MUSICA!  As many of you know, Joe and I are on a five-week road trip!  On February 23 we left Martha’s Vineyard by 8:15 am ferry (our last slightly-foggy view from the boat, above) to go to Boston to catch the train for the cross-country trip (we love to take, and you’ll soon see some of reasons why) out to California to celebrate my mom’s birthday, and to see family and friends. We’ve been driving hill and dale, playing the wonderful MUSICA of Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, and seat bopping as we go along . . .❤️

Here we are, just starting off on the train, flying across snowy New England in our Room with a View . . . I’m working on my iPhotos (see the photos I took for Marmalade Cake? That recipe is coming up as you scroll down this post!)

As always, we had the most beautiful views, which changed as we moved through the states, and through each day . . . it’s difficult to tear your eyes from the window. Totally mesmerizing as it all goes by . . .

One of my favorite train things are the sunsets and sunrises. All different, depending on what part of the country you’re in, from the snowy pink-lit meadows in the Adirondacks, to the yellowed windswept plains, to the red rocks of New Mexico.

And all of it, while we’re cozy in our room, wearing slippers, wrapped in a shawl. We bring our electric tea kettle so we can make tea in our room . . . I was trying a new tea here that CarrieInOxford🇬🇧 @holywellbnb (on Twitter) gave me . . . but of course I brought along my tin of Fine Romance Tea. Since that book came out, I’m like my kitty, set in my ways, I have my favorite tea every single day. Maybe I will suddenly change someday like he does, but probably not! But, it’s always fun to try something new from a friend!

We went past farms, towns, and the widest open spaces you can imagine . . . with views from backyards and small streets, all the way out to forever . . .

Until we came to Chicago, that toddlin’ town we love SO much. This is truly a wonderful city. People on the streets here smile all the time!! And the food! Yum! We love it that there is usually a 3 to 6 hour layover in Chicago, so over the years we’ve gotten to know it a little bit. The train station is right downtown, we hop into a taxi and go to Michigan Avenue where we are never ever bored! From Boston to Chicago by train is an overnight, just 24 hours.

Then back on a connecting train we go, ever westward . . . This is one of the dining cars where we are served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all much better tasting than expected! And mealtimes on the train also come with a wonderful view . . .

And after two more, rather-too-short days, we slowly (in a civilized way, no jet engines, no wheel-not-coming-down or any sort of nonsense like that) lumbered into the train station at about 6:30 am on a drizzly, cool Southern California day.  Place of my birth. The palm trees, the smell of wet pavement (not a lot of dirt in the city), all so familiar and wonderful. Alfredo, one of the dear people who work for me (and our friend), brought our good old Toyota to meet us ~ we keep it at the Studio … then he hopped on the train to go back to Arroyo Grande. And we drove over to have breakfast with my mom! Clockwork like buttah.

And there she was. As totally happy as always, both of my parents had or have the happy gene. Never complaining, children of the Great Depression and of WWII, knowing value when they see it, in friends and family, and hard work, always accepting, and always trying their best to do “the right thing.” My mom is losing her memory, but not when it comes to me and Joe or the rest of her children. She knows us, which is such a blessing, and was as happy as we were to be together. We sang together,  Playmate, Come Out and Play with Me, 🎵and some Shirley Temple songs. (Myself, along with my siblings and family friends made her a “This is Your Life” photo album for her 80th birthday, and this photo, above, was part of it. She was only 15 in that picture.) I have to tell you, we are having an absolutely wonderful time. We’ve taken her to a few Dr. appointments, but nothing has been hurried. We had hot fudge sundaes on her birthday, she got lots of phone calls, visitors and cards, and she loved our presents, loved the wrapping paper, loved it all, and especially the plaid cashmere shawl we brought her from Scotland. My mom is in assisted living where she gets care, and meals and so forth. And we are staying nearby, in her old house.

I love staying in the house where she lived for so many years, because it is so “Mom.” Inside every cupboard, including the bathroom, is something she’s taped there, for inspiration, cut from a magazine or newspaper. Ten Best Foods for Energy.  Or Fifteen Ways to Challenge Your Mind.  Or, Five Books you Have To Read. She has notes on her fridge too . . . including this post-it note, written in her own handwriting. She has taken this adage to heart, and never complains. She is all about gratitude. I wob her very much. She turned 87 on February 27.

We visited with my mom for a few days, then we drove over to Palm Desert (73 degrees, soft breeze) to see my sisters, Mary and Shelly and Shelly’s twins. We had dinner with them, took the boys bowling, had a wonderful time! The twins are almost 14 now!  (Time! I am not thrilled with you! You are going too fast!)

Exhausting little moments, the next day we drove to Arizona to visit my Dad’s darling wife Jeanie,  to check on her and make sure that she and her sister, who lives with her, are okay. And they are, we spent all day yesterday catching up on missing hugs … and today we will go visit my dad’s grave. I’ve never seen Arizona so green, have you? When we are here, it’s usually pure, never-ending desert beige, but this time it’s beautiful, there are wildflowers everywhere, and the hillsides are dotted with friendly, waving, welcoming, cacti!

And, just because we’re traveling, does not mean the domestic things come to a halt. We just found a brand new use for the luggage rack in our motel room! Did laundry this morning, and now drying our precious socks (not in the machine, heaven forbid, we want them to last forever!)

So that about covers the today-ness of what’s going on. Now, for what you are all so patiently waiting for . . . Which comes from me to you

It’s time to announce the winners of our three brand new bone china cups! I am so happy we decided to put them up for presale, because if we had just waited until they arrived, we would have been sold out in the first week. 😢 Would have been sad.  Now we can add a few more to our order, and everyone will get one on the first go-round!!! Thank you! I am so glad you liked them. I really can’t wait till they arrive. BUT, until then, three of our darling Girlfriends will be lucky winners of these freebies right now.  Let me get Vanna . . . she’s sleeping in the car. She said she would rather sleep in the car than in a room where she would have to look at SOCKS drying on a luggage rack. To quote her, “Gross.” The princess doesn’t like our socks.  So she has her pillow with the hot pink silk case on it (to keep her hair smooth), and two of my Grandma’s nap blankets, and she is happy as a clam, and quiet as one too, as long as we keep her drugged and asleep. (Do you sometimes wonder if I am actually as totally normal as I tout to you sometimes? Me too. That’s why I have to keep saying it … and include YOU . . .)

Anyway, HERE WE GO.  Our first WINNER ~ for In Love With Nature a 16 oz., bone-china, “Made in England,” thin-lipped cup from heaven IS:

J O A N   H A G Y

SO HAPPY for you, Joan!!!

And, I looked and did find a photo of the BACK . . . so this is the back of In Love With Nature. I tried to make it utterly enchanting.💞

I did not have the picture of the FRONT of the Love Cup . . . this is the only one I can find, and it’s of the BACK . . . but all the art, on both sides, is different, it’s not just repeated.  I’ll take another photo of the other side to show you when I get back to the Island!  And so, here we go:  the WINNER of the LOVE Cup, another 16 oz., bone-china, “Made in England,” thin-lipped cup from heaven IS

C O N I   O S B O R N


AND, last but not least,  the WINNER of the LITTLE THINGS cup ~ one more 16 oz., bone-china, “Made in England,” thin-lipped cup, ALSO from heaven IS

C H R I S   W E L L S 

Another Red Letter Day for Chris!

And yes, I did take a photo of the back of this one . . .  Congratulations one and all . . . here’s a little round of applause!BUT, because I love you ALL, and because it’s just not fair that out of over 2,700 comments, there can only be three winners 😩 . . . I still have one more . . .

Tea Tins! I asked Vanna, because she was still sort of deliciously delirious and very malleable (relatively), if she could please pull three MORE names . . . which she did. And SO, Girlfriends REBECCA SULCER, PAULETTE GRIMSBO, and PAT ADDISON (in Cave Junction) will each be receiving one of my Tea Tins, plus a bag of whichever kind of tea she would most like to have ~ right away. I’ll be sending emails to each of our six winners today, to tell them that they won, and to ask for addresses for when the cups arrive (we are shooting for pre Mother’s Day, timing-wise, but please don’t hold me to it!), and also, addresses for the Tea Tins, which will be sent to the LUCKY winners immediately.💞

Our private blends of tea are the prettiest, freshest, and most flavorful if I do say so myself, since I’m the one that gets to choose the ingredients for each of them! And we also carry those little round wire balls you can fill with the loose tea and set into your cup or teapot to steep if you need one.

I have one more great idea for a “sweetener for tea” (besides love and scandal ~~ How Downton Abbey!). . .  the recipe for Orange Marmalade Cake! Making this cake, I hope, will make everyone feel like the winner that you actually already ARE!

I’ll put the full recipe at the bottom, so you can print it out. Don’t worry about amounts here, this is just for the basic How To. First you start with a jar of thick-cut orange Marmalade. Luckily we had brought this home from England with us . . . and it was perfect. But you can get the good stuff in any grocery store.

It should be full of rough-cut orange-peel. This is also fabulous on buttered toast, btw. And as many of you know, it makes a delicious jam mixed with my Cranberry Sauce. I know, I digress, but I can’t help it . . . no matter the season, when I think of this easy recipe, my mouth begins to water, and I have to give it!

3 c. fresh, washed, cranberries
1 c. sugar
(That’s 3 parts cranberries (frozen are fine) to one part sugar (this recipe serves six, you don’t have to make that much if you don’t need it). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the cranberries into an ungreased casserole and pour the sugar over, don’t stir. Put into oven, stirring occasionally as they cook, until the berries just begin to pop, about 35 min. Remove from oven, serve hot or cold with chicken dinners, or even with chocolate cake.  Mix the leftover cranberrie sauce half and half with pre-made orange marmalade, pour into jars . . .  delicious on scones, toast, Boston Brown Bread, and biscuits, and wonderful as a tea-time gift for your friends.❤️

Okay, back to the cake . . .

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter a loaf pan. Into a med-sized mixing bowl, pour ¾ c. granulated sugar over a stick and a half of room temperature unsalted butter.

Use your nifty microplane zester (or grater) to take the zest from one lime . . . add it to the bowl along with . . .

