California Dreamin’

I go on and on about how beautiful New England is and how much I love Martha’s Vineyard.  You know it’s stolen my heart, hook line and sinker, and I can’t help it. But there are many wonderful things about California, where I was born, and I thought I should wax a little bit poetic about it. Especially since I’ll be going there in September and want everyone to still love me. 

Here I come. . .

Going up the Pacific coast, along the wide sweep of coastline outside of Morro Bay (half way between LA and San Francisco), where the land slopes down to the sea and the road follows close to the water . . . I roll down the windows, feel the wind, turn up the music, and sing along to my favorite Highway-One song (try to stay in your seat now, you’re driving!) →

Can you feel the wind?  Note how gently the road curves. I know, it’s like meditation, instant relaxation, but please, try and stay in your lane. About twenty minutes along this road, going north is a small town called Kokomo . . . oops, I mean Cambria, a town I know many of you have visited, where there is an English Tea Room.

The Tea Cozy in Cambria

This is where we go for delicious lunch, then we go antiquing at one of the great shops around the corner. BTW, everyone who’s familiar with the area would want me to tell you not to miss the shop called Birds Of a Feather.  And for a beautiful ocean view, Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill in Cambria is wonderful. Lean back in your chair, feel the sunshine and balmy air, and watch the ocean some February afternoon. 

But what I really miss is our house out there, especially our next door neighbors . . .

Our California neighbors

I found out that llamas are a lot like camels in the realm of spitting; I had to get to know them slowly; you don’t just go running up to them.  They will move their lower jaw in a way that signifies they will be spitting soon, and at all costs, this should be avoided.  I have seen them do it to each other, and it is not nice. Now that they know me, they don’t spit; they just want me to pop a pineapple guava (or forty) into their mouths; the guavas grow along the fence, but they have eaten every single leaf, branch and fruit within reach.  Now they need me.  It’s so nice to feel wanted.

This is my favorite tree at our house.  Whenever I want an orange I can just go outside my door, and there they are, peel it, eat it juicy in the sun.  This is true for limes, lemons, tangerines and grapefruit!  Not to mention avocadoes and artichokes.  They don’t call it the land of fruit and honey for nothing.

Isn’t this wild?  No matter how hard I try, I cannot make my Vineyard roses do this.  The dry heat of California is rose heaven. They love the breeze off the ocean, just enough of it to freshen their air.  This is what I cut in just one day.  They do this all the time; even bloom in the winter. We have to force them to go dormant by physically stripping off their leaves!  Otherwise they just keep going.

This is my California picket-fence garden.  You can garden year-round in this part of California; it’s why the locals always look so happy!  Nearby San Luis Obispo was mentioned by Oprah as the happiest city in America!  This is one reason why.

Sweet peas will bloom from March or April through August!  More than you can ever handle! Bouquets you can bury your face in.

Lavender grows like a weed.  In the best possible sense of the word.  See the yellow roses back there?  They grow and bloom year round; they are “Julia Child” roses and smell even better than they look. 

And this, can you stand it?  Jasmine grows over every doorway; you breathe in fragrance with every breath. You go to sleep with it just outside the window.

And the sunsets are beautiful too!

So we go watch it from one of the restaurants that dot the coast around Pismo Beach…this is the view from our table.  We see whales and (real) dolphins here and watch pelicans fly over. We bring the Sunday paper, and sit for hours in the morning.  Once we came with my family for lunch, and we stayed for dinner!  There’s another restaurant we love to go to, just above Malibu, called Paradise Cove, where you can sit with your feet in the sand and have lunch served to you.  Have you been there?  Surfer pictures all over the walls.  There’s a lot to be said for California. 

And that’s just for starters . . . that doesn’t even begin to cover the smell of the pine in the mountains and the giant Sequoia trees, where if you step out of view of any landmarks, you walk on a miles-deep, perfectly silent, cushion of pine, and could be lost in about one minute.  Or what it’s like to travel over the Golden Gate Bridge, over the bay spotted with tiny white sailboats with flags flying, from a swinging contraption that only one word can describe: impossible.  Or the winding ride through Big Sur, on the edge of the world, where you truly think you can see all the way to Hawaii; or late nights, listening to the owls hoot, and coyotes howl;  or flinging oneself into the arms of old friends and family.

On our way out to California, we are stopping in St. Paul, Minnesota for a very special event called The Creative Connection.  (You can read about it by clicking on COMING SOON/EVENTS in the column on the right towards the top of this page. I hope some of you can come!)  I’m sure we will fall in love with Minnesota.  We seem to fall in love with every place we go. Last March, Joe and I were sitting at a table at a wonderful sidewalk cafe in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles; the food was so good; he looked up at me and said, “Let’s live here!”

The moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free  . . .

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109 Responses to California Dreamin’

  1. Jeannie M says:

    Aah! A girl after my own heart! I love where I live now, but growing up in So. Cal, has a special place in my heart. Back when I was a child Laguna Beach was a town where you could roam without worry, walking to town with the neighbors collie I would run a stick along the white pickit fences and pick snapdragons to talk to me on our way to the beach to snap seaweeds, and watch the waves roll up to the shore. I can smell the salt air now!
    Thank you for your stories!
    Love ya

    • Tina J. says:

      We went to Moonstone Bar and Grill too in June! Such good food and service.We always stay in Cayucos, right between Morro Bay and Cambria. Another good shop to try is Heart and Home in Cambria. Great beach treasures. Also try the Brown Butter cookie store in Cayucos. The best cookies ever!!! We even visited your store in Arroyo Grande a few years ago. Where is your house in California? I’m in the Central Valley where its hot and hotter. Loved the pictures this morning. I still think MV is better than Cali. Have a good 1. xo TJ

      • Berit says:

        Ah yes, Heart & Home is one of my favorite stores in Cambria. I always have to pick something up when I’m there which usually includes earrings.

