FREE THE PIE PLATES! FREE THE DIARIES! LUCKY WINNERS of Gorgeous CUPS

Hello? Are you still there? I’m singing my song: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again!” Despite it all, I’m back, ready to free those pie plates, tell a story about my diaries, and announce our lucky winners!♥️👏♥️

You’ll need a cup of tea while I catch you up! I’ll wait . . . Here we go! I sent out a post last Sunday and about 3 seconds later, everything about my website disappeared. Instead of sweetness and light and all good news, this ⬆️ was the message you received in the mail… Forbidden” ~ rudest message in the world! I’m so sorry! Then I started hearing from you, then Twitter, then Facebook and Instagram chimed in, and I found out I was NOT alone! I called my IT guy, crying, “HELP!”

I hope this did not hurt your feelings, I would never say Forbidden! We, my darlings, were attacked by some sort of hacking machine. I thought for a moment this meant we made the big time.😂 I asked my IT guy and his response was, and I quote: “In the overall scheme of things your site is insignificant!” 🤣 So, it looks like we were just roped into this with scads of other victims, which makes me feel SO much better than thinking someone intentionally did this to a purveyor of good news and the sweetest kindred spirits ever! Luckily, we have the BEST IT guy who had to practically reconstruct the whole thing, so here we are, intact, healthier than ever, ready to go, and grateful. Thank you for holding in there! Here is the post I TRIED send you last week:

How’re you all getting through summer? Hasn’t the weather been crazy? One day it’s unbearably hot, air warm and thick as sea water, the next day unbearably beautiful ~ and the day after that, it’s freezing! Horrible floods in Europe! Canada rivaling Death Valley for high temps! Crazy! We made it through our yard sale despite the relatively benign early-morning on-and-off rain ~ I thought you might like to see a bit of it . . . while listening to best MUSICA in the world… the soft melodic voice of young Frank! Take a deep breath, relax, and here we go! 💞

We rented a bunch of tables, spread them out, putting them as close as we could to the garden so no one could go around the back of them!

We brought out the old picnic benches to surround the bird bath because our number-one consideration was to protect the flower beds from the pitter-patter of thundering feet!

Looks kind of organized don’t you think? Well it didn’t stay that way! Which helped me to understand why churches call these things jumble sales! Blue skies . . . but changing . . .

We parked the van in a tricky place ~ gave us privacy from the road as we brought the boxes from the well-seasoned barn, a mish-mash of homey things to unpack, sort through, and organize.

I was thinking “department store” while arranging things, a born store-keeper-decorator ~ there was a linen department,  a garden department, a kitchen department; there were sections for dishes, baskets, furniture, and applicances ~ like a pop-up store! I had a little store in California at one time and my favorite part was making it look cute! So I was having a good time! 

This organizing kind of worked until we began to run out of time and gave up on it, and started just getting things OUT of the boxes ONTO the tables!

Birds, boxes, bowls, and baskets, . . . all good. Throw in some cups, vases and a thermos … variety, the spice of life, here at my favorite and most-spontaneous kind of recycling center! Everything going to new homes, spicing THEIR lives just like these things did for us! (At the top of this blog you will see “Home Sweet Home” … click there for talk of 100% originality about making a wonderfully original home from recycled things!)

We opened at 9 am ~ the line to get in was down the block ~ neighbors, islanders, and tourists, all together ~ my girlfriend Lowely had a yard sale that day too, and also Martha, and a few others in our neighborhood, so it was a lot like Halloween, people going door to door! Fun for all! And unfortunately I forgot to take pictures when the people were there!!! Too busy! And they were the best part! Everyone was in SUCH a good mood, toting cups of coffee, stopping to chat, they even brought their kids and dogs, I had to get a big bowl of dog water! ~ Summer Saturday morning ~ who doesn’t love . . .

It really wasn’t a beach day ~ it stayed overcast so what better thing to do than go to a yard sale!? You can see the line still going on the other side of the hedge ⬆️! They pretty much cleaned us out and I have to say, there is lightness of heart that comes with watching the pie plates run free! Everyone spoke of their incredible gratitude for the vaccine, that we were able to come together to do this! It really was sort of a mini celebration of the normal things in life! And I decided, if I ever really miss something, if I wish I hadn’t let it go, I won’t mind because I can put it on my list and start hunting for it all over again. A win-win! A great yard sale, all cleaned up now and put away for the next time!

