Hello my friends … First … deep breath, and a cup of something ~ go get it, I’ll wait. I’m no good without you anyway. I promise not say a thing of substance before you get back (and maybe never🤣, we shall see). Perhaps some fine olde MUSICA to send you on your way? MUSICAYou back? Okay, here we go . . . Ahhhhh, these bewitching late summer nights are what I live for. They are the thing that made me stay here forever. Doors and windows open, cool air blowing through, leaves beginning to drift, talking into the night accompanied by the songs of crickets, with bug buckets glowing . . . Know what a bug bucket is? It’s that ⬇️ … a big candle in a bucket that burns citronella to keep bugs away … we surround our chairs with them. 

Darkness falls streaking the sky in pink and lavender, bug buckets and twinkle lights lit . . . quiet voices in the night . . . making some summer souvenirs . . .💞

Stars shining bright above us🎵 . . . and for a while we forget the troubles of the world . . . and lose ourselves in the hearts, memories, and laughter of our friends . . .

You can’t solve all the world’s problems. Now go wash your hands and come to the table.  💖My Mom

So basically, that’s what we’ve been doing, coming to the table. Definitely a thing of substance, you can tell by the way the trees are leaning in to listen. We did it last night and we’re doing it tomorrow night. I feel like I’m trying to grab onto a speeding car! September being the car.🍂🍁🍂 

I’ve been wandering through my recipe books. We’re making Chili for tomorrow (p.78 in my Autumn book or right HERE), in fact it’s cooking on top of the stove right now. I’m sorry to all the other chili makers out there, but this recipe is the BEST in the world. Please give it a try. Deep, dark, and delicious. The other night we put fresh littleneck clams in our linguini, tossed a spoonful of pesto on the top of each dish … and served it with my dad’s delicious buttery garlic bread, so so so good, you can read about it HERE.

And of course my shadow hangs out in the kitchen while I’m cooking, he is always where I am. Next to me now, I reach to pet him, on your behalf, big round eyes look up ~ tiny mew! This is his birthday month! He’s almost ten! How can that BE? 

And this, because NOW is the time for juicy, sun-ripened garden tomatoes ~ pop them into a jar with basil, garlic, and olive oil, and then into the sun for a few hours. It’s one of my favorite summer recipes.

And corn? Have you had your allotted amount of fresh corn yet this summer? Now’s the time, those little kernels are popping off the cobs … and, do not forget this wonderful recipe for Corn Chowder … put it in a mug for a cool evening in the garden . . .

Joe’s homemade picnic tables turned out great … We had our first sit-down dinner for six since last winter! It’s been a dinner-drought during this DamPanic! And everyone was at least 6′ away!

So many memories under this arbor … not only ours, but for the people who lived here before us.

Especially the Bowditch family. Mr Bowditch built this arbor, Mrs. Bowditch named it the Teahouse of the August Moon . . . we love these people so much, I’ve told you before, they owned our house from 1949 to 1980 and left us so many gifts. Like their forever-foundation of rose arbors, creaky wooden floors, old trees, and a fireplace that can talk. They are gone but not forgotten.

“O’ thou who has given us so much, grant us one thing more, a grateful heart.” 💝 George Herbert

The other blessing of these summer nights . . . the beautiful moon we share with the whole world. But, this moon is not seeing the same thing everywhere it looks. As it drifts across America this year, it sees less and less twinkle lights and more and more hungry, isolated, and homeless people 💔, NOT enjoying linguini in Clam Sauce, wishing for a big bowl of corn chowder, longing for a breath of fresh air from a pure breeze over a clean moon, and no smoke, and no heat, no orange skies, and a peaceful end to this crazy year that Michelle, one of our girlfriends, described as “the new cuss word,” as in “I don’t give a 2020.” But we DO give a 2020, don’t we? I’m showing my gratitude, best I can, by donating an early Christmas present to Feed America and the Red Cross. And we can’t forget our darling animal friends who make our earth a brighter place to be. When humans are in trouble, animals are in more trouble. We can’t do everything, we can’t all be nurses or firefighters or teachers, or first responders, heroes all, but we can do something, don’t ever think a dollar doesn’t matter.💞 They need us, and we need them and . . .

So what else magic people . . . ?

This, me, painting for the (OMG) 2022 calendars. You know I did my first calendar in 1993? Almost 30 years of celebrating the days!  With a few time-offs for good behavior! But I love every moment of it. Writing out the words of distilled genius, painting these little letters . . .

Letters that go perfectly with now. So, dinner at the Teahouse of the August Moon requires tablecloths!  Which gives us this wonderful thing I wanted to share with you in case your dreamy fall-wind ration is wanting . . . here’s some of ours…


Laundry is the very best way to catch the wind . . . (Ah, but I may as well try . . .🎵)

First little leaves are floating out of the trees ~ this one got caught in a clothes pin!

Mmmmm, line-dried laundry . . . even folding it smells good.💓

For us lucky ones, these are lovely days of noticing the little things in life . . .💓

Good morning sunshine . . .☀️

What’s on the porch? Oooo, heavy … oh my!!! Could it be? Little heart flutter …

Yes! Home for Christmas has come in for a landing! The little baby is born. My first view of it. 💞 

Hello Baby! We think the rest of the books will arrive at the Studio tomorrow, or maybe Monday, but SOON… and then, off they go, to everyone who preordered, first come, first serve! 💝 With all my heart.💖

I should tell you, even though I do not like to say it, and I’m sure you do not want to hear it, but my precious mother went to heaven in April. I’m sorry. I’m one of those people who can’t talk about such things for a long time, it takes me a while to learn how to live with it if that’s even possible. But from the moment she went on hospice care, I began writing this Christmas story. I wrote all through late winter into spring. I was with her the entire time and she was with me. It was the perfect place to be. She’s the “Home” in Home for Christmas. I knew a lot of you had figured it out, and I was sure that when you read the new book you would ask, so I’m sharing it now, because in so many ways, you knew her too. She was in my right hand at the writing of every book, the hand connected to my heart that connected me to you. It’s her spirit of love you read on every page. Dearest person, mom of eight, wise beyond her years. She said the simplest things, like, “You know the difference between right and wrong.” And she convinced me I did!

Patricia Louise Smith Stewart, a girl after my own heart.

 I immediately sat down and read the first book out of the box and made myself cry. You know I’m okay. My mom WANTED to go to heaven. It was the right thing at the right time. Thanking you ahead for all your kind thoughts. You don’t have to say a thing. Because we both already know.💞And because I have it now, guess who gets the next three copies from my box of Home for Christmas? Oh yeah, YOU! Let’s draw the names of our winners!! Our random number generator, the famously wicked and charming Vanna, named for another talented Vanna, is ready for the pick! I say, You go girl! And she does! Down, down, down, deep into thousands of names she dives, scissor-kicking to the bottom, crinkled slips of paper like from a fortune cookie flying through the air, each one has a name, and here she comes … her green eyes are sparkling with success as she hands me the three bits of paper, and back down she goes, into the melee, on her next quest: to find the winners of the cups! SO, let me see, I’ll give you the names and a bit of identifying something from their comments, so there won’t be any mixups … the winners for the Books are, drum roll please . . .  

Katie Craig! She’s one of our heroes, a teacher working very hard to make things right for her kids during Covid!👏🎉

Number two, is Karen Giordano! She wrote that my Autumn Book is her Labor Day tradition!👏 🎊

And last but not least, Susan Karasievich ~ she appreciates fairy tales!👏🎈

Kindred spirits, all!💞 Congratulations! I will send you an email soon and you can send me your address and what name I should write in your books and off they will go!

And Next? Three cups . . . fingers crossed, Girlfriends, I hope you win one of them!

And here we go: For the Bluebird cup . . . 

The winner is …. Marie from Chester, Oh! our girlfriend in England! Hi Marie! Looks like you’re going to surprise your sister! xoxo 💝

Next is the Santa cup . . . are you ready Linda Beck? You better be! (Perfect because she has been “coveting” cups!)💓

And very last (except we’ll do it again someday)… the winner for the Little Things cup . . . Here we go! It’s Amy from Wisconsin ~ Yay Amy! (she moved back to Wisconsin in 1979 and she’s been happy ever since)!!!🎉

So happy for you all! 👏 

Here’s the full-page ad I did for the Nov-Dec issue of Yankee Magazine ~ it tells more about Home for Christmas … look for it and a smaller version in Victoria Magazine!

I hope I’m going to see some of you in my magic mirror on September 20th, at 3:30 pm EST, for Sunday Tea with me and Titcomb’s Bookshop. It’ll be on Zoom, so easy if you haven’t tried it yet (believe me I don’t know what I’m doing either, but let’s not let that stop us!), you can Google “Youtube, how to do Zoom” and they will show you how. It’s going to be another BYOTea, just like today, except with zoom-a-vision … Go HERE to sign up.

 So what else might I have in my bag of tricks? Oh yes, because I heard you when you asked . . . here they are, Holiday Cooking Greeting Cards! You’ll see I write about my mom’s famous Snippy Doodle in the new book, so I thought you might like the recipe! And of course, who doesn’t love Cranberry Marmalade! Something to share! 

Ten cards with envelopes, and each package comes with a candy cane bookmark! For Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or for any old reason, because the more connection to each other, the better!!💞

This is inside Cranberry Marmalade . . .

And here’s Snippy Doodle.And here’s the back for both of them! A kiss across continents! Christmas Cards are coming soon!

And another good thing happened, the 3rd printing of Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams has finally arrived . . . in case you were looking for one… they are BACK! And FYI, just so you know, the new puzzle is right on schedule⏰ … they should be in at the end of October. Perfect timing!💓 And so, sweet people, off I go … Until next time . . .

