Singing at the Top of your Lungs

‘Morning Girls, here’s your MUSICA for today. ♥  This is a very good song for memorizing ~ it’s delightful for singing at the top of your lungs in a Smallville shower, nice while cleaning out cupboards, fun while driving in the car, even good if you have to be in bed to wait for your new knee to heal (or something like that).Sing it into the ear of a child, or your better half, and life gets really good.
winter on Martha's Vineyard
Speaking of Smallville; here is a little thing that will make your frozen mornings snow treea little less so. I have two pairs of these darling sexy shoes you see above,the most comfortable shoes in the world . . . this pair is in the kitchen in front of the heat vent getting warm, while the other is on my feet, slowly (but surely) chilling up. Soon I will exchange places with them and my cold feet, as they slip into the deep warmth of freshly heated shoes, will purr the immortal words: Ooo La Wee.
little things
winter dressing for new england
hearts and flowers
Some variation of these two old cashmere sweaters and that brown shawl are my daily outfit for working at my art table. Not pretty, but cozy ~ works perfectly in Smallville. I took the picture pointed at my lap (sucking in my tummy to protect the innocent).
small treats
As you know, I’ve been doing lots of painting for my 2016 calendars, but I took a little time out and did something just for fun I thought you might like to see.
Dapper Paul Lucas
This is Paul Lucas, he is the darling husband of my good friend Rachel. It’s his birthday at the end of the month. And it’s a big one.
Paul, Rachel and Joe
That’s Paul on the left, Ray in the middle,(we’re in Maine) and who’s that other guy in the picture with the beret? Oh, yeah, that’s Joe!
Some of you know Ray from Twitter, some know her from Sugar Moon Brownies, and others from her own Blog (she’s more famous every day, another hardworking girl in Smallville) . . . and,
Ray and Pauls
Here’s where they live. You might recognize it because I wrote about Ray and Paul in A FINE ROMANCE; they are English and live in England and part of the reason we went over was to see them. You might remember that wonderful recipe for Ray’s amazing Lemon Butter Cookies on P. 139 of A FINE ROMANCE? (One of our Girlfriends made the cookie HERE in her Blog, in case you don’t have the book but need the recipe!)
hearts and flowers
Paul and Will
This is Paul with Ray’s darling nephew Will. Paul is doing a one-of-a-kind birthday cello recital for Ray’s mum on her sun porch. See? he’s wonderful.
Just ask the love of their lives . . . this is Ray’s and Paul’s “dog” Alice. I use the word “dog” only because I know Alice doesn’t look at blogs.
Alice's collar
Her collar says it all.
dapper paul with mustache
You may have noticed that Paul is the picture of sartorial splendor, he always looks darling. As you know if you read A Fine Romance, he sometimes wears an ascot. He’s one of a kind. I love his new beard and mustache.
It’s men like this that give me hope for the world. (He’s in my pantry ironing his pants a couple of Christmases ago.) So I decided I wanted, even though I’m much too far away to do him total birthday justice, to help him and Rachel
So I decided to paint him in all his dapper charmingness, or at least as much as I could muster onto a flat piece of paper. Including the dog pin on his lapel and the brilliant scarlet handkerchief in his pocket.
painting paul
The colors in that photo of him made it easy to make the decision ~ I had fun painting every single stripe, plaid and eye sparkle.
If you do it with heart
paint water
I’m almost done!
signing my art
I added a few descriptive words, put on a little border, watercolored his name and then signed it. Paul is funny with words: instead of Vineyard Haven, he calls where we live “the Haven” (no one calls it that); and instead of Martha’s Vineyard which many people shorten to “The Vineyard,” not Paul, he calls it “Martha’s.” He calls Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, “Kimmie.” And now, so do we and all our friends do too. It’s catching . . . if you like Kimmie, you’ll probably call it that from now on too. It will go viral!
