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! 💋

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

491 Responses to My Ordinary Extraordinary Life

  1. Peg Parrish says:

    So thrilled for you regarding clean eating and feeling so much better. I went on that journey last September and cured my severe arthritis after taking tons of meds for years. It breaks my heart that physicians should know all of this and share it with their patients but I guess there is no money to be made there. The good news is that I also lost weight along the way but I will keep it up because I feel so much better! To the people who say “of course your joints feel better, you lost weight and aren’t putting so much stress on them”…the joints that hurt the most were in my hands and I was not walking on them! Anyway, I am so glad that you searched and found out what inflammation does to us and now you know how to avoid it. Bravo!! Thanks for sharing with everyone!

    • sbranch says:

      I was so thrilled to see it was something I could “cure” myself, and not need medicine for! What an eye opener! Good for you Peg!

  2. Peg Parrish says:

    P.S. I was so sorry to hear about the fire at the Menemsha Market and that they won’t be open this summer. Very sad.

    • sbranch says:

      We drove by to look, it looks fine from the outside. But it’s boarded up. I hope they’ll put it back the way it was, lovely old thing.

      • Sally Jenks Roth says:

        Oh no, I didn’t know this! We’ve rented a house for a week in August for our family (3 generations) near Lobsterville Beach.
        I wish the market a successful re-opening soon…

  3. Star Stevens says:

    You need some cardinal perch ring attachments for your tube bird feeders so that your cardinals can face the seed ports. Because of their short, stubby “grosbeaks,” they have a hard time getting the seeds when they’re sitting sideways on the perches.

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Thank you, Star. I had bought new feeders (after the latest Bingo the Bear visit..crunching up the feeders to get to the seeds.) I bought only the front facing ones. Now I can order the new tubes for the Droll Yankee ones and put the attachments on them.
      Debbie in Tampa…for now

  4. Jan Johnson says:

    I love this post! I am so inspired by your change to healthy eating. I am doing that too, but I am stuck at home with no car as my kids have both our cars out most of the time doing work and school. Also a return of a heart arrhythmia on top of my congestive heart failure. So I have been trying to eat healthier and sometimes I fail as sugary things are an addiction. I don’t eat hardly any processed food except cookies! I sweeten beverages with stevia so I don’t drink sugar. But I have a long way to go and I feel really inspired now.

    I have found my calendar! I am so happy it is priced a regular calendar price. I long for the mugs but can’t indulge that much, but everyone needs a calendar, and it looks so wonderful!

    The movie “About Time” is one of my favorites, watched multiple times! I love it so much! And anything with Bill Nighy is usually top notch. Have you seen “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?” That is another good one I have watched over and over and the “Hundred Foot Journey” is one you would probably like if you haven’t seen it.

    Best to you and hubby and Jack!

  5. Diane says:

    Oh Susan I just LOVE YOU and all your beauty!!!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
    From the bottom of my heart!!!


    I just rounded the corner of 72 and have some inflamation now too. I have initiated a plan of more fruits and vegetables and cut out chocolate altogether (I found out it gives me migraines). My favorite dish so far is 1 Fugi apple diced, 10-12 seedless red grapes (sliced in half), some chopped walnuts and sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s tasty, filling and healthy. Also my doctor gave me some advice…walk every day. Which I know you and Joe already do. My husband of 50 years and I walk our sweet Cocker Spaniel. We rescued him at age 6 months and he’s seven years old now. Wishing you all a good life. PS love all your books.

  7. Thank-you for the healthy eating reminders! I know this stuff, but you make it fun to think about it again:) Also, I have a couple Christmas presents done now with pre-ordering the English countryside calendars. What a nice start to the day!

  8. Mary McCatherine says:

    Your beautiful work always makes me smile 🙂 I am going shopping right now and putting a cup on my wish list and sending to my husband and children…Easter and Mother’s Day are coming up. Thank you for bring extraordinary beauty to my world. Have a fabulous day! Love, Mary

  9. Christie Levin says:

    Oh, dear, I didnt need to try to help Bonnie at all ~ of course you knew just what she should do. Mine was a case of misguided helpiusness… please delete all, and please forgive~at work a part of my job is to figure solutions to document conundrums. 🤪

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, I don’t know how any of this works!! I’m the most unknowing of them all! I am a slap it, kick it kind of fixer-gal!!! I appreciate you for other kinds of insight, more scientific to be exact, so please never stop!

  10. Kathleen Karvonen says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for you lovely blog and the excellent advice on lifestyle eating.
    Regarding exercise, I’ve found that Leslie Sansone walking videos on Youtube are a very doable at-home exercise option. There are many to choose from.
    I’m so grateful to my dear friend, Emmy, for introducing me to your blog. Loving your insights and lovely pictures and quotes. 🙂

    • Kay says:

      I love Sansone’s walking videos too, Kathleen. Also, a good senior program is Grow Young Fitness. No floor exercises and nothing extreme.

  11. Annette Baker says:

    Such a wonderful timely post. I’ve just finished rereading PREVENT AND REVERSE HEART DISEASE by Esselstyne. It was recommended to me years ago and while I don’t follow this regimen to the letter, my own version is fresh, tasty and beautiful and satisfying. Loved your take on whole fresh and beautiful.
    Always love your posts. A kind and generous place.
    For nearly 30 years I had a quilt supply store called Itchin’ to Stitch. We could hardly wait for your new items to come. Cookbooks flew out the door(first one out of the box to me)and on pass around days your recipes were well represented and enjoyed. Thanks for all the joy.
    Fondly Annette

  12. Dawn says:

    Great post… full of encouragement and “relatability.” About Time is one of my favorite movies too.

  13. Lorrie says:

    Congratulations on losing those 10 pounds and on feeling perkier! Health is SO important, and most times, it’s something our actions can influence. It’s great to see progress! Fresh food, home cooked, and lots of movement! I had a kidney stone last summer and when I told the ER doc that I wasn’t on any medication at all, he was quite surprised and said it was unusual for someone my age (62), and to keep doing what I was doing.
    Congrats to the winners, too. I’m looking forward to your new book!

  14. Martha Lane says:

    Happy snow day!! We’ve had such a mild winter here that our blueberry bushes are blooming and I know that we’ll have another freeze – or two. I was so glad to see your 2020 calendar up for presale, I got one for me and one for a dear friend that’s in her 80’s that was born in Lincoln, England. She’ll be thrilled! Thanks!!

  15. Oh Susan, as always, your timing is SO perfect! But your post has led me to a bit of a random question, I hope you don’t mind.

    You said “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. ”

    And it got me thinking about sleep and routines because I too have been trying to be good to my body (physically and mentally) with good food and exercise. Part of my new routine has been getting up at 5 am for a little quiet time and exercise before my (Four!) kids get up, but I find that I’m exhausted by 2. I got to bed at 9:30 but I’m thinking maybe that’s not early enough? I know you get up super early too and I was wondering if you think I’ll just eventually get used to it, or if I have to push bedtime up even earlier? Also, do you get up at the same time EVERY day or take days off here and there to sleep in?

