May 4, 2012, Five years ago today . . . we, including lots of you, were here . . . sailing out of New York Harbor on the Queen Mary 2, beyond giddy (and not just because of the champagne!) . . . for our dream-come-true two-month ramble through the English Countryside. MUSICA!

So many of you came along with us, remember? That’s why we had to bring all this luggage.  Okay, I know, you were virtual, and we have no excuse. Darn! Lots of art supplies in those bags, cameras, batteries, chargers, wires, and converters, not to mention Musica! . . . we were ready for desert-island living, just in cases!

And so the love affair began, over hill and dale we went, along narrow lanes, on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car, through hedgerows overhung with bowers of hawthorn and cow parsley, popping in and out of three-hundred-year-old pubs, listening to the birds sing, winding through stone villages festooned with bunting, wandering through gardens in sun and in rain, everything the slow way ~ and all just perfect for a house-crazy person like me . . .

Visiting the tea rooms the National Trust so kindly provides at each of the lovely properties they own, and writing everything down.

We learned about and could feel the history . . . they took such good care of their country, in most places, you can feel yourself in 1756 or 1835 or even 1250! It’s amazing for the imagination.

From Kent (The “Garden of England”) and Sussex, up to the Peak District and the Lakes, through the amazing Dales to York, back to the Cotswolds, Wiltshire and Hampshire. And it all basically looked like this.

This is where I first saw bunting in it’s natural habitat! Festooning doors and windows, and criss-crossing streets . . .

Gardens and gardens and gardens. Remember? And it was never boring. How could anyone get tired of seeing this?  This one, considered a “small garden” was designed by the famous garden designer Rosemary Verey. We were so happy to be there. Lunch waited on the other side of those windows on the right, and cold Pear Cider.

Visiting kindred spirit William Morris’s house (where I bought that scarf . . .) learning about the guy I’d been quoting for years . . . and finding out just what an amazing person he was 💞but this quote had already told me . . .

Everyday was a discovery.

They mow paths through wildflower fields . . .

Then of course…to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, a place I’d dreamed of seeing for a very long time.  I was beside myself. 

Alone her garden, with her darling Bee Bole . . .

Sketching the whole way because they didn’t allow cameras in the house . . . then turning the sketches into pages for the book I knew by that time I was definitely writing!

Honored to be there . . . Grateful for all that Beatrix Potter left behind . . .

I kept a diary of everything, took lots of pictures, and when we got home, I spent the following fall and winter watercoloring and writing everything down in my “good” handwriting . . . I had to tell the whole story . . . because if you fall madly in love with something you want everyone to feel it! You want to share that feeling!

It turned out to be part love story, part travel guide, with recipes too . . . not really knowing if I was succeeding as was doing it, but trying very hard to include every bit of the magic we found in our travels . . .

Day by day I wrote, page after page piled up, and then one day . . .

Still another dream came true. I hadn’t written a new book since 2004 and I really wanted to try something different with this diary, and here it was, bedecked with ribbon, hanging out with Petey who saw the whole thing first hand. And off it went, out to the world, introducing itself and saying Howdy Neighbor while I quaked in my slippers, waiting to see what people would think!  Then the reviews started coming in . . .

This was sent to me by one of our Girlfriends, you might remember it . . . her daughter had her own review system, I cried when I saw this! All of my books have been, for the most part, just like this, word of mouth.

And reviews started coming through on Amazon, and more crying ensued. And still does. Probably all authors think of their books as their babies, and I’m no different.  Course, then Paul McCartney had to get involved!

Or kind of. Not so sure he actually knew about it! But I love this anyway. And that’s it Girlfriends, just a little go-back-in-time celebration of a luvlee memory. Hope you enjoyed it!

So what else have I been up to? Same ole, same ole, actually . . .

Making new things. Thought we might like a Martha’s Vineyard cup!  What do you think? Selfishly, I admit, this will look wonderful in my new blue kitchen! Want to see the back?

. . . just a little something to celebrate the magic . . .

And then I thought, how about a cookie plate, tea cup and sandwich plate, wall hanging plate . . . combo? Like this . . . good for almost everything … with lots of good old-fashioned white space!

And I thought they look cute together. Mix and match. You can fit a sandwich on there, or a cookie!

Off I go! Just wanted to say hello. Off to the garden I go. Hope all is well with you. By the way, my computer person, says everything should be working with the ‘comments’ correctly now. Thank you for letting me know the troubles, and if it happens again, feel free to say something. Love you Girls! You Boys too! XOXO

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665 Responses to ANNIVERSARY TODAY!

