The Kitchen Garden Book Winner

Well, sorry Girls, I have bad news: I just read that this wonderful little Kitchen Garden book is now going for $900.00 on Amazon ~ I think I Kitchen Gardenshave to keep it.

HAHAHAHA April Fools! (I’m not keeping it, but the $900 is, unfortunately, not a joke!) MUSICA . . . 

Vanna, (our “almost real” “random number generator”) as many of you know, is Irish to the tips of her little green-polished toes (this is the “almost real part.”) She went out last night, didn’t get in until after dawn (faith and begorrah, Girlfriend!), so we will go forth without her and save our drawing for last. This way everyone stays a winner for another ten minutes!  Yay!

pink flowers


For lots of us, Spring arrives on the inside our houses MUCH sooner than it does on the outside.  Our sanity requires we look beyond reality to a better world, a future world. Intrepid pioneers of the seasons that we are, we forge on, strengthened by our three sweaters and two pairs of socks.

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Despite the way it looks outside my kitchen door . . .



Inside, it looks like this.



You know I love to decorate the shelf on top of my stove, it’s my first go-to place to mess with when the seasons change.


the stove

I change it every season, never with an actual plan, just whatever is hanging around that says “spring” and “cheerfulness” to me, I grab it and put it on top of the stove

spring bunny

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This was one of the perkier entries in my stovetop hall of fame.


springThis was last year . . . lambs R Us.

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stove top

Here’s this year’s version, seem to be leaning a bit more “bunny.”

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I don’t usually stop with the stove . . .


I made the fireplace mantle ready for a spring tea party



I decorated with lambs and bunnies and sheep . . .

pink rose


More sheep more bunnies. . .

daffodilsbaby boy The tea party was small because it was a Baby Snuggle for one of my girlfriends (Margot) whose daughter Scarlett just had her first child . . . a darling three-week-old 8½ pound girl named Georgette .  (I’m still waiting for permission to put a photo of Georgie on the blog, but not holding my breath, not everyone “believes” in blogs. I can only tell you this:  Margot is magic: she gave birth to an elf, which would be Scarlett, and Scarlett, in turn, has given the world a gnome.)  There were six of us, baby shoewe’d all known Scarlet since she was born, so we were the lucky ones to have our own private viewing and cooing party.I can’t tell you how adorable this child was, head bouncing with big wide eyes looking right at you, a rosebud mouth with little pink tongue.  Fingers that went in all directions.   

pink flowers

lamb cake

I almost made a Lamb Cake.  But I decided to save it for Easter.  which is just around the corner . . . so, just in case, here’s the RECIPE for YOU.

Easter chick

Tea Party

Here’s our tea party. You can just make out the gnome legs in the very left of this photo, wrapped in red wool with white stripes. The rest of her was even cuter.


Milk CakeAnd we had milk-milk-milk Cake . . . bathed in more milk.

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Milk CakeAnd here’s the RECIPE for that, just in case you’re a new kid on the block and haven’t had a chance to try this luscious old-fashioned thing.


For tea, the girls had a choice of this, or . . . 

my own tea blend

. . .this.  Can you smell the bergamot, the lavender and rose petals . . . they took this.


I do hear Vanna stirring, have faith Girlfriends.  She came in after I got up, so she needs her beauty sleep bad.  In the meantime . . .

Kitchen GardensAs you know, this $900 book 🙂 is illustrated by Tasha Tudor . . . (although I do have to say, the author is wonderful, Mary Mason Campbell fits Tasha Tudor’s work to a Tee).

Kitchen gardens

Some of the drawings are in color. . .

Tasha Tudor Illustrations

But there are also lots of black and white line drawings . . .

Tasha Tudor

Like this one . . . when I see something like this, I always think “wouldn’t that be fun to color in?”

Feed Your Creative Heart

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Tasha Tudor illustration

Or this one . . .?


Tasha Tudor

Or this . . . the little pots, the shirt, the hat, fun, right?


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Vintage line drawing

There are many wonderful line drawings in vintage books . . . Like this one in The Twin Lambs, illustrated by Marjorie Flack.

Christmas Book

And this one, illustrated by Lois Lenski from Once on Christmas . . . (I’m thinking green dress, red hair, yellow book)

susan branch starry light border

Beatrix Potter

And this one, a print of one of the original children’s letters by Beatrix Potter from one of my favorites, The Tale of Beatrix Potter by Margaret Lane.



I play coloring book sometimes with line drawings like these ~ and whoever wins the Kitchen Gardens book, or for any of you who’ve maybe wanted to give it a try in one of your own vintage books ~ it’s a fun way to learn a little about watercoloring while being perfectly thrilled with the outcome of your first try.  

See that   Now see that . . .↓ 

Beatrix Potter

I watercolored this one and got to feel a little bit Potterish while I did it. Speaking of that, I got my Beatrix Potter online Newsletter today; it’s called Pottering About, Here’s a link if you’d like to see it, or get it automatically sent to your email box.


Beatrix potter

Its hard to stop! The littlest palest color makes such a difference.  (Course dried flowers help too.)


The Live Dolls

This is the one that got me started . . . many years ago I found these pages in an antique store.  It used to be a book, but the cover and the binding were gone ~ what was left was a few pages,  all line drawings, and all in black and white. Until they came home to my house.


The Live Dolls

I had a wonderful time painting these.  If you ever enjoyed coloring books, I think you would like this!



The pages came from a book that was published in 1901 called The Story of Live Dolls.  The author is Josephine Scribner Gates. On the title page it says:

The Story of the Live Dolls

Being an account of how, on a certain June morning, all of the Dolls in the Village of Cloverdale Came Alive.

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It’s a charming fairytale about girls and their dolls.


The drawings were done by Mabel Rogers.  I love her art, and was surprised to see nothing on Wikipedia about her, and really nothing for Google Images either.  But we’re remembering her . . .



