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

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428 Responses to Soup is Bubbling . . .

  1. Vivian says:

    So sorry about Iris, I’m sure everyone misses her. She seemed to be a sweet dog. I lost a Maltese dog I had for 16 years and it was terrible. I grieved for months, didn’t get another dog for three years. Now, my Maltese, Raleigh, is the most precious little dog. I love him so much it’s scary.

    Want to let you know, I gave two of your “A Fine Romance” books to friends for Christmas, and they really enjoyed it. One friend lives in Dunedin, Florida, and she let me know that I couldnt have given her anything she enjoyed as much as the book. I told her about your blog.

    Happy New Year,

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

    Hello Everyone, Susan I just wanted to do a P.A. for all the girls out there with Dogs that have to go outside in all this snow. I know from experience with our dearly departed Goldee Meg when we would have temps. below 10 she could not stand long enough to do her business because of the freezing snow. I would put Vaseline on her pads which allowed her to go out, she was so good about coming in and allowing me to lift each paw (she would actually raise them for me) and I would wipe the Vaseline off. It is a lot of extra work but truly did help. Also, in the snows where it comes down with a lot of accumulation and then a layer of ice comes to cover it that is when the poor dogs break through and that thin layer of ice acts like a razor and can slice their paws. I no longer have a dog to care for I just wanted to give some helpful advice to all the girls that do. I also wanted to tell you how wonderful I think it was of you to “allow” Iris to make herself comfortable on your white sofa. I know most women would not allow that (and to anyone dealing with chasing the dogs off of their “good” furniture, just put a piece of fleece or any fabric down and maybe that will help keep the anxiety down?) I must say when you have kitties the word “allow” isn’t even an option now is it. Give Jack and Girl a smoosh from me!

    • Carol from Connecticut says:

      “Muttluks” snow boots for dogs protect them in harsh weather conditions.

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

        Hello Carol, I think it was probably 28 yrs. ago when I bought my little dog Ginger a wool coat and boots and my Dad thought I had lost my mind. So, our first big snow came and I dressed the little thing up and sat her outside and she stood there like a statue. Finally, my Dad came up from behind me watching her from the window and sarcastically said “How long do you intend to leave her out there”, and she never moved or did her business so that was a total waste of good money!!!! Now, granted the larger dogs may not mind boots but my little Ginger was mortified and came close to becoming an Ice Sculpture that Winter!!!

  3. evangeline says:

    Really loved the tribute to Iris….for all of us who love our pets like family…we hurt for Martha and everyone that “shared ” Iris life. Thank you Susan, for including us in your day to day living…we are continually blessed. The soup bubbling on the stove makes me so happy!! It is such a comfort to smell food on the stove, bread in the oven….and know your loved ones can b there to enjoy it…that is what really makes a person RICH! Really really rich…..Fire in the fireplace,hot tea/cocoa to drink….and if really lucky…snow outside…what more can anyone want..or need? Really appreciate you and your gift…gifts I should say….writing, painting,cooking,quilter,cat trainer,and the list can continue without end….you make a difference in so many of our and sigh real big…………………..YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE…………..thankyou, evangeline

  4. Audrianne says:

    Happy New Year!

    First dear Susan, do not fret about an additional day. How many of us would LOVE an additional day here or there; just as there was no 4 in the month of November, I believe it was the Chinese who believed there needed to be a flaw in what was created as perfection was only achieved by God.

    I am so sorry to hear about Iris and my sympathies go out to Martha. Our “kids” create such memories for us. I had to put down my beloved collie Tess, the Sunday after Christmas – cancer. I miss her horribly, esp. in the mornings when she would nudge me awake to go for our first walk of the day. I do have her memories and she lives on in the book I wrote this summer about my first year away from the classroom. It is entitled, Graduation: Making a Life after Teaching (you can look at it on Amazon).

    Like you, it is a balmy 12 degrees here in Michigan today. It was a -2 on Tuesday but we have Lake Michigan and lake effect that warms us as the winds blow east. They are promising a high of 34 tomorrow! Our first thaw.

    Sally forth, stay warm and may fond thoughts of Iris be with you today.

    • sbranch says:

      They are, and I just want to say how sad I am about Tess. Collie’s are so beautiful, their eyes especially.

  5. deborah Thomas says:

    when a dog member of the family leaves us,…it’s truly a sad time. Thank you for the Iris tribute…she will be sorely missed!

    My daughter’s name is Heidi, so I really enjoyed the cute pictures, and ideas !

