What the Heart Doth Know

It doth know so very much: Love, beauty, creativity, curiosity, long walks, books, art, home, furry warm petty pet(s), cozy bed, long sleep, hugs, laughter, a perfect Old Fashioned, a starched curtain, truth, shadows, peace, and beautiful MUSICA! It even knows heartbreak and healing. This is what my heart doth know.💖

I keep trying to end the list but my list does not end! The heart doth know diaries too. And wildflowers from the English Countryside.🥰 And gratitude. The heart doth bend toward beauty.

How are you all doing so far in 2023? How is your heart? Here I am again . . . catching up . . . a little of this, little of that, trying to make hay while the sun is not shining!💖

Despite everything, these days, my heart doth know organization. I mean, check it out! The downstairs bathroom drawer, for the first time, I can find things quickly!! Little box-bottoms have finally organized me! Every time I open it, I smile. I’ve been getting things done!

Yes! First off, the new 2024 calendars are finished and gone to the printer. Clearing the path for everything else on my remarkably obnoxious list! I have mother-creativity tapping on my back, making me want to be in the Studio MAKING something, but Daddy Practicality is saying, you can’t do any of it until you get your work done! 

So I am . . . And the new cups are off being made in England . . .

and as of this moment, they are up for Presale!👏

There will be 3 cups, two large (16 oz): Queen Elizabeth and Santa; the Birthday cup is smaller, 11oz. Be sure to place your order so you get one. I never know how many to order . . . sometimes they last us a while and sometimes they go very quickly! All three are due to leave England by ship at the end of April…something ELSE to look forward to in the spring!🌸

I loved painting the Queen, memorializing her, and our wonderful trip last year where we celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. 70 years. It’s a different world without her. But, I’ve put my paint brushes away for now… because my house (which my heart doth know) is saying, “Susan, where are you, we neeeeeeed you!

While repainting the upstairs floors and ceilings and some of the walls, Joe built me a “closet!”💞💞💞 That perfect little indentation has always been there, used to have a hutch in it. You’ll notice it’s in our bedroom, and open to the room (no doors on the closet, you open the door to the bedroom, and voila, you find a walk-in closet with a bed in it!), once he puts the pole up I will, for the first time since we moved here in 1989, have all my tops, skirts, pants, and jackets in one place. All this time they’ve been in five different tiny closets located throughout the house. Pure unadulterated torture! I do not know how I took it for so long.😊 PLUS, he added a very long shelf! I’m beside myself with joy! So now, we’re sleeping in a closet! I close my eyes at night, snuggled under down comforters, saying goodnight to my clothes. I can not tell you how happy I am! 2023 has been very good to me so far!

Another thing making these long winter nights so cozy is Radio Garden! Remember that? I wrote about it once before, it’s the website RadioGarden.com . . . this is a screen shot of their website. See all those little green lights over the UK and France? Each one of them is a radio station! This website shows lights from every corner of the world . . . pick any one you like and click on it . . . and you’ll find you CAN go home again! There’s a free app you can put on your phone! I turn on my SCALA radio station in London, luv-lee classical musica I fell in love with when we were over there, all of it with an English accent, and put on my phone timer for one hour so it will turn off by itself, and that is how I’ve been falling asleep! And sleeping a delicious eight hours! Unheard of for me for a very long time. I’ve had to work to make this happen. I had a bad habit of waking myself at 3 or 4 in the morning only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep each night. I sleep much better in England where I’m further from my responsibilities. I think my sleep is deeper now because a. I’m sleeping with my clothes, and b. Otherworldly magical faraway dreamy MUSICA fit for a Princess. I can pretend I’m in the English countryside and waking up . . .

to this . . . and the mournful cries from the wood pigeons with bad toes.😍

So, back on the cleaning front, besides closet clean-out, I’ve been reading and filing my piles and piles of saved paperwork, from Christmas cards to sweetest emails from my dad, months-old letters (so behind), and saved artwork (reading all of it has actually been quite a nice thing to do, luv-lee letters and cards from many of you) ~ which leads me to send a shout out to “Sarah W.” who wrote me the most charming letter last April, signed-off with “Bread and Butter,” and her name. I got it just before we left for England. So finally, a reply: Thank you, Sarah!♥️ She is 16, goes to high school in Texas, is a perfect kindred spirit with her watercolors, milk cake, tea, her love of April with “roadside buttercups and dandelions.” I hope she sees this!💖💖💖 And in-between all of this goodness, I’m glass-washing, starching old linens, taking things to the thrift store. The kitchen table got its customary January winter oiling! Was looking a little drab and dried out . . .

Did the spoons too, the cutting board, and wooden countertop. . . everything that’s raw wood.

Here’s how it looks once the mineral oil sinks in which takes a few days . . . pretty eh? And we got this table 32 years ago! I take good care of it ~ I want it to last forever because I still love it! I don’t know why but Jack seems to know something is going on and doesn’t jump on it! 

The color becomes rich and golden like honey, warm and cozy for a winter day . . .

