Well, it isn’t quite April, but almost! Right now everything seems to be almost: Pandemic is almost over, Ukraine has almost won, the tulips are almost up, it’s almost time to go to England, and my new book is almost here, it’s almost April, almost my birthday, and my sisters are almost here! The only thing not almost, is this Willard! MUSICA

So here begins the painting of the cover of my new book. I had an idea of how I wanted it to look, but at this point, I’m thinking, I hope I’m going to like it … but I had a ways to go. . .

And here I’m beginning to love it because of the moon in the middle ~ but I’m nervous to do the border I have in mind, because I might ruin the whole thing . . .

I wanted to paint the sky over the Atlantic we see when we’re on a ship, a huge profound ice-cold, blue-black starry sky that says “infinity” . . . and now I’m happy because it looks like I remember it.💖 If I’ve done the best I can, “good enough” is my middle name. Am I done? Not yet, I think …. it needs a little something more . . . a little more magic . . . And I have to change the line above my name… the correct word is quotations, not quotes . . . 

And there it is! Voila! The finished cover from. . .And today is the day Distilled Genius goes up for presale . . . you can order your copy HERE . . . They are due in to the Studio at the end of June … they will be printed in the USA, with a hard cover, and a ribbon bookmark, so they SHOULD be on time! I hope we’ll have enough to last through Christmas because, due to EVERYTHING that’s going on in the world, we’ve been told we won’t be able to get another printing until 2023 ~ I just never know for sure how many to get. But if Distilled Genius is something you really want, please try to put your name on it now!❤️What a labor of love writing this book has been! My days have been spent with the geniuses of the world. Can’t ask for more than that! I almost didn’t notice it was March! And now, poof! It’s almost April!🌸

I thought you’d like to see a few pages so you have an idea of what you will get . . . this one is from the chapter called The Secrets of Life.✍️

This is from the chapter on Happiness . . . As Lewis Carroll wrote, “What use is a book without pictures?” Luckily we don’t have to worry about that!

Page 234 is in the chapter called Breaking Up ~

and this one is in “Women” … we also have Chapters for Love, Creativity, Diaries, Writing & Writers, Courage, and Fairy Tales to name a few.

At the end of each chapter there are blank pages, so you can include your favorite quotes!💞

And the next bit of exciting information is


I will get to say Rabbit-Rabbit and celebrate spring with 1000 of you in person!👏

. . . that is if you click HERE to sign up to join a Webinar with me and Hayley Solano and her Enchanted Book Club ~ grab a cup of tea or coffee… (or gin if you’re in England!) And join us at 3 pm my time, 2 pm in Chicago, 1 pm in Denver, noon in California, and 8pm in England! This Saturday, April 2! Check the time in your area to make sure. It’s free, sign up and you’ll automatically be sent a link to join … We’ll take questions and talk about creativity and the new book and spring and any questions you might have about the trip to England and all kinds of girl talk! ♥️

Most of the time, I think all I do is work … but I forget! The best part of doing a blog is looking back at my photos and realizing how much fun I’ve been having. After painting and writing in the early hours, our morning walk in the fresh cold air is so beautiful with the sun shining through the trees, almost an out-of-body experience. The outdoors is not one bit like the indoors … two very separate things . . . We’re still bundling up in sweaters and jackets, hats, gloves, scarves . . .

We each put an AirPod in our ear, and turn on our book of the moment on my phone via Audible . . . and off we go, through the woods to the sea! We could NOT love it more. We just finished The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, and NOW, we’re “reading” Brideshead Revisited, an old classic about English society in 1923  … written by Evelyn Waugh. I somehow missed both the series and the movie … but being an Anglophile, I could NOT love this more! It was first published in 1945, during the war, and the writing is amazing ~ I would almost go so far to say awesome! Memories of times gone by, a step back in time in story and language, and for frosting on the cake, it’s read by Jeremy Irons, who acts it rather than reads it. You’ll love it if you haven’t read it! Even the parts that puzzle me are okay because his writing is so eloquent and engaging.

And at the end of the dirt road, is this . . . before we turn around and retrace our steps to home, we stop and breathe and count our blessings and say a prayer for the world, especially for Ukraine (⬅️ click there for charities), we grieve for the brave moms and dads who we just KNOW are going to win this thing! Like most of us the world over, I’ve fallen totally in love with these people fighting for freedom for all of us  … I don’t think many of us do well understanding such cruelty.🇺🇦 But the outpouring of help from the world is certainly making a difference.

We are lucky it’s peaceful here on our little island where the daffodils have begun blooming and where the earth is turning green again . . . and we cleaned the house!

We had to. First off, it’s spring, time to bring in more light and cheer … and secondly, we had to clean up because our dear friend wrote a book about his immigrant grandparents called Blood Pudding … and we invited 60 people to a book party which we had last Sunday! We dusted and vacuumed and moved furniture around . . .

We turned the dining room into a reading room ~ and filled the house with flowers, opened the windows, turned up the heat, lit a fire, brewed four kinds of tea, made cucumber sandwiches and two tea cakes, and had a lovely Sunday afternoon celebrating with our friends!