        • Lisa says:

          Your post made me seriously homesick! The pics are beautiful!! I grew up in Santa Maria, just a short drive south of there. I am now *stuck* in Houston. I’m doing good here, but would LOVE to move back.

  2. Miss holly says:

    Oh my gosh… so beautiful….it really does seem you have the best of both worlds….don’t worry we will totally still love you!!!!

  3. Susan Beach says:

    Thank-you so much for the wonderful stories on your blog. I look forward to reading each and every entry.
    Susan Beach

  4. Marilyn says:

    The flowers are absolutely breathtaking!!!! I lived in northern CA for several years, can relate to the coast & the Golden Gate Bridge, but I never saw flowers like those in your photos – I want to be there!

  5. cecelia says:

    Now I want to go back to California for a visit. We drove the coast from Portland to San Francisco a couple years ago. Stopped along the way. The flowers in Calif are beautiful!!

  6. Heidi says:

    Your California home looks as charming as your New England home! I was born and raised in So. Cal and have not missed it much since moving to Washington state…until this moment. 🙂 I’ve seen almost every nook and cranny of CA over the years, except Cambria, so I must go there! I’m an English Tea Room fan so the “Tea Cozy” is definitely on my bucket list. There’s a lot to love about California, so thank you so much for reminding me of the sights (white-knuckle rides along highway 1!), smells (Jasmine mixed with ocean air…ahhh…) and sounds (love those Beach Boys!!) and warm fuzzy feelings from from my youth. I’d almost forgotten!

  7. Diane says:

    Yay! Thank you Susan for sharing the fabulous-ness that is California!
    Born and raised here, I think I’ve seen most of the state, then
    discover some place new!
    Still, the one time I was lucky enough to visit the Vineyard, I called my
    (then) hubby and said “Bring the kids, meet me here, I don’t wanna come home!” (but of course, home I went…)
    Every day I take at least a few minutes to thank my lucky stars that I’m a California girl (but I’d still move in a heart-beat to New England!)

  8. MerrieSherrie says:

    Oh, sweetie, now I have to drive up to Cambria for tea! Hubby loved the lunch he had in Pismo at your rec restaurant! And look at your spectacular garden…it that a bit of fog off the ocean,too?! When you come out, if you have time, try Glen Ivy Spa. Just was there today. Heavenly hot mineral waters, outdoor pools (with peach bellinis!), gorgeous landscaping! Spa….ahhhhhh….. I so love your blog! Love and hugs, Sherry xx

  9. Charlene says:

    You really do have the best of both worlds. I have been to California twice(once to meet you at Scrapbook Expo) and I loved it there. I’m curious….does your home decor in California differ from Martha’s Vineyard?

  10. Ronda Adams says:

    Los Feliz is a quaint little town. I’ve lived here for three years. There are many great shops and I love being able to walk to so many ammenities in such a short time. However! You should look at the crime map on the LAPD website (zip code: 90029) before moving here. There are those who are trying to improve the area but it is a struggle at the moment. Take care, be safe

  11. Peg says:

    You have the best of both worlds with a picket fence garden in each! Have you been to the Alpaca farm on MV? We were just there and loved seeing them, especially the babes with their moms. I hope you don’t mind that we snapped a few photos as we walked past your home. We always stroll up your street and wave to you each time we are on the Vineyard…my husband laughs when I say that you are a girlfriend of mine!

  12. Betty says:

    Oh, that sounds wonderful and such beautiful flowers! There are some lovely spots in Queensland just like that…..wish I could escape to them now. It’s winter here with cold, wet, windy weather but the sun is shining today:).
    Thanks for your wonderful blog. I look forward to every post.

  13. pam says:

    Love you California photos.. that area where you live is so pretty, I love to visit and stay at the Apple Farm. We enjoyed coming to visit your shop and Branches, and of course YOU! Happy to know you’ll be back soon! xo

  14. joan says:

    We drove through northern California two years ago and instantly fell in love. There are days I spend hours just trying to figure how I can move there!

  15. Country Gal says:

    Awesome photos ! Love your gardens. We have a tea house in the small town of Sparta near by . The couple that own and operate it are winderful people and she collects tea pots just like I do only she has hundreds and I am proud to say I have one that she doesnt lol. Love your site ! Have a wonderful day !

  16. Lin says:

    Well, now you’ve gone and done it…….made CA sound like heaven! And here I thought it was the land of weird Hollywood people and traffic everywhere. :)) Your gardens are beautiful! I’ve always wanted to be able to have sweet peas, but the Ohio humidity does them in every time……And you have a Julia Child! I do, too!
    You are so fortunate to have both of these places to call home!

  17. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing California in your blog. I have lived in California all my life and if I had my choice I would live in SLO(San Luis Obispo). I use to work there at my old job and I tell you that place is MAGICAL!!! I don’t get up there much these days so these pictures were a real treat!!! Thanks!!!

