No More Swords, Courts, and Kings!

I’m weary of swords and courts and kings. Let us go into the garden. 🌸 Mary Johnston🌸  Chair dance anyone? Oui! ☺️ MUSICA

I ask myself the same question every day when I get up, “How do I move myself forward today?” It’s a great question, it gets me moving . . . because, I have places to go and people to see, and I need to work diligently in the direction of my dreams. Or I’m not happy. Even my tiniest steps forward add up!

For several years now, I’ve been on a mission, to learn more about the writing process, to see if I could figure out how to write my memoir books, to figure out how to get them published, and then to get it done. And while I did it, many other things in my life went onto the back burner. I was busy! And, one thing I wasn’t doing was deep cleaning, no good old-fashioned organization, or home care for my darling dear house that deserves better. But it got me for a mom, and therein lies the problem. As you are about to see. I can’t believe I am going to show such terrible photos. Normally I clean up before I take the pictures. It’s probably the worst I’ve ever seen it, mainly because we were hardly home last year, and when we got back, I began to “drop off” stuff in my studio, move it out of my view “until I had time to clean it.”  I’m thinking someone else out there may experience this problem, so I thought I would do some before and after photos and talk about Spring Cleaning and how to de-clutter, lighten up, and simplify your life.💞 Shield your eyes, here we go . . .

The question is: Who’s in charge here?  It was a daunting project to begin. I almost didn’t know where to start, every cupboard and drawer in our house is stuffed to the gills. But as time goes on, I’m becoming quite cutthroat about it. I choose emptiness. I took pictures of some of the harder things to get rid of.  Now I own the memories associated with them forever!  The bookshelves are full of books, some of which have been there since we moved into the house in 1989, any new books since then have had to find another place to go ~ I keep inserting tiny bookshelves in corners of the house, packing it all in even further, and now the only place left is the floor. But the floor is already almost totally covered with projects and boxes of who knows what, it’s layered. You could do a dig here, like James Michener’s The Source.

I began to empty the shelves and take most of the books to the living room, where I’m packing them to give to the second-hand bookstore on the Island. Not all of them of course. I kept the good ones! But not too many. I want empty shelves. I want empty shelves so bad. Room for new thoughts, new ideas! Room to breathe.

Because I can no longer live like this.  I think it’s stealing my energy just having to look at it. There are three stacks of original art in plastic pages on the floor under the shelves! I don’t recognize the rest of it, it’s too much of a jumble. Stacks of books, stacks of papers, crowded Beatrix Potter people. I had to design cups on top of the mess in order to get them done in time. Doing a Willard in this mess would be impossible!

All so wrong. That door to the front hall has been blocked closed for maybe three years (It was way worse than this, I’d already moved most of the stuff!). And as I begin to move through it, I ask myself, do I need this, is it adding value to my life, and if the answer is no, then I say bye-bye! I want smooth surfaces, table tops especially. I’ve been getting happier and happier every day, and lighter and lighter, and basically, I’m downright giddy now! Waking up singing! The unbearable lightness of being!

It doesn’t look like this anymore. And as I’ve done it, shelf by shelf, going through everything piece by piece, file by file, box by box, I found interesting things I’d forgotten all about . . . and realized I was engaged in a form of treasure hunt.

I washed each shelf which had not seen the light of day since 1989. Basically the answer to how to do this, is one shelf at a time.

Yard by yard, it’s very hard, but inch by inch, it’s a cinch.

See the cupboards underneath? Same thing, one at a time. And that mess on the worktable?  That BIG pile on the left is recipes, ideas, and quotes for my Tea Book which I’ve been adding to and saving for years, with no place to put it. It’s not there anymore. Now it’s organized, and my Tea Book project has one of those clean empty shelves all for itself!

And, I think, in my most maniacal of moments, now I have room ~ I can go antiquing again! 😜

Here’s one of the treasures I found, this card was in a recipe box I did for my mom around 1979.  I forgot all about it, I don’t think I’ve seen it since then.

