How We Spent Black Friday

Hi Girls, thought I’d show you how we spent Black Friday . . .

People keep asking, are we home yet?  No, we are much too easily destracted. We know that winter will be long, and have decided that we must make hay while the sun shines.  And yesterday, oh yes, the sun was shining.

So our Black Friday was not spent inside a Target or a Walmart, but wandering the back roads of Kentucky, stopping to breathe the fresh clean air at the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill outside of Lexington where it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

We did shop in the gift shop, which I think counts.  And got some fun homemade little things.  While I was there I heard a little girl exclaim, “Mommy, this is the best day EVER.” Then we went for a wagon ride.  Clip-clopped under horse power around this beautiful little village.

It’s just gorgeous in this part of the country.  We’ve never been to Kentucky before!  It’s like a Sunday drive, the kind you dream about.  Red roofed barns, horse farms and white fences for miles.

Little houses and big ones.  Fields and fountain, moor and mountain . . .

And now for December Girlfriends, it’s rabbit-rabbit tomorrow.  How are you going to spend December?  The TV was so filled with Buy! Buy! Buy! ads last night; the news showed fighting amongst mobs of customers inside stores and some of them had their children with them!  It made me a little nervous for the actual spirit of Christmas.  It’s good, makes me know how much peace is my spirit of Christmas, and makes me think better how to spend ours. Like this.  You give me a book, I give you a tie, and Oh, zee crackling fires vee vill make!

I see it perfectly in these cozy little houses, even without a Christmas light in sight.  Looks like the valley people are all dug in for winter. I hope they have their Honeycrisp apple supply stored in their cellars.  As for us getting home, first we thought Saturday, then Sunday, now we’re looking at Monday as a possibility.  But I’m not putting any money on it.  On our way through Maryland this morning!  Byeee!  xoxo

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355 Responses to How We Spent Black Friday

  1. Shirley Wells says:

    Your reference to “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” reminded me that when I was a child, I used to jump over the foot of the bed on the first day of each month. Something I read in a book that was supposed to bring good luck. I wonder how old I was when I stopped…

  2. nanette from alabama says:

    I am so happy for you to have had your trek across the good US of A but I must confess, I am looking forward to your being home and quite selfishly, I admit, hoping that brings LOTS of blog entries! We have been missing you just terribly and what is Christmas going to be like if we aren’t fortified with all the warm, cheery, cozy Susan B. blogs, I ask you? 😉 Forgive our greediness! We can’t help loving you and your blogs like crazy cakes!

    Oh! We do thank you, ever so much, for these wonderful blogs we’ve gotten the last week! It’s been so good hearing what you are doing and where you’ve been! WELCOME HOME!

  3. Lora webster says:

    Susan, if you have time you should try to drive through oxford maryland. It is truly your kind of town!

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

    What fun to share your day with you by way of photographs. Thanks so much, and , as the grandchildren say, “Mo! Mo! ” (Translated “More!”) Safe journey, happy roadtrippers!

  5. audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, MO says:

    For more than thirty five years my family has celebrated a Thanksgiving feast on the Friday after Thursday Thanksgiving. My mother was an early ed teacher, and by the time she got a day off on Thursday she was tuckered! We would head to my maternal grandmother’s for Traditional Thanksgiving dinner with that side of the family. It was always a formal affair with real china and crystal and silver.
    But on Friday… my dad’s one and only relative, his much younger brother, would come to our house and we celebrated together. I believe it all started the year he got out of the Navy and came home for the first time in years.
    All these years later, my parents are gone. But the tradition lives on as we cousins, and the cousins of cousins, gather to do it all over again on Friday.
    I have never set foot in a store on Black Friday. I am not much of a recreational shopper and prefer to give handmade and home made for gifts at Christmas.

  6. Sandra R says:

    How funny! We live in Lexington not far from Shaker Village. I am eager for you to get home for some reason, and here you were hanging out in my neck of the woods, and I didn’t know it!! When I told my husband (he always knows when I check your blog because I do not always remember to silence the little bird), he said “What? And she didn’t come by to say “Hi!”?” . You and Joe are kindred spirits in traveling and that is a good thing. Enjoy, and safe trip home.

  7. Kari says:

    You have created such a beautiful photo journey and your stories stick in my mind! Thank you for the peace and love you bring to your blog! Happy Travels~ Kari

  8. Sara McKeefer says:

    Good for you! Some people are runners… rushing throughout their days, seeing the beauty of them only as a blur. Some people are walkers, dutifully looking for passersby to offer a hearty hello. But you and Joe? You are amblers, I’m thinking, sauntering slowly, taking it all in, looking for early winter surprises around the next curve, beyond the crest of the barren hills.
    Thanks for taking us with you! You two do make traveling fun!

  9. Stephanie says:

    I would love to see more of your trip to the Shaker Village. That one is on my bucket list. It looks incredible. I’ve been to the one in Pittsfield, MA and it was such an incredible, restorative day. Just being there brought me such peace.

    Watching those images of people fighting like loons over a TV or other gift – it’s like watching another culture, another place where people don’t celebrate the same holiday as I do. What in the name of heaven is going on? This year it was compounded by stores (NY tri-state area) opening on Thanksgiving. Really? It’s gross. It’s like people have lost all sense of stopping. Breathing. Being IN the moment. Sitting with aunts, uncles, cousins, family and talking – munching on too many chips before dinner, sitting around a table, avoiding some inevitable family drama, getting annoyed when they don’t get to the table fast enough so the soup gets cold and mostly laughing and being grateful that we’re together. Oh yeh – stuffing too – the best stuffing and pie helps.

    I spent Black Friday taking down the autumnal decorations and getting some of the Christmas stuff up from the basement (it’s a short year this year Girlfriends! Only 3 weeks!). This month I’ll shop in as many little stores as possible, go to a little candle shop to get beautiful red tapers for the Christmas table, see “The Nutcracker” and “White Christmas” at local theaters, Christmas lunches, parties, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, finding time to watch the DVD’s of “White Christmas”, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Homecoming” (the movie that started The Waltons – great Christmas movie) and so on.

    No fist fights in a Walmart. No crappy imported electronics that will break in 8 months. Just lots of Christmas music and being super organized so I can find time to visit with friends and sit by a fire watching the tree drinking tea.

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      YAY my kind of holiday, just kicking back and enjoying it. no hassles, or rushing through the holidays to get shopping done ( what is with all this shopping anyway??), just a quiet, relaxed type of holiday with family and friends. thinks it about time to put an end to the black Thursday/Friday thing and just slow down a bit and breathe between the holidays. I haven’t shopped in a retail place for years, and as for shopping on Black Friday, nope I refuse to participate. I just don’t see the need to give up my comforts and family to go on this crazy shopping fueled spree. not for me. I like the quiet slow pace of going to the store where you can chat with the cashier and everyone in line joins in the conversation. you can keep that fast rushed pace if you like it, i’ll stick to my slow paced holiday pace and enjoy it.

      • sbranch says:

        I would like to see Black Friday be voted down too. Wouldn’t that be great? Shopping would take place anyway. Our economy does not depend on this thing that just started a few years ago.

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          ~ Me too~ especially since Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving!~

        • Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

          I agree with you guys! No getting up at the crack of dawn just to be shoved her and there. I like relaxing type shopping like Pat said.

