HAPPY LAND ♥ ♥ ♥ Martha’s Vineyard USA

Welcome to Happy Land . . . with Musica . . .

You might be wondering where I’ve been . . . I’ve been right here . . .

And I just finished page sixty of our book, the English Diary!  Only two more gazillion pages to go, but we are getting there!


I’ve been focused like a laser, not letting myself get led down the primrose path; getting up really early, making tea, going through the house, flipping on lights, throwing the ball for Jack, and watching the sun come up, sometimes turning on a little French music to get me going  — smoothing out a clean piece of watercolor paper, and in my imagination and through my paintbrush, I stand at the ship’s rail looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, or wander through English cottage gardens.  Before I start work I draw my Angel Card and find out which wonderful word should guide my day.  I loved this morning’s word!

I try to put my very best on every page . . . I want it to be something I can be proud of and something you will love.  It is a little strange when you think that at one time these pages did not exist and now, here it is, slowly but surely, taking shape and becoming a book.  Making something out of nothing.  Kind of like cooking!


I thought you might like to see a little bit of it, although I hope you don’t mind if I don’t show it too close! I want it to be a surprise!  But I also think you deserve to see that it’s really happening!  You are so patient!

I’m handwriting it, like I’ve done with all my books, which is the thing that takes the longest. I actually kept the diary every day while we were in England, but I scribbled it quickly (and sloppily) so I could get it all down and not forget the details — I took my writing with me everywhere, always had it in the car, took it to pubs, even brought it along when we went on walks so I could write or sketch if we stopped for tea, and in the different gardens we visited; I painted too, especially in places like Beatrix Potter’s house where we weren’t allowed to take photos, so I would have it when we got home.  Now I’m copying the words over neatly, in my “good handwriting,” painting borders and illustrating the pages, adding souvenirs and photographs.  It’s pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.

My studio is filled with inspiration; especially books. I believe™ in the concept of “Book Osmosis,” where, if you surround yourself with the creativity and brilliantness of others, it will rub off on you; plus, I want to be sure I’m giving the correct name for the flowers we saw, the birds and the trees . . . And of course, wherever I go, so goeth Beatrix Potter. Because love is as love does. 

I’m having fun choosing and laying out the photos . . . more opportunity for the imagination to stay in England!

Lately the book is all I think about; I love it so much, I’m probably getting a little compulsive about it (this is where Joe would look up and say, “probably?”); I think about it all the time; that age-old question, “what do they want to know about, what can I give them that will bring them there?”  I wake up every morning, with my foot wiggling, by brain clicking; sometimes, it’s the “AHA” ideas of things to add to the book that gets me bounding down the stairs.  My life, in all other respects, has narrowed to the essentials.  Eat (we still have lobster on beach every so often; this is not a forced-labor camp), sleep, walk, knit, read, and create.  Notice what came first?  (Not necessarily in that order, I should add!) I watched Miss Potter again last night, and knit.  See, not all bad!

 My “true treasures of home” . . . here the children are this morning, a rare moment in  peaceable kingdom; and I did not order them into this position (like I even could) — But, this togetherness won’t last; already you notice Girl’s face is saying, “Take him back, I’m begging you; look at him . . . he’s looking at me again.  Make him stop.”  And he is repeating the same question over and over at a thousand words a minute, “What’d she say, what’d she say, what’s she saying? Tell me what she said!”

And while I’m consumed with my work,  and Jack is consumed with Girl, the world continues to turn; fall arrived yesterday, and was crowned with a sunset rainbow last night, right outside our front door!  I think I have never seen brighter colors on a rainbow!  It’s supposed to be cool and dry for at least a week; I’m wearing a sweater right now; we had to put a down comforter on the bed last night (windows open, crisp ocean breeze coming in, heaven)!  Joe and I just planned a leaf-peeping, four-day getaway for the end of this month for a surprise for us, since we have been working so hard.  Meanderment (meandering wonderment) in the van . . . no plan!  Back roads!  New England!!! Leaves!  Ponds!  Oh my.  Dreamy.

