I was born nostalgic for things I could not have a memory of ~ I just came out that way.  For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in old things, old MUSICA, old movies, old houses and gardens, and especially stories of how people lived in the olden days.  I’ve always loved history, I think because it’s nostalgia sanctified.  So I belonged to Martha’s Vineyard the first moment I saw it because nostalgia is a way of life here so much so that it’s called “tradition.”  People return to the island summer after summer looking for a connection to the past and they find it, alive and well.


You see it pretty much everywhere you go, the narrow streets, the fireworks in August, the ferry as it comes and goes,  the meadows and fields, the view over Nashaquitsa Pond from South Road.  Here we are at Nip and Tuck Farm (now a farmstand called Ghost Island Farm).

everything old



For years it was a dairy farm (famously owned by Fred Fisher) as you can see by the bottles decorating the back wall of the store.  I used to go there for ice cold milk from their fridge and drink it in the car as I drove to the beach.  It was the most delicious milk in the world.


When you go there now, they are playing music the old-fashioned way . . . our MUSICA today is what was playing while we were there . . .♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Look at those beautiful beets!  I couldn’t help but take a picture.


flat leaf parsley

We were there to pick up fresh veggies, arugula, green onions, and parsley so I could make one of our favorite Summer Traditions, something no summer of ours would be complete without, homemade Crab Cakes.  I thought it would be fun to take you into the kitchen while I do it . . . because it’s easier than you would ever imagine and makes the restaurant-made ones pale in sad comparison. 


canned crab

We bought this canned crab meat at our fish market here on the island and you should be able to find it at your supermarket. If not, The Net Result (freshest most wonderful fish, they have lobsters too) will ship it to you.  It’s pricey, around $25 a pound, but it’s all pure meat.  And this recipe serves eight.  And btw, a 3 oz. serving of this crab meat has 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, and no carbs.  ‘Course that all changes by the time I’m finished with it!



“Lump crab” is what you need ~ but they’ve gone a little nuts with that “lump” and now you can be totally confused because there’s “colossal lump,” “super lump,” and “jumbo lump.”  Ridiculous crab namers.  You don’t want claw meat, because crab cakes should look like crab, so the lump you want is the one just above claw, which in our case was “Super.”  That’s plenty big enough.  You drain it, rinse it, and then break it up a little bit.  You have to do that so the pieces will be small enough to stick together, but big enough to say I’M A CRAB when someone cuts into it. I really don’t like it when I cut into a Crab Cake and say, “Where’s the crab?”  That won’t happen with this recipe.



From then on it’s a piece of cake.  Two egg whites go into a large bowl . . .



then 2/3 c. of mayonnaiseborder


some Dijon mustard


worcestershire sauce

and Worcestershire sauce



A couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice . . .



which you’ll need to strain so you don’t get any seeds



chopped fresh parsley



a half-cup of minced green onion . . .



Here we stop: This is where I may have gone a little bit wrong. And you know Girlfriends, I am not here to lead you astray.  girlartThis Crab Cake recipe (on page 86 of my Summer Book) calls for 1 and 1/4 tsp. of cayenne.  The quote on the bottom of that page says, “Woe to the cook whose sauce has no sting.” (Chaucer)  Well, no woe to any cook around here, because sting is what there is plenty of.  I will say that there was not a crumb left on anyone’s plate, they were DELICIOUS.  But if you make this, I suggest you put in only one teaspoon of cayenne.  That’s all the woelessness you really need — go change it in your book as soon as you’re done here.  Thank you.



Then add a bit of salt, a half-cup of fresh bread crumbs (you make yourself in a food processor)  ~  Stir it together well, then gently fold in the crab meat.

Crab cakes

This makes either eight large cakes or sixteen small cakes (about 3″ in diameter for the small ones), however you choose to do it.  Form the little cakes, pat more fresh breadcrumbs on each side, put them on a flat surface and into the fridge for at least an hour before cooking them.


While I was making the crab cakes, Joe’s niece Arabella stopped by for a surprise visit from Oregon with her daughter Ava.  Arabella is Joe’s brother’s daughter and she, along with her husband Blair, make their most delicious Trathen Hall wines in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Joe’s family is all beautiful like this:


Family faces


Here are the present and the future, and we who know them can definitely see the past.  You can see between the first photo and this one, Ava is warming to the camera.  And in the next one, she is her normal natural self, along with her beautiful mom.


Exhaust the little moment



We had to stop everything to enjoy this precious moment. I knew you would like it.  But too soon they were on their way again. As you can imagine, they are a very popular pair and had rounds to make, friends and family to see and not ever enough time.


And I was back to the Crab Cake project, making up a batch of homemade Tartar Sauce to go along with.  Another easy, fast recipe (both recipes with all the correct measurements will be at the bottom of this post) ~ a quick stir of mayonnaise, minced parsley, capers, minced green onion, minced sweet pickle (or relish), and cider vinegar produces the most fabulous concoction, fantastic with fish, amazing with French fries.



And VOILA if I do say so myself.  The Crab Cakes are broiled, four minutes on each side until toasty brown.  See all the chunks of crab meat in there?  Serve them with a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice.



I put the cakes on a bed of arugula along with the lemon and the Tartar Sauce for the first course of our dinner with friends.


Here’s what the cakes look like inside.  They actually taste BETTER than this picture looks.  I hope you try them.


Mas MUSICA?  Oui?  And now, speaking of Traditions, how about Library Days? First off, this was the pretty article that ran in the Sunday Cape Cod Times the day before I was to appear at the West Falmouth Library.  I didn’t see it myself, but one of our Girlfriends was kind enough to send it to me (Thank you Pennie!).


The event was perfect, sold out with seventy-five people in attendance and all the proceeds went to support the Library.  It could not have been nicer.



This library has been around for a hundred and fifty years. It was started by five young women in the mid 1870’s in the quiet farming village of Falmouth.  From the start, as you can imagine, it was a focal point for the community.  It’s still in the same building where it’s been since 1896 and has evolved beautifully to the information age, as a library (and all of us) should do, in keeping with tradition and a nostalgic eye on the future.

West Falmouth Library

I talked about my inspiration for A FINE ROMANCE, how I got the idea to do a diary of our trip through the English Countryside and how all of you came along as stowaways and how much fun that was.  There were lots of questions.  Here I am, trying to explain how we felt while Joe drove the narrow back roads, squished between hedgerows and cottage walls on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road.  Do I look scared?  I should!

my paintbrush, doing what comes naturally

learning to paint

I’m immersed in nostalgia these days, because we are going waaaay back in time with my newest book and it could not be more fun to paint and write. I’ve been looking through lots of old diaries and photos . . . here’s a photo when I’m just teaching myself to paint, about five years before moving to Martha’s Vineyard.  I’m in Hawaii, but I’m so excited about my new hobby, I had to bring that metal box full of my art things on vacation with me.

hearts and flowers

I’ll leave you with this, one more little step back in time, because despite the crazy wildness of the days in which we live, this is who we are and who we will always be.  We just have to remember that and make it come alive in our own lives.  For balance.



Byee, love you  have a wonderful time wherever you are! XOXO

C R A B    C A K E S

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. minced parsley
  • 1/2 c. minced green onion
  • 1 tsp. cayenne (don’t be afraid, this is perfect)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 lbs. lump crab meat, drained and rinsed (“Super lump” I would say)
  • 2 c. fresh bread crumbs (I make mine from sour dough bread and don’t let them get too fine)
  • lemon wedges

Drain and rinse the crab meat.  Make sure there’s no shell in it while breaking it up a bit.  If the pieces are really big, it will be hard for the cake to hold together, but you still want them big enough to show .  Stir together first nine ingredients, then gently fold in the crab meat and 1/2 c. of bread crumbs.  Form the mixture either into 8 large patties or 16 small ones (small ones would be a little under 3″ in diameter); press bread crumbs into each side, place them on a flat surface and refrigerate them for an hour or more.  This helps them hold together when they cook, which they do, perfectly.  TO COOK: preheat the broiler, put the rack four inches from the heat source.  Put the cakes on a lightly oiled sheet pan and broil them 4″ from the heat for 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Serve on a bed of arugula with lemon wedges and Tartar Sauce.

