HEART of the HOME

Today, I thought I’d talk about the Heart of the Home . . . which means many things to many people, including me . . . but this is where it all started in my life . . .MUSICA

happy homemom's stove

In the kitchen.  We never took photos of my mom’s stove when we were growing up, we had too many other much more interesting subjects . . . but this is one of the rare ones where the stove insisted on being Dadin the picture, a photo-bomb so to speak.  These are two of my little brothers, Brad on the left and Chuck on the right and the little person in front is my sister Paula.  She’s about one, which means I’m about eleven at the time of this photo.  I grew up with that stove, learning to cook by helping my mom in our tiny kitchen.  This is where my mom and my grandma made Thanksgiving dinner for our big family and where Blogdaddy tasted and approved everything, especially the gravy and the stuffing. He was our own, built-in, Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. (That’s him showing us that if you hold a piece of bread in your mouth when you cut onions, you won’t cry, which didn’t totally solve the problem for me, but it did help; then I learned to hold my breath completely and that helped a little more until of course I had to breathe and then everything went haywire.)

Family

she is beautiful

My stove at home, on the other hand, gets photographed every five minutes. Since I learned to cook on one just like it, this stove says HME to me, my kitchen wouldn’t have felt complete without it.

yum!

Just like my mom’s, mine is a 1956 O’Keefe and Merritt . . . two ovens, two broilers, four burners and a griddle.  Back in 1989, when we moved to this house, we found a refurbished one with all the original parts ~ she’s still going after almost sixty years in service.

kitchen linoleum

carrot cupcakes

Just like my mom’s, my stove is prone to photo bombing too.  Here she is, getting in on the action, peeking around the carrot cupcakes . . .

Cheesecake

Knowing the power of her lasting beauty, she stands back and confirms the cheesecake, so proud of her accomplishment, as well she should be.

cooking

Cheese Blintzes

She slides in next to the cheese blintzes we made for a winter breakfast party, trying hard not to take too much credit . . . but finding it difficult.

Breakfast

I mean, hey, after all, I agree . . . when you got it, flaunt it.

with love from the heart of the home

She’s the Queen of Butter Cookies and she knows it!

recipes

meatloaf!

She’s back there, warming the kitchen with her magical self, filling it with fragrance of turkey meatloaf making our cup runneth over with gratitude . . .

behind the brownies

Spicing the kitchen with chocolate; we come in from the cold to the smell of “after-school” when she and I make brownies together…

brownies

IMG_1956

And even poking herself between the spiced pecanmaking for the holidays.  My old stove is the Heart of our Home too . . . she’s been a very good girl.

love the dishtowel display unit

Because of the way she makes the house smell, she righteously takes center stage in our kitchen . . . the Heart of the Home, where the action is.

heart of the home

our kitchen

But as you can see here, she is not overbearing, doesn’t take up too much space, never says “me, me, me” ~ like all stoves, she’s a giver,  quietly motherly and elegantly low-key, passionately nurturing. When our electricity goes out on the island (taking our heating with it), there she is, waiting to be put in service.  We close the kitchen doors and cook something by candlelight, heat up the kitchen, make it smell good, and it’s as cozy as can be as the storm rages outside.  That’s our stove. 

my stove As you have probably noticed in all these photos, she’s also a fantastic display unit for dishtowels, worth her weight in gold in so many more ways than one . . .

dishtowels

Because I love dishtowels . . . they’re decorative; they’re a fun and easy project to make, and they perk things up for the holidays or anytime.  She wears them well.

Cozy fall day

Another reason I love my stove so much is for that shelf up top, not a big thing, but a fun little item to have.

IMG_7857

It’s not only cute and adds charm, but it’s handy for potholders at the ready . . .

stove top

And gives me one more way to celebrate the seasons as they change . . .

dressing up for the holidays

leaves

It takes just moments to go from flowery summer to owly fall; I add a couple of snowy trees, and it’s winter . . .

stove top dressing

And then, it’s Christmas.  I hang my banners there, and see the little snowman in front of the cardboard house on the left . . . we have those houses in our web store . . . they come like a card, you can take them apart and lay them flat.  I’m house-crazy year-round, but especially at Christmas.

Just painted the kitchen

The stove-shelf can actually lay flat if you want to have the ultra clean look, which for me is almost never; I do like clean, but not “ultra.”  Except for when we paint the kitchen, then it’s nice to see it like this.  I love the stove-on-stove look ~

All kinds of old stovesSo much so, I hunted around and found this little stove in an antique store and it’s now pretty much a permanent part of the stove shelf; good for all seasons.

the watcher

Hello Kitty.  While I decorate my shelf this little guy watches my every move from the top of the fridge . . . Girl sleeps through it all on the back of the couch in the “wood room”  

First thing in the morning

The stove is the first thing I go to in the morning, when the world is hushed, her pilot light burning softly . . .

home

first thing in the morning

. . . on windy days and chilly fall mornings, she warms up the tea kettle . . . my footsteps are the only noise, I take my cup through the house to my studio and start the day . . .

early morning shadows

. . .The sun comes up and casts long shadows, lighting the stove with rays cutting through the trees out back . . .

cooking!

Yes, all this is good.  But cute is never really enough, is it?  The bottom line is, is she practical? That is the question.  Cute + Practical = Please come live in my house.  Despite practical shelf and dishtowel display, can she cook?  Oh yeah, she can cook.

