HAPPY Good Luck for JULY 💜

Rabbit-Rabbit my pretties. Happy Good Luck for July. MUSICA!

See that little spot of light? Guess what it is? It’s our first firefly of the season ~ last night, end of June, right on time for around here, and I got a picture! This is no easy feat! They do not respond when you say:I never saw a firefly until I moved to the island, and I bet there are lots of people who’ve never seen one either ~ so here you go! Your first firefly! Happy July! There were about 20 there last night, blinking and bobbing through the ivy and the lilacs in the darkest part of the garden.

I have a zillion photos of this garden now. Because, these days, half my time is spent staring at it, eyes tracking butterflies and birds flitting through. We didn’t have the yard sale, I’ll explain in a moment. More time for garden staring! You see why I nicknamed this garden “My Toy.” It’s painting with flowers! And every year, the painting changes. And if you are new to gardening, and you see this and it seems overwhelming and as if I know what I am doing, let me remind you, I know NOTHING. It is all hit and miss for me, I made a little garden, small, so I could take care of it myself and just put there what I like, and then I waited to see what Mother Nature would do with it. Anyone can do it. All questions can be answered so very easily, we have GOOGLE-genius to answer how deep to plant any sort of seed! Sticking a lettuce-start into soil is easy. If you want it, you can have it. And if you don’t want it, then you don’t have to have it!! It’s making your own homey world the way you like it. You can start small, a pot or two of herbs on the porch, in a window box, it can grow. A kitchen garden is a lovely addition to a homemade happy life.

See the little dish? The other day Joe made me a shelf for it. New for the painting this year!

See it on the corner post?

It’s for this guy ~ he’s a catbird. Lowely talks to him every morning in his own language, she calls, “Meow” and she says he comes to her, because she has treats. So now we’re both soaking handfuls of raisins in warm water (for about a half hour to soften and plump them), and putting dishes of them in our gardens. (P.S. There are small window bird-feeders you can get, so you can feed them and enjoy their antics even if you are living happily-ever-after in a garden-free environment! As Gladys Taber said, As long as I have a window, life is exciting!)

Now every day is raisin day!

Two bowls of raisin-treats, no waiting . . .

Doesn’t that look refreshing? No dirty birds around here. 

Only wet birds! We think he’s a Baltimore Oriole.

I love it when they come in droves and go upside down! I’m going to do this exact thing, soon as our seawater gets a little bit warmer. We’re going to walk early and wear bathing suits under our clothes, we’ll each bring a tiny towel to dry our feet after swimming. I’ll be big bird throwing water around, turning upside down, in a very big bird bath. I want to get salty! Let me just say, I am normally NOT a water person, have never been. But I’m determined to do this because it always feels SO good when I do, I think it’s GOOD for me, and I am remembering, life is short. I need a summer of swimming for my memory book. However, bathing suits, bah, humbug! Which reminds me . . .

I want to catch you up on our squirrel “problem” . . . as you know if you hang out on this blog, we’ve always loved watching them from our kitchen window, but this spring our feeders were inundated ⤴️, which made the birds, for the most part, give up and go away.😲

So, with good advice from our brilliant Girlfriends (you know who you are 💞) we invested (and I do mean invested) in these squirrel-proof bird feeders. And guess what? They work! See the round openings at the bottom?

They have little doors . . . and the weight of the squirrel closes them! He went from door to door . . .

And very quickly learned he’d been outwitted and gave up faster than I ever imagined he would.

🅰️nd so began the return of the birds. We filled one of our old feeders with safflower seed because squirrels don’t like it, that worked too, thank you very much ~ and the Cardinals seem to love it! Peaceable Kingdom has returned.

Love the little spot of sun on his head.

We kept one special nut feeder just for the squirrels and the bigger, more weighty birds.

So they are fat and happy, and we are happy, the birds are happy, and guess who else is happy? Someone new! 

This guy! You have never seen me post a picture like this, because in all my 37 years on this island, I have never seen a chipmunk!! I didn’t think we had them.

🅱️ut we obviously do!!! I was so excited, delighted, grabbing for the camera, calling Joe, when suddenly, I felt a shiver of fear . . . what fresh hell might this be, I thought, and I Googled Chipmunks to see if we should be happy and welcoming or if we should panic and katie-bar-the-door, and yes, I discovered that if they come in any sort of numbers, they can take out the foundation of your house!  But this was only one, and so very tiny and cute. How much damage could one little critter do? And I haven’t seen him since. If he comes back with friends, I may start to worry. But guess what, we have chipmunks on Martha’s Vineyard! More critters-in-the-garden handy tips:

More from the garden . . .

I go out and collect them all, the trumpet-tongued, the little and beloved.

For the ever-changing scene above the kitchen sink . . .

And this! My first sweetpea!One of my favorite cottage-garden flowers ~ my birth flower, too. They grow like wildfire in the garden at the California Studio, but NOT here. I decided to try again. So far I have one-and-a-half flowers, and if it doesn’t get too hot or too humid too soon, I might get another one! They have the most delicate fragrance, even more precious for being so rare. See? Just one little flower in a jar is all you need for happy kitchen puttering.🌺

The salads keep coming!

We just keep taking leaves from the outside . . . and so far they haven’t bolted. But we had to install our window air-conditioners a couple of days ago, July is here, and summer has begun for real. The lettuce will go, the tomatoes will turn red, and the blueberries on the road where we walk will ripen. We’ll walk home, wet and salty, and pick berries as we go. There is always something. It’s just a matter of time. 

Fresh garden lettuce is perfect for our delicious healthy whole-food eating scheme.

Yes, still at it. Probably for life since everything tastes so wonderful and I’m never hungry between meals anymore! Four or five (six or seven, had big bag buttered popcorn at the movies last night) more pounds and I will reach my goal weight! I wrote the whole “diet” down for my sister (it’s really not a diet) . . . maybe I should put it up here? It’s so simple. No calorie counting, no carb counting! You just can’t be in a hurry to get weight off . . . it will go, but it’s all about health!

