Bloody Hot

 . . .And we’re STILL doing it! MUSICA.Bloody hot almost everywhere in this country 🥵, and here too, but I have some ideas on how to fight back because THIS reality is unbearable! Gotta get some fun out of life! But first, Kellee is getting lots of phone calls asking what are Susan and Joe doing, are they moving, where are they moving, when are they going,  will there be an estate sale?  So she asked me to say: Yes!  Joe, Jack, and I are moving to California (where I grew up) and we’re putting our wonderful old house on Martha’s Vineyard up for sale! I know. Seems crazy because of how much we love it. Love this old house. Far as I’m concerned, in my mind it is always going to be mine.  Love our neighborhood. Love the seasons, love the people, LOVE MY GIRLFRIENDS, love it all.  But there is a time for every purpose under heaven and we’ve been gifted with 35 glorious years as the “caretakers” of this house. Now it’s time for someone else to take over and enjoy all the fruits of all the labors of every single person who has ever lived here for the last 175 years, not to mention the history or the DNA of love.💖 My strongest feeling now is gratitude and of feeling SO LUCKY.👏 And Yes, the other question being asked,  there will be an Estate Sale. Not forgetting. 💞Our Vineyard house is 3,500 square foot, but we’re moving into 1,800. We only get to take a third of our stuff! Which means years and years of happy antiquing treasures will have to be left behind! It’s going to be a fun estate sale! 👏I will put the date here as soon as I know it, but probably in a couple of months, after the house is sold. And YAY!  Joe and I get to have new adventures. AND . . . I get to redecorate!!! How bad can it be? SO win-win. Plus, we’ll be back to visit in the seasons we love best, and when we do, we’ll take you with us! 💞All is well, we have glorious memories, plans to make more, the beat goes on, the floors in our CA house are all one level and no steep ship-captain stairs,  all is as it should be! Did I mention how much I love my girlfriends?💖And here’s where we’re going:

Look! Year-round gardening! No ice! And note: Fog. Glorious, cool, delicious, morning fog comes up from the Pacific, and pretty much stops at the house next door, making our weather slightly cooler than any around, and very good for roses and sweet peas. And low humidity. I’d pay big money for that right now. But we don’t have to because we’ve had this California house for 23 years. 👏

  All the details about our move . . . are in the blog archives of every Willard I’ve written since the end of March 2024 (scroll down and look on the right of this page for ARCHIVES) ~ and there are even more details if you go back to February! AND NOW, FOR “BLOODY HOT” . . . because who doesn’t want to talk about this ridiculous weather!!😳Idea #1: Turn on the music and take a nice cool bubble bath … Feet up, window open, birds singing, a cup of tea! Put on something loose and forget about the shoes… Go downstairs and feel the cold floor on your bare feet . . . make a pile of ice cream sandwiches to put in the freezer! And there’s more! 💝

Make it a throwback Summer ~ Fill it with charm. Set your mind at ease . . . Watch the entire series of Ted Lasso, it’s just as good the 2nd or 3rd time ~ pure calgon-take-me-away. Makes you realize how beautiful people can be and mostly are. More charm? Read Enchanted April . . . a wonderful book that starts on a cold rainy day in London. Brrr. Go into the kitchen and whip up cool, bright, fresh summer food! Have an outdoor dinner party with your friends under the moon and stars ~ hoist a sheet to a tree, set up some chairs, do a slide show of all your old photos, or have an early morning breakfast party! (Remember, mosquitos don’t like wind over 10 mph!) Or enjoy it all inside, right in front of the air conditioner!! Make the moments last forever, take lots of pictures . . . for the memories. And despite everything, you know this summer will never come again.

Drink a Pink Grapefruit splash with lots of ice, in a tall glass with straws!

