Good Morning You! February One! Already! In the middle of a storm, a wild nor’easter, on our way to Springtime! MUSICA!

Here’s to a month of good luck!

Our world is very basic these days: the house, the walk, the house, the walk, the PO, the market, the house, the walk. So grateful for the house, for the walk, and for all the wonderful people keeping our PO and market going! Not walking today, big storm here . . . but we still have the house! And the refrigerator, and the stove! We are doing good!

We were out the other day . . . it’s beautiful, even in winter, icy, peaceful, spirtual, healing. 

No two days are the same. This was waiting for us on the fence post. Someone dear trying to light up our world.🕯

When we walk I keep seeing these foot prints … I think it’s my shoe actually …

And when we’re heading home, I see it like this, upside down. Finally, I couldn’t help myself . . . I had to bend over and add a little bit to it . . .

Our frosty road meanders through the woods . . .

It’s beautiful in all seasons . . .

And then home . . . this is a big reason I love winter! A fire, right in the middle of the living room . . . still sort of amazing if you think about it!

Jack loves it too. He sleeps in my desk drawer (lined with a thick knitted blanket) while I work, but yesterday I walked through the living room, and there he was, all independent, a person of his own, enjoying the fire. My boy.

And these are our upstairs windows at sunrise . . . (note green seaglass for contrast in more ways than one)!

No two snowflake trails alike . . .

A luv-lee start to the new year . . . hoping February brings us an abundance of good news and hope, lightness of heart, wisdom, closer friendships, a peaceful mind, divine guidance, and all of it sprinkled with lots of critter cuddles. And an early Spring! We’ll find out tomorrow … it’s GroundHog Day! 

Here comes the sun!

And in the kitchen, we are ready in case we lose our electricity today! Oil lamps are filled, candles at the ready!

And in my studio . . .

I’ve been busy these quiet mornings . . . painting for the new 2022 calendars . . . thinking we will all be free by then and those calendars will be filled with travel and hug dates! Very joyful!

And here I am, making quilts the easy way, with watercolors! I’m also designing new Girlfriend cards for the Studio … and working on the quote book . . .

In case you’re new here and haven’t seen my studio, this is where I work! I’ve read that in the olden days, they called this room in our old house the “Music Room.” I love that it has creative DNA from before me and I get to add my own to it ~ in my house of creativity. When I first moved into my perch on the world … my old friend Carlton came and lined the walls in bookshelves, and painted them white. But I only had that one little art table, and nowhere to lay out big projects except the floor! (Speaking of Carlton, I saw him at the post office the other day … he came to my car window and said, “Hey Girlfriend!” Made me laugh!) (PS, don’t know who Carlton is? See my book Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams. You’ll love him!)

Anyway, all that was required was a trip to Ikea… Fitting this room together was like putting together puzzle pieces . . . We took our measuring tape with us and found some nice long work spaces with shelves that surrounded my art table perfectly . . .

Plus another long table against the wall . . . With a shelf above it for pictures of my beloveds, my mom and dad, my cats, and grandma and brothers and sisters and dearest friends, all here with me . . . and next to the clock, the signed photo of Mark Twain Joe gave me.💞 A treasure. The whole thing is a treasure room to me.💖 

And still more shelves on the other side of the room for special old books and Beatrix Potter . . . and another table. I am SET with the tables. Yet, I STILL need to use the back of the sofa and the living room floor when I lay out calendars! Sometimes my studio is nice and clean, but when I’m in the throes of designing . . . it looks like this ~ controlled chaos!

So what else? Our girlfriend Peggy sent me this photo of her work in progress ~ Look how good she’s doing! I’ve gotten so many of your photos . . . so fun to see! And our “For the Love of Books” Puzzle is back in stock in case you missed it the first time!

Joe handed me this article the other day . . . Light Up Your Brain!!! Staves off anxiety! Need lit, happy brains! Love it!

And here is the front window of my Studio. I feel responsible for the entertainment out there … brand new from Janie for the Valentines in our lives, my BELIEVE banner

Here it is in Janie’s cabinet! Nice big letters!

She made the perfect little envelope to go with it!

Perfect timing to turn over the February page of my calendar to this! Everyone I know is feeling stressed out, many experiencing anxiety and even anxiety attacks ~ we’re helping each other with reminders of self care … so this page could not come at a better time! I can’t TELL you how important it is during this time to take care of yourself…Stress is cumulative, chronic empathy is a wonderful thing, but these days, it could cause trouble, you will go along fine, thinking you are handling it, and then suddenly, it can turn to anxiety and be a threat to your health. So take a little time for yourself. One way to do it is turn off cable news and watch your sweet soft local news station. You’ll get news that matters, and some of it is even GOOD! Please try to give yourself as many Red Letter Days as you can!

This wonderful thing was made for me by one of our creative Girlfriends, Rachel! Isn’t it adorable? I get it out every year, I love it so much. So romantic! Makes snow look good!💞

This was breakfast last Valentine’s Day . . . oatmeal with walnuts, apples, and pomegranate seeds!👏 It’s the little things!

And this is the February page of the other wall calendar I did for 2021 (in case you don’t have it) … the Photo calendar . . . where I wrote about the Romance of Home . . .💓

Like this, because I enjoy perfecting . . . Valentine’s Day is perfect for it! This was from a party we had a couple of years ago . . . pure mooshey romance!

I got out my little collection of old valentines … in the olden days, these are the Valentines we exchanged in grammar school!

And Janie made us an adorable little banner to bring back those memories! She also made the envelope from pages in A Fine Romance (no two alike) just for Valentine’s day…💞 

So many of you know Sheri and Kellee . . . they’ve run my Studio in California for the last 20 years … close to 20 for Kellee and 10 for Sheri . . . very dear people to me. Here they are in the fall of 2019 out on our walk with us here on the island.

 And here they are, with Alfredo in the middle, another darling friend that has worked for me since 2001! Love these people! So, must tell you (hate to say this!) with lots of notice, but still a loss … Sheri has quit to focus her time on her very own Farmstand where she spends her days in still MORE creativity. I’m so happy for her … she deserves it! You can follow her on Instagram @honeycuttfamilyfarm. She lives very near the Studio so I’ll get to see her when we’re out there. She can’t get rid of me that easy!💘💘💘

This is the Studio inOne day last June a friend we knew who worked at the Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo (one of our favorite places) stopped by to say Hello to Kellee and Sheri and tell them the Apple Farm Gift Shop was temporarily closing.😢 Her name was Lauren, and she ran the warehouse there. One luv-lee serendipitous moment led to another . . . and after a nice long training from Sheri, Lauren is now working for US!!! How lucky is that? I don’t have a picture of her yet, but I will! So when you need help with an order, you can contact Lauren@susanbranch.com 💖 And when you do, be sure to tell her Welcome to the Neighborhood!Watch tomorrow and pray Phil doesn’t see his shadow (which he won’t if Pennsylvania is having weather anything like ours)! Then celebrate with what is now our traditional Phil dinner! Oven on to warm the house and cook dinner at the same time. A win-win! Stepping right over those 60 mile an hour winds and wild blowing snow!

Jack sends his everlasting love and wishes you every good thing! He says it will help if you remember the modern rule . . .You are in charge of what you do, what you believe, the people and inspirations you surround yourself with, and how you treat yourself.💞 See you later! Have a wonderful day! If our storm gets interesting, I’ll post some pictures on Instagram @susanbranchauthor!If you need something new and wonderful to watch, we are loving Ken Burns History of Jazz on PBS! Amazing old films and photos, history of our country, gorgeous music and dancing … you will love it!💌HERE’S TO YOU, BE A

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475 Responses to FEBRUARY ONE

  1. Debbie Allyn says:


  2. Suzanne says:

    Dear Susan ~ I absolutely love your advice
    about being your own valentine AND your
    own chaperone! Not a lot we can control
    these days, except the little things…..and
    the little things can make our world more
    sweet or more sour, however we choose.
    Thanks for this lovely slice of goodness.
    Happy Valentines Day! xo Suzanne

  3. Siobhan in Santa Monica says:

    All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart and I LOVE YOU!

