Crazy with Joy . . .

What kind of a crazy person would EVER update her blog if she knew that the previous post would work itself down and become part of internet never-never land?  I really don’t know.  But she would probably like MUSICA when she did it . . .

 As you may have been able to tell, I’ve had a hard time forcing myself to post something new.  I never want to let go of that pool of light called “comments” from that last post!   Before last week I never knew for sure what you might think of A FINE ROMANCE.  Of course I did my best, but self-criticism is one of my middle names (I have other nicer middle names, like cake-baker and cat-feeder).  I’ve been on cloud nine ever since the very first one of you got our book.  Thank you Girlfriends, for your thoughts, lovely words and sentiments.  You, who bought the book even when I was still writing it, sight unseen, because you had faith in me.  I don’t know what to say, I’m so touched.

And today I found out we already have NINE reviews for our book on Amazon, and I KNOW that has to be you girls, because no one has the book so far, but you!  I’m so happy you like it, hap-hap-happy!  It’s like giving your niece a sweater at Christmas and finding out SHE LIKES IT.  You know how good that feels?  Well, times that by a million, and you almost know how happy I am.  Doing this book with you has been a pure treat!  Better than I ever imagined.  So much more fun for me.  I wasn’t alone.  Everything felt good.  Thank you Thank you!  Pretty soon we hit the road, driving across country state to state, where I hope to meet as many of you as possible.  We leave the island at the end of August.  And the clock is ticking!

Our book seems to have started without us . . . this is a photo from Kathy, one of our girlfriends, who took her book up to the gorgeous Mt. Washington Hotel ~ a place I went one time and found some of my dreams. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see the book out on vacation!  She told me she read it while sitting in a rocking chair on that gorgeous porch with the fragrance of the New Hampshire mountains all around!  Lucky book and lucky Kathy!

So here it is, in case you haven’t seen it, here’s our Fine Romance van, all decorated for the trip.  We put a photo of the English Countryside on it!  I think it’s cute, but Joe is still in eye-roll mode.  It’s good we are balanced. 

Please keep your eye on “EVENTS” (in the right-hand column of this blog) to see where it will be stopping and come see us!  Be sure to print out your Girlfriend Name Tags . . . we also have them for the boys now ♥.  They’re on the Events page too.  And we’re still adding bookstores; we have a long way to go, so keep the faith that we will be somewhere relatively (compared to here anyway) near you. ♥  Our first booksigning is on Martha’s Vineyard, next week, the 15th of August at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore ~ where I had my first book signing ever, all those years ago . . . 

So what else?  Well, I designed the covers for our 2015 Calendars so they could be ready for insert into the manufacturer’s catalog while we’re away.  Yes, 2015!  I thought you might like a preview of the wall calendar ( up there )  Pink!  (And yes, I designed a new Blotter for 2015 too!)  This is why I never know what year it is!  I hope you all got your 2014 calendars, cuz it’s 2013 and time to do that!

Besides that, I’ve been getting things ready for us to go. Cleaning the house, getting it ready for winter actually, because that’s what it will be when we get back home, and we will want it cozy.  We even ordered firewood!  I’m spending extra time hugging the kitties and shooting the rubber band for Jack.  I also updated the I LOVE ENGLAND part of the blog and added our visit to the wonderful house in Chawton where Jane Austen lived and wrote.  I wanted to make sure she got some of the prime real estate of love.   And look what else I found . . .

Joe’s Hat!  They just came in . . . the perfect stocking stuffer!  Isn’t my model adorable?  We got them in a couple of colors . . . I wear berets too, they are cozy and warm and do the job for our winters, but I have to admit, they look cutest on Joe!

And something else new arrived the other day (I do believe in continuous small treats!) ~ something I think you will love too . . .

 Here’s the mock up I made of it with glue and paper . . .