Make Honey Crisp Apple Coleslaw, with cold lobster or shrimp, and easy creamy lime dressing … topped with leaves of your choice

It’s the perfect time of year for ice-cold, fresh, healthy, crunchy delicious Gazpacho ~

Make it a main dish with the addition of steamed shrimp or lobster ~ delicious with a dollop of sour cream topped with a chive flower.

Homemade crunchy granola, the best! Filled with toasted nuts and seeds and fruit and orange zest sweetened with honey and maple syrup … use gluten free Bob’s Red Mill oats… Good with fruit stirred into yogurt, or sprinkle it over cereal, cover with fresh fruit, and cold milk.

I always keep the ingredients for my Linguini in Clam Sauce on hand for a spontaneous summer dinner, its a big favorite … Start with Gazpacho and have this with Blogdaddy’s garlic bread and a glass of ice cold rose! (I always thought that EVERYONE made garlic bread like this . . . but now I know it’s not true. So here’s the recipe for something, once you taste it, you will long for it the rest of your life!)

Taste-bud excitement, a recipe my mom used to make … I’ve always loved the textures in Avocado and Grapefruit salad!

And this, Cold Asian Quinoa Salad with pea pods, nuts, raisins, green onions, fresh ginger, lime zest, a bit of this and that, sesame oil dressing … great to take to a party!

Breakfast of champions . . . crunchy Blueberry Corn Cakes with real maple syrup . . .

Fried eggs…

And don’t forget German Pancake! So impressive! Food for the tastebuds AND the eyeballs!

Make it extra special, even birthday special, have your summer breakfast outside under a tree, and include Baked Bananas with a scoop of ice cream… and ice cold fresh squeezed orange juice. 🍊 YUM! Right?

What do all these Summer Dishes have in common? These, and so many more (Lemon Chicken! Basil Ice Cream!), are in the updated 30th-Year Anniversary Edition of my first book, Heart of the Home, which besides recipes, the kitchen garden, and other things, is filled with the hopes and dreams of a whole lifetime as I think you can tell when you read it! Here’s an excerpt from my 1985 diary while I was writing it…

For this Anniversary version I added lots of new recipes . . . here I’m painting the recipe for “Beer Butt Chicken.”

Heart of the Home was my dream, a homemade book for a homemade life ~ so unexpected that it happened the way it did, and it changed everything for me. You never get too old for that yearning, that wonderful desire to do more, be more, to be a Valentine for the world. In our crazy world, I worry that dreams could get set aside, even lost. What fun would life be without dreams? In your heart, divide the world from you. Go there when you need to. The world still needs us, and as a group we need to do our best to make it a good one, but you can still live the life you dream if you put you and those dreams first… Go there first, go to social media second because if all we do is talk about it every day, we’ll never get anything done!!!

Use your own rules for making things wonderful, just like Ben Franklin did in his autobiography, yours are the only rules that matter . . . look at this wonderful bookend . . . this was one of my life rules, and will always be! I’ve found nature’s teachings wherever I’ve gone, and feel very happy to go forth in the quest for more!!!

While packing both Joe and I have discovered wonderful memories hidden in folders and files, in the barn attic, and between covers of books! Look at this! Christmas 1992! A party for 50 on the 23rd, a Christmas eve dinner on the 24th, Christmas Breakfast, and Christmas dinner for 17 … all the guests and all the food! What fun!!! It’s good to be young and not know what you’re getting yourself into! Thank goodness “Heather” came and did the party dishes! I remember feeling so decadent having her!

And this from 1996 . . . a Christmas card from Mrs. Bowditch and a letter from me to her ~ she’s the wonderful garden person who lived in our house from 1949 to 1980 with her Dr./woodworker husband and four children …  She was 91 when she sent me this Christmas card, and as I told her at the end of my letter, I was 49 and Joe was 45! I am keeping a copy, but the originals will go with the house along with these . . .

