In the Good Old Summertime

Another beautiful day in Paradise and lots to share in celebration of the good old Summertime!  And a drawing-winner too! Plus MUSICA

From the land of swaying flowers and fat bumblebees . . .

I bring you the glory of summer . . . starting with ripe tomatoes . . .

This was our first taste, one of our favorite days of every summer, the ripening, the picking, and the eating of the first tomato . . . we shared it, very simple, sourdough toast, mayonnaise, sweet, vine-ripened, still-warm-from-the-garden tomato, salt & pepper … heavenly! Summer joy.

Now this is the part of summer I could really live without. We get humidity sometimes (that’s not rain out there), and it’s so heavy and thick, you actually have to chew it before you can breathe it.

This is how I feel on those days. Hideously inelegant.

So, I turn on the air conditioner, and read in my chair with Jack, my kitty, next to me, while the sun flitters over me, and count my many blessings.

Because soon . . . these summer days will just be a memory . . . even on our walk, the leaves are starting to show the strain of having to hang around for much longer . . . 🍂

So we are intent on getting everything out of these summer days possible. This is my great-niece Maggie who came to visit … she’s nine ~ she would say hello, but she’s busy. We loved enjoying a little bit of summer through her eyes!

And my here’s grand-nephew Wyler… he’s 7 . . .

This is Eliza, who just turned 13 … Look how brave they are… jumping off this bridge is a right of passage in a Vineyard summer.  I don’t think I would do it, but they all did! Their parents too!

There goes Eliza!

Family came to visit! From New Hampshire, my niece Jess, her husband Cory, and their two girls …  and from Durango, Colorado, my nephew Ben, and his wife Paige, and their two boys.💞

And so it was . . . we did all the Vineyard things . . . like clamming … this is Paige, married to my nephew Ben, with their youngest son, Beckett, who’s four ~ he’s got clams!

This is Ben, Ben is Paige’s husband, my nephew, and Jess’s brother …😘

Ben and Jess are the children of my brother, Jim. This picture of Jim and Ben has hung on my wall for years, I LOVE it. Colorado, with snow on the high mountains and wild flowers under their feet, and two good boys. Have I confused you enough name-wise? Well, there will not be a test, ignore everything . . .

That’s Jim, next to me (with rollers in my hair) … back row on right… closest to me in age, he was my partner in crime crowing up … 💖

So, it was wonderful to have his children here . . . this is Jessica, Jim’s daughter, Ben’s sister, my niece, and the mother of these two . . . .❤️

. . .Eliza and Maggie, who’s father, Cory, you’ll meet in a moment.

There he is, in the back row, in pink with the hat on! Here they all are. Lovely people! So much fun!

They brought home lots of clams and Uncle Joe showed the boys how to shuck them. Fascinating!

Then Joe taught them how to make stuffed clams (kind of lost the boys here, but definitely not the rest of us!).

I showed them how to make my Dad’s famous garlic bread (their great-grandfather, hard to believe!). Almost ready for the broiler! (P.66 the new Heart of the Home!)

Of course we had the Island food of choice . . .

Bowls full of steaming lobsters . . . Paige demonstrates, while her son,

Brave Beckett, touches lobster (of course, already cooked).

And me and Jess, we’re just happy!

We ate outside every night. Paper plates, candles, and twinkle lights! Corn on the cob rolled in the butter stick, watermelon chunks, hot bread, crispy potato pancakes, fresh swordfish and juicy pink steak. We had it all!

If you’re happy and you know it, say “Rawr,” and show us your watermelon!

My backyard never looks like this. Ever ever.

But I liked it. They told me this was a “rocket ship to the moon!” Looks pretty good! Excellent imagination and creativity! They got an A!

Inside was a human sacrifice. Somebody had to do it. We’re talking science here, the furtherment of mankind. Three cheers for Beckett!

And here? The proud sisters of Mission Control, Eliza and Maggie.

The first morning, while everyone was still asleep, I peeked out my upstairs bedroom window like I always do to see what the weather is like, and was shocked! Where was I? What’s all that stuff on the lawn? Blink-blink. This can’t be my house!

I went downstairs to find the victim taking his revenge on the girls of Mission Control …

Off we go on an Island tour in the Fine Romance Van! Turn up the MUSICA! Because

We drove all over, had lunch with a fabulous view at the Aquinnah Shop above the Gay Head Cliffs. (That man over there, standing, wearing the hat, really liked us!)

And I can see why . . . Ahhh, family!

Here comes the french fry thief …

This is where we were eating. Very good view from the roof for the french fry thieves. See the three jars down there,  on the left on the railing?

Sun tea. My kind of restaurant.

Here we are in Menemsha (where Jaws was filmed) … walking the jetty, looking at the boats …

Joe got us a plate of ice-cold oysters to share . . . (Jess and Cory again, who run five miles a day or so, even in the humidity!).

Delicious! Icy, shivery, like liquid silver! (If you’ve never had them, don’t worry, they taste MUCH better than they look!)

Here we are, Paige, Joe, Cory, Ben, Beckett, and me … al fresco eating at it’s very best!

While Maggie and Eliza looked for buried treasure . . .

. . .and found it, tiny little shells and beach glass, the best sort of Island souvenirs. (Love the color on Eliza’s nails!)

One day we were looking for these two…found them leaning against the washer and dryer in the pantry. Why? We don’t know . . . Wyler’s T-shirt says “Shark Proof.”

Little pile of sweetness ~ Cousins! Maggie, on the right, is going to be a writer. She was telling me about the Warrior book series she’s been reading (by Erin Hunter) … all the characters are kitties in clans (such as Riverclan or Thunderclan), with names like Tigerstar and Squirrelflight.  She was SO excited and animated telling me about these stories, now I want to read them!

We so enjoyed every moment with them . . . and then as quickly as they came, it was over, poof! and off they went …  but the memories, along with summer, stayed …

So we went looking for some more

Freshest air in the world, salty, windy, lovely sound of the waves . . .

We went to visit Joe’s niece Jennifer and her husband Mark … they live in New York, but they’ve rented this “camp” by the water every summer for years. We had gazpacho (con tomatoes!), salad, and quiche! When I see Jen, I think of this quote . . . ❤️

You get to their house by a very (very!) long dirt road through the woods and scrub oak . . .

The house is unfinished inside, has no insulation, it’s the opposite of fancy, but really comfortable, perfect for reading and dreaming . . .  this is the view from the kitchen window . . . there’s nothing out there but the wind . . . I could barely keep my eyes open!

It was a perfect day for a walk on South Beach ~ that’s Mark and me and Jen, Joe has the camera.

Looking back from the beach to the house …

Can you picture yourself here? Deep breath of ocean air, feeling drowsy? . . . ommmm . . . .

Sometimes people ask me what to do when they come to Martha’s Vineyard, and honestly, this is more or less it. You listen to the screen door slam. It’s the opposite of what to do, it’s more like how to be!

And so, you know Girlfriends, it’s time . . . you have been so patient . . . but Vanna has arrived in all her glory . . . and it’s time to give away the luv-lee journal of Beatrix Potter.

And my story of finding her in the English Countryside, at the end of a very long path I began to walk when I was around 22.

Don’t forget, you lucky winner, about the secret that’s hiding in the back of the Beatrix book!  SO, who shall it be darling Vanna? I want you to know, Vanna’s toenails are polished gold, they’re shiny, like earrings, and she is now perched, toes curled and clutching the edge, on top of my art table. Now she’s up, graceful as a swan, and over, and INTO the vat she dives, with all your names, swirling down and down and down . . . scissor-kicking her way to the bottom, a whirlwind of papers, flying around and through the air now . . . and . . . here . . . she . . . comes . . . clutching one fluttery piece of paper, and now, handing it to me . . . the winner of our luv-lee little giveaway, chosen especially by Vanna from over 2,000 entries from all of you darling kindred spirits, is YOU, dear KERRIE FOLEY, (but only if you promise not to DIE if you win, like you said you would do in your comment!). Because you just did win!

CONGRATULATIONS, KERRIE! I’ll email you; you can reply with your address ~ I’ll sign both of your books and pop them into the mail for you.💞

AND, now it’s almost time for me to go write a new WILLARD, because by the time I’ve written it, and you receive it,  it will almost be September, we will be feeling it (eeek with joy), and I have new news to share.  Make sure you and the ones you love are signed up for this little bit of “All Good News” celebrating the change of season, that starts off a little like this (in case you’ve never seen it):And, oh my goodness! Just as I was about to sign off . . . UPS pulled up outside my window, be still my beating heart … I grabbed my camera . . .

. . .  and ran to the kitchen door, because I feel like I’ve been waiting forever, and now, Hooray! It’s my turn! So many of you have been writing on Twitter and Facebook to tell me you got your cups! And I’ve been whining and moaning because mine hadn’t come yet!!! But just as I was finishing this post, here they are! (Yes, three boxes, I told you I was doing my Christmas shopping!)  Sorry, I was too excited to hold the camera still . . . and then I took a big time-out for the grand opening of the cups …

Ta-daaa! First box I opened turned out to be the Bluebird of Happiness. How appropriate! I love it! 

