Hello Everyone! Snowdrops ~ my favorite Valentine bouquet. 💋 Joe went out to the compost pile and came in with these on Valentine’s Day! 💝 Surprise!  And quite early ~ despite know-it-all groundhog.  MUSICA. (Try not to fall out of chair when Helen starts to sing. . . 🎵 rock and roll!)

They’re the perfect flower for one of my little vases. And really, for all of us. The folklore, superstition, and myth around Snowdrops is endless . . . They’ve had many other names: Fair Maids of February, White Ladies, Eve’s Tear, Dew Drops, and White Queen. Snow White’s name in the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales was Snow Drop! In most countries they’re protected ~ collecting bulbs from the wild is now illegal. Go HERE to read a lot more of the who, what, where, why, and when of the lovely brave snowdrop.

 It’s still very cold here ~ they show true courage and huge nature-hearts by daring to peek out this early, but they come prepared, they make their own heat and melt the snow around them. It’s not a surprise to learn they are a symbol for optimism, the emblem of hope and rebirth.

Still winter, but we have our bright blue sky days . . . and courage flowers . . .

And roses, symbols of love, honor, and faith ~ and lighting a candle for the intrinsic goodness of mankind, for grief, for children.🕯 Not so into platitudes or finger-pointing these days ~ throwing arms around ballot box, the symbol of hope. 🙏

I had to show you the Valentine card I found for my darling Joe. Isn’t it perfect?  He’s REAL! I still can’t believe my luck, coming so far away, to a tiny island, and there he was. (I decided he’s the Unicorn and I’m the Fairy . . . clearly neither wins an award for beauty! But, equally magic and he’s the big guy!)

Beloved gumball-machine gift from the unicorn to the fairy.

While a frantic mentality, minutes, hours, and days on the calendar that rule each day at our house, little piles of stuff are everywhere in the house . . . we had a luv-lee time packing up Valentines for our loved ones . . .

I did, I did, I did, love making brownie bites, tying them with heart ribbon, and sending them off in LOVE cups.

We hid all the stuff that’s been piled on the sideboard, making room for a Valentine Dinner Party . . . we cleared off the table . . . and I set it with my red Copeland Spode Tower dishes and lots of candles . . .

Plus sweetheart roses, tulips, and white hydrangea . . .

I took so many photos of this! I’m keeping it down to a dull roar for you, because to the naked eye, I’m sure these photos all look exactly the same. I love Valentine’s Day, it’s the perfect time to pull out all the stops for gushy Queen Victoria romanticism. (Which, by the way, I had my DNA done ~ it just came back this week ~ and I’m in the same haplogroup as she was, whatever that means. Still figuring things out! Very fun. Wanted to do it before we left so we have a clearer picture of our origins. Joe too, my mom, my brother, my sister . . . all in on the action. But I digress! I’ll write more about it later!)

I made all comfort food for dinner (for eight). Spicy short ribs with buttered wide noodles, a green salad, HOT crunchy bread with salty butter, YUM. And here are the desserts, homemade pound cake with fruit, and lots of bakery delights, like strawberry shortcake and coconut cream cake. And in case you missed it the first time, here’s the short rib recipe.  SO delicious! And easy, you don’t brown the meat, just throw the sauce over it ~ it cooks for seven hours in a 250º oven, till the meat turns to buttah and falls off the bone. There’s gravy for the noodles, to sop the bread into. I rest my case.

And here’s a new little short rib tip from the learning curve: This time I took the finished beef out of the pan and set it aside … I thickened the gravy still in the pot (as the recipe suggests), but then I poured the gravy into a shallow pan and put it in the freezer. There was too much grease last time! The fat rises to the top in about a half hour, I scraped it off, and put the ribs back into the roaster, poured the de-fatted gravy over,  and back to the oven for another hour of cooking. Worth every second of it. Still enough fat for flavor, but nothing like before. Eat with abandon! 😘

So this is us, going a mile a minute! The old fashioned way.

With Time-Outs for kitty kissing.

Here’s one the piles we’ll need to take along! Talismans of luck and love. We are turtles and carry home on our backs when we travel. A few little tastes of home, to make us feel cozier in a new, exciting, filled-with-all-new-things, world. Like my pillow for instance. Of course. And maybe one tiny vase, like the one Joe dug up in the back garden. Tiny. Would look so cute with a bluebell in it. Like that.

And this is Charleston . . . the good ship Queen Victoria (starting to sense a theme!) will dock right downtown next to the cobblestone streets of colonial Charleston on March 11 … I hope those of you in the area can join us at the nearby Barnes and Noble for a book signing! Arriving by ship is a definite first for us! Read more about it HERE.

I’m lucky because I can work no matter where I am. Kellee and I are getting expert at it, we’ve been 3000 miles apart for years, producing calendars, cups, bookmarks, and books, with the help of our machines ~ cameras, phones, and computers ~ couldn’t do it without them. I can’t really take four months “off” ~ this will be a “working” trip with really nice work perks and surroundings. Like pubs, for example, and castles. And darling English friends. And the amazing, heart-stopping English Countryside. And Ireland. And Wales. And a Picnic at Beatrix Potter’s house. Somebody stop me. I get up early, so I’ll paint and write while Joe is sleeping, and then, OFF WE GO! Discoveryville!

So, I’m excited because the “Real” samples of the newest Spring cups came in! I thought I would take a pretty photo in front of the roses. I got it all set up, then suddenly, as usual, a shadow popped into the lens of my camera.

“Outta the way Jack!” But nooo . . .

I was sitting in the chair on the right, camera pointed at the cups, and this is where he chose to sit. I love him so much.

So I moved to the kitchen shelf where he would have to be able to fly to get in my way! Here they are! Tomorrow’s the day I have to give my final number for how many they should make . . . I always add a couple hundred to make sure everyone gets one, but sooner or later, we always run out . . . I hope you have yours on the way, they will arrive with the daffodils, in early April. You can read more about them HERE. 