Amazing pumpkin cheesecake

What better time of year to celebrate the little-white-stove-that-could than Thanksgiving?  She’s the gift that keeps on giving, like this most delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake.  If you’ve never made this, try it this year, you will be so happy you did!  It’s really easy.  I promise!  It’s in the Autumn Book, but click on the name ↑, it’s there too.

dessert

leaves

Joe at Thanksgiving

And so’s he, by the way, the gift that keeps on giving.  This is Joe pouring off the juices from the turkey so I can make the gravy, the famous (at least in our family) gravy my grandma made . . . Here’s a little tip for . . .

making gravy

leaves

Joe and I are away from the Island, in Arizona now, visiting with my darling Blogdaddy (the Daddio that leaves so many interesting comments in our “comment section”) and his wonderful wife Jeanie.  We’re making this gravy (I don’t have the recipe here to put up ~ traveling as we are makes it difficult, I’ll ask Kellee if she can put it on Facebook for you.  If you have the Autumn Book, the recipe for the gravy and lots of other things is in there) for Dad and Jeanie tomorrow night, with all the fixings, and then next week, we’re going back to California to do the same thing with my mom.  We are the bread dryingest people you know right now . . . getting ready to make my Grandma’s Stuffing everywhere we go, like this . . .

setting out the bread to dry

My grandma’s turkey stuffing is easy, it’s made the old-fashioned way with air-dried bread . . . takes about three days for it to dry properly.  When I’m at home, I use my ironing board to lay out the bread in the pantry, so I can close the door, no kitties allowed . . .  I think we may have it laid out all over our luggage in the back of the car on this trip!  Where there’s a will, there’s a way . . .

Grandma's Stuffing

Because we can’t have Thanksgiving without this . . . it doesn’t matter where we are.

making stuffing

Here I am rubbing the sage to drop it into the bread, now mixed with melted butter, sauteed onions, and celery . . . it’s just one of the things we are thankful for, it Heart of the Homesays Mom, it says Grandma, it even says Great Grandma.  Traditions are so important, they make the world a saner place.  Old ones are especially wonderful, so if you don’t have them, remember you can start now and do something the same way every year, and someday, your traditions will be as old and revered as our Grandma’s Turkey Stuffing.  You’ll be able to carry them with you no matter where you go, and make home in any environment.  As you can see, the littlest things can have the greatest meaning.  Connecting your traditions with the five senses, such as warmth and fragrance, makes them even better.  Throw in some MUSICA and a bit of heart and you have foreverness.

What comes from the heart

making cranberry sauce

We’ll make our favorite cranberry sauce too . . . if you have my calendar, you’ll find this recipe hanging on your wall right now! cranberry-sauce

Don’t forget to make extra so you can make delicious Christmas Jam with it ~ that recipe is on your wall too!

making Holiday Jam, cranberry orange marmalade

You put this on buttered toast or biscuits and your taste buds go to the moon, and you get to go along for the ride.

for the memories

So yes, that old stove is the practical of the practical, she’s been bringing people together for a very long time. Still going strong, born about the same time Norman Rockwell painted this lovely picture . . . look at the eye of the man in the lower corner.  I think that’s Norman Rockwell . . . Is he happy, or what?

Thanksgiving

Touch hands Girlfriends . . .

Touch hands  “Ah friends, dear friends, as years go by, and heads grow gray, how fast the guests do go.  Touch hands, touch hands with those that stay; strong hands to weak, old hands to young, around the Christmas board, touch hands.”  James Patrick Erdman

Bird and heart ... With love from Susan Branch

 XOXO  

celebrate

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507 Responses to HEART of the HOME

  1. N Jean says:

    The stove story is wonderful. I have never looked at it like you described and I will never look at my stove the same again. Have a lovely Thanksgiving and enjoy your family.

  2. Martha says:

    Hi Susan — Your post really warmed me up today on a chilly New England afternoon. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for all of the joy you give us everyday!
    Martha from CT

  3. Keri Brown says:

    This was just lovely to read! It was exactly what I needed at the end of a busy week as I rest up for a busy weekend! 🙂

  4. Anna Marie says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Susan and Joe! What a lovely way to pay homage to the hardest working unit in the kitchen (except for the cook that is). I love Thanksgiving and everything that involves. Thank you for the blog. You really brighten my day when I discover an update.

  5. Do you have a book with all the Country Living Recipe illustrations? I lost my copy of Pineapple Upside Down Cake and would love to have it framed — I collect all things pineapple.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t have a book like that, but I have a heaven recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake . . . it’s HERE. Enjoy!

      • Rhonda D. says:

        Susan, what a great idea Penny has…a book with all those neat things in it. Including those small books that so many of us will never have the chance to acquire. We’d all love that. Hmmm….

      • Tawni urrutia says:

        Heaven recipe is right! My family applauds just at the mention of making it!!

      • Julia says:

        RABBIT! RABBIT!
        I’m so lucky. I might have all of the Country Living
        recipes. Do you know how many there were? Trees
        are up and entertaining has already started. Woo Hoo!
        Safe travels.

  6. evangeline says:

    Hi Susan,
    So happy to read this last post…the stove and all “her” warm wishes…You are loved and missed when your gone… even tho I don’t live next door I “feel” like I miss you when your on a trip…ha ha… you are a blessing and thank you for sharing….your a really fun, creative, beautiful woman and friend…you do inspire us to want to be better people/ladies/girls/friends…..etc…It has been so long since I have really taken a moment to write…I am still a nurse at a rehab/medical center. Have Hospice patients that have gone to their rest and my heart just gets tired….but I am privileged to work where I do…at home I am so happy and blessed… My beautiful grandson, Malakai, you might remember was born last February 5. His mommy(Lindsay Evangeline) and he live with me (grammie) and my husband (grampie)…It is a wonderful life…waking up to that sweet little boy…he just makes me weep with so much love for him….I am blessed and so thankful…He is my sunshine…….sending you and Joe blessings…hugs to family and friends….you are loved…….evangeline

  7. Julie C says:

    So happy you are spending Thanksgiving with your family. Another great post. Your house is so cozy. I made your Cranberry Apple Crisp the other day. WOW. I can’t stop eating it! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Hugs to Blog Daddy. Happy Thanksgiving to the Girlfriends. Kisses to the Kitties!

