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. Norma Herrin says:

    I am so happy that Lambie will be in the next calendar. Guess what?? I just got my first Emma Bridgewater mug and I am loving my morning coffee so much more, it goes down so smoothly.

    • sbranch says:

      Better than ever, good for you. They are so wonderful … very special in this day of made in China etc.

    • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

      Norma, you have just started a lovely collection! I bought my first Emma about two years ago…it was the “old” zinnia pattern, so pretty. I really didn’t have any intention of starting a collection, but my seventh Emma arrived a few weeks ago. This one is blue splatter. I love them all! And you are so right…morning coffee really is more enjoyable in these little treasures!

    • Belinda Riffenburg says:

      So am I Norma….What a lovely birthday gift to me!!!!! There is nothing I would like more than to see Lambie on my birthday month…THANK YOU Susan!!!…….<3

  2. Pat Stansel says:

    Oh what a delight to see some of your new art !!! Looks like your settling back into your rhythm of life on Martha’s Vineyard . I also start slow & taper off—-at least I have a feeling of accomplishment getting the process started & the task isn’t overwhelming. I can’t believe you also are putting out a new Willard !!! Love you bunches !! You really do have your flow back.

    • sbranch says:

      It feels like it. Took a while!

      • I was thinking the same thing as you started talking about trusting your instincts and your creativity…that you’ve finally found your groove back on MV. An introvert needs her quiet time to recharge and it seems you’re all charged up again!

        It is snowing heavily here in Maryland and I’ve been at my computer working on a post for my blog–my creative outlet. But today it is mostly to keep me out of the kitchen where my husband is doing some renovation. He informed me he will ask for my help if he needs it……so I’ve tucked myself away in here. Your post was a welcomed interlude….maybe it will get my creative juices flowing and keep me out of trouble!

  3. Joy Manier says:

    Oh my gosh, I am still laughing like an idiot about the guinea hen video. Not so much at the video, but my reaction when I heard you calling, “nummy, nummy, nummy!” My first thought was that you were thinking that they looked delicious!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, I thought maybe they thought what they were eating was delicious, but then I realized they were probably ticks or something and the numminess sort of went away!

  4. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Good morning sweet Susan! We love you too!
    I too am an introvert and not yakky (unless I am with my girlfriends!). My husband and girls are the same way. We LOVE quiet. I especially love how the snow provides an extra layer of quiet upon the earth. I love the beauty of looking out the window at dusk with the snow on the ground, how the world turns a beautiful blue. Its magical. I don’t want to wish my life away, but I really wish I could be home all the time, cooking soup, watching the birds at the feeder, but alas I must go to work. But work is what we do to make a living, so we can enjoy the other better things in life. Have a wonderful day, playing house, “spring” cleaning those shelves.
    Downton Abbey—so glad that trouble maker Edna is gone. Hopefully for good! Mrs. Hughes is a rock! She surely put her in her place.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, very good job Mrs. Hughes!! And the snow … I was really surprised, after moving here from California, to see how quiet the snow made everything. Nothing like it in the world I came from.

      • Joy Pence from Ohio says:

        I was thinking of you today, I went home from work early with a cold, so I curled up on the sofa with a cup of your tea and watched Miis Potter and Becoming Jane. At the beginning of Miss Potter; when she is testing her paint colors, I thought that is exactly what Susan does (and I have a bookmark to prove it!). Also when she sees Hill Top for the first time my heart skipped a beat for it felt like I had been there before (and I had for I was squished in the suitcase with my other friends!) I wanted to say thank you for brightening my sick day.

        • sbranch says:

          Hope you feel better … those movies, so fun. When she swishes her brush in the water, it just kills me! I don’t know why. Love that scene.

  5. Julia says:

    I love your winter wonderland posting and the guinea hens, cute as can
    be. The only way I get to see snow is on your blog and the weather
    channel but I still love winter the best. We do have cardinals but they
    are so much prettier in the snow. I’m heading to the sewing room to
    start a new project. It’s so much more fun in winter. Your 2015
    calendar looks great. I have a new project for you to add to your
    work load! Have you thought of making a book of embroidery patterns?
    I would love to have one, especially Lambie Pie with the broom. I can
    just see it on a tea towel. If you’ve already done an embroidery book
    that I might have missed, please tell.

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t but I should! Watch this space, something tells me we will have some new snow photos for you Julia!

      • Ricki says:

        I can just see Lambie on a dishtowel. soooo cute

      • Julia says:

        See, the embroidery book would be a hit. When you
        write it, I volunteer to be your pattern tester!!!!

        • sbranch says:

          Would we want the patterns to be iron-on transfers? Or counted?

          • Julia says:

            I think the old fashioned kind that you
            can draw off with maybe a couple of
            transfers in a pocket on the back cover.
            I think Lambie Pie would be perfect on
            the cover. Of course, she’s my favorite.
            What do you think? Counted might be
            too hard for the “older” (hum hum) eye!

          • sbranch says:

            I have never liked counted cross stitch… It’s a form of torture for me. But I imagined that some others might. I grew up with the iron-on transfers and loved them. I hope I have time to do this, it would really be fun for me as I have always loved embroidery.

          • Julia says:

            Also, there is another technique that would
            be great with your type of art.

          • sbranch says:

            What is that?

          • Julia says:

            It involves crayons. You color the colored
            parts with crayon and set it using waxed
            paper and it comes out looking pastelly.
            I hope you have time to do a book also.
            It would be so much fun. I’m stitching
            dish towels for all of my friends birthdays
            this year – gearing them toward their
            personalities. I got a little behind with the
            move and all but I’m back to it now.

          • sbranch says:

            Oh I’ve seen that old fashioned thing, love it!!! What a nice thing you’re doing — not a lot of that going around these days but people love them!

          • Carrie W says:

            Oh, iron on, please:) I did so many of those as a child and loved it, particularly the simple cross-stitch. Bought the stamped transfer on a pillow case or tea towel, picked out my embroidery threads and off I went. Oh how I’d love to see that offered again.

          • sbranch says:

            Would be so fun to see updated art that way.

          • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

            Iron-on would be GREAT. Or what about your designs printed on flour sack towels to be purchased to embroider??? Most places sell embroidery thread so you wouldn’t have to mess with adding the thread and people could be creative choosing the colors they want. New product line for you, Sue!!! Every once in a while I’ve seen the reproduced iron-on designs one can purchase but it is hard to find them. I had thought of that when I saw your Lamb drawing–trying to draw one similar with a fine-tip quilting pen and then embroidering it. If you are really thinking of making something like that in the future, I’ll wait. I’m not one for “re-inventing the wheel”! LOL!

          • Karen P (Wisconsin) says:

            I would like the iron-on kind! My poor eyes can’t handle the counted cross-stitch anymore! LOL! 🙂

          • Holly says:

            I vote for iron-on transfers, that way they could be put on anything. Also, quilters might like applique patterns! If they were iron-on, a quilter who knows what she’s doing could just cut apart and make applique pattern. Very good idea Julia, well done!! Sue, we are going to keep you working well into your 90’s. I hope you’re up to it! (I guess you could hire help… but where’s the fun in that? haha)

          • sbranch says:

            I’d like that … maybe at a bit of a slower pace, but I can’t imagine not doing art anymore!

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

    That is one thing our West Coast relatives don’t “get” about living here–when you have the seasons, you have this wonderful time called Autumn with all the wonderful things about that (I won’t even get started). And then we have Winter. They see it as only snow and cold. We see it as a time to do inside things, organize our house and our lives, rest more, read more, knit more, take a deep breath, enjoy a fire in the fireplace, etc. Yes, it is cold (-25 here this morning with even lower wind chill factors due to wind) and, yes, the weatherman has predicted another 2-3″ of snow this afternoon. But the evergreens look gorgeous with that snow–like a beautiful Christmas card–and the cold temperatures keep us inside where we enjoy “catching up”. We’re doing the same thing here, Susan–going through the pantry checking “use by” dates, etc. I’m making granola this morning, running the dishwasher, while “picking up” after the long weekend. The carrot in front of my nose is weaving time this afternoon–beginning to measure threads to warp one of my looms for new woven tea towels. If we didn’t have this kind of weather, right now I’d be wanting to be outside! This is what you get when you live somewhere where there are definite “seasons”… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe introverts lean toward cold weather, requiring “going inside” and extroverts all want to move to Florida and Hawaii? I never thought of that.

      • Libby Pasztor says:

        I never thought of that either till now, but it makes sense. I’m definitely an introvert–feeling ever-so-cozy today, just staying in out of the frigid cold here north of Chicago, catching up on my ironing and watching The Paradise (DVDs from our wonderful local library). My husband’s brother and his wife, on the other hand, are both very social, extroverted folks who LOVE hot weather and take off for Florida every chance they get, and their three children are the same way—one lives in Phoenix, one in Florida and the other is still in school. My two children, on the other hand, both live in Chicago and will, I think (I hope!), remain here, four seasons and all! 🙂

      • Paulie says:

        By golly I think you are onto something here …..

      • judi says:

        NOT! We stay inside in the summer …. to hot outside:) I’m with you, generally up by 4:30 a.m. and love the morning.

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      Hey Pat,
      Since I moved to Virginia I get a lot less done inside than I did in WI. If I lived somewhere even warmer, but not AZ where my sons live, my place would be a dump. I bet folks in the SW get things done inside in Summer! LOL

      • Ricki says:

        This is true Margot. I’m in the Houston area and the heat and humidity are very high. We awake in October and go back in in June. Today we will get sleet and drizzle but normally we are in the 40s. Summer…..mercy!

  7. Jeanette says:

    Hi Susan!!!
    Thanks for this most-lovely post, as always!!! Just what I needed to soothe this frozen (-19 wind chills) and snow-blown spirit. I do love the snow, just not having to drive 20 miles in it this morning to get to work. It was drifting like mad and with 30+ mph winds consistently, it was a bit harrowing. So, my cuppa tea and you has set me back on course for the day!! Wish I was home watching it all go by…but I’m here and will make the most of it!

    I love what you shared about writing in your diary each night and laying plans for creativity! I think I need to do the same! You are beyond inspiring!!!

