My Ordinary Extraordinary Life

Good Morning Girlfriends Forever! Welcome! Here’s your MUSICA gift selection of the day. Then we’re off to visit my ordinary extraordinary life. 💖

We finally got our first snow!!!

Big flakes, drifting down, our flying Valentines made a day of it! After a few hours, it all melted away in the rain, but this morning, I woke to the always-comforting sound of the town snowplow outside . . . dawn is breaking now and all the roofs outside my window have been frosted in marzipan. Looks just the New England I dreamed about growing up!

Welcome, once more, to Smallville, my home sweet home, where the normal is reeeely normal and daily joy is in appreciating all the little things in life. But before we go there, to that ordinary extraordinary place, let’s do what you came to see, first! Let’s draw the winning names for the Giveaway! Ohhhhh Vanna???? Come, darling. (👣Pitterpat of little feet, clickity-clack of high heels, she’s coming!)

You remember, she’ll be drawing three winning names for three ordinary extraordinary items! So, let’s make the Girlfriend’s Book number one . . .

Vanna just dove off the side of my desk into a huge glass vat, her pink-leotard-clad legs scissor-kicking to the bottom, a swirling pink vortex of shimmering body-suit, toes pointed in her lime-green satin ballet slippers, her yellow swim cap covered with white daisies . . . little bits of paper with names on them, like the fortunes in fortune cookies, fluttering through the air, all around me, like confetti. And here she is . . . leaping out of the vat, streaming paper bits, and in her hand, manicured in iridescent pink, three names . . . . The winners! One by one she hands them to me . . . So here we go, number one, for the Book, which I will love to personalize for you . . . the winner is . . .

KATHY, who didn’t leave a last name but who has Dkvce in her email address and a daughter who paints plates! The book is for YOU!For Gift Number 2, A forever message of love . . . .

The winner is . . . . Debi Reece, the “adventurous, delighted, and contented” Debi Reese that has 1713 in her email address! Yay for you!

And for our Third Winner, Valentine Love, this time in cup form!!!

The winner is BECKY HEBERT, who’s a “new girl on the block,” but “catching up quickly!”

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S   T O  Y O U  A L L !You’ll be receiving an email from me soon, and soon after that your gifts will be winging their way to you! Thank you for partaking, and thank you all for being here and lending your luv-lee voices to this blog of kindred spirits!

So back to the ordinary extraordinary . . .  this is what Joe opened his eyes to on Valentine’s morning. Surprise! We had a lovely day . . . did our regular things, worked most of the day, then he we hopped into the Fine Romance van and he took me out for what he calls “an airing.” 💞 “Get your coat! You’ve been inside too long! I’m taking you for an airing!” 💞

We drove up-island playing our Musica to the fish market in Menemsha ~

We were hankering for a Valentine’s Lobster dinner at home . . . and lobsters were on sale! Perfect timing!

So that’s exactly what we did, made ourselves a little feast . . . which was not only delicious and wonderful, it also fit perfectly into the “Feed the Soul” program I have going on right now. I said to myself as I often do in February, what do I need? And self said, happiness. So I said, that’s a kind of food, right? And self said, yes it is. Feed me. So I did.Last post I was lightening our life on the outside, this post, I’m doing it on the inside, and it’s working out so well, I decided to take you with me! Yup. Winter won’t last forever! And when it’s over and the daffodils begin bloom, I want a brand new me. So while I’m working away on our calendars for 2020, I’m also focused on watching what I eat and being conscious of feeding my soul.

I noticed my brain was feeling a little dry and I was having wild cravings, for salty, sugary, and crunchy foods. I was also taking on the shape of this rodent. Then I read those are really bright-light symptoms of a system out of balance … So what more perfect time to do something about it. Winter! This is why I love this time of year. Gives me time to get lots of work done, and also pay quiet, consistent attention to what makes me healthy. 🍇

So, I went onto the Internet looking for balance, and after a bit of study, (I wasn’t interested in fad diets, I wanted good old-fashioned HEALTH, so I looked at mostly reputable science-based sites like WebMD and and changed my diet. I got rid of the usual suspects, white flour and sugar (which included alcohol too because I was committed and there’s sugar in there) ~ I got a bit more careful with fats and oils, and fed myself in a way proven to juice-up brain power, and promote better sleep. Slowly but surely (it’s been a month now), with nutritional superfoods like oatmealblueberries, and apples, nuts and cinnamon, all antioxidant, all anti-inflammatory, I began to feel better. And then I began to feel A LOT better.  I began to feel really happy when I went to bed at night!

After the first few days, I didn’t miss sugar a bit ~ the cravings I’d had for basically years, stopped, no longings for snacks between meals! A miracle! All because of what I’ve been feeding myself. 🥕 Shall I show you? Okay! 

It’s what you would think of course, all common sense like the salad above, perfectly wonderful crunch provided by fresh organic vegetables and detoxifying greens, with beets, avocados, red peppers, red onion, tomatoes, a pressed garlic clove, a splash of olive oil, a drizzle of lime juice.

 Dinner might be my favorite Stuffed Sweet Potato recipe with bean sprouts and chopped nuts! It’s spicy, and spicy foods raise endorphins!

Or these Shirataki noodles called Pasta Zero, made by Nasoya from vegetable root, with 20 calories in a cup! Throw in some cooked mushrooms, chopped ginger, and bright vegetables, some torn up chicken-thigh meat, pour over hot rich homemade chicken stock . . . voila! Din-din! Or, have the noodles with a fresh tomato sauce and broccoli. Perfectly delicious and satisfying.

Wild salmon, pure brain food, rich in juicy omega-3s, and because of our good local fish market we’re able to have it a lot. Delicious dopamine! Other anti-inflammatory foods include broccoli, beets, avocado, and green tea . . . and many More HERE. Because, guess what? Even low levels of inflammation (all kinds of things cause it including food additives from packaged foods) can make you fat and you might not even know you have it! Is there a spare tire above your waist? Me, too! Hello Inflammation.  Hate to see you eat and run but here’s your hat and donut.

Because I’m in charge around here. And since variety is the spice of life, another wildly healthy breakfast: nutritious cage-free hen eggs, with steamed spinach and broccoli and a piece of bacon for spice. After this I am not hungry until lunch! I do not stare into the fridge anymore as is usual for person who works at home! Seriously! What a relief!

Avocado is famous for health benefits, I combine avocado with juicy pink grapefruit, a few roasted pine nuts, a handful of greens  … it’s practically dessert!

I brought this chicken stew to my art table . . .  I’m trying to eat, at least partly, grass-fed meats and poultry raised without hormones or grains, because you are what you eat!  You can see by these platefuls of food, I’m not really on a diet, I’m just eating well. Not living to eat, but eating to live. Power girl.💪

White Bean Soup! My favorite! Perfect for a cold day! Beans ~ fiber-rich super-food for the brain!

I’m not eating the same food every day. But it’s all whole relatively plain food, a clump of healthy this, a clump of healthy that. I want to know what’s in it, so I’m staying away from prepared and packaged food. And despite the salt you see on this asparagus, I’ve now cut way back on that too. Not adding any. Giving myself a break to see how it goes. I am my own science project.

Antioxidant rich Sweet Potatoes with seeds and I don’t miss salt because I added a little shake of red pepper flakes. Yum! Eat the skin!

If you are a crunch person, seeds and nuts will give you everything you need in the most healthy way! I made my own seed mix ~ I bought a small amount of every kind we had in the bulk food section of our supermarket, from flax seeds to pumpkin seeds, to sesame, sunflower, chia, mustard and hemp seeds. I mixed them all together and I pretty much put them on everything. This is why you should eat seeds ~ they stimulate endorphins and serotonins, which are most important decorations on your happiness tree!

Piles of roasted veggies make a wonderful dinner all by themselves. Scatter them with nuts and seeds, and have them as a bed for a piece of salmon, toss them with greens or noodles, or drizzle them with balsamic or pomegranate molasses (just boil down vinegar or juice).

I made my own “trail mix,” too. Because I don’t care for those little unrecognizable pieces of colorful “fruit” in the store bought stuff. I only want the good stuff! So we went to Trader Joe’s and got all kinds of our favorite nuts, both dry roasted and raw ~ almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and macadamia nuts.  I chopped the big ones, mixed them with my seed mixture, and stirred them all up with a bit of olive oil and some raisins.