And now, the real thing!  In my time I have very rarely had something manufactured!  Being as small as we are, all the paperwork and time involved makes it prohibitive, plus they have “minimums” which means you have to order a gazillion of anything, and like I said, we are small.  But I started thinking about my favorite tea, and thinking, I need a cute tea tin, and thinking, I’m going to get one made!   And here it is, the very first one, hot off the press.

Here’s the top.

and here’s the side . . .

. . . and here it is on top of my stove.   Then I thought, even though this Tea Tin would work great for cookies, crackers, coffee, marshmallows or just about anything, we probably need some actual TEA for it.  And because I’m partial to my Lavender and Roses Dessert Tea . . .

. . . because, for one thing, it looks like it comes right out of the garden!  So Joe looked around and he found a tea company that would allow me develop my own blend and soon, very soon, bags of this delicious loose tea I took with me to England and described in our book, will be coming into the studio.  I drink my Lavender and Roses “Fine Romance” Earl Grey tea in one of my favorite cups almost every day at 4 pm.  It is the perfect afternoon tea, because with a little honey and some half and half, it’s just like dessert.

“The heart-opening, wink-tippling” tea tradition I love. 

And this is another one . . . my “every-day” tea which we will also be carrying in the web store.  This is the tea I drink every morning.  I like my every-day tea be organic, which is more expensive, but I get it anyway, because as much as I drink of this tea, I think it’s better for my health.  It’s a delicious Earl Grey, with organically grown cornflowers.

We’ll have two kinds of tea in six ounce bags, tucked into the tin ~ OR, if someone just wants one or the other, the teas and the tin will be sold separately.  I’m not really planning to go into the tea business, just these two kinds because they’re my favorites, and for a true lover of tea, I think they would make the perfect gift, either for a friend or for YOU.  (I may not be in the tea business, but I’m definitely in the gift business! 🙂 )

The tins and the tea should be in by the end of September … or is it August?  I forget, we’ll let you know for sure.  My sample Tin is all packed up and ready for the trip! I know I got carried away taking pictures!  It’s actually worse if you’re here, because I take that tin to every room I’m in!  Not used to it yet!  It looks good with the book. 🙂

But to change the subject for a moment, and get us out of the house . . . let’s go up island to the famous old Aquinnah Shop where Joe and I went the other night to watch the sun set . . . past the wonderful rock walls that line the roads . . .

And the beautiful farms overlooking the sea.  It’s been gorgeous these first weeks of August, cool and clear, good sleeping weather, really almost like fall . . .

We left home without a plan, just meandering, and stopped at the Chilmark Church near Beetlebung Corner when we saw the sign out front for their church-made lobster rolls.  We ate them in the car while we drove along.

Lots of people don’t realize how much of the island is just open space . . .

This is the view from our parking space in Aquinnah!

And here’s the view from Joe’s car window…

See where we are?  All the way to the very left side of this map.

We needed to grab hold of as much summer as possible, and this certainly was the night to get some!

A gorgeous sunset.

And now, Girlfriends, we’re almost all caught up … just one more little thing to show you . . .

I told you I’d joined the Beatrix Potter Society, right?  I got an envelope from England the other day . . . You can scroll down in POTTERING ABOUT, and you’ll see they wrote about our book.

We’re now proud card-carrying members and expecting our first Journal and Newsletter in October.  Just one more something to look forward to when we get home.

OK, must go Girlfriends, errands to do today!  Hope you have a terrific day.  I’ve loved every moment of our book writing adventure.  Thank you so much for everything.  Speaking of making dreams come true . . .   XOXO

Ooops, P.S! Rachel, OUR Rachel, sometimes known as Ray, sent this photo of our book actually IN England!!  She also Tweeted this to me today, “Anyone who has lost faith in humanity should RUN to your blog & read the comments.  Amazing women!  Brilliant stuff…xo”

I tweeted back: xo I have known this forever, because of letters I’ve gotten and always had faith because of it. This is the REAL world.

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879 Responses to Crazy with Joy . . .