I finished the 2019 calendars too! Yay! This will be the February page of the new Mini Calendar. “Think on these things. . .”

  And here’s the January page for the new Wall Calendar, coming in July if you can believe that! I previewed it on Twitter the other day. Shhhhhh . . . 💞

When we get home, I’ll start thinking about making this tiny vase. I think we all need one. Hang it around our necks. Keep whiskey in it.

Love you Girls, so filled with acts of love, making peace wherever you go. Kindred spirits forever. Enjoy your day. I’m going to pack some more and design some summer cups! XOXO

“It’s believing in roses that makes them bloom . . . “

P R A Y ,   L O V E ,   R E M E M B E R . . .

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448 Responses to SNOWDROPS!

  1. Laura DeGraw says:

    You make me HAPPY 😊 when skies are GRAY, ( unless of course it’s snowing). Just enjoyed your post after cruising from The Bahamas. Love your valentine decor. We got engaged on Valentines Day 24 years ago and we had about 2-3 ft of snow and my parents dog whining to go out throughout the whole proposal. We laugh about it now, but I wanted to hear every word spoken and the only thing I remember is Sam, stop it! Lol. I’m so excited for your trip and am looking forward to you sharing it with us. Blessings to you and Joe.


  2. Carolyn Rector from Ohio says:

    Love to open a new post from you. It’s so lovely. And I am so glad you put the special verse on your small calender for Feb. I try to live that verse, and concentrate on what is lovely. It suits you to a T. Thank you for being you.

  3. Kerry S. from Nolensville, TN says:

    So happy that this is the one place online that I can go to knowing there will be love, happy, peace, music and just a bit of quiet. No spite or meanness here – we have too much that is lovely to treasure and celebrate! Thank you dear Susan for maintaining this little corner of the world.

  4. Sherri McShane says:

    I treated myself to an “after-Christmas present” of A Fine Romance” and the lovely Martha’s Vineyard cup (we went there for our 40th anniversary.). I have had several decadently lazy mornings enjoying my cuppa and reading! Thank you for providing the ambiance! Can’t wait to hear about your upcoming trip!

  5. Mary Ann in Missouri says:

    Hang it around our necks. Keep whiskey in it. 😀 Too funny. As always, I love your blog posts, except I get tired just hearing about all the things you are up to. Excited to go on your trip with you, figuratively speaking.

  6. Joanne Conte says:

    Thank you for the lovely blog post! Valentine’s Day brings out the love in everyone. Keep the faith and keep spreading love every day of the year. Our world depends on it!

  7. Martha says:

    Just had to share this with you! We recently went to an all Beethoven concert at Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio. The conductor had a chat with the audience prior to the concert. He was asked by one of the orchestra members what his thoughts were about Classical Music lasting forever or if he thought it would become less and less due to modern music. He said: “Great art has something in it that outlasts all of us”. The conductor that evening was Franz Welser-Most, who is a world famous conductor. I wrote the quote down when he said it because I thought it held true for any type of art. Design in fashion and advertising, needlework, sculpture and so on. Thank heavens for the artist and that of course, includes you!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Ohhh, thank you. I could not agree more with that quote. It would be the same as having beauty go out of style. We need art to reaffirm our humanity, more than ever these days. I wish beauty would become the quest for all. The question would be, “Is it beautiful?” If yes, then we do it.

  8. Valorie Veld says:

    It’s all beautiful. Made me smile. Thank you.

  9. Paula Johnson says:

    Luvely,* luvely Post, dearest Susan! Your Valentine card and description of who is who cracked me up~love it! The cups are charming; the decor for your Valentine dinner and the desserts were an over-the-top feast for the eyes. I am so excited for you and Joe as you embark on another fun journey. Blessings and much joy to you,

    *not certain how to spell it the way you do? 🙂

  10. Hope says:

    I watch for your new blog posts and am SO looking forward to your travels. I have a chronic illness that keeps me housebound a lot of the time so I am happy you and Joe are willing to let us all come along with you!
    My finances don’t leave room for treats. Imagine my absolute delight in recent months when I found a Beatrix Potter Miss Mouse music box in the thrift store…all greasy and very dusty. It worked and cleaned up beautifully. I have set it aside for my little grand daughter…when she gets old enough to inherit her mom’s set of BP books. Your blog burned Miss Mouse into my retina…So I could recognize her and save her from ignominy! Thanks for helping us focus on other things from time to time that remind us of love and beauty!

    • sbranch says:

      Lovely rescue Hope. Thank goodness for our thrift stores . . . practically everything in our house came from them, yard sales, antique stores . . . you get the BEST stuff, plus you get the added benefit of recycling! I’m so happy you can come along on our trip!

  11. Jody says:

    The snowdrops are really amazing. We just have “snow dropping” everywhere. It’s deep with no flowers popping up at all.
    Love the “Whatever is true…”
    Brownie bites in your darling cups sound like the perfect gift. I wish I had some.

    Happy February.

  12. Eeshu Chandra says:

    Aah!! This is such a beautiful post, pretty pictures and cuteness overloaded..
    Susan B you are an ocean of inspiration and take your readers into an endless reverie💕🌸🍰💄👒

  13. Lucia Donahower says:

    Love the mugs! I haven’t been keeping up with the blog, it looks like you are on your way back to England! Have a wonderful trip!

  14. Joanne Snow says:

    I love the beautiful roses wallpaper in Susan’s dining room! Do you have any information on that? The manufacturer or if it is still available for purchase anywhere? Similar prints to this paper?

  15. Michelle says:

    I finally got around to taking a look at the link to the Queen Victoria ocean liner and WOW! I don’t know how you won’t get lost in all those beautiful spaces. I did really like the Chart Room and I hope they have pear cider AND
    I hope you have a lovely time on your “pre-trip trip”.

    • sbranch says:

      I feel certain they will have Pear Cider! I hope! And yes, getting lost will be part of the fun! Thank you Michelle!

