Hi Everyone, so sorry, I’ve been missing in action (and I do mean action!) ~ it’s been go-go-go everyday, and today is no different.  But I wanted to catch up,💞 say Happy Spring🌷, and show you a little of what’s been going on . . . MUSICA

I was reminded by Gill, one of our luv-lee Girlfriends, that Mothering Sunday (same as our Mother’s Day) is this Sunday in the UK ~ Kellee and I had just designed this crown which I’d put up on Twitter,  to show what we’ve been up to, promising the link . . . so, Happy Mother’s Day to our British Girlfriends, and to everyone else!  HERE‘s the link so you can print it out! We decorated ours in two ways: first, as shown above, by glueing on rick-rack for the tie . . .

… and second, by tying ribbon through the marked holes (you will see when you print it out). They fit everyone’s head, and they’re fun! And you know, everyone feels special in a crown.💖 And, here’s a little something delicious to help you celebrate . . .

Mother’s Day, as proposed by, Anna Jarvis, the Mother of Mother’s Day, “is a day of sentiment, not profit.”💞

Homemade pancake breakfast-in-bed, handpicked roadside wildflowers, or a homemade Coconut Layer Cake are most appropriate.🍰 And the occasional straw hat or teacup, I would say. Filled with springtime sentiment of love ever after.😍

To our UK Girlfriends: I hope this Sunday will be a day filled with flowers💐 and flowers🌷 and flowers🌸 and remembrance for everything that England has been through these last few days . . . nature is the healing thing, as you of all the people in the world, so obviously know. 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 And in solidarity, with prayers, and blessings, and gratitude for all we have, and best wishes from us to you.💞 I might add, people should not be messing with us.⚡️

It’s been a WONDERFUL trip for Joe and I. We’ve been up and down and across the state,  seeing people we love, to Arizona and back again, and a couple of weeks ago, along the way, we enjoyed this bright worm moon ~ I took this photo with my cell phone from our moving car ~ doesn’t it look like a painting? Love the purplish-pink color above the bushes.

And Barbara, our friend who is taking care of Jack at home, sent me THIS pic (from the Island) of the snow and the wild sea that she took with her phone. Way different weather here, and all beautiful.

Joe and I have had dueling cameras among the flowers . . . I’m taking a picture of him as he’s . . .

. . . taking a picture of me.

Early morning in our garden here at the Studio, long shadows from the Albizzia tree, still too early for blooms . . . but the jasmine that climbs on our house and over the doors (on the right of photo) is blooming and smells wonderful. Loving that the days are getting longer now . . .

From the front porch, you can see that what isn’t green, is yellow . . .

We had a wonderful book signing at the Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo . . . I have so much old time history with the Apple Farm . . . and now they are carrying lots of my books and products and things.  They could Not have made it nicer for us. They even saved us a parking space . . . this is the view from our parking space!

And this is me with some of their wonderful staff!

And here we are inside the tent . . . It was the BEST day! As usual, the nicest people in the world come to my book events. ❤️ As anyone who was there can tell you, I’m not exaggerating.

And while I signed books, Joe took pictures . . .

If you remember the “Pancakes” story from years ago, about my mom and her red lipstick … That’s Murph (who wrote the story) on the left, and Vicki’s on the right . . . along with two friends they met in the line . . . which is why I always wish I was in the line! They have so much fun out there!

Two Girlfriends came dressed in Black Dog T-shirts in honor of Joe and the restaurant he ran on Martha’s Vineyard for 25 years. Pretty sweet!

Father’s and daughters . . .

Two best-friends-for-life . . .

Old friends and new . . . I could show these smiling faces all day . . .

‘Course I’m always nervous talking in front of people, even our Girlfriends!  I do it all with clammy hands. It’s because I work alone for months, then suddenly I’m out and about, which is always a surprise, no matter how often it happens, which really isn’t that often. But everyone was so wonderful and their questions made it easy.

I had so much fun, in the end they almost had to get the hook to make me go. 

We had a mystery guest star in the audience. Cliff came! Cliff, for those who don’t know, is a very controversial “character” from my books The Fairy Tale Girl, and Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.  But he was there ~ laughing, saying nice things, and as sweet as pie. No red Ferrari this time, he was quite incognito in his silver Maserati. But you could recognize him from the little speck of blood on his hand from the tree trimming. The more things change . . . We have his fun book in our web store, did I tell you? We do, Cliff’s memoir is called American Made, it’s a wonderful funny baby boomer book, and I’m in it too . . . although he was much nicer to me than I was to him.  And don’t worry, he and Joe like each other, they get along fine, they even man-hug! (Urban Dictionary defines Man-Hug as “a semi-embrace that lasts no more than one second and may be accompanied by a firm slap on the back.”) The two guys have a lot in common: in their lives they have both been bedeviled by the same woman. Hey, it’s my job!

One of the first things I did when I got to the Studio is fill a tiny vase (a child’s teacup) with some little things growing in our garden. It’s my doily mentality that makes me do this, I can’t help it. I thought I would show you just how much of a garden California really is! A little arm-chair travel ~ a lot like traveling to England, only this time, it’s California. Are you ready? Need tea? Go get it, we’ll wait!

So let’s start by getting our bearings. Here we are, on the Central Coast of California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco … on that coastal road called Highway One, or Pacific Coast Highway. Very famous and very beautiful. Joe and I are staying just south of San Luis Obispo, and yesterday we drove up to Morro Bay for lunch. Just above that, you can see Cayucos, and above that, see the white star? That’s where we were going. And P.S., fyi, just above that, see Cambria? Heaven little town you won’t want to miss when and if you go. Lots of antiques there and good milling around town. Then of course, Hearst Castle at San Simeon, is just above that! Across from the entry to Hearst Castle is one of the best beach walks I’ve ever been on. Just follow up that hill you see when you get there, and around to the point. You can’t miss it. It’s almost prehistoric. And one more thing, above that is famous Big Sur. Astoundingly beautiful, but the road is closed now ~ the storms wiped out a bridge, and there’s no way in, except by helicopter!

The drive from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay looks like this (I think most people think of the coast of California as more of a city place, but, as you can see, it’s really not. . .)

If you ever make this trip, you HAVE to stop at the Bayside Cafe in Morro Bay . . .

. . . where you’re surrounded with the fragrance of eucalyptus trees . . . because they are everywhere on the coast here . . . and the smell of the sea . . .

This is the view from our table at Bayside Cafe . . . hence, the name Bayside.

This photo is slightly pink because of the sun through the umbrella over our head, but the food (cheese enchiladas with homemade salsa) is heavenly, and don’t even try to leave there without having their famous Tres Leche Cake (we ate it before I remembered to take a picture, sorry! But it’s a lot like my favorite Hot Milk Cake), a recipe I’ve lusted after for 30 years, but all the begging in the world has not worked with them. Actually, I secretly hate/love them, but will never stop going there and eating that cake. Yum!

Then up the coast we drove . . . Beach Boys, Kokomo on the radio, the perfect musica for this road!

You can see Morro Rock, famous landmark,  situated in the Pacific Ocean in the center of the photo, amongst the artsy highway flora . . .

Here’s a better photo of it. Morro Rock is part of the Nine Sisters, beautiful extinct volcanos that go all the way into SLO.  You can see people walking on the beach down there. You could be one of them if you played your cards right.

Here are some of the famously Happy Cows of California. You can see why!

And here we are, in the parking lot of our destination . . .

Harmony Headlands . . .

And this is us, doing the thing we love the best, on the road less traveled . . .

Off we go, cool breezes off the water blowing . . . slowing down to smell the green things growing . . .

And stepping carefully when encountering some of the lingering effects from the recent wild storms that hit the coast . . .

After maybe a 45 minute walk from the parking lot, we got our first glimpse of the sea . . .

And there it was, off in both directions, the long coastal path . . . you could go forever amongst the wildflowers along the craggy shoreline with the sound the waves and the birds . . .

This little guy followed us for a while, singing his head off (scroll down a bit on my Twitter Page, and hear him singing, and see a video of the coast line) ~ he stood still for a photo, then ran away into the bushes with his girlfriend.

That’s Joe out there, and I’m taking this photo looking in the opposite direction from the first one of the shoreline path, so you can see the drama of the long view . . .

While the waves roll in and the wildflowers bend in the wind . . . By the way, I should say, this is all free. No money changed hands. State Park Property, open to the public. Thank you, California State! You did good! And God! You too! It takes a village!

Getting up close and personal with the wild wood sorrel which grows everywhere on this coastline . . .

and the lupin, too . . .

All so beautiful, and so many different wildflowers . . . look HERE . . .

And they’d only just begun . . . ah spring!Time Out! Celebrate the change of season with a new bookmark from us to you . . . being home with Kellee, we’ve had some fun!

Then it was time to go back . . . one look behind . . .

Past another pair of happy walkers . . . all smiles . . .

I looked down and saw this heart-shaped rock pressed into the path . . . and thought how appropriate it was …

On the way home we stopped in San Luis Obispo at the home of some dear old friends, to catch the perfect sky as the sun began to go down  . . .