(‘Course the moment I grabbed the camera and began to run to the door, my shadow was right behind me!) What is it, what is it? A cup? Are you kidding? All this for a cup? 🙀

And then, more appropriate timing . . . the next one out was the Martha’s Vineyard cup!  Then the Santa cup, and then the darling new smaller size, Autumn. Which means, I am SET! 💙What a nice note to end on! Blessings to you all…. I hope you are loving these last lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer, these ARE the good old days!  Thank you for all your sweet comments, Girlfriends. More fun for us to come soon. And now . . . I’m going to make a cup of tea! XOXOX

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1,097 Responses to In the Good Old Summertime

  1. Cindy Johnson says:

    What a fun time with your active family. Thanks for sharing. Children just bring joy to our homes. We have 4 grandchildren and i love that they love coming to our home. Oh… got my Santa mug!!!! That makes 2 and I want the bird and the Vineyard cups. Shhhh…mums the word 🙂

  2. Marilyn Young says:

    The family photos were delightful, I really cherish family photos. You have a lovely bunch there and these visits will be long remembered by all the kids. How special for them to have you and Joe as their besties. One fine day I’ll order a cup for myself bc I love all of them. Now, lets dig our heels into the earth and get summer out of the way and plan for Fall. We need some cold weather and some Fall flowers and windy days. Soon it will be Christmas and winter will be upon us.

  3. Gmapat says:

    I cannot express how your lovely family visit affected me. For our 50th anniv in 2015 we took all of ours to the beach for a PERFECT week. All 9 grands still want to go back, as do I. We had perfect weather, perfect everything. So blessed! Wonderful reliving that happy feeling ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Looking soooo forward to Willard. gmapat

  4. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    What a beautiful Post. How fun seeing your sweet family. I adore the shirt you were wearing when you and Joe were outside in the twinkly arbor. Loving those mugs and will have to get some. Have the best day ever Susan

  5. Joan kotvas says:

    Haven’t had a chance to read the blog because I was busy opening my box of mugs Love them❤ I was wondering what I would think about the size of the autumn cup versus the other caps. I like the larger cup it is good for tea coffee and soup I would prefer the seasons to be the larger cups but I guess that decision is already made How about a few more Christmas cups in the large size for hot cocoa ummmm!! Would like to see a saucer to match the love Cup. Congratulations on a job well done they feel real good in my hands and I especially like the thickness around the top of the cups it is nice and thin feels like real English China. Good job kiddo!!!

    • sbranch says:

      The cups are so expensive, I was afraid to try and include a saucer … but I could! I love the little cup. I just got it, had coffee in it, it’s nice for smaller amounts, perfect for hot cocoa! I had so many requests for a smaller cup, I wanted to make everyone happy. This is an impossible quest, but I have to try!

      • dena says:

        maybe you can make one saucier that can used on any or all mug , instead of one for every pattern, so if someone wanted it they could purchase it

        • sbranch says:

          Good idea, Dena!

        • Judy Young says:

          Technically, a mug doesn’t need a “saucer”. Cups need saucers, but these are mugs, not cups. Susan, your mugs are so delightful! Better than any I have seen in England, and I grew up there. I love the thinness of the rim, and the amazing handle, so many comfortable ways to hold it. Fabulous job!!!! I have two – the nature mug and the Vineyard mug. I am looking forward to an “English” mug, the teaplate, etc. It’s a pity you will not be able to make a Beatrix Potter mug, or say a Gladys Taber mug. I would like to see a Christmas mug, more along the lines of the nature mug with many small designs on there instead of a Santa. A “garden” mug would be nice, showing your picket fence garden, hollyhocks, blue birds, etc. I am sure you are trying to find the time to design more, such fun!

          • sbranch says:

            Love all your ideas! I’m going to have to remodel my kitchen for the cups that will be coming!

      • Joan kotvas says:

        Iam happy❤ With all your choices. My next cup of tea I’ll try autumn!

  6. Joan kotvas says:

    Typo in my comment cup not “cap”

  7. Claudia Cole says:

    Dear Susan; Thank you so much for designing such precious china mugs. Perfect for tea! I bought the “Earth Love” with the momma ewe and baby lambs on the handle. Just love it. I also want to thank you for the “Gratitude” book. I love this so much. It is the kind of book to lift the spirits when one is on the couch with a bad cold or the flu. Can’t wait to get sick! Kidding!

    The pics from England and your family at the beach were really sweet.
    Did Jack enjoy all the nieces and nephews?

    I hope you and Joe have a wonderful sunshiney August.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, yes, kidding! Jack wasn’t as wild about the kids as I was … I think their shortness threw him off a bit!

    • Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

      Claudia, you gave me such a good chuckle! “Can’t wait to get sick! Kidding!” Oh that is too funny. What we won’t think of when it comes to these lovely SB cups. 🙂

  8. Margaret Harke says:

    Ah, summertime! Time for the mountains, time for the beach! Which way should I go. As you know, when you live in California there is time for it all becuase summer can last truely until the first day of fall or even longer! We are just in the middle here in the San Joaquin Valley. Just waiting for the children to go back to school so everything is not so crowded them doff we’ll go!
    Loved your blog and seeing you extended family! What a delightful and fun group they seemed to be.
    Looking forward to the new Willard.
    Got my lovely bluebird cup which is going to be a Christmas present for a dear friend who lives in an unpleasant place for her, but watching the lovely birds brings her joy.

  9. Jane Alexander says:

    If I were ever to be sad, i would come and read your blog and the comments. The comments are absolutely delicious! These friends are the best people!!! I love the way they encourage you and all you do. You are SO special to all of us. So kind, and looking for ways to make us find pure joy in living. The family photos are so much fun. i am not a fish, oyster, clam , lobster kind of person, but it was so fun to see all of you enjoying it. Enjoying the rain and humidity in Houston Texas! But, love the air conditioning mostly. Simply thankful when the temperature is below 98. I am loving the long slow days, that still pass too quickly. I’ve ordered two of these cups, so happily waiting. i love my other three, and use them often. Blessings to you and Joe!

    • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W Tx says:

      Wow Jane…you got some rain! Mostly dry here….lots of storms; wind, thunder, lightning, just no rain! And of course HOT! Waiting patiently for fall.

  10. LimnerC says:

    Congratulations to you, Kerrie! I’m so happy to hear you won. 😀

  11. Jan Martin says:

    Always a treat, a mini-vacation, to get your blog. DINNER CAN WAIT!! It’s ME TIME😊Such wonderful summer memories for your family. They will be cherished forever. It reminds me of summers when I was young, spending summers in Door County, fishing, picking cherries, swimming all day long. Summer days are the best😎

  12. Pat Stansel says:

    How many nieces & nephews do you have on your side of the family ? I always thought that you were ” ours” , but obviously you are theirs—-they are so lucky to be a part of you !

    • sbranch says:

      Luckily there’s a ton of love in the human heart, you can if you wish belong to everyone! And visa versa!😘

  13. Pam Butterick says:

    Loved the blog, loved the musica, loved your family pics and the pic of you and Joe after they left. “Our love is here to stay” ❤️🎶❤️😍
    I’m putting both musicas on my list to sing at Windermere Thursday. The residents will love them.
    Can’t wait for the mugs- might try BOGrapes to buy extras!!! I was short sighted!
    Thank you again for your warmth and clarity and artistry. ❤️

  14. Lisa says:

    Loved the Blog and the photos! Summer is family time! The Afghan is a pattern I love to knit! The color is gorgeous!

  15. Sarah says:

    To live on Martha’s Vineyard and share all the loveliness with family, generations of family~ what could be better for summer? It’s fun to see all these family photos of beautiful children doing what children do in summer. The creativity, the carefree days, the simple joy of just being with family in such a place ~ it all makes my heart sing, Susan. It’s these kinds of memories that will forever be a part of each of these bright eyed faces. Kudos to you and Joe for sharing your isle and your love. Like you, we don’t have children of our own, but oh the joy of nieces and nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews. We are blessed! 😉
    Congratulations to Kerrie! She is likely doing a happy dance!
    Love the new mugs! Congratulations to you on these new designs.
    Sorry about your humid days, but at least you have the beach and ocean to flee to. You could be landlocked here in central TX with the humid days. Ha!
    Seriously, thank goodness we all have the luxury of AC!
    Hugs from Austin ~ Sarah and Sadie

  16. Stephanie C says:

    Oh yes, I can just see myself there. I love and miss the Vineyard so much. But I will be back again soon. Thank you for sharing your wonderful family with us. When you have a loving family, you have it all. It just doesn’t get much better than that. Hope I am not too late to order a couple of mugs.
    Much love and hugs,


  17. Marianne in Mo. says:

    What a wonderful time you had with family visiting! We always feel we need to plan activities when ours arrive, not thinking that they are already just enjoying being away from their “normal” days! So fun to watch the children play and see the world through their eyes. Have to say, those kiddos were really brave jumping off that bridge! And the spaceship – wow – very much a stellar creation! I’m sure You and Joe had a blast, as did the rest of them.
    I could feel your excitement upon the arrival of the cups – loved the “shadow” response to said cups too! Nothing like a thin-lipped cup! I got some extra-large mugs for Christmas that were produced by a well known Okla. cook, and the rims are so thick I have relegated them to soup status. Yours are so pretty that I may have to see if Santa would be kind enough to gift me one (or two!)
    Keep enjoying what is left of summer – it will be gone in the blink of an eye!