Over a hundred years later. 

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The Live Dolls

I thought I would frame them and hang them all in a line around the top of the wainscoting in the guest bedroom.  Which I never did.  I still have them.



So you can see the before and after, this was the last page I painted, and I took photos while I did it:


You get to choose the colors . . .


The Live Dolls

And fill between the lines . . . and if you go outside?  Just part of the charm.



And use your three-haired brush to exacting perfection.

 OK Girls, I’ve held you prisoner long enough . . . Vanna has rallied, she came out just a few moments ago wearing a fish special deliverycostume.  (Don’t ask.)   It’s covered with shiny green scalloped scales, she is wearing three inch yellow patent leather slip-on heels, and a shiny yellow bathing cap.  She looks FABULOUS.   She is almost ready to do her famous high dive into the vat with our almost 3,000 Girlfriend’s names.  She will swim to the bottom as if she is a corkscrew, thereby mixing and twirling the little slips in a swirling mad vortex. She will then come streaming to the top, winning slip in hand, her work for today will be done.

Wish her luck.  Good Luck Vanna!

A r e   w e   r e a d y  ?

On your mark, get set:  You go girl!

bookShe’s down!  The green toes were the last things I saw . . . There’s swirling, more swirling, bits of paper flying through the air, I’m waiting, we’re waiting, still waiting . . . she’s coming, she’s coming . . . I see her, I see her ~ ~ I think . . . yes, I think, BOOM, she’s UP, she’s GOT one!!!!  

Please give it to me Vanna, take a bow, you may go back to bed with all our gratitude for a job well done. ♥  

It wouldn’t be the same without you Vanna.  Know that.

Sooooooo, let’s see, what does this say?

The winner of the Loovly little boook is

K A T H Y    T O W E R S

get-attachment.aspx thankyou Every one of you . . .get-attachment.aspx

Congratulations, Kathy!  This was a big one and you made it! Look for an email in your box, please send me your address, I’ll sign your little book and it will go off to you asap. 

And for everyone else . . . in a nutshell:

for the rest of us

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 LOOK, what we have to look forward too!

 Fun, Girlfriends, Thank you.  We have to keep meeting like this! XOXOXO

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394 Responses to The Kitchen Garden Book Winner

  1. Bobbie in Spokane says:

    Another great post! You have inspired this 71 yr old, making me feel so young at heart. You’ve brought on the creative side of me, brought smiles to my wrinkled face, made my heart warm and now I am going out to the storage shed to gather my Easter treasures to adorn my sunny home. Colored eggs, lambs and a very special porcelin bunny who reminds me of my very special grandson. Life is good because of you and people you bring to your table. Thank you!

  2. Jean D. says:

    Hi Susan,
    I was so intrigued with the recipe for the Hot Milk Cake that I made it last night. It is so easy and yummy – almost a cross between an Angle Food cake and Pound Cake, which as I type this sounds crazy! But truly, it has the lightness of an Angel Food cake but the taste of a Pound Cake.
    I didn’t have any cream, but put a dollop of whip cream with a couple of fresh strawberries on top – it was divine! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Glad you liked it Jean!

    • Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

      I make this on a regular basis – once you start to use those seeds from the vanilla beans you start adding them everywhere! frosting for cakes, occasionally into a smoothie – and if by some chance you have any of the milk sauce left over when the cake is gone…let me just say – coffee creamer deluxe! My husband described that sauce as melted ice cream and I think he’s right.

  3. Hello,
    Just what the Doctor ordered, a Spring Post! 🙂 Lovely indeed.
    I think I am going to make a lamb cake this year for Easter too. :-)) I just need to be brave and try it!!
    Think Spring

  4. Pam says:

    Congratulations to Kathy, a very lucky lady. I placed an order for this charming book (two weeks ago when the prices were sensible) with two separate suppliers here in the UK and they were both cancelled because they had run out of stock.
    Love your idea of colouring the illustrations, makes them very pretty.

  5. Paulette says:

    “The Live Dolls” is from a Better Homes and Gardens Story Book. My oldest sister has them (well, I have them but they are her’s). That became my favorite story from the day my sister read it to me. The book binding is worn and loved because that story is in it. Thank you for making me think of it!

  6. Lori Metschan says:

    I love, love, love this post! I wanted to go to the bottom to see who won the book, but had to read and savor each photo and everything about them. I love that small blue and white vase with the duck and wish I could find one. So adorable. I have my Janie banners up for spring and ordered the new ones too. I’ve become a Janie banner groupie! 🙂 Love you Susan…xoxo!!

  7. Kathy Phenix says:

    Oh, be still my heart. That’s what I said to myself when in the beginning of your blog you announced the winner is “Kathy”. I raced through the blog (went back and read it thoroughly later) and then it said Kathy Towers, not Kathy Phenix. Oh, the heartbreak! But that’s okay. I’ll keep trying. And congrats to Kathy Towers. Hope you enjoy your prize.
    Love all of the sheep and bunnies in your decorations. Wish there was more “Jack” in the one picture that I spied his ear. Maybe next time. Happy Spring! to all of the girlfriends.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s like having all the numbers in the lottery except that very last one! Eeeek! Hope for next time Kathy!

  8. Ruth thomas says:

    congrats to Kathy!!! Thanks to Susan for the spring decoration ideas. I have some little bunny egg holders on my window ledge in my kitchen and hoping for some warmer days.

  9. sandy says:

    Hi Susan! I didn’t enter this drawing, because I’m saving it to win something of yours, a book or ?? Hey, I found something I think you would realllly like. It’s a cool book-thing with 5 DVDs called Secrets of Iconic British Estates, got it from the library . The second one is all about Highclere, which you of course know well. Beautifully done, so interesting. One day closer to Spring!! xox sandy

  10. Kathy says:

    My heart skipped a beat when I saw the name “Kathy” as the winner — but it was the wrong last name! Phooey! Lost again. Well, I hope the other Kathy enjoys it. Happy Spring! Happy Easter.

