Happy to Be Home

Hello my darling girls … I can NOT begin to tell you how happy I am to be home. I’m going to put on some ★ MUSICAfor us . . .
This is the view from out the windows over my kitchen sink.  It’s good to go away for three months, then when you get home you are extra grateful with cup runnething over all over the place.  Alive!  Alive!  We made it home alive!  We were living as birds on a wire out there.  The big wheelers and oil trucks did not kill us after all!  We did not slip off the road into a ditch.  The house is still here!  My cozy quilts, candles, the stove!  The cooking!  The cats!  The TV clicker we know how to work!  Nothing changed!  A long delicious winter is coming.  Downton Abbey is coming!  Very happy . . . but we were tired.  It was a long trip ~ we didn’t realize how long until we stopped.  We’ve been going to bed early, smooshing in our cold bedroom with rattling windows under big feathery quilts.  Last night for dinner we had chicken soup, a wedge of ice-cold iceberg lettuce with chopped tomatoes and creamy-lumpy blue cheese on it, and a big sweet potato.  In front of the fire, all quiet and crackling, log falling, embers breaking.  It’s freezing here.  We ate the skin on the potato too, because it was organic ~ I buttered and salted it and I cooked it hot at 425° so the skin would caramelize a little bit and be extra flavorful and we didn’t have to put any extra butter on it because it already tasted so sweet and good.  It wasn’t fast food.  It wasn’t something from our ice chest.  It was real!  The heat from our stove warmed the kitchen.  We are coming to ourselves again, and this Friday is the big yearly Christmas dance our friends have given at the yacht club every year since 1979.  So in addition to sleeping, napping, unpacking, eating right, playing with Jack and Girl and getting organized, I’ve been trying to figure out what to wear.  So far it’s a ballet-length black taffeta full skirt, with short boots, a v-neck beaded velvet top and a separate  brown fur peter pan-type collar.  The goal is to look as good as possible, but even more than that, to be warm.  The secret is in the jewelry which is lots of shiny jet beads and gold earbobs in the manner of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.  This party gets so crowded no one sees you from the neck down anyway. I keep threatening to wear my jammie bottoms and shearling slippers with my velvet top and jewelry.  No one would notice. But that’s the outfit, unless I change my mind.  The earbobs are a for-sure.  Right now I’m typing with one dark reddish brown fingernail . . . trying out the color for the outfit.  Ladeedah, ladeedah.  The life of a person with a house, a bathroom and closets.  Today, we are going to the movies.  Buttered popcorn at 3:45 ~ a matinee, my favorite!  We’re going to see About Time.  I hear we’re going to love it, don’t tell me if you’ve seen it ~ not until tomorrow.
I had a really nice thing happen the other day.  I was asked to do an interview by Jennifer Carroll who has an online magazine called Celebrating Everyday Life
(what’s not to love about that title).  She asked the best questions, about A FINE ROMANCE, but she covered lots of other topics too, like “who would you have for dinner if you could have anyone?” I liked that question!  Had to think!  I answered them as best I could, and then I thought, this would make a nice post for the blog. I think she’s planning to run the interview in January or February, I’ll be sure to let you know… in the meantime here’s the preview for you, my Girlfriends . . . some of you will recognize these answers, but so many people are writing to say they just found my books or my blog … we have new Girlfriends, and this is especially for them . . .  here goes: 
Jennifer: When did your love of England begin?
me:  Little by little, mostly through reading, art and seeing old movies, clues of interest kept coming up.  
England is an “empire of imagination.”  I think we crossed this bridge in our car!
But those clues were like the lambs scattered on the sides of English hills, one here, one there, they did not come in a clump.  My mind was slowly cataloguing them.  Over time I became more and more curious about the culture, then about the history and learning about my English ancestors as I discovered them.
It was a very slow unfolding, but after seeing my first English garden and realizing there were hundreds of them all attached to ancient castles, cottages and manor houses; realizing I could visit and even stay at some of the homes of my literary and artistic heroes . . .
. . . seeing the countryside where all the history I’d read about came alive because it’s all still there, nothing has changed; learning more about the interesting lives of people I’ve known from their art and writings, and then the surprise and serendipity of learning about people and lives I’d never heard of before (but should have), I became more and more enthralled more and more inspired.  Each time we have gone over, we found ourselves deeper in love and always learning something new.
Jennifer: A Fine Romance – what was the creative process of writing and illustrating the book like?
me:  I wrote the whole book while we were traveling for the two months in England, as a diary, one day at a time as it unfolded, mostly while we sat in gardens and pubs.  
Sometimes I would paint at night.  When we came home to Martha’s Vineyard, I rewrote it in my good writing, and put in the photos of the Queen Mary 2, of Beatrix Potter’s House, of the gardens and pubs; I drew the maps, tested the recipes, and added more watercolors.  As always with all my books, I just work one page at a time and try to make each page as interesting, fun to read, and as informative and pretty as I can.
It’s a joy, I’ve been so lucky because I love to make things, and I love to share my passions with other like-minded people.  Beauty is the very best of life.  I love to try and make some to add to all there is.
Jennifer: A Fine Romance has been a runaway hit. Can you tell us your favorite part of being a bestselling author and what has been your biggest challenge in the journey?
me: When Joe and I decided to go to England and keep a diary of the trip, we decided to take all my “blog girlfriends” with us.  I told them in a blog posting to get their passports ready and lose some weight, because we were going to
Every one of these chaise lounges had a Girlfriend on it, but they were so careful — I got out the camera and turned around, boom, they were gone.  We did not get caught.
smuggle them aboard the Queen Mary 2 and take them along with us to England and they needed to be as tiny as possible.  We would hide them in a lifeboat.  It was the joke that ran through all the postings of the trip ~ that they were being so “good and quiet” and no one knew they were all smooshed into our stateroom with us.  They complained sometimes about being “packed so tightly” in our suitcases as we moved from place to place and about having mash lines on their faces, but they handled all the folding and unfolding very well, and were very quiet when room service came. They liked to dance, and one of them fell into a river on a walk to Ellen Terry’s house, but we all returned safe and sound with memories galore.  Whenever I took pictures for the blog (and the future book) I always thought, “What can I show them?  What would they like to see?”
What will make them laugh, or cry or go ahhh, or go OH! ~ and that awareness of them made it even more fun for me.  Previously, I’d written all my books totally alone in my studio with kitties to keep me company.  This time I had a whole group of Girlfriends cheering me on.  That was my favorite part.  When the book was finished, it was “our book.”
 I can’t think of any real challenges except
. . .  of course, as I am reminding Joe in this photo, the phone never worked while we were there.
Jennifer: What is your favorite region of England? Why?
