It’s Friday and tomorrow it’s MARCH (rabbit-rabbit).  Just when we’re dreaming of spring, here comes thirty-one days of chill (in like a lion) known as March Madness. And it’s the weekend.  Do you have plans?  Hey, you darling California people, enjoy that rain, stay away from mud, drive carefully!  I’m thinking about you! MUSICA.

cozy weekend

It’s a great weekend for MOVIES, plus we have the Oscars on Sunday — hope the rain is over by then so the stars don’t cover up their dresses!  I’m trying to figure out our Oscar Menu that night.  Peah-Ci-da to start!  Because the month of March seems to last forever, I think of it as a time to get things done so when Spring actually arrives, I’ll be exercise girlFREE.  I try to get as much out of every abnormally long and never-ending day as humanly possible.  It’s a healthy-eating, organizing (with Kellee and Sheri, thinking about what new things we can get for our web store this year, what new designs we can come up with, we were on the phone for two hours yesterday, plotting!); it’s a cleaning-the-studio and getting-ready kind of time, vacation and garden planning, being cozy reading a good book (I’m reading Goldfinch ~ (did I say Hummingbird?) ~ has anyone read it?  I’m barely into it, but the writing is great so far).  It’s such a thick book ~ I can live inside this book for a while.  I hope it turns out to be nice in there.


diary book

Since we went to England, a very long time ago, I’ve not had the chance to really clean my studio!  New piles get added to old piles, and you can almost hear them groan.  So, with next year’s calendars finally done, that’s how I’ve been spending the last week, filing, organizing, throwing away.   I’ll have you know it is heaven in here right now.  I can see the tops of tables.  Shocking! And I thought I’d give you a little tour of what’s on my front burners: THIS ↑ in all its glory, may look like a mess to you, but it’s actually everything I need to write a diary about my first little house on the island, drawings and memories.  I’m always scribbling something, I write while I watch TV, when I first wake up, in restaurants and while we’re driving and these are stories gathered over the years that have been piling up.  Now I get to organize them into some sort of sense that spells B-O-O-K.  Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know yet.  I compare the process to sweeping the kitchen floor.  All the tiny bits and pieces are scattered to every corner, I sweep and sweep and the crumbs and kitty hairs come closer to each other, I sweep some more until they are one solid thing in the dust pan.  That’s book writing.


Pancake Book

And then there is this  pile to consider.  It’s everything I need, recipes, stories, and sketches to write a book all about tea and tea parties.  This will be my prettiest book ~ think dishes, teacups, creamers, flowers, delectable desserts and delicate sandwiches.

pancake book

Then of course there’s this, my Pancake Book, like a giant lump of clay just begging to be shaped into something that brings all of you home for breakfast on a snowy morning or outside for a summer brunch under the roses.  It doesn’t look cozy from here, but trust me, this pile of paper is like warm-just-from-the-dryer flannel jammies personified.  Every time I make something delicious for breakfast, the recipe goes into this pile. This book will also have the story about my mom called Pancakes which some of you have read.


shell hunting

There are more piles in here, a read-aloud Christmas Story, a couple of How-To books about Creativity, a pile of sketches I would like to paint (and paint and paint).  I don’t lack for something to do.  But you can see above, this is where my heart of heart lives, even in this freezing weather . . . this is where my dreams go to grow.  When I do this, I am happy, and I’ve been doing it since I moved here, always to the same place.  Martha’s Vineyard, empty wide beach.  Snow is gone for the moment, so we take advantage of it.


For the all too important work of shell collecting.  It’s spring and I can’t have enough yellow things in my house right now.  These paper thin shells are called Jingle Shells (like the song) or Mermaid’s Toenails.


Quite perky for a windowsill.



My destiny, isn’t it a kind of meditation?  Salt water seashore and cold winter wind and jingling seashells?


And now, this morning.  I come downstairs and it’s still dark and I turn on the light over the stove to make my tea.

GirlAnd there is the little Missy, already downstairs, waiting for me.  I love how her eyes need to adjust to the light . . . I grab the camera.

Girl KittyBlink-blink-blink, she squints at me.  And then . . . clickity-click down the stairs comes the King of the Roost, the Lord of the Manor, he who is waited on hand and foot, Jack.

kitty love

He goes straight to Girl as he always does ~ but normally he never gets this close, she runs long before he can get to her.  Leaps across the kitchen table in a single bound if need be, to get away from him.  But this morning, I think he got a kiss!

kitty kisses

I couldn’t move too much or I would scare them and this is too rare, but look at that…. don’t you think he’s getting a kiss?  Look at her feet.  She’s such a dainty Girl.

That's enough of that!

So much for that, the romantic moment doesn’t last long — she’s outta there, enough is enough!


So, have a fun rest-of-the-day!  Here  are a few more ways to get the most out of March!  I’m off to see my friend Margot’s newest art project with two of our girlfriends today, and then the four of us are going to LUNCH.  I love to go to Lunch with the girls ~ one of the things that makes for a red letter day. 

