Welcome to My World

Not to scare you or anything. . . but my world is always a year ahead of everyone elses.  People say, How come you don’t know what year it is?  This is the reason!   (MUSICA?)


That’s one of the bits of art I’ve been making these days . . . It feels so funny to be in 2015 when we’ve barely tapped into 2014, but that’s just the way it is.  I’m really not even done yet with 2013 and I’m living in months that no one has even dreamed of yet!  It’s May 2015 and I ‘m planting my garden!



 I’ve been getting up at my normal almost-middle of the night time ~ very early, like around 4 am, having the house all to myself (and my kitties with Joe still asleep), painting my little heart out, working on next year’s calendars, dipping my brush into water then into the colors and onto the paper (trying not to take a bit of IMG_3062cat hair with me because then of course I would have to charge extra).  Moon shimmers through the wavy glass of studio window, furnace hums with white noise, head buzzes with thought, clock on the fireplace mantel echoes with ticking right through the quiet, and me hovering over a clean white page: what shall I write?  What can I give them?  Which recipe shall I use? What subjects shall be explored?  Being “consciously creative” ~ and then thinking, oh!  That sounds like a good subject for the March page . . .

art for 2015

and so it is . . . and thinking maybe a lamb for April?

Lambie Pie Cuddle Bunch

Oh, how fun, let’s let Lambie Pie Cuddle Bunch from A FINE ROMANCE do some 2015 spring cleaning in . . .


for us. 

My world is very small these days, after all we live on an island and it is winter and I am working.  Since I have introvert tendencies, especially when I work, I am beside myself with silent joy.  I’m one of those people wishing winter could go on a little longer, regretting the sunset each night because of it.  The quiet is my refuge and I don’t particularly love it to be disturbed.  Come on snow storm, you do not scare me, I revel in your muffled tones.


mmmm winter

Of course, there is a big storm coming.  6″ to 10″ and -20 wind chill.  I may regret my uppityness.

birds in the snow Joe is a quiet person too, he would not love a yakking woman around him at all times, so he is lucky, because I am definitely not yakking, he can make his fires in quiet, hear his oak and pine logs crackling, the crinkling of his New York Times, the clicking keys on his computer.  We wake ourselves up by taking freezing-cold, wind-my diaryblasted walks to the water, going to the movies, out to dinner, but mostly, my world could fit inside a pan of watercolors.  It’s like when I was a child and I laid on my lumpy white chenille bedspread in my room and watched the leaf shadows play on the walls and day-dreamed for very long periods of time.  I write in my diary every night before bed, just random thoughts, plan my next page of art, and time my life around Downton Abbey and 4 pm tea.  It’s a good life. 

watercolors for 2015

And speaking of spring cleaning (remember Lambie Pie?), I have begun.  Slowly.  Starting two days ago, I have a new rule.  In my pantry there is a tall narrow set of shelves, just deep enough for a can of soup or a bottle of olive oil, but lots of shelves, maybe twelve, and each is about 4 feet long (and about 3″ deep).  There are things on there dated 2006.  Honestly.  Cute packaging sometimes gets to stay on the shelves longer than it should (excuses come so easily!).  It’s been bothering me.  My new rule, starting at the top, I’m doing one shelf a day ~ remove everything on it, check the date, if it’s no good, it gets thrown out.  Today is shelf #3.  My other rule, as you know, is start slow and taper off.

slow downDon’t we know it.

Joe and Dave

We were just back from our walk yesterday, stopping to visit with our friend Dave Maddox who’s house is at the entrance to our favorite dirt road in the world.  While he and Joe shot the breeze, I ran into this group of waddling guinea hens who were also out for a walk . . .

You can see I have not perfected my guinea hen call yet!  Nummy-nummy-nummy?  What is that.  Here, chicka-chicka-chicka?  Showing off my expertise in barnyard techniques. What do they answer to?  One of you must know.  Pat?  This was my first up-close and personal with this noisy type of part road-runner-part partridge bird ~ but I did know they mate for life.  You can tell, this was a family.  They also eat ants, spiders and ticks!  And, as you could see, they always knew where they were going.

That’s because they trust their instincts.  Not always as easy for us.  I used to worry myself silly when I couldn’t seem to find my path ~ it was very frustrating, and still is sometimes, until I get my bearings. Now I try to trust my instincts and . . .


