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. paulie says:

    Good Morning Susan!
    I absolutely love this post today; (love them all actually) but do have some favorites too. You are so smart! I had a couple of these books I kept for years but I called them my Idea Books……..some ideas I brought to fruit and many just got tabled because life got too busy raising our children. To think I threw these all out one year when I decided I had too much paper accumulating. Your post brought back so many memories from this, it is amazing. What a trip this morning! Thank you so much Susan. You truly are such a gift to all of us. Have a super day Susan!

    • Suzanne says:

      Susan, although I am not an artist in the “drawing” way, I love pens, papers, note cards etc. and do my “art” with stamping cards and making scrapbooks. Although I love all of your writings, today’s hit a spot as I am also a keeper of journals and write things down,usually on a daily basis. Not important things to anyone but me, like maybe a surprise phone call, package or letter in the mail, scriptures, thoughts, feelings etc. I also keep what I call my “Snippet” book which consists of small pictures, verses etc. that I have snipped from greeting cards, or small thank you notes I recieve etc. It gives me much pleasure to look at it from time to time and recall the time, occasion that each little pasting commemorates or remember the peson that sent them to me.

    • Celeste says:

      Oh how funny-not long ago my sister was visiting from out of town and I was telling her about somewhere I want to visit.I pulled one of my dream books from my desk and she spotted my others.She started to laugh and I looked at her in question…it seems she keeps these dream books also and her husband thinks she is crazy.It made her so happy to discover that we share this habit and no one taught us-we just do.

    • Carol K from NJ says:

      Hi Paulie, I too have kept idea binders. They are all lined up on top of the file cabinets in the cellar. Haven’t the heart to throw them away just yet even though in my heart of hearts I know they are past using. Aren’t we all something. LOL

      • Paulie says:

        Even though they are past use as you say, don’t toss them out. I wish I hadn’t………it really is a look into the past for anyone coming up after you and will be so much fun for them to look at. But you are right…….we do have so many who are like us….loved hearing from you girlfriend!

  2. Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

    Good morning! I just pulled out my dream book this past weekend. It is a white three ring binder with plastic sleeves…filled with house plans for houses under 1,000 sq feet and anything that would fit in that small space. Your little notebook is what we teach our students to keep…it is called a seeds notebook to keep all those little ideas for writing. On another note I hoped the next time around I would meet a man with a wonderful mom…well I did and we married…she was a kindred spirit…mom passed last spring…but I feel so blessed to have known her. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Peggy says:

    Thanks for a wonderful inspiration today. I was in kind of a funk, bummed out by a few health problems, but you reminded me that I have “something to do, something to love and something to hope for” and my attitude has now changed. I’m excited about “our” trip to England and will certainly enjoy it while I am recovering from a surgery on the horizon. Thanks Sue and all of you girlfriends…you’re the best!!
    P.S. I have beautiful wallpaper in my dining room that I saw in a Gourmet magazine. I cut it out as you described dear Alice doing and my husband found it and never mentioned it. I returned from a “girlfriends” trip once and what did I find in my dining room? You guessed it! It’s beautiful and I still love it after almost 20 years. He had a decorator friend track it down and special order it for him and had it put up while I was gone. I cried!! (sounds like something your dear Joe would do!)

  4. Mary Spring says:

    Oh my God…Susan..I love this post…this is exactly what I need in my life right now….and other “friends ” will certainly agree with me…I’m sure !!!! I can’t wait to get started !….thank you, dear friend !!!! P.S. I love the qoutes as well !!!

  5. Just Tami says:

    Good Morning Susan…..I thought you may find the above interesting.

    Years ago, a wonderful friend of mine who owned a very successful business invited me to his year end dream board party. At the end of every year his employees would come up with their 10-20 personal and business goals before this meeting. They would type them on a sheet of paper and bring the paper to glue to the back of a small poster board. There were stacks and stacks of magazines in the center of the table. Everyone would go through them and cut out pictures that reminded them of their goals and glue them to the front of the poster. The dream board then hung in their office for the entire following year. (It was interesting to see the long term employees’ previous boards from all the years before) What was really cool about all of this was to hear how many things that came to past that were represented on these boards. Something is magical about this process.

    Thanks for reminding me.

    Have a great day!

    Your best friend that you never have met,
    Just Tami

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for sharing your dream books with us and all the lovely pictures. Have a wonderful trip, just remember there is one person in Idaho, pouring over every picture of your trip through England, especially the little cottages and flowers!

  7. marie bailey says:

    I too keep a dream book and I dont worry when it will come I just know it will. My husband thinks this means I a brat, not so, it means I know what I want. Why dream for something you dont really desire. My book is filled with lots of desires whilst different they all follow a similar theme. Every now and again I look through and realize how much has actually come into my life . Marie -England

  8. Sandy Richmond says:

    Good morning Susan,
    You could have been describing my grandma Inga, out on their farm in Lisbon, North Dakota! She had a big soft cover scrapbook, filled with pictures of things she loved-clipped from old calendars… I spent hours looking at that book when I was little…
    My friend Pat Mofjeld and I have collected clippings for as long as I can remember…. I dreamed of a kitchen with all white cabinets, and now I have it… It really pays to dream and visualize, and plan.. Now don’t laugh, but at 61 years old I have a sand castle lamp, a seashell mirror, and dishes to use in my beach house one day! I’ve been dreaming and planning this one for a long time (so many clippings!) Not sure how this one is going to materialize, but it’s my dream! When you wish upon a star……

    • sbranch says:

      You have to be ready! 🙂

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Hi from me here in Minnesota, too, Susan! Sandy is right, we’ve encouraged each other to make clippings and dream. I was the one who bought a fireplace tool set, brand-new, at a garage sale and a big woodbox, too, back when we were in a rental house without a fireplace. Everyone in my family laughed at me but you guessed it: When we moved into our townhouse, it had two fireplaces! I now have clippings of houses on our refrigerator door right now–dream of someday getting out of this townhouse into a house with a fenced yard for a garden like yours and room for schnauzers to run and play–and all of this hopefully before we are too old to deal with it! It hasn’t happened yet but I’m not quite ready to give up the dream… 🙂 I think the notebook is a great idea and am going to start one for my house in the future. What would we do without our dreams??? (or our BFFs who encourage us through life?!!! 🙂

      • Sandy Richmond says:

        I’m ready!

  9. Treese says:

    I have had as I call them “Dream Books” since I was a kid. My grandfather taught me to make them. He probably was trying to keep me out from under his feet when he was working the ranch. Mine were filled with horses, beautiful horses. Some were regular horses and some were magical ones such as Unicorns. The book was filled with horses of every color, but my favorite is a dappled gray. Now, we rancher’s have a saying “never buy a horse for its color”. So, all these years later I still long for a dappled gray horse. I think I will make a new dream book with dappled gray horses in it. Maybe, one will come my way.
    I also had a scrapbook on Hayley Mills. I guess I threw it out when I went away to college. Sometimes, I wish I still had that book as I spent my youth under a big white oak looking at those pictures of her wondering what she was really like.
    I also had a book with autographed photos from the cowboys that would come through at our local rodeo. They were so “old” (about 21!) and dreamy looking on their horses.
    I have always thought “Dream Books” were a way to solidify and bring to fruition a person’s hopes and dreams. Since, I have so many dreams floating in my head I need to get started making one again.
    Hey, tell Jack to start his own book! I saw his little foot on that page. Maybe he saw a bird in that garden. LOL.
    Treese/Colorado Cowgirl

    • Treese says:

      Susan: Will you ever get a dog? They are so sweet, but so are cats, but dogs can go EVERY where with you.

      • sbranch says:

        I had them when I was younger, but we do go away so much … they don’t want them on trains unless they are guide dogs. I could make him a guide dog, for my mental health. I would go insane without him. Would they buy that?

    • sbranch says:

      My very first boyfriend was Roy Rogers, although he didn’t know it. What a guy! And Trigger and Bullet!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Oh, gosh–he was MINE! As well as Gene Autrey (sp?)…And, sorry, I don’t think the “mental health service dog” thing will work on trains…hasn’t worked for me, yet… 🙂 They are great for lowering blood pressure, though. When we had three schnauzers once, the smallest was full of mischief and continually getting into trouble. We used to joke that she made our blood pressure go UP and we got the other two so we would each have one to bring our blood pressure back DOWN! LOL!!! (Should I point out that you could have a dog-sitter as well as a cat-sitter for when you travel?) 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          It’s one thing to leave a cat for 2 months, but totally impossible to leave a dog…those eyes would kill me.