  11. CarolK says:

    What a charming delight this blog was! I enjoyed every word and picture of it. It almost takes the sting out of not winning that fab book. Congratulations Kathy the lucky leprechaun was sitting on your shoulder when Vanna took her dive. We all have Spring to look forward to now. I hope its all daffodils and crocuses popping their heads up to make us smile.

  12. Lynn Cooper says:

    I love that you painted the pictures in those books. That’s the true artist in you, Susan.

  13. Janet G says:

    Congrats to Kathy! There is not much in this world that can beat a good sheep or bunny nic nac! My friend refers to those little treasures as “nic nac paddy wacks” :0)

  14. Jody says:

    Hooray for Kathy! But I still feel like I won a terrific prize! Permission to watercolor in my black & white illustrated books! What a fun idea!!!!! Thank you, Miss Susan! I was taught not to write or color in books, but now that I’m 52, I think I’ll break the rules.

    A friend of mine gave me a set of postcards that are meant to be colored with pencil or crayons or paint and sent. I’ve had the best time with those, but some of the pictures (mostly flowers) are very detailed. I think I’m going to have to color outside the lines in my old age too.

    Thank you again for the free gift, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      Have fun!

    • Linda says:

      Ohhhhhhh….whoa! I collect antique children’s books and you hopefully won’t ruin them!! Maybe photocopy them and then have fun painting? I know they are yours but only in this lifetime!! Linda from Idaho

      • sbranch says:

        “Ruin?” Not to jump to conclusions, but this is a gathering of thoughtful people, we can trust them not to ruin things. But your idea of photocopying the pages is a really good one.

  15. Jody says:


    I found this fun tool for wanna-be artists — a water pen. I love it.

  16. Amy J. says:

    Congratulations to Kathy! I was lucky enough to find the book at our local library. At least I can enjoy it for a bit. Happy Spring!

  17. carmel says:

    You’re right as usual, Sue. It is Spring inside more than outside. I love all of your cheerful photos – thanks so much. I have my lambs,bunnies and pretty Spring table cloth gracing my home. We have an unexpected (at least by me!) last blast of Winter tomorrow morning. Some snow expected. But Saturday will be 60 degrees! Winter has it’s place, but it will end by 6 pm Friday night and I’m waving good-bye with a happy “See you next year!” I love the idea of a “Baby Snuggle.” I always give my girlfriends who have a grandchild a gift for the baby. We have “sprinkles” here for moms that will have another child of a different sex. We went for it recently, showering our friend and colleague with girl things galore. Her daughter shouldn’t have to wear ALL her brother’s hand me downs, right? Any celebration is a joy. Speaking of joy, I wish you, Joe, kitties and of course all the girlfriends a joyous Spring!

  18. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan!!!…. oh my gosh! what a happy beautiful sunny blog today … and YAY! for our Girlfriend Kathy!!!!! That is just great Kathy! a treasure for sure!! It’s greetings from the Sunshine State today… we are on Spring Break, so we took a road trip and here we are in Sandestin, FL, along with every college kid in America!!! It’s lovely here now and we have a rather quiet condo down the beach from all of the SB hoopla..this is just what I needed to help me gear up for the last 8 weeks of school…I just loved everything in your post today… especially your springtime decor for the Baby Snuggle…and our trip through the Garden book was very special…now…when I get home, Here Comes Spring!!! ( at least on the inside of my house!!)…we are spoiled now though…78* here today… cold and rainy back home….gotta get ready though …Easter’s on the way !!! take care susan and bring on the flowers!!! love, cindy

  19. Jen Y says:

    I’m one of the few who did not sign up for this giveaway because I already have the book. It’s one of my favorites! I actually just found it in a thrift shop for a $1 right after Christmas & have so enjoyed the pictures & the words.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what I mean, if everyone has patience, there is a good chance they can spend less than $900! 🙂

  20. Sara S says:

    Oh my…that Hot Milk Cake… I am rereading A Fine Romance (because it’s Spring, and it just feels right!) and I finally decided to make that Hot Milk Cake yesterday! Let me just tell you I am kicking myself for not making it earlier. As a lover of all things vanilla, it is the PERFECT desert. Or breakfast. Or lunch. Since we already “violated” the original rules of simplicity by serving it on a pool of cream, I thought I might as well really kick up my heels and throw some strawberries in syrup on the side (insert maniacal laughter here). Oh. My. God. Does anyone else cry a little bit when they eat? Not everyday, of course…but for something reallllly special? This did it. Thank you, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for the maniacal laughter as first wake up treat in the morning! 🙂 Glad you liked the cake!

  21. Kirsten Anne Wichert says:

    I used to color in my books as a child. I was given quite a lecture about the care and respect for books. Now when I give books as gifts I always write a note to the recipient in the book. These books are not just respected, but truly loved! The world needs all the color we have to give! I just love the pages you painted and think they would look lovely in frames!

  22. Linda H says:

    My late mother-in-law made that Hot Milk Cake for my husband as his birthday when he was growing up. Still his favorite in the world. She made a “topping” for it by taking a sauce pan and adding 2 Tablespoons of butter, 5 Tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of shredded coconut and 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream. She would heat over a flame until it was warm and “melty”. She would then spread it over the warm cake and pop it under a hot broiler until it started to bubble. OH MY!! So delicious and still a family birthday favorite!