  4. Susan Morgon says:

    We’re all in the same boat, aren’t with, with our lives so basic? But I love your thought of home, home , home. Truly it’s all we need, along with those we love who fill either it or places in our hearts. <3
    I'm hoping for a return to normal, as we all are, and fingers crossed it happens before 2022. But we'll keep our chins up and hope for the best!
    One thing that I hope 2021 brings us is your book Enchantment. I am so looking forward to it! Can you share any news on that front? ( And please forgive me if I've overlooked something about it.)
    The wonderful thing about February is that April isn't that far away!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s exactly the way I look at it too Susan. I’m working on the Calendars right now… hope to get back to Enchanted soon!

  5. Linda, near Seattle says:

    Hi Susan, Thank you for another lovely post. I love the reminders of all the things that bless us daily. There are days when my day at work is sad, as Covid-19 rears its ugly head, but I need to remind myself of my blessings. Thank you for sharing pictures of your precious Jack. We lost our kitty of 15 years a week ago, and I so enjoy seeing photos of the cats that belong to friends. On a happier note, I just finished reading your little Christmas book. I loved it!! It reminded me of some special holidays when I was growing up. What precious memories.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Joe, and Jack. Give Jack a cuddle from me.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry you lost your kitty! Its not good. Such a chunk of love we lose. I will cuddle Jack for you, and be so happy to do it. I’m so happy you liked my little book. Thank you for the kind words Linda, and Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

  6. Meg says:

    If you haven’t yet seen “All Creatures Great and Small” on PBS- you are in for a real treat!

  7. Lynette Strohbach says:

    Hi Susan, loved the blog! I particularly loved the rabbit you made out of your shoe print! How appropriate! I also wanted to recommend the new series All Creatures Great and Small on PBS Sunday nights. I’ve read the books many times and can’t resist the humor and grit this vet lived his life with! There are few authors that I have read several times, but yours and his books are exceptional. Thanks again, and keep the books coming!

    • Dianne says:

      Have you read Rosamunde Pilcher’s books? She is an author that I’ve read several times. In fact, I must admit that I re-read Winter Solstice every winter. If you are unfamiliar with her, she is the author of The Shell Seekers (as well as September, Coming Home, and several smaller books). I just finished watching season 1 of All Creatures Great and Small, and I am looking forward to season 2. I also plan to read the book while recovering from foot surgery. Isn’t the cast wonderful? Each character, even the minor ones, is so perfect. And the scenery… breathless!!!

  8. Pam V says:

    Thanks for another delightful bit of reading and imagery. Be well.

  9. Kathi in Oregon says:

    Happy February!!
    So nice to see your blog post in my in basket! They always make my day… the warm and cozy home fires and pictures…. soothe my soul. As do your positivity and encouragement. Thank you for sharing your studio with us and giving us a peek into your creative nest.

  10. Debbie says:

    Thank you Susan. I have been loving your books since the 90’s.

  11. Sally says:

    Thank you, Susan, for being a shining star offering us love and the beautiful in life!
    Happy February and Happy Valentine’s Day xo

  12. Lisa G. says:

    Here in PA we’ve had 14+ inches of snow which is unusual for our winters lately and caused my first graders to get 3 glorious snow days this week!
    I’m currently working on your puzzle (loving it!) and had to laugh when I saw the puzzle picture you shared… almost exactly where I am right now! We must all be putting the same “easy” parts of the puzzle together first! 🙂
    Thank you as always for your words of self care – anxiety like I’ve never known this past year has been hard for me (as well as the loss of my grandmother) and many I know- it just helps to be reminded to turn off the national news, take some quiet time and just be thankful for my family, my cats, my warm home and hope for a future with vaccines and travel again! Stay safe and warm and enjoy your beautiful boy Jack! He’s so sweet!

    • sbranch says:

      Also, reminding yourself, that YOU are in CHARGE, I find that helpful! Stay safe, it’s almost over!

  13. Kim Rose says:

    Thank you – Your posts always put me in such a great mood – all the stress of the day melts away. It must be magic! Love your studio update. Kimx

  14. Linda M Lepage says:

    SUSAN! Love, Love, LOVE this! February is my birthday, the 1st actually! Yay Me!!
    Always love reading these posts, sometimes when I have nothing else pressing, I read older posts (that I already read) 🙂
    I am wondering about that photo of the Valentine party you shared with all the yummy looking desserts, There is one that looks like a strawberry shortcake? Is there a recipe you would share?
    Hugs!!! to you and Joe and Jack 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Yay YOU, Linda! Happy Birthday Month! I think I just made an angel food cake, with gobs of whipped cream and strawberries … I really don’t remember! But that would definitely work! 🌸🌸🌸

  15. charlotte m. says:

    I love the garden in your studio. It looks so like the one in Martha’s Vineyard with it’s white picket fence and pretty flowers. I just turned my calendar over to February on Monday. I am enjoying each page as it comes up. I hung it at my desk where I sew, so I see it every morning. I am a quilter and I love your studio space. I have to have “my things” everywhere around me to inspire me in my creative pursuits. And always lovely to see Jack. My sister and I have been doing puzzles ever since I moved to Southern California, and we particularly enjoyed yours. I am going to wait a few months and do it again. Thank you for all you do to keep us uplifted during this difficult time. I truly appreciate it every time you are here.

  16. Care Woodard says:

    DaerSusan, I just reread all the LOVELINESS in your blog with today’s lunch:) DID I see extra mugs on your studio shelves?!!!! I got smart and ordered two of my favorite Go. Be. Love. mugs but before I got smart, I CRACKED my England’s green and pleasant land mug!!! Even lots of wishes, prayers, and efforts with boiling milk didn’t repair it. Someday will we be able to order more? Please, pretty please:)

    I’ve got a cure for the darkness of Winter, I light candles and put on the Little Women Soundtrack (Wynona Ryder version) and wash the dishes by candle light!! Also watching Last Tango In Halifax on Netflix. Have you seen it? Season four just out! I’ll watch All creatures Great and Small next; thanks for the tip Meg. Stay well everyone xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I just LOVE that Little Women … I liked it best of all until the new one, and maybe I still do. I haven’t seen the new one 47 times, so it’s not quite fair to decide yet! Washing dishes by candlelight, be. here. now. Couldn’t love it more. Haven’t seen Last Tango… I should look for it! Lovely to hear from you! xoxo

  17. Mary Bustamante says:

    Happy Valentines Day to you, too. I live in AG and love the picture of your garden here. Is that a hot wire I see running along your white pickets? My poor roses that are starting to leaf out are getting munched on by deer and nothing I use seems to deter them. With all the rain and now sunshine everything is starting to pop. As you know, the Groundhog’s prediction means nothing to us on the West Coast. Hope spring comes early for you there.

    • sbranch says:

      No hot wire … I only had deer eat my roses there once, and I went out and put a mixture of dish soap, hot pepper flakes, and something else, I forget, I found it on the internet, on them and for some reason, I have no idea why, they never came back!!! Yes, LOL, I know, who cares about the groundhog!!!