The view over the farmlands and vineyards was so pretty, everything so green . . . can you believe this amazing sky? Me either!

They have a hot tub, I believe is called an “infinity” tub, for the obvious reason. Life is berry berry good in San Luis Obispo, California!

What else? Well, Kellee and I have been cleaning out the goat barn here (i.e. the warehouse where we store everything), we found lots of my stuff old enough to be categorized now as “vintage.”  So watch for lots of new/old stuff in the Vintage part of our web store . . . it’s all very one of a kind, last of everything, lots of Christmas stuff (when the time comes). We thought we’d maybe put it on eBay or Etsy, but we thought we better show you first!  Just in cases!

We found a tiny bit of this  . . .

We found a cake plate!

Just one.

And then there’s this: It was a special request from someone at the book signing who said, “Could you please make us a chicken bookmark?” So, Yes, I can! I can’t do everything, but that is something I CAN do! And HERE it is! Just click, print it on card stock, and if you want, get it laminated at Kinko’s or Office Max. Makes a good gift for girlfriends, or stocking stuffer for the chicken people in your life.🐔

In action, it looks like this . . . (and yes, we have a couple of Kitchen Garden books in Vintage, for as long as they last).🌷

And since we were all sold out, and since we loved it so much and heard such good things from our other Girlfriends, we reordered this wonderful book, the New York Times best seller called,  The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh . . .

It’s filled with original illustrations and photos . . .

And delightful history and charm . . .

That everyone is loving . . . 💞 If you haven’t read it yet, I know you will love it.

Okay, let’s see, what else is new around here?

A new book! You might know that sometimes I license my artwork to a company called New Seasons? They make products with my art and this is our new Gratitude Book.

It has a padded cover and it’s embossed . . .

Seventy-five pages filled with my hand-drawn quotes and my art from over the years . . .

A little fun quote book that won’t be around forever, but while it is, we wanted you to know.💙

It looks really pretty with our MOM Book . . .

Where mom’s can give us a lovely bit of lifetime Herstory . . . if you haven’t seen this, it’s also a book from New Seasons ~ a guided book in full color where I asked all kinds of interesting questions about memories of growing up, childhood, school days, romance and having children, and left places for photos. The pages are lined, on nice paper with a ribbon divider. A pretty book, but when it’s all filled in, it becomes a priceless treasure.💞

Well, see what happens when I don’t write often?  I write L  O  N  G !   Sorry . . . this is all because I decided to “catch up!”

One more thing, I got the NICEST letter from a new Girlfriend named Marcy . . . see below . . . I thought you might like to see it . . . it’s her take on Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams … I love how she says she was having tea with Ellie!💞

Off we go, making more memories, we leave on Sunday to go visit my mom and sisters again . . . then back on the train at the end of next week, and home to Martha’s Vineyard for our second spring this year. How Lucky can you Get?  Hope you liked your armchair travel! Enjoy your early spring days darling friends, and thank you for all your wonderful comments. Love visiting with you!

Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, Letter from Marcy:

Oh my. I wanted to finish the book but, I didn’t want to. While reading it, I was a part of it. I was on Martha’s Vineyard, I was watching you build a home, I was having tea with Ellie, I was scowling at Cliff. I didn’t want it to end. Side note – I’ve ordered the other two books in the series! Anyway, I don’t write letters (ok, type) but, felt the need to let you know I’ve always had your cookbooks and other books (Girlfriends, Baby Love, etc) but, never thought MV was the kind of book I’d enjoy. Whaaat? Stupid me. When I got my last Barnes and Noble 20% off a single item coupon I said, “why not?” And now, your book is my all time favorite book ever! Don’t get too excited, I’m not a huge reader. However, that should tell you I choose my books VERY carefully. Anyway, after all my years of enjoying your art through scrapbooking and cookbooks, I have LOVED reading about how it all came to be. And, I am so happy that I can still be connected to you long after the book is read. I enjoy your newsletter and website very much.

So, thank you for writing and sharing with the rest of us. For pointing out the healing powers of jammies, tea, kitties, old movies, old books, snow storms and sunshine, cozy fires and cozy beds and girlfriends and the right guy. I loved every page, every word, every picture, every quote.

Marcy Brenner

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578 Responses to GO-GO-GO and HAPPY SPRING

  1. Linda Maxwell says:

    Read your three diary books and even though I don’t cook you reminded me of myself. I thoroughly enjoyed all the books and will keep them forever. When I was newly married and in my first old farmhouse I was bored and painted and stenciled the oil tank in the basement. Imagine my husbands surprise when he saw a white oil tank with roses on it.

    Keep making the world a prettier place. Love you.

  2. Sherri Fabbri says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I’ve always enjoyed your blogs, but this one is extra special to me as it is the area my parents live in; and I miss it so much when I can’t get there at least once a year! 💕 I love all the artwork and the beautiful pictures you take! It’s nice to know about a place in Morro Bay I haven’t been to yet as my parents tend to always take me to Dorns. I’m going to make sure we go to the Bayside Cafe next time!🍤 I love that Winnie the Pooh book, and plan to order it. Thanks for showing that! What a beautiful view of SLO from your friends house! I’m sorry I didn’t make it to see you at the Apple Farm, I really hoped to!😢 Hopefully there’ll be another time! Have a lovely visit with your family and trip back home! Fondly, Sherri (from Modesto)

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve been to Dorn’s many times. But the Bayside, has the lovely addition of seagull sounds! Happy Spring, Sherri. I’m SURE we’ll be back! xoxo

  3. Rose Utterback says:

    It was wonderful hearing of your trip to San Luis Obispo area. I was just there a few weeks ago and enjoyed the show at Madonna Inn where they raise money for the Women’s Shelter. Love the ares–Cambria, Paso Robles, Morro Bay, etc. Hope your trip home is wonderful.

  4. Nancy says:

    Loved your mid state photos. My mom lives down there (I live in the SF bay area), and so the area is also my stomping ground….I hope you enjoyed the wild flowers…I have so been enjoying our poppies that are in extra abundance with all the rain we had this year…Thanks for sharing!

    • sbranch says:

      We have some poppies in bloom, but I think that after we go, it will be a carpet. Everything is just beginning on the Central Coast.

  5. Cheryl from Lake Arrowhead says:

    My husband and I were at Apple Farm last weekend and so enjoyed the event! He was the one who spoke of our upcoming trip to the UK and the Lake District in May. Your “cozy letter to all of us girlfriends” is always a very welcome read and I enjoyed your gorgeous pictures of “our” beautiful state of California! Where else can you be 2 hours from the desert, an alpine lake and the Pacific Ocean? Safe travels back to the Vineyard.

  6. Alice says:

    What a refreshing read! It’s as if I were there as you described the details of each place you went. Even though I don’t comment often, I so enjoy reading your stories and look forward to each and every one. The rush of excitement I feel on opening my email to see a post from you fills me with delight. Then I’m lost in a different world for awhile. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to give an update.

  7. Di Word says:

    Loved today’s blog. The weather here in Waco, Texas is lovely, and my corgi and I have spent the entire day outside. I’m still singing Kokomo. I am so happy to be one of your girlfriends.

    • sbranch says:

      All days must be perfection when there is a Corgi nearby. xoxo Kokomo to you with love from me!

  8. carmel says:

    So lovely to see your wonderful post, Sue. Most of all, I’m grateful you have this opportunity to visit with your beloved mom and other loved ones. I so appreciated all the most beautiful photos of my former much loved home state (I’m now in Arlington, VA – another beautiful state). Now I definitely have to do another CA coastal trip in the near future to satisfy this home sickness I’m feeling. Thank you, thank you for the darling Mother’s Day crown and those fabulous book markers! And for taking the time to provide the pancake recipe for us – sounds delicious. By the way, I guess I must be “vintage” because I have those post-its! I use your products sparingly and still have some. Funny. Blessings on your travels.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I’m always homesick too! Comes with the territory. But we have this lucky thing, to live in, have lived in, two places we love so much! xoxo

      • carmel says:

        I’ve never thought of it that way. How wonderful to count it as another great blessing in my life. Thank you so much, Sue, for taking the time to remind me.

  9. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    How I enjoy your blog posts. I adored the picture of you taking a picture of Joe and him taking a picture of you, how adorable that was. What a sweet letter also, loved it. California sure is beautiful, the pictures were gorgeous. Enjoy the rest of your time there Susan***

  10. Marilyn says:

    Hello Susan, and Happy Spring from southern California. Could you please furnish a link for your Gratitude book? I did a search online, and couldn’t find it. Thanks so much. I’m glad you’re enjoying your trip!

    • sbranch says:

      So sorry Marilyn, I’ll go put it on the post, but HERE IT IS . . . the link to the Gratitude Book, just scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll see it there.

      • Vicki says:

        Darn, I missed it or I would have never ordered from Amazon but instead you first, Susan. I wanted to buy another for a friend anyway, so I’ll order the second one from you.