So, I have to share with you what we did on our cold rainy days . . . we had about three of them in a row, I had to FORCE myself not to turn on the heater! (Almost feels like a dream now!) I just kept adding clothes, then blankets! And we made it cozy with this delicious tummy-warming lunch:

Maybe today it’s 115º where you live, in that case, this would probably NOT be the right thing (try my icy GAZPACHO!), but this Mexican White Bean and Chicken Stew is SO good, I had to give you the recipe. Joe and I tasted something like this on our travels, I wrote down what we thought was in it, but never tried to make it until now … oh what we’ve been missing! If you can’t make it now, save it for later! Because look!⬇️

It’s actually even better than it looks! Great if you have leftover chicken, but worth it to quickly sauté enough to make this! Gluten free, chock full of vitamins, and relatively low calorie! Easy to make! Pop, pop, pop, it’s done! Serves 6 . .

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 2 c. jarred salsa verde (we used Stonewall Kitchen)
  • 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken (we always use thighs!)
  • 2 15-oz. cans of white beans, drained and rinsed well
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, sauté garlic and chopped onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil until onion is soft. Stir in rest of the ingredients, heat through and serve with all, or your choice, of toppings: chopped avocados, squeeze of lime juice, minced cilantro, sour cream, minced green onion, grated cheddar cheese, and/or taco chips.🥑

Hope you love it! So, what else do I have to tell you? Oh, yes, this: (I hope you are sitting down.)

Look what I did. Can you tell? Actually I’ve been debating whether or not I should tell you because everyone I HAVE told has gone, Oh nooooo! It’s okay ~ I always knew I would do it ~ to me it’s just like “Fly little pie plate, fly…” Freedom. Yes, you may have guessed . . . those are the shredded remains of my diaries! Don’t be upset! Let me explain! I am the mommy of these books, I brought them into the world, and it was time to take them out.💝

They gave back more than they were ever given, they lived a good and useful life but it was time for them to go. So this is how I spent my early mornings during most of the pandemic, reading, laughing, blushing, crying, tearing out a few pages to keep forever, and shredding the rest.

All gone! Blowing on fingernails, polishing on shirt, so proud of myself! I’m glad I have pictures of them. Before and . . .

. . . after. I kept the covers. And that’s not all . . .

I started by trying to burn them in the fireplace . . . and found out it was a very slow and cumbersome way to do it and guess what, they don’t burn! It was a romantic idea: dark winter day, world in turmoil, snow blowing, a cup of tea, crackling fire, reliving memories, burning old diaries, but, no…it wasn’t working.

So I moved the shredder into the wood room in front of the big flat box that holds the true pandemic treasure of Turner Classic Movies, put Jack next to me in the chair, and shredded a few pages every morning … listening to Shirley Temple sing, watching Fred and Ginger dance, realizing, as I read them how smart I was not to leave them lurking around! I stayed young and ignorant forever, searching for life, love, and purpose. I kept those diaries for me, not for posterity. I wrote “Your service is undeniable” in the back of each one when I finished it. They did their job, were a HUGE help in the beginning years of being a grown up. So there they are in that big bag behind Jack! And I didn’t throw the bag away, or put it in the yard sale.

Most of you know I’ve been keeping diaries for almost as long as I could hold a pencil. I’ve always loved writing, my diaries have been SO helpful for growth, and helpful for writing books later on! But I didn’t have what it took to begin trying to save them until I was in my twenties! (My mom kept a few of my things in my baby book!💝) I lost all my teenage diaries, all my little girl ones. Probably a good thing! But today, when I talk to children who say they want to be a writer when they grow up, I tell them all I know, “Read everything, keep a diary, and don’t lose it!”

You’ll be glad to hear I didn’t shred them ALL. I kept this one. It goes from from January 1996, to June 2007! Lots of good things in here. It’s at a bookbinder now, being rebound, it was a pretty book with a cloth binding that wore out with too much train travel!

To this diary, as you see in the lower right, I was was “your obedient servant.” Actually to all of them.💞

So I kept it.♥️ And as you can see, I never stopped trying to figure things out.

The diaries I shredded were filled with little bits and pieces . . . old letters, cards, ticket stubs, photos, tucked between the pages. Sometimes I would be somewhere I didn’t have my diary with me, so I would do addendums. I kept all this stuff and much much more!

