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. Amy Byman says:

    I’m wishing and hoping for a Spring and Winter book to go with my well worn summer and Autumn books. Am I waiting in vain?

    • sbranch says:

      Well, before I get to those, I need to finish my ENCHANTED book, and then a book about HOME, and then a secret book, then my Breakfast book, and then if I get all that done, I might work on a Spring and Winter! I wish there were more hours in a day!!!

      • Andi Brannon says:

        Yes please! A winter and spring book would’ve perfect!

      • diana from ancaster says:

        one thing at a time…..
        it will all get done.

      • Kate says:

        Yes, please, to both books!

      • Susan Morgon says:

        A SECRET book? Oh, now that’s intriguing! (I’m so glad to see you mention Enchanted – I can hardly wait for it to come out. In the fall, maybe?) Your books are my favorite of all of the things you create. Do you already know what your topic will be, or are you just keeping your options open?

      • Linda Pintarell says:

        So looking forward to breakfast book as that is my favorite meal to make. Remember some years ago…PANCAKES was in motion to be done…so I assume that is the BREAKFAST book.

      • Barbara Irvine says:

        Ooooooh, how wonderful! Like everyone, I’m so looking forward to “Enchanted”, and it’s wonderful news there will be “Home”, a secret book, and a “Breakfast” book. Then maybe “Winter” and “Spring” … I’ll clear some space on the book shelf.

        Thank you for all your hard work, Susan … we all appreciate everything you do!

    • Marybeth Ferrie says:

      I’m with Amy!

    • Jana says:

      I’ll take Enchanted and definitely a book on Home Sweet Home. My homey-home and my petty-pet are the best things in life!

  2. Nicoline says:

    Susan dear,
    LOVE the post, all your good advice!! Thank you for all the tips and ideas! Even though I am pretty pleased with myself (am I allowed…?) that I have been eating lots of seeds and nuts for years and we have been vegetarians for more than 25 years, I also am discovering how good avocado’s are on wholemeal toast!
    I can testify that cutting out sugar will make you feel so much better!! No more head aches, yeah!! I also noticed these last couple of years that your body will tell you if it’s good for you or NOT!! I no longer can eat prepared or packaged food, I will feel ill after….so I now make my own sauces or dressings etc, tastier and I know what is in it.
    Wondering what you will do/use for baking? I have found out that using Fructose or fruit sugar or dark brown coconut sugar works just as well, but it wont give you that “high” normal sugar often does….
    It’s like spring here at the moment!! Snowdrops in the garden, and people walking around in short sleeves! Last weekend it was up to 15 or 17C!!
    Okay, it’s bedtime here, and I am off to prepare our overnight oats, with almond milk, cinnamon, seeds, nuts and slices of banana, yumm
    bye bye and Lots of love

    • sbranch says:

      Hi sweetie! You are definitely allowed! That’s what I’m working up to! Interesting info on sugar. I’ll wait, so far, I don’t have a yearning, but someday I’m sure I’ll want to “branch out” so to speak! Healthy girl, lovely to hear from you!

  3. Christie Levin says:

    Love you, too, Sue. 💗 Thank you for so much happy healthy encouragement! This is the most cheerful, uplifting exoneration to pursue the healthiest living you can that I’ve ever read! Basic, sound examples of which foods to seek and why they are worth the effort. Usually when I see articles about healthy eating/living, my brain almost automatically yawns and goes into “seen this/tried that” mode, but your sharing writing style has so much extra heart that your messages are like music to my eyes. xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I was SO worried that might be the case with this one, thank you Christie. I’m pretty excited about it, so I hope that translated in a nice, not preachy way! “Music to your eyes.” Who can’t fall in love with that! XOXOXOXO

  4. Lillian Olmstead says:

    Dear Sue,
    What a great post. You are really good at inspiring us about just the very thing we were thinking about on our own at the same moment. Magic?
    Happy late winter,
    Lillian XOXOXO

  5. Maureen Abramson says:

    Sorry, this is my second post for this blog…I love all the great healthy food tips and photos of them you have listed. You make it so easy which is what I need. And I have tested high for inflammation and need to make some serious changes as I’m starting to experience the results of it. It’s not fun. Not to mention that I’ve gained weight these last three weeks being on my own and running back and forth to see my husband in hospital and now rehab. Grabbing what I can to eat on the run. What you’ve shown here are are doable meals for one person and hopefully soon, back to two.

    It is such a pleasure and respite for me to read your blogs. Thank you for sharing.


    • sbranch says:

      No, it’s not fun. And it seems, so far, pretty easy to heal from it, although I still have a ways to go. Wonderful that you don’t have to take pills for it, just a few changes and it will go away. And when it does, it takes a lot of things we don’t like with it!!! I’m sure you’re under a mountain of stress, that’s one of the main causes of inflammation. Be sure to take long baths, meditate, walk, or something, MUSICA, good book, just for you. Gotta fight back! Sounds like your husband is better, and that’s wonderful news!

      • Maureen Abramson says:

        Love the encouragement and advice. Thank you for your kind response. Yes, my husband is getting better. It was incredibly stressful those first few days. But thank God he’s healing and now in rehab to strengthen his arms and legs. He’s doing better everyday. Yay! I think I need some shopping therapy at the web store! 🙂


  6. Terri Brewster says:

    So happy to see your blog post this morning as I sit looking at my cheerful Desk Blotter for the month of Feb. and working on taxes. My desk would be so boring without your beautiful desk blotter and can’t wait for the one for 2020.
    I like you decided to get on a health kick this year, and am eating better and exercising. It is amazing what little changes can do to your life and mental health.
    Thank you for an extraordinary post this morning to give me a break from taxes.

  7. Rosemary says:

    Thank you brightening up my day! I too need to eat healthy and it brings a smile to my face knowing that you are too. Happy to purchase the new calendar – something different even though I’m grateful your still doing a watercolor calendars. They are my favourite. ❤️
    Happy Presidents Day 😘

  8. Sue says:

    Susan, I feel I just heard from a good friend. Thank you.

