Hello Darlings, I’m here ~ believe it or not, it’s Willard-time again! Starting first with MUSICA! And so much to tell you. I know some of you wondered where I’ve been  . . . I’ve been WORKING! Making new things! I’ve missed you, but I was gone too long, I had so much to do when we got home! So here we go . . . catch-up time! But first, Happy November Dear Ones, and Happy . . .

In my last blog post, I took you cross-country 🚗 for a close-up look at our Booksigning Tour 2022. You saw the launch of my newest book, Distilled Genius, and met lots of our luv-lee girlfriends in person . . . and here I am ⬆️ at my very last event, getting ready to give a talk at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, it was a fantastic morning, and that night we boarded the train for home sweet home . . .🚂

Since then, my days have been made brighter because I’ve been receiving such nice messages about Distilled Genius, like from the wonderful Miranda Mills of Miranda’s Bookcase on youtube. She was so kind about Distilled Genius in her Big Book Gift Guide for Christmas ! (click there, it starts at about 17:12, but the whole thing is great!) She is so darling, if you don’t know her, you will love her! She lives in Yorkshire (home of my English ancestor, I always KNEW I should live there and be a sheepherder and paint lambs and “clever” bluebells), her voice is like a song, and her book reviews are brilliant. I’m also getting sweet photos from our girlfriends, like this ⬆️ one from Michelle and her adorable kitty . . .😻 I like to think, and hope, this book is a bit of an antidote to the world madness that attacks us with daily anxiety . . . and it, along with a kitty, a cup of something soothing, and perhaps a nap later on, is a huge help in ironing out stress.💖

. . . and this photo came from Mary Ann and HER kitty telling me how much they are enjoying the book… look at all of Mary Ann’s tabs!! I loved sharing all that genius ~ but didn’t come close to covering it all … I haven’t done pets, or gardens, or tea, or family, or Nature, or Christmas … there’s so much more ~ book two of my 40-year collection is already in the works!

But I have to say, about that quote up there, that love takes the “hard” out of work! Last May, after we sent Distilled Genius to the printer, we left for England for the most amazing trip, we were gone for two months, then home (and hot-off-the-press, Distilled Genius waiting on our kitchen porch!), a month later we were packed again and back on the road until September … You can’t go away that long and not expect to be punished when you get home! Everything needed us! First off I found out we’re almost out of several books! We have only a few of A Fine Romance and Fairy Tale Girl left ~ so we reordered them and the new printings will arrive around February ~ along with a new printing of Distilled Genius ~ but I hope we have enough of DG to last us through Christmas! If you’re looking for any of these books, and can’t find them in bookstores, we still have them here at our studio.👏

I prayed for a long fall . . . and we are getting it! Which means lots of red, orange and yellow leaves are still on the trees! And we still have lettuce growing in our garden! We planted it the minute we got home and harvest only a few leaves at a time for salads and sandwiches, so it should last us until the first freeze . . . when and if it ever comes. This is New England, it is November, and today it’s 70º… 🙀

. . . Even roses and a couple of small tomatoes have survived the shorter days!

And, because we love surprises, we planted a TON of bulbs this year. We were so happy to get home to our own dirt and get all this glory into the ground! It’s going to be gorgeous in the Spring. To plant a seed is a hopeful deed . . .

Just after my last post, Queen Elizabeth died and a piece of our hearts went with her.💔 How lucky we were to have celebrated her 70th year on the throne while we were in England  . . . and I realized, I had never painted her. I was so sad, I did just that.

I painted her before and after she became Queen. Because she was amazing. Reticence is a rare quality in a person, she did what my mom always said (which always seems to occur to me about one second too late), “Think before you speak” . . . she could make a point without offending anyone, she cared, and over time, she did the rare thing, she changed and learned to show it more, she kept her dignity throughout her life. She epitomized qualities we admire, steadfastness, manners, love of animals, kindness, hard work, England would just be any old country without her influence on the history of the monarchy. She was only human, but she was the world’s grandmother who’d been through so much, she tried the best she knew how, and was loved for it.🇬🇧

I decided that Queen Elizabeth should be on our new larger 16 oz. cup. This is the first cup I’ve designed specifically to memorialize a person. I might have to do more! I also re-designed my Birthday/Girlfriend Cup to make it the smaller 14oz. size so many of you have requested, and yes, we’re reprinting Santa! In these pictures, the Queen and Birthday cups are paper mock-ups . . . Santa is my real cup … just FYI! They’ll look better in person! Want to see the backs?

Here they are! The backs are as cheery as the fronts, so it doesn’t matter if you are left-handed or right! A win-win! How about the handles? Like to see them?

Yup! A corgi for the Queen! Want to see the sides?

Here you go! Because these bone china cups are made in England (where else?), and because they have the same world craziness in England as we do here, they added a 12.5% surcharge to help them pay for electricity! They’re also going to take longer, we probably won’t see these cups until my bulbs start coming up in May. Yes, it’s going to take forever (anticipation, a wonderful thing in short supply in this instant gratification world!) Spring will be lovely, though, as it should be, and filled with surprises. I tried to order enough cups to last to Christmas next year. I’m not putting them up for presale now, it’s too far away ~ I will, maybe in March … so if any of these designs really matter to you, watch this space, you’ll be able to make sure we reserve one for you. 💖 If you’re not familiar with our wonderful bone china cups, you can read about them HERE.

I also concocted a new loose tea . . . “Genius Tea!” Delicious, soft-flavoured, black tea with a chuchotement (whisper) of blueberries, perfect for feeding the muse. (We have the handy  little strainers too, in case you need one.)

It’s already well-known that black tea is good for your brain resulting in relaxation, better focus, and a sense of well-being, so I thought, why not combine it with a superfood like blueberries? I called my little old tea maker and asked what he could do… I loved the sample he sent and said, let’s do it! What else could we call a tea such as this but “Genius Tea?” I think you’ll love it. And don’t forget we have Cinnamon Apple Crisp Tea, too . . . AND, my favorite forever, A Fine Romance Tea (lavender, roses, and Earl Grey!) You can read more about them HERE.

With honey & cream, with sugar, or a squeeze of citrus, they’re all delicious for afternoon tea and cake . . . No cake? Do this: Thinly slice fresh white or sourdough bread, spread with good butter, sprinkle over a little sugar. Voila! Cake! (My mom used to give me this when I woke from my nap, I still love it!)

Or start your day with a little Genius-juice for breakfast and a piece of cinnamon toast . . . I love fall so much!

And one more thing, look what else came in! A new charm! In keeping with the Genius theme, I bet you know some Geniuses of your own who might like to find a Genius Charm in their Christmas stocking, or wrapped up as a celebration of accomplishment! They just arrived!👏 Yup, we’ve been busy! It’s that back-to-school feeling in the air, you just want to make things and be creative! I’ve been decorating! . . . oh yes and cooking! Corn Pudding, Cider Donuts, and Touchdown Chili …

Baking too! We still have our donut pan ~ and here’s the recipe for cider donuts! And as some of you know, this ⬆️ is THE most DELICIOUS cake, I made it for a friend’s birthday! Must celebrate!🕯It’s an easy recipe, my Cranberry Tea Cake, an upside-down cake with a crunchy cranberry topping! It’s one of the new recipes in the 30th anniversary edition of my first book Heart of the Home ~ and if you don’t have that book (which you should 🥰), here’s the recipe:

By the way, I learned a new word from my British Country Life magazine . . . it’s a word for a phobia that only Brits could come up with ~ Americans have fear of spiders or snakes . . . but the adorably quirky Brits ~ even their phobias are charming:  

Say it . . . ana-tee-dafobia

My boy has been busy too . . . how I love it when he’s being handy around the house! Look at that maple tree behind him! Stunning weather, perfect for watching paint dry!🔨

We desperately needed to rip off old wallpaper in one of our upstairs rooms, paper that was there when we bought the house! Plus the ceiling was shredding and trying to fall down ~ it looked like that movie Grey Gardens in there . . .  We waited too long ~ it was our nightmare room because over the years we managed to cover every square inch of it with STUFF, and it all had to come out in order to paint it. Joe crawled out the window onto the deck outside to caulk and whatever else he is doing out there 🤣, to make the windows tight for winter.