And they’re wonderful on my oatmeal.  MASS MUSICA? OUI!

This time it’s not as much about losing weight per say, as it is about eating healthy, relieving my body of the burden that extra weight puts on joints and organs, and bringing my joy levels up to top Perk on my own personal Perk Scale. My snacks are celery (celery is soooooo good for you!) and carrots dipped in lemon hummus ~ or, celery dipped in cashew butter (with nothing in it but cashews) ~ and plantain chips with guacamole ~ Joe even makes fried potatoes sometimes! I’m not hungry! I drink luv-lee Earl Grey tea, also Celestial Seasonings Green Tea, and camomile before bed. …  I’m trying to eat my bigger meals during the day, and have a lighter meal in the evening, and guess what? I lost ten lbs! That’s why I had to tell you.💞 The other day I got an inspirational note from one of our Girlfriends on the blog ~ you may have seen it in the comment section, someone by the name of Naomi who wrote, “Can I request a blog topic? For all the girlfriends? I am 35 years old next month and I am struggling to determine if I should keep trying to hold onto my princess beauty (and weight) or lean into a queenly phase of life? Vanity, vanity, yes! Society talks about getting fit, ditching sugar and wheat, etc. Where’s the balance? I need to know, from one girlfriend to another. What should I expect as I age and what should I really be focusing on and what is futile and should just be given up??? So perplexing!”

Perfect timing! Naomi? I LOVED your question! 👏 So, from one girlfriend to another, what to expect as you age? Is never giving up. Society does not matter, but you do. 💞You don’t have to be perfect. Nobody ever is! But trying is a really good thing. Try to give your body what it needs for energy and joy! Because that’s what feeds every dream you have. And at only thirty-four, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! 💞Read labels because the entire food-world would LOVE to get us addicted to the foods they make! We’re so lucky to live in a time there’s so much science! I told Joe this morning, as long as I’m alive, I want to be alive! ⚡️And it’s not just food . . . even a little exercise changes your metabolism, a tiny bit of weight lifting keeps your bones strong . . . and here’s a few more suggestions, because it’s not just feeding your body, it’s feeding your soul too, and for that, it’s never more true . . .

Find a little spot in the morning sun to eat your healthy breakfast . . . it helps us winter-worn people set our inner clocks for a better nights sleep, and how you sleep affects so much of your life. You can feel the serotonin boost in your brain, which is one of the wonderful things that keeps us calm and focused! 

Even if it’s the only narrow slot of light in the room, poke your face right into the middle and soak it up . . . it doesn’t have to be in the kitchen, any little beam will do. ☀️

Jack and I make a shadow behind us in the dawn light . . . I have lots more to tell you about all this health stuff . . . but I’m saving the other half of this “blogus healthius” for my next postius!

Also famously excellent for your health, playing with your petty pet. When I put milk in my first cup of tea in the morning, I put a tiny dot onto the counter for Jack to lap up. That way we’re “fixing breakfast” together. Ommmmm.

Jack has become a kitty-masseuse. When I’m on the floor doing my stretches and my hands are busy so I can’t grab him, he knows it. He’ll rub against me from leg to head, jumping to rub my face, making me laugh, stop, and grab. He’s my healthy procrastination partner, time sucker-upper, house-mate, and all-’round blessing from heaven. That little string was blowing through the crack in the door from a heater vent on the other side. Rapt attention! Fascinating!

I’m almost done with the new calendars! I have only one month left to do on the yearly wall-calendar, all the rest of them are DONE! I’ll finish the other one after I’m done writing you. And I have a very fun new type of wall-calendar to show you for 2020, in addition to the regular one, I’m so excited! Here’s the cover . . . it’s called . . .

Oh yeah. It’s going to be on the BBC website too! It’s the first time I’ve done a photo calendar! A Year in the English Countryside will be twelve months of photographs (mixed with watercolors of course) of all the charming British eccentricities Joe and I saw traveling through the amazing countryside. From cottage gardens to sheep meadows and pubs, it’s all there . . . I know you will love it. Which is why, for the first time, I’m putting this calendar up for Presale. I fear, because it’s also the first time I’ve done a calendar like this, the publisher will print very few of them; that’s the way they often do. Like with the cups, I want to make sure that any of you who wants one gets one. So up for Presale it goes so I can place my order with the publisher asap. And FYI, yes, we’ll still have the same calendars as always, the watercolored wall calendar, the large desk blotter, the purse-sized calendar, and the mini calendar ~ everything should be here in July.

Here’s the back cover . . . you can read more about it and Pre-order yours right HERE.I also wanted to let you know that if you ever have a yearning to read years of past WILLARDS (including the last one if you didn’t get it!), you can find them all HERE (or in the right-hand column of the Blog). 💞

And, one more new thing to tell you before I go . . .  back by popular demand, our 100% wool hooked pillows and rugs!

This is just a sample, there are lots more, all “signed” with a heart and my initials, SB.

I have this one in my studio . . . cupcakes! Not a calorie in any of them! (And I do believe we still carry the cupcake embroidery/applique kits for those dishtowels too!)

And this one is called Island Farm, has a dancing sheep, apple trees, giant flowers, and a red farm house, and matches the second pillow above. They’re all on the website now, rugs are 2′ x 3′, perfect size for an entry or in front of the kitchen sink. All available HERE.

Joe just came in with this little bouquet of snowdrops from the back garden! It’s happening! A miracle in the snow! Hope personified! And one more thing darling Girlfriends, before I go, if you want to know where our Blog title came from today, “Ordinary Extraordinary,” then you should make it a point to see the wonderful movie called About Time, written and directed by the same genius person, Richard Curtis, who also wrote and directed Love Actually. I’m watching it right now (watching and/or listening to). It’s probably the 5th time I’ve seen it. I have liked it better every time. Now I cry from the very start. It’s so sweet and touching and teaches us all how to see better, our ordinary extraordinary lives. Bring the Kleenex. You will need it. 💞 Love you Girlfriends. Until next time! 💋

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491 Responses to My Ordinary Extraordinary Life

  1. DebbS(from Minnesota) says:

    What a great idea to mic the seeds (especially chia and flax, I use ground flax seed) with the other nuts!!! This will save me so much time, rather than opening all the bags each time. I like to eat them on yogurt with a bit of fruit, and I use monk fruit as a sweetener. It’s a very healthy one! You continue to be the ultimate inspiration for aging with joy!

  2. Debbie Boerger says:

    Thank you, Dear Susan, as well as the girlfriends who posted good advice. I just needed the “dope slap” to do the best thing for our health. Unfortunately, some of my favorite tastes are in the nightshade family, especially eggplant and tomatoes. The Lovely Tom made supper last night, as I’ve begun to whine and whimper when things require both hands. He bought some ready made meat balls and some Paul Newman tomato sauce. Bless his heart, he cooked the meat without the splatter screen. I’d been avoiding pasta, but I gobbled it all up. This morning all joints hurt. So, when we go out tomorrow, Trader Joe’s will be the last stop. Very interested in the veg noodles. Now to attack the grease film……………

    My desserts have been frozen Maine blueberries with any kind of fruit, frozen in chunks. I dump my combo into my 1968 Oster Blender….extremely heavy motor. Still works like a champ. Then I add yogurt and blend it with a bit of orange juice, if needed. It’s like eating a cross between a smoothie and sorbet. No added sugar.

    For Susan: Isn’t it wonderful how our companion spirit works? I’d become addicted to doing drawings that were photo-realism. Can’t do that anymore due to the arthritis. Thank goodness. It was painful for my neck, etc. scrunched over a drawing using huge magnifying lamp, and very, very sharp colored pencils. So tedious. When we get back to Maine, Tom is going to set me up on the porch with a heavy duty easel from the basement. I’m going back to my first love, expressionist/abstract and anything else I can throw at the canvas. My best friend told me that I did those drawings because I could. They inspire awe, but not love. Color and texture used to make me salivate. I will again. Thank You Spirit!! And thank you Susan.

    Debbie in Tampa

  3. Naomi A Jones says:

    I feel like a celebrity! Thank you so much for addressing my question. I saved reading this blog post for a quiet afternoon and glad I did because seeing my name made me tear up! I’m going to have to print this one off.

