Here’s that delicious bread recipe from Mother Effie at the Holy Nativity Convent (where the beeswax candles came from). MUSICA.

Mother Effie's Whole Wheat Bread

I nibble on it every day.  Lowely, my girlfriend who lives one door over, tried the recipe and gave me another loaf! Precious cargo!  It came out perfectly!

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You can see all the seeds in the bread.  The thinnest slice holds together in your toaster and is the crunchiest of the crunchy.

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So here we go . . . you can copy and paste the recipe, then print it out.  Makes two delicious seedy, oaty, almondy loaves.

  • 1½ c. bulgur
  • 1 3/8 c. boiling water/1¾ c. water
  • 3 c. whole wheat flour/¾ c. whole wheat flour
  • ½ c. vital wheat gluten
  • ½ c. white flour
  • 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ c. millet
  • 1/8 c. flax seeds
  • ¼ c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 c. oats
  • 3 Tbsp. almond meal

home cooking

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1.)  Pour 1 3/8 c. boiling water over bulgur, flax seeds, millet & oats. Set aside to cool.

2.)  Combine 3 c. whole wheat flour, gluten and yeast in mixer bowl.

3.)  Heat 1¾ c. water, honey, oil and salt to about 125°F.

4.)  Slowly pour heated water mix into flour mix in mixer bowl while mixing.  Beat for 2 minutes; cover and let sit for 30 min.

5.)  Combine white flour, ¾ c. whole wheat flour, sunflower seeds & almond meal in a separate bowl.

6.)  After yeast mix has set for 30 min; add the step 5 flour mix and the step 1 bulgur mix alternatively to the yeast mix.  Knead for ten minutes.  Dough should be a little tacky.

7.) Place in a greased bowl; cover and let rise until doubled.

8.) Preheat oven to 350° ~ punch down dough and divide in two; cover and let rest 10 min.  Form 2 loaves, place each in a greased bread pan; cover them and let them rise until doubled.

9.) Put the pans in the preheated oven. Check the bread for doneness at 40 min.  Turn a loaf out into your hand (cover your hand with a potholder) ~ tap the bottom of the bread ~ if it sounds hollow, it’s done, if not, put it back into the pan and into the oven for another five minutes. And that’s it!



HomeSweetHome Susan Branch

kitchen soap

This, my friends, is my Kitchen Soap. I think it’s kind of wonderful. me and Jim "doing dishes"I’ve had this ridged wooden soap “dish” for many years, since I first moved to the island.  I love it because it’s simple and it works.  I wouldn’t have another kind, even after all these years. The soap, sitting on the ridges, dries easily, doesn’t get mungy, and lasts forever.  And the “dish” doesn’t break if it falls into the sink.  I always look for the perfect soap for it, sometimes I get lucky and find bars that fit the way I like them too ~ but recently I got VERY lucky ~ I found someone who would make the perfect soap just for me (and by extension, for you :-)). And here it is:


Wrapped in waxed paper and our own band. It’s Organic Olive Oil, Raw Goat’s Milk and Lavender; smooth, silky, fresh, lightly-scented soap with no little petals in it to rub your skin the wrong way  . . .


I also found the wooden soap holder for it.  Cute for a housewarming gift, or for holiday, or as a stocking stuffer, or for everyday.  So here you go, hope you like it as much as I do!  We’ll carry the soap by itself too.  I told you, it’s the little things, and I meant it.  Reeeely little!

clap your hands

washing lace canopy

I’m clapping my hands because I got a big job of handwashing done this weekend. This doesn’t look like a lobster, despite the lobster pot, it’s actually the lace canopy that goes over our four-poster bed.


Being up there, all laid out like it is, makes it a really good dust catcher . . . I wash it every year just before winter, so it’s clean and nice while the house has to be closed up.  But it’s a two person job getting it down and back up.  Three if you count Jack.  Joe and I take it off (carefully) and shake it outside first.  Then I fill the pot with warm water, add laundry soap and a little gentle bleach ~ and slosh it back and forth squeezing and squeezing until a year’s worth of dirt and dust comes out. 

drying in the sun

We had a gorgeous weekend, about 62º, clear, crisp and breezy, the perfect kind of weekend to get stuff done and watch the leaves beginning to fall. We spread the dripping wet lace on the lawn to dry . . . it’s much too heavy to put on the line quite yet.

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We let the sun do its job and after a while, when the canopy is partially dry and much lighter, I hang it on the line to finish drying.

