SO Excited!

Oh, I am so excited I don’t almost know where to begin! After a too-long deadly-quiet year… the world is waking up with a bang! with MUSICA!

I’ve been meditating every day and feel so much better!💫 (They should teach meditation in kindergarten, what a wonderful tool it is.) We put “FUN” on the calendar!💖 We’re seeing our friends!👫👭👫👭 And it’s spring!

It’s hard to be sad on beautiful days like these. Today, for the first time, we’re going to have almost 70º! It’s been a month of pink petals drifting through the spring air, the salty wind blowing up from the harbor, boat horns echoing over the island, making my heart skip a beat . . . because I’m so madly

and it seems to love me back 💖 . . . we have so much of it now . . . the dogwood is a meditation all by itself . . .

And the lilac is in bloom! In-TOX-icating smells all over the island! We just open the door and there it is! Our garden is filled with bluebells, lily of the valley, strawberries, and white bleeding heart, all in bloom now, the peonies and roses are budding . . . May is bursting out all over!

Curtains from the Peter Rabbit Room are washed, bleached, and fluttering on the line on a cool leafless morning . . .

And magnolias! Magnolias from a tree we thought wasn’t going to make it, and surprise! It was beautiful this year! Spring still comes as a surprise to me . . . the change of season brings unexpected celebrations! Who is not thrilled to see the first strawberry in the garden? You feel like you MADE something!

And the morning light ~ yes, joy unrestrained, has returned to Mudville, mighty Casey did NOT strike (totally) out!And I have to say, my joy was doubled . . .
. . . because of you . . . this is just the beginning of all the get-well, birthday cards and letters, dripping with love, empathy, hope, and commiseration I received from you darling people after my last post! How did I get so lucky? 🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷

I can’t tell you how much they meant to me!💞 And if you ever want to see how kind and compassionate people can be, read the over 1000 sweet comments on my last blog post ~ and that doesn’t even count our Girlfriends on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷 You know who you are . . . Thank your generous hearts forever!❌⭕️

You would think that would be enough, but nooooo, there’s still MORE to be excited about 🌸 . . . our clematis Montana is coming back and getting ready to bloom!🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 I’m staring it into flower . . .👀

Joe put a new coat of clean white stain on the picket fence ~ look at the back compared to the front to see the before and after . . . it needed it! Making it pretty for our new dahlia garden, the tubers came yesterday! Eeek!

And where there’s a garden, there’s a kitchen…

And where there’s a kitchen, there’s me . . . it just couldn’t get much cheerier that this Trifle, except maybe for the cheeriest event we took it to . . . an INDOORS dinner party at a friend’s house, with NO masks, NO distancing ~ our darling friends around the table, together again, vaccinated thanks to the magic of genius-science which is getting us OUT from UNDER this misery!🙏 Goodbye plague, hello fun!

Simplest, prettiest, easiest dessert makes a WOW at a party that’s already a WOW from the love in the room.💞💖💞 Here’s how to make one of these beauties: layer, from the bottom, store-bought angel food cake cut into bite-sized pieces (or any cake, even brownies or cookies!), then spoon pudding or custard over the cake . . .  I made old-fashioned vanilla pudding with Agnes’s (from Holly Oak!) 1946 Joy of Cooking (could be chocolate pudding, could be lemon, could be butterscotch, could include coconut), then I placed a line of cut strawberry halves around the edge with more in the middle (instead of strawberries it could be bananas or mixed fruit), and added a layer of homemade whipped heavy cream ~ then I did it all over again, ending in whipped cream . . . so it looked like this . . .

It didn’t look like that for long . . . Grab a spoon! Strawberry Trifle makes everyone happy!😋

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing . . . arranging flowers in vases creates a happy heart!

We had a birthday party at our house and I got to do my favorite thing, set the table! At age 21 I went to my landlord’s house to pay my rent, she called “come in!” … which I did, and as I followed her voice through the dining room, into her kitchen, she unknowingly changed my life:

. . . It was the first time we had people for dinner since December 2019.💖
So much fun! I filled the house with flowers and lit the candles . . . isn’t it romantic?

It was an evening of toasting and laughing to the point of giddiness, so happy to be together, living life again . . .I made a blueberry-lemon angel food birthday cake. (I make this often to take to parties because it’s delicious, relatively low-calorie, and it’s also the birthday girl’s favorite whether it’s her birthday or not!)🎂

I also made Basil Ice Cream . . . (both of these yummy recipes are in the 30th Anniversary Edition of Heart of the Home).

