BEGIN AGAIN ~ Happy New Year!

MUSICA Hello Darlings!  Happy New Year!  


Another year gone by . . . but before we say goodbye, I thought I’d reinforce the old memory bank with a look back at a very good year.

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susan branch starry light border

Birds in the snow

January 2014 was a snowy one here on Martha’s Vineyard . . . we had a fire in the fireplace almost every day . . . it was very cozy to paint and work on my new book with the crackling of the fire . . .

Martha's Vineyard winter 2014

Watching out the windows to see the wild turkeys visiting our feeders . . . adding to the magic.

Gladys Taber


We burrowed in for a long winter’s nap . . . it’s never quite long enough for me.  I don’t ever get tired of this sight.

He throws snow at me!

Or this one.  My sweetheart doing the aphrodisiac thing . . . I look out the window, there he is, he sees me, he throws a shovelful of snow at the window, and I count my blessings.

sticky snow

I love it when the snow comes in sideways and sticks to the windows.

Jack loves the fire

Jack does too, he’s the kind of kitty that likes to loll in front of the fire.

pristine walk in the woods

Almost every day, Joe and I walk in the woods, we bundle up, and out we go . . . unless there’s ice, or it’s 20 degrees, we always try to go.

icy day on the pond

That’s ice at the water’s edge.  But this is the view, one of them, and being out here is the best part of our day no matter what the season is.

blue with cold

The sky and colors change constantly.  I take a big breath of this cold freshest-of-the-fresh air, and let it circulate through my blood stream and whatever else I do that day is enriched by it.


But all good things must come to an end. So the other good things can begin.  


Snowdrops . . . our first flower of the season.  I lay on the cold ground, getting up close and personal with them. And the dirt smells good.



Then I bring nature inside to be with us.


And bake a lamb cake to celebrate SPRING!

spring bunny


And while I do, outside our kitchen windows, others are celebrating too.

busy bee

The birds and the bees are as happy as we are . . . the earth blooms for us, a surprise every year even though we’re pretty sure it’s coming.




Still all grey and brown, and yet . . . hope springs eternal.

weeping cherry trees

And then things get even more serious and we all come down with . . .

spring fever

And it becomes physically painful to stay indoors . . .

magnolia tree

This gorgeous Magnolia tree bloomed for us for many years, but then one day, it died. It was a huge loss, she had come with the house and we lost her on my watch. I have mourned her ever since.

planting a new Magnolia tree

I know we can never replace her, but this year, we tried.  A new girl was planted.  Now we have something special to look forward to in 2015, will she bloom?

To plant a seed

We hope so.

ahh spring on Martha's Vineyard

Spring was becoming lusher and lusher as it moved toward summer.  The roses began to bloom.  June is a perfect month on this island.


I could roll in these.

the garden


our walk

And the long dirt road through the woods to the water, birds singing, squirrels chasing each other up the trees and across the branches, and the smell of the green things growing ~ it’s all very good fordreams


Jack runs from window to window in the spring . . . watching the world go by, keeping his eye on all the critters in the neighborhood and on his sister, hiding just below the window . . .

Girl Kitty

We let her out because she never goes further than two feet from the foundation of the house.

  And then it was time to clean the house because my high school girlfriends came to visit!  I drove them all over the island, we ate everywhere!  Here we are at Nancy Luce’s grave.  We had a wonderful time!

Reseda High School Girlfriends


me at Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow

And then it was time for me to realize a huge dream and go visit the home of an author I love named Gladys Taber ~ her very old house is called Stillmeadow, and there I am, verklempt. Tears. It was everything I hoped it would be.  I got to go inside this little house in Connecticut that Gladys wrote so much about (I feel like I can call her Gladys because we share the same birthday which makes us almost related.)   It felt like she was nearby, like she’d just run to the market and would be right home.

Stillmeadow, Gladys Taber

Gladys Taber quote

the waterway to Nantucket

Summer progressed, we planted the garden, we ate lobsters and watermelon under the arbor, Joe painted the house, I painted my watercolors and worked on a new book . . . and then it was time to hop a fast ferry to go visit a friend who was spending August on Nantucket, which is about an hour from here, east . . . another little speck of a place, just a little bit out to sea.


And as all of you who virtually traveled along with us know, it is ADORABLE over there.  Cutest little houses in the world.  Pathway made from crushed seashells.

Sconset Cottage, Nantucket

I want to have a little house

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Sconset Cottage, Nantucket

Please.  How can it be this cute! We walked up and down, up and down, all the little lanes to see them

Chanticleer, Nantucket

This is a wonderful restaurant called Chanticleer ~ you can sit outside in the garden, or inside in the garden.

sunset in Sconset



Gorgeous Chanticleer on the inside . . .

Chanticleer Restaurant, Nantucket

Peachy pinky heaven.  Even the salt is pink.happy!

August 2010 005

And home again, to watch the sun set on the beach we walk to everyday.

IMG_6401 Spring Street Publishing Logo 10420153_10152701278086660_1615965967957388925_n

And then we started our own publishing business called Spring Street Publishing, and published our first book . . . AUTUMN from the HEART of the HOME.  We didn’t know how to do this when we started, but after 10,000 mistakes, now we do!  Here’s our first production, just arriving at the Studio in California, greeted by Sheri, Kellee, and Robin.dreamer


And more things bloom in the garden . . . and the bees buzz and the butterflies flit . . . and the clock ticks . . .




And a bunny cools his tummy on the shady lawn on a warm late summer day . . .HeartOfAutumn

And the clock keeps ticking.  We had lots of book signings this fall (I put the pictures HERE under Events) for Autumn and for A Fine Romance . . . which “forced” us out of the house, and we took good advantage of it . . .


Because it’s very beautiful in New England in the Fall . . .

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We visited old graveyards where we walked and smelled the musty leafy smell, kicked up crunchy leaves and read the years on the headstones.

Wallum Lake

We stopped by this lake because once we saw it we really had no choice.  Did you know that New England is filled with lakes?  It is!  And there are darling little 1940’s cabins on the shores of most of them that are rentable!  Keep that in mind!

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Elizabeth Howe Salem Memorial

We stopped in Salem to leave flowers on the memorial for my ancestor Elizabeth Howe who was hung because they said she was a witch.  Saddest thing in the world, she was the mother of six, a farmer married to a blind man.

Mayflower Society House

Then we went to Plymouth, where the Mayflower landed in the freezing winter of 1620. If you’d like to read a really great book, read The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.  You’ll love it!  history

19th Century doll

The Mayflower house was filled with wonderful old things.

Old Book at the Mayflower House

Including this beautiful old book ~ read what it says about Foolishness!!!!  Help!  Run Children!!!  Makes me happy I live today.  People calling people witches and the rod of correction would have done me in!

red work

Lovely old embroidery too, redwork.

Ti-corner hat

And an old Tricorne hat ~ you don’t see these everyday!

the walk

Then again, back home, and out on our walk seeing the colors changing, for just a while, because soon, we are off again . . .


On the train ~ here we are in South Station in Boston . . . about to board the Lake Shore Limited for California . . .


It’s a three-day cross-country trip in our room-with-a-view . . .I’ve been taking the train across the country since around 1984 . . . the only way to fly!  Because of the view from our windows . . .


What a gorgeous time of year to travel!


It couldn’t have been prettier.


Sunrises and sunsets right from our bed, rocking along, singing a song, side-by-side.