The zest of a half of an orange.

Pull out your trusty hand mixer, and cream everything together, for maybe five minutes, scraping down the bowl every so often …

Until the batter is light and fluffy and speckled with colorful citrus peel . . .

Beat in three large room-temperature eggs, one at a time,

Then add  ⅓c. marmalade, and 2 TB. fresh orange juice from the zested orange . . .

In another bowl, whisk together 1 ½ c. unsifted flour (stir lightly with fork before measuring), 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, and ¾ tsp. salt.

With a spatula, fold dry ingredients into batter until just combined . . .

Put the batter into the buttered loaf pan and into the oven for about 50 min . . .

. . . until lightly brown and a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and set the cake upright on a wire rack to cool ten minutes. (Put the rack on a cookie sheet so when you spoon on the glaze (below), the pan will catch the drips).

Make the Marmalade Glaze as the cake bakes . . .  Put ⅓c. marmalade into a small saucepan over low heat until melted; stir in ¼ c. powdered sugar, and 1 TB. butter until melted.

Spoon warm glaze over slightly-cooled cake and let some drizzle down the sides. Cool completely (if you can) before slicing.

And voila! Zee Marmalade Cake in all her glory. Good enough, I daresay, for Vanna!

I cut mine in half and took part to my next-door girlfriend Lowely.

And that’s it, all that’s left is to do the dishes . . . so easy!

And so, another blog post is coming to an end. I have just a couple more things to show you before I get into the car and resume normal programming with the ever-patient man of my dreams. First off, there is a very famous portrait artist by the name of Sue Shanahan who also, in her spare time, writes for the Huffington Post. (Leave a comment, and make Sue’s day!) She did this painting of me and Jack as a surprise, and sent it to me a couple of days ago. I’m never wild about having my picture taken, but I think she did a wonderful job, catching me on one of my “better” days (actually, not catching me, but “giving” me one of my better days! Jack, as always, is perfect!). Sue interviewed me before we went away to England last year, but I forgot all about it, and suddenly, she sent me this with a link to her post . . . which I wanted to send to you. Go to Sue’s blog to see more of her art and if you enjoy reading her inspirational take on life, you’ll find a link there to sign up for her email list. 💞

And speaking of Jack, it’s check in time! Barbara, Jack’s other kitty mommy, is home with him and phoned in this photo . . . he looks pretty well-loved to me! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him quite this relaxed!

Last but not least, our Twitter Girlfriend, Karen @ksettel, cut this from the February page of her wall-calendar, and hung it on her wall for a reminder, then she put a picture of it on Twitter and said hello to me!  I’m putting it here, hoping all of you have only Red Letter Days! Your 2700+ wonderful comments were, each and every one, amazing, sweet, loving, funny, happy, Everything! ❤️ Thank you for being here! See you soon!

M A R M A L A D E    C A K E

  • 1 ½ sticks butter (¾c.), room temp.
  • ¾c. granulated sugar
  • zest of one lime
  • zest of ½ orange
  • 3 lg. eggs, room temp.
  • ⅓ c. rough-cut orange marmalade (and another ⅓ c. below, for Glaze)
  • 2 TB. fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 ½ c. all-purpose flour, fluff with fork before measuring
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer (hand or otherwise), about 5 min, until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl periodically.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in  ⅓c. marmalade and the orange juice.  In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Fold them gently into the batter until just combined. Put batter into loaf pan and bake 50 min. until golden brown ~ knife into center of cake should come out clean. Remove from oven and cool 10 min. Put a wire rack on a cookie sheet. Turn cake out of pan and place it on rack right-side- up. While cooling, prepare Glaze:

In small saucepan, heat together until melted: ⅓c. marmalade, 1 Tb. butter, ¼c. powdered sugar. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake, allowing Glaze to drizzle down sides. Cool completely before serving.💛

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607 Responses to ROAD TRIP and LUV-LEE GIVEAWAY

  1. Rene Foust says:

    Congratulations to everyone!!!

    Thanks for the recipe enjoy your time in California and train travel sounds perfect.

  2. Penny Harrison - Oceanside, CA says:

    Yay! Another happy blog! The picture of your beautiful mother is awesome and the painting of you is wonderful 🙂 – and the cake recipe sounds delicious – will be trying it soon! Glad you are having a good visit out here in the west – yes, are the green hills beautiful to behold!!!

  3. Jane Alexander says:

    You, dear girl, are a blessing to all of us. Each one of us know we matter. Thank you for showing us the way to find good in every day. Hugs, love and prayers to you and Joe, and your family.

  4. heidi says:

    Oh, do enjoy the travel across America!! And the OM cake looks divine and a keeper.

  5. Diane Scharf says:

    Hi Susan! Love the polka dot blouse in your portrait.

  6. What a wonderful blog post, Susan! I loved reading about your trip, your wonderful mom’s birthday(my mom is 85!!), and the delicious cake! And a great big congrats to all of the winners, too. Hugs!!!

  7. AngieTink says:

    Good~Monday~Morning Sweet~Sue 🙂 Wonderful Way To Begin The Day Sipping A Fresh~Cuppa~Coffee & Reading Your Blog~Post 🙂 I’m Happy You & Joe Are Having a Delightful~Trip!!! Birthday~Hugzzz To Your Beloved~Mommy (From~Me) 🙂 I’m Happy Jeanie Is Well & Has Her Sister To Keep Her Company & I LOVED The Photo On Twitter Of Your Twin~Nephews They Are So Cute! & Growing~Up So Fast! Hugzzz To Them & Shelly! 🙂 Yesterday My Triplet~Nieces Turned 13!!! Miranda & Marissa & Miss~Megan~Pie 🙂 🙂 🙂 Oh My Goodness! & Our Taylor Turns 13 On April 7th!!! 🙂 (April~Baby~Like~You!) 🙂 All The Babies Are Growing~Up! 😉 Yikes! 🙂 Also Here In Florida We Are In Full~SpringTime & Yesterday Herbster & Me…We Went To The Strawberry~Festival… It Was So Much Fun & We’ll Be Eating Strawberries For a Week! Yay! & Yum! 🙂 Are You Getting Very Excited About Your “Hollywood~Meeting” ????? OMG! This Week! My Wings~Are~Crossed For You Sweet~Sue! Sending You Love & Hugzzz xoxo #Poof! P.S. Congratz To All “The~Winners” Very Lucky~Girlfriends! P.P.S. An Extra Hug For Vanna Well~Done! 😉

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Sweetie, enjoy those spring time strawberries! Yes, very excited about the meeting on Saturday! I feel like it’s a meeting that could last all day with all we have to talk about! Can’t believe we have all these 13 year olds when just yesterday they were only four! xoxoxo

      • AngieTink says:

        Sweet~Sue 🙂 I Know! “All These New~Teenagers!!!” I Remember Being “13” 😉 OMG! 🙂 I Do Believe It Shall Be A Very Long Magical~Meeting…. I’m Twirling For You! Hugzzz Love & Always Lots Of Pixie~Dust!!! 🙂 😉 🙂

  8. Shellie L. says:

    I cannot WAIT to try this recipe!

    Thank you for the wonderful blog post. Safe travels!

  9. LOVE the portrait! It is such a good likeness!!!! Also, you inspired me to get my linens ironed! And starched (although only spray starched). The linens languish at the bottom of the HUGE ironing pile that I have — sometimes they languish for a year until I get to them. But now they are all ready to be put away or used!! YAY!

  10. Rosinda says:

    Congratulations to all the lucky winners! I’m so glad I pre-ordered my two mugs. Beyond excited to receive them. Happy Monday, Susan! Thank you for being YOU and for spreading so much love and joy around. Love you! XO

  11. Lisa True Grady says:

    Hello Susan…Just finished reading your book “Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams”. It is the second book I’ve borrowed from my little Yarmouth Port, MA library. The first was Grace Taber (of course! can’t move to the Cape without reading Still Cove!). As with most things in life, I am a late bloomer, so I am just discovering these gems now – perhaps out of need for calm and connection in the day to day chaos. In my recent past, I put together speaker programs for the Stowe (VT) Free Library and hope that if you haven’t visited the Yarmouth Port Library, perhaps I can ask them to invite you. No planes involved! PS – I too am descended from a witch. Mine (Mary Bradbury) in her 70’s, somehow “escaped”. Enjoy your travels, family and friends. In the meantime, that marmalade cake was made for a cold Cape Cod morning!

    • sbranch says:

      Loved hearing from you Lisa! Would be fun to visit the Library … Here’s to late bloomers and to our witch ancestors, I’m so glad yours escaped!! I hope she put a pox on those crazed accusers! xoxo

      • Lisa True Grady says:

        I’ve heard that Mary turned them into blue boars. Certainly keeps my husband on his toes! Hope I can work some magic on the library…will keep you posted!

  12. Mary/Indiana says:

    Train car…
    How Fun is that! Love the Miracle Mile, too!
    Cute socks, too!!! Happy Birthday, Mom❤
    Can’t wait to make the Orange Marmalade

    Thanks for Sharing and Caring❤

  13. Kathy says:

    I want to travel by train some day! Ahhhh lovely and much better than air travel. Sue Shanahan is undoubtedly a wonderful portrait artist, but any artist is only as good as her subjects! You look like your beautiful mom – how could you be anything but gorgeous in a portait? And of course Jack is just a natural!

  14. Rose Utterback says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. I was in Paso Robles this past weekend to enjoy the Madonna show in San Luis Obispo. Love that beautiful area, esp. now that the hills are green.

  15. Claudia says:

    Hi Susan,
    You might want to contact Jennifer Weiner (author of IN HER SHOES)(and several additional novels.) She might have pointers/tips to steer you through morass of screenwriting of tv/movie pilot. Her latest HUNGRY HEART may be helpful too. (also has blog)

  16. Sonja C says:

    Thanks for another wonderful blog post. My husband and I just retired last year and one of the things on our “to do” list is to take a cross country train trip. Yours looked wonderful. Also thank you for the pictures that you post of your little puss Jack, we lost our sweet Gussie a year ago and still miss him so. We are not to the point of thinking that we can have another yet, but maybe someday.
    We are traveling to England week after next and I will be thinking of you, we are visiting one of your favorite places, Emma Bridgewater factory. I always spend way too much money when I get to go there!! Have fun on the rest of your travels!!!

