MINUTIA (of the best kind)

Hi Girlfriends!  I probably have six things of equal importance, that is to say, minutia, that I could write about today.  What to do? What to do? Which one first?  My main problem these days, is whether or not I can get on the blog! I couldn’t yesterday, and it has not been easy today.  Something isn’t going well with my server and I don’t know what it is . . . bear with me, those of you who manage to get through!  I’m helping us cope with these dulcet tones . . . (another word for Musica.)

Every once in a while I need to wash and iron the dresser scarves and table toppers.  Which I did before my girlfriends came from California to visit last week; part of the continuing quest for a fall cleanup … but, as you know, there’s  nothing like company to get a person going!

I can’t say that ironing is my favorite thing in life to do, but in this case, with these vintage linens, I do love it; the smell of it too, hot steamy iron, lightly fragranced washed things . . . I turn on the radio, and listen to Car Talk (90.1 WCAI radio),  and laugh myself silly, and iron, and it’s a nice day.

Vintage linens are the hardest thing for me to find . . . I have to force myself to dig through piles (and refold them!), where 99% of the things in it, I don’t want — in order to find the little wonderful thing at the bottom.  Maybe once a year I will go to antique stores or flea markets and focus just on linens, to keep my collection replenished.

As usual, I am not willing to pay a huge amount of money for these things when I know for a fact that if I am patient I will find them at a price that seems SO good, I am proud all day because I waited.

Look at the little rick rack on the edge of the red-trimmed cloth.  Embroidery, lace, applique, all so original and special and hardly being made anymore.

Some of the embroidery is just too wonderful for words.

I love the cat, I love the apples, but most of all, I love the . . .

gnome in the window. And the moon.  And I love the person who made this, whoever she was.  And now, the bathroom bears . . .

These linens are hanging on a quilt rack — so handy for everything, from quilts, to drying towels in guest rooms, so if you see one, you might want to get it … I found a green one on our New England trip for $35.  Oh yes!

This quilt rack sits in our dining room and holds tablecloths and runners.  Hi Girl Kitty!

I love linens so much I even paint them!  I like my rick-rack headed chicken pocket.

They make everything prettier, softer, including Joe’s breakfast.

They add a certain romantic charm.

When I find the round, linen coasters, I buy them, then use them as jar toppers for my canned things, jams and applesauce.

Of course you all know what a nut I am for dishtowels.  But if you don’t, just click on DISHTOWELS, and I will be happy to tell you!

This is my dishtowel display unit . . . did I buy this stove just for the handles?  Maybe.

I wrote and watercolored this card to keep in front of me when I write books, to remind me every day what it is I am trying to do.  But it works just as well for decorating the house.  I don’t think I finally figured out the actual meaning of the word “charm” until I was in my early 40’s!  Now I might like to write a book about it!

So, then, after doing the ironing, I wanted to bleach my vintage potholders because they were starting to look like something the cat dragged in.  I put them in a bowl with warm water, a little laundry soap, and about a quarter cup of liquid bleach and let them sit and soak.

And I washed the towels for the guest bathrooms . . . and took everything outside . . .

Something you know I love to do . . .

Towels dried in the open air get scratchy; I never used to dry them on the line, because I didn’t think I’d like scratchy towels — but one of the houses we stayed in when we were in England had line-dried towels, and I loved it!  My new discovery!  Scratchy towels are wonderful, invigorating, they scratch your back, and they seem more absorbent.

It took about two seconds after I brought the basket in before my shadow was in it!

Such a decorative kitty!

So then I made Cranberry Apple Crisp!  Made Corn Pudding too!