    Over the past month or so, I have been devouring health books and do you know what they have all said so far??? DITCH THE SUGAR. Mmm, I do love sugar so it is good to read that you felt addicted too. Another girlfriend and I have actually been keeping one another accountable about our sugar intake this past week and going forward.

    Don’t you think that health food is just so pretty? Part of the enjoyment of eating lately has been just looking at the gorgeous color combinations on my plate.

    I just want to give you great big hugs and a kiss on the cheek! Thanks, thanks, and thanks again.

    • sbranch says:

      It was such a good question Naomi. Sugar really is a problem. And the more you have the more you want. I’m surprised how much better I feel now that I stopped it. Took a few days, but all those cravings are gone!!! Yay! And yes, the colors are wonderful! Hugs to you!

      • I agree, Naomi and Susan! I stopped sugar a few years ago and felt great – the psoriasis I had on my knees since I was 16 (!!) actually cleared up, too! So amazing. Ate too much around the holidays this past year and felt cruddy again. Back to no sugar (and clean, healthy eating) and feeling great! 🙂

  4. Naomi A Jones says:

    Also, I have to say that this is the first time I have felt compelled to read ALL the other blog comments! I need all the help I can get from all the Girlfriends! Kisses to all!

  5. Anarita says:

    Oh your healthius postius came at the perfect time for me! Thank you for your continued inspiration! 🍌🥦🥑🥗 And it looks like I’ll be getting 2 wall calendars next year! I can’t wait for the new design and can’t live without the old!💕

  6. Rebecca says:

    I love About Time! I gave it to my sister for Christmas 🙂

  7. Maureen says:

    Woot, Woot! Ten pounds and eating all that delicious wonderfulness! Thank you for your inspiring blog. One of my co-workers and I have been bringing fresh salad things in since January 1st, so everyday a fresh healthy lunch is waiting for us. I ran right over to the shelf and grabbed About Time, one of the perks of working at the Library, can’t wait to go home and watch it!

  8. Nancy Halsema says:

    I too have a question for my Susan friends. When do I become old? No, I really mean it; am I old at 72 or can I wait to be 76 or 79 or…? When I was a young girl I use to watch all of the blue hair and (gasp!) bright red and coal black-haired singers in my church choir. They were OLD! I swore I would never try to pretend to be younger than I was like they were obviously doing. But I don’t feel old yet. I am always a bit surprised when offered the ‘Senior’ discount. I don’t want to appear foolish when among strangers. Am I too old for fashionable boots? Must I talk about my health and aches and pains? Am I an embarrassment to my family if I want to act silly and make plans far into the future? Am I too old to visit other countries now? This question is serious and I’d love to hear when others felt it was ‘Time’.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t think there are rules. Be who you want to be! Life is for the living. Enjoy every moment of it! The only reason you would be too old to visit another country is if you needed assistance, and even then, get assistance! Nothing should stop you if you have a dream.

    • Lynn Marie says:

      Nancy—if you don’t feel old or inable–go for it! My sweet mother who will turn 90 years young this year, just booked a 10 day riverboat cruise and I think it is fabulous. I am planning on following in her
      “never too old footsteps” as my age numbers climb the ladder! They were going to go to Ireland but decided they might not be up to all the walking. Live your best life now–full steam ahead! ☺

    • Ruth says:

      Love this post since I am 72 also!!!

    • Carolyn says:

      No age is “too old”. In 2017 I went on a group tour to Bhutan at the tender age of 64. I was assigned to room with a 92-year-old youngster from California who did every single nature walk and a mountain climb, and ran circles around others in the group 20 years younger! I learned from her, you become old when you let yourself think you’re old! Travel on!

  9. Dorothy Stapleton says:

    Loved reading your blogius healthius! One thing I try to do when I finish choosing all my fruits and veggies at the store, I peer into the cart and look for a “rainbow”–the more colors the better! It was so special reading about our younger girlfriend Naomi–so important that she’s starting now to think very seriously about her health–so glad I always did (spurred on by my health-conscious big sis!) because now we can do so many things that others our ages (I’m 68 and Barb is 72) find hard to do–like walking 10 magical miles at Disneyland all in one day!! But like you’ve proven–never too old to start a new
    habit! And I’m going to make that yummy crunchy seed mixture too! Thank you, thank you for such inspiration!!!!!!

  10. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Lots of inspiration in this healthy blog. Interesting to read about celery benefits. I’ve been using celery smeared with some almond butter for a late snack. Very good and satisfying. Going to try the baked sweet potato tonight. It always looks so good when you share your pictures. The link about its many benefits is very good. Thanks for all the info and inspiration.

  11. Sherry Coleman says:

    Wonderful post, Susan! It’s so important to eat well and I loved the pictures and explanations of what you’re eating. Inflammation plays such a huge part in our health. So many diseases caused by it. I’ve been researching it also as I was rushed to the hospital recently and ended up needing two stents in my heart for s 95% blockage in one artery and 85% in another. I don’t say this to scare anyone, but if it saves one person I have done the right thing. I had none of the risk factors. My cholesterol was good, my blood pressure was fine and I was ten lbs overweight. I researched it and inflammation plays a huge part. Everyone should have their C Reactive protein checked with a blood test, but absolutely start eating an anti inflammatory diet. Sorry I have rambled, but as one girlfriend to another I had to share. What you shared in your post is so needed by all of us!

    • sbranch says:

      Excellent advice Sherry, thank you for passing on your first person information. I think it’s very helpful. xoxo

  12. Cynthia Brust says:

    I LOVED this post — so timely for me. I stopped coloring my hair 6 months ago in preparation for my 60th birthday — embracing who I am (I LOVE it BTW). I’m also eating only whole, clean foods and exercising daily. I’ve joined a book club, am learning to bake bread, taught myself to make orange marmalade, and am working to hone my gardening (flowers) skills, For my health/well-being — body, soul and spirit. As my daughter says…#thisis60

  13. Sheri Bodi says:

    Hi Susan! It was so good to read all of your healthy recipe ideas and tips! I, too, have been trying to eat healthier. I have been retired for 1 year and with increased exercise and more mindful eating, I do feel more energetic. Your blogs always motivate me in so many ways-I love them!! Looking forward to watching About Time:)

  14. Karen Bowerman says:

    So enjoyed reading about your healthy journey. Would love to see a book with some of these simple recipes. I’ve been on a similar journey for the past year and a half….maybe a bit longer….and have lost 90#. Can’t tell you how much better I feel! My pulmonary doctor is just amazed every time I have an appointment with him. Just stands there and beams at me. Gotten off an oral med and hope to be off the inhaler (have been weaning down) in April/May. Congrats on the 10# weight loss! Your blog today was very encouraging to me to keep on with the program!

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Well of COURSE, I had to buy the English Countryside calendars…yep, for me an my best girlfriends…my 2 daughters!! Maybe we shall actually get to visit one day…but till then…ah photos, paintings, etc!! Great ideas you have!!

  16. Andi M says:

    Would you consider putting some of your recipes that you developed and posted in this blog together so we could do them too? They all look so delicious!

  17. Rosemary Monk says:

    Hello Sue my dear,
    Wonderful letter (so much nicer than saying blog, don’t ya think?) as always, full of beauty, food, smiles, and all good things. There’s a lovely full moon tonight. I snapped a cell phone shot and texted it to my son and daughter (way grown up), reminding them of one of their favorite children’s Books, Grandfather Twilight. And I just ordered your Bella Luna cup. Thank you for a cup that will always bring a sweet smile to my face!
    Hugs to Joe and Jack and all,
    Rosemary from near Boston

  18. Val B says:

    Thanks for all your healthy tips Susan. Living life in the balance makes good sense. There’s a time for celebrating and a time to be more contemplative. Hard work pays off!
    P.S. I found it difficult to read this blog post due to the busy background.

  19. Betsy Brunette (Fishers, IN) says:

    Another inspiring blog for which I am thankful. We are all getting to the point in our winter that the idea of “airing out” sounds like the perfect antidote to our weariness with gray skies and cold and wind and lots of snow. It won’t be long now!

    The last of our offspring will be married on May 4th and this weekend is a bridal shower for our future daughter-in-law. I’m scooping up the fresh tulips at Trader Joe’s for our centerpieces which will cheer all of us up! One of the luncheon items is Carrot-Ginger Soup and I made it yesterday which made the house smell so delicious. Alongside of that will be a chicken salad and a healthy muffin. (that is probably an oxymoron)

    We have had to say goodbye to one of our dogs since your last blog and the other one is 9 months older at 15+ so we know that his days are numbered now too. The colors in my world will be so different without my fur-babies. I know that you understand totally.

