Being Lazy . . .

Rabbit Rabbit, I’m back Girlfriends, didja miss me?  I been busy, oh so busy, doing nothing, being lazy . . .  MUSICA bunny-bunny

Hello Everyone

Each day I come to the studio with the intention of writing a new blog post, but the windows are wide open because the weather has been so wonderful and it gets light so early in the morning and the breeze is coming up from the harbor and the garden looks so pretty from the kitchen window so I go look at it, and what do I see, oh my, weeds, so I sit down to pull a few (under that awning they call the sky), and then it’s time for lunch and then I start writing my book and I can’t put it down until it’s time to go for a walk.  I think you get the picture. I needed what Gladys Taber said we all need . . .


 And so that’s where I’ve been.  Taking a long deep breath of home. Peeping through the deep tangled wildwood . . .  

hanging the wash

Hanging the napkins and tablecloth to dry on the line . . . while dreaming . . . 


planting flowers (Calibrachoa) while remembering . . .



Eating lunch in the garden. For those who read this blog, you probably remember — first we went to New York and when we got back I girl paintingneeded to prepare my AUTUMN book for publication, and then it was time to think about the talk I was giving at the Gladys Taber Reunion, and when we got home from that I got everything ready, made salads and plans for my four high school girlfriends who were coming from California for their first visits to the island. So it’s been go go go. And after they left, it was the brown birds and the butterflies that became the problem . . . it was this . . 

I meant to do my work

the garden

I didn’t fight it. I couldn’t, I needed to breathe it in and girl wateringrefill my inspiration cup, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Not really lazy.  So let’s start here, in the garden, and why not, It’s July! We are in the midst of summer.  Summer!   A little of this, a little of that, and we’ll be all caught up again . . . so here we go. Finally the roses are blooming . . .

new dawn rosesNew Dawn roses on the arbor ~ Joe put up the twinkle lights for the girls.


our walk

This is what our walk in the woods looks like right now! I took the girls every day they were here. I wish I could describe how wonderful it smells, all piney and woodsy, leafy and green, I think you can see why I love it so much.  A mile and a half out to the water and a mile and a half back.  Perfect.

out to the water

The reward at the end of the road.


I’ve been bringing the flowers from the garden inside so now I have a cottage garden outside, but my “kitchen garden” is now IN the kitchen.

hydrangeaSheri sent me the new Emma “jug” otherwise known as a “pitcher” ~ so adorable, it’s called “Rose and Bee” and there are matching mugs and tea towels too, I had to carry it around a bit, it’s been in every room in the house, but this is the spot I love it the best. Mrs. Rabbit-Rabbit agrees. We can keep our eye on it here.



guess who

Jack kept his eye on me while I was out cutting hydrangeas. And Vice Versa.  See him?

Just Joey and Just Jack

My first Just Joey rose is in bloom!  And Just Jack Just Loves It!

kitchen garden

 Every time I go outside I have to get out another little vase, I’m going to need another shelf soon.

jack and the birds

Jack keeps his eyes on the birds.



This is how the garden looks as the sun is coming up . . . sunlight brushes the tops of the pickets, and puts a bright spot on the golden cypress.


The delicate yet bold old-fashioned hollyhock.  Take a deep breath of that. (I already checked it for bees, you’re safe.) The crown of any cottage garden. I have two this year but they’re already on my list for next year, I need more, because I am berserk for these. They grow over six feet high and still manage to look very sweet.



Flowers.  The glory of the earth.


clover's in bloom

Even a lawn filled with clover flowers and flitting bees is lovely.  If you’re new to this blog, you might wonder about how my picket-fence garden came to be and if so, here’s my How-To Kitchen Garden.

catching up

You can blame these guys for my absence too.  I had to schmoosh them.  It kept me very busy.

Girl Kitty

Girl Kitty prefers her schmooshing to be very soft and gentle.  She likes to be carried over my shoulder like a baby and have her ears rubbed. Her mantra?

too much of a good thing


Jack would prefer to run and play, have me hold him up to look out of windows, have me bring in grass for him to smell.  His mantra?



They have been patient while I made salad dressing 


counting time


This is Jack, asleep on my art table next to Gladys Taber’s Especially Father book.  He fell asleep waiting for me to throw his rubber band. And then just as he thought he might get me back, I did this!


Lynn, Marilyn, Cathy, and Karen

natural beauty

But how could I not???  SO much fun!  The kitties have been very patient waiting for me to get home!  This is Lynn (above, from the left), Marilyn, Cathy and Karen (Karen I’ve known since I was nine . . . she’s the one I met the Beatles with, everyone else I met in Junior High School) . . . we are, as you can see, at Nancy Luce’s grave in West Tisbury, a Vineyard must-see as far as I’m concerned.  (If Nancy Luce doesn’t sound familiar to you, you can read more about her HERE.  Sometimes she’s known as the “Chicken Lady,” but she’s so much more than that.)


at the Blue Canoe

We had such a great time, dinner on the water and dinner under the arbor; after lunch on the harbor in Edgartown, we walked up North Water Street and looked at the old houses with Widow’s girlfriendsWalks, laughing about being on the drill team, our outfits, the routines, Miss Robathon, making our pom-poms at Marilyn’s house at a slumber party, going to Lake Arrowhead on spring break, boys we had crushes on.  It’s actually quite surprising how little I really knew about everyone. Like if they were the oldest or the youngest in their families.  Or how many brothers or sisters they had. Or something about the lives of their parents.  Things I would think I would know.  That’s because an amoeba has no brain and when I was in high school I was an amoeba, single-celled, as yet unformed. It was so fun to compare memories and meet each other as grown ups.

little necks

We ate icy raw littleneck clams and fresh hot steaming lobsters; we went shopping, we went to the Campground and to the lighthouses and to Menemsha . . . to every spot of interest we could think of.  We sang in the car, windows down, winding on the island roads, old songs, Like this one . . .still my most favorite thing to do in the world, sing in the car with the windows down, and it’s because of these people.  They started it.


It couldn’t have been better, but too soon it was time to

saying goodbye

say goodbye, waaaah.

wave bye bye

flower border


. . . and suddenly it was quiet and we were alone with no place to go . . . it took some adjusting . . .

clover garden

I could almost hear the clover growing.  It’s a very lovely sound.

whistling cup

 You can also blame my new book for my absense.  Because as my inspiration cup is filling, I wake up full of dreams, I make my tea and then I start to write and sometimes I can’t seem to stop. Every day a new detail gets added, a phrase, word, painting, photo, thought, remembered conversation, or song — I don’t want it to end. (“Reaching for the infinite.” GT)

BUT . . . here we are, hard to believe it’s already 


The fourth of July

Now it’s time to hang the flag . . .


I found it! And celebrate the birth of our nation.  I’ve been saving this to show you . . . I found it written in crayon on the back of an old Christmas Carol book.  This seems like the perfect time for it!

red white and blueTime for the red white and blue.

ending the night with a BANG

Time for fireworks . . .

Packing for the fireworksTime for a picnic . . .

cold rice salad. . . and all kinds of wonderful picnic foods . . . What are you bringing? . . . How about cold Lemon Rice Salad with lots of flower petals, delicious AND beautiful — here’s the RECIPE. 

Pineapple upside down cake

or the best picnic cake of them all . . . tender and moist, not too sweet . . .


 Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with a sticky brown-sugary edge and vanilla bean sauce.  Yum!  Here’s the recipe for that…

Picnic Squash Salad

Or, fresh from the garden, Squash Salad with Nasty Nasturtiums.  Easy, quick, delicious, the squash stays crisp, like pickles.  Try it!

squash salad

Before I go, in case you haven’t noticed, if you have my wall calendar hanging somewhere in your house, something is hideously girlartmissing from it.  You’ve probably figured it out, but if you haven’t, try not to look for July 31 because it’s just not there.  I have a weak, limp excuse and/or reason, and here it is, it comes also with a strong, forthright FIX . . . so go there to read more and add that little something to your calendar that all calendars should have.  The last day of July.

And one last little reminder for all of us
As Jack would say
Love you XOXO GO US
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407 Responses to Being Lazy . . .

  1. Debs OBrien says:

    Oh, Susan ~~~ there is no such thing as pulling just one weed ~~~ and who can blame you for being so distracted with all that lovelines to be distracted by?

    I turned my page to July today on my wall calendar ~~~ and off I went to dance barefoot in the grass! Such a happy quote to look at all month long!

