Happy New Year, Girlfriends! 🎉Well, off we go to a really amazing House of Creativity that you’ve never seen before, the tour of the Holy Nativity Convent I’ve been promising you . . . but first, I’ll say Good Morning, then MUSICA . . . and then a few words about Christmas past!goodmorningimg_7801

Jack says hello. We had a lovely Christmas, still kind of celebrating around here . . .


Although the house is getting back together . . . I mean, boxes of wrapping paper are put away anyway!img_7829

But my kitchen cupboards are still decorated . . . I hang ornaments on the knobs, and if there’s a bit of pretty wrapping with perhaps a bell, that goes up too.


No little outcropping is safe from my passion for decorating. This tree, star and bell? We found it in England and a Christmas Fair.💛


I have to show you the gift I received from Kellee, Sheri, and Alfredo at my Studio in California. I put this photo on Twitter, but not everyone goes there and I knew you would want to see it. Personally, I’m totally WILD about it. Cutest little purse in the world.

img_7800Early morning beauty, the ribbon went on my head, the purse went to my kitchen cabinets where I marvel over it every day. Kate Spade is what the label says. I can’t wait to go on the boat again, and just quietly put it on the table during dinner. So darling!


We put our tree on the living room table this year . . . our coming home and unpacking from England ran right up against bringing everything down from the attic for Christmas! So we kept it simple and did not move the table out of the room.  from E.

My friend Elizabeth sent me the perfect kitty tree decoration, a mirror image of Jack-Jack-Bo-Back complete with mustache.martha's dining room

We were guests at Martha and Gerry’s house (across the street) for Christmas Eve ~  Didn’t Martha do a beautiful job decorating the dining room? (If you remember the dog Iris who used to come visit us, she belonged to Martha and Gerry.)

wildwood martha's cheesecake 2016

This is Martha’s black cherry cheesecake!!! I don’t think I need to say a thing. Wow.


On Christmas Day we went to our friends Bob and Peggy’s and this was their beautiful dinner table. We had a secret Santa gift exchange next to their sparkly tree after dinner that was so touching, small, thoughtful and real, the exact spirit of Christmas I was hoping for this year. I love Secret Santas! So simple, but special, and not over the top, shopping-wise.


Speaking of the spirit of Christmas, remember this lovely votive candle I showed you a few posts back? I mentioned that it was a gift from the Sisters of the Holy Nativity Convent, and that we were going to visit them, and that I would do a post about it? Well, it’s time!


And here they are . . . this was the day we met in 2014.  Let me introduce them, from the left is Mother Pelagia, Mother Xeni, Mother Seraphima, and Mother Martha. And those smiles you see? They never went away. I was there doing a book signing for my book A Fine Romance at the wonderful Best of British (imports from the UK and Ireland) in Newburyport, Massachusetts. I was signing along, when I looked up and was surprised to see there were four nuns in line. This never happened! No nuns had ever come to my book signings before. “What?” I thought, “Nuns? How interesting.” And they were! You hardly ever see nuns anymore, at least in this country, most wear regular clothes now, so they sort of blend in with the rest of us, but it wasn’t always that way. One look and I realized, I missed seeing them! img_6494-700x519

Look at that face! These girls were so sweet, so happy and filled with joy and such Anglophiles, crazy about all things England which is why they’d come to the signing. I fell in love with their loving manner immediately.  We took pictures together, recognizing that we were kindred spirits, and they said…birdandsign


And so we did! We went off-Island a couple of weeks ago, to Christmas lunch with our good friends Bruce and Gayle (they’re the ones we stop and visit at the water’s edge when we’re on our walk in the summer). In the winter, Bruce and Gayle live near Boston, so we asked if they wanted to come along, and they said, “To a convent? 👀 Okay!” Because how often do you get invited to a convent? Gotta do it!!! Could be the MOST wonderful thing in the world! So here we are, in front of the convent, just about to go in.


And there they were, waiting for us! There are 17 Sisters living at the Holy Nativity Convent. Our original four friends were there, smiles still totally intact, and as we toured the house, we were introduced to many more people. Mother Seraphima has stayed in touch with me ever since we first met. The convent has gifted us with delicious homemade bread made by Mother Effie, and it was SO good that I asked for the recipe.  Mother Effie generously sent it to me so I could share it with everyone on the Blog, because it was WONDERFUL ~ and they sent their convent-made beeswax candles, and they prayed for my dad, and Mother Seraphima tells me she prays for me all the time (she knows I need all the help I can get), which I love, because I think their prayers go straight to heaven. So here we were, not having any idea of what this would be like except I hoped to be inspired with the spirit of Christmas. I thought, for Joe and I, lunch with best friends, and a visit to Mother Seraphima and the Sisters, would be our Christmas gift to each other.memories


On the wall inside the convent, a cross-stitched truth of life.


And of course, with hearts like theirs, they are kitty people. They have three beautiful cats living with them in the house . . . I should have written more things down, including the names of their kitties!


I don’t know what I expected a convent to look like, but I learned, it looks a lot like home!img_7425

The brick house was built in Brookline in the 1930s, rooms have been added, but the original charm is still there. This is the window over the kitchen sink which can be opened in the summer to birds singing in the garden. They feed 17 people breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, so their kitchen is very seriously outfitted with blenders and food processors and a huge old restaurant stove.domesticityimg_7423

And, including, of course, a favorite cup collection . . . just like home!


There were charming knobs on the cupboard doors . . .


. . . enough knives for everyone to help, and well-worn wooden spoons.


And travel souvenirs on the wall.


We had a wonderful tour . . . here’s Joe looking at the calendar on their wall . . . we thought we recognized it from somewhere . . .img_7434

Oh yeah! I’ve seen that before! And they’ve marked off who’s in charge of cooking for each day . . .


I liked the cloak room. Each peg is marked with a name . . . for rather obvious reasons!


They had their Advent Calendar up and going! In their Home Sweet Home.


This was the front room of the house, or parlor.  In the corner on the right, is their “shop.” We went through that back door into their lovely candle-lit chapel . . . Stayimg_7376

And met another gorgeous kitty along the way. They have two like this one, a breed called Rag Doll ~ because these kitties have a tendency to go limp and relax when they are picked up. Is that not the perfect cat? I think so! Jack wouldn’t know limp from a hole in his head!TheSweetLifeimg_7386

They go limp until they get sick of you, and then, the relaxing stops, and they go!  Just like home! You can see Mother Pelagia’s prayer bracelets, which I asked about . . . they make them from wool and colored beads.


The reason this post is called The House of Creativity, is because that’s what this convent is. The Sisters support themselves through their industriousness, they make and sell their handmade things, the whole house is a hive of activity. I think that’s one reason they are so happy. It’s amazing, what goes on there. img_7396

Feed Your Creative HeartJust like my own paint blotters at home!


They paint the religious paintings you see all over the house, and also huge murals are painted in this room. The walls behind us were covered with canvas on which they were painting murals.img_7405

Joe is facing two of the wall murals in this photo, one low down on the wall and the other higher up, mostly penciled in as they were just starting them . . . they enjoy good light for their art from the tall windows.


They paint the murals in-house and then move them and install them where they are wanted.


