Hi everyone! Let’s see, where were we? Well, let’s not go to where we were, let’s move ahead to where we are! Lots going on in the Heart of the Home these red-letter days, almost too much. I’ll catch you up with some of it now, and save the rest for the April 19th Willard!  Have I told you lately that I love you? Well, I do . . . MUSICAflowerborderIMG_6803

Dawn breaks in my kitchen, and the outline of the rabbit ears just makes my Good Friday morning.  Run, go get the camera. Love the sunrise as it filters through the trees in our garden, into the windows, landing on my Beatrix Potter People and those bunny ears saying, spring, spring, spring.musicIMG_6795

It’s doing the same thing outside. A stormy sky is background to the white steeple across the street when the sun peeks through the cloud cover and splashes it with light through the trees. Isn’t that a perfect Easter scene? So New England, so full of

IslandCharmBlueBirdIt’s spring again, and the robins are bobbin’ along . . . we are so lucky.


And that isn’t all. A big brown UPS truck pulled up out front yesterday ~ I could see him through my studio window, I jumped out of my chair, and Steve, the driver, and I walked together, him, outside, carrying a box up my driveway, me inside, seeing him through the windows as I walked through the living room, then the wood room, meeting him at the kitchen door . . . me thinking, could it be? It seems early! Steve, seeing my eager face, teasing me, holding the box back for a second and making me laugh.


It was from the printer who sends us stuff all the time, but I got the camera, because it looked like it, it felt like it, and just in case, I wanted to do a “You are there” moment, for my Girlfriends who’ve stood by me through this entire long process of book making!


And it was! The first two copies, hot off the press . . . There is something SO scary/exciting about a new book, keeping a diarymakes my hands shake and stomach quiver . . . I will never get used to it. And coming from my diaries, this one is especially scary. Suddenly the poor little thing is on its own, off to see the wizard with protective mommy getting further behind, singing Que Sera Sera and hoping for the


I took my time and looked her over carefully. Did she have all her fingers? Toes? What color were her eyes? (Blue.) I’m counting time by heart throbs. Ba-bump,

something about the light

I opened it . . . and thought Oh, my, welcome to 1982 and my first little house on Martha’s Vineyard. From this photo above? I still put that rabbit head over the wood container with flowers on the wall next to our door every year, and the garden sign at the bottom is now in my picket fence garden, waiting for the tulips to bloom around it. The pumpkin bit the dirt a long time ago, but I’m still madly in love with dappled things.

photo 1-13

And this. I can’t wait to take you there . . . you are going to love it!


I opened the book, and began to turn the pages . . . and there they all were, just like I painted them, just like they were supposed to be! Oh yes, a ribbon marker too. Her eyes are blue, and her ribbon is sea green. 368 pages of pretty paper, good deep color, recipes and zillions of photos . . . 



I always felt bad about leaving that cliff hanger in The Fairy Tale Girl ~ it was cruel and inhuman of me . . . I am so glad that is almost over! Here we go! . . . The Fairy Tale Girl was the Appetizer, A Fine Romance was dessert (which we ate first, because that’s who we are) and now, for the Main Course, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams. I hope it’s been long enough so that you are very hungry!



I could not leave out one of my very favorite quotes. This new book is full of quotes, definitely more than any of my other books, and mostly ones you’ve never heard from me before . . . because I wrote about the inspiration that made me put them in my first book way back then . . .

pink flowers


And the inspiration for my love of train travel is there too, and the reason I got started with it, and my interesting run-in with John Madden, the famous football coach, on that first trip, which you don’t know about so far, but you will . . .flowersIMG_6856

And my dad . . . we received two books, one for me to show you, and the other one went off to Blogdaddy yesterday (along with a bag of wisteria seeds that have been popping off our climbers all week). I am SO excited for him to get the book (and the seeds)! I know you know! As far as I can tell we are still on schedule for delivery of YOUR books . . . I think you should have them in hand by the second week in April, yes, and they will all be signed, I’ve been signing book plates for every book. And for those waiting to get the books in stores, I think they’ll arrive maybe 2 weeks later ~ we ship to our Girlfriends who’ve ordered first, then the stores (and then I imagine they have some processing to do when they get there), so for sure by the first week in May, we have a Mother’s Day pub date .flowers


I’m almost done with all the projects I’ve been working on for so long. I decided to make my 30th year a banner year the best way I knew how. BTW, note the space I have to work in? I’m lucky I get that. If you don’t think there are kitty hairs worked into each and every watercolor, then you don’t know from kitty hairs. What are you watercoloring, some might ask . . . and I would answer, for this I actually got to relive the writing of my first book . . . and feel again all the hopes and dreams that went into it. flowersIMG_6834

Never in my wildest dreams did I think, when I was sitting at the dining room table in my first little house on the Island, recovering from a broken heart and heartofthehometrying to write a book, not knowing how, and not knowing whether I would ever find a publisher, that 30 years later, I would be celebrating its birthday like this!  This is a mockup for the new cover (which will take the place of the ← old one). I promise, it won’t look so glued together when you see it in person. And I already changed it a little. I didn’t like “revised and enlarged,” at the bottom because it sounded like I made the pages larger, or the print larger or something . . . so I changed it to this . . .