  8. Dena says:

    oh my gosh , i’m like like envy over load , your kitchen , your day to day to day living , is what i so want , the beaver clever mom and baking bread and so on , but can never seam to find time, or just do what i care is important, i so envy your life and i know you work hard , love looking at life though your eyes, and escape to the world we’d like have , you are so talented and bless, Have a wonderful thanksgiving and continue to keep us posted, it gives us confidence to pursue our goals

  9. Noelle Sweeney says:

    Hello Susan: Thanks for the wonderful post, you just make all of our days so bright! I read through your posts and then I read them again and then I think about them randomly over the following days, you just make me so happy. Sometimes, I feel like we are old friends and we haven’t even met, how can that possibly be? But it’s true, you just hit the nail right on the head and you are such a positive inspiration, when I am down in the dumps I say to myself, go to the Heart to the Home and read some old posts, I know I will feel better and I always do! I am so thankful for you Susan! You are such a joy! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe and Blogdaddy and your Mom, oh and that photo of your brothers, they reminded me of your nephews, definitely family resemblance there! thanks again, Noelle

  10. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your wonderful family, Susan! Thank you so much for sharing a little bit of you with all of us!

  11. Sue says:

    Susan,

    What a wonderful post to warm the season! It was a beautiful “love letter” to the command center of your kitchen, but the best part of all was your very last photo…I almost shouted out loud at the rolling pin with the green handles. It’s twin is tucked snugly into my kitchen drawer at this very moment. My rolling pin came from my mother and it’s in near-mint condition because she wasn’t a big baker. It’s main function in life (and still is) was crushing Ritz crackers to make meatloaf; we didn’t use bread crumbs.

    My most fond memories of that rolling pin include all the miles and miles of Play-Doh I rolled out with it as a small child. I remember one day in particular when I was probably no more than five years old. I was sitting at a card table in our breezeway connecting the house and garage, rolling out Play-Doh as usual, when a fieldmouse popped in for a visit. Not being a big fan of mice, I threw the rolling pin at him and bonked him dead-center. I bravely went over and picked him up by the tail and threw him outside. Poor little mouse…I choose to believe he survived the incident with just a very bad headache and a healthy fear of little girls armed with their mother’s rolling pins!

    Thanks for another wonderful stroll down Memory Lane. Have a grand and glorious Thanksgiving, and thank your family from all us girlfriends for sharing you with us.

    Sue, in Houston

    • sbranch says:

      And you still have it! That’s so great, Sue!

      • Sue says:

        Yes — it’s one of those “valuable only to me” treasures. (AND, I’m horrified…my original post had two improper “it’s” in it. I do know the difference. Guess I needed more coffee when I posted! LOL)

  12. Fan in California says:

    Thanks, Susan, for your ode to your stove — delightful as always! And, of course, further sweetened by the inclusion of a photo of Jack!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

  13. Donna Babbitt, Brea, Ca. says:

    OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, fun flashback, I had not thought of butter and sugar sandwiches in many years! They were wonderful!!! The little crunch of the sugar, the burst of sweetness, and made of course on ever so soft white bread.
    Somehow I think we sugar, white bread eating kids were happier than the new breed of sprouts and tofu or whatever, gotta be some magic in the butter, sugar and white bread combo. If I weren’t so stuffed from lunch I would make one now…………………………there is always later!! YUM!!!

  14. barbara lassiter says:

    Lovely and this story about your stove warmed my heart….but this story is not just about that. It’s about tradition and gratitude and family and most of all love. Thank you. Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. Karen Saunders says:

    You are so lucky to still have your lovely parents. I know you cherish them. Reading your blog recently I can’t believe how many people from all over the world read your blog. You have accomplished so much since you’ve started. (I am so proud of you!!) Still anxiously awaiting your new book and so thankful you never stop writing and painting. Glad you are not in the midst of all that bad weather back east. My nephew is at the core of the railway system and they had to have special passes to get into New York City to deal with keeping the railways running. WOW!!! Scary stuff!!

  16. Lisa Orr says:

    Susan and Joe-
    Hope you have a warm, wonderful Thanksgiving. Susan, I am thankful to have “discovered” you many years ago through your artwork, books, etc. You bring wonder to the everyday, and you even took time to encourage me once when I was facing tough challenges with my special needs son. You’re an inspiration to me and many others. Thank you for adding beauty to many lives with your talents. God bless you!

  17. Elisabeth Olijnsma says:

    Well, this was a very cosy post to read on Sunday Morning during breakfast! Thank you for your beautiful posts and stories. I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving! Wish we had that holiday in the Netherlands!

    Love, Elske

  18. Betty Marie says:

    ” Happy Thanksgiving” Love your stove. In my basement sits this lovely old stove with the “soup well” on the left hand side. I remember my mother having a stove like this. I have no hopes that it will ever work again or there would be some one who would know how to refurbish this beauty. It may still work,but I would never plug it in, being on the safe side,just in case it could start a fire.

    • sbranch says:

      There are people out there who know how to refurbish them ~ you can Google it if it’s something that you would want to do.

  19. Joan Lesmeister says:

    You always grab my heart, and I’m thankful for you!!! Beautiful old girl, your stove! Such a delightful blog my dear and I do enjoy the comments! Happy Thanksgiving to all! xoxo

  20. chris consentino says:

    thank you, dear Susan!! oh! thank you!!! Thanksgiving has ALWAYS been my favorite holiday….it was my parents, and my grandparents, anniversary, so it was always just THE most important!! and, having been gifted with an “attitude-of-gratitude”….well, it still holds my heart. and you, well, you bring that Thanksgiving-ness to every day as well. so, thanks, again. so glad you can be spending time and sharing hugs with your family. sooooo important. do continue having a lovely visit, and a safe, fun trip home!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Attitude of gratitude, love it. All you have to do is think of the luck of your birth, where, and who, and you can’t help but be grateful!

  21. Hi Susan & Joe!
    Just popping in again to wish you a lovely, old-fashioned family Thanksgiving! I know that your parents are thrilled to have you close by at holiday time. Heartfelt thanks for filling our lives with blessings all year long, Susan! Safe travels!
    Grateful hugs!
    Dawn
    ♡♡

  22. Curious Carrie says:

    Good morning SB, we’re up and at ’em at the same time on the same coast.

    So happy for you and your family and the time you’re having together…there isn’t much I wouldn’t forego to have another hour with my Mom. Happiest of Thanksgiving wishes to you and yours.

