A New Post . . .

My dad says, “I’m ready for a new post.”  But my mom’s house has a kryptonite barrier that resists computer connection! And then it turned to . . .

and memories of the island and home and fall and leaves and all of that came washing over me.  My colorful little leaf collection I make every year, with leaves gathered from the dirt road where we walk each morning.  I string them together for my kitchen window with a needle and thread . . .  I

My backyard with layers of crunchy leaves drifting down and clouds of undulating starlings flying over trees and picket fences, the smell of salt air up from the harbor, my girlfriends popping in, not to mention Iris . . . a bit of homesickness seeps into this post  . . .

Missing my dishtowels dancing in the cool autumn air . . .

There’s just something about October . . . but since we are now in California, we recognize there are other kinds of beautiful fall days in other parts of our country that “vagabonds with gypsy blood” simply cannot resist, and when you are there, it’s best to play the MUSICA of the neighborhood . . . go with the one you’re with . . .

Hello October in sunny Seal Beach, California!  Can you hear the waves roll in?  Feel the warm sun and soft breeze blowing?  As Marilyn Monroe would say, “It’s all so delicate.”

And here’s a bunch of gypsy vagabonds if ever I saw them ~ heading off to Kokomo!

Just another day in paradise.  If you look waaay over there on the left horizon, you’ll see a tiny little white half-moon looking bubble . . . see it?  Well, next to it, you can’t see it in this photo, but it’s definitely visible to the naked eye (because of the smokestacks), is a huge gorgeous ocean liner so elegant it sends a chill up your sun-warmed spine. . . and you say, I got to GO there . . .

. . . and when you get closer, if you didn’t know before, you find out it’s the legendary Queen Mary launched in 1936 by King George V (Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather), a world class ocean liner still complete with old world ambience and authentic Art Deco decor and permanently berthed in Long Beach as a hotel with restaurants and bars and tours and shopping for all the world to enjoy!  So of course my first thought was, “Let’s go for tea!”

I cannot imagine a better place to park The Fine Romance Van than in the shadow of this great ship.  You just drive right up and park and walk right on board!

We were getting out of the car when Joe discovered Petey in his bag.  Surprise!  I hid him there.  🙂  He’s so happy.  I know you can’t see it on his face, but trust me, he’s thrilled.  (Petey is thrilled.  Joe?  Not so much. “What’s this doing here?”      . . . I can’t seem to get the boy to swallow all the Kool-aid!)

Our cameras never stopped clicking as we walked up to the gangplank, me, my mom, and Joe.

You get on board and it’s so wonderful you actually want to run in all directions at once.  Here we are on the Promenade Deck, trying to be ladies and gentleman about the whole thing.

So much to see!  And we get to do it with my mom!  The ship is huge; they said if you stood it on its end it would be taller than the Eiffel Tower.  You’re free to walk all over it, stem to stern as they say.  The ship’s horn blew (honked) on the hour and each time it did, I waited for the ship to do this:

She seemed fully capable of taking off and looking just like she did in her heyday . . . and we kept thinking, you go girl!

. . . Back then, passengers cavorted with the likes of Clark Gable and Loretta Young, Bob Hope and Walt Disney, British royalty and Prime Ministers too. This ship saw more than its share of glamour and we felt it everywhere we went.  During WWII she was painted a (successfully) invisible sea-grey color ~ nicknamed the Grey Ghost, she transported thousands of troops and was a hero in her own right.  The  history of this ship is rich with story and there for the taking and imagining.  In the bars, you can still catch the blurred images and feel the anxiety of boys (our dad’s and grandfathers) in sailor suits going far from home to save the world.

. . . and now us, Joe, my mommy and me for a proper tea in the Tea Room, no blurred images, and only one sailor suit . . .

A table for four please . . .

Yes, we will have this.  The food was wonderful, as you can see, it tasted just as good as it looked!  Little perfect tea sandwiches . . .

. . . egg and chicken, melon and prosciutto, some with caviar and salmon . . .  Mom and I had a full tea, Joe had a large shrimp salad.  The food was great!

The tea desserts were painstakingly made and delicious!  I took about a thousand photos in the Tea Room, but I know you want to see the ship . . . so let’s go do that shall we?  Let’s start in the gift shop!  It’s the normal thing to do. 

If you ever need a crown for any reason at all (and who doesn’t even if it’s just to wear around the bedroom), this is the place to shop for them.  They come in all shapes and sizes, sparkly reproductions you’ve seen at many famous queenly events.

They even had crown rings . . . my mom and I had lots of fun in here!

Tea pots, flowered china cups, special teas . . .

. . . all kinds of fun things . . . being the practical girl I am I bought only one thing in there: a red tin box of bandaids that said, “Keep Calm and Carry On” on each bandaid.  I could not resist.  Cute and useful too.  My two favorite things in shopping.

Many of the shops carried vintage-looking clothing and accessories . . . I liked the red shoes so much I looked up the maker, Chelsea-Crew, to see what else they had!  I now predict new shoes in my future.  Cute and useful!

And look at these darling reproduction watches!  Aren’t they adorable?  I want one!

The shops look like this and showcase lots of interesting and wonderful things.  I bought a gold scarf covered in sequins for Diana! (From the book? To thank her one more time for telling me to go with Joe to Boston!  She loves anything that sparkles and I love her! )

Besides the shopping, they have a self-tour you can take that gives you peeks (through glass walls) into the rooms decorated as they would have been back in the day.  This is the children’s playroom, filled with old toys and children’s furniture.  Many of the original murals are still here too . . . making it very easy to step back in time, and positively no sea-sickness involved! Gorgeous mural huh?  Would be nice in my dining room! 🙂

This would have been the Captain’s Quarters.  Nearby were the much-smaller, windowless, but still lovely rooms for the Captain’s Steward which included a tiny pantry complete with teapot and bar still filled with the old glasses.  I could easily live here if I had too.

Speaking of the bar, here is the Observation Lounge out on the bow of the boat with a wonderful view of the shore, swirly Art Deco ceiling and original mural.  Some people seem to dress up and play the part of elegant passengers here.

Here’s a closeup of part of the mural over the bar . . .  I love the lady in pink, and the bow on the woman on the right!