This is an example (from a photo) of their murals on the wall of a church.

img_7502And here’s a little bit of it in their dining room . . . I love what they do with gold leaf!heartimg_7473

They have a laser machine and they make greeting cards  . . .


and bookmarks . . .


and plaques . . .


They do beautiful trim for their own windows . . .


Mother Seraphima’s uncle left them the money for their woodworking shop in his will . . . his forever gift.Simply The Best


The woodworking shop is where they make wonderful laser-cut clocks, and wooden boxes, pendants, and beautiful delicate crosses with olive wood imported from the Holy Land. Mother Seraphima gave me a small, lacy wooden cross in honor of my dad.💞


Here’s their well-organized tool shop! Every time we turned a corner we would see something new and amazing. I think I thought nuns just prayed all day. But there was real life going on in here! img_7490

Joe is holding one of the sand-carved tea lights, like the one Mother Seraphima gave us.


They etched the glass in their windows themselves and made the casings . . .


This is where jealousy began to take over, but I was in the perfect place for asking forgiveness. That is a paper cutter like nothing I’ve ever seen. Because yes, they also bind books!  And paint the edges of the pages . . . img_7448

This is another room, doesn’t every house have one of these? Because they make beeswax candles here. Because of this, the whole house is lightly scented with honey. 💟img_7450

We were shown how the candles were made. I don’t know how they learned to do all of this, but I would imagine it happened one day at a make it look so easyimg_7463

These candles, I can tell you from experience, are slow burning and smell beautiful . . .

img_7455They sell them in their webstore shockingly inexpensively . . .


In all sizes and shapes . . .


You can buy them HERE, along with prayer-bead bracelets, sand-carved tea lights, and all the other wonderful things made in this House of Creativity; pure Inspiration, Inspiritus, the breath of God.


This is the sewing room where they make things for churches . . .


. . . like cassocks and vestments and other church items . . .

There is beautiful religious art on every wall in the house . . . on a much, MUCH smaller level, it reminded me a little bit of Westminster Abbey in London, so many things, so much interesting calligraphy, and everything handmade.


Like this . . .


Which they do for their own enjoyment . . .and to honor their deep faith.


They also make things with Mother of Pearl, I’m not sure if they made this, but it was so special I had to take a picture.


And here is where they dye wool which they sell and spin themselves . . .


Some of the dye colors . . .


Coloring the wool . . .


Color-match samples on rings in the dyeing room.


And a little spinning going on . . .HomeSweetHome Susan Branch


There were drawerfuls like this one of dyed wool in all colors. . . the convent does not solicit funds, they don’t wait around expecting to be supported, they work for a living . . .


If I was a nun, I would want to be the embroiderer! Baby’s bibs, jean pockets, and pillowcases!


Their doll collection on a shelf in the yarn room . . .


And cat bed nearby, just like home!
img_7349This is their third kitty, a rag doll also, but this shy kitty does not go limp when there are strange humans around.  It goes the opposite of limp and gets out of the room as quickly as possible. Got a good photo of her little nose though.domestic bliss


They also make beautiful mosaics . . . this one is only about half done . . .


We were shown how they break up the glass to make the right sized pieces . . .


And the tools they use to do it . . . we just shook our heads in amazement.


Mother Xeni thinks I should write a book about our trip to Scotland! I told you, they are ANGLOPHILES!!! Mas Musica, for the Sisters and for us . . .💞


In their cupboard, vintage dishes and tea things, and their collection of Beatrix Potter coins from the Royal Mint in England. My kind of girls!


When they added their library onto the Holy Nativity Convent, they knew they wanted a room big enough for all of them to sit in front of a fire on snowy days and read, or make things, or drink tea or pet the kitties, so they built this!  The most comfy room imaginable, and all dressed for Christmas. So homey on that cold blustery day!headerwildwood

There is no doubt in my mind that these Sisters dreamed this all up and made it happen for themselves. The nurturing life they wanted to live ~ so special, creative, and original, it just had to happen that way. I’m standing at the fireplace looking back into the library where everyone was gathering.img_7543

Emma Bridgewater tea things, of course, what else for a house filed with Anglophiles! They presented us with an . . .afternoon tea


And beautifully done . . .


With lots of yummy things to eat, including homemade bread, and real English Lemon Curd…img_7528

Gayle was thinking, just like me, how did we get so lucky?  Because this was just the taste of Christmas spirit we’d hoped for. Almost a real-life Santa’s Village, filled with charming, indefatigable elves.img_7567Laughing, talking about books and England, and about their once-a-year trip to the Holy Land . . . having a wonderful time.homesweetnessimg_7841

Mother Seraphima gave me this thimble with the image of Beatrix Potter on it . . . I just love it.lucky


It has these words on the back . . . now it sits with my Beatrix Potter people on the kitchen shelf over my sink . . . SO lucky. ❤️


They fed us so well! Bruce finally had to give up!


We had to get a picture together . . . look at darling Mother Pelagia and Mother Xeni at the bottom. Sisters! Full of light and joy.HomeForChristmas


It was getting late, there was a storm brewing, lots of wind, it was time to go, and they all came out on the front porch  to say goodbye…


It was a wonderful afternoon. It won’t be the last. We’ll go back someday.True beautyGratitudeT H A N K    Y O U   D E A R   S I S T E R S. 💖


And that wasn’t all! They sent us home with a bag filled with wonderful things to put under our tree, one of which was a music box, a wooden creche with a star on top that you can turn to hear Silent Night!  img_7630

And this candle lights us into the New Year.  We’re going two doors over to my girlfriend Lowely’s house for dinner tonight. We’re in charge of the salad which I need to get busy with now!  Hopefully later tonight, by the time the ball drops in New York, we will be tucked in our beds, visions of sugar plums still dancing in our heads with prayers for a peaceful loving 2017.💖

Happy New Year

My first project in the New Year will be to finish the 2018 calendars (they are due the end of February, and will go on sale sometime in July, believe it or not! I started painting them Heart of the Homein 2016, FOR 2018, which is more confusing than you might imagine!) We’re getting a reprint done for AUTUMN and A FINE ROMANCE . . . And then, as reward for all our hard work, Joe and I are taking the train to California for my mom’s 87th birthday at the end of February. We’ll be out there for about a month, that way we can go back and visit Mom three times, in-between other visits. I’m also planning a book signing in San Luis Obispo at the Apple Farm sometime between the 12 and the 25th of March, just in cases you are in the area, I would love to see you! I’ll let you know the date as soon as it’s set in stone. It will be the only signing … too short a time for a book tour! We need to be back home early April, for lots of spring cleanup around this place and a garden that is calling my name! Might have to write a new book too! I’ve been thinking about it. Lots of fun surprises in the New Year.grand-essentialsHope you enjoyed our trip to the convent! You never know what you will find on this blog (and interestingly, I never know either! 🤗) But I’ve heard that lots of you have the smell of Spicy Short Ribs wafting through your houses today, so life is good! 🍾 Happy New Year to you all. ❤️I’ll see you next year! ❌⭕️

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  1. Mary says:

    Thanks you so much for sharing your visit! I loved the smiling, happy faces of the nuns the most! The were radiant! You are a lucky lady indeed! I very much appreciate everything you share with all of us who love you and your blog! I may have to get on Twitter just so I can see all you post there!

