Here I am girls, let’s talk about how our health-kick is progressing!  Here’s some  MUSICA  to help knock off a couple of calories while chair dancing!  I happen to know for a fact it works! 🙂

I can barely type with this music playing, my hands fly off the keys … ← I just made those dots in time with the music!  These are pages from my book Girlfriends Forever – ideas I’ve accumulated over the years for living a healthy life.  I lift small weights every other day and wanted to show you some of the simple exercises I do with them to keep my upper body strong, with those little back-bone-protecting muscles so I can continue to carry shopping bags, and climb hills in the Yorkshire Dales!

P O W E R   F O O D S

Everyday we find out about food-as-almost-medicine, food that delivers a nutritional punch — crunchy vegetables, satisfying proteins, juicy fruits that are vibrant and alive and make us feel that way too.♥  Shop as close to home as possible for freshest and best of everything.

Here are a couple of my favorite “mini meals” I like to eat when I’m trying to cut back and trim down.  This first one serves two:  Prick a large organic sweet potato, the oranger the better, with a knife, rub the skin with soft butter, salt it, put it on a cookie sheet or aluminum foil (because it will drip on to your oven floor and we can’t have that), roast at 425° until done, about an hour and 15 min.  Cut it in half, mash up the potato, pepper it and enjoy.  Eat the skin too which will have caramelized in spots, making it even more delicious, filling, and it’s stuffed with healthy beta carotene antioxidants.

Another sort of one-item dinner that’s really filling and low calorie is an artichoke which you eat with your hands, giving extra satisfaction.  I get two, one for Joe, one for me.  They are good hot or cold, so cook extra if you like them.  To make them: put a large pot of water on to boil.  Wash the artichokes and trim off the tops (pointy part) of the leaves with scissors (you don’t have to do this, I just like to).  Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the tops, drop them into the water, and pour another couple of tablespoons of oil into the water.  Grind lots of fresh pepper into the water and add about a tsp. of salt.  Cover and simmer gently (about a half hour or so) until a fork pierces the stem very easily.  You can test for doneness: pull off a leaf, the little lump of meat (at the bottom of each leaf in case you’ve never made an artichoke) should come off easily when you pull on it with your teeth. When they’re done, drain them well.  Put them on a plate.  If you are a purist, squeeze over lemon juice pull off one leaf at a time, and enjoy.  If you are like me and inherently impure (I inherited it from my dad), give yourself a TBSP of mayonnaise in a little side-cup to dip the leaves in.  If this is your whole dinner, you can afford some mayo calories since there are only about 60 in the artichoke.  Some people like to dip the leaves in melted butter; I like mayo better, but try it and see what you think.  After you have eaten all the leaves and are down to the skinny feathery ones, don’t eat those.  Scrape them out of the base of the artichoke with a dinner knife.  What’s left is the heart, the most delicious of all, the reward at the end, and wonderful with a little mayo. It takes a little while to eat an artichoke giving your tummy plenty of time to realize it’s been fed, thereby ending the begging for more thing.  Always remember how important consciousness is while trying to eat healthy.  If your mind is crying out for a hot fudge sundae, just remember to say to yourself, “In ten minutes, this voice will be gone.  This too shall pass.”  And it will, just give it a minute.

That year is going to pass anyway.

I bet lots of you have one-food meal tips, foods that “get you through.”  Share please! Have you ever made my easy recipe for wholesome, soul-satisfying Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti?  It’s really good.  If you haven’t and you’d like the recipe, let me know — I’ll put it in the next post.  For you who have the Girlfriend’s Book, it’s on the page titled “Healthy Quick Cook”, page 110.  Which brings me to this . . .

Oh yes.  Good segue eh?  It’s time to give away these two books!  And I have to say, any cooking you do at home, anything you make from scratch is bound to be healthier than anything store bought.  I am sure none of you would think about putting preservatives or MSG into your food — so although the Summer Book is not a “diet” book in any way, the recipes reflect my favorite things in cooking, “easy, quick, elegant, delicious, and nutritious.”  Vanna knows this because she is the perfect example of health. Here she comes now, toddling in with her scrambled egg-white breakfast, her face smeared with a masque that looks like chocolate, and kind of smells like it too.  (Hmm, is she not telling me something?)

“Vanna, will you please draw us a winning name?  In fact, draw two, so you can get back to pampersville.”  (I hear the bubble bath water running upstairs, we wouldn’t want to hold her up.  VANNA MUSICA PLEASE.)

