Grab your favorite cup, fill it with something warm and delicious and come back, because I’m going to try and show you what New England in the fall is all about! MUSICA

Dad's mug

This mug has been in my family for as long as I can remember, it was in the house when I was a little girl.  I don’t know where it came from, maybe if Blog Daddy remembers it, he will know . . . I loved it since I was little, the colors are what attracted me, and of course, anything with a house on it.  I snapped it up at the first chance I got!  Which was long ago, I’m not exactly sure when my parents lost custody, I’ve had it a long time.  It’s just

my cup of tea


Of course, if your kitty is like mine, you are going to have company while you wait for the water to boil . . .

pour the water

Back about a month ago, one of my photos showed this mug in the background; one of our Girlfriends asked for a closer look, which I promised I would do ~ seemed like tea time was the right time to do it!  (I’m seeing something almost alike in our colors here!)

my paintbrush, doing what comes naturally

bottom of the cup

This is my only clue as to where it came from . . . Germany 29 ~ but we are not German, and have not gone to Germany, so I’m thinking it might have belonged to my Grandma or Great Grandma (even tho’ they are not German either!).

Jack's treat

Jack could care less about which mug I use . . . he just wants to be where I am.  In order to distract him, I gave him a little milk to lap up . . . 


So I could take pictures.  You know how much this kitty loves me?  This much {               ↔                } or more.

Know how much I love him?  To the ends of the earth and back and then out again.

add the creamKitty Love. . . and then, while he’s busy, milk for me.  So here we go, on a road trip through New England, are you ready?

Come on Jack, let’s go to the studio . . . my shadow goes everywhere with me.

travel buddy

So here we are, this last weekend, on the back roads of central Massachusetts, going out to two book signings . . . one at Titcombs Bookshop in the darling historic town of Sandwich on the Cape . . . and the other, a fundraiser for the Westfield Library, clear on the other side of the state.


We could not have asked for a better weekend, leaves flew off the trees as we took the side roads and stayed off the freeways as much as we could.


This leaf blew up and landed on the windshield then went for a little ride with us . . .

leaf peeping

See the leaves coming down out of the trees?  My favorite thing about Autumn, they way the leaves fly through the air.


Look how gorgeous, this is why I moved here, I needed to smell this!

Wallum Lake

Just following signs off the road less traveled, curiosity brought us here to a place we never heard of called Wallum Lake in Douglas State Park

Wallum Lake

Pretty ♣  pretty ♣  pretty.  Smelled as good as it looks, fresh, clean, woodsy, fallish. Sounds of water lapping on shore.



Hard to believe the color . . . 

the road west

Or the lovely New England Architecture.

house along the road

I thought this stone house was just about perfection of coziness. I could almost smell the corn pudding baking in there!

Lovely old graveyard

We saw beautiful Oak Ridge graveyard and went for a little walk.


Peaceful, old and elegant.


See the leaf flying by? You can’t make this stuff up.


Colors are wonderful, leaves are crunchy . . .

amazing grace

. . . Trees are brilliant . . .

deep roots

And the roots . . .

life is for the living

go way down . . .


I think cemeteries are works of art  . . . so real and human and filled with love and loss and all the important things like memory and history and reminders of carpe diem  . . . because life is for the living . . .

Life is for the living

Right Jack?  This little boy never spends one moment of his day worrying, especially about anything he can’t control.  Which brings me to something I would normally ignore, and that is Ebola.  I’m sorry, I realize you are inundated with it these days, but I just need to say something and then I will forever hold my peace.  

You know how when a storm is coming to your area, the media, almost 100% of the time, blows it completely out of proportion? candles in a snowy window(When we have a storm forecast for the Island my entire family calls from California, they are so worried about us, we answer the phone and tell them not to worry while we are busy lighting candles and roasting a chicken, loving every moment of it, figuring if it turns bad, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be and cross that bridge when we come to it and every other cliche we can think of that means we have a handle on it.)

yummy!  Storm!

This is what we do during storms.