There are over 300 one-of-a-kind staterooms you can choose from if you come here and spend the night.

You get off the elevator in the hotel part of the ship and it looks like this, hallways filled with the rich wood paneling and gorgeous rugs that decorate almost every space on the ship. The hotel also has a spa and a fitness room.

Here’s one of the main dining rooms . . . can you imagine?  At sea, this beautiful room?  Pearls and glittering diamonds and red nail polish, satin, lace, perfume and tuxedos, the band plays Cole Porter.  So very extremely civilized.  Cary Grant makes a toast and clicks delicate champagne glasses over the gardenia bouquet at table number six! Myrna Loy bursts out laughing.  What could it all mean?

Not to be completely outdone in the realm of “not too shabby” here is one of the dining rooms where we had dinner on the Queen Mary 2.  They managed to keep the amazing ambience of specialness with a capital H for Heaven, just like the movies.

The Queen Mary is filled with 1930’s sophistication and style, carpets are all gorgeous on this ship!  I actually took a photo of every one of them.  One of these days we’ll just do photos of “rugs I’ve known and loved.”

And the same style echoes on the Queen Mary 2 . . .

Of course the whole thing comes with stunningly beautiful panoramic sea and shore views!  See the tall building with the green roof?  That’s where my mom and dad had their first date.  He was wearing a sailor suit and my mom tried not to swoon.  We are a hotel dating people, apparently.

For Joe, we saved the best for last.  He had tea, he kept his pinky in the air, he dealt with Petey with a certain kind of grace, he shopped, he looked at darling rooms, now it was time to take the elevator to the bottom of the boat . . .

. . . deep down to the bowels of the ship where they keep the engine room . . .

Joe was beside himself in here, he loved it . . . four floors of pipes, funnels, switches, gauges, nuts, bolts, and engine-type things for him to marvel over.

Look at all those dials!  So exciting!!!  Straight across the room there’s a sign that says, “control panel.”  I was thinking we could use one of those in our house.  Push a button for instant control!  If only . . .

We stayed all day, until it got dark and we think we only saw maybe half of what there was to see.  But it was time to get home, must save a few hours for our nightly game of Rummikub and eat our Potato Chip Cookies!

Out one of the windows of the Queen Mary we could see Long Beach Harbor and the docks and cranes where ships from all over the world come to unload their containers filled with goods.  So exciting to think that in three weeks, a ship will come into this dock and unload pallets filled with the second printing of our very own book!

Yes, we’re still receiving your darling “traveling photos” — our book gets around!  Here it is with our girlfriend June, at Nauset Lighthouse in Eastham on the Cape!

And for all of you who have ordered books and are waiting ever so patiently, your signed copies of A FINE ROMANCE will be the very first to go out in the mail . . . the girls in the studio are ready!  Girlfriends, we have sold out of the second printing too!!  We are new customers to the Long Beach docks, but they will be getting a third shipment with our address on it at the end of November!  Who woulda’ thunk it?  We are as happy as those kids riding the waves here in Seal Beach ~ we’re on our own little wave of sorts. I look to the left and the right, and there you all are, on your boards, riding the waves with us.

On October 15, new charms arrive . . . more Girlfriends charms (for those of you who missed the first ones) and our new Fine Romance charms will be here too (to join the other two, the third one’s the charm ) . . . and we were so excited to learn that our Tea Tins came in on Tuesday!  Along with my two favorite and now our signature blends of tea . . . the lavender tea with roses I wrote about in the book ~ and my favorite organic every-day Earl Grey tea.  It’s all here!  Most of you have already figured it out ~I used to be the one who gets to announce things, but you are too fast for me!  You know stuff before I do!  I brought my own tin along with me so I’ve had it this whole trip, but I still can’t wait to see them all at the studio today!

Yes, this is the day we reach our destination for this first cross-country leg of our trip after a month of living out of the back of a van, we will settle in to our house for a month!  Squealing with joy (in a whisper, because my mom and Joe are still asleep). I have my tea and I’m sitting at my mom’s kitchen table where, for the moment, I have the quiet all to myself.  Only the sound of munch of cookie.  The stars are still twinkling in the sky, a little blurry through the soft fog from the Pacific.  We’ve had a wonderful time, every day we pick a new restaurant next to the water to have lunch at!  Every night it’s Rummikub and homemade something.  And later today we’ll drive up beautiful blue Pacific Coast Highway along the ocean, winding past Malibu, Zuma, Trancas, and Ventura, into Santa Barbara, then over the mountains with a possible pitstop at Cold Spring Tavern (if we can bear to stop, those last few miles to home are always the longest, almost unbearable rounding the last two curves) to Arroyo Grande where they are expecting a balmy high of 71 degrees today, thank you very much.   For the first time in two years, we will see Kellee, Alfredo, Sheri, and Bonnie (who’s been helping out at the studio lately), and meet the two kitties, the “Studio cats” that everyone adopted since the last time I was there!  There are two mooshable, petable kitties at the end of this rainbow!  I will need to be careful not to pounce on them!  Then I get to have lunch with my darling BFF Diana on the beach at my favorite restaurant in Shell Beach and let the laughing roll!  I lived on the Central Coast from 1971 until 1982 (the formative years, but then again, aren’t they all . . .) until I moved to Martha’s Vineyard and I’ve kept in touch with several people there. Lots to look forward too.  Four high school best friends are coming to the Remnants Show on November 10th! (I hope if you can, you’ll join us!)  Karen (with the beautiful red hair with whom I met the Beatles), Marilyn, Cathy and Linda (we made our Drill Team pom-poms together at a slumber party at Marilyn’s ~ among other things).  So much fun!  I have a garden here too that Alfredo has been watching over for us.   I’ll take lots of pictures!  I must close now, with lots of love and kisses.  And I think it’s only right that I give my mother the last word:

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548 Responses to A New Post . . .