me: This question is kind of impossible because it’s shockingly beautiful almost every place you go.  But, I will say the Yorkshire Dales put a thrill from the tips of my toes to the top of my head . . . positively spiritual with a strong feeling of coming home, tears-in-eyes beauty, the history and sweep of it all.  As the wind blows fragrance of wildflower, rain and grass across the vastness of the Dales and the lambs are baaaaing high on a hill, you want to open your arms to the view and draw it all into your heart to keep it there forever.
Jennifer: You’ve also published several cookbooks. What first drew you to cooking?
me: I helped my mom by making desserts when I was very young, brownies and potato chip cookies for sack lunches for my brothers and sisters.  But, really, it was setting the table that truly got me going.
  I just loved to set the table, mixing and matching old china dishes, etched colored glasses, putting flowers from my garden in little vases, lace-edged napkins, or the ones I would embroider myself, mixing and matching bowls and silverware, lighting candles and making it pretty.  It was like playing house.  But then, it was difficult to get people to come look at my pretty table without food on it.  They simply did not care.  So I learned to cook.  And loved the art of it, combining recipes, flavors and trying new things.  
And when I walked into the room carrying a homemade banana cream pie with the flakiest crispiest crust, rolled out on my kitchen table with my wooden rolling pin, just like my Grandma made
with sugared whipped cream and bananas and toasted coconut, my friends would go, “OH MY, look at that, you are wonderful Susan, yum yum yum ~ and the table by the way, it looks so beautiful!”  They made me feel so good, I couldn’t wait to do it again. It was the first time I really felt like I had something I could give.  It was one of the ways I began to notice it was the little things that made life sweetest.
Later writing books, hoping I could help others experience that wonderful feeling when they brought a homemade banana cream pie into the room, became my passion.
Jennifer: What do you consider your “go-to” dish?
me: With all the cookbooks I’ve written, there are so many recipes that are go-to for me.  My Mom’s Spare-ribs and Juice with Onion Pudding (I’m the oldest of eight children so my books have lots of home type dishes) . . .
. . . always has them rolling in the aisles from happiness.  I also have the best Apple Crisp recipe alive in the modern world as we know it today.  I’ve tested them wherever I go (a rotten job but someone must do it), and this is a true thing if I do say so myself.  Also, crisp-skinnedroasted chicken with my Grandma’s Bread Stuffing.  I really could go on all day.  A big one-dish casserole of Pork Chops, Apples, and Sweet Potatoes.  Cold White Rice Salad scattered with fresh flowers and herbs.  My roasted Cranberry Sauce mixed with Orange Marmalade for toast and tea.  In my new book, A FINE ROMANCE, there’s a recipe from my English girlfriend Siobhan.  It’s her Orange Lavender Polenta Cake, moist with the little crunchy bits, it’s gluten-free and it serves about 24 people so it’s perfect for a tea party.  You would like the recipe?  Oh yes!
Jennifer: Tell me a little about your ideal day at home?
me: I go into my studio very early before it gets light. I close my eyes and meditate and count my blessings which is a good way to start because it usually brings on a bout of ecstaticness. I have my tea and maybe it’s snowing outside and all I can hear is the furnace humming and the patter of snowflakes on the window.  I swirl my watercolor brush in water then load it with paint, put it on paper, and watch the color spread.  I write in my diary, make a list or work on a new book.  Later, I take Joe his tea, the snow melts and we put on our big jackets, mittens and hats and walk out to the water through the woods (we live on an island so there’s lots of woods and lots of water) . . .
We come home and eat a healthy breakfast. I shoot ponytail bands across the room for my kitty Jack and he retrieves them; we do this about a hundred times.  I take my book to lunch, sit at a corner table next to a fire, eat and read.  Then a nap.  Then a bubble bath.  Then Joe and I make dinner together and friends come over and we laugh and drink wine.  
I normally don’t get all those things in one day, a nap and a bubble bath and lunch with my book?  Not all on the same day.  But those are the things I love best and you said ideal.  I have red letter days, red letter weeks, etc. Where I get to do the things I love in moderation.
Jennifer: What’s your favorite way to make ‘an everyday’ feel special?
me:  Everyday ~ perfect for your magazine!  I would say the Bubble Bath.  With the book.  Then the diary, and of course the kitties and Joe make every day special.
Jennifer: Describe your favorite celebration…
me: I love Valentine’s Day.  I do think it was invented for women, so I like to make sure all my Girlfriends feel loved on that day.  I also love to give Tea Parties.  There are so many creative things you can do with decorating the table! I’m a Christmas person too… I don’t think there is a holiday I don’t like!  I like non-holidays too, which all seem to revolve around winter and breakfast.  Sunday breakfast in bed.  Winter breakfast parties with friends.
Jennifer: Can you share your philosophy when it comes to entertaining?
me: I go by the six senses.  Does it smell good, look good, sound good, feel good and taste delicious?  (The sixth sense is Imagination.)  If all those bases are covered, you can’t ask for any more.  Hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows in front of a crackling fire, dinner under the arbor draped with twinkle lights in the garden, cinnamon spice wafting from the oven, old music playing, if the church bells ring across the street, then it’s perfect. Most important to remember: It’s not what’s on the plate that counts, it’s what’s on the chairs.  Your friends and family.  A party is a gift you give the ones you love.
Jennifer: If you could have anyone in the world over for dinner, who would it be?
me: What a wonderful question.  I would like Albert Einstein to talk about the spiritual side of his life ~ put his elbows on the table, start talking and not stop until he told it all. I know a little but not enough.  I’d love a dinner with Elizabeth von Arnim to hear how she was inspired to write her first book (Elizabeth and Her German Garden).  I would like Beatrix Potter to talk to me about her childhood.  I would love to get caught in a big nor’easter storm with Gladys Taber where the electricity goes off and we light candles and make baked apples in the embers of the fireplace while shadows dance on the wall from the flames.  I would love a fashion-show tea party where Diane Keaton models everything she’s ever worn — at the end Greta Garbo would come out wearing the dress she wore in Ninotchka (the white off-the-shoulder sparkly one, the prettiest in all movie history) ~ while Frank Sinatra (preferably with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra) sings It’s Always You. 
One date with Mark Twain, lunch on a rainy afternoon, just the two of us, elbow to elbow, at the Plaza Hotel in New York. That’s the young Sam → in that photo.  (I would probably come home and write “Susan Clemens, Mrs. Sam Clemens” a hundred times in my notebook, wondering will he call?  Which he won’t because there are no phones, maybe he will write!).  After the Plaza, I’d jump through time to pass a tray of orangey-cherryish Old Fashioned’s to everyone at the Algonquin Round Table in the 1920’s (the way to be popular with this crowd, but never saying a word, only listening and praying not to be disillusioned.  It’s always dangerous for dreams to truly come true, you take your chances, imagination is a wonderful thing and perhaps all is best left there; in some cases the dream itself might be enough).  And that’s all.  I’ll just leave you with a few words of wisdom from the genius who should know all about it . . .
Well, I hope there was something of interest for you in this interview.  I may have gotten slightly carried away with the dinner parties!  Oh well, must get ready to go to the movies . . . bubble bath first, on quest for a red letter day and “being home.” Hope your day is going wonderfully.   Love you all! xoxo
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860 Responses to Happy to Be Home