    Belated Valentine hugs and kisses to you and Joe!

  20. Lynn says:

    ~Good Morning Susan~
    Your getting back to health is great! I have made major changes in my health as well over the past 5 plus years. Big chamges for me were and are~
    Trying to grow as much of my own fresh food as possible
    Eating organic or at least non gmo
    Getting the toxic chemicals (to me & the environment) out my life, including household and personal care products ( I even stopped highlighting my hair. Now I have platinum sparkles in it! Lol
    Lots of houseplants! & enjoying the glow of my salt lamp
    Getting outside as much as I can and just moving
    Listening to my favorite music on vinyl
    Starting a gratitude jar
    I am re~releasing “my inner hippie” I guess! (I’m a child of the 60’s & 70’s)
    All of these things make me feel like a much healthier & happier person!
    Health isnt just feeding the body to me it’s also feeding the soul!
    Keep up the good work!
    xoxo~ Lynn

  21. Helen Cox says:

    Please tell me – what is Musica? How can I get it? I absolutely love the music you choose for your blog.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s just my name for the MUSICA I choose for my blog. I’ve listened to this kind of music since I was in my 20s and just love to share it with my Girlfriends! Isn’t it wonderful? All the best stuff came between the 1920s and the 1950s. Big Band, movie music, ukulele music, foreign music, love all of that. Frank Sinatra!!!

  22. Bev Brewer says:

    Hi to Susan and Joe—great topic to encourage us to be mindful of taking good care of ourselves. When you mentioned power naps, it reminded me of an article I read years ago about Albert Einstein’s naps and how important they were to him. He would sit in an easy chair with a spoon in one hand, dangling it over a metal pie plate on the floor, directly under the spoon. When he dozed off, the spoon would release from his grip and hit the metal pan below, waking him up. Even though this was only seconds, he felt refreshed without the grogginess of a longer nap! On the subject of food, I like to buy organic shredded carrots in the produce section to add to salads without having to grate the carrots (when I need a timesaver method). My Mom used to make a tasty raisin-carrot salad and also cole slaw with shredded carrots. Cole slaw is so wonderful and can be made in so many different ways and who doesn’t love the crunch? Love to you both from Bev

    • sbranch says:

      The man . . . was a genius!!! 😆 My mom made carrot and raisin salad, it’s always been one of my favorites!

      • Cheyenne Renard says:

        Hello Sue & Joe , Could u please post the carrot raisin salad ur mom used to.make.Thank You.I enjoyed this post so much.God Bless u both ur amazing .We love u both so much.Happiness Daily. Youre fur baby is so previous Mr Jack xo love u xxx Cheyenne from Bullhead City Az.

        • sbranch says:

          It was so simple Cheyenne . . . a bowl full of shredded carrots, mixed with raisins and chopped walnuts to taste, a couple TB of lemon juice, and then mayonnaise to bind. There’s an actual written recipe in my Summer Book on P 72.

  23. Janet Baird says:

    Loved your “ healthy” post! I, too am in that same spot of wanting and needing to eat healthfully for balance and clarity of my body and mind. Wanted to share that I had been given a gift certificate for harvest food boxes from Talley Farms. I LOVE them!! It’s like opening a gift every two weeks brimming with vibrant color and healthy nutrition! Each box comes with storage and recipe suggestions. I had also received a set of food containers for Christmas and am enjoying the 30 minutes or so it takes to wash and store all those goodies, knowing I’m doing something special for me. The fruits and veggies are so fresh and it’s fun to get a variety… especially those I wouldn’t normally buy. I’m picking up my last “ gift” box today and can’t wait to sign up.
    Thought you would enjoy as I know Talley Farms is nearby your west coast home. Again, thank you for your inspirational post. Will be sharing it with my mom, sisters and daughters!😍🍎🥝🥬🍠🍋🥦🥕😍

  24. Congrats to the winners…so much fun to win! 🙂 Susan…you are a very smart lady to research this wonderful way of eating because you were listening to your body say “Time out…I’m on overload!” Good girl. Several years ago I thought I was eating right….just a little sugar each day, no meat, mostly veggies, etc….Wrong! I started to see a holistic metabolic doctor for a bizarre blood disorder of which conventional doctors practically put me in my grave. This particular angel doctor pin-pointed my issue in the first visit…MOLD toxicity, sugar consumption (even a relatively small amount) and no meat in my diet were putting me on a very dangerous path. For 4 years now I have been eating the way you do (all organic), I use healthy, paraben free skin products and all of my heath testing is through blood work, saliva and thermography. Voila! I’m lighter, energetic, healthy and I should be here for a while. Life is good!! So glad you’re feeling wonderful too! Much love to you, Joe and Jack xoxoxox

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

    good morning everyone!!! I don’t know if it is healthy eating or not, but if baking your bread is healthy than I have doing that for over 20 years. and I use unbleached flour and stone ground flour, not processed flour. I control the amounts of sugar or salt that go in those loaves, not a manufacturer. I shop the farmer’s markets for the freshest veggies and fruits, not only are they fresh, the price is far more reasonable than the local supermarkets. I love going in and finding beautiful onions instead of bruised and mushy ones or bright and shiny carrots, fresh lettuce and plenty of apples and fresh garlic. about the only grocery shopping I do at the supermarket is to buy the kitty litter there and some cleaning supplies. I go to a butcher for fresh meat and fish, and I refuse to buy those at the store, you never know how long they sat there. same goes for eggs, since we have chickens I have all the fresh eggs I can use and what I do not use I sell. and now since we have had some new neighbors moving in, we find we can swap for things, one neighbor has a cow and goats so I swap eggs for milk and goats milk or cheese, another is growing mushrooms and I can swap fresh baked bread for those. we have a swapping system in our neighborhood, someone has something that someone else needs and can swap for it. we live very simply here and enjoy a good life, when we can get rid of obnoxious neighbors, which we are slowly doing… YAY!!!! I even swap eggs or loaves for honey especially blackberry honey every summer… I swap for as much as I can get… delicious on pancakes, toast or scones. and terrific on ice cream. a lot of people are going back to being a farming community well backyard farming and if one is lucky enough to have neighbors doing the same thing, you can really cut down your grocery bill by swapping for things you need, we grow a big veggie garden in the summer and if we have something someone needs we trade for it. works out fine for us. and its as much fun as shopping for it, even better. I am saving up some of my egg money for a butter churn jar, its in the Vermont Country store catalog and online and this way I can control the salt and sugar there as well, sweet butter or salted butter. life is good in the country. hugs everyone….. 😀

  26. jeanie says:

    Well, I have to see THAT movie! Just looked up the cast. EVERYONE is in it! And even if it only had Bill Nighy I’d have to see it. Looks wonderful. And well done, you, with the ten pounds and revamped eating plan. You are an inspiration to me and I am both impressed and motivated by your success. Now must hop over and pre-order the calendar. Can’t wait for it (though I don’t want this year to pass too fast. Except winter. That can move along!)

  27. Lynda Slattery says:

    Thanks for the encouraging post – now I feel inspired to make a fresh start (again) and your seed mix is a good idea!

  28. Arlene Kayser says:

    I am inspired! The time has come for me to embark on the road to healthy eating (I’m far too fond of sugar) so your suggestions are most welcome and timely. I’ll be visiting Trader Joe’s and the local farmer’s market more often, and with a more discerning eye. Thank you, Susan, for your lightheartedness, warmth, and charming approach to life. I’m all smiles.

  29. Deby says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just finished a 6 month medical plan to help me with my Thyroid. (I am also taking thyroid medication) It was a good learning experience for me. Basically I found out, what you did. Inflammation in the ‘stomach’ causes all kinds of trouble. So, I don’t eat the night shades, processed foods etc… and…I feel a lot better :). I am going to continue eating healthy 🙂 Now that I am used to cooking for myself in the same way that you do, there is no need for me to change. I have another complication, that I am continuing to working on as well. So one of these days, I will be healthy physically! 🙂 Thank you for your article, it was very affirming. It was interesting to find out, that even though I didn’t ‘feel’ my inflamed stomach, it was making a mess of my sleeping and energy.

