Who Needs Normal?

In bloom, here, as I speak, around the trunk of the Albizzia tree right out back, are daffodils!  There is nothing normal about Daffodils at Thanksgiving . . . Musica, my darling girls?  Oh yes, the prettiest song ever . . . 
No, daffodils are definitely not normal, but who needs normal when you can have this:
This is Sasha (our pug-nosed dream) and she is one of our two adorable Studio kitties.  I’ve been wanting to give you a tour of our studio/house here in California so I thought today would be a good day for it.
From the outside it looks like a normal cottage ~ a little old-fashioned and romantic with pure white iceberg roses in bloom and picket fences . . .
We bought this place on the Central Coast of California in June of 2002.  But it didn’t always look like this.  You are about to see what a little paint and elbow grease can do.  Here is the “before” picture ↓
You actually paid money for that?  It had some very good things about it … surrounded with apple trees, avocados, oranges, walnuts, figs and limes, set in a wide ancient fertile river bed (capable of growing sweet peas almost year round not to mention artichokes and lemons) on eight acres in a valley about five miles from the Pacific Ocean.  The land was flat, with wide open spaces, a running creek, lovely sunrises, moderate temperatures, blue birds, and breezes up from the sea, but everything else needed help, desperately. The garage had a corrugated tin roof (and still does but since we painted it green, it looks a whole lot better), gophers and ground squirrels were estimated at 100,000 in round numbers; they drilled holes everywhere providing a happy hunting ground for hawks that circled high overhead constantly. There was an unenclosed goat barn (in the photo, on the right), no garden at all, and rampantly growing weeds; the house was and is a crunchy antique doublewide primarily made from fake faux paneling and linoleum.  And what did we say when we saw all this?  We’ll take it!
We weren’t looking for fancy which was a good thing because we definitely weren’t getting it.
. . . but I did need my picket fence garden . . .
So that’s what Joe did first, before we painted the house.  He had to dig down and line the bottom of the garden in hardware cloth to keep the gophers out ~ you can see the corrugated metal siding on the garage on the right.  Joe covered the metal with white lattice and built an arbor off the side of it.
He built picket fences, planted a lawn, lots of bushes and hedges, flowers, corn and more trees, to make our version of a cottage “built with lilacs and laughter.”  Joe, our employee and friend Alfredo, and my brother Chuck painted the house white and enclosed the goat barn for storage . . .
My sister Shelly, my BFF Diana (the one in our Book) and me, we wore white paper painter’s suits and ate ice creams with Joe as our fearless leader, while we painted the whole inside of the house.  This is kind of what it looked like when we lived here part of the year, before we turned the living room into our Studio.
And at certain times of the year, the garden looks like this.  River bottom dirt is a good thing.  (Wild thing, you make my heart sing . . .)
and sometimes the sky looks like this ….
and just down the road it looks like this around 5 pm . . . free for the taking.
When we landed here a few weeks ago after driving from Massachusetts to California in our Fine Romance Van . . .
. . . as we came up the walk, we brushed past a bush you can smell before you see it . . . the glossy green leaves are covered with my favorite flower in the whole world, the gardenia.  They grow here, outside.  You water them with a hose like any normal plant.  I know.  Doesn’t seem possible, does it?
I picked this bouquet of  “Just Joey” and yellow “Julia Child” roses from the garden to take to the Remnants of the Past book signing.  Two of the best smelling roses imaginable bloom here almost year-round.
My girlfriend just called to tell me that yesterday it snowed two inches on Martha’s Vineyard!  And I can’t wait!
Inside the house, it’s just as you would expect, there’s a kitchen and bedrooms . . . but it’s also our Studio now so there are desks, computers, files, an art table, a copier, products, design projects, antiques that need their photos taken . . . It was spotless when we got here — I wish I would have taken pictures then!
here’s our stretching freckled mascot . . .
and guard cat . . .
Kellee comes every day around eight, sometimes she brings Reese, her yellow lab.  Sheri and Bonnie work part time, Alfredo is always here . . . This is Kellee’s desk.
Alfredo, Sheri, Kellee (Kellee’s mom Kitty makes our wooden toys on wheels) and Bonnie (we celebrate birthdays at the beach).
This is Reese fishing in the creek.
Reese is one more reason why even our studio is a fine romance.
A whole lot goes on at our Studio ~ we may be little, but we are crafty!  There are projects in piles everywhere.  Here we are putting recipe cards with our Heart of the Home Cookie Cutter sets . . .
. . . while under the table, Sammy is ever alert for treats and or kisses . . .
(Oh Suza-anne ♫ ????  Do you see his beauty mark ?. . . Inspiring, isn’t it? 🙂 )
This pile of quilts was waiting to decorate our booth at the Remnants of the Past Show and Book signing . . .
Kellee made two of these great big lamb posters on foam core for the show ~ it’s always a work in progress around here!
And just in time for the show, our Christmas and Come~Sit~Stay Tea Towels showed up.
So of course we hung them on our stove in the kitchen of the studio and I grabbed six of each right off the top for my Vineyard Girlfriends!
And look at this other surprise that just arrived:
We received an early Christmas gift from Romantic Homes Magazine with this little spread on the very last page of their December issue!   See anyone you recognize?  They asked me for a list and some photos of my favorite things. Which is, in and of itself, one of my favorite things.  Like counting blessings in a magazine! 
Out back, inside our tiny, handy little goat barn . . .
Joe helps take delivery of  our second printing . . .
Then everyone works to ship our new book, A FINE ROMANCE to our Girlfriends . . .
When a new order of books first arrives, it’s a family affair ~ everyone brings their kids to help for the day ~ and they did a wonderful job!  Such professionals!  Here is lunch with Sheri (on the left), Maddie (Sheri’s daughter), Bonnie, Nathan (Sheri’s son), Eric (Alfredo’s son), Alfredo, Wes (Bonnie’s son), and Kellee.  The “magic” that comes out of our Studio has more to do with hard work and a serious enjoyment for making the world a more wonderful place. 
When it was time to take the moveable feast to Remnants, Joe and Alfredo packed boxes and furniture into cars, truck, van and trailer to take to the Madonna Inn.
They brought hutches and bookcases for the booth . . .
. . . hung quilts on the walls of the tent (quilts make the best wallpaper!), put in the furniture and the girls began to arrange everything . . . lambs, Union Jack dishtowels, bags, clocks, Emma cups,
. . . heart teapots, notebooks, spotted mugs, Beatrix Potter figurines, my favorite lavender tea, tea tins, books, dream charms, they hung the new tea towels on the hutch doors ~ we brought it all!
Our new Union Jack bunting arrived just in time!  We hung it up and that was it ~ Time to open the gates and let the shopping begin . . .
I’m way on the other side of this crowd . . . saying hello, hugging, and signing books . . . and this is pretty much all of the show I saw.
Kellee and the girls said it was like a party all day long!  There were over 3,000 visitors to the show on Sunday alone!  And none of us ever stopped smiling!
Here are Kellee and Bonnie in their cute aprons (if you’d like the pattern to this apron go HERE, scroll to the bottom and click on FREE PATTERNS) and their TEAM ROMANCE badges . . .
Sheri kept refilling the bookshelves . . . .
That’s my friend Peg . . . the wonderful Peg who has run our FOSB Friends of Susan Branch Facebook Page from the very beginning . . . She was there with her husband Charlie. I’m wearing my three Dream Charms on a chain around my neck … everyone asks me about them, I wear them everyday — they seem so much a part of the book, the trip, and us. xoxo
Joe went down the line (they arranged the line like at Disneyland, in back-and-forth snake fashion which makes it really easy for groups to talk to each other) and said hello to everyone and took pictures. We could hear all the laughter in the line . . . they were making friends and I signed books until waaay after dark.
With these two new best friends watching all the action.  In my next post I’ll show you a bit more . . . some good surprises happened at the end of the day. 
A FINE ROMANCE is up to 182 five-star reviews on Amazon and still growing if you can believe that!! And I know it’s you!  Thank you ♥ ♥ ♥.  I’ve gotten so many notes from new Girlfriends who are just now taking their first trip with us to England and loving it as much as we did.  We’ve had a wonderful visit out here . . . and on Friday (or maybe Saturday the way it’s looking) we start for home! Are you ready to go . . . or do you need a few more days with the roses?  Tell me . . .  XOXO
P. S. Thinking about Thanksgiving! 
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509 Responses to Who Needs Normal?

  1. Jane S. in PA says:

    I’ve missed your posts, but this was fun to see your beautiful California studio and garden and your pretty booth that looks so homey and inviting. No wonder everyone looks so happy. We miss you, but enjoy all of the love which I know surrounds you everywhere you go. You are so deserving of it, because you’ve certainly changed our lives for the better. xxoo

  2. Denise W. Jose says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful blog. It was a great treat to see Daffodils, roses and gardenias at this time of the year. I already miss my gardens here in central NY. I did spend time today planting pots of paperwhites and 2 amaryllis today. 45 degrees and sunny so it felt good to be outdoors today.
    My Yankee Mag came today. Great article and fun pictures. I wish they were larger and more of them. Fun to see anyway.
    I LOVED reading your book. Thanks for sharing your time in England. it brought back so many memories of our trips to GB. I savoured every word and picture. I just read a couple of pages before sleep every night to make it last.
    Thanks so much

  3. Lee Rose says:

    As a native New Englander and east cost girl, I am always drawn to pictures of your Vineyard house. Of course she loves New England, I thought, CA could never compare. Well, after seeing your pictures today I am eating my words. That sunny, fertile land looks so inviting. I could not imagine being able to grow my 2 favorite things, avocados and limes!! It looks just beautiful and you have done that property proud. Safe travels–I hope you swing through VA on your way home.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, there is something special everywhere we go! And growing avocados and limes is your back yard makes you feel like a snake-free Adam and Eve! Earth’s blessings everywhere!