  9. Karen Baron says:

    Thanks for the wonderful information about healthful eating. Another fabulous blog post! Your snowdrops are gorgeous!!🌹🤗

  10. Chris N. Fitzgerald says:

    The ingredients: Poached or soft boiled egg, avocado, tomato. Fix however you want.

  11. DeAnna Passmore says:


    I just adore the bowl your oatmeal is in! Is it red transferware? That’s one of my favorite things to collect!

    We have gently falling snowflakes here in NE Ohio – they’re so pretty! I notice my daffodils and hyacinths have started to make their way up! So exciting ! Thank you for the blog posts. They always bring a smile to my face!

  12. mari1017 says:

    Happy New Year, Susan! Love this post ♥♥ Glad you received some snow…it is after all New England 🙂 So much good, really good, life news for all of us. Great musica, new things! in your store (I LOVE my Cupcakes rug, been in 3 houses now and still looks like new ♥) My favorite is your England calendar that I will be preordering. I made a decision when I moved here to NC to cut the cable cord and get a Roku tv. Instead of paying for junk I never watch, So much free, and also I pay small monthly rates for Acorn tv and BritBox and PBS Traveler (which is like a monthly donation and includes all the archives) – no contracts, can cancel and sign back up whenever. Never lack anything to watch and save money at the same time! Am in the middle of a season of “Escape to the Country.” Loving it…reminds me so much of your book and now your calendar. So happy you decided to do this. Look forward to your new books, too.
    So here’s to a grand, healthy, full of life 2019 – cheers! mari

  13. Joan of Cape Cod says:

    Susan, your “blogus healthius” (the name entertained me) was fun to read. Over here on the Cape on this snowy day I made Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili for lunch. Yummy and perfect for the day. Google those words for the recipe from Eating Well. Thanks for the additional menu ideas. I need all the helpius I can get! Cheers!

  14. Pamela Linn Burkham says:


    I know I repeat myself but your blogs always come in perfect timing! I am thrilled at your sensible eating plan and my only caution is watching those carbohydrates that turn to sugar. You are doing great – continue on. You are a blessing to us.

  15. Laura Lee says:

    Reading this post on healthy eating has given me a lot to think about. I’ll have to study on the subject and work on incorporating healthy eating ways into my families diet. Thanks for the info! enjoy your blogs & Willard!

  16. Shelia McGuckin says:

    I’m rereading your trilogy about your life. I use started A Fine Romance. How blessed you were to meet Joe Hall after being hurt so much! God brings people into your life that are supposed to be there.
    Your childhood was very much like mine….we read many of the same books….had the same idea of what being an adult would be….watched some of the same movies.
    I love your blogs and your Willards!
    Is your next book going to be about Scotland? Or Ireland?

    • sbranch says:

      SO blessed. And I lived here six years before I found him. All things at the right time. I knew I wasn’t in it alone when I wrote those books! Kindred spirits galore! Thank you Shelia! Next book is called ENCHANTED ~ ENGLAND, IRELAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES. It’s got it all! xoxo

  17. Terri says:

    How do you make lemon hummus please?

    • sbranch says:

      The lazy way, I buy the organic stuff at our grocery store. If you want to make it, I have a wonderful recipe on page 16 of Heart of the Home. It calls for the juice of one juicy lemon, I would include the zest of that lemon too! Hope you like it!

  18. Peggy says:

    Hi Susan – I just finished reading your blog and enjoyed every minute. Please keep me in the loop on how your Mom, Pat, is doing. I am still in touch with quite a few friends from the old McDonnell Douglas days.
    I have a suggestion. Please make a Birthday Book with all your beautiful artwork. I had a hardcover book from 20 years ago and it has about seen its last days. I would think yours would be fantastic.

    • sbranch says:

      I will keep that in mind Peggy. And yes, my mom is good. Memory, not so much, but she’s happy, and physically fit for an 89 year old!!! Thank you for asking!

  19. Beth T. says:

    Having just finished up some chores, I sat down to read your note. I’m now tucked in with a heating pad, a cat on my lap, a puppy cuddling up with the cat, and dogs and cats snoozing all around the room. The news is on in the television but the pets are assuring me we will get through this together. I can attest to the beauty of the Ordinary Extraordinary.

  20. Carla says:

    I’ve often turned to your books over the years for your fabulous recipes when I wanted to share food with others. But as a diabetic trying to eat very low carb I didn’t often use them just for myself. I probably need to go back through with an eye to what I can use or modify to make it mine. I love your style, Susan Branch!

  21. Kim says:

    Thank you, Susan (or “Soobie”, as I think of you) ~ I’m already looking forward to reading Part 2! ❤️

  22. Cheryl hubbard says:

    Will the calendars be available on the UK BBC website? Love this post, hubby and I have been feeling so run down lately and this has really inspired me xx

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so glad! It’s that time of year. The BBC web store is from New York, and I don’t think they have it in England. Somehow someway we need to figure out how to get my products in England. But it’s hard to do since I’m such a small company, and there’s all that stuff about import and VAT.

  23. Barb Murphy says:

    Great blog. I so needed to hear about eating better. I’m 62 and feeling sluggish and blah. The snow keeps falling on eastern Iowa and spring can’t come soon enough to be able to get outside. Until then, eating better may be just the ticket.

  24. Mary Ahearn says:

    When I saw you had a new post, I was so happy! And what a wonderful post it is! Your healthy and delicious food is so inspiring – well, all that you shared today is just that. I hope that you know how much joy you give. Thank you.