If you can, 

Thank you for everything . . .💞 See you next time! I have an idea about the next post. Can’t wait!👏

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1,026 Responses to A THING of SUBSTANCE

  1. Jane says:

    I’m so sorry about your sadness of losing your dear Mother. My own dear Mother went to heaven in February this year, she was 94. She was ready as well. ♥️

  2. Sue Haugen says:

    Home for Christmas just arrived! Thank you so for such a precious gift. Even tho I am a few years older than you I felt like you were writing about our family! I feel blessed to have such wonderful memories. My Dad was in the military and we lived in Japan when t was 7-9 years old. We returned to the States just before Christmas and spent Christmas with my aunt snd uncle who had 7 kids. One of their presents to me was a Hopalong Cassidy outfit but after being in Japan for 2 years I did not know who Hopalong Cassidy was! They soon told me! The orange in each stocking and donuts are still favorite traditions! Thank you for all the happiness you bring into our lives.

  3. Carol Kennedy says:

    So very sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. My mother passed away a long time ago when I was in my 20’s. You are lucky to have had yours for so long. Mine has been with me, though, the whole time, tapping me on the shoulder often!! My thoughts and prayers are with you!!!

  4. Paula Clark says:

    You always write such lovely words. I have thought of you and your Mom for so long and sent loving thoughts your way…and as you said, I do know. Bless you, she will always be in your heart and the beautiful memories she filled you up with. Just ordered the Christmas book a few days ago, I so looking forward to it. Just knowing how much love and thoughtfulness you put in from your thoughts of your beautiful Mother make it even sweeter. XOXO

  5. Brenda Kaatman says:

    Dear Susan,
    So very sorry you lost your dear mom. Our moms are our best friends! My mom went to Heaven 14 years ago. It is so hard to go through grief and learn to go on living without those phone calls to mom, fun days shopping and going to lunch, etc. But God walks through with us and we can tell Him just how much we miss her and how much we hurt without her! Praying that God wraps you in His arms of love!
    Love, Brenda from St. Charles, MO

  6. Suzette Shoulders says:

    Oh , Susan, Sorry to hear about your sweet mom. ❤️ Give yourself lots of hugs, and get plenty from Joe; hugs help, I think. It was so nice to log on, hoping for a new blogpost ( I have never yet managed to sign up for this! NOT a techie! ) , and find this one. BLUE sky, oh, my! So wonderful to see that, and the stars at night. We are under such a horrible cover of heavy smoke just now in Oregon, and hoping for respite from the rains, due in a few days. Waiting to hear from friends and family about their homes and hoping things will be okay. Such a sad, scary time for so many. Love to you and all the girlfriends, Suzette in Bend, Oregon

    • sbranch says:

      I am praying for you Suzette, and your friends and family. What is happening out there is hard to believe. Stay safe, sending love.😘

  7. Therese says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Susan.
    Your tributes to your mother are wonderful and in sharing her with us we all get mothered anew. Something we need so desperately and that you do so well.
    Thank you!
    OMGoodness, could Cat get any cuter?
    These are some of my favorite photos of Jack.

    • sbranch says:

      He is one heck of a dreamy cat. He’s ten now, to that age when they get more loving, lets me hold him more and more … precious boy.

  8. Eileen says:

    I read Home For Christmas before bed last night. I cried throughout because of similar memories, but especially the end. Ha! I’m tearing up now, the next morning! This sweet book is EVERYTHING right now. Thank you for the time and work you put into it. It is so beautiful and is so YOU, emphasizing goodness, love, and kindness and that “it’s the little things” that matter. It wasn’t all tears though. I laughed out loud at the toothbrush story and every humorous tale you told. I won’t state them here in case it ruins it for anyone. I just wanted to tell you how much I love this book. So good!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I am squealing. You write a book, you’re all alone, you read it 50 hundred times, Joe yawns, I start to yawn, while I’m praying, and thinking, well, I did my best to tell it the way I remember it, and say what I want to say … and then you send it to be printed, and after that … it’s just a wing and a prayer. There’s no way to know. Until you, your words mean the world to me Eileen.

    • Debbie Piascik ~ Weedsport, NY says:

      Well, Sue, you can just keep on squealing and give yourself a hug because I, too, got your beautiful book yesterday! The design, the size of the book, the exquisite details in your artwork ~ I hugged it right out of the wrapping!
      But more than that, it is YOU that shines through. Your God-gifted talent to tell a story, the lovely quotes that you fit perfectly on every page, your loving way of pouring your heart out onto the paper. The story is touching, charming, hopeful, inspiring, and filled my heart with gratitude for precious memories. Knowing your depth of love for your parents and your family from the things you’ve shared with us, makes this beautiful story of yours now part of OURS.
      Your worries and your prayers were answered: You couldn’t have created a more loving, beautiful, meaningful tribute to your Mom and Dad and a treasure for all of US.
      Such gifts you have been given and you continue to GIVE.
      Love, love, love!!!

  9. Rene Foust says:

    saying good- bye to someone so very important is, I believe the most difficult thing we have to do. I am so sorry for your loss but so grateful to your mom for giving us you. I will keep you in my prayers and look forward to more of your wonderful paintings, books, blog posts and inspiration all the way around.

  10. Hello Dearies,

    I received my copy of Home for Christmas yesterday and read it all the way through before I went to sleep. It made me long for my grandparents, their home full of love, laughter, and great cooking, and each of my childhood Christmases spent with joy.
    I miss the family gathering around the piano and singing together in the evenings after dinner. I miss secretly poking my finger into the See’s chocolates to make sure I didn’t get the rum cremes. We always had oranges in the toes of our stockings too and a new toothbrush!
    I spent hours devouring the Sears and Penney’s catalogs each Autumn to plan my perfect dream play kitchen and beg Santa for some of it.
    Christmas was magical and your book brought that back for me. Thanks for putting it out into the world!
    Sending so much love, peace and joy!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank YOU Gabi, love your memories. We actually took a tiny BITE out of the bottom of the See’s candy and I would put it back if it didn’t have any nuts in it! (The box was kind of a family petrie dish before we were done!!!).😂 xoxoxo

  11. Andrea McVety says:

    I am so sad and sorry. She really was the Mom so many wish they had. I actually feel like we lost a dear friend. Her beautiful spirit and love for her family lives on with your stories and books. What a wonderful legacy. As your heart ❤️ hurts and heals, just know how many care for you and your family. May she Go with God.

  12. Janice Kirk says:

    Susan dear,

    How do you do?
    Your home is unbelievably charming while you entertain, garden, paint, cook, write, travel, create, take winsome photos and have time to hang out your linens. How many hires did you say?
    How do you?
    We understand you employ Kellee and Sheri in your CA office; just wonder about the working fairies on Martha’s Vineyard. We see Joe (💜!) up the ladder and doing projects, yet you, my dear lady, a septuagenarian and my (and everyone else’s) fantasy girl-friend! 😍… how do you keep up with your-self? It boggles any imagination. Would you please satisfying my/our curiosity?
    How do?
    We are awed by the light shining forth from the way you express your love to others. We feel it and long to be part of this alluring kindness and beauty. I read all the comments because of the way your friends write to you, and reread all your sweet replies. You go far above, beyond the call, even during a pandemic and your loss.

    With a grateful 💖, great respect, a warm hug and so much love,
    ~ Janice XO

    • sbranch says:

      Well, yes, Joe is the Main Man, but we also have a housekeeper that comes in for 2 hours each week, and she makes life MUCH easier and gives me the time to do what I love. And you ARE part of it, because that’s what we are here, kindred spirits, that lift each other up. I read them all too, because I love believing in a better world, and that’s what I read in every word. I hope that answered your questions. And thank you for the kind words Janice … Thank you for being here and XO right back to you!💖

  13. Kristen L. says:

    I’m so very sorry to hear about your mom. Your beautiful words made me cry and I can’t wait to purchase “Home For Christmas” for myself, my mom, and my girlfriends. XOXO

  14. Christie Levin says:

    Dear Sue, You are such a tender friend, weaving the foundational beauty of your home and your end-of-summer routines into a solid, warm tapestry for us that so we can wrap ourselves in your shared homelife treasures before you also share the sadness of saying goodbye to your darling mother. You know how we also love her and hold her dear, because she is your mother, and because ~ through your shared sweet memories ~ we have come love her for her wonderful self. Also, you know that many of us have also had to say goodbye to our own precious mothers, so you wrap your arms around us to soften our heartache. What a blessing of a daughter you are, what a blessing of a girlfriend. Our arms are around you, too. xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I definitely feel that Christie, I’m not sorry I finally spoke it out loud … your words, everyone’s words, are pure comfort. Thank you!❌⭕️

    • Charissa (tea tartan and tom on twitter) says:

      I wanted to say something too, but after I read this, Christie, I knew I couldn’t say it any better than that! I will just say that you said what was in my heart and my heart will sit with yours, Susan, on the days when grief is there. With no words just an arm around. Sending you lots of love and hugs. xo

    • Charissa (tea tartan and tom on twitter) says:

      I wrote something here about your mom last week, Susan. I don’t see it so I must hv done something wrong or maybe u are just pacing yourself with responses about your mom. In case it was my mistake, I just had said that I thought what Christie had said was beautiful and exactly what I would have wanted to say. My heart wanted so badly to give urs a hug and just sit with it for a while with an arm around. I just left u a review on b&n and hv been trying to review on Amazon, but it won’t accept reviews at this time it says. Your book was just darling and magical and transported me right back to my own family Christmases. You put such incredible details w your art and it was such a loving tribute to ur family that it made my heart swell. I could feel your wonderful mother on every page! You have another hit on your hands i am sure! Sending u love and admiration and thanks for all that you do. Xoxo

      • sbranch says:

        I did read that Charissa, so sweet and kind of you… I’ve been catching up with artwork I needed to do …. was letting comments go for a while, but today is a big reading day! You guys hug me all the time every day … the words left here have warmed my heart, I can’t begin to tell you. Feel so lucky and just LOVE our girlfriend-hood! Thank you!❌⭕️❌⭕️

  15. Inez Schlueter says:

    So sorry that your Mom has passed. No matter your age, we feel like children, when our parents leave to go home. And so, I cannot wait to get my Christmas Book, to enjoy with you, your memories .

