Rabbit – Rabbit!

Happy April 1 Girlfriends, never has Rabbit-Rabbit been so appropriate!  And now, pour vous, para ti, and for you, the romantic  MUSICA of the season. 

Remember when my Twitter girlfriend Janie made this spring banner for me last year? It came in a teeny little envelope, was so adorable, I just loved it.

Well, I remembered it, so this year, back in February, I asked Janie if she could make a few more for YOU — which she did, completely by hand.  Kellee just put them in the web store, for however long they last — you can keep it and use it year after year  So Happy Spring forever and XOXO With love from me and Janie. It’s the little things in life!

Speaking of which, lots of you are going to have leftovers to deal with after yesterday so here’s one of my favorite recipes.

The trick is to peel the eggs under running water, then go easy on the mayonnaise, keep it real yolky and thick to stuff the eggs.  Use this same recipe to make egg salad — I break up the eggs, including the whites, with a potato masher — which works like a dream.  A little more mayo is OK in egg salad.  Cut the crusts off the softest white bread you can find, fill with egg mixture, make finger-shaped sandwiches, and serve them to yourself and your honey(‘s) for tea. ♥ 

Here is our first daffodil!!!!!  It just bloomed!  It’s still cold on the island, but yesterday it was over 50° — and to us, that’s like a miracle.

It’s April Love, up close and personal with scilla siberica — we really focus on the tiny things around here at this time of year, like teeny weeny flowers, and . . .

 dear little birds that are singing their heart out even right now in the cold, outside my window as I speak . . .  but the real truth is . . .

that’s all we have. The plain unvarnished truth is that it’s still brown and will be for a while. There’s no color.  The recycling bins are the colorful things.  Spring unfolds slowly here, like a flower, petal by petal . . . we have to get up close to the tiny specks of first light, down on our tummies to commune with nature.  Otherwise it’s kind of invisible . . .

. . . the vista is brown . . . like out on our walk yesterday.  Colorful things washed up in the winter storms, but even out here, you can feel that it’s spring.  No hat, no gloves, clean air that made me yawn and yawn it was so fresh.

Brown, through the woods too . . . but we can smell the green things growing, and up close, we see fat buds on those dead-looking trees — and we glory in the thought . . .

The trash blown off trucks, or thrown from the cars of the mean people, is easy to see, easy to grab hold of . . .

and put in our little

trash bags, so now, when we leave, this spot will be nice clean brown again.

We love to nurk around the old fisherman’s cottages, no one’s home, we sort of own the place.  We make sure nothing’s broken or awry . . . we are guardians of the road.  Of course no one knows this but us.

The only color is old and peeling, but it has history . . . and looks real.

Not like California — this is March at our place on the beautiful Central Coast . . . this is what they call “winter.” hahahahaha.  You do see what nice people Californians are — here on our blog . . . how they never gloat, how they know what we go through and never mention

that the roses bloom year-round there . . .

And they can watch the sun drop into the Pacific outside while eating dinner, almost all winter long.  Dear, dear, Californians — and maybe you Floridians and Texans too . . . with such good hearts.  Thank you girls, but we know why you are happy all the time. 

But soon, here it will look like this.  Delicate, pink, fresher than fresh.  And it will be so worth waiting for. And in fact, it’s the waiting for it that I’ve learned to love and missed madly when I lived in California. Like the joke that my dad told me when I was around ten and I never forgot: “Why did the moron keep hitting himself in the head with a hammer?  Because it felt so good when he stopped.”  I love that joke, it’s appropriate in so many situations!  It’s really just as well it’s all still brown and cold here.  We walk, we stretch, we breath in good fresh spring healthy island air as we exercise, play morning science, listen to the birds, and it’s a true joy . . . . but I still have work to do.  I can’t stay out all day!!

I have a preview for you!

From the 2014 Calendar — I finished all the calendars, they’ve been sent to the printers!  CHECK!  Write Calendars.   I love crossing things off my list!!!  I thought twice before I put this up because I know some of you like to keep your calendars as a surprise and not look ahead at the months, but remember, it will be a year and a half  before you turn this page over . . . you will have forgotten, and when you see it, it will feel like an old friend!  If you look closely at that page, you’ll see the quote there by “Carilyn Wolski’s Mother” —  Carilyn is one of our girlfriends — she mentioned her mother said that in a comment one time — I loved it so much I wrote it down. I’ve been waiting for Carilyn to show up again so I could tell her — this seems like a good way to do it! ♥  Thank you Carilyn!

And now, back to “work.”

Remember when our book looked like this?

Well, baby, look at her now!  A Fine Romance, it’s turned out to be 260 pages!

I finished the Index on Saturday — more than four pages of Index! I never thought any index of mine would have Henry VIII in it!  That’s just funny!  I only have three more pages to go!  Three pages, plus the spine (have to paint that), and the end papers.  Plus corrections after I see the final layouts, and then it will go to the publisher — and I’m going outside ALL THE TIME!  Maybe it will be warm by then!  I feel like Rip Van Winkle.  Waking up after being in another world for all these months.  Everything is more beautiful!

This is how I know I’m an artist.  Not having picked up a paint-brush until I was thirty, only writing diaries like a normal person, calling myself “artist” did not come easy . . . I always felt a little bit unworthy — after my first book came out — the first time I had to put “profession” on my tax form — that was very strange.  It was like trying on a ball dress when you are not the ball-dress type and you know you LOVE it, but you still feel funny.  But then you realize that it’s the heart in a drawing, even in a child’s drawing that makes it art, and then you’re OK, you can say, I’m an artist! ♥  Yippee!  

And that goes for you too, because there is no doubt in my mind that everything you do, you do with heart.  Just reading your comments tells me that over and over again.  Have I said thank you lately?  Well, thank you. 

My next challenge.  You see how that book changed size over the months?  It wasn’t the only thing.  What winter hath wrought must go.  Wob you girlfriends, Rabbit-Rabbit, Happy April, Happy Spring♥ ♥ ♥

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620 Responses to Rabbit – Rabbit!

  1. Pat says:

    Happy April to you, Spring is in the air! Getting very excited about the new book. Thanks for the beautiful post.

  2. Vicki M from Locust Grove, VA says:

    Happy Spring and Happy April, Susan! I cannot wait for the book to be finished. I’ve already pre-ordered two copies! But, I have to say, I miss new blog entries when you don’t have time to write them. Thank you for writing one today! 🙂

  3. Janet OC says:

    Hi Susan,
    Even though it’s early spring here, the sea coast pictures look lovely. Thank you too for sharing your first daffodil :). Ours have green shoots popping up in the dry leaves. Watching early spring is so exciting. It’s like watching the opening scenes of a play that will be spectacular. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. The best is yet to come.
    Have a beautiful week.
    Janet xoxo

  4. Joan Ramseyer says:

    What a wonderful post to greet me this morning. There was a hint of spring here in West Michigan this past weekend and then it snowed overnight. Kind of like an April Fool joke. But like everything, spring will come in its own good time. I’m sure you will rejoice in finishing your book completely, but then maybe be a little sad that the process is over. We will all be waiting for the joyous result. Happy April to you.

  5. Millie Ray says:

    I so enjoyed your blog this morning. We are all anxious for Spring. We have had snow in the past week, and also 68 degree temps, but that’s March, isn’t it? We marvel at the Cherry trees, Japonica, and Forsythia’s and love the Hydrangia’s and Daffidols. I have a new rose bush that never lost it’s leaves or dropped any during the entire Winter, it’s the Zephirine Drouhin bush you told us about on your England trip. I’m so excited to see it flurish this summer. Thank you for your encouraging thoughts, and Happy April to you and Joe.

  6. Carol (Daisy) says:

    After I read your blog this morning, I had to take a look at my copy of “Christmas from the Heart of the Home” which I received as a Christmas gift from my niece, which, could it be 20 years ago already?! Among other recipes, I have the Star Croutons marked with a post it. I’ve made them many times for special occasions. I also remembered a mini-book which I purchased to give as a gift but just could never part with it. It’s packed away with the Christmas stash but I think it is “Tied with Heartstrings”. I reread it every Christmas. That too, I’ve had for a good number of years. Also, I had to laugh when I read the comment about some of the girlfriends want to keep the new month calendar page a surprise. I actually thought I was the only person who ever did this so I never ever told anyone about this ‘til now!! Happy Spring. . . it’s still not here yet in Wisconsin, but it’s sure fun to anticipate it’s arrival!

  7. Karen P. - Wisconsin says:

    Dear Susan! Sweet tribute to Janie’s generosity and talent! That banner is such a breath of sweet Janie “Springness!” Love that you thought to put them in your store to share with everyone!

    You truly ARE an artist! I love spending time soaking In all your darling details in all you do! That index preview has me so excited!! Enjoy the fresh Spring air! xoxo…

  8. christine says:

    How lovely to start the day infused with your joy! It’s like that breath of fresh spring air we have been longing for here in Pittsburgh, PA!
    I have to tell you that I watched (for the ?th time) “Miss Potter” last evening at the close of Easter Sunday; it seemed the appropriate thing to watch, since Peter Rabbit is one of the stars. I thought of you, and how next Easter when I watch this movie, I can also read about Hill Top farm in your book:). Someday, I’d love to stand there and take it all in, too.
    Thank you for sharing your bright light and lifting us up!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s the way it started with me … first you get the idea, and one day, you find yourself in that exact spot you dreamed of!

  9. Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

    Good morning, Sue!
    It’s good to hear from you but I know how busy you must have been…you go, girl!…you’re almost there!
    It’s a very dark, gray, windy morning here…and oddly, enough…that makes me happy! ….because I have this week off and I HAVE to work on our taxes and accomplish some household chores. How could I possibly concentrate on numbers if the sun was shining and calling me outside to play?!
    I haven’t any daffodills yet….but the buds are there and the pussywillows are just beginning to pop…so very much to look forward to!
    Happy Monday morning!
    xo Debbie

  10. Sara D NW Georgia says:

    It is a most beautiful April 1st, isn’t it! Enjoy!!!!!!

  11. Pamela Jewett says:

    Hi Susan,

    It is so good to hear from you. We know you are working diligently, but we miss you!
    Happy Spring! Happy April Fool’s Day! I have been watching our birds out the window also. You can tell it really is spring by all of the new birds showing up.
    The Island actually has a beauty in its “emptyness”. I love it when you post your favorite walk through the woods. I can almost smell the new greens coming up.
    Looking forward to your book.
    xoxo Pam

  12. Andi M says:

    The first flowers of spring are, in my opinion, probably some of the hardiest ones all year. I haven’t seen my daffodils yet, but my tulip leave tips have weathered 3 different snow storms. You have to love a flower like that. Your artist comments are right on the mark. We forget that we all have an artist inside trying to get out. I’ll never forget my nana’s reaction when, at just 80 years old, I asked her to draw a picture for me and my daughter. I know that she had not drawn anything in a very long time. She looked surprised but yet I could tell she liked doing it. Using crayons she drew a picture of a little girl. I have it in a tiny frame on my desk. I should have asked her more often. Happy April 1st to you!

  13. Marie (Long Beach, CA) says:

    It is soooooo good to hear from you Susan! Glad you’re getting out and enjoying your walks in the great outdoors. Congratulations on the completion of your 2014 calendars… yippee!!! I understand the happiness of checking things off a list, so satisfying. Y(our) book is so close to being done, I can’t wait to get my hands on it and begin the journey back to England! 🙂 Thank you for this beautiful post Susan. It’s such a nice way to start the month of April! Say “hi” to Joe, Jack, and Girl Kitty! ♥

  14. Lisa V. from Flower Mound, TX says:

    Happy April! So nice to hear from you! I loved the banner so much when I saw it last year that I made my own version. I realized that Easter had the same number of letters as Spring so on the other side of the white circle I glued paper Easter eggs and spelled out Easter. Easy to reverse for Easter and change back for Spring. I love that I get inspired with ideas everytime I visit your blog. Thank you! It’s true that here in Texas we’ve had Spring for awhile but we pay for it in summer with 100 degree temps! Keep that in mind! Have a wonderful day!