  11. Gill says:

    Thank you,dear Susan, for sending out the Mother’s Day crown! I have my oldest ,bestest girlfriend here on a short visit and we shall wear our crowns together for breakfast tomorrow. We have been friends over forty years now, and still feel like the young girls we were when we met at primary school, with braids and pigtails, ribbons and bows. This is the first Mothering Sunday since she lost her beloved mother (who was also especially dear to me) and so I am really glad to have her here with me. And she adores chickens, so I will be printing out the bookmark too! 😊 Thank you again, and have a safe and lovely journey back to MV.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank YOU for reminding me Gill! I bet you were cute this morning! Hugs to you both. And thank you again! xoxo

  12. Karen Saunders says:

    I’m so glad you are having such a good time!!! I was so looking forward to coming down to see you but I couldn’t make it. Hopefully next time. I have been spending as many days as I can in my new studio painting every day…..A task I really am enjoying. I figure I better get started before I’m too old to hold a paint brush!! Time is whizzing by and I’m getting frantic!!! My birthday is almost here and it seems to me I just haven’t accomplished the things I’ve wanted to…..so I have to live vicariously through you dear friend!! That helps following you on your wonderful adventures. Just once however I would like to stand in Nepal and look at the wonder of the Himalayas…..they must be the most magnificent thing in the world to see. Now I am going to order one of your books…💜💜💜

  13. Nancy says:

    What a lovely blog. It is perfect to read when it is a cold and dreary day here in Edina, Minnesota. It is such fun to share your trips. We are going to London early in June to celebrate a very big birthday for me and the sixteenth birthday for my granddaughter. It will be my fourth time in London and we are excited already.

  14. Kelly Machnov says:

    Hello Susan from your Walnut Creek Girlfriend,

    Read your blog entry and first I want to extend my heartfelt wishes to all the U.K. girlfriends. 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧My heart goes out to the families and friends of all that were affected by the tragedy this past week. May Britain 🇬🇧and the US 🇺🇸stay strong together and find heart and love amongst the many who support the U.K.❤️

    Your blog entry reminded me of a sailing adventure ⛵️⚓️my Dad and I took in a 28 ft. sailboat down the CA Coast. We left Santa Cruz and arrived in Marina Del Rey with a side trip to Catalina Island in 13 days! It was definitely an adventure and seeing the photos you took from your current adventure took me right back to that trip. Thank you!

    One side note – Dorn’s Cafe 🍽 in Morro Bay was a favorite during our stopover after being near slammed down while rounding Morro Rock.

    I hope you and Joe have a wonderful time the rest of your trip, and keep writing 📝. Love reading your entries.

    Safe journey. 🌷🌻🌷

    Love & Peace,


  15. Ellen Eastman says:

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane – nothing better than spring on the central California coast. The road to Morro Bay from SLO still looks the same as it did when I was a kid. (A very long time ago.) As a kid we would take Sunday drives up the coast to see the wildflowers. Did I say it still looks the same?
    And the shocker – Cliff? OMG – He looks OLD! (Sorry, I am still in shock.)
    Hugs to you and Joe.

    • sbranch says:

      He is 3 years younger than me! LOL, gray hair, but he’s still Cliff. San Luis has gotten quite sophisticated, and the FOOD in Arroyo Grande? Amazing! It’s changed, but it’s the same too. xoxo

  16. Nan says:

    Your post was worth the long wait! So lovely to see the sunshine. We’ve had a particularly wet winter, and we’re still awaiting springtime. I awoke this morning to some glorious, albeit chilly sun, and went straightaway to wash my car. Not two minutes after I pulled away from the car wash, the rains began again. But my family is happy and healthy, and for that I’m grateful, and rain is a mere nuisance. More time for winter hygge in these parts. Glad you’re enjoying your California home with friends and family.

  17. Beverly Phillips says:

    I know just how Marci feels. I finished Isle of Dreams recently, and immediately wanted to read it again. You seem like the kind of neighbor I could drop in on without calling. And I wish you were that neighbor. I had a nice surprise this afternoon after returning home after visiting an uncle in rehab. On the front porch was a package. It’s Fairy Tale Girl! So yay!

  18. Jody says:

    Looks like you’re having a ball! Fun stuff everywhere.
    Thank you for sharing the chicken bookmark. I keep chickens so I like it. Is it you who told us the story of Nancy Luce? I read about it somewhere and I think it might have been here. Great story.

    Happy Springtime, Susan.

  19. Laura K. Eveland-Swanson says:

    I just love your blog posts!! A wonderful long “catch you up” letter from a best friend!!!

    Hugs, Laura

  20. Sally Roth says:

    Susan, thank you for such a delightful post. It reminds me to honour my English family and friends on Mothering Sunday, and it was nice of you to refer to the events this week in London.
    Your photos are heavenly of that part of the west coast, and the wildflowers there which are blooming like mad in Tucson right now after all the rain this spring.
    Thanks too for the Crocus bookmark and I can’t wait to order your Gratitude Book. Enjoy your train ride home with Joe, and your reunion with Jack and your MV friends. I look forward to seeing photos of your east coast springtime next. Best wishes and Gratitude always.
    PS: Remember “Earth Hour” tonight, candles only from 8:30 pm for an hour!

    • sbranch says:

      Earth Hour! Love it. We did good, we left the house and no lights or candles were on here. We went into Arroyo Grande for a magnificent dinner at Mason. YUM.

      • Sally Roth says:

        Well done! We kept the lights off for more than an hour, just using 3 candles. I tried to order your Gratitude book, and found it’s out of stock. Will you get more in, I wonder?

  21. Deborah Winter says:

    Thank you Susan. I went to San Luis Obispo whenever you had your darling store! I loved every minute of that trip and still have some of your lemon-thyme bubble bath by the way among other things. I stayed on Moonstone Beach as I also visited San Simeon/Hearst Castle; great memories.

  22. I love seeing the photo of you at your book signing: looking A-DORE-ABLE! The Fine Romance Trilogy is the BEST. Thank you for sharing it.

  23. Marilyn Young says:

    Susan, OMGosh, I was so surprised to see Cliff in the audience! I like that you two had that young love but was angry at him for treating you badly. Now I think he’s probably sad that you left him and have so much mature love for Joe and Joe is the final winner! Because I had an experience much the same, I understand how it was when you were young, and again how it is now because I had a wonderful second much more mature love and I treasure both! In the second life, we lived in Atascadero, roamed all the places you put in your latest letter to all of us, and it was just great, I mean really great, when I saw you two were at the Bayside Cafe! That was our all time favorite place to eat on the Coast. We often stayed at the Morro Bay RV Park and would walk across to the Bayside Cafe for dinner. How we loved that place. We ate at the Apple place in SLO too and goodness knows were all over every place you mentioned! Isn’t life grand when your first love and your last love can come together in friendship! I still have family in SLO County and get to go over there when my kids take me for a spin, but it’s not near often enough and I don’t get to see every place I want too, but it’s always enough. Sorry I missed your book signing this trip, doggone it. Hoping your Mom and you had a great visit. It’s always hard, but necessary for you to have these special moments. I’m going to your store right now to see if the cakeplate is still there for me! Love you

    • sbranch says:

      You stayed in the RV park? I LOVE that place. If ever I was to go camping, that is the place I would want to do it. The eucalyptus trees are so wonderful there!

  24. Irene brown says:

    Thank you for the lovely California journey that reminds us here in Michigan trying hard to get to spring that it will happen.

    A friend, Irene

  25. Mary S. says:

    Oh, no!! I just went to order GRATITUDE, and was told it’s out of stock! Will more be made available, or was this a “once they’re gone, they’re gone” sort of thing?
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  26. Linda Pintarell says:

    LOVE this post. Just too much to comment on so I will just say THANK YOU. Yesterday attended a wonderful event the “girlfriends” would have so enjoyed. At The Grand Tea Room in Escondido, California – they did a full-on theatre play of Jane Austin’s EMMA. Right in the middle of the tea room; professional actors; over 3 hours long; AND served high tea. Quite a fantastic experience.

  27. Priscilla says:

    Wonderful post Susan! We’ve spent SO much time where you are showing on the post today. We’ve also discovered the mineral springs at Avilla Beach…OMG!! They’re fabulous! Now we take the train from San Diego up to Goleta, rent a car & finish the trip by car. We never have to drive through LA again!! I love your descriptions of the countryside. It’s all so accurate! Beautiful post today…thanks

    • sbranch says:

      That is exactly the way I would do it too. That LA drive is just not the way to go!! But from Goleta on, it’s paradise! xoxo

  28. Marita Clark says:

    I have a good dose of spring fever & California dreamin’! 🙂

  29. Janet Johnson says:

    Wow, I need to get out of Georgia and go visit the other side of this country! The photos of the sea in California are so beautiful – I saw a glimpse of it as I passed through California to China to get my daughters in China, but didn’t get to see the wild part or spend any time there. And oh that infinity pool with it’s heavenly view – how I would love to soak in that and feel serene and quiet for a while. It sure is a different landscape from whence you came, but since it has already been in the 80s here I would love to dive into that snow! Glad you got to visit your mom and enjoy a different scene for a while. I know Jack and Girl will be glad to see you!

