Party Party Party Party Party Party Party MUSICA

We go from party to another around here, from Tea Party to Birthday Party! Lots of our girlfriends are having a birthday month, lots of new babies are being born, but you may have noticed on your calendars, it’s also someone else’s birthday on Sunday, and she would be 147 years old. 

H A P P Y    B I R T H D A Y

So what makes sense for today’s blog is cake and presents!  Right?  First we’ll have cake, and then we’ll have presents.  OK?  That’s the normal way for a Birthday Party! And never forget, we are the normal ones! 

L A V E N D E R    P O L E N T A    C A K E

This Lavender Polenta Cake is a plain cake alright ~ really easy to make, deliciously moist with an amazing crunch, plus, it’s gluten free — but the recipe, which I got from my girlfriend Siobhan (“Shivon”) when we were in England, calls for ingredients that aren’t “everyday” fare.  Don’t let that stop you, because if you’re like me, and something tells me you are, this cake will become a standby.  The recipe calls for fine yellow cornmeal (or polenta flour) and almond flour.  Our supermarket carries them, but I’m pretty sure that won’t be true everywhere.  You can order them from the lovely Bob’s Red Mill web site.  If you’re not familiar with Bob’s Red Mill, you are in for a treat.  They also have everything you need to cook for a gluten free diet.

The recipe also calls for superfine sugar, which my market does not carry.  But I made my own, I just whirled regular sugar in the blender until it was superfine. Super easy!

No problem coming up with a pound of unsalted butter, allowed to come to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until it’s . . .

. . . pale and light.

Then stir in the almond flour . . .

. . . and vanilla.

Beat in six eggs, one at a time (Don’t worry, I’m putting the recipe at the end of this as a party favor! )

I’ve made this cake with orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, and this time, with lime zest and juice.  All are truly wonderful, it’s up to you.  And btw, if you haven’t used one of these wonderful microplane zesters yet, we have them for you in our webstore, because they are a must-have tool!  No more knuckles in your food!  You pull the razor-sharp edges across the fruit, the zest collects on the top with no pain or strain at all . . . it makes it so easy to measure too.

So you fold in the zest and juice . . .

along with the polenta (cornmeal) flour, salt and baking flour … just pop it all in,

along with dried culinary lavender flowers (just click there to get them on-line).  The recipe calls for three tablespoons — and this is correct.  Don’t worry, it will not taste like soap, just so very light, and pretty in the cake.

This cake serves a lot of people ~ twenty four!  It’s perfect for a party, but you can also halve the recipe very easily and bake it in a 9″ cake pan. I wanted the big cake for our Tea Party but I don’t have the called-for 12″ cake pan, so I bake mine in this 12″ iron frying pan, which works perfectly.

Into the oven it goes until the house is filled with fragrance and the cake is brown.  Let it a cool a while, flip it over onto a serving plate and it comes right out of the pan.

And this is it, close up.  Delectable!  Also addictive.  Here’s the recipe as it will appear in our new book!

It’s your party favor, but there’s more.

And I have some heartstrings for you.  Starting with our Royal Baby Gift Giveaway.

 Vanna left for the beach hours ago, but she didn’t forget to draw a name before she hopped into her yellow convertible 1959 T-bird and sped off, sunshine glinting off blonde curls blowing in the ocean air.  What a life that girl has!

Such a happy thing, a Baby Book, filled with love and hope and firsts for everything.  I’ve been loving the stories from our Girlfriends of babies coming, of new grandchildren on the way. I did not envy Vanna’s position of choosing just one winner.  I did ask her to try hard to get me someone who’s expecting a baby into their family.  And she did that.  Oh yes, she did that.

 I’m thrilled to announce that the winner of this trio of gifts is a first-time mommy to-be who is decorating her own Peter Rabbit room for her first born child coming in September, a real “birth-day” . . . she’s having her own little Prince, and her name is OLIVIA.  So happy for you dear Olivia, congratulations to you and your whole family!  Let us know when the time is right and we will hold hands on this blog and say a prayer and say, “Pushhhhhh.”  We can be a big help! ♥  (Mas MUSICA)

So now, I have another little gift for you in honor of Beatrix Potter and you don’t even have to pin the tail on the donkey!  If you CLICK HERE, you can print out this name tag on card stock (just put it into your printer like regular paper, the printer will do the rest) . . .

 . . . and then when you come to one of our book signings next month (and as we drive across country) you can wear your name tag and we’ll know we’re Blog Girlfriends ~ I’ll know you, and you’ll know each other!  Fun!  (Kellee is going to put this name tag on our EVENTS page, just in case you forget where it is.) ♥  And if this isn’t quite enough, I have something else for you . . .

. . . I’m thinking maybe a nice parting gift for everyone would be something to read?

Because we got a surprise on Friday . . . at our California studio . . .

