Today is the 32nd Anniversary of my move from California to Martha’s Vineyard.   (MUSICA) On March 5, 1982, at around three in the afternoon, I was bundled up, ferrystanding at the rail on the ferry with my eyes tearing in the freezing wind,  looking out over the choppy waves at the blurry island slowly coming into focus as we came closer.  The foghorn blew from the lighthouse, church spires and chimneys trailing smoke poked above the tree line.  When I got there I thought I would look in the paper, find a furnished place to rent and stay for three months.  I wanted to see what it was like to live in New England and have seasons. So I was going to see winter turn to spring and then to summer.  That was my plan.  The whole entire plan.


March 1982

This is the little house I bought about a week after I arrived.  Buying a house 3,000 miles from everyone and everything I had known and loved was not part of the plan. It was actually a bit of an accident because I was at loose ends and there was a really cute old-fashioned stove in that kitchen.  So now I had a 9′ x 9′ bedroom to decorate in forget-me-not blue wallpaper where I would wake from now on and see snow falling outside the windows, or leaf shadows shimmering on the walls.  Me and three kitties to keep me warm.  The doorway to my future and in such an unsuspected place.

houseThe thing I love most about time passing is how I can look back and see everything falling into place.  Just as it was meant to be.  Thirty two Years!  The best accident I was ever in!    My prayer:

Sky, be my depth;

Wind, be my width and my height;

World, my heart’s span;

Loneliness, wings for my flight.

Leonora Speyer

flower border

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404 Responses to ANNIVERSARY for me

  1. Nancy Mosley says:

    Happy Anniversary! I just think that is the neatest story of how you were seeking something new in your life but instead of it being just a chapter in your life, it’s turned into a wonderful novel!!! Thanks for always making me smile!

  2. Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

    A wonderful event to celebrate indeed! The huge changes we make in our life, following the dream and THEN actually taking those steps to fulfill it – are absolutely mind-blowing! Everything was right at that time and everything has been proven to be right! Your little cabin reminds me of my cabin in Newport, WA. My kitchen is about as big as your bedroom was. I sleep in the living area and that isn’t all bad. If you remember the snow days you experienced with that cabin and all of the other memories – amazing!! It fills my heart with joy that you celebrate this occasion. You loved being there and you took the leap! You are such a grand role model!!! XXXXOOOO Pat

  3. Elaine says:

    Happy Anniversary ! Beautiful post ! I will get to your sweet little town there in New England it is one of the places I so want to visit and see it is on my bucket list .

  4. Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Happy Anniversary or almost Anniversary! You are lost in the calendars. That’s why we love you! You are one of us!
    I know you have mentioned before that you have another book swirling around in your head. I really hope this story is the one you have in mind! I know you didn’t feel courageous at the time, but you must know now just how brave you were and how much fate/God played in that decision….and you were brave and smart enough to follow the nudge. And then the angels in your path, the Gladys Taber books, and so much you haven’t told us. I would love that book!
    Just saying.
    Happy Anniversary! (Maybe a little early.:)

    • Janet in Rochester says:

      Have the same idea as Chris – I hope your next project [after the Breakfast book] will be that story. What a wonderful read that would be. Pretty-please! ❤️

    • Sheryl says:

      This is a wonderful suggestion for another book from “Our Susan”. Let’s all nudge her in this direction….when she’s ready. Let’s let her rest after finishing the calendars.
      Sheryl from Chico, CA

  5. Jane says:


    I just ordered and received your new book from your website. Tonight I read the first chapter, how you met the love of your life! And then I opened this post and it was serendipity that you wrote even more about your past.

    The same year you moved to Martha’s Vineyard, I got married and almost within 2 seconds, had a baby. Shortly after I bought your first book, Heart of The Home, and with Emily slung over one shoulder, I stirred and whisked and flipped and, well, you know. And that when on and on with each one of your subsequent books and my subsequent babies.

    On my Hubby’s 50th birthday in 2003 we went to Martha’s Vineyard. I told him all about your books and my love of them over the years. We went to the Black Dog, I was sure I would run into you there! I boldly asked the waitress, “Is Susan and Joe here tonight?” Like I knew you!! “Well, Susan is in California and Joe is upstairs.” I looked at my Husband horrified. After the waitress was out of earshot, I hissed, “Oh, my goodness, they broke up!! She’s in California and he’s upstairs crying!” I was so dramatic!

    Well, you have me so happy knowing that Joe came to dinner and never left. If only I knew this years ago! 🙂

    Best wishes on your anniversary!!

    Jane From Chicago

  6. Sandy Fox says:

    Happy “Made The Right Move Day!” I did the same thing 38 years ago! Met the love on my life and we have been married for 35 years!
    Love you, since you bring us such joy, loved meeting Joe in Wichita, and love, love your kitten stories! Stay Happy and Warm! (We got 9″ of snow yesterday!…..yeaaaaaa!!)

    • sondra fox says:

      Susan, Oops, something happened here. This message says “I” wrote it. “I” didn’t. Must have been another Sandy. I always sign off (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats) & my name is Sandy Fox, with Sondra in the top of my logs. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

      • sbranch says:

        You are right Sondra, because we now have two Sandy Foxes!

        • sondra fox says:

          if you see Sondra at the top of my Email, & (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats) you’ll know it’s me from CA. Can’t believe there are two of us with the same name. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

          • Janet in Rochester says:

            TRUE STORY. About 10 years ago, at my university I get a class list with what I thought was a duplicate record on it. Two Robert Crosbys with the same DOB. Same middle initial too. No way, I thought. The computer just hiccupped an extra line here. Checking with the Registrar the next day and it turned out – they WERE two different people, with exactly the same name and birthdate [even the year]. BOING!! At the same university – at the same time. And in the same class – at the same time. Gotta say, since then I don’t put a lot past the realm of possibility anymore. Anything can happen!

