HELLO DARLINGS, Yes, I am still here! Sometimes I think my life is so NORMAL that it’s actually too boring to write about. But then I get little notes from my Girlfriends and find out, you just like letters from home 💞, so that’s what you have here: A letter from home. 💌 Con MUSICA.

Normal view from normal kitchen window on a normal but AMAZING spring day, because there’s nothing normal about Spring!

It wasn’t so very long ago it looked like this!

I sprouted my sweet pea seeds indoors and they are all in the garden now!

Because this is the NEW normal.

Almost shocking, such a change! YUP, we’ve been planting like crazy, we got dirty, we drank iced-sun-tea. I waited almost two years for this sight. We were in England last year and missed our Vineyard spring, so this year, I hovered over the clematis, waiting to see if the miracle would happen, and Look, it did! Made me want to get busy on the rest of the garden!

Here we are, that’s the strawberry patch in the foreground looking over toward the vegetables. Yup, I know, magic.

We planted six different tomato varieties, three different kinds of lettuce, kale, and lots of herbs ~ 🎶 parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. 🎵 Oh yes, basil and peppers too (but they’re not in the song!)

We added compost and dug it all in, so the dirt was rich as cake crumbs, so easy to dig, a pure pleasure. More proof that if you want magic you can make it yourself! 💫 This little garden has brought us so much joy every single year of the 30 years we’ve lived here (yes, we’re planning an anniversary party in September to celebrate! 🎉). If you don’t already know, you can click on the words above and see how “My Toy” came to be. 🌷

We learned in Ireland that foxglove is the flower of the fairies. I believe it, nothing says, “cottage garden” more than these charmers. Bluebells help too! Spring is time of rebirth, and H O P E 🌸 . . . I happened to see this page ⬇️ I wrote on New Year’s Eve 1998 in an old diary and thought you would like it. . .

A whole lotta hopefulness back then ~ I have the same hopes and agenda today and still write them in my diary.✍️ And my tummy turns over every day, because I’m working on my new book, ENCHANTED, and loving every moment of it. 🎨

But you know what my favorite words from that diary entry were? 💘 Love is all that matters. 💘

So💞, back to the garden 🍓. . . we’ve had a strawberry patch for several years now . . . they survive winter and come back reliably every year and for a little while we get to bring in cereal bowls full of organic fresh juicy strawberries, free, straight from the garden with almost no trouble at all. 🍓

They’re almost ready to pick now! 🍓

And for the first time ever, we found not just one, but my TWO favorite roses here at a nursery on the island!!! This peachy one is called Just Joey . . . it’s my absolute number one favorite!  I’ve never been able to find it here! So of course, we got two!  Roses don’t grow on Martha’s Vineyard quite as well as they do in California, in fact my girlfriend Lowely calls them an “annual” ~ it’s not quite THAT bad, but my fingers are crossed for long life and good health. They’re not blooming yet, the photo above is from our garden in California where we fell in love with them (that is ONE bush in that picture!) ~ they’re prolific, disease-free, and SMELL like heaven. Same with the rose below, my other most favorite, called Julia Child ~ also prolific, disease free, and SMELLS? You guessed it! Like heaven! All three roses are now dug into our garden. I shall update you on their progress. I will be staring daily.

And so it begins . . . my little vases will have flowers in them until the first frost . . .

Now. This has developed into a problem.⚡️ I’ve always loved feeding the squirrels, and hope I soon love it again. But, this little mama gave birth to maybe 10,000 more of them. And suddenly they are everywhere, piglets, eating all the bird food, which I don’t mind, except the birds aren’t even trying anymore, and THAT, I do mind. 😬

I knocked on the window and said, Get Down! Two of them dropped to the ground, but Mama hung there looking at me like you talkin’ to ME? and didn’t move a muscle. 😱 So I cast about the kitchen for a weapon. Eyes fell on red napkins! Brilliant. Went outside, Mama took off, I rubbed my hands on the napkins to leave revolting people-smell  and tied them to the wisteria. Cute, I thought, much better than barbed wire! 👍 

And for the rest of the day, no squirrels came. I was a genius. Marveled to Joe. Broadcast my brilliance on Twitter. 🗣 

Jack said, you are an idiot.

And Jack, as usual, was right. So we are going to spend some obnoxious amount of money for new squirrel-proof bird feeders . . . right now nobody is getting fed, in the meantime I’m hoping squirrel multitudes will learn to find food at the neighbors’ houses and forget all about us.

Then of course, there’s these guys. They eat the seed that drops when the squirrels do backflips off the feeders. They also eat tics. So we are hoping they do that. 

This was our walk on March 11! Note trees with no leaves. Large arm on shadow denotes giant man’s leather jacket for freezing temps.

And this was today, walking in skirt, wearing no sweater . . . delightful change of seasons has occurred. MAS MUSICA? This one is for Rachel~Bellisima! 💋

It’s true, our walk through woods to the water is normal to us after all these years, but it’s still pure joy ~ no humidity yet, just a sweater-free, hat-free, dirt-road-walk through the woods.

. . . taking pictures of Rhododendrons, I call them the wildflower of the woodlands.

This is always our destination . . . I would love to be able to blow this cool, salty, perfumed air your way . . . I worry about our girlfriends in Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Texas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin ~ from California to the New York islands, from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters ~ tornadoes and floods are wreaking havoc in so many places. Sending love and safety prayers to everyone. These crazy fires and weather disasters can land anywhere, any of us could be next ~ I’ve received letters from some affected, some who have lost everything ~ so heartbreaking in their detail, they make me cry, but at least we have each other. 💞 We can still help, we can still wish for each other on the very same moon. Mother Nature seems unhappy these last few years, and you know what they say, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I hope someone figures out how to give Mama a nap.💨💤

So, this was yesterday, Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, Mother Nature was asleep on a blanket under the dogwood tree, so it was a perfectly lovely day, and time to put our flag up. We hung out the upstairs windows to get the flag in place, and neither of us fell out! Hooray! Then I ran downstairs to get the camera and take it out front for the unveiling. While the screens are up on those windows, Jack is locked out of those rooms!

Here we go!

There it is . . . and there’s Jack in the window supervising (screen’s back down, but he still can’t get into the bedroom where Joe is!).

We can’t do it without him. We got the flag up, as we do every year, just in time for my favorite Island tradition . . .

. . . the Children’s Walk to the Sea . . . it happens on the Friday before Memorial Day . . . Now that I think of it, I’ve probably shown it on my blog every year! So now’s it’s our tradition too!

. . . the entire grammar school just up the street from us, kindergarten through 8th grade, carries their flags and flowers through the streets . . . and if I’m lucky one of them will wave and give me a smile . . . 

They parade from the school, past our house, down Main Street to the sea where they throw their flowers into the water in memory of the men and women who’ve fought and died in war. 😢 They will always remember the real reason for Memorial Day, for these kids, it’s not just a holiday or a day off from school . . . 

The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance. ❣️ Herman Wouk

AND they bring their own MUSICA, the same old patriotic songs their parents marched to, and play Taps at the shore as their flowers float away . . . this wonderful custom has been going on every year since 1869, at the same school but with different kids ~ tying the generations together in a common memory. These small-town traditions are important, they contribute to pride of community. And my house has seen every single one of them, heard all the voices of all the children, and all the music.

Can you imagine?

When we bought our house in 1989, we didn’t know this came with it! The first year, I was painting in my Studio and heard the drums and clamoring playground voices coming closer, so I went running out to see what was going on, and got this smack in the eyeballs! Such a treat provided by these kids and their wonderful teachers! They aren’t the only ones who appreciate the reminder. 🇺🇸

So what else around here? Yes, still eating the MOST delicious food. Feeling wonderful. (Loving my new cup!) Soon we will add strawberries to the mix! And our own crisp lettuce and kale and hopefully juicy beefsteak tomatoes 🍅. 

This is what some of our dinners look like. I have tonight’s dinner all planned: scrambled eggs, quinoa salad (based on the one on page 84 of Girlfriends Forever) and half an avocado! Pure health! And speaking of health…wait till you see this! ⬇️

This was Lowely’s birthday cake! Cutest and HEALTHIEST cake in the history of the world! 💗 Our girlfriend Martha made it  . . . you would not believe how delicious it is!  It’s just watermelon ~ which may sound boring and beyond normal, but do not be deceived. She cut the ends off a whole seedless watermelon and cut a cake shape out of the center in one piece. We think she did it with a 8″ springform cake pan because the shape was perfect. Isn’t it adorable? The rest of the decorations you can see: Mint leaves under the bottom of the cake. Piped cream cheese holds the blueberries rimming top and bottom. Green-grape halves go around the center. Feta cheese is crumbled over the top with baby tangerine segments. To serve: Cut it like a cake, sprinkle each piece with extra tangerine segments, feta crumbles, whipped cream, and/or mint chiffonade. It is SHOCKINGLY delicious 🍉, it’s fruit salad! It set the girlfriends ON FIRE simply because of how cute it was, everyone loved it. These colors would be perfect for anyone with an appreciation of whimsy! Any summer-night dinner in the garden, or at the beach, cries out for ice-cold watermelon cake.

Another serving idea would be to cut the cake and serve it with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of brown sugar because those two things go with watermelon in the BEST possible way! 🍉 How’s this for a summertime treat?!!!So, I went on line to see if others had figured out this brilliant thing, and found a resounding YES! I grabbed a few photos to show you . . . 

So fun, the sky’s the limit with your imagination! You can even do smaller cakes with cantaloupe!  I saw one cake decorated with starfruit! Very cute! 🍓

Whipped cream or sour cream would both work for frosting.

Layer cake for the Fourth of July!

Cookie-cutter shapes around the middle. From pineapple! How darling! HERE’S a video that shows how the cake was cut from the watermelon. Have fun!

Speaking of fun . . . lots of girlfriends are getting their cups and sending me photos on Twitter ~ @Sharrieboberry sent this one ~ and it just GOT me . . . thought you’d like to see it! Precious Corgi eyes are so melting! And here’s something else fun and new! A company asked if they could use my Martha’s Vineyard toile fabric to make shirts! So of course I said yes! Perfect thing to wear if you’re coming to the Island! Or even if you’re not! I think they’re mainly made for men, so I ordered one for Joe ~ but I HAD to have one, so I got a smaller one for me. Haven’t seen it yet, they just came in.  Made by Mayor Clothing. Now Joe and I will be one of those couples wearing matching shirts. I NEVER thought it would happen to us! (And likely still won’t considering it would likely be over Joe’s dead body to be wearing the same shirt as me! 🤡)

AND, P.S., if you ARE coming to the island ~ there is now a store here that carries ALL my things . . . cups, signed books, hooked rugs, all kinds of things. It’s on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, called the Simon Gallery . . . if you come, say hello to Robin! Also, guess what? They’re also carrying Lowely’s (in real-life she’s Anna Lowell Finnerty) and Margot’s art! So this is Girlfriend Central on the island! 