    Thanks Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      I rarely sleep in. I don’t really even know how. It’s just not what my body does. It starts ticking early, like four, then I think of something, get excited and get up! So I try to go to bed early, head upstairs on most days around 8 pm. But you have four children and that is another world. They say we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. It sounds like you’re doing good. 9:30 to 5 is good. Have you tried a power nap around 2? There are good suggestions online on how to do that.

  16. Beverlee Moreno-Ring says:

    What fantastic inspiration!!! I am feeling the same way about eating even healthier and kicking up my exercise and strength training. Wonderful ideas and recipes.. Things I love to make.. just easy peasy, healthy real food. Have to put together a bottle of seeds to sprinkle on sweet potatoes and veges. Great idea. Keep up the great work.. and oh yes.. congratulations on the 10 pounds. At our age that is a huge accomplishment… my extra 10 is really attached to me :-)… Think we might need a break up.. Lol.. I always keep trying!!

  17. Linda Michael in PA says:

    Thank you for this terrific timely blog! It’s just the encouragement I needed! I’ve spent the last year crippled with horrible hip pain, and received a new hip 1 month ago. Yay – pain free! Now I need to get back to swimming laps, and generally get moving again. And eating much healthier! It’s true what you say – it’s not just about dieting, it’s about eating food that is good for your body and brain. It’s a bonus if a few pounds are lost. To be sure, I’ll be referring back to this blog often. xoxo

  18. Mary says:

    Hi Susan, thank you VERY much for the healthy recipe ideas! My family can’t eat the good ole sweet recipes anymore without feeling awful. So I have been looking for healthier ways to fix meals. Thank you!!!

  19. Judy from KC says:

    Hello Susan ! Always good to hear from you! I was so surprised to hear this was your first snow! Here in Kansas City we have had 18 inches so far this winter which is what we have had total the last 3 years . And tomorrow we are getting 3-6 inches more, so it goes on.
    But I enjoy it actually , I like the four seasons and the changes it brings.
    I wanted to recommend Harley and Sons green tea if you haven’t tried it. Also the Paris tea is very nice. Bed Bath and Beyond carry it . Just thought I’d mention it since you mentioned the green tea in your blog. Keep the encouragement coming on the healthy recipes etc. It was good timing for me , I have a desk job and finally hit the gym today telling myself this is enough I have to get moving. So your post was timely and very welcome!

    • sbranch says:

      I love Paris, but I like Lady Grey even better! And the Green tea from Celestial Seasonings is delicious. I’m still hooked on Earl Grey, but it’s fun to change it up a bit! xoxo Happy Day, Judy!

  20. SueG says:

    Once again such a timely post, just finished up at the doctor’s office after having a stress test done. I have been on a roller coaster as of late and have made some hard decisions that have made me so anxious that my doctor and I were both worried about my health. I am feeling on a much more even keel after deciding to retire this coming June after 30+ years teaching kindergarten. I was so happy to see your email regarding a new post and then reading it it felt like it was written just for me. Thank you Susan for sharing your journey’s that help us endeavor in our own journeys. Looking forward to trying out some of your advice and recipes.

    Happy day dear one!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s everyone I know. It’s the way the world is, and only we can fix it within our own little worlds! We’re lucky we can. Many are at the mercy of “Fake News” because it’s definitely out there in the food world too. Happy retirement Sue! And I have to say, thank you for your years of service. I’m sure many little hearts were made whole because of you. xoxoxo

      • SueG says:

        I appreciate your comments! Time for new adventures, time for trying new things – looking forward to it all!

  21. As a kid I didn’t like Oatmeal but I do now! It’s a “stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal that really satisfies! Thanks for that reminder! Stay warm.

  22. Beth L. says:

    Do you think our Grandmamas and Granddaddys ever worried about any of this???
    I believe they ate for “sustenance sake” sprinkled with special-occasion meals, but primarily to daily feed their bodies with home grown, unprocessed, simple foods. Homemade Desserts and alcohol drinks were occasional delights not routine consumption. And “processed” foods were rarely an option.They worked HARD (exercise!) until it got dark and then stopped.Sleep and Rest were mandatory to survive.
    In this day and age, we have to be sooo Intentional about living a healthy life.
    Working at it with you! Thanks for the Encouragement!!!

    • sbranch says:

      They didn’t have mile-long supermarkets filled with addictive additives to deal with. Chicken right there in the yard. Veg in the garden. Luv-lee. Now we even have to be careful of the seeds we buy to plant our garden, so many of them have been fooled with. Our government doesn’t do a very good job of regulating the food industry anymore ~ we’re all on our own. But we’re outsmarting them, because we now have each other, and we spread truth to each other, one girlfriend at a time.

  23. Mary Lawrence says:

    Chickens are so wonderful,free range giving us wonderful eggs everyday.I only have four but they lay three eggs a day.My children have ma a fitbit for my birthday,and it has gotten me motivated to get up and walk more.We do get to eat well,but we both love dessert.So I do fruit most nights and try to be reasonable with the sweets.You have given me new found hope.We are heading to NYC tomorrow,having dinner at Carmines an Italian restaurant.But,we do walk lots when we are in the city.Thanks again for being our fairy tale girl inspiring us to be our best.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s right, you just do what you can . . . and as long as you do something, you’re ahead of the game! Have fun in New York!

  24. Barb F says:

    Lovely inspiring post! So wonderful to see the real life benefits of anti-inflammatory clean eating.

  25. Jane says:

    My dear Susan – I absolutely agree with you and all of the above regarding your advice about healthy eating. I’m right there with you and lost 40 lbs. fifteen years ago and have kept it off mostly. Here’s my biggest struggle and I know you love this too: BAKING!!!!! I truly make the best chocolate chip cookies (my husband married me 45 years ago for them!) and I bake constantly for friends and family and church. I manage to mostly stay clear or just have a little taste, but I really LOVE the joy of baking for others! Are you not missing it? How do you plan to handle it? Forever, not baking again? And what about chocolate? I just don’t think I can live the rest of my 69 years without it. Any thoughts?

    • sbranch says:

      They are saying very nice things about 1 oz of chocolate a day with a really high cocoa content, the higher the better. So that’s one thing. I’m not having a yearning for anything sugary right now, so we’ll see if that comes back later on! I can bake for parties, big ole banana cream pie with a homemade pie crust. I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with that! I may not eat it, but I will still love baking it for other people! One day at a time.

