It’s a beautiful day, blue skies, a brisk little wind — I opened the front door to get the paper off the porch and did not dawdle!  Scurry would be the right word for what I did getting back inside! Brrrr.  MUSICA

Even though I’m trying to stay focused and finish our book, I couldn’t help a little decorating for Valentine’s Day with my old Emma Love cup and the garland I made a couple of years ago.  (I got the things to make it with at Michael’s crafts, btw; you can see how easy it was to put together, in case you are feeling crafty.) Secretly (because I know it’s a kind of blasphemy not to put Christmas first), but Valentine’s Day is truly my favorite holiday.  It has been ever since grammar school when we bought those wonderful little boxes of Valentine cards and gave them to all our classmates.  There is magic in a holiday that’s all about love.

And especially, because of sweet little things like this!  Simple little words of love that let your people know you are thinking of them.   Joe found me this postcard in an antique store and I put it on our kitchen shelf every year.

Probably the very best thing we have in this house, besides the things with the beating hearts, and my Beatrix Potter figurines (:-)), is this set of windows in our kitchen.  When we brew our tea, wash dishes, or cook dinner, the seasons knock on the windows and say, “Hey, look how beautiful I am!”  They show us what’s going on within ten feet of the kitchen sink. Every thing we need to know is right there, they put on an amazing display.

Right now we need to be sure the squirrels have enough to eat, and Joe makes sure they do!  In the winter the windows are tightly shut, and outside, our garden friends visit regularly, for the seeds and apples we put in the driveway, and of course for the bird feeders.

We see it all from those windows . . . we can watch the garden grow, the snow fall, the wisteria bloom, and then there’s the wild turkeys, skunks, and bunnies grazing on the lawn.

Jack loves the windows too.

Especially for his new friends.  This is one of our “regulars” —  the little gymnast.  Poetry in motion . . . Here he is in technicolor ….

He’s here so often that he and Jack are almost friends.  Jack is very calm looking at him and vice versa.

But here is someone new and Jack is anything but calm with this very special kind of woodland critter, wearing her winter fur-coat-camouflage!  She was here a couple of days ago — we’d never seen her in the wisteria before … isn’t she adorable?

She must belong to one of our neighbors. I’m sure she’s here to try and ambush the birds, but they are too smart for her.  She looks like she’s expecting a squirrel!

Such a little doll.  She stayed out there a long time, looking darling the whole time.

I wish she would live here forever.  Is that not the sweetest face in the world!?  See why I love my kitchen windows?

So then, we woke up the next day, and everything had turned white! It was beautiful, but only around 23°!  Rather glorious.  Joe’s been making us fires every day.  We are completely hunkered in for winter.

The view is especially nice from the kitchen windows.  You have this to look at while you make a grilled cheese sandwich to take to eat in front of the fire — and everything’s right with the world!

Jack of course is fascinated by the change of seasons, by anything that happens outside.

The feeders suddenly got very busy — we stopped everything to watch.  Joe went and put a zoom lens on his camera so he could take some closeups.

He got really close, it almost doesn’t look real.  This is right outside our window!  It’s like having a fish tank you don’t have to do anything to but stare at.

And she is waiting for her sugar daddy to bring her a bite to eat — she waits, off to the side, on a little branch.  Isn’t she pretty and fluffy?

Jack’s eyes never get normal, it’s all too exciting. His head whirls from one side of the room to the other, one set of windows to the other.

And why not? I’m excited too!  Isn’t this wonderful?  By far the best photo we’ve ever gotten of a cardinal.  I would like to feel that little topknot on his head.

Look at that face!  This must be where punk rockers got the idea for their hair.  Right?  Everything from nature.

Then Lady Bird got tired of waiting for him to bring her a seed and came to get her own.  Feeling very liberated.

Jack doesn’t limit himself to the kitchen window . . . he is at every window in the house.  I sneak up on him and put my mouth next to his ear and he rubs against my cheek and we talk about what we are seeing out there.

 Joe doesn’t limit himself either, he was so excited with that lens that after he got done with the birds he went to take pictures of the hibiscus!  You must be wondering where we would get a hibiscus!  At the end of the summer, Joe brought a big pot of hibiscus in from the porch and put it in an upstairs window.  Look what it’s doing for us in January!

Joe is a wonderful photographer!  Surprisingly, hibiscus does well here, indoors, in the winter.  So many things don’t, it’s funny that our dry heat doesn’t seem to bother it.   It blooms all summer too.  And they come in so many pretty colors.

Joe planted yellow ones in the same pot.  This light comes from the back lawn, reflected off the snow!

So now you know what Jack’s been doing, what the birds and squirrels have been doing, what the weather’s been doing, what Joe’s been doing, and here’s what I’ve been doing:

I’ve been painting little pictures in our diary.  I just realized it’s our anniversary on February 6th . . . it was just a year ago we got the brilliant idea to drop everything and run away to England.  I wonder what we will think up this year!

I told you I wanted to paint lambs, and I have been!  Fat cute thing with wagging tail!  Yes, girlfriends, I am having fun. xoxo

Today I’m going to paint a new page about tea.  With Beatrix Potter figurines and English teapots for my muses. Happiness.  Nothing really going on at all around here; just another regular day in paradise.  But here comes Valentine’s Day.  I’m not sure if you have ever tried my recipe for chocolate eclairs?  The little two-bite ones? They’re delicious and so easy.  And so romantic.  Make them for someone you love.  Make them for the man at the post office, or your child’s classroom at school; have a girlfriend’s Valentine tea party.  But be sure to hide a few for yourself!

And that’s all for today my friends.  Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!  Downton Abbey tonight!  Yay!   I have to tell you, just this moment, Jack’s paw came up in the narrow space between my art table and the desk this computer is on. I didn’t hear him, it was just that little paw, feeling around. I look down, there’s a rubber band on my foot.  Too much.  Gotta go.   XOXO

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

566 Responses to BLUE SKIES, BEAUTIFUL DAY in Birdland

  1. maybaby says:

    It’s 8 degrees here in St. Paul and not supposed to get above zero tomorrow, brrr! But I planned ahead and will be making yummy oven baked french toast and a big pot of soup to keep us warm on a holiday Monday where we will just be staying home and enjoying each other. Most of our snow has melted (boo) but we are supposed to be getting some fresh stuff after the cold leaves us. I love a freshly coated yard, and trees, and garden. Thank you for sharing yours. (and I love how you call it “our book”. We all so eagerly wait for it!) One more thing, oh yes, please make the eclairs! They are scrumptious and I make them each February, so many of your recipes mark our holidays.

  2. Ginnie says:

    Tell Joe those bird pictures are fabulous. And I love seeing the progress on your book – it will make the reading of it when it’s finally in our hands all the sweeter.

    I’m with you on the “Downton Abbey tonight – yea!” Can’t wait – a group of 4 or 5 of us (2 are Brits) get together to watch. We’re all shamelessly addicted.

    • sondra fox says:

      What is it with “Downton Abbey? ” I really can’t understand why it is I love it so much. Maybe it’s been a dream of mine to be rich & live in a castle? I so look forward to Sunday nights. How fun is that to watch it with your friends? I think of all you girlfriends watching it at the same time I am. Sandy from Chihuahua Flats

      • sbranch says:

        They are telling a really good story too, besides the beautiful everything!

        • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

          I told Norm that they could have shown Downton Abbey straight through and we would have all loved to have sat and watched it! The hour-long show zips by!

          • sbranch says:

            We have “On Demand” so I watch it two or three times each week!

          • Dawn from Minnesota says:

            …so does Bret ! 😉 Maybe not…but maybe yes!!

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            They repeat it here Wed. nights and I’ve watched it a couple of times a second time and I’m amazed at the things I see and hear the second time that I missed the first! 🙂

          • I looked for it on our “on demand” and couldn’t find it – we missed the first episode of this season and I like to watch them in order. waah.

          • sbranch says:

            I couldn’t find it either, but I looked again, and it was there. Try again Karen, see if it’s back!

  3. Paula A. says:

    I’m soooo looking forward to seeing your English Diary book! I know it’s going to be delightful just like everything else you do. Jack is such a cutie. Loved the view from your window and Joes pics. I grow lots of different hibiscus down here. I especially like the double ones- twice the beauty! Enjoy your peaceful Sunday!

  4. Sylvia WA State says:

    Thanks for the lift in spirits Susan and Joe. Wonderful photos of brilliant birds, visiting criters, snow and hibiscus blossums! Not to mention the reminder that my favorite (too) Valentine’s Day is coming right up followed by THE BOOK! Thanks for the titillating peeks. Love the couple in the boat under the moon 🙂 I am inspired. xxoo to Jack and Girl.

  5. Marilyn says:

    Hi Susan. Such a pleasure, as usual, to get your blog with your nice photos, lovely drawings, yummy recipes, fun music. If only we could touch through our computers as well! Just think of all the strokes your Jack would get then!

    I was thinking about what you said about Valentine’s and Christmas, “There is magic in a holiday that’s all about love.” Very true. But then, isn’t that what Christmas is all about, too? It’s a time to remember how God loved us so very much that He sent His Son, so if we believe in Him,– trust Him, we can have life everlasting. Sometimes we get distracted by what we’ve made Christmas to be.

    Just a thought. Thanks for all you do. Reading about your grilled cheese sandwiches made us go start some home-made bread in our bread machine. 🙂

    I can’t wait for your book to be finished!

    Have fun at Downton Abbey tonight,

    • sbranch says:

      You are so right Marilyn … But it’s turned into such a busy time of year. I do LOVE it, who could not? But I kind of wish for something simpler. Valentine’s fills that spot, so I feel lucky to have both.

  6. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Oh my! valentines, squirrels, wild turkeys, visiting furry friend, snow, cardinals, flowers, Jack, English diary, chocolate eclairs – did you not forget something? I think not – perfect.

  7. Judy Young says:

    Susan, I was wondering where you find those lovely bird feeders (the long ones the cardinals are perched on). I can’t find any around here like those. Was wondering if you have a mail order source or if you carry them??