Soon we will be making this delicious icy-cold gazpacho with our own home-grown tomatoes. Have you tried this recipe yet? SO good, vitamin heaven, crunchy and so good for you! It’s on page 39 of Heart of the Home, or HERE.And another of our favorites . . . A baked sweet potato prepared Asian-style, eat it for dinner and go to bed skinny . . . with all the flavor and good health in the world! It’s on page 85 of Heart of the Home (30th Anniversary edition) or you can see it HERE.

We’re also doing our part to provide massive amounts of clover for the bees! Some people think clover’s a weed! But the bees love it! And it smells wonderful. Looks like a wildflower garden.

So there were two main reasons we didn’t have our yard sale. This was one of them! It rained for the week before our planned event . . . the ground was soggy, setting up was impossible, the table legs would have sunk into the grass, plastic covers would have been flying in the wind. The day it was scheduled was interesting too, rain in the morning, sun around noon, wild wind and hail at 4 pm. Somebody was trying to tell us something. So we put it off until later in the summer . . . and here’s the even better reason:

Mas MUSICA! Ⓜ️y sister Shelly and her twins (Paden and Mason) finally got here . . . their first flight was canceled (they were told at the airport there were not enough planes!!! Had to take their suitcases and go HOME😩), arrived two days later than planned, and I thought, do I want to rush us into some sort of yard-sale craziness OR, shall we just play the whole time they’re here?

So this is Shelly and you can see what we decided! We had the BEST time.

We walked every day . . . the boys came too . . .

When they weren’t out clamming with Joe. The kids love nature and petty pets as much as we do. Jack substituted, in a pinch, for Lucy, their beloved weenie dog. When they left here they went to Durango, Colorado to spend a few weeks with their Uncle and cousins who love to fish in the piney-clean air of the high mountains.🌲 They work hard at school all year long and deserve every moment of it!

Joe makes the BEST stuffed clams!

The boys brought their art supplies and did lots of drawing and painting ~ this is Paden in the Peter Rabbit Room . . . art is what they do, it’s what they’ve always done . . .

. . . and they are so good at it! 

I’ve kept all the artwork they’ve sent me 🎨 . . . this was done by Paden a long time ago, but cute! It reminded me of him at the desk in the photo above.

Of course, Jack, drawn in 2015 when they were 12, but unsigned. Excellent likeness!

Paden did this wallpaper while he was here . . .

Mason did a pencil drawing of the rose in a vase on our table when we went to Edgartown for lunch.

Mason went over to Lowely’s for a pastel painting lesson and did this. So dear of her to take the time . . . The boys are both so talented.

And handy too, the perfect guests! This is Paden helping Joe do I-don’t-know-what on the roof.

We walked downtown after dinner . . .

Stopped for ice cream . . . (Mason, Joe, Paden)

Quiet and dark, about a block from the harbor . . .

In front of the Capawock . . .  Jaws plays here every Friday night during the summer! Silent films played here. It was the first theater on the Island. Generations sat in the dark screaming or crying, oohing and ahhhing, holding hands and falling in love. Just remember that when you come.

I love summer nights and street lights making shadows on old houses, candles on porches, creaking screen doors, the smell of neighborhood dinners.

The boys were so busy fishing, they would get themselves up at 5 am to go down to the harbor. (When I was 16 you could not have dragged me from the bed at that ungodly hour, especially not for fish!) So Shell (real name Michelle, but I call her Belle ~ she’s Mee-shell, ma belle, 🎶 somblay mon-kee bon tre bien on somble 🎵 ~ Beatles phonetic French ~ but to me, she’s Belle) and I had plenty of time to hang out and be sisters!

Went to lunch and took our books. Because it’s what we love. We each read the same paragraph about 100 times before we realized it was way too soon for books at lunch, and got on with the talking!

She taught the kids Arf and Arfy, how much fun is that!?! That makes three generations! Who war-fod har-fav thar-funk ar-fit? They were fluent! My mother would be thrilled! We could talk about EVERYTHING, and no one knew what we were saying but us! (Arf and Arfy: family language I wrote about in Fairy Tale Girl in case you think I have just gone off the rails.)

Shelly thinks Jack looks like “one of those people on the Titanic.” She means this:

She called him Jacques. Jacques with the boys is one of those photos that got away! Having waaay too much fun to “remember” to take photos!

But he was always there . . . right in the middle of everything, we look through photo albums, Jacques tries to lay on the books, he’s a very social kitty!

‘Twas a wonderful visit! When Joe and I go to California we have SO many people to see, in different towns ~ hours, or even states apart ~ and only a short amount of time ~ so we never get to just BE with them, the way we like, with lots of alone-time. But they had NO one to see here but us, no yard sale to do, nowhere to be, we got them all to ourselves for the entire time and it was perfect!Time flies, onto the ferry boat they went, Belle and I waving and waving goodbye, teary-eyed, they’re home safe and sound . . . and now here we are already, the first day of July! And I was just thinking you might need something to delicious to bring to a potluck? 

And this, the PERFECT potato salad . . . be sure to add the mayonnaise while the potatoes are still hot or warm, so it can melt in! That is the secret of this bowl-licking-good potato salad.

FYI, Look what I got! Our calendars are on the way! I just received my samples . . . which means they should all be delivered to the Studio soon! I think they turned out better than ever (note that Jack seems to agree, or something) . . . the color is beautiful and I love the paper ~ it’s soft and not shiny so it’s easy to write on! You’ll love them.

Our wonderful new cups are being manufactured in England even as we speak! Cups for a happy kitchen.

Time for me to go . . . I promise, I will say hello to the ocean for you, to the seagulls and the sun . . .

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! Never forget how unique and wonderful and special you are! Happy July! Sending all my love! XOXO

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398 Responses to HAPPY Good Luck for JULY 💜

  1. Terry says:

    I’d love to see your eating plan!

    I’ve just got back from the printers where I had several of your bookmarks laminated. I’ve worn out the original batch. Thank you so much for so generously sharing these. I think I might print some to “accidentally” leave in my library books before I return them.

  2. Bernie says:

    So…..I just came back, and the text was on a white background! I dont know what happened the first time I attempted to read this, but, yea! I can read it now!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Love your posts!! So happy and cheerful. They always brighten my day! Could you please post what “diet” you followed to lose weight? My friend and I are interested.
    Thank you so much!