    • sbranch says:

      We are in “going home” mode now. Our trains leaves on Thursday. Hard to go, it’s been so wonderful. And more visits with my mom these next days makes it perfect.

  30. Amy Lee from Salem says:

    Hi Susan. What a lovely time you and Joe seem to be having. Wanted to remark about “just in cases”, love that and I often say it myself. Wanted to share with you that every season I rotate my books, in a little group, on top a cabinet. I always include one of your books. That way I reread my favorites. Have safe travels home.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s a very good idea! And like you, I was saying just in cases to myself every time I said just in case. One day I put it in the blog, and we all came out of the closet!!!😃 This is why we are kindred spirits!

  31. Sally says:

    I shouldn’t have read your blog so late (it’s 1am), because now I don’t want to go to sleep. I want those pancakes! Yumilicious! … Beautiful posting, as always. V. Many thanks.

  32. Sonya Hewes says:

    Loved this blog and I’m sure like everyone else when you pointed out Cliff, our mouths dropped. Lol
    I have a pen pal in California since the time I was in 6th grade and we are still friends and chat to this day and I went to visit her for the first time when I was a flight attendant and she took me to Morro Bay (among other places) and we also stopped at Bayside Cafe. I can’t remember what we had though, it was so many years ago. Love that area for sure. Happy Spring to you and Joe! ♥

  33. Vicki says:

    I’m trying to tap down my feelings of fleeting frustration right now! (I keep telling myself, ‘get over it, Vicki!’…) I had long since bought my ticket for the Apple Farm, had the whole weekend planned (even taking the dog with us), was all set (after your talk on Saturday and our stay overnight in SLO) to go north on Sunday morning to Cambria…and two days before we were set to take off for SLO, what happens but I injure my knee…I’m talking can’t-walk-with-the-knee kind of knee. Hurts to stand; hurts when I sit; hurts when I prop it. Misery; something to do with something called the meniscus. Starting physical therapy on Monday.

    I held out hope I could still travel comfortably but, in the end, no…and, of course, it was too late to even give my ticket away; just no time. Huge disappointment for me. I look at the faces under that tent and they look just like me; I wanted to be there. I was supposed to be there! Ah well, I hope there’s a next time, Susan and I’m glad it was a successful afternoon for you and the girlfriends (and guyfriends). If I’d been there and seen Cliff, I might have passed out, as I read about him via you with a lot of fascination and I did subsequently read his book, which I thought was very good. I can’t imagine what an interesting and intriguing young guy he must have been but, as you have said, time marches on.

    Anyway, although I scrolled through them with a deep sigh, feeling a wee bit sorry for myself, I’m so glad you posted the gorgeous photos of Harmony and the various Central Coast environs because I could at least lap them up through your eye. Is there anything more beautiful than all that green and the sea? I’m sure wildflowers in April are going to be awesome. Wow, you have excellent Spring timing! Thank you for giving us a view. I’m typing this at some ungodly hour with an ice pack on my knee because sleep is elusive with this thing. Your post as always is the perfect tonic, though.

    Have a great trip home. I have to ask…is it okay to ask? Did Cliff surprise you? Did you know he’d be there? Any advance notice? I know you’ve said you’ve long since mended fences.

    • Vicki says:

      Some time back…I mean, it was a WHILE ago, I bought a book called The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook (because I collect cookbooks [although I don’t cook {I know, I know…}]…and I think I love Martha’s Vineyard although I’ve never been there [it’s okay, laugh out loud, go ahead]). The photo in your post of the ladies wearing the Black Dog shirts prompted me to remember that, so I looked it up on the web just now, as all my books are packed while we’re remodeling, so it’s not here for me to refer to directly but, yes, that’s the title and I remember the book cover. So this book is about the same place that Joe managed, correct? It’s pretty famous!

      • sbranch says:

        Very! Joe did that book. We even had a joint book signing on the Cape! If you find it, you’ll see pics of him in it. It’s not the same as it was then, but it was QUITE the place in the 90s.

    • sbranch says:

      Sorry to miss you, Vicki. Hope your knee is better soon. It will happen again someday, I’m sure. And yes, Cliff did tell me he was going to be there. So I had a feeling. Long ago mended fences, that’s so true. After all, I moved away in 1982! Took me a while to see that it wasn’t him I mourned so much as it was the dream of what I thought life was going to be. That was the one that took some time, then I had to make my own dream. It helps when you find someone who has the same dream as you, and that’s Joe!

      • Vicki says:

        Ah, the things that are meant to be! I get that. Being forced to switch course. You were very brave, Susan. Hope is powerful. Reinvention is, too.

  34. sylvia in seattle says:

    California is so beautiful. Love the wild flowers, the path to and along the ocean, the Eucalyptus trees. I’ve never been there for the green Spring time scenery. So thanks for sharing. I was bemused to see Cliff in your audience 🙂 I think that’s the word . . . Getting unusual e-mails from my own ex. I must check in with the planets! Happy travels wending your way back East.

  35. Karen Williams says:

    Hi Susan,
    Happy Mothering Sunday to all…and what a beautiful one it is here in Blighty this morning!
    The sun is shining, the daffydowndillys are nodding their sunshiney heads in the breeze and there’s washing blowing on the line…good to be alive especially after a frightening few days in London, for the many who live and work there.

    So pleased to see you’re having such a wonderful time in California…it looks stunningly beautiful, Susan. Lurve the goodies you have ‘found’ again and luckiest peeps who purchased the cake plate…have never had cake-plate-envy before now!!!!! 😂

    Have wondered what San Luis Obispo was like after a dear friend told me about it…she loves it there and hopes to go back.

    Martha’s Vineyard is on my bucket list (as well as actually getting over the Pond to America at all!!!). Husband is starting ve ve early, EARLY retirement next Saturday so we hope to start taking holidays very soon!
    Fabbie blog again with fabbie comments from everyone!
    Keep doing what you keep doing, Susan and Joe!
    Karen xoxoxoxo


    • sbranch says:

      Happy Mothering Sunday to you too Karen, thank you for the lovely comments. So happy to hear the daffydowndillys are shining for you all in the UK today! Take a deep breath of that rarefied air for me! xoxo

  36. Helen Edwards says:

    I hope they are working on repairing the road to Big Sur! We are planning another California trip next year to visit my Jennifer and the Farallon islands off the coast of California where you might see whales, and will definitely see sea birds of all kinds. The second part of that trip we want to head down the coast again. It was nice to have some new suggestions for places to visit like Morro Rock and the Harmony Headlands. You are correct that California has done a wonderful job with beautiful places to see that are free. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  37. Ginette Wheeler says:

    Lovely post! My printer was going crazy in the next room as I enjoyed gazing at all the beauitful pictures of wonderful California and reading all the adventures you two have had while knowing what sweet “gifts” waited for me to laminate, thank you! Sending out lots of graditude and fondness hoping you and Joe will continue to enjoy your time there and a safe trip home to Martha’s Vineyard…see you on Twitter! XOXO

  38. Sharon Byars of North Carolina says:

    Thank you for my walk down memory lane. Moved out of Morro Bay 3 years ago for the East Coast. Loving the change. Harmony was one of my many hiking spots and the Bayside Cafe was a good choice. You timed your trip well there for the ‘green’ after such a long drought. Safe travels home.

  39. Judy from KC says:

    I think a photo of you and your Mum with the crowns on is in order❤️👑
    Thanks for keeping us close in your travels , always love tagging along.

  40. Susan Bochman says:

    Oh, Susan, I loved seeing you in your adorable dress at the book signing. It made me homesick for when we were at Stourhead. I have a picture that I took of you standing alone in that dress and it captures your beautiful soul. Bob and I will be in your lovely home state in the middle of April and we will be in the area that you have mentioned in the blog. Will take your good advice and visit your suggestions. Enjoy your trip home.

    • sbranch says:

      Funny, I even call that dress my “Stourhead Dress!” Such wonderful memories of that day! Lucky, with what I’ve been eating, that I can still fit into it! You will love this area, Susan, so much to see, the little towns are wonderful here. Have a wonderful time!

  41. iley burkett says:

    That letter says it all. I have shared your books this last month with friends and we are starting a Fan Club. Those crowns are perfect.
    Thank you Susan.
    Iley Burkett from Overland Park, KS.

    • sbranch says:

      OH! That is so sweet Iley! If and when you do, please tell everyone I said hello! I need to make crowns for everyday! xoxo

  42. Candice says:

    Your California trip is truly wonderful! Thank you for sharing your “other” Home Sweet Home” with all of us! Gorgeous photos, you sure do know the best places to visit!! I am so glad that California finally got the rain that was so badly needed…it is beautiful. I have been following along on Twitter and loving every minute of your travels. I love the new books and your newest creations, the mugs!! Be-still my heart!! I will have to save up my pennies for one of them! I love English china mugs, they are the best for tea drinking!! Continue on safe travels and Happy Spring!!
    Hugs, Candice

  43. Robyn Genau says:

    As always. Thank you.

