HI ALL! Welcome! Had to celebrate the day with my Girlfriends! I hope you’re being good to yourself! We had another big snow last night, woke up to a marshmallow world. MUSICA? Oh yeah!

Be my Valentine, but don’t forget during this week of celebrating LOVE, to . . .

That should say, “love the cutie you’re with,” which, in case you don’t know, is you!❤️

Guess which cup Joe got his tea in this morning? Oh yeah. On the adorable crocheted heart that our dear Girlfriend Barbara Urbank from Twitter (@barbarasgarden) sent me ~ I think of her every morning when I see this. A pure treasure. As is she. She is having a difficult time these days, and I know your prayers would fill her heart with joy.💞 

So, around here? BLIZZARD! It’s been cold and snowy, and it’s snowing again this morning! Perfect for getting things done. But I am ready to get out and GO! It won’t be long. Every day we inch closer to MAY! That Lusty Month Of May!

I’m still dealing with reality, those are my boots on the kitchen floor in front of the furnace register, filling up with hot air so I can do the big shoe exchange when my feet get cold.

I mean, LOL, look at our kitchen window! This is what happens in a Blizzard, which is snow plus wind plastering your windows. Joe brought the snow broom and shovel in from the barn, everything to dig us out is inside the house and dry and ready to go.

But you have to admit, it IS beautiful ~ and the birds are happy . . . putting on a wonderful show when the windows melt!

And of course, we’re happy too. Crackling fire, lit candles, and little visions of beauty never cease to please.

He LIKES doing this! I have to go out and bring him in, warm him up, make sure he isn’t having a heart attack. So far, so good!

We invited our bubble people to a small dinner party. Feeding each other from the well of sweetness.💞 It’s a must do. Fighting the mental-fatigue inducing pandemic with every fiber of my being. Don’t you just hate this? I don’t hate anything, but I DO hate this boring virus! I even started watching football!🙄 Three games plus the Super Bowl. I even liked it! Save me!

Jack kept me company while I did my very favorite thing, set the table! I used the old blue Copeland Spode that came with this house! Yes, a set of 10 dinner plates was waiting in the cupboard when we moved in! Left behind by the previous owner.❤️ And yes, we will leave them when we go.

I just HAPPENED to have these candles, and just HAPPENED to pick out these roses… I have never matched my candles to my flowers before, but one of my guests is a candle-flower-matching person, and I knew she would appreciate it, and she DID! I used our big 3′ square vintage linen napkins too. Slightly starched, ironed, and smooth as a baby’s hiney. The ones that make you feel like a 6-year-old when you put them on your lap. When you have an appreciative audience, you give them the good stuff!💞 

I spread those roses around the house . . . and brought light to a dark winter with an old-fashioned Pineapple Upside-Down Cake! I LOVE my mom’s recipe for it (⬆️ click for the recipe). It’s perfect for winter. I decided it needed a sauce, so each room-temperature serving sits in a puddle of cold vanilla cream, which almost makes it a Tres Leche Cake, but with pineapple and walnut crunch and that brown sugar chewiness on top. 

The Lilies are gone now, so are the roses, but those white sweet peas are SILL beautiful, now gracing the kitchen table! Kind of a miracle if you know sweet peas!💫

Wasn’t our Webinar with the Cary Library wonderful? Talk about miracles, a thousand of us for a tea party! This was my setup here at home, tea cup waiting, candles lit, I had my new book piled up next to me, and my OLD books, just in case we needed them, and some of the childhood artwork my mother saved for me, everything I could think of for show and tell. We lit up the house as best we could, Joe made a fire, and we just talked and talked. Helen and Nicole were wonderful, I have to thank them again for making it happen! It was like a girlfriend tea party at my kitchen table. Did you miss it? Would you like to see it? Go HERE!Oh yeah, we can talk! There are more Webinars to come, one is tentatively lined up for April. I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s finalized!

Busy busy, storms are perfect for projects, and for solving family ancestral mysteries! This is a photo of my grandfather, the infamous pork-chop-gravy-eating Willard, the man who gave my newsletters a name, here with my darling grandmother, Florence. Born and raised in Iowa, they met at Sioux City High School and married very soon after graduating in the late 1920s because they were crazy kids, and quite brainless in their young years, a trait they passed on to their granddaughter.💖

Willard’s mother was Alice (Allie) Jencks, my great grandmother who used to make boxes of embroidered dish towels (this is one of hers) for my mom every Christmas, a big inspiration for me: if she was making them for my mom, I had to do it too. I remember visiting her at her house in Iowa, playing pick-up sticks on her wide front porch with moths flitting around her yellow porch light, and going up to her attic with her to get one of my mom’s old baby dolls. I was 5 and she was my mom’s grandma.