  4. Danielle Hollingsworth says:

    The streets of Martha’s Vineyard remind me so much of the scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life” where George lassos the moon! So dreamy!!! I have to come visit!!

  5. Jan says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’m fairly new to the wonderful world of Susan Branch and loving every minute, so I just wanted to thank you for sharing your beautiful life and family with all of us!
    I first read Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams since visiting your beautiful island has always been at the top of my wishlist, and I LOVED your book! Next I read, and loved, my way thru A Fine Romance and gifted that to a dear young Anglophile friend of mine who also fell in love with your world and promptly introduced me to your beautiful, delicious cookbooks! I now have 4!! So you can see I’m making up for lost time : )
    I loved ‘meeting’ your beautiful sister (you look alike!) and her fine, talented sons! What a lovely family you have! And I always love seeing Joe and Jack, reading about your latest adventures and seeing the glorious pictures of your home and beautiful gardens. (I used to have gardens but now we live next door to a nature preserve and we have DEER! Enough said. So I enjoy my window boxes and numerous pots on our front porch and seeing the lovely deer with their spotted fawns in spring. (And MILLIONS of chipmunks!! Beware Lol!)
    Thank you again, Susan! I hope you and yours have a wonderful summer!

    • sbranch says:

      Nice to meet you Jan! Happy summer to you and thank you for Chipmunk warning, I’m taking it to heart. Still haven’t seen him since that day!!! But the fact that I did, after all these years . . . watching out!

  6. Noelle says:

    Oh please please share your new eating plan — delicious and healthy and weight-dropping too. And no carb counting. Wow! Just what I’ve been dreaming of!

  7. Pat R. says:

    What a fun time you had! Family can be so satisfying. Love your blogs. I feel like I have visited Martha’s Vineyard.

  8. Elaine Erhart from MO says:

    Loved every word and detail in this post. You look wonderful – healthy and happy! Yes please do give us your new eating plan. I could really use it!

  9. charlotte m. says:

    Love all your pictures. They just scream summer to me, even without captions. If you get a chance, you should google sweet pea blanket. A lovely lady who blogs from the UK does crochet and hundreds of her followers made lovely crochet blankets in her sweet pea pattern. The colors were what drew me in. They are so lovely. I never saw sweet peas before. She posted lots of photos of real sweet peas. Apparently they grow well in the UK. So glad you had such a lovely visit with your sis and her boys. Those boys know how to enjoy summer. Looking forward to the calendars.

  10. Mary Lou says:

    Good Morning! Question: You have an agapanthus in a pot in your beautiful garden. My favorite. Do you buy new every year or bring it in the house during the winter or just have your California family send you one? I live in Maryland and really hardly ever see them here.

    • sbranch says:

      They only started having them in our nurseries here this year . . . I’m from California where they are practically weeds! We will try to take it inside and see if it will live over the summer, but it’s totally worth having even if only for the summer!

      • Kayla Williams says:

        I adore ♥️ agapanthus and live in Zone 6 (Boston area). A big glazed ceramic pot of them lives happily on the deck from May-October and near a bright window in an unheated attic with very little water from November to April; it turned 10 years old this June and has more blooms than ever! Just watch the weather forecast; like hibiscus, they want indoor shelter when the nights hit 45 degrees F or below. Enjoy!

  11. Belen Boulger says:

    As always, love reading your slice of life on the island! Happy summer!

  12. VirginiaB says:

    Oh no! I just found your blog in my spam folder. How did that happen?? So glad I checked before emptying it.

    Your nephews are amazingly talented. That watercolor is stunning. Better than many things I’ve seen in galleries. Reminds me of Turner. I would buy a print if available.

    And yes, yes, yes to your opinion of fluorescent lights in fitting rooms, especially for bathing suits. Even at my best, it was a horrifying experience. I solved it by finding a brand that fits and I just order online every couple of years.

    Beware of chipmunks if the population rises. They LOVE our New England stone walls and foundations–critter condominiums. They eat the roots of perennials with their buddies the voles. They nest in your car a/c system–how they survive, I don’t know but it’s a common problem, the mechanic said. It’s happened to me twice. The a/c slows way down and I actually had acorns spit out at me from the dashboard vent!

    Your photo of the ‘man on the Titanic’ looks like David Suchet who plays Hercule Poirot so brilliantly. Is it Suchet? You will have to re-name Jacques, Hercule.

    We have catbirds too and a son named Eric. We have always thought their call sounded like ‘EHH-ric, EHH-ric’ so we call them the Eric-birds. 🙂

    So much to enjoy in your blog, sorry I commented on so many things!

    • sbranch says:

      So glad you found it! Yes, it is Suchet. . . we did think of that, but he is a Jack, through and through! Love hearing from you Virginia! xoxo

  13. Coral King says:

    That has to be my favourite blog of all time. The birds are so gorgeous. How I wish we got cardinals here.
    Your garden a joy and Masons rose drawing a real beauty.
    Thank you so much for posting. 😍

    • sbranch says:

      I was shocked the first time I saw a Cardinal … coming from the coast of California, I never saw one either. I like waiting until I was grown up to see them, I still think they are a miracle!

  14. Margaret says:

    “What fresh hell might this be?” sounds right out of Shakespeare and gave me the giggles! We’ll keep our fingers crossed it wasn’t a scout 🤞. Thank you, Susan, for another wonderfully uplifting and informative post.

    • sbranch says:

      Have to give credit where it is due, and fresh hell, where I heard it, was from Dorothy Parker…but she MAY have gotten it from Shakespeare!!! Does sound right!

  15. Naomi A Jones says:

    Dilemma this year in choosing which wall calendar to hang in the kitchen!!

    Your nephews are so talented for their age! How wonderful!

    Also, yes, would love to know the details of your eating plan. I actually just started eating Mediterranean Diet style because my gastro specialist told me to do it! It is basically heavy on the veg and fruits, like on the meat. It has been personally helpful for me. My favorite thing to eat so far is tomatoes and cucumbers chopped into cubes, then sprinkle feta and black pepper over it. Delish! Top with one olive and you are done.

