Hello little monster (Not you! You’re adorable! That ⬇️ monster!) Oh, it is good to be home! MUSICA!

But first of all, let me say, in a quiet, but excited voice, YOUR BOOKS ARE ON THE WAY!!!🎵 This was a perfect welcome home gift for me!!! If you preordered Distilled Genius, then get ready, because they started going out on Friday and will continue to do so all week! At least! You may already have yours!

When we drove up, fresh off the ship, these boxes of books were waiting on our front porch!!! How’s that for timing?

I dove straight into the boxes (after hugging and kissing the little monster) … I couldn’t wait! It’s not real until it’s real! I love the red ribbon!

And something else I think turned out good . . . Almost all my books have dust jackets, I love the way they look, and the little “extra” you get to read on them … they seem to finish the book. But with some books, especially a reference book like this one, I find that dust jackets get in the way. They slip off, they get torn, and sometimes I get frustrated and take them off ~ and never can find them again! 

So I did something with this book that I’ve never done or even seen before. I glued the dust jacket down and Trompe l’oeiled the cover flaps! See the shadow on the edge of the flap? It’s not really a flap! It’s all glued down! Have you seen books like this before? Maybe I invented it! Look at all the trees we saved! Makes me so happy!😂 Made in America!

Anyway, I’ve waited a long time to do this book (as you know, there’s a queue💖) and I couldn’t be happier with the way it came out. If you pre-ordered, you should know, there is a little surprise in the envelope, don’t accidentally throw it away! There will be one with every order until we run out of them (even if you didn’t preorder!). If you haven’t got yours, we still have them, you can read more about Distilled Genius here . . .

So back to the little monster! He has not punished me for going away! I keep waiting. In fact, he cuddles
alongside me in my chair, or at night. I think it might be, after all these years, dare I name it, could it be love?

I’ve come home to the little things, and I am almost giddy with the delight of it… my own home where I can nest and hygge to my hearts content… 💞

As I putter around the house, unpacking, doing laundry, putting it slowly back together, his eyes are always on me, except when he’s asleep as he is now in the desk drawer next to me. My shadow.

All so soft and peaceful in the old creaky house I love so much

The new needlepoint pillow I bought in an antique store in Harleston UK and smooshed into our luggage to bring home … looks pretty good in my pale green living room! (Before you even ask: Paint color, Martin Señor Colonial Williamsburg Green Light ~ 🤣)

Of course the children were waiting for me, a feast for the eyes … the Beatrix Potter figurines I collected in my 20s that have been in every kitchen I’ve ever had and went onto this shelf in 1989 when I bought this house and have watched over this kitchen ever since …. and their new friend from home, a tiny painted shell Rachel bought for me from children selling their artwork for Ukraine on the beach in Southwold, (the beach town I showed you in my last post). Whew, that sentence was a mouthful for such a tiny little shell!

And yes, the ritual filling of the tiny vases . . . such an important part of the puttering!

If ever I am feeling sad … or lazy, or tired, or lonely I just go outside pick a flower or two, bring it in, put it in a vase, walk around the house finding the perfect place for it, and my mood gets an instant lift. Something about the garden, the sunshine, the birds, smells, and sounds, and the small gesture makes the difference.💝 We came home to wildness in the world, very hard days we are living through, I want to pat everyone’s head and say it’s going to be okay … but I’m reminded, the only part any of us have much say over, is our own homes. And that’s not a little thing… we have the power to make them heaven on earth, bake a pie, and voila! We are lucky, not everyone in the world can say that!

We’ve been lucky so far … we came home to the most wonderful weather, our windows are open, the curtains flutter in the sea breezes, the island is abuzz with summer life, the harbor is filled with little white sailboats flitting around in the blue, we had our first Fish Sandwich at John’s Fish Market (a summer tradition for us, I take tiny bites of it’s juicy goodness to make it last), and of course, we walk our walk to the sea each day. It’s good to go away, good to challenge yourself, and drive on the wrong side of the road, and good to come home, alive and well, full of inspiration, and plotting for the next time!

Beautiful on Martha’s Vineyard just now ~ our walk to the water in the morning is heaven … and FLUFFY. When we left there weren’t any leaves on the trees and bushes in the woods, and now the island could actually use a haircut!

Quiet sandy pathways and the sounds of seagulls. . .