    I love to make bean soup, but I use navy beans, and soak the night before-overnight…so delicious.
    I love how you tell us how you get up so early, still dark out, and proceed with joy and smiles to your day….I try to think of it when my alarm goes off…..

  6. Mary S. says:

    Oh! I have tears runnning down my face! Sweet Iris! We’ll miss her, too!! :'(

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  7. Sharon says:

    We had the same thought! I made a ham soup for dinner on Tuesday too. Only mine was a ham and corn chowder I found at It was heavenly having a leftover bowl for lunch yesterday. Thanks for taking the time to update your blog often.

  8. Megan Hyatt says:

    Oh I am so very sad. I loved Iris, she reminded me of my dogs which have long gone… She was such a happy thing and looked so lovely on our white lounge, she wasn’t a silly girl at all. Such a good dog not eating the cats food… I think it is so sad to lose such a good friend. Please pass on my condolences to her ‘parents’.

    • sbranch says:

      I will do that, but I think they are reading these comments and I’m sure they’re as touched as I am. xoxo

  9. Kathy Lorenzini says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’ve been making your soup now for quite a few years. I always have some in the freezer! It’s in there right now as a matter of fact, and I think I will defrost some so I can heat it up when I get home tonight from my part-time job! The only thing I do differently when making your soup is to add a package of cubed, fresh butternut squash. Oh! and I use apple cider to “sweeten” up the broth! I love our soup!! Stay warm!!

  10. Leota Krantz says:

    Just a comment regarding my 2014 Calendar…I love it, just the way it is. Now I know for sure you are “not” perfect.

  11. Kathy Phenix says:

    The sad news is “That Iris has crossed the rainbow bridge” but the glad news is that she had “Wendy Sue” waiting for her. Wendy Sue, our 13 yr old Goldendoodle passed over on Nov 14 and I’m sure she was eagerly waiting to meet any newcomers. Iris sounds like our former pet “Boone” a golden retriever we had for 12 yrs in North Carolina. After he passed I kept meeting neighbors who offered condolences and stories of Boone visiting them almost daily for one cookie and a pet before he moved on down the block. Now I know where he was going when he would take off from the back yard after “conning” me one more time to let him off leash while I watched him do his business. They do know how to steal a bit of our hearts. Kathy
    PS I have a niece, Heidi, also.

  12. Susan (in VA) says:

    Iris was so well-loved and had a happy life, I’m sure. My condolences to Martha, Gerry, you, Joe, Anna Lee and all the rest of her extended “family” who will miss her greatly.

    On a lighter note, I thought the bit about the calendar was hilarious.

  13. Jennie says:

    Hi Susan- this post cracked me up (forgetting the 31st- love how human you are!) and it made me sad (loosing Iris). Hearing about Iris made me doubly sad because my best friend’s dog is dying of lymphoma and she only just told me. Two sweet doggies in one day! I’m still in shock that Calvin (her dog) is so sick and he will no longer be with us on our regular walks together. And he’s only 2 1/2- isn’t that tragic? I’m so glad Iris had a long life of loving and being loved. Blessings on you all.

  14. Margie Terry says:

    Oh Susan, I did not see the “get your tissues” warning on your blog email so I was a mess after reading about dear Iris! My deepest sympathies to Martha and Gerry. I’ve always had dogs in my life – my parents bought a male Collie puppy just before I was born and we were inseparable. Six years later, they bought a female Collie and then there were puppies – lots of them. They did keep one of the puppies – Lassie! The first time I ever saw my Dad cry was when Lassie passed. While going through my parent’s belongings last year I found a copper photo of a Collie and on the wood frame my Dad wrote the names of Lassie, Quizzical (Lassie’s Mom) and Axiom (Lassie’s Dad – my bestest friend) along with their dates of birth and death – you know what happened then, I cried………’s amazing how they affect us – just like our
    children. When my oldest daughter was 1, I got a dog from one of my best friends, Crystal was a sweet and beautiful dog – Collie/German Shepherd mix – and she loved pulling the diapers, sheets and towels off the clothesline!! We named her Crystal because the letters of our daughter’s name were in her name “Stacy”. Right now, we have a Golden Retriever, Maddie, and she will be 15 years old next month – what a trooper she has been – we moved from CA to PA last year. She’s not too crazy about a lot of snow so reading Deborah’s tips for dogs and snow was information I really appreciate. Thank you for your blog/stories and thank you for letting me share my stories.

