2022

Oh my! 2022 Happened! This is going to take some getting-used-to! Fingers crossed, prayers made, kisses for luck, wishes on candle, black-eyed peas eaten, even threw salt over my shoulder just in cases . . . we’ve covered our bases to make sure this year is better than last! Let’s see what we get! Definitely things to look forward to! At least we’re together, so that’s one good thing. Here’s to a year filled with good things! MUSICA!

And, would it be too much to ask if we can please start Christmas over? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a Christmas Covid story. Ours was a dilly ~ don’t worry, it has a happy ending. ish.For us, it was all about Christmas dinner ~ which we were going to have with SIXTEEN very close friends, despite everything, a true celebration because we couldn’t do it last year, and earlier-on we THOUGHT we could do it this year, so everyone planned hard for it starting way back in the summer ~ we even had 3 of our beloveds came over from England! It was going to be the high-point of our Christmas. Being together again! We were loath to give it up despite the bad Covid news … we were all very very aware of what was going on, so we decided that in order to come together everyone had to be extra careful on the days leading up, and feel GREAT with out a touch of sniffle or body ache, and we each promised to take a covid test just before we left home.

All dressed and ready to go, our coats were on, food, drink, Christmas crackers and confetti poppers, light-bulb necklaces, and gifts were in 3 big shopping bags on the kitchen table, so excited as we waited for the results of our tests which we knew would be negative.

And just as expected, first Elaine and then me, were negative. And then it was Joe’s turn… Joe, Father Christmas, most careful Covid guy, cleanest hands, most often seen in a mask, fully vaccinated and boosted, of course . . .

. . . tested positive.😳 That pink line? That’s a big no-no. We just stood there and stared. Took a moment to realize what it all meant. Whaaaaat? Joe, poor baby, put on a mask.😷

Despite zero symptoms for any of us, we could do nothing but cancel. Call Bob and Peggy’s enchanted house under the stars, and tell them we couldn’t come to Christmas dinner. And, because they had been around us recently, they felt they had to cancel the entire party just in cases. At that moment, their cozy house was warm and smelled like heaven ~ the turkey was done, cooked perfectly, the baby onions bathed in cream, Bob’s gravy flavored to a T, the candles were lit, the table sparkled, the roses were in their vases, the wine chilled, the tree gleamed, the fire crackled, everything was ready … but too bad, it all had to be put away ~ and on December 25, 16 people went and got in their jammies and checked to see what they had in the fridge. Joe was totally verklempt, and so were we all. The most anti-climatic thing we could imagine! Wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t set our hearts on it!! Best laid plans . . . struggled to act like grownups and not throw ourselves on the floor and have a fit.

Siobhan (Shi-von, remember?) was here from England, staying at the little house with our friends Bob and Peggy. She was supposed to move in with us the day after Christmas and stay for the rest of her visit. For crying out loud. 😩 Literally. All on hold.

Nothing left to do but go take pictures in front of the tree. Elaine and I told Joe he could take his mask off because whatever he had we had ~ and we might as well enjoy what was left of this abbreviated mini-half-life. But you see in the photo, he didn’t want to breathe on me, and that was the best smile he could muster.  And then it was over. Elaine went home to her dog Ripper. We stared at the fire and drank a glass of egg nog, I sang Peggy Lee, “Is that all there is . . .” Pitiful. Wracking my brain doing the Pollyanna thing, trying to find the good in this. Of course, it’s always there. Nobody would be sick.

But to make a long story short and cheer you guys up ~ it had a happy, if long, ending! We were the lucky ones. No one went to the emergency room. Joe tested again that night, and he was negative. He tested two more times at home during the next couple of days, and both times he was negative. And then he had a test at the hospital, and once again, yay team, he was negative. Maybe the whole thing was God’s way of saying, “No, people, I don’t think so.” But anyway, three days late, and with the all-clear sounded, everything got better when Siobhan moved in.

We wasted no time doing what we love best . . .

Walks to the sea . . .

Happy picture-taking for the memories . . .

Through the woods . . .

and then, another day, with Peggy and Elaine . . . and Ripper too . . . on Peggy’s walk which is so much like our walks in England, past little farms and across wooden bridges over ponds . . .

. . . lined with winterberry. Hill and dale in the fresh air. 

We walked past this wonderful old barn . . .

. . . I had to take pictures of this crunchy old beauty . . .

Abandoned but still welcoming . . . Must be a story to tell in those jagged shingles at the top . . . the handmade walls with little rocks tucked among the big ones . . .

Back home, Jack was our plaything . . .

Siobhan was crazy about him, although you can tell by his expression, he was blaming me for allowing this…. not too many people besides me actually pick him up. Look at those eyes!

Every night before bed I do what Jack has trained me to do, and shoot rubber bands down the stairs to his waiting delight. Why? We don’t know. It’s a Jack thing. Mine is not to wonder why. And I never get to take videos to show you because it requires two hands to shoot rubber bands ~ so Siobhan took the video!

XOXO

If you’ve been getting Willards long enough you remember how Jack got his start. This is him as a kitten. He taught me to throw balls, and he brought them back. Then he graduated to love for ponytail bands. Soon enough he quit bringing those back to me, only rarely if he thinks I might leave the room! I’m just supposed to SHOOT the bands! MAS MUSICA!

Wishing you all a crazy cat in your life . . . 🥰

By the time Siobhan left, Jack was jumping up and rubbing on her…

We shopped, cooked, ate, walked, visited, drank tea, gave each other tips for mental health, and caught up with our lives …

It was all about spending time together . . .

Despite the emergency interrupt, we had a wonderful time!

I cried when I first saw her ~ it felt like it had been forever, this old covid has kept so many of us apart ~ and I cried when she went away. So complicated to travel these days, we were just grateful she came!

All too soon, she was gone. She tested negative in Boston, spent New Year’s Eve flying over the pond, and tested negative again in London. We stood and watched the boat disappear with that bright red coat waving the whole way.
Time is a great healer and by New Year’s Eve we were ready to try again … Elaine, Peggy, Bob, Lowely, John, and us, toasting Siobhan, sending her videos on What’s App, and wishing for better things for 2022 … and we were all home in bed by 9 pm!
We poured the wine into these gorgeous old shallow-bowl etched champagne glasses we found in an antique store and have been using for years because when you toast with them, they ring like bells. If they could only talk! The perfect thing for going back in time, so 1936 . . .
There was so much bad news in 2021 ~ seems that’s all we heard. After everyone left, Joe and I sat for a while in front of the fire and counted our blessings. We were reminded to be grateful for all we had, our home, our families, and friends ~ each other. We said prayers for those who couldn’t be with their loved ones, for those who have suffered losses to covid, for people whose homes had burned in that freak Colorado fire, and for those who survived tournedos and floods … but, despite this, 2021 wasn’t all bad … the human race made great progress too, the news just seems to like the bad stuff better . . . read HERE for some of the good things that happened in 2021! We took better care of bees!🐝 There was an orchid found in England they thought was extinct!😲 We fully vaccinated half the human race in only a year! Almost 5 billion vaccines given so far!👍 So much reason for hope. In Britain you can now rent chickens for a few weeks to try it out!🐓 Twin pandas took their first baby steps!🐼 They finally found the long-lost blue dress worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz! You have to look for the silver lining, but it’s there. Betty White passed away before January 17 which would have been her 100th birthday, it was very sad . . . but now, because she was such a passionate spokesperson for animals, people everywhere are donating $5 in her honor to their local animal shelter to celebrate her birthday! I marked it on my calendar! Goodness begets goodness. We are so strong. The earth tilts toward the light.💖 So much beauty.

And look, we even got snow! Goodbye 2021, hello bright New Year! 

So it’s back to normal for us . . . putting away my bird tree today . . . birds tucked into their box for when I need them again!

Jackie got a rug for Christmas from his darling friend Karen!💖 He loves it! He’s always on it! It’s a Claire Murray design. Thinking I need to embroider a mustache on that rug! (Note, ponytail band behind the door!)

We tried out the new egg maker we got from Lowely and John . . . my favorite kind of machine, with only one button.👏

Soft boiled . . .

. . . perfection!

I put all the birthdays and anniversaries, sailings and picnics onto my new Calendar and hung it up (we ran out of wall`calendars at the Studio this year! If you didn’t get one, I think they still have some on Amazon! We still have the Mini, the Blotter calendar, and the Purse calendar, fyi) . . . there’s a TRIP TO ENGLAND ON MINE …. eeek! May First will be here before we know it! So excited!