  4. Kirsten from So. Cal. says:

    Oh, my! I am still recovering from my road trip to see you! I had the time of my life!! Seeing you in Pasedena was great but in SLO……….are you kidding? It’s so beautiful there. The entire road trip there from L.A. was just mesmirizing!! (you’re right if you’re thinking I can’t spell). It was great to have all the alone time with my daughter (who has been married for 20 yrs. with 4 children). The show was fabulous. I brought home a beautiful needlepoint covered chair for a song! Not to be compared to the S.B. things. I think I’ll take one of everything! You were incredibly generous to sign all the books, calendars etc. So glad I got a Yankee mag. before the are gone! I have decided to put my entire collection of S.B. books, etc. in a special place in my home where they will be noticed by all who visit. I love you so much and I want everyone else I know to do the same. You know, “I’ll tell 2 friends, and they’ll tell 2 friends”, etc. I realized after speaking with you, that I may have come across as a stalker……but I hope not……I know it’s a fine line! You are one of my heroes, Sue. When I thought it wasn’t worth the fight to get out of bed…..you inspired me! Thanks for your sunny blog and all the inspiration!! Let’s not wait another nine years for another book, O.K. ? Oh, by the way…..as soon as we got home, my daughter painted 2 beautiful water color pics! She’s quite talented! Thanks again! P.S. if Joe only had a single brother!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Loved that Kirsten!! Hearing your joy …what a fun trip! Yes, it’s gorgeous in this neck of the woods. Next time, take a tiny bit more time and head up Highway One for as long as you have time for …it just gets prettier and prettier. Thank you so much for telling “two friends” … we are the best kept secret, but a lovely little club of our own. No, you will NOT have to wait another nine years. I’ve never had so much fun than with this book, can’t wait to do it again! Say hello to your daughter!

      • Kirsten from So. Cal. says:

        Oh Sue! We did head up highway 1 for a bit after Sun. show. I finally got to see Hearst Castle (from the outside anyway) and we had dinner at Linn’s in Cambria. We had such a wonderful time! I would love to live up there.

        • sbranch says:

          So glad you got to see some of it … It does make a wonderful little weekend getaway, so much to explore!

  5. Sharon Hinkle says:

    Dear Susan, thanks for the lovely blog. The drawings and photos are just great like always. I did need cheering up this week, I had so many difficulties at work and just found out today that I have to work Thanksgiving. I take the city bus everywhere, so I have no idea how to get there. I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday season. I am hoping to see a copy of your book “A Fine Romance” soon because I can’t find a copy anywhere. I love how you make a complete stranger feel like a part of your family. Take care and thanks again.

    • sbranch says:

      We probably won’t be home for Thanksgiving either, we’ll still be on the road . . . so (((Thanksgiving hugs)))) to us worker-bees. We do have the book here in our web store, or you can get it on Amazon, or best of all, many of the Independent Bookstores are carrying it too. xoxo Thank you for being here Sharon.

  6. barbara miller says:

    dear Susan, your blog is always a blessing. I was feeling blue [thinking: i ‘ll never go o Paris or London or Scotland. I will always live in a ranch style house with an ugly kitchen…etc. I will never meet you!! boohoo.] but as I read the blog I ha a heart awakening. I can know you through your words and art and pictures. I can see England, Scotland and even Paris in books [someday ‘a fine romance’ will be mine. saving the pennies]. thank you for you! b

  7. Julie Cavrich says:

    Loved seeing your California home. The before and after is really amazing. I can see the hard work & love you put into it, like everything you and Joe do. I would like to add, like the other Girlfriends, everything I have purchased from your website has come packed with love from Kellee and Sheri. You are so lucky to have them. I, too, am ready for HOME! California is beautiful, but, as an East Coast girl, I would miss the Seasons. Kisses to the West Coast & East Coast Kitties!

    • sbranch says:

      Another amazing thing about Kellee and Sheri, Alfredo and Bonnie .. I can go away with full faith that they will do the right thing. Lovely lovely confidence. Yes, once you have tasted the seasons, it is difficult to go without. The excitement is not easy to give up!

  8. Sue says:

    I really, really enjoyed this post (always do :)). But this was so interesting to see and read all about your CA quarters and those who keep things running smoothly and make things happen out there! You are blessed to have such a wonderful crew! 🙂 Love the kitties & doggie (hugs to them)! They are darling! They all look like they are “right at home” in their element! So sweet!
    I just picked up the Yankee mag last weekend at Barnes and Noble and your article is “fantabulous” to say the least! Done so beautifully! Love the pic of you and Joe outside on the porch leaning on opposite sides but reaching across to each other, holding hands. So cool!
    Oh, Petey and mini Jack are absolutely awesome together! Petey is glancing over at mini Jack — looking so proud — while mini Jack is looking up at Petey — they both look so happy with their “new-found” friend and look like they have been together forever! Be still my heart! Just dear!
    Yes, this trip has been great but I have to say I’m very excited to get back to MV— it seems so long since we have been there. Sure am looking forward to being there again — in “our” element! 🙂 ‘Specially with the holidays coming up. I can’t wait to see Kitty and Jack again. You should take pictures of them the first time they get a glance at you & Joe. Would love to see their reaction.
    In the meantime, still hoping you will stop somewhere in eastern PA for a signing. If I had to — I would drive pretty far to be there! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I thought about taking pictures of them as we walk in, but how do I hold the camera and bury my face in kitty neck at the same time? Weighing the two choices, kitty neck is winning! I think we are going to have to drive back to PA on another signing spree, mostly because the holidays are coming and we’re so unsure of the weather. Would love to meet you too Sue!

      • Sue says:

        I know, I know, kitty neck would most likely win out for me too! 🙂
        Ummmm, how bout Joe — maybe he could catch it on camera? Or maybe he will be in the other kitty neck…… 🙂
        Springtime would sound really good for a PA signing spree. My sister used to work for QVC and is probably one of their biggest customers. She had gone with me — I think it was back in the latter 90’s when you were at the West Chester location. Maybe I should have her put a bug in someone’s ear concerning Susan Branch’s wonderful, fabulous new book, that has “already” gone into it’s 3rd printing — ya think so? 🙂
        Hmmmm, maybe I should……….

        • sbranch says:

          My favorite thing about QVC was the amazing people there. They LOVED their jobs and everyone had so much energy. It was really so much fun and I was very impressed!

  9. Sue says:

    Oh sorry, I forgot to mention. Maybe even in the beginning the year you could come to QVC again — in West Chester? Just a thought……….. 🙂

  10. Jan says:

    Hi Susan, I love the apron pattern and have copied it, thank you! Now… where might I find any of your fabrics? I don’t see them on your shopping page and suspect that you might not have had any made lately…

    • sbranch says:

      No, not lately, but there are a few yards still lurking here. Kellee said she took them off the web store when we took them up to the Remnants Event, but she may have put them back up today. Otherwise, if you’re interested, you can probably contact her at kellee@ and ask her what we might have.

  11. Barbara I. - Washington State says:

    Susan – LOVE the studio kitties!! We just lost Annie, our sweet 16-year-old calico kitty, to lymphoma this summer, and we are heartbroken. Calicoes are SO very special and beautiful, just like Sasha!! Would love to give her a big hug! And Annie had a “beauty mark” in just the same spot that Sammy does! Thank you for sharing these beautiful felines with us!! Hugs to you!!

  12. Elaine says:

    Oh what a beautiful studio and gardens . WOW ! So much hard work yet fun all at the same time . Wonderful post and photos . Thanks for sharing . Have a good week !

  13. bramble says:

    Looks like the west coast tour was a roaring success! I never doubted it as all of your books reel us in and take us along with you whatever the theme! I will be getting my copy soon (my bday is coming up!) and will take my time savoring the journey. Thanks for sharing the fun, safe home you ‘ve got some celebrating to continue!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I know, it ain’t over til it’s over xoxo I’m so looking forward to getting back to my studio on the island again.

  14. Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    Hi Susan and Girlfriends everywhere ~~~ Just read your new post and saw all the pictures of the ‘show’! I loved them all and just really made me miss not going. You have this ‘show’ each year? If so, I’m really going to try to get there next year to see you and all the ‘girls’. It was so much fun to see Peg. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a picture of her. All the while I was looking at the other pictures of the girls, I kept wondering about Peg. She runs your page on FB so well and if any of us have a question, she is right there to answer within a couple days. I like that.

    I’ve got packing to do and dinner to make. Heading for Eureka tomorrow for a memorial service on Saturday for our dear friend from church. I’m hoping that the weather will hold. It’s suppose to snow in the higher elevations and rain in the lower ones. Fortunately, we don’t have to go over any passes. Take it easy on your way home. I know you’ll run into yucky weather at times.

    Carol M

    • sbranch says:

      Remnants (which is put on by my friend Judy) has the show a couple of times a year, but next year they are moving it all to San Jose because they need a space bigger than what they have here in San Luis Obispo! It’s gotten very popular and crowded but the new space will make it even better! If you want, look at the Remnants of the Past web site to get the dates and locations in the future.

      Peg is heaven. She’s taken care of FOSB since the beginning. I feel blessed that she does this for me! xoxo Drive carefully Carol!

      • Tawni urrutia says:

        Our son is getting his masters at San José State…so we’re there a lot! Now that I know the BIG show is there next year, it’s fireworks “Love American Style” in my heart!

  15. Sara says:

    Thanks so much for the tour, Susan… what a charming little cottage, and the gardenia shrub just about stole my heart! BTW, your Joe sure is wonderful–digging gardens, growing corn, unloading pallets of books… sure wish I could find a’keeper’ like him. (Hope springs eternal.)