    Do you dry your mopheads? I have been telling lovely people how to do it today so they can keep them all winter long ~~~ and I do so love the Rose and Bee ~~~ it is my favourite as I have an affinity with bees {my name is Hebrew for Bee!}

    I love how your art work of the ocean sort of blends with the photo of you and your friends ~~~ I thought it was a big mural of your work and you were sitting in front of it at first! Silly me 🙂

    Oh, and here is something I just found out! I didn’t know until the other day that I can have your wonderful magical blog showing up on my Blog Reading List even though we are on different sites! How grand is that? Now I don’t have to keep popping in and out I can keep an eye out via my Reading List!

    The weather in The Shire is glorious, not too hot or too cold, still a bit windy but that just makes the trees and flowers look as if they are joining in with me as I dance barefoot on the grass ~~~

    Waving from Across The Pond ~~~ Debs in Wales 🙂

  2. Mary in Phoenix says:

    Happy July! I can dig it! Thought of you last weekend as we were at the Long Beach Antique Flea Market. How does a Shawnee elephant creamer for $5 sound … or a Autumn Leaf Newport teapot for $10? So many treasures we never knew we needed! And next Sunday we will be up north at the Alameda Antique Faire … a place I know you love to go to 🙂 Enjoyed seeing pics of your special girlfriends. I count mine among my greatest treasures. Have the flags and swags up in Prescott where yesterday the 19 hotshots were remembered. Such a team of heroes they were. Happy July 4th to All ♥

  3. Rita Baker says:

    We need a “like” button on your blogs. Lovely photos, recipes – just the entire blog is perfect. Bless you and have a happy, safe 4th of July!

  4. mary spring says:

    …”rabbit, rabbit”, girlfriend (s) !!.. ‘can’t begin to tell you just how happy we are to hear from you !!.(.even tho in your posts you give us soooo much, it seems that we need more and more !!.. see what you’ve done to us ?!?).. so much to do and time goes by so quickly…and, yes, it’s July already !!’ve been doing amazing things and we are so fortunate that you like to share so much with us !!… thank you, again and again, Susan.. enjoy your summertime !!..xoxo…

  5. Laura says:

    Loved catching up!!! What’s the theme of the new book?


    • sbranch says:

      It’s a diary about moving to Martha’s Vineyard.

      • I’m going to love that new book, I already know it. I’ve said for years, even here on the old blog, that I would love to just crawl up in your world and live there. The new book will have me moving into it! Even though that would technically count as my 34th move, (say THAT without lisping) I will move. One last time. Love the new blog!!! And thanks for the yummy recipes!

  6. Ann Y in PA says:

    Oh, Susan…what a great post. Been doing about the same thing here…not exactly lazy, but so much fun. Very busy getting ready for dear friends to visit ( apple pie, red velvet cupcakes, sandwiches ready to go…) from KY, then out to dinner and a wonderful local production of Les Mis. Lazy afternoons on the porch, talking about everything – as you did with your friends – and then poof, they are gone back home. So, a little cleaning up and laundry, but mostly just BEING…Reading a wonderful book ( Life After Life by Kate Atkinson) and just now thinking, ok, time to weed, to walk, to make dinner….to be ! Can’t wait for your new book. Rabbit Rabbit…have a magical July !

  7. Laurie Walt says:

    Hi Susan! I m glad you took a well deserved break. We all need to just be sometimes and then we feel refreshed. I m looking forward to getting in the garden. I am at my happiest there, and the weeds are about to get evicted! We have been wet and hot and suddenly we are unseasonally cool and drying out. Here I come broccoli, tomatoes, black eyed susans, daisies…you get the picture! Love.

  8. Jaimee from Boise Id. says:

    What a great way to spend my lunch time. Your blog always stirs up the best intentions. I want to run right home and pull my weeds, get out my Red, White and Blue EVERYTHING! I’ll hang my lighthouse lights on the gutter above my back door to light the way to the fire pit. Call all my sisters (I have 4 of them, they are MY best friends!) to come have a sleep over and make wonderful food to Eat and Eat!
    Have a wonderful Summer! Jaimee

  9. Sharon C. says:

    Hi Susan! I don’t think anyone would ever call you lazy!!! I loved your pictures(as always), and seeing your Girlfriends. Enjoy your break! 🙂

  10. Irene Talaasen says:

    Oh, Susan, So glad you were lazy with those darling friends, Jack and Girl Kitty and all the beauty around you!! But you were missed a lot! I will be perusing your new post leisurely for a day or so 🙂
    Irene in Colorado

  11. peg says:

    Ooo0oo0…I can totally relate….the birds, the gardens (well, your’s…not mine!), the breeze in the air weaving thru the giant conifer tree out front….music to my ears! July 1. I simply cannot believe it! The 4th is almost here…..and then, whamo! The summer days are numbered!

    We are having wicked heat here…yesterday it was wrapped in humidity. I’d like to put in a request for a cooling, summer shower. What do you think? My garden will take everything we can give it!!!

    Looking forward to some pre-press snippets of you new book. We would love to have a little ‘hint’of what its all about…..think about it, ok?

    Anyhoo…gotta run. Time to pick up Charlies God daughter from day camp. Her mom works until 6:45, so I pick her up and then its the library, art projects, the original Mickey Mouse Club….and a rousing game of Go Fish when Charlie gets home. Then, its a quick dinner before her mom comes to pick her up. Never a dull moment here!

    Happy, HAPPY summer, Sue! Hugs to you and Joe. xo

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe when I begin to handwrite it and do the drawings. When it starts taking shape. LOL “rousing game of Go Fish!”

  12. Norma Herrin says:

    Oh, I got my happiness here today. Thank you.
    Just 12 more days and my best friend and I are off to England. We will think of you each time we see something from your book and we will say”Susan was right here.”

  13. Elaine Depo says:

    Hi Susan! Oh, how I’ve missed hearing from you! But I knew in my heart you needed some time to drink deeply from your own little world. You’ve been moving from one project to another – all wonderful – but yow-za! Time to smell the flowers, and soak in that delicious peace, quiet, and beauty that is so much a part of you.
    I must tell you that when I saw Jack on the sink with that pretty, tall bud vase with very tall flower, I shuddered. I could never chance that, a paw would strike and it would be in shards in the sink – Jack’s a good boy!
    Hope your 4th is fun! I loved your post!

    • sbranch says:

      He knows the meaning of the word no. That’s pretty darn good. I just have to catch him in time. He was rubbing on my legs while I was writing the blog and I wasn’t paying attention and when I turned around he’d gotten hold of “Little Jack” the one Suzanne felted for me! He didn’t hurt it, but he got it to the floor. So he has his scary moments.

    • Elaine Depo says:

      Soooooo glad Little Jack survived, I just adore that beautiful little wool kitten! I know if someone made a likeness of my kitty I would have done a cartwheel ~ ummm, well maybe not quite, but a good jumping up and down with screaming would definitely have taken place!

      I hope your July 4th weekend is as beautiful there as it is here in Central NY!

  14. “Housework When Done Correctly Can Kill You” was the name of my first blog. I didn’t think it correctly informed the reader of my theme, but I still love the saying! I love even more that you are back with us. I missed the fun… Happy Fourth of July!

  15. Ashley Pickrell says:

    I always love looking at all your photos from your garden and around the island. I live in the desert and in my particular neighborhood it seems like a no grow zone. So I always love to see gardens of others, makes me happy to see flowers blooming (and not wilting due to 100+ degree heat!). But the main point of my comment: I was strolling through the book section of a thrift store and what did I find? A cookbook of yours, your very first one circa 1986. I think I may of squealed when I saw it. 🙂

  16. Julie says:

    Loved catching up Susan, i ve missed you xxx

  17. Martha Ellen of VA says:

    Happy July to you sweet Susan. Glad you are taking a well deserved break. How lovely your garden is looking. I’m longing to have my New Dawn arbor once again. It succumbed to rose rosette and is now in heaven. Your hydrangeas are looking lovely as well–ours did not like the harsh winter and will not be blooming this year–bummer. Enjoy your time with those sweet kitties and get back to us when you can. xoxo ♥

  18. I followed Jack’s advice this afternoon — I came to your blog and got a big dose of happiness! Pure delight.

    Hot in North Carolina today. Summer down here is wonderful. My critters are lying low — donkeys in the barn, chickens under the bushes, dog in his favorite shady dirt patch. Sending blessings from here on Windy Hollow Farm!

  19. Cindy Tuning says:

    Who can blame you for being drawn to that beautiful garden and not wanting to come out. Looks like you had a great time with your school chums and just enjoying the season that seems to fade away long before we’re ready for it. I saw that new pattern on the Emma Bridgewater web page a while ago and fell in love with it! Not surprised that you did as well. Keep sniffing those roses before the beetles get them and I don’t mean the ones you met from Liverpool!