  18. laurie says:

    Your photos melt this northern Canadian heart for sure , thoes are blossoms I can only dream of.I have to be honest with you,, I have all your books and I know this sounds sappy (I have tried not to reveal this) but reading your books helped me recovery from a head injury that is slowing robbing me of my sight.I was in an accident and spent many months in recovery.I knew nothing of you until the nurse in the hospital brought me one of your books from the library, you see I have been a water color artist for years and I fell in love with your welcoming friendly books.My husband (well ordered,, our smaqll Canadian town didn;t have your books) everyone there was.It was your books that helped me through.I started my art blog in April because my vision is slipping away and I must paint as much as I can now.I don’t talk of it anymore than I have to on my blog because its an art and life blog not a head injury blog.I got my nerve up tonight to tell you all this..I’m so sorry to bother you with all this but I’m taking care of a long list of must doo’s and thanking you is a big one.Thankyou for Laurie,,

    • sbranch says:

      Sending you all my best Laurie; I love your spirit. Thank you so much for saying that to me; I can’t tell you how much it means. Come visit often!

    • jacqui G says:

      I was so moved by your story. I pray that you will find comfort in your future. For now, keep your spirit strong- it’s shinning out for all of us to see- and learn from.
      God Bless,

    • Deborah says:

      Hi Lauri, Thank you for sharing this with us, I am glad you find comfort in Susan’s drawings, art, and works…I know I do too! I am sorry you are going through these trials-my prayers go out to you, and I hope the very best for you too-DeborahT.

    • Gert says:

      Hello sweet Laurie… thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your spirit is amazing! I shall keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Continue on…


  19. CAROL OLIVER says:


  20. Evelyn says:

    I love sweetpeas but haven’t had any success growing them ever! You are
    living a lot of people’s dream. Lucky girl.

  21. Just before clicking on this post, hubby (sitting beside me, map in hand) asks me, “what time (hours of the day) is that book-signing in October?” (the one You told me about). We are studying our wish-to-do list and trying to put some plans together for an itinerary. If it’s at all possible, we want to include a stop at the book signing while we are in CA this October. Your post could not have been timelier. Wow, the flowers are lush and beautiful!

  22. Barbara says:

    Thank you for such a lovely picture that you’ve painted about California and your home there. I had heard that Llamas spit but fortunately haven’t ever encountered it. Ick

    Hugs XX

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I walked right up to them at first, not knowing, and suddenly their jaws started doing the “prep to spit” movement; I thought, “this looks like a camel,” and then, brain clicking through Encyclopedia Britannica and the 5th grade, I thought, “don’t camels spit?” As soon as it all registered, I ran, in the nick of time.

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Ha! They spit but they have LOVELY wool that I spin and knit with! I’m glad to hear that a person has a warning as the couple of times I’ve been around them, I’ve practically tip-toed to not alarm them or make them mad…Gross is the word! 🙂

  23. Nancy Paine says:

    Hi Susan! This is from Nancy, the gingerbread snowflake lady! How could I have not known about your blog? I just discovered it, from this latest Willard. Well, I have to tell you something unfortunate, the quaint little shop in Cambria, Birds of a Feather, is now closed. A friend of mine and I spent a long weekend in Cambria in March of 2010, upon hearing of it’s charm from friends who lived in Lompoc. This shop was a must-see, we were told, and it was open, and had many sweet treasures. I heard it closed later in the year. We did visit the Tea Cozy, too, and it was very nice. Cambria is a little gem. San Luis Obispo was also so green, and charming, I was stuck there at the airport due to weather in my connecting city, and it was delightful! Such nice people!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh no! Birds of a Feather is gone! That’s too bad. San Luis Obispo was my home for many years…now I hear it won the award last year for “Happiest Place in America!”

      • CAROL OLIVER says:

        oh how sad….all the great old stores are closing…its really a shame…Susan…your shop was also a Gem….and I was very sad when it closed…….but…I understand….I have many things from your …old…shop….

  24. Hi there…this is the most beautiful, delightful blog I have ever seen! I need to find out more about you…you are an artist, author, speaker? Amazing graphics here, reminds me a bit of Marjolein Bastin’s art work which I have loved forever. I am adding you…come say hi sometime, we have gorgeous sunsets in southern Utah also! ;D

  25. Bonnie Crawford says:

    Hi Sue!
    I am glad to hear you will be coming HOME to California in Sept.! Just to let you know….the ‘other’ Bonnie Crawford, has closed her darling store, ‘Birds of a Feather,’in Cambria. We all miss it, but Bonnie still appears in antique shows around the county. (I love sharing her name, LOL! ) We were just in Paso Robles for our mid-state fair today, and commented several times how blessed to live where people go on vacation! 🙂 We stopped in Morro Bay on our way home, at our favorite ‘dive’, the ‘Lil Hut,’ for fish and chips, and sat out at the marina, and shared our fries with the gulls. We had an amazing and beautiful day! I bet you do miss the Central Coast, don’t you? But you really do live in the best of both worlds, don’t you Sue?? I remember your BEAUTIFUL Julia Child roses, and they really are the most beautiful I have seen! Thanks for sharing pictures of your amazing yard. I fell fortunate that I have been able to actually see it in person, and it is as beautiful as ever! We will be happy to see you in a few months…
    Love you Sue, xo

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Bonnie! I wonder if the “other Bonnie” will be at the Remnants of the Past show? See you soon! Love seeing you here! xo

      • Jeannette says:

        Yes, Bonnie Crawford from “Birds of A Feather” shop (formerly in Cambria) will be at her usual spot in the “Remnants of the Past” show! I missed the one this Spring in Nipomo, but hope to see her and you at the October show! Since we live less than two hours south of there, my husband and I have been going to Cambria for about 32 years and Moonstone Beach is our favorite getaway place.