      • Nicoline says:

        Hello there, Jane,
        Might I add something…?? I too have cut out sugar a few years ago, but still like to bake….What to do?? well, here in Europe there is something called Fructose, or fruit sugar. We can get it in health food shops and a few grocery stores sell it too. It’s supposed to have much less calories, and for me more importantly, it doesn’t give you that HIGH that processed/refined/white sugar does. You can use it to bake, and you’ll need less than the recipe says…..
        A friend of ours has noticed his health improved when he switched to cane sugar…..And another sweetener we have is called Coconut Sugar, again, a pure product, from a plant, and this has a similar taste to dark brown sugar, a bit caramelly…..Hope this helps!!
        Best wishes from Holland, and happy baking

  26. Kathryn Calabrese says:

    Dear Susan,
    I love seeing photos from your wintery, cozy home! I’m wondering if you have written about finding your current home with Joe. I so enjoyed the story of you discovering your first tiny cottage and how you made it yours in your second book. I read the third book too, but didn’t find anything (about the house – I found plenty about lovely England gardens. 😊) I’m new to your blog, so perhaps I missed it.

  27. Amy Turner says:

    Good day Susan!
    What perfect timing for this new blog! I am in the midst of trying to figure out my own ordinary life and how to be open to the extraordinary life without it being about what I do but who I am created to be! This is so hard! I spent years trying to become who I thought I should be (including professional success) and now I know its more about how we live in relation to God and to others. That is why in part I have been so drawn to your lifestyle. Through the years you have opened your heart and life to women and looked at us as girlfriends- all trying to do life and encouraging us to be ourselves and being open to the joys in living. Thank you for providing a space where we can unplug and unwind and share in one an other’s stories. Life isn’t always perfect, but it is better with friends! Definitely better with feline friends and a cup of tea! Thank you for doing life with us!!

    • sbranch says:

      So true. And finding joy in our everyday extraordinary ordinary lives. The sound of boiling water glugging into a cup. Joy.

  28. Patti G says:

    Thank you for this very important healthy post! It makes so much sense.
    I, too, am working on these issues.
    Happy Presidents’ Day!

  29. Mary Seidman says:

    Thanks so much for the motivating post. I was thinking about Naomi and her question. For me the answer isn’t about vanity, it’s about energy. Of course we all want to look good 🙂 but I want to be able to hike mountains, swim in the ocean, and dance at weddings for a long time!!!! You give me encouragement, reminders, and inspiration to continue do so. As well as fun, charm, and a celebration of the sweet life! Thanks Susan!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Absolutely right. She’s 34 and I think her energy is naturally high, but as time goes by, we realize it’s a gift of youth, and requires cultivating if it’s to last forever! Me too, I want to play outside for as long as possible! xoxoxo

  30. Julie (Kentera) Hatch says:

    Every day that your emails pop into my mail box are ‘red letter days’!
    I have a question for you–I’m learning (self taught) to paint with water colors and wonder which ones you prefer? I’m using a really inexpensive set (a step or two above the Crayola sets my first graders used to use!) and I’m ready to invest in some quality materials.
    Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration through the years! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I honestly have on my art table right this moment 12 paint boxes!!!! All different. Six of them I made with tubes of paint, the rest are store-bought boxes. I’m laughing because I never counted them before. I rarely meet a paint color I don’t like. Only one very important thing. I erase pencil lines when I finish a watercolor, so it’s important that the paint does NOT smear. That only happened once, with a very inexpensive box I bought at Michaels. Pretty colors, but forget about it. Schmincke, Prang, Windsor Newton, Pelican, Holbein . . . all good!

  31. Marie says:

    Thanks for the yummy looking, healthy food photos. My college age sons were home for the holidays and wanted a temporary gym membership while home. We all went, and now it’s just me. I’m feeling so healthy! It’s great to make improvements at every stage of life. Love your charming art and I agree with having a heart of gratitude for the extraordinary good things in my ordinary life.

  32. Rita Wandro says:

    Congratulations to the winners and all your fans.
    Thank you for your good advise, and for sharing great pictures of your family, friends, kitty, birds, and more….specially those yummy foods🤗

  33. Angela S Crawley says:

    I believe you are doing research (with you and Joe as the guinea pigs) for your next cookbook. LOVVVVVE it.
    There are some really good reads out there about the connection between mind and gut. A new cookbook is just what we need.

    AND congrats to the lucky winners.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a powerful story! xoxo

    • FayE in CA! says:

      I totally agree. It is time for another unique and welcomed cookbook by you. There are plenty of health cookbooks on the market, but what a joy to have our own Susan Branch’s artistic and inspirational 30 day meal plan with a healthy quote for each day’s support; a daily nature photo to inspire healthy walks outdoors; a note page for each day to add a journal entry to track our 30 day journey jumpstarting our better selves…and helpful hints/lists for:
      My Healthy Pantry
      Inside My Colorful Fridge
      Snacks with a Purpose…

      Eating with your eyes…your healthy, colorful meal photos are BEAUTIFUL and INSPIRING!! Your recipes are uncomplicated. Knowing that many of us would purchase “this” book would build a group think and sharing of our healthy journey! Preface the book with your successful journey and mindset.

      You could launch the book with a pledge list on your website. I will become my better self through Nature’s beauty and bounty!

      Good thing that you have proven that your plan works, Susan, because you can now use your renewed spirit, lengthened lifespan, energy and clarity to take on this cookbook project! ✏️📘 We can’t wait and thank you in advance.

  34. Wendy from Alberta says:

    Perfect timing! I have been procrastinating on creating a healthier eating plan and your post was exactly what I needed for motivation. We have had a lot of very cold weather up here in Alberta along with a ton of snow lately so I have been snuggling in on my couch (while eating Valentine’s Day chocolate 🍫😜). No more excuses! Thanks for the healthy food ideas and good luck with your progress.

  35. Deborah Hatt says:

    Thank you, as always, for all the positivity. Our Michigan winters are mostly marked by heavy clouds full of “dreary,” frigid winds that rattle the windows of our 150 year old farmhouse, and country roads paved with what I call “solid slickery.” It’s not safe, trying to walk over the uneven glistening fields, their miles of stubble encased in layers of ice and half covered by snow … treacherous, even for a young person (which I am not!). SO, I take few walks this time of year. I feel like you described … dumpy, frumpy, and grumpy. And I too have been thinking about getting serious about a “winter over-haul.” Therefore, I am thoroughly delighted with your healthy eating goals.

    I have also been stressed to over-load for almost a year, dealing with my poor, sweet aging mama – and I have decided to get serious about a more active prayer life, and become more focused on the beauties of God’s amazing creation, as well as His infinite Grace. Like you said … healthy inside and out.

    So, dear Sue, thank you for your nifty ideas, bright sunny photos, and encouragement. Because, Sister, DO I NEED IT!!