      • Silvia Niomi says:

        i can’t believe people act this way, during a holiday that is suppose to be filled with all things good. i have slowwwwed way down for the holidays. I just want to enjoy them. Going to these big box stores in a crazy frenzy is just not my cup of tea. In fact, i would rather have my cup of tea in front of a cozy fire. I tried it one year just to see what the hub-ab-balo was all about and geesh! It was no fun. I went at 1 am. The parking lot was full, the crowds were huge – no way was i going to stand in a line that snaked its way all around the huge store, just for a scarf and socks. The merchandise was very picked over. But, eventually i found a crock pot that had the price marked way down. So, i broke down and decided to buy it. There were no carts so I had to carry the darn heavy crock pot in my arms, while i made my way through the jostling crowds. In one instance, a fellow customer unaware I was behind her (i’m pretty short…. my husband says he looses me all the time in a crowd) bumped me really hard. I lost my grip on the crock pot and it started to fall to the ground. I swooped over and picked it up just in time. However, my pinky bent way over backwards. The pain. Now, I was frustrated and in pain. No way, i set the crock pot down and marched out of that store and never looked back on Black Fridays, never again. I now look for the sweet downtown stores that are old fashion. They are much more charming. I look for Christmas parades and home made goodies. That’s where you will find me…. with my birds of a feather.

  10. Cynthia Pfledderer says:

    Christmas gifts should be from the heart and I just can’t believe shoving for deals creates a joyous spirit. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our gifts were homemade with love rather than the 5 am bargain? Your blog is a sweet respite from holiday madness and has put me in the mood for sewing the Christmas stocking I cut out with a pattern earlier today. Thank you.

  11. Ann Y in PA says:

    So glad you are loving Kentucky….good friends live in Louisville and we love that drive across the state to see them – just beautiful and so many charming little towns to visit. Speaking of that….we spent Black Friday decorating and then today off to Lititz, PA for Small Business Saturday. If you are ever driving near there…STOP ! Such a charming town, lots of history, just named in an award for best little town in America, and a great, small bookstore – Aarons ! So warm, so friendly, so cozy – hoping that someday you will have a book signing there. And across the street a Chocolate Café with hot chocolate to make you swoon. Now home…already watched Miracle on 34th Street and put my beloved Uncle Joe’s (aka Santa to me ) cane by our fireplace in his memory….so tonight….maybe The Bishop’s Wife….inspired by your post !
    Drive safe, have fun, enjoy it all !

  12. Miss Marion says:

    Gorgeous “seen-ery” you have there!! A very nice distraction!! But I have to say, that is one serious set of horns!!! Ouchie!

  13. Nadine says:

    When I saw the first photo of this post, I KNEW where you were! Welcome to my part of the world! (Although I live farther west, near Mammoth Cave National Park.)
    You must come again in the spring, when the flowering trees are blooming and the young foals are playing inside those white fences. I am glad you’ve made it safely across the country this far.
    Personally, I always spend Black Friday in decorating for Christmas. Much nicer listening to Christmas music at home than those crowds–no bargains out there that I want that badly!
    May sunshine and smooth roads lead you home to the Vineyard.

  14. Joanie B from San Diego says:

    I just love the photos that you share, real homes in real towns in my country, true bliss! I haven’t seen The Bishop’s Wife in ages, I think I will buy it, and start a new tradition.
    Bah! Humbug! Black Friday is all hype by the merchandisers to increase the frenzy, no thanks is what I say, I spent part of my day starting some homemade gifts, much more satisfying.
    Safe home to you both!

  15. Jean says:


    Pleasant Hill is a great place to spend the day after Thanksgiving. I’d love to visit there in early winter. My husband and I have been fortunate to visit twice (summertime) and spend the night too. It is quite an experience after the day tourists leave…so quiet and peaceful.
    Safe travels back to MV!

  16. Lee Rose says:

    This is a perfect example of why, when I am having a “should I stop and smell the roses or keep running the rat race?” moment, I think, “What would Susan Branch do?”

  17. Cyndi in NC says:

    I NEVER got shopping till the Monday after Thanksgiving. Then it’s just to pick up little things for my loved ones, what I don’t make that is. It is a shameful thing the way people are behaving, it truly is BLACK! As you said there are children there and even if there wasn’t it’s still awful.

    The pictures of KY are familiar to us as my husband was born in Frankfort, KY and his family goes back to just after the Revolutionary War. It is a beautiful part of our country, as are all the ones you’ve been through. *S* Anyway love the local citizen with the horns. *L* It is fun to drive and stop when you see something that looks interesting. You’ll be home soon enough and can talk about all the things you’ve seen as you settle back at home, hugging your kitties. They will be so happy to see you!! Travel safely home. Hugs.

  18. Gayle says:

    Oh, how beautiful! I found it interesting, my son just visited there as well a few days ago and was so impressed. Now I got to see the photos! I am with you, why spend Black Friday in a store? I put up my Christmas decorations that day.

  19. martha says:

    I love Pleasant Hill! It is just that, isn’t it?? Did you get some Rebecca Ruth candy?? I ate a whole box one day sitting and watching people there… didn’t mean to… and was a little tipsy as I am a teetotaler…LOL

    We shopped with local shops today; and, I was rewarded with a “very very old cabinet from Tennessee” — so the label says. And, it is! Good things come to good girls! Be safe!

  20. Christy Keyton says:

    You definitely picked the higher road for Black Friday, Susan. I think it should be called Black Friday because of the way people behave on that day!

    • sbranch says:

      Not only that, the TV was selling it the whole week before Thanksgiving … they think we are lemmings!

  21. Linda in Scottsdale says:

    Beautiful Shaker Village and love the cow! (or steer). Take your time and enjoy; you only “come this way” once! That is what adventures are for.

  22. Patricia Wehner says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE getting to tag along on your trips and see wonderful sights! And when you get off the ferry at home, and open the door, I know a little girl and boy who are going to be soooooooo happy and excited to have you home! Kitty snuggles, Patricia

  23. Linda Ishmael says:

    Oh my gosh!!! You were HERE and I didn’t even know it!!! (In Kentucky). If I had known I would have shown you around proper like and feed you some of the best food you ever tasted. The big brick house is RJ Corman’s. He built a large railroad enterprise and never graduated high school. He recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Great person. Did you get to eat while at Shaker Village and have the lemon pie, yummmmm? Where else did you go? Can not believe you were here!! So glad you got to drive through and see how beautiful my home is. Come back soon ya hear!!

    • Kathy Fletcher says:

      NO LInda-the brick house is not Ricky Corman’s- his is a big white farm house right down the road from my house-i have known him and his family for 40 yrs…..well i knew him-he passed away not long ago. he gave that land to his banker and his banker built a house there…right on what was once part of RJ Corman farm land. But i thought it interesting that you were on here and live here close by too……

  24. judy young says:

    I have spent the last week decorating the house for the holidays and I had finished it by Thanksgiving which is a first for me. I owe it all to you Susan, you really got me in the spirit when you posted about Yankee magazine coming to your house to photograph! Tree is up and looks magical in the living room. I also trimmed a smaller (white feather tree) with turquoise and silver ornaments in the bedroom. Placed it on a round silver tray, dusted with snow “crystals” and silvery objects placed around the base of the tree. I have never done this particular tree before. Inspiration just sort of took over! Thanksgiving meal went beautifully, just me and my husband and two sons that live close by.