    Peace and Happiness to you and Joe in the New Year!


    • sbranch says:

      I hope you do, sometimes Twitter is faster than the Blog. . . but I usually try and follow through and put things from Twitter on the Blog too.

  2. Karen from CT says:

    What an absolutely wonderful visit to such wonderful people! Thank you for sharing that with us! I had absolutely no idea that so much would be going on there and how fantastically talented those women are. I am in awe!

  3. Roz says:

    Love, love, love the Sisters of the Holy Nativity Convent. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful pictures of their beautiful home & their many creative endeavors. The Sisters have truly been an inspiration to me. Blessings to all for much love, peace, & joy in 2017.

  4. jeanie says:

    Well, if I was Catholic and I wanted to be a nun, I would hold out until I could be a nun with these amazing and talented women! What a treasure to discover this group of like-minded, kind, delightful, Anglo-loving, creative women! Talk about good fortune and great joy!

    I wish you both the happiest of new year’s. My Christmas won’t be down for awhile because I love it too much. (OK, the wrap is also put away. More or less.) But it sounds like you were surrounded by friends and by love and by joy this season — and really, isn’t that what it is all about?

    A very happy year of creativity, love, travel, art and joy to you both!

  5. MELANIE K says:

    Wonderful post!! This made my day. Happy 2017!

  6. Cindy D. from Charleston, SC says:

    Happy New Year Susan! Thank you so much for taking us to the convent. I love all that you share! This is a wonderful blog.

  7. Lynn Bauer says:

    I truly love your books and your postings. They brighten my days. This article about the Convent was so beautiful and inspiring. I loved their beautiful happy faces. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Karen Baron says:

    Thank you for sharing the gift of your visit!! My family loved your spicy short rib recipe!! I loved hearing about all the handiwork of the nuns!! So much talent and beauty especially the smell of honey from the exquisite beeswax candles!! I love Apple Farm!! They have the best Apple sausage and potato pancakes!! I always buy goodies and shop there too when I pass by!! Great Apple 🍎 butter there too!! You are lucky and talented!! My girlfriend loved the Glass Beads I bought from your website! She loved the quotes with the Beads too! Happy New Year! Love from California ❤

  9. FayE in CA! says:

    Amazing convent and women! They have the “old” homespun US economy functioning well within their walls…spinning, weaving, candle-making, wood carving, sewing……beautiful home. I can’t believe that only 17 women do all that is done! How lovely that they have chosen to focus on such homey, tried-and-true female tasks that were such a part of early New England. They are a well-oiled conglomerate within their home! I love your photo documentation of your visit. Thanks for sharing. I think that I will check out their website.

    Hopefully Uncle Al is more than pleased that his gift has born fruits over and above his hopes. What a thoughtful man.

    Ragdoll cats are not only beautiful, but wonderful friends to their furless companions. We have friends who have two drop-dead, gorgeous Rags, Bailey and Bella. They are so gracious at welcoming us when we visit. I have a package under my tree awaiting a gathering. John, the proud papa of his Rags, is getting a large mug which says…(oh…darn…dang it…wrapped it so long ago and this minute I can’t remember exactly what it says, but something about being a proud dad of Ragdolls. Pish-poo…so perfect and I can’t remember the saying of the gift I am giving!!!! Jeeze, Louise!!!) Anyhow, the mug is filled with two cans of Fancy Feast and two FRESH and ready-to-play mice! Can’t wait to see John open it. 🙂

    So happy to hear that you will be at Apple Farm. I have loved that place for years and generally make two trips up each year. Soon, my first 2017 trip to Apple Farm will be to see you…again. I had the honor of meeting you at the Morro Bay book signing. Lucky me.

    I know that you and Joe will be happy-campers on your cross country train trip because it is very difficult, if not impossible…for the two of you to be anything, but positive and joyful.

    Give Jack some ear scratches from me.

    • sbranch says:

      So be sure to tell me “FayE” and I’ll know just who you are! Faces, I’m not sure of, but names I often recognize!!! xoxo See you at the Apple Farm! Fun!

  10. Arlene says:

    Thanks for sharing! My cousin was a nun and when we’d go to visit the “girls” they were always having such fun! It wasn’t my calling, but it’s what I wanted. Made me smile reading the blog and viewing the photos 💕
    Happy New Year!

  11. What an absolute joy to read about the Sisters at the wonderfully inspiring Holy Nativity Convent. Many thanks for the lovely post and very best wishes for the coming year to you, Joe and the rest of your family (human and furry) from the English Lake District.
    Wendy x

  12. Diane Jeffries says:

    Loved the convent tour.
    Think I need some of those wonderful bees wax candles 😉
    Happy New Year !

  13. janet says:

    I so LOVED this!!! What creativity – thanks for sharing Susan : )) I am so inspired. Smiling big right now . . . .

  14. Sylvia says:

    This was so enjoyable, Susan, thank you! I may have just ordered some goodies… 🙂

  15. Bobetta Douglas says:

    What a lovely and special visit you had with the Sisters. They are radiant, shining from the inside, just like you. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. It is easy to forget that there are still little pockets of beauty like theirs in our world. Like you, I miss seeing Nuns in their habits out and about. My Mother had a special relationship with a nun in our home town of Ventura, CA and used to go to the retirement home near the mission to visit her. It meant so much to her that Sister prayed for her every day. It was a unique relationship for a Texas born small town Baptist girl like my mom!!

  16. mrspao says:

    What a beautiful visit. I love that the nuns were so homely and kitty-loving. I went to a convent school and they remind me of the nuns who made our school more like a home than a school.

  17. What an absolutely lovely post! Thank you for sharing your visit to the House of Creativity.

  18. Cathy says:

    What a joy to see those smiling faces! All that wonderful art just amazes me.
    I am off now to their website as I would like to get some bracelets. I am a rug hooker so I love all things in wool.
    I received your 2017 wall calendar as a gift this year it was a nice to start the year with you.

  19. Margie says:

    Lovely post. Such creative nuns, must have been fun to see all of their creations…so talented. Happy New Year to you and Joe. With your spirit I know you will fill it with the most interesting creative delights. ❤❤❌⭕❌⭕❌

  20. Rae Ann R. says:

    Hi Susan~I’m just now catching up with you…after a houseful of happiness and joy over the holidays…our big kids and grandchildren were here and it was wonderful. What a happy blog post…I’m amazed at all that happens inside the convent 🏡 and can’t wait to go back to your link and buy some of the nuns’ creations~busy hands make happy hearts. I was tickled to see they like the same kind of pasta sauce we do! I saw an empty jar of Classico Tomato Basil pasta sauce on a shelf being used for dye😉 I love their 📚 library and how hygge was the room with their fireplace…the sun is shining in Michigan and I’m sending it your way…xoxo

  21. Naomi Wikane says:

    I have all your books. Read your blogs. Follow you on Twitter and Facebook. And I am grateful that you shared about your visit to these Sisters. And listed their website which I have gone to. I’ll be purchasing from them. I’m a handcrafter and am impressed with their lifestyle combined with their faith. Love you. Naomi

  22. Karen Kotowski says:

    I just L❤️VE everything about you Susan Branch. Your posts are so delightful and informative. I’m sure every reader feels like we are RIGHT there with you‼️ (How exciting for us). I mean when was the last time I was ever in a convent⁉️ Well…right now. Yes, yes, yes write another book ❤️🏠‼️ We can’t EVER get enough of your AMAZING adventures‼️

  23. Amylisa says:

    Wow~~ all the art, and the wool, etc…just breathtaking! So glad for you, what a great day you had! Happy New Year 🙂

  24. Libby says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful Blog !

  25. Maria says:

    THIS was a beautiful post! I’m not Catholic, I’m Southern Baptist by denomination, but mostly, I just love Jesus. Just a lovely place and I’m sure a lovely place and lovely people to visit. Thank you, Susan, for sharing that experience with us!