    • sbranch says:

      You are in for a fun time! Are you going to paint your own cup? They let you, then they fire it and it will be waiting when you get home!

  17. Laura S. Alabama says:

    I love that your sisters are “Mary” and “Shelly”… and you’re the writer! haha. I’m not a huge fan of orange marmalade but I have to say, that cake looks delicious. I believe I will make it as soon as I can get to the store and get the ingredients.
    That painting of you is good. When I saw the pic and before I read who did it, I thought perhaps you had done it and it made me think of something…I believe I recall reading that you didn’t find out that you could paint until in your 30s? If so, how did you find out? Had you taken any classes? Did you just buy paints and start? I’d be curious to hear how you began that process.

    • sbranch says:

      Mary Stewart too! Yes, I didn’t know I could paint until I was 30 … got a gift certificate and bought watercolors . . . I wrote all about it in my book The Fairy Tale Girl. It’s kind of a long story. Because of course I didn’t think I could do it. I put a photo of my first painting in that book. What a surprise that was!!! Changed my life. Gift from God. xoxo

  18. Jane Armour says:

    Love your posts! They always make me happy!

  19. Valerie Johnson in Weatherford, Texas :) says:

    Oh good! So glad you posted some pictures of the backs of the cups. I was wondering and that has helped me make a decision (which one I want first)! Loved the picture of Jackeepoo! He’s so dang cute! My kitty is in the chair next to me making growly humming noises in his sleep. Sounds I’ve never heard coming from him. ??? Lol Praying that yall have a wonderful and safe trip.

  20. Jane Armour says:

    Just curious about how you keep Vanna “drugged and sleeping”. Would that perhaps include a wee drop of whiskey in her nightly chamomile tea?🙃

    • sbranch says:

      Yup. What ever it takes when we are on the road, because otherwise, her antsy-ness would keep us up all night! A wee drop is more than enough for her, she is a very cheap date! 😁 (The way this is going, someday I will have to write a book entitled The Life and Times of Miss Vanna!)

      • FayE in CA! says:

        SO funny…before I read the end of your reply I thought…she should write a sweet and twisted tale of Vanna…

        Like minds are crazy together!! 💗💗💗

        Cheers too your day and GOOD LUCK on Saturday. Your mind will be reeling when you walk out of that meeting.

  21. kathiellen says:

    Dear Susan,
    Good Monday morning to you! I am wondering where you and Joe are off to today? I hope that the sun is shining and you will have a perfect day! I was sooooo happy to see that a dear friend of mine, Rebecca Sulcer, won your cute tea-tin and tea!!! She is very excited about it and so am I!!
    I love your new blog! Susan, Your mother has the face of an angel!! …..and from reading everything that you have written about her, I can tell that she has the heart of an angel too! I don’t need to tell you how blessed you are to have her, but I will! When you were born your mother couldn’t have had a clue that her sweet, precious baby girl would grow up and so lovingly touch the hearts and lives of so many people! She has to be bursting with pride for all that you are and all that you do!!
    I can’t wait to make that Orange marmalade cake! It sounds and looks incredibly good!! Today I will bake a Banana Chiffon Cake ( Art’s favorite ). I am in the process of re-painting my cute “Little-Lady” stove like yours. So far, it is looking really good. I will send you a picture when it is finished. Enjoy the rest of your visit and have an enjoyable, safe trip home!

    • sbranch says:

      How fun that you know Rebecca! Makes us even more of a Girlfriends club! We’re heading back to my Mom’s in LA this morning. We decided to visit her 3 times while we are here, and do other things in the middle, so she can have us, then rest a bit, then get us again, then rest, and then one more time. I know she won’t be sick of us by the time we leave, but I want her to feel rightly “visited.” Can’t wait to see your stove!

  22. Susan says:

    Enjoyed your latest blog. Just wanted to let you know of a national Canadian treasure, Stuart McLean. Sadly, he passed away last month but his words are being remembered. Stuart was an excellent storyteller on the CBC for many years. Please go to the web and look up the Vinyl Cafe for pure enjoyment. It would be lovely to listen to and relax on your train travel back. Enjoy your holidays!

    • sbranch says:

      He reminds me a little bit of Garrison Keillor … SUCH a loss:

      “We do this thing. We open our hearts to the world around us. And the more we do that, the more we allow ourselves to love, the more we are bound to find ourselves one day – like Dave, and Morley, and Sam, and Stephanie – standing in the kitchen of our home, surrounded by the ones we love, and feeling empty, and alone, and sad, and lost for words, because one of our loved ones, who should be there, is missing. Mother or father, brother or sister, wife or husband, or a dog or cat. It doesn’t really matter. After a while, each death feels like all the deaths, and you stand there like eveyone else has stood there before you, while the big wind of sadness blows around and through you.
      “He was a great dog,” said Dave.
      “Yes,” said Morley. “He was a great dog.” ❤️ Stuart McLean RIP

      • sylvia in seattle says:

        I will miss him too. Used to listen to Stuart McLean on Sunday morning right after Prairie Home Companion. Fun stories and great music. Sending condolences to Canada.

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        This is such a perfect remembrance and the essence of Stuart McLean. We’ll all miss him. Thank you, Susan.

        Debbie in Tampa…for now

        • Kat Fry on Rose Creek Farm says:

          Another perfect reason why I love all of us Girlfriends so much! I had no idea others were in love with Stuart McLean like I am! And now I feel like my sadness is shared. Aren’t we all so wonderful. That was a great quoted piece of his Susan. Just a perfect piece.
          He is loved & missed by so many.

          • sbranch says:

            We really can’t afford to lose thinkers like Stuart McLean . . . but thank goodness his words will survive forever. xoxo

  23. Carol Kennedy says:

    On kind of a down day I read your blog. Thanks to your wonderful writing and beautiful artwork, as well as lovely photos, my mood is much improved!!! Thank you for all you do to make the days more enjoyable and beautiful. Your talent for doing so is a gift from God!!!

  24. Barb Gentile says:

    Thank you for sharing your Mother’s refrigerator posts. I love the one about not complaining of old age. As I am pushing 70 and look back at the friends I’ve lost to cancer, etc…..I have to be reminded that it is a privilege to be here. Life is wonderful!!

  25. Pat Emsley says:

    That Red Letter Day thing from the calendar would make a great bookmark. Hint, hint!

  26. Cara M. from West Chester PA says:

    Thank you for your wonderful blog, Susan!! That recipe sounds delish! I think I will try it this weekend. Have a blessed and wonderful visit with your family and safe travels. Your blog is so heart warming-many blessings to your mom. My mom ‘s birthday is tomorrow, 71. I’m surprising her with her favorite cake.
    Happy travels!!

  27. Carolyn says:

    Hi Susan,

    Just had to drop you a quick note. On CBS Sunday Morning they had a little piece on berets. Made me think of you and Joe. Wanted to make sure you got to see it.

    Enjoy your road trip! We all love to go along with you!!


  28. Bev Brewer says:

    Hi to Susan and Joe—was thinking about you when you traveled to AZ–you were on my mind that day so much. So glad you have your wonderful Joe beside you. Thought the portrait of you and Jack was so pretty and I agree with other GFs that it seemed like a self portrait in your lovely painting style—so cute to see Jack’s paws dangling over the border and the lime green background highlighting his jade green eyes. Hope the rest of your trip is joyful and carefree and warm and sunny and full of sweet memories in the making. Love to you both from Bev

    • sbranch says:

      Thinking of you too, Bev, as we slid through Carefree, on our way north, Joe asked about you . . . remembering our meeting again in Prescott. xoxo Love back to you. See you again, I’m sure!

  29. Toni from Sylvania OH says:

    Hi Susan…what a delightful post…just LOVED it! So glad you are able to visit your Mom again. I had my wonderful Mother til last year, March 21st. She was 100yrs., 6 months and 23 days. She was so interested in all of our comings and goings..(there was a lot since there were 7 of us). Her eyes sparkled, and her smile was always there…always cheerful…positive…truly one of the last of the ‘GREATEST GENERATION.’ We knew that she was REALLY getting tired and she tried to understand why God wasn’t ready for her yet. She died with dignity, just as she had lived with dignity and that ever-ready smile and never ending energy. What a darling gift she was. We are so thankful:-))) We all are ‘no spring chickens’, but still have big shoes to fill. Have a womderful Apple Festival and a fun trip home….with love and prayers, Toni from Sylvania, OH xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      How lucky you were to have had her for so long. It’s a gift that she was allowed dignity. It makes the letting go a bit easier, at least for me, that my parents have had such long accomplished lives. xoxo

  30. Charissa says:

    So happy to see that you are having fun on your trip. I love your inventive use of your luggage rack I am so doing that! I am thrilled for you that you got to spend time with your mom. What a lovely sentiment on the card and even lovelier picture of her. Family time means so much and as I age it seems to mean more and more. I was sorry to hear of your mother’s memory problems, but happy to hear that she remembers you. What a generous giveaway and so thrilled that my penpal (YAAAY, Pat) and Chris Wells from Knickerbocker, TX so excited when someone I recognize wins and they are both such sweeties. Thrilled for the other winners too!!! (it was just so fun recognize these two:)) Thank you so much for the recipe. OM is my step fathers favorite and i will send it to my mom to make for him. It is so nice that you are going to see Jeannie. I am sure that really means a lot to her and i am happy to hear she has her sister with her. I LOVED your portrait. I saw it on twitter first and went right over to Sue Shanahan’s blog and left her a comment. She sure is talented and I love her PLP series. She responded. We made each other’s day:) I am also so happy for you and your wonderful mug sales. I knew they would be a big hit. They are just so darling. My brother ordered me 1. I ordered the other and the last is on my birthday list. We are just back form a quick trip to DC. Our hotel (Park Hyatt) had something they called “The Tea Cellar” with 50 types of tea that they serve in a darling glass teapot and glass stand with an oil candle that, at night, lights up your table like a lamp. On Sunday they have a tea service that you can make reservations for with sandwiches, scones, and pastries. Otherwise, you can drop in anytime and order off the tea menu and you don’t have to be staying there to go. We had a lovely time and went there 4 times in 3 days. I highly recommend the Canadian Ice Wine tea and the Freak of Nature oolong. They were excellent. I love earl grey, but I would skip it there. It wasn’t bad, but not great either. Just thought any tea lovers might want to know. Safe travels to you and wishing all good things. Cant wait to hear about your meeting under the Hollywood sign:)))) xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      That just sounds delightful Charissa! Washington DC is such a pretty city … Need to go back and try those teas! Love to your kind brother, from me! xoxo

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        hey there girlfriend, thanks for the congrats…. I’m still in shock that I won something goes to show you how often I win anything. hope all is going well with you these days. off to go check on the barnyard brats and get busy cleaning out the pen, the weather has finally settled down a little and for now the rain has stopped so I can get out there and get a start on the clean up. talk later….. hugs…. 🙂

  31. Nancy McCarty says:

    That cake!!! Luck Lowely!!! Friends are the BEST!!!