And, on the other side of the house from the rainbow,  this was the sky . . . everything so beautiful on Martha’s Vineyard in the fall, everything except our kitchen.

Which I won’t show you, it is too much of a nightmare.  Having an old house with lots of nooks and crannies, wainscoting, chair rails, window trim, scalloped aprons hanging from the ceiling and the like, are, 99.9% of the time, so wonderful I have no words.  That other .1% — is when you have to paint them.  Joe is doing a great job.  He has the patience of Job.

It will never be done.  But I don’t care . . . he does that; I paint; we plan our getaway; Girl plots revenge; Jack keeps us laughing; everyone is staying out of trouble. Life is good in the Heart of the Home.  Hope it’s the same for you!   Have a wonderful day!

P.S. Leave me a little message (be sure to mention where you’re from! Inquiring minds want to know, right Girlfriends?) and you’ll be entered into a contest for a FREE, signed copy of my (out of print) AUTUMN BOOK!  You may already have it, but wouldn’t it make a wonderful gift for someone you love?  ‘Cause it’s that time of year! 

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1,787 Responses to HAPPY LAND ♥ ♥ ♥ Martha’s Vineyard USA

  1. Your book is looking fabu, my dear! You’ve got us all chomping at the bit! xo

  2. Janet from Pgh, Pennsylvania says:

    I can’t wait for the book you are working on. All your books bring so much joy. I enjoy each and every one of mine.

  3. Karen Gulick says:

    Hi Susan,
    I am from Md. and I so enjoy reading your blog, it brightens my days. We have similar “likes”. Some of my favorite people are Beatrix Potter and Gladys Tabor and I love watercolors. Right now I am attending a watercolor class because I don’t know near enough about this medium. Question? What is your favorite brand of watercolors and do you prefer pan or tube? I hope to hear from you. Have a beautiful vineyard day.

    • sbranch says:

      I like both, really no preference, but maybe it doesn’t matter as much for me because I paint mostly dry brush. I’m more interested in having lots of different colors. Hope this helps! Have a wonderful day Karen!

  4. Lydia Alejandro says:

    Buenas dias Susan!
    I just love your website! I am looking forward to the England diary.
    The pages look colorful and interesting. I am interested
    In the Autumn book giveaway. I do not have one and it would be awesome
    To own one. I live in Fremont, Ohio. The fall seaon is beautuful
    In Ohio… The colors on the tree are spectacular.
    Thank you for your sharing your talent and everyday life with
    Lydia alejandro

  5. Debbi says:

    Autumn is my FAVORITE time of year. I love sweaters and crunchy leaves. Summer is fun, but Autumn has a sense of rhythm I crave. There is a large tree that I can see from my office window and I use that as my season-omotor! I’m at a desk 9 hours a day and this time of year it is dark when I come in and dark when I leave! However, that tree tells me exactly what the weather is outside. From the leaves emerging and now changing to the branches moving in the wind.
    I have checked out your Autumn book from a nearby library several times but I have never been able to find it to purchase. (I did just find your small JOY Christmas book at an estate sale!) I would be honored to have an autographed copy of your Autumn book to read and re-read as I sip my homemade hot chocolate! (Yes, it’s your recipe!)

  6. Colleen says:

    Hope I’m not too late to pop in. I live in Leesburg, FL with my hubby and kids. Love all your work! Can’t wait to see the ‘new’ kitchen!

  7. Catherine says:

    Greetings from Canada! I would be thrilled to have an autographed copy of your Autumn book. I have been collecting your books for years, but unfortunately do not have this one. Autumn is my favourite season of all and it always seems too short.
    Thank you for reminding everyone about the important things in life through your blog. Love, home, and friends.

