BEGIN AGAIN ~ Happy New Year!

MUSICA Hello Darlings!  Happy New Year!  

bells

Another year gone by . . . but before we say goodbye, I thought I’d reinforce the old memory bank with a look back at a very good year.

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Seasons

celebrate

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Birds in the snow

January 2014 was a snowy one here on Martha’s Vineyard . . . we had a fire in the fireplace almost every day . . . it was very cozy to paint and work on my new book with the crackling of the fire . . .

Martha's Vineyard winter 2014

Watching out the windows to see the wild turkeys visiting our feeders . . . adding to the magic.

Gladys Taber

arbor

We burrowed in for a long winter’s nap . . . it’s never quite long enough for me.  I don’t ever get tired of this sight.

He throws snow at me!

Or this one.  My sweetheart doing the aphrodisiac thing . . . I look out the window, there he is, he sees me, he throws a shovelful of snow at the window, and I count my blessings.

sticky snow

I love it when the snow comes in sideways and sticks to the windows.

Jack loves the fire

Jack does too, he’s the kind of kitty that likes to loll in front of the fire.

pristine walk in the woods

Almost every day, Joe and I walk in the woods, we bundle up, and out we go . . . unless there’s ice, or it’s 20 degrees, we always try to go.

icy day on the pond

That’s ice at the water’s edge.  But this is the view, one of them, and being out here is the best part of our day no matter what the season is.

blue with cold

The sky and colors change constantly.  I take a big breath of this cold freshest-of-the-fresh air, and let it circulate through my blood stream and whatever else I do that day is enriched by it.

snowdrops

But all good things must come to an end. So the other good things can begin.  

shadows

Snowdrops . . . our first flower of the season.  I lay on the cold ground, getting up close and personal with them. And the dirt smells good.

earth

snowdrops

Then I bring nature inside to be with us.

lambcake

And bake a lamb cake to celebrate SPRING!

spring bunny

Goldfinch

And while I do, outside our kitchen windows, others are celebrating too.

busy bee

The birds and the bees are as happy as we are . . . the earth blooms for us, a surprise every year even though we’re pretty sure it’s coming.

May

spring!

spring

Still all grey and brown, and yet . . . hope springs eternal.

weeping cherry trees

And then things get even more serious and we all come down with . . .

spring fever

And it becomes physically painful to stay indoors . . .

magnolia tree

This gorgeous Magnolia tree bloomed for us for many years, but then one day, it died. It was a huge loss, she had come with the house and we lost her on my watch. I have mourned her ever since.

planting a new Magnolia tree

I know we can never replace her, but this year, we tried.  A new girl was planted.  Now we have something special to look forward to in 2015, will she bloom?

To plant a seed

We hope so.

ahh spring on Martha's Vineyard

Spring was becoming lusher and lusher as it moved toward summer.  The roses began to bloom.  June is a perfect month on this island.

magic

I could roll in these.

the garden

Perky.

our walk

And the long dirt road through the woods to the water, birds singing, squirrels chasing each other up the trees and across the branches, and the smell of the green things growing ~ it’s all very good fordreams

Jack!

Jack runs from window to window in the spring . . . watching the world go by, keeping his eye on all the critters in the neighborhood and on his sister, hiding just below the window . . .

Girl Kitty

We let her out because she never goes further than two feet from the foundation of the house.

  And then it was time to clean the house because my high school girlfriends came to visit!  I drove them all over the island, we ate everywhere!  Here we are at Nancy Luce’s grave.  We had a wonderful time!

Reseda High School Girlfriends

hearts

me at Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow

And then it was time for me to realize a huge dream and go visit the home of an author I love named Gladys Taber ~ her very old house is called Stillmeadow, and there I am, verklempt. Tears. It was everything I hoped it would be.  I got to go inside this little house in Connecticut that Gladys wrote so much about (I feel like I can call her Gladys because we share the same birthday which makes us almost related.)   It felt like she was nearby, like she’d just run to the market and would be right home.

Stillmeadow, Gladys Taber

Gladys Taber quote

the waterway to Nantucket

Summer progressed, we planted the garden, we ate lobsters and watermelon under the arbor, Joe painted the house, I painted my watercolors and worked on a new book . . . and then it was time to hop a fast ferry to go visit a friend who was spending August on Nantucket, which is about an hour from here, east . . . another little speck of a place, just a little bit out to sea.

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And as all of you who virtually traveled along with us know, it is ADORABLE over there.  Cutest little houses in the world.  Pathway made from crushed seashells.

Sconset Cottage, Nantucket

I want to have a little house

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Sconset Cottage, Nantucket

Please.  How can it be this cute! We walked up and down, up and down, all the little lanes to see them all.pink-flowers

Chanticleer, Nantucket

This is a wonderful restaurant called Chanticleer ~ you can sit outside in the garden, or inside in the garden.

sunset in Sconset

moon

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Gorgeous Chanticleer on the inside . . .

Chanticleer Restaurant, Nantucket

Peachy pinky heaven.  Even the salt is pink.happy!

August 2010 005

And home again, to watch the sun set on the beach we walk to everyday.

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And then we started our own publishing business called Spring Street Publishing, and published our first book . . . AUTUMN from the HEART of the HOME.  We didn’t know how to do this when we started, but after 10,000 mistakes, now we do!  Here’s our first production, just arriving at the Studio in California, greeted by Sheri, Kellee, and Robin.dreamer

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And more things bloom in the garden . . . and the bees buzz and the butterflies flit . . . and the clock ticks . . .

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summer

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And a bunny cools his tummy on the shady lawn on a warm late summer day . . .HeartOfAutumn

And the clock keeps ticking.  We had lots of book signings this fall (I put the pictures HERE under Events) for Autumn and for A Fine Romance . . . which “forced” us out of the house, and we took good advantage of it . . .

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Because it’s very beautiful in New England in the Fall . . .

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We visited old graveyards where we walked and smelled the musty leafy smell, kicked up crunchy leaves and read the years on the headstones.

Wallum Lake

We stopped by this lake because once we saw it we really had no choice.  Did you know that New England is filled with lakes?  It is!  And there are darling little 1940’s cabins on the shores of most of them that are rentable!  Keep that in mind!

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memories

Elizabeth Howe Salem Memorial

We stopped in Salem to leave flowers on the memorial for my ancestor Elizabeth Howe who was hung because they said she was a witch.  Saddest thing in the world, she was the mother of six, a farmer married to a blind man.

Mayflower Society House

Then we went to Plymouth, where the Mayflower landed in the freezing winter of 1620. If you’d like to read a really great book, read The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.  You’ll love it!  history

19th Century doll

The Mayflower house was filled with wonderful old things.

Old Book at the Mayflower House

Including this beautiful old book ~ read what it says about Foolishness!!!!  Help!  Run Children!!!  Makes me happy I live today.  People calling people witches and the rod of correction would have done me in!

red work

Lovely old embroidery too, redwork.

Ti-corner hat

And an old Tricorne hat ~ you don’t see these everyday!

the walk

Then again, back home, and out on our walk seeing the colors changing, for just a while, because soon, we are off again . . .

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On the train ~ here we are in South Station in Boston . . . about to board the Lake Shore Limited for California . . .