I saved lots of whole pages, the happy times . . . and wasn’t about to shred this! Buying my first little house here on the island, Holly Oak! The doorway to my new life. But then I wrote all about it in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, used the good handwriting, and added pictures too, so I no longer needed the diaries!♥️

And this, trying to learn how to “Think Like Leonardo DaVinci”… 🤣 ~ I was reading the book, and put it down to try to do what he did one early morning, curled up all alone on a big overstuffed sofa in front of a huge crackling woodfire in the very quiet lobby of the Mt. Washington Hotel in New Hampshire, I drew my first “Mind Map.” Finding out who you are is a process.

And this, a wonderful Mary Engelbreit card Joe gave me in 1987, exactly 3 weeks after our first date. Read the top. I tried not to melt.👏

And then . . . the topper, My boat had come in!🙃 I wasn’t ABOUT to throw this away!💘 He already loved me. At the time, I thought, NO WAY . . . but then he set about convincing me ~ the fun part. My mother wasted no time, she was thrilled immediately.♥️ I transferred that whole story of our first date (that lasted a lifetime) from my diary to A Fine Romance, so I didn’t need to save it. Just all the cards and sweetness tucked between the pages. See? It’s not as bad as you thought!

And there are lots of other diaries I will never get rid of! My dinner-party diary is going nowhere . . .

My first English Garden diary . . . where, among other things, I figured out how to make cute fences like the one I saw at Great Dixter!

I kept all my English Diaries of course . . .Not to mention those journal BOOKS  so many of you have read, where ALL my memories are saved .. . so I just feel good about the whole thing!

And Joe had a brilliant idea. He thinks I should send Cliff one of the new cups when they come in (for all of you who’ve ordered, they’ll be here to help us celebrate fall, 🍂 hopefully by the end of September) and use my shredded diaries to pack it in! Isn’t that perfect? Cliff’s a big fan of the cups! Perfect closure. I’m sure he’ll love it! A big relief, he won’t have to hear his most dreaded words anymore, “But I have the diaries!” 🤣 The torture has ended!Speaking of which, I’ve started keeping a NEW diary! I kind of stopped writing during the pandemic when I couldn’t focus! But I’m back! And that’s not all!

The other day I came into the kitchen and grabbed Joe’s hand and said, “Come with me… I  want to show you something!” I was so excited. I pulled him through the living room into my studio to show him what I’ve been doing ~ working on my new book of quotes again! All laid out on my counter. My Creativity is back! Here are a couple of the pages . . .Joe was so happy ~ gave me a big hug! After the pandemic, I needed to get a new “foundation for the creation” and it took a while for it to form! Sometimes I wondered if it ever would, the waiting is always the hard part…but every day feels better and I say to myself, life is soooo good.  Makes me happy. I am still my own science project! Trying to figure things out, forever and ever! My dad called me “Grasshopper” (he got it from the 70s TV show Kung Fu) ~ I was his inexperienced idiot student and he was all-knowing master! True then, true now. Learning something new every day! 

And for the learning part and the beauty part . . . we finished listening to Hamnet while out on our walk (Joe gets one ear plug, I get the other, book is on the phone!). My review? Excellent. Beautiful writing. Lovely lovely lovely. They’re going to make a movie out of it! My favorite books are the ones that send me to Google, wanting to know more, about the characters, the subject, the time period, or the author. This was perfect for that.(It starts slow, don’t give up.)Blessings on all the geniuses the world has produced who have charted a path, and left their brilliant discoveries behind for us… you will love my quote book, I’ve collected them from the beginning of time, it’s going to be all the secrets of the world.♥️

More of the beauty part . . . good old tablecloth, of course did NOT go into the yard sale despite small hole from over-love! The pillows, made with my fabric from Spoonflower, were our Christmas gift from Kellee and everyone at the Studio last year!

We lit up the twinkle lights and had dinner under the arbor (Tea House of the Vineyard Moon”) with friends for the first time this summer. Everyone beautifully and inspiringly vaccinated and safe. Gratitude galore! Mutual admiration society! Tons of fireflies blinking in the lawn . . . corn on the cob, salmon, my mom’s potato salad, and root-beer floats! Do you butter your corn with hot bread? I’m so far behind, one of our guests just told me about this, I tried it for the first time! More genius! It’s everywhere!🤣

And roses . . . Joe brought them home, not from our garden, but very pink and very beautiful!