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            I understand completely. Yes, it is the eyes that get us. It was a happy day when we decided to gate dogs in the kitchen when we leave to run errands. Besides them occasionally getting into mischief when left loose in the house (balls of knitting yarn unravelled all over the living room floor, corners of books in basket on floor chewed off, magazines off coffee table shredded–not getting into trouble, you understand, just fun & games for a bored schnauzer!), it is easier to drive out the driveway without looking back to see noses pressed against the glass of the windows over the back of the sofa with sad expression in eyes–“please don’t leave us behind!”… LOL! 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            So hard to do!!!

      • Treese says:

        And he could sing too!

    • Barbara T, Wolverine Lake MI says:

      I always loved Hayley Mills – and was especially fond of the movie: The Moon Spinners. read the book many times also! …. Hayley and Kurt Russell 🙂 my childhood faves – and Kurt Russell still – Goldie Hawn was so lucky to have him for her own 🙂 love watching them in Overboard!

      • Treese says:

        I was a little girl in braids when my grandfather took me to see Parent Trap with Hayley Mills. I remember she looked so grown-up to me. Yep, I think she was a scorching 14 years old! Very grown up to a little girl. I saw her in New York a few years back in a play and could not believe she is now in her sixties. Time does go by.
        Yes, Kurt Russell is dreamy especially in the film Tombstone. I LOVED him and Goldie in Overboard. Handsome couple!

  10. Mary Spring says:

    Ooops! I meant quotes…….

  11. Pom Pom says:

    It’s a great way to embrace life and cherish the great gift it is, I think! As I grow up more and more I find that it is immensely satisfying to identify what I LIKE even more than what I want. That feels good!
    My mom taught us how to make this kind of scrapbook, too. Such a good idea from another era.
    One of my friends taught me how to furnish imaginary rooms using the Sears catalog (and the Wards, too) and we had so much domestic fun doing this together. I think we were in the sixth grade then. I’ve always spent a lot of time furnishing my soul’s mouse house, I guess!
    Soon you’ll be in jolly old England, Susan! I’m so glad you are taking us along!

    • Carol K from NJ says:

      The Sears catalog was great for faux furnishing a doll house too. Paper curtains for the windows, paper pictures on the walls. What a hoot that was being a paper homemaker…

  12. judi says:

    A heartwarming post. I have also filled spiral notebooks with fav things – flowers, colors, gardens:), poems, sayings, snippets of nature (I love everything about nature) – things that make my heart sing. I find whilst reading your posts – I am always smiling ….a GOOD thing. Thanks for all the kind things you do for us!

  13. Robin Murray says:

    Love your post today Susan. I have the same bird clips on your clothes line, in fact I got them in Vineyard Haven in the Retro shop!! In fact I bought 3 bags full of birdies and attach them to my girlfriends gifts!!!! Love all your scrapbook inspirations, I have a few too!!!

  14. NANCY JO says:

    Hi Susan,
    Yes I was brought up on a big farm in the 50’s, still with the pick up sticks, the oil cloth, the porch and the knitting, etc. good times and lots of good memories.
    Nice post and you have inspired me to get out the glue.
    Nancy Jo

  15. Dinahsoar says:

    The word picture you painted of your great grandmother’s front porch was lovely. It takes me back and makes me long for those simpler times. We have friends that we visit often–on Sunday– and Irene always makes a huge Sunday dinner, enough for anyone who might happen by, and after we are full of her delicious southern food, we all retire to the front porch and while away the afternoon in a rocking chair. Simple times, simple pleasures….from the hills of TN.

  16. Sue Rideout says:

    Great ideas Susan! I have a little scrapbook in my purse that has material swatches, paint samples and flooring ideas. We are redecorating our home and it helps me with color selections and ideas. We are doing the work ourselves so it is taking a bit longer than planned but it is a most successful feeling to see the walls, curtains, couches and pillows finished!

  17. Vee says:

    And where do you keep all your notebooks, Susan? (What fun to find Vera Lynn songs. ♪ There’ll be blue birds over the White Cliffs of Dover ♫ and so many more.)

    • sbranch says:

      I keep the English ones in the room I read in, I keep the big ones in a hutch in the living room . . . We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when . . . (sob)

  18. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, Loved looking through your dream book pages and my 2 favorite are the English cottage with the thatched roof and the quilt hanging on the clothesline with colored clothespins! I love hanging out wash and where I live they will not allow clotheslines which is crazy to me because why not take advantage of Florida sunshine. Sooooooo, on wash day and only then Joe puts up a rod for me between two posts on the lanai and I hang laundry on hangers on the rod. Sometimes I line up outside chairs around the pool and put laundry over the them. It is very private here so no one can see it and I can’t be accused of hanging out laundry but I get the benefit of the sun. And, stains come right out from the sunshine also……..better than bleach! It’s not the same as when I had a clothesline and could see the laundry blowing in the wind but at least it’s something. Yes, I could probably get the round clothesline thing and take it down but I don’t like that kind. I’m glad we have restrictions for some things (like if someone wanted to paint their house dark purple) but I don’t agree with the clothesline clause. Have a nice day and enjoy your “dream book”! Hugs, Gail Buss…………Florida

    • sbranch says:

      Think about if your neighbor hung out her husband’s underwear, and imagine it’s not the kind you like! Feel better now?

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Had to comment on this one. Gail, I also hate it that we can’t plant anything in the ground at our townhouse–that is the rules. But I’ll admit that I would hate it if our neighbor dug up their little yard and planted it full of corn! (even if I AM originally from Iowa…) 🙂

  19. Suzanne says:

    Morning Susan!,
    I just love cutting pictures, recipes and decorating ideas from my magazines, but I’m just not as organized, all mine are in folders, kinda loose. I have a folder for clothes, kitchens, gardens, beach houses etc. I always said if I just have the time I’m going to organize these in notebooks with plastic sleeves! Low and behold you’ve awakened idea again for me. It’s such a fun project but just takes a little time. I have a cork board in my bedroom that I tack pictures on as well, one picture is of the victorian cottages in the campground on Martha’s Vineyard! I think that picture has brought me to you. Isn’t it interesting how just looking at a picture over and over actually brings things to materialize. I know it has happened for me many times. I used to dream as a child to have a house with a Victorian front porch, and today my house has a lovely one. Dream a little dream… -East Longmeadow, Ma.

  20. Patricia H. says:

    Alice and Patty…hoping, dreaming, planning, loving….the beat does go on. xx

  21. Lisa V. from Flower Mound, TX says:

    I do this! Except I have accordian files instead of binders. I have sections for garden, different rooms in my house ( including my dream craft room), places to visit, projects I want to do when I have time, etc. When I’m feeling blah, I like to look through a file and dream. I always feel better! Thanks for sharing yours! Reading about your great-grandma made me think of my Grandma. She grew up doing similiar activities in Newfoundland. She told me stories about the horrible rooster that use to peck at her stockings and terrified her. As a joke her brother later sent her small rooster figures! I now have two of her roosters in my kitchen and think of her every time I see them. Have a wonderful day!

  22. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Ahhhhhh, lovely girl, I love it all, thank you (spoken with an English accent!)!!! Perfect way to start my morning! Been awake since 3 pondering………and then, this!!! I used to keep notebooks similar to yours, but no quotable quotes, & a few drawings here and there! I just found my little page of “Our Beach Cottage” with a drawing & a list of wants, & I’ll keep it – never know what’s around the corner in this life! After all, I do get to go back to England, on a BOAT, soon with a boatload of GFs!! ♥ Joanie PS Is the birthday chocolate cake you made from “Chocolate” (2000), Pg 6??

    • sbranch says:

      Not sure, but it’s in the Autumn Book — I forget the recipes in the Chocolate book. I think we should all start talking with English accents, that was fun! 🙂

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Dahling (Eng accent ya know), yes, Autumn recipe a little different from “Chocolate” – thanks! I’m making it to take to a meeting, in a beautiful garden, on a hillside in Napa & it will probably taste really good with another wine if they don’t have Bonny Doone!!!! Cheerio! 🙂

  23. Kay in UK says:

    Thank you for this, Susan. I was having a bit of a miserable day and was indulging myself in a pity-me party when I clicked onto this post. You have brought a smile to my face and inspiration to my soul.
    Thank you again. xx

  24. Susan Simon says:

    Good morning, Susan and everyone. A cold, chilly, blustery day… perfect for cupping hot coffee in one of my favorite mugs… it says “life is good enjoy the little things”; it’s a good reminder of all that I have to be thankful for… this wonderful blog being one of them. Loved seeing all the ideas in your inspiration books… and hearing about your mom and great great grandma. You write so clearly, I could see the kitchen and the front porch with the two girls playing pick up sticks. I have a few small versions of inspiration books tucked into my bookshelves, mostly with house ideas and some with travel ideas. Love looking at them, but they are, of course, not nearly as artistic as yours! So now I have new inspiration from your inspiration books… thank you, Susan!

