✮✮✮ English Life with WILLIAM MORRIS ✮✮✮

Hi Girls!  How is everyone today?  Thought that I would open up the suitcases and let you all out to run wild on another day in our English Life . . . and take you to meet …

I don’t know about you, but before we went to England, what I knew about William Morris wouldn’t fill a thimble.  I could sum it up with one word:  Wallpaper.  If I really reached, maybe I would say “fabric.”  I’d heard his name forever, but I really knew nothing about him.

Of course, he wrote one of my favorite quotes which I included in my second book; I’d always been curious about who he really was.  His quote perfectly summed up my own philosophy of decorating too.  (I would add a couple more words after the word “beautiful;”  they would be “. . . or better yet, both” since I discovered it’s as easy to buy a cute can-opener as an ugly one.)  So, I knew William Morris was involved in the Home Arts.

When we were in Bibury, one of our English friends said, “Oh you have to go to William Morris’s house!  It’s open to the public!”  OK!  Why not!  That’s why we’re here, to be spontaneous and to learn something!  So, once again, over the bridge we went, looking for his house called Kelmscott Manor.  We knew it wasn’t a long drive as the crow flies, but it was apparently so far out in the middle of nowhere, it was the only place we looked for in England that didn’t show up on our GPS!

Past the pretty stone cottages and wonderful gardens we went,

Past the little lambs, into the countryside, not really knowing what we will find when we get there; will the house be big or small; will it feel lived in; will it have a tea room; will there be a garden; will it have a gift shop; will the original furniture be inside; can we take pictures?  And P.S. Who was William Morris anyway???  Out to “the middle of nowhere” we went.


“What I love,” (the unfinished thought in this video) is that this is a two-lane road with a periodic large tree in it; traffic is allowed in both directions, trucks too, bicyclists, and walkers, anything is allowed out here, you can even park by the side of the road!  It curves and you can’t see what’s coming, isn’t that just wild?  Don’t you just love it???  We need Music!

This “Old House by the Thames” is Kelmscott Manor; William Morris used this drawing by C.M. Gere for the frontispiece of his book, aptly and wonderfully named “News from Nowhere.”   The gift shop (they have a good one!) had dishtowels made with this art!  (You may have noticed mine, now hanging from my stove . . .)

And here’s the real thing, Kelmscott Manor as it was the day we were there.  This fabled old house has often been the subject of artists, but in real life, it’s not just a flat picture with no life, nooooo; we arrived on a cool, bright, sunny day; it was very quiet (due to it being in the middle of nowhere), the only noise was from nature, bees and insects buzzing, birds singing; there was a slight breeze moving the flowers in the garden, the scents of lavender and roses…

When William Morris first saw this “farmhouse” he fell passionately in love.  He’d once seen it in a dream, so it was literally his dream-house and a place of deep inspiration for him.  He bought the house from a family that had owned it for 300 years; so it came to him already filled with love.

We got there a little early so there was plenty of time to walk through the garden.

There’s Joe on the path in the wild garden . . . we went into the house, but, I’m sorry to report, they did not allow us to take photos.  But we sure learned a lot . . .  here’s the meat of it, in a nutshell; I will try to be short and sweet. I don’t want you to be bored, but I hope if it interests me, it might interest you too, and I promise I’ll be quick as I can.

William Morris (brilliant poet, designer, artist, and needleworker)  was the father of the Arts and Crafts Movement that started in England in 1860 and continued through the 1930’s.  (All these colored letters are links; if you’d like to know more, you can go back later and click on them.)

Before going to Kelmscott Manor, I was completely uneducated about the Arts and Crafts Movement.  I connected it almost exclusively to Frank Lloyd Wright, whose much-lauded design style, although interesting, was never my cup of tea the way it is for other people; I like it, but I couldn’t live in it . . . too modern, too dark for me; so because I thought his style was the Movement, I lost interest in the Arts and Crafts Movement!  See where a little ignorance can take you!?  I thought Art’s and Crafts was only a look, a style, which I understood also encompassed Art Nouveau, but it never inspired me to run out and redecorate my house. However, on this trip, I learned that Arts and Crafts was much more than a style or a look, something I began to understand while visiting Charleston, and even more, when I got to Kelmscott Manor.

This very specific style of nature-inspired design, which I’m sure you recognize here in these examples of William Morris embroidery, wallpaper and rugs, was called Arts and Crafts, but there was a philosophy behind the Movement, which enlarged my understanding, and was more interesting to me than the style itself.

Inspired by the changes stemming from the Industrial Revolution, William Morris wanted to preserve and reawaken interest in traditional craftsmanship he perceived was being lost. The Industrial Revolution had begun somewhere around 1750; by 1860; people were leaving the farms in droves, weavers were walking away from their home businesses and weaving looms, no longer selling their homemade cloth at fairs; blacksmiths were closing their shops and going to the factories; the need for design and production of mechanical parts for early machines was drawing craftsmen from other trades; newer, easier, faster, ways of making things were being developed.  William Morris felt that the pendulum had swung too far away, particularly in his world of textiles, from quality and craftsmanship. He felt something important was being lost in all this mass production, that craftsmen and women themselves were being undervalued, and tried to shine a light on it with the Arts and Crafts Movement he inspired.

He, along with his like-minded artist friends, founded a factory dedicated to the design and manufacture of everything homemade (rugs, wallhangings, fabric, embroideries, etc); which, by then (1861), instead of being an everyday thing that people did as a matter of course (and survival), had become “art.” With his help, suddenly, the handmade look had a value it never had before.  He had his own style, made wallpaper and so forth, and that style got the name Arts and Crafts, but really, the way I see it, ANYTHING handmade is arts and crafts.  What the Movement was about was people and their handmade things, things with heart. Nothing has ever quelled the urge in people to create unique, one of a kind, homemade things — even the Days of the Week dishtowels my great grandma embroidered, in my mind, were arts and crafts!  It’s still the way we personalize our homes — making them our own by decorating with things we’ve made ourselves or our kids have made; and we add to them by finding unique one-of-a-kind items in antique stores or flea markets.  We can our homegrown vegetables, make our own jam; yes we could buy these things, but that’s no fun . . . we weave, sew, quilt, build furniture, create gardens, arrange displays of things in our homes, make gifts, handwrite letters, make aprons and potholders, knit sweaters, design scrapbooks; the list goes on forever, because these are the things that make us happiest in our hearts.  And that’s why we are all artists in our own way.  I think William Morris would like this . . .

William Morris was much more than a designer, he was a person who loved people; if you’re interested, I’ve put lots of links in this post that give you more information.  He also founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877 and we are so glad he did.  Homemade England is an amazing place.

This is a portrait of William Morris.

This is a drawing he did for his first wallpaper called “Trellis.”  Kelmscott Manor was filled with personal belongings, embroideries and tapestries done by him and his family, his daughter May in particular, his design studio, the story of his life.

I loved everything about this place, the garden, the house, and especially the history!   And there was a tea room, and a tea lawn, which is where I am in this photo, having tea in my brand new William Morris scarf I had just purchased in the gift shop!  See?  It’s my colors!  (If I hadn’t had my colors done, I probably never would have picked this scarf; there were so many pretty ones to choose from!)

I also bought this umbrella in the gift shop, in my colors too 🙂 ; it folds down to the tiniest umbrella I’ve ever seen, weighing absolutely nothing, it was perfect for travel.

But no umbrellas were needed this day!  When we realized, over our tea, that when we read the words “House on the Thames,” it was because the house was on the River Thames!  Duh!  So, we walked around to the back of it to look for the river . . .

 And followed the signs out to . . .

. . . this amazing river walk we accidentally found. . .

… through wildflowers and tall grass, next to wild swans belonging to Her Majesty, the Queen. (I want that little house over there . . .)

Narrow river boats were parked near the banks; if you knew these people you could get in one and go all the way to London!  Wouldn’t that be fun?

Some of them were all dressed up for the Jubilee …. just like every square inch of the rest of the country!

Beautiful day, we took a long walk, and then back into town we went . . .

 Along the country pathways . . .

. . .to St. George’s Church that William Morris help to restore, with “minimal intervention” (his preservation passion); it’s where he and his family are buried.

The ancient country church . . . with Norman arcades, and 13th century wall paintings…

And this organ that made me wish so much it was Sunday

Can you imagine what people in here must have looked like in 1390?  Probably just like us, but everything on them was handmade.

This window has looked out upon the changing seasons for over 600 years.

Many of the gravestone carvings had been blown away by the wind . . . this was the oldest I could find.

We paid our respects at the grave of William Morris and his wife Jane.  But the one I loved was this . . .

. . . little sweet stone for their daughter Jane Alice (Jenny) Morris that was buried in the lawn near her parents under a weeping yew tree.  With moss growing in the initials.

Then it was time to go, we walked back toward the house, where we parked the car, through the little village . . .

With one last peek at the Kelmscott Manor . . .

 A well-remembered house, very loved in the past, and you can feel that it still is.  On our way “home” we stopped in the little town of Lechlade to go antiquing . . .

What we really wished we could tuck into our bags was this little building!  Look at the beautiful stone-shingled roof!  So cute!

