Waiting for a Rainstorm . . .

Hi girls, here’s a bit o’ Musica for you.  We are here waiting for our next rainstorm, the sky has been getting darker all day.  It’s been raining something like every four days and it’s so green here that when the sun comes through the trees it reflects light from the moving leaves and dapples the living room walls with bright greenish splotches that ripple and sparkle like a swimming pool.  June in all its glory.  I’ve been in my studio, happy as a clam, painting and making new art . . . putting pen and brush to paper.

Painting a few new little things.  It’s been so long since I sent out a WILLARD I wanted to paint bits of new art to decorate my next one.  That’s my project very soon, to write us a new newsletter!  (If by any chance you are not signed up to get my newsletter, which is free from me to you, or would like to know why we call it WILLARD, or would like to sign up a friend ~ you can click on that link and all questions will be answered on our sign-up page.)

I’m keeping busy, waiting for the first copies of A Fine Romance to arrive from the printer so we can make our final arrangements for book signings. Back in February we had a drawing for one of the pre-publication copies — remember?  Gail Matheson out in California was our winner?  Well, her book should be here any day now!  She could not possibly be more excited about it than me!  In only a few more months they’ll all come in.  In the meantime, I wait patiently, I work and garden, hang clothes out to dry on the sunny days, try to eat healthy, read, cuddle under a blanket in the rain, paint, and take long walks with Joe.

It’s summer and for the most part the sun is shining, the bees are buzzing, flutter-bys are skimming the tops of everything . . .

. . .  hydrangeas are beginning to bloom under the bird feeders outside our kitchen window.

In fact there are lots of things in bloom — all my little vases are filled . . .

. . . and spotted here and there around the house.  That’s my first “Just Joey” rose this year mixed with purple catmint (nepeta).  I had to give Jack and Girl a tray full of nepeta so they would leave this alone.  It’s working.  They’re getting enough of it and aren’t going after my vases.  (Yet.)  We’re doing all the summer things as if they were firsts . . . it seems so long and it really is — at this time last year we weren’t even here — we were in England.  We missed our Martha’s Vineyard May and June completely.  I put a big glass pitcher of water in the sun yesterday — for sun tea, which I’m drinking now, mixed with a little lemonade for sweetness . . .

Because cold weather takes up a good portion of our year ~ from late September to late May, hot chocolate and cups of tea rule the day.  The very idea of doing this again is exciting — a gift!  Our refrigerator is kind of a dream-come-true right now.  Not only does it have sun tea in it, but . . .

It’s got ice cold Gazpacho!  In fact I made an extra batch for a girlfriend who broke the wrist of her dominant hand and now has one of the biggest old-fashioned, heavy, plaster casts in the history of broken wrists on her arm (above her elbow, covering most of her fingers).  She can’t cut food, can’t open wine (just when she needs it most), or twist off jar lids, can’t do dishes, can’t drive, can’t write, can only peck on the key board.  Poor Baby.  So we took her a pitcher full of Gazpacho and had a nice visit sitting on the big ole square screened-in porch of her farmhouse, with the sky-blue painted ceiling, on the wrought iron furniture with the curlicues and the comfy cushions that had belonged to her parents, drinking wine, listening to insects skimming the grass and glinting in the sun, watching red-winged blackbirds and cardinals at her feeders while smelling the salt air and the corn growing in the sun-dappled field at the back of her property.  We did this until the stars came out.  She thinks we did her a favor, we think she did us one.

In case I didn’t convince everyone the other day of how amazingly delicious this soup is, I thought I’d show you how easy it is to make.  You start by putting a cup and a quarter of chilled tomato juice into a blender.

To that you add one tomato and half of a peeled cucumber, both roughly chopped . . .

Then add vinegar, oil, a little sugar (unless you have tomatoes from your garden, then you really don’t need sugar) and cayenne . . . (I’ll put the recipe at the end).  This soup makes you feel like you’ve been zinged with good healthy things . . .

Blend well until smooth . . .  pour blended ingredients into a large container or pitcher…

. . .  then add another 2 1/2 c. tomato juice to the mixture . . .

Chop fresh vegetables into bite-sized pieces, cucumber, celery, red onion, zucchini, tomato and green pepper . . . pieces small enough so that when you’re eating it, several can fit on a spoon  at the same time.

And add them to the tomato mixture . . .

Put in some green onion tops (scallions) — or chives from your garden if you have them.  Stir it all up good . . .  then, a bit more of your own special brand of spice . . .

Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and chill it all well . . .

I added chunks of cooked shrimp … and garnished it with a little sour cream and a fresh chive flower . . . but it’s good just plain.  More than good.

The 1/4 tsp. of cayenne I mentioned earlier is my new addition to this recipe.  It’s optional, but it gives the nicest little kick, just a little, not too much.  Stir it in at any time, or when you’re about to start the blender.  I also mix the red wine vinegar, half and half, with good balsamic vinegar.  But it’s good no matter what.

It’s that wonderful time of year when it’s easy to fill our fridges with the best produce — crisp and crunchy vegetables fresh from the farmer’s market and brimming with vitamins. And it’s almost time for my favorite of all . . .

Watermelon!  Can’t wait!  I love it cut up on top of plain yogurt with a little bit of our homemade granola.  Right now, besides the tea and the Gazpacho, our fridge is heaven —  chock full of pop-in-your-mouth seasonal goodness — we have organic red grapes, a big bowlful of ice-cold pink grapefruit and orange segments drowning in their own citrusy juice, and a bowl of crunchy homemade coleslaw.  YUM!  And these . . .

Is this not a pure miracle?  That compost and water and sun produces these in our very own garden?  And they are nothing like the ones we get in our local markets, which are expensive, sadly juiceless, and yet, every year, we are lured by the rosy redness of them believing them to be the food of the gods.  No more, we cannot be lured, it is no longer necessary.  We have our own strawberry patch.

Which is a miracle because we didn’t plant one . . .

See the rim of the terra cotta pot there?  That’s a strawberry pot. Two years ago I planted a few plants in it.  And remember how I suggested that you grow things that like living in your area?  Well, apparently strawberries love this island!  Who knew? They jumped the rim of the pot last year, and this year they’ve spread over half my picket fence garden!  Don’t you just love nature? Isn’t she amazing?  It’s so nice to be able to give away organic juicy fresh-picked strawberries to our friends!  Strawberry Fields Forever!


A couple more things before I go . . . first off, on the SUMMER Banners:  We did sell out of them, but for you that have been asking, I made a special request and a few more will be coming to our web store in the next couple of weeks.

If you wanted one and weren’t able to get it in time, this will be your chance.

 Also, remember the Cupcake Banner Janie sent me for my birthday?  In that  photo?  The perfect little birthday present is what I thought when I opened it — just adorable.  I asked her to make some more for us.  They come with their own little envelope just like the Summer Banners did — and with a card that you can sign to your sister, mom, daughter, best friend or grammie.  You will see the Cupcake Birthday Banners in our web store today.  I also asked Kellee if she could make us some Do-it-Yourself Patriotic Banners . . . and she said, “SURE, I can!”  (She is a big believer in that fantastic word “Yes” — another reason I love her so much!)

She sent me one of the kits so I could put the banners together myself . . . it was easy and fast ~ my two favorite things in kit production.  Each kit comes with enough red and white string to make two sizes of banner (both included) . . . the smaller one, the one on the calendar with the Cupcakes above (which you could also string between two-chopsticks as a cake-topper if you wanted) . . . and this larger one on my stove . . . 

It’s the little things in life!  Thank you Kellee and Janie!  Bye girls, I have to bring the clothes in before the rain starts ~ have a wonderful day!  XOXO

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422 Responses to Waiting for a Rainstorm . . .

  1. Jeannine Leonard says:

    It is raining so hard today that I might have to look up how to build an ark.
    I also found strawberry plants growing in my garden with a couple of strawberries on them. What a wonderful surprise!
    I cannot wait to read the future edition of the new Willard. I always enjoy what you have written for all of us to enjoy.

  2. Julia says:

    Oh no! I was just trying to figure out how to spell gazpacho and I lost
    my post ! Another Lucy moment. I live on a hill and yesterday I pulled
    up the back hatch of the car and a cantaloupe rolled out of the back
    and I had to chase it all the way to the street before I caught it. It
    was still in the bag, too! As I was saying I love to hear what all of you
    girls are doing. It’s pouring down rain here and the soup is going in the
    pot now. Thanks for all of the good ideas!

  3. Nancy B says:

    Whaaat? I’m first?? So glad you are enjoying your summer on MV this year. You are the busiest gal I know. I rather surprised myself in May by hanging wallpaper in my bedroom all by myself. Pretty good for a 74 year-old, I think! (I will admit my hubby did hold the tape measure for me a couple of times.) I’m looking forward to the next Willard.

    Happy Summer!
    Nancy (from Bakersfield)

    • sbranch says:

      Good Job Nancy! Wow, I have never attempted hanging my own wallpaper. I just stand and direct. I do love wallpaper!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Good for you, Nancy! Wallpapering is a wonderful skill to have [think of the $$ you’re saving] & one that has completely eluded me – but my mother was excellent at it. In fact she was good at ALL those “cutting and pasting” skills [says her daughter the kindergarten teacher]. She could wallpaper, wrap presents and cut “Contact” paper [remember that, Girlfriends?] for shelves and drawers better than anyone I knew [and still the champ in my book]. :>)

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

    good afternoon Susan, girlfriends. how are all of you on this lovely June day?? Susan if you need some sunshine and warmth to get that laundry dried, bring it on over here, plenty of sunshine and warm temps to dry the laundry really quick. of course you will have to keep an eye on the turkeys as Nipper loves to yank things off the line and run with it in her beak and you chasing after her. Tom Tom is no help and just as bad. but I have room on my line and you are welcome to use it if you like. awww lazy June days and rain showers, love it, love it!!! I love to sit on the front porch in my rocker and watch the rain come down and smell the air which has a maple syrup smell in it. I ususally have a bowl of beans to be snapped or peas to be shelled. makes sitting out there all the more pleasant. I love watching the rain come down and wash the dust off of the leaves and flowers, and watch the clouds go sailing by. sometimes we get lightning and I love to watch that also. I just found a trick used by my grandma for getting coffee stains out of antique lace doilies and I was so shocked that it worked perfectly. and so simple, all you need are 2 eggs and a bottle of beer. pour the beer into a bowl, add the 2 eggs, mix it a bit and put the lace or doilies in and move them around in the liquid a bit. leave them in for a few minutes, take out the lace doilies and rinse in cool water and the stains are gone, just hand wash them as usual. great for removing coffee stains. I also learned another trick, to get rid of water rings on your wood furniture, rub it with mayonnaise and wipe it off, the rings go and your wood furniture gets polished. my cats sure liked that, had a problem with them coming over and licking the table, they could smell the mayonnaise for a bit after. I couldn’t smell it, but the table sure came out clean. off to go get the laundry off the line, and get things ironed. have a great day today everyone. hugs….. 🙂

    • Julia says:

      Chasing a turkey! That’s worse than chasing a cantaloupe!
      Gave me a laugh! Thanks!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        you’re welcome Julia, don’t drop that cantaloupe here… the birds will have a feast with it…they love fruit.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Flashback, Pat! I can remember being REALLY small [maybe 2 or 3] and sitting with my Grandma on her porch in the Summer, helping her shell peas into a round ceramic bowl. Once in a while she’d pop a raw pea in her mouth and crunch it – and that was my cue to do the same – yum! Is it just fond memories… or did vegetables taste better then? :>)

        • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

          I have to agree Janet, the veggies tasted better when I was little and helping grandma on her front porch snapping beans or shelling peas. it might be fond memories but I have to think they tasted better then, how else could she have gotten us to eat them… LOL!!!! 🙂

  5. Ooooh – sending sympathetic healing wishes to your friend with the broken wrist! Summer is an awful time to be stuck with a giant cast! What a good friend you are to bring her delicious soup and good company. :0)
    Love the little banners! Will have to make a few for myself to push me into summer decorating – still can’t believe how far behind I am! Thanks for the friendly nudge. ❤

  6. Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

    Hi Susan,
    I love our little visits! It’s lovely how we have all gotten to know one another over the past two years (although we have known YOU all the way back to The Heart of the Home!). This past year, your blog really, really helped to make my first year of retirement extra happy!! Our gardens are very green in the Chicago area, too. At the moment, we are between showers. So, it’s the perfect time to run out and pick some bouquets!
    Happy summer days!

