A Giant P.S.

All the stuff I forgot to tell you in WILLARD! Consider this a giant P.S. Here’s one of the songs we had at Joe’s party . . . MUSICA!ComeSitStayComfy?  Okay, well, I thought I’d show you a few more photos of the party itself . . . starting with the man of the moment . . .


Our good boy (in dreams I walk with him) received a special cup from Rachel and Paul for his birthday.  And btw, we really couldn’t have done his birthday party without our darling English people  . . .🌟


Here’s Paul putting up the lights, while the music is playing . . . gotta have twinkle lights at a garden party!


We had a nice little breeze that blew the tablecloths off as fast as Rachel, Diana and Elaine (and me too) put them on!


It was the perfect chance to use all the vintage tablecloths I’ve collected from flea markets over the years!


But wind or no wind, it all worked out, and everyone came!


balloonsRay and Paul started off the entertainment portion of Joe’s Happy Birthday Toasts with the perfect rendition of a little-known song called, ‘Philological Waltz’ (by Flanders and Swann, click there for the youtube version, it starts at 1 minute in) ~ Now Joe and I are trying to figure out what WE should sing for Ray’s birthday in October while we’re in England! Any ideas?


Next up in our talented neighborhood, my girlfriends sang Martha’s newly-written words balloonsto When I’m Sixty-Four . . . And Elaine (who came out from California) fixed it so they had the music playing over the speakers  while they sang to Joe . . .

🎶🎵 “. . . Sue will still need you ~ you will still feed Sue, way past sixty four! 🎶🎵


Looking at me and saying, aren’t we so funny and adorable! Yes, you are! 👏 That’s Martha upSingingBird front, you can barely see Barbara behind her, then Peggy, Elizabeth, Siobhan, and Elizabeth’s sister, Robin.

🎵 🎶 “Every summer you can have party in your big back yard, it will be pot luck . . .” 🎶


An appreciative audience . . . including Gerry (married to Martha), on the left . . . he’s a doctor ~ and at one time he was a ship doctor, so he wore his old uniform and gave a fantastic speech in honor of our soon-to-be ocean voyage and Joe’s Birthday, of course.Birthdayyes

Which everyone loved!


Making everyone cry!

naked cake

balloonsRachel and I call this the “the naked cake” photo . . .  it’s coconut with lemon cake and lemon filling. Rachel, who’s a baker at home where she lives in England, decorated it so beautifully … she scattered it with loads of tiny purple and orange flowers from the garden and it looked so pretty, but we ate it up before we remembered to take a picture of it! There were Happy Birthday candles on top which Joe blew out so his wishes will all come true. It will all have to go into the memory book. 💛IMG_2575The party lasted long into the cool of the evening, Frank singing Come Fly With Me right up to the evening stars 🎶 . . . a lovely celebration for a guy named Joe.🎈

June 2010 141And now it’s over, we waved a tearful goodbye to the ferry until everyone was so very tiny . . . our guests have all gone home, the beds are made up, the kitchen is quiet, and the house is back as it always was, except now with a new glow of party DNA that I’m sure will last for all eternity, magical house of dreams . . . I toasted up some of that delicious canned Boston brown bread this morning and had it with my tea, all buttery and crisp-edged . . . little thingsflowers

IMG_6175It’s cool today, a tinge of fall is setting in, I even have a little shawl over my shoulders this morning, the boat whistle just blew out in the harbor . . . the long shadows of the changing season are beginning to appear . . .

IMG_2505One of my favorite things, the light through the trees, dappling my stove, the walls, across my kitchen floor . . .tea cup

IMG_2639The vases are filled . . . my soul is braced . . .VonArnimQuote


Jack is getting all the attention he requires . . . here he is throwing himself into whatever Joe is doing . . . love me, pet me, aren’t I the cutest thing . . .?

B  E  L  O  V  E  D


Yesterday I worked on the cover for the 2018 wall-calendar (believe it or not! This is why I never know what year it is!), then I meandered through our old neighborhood into town to pick up the mail . . . past the picket fences and the roses, under the trees, taking my own sweet time,Home sweet home


with all the singing cicadas serenading, loving the Island, loving our home, our friends, feeling so blessed . . . we can already tell that folks are packing up, going home, leaving us . . . it’s getting very quiet around here.little thingsMarch2010 214

This is Tuesday . . . Willard starts going out at 9 am my time this morning . . . and it will be going for the next three days, twice a day, until they’ve all been delivered. Did you know that there are almost 56,000 souls who have signed up now, sisters, moms, grandmas, BFF’s, Girlfriends, all receiving Willard?  It’s hard to imagine, but I love our kindred spirits. In this crazy world, we need each other.💞 Because

normalYes, we are! Never doubt it for a moment. There are many more people just like us than not. We are the builders, the sharers, the ones who try hard to make it a wonderful world, who see the good in things, we should be proud and never give up. 💕 My dad would agree. So that means we are right. Thank you Girls. xoYouHaveToBelieveWeAreMagic

starry night What else? (Losing my mind a bit, but oh well, what else is new?)  Oh yes, Thursday night, August 25th, I’ll be giving a little talk for the Library in Aquinnah ~ in case you’ll be on the Island, it’s at 5 pm at the Old Town Hall . . . I’ll sign anything you like, new books, old books . . . 💗 Bring it all.


BeatrixAnd my friend Betsy Bray wanted me to remind you that she is taking a tour of “not-too-many” (but of course, all kindred spirits) through the Lake District next June, 2017. Go HERE for more info, and read about Betsy too … she was elected the first-ever American Trustee for the Beatrix Potter Society in 2012. Her tour would be perfect for anyone not wild about driving on the wrong side of the road, not to mention the fact that Betsy is a Beatrix Potter expert . . . knows all the backroads and little stories about the Lake District and going with her would be a real treat . . . in case Hill Top and the Lake District is on your bucket list . . . you would have a whole year to prepare!You can't have everything quote; susan branch art


We, on the other hand, have only a couple more weeks to prepare for our adventure on the Queen Mary 2.  I’m already gathering clothes to pack. Trying not to take too much. Living with my new watchword, “layers” ~ topping it all off “with something wind proof, and rain proof!” 💦We know where we’re going. Boots, tall rainy grass, hills and dales.  And another notch in the belt of our dreams come true.🌟rainy dayIMG_1170

So reaching for all the summer I can get . . . here is my breakfast this morning . . . blueberries we picked on the side of the road on our walk yesterday . . . over Cream of Rice (which I will love forever, not growing out of it!)Sweet MorningsAnd for you . . . ideas for delicious and

EasyFruitDessertsGrab all the summer you can . . . Pack your bags and 🎵 come with me, to the sea, to the sea, the sea of love . . .packing

Love you! Have a wonderful day.💝 Don’t forget: “Layers.” ❌⭕️❌⭕️❌pink-flowers

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513 Responses to A Giant P.S.

  1. Karen Costa says:

    Hi Susan,
    A friend of mine and I are on the Vineyard, visiting from California, and plan to come to your talk on Thurs. … will you have copies of your book Isle of Dreams for sale there, or should we get them at one of the book stores here?

    • sbranch says:

      Alright! I won’t be alone! We won’t have books with us, but you can get your book at Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven and bring it and I’ll be happy to sign it there for you. See you tomorrow!

  2. My soul delights in your words, quotes, pictures and music. God Bless You!

  3. Eileen F says:

    Hi Susan,
    Can’t wait for Willard to arrive. Just a thought, now with all the new technology, for some of us anyway. Have you thought about just taking a photo with your phone? No notes to jot down, just take a look at your pictures. That calls for too much organization for me. It seems I end up throwing things into the suitcase with either not enough tops or lacking enough bottoms.

    Have a great trip!

    • sbranch says:

      One time I took 2 shoes that had no mates. This was a long time ago, and I was in a hurry, but this was the thing that got me into a different kind of packing! 😜

  4. Kelly B. says:

    What a magical party for Joe, love of your life on the Isle of Dreams!

    • sbranch says:

      Celebration of so much, mainly being home, together, alive, and telling our friends how much we’ve enjoyed sharing the planet with them. Can’t say that enough.

  5. Fan in California says:

    Layers are the answer!!! Thanks for another wonderful post; looking forward to your English posts since, at least for this year, I will have to live vicariously!!!

  6. Robin on the Vineyard says:

    Susan, the party looks like it was fabulous! Joe deserves nothing less…….. I’m always amazed and appreciative of the loving time and effort you put into these gorgeous blogs………. on to Willard! Can’t wait to read it!

    • sbranch says:

      Well, as my dad used to say, if you’re going to do it . . . do it! xoxo

      • Jan from Northern CA says:

        I think your Dad made you a “go get-her” type of girl.
        My Dad is the same. If it’s to be, it’s up to me…….so as your Dad said……”do It!” And with your books and your art and calendars and blog…..you sure do! We are blessed to be your girlfriends, and you inspire us to be positive and happy! Thank you so much for that!! I smile every time I read a new post in your blog! 🙂
        Wish we were going on the crossing with you. Still sigh when I read about you and Joe going, and knowing my daughter and I were probably were on the same ship until we decided to wait another year. Just too much going on for the planning. But, I hope to squeeze in the suitcase with the girlfriends and take the trip with you day by day. Have a great time!
        Jan from Northern CA

        • sbranch says:

          I blame my dad too. 😉 thank you Jan. The good thing about you not going this year is that your trip will last so much longer, all this year to prepare!