  7. Jane says:

    Oops, major mistake with date. Got married when you met Joe.

    Jane From Chicago

  8. Roma says:

    Country Living , I have seen the magazine on the store racks. I had never looked inside but would of if I had known your drawings and thoughts were there. Then just lately found you and your wonderful book. Thank you!

  9. barbara lassiter says:

    You just have a whole month more to celebrate and there can be nothing wrong with that, I say!!!! 🙂

  10. Marilyn says:

    Happy Anniversary!
    Life’s little serendipity’s do delight!
    And delight us all for the adventure you share.

  11. Jocelyn says:

    Wow! Isn’t it amazing how life can change in such a dramatic way. 32 years!! I’m sure it was the best decision you made at that time 🙂

  12. Sue Miller says:

    Happy Anniversary Susan!
    Funny thing, life changed for me 32 years ago too. Days like this are great for looking back and appreciating that sometimes in our lives we are carried to people and places we would not look for on our own. Hindsight is great for appreciating blessings. May your future be just as wonderful!

  13. Donna Hrehor says:

    Happy Anniversary Susan! So blessed you made that move!!! Donna (Idaho)

  14. Arlinda says:

    Happy Anniversary Susan!

    There is a plan to this life, fortunate are the ones that abandon themselves to let their spirit guide them. You are an inspiration. I’ve learned so much from your free spirit.

    I read your blog post to my 11 year old daughter. Her first reaction was, “What happened to Joe? Why isn’t he in the picture?” I paused, went and opened A Fine Romance. lol After reading from your book how you met Joe (which is one of my favorite parts of your book), I continued reading the anniversary post.

    After, she asked me to let you know that she loves your idea of the forget-me-not wallpaper and that she will someday do the same in her first home. I’ll surprise her this spring with forget-me-not wallpaper.

    We love you.

    Happy Anniversary! XOXO

    • sbranch says:

      I tell you, your comments, all of them Girls, even though I can’t respond to everyone or I will never get these calendars done, are SO WONDERFUL, I sit here with tears in my eyes knowing your daughter will be getting forget-me-not wallpaper. I loved being eleven, and you are the perfect mom for an eleven-year-old dreamer.

  15. Kari says:

    Happy Anniversary, Dream Maker! We will all celebrate with you for a month, a year, and always! What a great post full of hope. ~Kari

  16. Ann Jane Koerber says:

    Susan, no matter what the circumstances, how awful they might have been, I applaud your courage to cross the country by yourself on a blind journey. YOU BELIEVED IN YOURSELF, otherwise you wouldn’t have traveled away from home. I admire that and that is why you are such a success today………because you believe in yourself!

  17. Kathy R from Iowa says:

    We rejoice with you! And, yes, another book would be good. 🙂

  18. Toni from Sylvania OH says:

    Hi Dearest Susan…what a GREAT post!!!! I was reading about the day you were on the ferry, going to your new home,your new life, your new love:-))) On that VERY day, at 3:11AM I was giving birth to my wonderful, beautiful 4th child, Patrick Joseph. He was MOST unexpected and the joy of our lives, since we had two adopted girls and then…after 9 years had our first born son JimII. We still hoped and prayed for more children, so our dear Lord answered our prayers…and 11 years later, He gave us Patrick. The joy of being able to give birth was ‘over the top’ for me and I am forever sooo, very grateful! HAPPY, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO YOU AND JOE. love ALL YOU DO…never had girlfriends like you and the rest of our tag-a-long gang…LOVE…LOVE…LOVE:-)))

  19. Nellie says:

    Susan, this has been a great 32 years for you! We have all been enriched by your decision! You may think it was an “accident,” but it was truly meant to be! Much was waiting for you to discover. Happy wishes and blessings to you!
    xo Nellie

  20. stephanie says:

    Happy (early!) anniversary! What a great story!

    Those old-fashioned stoves will get you every time. I once rented a house because I liked the molding around the fireplace. What is wrong with us?

    My theory is God needed to keep you there long enough to heal, fall in love with MV and meet Joe… so he used to stove to reel you in! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      We’re crazy. If all the world were crazy like us, think how sweet it would be!

      • stephanie says:

        So true! When I run the world I’m starting with all the lovely people in your comments section – they will be congress. Then of course we make Tea shops and Yarn stores mandatory for every town! 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          Perfection. “There is nothing wrong with the world that a sensible woman could not settle in an afternoon!” 🙂 The operative word I think is sensible!

          • Rhonda D. says:

            Stephanie, there is nothing wrong with us. I’m reading a book right now by Ken Keis that says…”it really doesn’t matter why we are attracted to something. The important thing is that we are. Learn to recognize our clues-they make you feel good inside. Whatever it is or who is involved, nourishment comes back to you. You light up and feel a sense of well-being. Follow your clues.” So I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s fireplace molding or the 4 seasons, whatever works!

  21. Cyndi in NC says:

    They say things happen for a reason and that happened to you. Whatever reason brought you to the island it was where you were meant to be to start your new life and meet your darling man! All the best for the next 32! Hugs.

  22. Bobbi says:

    Sweet. Getting so much enjoyment from your blog, book, and Facebook. Love your stories and love New England. Thanks for entertaining me during this cold, snowy winter!

