BLOG of NORMALCY

It’s a whole blog of normalcy today . . . the lovely joyous days of early spring where, pretty much, the only thing going on is . . .  Guess what??? Oh yeah, they’re here! English Bone China! Rabbit-Rabbit. MUSICA 😘

They came in today! And they’re already going out, thanks to Kellee and Sheri! Only days to go now until these are in the hot little hands of all of you who’ve been showing such fortitude and patience! And in plenty of time for Mother’s Day! 💞 If you’ve forgotten what your cup looks like and you’d like to see the handle and what’s on the other side, go HERE. And while I’m at it, I have another update:

I almost don’t know what to say to all the rest of you waiting for your. . . little vases, the butter dishes, the Go. Be. Love ornament, the small glass, this little pin tray, and more . . .

I want you to know I’ve been calling them, I badgered them, I had a fit. I was the proverbial squeaky wheel. Because these things were supposed to be in your hands weeks ago. And I was just told, yesterday, they’re on the way. So I kept thinking they will get here, and they keep not getting here. I told the manufacturer that we were going to have to cancel this order. And he PROMISED me, that we will have them THIS MONTH. At this moment, I BELIEVE him. I believe they will be here. He said the middle of May. I say the end of May because it’s hard to believe THAT much. For sure, the INSTANT they arrive, they will go right out. I beg your pardon from the bottom of my heart. My hope is that you forgot if you ordered or not, so when your package shows up, it will be the most wonderful surprise! Sorry sorry sorry.

 I promised in the last blog that I would tell you what was in this delicious salad I had not once, but twice, at The Trellis in Colonial Williamsburg. As you can see, it’s a composed salad, made up of little piles of yum, beet hummus, crispy fried kale, Asian quinoa, pickled onions, goat cheese, and roasted sliced almonds. I added shrimp, but you really don’t need it for this flavor extravaganza where every bite bursts like a sparkler in your mouth.

He’s a photo I took of the actual dish at the actual restaurant. So the goat cheese was easy, I just bought the creamiest I could find at the market and broke it up into bite-size bits. I also found pre-made beet hummus at the market too (although the restaurant hummus was much darker, maybe next time I’ll buy hummus and blend in more beets or make my own). I toasted the almonds on a cookie sheet at 300º until pale brown. The Pickled Onions were easy: Thinly slice two large red onions and put them in a glass heat-proof bowl. Bring this mixture to boil: 1 c. water, 1/2 c. distilled white vinegar, 1/2 c. cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2 tsp. minced ginger, 1 tsp. salt, dash of red pepper flakes. Pour boiling mixture over onions, mash them down so they’re all covered, cool, then chill.  (You’ll have some leftover, they keep for 2 weeks, delicious with everything, and good for you too!)

 Quinoa was easy too. To serve six, Bring 3 c. water to boil in med. saucepan. Add 2 c. quinoa, bring back to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and steam 10 minutes, till tender. Strain. Pour into a bowl, and stir in 4 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil, 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce, zest and juice from 2 juicy limes, 3 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 5 minced green onions . . . or, because they were growing in my garden, a handful of minced chives. Serve at room temp.

I accidentally figured out a new highly useful trick with kale! I made the Fried Kale Chips twice, because I’d never done it before and I wanted to make sure they would get crisp and STAY crisp. So first off, you wash a large bunch of  kale (you need more than you think you do because it cooks down to nothing), remove the stems like in the photo (good for compost!), then tear the leaves in bite-sized pieces. Here’s the tricky part, because  kale needs to be massaged to make it tender, which can be a real pain, AND it needs to be dry when you put it in the oven, which takes a long time if you air dry it ~ do this:

In batches, wrap handfuls of wet kale in a dishtowel, roll it up tight as you can, and then twist the heck out of it, back and forth, mash it, get someone to twist it with you . . . so you are doing two things, you are massaging it AND you’re drying it. Tricky, eh? 👍 As each batch of kale is finished, put it into a large bowl.

When it’s all done, drizzle about a Tbsp. of olive oil over the kale, a little goes a long way and you don’t want it dripping. Put your hands in the bowl and toss well and make sure there’s oil on every piece, massaging as you go (but you don’t have to do much of that). Depending on how much kale you have, you may need a bit more oil.  Do NOT salt or pepper it. Lay it on dry cookie sheets making sure none of the pieces touch each other. Can’t touch. Put it in a 300º oven for 25 minutes. Remove and cool completely. I made this a few days before my party and left the kale out on the counter all night to see what would happen, and it was JUST as crisp the next day. So after it cools, keep it in an airtight jar or cookie tin. Another thing I do now, because kale is so good for you, and I want us to eat it more often. I do all these steps up to and including the olive oil, then I put the kale into a bag into the fridge, so anytime we want kale with our dinner, we can bring it out and it’s clean, tender, oiled, and ready for steaming, frying, or salad-making.