  16. Gina Mahoney says:

    Dear Susan,
    As I read your blog yesterday I was in tears and so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear mom. When I got home, my copy of Home for Christmas was in the mailbox. I didn’t get to look at it until tonight. I didn’t plan on reading the whole book, but I did. As I read it and knowing that your mom had passed, it made the book even more special. I was crying and smiling at the same time. It is a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us, especially at a time when it may have been very difficult. I lost my mom 12 years ago this month, and when I hear of someone losing their mom, it brings all those feeling right back.

    Again, so sorry for your loss and thank you for all your wonderful work.

    • sbranch says:

      So sweet of you to tell me Gina … I have a feeling I’ll be just like you, feeling it again when it happens to a friend. Thank you for your kind words … sharing it with my Girlfriends was the best thing I could have ever done!💖

  17. Janet Senatore says:

    I just received my copy of Home for Christmas this afternoon and have already finished it. It was such a beautiful nostalgic reminder of Christmas past, much like my own childhood Christmases.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you in the Heaven going off your wonderful mom. Great moms are one of God’s most special gifts. I miss mine every day. A big hug is coming your way❤️

  18. Cassandra says:

    My thoughts and love are with you, Susan <3 So much to be thankful for… Lucky ones indeed. XO ~ Cassandra

  19. Candice in Ohio says:

    Dearest Susan, Many heartfelt thoughts go out to you, Joe and your extended families. I think about my Mother everyday. We just became Grandparents for the first time 3 weeks ago, to a gorgeous baby boy, named William, it will be Will for short. We are now Nanny and Popsie, this has been our “BEST” of 2020! He squeezes our hearts! The second best thing is I received my “Home for Christmas” book on Monday! Can’t wait to read it, I may read it out loud to baby Will! Love your dinners under the stars and hope that you enjoy many more! Take care, stay safe & well! Happy Fall! Candice xo

    • sbranch says:

      Congratulations Candice! Will! Nanny and Popsie, just wonderful for you all, a very special Christmas is on the way. Blessings on you all!💖

  20. Care Woodard says:

    Whoa. I have holy water tears in my eyes for the deep love and beauty you bring into the world. The beautiful, laughter filled, love you and your Mom share has inspired me throughout the years. You embody the way to live: Love to the depths of your soul and share it with your millions of kindred spirits. I have read everyone’s beautiful comments. Susan, you and all your girlfriends are luminous. Deepest peace that passes all understanding to us all

  21. Debbie Boerger says:

    Hope my last post wasn’t a Downer for you. My aim was to let FayE know that I appreciated how she imagined your mom asking her to stay for supper…and that you two set another place at your table. It was so real for me, and timely. I’m working on writing down all that my wonderful neighbors did for me in order to send it to Nell’s son. This plus all the many adventures we had, hilarious, some of them. Just having a girlfriend to lie in the grass with, checking the clouds for “pictures” of our heart throbs from movies or television.
    First load of apples in the kitchen. Big pot of sauce made from tomatoes given to us. We are having really high winds today, making our little shallow bay look like the ocean! A front passing, but we probably won’t get the rain we need. Keeping an eye on all the storms out in the Atlantic and thinking of you, Joe and that very debonaire (?) Jack on your Isle of Dreams.
    Love and Thanks,
    Debbie in gusty Maine

  22. Anthea C Milton says:

    In Heaven there will be no more pain, no tears, no illness, no being unable to walk or remember our families or lives. Thats what I hope for my parents, who have both passed on, and one day we will know if its true.
    Awaiting my Home for Christmas book and know I will cry through it, wanting a simpler life for my Grandchildren, not dominated by Hey Google for songs and now jokes, or lullabies when they are falling asleep, its a strange world. My daughter had her third in three years, a tiny boy after two tiny girls, just a few weeks ago. Born 5lb 12oz and in the NICU for his first week of life. Unable to have visitors in hospital, and only social distancing at home, and now with the fires unable to do even that, so half the family haven’t seen him. But thankful that he is a perfect little man and his sisters adore him, and I was able to look after them during the eight days they were in hospital and after.
    So I’m praying for comfort for those who have lost their loved ones, shelter for those that have lost homes and property, an awareness of the earth for those that take it for granted and misuse it, and a return to a simpler life,
    Thankyou for your posts that always lift me, ocassionally make me cry, but always make me appreciate that life is made up of small moments of happiness.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for your beautiful prayers Anthea … and congratulations on your new little man … I love how you said that! Small moments of happiness, and they are there if we look. xoxoxo

  23. Julie V. from Springfield, MO says:

    Susan – I am so sorry about your mom passing. I know that so much of the person you are today is because of her. When we loose a parent it kinda puts our world in a tilt that we never seem to recover from no matter how many years go by. I remember when your dear father passed in May 2016. You where on your book tour and I met you in St. Charles. Afterwards I told my husband that something must be wrong because there was a sadness in your eyes. I understand that sometimes we need to take a moment before sharing some things with each other. All of your girlfriends are here for you and we are sending our prayers and kind thoughts to you and your family.
    I am so looking forward to getting my puzzle – just got notice that it had shipped and then the Christmas book will be here soon too. Thanks for keeping us smiling and “Looking on the sunny side of life” through this DamPanic!
    Best to you, Joe and Mister Jack!

    • sbranch says:

      Very astute … but in a way, I think I always have a little bit of sadness in my eyes. I think it’s why Joe decided to love me and take care of me. Happy gene, but this world does make me cry sometimes. I see your other comment, so I know you got your book today! Hooray, very happy to see them going out to everyone, feels so good! Keep to the sunny side Julie! xoxoxo

  24. Julie V. from Springfield, MO says:

    I need to amend my comment sent a few minutes ago. Just went to the post office and lo and behold there was the Christmas book! I can’t decide whether to take a peek inside or wait until Christmas time!

  25. Karen McNamara says:

    Susan…I’m so very sorry for your profound loss. It truly is a pain like no other, because no other person on the face of the earth, loves you like your mother. I hope that you can take great comfort knowing how proud she was of you and all that you accomplished in life. I know that she was that little voice inside your head that said…C’mon girl, you can do this! She taught you well. Sending love your way. ❤️ ~karen mac

  26. Bev says:

    I am so sorry about your mom. I know what you mean about being ready to go – my mom was ready too at age 91. I think living is just too much effort.

    Every time I see one of your cut and pierced lampshades, I wonder if I made it. I live in Michigan but we did some big folk art shows in New England – including the Cape. Wouldn’t that be fun!

    • Caroline Woodard says:

      Dear Bev, Where do we find such beautiful lampshades now? I have an old navy blue one with dogwood flowers which needs to be replaced but I love it so much:) Caroline Woodard

  27. Joanne Condlin Lawson says:

    You make me smile! Thanks!

  28. Kari Haymond says:

    Dear Susan,

    My deepest condolences for the loss of your precious mom. I dread the day my mom is called home, although she has said many times she is ready. Having a good mama is truly one of God’s greatest gifts to us. So glad you have Joe, your siblings, your girlfriends and of course the Good Lord to wrap you in ❤️.
    My Home for Christmas books came yesterday so I plopped down on the couch and read every word. No way I was going to able to wait, even until bedtime. Ha! Thank you for the bookmark, too.
    So grateful for your beautiful soul. A big hug to you, Kari in Dripping Springs, Tx.

  29. Michele says:

    Susan, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. ❤️ Sending all the love, I can, from a little far away! We’ll be praying.

    Thank you for always sharing life with us. Always brightens my day.

  30. Betty Harney says:

    Honor her memory every day by being the loving, kind, happy, fun person you are. By doing so, your Mom will live forever.

    I feel that you believe this and you live it. Through you, she WILL live forever.

    Thinking of you. 🙏

  31. Valerie says:

    Dear Susan.
    My breath was taken away. I can understand you waiting to tell us.
    You have a wonderful way of drawing your readers into your stories, and we feel like we are apart of your family. Your parents, your siblings, your Joe, your kitties, your girlfriends and your adventures seem to belong to us too.
    We are all saddened. Please know we all care for you.

  32. Ruth B. says:

    Dear Susan,
    What a gift you have with your mother’s love! You have been so blessed! Sending you love, hugs, and prayers.
    Ruth Bollman (The Inklings from Ohio)

  33. Beth Ferraro says:

    Susan, no words, just sending 💟.

  34. Cindy Roberg says:

    My condolences about losing your sweet mom. She knows you love her, and she loves you.
    Not all of us can say that or even relate to loving parents. I did not have that, but hopefully raising my own children, gave me some love to hold on to.

    • sbranch says:

      I know not everyone had that, which is sad … some parents never realize how important they are to the little people in their lives. Even in my first book, in a time when homemaking, making a home, was beginning not to be treated like the AMAZING THING it actually is. Like how they had spent their lives didn’t matter. I wanted moms to know how IMPORTANT their job is, how they are the moon and the stars, how even the smallest thing makes such a difference in our lives. I thought they needed a thank you, I KNEW my mom needed a thank you. When you feel you are making a difference, you feel better about your life, and want to do more . . . I’m sure you gave your children what was lacking from your own parents.💝

  35. Judi says:

    Condolences on your Mom’s passing.

    I am so pleased your books are doing so well and, wow, hard to believe you are working on your 2022 calendar. I also can’t believe Jack is 10 … seems like yesterday when you brought that treasure home💕. As I, being four years older than you, can attest to the fact time speeds up as we age. Happy you have a “pod” of family/friends there you can gather with. Stay well dear friend. judi.

  36. Penny says:

    Susan I am so very for your loss. Your darling Mum was a true inspiration to you, and through you, to all of us. I am sure everyone who reads their copy of ‘Home for Christmas’ will think of your Mum. May she rest in peace, a life well lived. Sending you much love x

  37. Carol Wakefield says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Your new book is absolute perfection!! It transported me back to that safe and cozy childhood that I was so blessed to live. Your story is a treasure, putting into words what so many of us are craving right now. Thank you for sharing these memories with us and reminding us that family and home are so precious and we need to create these cozy memories for our own sweet families. I can hardly wait to give this treasure to my friends and family for Christmas 🎄👏🏻.
    Thank you for all you do to remind us of what is good and kind and worthwhile.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m thrilled that you like it Carol … I think the future needs to know that to us as kids, because of our parents, that once there was a spot . . . . 💝

  38. Teresa O says:

    Beautiful, beautiful post. So very sorry to hear of your dear mom’s passing. I lost my mother 28 years ago & not a day goes by that she is not whispering in my ear, sending small signs & always in my heart. Your words never fail to touch me, make me smile, & be so glad that it’s the simple things in life that bring the most joy.