    • sbranch says:

      Good idea Lisa — I’m wondering is there really a flower mound where you are? I know Lady Bird Johnson made it her mission to throw wildflower seed all over Texas . . .

      • Lisa V. from Flower Mound, TX says:

        Yes, there really is a mound. We call it a The Flower Mound. This area is prairie and the mound rises about 50 feet above surrounding land. Legend has it that the town was named because of the abundance of wildflowers that grew on it. Now we have a foundation that takes care of it. There are suppose to be 175 types of wildflowers growing on it. Every spring it is covered wildflowers including Bluebonnets. It is a lovely sight!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        I love this too! Have meant to comment in the past but then just get so darn distracted with all the Multitude of Goodies here, dontcha know? Anyway – what a great place to be able to say you’re from! Bet there’s a good story to go along with it… :>)

      • Susan says:

        The bluebonnets are emerging and are gorgeous! Soon, the Indian paintbrush will rise. The carpet of orange against the blue – breathtaking!:-). Thank you, Lady Bird.

        • sbranch says:

          I feel the same way and I’ve only seen it in pictures, thank you Lady Bird!

        • Lisa V. from Flower Mound, TX says:

          I think we’ve chatted before about being from Flower Mound? I’m glad they have marked off the actual Mound and not allowed it to be developed. It’s bad enough to see pastures and trees removed. Though you can still find pastures full of cows across the street from shopping centers 🙂

      • Holly says:

        Yes, it’s a real place! About 15 years ago I lived in Flower Mound Texas, on Summerfield Drive! The wild flowers used to be beautiful before the land was developed.

  15. Julie Marie says:

    Happy April Susan!… and Joe and Jack and Girl Kitty too of course!… what a beautiful, enchanted month it is!… Loved seeing your first Daffodil… we are a bit ahead of you here in Utah… things are slowly greening up and starting to bloom… my wild sweet violets are covering almost my entire cottage garden and their Heavenly fragrance is intoxicating!… loved going on your morning walk with you… and I also LOVE that you are guardians of the little fishing shacks… and I too call them “mean people” who litter our beautiful countryside!… shame on them!… Jack and I also “clean up” after these meanies on our own daily walk… the little Spring banner is adorable, I hope there is one left in your shop for me… so happy the book is almost done!… just wish it was coming to me sooner!… I am so excited for it!… hope you had a Happy Easter… it’s egg salad sandwiches here today… much love to you, and I know your birthday is coming up soon!… Happy April and Happy Spring!… xoxo… Julie Marie

    • sbranch says:

      Same to you Julie! Your violets sound heavenly!

      • pat addison ( cave junction, OR ) says:

        hello Julie Marie, aren’t the violets just the sweetest flowers??? o love when my shy lil violets come up, I love the fragrance, wish they made a cologne with that fragrance, so sweet and shy. we have those “mean people” here in Oregon as well. I am always picking up the lil surprises those folks leave behind, and believe me I have had some doozies like a box of Trojans in front of my house…. ICK!!! or empty beer bottles, Styrofoam cups or empty food containers. I got even with some tourists once, and it made my day. they had stopped in front of my house, I wasn’t too sure if they were lost or what so I ventured to ask if they were lost or okay. to mu surprise those “mean people” were dumping their trash right in front of my home, and I caught them in the act. I picked up the trash bag and handed it back to them and told them to go dump that in the dumpster at the gas station and that I had better not see them doing that in front of my home again. such rude people!!! ,

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          That is TERRIBLE!! I thought OR was one of the Earth friendly states. Pigs live everywhere I guess. I grew up on the Main St. (which was also a state hwy.) of a small town in WI, since we lived on the edge of town our orchard got all the garbage from the folks leaving town. My parents had us picking up trash at least once a year. Like our own Earth Day!

          • pat addison ( cave junction,OR) says:

            hello Margot, well most folks in Oregon are earth friendly, these were tourists from California I am sad to say and especially in the summer we get tons of trash thrown from cars coming back from the caves, so its mostly tourists. and the road we live on is a state highway, so we get all the trashy tourists coming through. like you we get out and clean it up as best we can, but what can you do when people insist on being pigs???

          • sbranch says:

            I like tourists. 🙂 Poor babies.

    • Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

      Julie –
      So interested in your comment about your wild sweet violets – my darling daughter sent me 6 sweet violet plants for my birthday last week! Have been keeping them misted until the weather is milder here to plant them. They will need to be protected as I’m certain that the peacocks will want to munch them much like they did all the hostas we planted last year!! Even in their bed of wood shaving that they were sent in they are blooming! 😉

    • Hi Julie Marie

      My Aunt married a Cornish farmer who grew daffodils and violets by the fields full . . she would have to bunch the tiny, delicate violets into posies before crating and being shipped by steam train up to Covent Garden (when it was still a vegetable and flower market) They are one of our family’s favourite flowers and, if the winter hasn’t wrecked havoc, soon there should be several clumps popping up in my cottage garden. xoxo

  16. Cathy McC. says:

    So good to hear from you again, Susan! Each time you write, it seems there is a favorite line that strikes a chord in my heart. Well, this time, two jump out at me. The first: “Spring unfolds slowly here, like a flower, petal by petal…” We had our first crocus bloom on Saturday here in northern Indiana, and we’ve walked around the yard seeing the daffodils with fat buds, the iris and day lilies pushing their way up, and even the rhubarb making a bright red appearance, be it only an inch or two. It’s almost like playing hide and go seek everyday.
    But the line that I’ll write to my kids about today is: “But then you realize that it’s the heart in a drawing, even in a child’s drawing that makes it art, and then you’re OK, you can say, I’m an artist! ♥” Well, isn’t it great that we can put any number of words in the place of “drawing” and “artist”? That means we never have to say that we’re not GOOD at ANYTHING, like so many people say about themselves. Singing to my grandbabies is a passion of mine, handed down to me from my mom, and I’ll sure never be an American Idol or even a karaoke queen, but oh, does it come from the heart! I’m a singer!!!!! Yes, I’m a singer ! And a few other things, too! Thank you, thank you! Happy Spring, and congrats on all your work efforts. Hugs, Ethel

  17. I found myself saying, “White rabbit, white rabbit” while turning the page on my (your) calendar earlier this morning. Happy April to you! It was a pity to pick up a paper cup of cigarette butts from my front lawn (who would do such a thing?); I can appreciate your actions to keep a pretty spot clean.

    I’ll be picking up a paint brush for the first time in May, when beginning a 4-class introduction to watercolours. It’s only 25 years after your start. 🙂

    Have a fabulous week, Susan.


  18. Cracking up here (no bad, egg pun intended) that at the very beginning I was thinking, only place the left overs went is to my hips . . and I arrive at the end of your lovely blog today with that cute little saying! Anyway, welcome back to ‘normality’ (whatever that is) and the world outside A Fine Romance. Hate to have to wait until the early autumn, but did you notice how fast this year is flying by already? Time to turn the calendars again 😀

    Thank you for the image of the Scilla, I have something magically appearing in my garden (which is the best kind of garden gift) this Spring and I had no idea what has arrived, but it might well be a Scilla . . that is, of course, if they come in pink, which is what mine is! My tête-à-têtes appeared the middle of February and they are still there, perfectly frozen in time! Poor daffies! Isn’t this bizarre, the effect the oddly cold weather is having on our gardens. All the mythology of Candlemass has gone flying out the window this year! To think, this time last year we had already had an unseasonal mini heatwave.


    • sbranch says:

      Us too. But for you, I would say, since I was there in May last year, I would hope you get a different weather pattern this year! 🙂 So you’re off to a good start!

        • Oooops, forgot to say I do so love that quote on April’s month . . “The Earth laughs in flowers” . . and I think she smiles so brightly too!

          Another favourite of mine is the poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney, “God’s Garden” which has the line “One is nearer God’s heart in garden than anywhere else on Earth”

          • sbranch says:

            I’ve always said that gardens have a lot in common with churches!

          • Nancy says:

            I agree!!

          • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

            must be why this one lady’s garden down the road looks like a cathedral, all the flowers she has by summer, and if a church around here needs the flowers for their altars, she will gladly clip them and deliver them to that church. she has been doing that for over 20 years now, and loves every minute of it and every inch of her flower garden..which is her whole yard front and back!!!

          • sbranch says:

            Must be gorgeous!

          • Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

            I couldn’t agree more! Gunilla Norris wrote a beautiful book, “A Mystic Garden … Working with Soil, Attending to Soul”, that leads the reader through the seasons of her New England garden and draws parallels with the seasons of our lives. It’s a lovely metaphor ~ a meditation, actually; reminding us of our connection to the earth and to nature. I highly recommend it to everyone…especially if you, like me, find yourself most at peace in your garden. The dust jacket is so pretty…I keep it out all year long and refer to it often.

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            Debbie P.,
            I have had 10 hours of peace in the last few days!!! One side of the house at a time.

          • Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

            Lucky you, Margot!

          • Nothing restores my spirit better than an hour or two spent tending the garden . . pulling weeds is theraputic, digging is better than any workout at the gym, planting seeds and watching them grow is the greatest reward . . and growing vegetables and fruit “from plot to plate” is the most comforting, nurturing thing I know how to do . . and I know the provenance of my food!
            The surplus is used for jams, chutneys, preserves, and the freezer. I make Christmas and Birthday gift hampers of home made goodies. Last year’s bad weather made gardening very difficult and non~productive 🙁
            My Great Grandfather was an estate gardener, so green thumbs run in my family 😀 but, how true the saying “A Gardener’s work is NEVER done!” xoxo

          • sbranch says:

            It was bad weather! Yet the flowers bloomed everywhere — I was surprised by that … and the wildflowers!

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            That’s one of my favorites too Deborah!!! And I believe it!
            I tried to send you a note on your blog, but alas it disappeared into cyber space. I thank you for the recipe for Welsh Cakes and the history lesson of St. David.
            I think I do better with snail mail. LOL I like writing on paper.

          • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

            Girlfriends! I have so enjoyed reading all of your comments on gardening! Like you, I love to garden. I always feel so close to God out in my garden. We’ll be moving the middle of this month up to Washington. The house that we bought has a huge back yard of justs grass. What fun it will be to dream of how to landscape. Definitely will be having strawberries and raspberries this summer. I plan to container garden also this summer. I want us to take our time to make our backyard a very pretty place for family and friends to enjoy as well as us.

          • sbranch says:

            So wonderful! Flowers in containers, or veggies? Or both! I can’t wait either!

  19. Gert~Iowa says:

    Good morning Susan…I, like the rest of your girlfriends miss you terribly! I check each morning..looking for a sign of “you” on line..lol So what a blessing it was today to see your new post! Love…love..love all those amazing first signs of Spring on MV. I can not say that one or the other is my favorite…flowers are like a rebirth each year…and birds just make my heart sing right along with them. To me there is nothing sweeter than to wake up to the sounds of the birds singing each morning! Your little bird is amazing….sweet…sweet…sweet! We had our windows open yesterday (ah fresh air!) and then by 6:30 pm the snow started to come down;(

    Stay well…warm and enjoy the coming of a new season!


  20. Oh I DO know how you feel! This weekend when it was “warm” at 50º – I couldn’t resist grabbing my rake to get the old leaves off the daylily bed and kicking apart a few of the remaining snow piles in the yard to make them melt faster. This was a long winter here! I think I could be OK living in California for a couple of months each winter. :0)
    I just love these little movies – the fireplace, the snow through the tree and now the singing bird – that you have started adding! How in the world do you do that?! I want to learn that too!
    So glad to see you here this morning!