To serve, you want a fairly large serving of quinoa in the center, then arrange the goat cheese, kale chips, pickled onions, and beet hummus around it, sprinkle with almonds and serve! Healthy healthy healthy. You’re welcome!

So yes, I’m still eating in my new healthier way, losing weight verrrrry slowly. But hey, these three months were going to go by anyway. ⬆️ This is salmon, spinach & tomato salad, avocado, and Brussel sprouts. As you can see, I’m NEVER hungry, but now there are 20 pounds of butter off me! 

The only thing I actually cut out was sugar and white flour (sometimes I have a slice of seedy whole grain toast, and I did have Polenta Cake with whipped cream and strawberries when I invited my girlfriends to lunch. Oh yeah!). I’m determined in a way I haven’t been before. I don’t care how long it takes.  I just FEEL like being my old self and staying that way. This photo above is actually spaghetti! I love spaghetti! It’s made with shirataki noodles, which are great and have almost zero calories in them but are high in fiber, and no flour. We take good organic jarred spaghetti sauce and add sautéed onions, garlic, and basil, and we cook it down to thicken it and make it really flavorful. We serve it with Parmesan, sometimes we chop a little spinach into it.  

I’m not in it for weight loss per say, I’m in it for health. I’m in it for the clothes. I can’t tell you the joy as one after another of my old beloved clothes I’ve never been able to force myself to give away, begins to fit again after years. I squeal with each button that slides through the hole. But anyway, I just wanted to show you a few of my sample meals, this one above is green beans and spinach, with seeds, and two free-range omega-3 scrambled eggs. I have it for breakfast, but sometimes I have it for dinner, and if you do that, you basically go to bed happy and skinny. This is NOT to make any of my darling girlfriends feel guilty. I would feel horrible to think that I have. Thin or fat, we all come with a pre-ordained body type, I have faced the fact that I will NEVER have a waist ~ we deal with what we have the best we can. Everyone should be free to be themselves in the exact way they choose. BE WHO YOU ARE. You are adorable and very much loved.💞

More normalcy at least in this house, I want you to know I’ve been working hard on ENCHANTED every day and loving every second of it. I go to bed dreaming about it, remembering.

But we’ve been having fun too! For one thing, we’ve visited every nursery on the Island! Because they’re a little bit of heaven! And then we go out to lunch to restaurants beginning to open up again, and we take my manuscript for Joe to read, and I bring my book!

I wander around our garden every day with my camera and smell the green things growing and the fresh salt air up from the harbor.

I think our spring is early! It’s all happening at once, but it’s hard to complain!

It melts the heart. Thaws it out to be more exact, after winter!

Pear trees, weeping cherries, azalea, forsythia . . .

 The great thing about living in a place with extreme winter, as many of you know, is the extreme jump-for-JOY feeling you get every spring. You open your windows on specially good days, and blow out all the old wintery air with new freshness.  You haul your sweaters to the attic. You get out your pink things, your baby blue and your linen. It’s what makes it worthwhile.

Hello yellow birdie. The critters are doing the exact same thing, singing the praises of spring.

These two were just outside our kitchen windows, I do dishes and see this and dry my hands and grab the camera . . . it feels like a Disney movie, when they’re all together, the morning doves, squirrels, cardinals and robins … on the feeders, eating apples, frolicking in the bird bath, while bunnies nibble wild violets in the grass, and the wandering turkeys too . . .

Isn’t this cheerful? A taste of springtime whimsey. I’ve been adding to my tulips this year, buying them at the nurseries already in bloom so I can see the colors and know they are true.

🎶 It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood . . .🎵

I don’t know the names of many tulips, but these romantic pink ones are called Angelique.

You’ve probably seen it, but just in cases, the Marvelous Mrs Maisel is SO WONDERFUL. We just finished Season One. We’re late getting on the bandwagon. Joe and I snuggle in at night to watch and laugh out loud ~ it’s just so good. I think it might be only available on Amazon . . . but HERE’S a real fast recap of the first season.

There’s no violence, but plenty of “sailor talk” as they call it . . . this is supposed to be the 1950s and I never heard sailor talk like this, but they sure have it here. It’s worth it because it’s a visual treat, they GO TO PARIS! They vacation in the 1950s Catskills! They wear the greatest clothes! The coats! The hats! The characters! Susie! Mrs Maisel’s dad! I love them all and Joe loves them as much as me. So there you go, something fun to dip into. For all you Gilmore Girls Fans, this show was created by the same people.

