It’s the last day of Spring!  And yesterday, just under the wire to qualify for “spring cleaning,” I worked my little fingers to the bone.  It needed to be done.  Every time we drive by our house, I see the mold that has formed on our front porch railings and it drives me crazy.  I put on some old MUSICA and went after it.

This housework didn’t kill me, but I did sleep well.

Yesterday morning I got out a bucket and filled it with hot water and a little bleach, put on my work clothes (read: not beauty queen) and a pair of yellow rubber gloves, prayed no one would notice the woman crawling around on her front porch at 7 am, which is an impossibility considering where our front porch is, but I told myself everyone would think I was the maid, and went to work.

This is the picket fence next to our front porch.  It lives in the shade under the Linden trees.  It doesn’t show that much from the front of the house, but I can see it and it was too awful to continue on this path.  Our house is old.  It was built in 1849, so it has seen a lot of summers — which aren’t all humid all the time, but they definitely have their moments. Which means mold.  And hardly anything is worse than mold on a picket fence.  Or on the “welcome home” front steps and bannisters to your front door.  We had let this get out of control.

 I’m sorry but green mold means your house does not look perky.

I should have started taking pictures earlier, I had already started when I realized I would need before and after pictures of this!  Mold on rails and bannisters, and especially on that little white painted strip under the doorstep.  Which is about eye level to our car when it comes up the street in front of our house.  Which is why such a little thing drove me crazy.  Was I doing my part in making the world a prettier place?  No.  I needed to do better.

So I went out there, crawled around and scrubbed away, with sponge, brush and toothbrush.

I made it all white and perky again.  I figure I got rid of a good 200 calories doing this so it was a win-win.

I could probably have hired someone, but it came over me yesterday morning that I could not go on another moment without having this done, and NOW was the moment.  I didn’t want to take time to find someone, wait for them to come, explain it to them, make a bucket of water for them, give them gloves, when I could just do it, while Joe was off island (he went off yesterday to look at cars, maybe going to get a new van) and I could surprise him.

Then I hung a wreath on the porch, and voila, we are done.

That felt so good, that I knocked off another hundred calories and washed my good old car with the hose.  I bought this Volvo in 1982, it’s my first east coast car.  When I got here, I looked around to see what people drove in a place where there was snow.  I saw a lot of Volvos, so that’s what I got.  She starts up in any weather no matter how long I leave her alone, and has never spent a day in a garage (or barn, because we like to fill our barns with STUFF and there’s no room). She is a very good girl even if you do have to use your arm muscles to get her windows up and down.  I could never let her go, she knows all my secrets.  After I washed her, I took her to the nursery.  It was a red letter day.

Here she is on a fall day in front of my first house on the island ~ she was brand new.  So anyway, she is clean again!  We went to pick up Joe at the boat last night and he was proud of us.

The other fun thing I did yesterday is join Goodreads!  Do you belong to Goodreads?I really just found out about it.  What a wonderful connective way to enjoy books and to learn about new ones.  During my childhood summers when I lived at the library, the librarians gave us a card where we could record all the books we read that summer ~ oh, I wish I would have saved one of those cards!  It gave me such a sense of accomplishment to fill in that little card. Bookreads is the modern version of that, with all kinds of connections between books and readers and tons of reviews from smart people who love to read.  Here’s my Booklist so far.  I didn’t add any books that I didn’t like yet, there are too many that I do.  But probably the biggest thrill of all was seeing A Fine Romance on the web for the very first time.  I guess it must really be happening!

What else, oh yes, getting ready for the book to arrive, I designed new Beatrix Potter pages for “I Love England” that even includes a reading list (you can see it at the top of this page, just click on I Love England and you’ll see parts one and two). I enjoyed every moment of doing it!

 OK Girlfriends, I must go, but here is your first assignment for today:  go get some thick rich creamy Greek yogurt (we use nonfat Nage — only 130 calories per cup) and a juicy watermelon, because they are sweet and ready now.  And some organic red grapes.  Chunk the watermelon in bite-sized pieces — put a serving into a cereal bowl with a few grapes, top everything with yogurt.  Sit down at your kitchen table, open up your favorite book and eat your breakfast to the tune of the songbirds.  Ahhhh summer.

  Assignment two, oh yes, two assignments from the taskmaster:  This weekend it’s time for the Strawberry moon — and this one should be extra specially big because the moon is as close to earth as it will be this year.  Plan ahead to spontaneously go see it with someone you love and make it an adventure.  Make a little picnic, pack a couple of sandwiches, or a salad with good cheese and fresh vegetables, a thermos full of some special sort of drink, creamy iced coffee, basil lemonade, skip and go nakeds, and go park the car in the perfect moonrise place nearest you because the moon is biggest right when it first peeks above the earth, or the sea, or the field, or over the mountain top.  See it from the car, or spread a blanket somewhere beautiful, even your own back yard.  

Make a wish, say a prayer, count your abundant blessings.

Happy Day Girlfriends! XOXO

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421 Responses to LAST DAY OF SPRING …

  1. Asha says:

    Good Morning, Susan! Thank you for the Goodreads tip! Can’t wait to join. My honey & I will celebrate Summer Solstice by enjoying a quiet dinner on the deck of our favorite restaurant. And to celebrate the Strawberry moon, we will bake a strawberry rubarb pie! Can’t wait for the weekend. Loved this blog = you always inspire me to do something I keep putting off – like cleaning. You are a joy. Happy Summmer, Susan & Joe and all the Girlfriends! 🙂 oxox

    • Patty G says:

      Your’re just tooo much, turning scraps into wonders… thanks for all of your inspirations. Always a joy to hear what you’re up to, keep us posted

  2. Ann says:

    Morning Susan! I am on Goodreads also. I noticed you had Pollyanna on your list. I just read the Betsy-Tacey series for children (yes I’m 49!). It is by Maud Hart Lovelace. I must have missed that series as a child. I figure you must adore Tasha Tudor too.
    Many of your books are on my list. Be sure you don’t miss books by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Amy Tan, Fannie Flagg, Lisa See, Pearl Buck, Susan Monk Kidd, Jan Karon, & Rebecca Wells. You seem to like happy books with strong woman. These authors might be of interest. I am looking forward to the arrival of your new book. Wish I had it for the summer!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I have read books by all of those authors Ann … Gift from the Sea, Whistlestop Cafe, Redbird Christmas, Ya Ya Sisterhood, Home in Mitford, Secret Life of Bees, on and on. So many wonderful books . . . I just haven’t had time to chronicle them all. I have a first edition of Kate Greenaway’s Almanac from 1883, little pride and joy. It’s so fun to see who influenced who.