Twins Paden and Mason

And then we get there, and here are my sister’s twins to meet us . . . that’s Paden on the left (I’m pretty sure) and Mason on the right (I think), or perhaps that’s Mason on the left and Paden on the right!  Oh well, I’m better than I used to be! I’m sure eleven year old boys don’t like to be called “beautiful,” but I can’t help it.  These boys are beautiful.


Sisters . . . This is Shelly and me. She’s the youngest of my eight siblings and I’m the oldest. Gotta show each other our pictures and catch up ~ we sat outside near the sea for lunch as often as humanly possible.  We have always loved to do this.  We are girls who lunch.

Me, Mom and Shell

And we bring our Mom . . . so it’s me, my mom, Pat and then Shelly.


And here we are again, Mom and me, our Uncle Dick and Shell.

family love family

And here we are on Thanksgiving . . . that’s my brother Brad on the far left.  Joe was truly the photographer on this trip!


Seal Beach is where we are . . . and this was where we walked . . .  


It’s fun to watch the surfers.

Baby & Mom shore birds Seal Beach

And the birds ~ we loved these shore birds . . . so photogenic!  The one that’s sort of got his head down is a baby and he wants to be fed!


Just so cute!


And Decorative!

Old photos

There were lots of old family photos on display while we were there ~ there’s my dad’s twin sisters in the middle and on the right . . . that’s how Shelly got her twin boys!

Me with Blog Daddy and Jeanie

And here they are Girlfriends, Blog Daddy and his darling wife, Jeanie. I’m showing off his elfish ears . . . He couldn’t hide his leprechaunism even if he tried.

Jeanie's tea party

Jeanie invited their friends and we had a wonderful tea party.

Jeanie, Dad and Me

We also had Thanksgiving dinner.  

Mom and Grandma's roses

My mom has my Grandma’s rose bush in front of her house . . . we picked these two roses, one from my Grandma’s bush, one from my mom’s, and kept them on the dashboard of the car the whole time we were out there.  They dried like this; we carefully packed them, and now they’re on my kitchen shelf.


driving north on Highway One

Here we are driving north along the Pacific Ocean, almost to Santa Barbara, to my Studio on the Central Coast.  It’s one of my favorite things to see, it smells like Home to me.  Home in California.

California Studio

This is our Studio garden in California . . . things grow really well in this ancient river bed.

Studio garden

Joe and I were feeling very “Vita” when we planted this garden; it was after our first trip through the gardens in England and we were inspired!

The Long Walk

We even planted a “long walk” ~ something all the gardens have over there . . . it was exciting to see how big the hedges have gotten.

Kellee and Sasha

We also have Studio Kitties . . . this is Kellee with fluffy sweet Sasha . . .

Kellee with Sammy

And here she is with Sammy . . . I don’t like to play favorites, I love Sasha but that freckle on Sammy’s face stole my heart. I wob him.

Sheri with Sammy

They dressed them up for Christmas and they LOVED it . . . this is Sheri trying not to be cut to ribbons by Sammy’s claws. His ears look like horns, but trust me, this is a HEAVEN kitty.  Perfect nap material. Just don’t make him wear a hat and beard!

heading home

And then, the clock ticks forward and off we go again, homeward bound . . .

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And a deep breath, across country with Christmas lights beginning to show in the dark, we made it!

GirlAnd I couldn’t wrestle a camera and do hugging and kissing at the same time, but they were so happy to see us, and vice versa!!! 

Decorating the top of the stove

We sprang into decorating mode, it was almost Christmas!

Jack helps

Jackie helped out with every bit of it!

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Cookie gifts

He especially helped by sleeping through it while I made the cookies, my Coconut Macaroons and my grandmother’s Frosted Molasses Cookies!

Christmas Eve at Lowely's

MUSICA  On Christmas Eve we went to Lowely and John’s, our best friends just two doors over . . . she is into magic also!  And the best cook in the world!

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New Year's Eve in front of the fire

And then it was my turn for New Year’s Eve in front of the fire . . .

Delicious dinner

We made a delicious dinner; everyone brought something . . . that’s Lowely in the sparkly sweater . . .


We just wanted a cozy evening so we could eat, drink (Joe made delicious Brandy Alexander’s!) and talk about our dreams for 2015. And then suddenly, it was here . . .

watercolor flowers

Neglect not the gift that is in thee

We were there!  And began right away, taking my own advice trying not to neglect the gift . . .

painting away

I started painting for next year’s calendar.  (That would be 2016!)  

Best wishes

And I was inspired by the time of year . . . and sending best wishes to you and yours.

Jack in my arms

Jack allows only so much of me not paying attention to him, then he gets tired of it and starts trying to knock over my paint water or something until I stop and gather him up — this is me trying to take a photo of him in my arms, and this is the best I could do without waking Joe up to do it for me!

Merry In The Winter

Full Circle

And now, we are full circle, it’s winter . . . no snow here yet but VERY cold out on our walk . . . this is yesterday and it was 30 degrees; this is the “bundled-up” look.

the all-cookie diet

Under these clothes I look like this. Two Thanksgiving dinners didn’t help, but there’s much more blame to go around . . . we’ll talk about that later . . . 🙂 OR, let’s not and say we did.

Kay & Cheryl at Highclere

I still get wonderful photos from our Girlfriends who take A FINE ROMANCE with them to the MOST interesting places, then they take pictures and send them to me.  This is Kay Bennett and her daughter Cheryl at Highclere Castle in England!  Lucky lucky them! What a wonderful memory for the two of them. And I love our book being there . . . right there on the lawn of Highclere!  

Downton Abbey Highclere Castle Series

Which reminds me to remind you . . . Downton Abbey starts January 4th!  Oh goodie!  It’s going to be exciting. I can hardly think of a better thing to do in January!  Our girl Maggie Smith, just turned 80 this week, hooray!  See, you’re never too young or too old to dream a new dream, there is so MUCH to look forward to!  Just


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377 Responses to BEGIN AGAIN ~ Happy New Year!

  1. Wow, Susan! Your post is so chock-full of good things and wonderfulness that I hardly know where to begin. It has been quite a year, and I really enjoyed the year’s-end rememberings. May 2015 be even sweeter.

    p.s. — I watched HGTV’s Dream House show last night. Since it’s there on your island, I admit I looked just a bit for you and/or Joe in some of the town scenes and thought of y’all when I saw folks walking on the beach. It is truly lovely and unique there. I know it makes returning home all that much sweeter.

    • sbranch says:

      I should watch that! We drove over and looked at the house, really by accident, while it was being built, so I at least know where it is!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Ummm, I’ve entered the contest the last few days, you never know……we could be neighbors! 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          There seems to be several Girlfriends who’ve entered, how exciting, keep me up with what’s happening there! Wouldn’t it be great if one of “us” won it???

  2. susie says:

    Susan, I enjoyed looking through your past year. I liked the pictures of your father. I know you loved your family time. I bet your cats were happy when you returned home. Blessings to you and Joe for a wonderful new year. xoxo,Susie

  3. Mary A. Brown says:

    Wow, what a banner year! I’m with you and life: let’s go and have a blast! Can’t wait for Downton and Maggie is just a delight! But the season’s too short. We need more. I think I saw Bates in the photo of Highclere with our two girlfriends! Happy New Year!