    I am usually working on Black Friday and didn’t venture into the usual stores. Instead I went to a huge antique mall and was captivated by the Christmas music they were playing. The booths were all beautifully decorated with sparkly Christmas magic! A wonderful day to visit an antique store, only a few people there. I found a two-foot sparkly silver tree with it’s base wrapped in burlap, a Country French print for the kitchen, silvery ornaments and a Christmas cookbook. So much fun. Now, unfortunately, I have to go back to work on Monday…….Safe travels Susan and Joe…’s always so nice to be back home!

  25. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh, I love how you spent Black Friday….you’re my kind of gal! I would love to ride in that wagon…(my thoughts the minute I saw your picture! smile…) I also worry about Black Friday and how it effects those who participate…it’s such a different world!

    Oh, I’m so glad you are enjoying your trip home…the way it should be! Life is too short not to enjoy it, no matter what you do!

    I’ve been watching Christmas movies (every chance I get….ha..ha..!) Tom’s taking a nap, so I turn them on!! Soon, he wakes up and finish watching it with me…smile.. Actually, he really likes them too..

    Drive safe and enjoy yourselves…

  26. Susie Kunze says:

    Oh my gosh, you were at Pleasant Hill! I was there twice this fall. I am glad you were able to visit my state, it is beautiful.

  27. Donna E. says:

    What a lovely way to spend Black Friday! Safe travels!
    Donna E.

  28. Sue G says:

    I am not a black friday shopper either…..time to haul out the outside decorations since the temperature hovered to the 40’s how pleasant since we got the sun too. Loved that you are having the opportunity to take things slow. The business of the season will soon be here for one and all. Love the Bishops Wife, one of my all time favorite movies and that sermon sure hits the heart of the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy the rest of your journey home.

  29. barbara miller says:

    after a festive thanksgiving, getting the Christmas tree on Friday, today was a very black Saturday. must find things in this sadness to be thankful for because living tonight just hurts. your post reminds me that life goes on even when bad things happen. enjoy the sunshine and say a prayer for those who could use the cheer.

  30. Elaine says:

    Oh my, don’t you just love “The Bishops Wife?” It is my favorite Christmas movie and I don’t understand, why it is not aired more often during the Christmas season.
    Cary Grant is an absolute angel, haha!

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      The Bishop’s wife will aired on the Hallmark channel this Thursday at 8:30 est. for me that means channel 187, so all of you check your channels for the Hallmark movie channel and mark Thursday for The Bishop’s wife. now that is one of the best holiday movies, last week it was Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck. I love those old holiday movies. 🙂

  31. Linda of Shadow Hills says:

    Good for you two !!! <3

    My hubbie and I got to take a Fall Color road trip last fall and this summer a National Parks road trip in the West . . . great memories were made on both trips … so here is to You and Joe … ENJOY !!! : )

  32. marion Rose says:

    Good evening Susan,
    I think most of our Girl Friends agree, we do not shop on Black Friday. I do not like crowds nor do I like standing in lines. Watching the news, I think most of the shoppers forget the reason for the season. I loved the way you got side tracked! Wish I could have joined you for a ride in the wagon, how fun for you. By your wonderful pictures, the last leg of your trip has been nice weather. May your last days of travel be easy for you.
    Our son arrived this afternoon and brought down all of our Christmas decoration from the attic. Then he put our large wreath on our garage. Happy Day! You can guess what we will be doing for the next week.
    Soon you will be saying—–We are home safe and sound——

  33. barbzie says:

    I also can’t stand the thought of the gimmee gimmee spirit of Black Friday. It’s just twisted….people long for the loving simplicity of a Hallmark commercial or a Lifetime Christmas Movie, but mess it all up with the greed bandwagon. How did I spend it? Sitting at my little oak table by my window, my table lamp on, my peppermint coffee in my pretty cup. My paints, brushes, and ornaments all organized in front of me, while I try to stay calm as I paint each of these little gems to send to their homes, both near and far. (This is the first year that Australia has discovered my Etsy shop, and I’ve had about five of my pretties sent to the land down under, as well as one to Sweden and one to Norway. I’m still amazed by that, as I sit here in my small Indiana town, with my Pandora Christmas station on, and my little brushes in hand, making keepsake after keepsake. It’s just like a dream, and I love it. Thank you, Susan, for sharing of yourself so effortlessly. We do love it, and hang on every word, and are so blessed to be girlfriends with a dear girl like you!

  34. Kristen says:

    Which part of Maryland did you drive through? I live in Carroll County, it’s very rural & beautiful!

  35. Oh, so glad to see that you enjoyed Pleasant Hill! It’s one of my favorite places on earth. You were literally 20 minutes from my farm (back toward Lexington). It makes me really happy to think of you getting a glimpse of Kentucky’s beauty (we often get bad press!). I hope they made you “kindly welcome” while you were there.

    • Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

      Pleasant Hill has always been on my to do list! Now I just have to tell my husband.

  36. Linda says:

    Did all my shopping on Tuesday…..extra stores of milk etc so I could totally stay home all through the week & weekend! I can’t think of anything in this world that I have to have so badly that I would join that madness. THe really sad part of all this is the people who have to work in those stores and can’t enjoy Thanksgiving with their families…they are the victims of all the greed…and how about the pizza hut manager who was fired for not opening so his employees could be home? They relented after it made national news and gave him his job back but what a deal. The Macy’s parade was more advertising than parade or bands which was also infuriating. It looks like your idea of shopping is the right one and helps support the small business people who have a horrible time trying to compete with the big Targets etc. Safe travels home and have fun along the way!!! Linda from Idaho

  37. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    We spent Black Friday decorating the house for Christmas as we do every year, then that evening we have a tree trimming party, just me, my husband and our two girls, but this year they invited their boyfriends as they are grown up. It is always a wonderful day. We love Kentucky too, didn’t you love the stone fences that went on for miles, sort of like England’s? Advent starts today, so let’s all prepare our minds and hearts for what Christmas is truly about.

  38. Michelene Thomas says:

    What a lovely way to spend Black Friday. I, too, had a lovely Black Friday spent in front of the TV watching Christmas movies ALL day ! With Hot tea and leftover pumpkin pie, what could be better. I spent Saturday shopping in all the local small businesses. I love that we have some very wonderful shops in my town. It’s so nice that a Most of these shops are my neighbors and that a lot of the merchandise is made by people who live in the area. And best of all, I got most of my shopping done! Have a safe trip home. Oh, and no musica ?

  39. Terri McKenzie (Richmond, Va) says:

    What a wonderful, meandering trip you have had! I spent black Friday watching Christmas movies in my pajamas, then went out on Shop Local Saturday, to support my community of merchants. So much more fun, and no one ran me down! Safe travels on the last leg of your trip. Almost home to the kitties!