  16. Lorraine from White Plains, NY says:

    Oh Susan, DO make that little jug/vase! It’s perfect just as it is — filled with a little blossom or two would make it… perfecter! BTW — are you going to visit Emma Bridgewater’s again on this trip? It’s only an hour’s drive from Liverpool (if that’s where you’re getting the ferry to Ireland). I overdid it last time and found myself rushing to finish all the items I wanted to paint! Next time, I’ll concentrate on one or two little items… or so.

    • sbranch says:

      Probably not going again, mainly because now I get to decorate cups all the time! It was a real pleasure to see how the factory worked.

  17. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    What is it about that tiny Courage vase that just tugs at my heart? Maybe it’s knowing that we all need those words to navigate through this life with joy. It makes me happy to look forward to having it on my kitchen window sill right next to the Love Stays quote stand. Since I am unable to leave my darling husband these days, traveling with you is the next best thing. So excited for “our” trip and the book that will follow!❤️❤️❤️

    • sbranch says:

      It’s the little word in the back of our heads we are secretly repeating every day. So a tiny vase, with a little flower is the way it is. Is what I think. xoxo

  18. Donna says:

    Dear Susan, another love-ly blog. Thank you for the beauty. I’m really looking forward to “our” trip and btw thank you for taking us along. It’s the only way I get to see places these days and I love the way you and Joe travel.

    I need to ask though…the dishes you said you used for your Valentine’s dinner table (the Spode Copeland Tower) are not in your beautiful pictures but they are the ones that my grandmother had and I can’t remember the name…the ones with roses. I keep meaning to search for the Rose pattern and then have no name. You make everything beautiful, Susan. Hugs❤️

  19. Mary Whiting says:

    So looking forward to your trip….my husband and I followed many of your tracks while visiting England, your wonderful book in hand. Returning there and Scotland/Ireland in two years. Will keep all your info with me in the planning. Safe travels.

  20. Sherry Svoboda from Maryland says:

    Susan your valentine photos are amazing I love the roses especially the double delight rose which I grow in my garden for admiring and fragrance. Decorations
    and your pretty pink and white dishes are so inviting wish I could wish myself
    in your dining room and enjoy some of you tasty treats. It is always a pleasure
    to visit your blog and find new beautiful photos of your home, kitchen and garden. Its Monday and your blog will help me make it to 5pm. The snowdrops
    are wonderful and dainty I must get myself some and a vintage vase too. Happy Spring (I know I am a little ahead of myself) but I don’t care its
    so nice to daydream. Thank you for your lovely blog….

  21. Freddie Ann says:

    This was my first post from you and I was so excited to receive it. I’ve had to wait until I had some time to read and reply. I’m so going to enjoy. Sounds like it’s perfect timing, too, since you will be going on a journey next month “and taking all of us with you.”
    Goodness, I was looking through a “Victoria” magazine from 1 or 2 years ago for some ideas and they had the “Martha Vineyard” book advertised. I found it at the library and so enjoyed it and then I went to your website and then found your blog – LOL – it just goes on and on. Can’t wait to read the other books.

    • sbranch says:

      Discovery, no matter who, what or when, it always a good thing. Nice to meet you Freddie Ann! Yes, perfect timing . . . we’re going to blog the trip and take everyone along! xoxo

  22. Lovely Valentine’s post! Thanks so much, Susan, for always making me smile with your words and pictures. The sideboard of luscious desserts you served is an amazing sight, full of beauty — and hang the calories, right? It’s Valentine’s Day. My sweetie of 56 years surprised me with dinner out at our favorite spot – On the Marsh in nearby Kennebunk. And it was a wonderful night, to be sure, with candles and flowers and music and delicious food. Can’t wait to join you, vicariously, on your upcoming journey! Take care and don’t stress out too much with all you have to do before you depart.
    Hugs and joy to you and Joe! And Bon Voyage, too!
    Nancye T., Wells, Maine

    • sbranch says:

      What a lovely surprise. Kennebunk, how romantic! I think we’ve managed to balance our time left with things that need to be done. So I had a nap yesterday! 😁

  23. Sandra in Santa Barbara says:

    Love Jack’s double take head shot between green chair legs… are an incredible photographer!

    Wow….it’s so cold there’s snow today in San Luis Obispo!

    Help….I have 6 of your yummy cookbooks & your 3 novels – I’ve looked & can’t find or remember an Irish Dessert for Saint Patrick’s Day Corned Beef & Cabbage dinner anywhere? P L E A S E

    Decorated Irish today – especially for people driving by to see as we desperately grasp for some kind of recovery and normal (?) life again. Gives me a purpose too. People pulling together and helping each other brings tears to one’s eyes….yea! Love is in the air!

    You bring such positiveness to my life, Susan, thank you and bless you!

    XOXO Sandra

    • sbranch says:

      It’s not me as photographer, it’s Jack, as cat! Snow in SLO? That is saying something! I’ve seen it on the grade above SLO, but never in the town itself. That’s wild! Here’s my Irish Stew! Yummy! Thank you for being here Sandra, love your positive attitude in adversity!

      • Sandra in Santa Barbara says:

        Snow not in SLO City but in county @ low evaluation….weather report didn’t say how many feet.

        I have seen snow in Santa Barbara City & in Alhambra City in 1948 – my first snow & snowman….Mom made me eat oatmeal cause it was cold outside – yuck to a kid!!!

        Thanks for Irish strew – sounds yummy – can’t wait to try….what dessert to have with it? Thought of softening ice cream & stirring in Irish Whiskey accompanied by Irish cookies – what did you use?

        Found darling felted Easter Bunnies at Cost Plus – brought home precious bunny about 3″ high on a little wooden swing to hang in the window – Grasshopper immediately smelled the rear end – he’s truly a cat! Was surprised he recognized something so small as an animal – sure he’s never seen a rabbit. Go figure .

        You do inspire me, Susan. and have since I bought your first cookbook back in the 80s! Same page, Girlfriend! Love it – instant fix when I read or look at your things. Fond memories of the Cigar Factory!

