug in 1849; it has a dirt floor so it smells like old dirt down there; the walls are made with granite blocks.  It’s very deep, plenty high enough to walk around in, it’s very cold, and it has rooms!  They probably kept their apples and potatoes and other garden produce down there in the old days.  And who knows what else.

You get there through an outside door on the porch; the door opens with a long creak to a steep set of granite stairs going straight down into a dark, what appears to be, hole.  The stairwell is very deep and draped in cobwebs suggesting that a person should definitely duck when they go down the stairs; the corners are alive with long legged black creatures that seem to “winter” here; they like it in the summer too; I don’t know if they jump. I’ve only been down there maybe four times in the twenty-three years we’ve lived here.  Our basement goes under the entire house. I call that area of the house “Man Country.”  It’s where Joe keeps his paint cans, for one thing; and he seems to like it down there.  But of course, he was born in this part of the country (Connecticut) where every child grows up with a basement.

I grew up in California, no house I ever saw had a basement; all I ever learned about basements was through Halloween stories (“he’s on the first step; he’s on the second step . . . slooowly he turns…” . . . my dad, entertaining us around campfires with ghost stories), horror films, and movies like Arsenic and Old Lace, where the darling old ladies buried their gentlemen friends in the basement.  So basements, to me, had no lure.  I wasn’t all that wild about attics either, for the same reasons.

Having basements and attics were two of the many new things I had to get used to when I moved to this part of the country; every old house has them!

 I never went into the basement of my first house until I completely owned it; did not visit it in the course of buying the house. Even then I knew it was man country down there (this definition comes from having four brothers and learning very young what was and what was not, man country; I’m sure there are plenty of intrepid happy normal women who love basements too, don’t get me wrong; I like the basement, I just don’t like to go there!), there were no men around me at the time; I rest my case, pathetic as it is. It never occurred to me (because I was young and this was my first house) that it might be the place where the furnace was, which is something a savvy home buyer should take an interest in.

Now I understand that having a basement is a wonderful thing!  It’s extra storage space!  It’s where many people do their laundry; it’s where they keep their children when they turn into teenagers; but I’m also pretty sure it’s where Lizzie Borden kept her ax. I will love our basement if, and when, a giant hurricane comes to the island; we’ll make friends then.  Why am I talking about this?  Oh yes, Joe (Oh yes, I’m spoiled) needs to go find the beginning of this plant before it eats the house!

I really didn’t think I’d be writing about basements this morning!  I meant to write about happy harbingers of spring, and then our basement crept into the story. That’s how letters to my girlfriends have always been. We go from cheese blintzes, white tablecloths, and Rose Chintz dishes to scary old basements in the blink of an eye.  That’s another thing I like about us!  We’re diversified!

 Now, here is a true harbinger of spring.  Normally, one hundred percent zero things bloom on Martha’s Vineyard in February, no camellias ever bloom here this time of year. At least, I’ve never seen it.  But, I went to my girlfriend Annie’s house the other day for tea, and the six foot camellia bush next to her front door, outside, was blooming, all over, like this!!  I want to be afraid about what this could mean, planet-wise, but I’m too happy having them on my kitchen windowsill right now!  I will let this pass for one winter; if it’s like this next winter, I’m going to start having a fit.  Let’s all have one!

What else?  Oh!  You know what I think would be fun?  If, when you leave your comments, at the end, you always type in where you are, what city, state, or country.  I love hearing where people are so I can imagine, or try to, their surroundings.  Plus, then everyone with the same name will start to look a little different!  We have girlfriends from Alaska to Florida, Maine to Hawaii, and so far, just today, I’ve heard from Finland and France!  Love it!  Sing with me!

♫ I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony. . . ♪

I was going to show you more of my dinner party diary, but I think I’ll save it for later, this should be enough for today; I have stuff to do, and you probably do too!  I kept you long enough the last couple of days!  Love hearing from you!  Love how you’re connecting with each other too.  Have a great day! 

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820 Responses to Home Sweet Home

  1. Terry B says:

    Loved your basement story – and I’d feel just like you. No place for me unless absolutely necessary! This California girl has never lived in a house with a basement (although the extra storage would amazing). Also, I’d be both amazed and concerned about that greenery springing forth in your house! Has Jack found it yet? Of course, plants KNOW they have a good thing in your presence – maybe it got around on the plant grapevine….. Oooo… sorry about that one! Smiles from Oceanside, CA.

    • Becky Kuzy says:

      Becky from Pennsylvania
      I too am fearful of the basement….who knows what kinds of things go bump in the dark!!!! Although mine has plenty of light and is not all that unpleasant I still don’t like to hang out there. Spring is fighting to get here. Our days are swinging between balmy and snowy!!!!! This morning was balmy and the Birds were singing their hearts out. I love all your posts . It makes me feel as though I am right there.

  2. Gina H says:

    Living in Savannah, Georgia has me spoiled to flowers all winter. Geraniums love it on my front steps, and I have had my pansy ring full all winter. We don’t have a basement, but we have a crawl space under the house. Only the stout of heart go there! Spiders all year…and who knows what else! Just think of all the things that might be growing in your basement if you did not usually have such cold winters!

  3. Chris H says:

    I’m from Australia. As Pam from Clontarf said….no basements here! I’ve always wanted an attic though. But it would have to be in an old house where there was at least a little hope of finding some beautiful treasures left behind by a previous owner 🙂 We’re moving in to Autumn, my favourite time of year, as we usually experience warm to hot days and cool crisp nights.

  4. Judi D. says:

    I’m sitting in the hospital waiting for my very first Grandchild to be born and it sure helps to pass the time waiting by reading your blog. Thank you.