    We welcomed my third grandson, Evan Drue, into the family last Wednesday, and Nanny is overjoyed. My 41-year-old daughter and her husband now have three boys under four! Whew!

    I know you’re excited to be going home, Susan, but you sure have made a lot of us happy by visiting our towns and sharing yourself the way you have! Thank you so much! Have a safe trip back east. ~ Sara ~

    • sbranch says:

      Phew is right! Congratulations Sara!

      • Sara says:

        You know, Susan, you could make a whole series of books of your blogs, going back to the very first one, with the comments from all your girlfriends after each blog! I’d buy them for sure, because I love reading the response from your girlfriends and your responses to our responses. Wouldn’t that be fun? How I would love to fill my shelves with such a happy, timeless series by dethe girlfriend with the most girlfriends ever!

        I’ve been visiting all my fave online bookseller haunts and have managed to purchase quite a few of your books. I simply cannot imagine someone selling such treasures, but, hey, their loss is my gain. The ultimate quest is, of course, Baby Love!

        • sbranch says:

          Good for you, Saran — makes me happy to know they are going to a good home! I think I would need a handy person who would know how to get the blog things off the computer and reformed into a book shape. But I know what you mean — the comments are my favorite part!

          • judy young says:

            Hi Susan! I would like to see you do a book about your houses and gardens and collections. With big colorful photos and your inimitable writing style. It would be just beautiful and a huge seller I am sure. Mary Englebreit has a book similar on her house and I love it too. Gorgeous to look at. Please consider it. Also a “Christmas” book! And we are all looking forward to the breakfast “Pancakes” book. My husband and I made sourdough pancakes and they are divine. I know you and Joe are ready to head to Martha’s Vinyard and relax. Well deserved rest!!

          • sbranch says:

            Excellent suggestions and all ones I would love to do too! xoxo

  16. Brenda Caldwell says:

    Love, love, loved the blog post today !!!~~!!! The roses and your garden are so dreamy! But….I have to admit, I am ready to go home and see Jack 😀

  17. Nettie says:

    Oh how I enjoy your posts…I don’t know where you find the energy to keep up with your life. I know you and Joe work very hard to make it all look so easy.
    Safe travels and please please come to Skaneateles, New York or even Syracuse or Rochester we need your energy.
    Peace and blessings for Thanksgiving girlfriend..

  18. Karen Saunders says:

    Hi Susan, enjoyed seeing you Sunday at the book signing. I had my picture taken with Joe and he’s so tall….I’m 5’1. There were so many people in line I didn’t want to take very much of your time but it was nice just to see you. I gave Joe a bag of some things and I was wondering if you recieved them? Have a safe trip back. Karen

    • sbranch says:

      I did get them Karen. I wish I’d had time to open them while we were together! What a wonderful artist you are. I have the glittery Christmas placecards all packed up to go home — Love them! — and the pumpkin is on the sill of our kitchen window right now! Thank you so much for everything — and most of all, for being there!

      • Karen Saunders says:

        It was my pleasure. It was worth the trip from Oregon and I was excited as I turned the corner of the tent just to see you sitting there. I commented about your poor hand and you were so gracious and kind and said you were just fine. Your Mom and Dad did a good job raising you Susan…. but it’s you too. After seeing how hard Joe worked, and your effort to keep all us ‘girls’ happy, you deserve all the success you get. You earned it.

        • sbranch says:

          Oh Karen, such a sweet thing to say. I never feel like I have enough time to spend with everyone, and especially with people who come from so far away. You have no idea how much it means to me … Luckily I know the area was beautiful, the day was wonderful, the company was fun and festive … so it had to be a bit of a win-win.♥

  19. sondra fox says:

    Susan & Girlfriends, Do you believe in people being set in your path on your life’s journey, to help you through your life? Here’s why I believe this statement. You see, I have proof:

    • sondra fox says:

      Oops, I goofed, I guess. Hit the wrong buttons. Sorry Susan if I goofed up. Anyway, here’s proof:
      -When at nine years of age, my father deserted my mom & I, there were angels in my life who made me always feel loved & special, people who took me into their families, invited me to go on vacations with their families, did special things for me, all because one of their children was a friend of mine. That went on until I was in my teens. My Gram took my mom & I into her home where I was raised up to know love, become honest, help others, see the best in everyone, love & laugh & find humor in most things.
      -There were institutions that I belonged to that also taught me how to enjoy life, learn positive attitudes, like the people in our church that made me feel part of a good thing, the Girl Scouts who helped me see how helping others would make me feel really good, & the Rainbow Girls who enabled me to gain self confidence in myself.
      -Then my husband of fifty four years came into my life & remained there until this year. Larry was really made for me. A very special man who
      taught me even more about love.
      -And then all through my life, when I’ve needed them most, came good friends who gave of themselves to me. Some of them are gone now, but I’ll always carry their love with me forever. I now have two friends (from over forty years) who are helping me emotionally, friends I don’t know if I could live without. How kind they are to me. They were placed in my life when I needed them the most. They’ve helped me with my years of being a mom, a wife, & a freind.
      -Then, when I was a college instructor, the head of our department encouraged me to go on to higher education, when I thought I’d had enough education. She always saw to it that I was given more difficult assignments, so that I could see that I really “could” perform the task I was asked to complete. She enabled so many people to gain in self confidence. She’s always been the person I tried hard to become like.
      -And I can’t forget my wonderful friends, Jack, my Terrior, & two cats, One Eyed, & Blackie, who entertain me & show me they love me with their sweet behavior. I’ve lost three cats in the past three mos. Sad, but I’m happy they had a good life here in Chihuahua Flats. They’re buried in our backyard, all together.

      That’s my proof that people & animals are placed in our paths to comfort & care for us. I hope you agree & have had the same experience.

      Susan, I honestly think you’re one of those angels that have been placed in my path. One of my favorite flowers is the Gardenia! One of my favorite roses is Joey! We have so many things we both enjoy. One of the reasons I feel so close to you, even though we’re just pen pals of sorts.

      As for wanting you to start your trip back home. Put me on the “yes” side, as I know your kitties want their mom & dad back ASAP. Now that I’ve gotten to meet you, as well as all of the girlfriends you’ve met, I’d say that your mission has been completed. Look at all the goodwill you’ve spread across the country. You’re like a goodwill ambassador. We all agree that you are a DEAR, SWEET, GENUINE person. Thanks for all the inconvienieces (I can’t remember how to spell this), you’ve had to endure in order to get around to seeing all of us. The only thing I didn’t like about meeting you was that I would have loved having lunch with you & chatting with you. That’s pretty darn selfish of me though, I know that. I have to be content with a quick meeting with you. Happy (safe) Trails to you & Joe. Love is following you all the way. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

      • sbranch says:

        I was smiling along with you as you counted your blessings Sandy … and so touched when I got to be an angel too. But of course I’m not an angel, just one of us normal ones.♥ Yes, never long enough, that’s the only thing. xoxo

  20. sandy says:

    Hi Susan! I love the California cottage story–just shows what can be done with vision and a lot of hard work. Thanks for sharing with us. I just ordered a second book for the CPA who got me started in my own accounting business 13 years ago and who is a constant blessing. She and her husband spent a month in England a few years ago and I know she will love this book, er, our book. happy trails on your way east, tho I will miss those California days. Do you need a live-in worker there?? xox 🙂

  21. Karen from Milton, WA says:

    Hi Susan…..so upon starting to read your blog (with a cup of Murchies Earl Grey tea…probably not nearly as yummy as your special blend) I immediately had to google “Albizzia tree” and come to find out it is a Mimosa which I have in my own backyard LOL. Loved learning about your studio and your before and after photos. Since I couldn’t make it to Remnants after all it was wonderful to live vicariously via your blog. Happy trails to you and Joe as you head home. Love, Karen

  22. Pam G says:

    so neat to see your home/studio in California! I love California but think if I had to choose I would take New England! Are you planning to be home for Thanksgiving.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure if we’ll make it … depends on the weather, but I’m fine if we don’t. We’ll find somewhere cozy to be grateful and be alone. We’ll be home for Christmas for sure.

  23. Sherri Fabbri says:

    Hi Susan! I loved seeing your cute home and the Remnants pics! Now I’m even more sad that I wasn’t able to go to it! I had planned to but it didn’t work out

  24. Chrissy Thrower says:

    Susan! Wow! Loved getting to see the California ‘Operation’! Loved your California digs..especially the befores and afters! What a beautiful transformation! You just have such a knack for taking great pictures and story telling and turning dirt into gorgeousness! Joe just always knows what to do to Git ‘ER done!
    Great to see all the crew that works so hard ‘behind the scenes’. The ones that are so nice to contact us if we have an order problem because we forget to send our addresses! Ha.,
    They ARE awesome!
    And Peg! Great pic of you two!
    The Remnants booth was so wonderful! I have to sign off now and order up that Santa towel in your MAGICAL WONDERLAND SHOP before they are gone!
    I know you and Joe have loved your trip.. But, are you ready to come home? Will you have another schedule for book signings in the Spring?
    Safe travels!XXOO Chrissy

    • sbranch says:

      LOL “Turning dirt into gorgeousness!” 🙂 Thank you Chrissy for all the nice compliments for our TEAM — I’ll tell them! I’m not sure about the spring, first we just want to get home and then we’ll figure out what’s next. Pancake Book, I know that — then who knows … Connecticut in June, for sure.