  44. Kathie Turin says:

    I’m a California girl, and if my husband hadn’t passed away quite a few years ago we would now be living in either SLO or Paso Robles. They were our very favorite places and we almost moved to Moro Bay when our boys were still quite young, had the lot picked out that looked out onto Moro Rock! Unfortunately, or fortunately, we decided to stay in S CA for a while longer and bought a home in San Dimas. Taking your trip up the coast and especially to Moro Bay and Harmony was simply divine, I shed a few tears and let myself be overcome with happy memories. You must go back over a Mother’s Day and do the Paso Robles Wine Festival, starting in the wonderful park in the center of town and then moving out into the wineries and vineyards the next day. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  45. So wonderful to read about your journey and it looks like you have a terrific time. Best wishes Christel Jensen

  46. Jeannie says:

    Oh Susan, what a special trip you and Joe are having! I always love seeing the view of Morro rock! What a beautiful spring they are having after all that rain! I hope I am able to get out to Ca again some day soon, and can pull myself away from Huntington Beach and Laguna to drive up the coast, I hope they are repairing the bridge on I 1 to Carmel, I love that drive! enjoy your mom and family this week and have a fun trip back to the Vineyard! Love all the archive things you pulled out!
    Tweet Tweet,

    • sbranch says:

      I think they’re working on the bridge . . . many people are stranded there! But what a place to be stranded, no tourists! But their economy must be in free fall.

  47. Susan Hebert says:

    Cambria is such a wonderful place. My husband and I honeymooned there and one day rode our bikes up to the beach in front of San Simeon where the elephant seals and their babies were resting.

    It’s also very special, if you drive down Highway 1 from the SF Bay Area, to see the zebras of San Simeon grazing in fields alongside the road!
    Come down to northern San Diego county sometime, Susan, where there’s more CA to love.

  48. Theresa from South Lake Tahoe says:

    Thanks so much for this! I love the central coast anyway and I so enjoyed seeing all your photos and reading about Spring (somewhere, anywhere 😍), just beautiful! I’m happy we had, and are still having, a real winter ❄️ this year (yes, it’s snowing today) but flowers are months away for us 😬. Hmmm, I think you’ve inspired a road trip!

  49. Gill Smith says:

    Wonderful post Susan, so good to know you and Joe have had a wonderful trip. Safe journey back home. We’ve had a lovely sunny warm day here in Devon U.K. For celebrating Mothers Day.the daffodils and tulips are an amazing sight, and brightens the atmosphere after an awful few days in London.
    Thank you for another super bookmark, so cute.
    Gill Smith UK X

  50. Kari says:

    Hi Susan!
    What a fun, newsy post from you and all of the pictures of the ocean and wildflowers are just beautiful. You and Joe do so many wonderful things together and the icing on the cake is how you share it with all of us! Thank you, dear Susan! Happy Spring!!

  51. Christie Levin says:

    Hello dearest Sue, Happy California Sunday to you and Joe. The photos here shine with your usual unusual magic and happily transport us along with you…what places you go! I’m still smiling from the lovely, happiness-filled day I enjoyed last weekend with my granddaughter Jordan, and my friend/co-grandma Linda on our fabulous SBGF Road Trip to SLO to see our favorite artist~author~Queen-of-Girlfriends Susan Branch♡♡♡ Susan, you are truly the hostess with the mostest!! Such a lovely welcome each person there received from you as you spoke, answered questions, and signed books. And it made me so happy that my granddaughter was having just as much fun as her grannies were! Jordan told us on the way home that when she grows up she wants to be Susan Branch 🙂 (BTW, she is 24, married and has a Masters in Marine Biology and Watershed Science.) Thank you again for such a lovely, wonderful day, and for your kind, sharing, so dear heart. xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      It was so fun to follow along on your trip on Twitter! Loved seeing you all ~ what a support group for Jordan! She is a lucky girl! A talented girl too! So much going on and only 24! It was great Christie, thank you so much for being there.

      • Christie Levin says:

        LOL! Me following you following us That day was the MOST fun, and now Jordan is reading FTG and trying your recipes from her new cookbooks. Jordan and Linda and I agree you are the best travel partner…you made it all very special for us. Lovely memories like this are the most wonderful treasures of all to collect. xoxoxo

        • sbranch says:

          Ha ha ha, yes! Nothing makes me happier than this generational connection. We all remember what it was like to have our grandmas show us how they did things, it’s such an important part of the human experience and a happy homemade life. 💞 You guys just keep it up! XOXO

  52. Annelies says:

    So glad you got to meet my sweet friend Rachel from the Apple Farm. A true kindred spirit!!!!

    Would have loved to have been there. We have reservations for May. AF is our home away from home. ❤❤❤

    • sbranch says:

      That is one special girl. She smiled and did double-handed photography the whole time and made it wonderful for everyone there, including me. She also has the same smile as Cameron Diaz … did you ever notice that? Tell her I said hello!

  53. Mary/Indiana says:

    LOVED every minute if your L O N G blog! The Vista’s in Central Coast – Stunning!
    I want to lunch in Moro Bay! Might have to trade my Dana Point timeshare and go
    north for a change? I could almost smell those eucalyptus trees coming off the page,….
    ahhhhh! Loved the contrast in pics from snowy seaside MV vs Cali. Ok, now I have to check out the Vintage section online and peek into your barn-finds! Thanks so much for Sharing,

  54. Thea says:

    When my niece graduated from USC SB, is the first time I went to California. And I fell majorly in love. We didn’t have much time to our but I did get to the Borani al Garden. I d been mentally planning my next journey up the coast since. You are so blessed to live in two places I love. Have a wonderful visit. Xo t

  55. Karen Lotito says:

    Hi Susan! Happy Trails to you and and Joe and Happy Spring! Thank you for sharing your lovely adventures. We are slowly but surely seeing signs of Spring – daffodils timidly peeking up trough the ground, birds singing and the farm store filled with baby chicks! It’s a gray, chilly day enjoying a fire and relaxing. A safe, happy trip home to Martha’s Vineyard. Be well and be happy! Love, Karen xo

  56. Sally Gainer says:

    Susan, you blessed girl friend. So many happy memories!

  57. Deb in Southwest Missouri says:

    So happy to have a new post to read with my tea tomorrow morning whilst I try to wake up and get the energy to head to work!!!! 🙂
    A Southwest Missouri Girlfriend

  58. Judy Young says:

    What a great post for us armchair travelers! I can almost smell the sea! Thank you Susan for taking us away from world news (which lately always seems to be grim). Thank you for simpler times and all the things you hold dear. (Which, by the way, all your Girlfriends hold dear too!!) Happy Spring Sue and Joe and to all the Girlfriends!

  59. Debby Suovanen says:

    Your photos are always so wonderful. I especially love seeing the landscape and the flowers on your walks with Joe. And how delightful your pictures of each other taking a picture of the other! Your blog always brings a few minutes of adventure in ‘happy-land’! Thank you so much!

  60. Elaine Woodford says:

    Ditto, Marcy Brenner. Everything you said is exactly how I felt reading Susan’s book. As a matter of fact, I ordered several for all the girlfriends I love. I just HAD to share it! Then I ordered a couple Fairy Tale books and the last one about England. Then I ordered 3 cookbooks. I became addicted, Susan! Love your blog, reading every word and enjoying your photos and pinning you on Pinterest! Thank you for inspiring me! (even tho we have different ideas on politics…I forgive you! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Way more alike than not, Elaine, and that’s the part that matters. What “They” do seems to never change… just I have this big gripe about the loss of our luv-lee middle class, and I bet we do agree on that! #PeopleFirst is my motto and my politics no matter the party. Thank you for your kind words about my books, and for spreading the home-is-the-best-place message. 😍 xoxo

  61. barbara lassiter says:

    I’ve been to California just twice in my life many years ago. I saw my first sunset over the Pacific ocean outside of Cambria and I remember how exciting it was. The area, including Big Sur, is so beautiful and awe inspiring. I appreciate your blog posts that bring back those memories. I loved the letter from Marcy, too! Thanks for sharing.

  62. Jane Armour says:

    Thank you soooo much for the lovely post! I have been looking anxiously for days!

  63. Nancy Redford says:

    Susan, I am a recent fan but an avid fan. At first I didn’t always save your blogs. Then, Igor was blessed with a new iPad for my last birthday. When I started reading your blogs I actually felt like I had gone on vacation. And believe me, with my hectic schedule I so look forward to my little mini mid week trips with you & your wonderful husband. I can hardly wait to order one of your books. The looks wonderful & im a scrapbook nut. Thanks again for taking all of us along with you & Jack everywhere you go. You certainly have the gift of hospitality. You make us all feel so welcome. You seem like a friend I’ve known all my life. Thank you.