  8. Susan L says:

    The little kitty visitor…she looks just like my Tempe! I hope she comes back for another visit! 🙂 I bet Jack was SO excited and just beside himself when he saw her. As if he were saying “WHAT are you doing in my tree?” Kitty babies are the best entertainment. Thank you for sharing yours with us! And thank you for sharing snow too. Down here in Atlanta, we have no snow and I do love seeing it. And your hibiscus are beatiful. We had some out on the patio a couple of summers ago, but the deer kept eating the flowers! I always look forward to your blogs to see what you all are up to 🙂
    Thank you again 🙂

  9. Willa says:

    As soon as I saw your post (and before I read it) I made myself a pot of tea, then grabbed my computer and sat myself down front in front of the fire place. After that, begging was involved; not a lot of begging, more like a gentle, “Oh pretty please, Brownie, make me a fire so I can sit and read what my friend Susan has for me today!” So now I’m sipping tea, all cozy-like, with two kitty cats curled up next to me. I read your post twice to make sure I did’t miss a word. The pictures were wonderful! The scenery divine! The kitty in the tree looks like my Siberians and made my heart skip a beat when I saw her/him. But Jack wins the photo contest hands down!! That cat and his antics make me smile 🙂 Thank you Susan, for a lovely afternoon that will continue into the evening!!

  10. Cyndee Randall says:

    Good day, Susan. I really laughed out out loud when I saw Jack watching the squirrels. I have big fat ones who come begging for peanuts every day. In summer when we sit on the porch and read (well, I read, my Mr. Darcy watches the squirrels), we have very similar encounters. One cheeky squirrel climbs right up to the window and there is Mr. Darcy on one side of the screen, and one of the squirrels on the other side. They don’t more, just sit nose to nose until the squirrel decides the peanuts are more interesting. I have named the squirrels but honestly cannot tell them apart. Thanks for sharing your world. I am now inspired to dig out my Valentine supplies and decorations! Happy witing. Can’t wait for the book.

  11. Nancy West says:

    What a delightful glimpse of “your world” today. We have a beautiful warm and sunny January day here in East Texas (we call it the Pineywoods!) So I especially appreciate your quote about the pine tree. The name of my high school was actually Pine Tree in Longview, TX, if you can believe that. Do y’all have lots of pine trees? I live on a small lake, where I can walk out right to the water’s edge. It is called Lake Cherokee. I call it my “little piece of heaven.” Lots of nature….squirrels, birds, deer, fox, opossums, and armadillo. If I knew how to create a beautiful blog like yours, I certainly would, and include some pictures.
    A few weeks ago, I commented on your blog, and shared that I was sick with the flu, and that I had recently lost my father. I was pretty sad that day. Thank you for your reply. I couldn’t believe I got a note from Susan Branch! I got replies from other “girlfriends” that day, which I also appreciated.
    It also prompted me, when I began to feel better, to go shopping online. I ordered a new address book from you, to replace the other one (from you) that I have used for many years, and which is literally worn out. Now I need to start transferring all those addresses!
    I realize I have written a very long comment, but now I feel like you are really a good friend, and I should make my letter newsy! You know how you have YOUR WILLARD? Well I have “GREEN BEAN” letters. That is the name I have given them, because many years ago (before the Internet, and unlimited phone calls) my precious grandmother would write letters to her daughters in other states. She lived a very simple life, and didn’t have much money or go many places. But she raised a wonderful garden, including green beans, and was a wonderful cook. In her letters sometimes, because she didn’t have many things to talk about, she would talk about her green bean crop, and cooking a pot of green beans, and canning green beans. One of her daughters, wasn’t very appreciative of hearing all about the green beans, and she would talk to others about the “green bean letters” in a derogatory way. I only hope that I am half the letter writer she was, because I know I can never raise a garden like hers, or be half the good cook she was.
    Oh, one more thing……I have to tell you that I have “ailurophobia,” also called “felinophobia,”
    a fear of cats. So, I have to “fast-forward” through your blog when you show pictures of your cat. Your blog just previous to this one, I couldn’t read at all. I know. It’s weird. But everything else about your art and your blog….I love….so I am glad to see all the darling lambs! Happy January!

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      Hi Nancy–you aren’t the only one with that fear of cats. Although I do enjoy looking at Susan’s photos and sometimes toy with the idea of getting one. (Notice the word “toy”) 🙂 It is a very real fear that a lot of people don’t understand…If my husband strongly wanted a kitty, I know I would need to see a psychiatrist first! 🙂 LOL!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Nancy – just LOVED the wonderful story about your Grandma and her green beans! These are the small but very real moments that make up the best parts of Life [to this observer anyway]. Thanks for sharing… :>)

  12. Barbara in NC says:

    The cardinal is the NC state bird and I never get tired of seeing them -they
    especially love a good bath in our birdbaths! Wish we would get a good snow – only a dusting here a few days ago. I just finished a wonderful book set in
    Dorset, England called “The French Gardener” by Santa Montefiore – you would
    love it. Thank you for all of your happy pictures -enjoy “Downton” tonight (poor Edith!)

  13. Jennie says:

    Wild turkeys, wild cats, cardinals, old homes with wide windows and snow . . . just showed this post to the husband to explain reasons 548, 549, 550, 551 and 552 for wanting to live in New England- or Old England. I’m easy. My dreams reach around lots of nooks and crannies! 🙂
    As always, your post brought some delight to my day- thank you!

  14. Marion Rose says:

    Good Afternoon my friend! Just sat down with my lap top and oh what a surprise! I didn’t expect a blog from you today. Love your Valentine banner! The first thing I did after lunch today was to call and invite our friends to our “Valentine Party”. Everyone I called had been waiting to hear from me. We have been having this party for about ten years or more. We do decorate, almost as much as Christmas. Our ” Valentine Tree” is white with red glass hearts, red ribbons, red garland and white lights. I get great enjoyment from the decorating, it looks so warm and inviting. It is fun doing the baking, I always try to do something different for dessert, always with the shape of a heart. One year I didn’t do the shape and the men were the ones that complained. I have so much fun with my little heart cookie cutter, cutting bread for croutons and beets for harvard beets. I think this party makes everyone happy! We do play a game and everyone receives a gift, of course it is a Valentine gift. Isn’t funny how adults like these traditions. Think I should make a banner for my kitchen. Thank you for your idea!
    You and Joe do a wonderful job taking pictures. Your birds pose very well for you. How do you get clear pictures through the glass? I always get a glare.
    I think the Cardinals in my yard look larger this year, or are they puffing up to look important. Thank you again for sharing your winter wonderland, Marion

  15. Rosemary says:

    How absolutely fabulous…the cardinal pictures that Joe took! Up so close. Love those birds. Wonderful to see Martha’s Vineyard in winter. It is almost 70* here today. Love a snowy day, though…from inside by the fire.
    I may have to make a banner for Valentine’s Day and one for my neighbor. You need to pause every now and then from your writing for a little diversion such as Valentine decorating or playing with Jack. How sweet the two of you in the boat…Joe with his “tam”. Such a lovely tease for OUR book..
    So, today is my birthday and have had a lovely day so far. Glad I checked for a post from you…appreciate it so much. I view my cardinals out my kitchen windows, too as they drink from the birdbath. We try to keep it thawed in freezing weather…husband pours hot water, because they love to have a drink and are most prevalent at this time of year, at least in my yard. Sometimes see as many as 20 out… hopping down out of the trees.
    Have a good week. Stay cozy.

    • sbranch says:

      We have flocks of robins! Big fat ones, yesterday there were about thirty on the lawn!

      • Hi Susan, we have noticed robins here during the Winter and I was wondering what are they eating since “worms” are their #1 staple and there aren’t any of those out and about especially with 5 degrees like this morning. Well, I was out one day several Winters ago and my parents had many feeders with all types of seeds and I saw the robins on the ground eating sunflower seeds the other birds had dropped. So, they have acclimated and I still have no idea why they aren’t migrating and sticking around to endure the Winter months. I also saw a flock of robins around the 1st of February years ago which was very surprising and they have continued to show up over the years. You said the ones you saw yesterday were “big fat ones” I’m sure that is a lot of “fluff” but does suggest they are eating something?

        • sbranch says:

          Until now, we’ve had a fairly warmish winter … but that’s over — it’s eleven degrees right now! I’m guessing something is good to eat on our lawn, and it can’t be worms. Interesting . . . I’ll have to watch more closely.

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          Hmmm….a flock of robins on February 1st? Sounds like a birthday present Deborah!! 🙂 Robins are my favorite bird and we have them here in the winter too!

          • Shhhhh……..notice I didn’t mention the word Birthday Dawn!!!! I must admit I did appreciate them as a gift that particular day!!! Now, last year with our mild winter the 1st was 50 degrees and that NEVER has happened in my memory and I loved having a bright, sunny, warmish day vs snow, ice and blizzard conditions. All truly wonderful gifts. Be well and stay warm……

        • Chris Wells from West TX says:

          Deborah, We get Robins here in the winter time also….and I know we don’t have any worms! Worms need moisture! I wondered also what they could be eating. We often see them in December, but not much after that, so I always think they are still traveling South. But I can’t imagine what they are eating. Chris

        • Chris Wells from West Texas says:

          So Deborah…..Is it COLD?! My son is in Ohio and said he’s wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up and that’s in the house!! He doesn’t even want to see next month’s electric bill.
          On the other hand, it’s supposed to be 80 degrees here today….that’s not right for January… seems all very odd! But I pick the 80’s over the minus temps that you are having. Stay Warm girlfriends! Chris

          • Hi Chris….and YES it is extremely COLD here this week I think the lowest temp. was 5 on Tuesday with 13 being the high for the day. Now, we are expecting 2″ of snow with 20’s so it’s rising….haha It is Winter and Pat M. and myself made a pledge last Summer when it was 100 and we were in a severe drought that we would NOT complain about the cold this Winter. So, Pat this isn’t a complaint I’m only answering Chris’s question!!!! Phew I have to be careful because I don’t want to break my promise. Enjoy your 80’s we are looking forward to those temps. in May around Race Day maybe??

    • Faith rose says:

      Rosemary i just wanted to say happy birthday and many more!

  16. Claudia says:

    God’s creation and his creatures give us such joy! You are so blessed to have such a variety outside your windows to paint from! I’d give anything to have cardinals here, but we don’t in this part of northern California. I just filled up our feeders after two weeks of 30 degree temperatures, and have been rewarded with yellow breasted finches and assorted others– the word is out, “party at our house!”

  17. Debra V. ~ Southern California says:

    I originally came to your blog to let you know I was concerned for you with a storm I heard about on the weather channel. It said that a snow storm is to hit Cape Cod by Tuesday. A cold storm, and I wanted to warn you. But you probably already know about that. Seems that with the fireplace lit and those wonderful grilled cheese samis you’re all set. Also you’ve got Joe and the cat-kids to keep you entertained as well as that beautiful book you’re working on. Please take care and have your candles ready and plenty of dry wood to burn.

    Loved your blog today! Full of inspiration, I must get out all my Valentines Day decorations too! It’s always so drab when we put away our Christmas stuff, I hadn’t thought about how the red/pink valentines would cheer it thing up! Thank you again for making my world better! Love you friend!

