Here’s that delicious bread recipe from Mother Effie at the Holy Nativity Convent (where the beeswax candles came from). MUSICA.

Mother Effie's Whole Wheat Bread

I nibble on it every day.  Lowely, my girlfriend who lives one door over, tried the recipe and gave me another loaf! Precious cargo!  It came out perfectly!

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You can see all the seeds in the bread.  The thinnest slice holds together in your toaster and is the crunchiest of the crunchy.

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So here we go . . . you can copy and paste the recipe, then print it out.  Makes two delicious seedy, oaty, almondy loaves.

  • 1½ c. bulgur
  • 1 3/8 c. boiling water/1¾ c. water
  • 3 c. whole wheat flour/¾ c. whole wheat flour
  • ½ c. vital wheat gluten
  • ½ c. white flour
  • 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ c. millet
  • 1/8 c. flax seeds
  • ¼ c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 c. oats
  • 3 Tbsp. almond meal

home cooking

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1.)  Pour 1 3/8 c. boiling water over bulgur, flax seeds, millet & oats. Set aside to cool.

2.)  Combine 3 c. whole wheat flour, gluten and yeast in mixer bowl.

3.)  Heat 1¾ c. water, honey, oil and salt to about 125°F.

4.)  Slowly pour heated water mix into flour mix in mixer bowl while mixing.  Beat for 2 minutes; cover and let sit for 30 min.

5.)  Combine white flour, ¾ c. whole wheat flour, sunflower seeds & almond meal in a separate bowl.

6.)  After yeast mix has set for 30 min; add the step 5 flour mix and the step 1 bulgur mix alternatively to the yeast mix.  Knead for ten minutes.  Dough should be a little tacky.

7.) Place in a greased bowl; cover and let rise until doubled.

8.) Preheat oven to 350° ~ punch down dough and divide in two; cover and let rest 10 min.  Form 2 loaves, place each in a greased bread pan; cover them and let them rise until doubled.

9.) Put the pans in the preheated oven. Check the bread for doneness at 40 min.  Turn a loaf out into your hand (cover your hand with a potholder) ~ tap the bottom of the bread ~ if it sounds hollow, it’s done, if not, put it back into the pan and into the oven for another five minutes. And that’s it!



HomeSweetHome Susan Branch

kitchen soap

This, my friends, is my Kitchen Soap. I think it’s kind of wonderful. me and Jim "doing dishes"I’ve had this ridged wooden soap “dish” for many years, since I first moved to the island.  I love it because it’s simple and it works.  I wouldn’t have another kind, even after all these years. The soap, sitting on the ridges, dries easily, doesn’t get mungy, and lasts forever.  And the “dish” doesn’t break if it falls into the sink.  I always look for the perfect soap for it, sometimes I get lucky and find bars that fit the way I like them too ~ but recently I got VERY lucky ~ I found someone who would make the perfect soap just for me (and by extension, for you :-)). And here it is:


Wrapped in waxed paper and our own band. It’s Organic Olive Oil, Raw Goat’s Milk and Lavender; smooth, silky, fresh, lightly-scented soap with no little petals in it to rub your skin the wrong way  . . .


I also found the wooden soap holder for it.  Cute for a housewarming gift, or for holiday, or as a stocking stuffer, or for everyday.  So here you go, hope you like it as much as I do!  We’ll carry the soap by itself too.  I told you, it’s the little things, and I meant it.  Reeeely little!

clap your hands

washing lace canopy

I’m clapping my hands because I got a big job of handwashing done this weekend. This doesn’t look like a lobster, despite the lobster pot, it’s actually the lace canopy that goes over our four-poster bed.


Being up there, all laid out like it is, makes it a really good dust catcher . . . I wash it every year just before winter, so it’s clean and nice while the house has to be closed up.  But it’s a two person job getting it down and back up.  Three if you count Jack.  Joe and I take it off (carefully) and shake it outside first.  Then I fill the pot with warm water, add laundry soap and a little gentle bleach ~ and slosh it back and forth squeezing and squeezing until a year’s worth of dirt and dust comes out. 

drying in the sun

We had a gorgeous weekend, about 62º, clear, crisp and breezy, the perfect kind of weekend to get stuff done and watch the leaves beginning to fall. We spread the dripping wet lace on the lawn to dry . . . it’s much too heavy to put on the line quite yet.

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We let the sun do its job and after a while, when the canopy is partially dry and much lighter, I hang it on the line to finish drying.

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Noticing how pretty and colorful the leaves are under the clothesline.

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Then back up the stairs we go, trying not to tangle ourselves in it.  And there she is, for another year, clean, dust-free and smelling good.

my little helper

Speaking of smelling good, here’s our little helper. He thinks canopy-replacing means playtime!  (He thinks everything means playtime, this is the playingest cat in the world.)  Isn’t he adorable????

Couldn’t you just smoosh his little velvet nose?

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

stacking the wood pile

So this is what else we did . . . we got a cord of wood ~ Joe stacked it and I brought him coffee . . .

the wood pile

We are a team.

draining the hoses

He drained the hoses too. Our yard slopes slightly downhill, just enough to empty the hoses.  You have to do this in snow country, let your hoses dry in the sun, otherwise, if there’s water in them, they freeze and split.  This is your normal winter chore.  We never did this in California!  Add it to the list!

owl time

I decorated my stove shelf (with the last two tomatoes from our garden ~ two of our bigger ones I might add, and too cute to eat), and did a bunch of other stuff too, but I’ll save it for next time, because I have another rather wonderful something to show you (just waiting for it to show up before I do).  

2015 calendarRight now I want to ask a big favor of our UK Girlfriends . . . I hope you don’t mind, this is something only a Brit can do.  It’s Amazon UK ~ it doesn’t seem to know my calendar exists.  We worked hard to get it in Amazon UK because shipping is so ridiculous from the states (and even IN the states), we thought it would help.  But I really don’t think anyone knows it’s there.  The thing that would be a huge help is if a couple of our UK Girlfriends could do a review of the calendar?  If it’s not too much trouble, it would be a big help and I’d be forever grateful to you. Just click HERE and it will take you to the right spot.  (P.S. It’s even worse for AUTUMN )

AND for your reward?

a new friend

I was sweeping the kitchen porch and putting out the pumpkins and saw this.  It says “hope” to me the same way as the little engine that could.  

hope for the world


Look at it, all brave and daring.  It knows winter is coming and it doesn’t even care, because even a month in this changing season, hearing the wind in the trees, feeling the breeze run between her leaves, and the color!  And smells of woodsmoke and mulch! Even a month in this beautiful world is worth it.  Look at the moon she’s about to get! Hooray for you, little thing. I crown thee Penelope. I always wanted to crown something.