    I hope you have a lovely summer. Thanks for sharing your life with us and I must say, you look like you have lost weight! I know sometimes we feel it in our pants but the effect is so gradual, we don’t notice it in our faces. Your face looks different – more youthful.

    Fond regards, Naomi Jones

    • sbranch says:

      Recipe sounds wonderful . . . specially for the fresh tomatoes out there ripening on the vine!

  16. Mary Large says:

    The picture of Jack looks like a Picasso!
    Sweet peas, my grandfather all brought my mom a big bunch every year. Love them.

  17. Anne Weadon says:

    Dear, sweet Susan. I know your sister as well as I know my own, and I’ve loved Gladys Taber since I was 12 years old. To me, she is still alive. And Jack!

  18. Tami says:

    I have been reading about your “diet” and it sounds delicious! What a great way to lose weight. Yes, please post it. Thanks!

  19. Marilyn Denler says:

    Happy July 4th 🇺🇸🇺🇸! I’m a newer member to your charming blog and it’s such a nice place to be! Your garden is beautiful and I’m wondering if you could tell me the name of the petite yellow flowers that you have in several spots. Years ago a dear older lady gave the exact same flower to me to plant in my garden. She called it a peony. I had peonies and I have a fern peony that was my mother’s, and these yellow flowers don’t look like peonies to me. I’ve never been able to find out their name and would love to know what they are. They have moved with us several times and really spread out. Jacques is a handsome cat and reminds me of my little cat Munchkin who was by my side when I went through surgery and chemo for pancreatic cancer almost 10 yrs ago. Thank you for an uplifting time reading and looking at yours and your nephews art and the beautiful photos. Have a great summer!

    • sbranch says:

      Hello Marilyn, nice to meet you! The yellow flowers are Coreopsis verticillata Zagreb ~ Threadleaf Coreopsis, Tickseed ~ they reseed themselves EVERYWHERE! But very perky in the garden! Happy summer to you and yours!

  20. Beth from Iowa says:

    I know others have already suggested this but – another vote for a book about your diet – a “healthy lifestyles” book – I for one would definitely buy it!!!!

    In our “heart of hearts” I know most of us know what keeps us happy and healthy but then that late night snack just looks so good – we all need inspiration to stay on the right track.

    Also thanks for sharing your super cute family – I bet people see your sister and think – could that be Susan? Take care and have a wonderful 4th of July😘!

  21. Dd says:

    Please post that wonderful diet soon for all yourvGF!

  22. Lori says:

    always such a fun read……
    ..loved i… could we have the recipe for the best stuffed clams….

  23. Jamie B says:

    Yeah please share your diet plan!! Love your blog!

  24. Karen says:

    Yummy, summery, fluttery blog….always love reading and gawking at photos and carried away by Musica! Happy 4th to all.

  25. Gale Jourdet says:

    All wonderful…always wonderful…and loved all the pictures of your sister and family.If you are going to stay on this wellness diet for the rest of your life, it has to be good! Yes! Please write it out for us. I for one, and probably one among many of your readers, need something written in black and white. Spell it out and I can choose so much more easily.
    Thank you Susan Branch…..you are one of my heros.
    (Just so you know….)

  26. Nancy says:

    We would love to read about your healthy eating too please! We are always on Pinterest looking for healthy inspiration, but find your words and pictures much more beneficial to. Happy 4th of July! 😘

  27. Debbie Westerfield says:

    Happy Fourth of July, Susan! I wanted to let you know that I used your potato salad recipe today for the first time and it was so Yummy!

  28. Sara J. Harrison says:

    Your blogs are just WONDERFUL! I just love seeing all your beautiful flowers , Jack, your lovely sister & family & of course the wild critters. Your artwork makes my heart sing & I take great pleasure in drinking teas from your mugs & looking at your calendars. I too spend my summers in my garden, front & back are all garden, lots of tame & wild plants & I too feed the birds, squirrels, skunks & chipmunks here in Southern Ontario, I have 2 kitties, Cheddar & Sammy & they love to be out in the garden too observing nature. Your Jack is a cutie! Hope your summer continues to be a wonder in your garden!

  29. Amy from Wisconsin says:

    Hello Susan,
    Happy 4th of July!
    Thank you for another beautiful post on everyday life and simple pleasures!
    I truly enjoy every single picture and your inspiration. Speaking of inspiration please put me down as a YES on posting your “diet” plan! Menopause hit me at 58 (a bit late) and has raised a huge “ruckus” with my body, including my backside. Eeeek! I don’t want to see the age of 60 in 2020 with 2 of me and still hungry!!
    XO Amy

  30. K. says:

    Lovely garden, lovely family. Walks on summer nights are the best. But I hate to tell you that chipmunks are not good news. Where there’s one, there’s usually a colony. They do lots of damage, especially to the exterior of your house. We’re finally chipmunk free but it took years.

  31. Jan J says:

    So glad you could spend time together with family …they are precious. What wonderful boys! Thank you for your wonderfully uplifting blog…and new vases are so sweet.❤️

  32. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    We saw the first firefly of the season too! Let me backtrack. Every year (this was the 32nd annual) our lake (we live in a village that surrounds a lake) celebrates Tiki Night on July 3rd. We line the lake with tiki torches (10 ft apart) and light them at dusk. Everyone either jumps on their boats, or lines up chairs along the water’s edge to watch the fireworks at 10PM. We hire a company to set off a massive fireworks display launched from barges in the center of the lake. Statistics – they estimate 400 boats and 10,000 people watching! (small population, but that shows how many parties are going on! We had 20 at our house alone) Big event. The whole family came for BBQ prior, then run to the pontoon and get out there! My 2-yr old granddaughter actually slept through the fireworks! I cannot imagine. We were so close that all the ashes were falling on our faces as we laid back on the seats to look straight up to watch the show. Anyway, after the show (and you cannot imagine the crazy boat traffic jam trying to get back home in the pitch dark) walking back up to the house, someone cried out: a firefly! no, can’t be, too early, but wait! there it is! we all saw it. Only one, but still. I love trying to catch them and watch them glow in my hand. Can’t wait until there are 100s blinking in the night.

    • sbranch says:

      Great fourth of July story Barbara, sounds so neighborly and “family” as the Fourth should be!