The finished book will still have the gold banner but it will say,”revised and expanded,” since that is what it really is. Words. Gotta love ’em. And I loved every second of the expanding! I wrote a angelartlong forward for it, added lots of new recipes and art, new quotes too, and a much more complete Index. You know this was my first child, I love her very much and I hope she will meet a whole new generation of newlyweds, best friends, sisters, nieces and all the other lucky people who know that cooking is an art, but that it’s mostly a giving thing. This is my Christmas present to everyone. It will be in stores around September first, but in our own webstore for our Girlfriends in June. . . I’ll let you know when it goes up for presale, just trying to let Kellee get her breath from all she has to do about the one that came in the box yesterday!flowers

IMG_5450AND, in the meantime . . . Joe and I are walking every day, getting wisps of spring breezes, smelling the warming earth (smells like chilled leaf compost), seeing the trees beginning to bud, going to the shore and listening to the birds cry as they swoop and dive into the waves . . . It’s happening again, just when you think it might not. It’s GORGEOUS out there this morning and we are heading out as soon as I say good bye to you. 

IMG_5506It’s the perfect place to say our Easter prayers . . . we have so much to be grateful for. Our health and family and home and love, warm beds and applesauce and cottage cheese, and tea and kitties, not just today, but every day. With current events as they are, its up to us to hug each other tight and never let go.


We’re having a pork roast for Easter dinner, and, as usual, I’m making this delicious fruit compote to go with it . . . it’s on page 59 of Heart of the Home, if you have it, but if not, here it is . . . it’s also an old-fashioned perfect “Grandma dinner” with lamb or ham! For the people you love. spring bunny

Easter cake

I know most of you have seen this recipe many times, but we have new Girlfriends coming to the blog all the time, and this Bunny Cake is so easy and so fun and so festive and so kid-like, it’s always worth a little reminder. No matter our age, we all have a bit of kid lurking inside ~ which it’s good to nurture! For the Joy, because . . .fun is good

Bunny Cake somebunnyAnd now, last but not least, I have a secret (I actually have two) but the one I’m telling you about now has to do with fabric. And that’s all I’m saying. One cliff hanger down and one to take its place. Anyone have a favorite fabric of mine that they wish had not gone away? Love to hear about it! Love to hear about anything you want to talk about! Love YOU! Happy weekend! Make kindness your middle name. Bird and heart ... With love from Susan Branch

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Rainy Day on Martha’s Vineyard

8 am on a rainy day on Martha’s Vineyard. I slept in to 5 am this morning, which I think would be about 9 am in normal-people time. I LOVED it!  A red letter day! Joe just made us a fire and Dark Victory is on TV. I feel so happy because by this time next week I will be totally and completely done with all work I assigned myself. All I will have to do is plant the garden and write us a new Willard before I go. Here’s the song I woke up singing this morning: MUSICA (let it play for a moment and it will wrap magic around you).

heart of thehome

I almost haven’t missed Downton (almost) because I’ve been so busy with my newest and last project for 2016. I’m getting my first book, Heart of the Home, ready for it’s 30th Anniversary. It’s, as they say,  “revised and expanded” ~ what started as a 160 page book has grown to 176 pages, with lots of new recipes, quotes, and art.  Thirty years! Can you believe it? My first baby is 30. It’s been like stepping back in time because I’m doing the pages just like I did them originally . . .


Ruler, pencil and eraser, pen and ink and watercolors . . . while listening to old movies . . . just like in 1986 . . .

Pie tops for Heart of the Home. . . I’ve been painting (and cooking) tomatoes and pies . . .

Heart of the HomeAnd chickens . . . and bowls and jars and spoons and all sorts of fun things.