    • sbranch says:

      Joe mentioned there’s a storm coming… I better ask him more about it!

      • Chris Wells from West TX says:

        Oh my! You do have a storm coming! Don’t forget to buy bread & milk!! Not sure why, when chocolate and wine would accomplish the same thing! Much snow and COLD! Stay warm. XXOO

        • sbranch says:

          Joe just walked in from the market! I’m sure, no doubt at all, he got lots of goodies for the storm!

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            Ummmm…”storm mode” is what we call it here. Buy milk, bread, ingredients for soup or stew, and check the supply of popcorn and apple cider! As important as getting in a supply of wood for the fireplace! 🙂

  18. Mary Ann in Mexico says:

    Oh, I love all your windows. The photos of the birds are fantastic! And what a beautiful kitty who stopped by to say ‘hi’. And then there’s Jack. Jack, Jack, Jack. I love that little boy. I noticed your little round plate on your kitchen window. I have the same one in pink on a wall in the living room. It’s one of my favorites. Keep warm!

  19. Linda H (from northern IN) says:

    Hi Susan,

    That was a perfectly delightful post! I loved the wonderful cardinal shots by Joe, and, of course, the cat photos are always amusing! I can’t believe how Jack stands up so tall to see what he’s trying to see! If he could just talk one day and give us his impressions! At least you can see some of his thoughts in those eyes! I also bring my dwarf hibiscus inside for the winter, and sometimes mine blooms too. We’ve been having a light snow here all day and my husband and I got cozy and watched “Charade” with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. So much fun to do that while we can gaze outside and watch the snow. I just watched my very first episode of “Downton Abbey” and loved it, so I must catch up. The CBS Sunday morning program featured the castle and real-life owners this morning. Have a great week!

  20. patti says:

    Thank you, Susan you are just what I needed to get moving and be creative. Love the snow. We have not had any, go figure. This is Chicago, we always have snow. I am a weather nut and I have never seen this lack of snow. My poor little granddaughter, Gabriella is so longing for a, “Snow Miracle” as she puts it. I too have a zoo outside my back. I have to Coyotes that live by the pond. They don’t bother anyone, but I keep my Bella close as she just loves, loves, loves other animals. All the animals in the neighborhood think my back door is the place to congregate. I know them all. They are all my friend, less I’m not too crazy about pete the possum. When he first came to my back door, I had never seen one before. I called the police and told them there was the ugliest animal I have ever seen in my back yard and they needed to send an officer over to take it away. Right away. They got a laugh out of it and just told me he would not bother anything. Well mr. pete the possum has been here for awhile and I wish he would leave. He looks so cold when he comes up to my back door. I know it’s him b/c he has the same markings. Well now I’m just going on and on. It really has been a wonderful weekend. I went smash journaling w/my Gabriella. It is so wonderful to experience the world thru a 6 year olds eyes. Such simple joy. I love it. Happy Anniversary to you and Joe. Me and mine will be celebrating our34th this year !! I wish I could show you my pictures of my Coyotes I got last week. They are so beautiful <3

  21. Diane S. says:

    So looking forward to your book, I have been to England & Scotland, so very excited to see all the lovelies you paint. I got out my Valentine decor yesterday, now I am all set. Later will make some sweet treats for my two DD & their hubbies & my 4 Grand boys & of course DH. Hope your painting & writing go smoothly. The eclairs sound delish, I have a good recipe for Chocolate Eclair dessert you make in a 9x 13 pan. It is good.

    • sbranch says:

      Love to see that. I make mine in a large wreath shape, for parties. I think there aren’t any rules when it comes to eclairs!

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      I bet it’s the same as mine! ~ I make it instead of birthday cake if someone would rather have that on their special day(birthday) ~ I am going to try making homemade Danish layer cake for Valentine’s Day this year!

  22. Sylvia Faye says:

    Susan I loved your post on your kitties; it made me smile and remember all the fun we had with our cat ‘pebbles’. A cat is a good thing and I enjoyed seeing (maybe) your new cat in the yard outside your kitchen window. I miss the cardinals…we had them in Virginia and my daughter is enjoying them in Ontario but we only have the bluejays here.
    A kitchen with a view is heaven, n’est-ce pas?
    Your posts always bring joy to the heart and pleasure for the eyes. Love your touches of watercolours. What a blessing your talent is for those that cannot draw we ‘draw’ joy from yours each time a post arrives in my mailbox.
    Please let us know asap the cost of your book when completed so we can save for it. I so enjoyed your trip with you and it was so thoughtful of both of you to make time for the girlfriends. I saw a wonderful travel log this week from the library and some of the scenery that was shown in England reminded me of your trip; especially the long walks they took in the countryside going from field to field with the lambs frockling. It was such a blessing to me each time you sent one.

    I also loved the fireplace pictures of the roaring fire that Joe made for the two of you and the kitties.

    Merci beaucoupe,
    Sylvia Faye

  23. Joan says:

    Your kitty visitor looks so much like our Truffles, who is now an old girl of 16. She doesn’t do any tree climbing any longer. Thank you, too, for Joe’s photograhs of the beautiful cardinals or redbirds as we call them.
    Loved your vintage valentine. Bought a used book at a library sale several years ago and found a valentine from the early 1900’s inside. I still have my shoebox Valentine mailbox with a lace heart and satin ribbon my sweet mother made for me in 4th grade (in 1962!) with most of my Valentines from throughout the years. Wouldn’t dare get rid of it!

  24. The visiting kitty looks just like my Maine Coon, Victoria!

    So that is where she has been going when I take a nap. 😉

    • Mary Eva Ross says:

      I agree Brenda, when I saw the picture of the visiting kitty I thought of my old Maine Coon, Bert. Oh my he was the love of my life. I have had cats my entire life, still have 2 that I love to pieces, but my Bert.. What a amazing boy.

  25. Pat C. says:

    Love the hibiscus, Susan. They are one of my favorite flowers. And Joe must have a green thumb to make it bloom in January! Love seeing Jack enjoying himself. He is a character!

  26. Thank you for such a lovely blog Susan…..I absolutely love Cardinals and Blue Birds and I must admit a whimsical Wren (which means good luck for any home they are near)…..every Summer in a Forsythia Shrub by our home we would see baby Cardinals and the wispy tufts of their top knots was a hoot (Tina Turnerish) ha so adorable. I must report that even with the cold temps. here this Winter my Spring bulbs are up almost 3″ (daffodils/tulips)?? I don’t understand why since it hasn’t been mild. I did hear that we are half way through the Winter and I’m wondering when did that happen!!! I hope you do not mind this P.R. comment on salted peanuts that people give to squirrels….please buy the unsalted ones the little fellas do not need the salt and I was told that by my dear Dad years ago!!! I’m sure the squirrels could careless; but, hypertension in a squirrel isn’t something they need at least the ones we have in our yards who already act “frenzied”!!! Jack loves to watch all the activity from the inside just like our kitties and they do know when another cat is outside don’t they!! I had to remind our kitties one day that by the grace of God that could be them and I actually think I saw Mystee snub her nose up at me?? Maybe compassion isn’t a kitty trait?!!!

  27. Lorna Schreck says:

    I love that you love to decorate for Valentine’s day. I typically hang a heart banner and put red and white Mimi carnations in a few small vases mixed in with heart shaped votive candle holders in the center of the table. Love is a-glow. And thank you for sharing the life through your windows. We don’t have many birds or squirrels, although deer wander through our back yard all the time. All these creatures are so dear when they visit and check up on the humans behind the glass!

    Once again I am awed by the timing of life. I just spent several hours preparing the drawing of a hibiscus for a watercolor class I will be teaching on Tuesday. And only the did I allow myself the treat of your blog. How on earth did you know I was planning to look for some photos with sun shadows on the hibiscus?! This week we will be working with shadows and dark backgrounds, and there were Joe’s photos. Please let me know if it is okay with you two for me to print them to share them in my class. Otherwise I will just share the blog.

    Have a lovely week, Lorna

  28. Cyndi in NC says:

    We love our feeder outside in the yard and the ones on the windows. In the summer we have our Hummers and all the regular birds that come to the window. Chickadees, Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, sparrows, Gold Finches, Rosy Finches and Juncos and others come and watch my husband Jim while he works. He is good about staying on his task but spends a fair amount of time watching them too. Then there were the Quail. I thought they were leaves blowing across the yard but it was a covey of Quail! I was floored!! Not to mention the Pileated Woodpeckers and all the other varieties that visit. We also have our squirrels running amuck! After Thanksgiving but before Christmas we had 7 wild turkey’s of our own. We’ve lived here going on 13 years and never had seen them before. I wonder how many times any of them walked through the yard before. I saw them walk along the side of the house and across the back yard. Then last week I just caught sight of two foxes going over is slight rise in the back of the yard. I really wish I’d have looked sooner!! I love to look out the window and see who is visiting now. Of course there are also the five does that come to visit. At night when all is quiet and I’m the only one awake occasionally I hear the Owl wooing in the trees. I’m so glad we have some many outdoor friends. They have given us so many wonderful visits. Aren’t we so lucky to have all these wonderful creatures that share their lives with us!! Love the little girl cat that came to visit you, she sure is pretty! What a lovely face. Thanks for sharing your critters with us, inside and out! *L* Also I love to make Eclairs, they are so easy but everyone thinks they are hard to make. My youngest daughter helped in make some years ago when she was in grade school. We had so much fun and she was so proud that she had helped make them! Wow there were so many wonderful things in the blog, thank you!

    • pat addison ( cave junction,OR ) says:

      i’m with you, i love watching the critters in our yard, love watching the squirrels out front chow down on their squirrel mix and peanuts, love watching the lil birds at all the windows on the feeders and the suet feeders, love the hummingbirds that visit and buzz around. definitely enjoy the deer out in the back area of our property and i take alfalfa and clover hay out to them constantly. we have coons that come through, as long as they don’t do any harm to my chickens, ducks or turkeys they can visit, but otherwise than they are not welcome here at all. i wish my kitchen sink had the lovely windows yours does susan, but maybe someday i will get a home with a big kitchen and big windows and the sink with the windows so i can watch more often. off to go feed the lil birds, and my lil birdy is fine…he flew off to go find his pals. have a good day, hugs….. 🙂

  29. Pam says:

    Beautiful photos. Brrrr, it’s cold here too. Went to the Rugby this afternoon, wore tights, socks, jeans, long sleeve tee, thin long sleeve jumper, thick jumper, body warmer and coat, scarf, hat and gloves. Also took a blanket to put round our legs!! 🙂 Tomorrow we are staying tucked up in the warm.

