“Powerless” on Martha’s Vineyard

Can’t let a blizzard go by without giving you a report!  Here’s how the day began for me . . .  MUSICA  First thing I needed to do was light some candles so I could find my way through the house.

It was obviously not going to be a regular day!  The wind was whistling, the snow was blowing, windows were shaking, there was no computer, no internet, no heat, no light, no toaster, Joe was sound asleep, so I made a fire — with the help of Jack — wearing a wool beret.  Not him, me.  Which isn’t something I usually do, but I think it was almost as cold inside as it was out!  When I walked a cold wind blew in my face!

I made tea on our gas stove (thank goodness for gas stoves!), wrapped up in shawls, Tweeted a little bit on my iPhone which I had charged last night — I knew Twitter would be my only contact with the outside world and it was!  And then I went to work like “normal” — and here is what I learned: not being warm is one thing, but watercoloring in the dark is just plain dangerous!

You know that old adage, it’s coldest before dawn?  That is a true thing.  It was getting colder and colder in the house.  And then it started to get light . . . and I could see the snow for the first time . . .

And I could see the poor birds.  They looked like they’d had a rough time of it, their feathers were wet, and poking up on the tops of their heads, even the ones that weren’t cardinals! I felt bad for them.

This is Jack’s bird-watching perch in the pantry.  Every twig is covered in snow.

They were having a field day out there. Even on a normal day, it’s hard to go work when there is so much beauty going on in the kitchen!

As you can tell, at this point, I’ve given up on working, and am now concentrating on getting warm . . .

 I closed all the doors to the kitchen, and started the bacon . . .

I turned on the oven, and just then, suddenly, the lights came back on!  Then Joe came downstairs.

And we were saved!

So sorry you can’t see Joe…he had such pink cheeks!  I could barely see the cardinal through the viewfinder, but he definitely stands out, doesn’t he?  This is why I call cardinals “Nature’s Valentines.”

Here is something you hardly ever see in the part of California I’m from, snow on the floor! You would think that you would need to clean it up!  But you don’t! (At least if you’re me you don’t!)  One of the good things is, when the heat is on, snow that comes off your shoes dries in a snap and you don’t have to do a thing!  And that’s my day girlfriends.  Back to work.  Hope you enjoyed our blizzard, it’s a beauty, still going on, prettier by the moment . . . and I really hope it’s just this “bad” for everyone, and no worse!

Pretty perfect, I’d say.

Just a few more birds before I go . . . 

Look at this cutie!

Poor robin, although well-fed, looks frazzled . . .

Beautiful feathers.  Brave souls!

Well, all my excuses are gone so bye for now girls! Hope you have a wonderful day!  Don’t forget we have a new Willard coming next week!  Love you, me   xoxo

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736 Responses to “Powerless” on Martha’s Vineyard

  1. Linda Hurst says:

    We are so dry in Kansas City, Mo! We sure could use some of your earth nourishing snow! This is the second winter we are setting ‘no-snow’ records. Your snow was beautiful. Glad you weren’t without power too long. Our record was 8-days! Yes, thank goodness for gas stoves and fireplaces! Merry winter!

  2. Christy from Orange County, CA says:

    Hello Dear Susan!

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful (cosy!) snow storm with us! The painting by candlelight, beautiful birds, jack’s silhouette by firelight, the excitement in your voice…I just can’t wait until the book is finished and published and you and Joe are on your tour across our great US later this year. The anticipation is so much fun!

    Happy anniversary Sue and Joe!

    Christy in Orange County <3 x o 🙂
    Where it has been quite blustery so far this year…looking forward to spring (and so are the birdies who I have noticed have started singing their early spring songs this week!)

  3. Carol says:

    Okay, I’m going way off topic here, but is there any hope that any of your books may become available on the Kindle? I am finding it so useful to carry some of my favorite cookbooks on my Kindle as I travel to my various kitchens and your books are at the top of my wish list.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m afraid they’d have to be rewritten and formatted, because of the art … so far, my understanding is that it doesn’t translate to Kindle without a complete makeover.

  4. Dana Burton says:

    First, Billie Holiday….I could listen to her voice all day long…blue”sy” and beautiful! I loved watching your video in the dark, and to think, you are up with the Snow Plows…now that’s early! Mom and I were talking the other day about what a wonderful work ethic you have, even when you are traveling.:) Do you get some extra zzzz’s on weekends?
    Well, the SNOW, it’s just amazing! The first thing I thought of when you said your power was out….What about Downton on Sunday night? Ha! Not how cold you might get or having to work in the dark but, Downton!
    The girls and I had our First Annual Valentine Tea on Saturday for my Mom, my five sisters and my nieces. I just wish I could show you a picture, it was very Susan Branch! 😉 We had Frank Sinatra playing on Pandora, Earl Grey, Chicken Salad and Egg Salad Tea Sandwhichs, Strawberry Spinach Salad with Feta, Dipped Strawberries and Eclairs. It was a wonderful day, and the best part was giving them all the “Love” book. Thank you for inspiring me to be a more creative, giving person. I just want everyone I know and love, to know about you and how much you have changed my life even though we have never even met. So cool!
    Okay, I know this is getting loooong but, I just wanted to updaate you on the Kitten news….still no kitten. Our youngest daughter, Susan-Kate, broke both bones in her forearm on MLK Day at gymnastics. Needless to say, we have been consumed with elevating, Saran Wrapping, trying to fit longsleeves over her “Pink” cast, etc….so no time to Kitty hunt. We are just thankful they were able to put her to sleep and reset the bones without doing surgery. She told the doctor in the emergency room, “It could have been a lot worse, I could have broke my leg.” He replied, “If only some of my adult patients had the outlook of a 6 year old.” Okay, talk soon! Love and light girlfriends!