This is as close as I think I will get.

Bye Girls, see you soon! XOXO Happy happy Autumn to you all! Don’t forget the whipped cream! 


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  1. Gina P. from NY says:

    Thank you for the bread recipe Susan! Will make it soon on a chilly fall weekend! Looks so scrumptious! I will order the soap! I love anything with the scent of lavender – so soothing and calming. The wood soap dish is a great idea – no worries if it falls into the sink. Is the soap strictly a “kitchen soap”, not for use in bathroom and tub? Just wondering…

    I love that canopy on your bed! I’ll bet you need to keep Jack away from that one! Can you imagine if he got his little paws in that? : ( Great idea to lay it on the lawn to dry. I have done that with some of my quilts – though I have to be careful so that the sun doesn’t fade them too much.

    I was wandering around on line tonight and came across this great website I though you might enjoy (if you don’t already know about it): It is a shop/restaurant located in Greenwich Village in NYC – and a great place for those who love all things British! Check it out – beautiful china pieces: tea pots, cups and saucers (check out the one with the kitties on it), food items from across the pond – “Heinz’s Baked Beans”, “Sticky Toffee Pudding”, recipes, etc., etc.! The breakfast/lunch/dinner menus look great too! Enjoy!

    • sbranch says:

      We went to tea there a few years back, a little cozy very old-fashioned tea shop. I think you could definitely use that soap in the bathroom, it’s really soft and nice.

      • Gina P. from NY says:

        I thought you might have gone there! I will have to go and try some Bangers & Mash or Bubble & Squeak next time I’m in the city. Probably will make the annual holiday trek down there – so would be a nice time to pop in for a hot cup of tea and get out of the cold! I will definitely try the soap in the tub!

  2. Suzanne says:

    Well, I ordered the beeswax candles and they are on their way; I copied the recipe for Mother Effie’s Whole Wheat Bread, but when I went to your shop to order the lavendar kitchen soap and dish, they were out of stock! Boohoo… I am feeling just a slight bit pouty right now…

  3. barbara lassiter says:

    Thanks for the bread recipe. The ingredients sound yummy and the bread looks yummy. I’m not sure if I should make it or not. There is something about a warm, fragrant yeasty bread that I can’t resist. When I was younger and could eat anything I wanted and not gain an ounce, I sometimes ate a half-a-loaf of bread right out of the oven. But now is another story and I haven’t made a homemade yeast bread in a while. This looks so good, I just might have to chance it! 🙂

  4. Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Mother Effie’s bread looks amazing! And I had just convinced myself that this winter I will master bread making. All my attempts thus far have been a failure…..well let’s just say heavy.
    This recipe looks like it may not be for the beginning bread maker, but if I get my mom to come and visit, we may give it a try. Mom as you know is 91 and makes amazing bread….with no recipe….she does it all by feel! If I had her here I would certainly be brave enough to give it a try! That bread looks so amazing, I swear I could smell it toasting just waiting for a little….well…maybe a lot of butter, and some jam.

    This time I took no chances on the Lavendar Soap…..I ordered immediately, before even taking the time to comment! I now have my first Christmas presents bought!
    Love you Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      Good Chris! Your mom is amazing! You should video her making bread the next time she’s there!

      • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        What a great idea! I would not have thought of that! I will do it.

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        hello Chris, are you kneading your dough too much?? should only do it for about 10 minutes at the most, depends on the bread but it could be you are kneading the dough too much or not enough. when kneading the dough one pushes the dough out from them, push and bring back in. its a steady rhythm once you get going. also lightly flour the board where you are kneading the dough…. lightly. hope it helps you. making your own bread is so fantastic, it smells divine when its on the oven and once it comes out your mouth is watering it smells so good. plus you have control over what goes into the bread, and the best reason of all, it costs next to nothing to make it yourself rather than buy it at a store. have fun and good luck. hugs…. 🙂

        • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

          oops forgot to mention when done kneading the dough should spring back when you touch or as my grandma always said it should be soft as a baby’s bottom when you feel it. have fun making your own bread, once you master it its fun and you wonder why you ever bought the bread from the stores.

        • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

          I have watched my mom do it hundreds of time! I don’t know where I fail. Water temperature? Do I kill the yeast? Maybe knead too much, like you said? So my attempts have been few and far between, I probably haven’t even attempted bread in 20 years!! It’s so much easier to let Mom do it! 🙂
          But I started thinking about it and I don’t like something to get the best of me! I just thought this winter I am going to attempt it once more and see what happens.
          I don’t think there is a more wonderful memory than fresh bread coming out of the oven. I remember, no matter what time it was, when that bread came out, a pot of coffee was made and we sat there eating bread and butter with coffee!
          Thanks for trying to help me. I will remember your tips and I will let you all know my progress….first it has to cool off here. It was 98 here yesterday!
          Thanks again Pat!

        • judi says:

          Ya, Pat, you might have control over what goes into the bread, but …. hard to control what goes into our mouth:)
          I used to eat at least 1/2 loaf of bread when first out of the oven with a stick of butter, yummmmo.

        • judy young says:

          Hi everyone! Mother Effie’s Bread does look amazing and I can’t wait to try it. Need a trip to Whole Foods store to get all ingredients. Vital wheat gluten? Is that easy to find?? The recipe says to knead the bread for 10 minutes. Are you using a dough hook in the mixer for this or plopping it on a board and neading by hand?? Need clarification 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            Lowely kneaded it by hand and I think most of the Girlfriends are doing it that way too. Red Mill (in grocery stores and on line) carries vital wheat gluten.

