WHO’S GOT MAIL ?

Good morning Girlfriends — how’s everyone today?  Musica?  (So gorgeous here, I thought you should hear the “voice of the island” then you’ll know just how pretty it is.)  I’ve been getting nice things in the mail lately.  I love mail when it’s like this:

It’s a box from my dad.  First off, it was instantly special because he was recycling the box we sent him Gingerbread from Sarah Nelson’s famous Bakery in Grasmere, England last Father’s Day (the magic of youtube will take you to see the bakery).  Just the box alone was good for a happy memory . . . but I loved how he addressed it, to Jack Branch! (That’s my kitty to anyone who might be new here.)

Joe saw it and said, “Branch?  Not Hall?  Haruumph.”

I said, “Wait a minute, you don’t want me to call you ‘Jack’s dad,’ right?  I told my dad, so of course he took that to heart, honoring you by not giving Jack your name.”

I say to Jack, “Take the rubber band back to your dad.” And Joe says, “I’m not his dad.”

This explanation comes with love from proud Cat Mommy.

Btw, this is the news from Lake Suebegon, where are all the men are brilliant, all the children are adorable, and all the women are crazy. 🙂

So I opened the box, and here was this BEE (my craziness is inherited).  You can pull the pink plastic flower and a buzzing of massive proportions begins.  So I gave it to Jack.

 Jack looks at his father (oops) wondering why his mommy is putting a bee on the chair with him.  It doesn’t look like a rubber band.

Hmmm.  I’m beginning to think there’s a resemblance between Jack and his new friend, something about the eyes.  I don’t think the bee is catching Jack’s fancy.  He’s extremely particular.

He is rubberband-ponytail band man all the way and will go to any lengths to get them.  I moved the scale the other day and there were four rubber bands under it.  This seems to be where he “keeps” them.  There is one in this drawer and he knows it and he badgers me until I open it.

He is one smart kitty boy.  He has me shooting them for him all day.  He catches it in two paws, puts it directly into his mouth, and brings it back to me.  I will come up the stairs and there, right in front of the door, a rubber band, waiting for me, him on the chair, eyes insane, ears in perfect pert pyramids, at attention, waiting.  I wonder if he will ever grow out of this.

The other thing he likes is feathers.   These feathers are at the end of what looks like a fishing pole.  He climbs onto the arm of a wooden chair, and stretches his full length on his tiptoes to try and get it down from the door we keep it draped over.

P L A Y   W I T H   M E!!!  (His mantra)

See that eye?  Pure concentrated attack mode.

Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo . . .

He can climb anything now.  He is my best decoration.

I’ve always loved a little bit of black . . .

It just seems to pop all the other color and give depth to any setting.

Even in the bathroom . . .

So it just made sense to get a color-coordinated kitty.  A little black and white is my best decorating secret.

Even quilts look more wonderful with this fuzzy decorating tip lying on top of them.

Better than throw pillows . . .

Better than vases of flowers — I think Girl’s pink nose also adds to the decoration.  Little pink eraser nose.  Double bubblegum pink. ♥

And I got something else in the mail . . .  this box.  It’s not been in a house of mine for thirty-four years when I packed it up and sent it away, but that’s where it started out.

A lot of you will recognize this box when I tell you what it is.  Those of you who’ve been around since my first book came out will know what this box is even though no one has ever seen it.

Have you guessed yet?  Yes, it’s a recipe box, but not just any recipe box.  It’s my most important recipe box ever.

In around 1978, when I’d been painting for almost a year and still learning everyday (just like now!), my girlfriend Jane was getting married.  So I put together a recipe box for her wedding present and filled it with my recipes I handwrote and watercolored onto cards.  Note: black ink, my way of getting a little black into everything (just to follow up on that theme. 🙂 )

This is Jane’s box with some of the cards I made for her.  She just sent it back to me.  She thought I might like to keep it in my memoirs, because she knows what this box means to me. Such a wonderful surprise. Making her wedding present was the very first time I combined my hobby of cooking, with my handwriting, and my new love of making watercolors and drawing home things like bowls and bananas, putting borders on everything.