    The video cracked me up, simply because, I’d be the “nummy, nummy” type myself and if I videod me talking/singing/cajoling to our three white Peking ducks, it would make you laugh too! They’re in our garage again because of this frigid cold – but we need to keep our babies safe and warm! They’ve been good sports about it. Lots of fresh water helps! 🙂

    Hope your day is delightfully wonderful, splendidly enchanting with soft, white flakes blissfully floating down, warm as a fleece blankie and always filled with love and peace!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Sometimes I warn myself to NOT talk while I’m videoing, but then I forget!!! Stay warm Jeanette and drive very carefully. xoxo

      • Jeanette says:

        “One” of the things we love about you is your genuine spirit and how endearing you are. Us lovers of furry and feathered friend always understand each other. How can we not speak or sing to the animals?!?

        I certainly will drive carefully. Plan on getting home before dark so those snow drifts don’t get ahold of me! 🙂

  8. Pam says:

    What a wonderful life you have Susan, and not only that, you share it with us YIPPEE!
    I’ve been busy knitting and cross stitching these winter evenings but last night I spotted a mistake in my stitching 🙁 It took me an hour to unpick it until I got back to where I could start again. Much gloom. However, I’ve now redone it and all gloominess is gone. Plus the fact I went in to town today and bought a new jumper with one of my Christmas tokens. Much happiness!!
    Can’t wait for the Willard and the calendar looks a treat. Will have to start saving my pennies 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      LOL “Much gloom.” I’ve been there, yes, much gloom requiring patience. Worth it though. Much happiness. xoxo

  9. LynnMarie says:

    I LOVE winter when I am on the inside looking out. It is very quiet here in northern IN and very insulated and beautiful with the snow covering. It is a whopping 5 degrees here today but the sun is shining so brightly today that it makes you forget about it. We had the big snow last time with the frigid temps but I here that is your luck this time–cozy up and enjoy it! Have a grand time with shelf #3–there is no need to rush 🙂 as it will eventually all happen and you will be onto the next thing.

  10. Lorrie says:

    Good morning, Susan. It’s lunchtime in your corner of the world, while here on the west coast the sun is finally up, gulls fly across the pale blue and my little heater blows soft and warm on my feet. How delightful to read your lovely post early in the day. Creativity – I’d love to know what the rest of the calendar page says about it. Guess I’ll have to wait until 2015!

    Time for me to get going on my own day. Some sewing is in the works. A few chores. I hope to get out to photograph the creamy nodding snowdrops. Have a happy day – from one creative introvert to another.

  11. Christy says:

    I LOVE the Outlander series! I’ve listened to all six books on audiotape, and I think the next one is coming out this year. Also, STARZ Channel is producing a t.v. show of the series this is supposed to start this summer – hope it’s as good as the books! P.S. The guinea hens are hilarious!

  12. Linda T. in Maine. says:

    Good morning Susan, I love the bunny in the garden collecting the carrots. So reminds me of Easter. I know it’s only January but it is so,so cute. I have been painting walls and moving rooms all around the house to change things up a bit and also get it all done before spring comes. It’s such a cold, icey winter this year I decided to do all of this now. I just got my scrapbooking/favorite creative room done. This is the place I have done all of my creative cards, scrapbooks, sewing. Most of all, Collect All of your books , Seashells , Lighthouses, and much more. I love old linens like you do also. Can’t wait for the new 2015 calendar already. looking forward to some more new books you will be doing. Keep up the fantastic work Susan . You inspire all of us so,so much. It almost like a kid in a candy store and you can,t wait to get that next piece of candy.. That,s what it is like waiting for the next book or calendar or blog. Thanks for making life so much fun!. Stay warm.

    • sbranch says:

      What a sweet thing to say! Thank you Linda! I love your idea of moving things, changing things, a perfect winter thing to do!

  13. Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Funny, I was just thinking this morning on my way to town how dreary January and February are. It’s just brown and gray and drab. Snow would be an improvement! It’s just windy and dry…not really fit to be outside! So like you I am eyeing the pantry…..what is all that stuff in there?! And then thinking maybe I would like to wallpaper between the shelves, Something in a pretty blue. Dare I?
    Love the guineas……once thought I would like to have some, they say they don’t tear up your garden the way chickens do. But Jim said no! I can’t watch the video right now…I am in the waiting room at the hospital radiology dept. waiting for Jim to get an injection in his back. A nerve issue has reared it’s ugly head and he has been using a cane for over a month now. Hopefully this will help. Jim has always been pretty active and this is definitely slowing him down.
    Love that quiet is normal! We lead a pretty quiet life too. Since I still work, I listen to people talking all day. My ears are tired by the time I get home!
    Wow this episode of DA flew by…..and I bet we have not heard the end of Edna.
    Love you, too.
    Enjoy your storm, Chris

  14. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Delightful blog dear Susan! Laughed when the leader of the pack ran up & read the sign, everybody followed to a safer crossing! Yup, Pat must know the proper call for guineas! Way too warm here in NorCal, not good! There have been pretty days, freezing nights & c-c-cold morning walks! I like season changes, rainy days (we need water!), cold weather, & hot tea! Must hop up & do more rain dancing (itty bitty Cherokee in my blood)! Be safe, stay warm, & enjoy the beautiful white scenery! Love & xo!

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

    Hello Susan, I think your love of Winter is mainly because it is a time to snuggle, drink warm drinks (tea/hot chocolate), rejuvenate your soul, and catch up on resting and enjoying the beauty of the snow? I am also able to do all of the things I just mentioned while recouping (I’m up and doing a little more each day in spite of my aches). I’m also busy helping Angela plan their Wedding and I have looked at gowns, gorgeous flowers, venue chairs with or without sashes, guest favors, hotels for guests, and just listening when things get stressful and supporting this new journey quickly approaching (May 10th). So, this is the perfect Season to allow ourselves the time we need to clean out pantries, read a wonderful book, watch old movies, and snuggle with your “honey and furry babies”. Good Luck with your pantry and stay safe and warm with your approaching snow storm. My Grandmother had 2 guinea hens and they are also wonderful “watch” animals and will scream to warn you when anyone comes to visit!! Blessings

    • sbranch says:

      Same to you Deborah!

    • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

      The first year we were married, we lived in southeastern MN where there were bluffs and the occasional rattlesnake. A friend of mine from the local weaving group invited us out to their farm which was up a valley at the base of a bluff. She had guinea hens–bought a batch of chicks every spring which she ordered mail order and they came through the mail. She would get a call and have to go to the local post office to pick them up. As they grew up during the summer, they kept the yard and area where she had her clothesline free of snakes of any sort. At night they roosted in the trees. By Fall, most of them had become dinner for foxes, etc. I always thought if we lived in the country, I’d get a batch, too, as I HATE snakes! 🙂

      • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        That does it….I need guineas! I will tell Jim they kill snakes! 🙂

        • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

          we must have had some around here last summer, as we had zero snakes and that explains why we were overrun with mice in the barn. now if those birds also killed mice I would love to have them around. by the way did you know that chickens kill mice??? they do, they peck it to death.

          • Holly says:

            I have already been hunting for a hatchery that sell eggs. I loved having guineas when a teenager, and would love to have them now. My husband, and two grown sons watched the guinea video with me last night, and those guys just LAUGHED…. 🙂
            They thought the guineas looked so funny, waddling off into the forest, “like a tribe of little
            hobbits,” said my creative son.

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

        Well, well, well Pat aren’t you just the wealth of information (truly) telling us about the guineas and keeping snakes (YIKES) out of the yard. I was so impressed and in one swoop mention of the word “dinner” the illusion of the happy snake hunters being savagely carried off by a fox just painted a horrific scene seared into my brain forever!!! Thanks for sharing 😉 poor unexpecting guineas (circle of life) maybe they should have stayed roosted in the trees?!!

  16. Laurie Walt says:

    Hi Susan! Process…hmm, that is a good way of looking at what hubby and I are going through right now. We live in Illinois, but he had to go to Alabama last Sept. In order to keep his job, he agreed to move to Alabama. The job doesn’t feel stable, so we are waiting to make the decision to move. He is looking for work here, but to no avail! So process seems to best describe us, as in process. He comes home once in awhile, and I now call him my boyfriend:-D I try to look at it as an adventure, and keep him positive. You inspire me to look for the good, and the process is all part of the journey! P.S. the homecomings are like a long awaited holiday!

    • Laurie Walt says:


    • Laurie Walt says:

      What am I doing wrong?

      • JanE. says:

        Laurie, please be patient as Susan needs to moderate ALL of these comments before they are posted and she has other things to do besides her time on the computer.

        • JanE. says:

          …meaning she can’t always get to it ‘right away’…

          • Laurie Walt says:

            Hi JanE! I know how busy Susan is, she is so generous with her time! I also understand the whole moderation thing. I think That maybe the time distance between my post and being moderated has to do with my tablet and I will try going back to my laptop. If I post at noon and someone else posts at three, I sometimes don’t get moderated and my comment just hangs out all day:O Then I see lots of others go through that came in after me. I’m sorry if I sound relentless, but I really enjoy our chats and love to feel part of them!

          • sbranch says:

            Here’s the reason for that, Laurie. Imagine forty comments come in all at the same time. The newest ones are always the first I see, so actually the very first comment that came in is now at the bottom of forty comments. If I can only do twenty of them and then have an appointment, when I get back, those first twenty are still at the bottom, but now there are forty on top of them. I know, it’s confusing. And to make matters worse, every so often I believe a gremlin comes in and steals off with a comment! Not that often though, and sooner or later, I will get to them all. I love having you here too so don’t give up!

    • sbranch says:

      Hope it works out for you two Laurie! xoxo Blessings to you both.

  17. Ann says:

    I had to get up at 3:30 last week because I was catching an early plane to visit my son and his family in FL. Much too early for me! But I love to read about your early morning working habits. The snow is falling here in MD, husband is home from work (everything shuts down here for a little snow!) and about to make a fire. When I finish my work I will sit and watch the snow and read (Enchanted April) and dream of a villa in Italy. Loved the hen video; they are quite clever.