  8. Kristie says:

    I’m from Friedens, PA but I do spend a lot of time in Massachusetts. I was on your Island this summer. Can’t wait to go back! I have the Autumn book…it’s lovely! A signed copy!?! To be honest, I’d keep it and give the one I already have away. 😉

  9. Leslie Gammelgaard says:

    It’s Autumn in the Pacific NW…big crunchy leaves, jelly bean colored trees, and the sun marching South. The Stellar’s Jays are squawking for more than their peanut allowance and the squirrels, jumping from tree to tree, are chittering up a storm. They all know something. I just know we are having more warmth and sunshine than usual and I’m camping on that until I have to pull up stakes and come inside. Hurrying to buy big white Cinderella pumpkins and fat orange ones, the last of the Summer’s peaches and juicy tomatoes, an armload of Butternut squash, and a variety of crunchy apples at Jeremy’s Fruit Stand. No time to dawdle. Autumn is much too short in the Pacific NW.

    • sbranch says:

      Oooo, you are way ahead of us! I found wild asters growing along the dirt road where we walk in the morning . . . they are my favorite, and on the shelf over my kitchen sink now. But we have a way to go before our trees turn to jelly beans! I feel like I stand behind the curtain of autumn and hold it back, I want it to go S L O W !

  10. Lori from Florida says:

    When I was 20 years old I meet my hubby. He was stationed here at the Navy base. I was working at an interior design firm. The head designer had a surprise bridal shower for me. She gave me your Heart of the Home book. It was my first cookbook and my favorite! We have now been married over 20 years. That book has moved with us all over the world with us. I have had cancer went through chemo. Our baby boy recently died. As long as I am cooking in my kitchen I know everything is going to be alright!

    • sbranch says:

      Life. Terrifyingly beautiful. I am so sorry Lori, about your son. There is a saying that if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. That and cooking, and wonderful memories. xoxo

  11. KAREN says:

    Dear Heart Susan!,

    Your BLOG today reminded me of the fog horn I used to hear when I was a little girl living way up at the very top of of lower Michigan in Cheboygan, only it was during the winter time when the ice cutters were out there trying to keep the waterways open for shipping traffic on the Great Lakes. The fog horn used to blow every time I would count to 18; it was a game to me until I fell asleep. It doesn’t seem to get that cold any longer. Am in Charleston SC now.

    On another note, I’m SO-O-O-O happy you stayed with blue in your kitchen; it’s beautiful!! It’s exactly what I would choose if I was there, but then I’m a “blue and white person” at heart.

    Thank you for sharing your England trip with all your fans. You further inspired me and my husband to take a trip to England next May and are even looking into fares on the Queen Mary II. My aunt traveled on the first Queen Mary as she traveled back and forth to Africa in the 40s and 50s when she served as a missionary in Africa. Well, we don’t know if we can swing that part, but I’m keeping track of their specials in hopes that we can. Getting over there will be the fulfillment of a life-long dream where my roots have been traced back to the 1600s. It’s all quite exciting and you’ve kept my level of excitement up with both your trips. Next year will be our 48th anniversary; we simply can’t wait until our 50th!! Perhaps that will deserve a 2nd trip. Smile!!

    So far I’ve given most all your books to five of my friends and now they are devoted fans as well. I’ve spoiled them all very badly by giving your books to get them hooked, and hooked they are!! Hope you don’t mind. Thanks for making us all smile so often; your BLOGs make our day!!

    Also, thanks for mentioning the death of Andy Williams in today’s BLOG. It was a joy to see him in person in the 70s. He was one in a million; no one will be able to take his place in this world. He was such a sweet man and could he ever sing!!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much for hooking all your friends! 🙂 Be sure to tell them I said hello! You can pay very little on the QM2 — surprisingly little . . . and since you are mostly NOT in your room, it doesn’t matter as much as some might think . . .

  12. Debbie Baldwin says:

    I love to read your blog! Your words inspire me in so many ways, to be creative, to try new things, to enjoy even the tiniest of thoughts. For many years now my son has given me your calendar for Christmas, it makes both of us happy! When I read your words I get to enjoy the feeling of actually being where you are, seeing what you see. It is a simple pleasure, but one I am so thankful you have shared with me.