  5. Noelle says:

    Ha ha, your little persevering plant is an ivy, I bet, I’ve seen them growing into people’s houses here in Oregon! “Ahhh”, he says, “I’m going to go up there where it’s warm and cozy!” I’m not fond of basements either (unless they are having an estate sale, then I’ll gladly rummage around in them because sometimes the best stuff is down there!) Yours sounds very interesting though, and I know my husband would rather have a basement to walk in than an 18″ crawlspace to squirm in. Don’t you love a husband who willingly goes into the scary dirt floor spider spaces to fix the things? Just thinking about being in a crawlspace makes me short of breath. It is definitely Man Country! I think you should ask Joe if he would take a video of your basement, so we could see it. 🙂

    Attics, though…I would so enjoy having an attic that I could stand up and walk around in, with real stairs to go up – not only to store things, but because that’s where the secret passage always is! I would invite my friends over and there we would be, tapping on walls just like Nancy Drew so we can find the secret stairs that lead down to the back of the parlor fireplace! Or the secret panel where the treasure is hidden! Well, I guess they did find some good stuff in basements too. Maybe you should go down in your basement (with a friend or two, of course!) and start tapping on walls and digging to see what you find!

    I live in Keizer, Oregon. 🙂

  6. Marie says:

    I am not fond of basements either. You are right, they are “Man-Country.” Basements aren’t really common over here in the UK, probably because of the damp, so we don’t have one under our house, but we do have a huge Camelia Bush outside our front door that is covered in Blooms, about a month and a half earlier than it should be, and yesterday my husband spent the afternoon sitting out in our back garden reading in his shirt sleeves. Most unsual indeed for this time of year! Our Harbinger of Spring is the little fat bumble bees that bumble lazily here and there amongst the budding plants and blooming spring blossoms . . . I haven’t seen one of those yet, so I suspect this pleasant mild weather we are having is simply a teaser. I did hear a cuckoo twice the other morning though and that is usually a sign of Spring as well. Of course . . . it could have been someone’s clock, but shhh . . . don’t anyone burst my bubble!!
    I’m from Chester in the UK.

    • sbranch says:

      Love hearing where you’re all from, isn’t it fun to know? I would never burst your bubble, had to be a cuckoo!

  7. Pam says:

    Oooooh, that’s scary. I’m with you on the ‘someone waiting down there in the dark with an axe theory’!! Fortunately we don’t have a basement or an attic. We are in Burbage, Leicestershire, England. We used to live in Kenilworth right near the castle but sold last year. We are renting at the moment, trying to find somewhere to buy but just can’t find what we want. Please keep your fingers crossed something comes along soon as we are getting pretty desperate. Those camellias are gorgeous by the way. xx

  8. Esther says:

    We visited our Great Aunt & Uncle in Colorado many years ago. As young girls, we were thrilled to spend time at their sprawling ranch house. When it came time to get settled in, we were escorted downstairs to the dark basement. There were treasures of antique furniture in the partitioned rooms and one overhead light on in a room in the far corner. The lace curtains at the doorway were pulled back to reveal a huge canopy bed placed diagonally in the room. Our Aunt apologized that it was the only bed available and she hoped that we wouldn’t be disappointed sleeping there. Basements hold a special place for me because of our “Canopy Bed Aunt”. ~Vacationing in New Zealand and catching up on your blog.

  9. Kirsten Wichert says:

    I’m here in sunny Southern California, but I grew up on the east coast. We, of course, had a basement and a very large attic. Half the basement was creepy (dark/no lights) where the boiler was that sent heat to all the radiators in every room. The other half was walled in knotty pine with a bar; added to the house in the 30’s. The attic contained many treasures that I wish I could have rescued when my parents sold it. There was alot of victorian furiture merely thought to be old and quite dirty. This is where our toys went when we no longer played with them. I’m pretty sure my parents left everything. In California, we use our garages for our stuff instead of our cars. Our cars survive here in the mild weather. Nowadays, most people have 2 and 3 car garages here. That’s alot of stuff!!!! Your spring ivy is rather pretty in the photo from the basement. Maybe you can take a few cuttings and put it outside once it has developed roots. I love ivy. My grandmother’s basement was called a root cellar. It had a dirt floor and wooden bins to hold potatoes, onions and my grandfather’s prize flower bulbs. Wow, I haven’t thought of that in a very, very long time. Thanks for the memories!

  10. janet gorrell says:

    those little plants really do seek the light–have had similar experiences–clarksburg, wv

  11. Kat (from the swamps of Jersey) says:

    The Stinkbugs are back and they’re as big as elephants! We had an excessive amount of them here in central Jersey last summer. I think with the very mild winter we’ve had those stinkers just partied the last few months away while getting ginormous. Never squash one if you don’t have to–They don’t call them Stinkbugs for Nothing! On a lighter note, the potted Comte de Chambord rose I bring in every winter from the patio has two gorgeous blooms that are absolutely swoon-worthy. Can’t wait to get back out in the garden, wooo-hooo!

  12. Patricia says:

    I call our basement “Mouseville”. Our house is surrounded by fields and woods so we find mice in our basement regularly. When I say “we” I mean my husband, who makes regular trips to Mouseville without a care in the world. I don’t go to Mouseville. The only way I can even cope with it is by imagining it is Beatrix Potter world down there with the mice dressed like Victorians and going about their business. Fortunately the residents of Mouseville don’t like traveling north upstairs!
    Patricia (and Alice) from upstate NY

  13. donna sutton says:

    Hi Susan,
    What a wonderful surprise, Sring in your living room. I Love basements. Miss having one. or an attic. I now live in South Carolina, and all I have is a crawl space and believe you me I feel the same way you do about your basement. Mine too has a dirt floor, but you can’t stand up in it. I have only gotten as far as the door and looked in. My husband used to take the garden things and what ever else and put them down there. Since his passing, I have no idea what is there and do not care. I can live with out them. You are right it’s a mans place. My son lives in Ohio and has a home from 1912 and has all those rooms in his basement. Recently he has dried sauages in one room. He likes to do wierd things. I guess the room was a constant 42 degrees, and with a fan circulating the air they dried beautifully and taste real good. I have yet to have the experience of tasting them. I Love your blog. First thing I read in the morning along with my first cup of coffee. Reading your blog makes me feel good. I guess you could say I am living my life through you. Or enjoying so much what you do.