  25. Nellie Bragg says:

    What an exciting post, Susan! Such good suggestions/advice for keeping ourselves healthy inside and out! Congratulations to the winners! No snow here; lots of rain! Love that expression “taking you out for an airing!” That’s a good thing, and yay for those lobsters! Your cheerfulness comes through and perks up each one of us! Sending hugs and wishes for continued success! xoxo Nellie

  26. Kim says:

    This capture of an ordinary extraordinary life is so lovely ~ Thought you and the Girlfriends would appreciate it as much as I do:

    Weren’t We Beautiful
    growing into ourselves
    earnest and funny we were
    angels of some kind, smiling visitors
    the light we lived in was gorgeous
    we looked up and into the camera
    the ordinary things we did with our hands
    or how we turned and walked
    or looked back we lifted the child
    spooned food into his mouth
    the camera held it, stayed it
    there we are in our lives as if
    we had all time
    as if we would stand in that room
    and wear that shirt those glasses
    as if that light
    without end
    would shine on us
    and from us.

    Poem copyright ©2018 by Marjorie Saiser, “Weren’t We Beautiful,” from The Briar Cliff Review, (Vol. 30, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Marjorie Saiser and the publisher.

  27. Nancy says:

    Just what I needed to give me a start on a healthier way to be. Thank you!

  28. Sandra Mailey says:

    I will never understand those who suffer through the winter. It is truly one of my very favorite times of the year! Although I love the holidays it is always soothing to pack away all the “glitz” and get “back to normal” – even if it takes awhile to pack up the “glitz”.
    I’m not so sure that I am doing all that well with my winter diet and exercise, but it is a good time to at least “try” to do better. And better is always easier when your options are tasty and delicious. Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions!
    The new calendar looks fantastic!! What a joy to spend the year traveling through the English countryside month to month!!
    Have a wonderful time watching the light change as we move from winter into spring. XOXO!

  29. Susan I read with one eye. I found it extremely difficult to read this post. The pattern… if there was a white background behind the text I could read it. 🙂 ty

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe you just need to refresh? Try that!

    • Christie Levin says:

      Susan, would it be ok with you if Bonnie copied just the text of the blog and pasted it into a Word document? It would take her a bit of time, but she would have only the blog’s words on a plain white document, which, according to what she says, should help.
      (Susan, if this isn’t a good idea from a copyright standpoint, please just delete this. Thank you.)

      • sbranch says:

        Yes, it’s fine. Are you seeing what she is seeing, because I do think when you refresh, the pattern goes away, if I’m understanding this correctly!

    • ~DelGatoGordoYDescarado~ says:

      I put both your comments in this: free app-
      “Download & use Google Translate
      You can translate text, handwriting, photos, and speech in over 100 languages with the Google Translate app. Or you can use Translate on the web.”

      it read it all out loud…
      then I copied/paste most of this whole blog-
      it read it all….

  30. Barb says:

    Thank you for the antioxidant info! Trying hard since the holidays to eat healthier and you have encouraged me to enjoy it!
    Can’t believe this was your first snow! Enjoy! xo

  31. that’s strange I posted a comment and then the white background appeared.

  32. mary brusky says:

    Thanks for the great inspiration!! We always need help after the holidays when we have enjoyed ourselves too much. I always laugh when i see the January and February magazines whose main articles are losing weight and getting organized! At least i know i’m not alone! Sounds like you are off to a good start. Wish me luck!! mb

  33. Ann Woleben says:

    What a marvelous post! Health and inner beauty tips, along with a slice of heaven at your home on Martha’s Vineyard. I am inspired by your healthy choices at the market. I definitely need to throw away that bag of kettle-cooked chips in our pantry. As always, I so enjoy reading your posts – quickly reading through the first time (hungry for your news!) and leisurely, later tonight with my cup of tea. Well, I didn’t win one of the giveaways, but our son has planned a trip for his dad and me to – hold it! hold it! – Martha’s Vineyard in June for our 50th wedding anniversary. I am beyond thrilled!!!! I promise not to be a “peeping Tom”, but you might see me peeking over your garden gate.

  34. Peggy Willoughby says:

    Ahh, Susan, such good advice. Healthy eating, no preservatives, minimal sugar, red wine and fresh air!!!..and laughter…Lots of laughter.
    When I went in for hip replacement surgery last winter the anesthesiologist dropped my chart on the bed and asked me to prove my age and to tell him how I am not on any medications and how my bloodwork numbers could be so good. Healthy eating and long walks!
    When my 94 year old dad came to lives with us 3 years ago he was a diabetic and on several meds. He is no longer a diabetic and off all meds except for prostrate.
    Congratulations to the lucky winners of the Susan goodies.
    Thanks for the healthy blog. Stay warm. Love you, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      You are a wizard Peggy. I’m a believer, there are too many additives in our food. The laughter, that may be the frosting on the big giant healthy cake!

  35. Angie Quantrell says:

    Hello East Coast! I think we have some of your snow here. Probably 2-3 feet of it! My honey would ship it post haste if he could, he is that tired of shoveling and digging out ice. But I love it! We have quite the intense conversations about snow. 🙂 Love the recipes. I gave up sugar a few years back, and processed stuff. Lately I’ve been easing the diet and I can feel the difference. Time to clear out the sugar again! But I don’t think I’ll give up wine. LOL. Happy Creating!

  36. Marilyn Sellers says:

    Good day!! Thank you so much for the invigorating thoughts and gentle push to get healthier! Changing my diet,but it is hard to give up some of the favorite foods, . I love to cook so make a lot of my own dishes(and using your wonderful recipes), cutting back as much as I can on sugar, use very little salt but watch products diligently for their salt. I do go
    To the gym 5 days a week so toning has begun, muscles stronger and in general just feel so much better with myself. All of your thoughts are inspiring and your outlook beautiful. I retired a year ago after a 47 year nursing career and am settling in to loving a life where I control my schedule! I have your third book that I am about to start and looking forward to
    The tale👍😍

  37. Arlene says:

    Thank you! Always look forward to and enjoy your blog. I’m one of the few counting the days till Summer. 🌞🌻

  38. Theresa Hellstrom says:

    I live on the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. It seems hundreds of Amish are moving here because it is so beautiful and also not many people like the cold and wide open spaces. But the Amish love it. They are a bit shy at first, but once you get to know them they are warm and friendly. Anyway, the women bake the most wonderful bread for me. They roll the bread in many, many different seeds and bake it. In fact they shake seed onto almost everything they eat. Unfortunately, they are not vegetarian and don’t understand the concept of not eating God’s creatures. Still, they make lots of dishes for me that do not include meat. In exchange I drive them to town as it is forbidden for them to drive a car. Sadly, I had to start turning down their heavenly fried berry pies as my waste line was expanding! LOL!
    Treese-Colorado Cowgirl.