  18. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    good evening Susan, Girlfriends. congratulations to Kerry on winning the lovely book. whew it has been miserable here for 9-10 solid days of triple digit heat.. and we are talking 109- 115 degrees. it is 99 degrees now and muggy, just looking at all the lovely family beach photos is cooling, wish we had a nice cool breeze here right now. I have the ceiling fans going overtime these days, we don’t have air conditioning and yes I spent most of those triple digit days floating in the shady cool spot I have on the river and it was heaven… nice and cool!!!!! the barnyard crowd made it through the heat wave, didn’t lose anyone to the heat. but then we kept those birds hydrated to the max, all water containers and tube were filled twice a day with cool water and we shot the sprinkler on them to help keep them comfortable and cool. I hear next week we are going down into the 80’s….. happy days!!!! the county fair will be coming next week, so if its cooler we may wander on down and enjoy some of that wonderful carnival food. for now I have been on a steady diet of cool salads and watermelon, it was too hot to cook. we are on thunderstorm alert here, that means dry lightening and little to no rain, and we could use a soaker about now to break up this heat. send some of those cool breezes our way, we can use them, and some rain, the wetter the better. off to go pour me a tall glass of iced tea or maybe a coke and rum. stay cool everyone and enjoy the rest of the summer, Fall is not too far away now. I can’t wait.. :)!!! hugs everyone….. 🙂

    • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

      well its still warm here…99 degrees and humid, boy is it muggy!!! I have a question about food safety, concerning potato salad. when I make potato salad, I let the eggs and potatoes cool down before chopping them up and making the salad, then I keep the salad refrigerated so no one gets sick from spoiled mayonnaise. well my MIL makes her potato salad while the eggs and potatoes are still hot, she chops them up and mixes in the mayonnaise and then leaves the salad on counter in a hot kitchen during these hot summer days all day long. I say that is asking for trouble and many times my hubby, Ed, has gotten an upset stomach along with gas and some diarrhea after eating it. I refuse to eat her potato salad as I don’t trust that she ever refrigerated it before we ate. so my question is should one leave a mayo based potato salad on a counter especially during the summer??? isn’t that running the risk of food poisoning??? she thinks it is perfectly okay, but I tend to disagree, I can see leaving it out to cool down before going into the fridge, but leaving it out for hours is not a smart thing to do as far as I can see. any thoughts on this???

      • sbranch says:

        Google it Pat, you get a jillion answers. Although store-bought Mayo doesn’t seem to be as dangerous as it used to be, there’s a lot of need for common sense. I have to say that I always put the potatoes, the eggs, and the mayo together with the celery, onions, etc., while the potatoes are still warm … Because I think it helps to meld the flavors … I love that taste. But I put the salad in the fridge immediately and keep it there. I wouldn’t eat something that makes me sick either!

        • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

          thanks Susan, I do the same thing ….. I mix the mayo, potatoes, eggs, celery and onions together while they are still warm, but so hot you can’t handle them as she does. then I let it sit and cool a bit before refrigerating and it stays in the fridge until it is served, and back in it goes. I think when they were handing out common sense she was absent that day, I know I would not serve any food that could possibly make someone sick but she doesn’t think about that. thanks again.

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            oops not so hot that you can’t handle them…. my head is going a million miles a minute today, just had some lovely visitors to the backyard and they are sticking around for nice visit with the barnyard crowd.. we have 1 mama turkey and 5 of her babies here visiting our birds…. I think its the corn they smell that we put out in the barnyard for the chickens to scratch up.

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            okay googled food network, and the safety margin is about 2 hours and if it is over 90 degrees then the safety margin closes to about 1 hour. and if you happen to be at a picnic, keep in the cooler until serving and if the ice in the cooler is melted, get rid of the potato salad. good advice and some common sense.

          • sbranch says:

            Thank you Pat!

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Pat, I look forward to your posts. We had the first flock of wild turkeys mosey through our place yesterday. Later in October, there could be as many as 25 at one time. I grew up with cousins who lived on a farm. That was paradise for kids. Wonder how we all managed to survive!!! Guess what we didn’t know really did not hurt us!!! Debbie in Maine

        • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

          Hi Debbie, it must be wonderfully cool in Maine, not like here hot and smoky!!! we have a couple of fires nearby, one in a junkyard… PHEWY!! we get the turkeys during the summer and loads of visits during the Fall. we love having them around, when its hot we leave buckets of cool water out for them and we scatter some cracked corn for them to eat. my hubby keeps on hoping they will stay with our barnyard crowd, especially the babies. one of these days they may just decide to do that.. where was the family farm??? I grew up on my grandparents farm in Hibbing, Minnesota… Grandpa was Norwegian, and Grandma was Swedish. have a lovely day and stay cool. hugs….. 🙂

  19. scottygrrl says:

    Such great pics of the fam – feels like I was right along with all of you, having fun in the sun, making nice memories together.

    The mess in your backyard made me giggle too!

  20. Grand Pam says:

    This again is Debra Sewell NOT Grand Pam. And I am russolucy8@gmail not that Christopher person. Why does Willard have me like this it won’t let me change it. Anyway. This was a spectacular, summery, wonderful beautiful Willard. Thank you a million times. You are so kind to share your lives with us. Bless you all

  21. Ruth B. says:

    It was Christmas in July for me when I received my beautiful mug painted by my favorite artiste and author. Ho ho ho! I am so merry.
    Ruth B. (The Inklings -OH)

  22. Carol Rogers says:

    Don’t forget the watermelon 🍉❤️✨🇺🇸🐾

  23. Kay Swanson says:

    I loved seeing your visiting family and I couldn’t help but laugh aloud as you viewed your lawn when you looked out one morning! As a grandparent, I’ve witnessed such things myself when our grandchildren have visited! I’ve always remembered what my mom would say, “This too shall pass…it’s a great life if you don’t weaken!” Things in disarray can always be straightened. The precious memories made will last a lifetime! I’m anxiously awaiting my mugs…I know they will arrive any day now and I’m excited! Soak in the rest of what’s left of summer; I am back in Iowa!

  24. Christine says:

    Family and summer! The best, always the best! Thanks for the post!

  25. Pam Gardner says:

    Family is really everything, isn’t it? Glad you all had so much fun!

  26. Phyllis Schmitz says:

    Loved the summertime blog!
    Can we please have the recipe for the stuffed clams…..
    looks so good in the picture. Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      That is a Joe-Special, and I really don’t know how he does it. They have very little bread in them and are more like Clams Casino than stuffed clams (with celery in them), except of course he shucks the large clams and cuts up the meat and then mixes it with the other ingredients … very crunchy on top when cooked! Hope this helps!

  27. Patti Lyon says:

    Seeing a post from you in my mailbox always brings a smile to my face. You really outdid yourself this time with all the beachy goodness with your lovely family. You ALMOST ruined it by mentioning September but I’ve decided to overlook it this time. August will never end!!! 😉

  28. Judy Tracy says:

    Just loved the family pictures and all that they represent. There is nothing better…the coming and the going….the quiet savoring of it all after they have gone home as you treasure the memories that you have just made. You do give me such delight since I bought your first book so many years ago at the Palos Verdes, California Port O Call Store. You share so much joy. Thank you so much!
    Hugs if you were within reach, Judy Tracy

  29. Suzanne says:

    You r family gathering looks like a smashing time! My parents had a place in Wellfleet growing up and my Dad was one of nine, so the gaggle of cousins that came down for clam digging, clam bakes, and beach fun was spectacular fun. Now my sis lives there and we pounce on her and go diggin, boating, fried clam shack hopping- love ❤️ summer! Thanks for sharing your fun😉💕💕💕💕xoxo

  30. Christie Levin says:

    Sue, the photos of your darling family are so cute and wonderfully evocative of my own memories of fun free summer days with family. There was a song, popular when I was a teenager, that was replayed on the radio every May-June back then that I loved because it seemed like a promise of magical months ahead: “V-A-C A-T-I-O-N! In the summer time! Put away your books – we’re out of school! The sun is hot but were playing it cool! We’re on Vacation, till the start of the fall!” I thought of it while reading this. The children’s happy faces and yours in the middle of all those shared good summer-on-the-island times makes the photos come alive. I wonder if you have gotten all the kids started on their own journals – I bet you do. Little colorful notebooks were the first gifts that I pulled out of my own aunty gift bag during a recent family reunion. You guys did so many fun things! What memories you have gifted them with!!! I especially love the photo of you and Joe enjoying your summer evening together in the candlelight under the stars (you two are the cutest couple). And I’m so happy that you did not have to wait ANY longer for the cups to arrive! Good things do come 😊 eventually, sooner or later. Sigh! Love your blog posts💕 love you. xoxoxo

  31. Sandy Paulk says:

    Looks like a warm and happy family with lots of good memories. Please tell me you’ll be doing a 2018 calendar. I have been using the 2017 and absolutely LOVE it!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, we have them now in my web store … just click on “Let’s shop” at the top of the blog!