  1. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan!!..loved the wonderful tour of the Queen Mary and getting to share in delightful moments with your darling mom..the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. 🙂 Last Christmas, all of the wonderful ladies that work in our schools’ front office and me, got together for a cookie exchange and everyone wanted to bring the best most unique cookie. One of our secretaries made Potato Chip cookies and they were a huge hit. Until that day, I had never ever heard of them and I consider myself somewhat of a homemade cookie connoisseur (there are worse things in life and I have the hips to prove it!!!!:-) ). They are now a staple in my repertoire and was so excited to see your recipe. I feel like I have seen it before….I just never had tasted or made them. So, of course, I whipped up a batch….. My grandkids think they are “awesome”!!! and fun to make….potato chips and cookies..what’s not to like???? Thanks for the California update…rest easy fellow Girlfriends..they have Halloween in CA too right???? continued memorable times… xo love, cindy

    • sbranch says:

      Mom food for sure! Yes there’s Halloween here, but our house is out in the country. Just the opposite of the hundreds of kids we get on the island, here, pretty much none. They’d have to come by car! Have a wonderful day Cindy!

  2. Victoria Miller says:

    WOW! Running a day late and a dollar short here, I didn’t get to this post until now, Sunday evening! And there you were, right across the harbor from me! I’m in San Pedro, looking out at the lights and the cranes. I used to be able to see the fireworks from the Queen Mary from my apartment, before a crane moved and a tree got too tall. And I’ve never been there. Thank you for the tour! It looks awesome. I’m reluctant to go places, because then I don’t want to leave. But, of course, you do, and then you go home and play ‘Thanks for the memory….’ And you played one of my favorite songs, Kokomo…always wanted to go there, too! What an amazing journey you folks are on (and Petey, of course). My friend has a little beanie bag flamingo named Pinky, who lives in a corner of the windshield, except when her mate has the car; he doesn’t care to be seen with Pinky, and so the next time my friend uses the car, she has to find out where he’s been hidden this time! I used to have this wonderful LeBaron convertible and, of course, the top was always down and the CD player was always up….but “I Get Around” isn’t played so often since the LeBaron finally went off to…well, let’s not talk about it….. Now it’s ‘Don’t Get Around Much, Anymore.’ However, I have a swell bike, just not ready for any real distance biking yet! So, I probably won’t catch you this time around. But, who knows, perhaps “…we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when….” This post certainly inspired me! Glad you are having a wonderful trip! Keep up the good work!

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

    Fun to see the photos and hear about your vacation and the fun you are having visiting California. Duh–you will think I am “slow” but I don’t “get” the comment about the kool-aid. Am I the only one??? Please explain…?
    Just got back from a “flying” (i.e. QUICK) trip to Door County for just a couple of days. Rained every day except the morning we left but we still had fun. The leaves were gorgeou even with the gray skies and rain–beautiful oranges, reds, and yellows–actually all across central Wisconsin. Good to get away, even for such a short time… 🙂

  4. Sandi says:

    Yea, I received the new Peter Rabbit mug just in time for my birthday October 3. It actually arrived the day before and I also received the two new charms for my bracelet. These are all now gifts from my husband as now days he gives me money and says pick out what you want.
    Now I am waiting on the new charm to hit your website that is for your new book. I will order it next. I also gave my daughter her first books of yours for her birthday on 9/23, A Fine Romance and The Summer Book I bought both from your site and went ahead and gave her your new calendars as I usually wait until Christmas and put them in our stockings, but couldn’t wait. We are the ones 75 miles North of Dallas and really hope you have a book signing in the area so I can bring her, two grandaughters and myself to meet you in person. The little one just had her 3 year birthday the day before mine on Oct. 2 and we both celebrated together this weekend. I love reading about everything you do and keep up with you and your travels on your blog. I try and check your web site daily to keep up with new items added to buy. I am now hooked on the Emma pottery and will probably have to buy the grandgirls the Peter Rabbit mugs too along with other mugs and a teapot. I love your story of how you & Joe found each other & fell in love and keep the love going. Let him know he is not forgotten as he takes really good care of you. Take care on your travels.

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Birthday to you and yours Sandi, and I will give your sweet message to Joe. He knows he’s not forgotten!

  5. Janet in Rochester says:

    Not for nothing – but the Queen Mary folks should have you on a retainer, Sue. You are providing them [gratis] with the kind of awesomely-glowing publicity that would cost them a fortune if they had to pay for it. Just got lost wondering around their website for a little under 2 hours perusing, reading, looking at photo galleries, videos, menus. Too much fun and a lot of very pleasant dreaming. And more than a little watering of the mouth. The best part for me – the B&W photos of Bob Hope & friends. And a time gone by. OMG, what a place! Thanks for the virtual visit! Hope you’re getting some feet up, no-keyboard rest at your Mom’s! :>)

  6. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Hi Sue,
    Wonderful California post, and the Queen Mary…wow! How cool is that and you can spend the night. For those of us who get sea sick…that’s for me, the ship experience without leaving port! Laughing my socks off at the engine room…..every man’s dream! How wise of them to make that part of the experience.
    Also on your events page, I clicked onThe Remnants of the Past show link. I watched all the videos. I would so love that! Lucky west coast girlfriends.
    I am sure you enjoyed your weekend of doing “nothing”. You and Joe certainly deserve it. And happy for you that you are home, so to speak. Anxiously awaiting kitty pics! Our church had the blessing of the animals this weekend. We took the dogs. Someone even brought two ponies! It was great…and everyone brought bags of dog and cat food for the local rescue group.
    Now it’s back to the work week!
    Thanks for a wonderful post.

    • sbranch says:

      How great that is, I’ve never been, but I’ve always thought it was especially beautiful to have a blessing for the animals.

  7. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Trying to catch up! Missed you all, I got scammed by a pro, arghhh! My darling niece saved our computer! Blessings abound! Loved your visit to Queen Mary with your Queen Mum, dear Sweet Sue. 2 beautiful ladies & handsome men making the tour for us…thank you! Your Mom looks great, as do you & Joe (& Petey)! You’re probably at SLO by now, hi to your studio folks (& kitties), such nice people! Wonderful blog, heartfelt thanks for giving of yourself! XOXO!!!!!!!