  30. Laura says:

    What to do about cakes and pies? Hmmm…some of my best recipes are from my S.B.
    special cookbooks, with illustrations that are beautifully delicious and endorphin feeding without even taking a single bite! What does WebMd say about an occasional ‘cheat day’ or treats in moderation? I’m afraid to look! Yes, I must reduce sugar, ‘tis true. I’ve overdone. But is there a glimmer of cake to stick my candle in and put our rings on? I’ve heard applesauce can be used for sugar sometimes, and honey?

    • sbranch says:

      Balance. The magic word. Hardest thing in world. Never giving up homemade pie crust. Just not the daily imbibing!

  31. Sharon Watson says:


    Talking about old movies and tissues. My favorite black & white
    is Jane Eyre with Orsen Welles and Joan Fontaine 1944.
    A bowl of Trader Joe’s Organic popcorn and your set.

  32. Paula Lewis says:

    Hi Susan,
    Just finished watching About Time, again, and it is a truly beautiful movie. I had forgotten just how much I loved it. Thanks for the reminder!

    • sbranch says:

      That Richard Curtis is Amazing. He must have a heart as big as a house. He wrote About Time, plus Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jone’s Diary!!! Woweeee.

      • Carrie says:

        “About Time” is my all-time favorite flick of Curtis and Freud, having watched it many a time. But there is one you may not have heard of, “Esio Trot,” put out as a Christmas special several years ago. It was adapted by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer from Roald Dahl’s book. Here is a review f/the Guardian:

        Also, if you haven’t listened to the life-affirming interview Curtis gave it’s worth a listen:

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you for both Carrie! I LOVED the interview with Richard Curtis . . . thank you, I put it on Twitter. The whole world should see it. I have officially added him to my hero list! He just can’t help himself. His positivity cup overfloweth.

  33. Carol says:

    Susan, this is off the subject, but I just had to tell you. As we were leaving for an outing recently my husband said “My toe hurts.” My mind immediately replied “My toes hurts Bet-tee!”

  34. Stacey says:

    Thank you for sharing your healthy dishes! I’m going to make my own seed mix and trail mix. I definitely will need to order your English Country calendar 😍🇬🇧. I am enjoying the 2019 wall calendar, it is so lovely as they always are!
    x Stacey

  35. Fran Patten says:

    Dear, dear Susan,
    You’ve been reading my mind, you rascal! I just “invented” my own snack attack stuff too. Roasted walnuts, unsalted peanuts, almonds, AND, just to be a little “naughty”, I add DARK chocolate chips. When I get that sugar craving, that does the trick. I’ve always been addicted to sugar and I am convinced it is an addiction, so lately, I too am trying to wean myself of it. We is so smart, isn’t we???

  36. Annie in CA says:

    How do you do it???!!! Just when I need an extra nudge to get back to healthy eating, there you are with your beautiful photos and great suggestions! So much better than the dry old black and white healthy cookbooks. Just what I needed. Maybe another cookbook in your future! Thanks so much for the inspiration. ❤️

  37. Sounds like another cook book by Susan Branch 🙂 Your artsy veggies and fruits would be so fun. There’s so many out there, but yours would be a feast for the body and soul.

  38. Mary Brehm says:

    Good Morning Susan! Thanks so much for a wonderful post. Very inspiring indeed. I have been feeling rather poopy and muckish lately and this blog did the trick! I will head right downstairs and make myself a healthy bowl of oatmeal.
    You lost 10 lbs Hurrah and good for you girl! (according to my girlfriend, Susan Branch, that’s 40 sticks of butter!) I lost almost 20 lbs last spring and summer leading up to my daughter’s wedding in july, but alas the weight is slowly and steadily creeping back up on me darn it!! My knees hurt, my joints ache and my brain feels verrrry muzzy and cloudy and I haven’t been sleeping well at all. So, I will take your advice and feed my body and soul with good things.
    We had a wonderful Valentines dinner at home. Beef tenderloin steaks and King crab legs. I pan seared the steaks and let them rest with a pat of compound butter. OMG….so good it would make your toes curl! I will let that be my last hurrah and start now with a healthier me.
    All the best to you Joe and Jack <3

    • sbranch says:

      Right on! 40 sticks of butter! Hooray, now for the next 40! I now have a hankering for some compound butter! 😆 xoxo

  39. Therese says:

    Oh my goodness! All that delicious-looking food and so many ideas.
    My mouth is watering.
    Sweet potatoes are one of my go-tos also. I bake up a whole bagful while I stow the rest of my groceries and then they’re ready for me whenever I’m ready for them. And it’s about time for me to do a juice cleanse–a few days of green: parsley, kale (and other leafy greens) juiced with apple
    and red: carrot, beet and sweet potato,
    lots of water… a shot of wheatgrass,
    a pretty mugful of dandelion tea
    and I feel like I can conquer the world…(with my mighty pen (0;
    whew! –gives my digestion a rest. My tummy says “thank you!” and relaxes.
    –boosts my creativity in a way that is almost unbelievable.
    –learned so many good things working in the kitchen at a retreat center years ago. Now I’m committed…a cheerleader even.
    Love and gratitude to you dear Susan, as always!

  40. Therese says:

    For Nancy Helsema–
    Check out Jenny Joseph’s poem “When I am an old woman”…

    At 70 I am still in my twenties in my heart and head…sometimes much younger.
    and, you know, “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly;”

  41. Debbie Boerger says:

    Morning all. Thanks to Susan’s blog, Tom and I made a stop at Trader Joe’s on the home yesterday. Seeds, and more seeds. A bag of chopped kale and a spice to sprinkle it. Young person stocking the bins in produce said I should try the Chili Lime on my roasted kale. Ooooo, good. Not too spicy, just right. Seal in bag to use later on salads, in soups or in your bath water…..just kidding!

    Stay safe in this tumultuous weather, everyone,
    Debbie in Tampa….very warm for this time of year

  42. Cynthia says:

    Loved this post. Food for my soul for sure. I bought Marie Condos book on tidying up a year ago. Cleaned out closets and it felt good. Now I need to tackle basement…..scary!! On eating healthy, I am encouraged by your attitude on this subject. I have my own little hens, so I get good eggs, but do better in summer when I have my own garden. I love Trader Joe’s, but he is 45 miles from me. I just need to be diligent about making a list and get there at least once a week. Need to make your nut mix. Just a question…..your yellow car on cover of book, girl in bed with kitties, Vanna’s slipper or young girl whistling carrying big Valentine…..are they on any of your cups? I know, long question. Thanks for your inspiration!!

    • sbranch says:

      None of those bits of art are on cups. Certain images, like the bed with girl and kitties, or the tall girl dropping hearts, when made small enough to fit on cups, they sort of disappear. The shoe would work. The yellow car is a VW which you’re allowed (copyright-wise) to put on a cover of a book (for some unknown reason) but not allowed to put on any other sort of product!

  43. Mary Eva says:

    Hey Susan, I’m reading through your post, chowing down on a bag of cape cod kettle chips feeling so guilty. For the most part I am the one who eats pretty healthy, but SOMETIMES I NEED CHIPS! I rarely crave sugar snacks, I crave the salty ones. Heading up to Trader Joe’s for my nuts and seeds. Thanks again for the post, I enjoy them so much, always have!

    • sbranch says:

      You would adore Trader Joe’s plantain chips!!! SO good. Perfect in Guacamole! No rules, however, we don’t believe in rules around here, eat what you like!

  44. Mary Ellen says:

    I have eaten a healthy diet and walked or hiked daily for years. I am in my late 60s and it has served me well. I have amazing energy and feel like a kid at heart. My theory is that since I may live into my 90s, I need to plan ahead, As I age, I want to remain engaged and very active. I am lucky to live in Prescott, AZ, (well known by you!) so the great outdoors is at my doorstep.

    I love the healthy recipes you included. I think you should do a new healthy Heart of the Home cookbook. I love the farm to table trend. What I do not grow in my garden, I try to buy at our local farmers market which is now open all year round.

    Thank you for your wonderful blogs and endless enthusiasm and inspiration!

  45. Sandra L. says:

    Oh, where did you get that adorable little pottery vase? I collect pottery!