T A R T A R   S A U C E

  • 1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. capers
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. minced parsley
  • 3 tsp. minced green onion
  • 3 tsp. minced sweet pickle (or sweet pickle relish)
  • 2 1/4 Tbsp. cider vinegar

Blend ingredients and chill.

hearts and flowers

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402 Responses to NOSTALGIA and me.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Susan, those crab cakes look beyond fantastic and delicious! I love crab, it is the best!! You know, you aren’t the only one full of nostalgia and things of yore. Me too! For some reason, the past 3 years have drawn me to learning more about the years my parents and grandparents were growing up. Roughly, starting with the 1880s and going up through my childhood of the 1950s and early 60s. So many things happened and there were so many discoveries and changes. And then there is the weird sense of comfort in using my mom’s old cookbook and a few of her kitchen things I have to make a meal. I have the kitchen cupboard made by my brother in shop class where there are notes in pencil on the doors. I can see where everything was stored in our tiny kitchen. After my mom died, I tracked down this handmade piece, contacted the owner , who had her pottery stuff in it in her basement, told her the story , and begged her to let me have it. She did and I paid an antique furniture hauler to pick it up and bring it to me way down here. Everyone, including my brother thought I was nuts. But I had to have it! Nostalgia became obsession until it entered my house. It still has the original sticky back shelf paper that has been there for years that mom put in. So, I join you in loving and cherishing those things in our lives that are nostalgic! They make such a difference to people like us!!

  2. Jack says:

    We were camping in Sequoia and noticed our 6 year old Stephen was missing … I’m running all over the camping area looking for him ….following trails down into gorges and over hills like a madman for a couple hours …. Finally , as i’ m coming back into camp again…. there is the green Ranger pick-up truck slowly coming down the road , so I waved him down to report a lost child ….when I goest to the truck ….there was Steven sitting on the seat beside the Ranger , not in the least perturbed . The Ranger said ,” Stephen had wandered into their headquarters , which was about a mile away from our camp …It’ s
    Weird feeling to be angry and happy and thankful , at the same time ….Mom , Pat was crying with joy down on her knees in the pine needles , hugging him ….so all was well in
    Smallville —-until later that evening when the huge black bear was ranging around our camp
    just on the edge of the coleman lantern light , he was trying to get up nerve to come in to
    get food ….. My only weapon was a tent flap post I had made with a nail in it to hold the flap up …. So I threw it at him like a spear … But it turned and fluttered , hitting him flat
    Across the chest …. He let out a huge roar ….. Dropped down on all four feet and totally insulted , sauntered off into the night . ….Whew , we were so lucky … I guess the bear had learned from the Ranger , who we saw , when he ran after a bear and beat the heck out of it with hIs Billy club —telling us the only way to make them stay away is to smack ’em .
    Yes , he was a big Ranger ….

    • sbranch says:

      I loved Smallville ~ ♥

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      good story! gave me the chills!!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        I can remember one summer when we finally got mom to go camping with us, dad got a trailer and had rigged an outdoor shower for us kids, while mom had her indoor shower. mom was happy with the trailer, dad was too, no chance of my brothers inviting a striped furry critter in again for a visit. we were near Gardenerville, Nevada camping at the time, near a meadow and one day mom decided to use our shower for a change and was happily sudsing up when we heard her screaming, and came running… a cow wandered into her shower and mom was wrapped in her towel and screaming bloody murder over that cow visiting her in the shower. it just poked it’s nose to say hello, but mom did not think it was so funny. after that she refused to use the shower outside, or the potty dad had rigged up with a curtain around it, it was just a porta potty but it was nice to have as otherwise we would have to go into town to use the gas station bathrooms. after that mom and dad sort of lost interest in camping, wonder why??? LOL!!!! 🙂

      • deborah.t.norling says:

        I think I would love to read a book written by Jack and Susan with illustrations of course..remembering the family tales !! .I was full of emotion reading this recap of a family adventure…I’m sure there are thousands more to share.

      • pat addison ( cave junction,OR) :) says:

        hmm wonder if that works with prowling cows. we took mom on one of our camping trips ( the one where she swore off camping forever) and dad had rigged an outdoor shower for her, complete with shower curtain for privacy and a sun shower for warm water. well she was using it and a cow wandered into camp from the meadow near us, and boy was she hollering and screaming. there she was wrapped in her towel, suds still on her and she was screaming, we could not figure out the problem until we looked in the shower and there was the cow standing under the shower and enjoying the warm water on her back. we were in hysterics laughing and dad showed up to see what was going on and so did the rangers. I have never in my life seen my mom so embarrassed, that’s okay she never saw is kids laugh so hard before. hehehehehe!!!!

        • Deborah T. Norling says:

          OOOH PAT that is hilarious !! …I think you also need to write a book with all of your entertaining stories !

          • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

            I don’t know, I think my family would probably shoot me if I did…LOL!!!

    • Joan Lesmeister says:

      yikes b.d. jack..i was holding my breath – scary stories – but wonderful times in between!

  3. Sharon at The Farm in South Carolina says:

    Enjoyed the description and photos of the Ghost Island Farm[stand]. I wish I could live in a place as wonderful as Martha’s Vineyard . . . maybe one a little bit closer to the Carolinas though. I also enjoyed the reading about the Crab Cakes, one of my favorite dishes, and I cannot wait to try this recipe. It is always nice to read your Dad’s replies on your Blog. How scary that must have been to see your dog Nipper chasing a bear! We just got home from a canoe trip to the North Carolina mountains with our grandchildren on Friday and guess what was waiting for me at our gate? My Collection of 2014 Susan Branch Calendars! I am so excited about the size of the blotter plus all the other special sizes and I cannot wait to use them all, but I wish this year would slow down a bit and not be rushing right along.

  4. Wendy Louise says:

    Dear Susan ,
    As I just sat down to connect with you and the girls, I just did my Monday morning chore, hanging the bed sheets and towels out on the line, it’s tradition ! My Momma does it and my grandmother did it . Call me old-fashion, I love it ! What a wonderful post and once again a beautiful connection. My home is my peaceful haven where I can throw myself into domestic bliss, inside and outside. What a beautiful day it is, on my early morning walk with Tucker we saw nature going about it’s business along the Merrimac River, a beautiful pair of Kingfishers, Orioles, bluebirds, Turkey’s, and lots of fish jumping. Now I am off to do some gardening before more inside work, this is such a heavenly day, oh how blessed we are. Thank- you for a peek into your beautiful world. Oh, those beautiful people in your family, so, so, lovely ! OX

  5. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    Although I love to learn about the lives of my great grandmother, grandmother and mother; I realize it is good and we are lucky to have running water, a frig, gas or electric stoves, automatic washers, and of course flush toilets. We can still use the pretty things and the great recipes!!! I am nostagic for my own childhood, because times were quieter and simpler and life was easier for Mom to make HOME magic. Families were intact for the most part and Mom’s were there when one came home from school. Cookies anyone???
    I think those times left us after the Sixties. I tried to keep life this way for my children by living very frugal, but it is getting harder and harder for today’s families, especially when groceries cost a small fortune!

    • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      I could not agree more! I really think I grew up in the best era! Times were still gentle, the war was over, moms for the most part were home, meals were served sitting around the table, we played outside. We had all the modern convieniences we needed, refrigerators, stoves and indoor plumbing! We didn’t have a lot of money, but I never felt poor, we always had plenty to eat. Television was new and relatively harmless and the library was within walking distance. We played tag and hide and seek, cowboys and Indians, we used our imaginations. I really feel blessed by my childhood.