  40. Betty says:

    T’would be difficult not to hurry home, but this lovely village in Pleasant Hill must have been a welcome stop along the way. I love the pretty countryside and that red-roofed home on the hill in the fourth pic. is just delightful.
    Safe travels.
    PS I keep forgetting to say how much I enjoy your book. Many reminders of the trip I had to the U.K. in May/June this year, visiting some of the lovely places you wrote about.
    Love the way you have lined the inside covers with the music score:)

  41. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Rabbit Rabbit! Mom sat here, in front of the computer yesterday for about an hour, reading your last few blogs & the comments! She loved it! She is always so amazed at technology of course, being 98! I was decorating, our wonderful daughter was helping with ladder climbing & lifting. This morning I’m looking for Don’s magic wand, still a few messes!! If you’re not home yet, safe travels & if you’re home – Hallelujah – hello kitties! xoxo

    • Julie Marie says:

      Hello Joan… oooh, I love that your mama is a girlfriend too at 98 years young!… what is your mama’s name?… hello to her!… xoxo Julie Marie

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Oh thank you Julie! Her name is Grace, & it fits her beautifully – she was named after her Mother’s sister. Now she has a great-granddaughter named Grace & another with Grace as her middle name. Mom smiles as she reads Susan’s books & blogs – so beautiful, both, that is! I’ll tell her hello from you! xoxo

        • Julie Marie says:

          Hello Grace!… what a beautiful name for a beautiful lady… Joan… I love that your family is carrying on a precious tradition with the name Grace being given to others… Happy Holidays to you all!… xoxo Julie Marie

  42. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I never go out in the Black Friday madness! Instead, I “shopped” at a few friends who have online Etsy stores and got some wonderful handcrafted items for giving. Who wants to be in lines and chaos when you can support your friends and get better value for your money?

    I am in love with the photos from Shaker Village. Especially that wagon all dressed up for the holidays with two lovely grey drafts to pull you along! Enjoy all of your stops and side adventures these last few days. I don’t blame you one bit for taking the time to peek into these amazing spots that every state has to offer.

    This morning, when I turned the calendar to December 1st, it was just so bright and full of holiday energy! I refuse to look ahead at the months so that each beginning will be a surprise to me from you!!@ Oh by gosh , by golly. It’s time for mistletoe and holly!

  43. Mary Anne Helms says:

    Rabbit Rabbit!!! Can’t wait until you are on the Vineyard again and reunited with those darling kitties!! It is supposed to be nice and warm this week!! Did you know that Queen has visited Lexington, KY? I think she has some horses being reared there. Such beautiful country.
    Another way of avoiding traffic around NY/northern NJ is to take route 80 from PA to 287 and instead of getting off for the Tappan Zee bridge, continue north as there is there is another turnoff to 80 further north. A lot of people do this when travelling to NE. Or you could go further north to the Mass Pike!! However you go, I hope you have a good safe trip. Another wonderful place to visit is Chadd’s Ford, PA. Counting the minutes until you are home!! They lit my town’s Christmas Tree on Friday evening in a lovely ceremony.

    • Mary Anne Helms says:

      OPPS I made a mistake I meant 84 of course. The train accident its much further south so should not affect you. So sad!!

  44. Sarah Powell says:

    Glad you are smelling the roses. You have me convinced, Kentucky is now on my Bucket list. So are you! Safe Travels. xoxo S

  45. nancy says:

    Hi, Can comment on everyone’s feelings of Black Friday? My husband and i had a wonderful lunch out and visited Wal Mart for desperately needed cat food! Everyone was cheerful and the store fully staffed- we came out amazed. Don’t dwell on the negative, there are plenty of wonderful people out excited about Christmas even in Wal Mart!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s not WalMart, and not the people who shop there, it’s the overall focus on materialism and consumerism as being the most important thing. Breeding a culture of greed, commercials having children speak with adult voices about what they want for Christmas, teaching other children how to want things too, and precisely what to want. It’s always been there, but it seems to get worse every year, and this year, Black Friday took up all space for a week before Thanksgiving. Not a good thing. We need just the sounds of snowfall and churchbells for Christmas and the rest will fill in for itself.

  46. Asha says:

    Rabbit! Rabbit! Merry! Merry! Susan and Joe! Thank you for sharing your travels with us. I feel like I was there with you. I too love Shaker Villages and would love to visit Kentucky some day. Will put it on my bucket list. I am a Black Friday shopper. My daughter and I have a tradition of our day together. I have suggested asking others but she insists it is “our” day. We actually have a wonderful time and try to shop locally. We are exhausted at the end of the day and I do get to spend the night at her home and visit with the grand boys and grand dog! 🙂 Safe travels! Let us know when you return home. oxoxox

  47. carmel says:

    Yes, Kentucky is a beautiful state. I’ve been to Pleasant Hill and remember the wonderful positive energy all the plant life in the surrounding the area gave. Loved hearing about the Shaker history. Those meandering white fences which seemed to go on forever with beautiful horses in Lexington took my breath away. The barns too. I spent black Friday with friends in the evening. We had pizza then went to the tree lighting in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. Santa and Mrs. Claus were dressed in their colonial Santa outfits (so charming!) talking with children on their laps. Then we walked over to the edge of the Potomac river nearby to watch the Christmas fireworks from across the river at National Harbour in MD. It was a lovely, magical “Black Friday.” I wish you and Joe continued safe travels
    as you wind your way home. I wish all the girlfriends a happy time shopping as the madness subsides. Take care, everyone.

  48. Maureen MacKenzie says:

    Kentucky looks beautiful. Right before I read this post I was making what is on that page with the Gladys Taber quote. Imagine my surprise when I saw it on this post. I added maple syrup to the recipe because we had Maple Butternut Bisque at the Main Street Cafe in Stockbridge in October and it was delicious!!! ♥

  49. Bets Kirby says:

    Hope you had a slice of Shaker lemon pie (made with lemon slices) – I still remember it all the years since visiting there 44 years ago! (I bought the cookbook.)
    Black Friday has such an ominous sound – like a black hole swallowing up a most treasured holiday. I spent it making another stocking – for the newest puppy in the family (grandkids, pups, kitties all have stockings of course)

    • sbranch says:

      They keep calling it the “tradition” of Black Friday but I don’t think it really made the big time until a couple of years ago. How can that be a tradition. Cookies, now that’s a tradition. This year all the talk about Black Friday felt more like brain washing … they never stopped. For the whole week before Thanksgiving, that’s all I heard. Until I turned off the radio and put on some music!

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        You’re right, Sue. We were discussing this very thing at Thanksgiving dinner. When I was little, even when I was in college and then teaching, there was always talk about the Friday sales but it wasn’t dubbed Black Friday even then. I don’t think the term has been around for more than 10 years – except possibly in the business community. Certainly not in the public zeitgeist. I don’t like it at all – I always think “Good Friday” when I hear it.

        • sbranch says:

          I’ve heard, “sales were down.” I’m pretty sure it was a backlash, but I’m sure they won’t admit it.

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

    Good morning Susuan and all those girlfriends out there ~~~

    Sounds as though you spent a relaxing day on Black Friday. Same here. Did not go out to any stores to fight all the crowds. On the news that night, though, they were reporting less people at the mall than other years. But, still, there would have been too many.

    Years ago, we visited the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill in Lexington. I really enjoyed all of it. Didn’t take the buckboard ride though. I’m wondering if they even had that back then. It would have had to have been at least 25 years ago. I’m sure that there has been many changes. One of these days, I want to visit Amish country.