I’d brought home my mom’s recipe file from California, and inside were handwritten recipes and letters, from my mom, my grandma, and my great grandma. I also had recipes from my dad and my sisters . . .

And this detailed letter to my mom from my grandfather Willard’s mother, my mom’s “Gram,” and my great grandmother . . . her typing strokes are indented in the soft blue paper ~ Sioux City, Iowa is written at the top ~ and she is writing my mom in California about the only news that ever really matters to our lives. Turn off the TV, and this is what there is, the real stuff of life. 💌

This is the rest of the box I did for my mom . . . so I put all the recipes from everyone else in it . . . and a card explaining who is who, for the future people who will someday find it, maybe my brother’s and sister’s children, or who knows. Maybe some rescuing type of person in a second-hand store. But I have a picture of it now, so it’s mine forever, and the box will be saved in a special family file box.

Then I began on the file cabinet, pulled out each file, went through it, threw out tons of useless paperwork, then rearranged and put back what mattered. This de-cluttering adventure is a long-term project, but I would rather do it now when I choose to, than later, when I have to! Right now I just want to! Not all of it is memories, some of it is just stuff I don’t need. I’m recycling, donating, and throwing out. I already cleaned the kitchen and emptied the sideboard in the dining room, and got rid of half of it, and after I get this room done, I go upstairs! That’s also when I will get to start seriously painting four hours a day. As soon as the studio is clean and I feel the spaciousness of it, I’ll dip my brush in water, and hear the ringing sound as it hits the side of the dish and put my first color on the paper, early one morning, in the quiet, with my tea and my cat. I don’t think I’ll get the whole house done until sometime around August. I go as slow as I want. I go to the garden, I stare at the dogwood tree in bloom. Joe and I go to the nursery. I’m planning a tea party. I shoot hair bands for my kitty. I talk on the phone to Siobhan and Rachel in England. I design cups. I brake for John’s Fish Market chocolate shakes!  But all while I’m lightening my life, and indulging in the treasure hunt and the joy of memory.

Luv-lee letters like this get photographed, and put into a “children’s letters” file. I’ve looked up names on some of the old letters ~ and amazingly found and followed them on Instagram (@susanbranchauthor)! Sometimes I don’t like the Internet, and sometimes, I love it!

And now, I have all my ideas for books in one place, in files, and NOT, as was before, in piles on the floor. Every day I feel better, I feel more and more inspired about what will come next . . . and think of the words I heard on some TV show, ” I tremble on the brink of life’s next great adventure.” But I can’t get there until I am out from under the weight of this stuffed house!

I’ve consolidated, whittled down, and distilled . . . honestly, so much of it just didn’t belong here anymore. I saved a few old things, like products I’ve made . . . put them into boxes, labeled them, and up the attic they go, saved for posterity. A very little bit of it. Stuff I hope that someday someone else will want. But if they don’t, at least it’s consolidated. I’m doing this thing just like I redecorate. Taking everything off the shelves out of the cupboards, washing and cleaning them, and putting back only what I can’t live without, and getting rid of the rest.

I had to keep a little bit of this! Just in cases.

And this too!

And of course the piles of original artwork . . .

All organized and stacked on those empty shelves where I can access them. Most of my original art is in an old bank safe in California. Each book I’ve written is totally intact, all the original pages are there, and each book is in its own acid-free box. 

Look at that. I’m making white space . . . ahhh, emptiness . . .

A finished person is a boring person. 💙Anna QuindlenDon’t worry, I’m not the minimalist type, for me that would be going too far. And I’m not done. Only about half way right now . . . but I can see the trees in the forest! I thought you might like to see some of the treasures I found:

First off, this. The box of everything, all the photos, all the memorabilia, the diary pages, even some souvenirs, everything from the trip we took in 2001 with our nieces Heidi and Holly, to London, Paris, and Bath (where we first discovered the English Countryside) . . . our theme music from that trip was Dusty Springfield from the British Invasion cassette we had in the car . . . we sang as we traveled hill and dale . . . we still sing it. Joe sang it too . . .🎵 I don’t know WHAT to do with my self . . .🎵

Here we are boarding the ship in New York. In this photo, Heidi, on the left, is 11, my brother Brad’s daughter, who grew up in Colorado. On the right is Holly, she’s 12, she belongs to my sister Mary and grew up in California. The cousins had met only once before we took them away across the wide ocean for six wonderful weeks. We’d been planning it since they were six. It was the very best time I ever had. They were wonderful and funny and smart! The box with everything from this trip was on a high shelf here in my studio and hadn’t seen the light of day in years. I still have to go through it, and someday, when I get the photos scanned, I’ll do a post about that magical trip.