  1. Gail Buss says:

    Dear Susan………..couldn’t wait any longer – even though my granddaughter is here and I’m trying to give her all my attention, I finally opened it and was thrilled with the signed book plate. Love your love story with Joe. Also, everything you are writing about the Queen Mary II reminds me of our trip on the same ship from Southhampton when we visited Ireland and all the relatives in Belfast. Thank you for all of it. I snatch a few pages here and there when I can. I know I will read this book many, many times. I love the ribbon bookmark too. It’s just beautiful and amazing. On another know, I absolutely love the tin you will be having for sale. I love tins and that is what we keep our tea in except ours is old and battered and says “Tetley” on it. But, it still keeps our tea nice and fresh. The lavendar/earl gray tea sounds delish too. Have a wonderful time on your trip. Will be thinking of you and praying for your safe journey. Hugs to you both, Gail & Joe Buss xoxo

  2. judi says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to JOE, you kid:) Hope your day has been a fun one.

    Sue, I thought today was your first signing….then I checked…ah, tomorrow. All the best for a delightful, full house, lots of sales and smiles day at your signing. Are you going to have your new adorable tea tin there??? You should, with a list for presales:))) Hope you let us know how things went. Hugs, judi

  3. Vicki S. says:

    Susan: Lucky me … the postman delivered “A Fine Romance” just a few hours before we hit the road for a long summer car trip as we scouted colleges for my daughter. Began page one as we pulled out of the driveway and I immediately became immersed in jolly old England — I could feel the misty rains, close my eyes and imagine those grand views of the Lake District (Windermere and Grasmere are never far from my mind’s eye), savor the Pimm’s Cups, and remember my own thrill as I first crossed the threshold of an Emma Bridgwater shop (one of everything, please).

    All motherly obligations were shirked and I didn’t surface until I turned the final page about 6 hours later. It was a mini-vacation while rolling on down the highway.

    I have loved your books since I first picked up Vineyard Seasons at Bunch of Grapes bookshop while visiting Martha’s Vineyard 20 years ago. You have been my true companion over these years … cooking with me, celebrating life’s special moments, saluting girlfriends, welcoming babies, toasting holidays, crossing off the days on the calendar and writing notes to friends on your stationery. But now, you have become more than a book friend … you’ve become a touchstone for me. Inspiration, co-conspirator in finding joy in all that life provides, and a solace in a too-busy world. All these are the definition of a friend and even if we never meet, you will still have made an equally meaningful impact on my life as have my “in the flesh” girlfriends. A million thanks to you, Susan, for a magical little book. I hope to get to a book-signing to thank you personally, but until then, please know how much I savored each word and every painting!
    P.S. You and I both know that somewhere, Miss Potter, is sending sunbeams down to thank you for what amounts to a sonnet in her honor!

    • sbranch says:

      Tears Vicki … we have been good girlfriends for each other … thank you for taking me along! I love the thought of the Miss Potter sunbeams because they go both ways. My girlfriend and I were lying in the sun yesterday, gorgeous day, cool wind and warm sun seeping into pale book-writer skin. I say,”Beatrix Potter would love this.” Just one more little afternoon, with the sun, birds, and wind. How lucky we are.

      • Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

        Good morning, Susan and Vicki ~
        Just had to say this exchange between the two of you warmed my heart so this morning. My sentiments, exactly.
        Wishing you the best today, Susan…you wouldn’t be normal if you weren’t a little nervous; but, really…you will be amongst all your best friends ~ loving and sharing your joy. I promise…there won’t be any hecklers to deal with :). Sending you and Vicki big hugs!

  4. Karen says:

    I got the call from Titcomb’s Bookshop in Sandwich that the two books I reserved for me and my friend were in their shop. I was thrilled and rushed to the store to get them. I couldn’t wait to get home to read it. I love the format that you used. As an artist I love illustrated books, and the way you designed this book is wonderful. I was reading this treasure, and just had to stop by and tell you how much I love the book.