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        Kate Greenaway’s Almanac from 1883!! I am SO feeling my eyes go greener! Lucky-duck! Have you heard of the new book coming out this September… “Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines?!” You thought I was going to say another new book didn’t you (; FINE….I’ll keep waiting and waiting and waiting….but I am kinda like ExCiTED!!!

      • Ann says:

        Thanks for friending me on Goodreads. I’ll be following your book choices. I just requested a few of your picks from my local library. I’m always looking for a book I like so much that I want to own it. :)) Try “March” by Geraldine Brooks if you haven’t read it yet.

        • sbranch says:

          I have it, just haven’t gotten there yet. I have a mini library of books that require me to own them. I would never have room for every book I’ve read, and some of them don’t deserve it anyway, so I understand your quest.

  3. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Well, never going to have a mold problem here:)! If I wander outside at 7:00, I am usually in my PJ’s, remember I have no neighbors! I think I will just weed this spot, or I will just sweep the porch, next thing I know it’s 10:00 and I’m still not dressed! That was galant work to put in so early! The porch looks great!
    I loved the library too. My girlfriend and I spent many hours sitting on her porch, each of us reading a book. In the summer, the bookmobile came to the playground at the school. I can hear the generator running and smell the books inside….I loved the bookmobile!
    Will be watching for the moon tonight from my porch, with a glass of wine!
    Happy Summer Everyone ….it’s official.
    Oh and thanks for telling us about Goodreads, I will check it out.

  4. Good Morning All, I just finished reading all the comments and as I kept reading the word BLEACH…all I could think of is how many white spots on your colors did you end up with Susan?? I will use the Clorox Bleach Cleanup in the bathroom and come to sit down and sure enough bleach spots on whatever top I have on!!! UGH It is a curse with me and bleach so maybe the answer for me is to put on all white?? I think cleaning inside/outdoors is therapeutic and good for the soul….not always a “happy” job but necessary. The reward we all get is PRIDE so ladies put on your whites and get out that bleach and let’s clean up America (well maybe just your little piece of the planet) to start out!!! I’m wondering if I might be able to sale my spotted tops as modern art?? nah

    • sbranch says:

      That’s exactly why I changed my clothes — live and learn!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        Deborah try making yourself a cobbler’s apron to cover your shirt or blouse and protect it from the bleach, use some white printed fabric.

  5. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    Have I told you lately that I think you are perky wonderful! And really normal too! (; Loved imagining my Kevin Kline Jack singing La Mer and would love love to hear him say, “Gazpacho!” It’s never too late to give a shout out to your Daddio Jack……so, “Jack, you did really really good! Happy Father’s Day…filled with all the pork chops your heart can hold!” Susan, it makes me happy to know you are enjoying your so far summer! Keep being YoU! or should I say Normal?! It’s the same same…win win…perfect…YoU! Just really wanna say thank you for all your wonderfulness (: (; xo Dawn

  6. Carol (Daisy) says:

    “Thanks for the memories”. . . again!! Seventeenth Summer, which “took place” near our area of Wisconsin, also the Skip and Go Nakeds (as one of the other girlfriends did, we also called them Strip and Go Nakeds, how wicked but there was never any stripping going on!!!) were a staple at every beach day gathering at our local pool (pond) one summer. Will have to surprise everyone with a pitcher full at the July 4th get together, and again 100% sure there will be no stripping taking place!! You did a great job with the mold removal. Your curved railing is lovely,

  7. Oh, my… We must be long lost sisters. The library was my favorite place as a little girl as well. I could hardly wait for my weekly visit with my Mom. It was such a magical place and made me a life long voracious reader. When we moved to the Sierra Nevada mountains we looked at what everyone was driving in the snow, without chains, and it was the Subaru! …and the third thing- my first blog was called” Housework When Done Correctly Can Kill You”. WordPress didn’t like me though so I abandoned that one and started a new one.

    Happy Solstice everyone!

  8. Michele says:

    Susan, Thanks for posting. My hubby and I (and our fur-baby) are kinda isolated, lately. (All of our family live miles and miles away), so when I get your posts (that seem so personal) it’s like I have a friend who comes to my house, at least, once a week! I LOVE it!!!

    Thank You!

    XoXo’s to the kitties (and a ‘hello’ to Joe)

  9. JoAnne Daniels says:

    Susan — I so enjoyed your trip down memory lane at your local library. I’ve been the graphic artist at our local library for 20 of the 40 years I’ve worked there.
    (In case you think I’m a wizened, stooped, old woman with a walker; I’m only 61)
    I started at the library in diapers!! Instead of a “blankie”, I carried a stack of
    golden books with me everywhere. I would lose myself in the illustrations, and especially today, some of the best artwork can be found between the covers of children’s books — with the exception of your wonderful books, of course!!
    I’ll bet you could write and illustrate wonderful children’s books…ever thought about it?
    My husband and I love to watch the full moon come up — we know some of the best spots to watch. There is a place called “Sunrise Mountain” where you wend your way to the top via a one-way road and you can watch the sun set over Pennsylvania and then drive to the summit and watch the moon come up over New Jersey. Lest you think we’d be stuck there, the road continues through Stokes State Forest and comes out further up the highway. Occasionally we’ve seen a black bear or two; sometimes they traverse our yard.
    As you know, the last 2 years have been very rainy here in the East and I know exactly what you mean by mold. We have our share and one of these days I will roll up my sleeves and set to work, or I’ll take the easy way out and nag my husband to get out the power washer.
    Today is the first day of summer and I plan to enjoy it from sunup to sunset.
    The fireflies are back! Yea! I love to see watch them twinkle in the darkness.
    It’s also time to watch the movie “Meatballs” — do you remember the kids singing “Are you ready for the summer?” It’s a tradition with us.
    Happy summer to you and all the girlfriends.