Something else, a note from my dad.  Writing me about the correct way to drink tea.💞 Now it’s in my mom’s recipe box.

And this painting my dad did of his beloved dog, Chief.

And my mom’s jacks and balls. Which I labeled and saved.

And I found this photo of me and my brother Jim with my cute mom and dad, which I don’t remember seeing before, something else to put in her recipe box. Too bad about the over-exposure, but still . . . look how their arms lean into each other. They are in it together. And there’s a picket fence back there! I must have seen it and fell in love!

And this book was in the pile. I still remember the night I met Julia and how much it meant to me.

Deep in the files was this little notebook I used when writing my first book with all kinds of little reminders, quotes and notations, and even grocery lists. The address of Little Brown, and Random House. Lots of dreams tied up in this messy little book.

And I found the hollyhock seeds sent to me by Nicoline, one of our girlfriends from Holland, over a year ago! But I wasn’t here to plant them last spring, and we also went away in the fall, so they didn’t get planted then either ~ I decided to see if they would sprout, and look, they did!

Kind of a miracle . . .

You might remember Nicoline from our picnic in England! She and her husband came from Holland and she brought her own Petey doll to show me!

And now her hollyhocks are planted in my garden . . . I get so many plants from my girlfriends, I call my garden a friendship garden!

This was what it looked like outside this morning, the wisteria has begun to bloom, Lowely’s bluebells are blooming too, at the far corner of the picket fence!

I bring the blooming things in for the little shelf over my kitchen sink . . .

And took a photo of the inside of the little bells of Lily of the Valley . . .

And, you may ask, what has Joe been doing all this time! Oh, we are a team! He has been doing to the yard, what I have been doing to my studio. He’s been thatching, raking, mulching, top dressing, seeding and watering. Men ask, “What do women want?” But they should know . . . This is every woman’s aphrodisiac, someone to build a life with.💞 When we stand next together, our arms press together.


You can hear Jack meowing! I love it when he talks in a video, not easy to get him to do it!

I heard the ferry boat whistle just now like a long musical note. 🎵 Sometimes I forget where I am, how close the sea is, until I hear the boat whistle!

And as so many of you know, the Studio has been busy too . . . sending out your new English bone china cups . . . 💞

And these are the people who’ve been making that happen.  Alfredo, Sheri and Kellee at the Studio. Couldn’t do it without these wonderful people! Monday is Kellee’s birthday!

And I got mine!! Just as excited as everyone else!

I’m very proud of them. It’s hard finding really beautiful things, and then being able to afford to get them made, especially in foreign countries! Now we are importers! We talk palettes, air freight, and customs! TMI for sure!

It’s been a lot of fun on Twitter, so many Girlfriends have written and sent photos, saying, “Got mine!” Marcia (@msmrph) sent this darling photo of herself and her best friend Julie captioned “Tea for two Besties!” Makes my day! Our cup club is not very big, but it’s very wonderful!

We’re working to make your Christmas especially easy this year. I know it’s a long time until then, but in order to get things made in time, we have to start now… we love planning surprises. Especially for you. Like our dream charms. So many of you have asked us to bring them back, so we did. 💞 Here they are! I think they’ll be in our web store the first couple of weeks of June.

We reordered three of our most popular charms . . .  Autumn (in that first photo), A Fine Romance (see the hedgerows?👍),

and the ever-popular “Be an Elf,” all with small gift cards . . .