I’ve picked out a bright red grosgrain ribbon for the bookmark (my first book didn’t have a ribbon originally, but it will now). I’m designing new endpapers my paint box(they were just plain white before), and I’m adding a new border to the cover . . . While I’m doing it I feel myself back at that dining room table in my first little house on the Island 30 years ago (as you’ll see when you get Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, because I write all about it there). Which means, perhaps, that it’s not just a trilogy of books I’ve done anymore, now it’s a, what is it, a quad? A quadroopalidge?  This new version of Heart of the Home dots the i and crosses the t of all of my last three books, plus snow treeyou’ll have a new cookbook for Christmas.  So while we are sailing over the Atlantic, you’ll have something new to look forward to. I’ve been thinking of you the whole time I’ve been doing it, asking myself “what would they like?” . . . and because of that, I think you are going to love it even better than the first one!my paintbrush, doing what comes naturally

cranberry coffee cake

Remember that Cranberry Tea Cake, (with butter and sugar and eggs and cranberries and oranges and sticky pecans that put together say,”I love you”)  I told you about months ago that I was “saving?” Well, I’m not saving it anymore!from me to you with loveIMG_6123

It’s finally going to be yours . . . it’s been horrible saving this recipe, it’s so delicious and not in my nature to be a hoarder, but now I’m glad I saved it! rose and hearts


I’ve been having a wonderful time being back in the cookbook business! It’s a very creative place to be.pinksugarfrostingYes, there will!

vanilla goes into the bowlJoe has been enjoying it too . . .

I have a question ~ I need you to tell me what to do . . . See this?



I was thinking about substituting one of the other recipes with this  . . . it’s already printed in A Fine Romance, and you may already have it, but maybe it My stovetopwould be easier to remember if it were in a cookbook? What do you think?  It’s SO delicious, I don’t want anyone to forget about it . . . I also don’t want to take away the essence of the 1986 cookbook, but I do want to make it extra special for you. I only get to add 16 recipes, which I’ve already done . . . so, if I put this in, I would have to take something out. Which isn’t hard to do, how many cakes are there that serve 24 people? Gluten free? And I think this cake is REALLY good! So, if you want it, I’ll be happy to include it, and I won’t feel bad if you don’t because it’s already in A Fine Romance! Tell me what you think!Cheesecake

What makes it especially fun is that there are already so many good recipes in this book, it’s a great foundation to add on to! And don’t worry, I wouldn’t take this  out!cooking-is-an-art

making gazpachoHeart of the Home will still have the best loved recipes in it . . . I’ve added what I hope will be future best loved and family favorites. I’m not going to show you anymore because I want it to be a surprise!springstripofflowers


I got the cutest new thing. A girlfriend sent me a homemade card that had this teeny little watering can glued to it as a decoration . . . you can see how little it is compared to my Beatrix Potter Person . . .snow drops. . . just the perfect size for the snow drops . . . so I pulled it off the card and now it takes center stage on my dish shelf to show off the snow drops . . .

snowdrops. . . that are taking over our yard . . . in the best possible way.  And today, they are being drenched with rain.

Did any of you see the series called TURN?  It’s a true story about a spy ring for the American side (best-friend twenty-somethings who’ve known each other since childhood) during the Revolutionary War.  I saw season one maybe three or four times now ~ it’s flagSO GOOD . . . but I could never find season two . . . by the time I found season one on Netflix, season two on AMC had already passed, and for some reason Netflix didn’t get season two, so I just figured (sadly) that the series wasn’t going to make it.  BUT, I just heard that season three is going to start on AMC on April 25! They are repeating season one on AMC now (hopefully we’ll get to see season two sometime before the new one starts). I think you would love it . . . look at a trailer HERE. It has a wonderful treacherously-threatening theme song, I sang it to Joe when he came down the stairs this morning . . . “There’s snakes in the garden . . .” Love to see him roll his eyes and this song (the way I sing it) does the trick. P.S. There is some violence in this series, NOTHING like what some of them have, but still . . . I found it very easy to get through because I just close my eyes and it doesn’t go on forever. There is this hideous horrible sick nutcase of an officer that causes all the trouble that makes you wish he was dead, and you hope, when they do kill him, which won’t be soon enough, they will do it out behind the barn and just tell us it happened.  He is SO BAD. We will love to hate him. See what you think!

So a couple more sneak-peeks and then I will us all get back to work .MarchTopArtSneak-peek number one . . . is a  page from the 2017 calendar which will be coming out in July . . . Like it?MVYankeeAdAnd my full-page ad to go in the May/June issue of Yankee Magazine . . .ThreeBooksSo that when I go out to sign my children at the end of April, someone will know about them!  I hope! I hear that lots of you are coming to the signings and I can’t wait to meet you . . . isn’t it interesting that even though you think a certain time will NEVER get here, sooner or later, it does!? I can’t believe that soon we will be driving out of our driveway . . . cooler stuffed with road food, tears still drying from saying goodbye to the kitties . . . heading for the boat and points west . . .

Girl Kitty kitten


Bye for now Girlfriends . . . answer all my questions, please!  Have a wonderful day! ♥ XOXO

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