  5. Linda says:

    Hi Susan♥ I ordered my calendar from Amazon UK on August 11 and my sister received it a few days later. I will be spending Christmas with my family who live in the Peak District and then my beautiful calendar will be coming back home with me to Australia. I’ve also purchased several of your books from Amazon. Would love to have Amazon here in Australia, one day perhaps……. I would also love to purchase items directly from you, easier said than done because of shipping costs etc. Since reading your blog (which I absolutely ♥) l have purchase two of Gladys Taber books and looking to add more eventually, although they are a little hard to find. Thank you for allowing us to have a peep into your life♥ Linda xx (Gold Coast, Australia).

    • sbranch says:

      Christmas in the Peak District ♥. I would just LOVE that . . . all that moody mist between the hills, frost and such. I hope you have a wonderful time! I’m so happy the Amazon thing worked for you. Gives you another good excuse to visit your sister! Have a wonderful day!

  6. Linda says:

    Your little sprout really looks like a sunflower if memory serves me right–back in the days I couldn’t afford nursery plants so did all my plants from seed packets! It very well could have come from your bird feeders! Try to save it for all of us tree huggers out here!! Ha! I want the bread in the worst way but God did not intend for me to be a bread baker as mine turn out like cement blocks!!! But I can bake a cherry, peach, apple, berry pie!!!!
    Have a safe trip to the land of milk and honey ! Linda from Idaho where the weather is more like summer than Fall—high 70’s just perfect!!

  7. sandy says:

    oh dear, I haven’t read all the posts, so perhaps someone has already commented on this, but “essense” is spelled incorrectly on the soap label–I believe that should be essence. but I wonder if you didn’t use essential lavender oil, which is ever so much better than just a fragrance oil. I live in what they have nicknamed the lavender capital of north America, so it’s pretty hard not to be up on these things! but if there truly is a lavender essense, pardon me! xoxox

    • sbranch says:

      You are so right. We caught it, but not until the first few of them went out! There’s only one essence ~ thank you Sandy! We need all the help we can get!

      • Jack says:

        Non-sence — the essense of the Soap is the smell–next we should call it “The Odure— cause it was Mary , Mary , long before the fashions came, but with propriety , society– would say,”Marie”

  8. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! You are truly the BEST!!!! Your lavender soap with olive oil looks wonderful! (Just read that olive oil is great for very dry skin, but also can help a bit to protect the skin from skin cancer.) Can’t believe how yummy the bread looks!!! Thank you for passing on the recipe!! And, your new little “porch sprout” gives us all an example of courage for the coming winter season!!! Thank you Susan for making me smile this morning as I drink my morning coffee and begin the day! Take care and have a wonderful Wednesday!!!!!

  9. Lindy says:

    Always a great start to my day to open your message and sip my morning “cuppa” .
    Happy Fall to you and all the girl friends, I am in Michigan and know all the joys of putting away one season and prepping for the next. Love it!!! Nice stack on that wood Joe. Susan, I love your tea tin and I have been in search of tea tins that I can put out and they look fun…I hope you might consider a Morning Tea tin or a series of tins that celebrate seasons…. I buy many loose teas and the bags are not very attractive. Just saying. Anything by you adds a bit of joy to the moment. Thank you. Lindy in Holland, MI

    • sbranch says:

      Well, once again, I was determined to have that tin, so much so that I agreed with their crazy minimum of 7,000 pieces 🙂 Extremely optimistic! I think we need to say goodbye to the ones we have before I get to design a new one! It will happen, it’ll just take a while.

  10. Ardi Butler says:

    Loved the recipe, and thank you so much. I went to order three of the kitchen soaps and soap holders, but the site says “sold out”. Will there be more? These would be perfect as gifts for dear friends.

  11. Kathie Ferko says:

    Good Morning,
    Thanks for the lovely post! The bed canopy is beautiful! When we were in Orleans, Mass., during the summer, the B&B we stayed at had a canopy on our bed, but it was eyelet…beautiful, but more confining. I like the airy feeling of your canopy much better.

    A friend and I went to see the Downton Abbey costume exhibit at Winterthur this weekend.. You could see the costumes up close and notice all the details not seen on the tv. The house and grounds were so beautiful,but we’re so expansive that a few trips are needed to see it all.
    The exhibit is at Winterthur in De. til Jan 4,2015. Any lover of the show, if in the area ,
    should try to see it.

    Have a great Autumn!!!!
    Kathie from Limerick

  12. Dear Susan, this bread looks wonderful, I think I’m going to give it a try – even though baking bread has been something of a bête noire in my life – because I always seem to end up with a dense brick rather than an airy loaf. However, I pledge to remain optimistic! Speaking of which, your optimism and general good cheer (among many other things) keep me coming back to read your posts, and re-read your books. That little sprout – oh, everything deserves a chance, doesn’t it… bless you for paying that kind of close attention.

  13. Robyn Brown says:

    I make my own soap but I’d still love to try this soap. Mine also has olive oil and goat’s milk in it. I however, don’t have that awesome wooden soap dish. I’ll be watching for the restock.

  14. sondra fox says:

    Hello Dear Friends, I’m home again, after a cruise in Norway, Shetland Islands, UK, Scotland, & Ireland. Wonderful, happy time with friends. Really enjoyed the Shetland Islands, where Shetland ponies come from. The ponies were all over the place, roaming beautiful meadows overlooking the sea. Magical place. I never knew (until my trip), that the ponies had their own special island.
    My cat, Sheba, was sooooo lonesome when I got home. I spent an entire day patting & loving her. She hasn’t left my side since I got home. Meowing all the time, letting me know her story. Jack, my Wired Haired Terrior, was with my daughter, son-in-law, & 19 yr. old grandson. He loves all of them, they love him. I wasn’t so concerned about Jack, as I knew he’d get good care & wouldn’t be lonely, but I was concerned about my cat, as we had a care giver come in to feed her, but I thought she’d be really lonely. And, she was. If I ever go on an extended trip again, I’ll have to think up some other means of caring for her when I’m gone. My being away for two weeks was very hard on her. No one patted her for two weeks, no one played with her. Poor Sheba.
    It’s so good to be home with my two furry friends. How I love them. While on the cruise, I missed having them on the bed with me. Last night, they jumped up on the bed & we all slept peacefully, knowing that each of us was where we’re happiest. Before nodding off, I heard Sheba purring & knew that all was well.
    You were absolutely right when you thought some of us would enjoy the waltz! I LOVED it & will replay it often! Those were the days of movies that made you feel good, that took you away for an hour or so, into a happier place. No wonder some of our population is in need of destroying, instead of building a better world. Movies of today are full of violence & misdeeds. We “are” what we think. That’s why I love your blog Susan. It’s full of wonderfully uplifting ideas. I’m about to go to the market to get the ingredients for your kale salad. Looks so yummy. Good to be HOME, where you always provide more food for thought Susan. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      Welcome HOme Sondra, What a wonderful trip! Poor little Sheba, but she has you now . . . and you have the memories! xoxo

    • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Welcome home Sandy! Glad your trip was magical! I have the same problem when I travel. I can find some one to come in and feed the cats, but I really need someone who will stay with them. Katherine just stays in hiding (she is very strange), but BB3 starts to go crazy after 2 days and begins to tear up the house. I never thought one cat could get into so much trouble! She is very attached to me and I am sure she is lonely.
      But then we come home and all is well! It is so wonderful to be back with them….they really do love us!
      Your trip sounds amazing, so glad you were able to go! Now we are glad you are home and back with us!

  15. Jack says:

    It seems the Owl on the right is quite indignant in having that precocious Tomato show up on her shelf. If I were that Tomato I’d be very worried …a beating with owl wings can ruin a tomato’s day.

  16. Susu S. says:

    I reviewed both the calendar and Autumn on and then my husband ordered Autumn for me as a little present – yea!

  17. patti says:

    Hi Miss Susan, So I started culinary school this week. OMG I am so tired, but a really good tired. I can’t tell you how excited I am and also humbled. I have been cooking for a family of 7 for 35 years and I realized I really don’t know how to cook !!! Who knew, glad none of them did. So there is so much to do and so many challenges and I can’t hardly wait to dive into them all. The school is so wonderful and very helpful. Love my chef uniform and they even call me chef. The husband is my limo driver, driving Miss Patti back and forth. It was so funny on the first day we had to take the train to Chicago and he knows how I hate, hate hate cab rides. He told me not to worry that he would get me there (to school) so I didn’t think twice about it. So up we go from the station and he yells for a cab. Next thing I know he is putting me in the cab, telling the driver Halsted and Chicago, and slamming the door and off we went. I wanted to die !!! Felt like that little kindergartner who’s mom just left. I was so mad, but he just gave me his crooked beautiful smile, winked and said you’ll do great. Then he continued to call me on my cell to make sure I got there okay. I made sure I didn’t answer it (right away) so he could think that we drove off the bridge into the Chicago River. But finally I did and I told him things were well. He’s driven me since then, so I’ll forgive him. Love the Master Chef’s. Such wonderful teachers and really encouraging as I’m not a kid anymore (even though I still feel like one). Just thought I’d let you know how my first week went, if was great. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Look how brave you are! Going into strange settings, meeting new people, learning new things, taking cabs by yourself! Good for YOU Patti! Sometimes the goal makes all the “getting to it” worthwhile. Step right over the scary stuff! Proud of you!

    • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Loved your update! We are all excited for you!

    • Debbie P. ~ Weedsport, NY says:

      I’ve been waiting for this update, Patti! …and couldn’t be happier for you! You’re living proof that If you dream it, it can happen! Keep us posted, please!

  18. Oh my goodness, how precious was that…crowning her `

  19. Oops! My cat, Louie, decided to send my post on its way before I finished. Jack will get a kick out of that. As I was saying…how precious was that, crowning her, Miss Penelope. It was an “awwwwww” sight to see. Hope. Beautiful and it warmed my heart good.

  20. Kathryn B. says:

    Hello, Susan!
    thank you for sharing so much of who you are with us. I found your wonderful book on Amazon and then went to your website. When I read your blog, I get a “feeling tone” that makes all well with the world . . . or at least my little part of it. I really enjoy reading the comments too from all the like-minded posters. The only problem I have is I adore many of the items you have on your web store and I have a whole list of them on my wish list (how wonderful is that little lamb bank?). I will need to add a line item to my budget that reads: Heart of the Home.

    I must also say that looking at your pictures of Autumn and reading about it helps me remember the dust and dryness around our state is not everywhere and I am transported in my mind’s eye to another world. Blessings to you! Kathryn (Central Valley, CA)

    • sbranch says:

      So happy to have you here Kathryn! Praying for rain for California . . . we’re going out in a couple of weeks and don’t remember how to dress for 90 degrees, fingers crossed for cooler temps.

  21. Christine says:

    Your post pictures bring to mind a wonderful version grilled cheese that my husband and I enjoy with, what else?? Tomato Soup! Take two slices of Mother Effie’s bread, butter one side of each (don’t skimp). Slice your garden tomato’s rather thin, place slices on a paper towel to absorb some water. Take a few thin slices from a white onion. Place one slice of bread, butter down, on your pan, top with cheese (I like good old American) then onion to your taste, then tomato. Top with the second slice of bread and grill over a medium low flame until browned. To turn without having the sandwich fall apart, use a small pan, slide your sandwich onto your spatula off the pan. Tip the pan side ways while placing the sandwich over onto the pan, then set the pan right. Brown the other side. I use a whole grain bread very similar to Mother Effie’s for this sandwich. Yum =)- And there is nothing like a garden fresh tomato!

  22. daniela says:

    Dear Susan, I just close the last page of A Fine Romance, i didn´t want to be over, it filled my reading hours with gentleness and generosity by sharing your experience, literally made me feel here . I been in love with England since 25 years, i started this affair with another book, written by Barbara Taylor Bradford, “voice of the heart” and Agatha Cristhie, rigth now i´m using google translator, because my english isn´t good, and that´s the special thing, in your book you wrote with your heart so i can understand every word, no problem at all, because i read with my heart, beuty and good feelings don´t know languages, so thank you dear Susan. Baden Powell said, “let the world better that you found it”, i think you careully follow this. Thanks for the book, the blog, and all the other lovely things you do and share with us, bye.

    • sbranch says:

      Dear Daniela, thank you so much for your kind words. Lovely. You also write with your heart. xoxo

  23. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, I asked you about this sometime ago and you said to remind you around the holidays and you’d check……….will you be having the Christmas hanging banner this year? I saw the gold and silver beads hanging but it didn’t say the Christmas banner was included. Thanks for checking.