I love summer nights on the island when it’s all quiet in our neighborhood of old houses, and I hear dishes clattering, and music playing from other people’s screen doors, and then the boat whistle blows . . .like a dream.

So here we go my dear girlfriends. You’ve been so patient! Time for our drawing! I so hope YOU win!!! And if you don’t, don’t worry we will try again and again and again! ❌⭕️ So here we go . . . for the 4th of July cup . . . our lucky winner is . . .ta daaaa!🎵

KAREN BLANKENSHIP! 👏👏👏

 

And for the two Springtime cups, we have two winners:

MARY from Forest Grove and ALLYSON BILLINGSLEY..

How exciting!👏👏👏 I’ll send an email soon so you can send me your address and your new cups will be winging their way to you before you know it.💞 Thank you ALL for entering and trying, you never know, you still have a better chance here on this “insignificant” blog 😂 than you do with the lottery! Keep that happy thought in mind! ❌⭕️Last but not least, for all our fellow travelers to the English Countryside next May 🥳 . . . Kelsey at Discover Europe (Kelsey@DiscoverEuropeLtd.com) and I worked out a new tour to add to the list … this one goes from the ship by train to the Lake District ⬆️, then across the Yorkshire Dales, to York! This tour will NOT come back to join us for the picnic at Stourhead with our English girlfriends because travel time is a little longer than the others, but it’s still so very wonderful and you can read all about it and sign up HERE. And FYI, The Cotswolds tour is sold out, but they’ve made a waiting list because they are trying to put together another one💞, so be sure to contact Kelsey if you’re interested in that. There is still room on my favorite tour (they’re all my favorites as you know!), that’s taking everyone to Sissinghurst Garden

XXX

And although Sissinghurst Garden is a little bit of heaven on earth, this tour also includes Anne Boleyn’s Hever, Winston Churchhill’s Chartwell, Vanessa Bell’s Charleston, places we LOVED, plus so much more! All in the gorgeous “Garden of England!” History, gardens, cottages, pubs, and charm, oh my!😘

And BTW, P.S, Here’s another surprise! Guess who’s flying from England to New York to board the Queen Mary 2 along with the rest of us? Guess!! Yes!!! Rachel!!👏 Bringing her darling husband Paul! It just gets better every day! There are more fun things to come, but I have to make sure they are 100% definite! So hard to keep my mouth shut . . . stay tuned!♥️  

And, there is still  a little space on the Salisbury tour that takes you to Lacock ⬆️, and to everything Jane Austen.♥️ Read about the four tours HERE.

And yes, if you don’t have time to take the ship, you can fly over and join any of the tours, and all but the one to the Lake District will bring you back to our picnic on the lawn in front of the grass bridge ⬆️ in Stourhead. Or fly over and just come to the picnic (May 15th, 2022, BYO picnic!) before you head out on your own. SO many choices! For a red letter year!

So off I go. In all my memories today I was reminded of something my darling brother Jim said to me once, “All I need to know about love I learned from the song Hey Jude . . .” ♥️ As usual, I’m thinking what an idiot. So of course I ran to read the words (insight into a brother’s thinking is not something one takes lightly) . . . And realized how right he was when I read . . . 🎶🎵 “Remember to let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better . . .”🎵🎶 One more reason to fall in love with the Beatles (and my brother Jim💞 ~ John Lennon’s OTHER song works for him too, Beautiful beautiful beautiful boy….💝) That’s him with his son Ben in ↖️ that picture.

Sending love, cooling breezes, dry days, soft rains, and starry nights . . . . ❌⭕️❌⭕️ Your Pal, Anna Susana Branchburger the third.♥️

P.S. 🎶🎵 “For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool, By making his world a little colder . . .”🎶🎵

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 425 Comments

ALL GOOD NEWS

So much news, and all-all-ALL of it is good! Isn’t that wonderful? Do you find yourself smiling more these days? I do! Everything seems more beautiful than ever before. I am almost giddy sometimes! I think it’s pure unadulterated appreciation for this start-over time we are having, being with friends again, making wonderful plans! Let me share some of that with you! 🚢🥂🚂 MUSICA!🎵🎶 Tweet, tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet! 🎵