. . . After a little light churning in the magical Donvier ice cream maker . . . Voila! Homemade ice cream! It doesn’t even require electricity! (Yes, you can take it outside and do it right at the table! Excellent picnic material!)

Our birthday girl loved it!

You can see we did the “ring thing,” put our rings on the cake as we always do, so there were wishes galore … she used a plate to “blow” out the candles (I had a fan, set it down somewhere, never to be seen again that night!) . . . we’ve decided in honor of the Pandemic we will no longer spit on each other’s birthday cakes!What else . . . ???

This … I took this photo through the kitchen windows over the sink, past the bird-feeders, out toward the picket-fence garden and the weeping cherry tree. See them? The lamp, roses, and just-washed-glasses from the party are on the table behind me, and reflected in the windows. So is the window behind me, so now it’s a window in a window. I see infinity in there somewhere. Blows the mind, does it not?🤣

I love it in our house just after we’ve had a party…the dishes are done, dishtowels are drying on the chairs, the house is clean (first time in a year!), it’s quiet but I can hear the laughter, there are leftovers, and I still have all the flowers! Win-win!🏡

But let’s face it ~ and I know you could tell by the MUSICA …  . . . what I’m MOST excited about is the FUN we put on the calendar! And what makes it extra fun, is that so many of you put the exact same fun on the exact same date on your (exact same 😂) calendar!

MAY 1, 2022

So, just in case you missed it, I told everyone in the last blog post that Joe and I will be sailing to England next year, on May 1, 2022 aboard the Queen Mary 2 (if you didn’t see the announcement, click on the link and scroll toward the bottom of the post for more details)  …  and if you would like to join us on the ship to call Susan Gannon at Cunard at 800-468-7752 ext. 41663 and she will personally help make your reservations and answer your questions. Mention that you want to be a part of the Susan Branch Girlfriends Group, and tell her it’s group numberTNM, voyage #M211 so she can keep track of us as a group . . .Already there are something like a hundred of us going! Together. On the ship. To ENGLAND!!! I can’t believe it! Canadian Girlfriends are coming too! I’m beside myself. (Remember in 1987 when I was wishing everyone who was writing me such wonderful letters could meet each other? But of course in 1987, how could that happen?? And now, miracle, here we are!) Susan at Cunard told me lots of our fellow travelers have never been on a ship before … and many have never been out of the country! Even more exciting! Brave Girls! I promise, I’m going to help! But look ⬇️ . . . isn’t it heaven?

If you CAN’T join us . . . don’t worry, we will take you virtually . . . you’ll feel as though you are with us . . .  I’ll be blogging too ~ I probably won’t be the only one! And it’s not too late to join us . . . although I did hear the ship is selling out fast. We aren’t the only people who want an adventure after what we’ve all been through! I mean if we’re going to re-invent ourselves, why not do it on a ship to England! And they are giving us until December 31 to cancel for a full refund! (This is a whole post of win-wins!)💝

Kellee added a travel page on Facebook in case you’d like to meet up with fellow travelers ahead of time, talk about the trip, ask questions, and get more information. Don’t plan too far ahead until I get a chance to show you some things … That’s where I’ll put the link to the tours so you can make reservations and it’s where I’ll update information. But of course, no one has to take a tour, you can make plans there to do things amongst yourselves… everything is good! We have LOTS of time. Just consider this something you don’t have to worry about anymore. Because we’re doing this together! And because we’re a group, Cunard is giving us a special “on-board credit” to spend on the ship … which means we can have a massage, or buy souvenirs or perfume, or clothes, or jewelry, or wine in the stores, or have a glass of champagne at the Veuve Clicquot Bar! I’m so happy! You know it’s very fun to share something you love with people you care about.❤️

It’s the North Atlantic, windy and wild and beautiful, so we don’t often get days like this on board the ship, but when we do, ooo, la la!

This was one of our rooms . . . We’ve stayed all over this ship and we’ve always been happy, and Petey’s not picky! It’s the land of nooks and crannies, there’s a place for everything no matter how much you bring! You will be wined and dined . . .

as elegantly or as casual as you like ~ this is the beautiful Britannia Dining Room . . . but there is also a HUGE cafeteria style restaurant with literally every food on earth, and, coup de grâce, they have Room Service . . . You will not go hungry.