    Blessings to you & yours.

  39. Victoria Melvin says:

    I was so happy to receive the Home for Christmas book!!! I will take my time to read it and enjoy the story. This is the same way I read your Blogs – I wait for some quiet time and then have time to enjoy the read! I do appreciate your gift for words and drawing. Blessings to you and your family. Victoria Melvin

  40. Monica Greer says:

    So sorry for the loss of your sweet mother. I lost mine several years ago and I really feel the loss when I have the urge to call her on the phone knowing she won’t be there to answer. Peace and love to you.

  41. Debra Henault says:

    Dear Susan,
    What loving memories you have shared with your mom and then inspired our moms and us to be creative moms. My mom (who seems a million miles in a hospital during this “Dampanic”), first shared your cookbooks with me years ago. The snippets and drawings inspired me to continue with my art throughout my life. I have journaled and scrapbooked almost daily because of it. I live on a very small island in RI on Narragansett Bay, Prudence Island in a cottage by the sea creating that art and feeling a sense of artful kinship because of what you have shared of your sweet mom. My condolences and may it lighten your heart to know your kindness and sharing has made a difference in our lives. Sincerely, Debra💕

  42. SUSAN K says:

    My heart goes out to you, so very sorry for your lost. …..for someone who lost her own at the age of seven…..I love all you share. (I’m 66yrs) now. Thank you for always sharing your thoughts and your life. HUGS

  43. Francine Ramsey says:

    Dear Susan,

    I am so very sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Since the passing of my Dad 3 years ago and and that of my stepson this past February, I continue to be awed at the amazing power of love and prayer and the way that power continues to bind us to those we have loved and lost even though they are no longer physically present here on earth. Since their deaths, I have on several occasions felt/seen them watching over me through physical “signs” (not sure what else to call them). For Dad, it’s a male cardinal that often sits on a tree branch and “sings” to me while I tend my perennial beds or flies in front of me when I go for a walk. Keep in mind that Dad, a singer/musician, also had an unusual ability to whistle in 2-part harmony. Whether I’m sad or happy, seeing/hearing it always gives me a sense of peace knowing that through God, Dad is able to let me know that he is thinking of and watching over me. Dad has also visited me in dreams where I come awake still feeling his arms wrapped around me and the sense that I have had a long conversation with him even though neither of us have exchanged any words. For my stepson, it is an opaque mason jar that he gave me for Christmas 3 years ago. It is meant to absorb light during the day and emit a blue glow at night . Unfortunately, it worked for only about a month and never shone after that. On the night of his passing, however, it “winked” blue twice when my husband and I were in the room where it was placed. We both saw it and believe our son was letting us know that he was still with us and that he loved us. Since then it has winked/glowed at times when I/we are missing him most. I sometimes laugh at his timing as if he’s telling me, “Hey Franny, I’m here. Pay attention!” As you mourn your Mom in the days and months ahead, I hope & pray that you will be blessed with signs from your beloved Mom. I have a hunch that you’ve already seen/had them from your Dad.

    I am blessed that my Mom is still with us and that I can still enjoy weekly overnights with her on Tuesdays in spite of the pandemic. When I was puzzling with Mom this past Tuesday, I told her about your latest blog post and how you had shared about your Mom’s passing. She too was saddened by the news. Unlike my Dad, she openly talks about death & dying including her own mortality. She has told us that she is ready to meet God and very much looks forward to being reunited Dad. When her time comes, she wants us to be comforted by the knowledge that she is exactly where she wants to be. She too has seen and felt Dad’s presence through signs and has wondered aloud about what her own sign will be when she passes. She is confident that whatever it is, we will recognize it as hers.

    When I returned home Wednesday night, I was excited to find a package from your studio sitting on our breakfast bar. Always the queen of delayed gratification, I left it there and went about watering flower beds and putting together a chicken pot pie for dinner, sneaking peeks at it whenever I walked by. Only when those tasks were finished did I open it and smile as I saw your Christmas book with that jolly, rosy-cheeked Santa looking back at me. I was tempted to read it right away but decided to wait until after dinner when I could cuddle up with a warm blanket to focus on the words and watercolors within it. Even then I hesitated when that time came, but remembering Sunday’s upcoming Tea at Titcomb’s, I decided to read it in case you talked about it then.

    Susan, you never disappoint! I loved being transported to a simpler time and vicariously reliving the Christmases of my own youth through your story-telling. I especially liked that you included the detail about ridges in the cranberry sauce. What an absolute treasure this book is and a wonderful and loving memory of your Mom! Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

    Keeping you and your siblings in my prayers.


    Franny R

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

    Hello Susan, and Hello Girlfriends. we are still here at home in cave junction, still at level 2 (be ready to go at a moment’s notice) and the Slater fire is 10% contained, we have 2 other fires in close quarters with this fire. The Devil’s fire (0% contained), and the Fox fire (also 0% contained), so its been hectic around here. the smoke is lifting and the air is a bit better, still smoky and nasty but not like a few days ago. every morning we get quite a parade going up caves highway to Takilma and around the Holland loop and the Caves area, bulldozers on low flatbeds, fire trucks from all over and tons of water trucks. you can see neighbors out on their porches in the morning waving to the fire trucks and the crews going by each day, the signs are popping out thanking the fire fighters from all over and the donations for fresh eggs, fruit and baked goodies like bread, cookies and buns, along with fresh tomatoes, squash, and anything else we can give to help the fire fighters and their brothers from other states. since the grocery stores are difficulty supplying eggs for the fire fighters’ breakfast each morning, local who raise chickens and can afford to , donate tons of fresh eggs daily to the Lions club for feeding the fire fighters. they get a good breakfast of blueberry pancakes, sausage donated from Taylor’s sausage, along with bacon and deli meat for sandwiches that put in lunch boxes for the fire fighters each day. takes a lot of folks to cook and pack these boxes and feed these guys but we love doing it. any way we can help them, we will. i have seen neighbors break out their own bulldozers and join crews cutting out fire breaks and fire lines to slow that fire down. if you have a trailer and help haul critters out of the fire area, we do it whatever is needed. Susan i have a question for you… ever hear of Beetledung Farm???? it is supposed to somewhere on Martha’s Vineyard and serves up a great dinner of food grown right there on the farm. got a busy day ahead of me, more laundry to do… bed linens and towels and a ton of baking to do, bread and cookies. got to feed those fire fighters. also have to check the food and water containers for the barnyard crew and keep the cats somewhat calm. they have settled down a bit now, they know we are home and i guess they feel more secure. sending lots of love and hugs…. hugs… 😀

    • sbranch says:

      Ha ha ha! It’s Beetlebung Farm ~ Beetlebung is a tree! Yes, it’s one of the many small organic farms that serve our community. Kids, they are so into it these days … much the way we were when we were young, growing fresh healthy food. You must be so close to the fires to be feeding the firefighters … I hope you say safe, and the air is bearable. Thank you for what you do for those amazing people putting their lives on the line, I’m so happy they are feeling the love, they should! Tell them we say THANK YOU!💞

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        i will pass the message along. we take the foods to the Lions’ and they cook the meals at their lodge, they have a huge kitchen there for canning. they feed the fire fighters, they even my favorite food of the summer.. Lion burgers, the best burgers in the valley. so sloppy and juicy and it has a 5 napkin rating from the valley folk. 1 napkin is nyah, 2 napkins is okay, 3 napkins is better, 4 napkins is great and 5 napkins the best ever.. we judge by the number of napkins used to wipe up all the juicy goodies and your face. oh okay its Beetlebung farms… my friend kept calling it dung instead of bung. today here is a very good day… we can actually see the sun, and the smoke has lifted, we can look down the road and see the road and the trees, before all you saw was people driving out of the smoke towards you. so things are looking good, more and more fire crews are arriving, we had the Canadians arrive yesterday and they were quite surprised by the cheering folks along the highway. guess they do not get that kind of reception at home. well off to put up my Fall decorations and rake up the leaves and water the lawns a little. we have rain but since the fires create their own weather it is tough to judge if we will get rain or not. but today things are definitely looking better. have a great day today, and a great weekend. hugs….. 😀

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Hey Pat! So glad you guys are still OK. I always love reading your post on all doings around your farm. You must be even busier now with regular chores and giving aid to the fire fighters. One of those brave guys could be the husband of one of my God daughters.
      Hoping you get a break soon.
      Debbie in Maine, where we also have extreme drought. We live amongst lots of huge trees and there are many, many dead ones out there. When My husband Tom was younger, He’d go in with his trusty chain saw and drag some out each year. But those days are past. Must get someone to do it. Hope you continue to have luck on your side.

  45. Shari Weber says:

    I feel your sadness, my mother-in-law and good friend, passed in April also. I was the daughter she never had and she was a good mom-in-law. We were not able to burry her ashes until July, but it was a beautiful graveside service on a bright sunny day. We just can’t stop time, now matter how we try….but would we really want to?

  46. Marianne in Hidden Meadows, SoCal says:

    Susan – I love your mother for many of the reasons portrayed in your beautiful and charming new Christmas book, but mostly I love her for giving us YOU! You did a wonderful job Patricia Louise Smith Stewart!

  47. Gale Harris says:

    How precious your reminder of life’s comforts when you have suffered such a huge loss.

  48. Michelle Smock says:

    I received Home For Christmas 🎄 today. I love it. There’s nothing like old times and old memories to get us through the bad ones. Thank you for sharing that magical time with us.
    Take care of yourself.

  49. Ferol Snead says:

    Congratulations to the winners! I think I heard screams of delight from 6 lucky ladies! Susan, your words are always so inspiring, but this post carried a feeling of gratitude for the angel that inspired you in life. It was sweet, accepting, and soulful in a way that recognized your every life blessing. And, peaceful – yes, that’s the word!

