Soup is Bubbling . . .

It’s still dark outside my windows as I begin to write this, but bean soup is bubbling on the stove, onions, ham hocks, navy beans, peppercorns, bay leaves, carrots and celery, blip-blip-bubble-bubble — MUSICA

Bean Soup

It will do this comforting thing for the next four hours, making the house smell like heaven, and warming things up to boot, which we could use.  It’s 5° in New York City this morning, a new low, but for us, out here floating in the “warm” ocean, it’s a balmy 12º.

Bubbling bean soup

So it will be thick bean soup for breakfast, with hot crusty bread and butter.

soup And the wonderful news, for the first time since returning, I can say, I’ve got my house back!

I’ve been catching up with my housekeeping, cleaning out the dishtowel drawer, sending some to Good Will and refolding the rest; I cleaned the fridge, empied, wiped down and straightened the cupboard with all the baking things in it, sorted out my winter clothes and, best of all, I got all my paperwork done — my house clean, and sort of empty looking, smooth, like buttah.

Now I have a little housekeeping to do for the blog which involves you.  (I’m sorry to say.)

2014 calendar

I been waiting until you all had your calendars, to break this as gently as possible to as many of you at the same time as possible.  Some of you may have already heard because it hasn’t been a secret, but this is my first formal announcement.  Are you ready?  Do you want the good news or the bad news?


OK, first the bad news.  There is something wrong with this picture.  This calendar did not receive its normal fine-tooth combing, it seems that we all thought someone else was editing it, but as it turns out, no one was.  And, in real life, July has 31 days.  Thirty-one, not thirty.  Fine, I suppose, unless your birthday is on the 31st.  And whether or not it’s your birthday, it’s still unacceptable to be missing a day on a calendar.  Other places maybe, but not on a calendar.  These calendars had already been in stores for weeks before we found out about it.  It was gone.  So what to do, what to do!  First I did this:

And then we faced reality . . .

July Fix

Here’s what your calendar should have looked like.  And, now, through the magic of the Internet, it can.  Because Kellee has reformatted that corner of the calendar and made a pdf for us that we can print out and glue on to our own calendars and it fits perfectly!   Above is a photo of my calendar and that’s the “fix” already glued on.  At a glance, you really can’t tell — and it’s so easy to do.  Go HERE to read more about it.  And please accept my sincere apology … you have every right to expect more from me.  Now for the good news:

2015 calendar

I’ve done the cover for our next year’s calendar, and now that the house is clean and organized, I’m about to seal myself inside my studio and paint and write us a bunch of new pages for it . . . the good news is that you can be sure I will check this calendar over a thousand times before it ever goes to print!  Living and learning.


And on to something a bit more fun . . .  Remember that interview I did a couple of weeks ago for the January/February issue of a new (ish) magazine called CELEBRATING EVERYDAY LIFE?

Celebrating Everyday Life

Well, it was just published . . . it’s a delightful magazine filled with wonderful photos put together by hardworking mom of two-year-old (how does she do it?), Jennifer Carroll (and friends) — you can read more about her on her blog.  You can get her magazine in all kinds of formats, digital, for iPad or even a print edition . . . and you’ll see, it’s filled with inspiration for easy projects, arm chair travels (in this issue they go to Chatsworth House ~ remember Chatsworth, girls?), cooking and so much more.

I thought you’d like a little preview . . . to see if it’s something that would interest you.  I also wanted to thank her, she did a lovely job with my article . . .


Next bit of housekeeping, look at new thing that just came in yesterday . . .

I Love You Teatowel

It’s an I Love You Tea Towel for Valentine’s Day, or any day where there’s LOVE involved.  It has a story:  The art on the tea towel is one of the crayon drawings I did as a child that my mom tucked into my Baby Book and saved.  I was in the fourth grade when I did this.  It’s the first picture I ever did where there were birds.  And hearts.  And I was learning how many different ways I could write I Love You.  We thought it would make the perfect dishtowel.  So here it is ~ and the same lovely fabric and quality as our Come Sit Stay Tea Towels and Santa dishtowels. They’re made in the good old USA; we weren’t able to get many, so please don’t wait if you think you will want one.

SB-ValentinesWe also have two kinds of Valentines . . . not only for Valentines, but for all year long, every picture tells a story.  


HeartsPlus, we still have a few of our Girlfriends Dream Charms  left, just in case you want one for Valentine’s, we’re probably not going to make more … We’re thinking Kitty Love might be next.

And most wonderfully,  Janie is making us two new garlandy, festooning, bunting-like banners, HEARTS and LOVE . . .


She sent along some photos, they both come with her darling handmade envelopes, and a little card so you can send them to someone you love.  Perfect little gift.

So, that’s it for your Valentine’s preview for today.

But I had something else I wanted to show you.  Part of my housekeeping was putting Christmas away, packing it all up and sending it to the attic.  While I was doing it I found this little box that I see every year ~ it’s mixed in with all the ornaments, so we unpack it, then pack it back up, and between Christmases, we forget about it.  I love finding it, like new again every time, and I thought you’d enjoy seeing it.

Secret Box

Just a plain little box I’ve been saving.  With a message on it.  It’s already eighteen years old but it seems just like yesterday.  (Have I mentioned that this house is wafting fragrance of bean soup now … ?  It is!)

Inside the box

Inside the box is this little angel ornament . . . along with a few photos.  There’s all kinds of “scrapbooking” in this world, but we creative-types aren’t limited to books, we can branch out to boxes too.  Scrapboxing.

HomeSweetHome Susan Branch


This is Heidi.  She’s my niece, my brother Brad’s daughter.  She is wearing the wings we gave her for her birthday.  They fit her to a ‘T’ because she was born to flit.  The moment she got her wings, she turned into Tinkerbelle and took off around the house scattering fairy dust behind her, spreading merriment throughout.  That’s why we got the little angel ornament for her the year she came to our house for Christmas.  It reminded us of her.

In Heidi's box

This is another one of the photos in the box.  She was on a roll that year.  She made up outfits like this, wearing my hat, her own kitty sweater and furry boots, and she loved to pose.  She was the only child that year amongst a lot of adults, and she kept us all laughing the whole time.  When my brother and his wife were dancing, Heidi wrapped herself, arms and legs around the ankle of my sister-in-law, sitting on her shoe, holding tight and going for a ride during the dance, making us cry from laughter.  She never complained, never cried, was just truly nice the whole time.  Luckily every bit of it is on tape. She will get that someday too.  She needs to know what a delight she was to have around.

bottom of angel

Not a great photo, but I wrote on the bottom of the Angel.  It will go on her tree someday.  I’m just waiting for her to be settled down before I give it to her.  She’s 23 and living in Lake Tahoe, and something tells me she will see this, so Hi Heidi!  She doesn’t know about this Christmas box. I guess she will now.

Heidi's recipe box

This is the recipe scrapbox I made for Heidi last Christmas.  See that photo?  That’s from the same year — she’s pulled down a normal Santa hat that had split open at the seam — which is where her face is sticking through  The bottom furry part of the hat is around her neck.  This is what she was wearing when she was clinging to my sister-in-law’s leg, and one of the reasons we were crying.

Planning ahead

So anyway, I still have a few years before I give it to her, but it’s fun to find the box every year when we take out our decorations and remember that wonderful Christmas.  One of these years when I bring it out, I’ll wrap it up and send it to her.


red check

I’ve also been wanting to write about my “Unforgettable Faces of 2013” and I will soon, but I want to start today with a furry face that I love.  Many of you know her,


. . . it’s Iris,  I’ve had photos of Iris on my blog since the beginning.  She was a wonderful dog ~ I’m so sorry to say, “was,” but Iris went to heaven this year while Joe and I were driving across country.  She wasn’t our dog, she belonged to my girlfriend across the street, Martha, who wrote to tell us that Iris hadn’t been able to wait for us to return.  I was afraid of that.

This was one of the first times I wrote about Iris on the blog.  Whenever she could girl and dogmake her escape from Martha’s she loved to come over to our house.  We would hear just one bark.  That’s it, one bark, and we knew she was waiting at the door.