  15. Jane Zamudio says:

    Dear Susan, It was a sad post to read today. We lost our dear Finley on the twenty-first of November. I can only imagine how the parents of dear sweet Iris are feeling. God bless them. I sat and prayed that she met many friends as she arrived in heaven. Thank you for all the wonderful posts you give to us Susan,and I think you are so wonderful to include the sad with the glad! Happy New Year to you and the family! Keep doing all the marvelous things that you do..never stop haha!!

  16. WA Judy says:

    Lovely post. Seeing Iris reminds me of our neighborhood run-around dog, Jet. Jet is a black lab mix that is extremely smart and loves to chase tennis balls. The neighbors are unsure where he lives. He shows up occasionally…spent Fathers’ Day chasing balls in our yard. When he sees us he digs up balls he has buried in our yard! On Christmas day he discovered our side door slightly open (to let in some cooler air as we opened gifts). He stuck his nose in and left his dirty ball just inside. After someone threw it for him a few times he disappeared…..but I found his ball carefully placed by our front door, awaiting “next time”.

  17. Debra Hoy says:

    Although your post about Iris made me cry, you perked me right back up with your soup. I had a good “PA Dutch” supper myself – ham pot pie (with white beans in it), fresh baked bread with apple butter and bread& butter pickles. I feel like we shared a meal together! Thanks for sharing your days with us all. I treated myself and my daughter to ‘A Fine Romance’ for Christmas. We both loved it — so much so that I rationed myself with it because I didn’t want to get the to the end!!

  18. Cyndi in NC says:

    I made my bean soup the other day when it was cold here. Of course it was no where as cold as you all were. It was so yummy, I made corn bread as well.

    As to Iris I know what you all are going through and how much she will be missed. I lost my boy wonderful Rusty who was almost 13 on Easter this year and my sweet girl Mia two years ago on the 6th of January. Just when thing were getting easier after loosing Mia, they never will be easy to think of them, I lost Rusty. I’d raised him from a baby. I had never lived in this house without him, he was 4 months old when we moved in. Mia was a rescue that we were only blessed to have for a year and nine months. They both gave me much pleasure and companionship and loads of love. I hope they felt the same about me. I loved seeing pics of Iris, she was a beautiful lady and will be missed too. Hugs to all. *S*

  19. Mary Lou Cummings says:

    Hello Susan!

    Hey, things like this are bound to happen “in print” every now and then. However, what an ingenious repair technique! Have been making a soup similar to your bean soup for years now, a recipe from my German grandmother, but she used brown lentils, instead. Can’t believe you will be coming to Southbury in June to speak at the Friends of Gladys Taber
    Reunion. I grew up in Danbury, Ct- just a short distance from that once sleepy “cow town.”
    Just enrolled in the society and am so excited that I will be able to see and hear you speak- and learn more about Gladys and her incredible philosophy on life. Must bring the camera,

    • sbranch says:

      No I can’t believe it, I’m so excited to be there. I love Connecticut in the springtime! See you there Mary Lou!

      • They’ve given us 3 options for attending the Reunion. Since I don’t want to lose a moment of being there when you are can you tell us if you will be there for the whole time or just on Saturday?

        • sbranch says:

          I’m not sure — we get there on Friday afternoon, but I don’t know what I do next, will have to find out if they want me for something. Definitely Saturday.

  20. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Oh my, I did it again! Yup, absolutely, positively LOVE THIS BLOG and all the comments so of course, I had to jump in and add my comment (it was very touching, funny, heartfelt, really was one of my best works), & forgot to “Post Comment” & lost the entire cleverly written piece! Now, all my words have been used, beautifully, I might add, by all the amazing GFs & Blog Daddy. So, as we used to say when younger & loved what someone else wrote, or said – DITTO – !!!!! xoxoxoxo!!! Now to “Post Comment”!!!!

  21. Candice OHIO says:

    Dear Susan,
    I noticed on the free wallpaper, I will call it your Happy House, that is the one I downloaded for my desktop, that there is a dog sitting in front of the house at the bottom. I would guess that this is Iris? What a wonderful tribute to her sweet life. These wonderful animals remain in our hearts forever!
    Candice XO

  22. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    The comments this time are getting to me! My daughter Heidi and husband Chris had to put down their 12 year old Shepard, Stella, the week after Christmas – knew it was coming, but still so hard. I feel for all the Girlfriends going through this now. Daylight is extending and new life will Spring. In the mean time make soup for the soul. Talking to myself . . .