  32. Cyndi in NC says:

    I’m glad you had such a great visit with your Mom for her birthday. I will be seeing my Mom this week. She is in an assisted living home too and she just turned 87 last month. I lost Dad last year so it’s hard for us all too. We’ll be there on the 12th which will be a year. We’ll also stay at her house, but the decision to sell the house has been made and we will be ring special pieces for furniture back to NC with us. I cry every time I think of it but that’s how it will be. The house will still be with us for a while, there is a lot to go through!

    But to lighter things, the cake sounds wonderful and of course the room with a view. I loved the pic of Arizona, I’ve never seen it so green! I usually get out there for the brown! *L*

    The pic of Jack made me smile as always. He’s happy because he is loved. Such a sweet boy!! Hugs to all.

    • sbranch says:

      We are all about decision making on this trip, which I really do not care for! But it’s our job as the children to do this for our beloveds. Best to you Cyndi!

  33. Kathryn Oliberos says:

    As usual I love to read about your travels and your family stories. You have a way of just drawing us in. We r close in age so many of the things u write about triggers a memory for me. Always good memories! Thank you . Have decided one of our up and coming trips to Calif. will have to b on the train. I am looking forward to another kind of adventure! Be safe and added blessings!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s not exactly flinging yourself off a bridge with a giant rubber band on your ankle, but train travel is still an adventure! Softer, more gentle, the rocking, eating kind!

  34. Natalie says:

    I think we are all winners for getting your recipe for Orange Marmalade Cake. I made it over the weekend and it was heavenly. Of course, it is all gone now and I can’t stop thinking about it ;). Loving all the trip updates. Sue Shanahan’s portrait of you and Jack such a gift. Thank you for introducing Sue to us. Her website very calming and inspirational.

    • sbranch says:

      Our first review! Yay, Natalie, I’m so glad you liked it! My pleasure, re Sue Shanahan. She’s talented on so many levels. xoxo

  35. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Congratulations to each of the very lucky winners !!!!!! So happy for them!!! You are very generous!!!!! Your trip seems so wonderful, filled with family and new memories made! What a gift for you to be able to celebrate with your mother on her 87th Birthday!!! When I read of her losing her memory my tears fell…….I am so sorry Susan. I can not imagine. Your mother I will write her name in my personal prayer journal I keep after praying the rosary in the mornings, and pray for her……..she is so special, as she created you, and what you are all about! I then had to smile when you mentioned all of the little notes, throughout her house that she’s taped up with sayings…….sounds like that’s where you acquired the interest in quotes, and sayings!!!! We are our mother’s daughters!!!!!!!! How does that happen? She is your gift Susan, such a treasure!!!!! Wishing you lots of good luck on Saturday when you meet with the movie person!!!! You will do great!!! My fingers and toes will be crossed for you!!!! I will be on the island being with my dad, visiting, cooking, cleaning, and laughing alot! At 92 1/2 he says that “every day is a good day”. My hubby and I just hold our breath when he gets on his little moped and goes into town, we worry, but he’s so independent that you can not tell him otherwise. Everyday he finds a way to “be naughty”!!!! (Lots of prayers!) Take care of yourself and God Bless!

    • sbranch says:

      That would have been my dad too, on a moped, till the end. Scaring everyone to pieces! He’s living LIFE. More power to him. We just have to say, You Go Boy, while we hold our breaths. Thank you for your prayers, Carilyn! Hugs to your family!

  36. Judy Zobel says:

    Oh, thank goodness your blog arrived. Got up this morning and was listening to the news (never good nowadays) and I was suddenly depressed when, lo and behold, YOUR BLOG! Poured a cup of coffee, turned on the musica, and proceeded to immerse myself in your travels. The twins just made my day. Thank you for doing this. Now…onward and upward with this day!

  37. Jamie says:

    Always love reading your posts. Thank you for showing pictures of the back of the anticipated mugs. So looking forward to that first cup of tea in it. The cake recipe sounds yummy.

  38. Sherill Anderson says:

    Dear Susan, have you considered a 7″x9″ spiral yearly calendar? That is the kind I like best and would love to see your art on my calendar each day. For now, I must use a 7″x9″ calendar by another artist who shall be nameless. Thank you! Sherill Anderson

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve had a book of days, is that what you mean?

      • Sherill Anderson says:

        Not sure what that is. I couldn’t find it on your website. This calendar shows a week per page and has a spiral on the left. Hope this is clear! Thanks! (Snow here in Seattle–quite unusual for March.)

        • sbranch says:

          Yes, I’ve done those, not sure if we’re out of stock or not. Mine had the spiral, but it was a hard cover that went around it on the outside. Called DAYS from the Heart of the Home. Gorgeous down here in California!

  39. Jeannie says:

    Oh Susan! The portrait is So You and Jack!!! Beautiful and full of love, fun and mischief (Jack)! Susan, have you read Jan Karon’s books? There is a marmalade cake in the Father Tim series. Read them, you’ll love them! Your cake sounds easy to make and delicious! I will definetly try it! I love the desert in the spring, your pics are beautiful! Have a wonderful rest of your trip, so excited about your meeting at the Hollywood sign!
    Blessings to you and Joe,

    Chirp Chirp!!!

    Oh, congratulations to all the winners! So exciting!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I did, but it was so long ago, I have to go find my copy and take a look at that recipe!!! Thank you Jeannie!

  40. Dorothy says:

    Rainy day baking! Made the OM cake with Bob’s Red Mills GF Baking Flour (my husband’s preferred GF flour). It is awesome and moist! The taste reminded us of an orange frosted cookie that his mom made at Christmas, minus her signature cigarette smoke smell that she freely added – LOL

    • sbranch says:

      Ha ha ha, those were the days! Thanks for the GF info, lots of people will appreciate that, including me!

      • Judy Young says:

        Me too, it’s hard trying to bake with gluten free flour and have whatever you are making not be all crumbly! I will try Bob’s Red Mill GF flour. I was using Cup 4 Cup flour that I got from Williams Sonoma at $16 a bag. Just checked the expiration date and it is about to expire.

  41. sylvia in seattle says:

    Loving the GREEN videos of AZ desert/cactus and CA hills with white propeller “cactus”. Are those great looking socks drying on the luggage rack from Scotland? I’m envious. Your new coat is gorgeous too. I’m searching for chunky cut marmalade. I want to try that cake before the next diet – which MUST happen soon. OOOOh, and what a beautiful cashmere wrap you gave to your Mom 🙂 So nice for her. Happy travels to you. I love tagging along here.

  42. Lisa Tawney says:

    Hello Susan! I love reading about your yearly train trip. Sounds like a wonderful time. I can’t talk my husband into it . . . Yet! Thanks for the tips on starching. I have an abundance of old linens and this will be better than the canned starch. That never does the job. I have a question about the recipe. It looks divine. I’m wondering if you’ve tried making it with other types of preserves? Im thinking apricot might be lovely as well.

    • sbranch says:

      Why not? I think mixing one of them with pineapple would be good too. Lots of things could be done with this cake!

  43. Fran P. says:

    I’ve loved everything “Susan Branch” for well over 20 years! I look forward to reading the blog. Always save the emails I get as well. What a talented lady!!

  44. Rebecca Starr says:

    Hi Susan…went to “T Pier” in Morro Bay today. Lots (!) of mama otters with their babies…so precious. Hope you can drop by when you are in the area. Not often you get to see them that close.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure we will be there… we love Morro Bay and we love Camrbia, so … you can see the situation. xoxo

  45. Nicole Flynn says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to the capitol. Especially in March, to see the Cherry Blossoms.

  46. Jill smith says:

    Enjoyed tour travelogue. Just returned from a Boston, via air. Would much rather go by train but that would take time away from my grandkids. I would love to do the trip home to Ca and see the country on the ground. So I appreciate your sharing with us. Happy birthday to your mom, how lucky you are to have her! Love the tea cups! We spent a week in Morro Bay, still miss your store

    • sbranch says:

      We’re heading up that way tomorrow, looking forward to seeing that big rock in that sparkling ocean on our way up to Cambria!

  47. Marie Knight (Long Beach, CA) says:

    Another beautiful post! It makes me so happy you and Joe are having such a fantastic time. Life is crazy good! xoxoxo

  48. charissa says:


  49. Your posts always put sunshine into my day. Believe me we need that here with the weather we are having.. Not complaining though as I try to find a little bit of sunshine in something every day. So on with my frog rain boots and warm jacket and down the road I go to get the mail.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, March can be SUCH a long month. Extra care needs to be made for enjoyment. Time to go get some daffodils, make something in the crock pot, light candles, get an old movie . . . iron antique linens for the summer table!

  50. Sandy Artman says:

    Always makes my day to read your posts, Susan. Thank you for the Marmalade Cake recipe, it looks so good I can almost taste it! What a wonderful portrait of you and your beloved, Jack…and I told Sue so, too. Blessings for safe travel and a joy-filled birthday celebration with your mom. Natural beauty is right!