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It’s a three-day cross-country trip in our room-with-a-view . . .I’ve been taking the train across the country since around 1984 . . . the only way to fly!  Because of the view from our windows . . .

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What a gorgeous time of year to travel!

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It couldn’t have been prettier.

sunset

Sunrises and sunsets right from our bed, rocking along, singing a song, side-by-side.

Twins Paden and Mason

And then we get there, and here are my sister’s twins to meet us . . . that’s Paden on the left (I’m pretty sure) and Mason on the right (I think), or perhaps that’s Mason on the left and Paden on the right!  Oh well, I’m better than I used to be! I’m sure eleven year old boys don’t like to be called “beautiful,” but I can’t help it.  These boys are beautiful.

Sisters

Sisters . . . This is Shelly and me. She’s the youngest of my eight siblings and I’m the oldest. Gotta show each other our pictures and catch up ~ we sat outside near the sea for lunch as often as humanly possible.  We have always loved to do this.  We are girls who lunch.

Me, Mom and Shell

And we bring our Mom . . . so it’s me, my mom, Pat and then Shelly.

family

And here we are again, Mom and me, our Uncle Dick and Shell.

family love family

And here we are on Thanksgiving . . . that’s my brother Brad on the far left.  Joe was truly the photographer on this trip!

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Seal Beach is where we are . . . and this was where we walked . . .  

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It’s fun to watch the surfers.

Baby & Mom shore birds Seal Beach

And the birds ~ we loved these shore birds . . . so photogenic!  The one that’s sort of got his head down is a baby and he wants to be fed!

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Just so cute!

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And Decorative!

Old photos

There were lots of old family photos on display while we were there ~ there’s my dad’s twin sisters in the middle and on the right . . . that’s how Shelly got her twin boys!

Me with Blog Daddy and Jeanie

And here they are Girlfriends, Blog Daddy and his darling wife, Jeanie. I’m showing off his elfish ears . . . He couldn’t hide his leprechaunism even if he tried.

Jeanie's tea party

Jeanie invited their friends and we had a wonderful tea party.

Jeanie, Dad and Me

We also had Thanksgiving dinner.  

Mom and Grandma's roses

My mom has my Grandma’s rose bush in front of her house . . . we picked these two roses, one from my Grandma’s bush, one from my mom’s, and kept them on the dashboard of the car the whole time we were out there.  They dried like this; we carefully packed them, and now they’re on my kitchen shelf.

california

driving north on Highway One

Here we are driving north along the Pacific Ocean, almost to Santa Barbara, to my Studio on the Central Coast.  It’s one of my favorite things to see, it smells like Home to me.  Home in California.

California Studio

This is our Studio garden in California . . . things grow really well in this ancient river bed.

Studio garden

Joe and I were feeling very “Vita” when we planted this garden; it was after our first trip through the gardens in England and we were inspired!

The Long Walk

We even planted a “long walk” ~ something all the gardens have over there . . . it was exciting to see how big the hedges have gotten.

Kellee and Sasha

We also have Studio Kitties . . . this is Kellee with fluffy sweet Sasha . . .

Kellee with Sammy

And here she is with Sammy . . . I don’t like to play favorites, I love Sasha but that freckle on Sammy’s face stole my heart. I wob him.

Sheri with Sammy

They dressed them up for Christmas and they LOVED it . . . this is Sheri trying not to be cut to ribbons by Sammy’s claws. His ears look like horns, but trust me, this is a HEAVEN kitty.  Perfect nap material. Just don’t make him wear a hat and beard!

heading home

And then, the clock ticks forward and off we go again, homeward bound . . .

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HOME SWEET HOME

And a deep breath, across country with Christmas lights beginning to show in the dark, we made it!

GirlAnd I couldn’t wrestle a camera and do hugging and kissing at the same time, but they were so happy to see us, and vice versa!!! 

Decorating the top of the stove

We sprang into decorating mode, it was almost Christmas!

Jack helps

Jackie helped out with every bit of it!

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Cookie gifts

He especially helped by sleeping through it while I made the cookies, my Coconut Macaroons and my grandmother’s Frosted Molasses Cookies!

Christmas Eve at Lowely's

MUSICA  On Christmas Eve we went to Lowely and John’s, our best friends just two doors over . . . she is into magic also!  And the best cook in the world!

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New Year's Eve in front of the fire

And then it was my turn for New Year’s Eve in front of the fire . . .

Delicious dinner

We made a delicious dinner; everyone brought something . . . that’s Lowely in the sparkly sweater . . .

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We just wanted a cozy evening so we could eat, drink (Joe made delicious Brandy Alexander’s!) and talk about our dreams for 2015. And then suddenly, it was here . . .

watercolor flowers

Neglect not the gift that is in thee

We were there!  And began right away, taking my own advice trying not to neglect the gift . . .

painting away

I started painting for next year’s calendar.  (That would be 2016!)  

Best wishes

And I was inspired by the time of year . . . and sending best wishes to you and yours.

Jack in my arms

Jack allows only so much of me not paying attention to him, then he gets tired of it and starts trying to knock over my paint water or something until I stop and gather him up — this is me trying to take a photo of him in my arms, and this is the best I could do without waking Joe up to do it for me!

Merry In The Winter

Full Circle

And now, we are full circle, it’s winter . . . no snow here yet but VERY cold out on our walk . . . this is yesterday and it was 30 degrees; this is the “bundled-up” look.

the all-cookie diet

Under these clothes I look like this. Two Thanksgiving dinners didn’t help, but there’s much more blame to go around . . . we’ll talk about that later . . . 🙂 OR, let’s not and say we did.

Kay & Cheryl at Highclere

I still get wonderful photos from our Girlfriends who take A FINE ROMANCE with them to the MOST interesting places, then they take pictures and send them to me.  This is Kay Bennett and her daughter Cheryl at Highclere Castle in England!  Lucky lucky them! What a wonderful memory for the two of them. And I love our book being there . . . right there on the lawn of Highclere!  

Downton Abbey Highclere Castle Series

Which reminds me to remind you . . . Downton Abbey starts January 4th!  Oh goodie!  It’s going to be exciting. I can hardly think of a better thing to do in January!  Our girl Maggie Smith, just turned 80 this week, hooray!  See, you’re never too young or too old to dream a new dream, there is so MUCH to look forward to!  Just

HappyNewYear

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377 Responses to BEGIN AGAIN ~ Happy New Year!

  1. Lin says:

    What a lovely look back at 2014, Susan, I enjoyed every bit of it! Happy New Year! Looking forward to what’s in store for all of us!

  2. Harriett says:

    What a sweet beginning to a new year. Out with the old, in with the old. Your treasured images have become mine as well. I love the snow outside the kitchen windows, the birds, the blooms. . .it’s my favorite room. Where’s the red chair? By the door over there? I spy the stove, the little Christmas house. I meet your California family, I renew with Joe, may 2015 be everything you (and I) wish for. I’m going now to sit by my fire: ring out the old, rejoice anew!

  3. Patty from Ohio says:

    God Bless you Sue what a wealth of memories! Thank you for sharing your year with us. You are truly blessed with your life; love flows from you. I am ogling my seed catalogs, I want to plant them all, “Crocuses an’ snowdrops an’ daffydowndillys”, The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett.
    Patty xox

    • sbranch says:

      I loved putting the flowers in the post even though this is not their time, but they are so beautiful! It’s good to find a reason to include them!