  50. Mary Jo Franske says:

    I have long loved your work and finally, I will get to “meet” you. I just signed up for your virtual tea party. It is a silver lining in all this “2020,” that you are available to a greater audience. But you are ALWAYS welcome in Minnesota!
    Now, about your mom. You have survived the loss of your Dad (which is not an easy thing.) and you will survive this too, but I found that what brought me to my knees and released the tears was the KINDNESS of others during those first few months. Love to you! -Mary Jo Franske

  51. Dawn Tuthill says:

    So sorry to hear about your mom! Glad you got to spend time with her. I just received my Christmas book. I took a quick peek but want to enjoy the pictures as I go. It will have to wait a bit as I have just started the Alex Trebek book and am liking it so far. I just ordered a bunch of books, mostly Gladys Tabor. I guess I’ll be busy reading all winter. I’m still anxious for for the other Enchanted England book but I was totally excited to hear about your quote book. I’ve been writing down my favorite quotes for years also but they are not all in one place and not nearly as many as you have. I’ll definitely be buying one of those. I also jot down my favorite license plates or holders sayings too. It all started with the John Shedd quote “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” It was in the front of a book I read years ago and I fell in Love. Your weather looks beautiful! I’d love to sit in your arbor and enjoy dinner looking up at the stars. We’ve had so much smoke from the fires that we are staying in with the windows closed and air on. It was a little better today and we could actually see the mountains. Yesterday the smoke was so thick it looked like fog. I guess I should start getting my fall decorations out now, and my Autumn book. I’m always excited to see what the next post will be. Thanks for brightening our days!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry about the fires, the smoke, the air, it’s really hard to believe. Sending hope and love to you and all my friends and family in California. Please, God, RAIN!

  52. Paula LaMont says:

    Thank you for being your beautiful self, even the hardest thing in human experience the loss of a beloved mother you have turned into a gift to us with your Christmas book. It will be another treasure on my self and I will not ever take lightly this gift. As I sit in Oregon with smoke covering my beautiful garden, late zinnias still pop their bright colors up to great me. This morning it rained and now smells ha ha like wet smoke, but I have Susan’s cheer from Martha’s Vineyard and for that I am grateful and for the first time in a week I saw a bird fly by. Where have they been? At least I can stay in the house. Thank you thank you I know you do what you do because your an artist but I tell you today It’s the little things that matter most. Much love to you dear.

  53. Patty says:

    Dear Susan, When I lost my Mom five years ago, it was one of the hardest times in my life. While I was sitting there with her and holding her hand as she took her last breath, one of of the nurses came over to me and hugged me. She said, “Don’t cry for too long, there are worse things in life than death.” I will always remember that. We are never ready to lose our Moms. My heart goes out to you. As time goes on, I find it comforting to picture my Mom in heaven with all of her loved one that passed before her. I hope this thought will help you as well. I received your new book today and I am looking forward to Sunday, Susan! What a charming story with the sweetest sentiments of Christmas past! Do you know how much we all love you??

  54. Debbie Boerger says:

    What a magical evening you had. And that cake!! Thanks for the video.
    We had our best buddy over for supper and a recorded PBS police drama. It’s pretty grim, so I may skip the rest of them. Takes place in Amsterdam.

    We had Pasta Arabiata, a recipe adapted from an Ina Garten one. It’s sooo good. This time I used linguini rather than the penne. All 3 of us slurped the long strands in!! We’re “Framily”, so no need to hide our occasional lapses in table manners. Of course today, I’m trying to get the tomato stains out of our clothing. I also had some Italian sausage and a pkg. of spicy chorizo to add. We three agreed the recipe was a keeper. Also did the last of our lettuce and the wonderful little sun gold salad tomatoes, and a fresh cucumber. So thankful for my sweet neighbors who share those with us. Made a pan of apple crisp from our own tree. Cool evening, so it was seasonally just right. Tomorrow I may begin making the apple sauce and apple butter. Takes Alllll day, and it leaves splatters all over the stove, walls, counter and even floor. But I have only 2 jars of apple butter left down cellar to use on pork recipes.

    Obviously, you can buy all the apple sauce and apple butter you need at the grocery. But making your own is a link to our grandmothers and beyond. Some of the canning jars I still use are at least 100 years old. Have to order the rubber rings to seal the tops. Last week I donated 2 boxes of smaller modern ones to two good friends who still do lots of canning. They are sisters are among a group of gardeners who grow veggies for the local food pantries.

    Note to Self….We will prevail over the Evil we see at this time in our lives. It may take a generation to heal us as a Nation, but we can do it. Doing what’s good, for showing the way, as you, Dear Lady, always seem to do,
    We Thank You,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      Once each half of the country knows the other half loves them and always has, we can put it back together, if we can get rid of the people in the middle who want to keep us divided. Very tricky. But we get smarter by the day.❤️

  55. Jennifer says:

    So sad to hear about your mom. Best wishes to you and your family. She lives on in you and your books.

  56. Peggy Cooper says:

    As you say, I know you know how I feel. And I understand the delay in the announcement. Sometimes the words are just too much. I had your last Christmas book for so many years, and every year when I got the decorations out, I would put it on the coffee table and look through it little by little. Then a year or two ago, I donated it to the library because I’m 71 and all the Grands live far away, so I thought it would be nice if a young mother could buy it for almost nothing, and enjoy it as much as I did. Now I will be ordering the new one which looks and sounds so inviting. I’m determined to make this Christmas so very special, because it has been such a special year, not in a good way. Take care of yourself, and Joe and Jack, and enjoy this beautiful fall that those of us on the East Coast are blessed to have while we pray for those less fortunate.

  57. FayE in CA! says:

    Oh no…Ruth Bader Ginsburg just died. Bless her heart and thank yous to heaven for the years that she served our nation for justice. Oh, my. I was hoping that she would be with us until after the inauguration. 2020 continues to take its toll on our hearts. 2020 continues to be a disturbing nightmare.

    STRENGTH for all of us ! HOPE for all of us! BALLOT for all of us! PEACE and HEALTH for all of us!

    • sbranch says:

      Heartbreaking FayE. Look at all the lives she touched. Makes me cry to think about it. Our champion. Now we all have much more to do than ever before. XOXOXOXO

  58. Karen Hellier says:

    Dear Susan,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your Mom. My mom will be 83 on October 16th and just had a stroke 2 weeks ago. The MRI says it was her second one, although no one knew about the first. I guess strokes can be sneaky little things! She is very weak and not sure she will make it to her 83rd birthday. I went to visit her while she was in rehab and when it was time for me to leave 5 days later ( I live 10 hours away from her) she said she was afraid she may never see me again. The lump in my throat as I kissed her goodbye was painful. But the next day after I got home I sent her a sweet card and told her if I don’t see her on Earth again, at least I will see her in Heaven. My heart is with you.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s amazing what the body can do when it has a little help from our amazing health care people … my prayers are with you, and with your mom. 💝

  59. Joyce says:

    Precious memories remain long after…

  60. Joyce says:

    You touch my heart in so many ways, I send you a hug for yours. ❤

  61. Sharon says:

    From Talent Oregon

    Just getting a chance to read your latest blog. Thank you as this is such a nice escape from the fires…sooo much devastation! Skipped over my home. It’s a miracle! Next I am going to check out shopping and decide which new item to order. Again thank you for this mental escape. xxoo

    • sbranch says:

      I’m SO sorry for the fires. I just can’t believe the devastation. I have many friends who live in California, and it’s just been horrible! How wonderful your home was spared. But how scary! I hope your skies have cleared and the air is freshening!💖

  62. Laurie Nico’s mom says:

    Oh, Susan, my heart breaks for you. 💔 You may remember that I lost my mom last December. I feel exactly the same. I miss her but she was more than ready. It was the right thing at the right time, just as you said. Be kind to yourself. Lots of squeezes for Jack. He knows how much you need him in times like this. And Joe too, of course. ❤️


  63. Kristen Hamann says:

    So very sorry, Susan, for the loss of your dear mother. What a blessing you had a wonderful relationship with her. I lost my mom nearly 10 years ago. Life hasn’t been the same as I miss her SO much, but life must go on – she would have wanted it that way. Treasure your memories and mementoes that remind you of her😊😍.

    Sending hugs from Colorado

  64. Carmel says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’ve mentioned this in the past but I so admired and cared about your mom. This is because you have shared her so generously through your books (your beloved dad too). She reminds me of my mom. She reminds me of my loving mother who had to work outside the home but was a true homemaker and passed that gift down to me. My mom showed her love through her cooking, home skills and most of all, imparting her good values. I send love and light to your heart.
    I will be joining all of you at the “Tea” this afternoon. Quite exciting! Timing couldn’t be better after the loss of our dear RBG who cared about everyone’s ability to be included.
    I texted a friend of mine about the tea and somethings about you this morning and she was so impressed, she ordered your Christmas book from Titcombs bookshop! I’ve given her a couple of your cups, etc. over the years, but it really registered this time.
    I also sent her the photo of your July 2021 calendar with the quote about Mr. Bowditch to remind her that even tho she’s renting her townhouse, she has made
    it a home and made her community around her a home.
    I love the photo calendar. April and July especially take my breath away. I love the border around April. Would love for that to be a Spoon Flower print.
    So happy for you that you’re able to have outdoors visits with friends. Some of my friends are doing the same while the weather is still mild. We’re very careful but really needed to actually visit with each other. They say life finds a way. Well, so does love, apparently.
    Stay well, Susan and stay well, all the girlfriends.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes! So sad. “. . . after the loss of our dear RBG who cared about everyone’s ability to be included.” She sure did. And inclusion is such a lovely thing. God made us all. I have no doubt that this was her life’s passion❤️. Love finds a way … it sure does! So good of you to talk about the importance of making a home, and even more KNOWING that’s what you’re doing. So empowering. xoxo to you Carmel.