And THIS person ⬇️ was HER mom, my mom’s great-grandma, and herein lies the mystery.

I have had that photo for a very long time not knowing who it was. Thank goodness I kept it because when I was upstairs digging around for things to show for the Webinar, I found a letter from Willard which I had filed way back in the 1980s when he sent me all kinds of family photos, including this one. I forgot I had the letter (but of course I do, how could I throw it away?) and re-reading it, I found out that that photo ⬆️ was my great-great-GREAT grandmother, Angeline Martin Jencks, the grandmother of Willard and mother of Allie and her four sisters, including my Great Aunt Jose who sent us a box of her old children’s books when I was little, which included one of the best ever, Pollyanna! Wasn’t that a wonderful find? So she hangs on the wall in the wood room now. I wrote all her information on the back of the photo so this kind of confusion won’t happen to any other of her relatives! I’m always working on our family tree, getting little details here and there, trying to make these people come alive for us . . . the Jencks family has been a lot of fun because there’s so much information about them!💖

But, here’s the thing I’m spending most of my time on! My new book, Distilled Genius, the Illustrated Secrets of Life, My 40-Year Collection of Life-Changing Quotes, all 272 pages of pure inspiration🎁, has gone off to Kellee so she can prepare it digitally and send it to the printer!!! This was the first page Kellee finished and sent to me for approval. Now it’s a preview for you! MAS MUSICA? OUI!

If you read these quotes I think you’ll see how this book got the name “Distilled Genius.” I am so excited! It’s the exact opposite of what we’ve all been going through… the isolation, exhaustion, and PTSD from this BORING virus and all the scary news reports … this book . . . is Joy, Hope, Humor, Girlfriends, Creativity, Happiness, Connection and LOVE ~ pulling these quotes together has been the perfect place to spend these winter days ~ pure positivity and genius, reminding me of everything good in this world, has kept me very happy! As soon as I paint the Table of Contents I’ll show you! We gave the printer the green light on Friday, so it’s truly happening. WITH a ribbon! Made in America! They say we should have it at the Studio by the end of June. I will put it up for preorder soon, so I’ll know how many to order! And more preview pages will come! I feel so happy with this. To be able to share this collection after all these years! Who would ever imagine?!?And speaking of Happy Days! This is the other thing putting me in a good mood. Getting the book done, and then getting ready to go, because we are on our way to England on May 1! We’re having a PICNIC!!! Light is changing, days are getting longer, there are new shadows on the kitchen cupboards, I feel it coming!

We’ll be meeting these two Valentines, Rachel and Paul, witty, cute, talented, charming English people, in New York and boarding the Queen Mary 2 together! For those of you coming along, we’ll all be meeting on board to toast the Statue of Liberty as we sail away! Lots of details to come! Rachel and I are working on a talk we want to give on board the ship, something maybe called
The Magic of a Handwritten Letter?💞 What do you think?


It won’t be long now! Dreams do come true!

Well, off I go . . . I still have to paint the cover of the book! And do the Table of Contents… it ain’t over till it’s over. This book was very much inspired by you . . . you gave me a VERY nice reason to go on living this winter, I hope you LOVE it!. . .💖 Pray for our beautiful world. Have a WONDERFUL day!

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  1. Anne Hamilton says:

    Hi Susan, I am very much looking forward to meeting you and Joe again at the picnic in May. I came to your first Stourhead picnic and had a lovely time. I wasn’t able to come to your second picnic up in Sawrey due to work commitments but as I am retiring from work at the end of next month I am looking forward to being footloose and fancy free. We’re having a rather bad time over here in the UK at the moment with Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin all hitting us in close succession. But no snow thus far for us in Buckinghamshire for which I am very thankful. I will try to join your next zoom get together in April if I am able to. Zoom and all the other virtual meeting platforms have been a Godsend during the pandemic. Anyways, stay warm, stay safe and stay happy Susan. Love Anne Hamilton in Bucks UK.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes they have. Especially since we haven’t been able to get back over there, but we can at least meet (sort of) on Zoom! I’m so sorry for the storms. My friend Rachel has been telling me about them, they sound awful. You guys can get some terrible winds! Stay safe, and hope to see you soon!