  32. Katherine M. in Austin says:

    Thank you, dear Susan, for a lovely post about the pleasures of family visits and the beach in summer. It looks like you all had a lovely time.

    Did you by chance see the PBS special on Beatrix Potter (from last year – the 150th) with Patricia Houghton? I saw it for the first time Sunday night. Delightful! You need to do a Beatrix Potter mug, for all of your fan-girls!

  33. Karen Schrimpf Saunders says:

    I will be so excited to get my new cups!!!! Something to look forward to!!
    I have some rather bad news I would appreciate the girlfriends prayers for. I have cancer of the kidney and go in Friday at 8:00 to have it removed….😞 SCARY!!!😳 Another little ‘bump’ in the road of life I guess…thanks ladies❤️ I loved your post Susan. I’m going to visit that island hopefully!! 🌷🌷🌷

    • sbranch says:

      VERY scary Karen. Prayers and Hugs are winging their way to you right now ~ take a deep breath and you will feel them wrap around you. The wonderful news is that our medical world is amazing these days! They will take good care of you. Soon you’ll be on the other side, on the way up … in only a few days. xoxoxoxoxoxo Write when you can!

    • Charissa says:

      Sending prayers and warm fuzzies and hugs to you, YOU BRAVE & STRONG WOMAN. Play Katy Perry’s Roar and let Susan aid in your recovery with all her goodness. Maybe read the blog over from the beginning:) It will surely help with all it’s love and beauty. Wishing you all good things.xoxo

    • Susan P. says:

      Good Morning!!! YES prayers and hugs and wonderful healthy thoughts are coming your way. Keep positive thoughts and all the happiness you can around you! You will heal fast and be on the road to Autumn filled days drinking tea out of your new cups!!!! Love, Susan P.

    • Shannon(Pennsylvania) says:

      Oh, Karen, bless your heart! I know the scary path you are walking right now. I was diagnosed with kidney cancer that had spread to the ureter tube last January, and I had surgery to remove both the left kidney and the ureter tube in February. Best news is no further evidence of cancer was found and I did not have to have any treatments. I feel really well, had a good support system during the 6 week recovery, and I treasure every new day! I will go back for CT scans, chest x-rays and cystoscopys every 6 months from here on out..first round of those is next month..and if the wretched thing ever makes an appearance anywhere else it will be dealt with. I certainly will be holding you close in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs❤️

    • Tawni Urrutia says:

      Dear Karen,
      I’m sure you know that all of us girlfriends are in the bleachers cheering for you. Sending you prayers and love and best wishes. We’ll be waving banners and throwing confetti when you get home and feeling good!♥️❤️♥️😇

    • Marianne in Mo. says:

      Sending up a prayer for you! Hoping the outcome is good.

      • Joan kotvas says:

        I join the girlfriends wishing you a speedy recovery have faith and eat your greens!! ❤

    • Christie Levin says:

      Hi Karen, You can count on me to join Susan and the Girlfriends in holding you up in prayer, not only for a perfectly successful surgery and a swift comfortable recovery, but also for the blessings of peace and rest from worry. I can hear strength and courage in your words, Karen, and am reminded of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that makes me smile: “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Another quote I love is a promise: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9 xoxoxo

      • sbranch says:

        How I love our Girlfriends!! xoxoxoxo

        • Karen Schrimpf Saunders says:

          Me tooooo!!! I knew they would be there for me!!!💜💜💜💜love them🌷🌷🌷

        • Debby Rickett says:

          I too will be praying for you, dear one! I am a two time cancer survivor and it is a very uncertain place to be. Remember, until the good Lord is ready for you, you are invincible!! He is bigger than cancer and always has his hand on you.
          Please let us know how you are doing.
          xxoo debby

          • Karen Schrimpf Saunders says:

            Thank you….I know that….I need to keep reminding myself of that!! …..and just relax…(guess it’s just the unknown!)

          • sbranch says:

            “Just” the unknown! Scariest place of all. But as my girlfriend’s mom always used to tell us, the only way to it is through it. Wonderful comments and support from our luv-lee Girlfriends! XOXOXO KAREN!

    • Carmel says:

      You’re in my prayers as well, Karen. Please keep us posted on your progress.
      With the surgery out of the way soon, you’ll be able to look forward to Fall and all the holidays to come. Sending lots of light.

      • Rhonda D. says:

        Karen, you will be in my thoughts and prayers as well. I am a cancer survivor (it will be 5 years for me in Feb. 2018) and there was no better place for me to be than nestled safely in the care of all the Girlfriends here on Susan’s blog. They were all a key part of my recovery. Their prayers carried me all along the way. I stood on a promise from Jeremiah 30:17….”For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds.” Keep that verse in your mind at all times. I read a little book by Dodie Osteen called “Healed of Cancer.” I took it in my purse everywhere I went. Keep the faith, believe, fight, stay strong, and remember that God says you are healed!

    • HveHope says:

      Indeed, praying RIGHT NOW from Denver, CO that the dear Lord would give you His peace.

    • chris consentino says:

      dear Karen. the Catholic Patron Saint for cancer patients is St. Peregrine. prayers will go to him to bless you with peace, comfort, excellent medical care & full, speedy recovery! you are NOT alone! faithfully, chris.

    • Barbara A Case says:

      Prayers coming your way, Karen Schrimpf Saunders, I have an 19 year old grand daughter who has been fighting a good fight for three years (leukemia) ? which our good Lord is fighting with her too ! you both will win.. Bless you !!

    • Trace Stavros says:

      Bushels of Love and Healing Prayers for you..
      Bear hugs too

    • Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

      Karen, Sending healing prayers out for you. Hugs coming your way girlfriend!

    • Christie Levin says:

      Hi again, Karen. I just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you. It’s been almost a week since your surgery and you may not see this for awhile because you are busy recovering and getting stronger, but just in cases you do, I hope you are feeling all the love and support the Girlfriends are still sending. I’m picturing a very comfortable recovery process and that each day finds you in awesome healthier health than the day before! Prayers are ongoing! xoxoxo Christie

      • sbranch says:

        Me too, Karen, I’m with Christie, thinking about you. We all are…imagining you getting better every day! xoxo

  34. judi says:

    Loved your post. How great to get your brothers kids and their kids together for a fun time. Every day here in summer is like warm jello! Happy you are home for the summer and happy upcoming birthday to Joe🎈. Hugs, judi

  35. Martha says:

    You are so right about fresh oysters! They are better than they look. I’ve had them in Ohio, & didn’t care for them. However, on our way to Acadia National Park, we stopped in Portsmouth for lunch & ordered them. What a major difference “fresh” seafood tastes. They were delicious! Love the “French fry thieves”. My favorite picture was what the backyard looked like in the morning! You have a lovely, wonderful family!!! Enjoy the rest of your Summer!

    • sbranch says:

      It took me years to get used to oysters … I’m really only just finally loving them now … we have wonderful ones here, and as long as they are very cold, I am a happy camper! Thank you Martha!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Martha, we have floating rafts of oysters, baby ones, just off of our property in Maine. Oyster growing has become big here. I still prefer clams, especially Island Blues from Prince Edward Island! I have a bunch of big scallop shells that I put stuffed clam goodies in to bake. Yum.

      Hope you enjoyed your trip to Acadia and checked out the Schoodic Drive part.

      • Martha says:

        Thank you so much for your tip on the Schoodic Drive! We loved Acadia so much! We are already planning our trip for next year. So much to see and do! We stayed in Bar Harbor and were amazed how friendly everyone was. Love how the shops and town have flowers planted everywhere & doggie dishes with water for the pets. We were planning to go to Canada next summer but loved Acadia so much, we’re going again! Sounds like you live very near to the ocean. Floating rafts of oysters sounds like a dream!

        • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

          yummy fresh oysters, clams and lobster, along with garlic bread… now I’m getting hungry. 😀

  36. Rosinda says:

    Stuffed clams, fresh lobster, and garlic bread, oh my!!! I would be in heaven! So lovely to see photos of you and your family enjoying summer on the Vineyard. Congratulations to the winner of your giveaway. She must be over-the-moon! Enjoy these last few weeks of the season. Autumn will be upon us before we know it. Squeeeel!