      • Bonnie Crawford says:

        Good Morning Sue! I think the ‘other’ Bonnie will be in the Remnants of the Past show….she usually is! It will be fun to see you in just a few short months!! Yahoo!! Tell Joe hi from Tom, and me too! Love you both!!

  26. Mary says:

    Hello Susan!
    I was thrilled to see you mention The Tea Cozy!! My daughter and her family visited us in March and we took them to the coast for a week. We went to The Tea Cozy for tea and a snack. My grandson was then about 4 months old and extremely vocal, so I took him out front so as not to disturb the other guests. While enjoying the lovely outside, what should come wandering around the side of the building but three of the most beautiful chickens (or roosters :-p) I have ever seen!! They walked about, clucking and pecking in the dirt while we sat quietly and enjoyed them!! I loved it!!
    Have you been to Hearts Ease in Cambria? If not, you would enjoy it very much, I am sure!!
    I just read the latest Willard – my husband and I went to see “Midnight In Paris” last week and I loved it soooooo much!!! And my husband did, too!!! Yay! So glad you found it and loved it!! Time travel has always been my greatest wish. *sigh* I highly recommend the book, TIME AND AGAIN, by Jack Finney!

    • sbranch says:

      I read it…later on I knew someone who lived at the Dakota in New York! If it could happen anywhere, it could happen there!

  27. dawn says:

    Oh, those ROSES….
    California certainly is beautiful, and I count myself very fortunate to have grown up in a tiny beach town between San Francisco and Point Reyes. No matter what troubles were going on at home, I had the beaches, the cliffs and the dirt roads to wander around on with my friends for hours and hours every day.
    But I’ll admit, I enjoy living in a place with the four seasons much more. There is something to be said about NOT being able to harvest roses in winter. I never want to have a hot, sunny Christmas again. And I don’t want to give up autumn for anything….not all the roses and orange trees in the world.
    You are so fortunate to have both!

    • sbranch says:

      I have to agree with you…the total thrill you get when the first daffodil blooms is an amazing feeling. If it snows on Christmas Eve, you think you live in a Christmas card.

      • Nancy Paine says:

        I didn’t think I would miss the seasons as much as I do, when I moved to the Phoenix area in 2003. The longer I am here, the more I miss the REAL seasons! We have little ones, and they are late! When the leaves on the Bradford Pear trees were bright red and gorgeous in December, I told them, “You are TOO LATE!” It’s Christmas time now! So, I put up all my Autumn decor in August (starting today with my daughter’s help). This way, we can create our own season. I even sprinkle the oak leaves I buy at Michael’s on my porch, next to the scarecrow we made! Friends love my Autumn house. I hope to move to a place with real seasons again, at some point. Snow & cozy sweaters and baking and soup on the stove, when it’s cold out,….

        • Nancy Paine says:

          Also, my friend who lives in Oregon and I are going to meet in Vermont for the first week of October this year! We are staying at B&B’s. You gave me some great tips for meandering and seeing the backroads in New England in the Fall when I came to the Cape with my hubby and kids in 2009, thanks, Susan! I had the time of my life, it was so gorgeous! We had real Autumn in Iowa when I was a kid, and also in Albuquerque, where I spent most of my life.

  28. Jacqui G says:

    I have only been to California once, but I often think I would like to visit again someday. Those are my very favorite kind of Roses…big open blooms with a lovely scent. They are called cabbage roses, aren’t they? I used to grow them in my home in CT. Have a wonderful day!

  29. Theresa says:

    Good Morning Susan
    God bless you this day and always….thanks for sharing such real beauty on your blog site. The roses are like a pillow from heaven…my day will be awesome…thanks so much…I needed this….theresa

  30. Sharon from Maine says:

    What an exciting and beautiful world you live in Susan! Wonderful for us, too, that you share it with us. I’ve never been west of Michigan, and probably will never see California, but reading your description of it and seeing your photos almost makes me feel like I’m there. I couldn’t believe you have a Julia Child rose! I sent away for one this past spring and the poor thing is not doing too good. It’s still surviving, though, after struggling with some little chewy bugs, I have no idea what, and now they have flower buds again, so hopefully this time they don’t get eaten and I’ll actually get to see and smell one of the blossoms. Don’t worry – – we’ll always love you no matter where you live! Hope you’re having a great time with your visiting friends! love, sharon

  31. Paula B. says:

    I still haven’t recovered from the Willard I read yesterday but this post is so lovely – I want to move. I marvel over and over again when I am reading anything that you write, at how wonderful a communicator you are. How do you so effectively capture what is charming and will be so welcomed by us all? It truly is amazing. Like others I am appreciative of you sharing your world with the rest of us, it is so nice visiting there. Glad you have a blog now.