    I have not heard of “About Time” but “Love Actually” is such a great film. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

  46. Anne in Maine says:

    Good for you for losing ten pounds!!! But most of all, GREAT for you for going about this new style of eating to be HEALTHY! So much great information in this post. Thank you!! Absolutely LOVED the trailer on About Time. I found myself smiling while I was watching it. It’s a definite “must see”. Have an absolutely extraordinary ordinary day!!! Anne

  47. Linda says:

    Hi Susan,
    Like all your girlfriends, I really enjoy reading your posts. They take me away for a short time and are always a fun read. I took a nutrition class back in the 80’s. I try to eat fairly healthy- love sweet potatoes, beets, avocados, and such, but I still get a hankering for a good cookie or sweet. I remind myself that my grandmother ate a molasses cookie with her coffee every morning and she lived to almost 100! So, a little sugar has to be good, right? That is my rational anyways- ha ha! I, also, had a grandfather who was an old-time doctor. In his office was a plaque “dine with little, sup with less, do better still sleep supperless”. I do sleep better with less in the ol’ tummy and have never really struggle with weight much.

    I love to start my day with a good bowl of oatmeal. There is an olive mill in Queen Creek AZ where they serve their oatmeal with a drizzle of vanilla or chocolate infused olive oil and it is so good that I now buy the vanilla infused olive oil to drizzle on my daily oatmeal at home with nuts, fruit, flax, chia, cinnamon and turmeric. Tasty stuff!

    I think someone had asked you before but I don’t remember your answer. You put out a Summer and Autumn book. Are you planning to put out a book for Winter and Spring? Love those four season sets of anything- ha!

    Thanks for making the world a cheerier place and putting a good outlook on life!

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe someday . . . I have kind of a lineup of books of the future! Thank you Linda! Your diet sounds like it’s working perfectly, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  48. Allyson says:

    Thank you for the inspiration, Susan!! Going to make oatmeal 🙂

  49. Heather says:

    thank you for giving all of us the inspiration we need! Harrah! On to Spring!

  50. Sreekala says:

    Hi Susan,

    Loved this post and its emphasis on all things healthy. Please do make sure that you are getting enough salt. My mother had a scary episode of disorientation which was traced to low sodium. She had drastically reduced her salt intake to reduce blood pressure, which added to the effect of her pressure medication and brought on the episode. Take care!

    • sbranch says:

      I changed the salt thing, once I realized I’m eating only real food, nothing from a box or mix or package or anything like that, I realized I might need some! Good advice!

  51. Patti Barrett says:

    Came home last evening in time to see the Super Moon smiling at me, then read your blog Complete with cardinals in the snow, just in time to lift my spirits! Ordered your moon mug and calendar to celebrate the beauty of this world. Thank you Susan! Stay healthy and happy!

  52. Connie says:

    “About Time” is one of my all-time favorite movies! The music is amazing and the message is what we all want in our lives – to slow down and cherish each and every moment! A must-see! The girlfriends will thank you for this wonderful suggestion! My daughter brought it to me a year and a half ago and said, “Sit down Mom, we are watching a movie!” I have now watched it at least 6 times and when it ends, I just want to start it up all over again!

  53. Barbie says:

    Spot on Susan B.! I’ve been having the “lonelies” and this cheered me up to no end.

  54. Peggy Cooper says:

    Hi Susan! I’ve been missing some of these for a while. Was just in a foggy place with some health issues of my family and myself, but I’m coming back into the light, and enjoyed this post very much. I do believe it’s the little things in life that mean the most. After all, those are the things we see and feel day after day. And I also think if we got back to more real food, not worrying so much about fat and calories, but eliminating artificial ingredients, we’d all be better off. We adopted an English Springer Spaniel puppy on Halloween, and named her Tasha after Tasha Tudor. At 70 years old, having such an active puppy has been a challenge, but a fun one also. So she has been my exercise these last few months, but it’s time I got back to some more serious workouts to keep these old bones healthy. I looked at the trailer for the “About Time” movie, and can’t believe I haven’t seen this. It looks wonderful. And “Love Actually” is one of my favorite movies. Speaking of movies, we usually try to see at least the ones nominated for Best Picture so we can have a little Oscar Party with our daughter who is a movie buff. We used to print the ballots and give out inexpensive prizes related to the movies nominated and serve what we call snackages (aka junk food). But since we’ve had the puppy, and our daughter also rescued a German Shepherd, none of us
    has seen much this year. Well again, thank you for the lovely post.

  55. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    At age 72, I am still always tying to do better, whether it be with my food or my patience (caregiving can stretch it thin sometimes), or my appreciation of every small/great thing in daily life. My new favorite breakfast is Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats. I throw raisins and cinnamon right into the pot so that the raisins plump up and sweeten the oatmeal, then add blueberries and walnuts on top. About Time was a darling movie, and so life affirming. It would be fun to go back in time to some younger days. I know I would better appreciate my 25 year old body! I want to live in that family home in Cornwall! The movie sure did make me cry. Anyway, thanks for always inspiring us to do better. It’s like the James Taylor song – another day to finally find our way.❤️

  56. Sue in Houston says:

    Hi Susan! I recently — by accident — discovered a fabulous “dessert.” Just toss a bowl of blueberries in the microwave for about a minute. They’ll come out with lots of juice, and I discovered that warm blueberries taste just like pie! (And yes, I cheat a little and add just a dab of whipped cream on top; they taste absolutely decadent. Yummm…). All that goodness, and super-healthy, too!

    One other note…”old” is at least 10 years over your current age. I turned 65 in November and plan to stay an over-aged juvenile delinquent forever! 🙂

  57. Regina Carretta says:

    I love reading about the foods you are eating…greens and a bit o chocolate keep life good, right? Spring is creeping in….cold, rainy Seattle, I have some primroses and narcissus hanging around, and my 8 year old niece sent me a bouquet of roses and alstromeria for my birthday….just the stuff that is important in life…..I have been balancing friends, music, flowers, purging, with the occassional letter to Nancy Pelosi – she is so intelligent, such a leader, and I feel safer with her 2nd in line to be president….the insanity continues in our government, there is so much to learn – so the balance of beauty but staying alert and smart, and educated is the key for me, here in my 70th year….plus readying for a week in London in April – friend will meet me for a few days, from Dublin, so we can go to Sissinghurst….other friend and I will explore all the church gardens and hidden gems around London, like the Columbia Road Flower Market,and Cecil Court (booksellers row)…..balance…..being in and of the world…..caring about our government…..being with friends, doing art, looking at art, engulfing in music, and hugging our critters…..Love you Susan – you are a friend far away, but close by…..

  58. Lynn C Maust says:


  59. That film About Time is a winner for sure Susan. I adore those types of movies, but also old movies. My MIL and I used to have old film weekend binges. She would record them all and then when we went over to the Island to visit, she and I would stay up late watching them together. I miss those. Congrats to your lucky winners! They must be happy dancing all over their homes! I would be for sure. Love all of your advice to Naomi and your staying healthy hints and tips. I need to do more of this myself. I am a slave to all my appetites and it shows. I need to practice more self-mastery and sugar is a huge culprit. I am trying hard to buckle down. I need to be a better planner, because I find if I don’t plan, then I am more likely to cave into temptation! I love that Joe calls taking you out and about an “airing out.” My husband wanted to take me on an airing out the other day to the Horseshow Pass. Cold, but pretty. A great way to shake off the winter cobwebs. Thanks for all that you share! PS – have to share this lovely and true quote with you and the other girls. “A healthy lifestyle isn’t about what you lose. It’s about what you gain.” ♥♥♥

  60. Lauri in VA says:

    I love, love, love this post!! So much good information to keep us happy and healthy. You and your blog are a ray of warmth and sunshine in the cold gray winter 🥰🌄🌻. I’m so glad to be one of the “girlfriends”!

  61. I keep Steel cut oats on hand and put them in the crockpot over night. Makes a good size batch to eat on for several days. And I love roasted veggies and sweet potatoes…could live on them! Having Diabetes, I’m not a sweets person and if I do bake sweets, I take a taste and then give to family.

  62. Kathleen Moore says:

    Thought you might like to know Vermont Country Store Spring catalog has Peter Rabbit stuff all through the pages! Teapots , cups , plates, tins, etc. Loads of very cute things!!

  63. JudyCurrie says:

    One of my favorite poems from his book “MEET ME HALFWAY ” by JAVAN. Thought it was very appropriate for today’s post, which was tremendous by the way. Like a quick kick in the butt!!!