  23. Lisa Nelson-Jones says:

    Courage- that’s what you’ve got 😉 and just look at the ripple effect of your courage has produced! Such beauty, kindness, connections, happiness, love, peace, more courage… The list goes on!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    So many wonderful comments here! What a lovely, supportive community of ‘girlfriends’. I’ve only recently joined the blog but have been a fan for many years. I just wanted to say Thank You and I Love You, Susan! Your great big heart shows in everything you do!

  25. Susan Cardot Lance says:

    So Brave! My dream (having lived in Southern California all my life) is to spend one year where it snows. With the weather you’re having there now, I am sure your readers would just shake their heads, but somehow, sometime, I would just like to try…

    • sbranch says:

      Its magic. How it happens, I will never know. And then suddenly, teeny green things come up, and daffodils bloom and a whole new world comes into bloom. Winter is the thing that makes spring so wonderful.

    • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

      hello Susan, I can totally understand that having lived in Southern California most of my life. one gets sick and tired of eternal summer and once I got to where i could see the seasons change, see the fall colors and winter snow, along with the budding trees in spring and the cool leafy trees and shady front porches in summer, I could never go back there again. someday your dream will come true, and I hope you have as much fun as I have had. hugs…. 🙂

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        So true, Sue and Pat. I have always been so grateful to live where we have the Seasons. I think we value them most for the CHANGE they bring. The crisp cool air of Fall is such a welcome change from the hot humidity of Summer. When “teeny green things” like crocuses, hyacinths etc start pushing up through the earth, they bring color, warmth, scent – and the beginning of the end of cold, gray, dreary Winter landscapes.☀️

  26. Diane from Poulsbo says:

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! What a beautiful (very short) story! Such an adorable cottage to begin your new life on a fairy tale island. I can only imagine what it must have felt like on the day you discovered your historic, much larger “cottage” that you now live in. I wish I knew how many times you passed your now-house ….never knowing that one day it would be yours! How thrilling to look back over the years. I feel so happy for you on your anniversary today! :). Xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      The house we’re in now, I’ve heard, was for sale around that time for a mere pittance. I probably could have bought it. But I wouldn’t have even looked at it … it was much too grand for my thinking at the time. I wanted a very small house. It was just me, and I was burrowing in.

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        Very wise. You probably would have felt so much more adrift in that big [albeit glorious] house. Yet somehow it’s just perfect for Two [plus kitties].

  27. Was just thinking if you are working on March 2015 we could be celebrating the 33 rd anniversary 1 year and 1 month early? That would give us a lot more time to celebrate .
    Love your story , God works all things together for our good. Such a testimony of hope .

  28. Cathy from Golden Co says:

    WOW – you were so brave. I’m so glad you were. How you’ve enriched so many lives especially mine! I love your little house. It must’ve been fun to decorate. Today, 2/5, is our wedding anniversary – 31 wonderful years!

  29. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    What a great story, that would also make a great book. When you were on that ferry boat were you confident or terrified? After the big Northridge earthquake, I wanted to move away from here so much. I dreamed of going to Vermont, and my parents wanted me to move to Cambria near them. That voice inside my heart kept telling me not to move anywhere, to have the courage to stay where I was. I did, and two years later the wonderful man I have been married to for sixteen years moved in next door. I now live in the house next door to where I lived for many years.
    Isn’t it scary how quickly 32 years goes by? Congratulations on taking that big step!!

    • sbranch says:

      I was a zombie. Unconsciously (which was operative word throughout ordeal 🙂 ) I was living one day at a time, that’s how I think I got there. How lucky your guy moved in right next door. I bet you sing “Oh how I adore, the boy next door” around your house . . .

      • Lisa Jorgensen says:

        Yes I do! Also “I’m living right next door to an angel”.
        My Mom always told me I could not meet “Mr. Right” by staying home. I proved her wrong!

  30. Debra in So CA says:

    Love this Post, and that you are ready to celebrate the anniversary of your new beginning 32 years ago. It was a good decision. I’m sure it was a divine appointment.
    Look at how God directed your steps… “You’re come a long way baby!” So glad you did because we have been so blessed by knowing you.

  31. Kathie says:

    Thank you for sharing that. With a few years, we can all look back and see a grand order not visible in the, seeming, disorder of everyday life. We can see the swirls left by angels wings, at times…….


    • sbranch says:

      Swirls of the angels wings, isn’t that the truth!

    • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

      Beautiful sentiment, Kathie. Absolutely true, and I love how you stated it. It went directly into my journal.

      • Sara says:

        You are so right, Kathie! One of the neatest things about getting old is being able to look back on those times when we thought we would just die and finally seeing the sense of it all.

        You, my dear Susan, leave swirls of angel wings every time you put pen to paper to share your heart and then unselfishly take the time to decorate the pages with glimpses of the things you love.

        That’s why we girlfriends are perhaps too eager at times for more words, more brush strokes, more photos. There’s just something unexplainably attractive about a life well spent, don’t you think? Thank you so much, Susan, for the glimpses into yours.


  32. Nicoline says:

    Dear Susan,
    HAPPY HAPPY Anniversary! I hope you and Joe will have many more happy years together!
    Many others have already said the same….But I really feel things happen for a reason, and perhaps, looking back you know that you were meant to go to MV.
    It’s early morning here, and I was so happy to see a post from you! And I had not noticed the dates were wrong….Oh well, does it matter? i guess not, just celebrate the happy occasions, and I’ll send you warm wishes, and a hot cup of tea with something nice to go with it.
    (have you ever had an English ” Cream Tea”??)
    Happy anniversary from Holland,

  33. Jean says:

    Love from the Heart of the Home was a Valentine sent to me (along with two heart cookie cutters) by MY girlfriend of thirty -seven years, when it was first published in 1994. I only just found it (and you) again when unpacking a boxes of books from the attic! Immediately I went on-line and am SO glad to get reacquainted!!! Immersing myself in the world of pre-K picture books to read aloud to four sons in their Peter Rabbit nursery kept us apart, I guess! Not anymore, as I adore your blog! Would you consider writing and illustrating a picture book around your lamb(s)? Beatrix Forgot Lamby would make a great title!!! Storyline could be just as playful!!!