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        As much as I would LOVE the Pancake cookbook, my vote is for a book about your first house on MV. Such a story to tell & inspire. Then after those two, a tea book of course (of course!) 🙂

  25. joann says:

    So happy that Cadie, Amanda and I got to see you at Remnants. It was a LONG trip….flying from Denver to Sacramento and then driving from Sacramento to SLO, but all so worth it!! We stayed at Petite Soleil, had a wonderful breakfast, and then went to Cambria on Monday. Stopped at your favorite tea shop, bought tea, and then saw the elephant seals, something we always love to do. We went to Carmel on the way back, saw some gorgeous Christmas stores and really got in the spirit of things…

    I was so happy to be able to get a book since I had given mine away on our trip to England to a wonderful friend who didn’t get one. Your booth was amazing….so warm and cozy!

    You are a blessing to all of us; we treasure your recipes, your view of life, and your happy heart…..I hope you know you are a part of our family.

    We love you,
    Joann and the girls! ♥

    Please come to Colorado……………xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It was SUCH a surprise for you girls to come round the corner, Joann! I didn’t expect it, can’t believe you came all that way, but I loved it. Lovely to meet Amanda ~ both your girls are so beautiful — just like their mom. It sounds like you all had a wonderful time. Cambria is one of my favorite places on earth, so many fun things to do there. Have you ever been to Hearst Castle? Did you go all the way up Hwy 1 through Big Sur to Carmel? I lived in Carmel once, when I was young, for about a year. Love you dear, thank you so much for coming, it meant a lot to see you there. xoxo

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        America should have a “Seven Natural Wonders” list – and it must include Big Sur and the Northern California coast. Just breathtaking there! Also a teeny bit terrifying in spots, if you’re driving [gulp].

        • sbranch says:

          Big Sur is shocking in its beauty and for some strange reason, I’m not afraid up there. We just go slow. How about the redwood highway, have you ever driven that? Those tall, old, fragrant, wonderful trees.

          • Mary in Phoenix says:

            Love the redwood highway! Makes me think of the time I wanted to re-live a childhood memory by driving through that big old redwood. We asked if our Ford Excursion would fit and were told it would. Well, it didn’t. Almost got stuck. I envisioned being on the news as the family that took the hundreds year old redwood down! Had to back out … along with a whole line of cars 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            Ha ha ha ha … our station wagon full of children went through that, then somehow we climbed on top and we have pictures of us sitting on it. But we didn’t get stuck! Oh well, see what a good story you have to tell!

          • Janet in Rochester says:

            Oh Yeah! Those redwoods need to be on the Seven Wonders list too. Luckily I wasn’t the driver so at least I could look out on that unearthly view. But it was definitely Heebie-Jeebieville for me & I really don’t get nervous too easily. I went on an after-dark [ghost] tour of Gettysburg with no problems at all. But was still white-knuckled on Route 1 wherever the road hugged the cliffs. All the way into Carmel.

  26. Heather L. says:

    Oh that was a fun tour of your CA home!!! And I loved the booth that you all set up for the show. Such beautiful things displayed in such lovely surroundings! I am working hard to pull off a Hobbit Birthday Party for my daughter who is turning 13. The good thing about Hobbits is that they like tea and lots of delicious food!

  27. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    What a lot of work, but you have a great team! I am thinking about Thanksgiving too!! I really like the felted cat you got. I have never seen felted animals. As always, I love…the garden!

    • sbranch says:

      I think you might find some felted animals in the Etsy stores, just google Etsy and felted animals and see what you get.

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        I have been checking your store everyday since you first went antiquing (sp?) and I haven’t seen the blue plate with Two fine hearts…phrase on it.

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          Please excuse my grammar!

        • sbranch says:

          Hmmm. OK, I just grabbed it Margot, pulled it out and put it on Kellee’s desk. Call her (later because we are on CA time and it’s not even 7 am yet– she’ll be in by 8:30) at 805-474-1052 and she can make that your very own. ♥

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            Really??? Thanks!!! I have looked everywhere for THAT one! The one that was there with the bridge and friendship theme was nice too and I am glad someone bought it. It is almost, not quite, the poem that was my grandmother’s favorite.
            I guess I am hooked on the Two fine hearts…since people still consider us newlyweds. LOL Besides, the Swedish grandmother’s used to say, “Many hands make light work” so this is similar.
            We were thinking of moving back home to an island off the Door Peninsula in WI. Our friend Lynn said, It will be cold!!! You should see the house we found on-line yesterday!

            PS I would not wake anyone up for a plate! LOL

          • sbranch says:

            Cute house! Are you thinking about it? I have the two fine hearts one in pink. Will love it forever.

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            We were going to go home at the beginning of Nov. to look at houses, but we are taking care of a sick friend and decided to get things down here ready to sell. I would like to move back eventually and my husband NEEDS to stay near water. He has never been to this part of our home state!!! Too busy milking cows before the NAVY. lol
            We are German/Swiss and German/Swedish for the most part, and I just love the natural pine interior, not to mention the carving and rosmaling!!!
            I can always escape Jan. in WI, by visiting my sons in AZ!

          • sbranch says:

            The house looks serene and wonderful. I like your plan!

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            PS I knew you had the pink plate, but I have never been able to find a blue one. I am a blue girl. My depression glass and modern art glass is blue!! Crazy obsession, I know!

          • sbranch says:

            I understand completely.

        • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

          Margot, I’m sitting here turning green at the thought of you moving near the Door Penninsula in WI. Our favorite place to get away to: Door County, Wisconsin! If it is on the water, it will not be as cold in the winter as it is here in land-locked St. Paul! 🙂

          • Mo'a says:

            Margot, what a wonderful place. I have a soft spot in my heart for Washington Island…it was settled by Icelanders. The owner (who has passed away) of the ferry company, Arni Richter was an acquaintance of mine…we met when I was waiting for the ferry to go back to main land…I asked if they had a ladies room…when I came back he said to me “Are you Icelandic” I told him yes. He said “I just knew it, your accent and voice is just like my mother’s was”. He was half Icelandic and named one of his ferries Eyrarbakki which is the name of the place in Iceland where his mother came from.
            We had many lovely trips to Washington Island after that…he took my whole family around the island and showed us his Icelandic horses.
            We remember the wonderful fish boils and the smoked white fish.
            Home your dream comes true xoxo

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            The last comment was for Pat. And this one is for you Mo’a. I do know some of the history of the island, but I never got to go there, even though my former spouse was from Door County. He always said that there was nothing up there. (He is in GA now.)
            The house we saw last week was built in Norway and re-assembled on the island. Up until this year it had a sod roof!! Sounds like Al Johnson’s place. No goats though! LOL If the girlfriends would like, google Al Johnson’s Restaurant to see the “goat cam”. I assume they’re in the barn until Spring.
            Where do you live Mo’a?

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      Hi Margot~ You know how the weather here is in Wisconsin ~ be careful if you do decide to journey back here ~ we had 2 tornado warnings this past Sunday! We even had to go into the lower level of the school at our church for one of them~ as my grandson was being baptized ~ we will have a story to tell him when he gets older! ~
      Thank God we were all safe but so many other communities were not~ I sent prayers out to all those people who lost everything~ Do you remember several years ago we even had a warning in January~ scary stuff ~ Good luck in you search for a dream home in Door County~ it is such a pretty place!

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        ~Your seach~ find me one too!

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        Nothing like snow thunder! I was wondering what the heck was going on last Sunday when I was talking to my mom. She kept saying it was VERY windy, which she never does. On Monday I saw the new from IL. I am glad that you are all alright.
        Well Lynn, I expect you to visit if I move back there!

  28. Jeanne Hedin says:

    As I look out the window at a heavy frost on the ground, it was delightful to see your California garden and flowers! You are always a breath of fresh air . . . our earth angel! 🙂

  29. Trish K from Missouri says:

    We are so lucky in America, there is such a variety of beautiful landscape. And just as when you went to England you share it all here for us to enjoy and experience. I’m so thankful that I found this blog, I learn so much about the world through your pictures, and your writing, all that you and Joe are selflessly sharing. And also all the great tips and info passed along by all the Girlfriends. BUT, I vote for the cozy fireplace in MV with Girl and Jack. I am a homebody, and I love hearing about glassware and East Coast weather patterns, and kitty antics!

  30. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    Back to sanding and scraping paint…
    Have a great day Susan and Girlfriends!!

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      Margot, did you see my comment above to you? Which island off the Door Penninsula are you looking at? Oh–I’ll check out the info you put on above… 🙂

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Looks really nice! What a fun place to live! We go up to Washington Island to Siever’s Fiber Arts School and Norm likes the little reconstructed Norwegian farm with the Stave church.

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          I will like that church too! Are you Lutheran? I have something in an e-mail you should hear. LOL My friend here, who is from St. Paul, has a brother-in-law who was a pastor in that church!
          If we do get settled up there, you will have to visit.

  31. Nora Egan says:

    Wow! Thanks for the great tour of Casa California. Did you and Joe luck out on location/amenities, or what! I would so totally do this. And roses and daffs in November? Be still my heart. No wait, my heart wants to beat for Sammy and Sasha. Good kitties, good kitties! And girlfriends, isn’t it nice to meet “Team Susan” with Alfredo, Sheri, Kellee, Kitty and Bonnie and Reese, too! Oooh, and a look at the studio where so much happens. What a great post. Thank you so much, Susan and Joe. Now you all be careful going home . . . remember, Jack is patting his paws waiting for your return; and we girlfriends can’t wait for the T’giving and Christmas posts! Safe journey to all.

  32. Ann says:

    Sunshine in California and EB’s Christmas Town mugs – it’s a combo my mind cannot comprehend – I’d rather take the snow in Martha’s Vineyard if that’s okay and I’ll be waiting for your pics! Your blog posts never fail to lift my spirit so thank you Susan for brightening a grey November day in the UK with your gorgeous photos and big CONGRATULATIONS on the huge SUCCESS of A Fine Romance. Long may it continue.
    Love from Ann in Thame xx

    • sbranch says:

      Many years ago, when I still lived in California, before I moved east, my ex-husband and I thought it would be “fun” to go to Acapulco for Christmas. What an awakening. It was 98 degrees on Christmas Eve and all the Christmas spirit was wiped off us with the perspiration! This is when I discovered that perhaps Christmas should be celebrated in places that let you have a little fire burning. Ain’t life grand? Always living and learning!