Honey-colored table and bouquets of flowers bring life to the kitchen at a time of year where warmth is the JOB of the kitchen! Are you familiar with alstroemeria flowers? They are the white ones above, but they come in every color, and last much longer than most other flowers ~ making them one of my favorites. A big bouquet looks like Easter! And they are usually one of the least expensive flowers too! I used to grow them in California . . . they’re extremely prolific ~ 

perfect cut flowers for the house! 

So cheery! and Mas MUSICA!

And while we’re feeding our souls and filling our hearts with all it doth know . . . I thought I would mention my Peace Lily plant. Because it’s the most wonderful houseplant, is one of the least-demanding members of our family, so well-behaved and requires so little … no direct sun … really no plant food, every few years it outgrows its pot … you can either move it to a larger pot, or divide it to make new plants ~ or both! Basically it just sits there quietly looking beautiful. This one started out as a tiny thing, but it’s lived in our dining room for over twenty years now, it TELLS us when it wants water, it visibly droops! Which is why it lives so long! A droopy plant tugs your heartstrings and gets watered and holds-on until it does. This plant is a win-win! 

The leaves are shiny green, and it flowers prolifically!

Here’s another easy-growing flowering plant, a Hibiscus! They can’t stay outside here during the winter but it surprisingly does really well indoors, I never knew ~ it pretty much flowers all winter! It sits in front of our south-east facing bedroom windows ~ and we take it out to the porch each summer. Try bringing one in from the garden next winter and see what happens! It’s a joy when it flowers … “Joe! Did you see the Hibiscus??!” Topic of conversation. Morning Science. House plants are a gift, they clean the air, take in your carbon dioxide and provide you with oxygen.💖

That oxygen in the house comes in handy if you’re like me and trying to do a little more of this. My new watch reminds me I need to get up and move ~ I like to make it happy ~ it  rewards me with fireworks!🥰 You can do these without weights when you first start and then add little ones . . . until you feel stronger. I do them during little cracks in the day, like when I’m waiting for the water to boil for tea, waiting for it to brew. It’s a good thing! Winter won’t last forever!

I’ve been doing my mending, hemming pants, sewing up little sweater holes for Joe, and fixing a curtain . . . while listening to excellent Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities on TV, a movie made in 1935 starring Ronald Coleman ~ it’s my kind of multi tasking . . .0mmmmm…

Looked from my chair to the sofa, and there he is . . .

Speaking of cats . . . I received a lovely letter from my niece’s mother-in-law, Shirley, who ended it with this: “P.S. As I am typing, there is a cat napping on my lap, and, because he will slip off if I don’t hold him, I’m typing with one hand. So, if at the end of my life, anyone wonders why I didn’t produce more, I hope someone tells them, ‘She had a cat on her lap.'”😻Happens to me all the time with Jack! It’s a world of kindred spirits! Just one more thing (like when we bend to turn the cat’s bowl to make it easier for him to eat), that knocks off a few years from our time in purgatory.♥️ Kitty Love.

More kitty in the kitchen. I love this picture, my old Country Living decorating roots are showing! Look how the rug almost matches the quilt! That Claire Murray rug was a gift and is one of Jack’s very favorite things. When he is lounging on it, I have to be careful I don’t trip over him ~ he blends right in! And sometimes, when he’s NOT on it, I THINK I am tripping over him! That’ll probably be the way I go, tripping over a non-existent kitty.🤣

I “saw” lots of you when I did my most recent Zoom with Enchanted Book Club. I promised a link to the talk for those of you who couldn’t attend so HERE it is! This photo was sent by Susan Shirley (of Moss Hollow) … a picture of her screen AND her Christmas tree right behind me! All I had to do was turn around! Talking all about Posterity, another thing my heart doth know, yours, mine, and ours.💞

I’m honored that my book, A Fine Romance is the Enchanted Book Club Book-of-the-Month for February!💖 I’ve been getting lots of mail telling me people are having a hard time finding it. And yes I know, because it is out of print once more, and is off being reprinted right now! So proud of that little book. Kellee wanted me to let you know that we have 200 of them left in our studio right now, and that will be that until more come in maybe April, maybe May. All out of Fairy Tale Girl too… and more coming. All ordered, done and dusted!

We also had a bourbon tasting party! Joe made Old-Fashioneds for eight friends, we sat in front of the fire, ate shrimp and dip and drank our delicious drinks. We tried individual tastes of bourbon, and I can say, for me? Bourbon needs to be in an Old-Fashioned, not sitting out there buck-naked with no oranges or cherries! (cough-cough) Here’s Joe’s secret recipe, just in cases:

P.S. Cherries matter . . . we’ve tasted lots of them, and if you can, choose Luxardo brand from Italy! Glorious!🍒 They make your eyes water from goodness.

We still bundle up on the days weather allows and go out to the “Wild air, the world-mothering air,” to hear the waves rolling on shore and breathe in the clean, cold, salty freshness . . . .  

