My Inspiration Scrapbooks

I N S P I R A T I O N  S C R A P B O O K S 

When my mother was a little girl, she went to stay with her grandma, Alice, for the summer, on her farm near Sioux City, Iowa.  She fed chickens, gathered eggs, picked apples, hung clothes on the line, made cakes, and rolled out pie dough with Alice; and she played pick-up-sticks on the porch every night after dinner, with her best friend Alla.  Moths beat around the porch light, crickets chirped in the dark, while her grandma, still wearing her apron, knit and rocked in her creaking chair; grandpa Walter listened to the radio, just inside the window, at the kitchen table with the yellow oilcloth.  Probably listening to this music.

It was another time, in a world gone by.  But there was one thing at least, besides the love of baking and cooking and crickets chirping, that carried through my mom and on to me.

One day Alice was  folding clothes, putting them away, and she said to my mother, “Patty, come here, I want to show you something.”  From her top drawer, Alice pulled two pieces of paper.  Glued onto them were pictures of chairs with turned legs and upholstered seats, and a wide polished table; pictures Alice had cut out from a magazine.

Alice said, petting my mom’s head (which my mom used to do to me so I know how good this felt), “See this Patty?  This is the exact table and chairs I want for the dining room.  See how I glued on eight chairs?  That’s because I want eight chairs, I don’t want six.  Every day I pull these papers out and I look at them and remember that this is what I want. And someday I know I’ll get it.  You remember this honey, when you know what you want, what you really want, it’s important to write it down, and if you have pictures, then use pictures.”

I loved this story, because Alice did get her dining room set; and now I make dream books for inspiration (for me) which came through inspiration (from my mom and great grandma)!  I don’t know where Alice learned to do this, maybe her grandma taught her; but I have used her technique for a long time.  Remember my “six-foot-two, Leo, who can cook?”  That’s what I wrote in my diary about the non-existant man of my dreams long before I met Joe, who turned out to fit that description perfectly!  Thank you great-grandma Alice.  And for the cooking too. 

My dream books aren’t fancy . . . they’re just normal three ring binders I fill with plastic sleeves.  You can have a dream book for anything you’re wishing for; this one I’m showing you is my Garden Dream Book; I also have a “House Dream Book,” because at one time, Joe and I rebuilt a house, so I have pictures of wonderful cottages and bungalows , interesting wallpaper; porches, farm sinks, paint colors, kitchen floors, cute shelves, refrigerators, architectural things; everything there is in a house, all cut out of magazines, or photos I’ve taken myself.  My own private style reference book.  You could have a book that dreams of a new kitchen; you can have an antiques dream book, or a clothes and shoes dream book.  Or a vacation dream book.  Or if you wanted to start a Bed and Breakfast, you could collect all the things you want to have in it!  Including recipes!  There’s lots of magic in books like these.  Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!

A dream book helps you focus, and when it comes time, you can look at your pictures, and really know what you want.  I started this one years ago, when I was struggling to figure out how to make a garden.

I sort of had an idea of what I wanted my dream garden to look like, what I wished I could have in it; so whenever I saw something I loved in a magazine, I cut it out, and into the book it went; just like my great grandma.

I included all the little details; the kind of bird houses I liked . . .

The kind of roses I wanted . . .

All kinds of inspiration . . . for walls, gates, fences, trees …

I needed to have these daisies!  Especially number two, and number nine … and number one!

There are small charming gardens in my book that make me think, “maybe I could do this!”

And amazing gardens like this one that I knew I’d never have, but I didn’t care, too beautiful to leave out, plus I thought that by including it, I could maybe up the ante a bit and make whatever I did even better.

I even have dogs in my garden scrapbook.  Because I thought by the time this garden was grown up, I would be retired and have all the time in the world, and would get a dog, or three, and these would be them. Aren’t they adorable?

The first time we went to England, besides my diary, I kept a tiny little dream book, where I wrote down everything I was learning about English food, houses and gardens.

I kept it in my purse; it’s not very neat, but there’s lots of good information in this little book. . .

Even quotes I gathered along the way . . . and the bathroom layout in my English friend’s (Rachel) mom’s house!  Such a wonderful bathroom!

And recipes too . . . all the inspiration I can find, if I like it, in it goes.

So here is my bird house under the wisteria, and here







are my roses on the arbor . . . inspired by my dream book and England.

I still do lots of things my Great Grandma, Alice Carpenter, of Sioux City, Iowa did; I make pie crust, I hang laundry on the line, I knit in my chair; I wear my apron sometimes too, when I do it.  The beat goes on.

So far I haven’t seen this kind of garden decoration in any of my magazines, it’s not in my dream book, but you could put it in yours; I think it’s almost as pretty as a bird feeder!

Have a wonderful day Girlfriends!  We are so lucky, we have plenty to do, many many things to love, and lots to hope for!  And we’re going to England!  XOXO

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412 Responses to My Inspiration Scrapbooks

  1. Rita Champion says:

    Great post…I too keep idea books and write things down, especially plants. In 2010 I was fortunate enough to go to Monet’s Garden in France and went nuts. In my journal on that trip are 10 pages dedicated to the plants I saw and wanted when I got home. I have some of them and as time goes on will add a few more. This post made me think that you need to go there, buy a new clean crisp notebook and sharp pencil and get ready to write! Have fun in England. If you are up in Alnwick Northumberland, stop at the Percy Castle and go through the gardens, look at Jude The Obscure Rose…gorgeous.

  2. Cheryl from Kentucky says:

    Hi Susan,
    Like so many others I loved today’s post. I love them all, but this one just trumpets Spring! I work in horticulture, and one of the best things a person can do is to bring in a “wish” book. I think so anyway, then at I have pictures of what they really like/want, and we go from there. I have one myself that I have yet to live up to, but then that’s the point of my wish book, it’s a work in progress. I also love your garden ornament. It’s fantastic! The yummy smell of a freshly washed quilt that has dried out in the sun is the very best! I think I will have to do the same. Have a wonderful day.

  3. Terry says:

    Hi, Susan!

    I love this idea! I am going to start one immediately! I write down my dreams in my journal, and occasionally I have added a sketch, but I like your idea better. I can’t wait to get started!

    I also want to apologize to you. Pinterest informed me today that they had to delete my “I Love Susan Branch” board. I am sorry. My intention was to tell everyone about your amazing work. I was also hoping my family would see how much I love all of your work and buy me lots of Susan Branch stuff. I never meant any harm. Please accept my apologies.


    • sbranch says:

      Oh dear! I tried to explain Pinterest here a while back, it’s so complicated, but thank you for your concern. I think they have changed their use policy which everyone had to sign in order to become a member — it required the members to get permission to use art and photos in writing so that Pinterest could not be sued for copyright; but then all the art pinned to their boards became the property of Pinterest. I believe that was all changed a month ago. I registered a complaint to Pinterest when I first heard about this; and now it appears they are writing people about my work. Talking to Pinterest is like talking to Google.

  4. Rachel Lucas says:

    Well, here I am with my aw-thentic English accent & my anytime-pass to the heavenly bathroom as detailed right here on the one & only fantasmagorical Susan Branch Blog! Love your inspiration books…we have folders here of recipes, bits torn out of magazines, hotels we will stay in, chairs we will sit in, galleries we will visit…it never ends. One of the many joys in life, wishing & dreaming. xx

    • sbranch says:

      This time I will bring my camera that seems to take pictures in the dark, and photograph that bathroom. Don’t tell your mom! I don’t want her to clean it up. I love it just the way it was. xoxo

  5. karen ellen says:

    i also keep file folders and journals of things/rooms/gardens i love….from magazine clippings i have saved over 30 years…. but.. i really wanted to tell you to check out pinterest online..where people keep their snapshots from websites in little folders now….. check out my pinterest board…..and you will see that your binder has gone online now……………a wonderful way to save something that you find online….google your name and you will see people saving snapshots of your ideas as well….to get started…
    find me on pinterest: karen ellen mills

  6. Rae Ann says:

    Thank you, Susan, for this blog and also Willard…just read mine and I am getting really excited for England…I am finding we are very alike…my husband and I have made PRO and CON lists since before we were married almost 42 years ago…LOVE Beatrix Potter…as do my grown children because we read all her books when they were little children…there may be a dispute as to who “gets” what book…even though I will be buying each of the three a set of their own, the “children” want the originals…you will be arriving in England on my birthday!!!…I will be thinking of you setting foot in England and beginning your adventure!!!…xoxo…Rae Ann from Minnesota and Michigan…

  7. I to clip out pages of things in magazine’s. I love gardens and beautiful flowers landscapes and much more. I paint so I use them for reference and ideas. But mine are all willy nilly. I’m going to have to get organized to put something together to give to my sweet grandaughters.
    My daughter n’law (Kristin) has clippings from magazine since before I met her. She decoraterd her living room from a picture she liked in a magazine. Couldn’t afford the furniture in the picture, so she shopped in second hand stores and flea markets until she found something close to the furniture that was in her dream picture. She refinished furniture and purchased fabrics to match as close as possible. It took a few months, and it turned out lovely. She made her dream come true. A woman truly driven by her love of style and making a nice home for her family. Thanks Susan for the great ideas.