  30. Shanna says:

    I love Valentine’s Day. Last year, I made the chocolate chip muffins in the iron heart pan from the recipe in your post last year, and invited my sister over for a tea party. We had a wonderful time. All of your ideas inspire me–I look forward to each post you do, and each new book. Wishing you a happy Sunday from sunny, but cold Northern California.

  31. Brenda says:

    I loved the whole post, but you have especially inspired me with the hibiscus! I always hate to give mine up in the winter. I didn’t know they would actually bloom indoors! Next winter I am going to bring mine in and see if I can get them to bloom…Of course, Joe may just have a special touch, lol.

  32. Wendy Louise says:

    I was so excited to see a new post, I usually think the week end is for you to just be. Wow, what a lovely blog again, you must be tired of me saying this but everyone is such a treat ! I love my kitchen window to see the birds too. My sister just left after a terrific visit, I introduced you to her and now you have a new fan ! You’ll never guess what we did this weekend and I still can’t believe we did it. Well, my daughter gave my husband and I tickets to go ZipLining, yes Ziplining down a big Mountain in New Hampshire, at Gunstock ski area. My husband and I are in our fifties and so is my sister! My son and daughter went too, I think so they could see that we really did it! WOW, it was exhilarating to say the least. The view, fresh air, wonderful people to be with was an experience I won’t forget. They told us a 88 year old gentleman and his 84 year old wife went this past fall and loved it! It is never too late for new experiences if you are up for it ! 😉 Love your Paradise !!!!!

  33. Deborah Norling says:

    Thank you for sharing all the animals..of course I loved the sweet kitty girl the most…I also love the kitchen window shots…for some reason..glasses or dishes freshly washed and drying on the side board create such a comfy feeling..along with real tea towels. In fact.. if you recall when you posted your Minton dessert set, freshly washed and drying…. I cropped that shot down a bit and use the cups as my screen saver on my home lap top….I just get such a safe..cozy feeling looking at them.. the flowers on the cups are so sweet…in fact, I am still trying to find out the name of that set !!

    • sbranch says:

      I know how you feel about that picture; although I don’t have the cups anymore, I have the photo, and that counts for a lot!

  34. Peggy Cooper says:

    What a treat to find a new post this sunny Sunday in southern Colorado. Nice to see your snow. It’s been scary dry here this year, and I’m worried we will have water restrictions this summer. We don’t have those beautiful cardinals here, but plenty of other birds visit our yard. I think they eat more of the chicken food than the chickens do. And we have a little pond that we keep a heater in so the ice won’t freeze over completely since goldfish hibernate at the bottom in the winter. So we have lots of birds, squirrels, and stray cats visiting to get a drink. This is great amusement for Katniss Everdeen who likes to sit on the ironing board in the mud room and make funny noises at them. I’ll be thinking of you and all the girlfriends tonight, all watching Downton together with our cups of tea (or glasses of wine). Lucky we can do it in our comfy jammies instead of having to dress for dinner :o)

  35. Mia Sophia says:

    Another lovely post! Everyone needs to have a their own “little window” to look out unto the world. Wishing each had a view as beautiful as yours! Or the ability to find something beautiful. That is what your view on life reminds us to do!

    The first thing I do in the morning is open all the shutters. I need the light and nature is so fun to watch. I have a window next to my treadmill and I smile as I watch the squirrels jump from branch to branch in our tree. Joe’s bird photos are wonderful too! Makes me want to rush out and put up bird feeders and squirrel feeders! 🙂 My husband will be so happy! We do have “couples” of Mourning Doves in our yard. They live in the bushes and drink from our fountain. I love listening to their bird calls. It is also fun to see peeks of your upcoming book. I just love the muted color palette! My favorite! I look forward to your very special blog! Simply the Best…Always!

    PS…February 19th I met my husband for the first time. We have now been married for 30 years!

  36. Jane F. says:

    Dear Susan: England is my first and foremost love. Nothing can ever outdo it, and your book is going to be absolutely enchanting. My next and second love is Provence. Have you ever thought of running off to the south of France and doing a book on that, too? I hope you do!

  37. Kirsten Anne of So. Calif says:

    FABULOUS PHOTOS! I would never get anything done if I lived in your house. The view from your kitchen window is breath-taking. So much to see. I could watch all day. You could put a camera out that window and do a live blog like Phoebe (the hummingbird). Then I could sit here and get nothing done! LOL. We don’t see too much of that nature stuff in L.A. Too many people.

    OK, I’ve looked all over the “Let’s Shop” section. I can’t find the cute tea cup like the brown bird one (peppermint on lid) anywhere. Please tell me you put them away for next Christmas and that they’re not sold out. I finally wanted to order one for me (also the brown bird one) and the heart muffin pan. Should I call? Can you email me with the number? I anxiously await your answer!!! Thanks.

    • sbranch says:

      Here’s the BIRD CUP Kirsten, the fifth row down, is this the one? The heart pan is the 4th row down.

      • Kirsten Anne of So. Calif says:

        Yes, I found both the bird cup and the pan…….but where’s the cute cup with the peppermint on the lid????Please say you still have them!!

  38. Harriett says:

    Today is one of my favorites of all your wonderful blogs. We haven’t had snow yet here on Long Island. Too bad; I think it would help cleanse me of Newtown, purify but not forget; and erase a little of Sandy as well. But being with you, Joe, and the birds is the next best thing. Add a little tomato or bacon to that grilled cheese and I’ll be right there by the fire. Stay warm and happy, Harriett

    • sbranch says:

      xoxo Harriet.

    • dottie (in the OC in SoCal) says:

      Grilled cheese with tomato and bacon sounds heavenly. I also like bacon and pineapple in them or pineapple and a bit of tuna. Heh — I just like to play with variations on a grilled cheese sandwich I think.
      Jalapeno slices, pepproncinis — all good.

  39. salve says:

    Thank you so much for all those beautiful pictures! We love birds! We have right now 2 parakeets – on blue and one yellow – 2-year old siblings. The in-laws of my brother gave them to us before they moved to an apartment from a house – no more room ‘at the inn’ for 8 parakeets – they only have one bird left – kinda sad; expecting low temperatures this week in NYC, let’s see if you have snow just like up there! Cheers!

  40. Stacey says:

    I crawled out of my 2+weeks long migraine cave and checked my favorite blog site and there you were, spreading so much sheer joy for one and all. Thank you for sharing all the blessings of your life and thereby blessing ours. I can hardly wait for ‘our’ book to be published. I have a feeling I should buy two copies, so I’ll have one as back up when I wear out the first! :). Stay warm! Love, Stacey

  41. Ann says:

    I don’ t think I could live in a world without cardinals. What a nice view from your window. Thanks for sharing today.

  42. Sheryl Baker says:

    If I ever get in the market for another house, NOT having a window over the kitchen sink would nix an otherwise perfect house. It’s a must have, that window out of the dishes and into the outside. There’s no snow at the moment here in northeast Missouri, but give Mother Nature an hour or so, and that could all change. I love December and Christmas, but, oh, I love January and the quiet it brings as well. It seems like everything (me included) snuggles down and (deservedly) rests for the month. Some people mourn everything being “dead”, but, I have always thought the trees and grass and flowers are happily snoozing, more than content to be still for a bit and not working at growing every day. And then there are the birds, the busy, busy birds!!! Oh, and the squirrels, too!!! As always, love your post and pics.

  43. Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

    Oh, what a wonderful post,LOVED it all!! It was the end to a perfect day comming on and seeing you had this new post for us. Now I am going to go and put on “Julie & Julia”, because of your Musica.
    Your hibiscus are just beautiful!

  44. Barbara I. - Washington State says:

    Susan – I LOVE your MV plate. I drool over it every time it comes up in one of your pictures. Please tell me you purchased it someplace on the Island that still has them. Otherwise, I’m going to start checking out ebay!! Any markings on the back that I can go on as a clue? Happy Downton-watching this evening!

    • sbranch says:

      I found that plate in an antique store, but the logo on the back doesn’t really look that old. It’s a banner with feathers sticking out of it, under the banner it says, “Decorated by Delano Studios Setauket L.I. N.Y.” Long Island, New York. Hope you can find it! Sorry it took me so long to get out of my chair and go look! Hope you get to see this Barbara!

  45. Raenell Cannady says:

    Your words Susan….well, they just make me smile. I finished reading your blog, sat back in my chair and said to myself, ahhhhh, Isn’t life good!…..thanks so much for the joy you bring in to my life! xo Raenell

  46. Jocelyn says:

    Watching Jack watch the birds makes think of a child’s first Christmas. The wonder and excitement in his eyes says it all!

  47. Margot from Virginia Beach says:

    My cardinal couple is back. They are so pretty. I love hearts all year round. I would like a little Swiss cottage with hearts cut out of the wooden shutters or on the porch posts. I still cannot find the wooden tags.
    The boys and I are going to have bean soup from the ham we had last week. It is so dry here that I will have to go home soon to rehydrate! Does anyone from AZ have any tips?

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      I am back in VA from my visit in AZ with John, Eric and Ninja the Cat; and my Mr. Cardinal is still here! He is so pretty. What does the dish over your sink say?? My son and I went through an antique store on the old Main Street in Mesa. I found a couple of things, one of which was a hand embroidered dish towel. If I wasn’t flying someone would have had to stop me!!! And my son John had his wallet open to buy Mom a little something. When I was leaving he said Ninja would miss Grandma. LOL (I think they missed me (and my cooking) as much as I had been missing them.)
      I ran around like a nut today to get things done before our snow. At least we get a little.

  48. Lynndee says:

    My husband was reading this blog post from behind me with his chin resting on my shoulder. He was being very quiet until we got to the part about Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Then he whispered in my ear ‘grilled cheese sandwich’. Silly sweet man. Guess what we had for lunch today?


  49. Chrissy Thrower says:

    You are so adorable!
    Cuteness everywhere.
    I enjoyed it so much this very cold evening.
    I noticed your wreaths are still up! I can beat that, LOL! I haven’t been able to take my trees down yet. Still alive and so pretty and cozy by the fireside.
    Maybe this week. (I’m never ever this late!)

    • sbranch says:

      We decided to leave things on for the storms that are coming! Red bows look good in the snow. You win for the trees though!

  50. The Valentine banner is so cute, gives me ideas… We had more than 12 inches of snow but today it was sunny, warm and very windy; most of the snow melted. Just as well because I need to set out round hay tomorrow and using the tractor is dangerous so I take a lot of time to do it safely.
    My Lily turned Levi goes to the vet this week…has to have his nubbins off so he’ll think more of mice and not sex. Not that he’s had sex yet but he’s a boy kitty so I’m sure it’s soon to cross his mind -LOL-.