Martha and her husband Gerry (and their daughter Anna) once lived in our house for a year while we were in California and they were remodeling their own house.  Iris adopted the house first, and then, when we came back, she was forced to take us too.  Lucky us.


She was dear, she even put up with our kitties, she had a beautiful smile, and she never wanted to cause any trouble.

red check

“Meow” means “woof,” in cat.  George Carlin


She tried to pretend she was invisible so I wouldn’t notice her on the white sofa, but what the hay is what I always thought.  Little old girl can get on the sofa if she wants.

red check

IrisThis is Iris’s cookie face.  Cookie?  Yes, please, can I have eight?  (Notice cat food on floor?  She never touched it.)


Jack and iris

The snore room.


This is Iris last Christmas 2012.  As beautiful as always.


We will miss her very much.  We were honored to be her friends, she made life better.

I knew you would want to know.

P.S. This is an add-on to this post:  Yesterday I got a note from Iris’s dad Gerry telling me about something very sweet that happened recently.  He wrote:

Martha & Anna LeeAnna Lee (the 8-year-old daughter of a friend) was at our house making a gingerbread house with Martha when she turned to me and asked, “Where’s Iris?” I said,” I’m sorry Anna Lee, but Iris passed on a few weeks ago.”  I could see Anna Lee thinking, furrowed forehead, so I added,  “But she was very very old.”  Anna Lee looked up, smiled instantly and said, “Too bad, but where she is now, she’s the youngest one!”

Out of the mouths of babes. 

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. Will Rogers 


OK, sniff-sniff, I’m hungry now . . .

bean soup

Soup is done, or at least close enough for snacking.  Soup and my favorite shawl, two perfect items on a day like today.  Here’s how to make the soup:


  •  1 ½ lbs. smoked ham hocks
  • 1 lb. package small white beans
  • 3 sliced carrots
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 med. onions, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • whole peppercorns (about 14)
  • water to cover
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put everything (except salt and pepper to taste) into a soup pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 3-4 hours, stirring every so often.  It will get very thick, add water if necessary.  After two hours or so, remove the ham hocks from the soup, cool them.  Cut the meat off the bone, discard the fat, return meat and bones to the pot to finish cooking time.  When you’re ready to serve, remove the bones and bay leaves, stir in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.



I guess that’s it for today … just one more thing … Kellee put up new computer wallpaper and game score sheets for you, and if you didn’t get your 2014 Full Moon Bookmark, HERE YOU GO.


Adios dear Girlfriends . . . I hope you’re keeping warm!


snowy house

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

428 Responses to Soup is Bubbling . . .

  1. Teresa says:

    How excited I was to find another post just four days after the earlier one! You can never post too often for me. Love them!!! No bean soup for me today, but I did make your grandmother’s lovely nut bread, which we love so much. It is such a homey recipe for a cold CT day like today! Stay warm.

  2. Gert~Iowa says:

    Dear Susan, I am so sorry to hear about Iris, she was such a sweet dog, and I could tell how much she loved being at your house…please give our love and prayers to her family, we know how hard it is to loose a beloved pet..

    What a wonderful box you have saved for that special little girl ( not so little anymore ), she will be so excited and happy to get it someday! Not to worry about leaving one day off the calendar…but what a great fix! You guys are always thinking! smile… Love your adorable V. day dish towel, it is on my want list… Oh, that bean soup sounds so yummy! Tom made some a few weeks ago, it was wonderful, especially on a cold winters day! (And we actually bought more beans today!! And yes,MIT is winter here in Iowa!) Glad it’s warmer in MV..then NY! smile!

  3. Terrie says:

    I’ve been following your blog since your first post and I feel now as if we’re old friends…that’s the gift you have in the way you write! I bought your new book “A Fine Romance” and I LOVE it!!! Thank you for just being you. Sending much love from Texas!

  4. Vickie Getty (Little Rock, AR) says:

    My heart almost, literally, stopped beating when I read “bad news.” Oh no, what can it be? I was so very relieved when I read on. Who needs July 31 anyway?! Well, I’m sure those that have birthdays do enjoy it. The mini-calendar has its own mini-mistake (President’s Day is listed on Feb 18 instead of Monday, Feb 17 🙂 ). I just smiled when I saw that. It makes it special! I cried for sweet Iris. I’ve been wondering about her. I could just look at her face and see what a love she was. My deepest condolences to her family and all of you who knew her personally. They really do leave their pawprints on your heart forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over for your blog. It brightens my day immensely!

  5. sondra fox says:

    Afternoon Susan & GF’s. I’m sitting here with tears running down my face, looking at the darling pictures of Iris. Love the one with your Jack & Iris enjoying one another’s company. So sad to hear about her leaving you. As you said, “what a pleasure having her seek out your company & spend time with you.” What a joyful, peaceful soul. She certainly knew who to go to when she wanted good company. Animals are so very special. We’ve had six dogs & six cats in our lifetime, & each of them have had very special, unique, personalities, just like people do. I’m dreading the day when someone will order me not to have any animals, or when I’m too old to take care of them. They’ve all been a very special part of my life.
    You’ve made me so hungry, looking at that wonderful bean soup. I just wanted to put a spoon right through my screen. Looks like we use the same ingredients when we make soup. Cold here today (under 65 degrees). I know, I’m a spoiled Californian. Sure could use some of that great looking soup you made, especially with some crusty bread & lots of butter.
    And the new site you told us about looks like one I’d want to be on daily. Wonderful looking pictures. As for the article they put in their magazine, remember what I suggested to you a long while back, “be wary of getting too famous.” You’re so busy now, but you love your life, & there’s no need to ruin things by getting too busy, or too famous.
    Another really special blog Susan. I don’t think you can create another marvelous blog than the one I’m presently reading, then, you come up with another wonderful blog. You are a well of creativity for fun living, & enjoying simple things. I’m constantly seeking a simpler life, living with only objects that I truly need. In my ten years of retirement, I’ve provided the Salvation Army with lots of furniture, & Goodwill with lots of kitchen things & clothes. One day, I hope to be totally happy with the way I’ve organized things around my house. Your blog helps me live a more organized life style.
    Here’s a salute to Iris & the good life she lead, making those who knew her be in love with her.(Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  6. Linda in Texas says:

    Heidi looks just like you. And what a wonderful gift for her. I love that you’re holding on to it till just the right time.

    Love the scrapboxing. My mother was there before you. I have many boxes that she assembled that I’m still going through. She didn’t do it for the reasons you do. She was a saver and gathered things up and put them in boxes. Recipes, old letters, photos, bits of ribbon, fabric, string. And you’re right, they are like time capsules and like she is still with us.

    As always, enjoyed being here so much. The bean soup sounds so good for a cold day.

  7. MaryAnn says:

    Susan, your dad’s comment about the calendar made me laugh! Another advantage of a shorter July is that July is usually really hot here in southeastern Washington state. We will have one less day to put up with the heat! I’ll look forward to it. Thank you for the pictures you posted in Blizzard of your early morning snow-covered windows. They were beautiful. And it is so sad and touching about Iris. We had a yellow lab named Bridget when our three sons were little boys, and more recently a chocolate lab named Cassidy. They are both in heaven now, too. They are such an important part of our lives. I can tell that Iris was a very special dog.

  8. Cindy Tuning says:

    Since there’s an extra summer day floating around out there (July 31), I would like to request that I use it TODAY! We had a Blizzard going on here by Buffalo with wind chills of -40 degrees since last night. Here,before winter, an ice boom is placed in Lake Erie to prevent ice from clogging up the harbor and the Upper Niagara River. The winds were so strong last night and today that the ice on the lake was pushed over the boom and is clogging the Upper Niagara. This is bad because if the inlets are clogged, there is no power..for lots and lots of people. So today would be a really good day for all of us to cash in that last July day! The soup is also a good idea. This baking everyday to warm up the house has to stop because if it’s here ya have to eat it, right? Soup to warm up the house is at least the healthier way to go. Stay warm and safe everyone.

  9. Susan Lee says:

    Heidi looks very much like you! And I am sorry to hear about dear Iris. My dog Johnny died 2 years ago and I still miss him terribly. I tell folks that when I die I want to be with him wherever he is, which must surely be in Heaven where all the good stuff is!