They will bring you breakfast in bed (COZIEST of beds, down comforters & pillows, but of course, I bring my own pillow!), a midnight snack, or afternoon tea, whatever you like including French fries! Cuddle in and read while you eat your fries if you want to. There are no rules! It’s your voyage to do with what you wish. No need to bring a tea kettle, they have one in every room! (And in every room you’ve booked in England. We are talking civilized!👍)

I hope we get a day like this in New York when we board! Notice there are no crowds? It’s just not crowded on this ship. 

We never know, but in all our crossings, it’s never been unbearable even for a moment. It’s a huge ship and very stabilized, but if you get a little seasick, which I have done, you can celebrate by taking the tiny white pills they give you in Sick Bay, and go to bed and be deliciously happy while gently rocked to sleep in your cozy jammies, under your down covers in nature’s arms. I’m never sorry. Sometimes Miss Potter is on TV. I love to sleep. Joe brings me crackers and soup. I don’t let it stop me. It goes away. Just remember, you can never be disappointed if you keep your expectations low. Everything is good! Mostly better than good! But nothing is perfect!

 As the people who were sitting at the six tables around this nightmare can attest! The waiters light food on fire in the dining rooms, flaming Steak Diane, Bananas Foster, Crepe Suzette, etc ~ very festive . . . but this time a flame went too high and licked the fire sprinklers and SURPRISE! Very quick movement of people OUT of their chairs, flinging themselves across the room! Everyone else grabbing their cameras! Poor waiters were rushing out with buckets, trying to stop it as fast as they could . . . no one was upset, most people were laughing and feeling bad for them, and trying to help by staying out of the way! But yes, things happen. And that’s where the stories are . . . that’s what you’ll be telling about and remembering for years to come! Travel isn’t always easy ~ nothing is normal, you are not going to be able to find anything the entire time, but when you get home, you forget all that and just wallow in the fact you DID it, you enlarged your heart and soul, you found beauty, you made yourself smarter, you became an inspiration, you spread sunshine and made the English people love our country because of who you are, you saw the world!

For those of you who are wondering what you will do in England once you get off the ship, and perhaps you’d rather not drive? We have it covered! One of our Girlfriends (Thank you Janice!) told me about a travel agency that specializes in small groups and providing knowledgeable, experienced, personable guides ~ I had a long talk with them and they are putting together four or five different tours for you to choose from. They will collect you and your luggage at the ship . . . and along with other Girlfriends (and boyfriends too), they will drive you through the . . .

…English countryside to many of the places I wrote about in  A Fine Romance . . . for instance, here, to Rosemary Verey’s Garden ~ and also, depending on which tour you choose, to Bath, the Cotswolds, The Garden of England, to Blenheim Palace, Hidcote, Hever Castle, and SO MUCH MORE!!! Wait till you see! They will take care of everything, your hotel reservations and meals . . . You can choose which part of the country you’d like to see … it’s a win-win because all of the tours look wonderful! There’s so much to see! And everyone on your tours will be a kindred spirit! You will get the lay of the land, see how easy it is, and be able to do it again all by yourselves next time!

And don’t forget all of the UK (and much of the world) will be celebrating the Platinum Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth . . . the first time ever in history, beloved and longest-serving monarch 🇬🇧 … cities and towns will criss-cross their streets and homes in flags and bunting! You’ll be part of history!

You’ll dine in tea rooms and eat in charming pubs, no two alike, and see wonderful handmade houses and dovecotes, not to mention . . .

fabulous gardens, big ones and little ones, and castles too … .

And in May, the bluebells will be in bloom! Baby chicks and ducks will be running around. Lambs will be cavorting! I know some of us are in total squeeeeeee-mode right now, and I am one of them!

If you ARE planning to drive, be sure to read the Rules of the Road for the UK so you know what all the squiggly lines on the road mean. Each tour will finish in London, close to the airport for your flights home. No one should think about leaving London without riding a big red double-decker bus for a bird’s eye view of Big Ben (which was hit but not destroyed by a bomb in WWII, and only lost one second in the process🇬🇧) , and no one should go without experiencing the handmade-glory of Westminster Abbey. If an eight-day tour isn’t long enough, you could take two tours, or you can stay in London for a few days . . . So many possibilities ~ maybe a few of you would want to join together for a tour to Scotland, just ask the travel person. If enough of you want to go, I would imagine they would make it happen. I will put the tour contact information on Facebook and Instagram very soon, also on Twitter, and here on the blog … as soon as I get a few more details ~ because I just realized I want them to take you to a Waitrose Supermarket. I love seeing wonderful food stores when I travel. Great place to get “English things” to take home. But don’t worry, all the answers will be here for you as time goes by. I should tell you, I don’t personally have any connection to this travel agency, but it has been “Girlfriend Approved” and talking to them was a pure pleasure (you’ll see), they are on our same wavelength, travel-wise. Joe and I won’t be on any of the tours, we’ll be off on our own adventure . . . perhaps we will run into you along the way! We’ve met Girlfriends out on walks in the middle of nowhere on other trips, so I wouldn’t be a bit surprised! (Pic above: Across a wide field I saw this woman waving at us while we were out on a walk. She looked so welcoming! But, who was she? Did I go to high school with her? We didn’t recognize her! … We started talking and discovered she was one of us! I forget I have a familiar face to some people; tall Joe, in his beret, is like a very handsome neon sign, but it’s still always a surprise! Isn’t that fun?)