This is Jane and me.  We are standing on the “Love Boat” in Long Beach Harbor getting ready to sail away to Acapulco.  Jane is a little bit older than me (not by much ~ but at the time it was enough; I’ve almost caught up to her now) and I looked up to her.  I thought she was brilliant.  She had a powerhouse job, she had a darling house, she was beautiful, smart and fun.  I wanted to be like her when I grew up.  One night, when we were in my kitchen doing dishes after a dinner party, she suggested I write a cookbook and fill it with my recipes, and decorate it with watercolors, just like the recipe box I’d given her.  I almost fainted from the compliment of it.  Of course I thought that she might have gone a bit off the rails in this one exception to her normal genius.  I didn’t believe I could write a book since at the time, no one I knew wrote books except people like Julia Child or Margaret Mitchell.  It took five years and lots more inspiration (such as divorce and huge fear of bagladyhood) before I had the nerve to try, and three years more before my first book came out . . . and I never forgot that it was Jane’s idea.  

Here’s Jane with Elvis.  She’s 13.  He wrote her a letter.   Need More Musica?  (OK, but please, no screaming.  OK, just a little, we are not made of stone here. xoxo)

  See?  How could you not do anything this person told you to do?  She obviously had the magic touch.  You can visit her website, Jane Bay  and read about her on Star Wars Wookiepedia ~ she was George Lucas’s ~ of Star Wars fame ~ assistant and right-hand-person for the last almost-forty years, and just recently retired.

And I feel that this is very much a result of Jane’s believing in me . . .

My first book, which changed my life forever.  We never know where or when the inspiration for our lives will come from or through whom.  I’m only 2 degrees of separation from Elvis Presley!!!  On the same photo of us above, Jane wrote, “Girlfriends Forever” — you can see that photo on the endpapers in the book — her photo gave me the title for my Girlfriends book.  Funny how you come to have guardian angels in your life, who drop their magic and there you go. Like pulling the bunny out of a top hat. Voila!  ♥  ♥  ♥

Jane’s recipe box is filled with recipe cards such as this one — That’s my recipe for Gazpacho as I painted it for her box, and here it is, a few years later, as I painted it a for my book:

Eight years later, when my book was finally published, the recipe had the addition of shrimp and croutons.  If you have Heart of the Home,  you can find this recipe on page 39.  And that brings me to the end of this blog post, because, on this gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard day, I’m on my way to the market to get the things to make Gazpacho — going to treat Joe NICE.  It’s still the best I’ve ever tasted.  Tried and true ~ I promise you ~ for years . . .  and it comes . . .

 H A P P Y   D A Y   G I R L F R I E N D S   F O R E V E R !

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384 Responses to WHO’S GOT MAIL ?

  1. I still have my much worn and much loved edition of your first book!

    Oh yes, my Maine Coon (or rather, I am her human) is my prettiest decoration. I tease her and tell her I’m going to have her stuffed to keep her in one spot.

    She is not amused. 😉

  2. Kathy Phenix says:

    What a fun blog! I always get a kick out of seeing pictures of Jack, doing his thing!
    My favorite is Jack pretending to be a throw pillow. My Siamese Charlie does the same pose in his bed. His one leg sticks straight out and looks so long and lovely. But when I touch it, he has a fit and tries to slap me. So cute!
    Kisses to Jack and Miss Kitty. Kathy Phenix

  3. Dana Burton says:

    Susan,
    Thanks for sharing your friendship story with us. It was such a great reminder that people plant seeds in our life and we don’t even realize it until that seed comes to fruition, sometimes, many years later. Everyone needs a “Jane” in their life! Is this the same friend that you were with in the Tarzan picture from “Girlfriends Forever?” I love that book and all the photographs in it, they capture such fun times. I gave each of my best friends a copy for their birthdays last year. I just love the idea behind it and I also feel like everyone should have Susan Branch in their life too! I know I have told you before but, you inspire me on so many different levels to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister and FRIEND! Thankful for you and my sister Michelle for planting the little seed of your “Love” book in my life on Christmas Eve of 1994.:) Then by chance putting your name in Google and finding your blog shortly after you started it in 2010. It has been so cool to see how your blog has evolved over the years from those beginning posts until now. We all know that you are such a gifted artist but, you are equally such a gifted writer. You put into words exactly how people feel…it’s a heart thing…it’s a gift.
    Love and Light Girlfriends!

    • sbranch says:

      What a nice thing for you to say Dana, I’m so happy you’re here. The friend in the Tarzan picture was another BFF by the name of Janet. Thank you so much! xoxo

  4. Tammy W says:

    Oh, Susan! Such another lovely post! They always make my day! But imagine my shock when I was reading and saw the box. The same exact box is right beside me at this moment! I file away all of my passwords in there- so it’s always beside my desk. My dad pulled this out of a cabinet and gave it to me when I was in 6th grade and I needed a note card box for school. Everyone else had tiny plastic 3×5 card holders, and I had a wooden box. I have never seen anyone else with one that looks just like this- close, but not the same, until today! It’s the little things that connect us! Hope you are doing well! PS- I’m going to New Hampshire in September for a workshop. Haven’t been to New England since we moved away when I was 4. Is it still lobster season then? I’ve always wanted an authentic lobster roll!