She even has a few of my things that aren’t available anymore . . . the original Days, for instance, I think it’s the very last of them. She’s open 10 am to 6pm, 7 days a week. The Gallery phone number with Robin on the other end is 508-693-0042.

We only have about half of our storm windows off so far, but Joe took off the glass doors and put the screens on, mainly for this guy, who loves to watch the world go by, and is very entertained by 10,000 squirrels searching frantically for food. (Don’t worry, someone around here throws handfuls of nuts out there for them to find in the grass.)🥜

It’s a big job. Wears you out after a while 😽. So we move a kitchen chair up for him . . . so he can guard the campground AND nap in the breeze.So, that’s all the normal for today Girlfriends! Hope you enjoyed spring on Martha’s Vineyard and praying you are getting lots of it where you are. 🌸 Remember, there are Free Things you can print out from my web store. And all kinds of wonderful RECIPES for the season. AND, yes, miracles do happen, our tiny vases and butter dishes and the rest of our new little things have finally shipped and will be arriving at our Studio on Thursday! They will begin going right out immediately. 💞 Thank you forever for your kind patience. Sending all my love from  . . .

And even across the seas . . . you know who you are! 💞

Last but not least, something special to remind us of the reason for Memorial Day . . . gratitude, heart, memory, and love.

Girl Kitty, still haunting in the Heart of the Home.SIGN UP IF YOU’D LIKE TO RECEIVE MY BLOG IN YOUR EMAIL BOX.

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464 Responses to A LETTER FROM HOME

  1. A truly delightful Letter from Home, dear Susan! I always look forward to your Children’s Walk to the Sea every year at this time. So meaningful for everyone! I know that I would have tears in my eyes every time the children passed by. Martha’s fruit cake was so beautiful… and you could enjoy seconds, too. Your Kitchen Garden looks fabulous, Susan! You and Joe have really been busy. You already know how much I adore your garden. When The Summer Book was published, my Dad traveled from Arizona to help me build an Herb & Tea Garden inspired by your garden. It has always been the ‘heart’ of my garden!💗
    Martha’s Vineyard truly blossomsin the Springtime! This year, Springtime is very
    s-l-o-w-l-y tiptoeing into the Midwest. This has been our rainiest May in 149 years! On our few dry days, I run out into the garden. Everything is growing like crazy! Although it looks like Springtime, with our cooler temperatures it really doesn’t feel like Spring yet.
    The very BEST thing this Spring is that my parents are living close by, in a beautiful Senior Living community, just twelve miles from us! 😊 After 25 happy years in Arizona, we helped them move back to our area for health reasons, so that we can help them every day. Although it was a very challenging move, they love their new apartment and have made lots of new friends. It’s a nice blend of independence and extra help. Now I can bring my mom bouquets of flowers from my garden. We even started a little flower garden on their balcony on Mother’s Day. This week, we are planning a special celebration for their 67th wedding anniversary! 💕 I’m busier than ever, but count my blessings every single day!
    John has a suggestion for your wonderful Movies list. He thinks that you and Joe will love ‘Stan and Ollie.’ So, I promised to let you know.
    Warmest hugs, from our home to yours,
    💗Dawn (in Illinois)

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy your parents are back near you! Stan and Ollie, got it!!!! Tell John thank you!! xoxo

      • Rachel Lucas says:

        Stan & Ollie is GOLDEN!! I cried so much…they are perfect xoxo

        • sbranch says:

          You will love that I went to Stan’s daughter’s house, who happened to be the mom of my friend, and guess her name? Yes, Laurie. All kinds of memorabilia . . . we went through one of their photo albums, but was around 19 and didn’t feel right about “demanding” MORE! Laurie’s now the wife of one of my brother’s best friends and lives in Oregon. Going to watch it tonight!

  2. Donna Fleishman says:

    Just loved reading your blog. I’m so glad you mentioned the store in Vineyard Haven carrying your beautiful creations. I hope to have a little vacation on Martha’s Vineyard sometime during mid-June and will surely visit this quaint shop. I haven’t had a vacation in over 20 years! I can’t think of a more charming place than this island to spend a relaxing few days. I can’t wait for you to finish Enchanted. Keep doing what you do Susan. You bring sunshine to so many people, and I’m one of them. Best to you and Joe and of course Jack, your friend, Donna.

  3. Shirley Graham says:

    So glad to see your blog – love it!! My geraniums are blooming like crazy right now & since I just have a deck anymore, I look forward every morning to my bright flowers. A cardinal came the other morning and sang & sang right outside the door on a tree! I haven’t fed the squirrels for awhile as they take over & no one else gets a chance. I didn’t know we had a parade on our street but when driving the other day I saw flags on the poles and thought isn’t that nice the city put those flags up! Of course it marked the route & I found that out today as I was going to leave to go to my son & family! So nice – made me think of a small town that I used to live in. Enjoyed your blog & look forward to a new book!! I have your summer book on my coffee table & look at it every so often. Thanks!!!

    • sbranch says:

      That little parade we have isn’t advertised either . . . we only know because we live on this street. Another reason to love it, no crowds!

  4. Diana Phelps says:

    Hi Susan!
    I love reading your blog and seeing what happens on the ‘other’ coast! I LOVE the WATERMELON cake! What a terrific idea! Do you know where a candelabra like the one on top can be found? Is it old or new? It is charming!

    It is always so fun to see Jack in your photos! He is a treasure! I am sure that Girl Kitty was, too. It is so sweet you are remember her on this holiday and I am sure she IS haunting you—in the best possible and loving way!

  5. Barb Murphy says:

    So happy to receive your blog. I’m truly enjoying the photos of your garden. Here in eastern Iowa it’s been raining and is much too wet to put in a garden, much less allowing farmers to get fields planted.
    As is the “norm” this particular spring we had rain again today with more to come through out the next week or so.
    But your photos give us hope and we look forward to a few days of sunny weather, whenever Mother Nature decides to gift us with them.

  6. Susan Dugal says:

    I hope you don’t end up with the $100 squirrel proof bird feeder that I bought. It was a lovely feeder and a terrific invention, however, it took the squirrel less than five minutes to figure it out – so infuriating. I then created my own invention and covered the top of the feeder with a firm plastic cone and stuck pins out of the top hoping they would be like barbed wire. I even felt sorry for doing it and hoped the squirrel would not get hurt. However, somehow he chewed the plastic around the pins and made a hole big enough to squeeze through and get to the feeder – even more infuriating! I will be looking forward to your next post to see how the squirrels make out, and maybe a picture of the miracle squirrel proof bird feeder.

    • sbranch says:

      They are SOOOOO smart! We just bought the widely acclaimed “Squirrel Buster Plus.” I’ll let you know!

  7. Jo'L says:

    Wish schools in all places made an occasion of National Holidays to maintain the reason for them the way yours does.
    Love to see the beauty develop in your part of the world, we here in coastal Oregon are blessed with nature’s Spring show.

    • sbranch says:

      It would help bring our country together in national pride, all celebrating together. . .

  8. Oh, Susan ~ there is never, ever anything boring about any of your blog posts! In fact, when I see that you have a new post up, a big smile comes across my face because I know I’m in for a delightful read.

    We bought a couple of squirrel-proof bird feeders and they do work! It’s hilarious seeing the squirrels trying to figure them out at first. Though with the smaller, thin feeder we have, the naughty chipmunks have gotten on it and have figured out how to squeeze their bodies into one of the feeding holes, and have destroyed it. So I think we just can’t win against these naughty rodents sometimes.

    Jack is one of the most handsome kitties I’ve ever seen (shhh, don’t tell my cats I said that – they’d be jealous) and your garden is always swoon-worthy. Are those pink clematis plants all around the top of your fence?

    The watermelon cake looks and sounds absolutely wonderful. I’ll be taking a look on Pinterest.

    Hope you, Joe and Jack had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that’s clematis … montana reuben. We don’t have chipmunks but I would like to see one of them squeezing into a hole! LOLOLOLOL!

  9. Laurie Lacey says:

    The pictures! The quotes! The good tidings! Your blog is such a slice of heaven/ray of sunshine – thank you! I read through and feel like we must be soul-sisters 💗

    • sbranch says:

      That’s a wonderful thought . . . I think we have lots of kindred spirits on this blog! xoxo

  10. Claudette Simms says:

    Thank you Susan!
    Always such a treat to ‘read a letter from you!’
    So love your musings, illustrations, quotes, photos….and
    cooking & gardening tidbits 🌸
    Your enthusiasm for the 4 seasons & life in general is
    most appreciated….you’re a wonderful girlfriend to all 💐

  11. Angie says:

    Love your spring! Ours has been all full of dreadful cotton ball fluff from the cottonwoods. Can’t even take a deep breath without coughing on several. Rain has helped some. And just today, (I love your walk), I was walking and waiting for my knight in shining armor to pick me up. “You have your skirt stuck up in the back.” “NO, I do not!” But yes, I did! Reading about you walking in a skirt reminded me that I must either get rid of that skirt so no one recognizes me as that woman showing her panties or quit walking in my neighborhood! LOL.

  12. Samantha (Nova Scotia) says:

    What could be better than a letter from home complete with Musica and a piece of watermelon cake. It is all so pretty. I loved looking through your garden. I am a beginner but figured out that I have a bit of a green thumb so now my plants are like children to me (and my actual children tease me about it lol) Nurture and nature do go together and your blog is a beautiful mix of both. I live on a property in the city so i have no land…but have figured out how to make a deck something to see if I include geraniums 😉 Thank you for sharing. I am currently working on the recipe book for my daughter. She is 12 now. It was nice to see it in the picture. I plan to work on it over time with family recipes and let her use it and take it when she leaves home someday. She enjoys helping to pick the recipes to put in it. What a gift! I’ve gone on long enough! haha….just responding to a letter from home. Blessings on your week and best to you and Joe.

    • sbranch says:

      I love that you’re doing that book, what a memory you are making for your daughter. Twelve is my favorite age. Have fun with your little creative heart. xoxoxo

  13. shelly says:

    Hello Susan,
    your garden is so lovely! just makes you glad to be alive and to bless everyday:) do you know the name of your beautiful clematis, is it montana or pink vanilla? Eden is a beautiful rose, so is abraham darby and heritage. a log is good for your family of squirrels or build them a big beautiful flat feeder….it might help…we have raccoons and I have to bring my feeders in every night because nothing I do has worked yet! Talk about enjoying spring, we have a small koi pond and one of our young chickens discovered it and took a drink! it was the sweetest thing ever. God bless:)

    • sbranch says:

      It’s montana reuben … aren’t our little critters wonderful in their own way? I would never want to hurt any of them! They say you can trap your squirrels humanely and move them away from your neighborhood, but they also say that usually kills them. So that’s out! All will be well!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        my MIL tried years ago to trap some of our squirrels to take to her yard, she wanted them. well since they have no trees and no food sources for the squirrels to survive on, they would cross the road in front of the in-laws house and get hit by the cars zooming by or get hit by the trains coming by the oak grove on the other side of the tracks. either way the squirrels did not survive there. nowadays when the squirrels see her car in our yard they bomb it with acorns and every time she is out they bomb her, guess the squirrels don’t like her very much….. LOL!!!!!!