Oh yeah girls, your books arrived!  Early!  Boxes and boxes of books,  A FINE ROMANCE ~ Falling in Love with the English Countryside! is born. What a cute baby!  Sweet smelling with ribbons and everything!  (I’m secretly screaming inside, how about you?  Did I surprise you?  They surprised me! :-))  The first page you have to read is Page 9 where I mention you.

And now these two darling girls, Kellee on the left, and Sheri on the right, with lots of help from our wonderful Alfredo, our right-hand man (on the truck but not looking at the camera), will ship their little fingers to the bone.  The books will leave the studio as they were ordered … the first of you to order will get yours first.  I have no idea how long it will take to get them all into their envelopes with addresses, so please be patient with us, because these two are the hardest workers in the world and will get them out as quickly as humanly possible!!!  Look how strong they look!

So of course, we are celebrating birth-days and dreams come true.  Our Twitter Girlfriend Janie made us a Dream Banner to match the Bon Voyage Banner she gave Joe and me when we went to England (you’ll see it in our book, in the stateroom on board the ship).  She made just a few for anyone who might want to focus on a dream for themselves.  They come with their own little envelope, and they’ll be in the web store on Monday. 

And the last gift today, in honor of Beatrix Potter and Olivia, and all of you with new babies in your lives or hoping for one, or dreaming of one, or remembering what it was like to be one ~ these are the two games we used to play on our babies faces when I was little and the oldest of eight children.  The babies love it.

That’s it Girlfriends, for today, just another day in paradise.  Happy Birthday Beatrix! Congratulations Olivia!  Click teacups! Eat cake!  Happy weekend!  See you soon!  xoxo

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1,488 Responses to PARTY ♥ PARTY ♥ PARTY !

  1. Stephanie says:

    My book arrived and it is a TRIUMPH! WOW! My expectations were high and yet the book has soared above them. Just “brilliant” as our kindred spirits across the pond say…

    – I forgot that I was getting a signed copy and squealed with delight at the signature! So much fun!
    – The choice of book size, color, cover, etc. is perfection – it feels like a Jane Austen type of book.
    -Since I was along for the journey (did you see me in suitcase #12?) I thought I’d know everything – but every page has been a revelation. Also this is the first time anyone has dedicated a book to ME (and all the other girlfriends on the blog!) – that is so much fun!
    – I am so sorry I started a new diet the day before the book because the food descriptions and recipes are amazing – I am dreaming about tea with cream and pastries!
    – I LOVED the “Joe’s comments” part of the love story – so cute and funny. That has to be a regular feature on the blog and future books.
    -Your paintings are amazing – I treasure the one of Fred Astaire dancing – you captured his angular-ness perfectly.

    Mostly … your writing is beautiful. I know that from the blog – but your books are often mostly recipes and such – but your written word is the focus with this book and you are a beautiful writer. I can’t tell you how much I love the book. I feel all those mornings this winter when you were up at 4 am painting in your office (even during Hurricane Sandy with no electric – remember that??!)

    Finally – I have re-named this book: PEAR CIDER

    That is what I call it. Or “A Fine Romance with PEAR CIDER”. I dream about Pear Cider. I am in love with Pear Cider. The book must have been soaked in Pear Cider before delivery because it is just the cozy, perfect running theme in the book. I’ve never tasted it before, but I’m getting my hands on some and it will be served at all my fall parties and Thanksgiving this year. While I serve it, I will smile thinking of your beautiful book.

    THANK YOU SUSAN – your book is FANTASTIC!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Stephanie! That was beautiful. Pear Cider would have been a great name for the book! Yes, I do remember those early, dark winter mornings! Lighting all the candles during the storms. I won’t ever forget it. xoxo

  2. Sheryl from Chico says:

    Dear Susan,
    It’s already August 6th so I don’t know if this will ever get read, but I must write something today. I sat down in my best chair and ottoman, a glass of ice water and started to read A Fine Romance. We spend Summer up in the mountains and I could not wait to come home to find the novel I knew should be there. Your writing is captivating. I never expected to love it so much. You kinda’ had me at hello. Also, I was disappointed at first because I thought I remembered you writing that you would sign each copy. I couldn’t find the signature and I was a little bummed. Then…I found it….your signature…it really means a lot to me that you signed my little ole copy. Thank you and thanks for putting your heart into your book.

    Your #1332nd fan…forever. Sheryl

  3. Janet [in Rochester] says:

    FYI – just want to let you know that in the Appendix, the link for “National Trust Holiday Cottages” actually leads to a page on driving in the UK. :>)

  4. Marie in Lake Arrowhead, CA says:

    I arrived at our village post office last Friday afternoon to find a yellow card in my box — package waiting for me. Unfortunately the post office counter had already closed for the day. So, bright and early Monday I was at the post office to “redeem” my yellow card. When Craig, our postal clerk handed me the box and I saw your return address, I said “Oh, I have been waiting for this…”

    Upon returning home, I immediately opened the package, sat down and started to read your “love story.” This book is a treasure, and is bringing back so many wonderful memories of the trips my husband and I enjoyed in England before his passing. We traveled to many of the same places that you and Joe did.