  21. Treese says:

    There you are! I was wondering where and what you were doing. Now we all know working and being productive with your projects. And we will all reap the benefits shortly with your new book and calendars.

    I am sure you planned it as the prefect time of year to be locked into a home to work is winter. I always felt a home wraps it’s warm loving arms around a person in winter. A time to rest and rejuvenate and prepare for the coming year. Of course you were working, but still in the bliss of your home.

    Now, spring is here. We too still have cold weather and snow on the Rockies. We have the occasional snow storm here until May or June, but it comes and goes quickly.

    But, on the ranch I have already started spring calving so I am on the 24 hour shift. I sleep in the calving barn if a first time heifer is having a hard time. The other cows have their babies in the pasture. My horses are shedding their big winter coats and the birds grab the hair to prepare their spring nests.

    A broody hen even hatched some little yellow baby chicks for me on Easter morning.
    Treese/Colorado Cowgirl

    • sbranch says:

      I bet it smells good where you are… all horsy, baby-ee- chicky, outdoorsy.

      • pat addison ( cave junction,OR ) says:

        its wonderful sleeping in the barn, I love the sounds of all the birds ( chickens, ducks and turkeys) settling down for the night and the sound of our owl getting ready for his nightly flight. we have our lil peeps in the house, I keep them under a sunlamp for a month or 2 to ensure that they will be ready and healthy to survive in the nursery in the barn. by summer they will be in with the rest of the rest of the birds and laying eggs by late summer/early fall!!! love this busy time of year. 🙂

  22. Julie Marie says:

    Yay!… you still had some Spring banners, so I ordered me one as my “first day of April” gift to myself!… I can’t wait to get mine!… I am going to hang it in my breakfast nook window… there is a flowering pear tree right outside that window that will soon be in bloom!… xoxo… Julie Marie

  23. Pom Pom says:

    Hi Susan!
    I’m so glad you gave us a glimpse of the calendar! Yahoo!
    I can’t WAIT for my copy of A FINE ROMANCE! Yay for long indexes!
    I agree, Californians are sweetie pies. I love the way they do things, so bountiful, so more-ish!
    Bless you and Joe for picking up the trash that the mean people toss. You’re good.

    • sbranch says:

      🙂 LOL!

      • Carrie says:

        Dear Susan,

        The anticipation for “A Fine Romance” is making me apopletic. Each time you give a glimpse of it, I make my monitor screen enlarge as much as possible to pick up as much as I can of what each page contains. The index looks fab! So glad you put in Royal Ascot, that’s a winner to be sure as everything else between cover to cover will be.

        So the ‘mean’ people are, in fact, tossers! 😉


        P.S. Made the bunny for great niece and nephew, dropped it off at the doorstep and rang the bell and did a runner! My sister, their grandma said they looooooooooooooved it!

  24. Janie Phillips says:

    You’ve made my day (no, much more than a day!), Sue, and I thank you from the bottom, top, and sides of my heart! You draw goodness to you, then you multiply it and send it back out to us. You’ve sprinkled me with your magic this morning and I’m going to sparkle all day.

    With so much love,

    • sbranch says:

      Janie! I just can’t believe it’s your birthday today! I had to run out and tell Joe! That’s amazing! These are the kinds of coincidences that make me not believe in coincidences! Happy Birthday — and thank you!

  25. Shelley Bresett says:

    Hi Susan,
    I always look forward to reading your blog and seeing your beautiful pictures of the singing birds and flowers that are blooming in your yard. Yay for Spring! I found a copy of your Christmas Joy book in a second hand store, it was like I found a rare treasure. I’m so happy to have a copy of it. Thank you for writing from your heart, your art work and recipes and everything you do is so wonderful. Have a wonderful day!
    Shelley XOXO

  26. Carol Heach says:

    Beautiful post!! Love how you can see that sweet little birdie’s breath when she sings. Adorable!

  27. Mary Eva Ross says:

    Honestly, when I read this post I wasn’t sure what had me more excited. The daffodil, the page from the calendar, or the anticipation of the “Fine Romance”. Thank you so much, YOU always seem to know what we need to hear (and see!). Happy April Susan.

  28. Marcia A. Sherman says:

    April 1, and here in southern NJ the weather is cooperating. Have washed windows, moved furniture and area rugs, and vacuumed ant carcasses for three days now. Flushed the kitchen window well with Mr. Clean, only eight more windows to go. Exterminator just left – when you are on a concrete slab there seems to be no getting rid of the sugar ants completely – meh! Trying a new product on the laminate kitchen floor to see if the shine will come back. Tackling the dirt from the back to the front of the house, actually enjoying it this spring.
    Looking forward to the book! But I have to agree with Vicki, sure do miss you when you are ‘gone’.
    Blessings – Marcia in Sewell, NJ.

  29. Dear Susan,

    As I reached the end of your post I heard and felt myself let out a big sigh…..I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath all these months as you’ve worked on “our” book! AS I breathed in a Breath of Spring is what I felt as I listened to the birds and viewed your photographs. Having walked your woods walk myself last September I was hoping you were still taking yours every day the weather permitted . I love that I was able to take it again this morning with you! 🙂 I’m sure once you’re out in the garden you’ll work off those extra pounds. That’s what I plan to do here in Maryland today. They’re predicting 57 degrees and sun!

    P.S. Thank you for the encouraging words concerning being an artist. I need every bit I can get!

  30. Wendy Louise says:

    Hi There Susan,
    I bet you can’t wait to be “out there” Susan ! It’s coming real soon. The snow is still melting here but 65 for Easter was terrific. We made the bunny cake with your carrot cake recipe and seven minute frosting and it was a lip smacking success !All grown-ups here, #1 granddaughter due in June, she is going to love that bunny cake! See all the love you spread around and we spoke of you at our Easter gathering. Ohhh, I can’t wait to get next years calendar, I love that cranberry recipe, I made it all through Thanksgiving to Christmas, so easy ! I love that joke from your Dad. I am not a good joke rememberer, I think I can handle that one. I admire people who can tell jokes. My Dad can, but I can never remember them. Happy finishing your,our, book ! Happy,slow, spring ! Happy Spring Girlfriends ! Isn’t Life Grand ! oxox

    • sbranch says:

      I’m terrible at jokes — but that one, I never forgot! Probably because I’m a lot like that moron at times! 🙂

      • Wendy Louise says:

        I guess we all have that moron somewhere in us ! Isn’t it great we can laugh at ourselves. I am always cracking myself up! Keeps you laughing all the time. ox

  31. Sue G says:

    Rabbit, Rabbit….never heard of that before, thanks for sharing that and this lovely post about the reawakening of life’s spring. We are enjoying the slight warming trends here too in WI and I finally have the beginnings of greens popping up where the snow is finally melting. Your walks are beautiful and I love the bird songs too. I am enjoying hearing about your writing and art processes – Happy April. I am on spring break this week and I am excited to have some down time before the final push at school, it was fun catching up with your life out east.

  32. Esther P says:

    Happy April. Happy almost spring, we are expecting snow tonight and for the Missouri Ozarks that is really, really strange. We have to be content playing in the dirt in our seed starting trays 🙂 Just like the anticipation of waiting for spring, we have the delicious anticipation of waiting for “A Fine Romance” to be in our little hands. You know, when that book is shipped, there will be a few days when many homes get neglected, laundry will pile up and husbands and kids will eat from the cupboards standing at the kitchen counter, while we girls are lost in ‘Susan Land’ and we will love it ! Enjoy the finishing touches.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL! 🙂

    • Esther, I agree! It’s a good thing my kids are grown up and out of the house…..and my husband knows how to cook. It’s just my furbabies that are in danger of being neglected….however, they’re so good at making a racket when they want something they won’t LET me forget them.

  33. Beth Keser says:

    Happy Spring! Thank you for putting the spring banners in your store -just ordered 2!! Will be giving one to my best friend! I cannot wait for your book -it is going to be a Saturday project for me in the Fall -Me, a comfy chair, a fire going , a nice mug of coffee and your book 🙂
    Spring for me this year is in the form of 15 baby chicks in our cellar -they are so cute. Now onto building a chicken coop…..

    • sbranch says:

      You’re welcome Beth — I know your best friend will LOVE it — I know how I felt when I got mine! Baby chicks. I wish I lived next door to you!

      • Beth Keser says:

        I would love for you to be my neighbor 😉 My family would never see me!! But if you were my neighbor, I would definitely share my eggs with you!!

        • sbranch says:

          How do you get anything done knowing there are baby chicks in the cellar!

          • Beth Keser says:

            I dont -everytime I go down to do laundry, it’s at least 20 minutes. I have to talk to them, pet them and just watch all their funny little antics 🙂 My son will text me from work just to check on his girls!!

          • sbranch says:

            lol, that’s what I thought! How fun!

    • pat addison ( cave junction,OR) says:

      hello Beth, isn’t it fun have baby chicks in the house, I do hope you are keeping the water container full and not giving the baby chicks cold water to drink…just lukewarm…. cold water freezes their little stomachs and will kill them. also hope they are under a sunlamp to keep them warm. I love my lil peeps. what breed are yours?? mine are Rhode Island reds and Plymouth Barred Rocks, they lay brown eggs. my lil peeps won’t be laying eggs until late summer or fall. but I have older hens who are busy now. let us know how your little chicks do, mine are growing like weeds and are just about all feathered already, they are sooo cute. good luck with your little brood. hugs….. 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        Good chickie advice from Pat!

        • pat addison ( cave junction,OR) says:

          thank you susan. another good piece of advice is never let those chicks go dry, keep that water bottle full, prevents them from getting plugged up (constipated) and then you have unplug them by wiping their lil bottoms to remove the “plug”. not fun. and have fun with your chicks, they are so adorable when they are little. hugs…. 🙂

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Gotta say it again – I LOVE IT HERE! You just never know what new thing you’re going to learn! PS Pat – no kidding, you are the best! Please keep all the farm news coming! :>)

  34. Barb McD. :-) :-) says:

    Thank you for taking me along on your walk this morning. I can close my eyes and ‘feel’ like I am there. Living in the desert (AZ) is a different kind of beauty, but there is nothing like seeing the first spring daffodil.
    Have a beautiful day……..Barb xoxo

  35. Michele Perkins says:

    Happy April 1st Susan!

    What a wonderful way to begin a new month with a darling blog from you! They always brighten my day. Snow is still hanging around here but our first spring bulbs are just peeking through from the winter debris – time to gently clean around those little fellows and urge them onward and upward!
    Congrats on finishing your 2014 calendar and to know that “our” book is almost finished. You must be so excited.
    Have a great day!
    Michele in Vermont

  36. Audrianne Hill says:

    Not that I really want to put something on your to-do list but have you ever thought of writing/creating a book about Gladys Taber? I can just imagine what your watercolors of Stillmeadow or her cape house might look like…and the dogs. You would create the cutest versions of Especially Me and her Irish! Just a thought.

    • sbranch says:

      What a nice idea, I never thought of that! Thank you Audrianne — I would probably have a very good time writing about her!

  37. Gale from Pocono Manor, Pa. says:

    Yes Susan you are not alone with the winter weight. Can you rally the girl friends, this band of like-minded people, this “band of sisters” and ask them to write in with what works for them….in shedding the winter weight. I am in need of help with this this year because I have allowed myself to “revel” in the lovely down time of winter….with my quilt and easy chair and reading. But I tell you every year it gets harder to loose that winter weight. So I ask you Susan and the “girlfriends” ….please share ……”What works for you”?