  7. Jody says:

    It looks like lots of good, charming people enjoyed coming together for the Man- of-the-Day’s party! Lovely! Have so much fun as you prepare for your next journey to The Island across The Pond. Blessings!

  8. Ruth Winkler says:

    Thank you Susan. I enjoyed this post so much, felt like I was there. Everything perfect. Hope the breeze quieted down a bit. I think using your old quilts was such a good idea as party table toppers. Can’t wait to try out the recipe for the lemons too.
    Have a safe, happy trip you two. And I look forward to seeing lots of photos of your new adventure.

  9. Deanne Ross says:

    Are congrats in order to you both?

  10. Nicoline Bostens says:

    Dear Susan,
    Happy happy birthday for last week, for Joe! It looks like you had a wonderful time, lots of singing:)
    And soon you will be having your next adventure, sailing across the ocean to good old Britain!
    I am so looking forard to the Stourhead pic-nic….! Can you tell me please, what time will it be? And besides our basket of food, what else should we bring?
    Will it be on the grounds somewhere? How will we find you on the large grounds…??
    Counting the days now, getting excited!
    With lots of love

    • sbranch says:

      Planning to meet at noon near the grass bridge, which you can see from where you enter. I’ll be sure to make us all visible. You should bring something to sit on! And probably layers! There’s a 13th century church right there, so close, that’s open, and if it rains, we’ll have our picnic there. Me too, counting the days!!! Cross your fingers for a gorgeous fall day!

      • Nicoline Bostens says:

        Thank you! We will bring quilts to sit on, or (praying it won’t be necessary) to wrap ourselves in…haha, and yess, layers to wear!
        Do you have any idea how many are expected? Will I need a nametag?
        BTW, In case you need something to eat…..the day before, there’s a SCONE FEST at Stourbridge! !!
        What Fun!!

        • sbranch says:

          I have NO idea who all is coming!!! Maybe it will be just us, and Rachel and Siobhan! A name tag is always a good thing, then everyone knows who you are. Love it! I think name tags should be a law wherever we go!

  11. Jo says:

    Keep these “cards and letters” coming. Looking forward especially to “our” trip and the billet doux that en”sue”.

  12. Oh boy Susan, you are spoiling us, first with a lovely Williard and then this fabulous PS. What a lovely party Joe had! Thank you so much for sharing the festivities with us! I enjoyed every minute of them! (Music too!) I know what you mean about autumn already being in the air. I’ve been feeling it for a week or so now . . . the darker nights and later sunrises, there is a special feel in the air, the cooler nights and mornings. (No complaints from this post menopausal woman!) You want to hang onto every single moment of it because you know that winter will soon be upon us but first Autumn! My very favourite time of the year with its smells and colours and textures! Did I mention I LOVE LOVE autumn? ☺ I do! I am still hoping I will be able to make it to your venue here in the UK. Do be prepared for lots of wet up in Scotland, but also lots of beautiful scenery. We are watching a brilliant show at the moment on the BBC called “Highlands, Scotlands Wild Heart,” narrated by Ewen MacGregor and its just fabulous. I think you would like it too, because you love nature like I do. Scotland is on our bucket list for next year. We have everything crossed!! Enjoy the rest of your summer! Love and hugs from a kindred spirit girlfriend across the pond. xoxo

  13. Carol Murin says:

    Please take time in Edinburgh to have delicious shortbread at Pinnes and Poppyseeds on St Mary’s Street. Jennifer Hunter is from California and studied in Scotland and opened her own shop.You will be so impressed!!
    Have a great trip!!

  14. Catie says:

    What a wonderful post about a wonderful party!! You made my day! Enjoy your upcoming journey at sea and beyond…and keep us with you on your travels! Thanks, Susan… xo Catie

  15. Joan Kotvas says:

    What a year for you and Joe. I could feel the love of all your guests thru the beautiful photos. You captured the feel of the whole day. For a few moments I was there. And felt the calmness and peace of the next day after all the festivities. Thanks for sharing. Since meeting you and Jie at holly Hedge your blog seems more personal. I can hear your voice as I read. Have a wonderful safe trip. 2016 will be a year to remember for you and Joe and thank you for taking us along. ❤️Joan

  16. Renee says:

    I love your taste in music. Can you share the playlist used at Joe’s birthday party? Keep your writing coming! It is enjoyed by many!!

  17. Jennifer says:

    Loved your post as always Susan! I read it while waiting for a doctors appointment. Thank-you for saving me from reading Golf Digest ;( I had to laugh when I read about you getting ready to pack for your upcoming trip. We will be leaving for China and Japan while you are in England. The weight restrictions for luggage in China is 44 pounds! I am in such a tizzy because I ready have 20 pounds just in accessories and personal care items! What I will endure to see the Great Wall and later Kyoto. Hope I have room for your book when I buy it in China. It will display next to the English version in my guest bedroom. Have a wonderful time in England. I just got back from the BP celebration in the Lake District and it was magical!

    • sbranch says:

      Whew, Golf Digest, you are welcome! You sound like you’re off for wonderful adventures with your one dress, one pair of pants, 3 tops and one sweater! Tell me how it goes!

  18. Jacki G. says:

    A very fun and delightful post, as always. Happy belated birthday to Joe! One question, why do you have a dish of butter on the windowsill? I just HAD to ask.

  19. winnie Nielsen says:

    What a fabulous birthday party was enjoyed by all!! That cake looked so beautiful and I know it was delicious too. Joe must have been so pleased to have such a wonderful celebration with so many dear friends too. He is just the best!!

    We leave for England on September 12 for 3 weeks on a tour and it looks like our agenda is not compatible with where you will be. Phooey!! It will be my first time there and so I am preparing by re-reading A Fine Romance and taking a few notes to try and squeeze in some of the places you mentioned. I don’t own any Wellies, but maybe I should? You know better than I about what is absolutely necessary. Is September a rainy month and is it warmish or cool? We are flying so my luggage has to be in one suitcase. Yes, I am planning lots of layers and mix and match basics. We will also rent a car for two days for a trip to Cornwall and I am counting on Joe’s notes from your book of what to do driving on the left side of the road!! Yikes!!

    • sbranch says:

      You can get Wellies there, they have them in every color and pattern! You’ll need boots for walking, rain boots, because likely it will rain, but maybe not! We’ve never been in the fall, only the spring. You are going to love it, skinny roads and all. Just be sure, when you come out onto the road, to ALWAYS say out loud, LEFT SIDE, LEFT SIDE. Stay Left!

      • winnie Nielsen says:

        Thanks for the tips Susan!! Good to know about the driving piece as that has us most concerned. Reading A Fine Romance has me all inspired and I can’t wait to see those green fields, skinny roads, and little tea cafes!

    • Rachel Lucas says:

      Winnie…just to help you – it depends where you are going to be (South is usually always warmer and drier than North & Scotland) but I can – after almost 50 years living here – say that the UK is usually beautiful in September and that the weather is often warmer and more settled than it is in July & August. SO be prepared for wet (always!) but it really shouldn’t get too cold for you. Layers!! Have a wonderful trip x

  20. Laurie A says:

    I made the peaches and cream not long ago, inspired by your Summer book. Yum! Such a fun looking party! Thank you for the packing tips. We are planning our first trip across the pond next year!

  21. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Love your Giant P.S.! Fun seeing joyful Joe’s delightful party, thank you for inviting us! And Joe, you get to continue celebrating this 64th year with a crossing and a wonderful tour……this will be a very good year! Good packing plan Sue, important to have a “pair” of shoes, for all that walking!!! xoxo

  22. Linda Metcalf says:

    Oh the excitement of getting ready for a trip over yonder! Still hoping I can make it one more time. The party was wonderful…so happy for Joe!

  23. Mary Ann McCann says:

    Lovely blog, as usual,and lovely birthday party. Enjoy your wonderful travels! I can’t wait to read all about your next adventure!

  24. Dee Fox says:

    I just love your blog each and every time. But this time I think I found the pinpoint: We Are blessed. It’s a wonderful message to give and receive. Invariably life presents difficulties, but they don’t negate the blessings, just hide them. And when we say “we are blessed” the difficulties no longer usurp.

    Thanks for everything, but especially that!

    • sbranch says:

      I think that’s exactly right. When we are busy counting our blessings, the negativity has a difficult time getting in!

      • Jan from Northern CA says:

        Yes, PMA……. a “Positive Mental Attitude”
        But, it’s about choices…….we “choose” to be happy and
        and count our blessings! Why would anyone choose to be sad when happy is soooo much better! And as you said, the difficulties no longer usurp. Thanks Dee 🙂

  25. PaulaJ says:

    You make so many people smile when you share your life and heart on this BLOG~and in your books, Susan!

    Your pictures showed us that Joe was shown how much he is loved and appreciated and it looked like there were many reasons to laugh and rejoice at his party. I think it is great that friends sang, but knowing you, music would definitely be a part of the party~love that you love and incorporate music into your (and our) life! 🙂

    Happy packing!