    • sbranch says:

      Nice to hear Donna — my dad always made strange things, like beef jerky, but it always tasted good!

      • Janet says:

        Oh, please ask your Dad for a recipe or two. I have a brother with a food dehydrator who is an “enthusiastic” deer hunter and consequently a Major jerky maker who is always looking for new recipes. He makes beef jerky, venison jerky and… say it with me, everyone… Turkey Jerky! Actually the turkey is my favorite – it’s really good. Maybe it would fit – albeit a little oddly – in your upcoming breakfast book??? She asked hopefully…

  14. Peggy says:

    My son lives in a 200 year old house in Ct with that type of basement. I like to think about what was stored in there over the many years of families living there. Love the photo of the little plant seeking light…I’ve been off my feet because of recent surgery and I feel like that little plant! Love to you and all of the girlfriends, Peg in Alpharetta, Ga.

  15. Christy says:

    Living in Germany always has its surprises. After moving into a new apartment we received a letter from building management saying that we had to remove freshly planted ivy from our balcony flower boxes. Who’s ever heard of a de-beautification committee?! (Their theory is that the ivy will grow so long that it will cause damage if it attaches itself to the building. I replanted the ivy so that it cascades facing my living room window and will keep it trimmed; hopefully no nosy neighbors can see it.)

  16. Living here in Clinton, Missouri – halfway between Kansas City and Springfield and clear on the other side of the state from St. Louis – I am glad that we have a “basement”. We actually live in a raised ranch. When we first moved here, our basement was bare – no rooms, concrete floor and concrete walls. We have transformed it very nicely, I must say. We carpeted it, put in a bedroom and a bathroom, storage shelves and made the main room into a den (Man Cave) LOL My two men that live at home with me – Hubby and our cat – hang out down there more than I do I must admit. But we get tornados frequently here, so I am glad to have it. We can just go downstairs and sleep and not worry when we have a storm. My washer and dryer are down here – Honey even built me a clothes shute, so all I have to do is pop them down. Loving the ivy! I had an old house before we got married and had the same probem, only mine was not ivy! Much love from Clinton! Raquel

    • sbranch says:

      Good morning Raquel! Happy day in Clinton! We got a little drift of snow this morning, so much for spring!

    • Laurie says:

      Of course no basements (or attics either, for that matter) here in/near your other part of the world: Los Osos, CA. Your basement used to store food? Favorite memory: visiting the family farm in Mt Vernon Missouri as a young girl and stepping deep down into my aunt’s root cellar ~ the smell of the earth, the coolness on a warm day, the dark and coziness of that small vault, the beautiful collection of filled jars, food for the future. It was a magical place for me. (Raquel…this farm was owned by parents of family now also living in Clinton..Harold and Marilyn. Small world!)

  17. Terri J. says:

    As a child, I was the one Mom would ask to go to the basement to get some potatoes for supper. Well…the basement was scary…but I ever-so-dreaded finding potatoes with horrible long sprouts on them. They were like some sort of alien huge creatures to me. Reporting in…still traumatized from Sullivan, Oh.

  18. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan!! love your plant/basement story…sooo very funny!! my grandmas’ house had a basement like that..that’s where all the goonies lived and us kids were scared to death of it. she was a grand gardener and all of her tools were kept there..looked like something out of a horror flick to us!!! HATED IT if she asked us to retrieve something for her from there…we actually held our breath as we zoomed in to find whatever we were suppose to be getting..ha! But she always had the prettiest flowers…snapdragons, hollyhocks, peonies, lily of the valley and several huge lilac bushes….goes to show what beauty can come from!!! Thank for the great post…brings back so many wonderful memories..i love that about your blog….always!! love, cindy in st. louis, mo….home of the world series champion cardinals!!! xo

  19. Jacqui G says:

    Hi Susan! No basements or attics here in South Florida either! Of course, coming from CT it was the norm, but I’ve grown used to Florida architecture. I do miss the change of seasons, especially Spring, when those first blooms take your breath away…and the rebirth of my New England garden. We always used to say P is for St. Patrick’s day and Planting Peas 🙂 Have a wonderful day! xoxo Jacqui

  20. Denise in NJ says:

    I can understand your trepidation about basements. When we first moved to this house we had numerous mice and some black rat snakes living in our basement. First we tackled the task of getting rid of the snakes. Realizing they were keeping the mice population down we next had to buy stock in numerous mousetraps. I don’t want to speak to soon but I have seen neither mouse nor snake in sometime time. I have heard mice in the attic, which is only large enough for a mouse to stand up in, but apparently dh got tired of listening to them dancing at the midnight ball so he set out to rid the attic of them also. Hope it works!
    I rarely go to the basement even though it is now critter free. I always send dh or son down there when needing something brought up from or taken down there.
    The walls are made of sandstone and soon enough we will need to do something about shoring them up as they seem to be crumbling a little in spots. The basements does not go under the whole house. Only one room. I think they only needed one room to house the gargantuan old furnace. It was removed before we took possession and a new furnace installed on the first floor.
    I have used it as a safe haven in a couple of storms though I did not enjoy it while there.
    Love reading your blog Susan. You inspire me!

  21. Holly says:

    You inspire me every day!

    Looking towards spring in Astoria, NY

  22. Beth says:

    I bet Jack is having a field day attacking that plant! I’m in upstate SC, hoping I’m not reposting the same info twice but I think I didn’t actually post yesterday. That’s the kind of day it was. It’s beautiful here, the birds are singing and Spring is popping up everywhere. I drove around singing with my windows down and my hair flying everywhere. Love it! Love seeing where everyone is from…wonderful people, these SB Fans!

  23. Debbie says:

    Hi Susan, Im from Suffern NY. We always had a scary basement growing up. Like you said, full of dirt and smelly and would fill up with water if it rained too much.. The funny thing is thats where the washer/dryer was and we would still use it even when the basement floor was covered with water!!??? Guess you could say we were pretty lucky!!! and dumb hahahaha have a great day!!!