And when they all went home we had leftover cake and a clean house! How perfect is that? 💖

Extra good because my two youngest sisters, Mary and Shelly are coming to stay with us next week to help celebrate my 75TH BIRTHDAY!🥳 I’m so excited! And then it’s Easter, and then we GET ON THE QUEEN MARY 2, May One, and hit the high seas! And we’ll get to hug under that black starry sky for real! With lots of you! It’s definitely a red letter month and it hasn’t even started yet! If any of you sailors want to bring books to the ship for me to sign, I’ll be happy to do that! That face is a bit of now I feel ⬆️, I’m always afraid to go away, afraid I’ll never see Jack again 🙀, but NOTHING WILL STOP ME.🔪 I just have to step over the fear … so that’s that about that!✌️We’ll be getting another booster FYI, just for extra safety on board, our plan is to have fun and not get sick!👍

We can’t take Jack, but we’ll take his best friend, Petey. Petey rides for free. And so will all of you armchair travelers! We won’t forget you!💞

What else . . . oh yeah . . .

It’s  almost April Fool’s Day, you will need to be ready! This is a gummy worm and that is the shower drain. Need I say more? Even though I’ve done it before, Joe NEVER expects it! Oh the power!😂

Also, Kellee reprinted some notecards for you . . . cheery notes for spring, two styles in each package of 10… you can see they are pretty on all sides! Find them HERE.

Don’t forget to treat yourself . . . 

From our kitchen window we see that apple slices are a big hit . . 

A frozen ear of corn, very popular!

Dishwasher went on the blink, Joe had to get on the floor to see what was going on under there ~ he fixed it! And I got a great shot if I do say so myself! I always say a man fixing things around the house is a pure aphrodisiac!💞

One of my girlfriends turned 71 a couple of weeks ago … we found the perfect candle for her … I made the cake for her party, where we did our girlfriend tradition of putting our rings around her candles … we made a wish along with her,  when she blew them out, all our wishes came true.💫 It’s magic! I’ll need to make one for me! And now, must go … leaving you with one of my favorite quotations …❤️❤️❤️❤️

See you Saturday! P.S. I have a nephew named Jesse who’s in his twenties & teaches art in China! He is Holly’s brother and my sister Mary’s son … Mary just sent me this picture he painted on an outside wall of a building in China, on behalf of Ukraine! Makes me so happy! That’s my boy!💖 What a small world we actually do live in!💞

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411 Responses to Almost!

  1. Robin says:

    Always so blessed to find ‘Willard’ in with so many emails that will be oops —
    deleted! LOL! Happy 75th Birthday! Safe travels! No worries – Jack will be

  2. Jo'L says:

    Why am I getting this “Willard” and the regular newsletter too?

    • sbranch says:

      Because you signed up for Willard, and you signed up for the newsletter, and they have been combined! You can delete one of them, and you’ll still get the other! xoxo

  3. Anne E Rice-Sosne says:

    You are so very wonderful! I have all of your books and adore them. Can’t wait tally two “NEW” books arrive. And, I knew exactly what you meant about Ukraine. Precisely!

  4. Sandra Walton says:

    Thank you Susan ..a great catch up ..the book sounds amazing can’t wait to order copies for gifts ..I wonder if it will be on Amazon if not I will get my family in the states to order for me…
    Isn’t spring wonderful my garden is full of daffodils and the camellia is out too..such a time of hope and joy.
    Bless you for finding the time to write and just be there for us

    Easter blessings
    Sandra walton..from Bournville uk

    • sbranch says:

      It will be on Amazon uk, probably in July! We only have daffodils so far, but everything else is on the way! Happy Spring… we’ll be over soon!

  5. Susan,
    You can’t imagine how much pure joy, hope and happiness you bring to so many people with your posts. For me, it’s like opening a a beautiful jewelry box when you don’t know what’s inside. Every time I hit “continue reading”!
    Much love and even more appreciation,

    • sbranch says:

      What a beautiful thing to say Michele! Thank you!❌⭕️❌⭕️

      • I totally agree with Michele, you probably just can’t begin to understand the joy you bring to other people , I love all your books & love rereading them, I know you went through a lot of pain but your book Isle of dreams sounds like fun finding yourself & all you went through, I know it wasn’t really fun but what adventure…
        I’ve always wanted to live in New England , but here I am like you were in sunny california!
        I did have the great pleasure of meeting you in 2013 in a book store in Pasadena Ca and you signed several of my books , they are even more special now …a very Happy Birthday to you & have a wonderful time in England, it’s such a beautiful country.. especially enjoy your time in the ship … can’t wait to hear all about it & can’t wait to read your new book, all the quotes are wonderful & so inspiring…. You are an angel sent to spread joy to all of us that love you !! Be safe on your trip !!
        One if your biggest fans, Shelley Upegui 👍🏻😊🌻🐱

  6. Deb says:

    Ukraine has almost won???! My God how I wish that were true. Here on the European continent we’re seeing and hearing equal parts courage and resistance alongside unspeakable suffering, destruction, and loss on the part of the Ukrainian people. I just wish the UK government would expedite the process of refugee sponsorship instead of leaving us in a quagmire of confusion and obstruction. There is a long, long way to go, I fear.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so proud of them, I could strangle Putin with my bare hands. I don’t know who he thinks he is. Horrible excuse for a human being. Yes, a long way to go, but how good it is that the world is watching, and helping. 💔