    This is the website of the bed and breakfast we stayed at in England on our first trip to the UK. It was a magical place. The picture of the thatched roof cottage made me think of it… hope it’s okay to share the site here. I would so think you would love staying there, if not on this trip, then on another one. The family who owns it are wonderful.

    Off to enjoy the chilly morning… have a wonderful day, Susan and everyone!

    • sbranch says:

      I hope it goes through, links get rough treatment in the hinterland of this blog! Some go, some don’t, we’ll see what we get this time. Thank you Susan!

      • Susan Simon says:

        So far it works… take a look and enjoy. A three hundred year old thatched roof house, a beautiful, cozy room with a WINDOW SEAT overlooking the garden… (can you tell I have always wanted a window seat? 😉 so special to me) wonderful meals, a driver to take you around and miles of sites and sights to meander around and through… I do cherish these memories so much… and wanted to share this terrific place with you all!

  25. Sandy Schaefer says:


    Such a beautiful post today. Thank you.


  26. Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

    a-HA! Ever since I was 9 years old I’ve cut out pictures of things I liked/loved/wanted/ NEEDED! I have file folders for the garden, house, crafts, scrapbooks, travel…. it never occurred to be to put them neatly in a notebook so they are easy to review and drool!! Once again, Susan to the rescue! I use to keep “vision boards” but they were so big they ended up in the closet… not much vision there! Great Grandma Alice was practicing the Law of Attraction! Have a great day dear Susan and Girlfriends!
    PS: Who knows, maybe one day Girl Kitty and Jack will tolerate (and secretly welcome) a d-o-g. They are great on walks!! If you get a retriever, tell Joe to start buying tennis balls and head down to the cove… they’ll catch balls for hours!!!!

  27. Diane Byrum says:

    Love your inspiration dream books. I have inspiration dream stacks, lol! Stuff I’ve torn out of magazines, newspapers, notes on bank deposit slips, magazines just too precious to throw out and more, but none as presentable as yours. Ziplock bags just don’t cut it. So you, Girlfriend, are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your ideas because I need it–and I don’t think I’m the only one. Love you, Susan

  28. Diane says:

    Oooh, I love this post. I, too, have several collections of inspirational pictures and quotes, although I WISH they were better organized. Many are the hours I have spent studying pictures and dreaming about the things I love…my husband notices and says, “Now you’re thinking again, aren’t you?” That usually spells trouble for him because he is my go-to person to help me make my dreams come true. Speaking of which, you asked me to update you about the swing I was hoping to get for my birthday Sunday. Well! Well! Well! I can barely type fast enough to tell you that I am now the proud owner of a black walnut “one person” swing, complete with a heart cutout in the center and hung from the highest limb in the big maple. Oh my goodness, the arc it makes causes it to swing so smoothly and I feel as though I’m right up there with the birdies. Of course, they aren’t too happy about the disturbance, but never mind that. They’ll get used to my swinging. I’ve already logged several hours and I love how the ropes make a creaking noise as they rub the limb. Dear Lord, does it get any better than having a swing in a big maple tree where you can dream about the people, nature, and things you love?!!

    I love your dream books and I wish I could sit by you and have you tell me about them in person.

    Diane in North Carolina

    • sbranch says:

      What a wonderful thing to want, and wonderful thing to get! Happy Birthday Diane!

      • Joanie B from San Diego says:

        Oh wow, I have not a good “swing” in a few years. I have forgotten about that and it will be added to my day tomorrow, I will walk to the park and touch the sky with my toes. It’s a lovely childlike and enjoy-being-alive activity. Thanks for the reminder, Diane.

      • Tawni urrutia says:

        All through out my son’s high school years, we would walk to the park in the late evenings and swing. There was something freeing, and fun and silly about swinging, just the two of us in the twilight. Just talking and laughing.Wonderful memories! Best of everything to you Diane!

  29. Diane Byrum says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention I went to your girlfriend Eniko’s blog–what a beautiful book she created for Jamie. And I love her writing style. I’m sure each time you ladies are together you have a memorable time. Thank you for also sharing your girlfriends too. I loved it!

  30. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh my gosh Susan I ‘always’ feel a little closer to you when you talk about your family here in Sioux City! smile… I remember my Mom also pulling out her scrapbook, but hers were of memories…things she collected in school and in her life (this of course was before Scrapbooking was so popular…) which I did also…you wouldn’t believe all the marvelous things I saved. Guess my thing is, no matter whether your books are your dreams or your memories they are a wonderful thing to have. But…now to the present day…yes I have cut outs of a house, garden, fireplace, deck etc…that I dreamed of having…and today we have some of it! This is so fun… The garden is my next dream I’m working on…smile…. Oh & yes we are going to England with Sue and Joe!


  31. Country Gal says:

    What a beautiful post and photos ! Its good to dream . I love your idea of dream books . I think your gardens and home are dreamy . Have a great day !

  32. Janie Phillips says:

    This is so inspiring! I love the Elizabeth Barrett Browning quote, and I love the way you paid attention to all the little details in the notebook you kept while traveling in England. Actually, I love it all and I don’t know why I’ve never kept my own dream book, but I’m going to start one today. Thank you, Sue, for sharing your beautiful light. xoxo

  33. Lucy says:

    Dear Susan,
    With every new post that you give us, I think “Oh, this is my favorite! I’m sure of it!” And so I have saved every post because they are all my favorites. I love your brilliant, inspired, beloved Grandmother. She has taught many today as have you. Thank you once again for helping to keep dreams alive and coming true!
    XO, Lucy

  34. Wendy Louise says:

    You always make my heart sing and little tears of joy form in my eyes. Susan you are such a very special person. Your grandma is smiling down apon you and your Mom and Dad must be so Happy with a daughter like you. Why the joy you bring everyday can fill up the entire ocean if everyone would listen. Thank-you for your inspiration, I think you are a real life coach !!!!!! I can’t wait to go to England with you and Joe, that wonderful man of yours. I’m squealing with anticipation! OOXX P.S. My garden picket fence is going up right now as I post. 😉

    • sbranch says:

      That made me squeal! How exciting! So happy you can come with us Wendy!

      • Rae Ann says:

        Susan & Wendy~Wendy got it absolutely right…a REAL LIFE COACH is what Susan is to all of us girlfriends…sister, psychologist/psychiatrist, friend, always positive advisor…xoxo…

  35. Renae says:

    I’m so excited about going to England with you! Hoping your experience will inspire my husband about us going some day! Loved your post and pictures today. Also loved the happily married squirrel couple and Harold! Thank you for sharing your life with us! God bless you, Susan.

  36. Debby says:

    I too keep notebooks full of magazine photos in plastic sleeves! I have four, recipes, places to visit, home ideas and plants. Your Great-Grandmom was absolutely right–it works!

  37. Debby says:

    PS I love the cat paw on the page! CUTE!

  38. Patricia Wehner says:

    Susan, I do that too!! I have notebooks of things I love that I have cut out of magazines, or printed off the computer. I covered them in fabric (using Elmers, messy, but good). I have recipes in some, house things in another and now I’ve started one just for “Green” living advice and ideas. I’m obsessed with Tumbleweed Tiny Houses (tiny precious houses on wheels) and will have one some day, I just know it! I’m 5’1″ so they are perfect for me! You’ll have to look them up – they’re precious! Anyway, I have one notebook dedicated to my tiny tumbleweed and all the things I would have in it. All my quilts would go with me, of course. Anyway, all my notebooks and my Susan Branch books are packed and ready to move to Dallas with me. Can’t wait for your trip, and all the fun things you’ll be posting for us girlfriends to see! Have a super day! Patricia

    • sbranch says:

      I built a tiny house, exactly the size of two king size beds, in the backyard of my first house on the island. I will have to show it to you one day! Used to sleep there on summer nights.