Girlfriends  Have you had lunch with your girlfriends lately?  If not, wouldn’t now be a good time to put a date on your calendar, something fun to look forward to?  You need to catch up!  Have yourself a wonderful weekend!  Bunny-Bunny, Girlfriends.  XOXO

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

594 Responses to MARCH MADNESS

  1. Sondra Daugherty says:

    I’ve been a beach comber and shell collector for years here in the Pacific Northwest, but I’ve never seen those bright yellow shells! So beautiful! Another good reason to visit Martha’s Vineyard. Love love your blog , especially like to see your kitties! My boy cat likes to watch the videos of Jack on YouTube!

    • Rebecca from Riverbank says:

      Those beautiful golden shells wash up on our beach in Niantic, Connecticut too – so delicate for something tossed about in the tides! My Grammy always called them gold doubloons or pieces of eight, so naturally we kids went on endless adventures to hide them from the pirates we knew were coming back for them any minute.

      • Rebecca from Riverbank says:

        Susan, your blog is the highlight of my days off! I sit down with a steaming cup of tea & my 2 kitties & have such lovely visits with you. 🙂 Thank you for being such an inspiration! (I should have written this FIRST, but I was so excited to see our long-lost pirate treasure, I think it addled my brain!)

  2. Debby says:

    Just back from a great antiques show and I get a Jack sighting. It made my day, love that funny guy. Thanks Susan! Debby

  3. Rhonda :) says:

    Hello dear Susan and all you lovely Friends~ Hey, I don’t know whether this has ever been mentioned before, but there is a wonderful catalog you ladies will surely enjoy! I just received it and immediately thought of you all. One can find therein all sorts of fabulous English things, like Peter Rabbit pillows, figurines, and books and little lamb ornaments, etc. Lots of beautiful English porcelain and more fun things. See: and have fun! Thanks for the wee taste of spring, dear Susan. We have snow clear up to the roof and more falling here in ye olde wildes of Wyoming. Brrrrr! Hugs to you all, Rhonda 🙂

  4. WA Judy says:

    I am so jealous of your shells and beachcombing! Sometime please just box up a few of your shells and give them away in your drawings. I ask my friends when they travel to bring me a shell. Love them…..

    • judi says:

      Ha, Judy, living near the gulf I have LOTS of shells. I ask my friends when they come down from the “north” for the season to please bring me ROCKS! I love rocks and there are none down here:( judi

  5. Anne says:

    Jack is getting to be a big boy! March is for doing taxes – blah and yuk 🙂 Just read Anna Quindlen’s new one – “Still Life w/Bread Crumbs” it’s soooo good – highly recommend xoxo

  6. Hello,
    Loved your post today. INSPIRED…this is how it made me feel.
    I am so excited to start my spring cleaning and Easter decorating next week. It is time to bring spring inside, because our Wisconsin snow will take a long while to melt. 🙂
    We also plan to do a house project. Remodeling our bathroom. FUN! New decorating ideas on the way.
    Have a great weekend.

    • Carol (Daisy) says:

      I am from s.e. Wisconsin tolerating the snowiest Wisconsin winter I can remember in a long, long time!! We, too, were wondering when we would ever be able to get outside in the yard. Hurry Spring, hurry fast!! We are finishing up a remodeling project and that also needed some toleration. 🙂 Good luck with your project.

  7. Gena says:

    Bunny, bunny, foot, foot–Hahaha, I like this one, too. Thanks Susan for your blog. I always, always find something I connect with. Now, as one girlfriend to another, I want to tell you that I found the most adorable set of Peter Rabbit paper boxes at Target. Have you seen them? I plan to put goodies in them for Easter. <3

    • sbranch says:

      Target is on the other side of our water, so no — but I’m surprised how many new Beatrix things seem to be on the market. Lucky us!

  8. Laurel in VA says:

    Love your book ideas – the one about your house sounds like so much fun! I’m about halfway through with A Fine Romance and am loving it 🙂 It’s so exciting to turn each page – they are all so pretty. Now you’ve got me dreaming about visiting Merry Ole England! We’ve got more snow predicted Sun & Mon – boo – I’m so ready for spring…..reading about the gardens in your book gets me itching to plant my flowers & veggies. Being snowed in gives me time to finish AFR! Stay warm & cozy 🙂

  9. Jane S. in PA says:

    I’m reading Goldfinch, too. The writing is very good, although some areas tend to go on a bit & the main character did stuff I wasn’t expecting. Am enjoying it on the whole. Love your piles of paper possibilities. So much to look forward to. Yaay!

  10. Gail Marie says:

    I love those golden shells too, I always find them here along Peconic Bay. My girlfriend Diane from the cape called them grandmothers toenails. Mermaid toenails sound a bit nicer. 🙂 look forward to those books! Waiting for the interactive ebook version of Fine Romance!

    • sbranch says:

      When a book is handwritten, there’s a problem getting it into ebook format. They need things to be typed, not little pages of art — otherwise you could look at it, but it wouldn’t flow in a readable way as does type.

  11. Terrie B says:

    Hello Cathy, (from Golden,Co.)
    I took notice that you were from Colorado. I moved from Durango, Co. to N.C. and I have regret it since the day I left Colorado. I met a woman from Golden a few years ago before I left and bought a horse from her, and Golden is a very beautiful town. I miss Colorado so very much, and wish that my financial situation was different that I could afford to move back. Anyway, just wanted to say Hi to someone from Colorado! Hope you don’t think that’s dumb!!!!!!:-)

    • sbranch says:

      My brother Brad lives in Durango ~ I can see why you would miss it and be homesick. Such a beautiful state!