  18. evangeline says:

    thank you for a lovely post….I have looked every day and was hoping!! Yahoo..Yippee!!!! This is my day off and I wish I wasn’t so tired…..working extra due to sickness! That darn flu and nori virus……I too love to b inside and create in the early “cold” mornings. To have the house to myself is a wonderful treat..You have given inspiration on “spring cleaning”…will start my list today…Hope you continue to be refreshed with creativity daily, you are so appreciated..thank you …for sharing your life with with us…warm cozy blessings to you and yours…………….evangeline

  19. Annie in IL says:

    Oh, Susan, my dear, we WANT to hear you talking on the videos. I go outside to feed the birds and squirrels and I talk and talk. I try to make woodpecker sounds – sometimes he actually answers me. I don’t know what squirrel sounds are, so I just chat to them. I have often worried about my love of solitude, but if you feel the same way…..It is a high of 19 today with just a little skim of snow. Just enough to be beautiful!

    • sbranch says:

      I used to worry too…but I learned about introverts and now I know it’s as normal as extroverts. It’s a funny thing though . . . I know what you mean.

  20. Rachel Lucas says:

    Did you ever meet our Julian?? He was a rescued guinea fowl (the British name!

  21. sandy says:

    good morning Susan ~ I think that “nummy nummy nummy” made the partridge family think you were looking at them for dinner…I am blessed like you as an introvert to be self-employed. do lots of work at home, go to several clients a week, but really like that I go in, say hi, do my work and get out. love that I can work here any time of day or night, in my jammies; so comfortable, mentally and physically.

    thanks for the “process” thots. I’m working on calligraphy and want to add art work and find when I want to do something, there is this tension between wanting to get on with it, but not having it all worked out in my head yet. That seems to be the biggest part. Right now, I’m working on, in the head phase, how to represent “love is,” for a show at a local gallery. but I’m confident something will spring forth. xox sandy 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      That tension is the thing that makes it happen. It doesn’t feel that good, but it’s part of the process! Wishing you quick and fulfilling “springing forth!”

  22. Julie Marie says:

    Good morning Susan… I love yours and Joe’s quiet world… much like Jack’s and mine… just not on an island… Jack is actually very soft~spoken and more quiet than I am… but we both cherish these peaceful, quiet winter days as we wait for the Spring that is to come… like you and Joe, we take a daily Nature walk… sometimes neither one of us saying a word, just walking in silence and enjoying all of God’s beauty… thank you for sharing Mark Twain’s advice… I need to so remember that myself!… I am very impatient with “me”… what exactly is the name of that book please?… I just love Lambie Pie Cuddle Bunch!… oooh, what a darling kitchen towel she would make too!… you know, your blog posts are a very special part of my “quiet time”… I linger over them with a cup of tea… taking time to slowly read each and every word… and look closely at every photo… so I guess I DO have some patience… when it comes to things I love, like your blog… also, I write in my journal every night too, and my bookmark in it is your “Start slow and taper off” one… Jack cut the little slit in it for me with his exacto knife and it holds my page perfectly!… I also write my “to do” lists for the next day in there… and always always, “daydream” is part of my day too… thank you for sharing your beautiful world with us… and inspiring each and every one of us to create our own “island of dreams” wherever that may be… mine is in our small rural town in the country… like your island is to you, my countryside is my “heart magnet”… much love, xoxo Julie Marie PS I did not see one single kitty cat in this post?????…..

    • sbranch says:

      I read his autobiography … that’s where I garnered that information. Jack would not hold still for me! I tried. But later my girlfriend Martha came by and he made himself the center of attention and I got some good pictures, will post later. xoxo

  23. Marianne in Mo. says:

    I’m an introvert as well. My friends don’t get how I can sit and daydream, do nothing but be alone with my thoughts. I can do more “nothing” than anyone I know, and am perfectly content in it. As for the weather, we had the “polar vortex” arrival at 1:30 am, blowing all trash cans (and a jonny on the spot!) hither and yon, creating a racket that held my attention for an hour or more. Awoke late, with a bit of snow on top of a bit of ice, but I had no where to be, so blow on, winds! Getting start on Beef Stroganoff for dinner, that should keep us warmed!
    Love the idea of some embroidery designs from yourself! What a treat that would be!

  24. Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

    Beautiful artwork, beautiful words, beautiful post! I’m an early morning person too, and my husband and I are both quiet people. I always get a kick out of our two kitties when we have friends over for dinner. Once I start the process of setting the table, putting on some good music and lighting candles, they disappear… too much noise for their delicate ears. 😉 I can’t wait to have my 2015 desk blotter calendar in front of me once again. You can’t believe how much I missed it this year! The video of the waddling guinea hens made me smile from cheek to cheek! I loved listening to you talk to them, priceless! 🙂 Stay warm Susan. ♥

    • sbranch says:

      I’m designing the blotter now too … it’s going to be bigger … I think it’s 17″ by 22″ — the regular blotter size!

      • Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

        I’m giddy with anticipation! I’ll be buying one no matter what size it is. 🙂 Can’t wait! ~♥~

  25. Mary Lou says:

    Dear Susan, I am another one who doesn’t always know what year it is. I brought your 2014 calendar in September and put it with your older calendars that I keep. Yesterday , I noticed the Wolf Moon was on Jan. 26th – How could that be ? Your pocket calendar had it on Jan. 15th? Ahem.. I had rehung the 2013 calendar. Happy snow day 🙂

  26. sondra fox says:

    YOU ARE JUST SOOOOOO WONDERFUL DEAR FRIEND SUSAN! Wonderful thoughts go through your head. I understand completely when you say you have introvert tendencies. I LOVE people, but, I MUST have alone time as well. Early mornings are for people like us. Hearing the world awaken is one of my joys. Birds chirping about this & that in the early hours of the day, telling one another that I need to fill up the bird feeder, or that they have a destination in mind for their first flight of the day, & oh, I can’t forget our nearby rooster. There’s a chicken lover somewhere around here who has a rooster, with hens of course for fresh eggs. Love to hear the rooster calling out to other roosters each morning. There’s a lot of roosters around here, in my semi country neighborhood. By their calls to one another, I know where they all live, some of them far away by the faint “cock-a-doodle-do.” When house guests are here, they always hear the roosters. Sometimes I don’t notice their sounds, other days I listen for them.

    I’ve never seen those hens you took a video of. Never knew they existed. Thanks for the enlightenment. They are adorable. What gentle souls that mate for life. They know the secret of a happy existence, finding someone to love, so much that you enjoy each day of your life with them. You found your Joe, Susan. I see your happiness in everything you do. Very happy for you two. I Love your life, quiet, peaceful, nature loving souls. I know that each person on earth has one other person who was made just for them. Even bad relationships are made so that others, or the people in the relationship, can grow & learn. I’m so thankful that my husband & I had a wonderful life together, one in which we were blessed in so many ways. He was born in May of 1938, I was born in September of 1938. I always told hym that God us for one another. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

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

    good morning Susan, good morning girlfriends. I just love the winter pictures, all that beautiful snow and the birdies. hmmmm when I call the chickens its ” here chick chick chick, chick, here chick, chick. but then I don’t know about Guinea hens, I guess they are sort of like turkeys…. the video didn’t work for me, it wouldn,t play so I guess one could call them like you would call hens. I let my hubby, Ed call the turkeys, he’s good at making that gobbling sound Tom makes. the barnyard crowd is happy now that the days are swinging around and getting longer again, fives them a bit more light in which to lay their eggs, takes 14-16 hours of sunlight for a hen to produce one egg a day and 24 hours to lay it. in the winter they slack off, where we normally get 2-3 dozen or more eggs a day from our hens, ( we have about 35-40 hens and 2 roosters), we are now getting 6-10 eggs a day and when it was darker earlier in December and November we were only 2-3 eggs a day or sometimes 6-8. so they don’t like the short sunlight hours and they don’t like the cold. hope that helps you out with the Guinea hens, I wouldn’t mind adding a few to the flock, but for now I am considering leghorns this spring, i’ll place an order at our local grange for a dozen or so and see if I like them or not. they are very hardy birds, good layers and get broody easily which I want, I want nests full of lil peeping chicks this spring and summer. have a great day everyone and stay warm. hugs….. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      The peeping chicks! Wish I lived closer to you Pat!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        well come around for a visit and you can meet the hens. they all have names and they know who they are. and I can give you a dozen fresh eggs, best eggs around here in the Illinois Valley. 🙂

    • My grandmother in Mississippi used to call her chickens that way, too. One day I was working in my front yard digging up grass when our neighbor’s chickens came by. I called “chick, chick, chick” a few times and one came running up the steps from the driveway to the yard to get the grub I had for her. When I didn’t see them anymore last year I asked my neighbor about them and he said the fox got them. I considered them “my” chickens, too, and was sad to learn the news.

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        oh that’s sad, we had a varmint problem last winter with something getting into the henhouse, didn’t know if it was a coon or a possum but it killed 13 of our hens, 1 young rooster and one of our ducks. this year things are quiet so I hope its gone elsewhere. I always call chick chick, chick and they come running to get their treat.

    • judi says:

      Pat, I love your country lore:)

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        Judi a lot of that country lore I learned from spending my summers on my grandma’s farm in Minnesota. just watched and learned, and 9 times out of 10 she was always right. who do you I call for help when I have a problem with my hens?? I call grandma and my dad at the farm. they are all for me trying out some leghorns in the flock this year, so I’m getting my order in early so I get the first batch when they arrive at the grange. can’t wait to have all those fuzzy lil peeps around again. I love peep season. 🙂

  28. Gill says:

    I just finished a marathon read of the whole Outlanders series to date! Loved it! So much history. We are snuggling in at home too, lots of snow and a cold wind. I have some crochet to do and have finally gone through my freezers and defrosted them, and set them in order. Now I know what is in there again and only need to shop for fresh milk and bread for a long while! Oh joy! Nothing much to watch here however as both Downton and Sherlock are finished….no…I won’t even hint 😉 Stay cosy and safe.

  29. TJ in VA says:

    Hi Susan.