Of course we’ve been walking . . .

bundled up, on cold and foggy days …

Made much brighter because we are listening to this and feeling that we are walking in foggy London with Charles Dickens in 1843!

Books and imagination will take you everywhere!♥️

Because it really is the little things…📚

Right now we have a fire going ~ it’s 24º this morning! . . . Joe’s outside filling the bird feeders, bringing in more wood, and putting away Christmas things because we are being told to expect snow in the next couple of days! He brought the snow shovel into the house so he won’t have to dig it out from the barn during a snowstorm with his hands! Very organized!

And so we say fare thee well to another Christmas . . .⭐️

All my little things get put away. I watched my dear ex-mother-in-law cut out those paper dolls before my very eyes! She learned to do it when she was a little girl. They’ve been on all of my trees for over 40 years! I made the star and the candy cane when I was in my 20s. I was with Elaine in San Luis Obispo in 1975-ish when we each bought one of the rocking horses in a little shop on Chorro Street. Every tree is a tree of memories! 

My treasured felted-wool Jack doll took center stage on the mantle this year. I have to hide him from the real Jack or he will EAT him! He came complete with felted red ball.❤️

 When Jack was little you couldn’t separate him from this ball!

We’re leaving the trees up and lit, both inside and out, until Twelfth Night. By that time, I’m sure this one will crumble into dust! I tiptoe by it and hear the tinkling sound of falling needles! But it’s still pretty! Let the celebration continue!

Back to reality . . . Up early these freezing mornings as always, turning on the heat, taking a cup of my favorite Earl Grey tea with Lavender through the quiet house to make a dream come true ~ to work on my project, the Secrets of Life, Distilled Genuis, Quotes from the Ages. I love it ~ working on it is like going into a happy cave! Where I hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.🙉🙈🙊 It is SUCH a cheery thing during a Dam-panic that is making so many of us basically, dare I say it? Miserable? The words in these quotes are full of hope, joy, enlightenment, humor, and thousands of years of wisdom from the geniuses of the world; hope from the past bringing hope for the future. I’m praying you’re finding your own ways to see the bright side of life ~ these days are so trying, isolation, and worry for children just doesn’t seem to end. It can be exhausting. I’m with you. We’re all in it together!
Because a fresh New Year is a

 and anything is possible, especially if you know you are in charge, and can make a dream come true . . . winter is so perfect for this! 

I want this book done, off to the printer, and in your hands before we leave on the ship. That’s my plan.  TICK-TOCK!!!

Every year Kellee makes us a special Christmas Card, always so creative! On this one she added my watercolored winter hats! She’s magic … they all are. Running a business from 3,000 miles away for so many years requires a very special relationship. Loyalty, understanding, respect, compassion, and dependability is a requirement for all of us. Add these people to my long list of “Things I’m Grateful For.”💖

This is a screen shot of me and Jack taken by one of our girlfriends during the Enchanted Book Club Webinar ~ I promised I would get you a link for it in case you weren’t able to attend… HERE it is! (and yes, free!) Hope you like it!

And FYI, there is another Zoom Webinar coming to a screen near you from Cary Memorial Library in historic Lexington MA on Wednesday, January 19 at 7pm EST (4 pm in California, but I’m afraid, way too late in Europe!) Mark your calendar… Fill your teapot and join us for a cozy, January talk in front of the fire. I don’t have the link for you to sign up yet, but I’ll put it in my next post as soon as I get it!

As for our trip aboard the Queen Mary 2 in May . . . as you know, we’re still going! (Basically wild horses can’t pull us away!!! We WANT OUT 🤪 {calm down Sue. okay.}). Are you still coming? I’m sure, for a variety of reasons, some of you had to cancel … and those who did were able to get a complete refund if they canceled by December 31 … which MEANS, that perhaps the “sold-out ship” may NOT be “sold out” anymore!👏 So if you’d like to join us on this crossing, give a call to Susan Gannon at Cunard . . . she’ll let you know what’s what and when! Her number is 800-468-7752 ext 41663. Tell her you’d like to join the Susan Branch Group #TNM/USA (or if you’re from Canada, it’s TN3/Canada) ~ Voyage #M211. Be sure to ask about their plans for Covid protection and what their cancellation policy is. Remember, there are several small tours planned (designed by me with all my favorite places, call Kelsey at 866-563-7077 and let her know you’d like to join the SB tours) so you won’t necessarily have to drive when you arrive in the UK. The tours are all scheduled for 8 days, and at the end, everyone on a tour will be reunited at our picnic in Stourhead. But you DON’T have to take a tour to come to the picnic … which will be on the lawn in beautiful Stourhead on May 15 around noon, just show up and BYO picnic basket! England will be so pretty, all decked out in bunting to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee … we were there for her Diamond, and now, the biggest of them all, Platinum! PLUS, we get to have a Magner’s Pear Cider on the ship. Oh! The yearning!🤪 

Here’s a photo of our first picnic at Stourhead . . .hopefully you will get to meet some of the characters from A Fine Romance there!♥️

 

 

Well, dearest ones . . . off I go, back to book work… first I need to go throw another log on the fire and while I’m at it, shoot a couple of ponytail bands for you know who! Thanks for stopping by! Happiest New Year to everyone! ❌⭕️

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452 Responses to 2022

  1. Megan M says:

    So glad the positive test was a false alarm and that you got to be with your friends.
    After months of doing everything right (shots,masks, sanitizer, no crowds, etc.) my husband got Covid about 4 days before Thanksgiving and I got it 2 days after him. Thanksgiving plans with our elderly friend had to be canceled. This was especially hard as her health is poor and we expect this would have been our last Thanksgiving together. We did a turkey dinner at home that neither of us really tasted. Happily, we were able to spend Xmas with our friend and we had an especially lovely time.
    I get tired easily these days and am not my usual bubbly self, but we are both so thankful to be alive and well nd able to enjoy more time with our friend.
    Please stay safe and healthy, we all need your uplifting voice. May your England trip be a delight!

    • sbranch says:

      If you are sad for too long, be sure to talk to your doctor. I did, and I’m better. It’s a very hard time these days. People are suffering… but there is help just in case you decide you need it. Sending love. xoxoxo

    • Patricia J. Varga says:

      I love your newsletters and look forward to them all the time. But most importantly, I LOVE your calendars. I can’t believe I delayed in getting your 2022 wall calendar and now can’t find it anywhere. I hang it in my kitchen and I appreciate it’s beauty each and every day. Please tell me you will reprint the wall calendar, and I can still order it in the near future. To date I still have my 2021 calendar hanging and have to keep reminding myself it’s not December nor 2021. Believe me, I’ll never procrastinate again when it comes to your calendars! Please consider reprinting. I know I’m not alone in this request. Happy, healthy New Year to you, Joe, and Jack!

      • sbranch says:

        I actually design my calendars for another company, a publisher, and they probably won’t reprint this late … there is always a minimum number they must print and it’s usually very high. If you’ve collected my calendars for a long time, you MAY have a 2011 calendar lying around. Long shot, but it has the same grid as the 2022. It’s rare we totally sell out, but awful when we do! ❌⭕️

  2. Carolyn says:

    Happy new year!

  3. Kathy W says:

    Oh boy, well I’m so glad everything turned out okay for Joe and you were able to spend time with your friends after all. My 16 yo grandson got it two days after Christmas. We were all together on Christmas Eve! but no one else has gotten it thank God. He felt bad for a few days but is much better now. Even with all this going on, the New Year brings much hope. Loved your blog as usual. It always makes me happy. 😍

  4. Yvonne B says:

    Happy New Year! SUSAN, JOE, JACK.

  5. Nancy Brown says:

    I love your blog and love your green living room what is that beautiful paint color

    • sbranch says:

      I wrote it down for a change! It’s Martin Senor Russell House Colonial Williamsburg #519 Green Light.

      • Nancy Brown says:

        Thank you

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Part of the down stairs of our small town house here in Tampa is painted what looks to be a very similar green. I just adore your living room!!! Mine is a Benjamin Moore color. I added just a tinge of a darker green for the space under the chair rail….very subtle. Love those drapes!! I have always done my own painting, but no longer. Tom says after breaking both feet 6 months apart and doing the face plant on the driveway, there will be no more climbing up on ladders.
        Mucho Love,
        Debbie in Tampa

  6. Stacy Rodriguez says:

    Your newsletters are the most delightful things – visually and musically and I almost feel like I can smell the “coziness” of it all. I guess what I’m saying, in a weird way, is that they’re very sensual!!! 🙂 If only I could keep the Musica playing while I read it. I’ve forgotten somehow how to make that happen.