    We’ll be at the book signing on Monday in Sandwich. Can’t wait to meet you.


  5. Patricia Strain says:

    I ALWAYS read your blogs, just got done with this one and lo and behold, the book I gave you was in the background of picture #5 after the (adorable) one of Joe!!! Makes me happy to know that you actually have it out!!!! I LOVE the book, I read it all in one night, my family heated up leftovers….I still have the “thank you” e mail you sent me, I can’t bear to part with it 🙂 I’m going to see if you will be near Indianapolis IN on your tour, I would LOVE to meet you.
    Thank you for all your inspiration and love. I read your books and get inspired every time I delve into one. I must say “Autumn” is my favorite

  6. Lucia says:

    Dear Susan, I’m currently on vacation in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Just finished reading “A Fine Romance.” I absolutely loved it! It is beautiful! I laughed hysterically when reading about the driving on the left side of the road! I totally could relate after living in England for two years back in the 80s.
    Susan, congratulations! Your book is a jewel and I want to order another one for my daughter who is now in Australia.
    I also would like to know when will you be signing books in the West Coast? I know you probably will be in San Luis Obispo or if you are going to be in the San Francisco Bay Area I would like to know when. I will be in Martha’s Vineyard the week of August 19th, so will drop by the Bunch of Grapes book store to see if I can buy another one of your books. The van looks terrific! Safe travels, and thank you for sharing your adventures.
    Thank you,

    • sbranch says:

      We are trying for Book Passages up in Corte Madera. And yes SLO, and some other places too. Thanks Lucy!

  7. MaryAnn says:

    I love the book! I have wanted to write and say thank you, but our computer went down the day before your book came. We just got our new computer up and running, and your blog was the first place I went. I just had to tell you how much I am enjoying it. It is beautiful and such a joy to read. It takes me back to when you (we!) were there and would post things for us to read. I had to make myself slow down, because I don’t want the book to end! But then I will read it again when it does. Also, I can hardly wait until your teas and tin arrive. I will be ordering both. You are so thoughtful to keep giving us special things to look forward to. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Susan. Blessings to you and Joe as you begin your travels.

  8. judi says:

    The Queen Mary 2 just came into the Haaaa ber. How appropriate, coming for your first signing:)

    • sbranch says:

      How perfect!

      • Elizabeth says:

        I certainly hope Cunard is carrying your wonderful book in their gift shops! Also the National Trust gift shops should be doing the same thing. Did I say “wonderful book”? I’m not sure that any words in our language go far enough to say just how wonderful it is!

  9. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Good luck to you on the first day of your book signings for A Fine Romance!!! I went to Mass this morning and prayed for you and Joe for good health and strength for today and all of your traveling days to follow! Have fun!!!

  10. Kathryn Oliberos says:

    Susan, I loved your book! It was all I expected and more. I tried to read it as slow as I could because I didn’t want it to be over. Now I’m going to go back and read it again. What an experience it was… being in England right along side of you and Joe. Thank you for all your hard work. It will be a treasure to keep on the night stand.

  11. Deborah Heater (Indiana) says:

    HAPPY 1st BOOKSIGNING SUSAN…..and HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE!!!! Have an absolutely “Over The Moon” day, and enjoy every second of the “moosh” from all your adoring fans!!!

  12. N. Jean says:

    So loved this post, looking forward to the tea and tea tin! Anxiously waiting for your next post.

  13. Joan Georghiou says:

    Hi Susan and Joe, Received my book today and it is beautiful! Much like your blog, it has already made me smile several times (love the story about your Mother)! I am restricting myself to several pages at a time to make the read last longer!