  5. Barb McD. :-) :-) says:

    Oh my! What a beautiful posting… love your stories! I wanted to share with you how “Girlfriend’s Forever” carries on, and on. I have several of your books which I treasure. Recently, when Heart of the Home was being discussed, I couldn’t locate my copy. Did I lose it in the move? Did I confuse it with Heart and Soul from Wooden Nickel?. Yikes! So, I did what any SB GF would do..went online and ordered one…found a used one (sixth printing) in great condition, Yay! However, I didn’t realize it had one of the most beautiful inscriptions I have ever read…from Jan to Cheryl,on her birthday in 1989. I feel special owning this copy and being able to share the beauty of friendship and girlfriends with an SB book from 1989…AND it all started with a GF asking you, “Why don’t you write a cookbook?” Who knew? Thank You Susan! Hugs and Sunshine!

  6. Hello Susan, I have been a busy girl this week working outside in our garden deadheading all the peonies which sure make a mess when they shed. I also worked on my dianthus plants which take awhile to rid the dead blooms, and then I planted a new plant to me a Red Guara (pink butterflies) which is just lovely. I pruned trees at the farm on Monday so 3 straight days of yardwork is rewarding, great exercise, and pure exhaustion. Pat told me there was a new blog so I came here this morning to check it out. Your Jack is like our Mystee Mae (b&w) and the wild eyes when she gets excited over playing with her toys…you can tell when she is fired up because up on a chair she goes (with a quilted cover thank goodness) and she flits around the chair all wild eyed!! We use “Gramma/Grandpa” with our kitties and bless their hearts they actually will look at each of us when they hear the names. We use “Mama” with Angela since she originally brought them to us…..honey, kitties do not care what terms of endearment you use as long as you feed, water, scoop, and play with them on a regular basis!!! Your dear friend Jane is a true gift from God and I totally get the return of your gift to her and that is very sweet of her to do. We are having rain today (the Lord knew I needed a day of rest) so think laundry and grocery shopping are on today’s chore agenda. I adore your Dad and the gift he gave to Jack is funny; but, do not get discouraged if Jack ignores it because he has his fav toy and kitties are creatures of habit. If he chooses to use the bee as a sleep buddy that is precious because if he starts dragging it around which Jack could how funny would that “bee”?? Enjoy your day.

    • Sandy Richmond says:

      My two kittens (still kittens), both black and white get the wild eyed look about once a day. Once we see that look, we know they will be running around like little whirlwinds. It makes us laugh..

  7. Candice says:

    Susan,

    Your gazpacho recipe is my go-to recipe for this soup. It’s delicious, and besides, after I make the soup, I sit and go through your book. It always makes me so happy.

    Candy

  8. Anne Branco says:

    Oh, Susan. That recipe box is such a treasure! What a beautiful story of love and friendship. Supportive friends such as Jane are truly, truly treasures. They really can be our best sources of inspiration. Have a wonderful Martha’s Vineyard Day! Anne P.S. Jack’s bee is adorable. I love anything to do with bees. Must be the gardener in me!

  9. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What an interesting beginning to your career! Thanks so much for sharing the launch for what we all love about you and your work; personal connections to friends and family who enrich our lives and deserve to be recognized for their gifts to us. The story of Jane is so wonderful and touching! We never really know when we might be that one person who lifts another up and provides the boost that carries them forward on a life path. It just reinforces the need to always do random acts of kindness. Don’t you agree??

    And your Jack kitty?? He is beyond funny and oh so clever!!

    • sbranch says:

      Absolutely agree. It’s lovely to HAVE a guardian angel, but it’s good to try and BE one too. xoxo

  10. Janet Hundley - Grafton, WI says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thanks for another wonderful post. I always feel I’ve had a vacation sitting right at my desk. Also, reading about the inspiration for The Heart of the Home allowed a bit of mental time travel to when I first discovered the book and your amazing artwork.
    Wishing for warmer weather here this weekend so that the gazpacho would be appealing. For now, probably will look for a warm tomato soup ;-(

    • sbranch says:

      Cold up there still? Well, it’s still spring, it will come soon enough I guess. Stay warm!