And that’s all for today Girlfriends, time for my purpose under heaven these days and back to work I go.  Hope your winter is bringing you your own favorite kind of fulfillment.  If not, there sure are a lot of wonderful books out there . . . and so much inspiration lies between the covers.  Have you read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon?  2,419 five-star reviews can’t be wrong!  You will love it and I’m sure your local bookstore will have it in stock.   And, BTW, I ordered us a new batch of Girlfriends Charms.  It will take a couple of months to make them, but for all of you asking, they are coming!  And as soon as I get my calendars done, I’m going to write you a new Willard!  XOXO  Byeee for now, love you, me.

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666 Responses to Welcome to My World

  1. Diana - Highland, IL says:

    LOVE this post, as all your posts!.. I am definitely a cool/cold weather girl! and a loving the change of seasons girl!… I sometimes get a little tired of people complaining about the cold and snow, etc., because to me, it is a beautiful season and each season brings such gifts… I am also an introvert, but have had to learn to be a little more social for work, and with hubby’s work and extra-curricular activities…. but what I really want to do is be in my cozy house, cooking, crocheting, sewing, playing the piano, reading and listening to music….I am not a morning person, but it works out because my hubs is and on our days off, he gets up early to have his alone time and by the time I get up, it is time for brunch, which if I am lucky, he cooks!! I find solace in the nighttime and love to get inspired and work on projects then… My walks have been confined to inside as we are having minus too many degrees to expose skin lately, but I love walking in the cold.. the cold air invigorates me!… Thanks for taking me on a walk and for giving us so much to think about and learn about! Enjoy your “cozy” time.. mmmm brownies for dinner!! I’m having creamy chicken and wild rice soup with yeast rolls.. YUM!! Take care and to all the Girlfriends, stay warm/cozy wherever you are! 🙂

  2. Jody says:

    I like your description of the early morning quiet. Wishing you happy moments of creative painting.

  3. Hi Susan, another total introvert here… bliss is staying home and quietly puttering in my studio and book-room for days on end. I love the word-picture you painted of your world in a pan of watercolors – so beautiful.

    I tore through the “Outlander” series last year and then read her other novels about John Grey. I might have to read them all again. Soon. But right now I’m in the middle of “Mark Twain’s Letters” and I have to tell you, if you’ve never read them, especially the letters he wrote to his future wife during their courtship, well… in a word, WOW.

  4. Gini says:

    Susan, I’m one who revels in quiet too. I love your phrase about “silent joy.” I know that silent joy while spending a day in my sewing room, quilting, doing embroidery, needlepoint. I relish those quiet hours. Cheers!

  5. Kristin F says:

    Hi Susan,

    Loving your posts as always, they just make me feel cozy and happy. My mom and I so enjoyed meeting you in SLO in November and all the women in our family truly enjoyed receiving “A Fine Romance” for Christmas, with your heartfelt signature.

    The book has inspired me to plan our next European trip in 2015 to England and my husband (a first generation American Italian) can’t wait. That is the power of your lovely tale, diary, and adventure through England. I am exploring all your favorites as I plan my itinerary. And becoming quite obsessed with Downton Abbey.

    Mom wants me to remind you that we all (I am sure all your girlfriends) would love to hear the book on Audio — your voice is so beautiful, we know it will be a best seller.

    Thank you for all the beauty and love you bring into our world.


    • sbranch says:

      I’d really like to do that, must try to organize it and find out how. Please say hello to your Mom! So happy for your upcoming trip!

      • Kirsten from So. Cal. says:

        I agree with Kristin’s mom! Audio book! I would buy it in a second if it was your voice. There’s nothing better than hearing it from you. After hearing you several times in person at readings, I feel I have an advantage over people who haven’t had the pleasure. Not that your personality doesn’t come through in your incredible writing!! I just loved the way you told your love beginnings with Joe (in Pasedena this year). So much fun. You are such a pleasure!

  6. awomanwhois says:

    Middle of the night and just finished your chapter on Hill Top where you grabbed a couple of posies and shed a few tears for your last look around. I just had to find your blog and let you know I am so enjoying your book. Savoring it like every episode of Downton Abby. I had a similar emotional experience when I left Sissinghurst several years ago, not expecting to ever see those special gardens again. There was even a wooden door in a stone wall, but didn’t think to snitch a flower. Wonderful book! I am so glad I got this treasure for Christmas and I am reading it very sloooowly.