  23. Bev Brewer says:

    Pretty and sweet post, as they always are! I grew up with Raggedy Ann stories and also read them to my precious daughter years later. The dolls in Raggedy Ann also came to life at night and had many adventures and their little mistress, Marcella, took good care of them and they shared afternoon tea parties and other fun activities. The author, Johnny Gruelle, wrote them to cheer up his little daughter, Marcella, who was very ill. I had never heard of the Live Doll books, but they look delightful! Reminds me of a quote that ends with “Richer than I you will never be, for I had a mother who read to me.” It is part of a longer quote that I bet you are familiar with, Susan!

  24. Debra Baker says:

    cannot wait to try this watercoloring in my old book treasures!

  25. Amylisa says:

    Susan, I wanted to tell you….if you go to today (3/20) , they have a beautiful photo of bouncing, leaping lambs. Thought of you when I saw it!
    Happy Spring!

  26. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Happy first day of Spring!!! Your delightful bunnies and lambs and inside blossoms really shout Springtime!!!! Your Baby Snuggle Tea is an adorable idea! I’ve been enjoying your new spring computer wallpaper “Somebunny Loves You” and thank you very much for it! It makes me smile as we wait for more spring like weather here in Dearborn, Michigan. We can see the entire lawn, finally. But my daffodils are only three inch sprouts, not very hopeful I will be able to have my own on the Easter dinner table. But, really hoping the ice jams clear on the St. Clair River, so the ferry will be up and running to visit my dear old dad on Easter Sunday, on Harsen’s Island. (it’s sporadic this time of year) He told me he hasn’t had mail delivery for a day or so due to the ferry shut down due to ice flows. Do you have that problem at times with your ferry to Martha’s Vineyard come Springtime? Your coloring of old book pictures is also such a terrific idea!!! I still have my collection of 1960’s coloring books I had as a young child. Someday they will find a spot on a shelf to display in my “someday sewing room”. (Just waiting for 2 of our grown chicks to launch from the nest of our little bungalow someday!!!) CONGRATULATIONS to the lucky girl winner Kathy Towers!!! However, we are all winners Susan, because we have YOU and all of your author/artist talents to inspire us forever!!!!!!! Take care and have a wonderful weekend you, Joe and the two kitties!

  27. Cathy McC in Vermont says:

    So lovely as always. Thanks so much Susan for the Lois Lensky reference and illustration and and the vintage book pages. One of my favorite books in 6th grade (1960-61) was Prarie Girl by Lois Lensky. I read it over and over. I think I’ll go to the library and check it out again.
    Your post warmed me so much with the sweet tea party for the wonderful new baby. I guess I can try to get ready for Spring now with your inspiring decor.

  28. Cathy McC in Vermont says:

    Re: My previous message……I spelled Lenski wrong and after thinking about her and the book I loved so much was Prairie School. I can see the illustrated pictures so clearly. You always sharpen our memories and help us see further……

  29. Elaine in Toronto says:

    My friends went to an estate sale this morning and they found the sweetest little Beatrix Potter figurine for me. It’s “The Old Women Who Lived in a Shoe” and she is knitting. It was only $5.00. It was a lovely surprise on this first day of Spring. So keep looking for that gardening book, girlfriends. It’s out there and it has your name on it. Happy spring everyone.

    • Judy Young says:

      I was out “shopping” garage sales and different places today and found some Beatrix Potter figurines! They had about 12. I didn’t get them all! I want to try that milk cake of yours soon and I plan to use vanilla sugar for the 1 cup of sugar in the cake. I keep about 8 cups of sugar in a glass canister (has a tight-fitting top) and put vanilla beans in there. After a few weeks it turns into vanilla sugar and gives an extra special touch to baked goodies. Just looked at “A Fine Romance” and it’s like I haven’t read it (3 times already). It is such a beautiful book and I am a very proud owner. Perfect for a Spring read. Happy Spring everyone!

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

    I was happily clicking some of the other links on your beautiful blog and I hadn’t read your “In my studio” one in a long time and as I reread it I was reminded that you didn’t start painting until you were 30 and it was a gift certificate to an art store that opened up, well, your life. I couldn’t help but wonder who the giver was! Little did he or she know that it would change your life. Just curious! Happy spring to my favorite Martha’s Vineyard folk, the two-legged and the four-legged.

  31. Congratulations to your winner, Susan! You are honestly the best <3 Because of you, sweet lady, I have started drawing and I am having so much fun with it! If you get a chance, you'll have to look at my Instagram account…my user name is kayshay65

  32. Alice says:

    Read your blog yesterday just as I was banishing winter here in Rochester with a little Easter/Springtime. “Borrowed” your general idea and tucked a little stuffed chick atop some shredded ribbon and nested it into a child-size Beatrix Potter mug. How fun!! Thanks for the inspiration, Susan. ♥ Alice

    • sbranch says:

      It’s always the little things! 🙂

      • lin rader says:

        Hi Alice, I live in Rochester, Michigan. Could we be neighbors? I put a little chick in some shredded brown paper in a tiny bucket…great minds run in the same channel!

  33. Monique says:

    Sadly ..your last posts have ot landed in my INBOX:(
    Springy post..happy post..
    You do know some of your books are priced very high also..;)
    I have looked for resellers..of books I would love and they are really $$$$.
    I missed my chance..s.
    I did however..spring cleaning my craft room..come upon the original Susan Branch stencil set I bought to do 2 rooms in our home here..we will be here 14 yrs in Sept.And the words are still there.See how often we paint?
    I made your lamb last Easter and it got rave reviews.Thank you for the inspiration..s.

    • sbranch says:

      We price them depending on how much we have to pay for them, but we do our best to keep them within reason. Keep looking, you’ll find them at a price you like — one of our Girlfriends found the Tasha Tudor book for $1 in a yard sale! Happy spring cleaning!

  34. Cyndee Randall says:

    Susan! I actually have a copy of the “Live Dolls.” It is part of a Better Homes and Gardens collection of stories and I LOVED it as a little girl. I always felt bad for the dolls that had been neglected. What a lovely post. I may have to go dig out my watercolors and the book and go to work. HaPpY SpRiNg!