  26. Kim says:

    Merry Christmas and peace and joy in your New Year, Susan!
    What a delightful visit you had and so grateful you shared it! I had goosebumps the whole time reading all about it. Wonderful photos, charm and love everywhere and on each face!
    How generous and welcoming the sisters were, just like you! Such talent and gifts of creativity! Well, I’ve never even heard of a convent like this before. If I had, I might could of made my Daddy very happy- he always wanted one of his three daughters to be a nun!!
    Truly was such a Christmas treat!

  27. Janet Hundley - Grafton, WI says:

    This blog post was just what I needed today.
    Thank you as always and Happy New Year!
    Please give Jack some scritches for me.

  28. Brenna J Henry says:

    That was just divine! I love those sisters!!! Their joy radiates from them thru into the world all the way to me and so many! Like your joy does as well! Thank you for being you and sharing te with us! I’ll definitely be coming to the apple farm in march to see you. Yay and happy new year!!! 🎆 ❤️️🙏🏾✨

  29. Steph says:

    Thank you Susan for your lovely tour. I am an Orthodox Christian and this blessed my family. We are spoiled to be surrounded by beeswax candlelight, beautiful icons and singing at each Church service. I did not know about this monastic community. We visit a different one and are blessed with a Mother coming to speak at our pre-Lenten women’s retreat on the years they are not booked speaking elsewhere. To have the influence of these women on my children has been the greatest blessing for me. They have joy because of Christ …His love pours out into their work and into loving others. Their work is a prayer. Does that monastery have a guest house? A beautiful post.

    • sbranch says:

      Not that I know of Steph, but we were only there for one afternoon, there’s a lot I don’t know!

  30. Prudence M Lay says:

    Oh My how WoNDERFUL!! Loved the visit to the convent. I would love to share an afternoon with these lovely ladies. Lucky you. Blessings to you in 2017. Hugs

  31. Marty Koehn says:

    Dear Susan,
    It makes me so happy to see your name pop up in my email. I didn’t get this one read till January 2. You are so blessed to be able to visit these wonderful places. I do hope you write a book about your last trip. I reread your books and find something new each time.
    I was so surprised to see the kitties from this post. We had a rag doll cat when my girls were little. She put up with all kinds of things and was always gentle with the girls. My youngest daughter had spina bifida and had many surgeries. When she came home from the hospital Nikki would be her nurse maid and rest with her. Sadly Nikki and my daughter are both gone but so many happy memories.
    Blessings to you and Joe. Have a wonderful trip to California. Marty

  32. Lovely, lovely, lovely….everything you post is lovely. Would love to see more pictures of your beautiful house. I think I must have missed the recipe for beef short ribs, however, I use them to make vegetable soup and it is so delicious. Happy 2017!

  33. Kathy Madigan says:

    Loved reading about your visit to the convent! Wishing you and Joe much joy, good health and many new adventures in the new year.

  34. Margie Basile says:

    Thank you, Susan for this delightful post. I bought the ingredients for the Effie Whole Wheat bread but I was hoping to clarify the amount of whole wheat flour. It’s listed on the website in the ingredients as: 3 c. whole wheat flour/¾ c. whole wheat flour.

    Would that be a total amount of 3 3/4 Cups whole wheat flour. I was wondering why it was listed as two amounts? Thanks, Susan

    Happy New Year!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not looking at the recipe, but my guess is that the two amounts are used at different times.

  35. Susan Poli says:

    Hi, Is Martha’s Black Cherry Cheescake printed anywhere? Thank you. Susan

    • sbranch says:

      Here’s what I got from Martha today when I asked for the recipe (and I quote):
      “The recipe is Junior’s Famous NY Cheesecake. Here it is:
      But I don’t make the “sponge crust”. I crush 1 package of graham crackers, (I think there are 2 packages in a box) and I mix it up with melted butter until it looks right (sorry) and press it into the pie plate. For the cherry topping: I used frozen whole cherries, fresh would be better I guess, but where are fresh cherries now?! I bought some wild cherry preserves and mixed a tiny bit of Crème de Cassis (in black current liqueur—careful not to make it too runny), smeared it on top, then put cherries on. Voila!”

  36. Margie Basile says:

    Thank you, Susan for this delightful post. I bought the ingredients for the Effie Whole Wheat bread but I was hoping to clarify the amount of whole wheat flour. It’s listed on the website in the ingredients as: 3 c. whole wheat flour/¾ c. whole wheat flour.

    Would that be a total amount of 3 3/4 Cups whole wheat flour. I was wondering why it was listed as two amounts? Thanks, Susan

    Happy New Year!

  37. Bonnie says:

    What a lovely visit, I just had with you. Thank you!

  38. salve stamatelaky says:

    I also thought nuns pray all day! I wanted to be a nun when I was a little girl, and instead is a mom and wife, and hoping to be a grandma! Now I know where to buy my beeswax candles! As always, thanks for your beautiful and inspiring blog!

  39. Liz says:

    Love, love, love this post!! Happy New Year!! 🎉💥🎊

  40. Sarah says:

    Oh Susan! This was a lovely tour and thank you for taking us along. The sisters know what their gifts are and put them to use for the glory of God. Livin’ the life! Thanks for sharing.

  41. Susan says:

    Wow! Gorgeous. Thanks

  42. Susan P. says:


    Thanks for this post, it was like no convent I have every been in!!!!!! We, My sisters and I, would help clean the convent for the new sisters coming in for the new school year. I always felt sorry for the sister that had to live there. This convent is AWESOME…if I was not married and had no children or grandchildren I would sign up to day….I would LOVE to live there and would want to learn how to do everything…..What a wonderful warm and charming and cozy home. Well I can’t leave my home…but ……I DID BRING SOME OF THEIR HOME TO MY HOME……YES I DID….I BOUGHT A CLOCK….CAN’T WAIT FOR IT TO COME. My husband and I celebrate little Christmas, just us two, and he doesn’t know yet WHAT HE GOT ME….WOW, HE IS GOING TO BE HAPPY THAT HE GOT ME JUST WHAT I WANTED!!!!!! Thank you for sharing your trip with us all. Love, Susan P.