  6. Samantha says:

    I love this nostalgia post and like you I find myself loving everything old! I love that you embrace traditions and share that part of your life with us! I am also so happy you shared the crab cake recipe with us. My mom has your Summer cookbook and I was unable to snag it before I moved half way across the country! :p
    Hope you are enjoying your summer! XOXO

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      Maybe your mom will get you one for Christmas. LOL My little sisters tried to “snag” things too. LOL

  7. Marianne in Mo. says:

    Would you believe I have never had crab or lobster!???!! I never had shrimp until I was about 18. The closest I got to “seafood” was catfish – not seafood at all! )and I hate catfish now) Guess my mom didn’t know or didn’t like seafood, but it could be that we never saw it much here in the Midwest. At 60 yrs. old, I think I should trey crab and lobster before too long – I just may not be able to tell if it’s prepared well or not! ;-/
    Loved your niece and her daughter – so pretty!

    • sbranch says:

      I never had lobster until I came to New England, we didn’t have it in California when I lived there, but I’ve made up for lost time!

  8. Deborah B. says:

    Hi Susan, Joe’s great niece is a little beauty! The crab cakes look so yummy, can’t wait to try them! Am still enjoying your book, A Fine Romance! Love it, as well as your other books! I too, am very nostalgic and love history, especially about my ancestors. I am from the Appalachian area of Ashville, North Carolina. We moved away while I was in the 7th grade, 1963, to the Atlanta, Ga. area—culture shock!!! And that was in the early 60s. In the late 50s our family moved from the town of Ashville out to the country to live with my grandmother when my grandfather died. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!!!. It was wonderful living with my grandmother who cooked on a wood cookstove, heated all our water on the stove, as we had no running hot water, only cold, and heated the OLD house with a coal burning potbellied stove. No indoor plumbing, if you know what I mean. :o) Outhouse, but with toilet paper, no corncobs for us! :-/ My mother and grandmother scrubbed our clothes in the old wash tubs and obviously hung them on the line to dry. They ironed everything from sheets to PJs to dish towels to actual clothes. Mamaw always had a big garden even before my grandfather died and the only thing that changed about it was that it just got bigger as there were six of us kids to feed. She was an amazing cook!!!! We siblings still compare everything we eat to Mamaw’s cooking! We still go for visits with relatives who still live on that same country road back in the mountains, and I’m still close friends with and still visit with the girl who also lived on the same road—we’ve been friends since 3rd grade…1959. My dear grandmother died in 1983 of cancer and I still miss her. She had such a profound and wonderful influence on me. She was such a hard worker but always with a wonderful sense of humor and twinkle in her eye. Thank you so much, Susan, for this wonderful post, it encouraged me to stop for a while and remember and reflect on the gift of wonderful memories of my beloved grandmother. Nostalgia, coupled with actual memories, is indeed a lovely gift. Have a wonderful day!

    Smiles, Deborah :o)

  9. Linda Ishmael says:

    I too love old things and even as a child I was drawn to my grandparents attics full of old “stuff”!! I loved hearing stories of their lives and when I married my husband’s aunts and uncles shared their old stories and stuff with me. One of my biggest delights was an old family friend of my husband’s who in the 1980s still cooked on a wood stove!! Her food was the most delicious. I often wondered if I was born at the wrong time. Thanks for the crab cake recipe also another favorite thing. Hope they were scrumptious down to the last bite!!

  10. Susan Krupa says:

    Bought your 2014 calendar last year, just realized your proof reader
    forgot there are 31 days in July, yup no 31 for July.

    • sbranch says:

      It would be nice to blame the proofreader! I’ve written about this missing day a few times, here and on Facebook ~ I’m so afraid there are some who haven’t seen it . . . but go here, Susan, for a weak “explanation” and much better “fix.” Thank you!

  11. Mamey Brown says:

    Ya know…everytime I read a new post I say, “this is my favorite”….I should just stop saying that…..I just can’t get enough of this website!! All the past “About Me” sections and the past “Willards” and posts…..ahhhh!! I just can’t stop reading!…This is really a treasure to be able to come here and read words that I have felt or experienced for myself. We are all like-minded girlfriends and I find such comfort in that. Thank You, Susan for sharing your world and bringing us all together. Also, for all the girlfriends sharing their stories as well. I feel so blessed to have found this place. I have never met any of you, but I feel like we’ve known each other our entire lives!!

    • Mamey,
      I love reading your replies and feel the same way about Susan, the blog and this great company of girlfriends.
      So great to be connected in this way — and although we love the good, old days and reminiscing, it is awesome that we have modern technology to keep us connected.
      Take care and keep posting!
      Nancye T.

  12. Pat Mofjeld from Minnesota says:

    Would it be sacrilege to ask if this recipe would also work with a can of salmon or tuna? I know a lot of recipes call for celery, etc., added to the latter two but after I pick out the skin and bones in the can of salmon, it gags me to hit the celery and think I missed one of the spine bones…LOL! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      How do you eat? When I read your other comment when you said you were going to make the crab cakes, I thought someone had stolen your computer! 🙂 Now it’s canned salmon and skin? How can you even think about it?

      • deborah.t.norling says:

        I was going to ask about salmon instead of crab too..I’m not fond of crab..and for Pat…the smaller cans of salmon…tuna sized cans…are pure meat…I know they are a tad more expensive but..I’m not a fan of sifting through the larger sized cans for the decent bits of fish.

        • sbranch says:

          If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they have wonderful wild salmon — it’s frozen, but salmon is one of the fish that can freeze well.

          • Deborah T. Norling says:

            Great idea ! Thank you !

          • Pat Mofjeld from Minnesota says:

            Ugh, Susan–are you telling me that you are one of those people who actually EAT the gray skin and bones that are sometimes found in cans of salmon??? Let’s do a survey–I’ll bet I’m not the only squeamish one out there! The only thing worse is jars of pickled herring that look like chunks of pickled snake meat! LOL! 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            We all have our limits, I’m sure you’re right Pat!

          • Jack says:

            Sue we had fried Salmon patties just the other day and when Jeanie was sifting through ,getting it ready , I couldn’t help remembering when your Mom would do that … Only when she found those round spine bones she’d pop ’em in her mouth …. And crunch they were gone ….She said they were good calcium …she’s nice and healthy , so they didn’t hurt her …

          • sbranch says:

            Brat. 🙂

          • Jack says:

            When those people in the jungles on TV , program called ,” Naked and Afraid ” kill snakes they cook ’em up ….. Even eat their unlaid snake eggs — and think the food is wonderful ! The last one I saw was a Cottonmouth in the swamps of Louisiana. So much for personal taste said the old lady as she kissed the cow !

          • sbranch says:

            Dad the only thing wrong with this comment is that now everyone knows you watch Naked and Afraid! LOL!

  13. Jenny Stiles says:

    Oh how wonderful to read your Crab Cake recipe!!! I was just lucky enough to fnd a copy of your summer book this past weekend and as I was reading though it I saw the crab cake recipe and was getting my next grocery list together so that I can make crab cakes this coming weekend. You must read my mind! Just when I find one of your books in a bookstore you seem to write about something that pertains to the very book!! LOL You have a devoted friend!

  14. Diane V. says:

    I, too, am a nostalgia “nut”! I love cooking with utensils and pans that belonged to my mom and grandmothers….it makes me feel such a connection to them. I especially love using their recipes, even if it’s hard to decipher what they meant….ingredients weren’t always measured, just suggested! Oh well, I guess that’s part of the fun!

    • Karen Saunders says:

      I hear ya. When my Mom died the first thing I did was go to her kitchen and take the slotted spoon with the turquoise handle, her biscuit and cookie cutters, several other things I grew up watching her prepare our meals with. I was afraid they wouldn’t mean as much to anyone else and I didn’t want them to be thrown out or given away.

    • Joan H. says:

      Diane V. , I did the same thing & treasure a serving spoon my Grandmother owned . I think of her preparing & feeding her large family of seven children , so many decades ago …..during the Great Dpression . It’s the only material thing I have from her , as other relatives took grandfather’s watches , portraits , etc. ……..but I have the most precious memories of her , which no one can take away .