Such a springtime it’s been! Has it ever been prettier? I don’t think so. Each bloom has been like a marker, part of a seasonal parade, I’ll catch you up ~ the wisteria and the clematis has come and gone . . . . . . the sun rises with an exclamation point and the garden sings out “Yes!” And I go get the camera. The peonies were gorgeous this year! Utterly utterly…

And this one, given to me by my girlfriends last spring when my mom died ~ just the perfect thing ~ a living tribute that will come up every year with a surprise of beauty and sweet reminder of my mother. Just like her, clean, sweet, and simple on the outside, complicated, and one of nature’s wonders inside! Never stops with the giving. Joe and I just made reservations for the TRAIN … we’re going to California in September, in our room with a view, to hug and kiss my family (squeal), and have a family reunion and celebrate our mom/grandma’s life and all she was and is to us. 💞

The rhododendrons and the dogwoods bloomed beautifully ~ and as usual, I thank Mrs. Bowditch, the woman who moved into this house with her husband and four children in 1949 and planted so much of our romantic garden (we’re the caretakers now) .. they’ve come and gone ~ as all things do, and so has the mock orange, the wedding bouquet of our garden! I am in the garden often these tender spring mornings…🌱

Now it’s time for the foxgloves . . .

The roses are blooming too . . . . . . best roses I’ve had in years! Even the beautiful, fragrant, peach-colored “Just Joey’s” which bloom like mad in California, but until this year, not so much here! They’re doing great! 

And the parade marches inside, into my little vases that line…

…the little shelf above my kitchen sink. Joe laughed the other day when I told him this shelf is the very best thing they put in this house! Pure genius! My wand, my Beatrix Potter people, little vases and flowers! Birdfeeders on the other side of the windows with view of the garden! Everything I need!

I’ve been drying laundry outside and airing the quilts on breezy days ~ with wide blue skies, sunshine, sea breezes, and birdsong! It’s truly the best musica anywhere . . . 🎵   🎶🎵  🎶

I go out with my scissors to cut flowers and look back through the screen door to see Jack on his ironing board perch, watching me like a hawk! He stops me in my tracks. Everything is Him!

When he sees me looking at him, he starts flirting immediately, rolling over and squirming and almost falling off the ironing board!

He can’t help it if he’s adorable!

We pulled the tiny fountain out of the barn, filled it with water, and surrounded it with porch flowers . . .

And Joe planted our new Dahlia garden. It’s our first one ~ it’s SO exciting… the tubers arrived, we got 23 different varieties . . . and I went out and made a schematic on paper to “decorate” with the different colors, so Joe would know where to plant them. 

He did a gorgeous job … Everywhere you see a green stake is a different dahlia, all sizes, shapes, and colors ~ can’t wait until they bloom. Like a little gift under the tree that we can’t unwrap for weeks!

Doesn’t it look organized? And you know what else we did in this brand new world where we’re allowed to leave the house sometimes? We bought a new car! There it is! It’s actually a 2020, but new to us, we have joined the Subaru Forester club … isn’t it cute? I love it but, it looks like every other car on the road! We’re never going to find it in the Costco parking lot! I’m still not quite used to the push-button start. We’ve only had one car ever since my old 1982 Volvo finally said bye-bye (after 40 years of perfect service ~ I’m of the “if it ain’t broke” school of thought)! All we’ve had is the van for the last year … we’ve been joined at the hip. Now I can go somewhere, and Joe can go somewhere else, and all at the same time! How novel! Note: Rhododendrons and the wisteria . . . see how fluffy?

But I digress, we’re talking dahlias . . . and LOOK! Our first milestone, they ARE coming up! (One worries. Actually, two worries.)

Every morning, after checking on the dahlias, out to the woods we go . . . to walk the sun-dappled dirt road through the shady green to where the pond opens to the sea . . .

The wonderful thing about walking on dirt instead of asphalt, is how kind it is to your knees! Also, less breathing of car fumes… years and years of doing this adds up! 

These days (except when we get to the sea where we take them out), we walk with AirPods in our ears … Joe has one, I have the other, and we listen to the same book (from my iPhone) … it’s Hamnet now, a not-THAT fictional story of Shakespeare’s son … who’s name was actually Hamnet … it’s finely woven and beautifully written with the few Shakespeare facts we do know. . . so it’s fact-based . . . we’re only a few pages into it, but so far, I’m loving it. We love historical novels. If any of you, hint-hint, think you might be visiting Shakespeare’s home in the future, this would be a fun read!