    Congratulations, Susan! You are such an inspiration!

  34. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ♪**♫*✱•*¨*•.☆.♪•*¨❋**••*¨✱*•★.* ♪* Destiny 🙂 ♪**♫*✱•*¨*•.☆.♪•*¨❋**••*¨✱*•★.* ♪* Sweet Sue…..I Love Your Cottage…Pure Magic….It Truly Was All Meant To Be!….My Wings are All A Flutter….. xoxo Poof! 🙂 ♪**♫*✱•*¨*•.☆.♪•*¨❋**••*¨✱*•★.* ♪*

  35. Tasha says:

    It was a lucky day for you, Joe, the kitties and all of us when you found your little cottage in the woods all those years ago.
    Love and best wishes on your anniversay
    in Wild & Wet Warwickshire

  36. Susan, I am a believer in God-incidence! It was meant to be. I can imagine it was exciting and a bit scary at the same time! You ARE living the dream! I have always dreamt of living in New England. As a girl we used to visit one of my mother’s Aunts who lived in Mass and her cousin in Vermont. Heaven on earth. Dreams can come true. I am a lover of seasons too, except the only one we seem to have here in the UK at the moment is Rain Season, lol. The sun will shine again. I have faith. Happy Anniversary! Lifting a glass to 32 more years! “May you always have walls for the winds,a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,and all your heart might desire.” xxoo

  37. Suzanne in Sydney, Australia says:

    How brave, how adventurous and how romantic. And it WAS meant to be, you followed a path that you may not have realised you were meant to follow, but you ‘walked away’ and made a wonderful new life. If you hadn’t, we girlfriends from all around the world would not have cyber met you and enjoyed your company so immensely over all these many years.
    Thank you for being so brave, adventurous and romantic and YOU.

  38. Susan Lee says:

    After breaking up with my intended, 33 years ago this month the cat and I moved from the midwest to coastal Virginia to be with my extended family. Good decision! Happy anniversary to you and thank you for including your girlfriends in your life!

  39. Catie Cook says:

    Happy Anniversary! I moved from Southern California, too. (I grew up in Glendale… not too many miles away from your childhood home.) Except I was much older than you were when I made my big move. It was everal years after a dreadfully painful divorce. Then I found the true love of my life. He is now my husband. And we live in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. I didn’t even know exactly where Wisconsin WAS before I met him! All I knew is that it was “somewhere in the middle”! And now? Here I am! So happy! Isn’t it amazing how small things and big things merge to create our lives? Thank you, Susan, for sharing. You put a frame around our memories. It’s a wonderful gift. Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      As they say, you just never know where life will lead you. What an adventure! When we’re young, something happens, and we think it’s the end. When it can actually be just the beginning.

      • Mara Mattia says:

        That sounds like a wonderful quote of hope for you to write in calligraphy, Susan! #”When we’re young, something happens and we think it’s the end. When it can actually be just the beginning.”

  40. Mary in Phoenix says:

    Do I sense a book brewing??? I think YES!!! What a wonderful story you have to tell … archiving your life and inspiring at the same time 🙂 “When we find a home that fits, we can step into it and pull its beautiful walls around our shoulders.”

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Mary!

      • Diane from Poulsbo says:

        Okay, I have been reading all of the GF comments this morning, and yours Susan….and I agree with Mary and others….there must be a new book brewing!!! Yay! Then all of our questions and wonderings and imaginations about Martha Vineyard will be answered…..and with gorgeous pictures! Sign me up for pre-order! You are an ANGEL Susan because you indulge us so much. Xoxo. 🙂

  41. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a great story of courage. It takes a special determination to “just do it ” against all the odds. I think back at that same time in my life and remember all of my ideas of big change that seemed so alluring but I was too shy to try very hard. Life moves on and wonderful things happen, but I think often of those ideas and wonder what would have happened if I had just had courage to face change easier. Your story of the move to Martha’s Vineyard is the confirmation of how courage to follow what you needed at that time was a decision which payed off in Spades! Happy Anniversary!

  42. Carol on the farm in Iowa says:


  43. Lynn Cooper says:

    You were brave to pull up stakes and move so far away from your family to try something new. Guess the seasons were well worth it since you never left. My guess is that Joe was the glue that helped hold you here.

  44. Barbara E. Ingallinera says:

    Happy Anniversary to you. It’s a wonderful thing this has happened, you wrote
    books you meet Joe. You can visit all over the United States and make all of us
    happy. We are happier for knowing all the wonderful things you have sent to us.
    Barbara I.

  45. Jeanne Hedin says:

    I love the poem “Good Ground” by Carol Lynn Pearson. I was reminded of it today when I read your sweet post:

    “I have seen love,
    fallen on unbroken ground,
    blow with the first wind.

    I have seen love, laid in a shallow row,
    unearthed with the lightest rain.

    But pain is a plow
    that opens earth for planting.

    My heart is ready now.
    Hurt-furrowed, it has depths designed for sowing.

    Oh, love that lands here
    Finds good ground for growing”

  46. Jane says:

    Once again, Susan, I did my daily peek at your blog and grabbed my latte the minute I saw it to slowly enjoy your story. You inspire and brighten my every day and are so generous to share your simple, sweet stories. Your prayer will go in my journal today to save forever. I love you and just know that we will be friends in heaven.