Into the basket filled to the brim with your names she goes, long arm reaching deep, round and round she swirls her arm, she’s stirring them up really well.  “OK, Vanna, go for it!”  Up she comes, just halfway, she stops, she’s fishing around.  The gleam in her eye tells me she has one … she starts up again, and out of the flying slips of paper, she brings ONE NAME, the winner of the two books has landed!   “Go back down Vanna, we have another book to give away.”  Down she goes, to the very bottom, and slowly, because of her drama queen propensities, she withdraws the second name.  She hands it to me with a flourish.  OK, I have them both.  “Bye, Vanna, thank you darling girl!  Good job!”  OK, Girlfriends, are you ready?  I said, ARE YOU READY? (Do you hate me now?)  OK, here we go.  With no further adieu, here are our winners:

For the two books, The Summer Book and Girlfriends Forever:

The Lucky Winner is:  PATTY P.

(the Patty P. who had “tichi” as part of her email address)

Everyone say: YAY FOR PATTY P!!

For my newest book, COUNTING YOUR BLESSINGS, Book of DAYS

Our fortunate girlfriend is:

Sally L’H . . . hooray for Sally!!!

CONGRATULATIONS to both of you!  You’re going to find an email in your boxes announcing you as our WINNERS.  Write me back, tell me the names you want in the books so I can sign them for you, include your addresses and they’ll go into the mail very soon.  We are so happy for you!

And for all of you who didn’t win this time, we hope for better news next go ’round!  And for you who tried to order the BLESSINGS DAY PLANNER BOOK from our web store, and couldn’t, that’s because we ran out!  So sorry, it’s always hard to gauge how many we should order, but Kellee tells me that more are on their way.  She’s going to fix it so you can order them today, but they won’t go out until we get them into the studio, which she says could be up to three weeks or so.  Oh! And I forgot to tell you — last week Kellee put up the new CALENDARS for Pre-Order … you can reserve your copies now if you like.

And now, I hope a walk in the garden on a spring day on Martha’s Vineyard will feel like a nice consolation prize.  I’m so sorry if you didn’t win.  You have no idea how hard it is to pick just one or two winners.  In our last two posts we had almost 3,000 comments!  That’s quite amazing, and does cut the chances down a bit!  Still better than the lottery.  Oh well, let’s go to the garden and drown our sorrows in flower petals.

You can almost hear the water rolling onto shore . . . and smell the petals blowing out of the trees.  I’m not sure you can really see the petal situation . . . so here . . .

this is how the lawn looks — just one of the many reasons to plant a flowering tree . . . so you have something to roll around in on warm spring days!

Flowering trees also make very nice wedding and baby presents . . . here’s the one we gave to our friends Laura and Charles Harris on their wedding day about ten years ago . . . her mom just emailed to me.  So fun to see it!

Speaking of beauty, our pink angelique tulips are coming into bloom

Angeliques are very famous tulips and you can see why . . . just click on that link and see if you get inspired to plant some of your own next fall. They will grow in warmer climates too, but you have to keep the bulbs in the fridge for awhile so they can “winter over.”

I looked over and saw these two little people waiting for me at the door . . .

Yes, we do have deer on the island … they supposedly swam over here from the mainland. They rarely come into town, lucky for us.  This one went strolling through our yard last year.  Quite a surprise, thank goodness she didn’t stop for lunch!  Obviously a “city deer” — she looks both ways before she crosses.

Home I go through the petals.  Have a wonderful day wherever you are — be sure to try one of those easy recipes girlfriends.  And remember, our “health kick” isn’t all about being thin.  The real prizes, as I wrote above, are energy, vitality, self-confidence, strength of spirit, character, and grace.  Most of which you already have . . . and for those things and for us, I leave you with this toast . . .

Love you. xoxo, Susan

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371 Responses to HEALTH KICK

  1. Peggy Cooper says:

    It’s been a very sad year for tulips here in southern Colorado. Besides an extremely dry winter, we got a late storm that froze the buds before they popped up above the leaves. If we had gotten a nice snow with it to insulate, they would have been fine. But all we got was cold and wind and a dusting of snow. So being an optimist, I’m hoping for beautiful blooms next year.

    • Diane Woods says:

      Thank you, Thank You Susan!!! Your Health Kick post is so inspirational and timely. I had sort of a personal “mission” this winter, fruitful but sedentary and I packed on a few, I did not have the lee-way to do this! I am struggling getting my health mission started, but your post is so helpful. I’ve reached that age, where the weight comes on easy, and off not so easy!
      Your Mother’s Day post is also so wonderful. I came from 13 siblings, and I mothered the 3 girls that came behind me…I too, marveled at all my mother did each day and was always there!

