Sunday was the 35th anniversary of my move to Martha’s Vineyard, that step I accidentally took into the unknown, and the beginning of my brand new life. A good day to celebrate! Let’s have MUSICA! And yesterday was mine and Joe’s 30th Anniversary of wallowing joyfully in said life! I love February! Not only is it the month for our best anniversaries, and the wonderfully sweet holiday of Valentine’s Day, it’s also my mom’s birthday. And it’s also the month Joe and I will be taking the train out to California to be with her! A red-letter month if ever I saw one.❤️ And look who else thinks so:

The robins are back and frolicking! For some reason, in the last few years, robins show up here in droves (actually it’s a “round” of robins, not a drove) when they get even the slightest perception . . .

against all visible indications, that it might be getting near spring. They just know.

It’s definitely not spring here, but they don’t care, in they come for a landing . . . to splash and play in ice water.

They are believers.  And then, partly because of them, so are we. Here comes spring!

Our 30th Anniversary. This is the guy I fell in love with. A lilac-cutting kind of guy. Just my cup of tea. No one gets everything right the first time, especially me, queen of hit and miss, but we shouldn’t blame ourselves because it’s true that we’re all doing the best we can. There’s always another chance. As Oprah said, “Now that we know better, we do better.” And so, perhaps, a reward such as this is what happens.

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. 💞 Franz Peter Schubert

Our house, we bought in 1989, dressed for the season, in white hearts to confuse the snowflakes.

Isn’t he cute? I just love his plaid shirt and tie in this old photo! He’s a good fabric mixer! And so, speaking of plaid . . . shall we?

Here we are in Edinburgh (say it Edin-burra), Scotland. An amazing city in an amazing country, and I am definitely not a city person, except this one. I loved the whole country. Land of plaid and cashmere, castles and kilts, scotch and bagpipes, Highland fairies, and J.M. Barrie, the man who wrote Peter Pan who said (among other things), “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust” ~ and this too . . . 

So let’s start here. There was the MOST darling store on the Royal Mile (fantastic main street of Edinburgh that I will show you more of later) that I would love to go back to. We didn’t have long enough! We were traveling! So all I could do is run around the best store I’ve ever been in, and take pictures, because I knew you’d want to see it too. It’s ridiculous, so-so-so-so cute. Called “Ragamuffin.” If you ever get to Edinburgh you have to save time for this store. It’s worth it for fingerless gloves alone!  Have you ever seen cuter ones? No. Neither have I.

Scarves anyone? Like you have never seen before?  Oui! I should have grabbed the blue and orange one top right and just paid for it and run! But, I didn’t. What was I thinking?  Nope, they’re not on-line. I checked. 😢 You have to go there.

Soft sweaters? In vibrant happy colors? They have them.

And then, unbearable, tops and skirts in cozy cottons and wovens and wool and all the real fabrics we forgot they ever made because they’re so hard to find. Moosh.

I did not get to try on one single dress. Nothing. Don’t you feel sorry for me? Me, too. I didn’t know this store was going to be there, so I didn’t plan for it, and we were booked up with places we had to BE. Don’t let this happen to you. Write it down. Ragamuffin. You’ll need at least two hours of no-man time. You’ll want to plan for total concentration. You’re welcome. ❤️

But you’ll love Edin-burra for lots more reasons than this store. I’ll show you in a future post. Doesn’t it look unreal? This was the view from our hotel room. Between us and that hotel over there was the train station down below. We could see all the tracks and trains lined up. So civilized, hop a train, and the world is your oyster.

It’s a beautiful old city with cozy plaid scarves everywhere… very hygge.

Plaid capes . . . and plaid skirts

And this is a purse! A plaid tweed skirt-purse!

A window-full of plaid. How do you choose?

Here’s a photo in a wonderful shop that IS on line. A huge store, filled to overflowing with wool, plaid, cashmere, and tweed and so much more. Coats, jackets, sweaters, skirts, cute shoes too. Called Bruar, House of Scottish Country Clothing. Another place that requires hours of concentrated attention. It’s room after room of this and so much more.

I did get a hat. I look like Paul McCartney in it, but what else is new.

Kilts everywhere, and in all the clan colors a heart could desire . . .

Here’s Siobhan (with Map Man) in her darling plaid coat. Coats. They have the cutest coats in England. I kept noticing how cute everyone looked in their coats. All colors and prints, not just brown or black. Around here, we usually wear jackets, but this coat thing, I grew to like it very much.

You didn’t have to be dressed up. They just wore them with jeans. Just throw it on when you go to the market. I thought it was so feminine. And cheerful, all the colors.

Rachel too. All the English girls were wearing them . . .

Here we are on the train . . . Ray in her cute coat, and me with my jacket off. (We’re wearing poppies ~ for remembrance ~ in these photos ~ for those not familiar with poppy history, I’ll do a post and explain soon.)

Here’s another of Rachel’s coats. (But it’s the expression on her face that I love more than anything. Isn’t she cute?)

I got this hat too, and those gloves, because I love the bows. Sometimes in the winter I feel like a mountain made from sweatshirt material. It’s not cute. I was noticing in England you could be warm and still dress like a girl! So when we were in Oxford, and shopping with Carrie, I found a coat! And she made me buy it. And I’m so glad I did!  It’s plaid. I don’t have any photos of it yet, but I’ll show you someday. I love it, although I’m like a headlight at midnight mixed in with all the dark jackets around here. Still it makes me feel perky. Dark winter + bright colors = good thing. 🌤

‘Course, the dogs wore plaid too . . . some were decked out in it . . .