  64. FayE in CA! says:

    “Charm: the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves.”
    Henri-Frederic Amiel

    The quote is in Susan’s new book, Gratitude. It struck me that it describes Susan and the Girlfriends’ connection. Susan spreads her charm through her work and computer venues and WE feel “more satisfied with ourselves” through her magnetic charm. 💗💗💗


  65. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    Your wonderful blog brought back very special memories for me as my Mom and Dad (who are no longer with us) lived on Moonstone Beach in Cambria. We had some very happy times there. Their house (across the street from the ocean) is for sale now. I wish I could buy it, but the prices are ridiculous!!
    We haven’t been up there for a very long time, your photos inspired me to plan a trip there sometime soon.
    I found your book by accident on Amazon, they have them available now.
    I am still looking for a Pen pal from the UK if anyone is interested.
    Have a safe trip home. Jack is waiting!!

    • sbranch says:

      I know that spot and I can just imagine how much the house must be selling for! Beautiful location, just a short walk down to Moonstone Beach Restaurant for breakfast! We do a Pen-pal Match-up on my Facebook page every so often, Lisa…

  66. Genevieve Denis says:

    Dear Susan, greetings from your loyal Canadian fan living in Paris! So thankful for that long blog post because I unfortunately broke my right shoulder on Saturday. We were coming back from our Saturday morning trip to the outdoor market, sun was shining, a glorious day. Tripped on the sidewalk and fell face down, flat on the sidewalk! Thank God my husband was with me! So, to the hospital, double fracture of the bone that attach the arm to the shoulder! Our sweet daughter Maxence (the one that adores your milk cake) was leaving for Spain with school Sunday morning, coming back Friday. So lying in bed Sunday morning, read your blog post and it made me feel better! At least 5 weeks of this! Typing with my left hand! All the best and cheers from Paris!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh poor thing. It’s the slowing down that is the hard part. Figure out how to enjoy it . . . there has to be a way! Books, room of flowers (back to the farmer’s market for someone), videos, old movies, and blessed sleep. Hope it doesn’t hurt too much. All the best and cheers from California! XOXO

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Very best outcome to you, Maxine. If your post to Susan isn’t another proof of the wonders of her blog, I can’t imagine what could be. I take a dose of the Happiness several times a day, or as needed. Now, imagine all the good wishes of all the girlfriends flying over the ocean to you! Maybe they can even knit bones faster.
      Debbie in Tampa….for now

  67. Jan Lane says:

    I am still here with mum in law in the UK, enjoying the country lane walks, and the varied days of Spring. We had Mothering Sunday lunch out with Sis in Law, Mum, and my Bro in law yesterday. I am enjoying my extra long visit, but had nearly forgotten how lovely the Central Calif. Coast looks in the Spring, the only time of year in which for a few short glorious weeks, you will see fresh green grass and lovely wildflowers. So I am missing out on that, in exchange for time with family.

    I love that area where you are, Susan. I would have enjoyed your presentation whilst you were in SLO. It is really not that far of a drive from my mountain home in Pine Mt. Club, Los Padres National Forest, where just last week there was a dumping of fresh snow.

    Enjoy your visit with family. Those times are especially important as we are all not getting any younger!

    • sbranch says:

      I detect a wee bit of homesickness in your words, but don’t worry, it will all be here when you get home! xoxo

  68. Carol Lynch says:

    Susan – as always I so enjoyed reading about this adventure and wish I had a “Joe” to travel like you both do. He is really a gem!!! Your writings and photos make me feel like I was along for the ride. Love the pics of you taking pictures of each other, sooo sweet. Look forward to more postings as you travel back home. Got to see you in St Charles, Mo at a book signing and hope to be able to meet you again. God bless you and Joe. Safe travels.


  69. Debbie Boerger says:

    I hear my honey moving around upstairs, and isn’t that the very best sound? You and I are among the lucky gals who got to fall deeply in love again!!! When my first husband did his “Cliff” thing for the second or third time and finally left… he needed his space, this time the space was blond ;), I realized I had to put on my big girl pants and make my own happiness. Of course my fabulous Dinghy Dames surrounded me with love and wisdom….one saying, “Just think, Debbie, you will have the joy of falling in love again” And they wrapped me in love and adventure…sailing, rowing, the breakfast club.

    And when I met Tom just before my 40th birthday, I was open to love again, this time with a true, blue man. just like Joe. A real, live adult who wasn’t driving sports cars and buying boats and collecting women.

    Now we are friends and “talk” on line often, even get together with family! I still share his family, and he and Tom sometimes take the cousin out to dinner even if I’m up in Maine. Life is a funny thing, and I’m so lucky in it with you, Dear Sue!!!!

    Debbie…in Tampa for now…..

  70. Susan MCMillan says:

    Hi Susan. love, love your blog. This makes we want to go out to California!! I must do it. Thank you for the wonderful adventures through your eyes.


    • sbranch says:

      So happy you’re enjoying it. We have a very beautiful country, love showing our little trail across it.

  71. Harriett says:

    Didn’t know the Black Dog connection. Where have I been? You and Joe, go, go!

  72. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Beautiful pictures, lovely blog, very fun armchair travel through CA! Your Apple Farm visit, looks like a great time had by all! So sorry, I missed it, but Mom & our Lord decided the 17th was the day she should make her transition to become another beautiful guardian angel, at age 101 1/2! I was hoping for the 18th, my birthday, but they had a different plan! You had sent her a hello & hug a few days prior, & you got a lovely smile…she too enjoyed your beautiful books!!! When you see your mom, please give her a hello and hug from me….so precious, our moms!! Have a fabulous rest of your trip! Love, Joan

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Joan, that’s very sad, and I’m sure, a great relief too, to have her in heaven where the sky is always blue, the pillows are always fluffed and they smell like wildflowers. So precious, our moms. Mine has dementia, but the lights are still on, and yesterday, when so many of us were together, she looked around the room, and murmured “So lucky.” Here’s to the memories, and to love that lasts forever.

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Thank you my dear! And, as one of the kids said, “Grandma was so deaf, I wonder if she can hear now!” Yes, I’m sure she can!! Your “lucky” sweet Mom, how comforting to have so many of her family gathered around. God Bless her and you all!

  73. Sandy B. says:

    Sure enjoy reading your blog! And boy do I LOVE the cake plate!! Thanks for the update.

  74. Paige Huffman says:

    I have never been to California! Thank you for taking us along with you and Joe. It looks absolutely lovely!

    • Vicki says:

      I just rediscovered, again, Susan’s Twitter (I forget to check it!) and, talk about taking us along…wow, SO MUCH FUN to be ‘driving with Susan and Joe’ as they made their way up thru Malibu and past Mugu Rock, through Ventura and Santa Barbara, and up-up-up to San Luis and then all the way to Harmony; sound, commentary and video on the Twitter postings! I went thru all the Twitter from when you left the island, Susan…felt like I was on the ferry, on the train, in the car, seeing some of that green California beyond my own county; it’s so beautiful. Can’t help but think again, could you have ever picked a more perfect time to come ‘home’ to California for a little while?! I don’t ‘subscribe’ to stuff like Instagram or Twitter but I’m glad we’re able to take a peek in; I’m going to put on the calendar to check your Twitter every week from now on.

      Now I’m feeling like I better get on a train pretty soon if indeed the government will no longer support rail travel (I need to inform myself more about that; read your comment about it). Too much is going away! Libraries, trains, bookstores. I’m howling over it. A shopkeeper in my town told me she’s barely hanging on and she’s the only thing we have left in my town to where you can buy a lovely apron, little lambie figurines, beautiful tablecloths, small gift items; good-quality toys like soft stuffed animals; scented soaps; candles. She said everybody’s buying online and, of course, the malls are suffering, too. My husband still laments the loss of a traditional big box store like Montgomery Ward…and now, maybe Sears, which my ancestors bought from a hundred years ago? I couldn’t even get a decent radio station on a small radio the other day. I recently bought an old rotary dial desk phone (inoperable) just so I can set it on my desk and put my finger on the dial and dial up old phone numbers from my youth. Call me crazy I guess…but I love and miss that sound!

      • sbranch says:

        You should howl about it, we all should. It’s up to us really, based on which stores, corporations, and elected people we support. My new worry? Robots. The only good thing, and what I hope will happen, they took us off our small farms and homesteads to bring us into factories for the Industrial Revolution. Songs and books were written about the happiness of life before the Industrial Revolution. Now, it seems, they won’t need us anymore, they’ll have robots. We can all go home, get a cow, plant a garden, and barter with our neighbors (you make the goat cheese, I’ll make the soap), while this other drone-powered world goes on without us. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: #forthepeople There’s a quote, “Never fly faster than your guardian angels can fly.” xoxo

  75. Teresa says:

    Loved this armchair travel! As many times as I have visited CA from CT, I have never been to SLO–will have to add it to the list sometime when we are in the area. I read Cliff’s book a few months ago. And I gave it to my oldest son to read as he wants to be a Marketing major in college. Enjoyed the book so much, the intro pages were so amusing, and all of the history/politics part was interesting. He did a good job!