  7. Rosemary says:

    Oh heavens! I was rattling on in my post and lost it, too! What is wrong with me, you say? Who knows!
    So in love with the banners. Must make some for my friends who are coming tomorrow for Tuesday sewing day. AND, maybe some gazpacho, which looks delicious. This afternoon, right?
    I have just taken the sheets off the line, and made the bed all fresh and clean. We have had a very lovely spring and are fortunate to have avoided the terrible tornadoes, which have been about 2-3 hours from where I live. Bless the people who have had so much destruction. We have now jumped into summer today as the temp starts toward the triple digits.
    Will look forward to Willard and then THE BOOK. Wonderful.
    Better get busy!

    • sbranch says:

      Have a wonderful day Rosemary! I know, watching these storms has made me count my blessings even more. I wish we could calm all this wild weather back down to human size. xo

  8. Such a beautiful post… The first (and only) time I visited the Vineyard it was this time in June. I can’t tell you… oh, wait, I’m sure you know!… how heavenly the island roses were. I never forgot them. SIGH- I dream of the day I come back there again! <3

  9. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Good Afternoon~
    The rain has finally stopped here…I think!~ Not much blooming here right now but my chives, pansies, petunias and catmint~ purple and yellows~ The animal world though is in full swing ~ a robin has nested in my pink rose bush by the front door and in the back yard a house wren is chasing the woodpecker away from her nest~ the skunk who was hoping to make her “nest” under my shed has picked up~ I hope~ and moved elsewhere but not until she successfully destroyed my foxgloves~twice!~ my own fault I guess for having a St. Francis statue in my shed waiting to get put up~ maybe I better re~think that one???
    ~Have a Good day~ Sunny for now~hoping for 80 tomorrow ~

  10. Pat Stansel says:

    What a delightful post!!! Sounds as though you’re really celebrating the beginning of
    summer. I’m going to make some sun tea— so easy & refreshing.
    I’ve been longing to see one of your stove shelf scenes. They are so adoable & it shows how you love making your home fun and welcoming!

  11. Dawn says:

    Oh it’s so nice to visit you here, in this place, your blog, that feels like we are meeting somewhere in the middle of your living room and mine.

    Your strawberry patch is glorious. Rafael’s grandmother has a lot of those tiny, tiny sweet strawberries in her garden, and every day there are a few more ripe ones that he picks and pops in his mouth. He is learning about ‘ripe’ and ‘unripe.’

    On a walk in the woods on Sunday, there was a little yellow leaf on the ground. In June, I always find that first yellow leaf that makes me smile. And it always makes me think of you!

    xoxo Say hi to Joe!

    • sbranch says:

      Rafael is growing so quickly, learning ripe and unripe. You are the perfect mother for that little boy. xoxo

  12. It is late here, the sun hastens on it’s way to you Across The Pond. I just dipped in here and . . A new entry! What a purrfect end to the day!

    Our rain has been waiting in the wings all day, temperatures dropped, winds picked up, and just after tea (the meal) the first big spots splatted onto my steps. Not complaining, the garden is bone dry and crying out for a good soaking. Three weeks without rain, I haven’t mowed for a fortnight, and it doesn’t need it either! I am sad that my tissue~like poppies will be trashed by morning, but there are over 70 more blooms to come out. I hope they wait until the rainy days are over.

    I made ice tea today too! I took eight Twinings Cranberry, Raspberry, and Elderflower bags in a teapot and made a very strong brew. Strained into a glass pitcher and added an equal amount of Club Soda (but sparkling white wine would be lovely too)

    I have Alpine strawberries that run riot through all my borders. They are such a sweet treat for me when I move a leaf and find a warm, sun~ripened berry when I’m gardening in the borders. I’ve had to start over with my big strawberries this year, I have 11 plants and so far they are all in flower too, with two runners so more plants for next year.

    Guess what? I started trying to make banners for my pen friends and I got half way through and found I was writing “Happy Autumn” . . what am I like? Autumn obsessed that’s for sure! Well, look at it this way, I got a jump on Autumn letters. Stocked up on lots of lovely stamps too . . just using up the last of the Jane Austen set, starting on the Great Britons set next, and stocked up on the Coronation 60th Anniversary ones of Her Majesty last weekend.

    Starting to yawn now, it is bed time . . Nos Da Susan, Nos Da Girlfriends

    Thinking of You All from Across The Pond
    Debs xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      You’ve been busy. Can’t believe you haven’t had rain in 3 weeks. Is that some sort of record? 🙂 xoxo Happy day Debs.

      • No, not a record. Back in the day (when I was 19) we went for months without a drop. We had water rationing, had to collect our water from standpipes in the streets, and more! It went on for months. Hard to believe it after the run of bad summers we’ve had. Just eighteen months ago parts of England were on hosepipe bans while parts of Wales and England were under feet of flood water! ’tis a funny old world we live in!
        Precious poppies are flattenend 🙁 but the garden had a good soak 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          I’m surprised, I thought you always had rain! I guess there’s no “always” anywhere, but that’s what I thought!

          • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

            Susan, I’m with you…. I thought Ireland had tons of rain all the time. Well, most of the time anyway. Also, England getting tons of rain. Deborah, so sorry about your Poppies!

          • sbranch says:

            Uh oh, now I’m not sure because I thought she was in Wales! 🙂 I need to get a map of the world and some little red pins!

          • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

            Susan, you’re right…… Deborah is in Wales. Isn’t that right by Ireland? Same type of weather I would think.

          • sbranch says:

            Before I went, I might not have been able to answer you, but I found out where everything is! Wales has a common border with England — it’s off to the left…Ireland is totally separate and even further out to the left when you are looking at a map.

        • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

          You’re going to need A LOT of little red pins!! 🙂

  13. "Auntie" says:

    Oh your poor friend, with the very-broken arm. -pout-

    What a lovely post, about waiting for a rain-storm. Hope it doesn’t do any damage around your neck of the woods.


  14. Bev says:

    I am from the deep South…very deep South. And I can tell you a secret to amazing sweet tea. After you have brewed it, when you add your sugar, add 1/4 tsp of baking soda. Just see what that does. Sweet tea…summer….sigh….

    Cheery wave from

  15. Jackie P says:

    June is for flowers! Everything’s in bloom, looking lush and green. Last week I treated myself to a Kolkwitzia Pink Cloud after seeing the beautiful one in your yard. Not an easy shrub to find in the nurseries here. I was about to give up on finding one this summer when, lo, standing all alone in full bloom, one was waiting to come home with me. Meant to be.❤

    The rain is heading our way, too. ☂ My peonies are in full bloom — I ran outside and picked several bouquets before the rain beats down on them. They are my favorite flowers along with roses, irises, lilacs, hygrangeas, etc.! June is a delight in the garden. AND, for the first time ever (10 years!!!) my kousa dogwood is blooming! It must have heard the rumors that I was about to yank it out and put something in its place. Go figure!?

    • sbranch says:

      Give your Pink Cloud plenty of room to grow — it will grow like a fountain if you do. Gorgeous!

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        A favorite of mine which is a “cottage garden” type of plant is the “Mallow” or “Malva” perennial. The “Zebrina” has pale purple-pink blossoms with darker veins. The whole plant is a cousin to Hollyhocks–only smaller. “Self-seeds, full sun, blooms late spring/summer to early fall, good in containers, cut flowers good, attracts butterlfies and hummngbirds, easy to grow, drought resistant.” Try googling it–there are pictures of it! 🙂

      • Julie H from Michigan says:

        Here in my neighborhood in Michigan we call this bush a “Beauty Bush”. Years ago when I moved in this neighborhood I had an elderly neighbor. She knew I was planting bushes that flowered. She suggested a Beauty Bush until I finally planted one. It has been years since I planted it and my friendly neighbor has passed away but every spring when my Beauty Bush blooms I think of her!


  16. Dolores says:

    I have made sun tea before but have never even tried the Gazpacho soup. But you make it sound so easy and delicious I am planning on making it this weekend when my daughter comes home for Father’s Day! I think they will love it!
    Love the little banners! Definitely on my shopping list, thanks so much for including us.
    I am also on my way out the door to see if I have any surprise strawberries hiding out in the garden.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh they will, they will look at you with hearts in their eyes! I promise! I know because that’s how Joe is looking at me when he eats this!

  17. Rhonda D. says:

    Hello Susan…hi everyone. You say it is looking like a rainstorm coming your way. I love to hear what your weather is doing, then I know what to expect here in the maritimes very soon. We will probably have rain moving in by tomorrow. Your hydrangeas are absolutely gorgeous. It has always been a dream of mine to plant hollies and hydrangeas…I think this will be the year that dream comes true. I’m so excited. You always say “it is the little things.” I was just thinking yesterday that we hadn’t had a Willard in a while, so I’m excited for that too. I had my book of Willard’s with me today at an appointment and the girls were all asking about it…and it was my pleasure to explain it to them. I haven’t been eating all that well lately, but all the delicious looking food here today has certainly spiked my appetite. Susan, you’ve taught me well and inspired me well. While I’ve been going through treatments and healing, I’ve had this surge of inspriration going on (and time to attend to it). I’ve been trying my hand at doing some writing about my new granddaughter. I’m writing about her first year…all the exciting goings on. I think I could just bust or something. What better way to pass away the time.

    I had a Dr. appointment today. My treatments are now all finished and he seems to think that I am on the mend. Said he sees too many signs that point in the direction of healing to think otherwise. I find this all a bit overwhelming, but I’m happy with his report and still hanging in there. I will know by fall where I stand with everything. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. They’ve certainly been appreciated.

    • sbranch says:

      I am happy to hear you are through with your treatments … and the burst of creativity is the frosting on the cake! Writing, planting, maybe even cooking, creating is good for the soul . . . Good for you Rhonda, wishing you the very best. xoxo

      • Hello Rhonda, so happy your treatments are behind you…stay positive and before you know it good health will once again be yours!!! Enjoy all the fresh veggies/fruits in season right now and get outside and breathe in all the fresh air that you can. Congrats and Blessings.

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Good to hear from you, Rhonda, as I’ve had you on my mind and have been wondering how things are going. Sounds like good–Hurrah!!! Glad to hear your good report! Now you can rest and recover, enjoying the summer! 🙂

      • Rhonda D. says:

        Susan, this burst of creativity is insane, definitely the frosting on the cake. I don’t know where it is coming from. Well, yes, I do know…one source is here on earth (her name is Susan); and the other source is God. People say that I sound so good, but I’ve had amazing creative inspiration from both sources. Creating is sooo good for the soul…finding it so healing for me. I set up a card table to put all my creative items on, to keep the creative juices flowing. (It’s overflowing with Susan Branch ideas). And I’m happy!

        • sbranch says:

          That touches my heart Rhonda! Love to hear your happiness!

          • Marsha MacLean says:

            Rhonda! What wonderful news! I am so very glad to hear those creative juices are flowing through you as you head down the recovery road… All of us girlfriends are sending prayers and happy thoughts your way!
            Blessings, Marsha

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      So pleased to hear this good report!

    • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

      Rhonda, what wonderful wonderful news!!! I am so happy to hear that you are on the mend and that your doctors are pleased with your progress. Slowly but surely your appitite will return…..meanwhile, eat what you want when you want it! Enjoy journaling about your grand baby. It will be a blessing for you, and someday for her, as well 🙂

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Oh, sweet girlfriend Rhonda,
      You have come to my mind so many times in these past weeks and I have been praying for you–that God would be healing you and letting you rest in his mighty power. Soooo glad for the good report–just in time to relax and enjoy summer. Continue to soak in the sun and Be Good To Yourself!!!
      Love you!

    • Ann says:

      Hi Rhonda, so good to hear you are feeling better. Girlfriend Power!

      • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

        hello Rhonda, glad to hear you are doing so much better, way to go girlfriend!!!! hugs…. 🙂

        • Janet [in Rochester] says:

          Rhonda, it’s so good to hear from you – and that your news is so positive!! You’ve climbed the hill – now it’s time to enjoy a nice relaxing amble down through the Summer! Keep taking good care of yourself. xoxo :>)

    • Sandy Richmond says:

      Rhonda D!, so good to hear from you! You have been in my prayers continually. Take good care of yourself, and keep those creative juices flowing. I’m so happy that your outlook is good!

      • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

        Ronda, so happy that your treatments are finally over with! I know you must be relieved and very happy with what the doctors are telling you!! Summer is a very good season to be resting and healing. The warmth of the sun upon you face, the lovely fragarence of the flowers are so healing. Take care and my continued prayers go with you!!!

    • sondra fox says:

      Rhonda! So happy to hear the news of your health improving. Keep being good to yourself. I’ll always remember what this famous man said about how he got well. He rented all these funny movies, or happy movies & watched them for a week. He said he was certain that’s what made him well again. Positive thoughts bring wellness, at least that’s what I believe. Good luck on your new projects.
      (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

      • Pat Johnson of Paso Robles says:

        Rhonda – extremely happy to hear about your improved health. You keep going, girlfriend – must be nice to know that so many of us are right there with you – every step of the way. I will carry you in my heart! Smile & enjoy your greatness……XXXXOOOO

  18. Mary Kathryn says:

    Wow! Only 4 commenters thus far? I think I’ll say something — anything!! — in my excitement not to be commenter # 374 – hahaha! Love your blog. Love your happy spirit. Love those adorable banners. Hoping I can get a copy of that new book soon. Nature IS amazing as she jump-starts into life each spring and throws her little seedlings afar. Gorgeous strawberries! I’m so sorry about your friend’s wrist. Those heavy casts are so troublesome in summer. I hope she mends quickly and is back to gardening and slicing tomatoes in a flash.

    • sbranch says:

      hahaha, I love #374 too! xoxo

      • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

        Glad to know, Susan, because sometimes I think I AM #374!! Seriously, I do try to comment early because I find I am more in the flow of everybody’s conversations when I do that! I want to be the Girlfriend In The Know.hahaha

  19. Julie Marie says:

    Hi Susan…. I loove the way you describe Summer on Martha’s Vineyard!… sounds like pure bliss!… I just wish I lived close to you… I had surgery on my hand last Friday and it hurts even to type… I would love to “do you a favor” and let you come visit me and bring me Gazpacho and sit and chat till the stars came out!… tee hee hee!… your strawberry patch is amazing, what beauties those are!… and I can’t wait for watermelon too, and I would love to raid your fridge right now!… all those little banners are so cute, I really love the patriotic one!… you know what, your stove is almost my favorite thing in your home, (not counting Jack and Girl Kitty of course, and you and Joe!)… love seeing how cute it always looks… excited for a new Willard too… Happy Summer!!!… enjoy the rain… I love the smell of Ocean rain especially… xoxo Julie Marie

    • sbranch says:

      I know what you mean about the smell of ocean rain — and rain on deep layer of mulching leaves. Hope your hand is better soon! xoxo

    • Vicki in Cincy says:

      Hi Julie Marie. I had surgery on my left hand on May 30th, so I can TOTALLY sympathize. I still have stitches and it hurts if I use my hand too much. Hang in there Girlfriend! We will get there! I know you are as impatient as I am, wanting to be healed and to ‘just get on with it’ LOL. Take care!

  20. ChrisTea says:

    I love your story about the strawberries jumping the pot. LOL. And you always have my mouth watering with your recipes – even with veggies I’m not real thrilled about. I really need to go out and find some of your cookbooks. Thanks for all the good ideas – food and crafty. 🙂

  21. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Susan and Girlfriends!

    Gazpacho, Strawberries, Watermelon…ahhh, the red jewels of summer.

    I wish you all these moments of delight, as they come to visit us each year, rain or shine.

    Thank you, Susan, for being so authentic in all your posts.

    Marie xo

  22. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Beautiful post, Susan. Loved the banners. I’m just about to make my summer banner – still have my spring one up. Felt like fall here today – cold and rain. It actually felt good to have the stove on. My favourite Julia Child’s quote is this one, “A party without a cake is really just a meeting”. Looking forward to Willard. Stay dry.

    • Marsha MacLean says:

      A party without a cake is just a meeting! Too cute, I am going to have to share that one with my girlfriends at supper club tonight!

  23. Teresa says:

    What a lovely post, as usual! I love when you post your recipes, even ones about the things you make every day. I just made The Pioneer Woman’s watermelon granita from her cookbook (also on her website, I think). Delicious and so perfect for summer. My kids said it was better than ice cream! PS, where did you get that gorgeous pitcher?

    • sbranch says:

      I got the pitcher where I get pretty much everything! Yard sales, antique stores, flea markets. I love the old things.

      • Julia says:

        Me too! When the real estate agent came to my house,
        she said that the wallpaper made the house look “dated.”
        I’m thinking: Have you looked around lady? With all of
        the antiques and old stuff (even a claw foot tub) the
        whole house is dated!!!!!!! That’s the way I like it. I’m
        an old soul.

  24. Julia says:

    As I said on my post that ran away – I admire your hydrangeas. They
    are the best cut flowers. They last so long. I have 3 white ones on
    my table now. I also love the first little watercolor. We can really dig
    in the dirt after all of this rain. Think I’ll plant another hydrangea!

  25. susie says:

    Those little banners could be made for about any kind of season, happenings, etc. I love seeing all your photos. It’s a way that I can visit your beauitful place. I like to read the recipes, even if it would be one I wouldn’t try. They are interesting. I adore your old stove. xoxo,Susie

    • sbranch says:

      I think we’re going to have a special banner to celebrate the book when it comes in! Not sure, we are working on it!

      • Judy Young says:

        What a terrific idea! You are inspiring me with all these banners, I want to go to Michaels and get some scrapbook paper and just go to town with some patriotic ones! I hope they sell the red and white twine. I especially loved that V-shaped bunting of the Union Jack that was all over London during your visit.

        The “British Emporium” in Grapevine, TX is a huge store that sells everything British, including bunting. Their last post mentioned that they had clothes hangers (the kind you hang your washing out on the line with) that had little birds on them! I thought while reading about them, how perfect they would be for your garden! I forwarded the email to Kellee…not sure if she got it. You had to scroll down aways to see the bird clothes pins mentioned. You can order from them.

        Summer is here in full force, high nineties all week. I love the triple digit temps though because the humidity is so low. We had rain yesterday and everything is green, but none forecast for two weeks now.

        • sbranch says:

          I got some bird clothespins from a friend — they’re darling. Thank you for thinking of me!

  26. Mary says:

    The rain has made it to the Mass-New Hampshire line as well . . . I was looking forward to playing in my garden this evening, but it will have to wait until tomorrow!

    Too bad about your friends wrist, sounds it was a terrible break! How very sweet of you to bring her some gazpacho, I love the addition of the shrimp! Yum!

    Have a lovely week!

    • Mary says:

      Oh I forgot to mention, love your Julia Child painting and quote. Would you believe that I’m also making my first recipe from her Mastering the Art of French cooking book tonight! Roast chicken, Julia’s favorite!

      • sbranch says:

        And the best. Crispy skin, tender, yummy. She taught me how to do it. (From that same book, just like you.)

    • sbranch says:

      Still dark, windy, rainy down here this morning . . . another cozy day.

  27. Lisa R (northern Az) says:

    I am always amazed when I see how much we have in common Susan! Usually a little gasp of excitement escapes when that happens while reading your posts. We do our sun tea exactly the same! I have a vintage pitcher I use, cover the top with plastic (I have to put a rubber band around the top because of our wind), and set it on the table in my rose garden. My mom always used a gallon pickle jar, but I love the vintage pitchers. So fun to see yours! Also, I just cut your cute sun tea drawing/recipe off of my blotter calendar page from last year, and pasted on my journal page for yesterday. So sad there isn’t going to be one for next year. 🙁

    • sbranch says:

      No, there isn’t, BUT, I have someone else interested and I do believe, if all goes well, there will be one for next year. It will be pretty much just the same as the blotter we’ve been doing, but probably bigger (unless they change their minds). 17 x 22 — a regular blotter size.

  28. Nettie says:

    Oh Susan how I love your island! We made the trip on Saturday when the sun was shining and I am still smiling in my heart for having walked by your beautiful home. I so wanted to knock on your door to say hello and tell you what a big fan of yours I am but knew I needed to respect your privacy so didn’t. (My husband had to hold me back!)
    Your Vineyard Haven is just that…….a haven. I can see how the sea inspires you and sets your soaring heart right into your pen and paintbrushes.
    We drove home today in the rain all the way to upstate New York but my heart has not left The Cape or your island. Be well and keep the spirit of the island flowing our way. Nettie

    • sbranch says:

      I will do my best Nettie — but I know you will carry it in your heart. This place does that to people! “Soaring hearts” with the change of seasons, the sea, just as you said. xoxo

  29. Millie Ray says:

    Susan, I can’t wait to try the Gazpacho, sounds like heaven. It is a joy in the spring to enjoy all the flowers, bushes, and flowering tree, and to always have a bunch of your flowers in little vases around the house. I most always have fresh flowers here, even if I have to buy them at the grocery. I look forward to the new Willard and all the news that it will contain. I must report on the beautiful rose bush we planted last Fall, after your swooning over them in England, the Zephirine Drouhin rose. It wintered over very well, and has grown steady. The perfume from that rose beats anything I have in the garden, thanks for sharing the information on that one! We live in Central Kentucky and are enjoying a green, green Spring!

    • sbranch says:

      Good for you Millie, the Zephirine Drouhin! What a nice memory for the trip!

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Oh, Millie Ray, I just planted a Zephirine Drouhin rose this spring! I am so excited for it to bloom, but I am not sure if it will do it this season or wait til next year. I will let you know what happens.

  30. Arlinda says:

    Ooo Willard is coming soon! Yay!

    The rain has visited me here since 9 this morning and hasn’t left since. I love it. I’m a fan of rainy days. I enjoy the ambiance and the sound effects that comes with it. Also, everything seems to slow things down a bit. I like it very much.

    Your strawberry patch looks great. I’m trying to grow them from seeds this year. I see the seedlings sprout, I’m hopeful… we’ll see. Your strawberries look yummy.

    I’ve never had sun tea… The weather woman has predicted rain for New York tomorrow so I shall try Sun Tea for the very first time on sunny Saturday. I know it’s going to be my favorite thing to do from now on after the rain and the first sun. Thank you Susan. ((hug))


  31. april says:

    You sound happy as an un-steamed clam! 🙂
    Meanwhile here in the Deep South, we are steaming…it hit 93 today with a heat index of 101. Celebrated national iced tea day INSIDE here!
    Your hydrangeas are gorgeous. My lacecaps are blooming(purple!) for the first time since we planted them, and I’m thrilled!
    So very wishing we had diligently planted tomatoes so I could make that yummy soup. Thanks for sharing your happies!

  32. Karen C says:

    Hi Susan,

    Happy National Iced Tea Day!