    • Julie Marie says:

      Hi Cindy… when I read your comment about the “Beatles from Liverpool”, I thought about Susan and her story of meeting them… I wonder if Paul and Ringo tell people their story about “the day we met Susan Branch”???… they should!… xoxo…

  20. Thank you so much for the 31st of July ;). The calender was a birthday gift and my friend had noticed the error………..always love it when things aren’t perfect, just like me.

  21. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Good Afternoon~ What a perfect post! ~
    Finally a few 80 degree days here! ~ I’m still picking my first plantings of peas, lettuce and beans~ strawberries ~about a month behind~ not complaining….but only flowers on the tomatoes and a few tiny peppers~ everything is nice and green compared to last years “crispy” Summer ~ I love the windows down singing too but it’s usually something by ~America ~ Ventura Highway is probably my favorite one to sing to~ here’s to Long ~Lazy ~ Summer Days~ Birds ~ Butterflies ~ Bees~ Fireflies ~ Rabbit Rabbit!~

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

    My sentiments exactly…watching a sailboat race on Little Traverse Bay right now after watching my two granddaughters~Grace and Sophie~have a water fight in the front yard…giggles galore…Happy July…xoxo…

  23. Christine from Covina says:

    I have missed you dear friend but you were having so much fun! Can I choose not to add the last day to July so July never ends? My second son was born on 4th of July 45 years ago. He is a wonderful son and a great dad and soon to be a grandfather. July 4th is very special to our family! Hope everyone has a wonderful 4th in celebration of our glorious country!!!

  24. Judy Adair says:

    I just had to thank you for the very modern day delivery of the 31st day of July. I was wonderful. I cut mine and pasted with rubber cement and you can not tell there is an addition. How clever of you. I love it and as always love your blog posts. Thanks again.

  25. Marty from NYC says:

    Dear Susan:
    I knew that you would catch up with us before the holiday. Glad that you took a well-deserved rest and hope that the 4th is a wonderful holiday for you.

    We are catching up with friends and family at two cook-outs-one a birthday celebration and then on the way home a wonderful stop at Bishops farm in Connecticut to stock up on garden fresh vegetables and fruit.

    How much better does it get than fresh corn and tomatoes at this time of year?

  26. Mamey Brown says:

    YAY!!! I’m so glad you are back!!! I know you need a break, but I missed you!! Looks like you had a WONDERFUL time with your girlfriends. You are truly blessed to have kept in touch with all of them. That’s true friendship. Once again, your blog has inspired me…..Your Hydrangeas are gorg! Mine get really tall on the entire side of my garage, but I might get 1 bloom. I have no idea why…….Loving your Spring Tea!!

  27. Hi Susan,
    Your summer sounds just perfectly enjoyed, not lazy! So glad to have found you here. I visited your shop years ago and have the sweet pink box with the flower top. Loved the visit!
    Just got out Girlfriends Forever to re-read before I get together with three of my high school (and before) besties in September.
    Savor your summer,

  28. Debbie says:

    Happy July! It sounds like you are having a wonderful summer! Sometimes we need to just relax and enjoy the beauty of the season. I LOVE your Hollyhock and remember my grandmother showing me how to make a dancing lady out of a hollyhock flower. I am so fond of hollyhocks and need to plant some for next year. Your squash salad looks delish and I will be giving that a try. Enjoy and happy 4th of July!

  29. chris consentino says:

    oh, my!!!! what a deeeelightful start to a long, probably very hot (which I DISLIKE) month!!!! and….all things deeeelightful therein. thank you! oh! thank you…as I usually do say. found your “summer” book and, it arrived last Saturday….wonderful….and, your Christmas…today!!!!! quite wonderful as well. now…just have to wait for your new-book-to-be, and i’ll be all set. our garden is flourishing…..2 harvests of broccoli…..5 zucchini yesterday…total 5 lbs of wondrous, ymmy, good-eats for supper. mmmm. and, I’m using home-grown lemon-balm for the MOST delightful ice-water in the world. kind of like lemonade…with no lemons. neat. who knew all this goodness could come from a first-time garden????????????? oh, and, pleeeeez, could you tell us the color-name of your hollyhock????? that is JUST what we need here…..sooooo darling….and sooooo reminder-of-childhood-garden. thank you for help on that. well, I’m most, specially glad you had a little “just-being” time…..a soul, not to mention a body….NEEDS that!!!!! glad you’re back. your drawing of “my-country-tis-of-thee” brought back a memory of learning that song in 2nd grade. so vividly do I remember that. wow. our 43rd anniversary is the 4th….sooooo, gotta go start some kitchen-magic to celebrate. happy july to you and all.

    • sbranch says:

      First time garden! The most magical garden of all . . . My hollyhock is a single (some are double) and light pink, but I didn’t keep the tag so the name of it has gotten away . . . I think it should be easy to find. Have you got lemon thyme in your garden yet? SO delicious with chicken, you can also soften vanilla ice cream and stir the little lemony purple flowers into it, then put it back in the freezer. Yummy!

      • Laura Ann in Vermont says:

        Did you buy hollyhock plants? I have tried growing them from seed three times and they have always failed. Maybe buying plants is the way to go, if I can find someone selling them.

        • sbranch says:

          I got mine at the nursery . . . no flowers when I put them in a few weeks ago. I’ve never tried seed.

          • Pat Mofjeld from Minnesota says:

            Look for a plant called “Mallow Zebrina”–it is a smaller cousin of the Hollyhock. Google it! The plant sends off a lot of shoots from the base and each shoot has flowers running up the stem that look like small hollyhocks. It is my favorite “cottage garden” plant. You would love it! You can grow them from seed but if you purchase the plant, it will bloom right away. We have one growing in a large pot on our deck and it is beautiful…

          • sbranch says:

            French Hollyhocks, love those! I forgot about them, thank you Pat. I put them on my list! Perfect color for me.

        • Christine from Covina says:

          I have Hollyhocks from seed! Took about two years before they flowered, now they are regulars and they self seed!

  30. LynnMarie says:

    Yes–we all missed you but truth be told, I have been doing the same thing! I am taking a few online classes and have a blog as well but every time I sit down to work, I look outside. I need to go fill the bird feeders or wiggle my toes in the warm green grass, or water and admire the flowers. Ain’t summer fun!

    • sbranch says:

      Good! I was almost thinking of taking the summer off, but then I thought, naaaah. 🙂

      • Marty from NYC says:

        OH No!, Not that you do not deserve it–but a whole summer not being able to share your world would be so hard for all of us. Maybe you could get by with a once a week catch up so we do not wither away with the summer heat and no Susan to brighten the day?
        Maybe Joe could take over as a guest blogger??? I believe that his perception of your life would also be very special. Have a wonderful Fourth-Here’s hoping that Hurricane Arthur will not be an unwelcome guest. Marty

        • sbranch says:

          Don’t worry, I’m OK, I’ll always let you know. Joe is wonderful, he loves that I blog, but from a distance. 🙂

          • Janet in Rochester says:

            Oh, I vote for “Joe posts” too! Just every once in a while. Maybe a Joe-created recipe or cooking tip – like the chicken fat? Stories from when he ran the Black Dog? Or when he was cooking on that boat? Something tells me Joe has some really good stories in him. I mean, don’t we all? And who knows? He might even like it… ⭐️

  31. Lori Edmonds says:

    HAPPY JULY!!! Looks like your girlfriend visit was a blast! Looking forward to getting your new book. I have been carefully & slowly savoring A Fine Romance, making it stretch out for as long as I can…I want to finish it, but don’t want it to be over…ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Thanks for your blog…LOVE the entries so : )

  32. LINDA JUNE says:

    For a few minutes, I felt I was right there with you–in your garden–with your friends–on the beach–at the picnic…! Love your blog–the best!

  33. judi says:

    Rabbit, rabbit! So happy to hear from you. Like a worried parent of a teenager I was waiting with the light on for you:)

    Happy you had a wonderful, magical time with your golden friends. Love Richard Le Gallienne’s poem – used it on spring cards years ago ….”so what could i do but laugh and go.” xoxo judi

  34. Julie Marie says:

    What a fun, happy post dear Susan!… loved seeing what you have been up to, and meeting your girlfriends from California… love seeing Jack and Girl Kitty too… your garden is gorgeous right now!… and your Hollyhocks remind me of my cousin Sharon Lovejoy and her book “Hollyhock Days”!… all of the food looks delish!… especially that Summer squash, yum!… I have been trying to figure out what is in the jar on your windowledge in that photo of the squash?… Happy Fourth of July to you!!!… oh, and I just began watercolor painting!… I am loving it, especially because YOU inspired me to give it a try!… and I got one of Gladys Tabers Stillmeadow Cookbook… I was going to make the brownies in it, but she just says “use 2 squares of chocolate”… but does not say what size, etc????… I wish I could ask her what she meant!… and thanks to your link, I am now a member of Friends of Gladys Taber and just received my first two newsletters… you are right, they are fabulous!… hello to Joe, and wishing you a relaxing, fun filled 4th!… xoxo Julie Marie

    • sbranch says:

      That’s brown rock sugar. Back in the old days, when the only chocolate in the store was Baker’s, the squares were each 2 oz. I’d go with that. SO happy you’re enjoying the Newsletters from Gladys Taber . . . they really are fun. Happy 4th Julie Marie!