  47. Kathleen C. says:

    Please hurry writing that book with your story about your move from CA. I am old!!

    • sbranch says:

      Me too! 🙂 Gotta do it before the memory disappears forever!

      • Diane from Poulsbo says:


      • Rhonda D. says:

        Susan, I agree with Kathleen…you can’t even begin to imagine how much inspiration will lay in the pages of that book. There’s a whole awesome story there…creative, inspiring, life changing for all of us. (Maybe after we go to Scotland. Do you ever get tired of us “whining.”)

        • sbranch says:

          You don’t whine 🙂

          • Cynthia says:

            I agree with Kathleen too. Would love to read the before story. Born, raised, & living in the Chicago area, I live a NewEnglanders life vicariously through your blogs Susan. As much as I adore my home state, I always felt deep in my soul I’m a coastal gal at heart. Just feel a tug to that’s were I should be. Happy Anniversary for having the courage to follow your heart.

  48. Robin Ann Barron says:

    I love your blog, so beautiful and cheerful every day! A bright spot in a really nasty February!

    Anyway, I have a “significant birthday” this year and am downsizing to a home for me, puppy and kitty. Do you mind my asking the size of your sweet little house? I’m looking for something maybe around 1000 sq ft, but your sweet house looks perhaps smaller. I’ve seen a few houses that I like that are between 650 and 800, and just don’t know if I’d like that.
    Thanks in advance!

    • sbranch says:

      When I bought it, it was 600 square feet on the main floor — there was a basement downstairs, and an unfinished attic upstairs too. But no garage.

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        Sue, did you ever go in the basement? Or was it like your current basement – dark and kinda scary?? Just wonderin’

        • sbranch says:

          I didn’t go before I bought it. But the washer/dryer was down there, so I had to get used to it. I’ve only been in our basement here maybe five times … and I might be exaggerating that a bit.

  49. Mary Mazzeo says:

    How inspired I am!! Reminds me of what my Dad used to say….. “Wherever you are, you are there”. We used to say- “Oh Daddy. Really!!” Took a while but I finally got it.

  50. Julia says:

    I’m always behind the other girlfriends for some reason but
    I’d like to talk about the kitties and the girlfriend who is skeptical.
    If you don’t have things on the countertops – like flowers or food-
    they are not usually interested. Also, if you don’t like the night
    roaming you can do like I do. I have Pinkie Lee and Pearlie Mae –
    Pearlie Mae I inherited when my mother passed away. Anyway,
    at night I entice them into the master bath with wet food and
    they have beds, water and food in there. They don’t like to
    snuggle in bed. They only like to aggravate me all night long.
    2 girls must be the worst combination. They spat like two old
    ladies but tolerate each other. Also, if you make lots of noise
    when they go someplace they shouldn’t, they will stop it. Lots
    of shouting, clapping and such will stop them because cats
    don’t like uncouth people. Good luck. Well worth it. Hope
    this helps.

  51. Judy says:

    Today it is snowing in the Dallas area, so I am witnessing a scene a bit like yours. In fact, the snow prompted me to check your blog. I love the photo of your little house. And I had to zoom in to get a photo of your blue wellies- so cute. I think your life story is one that reminds us that sometimes the bad experiences in our lives push us to the places we are meant to be, so that we can also give direction to others. It is your true gift to the world.
    Last week I found a darling piece of yellow fabric with black and yellow bees on it. I bought 1 1/2 yards and a couple of packages of black binding because I remembered the cute free apron pattern on your site. I made a really precious apron and sent it to my sister who collects bee items. I can’t wait for her to receive it and send me a photo. Thank you for the pattern!

  52. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Happy Anniversary to you. How brave you were then, but bravery wasn’t what brought you to New England, a dream of a new beginning perhaps? It was all meant to be because your sweet Joe was there waiting for you (he just didn’t know it yet). And now look at you in your big beautiful house of creativity 🙂
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend, more snow coming in; another weekend of coziness!!

  53. Angie B from Kentucky says:

    Happy Anniversary to you and your bravery! This is my first time posting, but I had to let you know how much I appreciate this blog and all of your work. I adore A Fine Romance and it has become one of my most cherished books on my bookshelf! Thank you for sharing with us your work, your kitties, and your delight in life.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for taking the time to tell me. xo

    • Bobbie P says:

      Hi Angie from Kentucky!
      I’m Bobbie P from Kentucky. As I was ready the comments saw your name and state. So nice to know a kindred spirit near by. Where in Ky. and do you have a FB account. Would love to chat with you.

  54. Teresa G., Lafayette, CA. says:

    You really are “The Queen of Cozy!” Loved the post ~ Happy Anniversary! This reminded me of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Glad you made that move so long ago.

  55. Pat Mofjeld of St. Paul, MN says:

    Are you going to tell us the story of how you ended up with 3 kitties? 🙂

  56. Jennifer says:

    Happy Anniversary. I’m so glad you are who you are and where you are!
    Just stay put! 🙂

  57. Susan says:

    Happy Anniversary to you, Susan! “You only regret the risks you did not take.” (Anis Nin). You were brave enough to take the risk and found your purpose in life (and Joe)!

    Finished watching the DVDs of Downton Abbey last night. Have to say I liked the ending unlike last year.. Wish they filmed more than 9 episodes!!:-)

    Stay warm!

    Susan (now in Alabama where the governor declared a State of Emergency for a bit of snow and ice)

  58. Jack says:

    Reflecting on this potential story …..I’m thinking that in writing it you should include some detail of the well to do , financially comfortable , lifestyle , you left behind …. Especially coming from a family of eight children , where sometimes we had to borrow $5.00 from Grandma to make ends meet . And that you had visited Martha’s Vineyard on a previous occasion , while still in your marriage , so that’s
    how you knew the island existed .
    This illustrates the intensity of your action to leave and provides a more complete picture as to how you decided to choose this island place …..