This is the actual house of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne (Agnes) Hathaway. Joe has to watch his head! Look how crooked it is! And still standing! It’s wonderful! Can you imagine how she would feel if she knew? But again, I digress . . . we’re supposed to be walking now! Here we go… MUSICA

These days there’s lots of action around the water’s edge . . . and when you’re on foot, you don’t miss seeing the little things . . .Me, too . . .

Lots of new babies amid the sparkles, guarded by their watchful parents  . . .

Festive, happy, grateful people out digging for clams and canoeing, communing with nature! It smells wonderful out there!

The waves roll in toward “Stonehenge” of Martha’s Vineyard ~ but this stone circle is much more transient, like the seasons on the island ~ it goes away every winter, but it’s back, a little changed, every summer. But just like Stonehenge, you see it, you like it, you take pictures of it, and you wonder, “why?”  . . . People being people, because we can.💞

And one more celebratory thing before I get down to business . . . this:⬆️  Speaking of yes we can: Girlfriends, off-island, TOGETHER, having LUNCH in a FRENCH restaurant, WITH wine, in the middle of the day, AND shopping. Okay? See what I mean? It’s because we’re free, and so happy to celebrate! We’ve only done this once, but once is so many more times than we’ve done it in the last year and a half!

Soft spring nights having dinner next to the water with dear old friends . . . I turned back to look as we were leaving our table … and had to take this photo for you . . . isn’t it insane? How can this BE? Just a little moment in time. Our beautiful earth. These vaccines have set us free! I pray everyone gets them so we can live like this forever!

Speaking of beautiful … wasn’t it wonderful to see the Queen, all dressed in flowers, out and about, so chipper, joking, and full of smiles? She truly set the tone with that smile ~ an inspiration for everyone . . . she seemed as overjoyed as I’ve been feeling . . .🌸

…despite the losses. But like her, we won’t forget. We are still honoring what happened to us all… our common grief . . . I saw this memorial, each flag representing a lost soul during the pandemic, while driving through Falmouth ~ every small town and big city in America has one… But despite it all, Queen Elizabeth showed us, with her action, despite profound loss, life is for the living. At age 95, she gave hope. A profound gift to everyone.🇬🇧

spring cleaningSo, off to work we go! What have I been doing, you may ask? 

This. Spring cleaning to the nth degree! I’ve been getting ready for our neighborhood yard sale ~ happening next Saturday the 26th! And I have to say, instead of bemoaning the never-ending work that goes into doing this after twenty years🤪, I feel lucky to be lightening our load in a recycling kind of way! For all the joy I found in finding and using these charming old treasures all these years, it makes me happy to think soon it will be someone else’s turn!

Even a yard sale has it’s pretty moments! I can’t help myself. I tie things in ribbons.

I washed, and dried the linens on the line, thanking them for the memories as I say goodbye. I chose to believe that red embroidered monogram said S B … but I do believe it will be just as easy for a G B to think it was made for them!

I love these old things, I’m amazed at the kind of work that went into making them and wonder about the world they were born into … wishing they could talk! I think the initials here are D C, but it’s very hard to tell ….there might be an I in there. I never cared to know for sure, it was the beauty of the work I could not say no to!

Love all the little embroidery and lace trim . . . the heaviness of the old cottons, the sheerness of some of the fine linens…the colors in the old quilts. 

This tablecloth has tiny appliqués of flowers and butterflies all over it, sewn with the tiniest of stitches. As I fold these linens, I remember the parties where I used them, and think about the good ju-ju they will bring to the lucky person who gets them next. Letting go, while reveling in the memories.♥️ Joe brings in a box from the barn marked “Yard Sale” ~ I open it and say, “OMG, I forgot all about this!!”

These wonderful old books have decorated our tables at lots of dinner parties!