    Xoxo and Happy New Year!

  7. Karen L. Sullivan says:

    So very happy to learn that everyone is fine and in good health. Our family experienced the same thing this Christmas, just a small celebration again. Question-Is Ripper a West Highland Terrier? Love the photos of your walks, I walk daily also, even in the cold. Happy New Year and stay safe!

  8. Penny Carpenter says:

    Dry Christmas trees catch on FIRE! best get yours out of the house soon.

  9. Ann R says:

    Oh Happy Day! A blog post from our from our Sweet Sue complete with pictures of a cute feline Hercule Poirot looking a bit miffed, and Finding Your Roots starts up on PBS tonight. Great starts for January 2022. Thank you and Alooohhhaaa!

  10. Rosinda says:

    Happy New Year, dear Susan! Your posts always warm my heart. Thank you! So glad you had a happy Christmas ending after all! I recognize several lovely faces in the photo of the first Stourhead picnic! I’m excited to follow you on your next England adventure! Love and hugs from Canada! xoxo

  11. Kathy says:

    I’m so excited for the new book!! Jack is so amusing the look on his face in Siobhan’s arms is priceless! I have had kitties my whole life, I don’t think I could do without them! Happy New Year!

  12. Joanna Peterson says:

    Happy 2022! I’m so sorry about your Christmas plans. But thankful everyone is well. I’m looking forward to your new book, Secrets of Life! Being a fan of Bartlett’s, I’ve always loved all the quotes you include. What a beautiful book this will be!

  13. Jana says:

    The close-up photo of you and Siobhan was one of the dearest “friends” photos I’ve ever seen. Warmed my heart. So good to read every word of this today. Love and appreciation.

  14. Linda Hurst says:

    The BEAUTIFUL snow scene of your home was a belated Christmas Card! Thanks for this post. Loved it all!

  15. julia walker says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you for sharing your beautiful home once again! I’m so sorry for your disappointment but thankful for the happy ending. Jack is my favorite cat ever-enjoyed the videos so much! Happy New Year to you and Joe.

    Lovingly, Julia

  16. Tam Hess says:

    Always enjoy your blog, Susan. It’s uplifting and beautiful! Great to hear about your writing and your life on the Zoom with The Enchanted Book Club Webinar.
    Enjoy finishing your 2 books on quotes and anticipating your May trip to England again. Can’t wait to see and hear about both! Joyous New Year!

  17. Jane Franks says:

    Dear Susan! It is wonderful to again read your blog. It’s been quite a while since I’ve “ventured” into social . . . media or any kind! This was my first Christmas without my darling sidekick, best friend, partner for life (his just ended a little sooner than mine). But. . .I have been blessed. I had a Christmas surprise, too, but mine was kind of in reverse of yours. I was going to (happily!) just stay home and write and think, and remember and play Christmas carols. The halls were all decked and I had entertained just a few earlier. Well, I stopped by the fire station, just to wish Merry Christmas (on my way home from taking a beautiful bouquet to visit Gene and the cemetery) and my knights in shining armor (who have been taking care of me all year!) would hear nothing of my staying home! They invited me to Christmas dinner at the fire station. Three of the firemen (3 of 6 who were “besties” with Gene) were there and one of the wives and son. We feasted on grilled sirloin steak and shrimp better than any 5 star restaurant. These guys know how to cook and eat!! I brought and introduced them to English mince pies with hard sauce. It was a very special and much appreciated time. I am so sorry your party didn’t happen, but I am inspired as always with the aplomb with which you always approach the challenges of life! And so good to see your friends and views of MV! Wishing you a Very Happy New Year, and I will be watching and waving when you embark on your Atlantic Crossing adventure in May. Love, Jane xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I LOVE that story Jane! I see you in a circle of love at that feast! Fun and festive, and not your regular Christmas!!! I think about you and Gene often…it’s good to see you venturing out again. It can’t be easy, and yet you are always so busy counting your blessings ~ it’s bound to bring joy and healing. Happy 2022 to you!❌⭕️

    • Melissa says:

      Such a wonderful story, Jane, so much love everywhere, and thanks for sharing it with us.

      • Jane Franks says:

        Thank you, Melissa, and you’re welcome. These first responders really are a blessing. I never realized all they do, until my husband needed so much “rescuing” and transporting to the ER. They just loved him and became good friends. They would come to see him even when they were not on call. One of my friends tells me these stories about their help have restored her faith in human nature and the good things we don’t always hear. I’m glad you enjoyed this, too.

  18. Dawn Rutigliano says:

    Happy New Year Susan,Joe and Jack too! I always look so forward to reading your Willards! Reading your stories help brighten my day and my outlook! many thanks 😊! So sorry to read of your Christmas dinner/Covid challenges-but so very glad that all turned out well and that Joe is just fine, along with all of your dear friends! Praying for all good things for everyone in this brand new year 🤗

  19. Penny says:

    I’m glad it was a false positive….and that Joe & you are well & happy! It really has been disturbing hasn’t it and now with the Omni surging …..all we can do is keep washing hands -masking -get the booster(s) – and stay away from large crowds that you have no idea of their lifestyle.
    Happy New Year -hoping it is a good one .
    Penny from Mt.Rose

  20. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    Thank you for putting a smile on my face today! My beloved husband of 41 years passed away December 4th. He was out hiking with friends by the ocean & exploring caves near where we live. Sadly, he died instantly on the way back to their cars to return home. I am glad for him that he did not suffer, but this is the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my life – live on without him. We met at ages 15 & 17 – that’s a long time from 76 & 78! When your post arrived today it brought a smile to my face because I knew it would be a delight in my day. Thank you for sharing your friends and loves with us! God bless! Happy New Year to you & Joe!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Jeannette . . . I can’t even imagine …💔 I have a brother going through the same thing. We talk every day. The suddenness is both a blessing and the hardest part. You know we’re always here for you.❌⭕️❌⭕️

    • Janis says:

      I understand your loss. I too lost the love of my life suddenly 3 1/2 years ago. Christmas and life will never be the same. I do my best to continue to decorate and bake for the holidays as I’ve always have, and remember all the memories we made over the 35 years married. We met at 16/17 and raised 3 beautiful children and have 3 delightful grandchildren too. Blessing and prayers for you. Is most difficult but I’m thankful for all I’ve had, and all I’ve got. God Bless You!

  21. Valerie says:

    Loved all of your photos…beautiful smiles!! Thank you…for….well you my dear…love your blog, writings, recipes, books…..pictures….ahhh….a genuine pleasure visiting you! To a happy new year indeed💞💞

  22. Judy from KC says:

    So happy to read your blog! Happy your Christmas plans though altered ended up joyful!
    Glad Joe’s test was a false positive as annoying as that may have been it’s better than the alternative. I have been a nurse for over 40 years still working full time and have never seen anything like this . But we will overcome God is still on the throne. Blessings to you Susan and Joe in the new year ! I will be a virtual traveler again on your voyage! Looking forward to it!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for what you do Judy, from the bottom of my heart. I pray for our healthcare workers every day. And for everyone to step up and help them do their very difficult jobs.❌⭕️

  23. Claudette M.Jensen says:

    So happy to see a new post! What a delightful start to a New Year! I had been checking daily to see if one was up! So sorry for your wonderful Christmas plans needing to be cancelled, but glad everyone was well. Always fun to see what exciting things you are doing with friends. Loved the quote from Gladys Taber! I started reading her in the 70’s when none of my friends had a clue who she was. I didn’t care…I enjoyed her books and I think she had a column in a magazine. Looking forward to your book being completed! Winter is a reflective time and I try to take advantage of that when possible sipping tea from your lovely winter cup. Take care and thank you for your wonderful blogs….Happy New Year to you and Joe!