    • sbranch says:

      Good luck to poor little Levi, you are a good mommy!

      • pat addison ( cave junction,OR ) says:

        tell levi he’ll be a happier cat and full of more mischief. thats what we told Tabby and Midnight and they have been proving us right ever since. 🙂

  51. Those photos of the birds are just fabulous, especially the cardinals. We don’t have cardinals out here on the west coast of Canada so it is one of wishes on my life list to see one in person (or is that “in bird”?). I suppose I’ll have to switch coasts for that, won’t I?

  52. Linda P. Bak, CA says:

    My little dog (Maggie) loves looking out the window in the living room. She is not looking at squirrels or birds she is looking at neighborhood CATS. They drive her crazy – they will taunt her by sitting on the rockers on the porch, sometimes there are 3 of them out on the front lawn having a play date. A kitten came one day and they were nose to nose at the glass storm door looking at each other – I took a picture too cute. Life is not quiet during these cat visits. Thanks for another great post. Love the pictures of the cardinals, they are such a pretty bird.

    • sbranch says:

      I think that’s how it will be for Jack soon. Once I found him having sort of a fit upstairs because a neighborhood cat was walking on the ledge outside the window!

  53. Cindy says:

    Loved it all! The cardinals are great, great job to Joe! Love watching the seasons through your window. Can’t wait for your book!

  54. JoAnn from SoCal says:

    We just ate the best grilled cheese we’ve ever had!!! Thanks much for the tips, Susan.

  55. Linda Hurst says:

    I thought we were the only ones who fed squirrels! We love ours, they are fat and furry! They share the seed with the birds, and next door kitty comes and watches it all from a sunny corner protected from cold winds. Windows are wonderful!

  56. barbara miller says:

    today was a lovely day….my daughter and son-in-love let us in on lovely news:a new baby is on the way! now it will be their third child and our fourth grandchild. I must say on this cold and foggy day it was like sunshine! I felt like those flowers you posted…all happy and warm in the window giving you joy in January. I felt warm and happy and full of joy. thanks for your post…and thank you ,joe, for your pictures!

  57. Audrey says:

    Ooh, oh, oh….I am so jealous of that snow. I’ve always loved winter and, living in North Carolina, we just don’t see snow anymore. Seeing your snow picture reminds me of the awesome snows we had when I was young. Your bird photos are PHENOMENAL and, of course, seeing Jack standing up at your living room window brought an instant giggle. I adore him. Oh, and Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday too!!!!

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      I’m jealous of the snow too! ~Here in SE Wisconsin we have had to shovel once!~ not even use the snowblower!~ I’d gladly trade our below zero weather for some snow any day!~

  58. stephanie says:

    – “hunkered down for winter” is one of the great phrases of all time!

    – Joe’s pictures are amazing – loved the cardinal pick!

    – That cat is not looking for food – that cat has a crush on Jack! Just in time for Valentine’s Day Jack has a girlfriend. You would have to expect with someone like Jack in the house – handsome and full of charm/personality – girls would be flocking to the door and here she is! I think they’d make a cute couple!

  59. stephanie says:

    On the top of my list for my dream home is a window over the sink. It’s a MUST. It makes the kitchen a kitchen.

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Could not agree with you more, Stephanie! At the top of my list too. It’s just BEYOND me how people could even consider not placing sink and window together. Also non-negotiable: [1] fireplace in dining room, [2] double-hung windows [3] porch [or porches]. :>)

  60. Julie says:

    Your posts simply make my heart joyful. By the time I’ve finished reading, I am grinning like a Cheshire cat. What will my kindred spirit choose today I wonder? And suddenly there I am, at your bird feeders…staring out into your yard, watching Chickadees and Cardinals dine. And that sweetie pie Maine Coon wrapped around that branch waiting oh so patiently… I love the sweet little birdies that adorn the pages of your books. Thank you Susan for the reminder that everything is just as it should be, right here, right now, in this little kitchen of mine.

  61. Tina says:

    Love your post today and everyday. Thanks for sharing the animals. Right now in northern Indiana it’s cold so I feed all of them.

  62. Pat Johnson of Paso Robles says:

    A marvelous window to the world! I truly believe that everyone needs one. If not a window, then simply a special place that puts them in touch with nature – even if you live in the city. My place is my patio which provides me with many birds flitting around in the morning. However, my absolute favorite is the hawk who has made my neighborhood home – I hear him/her calling first, then I search him out – and then I see and it takes my breath away. There are tons of birds across the street in the huge old oak tree. The only birds I am not fond of are the crows that chase the hawk and the little birds! I have become the crazy lady who yells at crows as they fly over!!!! Yes, windows to the world are wonderful and necessary! Keep up the good work on the book – a treasure indeed! And, oh, I do remember the world trip we took to England!! Ahhhhh! XXXXOOOO

    • sbranch says:

      Pat, kindred spirits again, I go outside with a dish towel and sort of whip it at them; they don’t care, because they are three stories up in a tree looking down at me. They drive me crazy in the spring when they start cawing, I know what they’re up to!

      • Deborah Norling says:

        Oh no..I’m the crazy lady who f e e d s the crows in my neighborhood..I figure if they have full tummies they won’t bother the little birds…when I visit my Dad..they actually recognize my car as I drive down the street and are waiting for me when I get to his house…

        • sbranch says:

          That’s a very good thought Deborah!

        • Chris Wells from West TX says:

          I guess I’m crazy lady #2! I have always loved crows! Do you know they are one of the most intelligent birds? I RARELY see them here, but every 2 or 3 years a group come by and I hear them. They don’ t stay long, but I love that “caw caw”

      • pat addison ( cave junction,OR ) says:

        i use a pot and a wooden spoon and bang away to drive them out of my yard, they are so noisy and so greedy for all the birdy food.

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      We have hawks too ~right here in the city~ they are beautiful birds~
      I have been in the yard when they have actually swooped down and taken a little bird 🙁 Makes me sad but hubby says ” That’s nature” ~I know~ but can’t they do it when I’m not out there?

      • Hi Lynn, I feel the same way that you do about the poor little birds getting swooped down on and taken away….I have to share this with you, when we lived in the country where we were surrounded with hawks of all sizes I was sitting outside watching my sisters new “stray” kitty that she was deciding on whether she should adopt or not and it was coming toward me to visit. I noticed a hawk flying very low and fast heading straight for this precious little kitten and I jumped up and started waving my hands and yelling (the poor kitten thought I was doing it to her), and at the very last moment the hawk pulled up and flew off!!!! It scared me so much and I picked up the little bundle and took her to my sister. I’m certain had I not been outside at that exact moment that hawk would of picked up that precious kitten I’m sure it happens all of the time. Your husband is right it is nature and the “circle of life” I’m with you I just do not want to witness it!!!! Oh, “Maggie May” is now 4 years old and lives indoors very safe and happy!!!!

  63. shortie says:

    thank you for the video……just heavenly ….. ahhhhh

  64. Sara D NW Georgia says:

    I have always adored your kitchen window. It is so big it gives such a great view. Plus, the lighting must be delightful! If I allowed my kitties up on the kitchen window sill like Jack, they would break everything I have up there. Maybe Jack could teach them some manners 🙂 Those eclairs sound perfect for Valentines Day dessert…. or even better, Valentines Day dessert for dinner with a bowl of fruit! 🙂 🙂

    Please tell Joe I just love his hibiscus! I may try to winter one or two next year. So beautiful to have in the middle of winter!

    It truly is a joy to be able to look out and see the critters. I just moved my bird feeder from the back to the side where my office window is. Now as I work I can see all of my critter friends hard at work too 🙂 Next to me I keep a piece of paper to write down who visited that day, along with myAudubon Field Guide to North American Birds. This way if a new friend comes by, I can look him up 🙂 Hopefully in the spring I can add more feeders.

    Downton Abbey was wonderful as usual 🙂

    Hope everyone is having a delightful Monday!

  65. Oh Susan, I think Jack got your humor! Hinting to you “its play time!” by putting the rubber band on your foot! And when that didn’t work, sneeking his paw up through the table at you! I bet you laughed out loud! The new book pictures are awesome! I can just see the tail wagging! I better start stocking up on tea, don’t want to run out while I read your book! Can’t wait! I love windows over a kitchen sink! Always watching the birds and squirrels, I made the mistake of putting our couch in front of our living room windows when we first moved to the Asheville area from So Cal! I couldn’t get anything done for watching all the new birds at the feeder we put up! Our cat Sherlock at the time enjoyed it as well! Susan how do you keep Jack from knocking over all your treasures at the windows? Our Sammy is always knocking my things over, moved my breakables and just put non breakables there now. That is a pretty kitty in your tree, definetly scared the birds away! We have a beautiful fluffy black kitty that comes around our feeders, I shoo her/him away whenever I see her/him. Joe certainly takes awesome pictures! They are beautiful! We’ve never had the wild turkeys come to our yard, usually see them down the road near a big pond. But years ago at our 1st home here 3 peacocks came to eat under our feeder, yep, I was on the couch, I ran and got my camera and took pics! They didn’t stay long. I later heard that they were from a farm abt 5 miles from us. It was fun to see them!
    Love your snow, hope we get some this year, our 2 yr old grandson hasn’t seen snow yet, they live down the drive from us and his 4 yr old sister loves snow!

  66. katherine says:

    Love, love this post…as always you bring a brightness to the everyday wonders of life. We are hunkered in too for winter here in PA, watching the birds, enjoying our two new indoor kittens, Florence and Isabella (named by my girls Emma and Laura), and crafting and baking always. We are also in great anticipation of our upcoming lambing season, so it is so nice to see your paintings of lambs romping across the pages of your book. And of course dreaming about all things Valentiny! It is such a wonderful uncomplicated holiday….and the greatest of these it LOVE!

  67. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Susan, I just love to stop in and visit with you, JOe, Kitties and all of the girlfriends on your blog!! The photos outside your kitchen window were a wonderful interlude! In Florida, we are blessed with many migrating birds this time of year stopping by our feeders and yards to fatten up for the final trip home. Robins are one of my favorites. They usually come in big flocks and cheep away while devouring things in the grass or some types of berries in various trees. I just love those fat and bright orange breasts and they are only here until about March when they head back north. I wonder if any of them that are in my yard end up in yours? Kinda cool to think about that possible connection! All of the little hints and peeks about the new book are so exciting. It is going to be SO FUN!!

  68. Lynn McCormack says:

    Looking forward to your next book! When will it be finished?