  14. Wendy Louise says:

    I wonder if you got this post? Happy Birthday to Joe and have a fantastic Book signing! You will be terrific! OX

  15. Ann Beirne says:

    I received my book on August 10, a wonderful birthday present to myself as my birthday was the next day. I am slowly reading it, as I want to take everything in and look at all the pictures and imagine when you wrote about your trip a year ago.
    Now I cannot wait to sample that lavender rose tea. Actually, I looked online and really could not find lavender rose earl grey tea. I am impatient and did not want to wait until you have yours in stock! It just sounds so heavenly. I love anything flavored with lavender. Well, now I will wait for yours . I am sure it will be worth waiting for!!

    • Ann Beirne says:

      Dear Susan,
      I was just wondering if you received my comment from August 15th, as it still says “awaiting moderation” and those from the today were posted? I was just commenting that I can’t wait to try the lavender rose tea!

      • sbranch says:

        Oh, so good Ann, I’m sorry, I just keep moderating, and more come on top of them, and I don’t ever seem to get to the bottom of the pile of comments, but I will! I promise!

    • sbranch says:

      It will be worth it, I promise you!

  16. Barbara says:

    Dear Susan,
    I contacted a great bookstore in Marin County CA called Book Passage and they are very interested in talking with you or your publicist about a giving a talk and/or a book signing. I don’t know exactly how these things work, but I really wanted to meet you, so I thought maybe I can get you to my area! This is the woman I emailed with should you want to pursue the lead: Alexis Sattler at Book Passage [email protected]

    I hope it works out! Your book is terrific!

  17. Toni says:

    Hi Susan,

    We notice you are traveling from the Dayton, Ohio area on Sept. 5 up to Grand Rapids, Mich. on the 7th. Since we are in Toledo will you be anywhere near here and stopping on the 6th??

    • sbranch says:

      I think it’s just Dayton and Grand Rapids in that neck of the woods for now anyway. We are saving time for driving, eating, sleeping, and antique stores 🙂 !

  18. Oh, Susan! Amanda here, the one whose son thought you were a spy because of your journal for Grandmothers to fill in the guided questions.

    Well, a dear friend sent me your book- right in time. Laying in bed and fighting off those white blood cells that attack the wrong things my mother walked in with a package. I sat straight up in bed. A package! I KNEW what it was before I opened it. “This is Susan Branch’s Book!” I exclaimed.
    And sure enough it was. It was a signed copy. Oh! I love when a friend knows what you love.

    My son replied: “That’s the famous lady, right?” To which I could only reply: “Yes!”

    Your book has been with me while I have been in bed. It has been with me in waiting rooms of Dr. offices. It has been in my hands as I sat on my porch here in Idaho, enjoying the warmth of the cement as the sun worked its way west and I ate a small snack of steamed green beans from a neighbor’s garden and drank ice water as I took in every little detail of your artwork.

    It is hard to explain to strangers why I gush, smile, and bring your book close to my heart while in a waiting room.

    When I have been too sick to read it- my mom is able to read it. And I have to ask what she is giggling about. “Oh, you’ll see!”

    Many sighs have come and I am wishing you would come straight way to Idaho Falls, Idaho and let me take you and Joe to the Tetons where you can see the wildflowers and use your magic to paint our Indian Paintbrush waving in the fields, Forget-Me-Nots along the worn trails, and the Elephant flowers trumpeting the good news.

    I know your little van could make it! And I know the perfect nook in a book store that has the chocolates that rival See’s. (Florence’s Fine Candies)

    Let me know! Keep us in mind for fall when the traffic isn’t too heavy and Yellowstone Park is quiet again, except for the geysers.

    Hap-Hap-Happily to have your sweet book,


    • sbranch says:

      Amanda, that was so sweet. I love the Grand Tetons and the worn dirt paths that smell so good with all those layers of pine needles. Thank you so much for that lovely thought. I hope you are getting better and all Drs. offices will be a thing of the distant past very soon. Love that your son has got my number! xoxo Hello to your mom too, and have a wonderful day!