  24. Carin says:

    Love Jack! Thanks for his video.
    Happy New Year 🥳

  25. Gert~Iowa says:

    Dear Susan, I am happy and I know it! Ha Ha! So sorry about your Christmas dinner. And yes, there was someone who was to attend our Christmas gathering, but was exposed and had to stay home …so sad.
    My kitty, loved the rubber hair ties too. BUT.. next thing I knew she was eating them…uggg She also loves to play with the balls. I was surprised when she played like Jack..bringing it back to me. And then…it got lost (kind of like socks) and am not sure where it went. (Under the stove,fridge, bed. Who knows?) But what wonderful company she is!
    How nice having your friends there visiting. I know you had a great time!
    I’m looking forward to your new book. Also to your Zoom this month,
    Your trip sounds amazing and like such a fun trip! I will be with you virtually once again! I’m excited.

    Blessings,
    Gert

    • sbranch says:

      We got a new fridge this year, pulled out the old one and there must have been 50 hair ties under it! There must be about 1000 hair ties lost somewhere in this house. He does things with them. So we keep buying more! Always love hearing from you Gert … your positivity is inspiring for everyone! 💖

      • Judy Young says:

        lMaybe Jack has been secretly eating the hair bands! Hope not! I really enjoyed this post and reading all the comments. This was my first Christmas without my husband of almost 50 years. He died at the end of June, 2021. I still decorated and celebrated with my family, its what he would have wanted. I saw with interest the egg cooker gift. I was gifted one several years ago and it is amazing for soft boiled eggs. I LOVE your Lady Carlyle egg cups!! That has to be my favorite china pattern. I took inventory of the china cups I have of yours Susan and I have 9. I need one more to complete the set. Will you be designing any more? Take care of each other and to all a Happy New Year.

        • sbranch says:

          He’s not that secretive, but he is FAT, so it has crossed my mind!!! His belly feels very good though, nice and soft and smooth! 😂 FYI, the little egg cup is Minton Cockatrice … Looks a lot like Lady Carlyle! Yes, I’ll design more china cups. Getting SO expensive to do it!!! Because of shipping! I keep telling myself (because I can’t help it), “Okay, one more time.” Have you any requests for design? ❌⭕️ Happy New Year Judy!

  26. Sandra Barton says:

    Hello Susan, Joe & Jack! Happy New Year! Thank you for the new “blog”! Your blogs are always so cheery and uplifting. So very sorry about your dinner party. Glad Joe is ok! The photos from the walks are lovely and peaceful, thank you for sharing. We had family on Christmas Eve & grateful that everyone was ok so that we could be together. Now we are doing what you are—taking down Christmas & putting all the decorations away. Tree is last however, it still is bright and cheerful during our cold snowy days here in Utah! We as well hope for a better 2022! The “New Normal” is not always easy to navigate! I have my new 2022 calendar in the “Susan Branch Calendar” spot by my pantry shelves where I can see it several times a day and enjoy the quotes and cheerful illustrations. Thank you!!! Take care & stay safe & God Bless!!!!

  27. Teri Hyrkas says:

    A very Happy New Year to one and all! So glad for the eventual Happy Ending to your Christmas celebrations as well.

    Must tell you that at our family Christmas gathering of 2019, my oldest granddaughter gave me your book, “Grandma, Tell Me Your Story.” This year at Christmas 2021, I gave it back to her, all filled out. She was very surprised and SO delighted with all the stories, pictures, recipes, and memories tucked inside.

    Thank you for inspiring Haley’s gift-giving with your beautiful book, and thanks also for the encouragement your lovely prompts gave me as I wrote.

    All the best,
    Teri

    • sbranch says:

      What a wonderful forever gift you gave your granddaughter! How I wish I had that book filled out by my own mom and grandma! Family history is the best. xoxoxo

  28. Helen says:

    Welcome to 2022! So glad you, Joe and your friends are healthy. We too had some last minute changes to our holiday plans but celebrations can happen on any day! We are trying to regroup. Looking forward to the new book!

  29. Karen Saunders💖💖💖 says:

    Our Christmas was rather quiet but we enjoyed each other’s company. We trade every other year for spouses families. We even got snow!!!! My youngest son, his wife and three younger children live with us. Every year he decorates like crazy for the kids…..hmmm (that’s his story and he’s sticking to it)😉 So we waited till they got home, several days later and opened presents. It’s so fun to watch the kids!!! Have a blessed year Susan❤️❤️❤️

  30. Regina Carretta says:

    Dearest Susan….oh to hear of your Christmas experiences….hold a mirror to so many of us who had our covid cancellations on Christmas Eve, the odd experiences of testing at home, the sharing of small moments instead of larger gatherings, the realization again that it is the people that are the gifts….bless us all as we continue to go through it …. together…. then in Seattle we had a week of being iced and snowed in! Lots of reflection time, lots of additional isolation time, lots of neighbors helping neighbors, with shoveling, shopping, tea, elevenses…..proving that covid, or snow storms, we are here for each other….sending you love, dearest Susan…..Regina from Seattle

    • sbranch says:

      Neighbors helping neighbors is probably the main theme of our last couple of years. They should be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.❌⭕️

  31. Angie says:

    Love the rubber band video. That cat is such a character. Happy New Year.

  32. Ann Solomon says:

    I’m looking forward to your quotations book. I, too, kept a couple of books filled with collected quotations that I’ve loved and jotted down over the years. I don’t think that mine are as diverse in subject as I expect that yours will be , so what fun it’ll be to read yours. Susan, stay well and be well. You are one of this life’s joys. I’m 91 and have collected your books and read your blogs forever. They always lift me up.

  33. Judy Brownfield says:

    Susan, I had to explain to my hubby why I was laughing out loud. It was the first photo of Jack with Siobhan. I got the giggles! Thank you!!

  34. Hazel Steeves says:

    Health and happiness to you and Joe in 2022.🥰

  35. Corky says:

    Happy and blessed 2020! May we be seeing the pandemic into an endemic this year!
    Xo Corky

  36. Evie Tong says:

    Happy Healthy 2022 and
    A-LO-HA-HA to you Dearheart Susan!!
    Your Blog was full of cheer especially the happy ending of Joe’s health!!
    Keep safe and well … Evie in San Diego ♥️💗♥️

  37. Janice says:

    Dear Susan,
    We are still waiting and hoping to have our Christmas with our children and grandchildren. Our oldest son, father to six of our grandchildren, came down with COVID just before we were scheduled to get together. He was quite sick and did receive the antibody therapy. He is doing much better, thank goodness! Now one of our grandsons is sick with it though. Christmas decorations are still up, presents remain wrapped, and we are all still hoping to be able to celebrate. We may be celebrating Christmas in July, who knows. So glad you both ended up healthy and were able to spend some time with your friends. Praying 2022 is a much healthier and happier year.

    • sbranch says:

      🙏🙏🙏 I’m so sorry. My brother had it so I know how nasty it can be. They don’t talk about that part enough.🙏

  38. Anne C. Jones says:

    Dear Susan – so many thoughts after reading your beautiful newsletter! Good to know that it’s OK to leave my tree up for a few more days. And I’m very glad that you and Joe, and your friends are well. You’ve done all the right things. Now, if everyone else would just GET VACCINATED….. Retired RN here. So frustrated.
    Dare I ask – what are the dates of the Susan Branch tour? That would be a dream come true – England with Susan Branch and friends! A trans-Atlantic crossing? England in May??? I have been nowhere since March 2020 except a short visit with my sister and brother-in-law who live in Woods Hole last summer. Yes, we did spend a day on the Vineyard, and I kept my eye out for a SB sighting, but it was not to be.
    All the best in the New Year. Love, Anne

    • sbranch says:

      Well, the ship leaves May 1 … we arrive May 8…that’s when the tours start … I put a link in the blog so you can see the tours and where they go. I’m not going on the tours, but I’m meeting everyone for the picnic. I’m really not doing any of this myself… Susan Gannon is doing the ship, and the tour company is providing tours … I’m just providing phone numbers for those who are interested! They have all the answers! And I’ll be speaking on board, there will be other little surprises along the way, from me to you, with love …. Can’t WAIT! xoxo

  39. Carolyn Wilson says:

    Dear Susan, Joe, and Jack, All I can say about this covid mess is – poo on toast! Thank goodness you came out from behind the looking glass feeling normal again and full of hopes and dreams. Bonnie and I had a healthy and quiet Christmas 🎄 and started 2022 off in a flurry of organization. We’ve pared down and simplified our lives so we have nothing in our home 🏡 that doesn’t bring us joy and comfort. 2022 is the year we have successfully made this our reality and we are still marvelling over the miracle of our achievements 🌈. Our 18 years young Fizzgee cat is loving her new cat bed – a Pooh bear soft and plushy honey pot. Instant love with her perched in softest furry luxury in a spot where she can supervise our comings and goings. Gus and Jaq have new plush dog beds too. They’re both happiest when they are with us at home while we work. Thank you Susan for your 2022 calendar. It is filled out with things to make the whole year special. Topping it all is our England trip in August. Anticipation! My favorite gift for Bonnie and myself is 2 each of your glass charms. Our first ones and already our favorite necklaces. Thank you.

