Hello, it’s our first post from the other side, 2014, the beginning of a new year!  And we did it up right, with a huge snowstorm!  It’s a B L I Z Z A R D out there, so white it hurts your eyes, and big flakes still coming down, every tree branch is covered in snow, every leaf, the pickets on the fence, the bushes, everything.  MUSICA MUSICA (This is double whammy, first click on one, then the other, then come back to blog for ambience perfection.)


This storm makes the January page of my 2014 calendar a premonition!  In case any of you missed it, we still have calendars left if you need them.  We finally ordered enough of something!  We’re all sold out of Janie’s “winter” banners, but she’s making us some different ones for Valentine’s Day and they should be here soon.  We also have my Valentine cards ~ someone asked the other day, and yes, we do have them.  But I digress!  It’s a . . .

snow day


Or, our ancient white house would look like a ship in a still, white sea, if we could see it.  Like a ship in a storm is more like it.

January snow

It was still dark this morning when I started this post.  And look at the windows over the kitchen sink!  We’ve been frosted!

Later on we'll conspire as we dream by the fire

I tried so hard to peek out to see what was going on but the wind had coated everything in ice and snow.  Squeals of delightenment.  We love it!

Merry In The Winter



Luckily we have no place to go, and no desire to go there.  I’m all wrapped up, tee-shirt, two old cashmere sweaters, scarf, thick delicious handmade shawl that I adore, like being a child and having a bankie at all times, and flannel lined pants too.  We have heat, but we augment.


Jack and I have a fire, the heater is humming, the house creaks a bit in the wind . . . I’m eating leftover Mushroom Soup that Lowely made for New Year’s Eve . . .

candles are lit I lit some candles, just in case the lights suddenly go out . . .

 This is our first real snow . . . the last couple of days have been FREEZING cold ~ 28° when we go on our walk.

At the pond

But look how beautiful it is out there.  The way the sun sends rays through the breaks in the clouds.memory

dredging the pond

They are dredging the opening to the pond, something they do here every few years.  See that boat, that’s the dredge.  They are pulling sand out of the channel so that boats can get in and out of the pond without hitting the bottom.  The sand goes out through that pipe to the beach, the opposite of the way a vacuum cleaner works. Erosion steals the sand from the beach daily, exposing the little fishing shacks to storms. So dredging is a redistribution of sand, from one place where it’s a hinderance to another where it’s a blessing.  Ah men.  How smart thou art .


Joe and I have walked this walk almost every day (unless we’re away) since we bought our house in 1989.   We shall haunt it someday, but right now, we just try and go there as often as possible.  It’s my favorite part of the day.

dredge pipe

All this dredging is big excitement at the normally quiet-in-January shore.  Here’s the pipe running along the opening toward the sound.  That’s Cape Cod over there.

to the fishing shacks

Then the pipe makes a right turn to run along the beach — they put it wherever they want the sand to land … they already did this part of the beach, now they have taken it down toward the fishing shacks.

sense of beauty; susan branch art

following the pipe

Can you see how far that pipe goes?  Into the water and back out again.  Here, here’s a better look at it!

See how exciting?  It’s mesmerizing . . . listening to the water roar, watching the seagulls.  But COLD, my fingers are freezing so much I can’t turn the camera off.  Not such a professional ending, but the water is worth it.

sb border

lovely day in neighborhood

Prettiest place in the world.  One of the things I want to remember to do every day of this new year is write down what I did, the basics, not to be Jane Austen, but so I know what I did.  It’s going too fast, a blur.  I want these days remembered.  I want the double enjoyment that memory can bring, even if the memory part has to be helped along a bit.  I want to know I went to see the dredging and I’d like to know what I ate in front of the fire on New Year’s Eve, and now I do.  (Freezing cold iceberg wedge salad, with creamy blue cheese dressing, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and fried pancetta bits, and homemade Mushroom soup with rye toast star croutons. )



I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it yet.  But I did a new version of my now out-of-print Book of Days!  It’s very much like the old one . . .


A wire-bound book that will lie flat, space enough to write each day, with additional room for notes, just a little bit bigger than the old one. . .


You can use it for any year, and keep them year after year until you have the story of your life.  This scribble below is something I wrote in one of my diaries back in the 90’s, when I was still trying to figure things out (not that I have it figured out, because I don’t.  Yet.  But I’m not giving up).

diary entry

I know the answer to that one now.  They begin in two places.  They read, and they write.  Teach your children well.

first light

It’s getting light outside.  The camera focused on the ice, while I was trying to get it to see the birds at the feeders.

birds in the snow

Outside my kitchen windows, let the magic begin . . .

Some people have fish tanks, I have bird feeders.


I just peeked out the living room window, there is Joe, shoveling the driveway . . . he LOVES it out there.

joe shoveling

I knocked on the window . . .

He sees me

He saw me . . .

He throws snow at me!

A threw a shovel of snow at me! 


Jack said, “What’s going on?  Pick me up!  Showmeshowmeshowme!”  Which I did; we stood at the window watching Joe do all the work.

This is my chosen entertainment for today.  Howard’s End.  I’m just going to slip it into the video machine. Perfect for diary, snow, fire, kitties and popcorn because really, what else can we do.  Nuttin Honey. (If you’re looking for something new to read, I highly recommend the book too.)

old movies

Hope you have a lovely day wherever you are!  “Thank you” doesn’t seem quite enough to express all I feel when reading your wonderful comments.  It’s such a pleasure to know you!  Here comes another year!  I wonder what will happen next?  Let’s make it good!  xoxo

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502 Responses to BLIZZARD!

  1. Sara says:

    Hey, Susan, I’ve been thinking about you a lot the last couple of days and feeling a little guilty that the snowstorms we get here end up blasting you so much worse than they have us! There’s another one, Ion, coming in tonight and tomorrow with even more snow, wind and frigid temps. I’m afraid that about the time you feel like you can poke your nose outside, Ion will be on your doorstep. I hate it when they start tossing that B word around. We went through the Blizzard of ’78 and were snowed in and without electricity for a week. Not fun!

    Today, I wore my brown beret for the first time when I went to the optometrist to get my new glasses. Let me tell you, I was happenin’! And I felt like it too… I had no idea Joe’s favorite hat would do that for me! But tell him ‘thanks’! I would have bought it sooner if I’d known the effect it would have on me!

    Thanks for letting us go with you on your walk… the sand restoration is ingenius. I especially love the photo of Joe just beyond the sea oats… really beautiful!
    I’ve been reading The Summer Book and made your Spicy Orange Broccoli for New Year’s Day lunch with daughter Mariann and husband Rob and my son, Darin. I will definitely be making it again! Then today, along with my homemade chicken soup, guaranteed to make you well no matter what you have, I made the Sunshine Carrot Salad, mainly because I got carried away grating carrots for the soup. The carrot salad was just the ticket to add a hint of summer to the soup, which I was making for daughter Rebecca, who’s been sick with the flu–and has two always-hungry little boys, a newborn, and hubs Jeremy, who picked it up on his way home to help her at lunch. He is a good man, like your Joe!

    I’m looking forward to making the Santa Fe Seafood dish next, and after that the crab cakes. (I’m already salivating!) Maybe I should work my way through your recipes like Julie in the movie about Julia Childs! ANYway, thanks for dropping in on my day, Susan, and letting all of us girlfriends know you and Joe are weathering the storm well.


    • sbranch says:

      Well, one thing for sure, you are making me hungry! Love that you were happenin’ in your beret!! xoxo

      • Bonnie in Bakersfield says:

        Hi Sara! I think that is a fantastic idea! Work your way through all of Susan’s recipes, and be sure to start a blog about it, and share with all us girlfriends 🙂

        • judy young says:

          Love that idea! Sara please do it!