  2. Christy Sherry says:

    Susan, I am almost done reading the last of your Trilogy. I was having that “ I don’t want the book to end” feeling. Then I read your “ Willard” and was so happy that another one of your books was coming soon. I have bought one of your calendars for over 20 years. I used to send one to my oldest daughter when she went to college ( she graduated in 2000) to remind her of home. Now I send one to my daughter- in- law too. Last year my granddaughter, who is 14, wanted one too. So I sent her the smaller wall calendar for her room. I just forwarded your “Willard “ to her and she loved it. Thank you so much for your recipe books too.
    I love Cape Cod too. After reading your “ life story” in your books I truly feel like your are one of my girlfriends. Thank you so much for your uplifting quotes too! Your friend, Christy

  3. Elizabeth Caro says:

    Dear Susan,
    I enjoyed reading about your start with water coloring and art. I was wondering if you would consider a “Susan Branch Watercolors Paint Tin” as a new product in your shop for those of us girlfriends who enjoy the art or wish to get started. I know I would love having a beautiful watercolor paint tin designed by you:)

    • sbranch says:

      I’d love to do that Elizabeth… I’ve tried in the past, but haven’t been successful yet!

  4. Debbie Boerger says:

    Covid test (pre-op) negative! Check. Recovery food, tomato soup, plain old American cheese for grilled cheese, ice cream and sherbet, bought. Check. Cheap-O English peas for baggie ice packs on the nose bought. Check. Almost done with what is possible for cleaning pre-op. Check. Whew! Pant, pant!
    During the cleaning, I realized how much I love our treasures and the old books. Some books had to be tossed, as they were just too mold encrusted. I had an antique late 1800’s Baedeker’s England Travel that had to be laid to rest.

    I began Hamnet last night. Beautiful writing. Thanks for the review. We’re watching Shetland, using the closed caption function on our tablets. Very thick dialect. Fabulous acting, beautiful place (very much like Isle of Skye), but the murders are grim. I think I have a wee crush on Jimmy Perez, the Inspector. Also finished up Episode 9 of 1883. Best portrayal of the immigrants I’ve ever seen. Boy, that Taylor Sheridan wrote amazing scripts. Only one episode to go, and I’ll really miss it. I tried to watch Yellowstone, but much too Soap Opera for me. HBO period piece, Gilded Age, is just a glorified Soap, but the costumes and sets are stunning. And of course Christine Baranski can do snobby so well. Written by Julian Fellows of Downton Abbey.

    Wanted to say as well, all digits crossed that NATO remains mostly united and stops Putin before he causes an even wider war. Sheesh! Give the world a break. This after 2 years of Covid and many things put on hold.
    Proud of Biden administration for tough approach.

    Guess I did it again! Hogged the Blog.
    Thank you for the tremendous time and effort you put in on everything you do for us, Dear Lady.
    Mucho Love, but no guacamole, as can’t find avocados!!
    Debbie in Tampa

    • sbranch says:

      No avocados in Florida??? Something wrong with this picture. Never heard of 1883, put it on my list. Tried to watch Yellowstone, but you’re right, too much soap opera… plus I believe they killed a dog in the first episode (on TV not in real life) but it’s real life to me, and that DID it. No Yellowstone! Didn’t like Gilded Age, SO disappointed, I THOUGHT we’d get HISTORY!!! Rockefellers and the like! I think Julian just put his name on it, I see nothing of him there. Praying for NATO ~ thrilled by how they are pulling together. Want to drop leaflets over the poor MISinformed people in Putin’s Russia. When they discover the truth, like Germany, they will be broken hearted it happened in their name.💔 xoxoxo

  5. Lucia says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just love your post! I’m in sunny Australia at the moment visiting my daughter, and it’s hard to see the winter weather you all are having on the East Cost.
    Can’t wait for the book of quotes you are writing, and look forward to it.
    The trip to England sounds so wonderful, especially, since it’s a Jubilee year!
    Stay safe and thank you for your wonderful post.

  6. Cassandra Nader says:

    Susaaaann!! Love your Willards, as always <3 And reading about your ancestors brought tears to my eyes… How lucky we are to have Grandparents <3

    Love you back,

  7. Viffy says:

    This was a magical blog post! I absolutely loved your table settings (and the story that you received a set of Spode dishes when you bought your house!)
    I’ve also been a fan of watching football, including the Super Bowl. It’s nice to be able to cheer for something once in a while.
    Stay safe, stay warm.

  8. Fran from Michigan says:

    So nice to get your Willard notes. and love the pictures of your home in the winter. I too am snowed in, with freezing rain. Luckily I have enough groceries to keep me fed for a few days. Love that picture of your grandparents and can’t believe how you resemble your grandmother! It could be you in that picture! Have a safe and happy weekend.