      • Julie Marie says:

        Thank you Susan!… we still have Bakers chocolate in the stores here, I will get some and try to make some brownies like Gladys did!.. and now I want some brown rock sugar too, how fun!… xoxo…

  35. Pamela C Betz says:

    So glad you had a good time with your friends–tomorrow I am having lunch with my high school girl friends. Thank you for your blog!! Pam

  36. patricia ayala says:

    WHEEEEE! you are back! We have missed you! But it is so wonderful to see what you been up too. A few days ago I was enjoying a day ALL to myself! when the phone rung, a dear friend in need of girl time, with a stressful job, a three year old boy, a husband that are true sport men, she needed help! Well we share your Lemon Rice Salad, some Wine, but the most important thing we share,was introducing her to your Blog! It was instant Love! She called yesterday to say she was on Martha’s Vineyard!!! It’s pure magic what you do! and give us,the urge to go out there and make our world a little better,a little prettier ! XOXOXOXO

  37. I was turning your calendar page to July this morning, explaining to my husband how it is missing the 31st. He starts thinking aloud, “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November… yep, she missed 31”.

    Sigh, I’ve lived with this for almost forty years. However, it gave us a much needed chuckle that it was left out.

  38. Liz says:

    Thank you for your latest post…..been checking every day! Happy 4th of July! I just finished writing the “To My Daughter With Love” book for my daughter Krista Beth. It took me two months to do it and she just loves it!! She is 39, so it took a little remembering! She is reading it slowly – a little every day, savoring it, she says. It was such a fun thing to do and helped me remember so many things!

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

    Rabbit rabbit to you too, Susan ~~~ I loved this post!! I bet your girlfriends really enjoyed visiting with you and Joe, plus seeing the Island. You all looked so happy!! I’m having a friend of mine, that I’ve known since 1st grade come stay with us during our 50th class reunion in August. I’m really looking forward to seeing her. She hasn’t seen our new home yet, as she lives on the other side of the state. I’m going to plant some more plants next week. Still getting our east side of our house in lots of plants.

    With your feeding the birds in your yard, do you have to refill their food containers a few times a week? We bought a spike that holds 4 feeders. The birds LOVE it. We have 3 yellow finches and some red headed birds, plus more birds, but I’m finding they go thru the food about every other day. Our backyard neighbor also has one like ours and can’t keep it filled. I love it. Of course, I’m having to start pulling the weeds that grow from the seeds falling on the ground.

    I printed out the Lemon salad and also the Pineapple Upside Down cake recipes to make. Yum yum…..

    So happy to find a new post from you today. I’ve missed seeing them, but understand how busy you’ve been on your book and intertaining friends. LOL…. you do have a life also 🙂

    Carol M

    • sbranch says:

      We have to fill those darn things every single day! But it’s worth it. We have piglet birds.

      • Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

        I know that our birds are piglets also. Like you, I don’t mind filling the food containers so often. I went out this morning and weeded the area where they throw the unwanted seeds that they don’t like. I had quite a patch to weed. Am keeping a couple starts to see what the are. I’m wondering if they are the first leaves for sunflowers. I think I saw a sunflower husk hanging from one of the leaves last week. I wouldn’t mind keeping those to plant for next year.

  40. Karen P (Wisconsin) says:

    Well, there you are Sunshine! Yes, we HAVE missed you! But that’s okay. We always know that you’re up to something fun and creative and lovely so no worries. Loved seeing the pictures of your friends’ visit! You have a lot of fun together, I can tell! I always am thrilled to see your beautiful gardens and sure do wish I could have your picket fence garden but wouldn’t work for me here so I will live vicariously through you. I think it’s so cute that you have that little bench inside the picket fence! Darling, darling, darling!!! Happy July! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Sometimes the house or yard tells you what it wants, and if it doesn’t want a picket fence, you just have to listen! I had a little house that wanted to be yellow and blue inside, and those really aren’t my normal colors, but I had to give it what it wanted. It was right.

      • Karen P (Wisconsin) says:

        You are soooo right! Our homes take on personalities of their own and really ARE like family. Our yard is very rustic and woodsy with lots of pine trees and hostas and daylilies and things. I DO have some hollyhocks and foxglove, though, which I adore!!! And LOTS of birds!!!! xo

  41. Janet in Rochester says:

    Oh, a ‘Just Joey’ and graphic Jack! A match made in Heaven. Does it smell as gorgeous as it looks? You and Joe have a wonderful Fourth and stay cool!

    • sbranch says:

      It does, Just Joey has it all . . . prolific, beautiful, long lasting, wonderful fragrance — can’t say enough nice about it. I’ve had it forever in California — this is a new bush here on the island so we will see how it does. So far, so good.

      • Just Joey is a climbing rose, right? What would be a great choice for the bush kind? I had 4 roses – 2 on each side of the door- but something happened this year. They were attacked by at least a couple different bugs and within a week they looked awful. I took a couple pictures and a snippet into the nursery and got something to treat them with but I don’t think they’re going to make it. Poor things are out there trying to bloom with practically no leaves. If I have to replace them it would be nice to get something fragrant and hardy.

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        And it looks like it’s made of silk velvet too…

  42. Marie on the Lake says:


    Loved today’s post, and most especially your mention of Lake Arrowhead here in California. I have been blessed and I mean that literally to live here for just about 29 years full-time, and to me, living here is as though we are in paradise. Knowing how you feel about living on Martha’s Vineyard, I know you will understanding my feelings for this little piece of paradise in California. My family is here for the holiday, and we will view our spectacular Fireworks Show down at our dock on the lake. The fireworks go off from the center of the lake, and over a thousand boats will be on the lake to enjoy the show. It is as though the fireworks are raining right down on you.

  43. Oh Susan, so many happy days!! It’s so nice to have some ‘lazy’ days afterwards to just enjoy and be in the moment. Your Kitchen Garden looks so lovely this summer. Hydrangeas and Hollyhocks are the perfect flowers in cottage garden. Love them! Sunny wishes!

  44. mary mccumber says:

    Oh I have missed YOU!! And what a lovely little collection of your beautiful thoughts, thank you Susan!! Enjoy your holiday weekend……

  45. Mona in Riverbank CA says:

    Happy July, Susan! Your garden pictures are totally cooling me down. We’re having one of those over 100 degree weeks here. Your flowers are lovely, the walk to the sea is awesome, and kitties – what a way to be renewed!

    When I saw your yummy picture of the pineapple cake, I had to tell you that for Fathers Day your Summer Book was my go-to book for dinner. My husband says that for Mothers Day he has to barbecue and for Fathers Day he gets to barbecue. So to give him a break, this year I took over. I made the barbecued pork ribs and the Kitchen Sink BBQ sauce (truly the best sauce ever!), and for dessert I made the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. He said it was the best Fathers Day dinner he ever had – a real compliment from the BBQ master!!

    Thank you again for sharing yourself with us. Hope you have a fabulous summer! Love to you! =^..^=

  46. Carol Hesch says:

    Love, Love…..:) Your posts always remind me to breath and relax a bit. I know you know how blessed you are to walk in those woods and come out with an ocean view at the end!!! I love how you don’t take it for granted! Have a wonderful 4th!!

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t think a day goes by out there when I don’t say “This is my favorite part of the day.”

  47. diana from ancaster says:

    Hello from Ancaster. We are celebrating Canada Day- July 1st- the 147th birthday of my wonderful country.

    I have been so enjoying reading your newest post and especially liked following you and your girlfriends enjoying your time together.

    I am blessed with a group of 8 girlfriends whom I have known forever. We have been together since we were 5 years old, growing up in a tough but wonderful immigrant neighbourhood where we learned the value of hard work the importance of family and the value of true friends . ….Now that we are entering our 6th decade we feel very blessed to continue to enjoy each other’s company and new adventures. There is nothing quite like sitting around a table groaning with good and yummy things to eat, solving the world’s problems and laughing until our sides hurt. We have each had to find our way through some sad times (widowhood, divorce….) but have kept each other close, loved and supported each other through. Now we are entering our 6th decade, we get to share the best experiences- new love, new grandbabies – and still laugh until the tears flow no more and our sides hurt.

    Such blessings.