  8. Siobhan in Santa Monica, CA says:

    Love your memories of the front porch, Susan. I have several big binders filled with inspiration too…I don’t fill them much anymore because I stopped getting all the magazines in an effort to cut down on paper use, but they still all inspire me. Now, it’s called making a “vision board”! I made one with my bff at our favorite spa in Sedona in February, and it hangs in my studio. Too big for the binders, but so inspiring. It’s so exciting that “we’re” all going on “our” trip. You truly are the most generous friend! And, I tore through Willard already…so hard to mete you out…you satisfy my sweet tooth in the best way possible! hugs for you, and pats for the kitties…and hi to Joe, of course!

  9. Karen K. says:

    You just brightened my afternoon! It has been a l-o-o-o-n-g day and your post reminded me that it’s the perfect kind of day to pull out my dream book. I started keeping one as a new bride working at a Laura Ashley shop with my mind full of future homes with cozy kitchens, nurseries to decorate, etc. I still have dream books, but I also keep a gratitude journal with pictures of lovely things for which I am thankful. It’s nice to see how many of those “dreams” have come to life 🙂

    Off to relax with a pot of tea and my books!

  10. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    “…You gotta have a dream…if you don’t have a dream…how ya gonna
    have a dream come true?…” South Pacific
    HeeHee…I can see it now…all that Happy Happy Talkie Talk !!!
    You are such a sweetie! And sometimes, it’s just the “DREAMIN'”
    that makes us HaPpY….!!! I believe;that, we are what we ENVISION !!!
    Oh my little beautiful dreamer….good luck with the packing!!! XoXDawn

  11. miss meadow says:


    I can’t believe that your notebooks look just like mine (except for your own artwork…I’m not that skilled yet. That’s why I follow your blog, for inspiration.) But, really, I even have some of the same pictures in mine from years ago. We must read the same mags.
    I LOVE my notebooks! But. I’ve been wondering if you’ve discovered Pinterest, yet? Here are my boards there, if you haven’t…so you can check it out. (you don’t have to post this link. I’m not advertising…just showing you how fun it is.)

    There are lots of kindred spirits there.

  12. Frances Fowler says:

    This is SO just what I needed to hear (or read) -what perfect timing! I also see from the comments that so many other women must have been feeling the same way 🙂 Thank-you, as always, for the inspiration. As a added note, this is an excellent way to salvage those treasures in the magazines you were saving just for those few pictures or articles. Keep the dreams and recycle the rest — magazine clutter solved! Sometimes I have to just shut my eyes and pitch. All those great Victoria magazines……..(wistful sigh). Can’t wait to see all the pictures you’ll be posting from England!

  13. Ginny Sargent - New England says:

    Oh I can smell roses and see 100 colors of green! Ah, a wee bit of heaven on earth.


  14. I , too, have lovely binders with nearly 30 years of collecting. My tastes really have not changed in all those years. Some of my scrap favorites are about places to visit. In my binders, there are Susan Branch recipes from Country Living and other magazine friends that are no longer with us. For about a year an article about Bisbee, Arizona was posted on my refrigerator. It was a little dream come true once we took the road trip. My favorite memory from that trip was the man with the dog, cat, and rat. Sitting on the dog was a cat and on the cat was a rat just like a pet pyramid. No kidding. Magic.

  15. nancy earl says:

    this is so cool about six years ago I did a vision board ( a poster board with covered in pictures of things i wanted cut out from magazines.) I belive this is great magic. If we can dream it we can have it. everything on my board came true. even a cruise around italy which in turn I got paid to go on. I always have a board that is curent that I can add too. I love it and all the things I can manefest from it. I really enjoyed your post and the history of this special magic anyone can have. Nancy

  16. pat addison says:

    good afternoon susan, good afternoon everyone, hello!! just finished my cup of tea while reading this and i only have a 3 ring binder filled with recipes, some i clipped, and many i saved from my grandma, like her sour cream lemon pie. sounds a bit strange but its really yummy and the sour cream makes the lemon custard in the pie more mellow and richer, and instead of the egg white meringue on top of the pie she used whipping cream, very creamy and rich!!! i have a question how do you store a pie like a chocolate silk pie or a lemon pie, i usually put them in the fridge to keep them fresh, but my MIL(mother-in-law) says she keeps them out as that is better for them. i don’t eat her pies anymore as the last one made us sick, and she kept it out, sitting on the dryer . so how should one store a pie????? than you. hugs…… 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I would do it your way Pat!

      • pat addison says:

        thanks, i always thought that storing pies in the fridge was simply common sense, kept them fresher and chilled and prevented any problems that could make someone sick. i can’t imagine keeping a pie on top of the dryer is a healthy idea.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Have a wonderful time in England, Susan! Maybe you could happen by the offices of British Country Living . . . I still think it would be so perfect to see your work featured in our favorite British magazine! Looking forward to “our” visit to Emma Bridgewater and the Lake Country. Thanks for inspiring us to get out our journals and to keep those dreams and visions alive – mine includes clippings from Country Living of your recipes! He (She!) who refreshes others will himself (herself!) be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25. Thanks for the refreshing, Susan!

  18. Gert~Iowa says:

    Susan…I wanted to tell you, I got your book today “Mom, tell me your story”… I am so excited…I can’t wait to start…I actually got it for my daughter but after seeing and reading it, I’m thinking it would be great for my son also! You wrote so many questions…that I thought…wow…I have a great story about that ! Now to get busy! smile.. Oh yes, and the book itself is ‘beautiful’ and so rich feeling, as are the pages, wonderful paper! Thank you…thank you…thank you!


  19. Joanie B from San Diego says:

    I love my daisies, the faithful perennial flowers that return every year and fill my yard. I have separated the clumps so many times and planted them all over. Love them because they are so easy and rewarding. Yea!

  20. jane says:

    Your dream books are such inspiration! At 52, I sometimes feel that I have SO much, that there is nothing left to want. But you show us that we can dream and that it takes us one step closer to making those dreams come true! I keep journals, but they would be so much more special with pictures and sketches. More inspiration from you!

    Jane From Chicago

  21. daniela medina says:

    Susan, no habia podido leerte hasta el dia de hoy pero no queria dejar pasar tu cumpleaños, en México cantamos “las mañanitas” y hay una parte que se te gustaria mucho por tu amor a los pajaros-Despierta mi bien, despierta
    mira que ya amanecio… ya los pajarillos cantan… la luna ya se metio…
    Ojala pudiera escribirtela en ingles, pero en fin la musica se trasmite en cualquier idioma; a lo mejor las puedes buscar en YOU TUBE LAS MAÑANITAS”
    Happy Birthday Susan and I wish and excellent year, full of magic and love.

    • sbranch says:

      Daniela sent me a song, and here it is . . . LOVE it Daniela, muchas gracias!!

      She wrote: Las Mananitas is a song you would love for your love of the birds. “Wake up my love, the day has already dawned … and the birds sing … the moon has gone away …”
      I wish I could write it in English — anyway, the music is the same in any language.

      We are the world! xoxo

      (Thank you Google Translate!)

  22. Suzanne says:

    Susan Dear~
    You did it again; brought a bit of magic to my day. I have saved inspirational pictures for years, and even when some become outdated, I still keep them for the “memory value”. I enjoy showing my children some of the wishes I had.
    So, you’re busy planning your wonderful anniversary trip, and my husband & I have been trying to decide where to go for ours. It is our 25th anniversary this year too! After mush thought we have decided to take our trip to the island. As in Martha’s Vineyard! So, on behalf of my Steve, I am asking for; the beach we MUST see, the shop we MUST visit and the restaurant we MUST eat at. Is Edgartown the best location to stay in?
    Thank you for all the ways you bring happiness and smiles to my family. My daughters are faithful blog followers too!
    Cheers and hugs,
    XOXOX Suzanne

    • sbranch says:

      Love it to be a family affair, thank you Suzanne!

      • Susan says:

        My favorite place to stay would be The Charlotte Inn in Edgartown. It is an outstanding B & B!:)

        Susan (from Dallas)

        • sbranch says:

          Oh yes, this is one beautiful place, the prettiest on the island. I worked in their art gallery when I first moved here and the owner was the first person on the island to buy a watercolor of mine.