  23. GF Michele says:

    I am so SO sorry to hear about Iris. She will be with you (and her parents) always! It’s why I have not became a doggy Mommy yet…I know what the loss will be for me. Someday The Man and I will get our “kids” 🙂

    Susan, those antique blocks you spelled “yum” with (and use often!) are they old printing blocks or toy blocks?

    Hope everyone is having a fantastic January! Can’t wait to make this soup!

    • sbranch says:

      I found those little game pieces in a basket in an antique store — YUM stays on top of the stove as inspiration 🙂 ~ I also have HOME AT LAST on a narrow little ledge above my fireplace, and SEW SUE in my sewing room. I’m not sure what game they came from, but you can often find them in antique stores.

  24. Pam says:

    Dear Susan,
    I had to chime in on this one. As a newcomer, I have been so inspired by your blog and your work, I decided to make some handmade recipes for my family. Every year I make my sister her infamous cookies. They take me 3 days. I have not met anyone who doesn’t fall madly in love with them. I decided to illustrate and frame the recipe for my sister so she could have it around on the holidays. I was so pleased with the result and was so excited to present it to her. She unwrapped it and was truly touched. L
    Later that day my brother in law texted me a close up of the title and a hilarious comment.
    It is called a “buttercream” sandwich cookie. I had accidentally written “buttcream” (insert cringe here). His comment was something to the effect of ‘
    What are you feeding us…..?’
    Thank goodness my family has an excellent sense of humor and the now infamous cookie is even more infamous:)
    Just adore your blog!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      What a perfect family story, hilarious! And such a wonderful gift for your sister, made even more so with your “mistake!” Thank you Pam! Too cute!

  25. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, Your bean soup in the picture looks alot like my split pea soup which we love so much too. I can just smell it while looking at your soup picture. So sorry about Iris………….she did seem like such a sweet dog. I so enjoyed seeing her making herself right at home in your posts. I read your calendar when I get it and I did notice the tiny mistake but you know what………you are human and we all make mistakes and anyone who proof-read it also made the mistake……….so not to worry. It was only a tiny, tiny one and it proves you are human too! Your niece is a sweetie and that is such a nice idea. We had a cold spell here when it got down to the 20’s at night in Fl but it only last a few days so now we are back to normal. We have to cover all our “tropical” outside plants from the frost when we have a freeze which is kind of a pain. The other thing I am remembering is when its winter up north………..I have certain recipes I make like my soups, stews, etc. But down here I just can’t seem to make them unless it really gets cold and its only a few short months to do that so there are a lot of things I miss from up north but honestly, I do not miss shoveling snow at all. It sure is pretty to look at though. Enjoy your week-end! Hugs, Gail

  26. Anne says:

    What a nice little tribute to Iris….I always loved when you included her in your blog….her sweet, soulful eyes just about did me in! I’m looking at my little 18 (!) year old baby doll and know that each day is precious with her now….sniff…sniff.
    Condolences to Iris’s Mom and Dadxxoo
    Your niece is adorable…what a little character! I’m sure she’s loving reading about her young self now 🙂 Thanks as always for the cozyness Susan! As far as the calendar goes….no worries here…I probably wouldn’t even have noticed LOLxxoo

  27. Marilyn Ducote says:

    I have a picture that I want to send to you from my IPad 2. It was taken at
    Vroman’s bookstore when you were there signing books…a very good picture.
    How can I send it to you? M.

  28. Jane says:

    Hi Susan! Celebrating Everyday Life looks gorgeous! Do you know where to buy the print edition? I’ve searched the web and only see the digital option. . .

  29. Anna from Camano Island,WA says:

    Such a touching blog in regard to Iris, bless her doggie heart. You do definately make a difference, as one girlfriend commented to you, so uplifting and full of warm cozy feelings. Life has sad moments, but all in all , the different types of moments combine into a beautiful picture. I love how much you love life and how much your caring heart comes through in all you do. You make me want to strive for more goodness and beauty in my life. – So many of your ‘girlfriends’ also have a way with writing, its a little itimidating for those of us not gifted in putting pretty words on paper, but I guess there is room for all of us here.

    • sbranch says:

      Well, “not gifted in putting pretty words on paper,” would definitely not be you! That was lovely Anna, thank you so much!