  7. Debbie says:

    I share your optimism for Ukraine. They have determination, bravery, and support from around the world; so many hopes and prayers.
    And something else. I love reading your blogs, but this one was especially joyful: a beautiful project completed (I’ve ordered 2 😊), a milestone birthday, a fantastic trip just moments away really, comaraderies near & far, so many blooms and blossoms …
    And when you think of where we all were two years ago, hoping things will soon be well. And where we are now.
    I’m optimistic. Thanks for supporting hope and spreading joy. Happiest Birthday (yet) 😘

    • sbranch says:

      Have to be optimistic because the alternative seriously does not work!🤣 Thank you Debbie!♥️

  8. Siobhan in Santa Monica says:

    How lucky I opened Willard just moments after the zoom started and got to attend! What a delightful way to spend Saturday here. I so wish I could go to England this summer but can’t wait to hear your tales and then devour whatever book comes from your inspiration. Many happy returns on your birthday! And thank you for the wonderful zoom today. Can’t wait for my bookie wookies to arrive later this summer! 😁

  9. Karen Werth says:

    Dear Susan, I just finished watching your webinar which I so enjoyed. Looking forward to your book arriving this summer. I’ve been collecting quotes in journal for years as I’m sure several of your readers have also been doing so your book will be a welcomed addition to my library. While out on one of my walks recently I stopped to read the saying on a garden stone in someone’s yard “Only my garden knows the secrets of my soul”. Isn’t that lovely? I have Googled it to fine the author with no luck. Perhaps one of your readers will know. Thank you for all you do to touch our souls. Karen

  10. Susie Durrschmidt (LI, NY's beautiful north shore) says:

    It is a Red Letter Day for sure after finding your Willard! I tuned in too late and missed out on the video get together. Will it be posted? Oh my goodness, I loved the picture of Jack. A real heart throb that lil fur baby is. You are going to have an action packed joyous month. Get ready to blow out those candles! Hugs to you. I am so excited about your new book. Off to sign up!

  11. Laura Brown says:

    Hi again Susan!
    Have been collecting little vases and glass jars, adding touches of spring with flowers on my window sills. When do you start planting your garden on the Vineyard. Since we’ve lived in NC we’ve been encouraging not to plant before May 15th. Do you plant sooner or start in pots indoors? Or will you plant this year with the big trip to England?

    • sbranch says:

      I even wait until June 1… if I can. Because wicked winds come and tatter everything when I go earlier, but usually can’t help myself, take my chances, and go by May 15! We have lots of perennials so our garden will have to take care of itself until we get home! Flowers on the window sills are such hopeful things as spring slowly makes it way into actual being! ❌⭕️

  12. Sara Hayden says:

    Happy birthday and bon voyage! But if you take Petey, who will keep Jack company? xoxo

  13. Amy Dray says:

    Hope you have just a wonderful birthday Susan!!I loved your zoom meeting and hearing all about your new book!!I preordered mine!!God bless you!!♥️😘

  14. Becky Clark says:

    Happy Birthday Susan, wishing many blessings for your next year. Thank you for all your wonderful books, art, pictures, everything you share with us. Love, Becky.

  15. Helen Nitschke says:

    Love the cover of your new book – it’s beautiful. I’m ordering it for sure & will look very forward to receiving it! Wishing you a very happy, blessed 75th birthday & safe travels on your upcoming trip!

  16. Karen Hellier says:

    First, that is an amazing mural and you have every right to be proud of him!

    Second, I am so excited for you that you and all of your girlfriends (and Joe of course) will be heading off on your cruise to England soon. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go with you, but my husband and I will be sailing off on our own cruise 1 week from today on the Enchanted Princess. We will be looking at that same starry sky you will soon see, and going on a 14-day transatlantic cruise with plenty of days at sea to read and relax, and stops in the Azores, France, and Denmark. But I am anxiously awaiting all of the stories from your cruise, which will be starting just after we get back. Isn’t cruising wonderful?!

    And Third, I hope you have the happiest of birthdays and enjoy your visit with your sisters.

    I am so glad I found your blog. It always makes me so happy to read it!

    • sbranch says:

      Well, you can’t be sad about THAT … what a wonderful trip!!! Bon Voyage Karen! Have a wonderful time! 💖

  17. Kay Amhaus says:

    Oh, my gosh I wish I had your optimism…about the war in Ukraine and the pandemic. I was just texting this morning with a former student worker of mine, nursing major currently studying abroad in Great Britain, who says numbers are going up severely there. Fortunately she’s in a maternity ward so not dealing with covid patients. I do admire your do or die courage though regarding traveling. And I always look forward to your monthly post. Kay

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I hear that too. But we won’t be there for a month still, and you know how much things can change. I want that thing to GO AWAY!!! I think I’m not alone in that wish! 🙏 ♥️♥️♥️

  18. This is all so marvelous! I pre-ordered 4 copies. One for me, for my classroom, my mom, and a friend. Thank you!
    The painting of the red-headed girl with the paper airplane is now my FAVORITE human you have painted. Everything from the details on the plane, her flowing, fiery locks, her dress, her limbs, it’s all so beautifully painted. I can feel her moving!
    Your younger self would be so proud of how you have developed as an artist over the years.
    I look forward to being a stow-a-way on board the ship as I cannot take time off of school, but I turn 50 in a few years and might consider going on a similar adventure-you are so inspiring!
    Thank you again for all that you do for all of us, and please pass on to your nephew that I admire not only his artistic style but his bravery!
    So much love and respect to you.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy it will be in a classroom. I just think it would help kids so much … taking some of these brilliant words to heart, but also being introduced to the heroes of the world. My younger self would be SHOCKED!🤣 She had NO idea she could paint.🤭 Thank you so much Susan, I’ll tell my nephew your sweet words. He’s my kinda kid, and I think, yours too!❤️

