FREE THE PIE PLATES! FREE THE DIARIES! LUCKY WINNERS of Gorgeous CUPS

Hello? Are you still there? I’m singing my song: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again!” Despite it all, I’m back, ready to free those pie plates, tell a story about my diaries, and announce our lucky winners!♥️👏♥️

You’ll need a cup of tea while I catch you up! I’ll wait . . . Here we go! I sent out a post last Sunday and about 3 seconds later, everything about my website disappeared. Instead of sweetness and light and all good news, this ⬆️ was the message you received in the mail… Forbidden” ~ rudest message in the world! I’m so sorry! Then I started hearing from you, then Twitter, then Facebook and Instagram chimed in, and I found out I was NOT alone! I called my IT guy, crying, “HELP!”

I hope this did not hurt your feelings, I would never say Forbidden! We, my darlings, were attacked by some sort of hacking machine. I thought for a moment this meant we made the big time.😂 I asked my IT guy and his response was, and I quote: “In the overall scheme of things your site is insignificant!” 🤣 So, it looks like we were just roped into this with scads of other victims, which makes me feel SO much better than thinking someone intentionally did this to a purveyor of good news and the sweetest kindred spirits ever! Luckily, we have the BEST IT guy who had to practically reconstruct the whole thing, so here we are, intact, healthier than ever, ready to go, and grateful. Thank you for holding in there! Here is the post I TRIED send you last week:

How’re you all getting through summer? Hasn’t the weather been crazy? One day it’s unbearably hot, air warm and thick as sea water, the next day unbearably beautiful ~ and the day after that, it’s freezing! Horrible floods in Europe! Canada rivaling Death Valley for high temps! Crazy! We made it through our yard sale despite the relatively benign early-morning on-and-off rain ~ I thought you might like to see a bit of it . . . while listening to best MUSICA in the world… the soft melodic voice of young Frank! Take a deep breath, relax, and here we go! 💞

We rented a bunch of tables, spread them out, putting them as close as we could to the garden so no one could go around the back of them!

We brought out the old picnic benches to surround the bird bath because our number-one consideration was to protect the flower beds from the pitter-patter of thundering feet!

Looks kind of organized don’t you think? Well it didn’t stay that way! Which helped me to understand why churches call these things jumble sales! Blue skies . . . but changing . . .

We parked the van in a tricky place ~ gave us privacy from the road as we brought the boxes from the well-seasoned barn, a mish-mash of homey things to unpack, sort through, and organize.

I was thinking “department store” while arranging things, a born store-keeper-decorator ~ there was a linen department,  a garden department, a kitchen department; there were sections for dishes, baskets, furniture, and applicances ~ like a pop-up store! I had a little store in California at one time and my favorite part was making it look cute! So I was having a good time! 

This organizing kind of worked until we began to run out of time and gave up on it, and started just getting things OUT of the boxes ONTO the tables!

Birds, boxes, bowls, and baskets, . . . all good. Throw in some cups, vases and a thermos … variety, the spice of life, here at my favorite and most-spontaneous kind of recycling center! Everything going to new homes, spicing THEIR lives just like these things did for us! (At the top of this blog you will see “Home Sweet Home” … click there for talk of 100% originality about making a wonderfully original home from recycled things!)

We opened at 9 am ~ the line to get in was down the block ~ neighbors, islanders, and tourists, all together ~ my girlfriend Lowely had a yard sale that day too, and also Martha, and a few others in our neighborhood, so it was a lot like Halloween, people going door to door! Fun for all! And unfortunately I forgot to take pictures when the people were there!!! Too busy! And they were the best part! Everyone was in SUCH a good mood, toting cups of coffee, stopping to chat, they even brought their kids and dogs, I had to get a big bowl of dog water! ~ Summer Saturday morning ~ who doesn’t love . . .

It really wasn’t a beach day ~ it stayed overcast so what better thing to do than go to a yard sale!? You can see the line still going on the other side of the hedge ⬆️! They pretty much cleaned us out and I have to say, there is lightness of heart that comes with watching the pie plates run free! Everyone spoke of their incredible gratitude for the vaccine, that we were able to come together to do this! It really was sort of a mini celebration of the normal things in life! And I decided, if I ever really miss something, if I wish I hadn’t let it go, I won’t mind because I can put it on my list and start hunting for it all over again. A win-win! A great yard sale, all cleaned up now and put away for the next time!