    What is the date of the Stourhead picnic?

    I am excited about a new Willard. We girlfriends never tire of reading whatever you write and delighting in your photos which capture the joy of little things, beauty, nature, and “the ordinary arts we practice every day at home.”

    Bon Voyage!

  26. Cyndee from Kalamazoo says:

    Found your blog through a few back doors from a weaving blog I read. I am an girlfriend from your Country Living days. I was so glad to find you again. Ordered and read your books and signed up for Willard. I can’t wait to go to England with you…I missed the first trip, but I’m caught up now.
    I was waiting for my Willard and found your P. S. instead. My song for you and Joe to sing at Rachel’s birthday is Tonight,You Belong to Me. There are several duets on YouTube but my favorite is the Father/Daughter one. Its like a mini vaudeville act.
    This song has everything … water, moonlight, and your heart…

  27. Caroline says:

    Oh! Now I understand! I have to be patient for my Willard delivery:)

    I wait in the greatest of hope!… I am technologically challenged. I admire how easily and wholeheartedly you use technology to unite and connect this gorgeous galaxy of like minded souls! You inspired me to put pictures in my own journals and my future self thanks you:)

    Joe’s party looked wonderful and will warm everyone’s heart for ….ever. Blessings on your upcoming trip!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s wholehearted, definitely, but there is always something new to learn, which in a way drives me crazy. I wish I just KNEW it and didn’t need to search it all out. But that doesn’t seem to be the way it works! Thank you Caroline !

  28. Karen Seward says:

    Happy Birthday Joe!!!

  29. Patty says:

    In 2 weeks we are taking the train from Chicago to Seattle then on to Alaska on an 8 day cruise. I am looking forward to the time in our train car with my snacks, books, crocheting and tea – as per your inspiration. Now I am busy making lists and getting ready to pack my rain gear and layers, the same as you will need in England!

    • sbranch says:

      What a fantastic trip Patty! Bon Voyage . . . I loved the views between Chicago and Seattle . . . just a wonderful train ride.

  30. Janet Conn says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful and inspiring post. I always tell my 13-year old daughter that I ABSOLUTELY believe there is more good in the world than bad and it is up to us to keep that balance. Your thoughts, books, blog, etc. are a large part of the good in the world.

    Wishing you and Joe safe and happy travels to England!

    Thanks for everything.

  31. LISA VANCOR says:

    Susan, where did you find your canned Brown Bread? I am from Vermont but have
    Lived in Northern California since 1946 and Have not seen that delicious bread. Maybe the Vermont Store?

    Loved the birthday party.

  32. How delightful to find your PS post. Like dessert, I read it first, as I’m still anticipating Willard … any time soon.

    What a party, What a summer, what fun new things to look forward to … it’s all beautiful and I’m so grateful you share it with us, Susan!

    Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places…
    Bren xox

    • sbranch says:

      Whole new day of Willard ~ still going out, two more mailings, one this morning, and one this afternoon. Happy you’re here Brenda!

  33. Cindy says:

    Just noticed in Willard that our dads were born on the VERY SAME DAY, SAME YEAR. I said goodbye to mine many years ago, but am so glad that you had the opportunity to enjoy yours for such a long time. …. 🙂

  34. Lauren Andersen says:

    Such a beautiful, fun party!!!!! Love all the details and your friends. Looks like such a fun and happy bunch. I love how you really choose to live such a joyful life despite hardships and sorrow. Wishing you a very happy week! 💕🌼🌷☀️🌿

    • sbranch says:

      We feel very blessed. Right now I’m alone in my “wood room” — what my girlfriend Lowely would call “the snug.” A little den off the kitchen, windows are all open, it’s dark, and the crickets are going, I have a cup of tea, Joe and Siobhan are upstairs asleep in their little beds, and really, that’s about as good as it gets in this wild world of ours. Happy week to you too Lauren! 💐🍹🌻🌾

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Is Siobhan sailing back to England with you and Joe? That would be fun. We’re having a heat wave here in Toronto. The only hint of fall is in my imagination but reading your blog and Willard have really helped. We are drinking “Honey Crisp Apple Cider” to stay cool. Found some nice Pear Cider, too as our L.C.B.O. only stocks Magner’s Pear Cider at Christmas. Safe travels, my friends. Hugs.

  35. debra sewell says:

    A wonderful birthday under the stars, food, singing, laughter and sharing. We are so lucky to live in our beautiful country. Thank you for birthday photos and music. I joyfully look forward to your new adventure on the high seas ahead!! Pack light, good shoes, warm socks and great tea and coffee

  36. Susan (Grayslake, IL) says:

    Thank you for the wonderful story and pictures of Joe’s birthday party. I just know he truly felt the love. Bon voyage on your trip to England in a few weeks … can’t wait for your stories, drawings, and photos. 😎

  37. Deb Antram says:


    Just finished “Isle of Dreams” and it’s probably my favorite book of yours next to “A Fine Romance”. The one thing I was looking for was a photo of Myron and Ellie. Did I miss it? If you didn’t include it, I’m sure it was for a reason. Would of liked to have seen their sweet faces. Also, when reading “Isle of Dreams” my cat came by and batted the ribbon bookmark a few times. And you thought it was just a bookmark. Kitty entertainment is always nearby. Gotta love our little fur pals.

    Have a wonderful trip and thanks for offering to take us along for the ride!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, because sadly, I don’t have photos! I those days it was all film, and if a photo didn’t turn out perfectly, I just threw it away. Thank goodness some survived … I had ONE picture of me in front of the house just after I bought it (used for the cover), and only two of Carlton, I used both… but none of me working in the gourmet food store . . . and so few of all the cooking that went on in that kitchen. I tell my nieces to take pictures of everything and never let them go. You just never know!

  38. charissa says:

    Dear Susan Branch, New York Times Bestselling Author;),

    Your timing seems to be impeccable in my life. Two days of prep for a procedure at the hospital today and your blog and Willard arrived on Tuesday morning. Everything turned out great and I just wanted to thank you. You and the Gfs were a welcome distraction. I feel so very lucky to have found you so many years ago and for you to still bring me that cozy comfort all these years later is such a wonderful feeling. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

    I tried really hard to think of a song for you and the only things I came up with were Tiny Bubbles (in case there is Champagne and probably the easiest to sing), Pink Shoelaces, or Purple People Eater, and The Good Ship Lollipop (Because she bakes brownies and you could probably modify the words) So happy for Joe’s party and to see all the lovely serenades and speakers and Darling Joe standing in appreciation and honor. A true Gentleman.

    I love all the pictures of your house and the cozy way you do things and I loved to see you in the mirror taking the picture. Cute. Cannot wait for the link to the ladies Brewster Library. I was so so happy to hear they taped it:))))

    THANK YOU for Willard. It was a triumph! I always feel like they are little mini books and the blog posts are minier mini books (like that cute mini Peter Rabbit book you have on the website. Darling!) It is such a labor of love and I just can’t thank you enough. You never fail to inspire me.

    I thought you would be interested in this… dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3757025/Lady-Mary-opened-Downton-public-admits-creator-Julian-Fellowes-reveals-happened-next.html” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3757025/Lady-Mary-opened-Downton-public-admits-creator-Julian-Fellowes-reveals-happened-next.html Maybe a Downton movie out of the horses mouth:)

    GIRLFRIENDS!!! DON”T FORGET TO REVIEW ALL SUSAN’S BOOKS ON AMAZON AS A SIGN OF APPRECIATION FOR HER BLOG AND WILLARD AND ALL THE FREE STUFF SHE GIVES US 🙂 The Heart of the Home 30th Anniversary Ed. will be released in Sept and will need reviews too. You don’t have to have bought them there to leave a review. You can also review on Goodreads and other major retailers. Pin things on Pinterest too. All of this helps Susan so she can continue to do all these things for us and best of all it’s free and you get to say something nice;)

    • sbranch says:

      Anything Downton makes me happy . . .thank you for that link Charissa.♥️ You are a doll to do that sweet promotion! It really does all help so much . . . Thank you, as always! Love the song ideas! You’re the best!

      • Charissa says:

        Thank you so much for the link to your talk. OHMYGOODNESS I LOVED it. You stole the show with your warmth and graciousness and charm. I had a tear, it was so lovely. And so well done too. I am going to look at their other videos as well… culture… on the internet… for free. I LOVE IT! I am already a BP Society member so I won’t count for a number, but it reminded me to renew:) I hope a lot of people signed up at the meeting. xoxoxoxo

  39. Ann says:

    As always, another wonderful blog…I’ve reread this one three times, and love the line about Joe, “in dreams I walk with him” from that beautiful Roy Orbison song….this really touched my heart…

  40. Pat C. says:

    You always take simple things, Susan, and turn them into little treats for your readers. I think everyone who reads your blog has a smile on their faces for you inspire us with little happy things. Thank you so much.