The room is looking BEAUTIFUL, so clean and bright, there is nothing like a new coat of paint! Our old friend Paolo is helping Joe . . . they finished the ceiling and walls, are working on the trim, and then they’ll paint the floor. I thought it would take FOREVER, but they’re moving right along.👏 I love this wall color! It’s the same as our living room: Colonial Williamsburg #519 Green Light, Russell House, Martin Senor. No matter what time of day, sunlit or lamplit, this color makes a room fresh and happy! MAS MUSICA? (Queen Elizabeth would have loved this!)

Here’s the Maple tree today at ground level . . . still beautiful and lighting up the garden! As I said, it’s very warm today, but that party ends tomorrow, temperature will make radical drop . . . maybe 56º high!

and here’s my kitty Jack, aka “Love Muffin,” aka “Poonie Kinita” waiting at the door for me to come back in!

We had a wonderful Halloween. A bit quieter in our neighborhood than usual, but the little kids were as adorable as ever, the parents outDID themselves, their costumes were as cute as the kids.

Case in point: we went to Margot’s house for dinner, she put on the wig and the hat to show us part of her Halloween costume, she’s going to be a gnome, which is perfect as you can see by her house! She should just answer the door like this! You don’t quite get the full hilarity of this photo until you look past her and notice what is sitting next to the fire. I laughed so hard when I noticed Margot and Tom’s granddaughter Georgie back there with Tom ~ I didn’t notice them when I was taking the picture of Margot! In real life, Tom is a gorgeous beardless man. Doesn’t this look like the beginning of a fairy tale? Well, it is . . .

We made it a little eery at the front door . . . but there’s a fire in the fireplace in the living room so it’s not too scary!

And here’s the little family coming to our door . . . aren’t we lucky!? That’s Margot’s daughter Scarlett, mother of Georgie, on the left… buxomness seems to be the way of the gnome!

Most of the costumes looked like they came out of closets at home!

You can look all the way up the street in this one and see what a crazy thing Halloween is around here. The wholesome kind, moms, dads, bumblebees and pirates, laughing and running in the wind, leaves swirling, calling out to each other, and avoiding the darkest shadows … very difficult to get them to hold still for photos!

Unless of course, they’re showing off their wings! Which we encourage them to do!

Not sure what you call our house, but it isn’t boring. We made new place cards for November dinner parties and birthdays ~ they come in packages of ten ~ it’s hard to believe but it’s almost Thanksgiving!🎃 We’re going to the neighbors (I’m bringing the place cards! I’m also in charge of mashed potatoes, pumpkincheesecake, and cranberry sauce! I can’t wait! We’re going to dress up, bring wine, help Lowely light the candles and be SO grateful, thank God, toast our friends, pray for good health, and count every lucky star! 

We made darling stickers for your Autumn cards and packages . . 🍂🍁🍂

And THIS … my newest excitement! You are probably saying, hey that’s Susan’s fabrics, I haven’t seen those in forever!” I KNOW, they’ve been in a nice clean box for years … piles of brand new fat quarters! And I think I finally figured out what to do with them. ⤵️

And THIS! Packed away for years. I bet lots of you have never seen these at all . . . made by Michel and Co. back in the 90s. One of a kind, the only set left that we know of. Four Christmas cups complete with quotes, a chocolate pot or teapot, and the best little tray in all the land (I have one and out it comes, every Christmas! Perfect for cookies!) And I finally figured out what to do with these too.⤵️

And this, all four season cups in one place!!! Well, the thing is, I have a lot of one-of-a-kind of things that I just can’t put a price on. So what we decided is to have an AUCTION and let YOU be the ones to do it! That way everyone has an opportunity! And we’ll give the money to charity! Another win win! Kellee and I decided we have so much packed away we can do more than one auction . . . and each auction will benefit a different charity! I’m so excited about this! There will be quilts, original art that I painted in the last century!, mixing bowls, a pair of jammies, old books . . . all kinds of special things. So auction number one starts at noon on Tuesday the 8th, and will last two weeks, until noon on November 22nd… Go HERE for details, it should be self-explanatory . . .

IN THE MEANTIME, I’m getting my loooong fall! Heaven!🍂

The shadows are getting longer . . . days getting shorter . . .


And we go walking every day . . . as always and forever . . .

Out under the blue sky to the sparkling water . . . because Nature is the gift that gives for a life time . . . the smells, the sounds, the air . . . God’s gift to the human race. 

 On our walks in the woods, Joe and I each have an EarPod in our ears, and lately we’ve been listening to Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict. I love Winston Churchill so much I thought I’d get to know the love of his life, Clementine Churchill. She broke the mold for what a politician’s wife should be back then when women in politics were best seen but not heard. He trusted her, believed in her, and took her advice, making her ideas part of his administration. It’s been interesting to step back to another time, for a close-up look at history. Today, in the book, America finally declared war and I cried tears of relief right along with Clemmie and her Pug because they were so alone, fighting terrible odds, and it meant the Yanks were Coming!🇺🇸🇬🇧 (This powerful couple was joined at the hip, madly in love, she called Winston Pug and he called her Cat, they called their first baby “P.K.” for “puppy-kitten”)…  She lived through frightful times in London during the Blitz and felt personally responsible for the health and welfare of people in the shelters . . . she suffered, as you can imagine, from serious anxiety and had to learn how to deal with it right in the middle of being bombed. Her people NEEDED her to be positive, hopeful, and optimistic. Sleep was a key ingredient to her mental and physical health but hard to come by. Several times in her life she went away to rest, to receive permission to sleep until her fatigue finally left her. I liked reading about that part of her, made her more real … and reminded me how many of our Girlfriends are suffering from anxiety too, leftover pandemic, worry about the future, worry about how much their children are worrying, worry about crazy politics, the price of bread,  an unsettled world  ~ but remember, most of this we’ve been through before, times change, we’ll be okay . . . and, never forget there are things we can do if the world and our responsibilities begin to weigh on us. First off, Google “anxiety.” I would say nowadays it’s more normal to be anxious than not! It means we care. People who’ve had it worse than us had to deal with it too, and if they can make it, so can we.😘

A thought, but probably not the answer!

THIS… is the answer . . .

I’ve been washing the children . . . because Holly, my niece (the one from my preview book of Enchanted) is coming tonight with her best friend! Want my children to be all shiny and bright for her! And PS, Kellee, at the Studio, has come into a boat load of these magical vintage figurines if you feel the yearning . . .💖

Also I’ve been cleaning Holly’s bedroom, warm comforters going onto her bed, making it cozy in there . . . she’s in the front bedroom, the one I would have LOVED to have as a child, upstairs in the trees with a view of the world out the windows. Perfect for dreaming . . . We have four posters in all our bedrooms, because I was a reader when I was a child. This is what books can do to you!