    Thank you for sharing A Fine Romance with all of your Girl Friends!!!!!!

  5. Jack says:

    At Paradise Island in the Bahamas, you can stay for $99.00 per night! A perfect getaway for you and Joe to take a brief respite for about a week to recharge your batteries, prior to striking out on this cross country, book-signing tour!

    • sbranch says:

      A vacation before the vacation? I promise Dad, we’re leaving space for play on the cross country trip — antique stores are ON the radar! How can I leave Jack and Girl now and then leave them again in a couple more weeks? Can’t do it! xoxo Paradise Island does sound nice!

  6. Cathy McC. says:

    You have brought so much of England to us all. Can’t thank you enough. Lucy and I finally have had two separate occasions to begin THE BOOK together, and now we are lazily drifting through it on our own — using cute little Susan post-its to mark things we simply HAVE TO share with each other. You have such a gift with words and a paint brush — I’m sure you count your blessings! That’s something I do each night, and you are one of them. Hope our paths cross at a book signing! (Can’t tell you how excited we were to open THE BOOK and find your signed sticker within. JOY!) Hugs, Ethel

    • sbranch says:

      Thanks so much my friend Ethel! Oh yes, counting my blessings is one of the secrets of the happy gene! 🙂 Right?

  7. Natalie Wise says:

    Susan, dearest! How lovely this all is, how absolutely marvelous! BIGGEST congratulations to you on this latest book. And my, my, I simply MUST try this cake recipe for tea some day soon. I already have the lavender!
    Very best wishes from the Tudor homestead in Vermont!

  8. Aggie says:

    I received my books (one is for Christmas present for friend). I spent my time going over the outside and inside of the cover first, just looking over the beautiful artwork before delving into the beauty inside. I am about 1/2 way through and completely enjoying all of it…..thank you for adding the red ribbon kitty toy – I have to hide it when reading as it has already been attacked 🙂

  9. Susan,
    Got back this weekend from teaching a workshop to find my book in the mailbox!!!!! Yippee!!!! I spent Sunday afternoon in bed reading and soaking it all in. My greatgrandfather was from Cottonham, England. I have never been but your book was like a mini vacation and I didn’t have to wait in line at all! Beautifully done! I’ve ordered several of the books you mentioned for my Kindle already and some I need to order the real book. I’ve found the flour in my grocery store and so I will be trying out the recipes for cake and cookies too. Thank you for a lovely experience.

  10. pat addison ( cave junction,OR) says:

    good morning girlfriends and good morning Susan. just popped in to let you all know WE GOT RAIN!!! we have a light rain with our thunderstorms so its a help. with over 65% of firefighters battling not only the fires but poison ivy this rains spells a break for them, now if we could cure the itchy problem. thanks for all the good thoughts, crossed fingers and prayers and lets keep it going for heavier rain and no lightning strikes anywhere. hugs everyone…. 🙂

  11. Cindy in South Carolina says:

    I see that you will still be on the Vineyard when the Obamas are there – I hope they do not interfere with your book signings – or perhaps they will come?! Your van is really spiffy. 🙂

  12. sondra fox says:

    YAAAHHH, YAAAHHH, YAAAHHH, I got your book yesterday, “A Fine Romance.” I have lots of books, ’cause I’m an avid reader, but I’ve never had such a unique, beautiful book! It’s just so WONDERFUL Susan. I just LOVE it. I told you my husband, Larry, passed away last week. I’ve been working on all the things that need to be done when a loved one passes. Very little time for reading right now, but I made myself a promise to read each page as I go along, not peeking into the rest of the pages until I’m able to read them. I want to savor the book. And, I don’t want to get it wet from all the tears I’ve been shedding. Just saying I miss Larry, cannot describe the sorrow I’m feeling. I did read a few of the first pages of your book, telling of the beginning of your romance with Joe. So romantic. I know you are supposed to be right where you two are in life, doing exactly what you’re supposed to do & be. How wonderful that you found one another. It wasn’t luck, you know. You two were made to be in a place where you could meet. God made you for one another. That’s the way my husband & I felt about our relationship, that we were promised to one another,
    straight from heaven. Your time together is magical, as you’ve written in your book. It’s the most WONDERFUL, ENCHANTING book I’ve ever held in my hands. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENT. I SHALL CERISH YOUR BOOK FOREVER. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much for taking time to write and tell me Sandy! I think of you every day. I love the way you celebrate your life with Larry. I’m trying to do the same thing with Joe. Life is much too short, and we just never know. Want to do it right. Like You. xoxo

      • sondra fox says:

        Dear Susan, You & Joe have the formula for a happy marriage alright! From all I’ve read, as well as the pictures you print for all of us, you’re perfect for one another! Keep the love flowing.(Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  13. Deb from Dixie says:

    Me again….and ….My kitty B.K. ( aka “The Bean”…who became a blog friend of Jack the cat, the week Jack wrote blog comments, remember that fun post! )

    From “The Bean”………( she wanted to write a comment)

    Dear Susan……my Mom has been reading a new book and I have to say that she is behaving oddly………startling me as I try to nap. All of a sudden I hear laughter….I mean…big, loud laughs, then I see tears running down her face…..then a few minutes later, back to the laughter again….hard for a kitty to curl up on a lap and get a good nap, with all the commotion! Meow!
    And oddest of all, my Mom has started calling me …”Her Royal Highness B.K. the Bean from The Heart of Dixie.” Oh My!
    Just thought you would like to know, that “the book” is impacting more than humans.