  5. Send some of that white stuff our way! Glad you had fun during your blizzard. I love how “short” term power outages give us an excuse to live by candlelight. Love your little videos – and especially the cardinals! Happy Fat Tuesday!

  6. Silvia Niomi says:

    Nice to see you made it through the blizzard. Cozy weather. Do you experience blizzards on MV’s every year?

  7. Lori from Florida says:

    Happy Anniversary!!!

  8. Karen Longo says:

    Susan, I love seeing your birdy pictures, and your kitty pictures, and pictures of your gorgeous house! When I’m feeling down (insert Beatles “I’m Down” musica here!), a visit to your website always, always cheers me up. It’s the little things in life that make me feel better. I just read the latest Willard, and had to dash off mid-read to pre-order your new book! Between your book, and the next Outlander series book, it’s going to be a lot of waiting, but so worth it in the fall!

  9. Emily Barklage says:

    Looking forward to the new book!

  10. Julie in Austin says:


    I just read my Willard and am going to go pre-order the book – and a spare!!! I LOVE the snipits you’ve shared. I love the picture on the cover but know your watercolor would have conveyed the warmth and charm of the English Countryside just as well!!!! “A Fine Romance” ~ perfect!!!!! I hope all the joy you give away returns to fill your heart each day!!!!!

    If your book signing tour comes to Austin, you are welcome in my humble abode, as is Joe, Girl Kitty, Jack and anyone else you’ve got with you!!!! xo

  11. Vickie Getty (Little Rock, AR) says:

    So hope I’m doing this right, to get my name in the hat for the pre-publication issue of A Fine Romance. I put my order in though – just in case! Can’t wait to get it in my hands (real books are so much better than the electronic versions). Thank you for all the beauty you share. Never go without reading the blog or a Willard as soon as it comes my way.

  12. Barbara Thomas says:

    I just read Willard, Sticky Toffee Pudding ingredients in this weeks grocery list, preordered my book and am a very happy girl and hope to win and make a friend a happy girlfriend!
    Fondly from Lodi, CA, Barbara 😉

  13. Kate says:

    Just read your blizzard blog and the pictures are so pretty. I kind of wish we had this much snow. Today in our part of Indiana it was almost Springlike and we spent the afternoon outdoors with the labs. Looking forward to Willard. I look forward to all your writings. They just make me happy.

  14. mary spring says:

    SUSAN !!…somehow I new we were going to be able to order A Fine Romance today !!…my heart is racing and I already placed an order !!! How wonderful.!!

  15. janet gorrell says:

    so enjoyed seeing the snow scenes and the darling birds–looking forward to A
    Fine Romance–bought my copy today on your web store–a good thing to look forward to–thanks

  16. mary spring says:

    P.S….can’t wait to get Willard !!!!!

  17. Sharon Calvert says:

    Happy Happy Happy! Just placed my pre-order for A Fine Romance!! Thank You … Thank You … Thank You!!! 🙂

  18. Julie Marie says:

    Eeek!… did you hear me squeal all the way from Utah?… I am sooo glad I came back to visit again today, and go to your shop… LOVE LOVE LOVE your book!!!… I just pre~ordered four of them… one for me, one for my sister, and one for each of my nieces… they will be their Christmas presents, if I can keep the surprise that long… I am not good at keeping secrets, so they will probably get them as soon as they arrive here to me… they will be soo happy!… I am sooo excited, can you tell???… the cover is absolutely beautiful and I just can’t wait… yippee!… okay… I’ll try to calm down now… tee hee hee!… love you!… xoxo Julie Marie

  19. Ruth Pietrandrea says:

    Did you hear me squeal??? I was checking out your store which I do everyday….guess what I preordered? This is so exciting…don’t want to wish my life away,but I can’t wait!!!! It’s beautiful Susan..not enough superlatives!!!! A BIG heart felt congrats..and I am sending you a hug.xoxo Ruthie

  20. Maria M. says:

    Oh, Willard. *sigh* You really know how to tease and taunt a girl on Valentine’s Day, drawing us in with promises of this enchanting new book of Susan’s, “A Fine Romance”. Having to wait until Autumn to visit the English countryside through her eyes will surely try one’s patience but, I shall try. For now, I will have to amuse myself with Sticky Toffee Pudding as I gaze at my new bookmark and wait… and wait…

    Love you, Susan. Get busy on those 30 final pages and Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Joe!