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Both Wisconsin and Minnesota have been unseasonably cold this spring. Places just north of the Twin Cities even had frost the other night!!! Otherwise we have had so much rain that the grass and trees are incredibly green. Hostas here in people’s yards are about 4-5″ high–ours that were wintered over in the garage in pots are now up on the deck and look like bushes! 🙂

        • Priscilla from So. Ca. in S.D, says:

          Pat,

          Is your garage where you wintered your Hostas heated?

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            Priscilla, in answer to your question, no, the garage is not heated. It is under part of the house, though, (split level) but it does get below freezing. I let them get frosted out on the deck, cut off the dead leaves, and put the pots in the garage. They start growing ‘way before it is warm enough for them outdoors here in Minnesota so when I first move them out, they are 4-5″ high out of the soil and white as ghosts! I water them and put them out in the sun a little bit each day when it is warm enough (not a lot as they like shade) but they then take off like crazy!!! Part of our deck is in the shade so it is so nice to have the large pots of the hostas that look like bushes now! 🙂

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          You got that right Pat~ Our grass here is the green and lush~ almost carpet ~ like. Everything is behind this year~ still have lilacs and lily ~ of~ valley~ And the sun is actually supposed to come out today for more than an hour~ yeah! Still only a high of 60….guess you can’t have it all..

  11. Nellie says:

    That Jack is just adorable! Never can tell where he is going to turn up!:-) That recipe box is an absolute treasure!

    We had rain and storms here yesterday afternoon, and this morning was nice and cool. More rain is in the forecast for later today and tomorrow.

    I send along wishes for a good Thursday!

    xo Nellie

  12. Marianne says:

    This is delightful! Boxes in the mail with surprises! Jack is a lucky kitty to have such a nice grandpa sending buzzing bee presents! And your friend – so nice to get a glimpse of the recipe box that started it all…hearts can insire other hearts…

  13. Reva says:

    My wonderful black and white kitty is a big girl named Oreo. She’s very, very special because she came to me from a broken relationship caused by physical abuse. She is my treasure and a constant reminder to always be supportive of those who are victims of domestic violence.

  14. Doreen Strain (from Florida) says:

    Sue, you have me cracking up here with your comment to Karen P. ( Hi Karen !!!! I say smiling and waving like a nut!) “Osmosisig inspiration”. I can just see it sitting there on your book shelf and everytime you look at it, it gives you that little gentle nudge and memories come running back into your heart. What a pretty (well built…dove tailed and all) box. Sometimes…it’s the little things in life that bring us such joys. Enjoy having the box back and enjoy having Jane in your life. She sounds like a wonderful friend! FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  15. Nancy M says:

    What a great story and a great friend you have!!!! Thanks for showing all the pictures of how black helps to accent in decorating! You are right – it does stand out – especially sweet Jack!!!

  16. Linda S. says:

    Loved hearing about your beginning and laughed at the “news from Lake Suebegon”, having listened to the other “begon” on long road trips! Also love Jack’s expressions—-my husband does not call himself our beloved dog’s Dad either, but I am his Mom.

  17. Aggie says:

    Anything in the box for G. K. Branch? 🙂 Jack was not amused….would probably not mind sharing his new toy with Girl!

    • sbranch says:

      Girl is an adult cat who thinks toys are for little bitty boys with mustaches! 🙂

  18. Freddie says:

    I love the story how you got started. Thanks Jane. I have all of your cookbooks. They are my go to, when hunting what to make for dinner or when company is coming. I going to put your new book about England on my Christmas list. My kids will be grateful for the idea. I am in love with any thing to do with British Isles’. It is my fantasy trip, hope to make it come true soon.

  19. Patti Z says:

    I have been making your Gazpacho for years, Susan. It’s THE best!! Heart of the Home was a gift from my cousin and I’ve been a fan ever since.

    • sbranch says:

      I had some for lunch — feeling very thin (feeling isn’t quite the same as being!).

  20. Faith rose says:

    Thank you Susan for this beautiful post!!I love the kitty photos!My cat just had kittens and they are so adorable!I just love life!Your friend sounds like a awsome friend!True friends are a treasure to have and to keep!Thank you for being a friend to talk to and someone to make a day even brighter!

  21. Jennie Lavezzo says:

    One of my most prized possessions is a handwritten letter from you! I will never forget when it came in the mail and I saw my name in your handwriting. You were so sweet to respond to a letter I had sent you. Have it framed now. Even better than Elvis!