    Hi to Jack ( swoon ….xoxox) and Girl!
    Your friend,

  14. Linda L says:

    My book came last Friday, and despite my best efforts to read it slowly and savor every bit, I finished it last night. I loved every page, and felt like I was cozy and quiet riding right along with you and Joe. He was such a patient driver too! My favorite bit was the Circus. It just sounded so homey and fun. Especially the part of more terriers than tigers! Thanks for such a wonderful book. I am sure I will read it again and again.
    Hugs from
    Linda Lancaster in Texas

    • sbranch says:

      The circus was utterly charming. (I don’t say words like utterly very often, so you know I mean it! 🙂 ) Thank you Linda!

  15. Patricia says:

    This is a favorite FB Page of mine and since today is “Bea’s Birthday”, I am sending this off to you – couldn’t find any other way to do it except copy and paste. copy and paste the link and you should find the letter itself – with cute rowboat illustration on the paper.

    The Morgan Library & Museum

    Beatrix Potter sent this sweet letter to a little boy named Noel Moore 117 years ago today. You can read the entire letter, and many others, in our online exhibition:

  16. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Hi Susan. Just got an email to say my books are winging their way north. So excited. I will be haunting the mailbox. Not sure how they’re being shipped but just so glad that they are. I found out our local LCBO has Pimm’s One cup and three brands of Pear Cider. I will be sure to have some on hand for the big arrival. Simply can’t wait. Bonus – I also ordered All Good News and its coming too.

    • sbranch says:

      That should keep you busy for a while, Elaine! Hope it all gets there soon! Enjoy your peah-ci-da!

  17. TJ in VA says:

    Hi Susan,

    Although I’m thoroughly enjoying all the comments about your book, I’m starting to get concerned that my book may be lost in the mail. I received an email that the book shipped on August 1, but it has not arrived yet in northern VA. Is there a way to track the shipment?

    I’m more than anxious after reading comments from all across the USA…

    • sbranch says:

      So sorry TJ — we can try! When you ordered, you were given an order number in an email. You can respond to that email and Kellee or Sherie can try to check on it for you. OR, go to any shopping page and at the bottom there’s a customer service phone number for the studio.

  18. Doris P from Santa Rosa CA says:

    I am so happy to join the party — I received my book in the mail today!! It’s just beautiful… every page is so beautiful. I could not wait to begin reading the first chapter about how you and Joe met (and it’s indeed very romantic), while having a cup of tea in my favorite cup with the sheep on it from Scotland. I’m so looking forward to reading in detail about all the beautiful places you and Joe (and we) traveled to. I so love the signed bookplate that you took the time to do for us. Thank you so much for this book. It’s a work of art and love and I will treasure it.

    • sbranch says:

      Glad you got it Doris … slowly I think the books are all getting to their new homes! I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  19. Laura Anne says:

    Susan, would you or any of the girlfriends be willing to post the link to the “A Fine Romance” bookmark? I meant to save it so that I could print it out, but I forgot to!

    Thanks so much xoxo

  20. Cindy Tuning says:

    Good Morning Sue! Right now I’m sitting on a porch of an estate sale that will open in about 2 1/2 hrs. There’s a lamp I want so I’m here before the sun comes up to be the first one in. Crazy,right? I am so loving the book but am savoring it bit by bit as much as my excitement will allow. Right now we’re in Bilbury and and you’re looking at all the beautiful flowers(roses). My favorite place so far. We didn’t see any of these places on our other two trips. We just weren’t traveling with the right people! Next time we’ll know!! I have never felt so in the moment as I do in your book. Just like I’m there without the bobbing up and down for 5 days or the nervous pre-med before I can even think about getting on a plane. It’s just breathtaking!!