    I really enjoyed your post today. Love your photos of your hydrangeas, reminded me of my Mom. (oh so many Happy memories)
    I have never tried gazpacho, but I must admit your recipe makes it look yummy & easy to create. And to think, it’s nutritious too. Kind of like a V-8. 🙂 Thank you for making a Monday seem not so bad. Have a great rest of the week. Hugs. KarenC

    • sbranch says:

      Like a V-8, but even better — you’ll see, and easy! xo

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        When I make gazpacho I use V-8 in place of the tomato juice – it works perfectly! :>)

        • sbranch says:

          I’ve done that too, but for some reason I stick with the plain tomato juice — what I need to do is do two batches, one with each, and see which I like better. They were both good!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Yes, I think either one is just fine. Are you familiar with “Clamato” Sue? Tomato juice cocktail with clam broth added [the traditional first course at our Thanksgiving for over 40 years now]. I was thinking that might make a tasty gazpacho too. :>)

          • sbranch says:

            I’m sure it would. Good idea!

  33. Nellie says:

    We, too, are waiting for the rain – only we are hoping it will pass over us!:-) We have already had over 13 inches above our average rainfall for this point in the year. Yes, things are really green and growing.:-)

    There is nothing like homegrown strawberries! We have a few plants, and they have blessed us this year with their fruit. Not enough for jam-making, but certainly enough to enjoy on cereal and over ice cream.:-)

    A broken wrist is unfortunate at any time, but especially so as summer is here. Hopefully the cast will not be too uncomfortable for your friend.

    It is always good to see new art from you! It sounds like a very productive spring.

    xo Nellie

    • sbranch says:

      It’s more about waiting than anything. I could just sit in the chair staring until the book comes ~ I really could. I know it’s silly — I’m trying to ignore this feeling of limbo!

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        I had to smile when I read your comment, Susan, but I do truly understand–I’d be the same way. I’m sure you’ll be waiting for it each day, eagerly checking the mail. Funny thing–we’ll all probably be doing the same later on when we hear they are being mailed out… 🙂

  34. Marsha MacLean says:

    Dear Susan,
    We LOVE new art! Of course, we love the older pieces too, because they’re by you!
    How wonderful summer sounds on MV! Southern California has been beset by fires already, and we could sure use some of your rain…. Too bad we can’t just order it up. LOL
    SUMMER is officially here, at least for us teachers in my school district, and a long to-do list awaits, girlfriends! All that crafting we desperately wanted to do for the last few months, and of course, spring (er, summer) cleaning! Good to have the time to make useful things from what has been acquired, and time for girlfriends to come by for tea, or out to lunch! Speaking of that, thanks for the lovely gazpacho recipe, I have never made it, so what a great challenge for lunch with my girlfriends!
    Thanks for all you do, Susan! It’s always a pleasure to read a new post, and exciting to anticipate a new Willard coming soon!

  35. Martha Ellen of VA says:

    I can hardly wait to hear the news Willard brings. It’s been raining off and on here also. Between rain showers my hubby and I took a long walk. We also were able to continue our edging chores around the flower beds. The earth is so soft and easy to get that half moon edger in. All the different shades of green in the garden now just fills my soul with joy. Please send my best to your friend for a speedy recovery! xoxo ♥

  36. Elaine says:

    Lovely post and photos ! It has been raining here since last night but sun will be here for the end of the week . Hope your friends arm heals fast and well ! Thanks for sharing . Have a wonderful week !

  37. Brenda says:

    Loved reading this today as I am making this year’s bunting for my front deck; this year I chose red with white polka dots. It’s as cheery as can be.

  38. Theresa says:

    You always manage to “wow” me! I love this blog.. Thank you for taking the time to share your life! Blessings from the green Texas pasture!

  39. Beth Keser says:

    Beautiful pictures! And I love your little banners -I have already bought 2 Spring and 2 Summer ones (for me and my BFF) . Keep them coming! I love the patriotic one -that can stay up from Memorial Day until Labor Day 🙂
    I really cannot wait to get your new book- I also ordered a copy for my BFF’s daughter and she is beside herself, waiting to get it -she loves all things British. I preordered it for her for her birthday, which was in March. We are planning an afternoon of tea and reading when it comes in 🙂 In the meantime, we are planning a British baby shower party for July to tide us over. We love to have British themed parties 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I think you will like reading it together … I’m excited that you’re excited! A British Baby Shower, so fun!

  40. Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

    Good evening, Susan and girlfriends ~~~ I’m so sorry to hear about the girlfriend with the broken wrist!! When I broke my wrist, it was also my main arm and couldn’t do a thing except dress myself. I was so thankful that my husband was willing to take over my life completely for a couple months. It was very good of you to go over to make her feel better. I know that she really appreciated it.

    Those strawberries look amazing! I know what you mean about the looks, and tastes of the ones you get in the store. They just aren’t that good. I’m thinking they should be coming out in the farmer’s market anytime now. But, my husband picked 6 raspberries tonight after dinner. Oh, they are soooo good! Small, but good. We don’t get the heat nor all the sun they require to become large.

    I hate to let you know this….. being that it will be the 3rd time now about the house. Went up to Washington to again look for a house to buy. Found one and just after we signed all the papers, etc., our agent from California called on my cell phone to let us know that once again the propective buyers of our house backed out because of the house across the street. We were shocked, as they knew what they were getting into by buying our house. Evidently, they went over to talk with the people and came back and withdrew their offer on our house. We do plan on going over to find out what happened. I’m thinking that the next time we get an offer, I’m just going to pretend that it never happened until we have money in hand. What a sad, frustrated feeling!! Starting to lose a little faith here.

    I’m enjoying all our flowers that we in bloom also. Our one rose bush is full, but most will have to be dead headed as they bloomed while we were gone. They will be blooming all summer long though and that makes me happy.

    Later xoxoxo
    Carol M

    • sbranch says:

      So sorry Carol! What’s wrong with the house across the street? I think you are smart to keep your expectations low, because then when it happens, and you know it will, you can be doubly happy. It will happen, keep the faith. xoxo

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        i’m with Susan, whats wrong with the house across the street??? why is this such a problem??? what are those people saying about your house???

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Awww, shucks, yes keep the faith, it will all come together soon! xo

        • Janet [in Rochester] says:

          Carol, I think your realtor should be finding out what’s going on – that’s why you pay him/her. Besides the “neighbors” might be a little more forthcoming than they’d be with you – about whatever this so-called problem is. It certainly does not seem fair that they’re able to influence your sale – they may not even be aware they are influencing anything. ??? Good luck and keep us posted. :>)

          • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

            Carol I have to agree with Janet. have your realtor go and talk to those people. sounds to me like they may be doing this on purpose for some reason and it might be better if your realtor found out why.

          • sbranch says:

            Be careful.

          • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

            Thank you all, girlfriends with your encouragement!! You don’t know how much that means to me. The house across the street is a welfare house. There are 16 people living there at the present time. Eighteen is the max. There are 5 or 6 adults and the rest are kids. The adults sit out on the porch 99.9% of the time. They are loud and the language isn’t all that appropriate. Most of the kids are in school…. some don’t stay at the house each day either. We’ve tried to talk with them a few times about keeping the toys picked up from the front yard, etc. They seem nice enough, but don’t care about us trying to sell our house. It’ll happen sooner or later that we do sell our house, but so frustrating meanwhile.

            Pat A. we were going to stop by your place on our way up to Washington, but it was getting hot and my husband really wanted to get most of the way through Oregon before the heat really got bad. We’re going back up in August to see the twins and we are planning to stop by then. I’ll let you know. Are you a member of FB? If so, befriend me (Carol Converse Maurer) and I can let you know when we come up next.

            Oh, it’s so nice to have such caring girlfriends!!

          • sbranch says:

            Ah ha! Well, I can see that might be a bit of a problem — I always wondered, when we were growing up, who would want to live next door to us! 🙂

          • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

            Carol, a little talk with their social worker might be beneficial. but seeing as how they can’t seem to or want to play fair with your selling the house, I am sure the local authorities can be notified and a complaint about their interference with your selling your house might be in order…let the realtor handle it, its their job. Carol we look forward to seeing you in August. no I am not facebook but I can give you my e-mail addy here if Susan will allow and you can contact me. I am : addisonpat97@yahoo.com. look forward to meeting you.

  41. Susie Cook says:

    Is that a punch dial phone with a cord on the receiver beside your stove??? I thought everyone had cordless phones now! I love yours…it reminds me of my Grandma Pud who worked for the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Kansas for 43 years and was so excited when those “Princess Phones” came out in the 50’s. And her sister, my Aunt Helen, who used to ride the bus from her house in Inglewood 1 hour each way to downtown Los Angeles to sit at a telephone switchboard all day long! Wonder how they would have liked today’s smart phones! Anyway…yours is way cool!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, we moved into this house in 1989 and that phone has been there ever since. We can’t come up with any good reason to get rid of it! One of my first jobs was as an information operator. I looked up phone numbers for people who called in. If they were mean to me (not very often) I would pay them back by being very formal and pronouncing the nine: ni-on.

      • Sylvia in Seattle says:

        Hah, my first “serious” job was as an information operator too. Didn’t you just love to have to refer callers to their directory??? NOT! Certainly learned my way around the phone book . . . Now I don’t even have one in my place. I’m sitting at my directory right now! Things have changed so very much. And then there was the “intercept desk” where you pushed a switch and said ” what number are you calling please?” Then gave out the new number — just for a little break in the monotony. :-). Egad, haven’t thought about that in a long time. A couple weeks ago I talked via Skype to my son who was with a crew in India fixing that airplane battery problem. It was amazing, but I didn’t much like looking at myself talking :-(. I love all the retro lore in your posts Susan. Kind of the opposite of Skype et al. Raining here too today. I’m enjoying my window box additions of pale lavendar and line green combos thanks to your inspiration a couple posts back.

        • sbranch says:

          I know, it’s fantastic how quickly and how much things have changed. Happy for your lavender and lime!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        I bet you didn’t have a computer database to look up numbers at that time either – or may you did? :>)

        • sbranch says:

          No, six big phone books — we were each in a little booth with a swivel chair — two books on the right, two on the left, and two in the middle.

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      Susie, how funny! We have punch-button dial phones, too! I should tell you that you should be aware that if the power goes, so does your cordless telephone. We have one cordless phone in the house which is convenient to use but don’t want to be without a telephone when the power is out! And the same goes for cell phones as you need the power to charge them…

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        I’ve kept my landline too because – even though cell phones these days can do just about everything except put the groceries away – until they make them with the same clear, reliable reception that a landline has, they’re just not as good [in my book].

    • Laura Ann in Vermont says:

      Not only do I still have a push button phone in our bedroom, our kitchen phone is a black 1950’s rotary dial wall affair! It, too, came with our house. I can’t make any business calls on it because I can’t get through voice mail systems. But I use it for all of my personal calls. It is a bit temperamental at times–sometimes it drops “clicks” when dialing and so I get wrong numbers, but that’s part of the fun. (I think.) Anyway, everyone in my village has the same first four digits, so it’s usually someone I know.

      At one point, I called the phone company to ask a question about my old phone and the man there suggested I might want to upgrade my equipment. I’ve decided I’m holding on until it quits working altogether.

  42. Danella says:

    Yum! I made gazpacho today! Coincidence? or kindred spirits? My husband and I are trying to lose just a little of the results of the ‘comfort food’ we enjoyed over the winter. The weather here on the ‘wet coast’ of Canada has been so lovely lately that a cold soup is just the thing to enjoy and not feel deprived. I love all your little vases. I have only a few but they are indeed a sweet treat once our little yellow rose bush blooms. Thanks for a lovely blog. It too is a sweet treat when it surprises me in my inbox. Have a lovely week.

    • sbranch says:

      I say kindred spirits! Because we are on the same program you are, what better way to do it than healthy Gazpacho. I don’t feel deprived either!

  43. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    Hello Sue and Girlfriends! I cannot count how many of the entries in my own ‘favorite quotations’ journal I have found in your books – it must be in the 100s by now – but today’s has GOT to be one of my favorites ever! “As I always say, before Julia Child, there was only onion dip – SB” I just love that! And so true too. Julia started it all, didn’t she?