  65. Debbie Boerger says:

    Happy Tea at Titcomb’s all you Zoomers!
    It’s one of those stunningly beautiful days here on Hog Bay. Smelling the bacon and coffee. Watching “our” birds and small mammals on and under the feeders. Everyone stashing seeds for winter.
    Guess we should buy a snow shovel, as the only other times we’ve been up here in heavy snow, we had our lovely next door boy come over and sweep or shovel the steps.

    Yes, Sue, we’ll be here until there is a vaccine, one that Dr. Fauci approves. Think we’ll skip the chlorox, hydrox….whatever…recommended by Voldemort.
    So looking forward to another Currier and Ives Christmas here on Shipyard Point Road. Children all grown up, but the Old Folks can still cut a rug!!! A very, very small rug. 😉
    Mucho Love to each and every one of you,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, good idea! I’m so happy you’re staying. You are going to LOVE it…. be so cozy, and inspired … we’ll go through it together!

  66. Kitty DeMento says:

    Dear Susan:
    Once again I had so much trouble posting something – please know I send my heartfelt condolences to you on the passing of your sweet mom – she reminded me so much of my own mum. I know how this is as I lost my mother too early and I feel like I was shortchanged with having her. Thank you for sharing this news with us and allowing us to send our love and peaceful feelings to you. All the best, Kitty

  67. Minette says:

    After yesterday’s news events and more horror spawned by this election year and pandemic crisis, I was at about the lowest I have been in months, and then your new Christmas book arrived in the mail. Just opening the package and gazing on the front cover instantly brought a smile to my face and I hurriedly finished tasks to sit down with a pot of tea and slowly read each page. I did not want it to end! My spirits were lifted and I felt an immense sense of hope and optimism that no matter what, things are going to get better because the spirit of Christmas will always be there if we know where to look for it. Thank you for sharing this story in such a charming book and bringing back memories of the warmth and goodness of the season. I read it a second time today and just had to let you know how much comfort and joy it has given me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      You’re making me cry Minette, I know how you feel, and that hopelessness with this DamPanic that has gone on too long with no end in sight is so hard for everyone. Yes, you said it so perfectly, the spirit of Christmas is inside us, we have so much to be grateful for. You don’t know how much your words mean to me. Blessings on you and yours. ❌⭕️

  68. Janet Conn says:

    Hi, Susan.
    I was happy to attend your virtual Zoom book talk today. Both my cousin, Michelle, and I traveled from Pittsburgh to Hudson, OH for your last two book signings. Now we can say “Remember when we attended Susan Branch’s virtual book tour in 2020. It was such a pleasure. It felt like having a cup of tea with an old and dear friend. It was exactly what us, “Girlfriends” needed right now. It was also a nice surprise to get to see Joe for a moment, as well. Thank you so much! Blessings to you, Joe and Jack.

    • sbranch says:

      Same to you Janet, and say hello to Michelle for me …. it’s wonderful to see you in person, but this is pretty darn good considering! Thank you for the sweet words! I need to get Joe more into the idea of this! 😂

  69. Janet Conn says:

    Hi, Susan.
    I was so happy to attend your virtual Zoom book talk this afternoon. My cousin, Michelle and I traveled from Pittsburgh to Hudson, OH, for your last two book signings. Now we can say we attended your virtual book tour in 2020. It felt like having a cup of tea with an old and dear friend. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Joe for a moment. This was just what us “Girlfriends” needed right now. Thank you so much. Blessings to you, Joe and Jack.

    • sbranch says:

      How fun! Kind of easy getting to the virtual ones isn’t it?!! Relatively, a lot less driving for us! Although, believe me, I would LOVE to take that drive! Say hello to Michelle for me! xoxoxo

  70. Samantha says:

    Dear Susan~
    I was so very sorry to hear of your mother’s passing earlier this spring. I think of all the “happy genes” that are brightening folks’ days, bringing laughter to the world, inspiring the best in everyone….all because of her and the joy she passed on to others…especially you! I am so very grateful for all that you’ve been able to share a glimpse of the remarkable woman she was with all of us girlfriends. Your Christmas book will be a loving testament to her and all that we fondly know as HOME. Even though I wasn’t even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes in 1956, I can feel that this book with be a timeless treasure that bridges the years and captures the spirit of being home for Christmas.

    I was so blessed to be a part of your Zoom meeting earlier today with Titcomb’s Bookstore, and I just shared with my Joe that we have a new destination to add to the “New England by Rails” adventure we are planning! What a special treasure to look forward to visiting someday after this “dam panic”! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and inspiration…it is contagious (in the best of ways!!) and always reminding us to slow down and take time to cherish all that is at the heart of our home.

    Autumn’s blessings to you and yours,

  71. Deborah Jones says:

    Recently received your beautifully illustrated & written “Home For Christmas” book. Can’t tell you enough how much I loved it! I was able to feel the nostalgia again from that time period when I as well was little like you. Thanks so much for sharing your life. I love it! Can’t wait to read it again & again!

  72. Gina from NY says:

    Dearest Susan:
    I was sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I understand completely, as I lost my angelic mom 4 years ago. It does stay with you always, though with the passing time, the pain blurs and you just remember all the wonderful times, hugs, kisses, laughter, advice (even when you didn’t want it), support, encouragement, etc. My thoughts are with you and your family.
    I received “Home for Christmas” this past week, and read it over the weekend! I loved every single page of this book! Though I’m a bit younger than you (I was a child of the 60’s) – things hadn’t changed so much as when you were growing up. So many good memories, tangled up with friends and family, of Christmas’s past… stories of Grandmas, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, the delicious food! I cried and laughed through the entire book. I was especially touched when you spoke about the doll you received and how your mom made clothes for the her. My mom, who was a seamstress, did the same. Not only dresses and outfits for my Tiny Tears and Chatty Baby (I’m not sure that Terri Lee was still around when I came along); but also for my Barbies! I still have them in a box under my bed. I still marvel at the skill, the tiny stiches, snaps and buttons. These are things to keep forever… I will truly treasure this book – it is a holiday masterpiece!
    Thank you for the wonderful post – I love fall – and I especially love a New England fall! Aren’t they the best? xoxo

  73. MERRY DEMSKE says:

    Just received the cup that says, “Have I told you lately that I love you?” It was the song I used to sing to my daughter every evening when I was time to rock her to sleep. Thank you. It brings back precious memories.

  74. Hi Susan! First of all, I want to thank you for the wonderful virtual tea party yesterday! I just loved it!! Now I cannot wait to actually see you in person to talk about your new book – maybe next year?! I would love to see Titcomb’s Book Store! Also, I received “Home for Christmas” and read it already. I loved it so much and want to show it to my daughters (age 17 and 26) as soon as possible! I know they will be reading it to their children and grandchildren if they are so blessed! (Thank you for the adorable book mark, too!) And last but not least, I want to wish you a very happy autumn season! HUGS!

    • sbranch says:

      Now our 1956 Christmas will go into the future with your children! How wonderful to think of it Sharon! Happy Autumn to you too!🍂

  75. Fran from Michigan says:

    Oh my dear Susan! I am so sorry to hear about your Mother. So sad, Was she able to read some of your Christmas book pages? ( or did you say you started it after she passed?) My Father passed away three months before I married when I was 20 and my Mother, bless her heart lived to be 92. but she has been gone now for 12 years. ( I was in my fifties when she died). I loved reading about your Family and how you were raised in a such a large wonderful, happy family. Cherish those memories. May She rest in Peace!

    • sbranch says:

      My mom had dementia for several years, so, sadly, no, she didn’t read it. I wrote it for BOTH of us…💝

      • fran from Michigan says:

        I bet your Mom enjoyed your first books, including all your cookbooks ( which I have so many LOL) She must have been very proud of you.

  76. Gerry says:

    Checking to see if I’m still subscribed. I didn’t get your newsletter in my inbox. I saw it on FB and sent to my email. I tried to subscribe but was told I am already subscribed. Wondering why it didn’t come to my inbox. I don’t want to miss any.

    I’m sorry about your Mom. Thankful you share her with us. Hugs.

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe try again, first refresh and then try … if it doesn’t work, let us know and we’ll see if there’s anything we can do on our end.

  77. Sharon Watson says:

    Happy First Day Of Fall Susan

    Don’t know whether you’ve heard of the You Matter Marathon by Cheryl Rice. All you have to do is go to the YouMatterMarathon.com and she will mail you 30 you matter cards to pass out to people you feel need a little kindness or a lift. One card for each day in November. This is around the world. Join in its fun to put a little spark in someone’s life. It’s FREE!
    Anyone can participate. Enjoy the day.

  78. Pam Stevens says:

    Happy Autumn Susan…
    I wish I was up on MV to experience the northern loveliness of the season, but even in Georgia the magic is in the air and the leaves are beginning to dance. Just wanted to say that I received my copy of Home for Christmas and I positively inhaled your word. I could not LOVE it more!! I believe I had a smile on my face the entire time. Soooooo wonderful in the best possible way to recall my own childhood Christmas memories and let them bubble in my heart. Thank you for sharing yours with us. I plan to read it again…slower this time. I must ask….what was the book you were reading to your nieces and nephews? I will wait patiently for your next book….hopefully all of your favorite quotes!

    • sbranch says:

      It was called Once on Christmas by Dorothy Thompson. I’ll show it to you, along with some leaves, in my next post!🍂

  79. Inez Schlueter says:

    Well Susan, I already received my Christmas book, and had to start reading. I can remember some of the things you mentioned, that you did with your family. My best memory, is , my parents did everything on Christmas Eve, after we all walked to Midnight Mass. One of my favorite Masses,so joyful. And yet the same as you, waiting for the morning of Christmas was so nerving, you can’t sleep,but you do. When I woke up, it was magic. The tree, the platform with the trains whistling, the smell of turkey cooking, long and slow, the presents. I did the same with my children, till they were old enough to know, who Santa really was. Isn’t something, if you close your eyes and go back, you can have all the smells of childhood,and remember things you thought you forgot. Thanks for your book, to bring back those wonderful memories.