The girls who came to visit, but not ever for long enough! I asked if I could show this photo, and got a yes, so here we go, from left to right, that’s Diana (Elizabeth’s cousin), then Daisy (the daughter of)  Mimi, then Elizabeth (the kitchen-paint-chooser and sweetheart who just bought the house down the street from me), then Cathy.  Elizabeth and Cathy saw Beatrix Potter’s House together. Daisy goes to Harvard, she is beauty plus brains; the other adorable girls live in Palo Alto California and are pretty smart too.  Creative, funny, hardworking, generous girlfriends, all of them.  Joe was in heaven.  Jack got so many kisses he was sick of it and started running away from us!  (Joe stuck around and took it like a man. 🙂 )

While they were here, Mr. Wonderful kept up with his newest project.  This porch was so old, it was disintegrating; he’s been rebuilding it — what do you think Dad?  He finished yesterday . . . Here’s the final product:

♫ Oh my man I love him so ♪ . . .  I sort of want to move this to the front of the house, where all the world can see it, it looks so nice!

We are having a Halloween Party next week, I’ve started getting ready … we do it every year, friends just pop in, we have Chili and Corn bread and all the fixins!  Our neighborhood is wild at Halloween, we get hundreds of kids!  It’s very exciting!

And I also have a little present for you . . .

I asked Kellee to put this Pumpkin bookmark up on our FOSB site (Facebook) today; if you go there and click on it, you can get it as a pdf file, print it out on heavy paper (even laminate it if you want), and put it in your Halloween stockings!  Some good pumpkin facial expression examples for carving!

OK, Girls, back to work I go.  I have a job for you:  please let me know when you are so sick of this post you can’t bear to look at it anymore — when you have clicked on all the links, and have taken your first trip to an antique store to look for linens to decorate for the holidays.  And then, I will stop everything and change it ASAP!

Until then, I’ll be working on our book, which, I have to say, is SO wonderful, I can’t stop thinking about it . . . I don’t mean it’s the most wonderful thing that ever lived, I mean I LOVE it and love doing it, and only want to do it!  I worked on it the whole time the girls were here, while they were still asleep; I’m up to Page 84 right now!

It’s one thing to know what something is going to look like (in your mind), and another thing to see it being born in real life! 

OK, off I go!  I hope you’re all enjoying your WILLARDS . . . the last batch goes out this afternoon!  Have a wonderful day everyone!

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713 Responses to MINUTIA (of the best kind)

  1. Kathy from Heafed to the Fell, Brevard, NC says:

    Hi Susan,

    I’m so glad to hear that all is well with you and yours! Thanks for the update!

    Lots of love,


  2. Denise says:

    Have been watching the news this morning and praying that you and Joe are safe and warm.

  3. Rebecca Walsh says:

    Hi, ho, a girlfriend in Nebraska has just opened the email link I sent to her about your website and she is so, so happy. We really do love dropping in on you and seeing what you are up to and we LOVE

  4. Karen Saunders says:

    First thing I did this morning was to check your blog to make sure you were okay. You have an army of well-wishers and prayer warriers!! (do you feel safe?) Boy, this has to be good ‘page-finishing’ weather!! I think it would be a good idea to have a running page-count included in your blog!! That way we can marvel at your progress! (just what you wanted, right? Just a random thought.) Glad you’re safe, warm, well-fed, cozy and productive. Hope the worst of the storm has passed. We experienced Superphoon Pamela on Guam in 1976…..blew all the vegetation off the island and blew a piece of grass (stuck) in our front door. My husband was a typhoon chaser. (pilot) The eye passed right over the island. Scary experience. Have a great day.

  5. Gail from California says:

    Hi Susan,
    Just checking in to see how you weathered Sandy and all the girlfriends too ? Hope everyone is safe and sound.

    Love and prayers,

  6. Gini Gould says:

    Dear Susan, Our hearts and heart-felt prayers stretch out over the miles in concern and love for you and Joe, for family, friends and neighborhood folks who may be in the path of Hurricane Sandy. Above all else, please know how much you are loved by thousands of Girlfriends who are praying for your safety and your never-dying positive strength to get through this difficult time. God has you in the palm of His hands, that I know with out a doubt.
    Much love and many hugs from Utah, where we weren’t given the opportunity to take our fair share of the “hit”.

    • sbranch says:

      I know exactly how you feel, as we didn’t do our part either, but we are certainly with everyone who did!! Thank you dear Gini, that was very sweet.