So, I have to share with you what we did on our cold rainy days . . . we had about three of them in a row, I had to FORCE myself not to turn on the heater! (Almost feels like a dream now!) I just kept adding clothes, then blankets! And we made it cozy with this delicious tummy-warming lunch:

Maybe today it’s 115º where you live, in that case, this would probably NOT be the right thing (try my icy GAZPACHO!), but this Mexican White Bean and Chicken Stew is SO good, I had to give you the recipe. Joe and I tasted something like this on our travels, I wrote down what we thought was in it, but never tried to make it until now … oh what we’ve been missing! If you can’t make it now, save it for later! Because look!⬇️

It’s actually even better than it looks! Great if you have leftover chicken, but worth it to quickly sauté enough to make this! Gluten free, chock full of vitamins, and relatively low calorie! Easy to make! Pop, pop, pop, it’s done! Serves 6 . .

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 2 c. jarred salsa verde (we used Stonewall Kitchen)
  • 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken (we always use thighs!)
  • 2 15-oz. cans of white beans, drained and rinsed well
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, sauté garlic and chopped onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil until onion is soft. Stir in rest of the ingredients, heat through and serve with all, or your choice, of toppings: chopped avocados, squeeze of lime juice, minced cilantro, sour cream, minced green onion, grated cheddar cheese, and/or taco chips.🥑

Hope you love it! So, what else do I have to tell you? Oh, yes, this: (I hope you are sitting down.)

Look what I did. Can you tell? Actually I’ve been debating whether or not I should tell you because everyone I HAVE told has gone, Oh nooooo! It’s okay ~ I always knew I would do it ~ to me it’s just like “Fly little pie plate, fly…” Freedom. Yes, you may have guessed . . . those are the shredded remains of my diaries! Don’t be upset! Let me explain! I am the mommy of these books, I brought them into the world, and it was time to take them out.💝

They gave back more than they were ever given, they lived a good and useful life but it was time for them to go. So this is how I spent my early mornings during most of the pandemic, reading, laughing, blushing, crying, tearing out a few pages to keep forever, and shredding the rest.

All gone! Blowing on fingernails, polishing on shirt, so proud of myself! I’m glad I have pictures of them. Before and . . .

. . . after. I kept the covers. And that’s not all . . .

I started by trying to burn them in the fireplace . . . and found out it was a very slow and cumbersome way to do it and guess what, they don’t burn! It was a romantic idea: dark winter day, world in turmoil, snow blowing, a cup of tea, crackling fire, reliving memories, burning old diaries, but, no…it wasn’t working.

So I moved the shredder into the wood room in front of the big flat box that holds the true pandemic treasure of Turner Classic Movies, put Jack next to me in the chair, and shredded a few pages every morning … listening to Shirley Temple sing, watching Fred and Ginger dance, realizing, as I read them how smart I was not to leave them lurking around! I stayed young and ignorant forever, searching for life, love, and purpose. I kept those diaries for me, not for posterity. I wrote “Your service is undeniable” in the back of each one when I finished it. They did their job, were a HUGE help in the beginning years of being a grown up. So there they are in that big bag behind Jack! And I didn’t throw the bag away, or put it in the yard sale.

Most of you know I’ve been keeping diaries for almost as long as I could hold a pencil. I’ve always loved writing, my diaries have been SO helpful for growth, and helpful for writing books later on! But I didn’t have what it took to begin trying to save them until I was in my twenties! (My mom kept a few of my things in my baby book!💝) I lost all my teenage diaries, all my little girl ones. Probably a good thing! But today, when I talk to children who say they want to be a writer when they grow up, I tell them all I know, “Read everything, keep a diary, and don’t lose it!”

You’ll be glad to hear I didn’t shred them ALL. I kept this one. It goes from from January 1996, to June 2007! Lots of good things in here. It’s at a bookbinder now, being rebound, it was a pretty book with a cloth binding that wore out with too much train travel!

To this diary, as you see in the lower right, I was was “your obedient servant.” Actually to all of them.💞

So I kept it.♥️ And as you can see, I never stopped trying to figure things out.