  35. Diane from Poulsbo says:

    Congratulations to Girlfriend, Kathy! 🙂 She will absolutely love that little book I am sure. Thank you Susan for being so generous and doing these fun giveaways. It is very sweet of you. I loved this happy blog with the pics. Smallville is alive and beautiful! There is nothing so satisfying than the day to day small things we all do to create a happy home for ourselves and/or family and/or friends…or even our little pets. I have always loved trying to create a home that is “homey” and you give such inspiring ideas and encouragement …and the pictures always help too. I loved the idea of the GF’s painting the black and white pictures in books! I never would have dreamed of that. XxxxxX

  36. Suzanne C. says:

    Susan, you out did yourself on this posting it was beautiful start to finish. Though I am soooo disappointed in not being the winner I guess there is always next time. Have a great first day of spring…it will be full of surprises I am sure. Love you both…..

  37. Suzanne C. says:

    P.S. Susan…if you have not read the book called “The Little Princesses” by Marion Crawford .She was Queen Elezabeth II’s governess….I too love anything Enhlish I found it spellbinding…highly recommend it.

  38. Margot~~~Virginia Beach says:

    I am sorry that you had a snow storm on the first day of Spring. I was wondering if there was a print of the house, then I saw that someone asked that already. My other question was…did you make it for the calendar, or did you paint it before you met Joe and then dug it out for the calendar??
    I have a different house print of yours. LOVE IT!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s funny you should ask, very perceptive. I painted something very much like it before I met Joe . . . then used the idea for a new painting I did for the calendar, which is what you see here. I’m a big idea recycler!

  39. Janet B. in PA says:

    Susan – I just love your blog photos so much! Have saved about 600 of them to my iPhoto and enjoy running a random slideshow for relaxation! Do you know about the historic photos and drawings of the Cape and Islands at Cape Cod Life on line – here’s the link – I think you’ll enjoy. I’m a Brewster girl in the summer.

    • sbranch says:

      Beautiful old photos! Joe has collected Martha’s Vineyard Postcards for years, we love to see how it looked way back when ~ nothing has changed too much . . . except no more muddy Main Streets!

  40. Susan Nieradka says:

    Wow! Was shocked to see the price of the Kitchen Gardens book. After your last give -away, I found one on Ebay and won my first try at bidding for $61.00. Thought it was kind of high at the time, but now I’m glad I got it! A beautiful book with great ideas and illustrations. I have almost all of your lovely books also. I’m now collecting copies for my daughter. Consignment shops have been great, especially for the out of print ones. The hunt is half the fun!

    • sbranch says:

      I so agree. I just won’t pay certain prices for certain things, and force myself to wait until I find them at a better price, and I always do.

  41. debra sewell says:

    Glad that drawing is done. So exciting. Kathy must be on clouds. Thank you for introducing us to that book. I never knew about it before. Now all of us can find and treasure a copy. Happy Spring. I live tjose little flower salt and pepper sets. You do encourage us to be better, happier and enjoy being in our homes and little cozy apts.

  42. Sue says:

    As always, Susan, your blog leap-starts my weekend, but this time it was like a cool drink of water after a long, hot, dusty hike! You’ve quenched my springtime/creative thurst. We’ve been getting enough drizzle and rain here in Houston that I’m beginning to feel like Jemima Puddleduck, but I’m ready to bring a DRY spring indoors thanks to your inspiration. Thanks for that boost — and I DO plan on playing with some old books and my watercolors. What a wonderful idea!

    Happy Spring!

  43. Beth L. says:

    Congrats to Kathy! A Spring Surprise for her! How FUN!

    And Susan, I have a GREAT idea!!!… to “hurry along” your much anticipated new book for US …and to relieve some of the workload for YOU!
    Leave some of your beautiful illustrations UNCOLORED with just the bold black outlines for US to *color in* like those in Beatrix Potter’s books with black and white drawings! Or maybe just one nice drawing at “the end” to color the last page “HAPPILY EVER AFTER!” A Springtime Scene!
    Wouldn’t we LOVE that, Girlfriends!???!

    • sbranch says:

      Great minds think alike, I’d already made a note to do that . . . as I do the art, I’ll see how it looks. I also thought I might do a coloring book someday . . .that would be so fun!

  44. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Thank-you for the hot milk cake recipe. It is an old southern favorite down here but I have not seen a recipe that makes up what it is supposed to look like until yours. So thank-you! That stuff is to die for on a hot day with ice tea and a bit of a breeze!!

    I also was fascinated by taking old black and white books and coloring them in yourself. What a cool idea! I always loved coloring books, especially the ones for Spring. All the lambs, flowers, Easter eggs!! One of my favorite treats was when either my Mom or my oldest sister would sit down and color with me in my new book. They inspired me to color and choose my colors carefully. I wanted to color my picture and have it turn out as pretty as theirs. Or maybe it was just having one of them all to myself for a few minutes in a very busy household? Did you ever take the time to color with your little sisters and show them how to be neat and make the pictures turn out beautiful??

    • sbranch says:

      Of course, we colored together, not so sure I was very instructive, we just all tried to stay inside those blasted lines!

  45. Elske Olijnsma says:

    Susan, I was very curious and checked out This is what I found: $4,112.10
    + $3.99 shipping
    Used – Like New

    Wisepenny Books

    That’s ridiculous 😉 Can you tell me why they offer this book at such prices? Happy Spring to you and I love your spring decorations!

    Greetings from the Netherlands, from Elske

    • sbranch says:

      Because they are greedy I guess. Seriously? $4,000? AND they charge shipping???? The nerve of some people’s children. xoxo

  46. Jules says:

    Wow, am I glad I already own a copy of Kitchen Gardens. I found it on Alibris a year or two ago for around $20. It’s a wonderful book and don’t think I’d sell it even for $900.