  21. ElFe says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I was so excited to get THE book that all I could write was that, “I got it!” No dawdling for me (life is short, “eat dessert first!”) so I began to read immediately. WOW! Please don’t ask me what time I got to bed that night–I couldn’t put it down and I didn’t even try. Now I go back to re-visit.
    I loved the photos, the drawings, the countryside, the pubs, the architecture, the sailings–JUST EVERYTHING.
    I was so glad to see that you brought Petey. My husband, Richard, and I have a small bear named, Leavenworth, we picked up on our first trip together in Leavenworth, Washington. Leavenworth is quite the reader, but slightly myopic–he has to wear glasses that keep falling off–but he loves traveling to all the exciting places we visit. (So far he’s been more places than my grown children.)
    But, for me the best part of the book was the “touchstones” you bought or just saved to bring home (the feather, the photos, the special book you splurged on, etc.)–all the pieces of your trip to remind you of where you’d been and what you’d seen and done. We do the same thing whenever we travel, no matter how small the trip. Richard calls them my “little cutes.” Don’t you just love coming upon them and immediately the memory flashes and you are there all over again, time after time for years and years?
    So to end this long narrative (if I can ever get myself to stop raving) are you going to be doing any book signings in New England about mid-September? I am traveling there from Oregon and it might be my chance to meet you and have you sign my darling book (plus all the others I will gladly ship to my friends’ home in honor of the occasion). Oh, I hope so.
    One final thought: after seeing your latest work, I cannot fathom the hours and hours of toil, commitment, and love it took to HAND WRITE EACH AND EVERY PAGE! Thank you, thank you–always and always for brightening our days in so many ways–the books you labor over, the items you gather for our homes, the cheerful energy you send to enrich us. You are truly the sun in a sometimes tiresome and
    dreary world and a positive force in our lives.

    • sbranch says:

      So sweet of you Elaine, thank you!! We’ll be driving across country in September, not in New England anymore, I’m afraid. We might be going to Oregon in Oct. Watch the EVENTS on the blog as we add new dates. xoxo

  22. Janie Phillips says:

    My copy of A Fine Romance arrived just as I was leaving for the airport to pick up my son and daughter-in-law, so I’ve had to be VERY patient about waiting to read it! I was going to wait until I finish it to tell you how much I love it, but I’m making it last as long as I possibly can, and I can’t wait that long to tell you! I sit down and read a little at a time, savoring it, knowing that when I put it down I’ll have a smile in my heart.

    Of course, I didn’t wait to fly to the pages with the pictures of the Bon Voyage banner, and, to borrow a phrase from you, all I could think was, “How can that BE?” To see the banner and my name with its own little star in your book, well, WHAT A THRILL!!! I have no doubt I’ll be opening the book to those pages and thinking, “How can that BE?” for the rest of my life! Thank you, Sue, for such a thrill and for this wonderful book that I’m reading with my entire heart. A Fine Romance is going to be a gift to the world for a very long time. It’s a wonderful thing you’ve done and we’re all blessed to be sharing the joy!

    Love you,

    • sbranch says:

      It’s just the normal way of connection to things, I don’t know how I found you, or you found me, but it’s a good thing! Thank you so much Janie!

      • Janie Phillips says:

        I have such a clear memory of finding you, even though it was more than a quarter of a century ago. I picked up a lovely book called “Days from the Heart of the Home” and my heart did a little thumpety-thump. You’ve been part of my life ever since, but I never could have imagined that you would find me back. That must have required some divine intervention 🙂 xoxo

  23. Sonya Hewes says:

    I just can’t tell you how thrilled I am reading this book. I’m trying to do it sloooooowly to savor every word and every picture. Loving it!
    I sure wish Alaska was on your book signing trip, but I know that’s probably a crazy thought.
    I am loving some of the coincidences in your book. Alaska’s state flower is the Forget-Me-Not, so I was excited to see that in your book. And then when you talked about Charleston and Lewes in East Sussex, I used to live in Delaware for three years and my son was born in Lewes, DE, which just happens to be in Sussex County!

    Have a wonderful day and have an awesome trip!

  24. Patricia says:

    I enjoyed this blog very much and look forward to reading your latest book. But can’t resist telling you that we have a granddaughter who just turned 2 years old and her name is Aquinnah. When she gets a little older I think we just might take her to the Aquinnah Shop.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a popular name here on the island. James Taylor’s niece is Aquinnah too. Very beautiful!

  25. Barbara in So.Cal says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just returned from a 5 week stay in Italy. While I was away the calendar I
    ordered was sent back to you (human error) grrrrr. Fortunately your spectacular book escaped the same fate. I love the size, the smell, the sweet little red ribbon and the very special autographed plate. Your book is a masterpiece. Between episodes of jet lag, I have started reading it but I will take my time finishing it so that I can savor every detail. I love that it is filled with so many wonderful pictures. You gave this project your absolute all. Reading all of the beautiful comments you must feel immense satisfaction. I
    just want to register my gratitude and a million thank you’s to you and everyone
    else who helped give this book life.

  26. Kathy Korb says:

    Just love your art! The colors and everything about it! Thank you! Looking forward to your new book. I have been reading you blog for awhile and love it! and Willard too! Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Tremendous!