  37. Another wonderful post, Susan! We’re hoping to visit Martha’s Vineyard next year, as part of our US East Coast family adventure. I’ll have to remember to just be and not worry so much about doing. Thanks for the tip! Love to you and Joe. xx

  38. Gloria says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Susan. I feel like I’ve been on vacation after reading today’s note from you! Oops, got to go. Time to go to my haircut appointment!

  39. Peg says:

    As a child, I spent one month every summer on the Cape in a camp…that’s what cottages were called back then … with my family. It looked a lot like the cottage Joe’s niece rents although back then we used an outhouse, something very common at the time, until my father finally put in a bathroom. To this day, warm sunshine on my face, the night sounds of summer, and a scent of salty air can transport me back to those July days.

  40. Linda Michael in PA says:

    What a lovely post! There’s nothing like having family come for a visit. Everyone looks like they had a grand time. Your tomato looks delicious – I could almost taste it! We used to grow our own tomatoes, but hadn’t much luck with them the last few years. So now I support my local farmer and buy them from him. Every day for supper, when tomatoes are in season, I make a fresh tomato/mint/onion salad. I grow my own mint – I have good luck with that – it’s very hardy!) You cut tomatoes up over the bowl, so all the good juice gets in, chop fresh mint, and very thinly slice a small onion. Salt a tiny bit and dress with a little olive oil. With fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes, this is ambrosia! (You could substitute fresh basil for the mint but my husband is Greek, and we make it the Greek way with mint.) Enjoy the rest of your summer, Susan. Oh, my Autumn mug arrived – it’s beautiful! I treasure it and am waiting to use it during my favorite season!

  41. Linda says:

    Loved hearing about your gatherings on MV and seeing photos of familiar places. I love that little restaurant overlooking the ocean! I just spent a restful, long weekend there visiting my daughter. Looking forward to visiting again in September. There’s really nothing like it and at night there is such a silence. I always sleep so well!

  42. Barbara Briegel says:

    Thank You for starting my day with your wonderful family photos and words! I wish I had a nice big lobster like Beckett was holding and a plate of the iced oysters, yes, for breakfast! Not your typical fare here in Missour for any meal. Also, Joe’s stuffed clam looked pretty darned good too! Looking forward to Willard!

  43. Susan P. says:


    The pictures of all that great food made my mouth water. So I went out yesterday and got some great tomatoes and all the ingredients for Basil Lemonade. YES I DID…I was home alone and…and I did not have to share the Lemonade with anyone. But I would of shared with Patricia, one of the girlfriends that I met at your book signing in Pasadena..we have become great email friends and even have gone out to dinner. So Patricia come on over!!!! On these hot days that is really the drink of choice to have. I have a lime tree and I think I have enough limes for a week of Lemonade hahahaha

    Congratulations to Kerry for winning. YOU will LOVE that book!!!
    Was able to go up to Fort Bragg and Monterey and end the vacation in SLO for the BEAUTIFUL Wedding of our god daughter. We did (or I did) the digging in the sand for glass and old pottery…moonstones, and had great success. We had the grand babies all 4 of them for a short time…and the back yard was full, 2 wading pools and the hose going all the time and toys everywhere…but the best thing…WAS THE SQUEALS AND LAUGHTER FROM THE CHILDREN Oh Great Summer memories!!!! So to my NOTHING Summer…I have had a great and wonderful time. On to the Autumn Days of cool nights and colorful leaves!!! Thank you for a very inspiring and fun Blog. Love, Susan P.

  44. Charissa says:

    How do you always know just what I want when I don’t even know it myself?!?!?! This post hit the spot! Fresh tomato sandwiches remind me of summer with my grandmother and family time. I feel so lucky to be able to see the joy in all your family photos and remember summers through children’s eyes. It brought up the best memories for me. Family, sun tea, naps on the couch with a cozy blanket, warm days and cool nights, looking for little treasures, reading in a quiet corner, special trips, and once in a lifetime experiences. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!

    You know how I torture Tom. Well… we got new phones and the camera came with those silly faces that you can put over your face. Tom did one of himself with a short white-ish beard, glasses, and a black beret and thought he looked cute until I agreed and said he looked exactly like Joe and we all know how cute Joe is:) We were in hysterics. I may have tinkled. I can’t wait to get my mugs and tell him who Santa is;) Happy early birthday to Joe Hall who makes my friend the happiest girl in the world and provides my hubby and I endless giggles over fake jealousy of what a wonderful man and true gentleman he truly is xoxo Sometimes, just for fun, I leave the video of Joe making the wreath on Youtube up on the computer. It makes him the most fake upset because I love Christmas so much. Hope you don’t think we are total weirdos. And bless his heart… he spent hours trying to find me the music that was playing in the background. We are both lucky girls!

    What is this news? I know you can’t say because you are saving it for Willard. Is it plates? movie? new book? You are coming to McKinney, TX? meditation cds? auction update???? Feeling a bit tortured myself, but in the best way;). Hope it is all of those and more.
    I am going to make your Dad’s garlic bread tonight and give him and you a little toast;) when we eat it. As always, thank you for all that you do!! Think you deserve angel wings and a halo xoxo

  45. Nancy Klaud says:

    When and where can I buy the Martha’s Vineyard cup? 😀

    • sbranch says:

      You can get it right now, Nancy… just go to the top of my blog, click on Let’s Shop and you’ll see it in one of the little pictures, click on that. If you’re here on the Island, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven will be carrying it soon. We are down to about 100 left, so if you want one, try to do it soon.

  46. Cheryl Miller says:

    Susan – A couple of my friends and I were discussing this latest blog and commenting on the quotes that we loved in it. I thought it would be a great idea if you published and illustrated a book on quotes that you have used in your blogs, cookbooks, etc. You would sell three books immediately because we are lovers of great quotes. Have you ever considered writing such a book?

  47. Bobbie says:

    Just have to say – again – how much I enjoy your posts! Always up-lifting and happy – thanks for all of your positive thoughts!!

  48. Carla vdM says:

    I am always very pleased to see your new blogpost in my mailbox.
    Just finished your book A fine Romance and loved it all, the way you wrote it in your handwriting, the photo’s, the lovely drawings etc.
    Liked the pages of York, have been there once and visited Betty’s Tearoom.

    I’m wondering what is the Sun Tea in the jars in your photo’s?
    Thank you from me too for sharing your photo’s and story of family visiting.

    Greetings from the Netherlands

    • sbranch says:

      I think it’s just the tea bags in the jars. Have you made sun tea? You just fill a glass pitcher or jar with cold water, add tea bags to the strength you like, and set in the the sun to brew. Drink it over ice with a splash of lemonade. Glad you liked the book Carla, thank you!

  49. Rose Ann Bacher-Giallombardo says:

    Hello dear Susan,
    This post was just so lovely & I enjoyed reading it & seeing the photos of your wonderful family.
    The following quote is perfect for the way that I feel about SUMMER:
    “Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” 🙂
    -Doe Zantamata

  50. Katie says:

    I’ve been feeling a bit blue that a special vacation with my extended family is over. I’m a teacher and will be back in school in just a week. Usually I feel excited to go back to school, but I’ve had a wonderful, very special summer, and I just feel a bit sad about it this year. My daughter is one year old, and I keep thinking that next summer she’ll be two, and then three, and then all grown up. I’m just feeling the passage of time in a bit of a melancholy way right now. When I read your post though, I loved the line “but the memories… stayed.” I also appreciate the positive, forward-looking attitude you share. Thank you for a much needed reminder!

    • sbranch says:

      Aw, that looking-ahead thing. I know. One day at a time, if you can … your daughter is one. How wonderful. Only one. Maybe if it starts getting cooler and a leaf of two flutters from a tree, you’ll feel more ready!

      • Katie says:

        Thank you, Susan. This may sound silly, but I feel like you’re one of my happiness gurus. I really admire your attitude towards life. 🙂

  51. Fancy says:

    The beautiful pictures an commentary about YOUR ISLAND make me hope even more that I will get to visit sometime! Ordering more mugs today❤️

  52. njean says:

    The summer pictures are perfect. It looks like everyone had a great time! We have also had some pretty humid days in the midwest. I stay inside with the air conditioning and read books too! It is beautiful here this week. Temperatures in the seventies, no humidity, sun shinning. This is my perfect summer weather. Now fall is my favorite time of year and I just received my fall mug a few days ago. I have it out, ready and waiting for that first fall morning cup of coffee! I went to a resale shop recently and found a 1989 copy of The National Trust Beatrix Potter and Hilltop illustrated souvenir book. I was so excited. I also found various books with her stories in them. I believe someone must have donated the whole set. I rescued them. They now have a new home. Looking forward to the new Willard.

  53. Kathie Bee says:

    Lovely post, lovey post. I copied the childhood poem down to do in calligraphy and frame. Wonderful reminder of my four little blessings called grandchildren. Enjoy the last of summer.

