READY FOR 2024??

Hello Darlings! Are you ready for our drawing? Ready for 2024? It’s already looking busy!💖

New Year, New Beginnings, New Challenges, New Dreams . . . Don’t worry about the future, whether it be something good, or not so good, you’ll meet whatever happens in the same way you have before ~ you’ll wait, you’ll listen, you’ll think, you’ll learn, you’ll grow, but you’ll never give up! Joe and I seem to be starting off the new year like horses hearing the gun! SO MUCH NEWS and all of it good! But we start as always, with MUSICA!💖

Following my own January 2023 Wall-Calendar excellent advice, we’re OUTTA here, OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD (my mom’s words for travel!) Boarding the train on January 9th, settling into our “room with a view,” slowly heading west over the tracks, out to California! So excited! Watch for travel photos as we cross the country on Instagram, Facebook, and (the revoltingly named) X because … I’m taking you along, it’s time again for Twitter from the Twain! Ahhh, the Twain . . . the dream-inspiring twain. . . here’s what I wrote about it in my book Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams.💖

Feels like forever since we’ve been to California!⬆️ That’s our backyard! We’ll get to see friends and family, hang out in a very different kind of winter, have LUNCH at the beach, eat Taco Bell, have lunch downtown, outside, on SLO Creek, I’m planning lunch! We’ll be cleaning and getting rid of stuff in the house we’ve owned there for the last 22 years … where my Studio has been, and now we’re putting the house on the market! It’s time. Kellee moved the Studio closer to her house . . .But we get two more months there for a proper goodbye! Ask me if I’m happy!!! Answer is YES! But first . . .

We need to send my beautiful vintage quilt to its new home!! Right NOW is my favorite part of every give-away ~ this moment when EVERYONE is still a winner. That’s why I make Vanna (our “random number generator”) the one to draw the winning name … and this time she took her own sweet time!💝

But here we go . . . drum roll . . . 🥁 the winner is  . . .


I hope there’s only one Eileen Burke, but if not, this Eileen recently had to make an unexpected move.😣 I will be sending her an email soon so she can send me her address! Thank ALL of you creative quilt-loving (and quilt-MAKING) Girlfriends … your comments were SO MUCH FUN as they always are, so sweet, informative, generous. I’m lucky to have so many kindred spirits blessing my little corner of the world! We have history! Back to 2009 for this blog and waaaaaay before that for me with lots of you, remember those original snail-mail Willards beginning in the early 90s? (If you are new to this neck of the woods, scroll down a bit HERE and see why my blog is called WILLARD!) Thank you for all of your encouragement! It gets better all the time!💖 Mas MUSICA!

And guess what? This coming Saturday I’m doing a New Year Zoom with Haley Solano of the Enchanted Book Club, at 3 pm EST! I hope you can come!! I better make this bigger so you don’t miss it! Sign up below…

We’re going to talk all about starting the new year right, how having heroes has impacted my life, ways everyone can discover their own heroes and draw a beautiful lifetime of inspiration from them. Sign up HERE! It’s free! I haven’t decided whether I’ll be meeting you from my kitchen or the living room in front of the fire!🤔

So today will be a short post because I have to PACK ~ we leave next Tuesday! Yikes! I’ve decided to try being color-coordinated this time and only bring blue and brown clothes. We’ll be gone a long time so it can’t just be 2 pairs of pants and 3 tops! Gotta have more! But maybe doing it by color will keep it down . . . I’ve never done it that way, so we’ll see. I’ll report back. Meanwhile, I’ll be making my normal little list trick . . . otherwise I’s definitely forget something!

I started doing this in my 30s and have done it ever since. So handy to have that list!

Yes, him. Darling him. I have to leave him. The hardest thing. But if I linger on how much I’ll miss him, I probably wouldn’t go. And as a human, I HAVE to go! But we have a wonderful sitter, a black-belt, somewhat murderous, cat-loving, hulky Manly-Man who is VERY protective, and has ZERO trust in strangers …  so, in case you’re coming by, I would wait for us to get home!😉 For your own safety.💖

Plus, Jack’ll be keeping his eye on everything! The wonderful news is that when we get home, we should be well on our way to Spring!!! I’m already excited to come home! It’s a definite win-win! In my heart, as soon as I get Christmas put away, I start noticing the longer days. I’m all ready seeing little echoes of spring! 🌱 In the meantime, lovely ones . . .

And soon, you’ll all have your cups! They should arrive while we’re in California! The end of this month!

This is the new one . . . brand new . . .