        • Sara says:

          Funny you should say that, Bonnie. Hadn’t thought about blogging it. Hmm… But I am getting one of Susan’s ‘Days from the Heart of the Home’ books to journal my results/comments, etc., so who knows? I’d make a movie, but then I’d have to lose a few pounds, and how could I possibly do that? I’m learning real fast that Susan’s food isn’t the kind you can take one bite of and put your fork down! Hahaha!

  2. Vida Howard says:

    Brrrrrrr, Girl! You keep your nose and toes warm by the fire. No snow in Oklahoma yet but they keep teasing us with the possibility. Oh well, what else is January good for. I am spending my time reading and planning our Ladies Sweetheart Ball. Queen of Hearts is the theme this year and it will be some fun. I wish you could come but I will send you some pictures anyway. So instead of XOXO for winter I will wish you Hugs and Cocoa!

  3. Linda Hurst says:

    Susan, I’m still listening to the crackling fire. I’m in Kansas City, we’ve had a couple of ‘lite’ snows, but nothing like yours! We are to get another ‘lite’ tomorrow afternoon. I’ve wanted to see Howard’s End for a long time. I’m going to find it and watch it. Thanks for the preview! We feed birdies (as my 3-year-old grandson calls them) too. Love, love, love your blog! I look for a new posting EVERY day, I know that’s unreasonable, but I can’t help myself! Happy New Year!

  4. Hi Susan, Joe and Kitties, you sure do have a blizzard! Sooo beautiful! Especially with your fire in the fireplace! We just got a layer on the drive and rooftops and dusting on the lawns here in WNC (Fletcher), there was alot more west, north and south of us. AND we didn’t lose power! Hope you still have yours!
    Hope you had a very Happy New Year! It’s always so exciting to start a new year.

  5. Nellie says:

    Dear Susan,

    What a wonderful snow storm! I hope it doesn’t bring any problems your way! I love the cozy atmosphere with the fireplace going!

    We had a bit of snow here this morning, unusual for us. It covered the ground, driveway, and the street. We are out in the county, and there are no snow/ice removal plans for us. We would be way down on the list. Our temperature this morning was 17 degrees and the high was only 29. On Monday night, the predicted low is three degrees! Everytime we hear it, it is colder!

    We would always pick up our cats to show them what was going on.:-)

    I send you wishes for continued enjoyment of this winter beauty surrounding you!

    xo Nellie

  6. Lovely pictures, Susan. Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve had almost 3 inches of rain in the past 36 hours. Believe me, the snow is prettier but we don’t have to shovel the rain.

    I had forgotten how dramatic Howard’s End was. Perhaps I shall have to watch it again. Thank-you for the reminder.

  7. Teena (Indiana) says:

    I always love your postings, and commend you and Joe for your walks and being out in the cold! I admit it is not my favorite due to the cold temps. Big snowstorm expected through here this weekend. I LOVE your “house candle”; it creates such a cozy, warm glow. Stay comfortable, and I will continue to look forward to what you share with us! Thanks, Susan…………..

  8. Gladys Marie says:

    Thank You! Thank You! The videos with audio; the wonderful kitty pictures; the fireside visits; you impart Love of Life, Warmth, Joy, & Snuggles in a Storm; much needed & appreciated. Love & Gratitude to You.

  9. Jane F. says:

    Ah, Susan! Looks so neat!! I’d be out there like Joe with shovel and getting covered!! Love it! Love it! Miss it! These are the kinds of storms I remember as a kid. Skating, Sledding, making snow angels, forts and snowball fights. THUD!! In the back walking home from school with my girlfriends, minding our own business! Ahem!! The boys traipsing along behind!! We got them back, though! What fun!! Thanks for the video about dredging, too, so interesting. I’ve known of it, but not seen it. Just love getting these winter updates! 🙂

  10. Ap says:

    I am a neighbor in CT and I enjoy your blog. I love your little videos keep them coming. Happy new year!

  11. Irene Talaasen says:

    Hi Susan,
    You make a blizzard sound fun!! and they are when you can stay in and stay warm. Having grown up in Minnesota I remember blizzards 🙂 We had 40 degrees and sun here in Colorado today (Woodland Park) but they say cold and some snow tomorrow.
    Love the picture of Joe out there shoveling snow even when it keeps on snowing..Be warm and blessed .

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure that part of the reason I love winter so much is a. I work at home and don’t have to go out and battle storms, and b. I didn’t grow up with winter so it always feels like a miracle to me!

  12. Cathy from Golden Co says:

    I was wondering if you got lots of snow & was so happy to see you showed us what was happening in your world. It was nearly 60 here today so we took down the outside lights & decorations as winter returns tomorrow with snow & cold. I actually opened windows to air out our house. Heavenly! We love watching your bird feeders. We enjoyed the same thing when we lived in MN. Beautiful cardinals! We really miss seeing them here in Colorado. It’s lovely to watch that beautiful red against the white snow 🙂 how cozy you, Joe & kitties must feel. Blizzards are so EXCITING!

  13. Lynn Mccormack says:

    Happy New Year Susan and Joe! Give a hug to your neighbor doggie!

  14. Lori March says:

    This posting is a TREASURE! I loved the Musica, Musica and am still listening. I forwarded this blog to a friend of mine in TX who is battling ALS. He and his wife were given a trip to Cape Cod this past summer and enjoyed it so much. They are going through a particularly difficult time and I thought they would enjoy a reminder of pleasant memories from their trip. Always enjoy your blogs when they involve your view from your little corner of the world. Enjoy Susan and thank you so much for sharing your lovely view. Stay warm!!!

  15. Lori March says:

    PS: I sure hope Joe was gonna fill the feeder while he was out there! You’ll have birds banging on the windows saying “what’s up…the feeder’s empty!!!!” LOL

  16. Carol Lichwala says:

    Happy New Year to you and Joe. I just put up my new Susan Branch calendar after reading every word on the January page.
    It’s so beautiful outside of your kitchen window, I just love watching your bird feeders.
    I have lent my “A fine Romance” to my friend and she spent all New Year’s day reading it.
    Thank you for all you do for us.
    Stay warm and cozy.

  17. Fabienne says:

    Happiest and healthiest new year to you and Joe. Met you both in San Luis Obispo and it was a day to remember, will note in my day calendar. Your new 2014 calendar is up and such fun to read all the quotes, enjoy the art and recipes. Love your snow photos as here in CA still very warm, we need some rain too. We lost a dear friend on Christmas Eve morning but it reminded us that life is short, no guarantee of days. I want to make this a year of giving to others in small ways, loving my family even more and being helpful. Also we will cherish our days out in nature, the beauty we see on drives and camping journeys. Thank you for bringing beauty into my life with your amazing words of common sense, photography and art work. Stay extra warm and cozy…love the birdies, Jack and of course Joe.

  18. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    Stay warm Susan!! That snow does look beautiful on the window. Of course that’s easy for me to say here in warm California.
    I love your calendar, it inspired tonight’s dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup!
    I bet Jack likes watching the snowflakes.
    Hope you all stay safe and the storm passes soon.

  19. Sue says:

    Such a wonderful, warm and feel good post! Despite the freezing temperatures! And it IS cold here! Hubby thinks our attached garage is colder than it ever was right now! YAY! Just opening the door that leads to it from the kitchen — whew — what a blast of cold air!
    We had about 7 inches of the fantastic & fabulous white stuff! 🙂 I actually was disappointed & truly wished there would have been way more than that! 🙂 I know that a lot of people don’t like the snow and cold but Hubby and I happen to absolutely LOVE it! So far here in PA we have been having a bit more of an old-fashioned winter (and it’s awesome) compared to the last years of “barely anything” to talk about! I just hope it keeps going like this, the rest of Jan. & Feb. (at least) When I think back to the PA blizzards we used to get when I was a child, I so wish for them sometimes again! We used to have snow & snow & more snow — and then wind that blew huge drifts across the roads. Drifts that were so high that a regular sized plow couldn’t begin to handle trying to get through them!!! We would have to wait for days before the county would be able to get the huge V-plows in to open all the roads. Everything would come to a halt — nothing moved on the roads (except on horseback 🙂 ) then the BIG plows would show up!!! Then there was the fun of watching them work their way through all the drifts! It was SO exciting!