More normalcy . . . this beautiful old building sits on top of a hill overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor and was recently renovated and our long-awaited Martha’s Vineyard Museum was born. So of course we had to go see it.

This is part of the view as you walk through the door.

I hope you can see it if you come to the island. It has a little display about one of  my favorite people, Nancy Luce. (Note her necklaces and her handmade collar, look at her belt, she dressed for this photo no matter how mournful the expression. SHE had this photo taken, before it was easy to do!) I wrote her story in a previous post, if you’d like to read about her eccentric, artistic, but very lonely life. A person who made more something out of more nothing than almost anyone. She was true to her amazing self and has not been forgotten.

I had read about and seen pictures of the gravestones Nancy had especially made for her beloved chickens, but I never saw them in person. There they were at the new museum!

Here’s another one. In April, Joe and I attended a concert that honored Nancy Luce, performed for the first time by our Community Chorus at the Whaling Church in Edgartown.  Several of my friends are in the chorus and were on stage singing their hearts out ~ we all ended up in tears, that’s how lovely it was. While they were singing, I could picture Nancy coming through the door, in a church that was here when she was alive, in a place she used to ride to on her horse when she was young, seeing the honoring of her life in this way, and no doubt,  being beside herself with happiness. I hope the Chorus performs it again this summer. The composer who wrote the piece said he was taking it to Europe. Life is so amazing.

Here’s something else rather amazing. Note: BBC!  Note: bottom right corner! Yes! BBC Shop is now selling A Fine Romance on line and in their catalog! This thrills me to my soul ~ my little book! I’m now one step closer to my ultimate goal, the National Trust shops in England! Which will likely never happen, but hey, why not, this is BBC and I never thought that would happen either!

 Plus they are going to carry the new British Corgi Cup (just being shipped out from our Studio now as we speak) AND the 2020 Year in the English Countryside Calendar! The other wonderful thing, they mail order to Canada! Probably a lot less expensively than we can!

 Speaking of blessed. Guess what, my old kitty, Girl Kitty, who went to heaven in 2016, Jack and I think she is haunting us. 💞 We do!

Often when I’m working and it’s quiet in my studio, I’ve heard what sounds like a kitty jumping off the bed in the guest room above me ~ eyes to ceiling, then to Jack, asleep on my art table, and I think, no. But then, early yesterday morning when it was still dark, Jack and I were in the kitchen making tea and suddenly we heard the very distinct sound of kitty feet coming down the back stairs. No question about it, we looked at each other, then at the staircase waiting for Girl to appear, because what else could it be? But, she didn’t. Jack got up, walked to the staircase, and looked up. Then I did too. We stood there looking together, but there was nothing. And we both heard it!

 

This makes me happy because this little girl was a dream come true. Haunt away, Girl Kitty! Also nice, because Jack can’t chase her around and torture her. In fact, it may go the other way! I’ll keep you updated!

One more lovely morning shadow photo before I go. I love coming around the corner just as the sun is coming up to see the light streaming in, touching everything in a totally random way. Only for that very moment, and never the same twice.

Oh yes, and this one. The spoon my dad carved for me. This is how he says good morning to me now! I’ll take it any way I can!💞Off I go. Wishing you all the most wonderful month of May! Love Love Love. 💖

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468 Responses to BLOG of NORMALCY

  1. Suzanne Carter says:

    Your Vineyard spring photos make this displaced Cape Codder’s heart sing! Thank you, sweet Susan, from Suzanne in FL!

  2. christine lelacheur says:

    Susan, My corgi cups just arrived and I am over the moon. Absolutely luv them. Ladies if you like British these are a must. Hugs to all

  3. Kate says:

    Happy May, Susan. We, too, have a cat that haunts our old house. When we first moved in, I kept thinking I saw a black cat run up our stairs. No one else ever saw it. And then one day I was talking to my husband and a cat ran right into the wall in front of him. He did not see it, but I saw it very clearly. Evidently a black kitty lived in our house at one time and does not want to leave. Okay with me. We also have another haunting guest, but that’s another long story!

    • sbranch says:

      I never mind the haunting. So far no ghosts have done anything but make soft noises and catch the corner of my eye. Which I appreciate. If only one of them could do some grocery shopping! Or a little laundry!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        how a bit of cooking, or running the vacuum around, or perhaps the feather duster????