I’m also working on a ship-board schedule of things for us to do together on the crossing! Surprises you are going to LOVE. Some I can’t wait to tell you about, but some I hope I can keep to myself until the bitter end!🤐 Because surprises are good! It’s just hard for me to keep them a secret! Do bring your knitting, crocheting, or embroidery project if you have one. If you want to bring a cellphone, check with the cellphone people near you and find out how to get a Sim Card (an iphone will work just as it is, without a different Sim Card, but it will be much more expensive to make calls ~ as you know, I’m not a phone expert 🤣 ~ Google whatever you want to know about traveling with your phone in Europe ~ and ps, we’ve discovered 16th century stone houses are not conducive to cell phone use, but that’s okay, because we’ll be in ENGLAND and we can always go outside!❤️ The joy of traveling is that things are NOT the same as they are here! How boring THAT would be! Don’t forget to go to the Cunard website, click on “The Experience.” It will give you lots of information, including “what to pack.” The North Atlantic is not Florida, so be sure to bring a jacket. A warm rain jacket with hood will be something you will like on board the ship and in England too, and perhaps, the tiniest umbrella you can find for your jacket pocket. They have a wonderful big gym and a pool on the ship . . . We’ll talk about clothes probably all the way until we go! Also, are you interested in genealogy? Have you had your DNA done? It might be something you would like to do in this next year . . . It’s good to know where you come from, anytime actually, but especially BEFORE a trip like this ~ just in cases you end up in your ancestral town! You’ll want to take an extra-deep breath of that air!These are wonderful movies to watch when you’re going to England. Also, try to read or listen to The Splendid and the Vile . . . SO good ~ we loved it! Story of Churchill and England 1940 to 1941 … you need to know the kind of people 💞 you’ll be dealing with. There are more book suggestions on page 181-182 of A Fine Romance!
You can get notification of new blog posts in your email box, so you won’t miss anything if you go HERE!

This, as always when we travel, will be my only problem. We are madly in love now. He’s at the perfect age for mad love. And me too. Someone needs to tell me how we leave him! Off I go Girlfriends, I’ve talked your ear off long enough. I know you’ll have lots of questions, don’t worry, we’ll answer them all as we go . . . we’re lucky we have such a long time to prepare! The anticipation will be exquisite! If you need to hear the unofficial anthem of Great Britain, HERE you go. 
Love you!🌷🌷🌷

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282 Responses to SO Excited!

  1. What a beautiful, happy, cheerful post! So glad you are feeling better.

    That trip to England by ship sounds like heaven. Wish I could join! But will just have to join you all virtually.


  2. Debbie Boerger says:

    Glad I haven’t booked our flights to London yet. Reading all about the small group tours makes me wonder if I can convince the Lovely Tom to extend for more than a month. If at all possible, could you post the name of the company? If that’s a no-no, for whatever reason, could you email it to me? I discovered that our favorite air line, Aer Lingus, flies into London International Airport. It’s about 5 miles from out lodgings in Greenwich. What we like best about it is that you do customs in Dublin, which is so very much easier than Heathrow or Gatwick.
    We are no longer doing the driving in the UK, as our reflexes do slow down. Tom will be approaching 82 and I’ll be 76 for this coming trip. Would hate to flatten anything, a hedgerow or a hedgehog!
    I know everyone is adding recommendations for things you “Must” see. Here are mine. Cornwall and Devon. There are some amazing public gardens there, not to mention the stunning coastlines.
    Soak time in my big, old clawfoot, windows open, belting out the tunes along with Diana Krall and dear Ella. Neighbors are out for the day, and the birds are used to it! 😉 No cooking tonight, as I’m being treated to marvelous take-out Thai. You are a One Woman Joy Factory. Just know that We know how much work that entails. Even labors of love take time.
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll post the name of the company as soon as they get done planning our tours! They need time to be organized in case everyone calls at once! It won’t be long! Yes, a tour is just the ticket! No flattening of the hedges! And you, Speaking of One Woman Joy Factories! ❤️xoxoxo