  33. Tisa @ Seattle Retro says:

    Ooh I could almost smell the gardenia & roses from those lovely photos of your garden in A.G. (they looked a lot healthier than the ones I grew in Pismo, too close to the fog, they’d get black spot). So nice to see ‘behind the scenes at S.B.’ & Remnants–I kept expecting to see a familiar face or two, instead it was familiar places like those ‘golden’ SLO hills I used to drive on my mail route so long ago, amidst the avocado orchards as well as to your house high above the Edna Valley. Glorious scenery. Sounds like you had a blast at the show signing books for ‘our girlfriends’ (and a few guyfriends were in that line….yes?). I guess even Rachel Ashwell (Ms Shabby Chic herself!) was there (Pinterest photos of the show don’t lie,do they?!) so it’s become quite a destination event. My turn will come! In the meantime, tell Joe to drive the Romance Van safely back to MV, we await your road trip adventures 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t it funny how much the weather changes around here, sometimes only by a matter of yards! Close to the sea it’s too foggy, but only a couple of miles in, it’s SO hot … the trick is to get yourself somewhere in the middle. Love your memories of the place. xoxo

  34. Beverly Brewer says:

    Dear Susan—loved this post so much { like everyone else }, but your description of how your CA home was transformed by “putting a nice, clean dress on the old girl, adding a corsage of roses and gardenias and off she went to be the belle of the ball” was exquisite and touching. Our homes and gardens are expressions of “us” and we do want them all to be belles. The sweet touches of kitties and dogs mingling about are “cherries on top”. I also remember Ginny dolls fondly and they were favorites while growing up. Years later, I often told my precious daughter that she reminded me of those special dolls from my childhood and she would beam from ear to ear! “The heart has its own memory, like the mind, and in it are enshrined the precious keepsakes.” {Longfellow}

    • sbranch says:

      Lovely quote Beverly xoxo thank you for that. And I have to say, it’s funny, reading your own words through someone else’s eyes makes them look a lot better than they did originally, so thank you for that too …you have very nice eyes. xoxo

  35. Christie Ray says:

    Dear dear Susan and Suzanne and Belinda and Debs and Karen P……Hubby just came home and said, “Well, I’ve decided, for your birthday…against my better judgement (with a twinkle in his eye:) that you should have a kitty …and you should pick it out..” Well I have just wiped my tears of joy and had to jump on here to tell you girlfriends!! I’m heading to the shelter website, now. Wish me luck and say some sweet kitty finding prayers…I’ll let you know what we find:))
    Christie Ray from Franklin Tennessee

    • sbranch says:

      OH BOY!!!! LETTERS CAN’T BE TALL ENOUGH. HE IS A KEEPER!!!! SO happy for you Christie Ray. Here comes the real fun! And watch what that kitty will do. It will crawl up onto your husband’s lap and wrap its little furry self around his heart. Let us know. Too too sweet, and Happy Birthday to YOU!

      • Christie Ray says:

        THANK YOU!! I think that is exactly what will happen!! He’s such a tender hearted man, in that 6’5″ frame;)
        The shelter doesn’t open till 11 this morning so I’m like a little hen with her head off…running around in all directions with this nervous energy! But I had to land here on the sofa, under a quilt for just a minute to drink some coffee out of my EB Diamond Jubilee mug…and look for you here:) The photo on the site doesn’t say if it’s a boy or a girl kitty so I have chosen a name for both genders….If it’s a boy, he will be George (our very own little prince:) and if it’s a girl kitty:) she will be Lucy Maud (I have a great aunt Maud and love that it’s also the a part of the name of the author of our favorite book!!)
        Sophia spent the night with her cousins so we could finally celebrate my birthday…he brought home dinner from our fav restaurant and I enjoyed having uninterrupted time on the comfy sofa with my little crochet and sewing projects for the dollhouse Phia and I are putting together..it will be decorated for Christmas! (She’s even placed a tiny wreath on Eliza’s Cottage Door at the baseboard of the kitchen:) She’s come so far and is learning to handle tiny things so gently…melts my heart how she loves “Wiza” and “Don Dacka” (John Jacob) such a funny little girl, she is:)
        So thank you for letting me ramble a bit, here….
        I’ll finish my coffee, now, and we’ll be off to get our little Phia (as Tim says, “We need to take her with us….she’ll always remember the day we got the kitty.” Do you see how he melts my heart. And I told him I have been watching how you are raising Jack….and we need a carpeted post…so that is what we shall have! It’s a big day here! Thinking of you and thankful for all your sweetness and inspiration. Much love to you and your Joe as you travel home to your own kitty family.
        As Always,
        Christie Ray from Franklin Tennessee

      • Yay Christie Ray!! I’m thrilled you are getting a kitty for your birthday. Your hubby will come around – they always do. Good for you for rescuing a little love and providing him a good home. So happy for you!

  36. Amy says:

    What beautiful flowers! Especially the roses they are my favorite. I just cut the last of mine and brought them in just before the temperatures dropped to 19°…Brrrrabbits! And placed them in a vase next to my copy of “A Fine Romance”. It seemed like the right the to do. 🙂 I can’t even put into words how much I have enjoyed reading your book. It has stirred up so many wonderful memories of passing through some of the same places. A favorite hightlight of my trip to England was meeting Emma Bridgewater. I stumbled upon her in a Victoria magazine back in 199? so of course her shop was high on my list of places to visit. I will forever cherish my Bubble and Squeak pottery, my blue L-O-V-E bowl oh and course my Matthew Rice clock. I am so glad you had a wonderful trip…thank you for sharing. What an inspiration you are to me!

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

    There have been several dedicated Susan Branch days on my calendar lately.
    *Tuesday, November 5th, at Vroman’s, was a delight from my front row seat! Getting to deliver a personal thank you for ALL that you do, eye to eye, smile to smile, was so sweet.
    *Friday, November 8th, solo driving north from the San Fernando Valley to meet my sister in SLO for the Remnants show on Saturday. Missed your book signing, your booth, but I did meet a member of your Team Romance and her daughter on Saturday. 🙂 Also connected with a Girlfriend in the Remnants line. We are now in each other’s Contacts.
    *today, Friday, November 15th, I’ve just spent hours just immersing myself in the cheery-ness of your blog, photos, and Girlfriend comments. I’ve read the Yankee magazine, cover to cover, including all those interesting ads! It’s keeping me in a happy place as I wait for my husband to complete a cardiac procedure. Done arthroscopically, this procedure will, hopefully, improve his heart function. Susan, your cheer even brightens up the institution beige of a waiting room!!! 🙂
    I thank you for taking us along on the exciting adventure of your life! It’s full of love, sweetness, delightful surprises, and a grand appreciation of the warmth of hearth and home. Have a very, very safe trip home. May your Thanksgiving be warm, cozy, delicious, and glow with blessings!
    With much appreciation…Charlene

    • sbranch says:

      You are so sweet Charlene, thank you! Hope your husband breezed through his procedure and all good news is coming from it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. xoxo

  38. Melissa Leathley says:

    Hello Susan,
    I want to tell you something… I LOVE YOUR BOOK!!!!! I got one for my best friend in the world for Christmas and I couldn’t even take a breath before I opened the package and then opened the book. Oh my…I am so sad that I did not get one for myself! It is going on my Christmas Wish List for sure! My daughter told me I had to stop reading my friend’s because I was getting my finger grease all over it. 🙁 I almost couldn’t put it down but I sucked up all the willpower I had and put it in a box and wrapped it up so I wouldn’t be tempted again. She is going to LOVE it too!! Thank you for all you do for your girlfriends and for always making my day brighter when I read your posts. Travel safely home.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL “Finger grease!” hahahaha Melissa! Your daughter has a darling handle on the English language! You are a good friend! Thank you so much!

  39. Michele from Vermont says:

    Greetings Susan and Joe!

    What a jammed packed newsletter you created for all your girlfriends! Loved it!! It was so much fun to see your home in Ca. and how it all came together. Love those iceberg white roses and your garden.
    It really is great to see all your beautiful photos of everyone out there who work for you – what a special team you have! Of course, I love the cats as well. Who doesn’t love cats?! I bet Jack and Girl Kitty are really missing you and Joe.
    Your booth at Remnants looked grand and I bet it was a fabulous show! Now, it is time to pack up and head home to New England.
    Have a safe trip!

  40. Mary S. says:

    Thank you for showing us the inside of your California home/studio!! What a transformation!! I LOVE the painting on the shelf to the right of the big lamb poster!!
    So those GORGEOUS roses on the table at the show were from your garden! I should have known!!
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  41. Cindy Tuning says:

    So nice to see sunny California in your pictures. And what a transformation you’ve done with your property! Incredible what a little (or a LOT!!) of love and hard work can do! It looks like so much happiness in your California home but I know you must be anxious to get back to your even happier east coast home. I would need an on/off button to avoid being sad about leaving either place. I saw in an earlier post that you may be doing a book signing in Skaneateles and am keeping my fingers crossed that you will. The one at the Learned Owl was so much fun and I hope it wouldn’t be piggy of me to go to another one. How could I not when it’s only 3 hrs away and it’s such an adorable town. I went to Nursing School not far from there and the Nuns sent us on Retreat every year there. Believe me….not as much fun as it sounds . Safe travels to you and Joe. There’s no place like home!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Exactly, I need an on-off button, especially today, because today we go! On myyyyyyy. Remind me about Skaneateles when I get home Cindy because I’d love to go there!