  4. Karen Mikell says:

    Beautiful blog, as always! 🙂 xoxo

  5. Ashley Williams says:

    Of all the people to tell me where to go while I’m in MV, it is you! I am going on a girls’ trip with 5 girls on my friend’s plane!! We are staying in Edgartown! What should we do and see? I want to go to the museum you mentioned! I have read your book and feel like I have been there! We are looking at Alchemy, Edgartown historical homes, where Jaws was filmed, the carousel,…Any good seafood places?! We will be there for one night! Want to see the top sites!!
    Wish I could see your cute cottage where you first started painting by candlelight!!! Love how you love your island!!! Many thanks, in advance for any thoughts or suggestions! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Island is 100 square miles, do you have two full days? You have a VERY GOOD list there. You can walk around Edgartown to see the old Captain’s houses. For Jaws, you need to get to Menemsha . . . there are buses, easy to ride, they’ll pick you up too, the fish markets in Menemsha will fix you hot snacks with FRESHEST fish. I like Square Rigger in Edg. for restaurant seafood, but if it’s a truly beautiful day, go to Nancy’s in Oak Bluffs and sit outside. It’s just up the street from the carousel. Get the Gazette while waiting for the ferry, and read the What to See and Do page . . . they tell it all! Have fun!

      • Ashley Williams says:

        Thank you! Thank you! Just bought two new tops and a pair of earrings! Happy Mother’s Day to me! I will share your scoop with the girls!! So excited!! 💕

        • sbranch says:

          You’re going to have a wonderful time! Save some money … there is a DARLING shop at the end of Main Street in Edgartown (almost to the water) on the right side . . . across from the Wharf Restaurant, easy to find, ask your hotel person.

  6. Laura says:

    I unpacked my cups and was happy having my morning coffee in the corgi cup celebrating little Archie’s birth. I wish the museum was open when I was there years ago. I guess I’ll have to go back!

  7. Lorraine says:

    Just a quick note to thank you for your continued encouragement for healthy eating. I lost quite a bit of weight last year, but then the holidays came, and well, you can probably guess the rest of the story. All my hard work – down the drain. But I’m back to eating healthy, in part, thanks to you for inspiring me. I know what I need to do – pay attention! That’s the biggest thing for me. Anyway, I’m eating similarly to you – lots of fruits, vegetables, good protein, and no white flour products or sugar. It’s really quite easy and I’m truly never hungry. I’ve been consistent with this since Sunday and I have already noticed 3 lbs gone (and I have a very accurate scale).

    Like you, I am very determined to do this and stay consistent. I like the way I look when I weigh less, but for me, it’s definitely for health issues. I have osteoarthritis and my left knee has been so painful since I reversed most of my weight loss. It kind of hit me like a lightening bolt how idiotic it was to eat junk food and feel terrible – then contemplate taking medicine for pain. Good grief… I don’t mean to minimize anyone else’s health issues, but for me, it truly is as simple as eating well and keeping excess weight off. I have to do some errands this morning and I’m taking a small container of mixed nuts so I can stay away from junk food if I get hungry.

    Thank you again for the happiness, joy, beauty, encouragement, and love that you spread about with your blog. It is no small thing to make people smile and forget the woes of the world, especially in times like these. Namaste.

    • sbranch says:

      I feel like you do. I really want to do everything I can on my own before I give in to medicine and chemicals. If I’ve done all I can, and then have to take something, fine. Funny how that kind of eating has taken away all the really horrible cravings I used to have! Sometimes I found it hard to stay in my seat when I knew the fridge was just a few steps away, I was ALWAYS hungry. Namaste darling Lorraine. Keep on keepin’ on. xoxoxo

      • Lorraine says:

        It’s hard to believe until you experience it but I’ve noticed the same thing. I also was ALWAYS hungry when I ate junk. Now I have no cravings and can go without eating much longer. It seems like when I eat good food, I’m more satisfied and feel fuller than when I ate junky food. Before I wouldn’t be finished with a meal and was already thinking about what I was going to eat next.

        My husband, who is tall and thin (and sometimes hard to live with because he can eat anything and not gain weight), tried very hard to modify his diet to avoid taking statins. He just couldn’t do it. He was following the doctor’s advice and eating all the right stuff but still the LDL wouldn’t budge. For him, it’s a genetic issue. He’s on a very low-dose of statins and eats mostly healthy. But he tried very hard before taking the medicine. So yes, if I’m doing all I can but still need some medicine, I’m ok with that.

        Thanks again for setting a good example and the motivation to keep going and doing my best.

        • sbranch says:

          Absolutely! You’re doing your part, and then we can pat ourselves on the back, and thank God for science! XOXO

  8. Barbara says:

    I love your post. It is so refreshing and uplifting. I adore the recipe ideas, too. You are a very special person. Thank you‼️

  9. Barbara Anne says:

    My Bella Luna (Moon mug!) arrived and I love it. Thank you for thinking it up, drawing it, having it made, and having fine folks send it all the way to me in Virginia on the other coast.