  12. Terri says:

    Thank you for that last quote – and that reminder for girlfriends to have lunch together. I lost a very dear, long-time friend on Friday. Together with another long-time friend, we had been the 3 Musketeers for over 30 years. Our friend had moved to another state recently to be near her children. The two of us left behind, waiting to hear, had lunch together, then were able to have a last phone call with her, while a blessed hospice volunteer held the phone to her ear (God bless hospice volunteers). It was the two of us doing all the talking, since she could not, but I feel certain she heard and felt our love. So glad we had each other to buck one another up through it…I don’t know how either of us would have coped on our own, with it. I’m sharing this, not for sympathy – I’m sad yes, but at peace, knowing she’s not hurting now – but I do want to encourage others to reach out. Make those calls, mail those cards, have those lunches, those conversations – build all those memories while you can. And take lots of pictures, whether you think you look good in them or not. Trust me – you’ll be so glad you did, later. Even the really silly or blurry ones – even those that aren’t as flattering to one or another of you. Someday you will treasure every one of those souvenirs of your time together, even if you were having a bad hair day or were wearing your sweats, at the time. There will come a day when you’ll want to see and relive those moments. They will help you remember how to smile again.
    As for the weather here, yes – thank heavens, rain, at last!

    • sbranch says:

      How awful for you Terri. I can’t even imagine. I am so glad she is free and your love for her and sweet memories are what are sustaining you. Thank you for the dear advice. xoxo

      • Susan P. says:

        Dear Terri, You are so right about staying in touch and picture taking. Sorry of your lost of your good friend….I to have two girlfriends we call ourselves 1 2 3 and A B C….we can not get together as much as we want ….so we have a morning tea at my grand babies home…(they both work) and it is the best thing we do to stay in touch….they laugh at me for taking pictures. Thanks for the reminder of making memories. You mentioned rain so you also must be in the great state of California like me. God Bless you and your friends…Love, Susan P.

      • Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

        Terry – to imagine that she got to hear your voice & your love before she passed…….and you have so many treasures & reminders of time spent together. I agree……she now has a smile on her face and is wrapped in the arms of the angels with NO pain. However, I send you hugs & know that I carry you in my heart…….OOOO Pat

      • Terri says:

        Thank you, Susan – both for your kind words and for shining your light here. On days when I need a lift, I know I’ll find something here that will help get me out of my head (or maybe keep my head on straight, as the case may be…).

        • Terri says:

          Susan P., I love your ‘ABC/123,” name. Let them laugh at the picture taking (mine have) – but they’ll be glad of it later on (we are).
          You’re right, Pat, we were so lucky to have that last phone call. I love that image you painted, of her smiling, wrapped in the arms of an angel.
          Many thanks to you both for your kindness. Hug your girlfriends!

          • sondra fox says:

            I’m wishing that each & every one of you GF’s have, or had, some GF’s who you were really close to. I lost two GF’s who were like sisters to me. Oh, how I miss them, but I’m fortunate to have two other friends who are dear to me, again, just like sisters. They all have been like angels sent from heaven to help me through this life. Husbands are wonderful to talk with, but there’s nothing like talking with a close female friend. Even better than a psychiatrist. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  13. Charlene says:

    Good morning, Susan. I loved everything about this post…the kitties, the shells and the promise of new books in the future. They all sound amazing and I can’t wait, no matter which one comes first.

  14. Jack says:

    Out of curiosity I researched those little gold shells —- commonly called Mermaids Toenails , Jingle Shells or Oyster Saddles…… Much sought after and used in making
    Commercial and homemade jewelry .
    They are a bivalve mollusk , attach themselves to Oysters and Mussels in the same way that Mussels attach to pilings , with a growth through that small hole at the top of their bottom half shell . Their meat is extremely bitter , eaten raw , so I don’t think cooking would change that feature.
    They do have a Latin Name but no common name like Oysters and they come in other
    colors on beaches all the way from Iceland to South America

    • sbranch says:

      Neat Dad! I wonder if seagulls like the meat. It couldn’t be much of a mouthful though, they are so small. xoxo

  15. Annette McD says:

    Loved your Blog today. I can’t wait for your tea party book. We serve tea at work every Sunday afternoon and would love to have your ideas and try some new recipes. Do you have an estimated date of its publication? (I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m trying to rush you).

    • sbranch says:

      No estimate right now! Sorry, but you know I will for sure let everyone know here on the blog.

  16. Sandra Mailey says:

    How can it be March already?! Especially when we are waiting for yet another snow/ice storm! Old Movies, wonderful books, grilled cheese sandwiches, and tomato soup – exactly the right suggestions for days like these!
    Thanks so much for inspiring us to tackle all those “projects” in preparation for the blissful days ahead. This IS the perfect time for all the cleaning, sorting and rearranging that needs to be done.
    It is also good to hear about some of the books that are in the offing. Yet another thing to add to our list of “Reasons To Go On Living”!