So, with all this shopping inspiration, the place we were staying ended up looking like this . . . hygge to the nth degree, in front of the wood stove . . .

and this . . .

And our Christmas tree got plaided up too.

Plaid became our new thing. 💙

So here’s something else I noticed. See the deer heads on the walls? Very popular in the UK. An old tradition, I imagine, left over from King Arthur and his ilk. I’m not sure, but there were lots of them. Remember the unfortunate stag in The Queen being a sort of magical symbolic thing? Well, deer heads are everywhere . . .

. . . In restaurants, pubs, and homes, but they aren’t so much the real thing anymore.

 Now they look more like this . . .

So of course when I saw these in one of the gift shops . . .

I thought, yes! What our wood room (where we watch TV, it’s paneled in wood, hence the creative name “wood room”) needs is a deer head. So here he is, over the door. Isn’t he cute? I’m extremely impressionable in case you can’t tell. Trying to grasp and hold on to the wonderfulness of our experiences. And I LOVE nature! And we needed a deer head too! Like everyone else! But, you’ll be interested to hear, not everything we saw made it back with us ~ so far, since we got home, I have not once made haggis! You can fool some of the people some of the time!

Cuteness ⤵️

  Here’s a spy-cam-in-action moment. I loved what this family was wearing despite no plaid. I had to chase after them to take this picture. Look how they are dressed . . . all five of them. Ready to walk and no rain storm or mud puddle would slow them down. I took this picture to remind myself, THIS is how to dress for traveling in a rainy country. (Also loved the red heads! Very cute family. Note, there’s bunting too.)

Wellies! (and dog, of course)

And you can get them in every imaginable color and print.

I’m reminded.

So Girls, I just finished the 2018 calendars, 💖 (yay) and today, with all these anniversaries around me, including that 2016 was the 30th year of my first book, is the first time in all these years that I don’t have anything due. No deadline! For the first time ever. What shall I do with myself? Leap and shout hurray? Yup!I have loved every moment of my work, but I have to say, I’m wallowing in this feeling for a while. It’s only been two days and I know when we get home from California in April I’ll be excited to start something new, but I’m allowing it all to float around right now, like being on a merry-go-round, knowing I could grab that ring, but choosing not to for a while ~ to just enjoy the ride and feel the wind on my face without the stress of missing that little ring!  Choices. A lovely thing. I’ll get the ring later.

And, did you notice the groundhog did NOT see his shadow? That means an early spring! So I’ve started a little spring cleaning. 🌷I went to the flower store today (wearing my cheerful coat), and then I shopped at the supermarket, read labels and perused all kinds of new this and that and just took my own sweet time about it. Joy oh Joy. I hung up our heart banner in the kitchen and wrote Valentines and got stamps on them, and now I’m going out to dinner with my honeyman to celebrate 30 years of feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.❤️

This is a card I made for Joe from a past Valentine’s  Day 💞. . . and here’s one for you . . .

I hope you are watching A Place to Call Home! It’s as good as Downton in the totally addictive way that you can’t WAIT to see what will happen next! You will love it! There are four glorious seasons already . . . and another is coming soon. Joe and I are almost through the fourth, so I speak from experience! Watch, and then we can gossip about them!  We’ll start with Regina! 👿 She’s hideous!

Don’t forget, I’ll be at the Apple Farm in beautiful downtown San Luis Obispo, California on Saturday, March 18, at 2 pm, speaking, answering questions, signing books, and hanging out with everyone. They’re selling tickets because there will be a tent and food ~ it will be very fun! 🍎 I hope some of you can come! And those mugs I designed? Coming soon! I’ll let you know!

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593 Responses to VALENTINE’S and PLAID DO GO TOGETHER. 👏

  1. C degraves says:

    Love those boots with the flowers ! I’ll take them .love the plaid .impressive Robins don’t have them back yet wish I did .loves your past dog post theu were all adorable .

  2. Kathie Ferko says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Wasn’t Edinburgh the best place …wish I had been there more than 2days…on a tour when they say go ,you go!! Loved the castle, buildings,museums and shops…was glad that except for the bus tour, we had the time to explore by ourselves…my son and I walked all over…saw that Ragamuffin shop was near the Museum of Childhood….I do not remember that shop… I was ther in 2003 … Maybe it was not open then….I am so sad to miss it… Probably would have spent my allowance in that store…loved all your pictures. The Writers museum was also awesome.
    Hope you had a lovely anniversary…. I know I am a little late wishing this to you and Joe,but I was ill for about a week and am just getting back to the IPad usage.
    Love that Apple Cake recipe… It was one I had saved from Country Living magazine…. Must now get to making it again!
    Loving Victoria on PBS … Great story and acting… With a lot of familiar British actors.
    Waiting for the Bronte program coming within the month… I love all the British shows on PBS stations … Of which I have 3 to choose from in my area.

    Stay warm, enjoy your snow(we only had about 4 in)

    Kathie from Limerick, PA

    • sbranch says:

      We only had two days too. I have tons of photos of the outside of the writer’s museum, but it was closed! I was so sorry about that! But it’s often like that for me. I go, and what I find out, is where I need to go BACK to! Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Edinburgh area, and so much more. Not to mention all the places I haven’t seen yet! We have three PBS stations too, lucky us Kathie!