  14. Kathy says:

    As always a wonderful post, Susan! We feed the birds and have also had to outwit the squirrels. There are some great squirrel-proof feeders out there, and I’m sure you’ll find some good ones. I don’t know if you would want to do this, but in my feeders that aren’t squirrel-proof I only use Safflower seed. The squirrels don’t like it and don’t bother with it. I’ve been doing that for years and had good luck.

    • sbranch says:

      Which birds like it?

      • Kathy says:

        Cardinals, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Grosbeaks, Titmice, Finches, Sparrows will eat the Safflower seed. You can put the Safflower seed in the feeders that aren’t squirrel proof, and then you use whatever seed you like in the squirrel-proof feeders.

    • Star Stevens says:

      I use only safflower, namely, golden safflower seed, or Nutrasaff, which has a softer shell and higher fat and protein content than white safflower. The cardinals and the woodpeckers love it. I have no squirrels, starlings, or house sparrows as long as I use it. I have tried all kinds of feeders and all kinds of food, and this is it for me from now on! My little chipmunks like it, but I like them, so that’s okay. I get the golden safflower cylinders from JCs Wildlife online.

  15. Diane Bennett says:

    Do you have a source for your diet? Looks like a good one! Also, staying in Falmouth for a few days and thinking about a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Thanks for the bookstore tip!!

    • sbranch says:

      No, it’s not really a diet. It’s just “whole” food . . . so you see the salmon, the peas, the spinach? ~ all whole foods. Or the recipe for the quinoa, only whole things in it, seeds, red pepper, healthy ingredients. No white flour, no sugar (except special occasions of course), Omega 3 eggs, Ezekeil bread (whole, sprouted grain), oatmeal with fruit, walnuts, and almond milk ~ avocados are really good for you too. Sometimes I’ll have two scrambled eggs, steamed kale, a half of baked sweet potato, and a half of avocado. Pure Health!

  16. Judy Peters says:

    Hi Susan:
    I was searching for your fabric to add to a quilted Christmas tree skirt I’m making for my daughter. All I can find is Spoonflower website & oh my goodness, it is $17.95 a yard!!!
    Do you know of anywhere I can get it for the going price of $11 yd for quilt shop quality fabric?

    I loved seeing your pics of spring on the island.


    • sbranch says:

      I know, Spoonflower is SO expensive . . . I think they’re only for folks who want like a quarter of a yard for something! But there is no one else making my fabric, I’m sorry to say. Does the website have any left? Ask Sheri@

  17. Sherry Coleman says:

    Watermelon cake! Will have to try.🍉🍉 I think our kitty who passed away last September is still here with us too. I distinctly hear her walking on my husband’s leather chair! Thanks for sending your blog to us today. Always love hearing from you. 😘

  18. Good morning Susan! This pinged through last night just as I was crawling into bed. I took a quick gander (how could I resist!) and am now digesting it this morning with glee. First of all I loved seeing that old photograph of your house. I love houses with history, and you have built some beautiful history in your home over the last 30 years! Loved seeing the children’s parade. How very wonderful. You live in a sweet, sweet community. I don’t know how you can ever bear to tear yourself away from it to go anyplace else! Love your garden, always have. Oh to have such a space myself with a white picket fence and even half the charm.

    “Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” ~Jonas Salk

    And so I dream, and maybe I will turn those dreams into reality. In the meantime I drool. ☺☺☺

    Squirrels, can’t live with them, wouldn’t want to live without them. Hope you can come up with a perfect solution. Have you seen @this_girl_is_a_squirrel on Instagram? Perfectly delightful. Jill and her owner have the most wonderful feed, although I cannot imagine living with a squirrel in the house. (no matter how cute!)

    That Watermelon Cake is pure genius and Jack!! How can we not totally love Jack and his cheeky thoughts, perfectly put into words by yourself. I think all of our furry family members look at us from time to time and have those same thoughts about our intelligence!

    Wishing you a lovely day filled with sunshine and smiles. You have put a huge one on mine. Thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve seen the girl-squirrel on Insta. Went as far back as time would allow but could never find out how she got it! Do you know? I leaned over, kissed Jack’s neck and said, “You’re MY squirrel.” He wasn’t sure how he should take that! Thank you sweet Marie, always good to hear from you! xoxo

      • Elaine Serblowski says:

        Susan, you must read Marie’s blogs. They are wonderful. Marie, I thought you’d like that watermelon cake. Hugs to you both, Elaine

      • She was a baby squirrel which was rescued during Hurricane Isaac back in 2012! She is even pottie trained (amazing!). Where would we be without our much beloved furry family members. Life would have such a hole in it. Mitzie is our squirrel, although I think she would rather chase than be one! ♥♥♥

        • sbranch says:

          AHA! I kept scrolling trying to get back to the beginning, but 2012 is a long way away! That squirrel is almost 8 years old! Amazing. And potty trained! I spent HOURS in the mountains with my family as a child, doing everything I could to lure a squirrel into letting me touch him, but no matter how still I sat, I could not get them to come to me. Fascinating photos, and the curling up on her neck is just precious! Thank you Marie!

  19. Angela Burrett says:

    Hi Susan: I’ve just comeback from 10 days in Cape Cod: had the most wonderful time which included 3 nights on Martha’s Vineyard. It was wet and cold but it didn’t dampen our spirits! We had such fun: wonderful food: great lobster rolls in The Black Dog Tavern sat by the fire! and everyone so friendly. We were due to go to Nantucket too but the ferry from Hyannis was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions! Next time! Instead we went up to Provincetown stopping at antique places all the way! All in all a wonderful time: so love your Island. Even in the cold and wind we enjoyed long beach walks. Made lots of memories. Cannot wait to come back. Xx

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, it sounds like a perfect trip . . . just that dang sunshine. We’re getting it now. Interspersed with garden-loving showers. You’ll have to come back for the sun!

  20. Danielle says:

    Hi Susan, Thank you for posting your sweet blog. It always makes me smile.
    We have to take down the bird feeders here in VT by April 15th so as not to attract the black bears. I’ve had them take my feeders before and bend the wrought iron pole they were hanging on! Do you have hummingbirds on the island?
    (Only recently learned they don’t have them in Europe, lucky us!)
    Your garden blooms appear well before my zone 4 garden, it’s nice to see the preview.
    May the positive energy you send out come back to you twofold 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, we do have hummingbirds. But not like in California where they are zip-zipping everywhere! Thank you Danieele, and right back to you, zip-zipping all the way! xoxo

  21. Deb in Wales says:

    Good Morning Sue!

    I could say “whatever normal is” but your normal is always interesting and worth reading all that you share.

    I am taking a prolonged social media break, and not watching any news either, as sometimes the world is anything but normal and it overwhelms sensitive souls, so I am doing what is best for me, but, of course, when up popped a notification email, well, I had to swoop on over.

    Gardening is possibly the best therapy of all, and these days, even though my garden is a shambles, I am spending as much time as I can out there. My Grandmother’s favourite poem was “God’s Garden” by Dorothy Frances Gurney, and there is so much truth in her words. You probably know the most famous verse from it, but here it is again

    “the kiss of the sun for pardon
    the song of the birds for mirth
    one is nearer God’s heart in a garden
    than anywhere else on Earth”

    ~~~Waving~~~from Across the Pond~~~Deb in Wales xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Good for you Deb. A little distance is a good thing! Good luck pulling your garden back together! xoxoxo

    • HveHope says:

      Oh! I’m thrilled to learn who penned those words! Back when, in college (or so) I came across that stanza printed on a T-shirt (which I wore out & eventually crafted into a patio chair pillow). It meant so much to me, esp after I had becime a Christian & had a chance to have my own garden. To know the words are part of a bigger poem that praises the Lord -wonderful! Thank you Deb!! 🤗

  22. Colleen says:

    Susan..I LOVE when it when I receive a newsletter from you in my inbox. I’m like a little kid that opened the mailbox and found a letter to me and grabbed it and ran to my room so I could open and read it. Each one is always a delight to me. How I miss getting handwritten letters in the mail. Almost a lost art now. The generations now won’t have any idea what it was like to receive a handwritten note in the mail. So many traditions are dying. Is it because I’m getting older, that I long for the past? Anyways..your letters always make me smile and often give me a big lump in my throat….(Boy..I must be feeling melancholy today..haha!) I would love to stroll down your tree-lined country road. I miss living in the country. Hubby and I would have our best talks on those quiet roads, listening to the crickets and birds singing in the background. Anyways..just to let you know I enjoy reading each of your letters..(sometimes more than once!) Send some sun my way here in southwestern Ontario. I’ve had enough of the rain and dreary days. Hopefully summer will come soon. 😘

    • sbranch says:

      I know, handwritten letters are such a loss. Think of the ones you’ve saved. I have my great grandmother’s letter . . . and love letters, and so many others. They are going to cease to exist! The letters home written by Civil War soldiers and read on Ken Burns series, to think they wouldn’t exist! Was talking to a 14 year old the other day and she said kids don’t learn spelling anymore “they don’t need it.” I think some bad choices are being made! I have to laugh or I would cry. I’ll send you some sunshine Colleen. Sunshine and good memories. xoxoxoxo

  23. Kim Rose says:

    Just loving your kitchen garden. It took nine years for my clematis to bloom (this year) – my family thought I was nuts dancing around the garden I was so thrilled.
    We have Joey in our south african garden too and the mouth’watering’ cakes are so tempting. Thank you for a lovely letter. Kim

    • sbranch says:

      I know just how you felt. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You are a patient person, but it paid off! Thank you Kim, so far away, sending love!

  24. Nicoline says:

    Hello Susan,
    Please, never worry about being boring, or too normal, it’s what we LOVE!!! Dear Jack has the BEST spot, haha, keeping an eye on all that goes on.
    Lovely to see your garden, it’s looking gorgeous! We’re slightly ahead of you, because our Lilies of the Valley are gone, and so is the pink clematis, the one that looks so pretty over your fence!
    Never mind, it all looks nice!
    I don’t know if my “tip” about removing cat hairs showed up, but just use those colored rubber household gloves, wet them, and rub over the hairy surface, and balls of “fluff” will come off.
    Did you hear that the Downton Abbey movie is to be in cinemas in september…!!?? Yeah!! I have a link to the trailer, I hope you’ll be able to open it and see it.
    Lots of love from Holland (going to UK tomorrow, we’ll be in Cornwall this saturday!!)