  4. Marla says:

    Susan, such a beautiful post! We enjoy so many of the same things.
    I’m looking forward to the new season of Downton Abbey too. Did you happen to see the The Great British Baking Show last weekend on PBS? Besides all the baking, I loved the garden setting outside….along with the adorable lambs. The judges were very polite and well mannered…it was quite refreshing to watch. 🙂
    Happy New Year everyone!

    • sbranch says:

      I didn’t see it! How can that be? 🙂

      • Maureen MacKenzie says:

        That is a really good show. I don’t usually watch cooking shows, but we caught it while visiting family in Scotland last summer. They watch it all the time and I have to say I really enjoyed it….such creative people. Thanks for letting us know it’s on in the U.S. xox

      • Judy Young says:

        It has been on for the past two Sundays and I have really enjoyed watching it, so refreshing to see the “natural” English home cooks after watching show after show on Food Network. One thing was very apparent though, British teeth are bad!!

    • Tawni urrutia says:

      My husband and I watched it, and you are exactly right Maria! The gardens and the bleating lambs were so fantastic. How about that lady with her little cake guillotine!? Brilliant!!

      • Jamie from Virginia says:

        Yes, I watched too! Just happened upon it. It was a lovely show in a beautiful setting, far lovelier than a kitchen and gave some fabulous ideas. I had never seen a little guillotine like that but it was brilliant wasn’t it? Looking forward to the next episode to see what they get to bake.
        ~Jamie

      • mary spring says:

        …I also watched both shows (while waiting for Downton Abbey)…I really enjoyed it as well; however, I got very sleepy, as I am an early to bed person, and fell asleep before Downton !!…oh, dear !!…one might say, how can that be ?!??

      • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

        The show is delightful! Thanks Maria for the tip! Looking forward to the rest of the episodes. I can’t get over the little girl who is 17, what an accomplished baker she is.

  5. Janet in Rochester says:

    Wonderful recap of a very full year! With that title, I thought you were going to choose Tony Bennett’s “I’ll Begin Again” from the movie “Scrooge” [the one with Albert Finney] as the musica. If you’ve never heard it, check it on YouTube – it’s amazing. You must have had so much fun putting this post together. It was great to revisit the places and people you shared with us all on the blog. I must have completely missed it the first time – that you were able to find the grave of your Pilgrim ancestor Elizabeth in Salem. That is beyond incredible! Maybe you’ll do a post about it someday, a little about what you’ve learned. So many generations – there must be some good stories there. So glad to see your Mom & Dad looking – and doing – so well too. You certainly have good genes on both sides – very lucky. Chilly and snowy here but already melting – and we’re expecting 50 degrees tomorrow which is completely OK with me. The cold I can cope with but the older I get, the more I dislike the snow. Of course if it would only stay off the roads [and my car] there’d be no problems – LOL! Have a great weekend!

  6. Sharon Maier says:

    What a wonderful recap of your year…loved all of it, but as always, Jack is the star! As an avid cat lover, I do hope you will continue to keep him in the house…so many tragedies happen with loved pets roaming, and I say that as a “keeper” of two roamers who will never be indoors. It’s a tough decision, and one that has to be made depending on the animal and the circumstances. Jack is without question the most photogenic of all your shared animals, and he needs to be kept inside. I am partial to the shots showing him looking out the window…he’s such a sweetheart! Happy 2015 to y’all…
    Sharon in Texas

    • sbranch says:

      Jack’s my first indoor cat, it’s working out pretty well. Of course I play with him at least three times a day . . . so he gets to run and jump and chase things around. He is a sweetheart, I’m madly in love with him.

  7. Donna Hrehor says:

    Thanks for the fabulous recap of 2014 Susan!!! Looking forward to the blessings God showers us with in 2015!!! Hugs! Donna (Idaho)

  8. Karen E says:

    Hi Susan, I’m waving from central California and saying happy new year! I was wondering if you’ll be posting the Full Moon 2015 bookmark this year. I always share it with my class. My 3rd graders get so excited of knowing when the next full moon date is and its corresponding name. Thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s all ready, I’m putting it in the next blog post! Love that your 3rd graders enjoy it!

      • Maureen MacKenzie says:

        I was going to ask that same question. 🙂 I love my full moon bookmark and so do my 2nd graders! Thanks so much for thinking of us. xox

  9. Vicki says:

    What a wonderful post from you at the start of the new year! I so enjoyed it. Your posts are always a treat; a little gift! Now I know what Blog Daddy looks like! It was cool to see your family; thank you for sharing them with us. It’s remarkable how much you look like your sister. I’d always dreamed of a baby sister. I think it was really great that you took a good, long trip to see so much of your family. It must be a tug-‘o-war to be on the opposite coast…missing California and some of your relatives so much…yet equally loving your own life and home on the island as well.

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is The Studio in Santa Barbara? It certainly does seem like a good halfway point between Seal Beach and Five Cities. Was it ever your real home? I’m not quite understanding. What is its purpose now? Is this where you have employees doing press and other business, or running your online store?

    I lived in Santa Barbara for a good long while and I know the area very well. I loved living there as a single adult in earlier years; SUCH a fun place to be (I lived in Carp as a baby). There was just never a bad time or a bad view in SB. If you drove up to the ABC-TV station on ‘TV Hill’ above the Mesa (Miramonte, off Cliff Drive), it was 360 degrees of awesomeness and I never tired of seeing the boats down on the water for Wet Wednesdays! Like little white flags in a blue sky as seen from up high. SB of course is a resort town…can be pricey to live in if you’re young and poor(!)…so I’d get creative about how to enjoy myself. I knew how to sail a little bit and loved it so much, and you could actually go down to the marina and spontaneously hop on a boat, like a Friday summer evening after work, and help crew just for the free sunset cruise (for some reason…me, a non-sports person….I was adept at tacking). More adventurous than I am now, I’d go to the harbor with a gal-pal, so we were always add-on crew as a pair, but we didn’t know any of the (mostly) guys on the boats (which makes my husband shudder) and it wasn’t like I left an itinerary behind with someone I knew. I’m much more cautious with situations I put myself into these days; however, it was nearly 30 years ago, and youth can be (should be) so fearless!

    But, yes, The Studio? It looks absolutely beautiful.

    • sbranch says:

      We were heading up the coast to Arroyo Grande, where the Studio is, but driving through Santa Barbara to get there. Sounds like you had a wonderful time living there! It’s a beautiful part of the country.

      • Vicki says:

        And you hit some beautiful weather. Before we got rainy and colder. Okay, now I understand where the photos of The Studio were taken; so much of the beautiful coast thankfully all looks much the same. I love driving PCH to/through Malibu from north to south but #1 up the coast to San Simeon has to be the fave. I’ll take it over Big Sur any day.

        But The Studio…is it where you at one time lived and painted? I’m sorry I don’t know the answers to these questions but I’m relatively new to your blog. Am I being a pain to keep asking? Just want to know everything here!