Vintage tea pots, pin cushions, sewing baskets with their strange vintage contents from a bygone era (irresistible, I have four, three for the yard sale, one for me!), books, dishes, throw pillows, cups, rugs, baskets, kitchenware, dish towels, furniture, garden things ~ Joe’s in charge of tools and man stuff  . . .  Like native Americans I believe everything has a soul and a destiny and that these things deserve to escape the cardboard box, the dark cupboard, the messy barn, to run free and be useful. My girlfriend Margot likes to anthropomorphize her things, she says it makes it easier to say goodbye ~ I laughed so hard with her on the phone when she said, “Run little pie plate, run!” And FYI: I did try to do a yard sale in my webstore, but it takes so long to measure everything (laying tablecloths and linen towels out on the dining room floor to measure them ~ Jack positions himself in the middle!), take pictures, front, back, sides, and bottom, write a description for each item, upload and send pics to Kellee so she can put them up on the website ~ and time is the one thing I’m running out of … although we did get a few things up, and I am saving others, things that are so good, they should go to you . . . which I’ll get to after this imminent looming event is over!

Yard sales . . . we have everything for PLM, People Like Me, people with . . .  

But the world does not stop for a Yard Sale! Yes, I’m telling you the truth! It does not!

New things have come in! A new dream charm! Filled with blue skies, fluffy white clouds and rainbows! Perfect timing for our world right now.

It has “Go. Be. Love.” engraved on it . . . Kellee put it up in the webstore a couple of weeks ago!

This too, Janie made us a new Courage banner . . . with the most darling gift envelope.

Can there ever be too much of this? Never! Even the good things require it! Janie also made us beach banners! A Secret Notes are back! All Here.

And LOOK, the samples arrived!!! One of each of the new cups was sent from England, so I can approve the final color! I’ve been drinking out of them! I love them! Here’s “Blessed” (the other two items in this photo are not part of the arrivals!).

And here’s “Rabbit-Rabbit” … I am thrilled with them ~ the only change I requested was to make the dark lines around the bunnies slightly lighter … I also asked them to lighten up a bit around their “toes” … I want them to look pink!

But look how cute “Rabbit-Rabbit” is with the rest of the “collection!” We needed a cup with a pink background!

And the last one is Winter! I did a reprint because so many of you asked . . . one of my prettiest cups, and smaller than the other two as you can see in the photo below.

Here are the “backs” of each cup … which I try to make as pretty as the “fronts” so no matter which hand you drink with, you are happy!💞

And here are the handles . . . the “Blessed” cup is a little hard to read in this photo, it says “My favorite prayer is Thank you.”

And the bottoms . . .

Ta-daaaa! Kellee just put them up for presale … go HERE! They should arrive from England the end of September or the first of October . . . you know they are special order and limited in number . . . I have to tell them soon how many to make … I think I know, but I just want to make sure you all get one if you want one!

But right now, for even more fun . . . how about a give-away?

I have three prizes for you today . . . one Fourth of July cup… (it’s out of stock, this is an extra I found in the cupboard!)

 And to celebrate this amazing spring, despite the fact that yesterday was the FIRST day of SUMMER! ~ two “Spring cups.” To be entered, just leave a message in “comments” down at the bottom of this post, you’ll see tiny letters and at the end of the words, click on “comments” and voila! We’ll have a drawing in a little while and announce the winner here, but for now, you are ALL winners, so enjoy!

I told you it was all good news! And now, what many of you have been waiting for ~ NEWS about the England trip!

Joe and I went out to lunch and did our favorite thing … brought our books and talked about our trip to England next year . . . I wanted to figure out really special tours for all of you who might wish to take one when you arrive, tours that would make you feel as if you were walking through my book A Fine Romance. And, I wanted you all to be able to come to the PICNIC we planned! You know we found a great travel agency, one that does tours for 15 or less people, and takes care of EVERYTHING, so you don’t have to worry about ANYTHING! Between us we worked out 3 different tours, each of them lasting 8 days, all wonderful places Joe and I have been to … your biggest problem is to choose just one! These tours are a win-win-win! They all end up in London, where you can either go home, stay for a few more days, or join another tour! And, on the last day, before you go to London, all the buses come back to the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen, called Stourhead, where, after our time on the ship together, and then time on each of the tours, we will meet back up with stories to share! Is that good or what?!

So here are the basics: but first, mas MUSICA!

The Queen Mary sails from New York harbor May 1, 2022. We will arrive in Southampton on May 8th. People who choose to go on a tour will be picked up at the ship ~ and off they will go for a week of fun in the English Countryside. I can’t wait until you see the itineraries! They’ve kept me in dreamland for the last few weeks! Different clothes, but nothing else has changed!