  21. I love the little video of Joe (my hubby also) out in the snow and the beautiful cardinal observing his work. I appreciate all the beautiful writing you provide for us; I’m always ready when receiving your emails to sit down with a cup of tea and read. Hope to see you in San Luis Obispo for the book signing. My Joe and I spent our honeymoon at the Madonna Inn 48 years ago. It has a special place in my heart. Thanks for all the memories…… I will now pigout on some See’s candy on this Fat Tuesday, tomorrow will be a “no more pigging out” Ash Wednesday.

  22. Laura says:

    Oh Susan!! I am so proud of you….for having the vision and courage to put aside all doubt and fear and take this grand adventure with Joe and then to CREATE a book filled with dreams come true. So very wonderful. Oh my giddy aunt (heard that on Call the Midwife on the BBC!!!)…please, please oh please Vanna……CHOOSE ME!!!!! Happy Valentine’s Susan and Girlfriends……love you all so much!! Xoxoxo

  23. Sharon Beattie says:

    I’d love to win your book–have been to England–but it was so long ago!!

  24. Erin Anderson says:

    I love the sweetness of your site, brightens my day! Please enter me in the drawing for the pre-publication copy of your new book. How exciting!
    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  25. Gloria Dotzler says:

    Loved reading about your adventures in the storm and glad you got power back so the house would not be cold. I dislike being cold. I just put my order in for A Fine Romance and will eagerly await delivery. Just think by then it will be spring : )

  26. Chris Sinner says:

    I would so love to be in the drawing for your beautiful new book. Susan Branch and England – two of my most favorites in the world. I can’t think of a better combination!

  27. Cyndi in NC says:

    I am giddy about the book!!!! A Fine Romance, what a great title!! Yes we all felt like we were on the trip with you and have followed the writing of it. If you knew me you would know that the word giddy is one I don’t use lightly but that’s how I felt while I was reading Willard. *L* I am pre ordering the book and will keep my fingers crossed to get a pre publication copy. Then I’ll have one to give to my daughter! She’ll get one anyway though. *L* I’ll be printing the book mark in a few minutes, the lamb is adorable. I can’t believe the book is so close to publication. I know how hard you are working on it and we all just are beside ourselves with anticipation. Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip with us all. Big hugs and lots of smiles here!!!! And may the force be with you also!

  28. Diane Beasley says:

    Hello Susan,
    I loved receiving Willard today!!! I just reserved a copy of your new book and can hardly wait for it to arrive!!!! Thank you so much for writing us a new book!!!
    Continue to enjoy the snowy winter on Martha’s Vineyard!!! Diane

  29. Love your posts 🙂

    We didn’t lose our power at all. The wind was horrible, but power held. We weren’t happy over that because we love the power going out 🙂

    Love all the birds, I once had someone come to the house and she said it’s like Cinderella’s house with all the birds lol. I didn’t mind that comment at all. Yours reminds me of that too

    So excited to be able to preorder the book!

  30. Darlene says:

    Hi Susan, Willard was wonderful….all of it! A Fine Romance, it’s like a dream come true, really, I can’t wait until it’s here!! Thank you for always making us feel so special!! Happy Valentines Day to you, Joe and kitties!! xoxo

  31. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    To pre-order “A Fine Romance”, were we supposed to go to the webstore and do everything we’d normally do to make a “regular” purchase? The full process – credit card & everything? Because that’s what I did! It felt just a little weird. Hope it was right – if not just let me know and I’ll do whatever’s needed – I want to be sure I get at least one book!! Thanks. :>)

    PS – loved “Willard” with all the sneak peeks and features – very exciting. And 250 pages – this must be your biggest book ever, Sue! I’ll bet anything there was a lot more you wished you could have included too… :>)

    • sbranch says:

      I think you probably did it right … did you get a receipt? And yes, I am finding out that I am quite the blabber mouth! 🙂

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        You are not a “blabbermouth”–just had a lot to share! 🙂 And besides that, this book–though more pages–is in a smaller format than your other books, isn’t it? 🙂

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Yep, I got both a receipt and an e-mail confirmation. OK, so that’s all set. Yay!

        Blabbermouth? No way! I have wished every one of your books had been bigger. Even assumed there were lots of things you were forced to leave out – publishing limits etc? :>)

        • sbranch says:

          They always want a certain number of pages … also, handwriting them takes so long, they don’t want to wait!

  32. Jada Bernard says:

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to win your new book, and for the pre-ordering! I love your blog, website, and everything you do…lol. (I’m not a stalker or obsessed, I promise…lol). I have your calendar in my kitchen right now, I have to get one every year. Even my Hubby now knows to make sure I get one by the end of every year, and that is saying something! Thank you again for sharing your life with all of us. 🙂

  33. Elaine Lehmann says:

    Thank you soooo much for the opportunity to win your latest book. It would be a treasured additon to my collection! I am really looking forward to experiencing England again through your and of course Joe’s eyes! Thank you also for your emails. They always brighten my day even in the midst of our MN winter.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Joe!