  69. Wendy Louise says:

    I am reading your post again this lovely cold Monday morning to start my week off right. The thought of your new beautiful book makes me feel like Christmas is coming again! I can’t wait to order several, one for me and then as gifts for others. Your sneak previews are so tantalizing. I love dreaming of you working away in your own dreamland remembering your trip. How does that feel ? Do you remember vividly walking the beautiful land there or do you rely on your photos and notes. Do you talk with Joe and get his memories too? My husband and I took a lovely trip to Prince Edward Island twenty years ago. I dream about it and we have videos and pictures to remind us but to have your special talent to record it is magical to me. Oh, you are such a special person to be able to communicate all the joys to us. I so admire you ! Have a wonderful snowy week, I see the island could get a lot this week. Have to build a snowman infront of your kitchen window. What would Jack think of a snowman looking at him through the window with big coal eyes? 🙂

  70. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Susan~thanks much for the wonderful nature show. We have a regular visitor (Sally Squirrel) to our front porch every morning…it’s the best! My hubby has his coffee, I have my tea, and we watch our friend find the seeds we placed along the bricks for her. Too sweet! Susan, I know you treasure your kitchen window as I DID. We down-sized, and along with that came lovely golf course views, but no kitchen window. 🙁 Oh, how I miss that window overlooking the woods and creek. But we all know…home is where the heart is. Life is adjustments to what you have. Revel in the present, fondness for the past.

    Susan, OTS, will your Pancake book be available for Christmas? I want to do Breakfast Baskets this year and I want your book to be the STAR.

    Geeze Louise, the Diary AND Pancake book…how lucky are we, Girlfriends?

    Merry Monday!

    Marie xo

    • sbranch says:

      The Pancake book will have to come the following year, this year is taken up by A Fine Romance!

      • Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

        Thanks for the heads-up. Well, I know my gift-buying for Christmas 2014. Susan, a peek into A Fine Romance looks charming, indeed…sooo looking forward to the read. Thanks for taking such good care of us Girlfriends. xo

  71. Susie Branch says:

    I just read your blog this morning and it is so uplifting to lookout your window. We lost our Yorkie this week end. We had for him 10 years. We will miss Beau but I can enjoy your Jack and your kitchen window. Thanks. Susie Branch Burkburnett, Tx.

  72. Sandy Schaefer says:

    Dear Susan,

    Your blog warms my heart. And that is a very good thing for as i write this,
    the actual temp outside is -15. -40 windchill.
    Duluth, MN. Salute!

    I will be making a Valentine garland today and getting out my vintage Valentine table cloth. Wish I could send a pic. I dare say, you would like it.
    Love to you from Siberia.

    sandy s.

  73. Pam Fortune says:

    Hi Susan
    I was so pleased to read your last two blogs. I have been ill and am still not up to scratch as we say in Yorkshire. In fact I should have been having a steroid injection this afternoon but I can’t get out due to heavy snow. I miss having my cat Tigger, he was a ginger Tom and had such a lovely disposition. My three daughters used to dress him up and give him a ride in their pram and he just stayed where they put him, complete with clothes. Such a good natured cat who lived to an old age. I keep thinking of getting another but not at the moment maybe if I move house, we will see. I have a fluffy cream cat visits me often and a black and white cat who walks about ten paces behind her. They give me a lot of pleasure just watching their antics. I like the idea of one of the girlfriends giving you the idea of doing a book about Provence. You would love France, the markets with gorgeous fresh produce wow I can see a good book emerging. I must away to my kitchen and make something to eat and I will take a look out of my window at the winter wonderland outside. Thank you Susan for a super blog.

    • sbranch says:

      I am writing about Yorkshire now Pam, for the book. I’m in Middleham! Feel better soon. xoxo

      • Pam Fortune says:

        Thanks Susan, weather permitting tomorrow, my middle daughter Antonia is taking me for my steroid injection. It is a long time since I was in Middleham but I live not very far away. Did you see all the race horses being exercised? A very nice little town.

        • sbranch says:

          We had reservations at a hotel in Bibury, so we had no choice but to move through Yorkshire much too fast … I didn’t realize how much we would love it — we didn’t see the horses, although I know it’s a big race center. I have a LIST of things I need to go back there for! I had a relative on the Mayflower and when I was there I had no idea that I could have gone to his house, in Austerfield in South Yorkshire. That’s just one thing! Hope your injection did good things for you Pam!

          • Pam Fortune says:

            Yes you must come back to Yorkshire, there are many places to explore. I didn’t have success with the steroid injection as I still have infection in my body. I keep looking on the Internet to see if there have been any new breakthroughs in Lupus and neutropenia without success. However, tomorrow is another day. Keep warm and healthy.

  74. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Thank you for the eclair recipe! Can I make them the night before and keep chilled in refrigerator until next day? Sounds so fancy but easy to make! You’v e energized me to dust, then start decorating for Valentine’s Day!!! Dearborn, Michigan has wind chill of7 degrees with snow squalls!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, you can make them ahead, but let the chill come off them a bit before you serve them — so the chocolate isn’t too hard. Happy snow day!

  75. Deborah Norling says:

    Susan..speaking of Musica..and..Valentines….have you ever heard Chris Botti he is an amazing trumpet player..?…all of the songs he does are incredible..but…I love his version of “My Funny Valentine”….Ive heard two alone..and then another with Sting singing… a bonus..Chris Botti is exceptionally easy on the eyes… ! !

  76. Miss Pat in Indiana says:

    In the picture of the cardinal looking at the camera, he is saying “You want to do what to my topknot?”
    The picture of the turkeys in your yard reminded me of the day that my family in Westport, MA got up to a huge turkey sitting on their charcoal grill on their deck. They did take a picture, which, of course, I cannot find.
    So nice to know that so many of us are all watching PBS on Sunday at 9:00. Aren’t the costumes wonderful?

  77. Hi Susan! I wish I could make your delicious chocolate eclairs for my daughter, Anne’s classroom on Valentine’s Day, but alas, they won’t allow us to send in any kind of food anymore. Because of food allergies. I feel very sad about it because I loved sending treats in to school. 🙁
    But we can still have some at home, right? Yum.
    And I want to let you know how much I enjoyed your post today. You bring joy to me and to so many around you – – -thanks so much!
    Have a wonderful rest-of-your-day. ♥

  78. Ruth Hoffman says:

    Hi Susan! just loved your post today..the window views, the birds, the hibiscus, the Valentine decoration – everything!! Thank you so much. Jack delivering you the rubber band to play, made me laugh! Glad you are having so much fun working on your book. Won’t we be the lucky ones when it is all done! I don’t know anything about writing a book – but isn’t it the perfect season to hunker down with a creative project? Right now I am sitting in my “morning room” – a cozy little nook right off our kitchen – complete with fireplace, and windows – this is my favorite spot for looking outside, drinking coffee, reading, daydreaming, watching the birds, and taking afternoon naps. We just filled our finch feeder the other day – so I am looking forward to some visits from our pretty yellow friends. It is attempting to snow – every couple of minutes a blast will come down like crazy and then it will completely stop. Don’t know if it will amount to much but it sure is nice. So good to hear from you (as always). Have a good day!

  79. Sheila Weakley says:

    Love the bird and kitty pictures! We have our bird feeders outside our living room and kitchen windows (on the same side of the house) Sometimes the poor birdies get in a panic (we have hawks too!) and fly into our big living room window, and I run outside to pick them up and protect them from the cold and the hawk until they get their senses back-sometimes it takes a while! I have “revived” a few cardinals, and their little secret is that their topknots are just longer feathers held upright! When they are “out of it” from hitting the window, it just lies flat with the other feathers, and oh, my goodness, they look so pitiful! But then they perk up, start looking around, and then they look at me, look really surprised, and flutter away! I am always amazed at them, such tiny miracles of engineering! I do have stickers on the window, and they help some, but we still have the occasional “crash”. Hope this upcoming cold snap doesn’t hit you all too hard-I have our feeders stocked and ready!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, well, that’s so interesting about the topknot. Thank you for telling me, and for being birdie rescue patrol!

    • Holly says:

      Hi Sheila! (My Mom’s name is Sheila!) We have the same problem with birds flying into the windows too. Since the feeders are right by the windows, we have never lost a bird, since they don’t get up enough momentum to really whack themselves! They do shock themselves though and that’s when I like to sneak out and pick them up. They aren’t afraid and I think it helps them to hold them and warm them up in my hands. I have the chance to study them up close and it’s fascinating! Within 10 minutes or so, they revive and then take off, right from my hands. It is such an amazing experience.

      The worst hit, though, was a cooper’s hawk. I don’t know what happened but he hit hard! Instinct took over and I rushed out with a cardboard box and quickly picked him up and put him in. He was looking at me all the time with those beady little yellow eyes and it kind of freaked me out because who really wants to be holding a hawk in their hands without some kind of protection? But I did it because there are stray cats and neighbor dogs around who may have killed it. I put it up high in the box and called our local wildlife rehabilitation center. She said I did exactly the right thing. It took 45 minutes but he finally flew out of the box and flew away, unharmed and back to his shenanigans!

      • sbranch says:

        Good for you! That must have felt great Holly!

        • Deborah Norling says:

          Sheila and Holly..I love that you are so helpful to the birds….I have a funny story..well it wasnt funny to my 15 yr old son at the time..who sat in the passenger side of my vehicle…eyes rolling and having to endure yet another embarrassing “mom moment”… we were sitting in the car at the light of rather busy intersection and I spotted a tiny bird right in the middle of the road…! I couldn’t bear to leave him . I made a u turn and waited at the light so I could make yet another u turn to park my car and run and grab the little guy…as I was waiting to make the turn….a h u g e semi truck…(of course ! )….came barreling towards the intersection from the opposite direction… heart sank…I watched those h u g e tires get closer and closer…I closed my eyes..and was praying praying hard that it would miss the little guy… I could hear and feel the truck rumble past me…..I was so afraid to look..but peeked out of one eye and then the other….and the bird was still there…! ..I made my u turn..I had to get him before the light changed..jumped out of the car..ran to the middle of the intersection…grabbed him out of the road…cradled him in my hands..(the whole time telling myself…don’t fall down..don’t let go of the bird..)…got back to the car..placed him in my back seat.. drove to a near by wild life rescue…opened my car door..and…out he flew ..up and away..perfectly happy and healthy !

      • Hello Ladies, so very nice of you to go out and rescue/revive the poor birds that fly into windows. I read an article that informed us when you witness or hear the thud after a bird has hit the window you have 5 mins. to go out and sit them up (just like you ladies did) and it is almost certain they will regain their senses and fly away otherwise it is almost certain death?? I think a lot of people add “clingon” pics on windows where feeders are to lessen their flying into windows so maybe putting some “hearts” for this time of year would help out our feathered friends!!!