  17. Nancy says:

    Hi Susan, I just finished an hour of indoor cycling at our YMCA. When we were told to visual something fun for our ride, I thought about the beach on Martha’s Vineyard and your wonderful posts. The time went so quickly. Have an awesome Sunday!

    • sbranch says:

      I read while I ride my bike and it makes the time fly by and sometimes I go longer than my 45 min. when my book is doing something exciting! Good for you, doing your exercise!

  18. Joan in Dallas says:

    Looking forward to your new books! Poor Jack he was just trying to be friendly! I love the photos of Girl kitty in your Peter Rabbits room post, esp. when she is laying on the bed with her little arm stretched out. Took your advise and had tomato soup and a grilled cheese for lunch today except I’m watching 84 Charing Cross Road movie right now and crocheting in front of the fireplace. Perfect soup weather today. Yesterday it was 81° and birds were chirping like it was Spring and today it’s 24°! Poor confused birds – they are going to fly to south Texas and never come back next winter. My kitty is bundled in her soft blanket in her basket next to the couch. And looking forward to the Oscars tonight! Turned your calendar to March yesterday. Sure wish I had the stuff on hand to make the Irish coffee recipe on your calendar – it sure would hit the spot today.

  19. Mary Ann in Missouri says:

    It’s a balmy 7 degrees here in mid-Missouri, but at least we didn’t get the 10″ of snow they were calling for. I just had to tell you that I am cooking up a big batch of your Touchdown Chili for dinner tonight. It really warms us up on the inside and is such a comforting meal. Enjoy your day!

  20. Sharon Suzanne says:

    Thanks to you all I am now a Downton Abbey fan but also I’ve gotten hooked on Doc Martin! Never thought I’d like it but it grows on you! Saw the episode with his parents, boy THAT explains a lot!
    Just as I thought Spring had arrived with crocus and snowdrops….more snow on the way….yuck.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Good Day Sharon Suzanne! So glad to hear from somebody who loves watching Doc Martin. Really enjoying the new 6th episode series and so like Martin Clunes and of course the lovely village of Port Isaac in Cornwall where the show is filmed. We get it here on the West Coast at 7pm on PBS Channel 28 on Saturday evenings! I would love to communicate back and forth with you directly should you wish to share your email. Have a delightful day!

    • Tawni urrutia says:

      We love that Doc Martin too!
      I think in a few more weeks Call the Midwife starts season 3!

      • sondra fox says:

        I love any of those English TV series. Couldn’t wait for the Doc Martin series to begin anew. The Midwife series is terrific as well. You can get “all” on Netflix if you’re a subscriber. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  21. MaryAnn says:

    What wonderful things you have planned for us—I look forward to each of your books. It is hard to know which one to want you to do first! I must admit I love tea things. Glad you spent time with friends. That is so important. We spent the day yesterday watching a grandson race his little car in their Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. We drove 100 miles for it and then drove back home through a snowstorm. But we wouldn’t have missed it. Got pictures, made memories!

  22. Martha B says:

    Oooooooh, more lovely books to look forward to! And always love the photos of the kitties, so cute. Think Spring! We change the clocks next week! And, speaking of change, I haven’t changed my calendars yet. I just changed YOURS, hanging near the computer.

  23. Susan Taylor says:

    It’s even cold in the high 30’s and expecting sleet/snow later on..good thing about Texas, this weather only last a couple ofdays..

  24. Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

    I am soooo excited ……. it is share time from me to all of the BFFs. I have to admit that I haven’t read your blog yet, Susan – been a little busy and want to do it when I am quiet….But just had to share!!!!! My Grandson got married on Friday to a beautiful girl and they have a handsome 8mo old son, Felix. This is exciting in itself BUT the real excitement was that I was sworn in as a Deputy Commission of Civil Marriage and got to perform the ceremony for them!!!! They were married by their Grandmother!!!! How perfect is that!!!!! They were married in her parents home with a few friends and the family. It was absolutely PERFECT!! Reception at a hotel with just the right amount of people, laughter, joy and tears. And then…….I spent the night at the hotel in order to get my groove back again!! You see……I did all of the work putting the wedding & reception together. Mr. & Mrs. Nic Johnson & Felix were oh so appreciative. This all happened because I asked the right questions at the right time. Only found out I could do this 2 days before the ceremony because we had a huge rain storm and they were going to travel to the courthouse in another city and I was trying to get them closer to home. I do believe that God was on my side during this. Enough……..and THANK GOD!!

    • Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

      P.S. Now that I got a chance to read what you wrote……I loved the pic of your stove, oh so early in the morning…..and the Mermaid Toenails are wonderful! I keep sea shells in my bedroom & up at the cabin – can’t get too far away from the sea. No rain tonight – there are millions of stars out, twinkling away and I got to see my Fred’s star and say “good night – I love you.” Always makes me feel warm & toasty. I would love to see the book about the house you bought on the island oh so many years ago. Made me think that I might write something for my kids and grandkids on that same subject. Ummmmmm….. Hugs your way!