We walk while listening to our new book ~ we’re so excited to read our books-of-the-moment, it makes us WANT to walk even if it’s cold! We finished Dictionary of the Lost Words (wonderful!), and are now deeply madly in love with a new book called Still Life by Sarah Winman. Joe likes it as much as me. Twisty, beautiful, quirky, lovely, a little bit of England after the war, a lot of Italy (you can smell it, you can taste it), all the things we love (the heart doth know), and we’re learning about things we didn’t even know we loved. I read reviews on Amazon and learned that the author used no quotation marks in the hard-copy version of this book, which confused some readers about who was saying what. But it’s read so expertly with different voices for the characters that we don’t even know it. We’re only the first quarter of the way into it. We have 10 hours to go, and walk about 45 minutes a day. Yay! I want it to last!

I wonder how many of you are still getting your Friends of Gladys Taber Newsletter? “Dedicated to Preserving the Timeless Writings of Gladys Taber For the Benefit of Future Generations.”💙 It’s been a long time since I have written about it . . . I still get mine, and love it, but we’ve added so many Girlfriends since I last wrote about her. So if you’ve never heard of her, this is for you! This quarter’s issue has a wonderful quote on the cover from Gladys about making memories ~ her gentle old-fashioned way of writing is such a treat in this wild world, and this 40-page newsletter that’s sent out every two months via snail mail (never online), is perfect with a cup of tea, and a kitty you can hold on your lap because you can read AND drink with only one hand! From times gone by, there are recipes for treats for birds, kitties, and dogs. And treats for people too. Stories of penpals, bounty from the Quiet Garden, the charm of the seasons, and love of pets ~ also reprints of Gladys’s column called Butternut Wisdom first published way back in last century, and much more. A place where kindness, gratitude, and memories abound . . . If you’d like to learn more or sign up to receive the newsletter, I wrote a  post about her HERE … there’s a link there where you can sign up! And ideas for where you can find her delightful books. That’s Gladys’s charming Stillmeadow above, the pre-Revolutionary home that she wrote so much about. Love exudes from the imagination of Gladys Taber, appreciator of life, hygge ahead of her time.💖

“For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” Isn’t that PERFECT? And here comes Valentine’s Day, sweet day of showing Love . . . What the world needs now! We have lots of things in our webstore to help you do that, lots of cards, a darling heart-throb bookmark in Free Stuff, some fun stuff in Vintage, more Fine Romance loose tea, and lots of other little things to make the heart of a kindred spirit go pitty-pat.

And although my mom’s cereal with red candy hearts is always a sweet and simple way to show love ~ oatmeal with apples, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds is also a wonderful “Good Morning I love you” breakfast for the big day.🍒 This is sweet too, fry an egg in a cookie cutter! All free, all you!

Sweet saying I got from Twitter, “In a world full of cracks . . . be a weed . . .” The world is rough these days, the news reports of cruelty hurt …. there is no reason we can’t strive to give it back a bit of its lost heart. If you’ve got it, my darlings (which you do), flaunt it. Feed your own soul, because that’s the beginning of everything. Never ever lose hope.❤️‍🩹

Thanks so much for everything dear Girlfriends. I couldn’t do it without you . . . I want you to take that personally! 💘  With all my love . . .

Back to work I go. Want to get back to Mother Creativity as quickly as I can! Maybe sister travel too!👏👏👏 ♥️

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106 Responses to What the Heart Doth Know

  1. lak says:

    I had my morning coffee with this Willard and loved every minute of it!

  2. Wanda McCay says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’ve had The Book of Stillmeadow ever since I read your book years ago about buying the little house in Martha’s Vineyard. I love Gladys Tabor and her writing (almost as much as I do you and yours), and I often reread Stillmeadow according to the seasons. She is just one of the many, many jewels you’ve shared that truly enrich our lives. Thank you – and wishing you and Joe a sweet and happy Valentine’s Day☺️❤️!

  3. Peggy Willoughby says:

    Your blog is a super way to start my day. Thank you, Susan.
    My husband travels north on Monday to assist his daughter in caring for her gang. Hooray for me because I have the house to myself for 2 weeks. A mini vacation alone. A quieter house. Refreshes our relationship when he returns. Also a chance for me to go through drawers and closets. What needs to go? What do we no longer wear or need or care for?
    I work on line a few days a week, often with one of my small dogs on my lap. One time a paw stretched out onto the keyboard and knocked me out of my work. Upon returning to the website I notified my scoring leader that the pup on my lap did it. I was chastised for having a pet on my lap. I couldn’t believe that! Does she not understand the value of our fur baby assistants?
    Happy January. Thank you for new mugs. Thank you for your creative abilities.

    • sbranch says:

      Crazy reaction! No getting out of purgatory for HER!(or him, whichever). Stuck there for life!🤣 Love who you are Peggy, stay that way! Enjoy your alone time!❌⭕️❌⭕️

  4. Annette Baker says:

    Grateful for your voice this chilly morning. Love and petty pet cuddles to all.