  80. Ann Beirne says:

    Hi Susan,
    I thought I was the only one whose favorite holiday is Valentine’s Day!! I have loved it for the same reasons as you. I looked forward to either making Valentines with construction paper and doilies or going to the store with my mom to pick out the special Valentine box of cards for my classmates. In school, it was fun to make a “mailbox” out of a brown bag and hang it in the front of the classroom, where the mailpeople(all the students) would deliver the Valentines. I am smiling thinking about it! Maybe because I also love the color red and hearts, I like decorating for Valentine’s Day. I am in a panic because my husband and I cleaned out our basement last summer and now I cannot find my Valentine decorations!! (Ironic since cleaning out was suppose to help me organize!). I always have to have some red in my Valentine meal, also. Maybe it will be some form of pasta with tomato sauce and mini red velvet cupcakes. I don’t know yet, but I am obsessed with Valentine’s Day, and I am glad you like it too!
    On another note, I have had a hibiscus plant for almost 5 years. My fellow teachers gave it to me when my mom passed away in April 2008. So I have to keep it alive, although I am not a plant person or gardener. It is huge now, but we trim it back. It has difficulty outside with the Maryland humidity at times. It has not bloomed for a while, but there was one bloom that came out in December. I thought it was my mom telling us she was with us for Christmas. It has not bloomed since, but I know it will again.
    Have a wonderful day and I can’t wait for you to complete your book.

    Ann Beirne

  81. kare says:

    Love Billy Idol “Punk Rocker” Cardinal; Look at ThAt Attitude!!
    “Rock the feeder of LOhuv! OW !”
    Portch-kitty Dusty Buster has graduated to indoor/outdoor house furry with the older 2 kitties. He’s a talker…”Brrr-Rwr?”… steals Abby dogs big chewy bone and beats the dickens out of it..This worries her so she trys to give him a wide berth:] He still loves her & swats her when she steps on him…which isn’t hard since he’s always underfoot. i feel like i have a velcro-kitty stuck to my leg when i walk down the hall:p
    It’s supposed to be in the low 70’s today… but the back birdbath froze over this A.M…Life in the desert is interesting.
    i think tree-kittys whamy eyes were trying to convince you she’s just another REALLY Fluffy Squirrel!! Yah!
    Fantastic close ups there! Good job Joe! Thanks for showing us your window views.
    And the video..hearing you share a moment is so sweet.
    You are always such a Bright spot in our lives!

  82. Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

    Hi Susan~~~ I loved all the birds at the feeders. I’ve always thought it would be great if we had cardnals around, but they aren’t on the west coast so far as I know. I had a cat just like the one that visited you. His name was Smokey. I got him when I was 4 years old. He was 6 weeks old. He was my best friend of many years. When I was in 8th grade, my mom had him put down, as he was very sick and didn’t want anybody to be around him. Very sad. We are in the beginning of our 3rd week of cold and frosty mornings. All this sun makes you think that spring is just around the corner,but then I see all the snow at your house and know it’s still winter.

    Have a great rest of the day.
    <3 Carol M

  83. pat addison (cave junction,OR ) says:

    good morning susan from the frozen pacific northwest and hello girlfriends. love all the creatures that come to visit, been out feeding the turkeys, including our wild one, thawing out the water tubs with hot water and breaking up the ice, and doing the same for the ducky pool….brrr it is cold out there. been feeding all the lil birds that come to visit and the squirrels, they love their squirrel mix everyday, put the clover out for the deer and got the firewood up to the porch. i would love a 70 degree day, seems so long since we were warm here. i love you new lil visitor, she is adorable. did you ever find out who she belongs to, if not well…..maybe you have been adopted. she is so precious and such a sweet face, looks like our miss kitty, such a merry lil face and sparkling eyes. she is a cutie. well i have a lil bird in the house, he hit our window and i have him in a box by the woodstove to warm him up and revive him, he is a pretty lil fellow, a robin i think. the cats want to see, but they are not allowed in here when i have a lil birdy in here with me. he’ll be all right, just stunned a bit. stay warm and i hope the storm is not too bad heading for you. we have one coming in ourselves with another chance of snow….this is one cold winter. stay warm everyone. have a great day. hugs…. 🙂

    • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

      Pat, I agree with you about the cold winter. We finally got some very high clouds over night and the temps are to be 58 here in Eureka. Um…. we were going on 3 weeks of frosty mornings. We only have a couple days of frost usually. I would love to have temps in the 70s, but, alass, we only get up to low-mid 60s at the highest. That’s what the coast will do to ya. I’m glad you little birdy is ok.


  84. Jackie Bienemann says:

    Hi Susan,

    I love Valentine’s Day also because I love hearts and the color pink. Your window reminds me of my kitchen window here in Illinois. We look out and see squirrels in our feeders, deer, wild turkeys and of course birds. Love your cardinal pictures and of course Jack. He is great! Thank you for sharing and brightening up a cold winter day. I think it’s 7 degrees out there! Stay warm!

    Jackie B

  85. Karen Saunders says:

    My Mom took a cake decorating class and I’ll never forget the cake she made for Valentines Day for my daughters pre-school. She had a heart cake pan, made two cakes and cut out the interior of one, iced them and placed real candy with paper wrappers so it looked just like a REAL box of candy with the lid off beside it. I was totally amazed it looked so real, ruffles and all.

  86. Gail Buss says:

    Dear Susan, What fabulous pics of the cardinals………… beautiful. I will have to share this with my Joe as he loves cardinals. And I do love to see the beautiful snow all over your property and the grilled cheese looks so yummy to go with it………actually the perfect winter lunch (although its yummy in summer too). I was so happy to see the little brown plate over the sink by the kitchen window about the “cottage of content”. I know the redish one is about “Two Fond Hearts” and I think I mixed up the sayings once when I wrote in your blog. I have both of mine together – one above and the other below to the right a bit but they look great anywhere I put them! Wonder if there are others out there with different little sayings, but I have never seen any. I’ve had a couple of hibiscus that didn’t make it but now we have one planted in front of the house growing up along the wall and on the few occasions that the weather dips down low, we cover it and so far so good. It’s 2 1/2 years old and going strong. Yes, Downton Abbey is the best, and I wonder why they only have 7 episodes and then we have to wait so long for the next season! I cried tears of joy when Anna and Mr. Bates got their letters! Well, I best be getting my Valentines ready for my children and grandchildren. I too cook a “red” dinner and always make heart shaped cookies with icing and sprinkles to celebrate the day. Have a wonderful rest of your day working on your book, and I can’t wait either for the Pancake book. Two books to look forward to. Luv & Hugs, Gail Buss – Bev. Hills, Fl XOXO

  87. Julie Cavrich says:

    I must add, like some of the other girlfriends, that your Maine Coon visitor looks like my Hunter. Maine Coons are the sweetest of kitties. (IMO) Love Joe’s pics. Another great post! Kisses to the Kitties!

  88. Paula from AZ says:

    From exquisite kitties to a window panorama of beautiful wildlife. You have it all, girl! I did not hear the black-capped chickadee song, but I can hear it inside my mind from fond memories of watching them when I lived back East. And those cardinals…wonderful! Thank you for giving us a taste of a beautiful winter’s day…just not able to see those things in the desert. Susan, you share your fantasy life so beautifully…every new post is a little taste of the good life. Thank you, thank you.

  89. Sherry Palla says:

    Is it afternoon already? Well then, you have snow! Yipee! And you have a photographer’s paradise and your “little zoo!” How fun! I’ve been uploading my photos [just a little hobby of mine] onto the Capture MN. website. We get to vote for other’s photos and see lots of MN. that we usually don’t get to see! Joe’s photos would be perfect for their new [2nd] edition coming soon. I really got a chuckle out of Jack today…lookin’ out your window! Thanks for sharing Susan! XO

    • Dawn from Minnesota says:

      Oh Sherry “Good Good Luck!” Capture Minnesota/Twin City Public Television……the photos are always so spectacular…. I must look for your name and Vote for You!

  90. Anne says:

    I love cardinals! Their color just knocks me out and when I see one or two in the snow – it’s just to die for! It just snowed a couple of inches here so I’ll be looking for them.
    Having grilled cheese right now…..yummm! Stay warm 🙂

  91. Carol C says:

    Hi! Loved the post and it put me in the mood to get out the Valentines decorations. I have some old Tasha Tudor valentines and her Valentine Day “advent” calendar. Now I’m headed in to the kitchen to make heart shaped gingerbread cookies iced in red and white for the glass cookie jar. (Next christmas they’ll be hanging on the tree!) I used to have a Valentine tea for all the girlfriends, many of whom have never met. This year you’ve inspired me to do it again—and make eclairs! Now I have a question. Is there a way to find info on old posts? Last night I scrolled back over a year looking for your method of hanging the pictures in the bathroom and the chocolate sauce recipes. Never found either one. I have learned a lesson about downloading what I need to keep!

  92. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    and she blew….and she blew….and she blew…..until finally she got the snow just where it was supposed to be!!!! I am so happy for all your snowiness!!! And, if we are lucky enough….we may just get a Fine Romance part II ?! 🙂 I am so in love with the little peeks at your book!!! Your paintings are DARLING…but, I am a little confused when it comes to the writing part! 😉 ….I know, I know, good things come to those who wait!! Gonna be fun when I can read ALL the words! It is truly gonna be very special!!! Looks like I’m not the only one who has a crush on Jack….darn!….she is precious!….and all tucked away in HIGHLIGHT fashion (hi RaeAnn 🙂 ) I made your gingersnap, coconut, chocolate chip, walnut cookies this morning (no school today, YAY!) and everyone here gives them a thumbs UP! Susan…. you make Eclairs!!! Bret, was known for his Cream Puffs! And ALL the old girlfriends tell me about Bret and his Cream Puffs, Bret and his Cream Puffs! He never made ME any Cream Puffs!!! Love teasing him about that one!!! But, he made my parents some wonderful Cinnamon Rolls!!! He is the master these days of Creme Brulee though 🙂 ! And….he is a sneak!….when I have been away at meetings…he watches Downton Abbey!!!! I guess he likes it….or he is just impatient….but, he does re-watch them with me! I’m off to make Bret some Dutch Split Pea Soup and think of Western Decorations for the last dance invite….any ideas? I’ve kinda got the Mr. Ed thing going on in my head….love love love a dutch door! Thanks Susan for such cuteness and I feel lucky to have seen your sneek peeks….and today I’ve been humming happily to Honey Pie by the Beatles… should know this one….cuz you are a HONEY PIE!!! ( well not the crazy part, or the lazy part, just the HONEY PIE part!!! xoxox

    • sbranch says:

      You sound so happy! As usual Dawn 🙂 Have a wonderful day!!