    I, too, am working at home today and enjoying the softly falling snow…it doesn’t seem quite worthy of the “snowstorm” forecast but time will tell. Anyway…you might want to consider adding the Disney movie “Frozen” to your list. It’s a darling story and the music is beautiful…so much so that I purchased the CD and have listened to it almost daily driving my granddaughter to school. We’re anxiously awaiting the “Frozen” DVD release in March 2014 (not 2015…LOL).
    Enjoy the snow coming your way to enhance the creative process!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m with you, I peer out my studio window into the dark, yes it’s snowing and yes the roads are covered over the curbs, but this is not what I would call a BLIZZARD. Maybe, I probably am missing something because it’s still so dark. Frozen is on my list, I just need it to come here — or maybe I need to get it another way. I keep hearing its adorable. I didn’t used to be a cartoon person but FINDING NEMO changed that for me forever.

  30. Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

    Susan, thank you so much for reminding us about what an important part the ‘waiting’ period plays in the ‘process.’ It truly is the ‘foundation of creativity.’ Your words (and those of Mark Twain) are so encouraging. ♡ It all makes perfect sense! Stay warm and cozy on these quiet, wintery days! Happy painting!
    Warm hugs,

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Dawn! Just ran across the photo of you at the tea party! Was such a wonderful day!

      • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

        It was such a magical time! I keep that photo as my desktop background on my laptop. It’s so nice to see ‘us’ and remember that wonderful week… at Anderson’s and the tea party! ♡♡

  31. Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

    Hi, dear Susan~
    I love it when you welcome us into your world! As you describe your feelings about being an introvert and your peaceful mornings at work, I realize how much alike we are – the difference is that while I feel the same, I can’t begin to put my feelings into such beautiful words. You’re an extraordinary woman to be able to “create”, not only in stunning watercolors on paper but by painting for us mind-pictures with your words.
    As I read, I remembered myself, too, as a young girl, lying on my bed for hours, daydreaming while I looked out the window at the clouds going by or the moon moving across our backyard. I’m the oldest of 7 and was the lucky one to have my own room…tiny but with 2 windows, one facing east- the other south. I kept a scrapbook/diary, filling it with the treasures of my life…ticket stubs, scribbled notes, original poems, dried flowers. I used to practice writing my name as it would look when I married my true love…hahaha. I think I learned every lyric to every top 40 song while listening to the radio in my little room. Thanks for jogging my memory on this glorious, sunny, albeit extremely cold and wintry day.
    Be safe…stay warm…paint on!

  32. Katy Noelle says:

    You just speak my heart!!! And, at this point, there’s no way to really respond or tell you – sorry!

    Oh!! We interrupt this comment to say that the turkeys are right outside my window – pecking away in my garden! They’ve always been so suspicioso until this winter. Now, they’ve become very bold and brave!! Silly things! 😉

    Yup! And, well, there it is!! Thanks for sharing your heart and your thoughts and your love of life!! 🙂 (I haven’t thanked you for ages, now – it is time! 😉 ) You’re such a special woman! 🙂


  33. Grier says:

    Another thing I like about snow and winter is after a snowfall, it’s so bright out at night. The snow reflection just brightens up the night. Love the silence too. Glad you suggested visiting local bookstores, Susan. My favorite local bookstore, a tiny gem, just closed and I am sad. I realize that amazon works well for many people who don’t have local bookstores but please please please, girlfriends, buy at your local bookstore as much as you can. I am a new girlfriend, having discovered “A Fine Romance” in my local Barnes and Noble, and would not have found it if I didn’t have a bookstore to browse in. Save the bookstore! I love your reading list. Many are my favorites too. I just read Outlander and liked it until the cruelty part and it was just too much. Love your paintings.

  34. I love your Winter of contentment- bundled up walks, movies, work that is creative, firesides, companionable silence and afternoon tea all make it so cozy.
    Thanks for the bit on “process” I am struggling with that right now with my own creativity. The muse tends to visit in the middle of the night and then leave me by morning. Drats! Oh well she’ll get through again somehow…sometime- I do so hope.
    Looking forward to the new calendar and the girlfriend charms.
    The kits send their love to yours. xo

  35. Wendy says:

    Great post! I absolutely love your attention to detail. We detail-oriented people pretty much rock. 🙂
    Also love the guinea hens. So cute how when they got to the edge of the ice they simply jumped up onto higher ground.
    Quick question: If you get up at 4:00, what time do you go to bed?!

  36. Heather L. says:

    Thank you for sharing bits and pieces of your life with us! I love winter too — for that very fact that I feel I can hibernate away a bit and be creative! Or restore some energy for creativity the rest of the year. It is also the season when I feel very motivated to paint — always because of the evening skies and the grays and the stark trees. Happy early mornings! We look forward to being the recipients of your work! (Oh! While we were in Scotland this fall we kept running into the crew working on the filming of Outlander — I guess it is going to be a tv series here)

  37. Elaine says:

    Lovely art , post and photos as always . Thanks for sharing . Have a good week !

  38. Janice says:

    Love when I see a new blog! Warms my heart in this cold weather. Polar vortex on it’s way back. But not as cold this time. Diana Gabaldon is one of my favourite authors. Looking forward to her next book.

  39. jane townsend says:

    Thanks again for a lovely post. What on earth time do you go to bed to get up at 4am?? Mind you, I get up at 5 am (I have a handicapped daughter who wakes at that time) but like you, I don’t mind as I love having the house to myself – well almost. I’m loving the 2015 calender already but will be more than content with the 2014 for now!

  40. Charlene H. (S.F.Valley) SoCal says:

    Hello Susan! It is wonderful to see your part of the world and how you are weathering this cold, cold weather. I, a native So. Californian, have to admit…I’ve only been in falling snow about four times in my 60+ years. The most recent was with my grandkids in the Sierras last October. Though the moments are few, they are incredibly memorable!
    I so appreciate your writing about the fuss, fits, and false starts that can be a long part of the creative process. I am drawing a wine label for a wine-making hobbyist. Though it will not be on the commercial market, it is still a demanding challenge. I wish I could start early like you…the early morning light seems so much better!
    Thank you for sharing your 2015 artwork! I love the close-ups and the description of your thoughts.
    RE: Downton Abbey, so glad, glad, glad that Edna is gone! I want Anna to heal!
    Stay cozy…charlene ♥♥♥

  41. Francine Werlinger says:

    Such a darling cleaning lamb! Love her!! And thanks for getting me back on track. I too had slowly started to clean out drawers, wash things in china cabinets, etc. and then I sort of fizzled out! Now back to it!

  42. lynn says:

    This was the sweetest post, thank you.

  43. Kim says:

    OUTLANDER……big contented sigh……The entire series. I keep reading them overandoverandoverandover.

    For what it’s worth, my black lab, Olive, looked up when you were calling those birds!

  44. helen says:

    Susan, with the knowledge that you tend to be an introvert……makes your book tour, where you shared so much of yourself with so many, even more amazing! I love spending time with family and friends…..but at a certain point start to feel drained. My solitary time nurtures my soul….the quiet in the house, quality hours with books and journals, puttering from room to room, cups of tea, laundry freshly folded, dinner in the slow cooker……all add up to contentment. Do you think that artists like yourself tend more to being introverts generally? My husband tells me that I am easy to be around……good thing…..since we are both retired and sharing the same space much of the time 🙂 ……..Here in sunny CA we have to “create” our own winter cozy ambience…….looking forward to your snow pics…..stay warm!

    • sbranch says:

      It took me a very long time to get back to what passes for normal — and I think that’s why. But more than wanting the quiet, I wanted to go meet everyone and it was so worth it!

  45. Donna Babbitt, Brea, Ca. says:

    Nag! Nag! Nag!! OK, OK, I will start cleaning my pantry!!……………………………..but first I will have a cuppa, the disappointing scones I made this morning, and pet my kitty whilst I ponder this chore………………………I have mastered the art of starting slow.
    Don’t you think most creative people are introverts? Your road trip had to be so difficult even tho’ you made it sound fun I was reading between the lines where your hearts song was singing…………………………………HOME!
    Your trip wore me out, I over identify, I am so relieved to have you home where you belong so I can relax. There is a wondrous “zone” with creativity and solitude from painting, to stitching, and of course cooking…………………………one of our best ever gifts on this earth. My identifying comes to a screeching halt at four am. People who so admire your life seem to skip over the dedication and discipline that is the foundation of this charming life………………………..
    Thank you for the fun your blog gives us, and the education. You introduced me to Gladys Taber, a new world, I have nearly all her books now, and your quotations set me seeking the source. You are a most generous lady!!!

  46. I, too, am an introvert, and I welcome days inside. There is always much to do here on the farm. These days it’s too wet to get much done outdoors. I will be starting my kitchen garden clean-up fairly soon, though. I generally have seeds and small plants in the garden in March. (There are many reasons to love North Carolina!)

    Loved those guinea hens. I heard somewhere that they’re not the brightest lights on the tree, but I think they’re beautiful and therefore have to be smart as well!

    Enjoy your time of coziness and contemplation. I so appreciated Mark Twain’s advice today. I’ve started a new miniature building, a beachside bookstore, and had to wait for inspiration. Now it’s flowing!

  47. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    I miss you, but not the bitter cold out here in Arizona. I will resume my Spring cleaning when I get back in a week. I have been rescuing your rubber stamps!

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      It should say “while I am out here…”
      I do admire your time management. In the past though I tried the moving my former spouse put us through messed me up. I was thinking that you moved to MV when I was first married…and during the time you created your home business I moved 18 times! We were not a military family.

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        I reread the blog, so now I get it. Now is the time for me to~Get on with my life…!

      • sbranch says:

        I always hated moving. Was so glad when I had my own house and could be in control of that.

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          That is where I am at now, but Arnie and I want to pick out the place we want to retire to together as we are still newlyweds of sorts. We want it paid off in ten years. The process is driving me crazy though.

  48. NANCYJO says:

    Hi Susan,
    Nice post, again. I have a book “MARTHA’S VINEYARD” AN Affectionate Memoir. 25 years of paintings by Ray Ellis. 400 years of history by Ralph Graves. Beautiful water colored pictures. Its even signed by Ray Ellis. Cloth covered book. Ordered it on E’bay. have you ever heard of him? Anyeeeeway, nice book should you come across it there on the island. You did a fine job trying to call those birds in, I just couldn’t understand why they kept walking the other way.
    Nancy Jo

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, Ray Ellis was a fixture around here before he passed. We have that book too, so I know what you’re saying — just beautiful. Thank you for recognizing my talent as bird wrangler even if they didn’t.