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Oh, Carolyn, thank you for the new, socially acceptable phrase…Poo on Toast!!! We are certainly getting used to getting an unexpected serving of that, aren’t we. I wouldn’t mind being a pet in your’s and Bonnie’s home!!!

      • Carolyn Wilson says:

        Hi Debbie, Yes -poo on toast -pretty much sums it all up, eh?! Thank you for your kind words. It’s just Bonnie and me and our sweet pets. We’ve had them since they were babies – rescues. Gus is 6 years old and Jaq is 5 years old. They think they’re in charge, but so does Fizzgee. Very entertaining ☺️.

  40. Lucia says:

    Wishing you and Joe all the best for the New Year!
    Looking forward to the book of quotes!
    Lucy

  41. Karen Williams says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Heart full of sadness you all missed a wonderful gathering Christmas Day – but full of joy that Joe didn’t really have covid and that you came through everything safely. Joy of joys to see Jack as a kitten and then real-life videos – he is an absolute delight! Loved hearing him squeak a meow when you asked him if he was ready for another ping of the hair band!! He’s got you well-trained!! 😂😂
    Wonderful memories made again having Siobhan over – she’s very photogenic, as are you all. Super to see the date appearing in my new Susan Branch calendar (yes I was given one for Christmas! Yay 😃 thanks to Lisa Jorgensen CA ❤️) of your trip over to the U.K. – am hoping to be there for the GBP (Great British Picnic) again and need to see if Bernie can come along too! Fun to see the picture from Stourhead again!
    Your Christmas tree looked stunning! Always a sad time putting it all away – but so exciting getting it all out again in December and remembering where everything came from! Happy memories are made of this 😊☺️
    We’ve had our first Christmas in our ‘new’ home in an old village – a sweet country cottage that I’ve longed for and we are making new memories here.
    Thank you, Susan, for a wonderful blog/Willard – always a pleasure to see!
    Wishing you, Joe and Jack a safe, healthy and happy New Year and to all Girlfriends full of blessings to be grateful for.
    Love
    Karen
    Now Northamptonshire instead of Cambridgeshire!
    🇬🇧

  42. Kathi S says:

    Glad you are all healthy & that you had fun spending time together! Wishing you many blessings for 2022!

  43. Wendi Unrein says:

    Well I’m glad we aren’t alone! We all got Covid from Christmas somehow. I tell you it’s nothing to play around with, just glad we all got the shot! It’s strange tho as I am very sick like Bronchitis and was Negative! I’m miserable but am grateful for your blog to lift me up!! Glad it all came around tho! And Jack, I so love that cat, I’ll have to try those hair ties on my Henry!

    Well even tho it got messed up, you are ok! Please everyone, take it serious!!! I wish you immeasurable joy this year!!

  44. Kathy Pinkerton says:

    Enjoyed reading this post! Happy New Year to you and yours! 💕

  45. Barb Landers says:

    OH SUSAN! So sorry your Christmas plans were kaput…..but as usual you, overcame! I am SO EXCITED about your new book, as your quotes have always been one of my favorite things….besides EVERYTHING ELSE! Would you believe that I have some of your page-size recipes (that were in Lady’s magazines, oh, so many years ago) framed, and adorning my little kitchen…..as well as a few of your recipe books. You’ve been a favorite of mine for years and years!!!! I want to be one of the first to get your new book, so keep us posted!

    • sbranch says:

      I remember those… from Country Living Magazine! What a thrill it was for me to do them for my favorite magazine back then! Love hearing from you Barb! Happy 2022! xoxo

  46. Dear Susan, my daughters boss tested positive so our wonderful Christmas didn’t happen either. Luckily my daughter tested negative 5 days later so we got to see each other a little late. We have to follow the rules, which are hard to follow from week to week, but 🙏 this will be the year it goes away. Anyway, there will be Spring after Winter and meanwhile: mask up folks and get vaccinated 👍🥰😷❤️

  47. judi howard says:

    Sending hope and good health to you both in this new year. Hugs, judi

  48. Patricia says:

    Our Christmas plans were canceled this year as well, as I am still so sick (double vaxxed and boostered.) We sadly canceled our reservation on the QM2 after a lot of discussion and tears. My husband said in the future we’ll go- there won’t be any “girlfriends” but it will still be fun for us. Hoping to make it to the picnic at least, but we are being very careful about travel on airplanes in the current climate, so we are waiting another month or two to decide. My husband is English, and we haven’t been back to the UK since March 2020 (when we were on the last plane out of Heathrow to NY the day they closed the UK, and arrived in NY to the news that New York was closed.) My daughter’s English fiancé is now into the 18th month of waiting for his US visa to come through, and they’ve been separated for 6 months, when she moved back to the US. It’s all such a mess. Here’s hoping that in 2022 things open up, and loved ones can see one another, and life can move on! I will definitely be living vicariously through everyone’s photos of the trip.

    • sbranch says:

      A terrible mess Patricia!!! And yes, the Queen Mary will wait until you’re ready. I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Praying for relief this year! xoxoxo

  49. Will this virus ever be a thing of the past? My son caught it and he was so very careful with all the jabs and masks and not going around others. Just have to remember we are not the ones in charge.

    • sbranch says:

      Nope, we do our best, but not in charge. One of my favorite quotes: Pray to God but continue to row toward shore! We’re doing our part! xoxo

  50. Pam Butterick says:

    Dear Sue~ so sad that your Christmas dinner didn’t happen, but maybe in the end, Joe’s false positive saved others’ lives. A true Christmas gift. And, as ever, you made the very best of it, and still got visits in with best friends.
    We will emerge from this, and we will be more mindful and more careful! Your reward awaits in May. ❤️
    Thank you for an uplifting update!

  51. Jen Pen says:

    So glad Joe was okay. Covid stole my holiday. Isolation upstairs. Christmas Eve diagnosis. But my husband fed me and I watched all of Succession. Thank you for the vicarious beach walks and fellowship. I am grateful. ✌️❤️

    • sbranch says:

      Jen! How I love your creativity! 💖 Good thing you have so much of it because you really need it when Covid knocks on your door! You got through it with your gratitude intact! Who can ask for more? Happy 2022 to you and yours! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  52. charlotte m. says:

    Happy new year to you all. I just read through the comments and I have to say, I love that part of your blog. It makes it feel like such a real community here. Happy 2022 to all and wishing for good health for all too.

  53. rhea says:

    Yay Susan!
    I bravely opened my computer this morning and saw your post!! Although I was sorry to hear about Mr. Covid over there, Im happy to hear you guys are well. How nerve-racking this Covid is. Im officially done with it as is everyone else. You did good. Its not fun setting an example by doing the right thing. I would be a lier if I said that I haven’t thrown a few temper tantrums myself during this crazy time. Lol. Im with you-new year, fresh start, bring it on. My house can’t be any cleaner, cupboards organized, old pictures scanned, dated and stored starting from the olden days to present time. Now its all about healthy cooking and eating and making sure we get our walk in everyday! Lots of love and give Jack a pet from me!

  54. Cathy McQuillan says:

    Susan, thank you for the “New Year Pick-Me up!” I do so love reading, seeing your newsletter, full of hope, love, creativity, energy, and positivity — ok, and Jack! Thank you for sharing your gifts with us!

  55. Betsy Brunette says:

    You continue to bless us all with your gratitude in life. I laughed out loud seeing the video of Jack at the bottom of the stairs. He has lived the best life, right?

    How might I share a project with you that I have made? In fact, I make them all the time for friends with whom I have spent time and taken pictures while together. You might want to try one since you have volumes of pics being with special and long-time friends. I call this work picture booklets and they are made with envelopes! I give them away sometimes forgetting to take a picture of the pages within. The recipients adore them!!

    Our Christmas was interrupted big time by Covid. We quickly dropped from expecting 19 adults and 4 children to the final number of only 6 adults and 2 little ones. Everyone afflicted has survived without serious complications. Like you said, we never expected THIS year to be affected. I am leaving up the tree until our son can come up from Charlotte, NC to Fishers, IN. That may be March!