  15. Karen Saunders says:

    Nostalgia is a funny thing. I love all old things as well but I think it’s because back in the early 50’s when I was very young the memories were good and they were sweet. It was a wonderful time to grow up. A safe time. I loved being with my grandma, her house was a big old victorian, nothing fancy but I can remember the smell, my grandfather putting me in the wheelbarrow and hauling me around the flower and veg. garden. Spending the night with them and laying in bed and hearing the trucks use their ‘jake-brakes’ as they down-shifted very late at night going through town. You can’t help but cling to things that make you feel good and take you back to a better time.

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Karen, I think you are exactly right! Those days-50’s- I recall with such happiness. I would wait for my dad to come home from work. He always backed in our long driveway. When I saw him, I ran to meet him and he let me stand on the back of the truck as he drove in. When it was dark, in the summer, my dad would sit on the milk box and I on the step and he would point out the Big Dipper to me. I remember my sister and I making up our own games to play outside. Like you said–good, sweet memories!

      • Karen Saunders says:

        My brother and I would do the same thing….play cars and build roads in the dirt. We entertained ourselves for hours without one electronic device. Imagine that!!

        • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

          My dad would dump a load of sand behind the garage and my sister and I would spend hours playing back there! Yep, imagine that!

  16. cecelia says:

    Arabella is as beautiful as her name. So cute smiling in that last picture.
    I’m going to make these crabcakes! Look so yummy.
    Just finished reading my copy of One Fine Romance for the second time. Looking forward (impatiently) for your next book. Hurry please!

  17. Janet in Rochester says:

    Love the old-timey grocery store photos and story. And those beets ARE beautiful, aren’t they? Gee, I ALWAYS forget about beets when shopping and cooking. But they’re so good for us – we need more great recipes for the Humble Beet. :>)

    • sbranch says:

      I have some really good ones, I’ll do one of them soon.

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        I have one that is really simple. roast the beets in the oven, melt some unsalted butter, when the beets come out of the oven, put in a large bowl, add melted butter, salt and pepper and chow down.

    • Juli says:

      They are beautiful and delishous looking! Did you notice the face on the white one on the bottom left?! 🙂 the girls are beautiful as well!

      • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        Just had a chance to look back at the beets! Oh how funny! Thank you for seeing that! Love it!

  18. Denise from Wpg says:

    Thanks for such a lovely post!
    Especially sharing such lovely family photos. Your great niece is a cherub ! she
    looks as if she can be a rascal too.
    Now I am hungry for crab cakes, I am from England and love all crab,plaice, cod
    etc . As a child we had a lot of crab paste and malt vinegar soaked cucumber sandwiches ! Looking forward to getting my new calenders and Fine Romance
    love from Wpg Canada

  19. Marty from NYC says:

    The romance of the past is very compelling. My grandmother grew up in New Brunswick , Canada and we would go back to visit her brother and his wife who remained on the family property. I was fascinated by the root cellar (no refrigerator), the pump to the well (sweetest cold water anywhere), the wonderful smell of the wood stove and seeing the loft where my grandmother and her six sisters slept on feather beds,the boys in another room as they grew up (it was a blended family as early deaths of spouses were not uncommon in those days).
    We picked strawberries and harvested potatoes and all manner of vegetables and everything was delicious. Everyone was used to hard work so a hearty breakfast, including fresh gingerbread or pie was a daily ritual. What could not be eaten was pickled or preserved for some variety in the winter.

    My parents had close friends with whom they went fishing and pancakes and fresh caught trout was a campside dinner treat. My Mother’s friend baked her own bread and so many years later I can still smell it baking while we strung fresh green beans from the garden for supper. Heaven on earth!
    Life is very different now, but those memories remain long after the amusements of the current day have disappeared. Thanks for helping to bring them to the surface! Hugs to all–Marty

  20. Deanna says:

    Reading your posts makes me feel like I’m coming back to the real me! You always remind me of what’s important. Cooking, creating, appreciating the simple yet most important things in life, added comfort to our lives, making home, Home! What a breath of fresh air you give me! Thank you dear heart. I’m blessed by you!

  21. Sara says:

    Nostalgia is one of the nicest perks of aging, don’t you think, Susan? Merriam-Webster says nostalgia is the “pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.” Well, we CAN experience it again by carrying on the meaningful traditions we experienced while growing up and making sure our family stories are passed on to each generation. My grandmother and dad were storytellers, and they taught me well.

    I have to keep homemade cookies in the cookie jar for my grandsons, who make it their first destination when they come, just as their mother did at Grandma McKeefer’s and I did at Grandma Powell’s. I, too, have bags of toys hanging by the fireplace to keep little hands busy while parents visit–a white muslin bag of trucks to race around the border of the oriental rug, a brown canvas bag with the red View Master and pictures of the Smoky Mtns and Mickey Mouse Club, and another bag of their uncle’s bristle blocks which they, too, make pretend cameras with to snap pictures of each other and anyone else who poses.

    Like you, Susan, I love history–and no history more than my own family’s. I am proof positive that you don’t have to live in a perfect family (like there IS such a thing!) or be a perfect child or lead an exciting life to have a history worth retelling over and again to children and nieces and nephews. After all, it is what made us, us!

    When my kids were growing up, bedtime stories were told, not read. Stories of their grandpa driving his Model T to Colorado at 17 with his younger brother to work for a year on his uncle’s ranch. Stories of their great grandmother traveling by covered wagon to Georgia and back to Indiana, and refusing to quit school because she was ‘a girl’ who became the only one to graduate in her class in 1902. Stories of my siblings and me walking six-ft. board fences around the barn lot, playing ice hockey on the creek using yardsticks and freezer containers, eating hidden cakes we made while Mother was at church practicing the organ. Thankfully, my children are adding their own stories to the chapters of our family’s spoken history.

    It’s obvious you have the gift of storytelling, Susan, but you also have the gift of inspiring your girlfriends to tell their own stories. Thank you for that, my friend. Who knows, little Ava someday may be telling the stories of her Great Aunt Susan, a famous author, who taught herself to paint, had a big bunny who lived nearby, made the best crab cakes ever, and lived through Hurricane Arthur!

    Sara 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      How adorable . . . love your stories Sara, love the picture you painted at the end too, especially the part about our harrowing survival of the hurricane! xoxo

  22. Judy F. - Orange County, CA says:

    Even though I’ve had The Summer Book for several years, I’ve never tried to make crab cakes from the recipe. Now that you’ve posted those yummy looking photos on the Blog, I just have to try and make them. My youngest son lives in Maryland and each time I go to visit, that’s the big treat for me, having Maryland crab cakes…oh so good. I hope mine comes out as good as yours, wish me luck! BTW, each time I sit and read your Blog, it takes me away…you just have that way about you! <3

  23. Penny says:

    Hi Susan, I love all of this post but I particularly like the photograph of the library door! It just looks SO inviting, makes me want to push it open and go in to discover lots of new books to read, and rediscover lots of old favourites too. I wonder if you have read ‘The Library’ by Sarah Stewart. It is a childrens’ book, but the sentiment and the illustrations are so gorgeous. I think you’d love it X

    • sbranch says:

      I will have to look for that Penny, thank you!

    • Hi Penny!
      ‘The Library’ is such a wonderful children’s book! It also holds a special memory for me. Ten years ago, our town built an amazing new library, across the park from our beautiful old library (in a historic mansion). Library workers carefully moved all of the books into our new library before opening day. Then on that special day, the townspeople stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a chain from the old library to the new library. We passed the last book, ‘The Library,’ making the big move complete! I will always remember that day. There were so many families with young children in that long line of readers. I’m sure they will always remember this sweet moment in their childhood, too! Thanks for bringing back a happy memory, Penny! ♡♡

      • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

        how sweet, Dawn!

      • Sylvia in Seattle says:

        What a nice library memory. Also very glad to know about that book and have sent for my own copy.