    Also, I love the canopy on the 4 -poster bed. Do you remember where you purchased it. Love it and we too have a 4-poster bed.

    I’m also thinking of making Sr. Effie’s bread but a lot of the ingrediends I don’t have. Was thinking I could find them at a natural food store. I’ll have to go on their website again.

    Thanks for the nice informative blog. I didn’t see the picture here of the wodden soap dish. I’ll look again. I was telling my friend about it and to look at your blog.

    Happy Autumn! With hugs, Gail xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Describe the Christmas Hanging Banner to me, I’m drawing a blank . . . you mean the “garland” with the letters that say Merry Christmas? I bought that canopy years ago, try Googling “lace canopy for four poster” and see what you find. Yes, Effie’s ingredients are easy to find at health food stores. We ran out of the soap dish but we’re getting lots more of them any day now. Happy Autumn Gail!

      • Gail Buss says:

        Yes, I guess I mean “garland” that do have the letters for Merry Christmas. Thanks so much for checking. Gail

        • sbranch says:

          I’m not sure, but we will definitely have a Christmas banner this year . . . we had snow flakes last year too.

      • Gail Buss says:

        Yes, I believe it is garland with the letters for “Merry Christmas” on it. You weren’t sure if you could get it this year so said to remind you. I did reply the other day but now couldn’t see it so maybe I forgot to his “Post Comment”.
        Thanks for all your suggestions. Hugs, Gail xo

  24. Ann from Maryland says:

    I am curious, did you make that wreath hanging in your kitchen just below the autumn garland? It looks as if the base of the wreath is marsh grass. It inspires me to make something similar for myself.

  25. Peggy Cooper, Pueblo, CO says:

    I got some very good news last night. My Vitamin B12 and D levels are low! Now this may not sound like good news, but it explains why over the past year I’ve had no energy, been slightly depressed, and couldn’t seem to concentrate. I finally got to the point where I knew I wasn’t imagining this, and couldn’t just snap out of it, so I called the doctor. So now that we know what the problem is, I’ll start taking B12 shots today, and will start a 3 month regimen of vitamin D. I feel better already, just knowing I’m going to feel better. I used to love decorating, entertaining, cooking, reading- all the things you love. But had lost all interest in those things. Now I know I should be back to my old self soon, and can look forward to once again being a domestic goddess :o) Thanks for all your inspiration Susan. By next week, I’m sure I’ll be wanting to make this wonderful bread, and something from the Autumn book.

    • sbranch says:

      SO happy to hear that, and such a relatively simple little fix. Vitamin D definitely helped me . . . I used to get that S.A.D.D. disease in the winter caused by light deprivation resulting in mild depression (I thought it was mild, but my girlfriend who told me about this didn’t think so!) — I used to use a light box, but then I found out about vitamin D and it was like flipping a switch. Everything changed immediately! Hope it works like that for you Peggy!

  26. Beverly Brewer says:

    Hello to Susan and Joe from the English Rose Tea Room! So loved the “little seedling that could” photo and your sweet comments. Also, the notations regarding “essence” remind me of a cute anecdote about a friend who was from Greece and taking English classes, which also included a lesson on our currency and coins. The instructor was writing on the blackboard examples of decimal points separating the dollar amount from the coin amount and one example showed $24.00. He pointed to the two zeros and asked what they meant. Our sweet friend excitedly yelled out ” It means you have NO CENTS (sense) ! So funny even after many years gone by.

  27. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    Well here I am in CA, on Tuesday I waded into the Pacific Ocean on my birthday, first time in 52 years (left Long Beach at the age of 2)!!! Saw “Old Town” San Diego yesterday. I am doing a lot of walking…she who is not to use the gov. rental. LOL

    I have been wondering for some time now, will you have your lemon w/ some herb kitchen soap again?? I love wooden soap dishes too.

    Have a great day girlfriends! If any of you are near Point Loma I am waving while walking. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Was that the heart shaped soap?

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        No, but I liked the heart-shaped soap too. I met another kindred spirit here in Ocean Beach. She said she had some of your books. Her sister lives near the cities you will be signing in out here, so who knows…you may get to meet her.

  28. Pam in Virginia says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your bread recipe!! It sounds wonderful! I will have to try it with my next pot of soup!! I love handmade soap, too! I use a peppermint one in my bath but would like to try yours,too! I am wondering where you got your beautiful lace canopy for your bed. We have a four poster bed and I have been looking for a place that sells canopies! I have not found one yet! I guess not a lot of people use them anymore but I love them! Can you share where you got yours?? I love all of your posts as they are a breath of fresh air in my day! 🙂 Have a wonderful Fall!

  29. Pat Johnson says:

    Oh how wonderful to see the fabulous bread that you made! Sadly I do not do bread or much of anything else – BUT I am a GREAT person!!! I always love seeing all of the great things you have and it gives me ideas for what I can do. I have other attributes, thank God. You did remind me that I needed to drain the hose and put it away – we Californians don’t think of that. And I loved the crochet piece on the bed. I am still in Newport, Washington and will be traveling home in about 2 weeks – just in time for the signing in Cayucos. The weather here has been wonderful. Fairly warm days and the trees are just now turning – must go for a drive in the country to see them all. I really would like my grandson (who loves to farm his own food) to move up here. I think he and his wife would really like the four seasons and the beauty. My Great-grandson is 2 and loves the outdoors and being with Dad in the garden and with the chickens and bunnies. A wonderful life for them! Wishing you the best and keep showing us cooking because I love it even if I don’t always do it. XXXXOOOO

  30. carmel says:

    Sorry if I missed comments about this, but as I perused through my latest copy of “Yankee” magazine, I saw you lovely ad for your “Autumn” book. It’s a small but a very enticing ad. There’s also a great article on Tasha Tudor w/ beautiful photos. As well as baking the nun’s wonderful bread, I’m going to try the cider donut muffin recipe (in the magazine). I love the homemade cider donuts at one of our local farms but this is easier for me since there’s no frying involved. Best wishes with the ad, Sue. I hope it adds to the success of the new printing.
    Jack, I think it was a good idea to warn the tomatoes about the owl. The owl did look peeved and yes it would make for a bad day for a tomato to be “winged.” Thank you so much, Jack, for the belly laugh. World news is difficult, but it’s so good to have someone see the humor in even the littlest observations. So grateful that you’re Sue’s dad.