  7. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    My friends and I have become Willard groupies. We’re working on our lists from the last newsletter. I got my Honey Crisp apples today and I met Katie Sue in Springfield at the Goodwill store. I know it’s cheating to use this as number 9, but I did buy a beautiful set of Mikasa dishes for $30 and they came with a gravy boat and Katie Sue brought me another gravy boat from a yard sale which is drop-dead gorgeous – pure white with ruffles and flourishes and its own little tray.

    I finally found mixed nuts in the shell for the “A Walk in the Autumn Woods” tablescape I’m doing, but I won’t cheat and call this Number 6. We figure that we have until the end of November to finish our list. Is that about right?

  8. Troy Louise says:

    So glad to read that you are warm & cozy there. I was really worried your beautiful home would be deluged. So sorry for the many who are in so much trouble. On a happier note, thanks for the beautiful linens story. I have so many from my grandmother, mother, & mom-in-law. Mom taught us to embroider when we were little girls & I still have the cute dish towels – such wonderful memories now that she’s gone. XOX

  9. Katia Maliantovitch says:

    Hi Susan,

    I sent this message to another address, but just read that we should rather write to you on this blog…
    I’ve been enjoying (SOOOO much) your website and reading your blog for several weeks now… THANK YOU for sharing LIFE ! I have a question though : Are there three of you ? or do you live in a parallel world where days have 48 or 72 hours ? HOW do you do it all ??? Do you EVER sleep ??? I mean, there’s the writing, and the painting, and the gardening, and the blogging, and the scrapbooking, and the decorating, and the walks, and the parties, and the cooking, and the time spent with loved ones (obviously, I’m including the kitties), and the reading and watching movies, and the traveling, and taking photographs… oh, and I forgot the sewing and ironing… perhaps, you could describe one of your “usual” days (as if any day could be “usual”, but you know what I mean) so that we could sort of pick up some tips of how to do it !!!

    Thought you might enjoy this wonderful interview:



  10. Karen P. - Green Bay, WI says:

    First of all, so glad that you, Joe and the kitties are safe. Second of all, I forgot to mention how much I love your little card for inspiration that you keep out to keep you on track! I’d say that it’s really working because every single one of those thing is YOU and we sure do love it all!! xoxo

  11. Julie (Omaha) says:

    Hi again, boy I hope everyone is ok and not experiencing trouble due to the horrible storm! I’m cozy on the couch here with comfy blanket and looking at my Susan Branch 2013 Calendar. Enjoying going slowly, page by page, and taking notice of all the little details in the drawings and words. Ahhh, so nice, thank you Susan!

  12. Jack says:

    There are two deals that bother me on going …..one , I do sympathize with those uncontrollable losses that so many suffered during the devastation caused by Sandy — however, those people who were told to evacuate and chose not to — and then had to be rescued later gripe me no end because of the overload and inconvenience they create on the
    Already stressed people that have to take time and manpower to save them now

    Number two,
    is the failed ethics system that has no current effect on our country’s political processes !
    We the voting public , should never have to be subjected to blatant , outright lies …this Country needs a hard nose procedure of ethics that is specific regarding proven absolute lies
    levied on the unsuspecting voting public , for any purpose ! When any candidate is found to
    engage in the creation of lies to enhance their political voting appeal they should be terminated immediately and removed from ballot consideration !

    • Dorothy Ann says:

      * Hello Jack *

      So nice to meet you via Susan’s Blog. My name is Dorothy Ann and I am happy to be one of Susan’s “girlfriends”. I’ve been reading and enjoying all of your wonderful comments to your sweet daughter (especially the personal and loving ones you send to her) and all the others which are always so clever, charming, funny and downright-laugh-out-loud replies.

      Today, as I went on Susan’s pages, to see if she posted a new Blog, and happily I saw she did, I went onto her previous blog too, just to catch up before I read the new one. I saw your comment, dated Tuesday, the 30th. I read it and I just had to reply to you…if that’s O.K.