And in the midst of cleaning the Studio, sort of on top of the layers, I did manage to finish designing the bottoms, the handles, and the backs of the new mugs, and sent them off to England where the process of manufacturing has already begun. They are supposed to be here by August! We’re taking no chances they would be late for Christmas, and we need that Autumn cup first! And, yes, they are in the web store for Presale right now! I know it’s hard to think Christmas, but please try, because, like with the last ones, when these are gone, they are gone. You’ll be glad when December comes and you don’t have to go Christmas shopping! ❤️ Here they are:

Santa Claus is coming to town! In 16 ounces of fine bone China from “the Potteries” in Staffordshire, England! And, yes, they are all dishwasher and microwave safe!

This is the back . . . (only a mockup, made from paper in these photos, will look a lot better in real life!)

I did a construction-paper chain for the handle. Oh by gosh by golly!

And we have a 16-ounce Bluebird of Happiness. Which is going to look really good in my new blue kitchen! 💙

Here’s the back. It’s trying to be whimsical!

And the handle. I think it’s adorable. But still, only paper!

And my Autumn cup is a little bit smaller, 11 ounces, because you asked! I’ll do one for every season, all this same size. The only difference between this design and the real life one to come, the handle is actually going to be on the other side . . . This quote will actually be on the “front” of the cup. . .

And this will be the back ~ the handle will be on the other side from what you see here, and the squirrel will be on the left facing the other way . . . I decided I liked it better like that. Decisions, decisions.

The handle. 🍂 Signifies abundance.🍁

And now, my Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams 16-ounce cup.  You drink from it, and I hear, could be a rumor, but I think not,  your dreams will come true. ⚡️

It’s a short trip to the Island, via cup. 🛳

And here’s the handle. 💙

Be sure to read the small print on the ordering page, it explains lots of things, like what we are doing, and why, when we retire each of the cups . . . too long for the blog, but extra reading while ordering and good clarification! Hope you like them!

Now, last but definitely not least, Jack. He has taught me a couple of new tricks. You know how cats jump up to rub on your leg? Well, he gets on the table and rubs (sort of butts) my forehead, and now I softly butt him back, and we have a meeting of the minds. He puts his head near mine and wants me to do it. We are blood cat brothers. He also LOVES the running water in the bathroom . . . we go there to play . . . he is rather calm in this video, because I have the camera and he knows it, but usually he makes me turn the water on and off really fast, he bites it and grabs it and sometimes he comes out of there wet! It’s his secret life. Joe doesn’t even know about this. How do I explain that I’m being trained by the cat?!

💙💙And one more thing, I have a surprise for you . . . I thought we’d give away one of these new cups! If you already have yours, it’s okay, you’ll have a best-friend gift all ready to go!

And whoever our lucky winner is will get their choice of which one! In Love with Nature on the left, Little Things in the middle, or Love on the right. All you have to do is leave a comment! And in a week or so, we’ll get Vanna back from Bali (I think that’s where she is ~ she’s hard to keep up with!) to pull the winning name.  And I hope it’s YOU! 🌸

Bye for now Girlfriends, have a wonderful day! Love and ❌’s, Me.

Oops! P.S. Almost forgot to say, in case anyone will be around, I’ll be signing books and visiting at Titcomb’s Book Shop on Wednesday, June 7, from 1 to 3pm … joining this wonderful, independent, family-owned bookstore in celebration of their 50th Anniversary! Please come by and say hello if you can! It’s on Cape Cod in East Sandwich, click above for details. There will be cupcakes, and you don’t need a ticket to come! 😘

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2,073 Responses to No More Swords, Courts, and Kings!

  1. Susie (Grayslake, IL) says:

    Susan … you’re an inspiration. Now it’s on to cleaning my computer room/sewing room …in essence, my corner of the world, which is a mess. 💖

    • Peg Filling says:

      Dear Friend Susan ~

      Im so happy to read all your new news.Thank you for being you! Happy June
      The sun is shining yay! Takecare Friend xo

  2. Marie W. says:

    Oh, yes! I too have been cleaning my sewing room now for the past 2 months. Making progress….slowly….but progress none the less. It all feels so good.