  23. Pam G. says:

    I keep inspiration scrapbooks too of just about anything that I like-including recipes, gardens, color, rooms, etc. etc. even quotes and lists of books I read-I guess now they call it “pin Interest” on the web, but I still love the old fashioned kind and love magazines too

  24. Ann Cary-- Virginia beach says:

    I loved your post today…. We’ve been renting the same house on the bay for 15 (yes, 15) years. I have 15+ years worth of files of garden ideas, screened porch ideas, kitchen ideas, etc.. Well, one year ago we were finally able to buy the house and start planning what we wanted to do. It’s so exciting to watch dreams come true, especially when you weren’t sure it would ever happen. Just keeping the files made me happy and kept my creative juices flowing. Nothing big or flashy, just cozy and comfortable. I can’t wait to watch everything come to life 🙂

  25. Karen Z @ Victoria, Australia says:

    Got your lovely post today and thought you must have picked up MY garden scrapbook! Love keeping ideas for gardens,houses and craft – mostly quilting. I just love that where ever in the world we girlfriends live we can all relate. Sweet dreams to us all. OXO

  26. Janet says:

    Just when I think “This is my all-time favorite Susan post – how could she ever possibly top THIS?” you up and do it. SO much fun reading along today. Loved hearing about your mom and your great-grandma on the farm. Loved reading how much everyone else loved it too. How little we really do change, we women. Loved reading and see your inspiration books too. Glad to know I am not the only one. Like you say so often – “WE are the normal ones…” Grin.

    I like the phrase “inspiration books” too. That’s exactly what they are. I’ve always called them “my boxes” though I keep things in boxes, envelopes, books, tins, binders, you name it. Just stuff I liked. The biggest [it fills my high school graduation cedar hope chest] is my dream home collection. Everything I want to remember when I win the lottery and am ready to renovate/restore my dream home. Wherever that may be. After 30+ years of saving, I am ready any time. Pictures, clippings, catalogs, samples, swatches – down to the tiniest detail. Example – I even have pictures of drawer pulls and doorknobs and curtain rods I like! LOTS of other things too. Lists and collections and pictures and samples and drawings and seed packets and catalogs and clippings – of recipes. Homekeeping tips. Quotes [and poetry and one-liners and wordplays]. Gardening. Crafting. Entertaining. Seasonal and holiday ideas. Places I’d like to travel. A huge book of lists [movies, books, songs etc] that I am moving to the computer for ‘ease of management.’ Just stuff I like and things I don’t want to forget. And pretty things. One day poking around in one of my trays of pictures I realized many of them are just pretty things I love to look at, that make me feel better, even cheer me up sometimes. An antique basket filled with sweet peas and violets [my favorite flowers]. The soundtrack of “The Quiet Man” – Irish violin music just strikes a chord in me [one of my past lives must have been as an Irish villager]. Heavy, contended sigh…

    Now I have to go poke around in “my boxes” for a while tonight. Thanks again, Susan… you’re a real peach, do you know that? :>)

  27. Holly says:

    I loved the story about your great-grandma. It was a beautiful day here in Indiana, and I went to my very-first-ever auction! How much fun! The auction was at a beautiful old craftsman style HUGE home. I did win 2 auctions for depression glass. My wonderful husband came home with 15 boxes of canning jars. They are all Ball jars, all old, half are colored, and some have the glass tops. I guess he’s going to learn to can! 🙂

    You like Corgis! I LOVE Corgis and am also waiting for retirement to get dogs.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has “dream books”. It helps to keep things/ideas where you can find them when you’re ready to make or do something! Thanks for the great post.!

    • Jana says:

      Don’t wait until retirement for your Corgi. My Wyn (my Corgi) is my best friend. She doesn’t leave my side, is always happy to see me, I can tell her anything. Wyn’s registered name is Bronwyn Blaidd which is Welsh for white chested wolf. She has a white chest and our last name is Wolfe. Perfect

  28. Dorothy says:

    Sue, OMG! Home from attending a seminar with Mike Dooley ( of The Secret fame) this past weekend. He was the participant who proposes ” thoughts become things”, and to think that your great grandma knew this about her dining room furniture back in the day! I am so totally comitted now to what I learned this weekend @ his seminar in Rochester, NY!

    I saved your blog for now – the best for last!
    Dorothy of Jamestown, NY

  29. Sara Holiday, FL says:

    I LOVE this post!! Since August when we decided it was time for a change, hopefully to simpler life, I too have been dreaming and dream scrapbooking, stashing, writing, drawing, list keeping and picture cutting 🙂

    It looks like it may have worked for us too! Fingers crossed and prayers sent!

    Thank you for continued inspiration!

  30. Cyndi in NC says:

    I have books just like yours down to the plastic page holders. Among other things I am a recipe hoarder. *L* But I’ve always loved things for the house and garden too. Things you can make and some that you grow. I love to look at them all and even occasionally I make something. It so much fun to gather things that you like whither you actually make them or on. For many years we didn’t buy a house as we moved every three years. So I kept things to dream about for when I did get my own house to make it a home. Dream books for sure. *S* Loved peeking into yours. I am going to get my picket fenced garden with flowers all around it! Happy dreaming all.

  31. jeanne hedin says:

    I so enjoyed this post. It seems that most of us girlfriends keep dream books one way or another, including me. I have them for travel, decor, gardens/flowers, my “someday” tea room, verses/sayings . . . and on it goes. It was delightful to hear your version and receive the big dose of inspiration you gave us all. Just when I was ready to sort and throw! Now I’m ready to hold on and continue dreaming.

    • sbranch says:

      Never stop that, for as long as you draw a sweet clean breath of fresh air. Dreams are the things that make us People.

  32. Elena D. says:

    Dearest Susan:
    Just read your newest newsletter and it is inspiring and uplifting all in one marvelous package. Thank you for the advice to plan a big & special trip way before you actually get to do it. Where to go………where to go………………??

    My hubby & I went to Hannibal, Missouri for our 30th wedding anniversary in February and toured the sites. It was exciting to see Mark Twain’s home–and the reason I’m sharing this with you is that your quote that starts “20 years from now….” was credited to Mark Twain on a bronze placque there. Maybe a bazillion other people have already told you that, but it took too long to read thru all the comments. I copied that quote down to nudge me to better decision-making, so it was very nice to see that you loved it enough to share it with all your fans. Thanks for always being creative!

    • sbranch says:

      Ah ha! It sounds like him! We visited his house too, just wonderful, the Mississippi River right THERE. No wonder his childhood was so magical.

  33. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    I forgot to mention that I love that little red-haired, ponytail girl hugging her dream book…and I see that sweet Jack is giving you advice on your garden dream book or was he just saying that he wanted to be in on the fun of this blog, too? For years now I’ve been saving watercolor greeting cards that I find so gorgeous (besides you, one of my favorites for watercolors is Mary Hamilton/Hallmark) with the intention of learning to watercolor paint one day….and now I’ve added a lot of your fun things to that collection like your bookmark freebies and other things I see that I love of your artwork…never put them in a book, though. Must get organized and make a “Watercolor Dream Book” AND learn to paint one of these days! You’re an inspiration!!! xoxo…kp

  34. Pam says:

    Lovely idea. I used to love going to my Grandma and Grandad’s. Grandad was a very keen gardener. I can still remember opening the greenhouse door and the smell of the growing tomatoes. I used to help wash the soil off the carrots in an old tin bath out in the garden. Gosh this is bringing back happy memories!!

  35. Nina says:

    Hi Susan I wondered did you get Mays edition of the English country living magazine, I know you subscribe? I thought of you when I opened it up it has 27 pages about English gardens you will love it! Thanks again for inspiring us you really do “lift” my day! xx

    • sbranch says:

      I have it, but have been saving it for the boat! It’s in my pile. Such a wonderful magazine!

  36. Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

    Gee ~ Just like a song that gets stuck in your head ~ ever since reading this and commenting yesterday, my mind continues to go to memories of my great-grandmother and my grandmother! I was just remembering back when I was a child, visiting Grandma. She didn’t keep many toys for us at her house; just a tall can of Lincoln Logs, a wooden, pull-along train engine with eyes that rolled and a bell that dinged as it was pulled, a Monopoly game and a deck of cards. But one thing she kept on the bottom shelf of her coffee table came back to me today. It was a big scrapbook she and my great-grandma had been keeping over the years! Page after page of Christmas cards they had received and treasured. The cards were so ornate and beautiful ~ embossed, flocked and glittered ~ such a wonderful visual and tactile delight for us kids! I have no idea where that scrapbook ended up but I have a feeling it’s long gone now. Thanks for the memory!