    • sbranch says:

      Pat, how fantastic, how darling of you, that is just great! Lucky lucky kids — such a wonderful memory, as much for you as for them! xoxo

  25. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Girl Kitty is soooooooooo precious!!!! Jack is soooooooooo energized!!!! A perfect balance between the two!!!!! So fun to turn the page of your 2014 wall calendar for the new month. It’s like hanging a new piece of artwork every month!!! Happy March to you!!!!

  26. Cindy Tuning says:

    So excited that there will be a Tea Book! I’m sure the pictures will be enchanting. It is cold and snowy outside but quite springlike in the house. I have a weakness for bunnies,pastels and all things spring and just can’t stop myself this time of year. I cannot leave the grocery store without one or two bunches of flowers…tulips, roses, daffodils..they’re everywhere. I put a pendant garland up in the den for no apparent reason other than it’s so pretty. A while back,my doorbell rang and it was a friend that I use to work with but hadn’t seen in a few years. She said that she really needed Spring and knew that she would find it at my house. That always warms my heart when I think of that.

  27. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I love March and today would have been my Mom’s 100th birthday! She loved chocolate and the more rich it was the better. As a result, we always tried to make the most decadent chocolate cake we could find. In Virginia, March brought us the forsythia, crocuses and daffodils to enjoy while the tulips took more time. You are so right. It was a celebration of YELLOW! There is hope in yellow and even if the weather is snowy and stubborn, if those crocus and daffodils were not deterred , one knew it was just a matter of time until we could open the windows and change out flannel PJs for long sleeve and long legged seersucker PJs. Did you have spring PJs from seersucker in the 1950s??

  28. Sandy Richmond says:

    Hello Susan and Girlfriends, I wanted to check in with everyone. First of all,,thank you to my secret girlfriend that sent the baby book. That was a perfect gift at the perfect time. My granddaughter is due in less than three weeks now! I continue to be blessed with family, friends, and co-workers. My church family gets me to Mass Gen and back for appts. I am on a stronger dose of’chemo now,,one week on, three weeks off. I am working full time for theppp most art. Need to take some days to sleep. I had a great visit from one of my brothers, sis in law and niece (who was home on break from teaching in China). My other brother is,coming in July and we are going to see James Taylor at Tanglewood.! On the topic of girlfriends, I still go out nearly every Saturday for shopping and lunch. I try to stay positive . Happy is my new favorite song., My husband still,can’t drive (nor can I).,, and he still has visiting nurses almost daily.. Counting my blessings, believing in miracles, waiting for the new baby and warmer weather, Enjoy these posts! Sandy in Attleboro

    • sbranch says:

      Sandy you are amazing! I can’t wait for that baby to come! You must be like a kid waiting for Christmas to hold that new life in your arms. I love how your family and friends are rallying around you. I guess that is what happy truly is. Please let us know the moment the baby arrives so we can cheer for you. JAMES TAYLOR at Tanglewood, how heavenly, lucky lucky YOU! xoxo

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        Great, great, great to hear from you Sandy! Been thinking about you [and sending all good thoughts]. You must be too-excited about your coming granddaughter. What fun you’ll be having! My mom always said grandchildren, like children, can’t quite be described until you actually have them – all the fun and none of the responsiblity! Take care, rest up and grow stronger! ❤️

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Dear Girlfriend Sandy,
      I am so thrilled to hear from you! I have not forgotten you and I pray for you often! (You are in my heart!) Good to hear that you are surrounded by loving friends and family to help you through. And things to look forward to–James Taylor-ahhh! and a baby girl–yum-yum! How sweet it will be to hold her! I have two grandsons now and a baby granddaughter–about 3 months old now. And she is such a girly-girl–even so young, you can just tell! Count your blessings–yes! such good medicine! God is good. All the time.

    • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Dear Sandy,
      Thank you so much for writing and letting us know how things are going and what you have been up to. And for sure let us know about that granddaughter! I know how excited you are….and she will soon be here.
      And James Taylor…….oh my!
      So many of us here on the blog keep you in our daily prayers. This internet form of friendship doesn’t allow us to make meals or drive you to appointments, but boy, we know how to pray!
      Continuing to find joy and keeping the faith is half the battle. And you are doing GREAT!

  29. Jackie P says:

    Just returned from a four-day-weekend on the Cape with my two girlfriends. We were celebrating someone’s birthday, so we each brought a dinner to prepare, lots of wine and goodies and of course, a birthday cake with whipped cream and berries. Each had her project — rug hooking, crocheting and cross-stitching. Dinner at the Cape house (we call it the “nest”), in front of the fireplace, looking out at the sea, working on projects, watching movies, walking the beach (collecting flat rocks this time) with small dog in tow . . . what could be better? Was happy to see two blogs from SB to catch up with when I arrived home tonight– helps integrate me back into my routine.

  30. Joanna Lyn says:

    when you make new recipe books, will you please please include a sugar substitute in them for those of us who aren’t supposed to have any? 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      You probably know more about cooking with sugar substitutes than I do . . . what is your favorite kind?

      • Sweet Sue says:

        Stevia is the best! And yes I would like some recipes using Stevia instead of sugar. Thanks!