The diaries I shredded were filled with little bits and pieces . . . old letters, cards, ticket stubs, photos, tucked between the pages. Sometimes I would be somewhere I didn’t have my diary with me, so I would do addendums. I kept all this stuff and much much more!

I saved lots of whole pages, the happy times . . . and wasn’t about to shred this! Buying my first little house here on the island, Holly Oak! The doorway to my new life. But then I wrote all about it in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, used the good handwriting, and added pictures too, so I no longer needed the diaries!♥️

And this, trying to learn how to “Think Like Leonardo DaVinci”… 🤣 ~ I was reading the book, and put it down to try to do what he did one early morning, curled up all alone on a big overstuffed sofa in front of a huge crackling woodfire in the very quiet lobby of the Mt. Washington Hotel in New Hampshire, I drew my first “Mind Map.” Finding out who you are is a process.

And this, a wonderful Mary Engelbreit card Joe gave me in 1987, exactly 3 weeks after our first date. Read the top. I tried not to melt.👏

And then . . . the topper, My boat had come in!🙃 I wasn’t ABOUT to throw this away!💘 He already loved me. At the time, I thought, NO WAY . . . but then he set about convincing me ~ the fun part. My mother wasted no time, she was thrilled immediately.♥️ I transferred that whole story of our first date (that lasted a lifetime) from my diary to A Fine Romance, so I didn’t need to save it. Just all the cards and sweetness tucked between the pages. See? It’s not as bad as you thought!

And there are lots of other diaries I will never get rid of! My dinner-party diary is going nowhere . . .

My first English Garden diary . . . where, among other things, I figured out how to make cute fences like the one I saw at Great Dixter!

I kept all my English Diaries of course . . .Not to mention those journal BOOKS  so many of you have read, where ALL my memories are saved .. . so I just feel good about the whole thing!

And Joe had a brilliant idea. He thinks I should send Cliff one of the new cups when they come in (for all of you who’ve ordered, they’ll be here to help us celebrate fall, 🍂 hopefully by the end of September) and use my shredded diaries to pack it in! Isn’t that perfect? Cliff’s a big fan of the cups! Perfect closure. I’m sure he’ll love it! A big relief, he won’t have to hear his most dreaded words anymore, “But I have the diaries!” 🤣 The torture has ended!Speaking of which, I’ve started keeping a NEW diary! I kind of stopped writing during the pandemic when I couldn’t focus! But I’m back! And that’s not all!

The other day I came into the kitchen and grabbed Joe’s hand and said, “Come with me… I  want to show you something!” I was so excited. I pulled him through the living room into my studio to show him what I’ve been doing ~ working on my new book of quotes again! All laid out on my counter. My Creativity is back! Here are a couple of the pages . . .Joe was so happy ~ gave me a big hug! After the pandemic, I needed to get a new “foundation for the creation” and it took a while for it to form! Sometimes I wondered if it ever would, the waiting is always the hard part…but every day feels better and I say to myself, life is soooo good.  Makes me happy. I am still my own science project! Trying to figure things out, forever and ever! My dad called me “Grasshopper” (he got it from the 70s TV show Kung Fu) ~ I was his inexperienced idiot student and he was all-knowing master! True then, true now. Learning something new every day! 

And for the learning part and the beauty part . . . we finished listening to Hamnet while out on our walk (Joe gets one ear plug, I get the other, book is on the phone!). My review? Excellent. Beautiful writing. Lovely lovely lovely. They’re going to make a movie out of it! My favorite books are the ones that send me to Google, wanting to know more, about the characters, the subject, the time period, or the author. This was perfect for that.(It starts slow, don’t give up.)Blessings on all the geniuses the world has produced who have charted a path, and left their brilliant discoveries behind for us… you will love my quote book, I’ve collected them from the beginning of time, it’s going to be all the secrets of the world.♥️

More of the beauty part . . . good old tablecloth, of course did NOT go into the yard sale despite small hole from over-love! The pillows, made with my fabric from Spoonflower, were our Christmas gift from Kellee and everyone at the Studio last year!

We lit up the twinkle lights and had dinner under the arbor (Tea House of the Vineyard Moon”) with friends for the first time this summer. Everyone beautifully and inspiringly vaccinated and safe. Gratitude galore! Mutual admiration society! Tons of fireflies blinking in the lawn . . . corn on the cob, salmon, my mom’s potato salad, and root-beer floats! Do you butter your corn with hot bread? I’m so far behind, one of our guests just told me about this, I tried it for the first time! More genius! It’s everywhere!🤣

And roses . . . Joe brought them home, not from our garden, but very pink and very beautiful!