      • sbranch says:

        I’ll share with you that the first five pounds have come off. It’s a slow process, but it is a forward-moving process! I feel so much better! Good luck with your own health mission! xo

  2. Dorothy Ann says:

    * And a ‘Top o’ the morning to you, Susan *

    I just finished reading (and enjoying) your new post…”Health Kick”.
    It’s such a delightful post with your very own signature artwork that I love.
    The pretty-pink bathing suit tied around an Oreo is priceless! Susan, your colorful art, timely quotes and those fun-helpful hints make even exercise planning a delight.

    I’m thinking, all those who follow your exercise plan, will go from maxi to mini in no time.

    Actually, for full disclosure, my primary doctor, at my recent check up. wants me to gain 10 pounds. Sorry…I know, I know, some of you are working towards the other way and you go girlfriends! But just so you know, Susan, I do like your small weights exercise tips for toning. Who wouldn’t want cute little arm muscles, especially in the summertime?

    I’m soooooo happy for you…Patty and Sally…you amazing winners!
    Enjoy your Susan Branch books.

    And, Susan, enjoy your day today. You already made my day with your new post!

    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

    • sbranch says:

      Either way, the right weight is a good thing and often hard to come by, but drinking chocolate shakes does sound a lot more appealing than an egg white omelet or other such things! I could gain those ten pounds for you in about a week! 🙂

    • Lori from Maine says:

      Dorothy Ann…I have ten pounds I can send you! Maybe even 15!!
      xoxo Lori

  3. sondra fox says:

    You are such a good influence on all of us Girlfriends, Susan! Good food, in proper proportions, plus exercise is the key to keeping extra weight off. And, water is the key as well. When I’m feeling hungry, I gulp down a glass of water. My doctor told me that if people drank lots of water, some of their ailments would just disappear. We need to flush out our systems. My husband & I also eat yogurt for breakfast every morning. There certainly are lots of good tips for weight control in this blog. Good luck everyone.

    You lived in CA Susan, so you know that we don’t usually have rain in May, right? Well, the other day a big black cloud came over our house while I was feeding our cats. The rain made a big sound on the roof. Both cats looked UP, probably wondering what the heck that noise was. It rained really hard for a short while. We were hoping the rain would douse the fires north of here. Will you be leaving for CA soon, Susan? Or, has your schedule changed because of your book tour?

    Don’t know how I’ll ever be organized again without your calendar blotter. I will miss it terribly. Maybe I’ll just keep the one I already have & use it regardless of what year it is. I use it to blot ink off of cards, or other paper.

    S.O.S. to Girlfriends who are quilters. I’m wondering if there are lots of quilters in our group. I’ve been making a Christmas quilt, all in reds & white, with a lot of hand embroidery on it. I was just thinking, that keeping my mind & hands busy helps me keep from snacking throughout the day. I think one of my problems is that I’m in a stressful situation right now & really need something interesting to keep me occupied. Quilting is making me content & happy.

    I love the picture of your kitties looking out the door for you. When I work in the gardens around our house, I often feel eyes on me. I look around, & there, under a bush, or on a wall, is our cat Bootsie, watching my every move. My pets are such welcome companions.

    Thanks to all of you who are offering up prayers & sending positive thoughts for our family. My husband, Larry, continues to weaken. My prayer is that he won’t have to live with pain. Our family celebrated his 75th B’Day last Sat. Our oldest grandson got so upset. He sat by his grandpa (he calls him Peepaw, I’m Meemaw), hugging him, while they both had a good old cry. No one spoke of how they thought this B’Day may be my husband’s last B’Day, but I do think everyone was thinking that. He’s a wonderful husband, father, & grandpa. He’s always been the rock of our family. Many of the things I’ve accomplished in my life I attribute to his urging me on, having faith in my abilities, always beside me with an encouraging word. He’s let me see that I’m a strong woman. I’m so grateful that I”m strong enough to help him through these rough times. We’ll have been married for 54 years the end of this month.
    I feel your good thoughts Girlfriends. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      I’m glad you do Sandy, because they are coming your way. Sending blessings to you and your family, how lucky you all are to have each other. Happy for your drenching rain … did it put out the fires? Sending love xoxo