  39. Lynn C Maust says:

    Very inspiring way of eating! You sold me!

  40. Diane Leonard says:

    Hi Susan — I’m trying to reserve a copy of your “Year in the English Countryside” calendar. It sends me to the “wishlist” and when I go back afterward to check if it’s there, it says my wishlist is empty! Help! Great healthy eating blog — thanks.

  41. Candice from Ohio says:

    You go Girl!! I so enjoyed this blogus healthius!! I need to start eating healthier and so does my Hubs. We both suffer from inflammation so this could be the start of something good! The food pics look so mouth watering! Living in Ohio we are a bit landlocked, fresh fish is hard to come by and expensive, in our local supermarkets it is or has been frozen and most comes from China.
    I will certainly have to purchase “A Year in the English Countryside” calendar for next year!
    Snowdrops were one of my Mom’s favorite early Spring flowers. My Cousins in UK have shared photos of their Spring blooms that are appearing, Hellebores, Aconites, Crocus and the Daffs are in bud and starting to show color. My cousin Marian has a male pheasant (name Phillip) with his harem of 3 hens that visits her garden and eats the spilled birdseed from the feeder. Thank You for the gentle nudge on eating healthier! Happy Ordinary Extraordinary Hugs!

  42. Hello Dearies,

    The Ordinary Extraordinary is the thing that is real in life. All the other stuff is out of our control.
    Thank you for the healthful tips, I will try to do better. I tend to keep a castle of weight about me which turns out to be the wrong kind of independent fortress. I rebel when I should embrace what makes me feel better.
    I do believe our petty pets keep our hearts healthy so at least Poirot and Miss Marple purr their parts.
    Keep doing all you can to feel well and have good energy- we all benefit!
    February love all around!

  43. mary spring says:

    …what a timely post, dear Susan…such good things are happening !!…have you seen the documentary on Netflix titled ” Heal ” ?? .. incredible stuff; talking about “dis-ease” and inflammation and stress and healing… always time for better foods and de-stress , meditation and yoga !!…thank you for this post and congratulations to the winners !!..with love, as always…

  44. Judy C - Solvang, CA says:

    As usual, your blog is always so enjoyable as are the comments. Relaxing, uplifting, and worth every second of time spent! This sure beats reading what’s going on in our world! I love your approach to life. Well done, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      I think so too. I was watching that Amazon debacle in New York. Thinking, the people chose community over money! And the money-folk-talking-heads went mad. But when you have a community with ma and pa shops and rents people can afford, then you bring in one MASSIVE company, things change. And when that Massive company leaves you in the lurch, what is left? Your community is gone, your ma and pa shops are boarded up. Look at the small towns in America and all they lost by letting Walmart take over. I think they made the right choice. Community over money. Power to the people.

  45. Jenny says:

    Susan Branch? I love you! And also, I’ve mentioned this before but if you haven’t seen the movie “Only You” please watch it. It has Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. and I love the movie and the music. They mention Roman Holiday and South Pacific in the most unique ways in the movie. 🌸 I think you’ll love it!


  46. Sally Jenks Roth says:

    Thank you so much AGAIN (!) for a wonderful, delightful post. Joe has brought snowdrops to me too, thank you Joe, because there are none in Arizona where we are right now, and it’s a bit too early for them in Vermont.
    I love all the meals and great ideas. We eat a “plant-based whole-food” diet (I don’t like the word vegan ~ you can eat french fries and ketchup and be vegan)! I just read that citrus zest is FULL of goodness and DNA protection. Grate lemon and orange peel over and into anything you like!
    I love to observe thrills like shadows and reflections, as you do, animals of all kinds and people too.
    Finally, thank you for putting the 2020 photo calendars on for pre-sale. After I sign off here, I’m going to sign on for one of them! Happy days to you and Joe…

  47. Ruth Butters says:

    Dear Susan,
    So enjoyed catching up with your “Island New” and catching a glimpse of Jack!
    The new photo calendar with some watercolors sounds fabulous, can’t wait to see it🤗
    Also love the idea if a Birthday book! Would be lovely with your paintings!
    Hope you enjoy the last days of winter and that they truly are the “last days of winter”
    💖 Ruth

  48. Mary/Indiana says:

    Love the quasi-not-a-diet food pics. Gives me inspiration. Last Winter I lost 25lbs on a
    Keto diet but when I got bored, and ate all Spring/Summer, I’ve gained it all baaack. Now
    Whaaat. Well, like you said, just eating healthy. So out goes the sugary things and in come
    the veggies. I like Oatmeal, Salads and Sweet potatoes. Throw in some chicken or fish
    and Voila!

  49. Beth Wilson says:

    Perfect timing with this blog. I have lost some weight but need to lose some more. I have incentive. I had Stage 1 Breast Cancer. Surgery removed it last month but I face 4 weeks of radiation and pills for 5 years to keep it from coming back. I am lucky, my mammogram caught it early. But turns out my kind of cancer is caused by excess estrogen and guess what, estrogen is in fat cells. So there is no greater incentive than that to lose some weight!

  50. Jo'L says:

    You make life look the way I want it to be and show the way. Thanks as always.

  51. Margaret says:

    Love your post in healthy eating. I’m going to be 80 in June and know I could eat better so thanks for the tips.Sugar is my weakness. Just want you to know I Just finished reading all the back issues of Willard. What fun!

