People often ask me what inspired me to move all the way across country, from California where I grew up, to New England ~ to an Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, so very far away from home, where they had this thing called winter. MUSICA? Well, the short answer is the break-up of my marriage in California and the strong urge to escape the pain of it. But the deeper answer is . . .Not just autumn, but all of it . . . everything New England seemed to offer (from all the books I’d read), deep traditions, romance and inspiration that comes with nature, the authenticity of the old houses that had seen so much~ it all seemed to represent a solid foundation where I hoped I could build a solid new life.

And no, 35 years later, I’m still not used to it. I don’t think I ever will be.

I still see the change of seasons as a miracle. Four-times-a-year for extra celebration, totally organic, not man-made, God provided, and real as real could be. So I thought I’d give you my “Best of Autumn,” just in cases you aren’t yet in the mood 🎃 ~ hopefully when this post is done, you will be, because what I want to do is help you . . .

Is that color possible in nature? No. Not possible. Probably the camera had a piece of red cellophane over it!!!  Wrong. But that’s actually what I used to think when I was a child and would see photos of New England in the fall. It just couldn’t be real.

Now that I know better, you would think I would get used to it, but apparently that’s never going to happen. Looks like magic to me.

I’ve walked down a dirt road through the woods to the water almost every day of the last 35 years. The first five I did alone, then I met Joe, and we’ve done it  together ever since, in all seasons. I told you, I love tradition. The over-and-over leaves an ownership imprint, and someday far into the future, Joe and I will haunt this place for eternity. When I wear this loosely woven sweater, I can tuck in stems of the wild things I find growing along the side of the road. 🍂Then of course Joe feels the need to hide in the bushes all the rest of the way home!

Is this not romantic? Sooo romantic, little cottage by the sea, we walk by it every day. Simple and surrounded by color . . . in the foreground is bittersweet, it grows wild and free, it makes a celebration where there might not normally be one. You see? Not my idea. It’s nature! We gather it to decorate our front door. 🍁

In the fall you can feel the icy breath of winter in the wind that blows leaves through the air. Black crows fly low across the road, cawing the whole way. Someday I will catch one with my camera!

My traditions hold inside the house too.  My little rusty birds, garlands, wreaths, leaves, owls, birds, festoons, out of the boxes they come!

Then of course, there’s the dance of the tea towels . . .

I can tell you about the fall breezes, but here you can see it . . . and we can smell it too ~ and not only the fragrance of the sea ~ but as it flits around the Island it gathers perfume from everything that grows wild: goldenrod, clematis, wild apples and pine, blueberries, sandy beach plums, asters and bayberry. 🌻 As I wrote in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, “the salty breeze slips in and out of seashells, climbs tree trunks, dives into squirrel holes, slides along old porch rails, stumbles through the bittersweet, skips along picket fences, scoots beneath falling leaves, whistles past ancient graveyards, flits over and under dragonfly wings, and steals all the wishes off the dandelion puffs, flinging them in every direction, wishes for all.” It’s the pure romance of the seasons. 🍂

And my little bo-bo waits for me to come in.

Our very best tradition. Cat-loving people that we are. True blessings are all around us.💞

I brought in the last Just Joey rose of the season ~ in the little blue bottle Joe found while digging the hole to plant our Dogwood tree. And you can see our best tradition peeking out from the corner of the screen door.

The garden isn’t finished yet. I plant things that bloom late so we keep ourselves stocked in garden flowers for as long as possible, till the first freeze.

To some, marigolds are common, but they are the BEST when it comes to fall color right from the garden. Long-lasting flowers that know their job and do it well.

Lighting candles, part of the tradition of the season, for the shorter days and colder nights, wind beating our shutters against the house. And P.S.: LAST NIGHT!!! PBS was golden! The new season of The Durrells started (you would love it), and after was Poldark, and advertised was the new season of Victoria starting in January! So much to look forward to! Right now, while I’m writing you, I’m listening to the BBC production called Byron (as in Lord). I just spoke into my remote, and there it was!