    Here’s the curious bit, which of course you need not answer. When I met up w/you in Cayucos, I asked for a close look at those artistic hands. I meant to do that in SLO but forgot. While ‘sussing out those magical phalanges I couldn’t help but notice the fabuloso “freestyle” cylindrical embellishment on your R. hand. Loved it. Did you design or was it a magical and fun find?

    Nosy Nancy meets Curious Carrie

    • sbranch says:

      It was Joe . . . his snowflake surprise one Christmas long ago. And yes, it’s been a blessing and a privilege that we’ve come out at this time. xoxo

      • Curious Carrie Satiated says:

        What an eye your fella has for fabulous finds; the one many Christmas’ ago and also the one he found sitting on the high wooden stool lo’ those many years ago.

        Thank you for sharing. You are a good egg. xoxo

        Going to England with my sister, her husband, their children and each of their spouses end of April/early May 2015. May joy be unconfined!

        • sbranch says:

          You ARE? I can not think of someone I know will enjoy it more than you. Happy for you Carrie!

          • Carrie says:

            Perhaps the best treatment of all for that which ails one, a return to the motherland. My sister, my healer. She, by the way, has been CURED of hepatits C from a blood transfusion when she had open heart surgery as a child with new antiviral medications and because of this, has been taken off the liver transplant list and cleared for international travel.

            *Really, that’s it for me. Done and dusted, kippers and custard.*

          • sbranch says:

            xoxo Byeeee!

  23. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    Last year I made your cranberry sauce then the cranberry/orange marmalade jam (3 times! I kept giving away jars and having to make more). I think it will have to be an annual tradition, so easy, so wonderful, so tasty! thanks for the stove story, your stove is lovely and I really like the fact that you have 2 ovens 🙂 This morning I took an annual wreath-making class and now my fresh fragrant wreath is hanging on the front door, the 1st of many decorations to come for Christmas.

    • sbranch says:

      Homemade wreaths are so fun, and mostly all you have to do is trim your bushes to get the ingredients!

  24. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    I have a penpal in England (West Yorkshire) and she just visited Hill Top Farm and sent me the leaflet – I was so jealous and now know that I’ll have to get your book to send her for Christmas! Won’t she appreciate an American perspective on England?! 🙂

  25. Arline in LA says:

    Sometimes I think many people born after the ’50’s just don’t get it! When we moved into our last house in California I liked the semi-remodeled kitchen. Not really modern. BUT – those crazy people installed a fancy built-in double oven that is electrically vented to the OUTSIDE! I can’t smell things cooking . . . . well unless I run outside to the backyard. Craa-zee!

  26. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    I have my cranberries in the fridge, got 2 bags this year so I Have enough left over to make Christmas jam. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! How is your papa feeling?

  27. Holly says:

    Hello everyone! I’m also enjoying Arizona right now! I totally missed the storm we had back home. It’s chilly here in the evenings, but 74 today. Amtrak was great this trip! While in the Rockies of New Mexico & Colorado we saw thousands of antelope coming down from higher elevations, herds of wild turkey & pheasant, and mule deer. It’s one of the best ways to really see American. You also have great conversations with people from everywhere. The young students from Europe are always amazed with how much open space we have here.

    I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving.

  28. Darlene says:

    Dear Susan, Such a lovely and sweet tribute to a very special stove. She is a beauty! I will be making your cranberry sauce, corn pudding and gingerbread cake recipe, as I do every year since 2004. I can’t believe it has been ten years since the Autumn cookbook came out…feels like only yesterday I was flipping through the pages that Thanksgiving morning and will be doing the same this year as well. Thank you for the wonderful traditions I now share with my family. Hope your dad is feeling better and that you have a beautiful Thanksgiving with all your loved ones!! xoxo

  29. hi susan! thanks for the lovely post! happy thanksgiving to you and yours. i was wondering…are all the recipes that appear in your calendars in your books too? i have saved several of your past calendars, because i love the artwork and the recipes and all the quotes. was thinking of separating and organizing the calendar pages into a binder, so they are in book form so to speak, but if they are in your books already then i wouldn’t need to take up more space on my cookbook shelves of which there is not much room left. LOL…just wondering while at work on my break. thanks, sandi

  30. Nancy says:

    Susan,
    Thank you! You reminded me of the stove I grew up with in my childhood home- it was very similar, but without the griddle or little shelf. Ahh, what I wouldn’t give to have it now -two ovens- with my nine children. I just appreciate you and your “homey” style. Blessings to you this Thanksgiving!

  31. Isabel says:

    Hi Susan,

    Just wanted to let you know I just received your AUTUMN book. It made my cry looking through it. It represents so much of what I love, along with all the other girlfriends. Reading all the posts, I know I am not alone in saying your spirit, your knowing what we all cherish, enjoy and give thanks for, is amazing. You can always cheer me up if I am down. Wishing you and Joe a happy Thanksgiving. Hope you might consider reprinting the other Home books for the other 3 seasons for any one who might not have gotten them the first time around.

  32. Isabel says:

    Meant to say made “me” cry. Rushed thru the proofreading. Thanks.

  33. Linda Evans says:

    I love this post……first of all I love your stove and the story behind your love of it !!!! My mom had a very small kitchen….VERY SMALL….but the best meals came out of that tiny kitchen. Thanksgiving dinner ALWAYS had homemade dressing and gravy, which was heaven !!!!!!!!!! Oh my mouth waters thinking about it !!!! No Stove Top, no jar gravy, no cooking bag (just the big black roaster)……awesome !!!! Your post brought back some wonderful memories. That is why I love your blog, so warm and cozy like a big hug !! Happy Thanksgiving !!!