Witty, Talented and Cute. Oh yes, and he raises bees in their garden.
for Paul
So, while Joe reglued an old frame we had lying around Smallville, taking out all the teeny nails and framing it for me . . . I wrote a card, and went looking through my sticker collection for something Birthday-like to put on the cupcakeenvelope. My eye landed on a three-dimensional pink polka-dot birthday hat, with a real, red-yarn pompom on top (no longer being made if you can imagine that sad state of affairs) I tried it on Paul. It fit perfectly. So him.
Paul's Birthday
So I left it there, stuck to the outside of the glass, thinking it was kind of the cat’s meow. Joe wrapped it up in 3 lbs of bubble wrap and it’s on the way to England even as we speak.
birthday party
So that’s what makes Smallville special, we’re in charge around here. We make our own fun.
fun is good
susan branch address books
And speaking of fun . . . it’s your turn! You know I can never just come out and announce the winner of a Giveaway. Oh no, must drag out the suspense like my dad used to do at Christmas, thereby almost doing his children in with the hysteria of the thought of what Santa might bring them!!! Unbearable! Hope I can do the same for you. (No, I know ~ it’s not quite the same thing!)
Kate HudsonOK, anyway, Vanna, unlike her usual self (usually she sleeps in late, resting up because of the many Euro Trash parties she loves to attend), is actually already UP, and dressed and ready for her big moment. She wafts by me in the palest whisp of Chanel #5, wearing a gown that looks suspiciously JUST LIKE the one that Kate Hudson wore at the Golden Globes, (Vanna has no idea how she freaks out the people who live in Smallville. But her joie de vivre is so compelling I can’t bring myself to put a damper on her. I just let her do what she needs to do and get her out of here before Joe gets up!)
Our Vanna is named for Vanna White, the most well-known Game Girl of our times. Our virtual Vanna is a professional when it comes to pink shoedrawing the winning name from a huge vat of names. Nobody does it better. She’s the double-oh-seven of the Game Girl world and we are proud to call her our own. This is one of her bedroom slippers.
And so. While I was writing about her, she was busy digging deep into the well with all your names ~ she actually dives in, a graceful high dive (especially in that dress), and swims through them to mix them up, she’s like the Little Mermaid that way, a little silver fish. And she just popped up with teeny piece of paper. Let me get my glasses . . .
Ohhhh, how wonderful! Here goes: The winner is . . . drum roll please . . .
J A N    H A M M O N D !!!
Congratulations Jan!
You are our LUCKY Winner! Please look for an email in your box, write me back and send me your home address so I can pop your books in the mail to you. I hope the new books help organize you and Gale (in her comment, Jan mentioned that if she won, she’d give the other book to her girlfriend Gale).
william morris quote
But that’s not all, there’s more . . . first of all, here comes Valentine’s Day, and Janie made us some adorable new banners! I wanted to let you know before they’re all gone . . . Kellee snuck them into the store last week and they’re already flying out.
little things
Janie's heart banners
valentine envelopes
Janie always makes the cutest envelopes to go with the banners ~ these little banners make the perfect Valentine’s gifts.
sense of beauty; susan branch art
hearts and flowers
swedish hearts
Janie made these Swedish hearts for us too, they come in both white and red and in darling envelopes of their own.
hearts and flowers Sooooo, I hope everyone is feeling festive and organized and no one is too disappointed ~ the hardest thing I do is announce a winner! But I really wanted to thank you for the lovely, wonderful comments you left on the last post. You are an amazing bunch of Girlfriends!