  5. Linda Ishmael says:

    Your Willard’s always seem to arrive when my spirit most needs a lift. Today it’s dreary and rainy and all around blah. Loved Joe’s recipe for an Old Fashion! Here in Kentucky bourbon flows through our veins and Makers is a top contender. The Top 20 KY Bourbons list for 2023 is out if you want to know about other bourbons. liquorlaboratory.com. Y’all need to visit Kentucky for one of the many bourbon tours- tastings and see if another bourbon could become your favorite. Enjoy your time refreshing your home!

    • sbranch says:

      What’s your favorite? I’ve just found Makers Mark makes a perfect Old Fashioned, but I’m no connoisseur. My dad wasn’t a drinker, but when he did have a drink, it was always Bourbon. I thought it smelled like heaven. Would make a great perfume… except for that one little problem of it being alcohol!😆

  6. Anna says:

    RadioGarden.com is truly delightful! I traveled by finger-clicking and visited stations across England, Ireland, Scotland and even crossed to Norway and Belgium. The station in County Cork, Ireland was not available in my area. To hear oldies American pop songs was surprising. Inverness had a young songstress singing a traditional Scottish folk song that was hauntingly beautiful.
    And you gave me another book to read – Still Life. Thank you!
    We are looking forward to Valentine’s Day! We have long thought of it as a national holiday for our dear ones.
    Thank you for this edition of Willard!

    • sbranch says:

      You are welcome, Anna … glad RadioGarden is taking you traveling!!! I think that’s exactly what they want their site to do!😘

  7. Sandi+from+the+Cape says:

    Oh what a sweet treat on a cold New England morning finding your Willard! As always, love your heart and that darling boy Jack! I’m excited for your new closet and would love to see a picture of it all loaded up! Happy day to you!

    • sbranch says:

      Ha ha, thought I might put up a picture, but thought that might be going to far! It’s just a closet. But for me, it’s the cat’s meow!😘😘

  8. Mary+Brehm says:

    Good morning Sue. I just finished your lovely post while having my morning coffee. I slept until almost 8 which is crazy late for me. I too am in the middle of cleaning and trying to organize. It overwhelms me actually. The thinking about doing it is actually worse than the doing it. Once I get going it feels good and spurs me on to do more.
    I have promised myself to make more time in my day to be creative. I have a room upstairs, my hubby lovingly calls the “nest”. I step into that room and feel all of the tension leave my body. It’s a cozy mess. (I am a messy creator/worker). I am currently working on some wool appliqué hearts for Valentines day. They are coming out really pretty! I have quilt books with pages marked for future projects. I get overwhelmed by all of the possibilities and can’t wait to get started. Of Course, I have a ton of UFOs that should be finished first but, I always seem to be looking toward the next new project.
    I just looked up radio garden and am excited to add it to my listening play list. I have been listening to Dan Gibson “Solitudes” on Youtube. It’s lovely and quiet and has nature sounds, Birds and trickling water. So calming.
    I am so excited for you and your new bedroom Closet! Isn’t it wonderful to have a handy husband? Keep up the good work Joe!
    We are getting some snow here this afternoon. I love it. Makes the house feel all cozy and is the perfect excuse to snuggle in.
    Sending love and hugs, Mary
    P.S. We too, love a good Old Fashioned! Perhaps we’ll be making some this evening. The Luxardo Cherries are the best!!!

    • sbranch says:

      How could you BE more creative?🤣 Between you and your gorgeous sewing and that bread-making husband of yours, it looks to be a constant thing at your house! Love hearing your beautiful words, makes me just want to do more! Going to go ask Joe for an Old Fashioned! Cheers! 🥃🥃♥️

  9. Charlene says:

    Thank you for brightening what will be very scary day! I will face it with hope in my heart! ❤️

  10. Every word and image doth warm my heart, dear Susan!💕 We are both on the same path in this new year. My ‘word’ for 2023 is Simplify. I’m working my way through our cozy, little home decluttering and curating my collections day-by-day. I will always be surrounded by things that I love, but “just the right amount,” leaving more time for creative hours in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. Oh, the possibilities! ✨ Joe is doing an amazing job upstairs!
    I can just feel the happiness in your words, Susan! Our gathering with the Enchanted Book Club was truly delightful. How many Girlfriends were there? I often think of our ‘behind the scenes’ visit, while talking and nibbling cookies, at Prairie Path Books. So heartwarming! Snowflakes are falling in Chicagoland this morning. Can’t wait for a quiet, snowy walk!
    Heartfelt thanks for a delightful post, as always! Sending warmest hugs!
    💗 Dawn

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Dawn!! We’re on the same track! I know we had around a thousand Girlfriends sign up, but I don’t know how many actually came. Such a fun thing to be able to do. Love/Hate continues with the internet, with way more Love from me!!! Loved seeing you at Prairie Path … another gorgeous day in 2022!♥️♥️♥️

  11. Linda M Lepage says:

    SUSAN,
    Wonderful as always. Your blog post is a bright spot in my day!
    Hugs to you and Joe AND Jack!
    Linda from PA

  12. Jill Beck says:

    I skipped the New York times this morning to read Willard. Happier news for sure!!! Thank you.