  34. February is my month of funks and today it just snuck up on me – partly because of work stress and birthday blues (tomorrow, more than 40), etc. … but I just opened my Willard and honestly, it’s like a cuppa tea with a dear friend and just cheered me up enormously. From the wonderful artistry, to the pictures of England that touch me deep on some ancestral genetic level, to learning about the new book, and this chance to possibly get one even before it’s possible … Good friends always know just what to do to provide comfort and cheer, even if they are just cyber friends. Thank you Susan … for EVERYTHING.

  35. So perfectly cozy… breathtaking, really. I’m in love. ♥

  36. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    I must have missed something–maybe in the Willard which hasn’t come here yet? I get the impression I should be getting my name in for Vanna’s drawing of a prepublication copy of the book? Okay, if I’m right, please put my name in for the drawing? I did just happen to look at your online store today, Susan, and must have timed my “look” just at the right time because there was the book! When I called Kellee to order a copy, she said she had just put it there! The cover looks great and the written description really would make me want a copy–even if I hadn’t already wanted a copy! LOL! 🙂

  37. Susan, I saw your book on the Friends of Susan Branch site.
    I think it looks perfectly wonderful!
    I am going to have to message a friend to see if she has seen what you have been doing. She loves England, so when you were on your trip I sent your site to her. She may want a copy of A Fine Romance too!!

    I have been enjoying your blog updates lately, as usual! Those birds are so dear to watch! Of course Jack! Then Joe at work! Your workspace…A happy place to stop by. Much thanks for sharing your lives there on the island.

  38. Amy Cardin says:

    Imagine my delight to come home from a long, cold day to find Willard trumpeting the new book! I too placed my pre-orders and would treasure winning the Vanna drawing. I studied in England the summer of my junior year in high school…hmmm…like (gasp!)37 years ago. Cannot wait to be transported back via your fabola new book. Thanks for thinking of all of us “girlfriends” while you were there living the dream. Also, could Martha’s Vineyard be any more adorable?!? Even with feet of snow and no power it’s still picture perfect. Thanks!

  39. Tiina says:

    I loved the pictures of the birds. I’ve recently added another bird feeder to our yard because of you. But we don’t get the pretty birds in Cali like you do in MV. Have a great day. Loved the new Willard and I already ordered my book.
    xo Tiina

    • sbranch says:

      I found out after I moved away that California has those perfect little bluebirds — the only thing is that they don’t like feeders, they like wide open country spaces or farmland. But if you can ever see one, they are so blue and pretty!

      • judy says:

        Texas has those blue birds and I have seen them here, in Nashville; there is a special house designed just for them. I think they like insects and berries–especially wild blackberries and this is the extent of my knowledge of them! Judy

        • sbranch says:

          I had one of those houses on my back fence in California, and we got them! But they are so far from the house, it’s not like the ones that come up close to the feeders where you can really see them.

          • judy says:

            When visiting in Texas, we found that we could be VERY still (on a porch swing) and see that “he” was a brighter blue with some rusty red on his breast and “she” was a greyer blue–don’t recall any red. They took turns staying and going with the one who was returning bringing something into the nest. They seemed to know that we were watching but didn’t seem to feel threatened. JA

  40. A Fine Romance … I can hardly wait to have that book in my hot old hands! To win it would be devine, if not I will have to purchase it! I loved everyday you were on your trip and sharing your adventures with us. You book will be a piece of joy to read! Thanks for the chance to win, thanks for sharing your words and art work with us each week!

  41. Glenda says:

    You have such talent, creating such a beautiful book! I can’t wait to sit down with a cup of tea and read every page! 🙂 One day I hope to visit England and see some of the places you visited for myself. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying hearing about your work on “A Fine Romance.” Thanks for sharing your story. PS: the watercolors are my favorite.

  42. Deb Surman from Illinois says:

    Hi Susan, Hope you, Joe and the kitties are staying nice and warm. I’ve been receiving your Willards from the first ones that came via snail mail and the one I received today has to be one of your best. As soon as I devoured every word and picture, I went to pre-order my copy of ” A Fine Romance ” – a Valentine gift to myself. I know the girlfriends and I feel we’ve been with you every step of the way, although you did all the hard work which we truly appreciate! I can only hope you make a stop in the Chicago area while on your book tour. My husband and I would love to meet you in person!

  43. Susan Ericksen of Bainbridge Island, Washington says:

    there is a new book out and thought you may be interested…..
    “Wednesday’s Sisters” by Meg Waite Clayton……It is about 3 sisters who share a cottage in the Lake District, not far from Beatrix Potter’s home, I understand…Takes place in the 1940’s…has a little mystery to it and for those of us who LOVE “Downton Abbey” they claim we will love this too..I just ordered it and thought of you, Susan..You may want to check it out, seeing as how there are little winter evenings left before spring pops through!!!!! just a thought!!!!!!
    The Author is from Palo Alto…………………..♥

  44. Kelly J. says:

    Good morning, Susan! Glad your power is back and the world is full of snow up your way 🙂 I was thinking the same thing regarding snow on the floor…..it’s like an automatic wash-up, even for the carpet. Plus the cats get a kick out of it too! Stay warm & dry 🙂

    Kelly from Eastern PA

  45. You are an inspiration to us creative girls…thank you, thank you, thank you! I just pre-ordered your new book (I own them all!) but I’m not sure I can wait that long so I’m putting my name in the hat. I’m also planning my own trip to the English countryside, and I plan to use your book as my travel guide.