  47. Christie says:

    Speaking of your books, this morning I am reading through several (The Summer Book, Autumn, and Vineyard Seasons), and have discovered that the CD I’m playing now is a very nice Musica background for reading Susan Branch books ~ it’s the original music score for the television presentation of Anne of Green Gables composed by Hagood Hardy. I want to tell you, Susan, I have loved rediscovering the great music you find and share as the Musica for your blogs. So many of those songs were the musical score of my childhood in the 1950s and of course hearing them again takes me on a little visit back to there and then. Thank you for that, too!

  48. Care Kester says:

    First, I feel so very lucky to have gotten a copy of “Kitchen Gardens” for $30 at a little antique store in Oakland, MD four years ago. I thought it would be an awesome present to win and share if I won but I’m happy for Kathy too! Are you going to post the “Inspiration House” so we can print it? It is absolutely charming and would love, love, love to frame it!!!!!! Thanks for another charming post, Susan!

  49. Christl says:

    Dearest Susan,
    If you have been going through sadness on Sundays…without Downton Abbey, may I suggest a little Mr. Selfridge? The third season starts on March 27, so I have been “brushing up” on it (watching Seasons 1 and 2) on Amazon Prime. It is so good, and very similar…and all in London! It helped me a lot from missing everyone and everything on Downton. You will love it…lovely clothes. I watched Mr. Selfridge on Youtube the true story first, and then I was excited to watch the Masterpiece version. Love, Christl

  50. Diana, Highland, IL says:

    So happy for Kathy! So happy for a new post. I was a big colorer of all things when younger and also a paint-by-number as well, but haven’t done anything like that in a while. Thing I need to start back up! Thanks for the look at your “spring” and how lovely of you to lead the grand baby celebration!

  51. Linda says:

    I know you will think I am a wet blanket but I am not on the band wagon on this water coloring of old books. If the books are in bad shape and not a scarce one then maybe………but once these books are colored they are no longer original. The craze now seems to be to take alot of old antiques and “change” them into something more modern. One trend now is to take old silver trays and PAINT them with chalkboard paint and hang them for a chalkboard!! Agh!!!! I love rescuing old silver and polishing them back to their original beauty. A young neighbor woman says oh too much work I like the tarnished look but what she doesn’t realize is that without polishing the silver blackens and eats into the silver. I know I sound like an old fuss pot but haven’t we learned anything yet about preserving our past? How many beautiful old barns and buildings have gone forever for a parking lot.
    Love your blog , but come on girlfriends and preserve your old books!! Make copies and paint to your heart’s content. Linda from Idaho where the weather is cloudy and warm low 60’s…lots of record breaking days so far this year.

    • sbranch says:

      You’re not a wet blanket, in many ways I agree with you, especially about preserving buildings, trees, barns, earth . . . and painting a silver tray is a bit of a sacrilege. I would never tear apart a book. Or scribble in it with crayon as has happened to some of the old books I’ve brought home. But maybe the crayon, and the watercolor, adds a layer of something else human and “creative,” to the old, that isn’t so bad. Now if these were original pieces, I would have a problem with it. Thank you for your thoughts, Linda . . . we need that!

  52. nancy says:

    It is a happy spring for Flopsy, Mopsy and cottontail! That magical Beatrix
    Potter figurine grew back an ear and there is a cute lamb from the
    Midwest soooo happy on Susan’s stove. What wonderful fun and joy for
    all of us from Susan. Thank You.

  53. Elizabeth says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am absolutely intrigued by your antique illustration that begins, “My dear Noel…” in this post.
    Would you please tell us a little more about it?
    Is that a postcard? A letter? A book entry? A family heirloom?
    I would love to hear about it – and Happy Spring to you!

  54. Esther, Gettysburg, PA says:

    This is a wonderful Spring posting! Thanks for all you do in making us aware of all the beauty around us and for all the beautiful artwork you show us. I just finished decorating my home with my favorite spring and Easter collections and does the heart good to see those bunnies, eggs, and flowers out again since this “hard” winter. Even took out my tea pot with all the gardening tools and pots painted on it with a flowerpot lid. May I ask what color is your beautiful living room? I am going to paint mine soon and would love to see that color on the walls………..also, your drapes. I miss your posts about Downton Abbey but I can always go back to those posts and enjoy your pictures/comments. It will be back on TV before we know it! But not too fast!!

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t had a chance to go see if I still have that color written down somewhere. Sorry Esther!

  55. Elizabeth says:

    PS – to my previous comment … did Beatrix Potter create that little drawing and note??

    • sbranch says:

      Yes . . . it’s part of the book I mentioned in the post.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Dear Susan – I have gone through The Tale of Beatrix Potter, page by page, and still cannot find the “My dear Noel…” note!
        Is there another book you could suggest where that note can be found? Thank you again!

  56. Elizabeth says:

    Susan – you can delete my questions as I have found my answer!

  57. Laurie Walt says:

    I was lucky enough to buy kitchen gardens off your webstore last winter. What a darling and informative book! I will someday pass it on to my daughter, who also loves to garden. Tasha Tudor was amazing! Every flea market I go to I search for all things Susan. But, to no avail…no one parts with them willingly! My snowdrops are in full bloom. Love.

    • sbranch says:

      Books are truly treasures . . . xoxo

      • Judy Young says:

        I think as e-books and Kindles and such get more popular, real books will be much more collectible and will go up in price. There is nothing like holding and smelling a real book. A Fine Romance smells wonderful!!