  8. Jan says:

    Just sooo sweet the pictures of you and your Mom. Sweet memories in the making! Was so thankful to see a new post. Spent last week at doctor and hospital with my Dad – cardiac issues. Am now catching up with the girlfriends responses. Must order my tea tin too! Beautiful Fall weather here in Michigan. My backyard is scattered with colorful fallen leaves. When you mentioned the potato chip cookies your Mom makes, it brought back memories. My Grandma made those too. I have her recipe for them in my cookbook. Well, enjoy your time in California with family and friends. Must finish my tea and get moving. I have apples to make into applesauce and a new recipe for pumpkin oatmeal cookies to try. Have a great week!

  9. Debra V. ~ Southern California says:

    Hello Susan,
    You are so sweet to take us along with you on this Book Signing Tour. I’ve loved every minute of it! Meanwhile I’ve finished the book last night. Ending as you and Joe had settled into your house in Martha’s Vineyard. Now as you’ve settled into your house in California for the time being. Gosh I feel that I’ve been on this whirlwind of travels with you. So glad you share it with us, it’s been marvelous!
    Today this was a Great Post. I’ll be making the Potato Chip cookies and decorating with Autumn flora this afternoon too. Loved seeing your mother and the tour of the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I live so close and never have been on board the ship. As a young teen, I remember seeing the Queen Mary from our Boat in the Long Beach Marina. I was amazed at how very large it was. Now, I’m planning a trip to visit her with some friends for the Tea and Tour. Such a treasure so close to home, can’t believe I’ve waited so long. Now I can hardly wait to go. You’ve inspired me!
    I look forward to seeing you in Pasadena, and maybe SLO Remnants of the Past if I can schedule the time off work.
    Thanks again, Debra

  10. ElFe says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Welcome home! There’s no place like it, is there?
    I have been waiting and waiting to see the new 2014 VERY LARGE one-sided calendar that I keep on my table at the foot of the stairs; but to no avail. It starts my day off with a bang (and keeps me somewhat straight in the process!). Is it just late, did I miss it already or, HORRORS! have you decided not to do one this year? Please say it isn’t so.

    • sbranch says:

      The company that makes them has decided not to anymore…I was the designer for them, we didn’t manufacture these ourselves. SO, that’s the bad news. The good news is that the people who make our wall calendar are very excited to make the blotters again for us starting next year. So we only have one year without them. So sorry!

  11. sondra fox says:

    What a wonderful blog Susan! I’ve been on the Queen Mary several times, but you reminded me of the fun of traipsing all around it. It’s a day of pretend, don’t you think? Pretending you’re really aboard having a fancy tea, while pretending you’re traversing across the ocean, dressing up like some of the passengers you saw, on the day you three visited. My friend who just lost her husband in May, her 105 year old aunt, & myself (just lost my husband on July 29th), are taking a day trip to the Queen, because you reminded us of how lovely it is to visit the Queen. Anything to get away from the drudgery of living with a construction crew who are redoing our kitchen. What a mess. It’s eating out for two weeks. Tell me (anyone) that it will all be worth it. It took me two days to get everything out of the cupboards, stashed away until the new cupboards are ready. The worst part of today’s construction is the noise. My usually peaceful home is full of “BANG,” “CRASH,” “ROCK MUSIC.” Tomorrow I’ll put my Sirrius elevator music (how they think of it) on before the guys get here to work. They’ll respect me enough to listen to what I enjoy.
    Are you enjoying our CA weather? It is my belief that from Fall until mid June is our best weather here in CA.
    One of our pet Mocking Birds in sitting on an outside wall, staring at me, letting me know our feeder is empty. They’re such interesting birds. They fence while on the wall. Fun to watch. Love their songs, of which there are many. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      It will be worth it, we did it too a few months back, and have loved it ever since. You will survive and be proud that you did! The visit to the Queen Mary will be a nice break!

  12. sondra fox says:

    Almost forgot. When I read the words our mom’s always told us, I got to thinking, “how in the world do all moms know the same things to say to their kids?” Do they have night meetings when their kids are in bed, telling one another what to say at just the right moments? No, of course they don’t. They simply know what to say. Sayings have been passed along through the ages, nothing written down in books, sayings that just come to them at the right time. Amazes me. Love the reminder of what we said in the way of warnings to our children. Thank heavens the one about “step on a crack, break your mother’s back,” never came true! (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  13. Debra V. ~ Southern California says:

    Oh Susan,
    Before I forget. This month in one of my Magazines there is the recipe for perserving those lovely Fall leaves so they don’t get brittle over time. Use one part pure liquid glycerin – available at drugstores – with two parts water in a shallow dish. Arrange leaves in a single layer in the bath, making sure they’re fully submerged; allow them to soak for at least one day. Then remove them and gently lay them out on paper towels to dry. String them up to make a garland or arrange in a bowl for the table, etc. Enjoy!

  14. Kim DeMichele says:

    Dear Susan, I could not believe the timing of this post. I lost my wonderful Mom this past week very suddenly. We are living on our special memories of how she touched our lives. I’m so glad you are enjoying such precious time with your Mom. “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel-mother”, Jean Maloney Powers, in my heart forever. Thanks for putting words to the meaning of a Mom. Fondly, Kim D. from Dublin, OH

    • sbranch says:

      Oh my dear Kim, I am so sorry. How awful, oh, breaks my heart. xoxo Sending love and a prayer for you and your family and for your well-loved mom.

      • Kim DeMichele says:

        Oh thankyou so very much Susan. Enjoy your moments with your Mom on your visit, keep making those loving memories! Fondly, Kim

    • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

      Oh, Kim… I am so very sorry. Sending so much love… ♡♡ Dawn

    • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

      I am so very sorry for the loss of your Mom. I hope the loving memories you cherish of her will wrap around you like a warm, comforting blanket in the days to come. Hugs to you, dear Kim.

    • sondra fox says:

      Oh Jean, Condolences on the loss of your dear mother. So sorry, My you find peace in knowing that you shared many wonderful times with your mom. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

      • sondra fox says:

        I do apologize for getting your family names mixed up. I “meant” to say sorry to “YOU” Kim. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • carmel says:

      I am so sorry about the loss of your mom. Believe me, I do understand. Love remains and all the good that you shared. Be gentle with yourself. Grief is a natural part of loosing someone you love so much and it comes and goes. Take good care.