OK girls, this was our history lesson for today.  I do hope you liked it and it wasn’t too dry!  And now, the thing I have a love-hate relationship with, announcing the winner of the giveaway!  I love it, because it’s fun to give something away; I hate it because I wish there was one for everyone!!  YOUR COMMENTS!!!  Please, don’t you just love you??  I do!!!  I loved hearing where everyone was from too, helps to make us more real to each other, don’t you think?  When I can picture you in a desert, on the California Central Coast, or on top of a mountain; in Texas, Washington, Florida, or Iowa, or, in my imagination, heading into springtime in Australia and Brazil, or you girlfriends in England and Germany; or my neighbors here in New England . . . it just makes it all more fun. Connectomundo.  New word. 🙂

OK, with no further adeiu, Vanna?  Step up here please, dear . . . . (oh you should see her girls, dressed like a prom queen today, sheer, pale-pink, dotted-Swiss) … Her hand is down, her arm buried in paper slips up to her shoulder — now, withdrawing — she has one!  Pulling it out now, aaaannnd …. yes?  Oui!  The name is

OH, it’s a NEW ZEALANDER!!  How fun, this is our first person from another country!  Her name is LEANNE!!  And she doesn’t have Autumn yet!  Are you out there Leanne?  If so, look in your email box, you have a message from me!!!


Thank you all for entering, and for being so great!  We’ll just have to keep doing this until everyone wins something!  Might take a while, but it’s only a matter of time, and we’ve got lots of that. Happy Day Girlfriends! xoxo Susan

Oops, I forgot, P.S.  Kitchen’s still not done, can’t really put things back yet, but more than half of it is painted, and there’s a little bit of the new color!  Thought you’d like to see it . . . I’ll do a “before and after” as soon as there actually is an “after!” Jack is going to miss that ladder!  He’s up there all the time now!  Happy Weekend Girls!  And Boys!

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525 Responses to ✮✮✮ English Life with WILLIAM MORRIS ✮✮✮

  1. Susie says:

    Your kitchen color is the perfect calm color to cook and eat in….

  2. Joan Lesmeister says:

    This blog was a lovely surprise, many sighs! 1st though, congratulations to Leanne in New Zealand! Great pictures & writings dear sweet Sue & what a treat to learn more about William Morris, such an amazing man! I’ve always loved that the word “heart” has “art” in it. And I believe that the art from all you wonderful artists comes directly from your heart (ummm, at least the art that I love does)! Isn’t it great that the words “Arts & Crafts” remain in our language & haven’t been changed by well-meaning modernists!!! ♥ & xoxo

  3. barbara miller says:

    A history lesson is always easy to take when it is about beauty! And I hank you, Again, for taking me to England. So many treasured places and each a lovely trip.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Loved todays post Susan, so informative and lovely pictures to admire… such a beautiful place. You look adorable in your fancy new scarf…so chic! You must have felt like you were in a place out of a storybook especially with the lovely walk along the Thames, taking tea out on the lawn, and meandering out in the garden. Thanks for taking us along… ~ East Longmeadow, Ma.

  5. Pam Bengier says:

    Thank you, Susan, that was such a nice trip. I enjoyed every minute. To William Morris’ famous quote I would add “or brings great joy.”
    As always, thank you for sharing,

  6. Aloyce Levin says:

    Dear Susan,
    This is my first comment on your blog (I did comment recently on the FB link). I’m a newly retired teacher in Los Angeles. Thank you for sharing your visit to William Morris’s home. I have really enjoyed all of your posts from your trip to England. I was there for a memorable time in 1992.
    I must tell you how much I loved your shop in Arroyo Grande-I was heart-broken when it was closed. We love visiting the Central Coast and usually make a yearly trip to Cambria.
    Thank you the artful way you share Marth’s Vinyard, your travels and even your remodeling!
    Aloyce Levin

  7. Debbie Gage says:

    Here we are again, touring the English countryside. How I LOVE these days! So amazingly beautiful and romantic! What I find truly amazing is that when you compare the drawing from the frontispiece and see the picture of the Manor today, they are almost exactly the same – after nearly 200 years! They have kept the same types of flowers and plantings and trees. So perfect! Thank you for such a wonderful tour! You put me at the edge of my seat with the drive down that narrow road, though. Yikes! Whatever do you do if someone is coming the other way? I guess Joe would have scars if that were to have happened! 😀
    Congratulations, Leanne! Enjoy your Autumn, and we’ll all wait for the English Diary as patiently as we can together!
    Best to you all –
    ♥Deb♥ of WA
    I have to add that I just realized that I have unconsciously been trying not to disturb my kitty, Mabel, who is crouching so very cozily at the base of my keyboard blocking the keys. I am searching and pecking over the top of her in order to write this post and I must have disturbed her because her tail started hitting my leg in that “you’re bugging me” tone her tail gets! Thought some of you could relate!

  8. Nettie says:

    The William Morris blog is so awesome, I love the wall paper and I am totally a fabric horder. The history lesson is so much better than anything my teachers way back when tried to make me understand, I needed you for my teacher. And a side bar: how fun for me to find out one of my dearest sister friends writes in your comments too. And to Sandy, I wish you good health. Keep your great outlook and keep enjoying Susan’s blog, that is good good medicine.

    Susan you are simply the best….want to come to Weedsport, N.Y. For tea? Debbie and I will bake for you…….

    • sbranch says:

      🙂 Nettie!

    • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

      I should have known we’d meet here, Nettie! Susan, this is the friend I told you about who made me feel so much better about my 1940s kitchen cupboards by telling me that my kitchen was much like Susan Branch’s! …and yes, we will bake for you anytime! We’re especially known for our pies and cookies 🙂

    • Sandy Richmond says:

      Thank you Nettie. You are right. This blog is good medicine. I am a fabric hoarder too! I work full time (when not recuperating) and don’t seem to find alot of time to sew. I need to schedule time to sew as Susan suggested!

  9. Connie K says:

    How fun to share your day at Kelmscott! I was drooling over the pictures of your walk along the Thames. It was 108 in So Cal today, and that walk was like balm to my eyes. I got a William Morris coloring book this summer, on vacation. I can’t draw, but I sure have fun with my Saturday morning pot of tea and my colored pencils! Thanks again for sharing!

  10. Marion Rose says:

    Good evening Susan, Again it is late in the evening when I checked your blog. What a nice suprise to be let out of the suit case with my girlfriends in England. You did a wonderful job telling us about William Morris . It was a pleasure to visit Kelmscott Manor. His fabrics are beautiful, loved seeing one on your umbrella. This blog only makes the wait for your book more exciting.
    It is nice to know the winner of your Autumn Book, CONGRATULATIONS Leanne. Happy reading! Marion

  11. Theresa says:

    I spent the better part of my day with the radio on, seems the world has gone crazy. So very upsetting. Later I checked out your blog… I savored the entire read! And the pictures were So refreshing! Thankyou for a peaceful place to relax, learn and enjoy the sweet comments Of beautiful people! Blessings to you, from the beautiful pastures of Texas!

  12. Your posts are NEVER to long or dry or boring.. NEVER. 🙂 Loved every bit of it. Actually I never knew about William Morris except as a paint & wallpaper maker. It was fun to read about him and see the paintings done of his home. Loved the Gardens. Loved it all in fact. Congrats to Leanne for winning the book. I had actually ordered it used off Amazon and its on it way to me. Hope it IS in good shape as they say.. but better then no book I say. Spent the day antiquing and found some cute finds to make the home better and some gifts too. Love your paint color. it will be done before you know it. The days are going to go by anyway so each day its closer to being all back together and wonderful for Winter. Now excuse me I want to go back and reread this again and look up all the links. xoxo

    • I got my Autumn book today from Amazon.. used but in EXCELLENT condition. I LOVE it!! Missed it for some reason when it first came out. So glad I was able to get one. Also got your Calendar in our town yesterday. Also love it. I have had one of your calendars hanging on my wall for years. I have kept them all too. Now for your new book to get done and come out. :))

    • Elaine in Toronto says:

      Hi Cris, I recently ordered five of Susan’s books, used, from Chapters. They all arrived safely and in very good condition. Only one had an inscription and I always think that just adds to the interest and history of the book. Autumn is my very favourite and after taking it out of my library every year for 8 years I thought it was about time to have my own copy. Hope your copy arrives soon and is in good condition.

  13. It’s been so nice to go back to England for a day. Everything was news to me about William Morris, except that quote, and then I’d never noticed who said it, so it’s been wonderful learning about him. I absolutely LOVE his wallpaper and your umbrella. I don’t know if those are my colors, but I love them and have them in my life in as many ways I can which is why I chose a lavender bow…. 🙂

  14. Lori H from WA State says:

    Wowza! The pictures from England are GORGEOUS. It’s hard to believe it’s not a made-up set from a movie! And you are darling 🙂 .

  15. veronica says:

    From: Sumerduck Va. Sweet sweet Susan ; as always you give such joy. Thank you for spreading some our way. Beautiful beautiful place! And to you ‘Miss Leanne’ congratulations are in order. Have yourself a very blessed day!