  41. Patty in Redlands says:

    Hi Susan,
    Bet you’ve wondered where I’ve been. So has my husband. That was me off in a cozy chair reading your wonderful Willard, following all of the links, going back to look at the pictures again, clicking over to write on your blog but first I had to reread that. Anyway, you get the idea. I feel cooler here in Southern California reading about the autumn hints you have in the air and thinking about fall in England and Scotland. My thanks again for sharing so much and inspiring too. I’ve felt since my first Heart of the Home (just ordered the new) that you were my Fairy Godmother whispering how to appreciate life and make home as inviting as possible. Belated good birthday wishes to Joe and safe travels! 💕💕

    • sbranch says:

      I was afraid maybe I went too far, length-wise, with this last Willard. That was one HUNK of newsletter! Love to my Goddaughter xoxo

  42. Gina Mahoney says:

    Hi Susan. Whenever I read anything you post I have a smile on my face. Because of you I have wanted to come see Martha’s Vineyard for quite awhile, and now I am so excited as I finally get to come to Martha’s Vineyard the end of September! We will be staying in Vineyard Haven and one of the many things I am looking forward to is going to Bunch of Grapes. I am hoping to buy your books there. I bought the first Heart of Home way back when it first came out because of the apples on the cover, my kitchen was decorated with apples (still kind of is), but fell in love with the whole book and everything you have done since. I will be purchasing the new one for sure. Happy Belated Birthday to Joe, and safe travels to England. Look forward to reading all about it.

    • sbranch says:

      I hope you have a wonderful time Gina, I know you will . . . it’s the perfect time to come to the Island. So far, I’ve signed all the books I sent over to Bunch of Grapes ~ so unless there is some sort of run on them, you should be able to get a signed copy when you’re here! I’m excited for you seeing this place for the first time! Enjoy!

  43. Janet says:

    Hi Susan!

    How about singing “The Whiffenpoof Song” to your friends in October? You know, “We’re poor little sheep who have lost their ways, Baa-baa-baa…! Sheep and lambs always make me think of you!

  44. Christine from CA says:

    YOU DELIGHT MY SOUL!! Just received my Willard, love all of your work and upbeat attitude toward life. Thanks so much ! We recently returned from 4 weeks in England , mostly in the south. Have a wonderful time, we did!

  45. toni baumgard says:

    What wonderful way to start a Thursday morning. Thank you for your post, I felt included in your wonderful party and your preparations for your trip. I am starting this day with a smile on my face! toni b

  46. That birthday cake sounds delicious!!! I like lemon and coconut.
    I am still settling in here and this would be my first birthday back home to see our beautiful Autumn, as New England’s. My newest girlfriend, who spends her Summers here in Door County, is originally from CT, and she said it reminds her of where she grew up. As things go I won’t be here, but hitting the road again in September to head East to see friends and make it down to see Arnie’s new ship at Fleet Week in Baltimore. If any of you would like to see some Navy ships, they will be in Baltimore near the Aquarium in mid October.
    Have a good and safe trip Susan. England, Wales, and Scotland are on my bucket list. I could have went this Spring to Wales, but then I couldn’t have visited family in the South or see you in St. Charles. Priorities!
    Have a great rest of your day!

  47. Jann says:

    Hi Susan,

    Last week it was so hot in Richmond, Virginia, with “feels like” temperatures at 105 and up. Your gazpacho recipe has been staring back at me all month from your calendar, and I finally made it. I found it in your revised “Heart of the Home” as well. Wonderful: the flavorful tomato juice was our favorite part, perfectly balanced.
    After a gazillion years of trying new recipes, my husband and I have a short list in the “we can stop looking for a better recipe” category, which is where your gazpacho belongs.
    It was so hot outside, we ate it for supper with French bread and butter four nights in a row.

    • sbranch says:

      I have to say I agree with you. I’m a big fan of Gazpacho, but so far (and I’m still willing to look) I’ve never had a better one! SO happy you like it too!

  48. Patty in Michigan says:

    Looked like a wonderful party. So much love for Joe!!! Well deserved!! Love to you both and kitties too!!

  49. Barb U from Ohio says:

    Hi Susan, finally found time to leave message here. I got your Willard yesterday and read it fast on my kindle, but there was just too much good stuff, so I came back today to re-read on computer so I can listen to the Musica, click on things you put in it, really take my time and enjoy, no, savor Willard and re-read this PS in the blog. Love, Love, Love Willard this time especially, lots of good things here, pictures, Joe’s party, which looked like a wonderful evening, your trip out west on the train for the family reunion in memory of your Dad, talking about your upcoming trip to England and Scotland and the assurance you’re bringing us along, what fun it will be! Telling about the 30th anniversary of your first cookbook reprinting reminded me I need to buy the new one, I have an original and love it! Thanks for bringing us up to speed with what you’ve been doing, tho most of us know because we’ve been following along on the blog and twitter. It was a wonderful compilation of events this year in your life which has been so full of good and great things for you, some very sad too, but as you said, unexpected things happen in life no matter how much planning we’ve done. We deal with them, because mostly, life is very good, if we’re fortunate enough to have prevailed through the rough patches with sheer will, Gods blessing and loving, caring people around us.
    The fall cicadas are singing here in Ohio too now; we had the 17 year cicadas back in May and June. They were loud and constant during the day, and they left they’re mark on some of our trees before they burrowed back into the ground. But I love the ones singing now, because I know fall is coming.
    A few leaves here and there I’ve noticed have turned. It’s been very hot all summer, hot today, upper 80’s and I can’t wait for cooler crisp fall days and good sleeping nights. Would love to try that Beer-Butt Chicken on the grill and dig out your Autumn book for more fall-ish recipes for the cooler evenings. Keep us posted on things, you know we love to read your blog and keep up with whats going on. I have to say that it’s very refreshing, I’m sure you’ve been told, but it’s so refreshing to come on here and leave feeling so good about life and people, because of the way you inspire with your thoughts and the uplifting comments from the girlfriends, kindred spirits! There’s too much negativity in the world we read, hear and see every day, especially lately, and we all need a break from that! I always know I’ll feel uplifted when I read your blog, or one of your books, all good stuff. So, hope you have a wonderful weekend, kiss the kitties and Joe, start packing(leave a little room in corner of suitcase for us) and enjoy these last days of summer. OXOXOX

  50. judi. says:

    Oh, I just watched almost an hour of YOU at the Beatrix Potter “b” party on Book TV! Loved it! Wiggly feet and all💕💕💕. Willard wonderful and this p.s. Super duper.

    Just saw you were going to be at a signing tonight and wanted to remind you … There is a special on PBS tonight at 9:30 eastern … “I Miss Downton Abbey”! Yikes, I hope you recorded it. Watching the tropics I 99…stay away!

    • sbranch says:

      OHHHH, 9:30! I thought it was at 7! Was all primed. Well, I missed it and will have to go back and see when they’ll show it next!

      • Charissa says:

        Oh no I said 7 central, which is when it was on here in Tx. I know the problem… You think we are neighbors and forget about time zones:) Ha. So sweet. I wish;) You can watch it again on friday or sunday evening. It’s long because it has their telethon asking for donations interspersed. If you tape it you can fast forward. But it was a great recap of things with Tom hosting and a lot of new behind the scenes interviews. I don’t want you to miss it 😉 Sorry for the confusion.

  51. Kathy says:

    I will be wandering the UK from October 2nd through October 10th (then London for a few days)! Any events in the UK while you are there? Or will we just run into each other ogling Emma Bridgewater items?

    • sbranch says:

      Probably! The only event we have planned is for September 18 in Stourhead in Wiltshire. In October we’ll be wandering too! Have fun Kathy!

  52. Caroline says:

    I didn’t get my Willard:(
    Maybe I registered too late? In Nov, you were able to send me a link…. I don’t think I have the patience to wait until it is archived! I think I’m missing beautiful party pictures, much needed inspiration, and the chance to “Branch” out to be a pen pal with a girlfriend across the pond:) Wishing you all a beautiful day!

  53. Michele Gavaletz says:

    Oh Susan – I am soooo happy. I suggested to my son that he go to Martha’s Vineyard with his girlfriend when they came out to visit us from California and he did it. Not only did he do it but he asked her to marry him right there on Martha’s Vineyard on the beach! A stranger took a picture of the two of them and told my son he never heard anything so romantic! And they had breakfast at the Black Dog and he brought me back a mug that is my favorite color pink! They loved the island and went everywhere you suggested in Isle of Dreams and can’t wait to visit again. They will try to make the anniversary of their engagement every year. She was born and raised in California but he was raised in New York and she had never been to the East Coast before. Like you she fell in love with it. They are not moving here but it will get them to visit more often. Thanks for your influence even though you didn’t know you gave it! Yippee a wedding!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL! Yippee, a wedding!!!! I’ve often said, it’s dangerous on this island, you are sure to lose your heart!

  54. Sally DeLiberato says:

    Hope u are going to Prince Charles home (Highgrove) outside of Tetbury. It is really worth the tour. It’s still open when you are there.

    • sbranch says:

      We were lucky enough to go there a few years ago. It’s the place that made me think that EVERY house should have a gift shop!

  55. Rae Ann R. says:

    I’m sure you and Joe are still basking in the sparkling light of his fabulous birthday party…what fun for all…thanks for sharing the planning, decorating, and carrying out the party…mmmmm good~I haven’t thought of that delicious canned brown bread in years…It use to be available in grocery stores here in Michigan…do you find it in your local groceries?
    I have seen it in the Vermont Country Store catalog…I will definitely call and order some~thanks for reminding me how delicious it is! Safe travels and Bon Voyage🛳❤️🎉

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, we have it in our local market! Look near the baked beans. Thank you, I’m loving hearing all the Bon Voyages! Getting real!