    Hugs!

  10. Susie Durrschmidt says:

    Loved hearing about Girl visiting you and Jack. Happy May!

  11. Kit says:

    Oh how I love that Girl Kitty is with you again. We have our late kitties visit us in our hallway at nite. We see their shadows sometimes. 🙂 Kit

    • sbranch says:

      I’m finding out that I am not the only person with a happily haunted house! 😻

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        come this may 28th it will exactly one year that we lost our dear sweet cuddle bug, Tabby. but I know he is around, I can feel him curl at night on the bed in his usual spot between us and I can hear him snoring on occasion, sometimes he reaches out to snag my jeans when I walk by, his favorite trick to get me to snuggle with him and play. and at times I know both he and Inky are around together, they always napped in the basket by the woodstove or on the foot of the bed, and wrestled for a minute or 2 before nap time. I love it that they are here, now if they could get the gremlins to behave a little better…. LOL!!! 😀

  12. Lucia Ann France-Bryant says:

    Dearest Susan, Thank you for this happy springtime love letter to all of us!

  13. Sara Harrison says:

    Your blogs are so beautiful, spring is such a blessing, I recently came back from a 2 wk. trip to Switzerland with my daughter & family who now live in England, we experienced 3 seasons there & the alpine flowers were so beautiful, many were similar to ours here in On. Canada. I received my beautiful “Little House” cup this wk., what a joy to drink my tea from it! Thanks for sharing your spring with us!

  14. Ginnie Judd says:

    I just received my mugs, and they are wonderful! Corgi mug and Moon mug. Fab-u-lous!

  15. Liz Keller says:

    Could I ask a question about your sewing room, pictured quite a while ago under a different heading? On the shelf in the room you display a clown doll, which looks identical to the ones my grandmother (from Iowa) used to make (in the early 50’s) using a stuffed sock for the body. There was a whole pattern, which she had sent away for (and which I now have) for the clown doll, costume, and feet. The face was embroidered. I have about three that she made and was wondering if the origin of yours was from your grandmother? Is there any chance you could take a picture just of the clown doll for your next blog?

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll try to remember Liz. I do think he’s from the 50s, but I can’t see his body because his clown suit is sewn onto it. Can’t look up the pants leg, or down the back because his clothes are sewn-on at the ankle and the neck! His face is embroidered, but hat is sewn on too. I’m honestly not sure where I got him, I’ve had him for years and years. Hope this helps!

  16. Wendy York says:

    I loved this post. I was especially touched by the story of Nancy Luce. I just recently lost my last chicken, our hardy Rooster Cogburn. He outlived all of his hens and was a wonderful protector and provider for them. I was thinking that I was silly, having heartache for the loss of him ( and his girls) , longing for the sound of him clucking for his girls when he found a tasty morsel of a worm or grub to share with them and the sound of his hearty crowing every morning and through out the day. Now I don’t feel so silly after all. Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Not so silly at all, Wendy. Love of the little hearts of our pets. xoxo

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        Wendy so sorry for your loss, but you are always welcome around here our rooster, Jake is always crowing and clucking to his hens, and we can add duck, geese ad turkeys so there is always a commotion going on. we used to have a Rooster Cogburn, he died about 2 years ago, dogs got him. they broke into the pen and killed 13 of our hens, the rooster and 2 ducks. luckily animal control finally got the dog and he is now long gone… they put him down.

  17. Joanne Conte says:

    Just got a chance to read this blog. I know what you mean. My Kitty passed away a year ago, and sometimes I hear a meow, and a see movement from the corner of my eye! I love seeing all those beautiful flowers. Thank you!

  18. Pam Bair says:

    Love your beautiful posts, Susan. I have been a fan for years. On May 16th I will turn 70. I decided to gift myself your Happy Birthday cup and it just arrived. I love it!! It will be a great addition to my small (but growing) collection of your colorful and fun cups and something to remember this birthday by! I also got the Little House cup and I love it as well. Please keep doing what you’re doing whether it be designing new cups, publishing new books, or helping all of us
    cope by seeing the beauty in this crazy world. You have touched so many lives for the better.