  10. Carol (Daisy) says:

    Another wonderful blog. . . each one is better than the last. Seems I learn something new from each one. I had a calendar ‘glitch’ too this year. I recorded all the August birthdays , anniversaries, etc. in July. I noticed it when I started to record my niece’s birthday on the same day as mine which I knew was very wrong!! It’s good I was using one of my Susan Branch pencils so I could erase all the damage I had already done! The ‘scrapbox’ is a wonderful idea. Your niece will love it!!! Stay warm and cozy.

  11. Rita from MN says:

    I wonder if you hadn’t pointed out the July 31st snafu how long it would take to notice it? I love that you (and those you work with) are so human. It let’s the rest of us know that perfection is more often than not impossible to achieve. What a good lesson for us all! Not quite right? Do your best to fix it and move on. I love the fix and will share it with those I gave the calendar to as a gift. By the way–I think next year you should purposely put in a minor imperfection. It is a good thing.

  12. Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    Good evening to you Susan and girlfriends everywhere ~~~
    So very happy to see a new post today! Always makes me happy. I’m so sorry to hear about Iris! She was a very lucky dog to have you and Joe as second parents. You were very happy to have such a good dog that loved to come visit you.
    The new magazine by Jennifer (Celebrating Everyday) looks to be something I might really get my teeth into. It looks very pretty as well. I think I may just give the magazine a go and see how I like it for at least this year.
    You realize that I’m getting reallly hungery now! That bean soup looks so yummy! It’s dinner time out west here in Washington. You know what I’ll be doing in the next few days…. making bean soup.
    Your neice will absolutely love the little angel and box full to delightful things! Yes, I’m sure she will read this and perhaps even start begging you to give it to her this year 🙂
    Stay warm and cozy in your house while it’s so nasty outdoors! Nasty may not be the correct word…. cold 🙂 outside. I hope all the girlfriends are taking it easy and being safe. That wind chill can be so awful if you are not dressed and ready for it.
    Until the next post. I’m downloading the correction for the calendar now before I forget all about it. Things like that happen so don’t get really upset…. we forgive you or the person who was to proofread that page.

    Carol M

  13. April says:

    I laughed out loud when I read your calendar solution. It’s perfect, and don’t you have any worries about the mistake because we all love you! 🙂

  14. Janet in Rochester says:

    What fun to see the videos & photos of Iris again. A mile-a-minute tail on your porch. Cookie-face. And hanging with Jack in your “wood room.” Gee, I’m guessing it must have been difficult to say goodbye last Fall when you left for your book tour. Again, my sympathy to everyone who knew & loved Iris. She’ll always be missed but thanks to photos and memories, she’s always be making us smile too. ❤️

  15. Debbie S., IL says:

    Susan, your soup recipe looks wonderful as we’re shivering here in the Midwest! The good thing about being confined to the indoors is it’s forced me to get my home back in order after the holidays. I was so sad to hear about Iris, losing our dog a few years ago was truly one of the most heartbreaking experiences and your friend Martha must be so sad. Tell her we are thinking about her and sharing her sadness, too. Stay warm!

    • sbranch says:

      She’s sad, but it’s a mixed blessing. Iris had another family she sometimes visited, and coincidentally that family showed up at Martha’s with a poem they wrote about Iris … today!

  16. Pam says:

    Thanks so much for the calendar fix! July 31st is my son’s birthday so he thanks you too!


  17. Kate says:

    Oh, Susan, it’s nice to know you aren’t perfect by leaving out a day on the calendar. But you come pretty close and now I have to go look at my calendar and know I have one, of the many calendars you have designed, that has a slight flaw making it much more valuable to me. My friends are getting hooked on you because I talk about you every once in a while on my blog and they love your calendars too. Happy New Year!

  18. Lynn Mccormack says:

    Oh no, sad to hear about Iris. She must have been very special to have shared so many lives.

  19. Tricia Debs says:

    You scared me with the bad news/good news. I thought you were going to say no more calendars, that you were retiring! Whewww! So sorry to hear of the passing of Iris. She brought alot of joy into this world. I made split pea and squash soup today. Stay warm.

  20. Janet in Rochester says:

    PS – I have the mini-calendar because it fits perfectly in the right place on my fridge [with magnets] – and it has July 31st. But apparently it has different drawings as well. The July pictured above is completely different from the mini-calendar July. I am flabbergasted! OMG, I always assumed the “mini” was just a smaller version of the “big” calendar. Do you actually draw 12 different months for the mini-version? Wow!! Not to mention above and beyond the call of duty!!

  21. LauraAnn says:

    Oh, sweet Iris…my in-laws had a neighborhood dog like her. His name was Casey and he would show up around dinnertime, hang out for a little while and always score a treat or two. His favorite thing was to chase the snow as my father-in-law would shovel the driveway. Miss him!
    Thank you for the fix on the calendar; I hadn’t noticed that yet. Did anyone ever mention that the “4” was missing on November’s page last year?? I used my best Susan Branch handwriting to fill it in…

  22. Julie Borg says:

    Just cried my way thru that! I’ve been fussing at my 9 year old lab, Talulah Belle, for sitting on my red couch. I guess since she is our old girl, I should just let her sit where she wants to! Thanks for sharing Iris with us! Can’t wait to try the soup! May have to serve it with some milk cake! Stay warm!

  23. renee says:

    Oh, I’m so very glad you only left a day off of the calendar. I thought you were announcing 2014 was your last year and I found myself in a knot. I’m a big fan and think in time my 2014 calendar will make my grandchildren a little cash!!!! I’m cheering and love the cover for 2015. I’d love to be an editor for you, just let me know, please.

    After saying goodbye to 2 beautiful yellow labs, I tend them for my friends while they leave town. They are so much more than just dogs and Iris was a charmer. Thanks for sharing here.

    Happy New Year….enjoy the bean soup and stay warm!

    • Holly Lynn Cook says:

      Funny I thought the same thing. That she was saying this calendar was the last one. What a relief!

      • sbranch says:

        What would I hang on my kitchen wall? I should probably make up a lot of calendars for years in advance so that when I can’t move these fingers anymore, I won’t have to suffer the indignity of having someone else’s calendar on my very own wall! 🙂

        • Gloria L. Nugent says:

          Good idea, dear Susan…but what about the things you just might miss to inspire you along the way?? So glad your philosophy is to keep “em coming for ALL of our walls! Hip, hip, HOORAY!!!

  24. Ruthie P says:

    Well you scared the honey out of me.When I was reading the first part about the calendar I didn’t know where you were going with it. I thought you were going to say you were retiring or something horrific like that. That’s no big deal about the calendar….love it all the more…whew. I am so very sorry about beautiful Iris.What a sweet heart. We have a ten year old yellow lab.I think we love her more and more are such a good heart Susan,letting Iris on your white couch and not caring….that’s why we love you.Please give her family my sympathy and to you too,I know you loved her.Thank you for the recipe…I already bought the towel…before the post…tooo cute xoxo Ruthie BTW…the little lady running back and for was soo funny,I imagine that is probably how you felt :)))

  25. Barbara F. says:

    Hi Susan and happy New Year to you and Joe and the fur babies. I won a copy of your 2014 Heart of the Home calendar, although the cover is different. Mine has a little girl reading a book in an arm chair with a sweet birdie whistling! And the month of July shows 31 days! xo

  26. Susan, next time, please consider giving extra towels to the animal shelter; they are always in need. As to dogs in heaven…well, of course there are animals in heaven. Many years ago, a girl child came to me and said, “Miss Sandra, will our dogs go to heaven?” I said, “Of course, all our beloved animals will be in heaven. God made them before he made us and He loves them and wants them to be in heaven with all of us.” Looking a tad relieved she said, “But Miss Nancy said animals don’t go to heaven.” I gave her a cuddle and said, “Well, Miss Nancy’s cats are going to heaven but because she doesn’t believe, she’ll never recognize them.”
    Ya just gotta have faith.

    • sbranch says:

      Ya just gotta have faith.

      • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

        My comment has always been that if my dogs aren’t there, it wouldn’t BE Heaven. I realize this might be a personal belief, however, it is my belief…

        • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

          I expect all my loved ones to be there….including my 4 legged loved ones.