  51. Debbie Boerger says:

    OLD HOUSES. Sue, have you read any of Rumer Godden’s books? I had to tell you about her Fugue in Time, which I just completed. I know you’d love it, or I think you would. She used an unusual format to tell the story of the house and its multi generational family. London, mid 1800’s to WWll. The house is a major character, in a way. I adored it, and was thinking of you and your old house.

    Looking forward to more California adventures.

    With gratitude,
    Debbie in Tampa….for now

  52. Karen says:

    Are all comments welcomed? I wonder why my thank you’s are never posted.

    • sbranch says:

      Are you sure you’re pushing the comment button? Because I publish all the comments I find here! 💞 Like this one, here you are!

      • Karen says:

        Yes, I am- that is why I asked right here in the same way. It always states its is waiting to be posted/reviewed. I ask it has been more than several times and maybe I was not aware of member joining or what mistake I was making. Thank you for replying!

        • sbranch says:

          Not always, but often, I’m sure. Because I’m traveling, driving and taking my mom to lunch and to doctors and things, and I’m the one who has to “moderate” the comments (so that I don’t let in the 2,000 lbs of spam that wants to join the party and uglify a perfectly lovely blog site!) — which means, I sometimes get behind, and comments hang out here in the back room way too long. But sooner or later I return, they are all “moderated” and aren’t deleted. You aren’t doing anything wrong ~ just me being late, as usual!

  53. Jill says:

    I am almost 73 and my spry, warm and loved-by-all mother, Evelyn, who passed away a year and a half ago at age 97, sang the “Playmate” song to me and my siblings and remembered every word! What wonderful memories your illustrations and rendition bring to warm my heart. Never apologize for your singing voice. . .not only is it good, but if you sounded like Celine Dion it would not remind me of my mother!

    • sbranch says:

      This is very good to know! I will give up trying! 😜 Your mom sounds like a true doll. Lovely memories. xoxo

  54. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    good morning Susan, Girlfriends. that marmalade cake looks so good, but where can I find a good marmalade to use on the cake??? the ones in the stores here are those runny ones they sell in the popular brands, I was wondering where I could pick up the brand you use anywhere in this country… like maybe at a Trader Joe’s or Costco or someplace like that??? I wonder if the kitchen shop might carry that… hmm have to look there or maybe the teapot on wheels might carry some and sell it??? worth a look, and a cup of hot tea!!! have a great ay today…. hugs….. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I never have a problem finding good thick-cut marmalade here, you’re just right, Costco or Trader Joe’s, or a kitchen shop, all of them should have it. We do have it in our supermarket too… I just happened to have that bottle we brought home from England.

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        FYI … Williams Sonoma carries Fortnum & Mason orange marmalade 🙂 They also have darling Peter Rabbit spatulas in their Easter section ♥ xoxo

  55. Cissy says:

    Dear Susan,
    You will have a fantastic visit with your family….and traveling by train is so relaxing. I always travel from New England to the South to visit by train, no planes for me! LOL! I also want to congratulate all the lucky winners of the China Mugs and tea tins!
    Blessings ~ Cissy

  56. Candice says:

    Sue, I love the coat you got in Scotland and went to the site you referenced. I don’t know British sizing. What size did you get? (And I also have to figure out what 199 pounds is worth.)

    • sbranch says:

      I forget, and now I’m too far from the coat to check (in CA). Just look at Brit sizes compared to USA — you can google it. I either wear a 14 or a 12 in Brit sizes. 199 pounds is worth about $265 dollars. But you can also Google that “what is 199 pounds worth in dollars.” Hope this helps Candice, I love that coat, and think you will too!

      • Candice says:

        It comes in pink, which is tempting me. A little scary to order from afar, though, in case it doesn’t fit right.Thanks, though. Post a picture of you in yours sometime.

  57. Sara says:

    Your train ride looked lovely. ❤ I just came back from Florida and took a plane. A train ride looks so much nicer!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s the difference between night and day. The only thing a plane is good for, is if time is of the essence. Otherwise, the air is better, the food is better, the getting on and off is better, the luggage carrying ability is a million times better . . . the view is better, let’s see, what else, the adventure is better. You have a closet for your coat, you wear your socks and slippers and you bring your tea pot and your pillow. Try it sometime!

  58. Betsy Stevenson says:

    I am at Loma Linda hospital taking a brief break from sitting at my very very very sick sisters side and cheering her on which I am good at because Im the big sis! I read your blog and realizrd that you are in ca. I wanted to tell you about a very special woman, Teresa Laws. She is an ardent long time member of the Beatrix Potter society and has a wonderful restaurant and delightful shop that is an anglaphiles dream up in the apple growing town, Oak Glen. She is truly 99 years young and still sews aprons and totbags from her british fabric.She will tell you delightful stories. The last time I visited she opened a box , pulled aside tissue and rbealed exquisite baby christening gowns from the late 1800s and had family stories of the babies that wore them.

    • sbranch says:

      I love her already. And you too . . . sending blessings and prayers for your little sister. xoxo

  59. Cheryl in Lake Arrowhead says:

    My sister and I LOVE your blog! It’s so charming and comforting…with truly look forward to reading every post. I will see u in SLO! so looking forward to the weekend at Apple Farm!

  60. Holly Field says:

    Wow, so many comments! I loved your post! Photos are amazing. You & your family will be in my prayers. My father died in August of Alzheimer’s, so I know the heartbreak firsthand. Of all the kids, he only remembered me, which hurt them a bit. My next door sister and I cared for him the last six months, and love that we had the opportunity. I know you will cherish your visit.
    Enjoy CA, I grew up north of SF, and would love a visit. Thank you for sending us a wonderful post. P.s. I’m making your recipe tonight, yum!!

    • sbranch says:

      Cherish is the right word. When we hug I want it to be like the movie Ghost, where people could walk into people and be them! xoxo

  61. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    well the marmalade they sell t our store is dreadful, it is definitely not like that nice thick one you use, its runny has no taste to it, just sickly sweet. okay I know we have a Trader Joe’s in Medford so next trip there will look it up and go find some decent marmalade. thanks, I know I will definitely hit the Kitchen Shop in town, been dying to snoop around in there, now I have a good excuse….. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Remember when they had them in every town? Love the ones we still have ~ we have a great on on Martha’s Vineyard, such a fun kind of store to poke around in even if I don’t buy anything!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        I remember!! they were fun to go in and just look around, and such neat items. of course my favorite poking around I do online at the Vermont Country Store, I just got my home butter churn from there, and much to my delight and surprise discovered they carry B&M Brown Bread in a can and a twister jar lid opener, the kind you put on the jar lid and just give it a twist and off comes the lid, no batteries needed. since the price of butter is going up around here, time to make my own so I got a churn, its like an old fashioned egg beater in a mason jar. this is going to be fun. 🙂

    • Judy Young says:

      Try a Kroger store if you have one near you. They have a British section on one of the aisles and you can find crumpets, Marmite, Heinz Baked Beans and the like, they have thick cut English marmalade too. You could also find it online.

  62. Janet Hundley - Grafton, WI says:

    Susan, your blog posts always make my day. Sometimes I wait to read them until just the right time when I can follow them down all the wonderful rabbit holes you include, like Musica, other artist’s blogs, stories of twins, etc.
    Thank you as always…

  63. Marty from NYC says:

    Red Shades–so Hollywood! Have all my fingers crossed for you tomorrow. Whatever happens, it should be an exciting day that not many get to experience.
    Deep Breath and sail forward! YOU have the backing of thousands and one great guy beside you. Fondly, Marty .

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what I think. A rather rare kind of conversation. Love you Marty, and all our Girlfriends. Feel so lucky to have you here. xoxo

  64. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Winners, lucky you, congratulations! Nice prizes!! Love your Mom’s birthday card Sue, and her picture! Orange marmalade, my favorite, so I must make the cake!!! Thank you! So exciting, tomorrow’s the day for your L.A. meeting. Will be thinking good thoughts for you all! I’ve an idea, maybe you could be narrating your movie, because you have such a pleasant speaking voice…melodic! Have they thought of that…yet?? And, you wouldn’t have to act, you lived it! Hugs for you two and your family! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Tomorrow’s the day! I don’t think they’ve thought of that yet! Thank you dear Joan!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Wow, what a great idea, Joan! Susan has a wonderful voice. And the texts in the books are perfect!!! I can think of no way other than her own words to describe the Humor she sees in her own young self in tears, snot, dirty hair and giving her grief free rein……and tempering it with the best medicine…humor!!! Boy, I surely love your idea, Joan!!

      Debbie in Tampa

  65. Rebecca Walsh says:

    So love reading your newsletters and your sharing with us all the pictures as you travel along. Running to the store to get orange marmalade. My favorite jam maker is Stonewall Kitchen and they have several different marmalade – tangerine, cranberry orange plus the regular orange marmalade.
    Love that your Mom and my Mom are both turning 87 this year. We are truly blessed to still have them with us.
    Take care.
    Rebecca – Denver

  66. Maureen Graham, MI says:

    Hi Susan,

    I took the train to visit my sister last year. Of course, you were my inspiration. Thank you for the photos of your trip across the country! Train travel is really lovely. I slept like a baby and the views are so much better than air travel.

    I am hoping you will design an England cup!

  67. Wendy says:

    Yum! I will bake this soon! Have a lovely visit in California!

  68. Lynn Cooper says:

    Can’t wait to make the cake using my own marmalade that I made!

  69. Debbie Boerger says:

    It’s 5:40 AM in Beautiful Southern California. Wonder what the psychic energy quotient aimed at Santa Monica would be if measurable? Hope they have reserved a very, very large table at which to “take lunch”, because all of the Girlfriends will be there.

    Mucho Love, Dear Susan,
    Debbie in Tampa…for now, where it is a beautiful day, but, sadly for me, no snow.