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Sondra, thinking of & praying for you, Larry & your whole family now. It sounds like he’s been pretty darned good at this husband-dad-Peepaw business. No doubt your love & support meant as much to him as his did to you… Congratulations on your 54th anniversary & God bless you all. xxxx-ooo – your friend Janet :>)

      • sondra fox says:

        Yes, we are very blessed to have a dear family who care so much for one another. When we go to the hospital where my husband is treated, we always see this man in a wheelchair with layer after layer of clothing on. The man is homeless. We saw him today. His one leg goes up & down constantly. I think he has nerve problems. He looks so alone & fragile. I always make some comment about the poor man. Today my husband & I were talking about how sad it is to see someone without the love & care they deserve. I wanted my husband to realize how lucky he is, despite being so ill. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

        • sbranch says:

          There are always ways to count blessings … despite it all, your husband is a very lucky man.

      • sondra fox says:

        Yes, Susan, the fire is out, thank heavens. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

        • sbranch says:

          Floods and fires, that’s southern California. Waaaay back, and you’ll know how long in a moment, I was driving up over Topanga Canyon where there had been a fire the year before — the tree trunks were black charcoal sticks coming out of long green grass. There was a sign there, it said, “I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain.”

    • Rosanne (Oregon) says:

      Sandy, as one of the Girlfriends who is caring for a chronically ill husband, my heart goes out to you. It is heartbreaking to see the love of your life fading. So glad you have your quilting to take your mind to a happy place (knitting does that for me), and the love and support of your family. This blog is the perfect place to, as Susan says, “fill your soul from the well of sweetness.” There are many kind hearts here who wish you well.

      • sbranch says:

        Brave souls. I admire you both. Such strength. It’s a natural part of life, but heartbreaking to imagine. xoxo

        • Julia says:

          You can tell from my last post about the quilting
          luncheon that I am a quilter and have been for
          most of my life. I stitched my first block on my
          grandmother’s porch when I was 12 and I love it,
          especially crazy quilting. I made something last
          year that I love – a crazy quilt Bible cover. I used
          pieces of clothing from family members and
          buttons from special friends and grandmother’s.
          Keep stitching, we’re all praying for you and your

      • sondra fox says:

        How ’bout if we all sell the places we live in & move to a community where we could all be neighbors? (Sandy of Chihuahua Flats)

        • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

          A Susan Branch Commune!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            We could borrow a page from Dr Seuss’ [“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”] and name it “Sueville…” :>)

        • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

          🙂 🙂 🙂 Terrific idea, dear Sandy!! Wishing you tons of blessings today.

    • Dear Sandy . . Sending you the biggest of hugs, which you need right now. It isn’t easy, what you are going through, but somehow you get through it. There is a strong circle of women here, and we are holding you at this hardest of times. xoxo

  4. Pam Fortune says:

    Hi Susan
    Well done with your blog, I just need all that advice as I discovered a shelf on my bottom this morning, due to taking steroids. I am in Ibiza until tomorrow, Fleur’s treat for my birthday which is tomorrow. So all that delicious, calory filled food that I have been eating for the past week just comes to an end tonight. It has been so lovely walking in the warm air, lazing by the pool and having long discussions with Fleur and her husband. So, well done Susan your blog came just in time to keep me on the ‘straight and narrow’ and also to start exercising more efficiently, thank you once again.

  5. Lee Rose says:

    Congratulations Patty and Sally.

    I like to make a vinaigrette to dip my artichoke in. Since it is very thin, not much stays on, it just gets a little of the flavor. For my sweet potato I
    like adding rosemary–not a traditional flavor but very tasty. Honestly, I can never understand why most sweet potato recipes make something that sweet, even sweeter. Besides rosemary I sometimes add garlic, red pepper flakes, and sea salt.

    Thank you for the wonderful post.

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Lee, I agree. I prefer fixing sweet potatoes in “savory” ways – but it sure is more difficult to find recipes in that vein. Guess I’ll have to invent a few more of my own! :>)

  6. Beverly Brewer says:

    Loved the post and the Oreo cookie with the bikini around it was adorable! If you had it made into a magnet, it would be a delightful reminder on the fridge for all of us. The sweet kitties looking longingly at you was beyond precious. I love coming home to my “welcoming committee” every day, too!