  37. Sandy Perry says:

    Good morning Susan,
    This is such a great post you have given me the idea of what to do with all of the magazine’s I just keep even if I never get the things for my home it is great to dream. I lived in my Great Grandma house when I was first married(we rented from her) and it was the best house. I had a clothes line in the backyard and when I had my children they had fruit trees to play under and of course eat the fruit. It was a small house but it had the best kitchen with the old drawers that where used for flour,sugar etc. I loved to look at your drawings and dream of the gardens you plan,I have a brown thumb LOL, and dream of what I could plant. I love lemon cukes my Dad grew them in his garden. He was a farmer,dairyman,and cattleman. I can’t wait to go along with you and Joe to Merry Old England. Love your blog always puts a smile on my face. Sandy heartx2!

  38. “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” FABULOUS! I love this quote, it speaks clearly to me; thank you, Susan.
    I’ve got notebooks…so many notebooks…one for the farm, garden, house, studio, finances, day to day and the list goes on. Perhaps there are too many but all are needed, necessary or, at least I like to think so. When life is overwhelming, my notebooks remind me of my dreams and “the plans God has for me, plans to prosper me and do good for me”. My notebooks remind me of hope and, as Emily said,
    “Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.”

  39. Paulie says:

    Hi Susan
    I forgot to ask……..what book is this adorable paintng of the little girl in? It’s so darned charming……..just wondering so I can look at the book again. It is just so adroable……..

    • sbranch says:

      That one is in the Girlfriend’s Book. Thank you Paulie!

      • Paulie says:

        Just in case you haven’t guessed… I have every single one of your books….love, love,love my Branch Library…& always have one by my bed stand!……….lol

        • sbranch says:

          xoxo I love to hear that!

        • Janet says:

          Me too Paulie! Most of my books – and I’m lucky enough to have 100s – are in my bookcases but ALL of Miss Susan’s are stacked on the bottom shelf of one of my bedside tables – so when I feel like lolling about in bed on weekend mornings, I can grab one quickly and browse through it – perusing, dreaming, planning – being soothed, being inspired. And as many times as I have done that [I swear I have many pages memorized] I always manage to find something new [and cute] too!

  40. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Mornin’ (in Rachel’s accent)!: Just had a lovely visit with Willard, such a treat when he pops in, thank you! A minute ago as I filled my coffee mug, I recalled coffee, on our Eng/Scot trip, was from a jar of Sanka!!! We switched to tea!!!!! The day WE, :), land in Eng, I’m going to get out my albums & journal & have a cup of tea, & revisit our trip from 1988! Mum (96) & I just got an invite to Mother’s Day Tea at my daughter’s! She & her 3 girls (& their Dad helps too!) do this every year & it is a wonderful, treasured, day! BTW, my grandchildren loved the Chicken cupcake kit I gave them a few days before Easter (I also bought the Spring confetti cake mix & frosting at the store), such fun & so cute for our Easter celebration! Have a jolly good day all! xoxoxo PS Is there a pattern somewhere for the birthday cupcake tea towel (I suppose I could just print out the picture!)????

  41. Barb says:

    Hello Susan, Oh this post was just so beautiful and sentimental. It brought up all the good memories of yesteryears gone by. How lucky you were to have such a wonderful grandmother and to still have your Mom and Dad now. I lost both my parents whom I so loved with all my heart. My Mom always kept records or dream books and oh I just love looking back on them. My Mom was a wonderful cook, baker, love to raise flowers, wonderful writer and taught us all so much as did my Dad. By the way I love all your (bowls) you cook with. I have one of my Moms very old bowls with the stripes going all the way around them. I also have there “old sheet music” that use to be kept in our piano bench. I have so much I have kept that it would take up way to much space on here to tell about. Thats why I enjoy everything you do and share with us as it feels just like a “Home away from Home.”
    I too keep journals, make scrapbooks, and keep pictures to dream by but I keep mine in containers and they are all labeled. I make scrapbooks now to give as gifts. I love to make collages too. I love to bake, crochet, garden and dream always. I had one of my dreams come true two days ago. I am a lover of nature and in our new place this year we have (woods) that surround us. I opened the back door that leads out to our deck and about 42ft away from me were two “Pileated Head Woodpeckers.” I just could not believe it. I was so excited, I called my husband at work and he said get the “camera”, and of course I had the camera in my hand but I was just so “mesmorized” by seeing the pair of them, that I did not even take a picture! Yet somehow, I know they will be back because we have heard them way out in the woods before they arrived close to the house. I was all smiles all day long.
    Yesterday, while planting my nasturiums, I got another little surprise about ten feet away from me, I discovered we have wild “fiddleheads” growing in the woods. You can eat these. Of course with picking anything in the woods you always have to be careful. I have had wild “fiddleheads” once before with a tad of olive oil and they were very good.
    Thank you once again for the great post! Have a wonderful day.
    Barb, Ludlow MA

    • sbranch says:

      I put a recipe for fiddleheads in my second book when I discovered them growing in the woods next to my old house. They are delicious.

    • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

      Oh Barb, I hope you get to see the Pileated Woodpeckers up close! We were treated one day to seeing one just a few feet away from one of our windows at an old tree stump. Boy, did the wood chunks fly! I say chunks, because these pieces of wood were easily 3″X3″. We were amazed! We made the mistake of getting our kitties to show them, which scared the woodpecker off…..we should have just kept the show to ourselves….who knows how long we could have enjoyed it. And he/she may have taken care of the whole stump for us!

  42. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Susan~what a lovely post! I, too, have binders like you, and so many of the Girlfriends. Some dreams have come to light and others are still in the binders bringing me joy for the hope of that “someday.”

    Susan, it’s been wonderful sharing my first Spring with you and the Girlfriends. Life is sweet, but even sweeter when shared with family, friends, and kindred- spirits from afar. Thanks for bringing us all together!

    Another wonderful Willard!

    Marie xo

  43. Michelle McDonald says:

    Oh my gosh Susan!…my mother grew up on a farm outside of Sioux City, Iowa! I was also born in that city and have cousins who are still farming there. Such a small world! Have an amazing trip to England….my oldest daughter just returned from there and we have very close, special friends in Sheffield. And Hilltop Farm is wonderful!!!

    • sbranch says:

      We could probably figure out we’re related; both sets of my great grandparents and all their children were born there too.

      • Michelle McDonald says:

        Anyone related to a Vermillion, Widman or Hubbard? That would be sooo cool to be related!

        • sbranch says:

          Those names don’t sound familiar . . . but my family tree papers are upstairs in the room Joe’s asleep in so I think I’ll have to check later.

  44. Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

    Hi Susan,

    I am so glad that you are living one of my parallel lives in MV in your beautiful stately home with your beautiful lawn and your darling garden with the white picket fence!! Not to forget, walking to the shore every day!

    That’s because I live on a mountain which is a totally different experience to yours on MV. My home is surrounded by woods which we just try to keep at bay. There is no lawn but if we can manage to keep the many leaves raked up or blown into the woods, we have some intriguing moss to walk on, and blowing ferns and undergrowth that spring up every year on their own. We have a gorgeous display of native mountain laurel which edges the woods and the driveway without our having done any planting at all. Sitting in our sun room is like sitting in a tree house. We have seen a bear crossing the road (fortunately we were in the car), and mama deer, who know they are protected here, with tiny babies just learning how to cross the road or being coaxed up a steep hill, or being nursed by mama. Many hiking trails are very close at hand.

    Both these experiences were someday dream experiences for me, but since hubby and I could only choose one as a permanent home, I’m so glad that you are letting me, and all the other girlfriends who may feel the same way, experience yours. I read your blogs and I just let my imagination go where it wills and in no time at all I’ve had a lovely vacation! Thank you so much!

    And now I’m going to England again! Hubby is very much looking forward to the pub food and the pastries in the tea shops. We used to have a hearty English breakfast, skip lunch, and then have tea with a nice pastry or Cream Tea, and then dinner at 7:00. I wonder whether the pubs and wine bars still close from 5:00 – 7:00, if I remember correctly. Anyhoo, can’t wait!!

  45. Hi Susan,
    I’ve just read about your exciting upcoming journey to England, which is where I live. I’m American, and have lived over here for nearly 29 years. I fell in love with this place when I visited a friend in 1972, came back several more times as a teenager, then in 1983 to finish school. Well, I stayed!
    The reason I am such a big fan of yours is I bought your book ‘Heart of the Home’ when it first came out over here. Despite my love of England, I was very homesick for a long time and reading your book (over and over again!) helped me get over the homesickness. My rituals now when the seasons change are to pull out my copies of The Summer Book, Vineyard Seasons, Autumn and the Christmas books, and to savour your lovely drawings and writings.
    Anyway, if you have any time in your schedule, please feel free to have afternoon tea with me. I live in the beautiful county of West Sussex, where I’m sure you will find much inspiration for your work.
    Bon Voyage!