  9. Carol Johnson says:

    I was just watching your zoom with the library and it was just wonderful. You mentioned the moon bookmark and that it was in your December newsletter, But I don’t see a link for the dec newsletter. Mine shows 2 for November and then skips to January 2022. Can you tell me where to find it? Thanks for offering it free to us!

  10. Always a joy to stop by for a visit! Such sweet and homey photos and happy thoughts. Love the photos of your grandparents 🙂 Looking forward to the book! xx K

  11. Debbie Boerger says:

    Bless you, Bless you, Miss Sue, you have posted wonderful Tweets. Oh, please, please, let the American people see what can happen here by watching Russia in Ukraine. Isn’t is surreal that American ex-president, Gen. Pompeo, Tucker Carlson are actually sending Aid and Comfort to the Monster. Do they have no shame? Bigger question, Is there any legal way to punish them?

    I’m just beginning to feel better, but my po’ snout is sooo ready to have what feels like 2 telephone poles up my nostrils Gone! Hopefully tomorrow. Love my surgeon, who is about 5 ft. tall, and looks about 15. She recently came back from doing free facial surgeries in Africa. Also love that she is an advocate of more natural healing. I actually had the Arnica Montana from an oral surgery. Was surprised to see this doctor prescribe two weeks of it, and lots of vitamin C, saline spray and ice packs…mine being English peas in Zip Lock snack bags. No Big Pharma necessary…so far. She is part of the Tampa General-USF teaching hospital group. Look it up, one of the top rated hospitals in the SE. We’re extremely pleased. 🙂

    Is that a Repidiograph pen you are using? I have several sets in my shed/studio in Maine which I can mail to you, if you want. My hands can no longer hold them, but there are other ways for me to be an Artist!!!

    Mucho Love and Wellness,
    Debbie in Tampa

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful your surgery is over and you’re on the way BACK!!! Good girl! Yes, Rapidograph pens are my favorite. You are an artist in the way you live and love life dear Debbie!😘😘😘 Could not agree more about what could happen here. I am SHOCKED to see any Americans standing up for that evil murderer. I write Putin on Twitter, use Google translate to speak to him in his own language, and give him a piece of my mind! He could care less, but I feel better.💔💔💔 Pray for America, I am shocked that Democracy, George Washington, the Constitution, the Statue of Liberty, the Sons of Liberty, the soldiers who have fought and give their lives for her, stand beside her and guide her, through the night with a light from above, just don’t seem to CARE anymore. Help!❤️‍🩹❤️‍🩹❤️‍🩹

  12. Cathalee A. Nielsen says:

    Susan, my daughter and I are headed to Boston/Plymouth for a Mayflower Society tour in July. We then plan to head out to Martha’s Vineyard mid-July just for a couple of days. We can’t wait. Just wondering if you could offer some insight to us as to what the “must see’s” or “must do ‘s” would be during that short duration. We appreciate any recommendations you might have! thanks!
    – Cathee and Elizabeth

    • sbranch says:

      Best thing is for you to get the Vineyard Gazette. The publish everything there is to do on the island every week. Including lots of ads for the different restaurants. We use it too, to see what’s going on! Have a wonderful time!

  13. HelenS says:

    Thank you, dear Susan, for your beautiful words and pictures and sentiments and love ❤️ I was feeling overwhelmingly overwhelmed this morning, and reading your lovely WILLARD made. my. day. Thank you. Am SO looking forward to your new book! June cannot come soon enough ❤️ Have an amazing day 😘

  14. dezi says:

    Susan, do you have a link on your blog to your original Willards? I never saw them, I was too new to you and your art, but I did “pin” two of your darling art pieces on pinterest years ago, so I did love your work before I knew you! On facebook, there is a page of “Willard” posted. I would love to read all of them, if it’s at all possible. 👍❤️😊

    • sbranch says:

      I used to have them all in a book … but we recently sold the last one! I’ll have to reprint it! xoxo

      • Dianne in upstate New York says:

        So glad that you are thinking of reprinting the Willard book. Although I have most of the original newsletters (I think that I am missing the first), I would love to have them in a bound form. I can’t wait to hold a copy of Distilled Genius in my hands, as I have always enjoyed the quotes scattered through your books and newsletters. Maybe there will even be a book tour once you return from England. Keeping my fingers crossed

  15. dezi says:

    Lovely girlfriend, Susan,
    Do you by chance have a link on your blog that will take us to all your snail mail Willards? I finally found your blog in March 2020, just after the shutdown, and recently discovered I have “pinned” three Susan Branch art works years ago, back when Pinterest wasn’t owned by Google and has since gone downhill in my opinion. Stupid adverts everywhere now. I noticed you are also on Pinterest but not real active there. I wish it would go back to the way it was, I do not blame you for not being interested in that sight anymore. I love it for the inspiration, but not much else. Please tell me how to find your original Willards, I would love love love to read them.