  42. Kathy R from Iowa says:

    I love “befores” and “afters!” What a lot of work your California Dreamin’ home took. But with yours and Joe’s vision and hard work, you created a wonderful spot. Thanks for sharing with us.

  43. Kathy Gar... says:

    Thanks very much for the wonderful post! Glad you’re doing so well with your new book.


  44. Gail Marie says:

    Loved seeing that big pallet of books… I just finished it and love love love LOVED it. More will be ordered as gifts (shhhh) wonderful to see your Cali team. Great group! Xxoo

  45. Sara says:

    My husband and I had such a lovely time in Cambria and SLO last weekend. I found a few treasures at the Remnants Show and met some wonderful ladies as we stood in the line to meet you. We did get to Spyglass for dinner and it was everything you said it would be. Thank you! You are so gracious and generous and I enjoyed meeting you and chatting for a few moments. Wishing you safe travels back home and a Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are spending it.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Sara, what a nice note! Glad you enjoyed Spyglass. It was chilly that night, I hope you got to see the sunset there.♥

  46. Anna From Herefordshire says:

    Hi Susan,
    What a happy post! I loved reading it. It’s nice to know flowers are in full bloom and the sun shines somewhere even though we’ve had such dreary weather here. Still the rain makes the autumn leaves look like jewels and the crisp mornings transform the spider webs into lace doilies. Life is good.

  47. Linda says:

    Beautiful post and highly anticipated (by me anyway) to see your California digs! I did not think the before pics were too bad (viewed as a former Realtor) especially with the iron fence and the location, location , location…one of the great selling points of Realtors!! I did not know gardenias bloomed there but they are one of my favorite flowers. When I was in college my sorority sisters and I wore them in our hair year round!!! I can smell them now!
    I wish you could have had a picture of you at Remnants of the Past but know how those shows go and picture taking has to take a backseat!
    Your shop cats are adorable and your workers seem to be worth their weight in gold to do so much for you and Joe.
    Safe travels home to those darling kitties!!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I brought my camera to Remnants but never got a chance to click the button once although lots of others did … you can see some of them on FOSB our Facebook Page. I was driving with a realtor when I saw this property … I saw the trees, we drove straight to the back on the dirt driveway to where the creek is, and I was (as they say) smitten. Thank you Linda!

  48. That was one of the best posts, yet! I love the transformation of your California property… Fun and inspiring and also in one of my favorite places of all!

  49. Susan Cook says:

    Your book, a cuppa (heart covered, of course) and a rainy day………heaven.

  50. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Luuuvvv this blog & all the comments! Thank you all! Fun to see a real “Cottage Industry”! Your team is fantastic, Sue & Joe! – takes after their leaders!!!! On the road again, sending you prayers for safe travels, & a lovely trip whilst headed for the barn! xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Good one Joan, “cottage industry” — it’s like “playing business.” When I was little my mom would save all the small sized cartons and bottles … like the little individual cereal boxes. We made a store in my brother’s closet. One of us could stand behind “the counter” and pick groceries off the shelf and bag them for our customers! This is where I got my business acumen I am sure.

      • judy young says:

        When I was little, my mother gave me a “Sweet Shop” for Christmas one year. It had a counter, a cash register and several cute little glass bottles of different colored candies! I had so much fun with that thing! My mom was pretty creative and we made lots of “food” with that flour and water play dough stuff that hardens and you can paint it. We added “fruits and vegetables” and “cakes” to our inventory! Great memories……

      • judi says:

        What a GREAT memory …we did that too:)

        • Jackie P says:

          We played “store”, too, at my grandmother’s house. She had a small pantry off her kitchen. We would put a small step ladder in the doorway to the pantry to use as “the counter” and the pantry shelves contained our inventory. Fun memories!

  51. Dinahsoar says:

    LOVELY LOVELY LOVELY. Sigh. You never fail to delight me–every post is a gem and inspires me to live well, surround myself with lovely things and go for the gusto in life. Sammy could be Jack’s brother. Love the yellow lab, and the other mascot kitty. And stuffed jack with Joe’s sailor boy are the cutest duo. And you are surrounded by wonderful employees and friends…how nice is that?? Love the place in Cali. The show looks like fun!…could go on and on…TFS…I love coming to visit you here and looking forward to more wonderfulness when you return to the island…it’s almost Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming!!!…..from the hills of TN.

  52. Deborah Heater (Indiana) says:

    Safe travels back to MV Susan/Joe/Petey/Jackie (only because he’s a baby). I haven’t had a chance to be on for awhile I’m having back/sciatica nerve pain (don’t ask), as I was resting on cold/heat therapy for 7 days and nothing was helping I thought to myself how in the WORLD has Susan/Joe been on the schedule you have been on for 3 mos. and still in the “upright” position?? I’m also hoping you both have taken time to get your flu shots?? it seems to me after your England trip you got sick and Winter is upon us. OK, enough of Nurse Debbie just want you to stay well through the Holidays. I’m now on the strong stuff “meds” so if this seems all over the place I’m sure it is. I told my concerned daughter yesterday when she called to check up on me (I truly think she was worried Thanksgiving might be in jeopardy), and I told her “A lesser woman would be dead by now”, she saw no humor in that statement?? Well, just wanted to say hello and wish you blessings on your trip back home. I vote to forget the camera and bust in the door (I’m sure Jack will see you coming down the road from his window) and spend some much deserved quality time with your family. Blessings

    • sbranch says:

      You are good on meds Deborah … I sure hope they are helping. xoxo You are so good. Sending love ♥ and feel better soon!

    • judi says:

      Deborah, so sorry to hear about your back pain and hope it gets better soon. Susan’s blog is healing. Wonderful pictures, positive words, great old music selections:), friends made from the comments, etc. it helps soothe the brain and body.

      Hoping to hear from Elizabeth and how her Mom’s Birthday turned out.

      Sweet Sue, picturing you heading out and probably, like me, just enough room for you to squeeze into your seat:))) Happy trails!

    • Deborah, have you tried acupressure on yourself? YouTube has lots of videos about it.

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      Hi Deborah~ I hope your back gets better too!~ I have had several episodes of sciatica myself~ the pain is worse than natural childbirth!~ I did that 4 times~ proper body mechanics ~ light exercise~ walking ~ heat therapy~ and meds ~ things I learned through my physcial therapist and doctor have been helping me! Hang in there!

  53. Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

    Today’s the day, Susan and Joe! The Fine Romance Van is filled with treasures and your hearts are filled with sweet memories!! Just think how exciting it will be to travel, meeting more Girlfriends, seeing the countryside, and antiquing your way HOME!! Will you stop to visit your dad again? Enjoy every moment! Safe travels!
    Warm hugs,

    • sbranch says:

      We’re on our way Dawn! Hope that storm didn’t come your way?

      • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

        The tornadoes touched down about an hour south of here. Lovely little towns were demolished. It’s so very, very sad… So many lives have been turned upside down, just as the holidays are coming. We must keep the families affected in our thoughts and prayers.
        How was your visit to the English Rose Tea Room today? Isn’t it charming? Did you wear their beautiful hats? We will always remember my mom’s birthday celebration there two weeks ago! Hope we can return one day! Isn’t the area around Carefree beautiful? As we approached from the south, the views were spectacular!
        Safe travels, Susan & Joe!

        • sbranch says:

          It is so sad Dawn. Breaks my heart, at this time of year, or anytime really. I didn’t get a chance to get to the hat room, was so busy talking from the moment we arrived, but I did go afterwards and take pictures of them. What a great collection and almost everyone was wearing them at the tables … so cute. We came in from the south too … best kept secret is Carefree! I had no idea!

  54. Miss Jean says:

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who would volunteer to help you if I lived near. It would be awesome to be in the middle of all the fun! Your garden is just beautiful!!!!! We just moved from California to Colorado and still haven’t figured out how to garden here. I miss my Julia Child rose!!!! Blessings!!

  55. Merry says:

    You are such a generous blogger. Inspiring with each picture and description. How the photo of Petey and felt kitty can express such affection is amazing. As a valentiner this pic would a great valentine.

  56. Sandy says:

    I know you’ve both had a wonderful adventure criss-crossing our beautiful country, but I know you are both waiting for that moment that you open your door and are greeted by the two loves of your lives…..Jack and Girl Kitty. I can just imagine what a moment that will be for all of you. Wishing you safe travels and a wonderful homecoming!!

  57. Mo'a says:

    Hello Susan, I was hoping that you would show us your place in California. It is lovely. It was also fun to see the crew that take such good care of your place and business.
    Petey and Mini Jack look wonderful together…I think Mini Jack has a bit of hero worship going on…I can see it in his eyes 🙂
    This is such a wonderful post…my, my, you have been busy. What a wonderful time you must have had.
    Have a good trip back to you lovely Martha’s Vineyard home.

  58. Carolyn says:

    Just glorious! Oh, those roses! How wonderful to have created two such wonderful paradises, one on each coast! Thank you for sharing. Your posts always brighten any day!

  59. Laura Croyle says:

    Loved seeing the before and after photos of your place in CA! Love that the first thing Joe did was make you a kitchen garden surrounded by a white picket fence! What a guy! Such fun seeing the photos of your Remnants of the Past booth, too! AND the studio kitties! What a face that Sam has! Almost like Jack’s! Wouldn’t they make quite a pair! LOL! Wonderful to see photos of the girlfriends who work at your studio, too. Bonnie is my penpal! We hooked up through your FOSB fb page! What a sweetheart she is! Can’t wait to hear her stories of seeing you again! However, I am So sad that you won’t be making the trek up to my area in the Pacific Northwest for a book signing. I was SO hoping to meet you! Even my husband was planning to come with me to meet you and Joe after he saw your book! Oh well….maybe next time. (One can hope!) Thanks for sharing so much of your trip on your blog.
    Have a safe trip back home. Hope you find a cozy place and friendly company to spend Thanksgiving on your way home!
    Hugs and Blessings,

    • Laura Croyle says:

      P. S. Forgot to mention, I just got a brand new book just out, titled ” Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life”, by Marta McDowell. It’s full of photographs as well as Beatrix’s artwork. I just started it, but thought you would Love it!