  13. Sheryl from Chico says:

    A Hello to all Susan’s loving fans. I am Sheryl from Chico, CA. It will be 100 degrees here today, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking of sipping tea with honey and making Chile…I love Susan’s recipe and always turn to it. I may be too late for the book give-a-way. We’ve been avoiding the heat by traveling to Lake Almanor and Lake Tahoe. We even took a side trip to our Apple Hill near Placerville, CA. You all would love this place. It has at least 100 farms to visit.

  14. Dear Susan, As I sit here taking in every little tidbit of your delicious blog entries {seriously cannot wait for that new book}, my daughter arrived with a beautiful and yummy fruit tart. What a wonderful evening. Thanks so much for sharing the joy of your heart. You make ours sing. :oD

  15. Cathy B says:

    Hi Susan,
    Can’t wait for your new book to come out…thanks so much for sharing a little bit of it with us!! I have been a fan of yours since I first picked up the “Summer Book”…all of your things (books, address books, notepads, postcards, journals, calendars….you name it ) are all over my home and make me so happy!
    I was just online looking to purchase the Autumn book for our library (because I buy the books and thought we NEEDED to have all of them to share with the public) and I saw that it was out of print and really not available anywhere(I don’t think my boss would approve an $84 book!). I will not part with my personal signed copy from 2004, when you visited Bookends in Ridgewood, NJ and I soooo loved meeting you and hearing you speak…so I was wondering, if the contest for the Autumn book giveaway has not ended, may I PLEASE be entered for a chance to win it for our library?? I just purchased copies of all of the others on Amazon, but the Autumn book is necessary for my life to be complete!!
    The leaves here in NJ are just starting to turn….time to get cozy!!!
    Love you Susan!!

  16. Marianne says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am from Pennsylvania near Bethlehem the Christmas City! Also near the Delaware River.
    Your book looks awesome as I knew it would. I am a graphic designer and illustrator and have always admired your style. When you say that surrounding yourself with books of others as inspiration you can be sure that yours have inspired me. Happy Autumn and enjoy your trip. My husband and I are heading to south western PA to enjoy the leaves and to visit Fallingwater.

  17. Diana Everett says:

    From Diana in Kirtland, Ohio
    I read today’s blog and said to myself, “There. Proof positive that Susan and I are twins who were separated at birth under the most exotic and interesting circumstances!” Then I came back to reality and reminded myself that you are so much younger than I. So I really have no explanation for how alike we are in the things we like and value and appreciate about life. My daughter Alice puts it simply: “You two are soulmates!” So, soulmate, thanks for another great blog entry, for the sneak peak at your fabulous book ( put me on the “want list” for pre-orders, please!), and for the inspiration once again to get back to my art and to STAY GROUNDED!

  18. Diana Everett says:

    p.s. I just read that Cathy B. needs “Autumn” for her library. I loved reading her post. I love libraries. And I hope she wins! In fact, if my name is drawn as the winning entry, please send the book to Cathy’s library! I love the thought of so many girlfriends being able to check it out and feel the love! 🙂

  19. Sara McKeefer says:

    It’s what my dad called the wee hours of the morning, when sleeplessness entices me to Twitter and such. And on the rectangular slice of white in my otherwise darkened room, I find reference to this year-old blog and read of when you were doing what you do best, sharing your life with just us girlfriends. I look at the pictures of rainbows, kitties, and watercolors and marvel at the talent you have, knowing it surely must be from God, who no doubt gets more joy than anyone at peeking over your shoulder when pallets beckon. Good night, dear Susan, and thank you. 

    • sbranch says:

      I read once that inspiration comes from the Latin “Espirtus” which means “breath of God.” I loved it, even if it isn’t strictly true, I totally believe it anyway because especially when I first started painting, I would paint something I thought was sort of good and think, “where did that come from?” Then I truly understood the concept of being given a gift. And inspiration turns to gratitude.

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