        • sbranch says:

          One, just past Morro Bay, going up to Cambria is so gorgeous . . . coming back down too! Puts a song in my heart! Yes we lived there for a while, I had a store in California for three years . . . we switched things around, lived in CA mostly, spent a couple months each year on Martha’s Vineyard. But we missed the seasons, after a while it got to be unbearable, so we switched back, we live on the Island, and spend a few weeks in CA most years.

          • Vicki says:

            Oh, it’s so great you had options and could go where your heart was leading you. Now you have best of both coast worlds. Thanks for explaining.

          • sbranch says:

            I’m lucky because I can take my work with me no matter where I go. My Grandma passed away just before 9-11 and then there was 9-11, and suddenly, I had an urge to live closer to where I grew up and where my mom lives — so I did that for a while, until I think I healed up a bit from all that.

  10. Frances Fowler says:

    I so enjoyed seeing your condensed year and thinking, “Gee, but I just saw the pictures of the snow drops a few weeks ago!” Where did the time go? All of your posts always reflect such a sense of wonder and love of things that are dear to you. Just hung my new wall calendar, and placed January from 2014 in y laundry room because I love the message 🙂 Blessings for a wonderful 2015 — and a new season of Downton!

  11. Peggy Cooper, Pueblo, CO says:

    2014 was a very good year, and I’m sure 2015 will be even better! I’m always very optimistic about the coming year. I’ve given up making resolutions, and just plan on living a good life and being happy, which seems to be the way you roll :o) Well actually, I do have one resolution. To try more new recipes instead of always making the same things. I think fear of failure stops me sometimes, but hey, it’s only food, and even though I’ve had disappointments, I’ve never made anything inedible. Wish you and Joe and the kitties and all the girlfriends the very best.

    • sbranch says:

      Find a cookbook you trust and just work your way through it — I agree, eating new things makes life more interesting . . . not every night, but every so often, something to look forward to!

  12. Kristi says:

    Happy New Year, Susan, Joe, Girl Kitty and, of course, Jack! Thank you for the recap of your year. I was right along side you all year and enjoyed your posts. I have to tell you that your book, A Fine Romance, inspired three friends (grade school buds) and me (we are leaving our husbands at home) to plan a trip to England for this September! We can’t stay for two months but we are planning on a two week vacation with one week in London and one week exploring the rest of England, including a short stay in Edinburgh. I must remember to take your book with me. Thanks so much for your inspiration to see new places.

  13. Lacy says:

    If every there was a blog to read it would be yours sweet Susan.
    Cannot wait to see what’s in store for 2015.
    All the best to you, Joe & the kitty’s!
    Happy New Year!

  14. Melissa says:

    A wonderful treat to see you name pop up on my blog list today! It took me almost 30 minutes to read this…I savored every picture and every word. Thank you for sharing.

    • sbranch says:

      Long . . . but how do you do a year in five minutes! Need one of those time lapse speed cameras!

  15. Brenda Caldwell says:

    I deliberately took an hour to read this blog, just so I could savor every word and picture! Thank you for transporting me to so many wonders of all the seasons! It was so well worth the wait…

  16. Lynn Marie says:

    Squealing with delight that you are back! So glad you had a “jolly good” rest and escape to the sunny West Coast and your family. Oh My….those beautiful faces of your twin nephews. It won’t be too many years until the girls will be clamoring after them. Good Luck and Prayers to Mom Shelley as she begins that chapter in their lives. ☺ My calendar is up and I am looking forward to all that 2015 has to bring. Blessings to you!

    • sbranch says:

      Shell and talk about those “prayers” for her all the time. Fingers are crossed, lucky amulets are on hand, wishes have been made on first stars; the boys are very smart, good in school, popular, and very artistic. Please God let it all stay just like that! Thank you Lynn Marie!

  17. shirley burt says:

    Happy New Year right back. Thank you for the amazing trip down memory lane, just I know it was your memory lane, but you did share as it was happening. I will be seeing the first new episode of Downton as a rerun. Yes, a rerun. All of you will be so envious. PBS held a special Downton event at a redone theatre where in the late 60’s my husband and I would have dates. I regress. We were not sure of what it was going to be—my son saw it posted and sent us a link. My husband ordered two FREE tickets. The first half was a review of the previous years, then an intermission and afterwards a surprise. Yes, yes, it was the new episode shown on a movie theatre screen. My friend, Drinda, could not believe it. We squealed and were not the only ones. Those that left early, well how very sad for them. Then as we left, they passed out posters and disposable cups with tea bag included.
    Okay, I am sorry, but I had to share.
    Much love and bunny hugs,
    Shirley

    • sbranch says:

      LOL “well, how very sad for them. . .” hahaha! How fun! Don’t you love serendipity like that?!

  18. Brenda says:

    Happy New Year, Susan. I look forward to another year of your great blog entries.

  19. salve says:

    Love it Love it Love it – Love everything in this BLOG!!! Happy Blessed and Prosperous New Year to you and all of us!!! LOL, salve

  20. Cathy Solomons says:

    Thanks for the year in review. I so enjoyed getting your blog in my email this past year. Here’s to many more in 2015!

    Thanks again!
    Cathy

  21. Patti from California says:

    Happy New Year, Susan!

    All I could think of looking at the recap of your year is – what a wonderful life! Your beautiful home, the distinct and beautiful changing of the seasons (which, as you know, are less distinct here in California!), and the flora and fauna (wild turkeys!), make me a little green with envy. It’s so clear that you know and count your blessings, so I’ll happily enjoy those things along with you on your blog, and my Susan Branch blotter on my desk at work! Blessings to you and your family in the new year.

  22. Judy in Ohio says:

    What a wonderful time, dear Susan, to be able to sit (on this very WET evening) and read your recounting of 2014…(in a way only YOU can do) …and see your beautiful photos and illustrations to further give us the reality that we are all truly very blessed, indeed!

    I know that you will not remember, but nearly a year ago for my birthday (January 25th) a dear friend of mine gave to me as a gift my very FIRST Susan Branch calendar…and I have enjoyed it immensely through the entire year!!
    It is very inspiring…and just plain makes me smile…Whenever I am in my own office/painting/writing/EVERYTHING room !! So…2014 was my very first
    “Friends with Susan Branch Year”…and for this year, I have gotten myself your calendar, so as not to have to wait until the 25th!! 🙂
    I love, love, LOVE it…and you for sharing it with us.

    I count you as a H U G E blessing in my life…as well as all of the other girlfriends here!

    Here’s to a beyond wonderful year to you and your peeps (both furry and not)…and ALL of us.

    Thank you again and again and again!! 😀

    <3

  23. Joann says:

    Oh my goodness…I just savored every morsel of this post Susan….what a delicious account of a voluptuous year!! I love Joe throwing a shovel of snow at the window….you pulling (gently) at your Dad’s ears….and hugging your mom…. what a year! What a year it has been!!! I still need to tell you all about it….because YOU are a huge part of it!!