  3. Laurie Nico’s mom says:

    So glad that you’re feeling more like yourself, that your happy gene is fighting back. These have been trying times. Here in Canada, we are a bit behind you with our vaccinations, so no dinner parties yet, but a girl can dream! And plan!
    I am like you in that every spring amazes me. Each green shoot and bud is welcomed with such joy. A friend recently passed on a quote to me “Nature is God’s second book”. I love this. Here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains spring is just getting started, but my what a start!
    I am always thrilled to see another blog post. It makes my heart swell, if that’s a thing. Hugs to both Joe and Jack.

    • sbranch says:

      I think God left that “second book” for us to write! My pages are filled with joy and gratitude, and a lot of noticing! With love from your fellow heart sweller! xoxo

  4. I have been to England twice and to Ireland four times! Love the country and one tour director said that you could live there for years and never see it all. Such beauty and history!

  5. Rhondi says:

    Hello Susan. I’ve followed you forever but seldom comment, silly me! When I saw your mention of the voyage on the Queen Mary 2 leaving May 1, I got very excited because that’s my husband’s birthday. Mine is in June and we are both turning 75. We absolutely love England and that would be a perfect celebration!! We were just listening to The splendid and the Vile and enjoyed it immensely. We are great fans of Winston Churchill. His home Chartwell is such a wonderful home to visit. Anyway I digress- we are going to look at our finances and figure out how we can afford it. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to. Can’t wait to meet you and Joe. ((hugs)) Rhondi

    • sbranch says:

      Hope it happens Rhondi! … And remember, you could always fly over and just take one of the tours with the rest of the kindred spirits if that works better for you!

  6. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Just hopping into say I am so enjoying this “joyful” post and really loving all the beautiful spring pictures. Just lovely!!! We are excitingly planning our trip to England and just SO thrilled like a couple of kids!!!!!

  7. Linda Hall says:

    Susan, We are grateful to you for being a constant inspiration for all of us!

  8. Debbie Boerger says:

    I adore the new cup designs. I think I see a new project for Tom…making some more shelves for the coffee/tea cups. He loves “puttering” in his basement shop, and I love the results. Right now, we’re in the midst of using ammonia in the floor/rug cleaner to do the little room downstairs. Does a great job, but very fummy. Lots of floor fans and open windows. Oh, I Love Spring Cleaning, I truly do!!! You can actually see lots of difference, especially after not cleaning since March of 2020. Don’t things seem extra beautiful this year?
    I think I do worry a bit about those who refuse to have the vaccines taking off their masks. We shall watch the Data for reassurance.
    Watching the Twitter videos of your off island trip made me yearn for Nova Scotia, via the ferry from St. John, New Brunswick, on the Bay of Fundy. You put in at Digby, which is famous for Digby Bay Scallops, the biggest sweetest ones we’ve ever had, and you can get them never once frozen or otherwise treated. Yesterday’s paper had a piece on the Canadian Gov considering opening the border for US citizens with proof of vaccines. They have not vaccinated nearly as many as we, which was a surprise to us.
    As for the Halston Netflix movie…..Eeeewwww! I skipped my way through it, but felt I needed a bath after. Acting was good, I suppose. They don’t “fade to black” anymore, that’s for sure.
    Hope you and Joe had a successful shopping trip.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Beautiful Maine

    • sbranch says:

      I’m worried too… because so many of us CAN take our masks off and be safe, those that shouldn’t might not realize they are still in danger. Prayers for everyone… I think we’ll know a few days after this holiday. I SO want this thing over! Thank God for science!

  9. Marlene Wright says:

    Your blog makes possibility seem real. Thank you for the beautiful photos & words. I didn’t realize how much I missed connections until I became fully vaccinated & could reconnect with family & friends. A cruise is looking good. We had an awesome one planned with friends to Alaska & I am getting excited that it could be a reality in the year ahead. Enjoy the beautiful life!

    • sbranch says:

      You know, ANYTHING can happen. I am proof positive of that! Yes, we are coming out of this awfulness, I’m not sure any of us know the mental toll it took on us, but the joy on the other side is palpable! Happy new world Marlene!