    We are born into the World
    Like a blank canvas
    And each person that crosses our path
    Takes up the brush
    And makes his mark
    Upon our surface

    So it is that we develop

    But we must realize there comes a day
    That we must take up the brush
    And finish the work
    For only we can determine
    If we are to be
    Just another painting
    Or a Masterpiece

  64. Debbie Boerger says:

    Forgot to mention the Trader Joe’s toasted flax seed. Wonderful on just about anything. The toasting extends the shelf life, no rancid oil taste. I also store all seeds, nuts, and spices in the freezer. I love cooking Asian, all things Mediterranean, Indian, South American, and those that require lots of wonderfully pricey seasonings. Also, I keep oils in fridge, except for the smaller bottles you use often.
    I remember the spices and other seasonings in our kitchen growing up. Stored right next to the stove… cleaning the sticky little tins or jars once a year. I was amazed the first time I bought fresh ones at a Lebanese grocery. No turning back for me.

    Thank you, Susan, for stirring up this line of Thought 😉
    Debbie….still in Tampa, looking more and more toward Maine and the gardens,
    smell of balsams, apple trees in bloom, migrating birds singing, local
    ones mating and building nests.

  65. Donna Crouch says:

    Best blog ever! So inspiring and encouraging. Thank you.

  66. Ginny Evans says:

    So happy that you have “found the way” when it comes to healthy eating! We truly are what we eat and reap the physical rewards or consequences of our daily choices. I love that you have a balanced approach and haven’t bought to the extremes. You did a good job on your research!

    Taking lovely photos of your meals is such an affirmation, not only for you, but for all of us–your specialty! Funny how we are all becoming good friends, by sharing with you. Love it! Also loving the hints of spring showing up in your posts. Missing the east coast, so you bring me there 🙂

    Blessings dear girl,

  67. Therese says:

    I’ve just been window-shopping, looking at the new mug designs and especially your Bella Luna mug. bella, indeed!

    It immediately Brings to mind the Vachel Lindsey poem;
    “The moon’s the North Wind’s cookie”
    your moon is the perfect sable!

  68. Debbie Boerger says:

    For Elaine in Toronto,
    Thanks so much for telling me about Rosamunde Pilcher’s last book, Winter Solstice. This is why I read each and every comment by the Girl Friends 😉

    Debbie…still in Tampa

    • Elaine in Toronto says:

      You’re so welcome, Debbie. Rosamunde’s collection of short stories are really enjoyable, too. I found several of her books in thrift stores. Hugs, Elaine

  69. Sher says:

    Dear Susan,

    This post is one of your best! It has everything I love about you: encouragement, beautiful, comforting photos and great recipe ideas.

    I purchased your Christmas book well over 25 years ago – we’ve been friends a long time now. 🙂

  70. Kelly says:

    Hi Susan,
    There may have been several other comments like the one I am going to post but just thinking what a fantastic cookbook you could put together for “Post-Holiday Healthy Eating”! I too am not a fad diet person, they all seem so drastic and not really healthy in the long run. It’s just nice to have a little inspiration to remind us of all the wonderful, healthy winter foods that are available!! I would certainly purchase the book if you put one together… 😉 Thank you for all that you share with us.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for the encouragement Kelly . . . I put that one on my list. So many luv-lee ideas in the world, too bad I can’t grow a couple more hands two of which I would leave in the studio at all times! 😆

  71. Kimberly L Young says:

    Oh Susan, You’ve done it again. Shined your sweet flashlight on the subjects we all ponder, talk about, worry about…But with loving and smart ideas, pictures ( see, it’s not so hard girlfriends), and encouragement. The Daffodils are in bloom here in NC and I’m starting to get that, must get outside and tidy feeling, so a bit more energy and a little less Heft are needed.
    Read your blog just a few minutes before grocery store trip and boy OH boy was that a good thing. List is adjusted and I’m inspired. Oh, I put together your seed mix when you first mentioned it and it goes on so many things! I’m a fan of CRUNCH and this is tops. Off I go feeling like i just got off the phone with my lovely Aunt 🙂

  72. Jan Lane says:

    Susan, I am rather excited! I was reading a bit of info about you on the internet. I discovered that you are also of the “Stuart” line. We may in fact be related. My great, great Grandma was called Susan Jonas, and she married Lyman Stuart. One of their daughters, Susan Stuart, was my Great Grandma and she married Varnum Glidden of DeKalb, Illinois. My mother descended from the Stuart-Glidden family. We have ties to the Stuart lineage in the UK. I wonder if indeed we are distant cousins… may explain why I feel connected to you and we share many interests in common.

    • sbranch says:

      Very possible . . . Once you get into your family tree and go back far enough you realize we’re probably ALL related! I’ve done a lot of Murray, Stewart, Jerome, Foster ~ but the names are endless and all point to the UK! Such a fascinating grounding thing to do!

      • jan says:

        It is fun. I actually had only the DNA test done on and do not subscribe as it is a fair bit of change to belong. I found some cousins, however. So that was well worth the investment. One of the cousins, Benita Stuart Towle has been digging around the genealogy sites for some time now and this expanded my knowledge of my maternal side. Anyway, I got off track a bit, so apologize for that. Off to start the day. I have had my coffee, made the bed………next chore is to prepare a healthy bowl of oats for myself and for my husband. Until I added a spoon of brown sugar and fresh fruit or dried fruit, nuts, etc, he would not touch it. I have not been able to persuade him to do sweet potatoes, but of course they are delicious and versatile. Yummy

        • sbranch says:

          Men! (Ha! Just kidding! But Joe won’t go without his brown sugar on his oatmeal either!) He does eat sweet potatoes!

  73. Susan M.R. says:

    Thank you for this lovely post Susan! I had the same goal as you regarding food–simple and healthy but have had trouble getting started. Thank you for all the ideas and recipes and I LOVE the English countryside calendar. Pre-ordering today. Cheers for good health for everyone in 2019! xxo

  74. Ellen from New Hampshire says:

    What a wonderful post! So many good things packed in here!! Thanks for all of the healthy meal ideas and the encouragement to make good choices. They certainly don’t seem like a hardship at all. I love your seed mix. I think I am going to give that idea a try. I definitely echo your sentiments this time of year. By the time March rolls around I feel like a big fat lump and I just need to get moving and make some changes or I will go crazy. I see I am not alone. I have been wanting to recommend a book to you that I think will be right up your alley. It is called The Shape of a Year by Jean Hersey. Do you know it? It can be difficult to find. It was published in 1967. It is “a month-by-month chronicle of events in one woman’s life, in her Connecticut house set in a meadow bounded by a rushing brook and hills covered with maples and hemlocks.” (dust jacket). It is a lovely, soothing read about the simple things in life and how the simple things are life. I thought of you when I read it.

  75. Carlie Blackhurst says:

    Hello Susan!

    I wanted to take a moment here to tell you that today marks one full year since discovering you!
    My very close girlfriend, Rachel, intoduced me to “A Fine Romance” last year, after she bought it for her father. We work together in a small library on the Alabama coast, and were lucky to find all of your books in our county! We took turns reading them all, and just fell in love. Then Rachel discovered your blog, and we’ve been totally hooked! This morning, we both realized that it was our “Susan Branch-iversary” and we celebrated with giant mugs of tea!
    Thank you so much Susan, for sharing your stories and your art with all of us.
    You’ve definitely brightened our lives!

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Branchiversary! I’m thrilled to celebrate with you and Rachel! Very cute! Thank you! Happy to have found you!

  76. Judith Kaufman says:

    Hi there, Susan!
    My Sweetie and I have been eating “paleo” for a year. No sugar, no white four, no soy or dairy. We eat lots of fish, seafood, beef and chicken, etc. You get the idea. Fresh fruit and veggies. I make ice cream and cookies and cakes. I use honey, maple syrup and Stevia. Lots to choose from! Main thing is that it’s all fresh. I’ve lost nearly 30 lbs and my husband nearly 40. We feel good and it’s really easy! Good luck with all your yummy foods as well!
    Love your blog. It’s always filled with kindness, sweetness and love!