  1. Anna says:

    Susan I am so happy I found you on your website!! Do you remember me and my 5 friends meeting you on Martha’s Vineyard?

  2. Laural Wood says:

    Nothing gives me more pleasure in my email to read Susan’s blog. It is always a treat. <3

  3. Kay Bennett says:

    Thank you, Susan, for sharing your special finds you purchased while on your trip. So glad you made it home safely. I am in the middle of finishing up making my annual Christmas cookies & candies and was so happy to see your email pop up so I could sit down and take a breather. You are always a breath of fresh air and a wonderful feeling of home. Merry Christmas to you and all your “girlfriends”!

  4. Linda Lepage says:

    Susan, dear Susan!
    I l ove to read your posts! I take a few moments to check my email and if there is an email from YOU, I read it later when I have MORE time to dwell upon it! I feel so homey when I read them and look at your photos! Love your kitties! We used to have 2 kitties, but they have passed and now we have a dog (much to my dismay) My husband brought him home for our daughter, his name is Kipper (like the cartoon, Kipper the Dog, we love to watch it)
    Any way, love to see what you find in your travels, and I absolutely LOVE the tea set! I had 2 teas this past year and I am thinking of having a winter tea for my cousins and aunts, we love to chatter over tea! I am so glad you two are home safe and sound, and I am sure you will have a lovely Christmas time!
    Happy Christmas!! (hugs)
    Linda 🙂

  5. Linda Lepage says:

    I also love the musica and movies that you post in your posts!