  27. Norine Molnar says:

    So sorry to hear about Iris. I loved your posts and photos of her. She will be missed by the girlfriends, too.

  28. Jan says:

    How funny! I made bean soup and potato soup yesterday. Had leftover ham to use up. It was yummy! Ended up with 16 inches of snow. Most everything closed yesterday due to snow and blowing, plus subzero temps. Oh, also tried out my scone pan my husband got me for Christmas – made blueberry scones. I enjoy cooking and baking even more when it’s cold outside. Your scrapbox for your niece – what a wonderful idea! Love the new Valentine items. Those banners are so cute. Enjoy your soup and thanks for the recipe.

  29. Shelly says:

    I’m so sorry to hear Iris passed. The little doggies and kitties are the very best of this earth. What a sweet face she had and who could resist her dance at the door! Thank you for sharing Iris with us. Also, my mom used to say every project should have a mistake even if you have to make it on purpose. Just as a reminder that we are all human. So, I like that July is missing day 31, it made me remember what mom used to say. 🙂

  30. Don’t know if you’ll get this, but I have a tea towel question for you. How do you keep your tea towels from falling off the oven door? My mother finally decided to use clothes pins to keep them secure and in their proper place, which I do too. But it looks kind of … ugly. What do you think? Do you just pick them up over and over, or do you have a special way to keep them in place that doesn’t look yucky. Happy soup-eating! Sorry about dear Iris. She’s a special pup. And don’t worry about the calendar mess-up. Just think of it as a cool mishap that makes those calendars special. I have a book of Faulkner’s poems where the spine is upside down from the contents. I think it makes it rather special 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Hmm. Mine just stay. I flop them over the handle and they stay there. If I’m opening and closing the oven a whole lot, like basting or something, I might take it off. But I don’t think they ever just fall off.

  31. Carlie (Mission Viejo, CA) says:

    I don’t mind the missing last day of July…in fact, what a great idea! I think I’ll take the last day off each month and call it a mystery play day!

    Thank you for sharing pictures of Iris. What a precious face and how blessed we are to have shared a bit of her life. Thank you.

  32. Mary Whiting says:

    Not a problem about July 31. Without it, I guess I don’t have to come home from vacation!? Between your pocket calendar, your Book of Days and the 2014 wall calendar I received for Christmas, I would have noticed missing the day, I guess. Love your blog and all you do. Thank you, Susan.

  33. Sara says:

    Hearing about Heidi reminded me how important it is to pass down our family stories to the next generation. You’re a natural born storyteller, Susan, and it shows! 🙂 But then I guess with seven brothers and sisters you had a lot of lore-worthy happenings to build up your arsenal of entertaining stories. My Grandma Powell used to entertain me with stories of her childhood and my mother’s too, so it was only natural that I would carry the tradition on by adding to the family folklore. I love storytelling!! And, thankfully, so do my kids.

    It’s so important to instill that same love in the young ones in our families, don’t you think? And, really, it’s done the same way my Grandma did it–by entertaining them with the stories we heard as children, as well as the ones about our mischief-making during our own growing up years. Since my grandson Landen is coming for the afternoon tomorrow, I’ve decided to get the old photo albums out and tell him how his Great Grandma Powell went to Georgia in a covered wagon to the hot springs for her mama’s health, and about the time his own mama fell face first in the sand two years in a row from the same tire swing at the same campground in Michigan, and how hard it was to get the sand out of her mouth! (Thanks for the nudge, Susan!)

    And speaking of nudges, I know you must still feel a heart-nudge when you think of Iris at the door, but you’ll see her again, because all dogs must go to heaven. (I refuse to believe otherwise.)

    Bean soup tomorrow in the McKeefer household! Blessings… Sara

  34. Holly Lynn Cook says:

    Sigh, and sniff tears. Thank you for sharing about Iris.

  35. Teresa G., Lafayette, CA. says:

    Oh, I’m so so so sad about Iris. I felt like she was ours, too. Such a honey bun. I’m so sorry. It’s amazing how attached we are to everything around us. She was part of our world through your blog and she will be missed. By the way, I laughed out loud at your computer stick person racing frantically about because of the calendar! The lesson here is that every problem has a solution, but it’s even better when a friend helps you figure it out. A good reminder that you’re not alone. XXO

  36. Traci S. says:

    I always “save” your blog for the last to read as I peruse through my favorites. Like saving my favorite food for last to eat at mealtimes when I was a kid (and not infrequently as an adult). I relish the days I click the link to find a new post! They are such a treat to just settle down to and savor.

    Today, I almost laughed when the page loaded because there staring back at me was a very familiar cookbook page!! I love that recipe and am forever grateful you included it in that first book all those years ago when I was first learning to cook for myself! This fall/winter, it’s been made three times already and there is a bag of beans waiting on standby in the cupboard for the next time the weather says “soup.”

    Then, my heart nearly dropped onto the floor as you wrote you have bad news. “Bad news?!”, I though. Oh dear god, please not this one too. Gosh, you scared me for a minute there. I though for sure you were announcing you were going to stop writing your blog. I was still in shock anticipating you announcing the blog was ceasing that I had to read the section twice about July missing a day. It just wasn’t registering that this was your bad news! I’m afraid I would be one of those people who would have had the calendar hanging on the wall the entire month and still not noticed it was missing a day! But, what a clever and simple fix!!

    I’m so sorry to hear of Iris’ passing. Hugs to all who loved her and were loved by her.

  37. salve says:

    The mistake in your calendar?! Perfect! We are not Perfect – we make Mistakes! I’ll even treasure it more and will not make the Correction! July 31st celebrants will have FUN FUN FUN about it! LOL!

  38. Mary A. Brown says:

    Loved your post, Susan. Of course there are animals in heaven. It’s heaven, isn’t it? This cold is really dangerous. My daughter lives in Chicago and is a nurse in an ER. They are working trying to save the homeless. The police brought in a man with his little dog and both were near death due to the cold. They managed to save both of them. As the doctor said, “A life’s a life.” It really made me stop and think when I heard that some parts of the US were colder than Siberia! Thanks for the soup recipe and stay warm everyone!

    • Janet in Rochester says:

      God bless your daughter, Mary – and ALL nurses everywhere. One of my best friends is an internist in Boston. Just after her residency finished up [in San Francisco] we were holding one of our periodic college group reunions and I asked what was the most surprising thing she learned in all that time. Without any hesitation she says “I learned that for the most part, doctors don’t save lives. NURSES do…” When I happened to mention this to my mom a few weeks later, she told me that the very wise, very old GP we went to when we were really little kids had once told HER the very same thing. We decided it must be some really well-kept secret that only the VERY BEST doctors ever learn… ❤️

  39. Jane Armour says:

    As always, it is such a joy to find a new posting on your blog! I especially enjoyed the part about Iris. What a tremendous privilege to be adopted by a dog, & what a love she appeared to be! Thank you for sharing the simple joys in life & reminding us hos truly precious they are!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s it. Such an honor to be adopted by such a sweet doggie. She made us feel so good.

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        So true. To gain the love, respect and trust of a dog is no small feat. They can nail the phonies EVERY time…

  40. Cindy Stierhoff says:

    Even though it is late, just had to tell you how sad it is to hear about Iris’s passing. I wondered about her after you had come home, think you mentioned before you left on this long, long, long journey, glad you did go because I met you at Vroman’s in Pasadena, that Iris may not be there when you come home. I have never had a dog, but those faces on Labs, the smiles, are so infectious. Lost our 15 yr old kitty Bandit this past Nov…..heaven just better have them waiting for us.

  41. Jane Armour says:

    As always I was delighted to turn to your blog tonight & find a new post! I especially enjoyed the story about Iris. What a privilege to be adopted by a dog, & what a love she appeared to be! Thank you for sharing the simple joys in life, & reminding us that they are truly invaluable.

  42. Jane Armour says:

    Oops! Sorry, posted twice!

  43. Jerri Wheeler says:

    Happy New Year Susan!

    Thank you for your blog today. Hearing about sweet Iris made me well up as I dread the day my Hobie must go. He is a healthy English cocker, but at 9+ it is something I think about some. I am passing on a quote I read recently. I do not know the source. “Anyone who thinks diamonds are a girl’s best friend, never had a dog.” Isn’t that just the truth?