    • sbranch says:

      How nice of you to tell me — love talking about it — allows me be there along with you — Beatrix Potter’s garden and Sissinghurst, wooden doors in stone walls … ♥.

  7. Christine D says:

    It is fun just to sit and create by ones self isn’t it! I totally agree love the hens I never have seen them. We have had 2 snow days and a blizzard today later lots of time to create! Maybe I’ll start my valentines!

  8. Lacy Joy says:

    Hello, Ms. Susan
    I hope you’re staying warm and snuggly today.
    I came across this blog today, and felt that you must know about it, and if you don’t already, then you need to take a look! It is written by a charming American lady who lives in England now, and she is an expert on TEA! It’s the cutest thing. She’s a tea recognized tea historian! I stumbled upon her blog this morning and it just immediately made me think of you! Here’s a link.
    Enjoy! teainengland.com

  9. Mary Eva Ross says:

    I spend my childhood on a farm. I would wake up at night thinking about the swing out front. I would just swing and sing to the guinea hens, I thought they were singing with me, of course they were better than any watch dog and my Mom or Dad would come and bring me back inside. Can’t believe I was not scared of the dark. p.s. I wake up talking, I JUST CAN’T HELP MYSELF! I’ve got alot to say 😉

  10. Kirsten from So. Cal. says:

    It is so funny that you mention Outlander in you blog. My friend April gave me this book (it must be years ago now) signed by the author. Every time we speak she asks me if I’ve read it yet. She’s very enthusiastic about it because she’s read all the series of books. I think it’s going to be made into a TV series next. Anyway, I got her your latest (signed to her of course). I’ve been bugging her to start following your blog. I just had to call her to tell her that you just MUST be kindred spirits now!! She also shares the same birthday with you.
    We both laughed and she agreed to follow you and I will read my copy of Outlander.

  11. Caroline Delao says:

    Here is one more introvert, glory to the introverts the thinkers the creaters!!!!!

    Loved the little guinea family, do not think I have seen those before. I love the out doors and creatures. They are so cute. Very lucky you are to live in such a beautiful place. also love your cardinals outdise the window.

    • sbranch says:

      I still can hardly believe the cardinals are real! Lately we’ve had quite a few of them … like ten at a time, and they are so gorgeous in the snow.

  12. Kirsten from So. Cal. says:

    Uh oh. It’s me again! I forgot to say how happy I am that you are ordering more girlfriends’ charms!! Thank you.

  13. audrey Bell, Labarque Creek, Missouri says:

    What a great post!
    I too, love winter! White and chilly and blustery out there. Snug and warm and cozy in here. Couch piled with quilts, tray set with tea, stack of magazines beside me and an old movie on the TV. Life is good!
    I am so very glad to hear there will be more Girlfriends Charms. I was sad to think I had missed them.
    I think my personal circle of girlfriends will be making a trip to Martha’s Vinyard this coming summer and what a wonderful “sussie” they will make.
    What is a “sussie,” you ask? It is a sweet little something that friends give each other as a special remembrance!

  14. Susan P. says:

    Susan, Another great blog and I sat down read it all and even most of the comments…BBRRRR I had to run to my neighbor just 2 doors down…I grabbed my jacket and ran out the door….BAM OOOPPPPSS I FORGOT I LIVE IN CALIFORNIA….I WAS SO INTO THE BLOG I HAD A CHILL … AND WISHING SO HARD THAT I COULD HAVE A FIRE…BUT NO IT IS STILL 69 DEGREES OUTSIDE…My husband was laughing at me and waiting for me to hand my jacket to him,(I didn’t want the neighbors to think I was crazy) Had a good laugh.
    Another good laugh we had (my husband remind me of it) was when we saw you in San Luis Obispo this last Nov. at the book signing. I wore my “Girlfriend” Badge so proudly. After seeing you we went back to our hotel…another car pulled up right before us..So I let the man get out first as I gathered my books and camera up. As I got out I heard him say to my husband at the back of the car…”Well at least you are honest about it..letting everyone know that she is just your “Girlfriend” LOL Did not realize I still had my badge on. A Good Laugh!
    Have a great weekend and thank you for all that you do and give to us your “Girlfriends” Love, Susan P. the soap box lady

    • sbranch says:

      Wow, that guy was paying too close attention! 🙂 How funny — that’s what I love about Californian’s — always ready for the passing joke, in the supermarket, anywhere, little side of the mouth comments.