  58. barbara lassiter says:

    I make cards for friends and family, etc. and just bought some new Japanese watercolor paints to try. I usually rubber stamp my images(but sometimes paint them from my drawings…I’m no Susan Branch, however.. LOL). I always love to see the images you’ve watercolored and seeing you paint in the book is so fun and brings back memories of all the coloring books I painted in and the doll clothes I used to design and color for my paper dolls. I seldom used the clothes that came with the paper dolls but always made my own. Who knew I’d still be at it in some way and excited about new watercolor paints???? Before I start painting, however, I may have to make that hot milk cake…just copied the recipe. Thanks for another fun blog post.

    • sbranch says:

      Very creative Barbara!

      • Beth L. says:

        OHH I remember making original clothes for our paperdolls!!! My sister and I spent hours tracing, cutting, and coloring… especially for our “Lennon Sisters” set since there were 4 to clothe!! Thanks for the memory, Barbara!

      • barbara lassiter says:

        I noticed the little Favourite English Recipes book on the shelf above your stove. I thought I might have that one. Instead I found Favorite Teatime Recipes(from a friend who bought it in the Cotswolds when she was there). I found Scottish Teatime Recipes from a trip we made to the Scottish highlands and I found Welsh Teatime Recipes from the Flavour Of Britain Tea Shop that used to be here, but has since closed. Miss that shop. All these books were published by J Salmon LTD and even have some black and white illustrations that could be watercolored. How about some Treacle Scones or Oatcakes. Or maybe some Sage and Leek bread or some Toffee Bars. Sorry this is so long.

        • sbranch says:

          YUMMY. Love the words, doesn’t Sage and Leek Bread sound delicious!?

        • Judy Young says:

          I have a whole set of these little books, found at a garage sale several years ago. So much fun finding little treasures like this!

  59. Diane C says:

    That book is on ebay right now for $273 and I bet it’s the power of your blog. I know I went to look it up after reading that post. The previous prices were from $10-75. I bet the one on Amazon will be there a long while.

  60. Merci says:

    Congratulations Kathy! Enjoy a most beautiful book!

  61. sondra fox says:

    Hi Susan, Last Easter I made the lamb cake, which turned out looking like a frog. I went all over town trying to get the cake pan. Finally found one. My grandson, who loves to bake, & myself, made the lamb cake, but oh my, it turned out so horrible. I was afraid to try it again. The lamb cake in your photo looks wonderful. I’m going to try the Milk Cake. I won’t need to be worrying if that cake will turn out OK. Sounds very simple & GOOD. I’m going to put sweetened strawberries on top, then whipped cream, for a wonderful strawberry shortcake. Thanks for another terrific recipe.
    Spring is sure in the air, here in So. CA. Birds are providing lots of music to my ears this morning, sunshine is streaming through my window, a slight breeze is coming through the door. Just a wonderful day. Hope spring is soon in your neck of the woods. You, on the east coast, certainly deserve a happy spring. I have a vase of Daffodils in my dining room. Such a cheery spot to look at. They don’t last long enough though.

    Daffy down dilly came to town,
    in her lovely, yellow gown. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      Use my recipe and it will turn out good Sondra . . . it needs to be a firm cake, too much crumb and it will fall apart. Also, we do carry the lamb molds in our web store. Happy Spring!

  62. My word ijust can’t believe that I missed it all boo hoo. We’ll take a deep breath.. Anywho I love your blog I enjoy stopping by and ready seeing whatever’s going on. I recently picked up some water color paints and are going to give it a whirl.. You inspired me very much. Thank you Susan. Happy Spring with love Janice

  63. Paula LaMont says:

    I am so pleased about the Tasha Tudor Book. I have one too, we are kindred spirits and I just picked another one up because I just couldn’t leave it in the bookstore. Now I felt rich before just having all the beautiful illustrations, but I guess I am $$$ rich too. Thanks for giving one away to your girlfriends. Paula

  64. Karen says:

    my yard looks the same as yours Susan, like you say, best not to look out the window for a little while longer 🙂

    have some Flander’s poppy seeds I may strew here and there, I hear they grow wherever they are cast at this time of year, but I have never luck with that. but it is always fun to try again

    Ah Tasha Tudor, wonderful!

    Which reminds me of my favorite book ever , “The Secret Garden”

    Happily I remembered how much I loved it and am re-reading it now, perfect time of year for it yes?

    Thanks for your work – you point out treasures that many miss 🙂

    Happy Spring!

  65. Judy Wooley says:

    what a lovely post and congratulations to Kathy for winning!

  66. Sarah Maldonado says:

    Congrats to Kathy! What a fun book to enjoy and perhaps “wash” with some watercolor here and there! Susan, I loved the pics of the colored in Story of the Live Dolls! The colors were perfection! The drawings made me think of the hand drawn picture on my grandmother’s birthday party invitation for 1908! It was an invitation for all her little friends to bring their dolls to her birthday party. I don’t know who drew it or wrote it, perhaps my great grandmother. AND I have a photo of all those little girls in their party dresses with their dolls and my little girl grandmother with her doll. So special! Some things never change…we love our parties and our dolls, bunnies, lambs, don’t we?
    Loved the post, as always.

  67. Melinda mom of 3 beauties says:

    Well, if you call “us” prisoners….would you please throw away the key to my cell?
    As for the view out your kitchen window, I’m probably the only one who looks longingly at the patches of snow and beautiful overcast sky. Yes, many delightful things about Central California but after living in places with actual seasons for a few years, how I miss actual winter.
    Smile grew when I saw the close-up of one of your lambs-pretty sure it is the bank which you have available thru “shopping”. Mine is on my mantle also, it brings such incredible memories of meeting a very lovely person in SLO and then again a year later in Cayucos.

    Thank you for the Pink of Perfection–it reminds me of one of my very, very favorite movies, Summer Magic.

  68. Jan says:

    Congrats to Kathy! What a great win. Am trying to catch up on things after a short business trip away with my husband to New York. Got to spend time with my sister shopping, eating, etc. Had fun, but am so glad to be back HOME. So enjoyed your post and bunny pics. Your old books and drawings remind me of ones my grandmother used to read to me. I am fortunate enough to have a few of them. Need to get out my Spring and Easter decorations too – one of my favorite seasons. You have inspired me!