  10. Barb says:

    Hi Susan, Your elbow grease paid off, the railing looks brand new! I love seeing your beautiful home and appreciate all the tender, loving care you put into making it such a special place.
    Your library story reminded me of my childhood reading. We were too far from town to walk to the library, but a bookmobile came around once a week in the summer. It was like a treasure box on wheels!
    We had a perfect summer evening in Michigan last night and we enjoyed it at a free concert in the park in Milford. The band played 60’s rock music (the music of my youth) and did a great job! We noticed the moon rising, but I was not aware that it would be a Strawberry Moon this weekend. I love your moon picnic suggestion!
    Have a great weekend and thank you for all your beautiful blog entries. Counting the days till A Fine Romance arrives and also our September trip to MV!

  11. Good morning Susan! I put the sight of you in your work clothes cleaning your front porch up there with your dustbuster episode.

    The next time Joe paints the fence have him add a mildew inhibitor to the paint/stain. After scrubbing my entire white picket fence one year I did this and it has really helped.

    We were staying at a house on the Chesapeake Bay during last month’s full moon. It was considered a supermoon also, but this one will be larger. We were graced with the spectacular scene of a cruise ship all lit up as it slowly moved just underneath it. Because of your moon bookmark I’ve been inspired to take a photo this year of every full moon. I also captured last month’s moon setting the next morning over the pond behind the rental house. You could see its reflection in the pond! The things we can experience if we just pay a little more attention.

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

    good morning everyone, Happy First Day of Summer. just got back from sitting on the front porch and watching the deer come around to visit, left some cracked corn and water out for them to enjoy. looks like a nice sunny day for here, tomorrow we get the rain moving in again. got all my cleaning done yesterday so today I get to goof off a little and enjoy the visit with the deer, 3 young females, and watch them play with the turkeys. they don’t seem to mind the big birds, and the turkeys don’t mind them. Susan can I send you something in the mail??? its a couple of articles on the slow life here in Oregon, well my section of Oregon. we had a road rally with antique cars running the roads and back roads of our area for 4 days touring around and enjoying the sights. and one of our pubs has opened up to the families and started having hootenanny nights every Friday this summer, you can bring your instrument and come sing along with everyone there. good times here for the summer, plus we have movies in the park. you bring your own drinks, and munchies and chairs and set up and watch some classic movies in the park at sunset…loads of fun and it starts this weekend here. starting out with Mrs. Miniver and That Forsythe Woman starring Greer Garson. next weekend we get a kiddies show, Mad Mad Monster Party, Hocus Pocus and The Haunted Mansion. its fun for all ages. care to come around for night at the movies or a hootenanny??? loads of fun to be had. Happy Summer everyone!! hugs…. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Both of those movies, in a park, in the dark, on a beautiful night, how wonderful! We have sings here, at the open Tabernacle. Follow the bouncing ball!

      • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

        Susan and Pat ~~~ the movies and sing-alongs sound great. On Thursday evenings down at the waterfront we have concerts. I have to tell you, though, we don’t really enjoy them. Very loud and they just bring out all the wierdos. Wish we had something that is more family friendly.

    • Carolyne says:

      Hi there Pat~ I’m in J’ville, you must know our little “village” has its own summertime nightlife (the musical kind).
      Loved the story of your ‘does and big birds’~I have fun with my own wildlife (deer and turkeys)~it usually involves trying to get into my garden!
      Next time I’m passing through your little “village” I’ll give you a holler. Nice to see a fellow Southern Oregonian!
      {{hugs}} ♥♥

      • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

        hugs right back to you Carolyne!!! thought I was the only Oregonian here!!! Carol we had that music fest down in San Diego at Imperial Beach where we lived, free music concert at the beach, problem was it was either rock, rap or a mix of both and it encouraged the transients to come around. got rather nasty so we stayed away after awhile. we love our movies in the park here, can’t wait for Mad Mad Monster Party, haven’t seen it since I was a kid. 🙂

        • pat addsion (cave junction,OR) says:

          Carolyne my fun with the turkeys is trying to keep them away from my clothesline when I hang out the laundry to dry, especially when I do the bed sheets. ever see a turkey yank a sheet off the line, and start to drag it all over the yard and somehow get it over her so she is all covered and start running around to get the sheet off, and getting that once clean sheet all dirty again???? well now put me in the picture running and yelling ” NO, NO, NO, NOOOOO!!!!!! and getting the sheet back from an enraged female turkey, and having to go back inside to wash it again and get it out on the line to dry while it is still sunny in the back. that’s my fun with the turkeys!!!

          • sbranch says:

            Our turkeys are wild and show up whenever they want, not all that often, they keep moving along, grazing as they go and don’t approach people. But it sounds like you raise them, is that right Pat? Or are they just sort of pets? Because they are not afraid of you — do they just go where they want?

  13. Nettie says:

    I love it when I get the energy to clean like you did. Seems that some mornings are made for just that sort of thing.
    I love to be in my garden early in the morning weeding, picking and fussing when I should be getting something important accomplished. That is when I say to myself “this is important” inside the house is work; the garden is just plan fun. The winters are long here in upstate New York so I am so excited to celebrate the first full day of summer today.
    Your porch looks lovely though I must say I never saw the mold or the green, only the charm showed through.
    Happy Summer Susan…….

  14. Linda Lee Miller says:

    Hello Susan,
    Just enjoyed reading your blog….the beginning of summer is exciting as I’m celebrating my 44th wedding anniversary today! Time truly flies when you are
    living life to the fullest! So many memories to saver! Thanks for the reminder about the moon…wouldn’t want to miss it in all its glory! Wishing you and yours a lovely summer!
    Blessings to you, Linda

  15. Jack says:

    We need to go put a roof overhang and railings on the front stoop at Holly Oak — it looks unfinished as it is —kinda flat faced , like an owl…

  16. Jack says:

    We’re going out for fish and chips tonight –however Jeanies going to have FROGLeGS

    • sbranch says:

      Really? You have Froglegs where you live? Is there nothing else on the menu? Do they taste like chicken?