  54. Ridgely from Oregon says:

    What a great post! Someone has done a fabulous job with those kids–nary a cell phone in sight, using their imaginations (a commodity in dire possibility of becoming extinct in the generations coming up behind us) and READING! Kudos! Don’t you LOVE screen doors that slam? One of the main reasons we bought the place we live in is because it has a screened in porch (shades of my East Coast upbringing) with a door that slams with that wonderful sound only wooden screen doors can make!

  55. Peggy says:

    Loved your post today. I read it as I was sitting next to my brand new beautiful granddaughter.Your quotation starting with”exhaust the little moment…..” Was so appropriate as I looked at her in awe. Thank you for putting my feelings into words.

  56. Kate says:

    As a detail-loving person, I’d just like to say…that is one incredible, blue, splatterware bowl! Tipping my hat to you for finding that somewhere!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a good one, got it new, actually, at a shop in town, about 20 years ago, and have used it a million times! Good eye, Kate!

  57. Hi,
    What a wonderful post. Loved sharing your family with you. Had to chuckle about “they run in the heat and humidity” HA! I am not a humidity girl. But my gardens love it.
    Sending Summer Hugs,

  58. Lisa V. from Flower Mound, TX says:

    Congratulations to Kerry! Your wonderful post reminded me of my childhood, though I grew up near a lake not an ocean. What a wonderful visit with family. Those kids looked they had a blast with simple pleasures and imagination. Just the kind of summer I want my boys to have. My youngest son loves the Warrior book series. He and his friends play “Warrior Cats” at recess and pretend to be in cat clans. For his last birthday I had to do a Warrior/cat themed party, of course, with various cat games. They had a blast hunting for prey, racing to lap up water with their tongues, and their favorite – digging for poop (tootsie rolls) in a litter box filled with rice. I know, gross…but they loved it!
    I just ordered the book, The Art of Beatrix Potter: Sketches, Paintings, and Illustrations by Emily Zach, one of many books about Beatrix Potter released for her 150th birthday. I can’t wait to receive it! Two others everyone might want to know about are DK’s The Ultimate Peter Rabbit by Camilla Hallinan and A Celebration of Beatrix Potter.
    Excited for the new Williard!

  59. Karen Seward says:

    Susan I enjoyed all the pictures of your Family visit, Leaving in 2 days for Martha’s Vineyard Liked it so much last year my daughter and I are going back,Kiss Jack for me, Thank you for your Beautiful Blog….Karen Seward Long Island, New York

  60. Debbie Noyola says:

    Didn’t win the darling book, bummer. But I do get to read your lovely blog posts. Looks like you had a very nice get together with your family. What a wonderful place to do it too. I absolutely adore Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve only visited once but if I were rich it would be my very first choice for a summer cottage. Just enjoyed the first ripe big tomatoes from my garden. There were 3 bush early girls which was perfect. 1 for my son, my husband & myself. I made grilled cheese sandwiches & served the tomatoes on the side just salted & peppered. So amazing. Nothing like tomatoes picked right off the vine & eaten immediately. A few of the orange cherry tomatoes were ripe last week & we enjoyed those in our salad.

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, I try not to disguise the taste of the very first tomato … no BLT’s for that one!

  61. Heidi says:

    I always save your posts to read when I have the time to savor them. I just had a very difficult conversation with someone and sat down to read. So now I am smiling and delivering my life message to my daughter: “Love the people who love you back.” That’s it. My one piece of advice. But I feel certain that it is you and your magic that puts those thoughts in my head. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    • sbranch says:

      Sometimes it takes a while for us to know we really aren’t being loved! Scarlett O’Hara said it perfectly, in her imagination she fell in love with a beautiful suit, and put it on (the object of her affection) Ashley, never noticing it didn’t fit. I did that too, imagining someone was something they weren’t. That dream of something that doesn’t exist is very difficult to get over. Must be so hard to be a mom and want to help! Sending love xoxoxo

      • Valerie B says:

        Yes, those of us, and there are many, who have tried to force that glass slipper always pay extra in the end. That slipper was not meant for us. But you have shown us Susan what happens when true love comes along, and we find joy again ! Thank you for helping so many of us to believe in love again 💞

        • sbranch says:

          Innocence of childhood made me believe that love meant automatic happily ever after. Helps to grow up a bit! xoxo

  62. Jan says:

    I love your blog, especially this one…I live in the landlocked heart of America, therefore I really enjoyed seeing your beachy life with family! Maybe I need to ask Alexa to play some waves crashing on the shore! Thank you, Susan. What a blessing you are!

    • sbranch says:

      Good idea! My girlfriend also lived in a land-locked place, so she made a “Martha’s Vineyard Room” ~ all in greens and blues, and everything beachy, sea shells, barnwood, etc. Waves would be the perfect background!

  63. Bobetta Douglas says:

    What wonderful memories you have helped create for your sweet nieces and nephews! It looks like you all had a wonderful time being together! My sweet (and very energetic) nephews have been on Martha’s Vineyard this past week visiting their Grandparents at “the Farm”. From the pictures their Dad (my brother-in-law) has been sharing it looks like they are having many adventures too.
    I received my beautiful Bluebird mug a few days ago and just love it. It is surprising light and the handle is so comfy to hold. Thank you for designing them in such a thoughtful way. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Getting to visit your magical island is on my bucket list so i will just keep dreaming until it comes true!

    • sbranch says:

      You’ll love it Bobetta … it’s a very special place, but I’m partial, as I’m sure you can tell!

  64. Sandy Artman says:

    Hi, Susan,
    It just warmed my heart to see the pictures of your family visit. I have 6 siblings and keeping track of names and who belongs to who is daunting to anyone outside the family. I’m in awe of anyone that even tries!
    I am traveling from CA to MD to visit with my twin sister in another week. To make my visit extra special, I ordered 2 Bluebird of Happiness cups to be shipped to her house. Seeing the arrival of your cups made me excited about sitting with my sister, sipping tea and basking in the pure joy of being together!
    Thank you for being you!
    Blessings, Sandy

  65. dena says:

    lovely time with the family , but if like me , they will be missed , but its nice when home is all quiet again.

  66. Toni Moriarty, from Sylvania OH says:

    Dear Susan…LOVED your post! It was ‘chucked-full’ of wonderfulness:-)))
    Would love prayers for our 16 y.o. granson, who is fighting Burkett’s lymphoma and the horrid side effects of Chemo. It seems that he will never be the same. His personality is sooo different…not the same happier kid he was. Prayers also for his Mom, Dad and siblings. It is soooo hard on the family..other kids are 14, 12, 8 and 4. Our daughter spent 6 months with him in Houston for trt., have not been home long. Just tears my heart out:-(
    Enjoy ‘your’ island. Would love to visit. Bless you my child..affectionately, Toni

    • sbranch says:

      Thinking of your family right now Toni. I’m sorry, life does hand us some terrible challenges, but it’s particularly hard when it’s a child, just beginning. Blessings on you all. xoxoxo

    • Christie Levin says:

      Hello dear Toni, Your grandson and you and your family are in my prayers, too. Such an extra hard road to walk when a child is suffering. I hope you all feel comforted by the love surrounding you. xoxoxo Christie

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Toni, my precious step daughter was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at 8 years old. Her parents, one my husband were told there were no long term survivors. And there weren’t at that time.

        Today, she is 47. She does have a few lingering issues from the radiation, but she’s a happy, healthy kindergarten teacher, and the light of our lives!!!

        Hang in there! Debbie in Maine

  67. Bonnie in Ohio says:

    I really enjoyed the pictures of your family visit. Wonderful way to spend part of your summer! And the memories will indeed linger for all.
    One thing that stood out to me was the fact that the kids were playing, swimming, reading – no sign of a tablet or phone – Hooray! I was so pleased about that. Kudos to their parents.
    Thanks for all you share with us!

    • FayE in CA! says:

      Isn’t it interesting when we see photos or go to events where children are playing…”old-time-playing”…hands free and ears unplugged. When I see that I think that it is such a “vintage look.” My daughter’s family knows how to play without devices in their hands. My son’s family goes to sleep connected. So sad. My daughter’s kids 10 & 7 are easily conversational…like having an adult conversation at times even tho our subject is not adult. Hard to chat with my son’s family without digging by asking another question…another question…another. Hate it!

      Growing up with a bicycle, clothespins and a deck of cards to pin to the spokes kept my sister and I busy rounding the block a bazillion times.
      Technology is an addiction for families today…and there is sadly no cure. It makes me sad that like drugs…one sniff isn’t enough…they must carry their phones riding horses, sitting on the beach, in theaters, checking out in stores, talking to Grandma, a part of the place setting at the home dinner or restaurant tables. I have watched families and groups of people dining out and everyone is on their phones. Kids and parents/grandparents aren’t looking or talking with each other and neither is the group of friends. I have seen a group of high school students standing together and ALL of them were looking at their phones…probably texting the friend standing across from them in the group!