    We got our Christmas tree up yesterday and the garland around the front door. We still need to buy some lights to put onto the house. Our sub division is beginning to look alot like Christmas with quite a few houses lit up. I love going around to see who has what each year. This year will be lots of fun. Baking cookies will be next on my list. Will freeze some.

    Well, off to church we go.

    Carol M

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve been taking pictures of cars on the freeway with trees tied to the top. It’s so festive out there!

  51. Christina R says:

    You are taking the long, slow, winding way home! What beautiful pictures Susan! I’m so grateful for you and Joe, and the love you send out into the world. I’m happy your black Friday was so peaceful and beautiful.

  52. Mary S. says:

    Now THAT’S the way to spend “Black Friday”!!! Everything looks soooo marvelous!! I NEVER go shopping on that day!
    Reading about what that little girl said – I homeschooled my three children and on the first day we started doing that, my 4th grade son (who is now 38) said, “This is the best day ever!”

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

    • sbranch says:

      That, from your children, has got to be the biggest “mom” compliment there could ever be! That little girl was filled to the brim with joy!

  53. Chy says:

    Black Friday is new to Canada this year but we stayed home, just like we do on our big shopping day here, Boxing Day. Crowds are not my cup of tea!!

    Love your blog. I’ve been collecting your books for years and have asked for “A Fine Romance” for Christmas from my family.

    Have a great week. We’re bracing for a huge storm but we’re ready with a warm house, food to last two weeks and lots of creative activities to keep us busy!!

  54. Julie Marie says:

    Hello Susan and Joe!… what a beautiful post!… I have never been to Kentucky either but it looks just as dreamy as the images I conjure up of it in my mind… so happy you enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving that way… (I refuse to call it “Black Friday”… that sounds so depressing to me for what I consider the beginning of the Christmas Season… and I never go shopping that day… well… maybe online at your shop!)… oooh!… and how excited I get when I turn over a page on your calendars on the first day of the months… I don’t peek ever because I love being surprised!… even Jack commented on the darling December one on my big calendar with the old Rambler on it with the wreath on the back… too cute!… and I love love love my mini calendar and your story of your first eclair with your precious grandma… and your new red shoes… it brought tears to my eyes… and also happy memories of going to a very special tea room in Salt Lake City with my mama and my sisters when we were little girls at Christmas time… your memories and mine mingle together so much of the time… thank you!… love you… xoxo… Julie Marie

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

    the perfect way to spend black Friday. I refuse to even participate in it. I don’t retail stores telling me when to buy, or what for whom. sorry but I just don’t hold with Black Friday or shopping on Thanksgiving. much prefer my comforts such as a warm fire, family and friends to visit, and my warm comfy bed that I refuse to get out of to go shopping at 1 or 2 am in the morning… sorry but no way. have a fun trip seeing the countryside and visiting all those wonderful places, we’ll wait patiently for you to get home, but you and Joe enjoy yourselves and have a safe trip home. hugs everyone…. 🙂

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      oops meant like like retail stores… how embarrassing, I think faster than I can type.

  56. Linda T. in Maine. says:

    Merry Christmas to you Susan and Joe. I have enjoyed your travels but I to am so glad you are almost home. I can here it in your voice ,that this has been not only exciting but it’s time for to be home so you can get back to the ocean walks and your cup of tea by the cozy fireside with Joe and kittys to snuggle.”There’s no place like home”. Just want to Thank Your Beautiful Self for all you do for all of us Girlfriends. I ordered my book “A Fine Romance “, “first edition” from Edgar Town Books. She is saving one for me to send to Maine after you sign something wonderful and lovely in my book. It’s a Christmas present from my Husband. Doesn’t matter when it gets here. I will just cherish it along with all the other ones. I have almost all of them now. So Happy. My heart sings. Please never stop writing. So when you get on the boat and your on your last leg to home suck in that salty sea air and you will know your almost there. Wishing you Love and Happiness at Christmas time and the whole year through. From one ocean girl to another… From Maine… Linda T.

  57. Laurie Walt says:

    Sue, please go to my comment on the last blog, thanksgiving. I thought I left it on this one!❇

    • sbranch says:

      Oh! I found it Laurie! Thank you for telling me about Amazon sending the recommendation, that’s very nice news, I didn’t know they did that! xo

  58. Kate says:

    My husband and I have taken those back roads of Kentucky many times. It’s the back roads that are best. You find the cutest restaurants and the nicest people on back roads. It’s the slow paced travel for us. Have fun.

  59. Deborah B. says:

    Hi Susan, Loved your Thanksgiving post and now this one! These pictures are so beautiful! I hope you and your husband have a wonderful rest of the trip home and still see more of this wonderfully beautiful USA! We are so blessed! And a “Thank You” to the Native Americans who helped bring about our lovely Thanksgiving! Your trip home looks to be one of an on-going thanksgiving! :o) May we all continue thanksgiving right into Christmas and the New Year! :o)

    Peaceful Traveling,
    Deborah :o)

  60. judi says:

    Rabbit, rabbit!!! Are we THERE yet? Can you tell I’m the youngest child in my family:)))) UFF DA, I’m getting exhausted with anticipation:))) xoxo me j

  61. Julie says:

    So glad you spent the day at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill! After dreaming about going there for 30 years, my sister and I finally made it to Lexington in April 2012. We spent one day touring the horse farms (tiny tour: 3 of us!), another in Berea (the heartland of Appalachian crafts), and yet another at Pleasant Hill. It lived up to all of my expectations and more ~~ and we, too, found many beautiful handmade items in their gift shop. For most of the day, there were only about 20 of us visiting the village, spread out over the entire property: so quiet and peaceful and beautiful!
    Our Black Friday wasn’t in Kentucky, but here in our home in St. Louis, tucking away all the autumn decorations and beginning to place favorite Christmas ones around our house. No shopping for us ~~ just a quiet day with family and friends ~~ and ending with this year’s viewing of Miracle of 34th Street : )
    Safe home, Susan, and thank you for this wonderful blog!

  62. Barb from Ohio says:

    I spent black Friday hanging Christmas lights on my porch and decorating a little inside the house. Had to run to Wal-mart for some outdoor ribbon for my wreaths but I hurried and was in and out quickly. Store was packed with shoppers of course. I’ve done most of my shopping on line this year. It looks like you’re having an enjoyable trek home and taking your time, sightseeing along the way. Good for you! Safe travels and hope you get home soon.

  63. Gloria H. says:

    I find that as I read this, we are all birds of a feather ! We all dislike Black Friday, the shoving crowds, the insanity ! We all think back to our Thanksgivings
    from years ago and wish we could relive those times. We love old things, tradition, taking in all the beauty of nature and looking forward to all your stories, pictures and the simple things in life ! I guess that’s what makes us all girlfriends ! Stay safe !

    • sbranch says:

      I think the only thing we need to do during the times we want it to be like it was in the “old days” 🙂 is turn off the TV! Then it just is, as it has always been! Cooking smells, hugs, old music, setting the table, saying grace … nothing has really changed, except the message from whoever seems to be in charge of the message these days. Yes, birds of a feather is what we are!