    • sbranch says:

      OK, we’ll get on this as soon as I finish the book … I can’t seem to do both. When I write books, I need buttered toast!

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Hi Gale: Just told a local girlfriend this morning that I need to bundle up and go for a walk to lose a few pounds. But we have a cold wind from the north and high in mid-30’s today so guess what won out: Walk or time sitting reading/knitting inside? LOL! 🙂

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      I need to get ~back on track~ after I get rid of this nasty stomach flu bug! ~I hardly ever get sick! Not a good way to lose weight!
      ~What I do is this~
      First: I drink at least 1 cup of hot green tea with apple cider vinegar ( Bragg’s) in it~ I drink green tea all day~ unsweetened~ but you can use honey if the vinegar is too much for you
      Second: Limit white stuff~ no white bread or flour~ go easy on sugar and salt~ eat whole grains~ but I do like a little lingonberry jam on an English muffin!
      Third: 5 of 7 days I eat very sensible~ no cheating! The other 2 days~ usually the weekend~ I “cheat”~I’ll eat icecream or cake~
      Fourth: Eat minimally processed food~ make what you can from scratch~ lots of fresh, organic things~ my grandma ate lard on bread and never had any health issues because of it!
      Lastly ~ and very important~ moderation!!~ I have found deprivation only makes things worse!

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      I need to get ~back on track~ after I get rid of this nasty stomach flu bug! ~I hardly ever get sick! Not a good way to lose weight!
      ~What I do is this~
      First: I drink at least 1 cup of hot green tea with apple cider vinegar ( Bragg’s) in it~ I drink green tea all day~ unsweetened~ but you can use honey if the vinegar is too much for you
      Second: Limit white stuff~ no white bread or flour~ go easy on sugar and salt~ eat whole grains~ but I do like a little lingonberry jam on an English muffin!
      Third: 5 of 7 days I eat very sensible~ no cheating! The other 2 days~ usually the weekend~ I “cheat”~I’ll eat icecream or cake~
      Fourth: Eat minimally processed food~ make what you can from scratch~ lots of fresh, organic things~ my grandma ate lard on bread and never had any health issues because of it!
      Lastly ~ and very important~ moderation!!~ I have found deprivation only makes things worse!
      Good luck trying to lose the winter weight~ I’m right there with you!

      • sbranch says:

        Thank you Lynn, feel better soon!

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Thank you!
          I moved up to Mrs. Grass soup with noodles today~
          So far so good!

          • sbranch says:

            Sounds like you’re on your way back!

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            There’s my Lynn! Lingonberry jam and Mrs. Grass soup. There you go again making me homesick!

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            Oh Margot~ pickled herring……my grandma ALWAYS had a jar of that in her fridge! ~I think it was the same jar in their my entire childhood 🙁 ……yucky to me even today!~ I could never get past the creamy, milky, stinky film that covered it!!! ~That is an acquired taste!~ My grandma also had fermenting crock of cabbage
            (sauerkraut) in the root cellar~ why are so many of the good for you things SO STINKY?!

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Hi Margot~
          Can’t you get Mrs. Grass soup where you live? ~That was one of the things my mom always gave us when we were sick. ~It tasted SO much better than just plain broth~ but plain broth always came first!

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            Not that I can find. And you are so right. Mrs. Grass’ is the best! I will have to pick some up, along with my cottage cheese w/ chives, and my Ma Bensches (sp?) pickled herring. Cheese and Sausage and Root Beer all made in WI. Yum! No wonder I gain weight when I go home! LOL

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            ~I meant ” there” and “crocks” of kraut~

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Oh dear, Lynn–the thought of lard spread on bread about does my stomach in… LOL! 🙂

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          My grandma grew up on a dairy farm and was orphaned at a young age. The children kept the farm running ( she had older brothers and a sister) by selling eggs, milk and buttter. They had to sell the butter and lard was the closest thing to butter I guess~ Grandma said things were not always so bad ~ she would sometimes get to put sugar on top of the lard for a very special treat.~ She never had a weight problem…..

          • sbranch says:

            She probably worked too hard to gain weight!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            My dad told me stories of having butter and a little sugar sprinkled on bread during the Depression when he was growing up – that was the entire supper! Can you imagine?

          • sbranch says:

            Have you ever tasted bread and butter with sugar on it? Heaven! I know it isn’t dinner, but it’s very delicious.

    • Becky says:

      Ladies, we are all in the same boat, weight wise. I find I eat way too much, and not just eat the wrong things. When I need to get MY attention and show me how many calories are in say….. 1/2 c. of cooked oatmeal or buttered toast, I use the free My Fitness Pal ap on my IPhone, and it is a wonderful calorie counting friend. No IPhone, no problem. It’s online. MFP tracks my progress with weight loss and I feel so rewarded when I drop a pound or 2. Sweet success! And if I want to eat a handful of chocolate chips (and who wouldn’t) I just text it in and the program does the rest! When I reach 1200 calories I know Im through for the day if I want to lose 2 pounds each week. Check it out. It’s actually fun! Great to hear from you Susan. My yard is just beautiful this Spring here in sunny CA. Come on by for some banana nut bread….oops I’ll have to enter that in My Fitness Pal! Ha!

    • Hello Gale and Girlfriends, I want to share this with all of you and believe me it isn’t the perfect way to lose weight just what happened to me last October. I wasn’t feeling well and just could not put a finger on what could possibly be going on so I went to my Urologist thinking it was another kidney stone forming which fortunately it was not. Now, the bad news was in my catscan they did see a gallstone one silly stone so off to a Gastro Specialist and he didn’t want to do surgery at this time and suggested avoiding all fats to not aggravate the stone to move in the bilary duct to cause the removal of my gallbladder. Now, here comes the part about how to lose weight the hard way. No more fats do we all realize how much fats are in just about everything short of a lettuce leaf that we eat everyday. So, after I finished mourning what I no longer would be able to enjoy (just about everything we all enjoy) like gravy, fried chicken, desserts, butter, potato chips, no fast foods, I could go on and on. I have watched all fats and made it through Thanksgiving (hardest), Christmas (no fudge/cookies), and now Easter (no chocolate, and my heart which is coconut). I had to adjust my diet and truly always watched what I ate, it is no longer enjoyable to go out to eat so now I just eat to live. I’m not complaining; but, ladies if you are healthy enjoy your foods just watch portions, eat plenty of fruits/veggies, get out and move (walking is best), and stop eating after 7pm and drink plenty of water there is no secret. I don’t feel sorry for myself anymore and heart disease is in my family (my cholesterol is perfect always has been) so if watching fats now at my age will prevent me from developing heart disease I can live with what I have been dealt….the bonus is during the Winter to date I have lost 22# and I will have good days and bad days with this gallbladder inconvenience. My doctors tell me it isn’t anything I did to incur stones (kidney/gallbladder) my body just develops them. I am being a happy camper and don’t make anyone around me feel badly for being able to enjoy a fried tenderloin or a big juicy burger, I just get out my lovely grilled chicken salad with fatfree dressing and I am thankful that Jellybeans are FATFREE!!!! Good Luck!

      • sbranch says:

        You have handled this so well! And then 22 lbs are gone, good for you! You must feel like a million bucks!

        • Maybe $100,000?? ha My energy level is low now which for me is discouraging; but, I’m going to get back on my bicycle and try to pickup where I was last summer going 3mi. a day……need to tone up now!!! There is always discomfort with this and I’m not really trying to lose weight. I must admit it really sounds refreshing to hear my sweet daughter tell me “Mother, you need to stop so you don’t get any thinner”! can you ever be to thin??….see there is another PERK!! Hey, I’m thinking since this stone is a part of me now maybe I should give it a name….I’m thinking Gladys the Gallstone, what do you think? hmm might as well laugh about it. ;>}

      • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

        Wow, Deborah, good for you! Lots of good advice! You’ve developed great will power, girlfriend! I bet you feel great now and I am so glad for you because I remember when you were going through that health issue–and now you are at the other end.

        I’ve discovered, too, as far as weight loss, it’s good to make reasonable goals that you know you can achieve–like, if you know you can’t drink 8 glasses of water a day, make your goal 4 instead. I know someone also mentioned getting rid of “white” as in rice, bread, flour, etc. and that is a good one as they are empty calories anyway. I have a container in the frig with carrots, celery, cukes so I can munch easily on those. And exercise–moving!! is so important! Even if you do it in 10 minute periods 3 times during the day. That works! And, at the beginning, don’t make so many goals that you will be overwhelmed. Maybe three, like: exercise 10 minutes/day; no white bread; eat 3 servings of veg and 2 servings of fruit. Little steps!

        • Hi Linda, you are so right about getting rid of all “whites” in the grains which I did several years ago actually. We only eat whole grain here with our bread, pasta, brown rice and it is second nature to us. I found carrot chips in our grocery and they are quite enjoyable for snacking. I also have to stay away from dairy/cheese which includes icecream….so, it’s skim milk and frozen yogurt which is fine with me do you have an Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt near you?? Sounds like you have a plan and you are so right baby steps and one day at a time!!!

          • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

            Carrot Chips!! I will look for them. They sound great! I don’t think we have Orange Leaf. Is it a chain? or a brand you find in your grocery store?

          • The Carrot Chips are just carrots cut diagonally with a ridged tool…they are thin and just easy to eat. The Orange Leaf is a chain and usually in a Mall or in a Strip Mall. We have gone once and you pick out the cup you want and on the wall there is one main lever with say cheesecake yogurt and then on either side is strawberry and blueberry. There are several flavors which change daily just Google it and look at all of the combinations!!! Yum then at the counter there are hundreds of toppings from gummie bears, M&M’s, toffee, coconut, just everything you could want. You pay so much an ounce and the toppings will add weight and therefore the cost can go high!! Delish…..

  38. Barb from Ohio says:

    Hi, Susan
    Hope you had a good Easter. I’ve been waiting for another new post but knew you’ve been so busy on the book. Glad to see it it is almost done! It’s something wonderful to look forward to this fall. But now we need some spring to knock us out of the winter doldrums. We had some snow flakes falling this morning, not what you want to see on the first of April, but it is April Fools Day. We did have some sunshine and temps in the upper fifties over the weekend, but not yesterday for Easter. But a few daffodils and tulips are coming up and the buds are swelling on the trees. Spring will get here eventually. Have a great day!

  39. JoAnne Daniels says:

    Happy Easter to you and Joe! I live in NW New Jersey and we’ve had below temps all March, but I think we’ve finally turned the corner into Spring. I,
    personally, love those brown days — I love to see angular bare tree branches that can’t be seen when they’re covered with green leaves. I love to search for the “little things” that start to pop their heads through the dry leaves and it’s such a wonderful time for introspection — to think about where I’ve been and where I’m going and to plan my vegetable garden this year! The anticipation of spring peepers, farm stands opening with new plants and flowers, and finally having it warm enough to get out the rake and clean off winter’s debris from our patio and take the covers off the Adirondack chairs…
    Hallelulia! Spring is here!
    Thanks for your lone daffodil — mine are only showing some green leaves.
    I eagerly await my copy of A Fine Romance — anticipation……….
    The girl friends in CA have it good, but so do we! Paradise could become boring, don’t you think? :o)

    • sbranch says:

      Also, so much more light in the house — no leaves to block, and longer, sunnier days!

      • Jack says:

        Is sunshine still sunshine , even if it’s frozen ?

        • sbranch says:

          I would have to say YES.

          • Mary in Phoenix says:

            And is hot chocolate still hot chocolate even if it’s frozen … as at Serendipity in NYC? If you’ve ever tasted it you’d have to say yes! Sunshine is still sunshine no matter how frozen. Good question 🙂

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          So true! My mom always says it is harder to clean the house on a dark day. One can’t see the dust! LOL

          • JoAnne Daniels says:

            All the more reason to sit and read a good book instead!