I love summer nights on the island when it’s all quiet in our neighborhood of old houses, and I hear dishes clattering, and music playing from other people’s screen doors, and then the boat whistle blows . . .like a dream.

So here we go my dear girlfriends. You’ve been so patient! Time for our drawing! I so hope YOU win!!! And if you don’t, don’t worry we will try again and again and again! ❌⭕️ So here we go . . . for the 4th of July cup . . . our lucky winner is . . .ta daaaa!🎵

KAREN BLANKENSHIP! 👏👏👏

 

And for the two Springtime cups, we have two winners:

MARY from Forest Grove and ALLYSON BILLINGSLEY..

How exciting!👏👏👏 I’ll send an email soon so you can send me your address and your new cups will be winging their way to you before you know it.💞 Thank you ALL for entering and trying, you never know, you still have a better chance here on this “insignificant” blog 😂 than you do with the lottery! Keep that happy thought in mind! ❌⭕️Last but not least, for all our fellow travelers to the English Countryside next May 🥳 . . . Kelsey at Discover Europe (Kelsey@DiscoverEuropeLtd.com) and I worked out a new tour to add to the list … this one goes from the ship by train to the Lake District ⬆️, then across the Yorkshire Dales, to York! This tour will NOT come back to join us for the picnic at Stourhead with our English girlfriends because travel time is a little longer than the others, but it’s still so very wonderful and you can read all about it and sign up HERE. And FYI, The Cotswolds tour is sold out, but they’ve made a waiting list because they are trying to put together another one💞, so be sure to contact Kelsey if you’re interested in that. There is still room on my favorite tour (they’re all my favorites as you know!), that’s taking everyone to Sissinghurst Garden

XXX

And although Sissinghurst Garden is a little bit of heaven on earth, this tour also includes Anne Boleyn’s Hever, Winston Churchhill’s Chartwell, Vanessa Bell’s Charleston, places we LOVED, plus so much more! All in the gorgeous “Garden of England!” History, gardens, cottages, pubs, and charm, oh my!😘

And BTW, P.S, Here’s another surprise! Guess who’s flying from England to New York to board the Queen Mary 2 along with the rest of us? Guess!! Yes!!! Rachel!!👏 Bringing her darling husband Paul! It just gets better every day! There are more fun things to come, but I have to make sure they are 100% definite! So hard to keep my mouth shut . . . stay tuned!♥️  

And, there is still  a little space on the Salisbury tour that takes you to Lacock ⬆️, and to everything Jane Austen.♥️ Read about the four tours HERE.

And yes, if you don’t have time to take the ship, you can fly over and join any of the tours, and all but the one to the Lake District will bring you back to our picnic on the lawn in front of the grass bridge ⬆️ in Stourhead. Or fly over and just come to the picnic (May 15th, 2022, BYO picnic!) before you head out on your own. SO many choices! For a red letter year!

So off I go. In all my memories today I was reminded of something my darling brother Jim said to me once, “All I need to know about love I learned from the song Hey Jude . . .” ♥️ As usual, I’m thinking what an idiot. So of course I ran to read the words (insight into a brother’s thinking is not something one takes lightly) . . . And realized how right he was when I read . . . 🎶🎵 “Remember to let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better . . .”🎵🎶 One more reason to fall in love with the Beatles (and my brother Jim💞 ~ John Lennon’s OTHER song works for him too, Beautiful beautiful beautiful boy….💝) That’s him with his son Ben in ↖️ that picture.

Sending love, cooling breezes, dry days, soft rains, and starry nights . . . . ❌⭕️❌⭕️ Your Pal, Anna Susana Branchburger the third.♥️

P.S. 🎶🎵 “For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool, By making his world a little colder . . .”🎶🎵

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425 Responses to FREE THE PIE PLATES! FREE THE DIARIES! LUCKY WINNERS of Gorgeous CUPS

  1. Linda C says:

    Welcome Back Susan and Thank You ! : )
    Linda C of So Cal

  2. Viffy says:

    Yikes!