Remember Y2K?  When the entire world was supposed to come to an Keep calmend and all the planes were supposed to crash at midnight between Dec 31, 1999 and Jan. 1, 2000?  The media had a field day with that one, it went on for months. Then, when they were wrong, as they almost always are, it’s just ooops, sorry. I don’t think they are sorry. I think they like it. Because when we get afraid and fearful we are more likely to tune in and watch every word that comes out of their mouths, which means they get higher ratings ~ and higher ratings brings in money.  It’s always money these days. You can always ask yourself, OK, who makes money from this?, and you’ll usually find the answer and that will be your culprit.  

Jackie says "follow the money!"

Anyway, bottom line is this: The chances of most of us getting joyEbola is somewhere between zip and zilch.  Unless we physically touch the urine, sweat, blood, vomit or feces of someone who already has ebola, we can’t get it.  It isn’t spread by a cough.  Common sense will guide us about this, our brave hospital worker-heroes, all very smart, caring, wonderful people, will have it under control in a very short time. I have complete faith.



little things Faith that it’s the little everyday things that make life sweet.  Not denial, but faith.  Don’t let the media scare you or your loved ones. Life is for the living, and that is us. If we get it, we get it.  Other than that, we aren’t going to.  So turn off these people and go about your business, with maybe just a tad more caution because you know you have much more common sense than any of these fear mongers do. I rest my case.  Off the soap box I step. With love for all of us in this beautiful season of color and nature, kitties and God. xoxo

girl bowing

Now, I’ve been saving this to tell you about . . .

Pasta fantastica!

Much more constructive to think about your health in terms of what you can do to make it better, which brings it all back to home sweet home . . . our favorite place. I found something I’ve been wanting to share with you!  My new favorite thing!  And you’ll see why.



This is me making noodles out of zucchini!!!!!!  YES!  It’s true. I am making noodles out of zucchini!


Take a look at these, in a matter of moments, the easiest thing in the world ~ delicious squiggly noodles, just like pasta, only better, less fattening, healthier, and really just as good, only better! (One small caviot: I’ve been reading about GMO foods, zucchini is one of the biggies they have really fooled around with ~ only use organic zucchini when you make your noodles.)



This little machine (Kellee got a few of them in to our web store, go NOW if you want one) uses no electricity!!!  Another reason to love it.  It’s easy to clean and easy to use. You just cut off the end of a zucchini to make it flat, pop it into the pusher, crank the handle and out they come from the other side.

cooking with love


vegisYou can put any sauce on them, make Linguini and Clam Sauce if you want, or even the simplest thing: heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add some garlic, maybe some mushrooms, perhaps carrots or a little broccoli slaw, and saute everything until soft . . . add the “pasta zucchini,” cook until al dente, pour onto your plate, sprinkle over salt, pepper and Parmesan, and voila!  You can add them to soup too!


Here I toasted up the potatoes before I put in the zucchini ~


Besides zucchini you can make vegetable noodles out of potatoes (like those above), carrots (get the largest you can find), beets, onions, sweet potatoes, apples, eggplant, cucumber, radishes, cabbage, and butternut squash.  FUN!  It comes with three blades, in three sizes!!!



Here I am tossing the potatoes in the pan with some shallots . .  .  Use another blade, make them slightly thicker and you have curly fries!  I mean, it’s truly the best thing in the world.  With all due respect to all the other best things in the world.

Kellee ready for Thanksgiving

Like Kellee in her darling Pilgrim Thanksgiving apron . . .(whoever took the picture cut off the best part!)

best thing  Or, Jack helping me with the laundry . . .

Girl Kittyor, Girl Kitty, prepping for a nap.

Old movies

or, the Turner Movie Channel (TCM) which is much better than the news and leaves you feeling up, happy, positive.

pumpkins at Remnants of the Past

a Bountiful Harvest of the Best things in Life.


Like Penelope . . .


. . . who just naturally keeps . . .

Keeping her face in the light

Her face turned toward the light.

nature love


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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!

leaf border


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

leaf border


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

leaf border

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.

leaf border


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.

leaf border


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

leaf border


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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