    • sbranch says:

      We went to Midnight Mass a couple of times when I was little, but I remember how hard it was for my mom to get us all ready, go, then home and to bed, then up for Christmas, so I think she gave up on it as more children showed up! Thank you for your lovely memories Inez, it will help to make the season brighter!

  80. Patricia Coomes says:

    Susan so sorry on the loss of your mom. I also lost my mother in April. Lost both parents within two years. It’s so hard when you want to call and ask about a recipe or something from childhood. I remember mom and I staying up late and watching old movies. Mom could tell you about all the old movie stars and singers. Thank you for sharing your memories.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry Patricia, yes, huge hole in our lives. I find myself investigating their lives more than ever before … I feel like there was so much more to learn!

  81. Judi Davis says:

    Ohhh Susan, I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom! I have been traveling a bit visiting family and having a new Grandson being born so I had not had a chance to read your post until now. I cried as I read it, because yes, I feel like I knew her! You always wish you could do something for people during the time of a loss besides just say, “I’m sorry.” I’m sending you hugs, love and prayers. Take care sweet girl.

  82. Mary Ann in Mid-Missouri says:

    Well, I received my copy of Home for Christmas and despite telling myself I wouldn’t read it until after Thanksgiving, I broke down and read it. SPOILER ALERT for anyone reading this who doesn’t want to know about the book yet, stop reading now. I have to say I loved every word. Despite the fact that I grew up on a farm in Ohio, and you grew up in the suburbs in California, our lives were very similar. There were 8 children in my family as well, and many of the same traditions. I must say, as soon as you told about thinking you were getting a toothbrush, I thought, “It’s a fountain pen!” I was so close. I got a fountain pen the year I was 11, and it was one of my favorite gifts ever. This book brought back so many wonderful memories. I smiled so hard while reading it, my face actually hurt afterwards. Thank you so much for another wonderful story. I know I will read it again after Thanksgiving and enjoy it just as much.

  83. Debbie Boerger says:

    Beautiful Indian Summer Day. Supposed to be warm through the weekend! We did not get the much needed rain from Hurricane Teddy, so we are still in extreme drought conditions. Po’ Tom will have to wait to burn his slash pile. My English pen pal, said there is just something about Blokes and Bon Fires. Hmmmmm?

    Your dad’s linguini and white clam sauce is exactly like mine, except for one thing. I put the pasta into the sauce (juice) while it’s still very underdone. It then absorbs those flavors. Then I toss in the canned clams. Doing a Korma chicken tonight. I did all the time consuming things yesterday afternoon. We both love Indian food. This one is from Delhi. But instead of rice, we’ll have it with egg noodles….for Tom and our friend, Anne. Will watch another movie together, and try to keep our Deepest Fears at bay. If you didn’t see Blinded By the Light, please do so. Such a sweet, uplifting movie…Also watched Chocolat again. Another one with a lesson for our spirits.

    Life goes on, ready or not! Mucho Grande Love to you, Dear Lady,
    Debbie in Beeutiful Down East Maine

    • sbranch says:

      I’d love to have the recipe for your favorite Indian dish!!! To keep our Deepest Fears at bay. 💖💖💖

  84. Carolyn Wilson says:

    Dear Susan, I was privileged to be part of both your Duxbury Senior Center and Titcomb’s Bookstore blogs. It was such a thrill to have you right in my living room just as if we were together sharing the beautiful tea I fixed both times. I cried with the joy of it all! Thank you for letting us all be in your world of exquisite beauty, travel, and friendship. I was born in 1949, so your new Christmas book took me back to my own Christmases. There was just my sister and me with our precious Mom and Dad, joined later on Christmas day by both sets of grandparents. Holidays were full of good traditions, good home cooking, and presents for one and all. From summer up until Christmas my room was off limits as I cut, stiched, glued, pasted, taped and sandpapered my creations into the perfect gift for loved ones. I was in heaven and my precious Daddy always leant his helping hand and advice to make each present as personal and special as I dreamed it would be. One Christmas I made Daddy an oil painted by number oriental scene bamboo wall calendar. He put it up in his office and proudly told me the compliments he received on it. So proud. Helping Mother cook and bake for Christmas was another particular joy that made me feel proud. Christmas in our western North Carolina mountains is still my favorite time of year and now I can share it with my previous 32 year old daughter. I am truly grateful and thankful for these nearly 71 years of a life spent in a happy family and studded with travel, crafting, and cooking. I’m a very lucky woman. Discovering you a few years ago, Susan, has been such a joy to find such a kindred spirit. Thank you! You are my inspiration and soul sister ❤️.

    • sbranch says:

      Kindred spirits Carolyn! Isn’t it true, we learn so early that what we give is what makes us proud of ourselves! Loved reading all your wonderful memories! 👏❌⭕️

  85. Karen Wills says:

    I wanted to let you know how much I loved your book. I read it in one sitting, and it is wonderful. I will read it again and again. Is there any chance of getting more Winter mugs? It would go so well with your new book. Thank-you so much for your wonderful blog post, and thank-you for all you do. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. There is no one in this world like a mother. My deepest sympathies to you.

    • sbranch says:

      Did you check the website for winter cups? I think we had some, but maybe not! Thank you for your kind words Karen. xoxoxo

  86. Theresa Raffee says:

    Hi Susan:
    I am so sorry about your Mama. I know this grief well. I was putting on my make-up the other day and you know those magnified mirrors we use? Well, as I looked in my own eyes as I was applying my mascara, I saw my mom, really! it hit me like a ton of bricks!! I realize more and more as I get older how much I am like my mom and how much she is a part of me even after losing her over 15 years ago! Yes, it made me cry but I am so grateful that I was chosen to be her daughter. When you look at yourself in the mirror, remember you are your mother’s daughter always and forever.
    I love your new book!! I couldn’t wait for it to get to my little store in Claremont, California that I love so much called Barabara Cheatley’s. I have so many similar memories, it just took me back! Thank you for writing it during a time when we need reminders of the little things in life that we sometimes take for granted. Stay strong and well Susan!!
    Love, Theresa Raffee

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Theresa … and say hello to Barbara for me if you see her! I love your thought of seeing my mother in me… I will definitely do that! 💝

    • FayE in CA! says:

      I LOVE Barbara Cheatley’s! It is about three hours from me.

      I hope that the store survives this economic crisis. Not many stores like Cheatley’s left!

      Susan, just look at the photo of you and your mom in “Home for Christmas”…the two of you look so happy and VERY much mother and daughter. In fact, you could be sisters in that photo. xoxo

  87. Carolyn Wilson says:

    Susan, I neglected to tell you how sad I feel about your precious Mom passing. Both my parents are together now in heaven (since 1998 and 2000) and that is a comfort to me. I’m sure you feel comfort knowing your dear parents are together now as well. We miss them so much but rejoice that they are in a better place . We hold their sweet memories in our hearts. You have shared your family memories with all of us, so we feel we knew your parents and we loved them. I pray you will have the peace that passeth understanding now, so you will have the courage and heart to carry on. One last thing – I wonder if you could share with your gentle readers what you knit. You mention knitting so much in your books and I wonder what treasures you make, please.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh thank you so much Carolyn. My mom taught me to knit when I was little. I can cast on, cast off, knit and purl, but that’s all. I have never knit anything but scarves! I SHOULD go to a regular knitting group and learn to follow a pattern, but I didn’t before, and now Pandemonium won’t let me! I love doing it, it’s very relaxing. My mom and Grandma both knit what I call “nap blankets.” I have four, knitted by them. Treasures.

  88. D'Anne R Paratore says:

    My sincere loss of your Mother – she is always with you, just reading your musings you can read how much she has given you and you in turn have given others. LOVE Thank you for your early Christmas gift, it is so true even if it is just a dollar. I have seen more loss that no person should go through – I so much want to step out of reality and step into your world on the island. Even if it just a moment – Enjoy it for me and all of us who wish to be home soon.

  89. Holly Field says:

    Hello Susan, I too am sorry to hear of your mothers trip to heaven. Mostly sorry that you miss her. My mother made her trip to heaven a week ago tomorrow morning. She was in good health, but suddenly had a brain bleed. The day before it happened she played with her great granddaughter all day. Harper is 2 and really loved her GG. Mom had the very best last day. I’ve already picked up the phone to call, then remembered. Like your mom, mine was anxious to see the Lord, so I really can’t mourn for her, she’s in a better place. I am rather numb, just going thru the motions.
    I appreciate your writing us & look forward to ordering the book. Sending hugs! Holly

  90. Francie says:

    Dear Susan… sending hugs your way… you were a very loving and special daughter to your mother. My mother is almost 96 and still living on her own in Reseda, the house in which I grew up. I know each day is precious that I still have her. I received the Santa books I ordered and read it right away. Being a Reseda Regent just a year or two ahead of you, your story had many same memories I have. Driving through Santa Claus Lane in jammies with hot chocolate… our dads laying on the floor watching TV (why did they do that?)… and if I remember correctly, didn’t Janie Nielson’s mother teach piano? If so, I took lessons from her and so my mother drove me to that house across the street from you every week for two years! Lots of wonderful Christmas memories I thought would be repeated, but families change and children grow up and move away. New traditions come to life! Thank you for writing your books that I treasure. Happy Fall🍁🎃

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, I don’t know, my dad always chose the floor. Maybe it was easier than moving the rest of us off the couch! I’ve tried the floor, and I don’t get it! Yes, Janie’s mom taught piano! She used to play the Skaters Waltz for us and we would “skate” across their polished wood floor in our socks. Did you know Mike Ferejohn? He is a friend a couple of years ahead of me. Yes, how wonderful you still have your mom. Such a blessing. Nice to hear from you!💖

      • Francie says:

        Yes, I knew Mike Ferejohn! And we probably have many other friends in common. I see Ginger Nelson Daines all the time. And email regularly with Cheryl Townsend Pascual who has lived on the Big Island since we graduated. Sandy Sivacoe Quigley, who I was with all the time, died over 7 years ago. I miss her terribly! I saw Janet and Tim Hayley at her memorial service.