  3. Suzette Shoulders says:

    Hello and Happy Anniversary to you and Joe! I am trying to book a holiday in the Lakes District, and each time I make some contact with a B and B or hotel, I go look at your website afterwards. I have an adversarial relationship with technology, so I love reminding myself what fun you had on the other side of ‘the Pond”, as my British friends call the Atlantic! If we were going far enough north to visit “Ragamuffin”, I am sure we would, how dear a shop! I rather like it that their things are only available when you come there to shop, more old-fashioned! It is so nice to see spring trying to come to Martha’s Vineyard, since we still have 18″ of snow at our home. But there are fat buds on my lilacs, so I can hope for the springtime. Have a grand trip to California, and congrats on finishing the 2018 calendar! Suzette

    • sbranch says:

      I like that too, that you have to actually GO there to see the treasures in Ragamuffin. Makes it more special! You will love the Lakes, as I’m sure you know. Hope you find just the right thing!

  4. Deborah In The Fields says:

    Thank you for, once again, brightening an otherwise gray, cold, dreary February day in sunless Michigan. While you are getting a snow storm today, we have rock-hard, BROWN fields on everyside … ick. Our winter has been lacking its usual blanket of cheering snow, but hey – winter isn’t over yet! There is still hope, yes?

    I LOVE seeing all the woolens in those Scottish stores! I am forever weary of polyester blends that let the cold in and allow all my heat to seep out. They look old-fashioned, comfy, warm, and FUN! Here in the States they would cost “over-the-top” I fear. But, a girl can still dream, right?

    Thank you for all your lovely photos of your trip. And I must say, I ADORE all the wellies!! Now a pair of those I MUST have! I bet I can find some cuties on Amazon, if no place else.

    Happy Trails, Sue. Stay safe and warm. And Happy Valentine’s Day. AND Happy Anniversary, to both of you sweetie pies! <3

    • sbranch says:

      That’s amazing, I always think you guys get the best winters! I hope it comes back! Yes, always hope! I get worried that someday we’ll look back at all our “weather,” snowy winters, balmy summers, rare tornadoes, and think, “Oh how quaint!” I’m happy to see this snow, because until now, we only had one! This one makes up for it a bit. Thank you Deborah and Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

  5. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Happy 30th Anniversary to the sweetest couple ever!!!!! Wishing you and Joe a lifetime more of happiness together!!!!!! My goodness, you two looked so cute together so long ago……..and you STILL look so cute together!!! How blessed you are to have one another!!!! All of your photos of colorful plaids, knitted fingerless gloves, sweaters, and clothes look sooooooooooo pretty, so much eye candy!!! How did you ever resist Susan from just scooping up everything???? Your little blue gloves with the pink little bows are to die for!!! Please have Joe take a picture of you wearing them!!!! Too cute! Have a wonderful time out west and enjoy your mother!!! I will pray for your safe travels! Hope Jack will be fine, I’ll pray for him, too! I’m excited to bake your Apple cake recipe, maybe surprise my Dad, when we travel to see him next month. He’s 92 1/2 years young and still lives alone on Harsen’ s Island, MI. He has a big sweet tooth! Thank you Susan……you always bring a smile to my face when reading your words and seeing your pictures! Happy Valentine’s Day to you, from the bottom of my heart! Take care. God Bless.

    • sbranch says:

      Enjoy your dad Carilyn! You are so lucky to have him! Give him a hug from all of us! Thank you for your prayers. Barbara, our friend who took care of Jack for all the time we were on the road last year, and then in England, is coming back to take care of him while we’re in California. So he’s going to feel relatively normal without us. Makes me happy to know it. I hate to leave him. But this is the best we can do. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too! xoxoxo

  6. diana from ancaster says:

    OH dear Susan! thank you for this wonderful post…
    First, Happy Anniversary to you and Joe.
    Second, Happy Anniversary to you and Martha 🙂
    Third, Edin-burra!!!!!!!! (more please)

    hugs from here.

  7. Mary from PA. says:

    Happy Anniversary Susan and Joe.

  8. Nicoline Bostens says:

    Susan, Thank you for sending the link for the sheepdogs! I think we will try and visit, sounds just so much fun!
    Reindeer, well, we were watching a documentary about Scotland a few weeks ago, and besides the gorgeous country side, we saw that there is a herd of free ranging reindeer, and visitors are allowed to come on a guided hike to see them, and pet them, and feed them!!
    I have the link here;

    If you can’t see it, you could type on internet;
    Cairngorm Reindeer, and you can see all about it!
    We have already bought proper hiking boots, so we’re well prepared, and ready to go!


    • sbranch says:

      It really is Nicoline, it’s very informal, you sit on rocks, you can help sheer the sheep if you want, the shepherd answers all your questions, not very many people. Near there, in Kingussie, is the Highland Folk Museum, which we also loved. This is the place that has houses from way back, all decorated in their time, amazing thatched roof houses from the 1700s, and homes from the 1950s. You wander from house to house, farm houses and even train stations from the 40s. Really wonderful. The reindeer looks great too, I’m sorry we missed that! Have fun!

  9. Larkin Myers says:

    Thanks for the tour!! I’m going to Chicago in March for a few days and your review of these stores made me think “Hmmm…what does Susan Branch do if/when she goes to Chicago?” I was going to search your old blogs for a write-up of a visit, but I can’t find a way to search the website. Am I missing it?