    • sbranch says:

      Cornwall!!! I’m there (in my book and imagination) AND reading Rebecca! Thank you for the cat hair tip, excellent tip for LOTS of us! Yes, I saw the Downton trailer and it made me cry! Joe wanted me to say a special hello to Gabriel! He remembers and liked him. Me too, isn’t that nice!? xoxoxo

  25. Sandi from the Cape says:

    Dear Susan, Yes you do need those squirrel proof feeders! I got one and now the critters only feed on the downed seed – no more acrobatic hanging upside down squirrels! The huge black magpies however have found a way to flutter their wings just enough, so they don’t weigh as much, to open the dropped part of the feeder that closes the seed doors. Who ever coined the term bird brain? I’d like to hear more about the kitty hauntings. That is such a sweet picture of her with the heart stones! Your garden is such inspiration! Don’t the chipmunks get in to eat the strawberries? Our chippies take one bite out of each strawberry then leave the rest! Urgh!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL! Bird brain! We don’t have chipmunks here! I’m sorry to say (I THINK) … they are so adorable! Birds want our strawberries but we toss a net over the plants and it saves most of them. Yes, the purchase of new bird feeders is in process!

  26. Carol in Indy says:

    Oh how I needed your post today, dear girlfriend. You never fail to lift my spirits with your positive outlook and you appreciation of the beauty and joy of the every day blessings. Thank you for reminding us of the beauty all around us. I cried with joy at the precious photo of a Jack looking out the door with the Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt behind him. Beautiful kitty, beautiful quilt, beautiful view. How can we be sad with such beauty all around us?
    Thank you, dear Susan, for your gentle reminder of all that is good and right and worthy of praise.

    • sbranch says:

      And with your every word you give that right back to me, and to our girlfriends. That’s why we’re here! xoxoxo

  27. Your plantings are to die for! I saw watermelon and can’t wait for it. We have had so much rain here that our National Cemetery Memorial service had to be moved inside. We are flooded in many places but it will be the opposite in a month or so. Feast or famine 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Yeah, it’s a bit much! But flowers still grow thank goodness! I’m afraid someday in the future people will read writings about weather and seasons and think, “Oh how quaint!”

  28. Hi Susan – the best thing I ever saw to keep squirrels from bird feeders are 78 rpm records. You put them on a wire between your feeders and st each end and sit back and watch the fun. The squirrel’s can not get around, on or over them!! Birds can eat!!

    • sbranch says:

      Okay, explain that again, you st each end? Imagine 3 feeders hanging straight down from 3 separate wires, about two feet apart. Where do those records go?

  29. Susan K. says:

    As always Susan the blog was a welcoming read….you and Joe have become family and we always love hearing from you. Your garden is fabulous …. But I must say….the ROSES ! are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen ! Have a great day,too

    • sbranch says:

      They are a very special flower. The grocery store varieties make us forget the real thing, the big, falling over, blousy, fragrant, budding, ruffled, loose and nodding garden variety rose.

  30. Dear Susan,
    My mother never had any desire to learn how to use a computer and is 80. (Not even email😆) She’s devoured ALL your books from cover to cover! Every blog post I photocopy for her and send via snail mail, as she still LOVES getting mail. (I’m in Austin and she’s in Denver) She wonders why written cards aren’t sent very often anymore and I tend to agree. She is homebound due to a bad fall/chronic illness and lives vicariously through your beautiful descriptions of your walks, talks, and treasures. Thank you for always brightening her day, and mine too! I know she’ll be anxiously awaiting the post guy/gal to show up!
    Sincerely your friends, Momma Joyce and Daughter Jennifer 😘

    • sbranch says:

      I wish she could come to the blog and say hello! But you give her a hug for me, won’t you Jennifer? My mom refused too, so I know the argument! #DeafEars (don’t tell her I said that!)

  31. Kathy Branch Spicer says:

    I have often looked at photos of your kitchen garden, to provide inspiration and courage as I tackle the 100′ by 75′ fenced garden (six foot fencing because I live in Deer Central) that I inherited when purchasing our property. Last summer, the first summer in our house, I tackled weeding, edging, mulching, and making sense of the MILES of terraced flower beds around our house in the hills. The fenced in garden way back at the edge of the property was ignored out of necessity while I prettied up the many gardens close to the house. The fenced garden is way bigger than I would have ever wanted to tackle – but THERE it is. Completely overtaken by weeds and blackberry brambles, the first order of business is clearing sod and weeds on the side facing the house. Old rambling garden roses will grow there. Next, little by little, we’ll clear sod and weeds to make planting beds for veggies, herbs, a flower cutting garden. The back corner will be a compost pile area. I may be 80 before this garden area is tamed, but I’m committed (or need to be committed because I believe I can tackle this huge area). Next project – clearing out and cleaning up the barn and chicken coop so we can get chickens next year! Life in the country is GRAND. And exhausting.

    • sbranch says:

      I inherited a large garden (NOT as big as yours) when I bought my first house on the Island, and, because I did it all by myself (I was young and still relatively new at being a total idiot), it got very old very fast. Hence my little picket fence garden, inspired by the monster that almost killed me one summer in 1983. Now, also, on the hopeful side of things. There is a woman named Polly Hill who began her famous garden at age 50. Luckily she stayed healthy until she was 98, and these days you have to buy a membership to go see her garden here on the island. Yours sounds like hers!

  32. Mary Brehm says:

    Good Morning! Thank you for sharing your lovely spring with us. I too, burst out laughing when I read that Jack thought you were an idiot!! So funny.
    Your garden is beautiful and I just love that clematis. Did you plant more than one vine? I treated myself to two new ones this weekend. One is call “Pink Mink”. and the other is a lovely shade of violet. I can’t recall the name just now. Hopefully next year my back deck will look like your garden fence.

    I want to tell you a quick story. I have two daughters in their twenties. My sweet Jessie, the older of the two, has been in love with you for a while and a true kindred spirit. She got married last summer and her sweet little apartment is brimming with Susan branch charm. She has read all of your books and we share that common interest. It is so nice.
    My youngest daughter, Sarah, is in college and working oh her PHD in Geology. She will be going into her 5th year of study this fall. Hopefully she will finish up by the end of next year (fingers crossed). Jess and I have both been touting all the wonderfulness of Susan Branch to her for a while, but she is so busy with school that she hasn’t had much time for anything else but her studies. I give her a lot of credit. She has been so brave moving so far away from home (Michigan). Being on her own and working toward a big goal.
    She has had a rather difficult time of it the past six months. Her boyfriend of 4 years (and love of her life or so she thought) broke up with her the day after Christmas in a car, in a parking lot near our house. Can you imagine seeing your sweet daughter curled up in the fetal position with her head in her dad’s lap crying her eyes out the day after Christmas? It was awful. Three days later, Her grandmother suddenly passed away. The poor kid was a mess.
    She drove back to Michigan, a ten hour drive, with her goofy cat (Meatball) .
    We were all so worried about her.
    Jess told her about your books and suggested that she read “Isle of Dreams” so she bought her a copy and sent it to her. She finally had a break in her busy work schedule and read it in one weekend! She called me up all excited and couldn’t stop talking about how you had been through a rough time and how you came through it! The book completely enchanted her and was the perfect balm for her broken heart. The timing of her reading it was perfect. She was going on and on about how she wanted to be more creative and spend more time appreciating the little things and if you could get over a lousy break up so could she! So, my dear, you can add a new “girlfriend” to your list. She is utterly smitten and charmed by you as we all are. Thank you again for being you and putting a bit of lovely into all of our lives. You are wonderful <3

    • sbranch says:

      Sitting here with tears in my eyes. That makes my day in a way I just can’t tell you. Your daughter is exactly why I wrote that book! It was a horrible time for me, and I KNEW there had to be others going through it. I wished so hard for a HOW-TO book back then, never found one, so I wrote my own. That guy should not have the HONOR of laying eyes on her again. That’s the way I look at it! 🙃 Think of what she is! OMG. He should be so lucky! You tell her I said so! xoxoxo

      • Mary Brehm says:

        Now I’m crying! I will definitely tell her! xoxoxo

        • sbranch says:

          This morning I was just waking up, and somehow in that dream state, thinking of what I know now, that I didn’t realize when I was married to my ex, how LUCKY I am it went the way it did ~ I looked at sleeping Joe, and just said to myself, barely awake, Thank you God!

  33. grace says:

    Oh my goodness. I needed something lovely to start my day and your posting did just that. I love your garden! It is a dream garden to me…white picket fence and all.

  34. Barbara P says:

    What a lovely Spring ‘letter from home’. I was slowly paging down, enjoying every picture, when I came to the picture of the flowers on your windowsill and I believe I gasped out loud (although I’m not sure because I was alone). There on the left…lily of the valley! I was immediately taken back to my childhood when I visited my grandparents in Wisconsin and they had a row of them along their driveway. And I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing/smelling them since. Living in Florida, we don’t have many of the beautiful things you are able to grow so I particularly enjoy your garden from afar. And as for Lowely’s birthday cake…if that isn’t an example of a ‘labor of love’ I don’t know what is! And don’t we have a lot of creative girlfriends? (I wonder, do we have boyfriends, too?) I’m so happy to be a part of our little world of beautiful people. Happy Spring!

    • sbranch says:

      My dad was our Boyfriend for years, he was “Blog Daddy” and put his brilliant 2 cents everywhere! And I think there are others, but they mostly steer clear of the girl talk. Which is good because we can use this as a training session without them realizing. xoxo (Just kidding, guys.) And YES, lovely Lily of the Valley, the fragrance of spring! What a wonderful memory!

  35. charlotte m. says:

    Wonderful blog post Susan. I love seeing your garden, and all your little vases lined up. I love lilly of the valley but haven’t seen any in years. My great Aunt Charlotte, who I am named after, had them along the side of her house when I was a kid. Also laughed about your battle with the squirrels. I fought that one too when I lived in NC. I found a great squirrel proof feeder, but it was expensive. Then I got a tip and tried attaching a metal slinky to athe top of the shepherd’s hook and letting it hang down the pole. They can’t figure out how to deal with it and it seemed to keep them at bay. Good luck with your battle and don’t be a stranger here. We love hearing about life on the vineyard.

    • sbranch says:

      Sweet old-fashioned flower that actually grows almost wild here on the Island. We find it in the woods, and it pokes up its little head all around our house. Joe put a spring on one of the feeders to make it bouncy, NO problem for these acrobatic squirrels. So yesterday we got two Squirrel Buster Plus feeders. People love them, say they work, we shall see very soon!

  36. Mary Ann in Missouri says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love this blog post, and it’s just what I needed today. We are one of the areas you were talking about, who just got hit with a tornado. I live in mid-missouri and we had two of them last Wednesday. The capitol, Jefferson City, which is 20 minutes from us, got hit with an F-3 and Eldon, also 20 minutes but in a different direction got hit, as well. We are also having bad flooding. Then, this morning, I talked to my sister, who was sitting in her basement because the tornado sirens were going off. She lives near Dayton, Ohio. That’s where I grew up and where most of my family still is. Dayton had just been hit by a tornado, as well as Beavercreek (just outside Dayton.) They are also experiencing flooding. It’s all just so sad. So, I needed your normalcy today. Thank you for cheering me up, and for the beautiful pictures of your garden. Truly an inspiration!