  10. Kristin Gjertsen says:

    Loving your joy in this beautiful Spring. My husband planted a wild flower meadow in our back yard and I have been enjoying sitting outside on the patio, gathering flowers for bouquets, and watching the birds, bees, bunnies, and the busy Hawk Family that is raising chicks in our tallest oak tree. There are also two owls who are hunting food for their owlets and a neighborhood cat who prowls our yard in the morning and evening. I want to add a bird feeder and a bird bath to add even more charm and activity. We are lucky enough to have some green space and beauty in our backyard. We will be getting a picket fence soon and I am looking forward to creating a garden as charming as yours. I also wish for a clothes line (neighborhood association doesn’t allow them), but so much nicer for the environment. My husband used to keep bees in our backyard and may do so again once we have a fence. Just one hive would be nice. Enjoy your Spring, your friends, your garden, and your trip.

    • sbranch says:

      Love the joy you take in your garden! Lovely to read! xoxo

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Your yard sounds like paradise. We used to do wildflowers as well, but over the 24 years we’ve been here, the big trees on that side of the property have shaded it out. It’s now mostly moss.
      Forgive me for offering unsolicited advice…but….Please place your bird feeders in such a way that the cats can’t get the birds. You’d be amazed at how efficient they are as hunters, stalking so slowly, that the bird doesn’t see the cat until it jumps up 3 or 4 feet and grabs the lovely goldfinch or other, then plays with the poor thing for awhile before killing it. I’m a cat lover, but they are not native, and the birds and the cats are safer inside our homes. There are lots of methods to do it, and we’ve landed on some that work. Finding a sad little pile of feathers under a feeder will break your heart. Audubon and British Birding say that that domestic cats are just as much behind the disappearance of the birds as loss of habitat. You can go online and get loads of info for rigging your feeders.
      Forgive this old lady for “butting in”.
      Debbie in Maine

  11. Dianne says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for another beautiful and inspiring post. I can “feel” the sunshine in your words. I loved the pictures of the flowers, especially since I haven’t been able to get out in my garden yet. I have sneaked a peek and things seem to be flourishing- especially the weeds. I should be fully mobile by the first week in June and able to dig in the dirt again. I can’t wait.
    Until then I am perusing my travel books and the web for places to visit in 2022. I can’t believe that 300 people have already booked passage. We are going to have such a great time!! I wonder if any of prospective passengers are from the Hudson Valley. I would love to meet beforehand to exchange ideas. I have been following Facebook, but I’m not that literate where the site is concerned. I must admit that I sometimes have difficulty following the entries. They sometimes seem to jump around a lot. I can’t wait until the group tours are posted, as I am hesitant to drive on the “wrong” side of the road.
    The past year is now behind us, and we are slowly getting back to normal. I’ll get my second vaccine on Friday, and two weeks after that I can welcome my friends into my home. I can’t wait! Your post of the birthday party (including pictures) has inspired me to celebrate in a “big” (but not too big) way. Take care

    • sbranch says:

      Not 300 … that I know of! Not sure now how many … maybe 100? Or a few more. . . new people are signing up every day! I go to bed thinking about it! I pray everyone has a WONDERFUL experience! Go onto my Facebook page to connect with fellow passengers . . . there’s a special page for it, you’ll see a link to it near the top of the Facebook page. I also put a link to it in this last post. I think you have to “ask” to join, because it’s a “new page?” I’m with you, I understand nothing about how Facebook works ~ thank goodness for Kellee! You sort of have to be patient, keep clicking on comments, and read a bit… you can answer any comment you want. I know, sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but don’t worry, the group tours are offering the most wonderful access, and they do all the driving, you won’t have to worry about a thing ~ and I’ll make sure to clarify, although the tour company is doing all the work! All I’m doing is making sure they go to the places I’ve seen and know you would love! You’ll get to see choices of tours and print them out to read and think at your leisure. Happy Friday shot to YOU!!! Make sure your friends and family are getting their vaccines so you can all be together again. It was, and still is, an experience of great joy I know we will all love, being together again. xoxoxo

  12. Susan, are you familiar with Penelope Keith’s series on villages? It’s marvelous and well worth viewing.

  13. Mary says:

    Oh, I’m definitely going!! Would be so great if you could do a tie-in mug with the QMII on it 🙂