  52. Mary Shearer says:

    I am definitely going to order one of your photo calendars! So excited to see that! Also, I absolutely love and adore the movie, “About Time”! I, too, have watched it about five or six times. I re-watch it every so often. It’s wonderful! Love all your eating tips! Time to make a new cookbook! It would be nice to have all these suggestions in one place! xoxox Lots of love from Mary S. in Fresno, California

  53. Karen Dyser says:

    I love your health conscious post. At 77, I have been striving for balance the last 20 years. Have not become slim; just fit. I exercise and do not gain. When I detect an extra pound or two, I take it off. Aging can bring on challenges, but healthy choices make it easier to handle. I was able to fend off ovarian cancer, stage 3c, 10 years ago. I was lucky, but healthy lifestyle might have helped.
    I could picture you and Joe in your Fine Romance van. I had my picture taken with Joe beside that van when you were in Hudson, Ohio at The Learned Owl. You always inspire!

  54. Kathy says:

    Fabulous post! So inspiring! 😉🌸

  55. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    Thank you for the beautiful photos of simple, delicious food! I’ve been thinking along the same lines – eating more healthy foods and leaving the other stuff behind. I truly believe that the simpler the meal, the more healthy and tasty too! The less I have to put together and cook , the better. Now I;m going to go search through the Willards and see if I’ve missed any!

  56. Judith Hogan (Heartsdesire) says:

    What a wonderful thing you’ve done for yourself and the girlfriends. The way you are eating now will fuel you for the rest of your life. One thing that I find that is also excellent is Hibiscus Tea. It’s wonderful in the morning warm, and lovely in the afternoon cool. Don’t put anything in it, just drink as is. Please keep posting about anything else you find that is healthy. I’m sure most of us could stand to loose 10 pounds. I know I could, so I’m going to follow your undiet diet.

  57. Sally G says:

    Been promising my docs I’d change my diet. Ok, I’m with you, back to healthy eating and exercising. Time to put down my fork and get on the treadmill. Thank you for the reminder!

    And if you haven’t already seen it, get a hold of Searching for Sugarman. My library had the DVD. Have the tissues nearby for this one too. So very special.

  58. Linda J. Keeler says:

    It’s a grey, dreary day but your colorful pictures and ideas brought sunshine into my life! Thank you.

  59. Kate says:

    The boy in the movie, About Time, looks so much like one of my grandsons. Don’t know it I could watch it because I tend to put my loved ones in the place of the actors when they remind me of them. Looks like a real tear jerker. As for eating healthy, I really try to eat all the good stuff, but my sweet tooth keeps nagging me. I thought all the food you showed us looked delicious, but my husband would not touch most of it which puts me in a bind about what to prepare for a meal. And don’t say I can train him. He’s stuck in his food preferences.

  60. Claudia Cole says:

    Thank you, Susan, for a beautiful blog. I love the cardinals. Do you get the cranky blue jays, too? They used to dive at our cats, but never got them. Ha, smart kitties.
    I signed up for the English Countryside calendar. Love it. I’ll still get the traditional SB calendar, too. If I ever go to the British Isles, I will be using your book as the guide. Big sigh….


  61. Lynette Strohbach says:

    Thanks again for another wonderful post! I have been following the Mediterranean Diet food choices, which include fish, poultry, (no red meats), vegetables, fruit and some breads etc. and it really does help with inflammation. I have Fibromyalgia and other health issues so I try to be good, but sometimes my sweet tooth takes over when stress overtakes me. I will try some of your seed ideas though, I already eat unsalted almonds and pistachios so these will be added. To a happier and healthier new year!

  62. Wendy says:

    Susan, I love your enthusiasm for life! To feel alive every day is your gift to yourself and all of us. Your blog is a beautiful reminder that simple pleasures are all around us. Thank you for sharing.


  63. Eileen F says:

    I love steel cut oats, too, although I don’t prepare them often enough. I’m sure you know that you can start them the night before, by pouring boiling water over them. I use half the amount of water at night. Then in the morning, I add milk for the rest of the liquid. It cooks in 10-12 minutes, instead of 30!
    Absolutely love all your work! My bookshelves prove it.

  64. Yvonne Sullivan says:

    Thanks Susan for all the healthy food eating tips.We love the Irish oatmeal Mc Canns smooth with walnuts blueberries cinnamon
    Organic milk.I had a heart attack last May2018 Drs put in two stents .We too buy wild salmon

  65. Nancy says:

    Really appreciated this post! Thank you. Your ideas for healthy eating were so helpful and finding a sunny spot each day-I do that instinctively here in wintry Wyoming-didn’t know of the health benefits. It definitely has psychological benefits for me. If the weather is gray and gloomy, I turn on my salt lamps and light candles. I just love the “homey-ness” here on your blog! Much of it reminds me of my grandmothers who were all amazing homemakers without much to work with. They used what they had and “bloomed where they were planted”! Thanks for the encouragement.

  66. Laurie Nico’s mom says:

    Dear Sue,
    “About Time” is one of my more recent favourites! So good! Such a feel good, bright, meaningful movie. And it’s got Bill Nighy in it. Love him. Can’t explain why, but I do. Rachel McAdams too.
    Just one more thing we have in common. 😘

  67. Elizabeth says:

    My Dear Susan…
    This was my Favorite.Post.Ever.
    And exactly what I needed today. Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

    And “About Time” has become one of my all-time fav movies. So rich with messages about meaningful living and about appreciating every day, all set in such an intriguing story.

    Again…thank you.
    Ok off to make my own trail mix.
    Love and light-filled blessings,

  68. Joan Holdorf says:

    Dear Susan,
    I fear I have to tell you I’ve not been able to make many of the recipes in your old cookbooks (a few though) and am SO HAPPY you are now eating healthfullly! (I have had 2 types of cancer so HAVE to eat healthy foods.) Now, how about writing a new HEALTHY FOODS cookbook with all the wisdom you have gained in the past few months! Thank you so much for inspiring all of us who read your blog to eat better. It is SO VERY IMPORTANT as so many foods are not REAL FOOD these days!