      • Jack says:

        They were just a special extra — the regular menu was still available — on occasion when out on the deck, we can hear the frogs honking in the little lake on the golf course. To me, they have no real flavor — it’s just the crispy breading you taste. You have to be careful not to bite through the teeny tiny leg bones — look like human leg bones, only about the size of pencil lead. Strange, I’ll be 90 in August and that was the first time I ever saw cooked frog legs!
        We saw the MOON! Coming up over the mountains near Sedona last night, from out on the deck … Very good ol’e deck … On the 4th we will see the town fireworks display from out there …

        • sbranch says:

          You’re in a beautiful spot! I wonder where the restaurant gets the frogs? Did you ask?

          • Jack says:

            I doubt if they “get whole frogs” they no doubt get packaged frozen frog legs from their food supplier. We know someone with a friend in Camp Verde who has ponds where he raises his own frogs. In re: Frogs, end of discussion!

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            I’m sorry Sue but I wanted to write “from the frog pond, of course.” 🙂 I’d be happy to scoop up the whole pond full of spring peepers from the pond near our bedroom window and send them to a restaurant! In fact, I’d probably pay the restaurant to take them!!!
            Ugh, I’ve heard they taste like chicken, also, and also that they look like miniature human legs (unless, of course, the webbed little feet are left on!) Just think how effective a diet plan that would be–frog legs for every meal and other gross things… 🙂

          • You brought back memories of my Parents cooking Frog legs when I was about 13. My Dad liked the off beat in food…lol When I saw the legs jumping in the pan like they were still alive I passed on eating them. He did try to tell me they tasted like Chicken and I said, fine give me some chicken. 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            Good answer. It’s the word frog. If they could call it anything else, I’d be fine as long as I didn’t hear it connected with that word!

  17. Jan says:

    Speaking of good books, libraries… and the love of cats, have you all read, “Dewey” by Vicki Myron? Touching, true story about the life of a library cat.

    • Elaine in Toronto says:

      Jan, I loved that book. Every library should have a Dewey – a good will ambassador. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every library could adopt a homeless cat? A little impractical, I know, but a team of volunteers could look after the cat on long weekends when the library is closed. We have 98 libraries in the city of Toronto – 98 cats would find a good home and lots of people to love them.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        What a wonderful idea, Elaine! Like so many “boutique” hotels now, with their “concierge kitties” [or dogs]. How terrific it would be for that to catch on! Something tells me there’d be no shortage of kids [or adults] who’d volunteer some time for animal duty [even take them on weekends etc]. A valuable educational [for both brain and heart] experience for all involved. :>)

  18. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    Sue, you could blog about nothing other than books year in and year out and this Girlfriend would still be one happy camper. I just saw “The Help” last weekend – on my Mac during a power outage – how cool is that? – and now I HAVE to read the book [books are invariably better than the movies]. Currently reading 4 Gladys Taber books from your store started. Couldn’t decide which to begin with so I jumped into them all. One more still on its way to me as we “speak.” Also reading “First Mothers” – biographies of the Presidents’ mothers from FDR through Clinton. Highly recommend this.

    Love the photo of your first island home “Holly Oak.” I just love it when houses are named. Does your Vineyard Haven house have a name? People used to do that a lot, even in the cities, but now you usually only see it with vast country estates. I have city friends who named their brick Victorian-era house “Sursum Corda” [Latin for “lift up your hearts”]. Suits them perfectly! After a lot of thought, I’ve picked one out too – and will be ready-to-roll when I win the lottery and start looking around for my own little farmhouse or cottage [with an acre or two] in the country [though a nice burb would be OK too]. Enjoy the weekend with the Strawberry Moon [Brian Williams on NBC News even mentioned it tonight], Sue & Girlfriends. :>)

    • sbranch says:

      That Brian, he’s such a Girlfriend! 🙂

      • Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

        I also heard Brian mention the moon. Speaking of books, I’m presently reading “Alone Yet Not Along by Tracy Leininger. It is about 2 sisters captured by Indians during the French and Indian War. There is to be a movie out soon. True story. Also am reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. Alice fell and hit her head and lost 10 years of memory. I read the “Help”… very good book and loved the movie as well.

  19. Kathleen from Philly says:

    Thanks, it did my heart good to see the before photos of your spring cleaning. Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves for all those chores that get neglected. I retired about 2 months ago and have been working on a lengthy “to do” list of all those chores but what a high now that headway is being made! Rooms are being painted, closets and drawers cleaned and selling extra stuff on eBay! I have to remind myself that there is plenty of time for that stuff & allow time for gardening and babysitting and fun stuff. Also, have been a lover of libraries all my life. They were my refuge as a child when I needed a place to escape to. In my adult life, I ended up working extensively in libraries. I visit them when we travel, also old book stores! And you reminded me, I also loved “Seventeenth Summer”! Such a sweet book of a simpler time, I will have to find a copy in a used book pile somewhere. Looking forward to your latest effort & perhaps planning a trip to Hilltop of our own. Today’s mail brought “At Home with Beatrix Potter” by Susan Denyer, can’t wait to snuggle up with it. Lots of gorgeous photos! Time to go & look at the moon!

  20. MaryAnn says:

    Happy first day of summer, Susan! Your porch looks great. You are ready for summer now! I similar fond memories of the library in the summer when I was young, too. The wonderful smells-yes! A new library opened in the adjoining city to ours two weeks ago. After years in a crowded building, it is now in the heart of the downtown area, in a remodeled old building that used to be a hardware store. They have added a flagpole outside and some neat artwork, too. I am anxious to get in there and have a look around. I love old buildings that have been renovated, rather than tearing them down. Looking forward to seeing the moon come up (or as our youngest son said when he was little “Look! The moon came down!”). He is a dad now with little boys that say similar fun things. Have a happy weekend.