Yup. I know you know how I feel.💞 Kindred spirits.👏

And speaking of houses … I know you love them the way I do . . . so, up next, a little house entertainment from me and Joe to you from England . . .

The bunting was everywhere . . . but look at these great houses . . . wonky roof lines, no two windows alike, narrow walking paths, like secrets, go between them to other parts of the village, and out, and onward, to the next one . . . amazing history … just hanging out there like they aren’t even amazing, just normal! Tell your children:

Normal? Ha! And all handmade . . . because England decided not to let this charm go in lieu of big new shopping centers!

the bluest of blue skies, the whitest of fluffy clouds, the tallest of hedgerows . . .

Pubs and pubs and more pubs . . . how we love them!

Because they have been here FOREVER too . . .

I found critters to make friends with . . .

Bricks and gingerbread, and the MOST amazing trees

I could go on all day with trees!

Trees and pathways to discovery and serendipity . . . Spring in England is the cat’s meow.

Many of the trees are as old as the rest of the country . . . you give them a hug and ask, could you please tell me your secrets?

There really aren’t very many photos of us together, it’s either him alone, or me alone, or a tree alone . . . Rachel took this one . . . but I promise you 

THIS is how we felt most of the time. Verklempt at the beauty. (This old photo of us in tears was taken by my niece. We were all on a glass-topped boat on the Seine in 2001, having dinner, going by the sparkling Eiffel Tower, while a woman was singing La Vie en Rose ~ and Joe and I, being normal people, teared up from the beauty.) Leaving England, saying goodbye after two amazing months of our first freedom in years, sailing by the Isle of Wight as we left Southampton, this is what we were doing.

I’m sure we weren’t the only ones … 

Perhaps the tears this time came from our stunning arrival in New York Harbor . . .

It was so beautiful … Staten Island Ferries with sunrise making them shine, passing ships!

Our ship was filled with Brits and Germans … and Americans, all thrilled to get up at 5 am to watch the Queen Mary 2 slip quietly down the harbor, and see the sun rise over New York City . . .

And as we sailed past the Lady with the Light, the gift to America from France, the promise and hope of everything we stand for ~ more tears.

Our crossing was perfection . . . we were wined and dined, we slept like babies . . .the views were stunning . . .MAS MUSICA

Rainbows, fog, blue skies, sunshine, and fast-moving clouds . . . we had it all!

Here are more views for my armchair travelers . . . ❌⭕️❌⭕️

But in this one, so foggy, there wasn’t so much of a view! The ships horn blew all day . . . ships have been in these waters, going back and forth for hundreds of years. Now it’s our turn. 

Nothing ever stays the same at sea . . .

Joe and I had every good reason to be toasting, but someone has to hold the camera! Our life together seems like a miracle. Since the first moment we met all those years ago, and first spoke about our matching dreams of sailing on an ocean liner to England. Sit down at an oyster bar and the cutie next to you says this! How can that BE? Especially when you KNEW you were finished with love forever??? How does that happen? 

Look a this delicious lunch! Henry the VIII did not have it this good!

They treated us so well. And just a reminder, ask our other girlfriends, this trip is affordable! Right? We had 90 kindred spirits join us on our way to England (on the way over, most flew home) . . . and, from what I hear, they loved it as much as we did! PLUS, you don’t have to deal with an airport, AND you can take as much luggage as you want! So if you’re inspired, make a reservation! And go!

 This was the hardest part . . . saying goodbye to Ray and Paul! But the fact we were able to spend so much time together made it all okay … an even deeper deepening of an already deep friendship!

Our last pub lunch together was made even better because my old friend Elaine (my boss in Fairy Tale Girl if you remember) had joined us in England by then!

The other thing about pubs, they all have outdoor gardens and tables … pretty special in this covid-ridden world we are having to deal with.

Elaine, Joe, and I walked all over this amazing place called Chartwell, inside and out, Winston Churchill’s gorgeous home in the country. Talk about history! It was all there . . .

Elaine in Winston’s kitchen . . .

Churchill’s garden and one of my favorite plants, called Gunnera … isn’t it fabulous? It wants “wet feet” in case you have that . . . I tried to grow it in my creek at the Studio, but it wasn’t having any of it. I might have to try again! It’s very picky, it wants everything PERFECT! 