        • Deborah.T.Norling says:

          I just love all the library comments…even now..seeing the door to a library always gives me a warm and pleasant feeling . All of the positive words posted on the blog about the children’s book, “The Library”, prompted me to look for that book which led me to more and more titles with library themes…including my favourite mobile libraries. I love knowing about all the wonderful people here in the States and in other countries who go out of their way to share books with children in remote or impoverished areas ..via elephant or burro or camel or rickety old bus…one quote that tugged at my heart…from a librarian in Azerbaijan…”the mobile library is as important as air or water ” … Thank goodness for the “BOOK ANGELS” in the World.

  24. Teresa says:

    What a lovely post! The crab cake recipe looks delicious. I love it when you bring the recipes from your books to life on your blog! Sometimes I forget what is in the books, and then, boom, I see a recipe on the blog that I want to go and try. I am so very excited for your next book. That one can’t come soon enough. What a gorgeous photo of you in Hawaii! Beautiful…

  25. salve says:

    Just finished dinner and am hungry again because of those CRAB CAKES! Stop the Insanity but Thank you anyway – I’ll have my hubby cook them! LOL!

  26. Hi Susan! Ooh those crab cakes look divine and I must try them one day soon. I was just looking at my Summer book this evening and read about “Camping”. When you told us to change the recipe in the book, I got my white out and went directly to page 86 and did as you suggested. I felt terrible doing that to my precious SB book! I’ll get over it. 🙂 Thank you for another wonderful post peeking inside your life on Martha’s Vineyard.

    • sbranch says:

      You’ll be happy when you make the crab cakes. If you have my calendar, the recipe is also on the July page . . .

  27. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan….such a heart-warming post today…I have always been drawn to the past… the “old stuff”…I am always thinking …”wonder who used this old bowl. ” or ” man, if that old pie safe could talk!”… and this post came at a most perfect moment as I am in the lobby of the famous Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming…it is loaded with beautiful antiques and memorabilia from days gone by….old books, newspapers and magazines tell the tales of bandits, lawman, and the settling of our country… I am in frontier woman heaven!!!

    • Cindy Maulin says:

      hi susan (again)…. sometimes when I post, my comment gets cut off.. It only happens when I use my iPhone or iPad… weird.. anyway, signing off, bath time in one of the original claw footed tubs here at the Hotel…sigh!! Take care!xo love, cindy

      • sbranch says:

        Sounds wonderful Cindy!

        • pat addison ( cave junction,OR) :) says:

          oh I love those old claw foot tubs, my grandma used to give us kids baths in hers back in Minnesota, rubber duckies included.

          • Pat Mofjeld from Minnesota says:

            Hi Pat–We have a collection of rubber duckies on a shelf in our bathroom! 🙂

  28. Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

    Absolutely loved the story at the end – Father always knew what was best for his family – no matter what!! I remember my Dad insisting that we eat out at the campfire on (what seemed like) that coldest nights of the summer – we were in Jackson Hole, WY. which can be cold in the summer. He also claimed that food tasted better outdoors – personally, I think it is a “guy” thing! I needed to read your blog today because I am sad – my best friend left Paso Robles today to live with her family in North Carolina – Martha is a grand southern lady who is 84 yrs young. I will miss her terribly!! (sigh) Keep up the fabulous work and make us all smile! XXXXOOOO Pat

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, it’s awful when one of your dearest ones move away, I’m so sorry.

    • Hi Pat! Today might be the perfect day to write Martha a nice, long letter! I love to keep in touch with dear, faraway friends by writing letters. It might make you both smile! “Letters are ‘visits’ when friends are apart!” ♡♡

  29. We are kindred souls, Susan! Nostalgia has always been important to me, too. I’m glad I’m alive NOW because it’s so easy to enjoy old music, old books and all of the lovely old things that we like to collect and surround ourselves with.

    Even though I ate a good dinner not all that long ago, I’m STARVING thanks to your “crabby” post! If only I had the ingredients to whip up a batch of late night crab cakes! Hey, that sounds like a lot of fun!

    Thanks for another inspiring post. It never fails – after I read your blog I feel like creating more, reading more, EATING more and just enjoying all the good things in life. My wife and daughter share my appreciation!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for standing guard while I am sleeping, and now I shall do the same for you. Sweet dreams Jake.

      • Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

        Jake, thank you for bringing up how much you appreciate the old tunes – on a road trip recently, listening to Sirius radio, the 40s music was playing – so relaxing and I thought how much young people are missing because they don’t know this fabulous music! I found myself trying to guess who was singing or playing the tunes. 40s is great for traveling!! Thanks for reminding me of that……Pat

  30. Terry Kokko says:

    Dear Susan- We just returned home last night from 2 wonderful weeks in England (your book was referenced MANY times!) I want to thank you again for the suggestion you gave me in Danbury to visit Dove Cottage! Simply adorable!
    Just to let you know, I am sending a copy of “A Fine Romance” to the gal who owns the B&B we stayed in the night before we went to Highclere Castle. I knew she would love it the moment she showed us our room and the tea service was Emma Bridgewater- but the next morning at Breakfast, I told her that we were heading up to the Lake District, she told me her Great Grandmother was Alice Preston- the couple who sold Hill Top Farm to Beatrix Potter!
    Thank you again for the beautiful inspiration in your book! We tried to find some of the places you mentioned- even tried Coronation Chicken (YUM!).
    Off to unpack and start the laundry!!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s so surprising how connected everyone over there was to one another. Remember the little circus we went to? I found out after the book came out that the woman that owns that circus is Emma Bridgewater’s sister! Dove Cottage: so adorable. We had the most charming man as our guide there, telling us all the details of life as it was lived in that house. Wordsworth’s relationship with his sister was the most interesting.

  31. Kathleen LaPlant says:

    Made your crab cake recipe last night. They were delicious. Tossing out my old recipe because I like your recipe more. Although it’s in your Autumn book, the scallop mashed potato and corn chowder is also great for a summertime meal. Love your books. Thanks for sharing.

    • sbranch says:

      That is another killer recipe — wonderful when the corn is ripe. Glad you liked the crab cakes, Kathleen!

  32. Carla TePaske says:

    Thank you for the recipe. Yummy.
    I love all things old too. I am so happy you share all things old with us.
    Thank You!!

    I love the photo of you in Hawaii. Sweet. 🙂

  33. Hello dear Susan, I hope your summer is as summery as can be… what a lovely post – nostalgia, gorgeous relatives, crabcakes, and BOOKS! Ending with that Robert P.T. Coffin quote – gosh I love his books. Favorites are his cookery memoir “Mainstays of Maine” (reprinted as “Maine Cooking – Old Time Secrets” – I think that is where your quote is from) and “Book of Uncles” which I must say is one of the most unusual and haunting collections I’ve ever read. Worth seeking out. One chapter for each of his extraordinary uncles, both honorary and actual. They are like Sarah Orne Jewett short stories, so real they make you cry. Did you know he also illustrated some of his own books? Speaking of illustrated books, can’t wait to read your next one. So thrilling to hear your work on it is going well. Best wishes and xxoo from Maine.

    • sbranch says:

      Love this, I don’t think people remember him much these days. I have the Mainstays of Maine . . . yes, that’s where that quote came from.

  34. AngieTink says:

    ✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.Skylark is Playing….I Love Your Musica Sweet Sue! okay 1st…Arabella & Ava….Beyond Adorable! ( Hugzzz To Them Both! AVA! 😉 ) Second I LOVE This Farm~Stand! & I Dream Of Martha’s Vineyard…. It’s Calling Me……Angie……….. 🙂 ✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*. Third I’m So Happy Your Library Gig Was A Hit! (Of Course!) 🙂 & Sweet Sue That Photo Of You “Teaching” Yourself to Paint You Are Gorgeous! Aloha! 🙂 This New Book is Going To Be as Magical As You Are My Dear…..We Are All so Excited 🙂 This Weekend I Am Now Going To Make Your Crab~Cakes For The Herbster & Me! I’ll Let You Know How Yummy They Turn Out! 🙂 The Perfect Summer Meal……I’ll Be Making Out The Grocery List Today! Thanks For Another Wonderful Summertime Blog Post Sweet Sue….Carry On….. xoxo Poof!✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*. 🙂 P.S. Can You Believe That Prince George Has Turned One? The Year Did Fly! He’s Just Too Cute! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      We toasted Prince George that night, only one year ago we were having a tea party and waiting for him to be born!