    Happy New Year………….Love and Blessings, Joann xoxo

  24. Carol from CT says:

    Watch on-line (I hope)…The Great British Baking Show: video.pbs.org/program/great-british-baking-show/.
    Bonne Annee! You have such a gift for reflection. It was so nice to meet your parents! I am very envious of your jaunt to Nantucket. I have such sweet memories made on that island. Thanks for the pics of the gardens and flowers. I can’t wait to smell like dirt again! Love, Carol … tra la !
    P.S. In my search for new storage space I found this goodie: improvementscatalog.com/cabidor-26-23153-3b-behind-door-storage/kitchen/kitchen-storage-kitchen-organizers/276409?isCrossSell=true&strategy=127

  25. Mamey Brown says:

    You are back!! Yay!!! Happy New Year! On New Years day, I got out all of my Susan Branch calendars and I spent the day in my favorite spot on the couch filling out each calendar with important days, etc. My entire couch was full of pretty pens and stickers to add my special touch to the most beautiful calendars I’ve ever owned. It was such a peaceful day, enjoying your amazing talent in your art. It was the perfect way to spend the first day of a promising year!! Thank you Susan, for such an uplifting blog and bringing a smile to my face every time I see one of your watercolors.
    Yes, I too am sooooooo looking forward to Downton Abbey tomorrow night!! By any chance have you watched the series Land Girls??

    • sbranch says:

      Yes I have . . . it’s a good one! Clock ticked forward and now Downton Abbey is tonight! Oh Boy!

  26. Ellie Gilroy says:

    Susan, As usual today’s blog was awesome! Loved savoring 2014 review through your eyes and art!! Wishing you and family a spectacular 2015. Just a little snow falling north of Boston now puts a sparkle on everything!! Happy New Year****One and All…..

    • sbranch says:

      We had a little snow just before dark last night, just enough to get us to the windows to watch it fall. But this morning it’s all rained away. I’m sure there’s more where that came from.

  27. Gina P. from NY says:

    Hi Susan!

    Happy New Year to you, Joe and the kitties! We had some snow here this afternoon/evening! Haven’t had snow since Thanksgiving, and since it was the weekend, it was nice to be able to watch it come down and not have to travel. It was a thick snow that covered the branches and made it look like a winter wonderland outdoors… I loved it – even though I do hope we don’t get quite as much snow as the beginning of 2014!

    Your post of the year 2014 was wonderful. I kept looking at your pictures and thinking that it seemed like the other day that we saw your Spring flowers, summer walks down “the road”, and the views from the train on your way to the west coast! Thanks for sharing those lovely photos of your family – how nice! I also enjoyed seeing and hearing of your adventures in California. I have never seen the west coast, so I enjoyed seeing the sites as an armchair traveler.

    P.S. I know what you mean about the Oreo in the bikini! Hysterical! I can relate! Time to get back to the routine of eating lighter and less and exercising more!

  28. What a wonderful review of 2014. I’ve hung my Susan Branch 2015 calender and so very thrilled to see there will be one for 2016 too. Thank you!

    Lots of love to your both, and the kitties too

    Leanne in Sunny hot summer down under in New Zealand.

    • sbranch says:

      Sunny hot summer, I’m thinking of you Leanne!! Happy New Year to beautiful New Zealand and beautiful you!

  29. Denise :) says:

    What a fun-filled post . . . and what an incredible year 2014 was! That was a fun look back and now looking forward to all that 2015 holds for us! Happy New Year!! 🙂

  30. nellie says:

    How much fun this was to review the year with you! There were several pictures I hadn’t seen!

    Neat that Blog Daddy had twin siblings! There had been two sets in our family 65 years before ours were born – 40 years ago! Yes, we just had a memorable birthday party for them on December 23!

    Love the anticipation of a new year – all the days are there before us for filling with choices that are useful, helpful, and constructive!

    What a precious little Oreo! I think many of us are having similar feelings at about this point.:-) Man! Those Christmas cookies are really tasty!

    I send along wishes for good health and happiness to you and Joe for 2015! Happy New Year!

    xo Nellie

    • sbranch says:

      I’m hurrying as fast as I can to eat the last cookie so I’ll be free of the responsibility! 🙂

  31. Sarah says:

    Okay, your dad really IS an elf, and those boys are most DEFINITELY beautiful. 🙂

    That picture of Highclere Castle reminds me, my daughter and I have been binge watching the past four seasons of Downton Abbey so that we can know what all you girlfriends are talking about when the new season starts tomorrow. I missed the Downton train when it first took off, but I’m almost up to speed now. 🙂

  32. Dot from Illinois says:

    Happy New Year Susan. What a wonderful blog in review of the past year. I love your west coast kitties as both are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your family with us as your Mom and Dad both look wonderful. Best wishes for good health and happiness to all in this new year 2015.

  33. Rosemary says:

    Susan, now that we are into 2015 I am sooooo looking forward to your new book about your first home on Martha’s Vineyard. Can you give us some sneak peeks about it? Just a taste or two to get us going. I’m very excited about this one.

  34. Jennifer says:

    What a wonderful treat! I love your “2014 year-in-review!” It was nice to see photos of some of your family. You and Shelley look so much alike. And I agree with you, Paden and Mason are beautiful! Those freckles! 🙂
    Happy New Year and many blessings to you and Joe, Jack and Girl, and your whole family!

  35. LINDA JUNE says:

    Thanks for a wonderful walk down your 2014 memory lane. Really enjoyed it!

  36. Jude says:

    Susan,
    I adore your posts. I just moved into a new/not really/but new to me house on New Year Day and I’m laying exhausted on my bed reading your wonderful assessment of the year. You are such an inspiration and joy! Best wishes for the New Year.
    Jude

    • sbranch says:

      Just think, by this time next year, you will be all settled and thinking about spring cleaning! 🙂 Happy new house!

  37. Gert~Iowa says:

    Susan, loved the look back on 2014! You had a wonderful and busy year! And I thank you for taking us along! Memories….sweet memories! Looking forward to a new year and what it brings!

  38. Sharrieboberry says:

    I love the picture of you and your sister looking at your phones. Your faces are at the same angle and the glasses on your faces are at the same angle too! You can tell you two lovely girls are related! Adorable!

  39. Debby Suovanen says:

    Oh, I enjoyed reading this blog entry so much. And your photos were so nice. It made me want to visit New England – to walk the shores, to visit the shops, to taste the food and to meet the people. You have such an inviting way about your descriptions and dialogue. I feel like I’m right there with you. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Oh, and the quotes in the book – those are from the Bible! The one about foolishness is from Proverbs 22:15.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s all in the reading, I think maybe I should read the “rod of correction” as the “voice of reason” and then it won’t be so scary! 🙂 You’d love New England, so much history here, it’s everywhere!

  40. Lori from Maine says:

    Happy New Year Susan (and girlfriends)!! I enjoyed looking back over the year. The Spring and Summer pictures make me think about digging in the garden and getting dirt under my fingernails! As I write this, I’m watching the snow coming down like crazy. It’s so pretty though. I was wondering if you’re going to do a full moon bookmark this year. I enjoy it so much. Thank you again for all the beautiful pictures of this past year!!
    xoxo Lori from MDI Maine

  41. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    Happy New Year Susan!! Loved reading through your year, what beautiful photos you take. Can’t wait to see what exciting places you will take us this year. I can’t wait for your new book to come out also.
    Enjoy every moment, I know you will!!