. . . lovely old photos that were given to us when we bought the house! Going to keep the history going!The new owner can look back at my blog and even at my calendars (especially my 2021 photo calendar) and pretty much figure out what this house was doing in every season, in snowstorms and nor’easters, Summer nights, Halloween, Memorial Day, in the garden, or my Studio, in the kitchen, and under the arbor, for years and years!⛄️☀️🌷🍂

They’ll meet Jack . . . my boy.💝

. . . and they’ll find the little graves of his predecessors, the Man kitties and Girl kitties who’ve shared our lives, buried in the garden under the marble stones behind the barn. 

Here is Girl Kitty II on HER cross-country trip in our van… she loved it!💞 We did too! Now it’s Jack’s turn! Fingers crossed for him! (And us!)😳

They’ll know all there is to know about this move, and they’ll mourn when they realize we took our famous upstairs-window Halloween ghost with us.👻 I’m so sorry, he asked to go, and who are we to say no. And I’m thinking, depending on how things go, he would probably make a good housewarming gift to the new people.💖 He does look so good in that window ~ he’s become a tradition. But the new people will make NEW traditions!🌺 So off to California he goes!👏

OK, Judy has asked me to spread the word to all our girlfriends who have shops, work in shops, or bookstores or antique stores, because once again, the world has turned, something new has come along, and our little company is now able to sell wholesale! There is a site called Faire, it’s there that even the smallest  retailers can buy wholesale from lots of manufacturers! And now Susan Branch Studios is one of them! This could make a big difference for us (Thank you Judy!😘) Shops can carry our stationery, calendars, stickers, cups, books, all kinds of things. We’re in stores again!!!💖 So thrilled! If we manage to sell more, maybe  when I get home we can MAKE more. And wouldn’t THAT be fun!!?? Faire is having a virtual trade show for shops and bookstores July 23, 24,25 with lots of discounts and free shipping … check it out HERE!

Something else I want to tell you! Guess what? Now, when we move we can take our landlines with us! Joe got his first iPhone yesterday (mainly for the camera) … but we asked them if we could transfer over the number of our landline and they said yes! His new phone now has the number I got when I moved to the island 1982! ☎️. . . so when our friends call, we’re always home! Isn’t that great? He bought the phone yesterday and it’s already hooked up!

OK darling people, time for me to go!

East to west . . .

and everyone in between, You are the BEST! Thank you!💞 Hope you have a wonderful day!!! Remember to make some fun! And I will too! We probably leave in another week or so . . . but due to multitudes of phones, I’ll always be in touch! ❌⭕️ One last reminder . . .

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18 Responses to Bloody Hot

  1. Jennifer Rupp says:

    Oh Susan, I am so happy for you, Joe, and Jack! I have loved reading about your journey. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with all of us. I will forever remember meeting you in Grand Rapids, Michigan and giving you a CD of the international brass group I was the director of for your van trip! We are on MV this weekend and I will have to walk by your beautiful home before someone else makes it theirs. Can’t wait to read all about California! ❤️

  2. Janice Nelson says:

    I still have my Heart of the Home cookbook from 1986. I was 26 then and used many of your recipes. And still do! The book is marked up with favorite holiday recipes from my mom and other relatives. And many-pulled out of magazines-pictures of beautiful Christmas crafts and decorations stuffed into its pages. It is THE go-to book that comes out at Thanksgiving and stays out until the New Year. Many dog-eared and stained pages. Much loved.
    My daughter has basically grown up with this book so I hope it’s a family hand-me-down.
    I’m looking forward to following more adventures with you now on the west coast.