So far, 98 staterooms, filled with US! Kindred spirits! have been booked!👏 Isn’t that wild? The ship is almost sold out! If you try to make reservations and are thwarted in any way, ask to be put on the wait list. I’m told that many people will cancel at the end of the year (everyone has up until Dec. 31 to cancel for a full refund), so there’s a good chance you’ll get a reservation. 

To sign up for the ship crossing, contact Susan Gannon at 800-468-7752 x41663 or Cunard reservations 800-728-6273 ~ tell them you’re with  Group #TNM (USA) or, #TN3 (Canada), Voyage M211, with the “Susan Branch Girlfriend Group.” They handle the ship questions, but have nothing to do with the tours… fyi.

To see photos of the ship, go HERE.I have lots of on-board fun planned … but it’s a little early for full confirmations for some things, I’m waiting until closer to the time to make sure! I’ll be talking about this for the next year! The best part, is that we will all have each other, kindred spirits! 

Our Picnic will be in the world famous garden at Stourhead, Sunday, May 15, at approximately 12:30 pm… on a beautiful lawn in front of the grass bridge like you see below . . . it’s one of our favorite places in England, pure magic, where we had our very first picnic! You are all invited. And that includes EVERYONE, that means you, Brits, and you over there in Norway, and YOU, out there in Spain! ALL our Girlfriends, everywhere! We’ll be waiting there for you on May 15th, 2022, at 12:30 pm, join us if you can! If you’ve elected to take a tour, the buses will stop so you can get a picnic lunch, and they will bring everyone back that day! The rest of you are on your own, but England makes travel VERY easy, as I’m about to show you.

FYI on the tours, you are all welcome to join any of the tours ~ you don’t have to take the ship … you can fly over if you like, you just have to get to Southampton to meet the bus! Talk to Kelsey, as mentioned below. (FYI, speaking of below, that’s Sissinghurst White Garden!)

To see the different tours: Go to www.discovereuropeltd.com/susan-branch print them out and read through them, you can check out most of the places in my book if you like, … and then call Kelsey Matson and her coworker at Discover Europe LTD with your questions ~ they handle everything having to do with tours (but not the ship). Call Kelsey from 9 to 5 EST, M-F, at 866-563-7077. FYI, they have almost the exact same cancellation program as Cunard ~ for a full refund you must cancel by January 1. So that gives everyone time to try this all on for size! For any of you that may want a longer tour, maybe go to Scotland, or go up to the Lake District, just let Kelsey know. She can arrange pretty much anything as long as there are enough of you to warrant the trip. You can work it out between yourselves on my Facebook page! And remember, we are a large group. We have a year to get this done, so in case she doesn’t get back to you immediately, I promise, she is wonderful and she will!And, for you who you get off the ship but don’t wish to go on a tour? What to do, what to do? The options are basically endless. There are buses and trains to London, you can hire a private car, you can go with a group. Talk to others on my Facebook page, and perhaps put something together there. Everything you want to know is available in the Google machine.

If you feel comfortable driving and wish to do so, you’re fine, you can rent a car in Southampton. And for those of you who’d rather have a driver, there are many choices. There are cabs at the ship in Southampton, they can take you to a bus, or train, or you can arrange for a car to pick you up and take you to London (it’s only 1 hr. 42 min) where you won’t need a car, because they have cabs and the Underground! Totally civilized. They even speak a language that’s very much like English! Extremely handy! You can get a city map and do the MUST SEE things like Westminster Abbey. You can get on a red double decker bus and see the city. There are airport transfers from your hotel to the airport for your flight home. And London is where many day-trips originate, which take you everywhere, from Bath, to Sissinghurst, to Oxford! Just Google!    

GOOGLE IDEAS
Google: “London Walks”
*For other tours from London: Check out THIS
*For best things to do in London, look HERE
*For Day Trips: London by coach . . . 
*Go here to see day trips with locals who will take you to Hever (heaven place) or Chartwell (Churchill’s home), or Sissinghurst (amazing garden). 
For even more far-flung adventure, remember that some Viking cruises depart from London! Also, Paris is only a 2 1/2 hour train ride from London! They have cabs in Paris too! There are boat taxies on the Seine . . . car, shmar! We don’t need no stinking car!
Don’t forget to leave a comment for the drawing!! I have to go, have a lot more pie plates to set free! Hope you are all well, and keeping well, and getting stronger, and being hugged! Sending all my love XOXO!
Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , | 1,941 Comments