    It’s not real until it affects you… sorry to hear of the ‘hacking’ issue. We’ve all recovered, I am sure… so, back to seeing your beautiful blog!
    I loved seeing all of the finds and treasures in the jumble sale photos… I collect old dishes and hat boxes, so I was glued to the screen admiring everything.

    Keep all of the quotes, quips, clips and memories coming… your blog has been a sort of refuge in past months (and years) and I love connecting with everyone here. Thanks, Susan!

  3. Wendy Young says:

    This is one of your best blogs ever! I was on the ‘forbidden’ list and was really missing your kindred spirit! So many thoughts from the tasty recipe to your tag sale that I was so wishing to be at! I kept shopping from the photos. 🙂 …the linens, blanket, birdhouses, baskets, dishes, etc. and oh, that wren mug….:)
    The diaries….I am so relieved to now that you chose to some chapters. I am going to do the same. Really, no one needs to see my journeys but me anyhow. Most of all, thank you for sharing soo very much about living your best life. I carry so many of your thoughts and poems with me. blessings to you and Joe, that wonderful card sender!!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what I thought … I just saved a bit of the interesting parts! Thank you dear Wendy… I will tell Joe you said that!🌻

  4. Sue says:

    I think you should plant at least a small bit of your shredded memories as mulch in your gardens, since they led you there. <3

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

    Hello Susan, and hello to all the girlfriends. whew it has been hot and miserable here, we have had over 25 days straight of 95 degrees or more up to 113 degrees, it cooled down for a day or so and now its going up and down….. 91 degrees to triple digits and back down to below 90. we have the baby chicks out in the brooder, they are now a month old and feathering up nicely. poor babies it got so hot we had to shut off the brooder and it was warm enough for the chicks to do without it. that was a learning experience, never raised peeps without a heat lamp. but if we had left it on the peeps would broiled to death. so for now it is keep them comfy, and keep them hydrated and that is one chore that is never ending… they are literally guzzling that water down and i have refresh their water containers 3-4 times during the day. the ducklings are also feathering up nicely and come next month, (Aug 14th) they go out to the yard and into the pools for their swim. we will be letting the peeps out by Labor day into the yard and then they can all run around and explore and enjoy. and i can finally take a bit of a rest from the watering …. i hope, i hope, i hope. the ducklings are really getting pretty and so big, and they are showing the blue that gives them their name.. Swedish blues. their feet are blue and their bills. these are 2 little females and i am trying to give them adorable names, i have Daphne, and the 2 males.. Dewey and Daniel. want to give the girls a name with a “D” so any ideas are welcome. the 4th of July here was a blast we had some fireworks and a sort of tailgate party and cookout. lots of chicken and and loads of salads and tons of fresh homemade ice cream… blackberry!!!! well i have to get hopping again, laundry out on the line and water containers to refill for the babies. you all stay cool and happy, and send some rain and cool breezes this way we could use it. i’m already thinking about Autumn and the cool winds and days to come, keeps me going. keep cool, stay healthy and stay happy. hugs……. 😀

  6. Debi Hutchinson says:

    Oh, Susan, it is wonderful to have you back! Thanks for making me smile today.

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

    Hello again Susan, girlfriends. i just had to comment on the yard sale, i love how you had it all set up Susan, it looked so organized. at least this gave me a plan for the yard sale we plan to have to get rid of the in-laws’ collection of items. they wanted to pass it all on to me but i refused, i have no space for it and mos to f things she uses i would not. so it is all up for sale. and before i forget congratulations to the winners of those beautiful cups. any plans to raffle off an Autumn cup real soon????? it has been hot here, hot and dry as we have very little humidity in the air…. we are talking under 20% humidity and as low as 9%. it just makes the heat even worse even if it is only in the mid eighties to low 90’s . i would dearly love a good long soaking rain to come around, and right now i would even settle for a cloud dumping a bucket of water on top of me…. guess we will have to hang on and hope for good soaking rains to come this Autumn… keep your fingers crossed!!! well off to get an apple for a snack, and finish hanging the laundry out to dry. maybe i will get lucky and it will sprinkle out there….. hope, i hope, i hope. keep cool, stay healthy and stay happy . hugs…… 😀

  8. Candice LaPrade says:

    Oh Joy! A new blog post from Susan! Thank you!