    It looks like you might have gotten more snow than we did. The pictures are awesome — the birds eating outside your kitchen window — Joe outside shoveling & throwing snow at you 🙂 — a fire burning inside — warm kitties next to you! What more could a gal ask for? After so many months on the road, I’m so happy for you to be back home and enjoying this wonderful time of the year!
    Wishing you and Joe a Happy New Year with more blizzards (cause I know you like them) at the beginning and end of 2014!!! 🙂

    • Jena says:

      Oh yea Sue, those Pennsylvania winter snows were amazing. I was gleeful when I heard of the snow coming on Thursday. It turned up at about 6 inches on our mountain and the birdies were flitting around and the dogs were wild with joy at the chase of every single snowflake.

      It can so quickly take us back to those childhood memories…awesome.

      Thanks ladies,

  20. Christine in Covina says:

    What a storm and cold! Loving it here in Cali! Love your blog and the dredging video! I am fascinated watching how things work. Stay warm and enjoy the video! 🙂

  21. Sue says:

    Oh and I forgot to mention — I LOVE your little grouping of tea strainers hanging by the window! The red and yellow (my 2 favorite colors ever) one is darling and my fave of them all. I have one similar except it has various flowers and colors on the side — very vintage-y! 🙂
    I really must order some of your tea AND the tin any day now! I have not tried the tea yet and it is the perfect weather for it. 🙂

  22. Judy says:

    I grow so excited when I see a post from you, Susan. Lovely, lovely. It’s cold here in Oklahoma with a week of forecasts more suited for Alaska. Lows of single digits predicted and off and on snow for a week. So, I guess I will get to enjoy that tomato soup and grilled cheese this week. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Ardena Braff says:

    (Don’t know if my email came through, the computer keeps dumping the blog before I can finish everyting, I’ll try once more)
    The first sentence in one of my favorite books (Such a Life, by Edith Lazebnik) is “Who can tell what life will bring.” I write it on the January page of each new calendar, and regardless of what it brings, thank you for bringing us joy on each day of the year! Wishing you and all the girlfriends the best year ever. AB

  24. The weather has been pretty awful over here in the UK. Rain, rain and more rain, with high tides and winds and plenty of flooding. I think I would rather have snow! I miss snow. I do not miss shoveling or cleaning off the car. There is nothing cosier than being in the house by the fire on a cold winter’s day with the flames flickering, logs snapping and the wind raging outside your windows. I miss my wood stove in the winter.

    I found the dredging fascinating. The River Dee, here in Chester, used to be a viable sea port, more important even than Liverpool, before it silted up and is now just a river. Perhaps they should have dredged it before the problem got too bad to reverse. Nevermind. Tis a beautiful city nonetheless and I am blessed to live here. Although your post makes Martha’s Vineyard look pretty becoming too! One can but dream . . .

    • sbranch says:

      Too many wonderful places…but dreaming is for free! I know just how you feel!

    • Debs OBrien says:

      Hello to a Fellow Country Woman! I’m with you~snow any day, especially after this week! I’m off to read your blog now. I’m trying wheatberries today for the first time, and see there is a recipe on the first page! Hurrah!

      • Hi Debs! The weather has been horrific for sure! I am hoping for some respite soon! Hope you tried out the recipe for the Wheatberries and that you liked it! Always nice to make acquaintance with a fellow country woman! Small world!

  25. Debs OBrien says:

    Happy New Year! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! I think your windows look practically perfect in every way with the snow frosting them as a backdrop to your adorable ornaments.

    We were slightly cut off, yesterday, when nearby sea defences gave way as they have done along much of the Welsh, Cornish, and Devonshire coastlines in the most recent weather, but yesterday’s {and tomorrow’s} combines with the highest tides for some time, causing massive tidal surges. Wonderful to look at, as nature performs her wildest dance, but keep to a safe distance always.

    Stay cosy, safe, and warm! I, too, will be having grilled cheese and tomato soup for supper tonight!

    Waving from Across The Pond
    in Wildly Windy, Wutheringly Wet, Wonderful West Wales xoxo

  26. sondra fox says:

    How I envy your snow! What a beautiful sight. When I was growing up, our second story staircase faced the woods across the street from our house. I’d wake up, rush to the staircase & could immediately see how much snow had fallen during the night. The trees would be loaded. The birds waited for us to fill up the feeder. I love watching birds. Each morning, the birds would chatter away before starting their day. It was like they were making plans on what to do. They would be so noisy they’d wake us up. We don’t have Cardinals like we had in PA (darn it), but we have lots Hummingbirds. I’ve spent a lot of money purchasing plants that I think the Hummers will like. I’d much rather the Hummers eat natural nectar from flowers than the red liquid you buy in gardening stores. Sometimes I’ll sit on the patio & the Hummers will play “helicopter” right in front of my face, studying me. So funny. Maybe they want to see me up close to make sure they can trust me. They’re delightful. They can zoom off in an instant.
    As for your diary…….do you think that 2014 could possible last longer, not go whizzing past us, “IF” we wrote about each day. Maybe I’ll try that as well Sue. A friend & I were talking the other day, wondering what the heck we did two days ago. Oh my, & I even admitted I couldn’t remember. Terrible.
    I noticed you often write about enjoying toasted cheese sandwiches. Do you ever make Pimento/cheese spread? It’s so great toasted, just like a regular toasted cheese sandwich, only made with the Pimento/cheese spread instead of a couple of cheese slices.
    I couldn’t get on the Internet for a week. I realized how often I use my computer for important things. I felt lost without it.
    Your snow days would be perfect for jigsaw puzzles. I have so much fun putting them together. I have a friend that also enjoys puzzles. When we finish a puzzle, we share.
    It would be fun for you to watch Jack in the snow. The cat I had when I lived in PA didn’t enjoy the snow. He’d take a step, then stop & shake his paw, then take another step, then shake his paw. It took him a long while to get anywhere.
    I’m glad you got home before these storms hit. What a winter for people all over our country. If you watched the Rose Parade, you know CA was drenched in sunshine & lovely weather. Happy New Year! (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  27. Pam says:

    Oh, Susan!
    I don’t have birds outside my window…I have kittens! I woke this morning to find 5 cats (three of them kittens) on my back porch looking for a pace to get in out of the cold! I, too, had a storm yesterday and temps of 4 below zero last night.
    As I write this they are gathered around a huge bowl of warm Italian wedding soup! I made a little cottage with a big box, blankets and a rug on the covered porch where the sun hits…and the sun is coming out! Thank God!
    My cat, Oliver, and I are watching these very grateful little beggars…and wishing them well!
    Hope that you are warm, safe and content!
    Happy New Snow!

    • sbranch says:

      Why doesn’t that happen to meeeee! 🙂 Poor little things.

      • Jack says:

        Why didn’t you say something sooner — I can be a big help –fix you right up! You’re not particular as to what kind of animals you get , are you?

        • sbranch says:

          Probably not, except for there is a list, none of those wild pigs you have, or snakes. Or coyotes. They can all stay outside. Preferably domesticated animals. Burros, chickens, a good cow, all fine.

  28. Julie says:

    Hi Susan: I just wanted to tell you (4) interesting facts.

    🙂 1) For Christmas my sister gave to me your set of beautifully-binded Willards for my present. Perfect reading!! since we are due for record cold temps in 1-2 days. (We have just gotten a little ice so far here in MO and about 3 inches of snow so far but yesterday morning it was O degrees…) Anyway…as I unwrapped them, we both marveled at how they are even shipped with tissue nestled neatly around them with the little sticker. Thank you for those special little touches…:)

    🙂 2) My mom unwrapped her book titled “A Fine Romance” and was more than pleased. We all marveled at how you create such beautiful things.