      • AngieTink says:

        Hello Sweet Sue… Yes! I Remember Your Wonderful Magical Tea~Party! Time Just Flies! Have A Wonderful Summertime Weekend! Hugzzz & Love & Summer Pixie~Dust! xoxo Poof! ✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✫

  35. Kathy Thompson (in Rialto CA) says:

    Good morning, Susan…the summery blogs have been wonderful. Here in California we have had some gentle weather, but it is about to really heat up according to the news last night. I’m agonna try the homemade tartar sauce this weekend with some salmon cakes I make. Don’t tolerate crab well. Sounds delicious. Thought I’d give you a little Tuesday morning laugh. On Sunday, my husband and I were doing a little light gardening, when I raked my hand against the potting shed door frame and got myself a nice “owie” on the backside of the hand. I had just finished reading “A Fine Romance” for the second time, and as we were gardening I was telling Terry all about yours and Joe’s adventures. When the “owie” happened, Terry looked at me and said, “My-hand-huts-Bet-tee. My-hand-huts-Bet-tee.” I laughed so hard that the hurt went away 🙂 It was so sweet. Question for you…I was looking through your Summer Book and saw you mentioned using something called Summer Savory for use on insect bites. What is that? Is it a store product or homemade remedy? Thanks…and have a wonderful summer day. Off to work.

  36. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! How adorable your little grand niece is!!!! I love her rosy cheeks and her curly blond hair! I’ve never had crab cakes before, so this recipe I must try before summer’s end! Help Susan…..I am no longer receiving your e-mails of the blog 🙁 I’ve had to search for your most recent via the old post/last one I have from July 7th. ??? I do not know why. Any suggestions? To me old homes, old antiques, old photos, old cookbooks,you name it, I love to dream of years past….especially my grandmother’s era. Maybe we are “old souls” !!!! Once, a fortune teller read my palm and she pointed out I have several “life lines” (3), which show I’ve had previous lives here on earth before……? Really, I do not believe in fortune tellers, but back in 1980, it was just a fun to do at a local festival!! Take care Susan and have a great week! (P.S. Our little bunny rabbit continues making surprise visits when we least expect. This morning he was on the grass just outside our side door, sitting, waiting, almost as he was about to say “good morning” to my daughter and I. Blessings!

    • sbranch says:

      You can always just go to http://www. — but it seems a few weeks ago there was an overall glitch on the internet and many blogs were cut off from readers. I think they fixed it and now all you need to do is sign up again. Hope this works, let me know! Yes, the 80’s were filled with fortune tellers, psychics, readers, astrologists — all so much fun at the time.

  37. Joan Lesmeister says:

    read this awesome post whilst watching another wonderful sunset the other night. seriously – tears between colors & your nostalgia & gorgeous darling precious nieces & stories & yummy crabcakes – the whole blog…musica – everything! seriously awesome! huge giant thank you so much my dear! love the comments too! ♥ & xoxo

  38. Karen Saunders says:

    Susan…..that is one gorgeous child!!!!! Right away I wanted to paint her. She’s beautiful.

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

    your dad is fun, he sure has a lot of fun camping stories. I have one more funny story…about my grandparents in Minnesota. we used to stay with them every summer on their farm. well one summer night a bat had flown down the chimney in my grandparent’s bedroom. grandma heard it squeaking and flying about and started screaming, so grandpa woke up, grabbed a broom and was chasing that poor bat all over the house in his pajamas ( well actually it was a nightshirt). we kids had heard all the racket going on and came out of our bedrooms and saw grandma running down the stairs with grandpa in hot pursuit of her with his broom and we at first could not figure out what was going on. evidently someone saw the lights on in the house, heard the screaming and called the sheriff. so the sheriff arrived with his gun out as you could grandma screaming way out front before you got to the front door, by then the front door flew open, out flew this big bat and grandpa right behind it in his night shirt and with his broom, chasing it and us grandkids sitting on the stairs and in hysterics at all the fuss going on. we were laughing so hard that the sheriff started laughing, he had just been plowed down by a guy in his nightshirt chasing a bat with a broom….. its was too funny. and they never lived that one down, we never let them forget it…..hehehehehe.. 🙂

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      you could hear grandma screaming before you got to the front door, all that fuss over a little bat. 🙂

  40. Robin Hnd, NV says:

    I can not begin to tell you how your blog takes me away – there is no longer a care in the world and time is never given a thought. My summer has been filled with nostalgia. Hurricane Sandy took my little piece of heavon and although there have been many invitations – after 52 yrs, it is not the same. But lucky me, many things were saved and I now have 2 SB Summer cookbooks here in the desert! Changing the crabcake recipe (1/4 t less cayenne) involved a sticky note and SB stickers with bees and I have drifted off in time yet again!
    The beautiful Ava, will give any day a smile! Thank you.

  41. Stephanie says:


    What a great post! I too am an “old soul” as is my Daughter. I have always loved the music of my Parents and Grandparents. I was always embarrassed that I loved the old music and my girlfriends just didn’t get it. Old homes, old clothes, old quilts, old fashioned ways of doing things. Canning food, ironing clothes, drying them on the line. Eating outside, especially over an open fire. Sitting and stitching or quilting. Cooking from scratch. I’m so “old school” that I am not even on FB! Sad but true.

    What beautiful girls! Family is just the best! I am so hungry for your crab cakes now. I am sooooooo looking forward to your new book!!!

    Thank you for sharing your life with me:)

    Another Kindred Spirit,

  42. Sharon says:

    Your photos of Ava and Arabella, with little Ava warming to your camera, are just delightful! You have such a gift for capturing the moment with your camera, whether it’s birds in the snow as seen through your winter window, or spring blossoms, or a wee one finding joy in a family moment in your kitchen. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us. Your blog enties are a much-anticipated treasure/pleasure.

  43. Laurie W.--MA says:

    Hope this comment fits with the nostalgia theme…sad to hear about James Garner. Always loved his films with Doris Day and the song, Foolishly Yours. Were you a James Garner fan?

    • sbranch says:

      How could you not be, so cute as Maverick, and so CUTE as anything. He was great with Doris Day.

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        loved him in Grand Prix, my dad loved that movie, and he got us kids hooked on formula one racing. also love him in the Rockford Files, what a wonderful person he was.

  44. Diana from Ancaster says:

    🙁 my post is missing in action?

    • sbranch says:

      Has it come up yet Diana? We have a gremlin here that seems to eat posts every so often, including mine.

  45. Judy from Ohio says:

    Good morning, Susan!…

    I tell you, it is downright s c a r y how similar we are…
    All (ok, most) of your memories seem like MY memories…
    just a bit different on the locations and a few details! 🙂

    It is so sweet of you to remind us of the good things in life…
    the simplicity that we can have if we just stand back a bit.
    I have always thought that life is too important to be taken
    seriously…and it is so kind of you to remind me of this…because in
    the ol’ day-to-day goings on in life, I sometimes lose track of
    these facts!!

    Thanks again…VERY much!!

    P.S. Even that stereo in this post is EXACTLY like the one we have in our living room!! LOVE IT!! (It plays CDs ,too…but it sure does not look like it could!! 😉 )

    Have a FANTASTIC day!!!


  46. Vicki says:

    I think it’s so nice that you respond to such a multitude of comments from your readers…and I enjoy all of the comments; some of your readers have such wonderful thoughts and stories which, of course, you prompt with your own substantive posts!