  4. Ricki says:

    Beautiful post Susan. I pray this year will be equally wonderful for you and Joe.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Happy New Year Susan! What a wonderful year you had! I must tell you that I missed you terribly the last couple months…so glad you’re home.
    Your Mom and Dad are soooo adorable, I just loved all the pictures you shared.
    I wish you and Joe a wonderful happy healthy new year and I’m looking forward to all your new adventures in the coming year. ~

  6. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    Love this blog so, so much….I had to read it quickly, in one big gulp, but I’m going back to savor it slowly. It’s poignant, and beautiful, and funny (especially the pic of Shari and Sammy!) and altogether delightful. How lovely to see your precious mom and dad. Thank you, Susan. What a blessing you are. One question…I love the purple tunic you’re wearing in the picture taken at Stillmeadow, and I see you have it on again in the picture with your family. I’d like to find one like it. Could you tell us where you got it? Can’t wait for Sunday night and the start of Downton Abbey. Happy New Year to you and Joe. Hugs!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s made by a company called Johnny Was — they make some really cute clothes!

      • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

        Thank you! I checked out their website this morning. The good news is that I found a tunic very similar to yours, it’s on sale plus an additional 40% off sale price through tomorrow 🙂 Bad news is they’re sold out of purple, only have it left in shell and they don’t have it in my size:( But they really do have some very cute things!

  7. Kelly B. says:

    Susan, Thank you for the new post, I was missing my favorite blog! Love all the pics and looking forward to the new book. Happy 2015!

  8. Rebecca ~~ Riverside, CA says:

    Happy New Year to you Susan and the girlfriends! I love that photo of you bundled up, I was almost like that, sans hat, on New Years Eve night. It’s been cold here, for us, fun to wear coats and scarves. Though it’s supposed to be in the mid 70s next week. Here’s to a fresh start in 2015!

  9. Diane from Poulsbo says:

    Happy New Year dear Susan! This blog had me smiling and laughing out loud….and that is such a great way to begin the new year….THANK YOU! I have too much to comment on that I loved….the kitties in CA, GK, my fav pic of Jack …looking out the window with the room lit up . Soooo cute! ….the scenery, Joe in his adorable winter wear …your beautiful mother, your darling Blog Daddy and his equally darling wife…..the Oreo cookie with the bikini (exactly how I feel after the holidays! )…..and everything else!! This was such a special and fun blog. I appreciate so much everything you share with The Girlfriends. Xoxo

  10. Melinda mom of 3 beauties says:

    Hello, Susan! Oh, my heart is happy–your “year in review” was heart-warmingly enjoyable and how blessed I feel to be a girlfriend as it was a recap of familiar delights. Seeing the sweet photo of you in front of Gladys Taber’s home reminded me of the feelings you shared that you were having that day. Well, please know that is how I felt at the chance to meet with you in November which is at the very tip top of my 2014 highlights, along with the gratefulness I feel for my three girls.
    Loved, loved, loved the ode to your fabulous stove posted whilst you were still traveling! As a fellow fan of charming houses & warm, charming kitchens I understand and appreciate the urge to pay homage to her.
    Such a reasuring gift was your post on Christmas Eve. Figured you & Joe were busy giving kyi-tah kyi-ties (goofy kitty-love talk the girls & i have) smutches and squish hugs. Then playing house with Christmas decorating and cooking (doesn’t it feel good to cook in your own kitchen after traveling?) but sorry to learn you that you were sick in the middle of it all. You are so right, need to rest and improve not keep going and worsen–so, as my beautiful mom said, Life hands you lemons then make lemonade. Thank you for reminding us of this–so, if life hands you the flu then cure it with tea and classic movies, under a vintage quilt.
    Great photo of you all snuggly-buggly. Love that your scarf isn’t just a scarf but a scarf with a ball at the ends!
    Happy New Year to you & Joe and kitty-kitties. So glad you’re home safe & snug.

  11. Melinda mom of 3 beauties says:

    Ps- remember to visit website for April Cornell–!!

  12. Dee Fox says:

    Happy New Year, Susan and Joe! Thanks again for all the beauty and joy you share through this blog and, Of Course, your books. XX

  13. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Yay, fun to have you back and I loved the year in review, but most especially your Grandma’s dried roses spoke to me. Really stunning photo – I could almost smell them. I’ve been checking in on Twitter and facebook, BUT I like the blog best :-). Happy New Year.

  14. Peggy says:

    Happy New Year to you Sue and to Joe and kitties!!! May this year bring good things to you and yours. Esp. so you can blog them to us!!

    And may all of us try to leave the world a bit greener and more peaceful for the Paden’s and Mason’s and all the young ones coming along in our footsteps. We can all do our part to make it better for all of them and all creatures big and small.

    Treat mother earth with an easy hand, flowers, and great love in 2015.
    Resolution: Live it up!!!! xxoxo from Peggy and Sparky

  15. Val says:

    You know how to live, Susan. ♥ Happy new year!

  16. Martha Ellen of VA says:

    What a lovely recap of a blessed year, dear Susan! Happy New Year to you and Joe and Girl and Jack! May 2015 be your best year ever! xoxo ♥

  17. Cheryl Walsh says:

    Happy New Year! I have missed your postings. They were too few and far between. But you do knock yourself out with the photos and artwork- it is appreciated!
    Warning- I am trying to win the HGTV Dream House on Martha’s Vineyard- I would love to invite you and Joe over for dinner–what a dream that would be!

    Hug the kitties and stay warm-we were -4 last night in central Oregon..too cold. :o) Cheryl

  18. carmel says:

    Happy, joyous new year everyone! Thank you so much, Sue, for taking the time sharing your memories. So good to see your family and the staff in CA. I must have missed something because I didn’t know one of your ancestors was killed during that terrible period in our history. While I was in New England a couple of years ago, I made sure while I visited Salem that I paid my respects to those who suffered and died due to the evil unjust actions of some. I went to the memorial with “benches” engraved with inscriptions of their words. Very moving. Well, I thank you for encouraging us to have dreams for the year. I’m going to write them down. I’ve got your calendars to accompany through the year with their good cheer and wisdom.

  19. Nancy G says:

    Loved your story of 2014! Isn’t life just magical? I’ve missed you as I’m sure everyone else has but life is also just so busy. Yes, I’m counting the days till Downton Sunday night. Hugs to you, Joe and the kitties. Nancy

  20. Joan Ramseyer says:

    Wishing you and Joe a peaceful and healthy 2015. Am most anxious to watch the first episode of Downton Abbey as we were at Highclere Castle in September and even had high tea on the second floor of the coach house. It was such a memorable experience. My husband noticed that there weren’t that many men at the tea, but he loved it anyway. When they brought us a three tiered plate of food he said, “Let’s pace ourselves.” Every bit of the deliciousness disappeared as we did just that…paced ourselves. We were in Edinburgh, Scotland when the first episode of the new season of Downton Abbey was shown in the UK but no spoilers from me. However I’m ready to watch it again and then see what happens the rest of the season. Such a good way to get through January. Cheers!

  21. Barbara (WA) says:

    What a beautiful way to look at and appreciate a year!

  22. Sharon Calvert says:

    Thank you for the memories … looking forward to those awaiting us in 2015! Cathy shared this link yesterday on her blog, Morning Musings … a lovely Scottish presentation of Auld Lang Syne: Happy New Year!

    Sharon in Alabama

  23. Mary says:

    Hi Susan,
    Welcome back to the pages of days, missed you here in New England! What a beautiful start to the new year.

  24. oh this is so exciting! to see the whole year in photos all in one place is divine. so so happy to have been gifted your peachy book a fine romance for christmas and to have found your blog. oh i am in heaven!