  6. Carol says:

    Hi, Susan…..
    this is one of your girlfriends from California….saw your darling face at Vromans in Pasadena – from a distance – by the stairs. Love your blogs and look forward to them like to my next meal. Also the musica…..it is most generally in my era…..big bands, Frank, Dean, and etc.♥♥♥

    I’d love to be in your kitchen, watching the cardinals, and GOD’s beautiful winter scenery. As it is here, the leaves on our backyard liquid ambar, are still turning red and gold….it’s Autumn in Southern Cal!!!!!

    Glad you and Joe are back home with Jack and Girl. It nice to travel across country, but SO nice to be home again.

    Till next time……..Merry Christmas, and Happy 2014!!!!


  7. Lynn Bauer says:

    Just to let you know that I enjoyed your book so much that I’m not reading it for the third time! Every time I go to your site it warms the cockles of my heart! Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year!

  8. Susan says:

    The dishes are beautiful!

  9. DeAnne Bland says:

    I am new to your site and feel like I made it home – I simply love it and all that you share with us girls.
    Looking forward to enjoying all that you share in the future.
    Thank you!!!

  10. Donna Marie Fry says:

    OOOH, LA, LA . . . reading through the recipe and thinking, “do I have time to make this delicious candy?” and then see that you made it to give away to one of us lucky “girlfriends”!!. So, I will just dream and know the winner will be so happy.
    What fun to read what you are up to as you settle back home. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Rose Utterback says:

    I love, love your blogs. Seeing those adorable cardinals make me homesick for my home state of Illinois. Give Jack a hug for me. Merry Christmas!

  12. Karen Lotito says:

    This blog made me feel all warm and cozy inside! Susan, you always remind me that it’s the little things in life that truly make us happy. 🙂 I LOVE the new book, especially as my husband and I are seasoned passengers on QM2! The picture of the Chart Room made me smile. There’s nothing like sitting in a chair by the window watching the sunset and the ocean go by while sipping a Pimm’s Cup. 🙂

  13. Cindy says:

    Love the recent posts!! I love hearing about your travels and goings-on at Martha’s Vineyard! I hope to visit there someday!! Can’t wait to try the pie recipe!! Yum!!

  14. Kathie Guinan says:

    I don’t usually comment but two things inspired me today! First of all…I collect Beatrix Potter figurines also. I just wish I had a cute window sill to display them on. 🙂 Secondly, my daughter lives in Oklahoma City and she has found SO MANY cute shops. I love the tea set…
    We don’t have much snow in Iowa yet, so I am loving the pictures of your white backyard. I’m one of the few adults I know who LOVES snow! 🙂

  15. This is my first time to comment and two things inspired me…First…I also collect Beatrix Potter figurines. I wish I had a cute window sill to display them on! Secondly…my daughter lives in Oklahoma City and has found so many cute shops! She tells me the estate sales in that city are the best. 🙂

    We don’t have much snow in Iowa yet so I’m loving the pictures of snow in Martha’s Vinyard. I’m the only adult I know who loves snow!

  16. Colette says:

    My penpal of nearly 15 years, whom I have never met, but shares my love of anything English sent me “A Fine Romance” and I can’t put it down. I lived in London from 1999 to 2003, so needless to say that I have seen in all. My husband and I went back last September to spend the entire month in London. We had such a fantastic time that we decided to go back for another month next summer. This book is a wonderful trip down memory lane, and will treasure it until my very last day on this beautiful earth. I love everything you do, and your blog is an inspiration as well as an invitation to creativity. Thanks for sharing your talent with all of us. Happy holidays.


  17. Brenda Dunham says:

    Susan, wishing you a Merry Christmas and A Blessed New Year!

  18. margaretB says:

    Hi love your blog and read your book love it girl! I live in NC so we dont have snow and watching you is so wonderful. Life little pleasures are the best. Margaret B

  19. Brenna Henry says:

    Ok, OMG!!!! So exciting to know that someone (maybe, hopefully me!) is going to be getting such a VERY special gift from u! U r such a wonderfully kind person for doing that! It was lovely to meet u at remnants and I soooo enjoyed ur last 2 posts. Good reminders of what this season is really all about, being present for the magic, not getting everything that I think needs to be done. Breathe. Life is good. Thanks!! Also, who knew that mark twain was such a hottie before he grew that tell tale mustache!? I had to look up who that was!! Couldn’t believe it was him!! 🙂 Merry merry Christmas to you and to all the wonderful girlfriends out there helping to make the season bright! XO

  20. Lee Wainwright says:

    Hi Susan! This is my first time on your website, but have been a big fan for a long time. I am actually just around the corner from you on William St. We actually met back in June at a local cocktail,party. We are here for the holidays and as you well know, this is the best place to be for the holidays! I have LOVED seeing your van around town, especially after following your travels across country. Thank you for inspiring me to make this a wonderful Christmas for my family and enjoying all the prep. . . . Cookies are in the oven as we speak.. If you see me out walking with my big, furry Bernese Mt. Dog, Henry, please say hi!
    Happy Holidays! Lee

    • sbranch says:

      Now I remember Lee . . . you were at Paul’s party! I didn’t know you had a Bernese Mt. Dog. No one would be able to miss you! 🙂

  21. gurian6 says:

    Winter arrived here with a vengeance and your blog was the perfect thing to read while the snow flew. I love reading your blog…it puts a bit of peace in my day.