  13. Carolyn Wilson says:

    I feel such a kinship with you, dear Susan. My winter’s days are filled with organizing and mending as well. Not as much as I would like with my full time job as receptionist. But come home time I’m right there with projects. So satisfying and freeing to clear living spaces to make room for creativity. New ideas are blooming. Our dearest petty pets are 100 percent love, always. Am thrilled to have ordered your Blessed cup and Queen Elizabeth cup! Plus have subscription for Gladys Tabor in the works. Thank you for your inspiration!💞🌈

  14. Stacy Rodriguez says:

    Every month I mean to comment and let you know what a hand-clapping, jump up-and-down, and grab my cup of tea moment seeing my new Willard in my Inbox is! I forward them to friends. I love the Musica (although on my iPad, I can’t get it to play while I read my newsletter for some reason)! I love the simple peace and beauty that flows through me when I read it and look at your lovely home and pictures. Sigh. I scrolled down to see the New Years’ newsletter, which I’d somehow missed, and saw your illustration of the house where the roof says “Reasons to Keep on Living.” Those would make GREAT stationery!!! Hint. Hint. God bless you and keep you warm and safe!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Stacy ~ my heart doth love that!🤣🥰 Yes, can’t do that same thing, listen to musica and read blog at the same time on an iPad! My dad used to complain of that too! Gotta alert the powers that be to fix that!

  15. Maria says:

    Such a delicious post. I absolutely love when you write about anything home related & I love seeing your cozy, sweet, beautiful home. So looking forward to Spring…seeing the leaves come back on bare branches, seeing little crocuses pop up, grass turning green, more sunlit days, open windows & warm breezes…I can’t wait! You’ve inspired me to get back to taking care of my own home. Spring cleaning is my favourite! xo

  16. Tracy O says:

    Susan, thank you for the bright spot of joy and beautiful things. We all need it.

  17. Pat W. says:

    Dear Susan….how your words brighten a rather dreary January day…I do not know how you manage it all……but…..so extremely glad that you do. From all of us out here who look forward to your Willard (such a sweet surprise!), our hearts say thank you.

  18. Cris+M says:

    So enjoyed your latest Willard. Been needing the upbuilding I get reading it. The positivity. 💕
    Been cleaning and organizing too. Winters good for that. I love those alstroemerias..first time I ever heard of them was a few years back when they were sent to us on our April anniversary. They came closed up and looked wilted. I thought..okay..?? but within a day or so they opened beautifully and lasted weeks. 🫶 They send them every year now. So enjoy them. I’m not sure I can grow them here in Oregon but I’d love to. Do you grow them there? I Also grow pathos in the house. Have one given to me in the 80 ies as a house warming gift when living in California. I cut and root shoots and plant in pots ..easy growing. Also have begonias wintering in our sunroom. Third year for them. Back to porch in summer. Simple pleasures. 💕

    • sbranch says:

      Too cold to grow alstroemeria here, they are a perennial, but don’t live through a freeze. Too bad. I grew them in California and they are a gift that keeps on giving. Yes, perfect … simple pleasures.♥️

  19. Paulette Feld says:

    Interesting that you brought up Old Fashioneds. There is currently a disagreement around the state of Wisconsin debated what belongs in one. The debate is whether they are made with Brandy or Whiskey. It’s the official state cocktail I think, so that’s appropriate. I guess it’s better than arguing about politics, which we do so well.

    • sbranch says:

      Ha ha! Makes me think of the Jane Austin quote, “From politics it was an easy step silence.”🤣 For us, to add to your conundrum, it’s always been Bourbon!! Probably depends on which you like best!🥃

  20. Dani says:

    Will you be writing a book about your trip to England during the Jubilee year?

  21. PJ says:

    On this gray and snowy day, your post brought light and joy to my day. The inclusion of Gladys Taber was the icing on the cake. When I was a young mom recovering from surgery, a dear librarian friend brought me several Gladys Taber books. I always felt as if I were reading a letter from a grandmother. Well, now I am the grandmother and can only hope that my letters could be as eloquent as hers. When the roads are clear again, I will drive to Battenkill Books to pick up my copy of A Fine Romance. Connie tells me that she was able to order it from you. Hooray! It will be my Valentine week reading. Thank you for the hope and compassion that you pour into the world.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh that makes me happy that you can get it from an Independent Bookstore! Good for Connie getting it from us … we love helping the Independents but don’t get the chance as much as we’d like! Thank you for the kind words PJ … I’m so happy I wrote about Gladys Taber again today … love hearing the joy she brings people … just like she did with me!♥️

  22. Sandy Monnin says:

    Thank you, dear Susan, from one of your ardent fans, who also happens to be diametrically opposed to you politically, but deeply bonded to you in all the things that count! You are and always will be a treasure to me!

