How're you all doing?
sn’t the change of season inspiring? I love this time of year! Never do I feel more homey, more connected to the little things that make life sweet than I do in October. Because when it starts to storm, I get cozy under my grandma’s nap blanket in front of the fire with my book-of-the-moment, which, right now, happens to be My Life in France by Julia Child, which I am re-reading due to my recent outbreak of loving memory about her. It’s a great book. OR, like last night, we got inspired to put onion stuffing into thick PORK CHOPS and peel sweet potatoes and apples to bake along side; OR, I'm inspired to paint designs for fabric, or knit, or go for a walk with Joe in the woods, smelling chimney smoke, kicking up piles of leaves, gathering bittersweet. Always something these days.
r, and this is what I’m doing most of the time, I’m working on my new book, writing and painting. It’s a book of little stories, homey recipes, ideas for entertaining, all the things we love, as you probably have guessed. Writing a book, like everything else, isn’t all roses, for those of you who want to or are trying to, here’s a bit of a secret I thought you might like to know. When I first started writing books, no one told me about this thing called “process” – rather an important little tidbit of information. I didn’t get the picture until I read the Autobiography of Mark Twain, and he told me. What I found out was that all that time I was fretting or worrying, feeling uninspired because I didn’t have the answer to a problem or idea, feeling stumped because I didn’t know what to do, this was actually normal.. Not understanding this, I would be very impatient with myself. Which didn’t help, in fact it made it worse. Until I finally figured out that this waiting period was part of the process and actually what I now call the “foundation for the creation.” Mark Twain dealt with it by keeping creative doing something else; leaving his “problem” to solve itself.
ometimes it seems to take forever, but now I know I’m working on it even when I don’t feel like I am! This is the deeper meaning of the words, "just sleep on it." I trust that my inner self has the answer, and will, in good time, give it to the outer me so I can get on with my life. In the meantime, reading the book The Artist's Way was a huge help to keep myself focused.
nd I say to myself, what can I give? I paint every day, and turn on old movies like Cranford, or Little Women, or my favorite Halloweeny movie “Practical Magic;” and sooner or later, the inspiration I crave arrives, sparks fly from my fingertips, I am witchy woman once more. So there it is, writing secret #164 from the Susan Branch Big Book of Writing Secrets (which actually doesn’t exist).
peaking of witchy women, Joe and I just got back from a road trip, up along the coast of historic Massachusetts through Salem (where Halloween is more or less a year-round thing!); we walked through the beautiful old graveyard there, and then, driving through a flaming sunset north on 95 where the woods on both sides looked to be on fire with color, to charming, bricky, windy Portland, Maine. For leaf peeping, lobster eating, inspiration gathering, and Christmas shopping.
don’t have much to buy for Christmas, because for one thing I know what happens to people who WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO SHOP, so I’ve been making things, and for another I am lucky enough to have a STORE! Is that cheating? No. I don’t think so. Why would I worry when all the canning labels I need are in my own store, along with lots of other wonderful and useful things such as my calendars, cookbooks, tea things, rugs, cooking timers, cake stands, dish towels, recipe cards, Christmas-stocking-making kits, my Elf Ornament, inspiring books by my favorite authors, bread baskets, and darling Emma Bridgewater dishes! I am my own Santa! And hopefully, we can help you be Santa too!
ut I did find the most delicious cooking oil in the world up in Portland at a store called LeRoux Home. It was blood orange olive oil. They let you taste. Oh it’s so good. I bought it, and got the 18-year-old balsamic vinegar to go with it. (Want it? call 207-553-7665.) Mix the two together, serve with hot crusty bread and goat cheese. With cups of hot cider, or perhaps a VAMPIRE’S KISS, the appetizer part of the dinner is done.
’ve also been making jam to give for presents. Two kinds, I made a spicy blueberry and a cranberry-orange marmalade. New recipes for my new book; Joe is my test-kitchen victim. I tried both jams on hot buttered biscuits and watched his eyes roll back in his head, which is a sure sign of approval. A good little test kitchen makes for good little Christmas presents! Killing two birds with one stone doesn’t sound romantic, but it can be very handy.
n closing, please remember it’s the season to DANCE and eat GINGERBREAD, and for those of you looking for a wonderful MOLASSES COOKIE recipe, try this, my Grandma's, it's frosted and it's delicious. We’ll also be sending out our famous Cookie Jar full of recipes at the end of November, so be sure to plan your Christmas cookie exchange, and look for it in your emails.
doring all of your beautiful, funny, touching, creative stories on FACEBOOK! Aren’t we so lucky to have that? Loved it when two FOSB, writing in, found out they both live on the same island! Spooky! Loved Arline's photo of Paul McCartney, want that jacket he's wearing! Thank you for going there, you keep me so entertained! We really are all friends! Getting closer all the time!
ave a wonderful inspirational holiday season!
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