  21. Asha says:

    Hi Susan! Love this blog! Love your car! Love your house! Love you! 🙂

  22. Julia says:

    I’m just loving this book blog! I’ve read lots of them but
    some are new to me. Can’t wait. The First Mother’s book
    sounds wonderful. I know Jack is loving this “boy” blog
    about all of the cars. If you name your new antique car
    it should be Hazel. She is still a beauty! Also, love libraries,
    especially old ones. And I loved the bookmobile that came
    down our street in the summertime. Never missed it.

  23. Deborah Heater (Indiana) says:

    Happy Saturday Everyone!!! Susan, I just received one of those Inspirational Videos on Life and having no regrets….anyway, it was set to the music and song “Starry Starry Night” (Vincent) by Don McLean…just love that song and it made me think how appropriate that song would be for everyone while we enjoy the Strawberry Moon tonight. Just wanted to share. Happy Weekend!!!

  24. Barb McD. :-) :-) says:

    Your blog today was a trip down memory lane. During the summer I would ride my bike to the library in downtown Los Altos (CA). There was a large window seat where I could perch and read for the afternoon. I would then check out as many books as would fit in my bike basket and head home to the big fig tree (again perching) and read. I still have my original library card with the medal plate! One book that stood out for me was “The Pink Dress” by Anne Alexander and I am happy to say it is sitting on my bookshelf. I love my laptop (I refer to it as my library to the world) and Kindle, however there is absolutely nothing that can compare with the impression a library leaves on my heart. Hugs and Sunshine!

  25. Linda Petersen says:

    Hi Susan & Girlfriends! Happy Summer to you all :0). Good job on the mold~~~& the car, she’s a beauty for her age. My library story is very similar to yours & some of the other girls. Had to walk farther to get there but it was worth it & being the age I was~~~I really didn’t notice. Those days were heaven! Finally our town was on the bookmobile route & I remember how excited I was waiting for it to arrive every Saturday in front of the Jewel T grocery store. The summer program had an ocean theme that first year. Each time you completed a book you were given a sticker to put on your record sheet. By the time it was all filled in~~~you had a very colorful scene complete with a diver, treasure chest, shells, & seahorses. Now~~~I collect books that I read from my childhood & teen years. Hunting for them @ thrift shops & online. It’s so sweet when I find them in good condition & of course they live in an old bookcase I rescued from Goodwill. Does any one else do this?? I also have the Gladys Tabor books thanks to you Susan! And, I love old cookbooks.
    Anyway~~~there are no fireflies here in AZ but I remember catching them in jars in IL. So~~~I found a battery operated jar of fireflies that I take out each summer & turn on in the evening for a little bit of magic.
    Have a wonderful weekend & enjoy the Strawberry moon everyone!
    XOXO, Linda

    • TJ in VA says:

      Hi Linda,

      I also collect my favorite books from my childhood. Even before I became a grandmother, I wanted to share the books with my grandchildren. My granddaughter started reading my Betsy-Tacy-Tib books when she was 6, and she loves the series. I have the complete collection, as well as The Betsy-Tacy Companion which is a research volume that compares the books to the actual life and friends of Maud Hart Lovelace…wonderful…wonderful. I also have the Ginnie and Geneva books, the Winnie-the-Pooh collection, and a few of the Dick and Jane books.

      When I was a teenager, my favorite books included: Seventeenth Summer, Gone With The Wind, Atlas Shugged, Hawaii, Great Expectations, To Kill A Mockingbird,
      The Diary of Anne Frank, Michaelangelo, and Cheaper By The Dozen.

  26. Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

    Summer is here! 🙂 Frisbees, barbecues, marshmallows, picnics, flip flops, bocce ball, baseball, books, beach, sun, all kinds of fun! Thanks for the wonderful post Susan! The wreath on your beautifully clean white porch was the perfect finishing touch for summer! Life is good. ♥

  27. Rosemary says:

    What an accomplishment to get your white railings all spiffy again! Elbow grease! It makes such a difference in how we look at our own property. Chances are, someone else would not even see it the way it was before. It seems like I am most likely to do the little, piddly things that do not show. I actually have quite a few tasks on my list…pretty major, in fact. My laundry room! Want to rip off the wallpaper and redo it. That requires a lot of moving stuff around…..oh dear. I get bogged down very easily.
    I think we are taking a picnic up to the lake where our friends are camping so we can see the strawberry moon. It should only be about 97* this afternoon….so we might not get totally fried. Think of all of our SB friends looking at the same moon at pretty much the same time. Isn’t that sweet?

  28. Gail Buss says:

    Dear Susan, What a great job you did on the mold! A little bleach goes a long way but it was your elbow grease that did the most! I laughed at the toothbrush too because I use them all the time cleaning around the sink faucets and other areas and they work great. Your Volvo is neato! I loved your first house, Holly Oak, as well as your present house. I’m planning to look up Goodreads next. Sounds great and I love all the tips you bring us. Last but not least……………..the moon this week has been very special every night but we’ll keep watching. Hugs to you, Gail Buss

  29. Linden honey is among my favorite; it’s so deliciously good!

    • sbranch says:

      Our Lindens positively BUZZ with excitement … we should get a hive!

      • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        I will bet there is a bee keeper on the island who would love a spot to keep a new hive. Think of all the free honey!
        Can you tell my parents kept bees? When I moved to Texas, I used to help them with the hives. It is fascinating. Plus you get honey! 🙂

  30. Christine says:

    I am so looking forward to the strawberry moon. I love strawberries! I decorate with strawberries! I eat them! The lovely juicy morsels! And with the full moon.
    I love your book list and writing about the library! It takes me back to our Carnegie library in Covina. I too remember the smells and the books! That library building is long gone now and the ” new” building never compared. So I have built my own personal library which I love and share with family and friends. I am so looking forward to adding ” a fine romance”.

  31. Carolyne says:

    I love the vision of you at 7AM scrubbing your railings……..just like the rest of us ♥♥ I’ve got to be inspired~!

  32. Faith rose says:

    I love books !!Me and my best friend had a sleepover and later we sat on the trampoline and read Betsy and Tacy out loud to each other!I love friends!I read this really good book called Calico Captive and now it is one of my favorites (I cried)!I am sure you would like it , I couldn’t put it down! Summer time is here again!