  16. Donna Ray says:

    Hello Susan,
    I didn’t think I knew anything about William Morris, but when you showed pictures of his wallpaper I recognized the designs from a “tablet” of gift wrap paper that my daughter had given me. I have two pieces left and now I appreciate them so much more thanks to your Art History 101 class. I don’t think I’ll forget him now because I really like him and what he did to help the world value “homemade from the heart.”
    I grew up with quilts and yearned for a blanket from JCPenney with satin binding. Mother and Grandma made my clothes and I yearned for a Bobby Brooks sweater set. Our meals were organically grown, preserved and prepared by Mother with great love and care……she always set a pretty table….and I yearned to eat in a restaurant. Daddy was a farmer which means he could make just about anything but I yearned for things that were store bought. I could have used a lesson in Arts and Crafts philosophy back then! I had to leave home and venture into the world a bit before I “got it” that my parents were true artists and that we were wonderfully rich in what really mattered in life.
    I couldn’t help but think of how Beatrix Potter worked to save the countryside while William Morris, before her, worked to save the buildings of England. They both certainly walked the talk!
    Loved this post, Susan. Your words and photos delight me. And, you’re mighty cute, too, in your lovely new scarf. Can imagine you twirling your umbrella overhead while being “punted” down the Thames by Joe.
    As always, DonnaRay

    • sbranch says:

      What a lovely idea! 🙂

    • Sandy Richmond says:

      Donna Ray, It’s so interesting how the grass is always greener on the other side. I always had store bought clothes, and my friend Linda had homemade clothes, when we were in grade school. I wanted homemade clothes so bad! Linda’s mother did make me a dress. I can still remember it today. Light blue and white gingham check with rickrack trim! Linda had a matching one in yellow gingham. I felt so special to have a homemade dress!

  17. Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

    Your photography is just beautiful! You have such a good eye. Please, please, please, include lots of your photos in your English Diary. But don’t skimp on the artwork either. Just add more pages, if necessary 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      This book is getting loooooong! 🙂

      • Linda from Lancaster, Co PA says:

        yep, you got it…that’s the way we want it!! Lots of Susan Branch for a lovely and loooong read about England. That way, we’ll never forget our trip with you (and Joe!).

        • Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

          I agree – the longer, the better !

          • Dorothy Ann says:

            * Hi Susan…Ohio gal in Southern California *

            Hi from me…one of your PGF “Posting Girlfriends Forever”…

            I agree..I do! A long “English Diary” is what we all “long” for.

            So, Susan Branch, if you are reading this post, your “Girlfriends” have spoken…

            Hugs From:
            * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, WA *

        • Rhonda D. says:

          Linda just took the words out of my brain…I would have written the same comment. Your books could never be too long. We don’t just grab a cup of tea and one of your books or blogs to read, it’s actually a whole beautiful experience for us. We love it!

          • Dorothy Ann says:

            * Helloooooooo
            Linda from Lancaster & Rhonda D. *

            Just me…one of Susan’s PGF…popping in here…
            (“Posting Girlfriends Forever”).

            You are so right, Linda and Rhonda…Susan’s delightful books could never be too long. Never!

            It’s not just for “teatime”, reading one of Susan’s books or her Posts, it’s the “whole beautiful experience for us”…filled with memories of England and the trip “we’ll never forget with Susan and Joe”.

            You two said it best..I just copied your quotes!

            It is exactly 11:28 PM on Monday, as I write this reply to you.

            Enjoy a wonderful day tomorrow, Linda & Rhonda…hugs from,
            * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, WA *

  18. Judy Tracy says:

    Just lovely! You took us into your lovely world! Thank you so much.
    Judy from Newport Beach, CA

  19. Jan J. says:

    Oh how I love your blog – especially these England virtual tours! I have always loved William Morris patterns. So fun to learn and see so much more about him. That riverwalk by the Thames is so inviting I literally ached to be there. I watch a LOT of British TV and have seen those crazy tiny two-way lanes that don’t look wide enough for one! I wonder how many accidents those cause. I also read about the long boats and a family who lived in one in a book by Deborah Crombie – an American author who writes the most scrumptious British mysteries. Now I have actually seen one! I so am looking forward to your England book! (cue Carly Simon song “Anticipation!”)

  20. Mary Ann says:

    Thanks for the lovely lessons today Susan and your sweet response on my comment on the “pink” post a few days ago. First steps and all that, but so far so good, breath in, breath out…

    • Sandy Richmond says:

      Mary Ann, yes, breath in, breath out. Stay focused on the positive.. Sending prayers and positive thoughts your way…

  21. Philippa says:

    Well done Leanne.

    I love connectomundo,and do it every day. It is wonderful to be ” instantly” in touch with friends all over the world .
    Love the old house,church and views of the Thames I hadnt seen before.

  22. sondra fox says:

    Susan Dearie, At last a blog from you. I’ve been trying to hear from you all week. I “do” know how busy you are, BUT, I “do” miss those day, or two, blogs. You’re such a part of my life! It’s like my old pen pal when I was a youngster, I’d write back to her as soon as I could because I was interested in her life & what she was going to say about mine. The river walk was simply beautiful. How I’d love to live around such a place. I swear I’d walk, walk, walk, each day along the lovely river. I fear my old legs are running out of energy. My husband, myself, and our Wired Haired Terrior, Jack, walked three miles per day, up until last July, when my husband’s cancer began to really give him trouble. We miss our daily walks. And so, I live vicariously through your walks along the Thames, in your English blogs. Thanks Susan.

  23. Pat Johnson of Paso Robles says:

    Oh my, what a special treat – to return to England with all her beauty, history and ability to make me sigh! I really needed this trip today. And the ability to learn something new is always a treat. I really, really liked seeing the little bit of the kitchen – love the color!! Today was a very hot day on the Central Coast and I am off to bed, carrying with me visions of the country side in beautiful England. Thank again. You are such a special lady that carries with you grace, humor, appreciation, the ability to make people smile with your words and pictures. Can’t wait for the book on the trip. XXXXOOOO Pat from Paso

  24. Cindy Tuning says:

    If you are ever in Western NY I think you would enjoy visiting the lovely Village of East Aurora. It’s the home of the Roycroft Campus which was started by Elbert Hubbard, the father of the Arts and Crafts Movement in America. On a trip to England in the late 1800’s, he visited at the William Morris home and was so impressed with the Movement he brought it back to the U.S.and started the Roycroft Community. Frank Lloyd Wright was introduced to the East because of this man who also owned the Larkin Soap Company. The Roycrofters are still creating their handcrafted wares on the campus which is open for tours. For the most part it’s not really my style of decorating( too spare), but I appreciate the history and it’s a lovely village. I do however love the wallpaper.

  25. Betsy says:

    What a wonderful post! Such a wealth of information in a short time and beautiful pictures. You hit the nail on the head about crafting of any kind. My husband and I attend the Pennsylvania Craft Guild show every year and try to do our holiday shopping there. It supports local crafter’s and we find unique things in every price point. Most of my girlfriends do beautiful sewing, cross stitch, and paper crafts. I am fortunate to be the recipient of these treasures. May I say that your 2012 calendar looks very pretty against the new paint on the kitchen wall. Your groupies in Pennsylvania are waiting patiently for your new books….well, I guess I should be honest….we ask each other all the time if anyone has heard when they are coming out!!! I guess patiently may not be the best description of what’s going on amongst us. Have a great weekend.

  26. Sally Baker says:

    Thanks for all the Wm Morris info. I have always loved his designs and being a quilter I am thrilled to find some of his designs on fabric. I have started collecting them to make a Wm Morris style quilt. Might you do a fabric line in his style? Always enjoy all the info you include in your wonderful blog. Happy Fall Sally BAker

  27. Sharon Byars says:

    Love, Love this post. I am a history “nut” and knew little of Wm. Morris. So interesting and you did a beautiful job of showing his designs and his home. Thank you so much! I have owned the Autumn Book for years and just made the Apple Cranberry Crisp. What a great way to welcome the season here in Morro Bay. Hope to visit England with your new book in hand.

  28. Dorenda says:

    Congratulations to Leanne!
    My first exposure to you, Susan, was looking at my friend’s Autumn book when I was visiting her. I immediately fell in love with it and with you! The quotes, the handwriting, the watercolors, and the amazing Cream Scones and Orange Butter! (p. 109) It’s the only recipe I’ll ever use for making scones, and everyone raves about them. I also do a variation using cinnamon chips, and this is always a big hit. And I love the page on Afternoon Tea (p. 108), as well as all the teacups and saucers and teapots throughout the book. And one year, I even made the hand-stitched heart ornaments (p. 19) for some young neices and nephews for Christmas. There is so much inspiration in that book, I had to track one down for myself, which I did, and also found copies of several of your other books. They make me so happy, just paging through them, reading and absorbing all the beauty. Thanks, Susan!

  29. Buzz'n Bea says:

    Greetings from Grand Rapids, Mi. home of several Frank Loyd Wright homes. One has been restored by Steelcase (think office furniture) and is open to the public. The did a wonderful job of restoration. It was designed for a very short in stature family so all the furniture was made to fit them. Having lived in a house built in the 1920’s I have been drawn to some of the A&C designs. I love the mixture of flowers and geometric designs, and stained glass windows. Over the years I have morphed towards more traditional as we have moved around.