  33. Debra sewell says:

    Beautiful post. So summery. Glad beautiful sister could visit and soak up the new england sea air. Wow how did those nephews growup so fast..and nice and tall. Enjoy uh our summer on the island.

    Happy Julu

  34. Christine D says:

    As always Susan you’re posts make my heart hopefully and light and happy!!

  35. Lori Hamilton says:

    Thank you again, dear Susan, for a lovely blog to “escape” into! I have a bird feeder this year for the first time and love it. I’ve also got a small flower bed but need to do some research to see what draws butterflies and/or hummingbirds.
    I still love summer but it’s so hot and dry here I find myself looking forward to fall……must be getting, ahem, more “mature.”
    You know we’d all love to come to your yard sale and if it wasn’t for you to have to ship everything I’d say have it online! I’d sure do some shopping.
    Happy fifth of July!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that shipping is the entire problem! Gets worse all the time! I really would do it if it wasn’t for that. You are so welcome Lori, happy to have you here!

      • Donna Fleishman says:

        Susan, when you postponed the yard sale, I went shopping at your online store…lol…I bought the circle vase, the rooster salt and pepper shakers, and The Williard which came in the mail at different times. Lots of fun! I ordered the Martha’s Vineyard Mug and the English Countryside Calendar and can’t wait for those to arrive. I still do hope you have the yard sale as I would love to visit you and this beautiful island. I tell all my friends about how much fun your blog is. xoxo Donna

  36. Rachel P says:

    I want to make a suggestion to you, check out Lands End, they sell bathing suit t shirts (short and long sleeve) and shorts that are awesome! I can walk the beach in them, go for a swim in them, get out and walk some more and they dry in a few minutes! I love them.

  37. Amy from Wisconsin says:

    Hello Susan-
    Loved your beautiful post on everyday life, family and Summer!
    Please put me down as another vote for your “diet plan”!
    At 58 I finally went through menopause and as I am heading towards 60 (next April) I feel like I have two of me….
    I have tried the recipes you have posted since January and they are delicious-even the Watermelon “Cake” for Father’s Day-Yum!
    Grateful as always for your beautiful inspiration.
    Amy from Wisconsin

  38. Amy from Wisconsin says:

    Hello Susan-
    Loved your beautiful post on everyday life, family and Summer!
    Please put me down as another vote for your “diet plan”!
    At 58 I finally went through menopause and as I am heading towards 60 (next April) I feel like I have two of me….
    I have tried the recipes you have posted since January and they are delicious-even the Watermelon “Cake” for Father’s Day-Yum!
    Grateful as always for your beautiful inspiration.
    Amy from Wisconsin

    • sbranch says:

      You made a watermelon cake! Did everyone oooh and aaaah? Perfect whimsey along with perfect health! xoxo Thank you Amy!

  39. Judy Peters says:

    Please share your healthy eating plan. So many of your admirers will benefit.
    Thank you so much, Judy from Arizona

  40. Cheryl says:

    I love, love, love, love your blog! Did I tell you I LOVE YOUR BLOG??? But with so very many comments I don’t know if you will see this. I love every photo and every description. What a beautiful and talented lady you are.

  41. Carol Leatherman says:

    Please share your eating plan! All the girlfriends want to be healthy too – and as you do, we all wish to do –
    Aloha –

  42. How wonderful that you had this lovely visit with your sister and nephews. It looks like everyone had a grand time. Time spent with family is aways just the best! My oldest daughter and son are coming over here to the UK to visit us in October and I can’t wait. I have not seen them in six years! We are going to have a ball, weather be damned! It will be so nice. I love seeing all the photos of your garden visitors. I have never seen (or heard) a cat bird. I had to look it up on YouTube and was amazed. How very wonderful!! We basically only get sparrows at our very urban bird feeders, no squirrels to entertain us. We do get the occasional blackbird and plenty of starlings. We also have a resident pair of wood pigeons that are lovely and fat. When we lived in Brenchley down in Kent, we had tons of different birds, but that is the difference between living surrounded by Orchards and being surrounded by terraced houses. I am really “digging” Joe’s clams (every pun intended). LOL could not resist. Happy July! “The summer looks out from her brazen tower, through the flashing bars of July.” ~Francis Thompson

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful!! Six years is too long, I’m sure you will have a fabulous time!!!! I’m excited for you Marie! Happy July! And happy getting ready for “the kids!” xoxo

  43. Would love to see the eating plan! You and your sister look quite a bit alike! Your nephews are so talented with their drawings and paintings. So happy for your great visit with them.

  44. Paulette says:

    Hello Susan! Need to know more about your healthy eating plan. Can you post it on your blog? Thanks!

  45. Teresa Goodfellow says:

    I liked our new girlfriend, Jan’s, comment “The wonderful world of Susan Branch” – yes!! It is a world that I am aware of daily through SB books, the cup of the day, your blog, and it balances with my reality perfectly. It’s a breath of fresh air when I need a lift. Martha’s Vineyard has been on my bucket list for over 30 years, right after I purchased your first cookbook and I fell madly in love with your wonderful world that you share through your paintbrush and pen. Your post was lovely today (and always). Such a warm and wonderful slow-down-time with your beautiful family. Exponentially nice. I love your summer goal “Get in the water!” I am of Portuguese descent so let’s just say we are a hairy people. My sister said aptly years ago, “With us, swimming is not a spontaneous sport!” But now that I’m older, who cares if the legs need attention?! If you’re in the water, no one can see them! And then I stumbled on Anne Lamott’s writing (fabulous writer, if you don’t know her!). And here is an Anne Lamott quote: “Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” Is that fabulous???!! So, yes, LET’S ALL GET IN THE WATER!!! Love to you, too, Susan and all that you inspire in us! XXO

  46. Tawni Urrutia says:

    Dear Sweet Susan,
    It’s been such a treat to have so many charming posts. I just love the posts about your everyday(super charming) life. The house, the garden, the creatures that stir in both. You inspire me to celebrate all the daily blessings big and small. You are so generous with your time, heart full of gratitude to you!
    Tawni Urrutia in Lodi, Ca
    PS I still have sweet peas in my garden! Never have I had them in July!