  25. evangeline says:

    “Happy New Year” May you and Joe have the “happiest” time together this year. Thanks for the wonderful posts on your blog. Such fun to look forward to. You make the world seem more beautiful…thank you for that….may blessings rain down on your household…hug those kitties…evangeline

  26. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Dear Susan and Joe and kitties too, =^..^=, wishing you and your families and friends lots of blessings and good health in 2015. Loved your look back at 2014. Hugs, Elaine

  27. Kathie Ferko says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thanks for the festive blog…sounds like a a fun time! Went to see the Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch on New Years Eve….it was a good movie…he played such a great part.
    Went home and grilled some sea scallops…ate with brown rice. Drank Proseco with Elderflower liquor….yum!!!
    No snow for the holiday for us! The weather keeps getting cold then we have a day of 50-60 degree weather!….crazy weather.

    My snowdrops are blooming! There are a few clumps of them that bloom earlier…they are so pretty….brings the hope of spring.
    A Happy and Healthy to all the girlfriends! Happy New Year Susan and Joe!
    Can’t wait to see what the new year brings from the world of Susan Branch!

    Love to all

    Kathie from Limerick

  28. Sherri says:

    Thank you for this wonderful review of 2014! I hope you know how much your blog means to so many, myself included. You’ve taken me to New England and across the country by train, to California and, best of all, to England where I’ve always longed to go.
    I wish you another year of success and happiness!

  29. Connie Turnbull says:

    Thank you, Susan! What a wonderful, pictorial recap of the year! I loved it all!

  30. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us. Praying God’s blessings on you and yours in 2015. ♥

  31. Diana says:

    Happy happy NewYear to you and Joe, kitties and all the girlfriends! Well this starts my new year off in style. I just did kind of the same thing with bringing my journal up to date from last year. Phew. What a year! Yours is so much artsier and all, which I love. Thanks for the reminders to live each moment. Cheers to all!

  32. Helen says:

    What a year! Enjoyed the walk back through it with you……..such a great example of each small moment and experiences all adding up to one richly layered life! Happy 2015 Susan and Joe 🙂

  33. Mary Brehm says:

    Happy New Year Sue! What a lovely trip down memory lane. The Year seems to have flown by in a blink. Thank you for all of your wonderful insight on life. You help me to remember to appreciate life and stop and enjoy the little moments. I love seeing the pictures of you and your family. The pictures of your dad put a lump in my throat. You are very lucky to have both of your parents still with you. I wish you all the best in 2015. A year of creativity, love, peace, health and happiness. All the best to you dear friend. You really are a treasure. Love from Me <3

  34. Ruth E. Rupp says:

    HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Such a delightful column today! I loved your recap of the entire year and all the pictures. So glad you’re back home safe and sound. Hoping this year will be just as much fun for you and for all the girlfriends. Lots of hugs to the kitties, Joe, and you, along with Much Love from Minnesota, Ruthie

  35. Vickie in Cleveland says:

    Oh what a wonderful look back at your year, Susan! I think you live a very charmed life! I hope 2015 is another fantastic year for you, filled with wonderful things!
    Hugs to you and Joe and your sweet baby kitties!

    Vickie in Cleveland

  36. Mary Whiting says:

    Happy New Year to you and Joe, Susan….
    May 2015 bless you both with continued love and happiness. And thank you for bringing us along on your wonderful ride.


  37. Carol from PA says:

    I hope it is not too late to wish you, Joe, the kitties and all the girlfriends (and boys!) a very Happy New Year. Wishing everyone special blessings and peace in 2015! Certainly one of my greatest blessings this past year was finding your blog, Susan. The joy it brings can’t be measured. Thank you for sharing yourself in such a very special way! God bless!

  38. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan!!! A beautiful year in review and how fun it was to be able to share it with you and yours. Talk about counting blessings… so very many of them…I loved this post
    For so many reasons…. friends, traveling, food, dreams, kitties, memories, family…just the very best…..You are what my darling sweet sister-in-law would call a “DCT”… “Dream Come True”….. and I am so grateful to have been able to become a part of this kinship… my thoughts and dreams are rekindled every time I read a blog post, open up one of your books, turn a page on your calendar, create one of your recipes or see a Tweet pop up out of no where……and I am not alone…. and that’s maybe what is the best!!! So thank you again susan.. for your heartfelt love of life… may you always live it to the fullest….:-) which brings me to the bundled up look….I LOVE IT!!!! We have never shied away from our walks and bike rides because of the weather and have had some of our best adventures in crazy weather… it’s when we saw our first bald eagles that come to nest on the Mississippi River each January, it’s when I crashed my bike after picking wild daffodils and I was trying to steer and protect my bouquet at the same time ( bad idea )… It’s when we slid down the steepest hill of all on practically all ice and ended up sailing across a parking lot and into a gazebo with our children laughing madly…. ( shades of Griswold!). So keep on taking those steps …don’t we know the adventure is worth it!!! HAPPY HAPPY 2015!!!! May you know many more blessings and feel the happiness of love every single day… love, cindy ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      Beautiful Cindy, thank you! “The adventure is worth it!: How right you are. xoxo

    • Cheryl Danley says:

      Thank you for your “year in review.” It was great to look back at everything. Loved seeing the pictures of your parents, brother and sister, twin nephews. Yay! Freckles! 😀
      Time to go back to your, “Girlfriends” book and get inspiration to eat leaner once again. Thanks for that book, btw. I love it! I’ve gained a whopping 10 lbs over the holidays and know it’s going to be hard physical work to melt all that off. Why or why is it so easy to put on the pounds but great effort to get rid of them??? Sigh….love you and, “Happy New Year!!!” from Boise, ID where it’s a nice warm 18 degrees out.

  39. Debbie R from Valencia Ca says:

    Oh so good to hear from you dear sue. We have missed you so. Happiest of New Years to you and Joe. May 2015 be the best year ever! I have a feeling it’s going to be magical……Anticipation!!!!!

  40. Erica C says:

    Thank you for a wonderful year, Susan! All the best to you and yours. Here’s to 2015 and neglecting not what is within us!

  41. AngieTink says:

    🙂 Good~Morning Sweetest Sue! It’s 1:45 am January 3rd & it’s Me Birthday! Yay 🙂 & What a Delightful Way To Begin My Birthday…. Reading Your Glorious Blog…Twice…I Must Savor Every Word & Every Photo 🙂 Thank~You For Sharing Yourself With All of “Us” 🙂 Blog~Daddy & Jeanie Two Cuties! 🙂 🙂 Your Beautiful Mum! Your Sister & Her Cute~Twins! 🙂 🙂 Your Musica Choice always Brings Tears To Me Eyes Your Joe & Girl & Jack Meowzers! 😉 Your Travels Your Holidays Your Wonderful Family Your Magic Sweet Sue Makes My Wings All A Flutter & puts a Huge Smile on Me Face 🙂 I Love Your Tweets Too! I’m Happy Your Christmas Was Merry & Bright I Want To Wish You & Joe & The Kitties & All “Us~Girlfriends” A Wonderful Safe & Healthy & Prosperous Magical New Year as We Count All Our Blessings…Amen! Today Herbster & Me The Birthday~Girl 🙂 Are Going Over To My Mum’s 😉 (Irene) for A Birthday Party Lots of Pink~Champagne & Take~Out Chinese (Yummy) & Birthday Cake Too & Presents!!!! 🙂 Yay & Then an Evening of Poker! Herbster is Teaching Us How To Play & Win! 😉 so Lots Of Love & Warm Hugzzz Sweet Sue Happy New Year Happy Birthday & Happy January As We Celebrate All The Fun & Frolic of Winter! Yay! xoxo Poof! P.S. There’s Also A Full~Moon This Weekend So Everybody Make Your Wishes! Sue All This Magic! Amazing! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Birthday Angie!!! You aren’t wasting a second of it! Have fun, hope they let you win, it’s your birthday after all!