  22. Hi Susan! This is my first time on your website/ blog. . .or whatever it’s called. I am actually right around the corner from you on William St ( we even met this past June at a cocktail party on Wm. St). I have been a huge fan forever, loved your book (actually love all of your books) and love seeing your van around town!! Especially after following your travels across country. Fun to see the van in ‘real life’. If you see me out walking with my big furry, Bernese Mt. Dog, Henry, please say hello!
    Happy holidays to you!
    Lee from VH (and MI). 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      HA! That’s too funny. I hope you’re keeping warm over there! OK, I should be able to recognize that dog!!! Lee lee lee lee. Have to remember.

  23. Oops. . . Didn’t think my first post went thru. . . I am so technically challenged!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s probably not you … we got so many comments almost all at the same time, so things happen, mostly me, not getting them “approved” fast enough!

  24. Judith DiFrancesco says:

    I love the tea set and would love to add it to my collection.

  25. Alice Potts says:

    Your e-mails ignite the holiday spirit…making everything so inviting.

  26. janice hearns says:

    I make, every year for the last 20 years, toffee with the same group of women. Everyone looks forward to it and its easy as pie.
    Merry Christmas everyone.

  27. Nola Richter says:

    NOW it feels like Christmas! Best wishes from California!

  28. Angel Meek says:

    Oh how I love reading your posts but I especially enjoyed this one! I can’t wait to start baking!

  29. Janene Chessman says:

    We must be kindred spirits Susan. I have been on love with your books for nearly 20 years. I bought Vineyard Seasons on a trip to visit my best friend in Nantucket…I have been enchanted with your books ever since! I have a “problem” with collecting dishes as well..especially love old flowered creamers and plates. I even have to hide my treasures from my husband 😉 We tried to make one of your book signings on Martha’s Vineyard but the timing didn’t work…hope to meet you someday soon. Wishing a very Merry Christmas Hugs, Janene

  30. carmen mays says:

    Could it get any better?
    Yummy toffee and a beautiful tea set from England.
    I love your blog Susan.
    I wonder why it took so long for me to find you…
    Merry Christmas
    Carmen Mays

  31. Lucille Heath says:

    Susan-I love seeing you get your house ready for Christmas and enjoy looking at all the nice treasures that you found on your trip. It’s nice to get away but even better to be home-isn’t it? I’ve got to try that almond brittle.

  32. phyllis davidson says:

    sharing of holidays is soooo “delicious”…….thank you……thank you…..happy holidays!……

  33. Carla Boucher says:

    Glad to have you back just in time for Christmas!

  34. Reading your newsletter is always something I look forward to. Thanks too for your delightful book <3

  35. Janet says:

    After coming home from a busy day of shopping and thinking about all the things I need to do and get ready for Christmas, I stopped and read your blog and it made me smile. Thanks!

  36. Pat says:

    Had a very challenging day causing me so much anguish. Made a cup of tea and checked my computer and there was your blog. Immediately brought a smile to my heart and I read it twice ….experiencing your love and excitement for the treasures you brought home and above all your love of making your home meaningful and beautiful. Loved the picture of the dishes in soapy water. My tea is gone, and I feel a WHOLE LOT better. You have a special gift. Thanks for sharing it. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

  37. Brenda Winter says:

    Love your blog! You need to put Vanna to work and have her draw my name! That’s a beautiful tea set and would look wonderful in my kitchen. Thank you for brightening my day with your beautiful thoughts and great pictures.

  38. Joni Lee says:

    My darling husband recreated the little garden in your book for our garden behind our garage…the fence will be painted in the spring! It will have marvelous vegetables to eat and share and poppies and tall daisies on the outside of the fence. I have many of your books and calendars. I used the photo in one calendar to put into a frame for our children’s first home…It says Home Sweet Home…I made the from scratch brownies…yum! The little neighbor girls had their first cucumber tea sandwich thanks to you! I love your imagination and just everything you write and illustrate. Hope to be the “You” that wins the homemade treat and the china for our empty cupboard! Merry Christmas Susan Branch and blessings for the New Year!

    • sbranch says:

      You’ll love that garden — what a good husband you have! When you paint it, a little tip, use white stain instead of white paint. It looks the same, but it doesn’t chip and wear out nearly so fast when you use the stain! Thank you for the sweet comments, you girls simply make my day! xoxo

  39. Sandra Vick says:

    Susan, thank you so much for the delightful, cozy and warm fuzzy message today. I can just smell the delicious food, baking in your vintage over! I am going to make the almond butter recipe for Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  40. Christy Hendrickson says:

    Hi Susan, I soooooo look forward to your posts. You put a warm, cozy feeling in my soul, & a skip in my heart for the holidays!!!! What an awesome gift from “your” heart to win, filled with Love & Thought. Have a very Merry Christmas & an incredible New Year. Love from sunny So Calif, Christy Hendrickson

  41. Janee' Kemp says:

    Merry Christmas!
    You make even a gray day colorful and happy!
    Thank you for all the beautiful drawings and sayings.
    Loved seeing the cardinals!