  42. mary spring says:

    …oh, my stars !!..’must say how very fortunate we all are to have you in our lives!!…what a lovingly, heartfelt tribute to, well, Life !!…thank you for sharing so much with us all…’love all the photos,’love the quote by one of my favorite artists, Michelangelo,’love the photos of your dear family and friends…’hope you and your loved ones have a blessed and joyful New Year !!..with love, as always…..

  43. Elisabeth Olijnsma says:

    Hi Susan, a very happy New Year to you, Joe and the kitties! Your blogs always make me smile. They are so full of life and happiness! I know you’re a Beatrix Potter lover, and when I look at your garden with the wild turkeys and the bunny… you are a bit like her! Still no sign of winter here in the Netherlands so far. Would be a shame if we missed it here again completely, like last year… but it can’t be helped. Would be nice if we got some snow at least! Wishing you another lovely year you can look back to with a smile on your face. Make it count! Love from across the pond, Elske

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Elske . . . I thought there was practically always snow in the Netherlands! Isn’t that funny, how little I know! Maybe you’re like us, some years yes and some, no. But here’s to wishing and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  44. Susie Rodgers says:

    Thank you (((Susan))), so very much 🙂

  45. Jamie from Virginia says:

    Happy New Year! What a lovely recap post of the past year, a year in pictures, lovely idea. It doesn’t seem possible that a whole year has gone, and the older I get the faster they go! I’ve put up your calendar to accompany me through 2015, I think it is your best so far! Lots to look forward to in the coming year. And first off? Downton Abbey tonight!!! 🙂 Just can’t wait. Happy New Year and many blessings.

    ~ Jamie

  46. Paula B. says:

    This may be your best post ever. I was enchanted as the glories of each season were displayed. I love spring on the island, and, of course, summer. Then, there was the splendor of fall…. But winter, I am, I fear, not enamored any longer with the “delights” of such a season in New England, caught up in snow and freezing temps. This northern girl longs to see green grass and growing things, year round. I was, however, inspired by many of the quotes you used, copying some in my little journal. Here’s hoping that as I approach sixty one years that I continue to work on the gift that is in me. Thank you, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      My best friend lives in California, and there is no way in the world she would come here in the winter! Some of us just belong where the sun shines all the time and she is one of them! Happy gifting in 2015, Paula! xoxo

  47. Sweet Pea says:

    Another lovely post…thank you! Was so nice to walk through it all with you again.
    My best for 2015

  48. Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

    Happy New Year! Wow, what a beautiful and wonderful year in review! I absolutely love your posts and look forward to sitting down with a cup of tea and enjoying all the uplifting and gorgeous pictures and words that come with each of them. I can’t believe I’m brining this up, especially because I know how busy you are with your new book, 2016 calendars, and your everyday life projects, but, I so LOVE having your “Full Moons” bookmark posted on my bulletin board that I already miss it for 2015. Just wondering… never mind, I can’t even ask. Thank you for all you do Susan and I’m wishing you, Joe, Girl, and Jack a very happy, very healthy, very prosperous 2015! With love and joy always.

    • sbranch says:

      No problem, I knew where you were going! 🙂 Happy 2015 Marie!

      • Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

        THANK YOU Susan for our 2015 “Full Moons” bookmark! You are just the best!!! Thank you again, too, for my beautiful desk blotter. I absolutely love having it back on my desk! ♥♥♥

  49. Andrea McVety says:

    Happy 2015! Was feeling a little down after a Magical Christmas spent with my son who serves in the Army and his girlfriend. My oldest son and wife were here with our first grandchild, Nora Catherine 10 months old. Seeing her face early Christmas morning crawling to her presents from Santa, well lets just say, it doesn’t get any better than that. Then off to Newport for New Years for 2 days in a cozy B & B. We sat by the fire by the Christmas tree toasting with Champagne, then off to a late dinner at a restaurant decked out with balloons dancing on the high ceiling and us dancing to Beetles tunes! So this morning the house is empty and quiet, sipping coffee with my new little rescue kitten Lincoln and the best big brother in the Cat world Hogan. Then I checked your Blog, wow what a beautiful year. Thank you for reminding me all to be thankful for. If every day was a holiday, we would never appreciate all the gifts we have. A new year of Peace, Joy, and Love to you!

  50. Sue says:

    Susan,

    It’s been a dreary. drizzly start to 2015 here in Texas, but the sun seems to have finally burst forth just as I pulled up your wonderful, sunny blog. (Coincidence…? I think not!) I loved the re-cap of 2014 and especially enoyed the photos of your handsome dad and his lovely wife, and of your sweet mom, sister, and brother. How grand to see them all.

    It’s hard to believe that Christmas is already a memory and that tomorrow morning a large number of us turn into “pumpkins” as we slog back to work. I think my two furballs will miss me, and I know I’ll miss them, but my waistline won’t miss the all-too-close proximity to the ‘fridge!

    Onward and upward — have a grand and glorious 2015!
    Sue

  51. Carolyn says:

    Enjoyed this blog so much! Just beautiful! Thank you! Happy, Happy New Year!!

  52. Sheila says:

    Happy New Year! Your blog is so good for my soul! Sometimes, when I am feeling stressed, I just scroll through to see your beautiful pictures and artwork and it makes me happy. Thank you! Give the kitties a kiss from me, please (if it’s not too hard).

  53. Robyn Brown says:

    Lovely recap of 2014. I feel that good things are in store for 2015. Bless all the girlfriends. Here’s to a wonderful year past and another one to come.

  54. Tawni urrutia says:

    Happy New Year Sweet Susan!
    What a glorious post to usher out the lovely past year, and welcome in the fresh with possibilities new year. I have to admit, I was really missing you! Hahaha! My Auntie Penny and I were talking about your magic and brilliance and how much we missed the blogs about your life. My husband interrupted to say…ehem, you DON’T know this poor woman! But that’s the magic…we just really feel like we do! You’ve added so much joy and fun and creative ideas to our lives and the lives of our families. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And while I’m thanking you, let me add to the list. Thank you for not having flashing adds interrupting the utter awesomeness of your blog!!! I had not been on any other blogs til your much deserved recess…the ads are so over the top distracting I couldn’t stand it!!! I realized that part of what makes this place so special is it’s just us…you and the girlfriends!
    Happy Sunday to you and Joe!
    ❌⭕❌⭕,
    Tawni Urrutia in Lodi, Ca

    • sbranch says:

      It would help to pay for the blog, that’s why people do it, I thought about it for a couple of years, people were asking, but I can’t do it. I’d rather not have a blog at all. They are so ugly and the whole entire purpose of a blog is to connect and make a little home away from home and those ads do the opposite of that. The world is busy enough everywhere. Hello to Aunt Penny! See? We DO know each other!

      • Tawni urrutia says:

        Well you solved it brilliantly by letting US support the blog! I loved it when you you put that option in the right column for us to contribute monthly at what ever we could…I think it says any where between a latte and a parking ticket…HILARIOUS! And it makes me feel like I do with NPR, I love it, use it, and am so happy to pay for it.

        • sbranch says:

          Oh Tawni, I saw that you’d done that, it was very generous of you! This was a Kellee and Sheri idea ~ they’re very proud of themselves for it!