  49. GF Michele says:

    Is it wrong of me to want to comment on EVERY post!?!? 🙂

    I have been trying, for years, to get up early on days off. Working days are a no brainer because I have to, but to be able to get up and notice the quiet, BE with the quiet of my house….someday I will get into that routine, but apparently not yet! I am OK and will wait for it….This coming from a non-stop-full-of-energy-at-all-times girl, I am finding as I get older, I appreciate that quiet like I never have and never thought possible!

    Your 4am spot at home sounds wonderful!!!

  50. I love it — we are not the only ones who do not know what day it is!! With our tea room planning events/activities out in the future we are always confused what day or month it actually is! If there weren’t seasons here in the Midwest, we might be really confused!! It’s really hard to believe that 2013 is behind us and 2014 is here! I just saw a friend in town the other day; she was having a rough day and said, “Oh, I cannot wait until it’s 2015.” Yikes! She’d probably love your calendar planning right now! ha. Keep up the great work…stay warm and snuggly!

  51. Delcia Rosenow says:

    I just love your blog! It is so comforting and affirming of all things quiet and ordinary/extraordinary in our world. Those guineas are such a hoot! I would be chatting away at them if I was on your walk. They are one of those gifts God gives us to cross our path and make us wish we could hop and peck along with them. Great video present!

    After a 2 week Christmas break from school volunteering and a 4 day weekend, I finally got myself cutting out squares for a rose themed tied comforter–on the eve of back to school days. I started to stress over what I DIDN’T get done. Then your post and all is well again. I’m getting down my Stillmeadow Sampler and Daybook books by G.Taber to read again. They’ve been with me since 1973/75 as requested Christmas gifts when I was asked what I wanted for a gift. I love that up you quote from her!

    Thank you so much for gifting us with stillness and quietness. I wish you could send some snow our way our here in the Pacific NW–the kids want a snow day! Me too–I grew up in Alaska and miss that you could count on snow.

  52. Laura says:

    Being such a fan of winter, have you ever read Elsa Beskow’s book, Ollie’s Ski Trip? It’s a short, children’s picture book, but I think you’d like it. Sending happy snowy thoughts…

  53. Enjoy your snowy day Susan. I, too, love a quiet home. Right now I am watching the beautiful red cardinal in the snow. Oh so gorgeous! We are in for about a foot of snow today. I have a kitty question for you and any of the girlfriends, if you don’t mind, since Kitty Girl and Jack co-habitate. My sister brought me home a rescue cat, Louie, who is one and a half. My cat in residence is 6 (soon to be 7 on Valentine’s Day). Well, my world has turned upside down with all the hissey fits going on to name but a few. It has been a week and two days (who’s counting?). I know it takes time for them to work it out. My question is: will they? Can I last? Any tidbits or clues? They both look so much alike it is adorable. Now I need them to act adorable quickly!! I’m even burning aromatherapy and playing relaxation music. Each day is a better day, I just need to know this is “normal”. Off to have my tea. Stay warm and cozy.

    • sbranch says:

      Jack and Girl are apparently never going to be best friends. But there is tolerance. They do say you might want to keep your kitties separated for the first couple of weeks until the king of the house gets used to the idea that there’s a new guy in town.

    • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      One of my barn cats lost her eye. She was only about 6 or 7 months old and I moved her into the house. Our resident cat was not happy. Like Susan’s cats, they will never be friends, but they live in the house together. They have never fought, but the older cat does a lot of hissing and growling! She does not play well with others! It should calm down eventually.

    • Elizabeth in Montana says:

      We got a new cat a couple of weeks ago, already had four in residence. The first two, Fiona and Fluffy, we adopted together, the next two, Dandylion and Fletcher, also. There was a little hissing from Fiona when numbers 3 and 4 arrived, but nothing major. This time…Fletcher has hissed, growled, and flown at the new boy, Benji, several times. We isolated Benji for the first week, gradually letting him out during the day and now all the time. Fletcher seems to be afraid of him, although Benji has totally ignored him . Fletcher has always been very nervous, but the attacking had to stop, so the spray bottle came out. Things are gradually calming down, so I think if you take it slowly, it will be all right. 🙂 We also have 2 Malamute/Husky girls…Benji bopped one on the nose at the shelter when we were adopting him, and her mom chased him when we brought him home, he scratched her nose, and that was the end of any problems with the dogs.

      • Thanks for the words of comfort. Whew! I found a water gun in one of my drawers from when my kitties were young 16 years ago and it seems to work well in an emergency. Only one nose scratch today. As far as separating them, I’m afraid that is too late. My home is a small cozy cottage and it is survival of the fittest. Now where does that leave me? 🙂 Stay tuned…

    • Holly Field says:

      Susie, I have four cats, and have had 30 over my lifetime (farm girl). If the old cat has something it sleeps on, take it and rub the new cat very well with it. After several rub downs, it might help. Cats sense of smell is incredible. Older cats don’t accept new friends easily. But if the new one doesn’t smell completely foreign it might help. Good luck.

      • When I bring my dog home from the Groomers my cat gets up close and sniffs him all over very cautiously to make sure it’s her dog. When my son’s dog comes over my cat hides in the basement! So, you’re absolutely right about putting the old cat’s scent on on the new cat.

  54. Jo says:

    I love it, “Start slow and taper off”! I’ll begin immediately, thank you.

    We don’t often get snow here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon but when we do it’s a celebration for me (if I can stay home), because there is so little noise beside birds chirping you can think and all tension fades away.

    Enjoy your bit of heaven, though it doesn’t sound as if you need encouragement.

  55. Judy Tracy says:

    Different worlds…….72 degrees expected here in Newport Beach. Have already been swimming with “the girls” for an hour this morning. But it is nice to get a window on your world and see the things we don’t see here. Making a memory book on my father now and need the same quiet you spoke of and to know that with the right focus and purpose it will be a successful project. Am loving my 2014 Susan Calendar to brighten my day and keep organized. And am knitting here too. All kinds of winters. Praise God! Many thanks, Judy Tracy

  56. Vickie in Olympia says:

    Isn’t this just a fabulous world! Here I’ve been for the last week mired down in my inability to get creative and YOU, my girlfriend, send me the perfect post telling me why. I need to have this little bit posted all around my house to remind me I’m not stuck in a rut, I’m Processing! Hurrah!
    PS I believe snow is nature’s way to tell us to slow down and appreciate. Like throwing a blanket over a messy desk, hiding the obligations and guilt, letting us, if just for a few moments, be in awe of the beauty of our wonderful world.

  57. Tisa @ Seattle Retro says:

    Did you know the timing of your Musica today (Mr Sandman) meshed perfectly with when your words got down to the video of the birds? Nice segueway! (I’d do that clicking noise like you did at first, or birdie tweets–I ALWAYS do that to the birds I see, like the Stellar’s Jays or the chickadees here, aren’t we having a convo with them?!) Life sounds idyllic….meaningful work….warmth….a loved one nearby….a fuzzy animal nearby….scents of winter….a yummy recipe percolating in your mind to make later (mine’s Buttermilk Biscuits)….and friends to chat with. Oh wait! Sounds like my life too 😉 Better button-up,♫ baby it’s cold outside ♫ . Love to you on this winter’s day!

  58. Nancy says:

    Thank you for inviting us in to your cozy warm house and the description of the tiniest details, making us feel like we are sitting right there with you. The scripture is my absolute favorite. Such contentment when you have matured and realize that each one of the “seasons” in our lives have a purpose. Stay warm!

  59. Sue Yarberry says:

    Just love your “early-rise” days there. I too get up quite early around 4 or 4:30am as I love the quiet and stillness of the morning hours ….. I have a light breakfast and get a favorite cup of tea in my “Believe” mug with the purple heart and spend time preparing my heart, mind and spirit for the work day ahead which starts a short drive away at 7:30am. I love your bunny in the vegetable garden drawing…reminds me of Peter Rabbit picture book I have that was published in 1974 with such great artwork. I noticed pears on your window sill….are they real? Are you able to purchase pears in your neck of the woods in the winter? I just love pears and made a delicious apple pear crisp this past weekend which everybody loved. It was a simple recipe you just peel and cut up 3 small apples and 2 pears steam them for a little while until soft add 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins (I like golden raisins) place in pan with a topping made from whole wheat flour, organic peanut butter and a little brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes in 350 degree oven and serve with whipped topping or ice cream. Yummy!
    The guinea fowl video was also fun to watch yet especially your sounds to get their attention were funny. It was amusing that when they got to water they went off to the left on a new path of their own. Sort of like us huh? We encounter an obstacle and go off in another direction forging our own new path.
    Your pantry sounds fun! You will have to send us a picture of it sometime. Reminds me of one my aunt had when I was growing up made from native trees on her ranch that was off to the side of kitchen dining area.
    Have a fun day with your painting and “creativeness” which I know we will all benefit from in 2015 when we put your new calendars to use.
    By the way the brunch with lavendar tea (bengal spice for our non-caffeine freinds) went well. Had a lovely table set with purple flowered tea cups and purple plates and little lavendar decorated napkin rings and lavendar/purple center piece . Of course we served your egg sandwiches as well as my husband’s favorite salmon spread sandwiches. We also had cucumber salad and lavender polenta cake for dessert. Until next time.
    Sweet Sue

  60. Carol in Sierra Madre, CA says:

    Hi Susan, I love that you are putting “How to be creative” in your next calendar, but can’t you give us just a few hints before then?? I paint watercolors too, but never consider myself an artist because I lack creativity. You obviously have it in spades! I only wish I were blessed with such a gift. Please share! Thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      I can almost guarantee you that you are Carol. We just have a tendency to not believe it in our own selves, just in others. Believing is a huge step in being. Try it on for size, say I am creative. I think you are. You are making something from nothing every day.

    • I agree with Susan’s advice. I think you’re creative because you can paint! Just don’t compare yourself to anyone else and I think you’ll discover you ARE creative.