  48. Jules says:

    Just want you to know how inspiring your blog is to me. Not only have you reawakened my interest in Beatrix Potter but I just ordered my first Gladys Taber book. Actually, it is two books in one: Amber, A Very Personal Cat & Conversations with Amber. Oh, and today I finally found “peah ci-da”. It’s quite refreshing! My husband said he didn’t like it but then drank 3 bottles. Hate to see what would happen if he actually liked it. Thanks for all of the inspiration!

  49. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    The pics of you and your girlfriends made me smile – what a fun time for you all. Must have been quite a gab fest. The kitties are so beautiful – I have to say that Girl kitty really steals my heart. Glad you took some time out to let those creative coffers fill. I’m thinking about taking that yummy looking squash salad to the 4th of July get together with my kids. I’m 30 pounds lighter than last 4th of July 🙂 🙂 YAY! I think I could eat a pile of that and not worry about any of it coming back.
    I’m so looking forward to your upcoming book, but don’t work TOO hard – okay?

    • sbranch says:

      Thirty pounds lighter! Sylvia, catch this big High Five!!! Proud of you. Want that too. . .

      • Sylvia in Seattle says:

        🙂 I’m proud of me too! One more comment on this lovely blog — Favorite pics were: The stunning Hollyhocks and you and the girlfriends at table by the sea having wine and Tabasco sauce :-).

  50. Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

    AND… is time for my birthday!!! (the 2nd) 71 years YOUNG!! I told my BBF today that being 70 allows you to become a whole new person!! What a wonderful thing! I love love love all of the things you talked about. You need to take more days off and just tell us all about everything you see and do. I can remember the days when you did just that. Now you are all famous and people think they expect more from you – NOT! Just be YOU!! I simply die over the pic of the walking path with the trees! I am home in DRY Paso Robles with dead grass out front and I MISS MY CABIN in the woods!! I will go back at the beginning of August – like the first day!! There are very few flowers here because we are so dry. What does bloom lasts about a couple of days before it says “byeeee.” So go ahead and send more pics of the flowers whenever you want. Wanted to ask you whatever happened to Janet Haley? I knew her through her job at the SLO Voters office – when she retired I lost track. I was the lady (crazy?) from Paso Robles that signed up for School Board elections – was on it for 28 years. What a ride that was! Cleaning up my house after my daughter and her 2 kids left for their new home up north. It seems like they were here for a year!!! That can’t be???? And my house is DIRTY!! Now it is time to put it back they way I like it… the meantime, have a grand day – outdoors & indoors – you definitely deserve it!! XXXXOOOO

    • sbranch says:

      TODAY!! Happy Birthday Dear Pat!! How do you get to your cabin Pat — car? Plane? Train? Thank you for the good advice about time to BE. I know, but being the oldest child, I like to make people happy. Janet is retired with a capitol R and she and her husband do lots of RVing and traveling and going up to see their children and grandchildren (otherwise she would have been here with us!).

      • Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

        This brave and adventuresome soul DRIVES – alone – across the states enjoying every single minute of it! I take 3 days going up from home because I seem to be more tense & tired at home in California. Coming back after my cabin stay I can do it in 2 days. However I plan on taking more time to stop along the way and enjoy some of the sights. I play books on CD (this last trip I listened to “Like Water For Chocolate” and loved it. And I play music & enjoy the sights. It is definitely better than TV!!

        • sbranch says:

          Oh, such a good book! Magical thinking there! I thought they could never do the book justice with the movie, but I think they did a pretty good job with the impossible.

    • Chris Wells says:

      Happy Birthday, Pat!

      • judi says:

        Happy Birthday Pat! We are the same age ….for 5 days:)….then I’m a year older, woohoo! Cheers, judi

    • Hi Pat,
      It’s the perfect day to celebrate YOU! Happy Birthday!! ♡♡

      • sbranch says:

        I just love how we’re all starting to know each other this well!

      • Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

        Thank you for all of the birthday wishes! Means a lot coming from my BFFs! XXXXOOOO

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Happy Birthday Pat! July 2nd also was my Dad’s birthday. He passed away 12 years ago yet would have been 91 today! You are close to my old stomping grounds in SLO! Know what you mean about hot and dry in Paso yet the coast is only a short drive away….love Morro Bay, Cayucos and San Simeon!!
      Have a most fantastic “supercalifragilisticexpealadocious” birthday! 🙂
      Sweet Sue from SLO

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      I know this is coming late but–Happy Birthday to a dear Girlfriend!
      Love ya!

  51. Helen says:

    Love the kitty pictures! I too am glad to hear you are getting a well deserved rest. Enjoy your long summer days.

  52. Nancy says:

    July! Already! Hobby Lobby has Christmas wreaths on the back wall and Thanksgiving merchandise all out…..groan! Love, love the picture of Jack watching you from the window…
    and my Lucy likes to be carried on my shoulder also. Poor Flopsy, Mopsy, or Cottontail…lost an ear! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      That’s ridiculous. Don’t go in there. We want flip flops and pink flowers for at least a few more weeks! Yes, my bunny has a missing ear and I watched it go down the drain in the sink! BUT, I keep it, and every so often I watercolor the white part so it’s brown and doesn’t show up much.

  53. Chris says:

    Hi Susan!

    You’ve been busy! I can’t think of a better way to spend time than with friends. Old friends are best. We’re having a busy summer so far and enjoying it every moment. Yes, pineapple upside down cake is definitely on the menu for the weekend. I make it in my Nana’s old cast iron frypan.

    Do you have a time frame for your new book?

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve never done a book like this before so it’s a bit hard to figure it out, as I get closer, I think I will know . . .

  54. Barb says:

    I so love reading your wonderful, delightful, happy blog! You always remind us that the very best things are really the simplest -,family, friends, our fur babies, our friends, nature in all it’s many pleasures – thank you so much.

    Happy 4th of July to you, Joe, Jack & miss kitty!!

  55. DonnaRay Evans, South Shore of Lake Ontario, Western NY says:

    Ahhhh, restoring the soul……summer days are the best for that! Me, too. I’ve been taking little garden walks in the morning seeing who blossomed overnight, who’s asking to be pinched back or tied up, what little shiny trail was left, or half-eaten strawberry showed evidence of nightime raids… it all! Our “busy-ness” is about to begin with back to back company for the next several weeks. One of the joys of garden and home making is sharing it with guests.
    Last summer girlfriends from my school days (all the way back to first!….no kdgn in our part of Missouri in those days) visited. And, like you, I was amazed what I didn’t know about them despite spending 12 years of school together and thinking I knew them inside out. We were country folks so we didn’t go to each others homes often. Our parents certainly didn’t have time to drive us so far to see each other, so school was our common ground. And even school memories were sometimes remembered differently. It was such fun to feel the immediate intimacy after all these years. We talked and laughed and talked and even shed some tears remembering a classmate who had died. I bet you remember this song “Teen Angel”…….our friend, Vera Sue, died when a train struck the car she and her boyfriend were riding in. He was racing the train. We all suddenly grew up when that happened. Life seemed much more precious to us and we understood the consequences of risky behavior that our parents reminded us about each time we left the house. Each day is truly a blessing, and summer days have a strawberry on top!
    Susan., you happy up the world with your books…….keep ’em coming! As always, DonnaRay

    • sbranch says:

      I know all the words to Teen Angel, can you hear me . . . so sad! Loved it. More reason to have teen angst and cry. Oh my goodness, I just read further down in your comment, how horrible, Vera Sue! My parents didn’t drive us around either, there was no time, and sometimes no car, but if we could get somewhere on foot, we were free to go.

  56. Beth Keser says:

    I can’t wait for your new book!!!!!!!!!

  57. Becky in the mountains of Wesr Virginia says:

    You have to take some time to smell the flowers while summer is here. It will be gone oh so quickly! I meant to do my work today but the brown bird reminds me to smell the roses. I too carry vases around to see where they look the best. My sweetie just smiles and shakes his head.

    • sbranch says:

      We are women and we are cute, we just can’t help it. 🙂

      • Sweet Sue says:

        Yes, we are! Simply the cutest! When I got the “little vases” I did the same thing with the flowers trying to find the right place for each one and my sweetie did the same thing just shook his head and smiled. So Susan when you placed those beautiful flowers in amongst your “bunnies” I thought how perfect they look adorable there in that beautiful rose creamer/vase! You go girl!!! 🙂

  58. Janet Hundley -Grafton, WI says:

    Lazy. One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite movies, “Holiday Inn.” And what a wonderful post. Thanks as always.

  59. Debby says:

    Glad you had a great time with friends, wondering if Arthur is coming your way? Hope not. Thanks for kitty pictures

  60. Nellie says:

    This is such a marvelous post, dear Susan! Absolutely gorgeous flowers, gardens, and walks to the beach! Wonderful kitties! Great friends from years past!