I feel like we’re on some sort of roll, I hate to see it come to an end, so, because it’s almost Valentine’s Day, I thought . . . maybe . . . we should . . .
heart teapot
have another. . .
another what? ~ another what? . . . another cup of tea?
La-dee-da . . . la-dee-da
tea time
heart teapot
GIVEAWAY!! After all, winter is long, and the secret of a happy life is continuous small treats, right? . . . and a tea pot really isn’t very big . . .just the perfect size for Smallville.
pink flowers
A Fine Romance
Remember, you saw that teapot in A Fine Romance?
heart teapot
I’ve had mine for a long time ~ remember how well it mixes with my mismatched dishes?
hearts and flowers
breakfast valentine's party
And how cute it looked at our Valentine’s Breakfast party with the Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz dishes? I think you would love having one as much as I do.
Private blend lavender tea
And there’s even more, it’s a really BIG Giveaway! Because I thought it would be nice to include this ~ a tin of our own private label Earl Grey tea with Lavender and Rose Petals. Yum!
Oh yes! And one more thing, since it’s Valentine’s Day we’re talking about . . .
Isn't it romantic
isn't it romantic
I thought, even though most of you already have it, A FINE ROMANCE would make a good Valentine’s present because handyou could give it away to someone you love. And if you don’t already have the book, if your name is drawn, you would now have access to the recipe for Rachel’s Lemon Butter Cookies. It’s a win-win! And I hope you do! Win, I mean. My way of saying Thank You!
hearts and flowers
Sasha is A Fine Romance
Kitties love it too.And vice versa.
3hearts  So, we’re going to have another drawing ~ after all we don’t want that silver manicure of Vanna’s to go to waste, teacup flowersand she adores Valentines Day more than any other . . . so, to sum up: if you left a comment on the post below for the Internet Address Books, you are already entered for the teapot, book and tea! But if not, leave a comment at the bottom of this post and tell your mom, your sister, your grammie, your BFF, your great-aunt Mary, your Twitter friends, Pinterest Peeps, and Facebook pals to come on over and enter too.
pink roseThe prizes: one of our dear Girlfriends is going to get a 4-cup, Emma Bridgewater Heart Teapot, my “Come Sit Stay” tea tin with delicious Lavender and Rose Petal Earl Grey Tea, AND a signed copy of A FINE ROMANCE.
(And you think YOU’RE having fun! HA! When people talk about “the power of the Internet” I think this is what they mean! At least here in Smallville.)
Rubbing hands together in attack of pathological enthusiasm.
girl with hearts
And P.S. if just thinking about this inspires you to envision having a Valentine’s Tea Party, the first thing you will need are invitations . . . so here you go! girlfriendsClick there and you can print out as many as you need on card stock or heavy paper (one of our girlfriends said she used a cut-down manila envelope and it worked perfectly! Probably an interesting color too, quite creative!) ~ candlelightinvite your best girlfriends, your sisters, your mom, your best guy, or someone who simply needs an airing (as Joe would say, usually about me when I’ve been in the house too long), and celebrate as we do so well here in Smallville. Make Rachel’s cookies and some cucumber sandwiches, light the fire and a candle or two, talk, talk, talk, solve all the world’s problems, hash over Downton Abbey, and watch the cold and snow fade away to nothing.
hearts and flowers
Ah yes, here’s Nature’s Valentine, out on our feeders . . . making the world more adorable one little birdie at a time.
The little things in life SB
Love you Girlfriends, have a wonderful day!
Feed Your Creative Heart
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2,554 Responses to Singing at the Top of your Lungs