      • Cindy Maulin says:

        Happy Birthday AngieTink!!!! I agree… nice little birthday gift at 1:45am!!!! have a wonderful day and may the chips fall your way! Cheers!!!

      • AngieTink says:

        Thank~You Sweet Sue! You’re Right! 🙂 “I’m With You Kid….Let’s Go”! 🙂 P.S. Also Downton Abbey Tomorrow! OMG! 🙂 A Truly Blissful~Birthday~Weekend! You Know I’m Doing The Jiggity~Jig! 😉 xoxo Poof! 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          Tomorrow! I know where we’ll all be! How is your Birthday going? Is everyone giving you lots of hugs and kisses? xoxo

    • Diana says:

      Happiest of days today Angie!

      • Happy Birthday, Angie Tink! Love reading your responses to Susan’s blog posts…so lucky to be a part of this great network…happy, happy to you and good luck with the poker, too.

  42. Kathy says:

    It’s such bliss to be able to peek into your wonderful life, dear Susan! Thank you so much for sharing. Happy New Year and all good blessings for 2015!

  43. Rosie (from Illinois) says:

    Here’s to a bright and shiny New Year filled with happiness, wonders galore, and marvelous happenings – cheers to your house and to all the girlfriends! ♥

  44. sondra fox says:

    Oh, I was so excited to see your new letter! You had good weather while in CA, I know, but has anyone told you about how cold it is right now? So. CA is having a cold spell. I mean gloves/hats/warm jackets/boots “cold.” You just missed it.

    A friend & I went over to view the Rose Parade floats today. What a fun time we had. The flowers were just so beautiful. When it got too crowded for us, we left. Lots of exercise for us today, as there was lots of walking.

    Thank you for your post of the past year. Enjoyed the pictures of your folks. Loved how Joe throws snow at the window you’re looking out of. You two are such wonderful lovebirds. Speaking of birds, what kind of bird is that yellow one? A wild canary? I love watching birds. Mocking birds here in CA are my favorites. They have such feisty personalities, plus I love hearing them sing at night with quiet all around them.

    It’s back to my regular schedule tomorrow. No more marathon baking for awhile, no more special choirs to hear for awhile, or special dinners for friends, or home tours, no more decorating, no more crowded shopping, & I can now find a place to park at the malls. Tomorrow is clean up Christmas decorations day.
    (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  45. Happy, Happy New Year Dear Susan!

    Just loved this retrospect and seeing all you {we} did in 2014! Perfect pictures of everything and everyone ~ Blog Daddy, your Sweet Mom, and your Adorable Sister and everyone else {long list, I’d be too sure to miss someone out!}

    I have my calendar up ~ so did not want to put the old one away, but it is now safely tucked up with all the others ~~~ love Fred dancing our way into 2015!

    ~~~waving~~~ from Across the Pond ~ Deb in Wales

    p.s. New Year’s intention of abstinence from social media does not include blogging and reading blogs 🙂 just Twitter and Facebook 😉 A girl has to have something to do!

  46. Lori Metschan says:

    Thank you Susan! I am so excited, my mother in law gave me your Falling in love with the English Countryside for Christmas!! Put up your calendars the other day too. I love you and all that you do! xoxo!

  47. Penny says:

    What a wonderful review of the year Susan, thank you so much for sharing your writing, photographs and paintings with us. So looking forward to reading your blog this coming year! With very best wishes to you and Joe for 2015. Lots of love from a wet, cold, grey day in Scotland- but the fire is on, the radio is humming and the kettle is starting to sing on the hob- warm and cosy inside! X

  48. Susu S says:

    Such beautiful photos. Each season has its own delights. I love seeing photos of ‘your’ beach – the same one we enjoyed in July while visiting my sister, Taffy. Happy New Year, Susan, and many, many thanks for this blog (and for ‘Annie Hall’s Christmas Cookies’ – a staple of the season in our house over here in England)

  49. Terri says:

    Thank you for sharing all the good blog times this past year! We are cold here in southern California too, as Sondra mentioned in her comment. California may not have had a white Christmas, but we had a white New Year’s eve! We were house-sitting at our daughter’s, just a few miles away and it snowed there on the eve before New Year’s eve (New Year’s eve, eve?). Best of all, it has stuck around – at least in those areas facing the north (which their house does), so our grandkids were able to come back home a couple of days later and still enjoy it too. Though our paltry couple of inches may not seem like much to write home about, it’s so rare here, it’s downright exciting when we have actual seasonal weather going on, like regular people in the rest of the country. Seems 2015 is already off to a magical start! Wishing you good health and happiness with dollops of magic and wonder in the new year!

    • sbranch says:

      My dad had a whole day of snow in Arizona on NY’s Eve! Something is switching around!

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        It is a winter wonderland in Northern Arizona!!! Colder here than there! Enjoying our chance to play in the snow in Prescott 🙂 Loved your “year in review” … what a walk down memory lane! Our daughter became engaged on New Year’s Day so 2015 wil be a very special year for us! Love to you and Joe …and blog daddy … and your beautiful mom … and Angie Tink on her birthday 🙂 xoxo

  50. Yvonne says:

    I enjoy your blog very much Susan but I have to say that It’s cruel to keep Jack indoors all the time, especially as his ‘sister’ is allowed out.You could at least build him a cat ‘run’ in the garden so that he can feel the grass under his paws.They make harnesses for cats these days too; so you can walk him like a dog .It breaks my heart to see him looking so longingly out of the window, like a bird with its wings clipped.

    • sbranch says:

      I know what you mean, but we’ve had some terrible kitty tragedies in our neighborhood involving cars . . . all of my other kitties have been outdoor cats, but this time I just got scared. Jack is three now, but he’s still a maniac — we put him on a leash this summer for the first time and he had a FIT, wiggled himself out of it like a bucking bronco and then hid in the bushes until we could coax him out. He’s now afraid of the outdoors, the unknown, he doesn’t even try to escape when the door is open. And as for birds, the way he is with rubber bands, I’m afraid he could pull them out of mid air . . .

      • Sharon Calvert says:

        Our cat likes to spend a few minutes outside in a ‘tent’ designed for pets. I’ve placed comfy cushions on the floor, and she is safely contained while enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, sniffing the fresh air, and communing with nature.

        Sharon in Alabama

        • sbranch says:

          In the summer I open the pantry door and back the ironing board up to the screen . . . Jack jumps up, takes naps in the sun, plus he is able to watch the world go by. He loves it there.

          • Charlotte Anderson says:

            I had a wonderful indoor kitty, I lost almost 2 yrs. ago. It would have been a lot sooner if she hadn’t lived indoors. I saw a well fed Coyote strolling down the sidewalk in the neighborhood next to mine. One day we were parked next to the ocean, enjoying the view. Along came a couple with a proud, pleased cat in a sit position inside a pull or push carryon luggage looking thing! I found one at Target. My cat LOVED it! Walks with the dog, outside meals with family, and trips to the vet made easy! I even found that trips to the vet in the van allowed me to strap the carrier on the Captain Kirk chairs for her to admire the view! Silence all the way to the vet! The only other thing that made her quiet going to the vet was listening to the music of the electric light parade from Disneyland! Don’t you love the individual quirks of animals, let alone their owners!