  18. This email could not have come at a better time. Needed to see all of your “positivity” when I turned to the February calendar page!! And the rest of the newsletter brought back many memories. I have a friend who owns a home in Vineyard Haven that she rents to friends for vacation purpose. My girls and I for years had one to two week vacations on the Vineyard every year in the summer. Rode our bikes or drove the road to the”Pond” to go to the beach. I love the look of the bookshelves in your studio, and fully comprehend the chaos when you are working on a project as that is the way my “craft room” looks most of the time.(I do scrapbooking, card making, various projects for the holidays and a nursing home in town) . I bought one of your puzzles and have enjoyed working on it-almost finished!. With the pandemic still keeping us social distancing I have been playing many of my CD’s that I have not used for a while and it has been fun re-establishing memories from why I had that CD to begin with. Love the Valentine hanging in the window that a friend made for you and Joe. “A Fine Romance” for sure!! Stay safe as the storms of winter have finally arrived for the Northeast area. I live on the coast of Connecticut so the landscape and the seascape can be spectacular for the sunrise and the sunsets this time of year, as well as the water waves when the winds are howling. The white blanket of snow from Monday’s blizzard has created a serene atmosphere in the neighborhoods and on the walking trails. Happy Valentines Day next week. Thank you again for all you do to give us lots of wonderful tips, recipes, musica, and all the items you continue to create for the store and your calendars.

  19. It’s always a red letter day for me when I see a blog post from you pop into my mail box Susan! Even if I don’t always comment, I do always read, over and over again at times. Did I read right! You are doing a quotes book! How very exciting! I simply adore collecting quotations and have done so for years! Your book will be a treasure I am sure. My friend Elaine gifted me with your Christmas book for Christmas and what a treasure! I loved it. It took me back to my childhood. Thank you for that! ( and thanks Elaine! I do have wonderful friends!) sad to read Sheri is moving on. She’s always been the one I’ve dealt with when ordering. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours! Happy to read however another special person is stepping into her shoes! (As if anyone less than special could ever work for you!) The groundhog did not see his shadow here in Nova Scotia. We had the whole ball of wax weather wise here yesterday! So an early Spring? Here’s hoping! Love everything you so generously share with us. You make life a sweeter, brighter place. My word for this year has been “HOPE.” Your posts are always so positive and filled with just that. Thank you for that! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  20. Debbie Boerger says:

    Woo Hoo, our Susan Branch jigsaw is on it’s way. Looking at the aftermath of the Snow-rain-sleet storm from safe inside. Huge mounds in our dooryard and on the gravel road from early morning plowing. We’ll take the water in any form we can get it.
    I finally ordered Netflix, and I look forward to some wonderful movies.
    Stay safe and healthy,
    Mucho Love from,
    Debbie in Downeast Maine

  21. Nancy Reinford says:

    Hi Susan,

    Well Punxsutawney Phil did it again, 6 more weeks of winter, Boo. He did look pretty chipper on TV though. I have lived in PA all my life. We moved from a suburb of Phila.( 30 miles from Phila) to near the center of the state, Williamsport two years ago. We had 20 inches of snow the last big storm and then an inch here and there. The other day we got 10 inches and then about 2 inches on top. We are suppose to get another big storm this week-end. I am glad I am retired and do not have to drive in it. We have 50 acres and I like to walk in the snow to see the different animal tracks, if my dog does not tramp over them first. Last evening we had 11 deer at our corn wagon. First the doe come and eat then the boys show up. Love it. I also love your studio. Mine is much, much smaller.
    Happy V day to you and Joe. Stay safe.

  22. jeanie says:

    So much to love here but thank you most for this visit to your studio. I love seeing other artists’ spaces and this one makes me smile! Functional and fun, warm and cozy, like you! What a glorious visit!

  23. Beverly Brewer says:

    Hi to Susan and Joe—Who doesn’t love the romantic Valentine month with fragrant bouquets, heart-shaped candy boxes and their delicious contents, freshly baked treats, candleglow, lace doilies and RED, lots of glamorous red?! Susan, you embellish and add your extra special touch to the holiday with your heartfelt quotes. I was watching Jeopardy last week and one of the clues contained a beautiful quote for which the contestants were to identify the author: “I’ll tell you how the sun rose—a ribbon at a time.” I thought of you right away and could visualize a pretty watercolor painting of golden, orange and pink-hued ribbons of pastel colors. I looked up the entire poem and the third line (not included in the clue} was just as lovely—“the steeples swam in amethyst”. The poem continues with a meadowland and village description with all the trimmings. The answer was Emily Dickinson. A few days later, as I was re-reading your Martha’s Vineyard book, I came to the portion where your Dad and Jeanie visited you. This part was when the three of you were on the beach eating lobsters and the sun was beginning to set (pp 117-118). You wrote “the sky turned to pink then lavender and peach”, but also “rippling ribbons of crimson and sapphire”. I thought it was noteworthy that you and Emily Dickinson both described the sunrise and sunset as ribbons of color and how lovely were your descriptions. Happy Febby with love to you both from Bev

  24. Lisa says:

    Susan, you inspired me to search out my grade school Valentine’s from 1971 to craft my own vintage banner! Love it!

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

    Hello Susan, Greetings Girlfriends. well we have had some wild and wacky weather here, rain, snow, winds and ice!!! we had over 4 inches of rain here and 2-3 inches of snow and ice. it has been fun, and really wacky. the cats are curling up near the wood stove these days, they love the warmth and look so cute and adorable sleeping by the fire…. and quiet!! this pandemic has really gotten to them, they chase the birds and blowing leaves from window to window and have more cat fights than i care to think about lately. you just hear a loud meowr its on with the fight. of course this wacky weather has slowed down the remodeling on the hen house, we have the nesting boxes down and cleaned off, but we may have to redo the walls… simply overlay some sturdy plywood on the walls and anchor them down good and put the nesting boxes back on. unforutnately our water container has to be replaced and this time it is going to be a metal one, the rodents ( rats and mice) have chewed through the spigot and it leaks all over the feeding area, and we don’t need soggy feed for the ducks right now. our little female duck is egg sitterin’ on 4-5 eggs in a nice cozy nest she made in the fresh straw laid down last week, looks like we may have some new little ducklings to add to the new new ones coming in June!!!! but first it is rodent removal time… we have been laying poison in the pump shed to keep the rats and mice from chewing the extension cords to the heat lamps to keep the water pump motor from freezing and leaving us high and dry and we seem to be getting quite a few, i know i am seeing less but still there are enough to give us concern over the little ducklings safety. may put mama and her eggs into the nursery area where our barn cat can help protect them, she is very good about baby chicks and ducks… she won’t go after them but if a mouse or rat goes near… she is after them. our barn owl is also getting quite a few of the rodents, so hopefully between the owl and the pussycat we can get that rodent population down to bare minimum or totally gone. oh yeah before i forget Oregon’s groundhog, Chuck, saw his shadow along with Phil and cave junction’s hedgehog saw her shadow as well… 6 more weeks of winter i guess. oh well time to keep on remodeling the hen house and making it rat proof!!! maybe i can finally get that greenhouse built and have a place to start the veggie plants for the summer garden. we started late last summer and of course hubby forgot to build a higher fence around the garden to keep the deer out… guess who had a munchy party last summer???? live and learn. hope you are safe and warm during the storms headed your way, stay well and stay stay safe. have a great day and sending lots of hugs for everyone. hugs… 😀

    • sbranch says:

      Keeping busy … best way to survive a pandemic!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        its the only way, plus we have those baby chicks and ducklings arriving in June, we don’t have a whole lot of time left the way things are going right now. we have to get that hen house remodeled, and rat proofed by then

        • sbranch says:

          BUSY!!!! With good things. That take your mind off other worries. SUCH a good things, baby chicks and ducks! Who could ask for more! xoxoxo

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            can’t wait to see the baby chicks and get them into their new home, guess i just love little peeps and quackers (ducklings). have the wading pool all cleaned out and waiting to fill up for the ducklings, maybe i should have ordered some goslings as well . hugs…. 😀

          • sbranch says:

            New life, almost spring!🐥🌸🌱

  26. BJ Beavin aka Willow Pippa! says:

    Loved your February blog! It had everything in there and the pictures are always great. And, of course, Jack, who doesn’t have to work very hard to steal the show! He is too cute. For the last ten days or so I have been taking online classes that require quite a bit of study and time, so just now sat down now to take time to read your blog and it was a nice change from all the hard work I have been engaged in. Thanks again and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! ❤️

  27. Barbara Scott says:

    Just had to let you know that I just bought my husband the sailboat cup so that I can take back my Red Letter Day cup that he has been using. I miss tea in my cup. I can’t wait to give him his own Susan Branch cup on Valentines day. Thanks for being there.