  14. Debbie Boerger says:

    Going to do a trifle this weekend. Our bestest Maine buddy is officially coming “out ta camp”, up from Old Orchard Beach for the Summer. Yea!! I’m going to make a banana-coconut one, per your idea. Banana or coconut cream pie is my Fav, so how can one go wrong with both? Also, I cut my first batch of rhubarb. Have many recipes, and will make a coffee cake for her to have with her morning coffee. The plants came from her lovely father many years ago. He taught me all about the joys of “rubub”, as they say in Down East Maine. I’d never tried it.
    Thank you, dear Susan,
    Debbie in Maine

  15. Bobbie Calgaro says:

    What a lovely post! Spring in NC has been lovely and cool! Not overly hot as some years are and I am overjoyed that my dahlia tubers have come back. I can’t wait for them to bloom. In the meantime my Knock out roses are lovely and I’ve put in my lantana that will take over the space by the end of summer and the most wonderful thing is our new screened in back porch which I just can’t seem to leave. I could sit out there all day! So glad you are feeling better! I know that what you needed was friends all around the table again! The trip to England sounds glorious. My husband and I are looking forward to traveling again. I want to go to Europe at some time but there is so much to see here in the states. So I think we’ll start here first! Happy spring!

    • sbranch says:

      Each day of this new normalcy brings us a little more happiness! Joe and I have driven across country too many times to count, always stopping to see the sights. We’ve loved every minute of it!

  16. Lauri in Virginia says:

    Have you watched All Creatures Great And Small on PBS? My husband and I really enjoyed it and the Yorkshire scenery is 🌄 heavenly. Thanks for catching us all up on the upcoming trip!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes we did! But nothing I’ve seen so far comes close to making me cry the way the books did!

  17. Rose Wood says:

    What a fun post. I will be in England next March. Planned for a couple of years. All of you will have so much fun together. I just came off Martha’s Vineyard a week ago. I go every year. Such a fun and interesting place. Drove right by your house and waved. Lol enjoy spring. Rose

    • sbranch says:

      You came at the right time, it was gorgeous spring last week. This weekend it’s like November, cold, windy, and rainy!

  18. Debbie Boerger says:

    The banana/coconut trifle will have to wait. I am totally bushed. More sanding in the little room, more vacuuming, washing of windows,cleaning the office chair that lives in there (yucky to the max) washing down the computer desk…and began moving furniture back in. Managed to find a space on the kitchen counter to make 2 rhubarb coffee cakes for out brunch tomorrow, just the 2 of us and our Bestie. Now to rest before it’s time to have supper along with a sample of the cake. 🙂 Thank you for the wonderful video from your kitchen window. Wisteria has got to be my all time favorite! And I love your cooking things hanging there. Evidence of a well used, well loved kitchen.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Maine

  19. Stefanie M. Price says:

    Dear Susan…You are a reader, and therefore, I feel totally comfortable suggesting a book for you to read…I am reading it on my Kindle, with Google beside me…the book is, “The Last Bookshop in London” by Madeline Martin, there is SO MUCH I am learning about WWII, that I did not know!…It is an easy read…and something I think you may enjoy!!!….anyway…as always, your blog post is delightful…and riveting!….Blessings to you and yours!!!

  20. Mary says:

    Booked my cabin today!! Soooo excited!!!! Oh boy, I’m already dreaming of the clothes and bedazzlements I will bring! 🙂

  21. Debbie Boerger says:

    If any of you have booked a Gardens tour after your voyage with Susan, here’s one for you. A number of years ago I read the book, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, by Tim Smit. The garden has been named UK’s best garden. The story of how an abandoned garden in Cornwall was brought back to life is a great read…lots of pictures. A massive undertaking.
    Debbie in Maine

  22. Viffy says:

    This has to be my FAVORITE blog post ever! It was all too much! The photos and itinerary of the Queen Mary trip, the lilacs, the strawberry trifle, the table settings and all of the great news and well wishes. I so needed every bit of it.
    So, thanks. Just one question as I ponder the U.K. trip… is there reasonable accommodation for those who are not in the best shape for distance walking, step climbing, etc.?
    Oh, and if I could add a few more movie titles to the ‘must see’ category… here they are: Mr. Skeffington and Now, Voyager (as you can see, I’m a huge Claude Rains fan.) Seriously, these have to be two of the most fascinating movies that I’ve ever watched. They will change your life.

    • sbranch says:

      Love them both! As for trip, the ship is pretty easy, there are elevators on all floors. Tours might be different… best thing is for you to call them both and ask because I really don’t know. Get info from the experts!

      • Viffy says:

        Will do!
        It does seem like it would be a magical trip! England is on my list already… just trying to decide if by cruise ship or not.
        Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day!