    Also, last night I showed my kids that beautiful sunset. My husband asked who sent it to me and I said, “my dear friend Susan Branch.” My 4 year old daughter replied “oh yeah, the lady that makes our calendar!” Made my heart happy.

    • sbranch says:

      Too cute about your 4 year old!! Makes my heart happy to hear that too! We go to Chicago quite often, because every time we cross the country by train for all these years, there is always a 6-7 hour layover in Chicago. So we love Chicago. The people are wonderful and we’ve been there in every season. The train station is right downtown and close to any city thing you would want to do. Great restaurants, wonderful shopping, museums, lake walks, river restaurants . . . One wonderful thing to do is take a tour boat on the river to see the architecture… it’s a really fun way to see the city. Michigan Avenue is a long row of every kind of store you’d ever want to see . . . since we live on an Island, and shopping is limited, we almost always shop in Chicago!

  10. viv says:

    Happy Anniversary. We’re in our 49th year and my dear hubby brought a bouquet of daffodils in from his walk in the woods…life is good.

  11. Sandra Collins says:

    I love A Place to Call Home! Regina is just so evil, with no redeeming qualities. None! At least Lady Mary in Downton Abbey wasn’t totally evil. Regina should end up with that despicable Sir Richard. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Roy is the hottest guy on the show! He’s just a big ole gentle teddy bear, that could beat up the bad guy in a heart beat if needed. And I love how Elizabeth Bligh has become a much more sympathetic person – she started out as the one to hate, but dang it if she hasn’t become someone you cheer for. Go for the love Elizabeth! Let’s see those eyes twinkle!

    • sbranch says:

      I love Roy too! What a good protector he is. We finished our last show night before last and are bereft without it! I think the characters in Downton were much more subtle ~ these people are either devils or angels! Love Anna, love James! When and if you find out when they are going to play season 5 and where, please let us all know!

  12. Debbie Boerger says:

    Fingers crossed for you and Joe on your Valentine/Anniversary getaway. Crossed for perfect open sleigh ride, but any weather is perfect in front of a fire with friends. Please post pictures on your Twitter. I am certain you’ll take some plaid to help you celebrate!!

    Debbie in Tampa….for now

  13. Kate says:

    Hi, Susan.

    As a fellow New Englander, I have to tell you that at the MFA in Boston (in the American Wing), there’s a door frame from an 18th century house and above it (next to it?) there are some antlers. (You might also recall all the antlers on the walls in the Downton kitchen?) Anyway, the placard next to it explains that in early America, it was common to follow the European custom of displaying antlers in your house to remind people that animals are given us by God for our sustenance AND that we are to be good caretakers of them. I LOVE that! So, if you are in great need of some antlers (just the type you can find on the walls in the Downton kitchen), I recommend the Brimfield Antique Show! I have some on my kitchen wall now.

    All the best,
    (…who is going to Edinburgh this April!!!!)

    • sbranch says:

      Aha! Thank you for that wonderfully informative bit of explanation ~ so interesting! Isn’t Brimfield the best? So much fun. We’ll be home this year, maybe we will go! Have fun in Scotland!

  14. Peggy Willoughby says:

    I love the picture of the robins at your bird bath. I have regular families at mine all winter as well. We have 2 cardinal families, crows, lots of crows, chickadees, tufted titmouse, wrens, and more. It is starting to be spring here in North Carolina. I am seeing fields turned over and getting ready for spring planting. We have a cold day today, but in the 70s this weekend. Yay! Carolina blue skies abound.
    I wear bright coats and jackets. I have a red one and a purple. I love color. Grew up in NYC where everyone wears black. Now I love wearing colors.
    I also have found Lularoe leggings. Soft, warm, stretchy, soft, feels like pajamas or no pants at all. The colors! and prints! Oh my! So beautiful. But I wear them with long shirts because even if you are very trim and fit – leggings are not pants. They need something to cover your bum.
    Enjoy California, Susan.
    Oh, P.S. My dog groomer is from Martha’s Vinyard.

  15. Susan Taylor says:

    LOVED seeing all the beautifully made coats you posted. If only here in the US we were able to purchase such beauty. Would your friend Rachel suggest websites that we could buy from. That would be awesome. Happy Anniversary to you and the pics from Scotland were such fun!

  16. Barbara (WA) says:

    Happy all-those-great Anniversaries – I can’t wait to see your new coat!

  17. Deborah in Odessa says:

    Happy Anniversary!! Beautiful post. Enjoy your trip and your mother.

  18. Cindy says:

    I just don’t know where to start with this post?? There is so much, I love, love, love plaid!!!
    The scarves are over the top, I’ve looked everywhere for one.
    Starting studying about Hygge around Christmas and love it. Seems like I’ve done it since I was a little girl.
    Raggamuffin looks like a place to spend hours in!!!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, hygge is just another word for cozy, and cozy is a middle name for most of us lovers of home sweet home! Happy to have you here Cindy!

  19. Cindy says:

    I have two new pen pals thru Hygge Nook Facebook group. Hadn’t written a real letter in years and in a trunk I found some old stationery I used years ago, it was so appropriate ! Branch- Tea and Cake – copyright 1999

  20. Hi Susan!!!
    I was in England last year and ran into the red poppies on everyone’s lapels. I wish I had purchased one, I was so taken by them. Everyone, young or old was wearing them. Love your posts! We hope to see you in SLO
    Happy Healthy Trails!
    Lisa & Jess

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, the poppy tradition is a wonderful one! It’s a very happy thing to see everyone wearing those flowers for a wonderful cause. Hope to see you in SLO, Lisa!