      • Mary S. says:

        That’s for sure!! I found that out standing in line at Remnants of the Past!! What fun!!
        Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  64. Jamie Mattingly says:

    The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home…. Oh Susan and Joe, so glad ya’ll were able to spend some time in the bluegrass. I am sure the sights were beautiful everywhere your tires have turned but it was sure nice to see a shout out from Kentucky. Ya’ll come back anytime.

  65. Shelly says:

    You’re first photo made me giddy! I live in Kentucky and as soon as I saw “McDuffy” (Joe’s new friend with the horns) I knew exactly where you were. McDuffy may look like a beast but he’s a charmer when he wants to be. I have a photo of him resting his head on the fence grinning. He was showing me his teeth! Haha

  66. Maria in Long Beach, CA says:

    Thanks, Susan and Joe, for taking me to places I might never see. And The Bishop’s Wife is my favorite(and I think)the best Christmas movie ever…especially when you factor in the message.
    What a wonderful time you’re having! You both deserve it 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      There is so much good in the world, but for some reason, it travels slowly on little cat feet, the message is quiet. While the bad travels at the speed of light, through media and now on drones that can drop packages at your front door. It’s up to us to help give the good some wings of its own.

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        I just saw the NBC news report about the Package Drones. Good grief, Charlie Brown. JUST what we need. More junk flying around in the air! Giant jumbo jets barely miss each other NOW even more than we know. Do we REALLY need flying robots zipping around in the air too? 1000s of them probably – rushing someone’s Whatever to them because they don’t have the patience to wait for 3-4 days? OMG. I’ll use the line my 98-year old Grandma said when she first saw a cell phone: “I have lived too long…”

        • sbranch says:

          There was talk radio while we were in the car. An actual drone-designer called in, and he convinced us we have nothing to worry about. It can’t be done. For a bunch of reasons, most of which I forget, but like for one, the blades on the drones are sharp and would cut anything it touched to shreds. Dogs in the yard? Amazon really wouldn’t like that. Plus anyone could shoot it down and steal the stuff. Things like that. Amazon just likes to get everyone talking about them. My heart fell when I saw it too, but I feel much better now.

          • Janet in Rochester says:

            Good to hear – that was pretty much what I was thinking anyway. That head guy at Amazon – I get the impression he likes to think of himself as a visionary. A Steve Jobs wannabe. Now there’s nothing wrong with thinking Big – and maybe even sometimes thinking A Little Out There. But this one is just beyond the pale. Besides there’s already a system in place – a completely-proven and efficient system – for delivering package to consumers. And one which keeps a lot more people employed than the drones ever would. :>)

  67. judi says:

    Hip, hip hurrah!! Just saw your post of twitterville (I’m not a tweeter – but can read yours) 5:00 a.m. I’m up and ready to go:) Suppose you’d better have your tea first….and then wait to miss the Mon. rush hour …. ferry schedule to abide by too….BUT, 🙂 it will happen today. You left Aug. 31st – amazing, we have been on a 3 MONTH journey!!!

    • sbranch says:

      We are in the “waiting to miss the Mon. rush hour” period right now! I know. Three months. What were we thinking!? 🙂

  68. Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

    We spent Black Friday at a Sound of Music sing along at the adorable Music Box theater in Chicago IL! Great family fun!

  69. Sue Rideout says:

    It’s going to be a tough season for my family this year. Spent “Black Friday” not decorating our home but in a meeting discussing Hospice arrangements for my dad with his nurse. Cards, cookies and gifts are taking a back seat as my family focuses on the real meaning of Christmas and helping my dad down the final road of his life journey. Taking it one day at a time.

    • sbranch says:

      Fill it with as much joy has humanly possible Sue, with as much sparkly love as you can muster, run cookie smells under his nose and remind him of loving Christmases past. Let him see what he has made in this life, YOU and yours, decorate the tree with more lights than ever, and maybe he can be somewhere to watch, and music can be playing and kisses can be constant. xoxoxoxo You will know.

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Very beautiful Susan! And, Sue, we thought Hospice nurses were angels on earth. Prayers for your Dad & your family. xoxo

        • sbranch says:

          Hospice angels. Whoever thought of that, what a blessing to us all.

          • judi says:

            Living in a 55 and older, ahem, park we deal with end of life and replacement of limbs daily. Hospice is a wonderful, amazing and so needed journey for end-of-life. We are ALL on that journey. Embracing each day and realizing “the end” is not a horrible thing…but part of “life”. As Sue says, fill each remaining day with as much joy as possible….and sometimes you need to give the loved one “permission” to go to the next place. I had the privilege of helping one of my best friends move on a few years back at a beautiful hospice. I will never forget it.

          • sbranch says:

            “Privilege” ~ that’s just beautiful, Judi. xoxo

          • Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

            My mom’s hospice angel sat with us on my mom’s final night as we retold stories about everything from dogs we had loved and family vacations…at one point we were laughing so hard we actually forgot about why we were gathered there …our nurse encouraged us to keep sharing our memories and laughing …we hoped mom could hear us from somewhere

          • sbranch says:

            That’s the way, celebration while celebration can still he had. xoxo

      • Sue Rideout says:

        Thanks Susan, I will try.

        • sbranch says:

          For him and for your own memory bank, the best Christmas ever. Singing and crying at the same time is totally the right thing. Blessings for you and your family Sue. xoxo

          • Mary Brehm says:

            This post is lovely and sad and making me cry. I am reminded of a favorite quote from one of my favorite movies, “Steel Magnolias”. Dolly Parton’s Character says, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion”. I hope you all are at peace.

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          It will be ok Sue. My four sisters and I are in the same position. My mom is still at home, but the hospice nurses are coming in. She has surprised everyone by hanging in there.

  70. judy from connecticut says:

    Good Morning Susan,
    60th birthday this morning- yikes- where does the time go??? What better way to start the day than to read your blog. I saw that you are heading home and now I wonder if you will be coming right through Connecticut. On Saturday I was in a little antique store in Ivoryton called “Gather.” It is right next to Essex. I bought a little Emma bunny cup. I told the owner that I not only love bunnies but that I love Susan Branch and that was why I knew about these cups. The owner said “I love her too, ever since the Christmas book.” I told her she should have a book signing there and she said she would LOVE that !!!! In case you are near here today or tomorrow she also has a duckling cup and two egg cups- bunny and duckling. Just thought you might need to know that ! Have a great day as you head home to Girl and Jack !!!! I bet you cannot wait to see them – although that little wool Jack someone made for you is just ADORABLE !!! xo Judy

    • sbranch says:

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUDY!! We are so torn about antique stores this morning. Stop, or not to stop, this is the question!!! So close, and yet, still no fingers in kitty fur! Hope you have a wonderful day, we are so very happy to be in your state!

    • jill m. says:

      Happy Birthday, judy from Connecticut, from a fellow Sagittarius!!! I will be 54 tomorrow…it’s also my son’s 21st birthday. Hope you have a wonderful day! We advent babies have to stick together 😉

    • Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

      Happy Birthday Judy! Just celebrated my 60th on November19th…I used to think 60 was old ha! Well not anymore…I have never felt better! Enjoy your day and this beautiful life!

  71. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    Your publication today reminds me of the movie “Giant” with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. Wasn’t her character originally from Kentucky or was it Maryland? (someone will correct me) She lived in that gracious part of the country where they rode horses and it was so beautiful with the rolling hills…till her swept her off her feet and took her to Texas 🙂 I remember the sharp contrasts in the landscape.