  19. Laurie Nico’s Mom says:

    Happy spring, Susan! And happy birthday, too! 🧁 I have a milestone birthday coming up as well, later this month. I will be 60. I can’t believe it! Where’d all the time go? I first found your books in my mid twenties & have been hooked ever since.
    Love Jack’s photos. Just before Christmas we invited in a stray kitty that has won our hearts, despite both being allergic to cats. She is a sweet little tortoiseshell that never ceases to amuse us. We still have Gary, our one remaining bunny after having seven for a few years.
    Hugs to all & have a fabulous birthday! 🍰

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Almost birthday Laurie! I heard somewhere that there is something you can put in your kitty’s food that does something to what ever it is that makes you allergic to them! Ask your vet or Google and see what you think! Lucky kitty!❌⭕️❌⭕️

      • Laurie Nico’s Mom says:

        Very interesting! We’ll look into it. I’m already on meds due to other allergies but that could help my hubby. Thanks.

  20. Patti from Pleasanton, CA says:

    From one native California Girl to another, here’s to a Splendiferous Birthday & a Blessed year ahead!! I turned 75 last October and, like you, I’m still going strong. With the new book coming out and the cruise back to England, you’re in for many wonderful memory making moments! Safe travels & may each day bring laughter and fun as you live out your life to the fullest!
    I also ordered Distilled Genius and I am looking forward to using these great quotes in cards and notes to friends and family!
    Thanks for being a friend!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you right back! Pleasanton must feel a bit sadder with the loss of John Madden. He must have been a pretty strong character in your area.❤️ And yes, and I’m sure John would agree, going strong is the secret! Happy Spring Patti!🌷🌷🌷

      • Patti from Pleasanton, CA says:

        Yes, John was awesome. My girls went to school from 2nd grade on with his boys and they are still great friends to this day. John was very down to earth and friendly to all, welcoming conversations with whomever approached him.
        I loved reading about your encounter with him and was smiling all the time and thinking… yep, that’s the John we know.

  21. Laurie Liles says:

    Susan, loved the zoom call yesterday, so fun to see how you compile all the quotes in those magnificent notebooks. What a task that is, but so worthwhile. Your new book looks wonderful. I have a question on the talk you mentioned in the February Willard, the talk on the Magic of a Handwritten Letter, that you will give on your upcoming trip. Wondering if those of us not on the trip can have access to that talk at some point. I have been letter writing with my ten year old granddaughter over the past several months and it is such a fun experience. She is a wonderful letter writer at ten, amazing, and we love keeping in touch the old fashioned way. I will save all of these wonderful letters that she sends, and give them to her at some much later date. So I am completely in agreement with you on how letter writing can be magical. Thank you so much for all your books and wonderful art, such a pleasure to keep up with you, and so looking forward to hearing about your trip to the UK.

    • sbranch says:

      How fun, you and your letters, what a time capsule you’re putting together for her! She will love them later … my mom saved a few of mine that I sent to my Grandma! I THINK they will record the talk, but I’m not sure. I wrote it down to ask Joe and I’ll put the answer on my next blog post.💖💖💖

  22. JoAnn from SoCal says:

    Many, many thanks for your beautiful Willard each month. So looking forward to being an armchair traveler on your upcoming journey/adventure!!

  23. Fiona in New South Wales says:

    My comment seems to have disappeared, too.

    I wanted to say how wonderful it is to read about your joy coming into Spring. We are in the middle of a very, very wet Autumn, and the picture of a dry dirt road made my heart sing.

    • sbranch says:

      No Fiona, it’s here, it was me that disappeared! I like to read the comments so they don’t go through until I do. Been busy, but got my project done yesterday, today I get to READ! Thank you for hanging on! 🌸🌸🌸

  24. Brenda says:

    That painted night sky is beautiful. I think night skies & ocean waves are the most difficult things to paint.

  25. Mary Alice Bowers says:

    I absolutely devour this blog each month! Sure wish I lived closer so that I could meet you sometime. I think we would be kindred spirits – I often resonate with your perspective and your determination to find magic in everyday living. Blessings to you

  26. Happy Almost Birthday, Susan! So excited about your new book. Have a wonderful trip. Thank you for sending your sunshine out into our world!
    xoxo Mary

  27. Lillian Olmstead says:

    Just wondering why my comment posted March 30 is posted along with the consideration message, seems strange.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s just me . . . I have been working on a surprise for everyone going on the ship, HAD to have it done by yesterday! So everything is in moderation, waiting for me to read and say HELLO! 🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷

  28. Morgan Kelly says:

    Sending love from Aotearoa New Zealand! xx

  29. Karen Carpenter says:

    Dear Susan

    Thanks for all the cheer, ordered your book and wish I was going to England with you. Alas I cannot, can’t believe what number we are going to be. I have a hard time saying it, you on the other hand have already embraced it. I will, its just …….oh well it’s better than the alternative. No flowers here yet but that is not unusual for Michigan, and it is home sweet home. Have a wonderful celebration on your birthday! I plan to do the same.