    • Jan from Northern CA says:

      What a great idea!! Thanks Dianne! I have been over to England several times on small group tours….but the gardens that our Susan and Joe visited would be lovely to check out. Something to think about whilst reading “A Fine Romance”. The frosting on the cake would be the trip over on the QE…..sigh, we can dream can’t we? I also just pre-ordered my copy and also the book of Willards……hurry Mr. Postman!!
      Jan from Northern CA

  46. Donna Benoit says:

    I can’t wait for A Fine Romance to arrive! Here’s hoping I win one of the prepublication ones! Your website and Willard’s always bring a smile.

  47. Gail says:

    I am thrilled at the news of A Fine Romance!! I have pre ordered my copy. Also, I love the idea that you will be signing them. Thank you!

  48. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Good grief, we were in L.A. Country, & all kinds of excitement was happening on your blog, Dear Sweet Sue! The blizzard! Great pics! We were caught in a mini blizzard (?) on the Grapevine Friday, then it closed right after we got down in the valley – whew, we made it – fun with all the trucks & traffic!!! And, I just pre-ordered my new book my dear – very exciting! Can hardly wait! We entered in the Huntington Camellia Show & toured the gardens, which are fabulous! Thanks for the great blog, perfect Musica, & wonderful pictures, & love hearing your voice too!!! Love, Joanie

    • sbranch says:

      The Grapevine is one scary place for a blizzard Joanie, glad you are OK and back in the land of Camellias!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Thanks sweetie! We did good at the show, so Don wants to go again next year! We need to see more at the Huntington!

  49. Pat Gubbe says:

    Loved seeing and reading about your snowbound day and all your adventures. Thank you for sharing…

  50. peg says:

    Oh, Susan! Wonderful post…and the new Willard!! Oh, MY! Your excitement is so contagious!!! I can’t wait to see your new book!!! And, I will find you at a booksigning so you can actually, in real time, sign my copy!!! Maybe, Vanna will pull my name! Anyhoo, all great news! ♥

  51. peggy says:

    Popping in fresh from Willard… Please enter me for the drawing of your lovely new book. And thank you, thank you, for the Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe. Oh, yummmmm!!

  52. Brenda Scinto says:

    I just read my Willard and I am so excited I could just burst!! I am so looking forward to your new book and hope that it is out by my birthday in November because it would be the BEST birthday present to myself! Just the other night when I was all curled up in my chair and cozy under my blanket, I finally went through my 1,000+ pictures from my fall trip to England for the first time (had to figure out how to get them onto my iPad). Oh how beautiful everything in that country is. I must thank you SO VERY MUCH, not only for inspiring my travels, but for thinking of us Girlfriends and arranging for us to pre-order the book. I absolutely MUST have a copy and will feel so much better knowing it is already on order. Good luck finishing up the book and remember that all of us are SO VERY EXCITED for you that it is almost completed!! Happy Valentine’s Day Susan <3

    • sbranch says:

      Same to you Brenda, and thank you! I feel better too, it was a good idea, running out of things is always awful!

  53. Pam Higgins says:

    I just pre-ordered my copy of A Fine Romance! I am looking forward to sitting down with the book and a cup of tea! I love how you are able to describe things and I can feel just what you mean! We are on the South Shore in MA and we lost our power in Nemo too. We were very lucky, we lost 8 trees, but no damage to our house. It was wonderful to get our power back on Monday afternoon. I hope that all went well with you as well!

    • sbranch says:

      So sorry about the eight trees Pam! But glad none of them landed on anything too important! We’re OK, just a couple of branches, but I don’t think we got it as bad as the mainland.

  54. Elaine Ruggiero says:

    Please enter me you the drawing for a free pre publication of your new book. It sounds and looks wonderful. Thank you for bringing joy and beauty into a sometimes dreary day. Always look for to Willard in the email.
    Take care and stay warm!

  55. Pattyjane says:

    LOVED the Willard and so excited the book is coming! Will preorder mine in just a minute. Thanks for the advance peek and also for the fun pics of the snow. It’s still sunny here in SLO so especially fun to imagine what it’s like on the other coast. Hope to see you at the Madonna Center. Safe travels!

  56. Lee Ann Hill says:

    Thank You for this generous offer….Hubby and I were talking about going to England and this book would be perfect!
    Lee Ann

  57. Bernadette Gibson says:

    I followed you on your trip last year, and now I can’t wait to buy your book. I have emailed my sister and daughter in hopes they, to will buy it and plan a trip with me to England.

  58. Sharon McKnight says:

    Placed my order. Happy to wait till fall — my birthday is in October. Thanks for Willard, the blog, the books, the JOY. xoxo Happy Valentine’s Day.