  34. Carol from Indy says:

    Thank you so much for the reminder to get my bread out to dry! I am a day behind but thanks to you all is not lost:-) And thank you for the joy that you always bring us and the reminder to take pleasure in the everyday, the simple things, the magic all around us. And God bless your stove!! What a JOY!
    Happy Thanksgiving~
    Carol

  35. Carol from Indy says:

    One more question if I may. Do you ever trip over your darling little rugs in your kitchen? I love love love them (the one by the kitchen door looks like a Claire Murray) but am afraid that I would be constantly catching my toe or they would be rumpled up and crooked. Any tricks?
    A happy old fashioned Thanksgiving to you and yours.
    Carol

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t trip on them; but you can always get one of those small, thin, non-skid rubber mats to go under the rugs, that pretty much keeps them in place.

  36. Idelsy says:

    Beautiful Post Susan! Wishing you and your beautiful family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  37. Janet Hundley - Grafton, WI says:

    Beautiful blog as always.
    Susan, you are a blessing, pure and simple.

  38. Judy in Ohio says:

    I so enjoy all of your stories and anecdotes, dear Susan…and all of the girlfriends.Truly warms my heart! A wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving is wished for you all. And thank YOU, Susan, and all for being at the top of the list of all that I am thankful for in MY life!! 🙂

    <3 HAPPIEST THANKSGIVING!!

  39. Rebecca says:

    Dear Susan, this delightful post really cheered my morning, thank you! It reminds me of those wonderful storybooks by Virginia Lee Burton like Katy and the Big Snow or Mike Mulligan and his Steamshovel. I think your lovely, warm, and stout stove could star in a picture book like that 🙂

  40. anne weadon says:

    You saved my life! I was just chopping up onions for my dressing (that’s what we call “stuffing”) and was weeping and wailing–suddenly that picture of your dad came to mind, and I popped a piece of bread into my mouth–immediately the tears ceased!! Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving to you. Please thank your dad for me.

  41. Dana Burton says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Week Susan! I was wondering….do you have the recipe for the cheese blintzes posted anywhere on the blog? I looked but couldn’t find it anywhere.:) I remember them from the original post in February 2012 and I would love to try and make them! Maybe it will be in the new book?? BTW, I’m so glad that you have joined IG and I can follow you there too.
    God Bless and Love, Susan….I’m thankful for you! What a blessing you have been to my life and so many girlfriends around the world.

  42. Gina P. from NY says:

    Dear Susan:

    Loved your “Ode to the Stove” – that old, beloved stove makes your home look so cozy and warm – and just think of how many wonderful family meals were prepared on that very stove for so many years!

    I was surprised when I saw your blog that you were still in CA – as I thought I had read in one of your earlier posts that you would be back in MV for Thanksgiving. Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving – so may you and all of our girlfriends have a wonderful one surrounded by family and friends. It is so nice that you are spending it with your family.

    It is snowing here now in NY. The snow started around 7 a.m. this morning and has been steadily coming down. The tree branches are all coated and look so beautiful! I am so glad I got all my shopping at the supermarket done on Sunday, so there is nowhere to go today, and that is fine with me. I am doing some prep cooking for tomorrow (going to my brother’s family), and catching up on laundry, reading, and watching the Cooking Channel and the snow come down. While I was sitting here, I was just thinking of how wonderful my mom’s turkey, and stuffing were. My mom always stuffed the bird, and she made a very simple “bread” stuffing that was so out of this world, we fought over it every year… I was trying to think of where she might have gotten the recipe from, and I believe it is most likely from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I fondly recall that red and white cookbook which sat on her shelf and was worn from years of use. I’m sure my mom added her little touches here and there to that stuffing – but it was the best. Mom has had Alzheimers Disease for many years, so unfortunately, I am not able to share lots of memories with her anymore. However, I am thankful that she is still here with us. Even though she is not able to communicate anymore, her eyes still light up when she sees me. We are so happy that we will have her with us this Thanksgiving.

    Susan – I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and good wishes to Blog Daddy for his continued recovery. Enjoy your family, and have a safe voyage back home.

    • sbranch says:

      We stayed longer, to be with Blog Daddy and Jeanie, also with my mom and her brother too, all getting up there, and me missing everyone too much to run home.

  43. Kate Taylor says:

    Well I’m giving the pumpkin cheesecake a try, freaking out when the filling was over the top of the crust, but yours did too, so I won’t care! First holiday in a new house, it sure illustrates that the kitchen is not set up very well, not to mention all the things I cant find.
    What kind of food processor do you use? Mine is $10 tiny POC that really wasn’t up to the challenge of gingersnaps… Glad Im not doing the turkey. I guess you are missing the big snow, none here either, Im ready for a good storm, doesn’t even feel like winter yet.
    Love your old stove, similar to my grans that we all still use in the summer. I could hang out in your kitchen all day. Happy Thanksgiving Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      I have an old Cuisinart . . . but it has a good sized bowl on it. I don’t use it very often, but this is sort of a necessity.

  44. Susan from Bainbridge Island, Washington state says:

    The Pumpkin Cheesecake is in my fridge and waiting for the car ride up to the farm for our families Thanksgiving Day dinner….I am so excited to finally get a chance to taste this fabulous looking thing….I want to go take a slice of it, but know that I can’t…have to wait for dessert time today!!! My mind is drooling to know what it tastes like!!!! It is huge and will fill the masses! Thank you
    Susan for the recipe….I am sure this will be a HIT!!!! I will let you know the outcome! Another Susan Branch success story ahead, I am sure!!!! Thank you for posting this recipe …..and I have the Autumn book to keep it forever!!! Happy Thanksgiving! From my island to yours!

    • Susan from Bainbridge Island, Washington state says:

      UPDATE: That pumpkin cheesecake was beyond fabulous…So many RAVES from everyone…What a great recipe and so many asked for the recipe to take home! I loved it and I just had to let you know that it was a complete success….Thanks, Susan….xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      XOXO Susan! Happy Thanksgiving!

  45. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Susan!

    I am thankful for another wonderful year of your beautiful blog, amazing art and neverending inspiration!