  3. Andrea McVety says:

    Devoured every word of this Willard. Thank you so very much for keeping us updated on your move. Love, love, love all the treasures you are finding. The Christmas 1992 lists for your party and the menus for Christmas Eve and Day! The card from the previous owner, such a Gem. You are such an inspiration for all of us making decisions to downsize. This move to California is such a win, win in every way. It looks absolutely beautiful. The hard part will be over and only new wonderful memories to make awaits you. You amaze me, inspire me and excite me with this move. It’s not a sad ending, it’s a beautiful beginning. ❤️😘

  4. Thank you for taking time in your packing adventures to send this to all of us.
    Yes, Ted Lasso is a go-to for us in times of woe, weariness, or when we simply want to feel better about the state of the world. Thank you for the reminders to be present. I have to remind myself to put my oxygen mask on first because I can’t be of any use to anyone or anything if I haven’t taken care of myself. You are always such an inspiration, and I look forward to having you back in CA. Hopefully we can have a Susan Branch meet-up after you get settled. October at the Apple Farm in 2018 was delightful when you gave your book talk. Perhaps a gathering of some kind somewhere on the Central Coast can be arranged so we can help ease the moving pains a bit. I know your heart has been torn in 2 since the early 80s. Whatever your para-social friends can do to help you and Joe, we will do our best.

  5. Jane says:

    I was able to transfer the telephone number of my late parents that they got when dial phones were introduced in 1952 to my mobile phone so it is fun to be reachable after so many years as some of my childhood friends still have the number in their address book. Good for Joe to have the continuity, and a warning, he will still get the same junk calls.

  6. Ginny says:

    I know it must be so hard to leave your beautiful home, but what joy it will be to make new memories in CA. And writing from the SF Bay Area, I can tell you that our heat wave ended days ago! Karl the Fog (that’s what we call him up here; is that what they call him in AG, too?) rolled in over the hills and all is well again. Best wishes for the move!

  7. Pamela Welter says:

    Hi Susan,
    It really is a full circle moment for you, going back to California for this time of your life. So interesting the paths our lives take.
    You will feel a true sense of place to rediscover somewhere you had lived earlier in your life. I’ve done it and never imagined I would be doing it, but it will feel like you are meant to be there as you begin to live it – you will see the wisdom of the decision. I’m excited for you! Stay brave, keep writing and drawing and living your beautiful, creative, artful life all the way! Here is a sprinkle of stardust*~*~*~*~*~*to carry with you. Love and light, Pamela

    • sbranch says:

      Oh thank you Pamela, I love that stardust! And I will love to see that “wisdom of our decision!!!” Something to look forward too … I feel it, I feel excited, but not necessarily seeing the wisdom of it quite yet!

  8. Rachel Scott says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I think you have “turned the corner.” I know there will be times when you remember your house and friends on the island and be sad. But, it sounds like your heart is heading to California. I am glad you are not flying for many reasons(what is happening with all those airplanes anyway, a door flying off, a wheel dropping out of the sky, planes just nearly missing each other on take off and landing….YIKES). The other reason is what I have read about when the soldiers return to the US after wars. The ones from WWII, returned by ship, usually with their “brothers” and had time to think and talk and adjust. Those who flew home after Viet Nam, often “alone,” didn’t have that, and many suffered for it. You are going to have a week-long or longer trip. That’s a good thing.
    You and Joe and Jack are going to make your home in California just as special as you made the one on Martha’s Vineyard. I am looking forward to the photos, before and after, as you have the time to make it like you want it. What an adventure!!
    Safe and fun trip.
    Love, Rachel

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve noticed that too, Rachel, that down-time coming home after we’ve spent a couple of months in England is really helpful for re-entry. That wide forever ocean puts everything into perspective. And for us, traveling the country after all this upheaval, will be very special. Perspective is so important!

  9. Karen Baron says:

    Dear Sue and Joe,

    It is a great choice to live year around in California. No staircases and expensive repairs!
    I will look forward to attending a book signing someday soon! I wanted to go to England with you on your cruise and I did in your pocket. Fortuitously, I went to England, London, and Cambridge with my son the following year when he graduated with his Master’s. I was so glad to meet you at Apple Farm! It has been since 2018 since I saw you last. Welcome back to California! I shall follow you along your way. I bought your early books when they first came out! Girlfriends forever!

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