      • Rae Ann says:

        A TINY HOUSE!!!…wow…you amaze me, Susan…and surprise me…can’t wait to have you “show it to us one day!!!”…xoxo

      • dottie says:

        COOL! Will look forward to that post. I’ve been dreaming of an outdoor bed”room” on our patio or out on the pool deck.

  39. Gail in the Garden State says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thanks for this blog today! We are having record making temperatures here on the east coast. I have started planning my garden and waiting for the nursery to get in plants. I took notes (shasta daisies, more roses, more boxwoods) and some black urns with lots of color! And yes, I guess I am not too old to put together a dream book, so much fun to think about.
    I too am packing for a special vacation (Bermuda) and need to make lists and make sure I have everything. So excited about your trip to England, and can’t wait hear every detail about it!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Love the colors of the houses in Bermuda … all those vintage quilt colors, pink, yellow, pale blue, milky green!

  40. Jacqui G says:

    Oh my, this latest Willard was quite wonderful, Sweet Sue! I just clicked over here after devouring the email, and I must say- you make everything so exciting…and charming…and- I have no words! Anyway, I love this whole scrapbook about gardening. OH AND ONE MORE THING I am sailing on Sunday out of Miami with my sister & family (sister is getting married on board, my husband is performing the ceremony) and although it’s not a huge voyage like yours, it will be a wonderful 7-day get away for me. I’ve got my packing list ready! And inspiration by you- I shall blog! xoxo Love you, love your “stuff” , your friend-Jacqui

  41. Marianne says:

    WOW! I have tingles going after reading your latest blog entry! Why? Just this morning I was ripping pages out of magazines that really need to be thrown out and for me to save for “inspirations” for home and cottage! And before my walk, I went online and there you are showing the girlfriends just what I do! YOU ARE MY INSPIRATION! Thanks Susan…

  42. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Morning~
    I love this post~
    I too have books and folders of my ” dreams”!
    Thank you once again for all your inspiration ~
    From one kindred spirit to the next~ kindred spirit girlfriends forever~

  43. shari says:

    susan, what a smashing idea! your grandma is something!

  44. Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

    I will never have the gardens of europe as it took many,many hands to bring them to the fruition of their grandeur. The boxwood alone would be out of reach in price for most of us. What we all can have is the beauity we can invision in the space we have and the time we have to make our corner of the world a place where we can stop and smell the roses and let our minds rest.

  45. Jack says:

    I knew you did scrap books ……like for Mom’s Birthday — and sometimes hung a particular picture of something you liked on your refrigerator door , with a little magnet,but
    nothing like this , scrapbookitus — when do you paint , who goes to the store , where do you keep your clothes your not wearing ? And why keep all this information , AFTER you have
    obtained your goal ?

    • sbranch says:

      Is a person ever done, Dad, who just planted his blueberries? No. xoxo

      • Men! They never understand us, really, do they! I’ve collected all sorts of things in albums and journals for my 3 sons and they hardly appreciate it. But I know there will be some female descendant who will so I keep doing it.

      • sbranch says:

        Oh yes, some lucky little granddaughter will just love your things.

        • Rae Ann says:

          To Jack & Susan~Those are some of the questions I would like to know…maybe Susan could do a blog entry on her daily schedule…I know she is a very early riser…xoxo…

        • Siobhan in Santa Monica, CA says:

          I love that your Dad comments on your blog…it might be the MOST adorable thing EVER!

          • sbranch says:

            Me too Siobhan!

          • Jack says:

            Hi , Siobhan — what a unique first name . . . is there a story there?
            I spent many happy years working in the 21 story Lawrence Welk building at the foot of Wilshire Blvd. for General Telephone Co. when it was headquarterd there. So I’m pretty well acquainted with your home town. Our daily work commute took us up the coast through Malibu to the Topanga Canyon turn off which is where we lived during that time — when I retired we wanted a small town atmosphere so we picked this beautiful little place in the middle of Arizona — and have not regretted it ! Love it here ……

          • sbranch says:

            You made yourself a little bit of paradise, huh Dad?

          • Siobhan from Santa Monica, CA says:

            Hi Jack! Ha! Susan’s Dad! I can’t believe it!

            Well, I live on 10th St, just off SM Blvd, so of course I know the Welk building very well! Isn’t such a small world? I wonder if you ever worked with Emil Pourroy? He worked at General Telephone, and was my bestie, Desiree’s, dear dad?

            My name is very common in Ireland, and it’s pronounced Shivon. There are a couple of funny stories about my name. First of all, it was not easy as a kid, because of the spelling problem. I mean, no one had heard of the name and not one teacher could ever pronounce it on the first day of school without mangling it. Horrors! I felt very odd.

            But, my parents returned to Ireland for the first time when I was seven, and I almost had whiplash from whipping around every time I heard my name called…and they were NEVER calling me! There were tons of Siobhans over there! It was eye-opening I tell ya!

            Then, in the ’80s, there was a soap opera on called Ryan’s Hope, and there was a character named Siobhan Ryan, and hello, my last name is Ryan too! All of sudden, every cashier in town knew not only how to pronounce my name, they had to fill me in on my alter ego’s exploits. It was a great era for my name, very high profile.

            Now, it seems to be much more common here, and I have no idea what happened. Maybe it was Ryan’s Hope. I still spell it phonetically at work on the phone. Silly, but a time saver. I wasn’t really named after anyone…my folks just liked the sound of my name. It took me a long time to grow into, not until I was 16, but I got there.

            My parents came over in the late ’50s (on the other Queen Mary, the one parked in Long Beach now), and settled in Santa Monica then. I consider myself very fortunate to have been born here, and I still live here (in an apartment always as buying a house here is terribly spendy) and love being near the water.

            I know Topanga very well and always feel like it is Shangri-La…time never touches it and it is magical. My sweet friend, Talia, just opened an art studio up there a few months ago, called the Topanga Imaginarium and she is teaching art classes to children!

            Arizona is very beautiful…love Sedona so much myself, and have been on many road trips across the state. So glad you found it!

            Gee, this was an unexpected delight! Thank you!

          • sbranch says:

            I loved your comment to my dad…he will relate to every word! Thanks Siobhan!

          • Siobhan in Santa Monica, CA says:

            Are you kidding, Susan? Thank you! I forgot to tell him thanks, for YOU! I’m sure he loves all his children, but you bring so much delight and joy to so many people…you are a beautiful example of Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother…you bring them honor, and he deserves the pat on the back, right?

          • sbranch says:

            Yes he does!! xo

          • Jack says:

            Thank you for the insight “Shivon,” and yes, like the song, “It’s a Small World After All.” Sorry to say, I don’t know your friend; perhaps he arrived after I retired, in 1983.

          • Siobhan in Santa Monica, CA says:

            Well, he would have been there in the ’60’s & ’70’s…but I’m not entirely sure he was in the Welk building…Cheerio!

      • Jack says:

        And Artichokes !

      • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

        Wow, Susan….you are quick with a retort, aren’t you? 10:10 am to 10:24 am….I’m impressed. Did you get that from your Dad?

        Nice to hear from you, Jack! I hope you had a lovely day!

    • dottie says:

      She’s even more amazing than you realized! I too used to keep scrapbooks and looseleaf binders in which I filed away the magazine pages — MOST of that is now gone but I still have dream books — lovely books of ohtos of gardens which echo past gardens I’ve known and future gardens I would love to create — but which meanwhile I can simply look at and enjoy. And books chronicling others step-by-step achievement of their dream spaces — again I can transmute the ideas into my own versions. And we always need fresh inspirations or concrete incarnations of our dreams.

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

    I’m just so happy for you….I can feel the gratitude and the joy in your every word! I, too, am grateful for the women, like my grandmothers, who went ahead of me and inspired me (without even knowing) to live and love a simple, wonderful life.
    I know that’s why I make pies, why gardening is my passion, why I love quilts and white Adirondack chairs.
    I do keep several gardening journals and they’re full of magazine pages of my dreams and visions for my own little paradise. Like you said, some probably won’t be accomplished but all serve as inspiration.
    I have to say that one of my main sources of inspiration these days comes from your blog ~ the quotes you post just set my heart on fire! I’m reminded that all I have is all I need ~ especially when I have you and girlfriends and flowers blooming in my garden. (..and the pretty little Lauren quilt on it’s way to me)
    Life is wonderful ~ full of happiness ~ just drifting on the spring breezes and ready to be breathed in.
    Happy Tuesday morning, Sue!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh you are going to love that little quilt! And I love “All I have is all I need” — it really is, everything else is gravy, or maybe that sauce that goes under the milk cake!