    • Judy says:

      Hi, In the movie, Giant, Elizabeth Taylor was from Maryland. It is beautiful here in the country one hour west of D.C. and 1/2 hour from Camp David. Merry Christmas to all the Susan bloggers and welcome home Susan.

  72. Lee says:

    Safe travels and thank you for sharing your journey! Such a lovely breath of freshness! Thank you!

  73. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    ♥♥ Welcome Home, Susan and Joe! ♥♥

  74. Audrianne Hill says:

    Did you get the chance to eat at Pleasant Hill? The food is fabulous – notably their tomato soup and minted carrots. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

  75. Janet in Rochester says:

    Every year at this time I’m reminded of what an absolutely WONDERFUL movie “The Bishop’s Wife” is. Proof? It only took this 2:43 minute clip to make me cry…

    • sbranch says:

      Me too. Then I told Joe about it and he got tears in his eyes too. It just says it the way it should be and can be if we make it ourselves.

  76. Kathy Fletcher says:

    Oh Susan- you were less than 2 miles from my house- i would of tracked you down- just to get your signature on my book- Kentucky is a beautiful state- but right now i am just soooooooo heart broken that you were so so close and i didn’t know it- and didn’t get to see you……and Joe!!!!!!!! That huge big brick house you show a picture of – is owned by a local banker……Shaker town- you did get to eat a meal there- the food is fantastic- I just can’t believe you were soooooooo close and i missed you..I live in that little tiny town of Wilmore, KY….sniff-sniff……i would of flagged you down had i of seen your van…hahah-
    you would of thought 0H-MY who is that ?????? hahah-waving frantically at me from that silver PT Cruiser? hahah…..
    But- all in all- i am so very glad you got to come thru Kentucky- i wish you had of gotten to go to the best bookstore in the world- in Lexington- Joseph-Beth Booksellers……it is the bomb.
    So- safe travels as you and Joe continue on your way….if you are ever in Kentucky again- let me know- i will be glad to show you all some real back road places….haha-antique shops and restaurants- we have some doozies here…..
    Love and hugs-

    • sbranch says:

      I will Kathy…We would love to spend more time in your gorgeous part of the country. And was that YOU in the silver PT Cruiser? I thought so! 🙂

  77. sondra fox says:

    Hi Susan, Isn’t it wonderful to be spontaneous? It’s like opening up a surprise present. Glad you have the opportunity to cruise the back roads at your leisure. Cruise on safely.
    We just got home from our Thanksgiving at Lake Tahoe. Weather was superb up there, food was great, family all together, except for my husband Larry, whom we all remembered with many remembrances. After giving thanks to our Lord, the other grandpa said there was an empty chair at our table (my deceased husband), & there always will be. Our daughter fixed the entire dinner. What a great cook she is. I’m so happy that she loves to cook, just like I do. I’m also so happy to be home today. Feels so good, even though I have so many things I need to do today, that I don’t know where to begin. Love ‘ya, (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  78. Sandy from Kentucky says:

    Love all the comments about “Black Friday” being a negative in our society.
    I too reject the whole idea of it and sincerely wish the stores, restaurants, etc. that are truly not a “necessity” would close on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Easter to allow their employees to be with their loved ones. Maybe we should all start a movement toward that. I too do not shop and never have on “Black Friday” or Christmas Eve. I am pretty sure everyone is aware that Christmas comes on the 25th of December every year. Why not get your Christmas list seen to before the 24th? Oh well, I’ve been up on my soap box long enough:)
    Glad you and Joe traveled through our state. I think it’s beautiful but I guess I’m a little partial to it by living here all my life. My sis, Nadine, commented earlier and she’s the one who turned me on to Ms. Susan. Love your blog!!!

  79. Sharon Bates says:

    Just passing through Maryland?! How about one more night in another beautiful, peaceful area. We are just over the Pennsylvania border, 20 miles north of Hagerstown, Maryland…10+miles from 81. We would love to pamper you tonight or tomorrow night in our little corner of the world at our Humble B&B, The Caledonia Guest House! You can call us from the road and we’ll take care of you, or would be happy to recommend other lovely B&Bs in PA!


    • sbranch says:

      So sorry Sharon, about that time I could almost see Jack’s big green eyes and hear him calling my name, we had to go!

  80. Trish K ~ Missouri says:

    Louisville, Kentucky in the springtime should be on everyone’s bucket list. I’m just sayin…

  81. judi says:

    Oh, I think I’m teary….would love to snuggle my nose into those 2 adorable babies. Feel like singing the Alleluia chorus. WELCOME HOME!!!

  82. Nora Cavic says:

    You are ALWAYS just what I need to read……… JUST the right moment. Now that the long Thanksgiving weekend is behind us, I was starting to get frazzled at the thought of “what-I-need-to-do-now”. Every time I turn the TV on, I, too, see the craziness. And what I have been reminded of (thanks to you….) is to just enjoy the real reason for the season. I’m decorating my house, I’m baking. I’m having friends over to make cookies. I’m enjoying small moments with friends over tea (or wine……..). I’m getting caught up on my back episodes of Downton. And I will eventually scour the local small shops for interesting items for gifts for my family, friends, and co-workers. But what they love most of all is my Molasses/Oatmeal bread that I bake and give away at the holidays. So, that will be my focus. Travel safe, my friends. I cannot wait to see you sitting in front of your fire with your feet up and your kitties smiling.

    • sbranch says:

      Feet are up, big cup of lavender tea with honey and half and half is on table next to me, Jack is cuddled on the ottoman next to my legs, the 1937 version of Prince and the Pauper is on TV, house is partially decorated, but I feel festive enough inside and so what more is there? I’m home. Happy.

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

    its Monday and hopefully the insanity that is black Friday has died down for now. been busy getting the decorations out of closets and taking down the Fall decorations, bit by bit and getting the Christmas ones up. also getting mountains of laundry done, and sweeping done and watching the rain come down. it saddens me to see all that rude and crude behavior on black Friday, but then that’s what people want, deals, deals, deals and who cares if it is a deal or not in reality. these foolish people are not going to spoil my holiday, I plan to enjoy them by getting ready and getting my cards out on time. baking cookies for the mailman and the neighbors, and by appreciating what I have now for it can never replaced. Happy Holidays girlfriends. good times and good cheer!!! hugs….. 🙂

  84. Carol C says:

    The first time we went to Pleasant Hill I ordered lemon pie and oatmeal pie with coffee for lunch. Everyone else laughed at me but I knew I wouldn’t have room for dessert if I ate a whole lunch. No one else could, either, as it turned out so I had the last laugh.
    I think if stores started an anti-black Friday they would get tons more business. Stay closed until Saturday after Thanksgiving, then play Christmas music for the FIRST time and offer nice merchandise at a fair price with no big doorbuster deals. Employees would be much more customer friendly because they got their deserved holiday and calmer shoppers. I might go shopping then. Now, I just don’t. And I’m with you—the “news” broadcasts are just as culpable as the stores.

    • sbranch says:

      And owned by the people selling us the stuff. Love your idea Carol! I just love to hear Christmas music when I’m shopping in a store, cheers me right up!