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Robin, I know what you mean about being homesick, having moved here to Martha’s Vineyard from California . . . I don’t ever get over it even though Martha’s Vineyard has become my true home. Probably that’s the only reason I haven’t moved to England, I’m afraid to be in love with three places! Two is more than enough!

  46. Sara says:

    Hello Susan, I just read the Willard. Your excitement about “our” trip to England is contagious! I’m so looking forward to your posts and thinking that maybe, just possibly…someday soon, my husband and I will make a magical trip out there together. Love your blogs and your Willards. Thank you for always brightening my day!
    I noticed that the brown bird tea cup and the Emma Bridgewater mug that says joy are not in your shop any longer. Did I wait too long to buy? Is there a way to still buy them?

    • sbranch says:

      I think the brown bird will be in in June; but not sure about the Emma mug . . . she is always discontinuing things . . . will have to check with Kellee.

  47. Diane from Washington state says:

    I LOVE your dream books…you are so adorable! I have been doing exactly the same thing all of my life…and my dreams mostly have come true because of it! My daughter is a “writer” and since she was practically born, she writes down and records notebooks and journals and computer files stuffed full of all of her words and ideas and dreams and thoughts….so when I saw the pics and explanations of your dream books I had to smile in understanding! I wish I was like you both more! However, I am not, but I dream just as big! What I have always done is collect together magazine pics and shove them into a drawer or write down my “wish lists” and then tick them off as the dream is brought into reality. (not very neatly! lol) I also collect fabrics or samples of what I would love to see happen. I can picture something in my mind and then I work like crazy to bring it about…and then the finished product is exactly what I pictured and I am on cloud 9!!! I love that you inspire all of us to KEEP dreaming…it doesnt matter how young or old or inbetween we are….we are GIRLS and girls love to dream and then watch everything be fulfilled. It is a powerful and real tool to have! Thank you Susan!

  48. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ♥ Good Afternoon Sweet Sue…Your New “Willard” Arrived & I’ve just Read & Re~Read it…savoring every Word….Thank You! & Now this Glorious Blog…My Daddy’s Name is Walter…(He’s been in Heaven for 5 Years) (watching over Me) & Taylor Called Him Grand Pa Walter (Her Great Grand~Pa) (Goosebumps) & when I was Growing up on Long~Island…Every Summer…for Years My Dad would Load all Six Kids in the Station Wagon & Mom (Irene) & all Our Stuff& Drive to Flemington New Jersey to Our Cousins & Their 100 Acre Farm & with all My Soul I Knew That it was a Magical Place with Chickens & Cows & Goats & Wild Blackberries & Apple Trees & lots of Cousins Young & Old & We would stay for Two Whole Weeks in a Tiny Cottage that My Great Aunt’sHusband Built with His Own Two Hands…& on those Breezey Summer Nites the Fire~Flies Twinkling Outside in The Fresh Farm Air…in a Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs Like Bed under a Home Made Quilt where I would Feel Safe & warm & Cozy as I Drifted off to Dreamland…I would Understand How Truly Amazing The World really is… Sorry I am Rambling 🙂 anyway You Sweet Sue Truly Inspire Me…& All of Us…I am so Excited that in this world of Blogs & Twitter & Facebook You & Joe will Be Bringing Us along On Your Dream Adventure…Yay!…My Tea~Cup is Ready for all Our Tea~Parties…& My Bags are Packed! Yay! Have a Dazzling Day as we Count Down to Your Bon Voyage! Love & lots of Pixie~Dust! xoxo Poof!♥

  49. Jane in PA says:

    What a lovely Grandma story. I think I’ll write some of my own Grandma’s stories in my journal. I love seeing your journals & collage ideas. So inspiring. Thanks, Susan.

  50. Mia Sophia says:

    Amazing how much we all have in common! I see your blog and start bursting at the seams. “Birds of a feather really do flock together!” Looks like a lot of us have our very own Book of Dreams. I use 11X14 sketch books and glue all my favorite pictures from various magazines. It really does give you a sense of what you really do LOVE when you see repeated themes over and over again…divided pane windows, white kitchens with marble counters, black and white tile floors, deep farm sinks, wide shutters, wood floors, french doors, etc etc etc! Not only is it “in my dreams” but in my own personal journal as well and launched out into the moon and stars. Some things have come true and the others makes me happy to look at “in the meantime.” I also have a collection of quotes that are kept in several of your Book of Days which I found to be “just right” for that purpose. Cheerio Susan!

  51. Mary Ann in Long Beach, CA says:

    I am so excited to go along on this wonderous trip[. we habe been to England but not on ship, I am so thrilled. But I wanted to tell you to take along a number of sweet cozy mysteries about dear Beatrice and Hill top Farm. they are by Susan Wittig Albert and tell the tale of how she comes to the Lake district, herr meanspirited parents and lots of wonderous stories of hedgehogs and piggies and kitties and even a dragon. You will love them!! The first is the Tale of hill Top farm, please tell me you’ll read the first, after that I won’t worry because I know you will love it so much will read them all!
    Oh and please try and find us a perfect Jubilee Mug…thats would be the perfect souvenir for a trip this very special summer! Thank you girlfriend!

    • sbranch says:

      I already got the perfect Jubilee mug . . . It’s an Emma mug and I think we probably have a very few left on our web site . . . expensive though, it’s a big cup and Emma is expensive. I will look for others while I’m there, if I find a good one, I’ll bring it home for a giveaway! Thanks for the idea!

  52. Mary S. says:

    Just read Willard and I cried!!!
    But this part made me laugh and laugh: “My secret title for this trip is “Finding Beatrix Potter.” (Joe’s secret title is “Pub food: where to find it, how much of it can we eat.”)”
    I can hardly wait to go to England with you!!!

    Mary S. from Fresno, CA

  53. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    YAY! Willard came to my house today! I am SO HAPPY! for you and Joe!!!
    You have been my INSPIRATION hero..your books have followed me through so much of my life! And what I so dearly admire about you is that you have MADE your dreams come true!!!! I’m so afraid that I have spent too much of my life
    daydreaming…. :./ XoXDawn

    • sbranch says:

      Never too late, but I have to say, daydreaming can be very nice too! 🙂

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        Aww…Thank you ! Gonna gather all my manilla folders full
        of snippets and put together my very own DREAM Book!
        And now I have the perfect cover…your reply ! XoXDawn

  54. Cindy Tuning says:

    Grandma memories are the best aren’t they? I thought if anyone would remember or know about this you would. Or, maybe one of the like minded friends out there. Does anyone remember the Fad of the Month Club? It was in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It was a craft subscription where every month you would receive a kit with everything needed to make a craft. I remember making note cards with ladies hats, a burlap purse, jewelry box etc. The kits would come in the mail to my Grandma Willies but I would make them. Eventualy, I used my babysitting money to buy them myself but always made them at my Grandmas house.We lived next door to her growing up,so I spent much of my time at her house learning how to garden, cook, make hook rugs and watching Red Skelton and Danny Kaye. It seems like yesterday. And now I’m the Grandma!!!

    • sbranch says:

      And so it goes! I don’t remember fad of the month … sounds like I missed out!

    • Leslie Croce says:

      I’m a bit late in butting into this conversation, but I am making a webpage about the Fad of the Month Club. It’s very much a work-in-progress, and the pages take forever to load because of all the pictures, but perhaps you might enjoy looking at them. The ’60’s page would probably be of most interest to you.

  55. Carol C says:

    My sister was just here last week and we were looking for fabric for redoing their master bedroom. We got out my wish book pictures that I started collecting 30 yrs. ago. She kept saying I have that one! We could even name the people that owned the houses. I never got to build my cape cod but still use the pictures when I want to tweak things a bit in this house. We’ve lived here 38 yrs. of our 40 yr. marriage. Love this house!!!! but it has undergone a few changes. BTW I have a picture from one of your calendars from many years ago. It’s a picture of a little stone and white clapboard house with a dormer and barn red shutters and beside it there’s a quote by Beatrix Potter. That house looks almost exactly like mine! I saved it to try to do an applique or cross-stitch of it. Thought of having it transferred onto cloth but was worried about copyrights. Is there a version I could buy to frame with the quote?

    • sbranch says:

      Which calendar was that in? Not sure which house . . .