    I send wishes for a happy Fourth of July to you!

    xo Nellie

  61. Regina says:

    So good to see your blog. Been checking every day hoping to hear from you soon. But we all need time to just be. Girlfriends are the best! We will be going back home for the 4th to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, which was in May. Both sides of our families will be there and all our children. Weather will be just perfect, low 80’s and low humidity, a welcome relief here in the Midwest, where it’s usually a scorcher on the 4th. Hoping all our girlfriends have a great holiday, celebrating family, friends and our great nation!

  62. Jane Armour says:

    We have missed you! Still, I am so glad you had such a wonderful time with your friends. I am continuing to read Gladys Taber’s books. I just finished The Road To Stillmeadow, & have Sugarbridge & Stillmeadow ready to start next. Joy! I am still looking for a reasonably priced copy of Harvest At Stillmeadow. Any suggestions, girlfriends? Susan, I am checking your site, also!

    • sbranch says:

      You are making yourself the perfect summer with Gladys Taber!

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Try Ebay. I got 9 Gladys Taber books there awhile back for only $20.00. They didn’t all have dust jackets yet were in excellent condition. You can also become a member of Friends of Gladys Taber and they will send you a list of they and their members have for sale. For info on “Friends of Gladys Taber” go to post on Susan’s webpage.
      Enjoy shopping for Gladys Taber books!

  63. Koreena says:

    I LOVE being able to live vicariously through you, especially in the summer. Here in Florida, the heat index is in the low 100s, humidity in the 80-90% range and we’re just waiting for Tropical Storm Arthur to decide when and where he’s going. To see your beautiful garden is so refreshing! The flowers are so lovely and your kitties remind me of mine (one of which will lay fetch with a twisty tie for hours if you let her 😀 ). I hope you and yours have a wonderful Fourth!

    • sbranch says:

      Stay cool. I hear the storm is being pushed out to sea by a “cold front” — I hope you get some of that!

  64. Cathy Wegner says:

    I was on The Vineyard last weekend and saw your van. I wish I could had have a chance to say hello. The weather was gorgeous when we were there and we visited the tall ship that was visiting. We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to come back soon.

    • sbranch says:

      We went to the Charles Morgan too — I need to show the photos of that amazing whaling boat! Wasn’t the Captain’s Wife’s quarters darling? I would not like to be at sea on that thing for three years though, no matter how cute my room was!

  65. Tina Mandeville says:

    Hi, Susan!
    Yes, noticed you have been “MIA” but figured (was hoping!) you were taking a breather and just enjoying carefree days! Glad to hear that is just what you have been up to! Such a special visit from your childhood friends…surely they loved the island and all things you had prepared for them! My family and I are on Cape again now, having arrived this past weekend. The days have been glorious! Feels soooo good! Have a wonderful 4th – I truly hope that storm misses us!

  66. Jan Hammond says:

    Dear Susan, I just eat up every word you write, every picture you post, every quote and on and on. And…I am so looking forward to your Autumn book.
    Bless you for the joy your bring to all of our lives.
    Jan Hammond

  67. Ann Jane Koerber says:

    Susan, Susan How lovely your garden grows!…….Happy July! But wait, where on earth did April, May and June go?? They went by so fast…..I’m going to slow July and August down. As much as I love it, I’m not ready to even think about Fall. Your blog, as usual, was a welcoming sight. Looks like you and your girlfriends from CA had a lot of “busy-ness” and lots of fun……and those kitties……….well, they are just plain special! Thank you, thank you, thank you for “blogging” in for a few minutes, wish you could have stayed for tea! I so enjoy hearing from you! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      So glad to be here Ann! But you know that! Slowing down the summer is such a good idea, me too . . . lots of quiet (writing) time will help.

  68. widya says:

    Hi Susan,
    i’m glad you’re back. and this post is beautiful too. full of pics of your garden, flowers, foods, and of course, those sweet little furry friends of yours, jack & girl kitty. they’re getting more adorable everytime they appear here ^^
    Have a great July !

  69. Such a lovely post, Susan. I’m glad you had such a wonderful time with your girlfriends. They are soooo lucky. I’m also glad you have a bit of time to relax. I see girl kitty continues to be comfortable with Jack in the same locale. It’s so nice that she has settled into “life with Jack.”
    Happy 4th of July! May your month be filled with sunshine and warmth and sufficient sea breezes to keep you comfortable. I’ve been spending a lot of time sitting by my pond in the backyard, so grateful for the breeze off Long Island Sound. I just finished two wonderful books by Ruth Reichl – Comfort Me With Apples and Not Becoming my Mother. I am on a waiting list for her book, Delicious, her first novel. Of course, we are all looking forward to your new book.

    • sbranch says:

      Girl puts up with the existence of Jack, but barely. She does NOT allow him to sleep on the bed with us. I feel bad about that, but he seems to understand. Sometimes very early, when I wake up, he’s down by my feet — she’s not there, so he slithers in.

    • Arline in LA says:

      Thank you Carolyn and Susan. I love it when Susan or one of the girlfriends mentions what they are currently reading. Summer will always be my big reading months — must go back to those “Summer Book Clubs” that were very popular in CA when we were growing up. A prize for every book read
      and cupcakes at the end. Ruth Reichl is in my stack and will move her up to the top, and a novel from her sounds fun. Thanks again!

      • I’m on my way to reading everything Ruth Reichl has written that I can get my hands on. Just as Susan’s A Fine Romance kept me enthralled, so do Ruth’s semi-autobiographical books. I’m halfway through Tender to the Bone, written prior to Comfort Me With Apples, and it’s soooo good. Also, the library surprised me. Ther were 29 folks in front of me on the waiting list for Delicious, but I got an email that the book was waiting for me at the front desk. I went right over and got it. Have a Happy 4th of July. It’s supposed to rain here in CT for much of the day, so I might get some reading in.

  70. Annette McD says:

    Beautiful blog today. Love the hollyhocks. In the language of flowers, the hollyhock stands for a woman’s ambition. Thanks for all you do Susan; you add joy and beauty to my day!

    • sbranch says:

      hmmm, that’s interesting. Maybe because it’s so strong and tall. Reminds me of Julia Child.

  71. Jackie P says:

    It was good to hear from you again. Glad you had some time for yourself (kinda of). Loved seeing the kitties perched on the furniture, on wonderful quilts and favorite blankies. Just the sight of it recharges one’s batteries, right? Enjoy. Happy 4th to you and Joe and the kitties.

  72. Peggy Cooper says:

    I’ve missed you and have been checking for new posts, but glad you got to spend some contemplative time after the whirlwind you’ve been living. So wonderful you got to visit with such good old friends. Girlfriends are the best!

  73. Sharon Provence says:

    Haha – I was just going thru my Girlfriend Notecards tonight, and thought I might send MYSELF the card that says ‘Housework when done correctly can kill you ‘ since I have been cleaning all week but am dreaming of laying on the beach somewhere! I just used a colored magic marker and drew a box with 31 on my July calendar. At this age, I can’t afford to lose a day! I love your blogs and look forward to them -makes me happy! So glad you and your girlfriends had a great time – it is so good for the soul to laugh with good friends. I just love the way you write -makes me (and I am sure everyone else) feel like we are tagging right along with you! Love you Susan!

  74. thea says:

    Exactly. we need to stop and just let summer wash over us. beautiful post, dear lady. Happy Fourth of July!! xo thea

  75. Wendy Louise says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am so glad you are having FUN,FUN, FUN ! Doing everything that is exactly what you should be doing. What a beautiful, long, post and I love every bit of it……’s you, pure you ! Your whole world is so cozy and dreamy,and, like kindred spirits mine is too ! It’s all based on LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ! Keep Carrying On, the best is yet to be ! OXOX. Wendy Louise

  76. Debbie Noyola says:

    Love July, I was introduced to this grand planet of ours smack dab in the middle of July! My dad made his appearance on the 20th & my mom on the 2nd. A perfect birthday month I always thought. Just the right amount of months away from Christmas in my mind. This year my present from my youngest son, I have 2 sons, is going to be a ferry ride from Anacortes, Washington to Orcas Island. I am so excited. We will leave on Friday evening, the 18th & get to Orcas Island pretty late. We will stay at my sons girlfriends mothers house. The next day we will hop on another ferry to San Juan Island where we will be going to a Lavender Festival. I read that you get to see, smell, hear, touch & taste Lavender! I texted my son this information & he texted me back asking how do you hear Lavender? I told him you listen very closely!! Lol. Google the Pelindaba Lavender Farm if you get a chance. You will see what I am going to see, gloriously beautiful fragrant fields of Lavender! I can’t wait for your new book. I know I am going to love it. Your blog is a delight. Thank you ever so much for the glimpses into your world. Pet Jack & Girl Kitty for me. Happy 4th of July!!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL. I love listening to lavender too! I saw a field of lavender in England and it is QUITE a Bee-you-teeful sight. Have fun!