  23. Shannon(Pennsylvania) says:

    So many soul lifting things in this blog!! I first met you virtually in 2011 when I was doing a google search for anything Gladys Taber related. I’d been a fan of hers since the ‘60’s when I read the Butternut Wisdom columns in my mom’s Family Circle magazines. I’d just become aware of the FOGT group thanks to the internet and was delighted to join. Your name popped up in my search for GT related information…sweet serendipity! In 2014 I made my second visit to her beloved Stillmeadow, and met you in person there. I remember your talk to the group…it was your first visit and you told us how you’d gotten teary when you first stepped into her home. Every soul in the room could relate to that because it was our same experience, too. Such a lovely reunion. By the way, I spied your lipstick…I really like Color the World! My current shade is Cashmere (Protect the Kittens) Love the product, the packaging, and the company’s support of good causes❤️

    • sbranch says:

      It was lovely wasn’t it Shannon? I was looking over my photos of that day, reliving my visit a bit. Brought it all back. Thank goodness for cameras! Yes, and great lipstick too! I got it from my girlfriend Lowely and love it!💖

  24. Barbara Anne says:

    What a delight to get Willard, see the pictures, recipes, and wise words. Gladys Tabor was and is a treasure. Thank for sharing her again.
    I recently read “The Dictionary of Lost Words” and LOVED it! Have you read Margaret Renkl’s “Late Migrations”? It’s wonderful, too.
    We’re wishing for snow but got just rain and that’s gotta be okay. Weird January, though.

    Hugs!

  25. Debbie Boerger says:

    OH, How I adore this Willard!! I know I’m in the good company of the Long Chain of Women who tend the “Little Things”. Those are the Glue that keep a home together. Did I make that up, or did I possibly read it somewhere?
    Sitting together after supper, reading, I spilt water on the side table with our favorite poetry (The Lovely sometimes reads it aloud) We both had to scurry to get the books dry. Tom then re-read his mom’s very old copy of The Rubiat. We chose a line to use in our Marriage Vows in 1987. Also one from The Profit.
    And..Tom’s hibiscus is blooming. Big Whoop. It’s an outdoor one that has deep red blooms. Our place is a very small town house, the middle unit, so we don’t get enough sun inside. No complains, as it’s usually sunny here in Ballast Point, Tampa.
    Mucho Grande Love and Gratitude for this Gift.
    Debbie

  26. Laura says:

    Dear Susan, your words are always so inspiring and uplifting! You can’t imagine how dear you are to me: your warmth, your wisdom, your love of life are a precious gift and a true blessing . Thank you

  27. Betsy says:

    You just made my day a lot sunnier! I love reading your posts. I too am clearing and organizing. It gives me such a good feeling to have less chaos in this crazy world. I was in a car accident 4 weeks ago and I walked away from a totaled car but I’ve been dealing with the aftermath of seeing a car plow into the door where I was sitting. Right now I’m working on giving myself some grace. I’ll get back in a car again. I’m the meantime it’s Hardy soups, embroidery gifts for this coming Christmas and reading.

    • sbranch says:

      How traumatic Betsy! Self care is a wonderful thing . . . sometimes hard to take that time, but I too have learned how essential it is. ♥️♥️♥️

    • PJ says:

      I was in a crash in the spring. My beloved Subaru was totaled when another driver passed through a stop sign and hit our car. Fortunately we were fine, but it took months before I felt comfortable driving again. I forced myself to drive the next day, but found myself driving excessively slow. Now I finally feel confident again, though I still shudder when I pass through that intersection where the crash happened. Be patient with yourself, Betsy, please.

      • sbranch says:

        So sweet of you to help PJ. xoxo

      • Betsy says:

        PJ, I can’t thank you enough for your kind words. I was hit by a young man who ran the red light and was on his phone. He reported to the police that he was talking to his mother. My heart went out to the poor woman having to overhear the entire incident in real time.

  28. Larkin Myers says:

    Took a little break from the day to read this Willard. My state is trying to pass laws that will endanger trans kids (including my own) and my heart was just breaking this morning. This jolt of love and inspiration is just what I needed. We just keep pushing forward and loving our little corner of the world. Thank you Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure Larkin, this is what I was talking about. Too many marginalized people not feeling like they belong, feeling unwelcome in their own country. Very hurtful for everyone, and I mean even the ones doing the harm. Despite the challenges, things ARE getting better. And as they do, haters will scream louder, and these days, meaner. Blessings, protections and hugs to you and your family. Praying love WILL overcome, live and let live . . . my mom said it every day. 💘

  29. Trisha says:

    My mother was an avid reader of Gladys Taber. She visited both her homes when she went yearly to stay in a 200+year old captains house in Woods Hole. She loved Titcomb’s Bookshop. She ordered from her home in Chicago many, many Taber Books. That shop hooked her up with an elderly gentleman bookseller. She had many out of print, and many just really old and in good shape volumes of GT. Mom turned me on to her years ago. Mom died January 2022. When I cleaned out her house I inherited 30!!! 30 GT books! I only owned 5! I read, them then reread them all of them time. I wish more people knew her in this stressful and busy time. Reading her, and reading you, is a form of meditation for me. They take me to a place of great comfort and joy. I LOVE that you Love Gladys. Bottom line, the simple things in life are what make a wonderful, colorful, comfortable life for us all. Much love your way, Trisha

    • sbranch says:

      She was a wonderful teacher for everyone. Pure common sense! Lovely gift your mom gave you!!! When I first started writing about Gladys most people I met didn’t know about her . . . now I meet her readers all the time. I think the message is getting out there and definitely not just from me! 👏👏👏❌⭕️

  30. Martha Martinez says:

    Dear Susan,

    This was wonderful to read. You made me laugh out loud several times. Thank you for that!! Happy day to you!