    🙂 3) My mom asked for a kitty for Christmas and I found her one that is “Jack’s” twin. (I wish you could see a photo.) She hasn’t said yes to ownership yet as she is worried about her new carpets and such. We will see…

    🙂 4) My best friend Melody who lives in SC told me she remembers when you would personally answer every letter sent to you and write each person back….she treasures a hand-written letter from you. “Wow! I said, I am not surprised as it was Susan Branch we are speaking of! 🙂 ”

    Well, I’m off to have a cup of tea with honey. My favorite is called “Nutcracker Sweet”…it is a mix of vanilla, cinnamon, and pure goodness!!
    Stay warm in the Northeast and I’ll do the same in the Midwest.

    Julie (Tea Lover in MO)

    • sbranch says:

      Oh she got a kitty for Christmas! What a special thing! Show the kitty her sand box and the carpets will never have a problem! Loved your 1 2 3 4 … thank you Julie!

  29. Asha says:

    Good Morning, Susan! LOVE this blog! We too have birdies outside our kitchen window. It is wonderful to see them so happy to have seed and suet. We have a Flicker, who is like a bigger Downey woodpecker but much more handsome! He/she has a very orangey red head, just so beautiful! Of course, they are ALL beautiful. We so enjoy watching them and a lot of times, sip our coffee or tea in front of that window! I took your cue and watched “Miss Potter” yesterday afternoon. LOVE, LOVE that movie. When I retire (July 31, 2014!) I’m hoping to find a watercolor painting class. You have so inspired me, Susan! Thank you and stay warm and safe!

  30. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Happy New Year! I love the picture of the snow from your kitchen window, if you look closely you can see your reflection, like looking at a faded photograph. 🙂
    We had our snow storm on Thursday, got 6 inches. My sweetheart and I walked out dog out thru the woods and it was just magical how the snow stuck to all the trees, it was like walking inside a snow globe. Then we made a snow man and woman! I haven’t made one in good many years. We are on vacation this week so it has been great to be snowed in, drinking many pots of your grand tea, reading books, watching the birds at the feeders, and trying to start writing daily in my new diary. I do struggle with what to say, silly huh? It’s my diary, right?

    • sbranch says:

      Say, “went to the market, made onion soup for dinner, played cards, watched Downton Abbey, wrote in my diary, walked two miles, made an apron, just little things like that. 50 degrees and sunny. Washed all my Beatrix Potter figurines, took the cat to the vet. Stuff like that.

    • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Actually, what you just wrote in your comment was perfect for your diary! What a lovely time to look back on. 🙂

  31. Catie Cook says:

    Thank you for a dear post. Especially enjoyed the video of the bird feeders… they are sooooo cute! We have lots of now here, in the Northwoods, too… and it’s supposed to get down to minus 20 tomorrow! Love it!… as long as the heat stays on! Oh… going to take a left without signaling here… you know your lovely white ceramic covered baking dish…? Do you happen to know its capacity? If not, no worries. Happy first week of 2014 to you, Joe and kitties! xo

  32. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Happy New Year and wow, what a blur of white to start things off! Your video of the sand relocation is quite interesting. How do they figure out these techniques on such a large scale?? Amazing and yet simple! No doubt those seagulls have figured out the benefits of being close by for any tidbits shooting right to their feet! And your bird feeders! I just love the morning crowd chowing down and cheeping away at each other. It sort of reminds me of the old fashioned local grocery where everyone comes to get provisions and see everyone else! The Branch Seed & Feed!

  33. Denise of Coffeeberry Cottage says:

    Such an entertaining post :)esp. for a Southern CA.girl,lived here all My 61 years.Living in snow is something I only dream about.I almost came to see You in Pasadena.If there is a next time please check out Victoria Gardens,maybe by then there will be a huge bookstore.I love Vromens when in Pasadena though.I love My bird feeders also,they can enchant for a time.I also love the Ocean,not as much as My hubby though.I’m a Mountains girl Myself.So S. CA.does help Us out in that area.We take turns Ocean for Him,Mountains for Me.I so enjoy Your blogging,do visit My blog any time but I do hope when You visit I will have a nice enough post that You may want to stay awhile sip a cup-of with Me and dream of delights.Hugs and blessings-Denise

  34. Jane says:

    You truly bring such simple, utter joy to my days. I,too, look for a post every day. I’m still trying to figure out how to make the you tube music play when I go back to the post ! We have a teeny cabin on Whidbey island north of Seattle where we walk with our sweet cocker to a little lake each morning when we are here. It’s my favorite part of the day too , holding gloved hands and watching for deer and bunnies. Sublime — I write in my book of days each day and am reminded of the happy thoughts I get from the little notes and comments on the pages as I write. I’m going to make the apricot jam for my girlfriends for valentines day that you shared on the January calendar page. U inspire my every days!! Don’t forget downton abbey on Sunday night!

  35. Kathy George says:

    We are also happily snowbound. Loved the idea of the German Pancake but trying to start the new year with less calories. So turned the page in Heart of the Home and made the Baked Tomatoes using eggbeaters. It was delicious. Had breakfast in front of the fire than spent the rest of the day sewing a quilt. Loved it. Also have the mini 2014 calendar hanging at my work. It brightens my workspace. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

  36. Audrianne Hill says:

    I just appreciate how positive you are about winter weather! It makes me see things much differently. Beginning tonight we are to get perhaps a foot by Monday morning. I shovel and stay on top of it so the back doesn’t ache and it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Stay warm.

  37. Pam Fortune says:

    Hi Susan
    Just realised that I have missed two Blogs so have been getting up to date. Your bird feeders remind me of my middle daughter Antonia who has bird feeders scattered around her large garden in some of her trees. The three footed squirrel enjoys dropping in for food and does some marvellous acrobatics on his three feet, we wonder what happened to the missing foot.
    I also enjoyed the video of the beach dredging very interesting. Your house looks so warm and inviting, thank you for sharing that with us all and keep warm and enjoy the quiet time.

  38. Barb says:

    Hi Susan, LOVE everything you do and write about! Have you read A Dog’s Purpose, A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron. You’d enjoy it. I’m seeing my cat in a much different light since reading it. The whole book is from the dog’s perspective. Jack would get a huge kick out of it!
    Your drawing of tomato soup and grilled cheese forced me to have it for breakfast just now!!!
    Stay warm!

    • Janet in Rochester says:

      Another recommendation for you cat owners. “I Could Pee On This” an absolutely-HILARIOUS of “cat-penned” poetry by Francesco Marciuliano. Got it for my niece for Christmas 2012 – and we are STILL laughing.

  39. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Susan, I love seeing your window sill inhabitants. I have many, actually too many for I have run out of room, little window sill people, too. These are small figures, no more than three or four inches high, made in occupied Japan of little girls with their red hairbows and little boys, almost always in blue pants. They are so cute and I can’t resist them. Another thing I couldn’t resist was a Jemima Puddleduck figurine. It isn’t a Beatrix Potter one but is charming, nevertheless. It is about a foot tall and has her characteristic bonnet and shawl. She was residing at Goodwill for the princely sum of $3.00 but when I spotted her, it was 50% off everything in the store. Of course she had to come home with me. Just love her. Keep warm.

  40. Susan W says:

    Cold, soup, cold, kittens, cold, fires going, cold, old movies, cold, double musica, cold, shoveling out, did I mention COLD? I couldn’t seem to get my house warm last night. It was about 6 degrees, the boiler was working overtime and the wind wasn’t too bad. I’m warmed up now but Cold! Thanks for the walk photos. Sure is a lot different than around here. Erie, PA is still Number One (!!) in snowfall amounts. We’ve hit 75.4 inches so far this winter season. (from late 2013) and are hoping to break a record this year. That’s a lot of snow. We’ve been shoveling and plowing since early November and the ski areas are loving it. Tuesday it’s to go to -15. Almost like Minnesota/Michigan, eh? Enjoy the winter storm. They just keep rolling in anyway. DH asked me “What do you want to do today?” and I can’t think of much. It’s a heat wave of 26 degrees and my brain hasn’t thawed out much yet from last night. Thanks for the beautiful calendar and pics this morning. Maybe I’ll get out & get going.