  43. JOY says:

    I wonder if they are taking in new postulants? lol… I am speechless just absolutely awesome…I just told my grand daughter last week about the Carmalite Monastary here and that I am taking her there to see the sister’s creche in the chapel.. you have been given a great privilege and treasure of a lifetime… Thank you for sharing this with us… I will be reading this post many times throughout this year! God Bless you Susan!

  44. carmen in CA says:

    What a wonderful blog Susan!! My husband has just finished reading it and agrees. He takes an iconography class and found the Sister’s paintings so very interesting. All of their endeavors are interesting! I have searched their sand carved section and can’t find a tea light light the 1 they gave to you…with the wise man on the camel following the star. Do they still sell it? What a heart warming blog..thank you and Happy New Year to you, Joe & Jack! ♥

    • sbranch says:

      I think they do…contact them for anything you might want, because I think they will just make it!

  45. ELyse Adams says:

    HI Susan
    THis was the most wonderful experience thanks for sharing! WHat a beautiful way
    To spend the Holidays! Good spirit love and joy! HAve a beautiful New Years.
    I am busy on the vineyard in Sonoma. curled up on the couch reading lots of my
    SUsan Branch collection! Doesn’t get any better than this!
    Best and good wishes

  46. kathleen a goblirsch says:

    What a joyous late night read. I put their candles on Pinterest. They have such beautiful items. I was loving every room you went in and all they created. Looks like there is a craft or two for each of them! Do they also have a school on the site? Smiles like the ones they have most certainly would reach children. They can never have enough encouraging and happy people in their lives. Neither can we! Thank you!
    I grew up with our convent in the big craftsman house across the street from our track homes as a child. The nuns lived there until a convent was built at the church site. At least till I was 10. What memories you brought back with this post. Our nuns scared me as I thought for sure they would tell God I was naughty! How I love knowing they live as we do and create as we do in ways I did not know until I read this post. Love it!

    • sbranch says:

      Always interesting and wonderful to see how much we have in common with others no matter how seemingly different we seem on the surface! Good question about the children, I’m not sure. Nothing I saw led me to think of that, but I’m sure there are many things I still don’t know about what they do. Thank you for putting their candles on Pinterest. I’m sure it will help keep them busy!

  47. Laure says:

    Thank you for sharing your visit to the convent! I loved seeing the nuns’ artwork and their home. I loved all of the little details! And I am trying not to be ridiculously jealous that you are going “SLOme” in March, and to the Apple Farm no less! Please have some biscuits and boysenberry jam for me! Visiting SLO is the thing I miss most since moving to South Carolina! (I’m a Cal Poly alum! There’s no place like SLOme! <3)

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it’s a very special place alright. I’m very excited to be there again! I’ll do that thing about the boysenberry jam for you!

  48. Regina Carretta says:

    Again…thanks, Susan, for bringing light, color, joy, connections, appreciation for people, for diversity, into our lives…..this post is lovely and hits home….many of us need daily reminders of what is true, what is the glue that will hold us together – your visit with the nun family proves that our connection is strong. I can’t thank you enough….love love love you,

  49. Beth Fagundes says:

    So excited to hear you will be coming to SLO for a visit. I live at Lake Nacimiento and will make the short trek over the Cuesta Grade for the signing! And another chance to nibble at the Apple Farm, double winner!! I look forward to a beautiful 2017!

    • sbranch says:

      I can’t wait. I hear it’s been raining, I bet the hills will be green! It’s going to be March 18, but I still don’t know the time! Stay tuned!

  50. Sharon Shea says:

    Thank you for sharing your visit with us! The Sisters are soooo amazing.
    I wish for the joy, love and peace that they reflect spreads around the world.

  51. Naomi Jones says:

    I loved this picture into a life that I’ve never seen before today! Lovely!

    Also, I am re-reading your books right now. Several times, you mentioned that you had to give up your dream of having a family. Well, I wanted you to know that you have mothered me! I have learned so much about how to make a home, treat my children with kindness, and develop my art. Thanks for sharing your heart!

    • sbranch says:

      Makes me so happy to hear that Naomi, you have no idea. Thank you.😢 xoxoxo

      • Lindy B. says:

        I believe that you have given more needed love, beauty, entertainment and encouragement to mothers (and thus their children) than you could imagine. You bring sunshine, compassion and hope with everything you give to the world.

      • Naomi Jones says:

        I wish I could just cozy up in your pocket. Martha’s Vineyard is far away from Indianapolis. But I am hoping I get some of you through osmosis of reading about your life! It worked for you and Beatrix Potter, Mark Twain, Julia Child, etc. Why can’t it work for me?! Much love, NJ

        • sbranch says:

          Love Indianapolis! We have friends there, so we stop in as we drive cross-country sometimes. I think that osmosis CAN work for you, because Mark Twain was influenced by his heroes, and so, through him, I got them too, and because I’m filled with the inspiration from the people you mentioned, they can’t help but come through me. I think that’s how the world has come to where it is today (the beautiful “people” part) ~ the more of us choosing heroes that bring the world to a better place, the better the world will be. I’ve got you in my pocket Naomi. Thank you! xoxoxo

  52. Koletta Kaspar says:

    These wonderful nuns would also welcome their Muslim counterparts and treat them like royalty too. Maybe someday our eyes will all see the commonalities in the human spirit.

    • sbranch says:

      YES, they would. I was thinking that exact thing, Koletta, and wishing I could go into the home of a Muslim family and take pictures of their kitty bowls too, because, despite what we see on the outside, and maybe our not knowing (causing vague fear) what goes on inside people who are different, I know we are so much alike, 99 9/10% of ALL of us wishing for peace, security, safety for our children, care for our elders, clean streets, water, air, food, open space to grow, and love, glorious love.💖

  53. Bev Tippett says:

    Thank you for sharing. What a delight place….and the creativity must ooze out of the walls! Very inspiring. Everything they make is beautiful…perfection.

  54. Wendy Braun says:

    I love all the sweet quotes you interspersed with the pictures of your visit. Felt like I was there with you. If you ever find yourself in California, there is another wonderful Orthodox women’s monastic community (Holy Assumption) in Calistoga, just outside of Napa – with near by b&b inns and wine tasting! The nuns make lavender products, honey, and other foods. There’s also Holy Myrrhbearers Orthodox Monastery in Otego, NY (they have beautiful notecards and embroidered items — and a farm with sheep!) The nuns are all just as sweet and happy as the ones you spent time with at Holy Nativity Convent. 🙂 So many convents, so little time!!

    • sbranch says:

      And in-between, all the homes of our girlfriends making amazing creative lives of their own, because this is one heck of an amazing world we live in! Thank you Wendy!

  55. Deb Gage says:

    ♥ I believe I am off to join the convent!♥

    I feel so excited and inspired by these beautiful women. I think I’ll contact them to see if they need donations of alpaca fiber. Maybe they would like to dye and spin some or felt it into something amazingly wonderful! Now I have one more place to visit when I come to the great NorthEast – The Holy Nativity Convent. I cannot wait!