  19. Paula says:

    Susan~
    Love reading your posts/stories all the time!! I did notice your book on sale BBC yay !! Your meals look very good, but I dont know about the kale !? 20lbs good for you ! I think it found its way on to me, I am getting too that age of hard to lose, or is that an excuse?! I would love to return to MV, and see the new sites! One day was not long enough visit, I would definitely make it a overnight next time !
    Im just home from staying at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island , it was wonderful and we ate healthy the fish dinners were wonderful ! but of course we did have to sample the ice cream haha, hope the walking evens that out !!?!
    Happy Mothers Day, hope your fur baby(jack) brings you a surprise .
    xoxo
    Paula
    IN

  20. Your blogs are always full of positive enchantment. Except for way too much rain and flooding our Spring is coming along nicely.

  21. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Wishing you a marvelous month of May!!!!! After reading your Springtime blog, it made is easier to find my smile and put it on today! Take care. God Bless.

  22. Barbie says:

    Boy, did I need your blog this morning. Finished reading the Washington Post and felt defeated. Thank you!

    Is the Polenta Cake recipe available on your page?

  23. Debbie Boerger says:

    Hip, Hip Hooray! The Lovely Tom and I are in beautiful Franklin, Maine. I’ll need to take some time to read all the comments and look at your lovely blog more closely.

    I love the spirits of my pets paying visits. Absolutely possible, even in a scientific sense. If a photon of light can be in two places at once, if there are multi-verses, all things are possible. Even Stephen Hawking was intrigued.

    My only complaint is this very strange cold weather. Snow in Bangor in mid-May?? Never got higher than 44 yesterday, in the 30’s just a bit north of us. And more rain, rain, rain. Hard to rake soggy leaves. A few little daffodils up, but not much else yet. Big fat buds on the maples and the rhodies. Bears are out and about, neighbors have had a visit from one we all call Bingo. Evidence of a break in attempt on our porch. We live in their home, so we adjust.

    Thank you, Dear Sue, for this beautiful, safe place you make for so many of us.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie….in Maine!!!!

  24. Stephanie A. says:

    Congrats on the BBC! That is amazing and so perfectly fitting! It’s a wonderful book that I have read twice and will read again next year when we are planning our first trip to England! I want to make note of some of the places you stayed and visited. Your time there sounded wonderful!
    My hubby and I were on the Vineyard for the last two weeks and it was so great to be there, as always. Nice to see the island waking up after the winter. We’ve been going for the last 14 years, always either in spring or fall.
    I bought The Fairy Tale Girl at Bunch of Grapes while we were there. I can’t wait to start it! I’ve read your books completely out of order but that’s ok. I always feel sad when I finish reading one of your books…which is actually a good thing!
    Congrats again on the BBC! As always, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us!

    • sbranch says:

      I wrote them out of order too! So you’re probably doing it just right! Yes, the Island is waking up from its long winter nap! It positively puts wings on your feet to suddenly have the perfect spring day! I hope you enjoy Fairy Tale Girl! xoxoxo

  25. Happy Beautiful Spring – the tulips by the fence just melts my heart! My little kitty, Maggie haunts us the same way. I hear the thump and footsteps, too! Love your blog of normalcy xx Karen

  26. Barbie says:

    Have you ever thought that someday your home might be thought of as “The Susan Branch & Joe House”? A place where your fans can visit and discuss what a wonderful artist and human beings Susan Branch and her dear husband were on this planet.

    • sbranch says:

      We’ve lived here SOOOOO long, that it may well be that. Just like the Bowditch family before us, they lived here SOOOOO long, that it was their house for a long time, sometimes still is, but someday, I think it will be ours! xoxo That was very touching Barbie, thank you for those sweet words. xoxoxo

  27. Christina says:

    So happy for you about BBC, and Girl Kitty too! <3

  28. Mary Seidman says:

    Yay! It’s spring!!!! I’m loving your focus on healthy eating, it’s really inspirational.
    And because it’s not a “diet” you’re free to have your splurges with no guilt. Was that a Bloody Mary I saw you and Joe enjoying at lunch?! I sure hope so! Cheers to spring!!!

    • sbranch says:

      It was for him, but I was good and had an Arnold Palmer. However, TONIGHT we’re going out with friends and I’m plotting for an Old Fashioned! I’ve been good, and I deserve it! Cheers to spring!

  29. Sharrie Ely says:

    Thank you for the sparkle and light, the color and brightness from your home and garden. It’s so wonderful to see the magic (including the magic of Girl Kitty’s visits!) of your lovely home.

    Happy Spring and more!

  30. Francine Ramsey says:

    Dear Susan,

    I returned from our California Dreamin’ vacation to find your “Normalcy” blog waiting for me to enjoy . . . such a wonderful way to ease my re-entry into our own normalcy side of life. How lucky can a girl get? Thank you for that gift!