  21. chris consentino says:

    even tho i’m late-to-the-party….a GREAT BIG, HUMONGOUS, HAPPPPPPPY each one of your ANNIVERSARIES!!!!!!! nice and happy. and, you & Joe do look just as cute & in much love as you did @ the beginning…well, probably even more so!!!! yes. more so!!!! I could literally feel all the plaid softness & cheer, wrapped around me. from you. soooo, again, thank you!! we are just plain envious of your SNOW…where we came from is just up to it’s eyes in snow. we have zero. ugh. but…we do have crocuses blooming for over a week now. wow. the crying in my heart continues to splash all over my face….betsy devos….really???? I was sooooo proud of a group of parents who made her enter a dc public school thru back-door due to their protests. nice. I am heartened by ALL the folks who are standing up now. it’s just that EVERY day brings more calamity!! thank you for the exquisite pic of Lady Liberty on your twitter. lovely. just a really lovely depiction. she must be crying as much as I am. have a GREAT journey to vt. and, have tons fun anticipating your long, westward journey!! HUGE and MANY hugs to your Mom!!!!! all love to you. oxxo

    • sbranch says:

      We’re going to Vermont for the next 3 days and I will just pretend the world is normal and pretty and people are nice to each other and the whole world is at peace. Then I can be happy! Hugs to you darling. xoxoxo

  22. Pam says:

    My what a wonderful post. I LOVE plaid skirts. It’s a good thing too since I had to wear one every day of school for four long years!!! And….it’s been 41 years…but I still have the uniform w/skirt in my treasure chest.
    Hope you have survived the blizzard and are still warm and cozy and with power.

    Felicitations to you on your anniversary. May you have oodles and oodles more to come.
    Pam from Vermont

    • sbranch says:

      On our way to Vermont this morning, Pam. Just looked at the weather. Yikes would be my first word! Oh well, here we go, off for an adventure! Wish us luck! xoxo

  23. Laurie Nico's mom says:

    Happy anniversary Susan and Joe! Might there be any plans to show us pictures of the wedding that worked for you? I’d love to see that.
    Thank you for the photo of the robins. Up here in Canada it will be a couple months before I see them but such a celebration when they do show up. My husband’s name is Robin so it makes it all the more special.

    • sbranch says:

      There’s a whole part of our life that I thought I might save for another book. Wedding, when we bought our house, all that kind of thing. For someday. It’s brewing in my head. Love the name Robin, always so cheerful! xoxo

      • Pam says:

        Are you doing a book signing, vacationing or wandering???
        I live not far from Tasha Tudor’s museum…pass it every day on my way to work. Hope you have a wonderful but safe journey.
        Good Luck,
        Pam from Vermont

        • sbranch says:

          Just wandering and meandering. Lovely getaway! Beautiful up here! I’ll have to do a post about it! Thank you Pam!

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Great Plan, Sue. The book would encompass so much of what we all love: Fabulous “second acts”, wonderful old houses, flowers, food and Love, or course.
        Wish I could tell you our adventures redoing a “tear down” in a very ratty part of town. Drug dealers and prostitutes as neighbors. Tom saw the future, and we bought it for a song. Discovering the history and the family (early Florida pioneers) made it go straight to the heart. Oh, how I wish we’d been able to keep that little house. But then, we wouldn’t have had the adventure of building a little center- chimney cape in beloved Maine.
        Weather looks to be simply horrific the next few days. Hope you have arrived in Vermont. Blizzard and 60 mph winds for costal Hancock Co., Maine. Anxious for our house and all our friends. You and Joe stay safe.
        Much love,
        Debbie in Tampa….for now

      • Rhonda D. says:

        I had a feeling there was more to the story…some tidbits to complete the story and add to the script 😊Another book sounds delicious (after you get some rest and feel the spirit moving in that direction). We’ll look forward to it.
        Just finished saying some prayers for safe travels for you and Joe as you head for Vermont. The weather all through the Maritimes is going to be wild starting overnight tonight. Blizzard conditions are expected here and 2 days of snow. Praying your trip goes well.

      • Laurie Nico's mom says:

        That book would be a guaranteed best seller! I had suggested a while ago that I would love to see a floor plan of your home. That would be just the book to put it in!
        Love what you said about my husbands name. He is, almost always, cheerful!

  24. Mary Shearer says:

    We just finished season 1 of A Place To Call Home! You’re correct – Regina is absolutely horrible!!! She and Elizabeth both, although maybe she’s worse than Elizabeth. I’m so glad there are three more seasons! Love from Mary S. Fresno, CA

    • sbranch says:

      I have put two and two together and gotten Shearer/Fresno! Sorry I didn’t do that sooner! Thank you Mary. And yes, wait until you see what she does next! You will love this thing, it just gets better and better! xoxo

  25. Leslie Watkins says:

    Oh, my goodness! One of my favorite Scottish places! I saw my family tartan mixed among your plaids…this entire post made my heart happy! Thank you for sharing, friend. Happy traveling to California!

  26. T-Robertson says:

    Thank you so much for the pics of your trip to Edin-burra and all the plaids!! Love it!! I hope to travel there one day 🙂

  27. Fran Ramsey says:

    Greetings from Vermont, Susan!