  28. janeen kelley says:

    While I truly love and look forward to every post and email you send, it would a SPECIAL GIFT, indeed if you would create a playlist of all your favorite songs to read your posts to. I LOVE all the songs you choose for Musica!!

  29. Patricia Edde says:

    Penguin, Penguin Susan! (I thought I would add a little diversity to the 1st of the month),also I wanted to remember to tell you about a wonderful movie on Netflix. It’s called “Penguin Bloom” and I think it is an exceptionally lovely movie. I hope you get a chance to watch it.
    I hope that the 3 of you survived the Nor’easter (not being a lass from the East coast I’m not sure if I punctuated that right). The interesting thing about the East vs the Midwest (and I find it interesting that they call it the Midwest – why not the Mideast or the Mideastwest?) is that unless the East coast gets a huge dump of snow, like say 5 feet, it melts faster than the snow in the Midwest. Ours will hold, onto the death, until Spring or the relocation of Hades, whichever comes first and I get to look at Bix’s yellow pee spots until that time (no beautifully fluffy white snow for us tough Norwegians). I have decided that I no longer like Winters. They are fine in someone else’s state but not mine, but the question is where then do I go and do I have another move in me at 70. I am always watching “House Hunters” or looking on Zillow but it seems that anymore the cheapest house comes in at $350,000 and my checkbook looks on at that number in horror. “Cest la Vie said the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell” what will be or not be. Maybe I should play the lottery and if I won then I could have “oh David” Bromsted find me my “Lottery Dream Home”. If you haven’t watched this show on HGTV then you can ignore the “oh David” part. I also could move to Waco and have Chip and Joanna Gaines do a “Fixer Upper” for me, or maybe I should move to England and rent a room from the Queen. What to do, what to do.
    Anyway, moving on from the above frivolity, I just want to say that I love The Apple Farm. When I lived in California (the San Fernando Valley to be exact) I started going there for every birthday since I was 40. I would take myself there and spend 3 days having a great time with me, myself and I (we got along so well). For my 50th birthday my friends sent me to Martha’s Vineyard for 3 nights and 4 days. First I went to The Apple Farm as per usual and then they arranged for a sub to cover my class when I was gone for the extra 4 days. They would have come with me but they spent all of their money on my trip (pretty good friends don’t you think). They booked me into 2 different Band B’s. Right away I went to rent a car and found out that my license had expired, bummer, so I walked around instead. I did get a driver to take me on a tour around the island. I loved the lobster (of course) and went into Carly Simon’s store (was that in Edgertown? I love her voice and saw her once when she came out as a surprise during James’s concert at the Universal Ampitheater) and just had a great time going into all of the stores, going to the beach, eating seafood and seeing all of the houses. That, I really must say, was a very special birthday – The Apple Farm and Martha’s Vineyard, “who could ask for anything more.”
    Well, “I really must go – but baby it’s cold outside” and it truly is but I mustn’t overstay my welcome.
    As always, a bundle of love to you, Joe and Jack from me and my bundles of love, Livvie, Bix and Silas – “here’s looking at you kid”

    • sbranch says:

      My mom used to tell us about her Iowa snowstorms when we were growing up … and how she would get to school. Our snow melts fast because we’re in the water! Keeps us a little warmer, most of the time! Yes, your friends are WONDERFUL, sending you out and about. True love! Carly’s store was here in Vineyard Haven. House hunting is like 90% of the fun! Here’s looking at you (and the kitties) right back, Pat! xoxo👏❤️

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Penguin Bloom was just Wonderful. I just started on Netflix, and I’m going to have to use more self control.
      I recommend Dig, as well, and Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Also….check out The Octopus, My Teacher…lovely.

  30. Carol says:

    Thank you for another beautiful, warm blog post. I loved seeing your collection of old valentines again-the ones you got in school. I remember preparing for Valentines Day at my suburban Philadelphia elementary school. We would take 2 white paper plates, cut off 1/4 of one, invert it onto the 2nd paper plate, staple them togetheraround the diameter, write our name & decorate with crayons. The cut off plate would make a “pocket” for the valentines to be deposited into. They were so little in the 50’s – I wish I had kept mine. I was always so thrilled to receive a valentine from the “tough boys” of the class. Their cards were always the mushiest – which made no sense at all! Oh & another thing – I needed a throw rug for inside the kitchen door and remembered sketching some darling blue ones in my journal from the photo in one of your older blog posts. Which sent me flipping through my older journals until I found the sketch. Fortunately I noted the name of the rug maker -Dash and Albert. So I now have a bee-utiful blue denim rag rug gracing my kitchen floor! Thanks for always providing inspiration for my heart and even some practical rug inspirations.

    • sbranch says:

      I remember those! Didn’t we learn about the simple things wherever we went? And weren’t they wonderful!? Yes! Love Dash and Albert rugs! Glad you found them … such wonderful colors and choices! Perfect for redecorating at this time of year when all hearts are turning to spring whether it’s coming or not!🌸

  31. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Susan! I don’t know if you have seen Victoria magazine, but I LOVE it! The most recent March/April issue has a Beatrice Potter themed article and photos. I saw it and thought of you immediately!!

    • sbranch says:

      Victoria came and photographed our picnic at Castle Cottage ~ I think they fell as much in love with Beatrix as we did! How could you not! I’ll have to pick up the new issue! Thank you Elizabeth!

  32. Kindred Kate says:

    As always, Susan, I was thrilled to see your blog had arrived! I loved the quote from Albert Einstein, “The solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” It’s perfect for “Pandemic Prison!”
    The pictures you included for your 2022 calendar are very impressive. The portrait and the hands holding the apples? Wow, they are so well done & realistic; I envy your talent.
    I can’t wait for your cards to be available; will your “ Be Your Own Valentine “ picture be included? Also looking forward to your quote book. I am taking an online calligraphy class so would enjoy having your quotes for practicing.
    The best photo of your studio was the “messy” one or should I say the “in the midst of being creative” one?! I showed it to my husband & said, “See? Even Susan Branch has lots of stuff in her studio” to explain the condition of mine!! Haha!
    I used to be an elementary school librarian so I was very excited to buy your jigsaw puzzle. I also sent one to another former librarian friend who gushed over it. One month later I received another puzzle from her called “BookClub.” Uh oh… look what you’ve started! I also read the newspaper article about jigsaw puzzles; I knew there must have been a reason I like them so much- good for your brain AND for your peace of mind.
    I was surprised by the photo of the studio in CA. When I was in SLO last time, I drove by what I thought was the correct address for your studio but it was just a building that was not open & looked nothing like the one with the garden you posted. Next time we drive through SLO I would love to visit it. Is the address available & will it be open for business?
    Am reading The Jane Austen Society, a novel by Natalie Jenner. It is about a small group of people living in Chawton just after WWII who fear that the beloved home of Jane Austen will be bought by greedy developers. They fight to preserve it. There are many references to all her novels. I think you might enjoy it since you were actually in Chawton! And , of course, All Creatures Great & Small. Those narrow roads & hedgerows inches from you car have not changed!!