  70. Debbie Boerger says:

    Yesterday, I gazed at my lovely framed poster of Morro Bay in our guest room. It’s a misty view from the hills above, looking South. Has a poem by Robinson Jeffers below. Memories of my first trip to California. Best girlfriend and I, in a very old Volkswagon Beetle, guitar on board, long hair, drove out in summer of 1966, Stayed with friends right on Manhattan Beach, another friend who worked at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn (her watercolors done then still hang on the walls), drove up to San Fran, back and had the adventure of our lives….up til then. Had never driven on a freeway, so when we hit the Pacific, we “Turned Left” and hugged the coast, yes, through the Long Beach area, all the way to Manhattan Beach. Little country bumpkins in the summer of love.
    And…my beloved Mr. Tom was stationed in stationed in Long Beach as a Lieutenant in the US Coast Guard at exactly that time. We may have passed each other on Rt. 66, and certainly in a certain place on The Strand in MB, where the “Stews” hung out. Isn’t life Funny??

  71. Luann France-Bryant says:

    I will be retired in 5 weeks!! I’ m so excited! Your Red Letter Day list is so inspirational!! I will be sure to follow those directions to make my life as s retired person meaningful. Happy Birthday to you mom.

  72. Debbie Boerger says:

    Why am I the only one writing? Maybe everyone is giving you a much needed break? Did I miss your asking us to wait a bit, till you can catch your breath? If that’s the case, someone give me the dope slap, please.

    Just thought about the negotiation with the film folks. I hope they realize that they are negotiating with a few 1,000 Girlfriends as well as our leader! And…that we all feel so protective of those books…and of the author.

    All good thoughts,
    Debbie in Tampa…for now

    • sbranch says:

      Not at all, Debbie . . . sometimes it all slows down between posts, but everyone is welcome at ALL times, it’s always good to hear from you! Love the support, and best friend-ness of this blog of ours!

  73. Kat Fry on Rose Creek Farm says:

    Yea! I made it Here! Finally…just finished the sweet ‘starchy’ blog. And jumped from Willard to here. whew* Willard was most excellent.
    Huzzah for those that won the sweet cups & the wonderful teas. I shall pre-order mine toots sweet.
    And personal opinion here, I think the next best thing to US made is UK made.
    Excited to settle in & check out “A Place Called Home” on Netflix. Going through “Victoria” withdrawals, so this will help! I may need to make that Marmalade cake to munch as we watch. It looks so incredible!
    And yea! Knowing ‘our’ 2018 calendars are done gives me a sense of calm. Sorta’ a feeling that no matter what ‘today’ looks like, there will be a 2018! Susan decrees it!
    So excited that I am beside myself over your Great lunch Meeting with a screen/script writer. That TV/Movie is leaving the Station! Toot Toot! Now remember, on Twitter, I said to let them know y’all can supply ALLLL the Extras they could need! Your F.O.S.B.s are lining up! Ready for our Close ups!
    What a loverly setting to meet everyone & chat & sign books on the 18th. When our son & daughter inlaw lived in SLO ( her family still does) we visited & went to the Apple Farm. What a Treat! I shall think of y’all that day. We will be in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our Grankids got us an early 47th Anniversary gift…tickets to the Phantom of the Opera! squeal! Y’all know how I much I love that! “He’s here! The Phantom of the Opera!” I even bought Jesse a Phantom mask last time we went & saw it in Dallas, like 10 years ago or so. So, a long Romantic weekend lies ahead.
    Red Letter Days….Love it….Truly, Y’all, please don’t wait until you learn the hard, sad way to never take those precious moments for granted. That there’s something in every day that makes it a Red Letter Day. I’m so thankful to my sweet Daddy n’ Momma that I was raised to appreciate that. And that we have you Sweet Sue to remind us what a Great Gift those moments are.
    Thanks for sharing all those loverly sentiments about your own dear Mom. 72 hours! Girl! It’s a wonderment you aren’t an only child! I do remember the Playmate Song! Had completely forgotten it. What a fun song.
    As much as I love Winter…it is my favorite….shhhhh*, don’t tell the others….there comes a Time to slowly start packing it away & start to unpack Spring. Our wisteria is peeping out, the daffodils & crocuses are in full bloom. Our dogwoods & redbuds are a riot of color. It’s like they’re shouting, “Move on Winter! It’s our Turn!” The trees that hang over the goat barn & chicken coop are filled with tiny green buds waiting to burst! Just in time for our new flock of baby goats! Anytime now. I love seeing how the rest of this beautiful Country, this beautiful World we call Home looks as the Seasons change places.
    So here I sit in my jeans with my hot pink with black stripes long sleeve tee under my baggy Romo #9 jersey. Yep….THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES ROMO! GO COWBOYS!….warm & luscious gray socks…pink mary jane crocs (they are so stinkin’ cute! If I do say so my own self.) pulled up in a wild & crazy ponytail & tied with a pink scarf. Come Summer I might be commenting wearing a pink polka dotted bikini down by the ponds….nah….I would never do that to y’all! Never Ever!
    Loving being along for the Ride! You take us such Fascinating Places!
    As Dr. Suess famously says Oh the Places we’ll Go & the People we’ll Meet! Hangin’ with Joe n’ his Susan so Sweet….the last part was me. 🙂
    Thanks for the Ride!

    • sbranch says:

      ADORED Victoria. Wah. Happy 47th, Kat. Of all people, YOU are the most impossible to believe that you have been married for 47 years!!! Thank you for the fun comment. xoxo

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Pat! I love hearing about your life in Oregon. Why don’t you write your own blog! I’d certainly read it. When we moved to the hinterlands of Maine, we had friends who wanted regular updates of our adventures with moose, bears, turkeys, foxes, fishers, porcupines, eagles, and more many more. We worked hard on the property then, and our lives were very different from our friends back in Florida. Soooo. Think about it.

      Debbie in Tampa….for now

  74. I love the portrait Sue did of you and Jack.

  75. pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

    good afternoon Susan, girlfriends. what a busy weekend we had, cleaning up the chicken pen and trying to salvage the enclosed pen by removing the downed branches and the top of the pen and cleaning out the storm debris from the barnyard and getting the downed branches off of the henhouse and barn roof. that neighbor is our rotten neighbor and the branches that came down are from his trees, so we just threw those back into his yard… let him deal with them. doubt that he will notice that much as he has not even cleaned up his yard, and the garbage all over there is sickening…. going to be one big stench come summer from his place… ick!!! we had a fun surprise yesterday morning… wild turkeys came into our front yard to visit, had lots of hens and one big Tom. they hung around in the front for awhile and then proceeded to the back, visiting the barnyard crowd for awhile before going on to their roosting place. it was nice having them, and unfortunately our rotten neighbor got the idea to shoot them for supper, we put a stop to that…. first we do not allow the shooting or hunting of any wildlife on our property and we kept 2 rifles trained on him… if he shot at the bird, we fully intended to shoot back. well my husband kept his hunting rifle trained on him, I had the shotgun… but it worked, he figured we weren’t kidding so he left the birds alone. we are still cleaning up all the storm debris out front and in the back from both snow storms, and spring cleaning is going on as well in the house, time to get the curtains down for a cleaning and ironing, may even consider getting some new curtains for the kitchen and front windows. definitely the rocker will be going back out on the front porch for some porch sitting, the tractor parade is starting up, and this time the fire dept. helped out in herding the wild turkeys and our 3 turkeys back home…. some turkey parade, they use the big trucks with lights and sirens to get them to turn around head back to our house with firefighters and us along the flanks with rakes or just the handles to keep them in line. it was fun and they love seeing the wild birds. I keep hoping someday they wild birds will come and visit and decide to stay and breed with our turkeys. well time to get the laundry out and ready for folding and ironing. you all have a great day, stay warm and comfy and stay safe everyone. hugs…… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Wow, a stand off! That neighbor must be really hard up to eat a wild turkey. Ours only eat tics and bugs and seeds dropped from our bird feeders . . . they’re wiry and look tough! I would much rather eat a carrot or a parsnip rather than one of them!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Pat, see my comments on Kat’s comment site above. Duh, for me! Debbie in Tampa

    • FayE in CA! says:

      Trying to picture Pat Addison holding one of Susan’s new mugs AND a shotgun pointed at “rotten neighbor”… giggling! SO, are you wearing a freshly starched white apron while peeling your eyes on him? Do you put TONS of sour lemon in lemon cookies that you leave on his porch? Are you more Susan Branch-y in your attire than Annie Oakley? Will the new curtains (gingham?) frame your stake-out of Mr. Rotten? Make a matching cushion for the porch rocker…you with the shotgun in your lap would be the perfect Christmas card!!!!!

      If you write in journals you had better hide them! I don’t want you to get arrested and thrown in the clinker. You won’t be able to read Susan’s blog or bake her OM cake there. AND! Who knows who your new “rotten neighbor” would be in jail? Pass the knife, please!!!

      Bang…bang…she shot me down. Bang…bang! 💗💗💗

  76. Erica C says:

    Hello Susan,
    Always so fun to travel on the train with you. When you got to your destination… OMG! That’s *my* train station! My mother lives in SoCal, too, and I make the trek regularly from the Monterey Peninsula on the Coast Starlight. If you haven’t taken the Coast Starlight, please consider it for your list. 🙂
    Here’s wishing your mother a very happy birthday and a beautiful year to come.
    All the best,
    Erica C from California

    • sbranch says:

      We love the Coast Starlight, all of it but especially when it gets north of SF heading toward Seattle. The most beautiful views! Thank you Erica!