          • sbranch says:

            Yes, I do love the quirks they have! How they will nap in the same place for years, then one day abandon it and never return. Why do they do that? I don’t know!

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        You’re doing the right thing, Sue. My brother’s cat – also a boy – LOVES going outside too and rockets out the side door every chance he gets [even though we’re very careful going in and out]. And he has wiggled out of his harness EVERY single time he’s been taken outside. This has led to some memorable chases and trapping activities in the neighbors’ yards. I’m sure you’re glad Jack is now scared of going outdoors. He’s much better off…

        • sbranch says:

          I used to worry that he was missing something by always staying in, but he is so uninterested in going out now, I think it’s fine. And he won’t get run over or kill all the birds and bring them to me the way he does with rubber bands!

          • Janet in Rochester says:

            Completely agree with you. Jack can’t miss what he’s never really known – his disinterest is a good thing. Besides, except for the fact that Girl doesn’t want to play with him [much], he certainly seems to be a very happy little guy at your house. I think you’re good to go. :>)

          • sbranch says:

            Me too. 🙂

  51. Yvonne says:

    To add to my previous post: just go to Google images and type in cat runs and enclosures and you’ll be amazed at the truly wonderful designs that are available.Jack would be able to have the best of both worlds, lots of freedom but with the added safety aspect for him and peace of mind for you.

  52. Yvonne says:

    Oops sorry Susan; posted my second post before I saw your reply. A cat run/ enclosure might still be the answer though, he might be brave enough to use it if he sees his ‘sister’ taking an interest. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones, furry and otherwise.

  53. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    Happy New Year!!! well that was just the best, looking at all those photoes over the past year. Your Mom and Dad are just darling! You really take some amazing pictures. I saw the HGTV dream home is on Marthas Vineyard and just about ran to put my entry in. Who wouldn’t want to live on Marthas Vineyard. Have a great weekend Susan, we might be getting some snow today, can’t wait

  54. Hi Susan, I really enjoyed seeing your year in review–especially since you included some things you’d not blogged about before. I was hoping, though, you’d share your plans for the year… when you HOPE to get your new book to the printer…..are you still thinking of going to Scotland…..and anything else in the works! As you can see, I’m not a fan of surprises. I prefer anticipation! Wishing you your heart’s desire for 2015. ♡♡♡

    • sbranch says:

      Way too many things happen in a year that I would never have time to blog about . . . not big things necessarily, but a zillion wonderful little things. I thought I would do the past first and then move on to the future! Wishing you the very same Cathy, your heart’s desire!

  55. Julia says:

    Happy New Year Girlfriends! Let’s make it great.
    This is such a fun post. Thank you for sharing the
    family with us. They seem like our family, too.
    In the first pic of you and Shelly, you could be twins!
    The boys ARE beautiful. I laugh every time I see
    your luggage! Julia

  56. Laura says:

    Oh Susan…Happy New Year!! I loved your pictures from 2014❤. OMG OMG OMG….DOWNTON IS ON TOMORROW!!!! I’m a bit excited. xxxooo

  57. Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    What a wonderful year in review…especially those times spent with family. The highlight of this past year for me was my trip to Ohio with my mom to take care of the Grands for a week! Very special. And now Mom and I have a new adventure planned for 2015. I think when you are 92 years young it is important to have big plans! Mom is very excited about it. The only thing that could get in the way is if we win the HGTV Dream Home…..then you and Joe will be invited for “twine”!
    I am ready for life to get back to normal. Love the holidays! Love when it’s over! We have spent the last 2 days locked in the movie Frozen so I am not surprised your dad had snow. Today temps should reach 50 and I am ready!
    Love you Susan and thanks for the time you spend with the GF’s.

    • sbranch says:

      So with you, love the holidays but always glad when they’re over and things are smooth again. xoxo to your mom from me!

  58. Sylvie says:

    Dear Susan, I wish you and your dear ones a happy and healthy new year filled with plenty of good times and nice surprises.
    Your post is a delight as always. Thanks a million for your inspiration and for your positive spirit that we need so much.
    I hope that someday we’ll be able to buy your lovely products here in France. I’ve already bought some of your books on Amazon but I never found trace of your beautiful dishtowels & linens or tea things … It is such a pity !.
    Best wishes from France.

    • sbranch says:

      No, we can barely find them here . . . that’s why I started our web store, so at least there would be one place to find them! We can ship things to you Sylvie, if you ever feel like doing that. Shipping is probably expensive, but customer service@ can let you know more about that. Happy 2015 to everyone in France and to you!

  59. Nancy Shuey says:

    Susan, so glad to read your latest blog entry. I always look forward to getting my cup of tea and just relaxing while reading. Your photos and quotes always lift my heart. Thank you!

  60. Patti Reed says:

    Loved, loved your post! You are such an inspiration. I think everyone should try and lead a magical life. Imagine the world if we did. Thank you for everything that you do for the girlfriends!

    • sbranch says:

      I imagine the world like that all the time, and on this blog, I think we have many many people (like you) who do just that!

  61. Cathy from Golden Co says:

    I just love this beautiful, long, dreamy post. Thank you for sharing your wonderful world! HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you, Joe and the kit-Kats.

  62. Laurel in VA says:

    I’ve been feeling sorry for myself as I’ve had the flu this week. This post really perked me up! There is nothing like reading your blog and realizing that life is sooooo good – thanks Susan!

  63. Isabel says:

    Hi Susan,
    What a beautiful post. You have really had a BUSY year. Your pictures are so beautiful, sometimes I use them as my computer wallpaper so I can look at them constantly. Especially since I am in Florida, where there is no Fall. My favorite time of year.

    A happy new year to you, Joe, Jack and Girl. Can’t wait to see what plans you have for this year, as you are so kind to take us all along. Happy New Year to all the “girlfriends” also.

    I know you are so busy, but please try not to stay away so long. Missed your beautiful words and thoughts.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll try hard Isabel! I’ll never stay away unless there’s something going on that needs me . . . then I just have to!

  64. Oh, Susan! What a wonderful year! Thank you for helping us remember all of the wonderful moments. My very favorite memories are all of your family photos! I love, love, love the dried roses from your mom’s garden ~ worth more than gold. Can’t wait to see what new adventures lie ahead in 2015! It’s going to be an amazing year ~ I can just feel it!!
    Warm hugs,

    • sbranch says:

      We have the first daffodil to see, and the first warm day where we can open all the doors and let the air whoosh through . . . so MUCH to look forward to!

  65. …and I’m definitely with you kid! I’m looking forward to your posts and your new book and your trip to Scotland (I should have said “our” trip). So much to look forward to! Oh, and more knitting and quilting and books and Golden Retrievers. Obviously I could go on and on !

  66. Judy from New Jersey says:

    Thank you for a beautiful post it made my day! I gave A Fine Romance to a close friend for Christmas. I was very careful not to tell her about it prior to the holiday. That was hard because I love it so much! She loves tea, Beatrix Potter, and gardening, so the book was a sure thing. She is one of the girlfriends, just doesn’t know it yet! While I am writing I will tell you I made your Lemon Bars twice during the holiday, and those Blueberry Corn Cakes have replaced our regular breakfast pancakes. So delicious! Thank you for all you share.