    • Julia says:

      I need one of those refrigerator magnets, too!
      I also thought it was tooooo cute. Please make

  7. Barb says:

    Hi Susan,

    Congrats to the winners! Thank you for the great Exercise-Health post today Susan. Thank you also to all the girlfriends as I have gone through and read them all and what wonderful advice. I like to walk…….so I try to walk at least three to four times a week. Unfortunately for me with eatting…….I have had to deal with Collitis and IBS for over twenty years, so as much as I love veggies and fruit…I cannot have them all the time like most people. I like yogurt so that is like my go to for just about everything. Yet I do have a few tips to pass on. I like cheese when I can eat it and I buy (low sodium cheese now) from the deli counter and also for (Tuna Fish….I now get the Low Sodium) White Albacore in a can…only 35mg. Yet I always try to find the goodness in everyday, like my dear Mom taught me……..! Therefore Susan and Girlfriends……goodluck to all of you in your Exercising and Eatting Right……..each day is new……..Smile! Hugs & Smiles Barb, EW CT

  8. Congratulations to Patty and Sally! You always make “losing” so much fun, Susan. And really, how can we possibly lose, when we have such an amazing blog to read? Thanks for just being you!

  9. Julia says:

    I just can’t believe I didn’t win! I felt so LUCKY. Oh, I am lucky I got
    a new Susan blog! Congrats girls. I just got back from my monthly
    quilter’s luncheon. We have 2 ladies past 90 still quilting and turning
    out beautiful things. Several are 80 and the rest of us are baby
    boomers and we have really learned a lot from these beautiful women.
    This just shows that you should keep on being interested in life and
    keep on learning. It makes you healthy, wealthy and wise. And
    HAPPY! Thanks you for the healthy lifestyle info. I’m trying along
    with everybody else.

  10. Peggy says:

    Wonder how the deer got on the island?

    Last summer I lost 27 pounds. I did all on my own! I love weight watchers, that is a gret program, but what I did was a lot of protein, chicken, ground turkey burgers (no bun), lots of sweet potatoes, greens, hardboiled eggs, no whites, no white sugar, flour or rice. Any how, the secret to losing weight or eating healthy is getting your mind set around it. Do it for you! Nothing is better than feeling good about your self. Warmer weather always gets me going too! Also switch to almond milk, it’s better then soy milk, I think.

    • sbranch says:

      (I thought I replied to this, so if the gremlins are out and we’re doing this twice, forgive me, and them!) But I just have to say 27 pounds is fabulous! Congratulations Peggy! I do my own program, almost exactly like yours … by why no egg whites? I haven’t heard that one before. I agree, getting your mind set on the idea of doing it is more than half the battle!

  11. Nellie says:

    Congratulations to Sally and Patty! I’m sure they know how lucky they are!

    Lovely springtime pictures on Martha’s Vineyard.

    Quite a welcoming committee you have waiting at the door.:-)

    Here, the sun plays hide and seek with the clouds. Our rainfall totals more than 12 inches greater than our average rainfall for this point in the year. The garden spot just will not dry out for tilling, so there has been nothing planted in the vegetable garden.:-( My husband is anxious to have a chance to do some planting.

    Keep up the good work, Susan!

    xo Nellie

  12. Susie (NY) says:

    You even make exercising sound like fun! Congrats to Patty and Sally on being the lucky winners of the books. One of these days I just know it will be me. (fingers and toes crossed, and my eyes too!). Loved seeing your ‘kitty committee’ watching for you through the screen. Adorable!

  13. Daralyn Ruchalski says:


    I have heard back from the Book Passage in Marin county. I hope you will try to get in here, they do wonderful events. Lecture style, dinners and luncheons I can’t see why a tea party would not fit right in! ….. here was reply number one

    Yes, feel free to tell Susan that we need an official request from someone to have an event. Generally that’s her publicist, but if she isn’t working with one, that would come directly from her. It doesn’t have to be formal – just her introducing herself, telling us her book, providing info about it (a press release or catalog copy), letting us know if she’s local, and if not, what her timeframe is for visiting the bay area. If we need info she doesn’t provide in order to make a determination, we’ll let her know!

    Lastly, please let her know that we’re currently booking July and beyond –that we currently have over 300 requests in the queue and have to respond in the order we receive them (this can generally take 3-4 weeks as we have to review requests while actually running our event programming) –

    and that she can send the request to my colleague Alison Bildsoe at [email protected].

    I am still waiting to hear back from the local Sonoma county book store. They already specifically do tea party events. I will let you know as soon as possible, I would love to see you here and let you enjoy God’s country … key mood music here ♫

    • sbranch says:

      Wonderful Daralyn, thank you so much! I will get in touch with Alison! Book Passage is one of the stores I’d love to go to, we did a signing there a very long time ago and it was wonderful. I hope to see you there!