  32. Robin in New Jersey says:

    Hi Susan! I just finished reading Willard in my inbox. Loved it! I think I am going to print it out and save it. Poor Nancy….so sad, but also shows us that we all can find deep inside of us the will to carry-on. I have always wanted chickens…someday. Do you think you could find someway to have her book republished?

    Thank you for sharing all your beauty with us!

    • sbranch says:

      Not too sure; copyright is probably owned by someone. Maybe with new interest they will republish. If that happens I will be sure to let you know.

  33. Lani says:

    Living in Ventura (right down the coast from San Luis Obispo) for 49 years has made me appreciate all the wonderful things California has to offer. Everything you mentioned is so true…it’s just a beautiful state. My earlier years (father in the military) were spent in Cape Cod and I love it also, but there’s no place like California. Can’t wait to have you back in September.

  34. Nina says:

    Loved the Willard in my inbox and the visit to California! You truly do live the best of both worlds and thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to share both those worlds with the rest of us!
    I myself are a “four seasons” girl and my favorite season is Autumn. I just love your Autumn book it has to be my favorite! Here in England we get a little mix of seasons but not so extreme. Every year we hope for snow on Christmas day at our home town but the last time it did was many moons ago!
    Still maybe this year…….xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  35. Kimi says:

    Hi Susan

    California is a wonderful place to live and or visit! you get both luck lady…. I use to live in Minnetonka, MN for 8yrs it was wonderful. I moved back 21yrs ago back home in Naperville. Susan Your home is lovely something right out of a book one would not want to close. Have a wonderful time in September with your husband Joe and enjoy.

    Ps I ordered both your Calendars 2011~2012 Kimi

  36. bj says:

    Living in dry, hot West Texas all my loooong life, I can’t even begin to imagine having such beautiful gardens as this. The flowers…just breathtaking.

  37. Melanie says:

    Hi Susan,
    I live in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles – and I just loved the California Post. I am a Calif-Dweller born in Sac – living in L.A. now. You painted a truly magical portrait of the flora and fauna on our coast – hub and I love Fort Bragg and Mendocino area from back in the Margaret Fox “Cafe Beaujolais” days. I took a picture once of the hugest rhododendron blossoms ever – they covered my hand two times over! Thanks again for the great pics and the lovely post California Dreaming post.

  38. Deborah says:

    Incredible pictures, thank you for sharing,…I love the pic of the roses and the lavender, and the moon along with the quote-perfect!

  39. Sharon from Maine says:

    Had to write again Susan after reading Willard. Poor Nancy, what a struggle she had in her life! I’m so glad you wrote about her, to remind us when times are tough to think of Nancy and all she went through. And for her to have the fortitude (I guess that would be a good word to use) to actually write her little books to help her survive, it’s amazing, especially considering it was in the 1800s and she was a woman on top of everything else!

    PS Can’t wait to see you in Where Women Create magazine!

    • sbranch says:

      I know, what a story. Winter is so dark and cold; can you imagine how it was for her in 1870? Amazing. And then all these festive bright chickens in her memory. Lovely.
      Thank you about the magazine!

  40. Terry says:

    You never cease to make me feel joyful! Thank you!
    I have relatives in California. My husband will not fly, so we have yet to go out to visit them. However, I did follow you on Twitter as you took the train out there, and you may have got him thinking about doing the same. Thank you.

  41. Gert says:

    Oh Susan…I love this post. California is beautiful and there is ‘always’ so much to do.. “fun in the sun”….smile…is how I remember CA. Redondo Beach was one of our favorite spots to go.

    We went to one of our green houses here in town and asked about the Julia Child roses (I wanted to smell one soooo bad)…they didn’t carry it:( And if any of them did it would have been them:( So I was bummed…. Someday though,
    I just know I wil find one…smile….

    xoox Gert

    • sbranch says:

      They didn’t have them here either! Maybe we all need to talk about it much more until the world finds out!

  42. Kristina says:

    Oh… (sigh…) This makes me miss home (or what was home for 15 years)… I moved away from Southern California in November 2008 to the Austin, Texas area. Love it here, but your beautiful descriptions here, Susan, have made me long for the blue skies, palm trees, ocean breezes and…most of all…my gal pals in SoCal! I’ll be envious of your September trip “back to Cali!”

  43. Dear Susan,
    You’re definitely an East Coast/West Coast Penpal & I love your “wittyness”!
    I agree with you on the “Cursive Controversy”! It’s truly a misdemeanor!
    Thank you and God bless you for bringing the rays of sunshine into my life!
    Bunny- “A Fellow Baby-Boomer” ;>)

  44. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    Those were just lovely pictures. I Have never been to California, but you are sure making me want to go!
    Those Roses are just yummy. I would love to have flowers growing all year round. Have fun in September when you go

  45. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Good Afternoon Sweet Sue…are You having Fun with Your Best~Friends?…as far as “California~Dreamin'” goes…when My Son was 5…I made a Trip to California…When I walked out ofLAX Breathed In L.A. I felt Like I was “Home” (& I am a New Yorker)….I stayed in California for 2 weeks…then for the next 4 years I would fly back & fourth…I Love California & I actually called Myself…Angie~Malibu for a Long time(I Swear) :-)…& Your Town…San Luis Obispo…was voted the Happiest Place…when I heard that I said to myself “of Course…cause of Susan Branch” lol…seriously!…anyway so in September You will be back in California…how long will You stay? & are you going to Spend All The Glorious Holidays There or Back on Your Beloved Island?…let us know… ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Now I will Be California~Dreamin’ just for a while….Love all Your Pics from California…thanks Sweet Sue for all the Memories…L♥ve & Hugzzzzzzzzzzz to You & Joe & Kitty(Meow) & Your Guests! Have Fun Dear Friend! 97 degrees & Steamyyyyyyyyyyyyyy (here in Florida!) Yikes! 🙂 xoxo Poof!♫♥