    • sbranch says:

      It is so sad. I worry about everyone too!!! Blessings and prayers for everyone Mary Ann! xoxoxoxo

  37. Janet O’Connor says:

    Hi Susan, this post was just what I needed to see! The photos of your yard and the school children marching by with their flags were so uplifting! Thank you for sharing your everyday with us.💕
    Janet xoxo

  38. Cathy Hoff says:

    Morning Susan! Yes, those squirrels are cute but piggies nonetheless. We have one at our house with only half a tail..not sure what happened to the other half. We have named her?/him? “Stumpy”. We are happy to see Stumpy in the spring because that means they survived another cold Northeast winter.

    My hubby and I are planning our 25th anniversary trip for the fall and will be staying in the Cape Cod area for a week. I am SO glad you wrote about the shop that carries your items…it will definitely be visited. I would love to drive/walk by your home will we are on the Vineyard, and possibly take a picture of the outside. I want to make sure this is okay with you and Joe – I don’t want to intrude on your privacy. I would not knock on your door or anything – I promise I’m not a stalker. lol Although we have met at one of your book signings…my hubby and I live in Saratoga Springs, NY.

    • sbranch says:

      I like it when my birds or squirrels have some sort of “mark” on them so I can tell them apart and keep track of them! Funny because in the fall we’ll be heading up to the Saratoga Springs area! xoxoxo

      • Cathy Hoff says:

        Oh that is wonderful…it’s so pretty in the fall. If you need a guide, let me know…I’m a native and know all the good places to see! 🙂 I know you said you visited Lyrical Ballad on Caroline Street…the gentleman who owned passed away a couple of months ago. Very sad – he was such a nice man. I think his family is going to continue to keep it open. I hope so…I love browsing in that shop.

        • sbranch says:

          Oh we loved that bookstore! It’s been a long time since we’ve been there . . . Joe used to love to go to the horse races with his family. What are your favorite villages and towns maybe a little north of Saratoga, maybe near Lake George area, or on the Hudson somewhere . . .?

      • Mary Brehm says:

        Hey!! I’m in Burnt Hills just down the road from Saratoga! Oh boy! Be-still my heart! Are you doing a book signing or something??? That would be so awesome. My daughters and I all said we should take a girls trip the next time you have event scheduled in the East. It would be so awesome if you were actually so close to where we live!!

        • sbranch says:

          We’re going on a wee vacation to the Adirondacks!!! Hudson River area, something like that!

          • Mary Brehm says:

            Oh How Nice! You will love it. My mom and dad had a camp near whiteface mountain. It is beautiful there. Hopefully you will see some fall color! Take a ride up the whiteface highway and climb the last strech…you won’t be disappointed. (or take the elevator) haha!

          • sbranch says:

            I’m making notes!

          • Mary Brehm says:

            the Adirondack museum in Blue Mountain lake is an awesome place to visit. You would love it there The artwork there is amazing. That’s a little more west in the Adirondacks. My husband built an Adirondack guide boat. He went there and did tons of reasearch before he built his.

          • sbranch says:

            I put it on the list!!! How great he built a boat!

  39. Sharon Swift says:

    Hi Susan, Just saw your wonderful blog this morning and loved it. Your garden with all of your flowers and “veggies” looked beautiful. I loved the roses and could only imagine how great they smelled. (Roses are my favorite flower). I got a chuckle out of your adventures with the 10,000 squirrels and your idea to hang a red napkin to deter them. The squirrels around my house love to torment my grand dog Jasper. He’ll chase them and they run only so far up the tree, then stare down at him as if to say “ha, ha, you can’t get me”. It’s actually quite comical to watch. I have a question for you, do the turkeys just roam wild around Martha’s Vineyard…just curious. I think they are so beautiful to see. Our neighbor said he saw a flock of wild turkey’s around our neck of the woods, but I have never seen any. I love everything about your home and where you live….it almost seems magical. I hope my husband and I can visit Martha’s Vineyard someday…I’m sure we would love it. I also love the way you talk about Joe. It’s nice to see someone else in love with their husband, as much as I am with mine. I know it sounds corny and sentimental, but I think it’s great. My husband and I will be celebrating our 38th anniversary on May 30…where did the years go. About a week ago we went to Wishful Thinking in McKinney, TX to buy a gift for my friend’s birthday. I did buy her your new “Happy Birthday” mug which she loved. I met the owner, Patty Streber, and chatted with her for quite a while. Our conversation was mostly about you (don’t worry, only good things were said). After we left the store, I realized that I didn’t formally introduce myself to her, so I’ll have to go back and do that. It was so comfortable chatting with her that it seemed like we were old friends. She is such a lovely person. Sorry for prattling on, but you, like Patty, seem like an old friend to me. Blessings to you and Joe.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s definitely not corny, isn’t that what we grew up dreaming about, being happily in love? Doesn’t happen for everyone, not for me for a long time, but what a blessing when it does.💞 Happy Anniversary! And yes, the turkeys just roam around wild. They are lovely to see, just not too many of them at once . . . like everything! Thank you Sharon!

  40. Rose Ann Bacher-Giallombardo says:

    Your wonderful life is NOT boring at all. It’s filled w/ LOVE & JOY!
    I truly enjoyed your dear, sweet post for “Memorial Day”.
    Many Blessings to you Susan, Joe & Jack too 🙂

  41. Carol Ann says:

    Enjoyed this post sooo much! What is the name of the pink Clematis on your fence? Is it several plants spaced across? Do you cut it back in late winter? I want my fence to look just like that! 😃

    • sbranch says:

      It’s only two plants, one on each side of the gate, called clematis montana reuben … No cutting back, you just leave it all winter. It wants roots in shade, flowers in sun, so I have two large flower pots in the garden that block the sun on the roots. I can fill the pots with flowers too. As it begins to grow, just go out there and weave the vine through the pickets … it’s really a climber which I have taken sideways. Good luck!

  42. Eliza Waters says:

    Just had to say that your pink clematis on the picket fence is gorgeous – pure delight!

  43. Lisa Humlicek-Taylor says:

    Thanks for your descriptive blog. Truly give us all a lovely feeling for many days to come. Normal can be comforting. I wished i could see all the pictures but I didn’t get any after the picture of the foxgloves w/with fencing. I live in an area that has lots of squirrels and their antics give my kitties quite a bit of exercise. This is also entertaining. Thanks for the good feelings.

    • sbranch says:

      I hope you read this Lisa, I believe all you have to do to get the photos back is refresh your page . . . let me know if it works!

  44. Laura says:

    Hi Susan, So good to hear from the ‘heart of the home’. Back when you first started eating healthy, I confess, I balked. What about all those delicious desserts in your cookbooks I asked? Two months, twenty pounds and a whole lot of healthy eating later – I feel amazing. Balance was the key. Each week I allow myself a free breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner to eat out or cook grand. Now I’m finding I enjoy healthy eating so much, I don’t use all my ‘free’ opportunities. Your cookbooks are packed full of healthy choices. These are the recipes I lean toward. If feels good to feel good. Lesson learned: Don’t knock it until you try it. Thanks for planting the seeds – both in your lovely garden and in your online family. We are listening.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s so true, isn’t it Laura, balance is the key. And consciousness! For me, a tiny plan of WHAT I’m going to eat, and at what time, is a big help. Congratulations on that 20!!! xoxoxo

  45. Pamela Hoops says:

    Thank you Susan for the normal, ordinary, lovely, funny bits of life that keep us all grounded. Thank you for making us laugh and brightening stressful days. I am in Bixby, Oklahoma, a particularly hard-hit flood area. A Sunday tornado added to the excitement. Every weather update that comes through is stressful and dire and makes everyone feel anxious. But then I read your post and it all can disappear for awhile. And, I can KEEP your post and re-read it and enter that calm space once again. Thank you for your always caring, always thoughtful, very intuitive love of us all.

    • sbranch says:

      Weather is as crazy as the squirrels! Sending prayers and good wishes for it to end soon, for spring to come, for the birds to sing! Thank you Pamela!

  46. Brenda says:

    Your squirrels have relatives at my feeder in SK. We call the most regular visitor Lardball and he became that because of all the seed he steals. Luckily mourning doves and two rabbits come to eat the seed off the ground. We call our rabbits a mixed marriage: one is a wild jack rabbit and the other is a black domestic rabbit who must have escaped someone’s hutch. They appear under the feeder at 7 p.m. every day. It makes us wonder what internal clocks they have. Thanks for the wonderful post!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, Lardball!!! So fun when we name them! We all seem to have our own little zoos!xoxo

  47. Hadley says:

    Hello Susan, I am a longtime reader and cherisher of your beautiful books and all your lovely work. I’m not usually one to comment but can’t help but share a funny anecdote with you about the “squirrel issue.” My Grandma Millie, who is 93 years young (as of just this past Thursday!) is the gentlest, sweetest soul you’d ever meet and a lover of nature and all animals. She too adores watching the birds at her feeders just outside the kitchen window but became increasingly frustrated over the years by the “darn squirrels!” spoiling things. She tried lots of different things to no avail, until……she discovered an old super soaker squirt gun lying around in the rec room, undoubtedly belonging one of the grandkids. And my gentle, sweet Grandma Millie started squirting the squirrels right off the feeders through the screen! Ohhh we would howl with laughter about this. “It doesn’t hurt them!” she’d make sure to point out defensively. (It does not.) But oh, I wish I had a picture of that dayglo plastic super soaker lying on the shelf above the kitchen sink, nestled among drying glasses and little potted plants. The image is burned in my memory. (As is the image of her scrunching her nose in concentration as she squirted it. Hehe.) Anyways, it seemed to work for her, though it requires some diligent feeder monitoring 🙂 Thank you for sharing your life with all of us- it brings me such comfort and joy to read along.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, your Grandma Millie is adorable! Believe it or not, Joe suggested the same thing . . . to squirt them right through the screen, but I’d have to make it a full time job to watch for them! Love having you here, thank you for writing!

  48. Lori Tamblingson says:

    Just Joey roses have been my favorite for years! So glad you get to have some. I had them in Florida and loved them. That is such an amazing tradition of having the kids march to the sea. So glad to see people still honoring those who died to make us free.