  15. Denise Flaherty says:

    Just love you! I have all of your cookbooks, first started “reading” them back in 1992. That’s what I do with your books, I sit on the coach and flip the pages like I’m reading a novel. Have made sooo many of your recipes over the years, and the big favorites are your apple crisp from pg. 121 in Heart of the Home (my daughter’s favorite since she was 5, and she now makes it herself (she’s 20 now and going to college in NYC), knows the recipe by heart, and it’s a fall ritual with us. I’ve made the blueberry sauce from your summer book at least 100 times, and also love the Tomatoes Chevre. Have done your scary John Brown Halloween story with my daughter and my son and their friends when they younger, and still have a bit of tomato sauce on one of my living room curtains from the squishy brains! I’ve made your yummy christmas cookies- in fact, one year when the kids were small, we were all sick with the stomach bug after we had made, and eaten, many of your Christmas wreath cookies (we weren’t sick because of the cookies of course, but you can imagine the ungodly sight made with all that green food coloring!) The one tradition that I have repeated year after year and truly love the best is your grandma’s stuffing- every Thanksgiving I make big pans of it and everyone loves it because it is like no other stuffing recipe! Just getting into your blogs recently and I love them and look forward to them- you do a great service and really help me to slow down and smell the roses, or the fire, or watch the birds,or listen to musica, and I need a lot of help with this as I work full time,
    finishing grad school and have 2 kids who are now young adults and busier than ever. So thank you so much for what you do-I greatly appreciate it!

    • sbranch says:

      When I wrote my first book, I was thinking a lot about my mom and my three little sisters who were just in their early 20’s at the time. It was a way to “get into their kitchens” and help them find the many gifts I’d found there. You have no idea how happy it makes me to think that “I” was in your kitchen too … having fun with your family without even knowing it!! Thank you for taking the time to tell me. I’m so HAPPY you did the John Brown thing!!! I will never quite get over how fun that was, all that good screaming!

  16. Carla TePaske says:

    Hello Susan,
    I appreciated your post today. I am an introvert too and so is my husband.
    I loved your last part of the blog post regarding Mark Twain…very good advice.
    xx oo

  17. Julia says:

    Where oh where is our sweet blog dad?
    I know you know something about guinea
    chickens or regular chickens or things that
    eat chickens or something. Hope you are

    • Jack says:

      Well I’m right here ! It was cold this AM –clear down to 44* when I got up at
      5:30 , but it seems dawn is starting to arrive a little sooner now …..and it won’t be long before the urge for planting stuff will be here .
      As for Guinea Fowl — they come in about 15 different colors ranging from white to black with combination of brown thrown in — the males are called “Cocks” and they make a one note call , while the hens normal call is two syllable . Cocks have a much larger head formation …..both , don’t like any disturbance and will set up a screeching if bothered …..good security from man and beast …….the meat is pretty gamey and like venison is much less strong if soaked in milk for several hours before cooking …. Their eggs are half sized compared to chickens and really not worth the effort also the shell is much harder to crack open . They are good bug hunters and compete for every tasty morsel they can find . Oh yeah ,they can fly like a bird and
      do , if chased …….

      • Julia says:

        I love it!!!!!!!! Clear down to 44!!!! You poor thing!!!!!!!
        Now we all know a lot about guinea chickens. I didn’t
        know that they could really fly and of course the
        women talk more. I ordered some things from the
        county extension and will plant them this week.
        I got 2 crab apples (because of Susan) pear tree,
        fig tree and a couple of dogwoods. I need them
        after taking down 54 pines in my yard. Pines can
        be scary during hurricane season. You made my day.
        It’s just plain wonderful having our very own blog dad.

      • judi says:

        Thanks for the info….been missing you too! Was in the 40’s here yesterday too, welll maybe the low 50’s:) in the morn. xoxo

      • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

        Jack, when we make liver and onions (with bacon, of course), we always soak the liver in milk while we cook the onions until they are translucent…now I know why it tastes so good! 🙂

  18. Susan Roubal says:

    I love when I find your column at the top of my email list, and how your day starts with productivity in the quiet. The Guinea hens were fun to watch…but what do they call the male “Guinea hens”? I’ve never actually heard a reference to Guinea roosters, but suppose that’s it!

    We have the big snow here in the U.P. of MI! There is at least a foot or more out there and I have to get some food out to the birds and out back to the deer. After fortification with a cup of coffee I’m going out in jammies, snow pants and a warm jacket–it’s 6 degrees!