  56. barbara lassiter says:

    Just received my first copy of “Willard” and wondering why I waited so long. 🙂 Love this post and looking forward to your upcoming trip. We toured the Highlands in Scotland a few years back and we had sunshine everyday…with a little rain at night, sometimes. I wish the same for you. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people and I’ve always wanted to go back. I will be following your trip with much anticipation. Happy Birthday to Joe and best wishes for a safe and wonderful journey!

    • sbranch says:

      We’ll take it no matter how it comes, but I’m hoping you get your wish Barbara! Thank you so much!

  57. Delores Berg says:

    Dear Susan,
    I just read ‘my’Willard, and thought about what I have enjoyed in the British Isles, and thought I would pass along the information.
    Near Edinburgh is Sir Walter Scott’s home, Abbottsford. It is well worth a visit! We took my folks as my Mom is a big fan of his, and we were all very impressed!
    Lots and lots of marvelous places to visit, as you know, but the Isle of Skye is a personal favorite! And great sweater etc. shopping!
    You brighten my life in Sweden as an expat from Oregon, and I thank you for all of your writing and marvelous artwork!
    Have a most memorable holiday, and I look forward to reading all about it!

  58. Janine in LB, CA says:

    Hi Susan, One day can you please draw the outline of your house with a compass rose? Because my brain is all turned around. I thought the sun rose through your kitchen and dining room windows, but appears from these pictures and others, that the sun rises over your kitchen table and through the window where you put your Christmas tree! So now I’m thinking your house is on the opposite side of the street from how my brain always pictures it! Details, details…

    Have you watched The Ghost & Mrs. Muir 1945 or so black and white movie? Love the house (sadly was just a shell, built in Palos Verdes, CA) and the shadow play. Love how you can hear the sheep bleating on the hills in the outdoor scenes. What drives me crazy is their floor plan – it is impossible. You can’t match the stair and bedroom scenes to the outside of the house when watching closely! : ) Unless the bedroom was an octogon. That might work.

    Loved the post, thanks.

    • sbranch says:

      The sun rises through our kitchen and dining windows, you are right. The kitchen table is under those windows where the sun is rising. It SETS through the window where I put the Christmas tree. Does that give you the picture?

      Yes of course, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir is adorable. Another old movie with the most heavenly shadow play is Suspicion!! With Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The shadows in that one are almost like another character in the movie!

  59. Jane S. in PA says:

    So enjoyed this blog and the Willard. Just ordered the new calendars too. Yaay. Saw how one of the girlfriends repurposes your blotter calendar. I do too. They’re so beautiful. I cut them up (finally allowing myself to do that!) and glue pieces into my daily journal pages after first slathering the pages with paint. It adds so much to the journal & writing. You’ve added so much joy & beauty to my life in my ‘old age’. Lol. Looking forward to your/our trip. xo

    • sbranch says:

      Good for you Jane! I think it’s a great way to recycle and “keep” them around, in a different venue!

  60. Lee says:

    A happy week! A post AND a Willard. Love hearing about your lovely life. Thank you for your stories and mostly for your generous heart. Your writings spread contentment.

  61. Crystal says:

    Dear Sue,
    I just read about your father’s passing and want to send you a hug of love and condolence. I have been out of touch and behind on what is happening. We celebrated our 40 th Wedding Anniversary in Dubrovnik, Croatia with our immediate family, celebrated a baby shower in Kansas City, Kansas, the birth of our first grandchild in San Francisco, a beautiful little girl who came 2 months early but is doing very well

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Crystal. I see why you’ve been out of touch! How lovely, so many delightful celebrations, and all over the world! XOXO

  62. Deb from Dixie says:

    Hi Susan…..
    Wonderful photos of Joes Happy Birthday celebration! What Fun!
    Can not wait to slip into my traveling “outfit”, and join the other girlfriends in our official
    “road trip suitcase”.
    Have you seen this? If one of the other girlfriends has already written about it, just call me redundant!
    I saw something very exciting, as I was Googling to find a friend a Mary Engelbreit book.
    So here is what I did…….( on my phone and iPad to make sure I was seeing correctly..LOL)
    -Google Mary Engelbreit
    -Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where it says’ “People also searched for……”
    -And there you find Black and White photos in a row, of very famous authors, and you , Susan Branch in the number #1 spot next to:
    L. Frank Brown – The Wizard of Oz
    Lucy Maud Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables
    France’s Hodgson Burnett – Secret Garden
    Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
    J. M. Barrie- Peter Pan

    And if you click on the photo of each author, a little bio. and photos of all there books comes up.

    Just wanted you to know, because it is pretty wonderful…thrilling…..and Cool! You always say how the books in your studio are filling your studio with good mojo…..can you imagine how being next to the magic of this group of authors… On Google…. Reached by people all over the planet brings… That is some Super Mojo!!!!! Yeah!

    • sbranch says:

      I never want to take that screen down! Super mojo is right! LOL, thank you Deb, that was wonderful. I wish I could sit in a circle with them all and just visit for a while!

  63. Sharon in So. Calif. says:

    Dearest Susan, Thank you so much for all the pre-party pictures, loved your antique tablecloths, pink stripe tents, and the pretty twinkly lights, so festive! I can only imagine how yummy that cake was! Loved seeing all of the happy faces of all your nearest & dearest too. Also a big THANK YOU for the long newsy Willard, it made my day. I have to go back now and read it again to make sure I didn’t miss anything-lol. I also just loved watching your video from the BP Society on her Birthday. It was wonderful, the pictures too gorgeous for words, she was an amazing person (as you are too). I cried with you at the end ♥. Now looking forward to your next adventure across the pond, can’t wait for all the pictures! Wish I could be there, but I will be in my heart ♥. I’m still trying to find the perfect song for Rachel, I will post as soon as I can. Happy almost weekend to you & Joe. Glad you now get to enjoy the gentle, quiet days on the island. I only have one question (for now, lol), how is Girl? As always Love & Kisses from me to you xoxo ♥

    • Sharon in So. Calif. says:

      Just wondering why my comment has been awaiting moderation for 2 days??

      • sbranch says:

        Because I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to “moderate” them, but here I come! Sorry!

    • sbranch says:

      Ohhh, the hard question. I haven’t wanted to talk about it, because I know she is loved, not just by me. But Girl was very sick throughout Joe’s party. Our sweet vet stopped in here to help her and medicate her, but we realized when all the hullaballoo was over, that it was “time.” And so we did the right thing, the hard thing, and sent Girl to heaven. What a sweet trusting doll she was for us. She’s been gone a little over a week now, and we’re all trying to get used to it. Jack had a few questions, but he seems to be acclimating, and I think he loves being the center of attention. Thank you for asking Sharon. xoxoxo

      • Sharon in So. Calif. says:

        Oh my dear Susan, I am so very sorry. For some strange reason I had been thinking of Girl for a few days and the thought would not leave. Now I feel bad for asking. But as you said, it was her time. I lost my little Ben-g last July. They will forever be in our hearts and never forgotten. I also have another kitty and she seemed to adjust fairly quickly, I don’t think she was to fond of her brother, lol. Thank you so much for your replies as I know how very busy you must be. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with you, Joe and Jack♥♥♥ xoxoxo

        • sbranch says:

          It’s okay, don’t worry Sharon, I had to break it to everyone and was trying to think of how to do it. I was sure someone would ask soon. Poor little Girl, she did not feel good! She is better where she is, and we will just muddle on. I’m glad it happened now and not after we were gone.

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            oh Susan, I am so sorry to hear you lost Girl Kitty, my deepest sympathies from all of us here, Tabby, Midnight, Miss Kitty, Tabitha and Furby. I think I would just die if I lost one of them, well actually I did when we lost Inky, broke our hearts, but at least we had Tabby and Midnight then, and since have adopted 3 girls to keep those guys in line. love and cuddles to Jack and extra purrs from our furry babies. hugs…. 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            God’s gift to humans. Light of our lives. Lucky lucky us.

          • Christie says:

            So sorry Susan and Joe. Sending extra love. xoxox

          • sbranch says:

            Well, this year has been a year of understanding more about the preciousness of life, and the never-ending preciousness of love. I’ve been layered with it, and now I am more, and less, than I was before.

      • Charissa says:

        Oh, Susan. I am so very very sorry. I know how loved Girl Kitty was and I know she knew it too. You gave her a wonderful life. It is always so hard to make that decision, but I know you did the right thing and I am comforted for you that it happened before you left. You are right, that is a small blessing. I know you know the Rainbow Bridge poem because I sent it to so many here on the blog, but I do believe that it is true and I know that you do too… that we shall see our sweet friends again. Of course that doesn’t make it any easier and coming on the heels of your dad’s passing must make it extra hard. I just want to make it better, but knowing that I can’t… I send my thoughts and hugs instead to you, Joe and Jack. xoxoxo

        • sbranch says:

          As always with loss, keeping busy is a huge help, and that we are. It’s all still sinking in to me, really I imagine that will go on forever. But the half of me that is sad, is tempered perfectly with the half of me that knows total joy. Sunrise here now, standing at the screen door looking over the garden in the quiet, listening to the birds, and all I can possibly feel is grateful.