  69. Susan E. says:

    Susan, I’m so happy to see this post. I am constantly trying to lead a healthier life, and your write-up is inspiring. (I share my struggles and triumphs in my blog posts.) I would love to see you do a cookbook focused on healthy eating, or a book on living a healthy lifestyle. Any chance of that?

  70. Joan Holdorf says:

    Dear Susan, I have read all 3 of your books and love, love them and love to read and look at your cookbooks, but truthfully, have not been able to make many of the recipes as I have to eat very healthfully as have had 2 kinds of cancer in the last 3 1/2 yrs. I LOVE that you have changed your eating habits and all the new things you’ve been making look great! NOW, how about writing a new HEALTHY COOKBOOK with all the wisdom you’ve gained from studying your new way of eating! People would LOVE it and it would inspire them to change their eating habits, too! Thank you so muc for inspiring all of us with your fun blogs!

  71. Larkin Myers says:

    I love that movie! I might need to watch it tonight. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for the healthy menu blog. I try to balance eating vegetarian / fresh with indulging in cheese and butter and everything else fun. It is nice to be made hungry by a blog post about oatmeal instead of something naughty! As my brother-in-law always says, all things in moderation, including moderation. Thanks for continuing to share with us. XOXO

  72. Donna Arold says:

    I love this post Susan because of its timeliness for so many Girlfriends! I find Winter is the perfect time for my own transformation relative to getting back to eating well after having overindulged between Christmas and New Years! For the most part we eat healthy year round never relying on pre made food or packaged goods. We definitely went overboard on the starchy carbs and wine these last holidays so we are cutting way back on that now! I always shop organic and cook ‘real food’ year round, but my biggest struggle this time of year is when it comes to baking! I love to bake and find myself wanting to be in the kitchen more in Wintertime than ever before! I have been experimenting a lot lately with different flours to stay away from the white really unhealthy stuff and have been exploring more natural sweetners so we can have a bit of indulgence with minimal guilt…and so far I am doing great and am enjoying experimenting. So thanks for sharing a bit of what you are doing for yourself! Much appreciated…

  73. Betty Benefield says:

    We are seeing signs of spring here in Southeast Tennessee. Forsythia, jonquils, flowering fruit trees, and buds on all trees are among those bursting forth in mid-February. We will have more cold weather, but it is such a joy to have the promise of spring after so many rainy, dreary winter days. Love your writing, drawings, designs, etc, and look forward to your next book! ❤️

  74. Christine Anderson says:

    Thanks for the blog! Since I’m in my advancing youth, I too eat less and my husband and I do water aerobics every morning in a senior class here in S, California! be careful of 1 thing, too little salt. I don’t ever use additional salt, haven’t for years. A couple of years ago I wound up in the hospital for a week on a sodium drip! My sodium was so low, a little lower and I wouldn’t be here to write this.. Be careful of “no” . Sorry to sound like a bummer. I still don’t add salt to meals but my dr. suggested a small sprinkle to each beverage. Which I do. Yu don’t taste it but it helps keep me around. I still fight low sodium, but not too low. Check your blood tests. Thanks again

    • sbranch says:

      Excellent advice. Will keep that in mind. I had gotten so I just automatically salted everything and then wanted more. Something seemed not right. But a blood test is the right thing!

  75. Asha says:

    Hi Susan. Thank you for this “delicious” blog. Love all the pics and recipes and healthy advice. I lost 55 lbs last year and need to loose 15 more to reach my doctor’s goal. This blog came at the perfect time 😍. Feeling so much better and looking forward to incorporating some of your recipes into my lifestyle changes. Thank you Susan, you are truly an inspiration in so many ways. ❤️

  76. Martha Lane says:

    Happy snow day! I love winter but ours has been so mild that our blueberry bushes are already in bloom and I know that we’ll have another freeze or two. I was thrilled to see the 2020 calendars up for presale, I ordered one for me and one for a dear friend that is in her 80’s who was born in Lincoln, England. Thanks, Marty

  77. Janice Nelson says:

    Well, this was timely. First off, I love the Cardinal! We have been feeding the birds too. I must have had 25 Doves this morning. So peaceful.

    I have to admit to being piggish and sluggish and heavier and slower lately. And my diet is not great. I blame the weather, but that can only get you so far. So this was a good sign for me to start back on my usual healthy path. I appreciate the nudge!

  78. Jane Franks says:

    Thanks, Susan! Another winner! I’ve been feeling like the “rodent”, too. You’ve done all the homework! I’m printing this off to help me fine tune our eating plan, too. I’ve done some avocado/chickpea hummus and other Mediterranean diet things. You have some great ideas here. I’m needing a reset. You are always just in time with the good news!! Love the New England snow! Take care. Jane xoxo (Gene, too! He was elated with the last message and hugs!!) xo

  79. Margot in Sister Bay says:

    Wonderful! I have been right there with you on the healthy eating. I have to move more too. Buried in snow and missing Arnie. Starting the “Spring” cleaning, so I can go see Arnie and cousins in the Real Spring ☘️🌷.

  80. Phyllis Bradd says:

    Thank you Susan for the healthy eating info and encouragement. I also think there are too many additives and questionable ingredients in packaged “food”. Steel-cut oatmeal is the best breakfast ever. It gives me so much energy. Whole foods really make a difference. I have put myself back on track with my non-diet diet and exercise. I’m always looking for new ideas so thanks for the tips. I’ve ordered the new calendar. I didn’t want to take a chance on missing out on it. Enjoy the snow. We are up here in New Hampshire.