  47. Lisa R (northern Arizona) says:

    Oh, loved this! Susan, your blog is like winning the jack pot every day. It would be wonderful if you could add a “Writing/Journaling” section to your menu. Your diary’s, and dream books are so inspirational, and full of ideas!! I would love to visit them again, and again! Your garden quilt is so very pretty….I just might have to put it in my dream book. We are so lucky, especially for you and all that you share with us Susan. Thank you! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      What a good idea Lisa, I will try to remember to do that, maybe after we get back from England!

      • Lisa R (northern Arizona) says:

        Yay! Thanks Susan!! I know you’ll have a beautiful new English diary to add to your writing section. So glad you’re the one going… one could journal England like Susan Branch! Have a fabulous, fun trip! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!

    • Shelly D (Central FL) says:

      Ooh– if you’re tallying votes, add me to the list of girlfriends who would love a “Journals” category on your already terrific menu. I usually just keep scrolling back to revisit them in your posts. Also — I, too, will order your England Travel Journal. So much inspiration from one person! Thanks, Susan!

  48. oh! I am blubbing great, big, wet tears just listening to Dame Vera singing, and all the happy memories of my own dear family that this brings back today. My Great Grandma had a gramaphone that I guess was just like the one on the cover of the YT clip . . I made my own scrapbooks when I was a child of faraway and romantic places like Africa and India and China and do you know what? I still have them. Sure, they are battered and discoloured and worn with time and love and I wish I’d used something else instead of sellotape as we did back in the day. My Mum tells me of things she made when she was a child too . . and your opening today brought so much flooding back . . keeping hens, baking with my Nanna, going up the garden to hang the laundry on the line and pick apples from the trees that Dacu Fach (my G’G’father) planted, and the great pink rambler rose that engulfed the hedge . .

    I still make scrapbooks today, some are of memories and keepsakes, others of wish books and inspiration books . . so much more user friendly than (speaks in a whisper) pinterest . . tactile and begging to be opened like a good story book should . .

    Like you I bake, hang laundry on the line (very techy drying laundry on line . . groan) and right now, as I’m typing through those sweet tears, I am sitting here in my Laura Ashley apron . .

    Always, Susan, you come up trumps . . said it before, will say it again . . just when I thought I had read the best of your blogs . . Thank you from my ♥

    Off now to batten the hatches as we prepare ourselves for another night of high winds and torrential rain . . oh! the joy of living in wild, wet, windy, wonderful west Wales!

  49. Heartsdesire says:

    Lovely idea, Susan, a dream book. I already have some garden things I like in plastic sleeves, now I need to put them into a binder. Even if I never get any of them, it will be nice to pass on to my daughter who loves to garden. Maybe she will add to it and have her dreams come true. Not long now for the trip to England. I already have my knitting project at hand. A lacy patterned scarf in a soft turquoise colour. Thanks for all the inspiration today. As always, you seem to be able to read my mind!

  50. Kim S says:

    Dear Susan: I took a chance that you wouldn’t mind and looked up your Great grandparents on Ancestry and found them on the 1930 census in Woodbury Souix City Iowa. They are in their 40s and he was born in Michigan, she in Illinois, their fathers were both born in NY and his Mother born in Wisconsin, hers in Illinois. The funniest thing as it applies to you tho is that his job is a machinist on a steam railway!!

    I hope you don’t mind – genealogy is a great passion of mine.

    • sbranch says:

      I just had my family’s whole chart done back to King Edward I. Oh yes! I love it too! But wasn’t really aware of the specifics on Alice and Walter! So glad they weren’t Bonnie and Clyde or something like that!!!

      • Kim S says:

        Lol I am too – I love the old stories and love the idea of the notebooks!! I gave my granddaughter a journal not long ago for her birthday and as you suggested wrote in suggestions for her to draw things such as her family and tell about her best friend. I put quotes on the pages such as from the Disney princesses and simple quotes (she is 6) and she absolutely loved it. My son said it was a great idea, so I am going to do it every year. I only had the idea after you wrote the blog on cursive and letters. Thanks for your inspiration and thanks for making me a hit as grandma, lol

  51. Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

    Since I have come to your blog I have learn alot. Lemon cucumbers? I have never heard of them till I read your diagram of you garden, which is so lovely. I was surprized they are round or one may say an orb. Now I will have to try them. I look forward everyday to see what you are sharing with us. Thanks Susan!

  52. Diane Byrum says:

    How wonderful and blessed to have your dad post to your blog! And so internet savvy. I especially love the way he expresses concern about your going’s on. He’s a special dad and you’re a special daughter. xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      We know we are lucky (we also think we are the normal ones!)

      • dottie says:

        Susan — one of my favorite sayings seen on a bumper sticker was: NORMAL people scare me. BUT your take on normalcy is the opposite of what I interpreted that saying to be about — I like your take MUCH better. And yet, I still can like that bumper sticker — because the conformity which it seemed to indicate is still frightening to imagine.

  53. Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

    Loverly! I have promised my husband and myself that I will get our small backyard flower garden into shape! The peacocks and other wildlife keep digging up the bulbs and so the arrangement is haphazard! Also need some summer color! Thank you for the ideas!
    Off to complete today’s list of errands & chores! I have to make a list of all the things I promised God & the universe I’d do this week if I got a reprieve from federal jury duty (downtown LA – but I’ll take the silver line bus if I go)! Don’t have to check in until next Monday! So now it’s up to me to earn another week reprieve! LOL!

    • sbranch says:

      Good luck!

      • Joanie B from San Diego says:

        Peacocks? We have skunks that dig holes all over our yard. Instead dreamily wandering through my garden, I have to watch the ground for skunk holes, aaaugh.

        • sbranch says:

          On the island the smell of skunk is one of the harbingers of spring!

          • Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

            How did they get to the island – swim?? LOL!! There must be a story there!

          • sbranch says:

            There’s a story. One guy, ONE guy, is deemed responsible and everyone knows his name even tho he is gone now. Craig Kingsley brought a pair of skunks to the island. Never doubt that one person can change the world! 🙂

  54. Sharon Byars says:

    Thank you for this bit of joy this am. Love the journals. Must tell you about the journal I bought at the Three Speckled Hens Fair. What a great idea this lady has. She uses old books. Mine is Elsie Dinsmore by Matha Finley. The books are probably in poor condition but she takes out the spine and replaces with a spiral plastic one. Then uses a few of the pages from the story. She also glued a picture of Elsie with her favorite pony on the inside of the cover. The remainder are empty crisp white pages where you can journal to your heart’s content. A bit of history with your thoughts. Hope you like the idea as much as I did. Good Day, Sharon

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds like a really wonderful repurposing of an old book!

      • dottie says:

        I love finding those journals — I have a couple with childhood book pages and the blank sheets in the back! Thanks for reminding me — I’m supposed to be on the lookout for some of my daughters’ favorites to put together journals for them as gifts.

  55. Christie Ray says:

    I think I could sit all day long and look at photos of journals, handwritten with sketches and photos…and be happy as a clam! I think you are so right…and thankful you had the idea passed down to you through the women in your family…that the thing you dream of can come to fruition. I don’t think God gives us totally unreasonable dreams…do you? The desires of our heart are within reach. I guess one of my journals is a dream book…which at one point I thought I was wasting the pages of paper by filling it with plans for my dream knitting shop, or the log house we were going to buy (that I mapped out all the furniture and curtains and such) and now, after reading your post…I should embrace those pages. I guess they set me on a course of seeing what I could actually do, and what was just simply fun to dream about doing. Thank you for sharing your process with us and helping us understand our own.
    You’re a dear one, Miss Sue

    • sbranch says:

      Happy you are here Christie. I have to tell you a long time ago I had to have surgery. They gave something to “relax” me, and I went into this totally loopy thing about the knitting and stitchery shop I was going to have one day, where all my girlfriends could come and drink tea and watch General Hospital with me. I think this blog is as close as I’m going to get!

      • christie ray says:

        I am chuckling reading your response…people buy tickets to come laugh at me when I’m on pain meds after surgery….
        But I think you have captured something here that is better than the knitting shop…how else would all of us here gotten to know each other? When I scroll through and see that Gert is here…I’m thankful! When I see Nancy Jo…I think “Oh, she’s the one that came for a little visit to my little blog” …all the familiar names…it’s like walking into Cheers..and everyone saying your name:) You have a very good thing here, missy, and we’re a grateful bunch!