    Karen from Michigan

    • sbranch says:

      Remember you are on the inside looking out and NOTHING has changed! 🥳 Stay healthy Karen! Happy Birthday!❌⭕️❌

  30. Maryann Harvey says:

    Always a joy to get your email. Hope you and Joe have the best cruise ever!xo

  31. Dayna says:

    Happy, happy birthday Susan! What a couple months of celebrations you have & so well deserved. Enjoy every moment! The new book looks wonderful, I’ve preordered & can’t wait to get it. Wish I was going to England with you & the girlfriends but I will be there in spirit & hanging on every tweet. I know you all will have a marvelous time. Your nephews artwork is wonderful & our hearts are with Ukraine.🌻🙏 Thank you for the links to help. 💛💙

    • Dayna says:

      p.s. Oh how I wish you would reorder the champagne hearts mug. ❤️❤️❤️ Darling husband broke mine 😔

      • sbranch says:

        I will keep that in mind Dayna!! I’m sorry, he’s sorry too!!! xoxoxo

      • Carrie Weidert says:

        Hi Dayna,

        I have several extra. I would be happy to ship you two of the cups. Let me know and we can work out the details. Carrie

        • sbranch says:

          You SWEETHEART! (As usual!)♥️

        • Dayna says:

          Gasp! Carrie, that is amazing! This really is the most wonderful group of friends. Is my email visible to Sue? If so, she could send it to you & you could email me. Thank you ❤️

    • sbranch says:


  32. Care Woodard says:

    I have just ordered your quote book!!! CONGRATULATONS!! What a feeling! I am SO excited for it to arrive. The cover is stunning. Last weekend, I laid down on our ski mountain walking home from dinner at our friend’s home …..The stars!!! WOW WOW WOW. You have a wonderful birthday and I can’t believe the trip to England is so close …..I hope you sail with girlfriends again!! I told Linc it was a dream of mine and he said We’ll make it happen next time!!!!! Can’t wait to arm chair travel in the mean time and bring a little english heaven to home with flowers, books, and tea.

    • sbranch says:

      A blessing when you get a good night full of stars! Not as easy as it used to be ~ magical! I’m thrilled, “making it happen” … that’s all it takes! 👏👏👏❤️

  33. Lynn c Maust says:

    A ways to go?

    No, it is not grammatically correct – “a” is specifically singular, while “ways” is specifically plural. (Of course, being grammatically incorrect does not prevent it being in common usage.)Dec 6, 2011

    Just thought you might want to know…

  34. Rose says:

    I’m in hospital after serious surgery and reading your blog just helped me through my day. I loved hearing about your art since I am an artist. Also with this surgery I am missing a trip to England Scotland and Wales. Broken heart. I will enjoy your trip with you since as a child have been an Anglophile. Many trips to England. Enjoy and be safe! Rose

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, Rose, but happy you are on the other side of the surgery!!! Get back to your old self soon, sending love!

  35. Carolyn Wilson says:

    Susan, Have a wonderful birthday – you’re not getting older – simply Better!
    Have ordered my copy of Distilled Genius. Thank you for the preview. It is absolutely lovely and magical. Each page is a loving work of art. Your quotes, your unique handwriting styles – as much as the artwork – are just perfect. So encouraging and uplifting – as is all your writing. You are, indeed, a blessing to all of us fans. Your new book heads up my summer reading list and then I’m rereading your trilogy. What excitement I’m building for my trip to England in October! I’m with you all in spirit on your adventures as I dream and plan for my own. God bless you all with safe travels and to keep every home safe and sound. We recently, sadly, lost our beloved 18 year old cat Fizzgee. Her little kidneys shut down and it was time to allow her to go peacefully.. She lives forever in our hearts! We pray for world peace – particularly for the Ukraine. Your links to their charities are much appreciated. May our hearts be united with theirs in hope and peace. I just got my second booster – I’m so glad. I’m sure Bonnie can get hers before our trip. My traveling mascot is a toy palace guard that I got on my first trip to England in 1955. I’m certain that he and Petey are kindred spirits! Thank you for sharing your nephew, Jesse’s artwork. It is very inspirational.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry about Fizzgee! I’m sure she lives forever, I still have all mine in my heart too. Such DEARS! The dearest of the dear, our little petty pets. Love hearing from you Carolyn… so much happy planning to do for the future. XOXOXO

  36. Michelle Alexander says:

    Happy Birthday and can’t wait to get your new book, Congratulations!! Missed the zoom maybe next time. Enjoy your trip, can’t wait to hear all about it!!
    Is your book going to be available at B&N or Amazon? Thanks again!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes it will, if we have enough!

      • Michelle Alexander says:

        Thank you, I hope there will be some left. I only use American Express for online shipping and it wouldn’t take on your site.
        Thanks again!

  37. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    My motto is “Do it ’til you’re proud” (saw it in a Dove wrapper). Seeing the samples from your book, I’d say that you’re there. Amazing work – amazing talent. You inspire us.