The next couple of years will mark the 250th anniversary of our country, the shots heard round the world in Lexington and Concord, MA in 1775 will be celebrated in 2025 ~ and in 2026 it will be the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. I know I’m a year ahead, but after going to the re-enactment in Lexington and Concord last April for Patriots Day . . .

. . . I couldn’t WAIT to come home and make a cup to celebrate. The reenactment was wonderful (you can scroll down and read about it HERE) and if you have a chance to go, please do it! Every day, around this time and even before, all those years ago, our ancestors were up to something . . . change was in the air, and every one had thoughts about it. So many wonderful books written about it . . . so much to see … if you haven’t been to Williamsburg and Yorktown, VA, these next few years would be the time to go! I wrote about it when we were there… you can see that post HERE.

And remember this cup? It’s the one that celebrates the life of Queen Elizabeth. When we celebrate her life, we celebrate our own ~ She was alive and even Queen for most all our lives! We sold out our first printing, so we made more, and they’re coming with the Patriot Cup!👏 If you didn’t get one the first time around, this is your moment! I’ve been drinking tea in mine while watching the last season of The Crown! What a feat! Her entire life! So well done! She was amazing! But it makes me so grateful not to have accidentally been born into any kind of Royal Family. What a miserable job she had! Imagine being a child, you think you’re normal, but are aware that everywhere you go you are attacked by cameras, and finally it hits your consciousness when you discover you are next in line to be Queen of England! What a shock! And you find out your life is not your own! 😳 Or you find out the Queen of England is your MOTHER! Eeek! Or you’re the Queen’s beloved sister but she can’t let you marry the love of your life, because some divorced MEN say no and it’s her DUTY to tell you no!😱 (Yes, we finished it, and started it right over again!) Anyway, we’re getting more of these cups at end of this month!👏👏👏 Both cups are still available for presale.

Remember my nun girlfriends? Mother Seraphima and the Sisters? Look what they gave me for Christmas!⬆️💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼

It’s a messenger bag, made from wool that came from Herdwick sheep … the breed Beatrix Potter loved and kept and bred in the Lake District  . . .  Could they have given me anything more perfect?

And look, it’s lined in Peter Rabbit fabric ~ plus, inside the zipper pocket there is carrot fabric! Isn’t it cute? I think it will last forever! And the leather kilt buckles have a snap on them so you don’t have to unbuckle them every time! It’s perfect! And blessed by my darling nuns. If you’d like to read about my visit to the Holy Nativity Convent go HERE, scroll down until you see a photo of Mother Seraphima!💖💖💖

It’s only January 4th and so far, we’ve walked every day. No snow to stop us, no ice . . . actually, I’m worried it will never snow here again. If it does, it’ll probably wait until we’re racing to the train!🚂

We almost always walk in the morning, but once in a while we make it out there for sunset . . . the reflections are gorgeous, the fresh air is cold and clean.

We’ve had a couple of foggy days, making it mysterious and surreal out there . . . and then… the foghorn blows . . . ahhh yes, sometimes I forget, we live on an island!👏

the fog washes over the landscape, makes it almost all one color . . .

First off, Joe does NOT have a ponytail, that’s just a normal little hat-tangle! But see his ear? We both have AirPods in our ears… we listen to the same book (which is on my phone) while on our walk. We’ve been listening to Charles Dickens,”The Pickwick Papers” all December and still now. It was Dickens’s first book ~ a LONG, NUTTY kind of a book. It’s in English, but it might as well be in another language . . . the reader is a genius with accents, but some of them are very hard to understand until you get used to them. This one character, Weller, who we love, pronounces all words that have a V, with a W sound. So victory is wicktory! It was originally written as a serial for magazines and you can tell. Almost like a gathering of short stories.

Luckily Joe has the real books, copies that are illustrated and were published in 1862! Talk about stepping back in time. When we get home from our walk, I like to read some of it over, slowly, so I get it! And so I can grab some of his quotes! His writing is amazing. It’s good we’re doing this. Other than A Christmas Carol I’ve never read any Dickens books. Easy to see where A Christmas Carol came from. Fun to be in 1830 England, even in some of the same towns Joe and I have visited!! Love it when history and real life moosh up together!💝

 I was looking over the books, marveling over the writing, and stopped, just sort of staring, thinking, looking around the room. Our house was built in 1849, so I asked Google, “What was Dickens doing in 1849?” I got this specific answer and thought you’d like to read it. It’s short, a little bit of history, and one more reason to love Charles Dickens. Click HERE. Well, off we go. Wish us luck with the house! Thank you again for everything! It has been such a pleasure knowing all of you. I’m not going anywhere quite yet, but I just wanted to say that! Congratulations Eileen! Wishing you all the very best this year! If you need to remember good things from 2023 or for the last 15 years, go into the archives in the side column of my blog . . . it’s all there, all good news and lots of ideas for making every new year bright! Oh! something I did the other day I wanted to remind you ~ do you have any leftover Ginger Cookies? If not, make them, or go get some! Time to put ice cream between two of them, and into the freezer for afternoon delights! Delicious with a “London Fog”: Earl Grey tea, with honey and milk. And don’t forget to do your planks! 😘 See you Saturday!