  56. Linda Pintarell says:

    Funny thing…just the other day I walked in a store and they had Pick-Up-Stix and I just had to have them. I’m not exactly young…but young at heart…and they brought back such fond memories. LOVED your colorful clothes pins; how cute are they? Don’t get me started on puppy dogs; my passion. I hope you have one some day that can bounce around that beautiful yard and run on the sand and swim for that tennis ball Joe is going to toss. And for sure, this puppy dog will fall in love with your kitties and all will live happily ever after. Enjoy the day!

  57. natalie says:

    I have a three ring binder dream book also. But mine is filled with knitting patterns. I don’t know how I think I can knit that many things, but when I see a pattern I like ( usually free), I put them in the plastic sleeve and then when I am ready to start a new project, I pull out the binders and look for inspiration. I see if I might have some yarn in my stash that would work and what needles are needed and if the project is weather appropriate. No blankets in summer :-).
    But then I start oohing and aahing and my fingers start itching to create something new. My summer project is to put those binders in order so that when I want a hat pattern I don’t have to look through every binder to make sure I looked at every hat pattern I own. Thanks for sharing your dream books with us!!

  58. Linda Ishmael says:

    Sometimes it is scary how much you and I are alike. Maybe there are many more of us out there but here in my little corner of the world I have never meet anyone like me, until I found you in Country Living Magazine!! Today you showed your Dream Books….I have been doing that for years!!! My sister thinks I’m nuts. Mine are just the same; in the three ring binders and the plastic sleeves. I know people who scrapbook and I dapple in that too, but nothing I love as much as dreaming of all the wonderful things I’d like to do. I have a section on travel, gardening, crafting, health, quotes/poems, and receipes. Love spending time just looking over the pages and dreaming of something else to do. I teach art, as I have said before, and I have my students keep an idea book full of cut outs, simple sketches, and photos to reference when they are planning a new piece of art. Well thanks again for making me feel like I really do belong somewhere in this world and there are people out there who get me!! Have a great day and I can’t wait to travel to England.

    • sbranch says:

      I totally get you!

      • Gloria Dyer says:

        Hi Linda, I get you too! I am proud to call myself a dreamer, and with Sue’s inspiring blog we can all stand tall to dream on! It’s a good thing in my book. From one who dares to dream-Gloria

    • Pam G. says:

      there are many of us out here-I have come to that happy conclusion after reading Susan’s blog for awhile-wish we could meet!

  59. Cindy from Baton Rouge says:

    You inspire me to work harder on my wish books – have some but they are not as pretty as yours – need to do more cutting and pasting. Happy day to you!!!

  60. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    I love the story of your great-grandma and your mother and the wish books. What a sweet idea for her to share with your mother! My great-grandma, Nettie (how precious is THAT name!), used to make scrapbooks of beautiful pictures that she liked for each of her great-grandchildren….pictures she took from old Look magazines or calendars. Not really any words, just the pictures. I think that’s where I got my love and appreciation for gorgeous illustrations and magazine pictures. I go through magazines, tear out pics, but so far haven’t done anything with them….need to make scrapbooks like Great-grandma Nettie!

    Inspiration can come from so many sources, love that you have a little spiral notebook in your purse to jot down things as they come to you….I do, too! England, here we come!!!!! Happy Spring Day to you!

    • sbranch says:

      Alice and Nettie would have made a good old-fashioned pair!

    • sbranch says:

      I think Alice and Nettie sound good together!

      • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

        Sweet creative, spunky ladies I’ll bet they both were (LOVE the name Alice, too!). Long white hair, not cut but rolled into a neat bun at the nape of the neck. She’d sit at her cardtable (I remember her doing this well into her upper 80s) with her huge magnifying glass, working on her scrapbooks in her cozy upper flat with the bow windowseat filled with pots of violets! Ah….the memories…I can still “smell” her….wish I knew the fragrance.

  61. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    Ooohhh….also, I know you’ve mentioned the name of that gorgeous, sweet pink climbing rose in the picture above in one of the previous blogs. Just wondering if you might share that with me again. We’re looking for one for our zone so it may not work for Zone 4. There aren’t many climbing roses for Zone 4.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s New Dawn.

      • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

        Ooohh….thanks! I’ll check into it because I love the pale pink color.

      • Donna Ray says:

        Can’t beat that wonderful rose! I have pink crawling up and over the garage roof and white New Dawn all along a fence line. Both growing where others failed. Disease free and laden with blossoms early and late.

      • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

        I ordered it! It’s on its way. I only hope I can get it to grow and look as gorgeous as yours does in that picture!

  62. Sandy Richmond says:

    Good morning Susan,
    You could have been describing my grandma Inga, out on their farm in Lisbon, North Dakota! She had a big soft cover scrapbook, filled with pictures of things she loved-clipped from old calendars… I spent hours looking at that book when I was little…
    My friend Pat Mofjeld and I have collected clippings for as long as I can remember…. I dreamed of a kitchen with all white cabinets, and now I have it… It really pays to dream and visualize, and plan.. Now don’t laugh, but at 61 years old I have a sand castle lamp, a seashell mirror, and dishes to use in my beach house one day! I’ve been dreaming and planning this one for a long time (so many clippings!) Not sure how this one is going to materialize, but it’s my dream! When you wish upon a star……

  63. Carol Maurer says:

    Susan…. I love those clothespins that you have to hang your sheets, etc. Where did you find them?
    I have a few manilla envelopes that I have pictures cut out of magazines of gardens, rooms, etc. I love to go back and see them. Sometimes, my tastes have changed and I don’t like a certain thing as much as when I cut it from the magazine. Looking forward to moving up to WA so that I can hang my sheets outside to fill them with summer sunshine and smell!
    Carol M

  64. Jacquelyn Wirthlin ... Las Vegas, NV says:

    Loved the story of your mom and Grandma in Sioux City. My own mama was raised on a farm outside Thurman, Iowa, near the Missouri River. Thurman was very nearly destroyed by the tornadoes last weekend. My Grandma’s name was Josephine … Grandma “Josey”. She wore an apron all day … even to hoe corn or feed the chickens. What great memories. Thank you. Today’s “Willard” is gorgeous and sets my mind to thinking of tea parties. Thank you again. Everyone have a wonderful day.

  65. Donna Ray says:

    Oh, me, too, about the dream books. Have kept them for years….house ideas, garden ideas, inspirational quotes, fiber arts ideas. When my Mother was 14 (back in the 30’s) she pasted things in an old coffin catalog (her grandpa was the local coffin builder but you could order fancy from his catalogues) You can imagine it’s shape. It was full of her dreams and plans for the future. I used it as I eulogized her at her funeral……many of her dreams came true…..hers was a life well lived. She was a wonderful mother, farmer wife, friend and community member and made it possible for many other people’s dreams to come true, as well.
    Your post today gave me the idea to take the makings of a travel book for my sister. She lives “down home” in Missouri where my husband and I will be attending our school reunion this coming weekend. I’m packing right now. The school is so small (about 30 per class) and we all married each other so the reunion is for everyone who graduated in the 60’s. Then my sister (who rarely travels) is riding back up here with us to the shore of Lake Ontario. We’ll have three weeks to show her the beauties of New York State. A travel book will make a wonderful memory keeper for her.
    Thank you, Susan, for always inspiring ways to make life richer and just plain more fun! The timeliness of your posts always amazes me….it’s like you are truly listening to my heart…….are you? If so, then you know how much I admire you, Sweet Girl. Thank you! As always, DonnaRay

  66. Georganne says:

    Such a beautiful story about your mom and grandmother. Love it so much! My mom used to tell me little stories about her summers spent on her grandparents’ farm in East Texas, and those stories are little treasures I will always carry with me. And your mention of listening to an old radio, while on the front porch in the evening, reminds me of my own childhood summers (in the 60’s) when weekends and holidays were spent at our little (my dad’s hobby) farm. During the day, my girlfriend and I would ride horses and swim in the river – coming in with sunburned cheeks and ‘the hunger of the world upon us’. After the best ever home cooked dinner, we would find ourselves on the porch with my parents and sometimes my sweet old Big Daddy where we would listen to the one station his huge old wooden radio would pick up as we would wile away the evenings in the most heavenly glow of all being well with the world.
    And I used to keep ‘real’ inspiration books too, and I found one not long ago that I made before we built the house we live in now. It’s pretty amazing to see how closely the house resembles the images from my dream book. Sad to say, I take the easy way out now and pin my dream images to Pinterest ;). Guess that counts too, you think?