    Thank you and much love. 🙂

  22. Jackie P says:

    First of all, I was surprized to see how grown up Jack is now (when did that happen?). He is what I call “a handsome boy!”. I love to hear about his antics with the ponytail bands. Being that I am more of a “dog person” (with two BLACK and white Springers, I know what you mean about that touch of black!) I am amazed to see a kitty being so playful . . . like a dog! I haven’t shown these photos to Bentley yet. He will go WILD when he sees Jack. I have to guard my laptop everytime there are pictures of Jack in your blog for fear that my computer will be knocked to the floor (overly enthusiastic). Secondly, Heart of the Home has been part of my library for over 25 years. I cherish all of my SB books. Thank you.

  23. Frances Fowler says:

    Jack’s disdainful look at the offending intruder says it all. Like my daughter’s kitty, he seems most enraptured by elastic hairbands. Girl Kitty’s precious nose does indeed look like a pink eraser — I hope she is the type of kitty that will allow you to smooch it. On another note, I agree with the black (and red) — they are wonderful colors that bring out the best of everything! And note number three, I had no idea your friend Jane’s marvelous and auspicious suggestion was what prompted you to write and illustrate the first of many wonderful books that have in turn been an inspiration to so many! :-)) Yum-yum, fritters!

  24. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    I just watched the u-tube of Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread. That looks so good. I want to get some of that. So have you pulled the string on the bee? I wonder what Jack will think of it. Your dad is a true treasure; so send a gift to his grandcat!

  25. Genie in NC says:

    Love your paintings, writing and family-sharing. Have you ever given thought to maybe creating a Christmas card? (or set of 3, or 5?) Or general greeting cards for girlfriends to send to girlfriends in times of support? of thanks? anniversaries? birthdays? or just “Thinking of you!”
    : ) Genie

  26. Michele Perkins says:

    Good Morning Susan,

    It’s a delightful, rainy day here and my newly planted perennials are not complaining one bit!
    Have just returned from a trip to San Francisco and it has been crazy catching up on everything here. So, when I found your new blog this morning, I truly felt like I was back home again.
    Your blogs are so inspiring and I loved the part about your friend, Jane, giving you the encourgagment to write a cookbook – I have almost all your books and just love your writing and illustrations. All of us “girlfriends” are very happy that you took the plunge into your current career!
    Byw, the answer to whether we would be interested in those beautiful glass beads is a resounding “Yes”. I have tons of the Pandora charms and the glass ones are my favorites. And, I have several friends that would also be interested in purchasing them.
    Enjoy the day despite the rain which I assume you are experiencing as well.
    Loved all the photos of Jack , and Girl!
    Have a wonderful weekend and many thanks for being our best “girlfriend.”
    Michele

  27. jane zamudio says:

    This is the best post ever!! Your kittys are so beautiful! Your love for them is amazing..they are so lucky. And what an incredible friend you have! I almost cried. You are such a blessed woman!! But..im pretty sure you know that!!

  28. Pam says:

    Your photos of Jack made me laugh, he looks so disgusted with the bee! And thanks to Jane for setting you on the road to writing your books. I love the recipe cards you painted, what a gorgeous present. x

  29. Joann says:

    I love your Dad……………may I borrow him? Just adorable…….

    Mine passed away when I was 20 and I miss him so so so so much…………..

    Hope Joe enjoyed the gazpacho….I know he did!

    Love you!
    xo

    Joann

    • sbranch says:

      You mean Blog Daddy? Yes! He loves to be borrowed. xoxo

      • Jack says:

        Ok , Joann I’m available –having the “J” name qualifies you from the start!

        • sbranch says:

          🙂 Dad.

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            Gee, I lost my Dad in 2000 and really miss him. Your dad makes so many dry funny comments that remind me of things my dad would say. Jack, my middle name is “Jo”, would that qualify me to borrow you? 🙂

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Can a J-for-Janet get in on this too? Would being famous in my family for Stuffed Pork Chops help my case at all? :>)

          • Joan Lesmeister says:

            And, I’m a J too, do I qualify? I’ve been without my Dad for 20 years. Like you Jack, he was funny! And, I miss him walking around the house singing old songs! It’s nice of Sue to share you with us! xo♥ Joanie

        • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

          Yay!! that means that I, too, have a chance at being adopted–with a middle name of Joyce!! Please–please!!