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        Me too, Kim. So sorry about your Mom. But remember, she’s always watching over you. xoxo.

  15. Jack the Cat says:

    MEOW……mama, when you comin’ home? Kitty Girl and I miss you lots and we is lonely. Not given enough kisses….only yours will do. I keep lookin’ out the back door for your van with the pruddy sign on it, but it’s never there. Oh mama, I miss you and Daddy Joe….please come home soon. I give you lots of hugs when you get here, I’ve been savin’ them. Love from me and Kitty Girl MEOW…..MEOW….MEOW….xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Oh oh, I was afraid of this. And just last night I was putting together a special page for the blog called BEST OF JACK. Then, BEST OF GIRL.

      Dear Jack, Me and Joe? We r homesick and will be home soon. Be a good boy. Kiss girl for us. xoxo

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      Oh, this is so funny and cute! I can see that those kitties are just as smart as our two schnauzers–learning how to use the computer and post comments!!!! 🙂

  16. evangeline says:

    Thank you for your wonderful blog. I enjoy reading and picturing everything you share with us. You write what I “feel”..I also love to see my dishcloths blowing in the breeze… autumn is starting here in Hendersonvile NC…the air is crisp and chilly… time to get the pumpkins out and wood pile stacked higher…. going to be a cold winter.. Your a blessing.. thank you for your gift of seeing world “rose-colored glasses”… makes all the difference…. enjoy every moment

  17. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    Can’t get enough of that Petey! The photo of him sitting at the tea is priceless.
    I can see why you are missing your home, it is beautiful in the fall. It looks like you are having a great time on your journey. I bet your pretty Mom was so happy to see you. Those shops on the Queen Mary look so fun, I would not have been able to resist that Princess Diana crown!
    See you in Pasadena.

  18. barbara lassiter says:

    Many years ago, my husband was on a business trip to CA and I traveled with him. We stayed on the Queen Mary for 3 days and it was fabulous. While he was at a trade show one afternoon, I sat on one of the deck’s reading and enjoying the ambiance of just being there. A child leaned over the railing of an upper deck and said, ” My mom told me that people lived on this boat. Are you one of them?” I replied, “No, but I wish I were and it was a wonderful thought.” I can tell by your enthusiasm that it’s still a great idea! Thanks for bringing back some great memories!!!! I love that you have this new book on England and can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    • sbranch says:

      “Ambience of just being there” — the best part of it. You’re so smart to take that time to just be in a place so nicely crammed with history and ghosts.

  19. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    Now do you see why I wanted to go back to Long Beach? I also want to walk the beach where I walked as a baby. We left when I was two. My younger sister and her Welsh husband saw the QE a couple of years ago.
    I love Autumn and October is my birthday month!!! Nice post! Say hello to your mom and thank her for the cookie recipe. The days are getting rainy on the East Coast, so it is good baking weather.

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      PS LOVE those shoes and her other ones too!!

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Birthday Margot!

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      I should have written QM duh!
      Thank you for the birthday greeting. My mom can’t write anymore, but she called me :-), my dear mother-in-law made me a purse (pattern name “Margot”), my Aunt Margaret sent me a card and my best friend from 2nd grade did too, but I have only heard from ONE of my three sisters and neither of my sons. It seems so sad that once our mom and other older relatives pass away, no one will know we exsist. Whatever happened to penning a fine greeting???

      • sbranch says:

        Awww, we know you exist Margot! The world is changing but we have our love to keep us warm! xoxo

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Margot, I’ve thought the exact same thing. Our anniversary came and went and we didn’t get one card or comment from anyone–birthdays the same. I’ve been trying to remember birthdays with either a card or a phone call but sometimes I think I’m the only one that does that. I know what you mean about feeling like no one notices that we exist… 🙂

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      ~Happy Birthday To You!~

  20. Nancy West says:

    THE MOST MARVELOUS THING HAS HAPPENED! All because of the pictures you posted of The Queen Mary! My husband and I are celebrating our 40th anniversary with a combination business/personal trip to La Jolla, CA next week. We are from East Texas and have never been to California. So, what to see? The business convention is in La Jolla, but my husband also needs to see a manufacturing plant in Montebello, CA. After seeing the beautiful pictures of the Queen Mary, we have decided to drive and sightsee our way from La Jolla to Long Beach for an extra day and SPEND THE NIGHT ON THE QUEEN MARY! OMG, I am on CLOUD NINE! I am so excited! Sort of like that quote “if you can DREAM it, you can DO it!” I just IMAGINED what a wonderful Anniversary gift that would be, and NOW we have reservations! Now hoping to plan a trip to New England, and Martha’s Vineyard next fall. The BIG TRIP on my Bucket List. Thanks for being a big part of my dreams.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh how fun Nancy! That’s just great news. Happy Anniversary to both of you. While you’re in LaJolla, go to the LaValencia Hotel … they have wonderful old photos there, very lovely old hotel.

      • Nancy West says:

        Thank you for your reply and your suggestion of something else to see in La Jolla. I can hardly believe I am corresponding with “THE Susan Branch.” I still think I am dreaming that we are going to be able to spend the night on that beautiful ship. I just keep reading your “guided photo tour” online. The only thing that would have made my dream complete would have been to come to one of your book signings while in California, but the dates did not work out. (and I don’t think there is a chance that you are coming through Texas on your return trip?) Thanks for all your sharing.

        • sbranch says:

          I think the closest we’re getting is Albuquerque — but that’s not so close I’m sorry to say. We’re starting to get that homesick feeling of wanting to hurry home!

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      Happy 40th Nancy!!!! I am so happy for you and your husband!

      • Linda Pintarell says:

        If you have time while in the area, visit the Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island…and have tea. Also, not to be missed, if possible, the world class San Diego Zoo and all its wonderful, beautiful critters of our lovely earth. You will love it!

        • sbranch says:

          I’ve stayed at the Del, many years ago my girlfriend’s dad was the manager and her wedding was there! What a spot.

          • Janet in Rochester says:

            My brother, his wife & kids [who are now 18 and 21] vacationed in the greater San Diego area years ago and are STILL talking about the “Del” – how beautiful it is. With heart-stopping views of the Pacific!