  33. Melody says:

    Oh Susan, I love it that you joined good reads! I will have to look for you there. It’s fun to share book recommendations with friends. I placed an order with our library book jobber yesterday for A Fine Romance! I am looking forward to reading it!

    Great work on your mold removal job. It looks so nice now after all your hard work.

  34. Hi Susan! I took your advice and spent last evening in the backyard of friends, catching up around a little fire and watching that beautiful moon rise. And early this morning took my sweet old doggy for a nice walk to watch the moon set/sun rise. Beautiful colors! Summer is just a whole bunch of good.

  35. lesley kemp says:

    Susan, when I read about you labor intense porch washing, I thought to myself, she needs a water pressure machine. We got ours at Costco. You just hook it up to your hose, turn on the machine, point to the moldy areas and watch them disappear under the pressure from the water. It’s like magic. We wash our built in 1878 house every year with the pressure washer. Afterwards she just shines like a young 135 year old.
    Loved your library blog and it certainly brought back fond memories. Like so many others have already stated—the bookmobile and the smell of the books inside that vehicle. We even did summer crafts at the library. I made so many puppets. And to get a star sticker after you read so many books. That sticker was a real prize and the feeling of accomplishment was enormous.

  36. Karen Saunders says:

    WOW!!!! Looks brand new!! Good job!!

  37. Susan on Bainbridge Island in Wa. state says:

    HI there! I just turned the corner from Spring to Summer….So, just for fun and for getting things done around here(!!)….I have the music blasting (just like I did as a teenager)…and it is all “Summer Music” …..Summertime Blues, A Summer Song, Summer Breeze, Surfer Girl, School’s out for summer, Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy days of Summer, Saturday in the Park, California Girls, In the Summertime, Summer Nights from Grease, Hot Fun in the Summertime, Summer in the City…and the list just goes on and on….There is something about having the music loud and the summer sun….I guess that part of me will never grow up!!! I adore the combo!…………..So off I go, into the summer like all of us girlfriends, finding so many wonderful memories to be made, and to take them into the fall and wintertime…..and to fill journals about our Crazy days of Summer~!!!! Strawberry Moon is now the Supermoon…I really prefer the Strawberry Moon!!!
    Hope your weekend was wonderful and a new week filled with love and laughter…Thanks, Susan……………I adore Holly Oak, that is my kind of place!!!! Adorable and so welcoming! and “Sweet Pea” is perfect for the Volvo!!!!!xoxoSusan

    • sbranch says:

      It’s only the Supermoon this year, next year it’ll go back to good old Strawberry moon. Happy Monday Susan!

  38. Nel E from Michigan says:

    Absolutely LOVE your blog, one of the highlights of my day when it comes out!! Your curved railing is gorgeous!!!
    I have a tip for you, if you haven’t thought of it before..
    Power washers are very inexpensive to rent and you will be amazed at how quickly that green mold comes off! It also makes your brick look brand new!! All this in a fraction of the time it takes on your hands and knees ;-). STELLER job, though, using elbow grease!

    • sbranch says:

      I do everything the slow way. I chop vegetables with a knife, take the train, go to England on a boat, make dish towels without a sewing machine, it’s in my DNA somehow — I need to be reminded there are quicker, faster, better ways to do the jobs that aren’t as fun as crossing the ocean or making dinner!

      • Julia says:

        What kind of dishtowels do you make by hand? I’m
        making some now – the slow way – by hand. I got the
        iron on “Aunt Martha” embroidery motifs. I’m
        embroidering teapots, frogs, etc. and trimming them
        with the rickrack that I’ve been collecting. That’s
        what I’m giving for birthday gifts this year.
        My daughter is here visiting and we did drive to the
        beach to see the moon. It was wonderful. Thank you
        for teaching me to enjoy the moon. Never thought
        of it that way before. It’ll come again in Aug, 2014.

        • sbranch says:

          If you look under HOME SWEET HOME at the top of the blog, and then under “Dishtowels” — you’ll see some of them there. Or HERE, here’s the link for it. There are some patterns in the web store too. What wonderful gifts you’re making! I’m so happy, you and your daughter and the moon! xoxo

      • Nel E from Michigan says:

        AND that is one of the MANY reasons you are so endearing to me! 🙂

  39. Jamie says:

    Good morning, Susan! It was a wonderful first weekend of summer, too, in Austin. Hasn’t even reached 100 degrees…..yet! I notice in your pictures lace curtain panels that look like the ones from Rue de France in Newport. It’s been out of business for several years. Do you know of another source for these lovely curtains?

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, try THIS.

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        The company, Country Curtains, which is located in New England, has a catalog and is online and they have very nice lace curtains, too…

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        Thank you, thank you for this website!!! I was just telling my husband I will need new ones if we move and I didn’t know where to get them anymore!

        • sbranch says:

          I just got my curtains today … ordered from that link. They make them the exact length you want them. Wonderful!!

  40. Deborah Heater (Indiana) says:

    Happy Monday, I hesitated to even comment this morning because I’m sorry but I am a “Debbie Downer” because I didn’t get to see the “Super Moon”!!! Therefore, I feel like I missed something special and I do not like not being part of the “popular group”?? hmmm I’m not kidding both nights I go out in my pj’s (thank goodness it was dark)….I’m standing on our driveway turning each direction and NOTHING!!! Poor Jim hearing me come back inside saying “no moon is out there”. I have to say when it comes to moon watching vs living in the burbs there isn’t wide open spaces that I am use to where all you see is sky/stars/MOON!!! I now know that I was going out to early (a lady needs her beauty sleep) so, I am almost over my disappointment and just wanted to say hello to everyone and wish all of you a great week!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Don’t feel too bad Debbie … We packed up, went to our best place, but the fog rolled in furiously, fast, you could see it coming, and we only got a few peeks of the moon between fingers of fog, and that was after it had been up a half hour — there was no moon over the water for us! There’s still tonight — it won’t be full, but to my eye, it will be very close!