    My twin Alice and I were 18 days old when you wrote your first diary! My birthday is December 8, 1957!

    Candice

  9. Cheryl Bennett says:

    Oh joy, you’re back 😀. Another fun and happy read. Love when I see your name pop up in my email. The crossing cannot get here fast enough 🚢. I’m booked for the Cotswolds tour but, the Lake District and Beatrix Potter are calling. What’s a girl to do 🤷‍♀️.

  10. Rosemary says:

    Dear Susan,
    It’s so funny that I was thinking of starting a diary at the tender age of 65!
    It was a brave thing to do what you did! Looking forward to toasting on the Queen Mary. Love, Rosemary

    • sbranch says:

      I think you can do it at any time! And if you wait until you’re 65, you will embarrass yourself a whole lot less! Queen Mary! 🚢 🥂

  11. Cindy Roberg says:

    Hi Susan,
    Everyone else has already expressed the reaction to the shredding, ditto. I wish I could have come to the yard sale, but I live on the other side of the country. I enjoyed this post, and have to slowly digest parts of it. Where can I find your mother’s potato salad recipe? In closing, I am sorry to hear your brother passed in 2016. I remember reading about your parents. I hope you will soon be able to have a family reunion with your siblings. Happy Summer time to you and Joe.

  12. Barbara Anne says:

    Lovely, just lovely and I thank you so much.
    Thanks to your IT guru, too, as that “forbidden” message was a shock! I promptly emailed Lauren at your shop (I had the email address from a pre-order) to express my puzzlement. She was most reassuring!

    Hugs!

  13. Debbie Boerger says:

    I am convinced that this is my all time favorite of your blogs. Have no time right now to read all the comments, but it’ll bet others may agree with my opinion. Or…..maybe it’s a bit of Absence makes the heart grow fonder!?
    Tom and the family have gone off for the day to “the Island”, Acadia Nat. Pk. and Bar Harbor. It’s the busiest July ever…so far. I hate crowds and have loads of wash to do, with 4 very athletic kin-folks in the house. Lots of sweet tears, lots of laughter. Son Steve came over from Rockland to meet his “new” little sister, niece and 2 nephews.
    As Tom and I fall into bed at night, exhausted, we agree that it seems our hearts are bursting with Pure-D Joy!!!
    Thank you Dear Lady, for sharing your hard won wisdom.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Maine

  14. Sydney Stocks says:

    So glad to read this blog! I received the scammed one and was so upset to think that somehow I had done something to be forbidden to read any more of your posts. Very relieved to know that it was a hoax though sorry for all the trouble it must have caused you. And I am very happy to read that you are beginning to make your way out of the darkness brought on by the pandemic and the state of the world. It is incredibly hard to stay positive but terribly important. We all need each other in these times, especially those who are able to bring beauty and peace to others simply by being themselves and sharing their light with the world. If you can’t tell, I am talking about you! I look forward to your new book of quotes. I have always loved reading the ones you choose for your calendars and books. Sending love and good wishes that you continue to feel Joy and Peace.

  15. Lamar Shahbazian says:

    Hi Susan! Thanks for the photos of your yard sale, I would have LOVED to come to it but getting all the treasures back to CA would have been a challenge. I have a very rudimentary blog and recently shared my thoughts on the experience of holding a “virtual” rummage sale for our church (online through Facebook Marketplace). The best part was finding new homes for the items and all the STORIES we heard. If you’re interested, it’s here. lamarshahbazian.wixsite.com/mysite/post/musings-of-a-rummage-sale-proprietress

    Thanks for always brightening our days. Love your artwork and your photos and your personality just shines through.

  16. kimberley says:

    I am another lifelong journaler and I also… shred my journals. It seems to split journal writers into two passionate camps, to keep or to destroy. But for me they are working documents, therapy in convenient and portable binding. Do you feel lighter?

    Love seeing the photos of the yard sale and wishing I was there!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, much much lighter. It was the right thing for me to do! Keep what is important and let the rest go. If the important pile got too high, I had to analyze and then, let it GOOOOOO!