    I hope you and all of your loved ones, with fur and without, have a healthy 2014!

  44. No worries about the calendar Susan, I’m sure it’s easy to miss! I would have bought the calendar anyway, even if I knew a day was missing 🙂

    Stay warm!

  45. Annette McD says:

    Goodbye, Iris. Thank-you for teaching us that there is nothing warmer than a cold, wet nose.

  46. Tamara Leavins says:

    Please tell me the new tea towels aren’t already sold out. As soon as I saw them on the blog I went to the store, but didn’t see them. I see that the blog post was from today, but I guess it would be possible to sell out of something that adorable that fast. Thanks so much for all the happiness and joy you bring to me & so many others with every single thing you do. Admiringly yours, Tamara

  47. Dinahsoar says:

    Ohhhh…so sad that sweet Iris has departed…I agree with Will Rogers. And I’m sorry about the calendar. I have the small one only so far this year. I hope you won’t feel too badly. Yes I suppose leaving a day off of July in a calendar is technically a big deal…but in my world it is not and knowing you –as I feel I do from reading this blog and sharing your heart–I know you feel horrible…please don’t. Those of us who count you as our friend couldn’t give a fig and we know that it was not intentional or any kind of failing or flaw. Maybe we can laugh about it later–like ‘remember that year we cut July a day short?’..hew haw hee haw. Stay warm! It’s freezing here in the hills of TN…has been for 2 days now, but the high tomorrow is in the 40’s!! YAY…Bean soup sure does sound good too–or as we call it here ‘soup beans’.

  48. Jane S. says:

    Sweet Iris, what a lovely old girl she was!

    And speaking of sweet, your niece looks like you! That box will mean so much to her when you give it to her. 🙂

  49. Rebecca says:

    Oops, there is also an error in August. Julia Child’s birthday is 8/15 (my birthday too).

    Sorry to see everyone going thru the bitter cold. We’re sunny & nice here in So.Calif, but we desperately need rain.

    • sbranch says:

      I know, more of the same, non-editing ridiculousness. Just did not get moved one day over like it should have. Thank you Rebecca, we will do better next time.

  50. Dinahsoar says:

    Also, forgot to say, I was sure that it was you instead of your niece in that pic of her wearing your hat, the kitty sweater, gloves, and boots…that face could be yours…she is a doll…and that pose–adorable.

    • sbranch says:

      I never thought of us as looking alike because of her very blond hair until everyone has been mentioning it — and now I see it. Surprise!

  51. Ginnie says:

    Oh my gosh, what a roller-coaster ride of a post. The bad news? You call that bad news? I was afraid you were going to say that you were going to stop doing calendars or the blog or something equally unthinkable. I can live with 30 days hath July! Sticker or not, just so there’s a new calendar for next year, more blog posts coming, and more Susan in our lives.

    Re: the bean soup – have you ever tried a smoked turkey drum instead of the ham hocks? Once I did, I never went back. Lots more meat, and a very similar (but not exactly the same) smokey salty deliciousness as the ham hock.

    I’m so sorry to hear about Iris – I loved your stories about her. Makes me want to hug my dog – but he’s living with my parents so he can have company all day instead of being alone while I’m at work. I get to see him a couple of times a week when I go visit, and you can bet I’ll be giving him even more hugs this Thursday.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, well, it was bad news, but I can definitely see now that it could have been much worse! I’ve never tried the smoked turkey drum, but I will. Less fat for one thing! You are a good Dog mommy, making sure he has company.

  52. M J Smith says:

    Oh no … I’m so sorry to hear about Iris. She seemed like such a sweet little doggie. I know you will miss her as much as Martha and her family. Thank you for sharing the videos and pictures of her. And yes … all dogs DO go to Heaven!!!

    Your box for Heidi is just wonderful!

  53. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    Bless sweet Iris, she looked like such a sweet, beautiful dog. A great loss for everyone who knew her. Brought tears to the eyes of all of us who didn’t know her. It reminded me of our dog Kazuhiro (an Akita) who passed away a year ago last May. We still have not found another dog that captures our hearts.
    No problem with the calendar, I loved your Dad’s suggestion!
    Did you make that shawl? I bet it’s warm and cozy.
    The “I Love You” dishtowel is so sweet.
    Hearing how cleaned up and organized your house is, made me so envious. I have Christmas stuff still out, and so much clutter in closets and everywhere to deal with. I do have an excuse as I have a broken wrist that I did on November 30th. Next week on January 15th I will finally get my cast off! After that, no excuses!!
    Stay warm and safe!!

    • sbranch says:

      I broke my wrist a couple of years ago… my left one, thank goodness because they had to put a metal plate in it. It works OK, except that hand does not really love holding onions while I cut them. But it must! I also used my wrist as a nice long excuse! 🙂

  54. CATHERINE says:


    • sbranch says:

      The cookie jar comes via your email box (if you’re signed up for WILLARD) early every December, trying to get there in time to plan cookie exchange parties. Here’s a link to it for you: COOKIE JAR … ♥

  55. There is a special place in the human heart reserved just for our canine friends and loved ones. Was so sad to read about Iris. What a delight she was. We lost our Jess (border collie) almost 4 years ago this April and my heart still aches with missing her. We have Mitzie now (a 3 year old female English Cocker) and she is a delight and has wiggled her way into our hearts as equally as Jess did, albeit in a different way, but no less beloved. A house without a furry family member in it to love is missing something special.

    This is SOUP weather for sure! I made a big pot of Corn Chowder the other evening and last night we had Chili with crusty bread on the side. I think tonight it may be tomato with grilled cheese, but my sore throat is telling me this morning that the plans may change to chicken soup before the day is through!

    Stay warm and cosy on the East Coast, I hear some really frigid weather is on the way!! Wrap up, and keep that soup pot bubbling away on the back of the stove!!

  56. PS – I meant to add, that the fact your calendar has this little blooper on it only makes it more precious. Kind of like an old coin or a stamp that has come out wrong, with a mistake buried in it’s heart. They end up being worth a lot more at the end of the day because they are that tiny bit different. I like different. I like being different. I cherish your calendar, blooper and all and would not change it for the world!

  57. Angie(Tink!) says:

    *•.¸*.•♥¸.•*´´*•.¸*.•♥¸.•*´´*•.¸*.•♥¸Good Morning Sweet Sue I’ll Have A Cup Of Your Soup Please….Yum…Warm….We Have Been Freezing Even in Florida! Not As Low As Your 12 degrees But We Went Down to 28! We Had To Cover All Our Flowers & Plants! Yikes! 🙂 I Love Heidi & Her Fairy~Wings! From One Fairy To Another! 🙂 & Iris Is In Heaven Watching Over The Folks She Loves! *woof* 🙂 Sweet Sue I Love The Animated Screaming Peep & The Hugging Peeps So Cute! How’d You Do That? 🙂 I’m Sitting in Front Of The Fire Looking At All The Boxes Filled With Our Christmas Treasures…Today…The Attic….Warm Hugzzz & Lots Of Love & Always A Bit Of Pixie~Dust…xoxo Poof! *•.¸*.•♥¸.•*´´*•.¸*.•♥¸.•*´´*•.¸*.•♥¸

  58. Anna from Herefordshire says:

    Hi Susan,

    What a post! I smiled, felt sad (R.I.P. Iris) and nostalgic. My mother makes bean soup just the same way as you. Don’t worry about the calendar, just chalk it up to another “Shaker Masterpiece.” They made mistakes on purpose.
    Thanks for another great post.


  59. Pam says:

    The aroma from the soup is wafting all the way over here to England, (yummy). I can definitely see the family resemblance in the photographs of your niece. The angel box is a lovely idea and I’m sure she will be thrilled. Don’t worry about the calendar. I love it as it is and it makes it more personal I think, not just churned out in a factory :). Sorry to hear about Iris she looked a lovely dog, but what a genuinely sweet comment from 8 year old Anna Lee. Anyway, stay warm and it’s exciting that you are getting started on the 2015 calendar.