  14. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Hi Susan,
    First and foremost, congrats to Patty and Sally. I love the idea of the Blessings Journal and I plan on buying 2, one for me and one to surprise a friend. I know you will love your books!
    Now…I am feeling guilty about this exercise thing. After 30 years of running, I finally had to stop a few years ago because of a sciatic nerve issue. And it didn’t take long to gain 10 pounds! If I would just jump out of bed in the mornings and hit the floor doing some stretches and a little anaerobic exercise, I know I would feel better…..but this IPad keeps me in bed in the morning….reading Susan Branch and comments of all my girlfriends, checking email and the weather…..and then yikes! it’s time to go to work! So while I am a very healthy eater (although I do love my sweets) , the pounds are creeping on!
    Love the Katherine Hepburn quote. I have admired her all my adult life! I believe she would swim daily as her form of exercise. What an incredible lady she was!
    Then as I scroll down through the pictures of this post, my first thought is “oh no! That’s Jack and Girl in the Pound!” That is certainly the look on their faces. Oh no, that’s a screen door and they are just left behind! LOL
    Love everyone’s diet and good eating tips. If Katherine Hepburn were still alive, she would be saying, “discipline girls. you must have discipline.”

    • sbranch says:

      “OH No, Jack and Girl in the Pound.” LOL. Yup! Off they go! NO… never! I full faith in you Chris, when you want it, you’ll get it. xo

  15. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    Susan, have you ever thought of designing a “Birthday/Anniversary book”?

    • sbranch says:

      The Blessings book could easily be used for that … has the spaces and the dates …Are you thinking of something different?

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Hadn’t thought of that–good idea! I bought one so I could use it. Might have to buy another one to use for blessings!
        🙂 I originally was thinking of something different, more similar to birthday books I’ve had in the past. But when I think of it, so many of them had only one line per day and I always ended up crowding, trying to get more than one name on the same line. The Blessings book has more space, so would work much better. I like to write the name and year for both birthdays and anniversaries. You always think you will remember how old someone is or how long they have been married, but I’ve found that isn’t necessarily so! 🙂 And the older I’m getting, having lost my own parents and seeing how families drift apart, the more I’m trying to send birthday cards, anniversary cards, etc., to friends in the same situation, realizing how nice it is to get a card or even a phone call remembering those occasions. (It really helps to be retired, though, I’ll admit–I never would have had the time to even think about it before!) 🙂

      • Jan says:

        That’s what I use my Days book for – birthdays and anniversaries, including the year born or wed to keep track of how many years it’s been, as well as a record of deaths, new homes, graduations – any milestones or dates of significance. I’ve used the same book for awhile and just keep adding dates to it!

        • sbranch says:

          It sounds like you could make a whole life in there. How wonderful.

          • Mary in Phoenix says:

            So, the best calendar I ever got was a perpetual calendar I hang on the wall … long and skinny with a line for each day of the month. On that line I write names of friends who have b’days, anniversaries, etc. It hangs above my desk year after year. I am amazed how many lines are filled … and people are always amazed I remember their special days (without even having to open up a book!). These are REALLY hard to find now (mine was by Mary Engelbreit). I did find one at Paper Source but its not nearly as cute as the one on my wall. Maybe someday you’ll design one of these “calendars of birthdays, anniversaries and special days”. It’s so awesome to have! XO

  16. Hello Everyone….I have to tell you about my new adventure that I embarked on this morning. Jim asked me yesterday if I would get up and go fishing with him this morning???? :O Oh my I thought I really never have gone fishing I’m a little squimish about the worms/hooks/seeing the poor fish flopping etc. My next thought was 4am (how early Dad would head out)….Jim then added we will leave around 8am phew….so off we went. We had a blast, and I could even cast and yes he did put the poor worm on the hook and I kept that same partial worm 🙁 the entire time which Jim said was odd. I ended up catching 15 smallish fish mostly blue gills and 2 small bass…they were practically jumping on the hook!!! haha So, check off my bucket list not that I had ever really wanted to do it; but, now I think it will be fun from time to time. I did hear that I should “learn” to bait my hook…UGH just seems cruel to me? maybe a lure would be more suitable? I came home and went across the street to help Donna (80) plant her flowers and then we went shopping for Moss Roses my absolute favorite summer annual and I got those all planted before the rain came. I’m tired but it is a good tired and if you would of told me 2 days ago I would be going fishing I would not have believed it. Angler….well maybe a little soon to add to my resume?? haha My 93 yr. old Dad was proud and when I called to tell him I was on my way to fish (he loved to fish) he told me to have fun and be careful….how sweet. We had a surprise, two Canadian Geese honked and landed in the water right next to us..SPLASH…no fish for awhile!!