Kellee has also been crazy-busy getting our webstore ready for Christmas adding a little bit more everyday, getting in new shipments of Christmas cards, Bird trees, lots of goodies, plus my book, Christmas Memories . . . Five years of Christmas in one place! I think we might have only 200 of these left, and no more to come, for those collectors among you…🎄

Five years of family photos, five years of Christmas menus . . . all the little details of the holidays  . . . even places for your kids to write!

Five years of decorating, and pictures of your trees . . . a wonderful memory book for young families or Grandma’s house!

Okay, so guess what? I have two more booksignings scheduled!! Mark your calendar if either of them are in your neck of the woods. The first one will be November 30, at 7 pm, at RJ Julia Booksellers, a wonderful Independent Bookstore in Madison, Connecticut! I’m excited, Christmas in Connecticut! I see a road trip in our future! Think there might be some Christmas shopping along the way! You can sign up for the event HERE! Be sure to read their interesting history when you go to the website. See you there!

And one more! On Saturday December 10th, from 2pm to 4 pm I will be downtown at  Edgartown Books (that’s their staircase) here on Martha’s Vineyard. If you’ve never been to the Island, especially Edgartown, it is quintessential New England, there is a darling Christmas parade down Main Street that day . . . it’s a yearly event, Christmas in Edgartown! Hope you can make it!In addition, on Saturday, January 7th at noon west coast time, 3 pm east coast time … and everything in between in more ways than one 🕰 ~ I will once again be doing a Zoom Talk with darling Hayley Solano from the Enchanted Book Club! We’ll talk about the Magic of New Beginnings! ~ I think she’ll open it to 1000 guests, we’ll put up a link in December so you can sign up!Oh yeah, we can talk!

Coziness from me and mine ⬇️ to you and yours!💖

This is me and mine . . . my other mine is upstairs painting the floor! Time for me to go, . . . Deep breath, Girlfriends . . .

Breathing is SO important … And remember ❤️

Bye for now dearest friends.
Stay safe, stay strong, have fun, do good work, get some sleep! See you next time!

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250 Responses to GONE TOO LONG . . .

  1. Ruthie Miller says:

    What fun to wake up to this glorious Willard. Thank you for sharing all the magic. I always hold my breath that it is ending soon as I scroll but happily, the magic continued for a long and generous time. As always, love the words and thoughts, the photos and the beloved artwork. I loved Lady Clementine too. Marie Benedict is a great writer and always teaches us something. The Gnome family was hysterical. Well done, gnomes! Love the shadow picture. You are always good at seeing the beauty in the shadows. Gorgeous Queen Elizabeth. Glad you are honoring her. So happy she was able to reach her Platinum Jubilee. God bless her. Yes, we will still love you tomorrow!

  2. Christine Morgan says:

    Thank you for a wonderful so needed post. I have been enjoying our long Autumn here in Missouri. So looking forward to the holidays. Can’t wait for the new mugs. I love all my mugs but would love to have a large Summer mug. Maybe you could add that along the way. I am using my Blessed mug this morning. It helps start my day off on the right foot. Enjoy your preparation for the Holidays. I know I am. Can’t wait for Thanksgiving and then wonderful Christmas. ❤️

  3. Cathy from Golden CO says:

    Sooooo happy to hear from you dear Susan. You ALWAYS inspire me to do better with appreciating and loving HOME. You have the happy gene and it’s contagious. Happy HAPPY Thanksgiving to you, Joe and your loved ones.

  4. Verona says:

    We have been very much enjoying our long autumn here in NH, too! It is such a precious gift to us, and we haven’t even turned the heat on yet…in NOV! Wishing for you and Joe to have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Blessings to you both!

  5. Debbie Boerger says:

    A Shout out to Carrie. Oh, how I have missed your beautiful Tweets, pictures and lovely quotes! Hope this means you are feeling well. I don’t Tweet, but I do read Susan’s and yours. Closed my facebook account. Just a small protest.
    Debbie back in Florida….not happy about that, but I love my husband, and where he goes, I go.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, lovely to see her checking in a bit more. Ohhh, back in Florida! Hope you’re missing the story!❌⭕️

  6. Patricia Emsley says:

    It looks like you painted the stairs in the book store! Did you?

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not seeing what you’re asking about, but I know I never painted stars in a bookstore, so I guess I can for sure say no!🤣

  7. Carol Kindt says:

    It has been awhile. Loved reading your latest blog. Covid has me in its horrible grip and anything that diverts my attention from it is welcome indeed. I had to cancel everything on my November calendar. Well not everything, my birthday is on the 11th and I still want a slice of birthday cake to celebrate I’ve made it to 80! We did have a lovely, long autumn and I loved every drop of it. Now we’re going into a deep freeze at night. No matter, I bought a fixer upper doll house from a friend and am busy papering and painting making it ready to decorate for the Christmas holiday. Take care and Happy Holidays…..

    • sbranch says:

      FUN! A new toy to play with! 👏 Are you better from Covid? I’m so sorry, what a STRANGE disease it is!!! No two cases alike, UNLESS you aren’t vaccinated, then too many cases alike. But still not all . . . such a strange disease. Hope you feel better soon!💖

  8. Karen Treneer says:

    Hi Darling one! Yes, you were gone too long LOL but certainly made up for lost time with this fabulous post! I am making the cranberry upside down cake for Thanksgiving 🙂 I love that you’ve designed a cuppa for the magnificent QE II—I can not wait to get it into the hands of my mum whose own mum immigrated from England way back in the day. You are just the best Susan. I count you and the glorious, unselfish light you put out into the world as one of the great blessings of my life. “Happy Thanksgiving Love” to you and Joe and “Poonie Kinita”

  9. Angela's says:

    Sign me up for one of THOSE masks! Ok maybe a silly question but what do reading and 4 post beds have in common?

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, ha ha ha, well many of my favorite childhood books had people sleeping in four-posters . . . not sure which now, maybe Little Women, maybe Heidi, or Pollyanna, not sure . . . but somewhere in the formation of my imagination of what home should be there were bed-posts and four-posters! People hung their Christmas stockings on them, their jammies, and that’s where they put their chewing gum overnight!

  10. Rosemary from Texas says:

    The upstairs bedroom all fluffed up…a girl’s dream. My favorite Aunt Bernice had my room upstairs..sheets smelling so good from drying on the line. And..a little clip on lamp on my iron headboard so I could read in bed. Nothing else like it. I have that bed upstairs in my house now for the grandchildren when they come..with a clip on light. ❤️❤️❤️ I love your pics of the long autumn shadows. This was a delightful post and am so happy to see it, telling about your “goings on”. You certainly have had a glorious year. Thankful for the ability to travel, I say.

  11. I’m not sure I’ve been more excited about your work than I am having seen your Queen Elizabeth cup! And that’s saying something.

    I won’t try to add to your tribute, because it was perfect. I will say that I’ve been following and learning about the Queen and the Royal Family for forty years – since I was just seven, in fact – and her death seemed genuinely personal. I was, however, so fortunate to get to England in the spring and enjoy the run up to the Jubilee. While there I was delighted to attend a concert of music for Coronations, Jubilees and royal weddings at the Royal Albert Hall. Unknown to me, our seats were just one box away from the Royal Box and while no royals were in attendance, it was still a thrill.