      • Cheryl Danley says:

        Carol and Susan, that cute little house is in the 2000 Calendar. It was used for the month of November. Yes, I actually SAVE all of Susan’s calendars because I love her artwork sooooooooo much! 😀

  56. Elizabeth says:

    I used to save clippings about my dream house in a folder…furnishings, paint cards, etc…and a few years ago I glued them all into a notebook and I look at it occasionally. Now I am married to a man who shares my dreams and we talk about our future dream home a lot! And I love Pinterest, as someone else mentioned…I have things from YOU pinned on my boards! I think you would really enjoy it. Thanks for your always interesting blog!

  57. Madeline says:

    Lucy’s blog will whet your appetite for springtime in England
    — and no spoilers, either! Bon voyage! I look forward to vicariously enjoying your trip.

  58. Sharon says:

    So excited for your upcoming return trip to England. I love your idea of the diary and dream book. I must pick just the right little SB tablet! We leave on May 14 th for my first trip to Europe- starting in London ending in Paris with several stops in Italy in the middle. I am so excited, so reading of your trip lets me know that we must return for more England experiences. Travel safely and enjoy your stay!0

    • sbranch says:

      You too Sharon…I’m so excited for you! It’s like history books coming alive when you see things you’ve always heard about. There they actually ARE, just where they’ve always been!

  59. Peggy Cooper from Pueblo, CO says:

    Thanks for the reminder that if you put it down on paper, it will come true some day. Many years ago I told someone I wanted to go to Italy, and she said I should write it down. So I did. I’ve now been to Italy 4 times. Then a few years later I didn’t think I was getting the salary I deserved because I knew others were making more who didn’t work as hard as I did, or did as good a job. A friend said I should write down the figure I wanted. So I wrote down that I wanted a $10,000 raise, and as unbelieveable as it may sound, I did get that amount with a promotion at my next review. Strange thing is, I forgot how important writing down my wishes is, but now that you’ve reminded me, I have some serious wishing and dreaming to do. A trip like the wonderful one you are about to embark on might be just the thing.

    • sbranch says:

      Now that I’m old enough to have a better idea of how life works, I think a person should just march through life conscious of making their dreams come true. If there’s a will, there’s a way.

  60. Oh Susan you are truly a woman after my heart! A couple of years ago while visiting this cute little Dutch town in Western Washington (where I’m from) I was on a nature walk with my sister and mother. Aside from the oooing and awing over the beautiful Rhododendrons in all shades of pink (we don’t have them in MT) we came across this beautiful little cottage tucked away among the dense little forest, complete with a stream. So cute! It was stone with a straw roof (common in Holland) with a matching little shed. Along side the shed were the couples bikes. It was very picturesque. The yard was gorgeous with a small fruit orchard and an arch with star clematis growing on both sides. The windows had heavy wood boxes filled to the brim with colorful annuals. I couldn’t help myself, I had to snap pictures because I wanted to remember this house. I couldn’t get back home to MT fast enough to add the same arch draping with beautiful clematis on both sides. 🙂 Come to find out my mother informed me that the adorable couple who resided there were descendants of Holland and owned tour business. They gave people tours of the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. What an adorable job! If you feel like it you can check my blog can see the pic of this wonderful house. I’ve uploaded it just today, so you don’t have to root around and hunt for it 🙂 Anyway you are so cute and thank you for being marvelous you. I hope to meet you someday. Have a wonderful day. ~Julei

  61. Enikö says:

    What a sweet post! No wonder all your fabulous dreams keep coming true…you’ve been using “The Secret” all these years without even knowing it! Oh the power of knowing what you want! …You had a very wise grandmother, indeed!

  62. Elizabeth says:

    I also have a “commonplace” book for quotes, and a basket filled with things that speak to my “bucket list”…a map for traveling, a dollar for finances, a bandaid for health, a seed packet for a garden (that one came true already!), a paintbrush for art projects, an antique pen nib for writing, etc. I go through it and think about how some of them have been fulfilled, and look forward to the rest coming true.

  63. sarah gillard says:

    Susan, you should visit the windmill in Cranbrook. It is four miles from Sissinghurst. I am not familiar with you, but my cousin emailed me your link. I live in the area. Also, if you haven’t been to Knowle in Sevenoaks you will most likely drive right past in on the A21 on way to Sissinghurst so worth a visit as well. Enjoy your trip. Let me know if you want tea room suggestions!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you! Knowle is on the list … where Vita was born, I want to see it! And now I have your Windmill too. I’m assuming it’s not one of those big white modern ones we have over here? 🙂 We are staying near Tenterden, do you know it?

      • sarah gillard says:

        Windmill built in 1814! open Saturday afternoons I think. I haven’t been to Tenterden in several years, but when I was last there it was a lovely, upmarket town.

        • sarah gillard says:

          I live near Penshurst Place…which has a lovely garden…much small house and garden than Knowle…but still worth a visit if you have time.

        • sbranch says:

          We drove through it last time and I wrote it down . . . we thought it would be a good place to be. Hope it is!

  64. Ann says:

    You will have a wonderful trip Susan but I’m always slightly niggled when the UK is referred to as “ENGLAND” – there are FOUR countries over here, each with their own identity, language and culture. I know Scotland and Ireland are well known to you all over there but if you miss out Wales (ever heard of it?) you will miss seeing many treasures. OK – I’m biased…. I’m Welsh born and bred and have live here all my life. But there’s so much history and beauty here. Just my own small market town of Ruthin in North Wales has many sights worth seeing and even has a song written about it – want to take a look?
    (oh, and you can get here by bus)

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I’ve heard of it! 🙂 We’re going to try to get there…Laura Ashley was born in Wales and so was Tom Jones and many other adorable people including you! I know what you mean, people get mad when we call our country “America,” like we’re the only one — we’re only part of North America! I think it’s just shorthand . . . but I’ll try to be better. Loved the video…wonder if David made it? We have a car. 🙂

    • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

      Hi Ann,

      I visited Ruthin on my first trip to the UK in 1992. It was a charming town. I will have to bring out all my UK photos to enjoy again on “our” upcoming trip. We stayed at a lovely B&B in the country just outside Ruthin. It was owned by a woman who sometimes had visitors who came to stay a while in order to polish their Gaelic with her, even folks from the States. It was heartwarming to know that efforts are ongoing not to lose this ancient language. I had a nice daydream about learning the language myself and coming back one day to polish up my Gaelic too!

      • sbranch says:

        Here we go! And even without a train station! Wasn’t that video funny!

        • Ann says:

          Oh Susan I do hope you didn’t think I was scolding! I did almost put in a bit about the US similarly being called America being the same thing. Of course I forgot you know all about Laura and Wales – sadly nothing LA is made here now. Have a fabulous trip and I do hope you find your car wandering over the border a couple of times – if you get to Ruthin ever I’d love to show you round. And I think its a shame our Mayor didn’t invite David to stay! I’d be a bit embarrassed to invite him to stay with me!! ;o)

          • sbranch says:

            Not at all . . . I loved that video!!! So charming. I’ll remember … how could I ever forget Ruthin again! 🙂

        • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

          It was great—it was so much fun I watched it twice! I hadn’t heard about this fellow before. I will have to go back and watch some of his other videos.

          I keep thinking that I’m ready for our trip and then I remember other things that I have. I have diaries from my previous trips and many copies of Realm magazine to look at again too.

      • Ann says:

        Hi Kathy – I’m so pleased you remember Ruthin…. but it has changed since you were last here – some things for the good but (as everywhere) a lot not so good! The town centre is mostly the same though. You’ll be pleased to hear Welsh (not Gaelic ;o)) is thriving and is heard everwhere in the streets and shops. But its very hard to learn – I’ve been trying for years and am still just a beginner!

        • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

          Yeah, I didn’t think “Gaelic” was right but “Welsh” obviously was too easy. Thank for correcting me. Well, you certainly have an edge on me in learning Welsh by being right on the spot so I think I will leave that as a nice daydream. Was “Welsh” born of “Gaelic” or are they related at all? Isn’t “Gaelic” what the Celts spoke? And weren’t the Celts driven into Wales, as well as other areas? Well, I’m showing my ignorance now; I’ll have to look it up obviously.

          One of the neatest things about my visits to the UK, but especially my first trip because it was so surprising to me, was to discover how everything was so very different from the US. We took the A and B roads as we were just learning to drive the UK way. Not sure that was any easier than taking the M roads—-20 miles in our first hour with 12 roundabouts and nothing close to an ordnance map from which to navigate. But having been on the M roads now, I do know that the A and B roads are much more picturesque and well worth the little inconveniences such as no room to pass. We do always book as small a car as we can.