    I think you will love the “Outlander” series-its positively addicting. I loved it so much! “Dragonfly in Amber”, the next in the series is every bit as good or better. I may need to re-read them all!

    Thanks for a lovely start to the day.
    Susan in the U.P.

    • sbranch says:

      I read Dragonfly too … and I’m with you, I think I need to start in again! We’re still buried here too…can’t thaw out until we get ourselves above freezing! Have a wonderful day Susan.

  19. Frances Fowler says:

    As I approached my latter forties and now in my early fifties, I discovered the true joys of an early bed time and an early arising, although I haven’t mastered anything past 4:45 — yet. When I get off it, for whatever reason, I feel headachy and dull. But…I just couldn’t put down my bowl of popcorn and second viewing of the new episode of Sherlock! Downton has to be watched the following day On Demand if I’m going to bed at 9:30, particularly if I don’t have their staff to do my evening housework and cooking. Begone, Edna — you vixen!

    I’m sure all of us who follow your blog are so grateful at how excited you are about creating your next calendar, because we are thrilled to get them! Each month is like opening a new gift of warmth, inspiration, and the love for all things cosy. With tea 🙂

    I would love your snow. In the southeast, we have gotten lots of cold without the decency of snow. Even the nearby Blue Ridge elevations have gotten little in the way of snow. Late winter is always a little depressing because I love the crisp air, twinkling stars, and bare branches that decorate the orange sunrises. I would rather just wake up one day to spring in full bloom, and bypass the awful pollen showers that coat everything overnight in a horrid yellow-green dust for about three weeks in April. It is useless to do any deep exterior or interior spring cleaning until this wretched phase is over. Lambie Pie Cuddle Bunch is THE symbol for spring cleaning; such an inspiration with her little gloves and pinafore! So thank you for sharing your beautiful wintery snow, and enjoy your cold early morning walks, and hum of the heater at 4:00 in the morning while your artist’s mind flows with creativity, regardless of it’s point in the process. What bliss! Maybe your weather team could redirect just a little snow our way. We would be thrilled with just a few inches!

    • sbranch says:

      I will send them out immediately! xoxo

      • Julia says:

        Frances, be careful what you wish for! We are
        supposed to have SNOW on the coast by Wed.
        morning. I’m very excited but they have already
        mentioned power outages. I’m getting all of the
        quilts at the ready!

  20. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    Have you seen the new Emma Rose and Bee pattern? It is adorable. Any chance of having it in you store? Thanks to you, I love my Emma mugs, but there is always just one more that I need!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it’s on the way! So cute Rosannne!

      • Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

        Oh thank you, SB! That’s wonderful news! Should have known you would have the good taste to choose that pattern. I thought I remembered seeing those rose mugs in the background when you visited the Emma factory, and even then thought – mine, mine, mine! LOL

  21. I’m also a complete introvert. (Something my family just cannot understand. If I possessed the talents you have, I’d be on cloud nine since creativity does tend to be a kindred spirit to introversion. It’s t-o-u-g-h having to blend in with extroverts everyday).

    I also love Downton Abbey, and don’t get me started on the Outlander series. I LOVE Jamie!


    • sbranch says:

      It is tough. But what a relief when you find out what the “problem” is.

      Jamie. Please! I’m almost afraid of the new series, because I think I did probably the best job ever having Jamie in my imagination…how can they possibly match it?!

  22. Karen Williams says:

    Hi Susan! Loved the blog as usual…makes me want to come and visit! Seeing the hens on your video reminded me of the ones that were in the field in front of my Mum’s house in Anglesey, north Wales…we used to call them ‘go backs’ because of the sound they made! If you listen again to your video clip…you might hear it!
    Down here in wintry Cambridgeshire, we are in drizzly wet and wind…no snow, but each day I walk my lovely dog Toby, we look out for creatures and birds…and for the last two days we have been fortunate to see two kingfishers! I adore them and their bright plumage and think how lucky I am to see this wondrous sight so often. Like your beautiful cardinals, the kingfishers brighten even the dullest day!
    Wishing you and all the girlfriends around the globe a wonderful, cosy day!
    Karen x

    • sbranch says:

      Like the wood pigeons saying “My toe huts Bet-tee!” You are so lucky Karen, in more ways than one. My girlfriend Rachel in Buckinghamshire says her snow drops are up!