    The number of musicians on the stage – orchestra, choirs, military bands – was the largest ever at the Royal Albert Hall. To hear those anthems in person was an experience I’ll never forget. Best of all was the chance to stand with thousands of others to sing “God Save the Queen”. A dream come true.

    I was also interested to read about the Clementine Churchill book. I have two- one by her daughter Mary Soames as well as the newer one – sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. They’ll be top of the list, but not until I finish my annual reading of Christmas books.

    Finally, I have two book recommendations for you! I just finished a c. 1950 book called “Innside Nantucket” by Frank Gilbreth of “Cheaper by the Dozen” fame. It details the efforts of him and his wife to open an inn on Nantucket. It’s very funny and delightfully charming!

    The other is “Mrs. Daffodil” by Gladys Taber. One of her few novels, it covers a year or so in the life of the title character who, if you’re familiar with Taber, you’ll recognize as a thinly veiled portrait of herself.

    Like all of her books, it’s heavy on coziness and charm. Stories about dogs and gardens and houses and food. And lots of interesting neighbors.

    Thanks for a wonderful Willard and Happy Autumn! Soon you’ll have those slices of bread drying on the ironing board!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes sir, I will! I couldn’t believe this morning hearing the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has arrived!! It’s so warm here, that it doesn’t make sense. We don’t even have our storm windows on yet … rarely, if ever, turn on the heat!!! Thank you for the book recommendations, I know I will love them! I got to sing Jerusalem in a church on our last trip, one of my bucket-list requirements of life … to sing that wonderful song with a whole lot of English people! It was just as I hoped … if I lived there (speaking of dreamy) I would do that as often as possible. We sat next to the empty box of the Royal Family at Evensong in Westminster Abbey, and felt the same way, thrilled! Such beauty waits there for all . . . we’re so lucky!💖

  12. Connie Blanton says:

    This is the second time of trying to leave this comment:

    I absolutely love the Christmas in Connecticut movie with Barbara Stanwyck. Then when I learned that it was loosely based on Gladys Taber’s writings, I love it even more. As Uncle Felix says, “Everything’s Hunky Dunky!”

    Happy Thanksgiving, Girlfriend!

  13. Diane Cassano says:

    white dress and black shoes – hmmm…. not a good look just saying. Otherwise keep smiling.

    • Katie says:

      Wow. This seems really unnecessary.

      Susan, I think you look lovely. The black buttons on the dress coordinate with the black shoes. Besides, I always think of Roald Dahl: “ if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Lovely thoughts, lovely face, lovely outfit!

      • sbranch says:

        It’s okay, and funny because my dear BFF Elizabeth just told me to keep away from kill joys. I thought, funny words I haven’t heard in such a long time. But excellent advice . . . and thank you for the kindness Katie! Lucky I’m old enough to know you can’t please everyone every time!

        • Debbie Boerger says:

          Aren’t you proud of me? I refrained from unloading on the person who made that comment. Steam was coming out of my ears. First it was the Grammar Policewoman, now the Fashion Policewoman. As we say in the South, Bless Her Heart….
          And by the way, the new Downty movie is funny and sweet.
          Debbie in Tampa

        • Christie Levin says:

          WELL!! The nerve of Some People’s Children!!

  14. Sandy H says:

    ooh! where can we find those fat quarter bundles???

  15. Donna Cross says:

    So excited to see you had a new blog up! Really enjoyed it as I always do. I do have a question…I’d just found you this past year and I may be a little confused…is the Willard newsletter and the blog the same? I love reading your blog and books (which I’ve already purchased quite a few) and would hate to miss out on a newsletter if there is such a thing????

    • sbranch says:

      Now it is ~ Willard started in the 90s as snail mail when I was no longer able to answer all the wonderful letters I got individually. I mailed those out yearly for several years, and just when it got ridiculously expensive for printing and postage, voila, email started … so for years, I sent out email willards. Then I got a blog, and soon the blog and the willard were difficult to tell apart, they looked exactly alike, so I just combined those two mailing lists and made the blog the Willard. I never liked the word Blog very much, Willard was my grandfather, so this is perfect! Hope that made sense!

  16. Thank you so much for this lovely post during such a tumultuous time.
    I slept in this morning on Veterans Day and then went and curled up with one of my cats for a while before realizing that I had a blog post waiting for me!

    Not only has the wait for election results got me frazzled, it was also crunch time for school. Grading and report cards were due by Thursday the 10th, and I finished!
    So now I’m curled up on my ginormous bean bag pouf with my Leonberger dog Sierra and reading your post with a steaming mug of coffee/cocoa and whipped cream. A reward for an anxiety-filled week of hard work.
    Thank you and Joe for such a lovely journey through your past couple of months. Seeing you both at the Rakestraw book talk was a magical experience.
    Thank you also for giving a shout out to me on your last blog post. I nearly fell over when I read your beautiful words, and my Instagram account filled with lovely new girlfriends!
    Heading into the holiday time this year has me more subdued. Family conflicts due to Covid, politics, and other issues has divided our large family, and we are all finding some new ways to celebrate and start new traditions. I know you can relate to large family rifts over decades. I’m glad your niece is coming to stay with you both. Side note, I love my Enchanted chapter that I got a few years back at your Apple Farm talk. What a magical adventure you gave your nieces!

    So I’ll keep making fiber art for my upcoming local art show at the Aromas Grange, decorate my tree after whatever newThanksgiving tradition we start (now that we are no longer hosting the whole family), and get my students working on our annual letter writing December project (a thank you to essential workers), love my loved ones and cuddle my fur family.

    Again, thank you for this post. I eagerly awaited it, and it was well worth the wait.
    Now a question: what kind of floor is in the upstairs room that needs painting? Curious minds want to know. And how cool is it that there is a fireplace in that room! So wonderful!
    I’ll see you on Twitter for as long as possible. Currently being on Twitter can be compared to when the Titanic band is playing as chaos erupts around them and Billy Zane is running around with a gun.
    It’s a wild place to be, but you help keep it bearable.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Susan!❤️ Nice to see you! Our house was built in 1849, the floor is wide board wooden floor, and was painted when we got here, but it’s gotten old and chipped so we’re sanding and painting it again. You are so right about Twitter! Crazy days! I can’t imagine anyone would let something so big and so popular just disappear . . . but . . . Elon is a strange guy! We’ll see!❌⭕️

  17. Judy A Martinez says:

    A nice cup of tea and after reading your wonderful blog with no mention of politics, it’s back to your even wonderful-er book “Distilled Genius”. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
    Judy in Wisconsin

  18. Ginny Evans says:

    Hi at last–it’s been ages. Our life turned upside down over the last several months! But God is good and we are still here and thankfully so are you, writing and sharing all the things that make me feel normal, stable and happy. Thank you! Thank you for bringing fall to ever-green Texas, for sharing shadows in the kitchen, trees in the garden and wonderful words of sanity and wisdom. You’ve heard it a zillion times, but you know just what to do to create an atmosphere that resonates with so many and makes us feel wonderful! Love you 🙂
    Blessings from your friend, Ginny

    • sbranch says:

      Nice to hear from you Ginny, hopefully everything is okay in the “turned upside-down” department! I don’t think any of us feel perfectly normal these days! We have to be here for each other!😘

  19. Amanda says:

    Susan, I think you probably don’t play video games, but the goose fear quote reminded me of the most charming video game. It’s called Untitled Goose Game and you play a naughty goose who sneaks around a village and steals things from the villagers. It’s so cute and funny, I’m sure your niece would love playing it. My 5 year old certainly likes watching me play it – so many giggles! Especially when the goose steals something and one of the people chase it. Mischievous goose certainly is watching everyone and plotting.