    My husband and I spent over an hour shoveling out our cars and driveway this morning after yesterday’s storm dumped over a foot of snow. I hope that you and Joe made it safely to VT and that you are now blissfully ensconced at your friends’ home enjoying good food and great conversation. Happy Anniversary to you both!

    If you decide to write another book and follow it up with a book tour, I hope you will consider adding VT to the tour. It’s lovely in the fall, as you know, but we would welcome you at any time.

    Your posts never fail to bring joy and sunshine to my day. I look forward to purchasing a mug (or 2 or 3) in the near future. Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with all of us.

    Safe travels to California!


    • sbranch says:

      Safe and sound and enjoying these amazing days. Gorgeous this Valentine’s morning, and we’re on our way for our sleigh ride in the snow! Thank you Fran!

      • Rhonda D. says:

        You are going for a sleigh ride in Vermont on Valentines Day! Oh my goodness. Susan, it doesn’t get any better than that! You are so blessed! Have fun!

        We got somewhere between 2 and 3 feet of snow yesterday, and another 1 to 2 feet coming tomorrow night. I saw a sign yesterday that read “Nova Scotia is closed on Monday and Tuesday due to a snowstorm.” I’ve never seen that before.

  28. I am mad about some plaids. They do grow on you! I really like Valentine’s Day, because I like hearts and heart things. 💝This year we are celebrating in the hospital I am sorry to report. Arnie was supposed to drive home from VA on vacation on the 4th, but instead on the 1st he was taken off the ship by ambulance as he had an abcess in his colon that was attaching itself to his bladder. We are almost out of the woods. I think he may have till the end of the week in the hospital. The upside is that he will be home a bit longer than the planned break he was allowed. I get to be his nurse at home.
    About the cake. Could I use cake flour or pastry flour?
    Hope you aren’t too buried up there! ❄❄❄
    Warm Hugs,

    • sbranch says:

      I think the recipe just calls for flour, so I’m sure it’s just plain flour, not cake flour. I think they would have said, and this is a Country Living recipe, not mine, but very good! Glad your husband is going to be safe. Sounds like quite the thing! Hugs to you both!

  29. Kari says:

    HI Susan,
    Every post is so warm and wonderful and full of love. You bring such goodness in every way. I love your idea you mentioned in a comment about the next book being about your wedding and how you bought your house. I also think you would write a beautiful children’s book from your viewpoint of being 12 years old…your favorite age! Can you tell I am re-enjoying Fairytale Girl! Thank you for the love you send and I am sending it back to you too!
    Blessings to you both,

  30. Ericka says:

    Our anniversary was the 7th – 20 years this year! I love a winter wedding – such a bright spot during the darker days. My grandparents, parents, and in-laws all got married in either January or February!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve always thought a Christmas Eve wedding would be pure magic. Candles and all the decorations, in front of a fire. In my imagination of course!

      • Rhonda D. says:

        You know what would be even better than pure magic? A Scottish wedding on Christmas Eve, with the candles, decorations, plaids, Scottish traditions and bagpipes. Oh be still my heart.❤️ My Scottish grandparents were married on December 12th and I love that about them.

      • HveHope says:

        Your imagination was my reality. 🙂 Dec 11th was pretty close to Christmas and yes, we had the decorations (a surprise from friends and family), white twinkly lights, candles, and a fire at the reception afterwards – wonderful!! AND, the ceremony was in Yosemite Chapel, 20-something years ago. Our wedding photos are out in the snow in front of some of the beautiful Yosemite Valley views all draped in snow. BEST of course, is the man I married and the marriage (complete with sweet children) over the years – all of which have been the Lord’s blessings!!

  31. June Fisher says:

    Hi Susan!

    I’m trying to remember where I put the name of the blue you used in your kitchen. It’s time to paint and I remember liking that color combo a lot.
    Happy Valentine’s Day.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m in Vermont right now, I have it written down somewhere, but not here! sorry!

      • Karen C. says:

        The kitchen color is Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue, and the white is Swiss Coffee OC-45, also Benj. Moore.)

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Hi Susan, Hi June,
        The walls are Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue and the trim is also Benjamin Moore, Swiss Coffee OC-45. I just Googled it and there it was. Vermont is beautiful! Loved your Twitter pictures.
        Hugs, Elaine

  32. Gill says:

    We are nearly through season two (of A Place to Call Home) but it’s heart rending and very difficult to watch. But we have to hope things get better soon!

    • sbranch says:

      Ohhh, I’m sorry … it actually doesn’t ever get better, because these people are in total conflict at all times and it really just gets worse! The plot gets more complicated as it goes, and some characters get a little better, and some a little worse, and other’s personalities blossom so you get a better understanding of who they are, and begin to love and hate in even measure! This may not be your cup of tea!

  33. Happy Valentine’s Day Susan and Joe! I loved reading your wonderful post, especially loved reading and seeing the photos of the amazing Ragamuffin store!!
    Have a good one!! HUGS.

  34. Diane Cassano says:

    Were you on the Island when they were filming the movie Jaws way back when or was that before or after you arrived ?