  17. Jody Wallem says:

    This has taken days for me to grab some uninterrupted time to read this through—definitely worth waiting for! O
    Something I saved for years was letters I had received from friends and relatives. I had literally hundreds which I read through during the pandemic. I sorted through and returned those to friends I was still connected to—almost all of them! And I received such nice replies from those you loved reading their former selves of 30, 40 and even 50 years ago. So sad that handwritten letters on paper are such a thing of the past!

    • sbranch says:

      A wonderful idea … I’ve sent some, but others are still too precious to me, and some are unsinkable! I kept all the best ones from my grandma, mom and dad…I pat myself on the back for that!

  18. Pam Butterick says:

    I can’t imagine if we had been forever denied access to this blog. Seeing your diary pages, the newsprint for the buying of Holly Oak, the old Halloween photos; everything is a treasure. How monumental to review and relive it all. I think I want 10 copies of the book of quotes for me and girlfriends and I know that won’t be enough. Thanking you for sharing so very much of yourself. You are a Blessed blessing. 💕

  19. Maureen C Townsend says:

    Hi, Susan, I’m so glad you’re up and running again. I love these Blogs. I print them out so I can sit comfortably and enjoy reading them at my leisure. I have a question. How can I sign up to receive the Willard newsletter via email? And is your newsletter the same as your blog?

    • sbranch says:

      Go HERE to sign up….Yes, at this point Willard and the Blog are the same… for a long time, in order to make Willard extra special, I had to do it separately, but these days I can do everything on the Blog I used to only be able to do on Willard! Hope that makes sense!

  20. Julie Hardesty says:

    Always a pleasure to read your lovely and most welcome newsletter! Too many good things to comment on though! OMG, but that yard sale! Yes! You are a dear and you have made today most cheerful. Thank you, dear Susan. Love you to pieces.

  21. Gina Mahoney says:

    Hello. When I seen “forbidden” I figured it was my computer that had the problem! I know nothing about computers!!
    I had visited your little store in Arroyo Grande, obviously many years ago. We were in San Francisco, my husband had a conference there then we spent a few days vacationing. I had him drive me all the way to your store, which he gladly did. I was so excited to be there and looking at all the beautiful items and how cute it was set up, that I didn’t realize it was you who I bumped into in the window area, as you were making things look cute, until you walked out!!! I was so heartbroken that I was so oblivious, although I looked at you and said excuse me, but I really didn’t expect you to be there, and you looked different in person, that I didn’t recognize you. All these years later I still think about my missed opportunity to meet you in person!!!
    Hope you continue to have a wonderful summer and I look forward to your book of quotes! Thanks for all you do!

  22. MargotB in Sister Bay says:

    I give up…you are going to get a snail mail…
    Hugs,
    MargotB

  23. Debbie Boerger says:

    Big Woop! My 76th birthday. I’ve been working my way through the comments, and I, too, wanted to add my thanks to Kay’s comment about “clutching her pearls”. That saying is soooo rich in memories! Thank you for the chuckle.
    Debbie in Maine

  24. Suzette Shoulders says:

    Susan, I was startled that you were shredding your old diaries, and then I thought about it and realized it was a good thing for you to do. As we get older, some things need to be put aside, after all. Then I saw the mug with packing of the shreddings for Cliff, and I laughed and laughed! I have read your memoirs I bought from you at least four times, maybe five, and given the sets as gifts to three wonderful women. Thank you SO much for keeping your diaries for long enough to write those terrific books. And thanks for sharing your journeys in life with all of us who appreciate you. Take a bow, dear Susan ! Hygge, Suzette

  25. Lynn Williams says:

    Hi Susan – I didn’t know you were once a Valley Girl! So am I! I worked my way across he Valley, starting in Pacoima/Arleta, then to Sepulveda (now called North Hills) and to Woodland Hills! Lots of fun memories! Love your illustrations! Love your stories! Love your blog!

  26. Karen B. says:

    Susan,
    I knew you would never tell us your site was forbidden. I’m glad someone knew how to contact you about it. What a fun post. Wish I was going to England with you all. I know it will be a wonderful trip.
    xo,
    Karen

  27. Juls says:

    Your childhood letters/essays are so priceless! How I wish I would have kept my diaries for I was always writing. I wrote quotes I fell in love with all over my mattress in pen, why you ask? Young teen angst? Who knows, but words were magic to me. Looking forward to your book of quotes and super happy you were able to move through your low period — we need your light. Thankful.