  55. Marianne in Hidden Meadows, SoCal says:

    Happy New Year Susan and Girlfriends! I had the most wonderful surprise New Year’s gift EVER — SNOW at my house here in sunny SoCal in the hills above the Lawrence Welk resort — on New Year’s Eve day. An inch that stuck and covered everything in a blanket of white — seeing palm trees covered in snow was an impossibly beautiful sight! I took a thousand pictures of this once-in-a-lifetime event and feel like it’s a good omen for the coming year. I hope all of you had a magical New Year’s celebration, too, and that it carries on throughout 2015!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I remember it snowing just once in the San Fernando Valley years ago. All my brothers and sisters went crazy for it!

  56. CarolK says:

    Happy New Year ~ What a fab year in review. We managed to stay awake long enough to watch the crystal ball drop in Times Square and then it was lights out! We’re so looking forward to your trip to Scotland. I don’t think we’ll be doing much traveling this year, our Tigger has been one sick kitty since the day after Thanksgiving and needs lots of care and attention. So its up to you Kiddo to satisfy that traveling bug in us. We know you’ll do a good job. Jersey hugs to you, Joe and your fur-kids…….

    • sbranch says:

      We are rethinking Scotland. We have two choices . . . let me finish the book first, which won’t be done in time for us to go in April, or throw caution to the wind, say forget about it for now, and just go anyway. I’m more of the kind of person who wants to finish first. But we’ll have fun anyway.

      • CarolK says:

        Yes, the book. Everyone is looking forward to that one so much. You need to finish it first. Scotland has got to be another book with all those castles and kilts. Tie up loose strings before unraveling new ones. Now if only I could take my own advise. lol

  57. Teresa G., Lafayette, CA. says:

    Oh my! How do you do it?! The gratitude, the joy, the love, the talent that you give is something I admire so much! We can’t get enough of you, Susan! You are Queen of the Girlfriends! Can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on. I still have friends thanking me for “introducing” them to you. Little by little we will ignite the world with a joy for simple pleasures! Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • sbranch says:

      “Little by little we will ignite the world with a joy for simple pleasures” Love that Teresa! We’re in it together!

  58. Rhonda D. says:

    Happy New Year to you Susan, Joe and kitties. I settled in with a hot chocolate and enjoyed our past year with you…so delightful. A wonderful review of 2014. You have shared so much with us…your life, your heart, your lovely family, and your creativity, and I feel so very blessed. A great peace settles in around me to be a part of all this. You have really motivated me to do my own “family review” for this past year. I understand now what you mean when you say that creativity is “teeming all around,” you just have to be able to see it with the heart and the right set of eyes I guess. You’ve taught us what is important in life and I’m now too excited for words to put together my own family chronicles for each year. (There’s photos, letters, cards, papers, recipes and binders flying everywhere). I’ve even seen a big change in my culinary arts department. All I can say is a big thank you for inspiring me. Sending many blessings for the New Year to all the amazing Girlfriends. Looking forward to 2015. xx

    • sbranch says:

      You are a dear to say this Rhonda, it makes me so happy to hear it! Happy 2015 to you and yours! xoxo

  59. Happy New Year, Susan!
    Wishing you, Joe and the kitties warm fires on snowy evenings, gentle breezes come spring, fireflies on warm summer nights and crunchy leaves underfoot in autumn.
    So enjoyed meeting you in Newburyport in September (one of my 2014 highlights) and looking forward to following your busy, artful life in 2015.
    My SB calendars are being put to good use already with dates filling up with fun things to do.
    Enjoy the wonders of winter and thanks again, as always, for inspiring us and sharing so much of yourself with your Girlfriends ’round the globe.
    Nancye T., Wells, Maine

  60. Jan Lane says:

    Susan, I love reading your posts. They are so full of interesting ideas, beautiful pictures, and everything I enjoy…………..the intense beauty of Nature at Her best, love of home and hearth, delicious recipes……it all spells out Live and Enjoy……….savour Life and simple things of beauty and love. Have a wonderful 2015!

  61. Nancy Fenemore says:

    Thanks for the lovely look back!!!!!!!! I am rushing to get dinner over with so I can settle down for the new “Downton Abbey” Season 5 to start……….putting up the “Do not Disturb” sign. I also saw the Great British Baking Show…..but no fear, it continues for a few weeks until they declare an overall winner, so more gardens and lambs and wonderful baking to watch!! Happy New Year!!!!
    Nancy

    • sbranch says:

      We’re getting two episodes of the Great British Baking Show before Downton Abbey starts tonight, so this is going to be a good one!

  62. Marie C in AZ says:

    Happy New Year, Susan!!! May all your hopes and dreams for 2015 come true in the most lovely way!!! Thank you for all your wonderful posts.

    ~Marie in AZ

  63. Elaine Wallach says:

    Happy New Year Sue & Joe!
    I really enjoyed reading your post and reviewing 2014! You were busy! I wish you all (Kitties too) a Happy Healthy and Peaceful trip around the sun for 2015! Luv, Elaine W.

  64. Christine says:

    Wonderful post Susan. Thank you for your ” year in review.”. So nice to see these things again (and some new pictures added also). Helps to jog the memory. Especially loved the picture of all your Beatrix Potter characters lined up on the windowsill with the snow coming down full force! Happy New year and Happy Downton Day!

  65. Patty in Michigan says:

    Really enjoyed looking back. What a great year it was for you and Joe and all of us who came along too! Looking forward to the year ahead and joining you! Thank you for allowing all of us to tag along….. it’s such a treat!

  66. Judy Tracy says:

    Well it is January 4th and we are looking forward to Downron Abbey in a few hours. But what a lovely review of 2014 and I so appreciated your loving thoughts. I love the way you appreciate both your mother and father even though they have parted ways earlier in their lives. You set a high standard for the rest of us in the way you treat the world and the people in it. Thank you so much. Happy New Year to you and Joe. God bless you and keep you going for the rest of us:>)
    Lovingly, Judy Tracy

  67. barbara lassiter says:

    Oh, Susan…thanks for the wonderful “look-see” back over 2014. I enjoyed the journey because it’s just like reading one of your books. This blog is special to all of us and most appreciated! Happy winter.

  68. Andrea D. says:

    Thank you so much, Susan! What a great look back and what a great year! Happy New Year, Girlfriends! Here is to finding love, peace, and hope in each other and also in ourselves. Lots of hugs to you all! Xxxoxoox A-

  69. Darlene says:

    Happy New year Susan! Loved that you saved the roses <3

  70. Carla says:

    Happy New Year Susan! What a fun post! Such a busy year you had….fun filled. I too feel like that cream filled cookie, time to get back to my disciplined eating. It is freezing cold here in Michigan, stay cozy and warm there on MV!

  71. Carrie in Medina says:

    What a wonderful 2014 recap! Loved every amazing photo (Thank you Joe!) and shared thought! Wishing you all a happy, healthy 2015!

  72. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Happy New Year, Susan!! Love the year in review with your photos too. Pictures say it all, don’t they? We spent New Year’s in Iceland and it was like a magical paradise with snow and very short days. The whole place was full of twinkle lights so the world up there just goes on with life while the sun sleeps in. I love the energy of a new year and all of the possibilities that await. It just makes me feel excited and creative. I think there is some left over magic from the Christmas tree and delicious christmas cookies that helps me reach forward for a new year!