  41. Annette McD says:

    No snow here in the northwest (unless you’re up in the mountains or east of the mountains). Anyway, you little New England girl, sounds like you have things under control during your blizzard. Hope your power stays on long enough to get through Howard’s End. Stay warm!

  42. Christine D says:

    Just getting lots of snow here today and we are going to get lots! My feeders
    are full of hungry birds to! Such fun to watch those brave d
    Birds! A warm Kitty and a movie for me tonight to!

  43. Sherry Palla says:

    The beauty of life and WlNTER! Thanks for sharing the dredging….it is a place where we can’t be now. Fun to see other parts of our great country! Love it! Thanks for sacraficing your little fingers too! We are heading toward a “Polar Vortex” coming down from the No. Pole on Mon! We are ready and the governor has called all schools OFF for the state of MN! [He hasn’t done this for 20 yrs., when our girls were little!] Kind of exciting….along with the NEW SEASON of DOWNTON ABBEY!!!!!!! We had a new dip on New Year’s Eve…called Pomegranate Guacamole! Delish!
    1/2 c. arils from pomegranate
    2 ripe avacados, skinned and pit removed
    zest and juice of 1 lime
    1 sm. red onion, finely chopped
    1 lg. jalapeno pepper, deseeded and finely chopped [I used a green pepper]
    1 garlic clove, minced
    kosher salt to taste
    Serve with crackers or chips! Very Christmas pretty & festive!
    Cheers for a blessed New 2014 Susan & Joe!

    • sbranch says:

      I brought that to my girlfriend’s house on Christmas Eve — was thinking red and green and so in love with Pomegrantes! Delicious!

  44. Lynda Hovan says:

    Hi Susan,

    I’m so happy that you wrote a blizzard blog. The news people out here in NV made sound like you have five feet of snow you’d have to dig out of–yikes!! We are dying for snow here. The resorts up at Tahoe depend on snow to make their money for the year. Anyway, I’m glad you. the kitties, and Joe made it thru okay:) I worry on folks…

    Thank you for all the lovely art work and pics too! xoxo, Lynda

  45. Susan Cardot Lance says:

    Hi Susan,
    Love the picture you took of Joe on the beach with the wind blowing the tall grass in the foreground!

    Oh! Just have to tell you that I have your small 2014 calendar over my craft desk where I am currently working on a Paint-By-Number a friend gave me for Christmas. I love looking up and being inspired by your pictures and words.

    Thank You,

  46. Barb from Ohio says:

    Hi Susan, hope you are staying warm and snug by the fire with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate. You’re getting what came through northeast Ohio the day after New Years. We got about a half foot of snow and single digit temperatures, but today was up around thirty and sunshine. Unfortunately it’s supposed to go back down to zero and below the first of the week just in time for kids to go back to school. I like to look out and remember where the flowers and bulbs are under the snow just waiting to peek through the ground in about three months, but I miss being able to sit in the porch swing in short sleeves listening to the birds singing. I’ve been feeding my birds on the front covered porch by scattering the seed on an old table, and they seem to enjoy it. I can see them easily from my living room and I swear they flutter against the window when they are out of food to let me know, because that’s the only time they do that.
    I have to tell you I watched “The Bishop’s Wife” the other day for the first time and loved it; it was on Amazon Prime video. They don’t make ’em like that anymore! Anyway, stay warm and Happy New Year!

  47. Lynn says:

    Dear Susan,
    When I read your blog or your books (A Fine Romance, which I’ll treasure reading over and over, and your wonderful cookbooks) I come away with a sense of warmth and inspiration. You take so much time creating your watercolors and personally handwritten words for us and finding the best and most perfect quotes relative to your messages (how on earth do you find such perfect quotes?! It would take me days with my nose in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations to come up with even one!), and Musica also! You get me rolling up my sleeves for kitchen creations, composing thoughts for journal-writing, dreaming about traveling through the gentle, gorgeous British countryside, and reflecting on my love of the seasons, gardens, nature, shoreline, and home. I look forward to your every blog entry Thank you for your optimistic, creative and encouraging words! Thank you for every hand-written letter in your blog and books and for every accompanying water color and photo! All kitty stories are loved (and shared with my kitty, Timothy), and every pot of tea is shared in spirit! ~ All very best wishes to you and Joe, Girl and Jack for a very special New Year! XO, Lynn (in snow-covered south-eastern Connecticut where hot tea is a must!)

    • sbranch says:

      How sweet you are Lynn, thank you so much. For years, I would travel back and forth between the east and west coasts, a couple of times each year, by train. As my “room with a view” wound through the countryside I would be busily educating myself with the reading of quote books. I put stars next to all the ones I loved. The same in biographies and novels, if I read a sentence I love, I put a star there too… then later, I usually write them in a notebook. Thank you for your lovely words, happy new year!

  48. Terri says:

    Your birds at the window remind me of our “little piggies” on the Niger seed sack. They are Common Goldfinches, but they are eaters! We fit 12 – 15 when the sack is full, fewer and fewer as they eat it empty. Thanks for the videos.

  49. Kimberly Plasse says:

    Happy New Year!
    I can understand the cold and snow. It’s suppose to snow here again in Missouri over night. It is always my favorite when it is freshly fallen and everything is new and white!
    Looking for something new to read? Have you read any books by Deanna Raybourn? I love her Lady Julia Grey Novels. They are a mixture of romance and mystery. I have read “Dark Road to Darjeeling” and “Silent on the Moor”.
    What about Kate Morton’s books? Her “Forgotten Garden” was my favorite of hers that I have read.
    I could talk books forever.
    Stay safe and warm!!!

  50. Kimberly says:

    Susan! I just bought your book, “A Fine Romance” and I am OBSESSED with it!!! Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m right there on the ship with you and Joe. It’s such a gorgeous book. I love your blog too…your work is amazing. I’m so looking forward to following your blog all year. Gotta go read more of your adventure in England.
    TTYL girlfriend! 😉

  51. Christine Aschbacher says:

    It’s been snowing in northern Illinois also! As I always say when I am looking out my kitchen window at my six bird feeders there’s a flurry of activity out there! Lots of schools in our area are already closed on Monday due to the Arctic blast of cold weather on the way! I am waiting to see if my district cancels! I have written all special days on my Heart of the Home calendar and it is displayed in my kitchen. Love the January art work!!! We may live in northern Illinois, but we are die hard Packer fans waiting for the playoff game tomorrow from the frozen tundra! So we are all”bunkered” in also. Enjoying the lazy days of winter!

  52. patti says:

    “Old Fashioned Midwestern Winter!” That’s what we are having. And try as I may, I have been spoiled as of late because I haven’t seen this kind of winter in a looong time. I got my guys back to Virginia (Richmond Ballet) so they can still bring their beauty to the stage and prepare for Cinderella in February. Good they got out today, because I fear tomorrow would have been a day too late. I will miss them dearly though. I have the dogs and Mr. Jinx to keep my warm though, oh and the husband who will not be leaving the house unless the thermometer rises above 0. I have to get him well, since I got him sick with this awful flu bug that does not want to go away !! Well I’m going to enjoy my fire, and cook something. I am going to have tea and coffee and write. So let the January winds blow and the snow pile up because I’m just not going to care. As Mark Twain said, (I think it was him) “Everyone complains about the weather, yet no one does anything about it !” I’m just going to enjoy it for now 🙂

  53. Deborah B. says:

    Absolutely lovely post, Susan! The birds are awesome! The beach and the water, being on an island in winter, well I just can’t find the words and I’m a mountain person! :o) Amazing! The snow is so very beautiful! The fire in the fireplace so warm and cozy! All so lovely! Thank you for sharing this serene (even in a blizzard) corner of the world! Breathe in, breathe out kind of beauty!
    Stay WARM!!!
    Deborah :o)

  54. Jennifer says:

    Happy New Year Susan! Yes, let’s all have a fantastic year!
    It’s the little things that are really the big things and I’m with you about writing it all down so as to remember!
    Thank you for the endless inspiration you give me. Give everyone. 🙂

  55. Erin Spining says:

    I am so jealous of the snow!
    We are getting a taste of it on Sunday down here in Tennessee!
    Hey…just want to ask a question…I picked up your wall calendar at my local mall and I am filling in my family’s birthdays…My little brother’s big day is July 31, but there is no July 31 on my calendar!!!!!! Is that a typo or what? Is that just on my calendar or on all the calendars?? Just askin’…

    • sbranch says:

      All of them, unfortunately, it was in the stores before we knew about it — I’m so sorry — I’m about to blog the fix, so here it is for you . . . July 31

  56. Cyndi in NC says:

    Grilled cheese and tomato soup sound good to me as does the mushroom soup! Stay warm and safe! Hugs to all.