My best new discovery . . . Do you see Elaine there in front of that giant bush or tree or whatever it is? Know what she is doing? She is taking a picture of it up-close so her phone will tell her what plant it is. A wonderful free app for your phone they are advertising everywhere called Picture This.  Now I have it too, and it works! I can’t tell you how great it is to not have walk past something beautiful and say, I wonder what that is?! Joe and I have argued about the blueberries growing on the dirt road where we walk for YEARS… now, as soon as they turn into berries, we are going to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I can’t wait! 

Okay, one more picture … a National Trust house full of William Morris that we toured … just LOVED IT. But you see, it’s the books that make it!!! Which is WHY, I’m pretty sure, the future for e-books isn’t as bright as it used to be! No good book smell! Not good for decorating! Carrying real books is good for arm muscles. See what I mean?

So all this lovely home sweet home stuff will be coming to an end for us soon. We hadn’t planned it, but while in England Joe and I started talking about how much we missed California, our friends and family, my Studio. It’s been years! Plus, my family is going to sprinkle mom’s ashes and I want to be there for the hugs. At first we planned to make our trip as quick as possible, and take the train so we could get home . . . but as time went on, and more bits of my new book began filtering in (the very first pages were sent to me in England that’s me hugging them there), we realized we really wanted to drive so we can visit our favorite Independent Bookstores (it’s been a long time for that too), and see as many of my Girlfriends as possible along the way. We aren’t going everywhere, we really DO want to come home and stay home, but we figured we could at least stop at the ones along the route. So that’s what we’re going to do! It will take three weeks, most of August (brilliant, traveling in August, pray for us!) We’ll take the train home, and hopefully be here by September 14! We are going to meet you more than halfway, so now you have to come find us if you can! We’ll all be careful of Covid, I don’t want anyone to get sick. And I’ll ask the bookstores to turn up the air-conditioning ~ I think it will be HOT!!! If you see a puddle, be careful not to step in it, it could be me! Here is our schedule so far. There are more dates coming, to see them scroll down on the home page, in border to the right of the blog post, and click on COMING SOON/EVENTS to get updates.💖

Some of the bookstores are already decorating! This is Prairie Path in Wheaton, Ill where we’ll be on August 10! Making me feel so welcome. Sandy sent it ~ I’m so excited about this trip!!! Hope to see you there!

The first signing and talk is the 28th of July … right here on the Cape at Titcombs Books in Sandwich! Come!

Must go now . . . I have to design the covers of the 2022 calendars before we go!!! Much more little monster kisses to be given, and Gazpacho to be made! I hope you are staying cool, and having a WONDERFUL summer, and counting your blessings every day. I hope you LOVE the new book. Thank you for your faithful correspondence, it means the world to me!


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353 Responses to OH, IT IS GOOD TO BE HOME!

  1. Debbie Boerger says:

    You Lucky Ducks at Titcomb’s today. Maybe post some pictures?
    My books arrived yesterday!! Tom enjoyed reading one of them last night. I’m ordering more, as these 3 are going in the mail to kindred spirits.
    Thank you so much, dear Lady, for the gazillions of hours, aching shoulders and maybe crampy hands…and Just Plain Love, to make Distilled Genius a gift to the World. I am certain they will be passed down as treasures to generations to come, including the additions we put on the blank pages.
    I will be ordering more. 🙂
    Debbie enjoying another gawjus day in Maine!!

  2. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    I had been fretting about delivery of the quotations book since we have been having mail theft here recently. But (very thankfully) I got an e-mail from your CA staff that my order had been shipped. I stopped fretting and soon it was here in my apartment. SOOOO Lovely. Just love the cover and soon was inthralled with the contents. What a treasure. I will be ordering more for gifts. My favorite quote so far is the Fats Waller one “Lets waltz a rhumba” – something like that. I grew up listening to his records since my Dad was a big fan. What a darling man he was. My father lamented all the time that he could not reach 10 keys like Fats, but he could play a pretty good imitation when he was in the proper mood. You did a wonderful job on this book Susan. I just love it.

  3. Josée Rollet says:

    Please can you tell me which pottery in Stoke on Trent your mugs are made in, my birthplace was in Longton, where many pit banks manufactured tableware , it would be lovely for me to know….thank you.