  20. MargotB in Sister Bay says:

    Dear Susan,
    Busy is the word! Up here in the Door of Wisconsin. We have been cleaning out our yards and gardens, cleaning out the garages, and just getting ready for Thanksgiving 🦃, Christmas 🎄 and a long Winter’s night. No Thanksgiving for us, because we are moving to Florida. Eating out with Eric and the next day cooking with John. Trading snow for white sand. Christmas 🎄 will be quiet this year.
    I like the picture of Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, loved her polka dot scarf!! I see snow ❄️ in the window of the girl in the tub! I think you like Winter, because life slows down. A person can think…
    Love ❤️ and hugs 🤗
    Playing with my son’s kitty 🐈‍⬛ When I can.

  21. Barb Seibert says:

    Dear Susan do you think you could do an English hunt scene mug? I would dearly love one done by you. Always so good and heart warming to see one of your post. All the best of this upcoming season to you and yours.

  22. Laurie Nico’s Mom says:

    Hello old friend! You have been missed. ❤️ Glad to hear you were just busy working, not sick or something. Thanks you for the lovely blog entry. Beautiful as always. Love your autumnal photos & art. We are already under lots of snow here in Alberta Canada. We did have a nice autumn with me picking sweet peas until late October. But then the snow came! And lots of it! Hugs to Joe & Jack.


    • sbranch says:

      Hello old friend . . . now they are telling us we will be below freezing here soon! Out of the fire, into the freezer! Stay warm! xoxo

  23. Beverlee Moreno-Ring says:

    Hey there Susan! That was wonderful.. so many fun stories and photos, and joy, joy joy!! Think I will order some of your tea.. blueberries and genius… how can we go wrong?? Can’t wait to order a Queen Elizabeth cup too. Your paintings really captured her beautifully.
    Hope you can catch the series Mum on Britbox. I loved it and your Rachel told me on twitter she loved it so much she’s watched it multiple times.. Check it out… Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy your long fall..
    (Thee) Beverlee

  24. Terri Brewster says:

    I hope you are loving Lady Clementine. I just finished it, and have read most of her books. Each one is special and so good. She finds the stories of the women in the shadows who were powerful and intelligent.
    I was so excited to see a new blog post, it always is a bright spot in my day. I hope you and Joe have a beautiful Thanksgiving.

  25. Janet Hundley says:

    Such a nice Willard, Susan. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Joe and Jack🥰

  26. Marilyn Ghere says:

    Thank you for sharing your gorgeous fall photos with this Californian. I think it’s terrific that you decorate your home in such a delightful way so that all those children and their parents have a fun-filled Halloween.

  27. Judy H. says:

    So happy to have you back. And you and Joe have been very busy.
    Thank you for some yummy recipes and gorgeous and fun photos.
    Welcome back.

  28. Natalie Holdren says:

    Always lovely to receive another WILLARD. (I still have paper copies stuck in some of my SB cook books.) Happy Season of giving thanks

  29. Sue Ekins says:

    Susan, I always enjoy your lovely blog posts, and this one puts me in the mood to enjoy Autumn while it’s still here. I’m so glad you like Miranda Mills and her work. I’ve been following her blog and YouTube channel for a long time. There are so many books and so little time, but every time I watch Miranda I add more to my to-be-read list. Her “Mum” is often on the channel as well and adds to the charm.

    • sbranch says:

      I know, she gives excellent book suggestions, my list is longer than my arm! We are reading (listening to, while we walk) The Dictionary of Lost Words. It has some fairly shocking lost words in it, but it’s written beautifully… more like a diary of growing up so far. Nice to hear rom you Sue!❌⭕️

  30. Regina Carretta says:

    Oh dear Susan…just back from a trip to NY/NJ to see precious friends and family….now I’ll stay put for a while….as you and I shared thoughts on our recent election, there is reason for hope with intelligent, compassionate, young people now in our country speaking up for hope and the future…enough about that….let’s thank YOU for your blog, full of happy times, art, critters (Jack not Joe), the tease of a Queen mug (yay.), and just knowing that you are well, happy, celebrating all the little and bigger joys….Love to you sweetie….oooo and thanks for the Clementine Churchill book recommendation….let’s add that to the reading list…..enjoy Autumn some more…..Regina, Seattle

  31. Rene Foust says:

    Thank you, everything was so beautiful as always. I am so excited about the Queen mug; I believe you have captured her spirit and she would have loved it. I love this time of year, its all warm and cozy inside and I love bringing out my copy of “Christmas From the Heart of the Home”. I purchased my copy many years ago from A Christmas Around the World party that I attended. I was a young married mom and I had very little money but I knew I had to have that book and I am so happy that I purchased it. That sweet boook has brought me so many happy memories and has given me so many wonderful ideas and it is one of my prised pocessions. I hope your holidays are specatacular.

  32. Viffy says:

    Hoping to get something cool at the auction!

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

    Good afternoon Susan, Girlfriends. what a busy week it has been here, cleaning house and getting ready for Thanksgiving guests. now i have to get the turkey out and start the thawing process, and cook up some of the side dishes over the rest of the week (i have a small oven) and figure out a dessert. i love Thanksgiving time, so colorful with all the beautiful Fall leaves, and the lovely aroma of turkey cooking with sage and onions. the weather has been downright cold here and next week we can expect rain and a slight chance of snow for Thanksgiving. all the chickens are happy as well as the ducks and we have a parade of wild critters visiting us, deer, squirrels and wild turkeys. the cats have been entertained by our wild visitors, especially the cute little squirrels, and such dark thick coats they have on for winter. of course for the cats the luxury of sleeping all curled up by the wood stove in their basket is the best of all, i think they spend more time snoozing there than watching all of our wild guests. i may hop out and put out some treats for the squirrels, some peanuts for the deer and turkeys some grain and cracked corn. also have fill the bird feeders and the suet feeders, have to keep our birds well fed and happy this winter. how are things on the island??? has it been getting cold there??? well i have to get busy thawing out the turkey, and getting more firewood in for the stove, and filling all the feeders. you all have a great day today and enjoy this beautiful Autumn. it has been beautiful here with all the colors. wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and many Autumn blessings. lots of love and hugs …… 😀

    • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

      oops meant put some peanuts out for the squirrels and some grain and cracked corn for the deer and the turkeys, sometimes i type faster than i think. LOL!!! Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and many Autum blessings. 😀

    • sbranch says:

      Getting cold, but back and forth a bit, 60 yesterday, today it’s 40 … we don’t know how to dress! Feeding our birds and they are wild on the feeders this year. They seemed so subdued during the Pandemic, like they were staying home too, but they’re back this year! Happy Holiday Season to you dear Pat!❌⭕️❌⭕️

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

    oops meant put some peanuts out for the squirrels and some grain and cracked corn for the deer and the turkeys, sometimes i type faster than i think. LOL!!! Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and many Autum blessings. 😀

  35. Joanne Dean says:

    So so worth the wait for such a lovely post. I am thoroughly enjoying Distilled Genius and am excited for my loved ones to receive theirs this Christmas. I am drinking my tea every day from my Blessings cup, my hands are resting on your desk calendar as I type and I have so many tabs saved on my favorite, ‘Autumn, From the Heart of the Home’. I usually don’t stop to think just how much you have joyfully influenced me over the years – and my family because they reap the benefits too. hehe. In the spirit of Thanksgiving month, I am so grateful for you! and the uplifting thoughts, words, art you share with the world. p.s Now I have something to look forward to next summer. I can’t wait for the lovely Queen Elizabeth cup!! Happy Thanksgiving Blessings to you, Joe and Jack. xo