    • sbranch says:

      Your friend sounds like a kindred spirit! And yes, for us too, the Blueberry Corn Cakes rule! Thanks Judy!

  67. It is such fun to read your “year in review” and see the gorgeous pictures. One of my Christmas treats from my mom was your book “Autumn,” signed by you. What a treasure!

    And my parents gave me a membership in the Friends of Gladys Taber (because thanks to you and my mom, Gladys has become a dear and comforting friend). I’d say 2015 is off to a great start so far! 🙂

  68. Donna says:

    Happy New Year, Susan and Joe,

    What a wonderful year of memories and fun. Thank you for sharing your wonderful life, it is always an inspirational! I look forward to a year of posts of exciting, fun things and talents shared.

  69. Ann Y in PA says:

    What a great year in review…a nice antidote to all the ones on the news that are so depressing. You always remind us of the good things in life ! Here in our world the decorations are down, I am “loving” my home – my word for cleaning! – then soup for lunch, a nap, a movie…getting ready for the new year of fun. And…best of all, a warm cuppa, a new pen, and a new SB calendar to make wonderful plans for the future. Happy 2015 to all !

    • sbranch says:

      You sound like me, nothing makes me happier than to feel organized and knowing that things are clean and in their proper places. I’ve been taking dishes out of my open cupboards and running them through the dishwasher, making everything shine, ready for 2015!

  70. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Happy Wonderful New Year! Thank you for this beautiful look back through the year! I loved sharing every bit of it with you all! Susan, you continually knock my socks off (& I need to keep them on, brrrr, cold in CA!) with your cleverness, wit, gorgeous painting, terrific quotes & down-to-earth..ness….!! Prayers & blessings for you, your loved ones, & all these GFs & BFs for 2015!!!! xoxo

  71. Susan K. says:

    I feel like I’ve just been on the most wonderful long trip!

  72. Melody says:

    Thank you Susan, for such a lovely post! A wonderful recap of an exciting year. You had some wonderful adventures for sure, and how lucky we are that you shared them with us!! Stillmeadow.. *sigh* how wonderful that you got to visit. I would love to do that someday. Best wishes to you, Joe, and the dear kitties for a wonderful 2015!

    • sbranch says:

      You should try to do it, it’s just sitting there, plain as day, as it’s been since the 1600’s!

  73. Candice OHIO says:

    Happy New Year Susan, Joe and Kitties!!
    What a wonderful reminisce over the past year and coming full circle again, such is life! If only every year could be so wonderful! (sigh) Enjoyed all of your family photos, you have such wonderful family memories, you are very blessed!!
    I am looking forward to 2015, going to be traveling to England in February to attend my Goddaughters wedding! I will be there for about 10-14 days, visiting my Aunt & Uncle and many cousins, I am over-the-moon about it! I have never been during the winter months, but will certainly enjoy the experience of the season and attending a British wedding! I have been asked to be one of the witnesses to sign the marriage license! Such an honor!! I will be able to cross this off of my “bucket list”! My other hope is that I can spend Christmas with them one of these years.
    I hung my new 2015 SB calendars at the stroke of midnight on NYE! I am sending one to my cousin in England too. Looking forward to seeing the publication of your new book this year So there is many great things to look forward to this year. Stay healthy this winter and until your next blog…..
    Lots of Hugs to all,

    • sbranch says:

      Your trip sounds like so much fun! A wedding! In February . . . how wonderful! Let us know all about it Candice!

  74. Maureen MacKenzie says:

    Susan….you are so blessed…what a wonderful 2014!

    My sister-in-law lives in Scotland and just finished watching this season of Downton Abbey. She said the Christmas special/finale was so good. She won’t tell me anything that happened and I don’t dare ask…I think that’s a good thing, but a small part of me wants to know. Well, we’ll know tomorrow night.

    It was so sunny this morning, but now clouds before the rain. We’ll get it first here on Long Island…then east to you. Enjoy! It’s back to work and my second graders on Monday. Happy New Year!

    • sbranch says:

      Snowed here this evening, unexpectedly ~ I thought we would only get rain, but the temp is still down there . . . hope the snow is still there when we wake up!

  75. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    This post makes me want to shout HOORAY! Life is grand! Here we come 2015!

  76. Glenda says:

    Happy New Year Susan!

    Special entry…..So special that it made me tear up when I got to the end. You have captured so many wonderful things and feelings with family and friends. You are such a neat person and your life reflects that. Thank you for sharing your year with all of us. I am sure I am going to be going over and over today’s blog again and again! 🙂 Blessings to you and Joe in the new year!

  77. Christine says:

    A wonderful New Year for you and all of the Girlfriends!! I love the New Year and New Beginnings! So excited to see this new posting, and it is quiet here and I can savor it!!! Yum!!
    What a wonderful year you have shared with all of us. Great adventures and in pictures! “and I say to myself, It’s a wonderful world” Thanks so much!!!

  78. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, Happy New Year to you and Joe! It has been a busy year for you and for all of us. So much happened when you really stop and take a look back. So happy you had Thanksgiving with your Dad and his lovely wife. Also, the tea table looked so wonderful………..I wished I was joining you. So nice you had a fun time with your Mom too. We had our one son David and his wife, Aeriel, and daughter Reagan(2) and son, Gage, (6 mos.) come to visit over the holidays which was grand. It was a bit tiring for us thought so Joe and I took a nap after they left this morning. My sister comes from CO in a week so we are changing bed, washing sheets & towels and cleaning like crazy so we’ll be ready for her. There’s never a dull moment when you live in Fl. We are getting our friends from when we lived up by Hershey at the end of the month but not sure when yet.

    Joe gave me some beautiful Downton earrings for my birthday Dec. 29th and they are gorgeous. Also, a book about behind the scenes of Downton (can’t wait to read it). I also got a Downton Tote from my friend wishing me a Happy B’day too! Many other treats………..too numerous to say but since we are all getting ready for Downton…….just had to mention those.

    Looking forward to another fun-filled year and your new book whenever it comes out!

    Happy New Year to you, Joe and the kitties~! With love, Gail xoxo

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

    Susan, what a wonderful posting you did!!! Loved all the pictures of last year. It was good seeing your folks and it was great that you could be out west for Thanksgiving with them both this year. I don’t blame you at all for extending your trip in order to see all of them longer.

    Loved the picture of the coast line and the Pacific Highway ! Many many years ago in another lifetime, my x and I drove down from Long Beach down Big Sur. Love that area. The picture from Santa Barbara reminded me of that.

    Oh, wow, do you have any information and/or pictures of your ancestor Elizabeth that was hung for being a witch? I always thought it was so sad of that time in our history.

    I see you have many birds to feed also. Do the Cardinals go south during the winter? Never see a picture of them except during the warmer weather at your house.

    Loved the picture of you all bundled up to go on your walk. Its been so very cold here that I don’t see anybody going for walks now a days. Only in the mall 🙂 . Good for you and Joe to walk no matter what. I might walk during the winter outside if it weren’t hard on my breathing. Having asthma as a child, the cold air really got to me. Now, the asthma seems to be coming back a bit…. I heard that happens when you get older. At least they have sprays now that really work fast…. not like when I was little.

    The best to you and Joe in this coming year! I know it will be a good one! Looking forward to reading your posts and traveling with you guys on your trips to wherever. Always a fun thing to do.