    The photos of your gardens and grounds are gorgeous, and only serve to fuel my passion to get outside and play in the dirt with my own pretties. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has other plans for us this month and continues to be fickle by constantly sending cold, wet rain. Patience is the key as I watch our lawns grow long, lush and very green and as I wonder how I’ll ever get our push lawn mower to slice through it.

    Thank you for the tips for places to visit while we were in San Luis Obispo, most certainly the highlight of our trip. We left the hustle and bustle of LA on a cool, overcast morning and made our way North along I-101, passing verdant hills, multiple wineries, gorgeous mountains and of course, the mighty Pacific. By the time we finally arrived at our destination, Apple Farm, the sun was shining in a clear, blue sky. We exited our rental car were immediately enveloped by the heady, aromatic fragrance of the lovely flowers growing in profusion all about the place. That single moment clinched my “SLO Bliss” as I have come to refer to it. We were delighted when we checked in and were offered glasses of Paso Robles Chardonnay. Naturally, we accepted gratefully and from that point on, it only got better. I even treated myself to your “My Story” book from the wonderful Susan Branch display that I found while perusing Apple Farm’s gift shop. I look forward to filling its pages with photos and excerpts from my journals.

    Thank you for the delicious and easy recipes and for the update on Enchanted. Look forward to more blogs in the future.

    All the best to you, Joe and Jack, of course!

    Franny

    • sbranch says:

      You made my day . . . LOVE hearing about my old stomping grounds, but especially how kind Apple Farm was to you. Pure hospitality! It’s the little things, isn’t it!? Your trip sounded wonderful. Thanks for catching up! Good luck with that long green very strong grass! xoxo

  31. Ermetta Olson says:

    Thank you for all your information aboutWilliamsburg. My husband and I are here this week and we are just loving it! We were here 50 years ago when our daughters were very little and said we would come back one day and here we are!! We had breakfast today at The Blue Talon and it was delicious! Tomorrow lunch at The Trellis! All your suggestions! Thank You! Wednesday we are touring the Rockfeller’s Home…I can’t wait for that. I just love walking through the town…especially in the evening! I loved the Burton Parish Church. So much history! Oh, and the Scottish store was wonderful!!

  32. Jennifer says:

    I always enjoy reading your blog and the “normalcy” is refreshing, beautiful and so, so lovely. Thank you for sharing this blissful breath of fresh air.
    We had a ghost kitty in a loft we once rented. My cat Colby and I would both hear little sounds and see little shadows. He’d follow things around the house and I’d always feel a pair of gentle eyes on me when I worked in my sewing room. We named her Lady Grey. I do hope Girl Kitty enjoys haunting her beloved family with love and joy and that ya’ll enjoy her presence!
    And I think I’m going to have to keep an eye out for that corgi mug. It would make a great gift for my mom’s 70th this year!!
    Happy Day xo Jen

    • sbranch says:

      How fun. We do love our little critters, either here or there! We have the Corgi Mugs in our web store . . . very few other places, Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo and a few other places. xoxo

  33. Leslie says:

    Dear Susan, I am reading “Team of Rivals” by Doris Goodwin, about Lincoln’s political times and the men who came to form his Cabinet. I’m reading now about the political environment when he was in the House of Representatives, and there are so many parallels to our times: the demands of party loyalty, the moral and ethical issues in stark relief, the future of our republic at stake. 160 years later, here we are! Peace and love.

    • sbranch says:

      I found parallels in the biography of Washington too . . . I think history is full of them! If I was to start over, I think I’d be a history teacher, I love it so much! I saw Lincoln, the movie, I think that’s the book it came from, SO GOOD. We loved his Library in Springfield, too . . . made us cry. Peace and love right back to you Leslie. xoxo

  34. Laura says:

    THE DOWNTON MOVIE TRAILER!!!!!!! OMG🙀🙀🙀😭😭😭

    • sbranch says:

      I KNOW. Can you barely wait??? I wish there was a way we could all see it on the same day, then meet online to dish about it!!!! SUCH a girlfriend thing!!!

  35. Judy Best says:

    Susan – always LOVE you blog posts. Glad to see you are choosing to eat less sugar and grains – just for you! As for pasta – have you tried zoodles? You can purchase a hand-held spiralizer for less than $15 and make your own noodles out of zucchini. The heat from your fav sauce pulls it all together. Yum! Thanks for sharing your Happy Spring – Judy

    • sbranch says:

      I have! Got myself a spiralizer . . . also our supermarket carries them pre-made. I love them but my best discovery has been shirataki noodles made with konjac yam ~ they have no flour in them and no calories but are high in good fiber ~ HERE are some recipes for them. HERE’S another website that talks about health benefits. Happy Spring, Judy!