  73. Carol in Indy says:

    Good morning! How lovely to have Downton Abbey back in our lives. Joy joy joy! (But I do still miss dear Sybil). And thank you for the wonderful review of 2014. It was so special. I wish I could bind it into a book, as I wish for all of your blogs. They are so uplifting and add such joy to our days. I was especially pleased to see the snippet from Nancy Bird Turner’s poem “A little house”. I have often wished that you would put it with your dear little thatched cottage and print it like you did the print of Count Your Blessings.
    Just a thought :-).
    Happy New Year and thank you for all you do to remind us to enjoy the simple things.
    Carol

    • sbranch says:

      I should do that Carol, I just need more hours in the day, because I have so many things I’d love to make/do.

  74. Kedra says:

    Your blog posts just don’t come fast enough! I check each morning because, along with reader comments, they restore faith , after all the “news of the world” that there is still natural beauty, joy of home and good people appreciating their life, their home, and our world. Thank you!

  75. charissa Stover says:

    I saw this post yesterday, but I waited to read it in the dark this morning, alone with my tea and strawberry shortcake(actual, not the cartoon:)) oatmeal and enjoy it! At the beginning of 2015, I’d like to thank you for a wonderful 2014. You will never know how you lifted me from the depths with your book and blogs and little notes back (I’m the one whose darling hubby curses your Joe for being so handy and great:)) You truly have helped me this year. And thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but it will have to do. THANK YOU from the very bottom of my heart for adding so much to my life, reminding me to be happy and dream and for letting me know that there are people out there that are just like me. Love to all you love, Charissa

  76. Maria in Long Beach, Ca says:

    Thank you for all the wonderful memories as well as inspiration for 2015. It was fun to see you and your sister “lunching” by the sea. I know that restaurant well…it’s wonderful!

  77. Debbie says:

    Happy New Year! I’ve read your books and blog and Willard for years and somehow never saw the picture of Elizabeth Howe’s gravestone. I’m pretty excited to see it. We are direct descendants and I didn’t discover (in all of the volumious family history papers that have been passed down) that she was involved in these witch hunts. So sad. As you say, she sounds like a compassionate and sweet wife and mother. I have some information about the “charges” against her in the family paperwork but they seem so silly as they all were back then. Thanks for posting this picture though – I didn’t know where she was buried exactly. And how special that somehow, someway we are related. An honor 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I feel the same, it’s an honor. You would love the memorial they have in Salem, to honor all the people that were charged and hung for these “crimes.” It couldn’t be more elegant.

  78. Donna Miller says:

    I am reading Mayflower right now after a visit to Plymouth this spring!

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t it wonderful? I always thought they came into an empty harbor and were all alone for a long long time; but no . . . it had been bustling around here for a hundred years already when the Mayflower arrived!

  79. Margot ~~~ Virginia Beach says:

    Where did you get the red and white towel with a lighthouse/rocks and a boat, that is hanging on your oven handle???

  80. Hugh says:

    Happy New Year Susan ! So nice to see your year in review. It was an exciting one!
    Just ordered your 2015 calendar from Amazon this morning….5 left now! 🙂
    I held out until after Christmas just in case Santa had an extra in his bag but he must have run out before he hit my chimney! They are so very popular!
    I wish you and Joe a very happy, prosperous and rewarding 2015!
    Keep those healthy menu suggestions rolling in! To slightly alter the great words of Robert Frost……”I have 10,000 steps a day to walk and pounds to lose before I sleep!”

  81. Sara says:

    It was a wonderful year, Susan, and thank you so much for taking us along with you–and then reminding us all over again how jam-packed it was with happy pictures, sweet sayings, and whimsical brush strokes that make us smile all over again! You have inspired me, Susan, to document my year for those I love who call me Mom, Nanny and Sara. I am SO blessed!

    Thank you for sharing your life with us, Susan. Here’s a little poem I penned as I thought about the upcoming year and friends like you. 🙂

    It’s those we share the journey with
    who make it worth our time,
    the ones who dwell within our hearts
    and occupy our mind,
    the kin we visit through the year
    in memories sublime,
    the friends who always lift us up
    with words so good and kind.
    Beautiful ribbons of love they bring,
    into our storyline,
    weaving their lives into our own,
    leaving our hearts entwined
    in the bond of kindred spirits
    forever suspended in time.

  82. Jack says:

    Wild Turkey! …..Do you have a recipe for Wild Turkey ? …… ’cause I have a bow and arrow

  83. Audrianne Hill says:

    You noted you were related to Katherine Howe who was accused of witchcraft by the leaders in Salem. Are you also acquainted with the author, Katherine Howe, who is also related to her? She wrote the Physick Books of Deliverance Dane about a young woman who is a descendent of a Salem witch and possesses magical skills hungrily sought after by a reputable scholar. It’s quite a good piece of historical fiction.

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t heard of her, but I just looked her up and I will follow through with her book — how interesting! Thank you Audrianne!

  84. Vivian Borgstrom says:

    A wonderful look back, Susan ! And, as a person who is not a “cat person”, I am in love with Jack !!!
    I have introduced you to my youngest daughter and is she hooked !! She called me last night raving about all the blog !!! Also a friend of mine silently envied my desk calendar so much…..I gave her one to start the New Year and she was ecstatic ! Really made me feel like I had done a great thing ! And of course it is all due to you !!! I tried to get up to see you in California this year, but didn’t get to make it ! So sad ! It has been a difficult year for me but I want to thank you so much for your “help”. What a blessing !!! God bless and keep you and yours for many, many years to come…..and don’t forget to re-live the little happenings….sometimes they are the best ! Can’t wait for your new book!!!!
    Many hugs….Vivian

    • sbranch says:

      I just love hearing this, thank you Vivian! I love all these wonderful normal little connections! Say hello to your daughter for me! I hope your 2015 will be much better than 2014 . . . I have a good idea to help with that, I didn’t used to be a cat person either, until I got a kitten and fell so madly in love I never looked back. They are so easy too . . . You can read more about Jack here ~ Love hearing from you!

  85. Janet in Rochester says:

    Have you got any snow on the Vineyard yet? Or just frigid temps? Is it true that the Cape and Islands are “relatively” warmer during the Winter, because of the Atlantic? My Boston-native college friend says if it’s zero in Boston, it could be as warm as 15-20 [give or take] on the Cape, Nantucket and the Vineyard.

    • sbranch says:

      There’s snow, just a dusting, but it’s here to stay unless we get some higher temps. Yes, it’s true, we’re warmer in the winter because we’re an island.

  86. Kathy says:

    LOVELY, JUST LOVELY

  87. Marissa says:

    Happy 2015, dear Susan! What a lovely year you had, I really enjoyed this little “postcard” of your adventures! Every time I read your blog I find something that links us — this time it was your mention of “mayflower,” which I’m reading/devouring right now! I wish I could travel back in time to just take a peek at those Puritans… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      ooooh, me too! Just feel it for a moment, smell it, taste it, walk into one of the first little abodes, sleep over night and then hightail it back to my heating system! 🙂

  88. Julie says:

    What kind of camera do you use Susan? The photos you took on Seal Beach of those birds came out so clear. The birds are sharp and the background is a little blurry which is perfect. Just curious… Love all your pictures.

    Thank you!

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