    Something I’ve wondered about…how was it for a SoCal girl to adjust to life in New England, specifically Martha’s Vineyard? I’ve always had a fantasy of relocating to the opposite coast; in fact, just out of high school, I had wild thoughts of moving to a Georgia sea island; the whole thing of starting fresh, doing something completely different and feeling adventurous; still mulling if those are feelings to act upon as retirement gets closer (too old to reinvent?!!). Were the winters quite difficult to adjust to? I’ve figured if I ever moved to Bar Harbor or someplace ‘way north, I’d probably endanger myself by not knowing how to protect a house from heavy snow, much less shoveling, or keeping pipes from freezing, driving on ice, etc. Maybe it helps when you have relatives or friends in a place (or, in your case, Joe) to guide the novice?

    • sbranch says:

      I’m writing all about that in my new book . . . the adjustment. Everything was a surprise! I’m sure friends and relatives would be WONDERFUL to have nearby, I highly recommend it!

      • Lori from Maine says:

        Hi Vicki ~ Bar Harbor (Mt. Desert Island) is soooo beautiful. The winters aren’t all that bad, we get more rain and ice than snow (although last winter was a doozy as far as snow goes!!) Yes, winters are long, but the summer is glorious. As I’m sitting at my computer right now it’s about 80 degrees with a cool ocean breeze coming through my window and it smells so nice. Autumn is beautiful too. I’ve lived here for 40 years (a Boston transplant) and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I know everyone thinks that their hometown is the best, but Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Mt. Desert Island ranks right up there in my opinion! Cheers from SW Hbr.!! 🙂

  47. Vicki says:

    I just wanted to add, on the topic of nostalgia…there was a recent article in a British online gossipy site (some might call it a tabloid, but whatever…) about a poll taken/survey done on the percentage (it turned out to be a high percentage) of Brits who feel they were meant to be born in a different era or who yearn for the old ways; I just scanned the headline, but I thought it was interesting because it seems like a tidal wave lately of yearning for the past…in my case, I’ve been voluntarily reading so much about life in The Great Depression, when my parents were growing up as young children, and why they were (like they were) as adults/parents, always practicing the “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” lifestyle (whereas, as a baby boomer, I…for a time…was considerably more extravagant, not that I say that with any kind of pride…). From the time they were so little, like preschoolers til they were teens…and then they faced World War II (hadn’t they all been thru enough?)…so many stories of deprivation/sacrifice yet happiness, and it’s amazing how resourceful their own parents were, when unemployment was high, goods were scarce, the home veggie garden and chickens were essential…and, in my own family, thankfully my grandpa knew how to fish, so spent many an hour fishing off the L.A. piers, not for fun, but for survival…and there was his wife, my grandma, cooking great meals out of nothing so much of the time; could I have been as creative, I’ve thought? As tough? Would I have had it in me…that grit and resilience…to get thru those times? Mom used to say that everybody was in the same boat, at least in her world; she’d just shrug her shoulders over it, that really, in a way, they didn’t know anything different because it’s all they’d ever known, so it was just ‘life.’ I wish I’d asked more questions or taken better ‘notes.’ I remember Mom talking about using the cloth of flour sacks…re-purposing; they were all about recycling. No waste. Life was simpler, yet it wasn’t simple at all; it was hard. I keep digging, learning about all of this, because there’s real value in applying some of it today.

    • pat addison ( cave junction,OR) says:

      I still use flour sack towels for drying silver and platters that cannot go through the dishwasher, best thing around for drying dishes. and the funny thing is you can now buy a pack of 5 flour sacks for dish towels at Wal-Mart in the kitchen section.

  48. paula ann fetherston says:

    I made the crab cakes. Yes, lump crab is expensive, and in future I will have to bring out the recipe for a special treat from time to time. But the cakes are better than any I’ve had or made before, the perfect amount of bite with the reduced amount of pepper. I especially like the addition of capers in the tartar sauce. They make it special.
    I am surrounded by old things from my past and the pasts of others. The antiques I acquire are for the most part things that I will use. Someone gave me clothespins that belonged to her mother that I now use – they are not the spring kind but the actual “pin” kind. Love ’em!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy you liked them Paula . . . I’ve eaten lots of crab cakes, but I agree, I think this is the one. The squeeze of lemon is the frosting on the cake. I have to use my antiques too, no good just collecting dust.

  49. Sheryl says:

    Of all your posts, this may be my favorite. It just warmed all the corners of my heart. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  50. Beverly Brewer says:

    Hi to Susan and Joe from the English Rose Tea Room—just stopping by to thank you for your recent wonderful posts—so enjoyed by so many! Jo and her hubby Bob are in England visiting her family and will be coming home on the Queen
    Mary! She is so excited of course! Our sweet Jane will go to England in August to visit her daughter and she is equally thrilled, even though she plans to fly both ways. Thank you, Susan, for your beautiful posts—in the midst of current news and conflicts, it’s so very comforting to come “home” to Susan Branch—Lots o’ Love from all of us.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for the news Beverly, it sounds like all is well in your beautiful part of the world. Give my love to everyone! If you talk to Jo, tell her I said Bon Voyage! She’s going to love it! xoxo

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

    this not a camping story but when we were all little kids, we got to spend the summers with grandpa and grandma in Minnesota. they had an old fashioned farmhouse with a fireplace in their bedroom to keep them warm in the long winters. well one summer night a bat flew down the chimney and was flying around in their bedroom, grandma heard it flapping and squeaking so she started screaming, grandpa woke up and grabbed a broom and started chasing the bat all around their bedroom with grandma screaming. well a sheriff’s car saw the lights on and the shadows running around upstairs so the sheriff thought it was a prowler or something, he heard the screaming and got up to the front door when it flew open and gramps ran past him chasing that big old bat with his broom and he was in his night shirt….. us kids were sitting on the stairs falling over laughing at the adults as they were so silly. hehehehe!! 🙂 it was a fun summer adventure to remember, and believe me we never let grandpa and grandma forget it., it was a sight to see grandpa fly out the door chasing the bat in nightshirt and nearly knocking over the cop in the process, wish I could go back and do that again. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      My favorite part of the movie Peggy Sue Got Married was when the phone rang and she picked it up and you saw her face change when she said, “Grandma?” Makes me cry now!

  52. Shelly says:

    WOW Susan, you were such a little hottie! Of course you’re still cute as a button. 😉

  53. Judy H. From the hills of NJ says:

    Been looking over every inch of your blog, Susan. It is the best ever! I have 12 Gladys Taber books, I too collect Rose Chintz china, my husband and I have 7 dear little kitties, I love tea and all the beautiful dishes and silver that go with it. Here beside me are two of your cookbooks and A Fine Romance. I think I am one of the girlfriends!

  54. Laurie Walt says:

    Canning green beans today. This ritual gives me such satisfaction and reminds me of how we are in charge of keeping traditions alive. We have a responsibility to pass down these traditions so that future generations may also know this satisfaction! Canning allows me to be in charge of our nutrition and stocking the basement shelves with goodness. It is very rewarding! OK end of speech! Loved your blog Susan. It made me pause a moment and be grateful for all you do, and what you bring to our lives. I really look forward to these tidbits of your life because I can so relate! Love.

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      I would have been canning tomatoes and beans too if the deer had not gotten in and devoured everything in sight. told hubby to get that deer fencing, well no beans or tomatoes for winter this year.

      • Julia says:

        Pigs from hell.

      • Jack says:

        Seems like your best bet would be to make Venison Jerky at this point.

        I used to do that –easy— just cut the meat in nice 1 1/2″ x 1/4″ strips
        Make your own sauce from , ketchup , worsterhire , hot sauce , and anything else in the kitchen you want — if you have a gas oven with a pilot … That’s all the heat you need — soak the meat overnight and lay
        strips carefully across oven rack to dry . Takes two or three days and
        Viola!….. Tomato and green bean enriched , Venison
        Hang deer hide on posts near garden plot — spray with deer repellant
        And enjoy ice cold sliced tomatoes next year !