  59. Nancy J Shaner says:

    Just read Willard. What a delight! Started my day right. I am so eager to have “A Fine Romance”. We were in England in April to May and we saw some of the same things. How exciting. The things I missed must go on the “next time” list of things to see and do. As long as we have family, (two grand daughters) living there, I know I will go back. You know before I went to England I thought those quaint villages were few and far between. They were just showing the picturesque ones. But everywhere we went was a post card. Especailly the Cotswolds. In 3 weeks I took over 400 pictures. Now that I am recuperating from hip replacement surgery, I got out my box of booklets, brochures, pictures and diary of the trip. I am reliving what is so far for me a trip of a lifetime. The Willard today was perfect timing. Keep up the good work. I love your writing, your artwork, Your website and blog, your font 🙂 and even the birds and cats. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us and making my day brighter.

  60. Michelle R. says:

    I just read your Valentine Willard and want to make sure my name is in the hat for your new book. I can tell that I’m going to LOVE it! I’ve always wanted to go to England but never have. Your book can transport me there. I’d love to get lost in the romance. : )

  61. Bethany says:

    Susan, I’m glad you were okay through the storm! I love your photo of the birds with Joe in the background! I just pre-ordered your book because I have been thinking about your trip since you took it! I am hoping to go to England in two years– specifically Stroud, where my school is. And I want to see the Cotswalds. I have always loved Beatrix and now I am in love with Cicely Mary Barker– do you know her illustrations too? (I’m sure you do!). Every day I look at your calendar, so I knew what you were talking about when you referred to “A Fine Romance”!! You bring sunshine into my home with all of your beautiful illustrations and quotes! Thank you!!! xo

  62. Mama Bear says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow!
    I just read “Willard” and would love to be in on the drawing for the new book….How wonderful that we can pre-order it. I love the sneak peak at the pages and I’m sure it will be a much loved addition to any bookshelf.
    I copied the recipe into my diary and will probably make it next week for a workshop we’re having. I just wanted to mention, you listed Baking powder twice in the instructions. I’m sure in the first part, that we’re meant to add Baking Soda to the boiling water and dates so that is what I’ve written down and then the Baking Powder will be added to the flour.This recipe reminds me of Rum Cake which I’ve made many times. These are great desserts for Winter time with the spices filling up the house.
    Mama Bear

  63. Susan W says:

    Wonderful Willard! Thank you for the new bookmark. It will keep me thinking of you finishing your new book. BTW,our snow has been melting here. How about yours?

    • sbranch says:

      Yes. In fact it’s so pretty today I feel a little flash of spring fever. Snow’s not quite gone yet, but green lawn is coming through, the sun is shining, it’s almost 40 degrees!

  64. Leah Cohen says:

    Susan, I happened upon your Summer book many (many) years ago and was immediately in love! I bought it without even knowing that it had recipes…the pictures were all I needed. And of course, I shared with my girlfriends because that’s what we do! I love the bird pictures and the snow…sigh. Snow really does make winter complete. Can’t wait to add your new book to my collection. Happy Anniversary!

  65. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    Waiting patiently for my Willard to arrive…meanwhile, I went to your on-line store yesterday and ordered my copy of “A Fine Romance”! Hooray! It’s time to dust off Blood Sweat and Tears again…..”You Made Me So Very Happy”! Happy, happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!

  66. Rosanne (Oregon) says:

    Oh my goodness! I had coffee (in my Emma mug) with Willard this morning. Willard is always great, but this morning it was a treasure trove of delights! I am already in love with A Fine Romance and that toffee pudding.;) Thank you, thank you, for all the wonderfulness, both in Willard and with every single entry on this beautiful blog!

  67. heidi says:

    Willards and blog postings are eagerly anticipated and so often include little surprises like bookmarks and recipes. Thank you! Five weeks till Spring.

  68. Love the pictures and videos of your snow. Hope the electricity stays on!! My Momma loved cardinals and everytime I see one, I smile, just thinking of her.

  69. Esther says:

    I am so excited about your new book that, for the first time, I’m leaving a comment so that I have a chance to win something! Not only have I never done this at your wonderful site, I’ve never done it at any site. My fingers are crossed!

  70. Linda Pintarell says:

    Just back from reading Willard…so lovely to sample that page…now really can’t wait. Hopped over to your store and put in my order for a few – it will make such a lovely Christmas present. Thank you! Thank you! Do you think you might make it as far south as San Diego on your book tour? That would be nice. Also considering a drive up the coast for the Vintage Show in November. Why not??!! It would be a beautiful min-vacation…and I’m all for those. Sending hugs on this almost Valentine’s Day!

  71. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    You can choose to not moderate this, Susan, and if you do, I will understand. Don’t mean to set off a discussion about gun control here but did you see us on the national news? A 30-year-old man started shooting randomly the other day at cars driving by. This in a nice suburb. Shot and killed a 9-year-old boy being driven to the grocery store on the way home from school. Hit his mother, too, but she survived. Total random shooting…Guess one can’t even drive to the grocery store without wondering if bullets will be flying. It drives me crazy!!! And we hear that guns are flying off the manufacturer’s shelves faster since the Connecticut shootings than before. It drives me crazy! 🙁

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Me too, Pat! It really is beyond rational belief. But all the more reason to inundate every legislator whose address and e-mail and website we can get with noise! Daily, weekly, ENDLESS noise! It’s as the President said last night, “The families of Newtown deserve a vote…. Gabby Giffords deserves a vote… ” And if the people don’t make enough noise, Congress will not hold a vote! :>)

  72. Mrs. Wendy S. says:

    Yay!!! Yay!!! Best Willard EVER! I jumped over to the shop and preordered A Fine Romance in the middle of reading it! haha. September/October cannot get here soon enough. I loved reading the pages you posted- kinda gave me goosebumps when you told about the name of the book- I looked at the wall next to my desk and see February saying, “A Fine Romance.” Wow…

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Joe.