      • Susan P. says:

        Carol, I agree with Susan also….believe in yourself…you are creating and it comes from your “soul” from with in YOU. And there is only one “YOU”. The fact that you do watercolors is awesome in it self… It is not like any other artist,,,IT IS LIKE “CAROL” IN SIERRA MADRE… I TAKE OLD CALENDARS AND MAKE ENVELOPES OUT OF THEM AND SOMETIMES I WILL INCLUDED A PICTURE THAT I DRAW ON THE LETTER
        …GREAT ART….MAYBE… MAYBE NOT.. BUT IT IS FROM MY HEART AND SOUL AND MAKES ME HAPPY…I will step down,,,from the soap box lady in West Covina (not far from you Carol) Susan P.

  61. Nancy says:

    Hello Susan! Hunkering down next island to you on Cuttyhunk with my little dog Toby, some Chamomile tea and honey, and chocolate while enjoying reading your blog. Another fun thing about slowing down in winter is having the time to learn something new…I’ve taken up the Tenor Saxophone in my fifties and enjoying every minute of it! Can you believe the winds today?! Toby is on his own doing his business out in that blizzard! 🙂 Stay warm by the fire.

  62. Rebecca W says:

    Oh drat, you have inspired me to look into the back of my kitchen cupboards. I seem to collect jams & jellies on our trips and somehow they turn into memento’s instead of something to eat. What do you suppose is the shelf life ofjams/jellies? They ‘appear’ to be fine, but how can you really tell.

    Come to Denver, it is much warmer than the East Coast.

  63. Joanie B from San Diego says:

    Love the silence of companionship with my husband of forty years, it’s a beautiful thing. Also love entering the “zone” where the world fades away and we are creating. Have fun in yours, Susan!

  64. LindaH (northern IN) says:

    Hi Susan,

    I really enjoyed today’s blog post because I appreciate the same things about quiet winter days. Right now I’m looking out at lots of beautiful white snow under sunshine and a blue sky, wrapped in soft blankets, nursing a head cold. I have also recently started reorganizing my pantry stock, putting older cans up front to use up–I guess this is definitely a winter task! I like that slower pace of breaking up mundane tasks too–makes the job more appealing and not so overwhelming. I’m reading an autobiography of Ginger Rogers–one of my favorite old-time movie stars. I’m glad to hear that many of us rest and recharge during the winter, like our ancestors. And after a long winter is over, who appreciates the delight of spring starting more than us four seasons people! Looking forward to Williard!

  65. Mary S. says:

    Oh!!! I love your lambie paintings!!! And your descriptions of winter and quiet!! I have always loved to be alone, and when I was growing up I would put on a stack of records (Christmas or classical), sit in the rocking chair and just DREAM!!! I had much rather do that than my homework!! 😀
    The guinea hens are so cute!! How wonderful to have wildlife around your home!!
    And the snow!!!! *sigh*
    Love from Mary S. in (dry and warm) Fresno, CA

  66. Mary S. says:

    OUTLANDER sounds sooo good! I love time-travel books!! I’ll put it on my list!
    If YOU like time-travel books, I would love to recommend a book that is considered one of the best time-travel books of the 20th century, and one of my personal favorites of all time – TIME AND AGAIN, by Jack Finney. Wonderful book!!!
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  67. Paulie says:

    Hello Dear Susan!
    I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to know that someone else has little kitchen or pantry shelves like mine. It is amazing how time flies by and it seems that the time to check the outdated has arrived once again. It made me smile to read that. Also made me feel good ! Like yourself, I am an early riser and up at 4 a:m most days. That seems my best time to be productive for my creative juices to flow. Likewise I am also an introvert for many hours during my day when I am doing my own thing. However, I grew up that way too.
    As one gets wiser (note I did not say older) it seems ten times more appreciated and treasured don’t you think?

    I have a question – your photo of the hens does not show up – the space is blank. Must be a glitch. Well like yourself, it is very cold outside here and we await the noreaster coming our way. So stay warm Susan, light the fire and get your warm jammies on and curl up with a good book. Tis WONDERFUL

  68. New Diana Galbadon book out in June! I love the series so much 🙂
    Happy Winter days!

  69. Delcia Rosenow says:

    Have you read Recipe For a Magic Childhood by Mary Ellen Chase? (written in 1951) It seems so “you.” It’s another great gem I found out about in the 70s that I’ve kept all these years.

  70. Ann says:

    Yay! Yay! Yay! for new batch of girlfriend charms! I’m SO happy!

  71. Cynthia McDonald says:

    I love your blog and so enjoy the pictures and videos as well. Your “process” story holds true regarding playing/practicing music too!

    • sbranch says:

      All art and creativity has this aspect I would imagine. Because making something new that never existed before is not all that easy!

  72. Gayle Campbell says:

    I have finished reading A Fine Romance this week…loved it and hated to see it come to an end. One of my favorite authors is Edith Wharton and I wondered it you had been to her house “The Mount” in Lennox, Mass. It is now open to the public, I believe. Her estate has purchased her book collection that had been owned by someone else for years and has returned it to the Mount. Her autobiography A Backward Glance is really a good read. Another great read for a winter day is An Autobiography by Agatha Christie. She took 15 years to write it!

  73. Monique says:

    It’s so nice for me to still be in love with all you do for so many yrs now..I received your 2014 calendar as a gift and love it so.
    We are quiet people too..and live in a little town that I love..
    I have visited the Cape..Martha’s Vineyard..Nantucket..and hope to go back one day..
    When we built our home 12 yrs ago..I stenciled thse words around the guest room

    “Now in a cottage built of lilacs and laughter, I know the meaning of the words, “ever after
    It’s still there..I never tire of it..and it will stay as long as we are here~

    Thank you for back then..and now~

  74. carolynn says:

    Loved the guinea hens. I really expected them to cross the ice but I guess they know best. I’m impressed with your drawing of hands, I have a memory somewhere that hands are very hard to paint. My husband has some kind of work deadline that requires intense concentration so I am doing my best to be quiet. However, my corgi, Zoe isn’t interested in quiet and is barking madly at the deer who have come to drink at our fountain. This drought is no fun for any of us.

  75. chris consentino says:

    well, once again, an un-expected, but wonderful visit and a heart full of smiles because of it. it is snowing here in VA., but, compared to our previous home in NH, this is not enuf!!! we are missing the snowiest winter in quite a while. but…closer to grandbabies, who are having a good time in DC, with their new sled!! mmm. we’ll get pics later today, I am sure. then…our hearts do soar!!! well worth missing NH snow to be closer to grandbabies!!! your wonderful-world is just that….wonderful !!! and, even a bit of nature there…wasn’t it mind-boggling how those hens gathered….seemed to “discuss”…then climbed up the embankment to avoid tragedy!!! wow. amazing!!! thank you. little “lambie” looks even more clever than the hens!!! I am in midst of setting up our “den”, which involves tons (literally, I’m sure) of BOOKS that I have started by “sorting”…now have to finish that task, then FIND ROOM for them. eeek. I could use the help of a “lambie-pie” or twenty!!! well, as I ususally say: thank you. oh! thank you….it’s a wonderful visit I will enjoy many more times.

  76. JoAnne Daniels says:

    Susan — I love your short videos — gives me a sneak-peak of everyday life on Martha’s Vineyard. We have a family of wild turkeys living in the woods behind our house…perhaps I should film them…
    I know what you mean by “process” — it’s taken me awhile to realize that when
    my husband and I (both creative types) take days, and sometimes years, to come up with a new design for the house, that it’s all part of the process. Deciding what appliance to buy, what color to stain the house — in the end we are always happy with the result! Sleeping on it really works!
    You inspire me to get up earlier and get something accomplished. I’m such a sleepy head in the morning. But, I must say, that my new puppy Ellie gets me
    bundled up and outside in the morning before I go to work. The air is crisp and yesterday I watched the sun come up. She is good for me!
    Winter is a quiet whiteness — where you can hear the thrum of tiny wings.
    Sometimes I wish this time for quiet introspection would last a little longer too!

  77. Gina P. from NY says:

    Hi Susan: I know what you mean by becoming an “introvert” in the winter weather. I too, like to watch the snowflakes come down from my “perch” (my apartment on the 7th floor up at the tops of the trees)… It actually feels as though I’m up in a tree house with a great view. I can see the mountains, the lights of the nearest town, and sometimes when it’s snowing, I open the doors and just listen… so peaceful. This is the time of the year when I catch up on my reading. Right now I am reading a wonderful little book called, “Julia Child Rules – Lessons on Savoring Life”, by Karen Karbo. The author, in such a charming and funny way, gives us a history of Julia’s life and how she came to be the woman she became. It is witty, humorous, reflective, and the perfect book to curl up with while enjoying a cup of tea. What an inspiration she continues to be to all of us who love to cook and to eat! Right now, it is snowing – we are expecting 6 to 8 inches… I work in a school and we got out early, and who knows if tomorrow will bring another “snow day”… another day to enjoy my books, my tea, and your blog! Stay warm…

    • sbranch says:

      7th floor — is it New York City? It sounds wonderful, but when you mentioned mountains I was thinking, probably not the city. Stay warm Gina, enjoy the storm!

      • Gina P. from NY says:

        Susan: No, not in NYC – I’m about 30 miles North of NYC on the Hudson River. Remember, I mentioned that Bear Mountain State Park is right across the river from me? So we are surrounded by mountains and the lovely river. My apartment complex has some small apartment buildings – mine has only 8 floors, and we are on a hill tucked into a neighborhood with older homes surrounded by woods and lots of nature (deer, foxes, wild turkeys, birds of every kind come to visit us). So it is very “un city like” here, though I do love to into NYC to visit often (by train less than an hour). Always glad to get home to my suburban loveliness though!

  78. Nina From England says:

    O susan what a lovely post on a cold rainy winters evening! Here in the middle of England we have seen NO snow at all! Although we have had some beautiful hoarfrosts! Its been very mild for the time of year but lots of rain everything’s pretty much soaked!
    Here this season of Downtown abbey is over (I won’t spoil it for you!) But its not all bad the new series (N0 2) of Mr Selfridge came back on our screens on Sunday it’s 5 years on and war is looming….
    I think its worth watching for the hats alone.
    Loved your video by the way!
    Keep on doing what you do best Susan you inspire us all! xxxx

    • sbranch says:

      I like that hats, I like the department store, but I have never been able to warm up to the Mr. Selfridge actor. I don’t know why, but he seems so wrong for that part. Thank you Nina!