    PS – we’re supposed to have a generally rainy week but I guess that’s OK because we need sun for Sunday for my nephew’s high school graduation party. Right now we’re having the dreary off-again-on-again rainy day you will probably have tomorrow. Dull skies, a little foggy, very quiet & you can almost wring the water out of the air. I’ve noticed I need much less moisturizer in this kind of weather – that must be why everyone in the UK has such gorgeous complexions – all that moisture in the air. One more great reason to love the British Isles! OK, hope everyone has a wonderful week! xoxo :>)

    • sbranch says:

      I guess there were people in France who understood cuisine, but Julia brought it here, started our curiosity, made us buy good pots and pans and knives, taught us about fresh herbs, wine and dinner parties — she changed my life. Many others too.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        She surely did! “The French Chef” was on Saturday mornings around noontime in Rochester and my mom and I watched Julia for years. Because ofthem BOTH, I am a foodie today [notice I said “foodie” and not “cook-ie”]. Foodie skills far surpass cooking skills! :>)

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

    If it ever stops raining in Minnesota this summer and the temperatures turn hot, I will try making your gazpacho for sure. It looks so good and would be refreshing for lunch or supper if it was hot outside. What do you serve with it–crackers, toast, or a good bread? 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I’m still on the slow weight loss program of a few posts ago, so I’m having it with none of that — but all of those things would be good.

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        You have so much will power!!! Will we recognize you when you are on your book-signing trip or will you be skinny-as-a-rail??? We are both trying the slow weight loss diet, too. It is a LOT easier now with all of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available. Ha–easier than autumn with apple pie (with ice cream) and chili, stews, etc., that all call for garlic bread accompaniment! 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be recognizable! 🙂 I agree, much easier when it’s not snowing!

          • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

            I need to get back into the swing of not eating inbetween meals again. Traveling and visiting friends isn’t the best time to keep up with that mode. If the temps would just get up there, my appetite would be so much less. Would you believe that our heat in the house is on now? With a Victorian of 12 foot ceilings, all the heat goes up there. LOL…. I forget that it’s summer in other places.

  45. Rosanne (Oregon) says:

    Green is the color of Oregon. Some would say that’s because it rains a good deal, but we have recently had perfectly spectacular sparkly days of sunshine, 70 degrees and fresh as a daisy. I love the idea of putting shrimp (or lobster as you mentioned in the Summer Book, I think it was) into gazpacho and will try that for my next girlfriend lunch. Yum! I just treated myself to an order from your webstore. I’m most excited about the needlepoint pillow – the teapot design to put in my parlor – or as my son likes to call it, the crumpet room. It will be a hit when my girlfriends come for Twine.;) Happy Summer!

  46. Jennie says:

    Such good things . . . thank you for the cheer, Susan!

  47. Wow! Those strawberries look amazing! It’s hard to keep from drooling on my keyboard! 😛 I have a tiny little strawberry plant in a pot I planted a couple of months ago. My 18 month old granddaughter came over today. This little girl can eat strawberries like nobody’s business! She coyly and cutely convinced me to let her eat the only red berry I had…then she insisted on eating the green ones too! This Grammy’s a pushover, so now I have zero strawberries. Not even any green ones! I don’t even care though, because it’s my birthday and I got to watch my sweet grandbaby eat my strawberries, the sun was shining, the clouds were poofy and life is beautiful. And to top it off, here is your new post! Thank you Susan! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      You and your granddaughter will have to plant radish seeds someday. Little kids love them because they come up fast ~ it helps them understand the connection between the seed and the plant, they feel proud to have “made that!”

  48. Jan says:

    So want to try making the Gazpacho! I will have to buy a blender though, since I have not replaced the one we lost in our house flood a few years ago. It sounds sooo good. The strawberries look wonderful! There really is nothing like home grown strawberries. As kids we would help my Grandmother pick (and eat ) hers. Fresh strawberry freezer jam – the best! We have been enjoying the fresh asparagus from around our yard and flower beds. I cut it up and stir fry it in a little olive oil seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic. So good! Will have to get out my sun tea pitcher too. Beautiful hydrangeas! The color is just amazing. Hope mine are going to bloom since the deer have been nibbling on them. Sounds like you are definitely enjoying being home this year. Thanks for all of your beautiful art work and continuing inspiration. Looking forward to the Willard. Have a great week!

    • sbranch says:

      You will need the blender for Skip and Go Nakeds this summer, so it will be a win win!

      • Jan says:

        I don’t drink alcoholic drinks but a fresh fruit yogurt smoothie sounds good! So, it will be a win, win!

  49. Sally says:

    Every summer I make your gazpacho soup. So WONDERFUL. I make one alteration – using V8 juice instead of tomato juice. I always have small cans of it in the refrigerator. Whenever my six year old granddaughter comes she looks for the V8. So nice that she prefers it to sweet drinks.
    Really looking forward to the next Willard and of course A FINE ROMANCE. Enjoy the rain. Wish we had a rainy day or two in Southern CA.
    Now it’s time to create some patriotic banners…

    • sbranch says:

      I wish I could send you some of our rain. Not that I want to get rid of it, but I would love to drench California in it with one overnight storm.

  50. Elizabeth in Montana says:

    We had our first pitcher of sun tea this season last night with our supper, out on our back deck, and then watched the colored solar lanterns my brother and sis-in-law gave me for my birthday start to light up for the first time…listened to the birds telling each other good night…it was wonderful. We have strawberries coming on too, hopefully we’ll get them before the birds do!

  51. Guess what, Susan? I read this last night, right before going to bed (so now it is Bore Da {good morning} here in Wales) and all night long I dreamed of your strawberry patch. I pondered how it arrived there too, a dropped seed, or maybe an under~ripe strawberry got tossed out {like happens with watermelon seeds sometimes} You and the Girlfriends were all there, and we had such fun!

    ‘Twas but a dream, but a very good dream indeed

    Thinking of You All from Across The Pond
    Debs xoxo

  52. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    I’m so impressed that after finishing a whole book you are still motivated to do new art. How do you do that? Every time I am going to sit down and paint or draw I find a million other things I should be doing and there goes my art.
    Your strawberries are gorgeous. I have some growing in pots and every time I see some getting ready to pick the squirrels beat me to it!!
    I can’t wait for the new Willard. Love those!!
    Enjoy the rain and after that the sun.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve never seen a squirrel in our garden yet, they are too busy hanging from the bird feeders! What I think truly is that I shouldn’t be doing anything else but writing and painting, but I haven’t figured out how to get away with it!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        those pesky squirrels steal my strawberries, and I have them growing from baskets out on the kitchen porch. somehow they sneak over and steal my berries before I get them.

      • Lisa Jorgensen says:

        My squirrels hang all day from the bird feeders too, then go for dessert to the strawberries!
        After reading all your books, and enjoying all your art, you shouldn’t be doing anything else!!

    • Jack says:

      I put a fake black cat -with glowing eyes …..and a life size fake black crow
      In my garden area —- no more ground squirrels also no more birds in the yard for
      Now — will take them out after we get all the peaches , grapes tomatoes etc. picked
      Was thinking of setting up a fake horned Owl too — but so far the cat and the crow
      Are working .

      • sbranch says:

        Really? I wonder how long it will take them to figure it out.

        • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

          wonder if a couple of real black cats would do the job, worth considering….hmmmmmmm!!! now if I can keep the little birds away from our grapes, I may get some for me this year, but the turkeys love the grapes and wander and eat them, the little birds get them…and I get none.

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            ~ Well at least it’s not a skunk!~ It’s back!~ Last night we tried lemon scented ammonia~ supposedly they don’t like either of those smells ~OR they said you can buy doggie urine….really……? To put around the perimeter of my yard…. I HAVE A DOG!! ~A nosy beagle!~ my neighbor has 2! ~not to mention lights where “Pepi” is digging! ~Maybe I need to feed my beagle lemons, limes and citrus fruit!? ~Uff da!~

          • sbranch says:


      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Blog Daddy: We used to chase off the Jays, but let them hang around (if they behave & don’t scare off the other birds) now because they pick off the tomato worms – ewwwww, I used to have to do that, yucko!

        • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

          ewwww yuk, I did thatjob one summer…never again. yukky!!!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Ooooohh, I remember those things. I had to do the tomato hornworm job for several summers as a kid and Oh Boy Yuck! Some of those things were the size of a child’s little finger, had faces [!!!] and teeth. Unbelievably creepy-looking – like you’d imagine prehistoric bugs to look. Yuck.

          • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

            Lynn try mothballs, the skunks around here hate that when I sprinkle them under the porches to keep the stinkers out from under the house. works very well.

          • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

            Lynn try mothballs, they hate that scent!!

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            Hi Pat~ that was the first thing we did~ now I just have a smelly shed! We have also left a light on all night and a radio blasting too!
            Because it has attempted 2 different holes~ one next to a pond ~we have limited choices~as we have fish and other critters living in there~ we blocked the hole with rocks and I put in a solar light~
            I really don’t want to resort to using a four ~ letter~ word
            “Kill”~ tried a live trap but only caught squirrels~what would I do even if I caught the darn thing???? Where is “Billy the Exterminator” when I need him????

  53. Janice says:

    We’ve had plenty of rain in N. Alabama this summer…not too much, but enough to help with watering. I’ve had strawberry plants for several years now and thinned them out this spring, so I didn’t have many berries this year 🙁 My raspberries are beginning to ripen and are so pretty (thanks to the rain!). I can’t wait for the blueberries to ripen. Just harvested some of my favorite fruits – sour cherries from a tree we planted a few years ago. The intense flavor of the fresh-picked cherries doesn’t compare with that of store-bought cherry pie fillings! Thank you for reminding me that the simple things of life aren’t so simple! They are the best!

  54. Georgie Bonsanto says:

    Good Morning Susan!

    Your island is bursting into bloom! What wonderful glorious color! Your thoughts are jumping off the page too. I’m so looking forward to this new season of life.

    Around the corner… your book tour! Can’t wait to hear the details!
    Happy Day Girlfriend!
    XOXO Georgie

  55. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Long rainy days and nights, when everything is soaked to the gills….I can still remember what that smells like. And green, that just keeps getting greener! Good long soaking rains, when there is nothing to do but read a good book! I am not complaining, just reminiscing! We are not brown right now, so that is a good thing. We have mowed our yard TWICE this year!!
    When I lived in Ohio and had horses, I was never a big fan of spring, because the wheelbarrow got bogged down in the mud when you went to the manure pile. The mud sucked your boots off! So this is one of God’s little jests……send her to the dessert!
    My life lesson, is to learn to bloom where I am planted! Even cactus bloom!

    Trying to talk the guys at work into the gazpacho so I can make it, as Jim is not a big fan.
    Would have to put shrimp in it for them….they are always saying, well where’s the meat?! Haha….men!
    Off to work! Thanks for the new post and anxiously awaiting Willard!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s true, be happy where you are, it’s all we have for now. You could put a big steak next to the soup and I think he might like it then!

  56. Ann Y. Adamstown, PA says:

    Good Morning Susan…the island and your flowers look wonderful. Everything here is so lush and green from all the rain ( a downpour several times yesterday and then drizzle in between) – and needs to be trimmed. Hope the rain stops today to get out and dead head the roses…but till then, following your lead…a blanket, a book, a good cuppa tea, and my “hooray, I am out of school, let’s make a summer to do list” – and plenty of time to work outside when the sun shines again. Trying to negotiate with the robins who think my front porch is all for them…was away overnight and in that short time – two nests started, mud down the walls, – love to see them, hear them, host their babies….but somewhere else in our yard – please ??? Oh well – maybe the sun will shine and they will find a dry place today ! Have a wonderful week !