  35. Joan Lesmeister says:

    The plaids are fabulous as are the pretty ladies in their coats! After last few weeks here, wellies would be wonderful, & of course a dog! Love month indeed – our 53rd anniversary we’ll be at the “Camellia Inn”! Happy Anniversary to you & Happy Birthday to your Mom! Love this blog! Happy Valentine’s Day to all! xoxo

  36. MJ says:

    Beautiful and interesting post. I’m confused though–I thought you went to Martha’s Vineyard in the month of March? I’ve been re-reading the book about
    it all. I love your stories and illustrations 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      HA! you are so right, I went March 5th! Was thinking Feb. 5th! Oh goodie, another anniversary to celebrate!

  37. Susan,
    Go to Stonewall Kitchens website and checkout the black cat collection!!! Mugs and other things made in England. Cute!!!

  38. Sue says:

    Dear Susan and Joe,

    I’m glad you’re on your way to Stowe, it’s beautiful there, you’re in a winter wonderland now and I’m guessing you’re on your way to the Trapp family lodge for a sleigh ride. ( The hills are alive…. with the sound of music…. and sleigh bells of course) I’m sure they serve wonderful meals, and there are lots of fun cozy pubs on the way up the mountain, I know there used to be when I used to ski there, a long time ago. I’m sorry you had to drive so many hours in a blizzard to get to where you were staying , but it’s magical to see Vermont looking like a Currier and Ives painting, and it would have been a let down if you went all that way to not get the full experience of Vermont in winter. If you can take the gondola up to the top of Mount Mansfield and see the snow covered trees on top would also be an amazing experience. I don’t know if they allow people to do that. Happy Valentines Day.
    Love Sue

  39. Bambi says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day Ms Susan. Thanks, this was a lovely post. I wrote Ragamuffin in my travel notes. Enjoy your day!

  40. Gail Brock ,Whittier, CA says:

    Happy anniversary and Valentines day. Thank you for sharing all of your travels in such a beautiful way.
    Hope that a film or TV deal is still in your future. I was watching The Blacklist on TV recently and Megan Boone reminded me of you. Pretty girl…thought that she’d be great to play your part.

  41. Shelley S. says:

    Happy Anniversary! Many more! Happy Valentine’s Day too.

    I smiled at the round of robins! They have been gathering at our birdbath and trees around sunset every night since January. Sometines there are as many as 30! I’m in the southwest USA, so I thought the just took a winter vacation here. (first winter in this house) Thanks for sharing!

  42. Debbie Vaky says:

    Hi, Susan: I have been away from the blog a bit and I have missed it and you! My daughter spent a semester in Edinburgh interning in Scottish Parliament which was the modern looking building at the end of the main road. We loved visiting that city while she was there and I do think I was in the Ragamuffin store!!! So, what channel is “A Place Like Home” on…we couldn’t find it in our directory, so maybe you are watching it on the internet? Thanks!!! Nice to be back!!!

  43. Debbie Boerger says:

    From my seat in Tampa, I am oozing (oozing??) yearning to be in snowy New England. Love your little quip, “Good bedside manor”, re possible slippery the drive. I know that feeling. Hope you get home soon with no ferry delays.
    Tom and I have criss crossed Vermont for years trying to see every single covered bridge and every single historic site over our 31 years exploring that area. We have good friends who live not too far from the Joseph Smith birthplace. They love to build and renovate houses. They are now perched on top of a small mountain among their gardens and apple trees. He’s retired from being a journalist nomad and now writing a book, she’s still working down in White River Junction. They were our next door neighbors for 10 years in the old neighborhood, Tampa, all of us urban homesteaders. They helped us so much, as this was their 4th or 5th home to renovate….and I mean they, and we, did most of it ourselves…..wiring, plumbing, foundation leveling, etc. Oh, those wonderful adventures…….
    Thank you, dear Sue, for the lovely Vermont adventure!!!!

    Debbie in Tampa….for now

  44. Debbie Boerger says:

    Holy guacamole, Sue, the Girlfriends are sooo glad to see on Twitter that you and Joe are home safe and sound!!!!! Rest well tonight, dear heart!!

    Debbie in Tampa….for now

  45. Kathy (in Rialto) says:

    Hi Susan…I know you’ll have a great visit here in our beautiful California. Since you’re without a deadline and spring is about to spring…I’m thinking this is a great time to consider the book you and I discussed a long time ago. I think it went something like this…”Spring Has Sprung” From the Heart of the Home. Spring Cleaning…Bouquets…Yummy food…etc etc. from Domesticity City. Loved the most recent post. A really fun armchair trek through England plaid. And the recent one on dogs was purrr-fect.

  46. Lida says:

    Happy anniversary, happy belated Valentine’s day!

    Yes, I am watching “a place call home”. I think our pbs is showing the 3rd season. Not quite as popular as Downton was but I really enjoy it. Not sure why it is a season behind. Also watching Victoria.

  47. Regina Carretta says:

    Susan – our beautiful country, our wonderful world….each morning I awaken to falsehoods, odd, manic comments, decisions from our new leadership…..I love to look back at all that brings color, light, calm, beauty, RESPECT, humor, animal spirits, world travel, snow, seasons, flowers, poetry, art, love, intelligence….that is you, my friend…..bringing it all to us, to share with us at this time in our shared lives… use all that art and beauty and respect to cut through the haze of falsehoods…..can we thank you, yet again….and again??

  48. Diana from San Francisco says:

    Susan, this is what I found –

    They also have a FB page –


    Hi Susan…I saw your question on Twitter about how long your next post should be…I’m not on twitter so couldn’t reply…I think you should make it as long as possible!!! I live so far away that I love seeing Vermont through your eyes. Just what I saw on Twitter was thrilling…can’t wait for your next post!!!