  57. Sharrieboberry says:

    Oh, I’m glad you’re warm and cozy! Thanks for sharing the snow via pictures. That is just the way I like it, in lovely pictures. 🙂

  58. Vita Avanesian says:

    Hi Susan,
    I loved your blog today! The dredging is fascinating as well as the Blizzard! Here in southern Ca. it’s ridiculously warm, but I took my girls to tea at the Four seasons tea room in Sierra Madre and pretended it was winter! I had such a good time meeting you in SLO having my picture taken with you and Joe and the van! I met some really wonderful people in line! Thank you so much for all the great work you do! Happy New Year! love, Vita

  59. Theresa says:

    My daughter in law gave me “A Fine Romance” for Christmas!!! We left two days after Christmas for Texas to visit my daughter and her family. I brought your book with me but playing with my 2 year old grandson was how I spent most of my time. We headed for home(California) yesterday, and I started reading AFR. I continued today, our final day of our journey home, when I realized that I had read about 2/3’s of it, I panicked and shut it abruptly! I don’t want it to end! I will carefully allow myself to read the rest of it slowly, so I can savor it. A cup of tea will be a MUST as an accompaniment.
    Thank you for sharing your blizzard with us. As a Californian, I rarely get to see snow, and it is a VERY magical event, to me. Unfortunately my husband HATES snow so I will have to enjoy it vicariously through your blog!!
    I don’t post very often but I look so forward to your posts. Reading your blog is better than a spa treatment!

  60. M J Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing the video of the birds eating at your feeders. That is so cool. You are lucky to have so many birds. I love feeding my birds and squirrels.

  61. Judy in OR says:

    That is the best kind of snow day when you have no place to go and can just enjoy the beauty. I love your pictures of the birds.
    I also enjoyed your dredging video. They were always dredging the river to keep the shipping channel deep enough on one side of the island that I grew up on. The sand was put on barges and I have no idea where they took it. I never really thought twice about it when growing up it was just what went on and I never thought to ask what they did with the sand.

  62. Gini says:

    Susan! Glad for you, ina way, that you are all snuggled in & enjoying your snow days. We in No. Calif. are suffering from drought, believe it or not. We’re kinda tired of the “nice” days. i have your 2014 calendar up in my kitchen & gave it to my best friend. Still pretending it’s winter & will be making winter minestrone tomorrow for playoff football, even though it’s 68 degrees outside. jeez!! Love your blog!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I know, I got tired of nice days too, in California…silly, but true! Right now though, I think there’s lots of people who would trade places with you!

  63. Donna Klein says:

    How I look forward to your posts! I lived in MN for 52 years until I moved to the desert in Las Vegas just over 5 years ago. I was a young mother in the early 80’s when I first came across your cookbooks. I still love and use them to this day. Reading this post made even miss snow and cold a bit and definitely a kitty cat 🙂

  64. Linda says:

    Well your snow and cold does not make me feel cozy……….we have already had more than I ever want to see again. Last Friday as I rolled my large garbage can down the drive it hit ice..overturned backward (it was full) and landed on top of me knocking me to the cement. I suffered with vomiting and fever and aches and pains till I endedup 5 days later at the emergency room. I had fractured ribs and bottom of one lung collapsed (which they said will reinflate itself) and so spent 4 days at the hospital coming home today with oxygen. I was scheduled next Friday for pacemaker replacement but that is cancelled for now…… ice and snow-not so glamourous for a single woman. Mom (98) is doing okay but it sure hard now to lift her. ALso had to have my 18year old Bear dog put to sleep while at the hospital (a kindly neighbor man did that for me) so not too happy with the way this New Year has started………….but could be worse. Enjoy your snow.

    • sbranch says:

      Good grief Linda! That’s not good. Hope things get better soon!

      • Diane says:

        What trying and difficult times for you! You and your Mom will be in my thoughts. I hope you heal quickly and can get some help caring for your Mom. Wishing you a wonderful rest-of-the-year.

        • Janet in Rochester says:

          Good grief is right. Linda, you poor dolly. Sounds like 2014 is coming in like a Lion for you. But then you know what that means… the Lamb times are just around the corner. Hang in there and feel much better VERY soon.
          Thinking all good thoughts for you…

  65. Janie Phillips says:

    The little snowmen look like they’ve found their perfect home 🙂

  66. Brenda says:

    I love the picture of the sun’s rays coming through the clouds, everytime we see the rays like that I tell my husband and kids that it’s God’s hands reaching out toward us. Thanks so much for the beautiful picture.

    • sbranch says:

      I think the same thing, there is something awesome about that sight (in the old fashioned use of the word, actually awesome!).

      • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

        I have to tell you that that is one of my pet peeves–the current use of the word “awesome”. I don’t know which bothers me the most–when a young person uses it or someone my contemporary age. Another good word “ruined” by slang use… (do I sound like an old fogey?) 🙂

    • Cindy Tuning says:

      Brenda, when I was little I thought the same thing! I still think it might be the best explanation.

  67. judy from connecticut says:

    This comment is really for Pam who wrote Jan. 4 @7:45 am. Thank you so much for trying to help the two cats and three kittens who showed up at your house. I have been awake for most of the night worrying about them. It is just too cold for them to be outside, even with some shelter. Is there a cat shelter near where you live? In this weather, I am sure they would have volunteers who would take them in until there is room at the shelter. Your warm soup sounds wonderful, but cat food and water are probably the best for them- people food tends to make them sick. I wonder what state you are in, maybe a girlfriend in that state could give you a phone number of a good shelter or even bring them in until a shelter can be located. Again, THANK YOU so much for trying to help them !!!! xo Judy P.S. I am sure Jack would thank you too, he was once a shelter cat !!!

  68. Holly Lynn Cook says:

    Oh my! Catching up on your blog today. Here in Loveland CO we had a snow storm too. Not like yours though, but good enough. Such beauty! Love your bird feeders. So fun to watch them.
    Thank you for your inspiration to write ever day things we do. Oh yes, almost forgot. I made Hot milk cake from your book “A Fine Romance” My fifth time making and I still ooh and ah over them. ( my daughter in-law could get enough) But this time I made individual heart cakes. So yummy! Thank you!!!!!!

  69. patti says:

    “Old Fashioned Midwestern Winter!” That’s what we are having. And try as I may, I have been spoiled as of late because I haven’t seen this kind of winter in a looong time. I got my guys back to Virginia (Richmond Ballet) so they can still bring their beauty to the stage and prepare for Cinderella in February. Good they got out today, because I fear tomorrow would have been a day too late. I will miss them dearly though. I have the dogs and Mr. Jinx to keep my warm though, oh and the husband who will not be leaving the house unless the thermometer rises above 0. I have to get him well, since I got him sick with this awful flu bug that does not want to go away !! Well I’m going to enjoy my fire, and cook something. I am going to have tea and coffee and write. So let the January winds blow and the snow pile up because I’m just not going to care. As Mark Twain said, (I think it was him) “Everyone complains about the weather, yet no one does anything about it !” I’m just going to enjoy it for now

    • sbranch says:

      That’s just the right thing to do! Reminds me of the quote “Thank goodness the sun has gone in and I don’t have to go out and enjoy it!”