  36. Patti says:

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been feeling the same way about food for a while now and try to eat as many of these healthy things as possible. I never would have thought they tasted good 10 years ago but now I crave them. Simple food just seems to taste better. Just haven’t been able to give up the red wine yet, lol, still telling myself it’s good for me, tee hee hee!
    I also have a cute little Black & White cat named Max who likes to rub against me whenever I’m trying to stretch. We call it kitty yoga 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I think it is good for you. Everyone says so. I also thing 1 oz of really good dark chocolate is good for us too. Yay for kitty yoga!

  37. Seaside Daisy says:

    Hi Susan,
    No matter what you’re cooking up, you always make it look so attractive! What’s not to love about healthy eating. Of course, we eat with our eyes as well as our taste buds!
    Steel cut oats are a favorite of mine, too. You can cut the cooking time to less than half by starting them the night before by pouring boiling water over them. In the morning, cook for 8-12 minutes and they’re ready. Love all your delicious additions to oatmeal. Another favorite of mine is toasted coconut.

    • sbranch says:

      I do rolled oats something like that too sometimes. Pour milk over a serving of oats in a bowl, put in fridge overnight, and just add fruit and eat in the morning. So good. Course they’re cold, so it’s better for summer!

  38. Virginia says:

    I love Joe’s words: taking you for an airing! Airings are number one on my “feed the soul” regime. 🙂 Even if it’s just to shovel snow as it was today — a few fresh inches to cover up the icy ones, blue sky, a neighbor to call out to. All good.

  39. Ann Y. says:

    What a great post ! So happy you are feeling fit – and thank you for the inspiration. We take such good care of our homes we need to remember to take care of ourselves. Love the ideas and recipes….want to take better care of myself as the years go by…and be the best I can be. Can’t wait for the next post!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, and as nurturers, we are always thinking of others, we get so amazingly busy we forget to give ourselves a little something every day. Like sit in the sun, or nap, or bath, or the little things that make life sweet.

  40. ~DelGatoGordoYDescarado~ says:

    Thank you for the Seeds of Goodness blog, bonus of ewe dancing, encouragement and things I had disremembered.

    Wanted to share:
    After cutting out nightshades: potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant- made a huge difference.
    Salad dressing- dip the tongs of your fork into the dressing then stab a bite of your salad to eat- (don’t put the dressing on the salad),at first it seems repetitive but you use far less dressing, get a “better pay off,” by doing this doesn’t cut the taste either.
    “Natural and other natural flavors” listed in the ingredients of tea, condiments, seasonings and food companies usually… aren’t.
    A request for, if possible: what really worked, natural tips for Menopause- hands on & not Rx, please …some of us are truly unable to do chemicals/Rx’s.

    Thank you again for all the everything’s!

    • sbranch says:

      I always try for the home answers before the medicine. We do have a lot of healing power ourselves. I don’t like to solve a problem with a pill if the inner me has the answer. If it’s a choice between planks and a pill, I’ll take the planks first! xoxoxo

  41. Debbie Piascik ~ Weedsport, NY says:

    Hi, Sue ~
    What timely information and inspiration! Do you have a crystal ball on your desk when you’re wondering what to write about?

    Little by little, my weight has been creeping up and my poor body has been literally bearing the brunt of my poor decisions. I just love to eat. Well, I love to bake….especially in the middle of a long, cold winter. I love the way the house smells when there’s something delicious in the oven and I really do have a “sweet tooth”. So this past year I made a little adjustment in my thinking. I only bake something about once every week or two, cut two pieces for George and I and deliver the rest to my sweet neighbor ladies…both 87 years old and to my grandchildren. Probably shouldn’t bake at all but at least this way, we’re all getting just a little treat and not over-indulging. Baby changes, right?
    I definitely see and feel the difference cutting back the sugar has made! My weight is moving in the right direction now!

    Love your advice about sticking our faces in the sunbeam, however small it may be. It really does wonders for the soul! So does having an amaryllis growing in your kitchen! Watching those amazing plants grow really helps get through the long winter months, doesn’t it? I gave a couple for Christmas gifts and get almost daily thanks and picture updates on my phone 🙂

    Happy painting! Looking forward to Part 2!

    PS: Good job, Vanna! You picked the perfect winners!

  42. Ruth says:

    I’m so inspired by you. Your art, your words, and… you make me laugh out loud all the time.
    Thank you for being the most beautiful expression of you.

  43. Paula LaMont says:

    Sweetie you are always spot on as the Irish say! I am in the Sam boat and eating healthy so I don’t end up with some awful health problem. I was so excited to hear about the new calendar and appreciate you’re creating this for us.!i have preordered yippee just adore all you do and share with us

    • sbranch says:

      I do say to myself, what would they like! I’m so happy I’m guessing right with this calendar! Lucky the folks I do calendars for are letting me do this new one! It’s all about YOU! 😁 xoxo

  44. Kathy A says:

    Thanks for the inspiration and this on my birthday! I have been leaning towards moving to the foods you mentioned so thanks for doing some research for me!!

  45. Angie says:

    Thank you for the inspiration! I need to read and re-read your blog to remind myself to eat sensibly. Eliminate sugar and flour. Love your seed idea. We can all do this together 🙂

  46. Jean says:

    Love from another oatmeal lover! The BEST breakfast! Thanks for sharing your good food inspirations, Susan!!!


    • sbranch says:

      LOL, it’s so funny. I bounded out of bed this morning, down the stairs, having my tea, it’s not even 5, but I have my oatmeal plan for 8 am, with blueberries and walnuts and cinnamon. YUM, can’t wait! Something about it, then you fly around the room! There’s a quote, “Health is the thing that makes NOW the best time of year.”

  47. Linda Miller says:

    Hello Susan,

    Love your healthy blog and all your food photos…..yum, yum! You’ve inspired me to join
    you! Thanks for the many ideas and recipes for a healthier me in 2019!

    Much success in 2019,

  48. Nicole Dubé says:

    Oh Dear Susan, thank you for this uplifting post! It arrived at the perfect time! I was blaming poor old Winter, when I should have been paying more attention to how I nourish my own body and soul! Keep up the self love so you can share these wonderful insights with us for many decades to come! You will need your health if you are going to write all those book that have been suggested! 😘❤️

  49. Sue Hobbs says:

    Ah, Willard! I started receiving Willard letters in the mail back in the day. The first one I got was Number 3, in June 1997. I still have them and have added each one since they began to be online only.
    Number 3 tells about how “Willard” came about, that your grandfather sent an identical letter to everyone at Christmas. When a similar type of letter was received from someone else, your brother exclaimed “It’s a Willard”, and that was it!
    After Number 8, they were only available online – sigh. I still have those 6 originals and the occasional goodie you would add, like a bookmark.
    Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us. We love you for it!

    • sbranch says:

      I loved sending them! It was affordable then too . . . I think postage just went up to 50 cents a letter!!! Crazy! I’m happy I can still connect with everyone, that was the original plan and it still is!