        Yea, passed Smog Check today required to renew my DMV
        registration….of course I have Special Plates for spaying & neutering with adorable painting by Pierce Bronson….he’s so talented as well as sexy! Love those Irish Men!

        For dinner I splurged & did Trader Joe’s Beef and Stout Pie – truly pub food – delicious with a glass of Cabernet from Brazil with a Lion on it – if there’s a cat on the label even if it’s wine, it has to be good. Only $1.00 more than “2 Buck Chuck” so went for it. 3 fresh strawberries (in February) balanced out perfect dinner.

        Dishes done, smile on my face and glow in my tummy. Off to tub & bed early. It’s in low 30s here with wind blowing – penetrates our very sole freezing birdbaths & plants.
        Sleep well…….X0X0

        • sbranch says:

          Love hearing from you Sandra, bunnies, Irish Whiskey, 2 Buck Chuck, glow in tummy, all is well in Sandy-land. xoxo

    • Sandra in Santa Barbara says:

      My Pierce Bronson spay/neuter license plate is KATCAB cause Grasshopper loves to go in car. Used to go up HWY 5 (Grapevine) to Frasier Park/Pine Mountain a lot….he’d check out everything – especially the big trucks….this 10 pound, Lynx Point Siamese with huge blue eyes didn’t miss a thing.He’s also leash trained. Loves snow too – takes after me. He turns 14 in April – he is definitely an Aries.

  24. Kathy Korbn says:

    Love the cups! I am having a hard time choosing!! I love the little vase with the snowdrops in it.. I do want one of those! Thank you for the peace and stillness that comes with your blog and art. We all need that. It give hope. Blessings!

  25. Janet in Pittsburgh says:

    THANK YOU!!!! You bring tears of joy to my eyes. Blessings.

  26. Lucy Crosby says:

    Hello, I used my Castle Cottage mug for the first time today – just made me feel good all over. What a beautiful Valentine dinner. I plan to surprise my husband with your spicy ribs – they sound wonderful.
    Have a happy day and hope there are more snow flowers.
    As always, Lucy

  27. Amy from Wisconsin says:

    A much needed BREATH OF FRESH AIR! An ice storm rather than a snowstorm is trying to tap, tap, tap at our windows here this morning….
    Looking forward to reading about your upcoming trip. Enjoy!

  28. Jean says:

    Thank you for the gorgeous valentine decoration photos!
    I just learned that a snowdrop fancier is a galanthophile! The BBC News has a nice article called ‘Snowdrop fanciers and their mania’ from 2012, by Denise Winterman. I may have just found a new fancy!

  29. Beth Bruno says:

    Susan – I loved this post, as usual. I am SOOOOO excited that you are coming to Charleston! I tried to come and meet you when you were in Asheville, but something came up. When I found out you were coming to Charleston on March 11 I whooped with joy! I am speaking at a garden symposium at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston on the 10th. How serendipitous! Yay! Can’t wait to meet you, dear heart. Thanks for sharing yourself with the world.

  30. Kelley S. says:

    Hooray! I am SO EXCITED that you are coming to Charleston – my hometown. Can’t wait to meet you on March 11. I’d bring my tuxedo kitty, Jasper, to give you kitty loves, but he isn’t too fond of car rides. You are going to fall in love with our fair city, so brace yourselves. The new mugs are simply adorable.

    • sbranch says:

      Jack doesn’t like car rides either, but I love the thought of Jasper coming! I can’t wait to get there Kelley ~ so looking forward to it, and to see you there!

  31. Mamey Brown says:

    Adorable Valentines Day pictures and gifts. Also LOVE the new mugs! I am so excited for you and Joe to have another great adventure! I am even more excited to cross my fingers that another book will come out of it. Also, I just binge watched Season 5 of A PLACE TO CALL HOME based on your recommendation last year. I LOOOOOVE that show and this season did not disappoint. Have you watched it yet?

  32. Lorraine says:

    Did you see the UK is releasing a new 50p coin with Peter Rabbit?! I hope you get one when you’re there. Have fun!

  33. mary b says:

    after being covered with much snow for a few days we then had dense fog and then 45-50 degrees and finally last night Rain! all night! today upper 50’s and all the creeks and fields are flooded. but it’s beautiful and makes me think Spring is just around the corner! have fun on your trip-i think you’ll still be on the boat on my 44th anniversary march 15th!! so have a lovely dinner and i’ll pretend i’m there! mb

  34. Karen H. says:

    Love the Phil. 4:8 verse! A print of this would be so lovely! 💕 I hope your Valentine dinner was special to everyone as you give so much love. You guys are sure getting close to the cruise date. 😻

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, we are, shaking in my boots with expectation! The Phil. 4:8 verse will be on the 2019 mini, and when that’s over, you can frame it!

  35. Zona Wilson says:

    Oh my word, I seriously need the tiny CS Lewis quote white pitcher. Please tell me you’re really going to offer those!

  36. Jaime says:

    Please please please please do a post on what you are packing! Inquiring minds want to know! You don’t have to show your underwear! It would be so fun and I would love to see what art supplies you bring! 🙂

  37. Debra Sewell says:

    Lovely Willard. Love Jack is in middle uof things. My kitty Jewell’s ( my hurricane Irma rescue kitten) is always helping. She has blue/green shimmery toes as last night she walked across my paint table where I like to paint Rick’s and shells to hide for people to find. She must have walked across my paint pallet. Too cute. Loved this Willard.
    Thank you

  38. Love this post so much – all pink and hearts and good cheer! My little town decorates with red and pink and hearts all over for Valentine’s Day and leaves the decorations up the whole month of February, and it is so nice – finding bits of glowy love when things are a bit gray and drizzly out. Sending many thanks from your “cousin” (I just found out that I’m in Queen Victoria’s haplogroup too; I don’t really know what that means yet, but it’s very exciting!).