  70. Michele says:

    Susan, thank you! Loved every minute of your post today, (like I DON’T like EVERY post!!! :0)

    We arrived last night from our 12 hour trip back home (WI) and had to shovel so we could get in…tomorrow the HIGH ~ NEGATIVE 9 degrees!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m a little afraid for people, but I know everyone will be smart and stay as close to their hearth and home as humanly possible! Bring in every animal you see! Our worse is only slated for 22 degrees. That’s not bad compared to 17 below!!!

  71. Melynda Rockey says:

    This isn’t a comment relative to your current posting but one of my winter pastimes is working on my cookbook. I have your large traditional one and desperately need more of the big dividers with or without pockets. Do you have a way for me to purchase them separately? I don’t particularly care what the tabs say since I can easily relabel them.

    Thanks and keep warm,

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Melynda, I’m not sure if we have those or not, but I sent your comment to kellee at the studio, she’ll know.

  72. Brenda says:

    Loved the music! One of my favorites. The snow is flying here in Michigan also. But not our first snowfall, we already had at least a foot on the ground. Once it starts we seem to get some added every week unless we have a thaw. They are talking about school closings here tomorrow but I think it is the combo of snow and very fridged weather. Went out yesterday and go the groceries we would need for 2-3 days and staying today. I started keeping a journal a couple of years ago on index cards. Just a couple of lines each day, something I have done or want to remember. I just posted on my blog about a vintage recipe box that I just painted and decopaged to put the cards in. You can use the same card for the same day each year just put the new year’s date on it. Dated the right hand corner with the day of the month. First thing I ever pinned and used. Enjoy your snowy scenes and the birds and thank you for showing us how dredgeing works!

  73. Thank You for the Lovely Video of the birds n snow..I Miss Wintry Snowy Cozy Days..I so enjoy a cup of tea or coffee brewed w cinnamon while reading your blog..Thank You for Your Time (*:

  74. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh my gosh Susan…you had quite a blizzard!! But, for us women, isn’t it wonderful to sit inside, with a hot drink, in front of the fire…watching a great movie?? Lol But then there are our men…like my Tom and your Joe who have to go outside and fight the elements!!

    Thank goodness, we missed the snow, but are fighting these bitter cold temperatures here. Tomorrow, we will not reach above zero temps, and will have -50 to -60 below wind chills….sad… But it is winter in Iowa!

    Love your walks along the water…I would be just like you…and would enjoy that part of the day best!

    I have the book Lands End…but must get the movie to watch!

    Stay warm and well…

  75. Gert~Iowa says:

    Whoops…where did I come up with Lands End?? I meant Howard’s end!

  76. Sue G says:

    I am loving listening to that cracklin’ fire right now. We got the snow a few days before you around new years and then it was back to my kinders for a few days of fun in the snow and cold at recess. We are now layered up inside because we have the deep freeze with wind chills and temperatures way below zero here in WI where they have already canceled school for tomorrow. So what else is there to do but visit with you, throw some potato leek soup on the stove for dinner and cozy up under an afghan and read and write. I purchased your days book and I am enjoyed your suggestion of recording events and daily blessing. Hope you continue to share your winter musings with us. Cheers!

  77. Jackie P says:

    I know the place where you walk to the water so well. Have been there in summer and in winter. Have never seen them dredge the opening! Love seeing the seagulls hanging around, waiting for any morsel to snatch up.

    The pictures and videos of your snowfall – so nice. Loved seeing Joe’s rosey cheeks! There’s no place like home (especially with Howard’s End on the TV!)

    Happy New Year!

  78. Kimberly says:

    Susan ~ Did you know that January is National Hot Tea Month? How cool, huh?
    I’m reading your new book “A Fine Romance” and I’m obsessed with it! Oh my goodness it is so beautiful….honestly, I never want it to end! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Kimberly! So nice to hear, and no, I didn’t know it was Hot Tea month! Pretty cool, but not too cool, because we do like our tea hot!

  79. Julie says:

    Brrrrrrrr…. it looks like you are experiencing winter in all her glory. Snow is incredibly beautiful. We would be happy with a few rain drops out here in California, we’re parched; crazy weather. Loved your little birdie video, what a pleasure those brave little birds are to watch. You wonder how they stay warm, I’m so happy they are so well taken care of in your yard. Stay warm & cozy Susan.

  80. Joy Manier says:

    We got a snowstorm here in Indiana-it snowed all day Sunday. Those big, wet flakes that accumulate fast! Don’t know the amount yet, but there’s a lot of snow out there, and 14 below temps that have pretty much closed everything down, including my husband’s place of work. Well darn, I guess we will just have to spend Monday puttering and drinking tea again! Snow days can really bring out the child in all of us. Now if our power just stays on…

  81. Sonny Peterson says:

    Oh Susan ! What a delightful visit with you and yours today . Loved every line and picture ! I received your delightful book for Christmas and I savor each page like my treat for the afternoon . I asked for it because I went on that wonderful virtual journey with you and Joe beginning with the prep for that adventure at the beginning . I guess I will have to give in and begin writing in my Book Of Days ! I have had it forever but, I won`t write on the actual pages …I put a piece of paper over where I want to make an entry and write on that !!! I have a very thick book …(giggle) Maybe now that there are some new ones in the shop I might just buy one to actually mess up the pages with writing on them !!! Love love your blog !

    • sbranch says:

      I have books like that too! Yes one to keep and one to “mess up” — which one will end up more valuable! xoxo

  82. Susan, you’re inspiring! I keep a blessings journal but have, entry by entry, included the day’s happenings. It’s all a good way to keep track. Wind chill is around zero, tonight double digits below zero with wind chill dipping to 20 to 30 below zero. A very good night to cozy with the animals and watch Jeeves and Wooster; laughter is good medicine. Be safe out there.

  83. Frances Fowler says:

    Oh, I would love snow like this! Of course, I’m speaking as a Southerner and not one who routinely has to face such, much less drive to work in it. (We currently have a vacation snow day from school — not for snow, but for ice, which didn’t pan out. However, tomorrow’s early morning temps are in the negative numbers with the wind chill, and around 5 degrees without, and so many children down here don’t have the necessary outerwear to withstand that kind of cold at a bus stop.) My next and last house will be much more “snow ready”, with a wood burning stove! No fireplace here, but a kerosene heater will be lit later on in the afternoon when that frigid cold air moves in with the coldest temperatures we’ve seen in years. I have donated wheat straw for some dogs on my rural road who, unlike my own, will otherwise will be left out in the cold, including lots of straw in a “doggie hotel” I have on my carport. It’s bad when people lose electricity with no other source for heat — and in the South, it’s awful to lose electricity in the summer. No fans or AC, it can drive you to violence! Enjoy your cozy snow days with a fire, tea, kitties, and Joe, with the additions of good cooking, good movies, and perhaps a bit of knitting. The snow in your pictures is gorgeous! Loving my new calendar, but you’re correct about jotting down some dailies. I’ve never been a diary person, but I do keep all your past wall calendars. The rule is that the new calendar goes on top of the old, and the rest are stored together; that way I can peruse and reflect on so many things that happened. And do you know that when I was going through some of my old calendars and enjoying some of my favorite pages, it seemed like NO time ago I was looking at a print from 2010 next to the phone on my kitchen wall. Where did the time go? For that matter, my 24 year-old was twelve a few years ago. Anyway, I think your diary might be a lovely idea for this year. I turn 52 in a few days, so maybe it’s a wonderful resolution to start in what has been the best decade for me yet — my fifties 🙂 Enjoy your beautiful winter snow, and as always, thank-you for sharing!