  59. Jo Ann Pollick says:


    Love that phrase from a previous post “A frame around our memories”.
    That is what you do so well. Thanks for all you share with us. Do you ever feel you have no secrets left?!! Hope not.

  60. Anne in Maine says:

    Happy Anniversary Susan! Thank goodness for your happy accident. It’s funny how sometimes those are the very things that set us on our path. I suspect really not accidents at all.

  61. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Happy 32nd Anniversary on your arrival to Martha’s Vineyard!!! May you be blessed with many, many more wonderful year’s to come on the island!!! (Gee, you actually gave “birth” to the fantastic future you’re now living as you traveled the ferry! Little did you know!)

  62. Nora Egan says:

    What a wonderful adventure; very “Under the Tuscan Sun” of you. (I would’ve pulled the cord on that bus, too!). Anyway, happy anniversary to you and that little house that helped make you SUSAN BRANCH, wife of Joe, mother of Jack and Girl Kitty. We love you, Susan.

  63. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Dear Susan and friends,
    I once read in a wonderful book that life is made up of chapters and that we are constantly turning the pages. A new chapter can begin at any time. I am so happy I was made aware of this metaphor. I was recently widowed and I am trying so so hard to start my next chapter. Susan, it’s meant a lot to me to have you share so many. Your life has many wonderful chapters. One of them is entitled, “Chapter A Fine Romance”. What a blessedly happy time.
    Love, Carol Tra la

    Enjoy listening to the entire suite of music from Downton Abbey:

  64. Gail Buss says:

    Dear Susan, I remember the first time I read your story about leaving CA and moving to MV that I thought you were incredibly brave and strong to take such a big step. It was amazing to me. Somehow you were moved to do this and it was quite an adventure I’m sure. It’s not like you just moved to Massachusettes but to a small island that you could only get to by boat! Also, you didn’t know a single person there. I guess I could see how you could do it for 3 months as you planned, but God had other plans for you. I am so happy that is all worked out and became a wonderful love story. You and Joe were meant to be. Thanks again for all the work you put into your cookbooks. Looking forward to the “Pancakes” cookbook one day. Happy Anniversary on your moving day. Hugs, Gail

  65. Happy Anniversary, Susan!!! Your “3 month stay” on Martha’s Vineyard sounds very similar to how I happened upon working at my job, almost 32 years ago! May 17th will be 32 years for me! I was working at a gym teaching aerobics classes (while attending college to get my BA in fine art). I had been there since the fall of 1981…it was May 17th and I showed up to work, on payday no less, to find a “We’ve gone out of business” sign on the locked doors! Well, my dad’s business (that he started in 1970) was right down the road back then. I went straight there. My mom was working for him at the time. I showed up in tears, told her what had happened and she said I could work there until I found another job. She knew what she was doing! Two weeks went by and I had been working full time being trained in every aspect of “my moms job”. Low and behold, she decided she didn’t want to work any longer! LOL…so here I have been ever since. I have to say though, I have loved every minute of working for my dad. If I didn’t work for him I wouldn’t see him that often, because he loves his work and is at it 15 hours a day! I work in the office by myself, and because of that I was able to bring both my boys (now 24 and 9 yrs old) to work with me from the time they were newborn babies, and up until they started school. I was, and still am, able to take off to go on school fieldtrips, or be with them when they are ill. I never wanted the average 9 to 5 desk job, as I am a creative soul by nature and wanted to spend my days earning a living in a creative field…commercial/graphic art, design, writing/illustrating children’s books, or any number of other creative endeavors. As the years have gone by though, I have come to realize it is exactly as it should have been. I can make art anytime I want and probably enjoy it more than if I had to work under deadlines. I enjoy my job, because I have always had a knack for numbers too, and I enjoy working for my dad. I am now in the process of writing and illustrating my first children’s book with my 9 year old who love’s books, art and writing as much as I do. My 24 year old is also an avid reader/writer/artist, and will be graduating from college with a degree in Philosophy this year. I believe with all my heart and soul that “accidentally” coming to work for my dad all those years ago has given me more opportunity to be the mom I needed to be to my boys, and in turn they are the people they are because I was able to be a “full time” mom, while working a full time job outside the home. I have had the best of both worlds and am so very grateful for that. Again, Happy Anniversary, Susan! Thank you for helping me to remember how I got here. Your posts mean so much to so many people! It is a good feeling to be able to recognize how blessed we are!

  66. Jamie on Doty Island says:

    Happy Anniversary Susan…..and yes God works in mysterious ways and works all things for the good 🙂

  67. Ashley says:

    Hi Susan – Thank you for sharing your story 🙂 I am in a transitional period in my life much like you were when you came to Martha’s…I often think about how if you got through it and thrived, then so can I.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes you can Ashley, and in fact, now I know that you get to come out the other side as more of a person than you went in. Sending love . . .

  68. patti says:

    This brings my to faith. Faith in my future. It always seems so scary going into the unknown. I know there is a reason for everything and all is right w/the master plan. Timing seems to be what it is all about. I’m just not very patient with the time thing. Love you, Susan. Happy Anniversary to you and Joe. <3

  69. Susan, my dear, if I may ask three questions:
    What made you choose Martha’s Vineyard?
    Is your original little cottage still standing, and how much land came with it in your original purchase?

  70. Joy B says:

    What a wonderful celebration now, looking back on your brave move and then how things fell into place! A day to remember.