  50. Jen Pen says:

    I’m so glad you named TRADER JOE’S!!! That store will keep you healthy just by shopping there! The veggies, produce and organic options are awesome and affordable. Nice shoutout. Happy you’re feeding your happy place. ❤️
    Love-ly blog – as usual. Ordinary blessings.

    • sbranch says:

      When we were younger, everyone cared about what school system they lived in. Now all anyone wants to know is how close is the Trader Joe’s! Ordinary extraordinary!

  51. LAURIE says:

    Susan I love all your healthy recipes…new cookbook in the works?

  52. Dee Fox says:

    February is a tough month for me sugar-wise: my birthday, my husband’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, and, today, the anniversary of our first date (now 41 years ago). I was just self-talking this evening about Now, Now’s the time to do it. Lose that belly, lose those 15 pounds!

    So thank you for the support and ideas. Perfect timing. I’m going to do this!

  53. Bernadette (@Bernb69) says:

    Hi Susan-

    Thanks for sharing what I call your anti-inflammatory diet. I, too, feel the difference when I avoid flour and sugar. Eliminating dairy can help many people as well. I like to cook, too, but never grew up with much salt in our diet so I tend to use it as a minimum when cooking. Love my fresh or dried herbs or lemon juice or zest. Lemon alone is a great flavor booster as you know and love it in the morning with warm water and grated ginger root. It boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation. Adding a little ACV is a a special benefit and I swear it helps keep my weight balanced. The ginger (and a little honey) can mask the taste of the ACV but otherwise it adds a mild tang. Good luck!

    • sbranch says:

      Interesting Bernadette! I’ve heard people mixing cider vinegar with water . . . is that what you do, or do you put it on salads?

  54. Pat Harmon says:

    Fan-tastic post! Once again I’m trying to do all you are doing to be healthy and lose weight too. All you younger girlfriends take note. As Susan says it does not get better. As I have said for years, ‘It just gets different’. My weight gain didn’t change so much but it whomped around to my belly! My first granddaughter is getting married next year and I AM going to be in better condition! I love your approach with an anti-inflammatory diet. Sugar IS an addiction that is hard to deal with but the payoff is great. Girlfriends, we can be healthy by following Susan down her path to wholeness. All your dishes look wonderful and are inspiring. I’ve been doing some of this for years and it does work. Let’s go girls! A tip for chocoholics. I’ve gotten used to adding plain cocoa to flavored teas and coffees, smoothies sweetened with fruit only, and by eating a square of 90% good chocolate when I get a craving. It takes a little perseverance at first, but you can work up to it. We can have our chocolate and enjoy it too! Oh, forget sweeteners. They are poison. Happy and healthy to all!

  55. Shirley Graham says:

    Thanks so much for your blog. Always enjoy!! I want to order at least one of your kits & will soon. New calendar looks great too! Have been trying healthier way of eating for awhile but I fall “off the wagon” once in a while as I have a sweet tooth. I am also one of those people who doesn’t mind winter too much. I just worry about ice for those I love. Enjoy your snow & keep on a keeping on!!

  56. kathiellen says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank You for such an inspiring blog. It gave me back some hope to help me cope with a very sad time. I am a nervous and emotional eater…don’t mean to be but I am. This blog, coming from YOU, always my inspiration, has come at a good time for me. I have a 43 year old son who has been a severe drug addict and alcoholic since the mid ninetys and the only thing that I can do for him is to pray for him. I can’t see him any more because I am afraid of him. I have a wonderful life with my husband of nearly seven years. We are like peas and carrots! Spring is coming and we love to spend as much time as we can fishing…and that is a good thing because fish is very good for you! We are looking forward to it very much! yep, Susan, reading your blog today really has given me the determination to stop making comfort food….chicken-n-dumplings, home made fried chicken with mashed potatoes, white peppered milk gravy, and southern style green beans…peroghi served with smoked sausage simmered in apple juice until it cooks down to the best tasting glaze ever!…cakes, pies and smiling eyes…. but that kind of comfort needs to be replaced with the healthy things that we need to eat on a regular basis. I’m an expert on cooking healthy, and making things that people request the recipes for. I try to turn healthy food into Comforting healthy food and it always works. We do very well. But Then, I hear the most horrible things that a mother could possibly hear, and then it’s like someone has sucker punched me and I can’t even think….let alone plan and cook something healthy! It is so much easier to shop for and make comfort food than it is to make healthy food. I need for Cher to slap me and say…SNAP OUT OF IT!!! PUT YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES ON AND DEAL WITH IT!! I am so blessed that I have the wonderful husband that I married, and a daughter that is an angel, and two granddaughters who bring me joy just thinking about them. And…I have You, and Joe and Jack and Rachel, Paul and Alice….and all of the girlfriends comments… God Bless you all!!! I enjoy every word that you write draw and paint! Susan, all of your sweetness, your words, encouragements, stories about your friends, travels, your beautiful dishes and parties…I love to escape into the enchantment of your world as often as I can….I have such a great time there, and for a time I can focus on happy whimsical things!! Thank you dear, dear friend. One more thing…I have your pillow with the darling cottage on it, and also the checkerboard hearts pillow! I treasure them!! They are just plain lovely!! I am glad that you will be selling them again!! I am looking forward to all of your new upcoming books!! Happy Christmas to me next year? Maybe? Goodnite my dears ❌⭕️

    • sbranch says:

      You’ll love the second part of this blog Kathiellen. Too long to tell here, but it will help you with some brand new big girl panties that you will love wearing and wonder where they’ve been all your life! Blessings on you sweet heart . . . Big hugs. xoxo

    • Melissa says:

      Kathiellen, Just wanted to say that I admire your positivity and happiness in the face of something so difficult. I bet I’m not the only girlfriend who is thinking of you and wishing for you the very best and happiest life. Just thought you might like to know that.

  57. Barbara Anne says:

    Oh, in addition to healthy foods, may I put in a word for creativity? Susan, your whole life is jubilant creativity, but the rest of us each need to be creative in some soul satisfying way, too. For me, it’s been handwork from embroidery, to crewel, a tad of needlepoint (a little went a long way for me), to cross stitch, and for the last 25 years, quilting. It’s too much fun!

    Whether your heart pulls you to cooking, painting, singing, knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, making pottery, refinishing furniture, or any other kind of creativity jump in with both feet and give it a try! There are beginner classes for everything under the sun and every expert was once a beginner.

    Something you’ve made that wasn’t there before is incredibly satisfying. Everyone is creative. Listen to your heart and give it a try.


  58. Patty Volner says:

    I love the movie About Time, had to purchase the DVD so I can watch it anytime. Thank you for telling everyone about it. Thanks for the reminder to take care of ourselves. Soup, salad here I come!