    I am going to go back on you links to learn more about the movement. I enjoyed your journey.

    • Rhonda D. says:

      My daughter is an Interior Designer and was flown by Steelcase to Michigan where they toured the Frank Lloyd Wright homes. I learned a lot from her because of that trip, but I don’t care for his style. I really enjoyed learning more about William Morris through your post this morning, Susan. I only knew of him from the quote you used. This was so educational, so inspiring, so much heart. I now feel more like being an artist in my own way. With each of your posts I’m more educated, more creative, happier, and my heart just grows larger. A great big thank you for changing my world. Love your scarf and your brellie…definitely your colors. Btw, I think I (with your help) may have just solved your father’s “Bondo” puzzle through your new word “connectomundo.” Like father, like daughter…I know what your word means, so his word probably means we are all bonding on this blog. Hmmm…possible? Loved this post.

  30. Fran says:

    Love, love, love this post! William Morris is a favorite of mine and I so enjoyed seeing his home and the little history lesson! Thanks! I’m looking forward to more posts from your adventures in England.

  31. Marilyn from northeastern Ohio says:

    I have never had much desire to travel to England (too much water to get through or fly over!!), but I have to say that your vacation has really sparked my interest. The English countryside & gardens look like heavenly places to see. Unfortunately, barring a miracle, it won’t be in the cards for me, so I will enjoy it vicariously through your travels! Thank you!
    By the way, could you please travel to Ireland, Scotland & Wales for me also? I need to see those! 😉
    Also, just a side note, I had the Autumn book on a wish list at Amazon.com, but being the procastinator that I am, I never ordered it – so now it has doubled in price since going out of print!!! Aarrrgh! When will I learn!

  32. cynthia mooney says:

    Too dry? Hardly. I was thrilled to read your post on William Morris, as I did my undergraduate thesis on William Morris and the Victorians, waaaay back in the 70s. Whew. That lovely post on Kelmscott Manor and Morris’s life brought me back to those days and really made me want to visit his charming home. I did get to visit one of his other homes many years ago, and that was very exciting, too.
    Thanks once again for bringing more of the charm and beauty of England to us vicarious travelers.

  33. Karen V (Connecticut) says:

    Hi Susan,

    Fantastic post today, I didn’t know anything about William Morris, and this was a wonderful “illustrated” lesson on his life. I learn so much more when I can see it as well as read about it, your photos were lovely. The little mossy headstone for Jenny put a lump in my throat! I am fascinated by those narrow roads and love your driving videos and commentary! “Weak Bridge”, indeed…well at least they give you a heads up as to what’s coming! Frightening and yet sort of charming, in a way…
    Love the music today, I am wondering how you choose all the great music that you add to your posts..love the Vera Lynn, Bing Crosby, the French music, all so different! Do you go on You Tube, iTunes, Pandora? Will you share your secret?

  34. Terry says:

    Hi, Susan!
    I loved that post! Thank You!

  35. Nancy Jane says:

    Very Interesting. I knew about Wm Morris but not enough. I will have to put Kelmscott Manor on my list for my next visit to England. Also greatly anticipating your book on your travels in England. Can’t wait!

  36. Janine from LB, California says:

    Enjoyed learning more about him and the movement! Thank you! Loved that scarf and umbrella you picked up, too. Beautiful scenery, thanks!

  37. Barbara T, Wolverine Lake MI says:

    I’m throwing in my 2-cent’s worth. I love Arts/Crafts although I do agree tis totally different from you, Susan, not at all flowery or cottagey. However, having toured Fallingwater, I can appreciate the embracing of nature and that part I adore. Fallingwater is yes, a bit dark, but I think that is because one is meant to see the outside not the inside. I did love that part. And all of the furniture is all handcrafted and individually unique. You can see and just stare outside all day long watching whatever nature has to offer. And I can appreciate the simplicity and clean lines. Having said that, I also love tea cups and saucer and doilies and flowers…..I would like to think my decorating style is in-between, not so flowery and ruffly, but more of the clean lines but with cups/saucers on the walls everywhere, and lots of birds, leaves and ferns.
    also….I had never heard of William Morris! the things you discover – learn something new every day. I oooohed and aaahhhhed when I saw your scarf, and the pictures of the wallpapers and carpet….so colorful and different! Delightful 🙂

    I’m so very happy for Leanne and won’t she just be “over the moon” when her package arrives with her gift from you!! Thanks Susan for your generosity. Someday I would like to win, but looking like the odds are against me – you have so many followers. Still, it’s nice to dream . . . .

  38. Jenny says:

    Thanks for taking us along to the Manor. Just beautiful.

    Your new “blue” in the kitchen is PERFECT. I love it!

  39. Denni from MN says:

    Congratulations, Leanne!!! Enjoy every page of the Autumn Book, your angels were watching out for you with this win!!
    Many years ago I studied the arts of William Morris and seeing these photos
    of Kelmscott Manor and St. George’s Church bring so many emotions (really good ones) from my past. What beautiful architecture and landscaping along with designs of William Morris!!! Susan, thanks for all these fantastic views of
    the English countryside!!

  40. Judy Dow says:

    Bit of a melancholy day for me…chopped down the flowers in the garden. But since I also love fall I came in and made a batch of chocolate chip pumpkin bread. My house smells heavenly. And then I open up the iPad and there was a new post. I really didn’t know much about Mr. Morris either. Loved the details. He would definitely be a Branchie. (That’s what we are…like your own groupies ya know?) I’m anxiously awaiting the kitchen reveal and wondering if the wainscot is a new feature?? Hmmmm…the bread is calling me. Wish I could send the smell your way. And a taste too.

  41. Deborah says:

    Lovely post Susan! Also love the pictures of your kitchen. How is coming along? I can understand how you can’t wait to get back in there and get started cooking again.

    • sbranch says:

      Joe’s behind the fridge right now, that means we are really getting there. He has two big windows to do though, with all those little divided panes of glass, that ought to take a couple of days!

      • Deborah says:

        Slow but so worth the effort and wait. The colors are calm and soothing. Great in the heat of summer and warm enough for all that snow!

        • judi says:

          Honey, if he only has a couple of windows left….you must be refilling your cupboards:) woohoo and your stove looks ready and willing. Looks wonderful!

  42. Jack says:

    Ok, so it does look blue and I accept the escape provided in that bondo does have a particular relevance to the fraternal bond building that your web site provides! Your stove sparkles and is a main focus for anyone entering …. you need that 9 to 12 inches of top rail for the wainscoting …….

    • sbranch says:

      Do you remember that stove we had on Claire Avenue? There is a funny little homemade shelf that goes where that missing wainscoting is … fits right in there, made by a man who used to own this house (the guy, like you, who could make anything, made the arbors and the adirondack chairs too!).

      • Jack says:

        I don’t get it…..why would the guy who “used” to own the house do it ……? He didn’t have your stove .

        • sbranch says:

          Our stove fit right in the place that his was in … that shelf is moveable, I think we had to move it out about an inch, but it fit fine.

  43. Vicki in Cincy says:

    Hi Susan! I seem to recall having seen that calendar in your kitchen! (everyday in MY kitchen). Thank you for you for all the love. 🙂

  44. Marcia in Brazil says:

    I had never heard of William Morris, so I enjoyed this post immensely! Your blog is fun, inspiring and informative. I showed my husband the pictures of the manor, and I know that both of us are dreaming of a road trip to England now. Have a great weeekend!

  45. Judy A. says:

    I’ve never seen a blue kitchen but yours is looking great! Are your “colors” Autumn? I had my colors done 26 years ago–the cosmetics were a perfect match but the company went out of business and I can’t find “peach ivory” foundation anywhere!
    I’m a retired teacher and a former student, Leisa, introduced me to your books, etc. We’re no longer in touch and I miss our “Susan Branch discussions”–can’t wait until the diary is out! Parnassus Book Store, in Nashville, seems like the kind of place that would sell your books, etc. JA

    • sbranch says:

      I wrote down Parnassus, Judy! Click on that link to my colors . . . the woman who did ours, also had wonderful make up to go with your season — you might be able to get it from her, I think I linked to her, and yes, I’m an Autumn!