    • sbranch says:

      Newsy news .. thank you, Kate … yes, I don’t think those roads will ever change! I hope not!

    • Dianne says:

      Do you happen to have a link for the newspaper article about jigsaw puzzles? I was unsuccessful in my search for it. I started doing jigsaw puzzles agin about two years ago, and, I must admit, I am once again addicted. I had a bad habit, while in college, of starting a puzzle just before “dead week”. Then I couldn’t start studying (cramming) until the puzzle was finished! Fortunately, I am good at jigsaw puzzles. I am an avid reader, so I will have to look for The Jane Austen Society. I hope to visit Chawton when I next visit England and walk in her footsteps. I visited Bath when I was there last and had tea in one of the attractions dedicated to her (I don’t recall the name right now, but it was not the Pump Room. Just looked it up- thanks to Google- the Regency Tearoom in the Jane Austen Centre). I read somewhere that Jane Austen’s house in Chawton has been threatened by COVID due to loss of funds. Keeping my fingers crossed, as I really want to visit. Wouldn’t a Susan Branch Booklover’s mug be absolutely perfect? Just a hint!!

      • sbranch says:

        It was in our paper, so I don’t have a link. But I too that photo at high resolution, you SHOULD be able to use your fingers to widen it and read it right on the blog. I hope! You will LOVE the Jane Austen house in Chawton. The desk where she wrote her books is there, and so many of her personal things. It’s a charming house with a lovely garden in a beautiful country village.I did do a book cup, Jack was in it! I think it might be all sold out. I should do another! Yes, we sent a little money to help Chawton House keep going… it’s tough the world over these days! Also sent some to Orchard House. Want them all to be there when we get out of here!!! 📚

  33. Ann R says:

    Thanks for the cheerful blog post you always perk me up. It’s rather cold for Hawaii at the moment there is a cold front coming through the islands. Haleakala on Maui had snow yesterday. Last night I woke up freezing & had to put on my winter coat (saved for mainland trips!) because I normally don’t have the need for heavy blankets. It was 61 degrees last night(yes I can hear the laughter from you mainland girlfriends)! Hawaii houses don’t have insulation, but last night it would have helped. I had to turn on my oven to warm up my apartment! On the Covid vaccine front my sister, 95 yo mom, and brother in Seattle Tacoma area got their shots, as my other brother in Ohio. I’m grateful for their good health & fortune, as for Hawaii they are still working on getting 75 and older and essential workers shots (we didn’t get as many as some states). Also grateful our Covid rates are low but at my age and health still ever vigilant. Sue, Joe, handsome Jack have a wonderful Valentines day and Aloha!

    • sbranch says:

      We’re working on 75 and older here too … must be something about being on an island! So happy for your family! My friends and family in other places are starting to get theirs too… very exciting … it’s finally happening!

  34. Linda Freymark says:

    Hi Susan and girlfriends, it’s always nice to hear from all of you!!! Susan, I so loved the pictures of the frost on the windows! I grew up in icey No. Dak. where the winters were brutal. But mom would always point out the patterns on our windows—“Look what Jack Frost painted for us!!!” Most were definately works of art! I’m blessed with so many wonderful memories! Love and take care!

  35. Sharon Byars says:

    I must tell you I made the Pineapple Ribs and the Pudding for dinner last night. My husband was impressed! Delicious. It is so nice to have a treat when we are always eating at home. Thank you!!

  36. Susan,
    I started watercolor again after a long draught. I started a 2022 calendar to make and give to family in December as their gifts. I have one month completed. My goal is to work a bit every month. I have focused on my kids now I am focusing on me.
    I read your February one email. I loved your organized art “desk/world.” I zoomed in to see the details of your office. Once I reach my desk, I am somewhere else. I bet you are too. I can’t make a heart ever that is worthy of my okey dokey. Any suggestions?
    Thank you for your peace you send. Thank you for the beach photos, I am an water girl in Buffalo, snow. We have Lake Erie and I wouldn’t leave the seasons.
    I give you peace and comfort in your home and the gardens you love. Thank you. Kathleen

  37. Franny Ramsey says:

    Dear Susan,

    My 88 year old Mom, Monique, has been an avid jigsaw puzzler for as long as I can remember. As a child, I used to stand by her side watching as she magically joined the pieces together until a larger picture came into view. She passed on her joy of puzzling to 5 of her 6 children, including me, and through the years and hundreds of puzzles later we have learned some of her great puzzle making tips. I had hoped to surprise her with your puzzle by joining her in making it after Christmas, but unfortunately COVID is cramping our style. So until such a time when she has been vaccinated, and I can return to visiting her inside her house, I’ll just have to be patient and wait. I did break down and made your puzzle after the holidays and Susan, it was pure joy! Not only was it challenging and fun (and addictive), but I thought the quality of the puzzle was excellent. The pieces fit nicely together and they stayed that way without slipping or coming apart. I hope you’ll consider making more! In the meantime I thought I would share my Mom’s puzzle-making tips with you and all of the girlfriends.

    First you need a flat surface on which to make the puzzle. A tabletop works great, but only if you don’t intend to be using it for a while. Another option is to make a puzzle board by cutting a large piece of sturdy cardboard (make sure the dimensions can accommodate the size of the puzzle) and gluing foam weather stripping around the edges so that the puzzle pieces don’t fall over the edge. The beauty of this option is that you can move it from one room to another or one surface to another whenever you want to. Mom has several of these boards in varying sizes that she stores upright behind the door of her guest bedroom.

    Next, you’ll need 3-4 cookie trays (jelly roll pan style) or serving/cafeteria trays. These you will use to place all of the puzzle pieces. After you take them out of the box, distribute them between the trays and turn all the pieces right side facing up. As you do this separate out the straight edge pieces and put them on a separate tray, again, right side facing up. This is a little time consuming at the onset, but it’ll save you a lot of time sorting later. Trust me, you’ll be glad you took the time. What’s great about the trays is that they keep the pieces contained and you can stack them one on top of the other.

    Now you’re ready to begin puzzling! Start by joining the straight edge pieces together on your puzzle board until you’ve created the border. Once the border has been established take a look at the box cover and decide which section, either by color or design that you wish to work on. Sort through each individual tray and pull out all of the yellow, or all the lettering or all the hearts (whatever strikes your fancy) and focus on assembling those pieces. This helps narrow down the field and gives you something smaller to focus on rather than being overwhelmed by all of those other pieces. As you assemble these sections refer back to the box cover to determine their placement within the border on the board. Eventually, all those sections will connect and TA DA!, you will have finished the puzzle.

    Happy Puzzling and Happy Valentine’s Day!


    Franny R

    • sbranch says:

      What a handy helpful thing … thank you so much for sharing Franny!!! Please tell your mother I said hello … yes “cramping our style” is an understatement! Can’t wait till it’s over!!!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      That’s our strategy, too, Franny. All this winter we have one jigsaw going.
      He made a sturdy cardboard piece that’s huge. The bottom has a piece of leftover wood trim. I can’t work on them too long, as the back really screeches at me.
      I just that minute got my Susan puzzle. We’ll start on it as soon as Tom finishes this one.
      Debbie in Maine, bright sun, very cold.

  38. Peg says:

    Thank you soooo much for this wonderful time we have together. My dear husband of 50 years passed away on Jan.10 of COVID. As you can imagine my life is upside down right now but I’m taking your advice to heart. My daughter and I had massages the week after he was buried. We were both so needing to to take care of ourselves. We continue to check in with each other and treat each other to things that have slipped away. The other night she brought me a Squirt soda pop for dinner. Haven’t had one in years! What a great surprise. And the great thing: none of the treats we’ve given each other are budget busting. But so thankful for her time and love. My son lives further away (about an hour) but he’s coming over every other Saturday and oh! the stories and memories that fly while we are all together!

