Country Living Magazine ♥

I actually hate to move past the last post.  It’s so beautiful in the garden, especially with the bees buzzing and the birds singing! ♥  But I thought today I would show you some of the art I did for Country Living Magazine.

Just after my first book came out, I gathered all my courage together (it always takes courage, even today!) and wrote a letter to the editor of Country Living Magazine, who, at that time, was Rachel Newman (she quit her job a few years later to become a wonderful oil painter; go look at her amazing art!  She definitely did the right thing; so wonderful to see people follow their dreams!).

I sent her a copy of Heart of the Home with a letter asking her to please let me do something in their wonderful magazine, paint, write, cook (work in subscriptions, sell ads, sweep) anything would have been OK with me!  That magazine was my bible, my best friend!  We went out to lunch together every month!

There were no computers in those days; I couldn’t email it; my letter had a stamp on it and it went snail mail.  I wrote it in my best handwriting, and put little watercolors of rolling pins and measuring cups between the words to try to make her like me.

I waited, thinking every day, I wonder if she got my letter.  I wonder what she thinks.  I wonder if she’ll write me back.  Probably just be a form letter with the words “no thank you” on it. Maybe I’ll never hear anything at all.  Waaaaa.

And then one day, I opened my mail box and found a letter with the Country Living logo and return address on it.  My heart skipped a beat; please God, don’t let this be my subscription renewal notice.

And it wasn’t!  I jumped and leapt out of the PO back to the car when I read that Rachel had already seen my book!  And wanted to get in touch with me!  To figure out how we could work together!

It was such a surprise!  One of my dreams!  It taught me that at least you have to ask (I know we have lots of artists reading this, and I just wanted to say that “No” is a very popular word, but asking is free).

The Country Living staff decided that what they wanted was for me to illustrate recipes; a page every other month.  Which I was thrilled to do as I think you can tell!  After I’d done quite a few, they asked if they could make some of the designs into prints.  So four designs were chosen, we called them “Kitchen Art” since that’s where we figured most of them would go, on the walls of someone’s kitchen . . .  and they were sold through the magazine.  A few of you have written to tell me you still have them!

That’s what made me think to show these today. I really don’t think most of you ever saw them, so I thought I might share them, now that we are in the new world of computers and blogs and can show anything we want!  Hope you enjoyed them!

Also had to show you this photo I just took; the blur at the bottom left is Jack, doing what he does, but look at the light, at 6:15 am!  Streaming in!  Hooray!  I’m going to work in the garden today!  It’s not pretty out there, all brown leafy and dead, but it’s going to smell good when I rake and prune, and I’m going to love it!

Do you realize that the average person today lives better than most of the kings and queens of England did?  That’s what I was thinking this morning when I turned on the furnace.  We can fill the kettle from our faucet right there in our own kitchen!  And turn on the lights with a flick of a switch as we walk through the dark house to our art studio!  Carrying our tea in our favorite cup. 

It’s a wonderful world!  Enjoy your day girlfriends!  XOXO

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468 Responses to Country Living Magazine ♥

  1. Janet says:

    I loved that magazine at that time and your contributions were one of the reasons. We were living in Boxford, MA and that magazine inspired many a mantle display and Christmas decoration.
    Susan, your webzine is a treasure. I look forward to every article. So charming, comforting and inspiring!

  2. stephanie says:

    You don’t need to post this on the site – but wanted to share that I saw a “mustache ring” on ebay just now and it made me think of you and Jack. I don’t know if we can post links – but here it is for the fun of it!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Funny-Vintage-Moustache-Design-Two-Finger-Ring-/280795644279?_trksid=p4340.m1374&_trkparms=algo%3DPI.WATCH%26its%3DC%252BS%26itu%3DUCC%26otn%3D15%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D6872567304664493068

  3. just tami says:

    Is it possible to still purchase your kitchen art prints? I love the blueberry one! Have a great weekend!

    Your best blog friend,
    Tami

  4. Hello Susan and Girlfriends, it has been awhile since I have written mainly because I have not been feeling well. I have a Dr. appt. on the 19th and hope we can figure the problem out…I sure do not like feeling this way and it changes who I am and takes away my sunshine. I just started reading all the comments on this blog and want to add how pretty your artwork is and how much joy you bring to everyone Susan….thank you! Wishing everyone a happy, sunny weekend.