    Good luck with your book work prior to leaving to cross the pond. I relate to your feeling that you are entering a “cave” of sorts where nothing but good happens…..that is how I would also describe my craft room.

    Thank you for staying in touch with all of us.

  56. Sandy Frink says:

    Hello Friend,

    Happy New Year! Love your blog, especially the travel information. Wondering if you offer travel experiences in the USA?

    Look forward to hearing from you!

    XOXO
    Sandy F.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t handle anything with the travel, but I put the phone number there of the people who do… maybe they can help you! xo

  57. Ann Parsons says:

    Wow Susan! Another fabulous blog post but not quite what we were expecting. Despite the overwhelming disappointment of all your well laid plans falling at the last hurdle I think everyone should be proud of themselves that the right decision was made to cancel Christmas and hooray that neither Joe nor anyone else had this awful virus. That is a lot to be thankful for. Alan and I had a lot of fun spotting ourselves and our family in the picture of your first picnic at Stourhead. We made some wonderful friends at that event and keeping in touch with Nicoline and Gabri and Janette and Martyn has been a real blessing. Their regular emails have made the past two years more bearable and uplifting. Hoping we can all meet up again in May.
    Take care dear hearts and keep on staying safe.
    With much love to you both from Ann in Chester xxxx

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, wonderful friends, like you, who we’ve kept in touch with … Nicoline and Gabri too … Janette and Martyn TOO! Carrie and Stuart … so many! Hope to see you all in Stourhead!!!

  58. Coco says:

    Absolutely enchanting, Susan. You have the best life.

  59. Lynda Vancina says:

    Yes,Country Living! In my own personal recipe binder,there is a page ripped from Country Living,December 1989,for your gingerbread cookies. I was a newly-married young woman in my early 20s when I put it there. It is the only gingerbread recipe I have ever used,and I raised 5 kids on it. It simply wouldn’t be Christmas without those cookies!

  60. Melanie says:

    Thanks for this gift arriving to my inbox yesterday. Your blogs always cheer me. Showers of Blessings over you and yours in 2022!

  61. Melissa says:

    Hi Susan, thank you for your posts, they are lovely. You have a gift for making things beautiful and writing encouraging quotes. Because of that I just wanted to write and encourage you in return. Covid is not a death sentence. I’ve had it, my family, extended family, and many of my friends. We are all okay. As a matter of fact, most people who get it will be okay. Please don’t be so anxious about the children getting it. They seem to not be bothered much by it if they even had symptoms at all. The virus will not and cannot be stopped by this vaccine( which isn’t truly a vaccine but a shot) a vaccine prevents a disease this shot does not. It doesn’t matter if your triple vaxxed it doesn’t stop the virus. I’ve personally known at least 10-15 people that have been vaxxed and triple vaxxed that have still come down with covid. The point I’m trying to make is to stop letting fear keep you from living and spending time with family and friends. This pandemic will keep on raging so long as we let the fear and paranoia rule us. I suggest turning off your news or seeking a balanced source of it. Many of the news outlets are spreading hype and fear that are terrizing people. It’s sad, and it’s jwrong. I suggest taking care of your immune system to keep it strong,and live your life normally. This will hopefully pass if people just live their lives. I hope that the truth will flourish this year instead of all the spin and lies. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed year and that it is filled with joy and friends. My best to you and a hug too!

    • sbranch says:

      Doesn’t stop the virus, but it stops death. Like the flu shot. And it’s not so much the children, but their grandparents and their friends that take it to THEIR grandparents … and the horrible closing of schools. Poor little critters. I protect others, my friends and our healthcare workers, by protecting myself. Not so much fear as love. I know others see it differently. I had a friend who almost accused me, “the only reason I got this vaccine was for my friends!” I told her, “That’s what we ALL do!”🤣 Everyone must live their conscience. Prayers for all … best to you for a wonderful 2022.❤️

  62. Barb Murphy says:

    Happy New Year to you, Joe and your 4 legged fur baby.
    It’s bitterly cold in the Midwest. We’ve taken to adding layers of clothing to stay cozy. My order of fleece arrived and I’ll be heading to my sewing room to make some fleece blankets to add to our collection. The more blankets the cozier we’ll be.
    The seed catalogs have begun to arrive in the mail. I love to peruse the pages and dream of our gardens to come this year.
    May this year see you, Joe and the girlfriends healthy, happy and eager to be with family and friends more often.
    Here’s to a year of blessings.

  63. Lori Hamilton says:

    Susan, I’m so sorry for your dashed Christmas plans! Sometimes I think God is trying to teach us to WAIT, be patient, and look at what we have versus what we want.
    Your bird tree has caught my imagination. I had bird feeders and baths outside my sun room windows for several years but this past summer I had to take them down because a hawk has moved in and was killing my precious “pets.” Seeing your tree, I now want to collect birds such as you have and do my own tree until I can have the real ones back. If you have time to answer, where do you find your birds?
    Happy New Year! May 2022 be full of lovely blessings!

    • sbranch says:

      Everywhere . . . you’ll have a fun year of keeping your eyes peeled. Antique stores, gift stores, nurseries; just here and there, you’ll see them! It’s a fun collection to put together! I have a paper stork! Cutest thing!

  64. Kathryn Phenix says:

    What a lovely blog. My favorite character was featured…Jack- boy! Such love. My Siamese, Finn loved watching the video. Hope that he doesn’t start demanding ponytail elastic throwing here. First of all we don’t have a staircase and I don’t have any ponytail elastics.
    Sorry that your Christmas plans had to be abandoned. But, better safe than sorry. Glad Joe wasn’t really ill.
    PS We have the same “Home Sweet Home” rug

  65. Kelly says:

    Oh Susan Branch…I love you❣️Just finished watching the Enchanted Book Club webinar. Thank you for sharing YOU with us❣️❣️

  66. Cindy Maulin says:

    Happy 2022 to you and Joe!!! Praying it’s better than 2021, but it sure is off to a rough start. We had a house full here for Christmas and luckily got through it all without Covid. Travel was disrupted a bit for those flying from St Louis, but we were blessed. Had family in St. Louis that contracted Covid on Christmas Eve. Mild symptoms but sick none the less. All their plans-kaput…. You all look happy in the pictures and you’re right, it’s all about being together.
    It is disturbing that this has gone on for so long….. unnerving. Living here in Florida, a lot of my friends cruise often. Ships are half full and lots of testing being done before, during and after sailing… people test negative, board the ship and then test positive in a day or two… it’s so crazy. Praying that things settle down soon… until then… we carry on as best we can.
    Our little book club ( Happy Readers Book Club) read Mr. Dickens and His Carol for our December read. This is our Twitter book club that was spawned from this blog!! It’s really quite nice as we meet once a month via Twitter but catch up almost daily in between meetings. We have members in CA,Ohio, GA,FL, Canada, TN… lovely people. We all liked the book.. really charming and cleaver.
    Glad Joe is ok…and no one else is ill… plan for a Valentine’s Day hoopla!!❤️❤️ That’s what I’m doing! Blessings for all good things in ‘22
    Love, Cindy

    • sbranch says:

      I hear about your bookclub from Christie … I just love it that you’ve all stayed together. So far apart, and so rewarding. We are loving our Dickens book, going out soon for another walk and read! Happy 2022 Cindy! ❌⭕️

  67. Beth from Iowa says:

    Hi Susan!!
    So sorry to hear about your party plans being upended! We were able to have a small gathering at our home – put the request/subtle demand right in the invitation – be vaxxed – or don’t attend. We also tested the day of and fortunately both tested negative – would have had a bunch of party food if we’d had to cancel. Fortunately, the omicron variant hadn’t quite reached Iowa in early December. We currently are playing a bizarre game of “whack a mole”. Get a shot rush out and see people – go into hiding. Get a booster and go out and see people – go into hiding. Currently hiding out waiting for omicron to sweep through. Hope to probably? get a booster in the spring so we can run around for awhile?! At some point I know we’ll just have to decide what’s too important to miss and start to take more chances. WE CANNOT HIDE FOREVER! OK todays rant is over! Love you and Joe and Jack too. We’ll watch ALL the news of your upcoming cruise.🥳

  68. Ann Collins says:

    Oh that last photo of your house with the snow coming down was sooo beautiful. It looks like you made the best of a difficult situation when Joe tested positive. Happy New Year to you both.