  30. judy says:

    My copy of your beautiful wall calendar came today–love it, as usual. With that said, I was wondering if you could, for 2015, include each month’s flower and birthstone the way traditional calendars used to be? More work but think of the additional beauty! Thanks so much, Judy

  31. Kay - North Central Texas says:

    I have come back to your post several times now, maybe just to say goodbye to a sweet dog that I never had to pleasure to meet short of your posts. I’ve always thought God had a good day when He created dogs. Their love is one of pure joy and yet when it’s their time to go nothing hurts quiet the same. Please give your friend, Martha my condolence.

    Now to that cute little Heidi, what a face! I agree she does favor her aunt.

    Tonight we’re having your bean soup for dinner. The corn bread is in the oven and the house smells devine. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  32. Alyssa says:

    Hi there Susan!
    I know I am post 300 and something, but I want you to know how much I LOVE your Love You Tea Towel!!! It is just so awesome and reminds me of the “love you’s” my son writes. Thank you for producing this and lucky me for being able to snatch one up before they sell out! Hope all is well on island. I was over in Falmouth the other day with my girlfriends. We were shopping in the boutiques and then enjoyed some fine wine. Love your blog Susan! Keep up the fantastic spirit! It’s about time for me to take out my Susan Branch Love book and start the heart decor! Hearts to you! ;)Alyssa

  33. Crystal says:

    I’m so sorry for you and the rest of Iris’ people! The sadness of losing a furry loved one is hard but pales in comparison to the love and joy we get from sharing our lives with them.

    Now, about the calendar, I work for a small regional magazine and we’ve put a calendar out in our January issue featuring the work of local artists for the past few years. We work hard finding fun holidays (like Winnie the Pooh day next week!), picking out the colors, the layout and proofing, proofing, proofing! Last year we excitedly flipped through the calendar as soon as they came in from the printer! And…there was a little problem with April. It was missing something. Namely dates. Not a single date. On the entire month. Zip. Zilch. None. After the stunned silence wore off, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and then when did the only thing we could, we took to Facebook and declared it our own April Fool’s joke! Life goes on!

  34. Kay - North Central Texas says:

    In the spirit of July 31st I see I made a mistake in my post. We’ll all smile on that day you know. 😉

  35. Rebecca Britt says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thanks so much for the wallpaper download! I found it today as I read your blog. I am not doing well with winter darkness, rain and wind. Your wallpaper now shines bright on my computer and reminds me to take pleasure in the little things inside my home, turn on my SAD light (:-) and wait for the coming of sunshine and spring. Thanks again for being a blessing!

    • sbranch says:

      I used to suffer from light deprivation in the winter and tried lots of things to fix it, including the light — but one thing totally worked forever and ever, it’s vitamin D that you can get at the supermarket. I take 1000 iu’s a day and I’m cured! Try it. And thank you Rebecca!

  36. Gail Marie says:

    I love you! It is a hoot and a half about the calendar. Xoxox

  37. Elizabeth in Montana says:

    Loved this post, so sorry for Iris’s “people”. We used to be a family of me, hubby, mom, 2 Husky/Malamute girls, 2 boy cats and 2 girl cats…but last Monday night, my hubby indulged me and we brought home another cat from the shelter! He is a long-haired black boy with some white, and huge eyes. Our Maine Coon seems to like him, but the other cats are hissing and he’s bopped both dogs on the nose (drew blood with Skye!) He was a stray and though they contacted his owner(he has a chip), he was never claimed. Now he is ours, and his name is Benji, short for Benjamin. Hubby says this is absolutely the last one. He’s said that before…. 🙂 Also, the “crazy lady” running back and forth made me giggle uncontrollably…I feel like that a lot of the time!

  38. Jill S says:

    Hello Susan,
    I check your blog everyday. It is such a happy place! I have always loved your work. When I was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, I re-read all of your cookbooks again, it was such a nice escape! Thank you for showing us the simple things in life!!
    I see that you have been working on the 2015 calendar and am wondering if you have ever considered doing an agenda like calendar. The wall calendar is always wonderful but I tend to carry an agenda (think school spiral notebook type) with me and while your wallet calendar is also great (I have that one too) it is too small for all the things I need to keep track of. And as nice as the Days book is, it is too big/heavy to carry in my purse! Thanks

    • sbranch says:

      I know what you mean, but time is the problem!

    • Jill S says:

      My sister in law has pointed out my error. I now see that you have a new Days book, ( I was referring to the older Days book that was thicker) and I see from the pictures that this might be what I am looking for. I am wondering if you know the size? I didn’t see anything on the page that gave the size, but then again, I didn’t notice the new book either!! 🙂 Thanks.