  5. Lisa R (northern Arizona) says:

    A match made in heaven~ Country Living and Susan Branch art! These are wonderful Susan, but what I really loved about this post, is how you just went for it! I’ve been contemplating a venture I would like to begin, and for whatever reason, just haven’t jumped in. More like standing on the banks, thinking about sticking my toe in the water. I feel a little courage coming on, all because of your inspiring story. Thank you!!

  6. Kathie says:

    Hi everyone… Just wanted to say that I too have all the recipes cut from those Country Living magazines. Susan…it was my introduction to you and I have collected each new cookbook when it was released. My favorite of the CL recipes was for Cranberry bread. I make it each Cristmas and give small loaves away for gifts. It has been a part of my holiday traditions sine it was printed so long ago. Thanks for all the wonderful books…i look forward to each new one….
    It is so great to be able to talk to so many girlfriend who embrace the same ideas. Til next time…Kathie from Pa.

  7. dawn says:

    They are so wonderful Sue!
    I really love what you said about us living better than the kings and queens from back in the day. It’s so true. We have so much to be grateful for, and should always remember to be generous with what we have.
    Have a beautiful weekend!
    xoxo

    • K. Ross says:

      Dawn,
      I used to catch your blog months ago — and then I lost track of you. I wondered about your pregnancy and your baby — a boy or a girl?? And today I found you again — a BEAUTIFUL baby boy! Congratulations! He is gorgeous! Best wishes from a mutual “Susan fan and friend” from Virginia.

  8. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    Little late to be writing but I wanted to tell you that this morning at 6:00 a.m., on my way to work, the eastern sky was actual light…I mean really light. Isn’t that awesome!! After this weekend no more driving to work in the dark!! Yeah Spring! Hope everyone of my girlfriends out there will have a great weekend and Susan, thanks for being the kind of girl who notices the small special things like daylight….is so helps me from feeling “odd” because I notice these things too!! Talk to all ya’ll soon!!

    • sbranch says:

      We, here, are the normal ones!! Always remember!

      • Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

        Count me too Margie…I am so happy to see the sunrise in my rearview mirror as I drive to work! Or even better the full moon ahead of me…I just have to share with my students who just smile…they are six.

  9. gina h says:

    I used to buy the magazines just to get your recipe pages. I saved many of them and put them in clear page protectors in a notebook. Ah, the good ol’ days when all the magazines were top quality!

  10. Diane Felder says:

    Oh mi gosh Susan are you kidding me!! I’ve seen all your darling illustrated recipes in Country Living magazine and SAVED THEM ALL :)) the magazines however are gone…

  11. deborah says:

    I love Country Living, and the British version as well, so full of great ideas, and the pictures!
    Your picture of the light streaming in the window is great, so peaceful and cozy!

    Garden time is almost here…..but we have snow this morning!!! Best weekend everyone!

  12. Linda says:

    I have all these recipe works of art as well! I was a Country Living subscriber even in the 80′s ,fresh out of college, just married. Our kitchen decor was very simple but I bought a clear acrylic frame where I could hang one of your dear recipes and change it easily with the seasons. They are a cherished memory and my introduction to your beautiful work. So glad to enjoy your blog these days and to continue to be connected to your world.

  13. cj says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I have opened the cover to your “The Summer Book” just to get myself in the mood for whatever I’m preparing for dinner. The article about Camping is just about my most favorite Sbranch writing. I’m so happy to have found your blog and whimsical self. Thanks.

  14. soy2please says:

    Hi Susan – so good to see those old recipes. I was a subscriber of Country Home then. When we moved and my husband said the magazines have to go – I started going through them and pulling all your recipes and all of Jo Statford’s wonderful articles!!! Most of your recipes I stuffed into your cookbooks for safe saving. I have copied the peach pie and have it in my lucite recipe book holder – the old house also had a peach tree!!! Yikes these memories and your blog can make my day!!!

  15. Kathie from CA says:

    Dear Susan,
    I grew up in Minneapolis and the Betsy Tacy were my favorite books when I was little. I ordered the Treasury of Lois’s first 4 books and just received them yesterday. I was surprised that they were written in Mankato, MN. Does that mean they were not known very much across the country?
    I have almost all your books including the wedding one for my daughter to use someday! She is 40 in June.
    I would love to be entered in your latest drawing. I hope I am writing to the right place for the drawing. I love writing and took a course from Tim Botts, who is well known in caligraphy circles.

  16. maybaby says:

    I have been a Country Living fan since the early ’80′s, and I bet I am not the only one who has collected and saved every single one of your beautiful recipes! Thank you for sharing them for those who do not already own them.