  49. Darylene from South Dakota says:

    Hi, Susan,

    You mentioned worrying about the girlfriends in South Dakota so I thought I’d chime in so you’ll have one less place to fret over 🙂 This girlfriend in the Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore area is still kicking, even though it snowed 13 inches in one day last week. All the tourists here to visit Mt. Rushmore were turned away, and Keystone and Hill City (tourist towns) were completely closed down due to the snow dangers. Can you imagine “closing down” two whole towns? I felt so badly for those tourists that had come from afar just to be turned back. The snow melted within a couple of days, but it was too late for those poor tourists. I don’t think we will have a summer here this year. It’s already May 28th and in less than a month, the days will begin to get shorter. It raining buckets as I type, and I think I just saw a very old man in a huge boat gathering the animals two by two – ha ha. It’s very gloomy outside, so your post was very welcome, as it always is.

    P.S. My cat, Gracey, tells me I’m an idiot all the time. The problem is she’s usually right:) Love you Susan!!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Darylene, love getting the South Dakota report . . . glad you’re alive and well and getting through spring with your sense of humor beautifully intact! Hugs to you and Gracey! xoxo

  50. Rachel Lucas says:

    What a wonderful blog surprise today – THANK you for my Mozart and I hope everyone enjoyed him too! xoxo As we’re talking gardens, I thought the girlfriends might like to hear a ‘Paul’ story?! The truth is, I have had to ban him from growing vegetables 🙂 Usually I do it, but this year he has built a new raised bed and was very keen to plant the seeds…he did a great job, even sieving the soil gently over them, patting them in…every evening he would come home from work and go outside to see how ‘his babies’ were doing. All fine so far. Until he realised that they needed to be thinned out! He is so soft-hearted that he couldn’t bring himself to do it, even when I pointed out that NONE of them would grow properly if they were all crowded. He practically had tears in his eyes at the thought of sacrificing any of them!! So I had to be the Wicked Witch of the West and do it (he couldn’t look) …HA! And they (used to ) call US the weaker sex!! Much love from chilly Olde England this evening xoxoxox

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure they did, it was so fun listening to your Mozart while I was writing the post! Paul! LOL! So funny the way you tell it! But you tell Paul I can barely do seeds for the exact same reason! I have to hem and haw, which ones live and which die? It’s a terrible dilemma, so I usually buy little started plants to save myself from the pain of it. Chilly here too, actual showers today, very English here. Rhododendrons just about to bloom. Love you dear. Happy Tuesday!

  51. Annie Yip says:

    Yay! So happy to read your post! Hubby and I arrived on MV yesterday… spending the week. Today all tucked into cozy books and my watercolors. I know where we will be heading to tomorrow… the gallery! Huzzah- all things Susan shopping spree! Would be my dream to run into you here someday… ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      Tucked in is right! Little rainy right now, but garden is loving it! Hope you have a WONDERFUL time. Say hello to Robin at the Gallery!

  52. Barbara Heinsohn says:

    I *love* that old picture of your home. Were there other structures attached to it at one time that have since vanished? Have you ever researched the history of your home and written to us about it?

    On the squirrel proof feeder, I’ve used this one for years and years. They at first try to get to the food (babies try every spring) but give up when they see it’s futile. It’s cheap, too! amazon.com/Perky-Pet-Squirrel-Be-Gone-Wild-Bird-Feeder/dp/B000SP2JLU?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_14

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, if you look at that old photograph closely you can just make out a Victorian tower behind the house. It seems so nutty, because the two styles are not one bit compatible, but these towers were popular home-additions in this old neighborhood (I always think maybe they had something to do with that new fangled plumbing that came along), some of the houses here still have their towers. Ours was taken off long before we moved here . . . also the front porch in the photo was taken to the back of the house and the two columns were used for the porch off the kitchen. The house was built in 1849 by a whaling captain named Smith which Joe and I love because both of our mother’s maiden names were Smith. Thank you for the bird feeder info!!!

  53. Karen Lotito says:

    Hi Susan! It was so nice to see your cheery, flower-filled blog as I’m still jetlagged from our two-week adventure in the Baltic! And those wonderful cakes! We truly can have our -healthy-cake and eat it, too! Your garden is lovely and with this spell of warm weather after all that rain it’s growing fast! I’m not sure how much gardening we’ll be doing this year as we’re building a house in Maine! It will be a vacation home first then we will move to the Midcoast when we retire. So exciting! I always say that when I was born a piece of my heart broke off and flew to New England and my husband and I have been visiting Maine for over 25 years and so….. 🙂 I hope you had a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend and enjoying the celebration of all of those who gave some and those who gave all for our freedom. Love to Joe and Jack and be well and be happy! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It’s your “spot.” How wonderful you’re building a house there! Creating the perfect future for yourself! Have fun Karen!

      • Karen Lotito says:

        Lol! And I got so excited I told you about the house again after your June blog! Lol! I think I still must have been jetlagged from our cruise to the Baltic!

        • sbranch says:

          Comments come to be backwards, the last ones show up first, so I saw this comment from you before the other one! I answered both of them in that other comment…. very exciting about your house!!!! xoxoxo

  54. Joan Rosenberg says:

    Hi Susan!! As always, I loved your blog and forwarded it to a friend who is a fabulous cook and…GASP…never heard of you! She will love your blog and your recipes!!

    We used to have a squirrel my husband named Benny who ate us out of house and home!!! He also used to drive our tuxedo kitty, Rosie Rose Rosenberg, CRAZY!! We believe his grandchildren are now depositing acorns in my planters on the deck…the family resemblance is the remarkably white belly.

    My husband and I visited your beautiful Island last fall and happened into the shop carrying your books, delightful!! We had a wonderful time exploring the Island.

    We will be retiring soon, from NJ to Eastern WA. We have a duplex in WA and last Nov. the developer sold the other side to a new couple. We invited them over for wine, when they walked in, my new neighbor, Anne, saw your books in my basket and exclaimed, “I LOVE Susan Branch!!!” 3 hours later, the men were pulling us apart to say goodnight, Susan Branch fans are kindred spirits!!!

    Thanks for your books, recipes, blog and good cheer!!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Yay, a good new neighbor! I see cups of tea, sugar-borrowing in your future! I love the name of your Kitty … very adorable. Thank you Joan!

  55. Debbie Boerger says:

    We’re thankful for the sunny Memorial Day. Each of our “townships” put on their own parade. Lots of smiles and lumps in throats.
    Today we are back into rain, wind gusts and very cool temps. Tom is building a fire….after we cleaned out the wood stove, so that it would be ready for Fall. Looks as though we’re in for another 5 days of very cool days and cold nights.

    The toasty Kale was a hit. I’ve just about finished the entire huge bunch. I sprinkled just a bit of garlic powder on them before sliding them in the oven. My friend liked them on her salad. I’m going to use toasted sesame oil next time. I think my Tuscan olive oil was a bit too bitter, a taste I usually like.

    We had to make a trek to Bangor this morning for a doc’s apt. In spite of the cold and rain, the various trees were in bloom, and so many hardwoods were leafed out. Puzzling, as down here on the coast, we usually start early. Two of the apple trees have begun to bloom. Hope the rain stops so the bees can go to work pollinating. I think I said that they don’t work in the rain.

    Another warm, soothing blog, for which I am Soooo thankful. Will read the girlfriends comments next visit to the computer.

    Huge Hugs,
    Debbie in her cozy “camp” in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      I recently made the surprising discovery that all the BEST (most expensive) olive oil is actually bitter, WAAAAY too bitter for me (but I’ve always had the bitter gene, beer is too bitter for me!). So I’m getting the less expensive kind now and like it better! I’m happy you’re enjoying your Kale! So good for you! Love the idea of the sesame oil. Yum! I’ll try it too. We got rain this afternoon, just a little bit, good for the garden. Hoping for sunshine tomorrow! Stay cozy Debbie!

  56. Eileen says:

    Hi Susan, I wanted to tell you I have had really good luck with the Fundamentals Squirrel Proof Feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited. I think it cost about $80 but has lasted several years already, and it really works. The woodpeckers and heavier birds can still use it. I’ve been feeding the birds since 1984 and this is my best feeder yet. Good luck!

  57. Margaret Matlock says:

    Spent a lovely hour reading your blog and all the wonderful comments. You are so blessed to have so many friends who love you. You are just what we need in this crazy world reminding us that we need to look for the good. Can’t wait for the new book.

  58. Maureen (from So. Cal) says:

    There’s nothing boring about this blog. It’s always filled with wonderful pictures and the blessing of you sharing the things you love, which we do too! There is so much I want to respond to.

    Your garden is wonderful and lovely. I would love a raised garden in the yard. I remember the first time I saw it so many years ago in a magazine. I tore out the pages and still have them filed away. I have never heard of the roses Just Joey and Julia Child. I can see why they are your favorites, they are gorgeous! I must find them. I live in Southern California and my roses this year have had a super bloom of their own from all the rain we had and keep getting. I tell my friends the same thing, their smell is heavenly, because they are. Particularly the Peace rose and whatever other rose started to grow on the same bush. Your squirrels are so cute but I get the annoyance a bit. We’ve had ducks in the pool this year, a male and female mostly, but sometimes the males are have a men’s night or something as I seen 4 and 5 of them at one time on a few occasions. Problem is, they use the pool as a litter box…the pool man is not amused. So I’m not feeding them or the little birds, for now, at least through the summer. So it’s nice to see whatever is feeding from yours! 🙂

    My heart melts when I read about the Children’s walk to the sea in your blog. It’s a beautiful sense of community and tradition that I have a longing for. Thank you for sharing it, what a joy that must be for you to see first hand.

    Love the whole blog and the recipes you’ve linked in. I’m so looking forward to my pretty things to arrive soon! YAY! Wishing a continued happy and joyous Spring to you and Joe and of course Jack. (and Girl Kitty)

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Maureen! Julia and Joey have the BEST fragrance, you’d love them in your California garden where they’d be beyond prolific! Love Peace too! Beautiful! XOXOXO

  59. Yvonne Sullivan says:

    Thank You Susan for cheering me up today

  60. Barbara N. Critchlow says:

    Dear Susan! Thank you for being the best girlfriend ever! I was able to visit Martha’s Vineyard only one time, it’s a long way from So Cal, isn’t it?
    My New England family gets there more often. I own many of the things you offer and, of course, my very favorite is A Fine Romance because of my first long awaited visit to Great Britain. You and Joe experienced many of the things I’d gone looking for and I was thrilled to see them again in your delightful book. The thing I want to share, and hope you will laugh about, is the joy your Isle of Dreams brings to me. I have a first edition signed copy and I have read it 8 times! It gives renewed joy in difficult times. Thanks again!

  61. Stephanie A. says:

    Hi Susan! Happy spring! Your garden looks wonderful! I love the turkeys in your yard! The turkeys on the Vineyard are so great. We’re always on the lookout for them when we’re driving on the Vineyard because you never know when they’ll just be sauntering across the road! My husband & I always say “must break for turkeys!” So excited to know the Simon Gallery is carrying your items. I’ll be sure to check it out. Saw it was only in the 50’s on the island today. I hope your spring weather returns very soon!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, we had to run around and close all those open windows yesterday afternoon. Part of me is happy because my sweet peas are growing and they like it cool! It still smells good, we’re having rain showers too, so it’s what I call “screaming New England GREEN” right now!