  71. Amy says:

    Happy Wedding Anniversary as well, Susan!

  72. Sarah Powell says:

    Tears of JOY in my eyes, a lump of “Don’t Go” in my throat. And, prayers for continued happiness coming your way, dear friend. Life is Good.
    xoxox Sarah

    • sbranch says:

      Yeah, I remember that “don’t go” and then me, I have to. It’s very strange. But look how we turned out Sarah! We lived to tell our stories! 🙂 xoxo

  73. Paula Cutchey says:

    Happiness is Everywhere! Right now it is in the oven. I am making your orange lavender polenta cake as it is freezing cold out today in Temple Texas!
    Happy Anniversary!

  74. Happy Happy, Susan! That little house is just charming. So many reasons to move, so many dreams to develop — how wonderful.

  75. Pigeon's MOm says:

    bravery…! well done!

  76. Mary says:

    I love your story, Susan!! I don’t blame you for falling in love with MV. We visited for the first time last summer and are planning a return trip. I could totally live there. Everywhere you look it’s a beautiful view. Thank you for sharing your brave story and your point of view and your art and everything! Love it! Happy Anniversary!

  77. Joan says:

    Thank goodness you made that little mistake with the date. You made feel much better about myself. I do things like that every once in a while and I think I’m losing it! Funny thing is I could have done the same exact thing when I was forty and not have given it a second thought. When I read it I thought how did I miss February?
    I hope you celebrate your Anniversary on the ferry at the exact time you landed 32 years ago only this time you have your wonderful Joe at your side and so many wonderful memories to share and 32 more years to make more! God bless you for making us all realize that it’s the everyday little things that matter most.

  78. Bobbie P says:

    Happy Anniversary!!! How brave you were to follow God’s nudge. How beautifully it worked out and what a lovely book, maybe your next one? Sure hope so!!!
    I adore your little house!!! Do you still own it? If not, is it near you at this time and do you go by occasionally?
    A few years ago, we moved back to our home town, where my husband and I met and married. Our first apartment in a sweet old house, we live in for 2 years, were in college and brought our first little daughter home to. We drive by and I can still see us on the upstairs front porch. Sweet memories!!!! I know you have them too.
    Oh! I’m loving my 2014 calendar. It’s hanging in the kitchen on my board and look at it everyday, more than once. Thanks!!
    Oh! I almost forgot to tell you, we celebrate our 43rd Anniversary, Feb. 12. With a daughter, son, grandson and son-in-law. How blessed and grateful!!

  79. salve says:

    Love to see your ‘home sweet home’ (again) in your ‘brave little simple world’ back then! Happy Anniversary!

  80. Deb says:

    God brought you to us by way of New England, so I have to add the “Happy” to your “Anniversary to me” post!!!! xoxo Deb

  81. Eileen Engel says:

    I have been reading your blog for many years and cannot wait for each new entry. I can never say how how much you have made my day so much brighter. I have read your new book once and am now reading it a second time! Did you ever think of publishing a book of all the entries you have made in your blog? It would be so wonderful to have all the entries, pictures, and artwork all in one book. Please give it a thought. I am sure all your readers would enjoy having all those beautiful thoughts pictures and artwork to look back on daily. By the way, our 25 year old cat I wrote to you in a previous entry is doing great! Hope to have him around for many more years.

  82. I believe “place” has more of an impact on our lives than even people! Listening to that inner voice that tells you to “go” or “stay” or “this house” “not that house” is all part of whether or not one’s destiny is fulfilled. Course corrections can always be made, though. It’s not too late….only too little.

  83. Kerrie Foley says:

    Loved your post Susan…I got divorced in 1990 and while I was struggling to be a single mama with 3 children I always had a place in my heart where I would keep my magical dreams. Well once my children were grown and on their own I had no one left to take care of but myself. I tried and tried to find anything to think about besides my own dreams but I think the universe has a way of wiggling into your dreams anyway and so I was quite surprised when things started to happen and I found myself in the middle of an opportunity to have exactly what I had been wishing for. I now have a beautiful home and studio in a magical old house in Wickford, RI built in 1794. I have the whole second floor and look out on the water and the main streets where all the little shops are, and the park where the village does all it’s celebrating. It is everything I ever wished for. On my desk in the studio is my little card that reads “someday I will have my little house by the sea.” I wrote that many years ago never ever thinking that could be a possibility. I’m so happy that your life turned out the way it did and that you are who you are. I have been a great fan of yours for so many years now. Every year I love you more and more. Keep sharing your wonderful stories and artwork . It brings me and so many others such enjoyment. Happy anniversary and thank you so very much for just being you. xoxo Kerrie

  84. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Happy Anniversary Sue to you and MV! A perfect match! And, the love of your life, right there….who knew! Love the picture of you and your cottage! We were in Healdsburg CA at the Camellia Inn (wonderful Victorian inn!) on Wed., and I had my AFR. Innkeeper Lucy said she knows about you, she has one of your cookbooks!!! Of course, I had to leaf through the book & show her how wonderful it is!!! Perhaps now, she’ll want to have more than one book!!! There was an I-Pad (?) in our room, but I couldn’t figure out how to use it 🙁 , had to wait a whole day to check in with all you GFs! xoxo

  85. Donna C says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Did you name your little cottage Holly Oak or was the sign there when you bought it? I’ve always wanted to name my home and after reading ‘A Fine Romance’….I discovered that I live in a Chocolate Box ! My home is small and cute and brown ! So I made a cute little wooden oval sign to hang over the front door. It’s the color of milk chocolate with black letters…..CHOCOLATE BOX ! You are an inspiration and kindred spirit.xo