  3. Nancy says:

    Thank you for such inspiration to look for those blank spaces! I too have been cleaning out, sorting and boxing up! LOVE the new mugs! They will look lovely along side our Emma B’s!

  4. Patty says:

    I would so love to receive the Little Things mug. I just finished reading Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams. What a beautiful, delightful work of art. So many things to think about now, quotes to make notes of, ideas for my house, gardens and garden shed. I’ve collected your books for years, and have always loved that the pages are full of your original works – oh, to be so talented!

  5. Marianne says:

    My daughter said, “Who could not smile when they look at those cups.”

  6. Evelyn says:

    You inspired me to finally tackle the piles of paper in my office.
    Love the mugs and would feel lucky to have one!

  7. Charis Miller says:

    Would love to win a cup! They’re all so beautiful!

  8. Nancy Hussey says:

    Hope you had a wonderful tea party ! What a great idea for a going away party ! I always love your blog…it makes my day !

  9. Sam says:

    The new cups are just precious. And as always I loved the news. Thank you

  10. Marilyn says:

    How I would love winning a cup from you for my sister for Christmas. She would love it, I just know she would!!!

  11. Jane P S says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for your wonderful way of sharing From the Heart, words, quotes, photos and water colors!

    Thank you so much!

    Jane P S

  12. Denise says:

    My sister loves your mugs and I would definitely give her the mug for a surprise for no reason gift. Thank you for making such lovely pieces.

  13. Kay says:

    Fingers crossed for the giveaway!
    Thank you for the opportunity.

  14. Jeanine says:

    Lovely mugs! I’ve always wanted an Emma Bridgewater mug but I dare say yours are prettier! Shhh, don’t tell!

  15. Laura P says:

    The mugs are so pretty! It would be fun to share them with my nana and mom.

  16. Karen Seward says:

    Ohh my Post is gone, wonder why………

  17. Marge says:

    You have inspired me to start decluttering! When I need a break from the difficulty task I stop to enjoy some Fortnum & Mason tea in one of the two beautiful English china cups that arrived in the mail. I bought ” The Little Things” and “In Love With Nature”. I love them both! Your adorable sheep is my favorite. Should I be the lucky winner I will gift a cup to a girlfriend. 😊

  18. Pat C. says:

    I, too, am lightening my life, Susan. It was so good to see your desk—it looks like mine! I still have all my writing files to go through but it will be therapeutic. I think everyone should try and go through their things every 5 years or so and to donate or discard or declutter things they don’t need or want anymore. It is very freeing!

  19. Mia Sophia says:

    Hello Susan…
    The mugs are DARLING! So hard to choose if I can only get one at a time!
    And, thank you for the inspiration and pep talk on clearing out some of the “old stored in the past” items to make room for “new ideas and future adventures”. It is a tough thing to do but breathing room is nice to have as well! Thanks to You!

  20. Libby Gleason says:

    Hi Susan!

    I posted earlier, but I don’t see my comment anywhere. I’d love a chance to win a mug, so I will try again!

    I shared that I have had a signed copy of “A Fine Romance” since last May when I met you in Denver. I have been resisting temptation to read it while working on my masters degree. I finished my last paper (until fall) last night and I picked up your book this morning! it feels like visiting with an old friend! Thank you!!


  21. Marcia says:

    Someone just commented that “Susan is good for pretty much anything that ails you.” True! Just returned from visiting my wonderful sister in San Diego and it always makes me sad to say goodbye, but so grateful for the time we had together. I’ve always called her “Birdie,” so I think a birdie cup would be just the thing for her. Do you think Vanna will choose me this time? Can she be bribed?

  22. Jackie says:

    Reading your blog is like spending time with a dear friend. I love your paper mess clean-up photos. Very inspirational! …and the new teacups are wonderful.

  23. Susan says:

    We share the same year of birth and my daughter asked me to give her 1 picture from every decade!! Well, it was a huge project as we’ve lived in soooo many places but it forced me to organize a lifetime of memories. It feels so lovely

  24. Charlotte says:

    I didnt see this post until today so I guess its too late to be included in chance for one of your new mugs?? Whaaa Vanna, have pity!!!!