    • sbranch says:

      I know, any connection to Queen Victoria works for me too! I LOVE the joie de vivre of your town!!! Where is it?

  39. Deborah says:

    Loving your Valentine’s day comments and pictures ! I totally missed it as I was in surgery all day…unexpected and so strange to suddenly realize it’s almost March. How blessed we are at the day to day changes we slowly see the earth coming awake again. Love the vase, I hope it’s for sale soon.♥️

  40. sue says:

    Dear Sue
    Can’t wait for your trip. So excited for you both.Could you do me a favor… I’m trying to decide which of the new mugs I want to purchase, and the pictures of the mugs on your site still show the paper mugs. Could you or Shellie post new pictures showing all sides and the handle of the real mugs not the paper ones.Thanks,

    • sbranch says:

      OOOPS! I didn’t realize they weren’t up yet! I just sent the photos to Kellee, she’ll put them up on Monday. Thank you for letting me know! Just one more reason I love you guys . . . you are such good detectives!

  41. Can’t wait for that vase because that quote from CS Lewis was what my childhood friend clung to during her raging battle with cancer last year. I think those of us left behind my like that little reminder.

  42. Connie Castle says:

    Love this post,Susan. Have placed my order for the Mother’s Day and
    England cups–looking forward to receiving them in April. Love the idea
    of the white pitcher with Lewis quote. And so looking forward to seeing
    your blogs of your trip to England, Ireland and Wales. What a treat for
    you but especially for us armchair travelers. So appreciate all the time
    you put into doing this for us. Safe travels and Bon Voyage to you and

  43. Rosemary Monk--Near Boston says:

    Hello my dear,
    I was missing and missing your blog, then finally found it in my Spam folder–again–grrr. Will figure out how to gently remind my email provider to Please Not Do That Again. Anyhoo, thank you for once more smoothing over the fractures in my heart and soul with your art and thoughts. You made me smile. I too, am trying to do my bit to heal our world, with ballots and letters, and also with kindness and help and laughter wherever possible. You provide the beauty and excitement and fun. Can’t wait to “steal aboard” the Victoria and arm-chair travel with you. I hope to get back across the Pond in the not-terribly-distant future, with my family; please keep fingers/toes crossed. I love the little vase, the quote is one I often need to see, so my heart will take Courage; hope your plan to make it available works out. Well, it was 73degrees today here, and tomorrow I see we’re to expect snow. Mark Twain once wrote, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” (I googled that to make sure, teehee) Now ain’t that the truth?! Farewell for now, I’ll keep looking everywhere for your blogs!
    Love and hugs to you, Joe, and Jack,

  44. Debbie Vaky says:

    Your blog never ever disappoints! I loved the pictures of your dinner party. Excited, too, for your trip but I am already worried about Jack missing you for 4 months. I am sure you have someone great lined up to care for him.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m worried too. But I know he’ll be fine. He has wonderful care givers who are primed to love him as much as I do! xoxo

  45. Cris says:

    Thank you for being the sunshine in winter.

  46. Susie C says:

    Dear Susan –
    Your small vases on your windowsill spoke to my heart and have started to collect them for my kitchen windows. This past fall my son surprised me by picking small sunflowers from the garden and filling each vase. Happy, happy moments to remember. What a treat should you make that vase (or any other you care to design.) This post was especially beautiful with all the roses.

    Peace & Blessings to you & Joe!

  47. Patricia Edde says:

    Susan, I just wanted to let you know, if you don’t already, that Decorah’s mama eagle laid her 1st egg yesterday. From now on until the egg (eggs) hatch, either she or dad will be in the nest 24/7 so you might want to drop in and watch.
    I also wanted to strongly encourage you to see, if you haven’t already, “Peter Rabbit”. What a joy to watch and lord knows we need a great deal of that right now. Besides being visually gorgeous with the sweetest animated Beatrix Potter menagerie, it was hilarious too. My friend and I laughed so hard that I experienced a moment where I thought my age compromised bladder muscles might fail me but happily they retained their hold on modest reality.
    That’s it for now – who’d a thunk that I could actually send a comment under 1 foot long on. Hope you have some smelling salts handy. Con mucho felicidades, Patricia and Sam

    • sbranch says:

      OH BOY!!! I’ve been too busy to check, but I will right now. I love those Eagles. You liked Peter Rabbit! How wonderful. You are my first review for that, I’ve been excited to hear what people think. There’s a bit of controversy about whether Beatrix would approve . . . but I thought animation I saw in the trailer was adorable. I hope it gets here before we go! You are so succinct, Patricia, I almost don’t recognize you!

      • Patricia Edde says:

        I can’t imagine why Beatrix wouldn’t love it.
        Just got on the eagle cam and no mom or dad and I couldn’t see the egg – I was apoplectic. I got on their chat room and found out that all was ok and not long after, dad came back for a sit. So relieved – whew!!!!
        Can’t always promise you short and profound – just in my nature to be long and rambly.
        Much love to you all from my sweet, sweet Sam and me.

        • sbranch says:

          I used to watch hummingbirds…you know how tiny they are, so the camera is right THERE. One hideous day, a LIZARD came into the picture. Huge lizard. My heart almost beat out of my chest! I had to look away. And he upset the nest and the tiny eggs fell out … one was retrieved by the person who lived there, but they didn’t find the other. You kind of get a clearer idea of Nature. Barn owls are difficult to watch. They’re fiendish killers and their nests are like pelt world. I’m long and rambly too, never worry Patricia!