  1. Brenda Stokes says:

    Dear Susan,
    How I look forward to your lovable blogposts! And this one was so welcome as I have been clearing clutter and starting to tire of the unending nature of the task. You have inspired me to keep on and I truly appreciate about the lightness and energy you are feeling as you achieve “emptiness” (love that). Not surprised that you have also managed to be very productive with your beautiful tea cups and soon to work on the next calendar! Joe and Jack make life very sweet. Thank you for sharing vulnerable thoughts with us and always celebrating life. xoxo

  2. Sue says:

    t must be your creative soul and that of mine and others that makes us savers, collectors and “pile-ers”, for my office looks the same. My basement crafting area too, needs a good overhaul. I am trying to purge like you, and should get the camera out so I too can take pictures and at least have the memory of my heart-filled things. Your mugs are wonderful and the new blue one calls to me, so I will be ordering that for myself. I love the nature one as well, and you never know maybe Vanna will pull my name at this new opportunity.

    Thanks for the movies and Jack and your yard. It looks wonderful, we are enjoying spring here as well, and the colors and smells are glorious.
    Happy Day!

  3. Mary Webb says:

    Thank you again Susan for an enjoyable Sunday afternoon; drinking tea and reading your blog. You not only inspire me to create you make me smile. It is fun to know that making things pretty is a talent and appreciated by many. Your books are my favorite and whenever I feel like traveling I pick them up again and “explore”!
    We finally made it to the East coast Fall 2016 from rural CO after a lifetime of longing to see the leaves…We were SO, acutally on the Cape. We did not get to come to the Vineyard and I was so sad but next time it is first on the list…
    Happy Spring and thank you again.

  4. Mary Webb says:

    Thank you again Susan for an enjoyable Sunday afternoon; drinking tea and reading your blog. You not only inspire me to create you make me smile. It is fun to know that making things pretty is a talent and appreciated by many. Your books are my favorite and whenever I feel like traveling I pick them up again and “explore”!
    We finally made it to the East coast Fall 2016 from rural CO after a lifetime of longing to see the leaves…We were SO, actually on the Cape. We did not get to come to the Vineyard and I was so sad but next time it is first on the list…
    Happy Spring and thank you again.

  5. Nina Escudero-Bailey says:

    Hello, hello!
    Am so very thoroughly delighted to be reading A Fine Romance! Thank you for sharing this colorful, thoughtful, refreshing adventure. I am halfway through and find I am making myself read at a slower than normal pace to savor it all…just don’t want it to end!

    Tell me please, is your sweet tea pot cookie plate purchase-able?

    Have enjoyed your blog too!

    In joy and in health,


    Nina E.

    • sbranch says:

      SO happy to hear that Nina! Also, the teapot plate is at the manufacturer’s right now ~ someone we haven’t worked with before, so I will need to see if the color is right and so forth before we place an order for them, but we’re working on it! Thank you!

  6. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    Susan, I doubt you’ll get this because you have a newer post than this one now…the giveaway, where you prob already have 2000 comments …but, speaking of that other post, such weirdness going on, on my end again. On THIS post of yours (“Anniversary”), my name comes up perfectly for leaving comments but on your NEW post about cleaning out the office, over and over again, I come up as somebody else’s name and email again, always the same person whoever she is, and the post will not load; it’s always at 126 comments except ONCE early this morning when it jumped to 769 comments and you’d even answered one of MY comments (I’d gotten very chatty); luvlee response you left me, thank you; I wish it would come up again. The way it looks right now on your newest post, it’s as if I never left a comment at all, not even waiting moderation, much less that you responded…which you did! I actually saw it, that one time! It just defies explanation! It’s like the blog keeps bouncing in and out to reality, and then back to the surreal/Mars. I’m not going to keep harping on it, not complaining at all, not really; just so perplexed as I’ve visited a lot of blogs in my internet lifetime and have never experienced such gremlins! And yours is my fave blog, so this is troubling me! To my knowledge, there’s nothing wrong with my own computer or programs; I’ve been visiting your precious blog for years with nary a glitch, until these last weeks when the gremlins started up, darn them. I hope anything I’m saying can help you troubleshoot but I’ve read here and there that you’re thinking this might be the new norm for your blog. And that it’s not happening to everybody else reading here now, unless they’re just not mentioning it anymore. Sigh. Your blog is my happy place. It looks like I may have to be content with a read-only of your posts, which is fine, and I’m grateful for them, but I may in future miss a lot of the girlfriend comments, which are also always so terrific and often helpful. It’s a girlfriend community! Another sigh. I know you didn’t want any of this to happen…

    • sbranch says:

      Just so you know I saw this! Making sure. There are maybe 2 others besides you Vicki that are saying and seeing what you’re seeing. One is Chris in Texas . . . and I forget who the other is, but other than them, no one else is mentioning it now. They did before, but it stopped and we really thought we had fixed it. Please refresh your page and let’s see if that helps! Thank you!

      • Rachel says:

        I am not Rachel (as shown) but Elrica. And I’m not seeing the new blogpost, only the May 4th one. Have tried over and over, but only get the older one.

        • sbranch says:

          Please try refreshing your computer, Rachel . . . it seems to work for others. So sorry! And, thank you!

          • Pat says:

            Yes I had this happen to me yesterday. Funny name showed up, I changed it to me, posted and it is still awaiting moderation from yesterday morning around 10:30. Computers can be a challenge!