  60. Darlene says:

    So sorry to hear sweet Iris has passed on. Came across this a while back….. “Heaven, will no Heaven be, if my cat’s (dog, pet) not there to welcome me”xoxo

  61. Andi M says:

    Thanks for letting us know about Iris. As I get older, hearing of pets passing is harder to handle than when I was a youngster.

  62. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I think I can smell your pot of delicious soup all the way down here in Florida!! Mmmm, bean soup for breakfast. What a perfect delight. You know, your photos as story of Iris just made me get this huge lump in my throat because she looks like she had a bit of yellow lab in her. We raised our girls with two yellow labs and they were the sweetest dogs ever. Those faces of Iris on the couch? Oh how many times I saw that same look: What Mom? Just taking a snooze on the couch! It was so heartbreaking to see our labs age and know that soon we would not have them any longer. They were such a part of our family and added so many moments of laughter and comfort to everyone. I am glad Iris got to be a part of your life and thank-you for such a lovely tribute to her good soul! Somehow it feels comforting to me that yet another sweet and wonderful dog was appreciated and given a proper memorial for her goodness!

  63. Debbie Anderson says:

    Oh Susan, I love the calendar just the way it is. Life is not perfect so why should we expect everything in it to be? I will leave mine alone.
    Keep warm in this cold winter!!

  64. Tina Mandeville says:


    I wrote yesterday that blogging was not around forever but however did we survive without yours! You warmed hearts – and we need all the help we can get these days!!! We are nightly watchers of FOX news and whenever watching weather, I am always intent to hear about what is happening on the island just because of you! 🙂 You have been a busy beaver! Feels so good to get such things accomplished when they are looming. The calendar – “First I did this”…LOL! We can all relate to that more than not! LOVE “Celebrating Everyday Life” – got my digital copy but must admit I want to hold that baby in my hands! I would so love for this to go to mass print and subscription that way! But it is just lovely and I loved your interview! To sit across the table from someone and talk to them until the entire story is told…:) The tea towel is precious – tell me your Mom does not love that! Heidi is one lucky girl! So sweet of you to do that for her – she will treasure it! Losing Iris’s is always hard but lasting memories and gifts they do leave behind. Thanks for always sharing!

  65. Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

    What a beautiful post. I could almost smell the bean soup! You are one of the most conscientious people I know. I don’t know of any other artist who after creating a calendar and finding an error would create a page on their blog with a beautiful fix for the error. You are truly one of a kind Susan! Scrapboxing, I love the idea! I think I’ll be making a scrapbox or two. 🙂 I’m glad you let us know about Iris being in heaven. You knew we would have eventually been asking about her when pictures of her on your couch weren’t being posted on the blog. It always makes me cry when a furry friend goes to heaven. But I would rather have had them in my life and lost them, than not to have had them at all. So that makes the sadness of their loss worthwhile. Thank you again for the 2014 Full Moons bookmark. Mine is already posted on my bulletin board. I love it! And, thank you Susan for being exactly who you are, wonderful. ♥

  66. Barb from Ohio says:

    You made me cry today with your post with Iris. I remember she was in your blog before, the picture of her on your couch looking up with her sweet face. I was struck then how much she reminded me of our Katie, whom we lost two years ago this February. She didn’t look exactly like her , Katie was butterscotch colored all over, with a dark streak down her back and longer ears, but the same sweet face as Iris. So sorry to hear of her passing. My live-in college daughter wants us to get another dog, and I am still thinking about it, but I really want one too.
    I have to admit I had looked over your calender for this year and did not spot the missing 31st in July, but thanks for the fix-it. Stay warm and enjoy that soup!

  67. Deb McDonnell says:

    Oh dear little Iris. She held a special place in my heart. Such a sweet character. As for the calendar, who needs July 31st anyway. I plan to ignore it. x

  68. JoAnne Daniels says:

    Susan — I’m so sad to hear about Iris. She looks like she was a real love and you
    let her share your home and sofas — just like a real “dog Mom”. We lost our wonderful Basset, Maggie Mae before Christmas and my neighbors lost their
    sweet Toy Poodle, Maddie just a week ago. Heaven must be filled with “newbies”
    learning the ropes — I agree with Will Rodgers! I love to think of all my dogs
    running happily around in the fields of heaven in the prime of their lives. They
    give us so much and ask for so little.
    On a happier note — my new yellow lab puppy, Ellie, and I are going to our first
    Puppy Kindergarten class tonight! It was only 4 degrees this morning, so I’m,
    thinking I’ll have to wrap her in a cozy blanket tonight. She’s a growing puppy
    so she will outgrow any coat I buy her — I swear she grows overnight!
    I made the ham hock and bean soup earlier this fall — yum! The house DID smell wonderful! Keep warm! Maybe your neighbors will consider a new puppy some
    day — if they do — send us pics!

  69. Marianne says:

    Wonderful memories of Iris.

  70. Kirsten from So. Cal. says:

    O.K. First a calendar glitch, then Iris passes away, and the girlfriend’s charms are sold out!!! What a morning! Thanks for the calendar fix, so sorry about Iris (truly heartfelt), but the charms! Oh dear! Guess I should have moved much faster! But it’s o.k. because of the photo of your “favorite shawl” made my heart jump and I think that was me giggling with delight when I saw it! You are so sweet to include it in the blog! Love you Susan!

  71. Robyn Genau says:

    Iris is the same color as and looks a lot like my Lexi Gayle who is getting to be an old girl now. We got her for my son when he was six. He will be twenty in June. We have never known as much love as she gives us every day. Rest in dog heaven,Iris.

  72. Deborah Heater (Indiana - Feb. 01) says:

    R.I.P. lovely, charming, Iris. IN has just survived record low temps. re -15 and wind chill -40!!! WOW we now are at a “balmy” 19. OK, it’s Winter so we are dealing with all the inconveniences during this Polar Vortex (trending name). I know dear Pat M. (MN) thinks all my fussing is funny since this is normal for her, and I did have to remind her she lives in MN and it should be MINUS temperatures? ha Jim was looking out our picture window early this morning along with our Mystee Mae and witnessed nature at it’s best (a hawk swooped down and snatched an unexpecting Blue Jay for his morning meal)….:O Circle of life isn’t always pretty and joyful is it. Jim made us bean soup last week and it was so delicious I gave him my Mother’s recipe and the only difference is diced potatoes which makes it so yummy! I know after being snowed/iced in for several days people are complaining of Cabin Fever? It has been 2 weeks since I have gone outside and I’m happy to say Winter is a great time to heal, rest, enjoy reading, write in a journal, just overall “nesting”. Stay warm to the cold state girls, and for you warm state girls…Enjoy!

    • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

      Deb, this weather recently has been even colder than “normal”. I’m starting to wonder what is normal, actually, since the weather everywhere has been a little weird lately…I can tell we are getting older as when we used to live in far northern MN where it really WAS subzero a lot of the winter, we just went about our business. Living in southcentral MN now, I make a list of errands to get all done on one trip out. Other than running dogs outside for quick trips and filling the birdfeeders, we are happy to say inside! Although I did tell Norm that on Sat. when it is supposed to “warm up” above zero, we should go for a walk in the nature area near our house. Of course, that was before the weatherman started talking about freezing rain/sleet/measurable snowfall…LOL!

