Of course our blog is wearing green today, it would not like to be pinched!  But I am now on my fourth try to write a new post!  The first three failed because important memories or perfect descriptions have been crashing into my best intentions demanding to be added to the new book before I forgot them.  I will try my best to stay focused here!  This will help . . . MUSICA made in heaven.  First a little something to make your mouth water . . .

susan-branch-irish-stew Happy Saint Patricks Day Everyone!    How’s it going for you so far?  I don’t know if you have a special something you like to make in honor of the day, but this ↑ is our favorite recipe for stew.  It’s very different, it has raisins!  Irish BlessingAnd orange juice!  And cayenne!  And nutmeg of all things!  That’s because I got my hands on it, and thought, those creative Irish, they would forgive me for messing around with their stew.  Yummy, egg noodles, with butter.  Yes.

I know, it says Irish and the only potato is a sweet potato and there’s no Guinness but I would wager you (and that is Irish) that the flavor of this stew will make you jump up to do your own version of  Riverdance, from happiness.  

For more wonderful Irish things that don’t make total sense to us go HERE and laugh.  And HERE, for a wee taste o’ some things that make Ireland so wonderful.  And here’s to a day of love and blessed luck for you all! ♣

jack in the basket

Had to show you Jack this morning!  He is in a very feisty mood.  Jack is never in any danger of getting pinched on St. Patricks Day because . . .


. . . he brings his green with him wherever he goes, he is always Wearin’ the Green.

JackHe knows what the camera is now, because he makes me chase him around and he rarely holds still anymore . . .

JackI get the camera and he begins to jump about or roll around so it’s difficult to focus on him.  I have to take LOTS of pictures before I can get one that isn’t totally blurred into oblivion . . . It’s those green eyes I love so much.

IMG_3930He gets bored with me very quickly though . . . Get that thing out of my face, he yawns  . . . (and please, WOMAN, stop kissing me, I am BEGGING you.  You’re messing with my DIGNITY.)

Bye Bye

Or else I will just leave.  Very spoiled, very sure of himself.

Gladys TaberSo I say, OK, be that way, and go into the kitchen to get my newest Gladys Taber Newsletter to show you.  I wanted you to remember that third thing down, in case you’re interested, and remind you to make your plans because I would love to see you there.  

Jack 'n GladysI was trying to show you the article in the Newsletter about the Reunion where I will be speaking and signing copies of A Fine Romance, but of course the minute I don’t pay 100% attention to him, he is back.  Now he wants to play!  I take it any way I can get it.  Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets . . .Stillmeadow

And Lola wants to drape himself on just the parts I would like you to see . . .  

Friends of Gladys TaberI hope lots of you are already a member of the Friends of Gladys Taber?  She has been one of my favorite authors for a long time.  The quarterly newsletters are always delightful, interesting, informative, fun and evocative,  I save them … ↑ here are a few of them from years past.  If you’d like to read more about Gladys Taber, find out how to become a member of her fan club, or get better information about the Reunion in June (and tour her house Stillmeadow),  I did a post about her HERE and put the dates and times at the bottom.

Jack the display catI finally got the Newsletter out from under Lola and on top of him.  He took it rather well before he tore out of the room and up the back stairs.  Like a nut.

spring tea

Let’s see … oh yes, well!   I asked my little-old tea-leaves blender for something Cinnamony and Green for spring, and preferably Caffein Free and they sent me a few packets, some more cinnamony than the others, some more flowery, but I think they got it just right with this one . . . it has body and balanced flavor and smells wonderful . . .

spring tea

Only three more days until the first official day of spring.  Last night after dinner, I sat in front of the fire (because spring-schming around here is the real truth) with a cup of my new Spring Tea and read my Newsletter and I almost didn’t care that it was 28 degrees.  (Ridiculous.)