  24. debbie- decatur ga says:

    My problem with ivy is snakes love it!

  25. Lindsay Brauer says:

    Hi Susan! When I first moved to my apartment in St. Louis mo I would do my laundry at my moms house for months because I was afraid of the basement. The building is over a hundred years old. It took me about three months to finally go down there. I now can do my laundry in the basement but I’m never Happy to go down there. Have a great day!

  26. Susie kilgroe says:

    Well, I live in KS and am quite familiar with basements, wouldn’t want a house without one in tornado alley! I would love to win those rose chintz cups. I have a small collection on tea cups…….I only have the ones I just love…….I do love those.

  27. Helen says:

    Hi there ! A couple of things ….. first …. “WINTER” …. we had a “walapaloo” (is that a word??) of a winter here last year in CT …. even had to have the snow SHOVELED off our roof for fear of it collasping. This year, we have had “the winter that wasn’t” !! I feel like I am in a time warp. I have missed the “coziness of winter”. 🙁 BASEMENTS …. I too, grew up with no attics or basements, but now living here in New England, we do have a basement. I love the expression alot of people here say ….. “I’m going down-cellar.” 🙂 If we had a basement with a dirt floor like you do, I would NEVER go down there ….. I would be too afraid of snakes being down there !! Has Joe ever found a snake or snake skin down there ? Gives me the chills just to think about it ! 🙁 Have a good day. Take care, Helen

  28. judi says:

    Now living in SW Florida but “home” will always be Mpls., MN. We always had basements. My Aunt had a root cellar in one part of her basement. This room had a dirt floor and they were avid garnders so they kept their vegetables in there also, I think, all her canning goodies. God love her.

    Our basement had a “rumpus room”, ha, knotty pine with a bar of course and Hamm’s beer sign. They all had cement floors. In the winter my Mom would hang the wash down there (before dryers:) on lines that ran along the floor joists. Dad had a workshop area and then there was an open area with “stuff”. This area was filled with tables at Christmas to handle the overflow – 37 for dinner with immediate family, aunts & uncles and cousins:)

    We never had an attic but I yearned to peak in the attics of the huge older homes near downtown.

    Love your little spring “gift” coming thru your floor!

  29. Barb says:

    Hello Susan,

    Here in Ludlow, Massachusetts we had a coating to an inch of snow this morning.

    Thanks for “Williard”, so enjoyed it all and especially the new Spring music. Your story of the Ivy Plant growing in the house is one for the record books. I have never heard of that before and it just made my day……what a neat “surprise”.
    The way you tell your stories……just makes me want more all the time. Thanks!

    As for basements…….I am a history buff and love adventure. I would want to go in your cellar and check every thing out. Your home is so alive with History, tell us more, please!

    I grew up with basements and attics all my life. One of my favorites was my childhood home in Connecticut. My parents had a huge garden so everything was canned for the winter. We had a big freezer down cellar filled with homemade applesauce, corn, blueberries and so on. Shelves were lined down cellar with canning jars filled with stewed tomatoes and tomatoe sauce. We also had many a “crockpots” filled with “homemade pickles”, and “homemade spicy hot green tomatoes”. Mom had the old wringer washer machine and two set tubs. There was also a clothesline in the cellar so on rainy days or for winter time. Dad stored his seeds for the garden in the cellar to and gladiola bulbs as well for the next years plantings. Our bikes, our radio flyer sleds were all down cellar to.
    We also had an attic that went the full length of the house stored with many treasures and (Santa) left presents up there as well). Of course this baffled (Santa) how on earth us kids new where his (secret hiding place was). Once (Santa caught on) we never new where to look! Oh the joys of being a kid. Nostalgia!

    Lived with my husband for many of years in his child hood home. Built in the (1800’s). Was a working farm at one time. Basement there had many little rooms, guess some of them kept animals in there at one time. Yet husbands family did part of cellar over. Yet we found a door and behind there were all these hidden “antiques or treasures” . An old 100 year old railroad lantern.
    A rare (crockpot)……biggest and heaviest we have ever seen. It was used many moons ago to make (saurekraut) in.

    Where we live now is a duplex. Basement is huge and we use it for storage.

    I so enjoyed reading all the other comments from all over the states and other countries as well.

    Thanks Susan for starting this blog and bringing all of us girlfriends from all over to one place to share our stories as well.

    Have a great weekend everyone!


  30. Beth says:

    Hi Susan! The house I grew up in in Plymouth Mass had a basement (we called it the cellar) and it was haunted. Yes, really haunted and creep-o-rific! My basement here is mild in comparison but I still don’t like it! LOL! I had a tall mushroom growing up in my dining room two years ago and found that the deck door was rotten and had to replace the whole thing! But what a surprise to find while vacuuming! Spring has sprung here too – there is a tulip poplar tree blooming right outside my office window in Washington DC! Beth from Montclair, Virginia

  31. Jeanie Bragin says:

    Good morning from Latham, NY which is near Albany. My sister lives in a farm house in the fields of Galway,NY which is about forty miles north from here. The house dates from the mid 1800s, so the cellar is a dark and scary place with field stone walls where the “queen snakes” spend the winter. A few years ago when her husband was taking old wood siding off the house to replace it with new siding a “queen snake” came out from between the boards to say hello! They finished the repair work despite having resident reptiles. I would have grabbed my purse and the cats to escape forever!

  32. Deb says:

    Growing up, our cellar (that’s what we called it) was my father’s special place, where he worked at his workbench. I’m still not sure what he was doing, but to me it seemed pretty important. I would have my own little box of odds and ends to “work” with while he did his. But cellars can be scary – my younger son was always afraid to go into ours for fear of monsters.
    Writing from the Berkshires, MA

  33. joan Rose says:

    Oh the memories… raised 5 children in an older home with a basement. The entire basement was the size of the house above (above was a 7 room abode: kitchen,bath, dining room, living room, laundy room and 2 bed rooms). They say it was the best times of their lives, i’m glad it’s a good memory for them but a memory at last, I say. After a couple of floods, dampness from the cinder block, and hatches of beetles from the dampness, I’d opt for above ground living. Although it was the saint bernards favorite place when summer months would top out at 100 degrees plus. The temperature in the basement would stay a constant, comfy 70 to 80 something degrees throughout the year, that was nice.