  46. Oh! How fun! Congratulations Leanne! Isn’t it fun to win a special something from our sweet Susan? I love love love my sweet 2 love birds that I won!
    Susan, loved the history stroll in William Morris time today. I have fallen in love with England through your eyes! Loved the stroll to the river Thames and seeing the boats and swans! Love your scarf and umbrella (in your colors)! So tempted to shop in the gift shop but I just know the shipping would be outrageous across the pond!
    Love and hugs,

  47. Susan, it sounds like you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the painting?? It always seems like such a long journey when you start home improvement projects doesn’t it?? You are a very lucky lady to have Joe and his “stick-to-it-ness” (won’t find that in your dictionary)…..I really think the blue you chose adds warmth and what better look to have in a kitchen!!! I can see Jack now towering over the kitchen one can hope a fly doesn’t decide to land on the ceiling light he may forget how high up he really is?? YIKES……

  48. Congratulations Leanne!!! This book will be much enjoyed by you I know. Susan, you’ve simply outdone yourself with all the information on Wm Morris. I never was interested in him enough to read up on him, but now he’s fascinating. (who knew?) I thank you for all the reference material you gave us. You chose the absolutely perfect (for you) pieces, the scarf and umbrella. Beautiful treasures from a memorable visit in England. I bet you’re sneaking things back into place in your kitchen as Joe finishes each corner- 😉 (If I were you, I couldn’t wait till he was totally finished.) Your shiny “new” kitchen will feel like heaven. I bet Jack and Girl are as anxious for the smells of your cooking and baking as you are. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Had to laugh, I snuck the butter dish out of the pantry and back onto the shelf where it belongs about 15 minutes ago. There are three plates, and a tray full of tea things. But I take my “life” in my hands by putting things back before he’s done. Between him and Jack, there’s a fairly big mess going on in there! Only one major wall to go, but it has two big windows in it with divided panes of glass, which means, tight little painting job which will take a little time. It’s looking so good, it’s easy to be patient!

  49. One little question on your watercolors– have you ever had any problems with some of those “less expensive” paints fading with time on your originals? I know some can be really fugitive.

    • sbranch says:

      Hmmmm, not that I know of. But all my originals are in dark acid free boxes so they never see the light of day. These sets didn’t have the fugitive “V” on them, but then again, they didn’t have anything on them!

  50. Gert~Iowa says:

    Susan…oh how I loved this ‘history’ lesson! And those photos…just like being there!! Lol However, I was kind of nervous as we were driving along on that one way road…especially as we went around the curves…smile! That house was so cool…I can see why it was used for many paintings etc….

    Congratulations to the winner of your “Autumn” book! I just know she will be one happy lady!

    Love, love, love the new color in your kitchen! It all looks so fresh and clean! Blue trimmed in white is one of my favorites! I can’t wait to see it when you are totally finished!


  51. Cassandra says:

    Absolutely love this post. I hope to take a trip to England again one day and use your travels as a guide :).

  52. Kathy in AZ says:

    WoW! This was W O N D E R F U L !!! (Again! All of your posts are!!) Congratulations to Leanne! I love seeing all of these international girlfriends on your blog! Are you putting pins on a world map to see all of the different locations? The arms of love from the Heart of the Home encircles this big beautiful globe!! Love, joy and appreciation to you!!

  53. Suzanne in Sydney, Australia says:

    Hi Susan, I was wondering if you were re-writing and illustrating your travel journal onto a different medium ready for publishing. Then I read that you were “writing over” your original handwriting. How did you know how much extra room to leave in your journal for those “extra” things that you will remember when you re-read entries, or the “extra” illustrations? Was your journal loose leafed then or a series of books? Sorry for being so inquisitive. When I re-read my journal entries Iremember other things that I didn’t have time to write and then I have to slip a loose sheet within that page or write in the margin (very messy), Sadly I don’t have the illustrator’s talent, I have to rely on photos taken or postcards, these I slip into a mini transparent envelope that adheres to the margin making the book very bulky indeed.
    Will we be able to pre-order your journal as I am sure it will sell out the minute it is available? If we miss the post, we miss the diary!
    It is a glorious blue skied, sunny spring day down here in Sydney 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      This would take a book to answer! Maybe I should do one on “scrapbooking!” I’m sort of taking pictures of the method as I go along, so it might be something to blog about one day. Yes, we will be taking pre-orders, just as soon as I get a bit further along. I’ll announce the pre-order here — we’ll make sure all our blog girlfriends get their copies first, after all, they came along, it’s their book too!

      • Dorothy Ann says:

        * Good Morning Susan * It’s 12:24 AM right now!
        I sat down @ my desk and logged onto my computer on Monday night at about 11:00 AM.

        Just as I was reading the posts and “clicking on” reply under yours, a new day quietly arrived on this starry-starry night here on Cougar Mountain.
        As I glanced out the window, I made a wish on the brightest star in the sky, that I saw, and said Hello Tuesday!

        Sue, I want to send you this quick note to tell you I think a “pre-order” for your new book is such a wonderful idea.

        Let’s see, I have a list started for ordering your “English Diary”…for my daughter…for my sister…for my niece, for my friends…and oh yes…for me!

        Have a HappyTuesday!
        * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washignton *

  54. I really enjoyed the art history lesson, and all about Wm Morris. He was amazing! And the gorgeous Kelmscott Manor – now how lovely is THAT! I loved the comparison of the photo you took and the drawing that was in his book – very nice!!! Glad you could take pics in the St. Georges church, and yes, the sound of that old antique organ would have been awesome. Few years ago, on our England/Scotland trip, we were in Durham, and got to hear the organ being played in the Cathedral. I happened to be really close by when the organist started unexpectedly, and it brought tears to my eyes – it was such a heavenly and majestic, awesome sound!!! We just don’t have that here in the states. And to think of how MANY people have worshiped in those tiny (and larger) churches! Well, have a nice weekend and thanks – you are the sweetest!! BTW… looking forward to seeing changing leaves in your yard & neighborhood. Shouldn’t be long now. BYE for now : )

  55. Bonnie Crawford says:

    Hi Sue!~~ I loved your post about William Morris. I remember you had your favorite quote by him, painted on the wall above the mirror in your store! I read that so many times, and love it too!! I enjoyed learning more about him, so thank you for that great lesson about his life. I also LOVE your new kitchen color….great choice! It is hot here on the Central Coast, so enjoy that nice cool Fall weather for us, okay?? Love you!!~~ xoxo Bon Bon

  56. Judy Young says:

    Greetings from Plano, Texas, where the triple digit heat has given us a break for the past two weeks! What a lovely post, and the last one too! I got to read both of them on the same night, had some catching up to do! I am in love with that blue that your painted your kitchen with, I have that color in my bedroom, only its a deeper shade. We are starting some remodeling projects, just had the deck powerwashed and presto! It looks almost new again, had no idea it would look this good. We are also having the house painted and the front door and sidelights sanded and painted the same color as the house. The paint is called Barley Field from Behr Plus Ultra, such a pretty color (Home Depot). It is such fun anticipating each day’s progress. I can’t wait to see your finished kitchen and the English diary. I know you are hurrying! That will be my Christmas gift to me (if it is out in time). If not, it will brighten up winter (which lasts about 3 weeks here in Texas)!

    I have been reading your Autumn book and loving it, see something new each time. I want to cook my way through it, I know my family would love the Cranberry Apple Crisp, plan to make that next weekend. Are you still going to show us inside Siobhan’s little cottage? It looked so adorable and we all LOVED Rachel’s house. How is Rachel doing by the way, you haven’t mentioned her lately?

    • sbranch says:

      Rachel’s great, her Goddaughter just had triplets! And yes, I’ll show you Siobhan’s world one day soon. It’s like that quote “Too many men, so little time” — only it’s too many ideas for blogs!!! Nice to hear from you Judy!

  57. Charlene H. from So. Calif. (S.F.Valley) says:

    Susan…so enjoyed this post. It was a deep and rich one…requiring several visits to appreciate all the Wm. Morris links and past postings. Thank you for taking us back to England! Like all the Girlfriends, I look forward to the English Diary (do you have an official title yet?). Enjoy your pretty scarf and umbrella…perfect souvenirs that will recall precious memories with each use. The kitchen is coming along! All will be fresh, clean, and new with that fabulous new color! Thank you for sharing these parts of your life…so charming!

    • sbranch says:

      I have called it the English Diary for so long, I almost feel like that should be it’s name, but probably I’ll get a better idea as I go along!

      • Actually, “The English Diary”, with the emphasis on “The” would be appropriate because it will be the quintessential diary on England!

      • Carrie says:

        Hmmm, I thought you might have been going with “A Fine Romance” (great Britcom w/Dame Judi Dench and her real-life husband, now deceased, Micheal Williams – a classic not to be missed) which could refer to both of your “Fine Romances”, Joe and England.

        • sbranch says:

          Mmmmm, I like that! 🙂

          • Carrie says:

            Sorry, going off topic a bit here…my BFF and I were perusing your previous blog entries while skyping and found the pics of you and Joe at Royal Ascot! I nearly tipped as I’ve always thought that would be great fun because of some of the outrageous hats that are donned. You two “rocked” the Ascot kit! Was it good fun?

          • sbranch says:

            It was so fun and interesting. They have picnics beforehand in the “car park” which is what they call the parking lot (you may be English, I notice you “tip” which isn’t something we say :-)) … the parking lot is a big grassy field. The picnics range between eating sandwiches out of the back of the car, to full, elegant, tent set-ups. The English friends we went with brought a table, chairs, and a crank up old record player, and they played La Vie en Rose while we ate! They brought a jar of roses from the garden for the table, and made a delicious lunch. The rest of Royal Ascot was wonderful too! That’s because English people are darling!

          • Dawn from Minnesota says:

            oh my! That sounds like such a romantic moment (La Vie en Rose on a crank up record player, roses from the garden, a delicious lunch) in a “car park!” Takes our American Tailgating to a whole new level doesn’t it? The thought is so lovely to me!