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Hi Dawn, are you staying warm? 🙂

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          Hi Honey!!! As long as I’m on the inside 🙂 but early tomorrow morning…..I may turn into a crabby-pants!!!
          You are the sweetest!!! I am mailing you a “thankyou!”
          for the special delivery package…could not have come at a better time!!! Michelle said she sent you a quick “thank you!” for me…..seriously, her wisdom teeth looked like little lumps of crabmeat….”Ewww!” ….I know! But, never knew they looked like that….looks like a lot of work to grow them….too bad they have to come out!!! Thinking of you and hope you and Norm have a cozy night!!! Well, Bret will be home soon and I will have to give him his slippers back…darn! 😉 Talk Soon and xox!!!

        • Hi Dawn, now I agree with Susan about you always sounding happy….and ALL the girlfriends may have had Bret’s cream puffs; BUT, YOU GOT BRET!!!! There it is Susan that is why she always sounds so happy!!! Mystery solved. Hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying this bitter cold Winter because we all promised not to complain after the drought and 100 degree Summer 2012….didn’t WE Pat?? Take care girls and stay well.

          • sbranch says:

            We have 11 degrees right now! Coldest it’s been all winter!

          • Dawn from Minnesota says:

            LOL….but, it is a dry COLD….not humid at all!!!
            and YES I am Lucky to have Bret! Maybe really really lucky…for we just took a personality quiz to see what Downton Abbey character we would be….and should have known….Bret lives Upstairs (Matthew) and ME? Downstairs (Anna). He definitely puts up with me! Smartest funniest man I know….but, if I could just find that ornery hair! Just kidding! Hope the days are good! And Susan….that pinpoint of light!!! Must be so rewarding for you!!! So truly HApPy for YoU! And…..from a wish-I-could-put-my-art-in-a-book gal…..Proud too!!!

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        Awww….How can you not be happy when you are humming Honey Pie! And it’s a free day at home….staring out the kitchen window… kittens though….or birdies….or even a turkey! But the sky is full of Beautiful Sunshine…and from my side of the window…..very warm too! I am wondering how to feel hungry for dinner tonight….uh, I kinda ate a lot of cookies today! Maybe a quick mop will do it! Enjoy Your Snowflakes and I am excited to hear where your next page is going to take you!!! Ya wanna see a real Honey Pie happy lambie face? Look what my daughter just showed me……. from We Love Sheep…..xox

  93. Sharon Fritz says:

    Great pictures of all the wildlife, we also have turkey’s in our backyard and I just love watching them they are so funny. The kitty outside in the tree is beautiful, I would take her in a heartbeat. I bet Jack wasn’t too happy with her in his yard.

  94. Frances Fowler says:

    You are the first I’ve known to rank Valentine’s Day as your favorite. Until recently, I couldn’t stand it, and I’ll tell you why. I LOVE winter, love cold and snow, and mid February, in north Georgia, marks that definite transition to spring, beautiful that it is. Secondly, I despise going any any store (outside of a farmer’s market or Whole Foods) and being bombarded by deep purple, loud pink, bordello red, and bad chocolate, despite my love of all these colors in slightly better shades and certainly not all crammed together. UNTIL…a few years ago when I discovered how much I loved, adored, vintage Valentines! And thought about how much I truly love red and white! So I was able to fashion Valentine’s Day into something I now very much can look forward to and enjoy. Even when I didn’t personally care for it, I have always loved to make special meals with small, sweet gifts for my 23 year-old daughter, using the white, ruffly pillow cover from her baby bed as a placemat if it’s breakfast. Your decorations for Valentine’s Day have only brightened my change of opinion 🙂

    I chuckled that I was thinking “London punk rocker” when looking at the fantastic shot of my very favorite bird, the male cardinal, and then saw your reference. And that is a camouflage kitty if I have ever seen one! The birds must give Jack endless hours of wide-eyed interest (and plotting). And a page dedicated to tea, I cannot wait to see! A day without at least two cups of fragrant tea is hardly a day at all! Enjoy your beautiful view and thanks so much for sharing.

  95. Debbie S., IL says:

    Susan, I enjoyed your post today – my husband and I really enjoy watching the birds in our backyard, as well as the antics of the squirrels. A couple of weeks ago, we had a squirrel climb in headfirst into a feeder and couldn’t get out! My husband ended up breaking the feeder to set him free! (Didn’t want the poor thing to die in there!) We seem to attract different birds all the time, they help us mark the seasons. I’m sure the new kitty in your yard found you because you have a “cat friendly” home! We’re shivering here in IL right now, hope you’re staying warm on the island!

  96. Jeanne Farmer says:

    I have the same Johnson Brother’s dishes…. got them from my grandmother who is gone but not forgotten, i finished off the set by getting 12 of everything… just love them

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful that they belonged to your grandmother! Such a happy color of pink!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        We could NOT keep Johnson Brothers in stock back when I worked part-time in china-crystal-bridal registry. Usually got sets of 4 complete place settings & sometimes sets for 8 with accessory pieces [sugar, creamer, etc]. Came onto the floor one day… always gone again within the next two! So pretty too. :>)

  97. Lisa S. says:

    I am so envious of your snow! We have had a smattering of snow and ice here in south central Missouri, but nothing substantial. We woke to an ice-covered deck last Sunday morning, and I drank my coffee watching the birds slip and slide their way to the feeder. I have been a birdwatcher for years, always having a backyard feeder no matter what state we lived in. My oldest daughter (23) loves anything bird related – jewelry, clothing, upholstery – and commented this weekend, “I don’t know why I love birds”. I think I know why, in part! Enjoy your winter weather, Susan.

  98. Karen Saunders says:

    I haven’t asked the Girlfriends for anything like this but I know they all seem to be kind and generous of heart and I also hope you don’t mind Susan if I use them to pray for my niece who was just diagnosed with breast cancer that has gone into her lymph nodes. She has two darling little girls and dang it, cancer has taken enough lives without taking a Mother from her little girls. Her name is Jenny and she is so kind and has this funny quirky sense of humor. She has a tough time ahead of her. thanks

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll do my part Karen! So sorry to hear this sad news, but they are doing AMAZING things today …. have faith. xoxo

      • Linda Trokey says:


        I’m so glad you shared the sad news about your niece, Jenny, because I went through two bouts of breast cancer and am now ten years cancer-free. I know many people dealing with cancer and the improvements in treatment are amazing. I can’t imagine going through it with two young children as my “baby” was 17 during my last treatment and is now 25. Jenny sounds like she has wonderful spirit and a sense of humor is a must to get through this. I will pray for her and for all of her family also.

        Linda T
        Lee’s Summit, MO

        • Cathy McC. says:

          Karen, there will be soooo many FOSB praying for your niece. Your positive outlook will be a great model for her and her children. I am a 16 year survivor and thank God every day for all the angels that came to my side and supported me, especially my Lucy. We will all be angels for your Jenny. God Bless . . .
          Cathy McC. , aka Ethel, South Bend, IN

        • Joan Lesmeister says:

          Sending prayers for Jenny, & her family! xoxo

          • Dawn from Minnesota says:

            I pray that Jenny and her family feel the comfort of an ordinary day in the most un-ordinary of times…..may they live with faith…unshakeable faith! xox

    • Martha Ellen of VA says:

      Karen I will be praying for Jenny and her family. ♥

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        I’m praying too. ~My mom had breast cancer twice.

      • pat addison ( cave junction,OR. ) says:

        sending prayers and good thoughts for Jenny and her family. hugs…… 🙂

      • Karen Saunders says:

        thank you dear friends for your kind responses and prayers…you have no idea how much better it makes me feel to know that i have the ‘power’ of the girlfriends behind me!!

      • Deborah Norling says:

        Karen, Please count me in as well for healing prayers for Jenny and all of you going through this with her !

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Karen: please give Jenny and her girls a big warm GF hug from me [and us all I’m sure]. Will be thinking & praying for her during her tough time. xoxo :>)

      • Rhonda D. says:

        Karen, I will add your Jenny to my pray list. Keep the faith, unshakable faith, and we’ll pray for the strength to carry on. God bless. “The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.” Psalm 41:3 xoxo

      • Karen, sending Blessings and Angels to surround Jenny and her family and for the Lord to grant her his Mercy and Grace and heal her body and spirit. Blessings

    • Wendy Louise says:

      There are lots of prayers here! A sense of humor and doing what the doctors say is a must. The people that work with you through cancer are angels and they will get her through this! Keeping positive and those that are positive around you . My husband and I are both coming out of treatment and doing terrific ! Hugs to Jenny she can do it! 🙂

    • Chris Wells from West TX says:

      I will add Jenny to my prayer list. Philippians 4:13-14.

      • Karen Saunders says:

        An update on Jenny, she had a scan because it was in one of her glands and it hasn’t spread… a big THANK YOU Girlfriends for all your prayers!!!! So greatful for you all. Will be an uphill struggle with surgery and chemo but ‘do-able’ compared to having it all through your body. Thank you all for your support….I’m like an elephant, I never forget a kindness. 🙂

  99. ElFe says:

    Thank you, Susan, for the kitty pictures. I am one of the unfortunate “allergic” ones. But I love cats anyway and periodically I kiss my outdoor cat on the nose and run in the house to shower. I can’t help myself! However, most of the time I have to love cats from a distance; so thank you for allowing me so many wonderful “kitty moments!” You MAKE MY DAY!
    P.S. Can’t wait! for the new book!!!

  100. Linda Trokey says:


    This one’s for you! Every time I see the pictures of the progress on “our” book, I get so excited that I jump up from the computer because I can’t sit still. I turn sixty in two years and my gift to myself will be a trip to merry olde England with a dear friend of mine. Your book will be my guide as when I think of visiting England, it’s not just the bookstores and tea shops in London but those little paths and lanes that lead to something new. I must go to the Cotswolds and stay near the sea in Cornwall and oh, so much more. Thank you SO much for sharing your trip with us, not only on your blog but now in a “I-can-only-imagine-how-beautiful-it-will-be” book. I drank tea out of one of your Lenox “A Proper Tea” cups yesterday and pored through my stack of books on England while dreaming of my trip, which several years ago seemed eons away but now is nearing quickly.

    Please tell Joe his bird photographs are wonderful – the colors against the white of the snow are startlingly beautiful. It is still quite dry here in the Midwest and the little snow we had melted quickly so I loved seeing the contrast of color and snow. Your kitties bring me so much joy as our pets have all gone to pet heaven and it’s sometimes too quiet here now.

    Happy Winter!

    Blessings to all of you,

    Linda T

Comments are closed.