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

    Oh, I’ve missed you! So great to hear all that you’ve been up to and it all sounds wonderful! I can’t wait for your next book so I never mind when you’ve been gone for awhile because I know you are working hard to make this next book yet another fabulous treasure for us. Happy Fourth to you and Joe, Girl and Jack!

  78. Diane Harris says:

    Just a heads up for the girlfriends: When my printer went to print 31, it wanted to ‘fit it to the page’ and that made it huge! So if your printer has a mind of its own, like mine, check the settings before you print to make sure it’s not a huge 31! 🙂

    I love a dash of mistakes with a touch of humility!


    Diane Marie

  79. Barbie Johnston says:

    Honestly, Susan, when I am reading one of your posts, I completely forget everything and lose myself in it. So wonderful! I love it!

    Thank you for the delightful escape!


  80. Joan says:

    Wonderful “catch-up” blog – been checking daily for a new one and then HERE IT IS!!! Happy Summer 🙂

  81. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan!!! loved getting caught up today…what wonderful time spent with friends….I think that as we grow,we realize that these moments are so very precious….our amoeba days long gone!!! great pictures of you all roaming around the Island…just love that pic of Jack asleep though…so sweet….been reading my Gladys Tabor….love her writing!!! I get a little homesick for Christmas around this time of year ( weird..I know..), so I went online and looked up Christmas In Connecticut (1945) as my husband and I taking bets on the year the movie was made, who all was in it, etc…. Ran across a blogger(Julie) that had posted pictures of the Stone House in the movie and had made several comments about the film; some including the connection to Gladys Tabor. Thought you might be interested…if so, go to and type Stone House Christmas in Connecticut in the search box. I was going to email the post to you, but wasn’t sure where exactly to send it..then I thought I could TWEET it ( and I may still if I can figure that out!)….in the meantime, if interested, you might just want to bee-bop over to that blog and check it out… Getting ready for the big 4th celebration here too…I am going to make your pineapple upside-down cake this year. I have never made one before and my husband LOVES that cake…so I am excited to try this recipe…he will be thrilled… thank you for a wonderful post and have a wonderful 4th holiday susan and joe!!!!!!!! xo love, cindy

    • Cindy Maulin says:

      it’s me again..ok…so I see that Hooked On Houses is already one of your “favorite” blogs…. way ahead of me!!! LOL!!! should have known<3
      love, cindy

    • sbranch says:

      You handled Twitter like a wizard Cindy! 🙂 Thank you! Your husband is going to love that cake … it’s easy and the best I’ve ever had (if I do say so myself!)

      • Cindy Maulin says:

        dear susan….I know I “tweeted” my pineapple upside-down cake to you,( estactically because it looked sooo great and came out of the skillet in one piece), but that was before the “Jerry-taste-test”…a connoisseur of all things delectable….he said it was the” most delicious one he had ever tasted”….. and believe me..he knows!! my mother-in-law was a great cook and baker…and most of her life, she used a wood cookstove!! imagine that!!… thank you again…still smiling…xo love, cindy

  82. Sandra says:

    I always enjoy your blog posts so much, it makes me feel part of what you’re living! You have such a beautiful life and a house and a dreamy garden! I’m an (unwilling) city girl with her heart in the country living in a small apartment but my balcony is full of flowers and I can sit outside and read and dream and hear birdsong when there’s a lull in the traffic! Oh and I have a herb garden which fills me with perfumed joy and I grow flowers so that the bees and butterflies come and say hello!

    • sbranch says:

      It sounds like you have it all Sandra! xoxo I think I foresee the country life in your future.

  83. Lisa R says:

    Susan, for so long I have loved the quotes you put here from Gladys Taber, and I’ve read every single thing you’ve said about her, but never had read any of her books myself. Well, I finally put a few on hold at the library, and they came in last week. All I can say is “why did I wait so long!” I love her writing so much!! I’ve already ordered 3 of her books, the one’s I could afford. The Best of Stillmeadow is $75 or more everywhere I looked. Maybe I’ll find it more affordable some day. But I will enjoy the 3 that are on their way. So much to love about her country life. Brings back so many memories, and as much as I appreciate and love my country life, she reminds me why to be thankful even more. Thank you so much for sharing her here. I never would have known of her otherwise. Happy 4th!! I love your beautiful big flag across your beautiful home. ♥

    • sbranch says:

      Yay! It really makes my day to know her work is being remembered. Thank you Lisa.

      • Sylvia in Seattle says:

        I’ve acquired two Gladys T. books, Amber a Very Personal Cat and Still Cove with lovely drawings. Thanks to you I am reading her lovely way with words. Also finished the very old copy of Elizabeth and Her German Garden found in your vintage things. Love this old book with the William Morris style cover design – it sits near my blooming window box. Then I sent for an audio version of Elizabeth in Rugen which was so fun to listen to while stitching away on my latest project. Susan, you are the source of much pleasure for which I thank you.

        • sbranch says:

          I’m just the messenger. But happy to be that. Surrounding ourselves in things such as your old book does make life sweeter. xoxo

  84. Nancy West says:

    Thank you for a cheery, friendship-filled, patriotic blog to begin the second half of 2014! Where did the first half go? I’m still not used to writing 2014 yet! Sounds like you “almost” took a vacation at home, showing your friends around your corner of the world! Martha’s Vineyard is still on my bucket list. (Maybe in 2015 while living my 65th year! What a treat that would be!)
    I have been wondering something about you…..I know you “collect” things, because you show them and share them with us. Like many other people, I’m beginning to let go of a few things, although it is very hard. Do you have a secret solution for storing things when you are not using them? I know we all tend to have “too much stuff.” I admire the pictures you send, like when you set a pretty table, or display dishes or cups or figurines. Everything always looks so neat and tidy! I like to change things out with the seasons. So I just wondered if you have a “system.” (We don’t have basements where I live, and my attic is becoming a challenge because of the ladder.) Maybe you could include this info in one of your blogs sometime, as I know most of us deal with storage “opportunities.”
    HAPPY 4th of JULY!!!!! (Flag wave, flag wave!)

    • sbranch says:

      My secret isn’t a secret, it’s hutches. See some wall space? Get a hutch that fills it. Then fill the hutch. If you have a very big wall space and a little tiny hutch, that is part of the problem. Wasted wall space. 🙂 I have my holiday decorations in the hutches, extra dishes too, holiday and dinner-party pretty bowls. Two hutches in the living room, two in the dining room, two in the front bedroom and hall, one in our room, I think that’s all. Napkins, tablecloths, everything goes there. Don’t start giving things you love away until the very last moment, that’s my take on it — 65, you’re young!

      • Julia says:

        I agree about the hutches. That’s the key. When I
        downsized, I saved one large wall piece for every room.
        I gave two to my daughter so when I go stay with her,
        I can still enjoy seeing them! I even had one built in
        my bathroom because I had no linen closet. They are
        the way to go. About the flowers in England. The roses
        were fabulous. Roses don’t grow in the south like they
        do in cooler climates. I was in heaven! Mid June is the
        time to go. I’m already trying to figure out how I can
        get back!

    • Susan P. says:

      Nancy, Oh you are so young…yes you are. My aunt Agatha is 102 and half today! I am 63 and so proud of it! We have been going thru my Aunts things and OH WHAT TREASURES… I hope I end up like her, collecting until the last possibly moment. My husband gave me some very good advice once.. “You can have anything you want as long as it has a purpose and you use it and you don’t hide it away” WELL WHEN I BOUGHT A SPECIAL PRINT..HE ASKED AND IT’S PURPOSE? I SAID, “I LOVE IT AND IT FILLS UP A BARE SPOT IN THE FRONT ROOM” HE SAID, “VERY GOOD” …. LOVE THAT MAN. But not just to you but also the other girlfriends…we all collect or inherit or find wonderful things. That is what brings us happiness and even a little peace when we look at them through out the day. It is how YOU create YOUR WORLD for yourself and your family. IT IS YOU…..IN ART! I know to many women who are around our age that are cleaning out….Oh My Heart Aches…For they are doing some of this with tears in their eyes. I try and figure ways to hold on to some of the things and give them dual PURPOSE… an old glass humidor (no lid) has become a vase… and like Susan Branch says hutches and cupboards that are well organized can store our seasonal things. Whew I am out of breath…but this a subject that is so dear to me….I use all of things I have and enjoy them everyday. So take another look at your wonderful treasures and hopefully you will be keeping most of them and giving them another PURPOSE… Creating keeps us young to. ooopppss this longer than I intend so I quickly will jump off the soap box and say have a great day and ENJOY, ENJOY and Enjoy Again, your life and all the beauty of what you have created and made…which is you and your home. Love, Susan P.