          • sbranch says:

            It was very pretty, everyone dressed up and wearing hats, top hats and tails for the men!

  58. Randi Bault says:

    Now I wanna go to England!!!! Loved the country drive and the peaceful Thames. Sigh. Just loved it.

  59. Jack says:

    Oh yeah ….William Morris …he was Phillips cousin …right ?

  60. Sivje parish says:

    Oh thank you for this post Susan! I love William Morris and all his designs. I have a book about him and a few lovingly hoarded fabric reprints. They are beautful and I have not had the nerve to cut into them yet.
    Oh and your little stove on top of you white stove!!! I adore it!!!

  61. Elizabeth in Montana says:

    Thank you for the tour…Mr. Morris’s words are the watchwords for decorating, at least to me. And today my “Vineyard Seasons” book arrived…my mom and I are happily perusing it! I also have “Summer” on the way, and “Autumn” is next on my hunting list. I bought your first book by chance, and now I’m determined to get them all. I also have three of your pictures…Star Light, Home Sweet Home, and Eat Your Vegetables. All purchased secondhand, although I don’t know why anyone would give them up! And I just bought next year’s pocket planner for my mom, and she loves it.

  62. Celtic Heart says:

    Congrats Leanne.

    William Morris, such a craftsman, but I wonder how he would feel if he could see all his work mass produced by the very things he abhorred, into everything you can possibly imagine? Such irony for the purist craftsman.

    • sbranch says:

      I guess, these days, we’re all just doing the best we can; but it’s his spirit and his movement that honors craftsmen and women that lives on; it helps when we’re reminded, to know we can also be people who keep that spirit alive through our own work, and through our children. xoxo

  63. mary spring says:

    …good Sunday morning to you, Susan …so nice to be back in England !! ..and congratulations to Leanne .. ‘ love your Autumn book …also loved your response to Suzanne in Sydney… you always have a way of making all of us “girlfriends” feel very special … take care…

  64. Lynn Cooper says:

    An interesting read about William Morris, and for years I have heard about the Arts and Craft period in decorating, but now I have a greater understanding of the name. His home inside must have had the best wallpaper, and his daughter’s embroideries ,when I opened that link, looked gorgeous.

    • sbranch says:

      There is this curtain over his four poster bed, the name for it is “Pelmet” — it’s like a valance … completely embroidered by May with a long quote by her father; I thought it was the prettiest thing in the house.

  65. Tea in England says:

    Hi Susan,

    Have just returned from a 10-day cruise on Queen Mary 2 to Spain and Portugal. It’s great to be back home in England but 10 days without internet access (no *affordable* interest access, I should say) has my daily blog reading seriously delinquent!

    So lovely to see your William Morris post. I <3 all things Morris and have yet to visit Kelmscott so I am well envious. 🙂

    We did recently visit the newly re-done William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, however, and they have done a cracking job with the renovation. You might want to put this on your 'list' for your next visit to London. (Also, his 'Red House' up in Bexleyheath.)

    I've been searching long and hard for a substantive 'William Morris and tea' connection, but so far haven't found anything. Surely, Morris, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, etc. must have been tea drinkers? Where else could all that beautiful inspiration have come from???


  66. Andi M says:

    It is Sunday morning and I read your blog post yesterday but today I went back and looked at all the wonderful information you posted about William Morris. Thank you so much for teaching us about so many interesting things. I enjoy it all. I really like William Morris’s designs.

  67. Deb Huch from Michigan says:

    Love your scarf!

  68. Elaine McCallum says:

    Susan, Thank you so much for the lovely trip to William Morris’ England. It was amazing and so much information!!!! Your photos prove the English countryside is NOT overrated and I so hope to visit it personally someday. :o) Until then I can always come back to your web site and visit again!

  69. Robin in Yorba Linda, CA says:

    What a wonderful entry to wake up to this Sunday morning when I checked in! I learned so much about this lovely and brilliant man who had the foresight to create and to preserve art and architecture. It must have been a gem of a day for you.

    I can’t wait for your English Travel Travails project to finally be finished so that I may preorder it with all my trunkmates. As a previous girlfriend said above, it would be a great guide to exploring England on our own. I too would love to follow this enchanting path you are “painting” for us and explore and experience the true England without all the trappings.

    Sipping my morning cup of tea and going back to reread William Morris’ entry.

  70. Cynthia says:

    Susan, I just loved this history lesson! I am one who loves the Arts and Crafts Movement…..I don’t decorate that way though, as my house is not in that style, but for one chair in the sort of rustic family room….my daughter and my dear son-in-law, have a tiny 2 bedroom bungalow in the arts and crafts style….bought for a song because the amount of work needed to be done on and in it….but it is coming along, and I love it….the decor is not in the William Morris vein….but quite eclectic…..it is adorable…..and watching them turn it from a house into their home is even more fun…..thank you for sharing this….it made my heart smile, as that is how you write and photograph! And we love to smile, as do our hearts!


  71. Erin Spining says:

    As I sit here drinking coffee in my reading chair this
    Sunday morning, I am transported to Old England with your history lesson and
    incredible pics. I have been reading romantic historical fiction from Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy
    since I was 13. So I’ve always been interested in beautiful old things – people, places, and things. Thank you for such an enjoyable post this cloudy, quiet Sunday morning in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m going to Google William Morris gift shop… envy your purchases 😉

  72. erica says:


    Susan, this is an absolutely brilliant post! Wow! I loved every word of it and have tried to digest all the knowledge available within it. Thank you.

    I am thrilled to learn, that by your description I am an “artist!” woo-hoo! I have been a gatherer of “vintage” for years upon years and what I could not bring home I admired. What I have brought home, has been displayed and used in my home and daily life and (here’s the artist part) rearranged often. Too often. It’s something I do at my real job too. It’s so fun cleaning and arranging all the store merchandise!

    These past few weeks, my artististic endeavor has manifested itself with the making of freezer jams and various relishes. I’ve cooked up batches of cooked red-cabbage and chili and I have frozen that as well to keep for the winter months, when I arrive home from work too tired to create a dinner.

    Honestly, it’s brilliant ….. your description, that is. Who knew? Not I.

    Have you ever heard of the saying, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears?” Well, thank you teacher. I have learned a lot from you. XO

    OH….meant to tell you something. I don’t know how you decided on the colour for your kitchen, but the night before you mentioned it in your post, I had done some snooping around on Google and found a most beautiful blue called WOODLAWN BLUE and saved it onto my desktop. When you wrote that you had chosen that color I got goosebumps. The hair standing on the arm kind of goose-bumps.

    I am going to go into serious artistic mode this week. I’m decorating or re-decorating some plain Christmas ornaments. I’ve got old jewels and bits of lace. Drawers upon drawers FULL of stuff waiting to be re-created by an ARTIST! Me.


  73. peggy sweeney says:

    so I just had to tell you about my special day in England yesterday, my husband and 5 of the 6 kids and I , piled in the car and went for a drive in the country to hunt out a farmers market at the vineyard near by. It was nice and sunny and a slight chill to the air. We arrived at the market and we bought fresh bread, a chunk of local made Norfolk sharp cheddar cheese, chutney, and the vineyards fresh Apple cider drink, oh, and miniature victorian sponge cakes!!! yum! We discovered that there is a lovely meadow with cows, and Llamas in it and they allow you to walk around in there. We decided to go out there and eat our snacks, So we opened the large old rusty looking gate and hiked threw the knee high deep grass, pass the two brown cows, that didn’t seem to bothered by the fact that we were in their space and that baby Sophie let out squealing shrieks of excitement at the sight of them! They just continued to lay there in the deep grass. We climbed our way to the fallen down tree trunk, dodging every cow patty. We sat at the tree and ate every morsel of goodness. Oh and the sponge cakes were to die for, my 8 year old Megan says ” I am so full but this cake is so delicious”, as she giggled and shoved another bite in her mouth. It was a wonderful day , one I won’t forget, and I am creating a “my England cookbook” with special memories and recipes that when I eat them it will remind me of how lucky I was to have lived in a beautiful country like this! I had to come home and watch Nanny mcphee and have a cup of tea!
    Today we went to the largest boot sale in Norfolk ,at the Banham Zoo, I got the most adorable tea cup and saucer, it’s an aqua blueish green and perfect condition, love it. and then of coarse we spent the afternoon in the Zoo.
    Your kitchen color is beautiful!

    • elizabeth says:

      Peggy, what a lovely entry. So enjoyed it, especially as you are in my grandfather’s corner of England. It’s a beautiful county and certainly less traveled than a lot of England. Just can’t wait for Susan’s book…as someone said it will be “THE” English Diary.

  74. Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

    Love the new color…gotta go twin grandbabies are helping me post!