  46. Lauri R Hyde says:

    Dear Susan,

    I just want to say thank you so much for your post about the train and your homage to your kitchen stove. I just love your kitchen! Who needs granite countertops, anyway? Your kitchen simply drips charm! On that note….are you aware of a wonderful little volume of short stories entitled “These Simple Things”? It’s a small sized book that I picked up at a library sale many years ago and it has short stories within that are all relate to things domestic. The book jacket says there are essays from House & Garden, published by Simon and Schuster back in 1962. What brought this to mind is that one of the little stories is entitled “The Stove” by Rhys Davies. I think you will adore it! There are also stories such as The Teakettle by Elizabeth Bowen, The Spoon by Santha Rama Rau and not to be outdone, Bread by Rumer Godden. There are more stories, but I would love to hear if/when you find the book and how you like it. Best, Lauri Hyde

  47. Donna says:

    Happy Thansgiving to you and your family!!!!

    I love your posts….With each of your posts, you share such a happiness and contentment for life! What is your secret? And for a happy marriage???

    Blessings,

    Donna

    • sbranch says:

      I was lucky, got born with the Happy gene from both parents. Most of the time, I can overcome almost anything by counting my blessings. As for your second question; I was lucky there too, but have come to believe that if you can think (which is always hard) before you get married, as to whether or not you have anything in common with this person, you might save yourself grief. Anything you like to do, that your partner likes to do, that you would both do, whether you’re together or not . . . this is a BIG help — the more of those things, the merrier.

  48. I hope your Thanksgiving was a happy one! Your blog is so inspiring! I loved reading about your beautiful stove and your kitchen is just so delightful. The little furry dog on your stove shelf caught my eye…….how adorable! Is there a source by any chance to find one like it?
    I’ve tried so many of your recipes and they have all been wonderful. Thank you for all that you share with us!

  49. Oh your post is so lovely, but makes me so homesick. I miss being able to be in my childhood home, with my mom at her stove…She has been gone for 28 years, and though I have my own home, there’s just a yearning that takes place for ones original home when the holidays roll around. Just looking at your post makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, though my mom’s stove was not nearly as charming as yours! 🙂

  50. P.S. I made your grandma’s stuffing and it was THE BEST!

  51. marcie downs says:

    I am sad only two blogs this month. Is everything OK?

    • sbranch says:

      Just a little busy these days with my family. But tomorrow, Monday, Joe and I climb onto the train and head east in our room with a view. Things should be back to what passes for normal pretty soon. Thank you for your patience. xoxo

  52. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Rabbit Rabbit!~

  53. Carol from PA says:

    Safe travel to you and Joe, Susan! Enjoy the winter wonderland that is out there as you return East! I and others could feel just how special this trip was for you as you reunited with family. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure your trips West are always special but I bet this one was extra special! Those of us who have the unenviable role of “orphans” and who miss our loved ones terribly appreciate you sharing your memories as they have been made on this trip. It helps to count our blessings both past and present! ❤️

  54. Hi Susan,
    So glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving season with your family in California and Arizona. I know they were happy to have you there a little longer than planned.
    Our Thanksgiving was memorable with all the family gathered ’round. Lots of good food, joy and laughter — and that nor’easter last Wednesday gave the grandkids lots of snow to play in and make a snow people museum in the woods out back.
    Now it is on to Christmas and making your spiced pecans and star-shaped croutons as gifts for friends and to ship to family far away. I’ve been saving glass jars for awhile and plan to package the goodies in those, with red ribbons tied around the top…should look pretty festive.
    I have read your Christmas book, cover to cover, over the past couple of days and treasure it even more now since you signed it for me at Best of Britain in Newburyport in September.
    Enjoy your train trip back East and settling in on the Vineyard for Christmas and winter. Bet those kitties will be glad to see you!
    Happy Holidays, Susan, and thanks for all the inspiration!
    Hugs,
    Nancye T.
    Wells, Maine

  55. Kathy Korb says:

    Hi Susan, on cyber Monday!!
    A couple of things I want to share with you. Thank you for the Candied Orange Peal recipe in the Christmas Book. I have attempted to make it and was successful, both times!! My 84 year old mother was stating how you just can’t buy good Orange peal in the stores.. so I made her some and put it in a jelly jar!! She loved it! Thanks!

    Secondly, I also used your recipe for chicken stock and love, love, love it!! Will always use that recipe now!!

    And lastly, I am sewing now and even quilting and have you to thank for your encouragement and fabric, patterns and cheering!! No matter how old we are, some things just resonate with us and we are more ourselves for it!!

    Oh Happy December 1st!!
    Kathy Korb

  56. Kathy Korb says:

    ps.. I am going to own a stove like yours someday!! I truly love it!! I have been searching on ebay.. in the Midwest these are hard to come by. California and Georgia seem to be the places these honeys landed… Thanks!

  57. Marianne says:

    It was so nice that you could spend two Thanksgiving celebrations – one with your Dad and one with your Mom – and I know they were each special in their own way and you will always remember them. It made me smile. I’m so happy for you. My parents have been gone for a long time. We used to have wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations together. I hope Jack/Blog Daddy continues to improve. Thank you so much for writing how he was doing in an earlier blog. This blog about ovens was such a fun one to read and I forwarded it to a friend and it had us e-mailing back and forth about the ovens we had learned to cook on when we were young. Hers was at her Grandmother’s and was a cook stove where you brought the wood in and threw it in the stove for the fire (and probably chopped it, too) and mine was a green gas stove from the 1930s or early 1940s. I just loved that old stove and my parents hung onto it as long as they could. Belated Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe and all your extended families! (I wanted to say it even though we’re now in December.) Happy Day!

    • sbranch says:

      Blog Daddy is really coming right out of this, doing so much better now, thank you, one and all, for your prayers and good wishes! Happy Day to you too Marianne!

  58. janejane says:

    Susan.. I love this post and all the feelings it stirred up. I live in the house I grew up in, built in 1950. I have a friend who laughingly calls it outdated. I have visited your blog many times and one of the first things I noticed? The gray countertops with the metal strip edge. Just like the ones we had when this house was built. Love a girl who keeps her granite money in the bank. I would feel right at home in your kitchen. Love the big stove, little stove and all the things that make it so uniquely yours. Feeling cozy, full of kitchen love. Sweet post.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL “keeps her granite money in the bank!”