  34. Mary Cunningham says:

    Hi Susan it’s trying to be Spring here in Central Indiana, Nashville to be exact….we are having 60 degree weather, crocus in bloom, snow drops, dandelions, Redbud budding out! North of Indianapolis is getting freezing fog and snow! Crazy Love the little tendril, wanting to live in your sweet house, in our area , log cabins are the trendy home,quaint little shops that once were homes and artist studios…the cabin across the road from our house, once had ivy growing in around the window, and it was really pretty for the country, outdoorsy feel! City slickers ,however didn’t like it , so out it went and caulking arrived….oh well, so much for country decor..lol

  35. Tasha Railton says:

    I am loving this “winter” we are having. Yesterday it was 70 degrees out!
    My husband tells me there is snow yet to come, but I am hoping he is wrong. I would certainly move to a warmer part of the world if I had the chance but for now I will enjoy these great winters we are being blessed with currently 🙂
    I am living in Louisville, KY. Today it is only 48 degrees. Oh how it changes!! One day is 30 and the next 70, I am experiencing drainage. Thank you Kentucky and this strange weather!! 🙂

  36. Carol from Connecticut says:

    My basement is my Art Room! It is the full length of my ranch home. I just had new ‘sunshine’ lighting installed in the ceiling. Before Borders closed down :o( , I purchased one of their huuuuge and beautiful oak tables with the turned legs. It weighs about 300 pounds! The table is now the centerpiece of my art room and a place where creativity can flower. There’s a huuuuge Santa Claus double brick fireplace. A slider and big windows look out on the historic Farmington Canal, woods, and a waterfall. I’ve seen an eastern gray wolf, coyotes, foxes, deer, turkeys and a red-winged hawk couple lives (and feeds…yuk!) across the canal. I could just *** *** I’m so happy with this room. I wanted you to know that all basements aren’t scary. I am SO lucky to have such a wonderful place to work and play! Very lucky.

  37. Sue C says:

    Hi Susan !
    We have one of those old stone basements,too. When our real estate agent brought us to view the property, I was very happy to let my husband inspect that area, by himself. It wasn’t until we moved in and I had to use the washing machine that I was forced to venture down there.

    This is my favorite time of the day — you, me, the girlfriends and my cup of coffee. Have a happy day !

  38. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Susan-What I wrote didn’t show up in my “basement entry”. I typed a frown face after ‘Borders’. Where the stars are, I typed ‘burst’ . Thanks.

    • sbranch says:

      Hmmm, I don’t know. Drives me crazy. This blog seems to have gremlins, sort of editor gremlins, they even do rewrites!

  39. Rose Sombar says:

    Really enjoy the blog. May I second two points? Snakes (which give me the creeps) love, love, love ivy. I watch my step around ivy. I also feel as you do about the Camellias. My early bloomer has been blooming since late January. I am not a happy camper–there won’t be any blooms left for Spring. Fortunately, I have four other Camellias which are still tightly budded. Can you tell Camellias are one of my favorites.
    Best wishes,
    Rose S. from Ellendale, Delaware

  40. Kimberly says:

    HA<HA<HA<HE<HE<HE<HE Thank you for the laugh, I just came home from Sunny California and feeling a little down thought I'd get my little dose of you and your sunshine. So thank you. Have a lovely day! Kimberly Allen

  41. Gwen Hagerman says:

    I loved your story about basements because up in northern Canada we love having the Man space taken over so the family can do lots in comfort. Almost all our homes have recreation rooms downstairs, daylight windows and lots of comfortable furniture. Houses without basements are hard to sell.
    But I don’t like the unfinished ones with spiders EEK

  42. Jeanne Hedin says:

    Here is sit, in the basement, typing this comment (slowly he turned . . . step by step). 🙂 There are times I want to look over my shoulder, but during tornado season it sure does come in handy! I grew up in the south where there weren’t many basements. Having lived in MN for most of my adult life, I have come to appreciate the benefits and try to overlook the noises and dark corners — most of the time. 🙂

  43. Cindy Berry says:

    Here in Louisiana we have azaleas beginning to bloom and on my patio are petunias and roses to go with them. It has been a mild winter here too but I am thoroughly enjoying it. Blessings of Spring to ya!

  44. Margot says:

    I am sure that I saw a recipe in the comments for smothered pork chops yesterday. I think I am lost in a blog. It is fantastic today in Virginia Beach. Spring is in the air, laundry on the line. Tomorrow back to seasonal temps. Three weeks ago I saw the first sign of spring, a robin. I told Mr. Socks not to eat him. Three days ago I saw three first signs of spring. Two of them were fighting over who could sit on the fence across from my kitchen window. Daffodils are here too!
    Now the weatherman said we will have severe storms this afternoon. 🙁

  45. Jean says:

    I love the ivy growing inside. I love ivy growing on the outside of a house. I know it can be damaging, but it looks great.

  46. melanie krieg says:

    thank you for all the love and happiness you bring to us all! how hard can it be to smile? and to be kind? i love your attitude toward life, and it is so reflected in your work! i have your things all over the house and also share your love for peter rabbit. i have a collection of about 40 or so figurines, i wish i had a place atop my stove to put the blue pig, and the mouse reading the paper on a spool of thread. also thanks for telling us about gladys tabor, i ordered Stillmeadows from amazon. i’m a huge collector of tea cups and pots, i think you would like my house, all pink and green and white and blue! pink is my favorite color and i have terrible luck in winning anything, but the way i look at it is, it was either meant to be or not. you’re the best! melanie

  47. We live in the upper midwest where everyone has a basement and most are finished and serve as an extension of their living space (we have just recently moved our teenager down there too!). Our basement smells good and lacks the musty aroma that some have, however, I have fond memories of my grandparent’s basement in South Dakota. We visited them each year during of August and usually spent part of at least one night in their basement due to tornadoes in the area. While we kids cozied up under quilts and army blankets, and tried to sleep, our folks and grandparents played Pinochle and drank coffee from thermoses until the storms passed. Such wonderful memories, perhaps that is why I rather enjoy the musty scent a basement can have.