          • Sandy Richmond says:

            My Dad is gone too, and I have no “J’s” in my name, but I am claiming him too! 🙂

  30. My sisters and I LOVE that first book! Thank you SO MUCH for telling us this wonderful story behind it! And just think about it – think of all of the lives you have touched with your magical books since then, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      And it’s been such a two-way street, my life has been equally touched by the letters I’ve received and the people I’ve met. xoxo

  31. Charlotte MacDiarmid says:

    Susan, I just love your kitty “Jack”. We have two ten month old, brother and sister kitties who love to climb. I’m worried about our Christmas tree this year.
    They were with us last Christmas (four months old at the time) and didn’t bother the tree. However, Pippa the little girl kitty found our tree in its storage place and preceded to throw her body in it.
    Does Jack have anything to do with your Christmas tree such as in climbing it ?
    I see that Jack climbs to the tallest parts of your home.. He’s such a special boy.
    Have a wonderful summer.
    Charlotte in Va.

    • sbranch says:

      I was worried about Jack with the tree this last Christmas, but he was fine. Hope you get as lucky! 🙂

  32. Cyndee Gayle says:

    Hi Susan,
    As usual I love your blog. I have always wanted to ask you what brand and kind of watercolors you use. I use the tubes, but have wanted to try others. You are the expert!…any advice? I haven’t painted for awhile and am really missing it.
    Thanks 🙂 Cyndee

    • sbranch says:

      Go up to the top of the blog to the icon that says “About Me” — click the drop down for “My Art Studio” and then on “How I Learned to Paint” — I think you’ll find what you’re looking for there. Thank you Cyndee — good luck!

  33. Asha says:

    Oh Susan, Susan, Susan! A wonderful blog as usual! So many things I can relate to – kitties, wooden boxes(my mom kept her pretty handkerchiefs in hers) and gazpacho! Elvis stuck his tounge out at your friend Jane???!!! And you have a picture of it???!!! All I can say is, Oh My!!!! I have been dying for some homemade gazpacho! I will make your recipe tomorrow! Your blogs make me really happy. 🙂 Thank you Susan and God bless! oxoxox

    • sbranch says:

      He apparently did!!!! Isn’t it just too much! I can’t even imagine. Thank you Asha.

  34. Sharon Corey says:

    What a great week it has been! Wednesday I received my very first Susan Branch Blog posting by email. Then yesterday, I received the recent order I placed through the Susan Branch Online Store. The shipping box had a cute little SB sticker in one corner. Everything I ordered was meticulously wrapped with tissue paper and then more cute stickers to hold it in place. There were tons of pretty green packing peanuts and the book had the cutest bow. You have no idea how I looked forward to this order arriving. Two weeks ago I had quickly packed all my summer things and then traveled to our farm (three hours from our home in Pawleys Island) to stay for the summer. As I began to unpack my things I panicked when I realized that I had not packed my Susan Branch books. How could I have possibly forgotten them? I know I had them sitting on my table waiting to be packed! I have been on the SB website almost every day since I got here reading every single blog. One of the items I ordered was the booklet of past Willard Newsletters and I absolutely love it. I am so excited to have received all the cute things that I ordered but, as soon as possible I will be traveling back to the coast to get my treasured SB books. What would we ever have done if Jane had not suggested that Susan write a cookbook?

    • sbranch says:

      I can’t wait to show Kellee and Sheri your comment — they are going to love your description of receiving your package — they really have such fun making everything we send from the studio look cute. Thank you for taking the time to tell me! And for all the rest of it too Sharon — I’m so happy to see you here. Hope you enjoyed the recent drenching — we are dripping here, the hydrangeas are pattering drops from leaf to leaf, the lawn, the trees, everything is so green. Have a wonderful day! xoxo

      • Sharon Corey says:

        Yes, I did enjoy the drenching yesterday. We really needed all that rain here at the farm. My pool almost overflowed, but now the sun is out and all my Lilies are singing. I do not have Hydrangeas in my yard at the farm but, I want some. Originally I thought there would be too much sun here but, my daughter-in-law said they would be fine with part shade.

        • sbranch says:

          Yes and there are probably varieties that can take more sun than others. Great plant – I love how they turn color as the seasons change.

  35. Jack says:

    Patti-Jo, Janet and Joan — Of course, I’m happy to be all you girls Blog Dad. Just remember I’m not always fun and games. I insist you be good to your Moms and help out around the house. We got a big family here so everybody has to do their part and I don’t want to hear any bad reports! Love, Dad

    • mary spring says:

      What a good father you are !!!