    Sorry this is so long but I feel like we’ve been friends for 30 years. Ever since I bought your first book at Costco those many years ago.

    Finally, there’s a wonderful jazz musician from the 30-40’s era named Chet Baker. Give him a listen. Not melancholy but oh how mellow.

    Love to you and Joe!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Peg, I’m so very sorry. I’m so glad you’re helping you help you. It’s such a difficult thing to do sometimes. And very lovely that your children are part of it. Yes, it’s the little things (little squirts) that mean the most. As you know it’s just a day at a time, do the 5 things today that you know will help, and then today will be gone by with love, and on to the next. Blessings from me to you and yours. XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Wish for you healing and love. Hope you will be able to feel all the hugs from this amazing place that Susan provides. I like Chet Baker as well.
      Debbie in Maine

  39. Debbie Noyola says:

    I just love Jack. I love your blog. Bright spot in my day! I’m 62 & just started dabbling in watercolor. I’ve wanted to forever. You have been part of my inspiration to give it a try. Thanks. Hugs from Washington. ((()))

    • sbranch says:

      Good for you! You just never know unless you try. And don’t forget how much it helps to keep doing it … practice makes a huge difference!

  40. Jena says:

    You answered my question even before I asked it fully to myself as I scrolled. Crazy because as I was looking at all the organization and space, and flat surfaces with barely an 8.5×11 out of place I thought…..’I wonder if all that order makes “flow” harder?’…..then I strolled and scrolled and there it is….the flow in all its glory!

    Great one this month. Thanks Susan!

  41. Lou Ann Gieringer says:

    Are you out of calendars on this site?

  42. Debbie Boerger says:

    I just began watching the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. I read the book when it came out. Just delightful, but the movie alludes to some of the horrors of the Blitz, and the clothes are wonderful. Love the actress. She’s in a new movie, Dig, with a fabulous performance by Ralfe Finnes (sp?) I was overjoyed that the movie actually was pretty much true to the actual event…the discovery of the Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon ship burial in Essex. Finnes is so very wonderful, as are the entire cast. So…just a little bit of English diversion while we stay safe at Home.
    I just ordered another set of your biographical books. Don’t know when I’ll get back to Tampa, and having them here allows me to lend them out. My dear up the road neighbor, a librarian, who is also an avid Anglophile, introduce me to You, Dear Lady by putting all 3 on my porch! One good turn should be passed on.
    Mucho Thanks for you and all these lives you allow us to share.
    We are Not alone, are we,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      Hi honey! We just finished a little series called Pretend it’s a City … it’s a long interview of Fran Liebowitz and her take on New York City … interviewed by Martin Scorsese who obviously LOVES her sense of humor! Always looking for something new to watch, this was fun. Loved Dig and Guernsey Literary Society, too! No, we are not alone.💞

  43. Shannon Harms says:

    Thanks for another beautiful post! I, too, love puzzles and am looking forward to getting yours!

  44. Susie Durrschmidt says:

    What a heart warming post. Thank you Susan (and Jack) for all those reminders to cherish the little things in our days. It is snowing again now and I have a difficult time getting through winter. I find myself saying out loud “it’s only winter, after all…” I keep my thoughts on being a day closer to daffodils. I am drinking my wonderful tea from ‘A Red Letter Day’ SB mug. Stay snuggly and warm. Make cookies. xo

    • sbranch says:

      I know, especially this year! Yes, I keep thinking spring.🌼🌼🌼 What a cheerful thought it is. Love how you’re giving yourself little Red Letter Moments … it’s how we get through! 💞

  45. Janice B Smith says:

    Good Sunday Morning Susan,
    Once again, you make us smile and feel positive. Inspiring us to start thinking about Valentine’s Day, Spring and all things wonderful. I saw the post about the new puzzle availability, went online and sent for the puzzle and a red Valentine’s Day cup for my friend in Morro Bay. And in that line of thinking…..my daughter and I started chatting about future travel. In 2015 we booked a crossing on the QM2….but were unable to go at that time due to a Championship Pop Warner (grandson) WDW trip that trumped the crossing…lol. I have always wanted to do the crossing due to your first book…”A Fine Romance” that you and Joe took and I read about in 2013. (It has been on my “bucket list”) Well, I have also taken a few small group tours via “Discover Europe” with my Mom when she was alive. I recieved their newsletter….as COVID restrictions are letting up (fingers crossed) and we are all thinking ahead…..started thinking about travel…..so online and then phone call I went. We could do theOne thought led to another and we booked the crossing for May 15th, 2022!! Now, in the conversation with Cunard…..I let them know that YOU and Joe are the reason for me booking that crossing due to your story, “Falling in Love with the English Countryside”. The agent wrote it all down and said it was going to check our our (your) blog. I told her that Cunard has probably had many girlfriends booking due to your book, which is the absolute truth. You have inspired so many of us to travel and see the beauty that is out there. I thank you again for all your inspiration and positiveness. You are a shinning light to us all.
    Cheers (a Pims Cup)
    Jan from Northern CA

  46. Amy from Wisconsin says:

    Dear Susan,
    I finally took the time to sit down and read the blog. Thank you. Again. Every time I read your blog I feel like I am getting a very BIG HUG!
    I absolutely love the quote from Allen Chambers on:
    The Grand Essentials of Happiness.
    Thank you.
    Stay warm, currently – 4.4 on our thermometer here in Wisconsin.

  47. Ann Pieta says:

    Dear Susan, I can’t thank you enough for sharing awhile ago, about radio.garden!! It’s sooo wonderful to listen to radio from Ireland, Scotland, wherever my heart fancies!! This has been such a gem to discover. Please share it again – just in case someone didn’t see it, “pretty please”? as our little grandaughter says so sweetly <3 Thank you, bless you!!

  48. Janice B Smith says:

    Good Morning from Northern CA Susan.
    Well, my daughter and I just booked a “crossing” to England for May 2022 on the Queen Mary. We are so excited! In speaking to the agent, a very nice young lady named Vanessa…..I told her it was all your doing….lol. After reading your first book “A Fine Romance” and the wonderful time you and Joe had on the Queen Mary, we have dreamed of going. She asked about you and said that she was going to check out our “Girlfriend” blog. Also that they pay attention to how folks hear about their trips…..maybe they’ll give you a freebee next time you and Joe head over? Wouldn’t that be great……I think you said you were going again? Anyway, I also saw that you had more puzzles in and went online and ordered it…I missed the first bunch you had put out. (I love puzzles!) and also another tea cup, the red one “champagne hearts” and the Fairy Tale tea for a friend for Valentine’s Day. Perfect gift.
    I was wondering about the cup you had on your work table in front of the scissors? It has three tea cups stacked on top of each other? Has that cup been available or was it one you did for yourself? Just wondering, I loved it. Well, as usual you have inspired us to get out and go. I have lots of planning and dreaming to do in the next year and a half before heading across the pond…..lol. We are doing well out here in N. CA. More rain coming our way so that is a good thing as we sure need it. I’m still going through my Mom and Dad’s home finding all sorts of treasures and giving books and clothes new homes at our local thrift shop to help others. Over 55 years of things they accumulated living in that house. Mom was a librarian and so she had her own reference library on many subjects. Wow….I didn’t know she had so many. They traveled and enjoyed 90 and 85 years of life….67 of it together. I have no complaints growing up here in N. CA. They were the best parents ever and gave us so many experiences to look back on. Opps….sorry this was so long.
    Thanks again for all your positive thoughts and hugs to you and Joe and Jack.
    Jan from Northern CA

    • sbranch says:

      Good for YOU Janice, how wonderful! Something truly wonderful to look forward to! The Come. Sit. Stay cup… it was available, but we’re all sold out … maybe I should make it again? It’s one of my favorites! Love hearing about your parents … that’s a bittersweet job of tending to your parents house. But filled with memories you will keep forever. Nothing beats a happy childhood. It’s what I wish for every child. Sending love . . . xoxo

  49. Donna says:

    Hi Susan!