Lounge lizard.

More wind, crunch leaves, sweet smelling sheets . . .

This is a sandy driveway where the leaves have been driven over so many times they are imprinted. I thought it would make gorgeous fabric.

And we’ve been cooking too . . . this recipe cooks at 250 degrees for 7 hours! Makes the house smell heavenly. It’s Spicy Short Ribs, I made it for you last Christmas in another post  . . . just click HERE and scroll to the bottom for the recipe. It’s so good!

And here’s the Marmalade tea bread! (Recipe is HERE, just scroll to bottom of this old post.)

All for my favorite thing, setting the table, with my purple Windsor Ware . . . and, here’s a little tip: flowered dishes look best with striped, plaid or plain-colored napkins.

Some things are a must at this time of year . . . homemade pie crust is one of them. I have to say, if you haven’t had a real homemade pie crust in a while, you don’t know what you are missing. Fill it with pumpkin . . . homemade is best! There is nothing like cooking and nurturing to make you feel 100% better about the world.

Am I right, or am I right?

I love this photo. It was on a door of a tea room we visited years back and I just love it ~ it screams halloween! 🕷 Or maybe I scream halloween. But definitely, someone is screaming! 😱

And this foggy day showed all the dripping little webs that normally you don’t even know are there. In our woods they’re on the ground, between every leaf  and twig. . . sparkling in the mist and dew. 🕸

And now, about pumpkins . . .

We found these pumpkins at a craft show. They are easy to make, but you have to grow them and mark them while they are young ~ it’s so easy, you can put your family name on them, read HERE for a How To. . . it’s pure magic for children! 🎃 There are so many interesting pumpkins available these days. Below, the warty ones are called Knuckleheads . . . there are Cinderella and Lakota too, beautiful and fun to grow, remember for next spring! Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget!

I’m a star pumpkin girl myself, but Joe always does a few faces . . .

Don’t forget to put cinnamon and nutmeg on the inside of the top of your pumpkins for wonderful smells when lit.

And of course him. Casper. Our ghost. SUCH a tradition. This house would not be a house without our ghost.  How many years have we had him now? Maybe twenty!

We have a street coming toward the house, with a stop sign out front, and for twenty years Casper has been in our upstairs window saying HELLO to everyone who goes by. I’ve never seen another one like him, but I think it might be possible to make one (not by me, but I think Joe could do it, or maybe you can! Or perhaps you have a Joe of your own who might like a project that will last forever) …. would you like some photos of his innards? I can do that!

You can get an idea of his frame by seeing the light through the cloth ~ its like a wire dress form. The cloth is cotton, starched to the nth degree, and lightly covered in the finest glitter. There are two tiny lightbulbs attached inside to the frame, top and bottom, and one inside the pumpkin all on one cord that we plug into the wall.

Here he is from the front, holding a pumpkin . . . which is also framed in wire ~ its fabric is felt.

There are two round frames, one on the bottom (which you can see in the photo above) which is what Casper sits on, the other is visible in that first picture ~ from the back ~ up toward the top of the head. And all the vertical wires are hooked to them.

The little arms are separate, and here’s how they are hooked to the main frame.

There are two lightbulbs fitted into the two round frames.

There’s a tear in the ghost fabric to hook the frames together, to hook the pumpkin to the ghost, and for the light for the pumpkin to go through. The pumpkin hides the tear.

 And voila!

You can see him up top center window.

There have been a lot of Autumns at this house. Tradition, authenticity, romance, endurance, security, dreams, and somehow, despite everything, a symbol for the continuity of life, the manifestation of my childhood faith in forever. Cue the Musica . . .  🎵 I would love to see how it looked inside on the day this photo was taken, what they were doing in the kitchen, go to the barn and see the horses … go for a ride in the carriage down to Main Street . . .

Gathered from the woods, from the farmstand and from Michael’s Crafts.