    • Linda Pintarell says:

      Could an “L” for Linda somehow sneek in there. I think of my dad when reading about your dad in Cottonwood. His Aunt and Uncle lived in Cottonwood and he lived with them during off season (he played pro-baseball) in the 1930’s. So many cool stories; he worked in the mines in Jerome. He lived with me the last 17 years of his life and passed at 96 years young in 2008. I was blessed to have him with me that long.

    • Julia says:

      OK, it’s time for me now. Dear Blog Dad, I hope all of these
      other “J” girls remember you on Father’s Day, HINT HINT!!!!!!!!!!
      I love having you on the blog. You have raised a wonderful,
      generous, talented, helpful and smart daughter. I’m sure all of our
      other brothers and sisters are great, too. Love and Best Wishes
      for a Fabulous Father’s Day, Julia

    • Joan Lesmeister says:

      Dear Blog Daddy: Yay! Thanks! OK, I’m doing my part! And, when it cools off around here, I’ll even work on improving my pork chops! Love big families, we have a wee one, but my folks were from a 9 & 10 (cheated, my Dad was a twin) kid group. Love, Joan

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        I made Italian pork chops for dinner tonight……can I be a ” kid ” too? ”
        I’m an orphan~all my parents are gone and Inmiss them!

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Eye-eye, cap! You can count on me! :>)

  36. Lynn B says:

    I am in the midst of creating a family-favorite recipe book for my nephew and his fiancee who are to be married in July. I am not much of an artist, but I love lettering and borders. I am using a “fill in the recipe” book of Homemade Recipes, illustrated by …. SUSAN BRANCH! So I will pass along family favorite recipes and a little bit of you! Thanks Susan.

  37. Lisa says:

    Loved this post. Hearing stories of you before you were YOU is so inspiring to me. I’m at the beginning of my watercolor journey and a while back you were kind enough to leave a very complimentary comment on my blog and It. Meant. The. World. To. Me. Just thought you should know that I’m one of many who want to be you when we grow up. 🙂
    P.S. Also thought you should know, your gazpacho recipe has changed my husband’s life. He makes sure his beautiful garden grows everything we need for it, and it is a rare summer day that you can’t find a big pot of it in our fridge. Happy Saturday, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful Lisa, your garden! xoxo Best of luck on your journey — in this case it truly is the journey!

  38. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    Arnie was Mr. Socks’ daddy. He used to go to the front door when he heard “Dad” come home. LOL I do see a resemblance to Joe, that cute little mustache and goat tee. LOL
    So this package thing makes me think that the P.O. really does go by the address and not the name. I may send the boys packages with their childhood names. Hans und Fritz, and yes they were. LOL
    Just was to the Farmer’s Market…Ahh……

  39. Hello Jack, being Blog Daddy opens you up to being a Dad to ALL of us even those who do not have a “J” in their names….how very sweet of you to take on this role especially for the ladies who have lost their beloved Dad’s. My precious Dad will turn 93 on June 30th and I cherish every day that he is with me. The girls will be good to the best of their abilities and it is a good idea to insist that otherwise all mayhem could breakout and then that famous quote of all Daddy’s will be heard….”Don’t make me come back there”…can you tell we travelled in a car across America!! I want to wish you a “Happy Father’s Day” and thank you for raising such a special daughter! Blessings

  40. TJ in VA says:

    Hi Susan,
    Loved seeing your recipe cards that served as inspiration for your book collection! Some years ago I participated in a Yahoo Group (Leora’s Clubhouse) and the online girlfriends exchanged homemade recipe cards and sent homemade RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness).

    Your stickers had just started appearing in the scrapbook stores, and they prompted my collection of “Susan Branch” embellishments.

    My cousin and her husband visit MV every summer along with friends. One year she sent me a beautiful blue flowered scrapbook with red grosgrain red (Susan Branch…of course) and the complete set of your “month” stickers. The best gift ever…her card said, “Saw this and though of you!”

    All of my recipe card creations are embellished with the Susan Branch stickers. I usually made a dozen of the cards for mailing plus one for me…a baker’s dozen.

    My favorite recipe card that I made is Whoopie Pie which is typed in brown on a white circle with the recipe on brown circle (so it looks like the confection), this is mounted on 5×7 hot pink card stock, embellished with a cut frame of pink and white Susan Branch paper. The icing on the cookie…the Susan Branch stickers: Chocolate (with the drip of chocolate under the letter), KISS BORING GOODBYE (pink), and your chocolate Oreo cookie dressed in the hot pink plaid bikini…this cute sticker was the inspiration for recipe card…did I tell you that I love everything you do?