  1. Mimi Walters says:

    Have suffered Susan Branch withdrawal for way too long due to the I’ll -ness of my computer. You have been my breath of fresh air since “Heart of the Home” was first published. Thank you for sharing so generously.

  2. Lynette says:

    I want to be just like you when I grow up!!! I’m feverishly trying to get to Martha’s Vineyard to live out my dream! One day soon it will happen!

  3. Judy Wooley says:

    What a great blog you have and it brings so much sunshine into the hearts of others. I always kept your Christmas journal and wish you would design a new one. Thanks so much for all you do Judy

  4. Juli says:

    Darling, oh so darling! That’s you and everything you do! We love and adore you SB so much and appreciate all your endless communication, art, pictures and stories and the visual trips just to name a few of the things we love about you!! From the bottom of my

  5. Kathleen says:

    Oooooo–how exciting! LOVE the Teapot!! Thanks for the drawing.

  6. Lisa Muncy says:

    Be still, my heart!!!! It beats faster. . .so excited. . .because of your kindness and generosity!!! To have tea and lemon cookies? Serving your mouth-watering blend from that lovely tea tin, pouring from that irreplaceable teapot?? Tasting those delightful lemon cookies for the first time? Oh, yes, let’s set this up and be all ready to “play” English just in time for next week’s Downton Abbey episode!!!!!!! LOVE!!! XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXOXOX

  7. June says:

    Have almost all of your calendars and books, yet your blog never fails to brighten my day and inspire me! Absolutely loved a Fine Romance! Thank you for sharing so much from the heart of your home and all your talent. You are a gift!

  8. Helen Fite says:

    Love your blog!
    Happy New Year!!


  9. Andrea Taylor says:

    I love, love, love your stuff. Been with you from the early 90’s. Can’t wait for your next book signing in the central coast ( California). And all the new stuff you come out with!

  10. Barbara Riley says:

    Just read this book and loved it. Would love to be a winner!

  11. Debbie Toth says:

    I love the Emma Hearts Tea Pot and all that goes with it. It would cheer up anybody that was lucky enough to win it! Thanks for all you do Susan Branch! And thanks for sharing your life, friends, family with us-it sounds so wonderful & comfy and gives us all a feel good moment in our daily lives. –Debbie

  12. Joy says:

    Love warm Merrells, love Paul~my daughters just bought tickets for 3 weeks in New Castle this summer!~ love the teapot and anything Emma Bridgewater….

    Could you repost (or re write) the post on oiling your wooden untensiles please? I have a need and I remember you doing something like that a few years ago…..

    Thanks for considering it!

  13. Judy C says:

    Love to read your blog, its always so fun and inspiring! Love to have the teapot to add to my collection.

  14. alana says:

    this little tea pot would be perfect for our “tea ladies” get togethers. We would cherish it, as it came from the heart of your home.

  15. Brenda Martin says:

    Hi Susan, I love your style. You and I could be sisters. Thank you for your generosity. Love the teapot…

  16. Teri Pierce says:

    Love that teapot! Probably too late for the drawing, but just wanted to let you know how much i enjoy your blog

  17. Carmen from Southern Oregon says:

    My sister-of-the-heart, Susan, (amazing how well used that delightful name is…hee hee) she really needs that darling tea pot when we sit to share that “spot of tea” as we hash out the goings on in our lives aong with much giggling, rolling of eyes at our hubbies and beaming pridefully at our grandchildren (’cause they are perfect…doncha know?). Nothing like a hot cup of tea on a cold overcast day with some yummy lemon cookies and a wicked game of Dominos! Thank you Susan Branch…gotta go find that lemon cookie recipe!

  18. June Fisher says:

    Hi Susan,
    As usual an uplifting and fun blog to lift all of us UP!
    I usually just mention that a giveaway is appealing, admired or “wouldn’t it be nice…” This time though, I mean to tell you that I love, want, need that teapot and if I don’t win, I will buy it and have a tea party on St. Valentine’s day. So either way, it’s done but if I win and get that teapot, your lovely tea and another copy of A Fine Romance to gift someone, oh, happy day at my house!!!
    Your doting admirer,

  19. Sheree says:

    What an awesome give-a-way! I’m so enamored with all things Susan Branch 🙂

  20. Minette says:

    It has been a while since I have posted but have kept up with your blogs and wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed your blog these last few months, especially of your travels and the holidays. I loved the painting you did of your friend Paul and know it will be greatly treasured. Reading your blogs makes everyday seem like a holiday!

  21. Twila says:

    A Heart Teapot?! Yes! 🙂

  22. Susan Meacham says:

    This is an exciting give-away! I love all of these beautiful things!

  23. Jennifer Blevins says:

    Your blog is enchanting, and your giveaways are magical! Thank you for keeping us all on the edge of our seats for new books, new giveaways and new blog entries. I live on Martha’s Vineyard through the reading of your blog (I’m really in central California). It is my dream to visit the Vineyard one day. Thank you for sharing your world!

  24. Leigh Ulicny says:

    I so would love to win this book!!!! If not, I will put it on my Valentine wish list. I love everything you do!