        • Gail M. says:

          I know there are no perfect words, but please know how very sorry I am to hear that Girl Kitty has moved on to heaven. I know she will be in your heart forever and always and that you have many joyful memories to recall with her. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Joe and Jack.😻❤️😿

      • mari1017 says:

        ♥♥♥ I’ve been so busy with my mom that I just now am catching up with your Twitter feed and blog. May I leave some words of comfort that a friend sent to me after I lost my last kitty to a terrible brief illness~
        “…Grieve not,
        Nor speak of me with tears,
        But laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you there…
        I loved you so ~ twas heaven here with you.” ♥♥♥
        (Ilsa Paschal Richardson, To Those I Love)
        We were all blessed for you sharing her with us!
        )))Hugs((( xoxo to you & Joe & Jack ♥♥♥

      • Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

        So sorry to hear of sweet Girl’s passing on to The Rainbow Bridge. What a sweetheart she was. This is never an easy task but one we do with profound and unconditional love. Hugs to you, Joe and Jack. Jack, if he is like my Louie, will love being King of the roost. Oh the stories we could tell from these furbabies.

        Bon voyage. I’m packed and ready.

      • Susan Morgon ( Ohio gal from SoCal ) says:

        Oh, Susan, bless your heart! What a hard thing to do; I have had the heartbreak of having to do the same with some of my loved kitties. They fill our lives with love , don’t they? Their memories always bring a smile. Hugs!

      • Shannon(Pennsylvania) says:

        Oh, Susan, I just saw a mention of this on my Twitter feed. We were in Maine last week and I didn’t check the blog. When we bring our fur children into our lives we always know that they will take a chunk of our heart with them when they leave, but it is so totally worth it. The most wonderful thing is eventually, every single time, that missing chunk is filled with love and sweet memories. Your Girl was so fortunate to have you and Joe, and she loved you as much as you loved her.Hugs❤️

  64. Eileen says:

    OMG… looking at your picture of Gerry giving his speech reminds me of how much I had a crush (and still do) on Captain Stubing on the TV show The Love Boat. Too funny. Happy Birthday Joe!

  65. Gayle Hall says:

    Oh Susan, once again you fill my heart with happiness and pure joy. By now you should have received my small package and hopefully you were happy with it’s contents. I hope to soon be hitting the roads toward the Museum in the NORTHWOODS. So while you are touring, writing, photographing, and painting in one part of the world I will be doing the same in mine. I wish your days be filled with more excitement. Be safe and you and Joe, fill every moment together with Happiness. With so much love Gayle

  66. Tina Mandeville says:

    What an awesome P.S.! A wonderful party for a wonderful man! And more great adventures ahead…thanks for always taking us along and sprinking your stardust and magic into our every day! xo

  67. Mamey says:

    FABULOUS Willard and the follow-up! Looks like the party was a blast! So happy for you both. I am SSOOOOO looking forward to the cooler weather and the fall food. (I’m getting sick of grilling.) How exciting to be prepping for your upcoming trip! Can’t wait to be an armchair traveler through you Susan!! Thank you so much for this WONDERFUL blog and sharing your life with us. I always feel sooo much better after having read your Willard’s and/or Blog.

  68. Robyn Genau says:

    Dear Susan,
    Just wanted to tell you about my latest find. I went to the library on Tuesday and while walking thru the lobby spied a book in a donation bin. And what do you think? It was The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin sitting right on top. I was so excited and of course I grabbed him right up. So happy. My first Beatrix Potter book of my own. Sometimes things just show up to be with the one they were meant for.

  69. Donna C says:

    Maybe you already answered this question for someone and I haven’t discovered it yet, but, was Joe’s birthday party a dinner also and if so what did you serve? Maybe it was cake and drinks/tea only but I’m curious. Can’t wait to travel with you in a couple weeks. Have a wonderful and safe trip.

    • sbranch says:

      It was dinner, yes, and we made everything from wild salmon, to steak, and ribs, and chicken . . . but everyone else brought the really good stuff: every kind of salad: green, vegetable, grain, fruit, bean, and potato, so it was heavenly. And birthday cake for dessert!

      • Donna C says:

        Sounds wonderful. I love parties like that when everyone brings something to share. Thank you for taking the time to answer my curiosity because I know you must be SUPER busy getting ready for THE journey across the pond.

  70. Nancy Townsend says:

    Love and agree with all the wonderful comments above! Happy Birthday Joe:) For my 65th birthday my daughter took me to England for 10 days. I too fell in love with England. I think you could go back 20 times and never see everything. There is a wonderful store you might enjoy there called Cath Kidston. We went to the one in Bath. You might even come home with a teacup! I have wondered if she was inspired by Laura Ashley. Have a wonderful trip and we anxiously await hearing of your adventures.

    • sbranch says:

      I think you’re right about never seeing it all, there is just so much. I also agree about Cath Kidston being inspired by Laura Ashley, but in a way, who who know her isn’t! xoxo

  71. charissa says:

    ALL DOWNTOWN ABBEY LOVERS… Something Called “I Miss Downtown Abbey” Sunday at 7 pm central on PBS. I don’t know what it is, but I thought you would want to know:)

  72. Bev Brewer says:

    Happy Birth-Month to Joe! Was so wonderful to see you both in Prescott, AZ at the prettiest tea party ever—like stepping in to a beautiful dream or painting where everything was perfect and no detail was overlooked, not one. I will always remember such a lovely time thanks to Mary Heiland and all those who helped her. Of course, you, Susan and Joe, were the glitterati of guests, the cherries on top for all of us! Birthday hugs to the Man of the Decade (and beyond) and never stop celebrating your precious life! Lots of love to you both from Bev

    • sbranch says:

      Always wonderful to hear from you too, Bev! XOXO

    • Mary Heiland says:

      Thank you for your very kind words Bev ♥ I knew all about you from Jo’s English Rose Tea Room and your posts on this blog … but had NO idea your daughter was bringing you to Susan’s Tea & Book Signing in Prescott. Your name was not on my list … so you can imagine my surprise when you introduced yourself! I was SO happy you could be there and am still basking in the beauty of the day. You’re right … Susan & Joe were the glitterati … the cherries on top … and I was just the vehicle to make it all happen. I must say I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have been able to host a Susan Branch Tea Party 🙂 Keep in touch ♥ #bucketlistdream #bestteapartyever #serendipity

      • sbranch says:

        #BestPartyEver! Wonderful, and love it that you two met! Kindred spirits if I’ve ever seen them!

  73. charlotte m. says:

    I finally figured out what it is about your writing, Susan, that I love so much. The things you say, your turn of phrase is just like Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote in the Anne of Green Gables series. I bought the whole series for my Kindle for an incredible low price, about $13. I have been reading it over the course of the summer and loving it. I never read it as a young girl. She talks about Anne living in a little house of dreams after she marries and refers to kindred spirits as being “of the race of Joseph”. Have you ever ready these stories? Even after reading all summer I am only half way through them. Keep writing, dear Susan, and I will keep reading and enjoying your words. Oh, and Joe’s party was just lovely. You did a wonderful job with all the details.

    • sbranch says:

      What a nice compliment Charlotte! Very sweet of you. I did read Anne of Green Gables when I was a child, but not the others in the series. Perhaps I should do that! Thank you!

      • Christie says:

        LM Montgomery does have writing magic akin to yours ~ I don’t just read your books, you and LMM somehow make it possible to travel into the story and sit at the kitchen table and walk the country roads. PEI becomes a place you don’t want to leave, just as I didn’t want to leave MV. Jane of Lantern Hill (single book) and her series: Story Girl & Golden Road; Pat of Silver Bush & Mistress Pat; and the Emily trilogy, are all wonderful. Happy reading, Sue.

        • sbranch says:

          Well, thank you both! There is almost no one I would rather “sound like” than LM Montgomery!!! I’ve gotten to know her a bit better through my quote books. Thank you for the suggestions Christie!

  74. Barbara Anne says:

    What a great party! A belated Happy Birthday to Joe!

    Thank you for all the lovely drawings, quotations, and recipes, too. It’s a delight to visit here every single time.

    In case you two will be in this neighborhood during your UK trip …


  75. Patti Fitzgerald, Skippack, PA says:

    Oh, Susan, more reasons for us to be Kindred Spirits . . . . my birthday is the same day as your beloved Daddy’s . . . . . August 5th! (I’m a bit younger, though – – 58!) For my birthday, my two daughters gifted me with your Martha’s Vineyard book, so now my trilogy is complete, as is my happiness as I settle down to read and enjoy more of your lovely words and glorious illustrations! You bring such joy and light and hope and inspiration into my life, Susan – – – thank you from the bottom of my heart for just being YOU, and sharing yourself with others!

  76. Angela Bell says:

    Dear Susan,
    My Mother-in-law and I will be sneaking ourselves onto the ship with you and Joe. I can’t wait to go, I really enjoyed our last voyage together. I was wondering if Ray would share one of her brownie recipes with us so we can actually eat some of her brownies when we have our lovely picnic together.
    Joe’s birthday party looked absolutely delightful! I love that you share your joy with us.
    Susan, I was so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing, you have my deepest sympathy. May his love and light live on forever.