  42. Ann Carroll Malone says:

    Hi Susan,
    So excited every time I go on your blog and see that you have posted a new one! Feel like a stalker sometimes because I check to see if posted something all the time! Btw, I’m a nester too, so I love how excited you get when your cooking, or decorating or “just glad to be HOME”.m
    Ann Malone

  43. Ann Carroll Malone says:

    Hi Susan,
    So excited every time I go on your blog and see that you have posted a new one! Feel like a stalker sometimes because I check to see if posted something all the time! Btw, I’m a nester too, so I love how excited you get when your cooking, or decorating or “just glad to be HOME”.,

  44. Candace Feathers says:

    Would love that tea set. Such fun to have you as a lifestyle “sister”!

  45. Carole Crandall says:

    Dear Susan
    I followed you and Joe on your book tour and loved every minute of it. About your book…..I can’t find it at Barnes & Noble, so can I still get it from your “shop?” I’m glad you’re back on the east coast. I moved back from California (with my daughter and her family in 2009). I love the seasons, although in winter, I sometimes miss San Diego. I am always so inspired by your lifestyle, your art, and your positive attitude. Your posts brighten my day. We do have some stuff in common……I love to sketch (also do collage, knit, and adore anything “old.” Although I don’t overdo decorating for Christmas (I live alone), I have a small tree, bring out all my Christmas pillows, change the candles to “red” and have a delightful snowman collection that takes center stage on the top shelf of a low bookcase. My grandsons love to see them. Shopping for antiques has always been a hobby; even got my daughter “hooked.” Oh by the way, I am enamored with England, am an avid viewer of PBS on Saturday night (British comedy). One of the “girlfriends” mentioned “Doc Martin” who is one of my favorites. Well I think I’ve said enough. I would love the tea set and the sweets!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s why I started the store, because people can’t find things. So, yes, A FINE ROMANCE is still there, and from our store, they all come signed. Merry Little Christmas to you and yours!

  46. Karen Schnutenhaus says:

    First time writing; I feel as though we are sisters who have just never met! (I am the oldest of 8 children and enjoy many of the things you have written about in your posts.)

    I wish you a blessed Christmas and good health for the New Year.

  47. Leah McIlvain says:

    Hi, Susan,

    I have been an admirer of yours for many years. As an elementary school media/library teacher, I LOVE Beatrix Potter. As a matter of fact, those little green books published by Warner of all the individual stories BP penned, were some of my very favorites when I went to the public library in rural Kentucky as a little girl. I also have to tell you that I have your stamp of “The best gifts are tied with heart strings,” and have used it repeatedly for many years! ALL THE BEST TO YOU!!! I <3 being considered as "one of your girls."

  48. Cheryl Kennedy says:

    You have such lovely china pieces. I just love it all. I would love to win this beautiful tea set you found on your trip.

  49. Lynne says:

    Season’s Greetings–wishing you a blessed Christmas. Thanks for showing us the picture of the building decorated like a gingerbread house. Bryan-College Station is 25 miles away and news has it that they now hold world record for largest gingerbread house!

  50. cheryl salter says:

    You bring such joy to me to read and see your blogs. Your home and all your treasures are like I hand picked them for you. I live in a house my great grandfather built and have lots of items handed down in family. I love old and your taste is perfect! can we be girlfriends in real life please.. keep up your lovely joyfull work that inspires so many. I bought my husband a beret for xmas and hope he will love wearing it. Merry Christmas to you both!

  51. Lorna Morris says:

    Missing all the snow now that I live in SoCal. Thanks for sharing yours. Also thanks for sharing so we can take the time to enjoy the small things. God bless you this wonderful season.

  52. debbie says:

    I would love that darling tea set. If I won it, I would have a tea party and Susan would be invited to my home in the San Fernando Valley for a tea party, with other lovely ladies.
    Debbie Weinshenk
    : )

  53. Cheryl says:

    Beautiful dishes and teapot! Just what my daughter requested for Christmas. Tea and brittle- yum….

  54. doris minear says:

    I have missed your blogs, while you were in Calif. I was one of the lucky people that ordered my second book from your store, as well as two of the Yankee magazines. Since I will be away for Christmas with family it is my first year without a tree, but I did all the other decorating, and had a wonderful party, with 26 of my best friends, not really enough room for 26 people and a big Christmas tree, We had a wonderful time. I will enjoy the tree my son and daughter-in-law have. Merry Christmas and love, Doris

  55. Marie Jacobs says:

    Love your new collection of little lambs. So sweet!
    I recently bought two little lambs for my kitchen windowsill.
    Love looking at them every day!
    Glad you’re home in time for Christmas!
    Marie J.

  56. Linda Richwine says:

    Seeing that banana cream pie took me back to my Mom’s kitchen. She made the best pies and candies for Christmas. It was a simpler time and I miss her. I think your book is going to be under my tree! I so enjoy your writings and especially “Willard”. Have a wonderful holiday!

  57. Susy Spencer says:

    Ooooooooh the little green tea set is so sweet, so here, for the first time, I will leave my little comment and give entering for Vanna’s drawing a go!

    To say I enjoy your website immensely is an understatement. It’s always a great way to start (or end!) the day and all you do to make it so special is sincerely appreciated.

    Susy S.

  58. Susan says:

    Want to add my comment for The fine tea set but most of all to say merry Christmas to such a fine lady, from one Susan to another.

  59. lisa berger says:

    Oh Susan, how do you DO it? You always write a blog post that is so cheery and fun AND just when I need it. This time your peace and joy and pretty cardinals broke through my momentary Christmas fog and anxiety to give me that last minute HAPPY boost I really needed. Thanks!!!! You are better than Christmas tea!