    Happy New Year!
    Carol M

    • sbranch says:

      The cardinals stay right here and are a bright spot of color in an otherwise fairly colorless season. They look very good in the snow! I’ll have to put up some pictures of them. Yes, the miracles of modern medicine sometimes really ARE miracles! xoxo

  80. This is a good beginning of the new year Susan; a long post! Keep them up in 2015 please!
    I was thinking about your cat Jack. He obviously wants to go outside but I understand you find it to dangerous for him. Why don’t you ask Joe to make an outside coop for him? Or I saw something interesting on pinterest as well what could work. In the picture there was a tunnel made out of chicken wire so the chicken could go through the garden in that tunnel. That would also be an idea for Jack. Decorate it with plants along the side and it looks pretty. And your Joe seems to be a very handy man and you like to watch him work, so happy you and happy cat! ( I don’t know about happy Joe…….)
    Petra from The Netherlands

    • sbranch says:

      I think the only way I could get Jack to go in it would be if I went with him and took a handful of ponytail bands . . . he’s a kitty of habit! I’ll check it out!

  81. Cyndee Randall says:

    Oh, what a lovely review of the year. Counting my blessings, too. Downton Abbey just for me to celebrate my birthday. Thank you, PBS! Thinking about taking down the Christmas decorations, but I so love the glow and the tree lights in places where there would other wise be no light on a long, dark winter night. Maybe tomorrow? No, not until Jan 6th and Epiphany at the very least. Happy New Year and salutations to Joe, Girl, and Jack.

  82. Ann says:

    Happy New Year everyone! I loved reliving 2014 with you Susan. It was a wonderful year.

  83. Bernie says:

    Many blessings in the New Year! I love your posts. By the way, I plan on winning the HGTV Dream Home, so we’ll be neighbors….I’ll invite you over for tea, (or wine) !… My youngest, Florida-born and raised son, is moving to Rhode Island for a new job, in a few weeks. Just how far is it from Martha’s Vineyard to Newport?

    • sbranch says:

      Not far, 45 minutes by ferry and then another hour and a half by car. You can just pop over! 🙂

  84. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    One more thing- in Dec I flew to AZ and went to the Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix with my daughter and 7 year old granddaughter. Everyone in their holiday best (I loved being sparkly), beautiful little girls in party frocks frolicking about, high tea with champagne amid gorgeous Christmas decorations. Heaven! We are separated at Christmas because of my husband’s condition,etc, but the holiday tea with my darling girls was the shining star on the Christmas tree, and proof there is a Santa Claus. Tradition is wonderful, and it’s never too late to create new ones!

    • sbranch says:

      A wonderful story, something none of you will ever forget!

      • Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

        Loved putting up my new SB calendar, a gift from a girlfriend who came to tea. Thank you for your always wonderful art and inspirational words. And thank you for the reminder to meditate! Such a beneficial practice that I too often neglect. Your presence and influence in our lives is such a gift.

  85. Janet says:

    What a perfect way to start 2015 – a new blog entry by my favorite Susan Branch. Lovely sentiments and memories – so cheery and positive and everything home and important. You give me hope and validate my love of kitchen, cooking, kitties, friends, family, good food and friendship – flowers and birds and wildlife, well everything. Thanks for being you and sharing your gift(s) with all of us.

  86. Jackie Cavitt says:

    Thanks for taking us on a “re-cap” of your year…made me starting remembering things from ours, too. Just know how very much we all enjoy you and your work, Susan, and appreciate you!! Looking forward to spending 2015 with you and Joe! Thanks for being “you”!!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Jackie, I have lots of reasons to feel lucky, and you Girlfriends are a big part of it.

  87. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    I have not made a comment in a long time. But, well, this post of yours, Susan, was so very lovely. each little gem from the last year as a precious memory! you are so fortunate you have Joe, and your parents, and your gorgeous old historic home with all of it’s charm, and your talents and your loving spirit of fresh air! it’s always so soothing to read what you write. you are inspirational and calming (that’s a contradiction perhaps, but not!). Thank you for being you! (can’t wait for Downton Abbey to begin again). xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Barbara . . . no life is one hundred percent perfect, but so much is so good, it’s hard not to be one hundred percent grateful! We’ll have fun with Downton!

  88. Amylisa says:

    It is great to find this New Year’s post today! Love it love it! Thanks Susan! Happy 2015!

  89. Kate says:

    Susan, reading your blog is like opening a big, wonderful present. I hope you know just how happy you make so many people with your uplifting outlook on life. I still think we are kindred spirits and I would love to meet you one day.

  90. Monique says:

    I love this post..Happy New Year..
    I saw the lamb you showed me how to make..lucky you are to have both your parents..
    A stroke of real luck

  91. Shirley Poe says:

    Susan, I have two kitties and would never allow them to run free outdoors (and I live in the country) and they are very contented kitties. The life expectancy and health are so much better with indoor kitties. Pepper was the last kitty I had before Star and Kitty (my present kitties) and she lived a healthy life until she was 21. Meggie is my Pembroke Corgi and she is allowed to run free but only if I’m outdoors with her. I am a healthy 79 and I feel I must stay healthy to take care of my “girls”. I enjoyed your recap of 2014 and have been missing your blog. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  92. Leslie Freeman says:

    Oh what a delight! A pictorial re-run of your year was a great armchair tour from freezing Maine. You did a beautiful job (& Joe) with the photos. Looking forward to your next book. May have to re-read A Fine Romance to tide me over!

    Many thanks for being there for all of us. Your bring great fun, talent and beauty.
    Leslie in Maine

  93. Debbie says:

    Happy New Year to you & Joe! This post was so much fun to read and makes me look forward to everything new 2015 has to offer!

  94. I loved reading every single word and looking at every single photo!!!

  95. Jane Franks says:

    Wow! What a great post, Susan! Loved seeing your family and homes — both East and West! We’re with you there in all of it — especially the “Let’s Go!” and “Take life by the lapels for 2015”!! We are off to a great start! Just came back from Texas and visiting friends. Sold some prints! Friends on MV and Texas wanting to keep up with us and cheering us on! Still celebrating! Having neighbors in for Scones & Tea on Epiphany and then packing it all away! And new ideas in the thinking stages! I think it is going to be a terrific year!! Can’t wait to see what artistic treasures you come up with and thanks for sharing your inspirations all year long!! xo

  96. Jane Franks says:

    Oh, and Downton! We’re with you there! Been watching Season 4 to get in the mood! Can’t wait!!

  97. MaryAnne Denniston says:

    Be still my heart! Bless you for sharing and reminding us of how sweet life is. Happy New Year.

  98. kelly says:

    Happy New Year Susan!
    What a wonderful year to look back on and many blessings for the New Year! Hard to pick a favorite part of your blog but the Musica is the cherry on top! I could not get the Musica on the 2nd part of the New Years entry-what did you play?
    Opening up my Susan Branch 2015 Calendar!!

  99. Lucia says:

    Dear Susan,
    Happy New Year to you and Joe from Australia!
    It’s summertime here, and my husband and I are visiting our daughter and her fiancé in Sydney. Love, love your photos through 2014 and especially, the ones of your family.
    I look forward to your wonderful blog and book in the new year.
    Wishing you and Joe all the best in 2015!
    Lucy in California

  100. Heather L. says:

    Happy New Year!!!! Thank you so much for all the beauty and inspiration that you bring to us all year long!! It was so exciting to hang both your little calendar and the big one on January 1!!!! And one of the best things about 2015 is going to be reading your new book when it comes out!!! We all can’t wait!!! Thank you for spreading joy!

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