  73. Anne Branco says:

    Hi Susan. Happy New Year! I was so excited to see another post from you. It’s the first thing I check for when I come in to work in the morning. It gives me something to look forward to at lunch time. Your posts always brighten my day. I received your calender from my husband as one of my Christmas presents. I was so thrilled. I have not looked ahead, as I want to be surprised on the first day of every month. “It’s the little things.” The 30 day thing, ah, mistakes happen to the best of us. No big deal at all. The calendar is so delightful and such a treasure. One of my other presents was your Autumn book from my youngest son. That brought tears to my eyes. Unbenownst to me he had gotten on my Amazon wish list and there was “Autumn” at the very top of the list. A twofold treasure; a book by you and given to me by my son. It just doesn’t get better than that! I proudly showed off my two Susan Branch treasures to my friends when they came to visit. They called me a Susan Branch groupie. A title I will happily accept! Happy 2014 and I can’t wait for the future blogs. Anne

  74. Linda T. in Maine. says:

    Lovely blog today. Mmmm soup. Made your corn chowder. Best I ever ate. I love saving all the little things in life that take us back in time. I save all kinds of thing like this. I am one of eight children in our family also. I love old pictures and things that we made when we were young. We had no electronics to keep us busy back then. We made path through the woods and gave trees and brooks all kinds of names. Ran through the woods many days to our special places. I remember that all of us neighborhood kids would go to the wishing well and take our pennys and make a wish. We really thought that they would come true some day. We used to cash in our 5 cent Casco Quart soda bottles we found on the side of the road, cash them in buy 2 for a penny candy called maryjane or squirel nut , double bubble gum and so forth. We would go back to the wishing well and made a big wish. You didn’t have to have money to have the time of your life. My father had a logging road out through the woods also and we used it to get to lots of our special places. An old tree fell across this fast running brook and we named it the amozon river. We all would try to balance ourselves across the so called river and some would fall in and get all wet. Did we ever laugh. The so called river was only a small stream but looked so big to us back then. Fun the things we do when we are young at heart. You kind of bought out those thoughts when talking about your neice today. Those sure were good times. Laugh did we laugh. So glad to know that in this not so perfect world we live in that you are just one of us when it comes to mistakes. With all you have done for all of us in the past year, I don’t know how you did it. Glad you are back home in the comfort zone. I have enjoyed every minuite and LOVE every thing you have done for all of us for years. I can’t tell you what this means to me and others also. You keep the light lit in our hearts. I am a better person because of you and just want you to know this. Thank You. I am still just a kid at heart. Sorry you lost a pal next door. Thanks for all the nice towels, tea, ect., that is availible to buy. It gives us a chance to buy the things that mean the most to you. The new towel is so,so cute. Thanks. Have the best day of your life.

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

    good morning Susan, hello and good morning girlfriends. oh so sad about Iris, please tell Martha how sorry I was to hear of Iris’ passing. I hate to ask but was she sick or was it old age or an accident??? I know around here folks just don’t slow down and someone is always losing a pet to the highway here. breaks my heart when that happens. yummy bean soup recipe, just may put a pot of it on my stove tonight for supper. its actually warmed up a bit here…40’s and rain with a bit of sun poking through now and again. Midnight is all better now, and putting on weight. he is his old spunky and feisty self again. for which I am grateful, I was terrified we would lose him last month. now he is out and enjoying his new toy from Christmas, and may I suggest all of you girlfriends with kitties may want to get this toy, its called the cat’s meow and boy do my cats love it. you can find it at Wal-Mart and you may have seen it advertised on TV. its really good for the cats, keeps them interested and amused and its good exercise for them as well. I love watching them play with it, and to be honest I thought it was a bunch of phooey when I heard about it but a friend got one for her kitties and they go bonkers over it. she can’t get to it fast enough to turn it on for them and get out of the way. well the barnyard critters are having a picnic, the hens are having a worm hunt and feast, and since its somewhat nice today they are all out and about enjoying the day, the ducks are swimming in their pool and splashing the hens if they can. life on the chicken farm, its never dull. time for me to get busy and do some housework, sweeping the floors, vacuuming and running the dust mop around, plus putting the drawers back in the bath vanity… had a frozen pipe a couple of weeks ago and water soaked bathroom. like I said never dull around here. have a great day everyone……. hugs….. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      She had an incurable tumor for a while but she did pretty good with it for a long time + old age too. Cat’s meow is that thing they advertise that has a mouse or something running back and forth around in a circle?

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        yes that’s the one. my cats adore it, they can’t get enough of it. it drives them crazy trying to catch the “mouse under the cover” and it switches direction s all the time on them, they just love it. its pretty funny to watch them play with it and they do get a good bit of exercise going after it. I think Jack would probably love it.

  76. Peggy Cooper says:

    Phew, I thought you were going to say you wouldn’t be writing the blog any longer, and that would be really bad news. Missing a day, I can live with that. Once my fear was abated, I enjoyed this cozy soup bubbling story. You’ll miss Iris, but it’s obvious she had a wonderful life. That magazine looks wonderful, so I’ll have to pick up a copy next time I’m out and about.

  77. Oh Susan, so sorry abt Iris! She knew you loved her, glad to now know the story abt why she liked coming to your house,(course, who wouldn’t!) She got to live there for a whole year! She will be missed by all! 🙁
    I am finishing the last of my split pea soup today! Yum! I can smell your bean soup simmering on your beautiful stove! Never thought of sneaking a bowl for breakfast, delicious way to start the day!
    Calendar goof makes it much more endearing!
    What a precious box of treasures you have waiting to be passed on to your beautiful niece! What a fun story, love thinking obout her swinging on her mama’s foot while they twirrled! Yes, I love when Meg Ryan is twirrling with her mother in You’ve Got Mail.
    Ooh, I’ve got to find that magazine!
    Your towel is precious!
    It’s finally out of the single didgets and below here in WNC, 33 right now, supposed to get up to low 40’s! Maybe our frozen pipes will thaw!!! Glad we have heat and power tho!
    Love and hugs,
    Check those feeders gals, the birds are hungry! Hubby had to fill ours up 2 days in a row, probably again tomorrow! Down to 2 feeders, some critter broke one of them, found it down by the creek!

    • sbranch says:

      We’re doing the same, filling constantly and fed the wild turkeys today too.

    • evangeline says:

      I am curious where u live in western nc? I also live there…another Susan Branch fan-girlfriend close by! Hi from Hendersonville/Asheville area… happy Thursday…evangeline

  78. Susan in SC says:

    I’m not one for being overly sentimental in such a public forum, however I must tell you how grateful I am to “know” you through your art, books and especially your blog. After reading today’s post, I realized that you are so much more than a “girlfriend”. . . you are our sister, our mother, our favorite aunt, our fun-loving neighbor, our inspirational mentor, our compassionate confidant, our trusted role-model and our guardian angel who helps to keep our hearts and hands turned to the beauty of simplicity and domesticity.
    Thank you for sharing your life and talents with us, Susan. And remember that the Amish intentionally add a few “mistakes” to their handwork, as a reminder that only God’s work is perfect.
    I’m looking forward to sharing yet another year with Susan branch and all the girlfriends!

    • sbranch says:

      Susan, thank you!!

    • Holly says:

      Susan in SC, I fully agree with you!! This has to be the best blog ever! 🙂 Of course written by the best girlfriend ever! I love how everyone actually read comments too, and reach out to befriend others. ~~~HF

  79. Debbie says:

    So sorry about Iris. I am a dog lover and it is the hardest thing to see our faithful companions get old and pass on. We have been snowed in since Sunday here in east central IL and I am itching to get out. Hopefully, tomorrow. So many people have wound up stuck in drifts or off the road. You have inspired me to go organize my sewing room and maybe start a new project. Stay warm!

  80. Sheri says:

    Whew – I thought you were announcing that 2014 was your last calendar. Missing a date? No worries. Missing a 2015 calendar? Big problem!

    Funny – I saw the towel and thought, “Some cute little Susan Branch fan out there has done a great job of imitating Susan’s style, even at that young age.” 🙂

    I’m so sorry to hear about Iris. What a sweet soul she appeared to be. I wish I had a visiting neighbor dog. You were fortunate that she loved you as her second family. I know you made her life richer for it.

  81. Debbie Gage says:

    I loved your blog today. *sniff* Right up until the message about Iris. I’ve been wondering how Iris has been lately. I missed her right along with Jack & Girl while you were gone away. I’m so sorry for her family and for your loss in her retreat from this world. I’m sure she’ll be waiting for you all when the time comes for that same crossing. She will make it an even more wonderful place!

    As for the calendar blooper – I think this just makes it more of a collector item than ever! Not so sure I’ll make the repair – although my daughter may have something to say about that since it is her birthday that’s missing. Maybe she’ll consider this year a “bye” for aging! 🙂

    As always, thank you for all you do for all of we girlfriends! You are an inspiration to us all!

  82. Marianne says:

    I had just started showing my daughter the pictures of your niece and she right away said your niece looks like you. I see someone else said that too. Heidi’s going to like her scrapbox from Aunt Sue.