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            That makes me think of a Mark Twain quote. “If I feel the need to exercise, I sit down under a shade tree with a cool libation until the feeling passes.” LOL
            One could substitute the words, clean and book JoAnne.

  40. "Auntie" says:

    I think that we, living with 4 seasons, have it best. How much more interesting it is, to rotate among the different looks/weather/views/feelings of 4 seasons. Me-thinks anyway.

    Oh please, will you share with us, the “Saga of Losing The Winter Pounds”? Oh please. Oh please. Oh please. Let us know, that we are not alone. Please.

    Pretty please and thank you.


  41. Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

    “Let’s all Sing” reminds me of the bird animatronics at Disneyland!! I’ll be humming it today!
    It was the same temp here is SoCal as it was in Billings Mt yesterday!! Warm for them – at least no snow on Easter! I have learned not to complain about the weather here – too many family & friends members in Wyoming & Mt who have absolutely no sympathy! 😉
    Hope the work continues to fly by – so happy to see the first touches of color & spring for you there! Have a wonderful April opening week! Can’t believe it’s here already! 😉

  42. Cathy Skrobola says:

    Ah – what a wonderful thing – to have a morning cup with Susan Branch! I loved seeing your pretty house all white and pretty in pink in the spring. I will save that picture for my screen saver all spring. I love your house and flowers and china and all. It has been in the high 60’s and low 70’s for quite awhile here. We have daffodils blooming, hycinths and tulips are coming up. Even day lillies and iris are up about 3 inches! I cleaned the gardens this past week, planted lettuce and sweet peas and pansies! I am anxious for warm weather, crickets chirping and fans whirring. Don’t know why it seems like a long winter this past year. I am anxiously awaiting your book – a great summer read – I hope it’s out this summer??? Happy Spring Susan. Thank you for blessing my life.

    • sbranch says:

      It is actually coming in the fall …. takes so long to get it printed! But it should be delivered around the first of September! So go play this summer, and in the fall, you’ll have something to get cozy with!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Sue, I’ve been wondering about the logistics of submitting a manuscript. When ‘A Fine Romance’ is finally done and on its way “off-Island,” will it get shipped all tucked up in those plastic sleeves? Or nowadays – do you just scan all 260 pages and send it digitally? That seems like it would be easier, less expensive and most importantly, more secure. Thanks! :>)

        • sbranch says:

          In the past, the finished pages of my books had to be sent physically to the publisher, but this one is going the new-fashioned way. We scan it here, and send it digitally to Kellee in California along with my photos. She drops the photos in where I’ve marked them to go, and prepares it as a manuscript to email to the publisher. The original art never leaves my studio! Hard to believe! You’re right, so much safer than the mail!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Then will you get galleys or a mock-up of some type back – at some point – that you have to check and re-check and sign-off on? Before the printer finally gets his-or-her hands on it? :>)

          • sbranch says:

            I already have that, because we are putting it together in our studio, Kellee is doing it. We send the scanned art to her, she prepares it for printing and sends me copies of what it will look like. Then I gave it to an editor who marked up all the missed commas and spelling mistakes, then I call Kellee and we talk it through over the phone. She fixes them and then sends me a new page to take the place of the old. So I actually have an unbound book right now.

  43. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Hi Susan and Joe and all the girlfriends. Mother Nature is playing an April Fool’s joke on us. It is cold, windy and snow is in the air but the sun is shinning and hope springs eternal, if not spring itself. Loved your calendar page. Spent a few minutes this morning re-reading March and looking at April’s page before hanging your calendar back up. You and Joe are good people unlike the mean people who litter (they are probably good in some ways too, just careless). Can’t wait for your book. I’ve ordered four and I’m already planning my luncheon when my friends and I will celebrate it. I’m also looking forward to finding out what Joe found for you on your fall leaf peeping trip that will be perfect for your book tours. Well, I’m off to gather my tax papers as the tax man cometh ye after if you don’t do your taxes, lol.

  44. Peggy Cooper says:

    Oh Joy! A beautiful sunny morning here in southern Colorado, and I couldn’t wait to see if you had a post Easter present of beauty for us – and you didn’t disappoint. We have some cold weather coming back this week, but today will be quite nice, so I plan on getting some laundry on the line and doing some garden clean-up. We also have one daffodil blooming, and lots of green leaves of tulips poking through the brown. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel of our 1942 house with the 1980’s kitchen, all DIY, so the rest of the week will be indoors, and I’m hoping for some moisture with the cold. Lots of hard work ahead, but I find the hardest part is making all the decorating decisions on our limited budget, and I’m done with picking everything out, so the rest will just be physically hard, rather than laying awake at night wondering what to choose. Happy Spring Susan and girlfriends.

  45. Janice says:

    I love your photo of your first daffodil…so beautiful. My first happened a couple of weeks ago, and it was lovely to see. It may be brown in your neck of the woods, but you clearly know the beauty that will soon be yours.

  46. Sherry M. says:

    Susan—Your California picture looked so green and inviting, why on earth don’t you winter there? At least for a month? Can I go in your place, if you insist on staying on the island? If you say yes, I’m sure it will be “April’s Fools” but that’s OK. I couldn’t go anyway, but a girl can dream. It was so good to see a post from you today, but I’m so glad you have our calendar for 2014 finished. I wouldn’t want to spend a year without one! Happy Spring, Rabbit-Rabbit, Green is Bling!

    • sbranch says:

      We go out some years … not this one as we were buckled down, but my mom’s birthday is in February and I like to be there for it if I can.

  47. Sarah Maldonado says:

    I can hear my dear, late Mom singing “Let’s all sing like the birdies sing…”! Loved that song you included. My mom was one of those people who sang around the house. Something I do, too. The redbud trees are beginning to bloom here! It’s our state tree and they are just beautiful. Thanks to the birdybirds, the wind, etc., they grow wild in the woods and are the first color in the spring with their purple blooms in stark contrast to the black tree limbs all around. Funny to know about “Rabbit, rabbit”! Wonder if me saying ” bunny bun” counts since that’s what I call them! Happy Spring, Susan! And thanks for making that November page with my favorite cranberry recipe and Christmas Jam on it!

  48. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    Susan…You ARE worthy!!!
    I did notice that the CA girlfriends are so nice, not gloating. I met a gal in Charlotte, NC a while back, and she told me that she was amazed how the people in MN were so happy in summer and made the MOST of it! (I knew that.) Carpe the Seasons!!! I loved your little blue flowers. Another one to add to my collection.
    I totally agree with Carilyn Wolski’s mother! I am so amazed when my friends say they can’t cook. I always ask them if they can read and do math (In fact there aren’t any fractions as we use measuring cups.). When they tell me yes, I tell them to mix in some patience. Voila’!!!

  49. Candice OHIO says:

    Good Morning Susan!!
    So lovely to hear from you, it is like a dose of a vitamin of inspiration!! We had a lovely sunny, beautiful blue sky with big white fluffy clouds Easter Sunday here in NW Ohio, right next door to Indiana. The day started out gloomy but soon the sun began to peek out from breaks in the clouds. Windy and cold, but the grass is beginning to turn a bit greener, and I have big fat buds on my daffodils and all my tulips that I planted last fall are up and I was able to let out my 2 hens and 1 Roo
    to free range our property which they love to do! So yes, we certainly have a lot too look forward to! Our pussywillow tree has its fuzzy little “flowers” on it and if I could I would pick some and send to you I would, but they are all 20 feet up on the very top branches! I cannot even cut some for myself! 🙁
    I loved the birdy song music I could listen to it all day long. May have to purchase a cd for myself! Have a great week!! Happy April! Happy Spring!
    Warmest regards,

  50. Carie says:

    Nice to wake up to a new post today. Love to see all the pictures!
    So excited you are almost done with “our” book….I love how you call it
    “our” book!!! Too cute!!!
    Have a Happy April Day!!!

  51. Jeanette says:

    Susan, Yippeee, you’re almost there!!! WOW, what a spectacular accomplishment! I can’t wait til the presses get all revved up and ready to put your glorious book, our glorious book together!
    Yippeee to spring being “almost” here. Not quite here in Central IL either and I don’t have a daffodil near ready to bloom, they’re only a few inches high! We had 9+ inches of snow last Monday, it hasn’t even all melted yet. BUT, the birds are singing their wee hearts out, I can hardly keep enough seed in the feeders – what a great “problem” to have! And, we know it can’t be too far off…
    Warm springtimey hugs and oodles of LoVe to you!!!

  52. I learned about Rabbit Rabbit from the Trixie Belden books, which I devoured when I was a girl. I didn’t know it was such a strong tradition around the world though! I also hold my breath when driving past cemeteries and lift my feet when we drive over railroad tracks. Started when a childhood friend told me she did it, and now I do it automatically! Silly traditions.

    Loving the bird songs! <3

  53. Ann says:

    So happy to turn the pages of my SB calendars today! Love the Jimi Hendrix quote. We are as excited as you are about “A Fine Romance”. Do you sometimes feel a little sad that it is nearing the end? I think if I ever wrote a book it would feel like giving birth, only a little less painful! We are having a beautiful day here in Maryland and I just returned from a long walk with the dogs where we ran into all our neighborhood friends and their people. I love spring!

    • sbranch says:

      These last pages don’t go quickly, I think I am secretly holding on! But I must let go … so I can also go! It’s a lot like giving birth, and I do have to say, it is painful. Book writers keep that little secret, but it is disconcerting to want to say things right, and try very hard and not be sure. Painful in a very different way!!

  54. Jan says:

    Enjoyed seeing your peek at Spring! We just have a little green popping up through the ground here. Suppose to warm up later in the week. Spent Easter with our daughter and son-in-law in Ohio and our two little grandaughters. Fun, fun, and lots of laughs. Little ones say and do the funniest things. What a joy! Told my daughter I need to take them home with me just for the laughs. My son-in-law spoke up and said “Go ahead!” Made a bunny cake with the oldest ( 2 and a half). Great fun! Congrats on completing your calendars. The book looks just wonderful! We too have been working on shedding those winter pounds – so join the club! Ha! Have a great week!

  55. Susan Martin says:

    Happy Spring Susan and Joe! Thank you for the encouraging post…spring IS in the air – I love when you can smell it. It’s sunny today in Pa, and I didn’t need gloves or a hat on my walk this morning. My raised beds are calling to me, as are the sunflower seeds that I bought in January – I just can’t wait to plant them!
    Have a wonderful day and month!

    PS – I’m so excited about “our” book! It looks wonderful!

  56. Chrissy Thrower says:

    Well, Susan and Girlfriends…HAPPY SPRING!
    You have made me want Spring weather to arrive even more now! I long for ‘the blossoms’ to arrive, the sound of lawn mowers and scent of fresh cut grass, and warmth outside and being able to enjoy the walks and bike rides again. (I hate the cold now)
    I could just smell the ocean when I saw your picture and now I long for that as well!
    Very nice of you to beautify America by ‘picking up’ along your walks! 🙂
    Every page of your calendar is a delight..so glad to know the next was is going to be just as delightful.
    Is that sweet birdie video that you took? It looks cold and like his/her warm singing breaths are showing up in the cold?

  57. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Yay, Yay, Susan had a moment to post us an Easter and Spring note! I have been missing you and hoping that all of your work has been going well. The best thing about daffodils are that they never lie about Spring! Once they are up, there is absolutely NO turning back. Snow, cold, nothing stops them from chasing out old man Winter and warming up the landscape!! Hope springs eternal when the daffodils burst forth. Don’t you agree?

  58. Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

    I “Wub” you, too, Susan! How nice to hear from you this morning!