  48. Hope says:

    Oh! Your comment under the photo of the little pitcher with the C.S. Lewis quote “Courage, dear heart”! Does this mean you may create something with this quote? I hope you do! Oh, how I covet the little pitcher every time I see it on your blog. That’s wicked of me I know, but it is such a lovely little treasure. I keep an eye out at thrift stores and on ebay hoping I might find one. Isn’t it amazing how we find such joy in these small treasures? (P.S. I’m an avid sea glass collector and you’d think I found a precious jewel when I find a piece, haha!) Thank you for sharing the small, the lovely, the sweet, the precious little things that makes one happy. <3

    • sbranch says:

      I’m going to make that tiny pitcher (that is my mock-up in the photo, so right now, it doesn’t exist anywhere), it’s perfect for a few little flowers for a window sill … it will be part of a set of 3 tiny vases. I’ll get them into the works when we get home in July. Something to look forward to! Thank you Hope! xoxo

  49. Marigold says:

    Somehow missed your Tweet about this blog post, so I’m a day late and a dollar short, as they say. Nevertheless, your sentiments and photos and artwork speak to my heart *every day*. There is always so much in them that is timeless. Thank you, Susan. You are a gift to the world.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Marigold! Next life, I choose Marigold for my name!

      • Marigold says:

        Maybe in the next life there will be an entire meadow of Marigolds, all kindred spirits! A beautiful thought…:-)

        By the way, I’m halfway through your book “Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams” and cannot adequately express how deeply it is touching my heart. I can’t wait to finish it, but I don’t want to finish it! Your courage in the face of ‘starting over’ puts the starch in this timid field mouse’s bloomers. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

        • sbranch says:

          Makes me so happy to hear that. I tried to write the book I was searching for at that time in my life. Yes, fields and fields of Marigolds . . . banners held high, and perfectly starched. xoxoxo

  50. Debra Sewell says:

    I love snowdrops. Wish more of your content was all in Willard .as you see no w why I do not Twitter. Twitter Bots! Fake. So I know I miss out but love Willard best. You home is cozy, love the fireplace photos you post, kitty photos and your trips overseas and when you go to little bitty bookstores. Bye


    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I understand, Twitter has come to be a rather harsh place sometimes. But I love how accessible it is to put up photos when we’re traveling or just around the house. Instagram is good, but you can’t put photos on from your computer, only your phone. And you can’t resend someone else’s post to show your followers like you can on Twitter. There are a lot of kindred spirits on Twitter also, but there are some very angry people there too (most of them robot tweets meant to divide us, and they are working)…some days lately I really don’t even want to go there. But I hate to let the good guys down by disappearing, so there I am, for now anyway. xoxo

  51. Therese says:

    Oh Susan, I do love your blog!
    A tiny pitcher(?) around my neck with whiskey in it–another inspired idea!
    Thank you for all the love and beauty you share.
    It is such nourishing soul and heart food.
    I am keeping Joseph Campbell close these days too–
    Today the planet is the only proper “in group”
    Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world [huh?!]
    We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
    but we can choose to live in joy.

    You must return with the bliss and integrate it.
    The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.
    The world is a match for us.
    We are a match for the world.
    The spirit is the bouquet of nature…
    Sanctify the place you are in.
    Follow your bliss.

    Thank you endlessly, Susan, for the assist!

  52. Kelly from Walnut Creek, Ca. says:

    First off: CONGRATULATIONS on losing 23 pounds! 🏃🏽‍♀️🥕(no emoji for celery) That is wonderful, although having met you at the Danville, Ca. book signing I can’t see where you were hiding those 23! You looked terrific.
    Favorite go-to snack:
    Love celery, especially with a little peanut butter. Peanut butter and sliced apple – also a treat. Love raisins, and like you I do love toasted bread and butter…Beckmann’s French bread is delicious (made in Santa Cruz and distributed all over the SF Bay Area). I do love the occasional See’s chocolate. Are you familiar with See’s?

    What favorite foods have you had in the UK that you are looking forward to trying once again?

    Congratulations again on your recent weight loss. Inspiring to your girlfriends!❤️

  53. Rose Ann Bacher-Giallombardo says:

    Hello dear Susan,

    I just want to tell you that last night my husband Joe & I watched the old movie: “Mrs. Miniver” & we both loved it! Last week we saw: “Random Hearts” & that was wonderful too. Thanks to your suggestions we saw 2 lovely movies that we have never seen before 🙂
    Here’s hoping that you are able to read this post.

  54. Sue says:

    Susan, I do love you.

    I just thought you should know that when you don’t write often enough for me, I go back to the archived blogs. What a treasure chest. I follow along reading all the current month entries from all the years you have saved for us, and I feel sated.

    In so many ways you lighten the spirits of so many, but when you include photos of your rose chintz dishes, you touch mine. My Gramma Hilda had rose chintz and when she passed, they came to me. I used them for years, bought more, and still love them. Our current home, doesn’t really play well with the cottage charm of those plates and bowls, but perhaps I don’t care. (We live in a Japanese mid century that lives and entertains like a champ, but there isn’t an inch of cottage.) Those dishes lighten my heart like your blog posts.

    Gramma Hilda also had a chocolate chocolate chip cookie recipe that I have renamed Gramma Hilda Memorial Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’ll mail you a copy of that recipe. A stunner, for sure.

    Have a wonderful picnic in the Lake District. I’ll be following along….

    With love,

  55. FayE in CA! says:

    The animation in the new Peter Rabbit movie is SO cute. It looks like the rabbits are soft…their plump haunches are strong for scurrying away! The expressions in the animals’ eyes are wonderful…all of the expressions of emotions are so well done!

    The movie shares humor, tenderness and outright, over-the-top crazy scenes at times.

    I gave a Valentine gift to my dear friend of 32 years…your Come Sit Stay cup. She was THRILLED and we both marveled at the beauty of this cup. Thank you from both of us!

    Cheers to you and your enchanting ways and magical days.