      • Karen Williams says:

        Snowdrops and winter aconites are in bloom…yes I am lucky! Sunny day today and tippy-toeing through flooded paths…watching several herons and the wonderful song thrush singing to me and Toby! Then home to crochet and snugly warm fire, hot chocolate and my family! Happy days indeed!
        Karen x

  23. Amy says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’ve spent the last few weeks re-reading your blogs from the beginning. I must admit when I finished the most recent post I had tears in my eyes because that was the end (for the moment!!). I was savoring every word and photo. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing with all of us! I’ve been a fan since I found your first book shortly after it was published and the Country Living days. Wonderful!! Loving my new calendars!! I have all of your books. In fact I need to go clean my kitchen and I want to put them all together in a stack as I’ve seen you do. It was so cute!! Keep up the inspiring work! God bless you!!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Amy … I’m glad you enjoyed it! Stay tuned for next installments . . . We don’t know where we’re going, but I’m sure it will be fun!

  24. Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

    We’re under a blizzard warning from 9:00 a.m. this morning until midnight with no travel advised outside the Cities. My friend who lives up in the country about 45 miles north of us called and it is a total white-out there. Gusts of wind from 45-50 mph and that on top of 4-6″ of fluffy snow. Temps plummeting tonight to 23 below with windchill temps of 40-50 below. Tell me again why we live here? Seriously, we are cozy inside. I’m making stew and baked apples for supper…it is okay if one doesn’t have to go outside in it… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Stay cozy Pat!

      • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

        Will do. I’m knitting a scarf, Susan. I have some advice for you–if you really want to be a “knitter”, don’t start with a scarf because it goes on and on and on…I’ve knit socks, mittens, hats, sweaters, dog sweaters, afghans–but never a scarf before. And IF I ever finish it, I think it will be the last…it is funny but it is taking a very long time. I keep looking at it, measuring it, and I swear I think the fairies are coming out at night and “de-knitting” what I did earlier in the evening… 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          I love big thick books (the good ones), and long scarves! Then I get to enjoy and go on and on! Think of it like that. No deciding what to do next for a while!

          • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

            Funny, but I always AM thinking about what I will knit next. Not so with thick good books–those I just wish would never end… 🙂

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      ~ Cold here too! ~ I seriously think we Mid-~Westerners live here for the 7-8 months when we don’t have this yucky weather…. That and the food! ~ I just ate a bowl of steel ~ cut oatmeal with lingonberry jam on top~ not too many places have lingonberry jam! ~

      • sbranch says:

        Sounds wonderful Lynn!

      • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

        Thanks, Lynn, for reminding me about lingonberry jam on oatmeal. We’ve had it before and it is wonderful! Yes, this winter has been more of an “old-fashioned” winter here in Minnesota. I think it is setting records for cold temps. When we have “highs” of sub-zero” and wind chill factors of -20 or worse, all I feel like doing is hibernating, and we’ve wondered several times why we are living here…I hate being housebound but a person really can’t be outside long without getting frostbite so housebound it is! I’m trying to not complain but spring feels a long way away. The stores are selling bunches of tulips and daffodils but it is hard to get them home in the frigid temperatures without them freezing! Two more months… 🙂

  25. Jody says:

    I am downton and Sherlock ready…..hot and spicy chili on a a cold Illinois day and I cannot wait for Sunday nights…..stay warm….

  26. Joan says:

    would LOVE Lambie Pie Cuddle Bunch as computer “wallpaper” – any chance your c gurus could do this? Thanks!

  27. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Happy Monday Mornin’ GFs! Just readin’ over the comments, & I vote YES on an audio book by you dear sweet Susan! I’d love to be runnin’ errands, travelin’ to and fro anywhere, and sittin’ in my quiltin’ studio/guest room/storage facility (my husband thinks it’s scary in there!), listenin’ to your sweet voice, beautiful words & charmin’ sense of humor!!! So, count me in!!! Love, Joanie

  28. Pam K says:

    I loved this post, Miss Susan. I suppose I never thought about being a person who prefers peace and quiet, but I adore winter and all the snowy weather it offers! Being inside safe and sound as the snow or ice bears down fills me with excitement. And reading how you described your winter happiness in your house on your island, well it just makes me happy too! I love the warm, safe, cozy place you call home. I always say, I love love love the cold because I love love love to be warm! Stay safe sweet Girlfriend. PK from Dallas, TX