  36. Debbie Boerger says:

    Hello Susan! It’s the Blog Hog again.
    Had the massive sliding door installed this week, and it cost more than our used Subaru Forester did!! I really do feel better about Florida hurricanes with that thing in place, plus the all the new hurricane resistant windows. Of course, nothing is ever simple. Lots of rot in the wall over the old door. I knew it was there, so TLT (AKA The Lovely Tom) helped move furniture and take my “prettys” off the shelves. Closed off access to kitchen and upstairs. Then we stapled that thin plastic stuff around the walls, covered all furniture so I didn’t have to repeat last Winter after the attack of the Mold and Mildew. I was right about what would be revealed when the installers opened that up. Eeeewww everywhere. So glad we took the precautions. TLT, my version of your Joe, will do what’s needed before re-hanging the 10 foot long blinds. It is totally silent in here now, with all the new double pane glass windows Will be able to get a rebate from the electric company and lower homeowners insurance. Everything we’ve done over the last few years has been to make it safer from storm surges, hurricane force winds and rising water table.
    I so love the pictures of Joe doing things around your house. Aren’t we the luck ducks? I’m pretty handy with a tool kit myself, (Daddy wanted a son!) so we rarely have to call a professional. Tom does electrical, but he’s not allowed to do plumbing…we’ve learned that isn’t his “thing”. He can also build me just about anything I ask.
    Best of all, he has been my Travlin’ Man for the last 36 years. Both retired in our 40’s and camped in all the states, except Hawaii and Alaska, southern tier of Canada, the Maritimes, driven all over Britain and some of Europe. Now sooo happy to sit and be Happy Home Bodies. Planing some color changes for walls, more light in the kitchen….which is called my Cockpit, the one in Maine is, too.
    I feel so very fortunate. And now, especially as it looks as though Karma is Klosing in on Krumpty Dumpty. Sorry about that. Oh, please, Dear Lord, let it be!!!
    Mucho Love…send pics when your upstairs is done,
    Debbie in sunny Tampa, where I am determined to have a Great 6 months 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Another thing we have in common, finding the man of our dreams. So lucky!!! Love always hearing from you, keeping up with your doings, you guys never stop!💖

  37. Terry Goodman says:

    Hello Susan…..
    As always, your blog post brought a huge smile to me face! Thank you for sharing moments of your life with us!
    Wishing you and Joe a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!
    P.S. I absolutely LOVE your cinnamon sugar shaker jar! It reminds me of one we had when I was growing up…but yours is much cuter! If you ever decide to make those and sell them… I would be the first in line to buy one! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I wish I had control of all manufacturers in the world!!🤣🤣🤣 I have so many things I’d like to make!

  38. Patricia Edde says:

    A cold and, wintery before its time, “Hello” from Decorah, Iowa. It has been so long since I’ve been in touch with you but, needs must, it’s been a difficult year. Trying to find myself in this crazy world has been tough but I shall never give up, although you wouldn’t know it from all of the still unpacked boxes in my basement. We had a short Spring here in the Midwest and the Fall has never been able to decide what to do, should it be reasonable or should it be bone chilling cold. Oh well, as Scarlett would say “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Bix, Livvie and Silas have been my saving graces AND my “you’ve got to be kidding me” minxes at the same time. My sweet Bix is now 17 and sometimes, when I am not paying attention to the signals, will relieve himself on the living room rug or the wood floor in the dining room. All I can say is that it is good that I can’t smell (or taste although that has no bearing/baring? on this particular problem) any lingering malodorous smells. I will gladly put up with any urinary foibles if it means that I can be blessed by his presence in my life for as long as possible. Livvie recently had a urinary infection and trying to get a syringe of medicine “down her throat” was not a sight for the faint of heart. I can only hope that she got enough to clear it up. She is finally accepting my presence after 13 days of avoiding me as much as possible. Glory Hallelujah!!!!! At this point I’ll take what I can get. You are a wondrous person Susan and you share so much beauty with us and I thank you for that. I would bet that there are days when it is hard for even you to put one foot in front of the other too but just know that there are thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of us who love you and support you, Joe and Jack every step of the way. I hope that by the new year, if I haven’t turned into a block of ice, I will get my sense of humor back and will write a more entertaining comment but til then “happy trails to you, until we meet again, happy trails to you, keep smiling until then, happy trails to you….until we meet again.”

    • sbranch says:

      Patricia, remind me, what is going on. You moved… which is always so stressful. Have you been ill… You are definitely never a block of ice!!! I’m so glad you have your love bugs around you😽. . . there is always joy in our petty pets. “Trying to find myself in this crazy world,” tell me what you mean. I won’t worry because I can see you’re getting through it . . . but do keep in touch. And thank you for the sweetest words . . . ✖️🅾️✖️🅾️✖️🅾️

  39. Andrea says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Joe. So Grateful for you. ❤️

  40. Judy from KC says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Susan & Joe and all the gal pals! Just letting you know your Grandma’s dressing is a hit in my household! Preparing it again now this year.
    Blessings to you all ! And thankful for you too !🦃🍁🍂

    • sbranch says:

      Makes me SOOOOOO happy!!! My dear darling Grandma, in YOUR kitchen. That’s a blessing. Thank you! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  41. Debbie Boerger says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Lady, everyone else as well.
    The Lovely (AKA Tom) and I will be having a quiet one. We both have the flu!!
    Tom was so sick he had to go into the hospital in order to get his oxygen level up. I had symptoms the day I brought him home, but started immediately on Tamaflu, and my bout is pretty mild. Just to avoid infecting anyone, we’ll stay home. Tom wanted to grill steak, baked sweet potato and a salad. Carrot cake for later. Just my Honey and Me!
    Love all the beautiful pictures you recently shared with us. I get to enjoy the day vicariously, plus I don’t have to wash all the dishes.
    My crystal is that uber thin, etched stuff from very long ago. All stem ware, 3 different sizes. I vaguely remember being terrified I’d break one when I was “little”. I’ve chipped a few, but did you know some jewelers will smooth out the chips? It was my grandmother’s and she was born in the 1880’s. When I inherited it, I bought a China cabinet with a light and glass shelves and glass sides just so that crystal can make us smile when we come downstairs. I have begun the “divesting” phase of life, and the old service for 12 China and the crystal were on the list. Nooooo, said The Lovely. It’s so pretty. And best of all, my equally Lovely step-daughter wants it all. She says her mom’s China is just plain white with a gold rim. Mine is very flowery, service for 12 with 10 serving pieces, plus 3 different saucers, 3 different sized soup bowls, about 20 cups and saucers. I never had a table large enough to have it all out, but the Victorians did love that fully dressed table, a la, Downty and The Guilded Age. Eeeeek. I’m so happy that it will have a good home!
    Mucho Gusto this Thanksgiving Day, when the “tide seems to be turning”.
    Debbie in Florida

    • sbranch says:

      So it was flu and not covid? Your dishes sound so wonderful! Your step-daughter is so LUCKY!!!! I’m thrilled she wants it. It would be awful to let it go!