  46. Jake says:

    Susan, I so didn’t need this post… 🙂

    About six years ago, I took my family to CA for the first time. They all wanted to go to Disneyland (we only had seven then… it was a breeze… Ha!). I wasn’t really that excited, I’d never been interested in going. We drove down Hwy 101 and Hwy 1 from Florence, OR (we live in Eugene) to LA. I still haven’t recovered. Almost every moment I am away from CA is a moment I’m thinking about how to get back! I loved that drive and will never forget that first crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge. I love every mile of the road between San Francisco and LA. I also learned about John Steinbeck during that trip, and can’t seem to stop reading his books, either! So, as I sit here, rich in time but poor in finances (I just started working as a freelance writer, blogger and online shop owner… say no more), I am trying to think of ways to get on that road again! We’ve been five times since, but the last time was over a year ago… I’m having withdrawals.

    So, a pox upon you for giving me a thousand and one more reasons for wanting to go and, at the same time, many thanks for this lovely Valentine to California!


  47. Your photos are absolutely beautiful and make me homesick. I live in Colorado now, but I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I love California and will forever be California Dreamin’.

  48. Jennie says:

    No wonder you are torn between two coasts!
    I sure wish my roses would do that!

  49. Ann says:

    We honeymooned in Mendicino, just beautiful. Can’t wait to go back again some day.

  50. Beverly Ropp says:

    I am loving your blogs … your are so creative … and talented, dear Susan! The pictures … then the descriptions are so awesome … they actually make you feel that you are THERE! Wow … wish we had smell-a-vision … all the flowers and their fragrances … and the food … deliciously delightful images … yummmmmm!
    Thanks so very much for making these extremely hot days of summer more acceptable … and keep it up!!!!

  51. Dee Van Ingen says:

    Wonderful memories from your blog today……..I’m a California native (as is my husband of 42 yrs!) – still has that tug doesn’t it – something about flying into the SF Bay area (where I grew up) and Tony Bennett’s song “I Left My Heart….”) just sings all by itself in my head!!!!! Miss many parts of CA and we go out as often as possible (now live at the beach in Delaware – much closer to our children and grands). Funny you mentioned going to Minnesota on your way out – us too this September; seeing former neighbors in Minnetonka and then heading west to visit Lake Louise/Banff, a friend in Boise who I haven’t seen in 40+ years and onto the Beachcomber Motel in San Clemente, CA to spend a few days with good friends…….(you’d love this little motel, Susan – straight out of the 50s!! overlooking the Pacific Ocean)!!!!!! My brother-in-law just got married in Cambria this past weekend; he used to live in Morro Bay (tea wasn’t on the itinerary!)………….one coast to the other wherever we are I definitely feel at home!!!!!!!

  52. Linda Pintarell says:

    Linda from San Diego…JUST returned from a road trip up central coast. Stopped in Pismo;had dinner on beach at Steamers; stopped by Cambria; onward to see the Elephant Seals; then to the most beautiful restaurant and view in the world: NEPENTHE! Not to be missed. Stayed at Big Sur River Inn where there are wicker chairs in the river to sit and have your wine. Ahhh. Then to Monterey Bay Aquarium and stay at Spindrift Inn on water. So nice. Road trip with two girlfriends. What could be better!

    • sbranch says:

      Then there’s Ventanna!

    • Diane says:

      Linda, We’re headed for Nepenthe and Big Sur River Inn next month… Lived in California all my life and have never been (have only driven past) – I can hardly wait to plop myself down into one of those Adirondack chairs, wine in hand, toes in the river!

  53. Francie Hall says:

    Thanks for all the great words about CA. I was born in Manhattan and moved to LA when I was a teenager. Couldn’t wait to leave. Took a trip to the Monterey Peninsula and never left. If I couldn’t live here I would be in Rhode Island. Must be near the ocean. Love your blogs. You were my favorite since you published your monthly recipe in Country Living. Would like to hear more about your cat. What is her name? I have 4 and they are my children. Keep up the good work!!!

    • sbranch says:

      She is Girl Kitty. Used to have Man Kitty, but his is MIA for 2 years now.:-( Before that, another pair, also black and white, named, Girl Kitty and Man Kitty. I am a terrible cat namer. There are so many choices, I would name them something one day, and change it the next. Finally gave up. Also had William T. Aristocat the third (didn’t name him) and before that, my first kitty, was Pooh, and her sister Mindy. If I didn’t travel so much I would have four also.

  54. Sharon says:

    Thank you for today’s blog. We are hoping to make a trip down the California coast again next year and you have provided a few more “must sees” to put on the list.

    Thank you for being inspirational you.