    The first time I learned about “Rabbit, rabbit” was in the first “Thrush Green” series book of Miss Read. It was May 1st and young Paul woke up and said it for luck because he was hoping he would be well enough to go to the fair that day. (He was!)

    The weather around here has finally turned the corner to spring. It’s still windy, but not with the chill that makes you feel as if your hands and ears are going to fall off from the biting cold. I spent a lovely afternoon on Saturday out in one of my gardens that I didn’t have time to clean last fall. It was heavenly! There aren’t many signs of spring around here either, but I was able to pick about 16 little tete a tete daffodils for my Easter dinner with my family yesterday. I just noticed today that the bridal wreath spiraea has tiny green leaves now. Life is definitely a treasure hunt right now!

    Susan, I love the November page of your upcoming calendar. You mentioned already that you have seen your drawing improve. And while ALL of your artwork is adorable(!), I have noticed a change (that I LOVE!) in recent years–more details, more creativity, more pattern, more humor with a wide variety of subject material–and I’m loving it all!

    I’ve been using your Days Book as a diary for the past 5-6 years. Well, this year I thought of making it “new”!! So I took out all of your calendars that I’ve saved over the years and cut and pasted new pictures on some of the old ones in your Book. Now when I turn to a new page, I am surprised! A “new” picture that I didn’t expect!

    I CAN’T BELIEVE you are so close to the finish line! Just in time for spring!
    Love to you and all my girlfriends,

    • sbranch says:

      How fun, you made your own book! I think as you create, you get braver… that change you mention.

    • Chris Wells from West TX says:

      Hi Linda, Happy April 1 st! Spring is on it’s way. Things here are beginning to leaf out, my Carolina Jessamine is filled with bloom, and my favorite, my wild clematis, is creeping out of the ground and growing by leaps and bounds……and all with out rain!
      WOW. In my book I call that a miracle. We have a 70% chance of rain tomorrow and tomorrow night. Most people I know are rushing out and having their cars washed!! We will do ANYTHING and I repeat ANYTHING for rain! LOL
      Bridal Wreath Spiraea, what a wonderful smell. It was a bush from my childhood and I still remember the smell of that sweet white flower. My other memory of spring is the smell of the blossoms of the Catalpa tree. Do you have those in PA? We had 2 in our yard in Ohio and I remember stringing the blossoms on thread to make a necklace.
      I rarely see that tree when I visit Ohio now and I wonder where they have all gone?
      Wanted to say HAPPY SPRING, hope it warms up soon for you!
      Take care,

      • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

        Hey, there, Chris,
        I love hearing from you! I hope and pray you get that rain! I am so glad for you that you are seeing signs of life. It is so fun to watch. I have never heard of a Catalpa tree! I will have to look that up to see what it looks like.

        We have a mockingbird who loves to sit at the very top of our spruce tree. (He has a “wife”.) Last night I heard him imitate a cardinal. He is so funny. But every other bird knows that only he can be at the top of the tree.
        I hope you have a great week and get that rain!!

  59. Sue Francoeur says:

    Hi Sue,

    It’s just your Winter coat – you need to have it to stay warm! Now with the sun it will start to shed off – I have no doubt. I can’t wait for “A Fine Romance”. Because of all your posts from England, I feel like this will be like looking through a photo album from a trip I took!

    Sue from Simi

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, it probably will! I also like this winter coat idea … I’m keeping it on for another week, but then, I wish to unbutton it and take it off.

  60. Nellie says:

    Happy April to you, Susan!

    Today is my sister’s birthday. She is three years younger than I am, so she has had to endure a bossy big sister all her life!:-)

    If I remember correctly, this is a special month for you as well.:-)

    This is a later spring for us here, and I am really glad! Last summer’s record-breaking heat can wait awhile to return!

    We spent Easter week-end with one of our daughters and her family, having fun with the two grandchildren. This son-in-law is a minister, and it was a very good service on Easter Sunday. Our oldest daughter joined us, then the other daughter and her husband came on Sunday for the day. We helped my husband’s 95 year old cousin celebrate her birthday, too!

    With all this going on, I managed to show a 2.5 pound loss on the scale for March! Not much, but I’m certainly happy to take it!

    Wishing you great success as you finish this much-anticipated book and move onto other important matters.

    xo Nellie

    • sbranch says:

      2.5 lb lost is wonderful, especially considering all you’ve been doing! I would be happy with that. Happy Birthday to your little sister, Nellie!

  61. Happy April, Susan!

    Thank you for this “gentle nudge” to continue hoping for Spring to come!

    And now if you’ll…….. “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.” ;>)

    Have a Daffodilly Day!!!
    Bunny XO

  62. Terri (Richmond, VA) says:

    Hi Susan and girlfriends! What a lovely, fresh April post! By April we can tell that spring will really arrive, soon. I made the bunny cake to rave reviews, although my 8yr old grandson was sick and couldn’t come over.
    Next year I will have another grandson to make cake and dye eggs for. I got lammie pie in the mail last week and you are right! I had to hide him in a drawer to keep from loving him to death before the baby shower!
    I thought of you last week. I work for the dept of agriculture, veterinary services. We are just below the Capitol and Guv’s mansion. Thursday I was told by a coworker to go out onto the grounds and see the rooster being walked on a leash. He was magnificent! Solid white. He was part of a magic show for yhe governor’s easter egg hunt! Wish you could have seen him!

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds beautiful!

      • Jack says:

        You should see my Rattlesnake that rolls over and plays dead!

        • sbranch says:

          You are too much! 🙂 hahahaha

        • Terri (Richmond, VA) says:

          Ha! But do you walk your rattlesnake on leash? I would like to know what he was doing in the magic show.

        • Chris Wells from West TX says:

          Hi Jack….my rattlesnake is playing dead too….belly-up in a mesquite tree….where I put him!!!
          Old West Texas folk lore…when you kill a rattlesnake, hang it in a mesquite tree and you will get rain. Hung it in the tree Sunday morning….70 % chance of rain tomorrow. Huummmm!
          I think there is something to this folk lore stuff.

      • pat addison ( cave junction,OR) says:

        sounds like it was a white leghorn, absolutely gorgeous!!!

    • Rachel says:

      Hi Terri- I’m just North of the city- I hate I missed the rooster!

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      I didn’t know the governor had an egg hunt.

    • Terri (Richmond, VA) says:

      Pat, Mr rooster was gorgeous, but a bit of a snob! Must be because he is a show biz bird :-). Rachel and Margo, I didnt know about the festivities either, until we came across the set up. I am usually long gone when anything is going on at the capitol. But next year I am going to stay and have my kids and grandkids join me. There was also an adorable little white rabbit, with dusky gray ears. Such a sweetie!

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

    good morning susan, hello girlfriends and good morning. well it may be spring but everything here is getting a good spring cleaning from all the rain we have had since Saturday evening. it rained all day yesterday, and its still raining today so everything is washed off and smelling fresh and clean. the chickens are getting in the egg sitterin’ mood, the turkey hen has laid 6 eggs in her nest and Dotty the duck has a nest full of eggs and is getting ready to sit on them so we should be seeing those hatch in about a little over a month from now. she sits on them for hours, covers them up with straw and hay to keep them and goes out to swim and bathe, eat and do whatever else she needs to do. Dongo is getting very protective now, and getting near that nest is likely to bring him quacking after us when we go into the hen house after the chickens’ eggs. ever run from a duck, ever get bit by a duck especially an enraged and overprotective father duck??? I can tell you it hurts!!! especially since he bites for the toes and fingers. we have to run for our lives to get out of there at times. loved seeing your island and isn’t it wonderful to have everything blooming, my daffodils are finally coming up, the snowdrops have bloomed and I can see the tulips shooting up along with the crocuses and hyacinths. my shy lil violets are coming up by the gate and near the porch, I love my lil violets. well off to go do the laundry, my dryer is working really good since my FIL fixed it, now my laundry dries in 4-5 hours instead of 1 hour…sigh!!! I miss my clothesline. you all have a wonderful spring day today and Happy April fool’s day everyone. hugs… 🙂

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      And my goose couple is back! Mr and Mrs – for the 8th or 9th year I think. I think I commented about them before so I won’t bore anyone [again] but the Mr is SO protective of his better-half and their eggs/babies. I call him Mrs Goose’s “security detail” because he has the same look on his face as the Secret Service agents who surround the President while he’s working a rope line. Deadly-serious! If I tried, I don’t think I could get within 20 feet of them. :>)

  64. Julia says:

    Thank you Susan for enticing us with your spring blog.
    I am such a “bookie” (as in foodie) and I didn’t
    realize how much goes into a book, especially ones
    like you write (by hand.) I will appreciate them all
    the more now. Looking to build my own enclosed garden
    this year. The deer eat everything that doesn’t have
    a TALL fence around it. Any advice girlfriends about
    deer resistant plants?

    • pat addison ( cave junction,OR ) says:

      try red snap dragons, they work as the deer will leave those alone, planted them among the roses, the deer ate the roses and left the red snapdragons.

      • Julia says:

        Thanks Pat. I will certainly try them. I know about all
        of the ornamental grasses, bottlebrush trees and
        sweetgrass. So far, that’s all I’ve found. It would be
        nice to have the red color. I’ll let you know.

        • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

          Julia, my husband wants to make a “secret” garden like the one in the movie “The Secret Garden” only a minature version. It could work as our backyard at the new house is large enough. Good luck in making yours.

  65. Sheryl from Chico says:

    What a great way to wake up. I love seeing that you posted something “new”. It’s always a treat I look forward to. I am now sharing some of it with my husband. Soon he will be a fan. He is saying, “Rabbit, Rabbit” with me now. I never realized I didn’t gloat about living in California. Now I will really be conscious of what I write about our weather. No further comment on what’s growing here already.

    I pre-ordered the new book a while ago. I can’t remember when you expect it to be out and about. I am really looking forward to reading and looking at all the photos and most of all your artwork. Yes, you are definitely an artist.

    Hugs — Sheryl

    • sbranch says:

      No no, don’t change a thing, it’s good for us to know what’s going on around the country! The book is scheduled to be delivered to our studio right around September first, if everything goes as planned!

  66. Susan Ericksen of Bainbridge Island, Washington says:

    “A man who works with his hands is a laborer;
    a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman;
    but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart. is an ARTIST.”
    Louis Nizer

    When you do something that is so natural to you, it is difficult to actually call it a profession. It is who you truly are, Susan. And thank God for us who have been given this gift for we are truly blessed. Keep expanding your gift and I will do the same…for artists, of all kinds, we are among the chosen. Our work is never finished, we just set it aside for a while….we always come back. It is who we are. God bless you Susan for spreading your gift, for it brings so much light into so many lives………
    Thank you for your note today….Spring is here and in full bloom on my Island…..

    • sbranch says:

      I love that quote Susan! Thank you so much! xoxo

      • Susan Ericksen of Bainbridge Island, Washington says:

        I love it too…I did that quote in italic calligraphy, with a little paint brush and a jar of water, and framed it..it is in my studio…..Flag Pole Alley Studio!

  67. Deborah Norling says:

    Loved every photo and every entry in today’s blog…but I must say…I simply can not stop watching that most precious little song bird ..I just want to h o l d him ! ! !

  68. The stores were out of your calendar already when I went to buy one for this year so I purchased a rooster calendar instead.

    While beautiful, it doesn’t cause nearly the excitement for turning the next page as all the years I’ve used one of yours. Believe me, I will be buying my 2014 calendar EARLY! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      If that happens again, you can always check with us — we carry it in the web store and tend to have it longer than the stores.