  85. Holly Barnes says:

    The garden and flowers are glorious! Kitties do teach one to slow down and enjoy the creature comforts, and they are so decorative, besides.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, decorative — the best looking rooms in my house are the ones with the kitties in them!

  86. Teresa says:

    Hello Susan and welcome back! I have checked your blog daily and was so excited to see you back. I really enjoyed sharing your adventures with your fun girlfriends from way back! I love the bond girlfriends share from times shared and gone by!! It’s like sharing a fun secret treasure that only we all know and understand and enjoy!!
    I love your garden, kitty’s and being “with” you!! Happy 4th! God bless America! XOXO Teresa

  87. Candice OHIO says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful “full of Summertime” blog full of flowers, girlfriends and all the yummy recipes! I have a “garden of weeden” so the saying goes, I just don’t know where they all come from…I think when it rains, which we have had several inches in the past couple of weeks, it has been raining weed seeds and they instantly grow! LOL! I love your New Dawn rose and the lovely pink Hollyhocks, I have deep pink Hollyhocks and also Black Hollyhocks (with our last name being Black I had to have them), Shasta Daisies, Hosta, Butterfly Weed, Yarrow, Lilies and Roses in bloom. Best of all was when I turned the page of my calendar to July and there are your birthday wishes signed on my daughter and my dates! Great memories from meeting you last year!
    Have a brilliant fourth of July holiday!! Happy Birthday USA!! Hugs, Candice

  88. Nancy B says:

    I’ve missed you, Susan. So glad you shared about the visit with your girlfriends. Sounds like they were treated royally. I must purchase some vanilla bean….That cake looks so yummy! I made your cream scones recently. So good! We are having very hot weather here this week…close to 110 degrees today.

    Enjoy the rest of the summer!

    Nancy (from Bakersfield)

    • sbranch says:

      Pretty warm here too Nancy, but my little fiefdom (the studio) has an air conditioner so I’m all tucked in against the humidity. If you find Vanilla Bean to be outrageously priced where you are, call up LeRoux Kitchen here on the island and order one from them, the price is about 1/12th of what it is in our local grocery store. Stay cool Girl. xoxo

  89. Penny says:

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time with your friends, and then that sweet melancholy when they left- no wonder you needed some time to reflect, and assimilate all that had happened, before starting work again. Love the ‘Rose and Bee’ pattern from Emma B, I have a side plate of the same pattern and love using it. Enjoy your 4th July celebrations x

  90. Petra Matthew says:

    I DID miss you a lot, because I love your blog. I looked every day, but I do understand you need some time for yourself as we all do. Looking forward to your new book. Any idea when it comes out yet?

    Petra from the Netherlands

    • sbranch says:

      Not yet, I was away for it for a while, but I have clear sailing the rest of the summer so we’ll see what happens. Have a wonderful day Petra!

  91. Julia says:

    Love your summer blog. I know how you feel about being lazy. I feel that
    way myself. It took several days after my trip to rest up a little but I
    still felt lazy. Didn’t you just love the small front door gardens in England?
    I’ve just ordered some decorative fencing to go by my front steps for
    a little 12 by 12 garden that I will stuff with flowers. The deer are such
    a problem here. I’m having at least 2 sets of company in July so I will
    use your ideas, especially the upside down cake. Yum! Thanks for keeping
    us inspired. Time to turn the calendar.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, and some of them with trees and bushes and everything, I don’t know how they do it. Magic.

  92. Janet says:

    Oh Susan, I know what it’s like to dismiss an entire day from the calendar! I’m in charge of my parish’s Sunday school and distributed a schedule that left off Sunday, March 30, this year. I would have given the kids a ‘spring break’ but we couldn’t take another Sunday off because of all the snow days we had (remember those?). I guess March just looked full enough without a fifth Sunday!

  93. deezie says:

    Good Morning Susan
    I was so happy to see you had a new post. I really enjoyed seeing your friends from school, what fun that must have been. Your Garden is just beautiful. I really can’t wait for your new book to come out. Have fun on the 4th!!!

  94. Heather L. says:

    Such a lovely treat to read your blog post this morning! Can’t wait to try the squash salad — yours looks beautiful!!! Have a wonderful Fourth of July!

  95. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Happy 4th sweet Sue! Hubby and I are going to the lake this weekend to watch fireworks. There is a sweet camp store that sells great hand dipped ice cream. We were there on Friday the 13th to watch the strawberry moon rise over the lake….beautiful! We went back for seconds on the ice cream ghost night!! It’s summer, right? No rules! I’m making Harvey ham for sandwiches for the 4th. It’s easy and oh so good! Well the garden is calling me, we had a thunderstorm last night, and you know how clean and crisp the world is after a good ole rainstorm. I need to go check it out. Hugs to you and smooshes to the kitties.

    • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Hmmm….Harvey Ham! Please share the recipe!

      • Joy Pence from Ohio says:

        You can google it, very easy. Cook a ham butt in your crock for 6-8 hours on low putting enough water to cover ham half way. Pour off the water and shred the ham, add about 2 cups brown sugar and 1/4 cup mustard, mix all together, heat back up in the crock pot. Serve on buns. It’s amazing! The recipes on line call for a lot of brown sugar, it’s too much in my opinion. Enjoy Chris!

        • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

          Thank you Joy! It sounds easy. I will have to remember that one to take to work and feed the guys!

  96. Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    We missed you, but so glad you had a great time with the girls and then you deserve a little R&R just for you! Yes summer IS here! It’s HOT! And then with all this rain we have had, guess what? We have weeds. Like the one GF said, it’s raining weed seeds. I have pulled weeds by the wheelbarrow load. I don’t think I will ever catch up.
    Just last night I said to Jim, “look at this?! The county wants us to pay our taxes on July 31!
    There is no July 31st! Meanwhile, in my head I am saying 30 days has September…..
    Oh now I remember! I have to go find that fix and WA LA! There you were saying hi and you even had the link to the fix already posted! I should have done it when you first put it up. Procrastination!
    Happy Fourth Susan! Have fun, hope the storm misses you! Kitty kisses to the kitties!

    • sbranch says:

      I was thinking of YOU Chris, no 31st, no taxes! WaLa!

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Too bad your county office didn’t have a SB July calendar!
      “Wa La” (love that) what 31st??
      Hopefully there are SOME flowers coming up!

  97. Sue Rideout from Maine says:

    Happy July to you! I have some plates that match your ant napkins! Small world…..

  98. Janice says:

    How lucky you are to have such a beautiful place to take your walks…I live in the country on a dead-end road and walk most days to the end. There are no houses, just nature. My favorite part is the pond near a spring where I hope to see the owl that lives nearby, beavers swimming in the pond, heron looking for breakfast, or turtles sunning on the bank. Sometimes deer run across the road in front of me and one time I saw a coyote (Yikes! Get the cats indoors!). Makes me so appreciative of the little things! I can’t imagine having a BEACH at the end of my walk – does your walk take half the day? 🙂
    OH, and I’m so jealous of your hydrangea blooms – our winter was so unusually cold here in Alabama and the blooms are few. They make such easy and gorgeous arrangements and I miss them. Happy summer to you!

    • sbranch says:

      When the tide is low we can take an alternate route across the beach for maybe a quarter of a mile . . . that’s when the walk takes longer — must look for sea glass and yellow shells . . . your walk sounds wonderful!

  99. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Oh, I loved this post all full of the things that make Summer so rich and full@! I admit to checking your site everyday waiting for you to write us even though I knew you were busy with friends and all the activity that warm weather delights us with. Your photos and links about Nancy Luce caught my attention big time. What an inspiration she was despite the huge barriers in her life. To me, there is a message of healing with her sweet chickens. Often chickens are viewed as stupid and only worth a source of food. Nancy took the time to form relationships with them and saw something so beautiful and comforting in their daily exchanges. Her life is a beautiful testimony of embracing what she had and finding joy and life sustaining help in those things she could manage. Thank-you for giving her due credit for the hard life she lived to the best of her ability. We all need to have unsung heroes in our lives to give us hope and gratitude to face our own hard days!

    • sbranch says:

      All animals are that way as far as I’m concerned, some might have to eat you (because of natural impulse, not their fault really), so those we stay away from, but I’m sure a chicken is a wonderful loving pet too. Yes, Nancy was a very special person.

  100. Pam from Florida says:

    Lazy summer days – I loved the post! I block out my calendar every July (lazy summer) and January (calm after the holidays): no appointments, no meetings, nothing that hints at work or duty or routine. Using those two months to play or rest or plan — doing just what I want to do, not what I should do is my gift to me.

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