    • sbranch says:

      He’s funny! A smart man and a good writer. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for telling me, I sent your comment on to Cliff! xoxo

  76. Lynne Barlow says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’m bereft! I have been behind on my email and just got around to sitting down to savor your latest blog. As always, it was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise hideous news era. I loved all the info on the CA coastline which is near the top of my bucket list. I was so excited to see the beautiful Gratitude Book and immediately paused to order it, only to find it’s already sold out! 😢😢😢! It’s my own fault, for not keeping up to date on my email. Please tell me there will be another printing, and if so, can I get on the waiting list? I received my magnifying glass from the last order and it looks darling on my coffee table, always at the ready for small print. I’m looking forward to the arrival of my teacups in May too. Thank you for keeping the beauty of simple things in my life.
    Kind regards,
    Lynne Barlow

    • sbranch says:

      Go back to the Gratitude Book on line, we just had a computer glitch, it’s available! xoxo All my best to you Lynne!

  77. Debi Hutchinson says:

    Great catch-up blog! I enjoyed the WHOLE thing, but especially the part where you say, “And God! You too! It takes a village!” Wonderful sentiment! Sending love from northern California.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s like the quote “Pray to God but continue to row toward shore.” He gave us this amazing garden of eden, it’s up to us, mere humans, to honor Him by taking wonderful care of His many diverse creations.

      • Rhonda D. says:

        I’ve heard from several different sources lately that our job is to make every place God has us planted like the Garden of Eden, no matter where that is. When I read your comment above, the “lights” came on…or, the penny dropped. That is exactly what is going on here on the blog. You do a great job of that Susan. No matter how dark this world gets, we’ll keep right on making the Garden of Eden. God will bless us for that and we’ll bless others.

        Really enjoyed the armchair travel in California. Living on the east coast, I don’t know a lot about California. You sparked my interest, and I googled some of these places. It is so very beautiful. My sister-in-law is heading for California in a couple of weeks. Because of this post, I was able to tell her lots of good tidbits of information. She was very thankful.

        You make such a wonderful place for us like-minded souls to come and gather. Then we go out and help to make the world the Garden of Eden. This was very evident to me as I was able to relay to my sister-in-law all I had learned about California, and how blessed she was to know this information. Fulfilling our purpose……….

        P.S. My daughter is pregnant again, expecting her third child. I was visiting her last week and she asked me to stay longer because she wasn’t feeling well. Then they FaceTimed her in-laws in Florida and put matching t-shirts on the girls that said Big Sis. My first reaction was, oh, she got the wrong t-shirt on one of the girls. Her father-in-law’s reaction was, “are we supposed to read something in that t-shirt?” History repeating itself. I can’t believe she got me again. I’ll be watching those t-shirt messages from now on. She is due on Oct. 15th.

        • sbranch says:

          Ha ha ha, such a cute way to announce this happy news! Congratulations Rhonda! That is so wonderful! And I loved your comments about our care of God’s creations. Children, old people, animals, blue skies, the lakes and rivers, the seas, all the “reasons” we’re here, to care for His gifts less strong than ourselves. He has rewarded us so magnificently with flowers, seasons, zinging heartstrings, and so many other blessings. It’s the least we can do.

  78. Shelley S says:

    Susan, Susan,

    So nice to hear from you! Little do you know, you’ve become my mentor and escape from all things stressful. I’ve always loved your beautiful cookbooks, but now that I have your 3 journal books, everything you’ve offered to us GIRLFRIENDS is so much more meaningful. We are close to the same age, so i relate to so much that it tickles me.

    I’m so excited about the Gratitude book. In these tense and troubled times it’s so very important to be mindful of all the blessings we have, in order not only to cope, but to really enjoy all what really matters. Thank you.

    Shelley (the one who spells her name correctly. ☺ )

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, gratitude and counting our many blessings may just be the secret of life. Definitely one of them. Correctly spelled Shelley! Ha ha ha!

  79. SHARON says:

    Susan I have never been further west than Michigan, but always wanted to go to California to see the wine area. But the rest of California I pictured in my mind to be mostly highways and wall to wall beach houses with no access to anything like what you showed in your pictures. It’s absolutely gorgeous! And not wall to wall people! California has to be on my bucket list! Thanks for taking us along with you Susan. We all enjoy the ride and appreciate it so much. Safe travels to you and Joe and enjoy your family. XXOO

    • sbranch says:

      The wine country is like these pictures too, very beautiful. The cities are large and sprawling and filled with traffic and too many people, so unless you are a city person and excited by crowds, avoid them, and head for the country! You’ll love it just as you thought you would.

  80. Caroline says:

    Susan you are amazing! I am a kindred spirit fan and girlfriend… I can’t believe what you accomplish!!! I am a physical therapist who also runs a strength and balance class for seniors; There is so much wonderful research and insights to share with the world, I thought I would blog about it all… not so easy! Any advice for a new blogger? I went on Word press today to get started and all their advice was absolute greek to me. I think I’ll hire a teenager to help me:) Have a continued wonderful time on your gorgeous California trip and come home soon. I have a funny feeling that Spring on the East coast might be waiting for you! Safe home! Caroline

    • sbranch says:

      Is your blog set up yet? Because after that you could get a computer literate person to show you how it works. It’s really very easy. If I can do it, you can, believe me. All you will have to worry about is balancing your time so you can blog! Good luck. Having something to share makes it a giving thing, which is just perfect for a blog!

      • Caroline says:

        It is not set up! Is there a particular blog host that you would recommend? Thank you! Computer whiz kid is coming over:) Hope you have a wonderful trip back to the island

        • sbranch says:

          I like WordPress, and the only other advice I can give you is don’t let your computer helper set it up in such a complicated way that you can’t take care of it yourself. You are going to want to say something at the moment you’re inspired to say it ~ it would be very frustrating to have to wait until someone has time to put it up for you. He or she will teach you how to access your photos for it . . . it’s not hard at all, just a little time-consuming. Have fun Caroline!

  81. Suzanne says:

    Just returned from a quick
    trip to Hollywood with my
    little family over spring break,
    and this is making me nostalgic
    for our sunny days there, already!
    Your trip sounds amazing and it’s
    always a triple-treat to enjoy your
    “notes from the field!” Thank you
    for always generously sharing your
    experiences, and your heart.

    xo Suzanne

  82. DeLores Johnson says:

    I was to California once. I attended a work conference at San Diego, so did get to see a few things. I have always wanted to travel but my husband never wanted to go on any trips. I thought when we both retired he would change his mind but no dice!!!!! Now he is on oxygen 24 hrs a day for Congestive Heart Failure, so travel is out for good. I thoroughly enjoyed this Blog. All the pictures and your thorough descriptions were wonderful. Thank you so much.

    • sbranch says:

      Out with him for good, but maybe not all the way out for good. There is still you. 💞 Love having you here, armchair travel is fun too. xoxo

  83. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    As always, I love seeing all the radiant faces at your event, and you looking so cute! I meant to ask, since you are a fellow Anglophile, if you saw the Queen’s 90th birthday celebration created by her family, with home movies going back to when she was a small child, she and Prince Phillip (he was dishy! Or as Prince Harry said, Grandpa was a stud!) and their young family, and on. It was on PBS, of course. So fun to see. Enjoy the rest of your time in my native CA, especially with your mother!

  84. I get your emails and most of the time, I am just “too busy” to go read the blog (I know, how terrible of me to admit that..) But tonight, I just said, “I’m going to read her blog!” even though I have work to do on the computer. Well, it was a delight as always and THANK YOU for sharing the pictures of the GREEN hills! I live in South Orange County, and although I am SICK of all this rain we have been having, it is wonderful to drive through open areas (yes, they still exist in CA) and see the fantastic GREEN hills! I was driving on the toll road the other day and just enjoyed the beauty of the hills/mountains.. It makes me worry about fire season come Sept./Oct. as those lovely hills will surely be back to normal brown by that time… but now, yes! Celebrate SPRING and thank God for time change weekend! Loving the sunsets now… Safe travels back to Martha’s Vineyard!

  85. carolyn williams

    Ihave sent Susan several e-mails with no response OR have sent just a
    nice comment. It is never published!!! What am I doing wrong? I have
    access to her blog as well.

    Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure Carolyn, I’m sorry, comments are always published, although we’ve been known to have gremlins here, sometimes they will disappear, but definitely not always. Anyway, I’m sorry to have missed you . . . here you are!

  86. Jacqui Davey says:

    So glad your back Blogging…

    A special memory for me as we stayed in Cambria when we visited California a few years ago, a wonderful town with amazing shops and the most friendly people. We stayed in the Avocado farm…McCalls with Terri and Jack. The most perfect place in the world with amazing home made blueberry pancakes for breakfast and humming birds in the garden.

    We also live very close to Hartfield home of Winnie the pooh…..another connection !

    Thank you for the memories…a mother from England who just had a special day with flowers from her children and plenty of Love.