  86. Tawni urrutia says:

    Mike and I married almost 26 years ago, at the ripe and wise ages of 20/23! We moved into this old, 800 sq ft white house tucked into a cherry orchard. Across the street our neighbors were walnut trees in a vast orchard. The cherries in the Spring put on such a show, the walnuts in the Fall with there leaves a blaze with every shade of yellow.
    She had no insulation, or air conditioning, and her only heat source was the side heater from the glorious Wedgewood stove. On a few early morning occasions there was a thin sheet of ice in the toilet. But that little house just oozed love and charm and warmth and kindness. A true Honeymoon Cottage if there ever was one. That’s the home I began my life as a wife, and then a mother. And on my coffe table, or in my kitchen, or many times my night stand? Heart Of the Home, Vineyard Seasons, and Christmas from the Heart of the Home!
    Happy anniversary Sweet Sue! You’ve been an encouraging, and inspiring part of my entire adult life! So many of us have reaped so much joy due to your courage to say YES to your dreams.
    Tawni Urrutia in Lodi, Ca

  87. Petra Matthew says:

    How about writing your memoires for next book? We would all love that!

    groetjes, Petra from Holland

  88. Sharon from AB Canada says:

    So thankful for your “accident”. You have, and continue to, bless and encourage so many people. Happy Anniversary!!!!

  89. Carolyn says:

    Happy Anniversary!! I love your rustic little house surrounded by trees. I’m so happy that the dreams of the young girl pictured in the photo have come true!!

  90. Gypsy says:

    I bet those 32 years seem like just yesterday sometimes don’t they? Time goes by so quickly… doesn’t it? That is why we share what we love to those around us like happy magic. Like you do so graciously and lovely! Thanks! Hugs!

  91. Jerry in Missouri says:

    Just what I needed to read! Funny how we are taken, by what seems a random whim, to the places where the very inspiration we are needing is found! I happen to believe wholeheartedly that nothing happens “randomly”, but all a part of our life plan–even the little stuff. Thank you for being my inspiration today!! (and as you have been each and every time I have come to your blog) and I pray you live happily ever after!

  92. Nina From England says:

    O Susan What a wonderful post! So inspiring to those girlfriends that would love to take that one BIG step! I admire you so much it must have been so scary that first step off the boat….One small step for mankind-One giant step for Susan! Was your first little house on the island in Vineyard Haven? It looks quite remote was it? Ooo I could ask you a 101 questions about that little house it looks sooo cute! Do you still see it now?
    Back when you were starting your new life I was kinda starting one myself as a young girl having open heart surgery. I grabbed my new life with both hands and have held on tight ever since!
    By the way Have you had your Feb edition of the English country living? Cute little back page interview with Emma Bridgewater.xxxx

  93. Carol C says:

    Funny–on Feb. 4 we celebrated our 40th year of living in this house. We had not been married long and were not really ready to buy a house, especially since we planned to live in Knoxville only a couple of years. But I drove past this house one day and fell in love (Jim, not so much!). It was old and in need of much work but I just loved everything about it and still do. Can’t think of anyone I’d trade with. Most folks now want spa baths rather than one just big enough to do what needs to be done in there, they don’t want small (cozy) rooms, etc. The floors sag a little, the stairs creak a little, the doors stick a little and the house just hugs you. Home , Sweet, Home!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds perfect.

      • Ricki says:

        Carol, I loved reading about your house. My husband found this house 40 years ago…I thought it way to expensive (40,000) but we moved in it and had many happy years. Bathrooms are not “modern” , kitchen is large with teapots and china cups and Susie’s books. I’m told to sell it since he is no longer with me but just couldn’t.He died four years ago. Now my 22 yr old grandson, Jon, said he wants to buy it from me and build me a new room downstairs and keep it for all the family. That is true love. I think I’ll let him.

  94. Lori Metschan says:

    I love your website, products, books….everything! 🙂 It’s like having a wonderful friend that I just haven’t met in person yet. Thank you Susan!! xoxo…:)

  95. joan s says:

    Loved your anniversary story. Did you ever tell how to chose MV as your destination? A most blessed choice!

  96. Louise says:


    Just saw your entry today, Happy Anniversary..It’s a special day for me also, My husband Tom and I were married 42 years ago on the 5th of Feb. It was cold, snowy and icy in Chicago that day.. And my first son was born on the 5th of Feb also, so it’s a great day… My best to Joe also.

  97. Pamela Lusk says:

    Brave soul; if it weren’t for my parents and my daughter, I would venture out and do the same. Thank you for sharing.

  98. Knowing you now, (as we girlfriends do) as the warm, spirited, self assured Susan Branch of today, it’s painful to think of you as you must have been, “broken” as you said, searching to find a new meaning and direction to your life. Absolute desperation would be the only thing strong enough to have wrenched you away from everything and everyone you had known in your life, to embark on such a journey into the unknown

    The book you will write will be such a testament to following your own heart to find your own true self. As one of the “girlfriends”, I thank you for sharing your journey with us all. We are so much richer for all you do.

    Please let me share a little verse I wrote for one of my cards–
    “In life, we pass through many gates, –In time, dream many dreams. Embrace your life with open heart,–And give your future wings.”

  99. Sheryl says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’m always relating to you in some way. Today I am thinking of when I moved 34 years ago from Ohio to California, after a sad divorce, with two young daughters. I put in a job transfer, sold my home, packed everything I could into a little U-haul and off we went. It was the best thing I could have ever done.

    Now, I think after you write the book of your move to Martha’s Vineyard, it will become a heart warming movie….good idea? You haven’t done this yet. Hugs, Sheryl from Chico

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