  36. Julie says:

    Hi Susan!
    I wanted you to know that I purchased your Little House cup, A Fine Romance Tea, and your iron heart shaped pan for my mother. My mother absolutely loves your Blog, and both of us have read all your books . We recently found out she has Pancreatic cancer and your gifts were such a hit on my last visit home. I made a pot of the Tea for my daughter, my mother and myself. It is beautiful, fragrant, and so delicious. She has been drinking it all week in her special cup. She is planning to bake some little heart shaped cakes in her iron heart pan to have with the tea. Thank you for creating such wonderful and heartfelt gifts ! They are so appreciated!

    • sbranch says:

      So sweet to hear from you Julie . . . three generations drinking tea together, perfectly lovely. I’m SO sorry to hear about the cancer … that’s very hard. My prayers are with you and your family. Sending all my love. xoxoxo

  37. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Beautiful blog as always! LOVE your spring on the island! We had several inches of snow yesterday after I planted all my flowers…ugh!

    • sbranch says:

      OMGosh, you had snow. There should be a LAW about that!!! May!!! It has to get better from here, Cathy!

  38. Susan says:

    Susan,
    I am missing you…It used to be so fun to see you more often…I wish you would post more often and not so lengthy a post….I know you are so busy with your projects plus travel and writing books, etc. But I, probably like many others, are missing our smaller posts and more often…. I am losing interest, because when I check in online, it seems like it is always the same post…for a month or more…Please make your posts shorter, even just a hello….what happened to Ribbit Ribbit and all the holidays and special days???? I really miss you……

    • sbranch says:

      I know, I’ve been bad. It’s the book, I get so excited I don’t want to stop. It’s also spring. So yesterday I DID stop and plant the garden, feeling guilty the whole time, because I should be working!!! Anyway, I’ll come back soon. I miss everyone and think about you every day. I know, it’s bad. I’ll do better. xoxox

  39. Hi Dearies,

    Are you watching the Chelsea RHS Flower show on Britbox? Emma Bridgewater was just on the live feed! Exciting and beautiful horticulture!
    Just a heads up from me! 🙂
    xxooxx
    Gabi

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

    good morning Susan, hello girlfriends. is this weather crazy or what???? tons of rain and snow in April, then it got warm, then hot and dry and now we are back to rain and thunderstorms. oh well, good drinks for the garden and the lawns and the trees, and it gets me out of watering. busy day here, have to get the bunting out and up on the porch for the Memorial weekend, then this weekend its off to the boat races and the parade in downtown Grants Pass. Monday will the hydro-plane boat race down the river to Gold’s Beach, and a special treat.. after 1pm free ice cream sundaes and cone for everyone until they are all gone. a good time for a snack and a good way to kick off the summer season. fireworks show tonight, weather permitting and the Boatnik festival and carnival is open today. lots of fun things to ride and enjoy. have a fun weekend everyone, Happy Memorial weekend and Happy Memorial Day. hugs….. 😀

  41. Debbie Boerger says:

    I’m just finishing up prep for the kale chips. I washed them in a deep white bowl to judge when most of the tiny buggies are off. Then I hold each stem and beat it against the rim of the sink. Next, I cut out the center stalk, tear the pieces and put them in my big salad spinner. After that, they are almost totally dry, but I asked Mr. Tom to help me wring them in a giant cotton dish towel.
    It is still very cool and drizzly here in The State O’Maine, so having the oven on will be nice. Thank you, my dear.

    I wrote to you a day or so after we returned, a bit over 2 weeks, but I think I probably forgot to click Post. I’d said something about magic and science sometimes be one and the same. If a photon of light can be in two places at once, why can’t our dear departed. Even Stephen Hawking spoke of it. I take a tiny toy dachshund, softly stuffed with me in my suitcase everywhere we go. I rescued her from a box of discards years ago. Looks so much like our little Elke (named for Elke Sommers, who kept dachshunds and thought they were beautiful) that I sometimes put her on my chest when I’m feeling blue.
    OH, the sun has peeked out. I was beginning to feel as though this were the Pacific Northwest. Only the forsythia, some bulbs and the shad bushes are in full bloom. But the bee hives are installed up on the blueberry barrens, protected by electric fencing. Even so, bees won’t work in the rain, so we need some sustained sunshine to have things pollinated. Keeping our fingers crossed that the strawberries are not rotting.

    Thank you so very much for this lovely, loving blog. You are the cat’s meow!!!
    Debbie…back in Maine, Yea!

    • sbranch says:

      Here’s to you and the sunshine Debbie! My sister has had four dachshunds now, each one a pearl. XOXOXO

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