  57. paulie says:

    Good Morning Sweet Sue!
    You have put new meaning on “sunshine” here for such a dark, gloomy and thunderingly black wet day! Thank you so so much for the sweet beams of light! We really needed that! Well it’s half past eight and I am running so late. Have a stupendously happy day and happy painting to you! ……..

  58. Hello Everyone, we are going to have our 1st 90 degree day tomorrow and to date IN has been unseasonably cool. I’m planning on staying indoors and be a good girl and go for my yearly Mammogram and have my labs done for my July Dr. Appt. I know it doesn’t sound like fun; but, it is part of my wellness routine so not dreading it. I just saw where the local strawberry farm is flourishing this season vs last year when the drought did not produce any fresh fruits of any kind. Gasp….I’m also looking forward to eating the local Watermelon which I can have and enjoy…Yay…now, just for my information do you prefer the seedless vs seeded?? I will tell you this the seedless is full of little white seeds so this year I am thinking maybe the big black seeds would be the better option?? I guess it is a preference thing eating the white seeds doesn’t appeal to me although having to spit out the black seeds has it’s own image problem…haha Have a great day!

    • sbranch says:

      Something about the ones with seeds makes me believe that they haven’t been genetically modified. I don’t know if it’s true — but like the old spinach we used to get with the sand in it, these things seem more “normal” to me.

      • Agreed and I just wasn’t enjoying all those tiny white seeds to many to remove….you are so right about messing with our foods. I just read an article about modifying corn and how it isn’t “healthy” for us…that use to be my favorite summer food and since I can no longer eat corn hearing this bit of news didn’t disappoint me. I guess all the products that corn is used in such as cereal etc. also needs to be researched. I wish they would leave our foods alone and let us make our own decisions about what we eat. Thanks for your input looks like I will be going back to the traditional melon with seeds.

        • sbranch says:

          I read a huge long article in the Wall Street Journal maybe even 20 years ago about how they had modified corn and it now had bad things in it for us. It was the first I’d read about the changes to the food industry and I never forgot it. I think my mouth was open while reading the entire thing — it was so shocking. How could they do that? What were they thinking? It’s supposedly permanent now, and even in the seeds we would plant in our yard.

          • Sandy Richmond says:

            Deborah and Susan, I totally agree with you… The watermelon with the white seeds is a different texture than watermelon used to have, and some look like they are trying to grow an extra rind inside! And don’t get me going on corn and corn syrup! 🙂 I am constantly searching (and buying) the salad dressings, ketchup, soda (pop) made without corn syrup. It seems the European countries have the sense to leave food in it’s natural state… I don’t jump up on the soap box often, but this is a topic that makes me angry! Susan, your strawberries look wonderful. Some that you buy in the store are as big as plums, and don’t even look like strawberries inside.. Thank God it is Farmers Market time! Our local one opens this weekend! Yay! Yum!

          • sbranch says:

            Have you seen the strange new artichokes? They’re hard to tell from the “real” ones — they are big and smooth and almost look normal and have absolutely NO flavor at all. SO sad! I can tell them apart now, but I feel bad for people who have never tasted one and think this is it!

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Well, Deborah, today was the day I made all my dr. appts.!! Not very exciting, but as you, I see it as the key to living a good long life!

      • Hi Linda, it seems all I get done is going to the doctor I’m just trying to do my part to be as healthy as I can be. Good Luck and stay healthy!!!

        • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

          I love the watermelon with the seeds, they taste sweeter and I can remember all the fun we had spitting those seed out into my mom’s front lawn and garden, she had little watermelon sprouts in her lawn coming up for years. its just not summertime until you spit watermelon seeds from the front porch!!

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Isn’t it fun to have a local strawberry farm?? I have one,too. You can pick them or buy them already picked at a little gazebo. My first of the season came from them and yummmmy! — they were so delicious!!

  59. marty kunkis says:

    Hello Susan and all the GFs:
    It is always so interesting to hear what everyone is doing. We have a beautiful sunny, but humid morning in NYC. Maybe this is a prelude to our :City Summer”.
    I was so pleased to hear about the new WILLARD coming out, as I thought that I had somehow been dropped from the list of recipients it has been so long. Cannot wait to see your new art, if the sample is any indication of what is in store.

    Your strawberry story made me think of the garden strawberries that my parents grew–and of my Dad who added as he taught me just how to pick strawberries that ” at least I would have that bit if wisdom to remember him by”. I remember a lot more than that of his love and concern, but learning how to pick the ripe strawberries hidden under the leaves is such a strong and happy memory.

    Back to business…Have a grand day! Marty

  60. Terri (in Richmond, VA) says:

    Hi Susan, and all girlfriends! I am very sorry for everyone being adversely affected by the weather, but here it is giving a lush, vibrant June. As usual your pictures and photos are so lovely! I think hydrangea is one of my favorite signs of summer. Although this year I have a new grandson to usher in the season, born on Memorial Day! Thoughts and prayers for your broken arm friend. My 9 yr old grandson broke his this spring and it is a long recovery. And also hoping that a lovely summer sun will add healing to our girlfriend Rhonda!

  61. Jacquelyn ... Bainbridge Island, WA says:

    Your Hydrangias are gorgeous! Mine are budded but will be a bit down the road so I’ll admire yours and try to be patient. Williard also has me anticipating ! Love the strawberries too. Yesterday we went off-island to Puyallup, WA, for strawberries … The first of the season. A new variety, Puget Sound Crimson, is ready and are they ever tasty. Came back with 2 half flats. Will be making jam this morning from what is left after filling ourselves with fresh berries and homemade scones … Yumm … ;). Have a lovely day, Sue.

    • sbranch says:

      You too Jackie!

      • Susan on Bainbridge Island in Wa. state says:

        Jackie! I see that you are from “OUR” Island!…so nice to see you on here! Don’t you just love everything about Susan’s website…….so much fun! Hope we get some more real warm days ahead…summer is coming and that is one of the best things about Bainbridge!!!! SUMMER!!!!

        • Jacquelyn ... Bainbridge Island, WA says:

          Hi Susan,
          Good to hear from you! Think I have seen several of us from Bainbridge Island on Susan’s blog along the way. It is the “happiest” blog out there by far!

  62. Rhonda P. in Woodson, TX says:

    Susan, I am soooo jealous of the RAIN and all the green in your world! We have been blessed with a little moisture lately, but not enough to fill the lakes. I love reading your blog so I can live vicariously on a lush island with strawberries growing in abundance and beautiful flowers everywhere! Thanks for sharing your world with the rest of us.

  63. Debbie says:

    Strawberries, sun tea, watermelon and gazpacho…what more could one ask for on a summer day? Here in Eastern IL it is a lovely, warm sunny day. But, storms are on the way sometime tomorrow. I am so thankful for all the rain, its like nature is making up for the drought and awful heat of last summer! On my morning walk with my dog, I can’t help but notice the lovely blooms in everyone’s gardens…it is such a nice time of year!

  64. michelle says:

    Sun tea is one of my summer obsessions. Where I live in California we NEVER have summer rain and with our wildfires we could surely use some! I just made a very cute banner for my mantle. Thank you for the inspiration.

  65. Dana Burton says:

    Excited about a new WILLARD.:) I love the picture of the Just Joey Rose and the Catmint….such a great color combo! For all the Watermelon lovers….you wouldn’t think you could make this Mother Nature specialty any better but, you have to try a chilled slice with a dose of lime juice, honey and mint….brings out the best she has to offer. Summer Blessings to all! XO

    • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

      well I have a recipe for tea, I call it cider tea, and its just as good as sweet tea, and no sugar needed. take 4 bags of lemon zinger tea and 4 bags of red zinger tea. steep in 4-6 cups of boiling water for 20 minutes, remove the tea bags after squeezing them out good for all the tea flavor. place in a large pitcher and add half of a large jug of apple cider. let chill and enjoy on sunny afternoons. hugs… 🙂

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Pat, you are the Beverage Chair this week! Another great recipe – and this one sounds as good as the Beer Margaritas. Thanks! :>)

        • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

          you’re welcome Janet, I love summer drinks, love sitting out on the porch and enjoying a glass of iced tea and letting the world go by while I watch.

  66. Michele Perkins says:

    Greetings from Rainy Vermont, again!
    What a perfect way to begin another cloudy, rainy day with your new blog! It is so cheerful and your flowers and strawberries all are so goregous.
    I loved your blog on tiny vases and I do the same thing. I have a booth at an antique mall nearby and always try to find some of those adorable vases/planters to put in it but I have to admit that I do keep several for myself. Also, when I have a ladies luncheon, I round them up plus I use old pink or green Depression salt and pepper shakers which are always fun to mix in with the clear ones. And, sometimes I gather them altogether and place them on an old mirror which adds a special touch. Try it, you’ll love it!! It truly is, “the little things in life” which are so important to me as well.
    The rain is beating down quite hard and I hope your gardens don’t get hit too hard. Fortunately, my peonies have not yet opened, otherwise, they would be destroyed by now.
    Bye for now,

    • sbranch says:

      Ours are bent and heavy, but not totally destroyed I don’t think. They look good from this side of the window!

  67. Mama Bear says:

    I love coming by for a visit….its been too long.
    Mama Bear

  68. Janice says:

    I made your gazpacho yesterday, and it is so delicious. I even went so far as to make my own croutons, and ~of course~ I added the shrimp and sour cream. What a fabulous meal!

  69. Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

    Oh, do I ever love “Cooking With Susan”, seeing the pictures and reading the easy breezy way you explain things makes me want to run to my kitchen and make that delicious gazpacho! (I decided not to think too hard about spelling gazpacho because I think some of the girlfriends (Julia?) lost their post while pondering the spelling!) I can’t wait to try it.

    I finally discovered what is making my digestive system go wonkers. I am Lactose Intolerant. Yep. So I am “resting” my system again, taking a probiotic, and reading all I can about the subject. I am amazed how many products are out there to make life as normal as possible–Lactaid milk, a pill you can take before you eat, special margarine and ice cream, etc.

    Last night we had a Tornado “watch” until 10:00. A little nervous about it, but thankfully all is fine in Lancaster County. I have to tell you, last night some of my best girlfriends and I got together at Paneras to catch up. When we catch up, we REALLY catch up, with plenty of laughter included. Well, after awhile, a gentleman came over and said with twinkling eyes, “I’ve been eating with my daughter and I have to say I told her she could eat perfectly well on her own as I was going to join your group b/c of all the fun you were having!!” (smile)

    The mulch came today so I will be busy with the wheelbarrow and shovel! It’s a beautiful day to be in the garden!
    Love to all!

    • sbranch says:

      What a fun party Linda! Belles of the Ball.

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Your story reminds me of one time Jim and I were out to eat, and a few tables over, was a group of 4 women, enjoying their food, and their friendship. Jim said, “you know, women have such a good time when they get together for lunch!”
      I thought it was funny that he noticed that! And we do!!
      Don’t work too hard hauling mulch!

      • sbranch says:

        Joe was given a cartoon one time. It was a full magazine page and with two women in coats and hats floating along in the sky above a street — under them walked two men, obviously their husbands, eyes looking up. One man was talking — the caption said, “Women!”

      • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

        Yes, we DO have a good time, don’t we? Even here at Susan’s!! We are all flying in the air, talking!

        Chris, I did 14 wheelbarrow loads of mulching, but I took my time and enjoyed it. For one thing, the weather was mild–sun coming in and then clouding up and also, there was a nice wind. Oh, yes, Baby Button was out keeping me company. In one place, I didn’t know he was napping there and I tossed in some mulch–well, he certainly did scurry out in a hurry!

        I want to get the outside spiffed up because next week I am going to the Jersey Shore (Beach Haven) with a very good friend, her sister and her daughter. We have one thing on the agenda–RELAXING! I can’t wait!

        Hey! Two lawn mowings so far! Great! I will keep on praying for rain. Enjoy the green!
        Love ya!