  84. Carol Wakefield says:

    Good morning, Susan.
    We too are in the grips of a blizzard. Stayed home all day Sunday while the snow flew (what a wonderful day!) and today the high is -13. Windchill of -40!!
    Holy moly!! The mayor just said not to go out unless an emergency. OK! Not going anywhere today either. What a blessing to have a warm home, a fire in the fireplace, soup simmering on the stove and my dear sweet doggies asleep on the hearth rug and filling the room with their funny snoring and woofing as they dream. To have nothing pressing, no place I MUST be is a blessing beyond measure. I am praying for the first responders and those that must be out in this. As for me I shall pop in a movie, pick up my knitting and peacefully while away the day.
    Stay warm ~

  85. Carol Wakefield says:

    Melynda asked about more dividers for your cookbooks. I had the same problem and was able to buy additional cookbooks at both Barnes and Noble and Costco and pilfered the dividers, recipe cards and pages from the binders. Hope you don’t mind my mentioning that.

    • sbranch says:

      Not at all…I wish we could get them, but the company that makes the books doesn’t have them separately. We do make our own background pages for the books.

  86. Cheyenne Renard says:

    Good Morning my sweets , i love the post as of the 3rd. I love the birds n the baby Jack and of couse the handsome man in the fr hat JOE wow what a nice show . OUr love to you all in the snow day week , its looks so beautiful , stay warm n know we love and appreciate all your posts. I want to come n walk your beach one day. I hope its many many years until you haunt the beach walk . I will come one day n see u out there n say hello. Until then have a great week , When is Downtown abby on pbs Sun nite at ? i know the time differs but i will try n tackit so i can see it next Sunday . love to you all Cheyenne in Las Vegas , Nv its cool here but not like the blizzard you have to show love u Sue n Joe n kitties XXX

  87. maryb says:

    temp was -15 on the front porch this morning in northern illinois! and that was out of the wind!! loved your birdies on the feeder. keeping them filled has become a full time job these cold days and we put an ice melter in the bird bath to keep a drink available. some of them even get in there and splash around! unbelievable! i’m enjoying an extra day to my weekend since there was no way to get to work on our gravel road. too many drifts!! stay warm everyone and enjoy the excuse to stay bundled on the couch with a warm friend and some comfort food..oh and a good movie or two! mb

  88. Jeanne Farmer says:

    Thank you for sharing the videos – interesting to see what goes on in other parts of the U.S. I’m in Minneapolis – surving the deep freeze of 2014 – not too many people came into work today.
    I love Howard’s End – I always thought I must have some English in me – even though I was born in a fishing village in Alaska – who knows…some path must have crossed for me to be drawn to the english countryside.
    Happy New Year to you and yours and thanks again for giving me so much enjoyment reading your blogs.

  89. sondra fox says:

    Hi Margot, I love getting comments from other GF’s. Thanks. And, aren’t cats the best comedians? (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  90. Mona in Riverbank CA says:

    Susan, I loved your snow day! There is nothing like that feeling of being warm, safe and cozy while the snow falls and the wind blows. We did get some good snow storms and a few snow days in Northern Nevada when I was growing up, but now I definitely need a fix every so often. Yours came at the perfect time! And I have been feeding our little birds here, too. I have my book of birds so I can see what kind are coming around and which ones are just passing through. I love it!

    We’re being ravaged by 64 degree weather right now. Sometimes with blue skies and sometimes with clouds and sometimes with little breezes. No rain in the forecast, and we could really, really use some. It may be another drought for us here. 🙁

    I am so happy to see your new Days book! I have two of the old ones, and I’m finally going to use one this year knowing I can get the new ones for the future, thank you, thank you! You’re the best!!! =^..^=

  91. Marianne says:

    Just a quick question – have you seen the Emma Bridgewater Flopsie mug/cup? Any chance you might get them in your online store?

  92. Peggy Cooper says:

    Susan, I couldn’t wait to tell you I took my first watercolor class this morning, and I loved it! Had only signed up for the one class (series of 10 using different mediums) but loved it so much I signed up for the series. Thanks for the inspiration!

  93. Pam K says:

    I’m loving your pictures of snow and how warm and cozy you all are there. Happy you are safe inside with Joe and the kitties too. I was just telling my sis-in-law that my dream is to be in your area in a beautiful old home during the winter where I can stay inside with a couple of kittens. I adore the snow. Thank you for giving your Girlfriends such a personal peak into what inspires you. You inspire me for sure, Miss Susan. PK from Dallas

  94. Miss Marion says:

    I love winter, really, but this is a bit much! The sun is just going down and the current temperature is 15 below and will drop even further tonight!

    Like so many here, I am a former Californian and it’s times like this I miss home! Winter in Wisconsin is a challenge for me even after more than 14 years. It’s something new every time!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, yes, a bit much. My feet are freezing. Usually I keep one pair in front of the heater vent and then switch them when my feet get cold, and put the cold pair at the heater vent. I need to go do that.

  95. stephanie says:

    Happy New Year! It was very enjoyable (as always) to put up all your new calendars around the house on 12/31!

    Love the blizzard blog post. I was stuck inside from Thur-Sunday and it was cozy with a fire and candles etc. So blessed I didn’t have to go to work! A little tip for the Girlfriends? Don’t start a diet/juice fast during a blizzard/snowstorm. On paper this seems like a good idea – but it’s not. Like an idiot I cleaned out all the post-Christmas goodies and hunkered down with kale, carrots etc. Never again will I prep for a storm without: a chicken to roast, sweet potatoes, some kind of squash for squash soup, stuff to make bread/muffins etc., and popcorn to pop. True cozy can’t really happen without staples. You can be healthy with chicken and veggies – but a juice fast doesn’t mix with a storm. You need hot things bubbling on the stove for the cozy factor to really kick in!

    Loved, loved, loved Downton Abbey last night! Was looking forward to it and it was delightful. Must have tea while watching it – imperative!

  96. Deborah T. Norling says:

    Susan..I’ve had the new book since it was first available but haven’t had a chance to read it till recently…I make sure to savor every page…I read a bit every night as a treat before bed. Last night..reading about the trip back to Beatrix’s home to purchase the limited edition Beatrix book, while Joe waited in the car….I devoured every moment … as I read page 170..”I gently clicked the latch shut on the green gate as I left for the last time…”….I burst into tears..I couldn’t help myself…. I knew exactly how you must have felt…… then as I continued reading, realized you too were crying when you got back to Joe and the car. I simply can’t thank you enough for sharing this adventure that many of us may never experience on our own, in the most special way that only you could bring to us !

  97. Jean W says:

    Hi Susan. I love how you focus on the positive things of your day. I’ve been keeping a diary for area years but mine seem to be focused on problems at work or home. I will try to do better this year:) . Love your snow storm, here it COLD for us -3.degrees with a little snow. You and yours look do cozy and warm! I love reading your blog!!! Thanks for all the positivity.

  98. Anne Hamilton says:

    Dear Susan, Happy New Year. I hope 2014 will be healthy, happy, funfilled and creative for both you and Joe. I have just put up your 2014 calendar in my office here in London. Although England is having abnormally large amounts of rain, storms, high tides and widespread flooding, here in the South East we have had less disruption. I know it is nothing to what you are having to endure over in the USA. I have read your January calendar page and almost wish I was marooned in my house out in Buckinghamshire, North West of London and could make cranberry waffles! Almost, but not quite! I do however want to make that yummy sounding apricot jam and will add dried apricots and jars to my next shopping list. Lots of love to you and the kitties Anne Hamilton

    • sbranch says:

      I would like to be marooned at your house too! Mmmm cranberry waffles. One of my dearest friends lives in Aylesbury.

  99. Terry says:

    Dear Susan,

    The hardness of my day has just dissipated with the cosiness of your words – warms the cockles of my heart and makes me ‘almost’ wish there was a blizzard thrusting at my kitchen window! Never give up what you do…! Terry

  100. Frances Fowler says:

    Why did I just now notice the new links to older blogs? Can I even explain how overjoyed I am about this? Wow, thank-you!

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