  25. Joy Lowe says:

    I purchased A Fine Romance for my Mom as a love gift for her 80th birthday this fall in Joplin, Missouri (where I grew up), I live in Denver, Co. We’ve been longtime SB lovers-have every cookbook, calendars, banners, notepads…we can’t get enough of you & we’d been so excited for the books debut! I also purchased one for myself to savor over the holidays on those cold winter nights or snowy weekend afternoons. Little did I know Susan, how much your book(s) would mean to BOTH of us as my dear 88 yr. old father passed away suddenly the Monday before Thanksgiving. It’s been a holiday season of ups & downs to say the least, but your beautiful, dreamy, happy, romantic book has carried us both through these past few weeks. In fact, my Mom had yours at the hospital in his room and my sister even picked it up to pass the time one looooong afternoon as we were waiting on test results & commented to me how wonderful it was and that she fantasized about taking off with her husband for a month and traveling there like you & Joe. She’s an artist as well and we are a family of 5 girls-we ALL
    admire you in so many ways and can relate to your family stories. I read only a few pages a night because I don’t want to finish it 🙁 It takes me away and I can relive your steps. When you went to Beatrix Potter’s house, my heart was pounding in anticipation of your vivid “details to come!” I’ve been an elementary school teacher for 37 yrs and have loved Peter Rabbit since childhood. I loved every word, every description, the secret path…all of it! I’m also a Tasha Tudor lover and you have carried on her tradition of preserving what’s special in life. Her Buttry Shelf Cookbook sits propped next to all of yours and was my “go to” read 4-6 times a year until you published Heart of the Home. Honest truth! I can’t tell you how much A Fine Romance has been a comfort for my Mom-as they were married for 62 yrs. and were true romantics-one of those couples from the 1950’s like your parents that you see in the movies. Thank you for all the joy you bring to us with your words, paintings, photographs, recipes, wonderful quotes, old songs & movies and keeping holidays, family & traditions the way we all remember and want to preserve. You truly make this world a happier place and keep the HEART in the Home-where it should be!!!
    With Love & Admiration~Joy Lowe XOXO

    • sbranch says:

      Tears in my eyes for your family, Joy . . . and your mom, please give her a hug for me . . . and all your sisters too. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me a small part of your family. That is my very favorite thing of everything I do. Thank you for your years of spreading your goodness to the children you’ve taught, they were lucky to have you. XOXO

  26. Joy Lowe says:

    One more thing-your artwork is incredible!! So fun, so happy, so full of color and delight. You can make anything come off a page-from red cardinals, to bunnies to Santa Claus, Valentines and cupcakes…I LOVE your work…ALL of it! I would love for you to publish a book of seasons & holidays with all your artwork-it would be fabulous! For someone who didn’t start painting until their adulthood-your amazing use of color, whimsy & details are jaw-dropping. I study every part of your calendar pages and read every quote, gaze in your cookbooks and reread all your recipes as I look at every detail of your borders and holiday drawings. I a never want to miss a thing! Love, love, love your unique, artistic style girlfriend 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Well, that was so NICE!! Eek! Thank you Joy!!! I have to say, I’m always amazed at what comes out, and say to myself, where did that come from? I’m as surprised as ever. xoxo

  27. Gina Miller says:

    I Love Tea as much as Susan’s British friends, and I’m absolutely positively certain that tea tastes best in a teapot dotted with lovely little hearts! I heart Susan Branch. Thank you for sharing your incredible gifts and talents with us, Ms. Branch.
    P.S. My self-given nickname is Betty! I think it goes well with a book loving, tea drinking baker such as myself. 🙂

  28. Naomi Chandler says:

    Gave “A Fine Romance” to my girlfriend for Christmas. She loves it! I knew it would be the perfect thing for her. We love to go for lunch at a mother-daughter little restaurant called Elegance of the Seasons and eat their homemade wonderful meat pies or salads or sandwiches that they come up with each day and then have dessert and chat over tea, of course!