  77. Wow, I’ve been trying to write to you in the last couple weeks, there is so much that I am grateful to you. And reading that your mom’s birthday is February 27 made me do it today.
    My daughter’s birthday is the same day, and my birthday is the same day as our first date with Joe.
    Love those little coincidences in life.
    To make this short, I want to thank you enormously for sharing part of your life with us in your 3 books. Besides the blog, sharing all those life experiences had me admiring you more then ever.
    I’ve been a big fan of yours for the last 20 years, and you are great inspiration in my life.
    Thanks for all the joy, all the wonderful posts, all the music, all the pictures, your beautiful drawings, your handwriting, your delicious recipes, your happiness, and everything.
    For your loving marriage, for beleiving in yourself and writing your first book and for continuing and sharing all of this with us.
    Hugs, kisses and much love from Mexico

    • sbranch says:

      Love the coincidences too . . .❤️ Just brings everyone closer together. You are so sweet to write, thank you so much Ana. Give Mexico a big beso for me, I love your country! XOXO

  78. kathiellen says:

    Good Morning Susan!
    I am re-reading your latest blog and comments while having a late breakfast. We are back into “Indiana Weather” again. Last week it was 70* ( odd for February ) and now it is 25*! Our poor crocus, daffodils and forcythia blooms are so sad!
    I have been thinking about your meeting with the screenwriters. The more that I think of this up and coming film, the more excited I get!! When will they choose the actors, or do YOU get to choose them? Zoey D.? ( I think that she would be perfect! ) When will the filming begin? Will you get to be there during the filming process to help them get your story exactly the way it should be filmed? How exciting all of this is!! I am thinking on the lines of Loretta Lynn and Coal Miner’s Daughter! Her story lead to an Academy Award!! I am THINKING REEEEEEALLY BIG for you Susan!! Your books are so wonderful that I can see that happening!! You deserve it Susan!! I would love to see a picture of YOUR Oscar sitting on YOUR fireplace!!! How long will it take before this film is complete ( just a guess… ?) You have to be OVER THE TOP EXCITED about all of this!!! I sure am!! THAT would be a really really really awesome book… all about the process of filming your life story from start to finish!! Susan, I couldn’t be more happier for you!
    Your time in California is half over…I do not know why these days are flying by as quickly as they are! I hope that you and Joe get everything done that you planned to do and your trip home will be a relaxing one. Happy Trails!! xoxo

  79. chris consentino says:

    oh, dearest Susan….thank you!! as always!! such a wonderful visit…with you & everyone…it is VERY helpful…esp in “these-times”…to feel connected…and, you are a most exquisite gather-er for all of us! thank you for posting those pieces of the “all in…Bernie Sanders town hall”!!!! it was great, wasn’t it?? LOVE Bernie. I was brought to tears when that fellow got up & said he was amazed that a senator, from the Northeast (like, of ALL places…hehe) cared MORE about his health care than mitch mc Connell (who, being from KY….should SURELY empathize with a coal-miner, for God’s sake!!)….we ARE our brother’s-keeper!! (and, sister’s as well). continue safely on your journey! MUCH hugs for Mom!! all love to you & Joe. xoxoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It was so interesting. But I was crying when that woman who was pregnant with her third child was expressing her fears of the drug infestation of her area. Not to mention the fact that she herself was taking 13 prescription drugs!!! OMG. I knew things had changed since they started letting drug companies advertise on TV, but this is terrible, I had no idea…

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        seems like everyone wants this new drug or that new drug, never mind the side effects or problems it can cause later on…. the sad thing is those drugs are not tested by the FDA, they used to be but now the companies do it and send the results to the FDA and they are not too honest about what they send to the FDA or tell the public…. seems to me it was a safer world when FDA tested and approved the drugs, it sure isn’t now.

        • sbranch says:

          What drives me crazy, are the constant commercials for drugs (Big Pharma, free market, charging over $1000 for some pills) that are now allowed on the TV. The other day they were touting some drug that had so many hideous side effects, it made me Google “Average IQ of Americans” ~ because I can’t figure out WHY people want these things ~ those commercials cost a lot of money, so they MUST be working, which I can’t believe. I would never go to my doctor asking for a drug. I like to wait until I’m sick, and then, when totally necessary, get a prescription to make me well. Instead of IQ, people should be tested for common sense. The FDA, testing drugs, watching over our food supply, making sure we have clean water, all depend on gov’t regulation . . . which has lately been made a dirty word. But I agree with you. We need to know!

  80. Teresa says:

    I am a bit behind reading your posts, but enjoyed this one so much! Can’t wait to make that cake. I just made the hot milk cake again last month and always continue to love that old-fashioned recipe. After shoveling out of the blizzard here in CT yesterday, I am ready for a new sweet treat with tea. Although I do not mind flying (we were in San Francisco over Christmas break!), I think train travel is marvelous. I remember when I was 14, my family took our first train ride to Disney World in Florida–great memories. Speaking of memories, my mom suffered from Alzheimer’s for 15 years and passed away at 90 in January 2016. She was a gem, just like yours. I am so happy to hear you are out there spending time with her. You are blessed to have a big, supportive family to lean on, too. My brother and I found a wonderful Jamaican caregiver named Angie and we were fortunate to have her care for my mom for 12 years in my parents’ home. She is our third “sibling” and is a true angel. It was a long and difficult journey and my mom did not speak or make eye contact with us for the last 7 years. Just a couple of days before she stopped eating, she raised her head up so very high, looked at me right into my eyes and into my soul and connected with me for many, many seconds. Angie and I could not believe it. It was a treasured moment for me and one that will stay with me forever. It must have been her way of saying goodbye to me. I am so happy you are able to enjoy this time with your mom. There is nothing like a mother’s love and you certainly have a lot of it!!! Sending you hugs and love.

  81. Maggie Giltmier says:

    I just love all your post. I feel like we are girlfriends. It is always so exciting to read your blog, I feel like I am right there with you. God has so blessed you with His creative spirit. Your Mother is absolutely beautiful! How wonderful you and Joe can travel to be with her and your family. So looking forward to baking the orange marmalade cake. There is another author I love, Jan Karon, she wrote the Mitford Series… wonderful, and one of the characters is famous for her orange marmalade cake. If you have never read her it is a must!
    God Bless! Maggie

  82. Sarah says:

    Loved this travelin’ post, Susan! OK, I haven’t carefully read each comment so if the answer to my question is already here, just say so(!) and I’ll look for it. If not, my question is: So what are those 5 books we all must read??? Thank you, as always! ~Sarah

  83. Alison Hunt says:

    Just wanted to tell you about a thriftshop cookbook I found that I think you would love called Mrs. Chard’s Almanac Cookbook – Hollyhocks & Radishes by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson. Very cute recipes and letters throughout with a big focus on enjoying the seasons. Here is the amazon link – not sure if it will work otherwise you can google it – Hollyhocks & Radishes: Mrs. Chard’s Almanac Cookbook by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson et al.

    XO Alison

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I recognize that book. I think I have it at home. Will have to go look for it when we get back. xoxo

  84. Debbie Boerger says:

    Another lovely hour or so catching up with all of you. I agree with Kat on Rose Creek Farm that we are seeing our world in the best way, through the eyes of others who are determined to keep our Happiness Gene in good health.
    Fabulous day here in Florida, feels like California! My adorable Tom is making is wonderful pot of chili, and I will make my gramma’s southern cornbread. White cornmeal with NO sugar added. In her special iron cornbread skillet.
    Sue, you keep enjoying your visit and the Apple Farm with with some of Us.

    The picture of Joe in the clothes warm from the dryer was….was…..made me want to tweak his adorable cheek and go softly, “eeeeeeeeeeee!” OK, back to work on the tidying up.

    Debbie in Tampa….and enjoying the cool, clear days

    • sbranch says:

      The Apple Farm was yesterday, and it was WONDERFUL. Filled with warmth of Girlfriends smiles, about 72 degrees, among the flowers, under a tent. Couldn’t have loved it more. Am on cloud 9 this morning…out here in the middle of nowhere, the birds are singing, and I’m reading your wonderful comments. xoxo Happy!

  85. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    Hello Susan, Girlfriends, Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. got a lovely surprise in the mail today, my tea arrived and it smells heavenly, just like spring actually. perfect timing as tonight we are having a big pot of clam chowder (rainy day, and gloomy out there so its perfect for a soup night) and I am having a cup of hot tea this afternoon, with my coconut pound cake. thank you Susan, I look forward to tasting this heavenly tea. now I know where to shop for future teas to put in my tea tins, we used to have a local tea shop here but she had to close, seems a pot dispenser bought her place and put her out of business, shameful that people would prefer legalized pot to a soothing cup of hot tea absolutely shameful. Have a great day today find your rainbows and make them shine on you and your friends and family. Happy St. Patrick’s Day ……. Irish Hugs……. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      YAY, You got it, Pat. Congratulations on being one of the winning names drawn by our friend Vanna!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        thank you for the congrats, Happy first day of Spring to you Susan and to everyone. it is wet and drizzly here for the first day of spring, tomorrow we are expecting thunderstorms.. sounds like more soup weather to me, maybe some stew!!! hugs…. 🙂

  86. Judi says:

    Absolutely loved the painting of you and Jack. Just beautiful!

  87. betsy caprioli says:

    Ooooh, I love the new mugs and am very jealous of all your walks in the woods, etal :O)

  88. Carmen Major says:

    I live in Sioux City, IA and am interested in your mother’s growing up here in Sioux City. Does she still have relatives here? I would like to know more about here story. Does one of your books or blogs tell about her growing up years? I like to think here good values are from growing up here in the “heartland”. Your values show “midwest” values, too. Thanks for your writings. All the best to your mother.

    • sbranch says:

      I always say the best part of me is “my Iowa.” Even though I wasn’t born there, my mom and my grandma both were, and they were my idols growing up; plus, many more of my relatives, my grandfather and great grandma and grandpa, and back quite a ways, so I have great love for the midwest. You only have to go there once to experience the welcoming smiles and kind people. I’m sure we must still have relatives there, but I am not in touch with them. My grandma came from 10 children, their last name was Orr. My mom grew up spending her summers with her grandmothers. One had a farm. The snow was about a hundred and ten feet deep at all times, and my mom had to walk to school. (The way she makes it sound 😜.) During the war, they painted their windows black so they didn’t have to turn out the lights during the blackouts. They listened to Roosevelt fireside chats on a radio that was the size of a hutch. My great grandma had an attic where my mother’s dolls were kept. Her name was Alice Carpenter and she taught me how to play pick-up-sticks one hot summer night on her front porch while the moths made ticky-tacky noises hitting the porch light. That’s all I can remember right now… But I do have to say, I see those same values in many of my friends on both coasts, and all over the country, and really, all over the world. Like me, many have roots in the Midwest, but for sure, they love all the same things we do, home, family, the sound of the birds in the morning. That’s why, when you’re here on the blog, meeting people from everywhere, you see them as kindred spirits. Thank you for your kind words toward my mom. Getting her for my mom was my first and best blessing in my life.