    I thank you again for wonderful you! Well – you know how I feel about YOU! 🙂

    Happy New Year to you, Joe, & Jack!! ♥

    Love to all,

  56. Charissa says:

    Oh Susan, HOW BEAUTIFUL!!! No words are right. Just GODsmacked;) I think that if nuns like you, you are pretty much a shoe in at the pearly gates. Not that you needed any reassurances;) They create so much beauty and you have captured it beautifully. How can they do so much? That reminds me of what I think about you:) I am just so overwhelmed with Susan Branch loving, Emma Bridgewater collecting, anglophile nuns who make me want to be their friend. I am going straight to the website to order some of their beautiful work. Even though I am not supposed to be on the computer still… My back problems have not mended, unfortunately. BUT I can sit this short time to wish you and Joe Happy New year (BIG HUGS) and say thank you for your incredible post. You honestly never fail to lift me and bring me joy!! I hope your post will increase the sisters’ business and that they will touch the lives of many because of you. Thank you so so much xoxo

  57. Lynette Morley says:

    This is just the sort of post I have been waiting for. Thank you! The convent and all the beautiful people are so inspiring. I can’t wait to order from their online store. I already have my next year’s Christmas list started. Thanks for sharing all you think, feel and do. You are a true inspiration!

  58. What a fantastic post Susan – and a great bunch of sisters. So talented with gorgeous smiles on their faces. Happy 2017 to you and Joe and kitties.

  59. JoAnne Daniels says:

    I’m jealous of the beautiful home the sisters made for themselves at the Holy Nativity Convent — they truly know how to create hygge! If I ever become a nun I’d want to live with them! I love the stone fireplace — what a beautiful room the library is — how could you want to leave such a cozy place? And with CATS! These women know how to live!
    You introduced me to the word “hygge” and I requested the book “The Little Book of Hygge” which the library owns where I work. It must be popular because I’m on a waiting list! Thanks for the wonderful tour of the convent with rooms and rooms of creativity going on. Happy New Year!

  60. Debi Hutchinson says:

    Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I absolutely LOVED this post!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing. Happy New Year!!!!

  61. Deborah In The Fields says:

    O, how full my soul has been filled! Although I am not a Catholic, I am a devout Christian, and this blog brought tears to my eyes more than once. These dear, loving, and devoted women are such a rare breed. May their tribe increase! Thank you, SO MUCH, for sharing the blessing of the convent tour, and of telling us all about this community, which I’m sure can benefit from our patronage.

    Happy New Year, dear Susan. God Bless You!

  62. Paulaj says:

    What a delightful tour, dear Susan Branch!

    I am far behind on reading your blogs due to a determination to catch up with all of my families’ 2016 birthdays before 2017 arrived. While “catching up” trips and events kept happening, so I have been one busy lass. I reached my goal (with 45 grands, plus their parents and my sisters and other friends~~birthdays are a huge part of each month, and I do get behind, though my goal for 2017 is to stay ahead! As my youngest son might say, “Good luck with that”!

    Anyway, it was very lovely to read about your visit to the convent. Thank you for sharing that. The nuns are a joy to see with their full-of-life-and-love smiles, and reading about their many talents and skills was enlightening! Their house looks homey and efficient.

    You continue to charm and bless~~

    I look forward to catching up with more of your recent blogs.

    Hugs, love, and a Happy New Year 2017 to you and Joe! Paula

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I am in total agreement with your youngest son! OH my! 45! Well, as already noted, good luck! xoxo

  63. Candy Atwood says:

    Since discovering your blog and Willard in 2016, I have read all of your posts, some of them for seconds and thirds. I think this might be my favorite one yet. All of the photos were wonderful and the trip to the convent was just what I needed today. It made me so happy. As soon as I saw the “to love and be loved” sampler I went to my tried and true source…eBay…to see if I could find the chart. Turns out it is a 1973 pre-stamped kit and there are several available. I don’t usually do stamped kits, but I can always convert it to a chart. I have made the purchase!! Thank you, Susan!! On another note, my Sweetie gave me a jar of Morello cherries in my Christmas stocking. But wait, isn’t that what Joe used in his Old Fashioneds??? I spent another fun thirty minutes or so this morning looking back through recent blogs for the recipe. Found it!! Thanks, Joe.

    • sbranch says:

      Now for the fun, Candy! Such a lovely little cocktail with cherry reward at the bottom! And good for you, finding that kit! To Love and Be Loved! Says it all!

  64. Deanah Greene says:

    What a beautiful blog story. I felt like I was with you and the Sisters. I am sure this was a very peaceful and special Christmas outing to remember for ever!

    I made the Spicy Short Ribs and the chicken version for my husband. I loved them both, but I must confess the chicken held the flavor the best, and this is coming from a meat and potato girl. Thank you for the recipe adaptation .

    • sbranch says:

      Did you do certain parts of the chicken, or a whole one, or what … skinless? Boneless? And did you cook it the same length of time? In a crock pot? 😀 Just a few questions. Because I think that sounds great.

  65. Eileen Nieli says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you so much for your blog about the Sisters of the Holy Nativity Convent. You really out did yourself, and that is saying a lot! Nuns were such an important part of my childhood education ( who would have known that they could also be “Girlfriends”). The Sisters and their work are amazing, and those smiles!! That must be what angels look like when they smile. Wishing
    you and them a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

  66. Caroline says:

    Dear Susan, I loved the post about the beautiful nuns. Their smiles and work are radiant and I feel so happy; like we are all wrapped in their prayers. I right away ordered more candles, they are exquisite and do smell like honey!
    As you contemplate projects for the new year, you were thinking about recording your meditations for us all … What are your thoughts now? Sign me up for 12 copies! I would love to give that to all my beloveds next Christmas!!!
    Happiest new year to the whole world of girlfriends! Especially our inspirational leader, you! Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that’s still on my list too, I’d really love to do it. Thank you for the reminder Caroline, but first, must do calendars for 2018!

  67. Marge says:

    Lovely post from a lovely lady! Happiest of New Year to you Susan :0D Can not wait to see what this new year holds for us all ~ Marge ~

  68. Anne in Maine says:

    Happy New Year Susan! I hope this year is filled with many blessings for you and Joe. What a wonderful post! I’m not sure what I thought a convent looked like but it definitely wasn’t like that. It’s so homey and cozy. I can just see myself dipping candles with the Sisters or reading in front of that beautiful fireplace. The convent seems like such a happy, sheltering home. And those smiles of theirs–they look like they were all born with those smiles on their faces. Your blogs are truly my “happy place”.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I never really imagined it myself, but there it was, a regular house, but bigger everything, for 17, and one craft room after another! Thank you Anne!

  69. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Happy New Year Sweet Sue. Thank you for the lovely visit to the convent. Those beautiful ladies show God’s love all over their faces 🙂
    hugs to you for the new year.

  70. Cynthia says:

    Happy New Year! This was such a perfect (& creative) way to warm in the New Year. The Nun’s joy and spirit was captured perfectly, and I was agog at all of the different things that happen there. I will definitely visit their website and order something. They are working and creating and their artistry needs to be honored. Thank You for sharing this experience. Amazing – Grace.

  71. Vickie in Olympia says:

    Absolutely no one else can write about a visit like you do! How wonderful to know there are lovely places like this where one can believe serving God is a creative endeavor. Thank you. I can return to my sewing machine and kitchen with warm feelings of self worth because I am creating! You weave so much into our lives by sharing yours. Happy New Year!