  23. Maureen C Townsend says:

    Hi, Susan, I am so glad you are feeling better. I have followed you for years. Your blogs mean so much to me. They are a ray of sunshine, and so encouraging. Thank you for just being you. Hugs, Maureen 🙂

  24. Cheryl says:

    I just booked this trip for myself, my sister and our friend (Cheryl, Terry and Barbara)! We are so excited. Cannot wait to hear more information on the extra add on days of teas, castles, lambs and all the rest. Hurry, hurry I can hardly stand the anticipation 🚢 🚢🚢

    • sbranch says:

      I’m hurrying! I wait patiently for the Travel people to get back to me. I think they are ALMOST done, but now we have a long weekend, I am TRYING to be patient, but it isn’t easy! What a trip for girlfriends!

  25. Gale Jourdet says:

    Dear Susan,
    Susan BRANCH….It’s destiny how your life has unfolded, so like a tree that grows many new BRANCHES every year. Really it is true. I have followed you with delight from your very first book, “ Heart of the Home.” I had a stationery store at the time and I gave to you a 4’ tabletop display-complete with a large mixing bowl on a red and white checkered tablecloth, a copy of your book of the moment, propped in the bowl…your other books on simple white shelving backing up this display and that new book opened flat next to the bowl to be read easily by my customer. It was great! Soon it grew into more books and calendars, too! I was in business 22 years. You were a part of MY success.

    Going back to my first thought today… have grown in so many ways, branching out your tree, growing your business and yourself in many directions. I am seeing a poster in the likeness of a family tree…with the branches being actual script, growing upward and outward each one describing a new accomplishment. Not just books, but all your products from when you started….leaving the top of the tree just an light impression to be filled in with your future
    endeavors…not just products, but speaking appearances and your trips and now of course, the Queen Mary cruise with your girlfriends.
    You would be filled with pride and accomplishment EVERY time you passed by it as it hung in your home and seen everyday as you passed by….A great and uplifting reminder that thru it all….you have made a good life, designed by you, every single day, every year that has passed. It’s like WOW!
    You inspire us girlfriends. Thank you for the happiness you have brought to me. I got thru this terrible year by re-reading your trilogy. I remember my dreams now. I am starting to get back to real life again, too.
    Thank you Susan….we need joyful reminders and encouragement and courage all the time.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Gale, how sweet of you, I wish I could have visited your store!! Only thing I know for sure, something I have in common with our Girlfriends, I did the best I could. The maps of our futures may already be there by divine hand, but you sure as heck do not have a map! Just have to do your best and keep trying! Inspiration has always been my favorite thing … when I’m inspired, I get UP and get GOING and make happy changes that give me the things that inspire! So to be able to give that gift is the answer to a huge dream. They say you can’t have it all, but there’s no reason you can’t try! And on the road to not having it all, you get a WHOLE lot more than you ever imagined!!🚢🚀🏡📚👩‍🍳♥️

  26. Alexis says:

    So excited about this trip I hope I’m not to late to get a booking !
    I will be keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward to the information of the add
    On days , just to much fun and a whole year to anticipate the trip !

    • sbranch says:

      Coming soon. Got a note from Kelsey who’s helping put this together … she says she’s almost finished confirming the hotels, itineraries, and pricing. It’s all coming together!

  27. Jenn Barker says:

    Here’s an unusual question- what pillows do you use/recommend? I’m having a difficult time finding a good one- and I have tried several!

    Oregon strawberries are just coming into season- so I will be trying your triffle recipe for sure.
    Lastly-I am swooning over the thought of joining you on the QM to England. Will have to ponder if my budget can hadle it. Otherwise, I will be eagerly awaiting your virtual tour.

    Sunny Days,

    • sbranch says:

      Bed pillows? I am old school and love feather pillows… but most of them have too many feathers in them for me (and my neck!). So I look for the really soft almost flat ones, which are NOT easy to find. I like old pillows after they’ve lost a lot of feathers. We tried new ones recently, with all the loose foam pieces in them, but they weren’t for me even though I got the softest one. Still too high. My neck neck knows what it wants. A loose feather pillow can be mooshed into the shape you need it to be, the foam ones seem to tell ME how they want to be!

  28. Joan D. Wood says:

    Susan – I figured you could direct this for me. I emailed your customers service but didn’t hear back – about my “Come, Sit, Stay” cross stitch kit. I got it for Christmas and finally got it out to begin, but the instructions for stitching were not included. I assume you have my email address as it states above. Thanks in advance for your kind attention. Love, a long time fan. Jo

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