  69. Jules says:

    I’ve been so confounded over how much Kitchen Gardens is selling for. Unbelievable! I’ve been searching for copies of this book. I did manage to find a copy for $75. As I already own a copy, I thought I’d pass along the info. I found the book at

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you . . . $75 seems like the going “realistic” retail rate, although I know if you wait and look, you can find it much cheaper out there. It just might take a while.

  70. Laura Turcotte says:

    I am really new to your blog, but not to your art!! After being able to read your blog posts for some time now, it id a relief and pleasure to read your post. Thank you for such a lovely blog!!!

  71. Laura Turcotte says:

    oh, and Congrats, Kathy!!!! What a treat!

  72. Judy H in FL says:

    Spring! Spring! Spring! Loved your post Susan although I am a little late in posting about it. Well now the oak pollen has died down (my worst allergy) and I am able to go outside and breathe. There are plenty of leaves to rake (how different from the north) so I’ve got piles of them to bag or mulch. I’m kind of living in two worlds now, one of memories of NY where I grew up and those of Florida where I moved as a newly wed and have lived for the last 42 years.
    I’m working alone this year out there but I’m determined to whip it all into shape before the heat of the summer. Keep posting Susan! You are an inspiration.

  73. Meg Schwanke says:

    My apologies Susan……I really was overtaken by pathological enthusiasm, as Robert Lowell has put it. I have so enjoyed the writings, photo’s and marvelous creativity shared to your fans! Have a Terrific weekend!

    • sbranch says:

      Not too sure what this comment refers to, but I bet you don’t owe me any apologies! 🙂 Thank you Meg!

  74. Esther, Gettysburg, PA says:

    Susan, I have written to you and my post says : “Your post is waiting for moderation”. What does that mean? And did the post go through to read?

    • sbranch says:

      It means I better get myself in gear and “moderate” — which means, I click on and “approve” the comments to go through, and do not click on or approve the spam that wants in too. So sorry, I’m working on a new book, and getting lost in it, time-wise, but I’m here now, back on the job! 🙂

  75. Rebecca Walsh says:

    Sorry to see today’s posting on the website that this will be the final season (#6) for Downton Abby. What will we do?

  76. debra sewell says:

    I absolutely LOVED the post about your wonderful artist friend, her daughter and beautiful granddaughter. She is a magical painter. Its amazing what people can do. What a gift she was born with and lives in a magical place too. Im going to go online and see more about her art. I really liked the painting of the island, house and woman with her arms raised. Happy Spring

  77. So happy to see a winner… but then, we’re all winners, for we get a post filled with the most darling photos of bunnies and lambies…(oh how happy I am to see the sweet twin to my dear little sheep;)
    Spring is springing, here…until today…when the rains came, along with a chill…goodness! I’m thinking it’s our “Dogwood Winter” for the buds are just showing on the one in our yard. The cherry blossoms are just opening, and
    I wait all year long, just to see those pink blooms…and feel like Mary Poppins on Cherry Tree Lane.
    Happy Spring, darling Sue!

  78. Rebecca Walsh says:

    Simply stunned by the artistry in today’s posting. It makes me want to get out brushes and paint and decorate something. Wow!!! Off to her website to see more & loved the Chinese Hairless Costume.

  79. maryann howell says:

    I loved this blog with your friend Margot. She is so amazing I just cannot get over it. Creative artistic people feed the soul. You made my day. I will be thinking about all of this and enjoying it for a long time. Thank you for sharing.

  80. Candice says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful friend Margot with us. I’d love to hear more about her and see more of her fabulous home.

  81. Janet in Rochester says:

    No kidding? This book is going for $900 on Amazon? Gee, I got a copy in excellent condition from the online store “Alibris” last year for about $11, including shipping. Such – a – deal! Well, congrats to Kathy Towers, she will certainly love it! The Tasha Tudor illustrations alone are worth $900 alone, and the garden information and advice is icing-on-the-cake. I liked the section on Kitchen Gardens the best. Hope you’re all thawing and melting sufficiently on the Island. Need green – tired of white! Take care…

  82. Denise says:

    Just read the amazing story about the painting of the church-fascinating! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  83. Karen Stefanelli says:

    Dear Susan,
    What a wonderful blog….great stories….everything was just lovely!

  84. Judy in Ohio says:

    Hello, dear Susan! I brought my husband to your blog to see Margot’s work…
    He,too, was very VERY impressed! (As I knew he would be!) I told him that we ought to come up and see it “in person”…and visit the Norman Rockwell Museum “on the way”. 🙂 So…you never know. We have been planning on this for a long LONG while (before these church murals, of course)… maybe we finally do it!!

    So…I want to thank you for the inspiration…and also wanted to wish you and Joe and the kitties and all the Girlfriends a very happy and blessed Easter…and…

    Easter,Easter…Rabbit, Rabbit!! 😀

    > ‘ t ‘ <
    ( )0


  85. Judith Presgrove says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I have fallen head over heels for your lovely and inspiring blog. Only found you last month and feel so blessed that I did! Just love your “girl kitty” and I am a dog person! Just when I thought there was no peace or beauty left in the world you have showed me….”oh, yes there is..just keep looking”!
    Thank you so very much!

  86. Vicki - Kentucky says:

    Loved your blog. I sent an email a little over a week ago asking about the “The Reason for Living” print. I love it. Do you have one to frame?

  87. Safetydog says:

    Oh my goodness, I have “The Story of Live Dolls” in a collection of children’s stories from my childhood. It might be the Tasha Tudor collection, I’ll have to look. I loved that story, but it also made me uncomfortable about my treatment of my own dolls.

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