  75. Loved the post 🙂 and love the color in the kitchen .

    the manor is beautiful… oh the memories it holds… if only homes could talk <3

    I love the old driveway in the house. I want my driveway the same, with grass in the middle, but argh, I have such a hard time getting hubby to agree with me! lol

    Denise of Ingleside

  76. Anna Limont, Camano Island, WA says:

    Hello, This was such a good post, not dull at all, I really enjoyed it. – Perhaps one day I’ll be able to make a trip, there is so much to see and love. – I have a request, or rather a thought — you have so many wonderful posts and on so many fun subjects from England, Your kittys, Recipes, Partys, Beautiful walks, Marthas Vineyard, Decorating, Home, and Inspirations galore. – I was wondering if there would be a way to put a search by subject on the side bar of your blog? It would be so nice to use when the mood strikes to revisit a past post. I know you have some links at the top of the page but it would be so fun to click on and then read all your posts on the trip to England for example, or a recipe you have posted but want to find later again. Just a thought. You just have the kind of blog that warrants rereading now and then. I bet many girlfriends would agree. Thanks for all the life is grand vibes you send our way.

  77. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    Hi Susan!
    I am curious…if in England they prepare you with a “Notice” of an upcoming WEAK bridge (scary thought) that’s over in a BLinK….how do they ever prepare you for the “Highway” that you are driving on?? It looked very much like an over the river and through the woods Driveway to me! I am reminded of what a BRAVE Girl you were!!!

    • Dawn from Minnesota says:

      oH and Susan…. P.S. I love the peek at your kitchen! Love! Love the color! It feels so Fresh I would almost be afraid to make that first messy meal for awhile. Have FUN putting all the cuteness back in place and filling it up with your heart! XoX

  78. Coincidence, maybe, I just sat down to see your blog after working all weekend on a project from a Book of Michelle Hill inspired on William Morris. I love everything related to William Morris, it took me a lond time to decide what to do as every project in the book is wonderful. Lucky you that visited his home in England, I loved everything you posted in your blog. I can hardly wait to see the book. I have purchased some of your cookbooks and I love them. Congratulations from beautiful tropics of Costa Rica.

  79. Laura Croyle says:

    I learned so much from this post! I love history, anyway, so I found it all so fascinating. Loved all the beautiful photos, too! (Couldn’t help but snicker at the one with the “Gent’s Hairdressing” sign! Tee-hee! Gotta love those Brits!)
    And your kitchen is coming together right along so beautifully! Joe’s doing a marvelous job!! Can hardly wait to see the totally finished “after” photo! Thanks again for sharing! 🙂

  80. Barb says:

    GoodEvening Susan, Fantastic……….post on William Morris…….thank you. I have always loved history and you once again have captured my attention down to every detail you have posted for all of us. Your kitchen is looking Great and the color just makes your stove really stand out so much more…love your old fashion stove. Congratulations to Leanne…so very happy for you! Here in our neck of the woods as they say……….was an absolutely perfect Autumn weekend. Low fourties at night and mid seventies by day. Hope you Susan, had a delightful weekend too.
    Hugs&Smiles :):) Barb…Ludlow, MA

  81. MoeWest says:

    If my history teachers had made their lessons even half as interesting and fun as you do, I might have paid more attention.

    • sbranch says:

      You know, I could say the same thing! It seems like it could have been a lot more fun, but then again, consider the poor history teacher’s audience! 🙂

  82. Cathy from Maryland says:

    I’ve posted Day 1 of our vacation on Martha’s Vineyard on my Blog for anyone who may be interested.

  83. kit says:

    Oh wonderful! My blog friend Leanne won! I am so thrilled for her. And I loved your story about William Morris. I will never tire of your England photos and info! 🙂 Kit

  84. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Susan, I have a “dumb question”. In the overall realm of things, it is not important but I’m just curious: Your stove–in the picture above there is a cover over the burners and the little shelf that is usually there, is not there. Is this cover “built-in” somehow? I got to looking at your stove because of the comments about the top looking like a race car, then noticed the cover… Thanks. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, the cover can be put down, or it folds up to become the shelf — you can also fold it half way, so it’s up, but no shelf!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Clever design! I don’t want to sound like “Heloise” or “Hannah-Housewife”, but have a hint to share with you and the girlfriends: Y’know how you oil your wood in the kitchen–cutting boards and spoons, etc.? (I’ve been appreciative of learning this from you!) 🙂 This morning I cleaned our electric teapot. Water deposits build up on the inside and also on the little screen filter by the spout (if you have one with a filter). You just pour a “good slug” of white vinegar in the pot, put on the lid, and slosh it around carefully. When you pour it out, it is ASTOUNDING to see the water deposits coming out! I take out the filter and soak it in a custard cup of vinegar. Then you repeatedly rinse both with water as you don’t want your tea or coffee to taste like vinegar! 🙂 The inside looks like brand-new. This not only improves the taste of your tea/coffee but I think prolongs the life of the electric tea kettle! I do this every couple of months. 🙂

      • Linda in Texas says:

        I love your stove! It just gets cuter every time we see it and learn something new about it. I’m glad Pat asked this question because I was wondering about the shelf/cover and how it works. How did you find the stove? And did you have to have it reworked to be functional?

        Loved this post about William Morris, too. And all the gorgeous photos of the area. You look adorable in your scarf.

        Thank you for the work you put in on making your blog such a wonderful place to come.

        • sbranch says:

          I hunted for it. My mom had one, I think I mentioned that; and I needed to have one too, in order to feel at home! It was completely refurbished and very beautiful before it got used to smithereens like it is now! I got the stove at a place in LA called STOVE HEAVEN. Is that the perfect name or what? They have all kinds of old stoves.

          • Linda in Texas says:

            Stove Heaven! I love it! That would be an interesting place to just visit and enjoy looking at the old stoves.

            My mother had a Caloric range when I was little. It didn’t have but one oven, but it was big and white and had that “look.” I think that may be why I’m in love with your stove.

            Does your mom still have hers?

          • sbranch says:

            Nooo, that one is long gone!

          • I love your stove, too. I can see why you would move it across country! Did you have it in your first little house on the Island, too? I was wondering what part of the island you lived on first? We drove all over the island and saw how each area was so very different from the other areas. If you moved across the island you would probably feel like you moved to a whole new island. The interior of the island was so totally different from everywhere.

          • sbranch says:

            Every town has a different personality here, which I think is interesting for such a small place! I’ve always lived in Vineyard Haven, but my first house was more out in the country.

  85. Sherry Kennedy says:

    Hello Susan and Girlfriends, If you are ever back in London, there is an awesome William Morris room at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Well worth the visit, and amazing to see. I just happened to remember that room as I read this post. William Morris has long been a favorite of mine. Thanks, Susan, for including the visit to his home and taking us along. It was lovely, as usual.

    • sbranch says:

      Thanks for the good information Sherry! That Museum must be wonderful, it has Beatrix Potter’s original diary in it too, I forgot to go the day we were in London, will have to go back!

  86. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Good Morning Susan *

    A new Blog! And…you’ve taken us all back to jolly Englandtowne! What an utterly charming way for me to spend a late-night visit with you and all of our Girlfriends.

    How wonderful to be introduced to William Morris. I remember you telling us (in a brief side note on one of your day trips whilst in England), that you went to Kelmscott Manor, the beautiful home of William Morris and you would tell us all about it and the famous Mr. Morris when you returned home.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the charming way you led us, past river swans and river boats, churches, lambs, wildflowers and right up to the Manor. I knew about his quotes, as I am an avid “quote-keeper”, but I learned so much, much more about the gentleman artist, designer and protector of ancient buildings. A totally captivating blog, Susan, thanks for sharing!

    O.K. Must say “Hi” to Joe…on that path in the wild garden…and you, sweet Sue, you look absolutely adorable with your new scarf, umbrella and camera in hand, taking all those fantastic photos that I’m looking at right now!

    Looks like we have a winner! Congrats to you, Leanne…you lucky girlfriend!
    So nice to meet you all the way in New Zealand!

    Susan, your kitchen looks lovely…your new wall paint…”Woodlawn blue” is just absolutely-perfectly-fabulous….a true-blue!

    Must dash! It’s almost 1 AM. Bedtime for me and I have one more e-mail to write, to one of my friends in Framingham, Massachusetts, so I better hurry along.
    Hugs to you, Susan.
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  87. Hi Susan, I loved your overview on William Morris. Have you been to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London? There are lots of decorative arts on display of that era. There’s also a beautiful William Morris room in which you can eat lunch!
    I love much of the Arts & Crafts architecture, particularly Chas. Voysey’s buildings. So full of charm and warmth. Giggled at your single lane driving experience. I’m used to it now, but it caused more than a few grey hairs to pop up over the years! Yes, the English countryside is glorious. xx Deb –expat now in UK 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I usually try to stay out of cities when I travel, but next time, a special trip to the Victoria and Albert, there are just too many things there I would love to see. Where are you Deb?

      • Hi Susan, I live in Kew–a stone’s throw from Kew Gardens. We’re in Outer London, but have a tube stopnear by. It’s very village-y here. London is magical–not all of it, but lots of it! I think you would like Lamb’s Conduit Street for shopping, and yes, the V&A. My first home is Vermont, so New England is well written in my heart. 🙂 x

        • sbranch says:

          I think if all the people were gone (except you of course!), I would love London — there are nice corners, that’s for sure! You are so lucky to have connections to two beautiful places.

  88. Janice says:

    Thanks for the history lesson…makes me want to pack my bags today. Traveling is the best way to learn!