  69. Jane says:

    Happy 2022! “The joy of the Lord is our strength!” I too am un-decorating my home. I was so blessed, all my kid got home for the holiday and the last one got home to Oregon yesterday. We had a wonderful time, we celebrated together and shared our news from the past 2 years. Was blessed to see my great Grandkids, my Grandkids and my kids what more would I want for Christmas? All my cherished Christmas decorations, some over 100 years old have been packed carefully away and I am looking forward to another 1000miles on my Trike! Rode it yesterday around the neighborhood and then brought it in to its trainer platform and I will ride all winter. Wishing you the best year ever I am blessed by your spirit.

  70. Ann Smith says:

    I am inspired by you more than you could imagine. I used to be a passionate writer but something changed and I just couldn’t write anymore. It was like the well ran dry. Of course it has been very depressing. In reading your writing I find myself wanting to think differently, to find that spark somehow and knowing it’s up to me to find the key to rekindling it. Thank you for such positivity that it would give me hope and a small spark on my way back to what I love.

    • sbranch says:

      I have a little key that might help . . . think back to the reasons you started writing. For love, because you had something to give, for sharing, for growth … ? Whatever they are, remember them and try to rekindle those feelings. If they aren’t there, maybe writing has set you free for another purpose. But if they are, you’ll find them. That’s for any project . . . very helpful little exercise for me! Thank you Ann, wishing you pure creativity in 2022. ❌⭕️

  71. Christine M says:

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year, Susan. Bear with me, I know this is a log entry =0 I went out early on this very windy, cold Ohio morning. I filled the bird feeders, ran my car for about 10 minutes (not driving right now; reason to follow) and walked for those 10 minutes. I had planned a big Thanksgiving Day dinner, however, I ended up in the hospital following a stress test and heart catheterization. I had severe blockages and they could not let me go home. (My turkey and other dinner additions are still in my freezer). I was in there for the week of Thanksgiving, had my surgery on Nov. 29th and was in the hospital for another week. With COVID I could only have one visitor designated (my younger daughter). I felt very alone. The nurses and other staff were working so very hard. There was a COVID unit 2 floors lateral from my floor. They all had to rotate there. They were so very understaffed, but they took very good care of me. The hospital was completely full, as were all the others in the city. I came home to start recovery before Christmas. I put my manger scene and some very small pine trees along with a small nutcracker and that was it for decoration. I spent Christmas morning with my kids, including my new son-in-law. I have spent every day in thanksgiving to God for sparing me from a heart attack or worse, being found without life by one of my family or out on the street. I had an excellent surgical team. Everyone has been wonderful, especially my kids and my sisters. So, the moral of my story is to be grateful for every day and for everyone. In spite of so much negativity being poured out in the media, people are basically good and willing to help. I still feel very isolated as I am being very cautious while recovering. The pandemic will end and when it does I hope that people will come to appreciate others, respect life and strive to be kind! Thanks for the blog entry. A nice distraction during my recovery from open heart surgery!

    • sbranch says:

      BEAUTIFUL, Christine!!! Thank you. Your whole comment is a New Year Blessing. We are so very lucky! Rose colored glasses and silver linings abound. ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  72. sharon taylor says:

    Dear Susan, Our family was so excited to be getting together for Christmas. Because our house is a little too small to accommodate all 16 of us we go to our daughters. My husband and I plan and do all the cooking for the Christmas meal. Well, first our youngest son and wife got a letter from their new babies swim class that someone had tested positive, so they thought it best to be on the safe sided and opted out of coming. Christmas day is his birthday and Ava the baby was six months old on the 25th. On the Thursday our neighbour and his cousin popped in to bring us some homemade Christmas cookies. He stayed for a good half hour chatting. Christmas morning I just happened to see him on his front porch and went out to wish him a merry Christmas. He told me that he tested positive that morning. Grrrrr. We decided to opt out of going to our daughters. But what to do with all the food. We packaged it up with instructions for finishing and delivered it to them. At least our oldest son and his family were able to go to our daughters and our second oldest son and his girlfriend spent it with us. Fortunately we are all fine. We did a zoom call so we could all see each other and open our secret Santa gifts.
    When you have lemons you make lemonade and do the best you can do. Now into 2022 with hopes and dreams of getting some normality back. Loved all your pictures and video of Jack catching and retrieving . Thanks for another uplifting blog. Cheers to you, Joe and Jack. Sincerely, Sharon

  73. Karen Wills says:

    I am so glad you are all ok, and that the “positive” covid test was false. Your blog posts are so full of beauty and kindness and positivity, but especially this one. Thank-you, always, for that.
    I wish you a Happy New Year, and can’t wait for the new book.

  74. Jenelle says:

    Happy New Year to you! Thank you for your wonderful blog and books! I made your Christmas Coffee Cake for a small group on Christmas Eve. We have a tradition of singing The 12 Days of Christmas, so I added pears (and a partridge in a pear tree!). Our friends loved it and asked for the recipe, so I forwarded them your link. Cheers to you and yours for a happy and healthy 2022 and many more! I look forward to reading your next book.

  75. Pat H says:

    Oh Susan, so sorry your Christmas plans didn’t go as planned. So happy you had a good ending. Last year, I tested positive for Covid on Dec 23rd. We were supposed to have a family trip the day after Christmas. My daughter-in-love had planned a surprise trip for our son to all meet in Nashville. He lives in SC and we live in IL. Unfortunately, my husband and I could not go. Our daughter and her family were able to meet them and had a wonderful time. I can relate to your disappointment. At least both stories had a somewhat happy ending. Happy New Year to you and Joe and Jack!

  76. Mary/Indiana says:

    God’s Blessings to you and Joe in 2022
    Love your Walk pictures….stay warm.
    Where I live in southern Indiana, we have
    yet to see any Snow….but when we do,
    it’s bound to be a Whooper🥶❄️☃️

  77. Barb Walsh says:

    It’s terrible when the test comes back positive. You hope it’s nothing but worry it is something. Glad Joe is fine and you got to have Christmas but just a little differently than you wanted. I love your blog.

    Happy 2022 to you and all of our Susan Branch friends.

  78. Peg Ackerman says:

    I was thinking that very thing…a false positive. Cancelling your celebration was the brave and right thing to do! I keep hoping we will turn the corner on this pandemic sooner rather than later. I never thought we would be so limited for so long…puts a whole new spin on the term cabin fever!!! We are all looking forward to your new book. I think that will help us re-center our souls. It can’t come too soon! Happy 2022, dear Sue…Joe, too. xoxo peg

  79. Amy says:

    Happy New Year!

  80. Lori says:

    Happy 2022 New Years Blessings to you and JOeY and Jackie Boy! So much to be thankful and grateful for in this time of Covid! I put sweet pink carnations sheets on my bed and pulled out my Susan Branch pink and white Hot Chocolate pj’s and hung your little Valentine garland on my hutch. And got a little fluffy Corgi puppy. ❤️🎉🎊 XOXO 💋 Never too early to start celebrating Valentine’s Day. I’ll be armchair traveling with you to England!! I can’t wait!!

  81. Dear Dearies,

    So glad the tests turned negative for Joe and that you were able to spend time with Siobhan in the end. We had a quiet Christmas here. All healthy. Thank goodness! We got to do some baking after Christmas with my nephew, who is in Navy pilot training in Pensacola. He is an astronautical engineer so we made a gingerbread International Space Station. Hilarious! This is what matters to us- small moments of connection and blessings.
    We saw family in small bits, here and there and limited our going out and about.(We are all vax’d and boosted and were not sick) If it’s what we have to do to keep the world safe, we will do it!
    Wishing you the Happiest of New Years! God bless us in 2022- each and every one! Health, Joy, Comfort and Connection!!!

  82. Sharon Byars says:

    Susan, You brightened my day with this New Year’s post! Sadly, we must all be in for disappointments as in your celebration. But, my favorite saying is “This too shall pass”. Our Covid drama hit after Christmas just before New Year’s Eve when our grandson (8) got sick. Now, about 1/2 of the family is positive. We are looking forward to traveling to Europe again one day soon. Best wishes going forward with your plans!