  77. Peg in Seattle says:

    Susan, I love being transported by your drawings and written thoughts! They make me feel all is well with the world after all. As long as we have beautiful souls like yours in our world we will help each other get there. I wonder if you have thought of making a book mark of “A Red Letter Day”? I live in a senior apartment building and we exchange birthday cards – I like to include some little thing to make them smile. I would love to have a copy of the wonderful thoughts in “A Red Letter Day” from your recent Willard, to be able to print out on card stock and slip into an envelope.
    Have a wonderful trip in an enchanted land, Great Britain.
    Sending virtual Hugs and Thanks!
    P.S. I made the trip to England on the QE 2 several decades ago and found I didn’t need any seasick meds. Good luck!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not wild about seasick meds either, but I do get a little queasy sometimes, ~ those acupressure bracelets work great for me, so far at least, fingers crossed! I’ll see what I can do about that Red Letter Day!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        slip a few of those seasickness bracelets into the trunk for us. we may need them too!!!

  78. Susan Bochman says:

    Oh, Susan, I am having a hard time trying to get a picnic basket in my suitcase. May have to give up and just bring my husband and myself. I realized when I saw you in Asheville that I would be in England during that time….so my wonderful husband is bringing me to see you again….seeing you twice in one year…life is good.

    • sbranch says:

      Shopping bags will work JUST fine! Happy to hear you are coming!!! It’s going to be something special I think.

      • Susan Bochman says:

        I can’t wait. We stayed in that area four years ago and loved it. (I am still going to try to get some kind of basket in my suitcase.)

        • sbranch says:

          You are making me think of how to get a basket into my luggage!!! 😃 Joe will just love that . . .! He’s always said, “bring everything” but I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean baskets!

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

    good morning everyone, hello . just got done hanging the laundry, I think I may be rolling up the clothesline and putting it away pretty soon, our weather is definitely cooling down as we start to slide into Autumn. all the squirrels have their new coats on, they have changed from light gray to darker charcoal gray in color and the ducks, (well the males have changed into their Fall colors to match the dry grasses and the shrubs). the days are shorter now and the nights are a lot cooler. YAY no more triple digits!!!! its cloudy this morning, wonder if we will get a thunderstorm this afternoon, be a nice change. this weekend is the last big yahoo for the summer.. our Labor day carnival and the tuff truck competition. I was hoping for cooler weather for that, no way was I sitting out in the hot sun with triple digits…. I prefer my comfort. time to get ready for the Fall, put away the clothesline, put away the sprinklers and roll up the hoses for hanging for the winter. I don’t mind summer too much, but the best part of summer is the end of the summer. just a thought Susan, let your bank and credit card companies know where you will be while in Scotland and England, just helps to protect your credit cards from any fraud. off to go get some groceries for tonight….. Swiss steak sounds nice, along with mashed potatoes and salad. now that summer is leaving he is hungrier. does your hubby do that??? get hungrier for Fall and winter??? off to the store… have a great day everyone. hugs…. 🙂

    • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

      forgot to mention I know Autumn is coming soon, the oak trees are dropping their acorns already and the squirrels are in heaven going around and hiding them and stashing them for munching later on. I can’t wait for Autumn to be officially here, my favorite time of the year. hugs everyone….. 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        It’s happening here too…although our lazy squirrels swing, upside down, from our bird feeders, which they leap onto from the wisteria vines. Makes for good entertainment while washing dishes or making tea!

    • sbranch says:

      Yesterday I made us the most delicious simple little thing. Garden tomatoes are what really made it, they are so GOOD right now. I cut a thin slice of the seedy crunchy bread Siobhan made for us, toasted it, slathered it with mayonnaise, put two slices of tomato on top, salted and peppered and ate. Simplicity personified, and I have dreamed of it ever since.

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        I used to do that, just a nice fresh crusty slice of bread, thin sliced tomatoes and mayonnaise and salt and pepper, my favorite summer sandwich. I also found of sprinkle of Italian herbs really adds to the flavor, but I like the simplicity of just the salt and pepper myself. this year the mice got our tomato plants, the little rodents actually ate the plants during the night after we just had planted them, little munch mouths so this summer no fresh tomatoes from the garden. this is part of the problem with our rotten neighbor ( yes he is still there), he leaves garbage and trash all over his yard, that attracts mice and when they get done there they come over onto our property and munch on our tomato plants. poor Furby is trying to catch the mice, but well it may be a case of too many mice for her to handle, and we are looking at the county planners to help us with this problem neighbor….. time for him to go!!

      • mari1017 says:

        OOOOH!!!! Just the best sandwich 🙂 And one of my dad’s very favorites ~ thanks for the reminder as our tomatoes here in Virginia are scrumptious right now!

  80. Colleen says:

    Looks like a wonderful party. Cheers to Joe! Any chance you can share the list of the music? There’s nothing like a good play list.

  81. Barbara Irvine (Connecticut) says:

    Dear Sue, Joe and Jack,

    I am so sorry about Girl Kitty. I have been worried about her and had an awful feeling she was gone. Us Girlfriends seem to have a certain radar, I think.

    You will miss her so much! We only knew her through your blog, Willard and your books, and she was such a sweet girl. She is waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge, and I hope she meets my Conrad there — he was my sweet baby boy and, even though he left me almost two years ago, I still miss him every day.

    Tears and hugs for you and Girl,

    • sbranch says:

      I still look on the porch for my “Man Kitty” who died in around 1999. He used to be standing there waiting, and it was such a habit, I could never stop. Girl was a pure angel. Pure Angel. No other words. Thank you for your kind words Barbara.

  82. charlene brummitt says:

    Hi Susan,
    Party sounded grand. I have recently read your Isle of Dreams and have just started to read for the second time a Fine Romance which is even better second time around. I Look forward to your trip and your post. Have a great time.

    • sbranch says:

      Glad you’ll be coming along Charlene, it’s going to be fun. We’ve been making plans and it just looks wonderful!

  83. Anne says:

    You guys always have such fun parties! Happy Birthday to Joe 😊 Please tell Paul I adore his flowered shirt! Made my day seeing that☺️ I received the revised HOTH…love it! It’s like a freshening! Can’t wait to make the “Hearty Dinner Stew w/buttered noodles” YUM!
    Keep us updated on your packing! I hear the weather’s pretty wild in Scotland. Snuggle w/kitties everyday before you leave😽

    • sbranch says:

      Paul dresses so cute (although I don’t think he would use quite that word😜), while he was here, he rebuilt the curved wooden rail on our porch!!!! So talented! I feel the same about HOTH, “freshening!” You’ll love that stew, it’s so different and NON boring! Looking forward to that wild weather! Hope it’s saving its best wildness for us! Thank you Anne!

  84. Lynn says:

    HI Susan-
    After reading Willard I was inspired to make your roasted red pepper/tomato recipe. I served it over Zoodles (zuchinni noodles), and it was fantastic! Thanks for reminding us to grab those last days of good summer recipes. And thanks for another sweet blog and Willard. Love them!

  85. Mary Heiland says:

    So so sorry about Girl Kitty. It was her time and I’m glad you were home for her. And keeping busy does help. Still don’t know how you pulled off being “up” for all your girlfriends on the book tour as you were mourning your dad. Very selfless thing to do. Amazing gal you are… living each day to the fullest and reminding us of the preciousness of life. “I’m gonna live till I die, I’m gonna laugh ‘stead of cry.” ~Frank Sinatra

  86. Marty from NYC. says:

    I don’t mean to sound trite. especially when I think of how much you have loved Girl Kitty, but I once found a fortune cookie inscription: “That which is beautiful never dies, but passes into other loveliness”
    I don’t pretend to know what is beyond, but certainly the love and memories of a beloved pet do ultimately pass into other loveliness.
    So sorry for the pain, but so happy for all the wonderful times that you had with her. All the best to you and Joe and fiesty little Jack. Marty

  87. So excited to get to go along on this next adventure with you! Hope maybe you’ll post a bit on Instagram as you go along? You have me so craving a trip. Well you and the fact that I just got done re-watching all the seasons of Downton Abbey with my girl and we are now working our way through every version of every Jane Austen movie! I’m thinking a trip to England would be the perfect way for my sweetie and I to celebrate having an empty nest in just 3 short years! Here’s hoping she gets a scholarship so we can afford it! I will of course use your beautiful book as a travel guide!

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

    good morning everyone, its a lovely but somewhat smoky morning here, we had a little excitement last night… a wildfire broke out near Kerby and Selma not too far from us and it jumped very quickly to 120 acres, you can google Gold canyon fire to read all about it, you can read about the Selma fire 2016 that happened right in that area about a week ago. I think we have a firebug loose in the area, strange where, when and how those 2 fires got started. the authorities do have a suspect for the Selma fire locked up, but now this fire and a week later… well we’ll find out before long. poor hubby had to drive through a few walls of fire, this fire and the last fire as they both jumped the highway and that is the only way in or out of town. we’re okay, just wondering what is next. off to go feed the chickens and refill the tubs with fresh water… then more sweeping and dusting. good thing we have a fire station across the road from us……. 😀 hugs everyone….. 🙂

  89. Thanks for the beautiful post and Willard too, and happy birthday to Joe, what lovely a party! Charm factor off the charts, on all fronts! One reason I adore what you do and how you do it. Speaking of which, this armchair traveler is looking forward to your upcoming trip as it unfolds. All good wishes for safe travels and many days of happiness in another country. And after all that goodness I must also say how sorry I am to hear about Girl, I was wondering about her, and hoping for the best, so you wouldn’t have to experience loss upon loss. But that’s not how the world works, we don’t get to choose – life rolls along and things happen as they will, and we meet what comes, as best we can. You excel in showing us how to do just that and more. All best wishes, Susan, to you and your dear household!