    I wrote to you last month feeling a little (lot) panicky, and I wanted to let you know that I am okay now! You responded with such kindness and empathy, it really helped. Now we are buried in fluffy snow, sidewalks cleared, sun shining, and it’s gorgeous out, and snugly warm inside. I am on a total news blackout – not even local news! – using this time to recover and recharge my batteries. I am even looking forward to Valentine’s Day; haven’t felt like celebrating for a long time, but now feel like baking heart-shaped sugar cookies and decorating with red icing. Thank you for wonderful ideas – for being a rock in a stormy sea; I know you also have your moments, so am also sending love and hugs for you. I have a feeling everything I want to say has already been said 412 times already (!) so I will just say agree with all of your other commenters (girl friends!) and thank you for taking the time to respond to my earlier post…

    Best wishes to you, Joe and Jack –


    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Donna … yes, stress sneaks up on you, and can turn very nasty… I’m so happy you’re feeling better. I do have to watch out too, remember to feed myself from the well of sweetness! Stay safe! xoxo

  50. Debbie Boerger says:

    For Pat Addison, Cave Hill Junction, Oregon….
    I so enjoy your real life, “All Creatures Great and Small” blog comments! Something about those tiny creatures and the little peeps they give out that goes right to my heart. I remember as a child in the Mississippi Delta staying up all night to keep the hot water bottle recharged so the newly hatched chicks would survive. The hen had been taken by a fox. These were Free Range chickens and geese on my cousin’s farm. I learned how much work was involved keeping a hen house clean and safe from doing care duty for our wonderful next door neighbors here in Maine. I was happy to do it, as the fresh eggs are so good.
    Hope the rest of Winter treats you well, Pat.
    Debbie in very cold Maine….where it’s finally Real Winter

    • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

      Hello Debbie, wow what a wonderful experience. when it got too cold here to keep little chicks and ducklings out in the nursery we brought them inside to be near the wood stove and kept a heat lamp over them to really help them stay warm. sometimes we would help “mama hen” out by putting a hot hot water bottle in the nest with her in a spot where we could keep it covered and let some of the babies curl up next to it. now we finally have a brooder to keep the babies in to help them stay warm and safe. since there are no mommy hens with these babies we are going to have our hands full keeping them warm, but thank heavens we are getting them in June and not now. it is a job, but i don’t mind, fresh eggs are the best… beats store bought any day . care to come around when we get the new babies and lend a hand???? our neighbors next door can’t wait for the new arrivals. we have quite a list of breeds for the hen house….. speckled sussex, welsummers, buff and white orpingtons, bielefelders, lemon cuckoo niederrheiner, buttercupsand for the ducklings… blue swedish, the goslings are a mixed lot so we will find out when we get them.. can’t wait. i love surprises!! 😀

  51. Donna Squires says:

    The world needs more love every day!
    Happy Valentine’s Day, Susan!

  52. Linda says:

    Hi Susan and all, thanks for warm and cozy blog…it’s always appreciated. I love your icy windows, makes me so jealous!! Our azaleas are starting to come out…every year they start earlier and earlier. It’s been chilly here, just like they like it. Ah, Good old Florida. ( north Florida). The redbuds and dogwoods are next! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Joe and that sweetheart💕Jack.


  53. Dear Susan, the warmest wishes for a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
    I just saw this on Twitter & thought you’d really enjoy it (it’s a takeoff on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, British style): pbs.twimg.com/media/EuNDEu2XIAkPhMA?format=jpg&name=large
    With a big Valentine’s hug, Loraine

  54. sbranch says:

    Test one two three. 😆

  55. Linda L. Miller says:

    Hello Susan,

    I’m really late in responding to your February blog….somehow overlooked it in my email.
    So happy to discover it today while deleting my old emails! Loved a run-down on your daily routines …similar to everyone else’s, I imagine, touring your studio and seeing all your interesting nooks and crannies, and reminding us all to take care of ourselves during these trying times! Your photos never disappoint me…..you have such unique ways of illustrating your examples. Love all your poetry, wisdom, and nature scenes. In short, I love your blogs!
    Looking forward to Spring and the time when we can get out and about!
    continue to stay safe and happy,

  56. Debbie Boerger says:

    This morning I was catching up on the comments here….and there was MarieFromNovaScotia!!! Marie, I’ve been looking for you and wondering how you are “settling in”. Also, really enjoyed your newest Blog.
    Don’t know where in Nova Scotia you are living, but we are right across from you in Down East Maine…on the southern edge of the Bay of Fundy. We have missed going across the border so very much. Looking forward to getting back to Nova Scotia when our isolation is done.

    Don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Stuart McLean, who died a few years ago. He was a much loved radio broadcaster for the CBC. We here in Almost Canada just adored him and his hilarious ongoing stories about Dave and Marly and their fictional family and neighborhood. He did live shows of the so called Vinal Cafe all across Canada. I think you can listen on pod casts.

    Stay safe and warm, Very best wishes,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, here in “almost Canada!” xoxo

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Almost Canada. Is that like being a little bit pregnant? Exciting news that Harry and Megan are expecting. Lots of royal babies this year and an almist Royal – Kate’s suster Pippa us expecting her second. Loved Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe. You can find him on youtube. Worth searching out. It’s lovely to have Marie back home in Canada.
        Hugs, Elaine

        • Debbie Boerger says:

          Thanks, Elaine, I’ll look for Dear Stuart on utube.
          Tom and I can’t wait to get back to Canada…a favorite being Ottawa. Such a wonderful, compact city with great open air markets and fabulous museums. We’ve driven and camped all along your southern provinces, Atlantic to Pacific and back, several times.
          Debbie in “Almost Canada”!!! Maybe they’ll let us in with our vaccination certificates.

    • SYLVIA in Seattle says:

      I used to listen to the Vinal Cafe here in Seattle. Was sad to have it end.

  57. Debbie Boerger says:

    A cautionary tale from a gal who saw snow maybe 3 times in her childhood in the Mississippi Delta. When there is a layer of ice on top of snow, be Very cautious.
    Our neighbor up the road, 77, slipped while putting her “grippers” on her boots. Fractured her femur. Her wonderful husband, 87, drove her down to Portland for surgery…putting in pins. She was born and raised in Massachusetts, so even a pro can slip on ice. We’re getting our road and driveway sanded today, and Tom will put down the snow melt stuff on their entry way on our way into Ellsworth. She’s still in hospital, probably very frustrated.

    It is stunningly beautiful out there, as the top layer of sleet glitters in the brilliant sun. Ice on our little bay as well. Mr. T. gets his second dose of vaccine on Saturday, I’ll get mine 2 weeks later. I know it doesn’t make us immune, but it seems to be a lovely light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Thoughts are turning to a Family Reunion…and Travel! Tom picked up A Fine Romance, and is enjoying it!! I’ve put a little suggestion in his ear…..maybe a trip over to Old Blighty on the Queen Victoria? I think I remember you and Joe sailed on her out of Florida.
    We certainly haven’t spent any money in the last year, so we’ll look at the budget. Go out with a Bang, I say. 😉

    Thank you for All that you do, Dear Lady,
    Debbie in Sparkling Down East Maine

  58. Sue says:

    Aw, what a lovely read/sweet pictures!
    I loved visiting the Apple Farm shop when my son was attending Cal-Poly SLO!