  60. Robin Faris says:

    I cannot wait to make the Almond Brittle. It looks wonderful!!
    I am saving your wonderful recipes for my daughter in one of your mant books I have purchased for her. I just need to add my “English Grandmothers Recipes” to it. Her wonderful Prime Rib and scrumptuous Yorkshire Pudding.
    Thank you for sharing with us!!

  61. Janet in Rochester says:

    FYI Sue: I checked the “Replacements” website & may have found your new tea set. If the manufacturer is “Tuscan” the pattern may be “Blenheim” [PS – Winston Churchill’s ancestral home, Blenheim Palace. Have you been there? Here’s a link for the china:
    Hope this is helpful.

    • sbranch says:

      It is Janet! Blenheim! Makes me love it even more. Good sloothing. And I got even a better deal than I thought! 🙂

  62. Kathie from CA says:

    I love all things Susan Branch. Already have my SB calendar and one for a friend. I have all your books. I love following your blog and Willard. Have a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy healthy New Year.

  63. june blake says:

    You are full of surprises, fun, inspiration, excitement, sentiment–and generosity, Dear Susan. I only learned of your blog last month when my daughter from North Carolina brought your “love” book for me to see. I was overwhelmed with your art work, sayings, and unusual pictures and she said I could see more on your blog. So she signed me up. It is a gift to enjoy. I know you must stay in a whirl, keeping up with it all but do take time to enter my name in the drawing for those magnificent dishes–and the luscious candy I could eat while sipping from one of the cups. Thank you.

  64. Christine Dunn says:

    It’s always such a treat to read your blog. Sure makes winter seem less dreary. Merry Christmas.

  65. Rita Strickland says:

    Your blog spot is my “spoon full of sugar” when I need a good dose of warmth and cheer. Love, love your sweet home and yummy recipes too!

  66. Carolyn Tschachtli says:

    Thank you for your book, “A Fine Romance.” I enjoyed the book and felt like I was right there with you! Being busy with our Dairy Farm, my husband and I do not get to travel, having said that, your book was my ticket to England. 🙂 Loved the gardens and the pictures of the country side. A very Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!
    Blessings and good health,

  67. Connie M D says:

    Susan, You warm my heart. I say a thankful prayer daily and you are included.
    Thank you for sharing your special heart with all of us.

  68. Kathy Wagner says:

    Dear Susan….I’m new to your blog, but not your books. I love your rare generosity of sharing. Thank you for helping me get in the holiday spirit!

  69. Elaine says:

    Dear Susan…I used your Christmas Cook Book to get my young daughters interested in cooking. Now they are grown women and still enjoy using the book at Christmas. They now make your Grandma’s stuffing each year for our Christmas dinner, just like I did when I made the dinner!! Of course, we also love the sugar cookie recipe and many others!!

  70. Sarah says:

    I look forward to your blog posting. I just love your DIY Christmas decorations around the house. They are so cozy and fun. We have a new addition this year, active Siamese girl kitty so we are having fun this Christmas. Just love your tea set especially it is my favorite color. Thank you for the latest update.

  71. cynthia lopez says:

    What a lovely website. My sister told me about you and now I am hooked. I love the beautiful tea set. Thank you

  72. Lori Cooper says:

    What a warm and wonderful way you have of “inviting people in”. As my Mom would say, “you make me happy every day”. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you!

  73. Betsy says:

    Love this!!!

  74. Kathy says:

    Your post always brings joy to me. You have a way with words like no other and you make me feel like a true friend of yours. I want to come in, sit and have a cup of tea with you. Also, I truly love the tea set you are giving away. Someone is going to be very lucky this Christmas.

  75. Jill Zemp says:

    I love to follow you on Twitter! Merry Christmas! You always brighten my day with your art work & all that you share! I just bought some wonderful Roobios Candy Cane Tea that I would love to share in your vintage tea set. 🙂

  76. Dee Decker says:

    Such a beautiful way to start celebrating the most beautiful season! Your delicious blog is the best accompaniment to my morning cup of tea.

  77. Sarah says:

    Your post always brings me joy. I met someone that knows you…..He use to publish the little newspaper there on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer months. He has moved clear out here to Washington state. Have a Merry Christmas….

  78. Jeani Lothridge says:

    Love, love the tea set! I’ve always wanted one! Please?

  79. audrey Bell from LaBarque Creek, MO says:

    I am so happy to have you back HOME for the HOLIDAYS! I was so worried about you and Joe on your travels away from hearth and home for our favorite time of year, Autumn, and all the wonders if brings us. But now you are home, safe and sound after braving the snowy roads. I am glad you are home to enjoy a fire in the hearth, warm tea in a pretty cup, and making brittle to munch and some to share too!
    I ordered two books, one for me and one for my dear aunt. (I will report here that I know she did not wait until her December 12th birthday to open and enjoy!)
    I am waiting for my Christmas break from school to reward myself with a special treat by reading of our trip to England. While the temperature drops and the flurries fly outside, I am looking forward to curling up on the couch to snuggle under a quilt while I read and savor the memories of our adventures.
    Thank you for sharing!