  38. Debbie Boerger says:

    I can hear the laughter and singing all the way down here in Tampa. Were Shelly and Mary blinded by the light reflecting off your “teefies”?
    We have a regular Boerger Siblings and spouses Zoom at 4 today. Lots of Laughing!!! We’re so thankful they are all still this side of the dirt, as some say. Our Mary is 84, still walking miles every day, and her husband is 85. There are 3 others who are just a bit younger, with Tom being the only other octogenarian. (Had to look that word up!!)
    So glad I took the time to get caught up on all the comments on this wonderfully cheerful blog. I was happy to see Pat Addison still having “broody” hens and geese. I remember that and being pecked and given a thrashing by one of the geese on our cousin’s farm. Sorry about the loss of the hens.
    Our Big News is that we changed our minds (if only we could literally do so!!) and booked two seats on Aer Lingus from Boston to Heathrow mid September, staying a month. I’d cancelled the lodgings, but waited until the last possible minute to cancel the flights. Aer Lingus was allowing no change fees through September, so we jumped on it. Tom reeealy wants to ramble around London, and I reeeealy want to spend more time in the Winchester general area. I’ve done lots of research on that Saxon capitol and the Cathedral. As we’re not going to have a car, we’ll splurge on the Old Vine just across the green from the Cathedral, for two weeks.
    I’m also Reeealy looking forward to being a Virtual Traveler on the Voyage of the Good Ship Susan Branch, AKA QM 2. Post lots of pictures, please.
    While were sad not to be arriving in England on May 1, it wasn’t possible with all the house issues as well as the nose surgery, but hoping to maybe get a labeled version of a Group Pic onboard….you can do this when you return, just in your spare time. 😉 Wink, wink. I’d so love to put faces with names. Also, looking forward to finding out about the Surprise. Oh, and the Picnic…Eeeee.
    Back to work, almost done. Believe me, washing and deep vacuuming every surface and item in our house, including all the stuff in cabinets has been an amazing 4 1/2 month adventure. Squeezed in having my nose rebuilt. Some of it was, Oh, that’s where that went. Others…Oh, gross!!!!! New AC, new big air filter, and All is Well.
    Have Mucho Fun with Family,
    Mucho Love and Gratitude to You,
    Debbie in Tampa

    • sbranch says:

      I’m glad you’re making another try for London! You have too much adventure left in you not to! Hope your zoom was fun! I’m sure it was. Me too, Love Winchester! XOXOXO

      • Dianne in upstate New York says:

        Hi Debbie, I will be going to Winchester for a few days after the boat docks. Is there anything that I absolutely must do? I will visit the cathedral of course. I want to see the needlework mentioned in A Single Thread that is still in use today. I think I also planned on a meal at The Old Vine. In York I’ll be staying at The Lamb. and Lion per your suggestion

  39. Debbie Boerger says:

    Yikes! Is “capitol” correct. Gracious, the Grammar Police may be patrolling.

  40. Janice B Smith says:

    Hello again from Jan,
    Question, do you find it hard to take your camera along? I have a Nikon and I’d love to take it but am not sure about packing it around? Do you find it hard or has it just become a part of you. It’s been on my list of things to do when I retired… trying to become “untired”…..I love photography. I’m looking for a new laptop to use with the camera. My old one can’t handle my camera….sigh….and am trying to decide which to choose…..a Mac vs PC. Which do you use if I could ask? Not a brand or anything, just which system do you find works best for your photoghraphy….which we all love.
    Getting excited for the “crossing”. Getting close and putting things aside to pack. Choices are hard. Trying to be minimal. Dang…3 weeks away is long, but I’m so excited. Thanks ahead.
    Jan from Northern CA

    • sbranch says:

      It isn’t hard at all. Yes, it becomes part of you! You will want to remember. Although the newer phones have amazing cameras in them and are much smaller and easier to carry. I use a Mac … and love it… but others love a PC, so I’m not sure. Photos in Mac is good. It’s the only thing I know so I have nothing to compare it to. Me too Jan! Sooooo excited! Can’t believe our time is almost here!

      • Janice B Smith says:

        Ok, thanks for the push for taking my camera….I’ve been on the fence. Maybe we can chat on board regarding computers…. Just got off the phone with Cunard….regarding those lovely COVID tests. Just wanted to MAKE SURE we were doing it correctly. Sigh….. We leave Colorado on Friday morning flying to NY…but too early to get a test before leaving so will still have to find a place to do that before boarding. Ugg. All else done. Yea….now what to pack…lol. See you soon.

        • sbranch says:

          We are having the same problem getting our Covid tests .. it really doesn’t help when they sail on Sunday, getting results in time is our biggest fear!!!

  41. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Hi Susan, Hope you have a lovely birthday celebration. I’ve preordered 2 of your quotation book. Bet I’ll want more!. Thank good ness I’ll be able to read your notes from your crossing and travels in England while I wait for it to arrive. What are you taking along to read? I’ve been reading Clementine, a biography of Winston Churchill’s wife. Fascinating and fun. My window box is bright with primroses and one miniature daffodil plant and a beautiful tulip. Life is good in spite of the news. Love your nephew’s mural on behalf of the Ukrainians. So painful to see and hear about their plight. We had a strange 73 degree day here yesterday and I felt really uncomfortably warm! I think I’d do well in England weather-wise. Belated Happy Birthday and early BonVoyage. Wishing you safe travels and good health to all who are going with.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m taking Benjamin Franklin in London. For starters. Yes, give me that good chilly English weather! (Now watch, it’ll be 100 degrees!) Nooooo! Thank you Sylvia, we’ll keep you updated!

  42. Millennial says:

    “I always say a man fixing things around the house is a pure aphrodisiac!” Oh GOD.

  43. Ginny Evans says:

    What fun! So much to look forward too–spring and life and traveling vicariously to England with you! Here, we are facing a mom with worsening dementia, a brother with cancer and other un-fun things, so your upbeat blog is just what the doctor ordered! Thanks, Susan for shining a little light!