        • Jack says:

          Oops forgot — “how to harvest deer ” get a crossbow and set up at the nearest window . Aim for the chest just behind front leg ….that will do the job and not “jelly” the meat…. Skin deer, wrap in netting and hang in shade to cool out naturally for three days. good hunting !

        • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

          I would but my hubby won’t kill the deer that come along and munch the garden down to nothing, in fact he encourages them to come around. can I shoot him instead????

  55. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ I love nostalgia too! ~

  56. Jan says:

    All libraries should have blue doors…it should be a law.

  57. Lori Edmonds says:

    Great post & the crab cakes look yummy…I must make them soon! LOVE THE FORK ~ it is the prettiest fork I have ever seen!!! Can you share the name/mfr? Thanks!!

    • sbranch says:

      I should have written that down. One of our other Girlfriends found it and now I’m not sure what it is…scroll back in the comments because it’s there.

  58. Bugn says:

    Mmm I love crab cakes. It’s one my most favorite foods. 😉

  59. Mary Lu Wahl says:

    Susan, Crab Cakes are a great treat. Thanks for reminding me of them.

    Also, really enjoy the “Screen Saver” of the pink flowers growing in the Summer Garden. Florida does not have this type of enjoyment in the summer months.

  60. Kate says:

    I love old things, too, Susan. Sometimes I think I belong in another century. My house is one hundred years old, I only buy old furniture and have quilts all over my house. I love the simpler times, sitting on the front porch, saying hi to your neighbors. Your blog feeds my soul. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for being here Kate!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        hello Kate, my kind of lady, I love front porch sitting and saying howdy to the neighbors. and shell peas and snap beans and watch the world go by. I love to watch storms roll through sitting on the front porch. 🙂

  61. Christine from Covina says:

    I made the crab cakes! My granddaughter, in her 20’s, said I am not eating that!
    I convinced her to try! They were beyond delicious! simple ingredients! She love them! I asked how they were and she said,”don’t ask” finished all of her share.. Loved the post! Thanks as always!!

  62. Jan says:

    Have to say this sounds so like me. I sometimes think I was meant to be living in a different era. Love antiques and old things. My aunt could not figure out why I would want my Grandmother’s old flour scoop. Still remember my Grandmother using it as she prepared a recipe, and me as a little girl standing in her kitchen watching her. I am still happily using that scoop today. What a beautiful niece and great niece! Looks like a blonde Shirley Temple. Will certainly have to try the crab cakes. They just look sooo yummy! Great picture of you at a younger age. Love looking at those old pictures too! Hope you are having a great weekend.

  63. Silvia says:

    Hi Susan,

    It has been a long time since I have sat down to write to you. This past year has just flown, it has been so busy it is a blur. But, today I am feeling verrrry nostalgic (your post was very timely). It is my 50th birthday. To help me get through this birthday, I looked at your calender that I bought at Remnants of the Past Vintage Show (San Luis Obispo, 11/10/13). What is particularly special about this calendar for me is that you wished me well and signed it on today’s date (07/27). So, between celebrating my 50th birthday with my family and reading your good wishes for my birthday, it made celebrating my 50th go down a little easier. Heaven help me now, there is no turning back.

    Thank you so much for all you do.

  64. Hello Susan!
    What scrumptious crab cakes and sauce you make. And you have such beautiful angel nieces stop by and adorn your kitchen. A little slice of heaven is what it is…
    Speaking of old things, today we are getting a new roof on our 98 year old house and the poor kitties are traumatized by the noise of the shingles being scraped off by the hoards of roofers on top. So it was lovely to escape for a moment to your world. Maybe I’ll put in an old movie- something with William Powell or Carole Lombard and have a pot of tea- all will be well then. Hopefully the thunderstorms will hold off until the roof gets back on. 🙂

  65. Lori from Maine says:

    Hi Sue – you may have already answered this question somewhere else, but would panko crumbs be okay for the crab cakes? They sound so yummy!! Thanks from SW Hbr.!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve tried them, they work and I like them, but I do like the bigger fresher crumbs better, more toasted . . .

  66. Beverly says:


    So enjoy you messages!

    Is today Ms. Potters birthday?

    Much happiness

  67. Hi Susan and Girlfriends!
    It’s a perfect day to remember and honor Beatrix Potter! Today would have been her 148th birthday. Susan and Beatrix are definitely ‘my cup of tea.’
    Happy summer days!

  68. Beth from San Diego says:

    Susan are you guys safe on Martha”s Vineyard? Saw the news about a tornado near Boston – wow. Thought of you and your lovely island. Hope all is well.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, nothing happened here at all — how strange that was — and also the lightening in California!

  69. Michele M. says:

    The first line of this blog is ME! I am seriously a wicked nostalgic person. To the point where I make people roll their eyes at me 🙂 My guy is always so amazed with my fascination with the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I have most of what my parent’s didn’t want after their parents passed away, I saved it all!! I can’t let them go. What I missed, I find on ebay! I feel like an old soul who should have been born in time to be a teenager at Woodstock!! Moving on….
    The first free weekend we have (the one after next) I am SO making these crab cakes. My guy was born/raised in Maryland and really appreciates a good crab cake! Thank you!

  70. Silvia says:

    Hi Susan,

    I think my post got lost in the never never land of blogsville. I hope you got my last post. Sometimes I wonder about technology’s magic. Needless, to say I am now ensconced into my fifties enjoying my downhill slide.


    I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Ms. Potter’s birthday is the day after mine…. July is a good month.

  71. Linda Ruddy says:

    I’m always inspired when I visit your blog!! I have one of your books A FINE ROMANCE, which I’ve read twice.

  72. Mary S. says:

    I have always loved old things and times, too, Susan!! Do you have the picture book, I LOVE OLD THINGS by Harold Darling? If you don’t, you should order it. You would love it! It’s published by Laughing Elephant. Here is a quote from it: “I love old cities, those whose streets whisper the secrets of centures, ones in which the building lean against one another like family dogs asleep. I love old gardens, ever changing, yet recalling something of their maker’s plan, places where one leaves time for a paradise of odors, colors, and forms.” And it’s full of beautiful pictures!
    Arabella and her daughter Ava are so beautiful!! Such darling photos of them!

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  73. Phoebe says:

    Well I had to laugh when I read the crab cake recipe because I had made it years ago with the amount of cayenne in The Summer Book, and it was woe to me! Because of the quote at the bottom I thought I must really be a wimp! Glad to find out I’m not as pathetic as I thought!

    • sbranch says:

      No, you’re not. We had it, and I still thought it was delicious, and everyone else SAID they did, but my senses said, I don’t think do. Knock off a quarter of a teaspoon and they will be perfect.

  74. Judy Kruse says:

    Oh how wonderful! I have to ask what is the name of your silverware? It’s absolutely divine! I hope I can find some!

    • sbranch says:

      I forget the name, but one of our girlfriends looked it up and put it in the comment section . . . scroll around on this post, you’ll find it.

  75. Jeffie Mackey says:

    Hi Susan…I met your lovely sister a few months ago at her work….she met my granddaughter today and we talked kids for a few minutes and told me to check out your blog today…such a beautiful tribute to your family. Love your work…have been a fan for years…small world…Martha’s Vineyard sounds wonderful…on my bucket list someday!

    • sbranch says:

      Nice to meet you Jeffie, thank you!

      • Jeffie Mackey says:

        You’re welcome…and very nice to meet you as well…always enjoy your illustrations…I am trying to find my artistic voice..starting yet another art class…lol…fun though…thank you for your inspirations..

  76. Susan, What a wonderful tribute to FAMILY!!! I love seeing the pictures from little to grown! Then you wove scrumptious FOOD into the picture! Crab Cakes are my favorite!

    Thanks for taking time to write for us 🙂 Hoping your new project has you painting away.

    More congratulations on your publishing company!!! So many things on the stove merrily bubbling away.

    Hugs and Kisses to You, Joe, Jack and Girl Kitty!
    Georgie from NJ

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