    • Diane says:

      janejane,
      I hope I’m not posting too late for you to see this, but I want to thank you for a new perspective. I’ve been considering replacing my old laminate counter top and a mismatched tile one, but just didn’t feel right about the expense when I don’t really desperately “need” it yet. [I’ve wanted a beautiful marble-look quartz pattern, even more expensive than granite – eeek!] But when I read your phrase “Love a girl who keeps her granite money in the bank”, I felt justified in keeping what I have. I took out a Susan Branch recipe card, copied your phrase, and posted it on my refrigerator. By the way I, too, grew up in a house built in 1949 with the exact color counter top with metal banding that Susan has, and it was one of the first things I noticed.

      • sbranch says:

        ♥ ♥ ♥

      • janejane says:

        Diane,
        I just saw your reply and it made me smile. Right now my granite money outweighs my want for granite. I think Susan’s blog is all about girls inspiring girls. Love to visit with kindred spirits !

  59. Deb in Michigan says:

    Good Morning Susan, It has been a busy few weeks here and I just had time to sit with my Winter Blend coffee and read this blog. Thank you so much for the warm memories of a farm house kitchen and the yummy treats my Mom used to make for us. I’m glad I waited until I had time to enjoy this post.
    I hope your Dad is doing well. I miss my Dad almost daily. Dad’s are the best!
    God speed on your trip across the country. xoxo

  60. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Wishing you a safe and happy return train ride back home to the East Coast! Hope your Thanksgiving Day was a terrific Turkey Day with your family and Joe! Your Dad and Mother are so very blessed to have a daughter like you, and no doubt you visiting your father was his best medicine for him striving to get feeling better!!!! I am currently on pain pills and muscle relaxants for acute back pain, and physical therapy is on the agenda later this week. I guess due to too much raking of leaves this Autumn 🙁 Sunday I hosted my 15th annual Advent Rosary Tea for my sister-in-laws, but couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of my hubby, son, and daughter who was home from college. (My company didn’t even know of my situation, though the ladies probably wondered why all of the goodies were from the Polish bakery, and not made from scratch as usual.) Oh well, all things are temporary, and this too shall pass! There’s always next year, right? Take care traveling Susan!!! Bye,bye!

    • sbranch says:

      Take your time Carilyn ~ Physical Therapy will get you back on course . . . feel better soon Sweetie. xoxo

  61. Dseborah Ferguson says:

    Has anyone heard from Susan? Worried!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve been sending lots of photos to Twitter from my phone while we’re crossing the country for Twitter from the Twain `– but I never seem to stay connected to the Internet long enough out here to update the blog! Soon we’ll be home, and all will be “normal” again. Sorry!

      • Dseborah Ferguson says:

        Oh so glad all is well! You’ve heard you cant teach an old dog new tricks…well that is how I am with this Twitter stuff so I miss all the good stuff! Ive been with you from the beginning. But I truly understand your progress and business and so…. God’s Blessings to you for helping so many of us lonely ladies.
        PS, I ordered a bunch of stuff and it came 3 days ago…I love it all!
        Debbie in sunny Southern California

  62. Stacey says:

    I love your stove…it is perfection! I, too, love dishtowels and always seem to have too many of them, but who can resist a cute new towel?! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving 🙂

  63. Denise says:

    Susan,
    I just love this post! It has been a longtime dream of mine to own an O’Keefe and Merritt stove. But they can be pricey so I am hoping to save my pennies for one someday.
    I imagine by now you are preparing for Christmas. I have not been to visit your blog for quite some time due to family responsibilities by I have so enjoyed this post today. There is something so soothing in reading about “life in the kitchen” Maybe because the kitchen has always been the center of our home for family and guests alike.
    Looking forward to keeping up with you here again.

    • sbranch says:

      Happy to hear from you Denise! Yes, save your pennies, and someday, it will come true and you will love it.

  64. Joan Rosenberg says:

    Just made a batch of Annie Hall’s butter cookies yesterday… a tradition in our house for about 20 years!!

  65. Joan Rosenberg says:

    Oh, and used the egg whites left over to make your poppy seed cake, also a Christmas tradition around here!! Thanks for years of delicious goodies!

  66. Virginia says:

    Your blog about your stove was so moving. I have read it over and over and recommended it to friends. I wish you would collect some of these in a book. What a wonderful keepsake that would make. Thanks for sharing your creativity with all of us and inspiring us as well.

  67. Karen P (Wisconsin) says:

    Thank you for the Cookie Jar! Must try a few more of those recipes this year. Annie Hall’s Cut-out Cookies are the BEST!!! xo

  68. loretta says:

    Hi, Susan…enjoying your blog. Love your stove too! My niece just bought a home in La. And it is over 100 yrs. Old. I’m going to tell her about Stove Heaven. I would like to send you a dish towel I embroidered for you! I Love making them and sell them in a local craft store. What address may I send it to? Have a wonderful holiday…it will be here very soon. Loretta/Calif.

  69. Peggy says:

    hi susan! I am setting up shop in spencer ma! I am opening my own little country store, i do refreb furniture, antiques and anything adorable ! I have a delima, what should I call it? I have a Facebook page with my stuff listed called shabby chic boutique, but I don’t know about a store with that name ? so any suggestions ? also do you do any whole sale on your stuff like calendars and books ect? because I can never find any one that sales your things, but I did find the 2015 calender at BJs ! thanks so much! peg

    • sbranch says:

      We can now sell books and calendars wholesale to people with resale numbers . . . you can talk to Kellee at customerservice@susanbranch.com and she can help with that. Hmmmm, name of your store. Has to be personal and should tell a tiny story, and be clear what kind of store it is. How about “COUNTRY STORE ~ Furniture, Antiques and Anything Adorable?” Or maybe just ANYTHING ADORABLE? I would go to a shop with that name for sure!