  42. Debbie Boerger says:

    I’m so happy!! We got through the Flu, with just the croop lingering. Had a very quiet TG, just the old folks at home.
    Thank you, Dear one, for sharing so much of your life with us. The sunlight tickling your adorable grandfather, Willard. Your voice is amazing, soothing. I’ll bet Audible would love to have you read books!!
    I started “Mum” on BritBox last night. While I get the humor, It makes my insides clench. I’m just on episode 2, so maybe Leslie Manville will deal with her tormentors. Oh, dear, I’d have poured that wine over her brother’s girl friend’s head and probably evicted the son and the wacko girlfriend. Still trying to “Be the Queen”, but my patience has its limits!! Watch Leslie in Magpie Murders, if you haven’t done so. Really clever.
    Be well, be safe. Omicron is making a comeback.
    Debbie in Tampa

    • sbranch says:

      Yikes, good for you🤧🤒… just wondering if you were vaccinated for the flu? We aren’t yet, I’m hoping everyone around us is till we have a moment to go DO IT!!! We got our omicron vaccine. So we’re halfway there. Yes, the people around Mum should be taken out and left by the side of the road. 😂 They are idiots! I don’t know how she stands it. She also has a blind spot when it comes to that darling guy lurking around (I forget his name)… I’d be moved in with him by now just to get away from the weirdos!🤣 We saw Magpie Murders … some of it and we’ll go back, but The Crown has us right now.Love you dear, stay healthy!🎄

  43. Marsha Chowdhury says:

    Hi Susan,
    I love your blog! It is a special time to read your words with my cup of tea. I didn’t receive September and November’s issue in my email. I found them on your website. Not sure why I was dropped from your email list. I did check my junk mail too. Please, if possible, put me back on your email list for Willard. I’d hate to miss an issue. I’m so grateful you have touched my life with your cookbooks (I own every one) and words. I have had your calendar each year for the last 15 years! Have a wonderful Christmas! 🎄🎅🏼

    • sbranch says:

      I sent your note to Kellee, Marsha, to see if she can sign you up again! I’m sorry that happened, I have no idea why!!😝 Merry Christmas to you and yours and thank you for being here!🥰

  44. Karen Sue Werth says:

    Just a quick thank you Susan for your wonderful Blogs that refresh our spirits
    and put us in the mood for the change of seasons and coming holidays. When I get a new blog of yours I make myself a cup of tea and just relax while reading and entering your world. I also want to thank you for suggesting The Enchanted Book Club several months ago. I joined this online book club and just love it and would not have known about it if not for your mentioning it. Hayley is a delight and has some wonderful programs each month so check out what’s planed for December. Wishing you and Joe a Blessed Holiday season filled with faith, family and friends. From my heart to yours. Karen

    • sbranch says:

      She is a delight isn’t she Karen?! Love doing zooms with her. I’m glad you found her! Thank you dearheart, very sweet words from you! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  45. Debbie Boerger says:

    I second your sentiments about the “Griz.” Feels like Old England. When we are anywhere near there, we go. Just like The Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme, CT. Those are special treats for special times, such as a USCoast Guard Academy Homecoming. This year was Tom’s 60th, class of 1962.
    Thank you for all you do to put smiles on our faces!!
    Debbie in Ballast Point, Tampa, where it is just Gawjus today.

    • sbranch says:

      Gawjus! Love to hear it Debbie! The Griswold is usually where we have dinner the night before the Queen Mary sails, It’s just magic isn’t it?! Love you dear, Merry Merry!🎄

  46. FayE in CA! says:

    You guys have been on my mind!!! Are you, Joe and Jack OK? I have been getting a “something’s off” vibe and am beginning to worry. I am sending hugs and hope that Covid is not an uninvited visitor and that your entire family and local friends are all well.

    I closed my Twitter account about two weeks after the takeover so do not know if you are still posting, or not.

    I have your FAB Santa coffee pot and sugar/creamer out as I begin to get out holiday trimmings. The Santa cup is waiting to be “discovered” in an unopened bin. I have a feeling it does not want to be found because you never gave Mrs. Claus her own cup to keep him company. 😟. Seriously…every year I wait to have you inform Girlfriends that you have Mrs. Claus on a cup…either celebrating New Years dancing with Santa OR she is on the cup with your stove!!! EVERY year I am hopeful, but still wishing!!! Her cup would be perfect with the cookie tray you made years ago.

    Well, I will be putting your Santa book front and center and continue to send good vibes your way.

    Pet Jack and give Joe some holiday cheer from CA. If all is good, he is or was busy making your wreathes and getting the annual tree straight to show off your cherished ornaments. I am sure Jack is a bright-eyed furry elf when the boxes of ornaments are brought down!!!

    Wishing you a Christmas season full of contentment with twinkles sparkling in your eyes. You three deserve all of our hugs and thanks for the joy and peace you spread EVERY day. 😻❤️🎄

    • sbranch says:

      Hi FayE … No worries, we’re fine! Went away for a few days, had a booksigning in Connecticut, visited Mark Twain’s house, but home now, hard at work on 2024 calendars! I’m still on Twitter, hate to leave our wonderful Girlfriends, but every day it gets harder. I keep thinking Elon will implode, or disappear, and something good will happen, but it’s looking more doubtful. He’s done lots of strange things, and so far, although I’m still giving him the benefit of the doubt in a vague way, I do have two strikes against him. Feels like he is inciting division, and worse. One more and I probably have to go! But there’s nothing like Twitter. Instagram is nice, but doesn’t give you near the connecting possibilities of Twitter … everything is just easier. OH!!! Dang, I should have done Mrs. Claus!!!! I forgot. And I just reordered more Santa cups for next year! You need to remind me! I wrote myself a note. I’d love to do her!! And she deserves it! We’ve been fixing up the upstairs… it really needed it ~ looked like Grey Gardens, if you saw that movie, really bad. Took off ancient wallpaper, repainted ceiling, walls, trim, AND floor! That’s where Joe is!! Two rooms down, one to go! You are a doll FayE, thank you for the sweet words. Merry Christmas to you too!!! Blessings . . . 💖💖💖💖

      • FayE in CA! says:

        SO happy to hear that the three of you are well in your dizzy-bizzy lives!

        Kicked off our holiday season last night enjoying “A Christmas Carol” on stage. It is an updated, creative and FUN version. Scrooge was superb. Tiny Tim is a HUGE, creative surprise. There is a ghost wearing an outfit that I want hanging in my closet to bring out to put on a mannequin in December…red striped tights, a see-through, bedecked net skirt with a DARLING, flowy green coat with FAB sleeves. She threw glittery confetti at one point! The movement of props is always an interesting feature for me…and I enjoyed their staging last night.

        I highly recommend this holiday play for anyone within driving distance to Santa Barbara. Seriously, gather some girlfriends and enjoy the experience. Share a hotel and enjoy a festive night or day or two for a holiday get-a-way! Do not forget to go to Lewis and Clark!! The play is playing at The New Vic – Ensemble Theater Company. Last night was opening night.

        I want to be a-swirl in a major home re-do, too, Susan. I keep telling myself that I am too old to spend so much money on the house and I am too lazy to push myself through the chaos/disruption to get to the end of a project. But, but and more BUTS never move one forward to a completed dream/desire, does it? Good for you, Susan and team player, Joe! The Dream Team is at it again. Perhaps the upstairs will end up SO lovely that you will never want to go downstairs again, HA!

        I still have to go back and read the comments, but I wish this community of Girlfriends and special men a season of love, joy and health. Cheers to all of us in the upcoming 2023! (As a little girl I never thought that I would be living in the far-out future…and here we are. Chips to run everything, electric cars, tech domination, shooting at meteors, etc.) AND YET, sliding backwards with social justices while speeding forward in a world where most read their books on devices. I LOVE the world of Susan Branch…people who understand where we are in history/science/tech, but still covet old-school ideals and choices.