  67. Jeanette says:

    Susan, What a dreamy post! Thank you, as always. I’m an ardent believer in writing things down, creating the visual component of our dreams and never letting them go…I’m such a Brit-o-phile and can’t wait for “our” trip. I take one every month with my British Country Living. I love it so…it’s my “trip across the pond” from the comfort of my home with a wonderful cuppa at my side! Always know you are loved my many, especially me. xoox, Jeanette

    • Jeanette says:

      Susan, Did my post come through? It appears stuck…
      Just wondering…Have a lovely day!

      • sbranch says:

        I’m sure it’s here Jeanette … I was away yesterday, not near the computer for most of the time, and I have to approve each of the comments before they can go up (rules of the blog I guess….also we get tons of spam and wouldn’t want that up there!). Keep watching, your comment will come through in a while . . . there were 150 waiting for me this morning! There has to be a better way!!

        • Jeanette says:

          I’m sorry to trouble you, Susan. I just couldn’t figure out if it was stuck somewhere. I’m sure you’re up to your eyeballs in having to approve all of our comments. And, needless to say, you’ve got packing to do!
          Hope your day is lovely!
          Thanks much!

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

    Gee…I can’t seem to get my great-grandma and my grandma out of my mind today. 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 that had eyes that rolled and a bell that dinged as it was pulled, a Monopoly game and a set of cards. But one thing she kept on the lower shelf of her coffee table came back to me this morning ~ it was a big scrapbook that she and my great-grandmother had been keeping for years. Page after page of all the Christmas cards they had received! The cards were so ornate- embosssed and flocked and glittered- a real 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!

  69. Judy from Oregon says:

    Great post! I love that Jack got his paw in one of the pictures.

  70. Sharon says:

    I want to thank you SO MUCH for sharing your idea books with us! I love scrapbooking, and keeping ideas in a binder for future use! I love all things passed to us from our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents! My mom knows that and just recently gave me an old quilt that belonged to my grandmother. It will always be a real treasure to me. I hope that I can pass these things on to my daughters, too!!

  71. Ann says:

    I have been keeping a home dream book for many years. I had pages and pages of ideas I wanted in my “perfect” kitchen. Never thought I would actually be able to have it, but sometimes God blesses you. I showed my book to our contractor and now I really do have the perfect kitchen! And it was all there in my dream book.

  72. Sharon Calvert says:

    love Love LOVE both today’s blog and Willard! You are THE dearest person to share ‘freebies’ with us (i.e., Ocean Liner Cupcake Toppers, Tea Party Invitations) to further motivate and inspire us to action … as if your written words, photos, and illustrations weren’t enough! I so hope your voyage and travels are everything and more that you dream them to be. Enjoy!

  73. Laura Croyle says:

    Absolutely Love this post!! What a Great idea! Did your Great Grandma pass down her wish book to your Mom? I cut out and saved pictures from magazines of things I love, but never did anything with them. I just put them in an old cigar box. Just recently I discovered on another blog about scrapbook journaling where you past all these things into a book along with favorite quotes, etc, like you do. Now, why didn’t I think of that?!! I scrapbook my photos, and I keep a journal, but I never thought to put the two together! After much searching, I finally found a homemade leather bound journal with plain paper (no lines) at a local street fair. I kinda feel like a little girl gluing all her favorite things in a book, but it’s Fun!! Hopefully, maybe someday, I’ll have granddaughters to show it, too. (That’s my biggest dream now!) Thanks So much for sharing! Sooo looking forward to ‘our’ trip to England with you!!

  74. Donna says:

    I have one, too! Mine goes back to my teen years and includes colors and rooms, furniture, gardens, clothes, meditation articles, inspirations for paintings and needlework….and on and on and on. I thought to purge the sleeves I had outgrown as my taste changed, but my daughter was appalled because she love to look through it and get to know her mom at different times of her life. I am not allowed to edit, just add.

  75. Nellie says:

    Where did I read – “If you can dream it, you can make it so!”?:-)

    “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” is one of the selections our chorus is including in our Broadway-themed program this spring! Our “debut performance” is later this afternoon.

    We are still holding onto our “dream package” that we had when we built this house eight years ago.

    What wonderful memories you mother has of spending time with her grandparents!

    Have a wonderful Tuesday! xoxo

  76. Tamar Weaver says:

    nice. thanks.

  77. Nancy in Wyoming says:

    Thank you for the encouragement to organize my clippings – I tear pages out of catalogs and magazines, but need to put them in binders so I can easily read through them. thank you!! and I had a grandma like your Mom’s grandma – it was wonderful!

  78. I also have a dream book….well, several….I keep them for years and years and the funny thing is that things pretty much stay the same. I guess that way I know myself a little bit better. I love to cut out pics from beautiful magazines and also print pics from the internet. I have a new dream book I started before we moved to Utah and one of the ideas has actually come to fruition in my dining room!!! I was so excited.

    I like pinterest, but it cannot replace my beloved books. Plus, the pics I like from there….what do I do? Print them and add them to my dream book.

    I also liked the description of your mother and grandmother. It brought me back to when I would go to my grandmother’s home and we would make homemade tapioca or paint or go to the local “book-mobile” together. God, I miss her. My poor daughter has but one grandmother, but she lives far away.

    The old times were the best times. I hope my daughter feels the same way when she looks back. I have been trying to keep the old stuff from my youth in her life. And, yes, we wear aprons!!! And I have a whole area that I call my “crafternoons” area where we make homemade cards, and other crafts. I also collect pics about fun crafts as well, come to think of it. And many of the ideas I stole from you 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for letting us visit your life. I have loved your books for so many years and have incorporated many of your ideas into my life and my daughter’s life, as well as friends and family. And now I get to almost be friends with you (at least that is what it feels like). I am very blessed.

    Thanks 🙂

  79. How totally…..inspiring!! Which is funny, because in my mind no other single word describes you better, sweet lady.
    Sometimes I see photos in magazines or catalogs that I just want to cut out and keep before I pass the magazine on or recycle it. You, my amazing friend, have given me the idea to start keeping an “inspiration journal” – simply as a place to keep the photos that I love gazing at and getting lost in. How fun! Thank you!
    Do you happen to have a hummingbird feeder? Now that sightings have been reported in my neck of the Illinois woods, I’m fixin’ to hang one in the next couple of days!

    • sbranch says:

      I have had them, I always have them in CA where we have lots of hummingbirds, but there don’t seem to be too many of them around my house here on the island! I see maybe one a summer and it’s always a thrill.

  80. Dawn says:

    I think I’ve told you before…I feel like I am supposed to live in New England (and still believe that some day I will). I have a ‘Dream House’ folder and it’s filled with houses that look like yours. Lately I gather inspiration by the truck loads on Pinterest. But it’s always wonderful to do things the old-fashioned way….find, cut, paste, savor.

    Thinking of you!


  81. Julie Cavrich says:

    I have been doing scrapbooks for years. Mine are more of a mix of different things. I do have sections for Christmas, Halloween, ect. I have an article you did for Country Living, “All About Autumn”, from October 2007. So, of course I have a Susan Branch section! Kisses to the Kitties!

  82. Martha Ellen says:

    Susan, your gardening journal is perfect–A dream is a wish your heart makes! I love my gardening journal–I was referring to it yesterday and how the weather has changed so much this spring. We have lived in our home for 38 years and we have landscaped everything here except the large trees that were here. If it weren’t for those dream journals I don’t know what this place would look like!
    Susan, you are from very inspiring women! Lucky you! Lucky us! xoxo ♥

  83. Nancy Brown says:

    For over twenty years I have enjoyed all your art, recipes and stories. You never disappoint. Today’s entry brings us all back to a time that was so special. You were and are still blessed by such a wonderful family. Thank you for sharing these stories. You make my day better in every way!

  84. Marianne says:

    Love the “idea” scrapbook – I keep one, too. Reminds me a little of the old “S&H Green Stamps” — does anyone still remember those little treasures? Mom would find things she wanted in their catalogues (her “idea” books) and save hundreds of stamps in order to afford them. My brothers and I would spend hours during summer vacations licking the stamps and placing them in the books until our tongues were so dry and sticky we’d go through a gallon of Kool-Aid to get rid of the taste and dry-mouth. I’m sure Mom saved the stamps all school year to give us kids something to do on slow summer days. Once she had enough stamps to make her purchase, she’d pack us all into the old green Chevy station wagon and off we’d go over the hill to Santa Cruz, Ca. to cash them in at the S&H store. Afterward, she would take us to the beach/boardwalk for the day as a reward for licking all those stamps. Needless to say, we never complained about that little chore ’cause we knew it meant a trip to the beach! Here it is early Spring and I’m getting ahead of myself remembering summers gone by. Thanks for the memories, dear Susan!