        • sbranch says:

          OH my, Ginger Nelson. Is she still as happy as she always was? All these girls, Cheryl Townsend, yes I was younger, but I knew them at least a little bit, more like I knew their names and looked UP to them … Sandy Sivacoe, I’m so sorry. Isn’t that amazing, so many in common! FUN! These were the girls (I think, maybe it was even an older class that theirs) that made up the terrible but funny, and we loved it, song … 🎶 We’re the Reseda raiders, the – of the night … Do you remember THAT???? Ha ha ha! What was your last name? I think I remember a Francie, but maybe I’m just getting the name from Grease!🤣 Thanks for connecting!💞

          • Francie says:

            Ginger is still the happy, spunky gal she always was… the mother of 4 sons and grandmother of 13… always playing games with them. I don’t remember that particular song, but we were in a Y Club called Deonesians and sang the Deonesian song a lot 🎶. My last name was Huffman. I believe the cast member in Grease was Frenchy, but my name was Gidget’s😊. My daughter is in town and we will be making Joe’s Favorite Old-Fashioned… with Maker’s Mark because he says it’s the best🥃🥰! And isn’t that a wonderful Fall drink although it’s well over 100 here in SoCal.

          • sbranch says:

            Oh yeah, Francine Huffman! I remember your name. Isn’t that funny? Oh yes, Gidget! Ha ha ha ha! The Deonesians, and for us it was the Lyndells. Makers Mark is the best! You will love it! Use crushed ice, v. important! Say hello to any Regents you run into. Very happy you wrote, so many good memories!

  91. Joy Pence in Ohio says:

    So very sorry to hear about your sweet momma. I lost my mom 2 years ago September 23rd. I think when we lose our moms, we lose our greatest cheerleader. I have no more words. Hugs.

  92. Ann English says:

    Losing your dear mother- I know what that heartbreak feels like. I am so very, very sorry. My mother died 11 years ago, my father and my oldest son 15 years ago. The ache never goes away, but it changes-the price of love.
    I am a huge fan, Susan, and recently “attended” the Titcomb’s tea. I lived in Sandwich up until my son died and miss this bookstore so! When we are lucky enough to visit the Cape (until this year, at least bi-annually), we always make a stop there! Your Christmas book is beyond charming and gave me “all the feels”! 💗💗💗💗💗
    I have all of your cookbooks and, I believe, almost all of your books. We need a new cookbook-cooking for two! 😉 When all five kids were growing up, there were never ANY leftovers, but these days, with just the two…
    Thank you, Susan, for spreading light and love in the darkness!

  93. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    My first SB discovery was Autumn, and I loved it so much, I also bought one for my chosen niece. I’ve been looking through it lately, treating it like a novel, and then thought how fun it would be to cook my way through the recipes during fall season, just like Julie and Julia. Then I thought, “Oh, no, Autumn is almost 1/3 gone, so maybe I should do Winter instead.” No, wait! There is no Winter. My wish on the full harvest moon Thursday night will be that you’ll do a Winter book and then a Summer book (or visa versa). After going through Autumn, I found there are 96 recipes I could make, excluding the ones with ingredients not found in my area (steamers, wild mushrooms), and things with uncooked alcohol (major headache otherwise), I would probably need a year just for Autumn. Then I could do Spring, and by then my dreams might come true and there would be a Summer or a Winter. I’d love Winter first, as it can be so dreary on dark days, and your book would be just the bit of joy to chase the gloom, but I’ll settle for what I can get. Is it possible?

    • sbranch says:

      I think my autumn recipes are perfect for winter, and if you have my Christmas book, there are even more! It will keep you busy! PLUS, I am not Julia Child, I will not make you skin a duck!

  94. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    Duh! Mixed my seasons. Senior moment. I have Summer. It’s Spring and Winter I need. Thumbing through Heart of the Home, it seems to be a mix of seasons, so I’ll begin there. First up – corn muffins. I’ve never made them with cinnamon. I saw that someone added orange zest by mistake and thought them wonderful. I immediately thought, so why not lemon? We could do lime for spring, lemon for summer, orange for autumn, and cinnamon for winter. Who doesn’t love corn muffins? We could switch the butter add-ins to match. I’ll let you know.

    • sbranch says:

      Why not? All sounds wonderful. Both Heart of the Home and Vineyard Seasons have all four seasons mixed in … Christmas has winter, Summer includes Spring… YUM! Corn muffins! It’s that time of year!

  95. Debbie Boerger says:

    We in Maine are finally getting some much needed rain. I get pretty nervous when the water flow from our well begins to lessen. As I’ve said we live in the woods, with a shallow bay on one side. One of the attractions of our little plot of paradise is that it has not been logged in a very long time, if ever. There are some humongous white pines that are most likely older than European settlers being in our area. The woods are a lovely mix of hard woods and soft wood, that being pine, 3 types of spruce, balsam fir (my fav for the aroma) and tamarac or hackmatack, or golden rain tree. The last one is adored by porcupines, which they delight in chewing the wood all around the bottom, eventually killing the tree. In the age of sail, the roots and part of the trunk were used in ship building..in the hull, called ‘knees’. We also have all the various oaks, maples, hawthorn, ash (so valued by the First Nations for basket weaving), pin cherry, 3 types of birch and other shorter lived trees. Some of the forest has lots of dead tree trunks, beloved by all the different wood peckers. And last but not least, the “popples” a very short lived tree similar to aspin. They break in high wind.

    That was a very long-winded way of saying we’ve been hyper alert to any smell of smoke. So this rain is at least One Thing I can push a bit further (?) to the back burner. Also worried about all of California. Newest fires in places Tom and I spent weeks camping and exploring over 3 lengthy journeys all over this country of ours. Please, please, pay attention people. Climate change is real. Politics come and go. People are dying and losing all they have, some for the 2nd time.
    More than ever worried about my step daughter, who is teaching kindergarten in Hillsborough Co, FL. Especially now that the governor of that state last week decreed that the entire state must fully reopen, bars, restaurants, etc. He says that neither fines nor warnings for failure to wear or require masks, or social distancing can be enforced or levied. What on Earth are they thinking?!! Our daughter endured 2 years of heavy chemo and radiation for non-Hodgekin’s lymphoma. She has deformities of her sinuses, ear canals, mouth and throat that were damaged by radiation……But she is a miracle, just being alive at 51, after 43 years of cancer free life. However, she is frequently ill with infections, which is usual for a compromised immune system and canals that can’t drain properly…surgery did not solve it.
    Those teachers were told by the Gov, either quit, or go back into the classroom. She chose not to take a leave, wanting to be with her “team”. He actually with-held some funding from those few districts that defied him. He also said that any teacher who did not do one of those above 2 things may be sued for “breach of contract”. Susan, and other worried Girlfriends, I feel as though we are in some Steven King (nice Maine guy, by the way) novel. I feel so helpless and scared.

    The schools say they do not have the funds to supply all the cleaning supplies that will be needed for the school year, so…..we’re mailing huge boxes of supplies, seeing that those things are hard to find…Hillsborough Co still ranking 21st among All counties in the US in Covid cases.

    So….Today I took refuge in my kitchen (AKA, my cockpit) Made up a large meat loaf to cook tonight, started on the apple butter and apple sauce from our very own old apple tree, talked to 2 friends, and had a good, healthy lunch. Tom just came home from the doc, having more “barnacles” removed from his gawjus face and bald head. Time to have a lie down and read something calming, such as back issues of your Blog.
    I think you must know how much you are appreciated, Dear Lady,
    Sending hugs and long distance kisses,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      You sound good Debbie! Cooking is such a soft meditative thing to do and at the end you GET something. I’m so sorry for your worries, your daughter is a pure hero. I wish I could say the same for Florida governor. It sounds like he doesn’t care. Prayers, deep breaths of Maine air, cooking, love … xoxoxoxo

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Thank you so much, especially for being so patient with me and my rants. I don’t do Twitter or Instagram, or even Facebook. That last one is by choice, as I feel they have allowed hateful posts that have resulted in violence and deaths and quite possibly changed the results of the 2016 election.
        Another Thank You. Back to my apple pulp. 😉

  96. Kristin Gjertsen says:

    Susan, you cannot imagine just how much your books and posts are helping me get through these hard days. I have been ordering your books from the county library system alone with other books about homemaking, cooking, finding peace in dark times. I do my part by staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask, being patient and kind to the people I meet, and doing what I can to keep our home clean, calm, and peaceful. I can always some some comfort and warmth reading your posts or one of your books. I just finished your book about England (and now I really want to go visit myself) and picked up Autumn at the library yesterday. You are a national treasure!

  97. Catharine says:

    I’m on your blog for the first time and I am really impressed with the way it is designed..You thought about every detail, even the recipe looks wonderful! I have so many tomatoes this year – crops were very generous for me- so I have to try it. My husband has enough of tomato soup and sauce so why not to try with your idea? What I have lots of are cherry tomatoes called ‘mascot’ from gardenseedsmarket.com/tomato-seeds-en/. Do you think that they will be appropriate for it?

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t know why not, they look delicious and homegrown taste so wonderful. Thank you for the compliments, I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. Come back and visit again!

  98. Margi Elena Duffy says:

    I am saddened by your loss. There will be days when you long to talk to her and long to hear her voice. Whenever I have a good day or difficult day I want to share it with her still. My best friend. I lost mine at 98 years old…but still in my heart too soon. Hold onto the goodness of her.

  99. Alisa luna says:

    Dear Susan, I’m so sorry to hear about your Mother. I lost Mine this April also. And that month I was diagnosed with ALS. Not a great month. Things change when your mommy is not around. But my hubby is fabulous. I’m going to buy your new Christmas book. We are in east bay California and it is Smokey again. I love all things Susan Branch. Please take care. ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      Oh my gosh Alisa, that is too much all at the same time, along with everything else. Sending my love and prayers for you, for clear blue skies, fresh air, and for your good health. xoxoxo

  100. Alisa Luna says:

    Dear Susan, I just read my last comments and they are so depressing. We managed to sit out and enjoy the sunset with friends while we had a few clear days. And I have shadow also in the kitchen My big golden retriever cooper. He always cleans the kitchen floor for us.

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