    Martha A.

  31. Linda Zimmer says:

    Lovely as usual! You are a kindred spirit to so many. Thank You!
    Linda n West Virginia

  32. Thea says:

    That letter made my day! ❤️ t

  33. Susie Durrschmidt ~ LI, NY says:

    It’s a red letter day for me when I see Willard waiting in the wings. Oh joy! This one had me laughing out loud throughout. Thank you for that Susan. My heart doth know I adore you so. And Jack – He has grown into a kitty man! So “stately”. I chuckled over you saying you may fall over the rug when Jack isn’t even there! So funny because I understand! I am excited to be in on the next batch of mugs. I didn’t want to miss that and will get The Queen. Oh how I miss her! Blessings and love to you, Joe, Jack and The Girlfriends. xo

  34. Ellen Marie says:

    Dear Susan, hope you received my holiday card and cat letter. I used that same quote from the Brown Fairy book in it and gave credit to you also. (TYSB)
    I write this on a winter day in NEOhio with a cat on my lap. ❤️😻
    TY for this blog today❣️

    • sbranch says:

      You are so welcome. I did get your card . . . I wish I had time to answer everyone, but those days are way over! Thank you for thinking of me, it truly does make my day!💞

  35. Becky from Kansas says:

    Susan thank you for bring a bit sunshine to my gray , cold day. As I am writing this my boys are barking at the mailman as he is walking down the street. It is a highlight of their day. I am also organizing and going through.my things. It is very much a work in progress. Have a great day.

  36. Susie Durrschmidt ~ LI, NY says:

    I wanted to highly recommend a book. Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan. It took my breath away. I laughed. I cried. I kept putting it down because I did not want it to end. I fell into their life and did not want to leave. A love story of great magnitude. I took it out of the library and now want to own it for my very own, to treasure. When I finished the book, I held it against my chest and said, “I have to have this book”. The heart doth know. Yes, I am a romantic. It takes place in England. Based on two real authors, C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman.

  37. Monica Wilson says:

    Because of your inspiration, Susan, my husband and I are off to England in April, taking the train to Oxford, the Cotswolds, the Lake District, up to Edinburgh, then down to York and back to London. I just got figured out our B&B and hotel reservations. We are so excited! Oh – Alstromeria flowers were in my wedding bouquet – one of my favorite flowers! And Still Life was one of my favorite books of 2022! Thank you for all the love and beauty you share with us!

  38. Belle Ausbun says:

    Just wondering if your newsletter is the same as the Willard letter? 😍

  39. Christine Anderson says:

    My grandmother always shared the quote to buy Hyacinths for the Soul!
    She also reminded me to Look up so I would always enjoy the sunset! I learned to enjoy the world around me very young and have loved to share this message with my Children and now my grandchildren. You share this message which is why i love your books and your blog. Thank you, you make me smile!

    • sbranch says:

      Your Grandmother sounds like a very wise woman! And look what she gave you! Blessings galore! Thank you Christine.♥️♥️♥️

  40. Laura Ann in Vermont says:

    Dearest Susan, I’ve wanted one of your mugs ever since you started making them, and I am excited to say that I have finally pre-ordered your Queen Elizabeth mug! I had a little birthday money from my dad and I decided this would be the very best treat he could get me. I felt a deep loss when the Queen passed away and I think your mug is a wonderful tribute to who she was and all that she gave us. I look forward to being reminded of that whenever I drink my tea.

    About Old-fashioneds: the last time my husband made them for us, he tried Joe’s trick with the orange and we thought it was delicious! We plan to make them this way in the future whenever there is an orange in the house. But one thing we do differently from him, instead of using simple syrup, we use a teaspoon of maple syrup and a splash of water. We call that a Vermont Old-fashioned!