  81. Jan C. says:

    Your healthy eating sounds like what we have been doing for over a year. It has made a tremendous difference in the way I feel so I know what you’re talking about. I used to have what felt like joint and bone pain. Our healthy eating has really made a difference. We also eat the sprouted grain bread and use the wonderful Kerrigold Irish butter.Yum!
    I continue to enjoy reading your blog. It’s a warm fuzzy spot in the cold of winter. Would love to buy all of your mugs if I could afford it. You are so talented! Glad to see you are bringing your pillows and rugs back. I don’t see the cupcake rug though?
    Congrats to the lucky winners! Still waiting for that breakfast book!🙂


  82. Lee Gordon says:

    Susan…thanks for the luv-lee post and the healthy food encouragement! It’s always good to be reminded about the self-care we should be practicing! I’m so glad you are responding to this purer way of eating and are feeling better.
    Congrats to the winners…so glad for each of you! Lots of love!

  83. Hi! I’m in this all the way. I love that you’re now offering suggestions and ideas on healthy eating along with your charming New England lifestyle photos. Since I’m in Texas, we’re all about tacos (and Beto) so any ideas that cross borders would be right up my alley. Many thanks for the delightful blog, calendars and items you produce. Everything you do brightens my day.

  84. Susan McKenna says:

    Dear Susan,
    Your “wake up call” has really hit home. Last August my Jim and I began following the Whole30 Diet. Although breakfasts were a frustration (Butternut Squash Soup, baked avocado with an egg, and many more complicated dishes), we found our new way of eating gave us a new energy and we felt so much better. We really liked the foods we were eating. All the naughties you mentioned were no longer in our diet. A bonus was that pounds seemed to melt away. At the end of the 30 days my husband had lost 18 pounds and I lost 14. Then we went to Maine on vacation and the rest is history. We’re ready to begin anew, however I will not pressure myself with such varied or complicated breakfasts. Our plan is to follow Whole30 for a month, then change to a Paleo diet, and alternate periodically. Food for Thought! Susan Branch – – “The Heart of a HEALTHY Home” would be great!

  85. Samantha ( Nova Scotia) says:

    I loved all the food ideas here! So simple and yummy. I cannot wait to add these on next weeks grocery list. I have been feeling out of wack lately and craving salty foods. I honestly think lack of sunshine contributes. Im forevermore eating my breakfast in a sunbeam ( like Garfield?? Lol) Very happy to join in with the healthy ideas and encouraging girlfriends.

    I also love a good movie recommendation. Can’t wait to see it!

    Your calenders are gorgeous!! I’ll be ordering one!

    Have a beautiful week Susan and congrats to the winners!


    • sbranch says:

      Get spinach! The old fashioned bumpy kind. steam it lightly, little drizzle of good balsamic or olive oil and sprinkle on the seeds! So good for you. Have it with scrambled eggs!

      • Samantha ( Nova Scotia) says:

        After you said this…i read up on it! Clearly I need more greens in my diet to curb the cravings. I love local spinach. It will be my staple this week. Xo Congrats on the 10lbs too!

  86. Lynn Marie says:

    Love the Healthius post today! I just read an article on line somewhere that the average cooking & cleanup time for people is 37 minutes per day. What!!!! I cook every meal and cannot imagine doing it any other way—you feel so much better when you prepare your own food! We are living in a time when there is no more home economics in the schools. Most of the just emerging young adults have moms that did not have home ec either and have not been in the home. I think this is why grocery stores are getting so BIG!!! A good share of the food there is heat and eat. I shudder to think of the health problems lurking for this generation. My lunch today was a healthy baked oatmeal that I cut into squares and put in the freezer–so I can pop it into the microwave whenever I have a hankering. I topped it with a sliced banana, some blueberries and milk fresh from the farm. My tummy was happy all afternoon.

  87. Cathy A Aquilina says:

    Happy camper, just ordered my photo calendar, really looking forward to it. Now back to hunting for my granddaughter’s snap bracelet that she put somewhere in the house. She left in tears and Papa and Grandma are on the hunt! Loved the info on eating healthier, thanks Susan. Wish me luck on the hunt!

  88. Linda Pintarell says:

    Thank you for all the healthy suggestions…but I must say…I just drool around lobster and it just has to have the butter. I would fly to Martha’s Vineyard just for a lobster roll (in fact, it is on my bucket list). I took a drive down to the Liberty Station Public Market in San Diego yesterday just for the lobster/mac and cheese. Soooo good. I’m going to try to eat more healthy. Lobster is healthy – its just the ingredients I eat with it. I guess that will be my (I don’t want to say “cheat” food because we are not on a diet – just eating healthy) “treat” food…which I don’t really get to eat all that often.

  89. Carole Boyer says:

    Dear Susan
    Thank you for what I needed to hear and I agree, it wasn’t preachy at all. I have been having trouble getting back on the healthy eating train since I indulged myself over the holidays. So I, and my blood sugar are grateful!!! Very!! Really look forward to your blog in my inbox!! Spring is right around the corner!!

  90. Lynne Barlow says:

    What an inspiring blog! I saw those chunks of lobster in that salad. ENVY! Here I am in landlocked Arkansas with not a lobster in sight. Please eat extra for me. This style of eating is my favorite, actually. However, I’m married to a meat and taters man and it becomes a challenge to make everyone happy. Oh, don’t forget olives. Have you tried Mezettti Castlevetrano olives? Oh, my. My other favorite, (harder to find) are Goya brand green olives stuffed with minced anchovies. (Don’t prejudge if you don’t like anchovies. You WILL like these.) throw those in salads for extra yum. Okay, I’m starving now so will go eat the chicken fried rice my sweet Baboo made for dinner. Post often. I NEED your uplifting news. Xoxo

  91. Barb Faimon says:

    Warm greetings Susan,
    I love, love this post! Thank you for the inspiration to reduce inflammatory foods and bless our bodies, minds, and spirits with beneficial nourishment. Wonderful to greet spring renewed and healthier!
    One of my four daughters swears your mugs are magical. To keep the magic going I’ve ordered lots of the new designs for them and myself! Blessings! XX OO

  92. Linda K. says:

    Just want to say I like the saying about “your body has made friends with your fat.” I’m 71 and have worked on losing weight for a while now. Lost 30 and have 20 to go according to my doc. It’s a struggle as we age for sure. Your suggestions are a lot of what I’m doing also. Not on a diet per se, but just trying to eat healthy and stay away from sugar, fats and the whites (flour, potatoes, bread etc.). Good luck with your journey.