  27. Wendy (Redsoxgal5) says:

    Loved it, I felt like clapping at the end so you could take a bow! It was the perfect trip! It was delightful, just charming. The hand written pages were just so personal, and your paintings were perfection! I paint too, I love watercolors, they just seem so close to me when I do them, just a little drawing, painted to remember something. Your pages were just like that!
    I shared your blog awhile back, and Twitter name with Susan B Anderson, the knitter/author.She had put a photo up of her garden, with a little white fence. I told her about yours… while she had all your books, she didn’t know about the blog and Twitter, so she connected with you right then.. remember she wrote me the day it arrived how did I get it so fast? Cute, love sharing great things!
    I was just diagnosed with MS, your book got me thought those first days, it was just what I needed to get my mind somewhere else!
    Good luck on the book tour, wish you were somewhere around Boston!. But, it’s not over yet, so it still may happen! …safe travels!

    • sbranch says:

      The good thing is Boston is close — I’m sure we’ll be there. And you, so sorry about the diagnosis ~ and possible challenges it will bring for you, but thank God for modern medicine. What they can do now. Stay in touch Wendy! xoxo

      • Wendy (Redsoxgal5) says:

        Thank you, I will, I start my new medicine tomorrow, so fingers crossed it helps! Here’s to great weekend! xx

        • sbranch says:

          I’m sure it will. You sound so positive Wendy, you know that’s the key and the secret and the trick to everything. xoxo

  28. Cynthia says:

    Hi Susan,
    Ever since I received your wonderful book in the mail I have been devouring little bits of it each day…when I read the part about your ” crossing” it made me want to book a passage right away! When I got to the part where you set off driving ” on the wrong side of the road” I read it aloud to my husband because it was so funny and made us both reme,bee similar episodes of driving in England. We are already planning a spring trip where we retrace some of your footsteps . So excited! Thank you for ths treasure.
    Cynthia in Oregon

  29. Kristi Leach says:


    What a delight your book is! I spent a couple of days reading it in little snatches while catching up with usual household chores– one of the ways to make chores less of a chore–anyway, I LOVE THIS BOOK! Everything about it: the writing, the optimism, the hand-lettering, the artwork, the humor (lots and lots of laughing out loud), the charm, ENGLAND itself. (Been there for 11 days once, and would LOVE to go back!) And I’m so jealous that we don’t have doves here that say, “My TOE huts Bettee”!!!! I’ve been listening to our doves and trying to figure out what they are saying, but so far no luck.

    Thank you! I’ll be reading A Fine Romance again and again, laughing at all the usual spots. Looking forward to your next book. Where, oh where, will you travel to- for inspiration for the next volume?

    Any chance of you coming to Colorado for a book signing? We’re on the way between New England and California! Denver or some north suburbs would be great!

    Many blessings,

  30. Lori says:

    I received my copy of your book last weekend and I fell in love with it! Thank you Susan for sharing your remarkable journey with us.

  31. Robbie Hall Raker in Texas says:

    While I haven’t commented in quite a while, I do check in regularly. I’m always inspired and tickled when I read your blog. To be honest, I’d forgotten that I pre-ordered your book – A Fine Romance. Glad I had forgotten because it was a great ‘surprise’ when it was delivered! It’s simply LOVERLY… no, it’s B-E-A-U-TIFULl. Job well done, Ms Branch! And of course, kudos to Mr. Hall for his inspiration! (I have an affinity for Joe, I think because my maiden name is Hall – plus he seems like pretty much the practically perfect man!)

    Now, if you’d only drive that van further south….say Houston, TX….
    Best, Robbie

  32. Gail Marie says:

    When are you coming to NYC? Pretty please.

  33. Carolyn says:

    Book is absolutely fabulous, cannot put it down, love everything about this book, luv ribbon, I really believe that when I finish reading this book I will be so sad not to be able to read anymore of it I will just have start over and read again- luv and cherish this master piece. Want to know where are the I LOVE SUSAN BRANCH tee shirts, I want a Susan branch tee with one of your quotes and some art work printed on. I would love this- you are precious and what a delight you are for all of us girlfriends-

  34. Sonya Hewes says:

    I just can’t tell you how thrilled I am reading this book. I’m trying to do it sloooooowly to savor every word and every picture. Loving it!
    I sure wish Alaska was on your book signing trip, but I know that’s probably a crazy thought.
    I am loving some of the coincidences in your book. Alaska’s state flower is the Forget-Me-Not, so I was excited to see that in your book. And then when you talked about Charleston and Lewes in East Sussex, I used to live in Delaware for three years and my son was born in Lewes, DE, which just happens to be in Sussex County!

    Have a wonderful day and have an awesome trip!