  47. Laurie Nico’s mom says:

    We wait all year to make your gazpacho & potatoes salad. Yum! Would also love to see your eating plan. You look great in these pix with your sister. Her sons are cutie patouties! But don’t tell them I said so!
    We have been making a savoury granola to top salads that we really like. For once I’d like to share a recipe with you for a change! Here goes:
    1 cup oats
    1/2 cup pistachios
    1/2 cup pepitas
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds
    1/4 cup sesame seeds
    1 tsp coarse sea salt
    1/2 tsp cayenne
    Good grind of pepper
    1/4 cup oil
    1/4 cup maple syrup
    Whisk oil & syrup together. Pour over all above. Combine. Bake @ 350F for 25 – 30 minutes.
    We like to add your Spiced Pecans to the salad as well. Hope you like it.
    Hugs to all.

  48. Cindy Garland says:

    yes, pls post what you gave to your sister for eating plan or send to my email. thanks so much for your uplifting nature!!

  49. Holly W Norton says:

    She looks like your twin! Hooray for family.

  50. Deborah Toth says:

    Dear Susan,

    Loved this summer-y post. Makes me remember not to waste a minute of it. I’m hosting a going away party for an old friend this week and I will be making some of your tried and true summer recipes. You can never go wrong with what’s in season. Corn peaches and tomatoes have been fabulous already this year. I don’t know how much access you have to the current movies on the island,but last night we saw the movie Yesterday, and wanted to recommend. It was wonderful, heartwarming and made me think that you and the girlfriends out there would really enjoy it. The perfect antidote to these somewhat crazy, cynical times. I hope you get a chance to see it.

  51. Fran says:

    Very much enjoy reading your delightful and splendid posts! You obviously devote so much effort and time into each blog, which is evidenced by the depth, detail and length of the exceptional and informative content. Life is certainly charming and fulfilling on Martha’s Vineyard and especially fascinating and captivating on your extensive travel journeys.

  52. Fran L. says:

    Very much enjoy reading your delightful and splendid posts! You obviously devote so much effort and time into each blog, which is evidenced by the depth, detail and length of the exceptional and informative content. Life is certainly charming and fulfilling on Martha’s Vineyard and especially fascinating and captivating on your extensive travel journeys.

  53. Maria says:

    Susan I am rereading “Isle of Dreams” this summer, it is my favorite of the trilogy. Since it has been a few years since the first reading, this time it is like catching up with an old friend and you forgot how much you enjoyed their company. (So glad it has a ribbon bookmark so I can take the jacket off. Little things…😎)
    Btw, not sure which of your books references it, but I grew up on Claire Avenue too. But in New Rochelle, NY
    Have a wonderful summer..☀️🐳

  54. Karen Baron says:

    Your sister looks so much like you and the twins artwork is fantastic! That rose!! Clearly they inherited the same gene Aunt Sue has!! 🖌

  55. Marsha Hill says:

    I do so love reading your posts and the cheerful notes people send back to you.
    Why, you are our Neighbor Dorothy! I recently read Fanny Flagg’s book Standing in the Rainbow. As a down to earth radio celebrity
    she connects with women through decades of her show.
    Please give it a read and keep writing to us, Neighbor Susan!!!

  56. Angela S Crawley says:

    Nicely one. I think I will go to the florist at my grocery store and grab some pretty flowers. NOTHING grows in AZ so store bought it is. Thanks for the inspiration.

  57. Care Woodard says:

    Happiest Summer you are having with family! I might have been the one to make it rain on your tag sale! OOPS! The new generation (daughters) of Susan Branch fans were so excited to think we three would go to MV for a Mother -daughter weekend for your tag sale! Let us know when you think you will have it! Snow flake girl said I could scream here in our kitchen but I am NOT to scream when I see you! So we will NOT scare you!
    Just home from the most beautiful trip to Sintra, Portugal. Wonderful and magical story; My husband’s dear Aunt Joan bought a tiny cottage there in the mountains looking down over the coast in the 70s. The air smells of eucalyptus! Heaven! She sent us there on our honeymoon. 6 years ago, she passed away, became an angel and our patron saint of courage, adventure, travel and friendship. She left us the cottage; we named it Casa Joana and had the name mounted in blue and white tile on to the bright blue gate. We have been sharing it with as many friends and family as we can! Were your ears ringing this year? We brought EIGHT people with us ..only 2 could stay with us, the 6 rented a big house with a pool a short walk across the cobble stone road! There are Agapanthus there in my garden and around every corner, beauty to melt my heart! Any way, to keep straight all the things and restaurants we wanted to show them, I ordered your mini pocket calendar and it was PERFECT. It kept me organized as tour guide and it lead to lots of sharing of your recipes! In Portugal!
    It is good good good to be home!
    Let us know the date for the tag sale!!

  58. Susan says:

    I finally got around to reading this post and it was wonderful & fun! Thank you for sharing some of your family time and all of that lovely nature.
    Enjoy your ocean swims!

  59. Mary Lorenz says:

    Susan, you are such an inspiration! You probably hear that all the time, but I wanted you to hear it from me. Thank you for creating a bit of bliss in my world…mary

  60. Barbara Murray says:

    Time for Joe to start a Blog isn’t it? Would love to hear and see his 2 cents, from a guy’s perspective, and get comments from some men. Equality for all.

  61. Debra Eastridge says:

    Well, what a joy to read this latest post after returning from a week on the Queen Mary 2. A wonderful time was had by my husband and me! Yes, please, do post your eating plan! I am not into the counting, tracking, etc. I could use the healthy eating tips! Thank you!

  62. Martha Rainville says:

    Yes, please – a copy of your “diet’ as requested by so many of your friends! You and your sister look so much alike, it’s almost uncanny. Alas, I have no siblings! You are blessed to have sisters and brothers who share your childhood memories. What I would give for a sister!