          Anyway, each village and hamlet fitting so nicely into the folds of the gentle hills, the buildings all built out of the local stone, a castle here, and then Stonehenge there, just over the hill, out in the middle of nowhere. Not a frame house in sight, and miles and miles of roads through fields of sheep enclosed by hedgerows or dry stone fences, until there at the crossroads a loan red telephone box. And all the while I was thinking that every single inch must have been trodden and known intimately by many generations of folks over the centuries.

          Oh, Susan and Joe, I’m so glad you have two months for this trip. You can take it slow, go where your fancy leads you, savor the details and be surprised by joy. That’s the very best way, isn’t it?

  65. JoAnne Daniels says:

    Hi Susan! I’ve been clipping ideas out of magazines since I was 17 and dreaming of one day owning my own home. My biggest, and on-going, project is the home my husband and I built. I’m not so organized as to put the ideas in sleeves, but I have bulging files full of magazine photos and photocopies from library books of every idea I like. Periodically I go through the files and I’m always amazed at how so many of the ideas have stood the test of time….I still like them! I know the idea files work because some of the photo ideas have become a part of our home and life!
    I’m lucky that my husband is so good with design and power tools — he helps the hard scape ideas come true and I’m always on the look-out for the decorating items that make my home complete. I have an affection for black crows — their rawkishness and irreverence, and I once saw a wooden crow perched on a shelf in a magazine — I now have two wooden black crows that are perched on a high shelf overlooking my foyer! I also clipped a photo of a small stuffed rabbit sitting on a window sill with a vase of lily-of-the-valley
    sitting next to it — well, now I own a small ceramic rabbit that holds a wire basket filled with small white eggs and on his back is an attached glass vase to hold small flowers — like violets or lily-of-the-valley! I place it on a window sill and smile! These are small examples but they make me happy. GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE!! I confess that there are a few photos that are still on my wishlist and I wonder if I will ever have them. In the meantime I enjoy my “idea” files and look forward to what comes true next!
    I know you like to recommend books — when we built our house my “bible” was Alexandra Stoddard’s “Stye for Living”. I don’t know if it is still in print but she helped me focus on what made me happy and started me on the way to “idea files”. Kudos to two inspirational women — Alexandra Stoddard and Susan Branch!! You go girls!

    • sbranch says:

      I think we always need to keep wishing and hoping for beauty in our lives, it’s almost worth it NOT to get something, just to have the wish. Thanks JoAnne!

  66. Lisa says:

    Oh Susan, this is the very best blog post ever! I’ve always kept dream books too and it’s fun to see how you’ve kept yours. Makes me want to go pull mine out right this very minute! Thank you for making me smile today.

  67. Janice says:

    The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert. You will love them. Cozy mysteries based on all the animals that inspired her books and her life while in the Lake District.

  68. Rosemary says:

    Good morning! It is such a glorious spring morning here in Texas. We have had the most wonderful weather…to make up for our drought last summer and fall. Our roses…Queen Elizabeth is my favorite…are just lush! And I planted a clematis yesterday to run up an obelisk in my flower bed. Your inspiration books are so perfectly wonderful. I think the gardens you have shown us at your two places surely do show that your inspiration books do the trick! I like what you said about marching through life making the conscious effort to make your dreams come true.
    Hanging the clothes on the line…such sweet memories of my Grandmother, my Aunt, and my Mother….and now me…all “hanger outers”. All bedding…always.
    My Grandmother in NY had a pulley line off her high porch that was connected to the barn and she would send them out….even in winter…with gloves on…frozen sheets. We had my Aunt’s house after she was gone as a place to stay in the summers and my little daughter at the time…about 6…and I would use the wringer washer and do the laundry and hang the clothes out.
    Dear, sweet memories.
    I am so happy for your trip to England. If there was anyone who will find and do the sweetest, perfect little country treasures it will be you. Wales sounds wonderful, too and I am of Welsh ancestry…lots of it. It is just amazing that you will share this all with us. Sometimes the computer is a blessing♡ but not when it comes to inspiration books. Paper and scissors are best for them. I do like Pinterest though.
    OK…so many lovely things you mention in your blog seem to touch the hearts of so many people. Isn’t that grand? We need to have a conference of Susan Branch followers but cannot imagine a facility that would hold all of us!
    Happy Day!

  69. Jack says:

    SHAZAM! — I have an Artichoke growing; it’s about one inch across now. The trick will be to keep the Javalinas from eating it. I’ve got a Halloween decoration of a figure-like-person that I will stand out there, like a scarecrow. But when those wild pigs are after food, nothing much deters ’em. They even went through electrified wire to get at my neighbor’s garden. They are keeping away from here, so far, ’cause I pepper them with the BB Gun. They hate the noise the gun makes, as much as the BBs. The guy next door said he saw a herd of 14 pass through here yesterday, so they are around ….

    • sbranch says:

      I forget you have wild pigs, it sounds so wild wild west! Would they go after you, or kitties and dogs?

      • Jack says:

        Defensively they might go after a dog, especially when the pigs have babies, but not aggressively; they are herbivores, they’d rather eat the garden. They can do major damage to any dog and have a mouthful of teeth. They even eat cactus with all the spines, but given the chance, they will mosey off from a dog. When I throw a rock they take off with a rush; but stop soon, and walk away quite disgusted with the situation!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Jack–OH MY GOODNESS! Wild pigs??!!! Protecting gardens and flowers here in Minnesota from the deer seems like child’s play after reading your post! When Fanny and Betti, our schnauzers, complain about going outside at night next winter, we will remind them that they could live in Arizona and then worry about wild pigs instead of the occasional coyote! 🙂 My parents, who were from Iowa, also moved to Calif. when we were little and lived in Burbank. (what was it with all the Iowans of that generation moving to California???) We were raised loving artichokes and I married a guy from California who also loves artichokes, so when we buy them in the supermarket here, we get a lot of questions from the checkout people! 🙂

  70. Carol C says:

    Hi Susan, —About the calendar picture I mentioned earlier, I don’t know what year it was but it was the Nov. picture. The house has a slate roof, stone chimney and stone sidewalk and porch, just like my house. At that time our shutters were painted red, but now are slate blue. There is a banner over the house that says contentment which there should be over my house! I’d say it’s more than 10 years old. Oh and there’s a fall leaf wreath on the door and a pumpkin on the porch just like I put out in the fall. I wonder if you drew this house from an actual house or from a real one you saw. I hope you do have a copy somewhere. JoAnn’s Fabrics here used to sell some of your artwork and I bought several but was always on the lookout for this one.

    • sbranch says:

      I found it .. it’s from the 2000 calendar. November, just as you said. It’s just the house you’re thinking of as a print?

      • Carol C says:

        I’d love the house alone or with the BP quote. Is it possible?! I think others might like it, too. Anyone who is a “house person” it seems to me. I’m going to try to find a way to send you a picture of our house so you can see what I mean about the resemblance. Thank you so much for going to the trouble of looking it up!!!

        • sbranch says:

          I hope I have time to get to it before we go, but something tells me, because we go in two weeks, it might have to happen when I get back!

          • Carol C says:

            Please put this on the back burner until you get back!!! Obviously I’ve been waiting since 2010 so whats another few months. Actually, we are leaving on May 2 and have a constant string of trips through July. So please, let’s think about this later! Have a wonderful, safe and happy trip. I haven’t been to Britain since ’83. So excited to go again vicariously!!

          • sbranch says:

            Remind me Carol, when I get home!

  71. birdie blue says:

    loved seeing the glimpse into your inspiration books, susan. i’ve kept a few ‘dream books’ myself over the years, including a cover of a better homes & garden featuring a certain dining room set. i’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to hear of all the fun family dinners we’ve enjoyed on that very same set (once i was able to track it down at an affordable price). i think i’ll have to do a post on it one of these days….

    enjoy your trip to the uk. a perfect jubilee mug can be found at cath kidston.


  72. Susan Hann says:

    I’ve been a fan of yours for years. I’ve always thought we had alot in common (besides the first name!). I too have kept a dream book – started it in the 1970’s. It’s full of ideas and pictures; recipes, crafts, garden, home decor, etc. I even have some recipes of yours that I cut out of magazines before you authored books! And I carry a purse size book just like you also! I really enjoy your website – it always puts a smile on my face. Thanks for being a friend from “across the miles”. That’s what I call people I’ve never met but admire and feel close to – like the greeting cards you see for someone “across the miles”. Happy Birthday too!

  73. Marilyn says:

    How wonderful to have girlfriends like these. That is my hearts desire, but so far these sort of friends are online only. I dream of these kind of friends. Friends that I can run and play with. Thanks for sharing your friends with us.