    • sbranch says:

      Ha ha, that’s the good thing, you make it your very own!!🥃 I’m so glad you got a Queen Elizabeth mug, I can’t wait to see them!!!💖

  41. Kathy J says:

    Speaking of both cats and alstroemeria, mine absolutely will not leave it alone if I have some in a bouquet! She climbs on the table and pulls it out of the vase multiple times per day. I don’t know why, but now I try to avoid it (even though it’s so pretty) because she has been known to knock over the whole vase while she’s trying to get at the alstroemeria. Oh, well, small price to pay for my own sweet petty pet 🙂
    As usual, Willard was full of sweetness and light–always a pleasure to hear from you, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      Jack likes to eat flowers too… I go outside and cut him a little bowl of grass which he LOVES. Seems harmless according to Google. No price is too high to pay for that kitty love! 😽

  42. Melin Holley says:

    Oh our dear Susan,
    You spread the LOVE of a daughter who was well loved by her Mommy. I too am one of those girls and appreciate all that LOVE that you share with us girlfriends. My Mommy has been in heaven for nearly 37 years (way to young) and I still miss her so, as I am sure you do of your Mommy.
    LOVE,
    Melin
    xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Absolutely. This book I’m reading is reminding me how much parents love their children, how they want to KNOW them, how they fear them growing up and going away. I feel that very love from my mom, at all times, but probably even more now. Such a gift. 💖💖💖

  43. Beth Buckley says:

    Dearest Susan,
    This Willard brings so much joy as we are enduring another dreary day here in New England. I will remember all the quotes. Thanks for the book recommendation, Still Life by Sarah Winman. I’m going to order a copy from my library today. Be well and enjoy your new closet!

  44. Linda Pintarell says:

    Needed a dose of “Susan” today; thank you. Took notes: how to make Old Fashion (need to buy those special cheeries); books to read; thoughts to ponder; Valentines Day to plan, etc. etc. My early morning consisted of Moh’ surgery on skin cancer. California girl, bred and born, and paying for those lovely sunny days on the beach. However, what fond memories!

  45. Gloria Howard says:

    If you want another book recommendation: Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng is so, so good. I think you will love it.

  46. Barbara Vlcek-Vinikow says:

    Greetings Susan!

    Your Willard is always such a joy to read! It’s so soothing to see the pictures you post of your cozy kitchen, adorable Jack, and the beautiful flowers & lovely green house plants! I’m inspired to buy some flowers today…hopefully tulips, which are always so cheery on a cold winter’s day! However,at least we have bright sunshine here in Reno!

    My husband & I just returned from a driving trip up to Oregon. The journey north was a real white knuckle experience; icy/snowy roads up thru CA, then pouring buckets of rain in southern OR. Normally, we don’t choose to do road trips in the winter, however we had a special reason to do this one. We had tickets to hear Itzhak Perlman perform with the Oregon Symphony in Portland, and we were treating my 93 yr old auntie & my cousin, who live there. So, fortunately we made it, and Mr. Perlman’s performance of the Bruch violin concerto was splendid!!! During our week in OR we also visited with many dear friends, as well as family. The return trip was sunny & dry and, thankfully, the road conditions were much better. It was a thrill to see beautiful snow-covered Mt. Shasta glistening against the amazing azure blue skies!!!

    I am looking forward to Valentine’s Day and will soon display a few special decorations that I have collected over the years. I also bought your pretty Go Be Love hearts that I will give to the very special people in my life!

    I’m so glad to know that you are doing well, keeping busy with your creative endeavors , domestic projects, interesting books & walks to the beach.
    Sending you & Joe & Jack lots of love and wishing you a Happy💕 Valentine’s💕 Day!!
    BVV

    • sbranch says:

      Your trip sounded like it was all worth every moment of the white knuckle-ness! Beautiful. Glad you’re safely home with a beautiful memory! Thank you Barbara, Happy Valentine’s Day!♥️

  47. Ikwig says:

    Will have to order a Queen Elizabeth II mug to keep company with the teacups I recently inherited (celebrating her coronation). And I wanted to mention, speaking of cats on laps, that my daughter and I have discovered a marvelous way to “have our cake and eat it too” as it were: I hold the book and read aloud, she turns the pages as necessary, and then we both have a free hand to pet the kitties on our laps! Thank you for a marvelous Willard to brighten the dark winter days!

  48. Linda P says:

    Great Willard as always. And a special thank you for the trip down memory lane. I read all of the Gladys Tabor books our library had. in the 60’s. Loved reading about your connection. She inspired my love of country living. Thank you again.

    • sbranch says:

      A left-behind book of hers was a gift I found in the old house I bought when I moved here to Martha’s Vineyard! How lucky!

  49. rory daniels says:

    So wonderful to leave a comment. I’ve been saving your “Willard” emails since I received my first one many years ago. I get such delight reading them, and if I remember correctly the first one I received had cookie recipes, which were so fun to make.
    Your creative, whimsical drawings are beautiful, as well as the quotes from others. Quotes are one of my favorites too. I always seem to find the right one to send to another who needs it for the moment. Thank you for sharing your spirit and gift. Rosemarie aka. Rory

  50. Mary Lawrence says:

    When I think of America the beautiful, I think of you.Always kind,inspirational, and hopeful.May 2023 be a year of America finding herself in a better place,we have a ways to go.Love the blog,Happy Valentines day to you and Joe.Fondly,Mary Lawrence

  51. Lori Fernandi says:

    Is anyone else having trouble printing the chicken & tea bookmarks?

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