  56. Barbara Lassiter says:

    Bon voyage! I will look forward to following along on this journey! Thank you! 🙂

  57. Teresa says:

    Susan, I love this post. I really want to make the short ribs, but am worried about all the fat. Does it completely melt off and liquefy (whereby you can get rid of it as you say)? Or do you still have fatty pieces on the meat after cooking? Also, do you plate it with the bones, or do you discard the bones before serving it? They are on sale right now at Whole Foods and I want to buy them to try this recipe, thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      If the bones still have meat on them, I include them in a serving. But sometimes the meat as come away and so, no, forget those bones. Here’s what I think I know: the ribs cook for so long, that most of the fat, if not all, is rendered to liquid. So when you remove the meat and bones from the “juice” or gravy, and put it in the freezer, or overnight in the fridge, the fat will rise to the top and is a totally different color from the meat juices below. You can scrape it off very easily. I know there is some fat left, I might hazard a guess at perhaps a TBSP in the entire dish, but I did not notice any fatty pieces on the meat, and for sure it’s NOTHING like it is when you don’t remove the fat. All of us at the table, noticed and appreciated how much more enjoyable this recipe was with the fat removed, and it is truly a heavenly tasting dish. Go get them, they can be expensive when they aren’t on sale! Put them in your freezer if you’re not ready to make the plunge.

  58. Kelly B. says:

    Susan, why am I not surprised at all to see my favorite scripture Philippians 4:6-8 on your blog? I get a little “God wink” every time I read your post. I feel that you and your Blog, books, calendars, quotes, paintings and messages are just the “lovely, noble, true and good” things that we all need to be thinking about. I always come away with something so uplifting. I also love that, as busy as you are, you take the time to read and try to personally reply to all of us. As always, thank you.

  59. You know who says:

    Dear Susan,

    The time is nigh for your sojourn to the motherland. Four months. Wow, that should provide ample time to absorb every morsel of the U.K. via osmosis and bring it back stateside. Top up your tank.

    There are many wonderful but fairly substantial changes occurring in my life simultaneously, which sometimes makes for a confusing juxtaposition with the state of affairs in our world – which can be soul and spirit crushing.

    A move to a sweet home, in a locale I’ve travelled to 15-20 times a year for the past umpteen years because I love it so, a gracious and welcoming community that has already reached out to me in so many ways. I’ve only experienced one true hometown and that was my childhood hometown. Until now. I love this town like no other, and that includes my favorite places in England. (Never ever did I think those words would be uttered from my mouth, almost feels sacrilege) It is beginning to take up full residence in my heart leaving very little room for England but make no mistake, there will always be a little room for England.

    The repairs in the home are not of the superfluous kind but of the most basic needs, such as a bathroom. It is taking ever so much longer than expected. I had hoped to be moved in by Fall, then Xmas, New Year’s passed and now Spring. Until a couple of weeks ago, I rolled with it as I have from day one of this journey. But now I just want to be in my sweet home.

    The only indulgence I’ve pursued was having a proper bath tub. I’ve always loved a good soak at the end of a day. But due to the house being 100 years old it triggers a lot of structural upgrades to accommodate the behemoth tub I already purchased which, in reality, you could nearly do the backstroke in. But any tub would have triggered the upgrades, the kind of upgrades that take a lot of engineering, cost and additional time to get into the house. I’m close to saying skip the tub give me a shower and then move in. I’m thinking the tub already purchased will make a dandy flower bed. Besides, this old beauty (the house that is ;)) requires a few more repairs such as the foundation, just like its owner.

    Until the move to the new/old house, I still have my existing house which requires a few repairs before I can put it up on the market.

    It appears I’m no longer going to have to commute. I’m going to be able to work largely from my new/old home. Take my dog for a walk in the early day light, not at 5:30 a.m. and have a proper breakfast before starting work. Work from home looking out at redwood trees, squirrels and deer from my home office. Work 8 hours including commute time. Presently, I’m gone for about 12 hours due to the commute plus work hours. So you see, lots of gorgeous things happening and I’m so grateful that I’m bruised head to toe from pinching myself. At the same time, it’s a bit dizzying, particularly making the choices on the repairs but typing that I realize how silly that sounds – I should be so lucky to have this problem.

    I’ve wanted to go to the picnic since you first mentioned it. It was only until recently that I booked an airline ticket. I have had lodging booked for months. But I vacillate. So, until I am literally on the literary landscape of the treasured heroine that is one Mrs. Heelis, there’s no telling.

    But so much for being a flibbertigibbet, sail on dear lady, sail on. Give the land I’ve loved for 37 years my love just in cases 🇬🇧❤️💞

  60. Good morning, Susan.
    I see your tweets, but am not signed up and so can’t respond, so I will take this comment section to say, “Happy Birthday” to you mother. What an amazing gal she seems to be. (And I am amazed to know that you are a baton twirler, so was I, what a coincidence.) Thanks again for sharing your happy gene with us all.

    Jeanne of Iowa

  61. Happy belated Valentine’s Day, Susan and Joe! I am so happy you shared it here with all of us!! Your sideboard decorated for Valentine’s Day looked absolutely beautiful and so romantic! My daughters and I are looking forward to going on your trip with you! I am practically bursting with anticipation, so I can’t even imagine what you and Joe are feeling right now!!

  62. Barbara says:

    Love the post!! you make my day posting photos of Jack! I love his markings on his face!!! I am really excited to travel with you on your journey to the Isles!!! Nothing like technology! I to am waiting for my genetic info, it should be done some time this week, so excited. Have fun packing your bags and thank you for taking us along!!

  63. Oh Susan…I just finished reading Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams …tears in my eyes. What a great escape it has been for the past few days reading your book. Your wonderful artwork and beautiful sense of design just takes me away. Thank you!

  64. Joan Hutchins says:

    Thanks, Susan . Always love reading your blog, and this one was on my birthday 🙂 So much I love about the topics you cover ; your words are restorative . Have a wonderful trip ! Best, Joan H.

  65. Jan Martin says:

    Just ended a week full of sister fun. One sister coming from snowy Minnesota to warm California….HA! Not very warm! But good times. Then your blog….always a treat! I cozy up & enjoy so much. Such excitement coming up for you! Cannot wait to “travel along with you”. Bon Voyage!🛳

  66. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Talk about the little things in life that make it sweet… Got a box in the mail today with my Cinnamon Apple Crisp tea today. On the outside of the box was stamped “girlfriends forever”. Then inside my tea was wrapped in the prettiest heart paper. Just like getting a sweet gift from a friend❤️❤️❤️
    Thank you so much for making my day brighter.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that, Joy, Sheri and Kellee make everything so especially nice, as it should be!