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

    good afternoon Susan, Girlfriends. well its snowing outside right, nice big fluffy flakes and the kittens are so fascinated by that and busy watching and trying to catch the snowflakes. they have been the usual little gremlins around here lately, up to usual mischief and fun. next week they go in for their appointment wit the vet for neutering, Saturday they go to the shot clinic for their shots. looks like a nice day for another shepherd’s pie for supper, something warm and hearty. have some big news for everyone… we are going to tear down this house and rebuild with a new house on the property. hubby’s parents have really been putting the pressure on him to have us move back down to their house and take over the payments… sorry but I refuse. they have literally trashed that place, the front yard is a disgrace, the backyard is totally dead, inside the house it needs some repairs and outside it needs a new paint job. our house now has a lot of problems with it thanks to the bozo who remodeled it, he claimed to a licensed contractor… nope!!! he was a liar and a con artist. and took just about every short cut in the book and invented a few of his own to fix the place and resell it. well we took stock of the repair jobs that need to be done and they are so many and to tackle them separately is too expensive so we decided to tear down the house and begin again. we are going with Hiline homes for the construction, house design and floor plan. and we are excited. now I just have to figure out how to get rid of some of this junk and we are talking major yard sale here, and major donations to goodwill, the local thrift shops and salvation army. hubby’s parents are not too thrilled with this idea, but tough T-bones, they don’t have live here and we do. and since we like the area and the property this is a logical choice. I will try to keep you posted on what will be going on. but for now we are looking at plans and deciding on the house design, decisions, decisions…. and I love looking at floor plans… once someone explains them to me… LOL!!! have a great day everyone, stay warm and comfy. hugs……. 😀

    • sbranch says:

      Fun! Good for you Pat!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        we are just at the house design and floor plan stage, trying to decide what we want. Ed definitely wants a garage and a workshop and I want a bigger pantry to store some appliances in and store the canned food as well.. well we may have found it floor plan 2248 at we each get what we want and a bonus room, may turn that into a patio for the cats, a catio so to speak. a place for all their toys and cat trees and such and where they can play and do whatever in there and its their room.

  78. Darlene says:

    Great blog, Susan.
    Something worth knowing is that ground flax seed is easier to digest, because the whole seeds may pass through intestines undigested. So, in order to get the full benefits from the seeds, it is best to eat them ground. I grind the seeds in my blender and keep the jar in the fridge so they don’t go rancid. Each morning I add a spoonful to my granola. Years ago I made changes to my way of eating–organic, whole foods, cook from scratch, eliminated processed foods, etc. I make my own granola with Bob’s Red Mill organic oatmeal, use real 100 per cent olive oil and raw honey, walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds, dried apricots and cranberries and lots of cinnamon and nutmeg. Trying to eat more vegetables has been my biggest challenge. For example, I don’t like sweet potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and especially avocados. I’ve tried the new trendy ways of eating them and have failed. My solution has been soup. I put everything but the kitchen sink in my soups with larger quantities of the veggies I do like with smaller amounts of those I don’t like. My freezer is full of a variety of soups. Little diced bites of veggies in deli salads are another way I sneak them into my body. Roasted veggies with a drizzle of a sauce works for me too. I’m 78 years old and, when I’ve had tests, the doctors have told me to keep doing whatever it is I’m doing, so the effort must be worth it. Healthy is a good thing.

  79. Care Woodard says:

    Hello our fearless, favorite, light spreading blogger! Any word about when the tiny little pitchers of courage are coming? We need them now more than ever:) Also do you, or any of the girlfriends, know what the beautiful, pierced and cut lampshades are called? The ones where spills out in in the shape of flowers and beauty:) Where do I find them nowadays? I hope you had a wonderful day! I heard the thunder of the ice melting and breaking up. Spring on the way:)

    • sbranch says:

      I KNOW. I am haunting the company that makes them. I do not understand why we don’t have them yet. It’s upsetting, but our contact says they’ve just not had good luck, people have quit, new people have come in, that sort of thing. It won’t be long now. I think you might find those pierced lampshades on Etsy.

  80. Annie in IL says:

    The book recommended by a girlfriend, ‘The Shape of a year’, does, indeed, sound like Gladys Tabor. I went right to ABEbooks on line, found several copies and ordered one immediately.

  81. Donna from Kennett Square says:

    I am turning 60 this year and boy is it hard not to give in. To what you ask? Delicious food, that is bad for me, lovely laziness, which is not good for me, mind numbing TV…and the list goes on. You have to find how to fight and enjoy the fight. Susan-you have learned to eat delicious, beautiful healthy food. Farm market time is just around the corner or buy a share in a CSA! I have come to LOVE yoga and meditation the work my body and my mind and make me so full of joy and peace. DVR the shows you love so that you don’t get in the habit of just watching whatever is on… Live the best life you can!

  82. Jenifer Mitchell says:

    Dear Susan, it’s taken me a couple of weeks to find time to read this latest blog entry but here I am! Yay! Just want to say what a wonderful act of service you provide all of us by sharing your life and talents. Isn’t this what life’s all about? Reaching out to others, providing connection and joy. Girlfriend, that in itself is a talent!! Also, when I read all of the replies it really feels like you’re all addressing your advice and ideas directly to ME! (Ahem… not to sound overly self-important.) But you all know what I mean, it feels like I’m reading notes from dear friends. And I do so appreciate that because I’m often somewhat isolated due to my “life with lupus.” That could almost be a strange band name, right? ANYWAY, I thank you, Susan, and all of you dear girlfriends for the great healthy-food-tips. I’m always looking for ways to feel as healthy as possible and, my gosh, FOOD is at the forefront of that! So, again, a big THANK YOU to everyone here. xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Good Morning Jenifer . . . I feel the same as you, what a wonderful community of kindred spirits we have here! Thank you for being a part of it! xoxo

  83. Therese says:

    Hello Jenifer,
    I just want to share that diet can really help alleviate symptoms of lupus.
    I hope you’ll talk to a nutritionist or dietitian.
    And, while we’re enjoying the nature-lovers’ books, Hal Borland, especially “Twelve Moons of the Year” deserves a shout-out.
    Happy Sunday and Happy Women’s History Month dear Susan.

  84. Meg R. - Mount Pleasant, SC says:

    Oh the snowdrops, thank you for my yearly visit down memory lane. Remembering my Grampy bringing me a small bunch.

  85. Rita Wandro says:

    Hi Susan!
    Wonderful & amazing post! You inspire me so much🤗
    We definitely need to eat less Carbonated drinks, Refine sugar, Artificial sweeteners & colors, and Processed foods😝.
    It is better for us to eat more Fruits & veggies, Organic lean proteins, Omega 3 fatty acids, and Drink water😊.
    Thank you so much,

    • sbranch says:

      You should have written this post, you said what I said in one small paragraph! I could just make it easy and say: “What she said.” xoxoxo

  86. carolyn mason says:

    Hi, just enjoyed your stress related post. I recently came across a book:
    The Little Grey men by BB (pseudonym for Denys Watkins-Pitchford.) It’s actually a children’s book. It is such a gem! Such a descriptive story about the English countryside. You almost can smell and feel and touch the flowers and trees. I was transported to my childhood in the lake district. the book is actually written about the south of England but same feel of countryside. The author wrote in the 1940’s onward about English country life with gorgeous illustrations you would appreciate. Just thought you’d like to check it out!! all the best, Carolyn

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Carolyn! That book sounds so familiar . . . I’m going to dig around in my old books and see if I may have it!

  87. Meg Cooper says:

    Sounds like inspiration for a new cookbook!!

  88. MaryLois Kuhn Kuhn says:

    Do you have another Susan Branch Adventure planned?

  89. Pamela Betz says:

    Dear Susan–Love reading your blog! 2 questions –What is the number of the most responses you have ever received to a single blog? And do you have any idea how much longer it will be until I receive the little window sill vases I have ordered. They are for gifts and I am getting concerned they won’t arrive in time?

    • sbranch says:

      I’m concerned too. I really don’t understand what is going on. I’ve been told, any day now, but any day comes and goes and they aren’t here. I really do expect them within the next 2 weeks, if not sooner. I will write them again today. I’m not sure the number of most responses is … but I know when they happen . . . giveaways! Normally I get between 3 and 7 hundred comments, maybe, closer to 4 or 5 hundred most of the time, but when we have a giveaway it goes to between 2 and 4 thousand!!! Girlfriends who normally just read, will leave a comment, so that’s always fun.

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