    • sbranch says:

      Smell is everything! My mom loves the smell of a farm (or dairy) because she spent her carefree childhood summers on her Grandma’s farm.

  48. kim says:

    Hello from the Zandvoort, the Netherlands….
    It’s funny to read that you go from one story into the next without getting to point of the first story and have to get back to it again…. That happens to me all the time. So much to tell, so little time, right?
    No flowersa here quite yet, but it has been warming up quite a bit, so I am sure we will have some flowers shooting up soon. I love that time, it makes to world a little brighter after the darkness of winter ( with it’s charms as well)

  49. lynne neal says:

    Well i am sitting down my basement reading this, ours is an extension of the house, We have a bathroom, and huge shower room, our utility room is down there for laundry etc and a big living room and games room, all houses here in Ontario have basement that are finished living spaces. I would love an Attic I would love to sit in my attic and stare at Toronto sky line and the lake.
    We also have Ivy crawling over our house, it’s from a strand I had in my Wedding bouquet 37yrs ago . I brought it over from England and planted it in everhouse we have had. But YES it is invasive!! love the blog !!

  50. Elizabeth says:

    Forgot to say, I grew up in a bungalow built in 1924, in Rochester, NY…had both a cellar and an attic….my dad spent hours puttering around in the cellar. We had a “fruit cellar” down there…a room with storage for potatoes, etc….hated the mice that occasionally invaded…still terrified of mice! There is a great children’s book called “Harry and the Terrible Whatzit” about a little boy who braves the cellar to find his mom…my preschool students always loved it, it’s funny. Have a great day!

  51. Susie Cap says:

    Such a nive harbinger of Spring…. I have had basements all my life and no matter how hard I tried they were never places I liked to be for long…Now I live in Las Vegas and no basements are fine with me… Take Care.

  52. Susie Cap says:

    Such a nice harbinger of Spring…. I have had basements all my life and no matter how hard I tried they were never places I liked to be for long…Now I live in Las Vegas and no basements are fine with me… Take Care.

  53. Melissa F says:

    Just laying here taking a nap w/ my 5 month old baby boy reading your blog. We don’t have a basement but we have an attic which we have just cleaned out. I found some old “Susan Branch” stickers that my grandma gave me! Yeah! Those are what started the obsession. Ha Ha! Can’t wait for the Grandma Book!- Melissa, Utah

  54. Sandy Thornton says:

    Oh I love reading all these basement stories. Wish I had more time but my tea is gone and the vacuum sweeper is calling me! And my dryer, which is in our basement, just went off and so off I go. But our basement is all finished and has no dark corners. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have had dreams about finding rooms in our basement or attic that I didn’t know were there. I would get so excited thinking about what I could do with all the added space. And there would always be antique treasures hidden in those rooms. It is the best dreaming ever. I must come back and finish reading all these fun comments later. Thank you so much for bringing us so much joy and fun.
    I live in North Kingsville, Ohio, right across the street from Lake Erie and the wind is a howling right now and it is starting to snow!

    • sbranch says:

      I have the floor board obsession with this house, that one will come lose and voila! Tiny Victorian earrings balled up in a lace hanky. Or something.

  55. Carol K says:

    Greetings from central NJ:
    Susan, I just finished reading Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway. Thank you for suggesting it. I loved it! I’ve read a lot of the books mentioned but then there are a lot I missed too. I requested On the Road by Jack Kerouac from our local library. I was a teenager in the early 60s and so naive about the ‘Beat’ generation. Now I’m going to find out what they were up to back then.

  56. Tamara Thompson says:

    I am sitting here in central Washington,(state) & it is a sunny day here too ..enjoying blog, especially the creeping vine. Reminds me of aavorite late musician Dan Fogelberg’s lyric, “a woman’s like an ivy on a pole, she winds her twisted love around your soul.”..”CS Lewis said ” we read to know we aren’t alone…”& reading y blog is like looking into a mirror. We all have a need for attachment, but desire to be recognized as individuals…hmmmn, the key is in finding the balance! I have Lady Carlylse China (by Royal Albert & since I’m sittkning here w a broken leg, decided last weekend to paint a picture of the cup..& it looks very similar to the one u show in your tea diary…(enter twilight zone music). My dear grammy also had rose chintz which I loved, & for h 88th birthday (now 14 yrs ) I had a fancy afternoon tea for h
    er …wanted to do something different, so decided to make it a “hanky shower”..each of the 12 guests brought a vintage hanky for her..it was lovely. Shehas since gone up to heaven ( just days before her 100th birthday) so the tea is now a very chericherished memory. Thanks for bringing it all back…

    PS I am wondering why it is hard to find some of your books when they continue to be so popular..I just tried to buy your cookbook “Autumn,” & the only affordable option was used on e-bay, why is that..can’t they do a reprinting? Just wondering…
    Tamara <3

    • sbranch says:

      After all these years, with the change in the publishing world, the loss of book stores etc., my books are all starting to go out of print, several of them have already gone. The rights to them will revert to me in time, and then I would be able, with rather a large investment, so I would have to be sure it was the right thing to do, to have them reprinted.

      • Tamara Thompson says:

        Thanks for letting me knmight b ow..Im now so glad I grabbed the used one in “good” condition, perhaps whatever drips might b on it will bring character. You might want to poll people to see how many people might b willing to preorder….

      • judi says:

        Oh, PLEASE do!