  67. Rachel Scott says:

    Dear Susan,
    Hello, from wet Texas, so thankful for the rain….I’m hoping it will mean splendid wildflowers in just a little while. It really is the best time to be in Texas…beautiful colors added to the dark greens and browns. Sounds like you are in for a Nor’easter. Hope it calms down before you have to take the ferry to the mainland.
    I loved your Valentine post….short ribs with buttered noodles, wonderful looking desserts, beautiful flowers and dishes, and lovely decorations (she types with a smile on her face…ha!).
    “Happy Belated Birthday” to your mother….we share the same date. I keep wondering where 70 years went!!! Still think of myself as in my late 40’s…..ok, early 50’s.
    I know you are packing and taking care of the last bits and pieces before leaving. I am so excited to be going with you, along with all the other girlfriends….thank you for taking the extra bag and the tea shop in the side pocket. I’m sure most of us will welcome that while traveling. AND, a new book……can’t wait, but I guess we will have to. I have a question, has A Fine Romance been sent to Queen Elizabeth? I think she would love reading it…just a thought.
    I have ordered your newest cups and the English cottage for Nicoline’s birthday (she knows). She also has the Beatrix Potter one and I suggested she get you to sign it when she and Gabri are at the picnic. I hope I haven’t started a trend and you will spend you day signing cups. There is just one problem with having all you cups, the closet in which I have put our other mugs is full! Guess I need to have a garage sale. We were having tea last week and Don “pinged” his cup and said, “You don’t hear that with our other mugs. I really like these, they fit so well in my hand.” So, I have his “approval” to order ALL of them.
    Bon Voyage…..Love, Rachel
    P.S.Twitter often, please…we need to know about all the wonderful things you will be doing, seeing, eating..ha!

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Birthday dear Rachel! Wishing the world (and your darling snoring dogs) another wonderful year of YOU! Give Don a big kiss for me please! And here’s one for you … 😘

  68. Genie in NC says:

    Weather reports on the northeast — high winds and storms — are filling the air waves. Our thoughts are with you, Joe, Girl Cat and Jack. Be safe and take care of one another.

  69. Kathy Thompson says:

    Susan…I read that you will be in Charleston, SC, on March 11th…arriving on the Queen Victoria. Oh, how wonderful. This California girl sure wishes she could be there to meet you at the book signing. March 11th will be our 42nd wedding anniversary, and my Terry would have loved nothing more than to let me share a bit of OUR day with you. Maybe next time you’re in California I will finally get to one of your book signings. Wishing you and Joe a magical trip, filled to the brim with all things wonderful. Now, hubby will be gone for the evening and I am going to watch Mrs. Miniver for the first time EVER. It’s a raining night in SoCal, and this girl is putting on the teakettle. Kathy

  70. Kathy Thompson says:

    Susan…Me, again…
    I meant to tell you about a book I saw today and an idea for one of your future books. It’s called Find Momo, about a border collie who travels with his owner and the owner (a photographer) takes picture with Momo somewhere in each one of them. Like Where’s Waldo, the reader searches for Momo. Well, I was thinking…you and Joe take Petey with you on each of your England trips and have so many pictures of him…and you’re going again. How about one of your lovely books dedicated to Finding Petey in all the wonderful England, Wales and Ireland places. Just a thought. Safe travels. Kathy

  71. Northwoods Catie says:

    Susan…how are you and Joe weathering the Beast From The East? Are you guys okay?

    • sbranch says:

      We’re fine, but our ferries aren’t running! SO much wind with this beast! Our reservation is 9:30 am … don’t know if we’ll get on then, but for sure sometime tomorrow.

  72. Sue Underwood says:

    wishing you a splendid trip and smooth sailing! Bon Voyage!

  73. Kelly from Walnut Creek, Ca. says:

    I want to send to you & Joe wishes for smooth sailing across the pond. I will look forward to following your UK adventures in the days and weeks to come. I hope you have a wonderful time. I hope you are taking a suitcase big enough to carry back all the wonderful memories you are bound to make.

    Safe journey, calm seas and happy trails.

    With love & all best wishes,

    Kelly 🇬🇧🚢⚓️

  74. Elaine says:

    Dear Susan,
    I just read the news/weather story about your Island. I’m so sorry. And so relieved to see that you and Joe are ok.
    We are in central Maryland and can’t remember winds like we experienced these last days. It was a joy to wake up to blue sky, white puffy clouds and only a gentle breeze stirring the trees.
    I hope the ferry is running today. Safe travels as you make your way south.
    I’m looking forward to taking this lovely trip with you and Joe.

  75. Lynn says:

    Which Emma Bridgewater mug is that which I see in the photo with your laptop? Because of you, I found Emma Bridgewater.

    • sbranch says:

      That one was for the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee … which was going on while we were over there.

  76. Natalie says:

    Following the big trip on Twitter. Williamsburg brought back memories. For my eighth birthday, we went to Williamsburg. There was an early medicine exhibit and they had a skull with a hole drilled in it!!! Eeekkk!!! I think it was a cure for migraines. Thank goodness we have Excedrin now. LOL! I had nightmares about that for a long time 🙂 Other than that I loved it…it was spring and the tulips and daffodils were amazing. Best to you and Joe for a safe voyage and thanks for taking all of us with you.

  77. Toni from Sylvania OH says:

    Dear Susan…just wondering when you plan to get to your ship and when it leaves port. Would love to see pics of you guys ‘moving in’…getting cozy in your cabin and how Joe seems to have the ‘gift’ of hiding everything you bring so that it looks very undisturbed. We are ready to roll with you…and are chomping at the bit to hit the high seas. love and blessings, Toni from Sylvania xoxo

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