      • sbranch says:

        I believe that is waiting for me at home! 🙂

        • Elaine in Toronto says:

          Hi Laura, thanks for mentioning the new book about Beatrix Potter. My friend grew up in the
          Lake District and is a huge fan of Beatrix Potter. I’ve just ordered the book for her for Christmas. I’ve also got her Susan’s book and a pair of beautiful vintage pillowcases with purple pansies embroidered on them. I think she is going to like Susan’s book the best, though.

    • sbranch says:

      Sorry we missed you Laura… just not enough time in the world for all we wish we could do! xoxo Tell Bonnie I said Hi!

  60. Jackie P says:

    Another great blog. Love to read all the comments — the excitement and camaraderie amongst the girlfriends. Who knew it would be sooo big? Have a safe trip back East. New England is waiting for you ❤ (not to mention two kitties who will be over the moon in a few weeks)!
    P.S. speaking of kitties, when I saw the studio kitties I thought of them as a “West Coast version” of Jack and Girl Kitty (or Cal-Kats for short)!

  61. Marsha MacLean says:

    I just loved this post, Susan; and reading all the girlfriends’ comments… Well, it felt just like we were at Remnants all over again! I spied myself in my hat in one of the pictures. 🙂 It was really fun getting to know so many of the girlfriends in line and getting to introduce myself as “Grumpy’s mom.”
    Your California home is a real treasure! It’s a place filled with lots of love, obviously… So much hard work and beauty! It is also obvious how much your staff loves what they do…I really enjoyed the “family photos.”
    By now you are on your way again; and I wanted to join with so many other girlfriends in saying hope you have safe travels and a blessed journey.
    Love, Marsha

  62. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Thank you for sharing your California home/studio. Definitely a house of creativity! I imagine those girls LOVE coming to work each day. You are certainly blessed to have them. We had snow earlier this week too! Instantly put me in the Christmas decorating mood. I was thinking of how Joe made your garlands last year, so I am going to try my hand at it this year. If he has any tips, I would appreciate it. 🙂
    Have a safe trip home!

    • sbranch says:

      Here is a VIDEO of him making a wreath … I think his main tip seemed to be not to try and be too neat about it, just get it on there. I think another good tip is, buy an undecorated, plain inexpensive wreath or garland as a base and then put on the pretty stuff. Thank you Joy!

  63. Martha says:

    Susan – It is such a joy to see your posts – your creativity is inspiring!
    Martha from CT

  64. Julia says:

    Thanks for the photo of the fenced garden as it was in progress. I’m
    having one put in before spring but it has to be sort of high to keep
    the deer out. I’ll show my garden man the video. We should have known
    that your studio would be cozy and not like a sterile office. Went to
    breakfast this morning and met 2 quilters so I think I’ll be fine
    settling into island life. Thanks for all of the fab blogs. We enjoy
    them so much. Going to check the web store now. Byeeeeeee!

  65. Jack says:

    Why do only the people seated on the left side of your picnic table smile ?

    • sbranch says:

      conspiracy theorist at large. xoxo

      • Wee bit of fun... says:

        I’m with your Dad on this…

        Just a bit of levity, a prophylactic mea culpa and not in reference to your lovely peeps in the photo but generally speaking isn’t it Lefty loosey Righty tighty?

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        I know the answer to Jack’s question! The smiles just hadn’t made it all around to the other side of the table yet! Actually I had noticed that, too…funny… 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          I never noticed … was the sun in their eyes, or stickers in that bench?

          • Wee bit of fun says:

            Or, perhaps it is the proverbial tea party group on the right 🙂

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            Hey Wee,
            The orignal TEA PARTY group was a bunch of women in Edenton, NC before the guys in Boston! Those women were a lively group and they even had a special teapot designed just for them. AND…we are still fun and lively. LOL
            Who wants to be taxed to death???

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:


  66. Janie Phillips says:

    It’s so good to see pictures of your studio/home and of the lovely people who keep it all going. Before, when I mailed banners to the studio, they disappeared into the mist, figuratively speaking, but now I can actually picture where they’re going. Plus, I love hearing about everyone who works there and knowing a little about the day to day operations. It’s just a lovely place in every way!

    I hope you and Joe are having a good trip west. I can’t believe you’re actually on your way to Oklahoma City and I can finally say … See you next week!! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It’s going to be great Janie … to actually meet! I feel like I know you already. xoxo

      • Mary Brehm says:

        This message is for Janie. Janie, I love love love the sweet banner that you make. I have the autumn and the christmas ones. They are so sweet right down to the little envelope and the little bubble wrap! Every time I look at them they make me smile : ) Thank you

  67. Mary Brehm says:

    Hi Susan. Wow! Woke up to weird and scary weather news here on the east coast. Illinois was hit especially hard. My thoughts and prayers are with the people there. Please, please travel safely. I will be happy knowing you are back and tucked safely in your sweet home on Martha’s Vineyard. I am always uneasy when my two 20 something daughters travel and breath a sigh of relief when they arrive safely at their destination. I was one of the first girlfriends, I think, to spot the “fine Romance” van on your journey west. I am in up-state NY. Give a toot as you pass through again on your way back. Love, Mary B <3

    • sbranch says:

      We’re in Arizona today and it looks pretty good so far, but we’re watching the weather. Not too much we can do if some sort of surprise comes along, but we’ll be careful!

      • Beverly Brewer says:

        AZ welcomes you, Susan and Joe, and the whole USA wishes you safe travels and we all know you have a sweet and furry “welcoming committee ” waiting for you!

        • sbranch says:

          Hi Bev, what a wonderful time we had at your lovely tea room. Thank you so much. You looked adorable in your red crown apron. It was so nice to meet you. Love being able to put your face to your name now! xoxo

  68. CAROLINE DELAO says:

    Oh Susan, don’t know how you have all that energy. I wish I had just a 1/4 of your creativity and energy. loved the before and after pictures of your home I’m down a ways south in Santa Paula, another fine place for weather, orchards , animals and Ocean. What a wonderful life you live and thank you for sharing with all of us.

    An insperation to say the least.

    Thank you!!!!!!

  69. sherrill says:

    Loved seeing the photos of your studio/ house! And those beautiful daffodils…Oh, my!
    Guess what? My tea towels arrived in today’s post!!! Hooray….I just love the “Come. Sit. Stay.” towels!! And, tomorrow when my dear friend arrives for tea, I’m going to say to her, “Come. Sit. Stay.” : )

    • sbranch says:

      Yay! They got there … happy — how was tea?

      • sherrill says:

        Susan, tea was wonderful! Thanks for asking! My friend is a widow whose husband died three years ago this month…just a few days after Thanksgiving, so it’s a difficult time of the year for her. When she’s having a struggle, she knows she can call on me ( although she doesn’t need to be having a struggle to come here) and she does. We keep in touch via email and FaceBook.
        So, the other day, she messaged me and asked to come by, so we got together and had tea and some Apple coffee cake I made ( gluten- free, dairy- free) . I have IBS, hence,the GF-DF. Jules and I have been friends for 16 years now. She was such an enormous help when I was undergoing chemo and my husband was working. I just can’t tell you how much help she was! God is so good to have blessed me with such a good friend.
        I want to give her a copy of AFR for Christmas; she will absolutely love it…..she’s British and I’m an Anglophile, so it’s great. Well, I didn’t mean to go on so long! Take good care, Susan. Safe journey……Sherrill

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        “Come, sit, stay” is what we tell our schnauzers to do when training…LOL! 🙂

  70. Sheryl from Chico, CA says:

    Hi Susan,
    I think this is one of your best posts. I love all the photos and can just feel everyone’s excitement. You and Joe give so much of yourselves to all of us; you deserve to feel special and blessed. I just love you “guys” so much. xoxo

  71. judi says:

    Lovely you made it to the charming tea room in AZ – hope to see pictures.

    Didn’t you get a felted squirrel too? Such talented people out there.
    How apropos you are winding your way home . . . the Queen Mary 2 will be arriving in NY harbor in an hour or so:) Tuesday, Nov. 19th 5 – 5:30 a.m. I will be happy when you are back on eastern time. When I arise so early it is nice to feel you are up too.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m going to have to readjust to the east coast time…luckily we’re going slowly but it was daylight savings time in CA, “fall-back” — when we crossed into AZ, and had to go forward an hour, because they don’t believe in daylight savings time here, I have NO idea what time it will be in Oklahoma when we get there!

  72. Lani nelson says:

    Thank you for the fun post. I have always been curious concerning the inside of your California home. (Let’s be honest- nosey!) Wow! A magical transformation inside and out. It’s all charming of course. Drive safe and enjoy your trip home.
    Home is such a wonderful word.

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

    I just love the beautiful flower garden photograph. What a lovely place to dream! One’s imagination would know no limits.

  74. N. Jean says:

    We are still without power from the storms that came through Indiana on Sunday. We were fortunate that all we lost was electric, so many lost so much more. I have really enjoyed this blog, it especially gave me a warm feeling after sleeping in a very cold house the last couple of nights. Thank you for the views of your place in California.