  25. Kim Campbell says:

    I’d love to win one. They are so pretty!

  26. Cindy Chaplin says:

    Oh Susan, I very much look forward to your posts. You’re comings and goings are always entertaining and uplifting to my day…I love the sweet little tweeting bird that greets me:)

    We were doing the same things in the Midwest….listening to the Beatles, driving around with friends, talking on the phone, laying out with baby oil. The list is long and distinguished and I know we were very busy doing whatever was our hearts desire and the moment. My mom was a famous “jacks” player too.

    We meet you and Joe last summer on your tour and couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves any more…unless we’d had lunch:) My sister, daughter and daughter in law, my girlfriends were all with me. And then you posted our picture on your blog!! We thought we were celebrities! You can imagine the phone calls to discuss you, Joe, Jack, your books and of course, how each of us looked in the picture and what we were wearing:)

    Thanks for sharing your happy gene with so many of us, as you know some always rubs off.

    Your far away girlfriend,

    ps. If I were so lucky to get a gift from you, I’d choose the nature mug.
    Your arbor looks awesome and I hope the rain holds off for you and your friends:)

  27. Raenell Cannady says:

    Hi Susan…. Hope all is good with you and that your tea party went well under the arbor of love and dreams!
    I cant tell you how much joy one of your mugs would bring to my life right now. I bit of sunshine, a bit of love. Hope I am the lucky winner!
    Have good days……..xo

  28. Jamie says:

    I love my new mug, the little things, it makes me smile. Your posts are so fun and whimsical, and bring a bright spark of happiness. I’d love to have a mug to send to my best friend. Would you please enter me into the drawing by Vanna?

  29. sharon taylor says:

    Hi Susan, Busy lady. Just curious what I’m doing wrong. I’ve posted two comments and haven’t seen them. The first time I introduced myself you said “welcome Sharon”. One comment was regarding your purging and packing. The second was about your mugs.

  30. M.Carmen says:

    I love visiting your blog and reading about your life’s adventures. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Linda Hickman says:

    I just read this post. What a delightful way to begin a day of clearing out some clutter! It does feel very freeing to know that we are not alone in this endeavor. Such beautiful new mugs. Thank you for sharing your lovely talents with us.

  32. Martha Kormondy says:

    I am smitten with your beautiful mugs! Probably too late for the drawing but just had to tell you anyway!

  33. Cam O'Brien says:

    Dear Susan,
    You’ve inspired me to clean out cupboards and closets and get more organized. On one of these many rainy days, when I’m not gardening, I can make progress with spring cleaning. Happy Summer!

  34. Diane Shoup says:

    I started my Spring Cleaning early in February with the help of my son and his wife. They hauled out a dozen containers, some boxes and bags each weekend from my attic. It took six weeks to clear out over 72 containers of various sizes, an uncounted number of bags and boxes. I refilled about 15 to go back up and we left the containers of children’s books and Star Wars toys untouched. It was hard parting with all those treasures but feels so good to know the attic is mostly empty. I have started again on the main body of the house! Books are the hardest for me to let go. My craft room will be last, smaller than your space but packed tight with supplies for cardmaking, photo album projects and drawing. You have inspired me to tidy it up and get creating! Love the bluebird cup especially…they are all charming!

  35. Elaine Woodford says:

    I know the cups are 16 oz, but it really helped to see your friends holding them up. Just the right size, and I love them! I MUST order one this very minute!!!

  36. Love reading about your spring cleaning! Just what I need to start doing! I love going through things and finding treasures and it’s always wonderful to find things to donate and clean out! We’ve been donating lots of books to the Little Free Library my son and I helped get started in our township parks. Love those Little Free Libraries! Thanks for the inspiration! And your mugs are lovely as can be!