    • sbranch says:

      Did you see the movie “A River Runs Through It?” There are some river fishing scenes in there that are SO beautiful, you just want to GO there.

  17. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan!! springtime and the shedding of the jackets, sweaters, sweat pants and sweat shirts always brings the ultimate shock and horror…. that dang wintertime body explosion becomes entirely too we go again…yogurt..frozen and Greek, lots of vegetables and salads…fruits and grilled fish and lots of popcorn to help curb the munchies……I am a PE teacher, so I move around a lot..everyday..but I still fight the good fight!! older now..metabolism is slower..but I am still going…..bottom line… less ~ move more…… wonderful inspiring post.. btw..where’d ya get that picture of me in the pink bikini?!?!?! xo love, cindy

  18. Terry Lynne Pezzi says:

    Hi Susan,
    I love your books and blog posts but was disheartened to see your 1 item “meals”. No one should ever eat like that, especially one who disdains fad diets and is concerned about good health. Your artichoke and mayo meal = 150 calories (60 for the artichoke and 90 for the tbsp of mayo). It is NOT healthy to eat so little. Ditto for sharing a sweet potato for a meal at even fewer calories. You and your man are, indeed, unique in being able to find sustenance in 100 to 150 calories per meal…especially your man who should require more calories than you. Enjoyable healthy meals can *include* vegetables like an artichoke or a sweet potato, but they are not meant to be the main course (unless you are a vegetarian and have plenty of other veggies, whole grains, etc.). All one needs to do is eat what they like (obviously avoiding unhealthy foods but including the normal components of meals), just in smaller quantities. I could cry to think of you and your man sitting down to a meal of a shared sweet potato, even a large one.
    Terry Lynne Pezzi (FL)

    • sbranch says:

      Don’t worry, we eat a large breakfast, a good sized lunch, but try to eat lighter in the evening. We don’t eat 150 calories per meal!:-) Don’t cry, I promise we are ok, and fat as little piglets! I’m happy losing a pound a week.

  19. Doreen Strain (from Florida) says:

    Hi Sue and all the “Girlfriends” ( hand waving in the air)! I know the topic is Health and Skinny talk for this post but being the “good girlfriend” that I am….I just had to share this recipe. Spring time makes me think of having tea out on the porch while I watch the afternoon slowly make its way into the world. Sometimes I have a lovely scone to go with my tea with just a tad ( only saying that because this is a “skinny” blog post today!!!!!) of Devonshire Cream on it. Well, I have found a wonderful recipe for the Devonshire Cream I want to share. It’s originally from Taste of Home. Here goes: 1 pkg. (3 oz.) Philadelphia brand cream cheese, softened., 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream. 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 1 cup of heavy whipping cream. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in sour cream and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add whipping cream. Beat on medium speed until combined; beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until serving. Yields 3-1/4 cups. This is great plain or you can add a touch of flavoring (almond for instance) to it. This recipe is excellent. So girlfriends, make yourself this treat, throw yourself in a chair out side in the yard or by a window inside you home with a great view, and enjoy the afternoon as you watch the birds flutter around and the flowers stretch towards the sun. Ahhhh yes, the simple abundance of it all….ya gotta love it! Oh and don’t forget to take in a few deep breaths of that wonderful fresh spring air while your at it. FOSB 4~Ever! ~Doreen ~

    • sbranch says:

      Yum! That looks delicious. How could you go wrong with those ingredients! Thank you Doreen.

    • Oh My! Sounds really yummy . . well, I can jog an extra few hundred yards to work it of, right? How long will it keep? Could it be frozen I wonder?

      • Doreen Strain (from Florida) says:

        Hahahaha! I really can’t answer your questions Deborah because there is NEVER any left when I make it. (I say as I lick my finger from running it around the empty bowl.) I’d be afraid it might seperate if you froze it and then defrosted it. Very quick and easy to make. I’m positive you’re going to love it. Let me know if any of you give it a try. I’d be interested to know if you think it’s as good as I think it is! Enjoy! FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  20. Wendy Louise says:

    I just stopped in to say; ” I Love You “, you are such the kindred spirit and every time I am here in blog land with you and all the girlfriends my heart goes a flutter ! I feel so good doing the healthy eating, planting my garden and enjoying all the spring flowers. My cottage is so beautiful with spring blooms and my tulips are just blooming.The Cherry trees, Magnolia, Apple trees, Crab apple and now the Dogwoods. The Forsythia’s blooms are saying good bye but the ground is a beautiful yellow. The PJM’s are so big and lavender pink they sound like a nature’s orchestra with the bumbles ! I am going to have to get some of those “Angelique tulips” this fall ! They are gorgeous !!! We had beautiful rain yesterday and it was glorious, I went out and played in it, then came in and took a wonderful bubble bath. Spring is here and I plan on enjoying every minute of it. 🙂 I am going shopping for Artichokes today, I haven’t had one in ages and they are cute to look at too. Happy Spring everyone and you my bestest blogger friend in the whole wide world….oxoxoxo

  21. Congratulations to the winners! 🙂 Love the tips, esp with them in your painting <3

    and love the gardening pictures so much.

    Spring has sprung this week on Prince Edward Island. It's raining today but we really needed it. I've been out gardening when I finish a day of grading… lol

    writing time now.
    all caught up now and I was only 2 posts behind this time. I'm doing much better, eh? 🙂

    Denise of Ingleside

    • Jack says:

      Grading? Hmmm, what kind of tractor do you drive? People drive by and just never stop to think about how rough a grading job can be, especially in rock infested soil. First you have to get that darn rock out, then come up with enough fill soil and hope you don’t hit another rock in the process. Riding that darn tractor can just give you sitter fits — it helps to get one of those foam rubber seat pads and tie it on tight. Good luck, hope you don’t have too many miles to go.

      • sbranch says:

        For some reason I’m not picturing Denise on a tractor with “sitter fits” 🙂 But she did say grading!

  22. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    Congratulations to the girlfriends who won the books. I am one of your “good fat friends”, but I too am working on it. The Doc on my husband’s ship sends out memos now and then, and they are having a vegetable of the month. This month it was artichoke, so when Arnie came home he looked at his salad and turned up his nose so to speak. I just said, Tell the Doc I got the memo! The Doc laughed when he heard. LOL

  23. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    PS What are the kitties thinking??

  24. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    Thank you, dear, for this inspiration! I so desperately NEED to do something good for myself and have started so must continue to carry on! Love the tips and the artichoke recipe! Never tried making one but LOVE artichokes from the can….fresh can only be that much more yummy!!! Happy day to you and Joe and Girl and Jack! xoxo

  25. Jack says:

    Just so you know —- Jeannie so loves her flowers she takes them from room to room — like when we ate…… there were the flowers — we moved to the living room to watch the news — with the flowers ….I only hope she empties the water before I have to sleep with them!

  26. cheryl salter says:

    I am looking for a pen pal abroad. England/scotland or france. I am 62 but feel like 32. I have lived the 60’s and 70’s era to the max and proud of it. Like to think I am a product of all those good vibes and thoughts of that generation. I am a romantic at heart, way too sentimental, my heart runs deep and on my shirt sleeve. Everything it seem Susan branch talks about strikes a cord with me and speaks to me like it is coming from me. I so enjoy her and all her writing. I am looking for a new friend to talk to and share with (who knows we may end up the bestest of friends) my girlfriends live all over but none close so get lonely for girl talk. my family is all men (grown sons and one grandson) I long to talk about the things they arent interested in. How about it? wanna be my friend?
    email me and time will tell

  27. Joan S says:

    A lovely tribute to your mom. I hope you will be able to have a book signing at Book Passages for all your NorCal girlfriends!

    • sbranch says:

      Be sure to suggest that to them the next time you are in there … I’m going to try, but they are a very popular place for authors to go!

  28. Deborah Norling says:

    I love the pic of Girl Kitty and Jack waiting for you…looking like…”we are soooo bored “…..My cat kids bask in the front window…then when they spot me walking up the drive their eyes get huge and round and they all look like they’re about ready to yell….”stranger danger !! “….then I walk through the door and they look at me as if to say….Thank goodness you made it into the house safely…you wouldn’t believe the creature we spotted out there just before you walked in…and…we want cat treats please….!

  29. Cindy Holshouser says:

    Last week I met my weight loss goal and celebrated at my WW meeting – 32 pounds gone. I feel so much better. I have been making a lot of WW recipes since I love to cook. One of my favorites is a spinach salad. The dressing is made with olive oil, honey, poppy seeds, and white wine vinegar. I top the salad with toasted slivered almonds. The GI problems I had occasionally for years have completely gone away with this healthier food intake. It isn’t easy but it is so worth it:)

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