  55. Madame samm says:

    Hello New England, you certainly paint the most beautiful pictures from your camera lens… the tea cozy and your garden gate sunset…breathtaking….there is sew much beauty around us isn’t there.. and it is indeed free…now with digital cameras …you can share your surroundings for us all to feel with our hearts and soul…thank you for the nice break today..I needed that…ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh with my tea in hand I raise my cup with glee…

  56. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Yes, you will love Minnesota in September–much better than July and August when it is so hot and humid, though it seems like that is the weather all over the U.S. this summer. No tornado watches/warnings, too, by then! 🙂 Sept. 15 is our wedding anniversary–we wanted the California relatives to see Minnesota at that time of year…we were afraid if they came in the Winter, they wouldn’t let Norm marry me! 🙂

  57. Lori says:

    Love that you share the special features of your home(s) – complete with music! I think it encourages all of us to look around and see the “chamber of commerce” aspects of our own areas. We live in a wonderful country and sometimes we need to be reminded of that. I am a Hoosier and picked my song …

  58. Vickie T. says:

    Hi Susan,

    I think it’s so wonderful that you live in two such amazing, different places! I’d love to hear more about how you manage living in two places at once. For example, what things do you always take with you when you “move” to CA from Martha’s Vinyard for part of the year? I assume that each home has its own wardrobe, linens, gadgets, etc.? What do you do with your pets? What do you do with your garden? How do you decide when to live where? Anyway, perhaps this could be a blog topic!

    Thanks, Vickie

  59. Margie at Lavender Cottage says:

    Susan: Everything looks heavenly. One of the items on my “Life List” is visit the west coast in that area. The ocean and I have a definite attraction. I am initimate with the Florida coast but have never been further west than Indiana (I live in Ohio). As I said, one of my life list dreams. Obviously from my name, lavender is a lust of mine. Your’s looks so robust. Amazing!! One of the other items on my life list is to spend time on the New England coast….see a trend here?? Love the ocean – can’t get enough of it!!! Have a great time and wonderful evenings and days!! Can’t wait for your next entry!! P.S. One of the other items on my Life List is to own a home in Cocoa, Florida. Amazing little Victorian town next to Cocoa Beach right on the Banana River. Check it out sometime!

  60. maggie ann says:

    Breathtaking! I never heard all of this about Calif. before. You are trully blessed!

  61. Shelly Fletcher says:

    This post hit home, literally! I grew up on the Central Coast. As wee little girl, my family lived 2 years in Shell Beach and the rest of my adolescence in Santa Maria. Twenty four years ago, (when I was 30) I moved to Maui. My family still lives on the Central Coast, stretching from Santa Maria to Paso Robles. When I go home to visit, one of our favorite get-a-ways is to the charming town of Cambria. Love all of the same places you do ~ the Tea Cozy, Moonstone Beach Grill (for a glass of wine and fried clams) and for my husband and I, Robins for dinner (lobster enchiladas). Many of my favorite fines have been purchased at the antique stores in the heart of town and occasionally, I purchase a rubber ducky from the local drug store to stow away in my suitcase until I can display it on my claw foot tub at home. I read you are going to be at the Remnants of the Past Vintage show this October. I am actually planning my vacation so I can attend this show. Hopefully I will be able to greet you with a warm “aloha”. I do want to mention one more thing ~ roses. They do seem to grow in a spectacular fashion in California. It has to be the cool evenings and warm days. My mother has been an avid gardener as far as my memory can stretch. Roses are her passion …. huge, heady flowers the size of a orange. For her 80th birthday this May, each child gave her a rose bush (there are 7 of us). She selected the roses from a Jackson and Perkins catalog. I chose “April in Paris” for her because my birthday is in April and I love Paris ….. makes sense “non”? Maui’s island flower is the rose, Lokelani. They don’t grow well here in Hawaii, not for me anyway. Oh, and one last thing, promise 🙂 I just visited the Minneapolis for the very first time this past June. I loved it! Have fun on your journey. Blessings ….. Shelly

  62. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m an east coast girl now, and do love where I live (Lancaster County, PA), but often miss those California ocean breezes. We lived in Huntington Beach for 16 years, and driving up PCH is one of my fondest memories. I’ll be going back next year, as part of a months-long road trip with a friend, so will definitely check out Cambria. (I think I need a bumpersticker proclaiming “I brake for tearooms!”, hehe.)

    ♥ Carolee

  63. Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

    Just got my copy of “Where Women Create” Whooo Hooo! I even got my sister a copy so we can both enjoy our cold ice teas on the deck and read every word about our BFF Susan Branch in peace and quiet!! 🙂

  64. Nellie says:

    Susan, you have such a way of writing that gives the reader the desire to be where you have illustrated! Wonderful blog! xoxo

  65. Gumbo Lily says:

    Would ya look at those gladiolas!
    I planted some in my veggie patch this year and I’m waiting for buds.

  66. Berit says:

    I live in the Central Valley so am quite familiar with the coast. (Everyone runs there during summer to escape the heat) But I always love reading and see photos of Martha’s Vineyard too. I’m going to visit there some day 🙂 Thanks for the beautiful website.