  4. Jo'L says:

    Thanks for putting a Band-Aid on my ache for England!

    Wish you’d visit the Pacific Northwest, I’m sure you have a “few” fans in Oregon and Washington.

    Safe traveling.

    • sbranch says:

      My pleasure. I understand the ache, yet despite that, when we got off the ship, as be began driving across the country, my heart swelled to realize, it was MORE WONDERFUL than I remembered. Was surprised, but it was, the air, the huge white clouds, the narrow tree and hedge-lined roads and the wildflowers…. was just heaven! xoxoxo

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        I have mused that the ache or yearning we feel for a place may be some sort of genetic thing. No, I’m not a total kook, but our ancestors trod those track ways and roads, and it’s our nature to wonder….
        It could be that some of us just yearn for a simpler, cozier time, as opposed to today.
        Be safe out on those highways, you two. Thanks for the Twitter posts of the book stores.
        Heat Emergency declared for Maine today. We’re fine with our fans and no-cook meals. No bustling in this house today!
        Quiet reading and watching accompanied by dishes of fresh frozen blueberries.

  5. Debbie Boerger says:

    Safe Travels, Susan and Joe. Look forward to “seeing” the places from your travels.
    Everyone I gifted DG to has written to say how much they love it. One is a master craftswoman in Utah. She used to buy your fabric for her many quilts. A number of years ago she sent us one labeled Edge of the Pond, which has small triangles and they are cut from fabric with pictures of frogs, dragon flies, and other life that thrives in the shallow water. Just like our beloved Donnell Pond where our best friend has her camp. It’s a queen size one, the camp, that is. A few years ago, she sent a king size one with Fall images. It garnered lots of money in a drawing for our little library. I’ve also been gifted with her lovely knitting projects. She has done dozens of hats which she gives to teachers, and lots of fabulous shawls. Anyway, I knew she’d love the quotations as she’s a voracious reader and writes beautifully.
    Sending mucho love and thanks,
    Debbie in Maine

  6. Dolores Ann Fernandi says:

    Hi Susan

    I was at the book signing at Book Ends in Ridgewood, NJ. Is it possible for you to post the picture you took of us before you started to speak? Your event was the much needed inspiration that was lacking in my life. So looking forward to the second Distilled Genius. Thank you.
    Grammin Doe 🙂

  7. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    good afternoon Susan, Girlfriends. it’s fair week here, the Josephine County fair opens this Wednesday and admission is free. we’ve been looking forward to this fair for weeks, and now it is almost here. it has been a busy July here, the Jackson County fair, Back to the 50’s , Bigfoot festival, lavendar festival. it has been hot and busy, and finally it is now cooling down just in time for fun at the fair. usually we get triple digits for the fair, low 80’s, what a relief. unfortunately we also have some sad news here, on July 29th we lost our little Tabitha, she was sick and had potty troubles, seemed to be perking up but that dratted triple digit heat came on and it was too much for her and she passed away. been sort of moping about missing her, she was a special little cat and i adored her. she had a cute way of hugging me, she would sit up and hug my wrist and now i miss her and that little hug. we still plan to go to the fair, i want to see the exhibitions of quilts, and the flowers and jam, and Ed hangs out at the mineral exhibit and the antique tractors. we have fun and enjoy the treats. well it is time for me to get the laundry out on the clothesline and get the front lawn watered, and worry about dinner. you all have a good day, stay cool, stay healthy and stay happy. hugs…. 😀

  8. Sandra says:

    designing the “covers of the 2022 calendars”?

  9. Hannah Whittaker says:

    It’s August 9th and we are all feeling quite sad at the passing of Olivia Newton John.
    Thank you for including her quote in Distilled Genius:
    “You have to believe we are magic, nothing can stand in our way.”

  10. Deb Muccio says:

    It was wonderful to hear your book talk at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson. (Sponsored by the Learned Owl). Your comments about creativity and sharing the gift with others was thought provoking. While I wasn’t able to purchase your book at this time, I think I will ask for it for Christmas!

  11. Barbara in So Cal says:

    Distilled Genius is a delightful treasury of wisdom. The diverse styles of calligraphy along with your delicate flower embellishments and signature illustrations bring added joy to each reading experience. I love the quality of the paper and the fragrance of the pages. The book was larger and heavier
    than expected. Thank you for the pretty bookmark matching the original
    non slip dust jacket. You out did yourself again, Susan.Thank you for another monumental gift.