      Let’s not even go here…texting, messaging on the phone while driving…and the deconstruction of our beautiful written word.

      Yes, nostalgia and playing are our memories. REAL playing…muscles working, eyeballs two-to-two, giggles mingling…we were lucky to grow up in the 50’s 60’s 70’s and my kids into the 80’s. With all of the “problems” in society during those decades they seem like a flea on an elephant at this point! I feel blessed that our kids and myself were able to be kids “back in the days” when kids were silly, carefree, adventurous, and not peer-pressured daily with today’s favorite toy…the phone…able to run free outdoors without parents worrying about their safety. Wish we could turn back the clock because society is losing something important.

      I received your cups quickly, Susan. Beautiful. My Matha’s Vineyard cup is “on display” with a beach scene set up inside it…blue aquarium stones for ocean, potting soil for beach, mini beach chair and sweet beach sign. I love MV and when I look at your cup all decked out in summer-beach-delight, I smile because I am taken back to a MV summer. (I left the “r” out of Martha to give it a MA accent!) MV cup turned out to be a nostalgic decor item for me! Loving it.

      We had our daughter’s family (MA) here in CA for a week. The backyard is SO quiet now, but I can actually see my floors again!! AND! more importantly…Grayson, my sweet cat, can roam without his eyes and ears on alert and furry feet at-the-ready to scurry back to our bedroom for safety from busy-busy Grandgirls!

      Well…best wishes to Girlfriends adventuring through cancer. Your notes show strength and spirits fortified with positive hope for your futures. You share courage that has been experienced and give courage to those treading rough waters and those of us to hear the “C” word referring to ourselves one day. Thanks for role-modeling for invisible Girlfriends here on Susan’s beautiful blog land of caring.

      Cheers and thanks…as always, Susan. Whisker kisses and ankle hugs from Grayson (and me) to Jack. Tell Jack to share an ankle hug with Joe!

      Faye in CA!

  68. Julie says:

    Beautiful family! What a fun vacation they had – those kids will talk about that for years… “Remember when we built a rocket ship in Auntie Susan and Uncle Joe’s back yard?” “Remember when Uncle Joe showed us how to shuck clams? Ewwwww!” Congratulations to Kerrie – I have that Beatrix Potter Scrapbook (my BFF gave it to me a few years ago) and it’s amazing. I love all your posts, and this one, too, but especially, I noted that you have NEWS coming in the Willard! Yippee!

    My beautiful new cups arrived the other day – my coffee is in one of them right now, and all’s right with the world…

  69. Enjoy your tea, for I’m beginning to think I need more coffee, though it’s already 3 p.m. Despite all these lovelies and wonderfuls and beautiful family and happy times and such moments as come to few and are remembered forever, I’m still giggling at MY SILLY SELF, for thinking for a moment that you’d rented a BUBBLE MACHINE for your lawn. Even had a fancy cord running to it, and everything.

    Rocket ship is so much more apt and imaginative. Why, I think I have every component of that Rocket Science in my house, as well. What adventures, what joy!

    Thank you for it all.


  70. Debby Rickett says:

    Love you, sweet Sue!!!
    Another lovely post! What a wonderful time with your family. Thank you for always sharing such precious pieces of your life. You really are real…. I love that the most about you.
    So happy you got your cups! I am enjoying my MV cup. It was above my expectations 🙂
    Congratulations Kerrie Foley! I hope you enjoy the most amazing gift EVER!
    xxoo Debby

  71. Joanne Vyce says:

    Hi Susan, I loved the family pictures and your comment about letting the screen door slam. That happened so many times on Cape Cod vacations with my family. One doesn’t seem to mind the slamming as much on vacation in a cottage by the sea. Thanks for the memories!
    Joanne in Halfmoon, NY

  72. Charissa says:

    PS I forgot to say CONGRATULATIONS TO KERRIE!!! So happy for you 🙂 Also, to Susan and all the Girlfriends…. Anne With An E renewed for 2nd season with 2 more episodes than the first! Coming in 2018. woohoo

  73. Linda says:

    And where was your shadow while your extended family was visiting? It would be cute to see his interactions with them!

    • sbranch says:

      He spent most of his time dodging the small ones, I think. He was oddly MIA. Normally draped over the kitchen table when we have visitors, but this was a rather large group that never went away!

  74. Ruth Klunder says:

    While reading about and seeing your wonderful family visiting you and Joe, I thought about all of the wonderful memories we had for many summers. As teachers, we were able to spend many summers being curators and caretakers of a precious little lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan called the WHITE RIVER LIGHT STATION built in 1875. We too had so many visitors who would be thrilled to see the area and sleep in a lighthouse…EEEK!!! We took them to the all you can eat peel and eat shrimp place. I introduced the “girls” to the money plant. They would come back with armloads of green plants, and would anxiously wait for them to dry so as to peel off the outer layers to reveal the shiny opaque centers. We climbed the rocks on the channel and picked up beautiful stones and driftwood on the beach. We found acres of black-eyed Susans…But the best part was sleeping on cots up in the exhibit room. Oh, so many memories. Summers are so grand…such a blessing. Thank you for sharing your time with your dear ones…xoxoxoxo

  75. Janet Hundley says:

    I feel like I’ve had a quick vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. Thanks, Susan!

  76. What a beautiful post about summer on your beautiful island and your family coming to visit! I was excited about the very end because I wanted to comment that I just returned from Point Chautauqua yesterday and my beautiful blue bird mug was waiting for me. So wonderful. The quality of the clay body is excellent and your art! Wow! I love it. It makes me happy every time I look at it! Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      I just got mine, and feel the same way! I am drinking double my normal amount of tea ~ breaking them in!

  77. Darlene Westmoreland says:

    My beautiful mugs arrived this week. Love all 3 of the ones I ordered. The autumn mug with the cute little squirrel is my favorite (the perfect size). Thank you so much!
    Are there any more mugs in our near future (this year)?

  78. Joann says:

    What a lovely post about summer fun, family, children, delightful chaos, and memories made. It’s beautiful in so many ways………..and now the peace and quiet become gifts of rest and reflection, too………..and your walks continue, your creativity continues……….and everything we love about you continues. Summer is turning for me…..turning over the memories of my mom and all I can do to move forward. Like losing your Dad, there is never a good time. We never want to lose anyone.
    If anyone is in Colorado and knows about the Gardens on Spring Creek, go check out a special class that I’m doing with daughter Cadie. We are inspired by you…… KNOW that!!!!! You call us girlfriends, but we call you family, because unlike yours, ours is tiny………but growing!! More to come on that later……Here’s the post:

    I hope summer continues to bless you with warm sunshine, soft breezes, lovely flowers, and MORE tomatoes!!!
    Thank you for a beautiful post!!

    Joann xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry Joann, no, there is never a good time. Blessings on your “growing” (love the sound of that) family. xoxo

  79. Deborah in the fields of Michigan says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all the fun activities you did with some of your family. Good times, warm memories to cherish. God is so good. Happy August to you, dear Susan.

  80. Carmel says:

    I always love your blog but especially when you share your times with family and friends. What a wonderful, loving, fun time spent together. I see some of the girlfriends have had similar good times with their families. I just see a sweet, loving God in all of it. And it seems to be raining SB mugs all over the country. Soon, 2 of them will drop down here in Arlington, VA. Can’t wait!

  81. Rhonda D. says:

    Loved seeing all the photos of your family enjoying summer fun on MV with you and Joe. (Especially the one of you and Joe at the picnic table). Nice to see you relaxing and just enjoying life. My granddaughters were here visiting with us and my whole house looked like your yard. But, oh so much fun with trips to the zoo, the splash park, and just the lawn sprinkler for them to run and jump in.
    I got my new issue of Bliss Victoria for September, the British issue. I see they have a Jane Austin Festival in Bath that looks like so much fun. Also noticed a book called “The Art of Beatrix Potter” that I hadn’t seen before. Lots of fun things to explore in this issue.
    The reminder of the screen door slamming brings back so many memories. Hope you enjoy the rest of the lazy days of summer. It will soon be fall. I noticed some red leaves on my Burning Bush the other day.

  82. Making memories. The best of summer’s….family vacations and get togethers. These children will hold the special memories all their lives. I have forgotten many things over the years but not those summers of fun with my cousins and aunts and uncles.

  83. Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W Tx says:

    Congratulations to Kerrie!! So did you just die when you got the news!? Maybe just a state of shock! ❤️😀
    I burst out laughing when I saw your backyard! Just delightful! So wonderful to see children who’s heads were not stuck in a phone or IPad! It is truly how I remember summer. I don’t think anyone enjoys summer more than children! I could almost hear the voices and the laughter.
    ALSO…..I got my cups! 👏👏👏👏👏👏👌. Has anyone else noticed that each box was sealed with a sticker that was for that particular cup? I hated to tear it!! So cute and so Susan.
    They got here just in time. One of the Autumn cups I am sending back to school with my granddaughter. She is headed back to Seton Hall this coming Monday. She is renting a house with some other girls and is anxious to get back! All the cups are just wonderful and I can’t decide what to use first. I may let Jim use the bluebird cup, that was always his phrase, Bluebird of Happiness and his outlook on life! (I will just buy a backup in case he breaks it!)
    Thanks for reminding us all what summer should be about!