I also made us some “Celebrating Spring” cards (2nd row from top) that can be used as Greetings cards for spring or Earth Day, as postcards or Easter Dinner invitations,  or even recipe cards — they’re lined on both sides,  are 4″ x 6″ on nice, heavy, uncoated card stock and come in sets of 25.  Happy Spring!

spring bunny

but not least

Best of Stillmeadow

Even if there is no spring (yet) at your house, I can’t tell you how lovely it is to read about a New England Springtime through the eyes and heart of Gladys Taber.  I think this is my favorite of her books, probably because it was my first, but also because it takes you through every month and each season of the year.  Especially good if you can’t make it to the Friends Reunion for Gladys Taber, this is a little


because I am going to sign this lovely book to the lucky one of you whose name is drawn as the winner of this vintage copy (in almost brand new condition) of this out-of-print title published in 1976.  Oh yes!  I found it on a back shelf in a dark corner of a group antique mall on our trip across country and have saved it for today.  Just leave me a comment and you will be automatically entered.


One Last Thing, almost a PS:  There are always lots of fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s day, delicious recipes, lots of parades, prayers at church, and bagpipe music; they even dye the Chicago River green.  But for those of you that would like a more sober look at a piece of Irish history, this lovely MUSICA is practically an Irish National Anthem.  There was a story this Sunday in the New York Times  … my girlfriend Lowely (Finnerty) from two doors over, brought some of her famous (still warm!) Irish Soda Bread to help Joe and I celebrate this morning.  We smeared it with butter and ate it while we prayerread the article and listened to the words of this song together.  Then we cried.  I felt like I wanted to add something meaningful to the celebration, so here you go ~ it’s history we never want to forget.  (Spoiler alert: I must say I don’t agree with those that would politicize this subject as was done with this article, just so you know. There is nothing political about hunger and the story is important; as my mom used to say, there is a difference between right and wrong.  I try and think about it the way St. Patrick would wish for me to do and toss in a bit of common sense for luck . We can’t change the past but as Oprah put it so perfectly, “We did then what we knew how to do; now that we know better, we do better.”)  Blessings to us all dearest Girlfriends. XOXO  (Don’t forget to leave your comment for Best of Stillmeadow!)



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Writing a New Book

There are two screens open on my computer right now, this one I’m writing to you on, and just under it, Word, with seventy-one pages of my new book, a very rough draft, written. Voila!  If you had x-ray vision you could read it.  You KNOW I love to write my blog, but right now I’m addicted, addicted I tell you, to the writing of this book.  I love going back in time to search for magic.  Actually there are three screens open, there’s THIS.


On my art table, oh what an assortment, two of my old diaries are face down and open because I’m reminding myself of inspirations from my youth and my days and thoughts from long ago.  I just found a list I made called “The Secrets of Life.” I’ve made so many lists with names like “What I Want” or “How to be Happy” and they almost all say the same things.

what I want



Between the scribbled pages there are ticket stubs, valentines, polaroid pictures, things cut out from newspapers, notes friends left on my door when I wasn’t home, shopping lists, old Circus cakeletters from my grandma (Every one of them starts “Sue Darling” causing eyes to water and lower lip to protrude) and my mom, and from Diana when I first moved to the island. The recipe for my mom’s Circus Cake (it’s going into book) is peeking out from under them. One of my Junior Classics Stories of Wonder and Magic is open to a fairytale I found while looking for the scary Hobia story my dad used to terrify us with.  It’s called the Brownie and the Cook and it’s written by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik and I think I need to read it.  I just found the part in my diary where I came to the island for the first time.  I’m on the boat, it’s cold outside, the ferry is rocking, I’m drinking hot chocolate and thinking everyone on the boat looks like a Kennedy.  I can see the island coming towards us through ocean-splashed windows.  Who would’a thunk it all these years ago that these diaries would come in so handy one day?  For organization and storytelling.  They are like my own little memory catalogs.  I can see the snow falling out my window from my bed in 1984, get my first kitty in 1976, burn up my first stove in 1974.  It’s all there!  Plenty of cringing going on too.  Ah youth.  I will try to spare you the gory details.  Here’s a pretty piece of MUSICA so you don’t have to think about it.