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

    hello again girlfriends, I forgot to thank susan for the stuffed egg recipe, it will be a help in dealing with all the hard-boiled eggs my 2 lil friends got over Easter and since I get to have them over for lunch, I need ideas for all those eggs. I found a potato masher worked very well in mashing the eggs, but a food processor ( for those of us who have one) does a really good job especially on the whites. 2-6 pulses do the job, depending on how you like your egg salad, I even make the egg salad in the processor, just get the eggs doen, put in the mayo, a little salt and pepper, a couple of baby dills and pulse 2-3 times for egg salad. so than k you susan for the recipe, I planb to give that a try today and my 2 lil friends really loved that bunny cake, its all gone already!!! have a great day everyone. Hapy April’s fool day. hugs….. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      But then … dot dot dot, you have to wash the whole processor. 🙂 If I was making a lot of it, I’d do it that way too – I’m so lazy, I just cut things up!

      • Rae Ann from northern Michigan...now in Minnesota... says:

        Ree Drummond posted a picture of how she makes egg salad on her blog today~she puts a peeled hard egg on a cooling rack perched on a bowl and she smashes the egg so the egg lands in the bowl all smashed…check it out…

        • Rae Ann from northern Michigan...now in Minnesota... says:

          Ree Drummond is the Pioneer Woman…forgot to mention that…sorry…

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        LOL!!! I always thought I was the lazy one, doing it in the processor and then rinsing it out and putting the processor in the dishwasher…LOL!!!

        • sbranch says:

          I don’t keep mine set up… so part of the laziness is having to get it, put all the pieces together, move stuff around on my counter to fit it in … SUCH an ordeal! Lol 🙂

          • Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

            Susan –
            I’m so happy to read that you also hand prep instead of using the processor. Mine is in the cupboard so I’d have to take it out and put the pieces together!! I use my grandmother’s potato masher for lots of things! I am considering a blender though for fruit smoothies this summer!! 😉

          • sbranch says:

            I’m considering a Vitamix like my girlfriend in England has — she LOVES it — but they are so expensive, and so far I don’t know why — I’m going to find out!

          • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

            LOL…. Susan, that’s funny, but I’m the same way. I do mine by hand also.

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        I’m with you, Susan! I “inherited” a food processor but never use it–guess I’m lazy but it is kind of “over-kill” for most things I cook and I hate washing it! And regarding egg salad–adding a little grated cheddar cheese, sweet pickle relish, and some yellow mustard mixed in with the mayo makes a tasty egg salad…I’m trying your lemon bar recipe today as the one I got off the internet and used for yesterday wasn’t too good. Spring just feels like lemon bars and egg salad…

        • sbranch says:

          It does!

        • Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

          Pat, I made Sue’s lemon bars 2 weeks ago to take with me on a girlfriend retreat. They were so delicious! I didn’t have any lemon extract so I used a touch more lemon juice and kept my fingers crossed. They were perfect! …with a cup of hot tea ~ heaven!

          • sbranch says:

            That was an old recipe from the Girl Scouts … instead of lemon extract, just put in the zest of a whole lemon — that ought to do it!

  70. Elaine says:

    Happy April to you to Susan ! Oh the weather is just not spring like here either . the temps are cold and winds still have that bite to them . All snow is gone brown every where bulbs slowly popping up above ground but the cold is stopping them from popping up all the way and blooming . The birdies here still sing their hearts out despite the temps . I do hope Spring temps will show up soon for us to ! Hope you had a lovely Easter weekend ! Wonderful post and photos ! Have a great week !

  71. Pat Stansel says:

    Today is our oldest son’s birthday! It also was Easter Sunday,on the way to the
    hospital it rained ,hailed and the sunshine broke through—-we felt this was a sign
    of something very special,so true! His birthday hasn’t landed on Easter since.

    So happy to see the new blog!! While I’m patiently?? Waiting I look at some other
    Blogs lovely, but, I don’t feel the connection.

    • sbranch says:

      Then I feel lucky xoxo thank you Pat! Happy Birthday to your son!

    • Pat Stansel says:

      Aside from the many things I feel we have in common, I think my biggest
      Connection is that I discovered you in my “Salad Days”—-through your first three books. They were so unique & heart warming & confirmed my feelings of family

      W hat a beautiful gift you have as an artist, you can make the world the way
      You want it to be and I love your interpretation of it !!!

      • sbranch says:

        Thank you Pat! xoxo No matter how “poor” I’ve been, and I say that only in the money meaning of that word, when I only had a rented room in a house, still, it was all mine, my own little world I could make any way I wanted. I always felt very lucky about that.♥

  72. Jan says:

    Have to add another comment after looking at your shopping site. Just love your new address book and Days book. Sooo cute!!

  73. Joann says:

    It was the first year without an Easter egg hunt. Even though my daughters are all grown, they still love to hunt for eggs. This year, however, they were all scattered in different directions…except the bride-to-be. So………..we headed to her fiancee’s parent’s home for Easter dinner. 17 people and so much fun! My youngest daughter is coming for a visit on April 13–her 30th birthday, so we’ll have a hunt then, oh yes we will!!

    Lovely post!! You’ve been such a busy lady; oh my goodness!! So much work…all meticulous and wonderful!

    OK, gotta go fill the feeders—hungry momma’s to be (birdies, that is)

    Love you!
    Joann in XO

  74. Rae Ann from northern Michigan...now in Minnesota... says:

    Just what I needed to read today…a new blog from YOU…thank you so much for that daffodil…and the last quote on your new November calendar page really resonated to me~”something to hope for”~I’m hoping for the snow to melt here in western Minnesota~among other things~melting has been happening the last few days even though it was -3* here last night…there is HOPE…I can see teeny tiny specks of grass along the sidewalks!!!~HURRAY!!!~xoxo…

  75. Rachel says:

    The birds are singing up a storm here in Virginia. I have my windows open today, making the most of the warm weather, for however long it will last 😉
    How exciting- the book is almost finished and I can’t wait for my copy 🙂

  76. Paula A. says:

    How funny. I say the same thing to young people today about cooking, and a lot of other endeavors. Have a wonderful spring Susan. So glad to hear from you. Was thinking about you yesterday and how we haven’t heard from you lately. Now I know why.

  77. So nice to hear from you! I thought of you today, when I turned my calendar to April. Always a cheerful, friendly thought and pretty artwork to admire at the beginning of each month- Rabbit Rabbit to you too 🙂 South Florida is full of color this time of year too, just like CA. Pretty soon it will be HOT so I’m enjoying the 75 degree weather while I can. Happy Spring!!
    xoxo Jacqui

  78. Jane F. says:

    Great blog, Susan! Can’t wait for the book. It sounds fabulous!!

  79. Lisa from CT says:

    Oh, I hear you Susan! i changed sizes over this winter also! I know i have to get serious about losing a bit and soon!!!

  80. Shanna says:

    Happy Spring, Susan! With your deadline approaching to finish the book, I didn’t expect to see a post for some time and was thrilled to see one today. Living in Northern California, we don’t have the year round flowers, and the first Spring bulbs are beginning to bloom. My quince tree has blossoms that just appeared after a weekend of thunderstorms! How enduring they are–just like you and the girlfriends!

  81. Claresgabby says:

    I loved having a preview of the calendar, but I have to tell you that when I get my calendar (as I have for years and years) I save it for a time when I have plenty of time, fix myself a cup of tea, and sit down and read it like a novel. Yet, I always feel like I haven’t seen it before when I flip the page at the end of the month and get to enjoy it again. Thank you for the inspiration!
    Happy Spring!!

  82. Cindy Stierhoff says:

    Gosh, I just loved how you made this cloudy California day all sun shiny again! The bird musica, tweety pie out your window, Spring garland, your cottage in San Luis, the Grand Essentials in life and that Romance book etc etc, all my favorite things. Hey, my 3 BFF’s and myself, are going East this Sept, Cape Cod to be exact and I believe we will need a Anorak jacket for the chill but also for the “island look”, you agree?

    • sbranch says:

      You will fit in perfectly! September, you need sweaters too. But if it’s early September, it still could be a little summery.

  83. Martha Ellen of VA says:

    Susan it is so nice to hear from you today. We are having a wonderful day here in Va. This morning the sun was shining so brillantly that I had to don my sunglasses for our walk. There are daffodils, weeping cheery trees, forsythia,and redbud trees blooming! It’s so lovely to be outside in the fresh air. We take along a bag to collect any trash we see that the mean people have thrown out. I’ve been feeling rather resentful of picking up other people’s trash lately. It’s kinda silly to feel this way, but after reading your post today I’ll try not to complain to my hubby about it on walks. It’s so exciting that you are almost finished with the book. What great timing for you and mostly us girlfriends. xoxo ♥

    • sbranch says:

      You’re a good girl Martha Ellen, picking up that trash, feels nice to be in the “good people” column!

  84. Nancy says:

    Hi Susan,

    A couple (maybe three now) of weeks ago as Daisy Dog and I were out for our very early morning walk, I realized I was hearing the birds again and I knew spring really was just around the corner! Of course we had more snow, but still the birds sing. I had my dad put up my bird house and I have “lookers”. It won’t be long now ’til the nesting begins. I’ve been watching the garden like a hawk for little bits of green and I do believe that the brown will soon transform. I really can’t wait! Thanks so much for sharing your little corner of the world with us.

  85. CindyK says:

    I needed this spring post so bad! Winter has dragged on……for a lot of us! I sure loved seeing the flowers. How pretty. This morning I looked in one of my cupboards and found a terre cotta flower pot filled with colorful fake flowers that I had floral taped to writing pens. A whole bouquet! Boy was I happy! It immediately went in the center of my dining table! Now it looks like spring here!
    Thanks for the calendar sneak peek! What fun! I hope Carilyn sees her quote! Won’t she be surprised!!
    Happy spring Susan!

  86. Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

    I just noticed that you have a new Days book. Is it like the original one–same size,hard cover, and nice high quality pages, but just different pictures? It looks like you have a page for notes at the end of every month.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s been updated … some of the art has changed, the paper is nice, but not the exact same as the other book, the whole thing is slightly bigger than the old one — it’s cute! Yes, there’s a place for notes too, I think you’ll like it.

  87. sondra fox says:

    Happy day after Easter! Our good china & silverware, from Easter dinner, is “almost” all put away, resting in their places in the hutch that was my Mom-in-laws, until our next celebration of life. Sitting around our Easter table, there was a new member of our family. A lovely young woman who is our oldest grandson’s new love. I sat there watching as they often snuggled, or gave one another secret endearing looks, thinking that sometime soon, our family would be initiating new members of the love that brings us all together. This table has stood proud through new marriages, new friends, events shared, sorrows we all comforted one another through, topics we all shared & helped one another live with. Perhaps, in the near future, a new, young family will begin their lives together, an off shoot from the old, familiar family that we all are a part of. Somehow, I believe the old family has already taught the upcoming new family the art of loving & caring for one another. The new off shoot perhaps thought “we want this, we want to start our own little family, full of people who love one another & are happy.” While on the sidelines, the two sets of grandparents are dreaming of babes that they perhaps can hold in their arms. And so, the chain of our family goes on despite sorrow, wars, disappointments, “whatever.” And, we will forever be holding hands, repeating words of encouragement, holding on to one another wherever life leads all of us. How very lucky we all are to have one another. Annnnnnnddddd, in the middle of our Easter table lies the Bunny Cake that our youngest grandson (seventeen yrs.) decorated. He’s always loved helping me in the kitchen. Everyone loved the Bunny Cake. A new family tradition, for sure. Thanks Susan for helping us celebrate Easter with the receipt. Our granson & myself had a blast thinking of how to ice the cake & what to use for decorations. We did some variations on your recipe Susan.

    I really loved the little bird singing outside your window. How sweet. What kind of bird is that Susan. I love birds & joining a bird watching club at a nearby garden, Descanso Gardens. They go on a walk together at the end of each month at Descanso.