  74. Anne says:

    I love your inspiration binders Susan – what a great idea! It reminds me of the collages my sister and I used to make w/our old “Seventeen” magazines. We clipped pictures of all of our favorite things. I loved the Willard too! Sooooo nice to come home from work and read your wonderful words and look at your beautiful watercolors with a glass of wine. Can’t wait for England 🙂

  75. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! What a wonderful story and such a wonderful idea your great grandmother had! I have a garden journal, but now I am going to start a dream garden scrapbook and maybe my dreams will come true!!! And maybe a dream sewingroom scrapbook…..this will turn positive thinking onto positive results….I love it!!!! Thank you for the inspiration!

  76. Deb from Dixie says:

    Read the last two wonderful posts, and wanted to pop in and say thank you. I just got home from being out of town. The past few days several of “our gang” of old friends came together to help and support one of our dearest friends who is going through a difficult time. We came together from across the country with the intent to help her, and found we all left feeling we were blessed with gifts…… gifts given from each others hearts. The power of friendship is amazing.
    So, tonight when I got the chance to finally catch up on the blog posts…….your girlfriends post, your birthday party……was so touching to me. The sharing and caring so enriches our lives.
    I also loved reading about your scrapbooking, and it seems, us girlfriends all pretty much have a version of dreaming for the future we hold close at heart.

    So, next….I am going to make a big mug of hot chocolate, relax, happy to be home again, and I saw the Willard in my email, and saved it to savor as I sip my cocoa. Susan, thank you for always inspiring us, talking to our hearts and giving all us girlfriends ( and jack) this wonderful place to connect and share. ♥ ♥ ♥

  77. My wife has been doing this, too, for years, and it’s such fun to look at her books… It’s like looking at a magazine made just for us. It’s also interesting to see how our tastes change over time. It’s like a record of the things we’ve liked over the years.

    I love the story about your great-grandmother and your mother. I could imagine myself listening to that great song on the radio on a warm summer’s night in the country. Not only do you paint lovely pictures with your watercolors, but your words also. Thanks for sharing!


  78. gina h says:

    I spent a week in Cornwall several years ago travelling with my son’s choir, and was always lagging behind the group savoring the gardens, plantings, etc., and grabbing a second cup of tea. When I got home, I made his scrapbook, then collected all the garden and flora pictures I took and made a garden journal for myself. It was so much fun, and great to look back on and remember. You are so good to help us all remember how great it is to keep those memories in scrapbooks and journals. Life’s too short not to savor it.

    Looking forward to your posts and pictures!! You have us all excited !

  79. Beth Foraker says:

    Oh Susan…I just sent this quote about the Grand Essentials of Happiness to my dear friend today…so lovely and simple, yet so profound. I know this might take the fun out of your real-life binders but I wanted to tell you about Pinterest ( if you don’t know about it yet. Basically, it is a website that allows you to create “virtual binders” (they call them Boards) for whatever your heart desires. You “pin” whatever captures your fancy to a board that is labeled however you choose and away you go…searching the internet and organizing it into these Boards. It’s quite addictive and fun! Plus, it’s a fantastic way to dream. I love your story of your mom and grandmother…beautiful. Thanks so much for your inspiration and your sunshine. You are simply wonderful. <3 ~Beth

  80. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Hi Susan * on April 20 @ Midnight…Cougar Mountain, Washington Time.

    Re: Your Inspiration Scrapbooks Posting…
    You put the “Inspire” in Inspiration with this blog and in each and every other post that you write. And that includes, Willard, which, by the way, is a totally wonderful-I-can’t wait-to read-newsletter! And I did today!

    I, too, have inspiration scrapbooks, labeled “Dream Wishes”, filled with notes, quotes, travel places to go, colored fabric swatches, furniture pictures, especially vintage white roll-top desks, home design plans, snippets of satin ribbons and gift wrapping ideas, and even new cupcake recipes to try, yours included.

    I loved the quote you began your post with by Jean Anouilh…”Some people like to make a little garden out of life & walk down a path”.
    I would like to add my quote, if I may…
    “Some people come into your life and lead you down a path of kindness, sunshine, fun and inspiration. They make you happier, just because you walked down that path. You, Susan are one of those people!.”

    O.K. Go ahead, keep busy with your packing and trip planning. I didn’t mean to interrupt you this morning (it’s almost 3 A.M. where you are), but I just had to reply to your recent Inspiration Blog.

    P.S. This is for Jack, if he happens upon it…
    Jack…FYI, as my “dream wishes” come true, I still keep (just like Susan does), all the files and pictures and information in my scrapbooks. I guess it’s because we like to see that what we dreamed about, can really come true!
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  81. Karen Saunders says:

    Susan…not to change the subject but some of your comments about grandmothers and mothers made me think of my mother when i was little. (you and I are about the same age.) She said she would rise really early in the morning, pack up her ironing and head over to my aunt’s house and they would do their ironing together before it got hot. My mom would rise about 5 in the morning to do her housework, (which she said was her fav thing to do) and get it all done so she had the whole rest of the day free. She would turn on the record player and play those wonderful old songs and sing while she was cleaning and I always wondered how she knew the words to each song. (funny how a little kid thinks.) My mother’s gone now but those memories are close as ever. Everytime I hear an old song I remember my mom moving all the furniture to clean and her singing. It’s sad so many women have to work now just to make ends meet and they can’t stay home with their kids. My mom eventually had to do the same thing and tho my grandmother and grandfather lived with us, it just was never the same not to have my mom home.

    • sbranch says:

      I always hated it when my mom went out to work. We were so lucky. She only did it a few times, to help pay for Christmas, but she was definitely a ray of sunshine, and she sang all the time too.

  82. Jack says:

    sooo are you getting a Tatoo while you’re in England …..?

  83. Georgie says:

    What a wonderful idea to create a notebook! I create scraps of paper, and tear out pages and then put them in piles, relling myself, someday I will put them together and organize them (ha!). By then I get more dreams about something else and doodle on more scraps of paper and tear out more magazine pictures… on and on.

    As you’ve written so many times, the idea is simply to START… BEGIN where you are. Even if I combine DREAMS into one book ( to sort out later), I will at least have captured my thoughts in one place.

    Oh Susan! How can you concentrate! Big Boat! Sailing on the Big Ocean! Lots of Dreams coming true and many more to come!!!

  84. eva says:

    the collection of bird houses may just need tiny “house numbers” by the doors….

  85. Jennifer says:

    Hi Susan. Thank you for sharing your scrapbooks. I make them too – one for recipes, one for fashion, one for decorating, the list goes on! You just gave me a great idea – I have your 3-ring address book and now I plan scrapbook photos to match each corresponding person/family. I have three lovely school pictures of my best friend’s kids and I didn’t know where they should go. Now they have a home.

  86. Susie says:

    Hi Susan! You are always a breath of fresh air in my life. I was missing you and went looking for Willard. I came by your blog and found out all I have been missing. Home at last! I am thrilled to hear you will be going to England once more and can look forward to hearing all about it. I so enjoyed your telling us of your dear Grandmother’s dream book. I, too, keep a small notebook (dreambook) handmade by an artisan and really want to make a more conscience effort to hold fast to my dreams. Thank you for this lovely reminder. Have a wonderful trip!

  87. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! I just hung up the phone with my father (who lives on Harsen’s Island, MI), and he listened to the entire song by Vera Lynn, I’ll See You In Apple Blossom Time……………………he quickly commented that he and my mother (now deceased) danced “cheek-to-cheek” in 1946 to this song!!!! He loved listening to it through the phone lines!!! Oh Susan, you sure do know how to pick the songs!! Thank you so much, it made my Dad’s day!!!!

  88. Tami says:

    Beautiful post! One problem though, I can’t get the song out of my head!!! Not sure I really want to,but it would help if I could remember more of the lyrics than what I have thus far! :o)Love the idea of an inspiration book(s)! Have had plans to do something like that for quite a long while, but have only gotten as far as having snippets of paper & magazine clippings stashed here, there & everywhere! Not a satisfying or tidy habit. Need to turn my somedays into today, or maybe just shoot for this weekend. Good thing is, even with my inspiration scattered about, if I’m in need, my “go to” is right here!! 🙂 I love that you are a glass half full girl & it helps remind me to be 1 too on the occasions that I start to slip a little… Thanks for being so “Susan”!

  89. Hi Susan,

    You inspired me to write a bit about my own visits to grandma on Dapper and Dreamy. I mentioned you and your post in mine, and linked back to it. Seems like I am always mentioning your blog! You can read it at If you’d like to.

    Take care!


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