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

    Hello Susan, Howdy Girlfriends. well we have had tons of rain and sleet this week and the possibility of more snow for the weekend. the remodeling is going slow, but mama duck is doing fine in the new nursery with all her eggs… all 13 of them. we are looking forward to new ducklings this spring. we also went ahead and ordered 4 goslings, the weeder package from the hatchery. its a package of different geese and breeds, cross breeds and so on. excited to see what we get. we decided to get more geese, best watch dogs in the backyard when it comes to intruders. and if the prowler gets a nice big goose bite in the rear, tough noodles…. they deserved it!!! the new chicks, new ducklings and the goslings will arrive around June 14th and we are getting excited.. talk about a busy barnyard… wheee!!!! this is going to be a busy and fun summer. yes we have 2 new feed containers and 2 more water containers… metal of course to keep those rodents out of them. we even bought a new swimming pool for the ducks and goslings…. how spoiled can you get???? 3 pools to swim in and plenty of water containers and feeders to handle a hungry crowd of chicks, duck, and goslings. have a nice warm fire in the wood stove, and the tea kettle going for another cup of blackberry tea, tastes like summer in the winter. off to go check on mama duck and enjoy my cup of tea. you have a great day and a great weekend. stay warm, stay well, stay safe and stay happy. hugs…. 😀

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Pat, I so So love hearing about your critters. I have mixed feelings about geese. Yes, they are great watch critters. We had friends who lived right in town, a “shady” area, and said they slept easy knowing the geese would raise the alarm if someone came over the fence. When I was “little” I came too close to one of the cousins’ mama geese and her goslings. She gave me a good wing whoppin’, and I never made that mistake again. Looking forward to hearing about your various chicks.
      Debbie in Beautiful, but ccccold and snowy Maine

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        Hello Debbie, so good to hear from you. how are things up there in Maine, still getting storms on top of each other. we are finally getting a break from the storms for now, but come Thursday it begins again. oops sorry you wing- whopped by the goose, think i can top that.. i got bit on the toe by a goose and then chased out of a neighbor’s yard by her vicious ducks… they bite too. LOL!!!! but geese do make the best watch birds around, they are also the best foragers… put in your veggie patch and they won’t eat the veggie plants, they will devour the weeds and the nasty bugs. i know who is weeding the garden around here when we get those goslings… anything to get out of weeding the gardens. the ducklings may be helping them out as they do love to bug hunt!! chickens will bug hunt, but they will scratch up the plants and make a mess of the garden. will keep you posted when they arrive and on the remodeling progress. stay warm, stay safe, stay well and stay happy. hugs…… 😀

        • Debbie Boerger says:

          Thanks for the info on geese, Pat. I’ll throw this out to my dirt road neighbors. They are year round residents, and always have big gardens, especially one. She’s a member of a group who grow food for food pantries. Next door folks both work full time and grow food for their own use. I’ll bet they’d love the idea of a watch goose. But can they survive Maine winters? I’ll ask the folks at Ellsworth Seed and Feed. They are the local suppliers of chicks of all types. We get the huge bags of corn from them to feed the winter birds…and the squirrels. That’s OK, there is plenty for all, and it’s our entertainment. I learned the hard way about chickens and gardens. I worked so hard to dig and plant asparagus. The 3rd year, when you can harvest, the “Girls” dug them all out and tossed them all over. We had to put up deer fencing to keep them from pecking holes in the tomatoes, which I grew by the bushel. But these are “Nice” problems to have, as we still have stores where we can buy food.
          Tom’s brother and wife live in Portland, Oregon, and were without power for days last week. They had an ice storm that did lots of damage. That on top of the fires that came very, very close to them this summer. Be safe and enjoy your farm!
          Debbie in beautiful Maine

          • pat addison ( cave junction, OR) says:

            Hello Debbie, i do not know if geese could survive Maine winters, one place i know of to check this out would be at the McMurry hatchery online at: http://www.mcmurryhatchery.com they may be able to give you an answer, but i should think they would be okay if kept indoors during the winter. just lots of water and feed and heat lamps. we are kind of lucky as we also keep a wood stove in the barn to keep the chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys warm especially if they are in the nursery area. not to worry we have yet to have a chicken or duck barbeque themselves on the stove, we sort of keep it in a corner and fenced off from theme so they won;t get hurt. but the geese and ducks are great weeders in the veggie gardens, saves a lot of back breaking work, just let the ducks and geese do it for you. and don’t feel bad about the goose going after you and wing whopping you, beats getting bit… i got bit on the toe and a girlfriend got it on her butt, that really hurt and she had a big bruise there for awhile. i still laugh about it, because the ducks got me… they chased me out of the yard and bit me in the rear and that hurt…..LOL!!!!! but i sure climbed that fence fast. 😀

  60. Cheryl from Bigfork says:

    Dear Susan,
    I just finished “For the Love of Books” puzzle. It was like giving myself a Valentine! I so thoroughly enjoyed ever minute of putting your lovely artwork and inspiring quotations together to form this beautiful piece of art. It really does reflect all the wonderful things you write about in your books and blogs. Thank you for creating this memorable diversion from all the unpleasant things that seem to have captivated the world recently. Bless You! I hope you will find time in your future to create another one for us “puzzlers”.

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Cheryl! So happy you enjoyed it! I loved designing it ~ I’m going to try and do another one soon. xoxo

  61. Jan McCarthy says:

    Hi Sue and all the rest of you lovely ladies,
    Some or many, of you may have discovered these programs but I just have and thought it might me nice to share. The programs are called the Farm Series. It starts with Tales of a Green Valley and then goes on with The Victorian Farm, the Edwardian Farm and more. It is a virtual reality show but is done by the Brits so it is tasteful, thoughtful and incredibly entertaining. Give it a try. It is so fun for these long days and/or evenings. Some that I can’t get on TV I stream on my computer. Wartime Farm is my favorite so far.

  62. Debbie Boerger says:

    Big Thanks for reminding me to use those grape vine wreaths I have in our basement. I scooped them up at one of the many yard sales here in Maine. Yard sales will line every road once Spring arrives. Of course I’ve scooped items we will never use, but we have our little library fests in Summer with the White Elephant tables, we pass them on. Mainers are extremely thrifty…one of the many things I adore about them. So funny when someone squeals after recognizing something they sold years ago!
    At Christmas this year, I wrapped one of the wreaths in little white lights, put an outdoor red bow on it, Tom attached it to the door of my studio shed, plugged it into the light fixture, and loved the cheery lights until just recently. Taking it down will have to wait until the frozen snow berm melts, or Tom takes a sledge hammer to it. We still turn on our multi colored outdoor lights on the small spruce, and our next door neighbors do the same…..it’s so comforting to see the lights twinkling over there!! I now understand why folks up here leave their Christmas lights up for months.
    Signs of Spring all around! Be safe,
    Mucho Love from Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      How is spring going for you Debbie! Is this your FIRST winter in Maine, or just the first in a while? Will you go back home soon, or stay for the summer? Or forever? xoxoxo

  63. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    I was just scrolling thru some of your recipes here on the blog (again!) and on the page about tummy-warming cereal and rediscovering Cream of Rice (up in the header, ‘Home Cooking’), there is a photo of Jack when he was a baby, no? Had I missed it? Adorable then as now!! Look at his little head in that picture; just want to smush him with kisses!

    (PS: Saw on your Twitter that you got your first dose of vaccine; congrats [and I understand a few tears of gratitude, ’cause my ‘turn’ was three weeks ago and I felt the same!]!)

  64. Bhavna says:

    I simply love your blogs. A breath of fresh air. Waiting for another one…. as one month has already passed. Love you.💖

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