      • Deborah Norling says:

        I wanted to share with others who may not have tried it,the cold brew method for ice tea. I use just regular tea bags no need to buy the “cold brew” ones. I use 1 bag per 1 cup of cold water…but you can experiment to taste..put all in a pitcher or jar with cover..cling film is fine.. place pitcher in the fridge for at least 5 hours or over night..and when it’s ready, it’s perfectly chilled..and has a smooth almost lightly sweet taste. I love the idea of sun tea..but I’m a bit of wimp thinking of all the out side bugs landing on my tea jar !

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      Hi Debbie! We can start our own group, called “The Ones Who Missed the Strawberry Moon!” 🙂 I didn’t see it, either. We’ve had so many stormy nights that I even forgot to go out and see if the moon was peeking through–and I usually always watch the full moons come up! There is a spot where we can see the moon come up behind evergreens and I always wish I had a camera that was equipped with the ability to take night shots as it would make a beautiful photo of the huge moon behind the silhouetted trees…”Beauty sleep”? That must be what is wrong–we’ve had so many sleepless nights with all of the storms. Friday night’s storm took down many trees and there are still people in the Twin Cities without power!!! 🙂

  41. Jennie says:

    I’m so inspired by your mold cleaning, Susan! Cleaning is the most wonderful and simple way to be content with what we have. 🙂 It certainly boosts my mood. Your post reminded me just how cob-webby our mudroom door and porch are. If it ever stops raining here I’ll have to get on it!
    Happy Summer!

  42. Trish Ladowski (Mtns of Western North Carolina) says:

    I loved hearing about the library. I worked in the library during high school and that was a great experience. I have enjoyed Goodreads for the last few months and it’s a great way to find books and see what folks have to say about them. I love your art and your blog and can’t wait to get your new book. Getting ready for a visit from my cousin (feels like a sister) that I haven’t seen in years. Your bleach job did great. I know you feel a sense of accomplishment. Have a great summer!

  43. Patsy-FL says:

    If you haven’t read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, you must. It was a fabulous read.

  44. Joy Wisa says:

    Hi, Susan,
    I too am an avid reader and librarian. Growing up, there was no library nearby, but we had a BOOKMOBILE! The most glorious thing in the whole world! It arrived at our supermarket every other Tuesday. You climbed up three steps and you were inside a book-lined truck. It was nicely decorated and had that wonderful book smell. Sitting behind the counter was a librarian who would help you find and check out books. As I recall, I was allowed to check out 10 books. Then the long walk home . . .
    It was great!

  45. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! I did not see the Super Moon……..but thought I saw the fire flies Saturday evening!!!! Just enjoying the hot humid summer weather in Dearborn, Michigan…..finally glorious summertime weather!!!!! I am ecstatic over my blooming lavendar, Shasta daisies, hybrid tea roses, coral bells and sweet Williams!!! So excited….. that I’m making up little bouquets for some of my neighbors!!! So simple gifts, but big smiles in return!!!! My philosophy is the more flowers you cut and give the more that will bloom! Saved all kind of jelly jars last winter and I tie vintage pink ribbons around them!!! I liked seeing your booklist Susan, can ‘t wait to read your Fine Romance!!!!!! (It should have ten more red little stars!!!!!) Happy Tuesday to you!!!!

  46. Kathy Thompson says:

    Hi Susan…Thanks for the info about Goodreads. Sounds like fun. I, too, remember the summer reading club cards at the library. Gosh, summer was so fun when I was ten 🙂 I was reading your bio on Goodreads and noticed the release date of your new book is September 1. That’s my birthday. So, guess which book is now on my birthday wish list. It was anyway, but actually told my hubby I wanted it for Christmas. Don’t know where I’ve been to have missed that it’s to be released on “my day.” Anyway, can’t wait. Hope you’re enjoying these first days of summer. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…just a few short months until autumn…my kind of season. Take care.

  47. Marianne says:

    Good morning ,
    I was doing the exact same thing to the mildew on my back porch railing.
    Bleach, water, a scub brush and a toothbrush and now it is sparkling white again! But this morning my back is telling me that it is true, housework done correctly well it didn’t kill me but my aching back oh. Just wanted you to know you are not alone in this chore. And we did enjoy the strawberry moon with a toast of good wine! Love your blog and can’t wait to check out another book, find a shady spot in my garden and read the afternoon away!

  48. Marianne says:

    After reading all the comments about using a pressure washer just wanted to say that when you are dealing with an old wooden painted railing a pressure washer can not only remove the mildew but the paint as well! Soooo I agree with you Susan good old fashion elbow grease works every time with no damage to the paint or wood. And I too like doing things the old fashioned way!

    • sbranch says:

      One of my picket fences out there is about a hundred years old, I’m sure a pressure washer would do it in — but otherwise, I still think I’ll get one for Joe for his B-day! I think he will like it!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Oh yeah, many uses for the power washer, Joe will definitely like it! And, they’re not kidding about the power part – whoosh – look out!!! We won’t tell him what his birthday gift will be & ruin the surprise!! xo

      • Marianne says:

        You are right about the pressure washer. My husband loves his. It does do a spectacular job on our deck. Looks brand new after using just water and the pressure washer. I like using it myself especially on a hot day.

      • Susan on Bainbridge Island in Wa. state says:

        It is amazing what a pressure washer can do…We have had one for years…It is a wet and dirty job to use it…BUT the work it does is unbelievable. Sidewalks, plastic patio chairs, the cars undercarriage, asphalt driveways, patio steps, decks, siding….Some washers you do have to be careful with..don’t get too close…and there are different nozzles you can use for different jobs….It is money well invested and I think Joe will love you even more for it!!!! Shhhhhh..keep it a surprise!!!! Be sure and get a gas powered one…….word of the wise!!!! trust me!!!!!! ha ha ……all for now xoxox

  49. Rosanne (Oregon) says:

    My kitty and I snuggled back into bed this morning with a cup of coffee (in my new Emma mug-love seeing the word “PINK” inside to start the day), to watch it rain on the flowers. Love the conversation about favorite books. All of Kate Morton’s books are wonderful, especially The Distant Hours. My granddaughter is almost 6, so it will be fun to get her into the classic childrens’ books. Just shared a fabulous week with her doing crafts, baking (as much flour on the floor and in her hair as in the biscuits!), planting flowers, playing games, sharing laughter. This Grammy is now “recovering” from all that energy, and I’m filled to the brim with love.