  72. Deb Harmon says:

    Susan! I just finished reading this wonderful post and I must have been holding my breath! A huge, heavy sigh came out of me at the end! What an incredible group of people! And they are all so talented! I loved every minute of reading this and I plan on reading it again, and again! Thank you so much! Happy Winter!
    Love, Deb

  73. katherine says:

    This is the most delightful post. My heart is so warm from it all! Just wonderful! Hope you have a magical 2017!

  74. Judy Wooley says:

    What a lovely visit that was. They are so talented just like you. have you ever thought of updating your Christmas journal book. I have filled out three and can’t find them anymore. Thanks again for the great post Judy from KY

  75. Cindy Tuning says:

    Oh Susan. This was like coming home for me. I’ve been away from the blog for a while for one reason or another, either busy or winter blues or just putting me on the back burner. Anyway, this was just perfect. I have never seen happier faces than on the sisters. True joy in doing what they were meant to do and they are radiant!!! Must have been an extraordinary visit that left you with a feeling of such peace and gratitude and knowing that all is right with the world after all. This was a gift. Thank you

  76. Gina says:

    I just loved every bit of this post! Thank You! It was awe inspiring!

  77. Susan (in VA) says:

    What a treat! I think this was one of my favorite posts. It was hard to take everything in at once, so I know I’ll have to come back and reread it again and again. Thank you for taking us along for the visit.

  78. Mary Ann in Missouri says:

    Being a cradle catholic, I really enjoyed this post. I’ve never known nuns who live this way. It’s so beautiful. But, I am really writing for something else. I’ve watched all your YouTube videos, and this year when making my favorite Christmas cookies I sifted my flour the way you show it on your video. My cookies were so wet that they all ran together and were as thin as paper. I wonder what I did wrong. Several people have told me that they measure their flour before sifting, but in your video, the last thing you say to do after its sifted is “measure the flour”. Since sifting changes the volume so much, I wonder if I shouldn’t have measured, sifted, then used all the flour. HELP!

    • sbranch says:

      It depends on the recipe really … when your recipe says, “1 c. sifted flour,” you measure after you sift. If it says, “1 c. flour, sifted,” you measure first then sift. At least that’s how I learned it. In the video, I was just showing how to sift flour in general, not meaning it to be about when to measure … it was really about the cone shaped waxed paper and all. Sorry if that mixed you up!

  79. Julie Doucette says:

    First of all Happy New Year to you and Joe.
    I loved the blog of the Sisters of the Holy Nativity Convent. When I saw the photo of the cross stitch, I had to have it. I was able to find the kit on Ebay, now I’ll have one to hang in my home.
    I’ve been following your blog since I first read about you in Yankee Magazine a couple of years ago. You’re very inspiring and I enjoy following you. ~ Julie

  80. Anne in Maine says:

    Oh, forgot to add this to my last comment. Just want to put my 2 cents in about your next project. LOL You had mentioned writing a tea book. That would be fabulous!!

  81. Laurie Perry says:

    Love this post! I wanted to be a nun when I grew up because of the Sisters of Charity convent at my school. They seemed to have so much fun and got to live with their best friends. Also the cross stitch picture is the same one my Mom made for me back in 1978! I wanted to post the picture but didn’t know how.

  82. Lindy B. says:

    Dear Susan, thank you for the lovely photos and stories of the Sisters of the Holy Nativity Convent. I will happily buy candles and other good things from them.
    Happy New Year to you! You were part of my Christmas because my husband gave me your new anniversary cookbook (I have and love all the others) AND a KitchenAid stand mixer. I am beyond thrilled. Have already made batches of cookies which were all delicious and also happily received by friends. So thank you for your many talents and your delightful blog.

    • sbranch says:

      Wow, he set you up for ACTION. I don’t have to tell you to have fun! Your husband is a doll! Thank you Lindy!

  83. Trudi Varton says:

    Who could have guessed that a convent would be such a warm, cozy & creative place! How wonderful you could visit at such a special time of year. Thank you for sharing this sweet experience with us. A blessed new year to you & Joe! Jack too!

  84. Marcia Ceisel says:

    How much do I love you??!!…let me count the ways (only a few examples of many reasons!)… You wrote about going to Calif. in March and said, “..sometime between 12th and 25th, just in CASES you are in the area”. In Love Actually, Aurelia said that to Colin Firth’s character when he found out she learned English. So…I ALWAYS say that when I mean “just in case”! I’ve never known anyone else who does that, except you 🙂 Also: I have the quote: “The grand essentials of happiness are:…” in my kitchen. What a surprise that you wrote one of my favorite inspirational quotes. You make me so happy and are such an inspiration.

    • sbranch says:

      I can’t say, “just in case” anymore since Love Actually, it’s always cases, even out loud! It doesn’t sound right otherwise! I added a line to that original quote, I put in “something to Give” . . .I thought it deserved to be there . . . in cases you were wondering! xoxo

      • Suzette Shoulders says:

        Ha ha! My husband and I ALWAYS say ‘just in cases’ now , to each other! Suzette in Oregon

  85. Makes me want to be a nun! Such lovely women- full of the goodness of creativity.

  86. Trudi Varton says:

    Oh, Susan, so excited you will be coming to San Luis Obispo! Although it is far away from us it is a half way point for my dearest, oldest faraway forever friend whose birthday is that week! She & her hubby are excited to meet us there at the Apple Farm! When will you know the exact date so we can make reservations ASAP! Love you, Truli

  87. Carole Hines says:

    Loved this post. Thank you for sharing your wonderful visit with the sisters. What a lovely warm and inviting home they share. And their talents……what a blessing they are!

  88. Mary in St Louis says:

    Oh my ! I’m at a loss for words ! So much love, creativity and talent …you are blessed to know these wonderful Sisters ! Amazing !

  89. Sylvia Faye says:

    Happy and Holy New Year in the Year of Our Lord 2017
    A hundred years ago Our Lady appeared to three small children at Fatima in Portugal and visited with them each month for six months and in October their was a miracle given where the sun danced and moved up and down in the sky; documented and viewed by 70,000 Faithful. She told them 3 secrets and the last one was to be given to the Church in 1960. It didn’t happen because if the consecration of Russia which was requested by the Pope and all the bishops on the same day and time. Now it is 100 years and much will be happening in our world. So a visit to the Convent and to feel like a guest with you in their most welcoming home was a ‘gift’ in itself. This is one of your best posts. A gift to each of us who have had the great pleasure to enjoy it.
    Being a cat lover I had not heard of ‘rag doll’ cats so will be on look out for them.

    The convent spilled over with the love and joy of Our Lord and the Holy Family.

    My daughter gifted me with your large calendar for Christmas and a money gift which I spent on Isle of Dreams and I must say I felt like a fairy tale girl reading it along with your lovely illustrations. Now I must find Fairy Tale Girl as my dear gradeschool friend and I used to tale Fairy Tales to one another; always loved Fairy Tales as they are like ‘sweet dreams’ that bring joy to ones heart.

    I also wish to later own your book you reprinted this year of your Receipe Book. You represent your dear mother in the best of style which is love, peace and generousity and knowing how to enjoy the slimplicity of live which is being a friend to all you meet. I have loved your books, posts, trips and meeting you in Cape Cod at a book signing. May God reward you as St. Therese always said.