  73. Melissa Andrew says:

    Love the newest Willard. Have ordered my book … can hardly wait for it’s arrival. Will you post your schedule of book signings … I hope? I wish for you a perfect day.

  74. Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

    Say, did I read somewhere that you and Joe are driving across the country doing booksignings and that you are doing a booksigning in Calif. in November? So, are you driving out there or back home? Just a reminder about the potential weather in late Fall in the Midwest, in case you hadn’t thought about that. 🙂 Though, after this wimpy winter weather we’ve had thus far, probably nothing to concern yourself with! 🙂 (I can’t believe I am even thinking about NEXT winter coming when I am almost ready to be done with THIS winter! 🙂

  75. Sue says:

    Hi Sue,

    Just read the Willard (at work where I should b edoing OTHER things!!) I love the bookmark! I went to Ireland with my daughter a few years ago and fell in love with the black faced sheep. I kept making her get out of the car to get photos – one angry one even chased the car down to ram it (little pun there!) Can’t wait for “our” book! I already put in my pre-order! I will have to plan to be in SLO in November!

  76. I love the bird photos! Birds bring such delight, no reason, just delight. I’d sure *Love* to win a copy of your book of romantic travels–AH, probably the only way I’ll ever see England! And if that’s true, no better way than to “travel” with you! Hugs and love, Heidi

  77. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Good Morning ~
    Just pre~ ordered the book!
    No Willard yet~ but it sounds like you are doing a give~a~ way too. ~ If I won I “guess” I would have to hand deliver it to my girlfriend in California~ Roseville~ and maybe have you sign mine for sure!~ Have a great day!~

  78. quiltnut says:

    I’m from Michigan…not so much snow but lots of high winds and sub zero temps. Wishing you well in your snow wonderland. The birds always make things better.

    Stay warm….looking forward to this book of yours on your England adventure.

  79. Bonnie L says:

    Dear Susan,
    I was checking Facebook and saw the post that we could pre-order ‘A Fine Romance’….came directly to your site and did just that….I have not received WILLARD as yet but I know he will arrive! I am laughing at myself now….when I ordered the book at the bottom of the page is a place for a note. I thought it might be directed to you and your staff….so I put “Thank You!”…then started laughing when I realized that I am thanking myself! So I will THANK YOU and your staff here! And, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! XOXO
    So glad you made it through the storm okay.

  80. Bonnie L says:

    Dear Susan,
    I was checking Facebook and saw the post that ‘A Fine Romance’ could be pre-
    ordered….so came to your site and ordered the book! Then I laughed at myself because at the end of the order is a place to put a ‘note’….I thought the note that I left might go to you and your staff….so I wrote “Thank You!” ….then I realized that I am thanking myself! So, I am taking this opportunity to THANK YOU and your staff! I have not received WILLARD yet but I know he will be along soon. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! XOXO
    I am glad you came through the storm okay.

    • Bonnie L says:

      HAH! There was a hiccup in the system so I thought my message did not go through….then tried to remember how I wrote the first one! Oh Well! There are days….and then there are days!!

  81. Robin Norris says:

    I just received your email and am so excited about the new book. How wonderful it will be to “see” some of the English countryside I’ve visited within your pretty painter’s palette! I love to buy travel books as one of my souvenirs. I’ll add this to my collection and be able to re-visit through your book. I’ll also be purchasing one for my friend in Australia with whom I visited England. She’s using your calendar this year (as she had admired mine when she last visited the U.S.)! I appreciate your beautiful photos of the snow, but am thankful that storm came to Iowa as rain.

  82. Carol says:

    Wish you could have heard me sighing dreamily as I read about the new book and looked at the pages you showed in the latest Willard. I’m so looking forward to reading it and sighing all the way through! A trip to England isn’t in the cards for me, but I have no doubt that I’ll feel I’ve been there after reading “A Fine Romance.” I’m also looking forward to reading about you and Joe; I must have somehow missed you telling how you met, first date, etc.
    I looked at your lovely pictures on the blog and watched the videos you made of your place during the power outtage. You even make a power outtage sound fun and cozy! Thanks for giving us ladies so much to enjoy. I often feel that I’ve had a personal visit with you just reading the newsletters and blog!

  83. jane says:

    Oh my! I sort of shoved my husband out the door to the office this morning so that I could play some Josh Bell music in my jammies with my freshly made latte ( I AM from Seattle!) and read the latest Willard. I had ordered up my presale book last night, must have dreamed about it! — because I woke up wishing and hoping for more book news. I simply cannot wait! My Stephen and I followed you and Joe to England (in October) and spent weeks in the Costwolds, Beatrix Potter, etc. I am a scrapbooker but I’m waiting to do my England album because I just know there will be so much inspiration in your book. Thank you for the joy that you bring to my life. Please come to Seattle to sign books — seriously, you may stay at our house!