  39. Lynn Cunningham says:

    Thank you so much for letting us know about Iris……I loved her sweet, friendly face. I agree with your young friend ~ and with Will Rogers: where she is now, she’s the youngest one, and that’s exactly where I want to be, too. I smile through your blog ~ loving every minute of it, but I have to tell you that you made me laugh out loud, putting the tiny figure running about with it’s hair on fire on after sharing the news about the calendar’s “oops”. So funny! I’ll wait until I am where Iris is before I expect perfection ~ one missed day on a calendar just makes for an interesting story. I appreciate your sense of humor and whimsy SO MUCH! Thanks again!

  40. Debby says:

    So sorry about Iris. Please draw her on the 2015 calendar. We lost our little Yorkie, The Baby, Dec 5. He came to us from Yorkie Haven Rescue and was the love of our lives. It’s always so hard to give them up.

  41. Kay Bennett says:

    Hi Susan,
    I love it when you talk about and show your affection for your animal friends. They are so special in our lives. The loss of one, even if not your own, is so sad.
    Just a note about your visit with Beatrice Potter’s ” people.” What a perfect day for you and I’m sure they will really enjoy your hospitality and Peter’s room.
    As I read your blog, I am in the process of preparing a trip to Near Sawrey again in September and will be staying in the Sawrey House Hotel next to Beatrice’s home. What a dream come true. Enjoyed even more by reading your blogs. Thank you! Stay warm inside.

  42. Karen Stefanelli says:

    Dear Susan,
    What a tender, loving tribute to sweet Iris. So sad. The pictures tell a wonderful story of many precious moments shared with such a sweet little friend. Your soup brings back so many southern Mom always made this soup when we were growing up and still does. It is delicious..she always makes skillet corn bread , cut pie shape with hot melting butter. So good. I am with you girlfriend… after reading this I am going to make a pot myself! Stay warm!

  43. Kathy Thompson (in Rialto CA) says:

    Hello Susan. It’s been a busy few weeks. Just getting caught up with your posts. I was saddened to learn about Iris. I am such a dog lover, and she was a sweetie. I believe that when I go to heaven someday that every dog that ever loved me will be there waiting for me…with their new friend Iris.

  44. Lisa Nelson- Jones East Tn says:

    Well, I’m sitting here broken hearted and crying like a baby… I can’t believe Iris is gone. It just so happens that today I cleaned out my “baby’s” book- my dog Honey that passed 5 years ago at age 15. I couldn’t bring myself to do it before now, and today I did. Then I see Iris passed- too much for my heart today- it overflowed out my eyeballs. I’m so sorry for her loss but I think the little girl summed it up: she’s the youngest there and happy and free. I’m sobbing terribly, I’m glad you all can’t hear me. Oh goodness. Condolences to her mom and dad.

  45. Jill says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’m so sorry to hear about Iris. What a beauty of a girl.

    I love the little glimpse of your favorite shawl. That yarn looks like some I have in my stash right now. This might be asking for the impossible, but why not? I was wondering about the pattern? Or a larger picture of it so I could try my hand at figuring it out. I have been on a search for a lovely shawl for years and am still searching.

    Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      It was a gift so I don’t have the pattern. It seems simple, a consistent stitch all the way through, it’s about 20″ wide, and when I’m standing the 7″ fringe comes to my knees — I’m wearing it now, so I just did a quick measure. You can really wrap up in it, but it’s also the soft coziness of the yarn — I love the color too. I think it’s pretty straightforward … just look for the coziest yarn in your most favorite color and cast on 20″ inches of stitches.

  46. Jackie P says:

    It’s snowing again here in southern NH and your Bean Soup called out to me (I could almost smell it). I’ll be preparing it as soon as I finish here. Loved seeing the “Petey” s&p. Reminds me of our visit at the book signing. Have a good afternoon!

  47. Irene Santillanes says:

    Dear Friend….”I love to call you friend and pretend that we have been the most dearest and closest of friends for years, instead of what we really are, complete strangers”. However, anyone who knows you by your lovely books and precious blogs can never be a stranger…
    I just received your latest book (why did I wait so long) and when I opened it up, I was so surprised at how beautiful it is and I felt so honored that you had actually written it all out in your lovely handwriting, although I don’t know why I should be surprised. Honored because I felt like it was a handwritten letter to me.
    Thank you for sharing yourself with us, once again.
    Irene (from sunny Santa Barbara) xxoo

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