  90. Anita Taylor says:

    Hi Susan,

    I attended your book signing in Pasadena last summer …. afterwards I had so many gals say “why didn’t you tell me, I wanted to .” So, I would love to do a road trip to the Apple Farm with a group of ladies! Please let us know Joe and Jack!!

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds wonderful . . . it’s going to be on March 18. Not sure of time yet, but I’ll put it up when I do know…for sure the 18th though!

  91. Kathie Ferko says:

    Dear Susan,
    Happy New Year to you and Joe!🎊🎉🎊 Hope you had a great holiday season.

    Thanks for that amazing blog on the sisters and their lovely convent. My son and husband are Orthodox. Those icons and church photos are very familiar…was married in their church.
    The nuns look so joyous and happy. Never knew that nuns did all these crafty and artistic things. They have love radiating from their souls. What a wonderful place to visit especially at the Christmas season. I will need to check out their website.
    Good luck and health in the new year…looking forward to new and exciting blogs throughout the year!!!

    Kathie from Limerick

  92. Regina Carretta says:

    Susan – I just wrote an email to the Sisters at Holy Nativity, to thank them for bringing all their joy, community, art to our world. (appreciation to you for introducing them to us all) I also asked them to keep our world, our country in their prayers….with them in our community, we can create peace. Thanks, Susan….your art and words create peace every day.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure they will love hearing from you Regina. I know we are all in their prayers every day. Doing good is their middle name. xoxo

  93. Hello Susan, how beautiful the convent nuns are, using their creative gifts in such homely and caring ways, you made the post so I felt I could almost step right in and join them! I wanted to ask if you might share some painting tips now and then – I know there is a tuturial on here (thanks) but any sort of work in progress type stuff would be so welcome – I am a budding artist (please visit my blog if you ever get time, that would be so wonderful, to have a Susan Branch browse by!) and I have trouble knowing how much to dilute my paints (they always dry so much lighter), whether I really have to wet the paper first etc., how on earth to colour backgrounds without getting ‘cauliflowers’ – all that early learner kind of stuff is holding me back so much. If you don’t have time I won’t mind – I still love your blog Betty the Wood Fairy (UK)

    • sbranch says:

      Looks like you’re on your way with your art, really nice Betty! I don’t wet my paper, because I do something called “dry brush” painting. You’d have to look it up … Most watercolorists DO wet their paper, and if you’re taking lessons, I would think they would show you to do it that way. I just don’t know how because I’ve not had lessons. I like layering color on, like a light layer, and then another and another, I think it makes for depth. There are wonderful watercolorists showing their stuff on Youtube … google it and go see! It’s so much easier to be shown how! Good for you Betty, I see the “wood fairy” in you coming out! xoxo

  94. Vicki says:

    In the photos, Susan, can you point out M. Effie who has the bread recipe? I’d love to put face to name with my copy of the recipe, and I’ve also had some emails going back and forth with her, relative to my order placed with the convent, so I’m just curious as it’s all been so delightful! Thanks; I can’t wait to see some of their beautiful creations up close and personal (all because of you!). (Like, the photo near the end when they’re saying goodbye to you, who is who?) I can’t get enough of this post of yours! (From Vicki in SoCalif)

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sorry I can’t. I’m not sure if I met her. I kept asking, but then we got sidetracked (and I think you can see why). Like you, I’ve only exchanged emails with her, as far as I know!

  95. Paige says:

    Dearest Susan,

    What a wondrous post to usher in the New Year – reading through, and relishing all the photos, brought tears to my eyes – of JoY and DeLight. You are such an In.Spired, and In.Spiring, StoryTeller. Thank you, and Thank You, and THANK YOU. Banjo O’Feral and I send much Love and Joy to You, and Joe, and Jack, from Carmel to Martha’s Vineyard. Paige (aka PortfolioCarmel on your twitter feed). XO

  96. Becky P says:

    Joy Rising❤️Loved this post! Happy New Year to you, Joe and Jack!🎉

  97. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    Makes you just want to join them! Growing up Catholic I always had that hint of a thought of becoming a nun. the ones at our church were always outside playing volleyball. They always seemed to have fun. And they made all the flower arrangements for the church from the flowers grown in their garden. Another fun activity. My mom used to take our feather pillows in occasionally because the nuns would take them apart, wash the feathers! and put them back together (adding more feathers as needed). Can you imagine?! I had a friend recently ask me if I was afraid of nuns? afraid?? no, I’m often envious. See, your nuns look like they live a beautiful life!! Switching subjects…Susan, if your calendar isn’t done yet (or for 2019) you should add the “drink tea” days. National Iced Tea Day is June 10th and International Tea Day is Dec 15. Many of the tea companies offer fabulous discounts on their teas and tea products on those days 🙂 I always make sure to drink lots of tea on those 2 dates! I’m sure the girlfriends would too, if they were aware of the special dates.

    • sbranch says:

      I did put in UK National Tea day, April 21! I try to leave some room in the boxes for people to write in, but I think I’m failing miserably! 😜

  98. Sharon Calvert says:

    Can. not. believe I’m just today seeing this post! Somewhere in all the holiday activities it escaped my attention, but what a lovely read on this cold but sunny day in southern Alabama. Regarding the convent, I was expecting to see a zen-like (if not austere) environment, devoid of creature comforts; but what a glorious surprise! Just as you say, a House of Creativity, putting into action God’s love and God-given talents. Thank you for sharing your experience, and may God bless us one and all in the coming days.

  99. Suzette Shoulders says:

    HI, Susan! I just wanted you to know, I got my package of all THREE of your memoir books yesterday. The package sat in our community post box area for a while, it seems, because those were the COLDEST books when I opened the box, goodness! I gave “A Fine Romance” to my girlfriend for life, Paula, at Christmas, so I thought I would give her the other two , one at a time, for her birthday gift and then something invented, like a ‘fairy day’ gift. It delights me that she is loving “Fine Romance’ so much she wrote me two days after Christmas to tell me so! I intend to give ” A Fine Romance” to a new friend. Silver and gold friends! An ignorant question, why are so many of the sisters called ‘Mother’? I thought there was only one ‘Mother’ in a group of nuns? But I was raised Presbyterian, so maybe I am mis-informed? I love all their handicrafts and will go to their website sometime soon. Right now I need to watch the snow fall some more. We have never had a winter like this , in our 15 winters in central Oregon! So grateful to be in a warm house! Hugs from across the country, Suzette

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I know, all those questions. They are all Mothers ~ that’s what they call themselves when they write or talk to me, and that’s also the way they were introduced to me … so that’s what I call them ~ but it seems, to each other, they are all Sisters. I don’t really know why. Sorry! Hugs back to you Suzette!

  100. Hi again, Susan! Can I tell you how much delight you brought me by sharing your tour through the convent and meeting the sisters. WOW! So amazing! And the cute gifts you received – that little Kate Spade purse and the adorable kitty “Jack” ornament are the best – the kind of gifts that are given straight from the heart. Thank you for bringing your joy and happiness to all of us. Hugs!!

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