      • Vicki South of Arroyo says:

        Well, I left one LAST comment about this on the new Swords (declutter) post when I switched from google chrome to internet explorer. What I just said could be KEY. This at least allowed both posts of yours to update/load. That’s definitely a solution for me, I hope. Right now, on this older ‘Anniversary’ post, while on explorer rather than chrome, my name is showing up correctly for posting comments. Fingers crossed.

        • sbranch says:

          Good. I really can’t quite understand what you are saying, but I hope you’re right, and I hope you’ve refreshed! 🤗

      • Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

        Okay I am now lost. H-e-l-p. I do not see a new post and have been looking for it. I do not see any post about cleaning out creative spaces, etc. I do not see where there is a give away. Am I in a twilight zone? I cannot miss this. SOS.

        • sbranch says:

          Try to refresh the blog page Susie, it’s there!

          • Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

            Silly me. How do I “refresh the blog page”… ?

          • sbranch says:

            What kind of computer do you have? You can Google and say, “How to refresh page on a _________- computer” . . . on mac laptop, at the top is a circular arrow, I just click on that.

  7. Pam Butterick says:

    Loved your choice of White Cliffs of Dover for Musica.
    We spent an overnight in Dover, waiting for our ship to leave the harbor, for a cruise to the Rock of Gibraltar and ultimately Barcelona. We met cousins who lived in Kent and he toured us around Dover, where we stayed in a B and B. The Cliffs are so striking, and we watched that harbor, shown in the video, as ships came and went. Sadly we did not have enough time to tour the Castle. MUST GO BACK. Thank you for bringing memories back to me ❤️

  8. Gini dagostino says:

    I just ordered your Blue bird cup for an August delivery AND you charged my credit card today also. Should of you at least charge my card when you shipped my cup in August? Please send me an email to answer my question ! Thanks, Susan

  9. Sharon Fernandez says:

    We need more love in the world. Thank you so much for sharing yours! I love my In Love With Nature cup…I want them all!!! Can’t wait for the cookie plate too! Hugs to you.😘

  10. Marty from NYC says:

    HI Susan:

    Your newest blog is not showing. on your website. I had a brief e-mail of it (which is not the usual way I see it) and then it totally disappeared without a trace. Please get you IT genius to fix as soon as possible. Cannot bear that it is out there and I don’t have the pleasure of reading it! Thank you . Marty

    • sbranch says:

      Please try refreshing Marty. See if that helps. Let me know. And thank you for telling me!

  11. Shauna Schnibben says:

    Love the bird mug!! Reminds me of my father who always fed the birds and gave us homemade birdhouses!!!

  12. adelyn frederick says:

    enjoy your blog so much…especially the hollyhocks…very inspiring…now it is time to clear off the countertops…

  13. A. B. says:

    My darling daughter gave me the Love Mug for my 83rd birthday. (Love, love, love it!) I would love to win one to give to her.

  14. Mercedes says:

    Sometimes I don’t read your posts right away because I want to keep them for a special treat, a time when I can make it a special moment. It feels like a gift, one of peace, happiness and contentment, a time to be swept away into a dream world, my dream world. Thank you for what you bring to my life by sharing yours. Just a suggestion for a post I would love to get lost in if it works for you. Ever since I read about your friend (I was going to look it up so I remembered her name, I apologize.) who had the party in the river I’ve dreamed about what it was like, what she served, how it worked getting the table and chairs into the river, how enchanting and magical it was etc.



    • sbranch says:

      That’s my English girlfriend Siobhan (say it Shiv-on) . . . I should write more about her, she is a very special person!

  15. JoAnn Petersen says:

    Loved meeting you in Austin Texas last year! liked yours post on
    Organized life ! I think it needed in my life now!!!5

  16. Rachel says:

    Once again, I am not Rachel (as is showing) but Elrica. I have tried everything suggested here, but nothing works…I can’t get new blogpost. I emailed Kelli for help. She said she would mention it to IT guy. That was several days ago, but still no new post.

    • sbranch says:

      Go try it on another computer and see what happens… Because if somehow it’s your computer (which seems extremely strange to me) then we can’t do anything… you would have to take your computer to some smart person and see what button needs to be pushed. I’m so sorry, I’m often in the same boat and it drives me crazy!

  17. Carla says:

    What is the name of the book that shows the old Cotswold cottage? Thank you- Cannot wait for the Maratha’s Vineyard cup!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a really wonderful little book we found in England called The Cotswolds by F.R.G. Duckworth, with many beautiful paintings, like the cottage I showed, by G.E. Nicholls. (I guess people weren’t into actual first names back in 1908!)

  18. love following your blog – March was meaningful as my art studio needs a bit of love and sorting and filing. would much rather do art than put things in order.
    thank you for your sharing of your talents and life. Would love to have one of your lovely cups.

    • sbranch says:

      Sometimes I get to the point where I can’t do art, or anything really, until I get my spaces organized! This was one of those times!

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