  80. Linda says:

    I hope that Vanna likes me as much as I like HER!!! 😉

  81. Merry Christmas Susan! I have a weakness for beautiful dishes. It gives me joy just viewing yours. Can’t wait to try your almond brittle. I’ve never tried using unsweetened chocolate. It will be a treat.
    Thanks for sharing your joy.

  82. Linda M says:

    Love, love, love your site. Check your site every day. Merry Christmas!!!

  83. Becky A. Harvey says:

    Hi Susan! I love reading your blog and your artwork is beautiful. I travelled to England many years ago with a high school buddy. We went to the Lake District and visited Beatrix Potter’s home. It is a beautiful area, and your postings and pictures bring back so many good memories. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself!

  84. Lainey Smith says:

    We are kindred spirits for sure! Your web site ALWAYS makes my heart happy. Thanks! Susan for such joy to peruse! Lainey

  85. Amy Hancock says:

    Your blog has really made my year. I too went to England this year but your trip carried me thorough the entire year to make my experience last all year long. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your live and loves with us, you are such an inspiration for living a happy and full life. Love to you and Joe.
    PS; I’d love to win the lovely tea set that I would share with my Grandchildren when we have “Tea”

  86. Lynne Neal says:

    We took our first trip out to Cape Cod , this year and loved it as much as you love my England. Loved the last post with all the pictures and news of your trip , Santa is bringing me your book for Christmas .That I know for sure!!!! Love it already ,
    Wishing you both a Happy Christmas .

  87. Pat Saunders says:

    Dear Susan,
    I met you so many years ago when you were at QVC in PA. I was bold enough to bring all my Susan branch books and you signed them all! The only one I don’t have is the Baby book, thought since I do not have one it might seem odd, but all the rest are showing their wear from the many times they are put to use! I read them like a novel because I love the stories and drawings. When “A Fine Romance” came out, I was sad that I would not have a signed copy until I got a notice from Titcombs Bookshop that they had some. Yahoo! I have my copy which I am loving! My sisters do not have to ask me what I want for Christmas every year because there is the standard: Susan Branch’s calendar, mini calendar and pocket calendar! I do add other tidbits from the website that strike my fancy, however the calendars are a must! Thank-you so much, Susan, for sharing your talent with us and making every day just a little bit brighter!

    • sbranch says:

      I remember meeting you Pat! It was so sweet of you to come there, that’s why I didn’t forget! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  88. Loved your book! It was like spending time in the British countryside with an old and dear friend! Thank you for your warm and happy comments.

  89. L.S. Lauer says:

    What a beautiful posting about finding your china friends and the tea set. Thank you. The tea set if similar to one my great aunts had 40+ years ago. Very welcoming–“Come in and sit a spell, have tea with me and enjoy it seems to say.”

  90. Linda Stone says:

    Hi Susan! Thank you for visiting us in Bakersfield CA! Also, thank you for signing my books AND my quilt (with the sweet hats). I, too, just love dishes. The tea set is beautiful and would feel right at home with me. Please visit us again sometime. Linda Stone

  91. Karen Adams says:

    Where do you find all the time to make the world more beautiful? I love the recipes, the art work, and the memories you create for all of us! The tea set is just so pretty and holiday feeling. Thanks for sharing.

  92. Gail Rose says:

    Oh, how I wish you would pick me. !!!! I would take such good care of it. Thank you even if you don’t. Gail

  93. Donna Rupp says:

    You are such an inspiration ~ I love spending time with you through your website, calendars and books. Have the merriest Christmas and may the new year be ever so kind to you & yours.

  94. yvonne b cali says:

    hi susan your awesome

  95. Diane Cassano says:

    Just wanna say Hi – to say I love your column is an understatement. I start every morning with coffee and reading an old Willard or blog of yours. just inspires me to no end ! Merry Christmas !!!!

  96. Mary Ann Bumpurs says:

    This tea set is one of the most beautiful one’s I have ever seen. I am like you though, it’s even prettier if you mismatch some of the pieces. Your post is so beautiful, as is your life! Thank you for sharing it with me. I look forward to seeing an Email from you. You do an excellent job, it’s so interesting and so many photo’s! I hope I get drawn to be the winner. I hope, I hope, I hope. Mary Anne

  97. Susan Lyons says:

    I’m happy to have found this blog. Susan, I have been a fan of your art and writing for a long time. I was floored when I read that you hand print and hand write your books. I just read “A Fine Romance” and am overdue for a trip back to England. I have been to Chawton, being an Austen fan, but not to any of the other places yet. They will be on my list for next time. My sister and I are in love with Cornwall, and Scotland is awesome too. I need to see where the Brontes lived (Haworth?), and soak up as much of the English experience as possible. I hear Wales is wonderful, and a month in London itself would be grand. You are so talented yet down to earth, I appreciate that. Thanks for sharing your talents and joy of living with all of us. Susan L

  98. Alice Crandall says:

    A Fine Cup of Tea!

  99. wendy Rowland says:

    So enjoy your web site, recipes and book! I am so glad I happened upon your blog:-)
    The tea set is lovely….some one will be very happy!

  100. Kate says:

    I’m late to the party, but I would love to see Diane Keaton model all the clothes she has ever worn. She is one of those fortunate women who gets better looking as she gets older and her style is better than ever. And I heard her say on a talk show once she never dieted!

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