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Noticing how pretty and colorful the leaves are under the clothesline.

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Then back up the stairs we go, trying not to tangle ourselves in it.  And there she is, for another year, clean, dust-free and smelling good.

my little helper

Speaking of smelling good, here’s our little helper. He thinks canopy-replacing means playtime!  (He thinks everything means playtime, this is the playingest cat in the world.)  Isn’t he adorable????

Couldn’t you just smoosh his little velvet nose?

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

stacking the wood pile

So this is what else we did . . . we got a cord of wood ~ Joe stacked it and I brought him coffee . . .

the wood pile

We are a team.

draining the hoses

He drained the hoses too. Our yard slopes slightly downhill, just enough to empty the hoses.  You have to do this in snow country, let your hoses dry in the sun, otherwise, if there’s water in them, they freeze and split.  This is your normal winter chore.  We never did this in California!  Add it to the list!

owl time

I decorated my stove shelf (with the last two tomatoes from our garden ~ two of our bigger ones I might add, and too cute to eat), and did a bunch of other stuff too, but I’ll save it for next time, because I have another rather wonderful something to show you (just waiting for it to show up before I do).  

2015 calendarRight now I want to ask a big favor of our UK Girlfriends . . . I hope you don’t mind, this is something only a Brit can do.  It’s Amazon UK ~ it doesn’t seem to know my calendar exists.  We worked hard to get it in Amazon UK because shipping is so ridiculous from the states (and even IN the states), we thought it would help.  But I really don’t think anyone knows it’s there.  The thing that would be a huge help is if a couple of our UK Girlfriends could do a review of the calendar?  If it’s not too much trouble, it would be a big help and I’d be forever grateful to you. Just click HERE and it will take you to the right spot.  (P.S. It’s even worse for AUTUMN )

AND for your reward?

a new friend

I was sweeping the kitchen porch and putting out the pumpkins and saw this.  It says “hope” to me the same way as the little engine that could.  

hope for the world


Look at it, all brave and daring.  It knows winter is coming and it doesn’t even care, because even a month in this changing season, hearing the wind in the trees, feeling the breeze run between her leaves, and the color!  And smells of woodsmoke and mulch! Even a month in this beautiful world is worth it.  Look at the moon she’s about to get! Hooray for you, little thing. I crown thee Penelope. I always wanted to crown something.


This is as close as I think I will get.

Bye Girls, see you soon! XOXO Happy happy Autumn to you all! Don’t forget the whipped cream! 


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R A B B I T    R A B B I T   Hello October!  MUSICA



Good Morning, Gypsy Vagabond Girlfriends (and all the rest of you too), Happy October!

this morning

Here’s the view outside our upstairs window this morning.  Rain and blowing leaves for us today.


first fire

Last night, we had our first fire of the season!  



We went away last weekend.  I had a wonderful booksigning and then went up to Exeter, NH (this is our view from the hotel window) to go leaf peeping and graveyard wandering. 


Best of British

pumpkinHere we are, parked in front of Best of British in Newburyport MA. It’s just the most wonderful store ~ the charming owners Bernadette and Bob Williams along with the wonderful people who work there, Cathy, Dolina, Lucy, and Evan — and Wendy Louise who volunteered for the day, made it SO nice for us. (If I forgot anyone, please forgive me!)  The store is in a darling town you should put on your list to see if you are ever in this neck of the woods.  There’s plenty of reason to be here; everything in this area is filled with early history of our country. We went over to Plymouth too, and visited the Mayflower Society House.


They saved us a parking space right out front! (Oh dear, she already has her mouth open!) (Photo borrowed, with permission, from ~ she was there, thank you Karen!)


I signed books for two hours having so much fun because everyone in line was talking and laughing as if they’d known each other forever. It was a Girl Party! Everyone was remembering Joe with the tea bag!  Ha ha ha ha!  We all agreed we have the “best girlfriends” ever!  We even had nuns from the Holy Nativity Convent come to say hello, my first nuns at a booksigning, and they were adorable, you would have loved them like everyone else did.  This is Mother Seraphima.

The Mothers and me

I asked for permission to introduce them to you; they said OK, and so, from left: Mother Pelagia, Mother Xeni, me, Mother Warty pumpkinsSeraphima and Mother Martha, all from the Holy Nativity Convent.  And they’re all Girlfriends on the blog ~ They came because they’re fans of A FINE ROMANCE ~ they drove in from Brookline to have their books signed!  We had such a good time ~ they were so happy and fun to talk to, I was honored (as I was with every person I met) that they came.  They brought me a loaf of amazingly delicious bread, homemade by Mother Effie (who wasn’t with them), which I’ve been eating ever since, feeling very blessed.  