  70. Tana Griffith says:

    Good Morning,
    I signed up for the Willard again. I had always got them in my e-mail except for the last one. It didn’t come, so I read it from the blog, which is fine, but just wanted to make sure I am still signed up. I might have been dropped inadvertently, and I sure want to make sure I get one! I love, love, love the Willards!

    • sbranch says:

      Let me know if you don’t get it — I’ll be sure to announce that it’s coming before I send it.

  71. Claudia says:

    Hello, Susan! I love your blog and I don’t always comment but I feel the need to tell you so once again. Things are blooming like crazy here – it’s been raining heavily for 3 of the last 4 days. Unfortunately, we have a wee bit of roof leakage! Ah well. Thank you for your happy-love-of-life blog posts.


  72. Ann says:

    Once again it’s the simple things in life that you bring to us. My hydragenas are starting to bloom and I’m so excited! Two weeks from today I will be vacationing on that “other” island; I may take a ferry over to MV one of the days and stalk you. (Just kidding!) Love the old yellow wall phone in your kitchen.

  73. Asha says:

    Hi Susan & Girlfriends! What a beautiful early summertime post! Love the garden pics! I took my honey out to lunch last Saturday to celebrate his 65th birthday on Wednesday. Guess what the soup course was? Yes – Gazpacho! We loved it so much we said we needed to look for a recipe and lo and behold – Susan Branch strikes again!!! 🙂 Thank you Susan! Can’t wait to try yours! My honey also said his mom used to make suntea and would I try it. I love the girlfriend’s recipe from across the pond with all the berry teas! So we will try that also. We have several different varieties of mint growing on our windowsill and have been putting sprigs in our water. It’s a delightful refreshing drink. You need to let it “steep” for an hour or so. It’s great over ice! Can’t wait for Willard and am off to order the summer banner! Hugs & kisses!

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds wonderful, mint water!

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Hello Asha!
      I’m in the middle of mulching today and decided to try your mint water. I also added a slice of frozen lemon (I always cut up lemon and lime and freeze the slices for drinks) and I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it is! I didn’t even let it steep for an hour and it tastes so delicious! Thank you for the great tip!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Oh, Linda, thanks. It’s never crossed my mind that whole lemons could be frozen. I always buy one of those mesh bags of lemons but usually end up cleaning my garbage disposal with some of them because they start getting all squidgy and soft before I can use them all. But NOW… I will slice ’em up the moment I get home & have a slice whenever I need one! Said it before/saying it AGAIN… I just LOVE this place! I have learned so much here [and not just household tips either]. Big hug Sue & GFs! :>)

        • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

          Janet, Yay! I’m glad I could be of service! And the frozen slice also cools your drink! Ta-dah!!

  74. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Last week we had the pre tropical storm rain, the tropical storm rain , and the post tropical storm rain!!!! Lately, it feels like a hot steamy sauna where everyday brings more showers…….and tons of mosquitoes! Such are the Summers of Florida. Your hydrangeas are lovely and so are the roses! And yes, as soon as real flowers make it into a vase in the house, Mr. Bump kitty beelines for a taste! What is up with that?? You cannot sneak it past him!! We kitty owners always have to watch over attacks on little flowers in vases. I think they have some kind of cat radar when it comes to fresh flowers!!

    • sbranch says:

      Curiosity too, they know when you’re fussing around something and want in on the action.

  75. Jack says:

    OK, I’m makin’ a list for the store to make Gazpacho today … gonna throw in a fist full of those little pink shrimp too ….

  76. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Such a treat, you and your blog! (Well, except I couldn’t get the music, had to sing to myself). Beautiful pictures & my shopping list has gazpacho ingredients on it! Healing wishes for your friend, that break sounds like an oucher! My fridge wants to be like your fridge, I’ll work on that today! A happy home needs a happy fridge – you can quote me on that! Now that I’ve had my SB fix, maybe, just maybe, I can get going…….! Many thanks GF & thanks to the rest of the GFs, love their comments too! xoxo

  77. Cindy Tuning says:

    Another rainy day here in Western NY but your blog always has plenty of sunshine. Nothing better than Red Zinger ice tea and homegrown strawberrys. My roses are being battered by all this rain but the scent is heavenly! I have all the windows open so I can enjoy that fragrance while it lasts. There was a spot on GMA on ABC this morning about a dog with a hair pattern that made him look like he had a mustache. They all thought this was so unbelievable!! Well..they don’t know Jack!! One more thing I have to tell you. My friend Carol was married last month to her fiance’ Skip. (that’s the only name anyone ever calls him) and I had them over for drinks. Soooo, in honor of their recent nuptuals,what drink do you suppose I made??? Skip and Go Nakeds of course!!!

  78. Jack says:

    Where does one find gazpacho soup —in the “soup” index of course …..not so ? Well then it has to be under the “Gs” —must be in a different book — don’t give up ,it’s somewhere…
    Ah ha HERE it is in theTs ….Guess for tomatoes — I know wasn’t in the Cs for cucumbers
    Aaarrgh !

  79. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    Dashing off to finish cumulative reports, hit the grocery store for ingredients for “Jack’s Mom’s” brownies [and gazpacho and Pat A’s beer margaritas too], get car inspected, get boxes for packing up classroom for 34th time [OMG], buy hanging baskets for my front door and porch, etc etc etc. Typical June day for a teacher. Let’s enjoy all this gorgeous green [we can pretend we’re England!] before we have to contend with crispy brown August grass! PS – those strawberries are so beautiful they should be in the Louvre! :>)

    • sbranch says:

      I’m just about to paint them!

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      What time is dinner? Gazpacho, brownies and beer margaritas? I’m in!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        It’s a deal, Chris! I wish we could have a huge Girlfriend party with everyone someday. Except that it would end up being SO HUGE we’d need Madison Square Garden and at least a week to meet everyone. And poor Sue would be squeezed purple by the end of it. PS – today’s brownies are actually headed to school to sugar-up the Fives [because they’re just not excited enough yet!!] :>)

        • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

          I dream of that huge get-together! Have to be in the mid-west to be fair. And yes……poor Susan would be purple from all the hugging that would go on:) 🙂

          You mean school’s not out yet???? Poor thing….it’s time for summer! You are dun! D U N dun!
          Love you all!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Wouldn’t that just be The Best? It would be like Christmas Eve when you’re little – none of us would be able to sleep for a few nights before the big event – for all the excitement!! No, HSs and colleges are done for the most part of course – but here in NY we are striving for a longer school year for little ones [something the US needs in this humble teacher’s opinion]. Not that there’s all that much learning going on right now – but we have the newly-updated “Jack and Girl Show” to keep us going [we never get tired of that]. :>)

      • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

        oh, goodie!! Are we having a cyber-party? I’m in! I’ll bring ice cream to go with the brownies!

  80. Marge says:

    Oh, Susan! Today’s blog was so lovely. There is no doubt that you do beautiful art work with your brushes and paints, but I want you to know how much I love the gorgeous pictures you paint with words. Through your excellent descriptions I can see, hear, smell and taste the deliciousness of your world on Martha’s Vineyard. Thanks for inspiring me to appreciate life.

  81. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫ Good Afternoon Sweet Sue…It was Fun Sharing a Lovely Cup of Tea with You Early This Morning (In Twitterville) 😉 I Love Your Musica La Mer ✿ ♫ Love That Movie “French~Kiss” with Meg Ryan she is so Funny in That Movie 🙂 I sort of Know all Her Lines By Heart! ( Not Kidding) 🙂 Love Love Love all Your Island Flowers Everything all in Full Bloom! ✿& Sun~Tea is One of My Most Favorite Ways to Brew Iced~Tea! Every Sip I Can Taste The Sunshine! Happy You are Happy Painting & Creating…. 🙂 & A New Summer “Willard” Huge Smile on Me Face! 🙂 You Have to Be Beyond Excited about “A Fine Romance” I Know WE are All Thrilled with Anticipation! 🙂 Well Our Sunny Skies are getting Dark Now Time for An Afternoon Summer Rain Shower! Yay! You Can Hear Those Flowers Singing! Love & Summer Pixie~Dust mixed with a few Raindrops! xoxo Splash! 😉 ✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫

    • sbranch says:

      I believe you about knowing all her lines! I loved Kevin Kline in that too.

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        🙂 Oh I Know Kevin Kline & Meg when He Has That Wine Tasting Kit he made as a Boy with the Herbs like Rosemary what a Scene! so Many Great Scenes Sweet Sue! Wishing You & Joe a Peaceful Evening Good~Night Sweetest Dreams xoxo Poof! 🙂 ✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫

  82. CarolK (NJ) says:

    What a hoot! Are you telepathic or something? I hunted up Le Mere on youtube a few days ago because with all the heavy rain we’ve been having I needed that French guy singing in my ears about the sea and here is your musicia for the day Le Mere! Love it!! I’ve got a huge clump of cat mint in my flower bed but my two don’t want to know about it. They go for the fresh catnip growing all around our deck. Fussy, fussy, fussy. One wants me to throw the leaves on the floor so he can roll around on it and the other wants me to hold the stem of leaves so he can nibble away. I ask myself, how do they do it, train us so well without saying one single word! LOL Hugs from NJ…….

  83. Lynn says:

    I couldn’t wait to make your Gazpacho and it didn’t disappoint! I did add the sour cream and shrimp and it was amazing. We have a local farm stand that sells flax seed bread perfect for croutons. My friend and I went kayaking on Sunday (one of the two lovely days as of late), had a picnic in the state park with the soup as the main course, and then visited some local wineries. A perfect summer meal for a great day. I will add the cayenne for a bit of zip. When I looked in “Heart of the Home” for the recipe, I remember the book signing in MV – 2004 at the Cornell Theater and you wished me “Happy Cooking” – and you are in my scrapbook. The sun has come out again – but not for long. Perhaps strawberry picking tomorrow. Love your posts and am eagerly awaiting your book. Your photos are lovely too.

  84. Carol (Daisy) says:

    I had to laugh when I saw your comment about “smelling the salt air and the corn growing in the sun-dappled field at the back of her property”. We don’t smell salt air here, but I thought I was the only person who used that term “smell the corn growing” because every time I do use it, I get all kinds of reactions!! Smell the corn growing??? Is that possible?? Here in Wisconsin that happens on hot, humid summer afternoons when there are usually thunderstorms threatening. I love those days. They remind me of growing up on a farm when my sister and I had to walk down to one of the fields and bring home a few dozen cobs for Friday night supper. More often than not, we did this barefooted!! Oh my gosh, now I can barely walk on our cement driveway barefooted. Thank you for bringing back wonderful memories. . . again!

  85. Jack says:

    The soup as we say in ecstasy – Vundebar!

  86. Brenda Caldwell says:

    I love the way you described your afternoon with your friend on her porch! Also, I am glad you mentioned the GMO modified corn. Of course, not just corn but in a lot of the foods we buy at our grocery store. I am a strong advocate of homegrown food, heirloom vegetables and supporting our local farmers markets. That is the only way now that we can control what we eat and feed to our children. Can you tell how strongly I feel about this? Lol

    • sbranch says:

      I feel the same way. In my Girlfriends book I talked about how my girlfriends and I had been talking about genetically altered food at our TGIF (p. 72) — that was in 2000 — I added the phone number for Congress/Senate offices suggesting we call and express ourselves to our reps. Just like with the banks and so many other things, they quit regulating the food industry. Their pro-business (profit more important than people) lobbies help them get away with (terrible word but almost true) murder. So I commend you on your advocation. What they are doing is so anti-family it’s hard to understand why they get away with it. The more of us that know, the better off we are.

      • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        We would all be better off if FOSB were running this world! 🙂
        The world be be a nicer, kinder and safer place to live.

        • sbranch says:

          One of my favorite quotes: “There is nothing wrong with the world that a sensible woman couldn’t settle in an afternoon.” We would not be democrats or republicans, we would be “the sensible party” and good sensible men everywhere could join, but a woman would have power of veto. For safety sake.