          • sbranch says:

            I understand, it’s quite a place. When we were little my uncle was stationed on Coronado in the Navy. I always loved going there and that it was “an island.”

  21. Carol Maurer, formally Eureka, Ca.... now Kennewick, WA says:

    Oh Susan ~~~ Been awhile since I’ve written in your blog! Hello to all you girlfriends as well! I loved the tour and pictures of the QM2! Such a magnificent beauty of a ship! When I lived in Long Beach, in my other life, it wasn’t there. Would have loved to see it up close and personal. Looking forward to seeing your California home and pictures of all the girlfriends that work in your shop. I love keeping track of Peg on FB, but Kellie isn’t on much. I’m sure that you are having much better weather than we are up in WA. Autumn is definitely here in spades! Love it! The trees are changing…. I’ve really missed seeing that! Redwoods just didn’t do that, haha.

    Have a great rest and enjoy your CA home, garden, mom and friends!! The pictures of you and your mom having tea was great!! What fun!

    Carol M

  22. A post of pure, pure delight!!! I got lost in the beauty of the ship, the shopping, the everything! Just what I needed to read and drool over this cloudy, chilly October day!

  23. MaryO1230 says:

    Oh my goodness Sue, you were right down the road (or rather right over the bridge) from me in San Pedro! Great post. If I had known you were visiting the QM, I’d run over to Long Beach and done the same! Great pics too. luv.m.

  24. Sarah Maldonado says:

    Oh, how I loved seeing the Queen Mary! It looked so lovely and I imagined my heartthrob, (as my mom would have said), Clark Gable, cruising the deck! I wanted to shop with you, too! Thanks for sharing it all. Your tea (both kinds!), the wall calendar, some Christmas stickers, and Yankee magazine are on their way to me as well as the “Darling” cup! I can’t wait! Enjoy your time there and all of us Girlfriends in the autumn woods will collect leaves in your honor! 🙂

  25. Tamra Vaughan-Humphreys says:

    I read where your have a favorite lavender tea and I was wondering if there’s a recipe or a book you can with these items in it. this is the first time I’ve seen your web site and its wonderful. I had purchased a small pocket calendar and looked on goggle and this is how I found your web site. I do tea parties at the nursing home every year for the residents and I’m always looking for tea related items, recipes and etc. I looked on your page that says tea recipes but I couldn’t get any tea recipes to come up. Thanks for your great stories and your pictures. I feel like I have been on the trip with you. Great.

    • sbranch says:

      Hello Tamra, so nice to meet you here. Go HERE to TEA PARTIES and when you see the tea pot come up, click on any of the words on it, and you’ll get the recipes. As for the lavender tea, you can find that, along with lots of other tea things, in my web store. It’s wonderful you are celebrating tea with and for residents at a nursing home. I’m sure they love you for it. xoxo Hope to see you again!

  26. Anna, Camano Island,Wa says:

    Like many of your “girlfriend” blog readers, I check back quite often just in case you should have a new post up, I already wrote a comment on this one earlier on. — But sometimes I feel a little guilty for impatience for your new posts, I can see that they must take quite a bit of time to put together. I find it pretty amazing looking back at older posts, the charm and detail in each one. They are chock-full of beautiful photos, funny photos, cute stories, sweet lovely stories, shared details of your life, the things and people you love, your philosophies and interests, your pets, your travels, — its all so fun and interesting too. — If all that is not enough, then you actually find the time to read all the comments and are thoughtful enough to answer as many as you can. You deserve all the thanks you get from everyone and then some! God bless you for all the good cheer you so graciously sprinkle around where ever you go.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for understanding. It’s my goal to get back to “normal” and get more posts more often … sometimes I wonder if it’s more important for me to read every comment or more important for the comments to get “moderated” more quickly and put right up. I’m asking my computer guy if he can put something on here to make that happen, just to find out if it can be done. Also I wonder if long posts are best, or short ones, only more often. Best for story telling to do long ones … think of all the photos I would have to leave out if the posts on each subject are shorter… I’m always thinking about the blog even when I don’t get to put up a new post. I have TWO on the back burner right now! 🙂 Hope to surprise you soon.

      • Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

        Like everyone, at age 66 I have had many roles in this life. For the past 3 years I have learned the new role of caregiver to my sweet husband who has MS (I’ve mentioned this before, but still). This requires filling myself from “the well of sweetness” as much as possible, and you are certainly one of the sources to that well. Whether short or long, your posts and comments are loved and appreciated, and the FDA should approve them as an RX for what ails the world! You, along with my family, kitty, girlfriends, books, knitting, love of home, meditation (when I am being disciplined!), provide much sweetness to the well and keep me inspired and afloat. Thanks for being a wonderful and supportive girlfriend to everyone here!!

        • sbranch says:

          We all need that Rosanne, but never more than when facing life’s trials and tribulations. I love the way you are feeding yourself. xoxo

          • Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

            And speaking of feeding myself, had your lovely warm ginger cake with my afternoon tea yesterday. Fragrant and delicious. A wonderful autumn comfort!

        • sondra fox says:

          Rosanne, what a wonderful disposition you have. I took care of my sick husband for a few years, as well. Friends would always tell me how strong they thought I was. I didn’t feel it took that much strength. It seemed easy, as long as my husband was with us. He & I found things we could do “together,” like watch golf on TV, or sit watching birds on the patio. We simply enjoyed what we could. Sounds like you’ve found that to be a successful way of living with your dear husband as well. No sense in sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, eh?(Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

          • Karen Saunders says:

            I’ve thought of you often and hoped you were doing okay. Always look for your posts. Seems like you are. Take care!

          • Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

            Thank you, Sandy, you are kind. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”:)

      • Anna, Camano Island,Wa says:

        I hope you don’t change a thing about your posts, I love the length and beautiful pics and details, too short and they might lose something. Better for us “girlfriends” to be patient and appreciative for all your talents and hardwork. Goodness, I for one don’t know how you manage to do it all as it is. Best also to not only be fun for all of us blog friends, but fun for you also—just as important. Bless your good heart!