  67. Kat Fry says:

    Hi Susan:
    I have been a long time fan of all that you do for just keeps getting better! Just discovered your Blog, have always loved me some Willard. Our son,Tony lives in Los Osos and manages the fabulous store The French Peddler in SLO. We are meeting up with our daughter & her hubby there next month to spend a week with him & his family. Can’t wait for our daughter,Traci to experience that area! We’re from Texas…deep east, near Jefferson, live on a small farm that’s a work in progress, near a lake. If I were ever to live somewhere else, it’d be that area. I was there back about the time you closed your darlin’ store and had missed it by mere days! waaa* As soon as I saw the blog I emailed Traci & told her to look you up! We’ll be going to the Tea Cozy in Cambria! Love it! And Birds of a Feather had been on our list, 🙁 well, at I was in it last year. Lovely place. Traci lives near DisneyWorld in Kissimmee, whivh I adore as well. I shall cut this short darlin’…I could go on time I’ll tell you of a place in England that if you don’t know of it already, you would love! Especially if you love Pooh! AA Milne & Beatrix Potter made the world a better place, right up there with you Hon! Oh, and I wanted to thank you for awhile back turning me on to Cherry Menlove..I do believe that was you that had a link to her. She is a dear sweetheart & I just ache for all that she’s going through at this time. She’s in our hearts, thoughtys & prayers for sure. Later, Ever, Kat

  68. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Just home from a trip to Mendocino/Ft Bragg & your blog was a beautiful reminder of our trip (even though we were in NorCal). We were blessed to spend time with some wonderful friends, & I introduced Erin Dertner (also a wonderful artist) to your BLOG. Erin’s a sweetheart, as are you, and I hope she’ll find some time to BLOG with you….right now she’s working hard preparing for an art show at the Mendocino Botanical Garden next weekend (a beautiful garden & the dahlias are blooming – wow). I just didn’t get enough of the ocean views, smells, cool weather, etc., etc. I’ll have to go back! And, I have to go back to SLO, Pismo, etc., etc. too! And get to the East Coast! Sigh!

  69. Someone may have mentioned but Birds of a Feather closed a while back. She wanted more time with her grandkids. It was a wonderful store and I bought many things there. My inlaws have a home in Cambria. Love it up there.

  70. Mary Couch says:

    Revisiting CA was a lovely remembrance of times past. I grew up in Long Beach in the sleepy days of the ’50s &’60s. Belmont Shore was a perfect beach community where the beach towel, transistor radio and a LOOK candy bar were all that were needed to make a perfect day. .. Or how about tortilla strips from VIC’s at the Huntington Beach Pier! The taste buds are tingling.
    I still live in a sleepy beach town, but had to venture to Sunset Beach, NC to find it. Now all I do is golf, garden, quilt; go to the beach. Life is good.
    You have a beautiful blog. Glad I found it… thanks to Madame Samm
    Hugs from Mary

    • sbranch says:

      I was born in Long Beach, my grandma lived in Belmont Shore, and LOOK was my mom’s favorite candy bar. The way to eat a LOOK in an air conditioned car, open candy, place near freezing air, let it get hard, break off in mouth, eat, yum!

  71. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    Our daughter and her little family live in the East Bay area. We have never visited there – in any season – that there weren’t beautiful flowers blooming everywhere! Geraniums grow like trees! We bought a beautiful clock in Mendocino. Everytime it chimes a think of the sea. I would love to live there. Stood on a cliff and watched the sea for a long time. LOVE . . . .

  72. kidsrn says:

    the pictures are beautiful! i live just down the coast and morro bay is our fav for a quick getaway. roses and coastal sunsets bring so much joy to see.
    thank yous

  73. KathiD says:

    Hi Susan from your neighbor (in Atascadero). Looking forward to welcoming you back to our lovely home! I am going to try to convince my pal Pam (pamkittymorning) to come down for Remnants of the Past. She and her BFF Elizabeth (latebloomerquilts) came last year for your yard sale and we had a grand time!

    Also, I see others have broken the bad news about Birds of a Feather, but I don’t think anyone has shared the link with you for Bonnie’s online store: I sure do miss walking through her (and your) brick and mortar stores, though.

  74. peg says:

    You describe it so wonderfully! We just returned from a long weekend in that very spot…! Your garden is looking beautiful but I miss the big tree that was by the front door!

    Love the Spyglass, Steamers…Cambria (of course!). Was sad when Bonnie retired and closed her shop (Birds of a Feather). Loved stopping in for a chat and a little shopping. I wish I had visited Heart’s Ease when Sharon owned it. It is still wonderful, but I can imagine when Sharon was there, it was even more wonderful.

    Pismo is a paradise all its own…when you hit town, you somehow know that you can now let go of all things left behind…! It is a perfect ‘home base’ for us …we sleep with the balcony door open at our hotel so we can hear the ocean and the gulls. We are up early…and out on the porch watching the tide roll in and the pelicans sail over. The daily road trips are always fun, full of conversation and laughter…carefree and unplanned.

    Thanks for sharing your photos, too. You caught the spirit, the soul of that sleeply little town! ♥

  75. Laura Ann says:

    I, too, grew up in California, but now live in Vermont in a big old farmhouse with a front porch, beautiful woodwork, and a clawfoot bathtub. Most of the time, I love living here, but every year (usually in the colder months), I start to miss California. Things I miss most:

    camelias, daphnes, and citrus blossoms in the winter
    Meyer lemons and eating them straight from the tree
    roses of all types (I live in USDA zone 4 now!)
    Black Tartarian cherries and apricots warm on the tree
    The Pacific Ocean (especially the sunsets — ocean towns, too)
    Easter egg hunts in green grass, instead of in snow!
    fields of wild mustard
    coastal redwood forests
    friends and relatives

    Ah, well, that’s what visits are for. We often drive; we’ve done it seven times now with our five kids in tow!

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