  59. Pam Erselius says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am so glad you’re pursuing healthy eating! I recently gave up most bread and most sugar. And I started using Stevia rather than another sugar substitute. I lost several pounds! Mostly because I was motivated after hearing I was prediabetic.
    I do so hope you’ll come up with a cookbook that uses healthy flours (coconut, almond, corn…) for wheat flour in desserts. Pretty please?
    Blessings to you, Pam E.

  60. Kim Rose says:

    So exciting to wake up to your post this morning. A positive happy start to the day.
    I realized a few years ago that if I want to be a content healthy aged
    person, eating smart and regular light exercise had to be on my agenda.
    My tastebuds are yearning for lobster now.. Will definitely pre-order the calendar.

  61. Sandra from Birmingham says:

    Thank you Susan..what an inspirational really helps to focus on our food and what it gives to us…it really has made me sit and think..I need to do this too….
    So thank you for encouragement and the recipe suggestions.
    Love the snowdrops. They are out here too and a few daffodils..
    Spring is coming
    Thank you too for all those hours on the 2020 calendar…just loving this year’s..looking at it right now as I eat my breakfast
    Sending love and blessings..

  62. Conni says:

    What a lovely, uplifting post Susan! Thank you! All year long your gorgeous calendars brighten my little English cottage. You’d love it, and would probably paint it: thatched roof, wooden beams, and built when Shakespeare was alive. I’m looking forward to next year’s calendar to see my home country in a new light!

  63. So excited about the British calendar!!!!!! It’s going to be wonderful! My little routine of buying your calendar at a certain store around a certain date didn’t work this year — they were all sold out. 🙁 I’m stuck “managing” until I find something pretty for the fridge.

  64. rhea says:

    Hit the nail on the head Susan. You are going to feel better and better everyday. This was a good kick in the b— for me as Ive slipped into winter boredom and haven’t been eating as well as I normally do because Im FREEZING here in Vermont! At least the days are getting longer and hopefully that groundhog was right. The California beach girl in Vermont, still running around in flip flops and pretending that that white stuff is just some fluff from the trees. I too had inflammation at a fairly young age and started eating clean and what a difference! Wait until 2 months from now-bread will make you so bloated and sick you’ll never want it again. Plus it feels good to be disciplined about what you put in your body and feel the results….definitely hard at first! Super hard. So Im on board with you my inspirational girlfriend. I’ll throw you back on that wagon when you need it and kick me back on mine when I need it. Maybe our code words should be clean and clogged 🙂 Girl power. Love it. Pre-ordering.

  65. Hi Susan!
    First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to the winners! YAY!
    And I find that the older I get, the harder it is to loose weight, too. At age 62, my body definitely has become friends with my fat! LOL! When I read that quote, I giggled so much!!! I can’t wait to see next years’ calendars, too.
    HUGS to you and Joe, Sharon

  66. Karen Mikell says:

    Susan – great job on changing eating habits. I’ve been trying to do that too. Beautiful blog as usual and Musica!

  67. Mary Ann in Missouri says:

    Eeek! I already love next year’s wall calendar! I’ve pre-ordered mine, as well as one for my mother-in-law. I’ve been giving her one every Christmas for years. I write on it all the birthdays and anniversaries I know she’ll want to remember. I also love your healthy eating ideas. I try to “shop the walls” of the grocery store as much as possible; stay away from processed foods. A friend of mine once told me, if you are going to eat your food from a box, you might as well just eat the box. She’s a wise woman. Have a wonderful day, Susan. As always, I adore your blog posts.

  68. Sandy O'Rorke says:

    Loved this blog post, Susan! Much of your health and diet information I already knew, but it’s easy to slip back into bad habits, even when we know (and feel!) the benefits of eating better and moving more. Is there a possibility of a future book from you, perhaps including a compilation of your favorite healthy recipes?After all, you did sort of promised us at the end of Vineyard Seasons….. not that I’m holding you to a 30-year old promise….!! I would love to see a book like this from you, perhaps one that included menu ideas. We all know how to eat healthy, and healthy recipes abound, but sometimes I need the inspiration that a book from you would provide. In any case, thanks again for this blog post!

    • sbranch says:

      I did it in the Girlfriend book, but those were the days of low fat everything. It would have to be different now because of Live and Learn!

  69. Caroline Woodard says:

    Hello Dear one ~ Giver of so many gifts! I know you beheld the snow moon last night! Wasn’t it a goosebumpy one? I thought, you NEED to have this poem,
    Full Moon
    The moon leaned her full,
    round face so close to mine
    that her mountains touched
    the furrows of my brow.

    “I have a secret,” she said
    with a wink. I waited.
    “You’re not dead until you’re
    dead,” she said. I was a bit incredulous.

    “You’re not impressed?” the moon asked,
    looking just a bit perplexed. “Well,
    let me put it this way then.

    “You’ve got every single day that
    you’re alive to really live. Isn’t that
    due cause for celebration?”
    Her enthusiasm was infectious.

    The moon bent low, just missing a collision
    with a flying wedge of geese. “So what are you doing this evening?”
    she asked. “I’m being me,” I said.

    “Oh that’s the best!” the moon replied, and smiling widely,
    resumed her place in the starlit sky. ~Danna Faulds

    I am so happy for you that you are riding an incoming tide of radiant health! How is it going giving up wine? Forever? What have you found to sip with a delicious dinner? I can’t wait to watch About Time? Did you find it on Netflix? Sending Love, Caroline

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful Caroline! Thank you!!! About Time was just on HBO … I also recorded it. I think it’s out there, free right now. . . You’ll love it.

  70. It’s always exciting and inspiring to read your blog posts! Jack always makes me yearn for another cat! Have I ever mentioned that I use your old calendars as placemats? Someday I will do a blog post featuring that idea!!

  71. D says:

    I do believe this post may be a new book in your future. A get healthy cookbook!

  72. Kay says:

    Susan…how timely! Just this morning a friend posted on Facebook that she has adopted an anti-inflammatory food plan due to aching joints, muscles and poor sleep. I messaged her for info, then opened my email and there was your blog! I just threw out my grocery list and am starting a new one! Thank you and congratulations on taking charge of your health! Bon appetit!