  17. Mary-Agnes says:

    I’m a charter subscriber to Country Living and I still have all of your recipe prints, in an acrylic frame hung on the wall of my pantry, which I rotate on a seasonal basis in my kitchen. Like another poster wrote, this has encouraged me to start getting some of my own art out there. Thanks!

  18. Bean says:

    Susan, I think you would really love reading through the blog “Letters of Note” some of them are truly amazing!! http://www.lettersofnote.com/

  19. Mar Bailey says:

    Loved this post, as I saved almost every one of your art pieces from COUNTRY LIVING. They never fail to bring a smile to my face and special memories of good food shared!

  20. Jolene says:

    Hi Susan. I haven’t commented in awhile, but when I saw you post the copies of your prints from Country Living, I just had to tell you…I have everyone of them!! I framed them and had them hanging in my kitchen ( they’re in storage now, waiting to be rehung). I used to subscribe to that magazine and looked forward to your prints. I ripped them right out, verrrrry carefully and framed them. That is where I first “found” you and have been a huge fan and admirer ever since. Looking at those took me back. Thanks for posting them. And on a side note about your Cursive post…My sister is a fifth grade teacher and even though they don’t teach cursive anymore she still has them writing out their vocabulary words in cursive AND print, just so they know how to do it. It also makes me very sad…(I am a fan of my own handwriting, as well :) ) that technology has made almost everything obsolete. Although it has brought us a long way, I hate some of the things we are losing. Oh and another thing…over half of her class can not tell time on an analog clock! Can you imagine!?!?!? All they know is digital…she is remedying that too :) Have a fabulous St. Patrick’s day and weekend!!! ~~Jo

  21. Pat Williams says:

    oh, thank you for the pictures of Hingham!!! I lived on the South Shore for several years and have seen all those beautiful places!!! made me feel good (and kinda sad) to see them all and your wonderful descriptions of them!

  22. S. Beth Fraley says:

    What a great way to end my evening – fun reading the whole blog.
    Spring is trying to pop out here in Katy, TX. but still kinda chilly.
    Love to read about the country up your way, though.
    Can’t wait to have time to re-read everything and copy the recipes, etc.
    Texas loves you, Susan! Come see us some day, please!

  23. Pam G. Canandaigua, N.Y. (fingerlakes) says:

    Just read Willard-I have to make that smoothie-yum! This is the earliest spring I ever remember-today I noticed the forsythia is in full bloom. I am so jealous you have been into the garden-I so much want to get out there, but my mom is in the hospital so I am there in the daytime to spell my dad.
    I have loved Elizabeth Von Armin for years. She was a woman ahead of her time-speaking of which you must have read A Woman Of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsyth Hailey? Talk about a woman ahead of her time and a great book for those girlfriends who haven’t read it or perhaps would like a repeat visit? So good and funny too-written as diary entries.
    Happy Spring to all!
    Pam

  24. Sandra Grimmett says:

    Your newsletters always brighten my day and stir I imagination to create!
    Love your Willard posts! and copied the Carrot Cake Cupcakes!
    Thanks
    ~sandra

  25. Sandra Grimmett says:

    My kind of woman! LOL “now is the time to quickly down three of them”. Lovely, lovely newsletter. So enjoyable.

  26. Judy Leahy says:

    Hi Susan, This is the first time I am writing to you. I so love to get Willard in my emails. When I get it I hurry to make a cup of tea, then read it and am happy all over. It is like getting a letter from an old friend who keeps me up to date with her side of the world and beyond.
    I always thought I was different. While my friends were working and doing their thing, I was home raising my five children. I loved writing, painting, doing crafts and watching the seasons change and marveling in it’s splender. Then I found you and your wonderful stories. Thank you for all of that.

  27. helena says:

    i am looking for the framed posters of apples and pears which were featured in country living magazine sometime around 70′s or early 80′s. the prints each featured varieties of apples and the other a variety of pears. they do not have to be framed, if i could just find the posters. thank you for any assistance you may offer. the magazine was one of my favorites and could not wait until each issue arrived. please do not provide my e-mail address to anyone.

    • sbranch says:

      HI Helena … I’m not sure what you are thinking of . . . did I paint it? That would be the late 80′s if so. Otherwise, if it’s not something I did, maybe someone else will have the answer to your question.

  28. Andrea Schlieder says:

    I saved all your recipes from Country Living back in the 80′s. last year my home was flooded and all my recipes were below the water line. I’ve replaced your cook books but one othe your recipes I cannot fine is the Valentine sugar cookies. Is ther any way I can get it?

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