  50. Rayma J Halloran says:

    Loved seeing the photos of Edinburgh! I was there 2 years ago and it is one of my favorite cities! I missed that cute shop though, which is probably a good thing, I would’ve tried to bring half of it home! It’s not cold enough to be wearing woolen plaids in Los Angeles. One of my favorite things about Edinburgh was how nice, gentile, and polite that the people are. We walked up and down the Royal Mile and was amazed that we seldom heard people honking their horns and driving furiously in their quest to get someplace fast! Did you go into Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Castle?! What amazing historical places! They were both a treasure trove of real history! They even had a tea shop in Edinburgh Castle, so after touring it, we rested a bit snd had s lovely tea in the castle! I want to go back! Thanks for the memories, reminding me of that great city!

  51. Sheree McMahon says:

    I’m so glad you and your husband had a wonderful trip. I love the pictures! I cant wait to see the new calendars! I look forward to them every year. I buy the desk blotter for my desk, the mini wall for our bathroom and the big wall for our kitchen. that way I have happiness in all those rooms in our house : ) And a belated Happy anniversary and Valentine’s day! My husband Christopher (I sometimes call him Critter) and I have been together since we were 16 and 17 and we are now 57 and 58 so we have celebrated 40 Valentine’s Days!! He knows chocolate truffles are the way to my heart : )

  52. Wendy Zenor says:

    Happy Anniversary to you, Susan, and your sweet Joe!! My husband and I will be celebrating our 30th Anniversary next month!! 😉 So nice to have someone to share life with!! 🙂 I also loved all of the beautiful plaids in this post!! Thank you for sharing!! -Wendy Zenor

  53. allison,austin tx says:

    what a lovely mini-break,those vermontians must be hearty to live in that
    snow.What a magical place

  54. Laure says:

    Omygosh, Susan, thank you for the tip about “A Place to Call Home!” I’m going to start watching right now! <3

  55. Karen says:

    What a wonderful Sunday I’ve had reading this delightful blog post!! It did my heart good! Happy Anniversary to a darling couple!! XO!

  56. Alisa says:

    Wonderful pictures! Love the sleigh ride and the beautiful town!

    Love the wellies with the little dogs on them.

    Happy anniversary to you and Joe

  57. Betty says:

    Susan, I hope you see this because this is my favorite home design shopping spot in Edinburgh … where we often visit. Please check it out! And Happy Anniversary!

  58. Jeffrey says:

    The photos look great, are winter has been very mild this year (somewhat of a blessing). I love maple syrup and would love to try a bottle from Baker Farm. Visiting King Arthur Flour is on my bucket list!

  59. Kay Lundgren says:

    It is a gloomy day in Indiana, but warm so this was the perfect day to read your blog. I loved your adventure in Vermont-New England is one of few places in our beautiful country that I haven’t visited yet. I haven’t seen any robins here, but mother and father dove came flying around our front porch looking for shelves where they make their nests twice yearly. Have a great trip on the train.

  60. Tamah Taylor says:

    Susan, can’t wait to go to Vermont one day. Love the beautiful pictures! I bet the maple syrup is delicious too!

  61. Suzanne Maven says:

    Loved going “along” on your trip to beautiful Vermont! Thank you SO much, dearest Susan, for being SO generous in sharing your life with us….it takes an enormous amount of effort and a lot of your valuable time… is so appreciated, especially at this time of such unrest and anxiety in our world. You are my hero and a wonderful antidote to what’s happening to our country. Thank you! BTW, I also LOVE barns AND horses! Loved the sleigh ride!
    God Bless you and Joe….have a safe and wonderful trip west for your Mom’s birthday!

    • sbranch says:

      Well, we only have one life. We need to get as much joy from it as humanly possible. It’s much worse in other countries. Blessings on us all. xoxoxo Thank you Suzanne!

  62. Teresa Gonzales says:

    Love the Valentine’s Day trip to Vermont! Will have to try those places out. We were in the same storm-just in Western Massachusetts. We also have a red barn with a lighted star on it 🙂 Love, love, love England and Scotland! Hope you are having a good time in California!

  63. Sallie Flesher says:
    I am so very HAPPY that you announced the Mug Giveaway!!! I am in Love with your new MUGS! Wish me luck everybody😘!!

  64. Janet Hundley - Grafton, WI says:

    Looks like you gave the coat company the good old SB Bounce since the coat you have is sold out. Very cute, though.
    Happy Birthday to your mom and hope you and Joe have a safe trip.

  65. Renee Richter says:

    When I was there last April I bought a wonderful plaid crossbody purse and matching earmuffs. Very stylish I was. By any chance did you have a roast pork sandwich with cracklings at a little shop called OINK? Best pork I’ve ever eaten. That’s all they do, ROAST PORK!!!

  66. Marilyn Rogers says:

    Have a wonderful trip to California! Wish I lived closer to go see you 💕

  67. kathleen roberts says:

    OH mY! the new mugs!!!! in love..luv…LOVE! and please, please, do a magazine! like Daphne’s diary but from our own USA artist! you can include scrapping pages and stickers and all that good stuff. Please think about it! love you!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I do a magazine, but it has the name “blog” on it! 😜 Hardcover, I agree, is much more fun. But then I would never have time to write another book. Not so sure I’d love that. Wish they would get on with that cloning thing! Need more hands!

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