        • sbranch says:

          So fun for me … one of the most creative things I’ve ever gotten to do. Love to add, art, music, all the little bits and extras, not to mention the photos. So glad you enjoy them Anna!

          • Then, this is what you should do–what inspires YOU the most! Because then it will be just right.

          • Mo'a says:

            You are a role model to me. I am working on changing my blog’s focus…after 8 years.
            I have actually read your whole blog…and the fact that you read all comments and answer most…is amazing and wonderful. Between posts I love to read all the comments and get to know the ‘Girlfriends’ you have created a lovely community here.
            ‘Please don’t change for me’ Hmmmm! that might make a good line for a song 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            Couldn’t have done that without the lovely Girlfriends! Thank you Mo’a — I don’t know if I can continue to answer every comment forever, because they do take some time, but it’s very hard for me to read them and then not say hello! I love the connection!

  27. N. Jean says:

    This post made me happy! Loved all of the pictures, your mom is cute! The shoes are awesome, I may need some of those too. Have a great time in California.

  28. Becky Maggio says:

    Immediately thought of YOU when reading this today…..
    She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future (Prov 31:25)…..You are OUR virtuous woman!! Hope you are enjoying your days in CA. Finally cooler weather in S. Louisiana. It is so renewing!!

    Take care!

    • sbranch says:

      And that makes me think of all of us! Thank you so much Becky! It’s cool here today, even a few little drops of rain.

  29. sandy says:

    thanks to this post I have a new retro watch on order–thank you Susan! and I made Mom’s Potato Chip Cookies (used walnuts). yes, they are yummy! I did forgo the grape KoolAid, tho. They were still very good with tea. what a fun time I had on this ship with you! xox 🙂

  30. Carin from Central California says:

    Great post! I must visit the Queen Mary and have tea. A friend and I were in Camarillo and Ventura last weekend (awesome except for Santa Ana winds all weekend) and then traveled home via 101 to enjoy the ocean view instead of traveling home via dry, dusty, 99. Anyhow, we stopped at Ventana Grill for a late lunch. The lunch was delish and the view was priceless. The only thing that would have made it better was to see the van parked in the parking lot and you and Joe inside. I have the “Mother Says” greeting card! I framed the card and the envelope in a little red frame with tiny rose wallpaper for matting. It was the very first Susan Branch thing that I bought and it must have been around 1988 since that’s when I became a Mom. It has hung on the wall of every house I have lived in since then. I remember thinking when I bought the card, “I really like this Susan Branch person.” Still do. See you at Remnants.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I love Ventana Grill, I should have been there. Love it when the pelicans come flying right toward the windows! See you at Remnants!

  31. Debbie Rockholm says:

    Loved your post and your mom is so cute. Loved the pic of Joe and Petey. Too funny. Can’t wait to see you and FOSB girlfriends at the Remnants of the Past. I live much closer to Pasedena but did not want to miss the Remnants of the Past either. It has to be so hard to be away from home for so long but soon you will be with your darling kitties. See you soon.

    Debbie from Valencia, CA

  32. How did you know I needed to read this wonderful post today? And what a hearty belly laugh it gave me (about getting Joe to drink all the Kool Aid!!!). Seeing the ship was great. I was having one of those poor Susie stuck at home kind of day and you managed to whisk me off into your oh so fun adventures! Keep it up! Sending smiles your way. 🙂

  33. Jan from Northern CA says:

    Wow, your post brought back so many memories…..almost 38 years ago my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Disneyland…..and we spend one day visiting the Queen Mary. Let’s see, that was Nov. 22, 1975. Sadly, I don’t remember much of the ship….as I was getting over having the mumps on both sides…..on our wedding day! We didn’t get to leave for our honeymoon until Wed….the day before Thanksgiving that year. Long story… I was so inspired reading and enjoying your photos of your day on the QM with your Mom and Joe….got me wishing to see it again. I have been trying to plan a drive south to SLO and the Remnants of the Past weekend…..so after talking to my daughter…..we’ve decided to meet at LAX on Wednesday and have a girl weekend! We will stay 3 nights on the QM until Sat, (really reasonable) drive north to SLO, find a spot to stay for the night, wake up Sun and be there with all the other FOSB girlfriends at the Remnants Show! Only glitch….we need to get back to LAX to fly home….so we’ll have to get in line and be pretty close to the front at 1pm so we can make the drive back without speeding…. It was so exciting to go through the QM website! We choose a couple tours…..”The Diana Tea” of course! I’ve never been on a cruise….and this will be pretty close. We got a room with port holes!! It will be a great time! Thank you again for sharing your day. We can’t wait to see you and all the girlfriends!!
    Jan from Northern CA

  34. Siobhan from Santa Monica, CA says:

    Oh, joy! So excited to check in today and see what you are up to out here…you probably don’t remember me saying this before, but my parents came over on the Queen Mary in 1958…my mother’s stories of seasickness and homesickness always left the impression she was on the boat for two weeks…turns out it was a 4 day crossing! Poor thing! They left from England, but thought they might never see Ireland again. (Fortunately, they did, and took me too.) I took my mom to Mother’s Day tea on board about 4 years ago, and it was lovely, to be on that ship with her…and how special to see your photos from the tea room. Jiminy. Such a small lovely world sometimes, isn’t it? And, I am still parsing out the pages of your English book…so hard to resist, but I don’t want it to end!! I treat myself to one or two pages before I go to sleep, like a chocolate from the See’s box. I am nearly there though…just turned the page to Jane Austen. Oh sigh. And I agree with the above sentiments about taking as long as you need between posts because they are so rich and fun and full of creativity. You and all you do are worth the wait!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes you are, nearly there, at Jane Austen’s on our last day in England before we get back on the Queen Mary for our ride home! I agree with you, “sigh . . .” Thank you Siobhan!