  31. Crystal says:

    Hi Susan,

    Again, thank you so much for writing the blog and being a spot of sunshine in a very snowy day. Your positive attitude and of course your creativity lift my spirits. Unfortunately, I have a very painful chronic illness and I can get really down from the pain and catch myself really dwelliing on it. This is when I can count on you blog to bring me to more happy thoughts.

    • sbranch says:

      Thinking of you Crystal … on the days when I don’t update the blog — have you looked at the icons at the top of the page and down the side? There are lots of other posts up there, in case you haven’t see them. Here’s to your happy thoughts xoxo ♥

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Crystal, I am so sorry to hear of your pain! You are on the right track by trying to stay distracted and to dwell on Susan’s happy thoughts. Here’s another idea from Susan’s blog. Hover over the “I Love England” icon at the top of the page. Then go down to the Appendix for A Fine Romance. There are two ways to enjoy–by alphabetical order or by page. This is the neat part: our Darling Sue made each section different! You can search the appendix either way and find hours of lovely distractions!
      Hope this helps!
      Love, a Girlfriend,

  32. Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

    Hi Susan, It has been eons since I have posted, but I have kept up to a degree. I don’t read all the girlfriend comments. Remember I needed more me time. I still get up around 4:30am thanks to you. These are my favorite shells. You hit the mother load. They are hard to come by. Their name is “Capiz”.
    I do like the nick names though. Well I thought by now Miss Kitty would love Jack’s company. A new “kitten” for Jack would be nice. 🙂 Betty Marie, Pennsylvania

    • sbranch says:

      I would love to give Jack a new kitten, but I’m afraid of the “house balance!”

      • Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

        Well that ‘s true…..:)

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        ~ I heard someone once say they were expecting their third child to which the person they were talking to say ” Congratulations, you are officially out numbered!” ~ Does that apply to pets too? ~ Do you think they would know that and act upon it like kids might?!~ we have never had more than 2 pets ~ fur babies~ at one time~

        • sbranch says:

          I had three cats when I lived alone and I felt it was a very good balance. I don’t think it’s quite the same since they don’t wear clothes, can’t tell you what they want to eat (in detail), don’t need to be driven to their friend’s houses.

          • Holly says:

            I vote for 3. When we got the new kitten last year, it was mainly for our 5 yr old girl kitty. But she didn’t want anything to do with her. It was the 2 yr old boy who became her mother. Baths, letting her “nurse” his tummy, followed her around like a ninny, he just loved her to no end. We began to call him “uncle Moochie”. They are now best of friends and chase each other everywhere. He still needs to know where she is. And the two girls sleep in a big kitty bed(rubbermaid box w/quilts) near my desk. They all keep us amused and smiling!

          • sbranch says:

            I got Jack for Girl too, but what if I got another and Jack didn’t like it and neither did Girl? And there’s no such thing as trying it. You are so lucky!

    • Jack says:

      Capiz , lapis , Windowpayne Oysters flourish in the Gulf of Aden and the Phillipines
      In deeper waters down to 350 feet . They are edible — a different family from the Cape bivalves

  33. Caitlin says:

    I can’t believe it’s March already! My birthday is the 15th and I’m ushering in a new decade, it’s exciting. We’re expecting a baby in June and my spring cleaning is a crazy compulsion. I LOVED the Goldfinch. I just think that her writing is incredible, particularly the dialogue. She has the ability to write how people really talk, which is so rare. Some of the subject matter is sad but I just think it is a masterfully written book. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I’m happy to hear that Caitlin…seems so many people are loving this book. Happy birthday to you, happy new baby too!

  34. judy says:


  35. Hi Sue!

    Anticipation = A “Shot-in-the-Arm” for Spring! So exciting to think about piles of papers! Your papers + Your Paintings = Books! Hip-hip Hooray! Just one more pile would make me smile: A “House of Stewart-Hall” book! Hint! Hint!

    Thought of you: “Home is Where Your Story Begins”; more Heart Art!

    Happy Monday ===> Moo-wah!
    Bunny XO

  36. Maureen says:

    Just wanted to remind everyone that is recovering from Downton Abbey withdrawl – that the BBC series “Call the Midwife” is back for a 4th season in my area March 30th – I belive Susan told us about that series and I went to the library and watched all the previous seasons – love it and can’t wait for it to start –

  37. Kathy d says:

    Love that stove photo! So cozy, warm and enchanting.

  38. NANCYJO says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just ordered the Goldfinch. It did get missed reviews, but it looked interesting to me. How are you liking it?
    Nancy Jo

  39. Christy in SoTex says:

    Haven’t chimed in on the comments in quite some time, but rest assured I greedily read your posts like parched ground soaks up the rain. Your blog (and Willard) is like a bright ray of sunshine that just broke through a cloudy sky; always makes me feel better and gives me such a needed pick-me-up.

    I particularly enjoy reading the little quotes and quips you add throughout your posts. I was curious about the last one and it’s source. I loved it so much because I am so very blessed to have several girlfriends who fit the bill just perfectly and I wanted to share the quote with them. I searched it and found that the author is actually George Eliot, a nom de plume for a female author named Mary Ann Evans. I think she wrote it sometime around 1819. Regardless of who wrote it, it is such powerful and heartwarming quote and I love it. Thanks for finding it and sharing it with us.