  83. Laura Sias-Lee says:

    What a lovely way to begin the 12th Day of Christmas! Just as I was feeling down about the end of the season – there was the Willard! A cuppa, fire and cozy read was just what I needed.
    I am depressed that this will be the first year in a long time that a Susan Branch calendar won’t be gracing my office wall. Everyone is out – including Amazon – sigh🥲

    Thank you for continuing to kindle our hopes and dreams 💕

  84. Mamey Brown says:

    I was THRILLED to see a new post today! THANK YOU for always brightening up my day. I just started re-reading Isle of Dreams the other day. It’s even better the 2nd time! I can’t wait for your next book to come out. Sorry to hear of your plans but thankfully Joe didn’t get sick. I think you were right, God is saying, just not yet….Happy New Year!

  85. Carol Snow says:

    Jack’s sweet voice from the video made my day! Thanks for sharing it. ☺️ Happy New Year to all.

  86. Marsha Sega says:

    Susan, Enjoyed reading Willard sitting here at the gate waiting for a flight, first leg of our trip home. Sorry for your Christmas disappointment. We had a wonderful holiday visit with our 2 kids and 3 grandkids. Thankfully all except for 6 month pare fully vaccinated. We feel so blessed to be able to come this year after not seeing them last Christmas. Leaving in rain here in Portland, OR and heading home to snow predicted for tomorrow in East TN. Stay safe and stay warm. So looking forward to your new book. Happy New Year.

  87. Emily says:

    I am going to update my Christmas Memories book today while drinking Christmas Tea–that sounds so cozy doesn’t it? 🙂 We had a quiet, but good Christmas. My niece is going to be born this week and we CANNOT WAIT for her to arrive! 🙂

  88. BLo from Sandy Eggo, CA says:

    I couldn’t wait for you to find the link to your next event, so I found it on my own! https://carylibrary.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/lets-get-cozy-with-susan-branch/

  89. Rosemary from North of Boston says:

    Oh dear Susan, so many friends have had Really Rotten Covid holidays. Our Christmas was also affected. One son and daughter in law were already here, the other son/daughter in law on their way from ME on Christmas Eve, when one “indeterminate” test changed everything. Those already here donned masks, the ME son and wife couldn’t risk coming into the house, so they dropped presents on our front porch and picked up presents we’d put in a container to take back to ME where they live, and we waved to each other from behind glass door barriers. Christmas Eve dinner was eaten in separate rooms. We took tests again on Christmas Day, with all parties negative, so at least those here could take off masks and we could open presents and eat together. And we did see our other son and daughter on New Year’s Day. But the good news is, No One Is Sick–at least so far. So very glad Joe turned out negative, glad you could make a good thing out of a difficult time–as we all are learning to do, and very glad that you and yours are fending off stupid covid. Thank you for all your work, your thoughts and art and pictures and fun with Jack. I am looking forward to your new book, think I’ll be needing a bunch of the quotes to get me through these days. Please stay healthy, know you are important to many, Many girlfriends. I’ll keep you in my nightly “chats” with the Big Fellah Upstairs. All the best, Rosemary

    • sbranch says:

      All such a worry!!! You did it right though, took care of your loved ones and yourself ~ and your hospital, I might add, and those poor overworked healthcare workers! Better times coming! Thank you Rosemary!🙏

  90. Mrs. Mary Overkamp says:

    MerryChristmas, and Happy 2022; hopefully. We were all well and able to spend Xmas together with part of our grandchildren and daughters and husbands. So very welcoming to us elderly parents, and grandparents, that have to isolate so much. Whenever your blog appears, I am a very happy camper. Just like reading your books! Heaven to this elderly woman. Ames my day. I have to read several times it is so heartwarming. So look forward to your trip to England. Will be like riding along with you and your beloved. Stay well and get working on another blog. Looking forward to it. 2022 Blessings! Mary O.

  91. Ruth Mamo says:

    Happy New Year, Susan and Joe! I love reading your blogs and Willard…they joy me from the inside out. You are such a special, special person. I’ve been reading your blogs for years and have read all your books and have some of your cookbooks…and I love, love, love your watercolors. I started watercolors a few years ago. Addicted to say the least… Your work has been such an inspiration to me. I love reading about you and Joe. My, Joe, passed over 13 years ago and I miss him every moment of every day. But, painting helps, family, friends, walking, reading…tea. Wishing you light, love and peace for this new year. Softly, softly yours, Ruth

  92. Lee says:

    Dearest Susan,

    You are such a breath of fresh air and sunshine! And Jack, well let’s just say I have a serious case of kitty envy. 2021 was a tough year and I’m glad to give it the boot, and equally grateful to be here to do so. I get excited when I see a Willard in my inbox! This was one of the best. Thank you for sharing your personal stories, both good and bad. It paints a truer picture. It’s dangerous for people to think that others don’t suffer from bad times as well. It makes them feel isolated and alone. You always share it all😉 and yet you always leave me feeling cheerful and hopeful and who doesn’t need that these days!

    • sbranch says:

      We’ll get through it better and come out stronger if we get through it together! No one is exempt from this ridiculous situation … but we do have each other! Never have we needed each other more. ♥️ All fingers and toes crossed for a calm, quiet, introspective, laugh-filled 2022.

  93. Gene B says:

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas with all of us. Love your precious tree ornaments, and the videos of Jack. smile Closing with the “snow fall” at your home was the perfect ending to a happy read.

    Wishing you and Joe many, many smiles and lots of happiness in the New Year!
    Genie

  94. Nicole says:

    The hair elastic behind the door tickled me!

    The egg cup is so very pretty.

    I start every year filling in my Susan Branch calendars. I buy them as soon as they are available but don’t look at them until I work on them. Such a delight to read them and enjoy the artwork as I fill in each month.

  95. Care Woodard says:

    Our Dad, Carlos G Benavides MD crossed over on Christmas morning. Through our tears, we laughed because he has always has been tight with The Big Guy and now seems to have arranged Christmas day for his passage AND gave us a white Christmas! Miracles all over the place. I asked Dad for a white Christmas on Dec 23. He’s amazing. My mom has also been amazing all these months since his stroke,,,, she just keeps saying, “One day at a time, Sometimes one moment at a time,” Keep her in your prayers. After being together, 13 of us got covid sx and tested positive. The whole time I was sick, I just felt SO SO thankful that this didn’t happen during his last days with us on Earth. Blessings to all. Love is the only thing that matters.

  96. Debby Rickett says:

    Hi Susan!
    Thank you for the update on everything! So glad you & Joe are healthy. Merry Merry New Year 🙂
    I cannot wait for your quote book…. I think we need it more than ever these days to stay encouraged and positive. I was unable to join the zoom meeting in December, but was DELIGHTED to see the link on this post and actually got to watch it on my lunch break. What fun! Zoom is a good thing!
    As always, I get butterflies when I see a new post. Thank you, darling Sue!
    Love and hugs,
    Debby

  97. Dayna in OC says:

    Happy New Year Susan, Joe, Jack & all the girlfriends! Oh how sorry I am that you had to miss that Christmas dinner. Ugh! But glad it was a false alarm. Sounds & looks like you still were able to have wonderful, memory making moments with good friends. Love the pictures of your beautiful home in the snow & your room with the sparkling tree, so festive! Thank you so much for sharing with us. Looking forward to the new book!

  98. Marilyn L Young says:

    Happy Christmas and New Years to both of you. We met at my daughters and I enjoyed Christmas with kids, Grands and Greats. I was the only triple boosted out of a family of 45 spread out in CA, ID, KS, OH and TN and while some couldn’t come, I totally enjoyed those that could.This is my attitude, Im old and I’m going to see and break bread with my family because I can. If God determines its my time, I’ll go with joy in my heart and peace in my soul. Im still covid free and happy at home, so no problem. Ive had a wonderful full life with many blessings hope 2022 is good to all of us. Happy to learn you have a new book coming out for me to buy!

  99. Dianne says:

    Susan, I just wanted to thank you for an especially sweet Christmas blessing this year. My son got me your Christmas book and as I read it, it reminded me so much of my childhood Christmas celebrations (I am the oldest of six). I lent the book to my mom and she said it brought her right back to the Christmases with her many siblings. So you inspired happy memories of Christmas past to this 64 year old and her 86 year old mother. My sister now has the book. Let’s see if it has the same effect on her!

    • sbranch says:

      I got a call from my brother ~ he wanted to tell me he read it and loved it, and that he thought I got the memories just right … that’s the official family seal of approval!👏💖

  100. Marybeth Rogers says:

    Yes, a work of art. I too, sit down and enjoy.
    Thank you!
    Happy New Year to you and Joe and Jack and your staff. Marybeth

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