We are ready! Bring. It. On. We get a jillion kids at halloween. We have a responsibility to give back some of the magic we’ve been given.

Our other house decoration is our big BOO in the window!

Lovely wonderful bittersweet. Another miracle from nature.

Last year we were in England for the fall . . . I’m standing in the 13th century churchyard looking at the moon across from where our dear friend Rachel lives. Whoooo . . .

Here we are at Carrie’s darling house in Oxford! Lots of you know her from Twitter . . . go say Hi! Aren’t blue and orange perfect together?

And here we were, apple tasting with our friend Siobhan in the glorious English Countryside . . .

Perfectly wonderfully charming . . . an apple on every fence post . . .

Last October 19 we were busy setting the table and decorating the dining room in a house in Bath where we were staying (with Ray’s friends and family) to help celebrate Rachel’s birthday! Yes, balloons and hats and bunting, streamers and candles!

While we were doing that, she was waiting in the kitchen ~ no peeking!  Drinking wine and overseeing the cooking of the birthday dinner. 

Here’s Ray’s cake, with all of our rings on board, ready for her to make a wish and blow out the candles. It was a wonderful time and a luv-lee memory. And now, here we are, one year later! We can surprise her again, Girlfriends 🎉 . . . click HERE and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY 🎁 … or, HERE . . . or, if you live in the UK, go HERE, and get a sample of the amazing Sugar Moon Brownies she makes, packs and sends in the mail! Her birthday is on Thursday and I’m not going to say a THING . . . 🤐 shhhhhhh.💞

In the meantime, I go to my studio every day .  .  . making new things, painting for the 2019 calendar with my little three haired brush . . .

And this week, I’ve been choosing thread colors for my newComing soon . . . Have I told you? Yes, we found someone wonderful in the USA to make them for us . . . coming to our web store soon.

This is the newest . . . just finished and needs ironing, but I think it’s going to be darling! This is cross-stitch, but some of the kits will be printed too . . . Nothing like needlework to take your mind off the cares of the day and leave it to wander and dream in an aimless, do-something kind of way. Hand sewing and old movies go together like ice cream and cake. I speak from lots of happy experience. I tell you more very soon.

Jack’s been helping us plan our next trip to the UK! Maybe not helping, perhaps blocking.

Also, for you who’ve been asking ~ two of our “Sold Out” cups came back in! The manufacturer let us know they had some “leftover” decals ~ and asked if we wanted them to make a few more . . . we said we’d take them all . . .

So, there were two . . . the 16 oz. Martha’s Vineyard . . .

And the 11 oz. Autumn cup ….

We didn’t get many, but I hope this will fix it so that everyone who wanted one, gets one!

One more of my favorite fall traditions: I just bought the most delicious new flannel jammies. I love thick cottony flannel for our wintery nights . . . the best ones I’ve found are at Garnet Hill . . . . when I find something good, I need to tell my Girlfriends! 💋So off I go to write a new WILLARD . . . in case you don’t know, WILLARD is my Newsletter, you can sign up and every so often it will just appear in your mailbox . . . lots of interesting things to tell you about . . . it  should be going out sometime next week. Until then my dear, darling Girlfriends, remember to choose love.

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1,338 Responses to INSPIRED by AUTUMN

  1. Julie Pohl says:

    Thank you – you are one of a kind – the best! I have enjoyed all of your books, writing, art, recipes, travel, thoughts, ideas….a heartfelt thank you!

  2. Cozette B says:

    What a wonderful Willard and Blog for Autumn. I can just hear the leaves crunching under my feet and am ready to try your Molasses cookies this weekend!


  3. Nan Rohan says:

    Dear Susan, please enter me in your dishes drawing! Thank You!

  4. Lynne Tharan says:

    I love all things Susan Branch! When I first discovered your books, I was a young librarian in a small, rural public library. I bought each of your books when they were published – one for the library and one for me.
    Now I am retired and still watch for each book you write, and my husband always gets me your calendar for Christmas…life is good

  5. Jenny says:

    We do not have many fall days in Florida…it’s fun to virtually have fall!
    Thank you!