    On another note about this crazy weather–Sunday at 2:00 p.m. it was 79 degrees here. By 9:00 p.m. it was 28 degrees!! I had to bring all my plants in. AGAIN. This is unheard of for this time of year in south-central Texas. I do envy you your snow, though. I miss it, so thanks for posting the lovely pictures of your winter wonderland!


    Christy in SoTex

    • sbranch says:

      I know some folks think it was George Eliot, but actually it’s from chapter 16 of a book by Craik called A Life for a Life written in 1859. I know because when I was writing the Girlfriend’s book I wanted to use that quote, but I was confused as to who actually wrote it ~ so my publisher (Little Brown) had their legal department research it and this is what they concluded. For what it’s worth. I agree, it’s good no matter what! But always nice to give credit where credit is due.

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        I love that you know this! … and always give credit where credit is due:) I checked the quote I have calligraphied on my wall and yes, it says George Eliot. Now I know a new bit of trivia. You’re one smart cookie … and are making us all smarter ♥

  40. Mary in Phoenix says:

    1. Did you know so many girlfriends wanted a Tea Book? Fiddle-De-Tea!!!
    2. Did you ever consider your next trip across the pond could be justified by your need to get away and write your next book?
    3. Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams having hundreds of kindred spirits and connecting so many people?
    4. Did you ever realize in your quest for 8 hands that you are the Queen of Accomplishment?
    5. Did you ever hear of the Goddess Lakshmi? You remind me of her … she has 4 hands, her aura is PINK and she radiates illumination. Lakshmi is aligned with light, love, beauty, prosperity, calm, happiness and all-encompassing good fortune. She is the Goddess of the Home ♥
    So light a pink candle, hold a sparkler in your hand and smile that illuminating smile. For … “When you’re happy, when you’re happy, the whole world smiles with you … be-da-be-da-ba … When you’re laughing, when you’re laughing, the sun comes shining through…” Musica by Louis 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      1. Did you ever realize how darling you are?

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        🙂 XO

        • Sweet Sue says:

          Thanks Mary for your blog… made me smile out loud as well as Susan’s reply.
          Oh, let the sun shine in face it with a grin smilers never lose and frowners never win…. Oh, let the sun shine in face it with a grin ….Open up your heart and let the sun shine in! Hugs to you this day!

  41. Gladys Marie says:

    Susan, thank you for sharing the “WONDERFULNESS” of Life & Light & Love. Our moments are enriched, even with tears of a tender heart & joy that brings a giggle. ❤ Thanks “GM”

  42. katherine says:

    Love the fleeting kitty kisses. Cat house dynamics are entertaining. We have two inside kitties that are sisters, they tolerate one another. We have three outside kitties/or rather old lady cats that come inside to warm up and that makes for interesting times…startles, hissing and cats careening around corners. Love the sea shells. Can’t wait for all the new books – how exciting. My daughter and I have started a Susan book collection. I just got your Recipe Traditions 3 ring at Micheal’s. SO I am getting my recipes organized! And ooops I am a bit behind -just flipped my Susan calendar to March..I was still enjoying February…but now we are a bit closer to – there I see it SPRING…March 20th! and then on to April and May – my very favorite months of the year!!
    Take Care!

  43. Debs OBrien says:

    The shells! Such amber~coloured prettiness ~~ little beauties, promising of Summer~~~oh! Spring, where art thou Spring?

    It is Shrove Tuesday ~~~ or Pancake Day ~~~ today isn’t it? I sure hope so, because I just made the batter to have crepes with lemon juice, butter, and sugar after supper tonight. Looking forward to them ~~~ I do so love pancakes!

    Waving from Across The Pond is Deb in Wales! xoxo

    Anyone who reads this, can you please put out some vibes for my computer please? It is old, Twitter keeps crashing it {and I’m daft enough to keep on trying to get on there!} as do all the ‘big’ sites, and I’m hoping I don’t have to wait for Father Christmas to bring me a new one.

    • sbranch says:

      Only thing I wonder, are you backing up? If you have anything valuable on your computer like photos or something, this would be the time to save them to an external drive. It’s easy, you just plug them in and the computer does the rest. I’m sure you already thought of this Debs, but just in case.

      Praying for computer fairy for you. My girlfriend needed a computer desperately, and it needed to be a Mac which meant many dollars which she did not have. For her birthday all her friends chipped in what they could, and we got almost the exact amount of money she needed! Get your best friend to arrange something like that for you. Perfectly allowed. People love to help. Act very surprised. xoxo

  44. Donna Babbitt, Brea, Ca. says:

    OH Susan, most definitely a kiss………………I see the stationary paws; if not a kiss one would be raised for a good smack to Jack!! The paws tell the tail.

  45. Linda says:

    Susan after one of those mornings when NOTHING went right it was nice to read your March post… The only thing to make it better is a plate of POTATO HEAVEN my cure for just about anything. Thanks you for a tried and tried and tried and true recipe

  46. Shelly says:

    A book about Tea/Tea parties would be really neat. The pancake one would be lovely as well. Can’t wait to see what is next…

  47. mary spring says:

    …good morning, dear Susan…. a little twittering bird has told us all that you have begun…. ooooh, so happy !!..but I keep telling myself to be patient; obviously easier said than done !!… lol..