    • sbranch says:

      That exact story was replicated at our house!! Kids around the table, licking stamps, for the free stuff! So exciting!

  85. peg says:

    Oh, Sue! I have dream binders! And, file folders, and large envelopes of pictures of things that I wanted to replicate, copy …. make my own. Inspirations from everywhere! Country Living, Country Home, Mary Emmerling, Mary Randoph Carter…books, magazines…sketches, too! I love your’s, though! You have lots of magical gardens…oh, to have the time to take the dreams to reality!!! Thanks so much for sharing! (still love the bird clothespins, btw! you should make them available on your website!!!). ♥

  86. Cheryl Danley says:

    I HOPE you’ll see this! I have a Great G’pa and G’ma Carpenter! Manual Paris Carpenter and Lou Alice (Cecil) Carpenter. Would they be part of your family?

    • Cheryl Danley says:

      Susan!!! What does that mean, my comment is awaiting moderation???” Did I do something wrong??? >.<

      • sbranch says:

        You’re doing everything perfectly, I was off island all day yesterday and didn’t have access to the computer for most of it, so there are lots of comments awaiting moderation, which just means I have to approve them (and filter out the gazillion chunks of spam that come here, before they get mixed in with the comments from the girlfriends) — it takes a little time, but I’m on it now!

    • sbranch says:

      Mine were Walter and Alice Carpenter … were yours in Sioux City Iowa?

    • sbranch says:

      Mine were Walter and Alice Carpenter … are yours in Sioux City Iowa?

  87. Mary S. says:

    Thank you for sharing your dream scrapbooks with us!!
    I have been saving pictures of houses and rooms I love for YEARS! I am not efficient enough to put them in a book, but I put them in a large box. It has gotten so full at times that I had to go thru it a couple of times and throw some of the pictures away! Every time I re-do a room, I get out my pictures of that type of room (kitchen, bathroom, whatever).
    Your “dream-come-true” about Joe brought tears to my eyes!!

    Blessings and love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  88. Linda W says:

    Susan – Henriette A. Klauser wrote a book titled WRITE IT DOWN MAKE IT HAPPEN

  89. Linda W says:

    Henriette Anne Klauser wrote a book titled WRITE IT DOWN MAKE IT HAPPEN and that is just what your grandmother taught you to do. And yes, I also have lots and lots of cut out pictures in binders and folders, two books full of quotations I like and am on #897 in my Happiness Book. What a great post, but then I think they are all great.

  90. Donna Hamilton, Arkansas says:

    I have kept magazine clippings, recipes, quotes, keepsakes from events, and other personally inspiring pieces for a long time now and I certainly need to organize them as you have. I keep all of my inspirational pieces in files folders in their own little pink box and I love to go through the files on rainy afternoons. I love how you wrote in your diary for your “dream” man and behold it came true. I did that very thing also; wrote what I thought would be the ideal man to be my husband on a 3×5 index card, kept it in my wallet, and it came true. We were married twenty years, 10 months, and eight days when he passed away; but that was the greatest almost 21 years ever. I think your inspiration scrapbooks are more the desires of your heart. I think I need to start organizing my inspirations and go make a new “ideal huband list”………the desires of my heart.

  91. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    What wonderful pictures again!
    You do realize we are all going to start dream books now 🙂
    I am going out tomorrow to get some blank books
    love that idea
    happy day Susan

  92. Joan Ramseyer says:


    I love to read the emails people send to you as they share their lives and identify with yours. I hope you never get tired of reading them. It is wonderful that you are making a big trip to England. My husband and I love to travel and this fall we are going to Slovakia to look up the town my grandmother came from when she was five. My grandmother Anna, her mother and brother came through Ellis Island in 1897. Her father was already here working in the coal mines. Over the years I spent many a summer day at her farm house. Her vegetable garden was her pride and joy. We learned to make little dolls from her hollyhocks. When we went to visit we always had home made bread and butter. It was better than cake to us. Thanks so much for sharing your stories. It reminds us of our own.

    • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

      Hi Joan,

      My sister and I used to make hollyhock dolls at my grandma’s house in North Dayton, Ohio. She always had cream soda pop in the refrigerator and grandpa would give both of us and our brother a quarter each which we could walk down a couple blocks to the corner market to spend on candy.

      They moved into their small bungalow when it was newly built. It had a built-in bathroom with a clawfoot tub and shower head. It also had faucets in the kitchen over a long sink. But it also had a handpump at the side of the long sink. I found out just recently that the handpump was to pump rainwater up from the cistern. Many women used it to wash their hair.

  93. Bee Stevens says:

    I am another with file folders of things for the house, garden, quotes,
    craft ideas, decorating ideas etc. Not so organized but I keep a couple
    and just stuff them in and then go through and weed out and put in the
    correct folder. Love your blog and the comments from girlfriends.
    Thanks. Someone once told me when you are packing for a trip take
    one half of stuff you think you need and twice as much money.

  94. Carol Deiber says:

    Susan, I live near Sioux City, Iowa. It is about an hour’s drive for us, that’s where we go for major shopping and to eat at Olive Garden or Red Lobster!
    It’s fun to think that you have “roots” in my neck of the woods. I grew up next door to my grandparents farm in Ohio. Got to gather eggs,churn butter,watch Grandpa milk the cows,help make hay. On those days of hay making the whole family of cousins, uncles and my dad worked to that end. It always amazed me,even when I was as young as six that grandma would set a fine table~here we were all hot, sweaty,chaff all over us (of course one had to scrub their hands and face properly!) and we all sat down to a feast for kings complete with white table cloth and napkins plus salt wells! And grandma would still hug me even if I was all dirty. It was a good way to grow up,and I think I got my creative bent largely from that grandma. Thanks Elza J. Wilson!
    God bless you Susan

  95. Jennie says:

    I love this post: I have one of those notebooks too! Well, three actually, and I call them my ‘brains’ because my own brain just doesn’t retain all those details well. I have a ‘kid’ brain with all sorts of projects and ideas for children, a ‘food’ brain full of recipes to try, and my inspiration brain; like yours it is full of dream homes, gardens, furnishings, places I want to go and things I want to make. However, I never thought of them as anything more than inspiration. Actually having a dream come true was never really in my mind.
    And I admit my vision is fuzzy- there is SO much I love (or think I love) and narrowing it down is difficult. I think a lot of knowing what we want goes hand in hand with knowing ourselves- at 33 I realize I haven’t even skimmed the surface of knowing who I am yet or what I really want. But when I do, I’ll take your Grandma Alice’s advise for sure. 🙂

  96. Ruth Thomas says:

    How wonderful of you to take us on your trip with you! I’m packed and ready to go. I love the idea of “planning books” so you never forget what you really want to do in life. We all get bogged down and forget that life must be full of fun and inspiration and fulfillment too. Off we go across the great Atlantic to our vision of beautiful gardens, arts and history!!!

  97. Judy says:

    “Honey Do-ables and Possibilities” was the name of my book – with all my dream ideas from the last 16 years with the light of my love – really loved this post and the array of feelings that came with it. Going down memory lane with someone you love is to be thankful for and hopeful of. Refreshing is what I call your postings and I thank you. I think I will go find my book … JC

  98. Kristina Moore says:

    I just love this…and I’m inspired to go back to doing the very same thing – I’ve got one going for home decor, gardening, recipes and travel! Lately I’ve been using Pinterest in much the same way (digital version) but I do like getting the actual books out and going through them… Thanks for the reminder!

  99. Theresa says:

    What a coincidence! This afternoon before reading this I determined to draw a picture of how I want to “redo” our living area this summer. I want to be sure it gets in our paltry version of an inspiration scrapbook so it can get done!

  100. Verla says:

    On one of the pages of your garden book, you had a seed packet for lemon cucumbers. Can you tell me about how they taste, how long they take to grow, (could they be done in a pot?) or where maybe I could find them already grown? Would really love to try them.

    • sbranch says:

      They still aren’t that easy to find, although easier in CA than in MA. I’ve never seen them started, always have gotten seeds … but yes, if you put a bush in a nice big pot, it will be fine. They taste like a cucumber! Not much different from the regular kind, just a little bit cuter.

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