  90. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! I am so very sorry to hear Girl Kitty has passed away…..she was lovely, and so precious in all of the pictures you would share with us. I hope Jack adjusts to being an only child (kitty) without any problems. Maybe double doses of extra TLC will help! Joe’s birthday celebration looks spectacular!!!!! Everything and everybody……spectacular!!!!!! He is very blessed to have you, and he is so very rich with friends! What a wonderful birthday memory you made for him!!!! I decided to finally sit down and read your new Willard after dinner tonight. These final days of August have been busy, and I wanted to take my time and enjoy it with my evening cup of Chamomile Tea. Oh Susan, oh my goodness, I had to look twice to believe what I read on your very pretty pie bookmark! My eyes began to tear up, my heart almost burst, and I still cannot put into words very well how I feel right now, seeing my mother’s little saying, she so often simply said. My mother’s 30th anniversary of her death was this July, she would have been 90 years old this coming October, and I still talk about her every single day……….since 1986. My daughter Marie was named after her. Her old ragged cookbook she bought herself as a young bride (in 1948) sits in my kitchen, being held with a satin ribbon to keep it from falling apart. She made the best pies, and her crusts so very flaky. Every year for my brother Jim’s birthday, he always wanted a birthday pie (candles included on top), instead of a
    birthday cake, since age 2! But all throughout the year she baked apple, pecan, mincemeat, pumpkin, blueberry, rhubarb, cherry, and peach pies. And the wooden spoon you painted is just like the one I have from my Grandmother, who was born in Europe (Moravia). Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is so touching. Thank you and please know how much this means to me, as my mother would be so tickled pink, she was so sweet, so humble, and so lived her whole life for her family. But she said those words because she knew it was true. You see she did not know how to cook when she got married, and well, she bought a cookbook, and learned! She cooked for my father and family for 37 short years, and entertained parties for many. You know Susan, YOUR cookbooks teach thousands how to cook!!!!!! Your cookbooks touch so many as the most important tool in the kitchen! Your cookbooks are so cherished and you continue to feed us all with all of your outstanding recipes!!!!! My prayer for you is for your (and Joe’s) safety on your upcoming trip to England/Scotland, and good health! Have loads of fun Susan! (I’ve printed out several….ummmm…..many……bookmarks to give at Christmastime to my family, and one will stick out of my mom’s old worn out cookbook, and another will stick out of your brand new 30th Anniversary Heart of the Home cookbook I so proudly have in clear sight, in my cozy little kitchen!) Take care of yourself and God Bless!

    • sbranch says:

      Well, it is very obvious that your mom could read. Thank you dear Carilyn, you carry on for your mom, and helped her inspiration get to lots of people who need to read that very simple, and very true, advice about the true and wonderful ART of cooking.💞

  91. Robin - Henderson, NV says:

    I love the way you often use your vintage tableclothes. I have a few from my mom and a few I have found along the way. I hesitate to use mine – fearing red wine and Bar-B-Q sauce! How do you recommend cleaning them? Thanks for sharing your photos of Joe’s b-day – pass along good wishes and many more!
    My heart aches for the loss of a light in your life. Her memory will always shine bright.

    • FayE says:

      Morning, Robin

      I am FayE in Goleta, CA and I love vintage and antique linens and have a closet full! I haven’t purchased any for a few years now, but enjoy putting up seasonal displays of the beautiful items. Women of the past have left “us” such beautiful embroidered items from christening gowns to napkins to tablecloths…and more. My preference is white linens…many beautifully embroidered in white.

      I have done a lot of soaking/washing/ironing of these beauties and can highly recommend Restoration and Oxy-Boost which are environmentally safe and good for colors, too. Linen Wash (Original) smells heavenly and is also a fab product. I have Wine Away in my laundry supplies, but have never used it personally. It is supposed to be great for removing the freak-out red wine spill. It is touted to be a successful solution.

      I would not be without Linen Wash, Oxy-Boost or Restoration! I will say that patience is a virtue! Take your time and don’t fret. Some stains take many soakings, but it is worth it in the end. My wedding dress was stashed and never properly stored. It had yellowed horribly. I was going to throw it out, but my mother made it for me and I had a hard time tossing it. It was so damaged that I finally figured that, what the heck, it is already ruined…why not try a bath? Well, many soakings later and a bit of sunbathing it came out pristine white. Impressed! Sadly, due to my youthful ignorance with the improper storing the fabric was extremely dry and ended up with a few tears in the lace. I do credit a tear or two to possibly not being patient enough when lifting the heavy/wet garment.

      Anyway, don’t be afraid to use your tablecloths. I have evolved and a stain that soaks to “nearly” invisible should not deter the joy in dressing a beautiful table. Hopefully, it is in the perfect place to place a serving dish over it. HA. If you take the plunge and purchase the above items, most of your spills will be gone. Products are not cheap, but worth it. Check out Amazon or other websites. I have Amazon Prime which I love. The shipping is free for these heavy items. Economical to purchase the larger sizes!

      Bon appetite…in style!

  92. audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, MO says:

    So excited to receive my Heart of the Home charm today! Thank you ladies in California. Any chance Susan of a remake of the Fine Romance charm?

  93. Janette J. says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’ve loved seeing the birthday pictures and the dinner the night before…how fun…I thought you both looked great! Loved the glowing house picture a lot. Thanks for generously agreeing to post the MUSICA list. Can you download a song from YouTube videos? I’ve found some MUSICA not available in iTunes, etc. and now I must have “Hold My Hand” by Mr. Cornell.
    I can’t tell exactly what’s hanging on your living room wall (pic w/ white sofas) but wanted to say, they’re just beautiful and look perfect there!! 🤗Three graduated sizes of round somethings. Siobhan’s hair is amazing…Yay for Cream of Rice…have you ever tried Rice & Shine? Thank you for all of your many posts. XOXO

  94. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Oh my, I just caught up with comments & I’m so sorry about your little angel Girl Kitty. She was such a pretty kitty, and very special. My condolences my dear. We love that you shared her with us. Thank you. xoxoxo

  95. Merci says:

    Dearest Susan,
    On a closing note – my favorite (also forever) Cream of Rice!!!
    Such a great birthday party for a very deserving person – your Joe! Do enjoy a wonderful trip on the QM2 and through the hills and dales. I will be waiting to experience all your wonderful adventures!

  96. A Todd says:

    Susan your “Autumn” book jumped out at me from the librarian’s fall display weeks ago, and although I have carried it into the car to return a couple of times, I find myself opening it time and again…. So yesterday I brought it back into the house to look up online as it is time to own my own copy.

    Imagine my delight at finding (is it Willard ?) such a bounty of reading and calligraphy and recipes galore !!! And to see that the adorable man “who came to dinner” recently enjoyed a garden birthday celebration:) Ah – love stories with a happy ending.

    Enjoy the cruise and I will begin my Susan Branch book collection.

    p.s. I cannot wait for Halloween so I can try your floating hand in the punch surprise !!

  97. Chris Wells. Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I just this minute learned about Girl. I am so sorry. This has been a very hard year, so many changes, for many of us. What a wonderful life that sweet demur kitty had. She had such a presence…..a little like The Queen! How wonderful that so many of us got to know her and love her and appreciate her. I would like to imagine that my Golden, Jenny was waiting for her on the other side. She so loved cats, and she was such a gentle soul herself. Please give Jack an extra hug and kiss….even though he will fuss!!
    Love, Chris

  98. Audrianne Hill says:

    Our book distributor still does NOT have your newest version of Heart of the Home! I want to buy local and they have almost 1000 on order but nothing….it’s past it’s due date on the shelf. Sad to no end.

    • sbranch says:

      Well, they CAN have it . . . who is your distributor? Ingram ordered lots of them, not sure if Baker and Taylor has them, but I think so . . . Let me know if there’s a problem.

  99. Kathy H says:

    I’m thinking of you as this storm brews off our New England coast. Praying that the ferry will be running so you can get to New York on Thursday. Last year on Sept. 8 I left for 2 months in England and Scotland. Seeing the late summer flowers and leaves turn was wonderful. One surprise was the amount of Halloween celebrations. Another delight was seeing the early Christmas decorating and items in the shops. Bon voyage!

  100. Mary Anne says:

    So sad about Girl Kitty. Does not matter how old and/or sick a cat may be, it always is a huge loss when he or she dies. Even when you keep telling yourself death is a blessing in disguise. Thinking of you and Joe and all of the Girl Kitty memories you share.

    Bon Voyage! May your trip be filled with lovely adventures and abundant blessings!

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