  62. rebecca (Becky) mcmahan says:

    When I was in England visiting a friend–I didn’t want to see Chatsworth or anything splendid–I just wanted to see a thatched roof–so my dear friend took me out at twilight, our last night there and found me a thatched roof. So for her bday I ordered her (and me of course) your new cottage cup with the thatched roof!! We are both soooo happy with them. Speaking of thatched roofs, and I know you were in Va, recently, in Stauton , Virginia there is the most charming tea room named after Anne Hathaway and looking like her home in Shakespeare country. I drove up to it and it had a thatched roof!! I was stunned, I heard that there is a man who lives there, from Australia, who goes all over making thatched roofs!!

    • sbranch says:

      I am like you, I like the little real places. The dusty ones that haven’t been too fixed up. Love the thatched roofs. Seeing how they re-thatch was fascinating. I’m so happy you like your cups! I’ll have to look for that tea room one day! Thanks Becky!

  63. Barbara says:

    Dear Susan, it is a pure joy to read this letter from home. Your pink clematis are so beautiful, what is the name? Your garden is very inviting, your work is evident. Thank you for the thoughts for us in Nebraska and other states experiencing the power of Mother Nature. I’m sure sunshine is on the way. My daughters and I are loving our new cups, they are worth the wait. Thanks for sharing your beautiful spring, it lifts the heart.❤

    • sbranch says:

      Clematis Montana Reuben. It’s really a climber that I twisted around the fence ~ that’s only two plants you see there, so you can imagine what they can do as spring climbers! I’m so happy you like your cups. Sending a little spring sunshine your way! xoxo

  64. Becky McMahan says:

    Thanks for taking time away from your book to write this–always centers me and gives me some peace to hear from you–but get back to the book soon cause I can’t wait!!

  65. Yvonne Sullivan says:

    I just finished reading the The Africa House.It was fascinating I enjoyed learning about the different birds there and I would Google them and see them and hear them My daughter and son in law have been to many different parts of Africa jtheywould always bring me trinket that was a bird.

    • sbranch says:

      Have you read West with the Night? It’s another book set in Africa, a 1942 Memoir written by Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly solo in a plane from east to west. SO beautifully written, my copy of the book is all highlighted.

  66. Kathleen says:

    I love your blog and all of your work. I’ll be on island at the end of June and will surely visit Simon’s Gallery for your books and other items. To come to beautiful Martha’s Vineyard each year is truly the highlight of the year for me and your blog and beautiful work always makes me feel like I’m there when I’m at my home dreaming of Martha’s Vineyard!! Thank you thank you for all you share with us. And how SWEET is the tradition of the grammar school to honor Memorial Day in this way!! Thank you for these uplifting photos too!
    Well, enjoy the remaining days of Spring and the sweet days and nights of summer soon ahead!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Kathleen! We do have some lovely days and starry nights to look forward to . . .

  67. Val B says:

    I love the reply about the break up and discovery of Island of Dreams. That book has touched so many of us who’ve been there. Little did you know how inspiring and helpful your suffering would be to others. Your loss was our gain. Thank you Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      It was my gain too! Isn’t that funny? I got Joe, Martha’s Vineyard, this old house, and I became independent. XOXOXO

  68. Martha says:

    Beautiful garden! Do your kitties realize how lucky they are?

    • sbranch says:

      No, I don’t think so. Jack believes I’m the lucky one, and has me totally convinced!

  69. Karen Bowerman says:

    Oh how I loved your blog. Read it this morning while Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played in the background. And those roses! I snipped the picture of the “Just Joey” ones and made it my Facebook profile picture. Now if we only had fragrance with our computers … lol! Have a blessed day! And so looking forward to getting my tiny vases!

  70. Cathy says:

    Good morning! Having a cup of coffee with you while strolling through your pretty garden! Just hafta say, “You CAN’T trick a squirrel”! Wishing you a wonderful day!

  71. Nancy says:

    What a lovely morning visit! Thank you for writing!

    We do battle with the squirrels as well – cayenne pepper/red pepper flakes mixed in with the birdseed does help. The squirrels don’t care much for spicy food and the birds are oblivious to it. Works well for tomato plants too. : )

    • sbranch says:

      Pepper flakes help tomato plants?

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        keeps pests from munching them like deer, rabbits, squirrels, coons and possums. works like a charm.

        • sbranch says:

          Do you buy it in bulk?

          • Nancy says:

            We do buy it in bulk. The ground pepper works much better on the vegetable plants but the pepper flakes are better in the bird feeders.

          • sbranch says:

            Excellent information, thank you Nancy!

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            I just buy the biggest bottles of pepper flakes I can find and several at one time and use liberally. works very well around the tomato plants . works well sprinkled very liberally around the entire garden.

          • sbranch says:

            We don’t have deer though, and the bunnies, so far, knock on wood, have caused no problems! But I’ll remember!

  72. Mamey says:

    YAY! A new post! PLEASE don’t ever think we need any BIG news to read a new post from you. I LOOOVE your everyday life posts! This was lovely.

    Living in upstate NY we have a TON of squirrels as well. After going through many (and I mean MANY) bird feeders and bags upon bags of bird food we finally purchased the squirrel proof feeder BUT! We still had to purchase the huge clear cone-shaped contraption to put on the top of the feeder which FINALLY worked. I wish I could remember the website but I can’t, sorry. It wasn’t cheap that’s for sure, but we are saving a ton of $ on the bird food and it’s now glorious to watch all the gorgeous birds being fed.

    Your gardens looks amazing as well! Can’t wait to see the new Joey roses in bloom! Happy Gardening!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m excited. We bought two Squirrel Buster Plus feeders AND safflower seed ~ The birds will love us!

  73. chris kelly says:

    I always bought rose bushes that had flowers on them to be sure there was a scent. So many no longer have a scent.

    Love the blog… chris

    • sbranch says:

      Me too. No beautiful rose is beautiful enough unless it has a wonderful smell. That’s God’s gift to the rose, and I have to have it! Thank you Chris!

  74. Kimberly L Young says:

    Susan, thank you for another lovely, inspiring blog post! I have a very small walled garden and some days i think…hmmm wish it was bigger,but you reminded me, a small sweet toy is perfect ( and manageable), its my little hide away, and I should not compare it to others. Keep posting pictures of your yummy healthy meals,both beautiful and encouraging.
    Our little town has a few festivals and parades and we own a small restaurant right on Main street. I cannot watch the High school marching band go by, playing a familiar patriotic march, without getting verklempt! Dispite what is currently going on in Washington, those times are when i feel patriotism deep in my heart!
    May where have you gone? Soon we’ll be saying Rabbit, Rabbit and summer will be off with a bang. Owning a restaurant in a tourist town means that we don’t look up again until October. I’m sure Joe remembers what it was like.
    Your inspiration to create little moments of sweetness, to stop, breath and take in the beauty around us, helps me to navigate the season. Always time for a little SB magic!
    Hugs to you and Joe

    • sbranch says:

      OH yes, small is better. You can make small SO beautiful, and keep track of it. Big, to me, means weeds win!!! I understand your verklempt-ness. Some things are just too beautiful not to cry over! You’re going to be very busy! Where is your restaurant? Inquiring minds want to know!

  75. Teri Byrne says:

    Oh thank you for flying the flag! YAY—
    I put one out on our mailbox last week among the flowers and my neighbor was surprised.
    “I want our flag back, ” I said. “I love our flag!”

    You see, she and others here generally feel that you are a Republican and support Trump if you fly the flag.
    So my flag says, “Hello Hello! I’m free, I’m free to be!”

    Thanks again, Susan x-x-x-xOx

    • sbranch says:

      Crazy. That’s Russia speaking, 125 million Americans heard their divisive lies on Facebook in 2016 … They’re trying to tear us apart, but we are ALL AMERICANS, that flag is our legacy, our heart and no one owns it, we all do.

  76. Christine Dougal says:

    As always dear Susan your wonderful “letter” was just the literal breath of fresh air I needed! Sharing your life and loves make me and I’m sure anyone reading it so happy and content! You are so right – gardens create magic and joy and hope! My neighbor came running the other day when I squealed so loud at discovering my brand new tree rose was blooming! I couldn’t promise her it wouldn’t happen again! LOL! Thank you for spreading joy! XOXO

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, I burst out laughing when I read you squealed out loud at your tree rose! That’s SO normal! Thank you Christine! xoxoxo

  77. Danielle Hollingsworth says:

    I just finished “The Fairy Tale Girl” and “Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams” for the second time last night. I have to tell you, you are such an inspiration to me. I closed the book and had to hug it to my chest while I wiped a tear. You make me feel like anything is possible! Thank you for always sharing such joy!

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

    good afternoon Susan, Hello Girlfriends!!! I just love those watermelon cakes, just perfect for summer…. especially the 4th of July. definitely serving up 2-3 of those for the block party we are having. I wonder if sparklers on the cakes would be okay… what do you think???? and those gorgeous roses, Just Joey and Julia… wonder if they would grow well around here, we get such extremes of weather at times. used to grow Sutter’s gold roses but my FIL ran them over with his lawn mower, never could figure how or why he did that but I haven’t exactly been too thrilled with him since then. our wild turkeys showed up yesterday, with their new babies. looks like the little ones were recently hatched.. no feathers yet, just fluff. but mama showed up with 8-10 brand new little peeps and they hug around for afternoon. hope they come back. we have 8 duck eggs waiting to be hatched so that mama is also in the nursery now to protect the ducklings, and the males are not happy… no ladies to chase around the yard. somehow we managed to get a young Banty rooster, he just showed up in the yard and has stayed. he is young and just learning to crow, have no idea who lost him but at least here he is fed and safe in the yard with the rest of the birds. we are finally getting sunshine here, still get some scattered showers and thunder storms but so far no fires ( keep your fingers crossed on that please, we don’t need anymore fires like the past few years) today it is back to watering the lawns and gardens, the rains last week got me out of that chore but now before things dry out its time to water again. got the veggie garden planted, and hopefully the deer will stay out. unfortunately hubby never puts up a high enough fence to keep them out there. he just says to shoo them out during the day, well that’s great but then they come back at midnight with a major case of the munchies. one of these days I hope he will figure that out… oh well live and learn I guess. off to start the water for the front lawns. you all have a great day today. sending sunshine and hugs….. hugs…. 😀

    • sbranch says:

      What a farm you have there Pat! Always sounds like so much fun! Definitely keeps you busy!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        it does, but I like it and I’ve somehow managed to learn an awful lot about breeds of chickens, turkeys and ducks and what is best to feed them and to care for them… definitely a learning experience for a former valley girl from the San Fernando Valley.