  6. Sherry Whitted says:

    I hope I win

  7. Mary Stevens says:

    I love ❤️ your designs. They make me smile 😊. Please enter me in your drawing for the dishes.

  8. Julie Dietrick says:


  9. Glenda says:

    Please oh please may I be ever so lucky to be entered into this wonderful and amazing drawing!!! Nothing would make me happier to be a lucky winner, such beautiful and uplifting works of art!!!! I will display them proudly!!!

  10. Susan says:

    I have enjoyed everything you do. Would love to win!
    Thank you!

  11. Marjorie Mendenhall says:

    Thank You for having the drawing!

  12. Audrey Woodbeck says:

    You are such an inspiration for people to enjoy all the simple pleasures that life brings! Love your new dishes and would love to be entered in the draw!

  13. Jocelyn says:

    “In Sure and Certain Hope” I have so missed reading your blog. I must slow my life down and take the time to enjoy it more often! THANK YOU 🙂

  14. Carrie Henry says:

    I love you Susan Branch ❤️🌻🍂🐿📚🏡

  15. Kristia Wolf says:

    Enter me! Thanks😊

  16. Dotty wellman says:

    I so wish I could afford some of your china items! They are gorgeous!💕

  17. Kathy McCann says:

    I just love all Susan Branch things, and my family knows it too. I look forward to my Susan Branch calendar every Christmas.
    Please enter me in your drawing for the dishes.

  18. Dana Rhine says:

    Thank you for your joy-filled spirit and the time you spend sharing it with others.😊

  19. Gina Bagley says:

    Thank you for sharing the changing seasons with us deprived Californian’s.

  20. Jennifer Holston says:

    Thanks so much for all that you share with us. I enjoy the season change too! Hope I’m lucky enough to win your dishes!

  21. Gretchen Goodwin says:

    I’ve been receiving your newsletter for some time now but I have just finished reading your first 2 books and starting the third. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed hearing about your life and adventures. Your books are page turners for me. I’m starting A Fine Romance now. You are indeed an inspriation that anything is possible Susan , and I adore you. Thank you so very much for sharing your life full of wisdom. God richly bless you. Please enter me in your contest for the dishes.

  22. Megan Hyatt says:

    We are sweltering in spring here in Aus, I envy your autumn. Love to see the photos of that fabulous Volvo. Enjoy halloween.

  23. JoAnn Servedio says:

    Please, oh please, won’t you enter me in your drawing, Susan! Thank you for inspiring all of us to live beautifully.

  24. JoAnn Servedio says:

    Sorry, but I do not have a website. Oh well…I tried!

  25. aking me on a delightful tour of all Autumn has to offer , please enter me for dish contest

  26. Lynda Mortensen says:

    Just gorgeous! Here in Colorado our aspen trees are almost bare and we woke up to a sprinkling of snow and frost and fog on this Halloween. The last of the Trick or Treaters (My daughters used to say “Trickle Treat” when they were little!) have gone and I am grateful for a warm hearth and two soft, cuddly cats to warm my feet!

  27. Teri Cardot, San Diego says:

    I’m making those molasses cookies immediately!
    Thanks, Susan—you are an inspiration.

    • Teresa says:

      How is it done, like magic you take me back to feelings felt in childhood; all the wonder, the feeling and the excitement. Just like I felt when I read the poetry and the books of my childhood. I had forgot how excited starting school always was, I could see my new shoes and I absolutely loved getting a new pack of lined paper and picking out my book bag. I loved the smell and the feel of the new paper and the feel of my sharpened pencil as I practiced penmanship.
      So happy I found your blog it is always nice to share the simple joys of life that you always seem to see and remember.
      I just came back from my very first trip to all the New England states. A quick 9 day bus tour for peepers. The mountains were very much like our Appalachian and Blue Ridge, always beautiful, but oh it was the bays and the Lighthouses that I loved and can’t wait to visit again. I was so disappointed that we were not going to Martha’s Vineyard but I hope to return next year to do just that!
      I looked for your mugs in hopes to bring one home, but found none. It would love so much to have one sitting on my shelf to brighten my days; reminding and inspiring me of new possibilities!!!
      A very Happy Fall with Blessings for all