  29. Heather Clementson says:

    I LOVE the Outlander! All of her books are amazing! Starz is coming out with the Outlander series this summer!!! It looks amazing! They found a handsome Jamie and a beautiful Claire! I didn’t think a perfect Jamie was out there that could even compare with my imagination but I think they may have found him. I am so excited! If you go to their website there is an interview with Diana Gabaldon 🙂

  30. Bonnie Crawford says:

    Hi Sue!~~
    Loved the Lambie Pie post today! Maddie is so talented and creative, just like her mom! I sure love the lamb she made for you too….how adorable is that?? It fits right in with the Beatrix Potter figurines for sure!!
    Remember you told me you found 2 vintage sheep at the AG Antique store when you were here? Well, I found 2 yesterday, at a thrift store! I was so excited….you got me inspired to collect vintage sheep, so now I have about 8 of them. So, thank you for that!! You have a great collection yourself!!
    I hope you are surviving your freezing winter weather….Brrrr!! My pansies in the chairs are blooming like crazy, and looking beautiful! Still no rain here, and the local farmers are selling their livestock because there is no grass to graze…it’s all brown and so dry….They are predicting a little for this Thursday, so we’ll see…..
    Have a beautiful day, and stay WARM! You have had enough colds this winter!
    Love you….. xoxo Bonnie

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Bonnie … It’s either feast or famine there…some of those crazy rainstorms are scary ~ I used to wait for the river to come up and take the house away! And on the other side of the coin, drought. So nice to hear from you … Yes, Maddie is very special! So are you, btw! xoxo

  31. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Hi !
    I found this by accident…there is a Hilltop Farm in Suffield, Connecticut! hilltopfarmsuffield.org/
    From the website: “We’re Planting the Seeds. . .
    … for an educational center at Hilltop Farm where everyone benefits from the lessons of the land and its beauty.
    Grow with us as we rehabilitate structures and bring this historic farmland back into production with crops, animals, conservation areas and experiential learning opportunities.
    George M. Hendee of Indian Motocycle fame founded Hilltop Farm in Suffield, Connecticut, in 1913. Friends of the Farm at Hilltop holds a long-term lease to manage the property, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
    Explore Hilltop Farm. Discover how you can be part of its rebirth.” Well I’ll be!
    Love Carol … tra la

  32. Cynde says:

    Hi Susan, another winter lovin gal here. Seems Chicago is actually colder than Siberia lately that the town is renamed Chiberia by the locals, & being in the far west counties here it’s nothing for a -40 to -50 wind chill lately. But had a chance for the first time to visit out east in Vermont (Northfield), once in August, then October & finally got to see it in the winter just last week (got on a plane for home just hours before they shut down the Philly airport), but I’ve always had a “thing” for the New England area via merely reading about it, & after seeing a small part of it I’m ready for more. Love the quaintness, & the whole historical aspect of the east coast. My son also got chance to visit Cape Cod this past Sept. too & all he told his dad was “don’t bring mom here, she’ll want to stay, because I think “that girlfriend cookbook author” she loves ( sorry for the reference but he’s only 18…I’m surprised he remembered that much) lives near here I think.”From what I eventually found out he was in a book store & some ladies were holding your books & were all excited about going the Martha’s Vineyard to see where Susan lives….Thank you for posting the pics of your beautiful island, & he’s right…I wouldn’t want to leave… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, yes impressive for 18 year old boy, Cynde! All your reasons: “merely reading about it, & after seeing a small part of it I’m ready for more. Love the quaintness, & the whole historical aspect of the east coast” were mine exactly. I always had a pull for this place, mostly from reading … and then, it was even better than I imagined.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    I wonder why Beatrix didn’t have a lamb as one of her characters, you certainly made your Lambie so sweet. Lovely music to your post too. I certainly enjoyed reading your book and one day I hope to follow your trip around our lovely England. Thank you for a lovely blog and thank you for all your lovely pictures of your home and kitties. Stay snug, Hugs, Elizabeth from rainy England.