    • sbranch says:

      💡💡💡🔆 I wonder if you took a picture of that mattress? I love that! A dream bed!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      What a great idea, Juls. I believe I’ll do the mattress writing now, at my
      good ripe age. A few quotes, and I’ll add more when Susan’s quote book comes out.

  28. SYLVIA in Seattle says:

    “You are forbidden” REALLY what internet genius thought up this phrase to inform us users? Shame on him/her. Another softer phrase would do methinks. My blood curdled to use another phrase from one of the girlfriends a while back :-). Thankfully, all is well and you are back. I’m in awe of your sacrifice at shredding those old diaries. I agree with others that something could be done with the shreds. Some version of fortune cookies perhaps. I’m really looking forward to your book of quotes. I want to make that chicken and bean soup soon. Looks so good. Thanks for everything Susan.

  29. Carolyn Wilson says:

    So very glad your good and better newsy need is back on track! You keep the song in my heart and encourage my own creativity! Bless you! I’ve ordered my FIRST cup – the winter one, which is my favorite! We have done our own cleaning of house with 2 big truckloads of recycling and yard refuse. Now we are ready to finish our own BBQ pit with seating for glorious picnics/cook-outs. Fun times! Our wonderful England and Highclere Castle trip have had to be rescheduled for August 28, 2022. We are so looking forward to being out of London into the English/Scottish/Wales countryside. We count our blessings to be able to take this lovely trip. We will be on your trip in
    spirit as well. Take care, keep well and safe!

  30. Maureen (Micki) Groves says:

    It sounds like your IT guy was a blessing to us all! ❤️

  31. Debbie Boerger says:

    Ahhhhh, finally, a clear beautiful day here on Hog Bay, Franklin, Maine. Our family are getting out and seeing things…or trying to, through the clouds and rain
    They are going out in our neighbors’ kayaks now, as the tide is right. Same neighbors are doing a cookout Saturday so the other neighbors can meet them.
    It really is wonderful how everyone up here is so welcoming and happy for us.
    Life can give precious gifts if you expect it. I do know it can give you a kick in the teeth, but it seems that Tom Terrific is right. If you expect the best, it can show up more easily.
    Thank you, Dear Lady, four leading the way on Positive Thinking. And if the worst happens, picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and starting all over again!! 🙂

  32. SallyD says:

    Lovely, lovely, “luv-lee” post – and so worth the wait! Glad you’re back safe & sound in the cyber world! Absolutely LOVE all the diary quotes here, and I completely understand why you shredded those old journals. I’ve done the same myself several times over the years. Some things are better kept close to one’s own heart! Excited for the quote book to come out – love the preview!! XO to you and Joe from a beret-wearing Girlfriend.

  33. Amy from Salem says:

    Thank goodness you are back and even the internet bandits couldn’t keep your sunshine Blog from your faithful girlfriends. I am so happy to see that you are sounding more like your old self too. I have really had a rough year with back surgery on top of all the worldly events that had tried everyone’s sanity. I want to thank you for helping me to solve one of my greatest worries. I have about 30 diaries I have written over the last ten years, the most difficult of my life. I have decided to destroy most of them but to save the positive pages. This blog has made my heart lighter. Sometimes we just need to see the way with a little permission from a good friend.

    • sbranch says:

      I understand. I had to debate myself for quite a while, realizing finally it’s possible to have cake and eat it too! Save anything that makes the world a better place! xoxo

  34. Elaine Woodford says:

    Susan, you are such an inspiration in everything you do! Thank you. You are so appreciated. And BTW, I too grew up buttering my corn with a piece of bread. I lived about 35 miles south of Cleveland, OHIO, in Akron. I’ve been trying to figure out if doing the bread/butter thing is from the Pennsylvania Dutch part of my family or the Austrian/German side. I’m gonna go with the Pennsylvania Dutch side.

    Thanks for your blog today. They always bring me great happiness!

    Elaine Woodford

    • sbranch says:

      Seems SO much more civilized than rolling your corn in the stick of butter!🤣 xoxo

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Growing up my family always had a “dedicated” stick of butter for rolling the corn on the cob. Very uncivilized. That wonderful, sweet, tender white corn is available now, so we’ll try the bread and butter method!!!
        Debbie in Gawjus (for today) Maine

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