  37. Karen Baron says:

    The new English bone China designs are so exciting!! The beautiful charms are exquisite!! I need to clear up some space too!! I once made a recipe book for all my relatives at a family reunion!! I wish I could have painted on the pages like you do, but, I used stickers, embellishments, pictures, and other items and spiral-bound the little books!! Everyone loved them!! I used different ink colors to print the recipes of everyone’s favorites they submitted to me on index cards and inserted the recipe cards into mini folders, picture corners, etc. so it is easy to remove the recipe card to use and put it back in the book!! I do get inspired with a clean work space!! I needed this blog today!! I love your cups!! ☕️ Love from California!!🌹

  38. Donna Jones says:

    It’s going to be hard to wait for August to receive the autumn cup. I was going to order one of the spring cups (actually have my sister buy it for my birthday) and I was too late. So I’m entering the drawing, hoping I will win a cup.
    I think your girlfriends are really lucky to come to your house for tea. I hoping you’ll share pictures with us!
    PS You can come to my house to clean up ANYTIME! Hee hee!

  39. Karen Bowerman says:

    Lovely blog. I too am cleaning up my living spaces so they are more calming. My worst culprit is the desk. It can be clean one minute and a mess a minute later! You have inspired me to do even better with mine!

  40. Ingrid says:

    So pity if I am too late. But it is a long way to the Netherlands 🙂

  41. Kristen M. says:

    Love the mugs! Love your Spring pictures! Your newsletter is always like a breath of fresh air. Simple pleasures are the best especially now with the ways of the world. Thank you for reminding us that simple is best!

  42. Mary jane fitzgerald says:

    How i would have loved to help you organize your room. I
    adored seeing all the memories you found. I have collected
    so many of your books and memorabilia. ❤️

  43. Nancy Grossnickle says:

    How I love your posts! They make my day. Please enter me in your giveaway. The cups are gorgeous. I want them all! Greetings from Illinois. We’re finally getting summer weather


  44. Sherrill Bruning says:

    Love,love all the mugs–iI would be thrilled with any of them. Your art & Writing are truly a gift from God & you bless so many with the love we see in your works.❤️

  45. Nanci says:

    Susan, I forgot to ask if you’ve heard of the series on Netflix called “Escape to the Country”? It’s England’s answer to our American “House Hunters”. It’s people looking at British homes in the English countryside!! It helps with the homesickness.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, we watch it all the time! So interesting to see the different parts of the countryside!

  46. Kathy Landes says:

    Love visiting your blog. It’s like visiting with a dear friend.

  47. Margeaux Holland says:

    Love everything you have and do! Keep life as you have it ;D And, thanks for the chance to win a special mug from you 😀

    All the best with love…and tea!
    Margeaux Holland

  48. Connie Martin says:

    I hope to get in the drawing. I love all of the new mugs!! Your room looks great. I really must get on that cleaning thing.

  49. Lynne Tharan says:

    What a delight after a long day of taking house plants outside , then cleaning the sun porch where they lived all winter, to read your Willard. The mugs are gorgeous and so representative of your work. Thank you for the opportunity to win one! ♥

  50. Kris says:

    Just finished A Fine Romance and am loving this site. Please keep brightening the world with your art and words. And I’d love The Little Things mug for my mother, who bought me your book! Thank you!

  51. Diana Hall says:

    What a lovely blog post and I just L. O.V. E. My mugs and the new ones are gorgeous too!! Thanks for this wonderful opportunity! Can’t wait for Vanna’s return! Happy weekend all!

  52. Rose Storm says:

    Susan, I would love to win one of your mugs. They are so cute! Right now I’m reading your last book. My son and his wife gave it to me for my birthday. I’m enjoying it very much. I want to get the other two books you wrote. I have M.S. and reading is one thing that I can still enjoy.

    • sbranch says:

      It takes you places doesn’t it, Rose? We’re so lucky to have books and storytellers! xoxo

  53. Evelyn McKenna says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful newsletters. I love all of the details!

  54. Gretchen says:

    I’m sure your nieces will always treasure the memory of their trip with you. Everyone needs a special aunt. Remember the book, Eight Cousins, with all the aunts. As a child, I loved that book. It always reminds me of my wonderful aunts and cousins. I love mugs and teacups. I will be putting your mugs on my wish lists.