  79. Carol C says:

    I love the winter, too. Love being in the cozy house when it’s dark at five pm! I am probably the only one I know who doesn’t like to see the days get longer. Winter is my house cleaning time and it’s when the quilting projects get finished. Last night I went with a friend to her x stitching group. They do reproductions of antique samplers and these gals are unbelievable! I used to do these until the quilting bug bit but now I feel myself itching to pick up a sampler. Surely I haven’t decluttered ALL of those old patterns!
    Love Mrs. Hughes! Do you think she and Carson are about to get together? Seems like they are getting chummier every week.

    • sbranch says:

      I was thinking that. But she is so normal and he lives in a bit of another world. They would make a darling couple. A wedding with them would be so fun!!!

      • Karen P (Wisconsin) says:

        I LOVE to see scenes of them sitting in their cozy room sipping sherry (or whatever it is they’re sipping!). I say they’re moving closer and closer to one another as the weeks go by and I think we see a union there! Yay! We shall see….

  80. carmel says:

    Your world doesn’t seem small to me. I guess it’s because your reach of providing so much goodness is so wide and your world is so full of enrichment. But I know what you mean. I love the art for the new calendar already. So adorable. Thanks again for the correction for this year’s calendar. I made sure I printed it out for those friends who received your calendar as a Christmas gift. No problem – scissors and glue sticks made it easy. It’s a winter wonderland here too. It’s been snowing steadily since about 10:00 a.m. this morning, but always nice to see the snow in Martha’s Vineyard. Love the guinea hens! Please check out the panda cam at the National Zoo to see our adorable baby girl panda, Bao Bao (means precious in Mandarin we’ve been told). I think you and the girlfriends might enjoy her (even when she’s sleeping! 🙂 ).

    • sbranch says:

      You are so right, my world stretches right out the door when it comes to the blog, but “real” life is something different. I’ll go look for the Panda Cam!

  81. Kate says:

    I use to go into my brothers’ room and lay on the bottom bunk and push the top bunk with my feet while I lay there day dreaming. Do kids get to daydream anymore or are they being rushed from one thing to another to keep them busy or are they twittering all the time? I love the long winter days and although I will be ready for warmer weather, I am not looking forward to the busyness that Spring brings. For now, I can knit, sew and read or bake. Right now I am reading “The Book Thief.” I hope to see the movie now.

  82. Rae Ann R...back in Michigan...forever... says:

    I’ve been thinking about you all day…I just opened my four SB “I love you” tea towels…I ordered one for me, one for each of my two daughters and one for my daughter in law for Valentine’s Day…LOVELOVELOVE them…can’t wait to send them off…Is that a recent picture of Joe and your neighbor???…do you really not have any snow???…I know you are suppose to get some from winter storm Janus, but I’m wondering if all your snow melted or if the picture of Joe and your neighbor isn’t a recent one because you included a picture of out your window with snow outside…I guess that is the difference…here in Michigan our snow has not melted…it was -10* here this morning and Jack Frost made lovely designs on our windows…do I know how cute packaging stays in pantries longer than non-cute packaging…when we moved and I cleaned out my panty…tossed lots of out dated things and then ended giving 6o+ pounds of food to our local food pantry…I’m trying to keep things current in my new pantry…enjoy your snow storm…xoxo…

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, so glad you like them Rae Ann! I got one for me, and several for girlfriends ~ I love them too (if I do say so myself!). Yes, the photo of Joe and Dave was yesterday. I’d say we rarely have snow from a storm stay on the ground more than three or four days. It comes, then it goes away ~ something about being so close to the ocean. The photo of the snow was a couple of weeks ago.

  83. Mary S. of PA. says:

    Dear Susan,
    Your post today was soo soothing, I have the chest cold all of PA seems to be passing around, but I am comforting myself with a warm cup of orange spice tea and reading.. Have to tell you, I was reading my new Country Register and I spotted the teapot and the name Susan Branch!! Jan. Feb. 2014 edition.
    Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      We had it here too Mary. Everyone I know has had it. Yes, I’ve written for the Country Register for years now. I like them, sweet little paper with heart in the right place.

      • Barbara (WA) says:

        Hi Susan! I was reading through the comments, and enjoying the girlfriends so much, when I spotted this one about the County Register. I hadn’t heard of it but immediately googled it – and guess what? They are having a give-away of your Heart of the Home Cookbook that was owned by the founder of the magazine. I am going to put my name in the “hat”!

  84. martha says:

    I love Wallace Stevens’ poem “The Snowman” — “One Must Have the Mind of Winter” he writes. Don’t we love it!?? Tea, movies, books, knitting, weaving… and then there are the expectant goats to worry about and check on in the middle of the night while the moon is shining bright. Magic! And, best of all, who isn’t dreaming of the garden that is perfect and weed free, for now! LOL

    Living on a farm, I have learned to call every kind of animal… Here you go:

    How to Call A Guinea:

    Pot-rack! Pot-rack! Pot-rack!

    Seriously. It works. That, and a pocketful of some kind of crumbs or corn! Friends for life!

    Stay warm!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL Pot Rack! I would never of thought to say pot rack. You better not be fooling because I will make an idiot myself in the woods! Ohhhh, I will take some feed for them, how smart you are. Thank you Martha!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        if you take corn for them, take cracked corn, you can get wherever they sell feed for farm animals like at a feed store or a grange. I answered you but I guess it didn’t come through or got lost somewhere. I thought you might be asking me about the Guinea hens. I don’t know too much about them, and I haven’t seen any here. about all I see are wild turkeys, ducks and geese, deer, skunks, possums and raccoons. not to mention bears and sometimes cougars.

      • martha says:

        No fooling! Will you let us know how you fare with them?? Yes, cracked corn will make them very, very devoted… so will any kind of bread crumbs… Our little girl lets us know when someone shows up who isn’t supposed to be here… like the skunk who comes to eat some cat food! Best Alarm Ev-ah!

        • sbranch says:

          You have just one? Can you have just one, or do they need to come in pairs?

          • martha says:

            They should really come in pairs, but her sisters have all met sad fates. She lives with the hens, though, and is a very happy little guinea. Hens are good company! They are like girlfriends; they chat, eat, sleep, and sit together to watch the roosters preen and strut!

          • sbranch says:

            Sounds familiar 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      My grandmother often kept a few guineas in with her flock of laying hens for their aforementioned watch-dog (watch-fowl?) qualities. Nothing is sneaking up on you with guineas on guard! She would call them with “cha-Quank, cha-Quank” which sounds like it must just be the Cajun-French version of pot-rack!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        I should think pairs are best, if they are like the ducks, turkeys and hens here they need another to keep them company, they do get lonely as I remember how depressed Tom was when his mate died. we had to scramble to get him a new mate and now that she is grown and with him everyday he is happy again. we don’t see cougars too often and they just leave if threatened. we also live in Sasquatch country, never saw one but we hear something every now and then howling out there in the hills that makes you sit up straight in bed!!!! we live 10 miles from where the first photo of Bigfoot was ever taken at the Chateau near the Oregon Caves. 🙂

  85. Karen P. - Wisconsin says:

    I love reading about your process! How you manage to get up at 4:00 a.m.is beyond me! While I, too, am a bit of an introvert and love silence and solitude and being “stuck” inside on a cold, snowy winter day, I much prefer my toasty bed until at least 6:30! Love Miss Lambie Pie making it in the 2015 calendar…but, of course, she must be there in March, spurring us on to Spring Cleaning! Her red polka dot rubber gloves are too cute! And aren’t guinea hens the prettiest, silliest little things? My in-laws had them on their farm when I first met my hubby and I loved them! Stay warm and cozy in your snowstorm! ♡♥♡

  86. Susan says:

    Hi Susan,
    Would you share some of your snow, please??? I’m in Denver, CO, which is *supposed* to be snowy in winter, but the mountains keep hogging it all (which makes the skiers happy, but…) I’m ready for a blizzard, with a stocked pantry and everyone I care about home safe! And I’m ready, too, to get back to “living seasonally” with the winter being a time to mend and restock and regroup, etc. One of the reasons I so loved The Ox-Cart Man amazon.com/Ox-Cart-Man-Donald-Hall/dp/0140504419/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390339079&sr=1-1&keywords=oxcart+man
    Thanks for the snowy pictures – that sure helps!

    • sbranch says:

      Sending my best BLIZZARD wishes your way Susan!

    • Diane says:

      The Ox Cart Man was my granddaughter’s favorite book. I would take it off the book shelf and put it out in the fall with the other fall books, and she would have me read it to her. [Shhhh! Don’t tell! She’s in her early twenties now and still has me read it to her every fall for old time’s sake.]

  87. Susan in SC says:

    We live in an area on the fringe of having clearly defined seasons, but years ago I realized I needed to celebrate the change of seasons “inside” our home regardless of the weather outside. I decorate for all seasons. It adds a comforting sense of rhythm to the year, as well as, making me really happy! I know the chances of seeing real snowflakes are small, but as I look out my kitchen window through the crystal snowflake sun catchers, smell the gingerbread baking in the oven and fluff up the snowman pillows on the kitchen bench – I’m thoroughly enjoying this winter season. And seeing the beautiful wintery photos and videos that you post just adds to my fun!

  88. Deb in KY says:

    Glad you have joined the Outlander Clan! TV mini series of it is coming up on Starz this summer.

    I am being decidedly UN-productive in this snow storm, and have gathered a couple of good (and very long) books to tide me over. Both by Rosamunde Pilcher, I am into ‘Coming Home’ right now. The second is ‘September,’ but I may need to re-read ‘The Shell Seekers,’ since I understand it is kind of a sequel.

  89. Jerri Wheeler says:

    Hi Susan and Girlfriends!

    I am in sunny southern California, but actually would love a few snow days. Guess it is my Ohio roots calling me back home. Anywho, I just cleaned out my fridgie…shelf-by-shelf. Ug! I was thinking someone should invent a self-cleaning fridge. My husband said just put the dog in there for a while and he would have it spotless!! Ha ha

    Stay cozy!