      • Carmen Major says:

        Thanks so much for answering my note. Your memories of visiting here are very interesting. I,too,have some wartime memories because my father was drafted when I was three years old and came home at the wars end. I was living in Nebraska at that time. Would love to have you come back to Sioux City for a visit anytime. Love ALL your books, especially the times when you were growing up. Carmen

        • sbranch says:

          I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we get to do that one day. We love crossing the country by car. Thank you Carmen!

      • Erica C says:

        The last name of “Orr” was very common in Modesto, California, where I was raised. Most of the Orr families lived out on the west side of town…the farming community. Sparks my curiosity as you mentioned the family name. So enjoyed the signing yesterday. The weather and the setting couldn’t have been more perfect! The wait was long for your John Hancock, so we ended up talking with Joe. My husband and I are also “Joe and Sue” I told him, and he signed my/your pocket calendar on the August month as we will celebrate 38 years of marriage. My girlfriend Kenna and I were sporting the Black Dog T-shirts, and have shared many giggle fits together on various trips…one on them on our trip to the Island! Blessings….remarkable one! Suzi Kosko

        • sbranch says:

          Oh that was you, Suzi! I missed you, but loved that photo Joe took! Very sweet of you two! You made his day!

      • Jennie Lou says:

        I used to know an Orr family from Iowa! A large family, the two eldest boys were my age and we were in school in Pierce County, Washington back in the ’70’s (okay, I’m pretty old). They were the nicest people! Mrs. Orr was always happy to have the kid’s friends come by or stay over. They had a pool table in their basement, which was an odd thing to have, but it certainly kept us busy (and noisy) so Mr. & Mrs. always knew what we were doing down there!

  89. Debbie Boerger says:

    Happy, happy Sunday morning here on the Atlantic Coast. I know you will post many more pics from your day at The Apple Farm. And, I see a couple of Boyfriends, too.
    My husband, Tom Terrific, is a Midwestern Guy, Wisconsin, grew up in Illinois. I am so very thankful for his parents and grandparents, all from Wisconsin, for giving him life and his outlook on life. I come from a Southern Gothic background. At first I thought his siblings, parents and extended family, his father was one of 12, were so boring, but after more than 30 years, I know the truth. I love organizing the sibling family reunions and listening to the family lore. One particular Aunt and I became very close. So funny and wise. She and her siblings mostly lived to 100 or more. So you probably have those good longevity genes as well as the “Happy Gene”.
    On some of our many camping trips back and forth across this fabulous continent, we deliberately chose to explore those “Fly Over” states. So beautiful and full of rich history. I ooh and ahh over little farmsteads scattered across the long horrizions as much as mountains and oceans!!

    Continue the enjoyment, Dear Sue,
    Debbie from Tampa…..for now

  90. sylvia in seattle says:

    Loved reading about your Iowa parts and your Mom’s memories 🙂 Just heard MV mystery writer Cynthia Riggs on the radio recounting her amazing life and romance at 70+. Such heartwarming tales come from MV. But I like to think of you basking in the CA sunshine for a while and perfect timing I guess. Patiently waiting for more details of everything that’s happening there.
    We have SUN here in Seattle after a solid month of drenching rain nearly without cease. Almost shocking 🙂

  91. Lorraine says:

    Hi Sue! Was just checking in to make sure I pre-ordered all three of your new mugs when I realized I might be THERE in England where they are being made this May! I am visiting Ireland for the first time starting on May 3rd, but have already bought tickets on the overnight ferry from Dublin to Liverpool just so I can visit Stoke-on-Trent and the Bridgewater and Burleigh potteries! I’ve even reserved time at the Bridgewater studio to decorate a few mugs/jugs – not that I can draw a straight line, much less anything like the lovely designs you made on yours! Can you tell me which pottery will be producing your mugs? It would be so much fun to buy a few more directly from the pottery where they are made!

    • sbranch says:

      They won’t be selling them in England…I’m sorry to say. I’m still looking for a way to do that. You are going to love your afternoon at Bridgewater . . . designing your cup. You might make a little drawing before you go so you won’t have to “think” while the pressure is on, while the brush is in your hand. Makes it easier, that’s what I did. Have a WONDERFUL time Lorraine! xoxoxo

  92. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! You look adorable in your pretty print dress and jacket!!!! I just love the delicate white lace trim (is it a purchase from your trip?) And your shoes look soooooooooooooo comfy!!! You look like a little doll!!!! So, so cute!!!!! Take care. GOD Bless.

    • Carilyn Wolski says:

      P.S. Ooooooooops, I want to wish you a very happy first day of Spring Susan!!!!! Still little piles of snow scattered around my backyard, but a gorgeous Bluejay just flew upon my birdbath, he called, and then took his bath! Also, two Robins visited the yard…..hmmmmmmm, maybe Mother Nature really does remember it is now Spring in Dearborn, Michigan!!!! Bye bye!

    • sbranch says:

      Shoes are very comfy!! The white lace trim is my Laura Ashley underskirt from the 80s! I’ve loved it all my life! It makes any skirt look just a bit cuter! xoxo

  93. Linda Shepard says:

    I just finished reading Isle of Dreams. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You spoke to me and I needed the encouragement and hope I found in your book. I am widowed ( 2 years) and wondering how I could ever be happy in life again. Though your loss was from divorce, loss of love is loss and loneliness. I have been reading and reading and searching for answers. All the grief books and an expensive psychologist have not helped me as much as your sweet, soul searching book about looking for happiness and being true to oneself. Your book was a true gift to me.

    • sbranch says:

      So true, Linda, loss is loss, and that depth of heartbreak has everything in common. Thank you so much for those sweet words. That’s exactly why I wrote those books, to share my journey in the hope that it might pave a little path for someone else. You have just made my day. xoxo

      • Linda Shepard says:

        Susan, I have taken my first art class at the ripe old age of 64! It was fun, learning how to mix colors. I felt like a little girl playing which was lovely. You are an inspiration!! Thank you! Linda

        • sbranch says:

          How fabulous Linda, makes me so happy to hear it. Yesterday afternoon Joe and I went to a performance of our Community Chorus. The sweetest little joy-filled moment. We knew lots of people in the chorus, which made it extra fun. One of them was an 85-year-old recently widowed father of one of my dear friends. There he was, beaming, singing his heart out, reaching out for life, showing us all how it’s to be done. It was lovely. And that’s you too. XOXOXO

  94. Jan from Northern CA says:

    Dear Susan and Joe,
    Every time I see your posts on train travel, I check it on my “to do” bucket list and look forward to possibly doing that in the future. My daughter lives in Colorado……hummm…maybe a nice ride out to visit?
    I hadn’t been to your blog in a bit. Busy with life and parents and just all that stuff. I saw the “3 tea cups”!! I just placed my order for them. Can’t wait for tea time when they get here.
    Hope you had a wonderful visit out to the west coast. I wish I could have been down south to see you again as last year in Morro Bay, but just not in the schedule this year. Weather for your visit has surly been interesting! Happy Birthday to your lovely Mom. My parents are 88 and 82, and I don’t take it for granted that they will be with us forever….so visit often and do as much as I can to make their lives happy.
    Well, safe travels home.
    Jan from Northern CA

    • sbranch says:

      Love to hear from you Jan. It’s been wonderful here, as always. Sending love for your mom and dad, and for YOU!

  95. Peggy McNeill says:

    Susan, can’t wait to make the OM cake and wondered if you’ve ever doubled the recipe to make a bundt cake?

  96. Judy Young says:

    Just re-read this last blog and it just occurred to me that the “Red Letter Day” illustration would make the best Bookmark! Maybe there already is one??

  97. Lorraine says:

    PS — I’ve found Sta-Flo liquid starch in stock at Hannaford’s supermarkets. If you’re on the mainland and want to do a little shopping, there are three Hannafords “near” you – in Middleboro, Taunton, and Duxbury. (I love this store – they are always so clean and have such a wide variety of items. The store closest to me even has a whole aisle of gluten-free items!)

    • sbranch says:

      Now I want to go to Hannafords! Sounds wonderful. Worried about supermarkets now. The two closest to us here in California are gone, replaced by heartless Smart and Finals! How do you shop for din-din at a Smart and Final? Good grief! Is this the wave of the future?

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        We shop at Hannaford’s in Ellsworth, Maine, headquartered in Portland, ME. They are wonderful. They are having to push back against DelHazy (sp?) Corp. from Netherlands, I think, who bought them out. They had previously bought out our wonderful Florida based market, and put them out of business. They had a habit of discontinuing things we loved and stocking only the super giant sized stuff. My wonderful Hannaford manager joined with us to raise heck, and we got our products back…..especially our Maine and Vermont dairy products. They love to load the case up with cheeses from Holland, but we wanted our Maine brands!!!! And that’s why I love Hanniford, apart from the cleanliness of the stores!!!
        Debbie in Tampa

  98. Love this post, your innovative use of luggage rack to do laundry reminds me of our 2010 trip to Martha’s Vineyard in Edgartown, when my dear husband needed clean undies and came up with this very innovative solution. We now make sure all rooms we get have fans:

  99. linda weirnusz says:

    Sorry to trouble you, but in the marmelade cake written recipe you have forgotten the zest. Thank goodness for your pictures I saw you add it to the batter. I’ll note it on my copy but if someone doesn’t bake this soon they will wonder where it goes.

    • sbranch says:

      I went back to put it in, but what I see on the blog in the written recipe is the zest for both the lime and the orange. Am I missing something? Thank you for watching out for me, I do this kind of thing, so I always appreciate someone who’s paying attention!

  100. Jan says:

    Susan, you add so much to my life….with your wonderful blogs and the Willard!
    I feel like I’ve been to California again just reading today! The wild flowers and flowers around your studio and the hills and the cows and the ocean! (I grew up on a wonderful farm in Nebraska and I used to talk to the cows!) Happy Birthday to you in April!! We share a birthday month. God Bless you and your Joe and your family and your kitty always!


    • sbranch says:

      Talking to cows, and why not! I would do that too! Wonderful place to grow up. Happy Birthday Jan!

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