  31. I’m ready for Autumn. House is clean and tidy. My knitting is on the needles, and my books are stacked. I think that your bread recipe will be like the marshmallows in the chocolate. ( Or, like the whipped cream on the pie)…

  32. Mindy says:

    I have that same bunny paddling in the leaf! I got it as a gift from my husband, who rowed crew in college. Small World.

  33. Connie says:

    Susan, FINALLY I ordered your book “A Fine Romance” for myself. I ordered it last Fall for my friend’s birthday, and now I just had my 60th birthday last week so it was my turn to use some birthday money and get the book. Just ordered it and can’t wait for it to arrive! Thanks for all the joy and the lovely beauty you bring to the world.

  34. Susan Simpson says:

    Oh, my soap just arrived and it is sooo nice! Looks good smells good life is good. Everyone is going to love it. Many thanks Susan for all you do to brighten our lives! You are a treasure! Happy weekend from another Sue from Long Beach.

  35. Susan P. says:


    It has been a long week and I am HOME now… I can go through all the comments and even do some more shopping. I order the beeswax candles and they were here waiting for me…and also WAITING for me, the last tomato from my good friend Melinda’s garden. OOOHHHHH how lucky am I !!!!!! My HOME is feeling the change of seasons and it has taken on it’s own personality…as usual. I decorate….but it is a process….a little here….a little more there and before I know it ….just like Autumn it is here….and looks natural….like it has been waiting all summer to just do it’s thing. I even have the wood all stacked up….Yeah from last year…I order a full cord …usually only get a half…My husband said: “I was just asking for a heat wave” Well we did get the hot weather…but the bright side, I do not have to order any and I do not have to stack any wood this year. Just can’t wait to have our first fire in the fireplace. But out here in California…that could be awhile. But I can dream. And like you said…Home Sweet Home is Home more ways than one. Thanks for the inspiration and all the kindness you give to us all. Love, Susan P.

  36. Elizabeth in Montana says:

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who accidentally ends up with doorstops when I attempt to make bread. I’ve tried “foolproof” recipes and still ended up with results even the birds wouldn’t touch…lol!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL Elizabeth!

      • Jack says:

        My friend in high school , Emmet Beaulieu and I ditched school one afternoon and decided to make a chocolate cake …..among other things it called for two eggs , which we dutifully added in the batter ….it turned out to be a cake with scrambled eggs in it ….The last I saw of it was Emmet rolling it down 57th street , with a stick !

  37. Teresa says:

    I made my bread this morning, and it is just fabulous. It is delicious plain, for a sandwich, but even more delicious toasted, with butter and jam. My loaves are just perfect looking. What a wonderful recipe you (and Mother Effie) shared with us. I did have some trouble kneading it in my Kitchen Aid mixer. I tried to knead half at a time, and that did not work either–there is a lot of dense dough, and the dough hook was just not grabbing the dough properly. So I took it out of the mixer and kneaded it the old fashioned way. A little tough, but worth the effort. Thank you so much for this yummy recipe.

    • sbranch says:

      Yay! Happy to hear this Teresa . . . enjoy that yummy thing you worked so hard to get! Kinda makes it even better!

  38. Rebecca ~~ Riverside, CA says:

    Hi Susan, reading your newest post while my two sweet dogs nap next to me. Just got the Autumn book yesterday, waiting on the wall calendar which should be here in a week or so. Still warm to hot here, but the evenings and mornings are cool. Even though it doesn’t feel quite like Fall here, pumpkin flavored everything is everywhere. And, it’s my duty to try it all.

  39. Diane says:

    Hi Susan. How thoughtful of you to inspire us to bake some nutritious, yummy looking bread by giving us the recipe for Mother Mary’s Bread! Thank you. I purchased the ingredients with anticipation of enjoying this chilly, rainy, cozy fall day by baking.
    Whoops! My spirits and bread now seem to be deflated. I have been baking bread for 40 years, but it looks like I need some help from Lowely or some of the other girlfriends for this recipe. Is it okay if I ask for input? You can say “no” if this is too long.
    My bread came out very dense with no little air holes, and fairly flat – nowhere near as beautiful as Lowely’s in the blog picture. The slices are about 4 1/2″ wide by a little over 2″ tall – how embarrassing. Were my loaf pans too big? [9 1/4″ x 5 1/4″]
    My yeast mixture was nicely foamy and expanded after its 30 minute rest, so I don’t think the problem is there.
    I used my stand mixer to mix the yeast mixture, but added the bulgur mixture [step 1] and sunflower mixture [step 5] by hand. I also kneaded by hand. [I always knead by hand – it’s soothing and therapeutic and makes me feel connected to all those women who came before me when baking bread for their families.] Was I supposed to use my stand mixer and dough hook to mix the ingredients and knead? I had to keep dusting my baking table with flour to keep the dough from sticking so much.
    My dough was in a nice warm place, but didn’t rise in the bowl very much. I let it go for 1 hour and 15 minutes because even though it passed the double in bulk test [poked my 2 fingers in the side and the imprint stayed] it didn’t rise very much. When I punched it down it didn’t deflate very much either. I let it rise in the bread pans for over an hour even though it passed the double in bulk test – but didn’t look like it had risen much. I was hoping something magical would happen in the oven, but it didn’t. Did I not let it rise long enough?
    Thanks for letting me ask these questions, and thank you to the girlfriends who have successfully made Mother Mary’s Bread for any suggestions.
    A bright spot in the midst of my disappointing bread attempt!! My wooden soap dish and fragrant soap with lavender “essense” came in the mail this afternoon!!!! I love it! My husband said to keep it with the misspelling – it will be a rare and valuable collectible from Susan Branch – just like those rare stamps and coins! He adores you too, Susan, ever since he met you in Oklahoma City last year with our granddaughter at your book signing and asked if he could film you sending me a message of hello.