  29. Gail Golden says:

    What a lovely give-away. I would love to win, especially the book. Your art and writing are a great joy to me.

  30. Susan Webb says:

    Hi Susan,

    Love your blog! What a special teapot to share with someone on Valentine’s Day.


  31. Pam says:

    I love to read your blog, cheers me up on a somber winter day here in the midwest where I needed to attend a girlfriends funeral today. She was too young to go at 44 but any girlfriend at any age is too young to go. Thank you so much for the smiles!

  32. Louise says:

    What a lovely prize for someone to win! Very generous, thank you.

  33. Karen Stefanelli says:

    Hi Susan,

    What a delightful teapot! I too am a tea lover and what a wonderful little bit of English charm this will bring to a lucky girlfriend. I just want to share with you …how much my family and friends are enjoying your books! Looking forward to more to come!

  34. Kathie says:

    Well I have always loved that little teapot and have begun to buy teapots when I see ones I love. But maybe I can win one and the Earl Grey tea to go in it because I love rose petals and……yum. Yes, a Valentine’s Party with yummy minced meat tarts, chocolates and tiny meringues. Yes. I’m making my invitations list because I just have to win this……I do. But, if not, someday, I’m going to buy that teapot. It’s my favorite…..thanks for the chance! Here’s my email in case it looks like I’m anti-social. I’m not really but I cannot get Google to make me look like I am (social, that is). prairiestitcher at centurytel dot net AKA Kathie in Odessa, where it’s 34 degrees and very foggy.

  35. Linda in Texas says:

    2495 posts…Oh well, what’s one more?

    You really are amazing, Susan Branch, with your gift for generosity. Just seeing that teapot with all the hearts warms mine (heart, I mean). Thank you in advance for whoever the lucky winner is.

    Happy Winter.
    Linda in Texas

  36. Mary says:

    God bless you & your family Susan- your drawings and poems are so cheerful they make me feel like I am sitting by a fire with a cup of hot tea 🙂 – Mary

  37. JC says:

    Oh Vanna – please pick meeee!! Susan, I would enjoy receiving this crazy wonderful, lovely give-away ALMOST as much as you will GIVING it! Thanks for your sharing heart. I’m also gleeful when I find (or make) and give gifts that I think the receiver will love. It’s fun & rewarding! Take care, dear heart.

  38. Laura Abel says:

    I love your blog! and the teapot! Thanks for doing the drawing!

  39. Sheila Lowe says:

    You inspire me!!! Well, sorta… I’d really rather just sit and drool over your artwork and writings all day long. 🙂

  40. Kathy Reynolds says:

    Tea makes the world go ’round! I love your book and I love your tea. Thanks so much for such an inspiring blog.

  41. April Anderson says:

    Watercolor is my favorite type of art, and I’ve been enjoying yours for many years. Thank you for a chance to have a teapot just like the one you use. If I am so fortunate as to win it, I’ll give it to my daughter – she was born on Valentine’s Day.

  42. Diana Carthel says:

    I just found your blog today and am sooooo excited! I remember first seeing your artwork many years ago and have always loved your work. I love your blog!

  43. Libby Nash says:

    I love everything Susan Branch! Your book was such a dream, would LOVE to retrace your trip sometime. I too collect Beatrix Potter figurines! This gal in “fly over country” really appreciates your blog and web page – thanks!!

  44. Denise says:

    Thank you, Susan, for your light heartedness…always perks me up! I have learned much from reading your books and blog, and very much enjoy your painting and photographs. Thank you for introducing me to Gladys Taber and other bloggers I have discovered through your inspiration list. I especially want to thank you for sharing your journeys, making us all “armchair travelers.” Denise

  45. Pingback: 8 cool things on a tuesday (including giveaway winners!) | Jama's Alphabet Soup

  46. I would like to win the tea pot for a dear friend of mine crystal welsh she loves tea pots .thank you

  47. I also like to win the teapot for my friend crystal welsh. She would love it so much

  48. Luna Park says:

    What a lovely give-away. I would love to win, especially the book. Your art and writing are a great joy to me.

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