        Here’s to whatever makes your heart sing. Girlfriends’ collective hearts are THE best medicine to keep us grounded.

        PS: Susan, just have to wonder how can one man be such a creator and destroyer at the same time? He is just another ba-zillionaire who is consumed with power. You are generous in giving him some space before you jump ship. I could not take the spike in blood pressure after he began dismantling and ultimately undermining American values with his spoiled-brat, “I-CAN-DO-WHAT-I-WANT” with his overly-paid-for social media experiment. He and Ye are not healthy Americans uplifting our precious Democracy.

        • sbranch says:

          Thanks for the happy recommendations! So glad you are out enjoying the glamour of the season! Better that then being in a swirl of major home redo! We put this off for years and it was getting embarrassing.🤣 And yes, it’s that spike in blood pressure I think they’re after.😱 I am sooo tired of the chaos, I fear, now watching Elon, there will always be those types in our midst. People who’s need for attention, and wealth to lay it on thick to the rest of us, trumps everything. They need us because we remember when it was different! I even remember manners!👏 Happy happy FayE! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

          • FayE in CA! says:

            Manners are such an elegant treat anymore. When somebody does what OUR mothers taught us to do the kind words and gestures stand out like a neon sign because the low bar for accepted crude, rude and mean-spirited voices scream the collective voice these days.

            Generally speaking, our generation is deliberately kind and those of us who believe in the “joy of niceness” are proud of our kids who carry on the natural, easiness of being kind and loving.

            Cheers and cyber hugs to a leader in a manners-matter lifestyle where old-fashioned values are still in vogue.

  47. Debbie Boerger says:

    In answer to your question…Yes, we were both vaccinated for this season’s flu. Tom was hospitalized for 24 hours, all hooked up to monitors. Was having trouble getting a deep breath, and breathing is kind of essential, eh? Being 83 and having had open heart surgery it was a precaution. So….get the flu jab as soon as you can. I can not imagine what it would have been like if we’d not been vaccinated. And he’s in good shape, rides his bike for a couple of hours most days, and still plays golf.
    Then a week later The Lovely developed Shingles!! Been vaccinated for that as well. But it was a very mild case, and now almost gone.
    We went to the local library for 2 hours on Thursday. Tom spent a good bit of that time reading the “hot off the press” Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. I think I’ll give it to him for Christmas…he loved your Distilled.
    I found a brand new book on Churchill….Mary Churchill’s War, edited by Emma Soames with a forward by Erik Larson who wrote The Splendid and the Vile.
    Also one titled The Roosevelts and the Royals….Franklin and Eleanor, The King and Queen of England, and the Friendship That Changed History. There is a family tree for them, and I learned that the Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon is descended from a Virginian, Augustine Warner, Virginia colonist, who also led to George Washington. Another close connection.
    I’m becoming much more at Peace about being here in FL. The improvements to this place, making it less likely to flood and have the roof fly off, help my anxiety greatly. It’s in a lovely neighborhood with brick streets and ancient, moss draped live oaks. We bought way before the home prices shot up so drastically, so I can relax and “worry” later.
    Time to watch Sunday Morning, which always makes us happy.
    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to all our posts! I really do enjoy reading about all the Girlfriends.
    Mucho Merry Christmas to All,
    Debbie in sunny Tampa

    • sbranch says:

      Ooooo, your Florida neighborhood sounds so beautiful! Great that you got the house so ship-shape. There was lots of Mary Churchill in The Splendid and the Vile … she was so young, and seemed to make the best of the war … being the light of her parents’ eyes. Okay, off to work I go! The calendars need to get DONE!! xoxo

  48. Debbie Boerger says:

    The Arc of Justice is Long. Oh please, dear Lord, let me live to see the man’s who has bred chaos even outside of our borders have his!!
    Things are on a knife’s edge right now. Glimmers of hope.
    Sorry Sweet Lady, I can’t use Twitter, after the release of Elon’s filthy, demeaning comments about women.
    My family just left to go for a boat ride, and I have the day to myself to put out Christmas Spirit!!
    Sending Mucho Cheer,
    Debbie in very sunny Tampa

  49. Sreekala says:

    Dear Susan,
    How are you? It’s been more than a month since you posted the Willard. I hope you are well and busy with getting ready for the holidays.

  50. Debbie Boerger says:

    Oh, the Season is Bright in Your Old House on Martha’s Vineyard!!! Our wreath from Maine arrived, and that mid-Winter balsam smell is intoxicating. Reindeer bells on the doors.
    All but one of our “Viking” relatives arrived on Thursday with the flu. All vaccinated. Now our Florida daughter has it, badly. She, also was vaccinated, as was her guy….He got it as well, Twice. I’m not sure they got it right this year. Never ever heard of this many cases in spite of getting the jab. And these are cases confirmed by blood tests, so it isn’t one of the other things going around this winter. Wear Your Mask, Dear Lady. Stay Well, and that’s an order.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Tampa

  51. Jenny Johnston says:

    I hope you and Joe are ok. I haven’t seen a new Willard or blog post in a while. I so enjoy your words, recipes, artwork, and stories. And of course pictures of Jack! Hope all is well!

  52. Debbie Boerger says:

    I’m signing up for Post.news. Just so I can see you. Musk suffers from the same condition as He Who Shall Not be Named. Doesn’t care who is hurt or what is destroyed, he can not live without Attention, even if negative. Don’t feed him, and maybe he’ll self destruct.
    Thank you, Dear Lady,
    Mucho love from Tampa

    • sbranch says:

      Yup. Zaklee. It’s like a big empty room at Post, but everyday more people move in, bring their furniture, and it gets a bit warmer. I will look for you!

  53. Anne E Rice-Sosne says:

    You always bring me such joy. Truly. You are warmth and joy itself . . . I cannot thank you enough. Merry Christmas to you and yours, your beautiful family of three. It is Thursday here in Saint Louis . . . . and -4 degrees! As result we have put off our traveling to see our family in Indy from tomorrow until Saturday. I simply can’t wait for the new cups, they are divine. Happy New Year too.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s 54º here on the island this morning! What is THAT about? Going to drop 40 degrees by Saturday! I’m so happy you are not traveling in that! Stay safe. 😘 “And in the winter wild and cold, tis merry merry too . . .” ❌⭕️

  54. Linda Mitchell says:

    I have recently read, ‘The Dictionary of Lost Words’ and I love it so much. I didn’t want to start a new book too soon because I wanted to stay in the world of that book. It’s a stunning first book for this author. I hope there’s more from her. Thanks for highlighting it. I first saw your work highlighted on Jama Kim Rattigan’s ‘Alphabet Soup’ blog. I’ve been a fan ever since. Love your work too!

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, haven’t started another book, love the aura of that one, staying with it a bit longer. I agree, stunning. How hard she worked to make it right! Oh yes, Jana’s blog, she is wonderful! Thank you Linda!♥️

  55. Lynn Hamman says:

    Hello again, gosh, my old lady eyes just spyed the recipe for Snippydoodle cake. Sorry, when I am on my phone I miss things. But I see you did print the whole recipe and I was able to capture it on my phone with a picture and then print it out when I got on my desk top and could see better!
    Thanks Susan for all you do.
    Merry Christmas to all the Girlfriends!

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