  35. Monica says:

    I got your book yesterday, right when I needed a treat (it always happens that the most gorgeous of surprises arrive in the mail when I do need them the most!).
    It is pure delight indeed, and living here in England now, makes me even happier to have this little jewel of a book on our book shelves. Of course we will try the recipes, and your lavender cake immediately caught my attention as I have lavender right from the local lavender farm here in the Cotswolds- it was magical to see it in full bloom, and it smells amazing!
    Now my only problem with your book is that if I want something be done, I must stop reading it and oohing and aahing at every single line!
    Thanks for bringing such joy into our home.
    Monica xo
    P.S. I’m sure my hubby will borrow it, he says for the yummy recipes… 🙂
    P.S.2 Loove the red ribbon!
    P.S.3 I SO loved the part about the similaritioes between Beatrix Potter and you! So now we are three 🙂 xo

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, now we are three. LOL 🙂 I love the book being in England, as I’m sure you can guess! Thank you Monica! xoxo

  36. Karen from Michigan, Carpenter says:

    Good evening Susan,

    Could not go another day without telling you how much I am enjoying your book. “A Fine Romance”. What a fantastic story. I was with you on your journey in my head and heart but this books makes feel I am there with you and Joe. Love the story of you and Joe meeting! Your apartemnt in Tenterden must have been so enchanting! I also always thought we were like sisters since we have so many likes and siuch in common and now wonder if we are twins. My birthday is also in April and we were born the same year! Small world!

    Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this journey.


    Karen Carpenter

  37. ann says:

    i wanted to let you know how much i enjoyed reading your book. i had a week off from work so i spent my mornings reading outside with a cup of coffe and it was WONDERFUL! the quiet mornings with only the birds singing around me. i even had a hummingbird come see what i was doin. anyway, i loved the book and can’t wait to read it again!
    i also can’t wait til i can order some tea from your shop! I’m not a tea drinker but i think i’ll give it a try………

  38. Christine says:

    Susan will you have copies of your new book at your sighnings? because I see it doesn’t come out until Sept 28 and the sighning is Sept 7 or do you have to order on line ?

    • sbranch says:

      They came in early, so the pub date is now August 15, and all the stores we’re going to will have them.

  39. Janet Bowers says:

    Susan, My hunny ordered your new book for me on the sly. It was here within 5 “daze”. I am reading it slowly like a chocolate bar. Thank you. I lost my sister in March. She was just 60 and I don’t even know where spring is but I guess it sneaked by. Its been 5 monthes and I think I am starting to smile again. Thank you again for taking me on holiday. Life without a sister is like having no color. Your book has brought the crayons back. xoxo janet

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Janet, I’m sure, everything must be a blur. My heart cries for you. Thank you for the kind words, I know your sister would be so happy to hear that. Missing her with you xoxo

  40. Barbara says:

    Today I finished reading your absolutely, wonderful new book. I felt transported every time I opened up ” A Fine Romance” and isn’t that a mark of a truly great read ?! I’ve been to England several times but that was over 30 years ago. You made me feel like I was there yesterday and how much I want to return.
    I am so grateful that back in the mid 1980’s, when I was a young bride, I received a Better Homes and Garden catalog of cookbooks and such. That is where I purchased your first cookbook and fell in love with your drawings, simply delicious recipes and whimsical thoughts and sayings. I feel so fortunate to experience your simple zest for life.
    Most importantly I want to know if there is any possible way that Joe could be cloned ? Because if there is, I’m putting a “For Sale” sign on my husband as we speak.
    Wishing you a safe and fun filled book signing journey.

  41. sherrill says:

    Dear Susan,
    I plan on making the Polenta Cake and I do have all of the ingredients, but in the actual receipt, it calls for 5 1/4 C. Of Almond flour, but the photo of it being made shows you ( or someone else ) just pouring the Almond flour right out of the bag. Is the amount correct from the bag? I hope so….I only have the one bag on hand today!! Hope to hear from you soon. I am so looking forward to trying this; it sounds fabulous!
    Thanks so much!
    I just love reading your blogs and going to your website. OBTW, I ordered the tea tins ( one with tea) and they are on their way!!! So looking forward to having them.
    Take good care and be safe..

    • sbranch says:

      Printed on the bag was the measurement of the contents, but I can’t remember if it was exactly 5 and 1/4 c. or maybe a bit more. I know you’ll love this cake though! Thank you Sherrill!

  42. sherrill says:

    Dear Susan,
    Well, today was a lovely day! Our friend, Julie, came for a visit. I knew she was coming fir it had been planned earlier in the week. Yesterday I made the Polenta Cake ( what alot of batter…had to use a really big mixing bowl ) and used a depression glass cake plate to put it on….it looked lovely! Today I made the Onion Pudding and served it with slices of ham and Turkey. We ate around noon time and then had tea and Polenta Cake a bit later in the afternoon.
    Julie and I try to get together once a month and it’s always such a lovely time.
    I was able to set a pretty table today, which I enjoyed doing so much. You see, I used to have tea get-togethers quite frequently, but then had a bout with cancer and chemo, which left me without a lot of energy. Yesterday after making the cake and today after making the Onion pudding, my husband did up all the dishes, which he always does anyway ( much appreciated ). I guess the point of this rather long note is just to tell you how very much we enjoyed those dishes!! And I loved being able to do it for my dear friend…….she is British, by the way.
    : ) . And thank you for both of those receipts!
    Take good care, Susan, and be safe on your way home.
    P.S. My husband and I have 8 children, by the way. : )