      • sbranch says:

        Its always so great to have a quick visit (no matter where you go) to get the lay of the land. Next time, you’ll know just what you want to see! xoxo

  28. Dee Cantrell says:

    Please enter me for your wonderful delights!Dee

  29. Diane Lake says:

    So enjoy Willard. Would love to be a cute tiny mouse in your pocket for travel adventures! Hugs.

  30. Margie Briscoe says:

    Thank you for the autumn inspiration! So beautiful!

  31. Gloria Nelson says:


  32. Lucy McInerney says:

    Please Enter Me for your contest….
    Love your newsletter and all the pictures of places you’ve traveled, thank you so very much..

  33. Leslie Sherman says:

    Love your Willard’s!

  34. Janice B Smith says:

    Happy Fall Susan!
    I love it also! I just spent 3 weeks with my daughter in Colorado……such color! We don’t have as much here in Northern CA down in the valley….but up in the foothills and in the mountains, the colors abound. It’s time for tea!!
    I have the first set of 3 cups. I have plans to add more to my cupboard for sure. I thought ahead and ordered my set of calanders……forgot one year and you were out. So, all’s well here in Northern CA……you stay safe with all the storms out there.
    Jan from Northern CA

  35. Janet Holland says:

    Thank you for providing happy moments as I read Willard and enjoy my tea.

  36. Karen H says:

    LOVE your new dishes! Please enter me in the drawing. Have so many friends and family I would love to give them to!

  37. Gmapat says:

    The dishes are totally adorable, oh, how I love your art and for many, many years🍁💛🍂

  38. Lynn says:

    I just read your blog for the first time, and hope you enjoyed your stay in Bath. It is where I went to college and also where I met my husband. Although we live in California now, we go home to England twice a year and always stay at the Queensberry Hotel in Bath as that used to be my freshman dorm, but now it is a boutique hotel. So funny to go to the bar and see our mantelpiece where we first met at a party. The decor is definitely much improved as you can imagine.
    I’m reading your Martha’s Vineyard book and will follow it with A Fine Romance as my heart is also in the English countryside.

    • sbranch says:

      How lucky you are that it was made into a hotel where you guys can go to celebrate in front of the MANTLE!!! Adorable! How could anyone not love Bath? Pure magic!

  39. Karen says:

    Thank you for sharing your life with us…💕!
    You are such an inspiration. 😊

  40. MaryEllen Tang says:

    Reading your post is the happiest time of my day. Thanks.

  41. Julia says:

    You are such a positive inspiration in a world that can sometimes not be so positive. I love your art work!

  42. Priscilla Stanford says:

    When I was in high school, I remember my dad had a large container of molasses on top of the refrigerator. He was from the South and was always purchasing a food item he grew up with. One day I decided to make molasses cookies, which turned out pretty good because my dad and brother actually ate them. So thank you for the molasses cookie recipe – this will bring back memories for me!

  43. Lee says:

    You’re my favorite artist! Thank you for sharing all of your talent, tea, travel adventures and fun music with all of us!

  44. Rose Charles says:

    I love Autumn and your accounts of Autumn on Martha’s Vineyard just add to my enjoyment. Halloween! The Best Time of the Year.

  45. Becky Ingledue says:

    Love reading Willard, thank you for all you do.

  46. Lynne says:

    I just love the beauty that each season brings. Martha’s Vineyard is my favorite place to visit, and is particularly charming during the autumn season. I will definitely give your short ribs recipe a try. I can just imagine how amazing our home will smell as they cook. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  47. Jen Pen says:

    Love the poppy story. There’s a little cutie in my neighborhood named Poppy! I gave her a princess tiara once. ❤️
    Love the blog!
    Love you and your girlfriends!
    Joe is one of the good guys!