    • Deb says:

      Pat, I’ve been reading your stories for years and they are always so entertaining. I had to laugh when you wrote about your FIL mowing over your roses. I have several of the same exact stories, just exchange FIL with husband. I swear, he just didn’t like to have to mow around my flowers so he’d mow them over. So frustrating. So, I simply quit doing any yard work, flower planting, etc. at all for several years. (my own little protest) These days he finally sees things my way – well, with my flowers, at least – and mows around them and I am able to have a beautiful yard and he actually appreciates the beauty of it! My little win!!
      Anyway, thanks for the entertainment, Pat. I just love every little thing about Susan’s blog, even the girlfriends comments!

  79. Ruth Frank says:

    Thank you for sharing! You and Gladys Taber always center me and remind me of the simple beauties in life!

  80. Beverlee Moreno-Ring says:

    Well that was a fun read!!! Smiled the whole way through it. Thank you Susan! Your garden looks luvlee!!

  81. Colleen says:

    Thank you for my Spring gift!! We love all the same things, animals, flowers, salt air, nature, parades, kids, tea and of course an amazing dessert!! You were my Mom’s favorite so your art always brings sweet memories while I read. Working on planning 2 weddings in our family, my son and daughter!! Thinking daughter’s shower will have a “road trip” theme as she and her fiancé meet at college in Newport, RI and then had a long distance romance for many years. He once drove over 12 hours from his home in Long Island to join our family vacation in Falmouth. (My first thought he might be “the one.”)Their wedding is not til fall ’20 so plenty of time to gather inspiration. your blog will be a constant. Enjoy every spring minute!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I love being “part of your family!” What fun, two weddings! You will be very busy! Thank you Colleen!

  82. Paivi Shaw says:

    Hello and thanks for a lovely letter again. Last September I had the opportunity to visit Martha’s Vineyard all the way from Finland and searched the shops high and low to try to find ANYTHING of your products/books. No luck😢 And now you post about the shop!! My husband saw the look on my face: “We have to go back”😂😂

    • sbranch says:

      LOL! I’m so sorry! All that way! This is what was driving me crazy . . . there wasn’t one place to find things. The bookstores ran out of books and calendars and forgot to restock. No one had my cups . . . it drove me crazy since this is my hometown! YES! You’ll have to come back!

  83. Lori Hamilton says:

    Thank you, dear Susan, for your “normal” blog. I do so love finding that you’ve written us again about whatever it is you’re doing/feeling/seeing/eating! I love normal life – it’s a gift that we don’t always cherish like we should. My friend, sister and I keep trying to get to Martha’s Vineyard and visit the shops and historic places but other things get in the way……like children moving and needing our help or (yay!!) new grand babies being born, but we’ll get there someday! I did find one of your “Days” books online at Thriftbooks.com and there were only two weeks that had entries written in. They were by a young woman who had just found out she was pregnant. I have no idea who it was but I like that tiny glimpse into someone’s life at such a hopeful time.
    Take care!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s sweet! I hope you make it someday, but all those lovely events that stop you, they’re wonderful too!

  84. Linda W. says:

    I love the fact the school marches to the sea in rememberance of all who served and lost thier life. Wow is alll I can say. I wish more schools truely did an event simular to this in thier own area. We need to reflect on all that was good and honest.

    • sbranch says:

      We do. Maybe kids ARE doing it. We wouldn’t know if we didn’t live on this street . . . this little event isn’t publicized, there aren’t any crowds that come to watch, they just DO it.

  85. When I see a new blog notification for “Susan Branch” pop up in my email, my heart does a leap! But I don’t rush to it right away. I wait. I anticipate. In the back of my mind, I know its there and its something I am so happy about but I want to be able to sit and read it in its entirety and not be interrupted.

    So was I surprised to see my pup, Buttercup, on the pages! She DOES NOT like to have her picture taken so I was bribing her with pupperoni in that photo. She IS food motivated. 😀

    Every year, my youngest daughter makes a little water color painting of Buttercup for my birthday and Mother’s Day. So I’ll have to post them on Twitter and Instagram. Buttercup’s ears are of the lightest pink. She’s darling but always on patrol and patrolling is serious business. 😀

    I love my Susan Branch cups and was so happy to have a royal corgi featured on them! My SB cups brighten my mornings, my days, and visits with friends (I do share them!)

    Thank you for the shout-out and thank you so much for taking the time to be such a great story-teller. The world definitely needs more charm and stories and love and I really appreciate it!

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Sharrie! Buttercup, the perfect name. Someone else on twitter has a corgi named Herbert! They should get together! Thank you for being here! xoxoxo

  86. Kate says:

    Oh, those wonderful cakes. Glad there are creative girls who teach us less than creative girls how to make beautiful things. I think the children’s march to the sea is just wonderful and how blessed you are to be right on their route. And your clematis! Do you feed it fertilizer to make it so prolific? Mine does not climb like yours does. Wanted you to know the two wisteria seeds you gave us at one of your book signings have grown into big wisteria vines and we had a mass of flowers on one of them this Spring. Thank you, thank you! Have a lovely day!

    • sbranch says:

      How great the wisteria seeds bloomed for you! Makes me happy to hear that! That clematis likes tomato fertilizer, just before it blooms, and then one time after. Really easy. And you don’t cut these early varieties back. You just leave it to go. The roots must be in shade, while the tops need sun. There are lots of different varieties, mine is the early, a montana rubens. xoxo

  87. Christine says:

    Here’s an easy answer to the squirrel problem. My mom was having the same issue a few years ago, and ordered some kind of thing which was supposed to keep the squirrels away. It worked, but something happened to it and she needed a new one. They were a bit expensive so she took it apart to see what was inside and found it was filled with cat hair! So she now saves the cat hair she cleans from her chairs, puts it on her bird feeders, and the squirrels stay away. Easy and free! Hope this works for you. I know you have access to cat hair. : )

  88. Tammie says:

    To keep squirrels from eating from my bird feeders, I buy bird seed that is seasoned with hot pepper. The birds love it, but the squirrels don’t!

  89. Alisa says:

    I posted the video of Pete DuPre on my FB page on Memorial Day. It was so sweet. Made me cry. Kudos to him for standing up there. I look everyday for a blog from you. They always make my day. We put peanuts on our fence for the squirrels. It’s so fun to watch. Our golden retriever loves staring at them too. My hubby and I sit outside on our back patio. And the squirrels see us and come running for peanuts. Have a beautiful spring.

  90. Deb says:

    I had so many things to say and immediately forgot them when I saw the sweet photo of Girl. It’s so crazy that I could miss her so much since we’ve never met but I miss her just the same. Those little ones worm their way into our hearts even through photos and stories.
    Literally laughed out loud when Jack said you are an idiot! 😀 (See, this is why I loved girl so much. A real person)
    Also laughed out loud at Joe’s abhorrence at wearing the same shirt as you 😀 You are cracking me up today! I need these good laughs and small chuckles. Makes me feel like the world is still going around in the right direction.

    Love to you, dear Susan.

  91. Inez Schlueter says:

    So glad to read your blog, look forward to hearing from you. I have to agree a garden notonly provides good fresh food, but I ,crazy as it seems, love working in the garden. Getting dirty hands, I never seem to wear gloves, I seem to lose time, and forget anything negative.I do everything that I can organic, and planted a bee/butterfly garden, and every year, it thrills me to stand among them as they buzz around. What wonder nature is, something so small, can do so much. Gotta love.And Jack looks great, what a cutie.

    • sbranch says:

      I agree with you . . . kept my garden small in order to keep enjoyment high and it worked! Not a chore, just a little creative endeavor! Thank you Inez!

  92. Eleanor K Hunzinger says:

    I absolutely loved seeing your peonies getting ready to bloom! I love them and we certainly cannot grow them in Arizona where I live! I’m fact I loved seeing all your cottage flowers! Just loved them all! Thanks for sharing! Kay H

    • sbranch says:

      Fun to see what grows in different parts of the country! I never saw lilac until I moved here . . . or wisteria either. Then again, Roses and Sweet Peas do so much better in my California garden, so there you go!

  93. Donna says:

    Hi, Susan!

    This was such a refreshing email! It’s so relaxing to me to make a cup of tea and just read about what’s new at your house. I feel like we’re friends having a conversation. I love when you write about your trips, of course, but I get inspired by your ideas and photos of everyday life at home. Keep on inspiring us!! Thank you!

  94. Jen Pen says:

    I will tell Robin you sent me when I am there July 24th!
    I have Lilies of the Valley on my kitchen sink windowsill as well!

  95. Emily says:

    I am SO happy I found a copy of “Girlfriends Forever” on Amazon, and I have that and “Isle of Dreams” winging to my door! Yay Susan books to read on my porch by my little herb garden! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Hooray! I’m always glad when my Girlfriends find the out of print books and rescue them! Happy porch-reading! xoxo

  96. jeanie says:

    I am just dying to get back to the island (and to the bookshop I would go!)

    It’s all lovely, the parade, the garden, the wonderful climatis. I have one that just started — I don’t know where it came from but I’m so excited!

    And I love all the fun food ideas. Your strawberries are so red! Mine are still white but coming along. It’s been cold in Michigan!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what I’m hearing! Sometimes we go from cool spring to deep summer in the wink of an eye . . . I’m hoping we take it slow this year!

  97. Dotty Reehling says:

    I realize that you may or may not see this. I was wondering if you have suggestions as to what to do and see in Cumbria. We are visiting friends in Shaw and Kirk Ella and then going to Cumbria for three nights before going to Scotland to see my castle…….lol…Castle Stalker (my maiden name) in Argyll.

    • sbranch says:

      Not sure if you read my book A Fine Romance, but the Lake Windermere area is very beautiful. I would go to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top, and see Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage ~ there is much to see there. You can go to a farm and watch the dogs and shepherd work the sheep. Have a WONDERFUL time.

  98. Lisa G. says:

    We also put a chair in the doorway for the kitties – they so enjoy it! Dolly is at the back door now, and has been there for hours.

  99. jan lane says:

    Oh my goodness, the watermelon cake looks so delicious and refreshing, and festive, and healthy. I definitely am going to give it a try. Friends are coming up next week and it looks like the perfect dessert to serve a retired cardiologist and retired nurse……….must make an impression of living healthy.

    Your garden is also so beautiful. We cannot have gardens here on the mountain, or we would have all sorts of unwanted visitors, even bears who have known to be able to open screen doors and consume entire cherry pies and the contents of a refrigerator as well………bottles of ketchup, jars of mayonnaise, cartons of milk, anything that tastes good. Which to bears, is everything they can get into.

    Winter left about a week ago and we had no spring. Just full on summer now.
    Drinking sun tea and salads are back on the menu.

    Thank you for keeping us all interested in “normal” life. Yours seems like quite a wonderful departure from normal. Enjoy your summer!

    • sbranch says:

      Your friends will be so impressed with your brilliantly healthy lifestyle! 🍉 Have fun . . . xoxoxo

  100. antonia lutz says:

    Love your pictures of food we have the same dishes

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