  73. Fancy says:

    Thank you for your “feel good” message I’m just reading this morning. Very inspiring. I recently lost my husband, the love of my life for the past 47 years. He was bigger than life, the life of the party, the heart of our family. Thankful for the memories and the blessings, but our hearts are broken. This grief “process” is the toughest challenge I have ever faced. I have received much encouragement from my loving family and friends.
    One of my first attempts on finding a different normal was to begin unloading the “weight” of a lot of unnecessary “stuff” that has been accumulating in every nook and cranny in our home. I actually was inspired first by the “Tidying Up” show, and then low and behold you wrote a blog about it! Simplifying and organizing and sharing unnecessary items with other people has been a therapeutic exercise since beginning the New Year. Yesterday I ran across my file of the Susan Branch recipe pages from Country Living Magazine that I have managed to hold onto for over 30 years. It was like running into an old friend. I WILL keep them because they bring me “JOY.” And find a proper place to keep them. And now today reading your blog about eating healthier has been a gentle nudge to remind me that I need to be eating better foods on a better schedule. Food has always been my comfort. (Note to self – get rid of all the worst snack foods that have creeped into my house in the last few months – at least get rid of them one at a time!)
    Still coaxing myself to think about the things I always hoped we would do together…and setting a goal that I will at least make “revised” bucket list. And yes, I cannot imagine how or when, but Martha’s Vineyard is still at the top of my list. I can picture myself actually walking by your house, hopefully with a friend. It’s a long way from Texas!
    Thank you for the joy you share through your art and your stories and books. After all, you are one of my “old” friends!

    • sbranch says:

      You sound amazing . . . to have lost so much, but looking positively forward. I’m very proud of you. It has to be hard, I can’t even imagine. Wishing you every good thing, Keep everything that gives you JOY! XOXOXOXO

  74. Marianne from Peoria says:

    Susan, what an inspiration! I need to make my oatmeal ASAP…..

  75. Cindy says:

    My motto: “Love food that loves you back”! It’s AMAZING what eating the right things can do!! If you haven’t met Dr Joel Fuhrman and Dr Michael Greger check them out! So full of wisdom and so funny, too. Thanks for sharing and for recipes!

  76. Hannah Carlson says:

    Thank you for all your health insight. I needed to read that right about now. Now I feel inspired to just eat good old healthy, yummy food and maybe shed a few winter pounds so as to be ready for the spring! Also, I love that movie About Time. It is one of my all time favorites and makes me cry every time. It also makes me want to have a third child. :p haha

  77. Linda Lepage says:

    What a great blog post this was!!!! I can’t wait for the new calendar!!
    I love normal, every day activities too. Mornings are the best! Glad you are making a new start. We must take care of our bodies, we only have one!!
    Enjoy! We are vegetarians in my house, and never have to see a doctor for anything! We are actually about 90% vegan, plant-based foods. We stay away from any packaged and processed stuff. We like to eat whole foods and I LOVE to cook!!!!
    HUGS! from Linda in PA

  78. Sharon S. says:

    Hi Susan – Loved this blog as well as all the others, and enjoyed seeing the picture of your first snowfall. I have lived in Texas (Dallas area) for almost 25 years and haven’t seen much snow down here, although we do get it occasionally. I am from the St. Louis area originally, so I know what it is like to get that first snowfall. I love the fact that you are eating healthy….I’ve had to start eating healthier again too. Years ago I had polymyalgia rheumatica for four years which is debilitating. I saw doctors for this and they put me on steroids, which I did not like and let them know. The last doctor I saw wanted to put me on a medication that had severe side effects. I told him I wasn’t going to take it and he politely told me that if I didn’t listen to him and do what he wanted me to do, I could find myself another doctor…which I did, (ME). I researched and found out what to do for the inflammation. I started eating properly, taking vitamins, fish oil, (I only use Shaklee vitamins) and avoided sugar. The polymyalgia went away and I had full mobility. I enjoyed being pain free for several years. Last year, I started eating poorly again because of stress and am feeling it again. I will be 67 this June and decided life is too short to feel this way. I started eating healthy again which includes no gluten. I found out that I am borderline for Celiac Disease which runs in my family (my older sister has it). I think I am doing pretty good right now even though it’s only been 3 weeks since I started eating healthier. I have a very supportive husband who says he will eat what I eat, so hopefully I can do it again and get rid of this pain. I also just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blogs. You are an inspiration to everyone. I love your nostalgic side as well. Sometimes I wish I was a kid again and re-living life with my parents. They were such wonderful people and I miss them terribly. Thank you again for your inspiration! May God Bless You Always…

  79. Kathy Miller says:

    Good for you! I’m on that journey as well, eating more mediterranean style plus i’ve added liquid collagen! Who knew how important that is as we age but my hip joint pain and 20 pounds are GONE, GONE, GONE!

  80. Merci Schon says:

    Wow, on the same page Susan! Congratulations on losing 10 lbs, major accomplishment! I went for my annual check up and although I’m in good health, did not realize I also need to cut back on sugar, salt and carbs. I’ve always tried to stay healthy and eat right, but I do believe we all tend to forget and fall back, especially during the yummy holidays. Well, back to paying attention. A very encouraging blog, thank you!

  81. Nancy Burdeniuk says:

    Thank you Susan! What a lovely inspirational blog for mid February. So timely for me, as I too have been giving a lot of personal thought lately, to defining my own diet a little more carefully. Your post has confirmed my thinking. Should I be surprised? Your posts are always so heartwarming and inspire us to be our best selves. Thanks again…cant wait to watch About Time. 🌸🌸🌸

  82. Charlene Brummitt says:

    Love your new calendar. Definetly ordering one. I am heading to the UK in May and hope to see some of the beautiful scenery you have photographed. Thanks always for your blog.

  83. Jill says:

    You’ve given me the push I needed to make some food changes in my life! Not sure I can give up my one glass of wine in the evening by the fireplace but the rest should be easy peasy. What about cheese and Greek yogurt? I love my morning oatmeal with yogurt and blueberries, now I’m looking forward to adding seeds. Have you tried the night before oatmeal cooking method? I put the water and oatmeal in a pan, let it simmer for five minutes, turn the flame off, and let it sit until morning. Perfect consistency every time!
    We don’t have a kitty to love but a wheaten Scottie who makes us laugh everyday.
    Thank you once again for the wonderful start to my day!

  84. Jill says:

    Oops, I just read the others have already given you the overnight cooking method for oatmeal! Sorry for repeating.

  85. Kristin Gjertsen says:

    Add some Rosehip tea to your healthy diet plan. It is delicious–deep rosy pink, a little tart (I add some stevia), and great for inflammation and pain. A traditional medicinal that works every bit as well as NSAID medications without the side effects. Just finished my morning cup. Thank you for your post today–I loved seeing the sunshinely pictures, the red on the towels hanging on your beautiful vintage stove, and the snowdrops (Here in North Carolina the daffodils and cherry trees are already in bloom.). Your posts always leave me feeling joyful.

  86. Linda Zimmer says:

    Thank you for another wonderful post! Have you ever considered writing/painting a children’s book about the adventures of JACK? I know it would be delightful.
    Yours on another joy filled day,

  87. Darlene N. from Massachusetts says:

    Thank you Sue for another encouraging blog post. I finally just got my husband to jump on the board with me to eat healthier. He started last Friday and it makes it easier for me to continue living a healthier life style. There is strength in numbers. I like how you put the mix of seeds in a shaker, that’s a great idea.