  12. Angela C. says:

    I love the picture at the beginning of this blog of Jack with his mouth wide open talking to you through the screen door – it seems that screen doors in homes with kitties have their trademark “kitty picks” – where small claws have held onto the screen and left the most adorable holes. Those screens are treasures! They are symbols of homes full of love. You are a most blessed woman and you have blessed so many others by sharing yourself with us. Thank you. I am sad to say that I’ve only recently discovered your books but have read your sweet Trilogy, the Heart of the Home 30th Anniversary edition (I was excited about your cottage cheese pancake recipe – my mother has made cottage cheese pancakes for many years – your recipe is very much like hers – and we had a family friend that always asked her to make the “Clouds” – what he called those pancakes – and he is so right, they are the most delicate things – melt in your mouth!) and have ordered more of your books – I found the Girlfriends Forever and can’t wait for it to arrive so I can devour it. I’m savoring Distilled Genius – and the title says it all. Your books are so real, so heartwarming and down-to-earth. I grew up reading Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, and on and on, and am a shameless Anglophile and so finding a kindred spirit is such a joy! Thank you so very much.

  13. Coco says:

    LOVED your delightful talk at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Littleton, Colorado, this evening! Thank you so much for taking the time to do these talks and signings, it was so much fun to see you in person. When Joe (looking very spiffy) first strode up the aisle and set your things on the signing table, the room went electric — she’s here! I could hardly believe I was in the same room with you, very exciting. And let’s not forget the dramatic finish, when the power went out (briefly) after the last question! It was also fun meeting other girlfriends while waiting afterward — you’re the hub of a wonderful wheel.

    It was very special talking with you whilst you signed my books, thank you so much. You are as kind and lovely as can be.

    Hope you and Joe enjoy the rest of your time in Colorful Colorado (minus the rainstorms of yesterday). Oh my goodness, going to be hard to fall asleep on this RED LETTER DAY!

    xoxox love Coco

  14. Linda C says:

    I just left my 5 star review on Goodreads for Distilled Genius and wish I could have given it 10 stars. It’s wonderful and the dust jacket is absolutely inspired. (ALL dust jackets should be like it.) Congrats on another beautiful book that I’ll keep near me when I need words of wisdom and inspiration. Now please get busy on your next book – no pressure – but I’m ready and eager to read it.

  15. Susie lettau says:

    Hi Susan, welcome back to California! I signed up for vromans book signing next month. I live in Arroyo Grande
    And I’m wondering if your planning on doing and event up on the central Coast,I keep checking your website everyday, if not, I’m still signed up for vromans in Pasadena. Ok cheers!! enjoy your vacation and going to all your favorite places in the area.

  16. Barbara says:

    Susan I have several Beatrix Potter figurines that are duplicates and I would like to send my extras to you for the shop. Let me know where I can mail them.

  17. dezi says:

    Oh Susan! This Distilled Genius is amazing! Your parents, must be so proud of you, in heaven!! I noticed you don’t have an entertainment section; I assume maybe in the second installment perhaps? Are we allowed suggestions? I love this quote by Barry Dixon “Every dining room in hell has a glass-top table and fluorescent lighting.” From Veranda magazine page 75. I don’t know the date or year because I ripped it out to put in a journal a year ago. I get free magazines from our library. A quote I fully agree with. Haha. 😀😜😙😙 Oh, a very lovely movie on Netflix, “Age Of Adelaide” And great cd, Joshua Bell “Romance of the Violin. I think you will love it for arting to. Lovzies always—-dezi

  18. Welcome “home” to your two homes, the East Coast one & the West Coast one.
    Here’s something I think you will really enjoy. It’s the number of UK pubs named after each of the monarchs : )

  19. Marsha says:

    I love hearing about your time in England! You make me smile and dream of crossing. Hopefully, one day soon. Thank you for sharing your photos and experiences!🙏🏼

  20. Marilyn says:

    Hi Susan, Continued success with your books.

  21. Joan says:

    Susan, your latest book is lovely I am looking forward to reading it.

  22. Marion says:

    I enjoyed reading and seeing your trip to California. Thank you for sharing. Continued success.

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