  50. suzk says:

    Your story about the library really took me back in time. I grew up in a small New England town (center of town was a cross road – Town Hall/Libary on one corner, church across from it, General Store on the 3rd corner and town cematary on the 4th). I’d walk to the library (about 5-6 miles) after chores, return the books I read and get new ones. It was the first time I had control over what I was reading (I was about 12-13) and when I first discovered Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, which began a long love affair with adult fantasy and science fiction. I can still remember the smells and warmth of that summer and that library. I realize now that I need to journal those memories. I also remember “discovering” an old road thru the woods that I later discovered was the main stagecoach road from the State capital to Massachusetts. That was perhaps my best summer as a kid.

  51. Gini Bellettini says:

    Susan, so glad to see your booklist! You had mentioned reading in an earlier post and I thought it would be nice to learn what you are reading. And I’m a member of Goodreads and love it! Great place to get recommendations and to keep track of what you’ve read. I like many of the books on your list and several are on my “to read” list.

  52. Mary says:

    Susan, when I read your blog and look at the pictures it feels so familiar. Our old house is so much like yours, colors the same, even ball fringe country curtains. And we had a couple of Volvos and VW bugs! Our house is in central Pa not Martha’s Vineyard which I hope to visit someday! Keep on doing what you do. Can’t wait for the new book <3

  53. Marianne says:

    Yes – spring cleaning – cobwebs, dust webs, dust bunnies, and this green mossy stuff growing on parts of our house just like your porch – and I said to my daughter that everytime I turn around I see more work to do. She said, “Don’t turn around.” : )

  54. Mary Shane says:

    I love reading your blog–an entry in my Feedly that I always read first. Such creative and lovely work.

  55. Paulij says:

    What a difference a lot of hard work and “elbow grease” made on your porch railing and general area and your car, Susan. Congratulations on a job WELL DONE. Thanks for sharing.

  56. Brenna Henry says:

    I’m loving GOODREADS, thanks for the tip! I also love your watercolor bookmarks! So cool! Happy Summer!!!! xo

  57. Julia says:

    Before we get off the book blog I must
    recommend The Poet of Tolstoy Park by
    Something (?) Bailey. It is one of my
    favorites and quite different. Thanks
    for all of the ideas girlfriends.

  58. Sonya Hewes says:

    I know that it is nearly impossible for you to come to Alaska to do a book signing (although I would LOVE you for it), I’m hoping to have a little piece of your masterpiece in the making to put in the Fine Romance that I pre-ordered. 🙂

  59. Teresa M. says:

    I was so happy to put “The Summer Book” on my coffee table recently. It’s a favorite by all who sit a spell in my little home! Happy Summer and thanks SB!

  60. Betsy from s. california says:

    Wow Susan—in so many ways you are a kindred spirit! I also have early library memories of the colored fairy tale books and I am reading Linda Lear’s book about Beatrix this summer( I am so lucky to have a signed book as a gift from my sweet sister-in-law) and I was so upset by the Lovely Bones book that I actually recycled it instead of giving it to the thrift store because I didn’t want to put anyone else through the misery and horror I felt. (I only confess this to you after I saw you gave it a low rating.) Looking at your list, I see we have read so many of the very same books —haven’t those books brought you wonder, comfort, joy and an appetite for a full and vivid life? Your blog is always inspiring!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I love what you did with the Lovely Bones. I did the exact same thing — why spread such misery. Yes, books can and should be, and ARE, so uplifting. Thank you Betsy!

  61. Loretta says:

    Hi Susan…..another great blog! Oh…………..I love the bookmarks you made! When I was in high school, I worked part time at the local library. Today, I still love to read…………and being I’m a crafter…I too make my own bookmarks. Then I laminate them and sell them. I hope I get one of yours in the mail!! Have a wonderful day…. hugs, loretta/San Jose

  62. Lydia Alejandro says:

    Ola Susan!
    I love the water color bookmarks! I have dabbling
    A bit in water colors also for a several years. But, clearly
    I am not as talented as you are! (For real). I may
    draw and paint an apple, but to someone else it may
    look like a horse, so i still have alot of work to do
    before my drawings look like their suuposed to!
    Oh well, i’m not discouraged. Thanks for being to be
    In the bookmark drawing. Gracias for your lively
    Blog. I enjoy it immensely! Enjoy your summer!

  63. Martha Jean Starnes says:

    Hello Susan-
    Your blog is simply my favorite! Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my mother taking me to our local public library in the summertime. I would leave with an armload of books and devour them when I got home and want to turn right around and go back for more well before the due date…I can still smell that “library book” smell…it was wonderful! I have not joined Goodreads yet, but I have a feeling I will sometime soon. I recently have come to the realization that both of my children have really flown the nest and that it’s ok for me to enjoy doing things that I like sooooo I’m getting back in touch my inner bookworm, cross-stitching and scrapbooking. Who knows, I might dabble in a little sewing as well! I’m a southern girl and in addition to your books, I love our southern authors…so those are the books and ebooks in which my nose is stuck this summer. Have you tried an ereader? Nothing will ever take the place of holding a book, but I love my Kindle…especially sitting on the beach! I noticed the mention of the upcoming Yankee magazine. I’m not familiar with that magazine, but if you and your work are it, it will be a must have for me! I must ask..are southerners allowed to purchase a Yankee magazine?! Lol!
    Thank you for sharing your creative gifts and talents to everyone and for bringing us and the world so many warm fuzzy feelings and so much joy!
    Happy Summer!
    Martha Jean from South Carolina

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe you need to get your Yankee in a Plain Brown wrapper, or make one from an old grocery bag! I love Pat Conroy.

  64. Jean Bach says:

    Susan, Thank you. I enjoy your blog very much. I hope to be able to purchase your new book. I used to travel. Venice, Rome, Italy, and Paris, France the food and sights,please. Jean

  65. Irene Santillanes says:

    Thank you so much for your “blog”; if I’m feeling a bit blue, which I am today, I can peruse through it and the sun comes out again! Many blessings!

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