    • Diane says:

      Sorry. I meant to say Mother Effie’s Bread. Got it mixed up with my favorite Beatle’s song, Let It Be.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I remember your darling husband! Be sure to tell him I said hello! As for the bread. I’m so sorry. Now we have to hear from Girlfriends who might have suggestions for you. I’m not home, we’re in western MA and Lowely is in Prince Edward Island, so we can’t help too much right now. I hope someone else has tried it and will have some ideas for you. I’m so glad you like the “essense!”

      • Jack says:

        Several issues are involved here ,,,,when bread dough acts up , it can be it was too moist ….or it was kneaded too much …or the “Mother”
        Yeast was too old
        Two things in your comment — your reference to kneading sounded like you may very much enjoy this activity ? – then again the moist stickiness causing you to continually add flour while handling your mix sounds like too much water….

        • Jack says:

          Things I think you know are about your yeast being dormant for a long time and may need a little heat to wake up also a bit of sugar or honey to eat while getting active — plus a nice cozy place to get with the program during the rise and punch down….

          • judi says:

            WHAT??? You make bread TOO??? Besides all of your other talents, of course:))

          • sbranch says:

            As I said, this is the smartest person I have ever met. My daddio. xoxo

          • Diane says:

            Wow!! You sure do know the finer points of bread baking! Maybe that’s where Susan got her cooking gene.
            I’m so pleased that you took the time to read through my long letter, and brainstorm some helpful hints in the kindest and most tactful way. You are probably correct that there was likely too much water and the dough was too wet. After reading your post, I got out my dry and liquid measuring cups, and sure enough – the liquid measuring cup holds more than the dry one, cup for cup. I also found out that my 2 liquid measuring cups each hold a different amount! You have opened my eyes!! Maybe that’s why, when I knead bread dough, I always have to keep adding more flour on the baking table. I kneaded 10 minutes, which I thought was standard. The yeast was active because it proofed very well when I added the warm water [I used a candy thermometer to be sure the water temp. was just right] and honey and let it sit. It had a very nice warm cozy place to rise both times. [I just wonder if 1 1/2 hours each time was long enough.]
            So, Jack, I think you are entirely correct that the dough was too moist. I’ll try again and let you know. We may have to start calling you Detective Jack, and get you one of those cooking shows where you go around and sleuth and solve everyone’s baking problems.

          • sbranch says:

            How wonderful! An answer! Thanks Dad!

  40. sondra fox says:

    I made the Kale Salad yesterday. I must say it is delicious! I’m sure it will soon be one of my family’s favorites, as long as I don’t tell them kale is in it. I intend to call it Broccoli Salad, then they’ll give it a try. Thanks once again, Susan, for providing uniqueness to my life. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  41. Joanne Wood says:

    Susan – I guess I’m the only one who wonders what size bread pans??
    It looks yummy. Some of the ingredients surprise me! Good bread is a huge weakness of mine. With butter. And maybe jam. Or honey. I might have to eat two. Pieces. Unless it’s put out of sight.

  42. Lynn Cunningham says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Mother Effie’s bread recipe. My husband is diabetic, and I think this is bread he can enjoy (IF I can master the art of making it)!! And I know for sure that I’ll love it. It looks like it makes PERFECT toast!

    I hope Penelope is still enjoying the Fall. I think one of the other ladies was right when she said Penelope may be a sunflower sprout. I’ve seen enough of them; chipmunks plant them in all of my flower pots. We have a whole community of the little guys. You picked the perfect quote to describe the kind of hope Penelope inspires! <3

  43. Elisabeth Olijnsma-Kootstra says:

    Hi Susan!

    We are now doing a tour of New England and today we arrived on Martha’s Vineyard, the Harbor View Hotel! I’m so happy to be here. So sorry we had to miss your booksigning session in Sandwich today, we were there yesterday! I would have loved to see my favorite artist there, as it is not very likely that we will come again, since we are from the Netherlands. So close and yet so far 🙁 We will tour the island tomorrow. I am very anxious to see what your island looks like.

    I also want you to know that I have been buying your calendar for years now from Amazon UK. It is really cheap, I can get one for € 12 including shipping.

    I will post a review soon.

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t Sandwich a beautiful little town? I hope you’re having a wonderful time on the island. The Harbor View is the perfect place! Sorry to miss you, but I hope you’re enjoying yourselves! xoxo

  44. Lisa aka Jessies mom says:

    Susan I just love your pictures, I am missing fall…it is so hot here today, dry hot and windy. YUCK!
    Jess says hi! She is taking art class and doing cursive at school, she wanted you to know that 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Hung the pumpkin picture on the fridge just before we left . . . tell Jess I said hi, and yay for art and cursive!

  45. Oh Susan,
    Lovely Autumn chores completed together- it makes a wonderful, cozy world.
    I am rooting for Penelope- she is bravery in a little sprout! Grow where you can.
    Jack does have the smooshiest cute kissable nose.
    My kitties knocked the brass cover off of our fireplace this morning while they were wrestling and tumbling about in their usual manner and poor Poirot mashed his toe. I wish I could give him a boo-boo bunny of ice to hold on it but being a cat- he won’t take it. Miss Marple gave him a consolatory wash instead. 😉
    Wishing you crispness and warmth, crunchy leaves and steaming cuppas. xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Gabi, kiss the kitties for me, if they will let you!

      • Thanks will do. They are curled up together by my desk so I can kiss each furry head before they can get away. 🙂
        I made the bread the day before yesterday. It is very delicious, I had a slice toasted this morning with a little olive oil, mashed avocado, Maldon sea salt and pepper. Rick made French toast out of it for himself before I got up, and he said it was yummy that way. Divine!

  46. Genie in NC says:

    I ordered the set of three metal birds expecting to have them perch on my white picket fence, but before I could get them out the door they fluttered to the middle of my double-hung windows and perched there. I had to smile at your latest post, where there is a picture that shows that one of yours did the same thing. 🙂

  47. Love all your products and awaiting 8 more books from you which will put me at 56 books sold when I do sell these 8. I enjoy everything! I personally reread your Fine Romance book and enjoyed it more the second time!

  48. Jack says:

    Penelope the Platypus…..(PP , for short 🙂

  49. Linda... Gardnerville, Nevada says:

    Fall is in the air here in northern Nevada! Beautiful color & crisp air.