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

    Hello Susan, Hello girlfriends. hope everyone had a fun 4th of July weekend. we sure did, and got a fun surprise yesterday… Ed found a domestic bunny wandering around on the back part of our property. we now have a bunny. guess I have to go find bunny supplies to take care of the bunny. anyone know what feed a bunny??? I know greens are a large part of their diet and veggies (there goes the veggie gardens) and I know they need some thing to chew or gnaw on to keep their teeth from over growing and salt licks for the minerals. and fresh litter for the cage to keep things clean and fresh and prevent sore little pawsies. and I know Ed has to get busy and build a hutch for the bunny and a have a pen so it can roam around outside during the day. like I haven’t got enough to do with the chickens and ducks right now and now a bunny… I don’t even know if its a boy or a girl and how do you tell??? anyone here ever raise a bunny??? need all the help I can get here. I never raised bunnies before and I sure want to get this bunny off to a good start. we found it just wandering around, I know we have some neighbors who are raising bunnies for meat but they say this isn’t one of their bunnies… funny thing a domestic bunny doesn’t wander far from home, on the other hand a wild one wanders all over. but this one is definitely a domestic bunny, I just have to figure what breed and sex and get some supplies for it today. this is going to be fun, wonder if bunnies and cats get along??? any and all help and advice is much appreciated.. thanks…… hugs…. 😀

  64. Francine Ramsey says:

    Hi Susan,
    I have been re-reading your trilogy, again, and last night I finished Martha’s Vineyard – Isle of Dreams. Whenever I read your wonderful books, I always come away inspired and mulling over a quote, photo or other tidbit that you might have shared. Last night, however, the tidbit that lodged itself subconsciously in my brain, revealed itself in a dream. I’ve only dreamed about you once before and that was when my Dad passed two years ago. In the dream you and I were seated in your kitchen and talking about our Dads over cups of tea. Last night’s dream was completely different. This time you had a rifle in your hand and you were chasing my sister and me determined to “git us”. We were terrified as we ran to get away, ducking down to avoid being even bigger targets. Thankfully, the dream ended there because I woke up. I was so upset and just couldn’t get my head around that “Susie got her gun” moment. As I lay there trying to fall back to sleep, it dawned on me when I remembered reading about your Brimfield excursion with Shelly. This was the time when you found a “treasure” in a rifle that you purchased and eventually mounted above the mantle at Holly Oak. When I read that part I laughed out loud picturing you walking the fields with your sister and giggling over the comments and new friends that you attracted. What a hoot that must have been for both of you! I’m looking forward to returning to Brimfield with my girlfriends again this September and when I do, I plan to share your story and my dream with them.

    I also want to add my two cents regarding chipmunks. We have too many to count here at our home in VT and because I can’t even begin to tell them apart, I call them all ”Chippy” when I talk to them. They are so cute but those little darlins’ have wreaked havoc with our 1841 antique home. One in particular managed to find its way into the house and under the kitchen sink where it chewed up the dishwasher water lines causing a flood and a major dishwasher malfunction. Imagine that!

    I have very much enjoyed your last two posts. I’m so glad that you had some family time with Shelly and your talented nephews. What great memories you created together!

    Best to you, Joe & Jack!


  65. Amylisa says:

    So many great things in this post Susan, I am sure I won’t remember all that I wanted to comment on. But the George Sand quote about the flowers definitely touched my heart. You might have heard of St. Therese of Lisieux…her nickname was The Little Flower. She wrote that ALL kinds of flowers and people are precious to God. We cannot all be grand and beautiful roses but the little flowers close to the ground gladden His eyes as they gather round His feet, and they are just as beautiful.
    Your nephews have inherited the Stewart talent for art!! 🙂 God bless all of you <3

  66. Debbie Boerger says:

    On Chipmunks…..I’m mad about the little guys. We must have 5 this season. I spend so much time sitting and breathing and observing, I can tell them apart. We give them a little pile of black oil sunflower seeds and watch as they stuff the little pouched cheeks full scurry down one of the many holes to their underground abodes. They store the seeds for the cold winters, as they do not completely hybernate. A favorite author, Hannah Holmes, fell in love with one while she was writing Backyard Safari. Great book, by the way. They are easily tamed, but they must remain outside of our house. Her little guy would come inside every day and jump, scramble upstairs, up on her desk and watch her type. She wrote that she loved hearing it’s tiny claws clicking on the stairs. Then one of he neighbor’s cats tore him limb from limb.
    When we were the only ones down on this road, we had no house cats roaming, killing birds by the hundreds, eating the little rabbits, leaving their little feet (none left), tiny voles, and of course the chipmunks. Then others moved in. They felt it was Cruel to keep a kitty in the house. How about letting the kittys be horribly killed by our resident fishers, foxes, cayotes and other predators? I love my neighbors, so I bite my tongue. One even suggested we not put out bird feeders….saying the feeders attracted the kitties!!!! The Very Reason we bought this little piece of heaven was the many species of trees, which attracted a large variety of birds and mammals. Tom and I spend time, almost every day, watching. Another excuse is that one should not feed the birds. I have emailed Audubon Society folks, ornathologists, and called a prof at U. of Maine Machias to ask if this is true. All, every single one, said the added food (in place of so much lost habitat) was a great help. One study done in England proved that one single pet cat kills hundreds of birds every few years. The things that work to keep them away from our feeders and bird baths are Cayenne pepper, and that Sour Apple spray from pet stores that folks use to keep dogs and cats off the furniture. (I know! Why would you deny your indoor cat the furniture? That’s where we can cuddle them!!!) Each to his own, but those of you who allow your cats outside. Please do the research. Birds are really struggling now. Chipmunks have never, ever damaged anything in the 23 years we’ve lived in this house.

    I’m done with venting….much love to all,
    Debbie in Maine…..until November

  67. Care Woodard says:

    I hope you are feeling well and wonderful. I’m not sure if it is my computer, you are living summer up in MV, or maybe you are under the weather, but I am sending you lots of love and an incoming tide of radiant good health and well being. You always send love and well being out to all of us so generously. I’ve been having to lay low a bit after our Portugal trip and have enjoyed most every moment, watering flowers when I can and so appreciating flannel sheets to heal a fever when I can’t. Sending love!

  68. Sheryl Kirk says:

    Dear Susan,
    For some reason this post reminded me of what I love and hold dear. I think it’s what a wonderful relationship you have with your Sis and the boys.

    Also, I have tried every diet in the books. I do eat much like you do, but please, please, write it out for all of us. I love you and admire you so much, I am anxiously awaiting your guidelines. Thank you in advance along with all the crew.