    • sbranch says:

      Josh Bell and jammies, and latte, how wonderful! I will try to come to Seattle too, so beautiful up there.

  84. Susan Ericksen of Bainbridge Island, Washington says:

    I LOVED Willard this morning!!! I look forward to everything that you send and write….You inspire me to keep on with my own art work….I ordered “A Fine Romance” just a few minutes ago and already I am waiting!!! Thank you, Dah-lin’
    Hope the excitment never wears off…It is an adjustment when it is all said and done…a relief, but a little empty at first…all that time and now more time for you and Joe and your daily life….You will be headed west soon and so many book signings etc….Your life is filled with anticipation and excitment….Having fun is great, but the BEST part is that you and Joe loving it together….. Happy endings to the creation and now happy beginnings to the marketing…..love ya!

  85. Jan says:

    Waiting for my Willard to arrive yet, but heard the great news! So excited to be able to order your new book! SO I DID!! Looking forward to its arrival.
    Happy Valentines Day! Am going to make my husband the Chocolate Eclairs from your Love book. Thinking of putting a little cocoa in the whipped cream. Have a great Valentines day!

  86. Jean says:

    I am reading the latest Willard right now and I love it, I also ordered your new book, next fall seems like such a long way off…I am really looking forward to it.

  87. Dana Schultz says:

    Oh what a delight to see the beauty of the snow through your windows! I was in college in Boston for the Big snow of ’78. Being a southern girl it was magical! Looking forward to your new book and have pre-ordered! I wish my mother was still with us so I could share a trip to England via your sweet book with her. Stay warm!

  88. Leota says:

    I am so jealous of all that gorgeous snow. No here in South Texas so send some our way? Congratulations on the book, A Fine Romance. I simply can’t wait to get my copy which I have pre-ordered. Thanks so much for sharing even your deepest thoughts with all of us girlfriends.

  89. Mary S. says:

    Just read your wonderful Willard!!! I am sooooo excited about your book!! I am going to pre-order it as soon as I write this!
    Just a request – I would LOVE to have a print or a giclee of your watercolor of the sea and ship and seagulls that is in Willard and in your blog before this one!! It’s so wonderful – I would adore hanging it on my wall!! Is there a chance of that happening?
    Thank you for the bookmark!!
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  90. Deborah says:

    Love the bird art, Susan!!! You make the best of every situation, don’t you??? (no electricity). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to pre order the new book! Soooo exciting, I will be on that list for sure! Lots of good stuff happening!

  91. Susan Ericksen of Bainbridge Island, Washington says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
    From my heart to your heart ♥♥♥
    LOVE makes the world go round!

  92. Vicki Wilkes says:

    My husband and I are finally planning our own trip to the UK this fall, so I have been soaking up every single one of your posts while sipping Yorkshire Gold tea! Where did you stay in the Lake District? There are so many charming B&Bs and inns, I am having trouble picking one. Love the newest Willard: packed with so many wonderful surprises!!!!!

  93. Julie Marie says:

    Hello again Susan… I have not received Willard yet, hoping it comes today!… but from the comments, it sounds like you will be giving away a signed copy of your book here… I pre~ordered four already, for me and my sis and nieces, but would love to win one to give to my darling little 87 year old neighbor lady who lived in England at one time and she adores you… please enter me… and I am waiting right here with my tea for my Willard to arrive!… I get sooo excited when it pops up in my email!… xoxo Julie Marie PS HAPPY VALENTINES DAY to you, Joe and the kitties!!! mmmmwaahhh! (that’s a big kiss!)…

  94. Susan Joy says:

    I’m so excited for the new book! You’ve been working so hard and we all appreciate it. Thank you for everything! Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

  95. Erin Parker says:

    Would love to win the book. But I’m going to pre order one anyway. If I win I will just give one away to my mom. Thanks

  96. Debbie Anderson says:

    Oh, I can’t wait till the fall for your new book. I’m so excited for you – but also for all of us who feel like we were on the adventure with you and Joe. Stay warm! <3

  97. Denise Brice says:

    Susan, you dear lady! What a perfectly splendid Willard! I would so love to get that advance copy, but having pre ordered my own, I won’t be in despair if Vanna chooses someone else!

  98. Cinda says:

    I can’t wait to get your book in my hot little hands!
    I would love to get a copy early, put my name in the hat. (thanks)

    Love your blizzard blog and Willard!


  99. Rina H. says:

    Susan, I just read your lovely Willard and I’m so excited about A Fine Romance! Thanks for your generous giveaway, please put my name in the hat, nice and near Vanna’s hand 😉 ! Your photos of the snow are wonderful – that fat little robin made my day, by the way! I’m off to pre-order now!

  100. Debbie Ann Toth says:

    What a very nice surprise to receive Willard today and all the wonderful news about the new book! Please drop my name into the hat too. What a treat to have that book to look forward to. Love all you do and know you love it too!


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