  89. Betty Marie says:

    Congrats! Leanne……. I knew about the Morris chair but nothing more about him. Gorgeous photos! Your kitchen is so homey, It turly is the Heart of Your Home. We are now enjoying Autumn weather here in Pennsylvania. Pumpkins are now at the road side stands and in our markets. How I love seeing the Autumn colors and the nip in the air that makes me feel the spring is back in my steps. Time to get mums and pumpkins for my front porch. Love this season……… 🙂

  90. willemien says:

    Hi Susan,

    Again I love your blog!, such beautiful old country houses there are in England! And very nice countryside, oh how romantic finding a river! Just ideal for having a picnic, I can just see it… I wanna go there! Just haven’t got the time I’m afraid…
    I have a book with gift wrapping-paper in it of William Morris somewhere I think,I just liked the designs and bought it a few years ago,did’n’t know it was from W Morris, until I read your blog and recognized it!
    Hope your kitchen is coming along very well Susan.
    Can’t wait to see it when its finished.
    Congratulations to Leanne!

    Greetings and lots of love
    from the Netherlands/Holland

    • sbranch says:

      Hello Willemien in the Netherlands, Holland! Kitchen is slowly getting there! Three sides are done, but I don’t want to move back in until “he” has all his “stuff” out of there!

  91. Nellie says:

    Good Monday morning, Susan!

    Thank you for this amazing stroll through English countryside. This was an introduction to William Morris for me.

    Congratulations to Leanne!

    Have a wonderful day!

    xo Nellie

  92. Jack says:

    You talk about painting windows — how wouldja like to trim out those windows on
    William Morris’s house ?

  93. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~Good Morning~
    I was cleaning off my cookbook shelf in the kitchen this morning and found something I had completely forgotten about! I was re~arranging my Susan Branch cookbooks~they get a special place ~ next to my Grandma’s cookbooks~ when I noticed something extra in “The Heart of the Home” cookbook. I saw a little folded card with Susan’s picture on it (on top all the Country Living recipes from years back) ~ the card was for a “The Heart of the Home Recipe Contest!” One of my dearest friends had bought me the cookbook and wrote on the entry information card ” Here’s your chance Lynn!” The winning dessert recipe would win a weekend trip to Martha’s Vineyard, dine with Susan and get their recipe printed in Susan’s new book, Sweets to the Sweet.
    I don’t remember if I entered or not~ I didn’t win if I did though~ Just a fun memory I thought I’d share from way back in 1997-98.
    ~Goes to show Susan’s generosity has been around for some time now~
    Happy Monday~

  94. Congrats to Leanne! Yay!!!
    (You always make not winning so nice, Susan!)
    I loved this post – thank you for our history lesson! I am absolutely loving your beautiful photography, your amazing and cool video (really out in the “boonies”), the music you picked, and your fun style of writing.
    Thanks so much for making my lunch break interesting and fun!!

  95. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Good Afternoon Sweetest Sue…seems like it has Taken Me 3 Days to get to this Blog! Whew…I Guess There Have Been Many Viewers! 🙂 ok First…Thank You for The Wonder Lesson on William Morris….I had No Clue who is was…You are an Excellent Teacher…I Love to Learn about All These Wonderful People! I Love Your Video I Love Being Back in England! Hey a Little Note about Frank Lloyd Wright…My Jonathan Graduated from Florida Southern College…( He Went There for 4 Wonderful Years!) 🙂 (Proud Mom) 😉 & It was Frank Lloyd Wright Who Designed this College…it is An Amazing Place & When Herbster & I Took The Tour…We were Enthralled! We were Ready to Sign Up Ourselves & Begin Taking Classes! 🙂 Anyway….Let’s Talk about Your “New” Kitchen…so Far…it is Gorgeous Sweet Sue & I Love that Color of Blue! Heavenly…Peaceful….a Magical Breathing Space to Gather to Cook to Sip Tea! Bravo My Dear!….ok…Kitty~Kisses to Girl~Kitty & Jack…. Congratz to Leanne On Winning Your Autographed Copy of Your Autumn~Book! Lucky Girl! 🙂 The Day We Meet (In Person) I’m Just Going to Bring All My Books(Your Books) with Me for You to Sign! 😉 Yay! Wishing You a Pumpkin~Filled Day! xoxo Poof! ♥*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.♥*¨`*.✫*¨♥*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.♥*¨`*.✫*¨♥

    • Angie(Tink!) says:

      P.S. The “Wonderful~Lesson” 🙂 xoxo ♥*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.♥*¨`*.✫*¨♥*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.♥*¨`*.✫*¨♥

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        P.P.S. One More Thing Sweet Sue… 🙂 I Love Love Love The Photos of You! Clearly You are so Very Happy in Your Beloved England! (I Know You are Happy On Your Island too!) Cause You are a Truly Happy~Girl! Yay! xoxo Poof! 🙂 ♥*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.♥*¨`*.

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Angie, sorry I took so long to get to this, but here I am! How lucky your son went to such a beautiful school!

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        Yay! You Made it 🙂 …I Just Realized You Have so Many Wonderful Comments to Read….it Does Take Time…..Thank~You Sweetest Sue…. Jonathan was Very Lucky to Get in to That Fabulous College…& It Was All His Choice….( & Two of My Most Special Days…First Bringing him to The Dorm for His Freshman Year…& Second Hearing His Name Called & Watching Him Walk Across The Stage of Florida Southern College to Receive is Diploma) Amazing! 😉 xoxo Poof! ♥*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.♥*¨`*

  96. I LOVE your pictures of England.

    It is beginning to look and feel like Fall here in the Midwest, with our first 30 degree nights anticipated by mid-week. SWEATER WEATHER…

    In honor of Fall (besides already putting your book on display in my kitchen as I do each year)… I plan to take my fall decorating items off their shelf in the garage, re-read The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge, and pull a couple Gladys Tabor books from where they reside in my living room bookshelves.

  97. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    When I saw William Morris’ quote years ago on one of your calendars, I thought…My decorating philosophy exactly!!! I thought also…Imagine a man saying that. I think I may have a man brain! I am good at math and science, and I don’t like useless items sitting around that I may need to dust. I like functional art I guess. There is a whole museum about that somewhere, but I can’t remember where. I agree with you about Mr. Wright, for me his furniture and closet less homes are from Mr. Wrong.

    • sbranch says:

      No, I think he had a woman brain! What man (normally) thinks like that? LOL, Mr. Wrong!

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        Oh…Hi Lynn. I have to tell you that I made it to the North American Sea Glass Festival this weekend… and Mr. Richard LeMotte, a chemist and author said the best place to find marbles on the beach is Racine!!! Maybe I will get there next spring!

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Hi again Margot~
          I had no idea there was a festival. Bet that was informative and fun! I will be on the look out for marbles~ I have found pieces of pottery, beads but never a marble. We have found a lot of bottles in and along the Root River sometimes a complete on in perfect condition!
          This week when my son was walking his dogs just past North Beach he saw a Bald Eagle! They have been spotted in the area along the beach this past spring and summer.
          Thanks for the info~ Have a good day!

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            I meant a complete one~

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            There were three men there who collect old bottles. I asked them where they found them, and they said digging very deep and in rivers. Well…who would know where to dig deep on a beach!!!

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        True most men don’t think about beauty in decor, but half of the women I know have a lot of useless “stuff” in their homes.

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      Hi Margot~
      That was funny!
      You’re right about Mr.”W” right being Mr. Wrong on the closet thing.
      It brought back a memory of the comic strip ” The Born Loser”. (Not really related to the topic but just struck me as something funny.)
      There is a drawing with the wife saying ” I married Mr. Right….Mr. ALWAYS Right!
      Did I get enough ” rights” in there?? Thanks for the laugh!!

  98. Michele says:

    Oh, Susan, thank you for sharing more of your trip! MADE MY DAY! :0) I keep telling the hubby, “If we ever make it there, in our lifetime ~ We may NOT COME BACK!” :0)

    I LOVED your scarf! You looked adorable :0) AND that blue wallpaper…WOA! I want it in my bath!!!

    I love the color in your kitchen, I think I’ll have to go back and look at the name of the color ;0)

  99. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    I enjoyed this blog so very much, and I loved learning about William Morris. As fate would have it, today’s mail included the holiday issue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store catalog. The museum has a collection of William Morris & Company floral wallpaper designs, and their gift catalog has lots of beautiful items inspired from those designs–ornaments, frames, mugs, watches, a pen, stationery items–including a wall calendar–and many other lovely things. My favorite, I believe, is a quilted jacket in the Compton pattern. So very pretty!

  100. Carol Maurer from Eureka, California says:

    :Hi Susan~~~ I just got through reading your latest Blog entry. I’m so behind, but have been very busy and this is the first chance I have had.

    I loved William Morris’s home! It’s so large! Always pictured it would be small. I do like his wallpaper, etc, but really am not in the Arts and Craft movement at all. My style has been, for the past 20 odd years, Victorian. But, I’m moving on to Modern now. Only so much you can do to decorate modern in a victorian home though. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still loving Victorian, just not all the clutter!

    So glad that someone got your Autumn book that didn’t already have it.

    Until next time~~~
    Carol M

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