    • sbranch says:

      I have to give credit where credit is due, it’s Kellee and Sheri that made those wonderful stickers for the cup boxes! Because they are amazing girls, that’s why. 👏 Love that you love them Chris! I’ll let them know. xoxo

  84. Jenna Wolfe says:

    I am loving my cups! I’m drinking out of my bluebird cup now…..PG Tips, oh so good. I love my autumn and earth love too. Hard to decide which to use! They are so well made and keep my tea so warm.

    • sbranch says:

      Happy – happy – happy!!! Love PG Tips, haven’t had it for a while, thank you for the reminder!

  85. Mary/Indiana says:

    Lovely family time chockful of memories😍😎
    Yesterday was my Bday and I thought for sure
    my Bluebird mug would be in the mail…not😢
    Today (the day after) would be good too!😍😍
    Either way, enjoyed your blog, as always, Susan😍
    Looking forward to your, Willard, too😍😎😍

  86. I’m leaving in two weeks for a fun adventure (a year in Maine), and I’ve been saying, “I’m going to dig for clams just like Julia Roberts did in ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’!” and eat lobstah with people who say lobstah! And generally driving everyone around here crazy, so I tried to stop saying it. But then I read your blog, and there were clams! And lobstahs! So much fun, and what a great reminder you gave us to enjoy what’s left of summer. We can’t eat oysters here in warm weather, the Gulf water gets too warm, so it will be nice to get to that icy Atlantic and eat all the oysters, all the time. Took me a while to like them too, but aren’t they divine when they are very very cold, on the half shell with a spritz of lemon? A restaurant in New Orleans serves them with a tiny dab of icy lemon granita on top, and that’s the kind of lily-gilding I can get behind! Anyway, sorry to ramble, I just get a little excited and your blog posts are always so much fun and so wonderful. And seeing your nieces at that perfect age, still young and wild (in the best sense of that word, I think you know what I mean, before they get kind of constrained by the world), was so wonderful, made me miss my niece and call her. Thanks for being such a cheerful and happy person; we have to stick together I think. Strength in numbers!

    • sbranch says:

      LOVE that icy granita! I know you will have a fabulous time with the lobstahs! A year in beautiful Maine, enjoy Melissa, four thrilling seasons and all the oysters you can eat!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Hey Melissa, I grew up next door in Mississippi. My best friend and I would dream of living on the Coast O’ Maine. I thought of it often the years of teaching in Florida where it got to the 100’s in May. Several of my schools had no AC, so I’ll evoke Maine in my mind.
      Now, here I am, living in Maine. Part-time. I send you the very best. While Lobstah is good, it’s the fabulous people I love best.
      Debbie in Maine

  87. Terry says:

    Hi Susan!
    I so enjoyed this post! My heart jumps for joy every time I see a blog post from you in my in-box. Enjoy the final days of summer! I am!

  88. How fun to see your family and the joy of the children, who make our lives so special!! I also, enjoy my great grand boys and just love them to pieces! They put such smiles on our faces!! They are 2 and 4 years old. Thanks for making my day special with you’re charming art work! I love it so much. Happy days!
    Huggins, Marie Fluck

  89. Patti Fitzgerald from Skippack, PA says:

    Dear Susan, what lovely summer memories you’ve created for those four precious children! I guarantee that they will never, ever forget their summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard with Aunt Susan and Uncle Joe! I have many happy memories of summer on Long Beach Island, NJ with Aunt Dot and Uncle Bob – – and my daughters have many happy memories of summer in Cape May, NJ with Aunt Rose Mary, Aunt Jane and Uncle Mike! Thank you for that breath of fresh, salty air!
    And now a new Willard to anticipate . . . what a treasure trove of gifts you’ve given us!! We are “garden-sitting” for our neighbors (who are also our friends!), and so we have also been enjoying fresh tomatoes from the vines – yummy!
    And that quote from Jane Austen about hot weather making her feel that she’s in a “continual state of inelegance” . . . . I couldn’t stop laughing!! So true, so very true – – I’m committing that one to memory!

    Thank you so much, Susan, for being true to yourself, and sharing that beautiful self with all of us. When I read the comments from other Girlfriends, I realize how very much we all need the gifts that you so freely share with all of us. I hope that I speak for the others when I say that you have touched our lives in ways that perhaps you may never know or understand. I truly believe that you are living God’s plan for your life, and to that I say . . . . Alleluia and Amen!!!

  90. Barbara A Case IN says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Received my mugs the 7th ……Wonderful !!! Blog is wonderful too !! Enjoy the rest of the summer !!

  91. sylvia in seattle says:

    Loved all the pics of your nephews and nieces frolicking in your yard and such. I’ll bet they will savor memories of you and Joe and their stay with you forever. Just clapped eyes on your Iowa Gramma’s darling dress in the recent Twitter picture with Willard. I LOVE IT. I would wear a version of that now if I could find a pattern. Kind of looks like a wrap-around apron. I wonder if you will ever paint a version of this some time? An idea maybe – like you need any more! I’m rereading Fairy Tale Girl to sooth myself to sleep at night while blotting out “the news”. Hoping my Bluebird cup arrives today!

    • sbranch says:

      I look at that dress and wonder if it actually IS an apron. They used to really make some clothes-covering aprons in the 1930s. Good luck with the soothing, dearheart. xoxo

  92. Merci says:

    What a beautiful and awesome story – how I love family! I grew up with a ton of cousins and we also had so much fun when we were young; oh, the wonderful memories, all brought back to me! Thank you! Received my Christmas mugs, I am so happy with them; absolutely beautiful! I especially like the thin rim. I tell my husband my mouth is too dainty to drink out of a fat lipped mug! Ha-ha-ha!!!
    Congratulations to Kerri! Someday it may be my turn, one never knows!

  93. Nancy in Carnation says:

    Thank you for sharing…I’ve missed you! We’ve been having family time on our favorite river, enjoying sand, sun and all the cousins…fam from far and wide! <3 I, too, LOVE the sound of my screen door slamming all summer long…brings back memories of days gone by, but also a good reminder of the joy we have right this very minute. Big hugs!

  94. Connie Pruitt says:

    I love your blog.

  95. Trace Stavros says:

    Oh my Stars and Applesauce was this a fun post.
    I agree it felt like I was there and part of your beautiful family.
    Woolie Blessings

  96. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    Loving summer – but got an email from PBS announcing a new season of Poldark begins October 1! Ooh la la! Kitty and me cuddled up under a quilt with my Autumn mug and popcorn, watching Poldark. Now there’s something to look forward to!

  97. Bev in Michigan says:

    Beautiful! Your blog brought to mind all the delights of a child! We’ve got to savor all those precious delights too. And don’t you just love the honesty of children? One day as we were going somewhere together my little granddaughter looked at me in my (stylish to me!) black and white polka dot capris and said “Grandma why are you wearing your pajamas??”
    I’m sure your family will long remember visiting Aunt Susan for summer vacation. I’m looking forward to Willard!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, there you go! I gave a talk to a grammar school group one time, maybe 8 or 9 years old, about making books. When it came to question time, the first two were 1. How old are you? and 2. How much money do you make? I loved them! Still makes me laugh!

  98. Sallyhicks says:

    Dear Susan how lucky you are not to be an only child. So pleased to see Joe has family too.

  99. Shelley S says:

    Surprise! Another great Susan post! What a fun visit. Sharing your days with kids keeps us young. The food made me so hungry and it’s 3:30 a.m. as I write this!

    We live in Texas and it’s usually hot and dry in August, but it’s been cool and wet, so far and I have apples that are falling off my tree that need to be gathered up and made into jelly. Feels like fall–well sort of…so I got out your Autumn cookbook and got all excited about cooking from it again. (It is my favorite of your cookbooks!) Kids in our neighborhood go back to school soon…the day of the solar eclipse. Time marches on.

    I must have a cup!

    Enjoy the rest of your summer, my friend! Kiss your shadow for me…Jack.

    –ShellEy in Texas

  100. Regina Carretta says:

    Susan – continue to be the voice, the palette of color and life, and friendship and sharing memories, the author of books that we keep going back to and reading again and again….continue to inspire us to do our own watercolors, our own potato salads, our own garden designs… do continue to shine that light on us, on our piece of the world…..I can’t thank you enough….. from
    Seattle (recovering from the smoke downwind from Canada for the 10th day….sending positive thoughts to the people of British Columbia who have been handling the fires, causing the haze and lingering smoke)

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