    My recipe card collection lives in the Susan Branch 5×7 Christmas Memories Album.

    I’m hoping that northern VA will be a stop on your book tour. I’ll bring my album with memories of MV…and, of course, the bikini-clad Oreo cookie recipe card.

  41. TJ in VA says:

    Oops….(with the drip of chocolate under the letter “L”)…

  42. Anne says:

    I LOVE your Dad 🙂 Sending a bee to Jack – too cute for words!

    What a nice post! It’s Sunday morning and I’ve just completed my morning ritual of breakfast in bread which I learned how to do after reading your “Breakfast” section in “Heart of the Home.” I always say a little thank you for that because it truly is my favorite part of my week. After today’s post I will also say a little thank you to your friend Jane as well! We really are all connected 🙂

  43. Karen says:

    Oh Susan, How lucky your friend Jayne was to have met Elvis!! I loved him since I was little. I have been to Graceland. But of course I love all your blogs but this one was special to me because of Elvis. And Jack is as cute as ever. I love all his little antics! Thank you Susan!

  44. Ozark Mountain Moma says:

    I see from your picture,( I know I was supposed to be paying attention to Jack), that you and I are reading the same things….Country Living (UK) and Living The Good Long Life. I am right there with Martha thinking we ought to age as wonderfully as we can, there is so much to learn and see and do and so much mail to get…..oh my! It’s just almost too precious to think about 🙂

  45. Mary S. says:

    We’ve been gone for two weeks, and it’s soooo nice to come home and get caught up on your blogs!! I love them always!!!
    So good to see Jack again! And Jane having a letter from Elvis – wow!!! We saw him in person in 1973, and am I ever glad we did!!
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  46. I loved this entire post, Susan — as always. But that photo of Jane with Elvis just knocked me out! I used to write to Ricky Nelson; I actually had his home address. I had to wait until much later, though, to see him in person. Twice, actually, at a Detroit area nightclub, the first time with girlfriends and the second time with my husband. Wow. I still have the photos. I still celebrate his birthday every May 8. He’d have been 73 this year. I truly get this…

    • sbranch says:

      I saw him too, right here on the island, twice in one night, maybe just a year before he died. I loved the show and the songs, it was wonderful.

  47. Emily says:

    Those cupcake banners are so bright and pretty! What a charming touch for a birthday party! ***LOVE***

  48. suzk says:

    Just got caught up with your blog and went to your friend Jane’s website – what a remarkable woman. I’m definitely getting her books! Thank you for telling us about her. Thank you also for sharing your photos of Jack and Girl – they are wonderful cats!

  49. Annette McD says:

    I have the honor of owning a few of your books and I am always on the lookout for more; what treasures they are. Thank-you you for sharing the history and inspiration behind your first book. I am glad you took your friend’s advice and ran with it. And boy, did you run ! You are still running with it. Keep it up, we all love you!

  50. Siobhan from Santa Monica, CA says:

    T H A N K Y O U J A N E ! ! !

    Y O U A R E A G E N I U S ! ! !

    X O X O X O

  51. Laura D says:

    Susan, I know this may be a silly question, but how do I go back to the very beginning of your blog? I would like to read some of the first postings, but I don’t see a search option of any kind on here.

    • sbranch says:

      No, there isn’t one. I keep waiting for it to come, I’ve asked for it, but I’m sure my blog-maker is busy! The only way is to follow the arrows at the bottom of each page …. and go back from the beginning. Or, you can start at the beginning and move forward … Heres the BEGINNING — I had my website for years, but this is the link to my very first blog post. Something seems to have changed and all the photos from that first post are missing, but it gets better. If you follow the arrows at the top of the page, you will move forward into the blog, or back into the older, pre-blog website. Hope this helps!

  52. Mary E Osborne says:

    Well God bless Jane and God bless Jack. He’s a most darling kittah! My tuxedo kittah is pretty lively to, even after 10 years. However one of my first generation kittahs, Angel, was HOT on the milk container rings. When we moved to our first house we found about a gazillion, million under the hutch! Hilarious. Love your blog. meo

  53. Sheryl from Chico says:

    Just a quick note to tell you how much you are appreciated; for all the time you spend writing to us, for your humor, for your caring and with this blog for keeping our old, wonderful memories alive. Hugs to you.

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