  57. Lisa G says:

    We have a basement full of big black spiders. Now I understand why they are such a big Halloween symbol. From Reminderville, Ohio

  58. Susan in Maryland says:

    Dear Susan,
    Growing 2 1/2 feet in the dark to find some light and growing space. That is inspirational! Thanks, Susan, for the inspiration your books and now blog gives me. I, too, and of two minds about this warm winter; enjoying the warmth, but it’s a little worrying.

  59. Janie Phillips says:

    Ah, that little plant knows a good house when it sees one! xoxo

  60. Holly says:

    I agree with your distaste for basements! I also grew up in California (Sonoma) where a basement was very rare, and certainly not a place to take refuge during an earthquake! Here in Indiana, a basement is a good place, and should be stocked as a tornado shelter. That ivy is incredible!

  61. Vicki says:

    Cincinnati, Ohio here! Getting colder and windyyyy! Just looked out to see snow flurries!!! But my tulips are up about 1-2 inches, so there is hope. As for basements; when I was growing up we used to play down there all day. My Dad made us a play area for our little pink metal kitchen set. We had a blackboard where we played school and since I was the oldest I was the teacher. I would bring home “ditto’s” of my school work (do you remember ditto’s?) and try to teach my 2 younger sisters who didn’t have any idea how to do any of it! I’m sorry your basement is so scary, but thanks for bringing back very pleasant childhood memories of mine! Much love!

    • Janet says:

      DITTOS! Thanks for the flashback, Vicki! Remember how the really “fresh” ones smelled when teachers would pass them out? You could get a little loopy for a few seconds!

  62. Chris S. says:


    Yesterday I went to this adorable gift shop I love to go brouse in – especially during the holidays. They had the most beautiful cups and saucers there – I was so tempted but I resisted – actually my check book resisted, not me. Anyways I thought of you and all your beautiful dishes and glasses… Funny how things remind you of people…

    Have a wonderful Pre-Spring time at your house.

  63. Kim says:

    Would love to win those teacups! My twin daughters – age 10 – love to have tea parties.

  64. Oh, those rose chintz teacups are lovely. Please enter me in for the giveaway 🙂 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  65. Bev says:

    That is a funny story…where there is will ~there is a way..what a brave little plant.
    LOVE the teacups!! So springy!

  66. Christina says:

    A house with no basement is a house with no rec room! The place where our mom sent the 10 of us on rainy days to get out of her hair (where my brothers buried me in the toybox and then sat on it!) The place where we had all-girl Beatles parties in the 6th grade and our first boy-girl parties the summer after 8th grade, dancing what was called “California style” (both arms around the boy’s neck), and bellowing the lyrics to “House of the Rising Sun” like we were oh, so cool. (How could our parents stand it?!).

  67. Elizabeth says:

    I love this website 🙂 So many wonderful things 🙂

  68. stephanie says:

    Sooooooooo cute!

    I love my basement for laundry and boxes of Christmas ornaments and the big pots and other things that don’t fit in my little kitchen. However, I have a friend with an 1850’s house – dirt basement and it is SCARY. I only made it halfway down the stairs… and then ran up! Do you know there are people who can come and make it a regular basement? They put steel in the walls and send down concrete and make concrete walls and floors? It’s kind of amazing.

    I’m worried we won’t have any flowers in spring. We’ve had no winter here in NY – and every plant is confused. Martha Stewart posted that she has crocus already at her farm in February!

  69. Teresa from Lancaster, PA says:

    Oh, my basement growing up was a dirt floor and was all musty smelling. Whenever it rained, we would always have water down there. It was a scary place and I remember some ugly looking spiders down there. (Not that I’ve ever seen a pretty spider!) And I remember a friend who lived in an adorable farm house which was converted into apartments – she had a plant growing up through a crack on her stairway. Now it makes sense where it was coming from. Ah, there is just something special about an old house. There is a lot of character that you don’t find in a new home. BUT, I work in an office that is a converted farmhouse and with an old home also comes SNAKES! In the past year, there were two right by my desk and many skins found in the attic. HA – don’t get me started in attics. This one is as bad as the basement. But I can say that the attic at my grandparents farm was a magical place. I always loved going up there as a child. Well, I rambled enough. I will chat with you later. Have a lovely weekend!

  70. JANET CARLSON says:

    Perrysburg, OH I love the story of the LITTLE IVY THAT COULD! So sweet! & I have ALWAYS & forever had a basement….AND I COULD NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE! I HAVE NEVER LIKED THEM! Man caves for sure! ; )

  71. Lisa Leggett says:

    Hi Susan, What a friendly little intruder that sneaky, little plant! I’d love a chance to win your pretty tea cups! All the better to share tea with my friends, thanks for the oppurtunity!

  72. Linda Stocton says:

    I loved the story!

  73. Nancy says:

    Your description of the basement made me laugh out loud, and I needed a good laugh on this dismal rainy February day! Basements are the reason Husbands were created, they have no fear of the deep, dark, crawly places!

  74. Michelle McDonald says:

    Love the teacups….they would make afternoon tea so special. And ivy….hate it! Have been fighting it for years along a back fence….takes over everything…all I want is to plant flowers!

  75. Terri W says:

    This afternoon in the Carolina’s is balmy and breezy. Can true spring be far away? Love to all!

  76. melissa says:

    Oh how jolly. 🙂 Always love visiting here and the teacups sound wonderful. 🙂

  77. Ann Beirne says:

    I have had a basement all my life. They are great for storage. I am originally from Providence, Rhode Island, and now I live in Westminster, Maryland.


  78. thanks for the chance at those LOVELY teacups 😉
    I’m a teacup collector, what can I say 😉

    you story about the fathom plant is so FUN, tfs, R 😉

  79. Wendy says:


    Rainy and windy here today, but I currently don’t have to worry about rain coming in the basement, since we are lacking that ominous part of the house now. Love your description of the basement. We had one where I lived as a kid and it was funky, kinda creepy but we made it fun. My brother had an amazing train display set up. It had the old outside angled double door entrance like in the Wizard of Oz! Loved it. I think we have seen too many GOOD old movies and have active imaginations when it comes to basements & attics but that helps to keep life interesting, scary perhaps but fun. Good memories. Love your house, flowers and your blog!