    • sbranch says:

      I THINK they are listed in the right hand column of the blog … scroll down and see if they’re there. Let me know Dezi!♥️

  16. Debbie Boerger says:

    My, you have such Young friends !!! Orange polenta, yum. Thank you for all the Tweets. Tom and I have such fond memories of our time in Lacock. It was Tom’s first time in the countryside of England. He’d been to London on business for the Government.
    We still haven’t made the final decision about going over this year. I have 2 seats on Aer Lingus for May 1, but that’s not possible. We still have much to do here, and my snoot won’t be ready to travel by then. So, if the airline will allow us to re-book for the 3rd time with no penalty, we may shoot for September and October. Very nice in the South of England that time of year. And not as packed with vacationers.

    Anyway, just another Thank You for flying the Flag of Happiness and Contentment.
    Mucho Love and lots of guacamole, if you can find avocados,
    Debbie in very warm Tampa

  17. Denise Walker says:

    My hobby has been genealogy for years. LOVE old photos. I find the most fascinating tidbits in old newspapers. I found Angeline Martin Jencks’ obituary. Do you have a subscription to a newspaper service? You’ll be hoping to be snowed in to give you the extra research time, once you start searching and reading! LOL I’d be happy to look up anything you need.

    • sbranch says:

      I would LOVE to know where you found that obituary Denise … I googled, but so far, haven’t found anything. 💖

  18. dezi says:

    Thanks so very much! 😉

  19. Janice Hearns says:

    Not a comment. Just know of no other way to contact you. I’m reading a sweet little book that I am sure you would love …. Love & Saffron by Kim Faye. It references Gladys Tabor in the very beginning. Check it out.

  20. Kristy Keller Willhite says:

    Our ancestors were quite possibly neighbors! Mine are the Watjes from Denison and Sioux City, Iowa. How fun!!

  21. Debbie Boerger says:

    Tom and I had to make a hard, sad decision today. Letting our plane tickets to London go for good. With the newest Covid variant on the rise, we just don’t want to take the chance. The Lovey Tom will be 82 in a few days, and has survived heart attack, open heart surgery and major cancer. While he’s very healthy now, I do not want to risk losing my Best Friend, Lover and Husband.

    Dear Lady, how on Earth do you find time to do the political research and share it with us on Twitter? As well as entertain, exercise and draw and paint and answer our questions on Dear Susan Branch. Love the Cover of the new book.
    Mucho Grande Love and Thanks.
    Debbie in Tampa PS I’m washing my grandmother’s crystal today, which is exactly the same as what you recently showed on your table. Very delicate, etched pattern in the tops, stems a series of rings. I think that pattern was popular back then, as an old lady friend had the same thing. There is a light in the china cabinet, which has glass shelves, has a little light in it, and those glasses just glitter. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Yes they do Debbie! and ring like clear bells when you toast! I’m sorry about your plane tickets, that was such a hard decision. But you are following your heart which will never lead you wrong. And that man is a keeper!

  22. Robin Ann says:

    I’d just been re-reading older March blog posts and admiring your arrangements on the shelf over your stove. I’d always thought “oh I like that but I don’t have a shelf over my stove.” Duh! I don’t have a shelf directly over my stove but about two feet above it, there’s an old mantel – not fancy, purely functional – but I’ve had the same things (nice but the same) on it for the seven years I’ve owned this old house. I looked at it just now and thought “I could put out these things I love that I don’t see much…and I can change it once a month” – at the new moon, because that’s how I roll, and these things should be washed once a month anyway. It’s not quite photo ready yet, but I’m having fun playing with it. Thank you for the inspiration!

  23. Debbie Boerger says:

    Thank you So much for putting us onto World Central Kitchen. I’ve spread it to friends who were chatting about how to help.

    Thank you, Dear Lady,
    Debbie in Tampa on a lovely, sparkling Sunday

    • sbranch says:

      How are you Debbie? I’ve had a long month of work! Have been a bit incognito! Back, for the moment anyway… hope your surgery is over and you are feeling good!

  24. Sabra Sayre says:

    Susan, Happy happy birthday to you!

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