  90. Holly says:

    The guineas were wonderful! We used to have them at home on the farm. They are better than any guard dog. They would sound the alarm if anything out of the ordinary were to occur, even at night. If a predator were to come down from the hills, we heard about it. I do love them. You must paint them! I love Lambie Pie Cuddle Bunch, just adorable! You could have your own line of collectable figurines you know!! She would be good in a children’s book too… just saying.

    I totally get introverted tendencies, especially in winter. I get more quilts and needlework done in the winter, and wish it would last a tad longer. There’s nothing better than being totally absorbed in the “process of creating”. It is quite a satisfying .

    Enjoy 2015!

  91. Carol Hesch says:

    Hi Susan–did you catch Sherlock the other night, after Downton? It was AMAZING! I just wanted to let you know that, while you have always been inspiring, I have been relaxing lately by trying watercolor painting. Just for fun:). It is calming and fun for me. It also makes me appreciate your beautiful work even more!

    • sbranch says:

      I did, by accident, and wasn’t all that sure what was going on, except I did get it and wow! Remember, when it comes to watercolor, practice is HUGE in how things look. So give it some time — wonderful that you’re enjoying it.

  92. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Good Afternoon ~ hard to think of Spring (cleaning) when it’s soooo cold and snowy outside! ~ I have decided to try and put all my condiments and homemade items in Mason jars ~ I’ve been collecting them for years and I think its time to use them for other things besides “canning” ~ I make most of my own concoctions ~ mixes ~ salad dressings ~ hot beverages ~ seasonings ~ herbs ~ I will keep some of the Rubbermaid & Tupperware ~ I have been putting off cleaning out the linens and glassware but I’m running out of room! ~ too many good deals I couldn’t pass up ~ still can’t! ~ wish me luck as I “try” to purge ~ have a good week and stay warm & safe! ~

    • sbranch says:

      Good Luck Lynn!

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      Hi Lynn,
      I have been using canning jars for dry things like beans, rices, and grains.


    • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

      And where, Lynn, are you “purging” to??? Let me know, okay??? (Susan and other Girlfriends, I should explain that Lynn has emailed me about some of her wonderful “finds” and I think I want to be there when she gets rid of some of them!!! LOL! 🙂

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        ~ I don’t know yet! ~ I’m going to start with my kids~ if I can bear to part with nothing~ you don’t know the half of it Pat! ~ I just got a beautiful hand embroidered tablecloth with yellow roses (one of my favorites) for $1~ I’m not kidding! ~ it doesn’t help when the person taking the cash knows ALL your downfall(s)! I wish I never read the William Morris quote ~ you know ~ useful…beautiful….yikes!~ why is everything have to be beautiful AND useful…..?!

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          I meant anything! ~ see I already wrote ” nothing “

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            And I meant “does”~ I need to proofread first!

          • Lynn, you substitute “nothing” for “anything” because your “truth” (true self) was speaking up! What I do is keep my living space (drawers/closets, etc.) organized and clutter-free and store everything else in boxes in my basement laundry room. As long as everything is labeled well, you can switch out things seasonally. Then you do what my mother did….when you run out of storage space and someone admires something, you give it to them. It makes you and them happy, and then you go to your stash and display some “new” item. ☺

        • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

          You scared me for a moment when I read “I’m going to start with my kids first.” Thought you were thinking of getting rid of a couple of them!!! LOL! 🙂

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          ~ Good idea Cathy ~ Thanks!

  93. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh Susan…what a lovely post! I wish I had your energy to wake early and get busy in the quiet of the morning! You are so busy! Isn’t it so much better to be creative in the stillness? I asked my writer friend if she needed to have quietness to read and write? And she said YES! Seems…we either have a TV going or Rusty’s barking…lol

    Love those sweet little guineas!! What a lovely surprise to spot them and better yet to get them on tape!

    Oh, I love the quiet and the snow….. The thought of *snow* brings back memories of *snow* days! Yeah! As much as I loved school…*snow days* are a comforting memory! Mom would have a pot of vegetable soup..bubbling on the stove! (I have never been able to recreate it!… Kind of like never being able to recreate special memories…) Back to the present…it sounds like MV will be getting some blizzard conditions…so you two (plus kitties) dig in and enjoy the beauty of the season!

  94. barbzie says:

    “I revel in your muffled tones.” Perfection. I’m here, in northern Indiana, in single-digit weather, with a blanket of snow on the ground, two-hour delays for schools, and bright sunshine now at dinnertime. I also have my share of artwork to do, and a cozy little spot in front of a basement walk-out window where I can gaze at the snow covering the steps. I love it as well, Susan, and I wish I had your gift for getting up at the ungodly hour you do, and having the start of the day to yourself in the silence of dawn. I find my creative juices start to flow after my day is done, after my kindergarten granddaughter has been put to bed, after my household chores are taken care of. Hubby falls asleep on the couch around ten or eleven, and I creep downstairs for a few hours of drawing and painting my ornaments for the many after-Christmas orders I received last year. Around the time you’re stirring to get up, I’m heading up the stairs to wake hubby up and climb in bed. I’m getting a little too old for this routine, but it’s how I’m wired. I’d prefer the freshness of the morning darkness to the nighttime darkness that I am surrounded by while I work, and I hope someday to switch it up a bit, if I can. Thanks again for the glimpse into your life, and into your “world.” Have a lovely snowstorm! barbzie

    • sbranch says:

      It’s how you’re wired and how I’m wired, we all have these things, can only do what comes naturally, and lucky that we’re able to find that sweet spot no matter where it is.

  95. Diana of Ohio says:

    I’m so glad you mentioned Outlander! I loved that book. I thought at first it was going to take me forever to read as it is so thick but I couldn’t put it down. Also glad to hear there is someone else that is up at 4 in the morning. Everyone thinks I am weird as I can’t ever sleep past 6. Have always been a morning person but not that early only the last few years.

    I can’t believe all the things you like I also like or love as you do. I was so glad that Downton Abbey this week turned out as it did getting rid of Eva, I thought oh great another trouble maker we will have to contend with. Evidently Julian Fowles thought so too and glad he wrote her out. I didn’t like where that story line was going.
    Well have to go hunker down. As the temps here are going down,down down. That is one thing I disagree with you is winter. I really dislike winter and the cold. Always have. I have been cold since Nov. and probably won’t warm up till June! lol Have a great day and keep warm.

    • sbranch says:

      I hope you get out of there one day Diana! Poor baby!

    • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Oh Diana, maybe we should trade houses! Then I would be back home in Ohio and you will be living in sunny, DRY, 110 degree West Texas. You will be warm I promise! 🙂

      • Diana of Ohio says:

        I have thought of that in TX but I don’t like bugs and SNAKES! Don’t relish the idea of a rattle snake at my back door! Know someone that told of a rattle snake at the back door. Of course I found a timber rattler on the back road I lived on and it was dead. I went to get my shovel and my husband and by the time I got back it was gone. Someone had picked it up as we don’t see them to often in Ohio. I know it was dead because it had been ran over with a vehicle. So I guess someone else came along with the same idea but they had a shovel!

        I would really love to visit West TX sometime, don’t know when. I have been to Dallas and loved it. Middle of August was a little hot but warmed me enough to get me through that winter. LOL

        • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

          My good friend Laurie in Ohio, only agreed to visit me in the winter, because she is terrified of snakes, all kind. Luckily, we never saw one the whole week she was here, but as long as it warms up, they are out and about. Jim said the biggest one he ever saw was on his birthday December 13th. We had enough rattle snakes last year to make me start dreaming of Ohio!
          But SHOULD you decide you want to see West Texas, we are here! Come visit, we would love to have you!

          • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

            Yikes, Chris–I never associated snakes with Texas! Get some guinea hens–they are death to snakes!

          • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W. TX says:

            Last year we killed 8 rattlesnakes. Usually it’s one or two a year, some years you don’t see any.
            It’s unnerving to say the least! You garden VERY CAREFULLY!

          • sbranch says:

            Chris! Eight? That would be funny if it wasn’t so scary! Yes, get yourself some guinea hens. They are very cute too, and seem loyal.

  96. Karlene says:

    Susan, if you love Diana Gabaldon, give Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati a try. This is the first in a multi-book series, each fat with adventure and romance. The series is always mentioned when Gabaldon’s series when people ask, “What do I read after Outlander?” Into the Wilderness begins right after the much-loved movie “The Last of the Mohicans” with Daniel Day Lewis ends. This one centers around Hawkeye’s and Cora’s son. LOVE it.

  97. Holly From Loveland CO says:

    Oh Susan, it’s so good to hear others love the quiet of winter. What lovely thoughts about being patient with yourself when it comes to creativity. (Must remember, note to self) I enjoyed your encounter with guinea hens. I have 11 chickens and they love looking in my art/tea room window. Such curious birds.

    Look forward to your 2015 calendar! Sounds so inviting already.

  98. Connie Sue says:

    OH, your getting us all in A tizzy over the new calendar! I am so in a tizzy over the 2014 one! I love the Bunny in the Garden!!! and the Lambie!!! So cute, the Guineas family walking with you and Joe!
    That is another one of the reasons I love your blog, getting to see the beautiful snow! We rarely get snow, when we do have Wintry Weather is it always ice!
    Susan Branch Embroidery Patterns-Priceless!! Do it!!!
    Stay Warm!!! hugs! Connie Sue

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll be sure to show more snow photos … I think we are going to wake up to something really fun tomorrow!

  99. Dee says:

    Dear Susan, I am totally with you. The sun is setting later here in the frozen North (MN) and I hate to see that! People think I am nuts but I love the cocoon feeling of winter and esp. the early dark and quiet mornings.

  100. MarySue says:

    You delighted me yet again! Oh thank you. I too went outside today. Ate my lunch in the back yard, Arizona 75 degrees and FaceTimed with my two Oregon sisters. Didn’t see any chicka chickas but the mister and I saw our first Javelina last night as we heard them knock over the neighbors garbage can. Desert living is unique and I sooo believe in the addage “Bloom where you’re planted”. Thank you again for sharing your personal life. I look deeply into each photo. And yes, Mr. Sandman…I remember hearing that as a little girl and loved that too. Ta da. MarySue

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