    • sbranch says:

      I had to go look at McCalls Avocado Farm, wow. You really had a wonderful taste of the nature of the area. It’s beautiful. Makes me want to go stay there! Happy Mothering Sunday Jacqui, lovely to hear from you. xoxo

  87. Pat R. says:

    Looks like you are having a great trip. It is so beautiful there. I have never been to California but your pictures and description helped make me think I was right there. Have lots of fun. Thank you foe the bookmarks.

  88. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    Oh how I loved this post since I couldn’t making to SLO for the Girlfriends book signing at the Apple Farm. Like another of the girlfriends who wrote, I too was laid up with a knee/back injury! I was so bummed to miss seeing you again after Morro Bay last year. However, these photos helped make me feel right there. You mentioned several of my favorite places, including Cambria. I just had to cancel our getaway there to Moonstone Beach because of my injury. Can’t wait to try the Beachside Cafe on our next jaunt to Morro Bay. Enjoy the rest of Spring at home!!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh dear Jeannette, well, take care, and get well soon. We missed you! But we’ll be back one day for sure!

      • Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

        Thank you for the get well thoughts! I sort of figured you’d be back again one day:) The hills around Lompoc will be covered with wild mustard soon – a beautiful carpet of yellow. and California poppies along the roadsides. Happy Day!

  89. Karen says:

    Susan, I’ve lived in Northern California all of my 51 years, but had never made the trip to the Central Coast until YOU gave me the reason to go. (It was about a six hour drive) Your book signing was everything we dreamed it would be. The Apple Farm was beautiful and fantastic! We had a wonderful weekend exploring San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and Hearst Castle. We even had made it to the Bayside Café! Thank you for introducing us to what now will be our favorite place to go! Meeting you and Joe was such an honor. You are both just as amazing in person as you are on your blog and in your books. Thank you for bringing us along on this wonderful ride of life!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, I’m so happy you enjoyed yourself . . . the area is pure discovery isn’t it? Lucky you to make it to the Bayside, it’s not exactly on the main route to anywhere! Thank you so much Karen. I’m still on cloud 9 about our lovely afternoon at the Apple Farm! xoxo

  90. Lauire Ann Mitchell says:

    Susan, I have followed you for many years. I love your calendars, books and bookmarks. I live on Cape Cod across a bit from you. Each and every year for more years than I can remember I buy a wall calendar. Years ago I was able to buy your hard cover Calendar, Count Your Blessings, Days from the Heart of the Home. I am sure you have discontinued them and this makes me very sad. I am using the last one I have this year. I spent time today looking at ebay etc. to see if I can find any.
    I am asking you if there is any chance you have any or if you would ever consider
    publishing them again. I seriously don’t know what I will do without them. The calendar/”BOOK” has been so special for me for MANY years.
    I am in CALIFORNIA for about a month and am here as my daughter was very sick and in the hospital and thankfully she is getting better. We will also be moving here as soon as our house on the Cape sells.
    I know this is a “Big Order” to ask this and I will understand if you can’t. Thank you for your blogs, books and calendars.

    • sbranch says:

      We will try Lauire, our problem is, as always, that they make us buy so many, and they are expensive to have printed, so we have to be sure we can sell them. Our distribution is very limited, mostly here on my blog. Anyway, that’s the problem, but we will try. I am so happy to hear that your daughter is getting better. Must have been a huge worry for you. You’re moving to California! I’m sure you have lots of good reasons, but when the weather is like it’s been while we’ve been here, it’s a HUGE temptation for anyone experiencing it!

  91. Jane Alexander says:

    I am so glad you are our friend, as you are a giver of life, light, fun, creativity, joy, encouragement. Truly a lover of simplicity. You see the world everyday with hope, even when it is difficult. I cant wait to get your book on Gratitude, one of the most important traits to have in the world, next to integrity, and love. I loved hearing about your trip to California.
    Hugs and love to you and Joe. And I’m glad Cliff came to the book signing. Even there you set an example of the fruit of forgiveness.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s funny. Integrity was my first favorite word, and then Gratitude, and love overall. Thank you dear Jane, that was so nice. And yes, there is very sweet fruit in forgiveness. xoxo

  92. Dominique McCafferty-Snapp says:

    Dear Susan — I’ve missed seeing you so many times! We’re a few hours away from the Apple Farm and I’d hoped I could stop in and say “Hello” at last! You are still so the best. One of these days… 🙂

  93. Cam says:

    I just wanted you to know that my daughter and I really enjoyed your talk at the Apple Farm. It was a beautiful day to spend with her and with you. At the talk, you called on my daughter and she asked what you wore to Joe’s 64th birthday last summer. We can’t wait to read more about that 64th birthday party and your beautiful white house on the island, in hopefully your next book. It’s a romance we would all be eager to read. Perhaps you can expand your trilogy into a tetralogy (a four-part series). We were also lucky enough to have a lovely conversation with Joe about Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday on March 20th. What a fine couple you two make. You are both great role models.
    Is is alright if my daughter, a teacher, uses your Mother’s Day crown in her classroom so her students can decorate the crowns for their moms, grandmothers, or caregivers as a Mother’s Day gift?
    From one Valley girl to another, thank you again for a lovely and enchanting day on March 18th. Safe travels.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Cam . . . it was wonderful to see you and your daughter! Yes, please do, use the crown as a template if you like and let the students decorate it themselves, or whatever works for your daughter! Everyone should have a crown, you don’t have to be an actual mother to be nurturing! xoxo

  94. Angie says:

    I am watching ‘Escape to the Countryside’ via Netflick and I realized I had not read your blog. (It is like a HGTV House Hunters but in the UK.) I am immersed in beauty between your pictures and this show.
    Safe travels home. I know we have some good pictures to look forward to. Thank You.

  95. Wendy Louise says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank-you so much for a beautiful armchair trip! So nice to see Spring and so looking forward to ours! Have a wonderful trip back to your East coast home. It’s been very snowy! OX Wendy-Louise

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what we’ve been hearing. Looking forward to our second spring back in New England! xoxo

  96. Martha says:

    Hi Susan – Such beautiful photos of California! I have never been – but after seeing your photos – I now want to visit that part of California! We’re still waiting for Spring to arrive in New England – at least the sun is shining today!
    Martha from CT

  97. Debbie Boerger says:

    This morning I took another ramble up and down Mid-Coast California with Sue and Joe, refreshing my own lovely memories of that place. Yesterday Tom and I looked through a couple of our albums of various West Coast trips in our camper. And, Voila, there was a snap taken from Bayside Cafe! Must have been, as your pic of the little harbor matches. I loved doing it with Tom Terrific, but I’ll never forget my first breathtaking view of Morro Bay in 1966 with my dear bestest girlfriend. As I told you awhile ago, I have a beautiful framed poster of a misty view of the bay and rock taken from atop the hills above. It includes a poem by Mid-Coast’s own poet, Robinson Jeffers.
    That was truly a Napenthe, Jeetjen’s Big Sur Inn summer of Love for us. What an adventure for 2 little 20 yr. old Southern gals who’d never been west of the Mississippi. Thank you so very much, Miss Sue. Ahhhh, she sighed with happiness!

    Debbie in Tampa…..for now

  98. As usual, after reading your blog, there are a million things I want to say! I can see my sister, Maria, and myself, in one of the photos of the audience, and I’m grinning from ear to ear, which made me do it all over again! Apple Hill Farm was such a special weekend that wasn’t easy to make happen, but we were both bound and determined to make it and we are so glad we did! We were both just silly with happiness! The sun was shining, the flowers were in bloom, but you, Susan, outshined them all. You are a treasure of undefinable measure. I was in my favorite store, Home Goods, yesterday and there was a sign that said, “Spread your sparkle wherever you go” and I immediately thought of you! Thank you so much for your joy and your sparkle! XXO

    • sbranch says:

      It was a HEAVEN day, I loved every moment of it too, Teresa. Thank you for those sweetest of words. It was ALL of us making magic that day, all those great questions, I just know that’s true! Let’s do it again!

  99. OH! And a P.S. to that…I’m thrilled at the thought of you doing a book about New England. YES!!!! It’s on my Bucket List, but may have to wait until your guide book comes out. No pressure haha 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Every day I love this idea more. There is SO MUCH to tell, and who better than me, because they always say, “Write what you know, write what you love!”

  100. Amanda Imhof says:

    Hi Susan!
    I went with my mother, aunt, and sister-in-law to your talk and book signing at The Apple Farm – we had SO much fun. It was such a wonderful day! When I got up to the front of the line for you to sign my book, I told you how nervous I was – you were so kind and you said “give me your hand” and chatted with me for a bit before you signed my book 🙂 – that meant so much to me! At the time I was too nervous to speak, but if I had been able to unfreeze myself 😉 I would have told you you how much your work and your blog has meant to me – as a stay at home mom of 4, as a homemaker, as a person – your positivity and happiness, your love of the little things in life and appreciating the beauty all around us – it’s had such a huge impact on me, I can’t thank you enough! XOXO

    • sbranch says:

      Ohhh Amanda, it was so sweet to meet you. Thank you for your kind words, you are a doll to tell me. All my best to you and yours. XOXO

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