 In reality, I’m home here on the island and firmly attached to the 21st century; one of my grandma’s knitted nap blankets is over my lap and legs, the light on my desk shines out to the street making a square of yellow on IMG_5130the ground, I have a big cup of lavender and roses tea with honey and cream.  Girl Kitty is on her pillow on my art table and Jack is in the kitchen staring at the floor next to the door.  I don’t know why.  Apparently something is there, but I can’t see it.  He’s been at this spot off and on for several days now.  All’s quiet on the eastern front.  Heater is humming, damp towels are moistening the air, it’s still dark outside, and fingers are clicking away.  Blessings • blessings • blessings. 


I’m waking up these mornings with words jumping out of my head. I can’t get downstairs quite fast enough to get my thoughts down.  This book seems to be writing itself.  I carry paper and pencil everywhere with me.  They’re in the pockets noteof my jacket when we walk out the dirt road in the morning, and on the table next to the bed so if I wake up with a memory or an astute and brilliant thought (like that happens), I can get it down before it disappears in a dream puff or gets crowded out by the next one coming to the top.  Diana’s voice rises up distinct and clear in my head, “Why don’t you go ask him to dance?” I burst into laughter, and run for paper and pen. This book is flowing out of me like a river after a big snow.  Joe is my editor, he reads my pages as we go along, fixes sentences, gives me suggestions.  He’s scanning old photos and getting them ready to put in the book and  working hard not to get his tea bag caught on his glasses. 

tea and books

Only one other thing takes my attention almost as much and that’s another book ~ the one I’m reading written by Donna Tartt called Goldfinch.  I take it upstairs to my exercise bike and as I ride and read my thoughts turn completely away from the  book I’m writing and go into an entirely NEW and all encompassing world. I’m somewhere around page 150, and it sits up there waiting for me like a little jewel.  I’ve been loving the characters and the way the story is going, but suddenly there’s this new character and I don’t like him and I want to scream to the boy, and to all the people supposedly taking care of him, “Don’t go with this guy!!!!!!!”  But I have no power and it looks like we are moving to Las Vegas.


The weather is definitely changing although I’m kind of impervious to it right now.  I notice when we go for our walk there’s definitely more light.  The sun was breaking over our faces out there yesterday, I had to take off my hat.  Also, how about that, daylight saving time?  AGAIN.  It’s giving me a slight case of jet lag.  (I just looked at the clock in here and thought, “Oh, that’s wrong, it’s almost 6:00 ~ need to fix that.)  Another season is slipping into the past.  Have any of you started Christmas shopping yet?  I almost feel like I should begin thinking about it!  I’m going to wake up and it’ll be here!  Fa-la-la-la-la! Help!




I’m trying hard to be healthy which is much more difficult when my mind is elsewhere as it is these days.  I eat apples in the morning, I’m addicted to apples for some reason now, and I have cut-up carrots and celery in the fridge for those moments when I crave SOMETHING and must grab it NOW.  I keep a HUGE bowl studio 036of my favorite crunchy juicy coleslaw in my fridge at all times, with sliced almonds, golden raisins, chopped apple, thinly sliced cabbage, shredded carrot and dressed with mayonnaise thinned with fresh lime juice.  I eat on that practically all day.  I’ll have a baked sweet potato for dinner, or maybe a piece of fresh fish and some broccoli, and there we are.  Not counting the M and M’s  in my desk drawer.  Am I losing weight?  No.  That is not a thing that happens.  But I feel good.  It’s the only way to get through book writing and still be alive at the end of it. Exercise and eating right.  Not quite as easy as it sounds, is it girls?  However . . . we keep on keepin’ on, because . . .

Tickle-me pinkN o   w e   a r e   n o t.

Hope all is well with you guys.  OH!  I just lifted my eyes, guess what?  It’s snowing!  Pretty• pretty• pretty.  Never a dull moment around here.  Well, must go now.  One guess where I’m going?  Yup, just the other side of this screen.  Thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful day!  XOXO, your friend, Anna Susana Branchburger the Third.  Yes, that is me in alternate ego and in full girlfriend mode. 

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