  44. Patricia says:

    I didn’t get a chance to see this until the 2nd week of April so I missed the April 2nd “do”, but this Willard is wonderful, as usual. I am going to pre-order the new book, it’s so timely and necessary. This past year (May ’21 to now) has been worse for us than the previous one, pandemic included, so this issue was just a wonderful pick-me-up that was sorely needed. Thank you!!!! Have a lovely and happy birthday, have a wonderful trip, and I’m sure we all look forward to what comes from this trip.

  45. Cheryl says:

    Dear Susan, I just wanted to drop a note to wish you a very Happy Birthday and a lovely celebration with Joe, Jack and all your beloveds!
    I also wanted to share with you a blog/youtube channel I discovered hosted by Miranda Mills, a lovely lady in Yorkshire who hosts The Comfort Book Club with her mum Donna. Miranda just posted a video about Spring books she recommends reading this month and she includes a number of books about our beloved Beatrix Potter. If you haven’t met her yet, please go to youtube and search #TheComfortBookClub Books to Read in April / A Spring Reading List posted by Miranda Mills on April 8, 2022. I hope you enjoy it. And Happy, Happy Birthday tomorrow!

  46. Marilyn says:

    Your nephew’s painting in China is amazing!
    I ordered your quote book and can’t wait for it to arrive. I love, love quotes and know I will be adding a few of my favorites too. Did you know it was National Poetry month? We really need to celebrate.

  47. Pat Bates says:


    Hope all of Martha’s Vineyard will be celebrating your 75th birthday tomarrow. It’s amazing what you have accomplished in your 75 years. So happy that some of your family has been there to share in the fun! Wishing you and Joe, a fabulous trip to England and looking forward to hearing all about it upon your return.

  48. Evie Tong says:

    Happy Happy Birthday dear Susan … May your day be bright and sweet!! Also Bon Voyage .. safe journey … 🎂💗🎂💗🎂Alo-ha-ha, Evie in San Diego

    • sbranch says:

      Evie!!! Those flowers! 🌷🌷🌷🌷 Not sure I mentioned them, but this is what I mean … ♥️💖♥️💖♥️💖

      • Evie Tong says:

        Red … like you suggested in your previous post (just a couple of years ago!!); will send you photos as I promised .. kitchen remodel finished a month ago🥰😍😘

  49. Sharon from Calgary, AB Canada says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday, Susan!!! Hope you have a wonderful day full of memories in the making.

  50. Paulette says:

    Happy Birthday!! You are so very wonderful!

  51. Laura B says:

    Happy happy happy birthday!!!🎈. And many more!!!

  52. Chris says:

    Happy Birthday! We had a nice zoom call with the Friends of Gladys Tabor and I thought of you and my introduction to her thru your writings. Thank you form the bottom of my heart! See you at the picnic – Chris

  53. Joan Smith says:

    The new book looks gorgeous! Any chance of it being available in Canada?

  54. Nicoline says:

    Dearest Susan
    HAPPY HAPPY Birthday to you!! I hope your day is filled with love and sunshine! With 2 sisters helping you celebrate, that will make it extra special I’m sure!
    Has spring arrived on the Island? We had a very warm and dry March ( the warmest ever…) and then about 10 rainy days , now back to sunny days again. The spring bulbs are popping up, and I have already seen young families…A grebe with 3 chicks and a duck with about 8 duckings and several geese family with their chicks!! They look SO cute, like little fuzzy balls walking close to their parents!
    Soon it will time for you to cross the pond once again, yeah, excitement!! You mentioned a while ago that about 100 cabins on the ship are booked by girlfriends….and have you any idea how many are flying over, to go on one of the bustours?
    Is Petey looking forward to coming??
    Sorry, I have no clue how to get those little flower emojies, if I had them, I’d send you a large bunch of birthday flowers!!
    Lots of love
    Nicoline XOXO

  55. Nicoline says:

    Dearest Susan
    HAPPY HAPPY Birthday to you!! I hope your day is filled with love and sunshine! With 2 sisters helping you celebrate, that will make it extra special I’m sure!
    Has spring arrived on the Island? We had a very warm and dry March ( the warmest ever…) and then about 10 rainy days , now back to sunny days again. The spring bulbs are popping up, and I have already seen young families…A grebe with 3 chicks and a duck with about 8 duckings and several geese family with their chicks!! They look SO cute, like little fuzzy balls walking close to their parents!
    Soon it will time for you to cross the pond once again, yeah, excitement!! You mentioned a while ago that about 100 cabins on the ship are booked by girlfriends….and have you any idea how many are flying over, to go on one of the bustours?
    Is Petey looking forward to coming??
    Sorry, I have no clue how to get those little flower emojies, if I had them, I’d send you a large bunch of birthday flowers!!
    Lots of love
    Nicoline XOXO

  56. Debbie Boerger says:

    Actually got teary attending your birthday party with Shelly, Mary, Joe, and your Critters in party hats.
    You mean so much to all of us, and you Do so much for everyone.
    Can you feel the Love coming from many places on this beautiful planet?
    Sending Mucho Grande love and thanks,
    Debbie in Tampa

  57. Flossy Stewart says:

    Hi Susan…belated Happy Birthday wishes to one of my favorite human beings😊…may the warmth of these wishes make up for not sending them sooner…praying for peace in Ukraine🌻…