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Can I get a big AMEN, Girlfriends? To everything stated above? So true, so scary. And SO FIXABLE! These are not issues without solutions [we’re not talking about solving the conflict in the Middle East here]. We KNOW what needs to be done! The phrase “common sense” says it all and says it perfectly! If the lobbies and those they represent are allowed to go on Running Things, sooner or later they won’t be any customers left for all their businesses. For those who might be interested in what we ordinary folks [the 99%] can do in the face of the dominance of corporate America’s might, check out the Slow Movement [Wikipedia has a great summary at wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_Movement]. I think there are probably a lot of SB Girlfriends – and women everywhere – who would embrace what this movement espouses. It’s something I myself feel very strongly about. Thanks for listening. :>)

          • sbranch says:

            Joe and I have supported Slow Food for a while — and very very interested in Slow Travel! You sort of have to fight city hall to do it, the world wants us all to go so fast, but it can be done!

          • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

            Janet and Susan,
            Thank you so much for sharing about the Slow Movement. I had never heard of it until now. But I have felt strongly about slowing down for a long time. Without knowing it, I followed Slow Parenting!!–I was not going to have my 3 sons involved in every program possible. I gave them lots of time to play with each other at home; read books, etc.

            Society moves too fast–it is evident with all the medical issues people have today. I remember reading a quote from a psychologist that said something like, we are not superhuman–our bodies have limits. We were created for “camel travel”; instead of “high speed travel”. We need to slow down.

            And on that note, I am going to go outside and sit on my lounge chair and watch the farmer’s corn grow!!!

          • sbranch says:

            Never go faster than your guardian angels can fly! xoxo

          • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

            Should anyone ask me about my political affiliations again, I am a member of the Sensible Party and a card carrying member of The Slow Party! LOVE IT!

          • sbranch says:

            Thought we might honor Jane Austen — after all, she wasn’t allowed to use her own name on her books because she was a woman. So our party can be the Sense and Sensibility Party.

    • Julia says:

      All of these comments are “right on.” I love Susan’s idea, especially
      the one about the women retaining veto power! A must!
      I am a quilter and I love the traditional kind with a lot of hand
      work – even the quilting part but it seems now the quilting world
      has gotten faster, machine everything as fast as you can. It is
      the journey that is more important to me than the piles of finished
      products. If I read a class promo and it says quick, speedy, fast,
      or do it in a day – count me OUT. But that’s just me.

      • sbranch says:

        Those little hand-done stitches in the quilts I collect mean the world to me. Everything that’s ever mattered and truly lasted has taken a long time to bring together. Celebrating (heart-wise) each time the needle goes in, each time it comes out, that’s how something is made with love. You are leaving behind a forever-legacy that will be a treasure to the people who love you.

        • Elaine in Toronto says:

          Susan, you are so right. My mom’s legacy to her children and grandchildren were her beautiful quilts – love in every stitch. By the time her five great grandchildren came along mom could no longer see well enough to quilt…but the quilts will be handed down to them with love from one generation to the next.

  87. Janie Phillips says:

    I wrote a comment earlier but it was the victim of an Internet hiccup. I won’t rewrite it in case it mysteriously resurrects itself, but I have to tell you that the patriotic banner kit is adorable! I’m quite tempted by it 🙂 xoxo

  88. Peggy Cooper says:

    You lucky, lucky girl. First because of rain. None here in Southern Colorado. Still in a drought, and wildfires burning up the place. Second because of hydraenges (sp?). Can’t seem to grow them here and I love them. Too hot, too sunny, too dry I guess. My strawberries didn’t make it through this past bizarre winter. So we planted anew, and I’ve just been letting the robins eat them as they ripen. Hoping I can come up with a better mulch system this fall that doesn’t blow away in our intense winds, so we can actually eat some next year. The ones in the store are just not the same. Grown for shipping and not for taste I’m afraid – and picked before they’re really ripe.

    “French Kiss”, one of my favorites. Anytime my daughter and I see any reference to something to do with France, we say in unison, with a thick accent “You’re French, aren’t youuu?”

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, cute!

    • judy says:

      Try “Driskoll” strawberries if you can find them. They are from Salinas, CA and are wonderful–even after travelling to Nashville. We have pick-your-own locations here but these Driskolls are comparative. JA

  89. -marie vogt says:

    Oh Susan I check your blog almost every day to see if you posted anything new. And when you do it makes my day! I noticed in your photo when you were preparing the soup that you have a cutting board that slides out from underneath your counter. The countertop and cute little cutting board draw are the same that my nana had in her kitchen. I always loved that little board! I remember her cutting strawberries for my birthday cake on that board. It always was a strawberry shortcake. I miss her so much. Thank you for bringing a little nostalgia to my day.

  90. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! So nice to see your beautiful “Joey” rose!!!!! The peachy color looks so dainty, is it a hybrid tea rose? I was surprised to see the massive amount of strawberries produced by one little jump from your original little clay pot!!! Nature is so full of surprises!!! My mature lavendar (3’x3′) jumped over our patio sidewalk this spring and to my surprise planted two tiny lavendar seedlings!!! “Gifts” from the “garden fairy” don’t you think!!!! (P.S. loved all of the action photos of Jack in your previous post……pretty soon we will all want his famous autograph!!!!!) Take care.

  91. Deborah Borne From Fresno says:

    Hi Susan – I came across an interesting book and immediately thought of you. You are quite possibly already very familiar with this book and this bit of island history but I had never heard of it. Of course, I feel like Martha’s Vineyard is almost “home” because of the wonderful way you share your life there with all of us. Anyhoo, the book is Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness On Martha’s Vineyard by Ellen Groce. BTW I will definitely be trying out the Gazpacho recipe yumm yummm yummmm

    • sbranch says:

      When I first moved here they still had signs in a few neighborhoods, regular yellow traffic signs that said, “Caution Deaf Child” — not “children” — “child.” I haven’t seen them in a while, but I always thought that was amazing and wonderful to see — that the state made signs to take care of one child.

  92. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan….. also dodging the raindrops in St. Louis …painting here too!!! in-between rainy days…we have managed re-stained our redwood deck and painted one side of the house!! Pretty good for 2 “seasoned” homeowners!! I have decided if you can paint anything bigger than a car together and survive….you are a couple that is destined for happy togetherness forever……. ( I used to think it was going on float trip in a canoe with one sleeping bag, one blanket, a soggy package of hotdogs, and no matches, but the I changed my mind… 🙂 ). You guys took the grandest float trip of all time and look how that turned out!!! The green here is deafening…it is just gorgeous. I always thought that the official start of summer was that 1st glass of sweetened sun tea flavored with lemon and a sprig of mint…..not too much can compete with that!! everything looks beautiful on MV too….enjoy!!! love, cindy
    ps…just in case you were wondering, we are going to paint the other 3 sides of the house..eventually…..can’t go to the well too often!!! xo

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, I love your marriage tests. I think the one in the parenthesis might put us over the top! Joe and I are good traveling, all except for driving, our cone of silence. I love your exclamation marks — you are happy!!! 🙂

  93. Jack says:

    Breakfast! Shredded Wheat biscuit topped with Raisin Bran laced with Flax, topped with big fat blueberries in the big yellow bowl you sent me. Why are the raisins in Raisin Bran always petrified?

    • sbranch says:

      Good question! I don’t know. Maybe they think we like them chewy!

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        oh yes, the chewy raisins are the best part of raisin bran.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Jack, are you “channeling” my dad? He LOVED Raisin Bran and was always asking that same question?? :>) I think Pat M has a great idea – buy “plain” cereals and we’ll add our own fruit [fresh or dried]. I make oatmeal with dried tart cherries in the winter, and Shredded Wheat with any fresh fruit in the Summer. Sometimes I even bring Shredded Wheat to school for lunch. :>)

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      If they were soft and moist, they would mold in the cereal…you can purchase plain bran flakes and mix in your own and they would be nice and “not-petrified”… 🙂

  94. Melissa says:

    Just wondering if you have seen this sight on-line anywhere from England. I saw it in a post by blogger Jane Brockett in yarnstorm.blogs.com. Here is the link to the beautiful Buttercups in England. dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2338970/For-change-yellow-peril-rapeseed-keeping-country-colourful-Bumper-crop-buttercups-late-start-summer.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

  95. Belinda says:

    Susan….Great blog entry…thank you for sharing this recipe with us. Can you tell me what I can use as a replacement for the oil please?

  96. Jerri says:


    I was looking at your recipe for the Homemade Chicken Stock and I was hoping you could tell me the size of your Stock Pot……looks like maybe a 16 or 20 quart, but can’t tell for sure from your photos.


    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure you’re right — I’m not really sure — I just use my biggest ones when I make stock. You want to be able to completely submerge the chicken. Hope this helps!

  97. Mary S. says:

    Your cut flowers are sooooo beautiful!! Hydrangeas are my favorite flower to cut, and your “Just Joey” rose is breathtaking!!!
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

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

    hi Carol, okay so its a welfare family living there that is causing the problem. best to have your realtor to have a talk with them about how they are interfering with your house sale, and maybe a word to the local sheriff or cops about this problem. I am assuming that the house they live in is a rental, if so maybe a word to the person renting it to them may be advisable. also that person may or may not be aware of the number of people living there and if not, may be able to do something about it. had the same problem in Imperial Beach, CA….. San Diego county. had a welfare family living down the road from us, and their kids were rude, destructive and stole anything and everything they could find and get their hands on, the parents knew it and didn’t care, and when we complained to the local sheriff, nothing was done. we finally got hold of the property owner and let him know how many people were in that house and told him what they were doing. didn’t take too long and those people all 14 of them were evicted and told to go elsewhere. seems it was a huge family and they rented 3 other places from this guy. I look forward to seeing you in August, I don’t facebook but if Susan will allow me I could give my e-mail addy here and you can contact that way. okay with you Susan???

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      Just use “Anywho.com”… 🙂

    • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

      Thanks Pat…. I got your e-mail address and have sent you a test page just to be sure I wrote it down the right way. Yes, we do need to try to find out who owns the house across the street. The city has something to do with it as well. How I don’t know. One of our council members looked into it for us awhile back and gave us that information. A friend of a friend of ours said we should let them know that if they cooperate really well on the next offer, we would pay them ‘x’ amount of $ on the final sale. I had a smile at that, as it may just work.

  99. Rebecca (Riverside, CA) says:

    Hey, I have that same calendar hanging in my kitchen! 🙂

  100. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    I had a pretty exciting day! Woke up to a text message from my son at 5:30 CT that said “call me when you get this”. I had just talked to him last night? So I called. Apparently, while he and Sarah were having coffee, before the kids woke up, a black bear walked up on their patio!
    Google…..black bear in Bath Township, Ohio
    The picture of the bear on the patio was taken by my son. Wow, that is a new development! I lived there for almost 15 years and saw lots of wildlife…..but bear?! My son was very concerned since they have 2 small children. It would be un-nerving at best! I thought Texas was wild…..but the outskirts of Akron, Ohio? Exciting and disturbing……
    Bath, Ohio is in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and apparently Black Bears are making a comeback in the area.
    The clash of nature and people……a real dilemma.

    • sbranch says:

      Look at those gorgeous green woods … your son lives in a pretty place — but bears! In California they pick them up and carry them to the back of the National Parks and set them free again.

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Wow, Chris!! My good friend (the one I am going to the Beach with) lives in New Jersey–and they have had bear sightings too! Yes, it is un-nerving!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        OMG, Chris! I hope they were having coffee in the house [and not on that lovely brick patio] when they spotted the bear. The shot of the bear in the distance? That was taken after the fellow started to wander away from their house, right?? :>)

      • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        My FBFF (first best forever friend) is in NJ. Neshanic Station.
        My son thought it was very cool, a bear on your patio. But then you also have small children…..such a dilemma. Living with nature is a tricky dance.
        Hope you have a wonderful time at the beach. Yeah Summer.

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