      Your words are so heartfelt and brave and so true! You set forth 2 “deals that bother you”. I agree with you on the first because, as you wrote, the first responders are certainly put in harm’s way as they rescue those who didn’t heed the warnings. Yet, I do have to add, my heart goes out to the people who chose not to leave. They must have been driven by a very powerful emotional instinct to “weather the storm” and “stay to protect their homes”. But, at what cost? So I do agree with you, Jack.

      Now, as for Number 2…”the failed ethics system”…if you are referring to something that has been in the news very recently and is highly controversial (I think I know what you are talking about). If so, I agree with you about that too.

      You and yours take care, in your little corner of the world, and have a great day…from…
      * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  13. So glad to see your comment above. Thanks goodness you guys are okay.

  14. Jan says:

    Glad to hear you are good! I was beginning to get worried being you hadn’t had a new post since the 24th – until I read recent posts on your blog. My sister in New York is fine. They had very strong winds with flying debri and lots of downed trees. She lives in a suburb of Queens. My daughter in Ohio is fine. They lost power for a very short time with lots of wind, rain, and downed trees also. We here in Michigan had rain, sleet, wind, and a little snow. Hopefully the worst is over! Glad to hear the new book is coming along. Looking forward to an update on the blog.

  15. Susan Ericksen of Bainbridge Island, Washington says:

    Oh Goodie, goodie…we all need to hear how you guys made it through….and yes, we are waiting..(me, not so patiently)….I am dying to hear that everyone and everything is going to be ok. Do you have power now? did you lose it and for how long? so many questions….My heart is bleeding for everyone on the Eastern Seaboard………….it is so terrible. Donations to the Red Cross ..please!!!!!

  16. Marcia A. Sherman says:

    10-31-12 6:30 a.m.
    spared by Sandy, tired of television, bed and breakfast trip a bust
    Halloween on hold
    cabin fever and caregiver status making me crazy
    begging for an updated blog
    “are you safe are you sound are you whole are you well?”

    Marcia in Sewell, NJ

  17. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    I don’t do Twitter and have wondered how you are doing. So glad to hear you and Joe and Kitties are doing quite ok! I worried but you are happily working on your book and your beautiful home and grounds are good – so I’m happy. So much damage in NY and NJ! My husbands family is from Yonkers, NY and they say the storm was not bad for them at all! Strange how just 20 minutes up the line it looks like a war zone! My brother from Maryland said it was bad but they are good too! Everybody’s good! 🙂 Deep sigh . . .

  18. Dolores from northern Virginia says:


    It is wonderful that Martha’s Vineyard escaped the full force of Hurricane Sandy. We braced for the worst in northern Virginia but thankfully our immediate area faired reasonably well with minimal damage overall.

    I love your blog and appreciate all your photos and commentary. Your cookbooks have a prominent place on my kitchen shelf and are used frequently. I am in awe of your beautiful penmanship and delightful art work.

    I’m ready to start passing out Halloween treats! Enjoy the evening!


  19. Steffi says:

    I read where you used detergent and bleach on your linens~Just learned from a site called One Good Thing by Jillee( she’s awesome by the way) that it’s not a good thing for septic tanks~Do you have one~Also, bleach breaks down cotton way faster than anything else~She had this recipe I thought you might like to give a try~Pull her up, for she has all kinds of homemade household recipes for everything~I love your illustrations by the way and your writing style~Makes me feel warm and fuzzy! :o)

    12 cups water
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1 cup hydrogen peroxide

    Mix. Add 2 cups per wash load or put in spray bottle and use as a household cleaner.

  20. What a great memory–my mother and grandmother also had the bottle with a cork sprinkler. We had a clothes line in our backyard with a bag full of wooden pins. I still remember my brothers’ blue jeans hanging straight in pant stretchers–such a funny site, but they kept the legs straight and my mother never had to iron them. Four bothers-four pairs o stretched jeans floating on the line.Never took long for them to dry.

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