  50. Mary says:

    We have the exact fishnet canopy on nearly the same bed! I think ours must be 26 years old or so. I love the way you laid it out on the grass to dry! Thanks for the tutorial—I usually use the bath tub. And yes it is quite the dust catcher. Ahhhh nice and fresh.

  51. Karen Williams says:

    Hi Susan,
    A bit late in getting to your blog this time…but so glad I made it! What wonderful pics of you, Joe, the nuns, kitties and your beautiful four poster-bed-hanging….fluttering gently on your washing line! Fabulous pics of autumn in MV…do wish we could visit!
    Just to let you know I have reviewed Autumn on Amazon. Haven’t seen or purchased your calendar yet, but if and when I do, I will review it of course. I’m hankering after your Christmas charm/bauble…have to leave big hints…!
    Thank you for Autumn and A Fine Romance…I love them both and mentioned AFR in the Amazon review!!
    Keep enjoying Autumn everyone!
    Very many thanks,
    Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, UK

  52. Will you be getting any more lavender soap and dish in before Christmas? Also, are you not selling your rugs?
    Thank you

  53. judi says:

    Thurs., 10/16 4:53 a.m. Queen Mary II pulling in to NY harbor prob. within the next 10 min! NY Harbor Webcam

  54. Anne in Bradford says:

    My mom taught me to grass bleach cotton things to take out the yellow oxidation that happens with cotton. Every summer I like to grass bleach cotton doilies and hand embroidered pillow cases or dresser scarves. The grass transfers stains on to their leaves through photosynthesis. I did a little research online to make sure I had my facts right and saw that there is actually a way to transfer photos to green leaves by bleaching the photos on them. I’m just happy to preserve my old cotton items but apparently grass bleaching is an artistic medium as well!

  55. Jan says:

    Thanks for the bread recipe. It sounds wonderful. Bought most of the ingredients when shopping for groceries today, but am having a hard time finding the millet. Think I will have to order the soap and soap dish. So many wonderful new things in your store. Will you be getting more of the Autumn bead?? I did see there was a limited amount, so I went to order right away, but they were already gone. I, too have picked the last of my tomatoes and have some of my herbs hanging up to dry. Glad I picked them when I did because we have had two nights here where it frosted – killing my marigolds and vine plants. Our trees are beautiful right now though. Have enjoyed seeing and reading your Autumn posts. Happy Autumn to you! Enjoy!

  56. Oh Susan, I just love your blog. Thank you so much for the fabulous Effie bread recipe, can’t wait to mix it, make it, smell it and each it with some nice Kerry Gold butter xoxo

  57. Sharon Maier says:

    Your New England tour was just what I needed in the midst of this late summer heat wave in Texas…it’s over 90 today, and I’m ready for fall. As always, Jack is so beautiful that he brings tears…he’s just the best! You are very fortunate to have a cat who really enjoys your company…as hard as I tried over the years, my cats were all pretty much aloof, but I loved them all anyway, of course. Your blogs are always a day brightener and a spirit renewal in the chaos of the Middle East, ebola, politics, and everything else upsetting in the world. Thank you, and enjoy that foliage…

  58. Portia says:

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful fall foliage. I have always wanted to come to that part of the United States in the fall, but I am afraid that I will never get to. So thanks for sharing the beautiful country….

  59. Annie Raymond says:

    Just loved your “fall” blog! The pictures you take are so clear and beautiful to see. This to is my favorite time of year. Looking out of my dining room window to our beautiful stone walls covered in falling leaves, birds at the feeder a cool breeze in the air, perfection in my eyes. We live in Litchfield country every road leads to something wonderful so we wander along them and enjoy all the beauty. In this time of media stress, I to just choose to not listen to the news but live the day and enjoy all the wonderful good things God offers us who want to find it. Love your site, enjoyed you so much at the reunion.

  60. Joan H. says:

    Susan, thank you for sharing pics of Jack the Cat . We just got a dark grey tiger kitten at 6 weeks old . Our son said if she didn’t work out , he’d return her to the sellers in a month . Forgot how hilarious kittens are …..she’s entertained us with ” Halloween kitty ” , ” Sideways kitty ” , ” Racing kitty “, and ” Jumping- hopping-tumbling kitty ” . Now that she’s 8 weeks old , some of those dance routines have been replaced with , ” Climbing up high & waiting for dog & landing on dogs back ” . Then there’s the ” Still suprised by that tail & trying to outrun it, but it keeps up with me ! ” routine . When my husband takes a nap on the couch , she’ll stand on hind legs , reach up with front paws & gently tap him on the arm , till he wakes up ! She’s keeping us in stitches & we’re all smitten with that kitten . Looks like ” Lili ” is here to stay . 🙂 Thank you for the recipes & soap ! Can’t resist either 🙂 take care !

  61. Anne Lovell says:

    I was just reading my Tea Time magazine and found your Autumn advert in it. Lovely! just wanted to say… 🙂

  62. Sue Berry says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’m so thankful for all the comments. I put together Mother Effie’s bread this morning and it is now rising. I worried that I had done something wrong because my dough was a bit stiff (to stiff to knead in my mixer) and I read that others experienced the same thing. I’m so looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
    I just tried to order the lavender soap and sadly it is out of stock. I would love a bar for me and also for a couple of gifts. Will it be back in stock soon?
    Susan, I love reading your blogs. I save them and go back to them when I need uplifting. Thank you for being you and for sharing yourself with us!

    • Sue Berry says:

      Update: Took two of the prettiest loaves of bread I’ve ever made out of the oven. ‘Wish I could post a picture! It’s killing me not to just cut into them immediately….

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, the soap will be back soon! Thank you Sue — hope you loved the bread!

  63. Rosemary Morse says:

    For the 1st time in many years, I am unable to purchase my Susan Branch Christmas Ornament!! They are SOLD OUT! Susan, are there any plans to get any more ornaments in stock prior to the holidays? Please, please, please! I need to turn my frown upside down! lol I can only hope……..Thank you!

    Rose Morse

    • sbranch says:

      I think I heard, and I’m not sure — I just wrote Kellee to find out, that they were sending our ornament order in two parts . . . half is still to come, I think. Watch the webstore, in case I forget to mention it when and if they come in.

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