  83. Joanie B says:

    So sorry to hear about Iris. I’m shedding tears over a sweet dog I never had the chance to pet. I’m sure you and Joe took care of doing that for me. Much love to you and her first family.

  84. miss winnie says:

    Thank you so much for telling us of Iris’ passing. I am so glad you included several photos of her. I cried when I read that she had passed. So sorry that you & Joe were gone and unable to be home to say goodbye and comfort her mom & dad. How blessed you were to have a special friend like Iris who graced your home with her visits. My condolences to her family.
    miss winnie*

  85. Jack says:

    Yes , it’s old dogs and children….. and watermelon wine !

  86. Mo'a says:

    You are very lucky to have and to have had such wonderful four legged friends…they give so much to our lives.
    I love the idea of Heidi’s box…such a great and loving idea. I am going on record here…I am going to steal this idea for my three grandchildren 🙂

  87. Holly says:

    Hello! I made bean soup yesterday too! Your soup looks great though. I’ll have to try the bay leaf next time. Heidi looks very much like you. I have a niece named for me, and she is more like me than her mother. (I secretly love it!!)
    It seems all the girlfriends are “nesting” these cold, blustery days. We all need time to putter around the house, to make soup, clean drawers, rearrange the china cupboard, etc… I’ve been making a stack of things to list on Ebay, down sizing just a bit. Yesterday my studio got a good cleaning, so today I’m back to making quilts. Of course, it’s one of my favorite things to do, so no complaints here.
    There is nothing more dear than an old, well-loved dog. Holly will be missed for quite a long while. We had a neighbor dog, a golden lab, named Holly who came to my back sliding door every day, after the school bus left, and her people went to work. (sometimes she was accompanied by a very naughty little goat, named latte who thought she still needed a bottle of milk, though she was full grown!) She would follow me while I fed the goats & sheep, worked in the garden, and came inside for lunch even! I loved her. But every day when she heard the school bus at the bottom of the hill, she would get so excited, and we would go outside to collect the kids, hers & mine. Holly would lead her kids home, running in front of them up their long drive.

    Sue… love the photos, paintings, thank you. ~~~Holly in Indiana

  88. Jane Grayson says:

    So sorry to hear about Iris. Sending hugs. As a vicar I can confirm all pets go to heaven! Please don’t worry about the calendar – it’s beautiful just as it is. I enjoyed an hour or so tonight cutting up last year’s to make bookmarks, so I can carry on enjoying 2013’s this year too!
    Love Jane, Manchester, England

    • sbranch says:

      You’re our first resident vicar, Jane! Hooray, we needed you. And thank you for the confirmation! We were pretty sure. xoxo

  89. Kimberly from Texas says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Iris. I know you will miss her. Thank you so much for your post. I just love them so. I feel like I’m reading a letter from a dear friend. I do have one question though. I LOVE your new book and you talk about an electric kettle. I am a teacher and would love to have one in my classroom. Would you mind telling me what kind you have? You have introduced me to TEA!!! I am a coffee drinker and being from the south, love ice tea. Hot tea with honey and cream!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! As far as the calendar, no worries! It could be missing half a month and I wouldn’t care as long as you keep making them!! Love you and keep the goodness coming!

  90. Mary Ann in Missouri says:

    Susan, I wasn’t going to mention this, but since you’ve already told about a mistake on this year’s calendar, I’ll admit that I found another one when I was transferring my friends and family’s birthdays from last year’s calendar to this year’s. Last year, your calendar said Julia Child’s birthday was on August 15th, but this year it says it’s on August 14th. I checked on the internet, and it is on August 15th. Sorry. 🙁 It only makes this calendar more of a “keeper”, but of course, I save them all anyway. My calendars are a little bit like a diary, and I’ve kept every one for the past 25 years.

    • sbranch says:

      Don’t feel bad telling me … that’s also a part of the editing fiasco of 2014 — grr. sorry.

  91. Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Hi Susan,
    Laughed at the frantic figure running back and forth. I’m with the rest of the GF’s, a missing day? No big deal! The two guys I work with suggested you make a mistake every year on the calendar and then we have to find it, like “where’s Waldo?”
    I was reading Pat’s comment about the cat toy. If it’s Pounce, BB3 got one for Christmas and she loves it. It has several speeds and the mouse runs erratically around the circle, but always stops under one of the covered shelters. And it makes a clicking sound if they put their paw on it and stop it. 3 AA batteries and instant entertainment!
    I love it that you made soup for breakfast. It’s been a while since I’ve had bean soup…it sure looked good.
    And dear Iris. We will all miss that sweet, sweet smiling face and wagging tail. What a love.
    She reminded me so much of Yellow Dog, a rescue I only had for 9 months. She was so old and had so many health issues, but she fell in love with me and I fell in love with her. All she ever wanted was to be in the house and lay next to my feet. She was a dear soul.
    What a winter storm this has been. Hope everyone is out of the deep freeze soon.
    Stay warm.

  92. kim says:

    Hi Susan!
    Can you throw all ingredients for the Bean Soup in a CrockPot?

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve never done it … but since it cooks for four hours on top of the stove, I would say, why not?!

  93. Julie Cavrich says:

    Sweet Iris! A lovely tribute. I had tears in my eyes. Nice of you to make an interactive calendar this year! I didn’t notice it either, but I thought it was funny. Kisses to the Kitties!

  94. Bev in Oregon says:

    I love your calendars so much – they give me that “warm, homey feeling” as I read every word and study your darling illustrations each month – missing a day on one month does not bother me a bit! Love your blog and your wonderful stories – I only wish you would put together a “girlfriend tour of England” so that we could all go along with you! Thank you for putting smiles in our hearts!

  95. Catie Cook says:

    Awwwww, Iris. May she enjoy heavenly cookies for eternity. And for Heidi? What an awesome gift awaits her! What an amazing Aunt you are! Thanks for the dear post, Susan. Love the bean recipe and will definitely make it soon… it is VERY cold here in the Northwoods. Monday, we awoke to minus 28 degrees. But it is warming up… this morning it was only minus 18!!

  96. Elaine in Toronto says:

    I once saw a T-shirt that said, “Be the person your dog thinks you are” and my guess is that you and Joe didn’t disappointment Iris, bless her heart.

  97. Just Cats says:

    What a lovely tribute to Iris.

  98. Jamie from Virginia says:

    Bless Iris’ heart. How special it was for you to be adopted by her. She gave you a precious gift. Dogs have an amazing heart. I’m sure most here have heard that dog spelled backwards is God. Sending love to Iris’ family for celebration of her life. I definitely believe our critters go to Heaven, thank you Vicar Grayson for confirming this!!

    I scrapbox too!! Much more fun than gluing stuff down to paper, as you can pick pieces out and hold them, turn them over, rearrange them in the box. Truly, kindred spirits dwell here.

    Still FReEZingggg here in north-west Virginia!
    ~ Jamie

  99. Isabel says:

    Hi Susan,

    I LOVE your recipes. Would I be able to find some of the older books still in print? Do you have any of them? I love the pictures of Iris. I have a pet and know just how your neighbors feel.

    P.S. I went to the website for Celebrating Everyday Life. I would love to purchase the magazine, not get the digital one and can’t get in touch with them. My email to them came back. Any information you can give me on how to purchase this BEAUTIFUL magazine would be appreciated.

    • sbranch says:

      I forwarded your comment to Jennifer at the magazine, I hope she gets back to you!

      Every so often we get in an old copy of my books, watch the VINTAGE section of my web store and see what happens.

  100. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Susan, don’t beat yourself up over the calendar. I believe your little error was a gift to all of us. I’m sure the Girlfriend’s are thinking the same as me…hey, she REALLY is just like us. My Mom use to say, “perfection every day is exhausting, it takes the joy out of living in the moment.”

    SO sorry to hear of Iris’ passing. She looked like such a sweet animal. I hope all who loved her and shared their lives with her will remember this:

    We must always give thanks for the furry angels that have blessed our lives. For it is through their unconditional love, dedication, and loyalty that we learn to be better people.

    Stay cozy and warm, Girlfriend’s!

    Marie xo

Comments are closed.