  80. Beverly M says:

    The teacups are so beautiful they just scream spring!

  81. Jean Anne Smith says:

    Hi Susan, It is a drizzly Friday evening here along the Delaware River in Delanco, NJ. I enjoyed reading about your adventurous Ivy while waiting for the dough to rise for the pizza I’m making for dinner. It’s a good night to settle in and watch a movie. Enjoy your weekend!

  82. Carmen says:

    I planted a trumpet vine too close to the house and one year I found it growing up through the siding and coming out a story up! I never succeeded in killing all the roots, either.

  83. CLaire Hardy says:

    YOur blog is adorable! I so enjoy reading it!

  84. Elizabeth Lasswell says:

    I had the exact same thing happen to me over the winter – someone had, at some point, spilled birdseed just inside the doorway of the house we are fixing up. Then, at some other point, the floorboards became incredibly wet and soggy for whatever reason (possible the missing, and since replaced gutters). And then.. I found plants growing in the sill of the door. White and red millet, to be exact. Unfortunately I had to pull them up when we put new floorboards in.

  85. Sarah Whitworth says:

    I love the description in the basement and I love the teacups. I bet tea tastes better when drinking out of them!!

  86. Karen E says:

    That is so cute! I would want to let it grow around the door frame too. Maybe you could grow an ivy plant in a pot in it’s place. I would love the rose chintz teacups, I’m having a tea party baby shower for my daughter in April, they would be a perfect addition! From Mount Joy PA.

  87. sandee says:

    The cups are so beautiful! I would love to know where you found them and if I could purchase them?

  88. bramble says:

    We had a vine creep in a slipped dining room window and grow across the top of the curtain rod between the curtain and the wall before we caught it. Same thing, left it for a bit after the window was closed and then took it down after it petrified up there! I had a friend who once lived in a house a tree grew through the middle of, but the tree was there first!

  89. Amy Hirn says:

    Love the basement story. I’m currently reading Vineyard Seasons and enjoying it very much. Thank you!

  90. marcia says:

    When I was a kid in CT, my gf and I were exploring her basement and found a boarded up tunnel! We learned that it lead to the basement of the house across the street, where another friend lived, and our town historian thought it might have been part of the Underground Railroad. Whether true or not, it was fascinating to a bunch of 10 year olds!

  91. Rosie says:

    Love the cups I have a cream and sugar pink chintz set they would go smashing with! It’s a cold and dreary here in Spokane WA. Just returned from beautiful lush and sunny Kaua’i HI. I really did try to bring some back with me but it is slow to catch up. {smiles} As always good to be home, have a spot of Earl Grey and make a pot of hearty soup! Aloha!

  92. theresa says:

    We have a “crawl” space ! That doesn’t sound to good to me! When we lived in North Carolina , when my hubby was in the Air Force. He even refused to go in the “Crawl” space! Because of the Black Widow spiders! We don’t have Black Widows in Indiana! (yeah!) 🙂 By the way , I had an ivy growing into my living rm once :).

  93. theresa says:

    Just wanted to say I saw the first Red wing black bird !!! They say those don’t come back unless its going to be spring very soon! Woo Hoo!! Indiana!

  94. Tam says:

    Still crossing my fingers on those teacups. Pick me!!! LOL Something pretty to drink my tea out of. (Twinings – Prince of Wales or English Breakfast. Mostly EB.)
    I live up the road from Concord, NH. 😉

  95. Kathy Phenix says:

    I love attics and basements can be good! Growing up in CT we had a lousy basement (dirt floor and grubby) but we had a wonderful attic. It was full of treasures and had plenty of room to play all kinds of wonderful games on rainy days. My best friend and I were always playing in her attic or mine. Lots of great memories. My grandmother’s basement (next door) had a concrete floor and lots of little store rooms for canned fruits and veggies. I thought it was fascinating. Her laundry was down there also and she stored her Christmas cactus there when it wasn’t blooming. It really looks like Joe needs to explore your plant growth. Be brave Joe. Kathy living in Florida now–no basement and just a crawl space of an attic. BORING!!

  96. I love basements. But some can be very scary. I grew up with a basement, moved to Ca where we had no basement. Now I’m back in Missouri with my basement which is also my huge sewing area.
    I love the teacups and thank you for doing the drawing.

  97. Linda K Foster says:

    You bring so so much joy to our lives! Every time I read. Your pages, stories and feast
    On your beautiful pictures I am blessed. Thank you for all of your sharing. Linda K from snowy Michigan where I saw my first Robins of spring today. . . . . Not 1 but Six of them!
    My grand daughter saw them with me.

  98. Glyn says:

    I LOVE Rose Chintz. I have a sweet set I collected over time in 2nd hand shops and from E-bay. It was so fun to see it pop up in photos on your blog. I’d certainly enjoy the chance to own a couple more cups and saucers (can one ever have too many??)

    Here in Seattle, basements are very common. It’s where my sewing studio is. Fortunately it even has some windows, albeit small and high on the walls. I think if mine had a dirt floor and the like, I would be reticent to descend the stairs too!

  99. Linda says:

    That sure is a cute sign of spring!

  100. Glenda Nations says:

    Well, we have basements in some parts of Missouri (depending on the soil type in each area). I live in the Southeastern part of the state, and my girlhood home originally had a “cellar” which was a very tiny place indeed! Later on, my parents built a “real” basement under our frame house. It wasn’t a dark and scary place, but home to the wood furnace, old fashioned wringer washer and rinse tubs with LOTS of shelves for jars and jars of summer produce. On rare occasions, it even served as the the “intensive care unit” for baby calves who needed a little extra attention! Thanks for sharing your basement story with us!


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