  93. Sarah says:

    Congratulations to each of the lucky winners, and congratulations to you, Susan, on the success with the healthy diet. I try to eat a diet such as yours, but I’ve not yet given up sugar. I should! Perhaps your success will inspire and give me the push to give up sugar. I’ve tried before, but it didn’t last.
    Happy Snow Day to you! It’s still cold here in TX, but we’ve had ups and downs in temps of late. Last week it was in the 90s. Much too hot for February. Today, I noticed an iris in full bloom. I can see my bluebonnets are not far behind. Spring will soon be here!

  94. Judy says:

    Dearest Suse,
    You made me lol from the get-go…. your comment about Joe taking you out for an ‘Airing Out”. My Mama use to say that to my sister and I when we were little and we’d be playing in our rooms on a beautiful day. She’d phrase it a tiny bit different… like…”Get outside and get the stink blowed off ya!”
    Ya, just a little different! hahaha But now I ask my hubby, when I’ve been house-bound and feel a cabin-fever hissy coming on, “Dear can you take me for a drive, I don’t even care if it goes anywhere, I just need an ‘Airing’ to get the stink blowed off me!” *giggle* It makes us laugh!
    I too have been on a health-kick and have lost almost 30# in 4 months.
    A wellness doc-nutritionist told me I’m allergic to lactose and gluten. Lost 5# the first week just giving up dairy. I’ve had digestive issues with it, since birth(64 now). I feel so much better and have lots of energy AND no more itchies. Sometimes people put weight on because they are allergic to some food… and just don’t know it… it’s weird!
    Well dear girl, may you enjoy a happy, healthy lifestyle change and may you find your ‘Balance!’ (oooooommm) *giggle*

  95. Marianne in Mo. says:

    Loved this post. I try to eat a bit healthier, especially as I’m now a “medicare” gal. But convincing my husband that he’s NOT still 30 years old is like talking to a baby. He thinks as long as he walks and exercises he can eat whatever he wants. To eat healthy alone sometimes means fixing two different meals. He’s the one who has had three heart incidents, with stents put in to keep him ticking, while I have not had nary a cold in five years. Haven’t given up sugar or anything, but am staying away from packaged foods, snack foods (chips etc.) and almost all bread. I make sure my plate is 3/4ths vegetables or salad, and have what I call childs’ sized servings of meats unless it’s fish. All this and more makes me feel better, and I can tell the difference if I stray and have something I’ve been avoiding. It’s all a choice for all of us, and if I can slowly improve my diet, it can only help. We need to eat like our parents did, before the “instant foods” became the norm!

    • sbranch says:

      I found an article on line, all sense and sensibility, a really GOOD article, but I forget what it was, there are lots out there. And put the phone in his hand as he was eating his oatmeal and he read it. In the time-honored tradition of husbands, he won’t listen to me, but he will listen to others, so this, I hope, was a help. I like your approach. Every little bit helps!

  96. Anna says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog! It takes me away to another world. Something about your style of art that speaks to my creative heart. And your books, well, they are so lovely and feel as if they are from another era.

    I love your stove (of all things!) and have been looking for one in this style to anchor the design of my kitchen. Would you share what kind it is? Perhaps I will be lucky enough to find one! Thank you!

  97. Jan Lane says:

    Warm and cosy best describes your lifestyle. I love the pictures you include. Listening to Musica is always a trip back into time. I think of pleasant memories when life did seem much more simple and carefree.
    We get so busy or out of touch with little things that provide comfort. A plain and simple dish of oatmeal can be transformed with creativity into something delicious, nutritious and interesting. The same can be said about the sweet potato. I got hungry for healthy and restorative food. Simple is good, and often less is more😊😊 Sunshine streaming light through a window does cheer you and makes the snowy day less severe. I sat in my kitchen with a mug of coffee and the sun reflect coloured light through the prisms and it was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your beauty💕

  98. Carol K (NJ) says:

    Now I know what happened to my flower petal covered bathing cap! Vanna’s got it. Oh well, she can keep it now that the pool is gone and I hardly go in the ocean when we’re at the beach. Anyway, congrats to all three winners and boo hoo to me. Jersey hugs Kiddo….

  99. Laurie P says:

    Oh yes! Good Old Fashioned Healthy – boosted by a little real science. That’s what I’m talking about : ) I’m nearly into my new kitchen after five months in our ever so humble “tiny house” set up in the sunroom of our 1870s house that is being completely renovated. I love the little barbie kitchen that I’ve set up with a tiny microwave, tiny toaster oven, hotplate, dorm fridge, and little kitchen sink (you should see it) but I am SO ready to get back to roasting big pans of veggies, working with armloads of veggies on a nice big counter, zooming up serious green smoothies (now where is that blender?) and having lots of guests over and feeding them (three diners is the max here).
    I do all I can to get a little “sunlight on the retinas” – that’s science talk for walking in a sunbeam – at this time of year. I think it’s a great idea to acknowledge that happiness can be a project in February, when it might be just a natural side-effect of May.
    I think I’ll order one of the photo calendars as one last momento of our Beatrix Potter/Lake District/SB holiday last year. Cheers!

  100. Lana wertz says:

    We have been eating the whole food plant based way for several years. My husband was able to get off high blood pressure meds after 10 days of no animal foods including dairy. Just listened to an interview of Dr Esselstyn from Cleveland Clinic, who has proven that he has been able to revers heart disease with this way of eating. I highly recommend his book to anyone interested in eating healthfully! Love your books! And calendars!! Love Lana

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