They also brought us these . . .

Beautiful Beeswax

. . . gorgeous, handmade (they make them at the convent) 100% pure Beeswax candles with the delicate delicious scent of honey.  I have one going here in my studio right now, they’re slow burning and don’t drip at all.  And I discovered they sell them on line!  They are so inexpensive I couldn’t wait to tell you about them, what a nice Thanksgiving or Christmas gift . . . only $11 for eight candles! (11 1/2″ long x 3/4″ diameter) . . . Girl Kitty loved them too, here she is this morning,


 . . . wide awake in the holy candlelight at 4:30 am.

Mothers' Bread

I munch this crunchy toast one mouse-bite at a time so it will last as long as possible.  It’s whole wheat with every healthy thing, flax seeds, oats, sunflower seeds, honey and lots more, including bulgur.  Mother Effie sent me the recipe to share ~ I’ll give it to you soon. You will love it! It’s heavenly!


Kale saladOur Girlfriend Martha was also at the signing (I’m sorry to say, we didn’t take enough photos!) and brought me this recipe which I made for dinner last night.  You can print it out if you like.  Lately I’m leaning more and more toward a vegetarian diet, not rigidly, but I like it better, I feel better, so it’s easy to do. So when I saw this HEALTHY recipe from Martha, I said, oh yes, please!

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fresh kale

Here’s how it’s done:  You start with a bunch of kale (try to get organic if you can) ~ wash it and let it dry.


Put the zest of one orange into a small bowl . . .

Kale salad

. . . and mix it with a half-cup of fresh orange juice.

little orange bouquets

Speaking of orange . . . 


Whisk the juice and zest together with the rice vinegar and maple syrup and set aside.


Cut or tear a bunch of Kale into bite-sized pieces . . . removing the stems.


Put the kale in a large bowl, pour the orange dressing over, mix well, and then massage it  ~ (I know, this is a first, massaging greens, but massaging softens kale, takes away the bitterness, and makes it easier to eat) just take each piece of kale between your thumb and first two fingers and give it a good rub. To know if you’ve done it right, taste it, if it’s still bitter, massage some more.  You probably know how GOOD kale is for you? ← Click there if you don’t.



Once the kale is ready (you can even see it’s softer here), add a bag of broccoli slaw, and a half-cup each of dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds. (Or instead of cranberries, try adding beets and orange segments, and maybe some creamy goat cheese).


Mix it well and let it marinate for four hours in the fridge, stirring every so often. Give yourself a hug for making such a healthy salad! It keeps in the fridge for four days.


quinoa salad

and here’s another healthy salad . . . this  delicious Quinoa salad, I wanted to remind you in case you haven’t tried it yet ~ it’s perfect for a fall dinner and would taste just as good even if you weren’t trying to be healthy!

sense of beauty; susan branch art

Some beautiful new things have come into the Studio, Girlfriends ~ starting with THIS 

be an elf!

. . . A brand new dream charm for your bracelets and necklaces!  This one is magic, it says “BE  ♥ AN ♥ ELF” one of my favorite little sayings. These days, elves are more important than ever before.

Be an Elf!

This is it from the side . . . the charms come in a small clear bag, each with a different gift card and message that says it all.


Here’s our other new charm . . . To celebrate AUTUMN from the Heart of the Home . . . ♥


This “I LOVE AUTUMN” dream charm is all about the swirling leaves of fall ~ but I’m sorry to say, there is one problem . . . we only received about a quarter of our order  . . . there was a mixup with the rest of them.  I don’t think what we have will last long, but they take such a long time to make ~ I don’t think we’ll be getting anymore this year since Autumn is racing toward winter . . . so if you like it, go now!


On top of that, our annual Limited Edition Christmas Ornament has arrived! 


Santa in all his pink-cheeked glory hanging from a gingham ribbon!


lady bird

I’m watching a movie called The Merry Widow while I’m writing you  ~ and they just did the most wonderful waltz, I thought you might enjoy it!  It’s Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette Macdonald.  I have more to tell you, but I need to go now ~ I’ll write more soon!  I promise!  xoxo Have a wonderful day! 

Von Arnim Quote

It’s raining, it’s pouring the old man is snoring . . .

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