  70. Patricia says:

    Every once in a while I see this gorgeous house cookie cutter with a heart that looks as though it is made from copper. I have been looking for a gorgeous house cookie cutter and wonder where it was purchased. I don’t see it for sale on your website.

    I am going to check out the cookie recipes in Willard’s Cookie Jar. I have quite a few of your cookbooks and have many recipes over the years. We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this past May so I’ve baked a lot of cookies over the years.

    Merry Christmas!
    Patricia

    • sbranch says:

      I designed that cookie cutter as a prototype for a line of kitchen things that never got made — there’s just the one, and I’m the lucky person who got it. We have something like it in our web store, but it’s two pieces and not copper. Happy Anniversary and Merry Christmas Patricia!

  71. Peggy Cooper, Pueblo, CO says:

    Dear Susan, I know it’s a busy time of year, but I’m missing your posts. Hope all is well with you. Long story, but we are celebrating Christmas with our kids and grandkids this Saturday instead of next week. Pushed the shopping and wrapping frenzy up a bit, but now I’ve got everything ready and look forward to the visit. We’ll be making the 2 hour trip with our Springer Spaniel who hates car travel, even though we tranquilize her, she’s nervous the whole time. Will come back Sunday because we have to leave Katniss Everdeen, the evil feral cat here alone, and don’t want her to be alone too long. She’s several years old now, and spoiled like the dog is, but she still hates, hisses, and attacks anyone who comes into the house. She just loves (or maybe I should say tolerates) me and Bob, and is at her sweetest during the night when she sleeps with us and wants petting and cuddling. Otherwise, we can’t touch her unless she initiates it or she attacks. We know it’s because she’s afraid, but since we found her at about 4 weeks old, and she’s been coddled since then, we don’t know what her problem is. Oh boy, this is probably way more than you wanted to know.

    Anyway, I hope the reason you haven’t posted lately is because you’re busy with holiday preparations, and there’s not a problem with your mom or blog daddy. Take care.

  72. Carrie says:

    I just noticed your 2015 calenders are sold out. It slipped my mind to order. This grandma duties this year has really gotten me behind. Any chance there will be a second printing of them.
    Thank you for a wonderful fun year with all your shared thoughts!!
    May you have a blessed and merry Christmas.

    • sbranch says:

      No, shocking to me Carrie, and they aren’t going to reprint . . . I will see if there is anything to be dug up in the studio!

  73. lani nelson says:

    Susan, I have a vivid memory of my mother’s brand new O’Keefe and Merritt stove coming up the steps of our upstairs Victorian flat. It was shiny and large and awkward for the men to navigate. It was 1952 and I was 4 years old. There was a small space between the warm stove and the window that I used to sit and watch the birds in the large red plum tree. The stove came with a small paperback book of instructions. On the front was another- much larger stove- with two more ovens that I would dream about all the things I could bake at once. Thank you for sharing. It was a lovely reminder of a warm and happy time. Fondly, Lani

  74. Betsy in Pennsylvania says:

    All of your blog followers sure do miss your updates.

  75. Annette McD says:

    I know I’ve said it before…but…THIS IS MY FAVORITE POST EVER!!! Susan, you have truly gone over the top this time, girl. Your comments about your stove were truly heart-warming. Thank you one again for helping us see the ordinary and mundane things in our lives in a different light, making them shine as only you can.

  76. I love your stove! I have almost the exact same one. A 1957 O’Keefe & Merritt DeVille. Two ovens, two broilers, four burners and a griddle in the middle! It’s the stove of my dreams, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s cooked more turkeys, pies, cookies and dinners than I can count, and when we remodeled the kitchen we didn’t bother to add a heating vent because this baby’s pilot lights keep us warm all winter. Thanks for sharing yours with us!

  77. Amy Lynn in the Attic says:

    Oh Susan…. I haven’t read your blog in so long, and I certainly haven’t commented in a hundred years. My father passed away almost a year ago– two weeks from now– and it has been a rough year getting used to missing him. My mother has been sick and so many things going on. It is fall and cold now, and my friend- who recently moved to Virginia Beach- bought me The Fairy Tale Girl and had it shipped to me, what a BEAUTIFUL surprise!!! My mother fell this past Friday and I spent a lot of time with her in the hospital over the weekend, where I started the book and finished it last night. So many things that I would love to say about the book… It is wonderful and now I cant wait for the next… so in the meantime… I am trying to “catch up” on what I have missed in your blog over the past year. It warms my heart…. like two old friends who haven’t seen each other in a while, we picked up right where we left off.
    Love you Susan! Wishing you and Joe and all the family a very Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season.
    Amy Lynn

    • sbranch says:

      I’m happy to see you here Amy Lynn, and so very sorry for your troubles. Big hugs to you and your mom, wishing you the very best. Thank you for the lovely words. Thinking of you…xoxo

  78. Kristie Smith says:

    Hi Susan,
    I have to share this–when my husband and I were building our house 25 years ago, we bought a refurbished stove just like yours except it is the 6 burner one and we had it delivered into the framed house and then built our kitchen around it! I knew I wanted it to be the center of my kitchen and home and it has been. I never thought to use the top shelf for seasonal doo dads–but I am going to start! The inspiration to buy it was my grandmother’s owner’s handbook from her O’Keefe and Merritt stove, which is a prized possesion. The book and the stove.

  79. Delia says:

    Hello Susan, I just loved this post! I too have an old workhorse in my kitchen and I love it dearly. Sometimes when it gets a little under the weather I have a stove doc come and give a little TLC. My husband teases me when she wants a little more attention and tells me to get a new stove, but I know better, they can never out do these gems (he knows it too). I’ve purchased mine right before I married for only $20. Girls who sold it said it made amazing pancakes on the griddle. Right they were and I continue to make them. I too grew up with an old stove. My mothers is a lovely old red Chambers. She said it took 7 men to bring into the house and our Uncle went away with a bad backache. There’are many memories with it and with ours. Right now my SIL is selling one similar to yours and I posted your site for all to see how loved these stoves are. Thanks and so glad I have your Autumn book.

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