    • sbranch says:

      Oh my goodness Sherrill, that’s good enough reason to be tired anyway! I’m so happy you’re better and still giving, which is pretty obviously your nature. Sounds like a wonderful tea. xo

  43. Susan P. says:

    Oh Susan, I had to go back into the archives, for the Polenta cake… I needed the pictures and I have been on the hunt for the Almond Flour and Corn Flour… couldn’t remember the name of the flour you used. I found It… Bob’s Red Mill and to my great and wonderful surprise our store is now carrying Bob’s Red Mill Products…not all of them…but I figured if our store is then some of the other stores will have them also. Thanks for keeping these archives up for this one has really helped me. I am to bake the cake this Thursday (Insert your ON NO face)…I am having an Estate Tea for my daughters and grandbabies and some other friends…My Aunt Agatha had to go to a home (102) for she was starting to fall more and other medical needs that we couldn’t and didn’t know how to handle. So her wonderful and interesting home is being sorted out…I have been blessed with her books (over a 1000)and some odds and ends and I am having tea and the girls get to take anything they want. Matter of fact I am using most of your recipes…trying some new ideas…(insert your OH NO face Again) I am using my family and friends as test tasters..hahahaha… Your recipes are great it is the baker (ME) that I am worried about… hopefully I do not leave anything out..I will let you know how it went….Thanks again for keeping these post up. Love, Susan P.

    • sbranch says:

      OH YES Susan — what a fun idea for a party! You will love the cake, it’s really amazingly easy and just delicious. Blessings on your Aunt Agatha.

      • Susan P. says:

        Hi Susan,

        (OOOPPPS INSERT,) Just so how long this was you might want to get a cup of tea….hahaha
        Well my Estate Tea was an adventure….but a success!!! Everyone loved the Plolenta Cake (I made it in the 12″ Cast Iron skillet ) and there were only 9 adults…and they even went back for seconds…served fresh cream with it (that I made). Made your Lemon Squares and they all raved about them…they really did say this “The best lemon squares they have ever had, none of that gooey jelled stuff on top..just the right amount of dough and GREAT Lemon flavor” and I also made the Basil Lemonade (with Oranges) THEY LOVED IT AND I WAS SENT BACK TO THE KITCHEN TO MAKE ANOTHER BATCH SSSOOOOO GOOODDD. When we all sat down for the tea I told them that these 3 recipes were from you. My girls were all excited (for they have your books) and were my best critics… The adventure was finding the Flour …yes my store has Bob’s Red Mill but not what I needed. Only in Pasadena and it was 5PM Rush Hour, my husband took me (I am sure because he loves me…not that we were going to BRISTOL FARMS, HIS FAVORITE STORE) haha..and after spending $$$$$ we had a blast. I got up early the next day and started the baking….I had the computer on in the front room and I kept running back and forth to make sure everything looked like your pictures. I was so tense couldn’t understand…I wanted things to work out just right…dropped an egg on the floor..didn’t put the lid on the blender tight when I superfined the sugar..(achoo) and had flour and juice spill…. OH MY….I FORGOT TO PUT MY CHRISTMAS MUSIC ON…..things calmed down and the cake went in the oven. Now seriously my real problem was…I baked it at 325 for 45 min …checked it …it was brown on the edges and somewhat firm…but in the center and about 2 inches out it would not set up. I baked it for another 10 min…still not setting up…another 10 and still soft that my finger left an imprint…one more 10 min….OH NO SMELT THAT TERRIBLE SMELL OF BURNED FOOD. Took it out and only had to cut the edges off….when my lovely husband saw it he said it looked like a rat was nibbling at it. OOOHHHH. Of course it was the conversation of the afternoon. I had a taste test before they came and it looked like your pictures and it tasted so good and not dry at all very moist …my question would the cake have set up even if I took it out at the 45 min or was pan to deep? or was my oven off, NO I baked the lemon squares after, they came out done and right on time…
        My daughter thought 325 was to low and has anyone baked it at 350 ? I know you are very busy but any suggestions would help as it is going to be a favorite now for my teas. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE RECIPES AND ALL THE PICTURES …IT REALLY MADE MY BAKING ALLOT EASIER. LOL ( this time it stands for… LOTS OF LOVE, Susan P. xoxo

        • sbranch says:

          Hmmm, thinking. I make mine in a 12 inch cast iron skillet too, and so far it’s always come out good, I usually leave it in for the full 50 minutes, but no longer. The only thing I can think of is if the oven was preheated enough? I know it’s a silly question, but it’s hard to think what else it can be. I would wonder about the calibration of the stove, except for the lemon squares that came out right. I’m happy it tasted good, and maybe the whipped cream hid the rat bites! The tea sounds like it was wonderful, good job Susan!

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