  55. Susan it’s so good to see other ladies who have the same issues as I have. I spent a couple of months cleaning out all of my drawers, closets and bedrooms. You are so right it feels so wonderful. Congratulations on a job well Dona!

  56. Missy Collins says:

    Great organization! It has inspired me to get going on paring down my things also. Thank you for your beautiful posts, love your stories and artwork.

  57. Sheryl from Magalia, CA says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am so in love with all your mugs. I am beginning to think I need to change my priorities of what’s important to me. It’s a new outfit or a set of mugs. Set of mugs is winning. They are exquisite. Thank you for all the detail and love you put into your designs.

  58. Pamela says:

    Oh, Susan! You are inspiring me to attack my quilt room! We have 5 children and they are all grown (from our 34 year old son who is a priest at Notre Dame, 32 year old pediatrician who is pregnant with our 3rd grandchild due in July; 26 year old identical twins and our youngest who is 23 and has just finished her first year at her new job after graduating from college — all while raising our first grandson who just turned 4). It seems like there is always something that comes up — like a new grandchild, running to babysit a grandchild or a wedding (Molly, one of the twins, just got married April 29th). So you have inspired me. I have so many UFO (unfinished objects or in my case, quilts, sewing projects)s! I want to go through and get rid of things I no longer want or need. Your perseverance has inspired me. I don’t have the lovely art work you have created…but I do have lots of wonderful fabrics and treasures. I’ll just attack it one shelf at a time like you. Thank you for your post. I loved reading it with my very sick 14 year old kitty, Moselle, at my side (she has kidney disease). I’m reading Isle of Dreams — I so love it! I’ve been a fan of yours since you did the recipes in Country Living a million years ago I think before I had kids! I love calligraphy and subsequently have all of your cookbooks (I love to cook, too!). I fell in love with your art in those books and recipes!

  59. Judy Baker says:

    I love my Simple Things mug!

  60. Valerie Johnson in Weatherford, Texas :) says:

    I’m so glad you decided to share the before & after unstuffing of your house photos. You know we ALL need to do this from time to time. I was forced into doing it last summer when we moved from our home of many years. It is freeing, lightening, I think you said and I agree. Now if I can just “inspire” my husband to do the same with the garage and barn. haha

    Give Jack a little scratch behind the ear for me. Does he still gather his toys into one place?

    • sbranch says:

      Yes he does, but his toys are only one thing, hair bands. He really doesn’t care about anything but them. He piles them up where he knows I will be walking!

  61. Tina says:

    I love that you had a mess! It made me feel better about mine! Favorite part of the blog was the typed “news” from Gram! I absolutely adore those good old letters!

  62. Maria says:

    Love the cups! They are so cute. But not in my farmer budget. Good blog post.

  63. Diane says:

    Thanks for your organizing inspiration-just what I needed! I love, love, love opening up your emails. I often save them to read with a cup of tea and they always make my mood and day a little better, so THANK YOU! Today I was up very early to drop my hubby at the airport, so after reading this you have inspired me to get outside and later get paint for my bedroom (finally), and do some organizing. I have two sweet kitties (kind of old ladies) that brighten up my day (one could be Jack’s sister) and “help” me with projects too! Thanks for all your cheer!

  64. Lisa R (northern Az) says:

    I’ve just returned myself from being gone a lot! Catching up on your blog, I’m 3 posts behind. So encouraged Susan, by this clean up post, as I need to do a few areas in our home. We just planted our vegetable garden yesterday, and now I’m ready to get busy inside as the hot days arrive. It’s so hard to let go of things you love, but can’t possibly keep it all. I like your idea of photos and files. Also emptying the shelves! Yes, take it all off, and only put back what you love. Best idea! Thank you for the encouragement, and the chance for one of your sweet mugs. Have a wonderful summer Susan! ….and I most agree that a special someone to team up with in life is the biggest blessing of all.♥

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