    • sbranch says:

      My prayers have been with you and everyone in your part of the country. What a shock. Stay warm Jean, xoxo

  75. Just wanted to follow up on inquiry to chain store for the book. They did not receive stock but I ordered & it arrived today!! Tried to flip thru…but pg. 252 made me come to a halt. I love photography & have a similar shadow of my husband & me…only from the back of our motorcycle….ha. Last week I kept one of my shadow while I snuck up on a blue heron crane,,,the closest I ever got! I know next week I will be thinking of all life’s blessings. I know I am thankful for YOUR TALENT!! Thanks for all your work and positive outlook. It sure is a pleasure to view the beauty of your art and homes and “stuff”. Take care.

  76. Jack says:

    Well, we got total overcast this AM at four. At least Joe won’t have a blinding sun in his eyes as you guys travel eastward toward New Mexico! And in a few more hours you’ll be at your next book signing while making a nice large foot print on the contenintal path to your east coast home . Happy trails and happy signing and hello Oklahoma after that!
    You people just gad about all the time, I wish you could settle down and do something with your life! Dad

  77. Jan says:

    So enjoyed seeing your California home and studio. Beautiful flowers! Wonderful transformation! What a homey spot! I often wondered how you stored all the things for your store and now I know. Have not been on the computer due to downed trees and power outages in our area but everything is up and running now for me. Other people are still dealing with the aftermath of the storms as I’m sure you’ve heard. Safe traveling as you make your way homeward.
    P.S. So enjoy reading the comments from your Dad! Always interesting – with love attached.

  78. Mary Brehm says:

    Sue. I went to the dollar store today and got a whole goody bag full of fun things to make my own garland. I am so excited! Thanks for all of your inspiration. PS. Take a look at the newest issue of Better Homes and Gardens. There is an article in there on makeing homemade garland…I wonder if you inspired them?? : )

  79. Staci from Colorado says:

    Hi Susan

    I’m new to the blog. I just want to thank you for doing what you love to do and making a difference in the lives of others by personalizing your success. I had a wonderful “mother/daughter” trip during your “Remnants of the Past” visit in San Louis Obispo with my Momma Bear Janie from Northern California (we were the ones who had to bug out cuz we had to catch a plane), but Janie got her hug in and was totally satisfied with that (thank you!!! It meant the world). Inspired by you, we stayed on the Queen Mary and made memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you for that gift.


  80. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Praying for your safe (and fun) return home to Martha’s Vineyard! Oh what a whirlwind of a chapter you have woven these many months on the road! Your life story just gets better and better! God Bless you for all the joy you bring to us Girlfriends along the way!!!! Take care of yourselves!

  81. Kay - North Central Texas says:

    You take happy with you wherever you go Susan! Looks like you had a blast and it’s so nice to see pics of your fabulous staff. I recently spoke with Sheri and she was so helpful and pleasant.

    Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving week coming up with your family and friends.

  82. Jacqueline says:

    Hi Susan!

    It’s me! Your kindred spirit, Jacque, from Oklahoma! I was in pharmacy school the past 5 years in Weatherford, OK. It was three hours of traveling distance (and many more hours of study distance) away from my beloved Owasso (just north of Tulsa) and my Grammie. The one who taught me to read, introduced me to you, and who ultimately saved my life with her guidance. While there, she sent me all of your books for the different seasons (each one with a tear-jerking inscription) and we followed your blog together and discussed it over many phone calls. We dreamed of seeing each other for holidays and breaks and what we would cook, how we would decorate, and activities we would plan. We were inspired by your homeyness! And I’m home now, ready become a pharmacist.

    Anyway, I’m writing to tell you about a bakery named The Sweetness Factory in Weatherford, OK that is a very quick stop off of I-40 (Exit 82), the way I imagine you’ll come into OK. Everything there is very tasty, and the shop is so cute, but the thing that makes it special is its cause. The woman who opened it is battling cancer for the second time and she was told if she wanted to do anything, not to wait. So she opened the bakery, but not for a profit. Every dime after overhead goes to feeding the hungry children of Custer County. Please watch the following video of an OKC newscast. http://m.youtube.com/watch?autoplay=1&v=hONH_QnJh6Q&desktop_uri=%252Fwatch%253Fv%253DhONH_QnJh6Q%2526autoplay%253D1 Isn’t she/it neat?! I thought maybe if you get a chance you would want to stretch your legs and check this place out. And while you’re there, you’ll have to sample some sweets, right? 🙂 Also, as a side note, the scrapbook store in town has a selection of your stickers.

    I will be at your book signing on Monday at Full Circle (my dream come true)! We were so excited that you were coming to OK that we planned out the rest of your stay for you, haha! First, you and Joe will come straight to our very cozy, quaint house after the book signing and stay in our guest bedroom. We’ll draw up a bath for you and serve you a hot meal. We’ll have fresh flowers in your room and magazines for you to peruse, along with extra blankets and pillows in the closet. We’ll give you a tour of the house, and although we don’t have enough Peter Rabbit memorabilia to make a whole room, your artwork and genius is sprinkled throughout the entire house. Once you’ve had a wonderful nights sleep, on Tuesday, we will take you to our favorite tea room, The Pink House, in Claremore. Wednesday we can crowd in the tiny kitchen and make pies and prep for the next day’s feast, complete with your cider! Grandpa and Joe will be out in the wood-shop. Oh, if only!


    Your girlfriend,


    • sbranch says:

      Oh my kindred spirit, how sweet you are! xoxo I love your Grammie just from your beautiful words, and I can’t wait to see you on Monday!

  83. Just made it to pg. 215. Thanks for not spoiling my surprise about my namesake created to scare away the rooks! So glad to see you captured her SHADOW ! This book is a true JEWEL !!!

  84. Susan, I might have missed this, but where are you spending Thanksgiving this year? I was just thinking, it’s getting close to the time when you’d have all that bread out and drying! I’ll have to look back at your Turkey Day posts from last year. They, like every other post, were the height of holiday coziness!

  85. I just got back from visiting family back home in San Francisco and their yellow Princess Di roses were still blooming! It snowed here today in Colorado and was 11 degrees at one point! Hmm roses or snow? It’s a toss up. Thinking of Thanksgiving too. Safe travels back.

  86. Karen Scott says:

    Oh my gosh! This morning I decided that maybe I should make my (your) Cranberry Sauce early. I got out my Autumn book in order to start a shopping list. Then it occurred to me that I was probably a little behind on your blog posts (Adult Distraction Disorder). As I was reading, I came across a picture of my friend and former neighbor, Teresa, in your booth at the Remnants of the Past show!! Teresa is the person that introduced me to all things Susan Branch in 1994!! What a kick! Wish I could have been there too! Next year 🙂 You’re such an inspiration 🙂
    Karen Scott

  87. Another cool thing about Gloria, the “garden mistress” is she gets to live with the chickens! This Gloria (real) has collected chicken-y things since late 70’s. Hope you share this with your friend across the pond.

  88. Cheyenne Renard says:

    Greetings beautiful lady and Sir Joe, I wanted to wish you a very Thankful Thanksgiving , i didnot get to see u in Pasadena or in San Luis Obispo i was so sad not to be able to go. Car trouble n some other stuff its the anniversary of my mothers death Nov 30th n my father in Nov too , so its hard becuase this is the first Holiday with out her, in body will have to remember her, its hard to loose a mother. But most have had it worse but i still want to get your book. I wish you safe travels n drive safely i told your gaurdian angel to drive slow n stop n smell the roses n hay. When i saw the pic of the home in Az with the huge rock above it , i laughted to kill my self. I told my husb when i have had enough i will go live in the home in Az and wait for the rocks to shift ha ha just a sick joke but the home is in direct line of the rock should i say rocks. I pictured road runner and wile coyote n had a good laugh , my mum n i are auzzies my sis n bro too. so the english sayings n the auzzie sayings are some times really funny. Also Hampton Inns got voted for top of the year so ur in good hands with them , each time we have stayed there we had a great rest. I know ur anxious to see ur fur balls. I will also pray for great weather going to the vineyard also. My love to you both n to Peg too. again I am so thank ful for you n Joe n the fur balls n Peg too . I know ur in high demand and i think its great how happy you make ppl another happy person is what the country needs. Post pic when u get hme and of this years Thanksgiving even if you dont end up doing it. Blessings to you both for safe travels keep posting pic n hug the driver n give him a nice sholder rub all the driving has to get tiresome but thank goodness you only drive 5 hrs and at least Joe got to see the metior site my hubby wants to go real bad thanks Joe but i know he would enjoy it so some day we will go . Love to you stop n walk every few hrs you dont want your blood to sit , i have a blood clot n cant sit in one spot for very long so know the routine, before i forget the site Our best bites.com has a list of 10 things she loves one was the worlds softest sox , she wears them to stay warm , thaught of you both so get some from Costco 10.00 for 3 pr and at world market Jo’s Candy they are an old time candy the author of the cook book loved as a child so do get some for Chirstmas Joe will love the sox too , but do get some for your self too also if Peg reads this tell her and go to the site on her blog to get the rest of her fav’s they are reasonable too nice girls that share the site. again Happy Day XXX Love to you Cheyenne n Robert XXX hugs to you both XXX

  89. Pingback: Grand garden dreams — Avidly Dreaming

  90. Ann McKenna says:


    I was at your SLO event and I would like to “save” this blog somehow. Could it be sent to my email address again? I would really appreciate your help!
    Ann M

    • sbranch says:

      How about if I give you this link and you copy and paste it to somewhere you can save it? Will this work? You can always Google Susan Branch Who Needs Normal and it will come up there too.

  91. Ann McKenna says:

    Yes, this worked! Thank-you so much for your help! By the way, meeting you and Joe was the highlight of our vacation! Thanks for being so gracious. We had a ball!

    Ann McKenna

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