    I figured out that you kept the Bunny Cake recipe on your blog all week, not putting up a new blog, ’cause perhaps some GF’s would need to know the recipe. Anyway, I’m sure glad to see your new post today. I go to your blog each & every day, wanting more, more, more. Greedy little bugger, aren’t I?
    Sandy from Chihuahua Flats.

  88. Sue in Fl says:

    I loved the quote by Carilyn’s mother. I laughed when I saw as it’s something I say all the time. Except I add “you just have to have the desire”. I think it is so true.

    I’m glad to see that you are starting to get those little signs of spring. I think nature was cooperating and waiting until your book was about done so you wouldn’t be too tempted to wander off. That stack of pages really looks impressive and shows what a lot of hard work you’ve put into it. So glad I preordered!

    Sue in Fl.

  89. sondra fox says:

    Here I am again. Didn’t proofread my blog, so where you see “receipt,” I meant to write “recipe.” Sorry GF’s. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  90. TJ in VA says:

    Hi Susan,

    I have a funny story to share…my darling D-I-L is from Mali, Africa, where the weather is hot and sunny every day…so much so that people in Mali consider a “gray, cloudy day” a BEAUTIFUL day. When she came to this country, she could not understand why Americans called “sunny days” beautiful. Cloudy, gray days are a cause for dressing up special in Mali to celebrate the lack of sun.

    Thought you might find this interesting.

  91. Jennifer says:

    I was so glad to see your post this morning! I have missed you. I love the bird songs! I have been playing it over and over. Those fisherman’s cottages are so cute, and how nice of you and Joe to keep watch over them, and clean things up for them. I am beyond excited for the day that I receive my copy of A Fine Romance! I might disappear for a while with the book and a cup of tea. Ahh, bliss!
    Thank you, Susan, for all that you do and all that you ARE! You are one of my favorite people! 🙂
    Sending hugs to you and Joe and Girl Kitty and Jack!

  92. julie borg says:

    We are having a lovely spring here in Houston! Took bluebonnet pictures yesterday after sunrise Easter service. What an especially nice day! Then in the afternoon right at nap time we had a big storm blow thru. It was great to sleep to the muscia of the rain and thunder!

  93. Marie -- Valencia, CA says:

    I loved today’s post so, so much — thank you, Sweet Sue! I enjoy hearing from all the girlfriends, too! I feel so connected to all parts of our wonderful country and even other places. Thanks to all for your kind remarks about us California folk. We know we have a questionable reputation to live down — so thanks for liking us anyway. Some of us are actually rather normal. I was born and grew up in Los Angeles, but we still had a garden and raised chickens in our backyard. Thanks to all who shared signs of Spring across the country!


    • sbranch says:

      When I came east, I found out about the “reputation” but I know how adorable we Californians truly are, how trusting and open hearted. That’s the way I see it. 🙂

  94. Michele says:

    After reading this lovely blog passage it inspires me to think differently about myself. I have been an artsy-craftsy girl since I can remember and it blossomed when I was a Girl Scout. From then until now (I am 36) I always made things out of construction paper, glue, scissors, twigs, dried flowers, food, anything I could do with my hands! It slowly turned into messing around with sculpey clay making beads, then seed-beading, now I am a full fledged Metalsmith and I STILL have a hard time calling myself an artist at times! Sometimes that self-worth doesn’t exist, then other days I am on Instagram bragging about a beautiful piece I can’t believe came from my heart, hands and soul!
    Life is beautiful when you create it with your own hands. THANK YOU SUSAN!! HAPPY SPRING!!

    • sbranch says:

      I had maybe 5 or 6 books, and lots of other things before I allowed that I was “creative!” I always wanted to be “creative,” but always thought everyone else was that wonderful thing, not me! Ha ha ha, I kinda think I’m pretty darn creative now … we are such funny creatures about claiming things we want so dearly.

      • Michele says:

        Even people who say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body!” I just don’t believe them! We all do in one way shape or form. I truly believe this. Down to how we arrange our plates up in the shelving! We hold ourselves back, no one else.

        • sbranch says:

          We’re all creating our lives … when I realized that, it made a huge difference — such a good thing to know! Before, I was like a moving car with no driver! 🙂

      • Thats called “Humility” a very honorable quality in a person dear Susan. It allows you to share your gifts with pride without boasting, to enjoy the fruits of your labor without feeling awkward or embarrassed. I watch Angela sing today and she has travelled to Europe and performed and her gift of voice is unique and glorious yet she is the most humble young lady which makes her even more amazing/enduring to me. It is perfectly normal to feel prideful in your craft and make the announcement (outloud) “I am an Artist; Singer; Baker; Seamstress”….whatever you do well take joy in your gifts that pleases the Lord. We have always told Angela when asked to sing in Church to always Sing Your Praises Unto The Lord for he blessed you with this gift….she shares her gift of voice just like you are sharing your gift of writing/drawing/painting and yes making everyone of us feel special by being able to share and connect on this wonderful blog. Blessings

  95. Kirsten Wichert says:

    Thanks again for a super blog, Susan! The November 2014 calendar page is beautiful. I’m still in the middle of moving…….and renovations……can’t wait to actually live in the newer home. Spring has really sprung here. It’s supposed to be 90 degrees on Wed. this week! I guess that would really be summer!

  96. Carol C says:

    Hi Susan, lovely post! I’m with the 4 seasons gal…I’d really miss fall and winter!! Love the picture from the next calendar. I collect antique heart shaped cookie cutters and have them in a mixing bowl just like that one on a pie safe in the kitchen. We are on our way home from a motorhome trip in Georgia and South Carolina. We’ve seen spring and are now heading home into it again! Can’t wait to get started on the new project. Tasha Tudor had a “fairy ring” of forget-me-nots in a clearing on her property. I’m going to plant a ring of them around a bird house and put our pets ashes there. Maybe I’ll paint or carve the names on stones to put among the flowers or around the edge of the ring. We get home tomorrow. The birdhouse is already on a post there so WEDNESDAY I can prepare the bed.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s going to be beautiful … forget-me-nots were everywhere in England … such a happy meaningful flower.

  97. Christine Anderson says:

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog this Spring morning!! I heard the East Coast as an oil painting and the West Coast as a watercolor! I love my Water color west coast where we have beautiful spring flowers, daffodils, roses, tulips,fruit trees in bloom all for an extraordinary Easter!

    Thanks again so I can enjoy the arrival of spring in the East.

  98. CarolK (NJ) says:

    Gosh! I forgot all about rabbit, rabbit, rabbit first thing this morning. I wonder if it’s still good if I say it now. I’ve been busy putting away my Easter decorations. I can’t believe I own sooooo many rabbits. Paper rabbits, pottery rabbits, wooden rabbits, crocheted rabbits (my talented sister did these), plush rabbits and pictures of rabbits. Oye! Happy Spring to you talented lady. P.S. Didn’t you have a blog on train travel tips?? I could have sworn you did but I can’t find it. We’re taking our first train trip ever cross-country to WA state in July and I’m so excited my head is spinning. Hugs from NJ…..

    • sbranch says:

      Here’s my blog about train travel . . . I’m imagining you’ll go out of Chicago, north across Montana, and if so, you are in for one of the very prettiest trips of all!

      • CarolK (NJ) says:

        Thank You, I have to read about your experience again to remind me what’s in store. We leave from NJ, head to DC, then it’s on to Chicago and from Chicago straight to Seattle then we do the reverse on the way back. I’m as excited as a kid who’s going to Disneyland!

        • sbranch says:

          Perfect. Be sure to check out the DC train station. There’s nothing else quite like it! Chicago is big and bustling, but DC is amazing. You’re going to have a wonderful time in your room with a view.

  99. ginger says:

    hmmmm…very funny and inspirational post. I am glad you put in that shot, where you pencil your lettering before you ink it. That’s a new one for me. Thanks for the unintentional instruction. I’m still working on my low-fat vegan ala susan branch cookbook. Thank you thank you thank you…but I still stick to my resolve….how much snow is too much snow? One flake…

  100. Cyndi in NC says:

    My heart is broken, my sweet sweet boy Rusty left us yesterday. It is so hard to tell a friend goodbye after he struggled so hard after surgery. But his heart worked so hard and they couldn’t get it to slow down and stay steady. Then the other organs, that he had trouble with but were managed with meds started to give out. He could hardly lift his head when I came in to see him in the ICU. I knew by looking at him at the end was near. I know he is pain free and won’t have a painful death because we didn’t try to help him. Your talk of spring touched my heart because all I see now is brown. But when I look closely there are bits of color here too. Spring will come but now for my boy. This will be the first spring since 2001 when he was not quite 1 year old that he will not lay on the new grass in our front yard and enjoy the warm sun on his beautiful brown fur. So I’ll just remember what a wonderful companion he was and all the times he made me laugh, sometimes when I was feeling down. I can’t wait to see more of your our beautiful flowers and make some of you great recipes. My house won’t be the same, a member of our family has left us.=. Again thanks for letting me talk about my boy. I feel like I’m among friends here.

    • Cyndi in NC says:

      I’m sorry, I guess I should have said Rusty was my almost 13 year old Boxer. When I moved into this house 13 years ago in October he was only about 4 and 1/2 months old. I will be so lost without him for a while.

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Cyndi–my sympathies. We’ve been in your shoes and it is so, so hard…

      • Carol C says:

        My sympathies, Cyndi! We just lost our 14 yr. old Ginger last month and still get tears thinking of her. I think you will at least be at peace because you were with your beloved boy. I am still heartbroken over the three that died without us. We were with Ginger and Hattie that was 14 and died last year. They know we loved them to the end. I read a column be Billy Graham where someone asked if we would see our pets in heaven. Long story short–he said yes he was sure of it! I’ll hold on to that!

    • sbranch says:

      Awwww Cyndi, so so sorry. Just the hardest thing… xoxo

    • sondra fox says:

      Oh Cyndi, It will take a long time for you to think of Rusty without feeling broken hearted, then one day you’ll be thinking of him & telling a wonderful story about Rusty, with a happy heart, knowing that the time you spent with him was magical, even though the pain of saying goodbye to him was so very hard. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

      So very sorry, Cyndi. I hear the love in your words and I feel your sadness. Your house may not be the same, missing your sweet boy but he will return to you every time you tell a Rusty story or share a memory of him. Sending you a hug.

      • So sorry for the loss of your beloved Rusty Cyndi. I think it took me 2 yrs. after the loss of our beloved beagle Goldee Meg to stop shedding tears at the thought of her and now she makes me smile. We are guardians of our pets and those animals that are fortunate to have loving “parents” like your Rusty know how much they are loved. In time your heart will not break everytime you think of your pet; but, it will swell with loving memories.

      • pat addison ( cave junction,OR ) says:

        Cyndi so sorry for your loss. sending hugs and go to petloss.com for that rainbow bridge poem. they also have a live chat to help you with your loss, worked miracles for me when I lost Inky, try them hugs….. 🙂

    • Wendy Louise says:

      Oh Cyndi, So sorry, it is so hard because they are such a constant in our daily life. A long time ago I made a garden, a memory garden, with all our wonderful pets names engraved in rocks, just ordinary rocks. Then I plant something in their memory. And when I tend to that garden I have so many wonderful memories that come flooding through. I have a bench to sit and feel blessed that they were in my life. Such good friends, you’ll have that again.

      • sbranch says:

        I have the same thing for my first three kitties on the island, a place where I just plant tiny little flowers. And I love it there too, just like Wendy.

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Cyndi – my deepest sympathies. Losing a pet is every bit as difficult as losing a human family member. Every Bit. I’m guessing if Rusty could talk to you right now though, he’d say “I love you – thanks so much for everything – I had a wonderful time…” xoxo :>)

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