  48. Mary Claire Cox says:

    Reading your book Isle of Dreams and absolutely loving it.♡

  49. Angela Jones says:

    I finally found the spot! 😝 Thanks so much for all the giveaways! I will win one day!😉 I love your blog!! Have a fab day!

  50. Georgie says:

    Oh Susan!

    Happy Fall! 🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁🍂
    They would look just perfect here. My fingers are crossed that Vanna will dive deep into the pile of girlfriend’s entries and come up with just the right pick!

    Love YOU girlfriend. Our leaves are brilliant with color. We are taking Mom our for a drive in the countryside to enjoy all the trees. Good News! The township finally approved plans to begin the basement renovation so we can move forward. Busy as can be but I wanted to blow fall kisses from NJ.


    • sbranch says:

      Nice to hear from you Georgie, congratulations on the good news for the renovation! Happy November to you and yours!

  51. Jen Jahromi says:

    Your dishes are the cutest ever. I truly don’t know how you find the time to write and post all that and still paint and take pictures! A labor of love for sure.

  52. Jeanne Hopkins says:

    Enter me, please, to win the lovely dishes you are giving away. This is one of your best blogs ever!

  53. Veronica says:

    Oh, I was so envious of your clothesline WIND – love to see clothes blowing on a clothesline. Enjoyed your blog as usual. Please enter me in your contest.

  54. Sandy Garvey says:

    I love your mugs and little dishes. Would be most honored to win. Thank you for the opportunity. Immensely enjoy a cup of tea and catching up with Willard.

  55. Stacy says:

    I would consider it the best Christmas gift ever were I to receive a set of your dishes!

  56. Sandy Olsson says:

    Oh Susan, how I look forward to reading Willard and your Blog. I read every word and listen to all the Musica and linger over the pictures. It is my little bit of Heaven. Thank you for being you and all that you give. Love you,

  57. Carol S. says:

    Two years ago I was fortunate to be in England in November and was amazed at their Remembrance Day observances and felt so honored to be there. Thank you for taking me back. I will wear my poppy again this year.

  58. Dot from Illinois says:

    Thank you for the lovely visit today. Enjoyed a cup of tea while reading the latest Willard. Please include me in the latest give away. Blessings to all.

  59. SusLee says:

    I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog! Kindred spirits for sure!!
    (and I’m an April Susan too!)

  60. Christine Ellis says:

    One of the best reasons to look at my computer!! Have loved your cookbooks and artwork for so long and then you wrote some of my favorite books!!! Thanks for such an uplifting blog and newsletter!

  61. S. Sammarco says:

    I thank you Susan for always being my go to site whenever I need to slow down and be inspired!

  62. Diane Lake says:

    Hi Susan, hope I’m not too late to be entered. Irma here in Florida distracted me from emails and I discovered so many I had “lost” in our weather craziness! If still available, enter my name. Even so, enjoying the August Willard…like a precious lost gift!

  63. DeLores E Johnson (from Minnesota) says:

    There seems to be a problem with my replies. I don’t see mine listed and I was one of the ones to reply first. I wanted to be entered in the drawing for the dishes. Can someone help me and see to that my letters are received by you and I can get replies? Thank You.

    • sbranch says:

      I see your replies and I think they are there…but if you read the post, you’ll see that we have had the drawing and I announced the winners. I’m so sorry DeLores, but we will do it again! xoxo

  64. Debra Sewell says:

    This is a deleriously wonderful Willard. Well they all are, however, this is so filled with the essence of New England. Makes me miss it so much as I live in FL now. Can’t afford prices of rents and food in New England now I live on my SSI retirement. Too expensive so I had to move to survive. So this Willard means allot to me.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s getting to be more like that in so many places. I’m glad my photos help a wee bit Debra! xoxo

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