  35. Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

    Good Morning Susan! Hope you’re able to enjoy lots of down time after your great adventures so far. This was a very fun blog… I grew up in Seal Beach and now live in Long Beach, so I loved seeing the things you did while you’re here in California. Four of us girlfriends will be seeing you in Pasadena at Vroman’s Bookstore, can’t wait! 🙂 We had a lot of rain last night; it was wonderful hearing it coming down on the roof. I really love the fall weather! Thank you for all you do for us girlfriends Susan, you are terrific! ♥

  36. Sharon in So. Calif. says:

    Just had to let you know that you have THE BEST employees ever! I received my tea 2 days after ordering it!! Thank you Sheri and Kellee so much. And thank you Susan for the best tea I’ve ever had!! It is just beautiful, taste and aroma. Now I have to make it last, I love the tin so much. Loved your post on the Queen Mary, so nice to see you having fun with your Mom. Loved Petey’s picture at tea. Please don’t change your posts they are more than perfect as is! Can’t wait to see pictures of Jack and Girl, I think of them often and know they are missing you and Joe so much, but won’t be too long now and you will be home with your little love bugs. P.S. Thank your Mom for the recipe, it’s posted on my fridge and I just got the chips but I forgot the grape Kool-Aid!!

  37. stephanie says:

    I just received my latest order and the new tea tins were there – soooooooooooo cute! Love them! Also ordered the angel chimes and excited to have those for this Christmas. I ordered 2 tea tins because I’ve learned your stuff comes and goes – and to grab multiples while I can. I’m still mad I didn’t get all your Lenox stuff when I could. Thanks so much – it’s on top of my hutch now filled with Tetley “british blend” tea bags (which are super yummy!).

    Hope you’re having fun in CA!

    • sbranch says:

      I know, things do come and go… it’s the way of the world these days, I’m happy you’ve got a backup!

  38. Karen Saunders says:

    And now it’s finally starting…..I’m beginning to worry about being a mute idiot when I finally get to meet you. We’re kinda like that in Oregon….if you were born and raised here, that is. That’s why Clark Gable, John Wayne and Merril Streep loved being here, everyone let them go their own way and didn’t bother them. I’m over-whelmed when in front of famous people. (remember what an idiot I was with Andy Williams? probably not.) So excited to finally meet you at SLO.

  39. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Tea tin & special tea arrived today! Whoopee! Looking forward to tea time tomorrow! Such a pretty tin, dear Susan! xoxo

  40. Dear Susan,
    I never really get over this feeling of connection in our lives. I guess it’s much the same as you describe feeling when you visit the houses of those you admire- I feel that as I read your books and blog. I’ve been drinking in “A Fine Romance” and I laugh every time you mention something that I have always loved too. (Fred Astaire, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter and on and on.- BTW-Do you know about Mrs. Appleyard too?) Oh and “Elizabeth and Her German Garden” is one of my regular best loved reads. I love the babies named of months and the Man of Wrath, I always want to call my husband, Rick, that but he will never cooperate and be properly stern. 🙂
    When I lived in Southern California, I used to spend New Year’s Eve on the Queen Mary, dancing until the wee hours to a lovely big band sound in the smallish ballroom. She’s a beautiful grand lady of a ship.
    You, my dear, are always a joy and an inspiration, a lovely bright light in the cosmos. I always feel energized by tapping into your kindred spirit.
    Wishing you a lovely rest of your trip and safe travels. My kitties say “mwah”to yours. xxoo

    • sbranch says:

      Kindred spirits ~ thank you dear ♥. Sweet dreams to you! Kitty mwahs from us and ours to you and yours.

  41. Georgie says:

    Dear Susan… I am soooo far behind. Just popping in to let you know I’m still here in the wake of life. You got to visit your mom. What a simply GORGEOUS setting. If only Joe and I were closer. When we were in Walnut Creek we even talked about renting a car and visiting you, Joe, Kellee, the Studio, etc. But we couldn’t make it happen. It’s a JOY to see you back to doing what you LOVE doing. You’re bursting at the seams with the GOOD things of Life. Keep posting away. We are all here.

    Love those reproduction watches on the QM! Love that Princess crown too. I think I will put one on today as I enjoy this Fall weekend!
    XOXO to you and to your Joe!

  42. Kathryn says:


    I have always wanted to see England, especially the small towns on the back roads, and you took me there! The book is wonderful, wonderful. You often mention your knitting and I am curious as to what you make. I, too, love to knit and find it so relaxing. Are you familiar with the Warm Up America organization? They offer a chance to knit, without requiring a lot of concentration, and to help those in need by doing so.

    Kathryn in Los Angeles

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t make much, just scarves! 🙂 I just like the handwork, to do something while watching TV, hate to just sit there, and I agree, it’s so relaxing. I keep promising myself to go to a yarn store and join a class and LEARN something, but so far, I’m too lazy I guess!

      • Paula says:

        It seems you are one of those rare persons who can learn to do beautiful creative things without classes. And, best of all you share what you learn with others. 🙂

  43. loved seeing the ship, upstairs and down, and glad y’all are having a fabulous time. being on the road is fun but there comes a point when home looks sweeter and the longing deeper.

  44. Paula says:

    Dear Susan~~Life gets really busy and days go by without time to read any BLOGS, but guess what?–when I have some time to savor, it is such a joy to know that I can click on my Susan Branch bookmark and have beauty, creative writing, delightful, beautiful, and almost yummy, photos and art work awaiting me. Thank you for sharing it all: Your autumn photos from home, your tour of the Queen Mary–such a delight.

    I am happy for your reuniting with friends and family!

    I look forward to seeing you in San Luis Obisbo (traveling from Central Oregon). I am excited that you will have the tin and tea available there, and I am so eager to see you in person. You and your mother look so darling (and alike) in the photo with the crown ring.

    May God continue to bless you and Joe as you travel, work, and visit. Thanks, again, for taking the time to share the joys and beauty in your life.

  45. Mary S. says:

    We’ve been gone for two weeks and I am so behind on your blogs!! Yikes!
    “rugs I’ve known and loved.” – ROTFL!!

    Can’t wait to meet you in San Luis Obispo!

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  46. Susan and Judy Watkins….see you in November!

  47. pauline lussenhop says:

    What a fond memory I got when I read your recipe for “potatoe chip cookies”. My mother-in-law used to make them and we all loved them. Now I have the recipe and I will make them for my grandkids Cooper and Elsa. I will also make a big batch for our church bake sale. I’m reading “A Fine Romance” for the second time and dreaming away as I read it.

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