  69. Paula Johnson says:

    I completely relate to your joy in having Shelly and Mason and Payden all to yourselves, Susan! We love the family get togethers with all, but it is very satisfying to be a few days together with one family at a time, either in their home or ours or at some vacation location. The twins have grown up so much. They seem to still have a youthful, fresh, alive, pure look that some do not have at 16 years old~~very refreshing!

    As always, your garden tour and bird photos are a treat. You and Joe are both looking well! We, also have been eating more healthfully and as a consequence have lost weight. One huge help toward good health and weight loss is to cut out sugar. We had to cut out all sweeteners except stevia: agave, honey, maple syrup, etc. The one thing we have allowed in moderation is 72% or more dark chocolate. I do not crave sugar and am not tempted by the few desserts that I used to be tempted by. It is very freeing.

    Thank you, again, for this lovely BLOG and for being you!

    A big hug, Paula

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I have to say, those boys are throw backs. They are strong characters who really don’t conform to what we’ve come to believe are the norms for 16 year old boys . . . they don’t have or want tattoos, swearing makes them turn away, they just have an other-worldliness about them. Hope it lasts forever! Love hearing from you Paula! xoxo

  70. Tawni Urrutia says:

    Good morning Sweet Susan!
    I’m desperate to buy 2 of the Fall Pumpkin mugs! You’re sold out on your site, and I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to shops I could contact and see if they have any?
    I love all things SB, but the way you capture my favorite Autumn images sends my heart straight to the moon!🌙🎃🍂
    Enjoy your day!
    Tawni Urrutia in Lodi, Ca

  71. Deb says:

    I just received the Anniversary addition of your first cookbook. I am so excited to sit down and look through it. I feel like I was there with you as you wrote it (I have read the first two books of your trilogy). Thank you so much for sharing your life with us!

  72. Debbie Boerger says:

    Your family recipe for potato salad is exactly like the one we had. I still find times I just crave it, so I make it!! Creamy, yummy, right?

    I just finished canning 16 jars of strawberry jam. I haven’t been physically able to do it the last couple of years, and I feared I’m miss another year. There was so much spring rain, which extended into summer here in Maine. Only one local grower was able to open their fields for U-pick. Many lost half the crop, which just rotted. Tom and I went to the grocery yesterday. I looked at those ugly, half white strawberries grown who-knows-where-, shipped from California. I’m sure if allowed to ripen, they’d be fine, but ripe ones don’t ship well, sort of like peaches. I must have grumbled aloud, because a produce guy led me to the racks of just-delivered berries. They’d just arrived from Quebec, from fields right across the river from Fort Kent, Maine. That’s about as far North as you can get. This guy had gone to school there, and knew the growers. He said they carefully pick in the cool of the evenings, then load up and head South about 2 AM. I cross my heart and hope to “whatever”, I had absolutely no waste when prepping them. Each and every berry was deep red and soooo juicy. And VeryBerry, if you know what I mean. Most of those in the grocery taste like….well, nothing. I’ve sometimes wasted my time using them for jam, but they end up with just the sugar taste. I have some left over, so that will become strawberry/rhubarb pie…the first year our own rhubarb has produced enough to pick.

    It’s nap time. Wish I had Jack to snuggle with on the couch. Mr. Tom “threw his back out” washing the screens and plexiglass panels on the porch. Just right for him to retire to a friend’s to watch the British Open Golf. I have spent several nights at that town in Northern Ireland, Portrush. So beautiful, but a little disturbing in 1982, with armed British soldiers patrolling in troop carriers, barbed wire at the border, and helicopters buzzing along the coast. All business were locked. You had to ring the bell. They would look you over and decide you didn’t have a bomb before letting you in. I remember that we clamored over the Giant’s Causeway, and a castle ruin that lost its kitchen into the sea…along with the cooks. Sad. That was hundreds of years ago, and unless this Brexit mess stirs up the Troubles again, both the north and south of that green island will remain at peace.

    Thank you, Dear Lady, for this fabulous blog. Your water color of the loaf of bread is amazing. Don’t you sometimes look at a finished piece and think, “Wow, Did I really do that?” I felt that way with my drawing of berries a couple of years ago. It’s not being uppity, just grateful for the ability to create such beauty.

    I’ll be 74 on July 21st. 50 years ago, I watched the Eagle land on the Moon, on the 20th, with my boyfriend, who became my husband. We’ve sent messages of the happy, shared memory, and we manage to remain fond of each other. If it weren’t for his moving to Tampa, in 1970, for grad school, I’d have missed out on the humongous joy of being married to Tom, 32 years this coming November. It all worked out for the best!!!
    Oh, some neighbors just paddled into our little bay with some of their many grand kids. Must go greet them.

    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in a very Mellow Maine mood today

  73. Barbara Irvine says:

    I received my “A Year in the English Countryside” 2020 photo calendar today, and it is fabulous!! The photos are wonderful, and it’s a lovely preview of your book on your trip to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. I’m so looking forward to it!

    I would also appreciate your special diet information … I have a few pounds of butter around me that I’d like to take off!

    All the best to you, Joe, Jack and all the Girlfriends — I hope everyone is having a good summer!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Barbara, I’m so happy to hear you like the calendar! Thank you for telling me! Happy Summer!

  74. rj chiodini says:

    hi Susan…when you and belle went to lunch…sans boys…someone needs a bookmark…dog eared pages make me cringe!!!!!!!!! Stay cool…it is 87 degrees at 10:00 am…ugh!!!!! rj

  75. Inez Schlueter says:

    I just received my calendar, A Year in The English Countryside. I love it. I love the size, and of course the photos, I can actually write little notes on the days I need to. Wonderful.

  76. Shirley Graham says:

    Am late – for a very important date! I missed this blog because my computer refused to operate for awhile. You are so fortunate to have your sister. I know because I didn’t have one!! My brothers (3) are all gone now & miss them terribly. Your sister certainly looks like you & love both of your smiles. Flowers look so great too & love the little chipmunk. We had them in our garage at one time & they were even pulling a rope down a hole going under the floor of the garage! So cute though! Thanks again for your lovely blog!!

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