  19. Just ordered my copy today from Amazon. The date expected is September 5-6…oh my, your signing in Grand Rapids is the 7th……should have ordered sooner. I may have to buy another copy if it does not arrive on time, which would not be a bad thing because I can always gift the other. Will be watching the mail!

    • sbranch says:

      We will have them at the signing in Grand Rapids too, just in case! And I can sign it to you; the other one you can sign and give to someone you love for Christmas!

  20. Elaine Mellen says:

    Hi Susan I am so excited that you wrote this book and I am looking forward to receiving my copy. I’ve been a fan of your work since I pick up Heart of the Home twenty-five years ago. Your art work just makes me feel good and I look forward every month to turning my Susan Branch calendar to the next month to see what you have to share with me. I never look through the calendar cause that would spoil the surprise. Thank you so much for all the pleasure that your work has given all of us. Elaine

  21. Brenna Henry says:

    All I can say is ABSOLUTE HEAVEN!!! I saved the book to bring on my camping trip to Yosemite, CA last week, and boy was it worth the wait! I couldn’t seem to put it down. I would read into the night, giggling and smiling to myself next to my sleeping boyfriend, and tell him all the interesting facts and funny stories the next morning. I couldn’t be happier with the book and am so impressed at your ability to share this amazing trip in such a beautiful, thoroughly enjoyable and interesting way! I actually am taking a ‘break’ from reading it because I don’t want it to be over yet. I want to s-t-r-e-t-c-h it out as long as possible because it is just so wonderful. Thank you for sharing your personal and touching story of meeting Joe, what a gift to get a glimpse of that sacred sweetness. I will be able to read and enjoy the heavenly visual details of this book forever. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! <3 See you in November!

    • sbranch says:

      See you then Brenna! Thank you so much. I’m thrilled our book got to spend the night in Yosemite!

  22. Mary S. says:

    Joe is soooo handsome!! Especially in his cute beret!!
    I love, love, love the tea tin!!! Thank you for designing it!!!
    “It’s actually worse if you’re here, because I take that tin to every room I’m in!” – ROTFL!!!!!!!!!
    I finished your book while we were on holiday at the seaside! Perfect! But I didn’t think about taking a photo of it there 🙁 It was very difficult going from 65 degree weather back to 109 degrees in Fresno!! Yikes! How does one go about sending you a photo, anyway?!?
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  23. starr miller says:


    Thanks a million for your wonderful photos and stories of your travels with Joe. I am half way through A FINE ROMANCE and just don’t want it to end. It is hilarious and beautiful and inspiring. You are amazing!!
    So proud to be a girl friend.
    Keep the stories and photos coming…please and thanks.

  24. Carol Melville says:

    Dear Susan
    I met you in Meredith NH the night before the book signing. I was with my girlfriend Kathy. I just developed my photos from both meetings with you and had fun selecting the best ones to place inside all my newly signed SB books. I included funny stories of our meetings, Susan Branch style, along with the pictures. I hope my grandchildren will someday take joy in these books. You have been an inspiration to me and many many of my girlfriends.
    I can’t wait to give my granddaughter Claire her Grandmother book.
    Thank you soooo much.
    Carol Mel.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh my pleasure Carol, you guys were so cute, and made just the perfect welcoming committee. Thank you so much!!!

  25. SusieJ says:

    Any recent news on when the tea tin or the Beatrix Potter mugs will be available? I am making someone special wait for a birthday present and just wondered how long we will wait. Thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      Tea tins will be here the end of this month, and the mugs are flying over from England even as we speak and I bet we’ll have them by the end of the week.

  26. The Travel Hags love your book, Susan. We’ve got a review on our site and wish you every success. Love the artwork, love your voice and I really hate cruises but I might be rethinking it now. hahaha. Well done, girlfriend.

    • sbranch says:

      How nice! Thank you so much Mindie. Remember it’s not a cruise! It’s transportation. 🙂 Very different. No umbrellas in the drinks. xoxo

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