  85. Pamela C Betz says:

    Dear Susan–so happy you like our neck of the woods! Safe driving and happy you are almost home. Can’t wait to hear and see Jack’s reaction. Pam

  86. Susan,

    My parents were both born and reared in Kentucky. It is a beautiful state. I am glad you enjoyed your time there.

  87. Jackie P says:

    Know you are home now. Deep sigh! Was it all a dream? Can’t wait to hear about your reunion with Jack and Girl Kitty. I like thinking of you and Joe back on the island! Welcome home. ❤❤❤

    • sbranch says:

      It was all a dream. Really, a big beautiful dream. Our friends came over, we sat around the kitchen table laughing until tears came in our eyes, it was heaven. The kitties are JUST perfect. Fuzz balls of joy. I’m happy to be home, but here’s what needs to be done. The fridge needs to be cleaned out, there are about 10 lightbulbs out, the copier needs service, the van, needless to say, must be washed, must lay out bread to dry for stuffing, four pounds must miraculously fall off me, suitcases must be emptied. But one thing at a time, Hi Jackie!!!

      • Pat Stansel says:

        Sounds like your having a belated Thanksgiving dinner, or did you just miss the stuffing ?

      • Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

        Welcome home! As I always say, it is good to go but even better to come home! 🙂 Make a list, take one thing at a time, and it will all get done…you are thinking of losing 4 lbs while laying bread out to make stuffing??? Could you think of it as doing what the bears do before the winter? LOL! We are getting winter finally here yesterday and today. I’m trying to get in the mood for Christmas but with losing our friend in October and having a very sick dog now, at the moment it is hard to get in the mood. Think I need to start up my Vitamin D again…Are you going to put inspiration for Christmas decorating (when you start doing that) on your blog?

  88. Donna says:

    I just recently started following your blog. It’s lovely and reflects you as an individual. I love the way you engage with your readers. One thing I notice is how different the “look” is from most blogs. Some of the text looks like you watercolored the script and doodles right on the page! Text is even curvy! How is this done? I am amazed!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m a watercolor artist so I use my art to decorate my blog…my books are handwritten and watercolored, so the curvy text is my handwriting and the doodles are my doodles! Happy to meet you Donna!

      • Donna Erickson says:

        Wow, Susan. I had no idea that your blogs can be done the same way! It is amazing with the actual photos mixed in – not to mention the difficulty it must be when you’re traveling!!! You are amazing! So nice to meet you as well…

  89. Deb from Dixie says:

    Home Sweet Home….snuggly kitties, fire in the fireplace…All the blessings of home!
    And tonight sleeping in your own bed…warm and cozy!
    Christmas time….Joy!

  90. Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

    Welcome home, dear ones!! So glad that you are back safe and sound. ♡ Heartfelt thanks for sharing the past three months touring cross country with all of us. We all have such happy memories!! Just soak up all of the comfort & joy of being home!
    Warm hugs,

  91. Oh My Gosh!!! You were in Maryland! So close! What part of Maryland did you travel through? Still hoping to see you in the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia area on your book tour after the holidays! Glad you are headed home for the Christmas season, and I would guess some much needed rest, after all your travels. Have a beautiful Christmas!

  92. mary spring says:

    .. so glad you both arrived back home !!.. traveling is wonderful but isn’t it true that “there is no place like home”?!?.. enjoy !!

  93. Becky Maggio says:

    Welcome Home!! I feel giddy for you and Joe, just thinking how exciting it must be to finally be back home 🙂 As much as we all loved our travels across the US, we are most happy to know “we” are back HOME! Because we all know…Home is Where the Heart Is! Looking forward to more postings from MV but take your time sweet friend as you ease back into your routine. I can smell/feel Christmas coming through from you already. Love you guys!!

  94. Bethany says:

    Susan, I wanted to tell you that when we flipped your calendar to December and it said “Be An Elf”, we practically squealed with delight because it’s always been our thing around here to pretend that my daughter is an elf (her birthday is Dec. 17th) and every night during December we say that she goes to the North Pole to help Santa make toys. When I tuck her in to bed, I always say “Don’t stay out too late tonight!” and she loves it. Now she is 16 and we still laugh and kid about it! So your calendar page was very appropriate and ushered in our love of Christmas preparations and December!

    • sbranch says:

      How cute Bethany, you have raised an elf! That’s so wonderful! We could use a few more of those in the world!

  95. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Welcome home Susan!!!! (Prayers answered!) Hug your home tight and your two precious kitties, too! Don’t worry about those extra pounds, as they will just fall off with all that needs to be done around the house! All of us Girlfriends can now relax knowing you and Joe are “snug as bugs” in your warm wonderful home on Martha’s Vineyard!!! You did it, mission accomplished!!!!!!!

  96. Sharrieboberry says:

    What a lovely way to spend “Black Friday”. I’d prefer a bright blue Friday over the other!

    I loved hearing about the little girl exclaiming about the “best day ever”. I’m sure that’s a phrase you can hear over and over in your mind and smile each time. I wasn’t there and I’m smiling!

    Merry Christmas!

  97. Willa says:

    What a wonderful post, Susan! The pictures are just beautiful. Brownie (my beloved husband) and I visited the village at Pleasant Hill several years ago. We spent the night in one of the, what used to be, dorms for the women. You described it perfectly. Kentucky is like a Sunday afternoon drive. We all can picture that!!

    Looking forward to your home going. Can’t wait to see the pics of Girl Kitty and Jack as they welcome the happy travelers back home. We were away for a week for Thanksgiving and upon our return our three little kittens were all over us. I didn’t expect that but in their own kitty way they let us know they were glad to see us! But they just guess our mode of transportation………Amtrak!! We road the train from Washington Dc to Greenville SC!! We left at 7:00PM and arrived at 4:54AM. For the first time ever we had a sleeper room (roomette) and L*O*V*E*D it. So many giggles trying to figure out how to get the bunk lowered and the bottom seats connected. Our wonderful helper bee told us to call him when we were ready but it was more fun to do it ourselves! I slept on the top bunk and could NOT go to sleep. Even though it was night time the view of twinkling lights and little towns decorated for Christmas was just too beautiful and I didn’t want to miss even one. Thanks to you and the sweet, sweet, informative email you sent me a few years ago, I felt like a pro and took everything we needed (including tea pot) even though it wasn’t cross-country trip. Brownie loved it so much that we are now planning a trip from D.C. to Spokane for next fall. For that we will get a bedroom and we can’t wait. Thanks for being an inspiration in so many ways!! Hope you’re surrounded by kitty love about now! Hugs, Willa

    • sbranch says:

      How I loved hearing your description of your train ride. Joe and I were just saying how we are due for one. There’s nothing like it, and never more true than at Christmas! Lucky you!

  98. Beverly Brewer says:

    Thank you, Susan and Joe, for devoting three months to make us all so happy! Was a pleasure to meet you in Carefree, AZ at the English Rose Tea Room and you both are so gracious and kind and sweet—just like everyone else says along the scenic route you have taken! Glad you are home safe and sound and will look forward to hearing about the kitty “reunion”!

  99. Michele says:

    So beautiful! Miss “home”, KY, that is. We’re up here in WI, but all my family is back there in KY! So glad you and Joe got to ‘experience’ it :0)

  100. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Welcome Home! ~

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