  34. Lisa Nelson-Jones says:

    Thank you so much for this post, Susan. It was much needed (reminder) for me. Since losing my sister (who I had been with for 30 years and had sole care of for the past 10 after moms passing), I’ve felt so hurt and lost. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way bc I need to care for my own son (who’s 4) and my husband. And I beat myself up over it. I fell into a terrible depression and am trying to dig out of the hole now. It’s a terrible feeling to feel lost. Here I am 36 years old, and am just now for the first time trying to understand who I am. I’ve always been the caretaker or caregiver or reliant one. It’s a very new thing to be free to be who you want to be- but it’s scary! My husband and I were talking last night about how I’ve always felt “different” from others my age- even as a little girl. He opened my eyes when he said it was bc I was always “old” having to do things and make decisions far past my age. I can’t tell you what it means to read about you going through some of these same issues and “finding yourself” later in life ❤️ Thank you for sharing, and being so inspirational.

    • sbranch says:

      At 36, I too was floundering, so let this be notice to you dear Lisa that there is hope for a very happy future. I’m so sorry about the loss of your sister. It’s none of my business but I do know that depression can slowly take over a person’s life without them knowing. I’ve read that if caught early, it’s much easier to overcome. Just in case, you might speak with a doctor. It’s so normal, what you are going through ~ losing your sister would be difficult enough, but you also lost part of your identity and I’m sure there’s a big empty space inside where caregiver to your sister used to live. When you feel afraid, close your eyes, take a deep breath and visualize your feet sinking roots deep into the earth like a tree. Anchoring yourself to the earth, so that the roots come from inside you all the way down and you are solid. xoxo

      • Lisa Nelson-Jones says:

        I thank you for all your advice! I will certainly do the roots exercise! You are so right about depression taking over a life- I gave it mine 🙁 I got to the point that I could not find a reason to get out of bed- a scary place to be. Thankfully, with medication, I’m healing. I know it isn’t an appropriate analogy, but I can fully understand what Red meant in Shawshank Redemption about being “an institutional man”. Whether voluntary or involuntary, it’s a hurdle to overcome- along with a displacement feeling. I often think of you when I find myself feeling too far behind or like I’m too old to start anything now- and remind myself that my favorite person in the world did this, so I can too 🙂 thank you again. You really don’t know what you mean to so many of us ❤️

        • sbranch says:

          You didn’t give it, it took it. Depression is a wily customer. You’re a brave girl … it takes guts to get help and many people just don’t … which is sad because it’s really fixable. Sometimes medication jump starts everything again and you don’t have to take it for long. You are so young! And the thirties are hard! It was like first awakening for me, and my most difficult decade … forties are so much better, and then 50’s are even better than that. Proud of you xoxo

  35. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Happy Ground Hog Day !


  36. Lynn says:

    What are the accordion-looking papers in the picture with the sheep bookmark?
    And speaking of winter and snow, we had some snow here in NC last week. I took advantage of being home-bound and had a “Crafternoon”! I made a Valentine garland with a set of hearts from a deck of cards and some pink & red fabric knots. I also made a Valentine door hanger for our front door. It was fabulous!

    • sbranch says:

      When I was painting my book (or when I paint anything) there is always a little piece of heavy paper next to my watercolors, which I use like a palette, mixing paint color, checking color, or getting extra paint off before I do the actual artwork ~ sometimes checking my ink pen or even drawing little pictures. I saved all these little daubers I used when writing A FINE ROMANCE, then cut them into bookmarks and gave them away at book signings on my cross-country tour.

      Love “Crafternoon!”

  37. Maryellen says:

    Love all your blog posts Susan and can’t wait for the next one. Finished reading A Fine Romance and must read it over and over again…it’s so beautiful.. Found a new magazine you might like because it reminds me of you and it’s from England!!! It’s called “Daphne’s Diary”. Have you seen it? It’s been around awhile, but just started being published in English and is available at Barnes & Noble in the US. Believe me, you will LOVE it too! Keep on writing Susan….we LOVE it!

  38. Jocelyn says:

    What do you write about in your diary? (Is that too personal a question?) Is it similar to what you write about here on the site? Do you write ideas for future projects? Do you write only about the positive side of life (as you do here)? I’m fascinated by what people explore in their journals and diaries.

    I’m re-reading A FINE ROMANCE right now…I love it so much! Do you have plans for another book of this nature?? Please say YES! 🙂


    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I do. And I’m itching to get to it! But I have other things on the front burner that are going to have to come first. I write about everything in my diaries. Where I went, who I saw, what they said, what they wore, what I wore, what was the color of the wallpaper, what my mom said, what my sister said, Joe, Morning Science, Christmas, booksignings, ideas, little drawings, publishing, wishing and dreams. For starters. 🙂

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