    • sbranch says:

      I’m in the corner, I have the broom, I have a few specks pointed toward the center, it’s begun. I have no idea how long it will take!

  48. Carol says:

    Love the quote about shell collecting. It fits well with my soul. I live in a 192 year old home that many refer to as “rustic” when they live in these very new Giants . . . no closets or storage have I and this does tend to lead to more clutter . . . but the house does have stories to tell. This winter being so long and very cold we have more mice then ever . . . they race in the ceiling at night and We are only hoping it is limited to mice:) but it makes me think of Tale of 2 Bad Mice and Roly Poly Pudding – heavens no rats though!! But just imagining the quaint tidy home they may have beneath the floorboards. Hoping that with spring weather they will move to a summer meadow home!!! We have just added a 3rd Kitty that made her way to our door during the very depths of this below zero winter. The vet was cautious at best about our adding a third but the original 2 are males and they have seemed to accept this lovely gal without any major issues so far. She is about a year old and ever so playful, that has been fun for every one as she zips around the kitchen , in and out of the chairs chasing toys , strings and crinkly paper. May spring come soon! We are very ready!!

  49. Rayma says:

    I saw on Twitter that you are writing a new book! Did you decide on a topic yet? I hope you decided to write a tea book! Think of all the great fun if you could take yourself and the girlfriends on a journey to research tea places in England or, how about Ireland?! Would love to take another trip vicariously with you!

  50. Wendy Louise says:

    I think I keep saying this over and over, but in this cold winter there are those that keep the true warmth flowing in the heart and you sweet person, it is nonstop ! So much joy you share with us all, I hope you feel it coming right back at you. You make Springtime even when I wake and it is 7 degrees out. There are light snow flurries flowing down ever so gently and it is magical. I think I will bundle-up and take my pup outside and lay down in our snow covered field and look-up to the sky. It gives the illusion you are floating in the air and sometimes it makes me dizzy, then I have to stop ! Thanks for your Love and wonder of our beautiful seasons. oxox
    P.S. I am so excited for your next project, you darling person !

  51. Ramona Horta-Riedeman says:

    Dearest Susan – I have just now caught up with your blogs. It’s been a little hectic here at my work lately. I find in reading them, one after the other, with all your lovely descriptions and pictures and especially all that warm yellow light, it almost makes me feel like I am there. And funny as it is to say, although I am in sunny California, it makes me wish I was there enveloped in that warm fuzzy yellow light, sitting by the fire too with all of you “girls”. On the way to dinner with our granddaughter who just turned “1” last Saturday. I can’t wait until Mother’s Day to give her your Mother to Daughter book which will be a great surprise! Thanks Susan for the greatest “escape” of the day for me! 🙂 Ramona from Atwater! 🙂

  52. Barbara in So.Cal says:

    Hi Susan,
    I have been wearing my glasses on a gold chain around my neck for many years now. I solve the messy food problem by always resting them on my head when sitting at a table or entering any other potentially dangerous situation like hugging someone or bending down for something. I like having my glasses right there with me at all times. I couldn’t have it any other way.So, I am in Joe’s camp on this one.

  53. I have always loved your artwork! Love your cats; they are adorable! I have 2 also; solid white with a huge fluffy tail and a orange and white one and a 8 yr old beagle. They are all girls.

  54. carmel says:

    Another wonderful reason to love Joe. And I can’t wait for your blotter calendar for next year! I love the January page. I miss using one for this year so much. Thanks for all the tips for this very dry air that’s making my hands look like the witch’s from the “Wizard of Oz.” Yes, your pancakes are delicious! I also use a pancake recipe with ricotta cheese and whipped egg whites folded in as a last ingredient. Also delish. Can’t wait for your breakfast book too. The warmer temperatures are melting our “ice bergs” here in the Washington, DC area. Birds have been chirping. Life is moving into spring!

  55. Dena says:

    As always love checking in with your blog , waiting to read one of those next books, your a busy lady.

  56. Lynn says:

    Unrelated to this post (although I adore my blotter calendar so can’t wait for 2015), I read that Pottery Barn Kids has a whole line of Beatrix Potter tableware. Obviously not vintage but you might want to look if you haven’t already. I love the table cloth.

  57. Cathy says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just finished reading A Fine Romance. Just love the book! I followed the almost the same route Joe and you took. The descriptions are right on! I wnet in May and June of last year, 2013 and it rained on me on several occasions to. I loved the sheep, duck, and peacocks and went I arrived at Ms. Potter’s cottage, there was a brown rabbit across the street and it was just like Peter rabbit. I could go on and on, thanks for reminding me of the great time I had. You are right, I would move there too. I am looking forward to your new book. I just received some books that you recommended ◾Elizabeth and Her German Garden Elizabeth von Arnim – Enchanted April and Ben Franklin.

    It is snowing here now in MI about 10″ so far and still going, a good day for tomato soup and grilled cheese and a good book. Cathy

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy you liked the book Cathy! Thank you for letting me know. Very magical place they have over there xoxo

Comments are closed.