  58. Bee Stevens says:

    On your quote: We’re part of the stars and the wind and every flower
    that blows. Did you by chance mean grows?
    I have preordered and I can’t wait for your book. I have lots of your
    cook books and the other 3. Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Blows is when the flower is completely in bloom and the petals begin to fall off. But grows works too! xoxo

  59. Lani says:

    Happy Easter!
    Good wishes to you Susan. Wanted to share that I made your homemade marshmallows that I cut with cookie cutters into the shapes of bunnies, chicks, and ducklings, They are an Easter treat for my teenaged grandchildren. They requested a repeat performance. So, what is a nana to do? Thank you Susan for as usual spreading your joy and fun.
    Love, Lani

  60. Weronkla says:

    Hello! Just wanted to tell you that I spend most of my sunday reading your wonderful book (A Fine Romance). It made me really made me wonder about what kind of journal you used on your trip? I did notice a lined notebook on page 254 on a picture.. but don’t know if it was THE journal that you had with you to England (I feel like such a nerd 🙈🤓). Could you please recomend some journals that work with watercolors?

    Hope you had a wonderful birthday! 🥰

    /Weronika your biggest fan in Sweden 🤓

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Weronkla! As long as you can paint with dry watercolors, meaning you don’t wet the paper first, almost every paper can handle a little bit of watercolor! I just use a regular diary I find in bookstores.

      • Weronkla says:

        Aw thank you so much for your reply ❤️ I just watch this video on YouTube “getting cozy with Susan Branch” where you actually showed the original (first?) England diary (a brown one). Ahhh such a joy listinh to your stories and learning more about your art process ❤️

  61. Debbie Boerger says:

    Happy, Happy, Happy!!! Tom and I survived a harrowing week, Tom in emergency room for 27 hours, then in a room for another day. Got home Friday but were back in on Saturday for 6 hours. He was showing signs of stroke the first time, and his BP was about 200/100. Med adjustment, he is well.
    To ALL the Girlfriends, Learn the Many signs of stroke. Every minute counts to lessen damage to the brain…
    Eeeeeee, just 13 more days until you all sail to the Green and Pleasant Land, with a cast of thousands following online.
    At the exact same time, we’ll be flying in to Boston. Will go to the art museum to see the Turner exhibition, and maybe over to the Isabella Gardner. Then it will be Home Sweet Home in Franklin, Maine, Hog Bay. I say we live on Le Petit Couchon, which means little bay in French. Sounds much cuter.
    It’s an embarrassment of riches, isn’t it? Like the double helping of fresh asparagus I had on Easter!!!!
    Thank you for all the thoughtful things you do, Dear Lady,
    Debbie in Tampa

  62. Debbie Boerger says:

    Oops, means Piglet, or Piglet Bay.

  63. Mamey Brown says:

    I have tried numerous times to get through this Willard to get interrupted time and time again. FINALLY, weeks later I have enjoyed yet another blog post! PLEASE come back more frequently as I really do miss your posts. HAPPY belated BIRTHDAY. So exciting! Have a wonderful time on your trip. I cross my fingers this trip will be another book in the future? LOVE your work and need it in my life.

  64. JoAnn from SoCal says:

    Love, love, love just bursts out of your family photos! Belated birthday wishes, to you, dear Sue!

  65. Delcia Rosenow says:

    My mother wore REVLON lipstick (also nail polish) and a red also! It was her signature color. So glad you had a wonderful time with your sisters!

    I’ll look forward to your trip from my arm chair! We were on an Alaska cruise a number of years ago. It was not Cunard, of course, but my imagination and your pictures will do the trick. There is something magic about leaving a port city especially the first time.

    Jack’s moustache is always so intriguing, but his cute chinney chin chin struck me this time as adding to his adorableness. (I still remember your Girl kitty’s beauty mark. ❤️)

  66. Teri Horning says:

    Because of your book “A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside”, my husband & I took the leap in 2016 & spent a week in Ireland & a week in England. We returned to England for 3 weeks in 2018. We were going to return in 2020, BUT…
    Now, here we are in 2022. We are FINALLY returning but bringing our younger son with us! We will spend 1 week in Ireland again, & 2 weeks in England. Thank you for inspiring us!!

  67. Karen says:

    You sure had a joyous Birthday! Happy Birthday . . .

    I teared up at the picture of Joe and you hugging – with his eyes closed. SO SWEET!! You gotta frame that one . . .

    Wishing you the very best – from the Pacific Northwest!

  68. Bev Edkins says:

    I have enjoyed your blog, and books for many years. Thank you for all you have given and shared! I hope you and Joe have a wonderful trip to England. My husband and I are also doing a Viking cruise around the British Isles ending with 5 days in London. We’re participating in a Viking program called Churchill’s London. We’re going to have dinner in the underground war rooms and lunch at Blenheim Palace where Churchill was born. I’m trying to convince my husband to return to England to do a road trip like you and Joe. He’s not sure about driving on the other side. How did you and Joe handle that? I’ll be waiting to hear about your trip. God Speed, Bev Edkins

  69. PattiH says:

    Sisters pictures were too precious; isn’t it amazing how one can revert to our hidden childlike qualities when we are with siblings? Just preordered your new book while sipping coffee out of my Jack-Life is Good Books Cats Tea mug.
    Spring flowers are blooming.
    Life is good.

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