  88. Lori Hamilton says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thanks for the healthy blog! My husband and I went on the “sugar detox” 30-day diet a couple of years ago and it really reset our taste buds. I can no longer eat bananas because they’re too sweet. My problem is bread and potatoes so trying to eat less of those and more of the better options.
    Looking forward to the new calendars. Thanks for giving us girlfriends out here something to keep us anticipating.
    Oh, and must share: hubby and I just found out that we’re going to be grandparents again! Ain’t life grand?
    Hugs to you, Joe and Jack!

  89. Karen Lotito says:

    Hi Susan! I hope you, Joe and Jack are all keeping warm and cozy! What a wonderful blog! It is so important to eat healthy. All of those wonderful pictures of wonderful foods have made me hungry! We eat a very healthy diet in our house as my husband had a heart attack two years ago this month. We’ve made a lot of changes – lots of fruit and vegetables, raw nuts, homemade bean and vegetables soups, etc. We’ve cut way down on sugar – you don’t miss it! We’ve also eat very little red meat and we still eat carbs but whole grains like Ezekiel bread. In fact, I just found a recipe for a whole-grain Irish soda bread with seeds in it. I have to try it! We’re looking forward to Spring here on Long Island, but March is right around the corner and why rush things anyway. It’s cozy time – blankets, the scent of woodsmoke in the air, books, warm doggies and kitties, tea and my LL Bean Wicked Good slippers! Be well and be happy! Love, Karen 🙂

  90. Debra sewell says:

    Such a spectacular Willard. I at 66 do not burn carbs now. Plus i discovered online that ALL carbs Convert to Sugar in our body that we Store as FAT. Im 5’2″. So carbs flew away….and so did the cravings for bread, pasta and rice. So much wonderful vibrant food to eat instead. Thank you for talking about how changing your eating made you feel. We are what we eat

  91. Pam Butterick says:

    Loved this so much! Read it with my granddaughter Juliet, because what better way to start the healthy eating conversation than with YOUR art and inspiration!!!!
    Thank you!!! ❤️

  92. Suzette Shoulders says:

    Dear Dear Susan, Thank you for being you! I click on your blog site , hoping for words of inspiration , and there you are! I needed a “reminder’ about fresh food eating and preparation, and now I am ready to go shopping. More snow expected here tomorrow, but I will have homemade chicken and white bean soup cooking, and the 25 degrees out won’t bother me! Must find that new movie, ‘About Time’ to watch! Hugs across the country, Suzette in Oregon

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

    good morning Susan, Girlfriends. Brr its cold here 25 degrees outside and snow due tonight and tomorrow. have a nice warm fire going in the woodstove and my extra warm snuggly slippers on to keep my toes warm. plenty of hot water in the tea kettle for tea and I know I will be drinking enough of it to keep warm. congrats on losing 10 pounds, and congrats to the winners. we have snow in the backyard from the weekend ( had a big snowstorm then) and now its frozen over so it crunches when you walk on it. the barnyard birds are doing well, and the ducks have started laying their eggs, they only lay spring thru the summer and into early fall. and a bit of info duck eggs are terrific for people who cannot eat chicken eggs or are sensitive or allergic to them. here is another diet idea, I hate store bought bread, all the extra things added to it are no good. I love the wonderful aroma of fresh baked bread in the house so I bake our bread. plus I have control over what goes into it and only good things go in, seems like lately I am baking bread for us and half of the neighbors around us, somehow that wonderful smell leaks out and they get a whiff of it. also try adding kale into your diet, especially in the winter. very good and healthy for you and very high in vitamins. it seems to perk hubby up as he is really energized these days. hope you are staying warm and cozy with these storms coming through. had to break up the ice on the ducky pools so they could swim and bathe in that icy water…. BRR!!!! well off to get started on the baking process and get the dough going for its first rising, another hint: I put my dough in the oven to rise, warmest spot in the kitchen and no its not on, but the oven does stay warm even when not used. good place to get dough to rise. have a great day today, stay warm and comfy, stay happy and healthy. hugs…… 😀

  94. Terrie Trebilcock says:

    Hubs and I are also working on a healthier lifestyle. Not merely “dieting,” but trying to be more deliberate in what we eat and do. We have lost a bit of weight, but more importantly, we are feeling and sleeping better. Yay!

  95. Gail Golden says:

    Great post, Susan. I, too, am on the health bandwagon. No sugar or white flour, and eating what God made. I lost 90 lbs doing that. I’ve been experimenting with alternative flours – almond, coconut, etc. It’s fun. Thanks for the meal ideas and am going to try the granola recipe. Sounds much more healthy than the store-bought (full of sugar and fat). I’ve been using a rebounder – 15 min equals 45 min of other exercise, plus it cleans out your lymphatic system AND gives you a facelift. (we’ll see on that last one… Can’t tell it yet.)

  96. LauraClark says:

    What an inspirational blog! You always make me smile!
    Susan you are such a blessing to all your “girlfriends”
    Thank you for sharing your fabulous healthy tips, too!
    Have you ever tried making your own milk or water kefir?
    It’s a marvelous drink and so full of probiotics…..other great health benefits, also.
    You can Google it up and it’s all explained since it’s too much to for me to write about.
    Have a beautiful blessed day!

  97. Euelene Mabley says:

    I have been buying your books and calendars for years for myself, my friends and family but for some reason I have never read your blog! I signed up recently and loved every line I read today! Your incredible gift has blessed my life so much for so many years…just makes me happy to look at my calendar everyday and read the quotes. I especially liked how you are sharing your journey of a healthier lifestyle. May God continue to bless the work of your hands as you bless those who are fortunate enough to enjoy the happiness you put forth!

  98. Terry Ventura says:

    Hello😀lots of new things to look forward to. Calendars, hooked rugs, from your last Willard there is a Jack embroidery and little quilt. How fun. I am also happy to hear you are healthy eating but you are also an avid walker which I hear is really good for the body. I am retired and should walk more! I hear white tea has even more antioxidants than green but I can never find it in the stores. California is getting drenched. Yay! Finally rain. Snow covered mountains!

  99. Pauline in Wisconsin says:

    I love this post. All the healthy meals you pictured look wonderful! I’ve recently lowed my cholesterol levels by changing my diet! Maybe you have already done this but all these recipes would be great in a “Good for you” cookbook. Thanks you keeping us encouraging us to better our lives…by what we put in our bodies, mind and soul !! XOXO

  100. Suzanne Thieret says:

    I’m so glad you found a healthier way of eating and it works, doesn’t it? I’m afraid I just could not buy your cookbooks because it was full of ingredients I could not eat or feel rotten. Since I’ve been dealing with many health problems for years, it was important to avoid as much sugar and white flour and crisco, etc. as possible. Bravo! Look forward to healthier cookbooks from you. Also when, oh when, is that new book on Britain coming out? Can’t wait!

Comments are closed.