         Toot-toot! 💖 XOXOXO

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170 Responses to READY FOR 2024??

  1. Pat says:

    Happy New Year, Susan! Congratulations to Eileen Burke! What a wonderful gift to begin the new year. Your new messenger bag is very pretty–another wonderful gift to receive!
    Safe travels to California–enjoy your time and good luck selling your home there. I love train travel and I have tried to ride all the scenic and historic train lines in Colorado, the last being the Durango to Silverton train this past fall.
    I love your new Patriot Mug! Our democracy is so precious and we must all work to honor and preserve it.
    All the best in 2024!!

  2. Hello Dearie,
    Have a wonderful wizard of aahs! I hope you have a delightful trip and enjoy your time with your Cali-house before you say goodbye to it.
    I find these things to be so bittersweet.
    We’re just settling back in here for the swing into 2024 proper. We’ve a had a half month of travel and holidaze. So it’ll be good to get back to our little domestic routines. I am envious of your train trip though, and hope to do that one day. We took the California Zephyr from Salt Lake one year and it took us 24 hours to get to Sacramento- thank goodness for sleeping cars!
    Wishing you so very much joy, peace and happiness for 2024. (Wow! can you believe we’re 40 years past 1984? Talk about a time warp!)
    Much Love!

  3. Teresa Goodfellow says:

    Hi! I signed up for your zoom call with The Enchanted Book Club and at the last minute was unable to attend. Now I’m trying to find how/where I can still watch it. Help! Thanks, Susan!

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

    Happy New Year Susan and girlfriends. have a wonderful trip back home but be careful, those monster waves are still hitting the California coast, and places like Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Pacifica and San Diego have been hit really hard. so has Pismo Beach and other cities. we’ve had snow and love it. Felix was introduced to snow and discovered it was cold, wet and he was not too sure if he liked it or not. it has been a busy time dealing with FIL’s bills coming in, all i can say is i have no idea what was going in his head, but i know his family did not enter into any of it. guess he figured we would pay it all off and that was that. we still have his house on the market and have a prospective buyer who is leaving California and believe me with all the taxes and such that the governor is imposing i don’t blame her. congrats to Eileen for winning and i hope Susan your home sells quickly, seems the housing market is rather slow these days. got to run, Felix is into some mischief with Socks and it is time to break it up. have a Happy and healthy New year everyone. hugs ….. 😀

  5. Barbara Vlcek-Vinikow says:

    Dear Susan,
    I so enjoyed your blog. I am writing this to you on Monday, Jan 8th, and I’ve just been reading/hearing about the big, scary winter storm 🌨🌬🌩that is predicted for the East Coast and Mid-West beginning tomorrow, Tuesday. I believe you said that Tuesday was the day you begin your journey, by train, across the country to California. So, I am concerned for you & Joe. Maybe you already have decided to wait a few days until after the storm is over. I hope so! Do take care and be safe! And, let us girlfriends know how you’re doing.

    Happy New Year wishes to you both! May you be blessed with continued creative inspiration, good health and happy times spent with family & friends, especially your girlfriends!!! Prayers for smooth, safe travels!!! 🙏
    Love & hugs, Barbara 💕🤗
    p.s. On Saturday, we had our first snowfall of the winter here in Reno. Just enough to make things look pretty! ❄

  6. Terri Brewster says:

    Happy New Year and Safe Travels. Thank you for the blog post to start the year off right. I just love seeing the latest Willard in my inbox. It calls for a cup of tea and some quiet while I savor every fun and positive word. Love the 250th cup, will be pre-ordering one.
    Wishing you and Joe a wonderful trip, a bit of warm weather out here in California, and much success in getting the California house closed up, packed up, and sold.

  7. Pam E says:

    Lovely Willard, as always. Thank you. Was the webinar recorded by any chance that we might see it? Happy travels. 🕊

  8. Kay says:

    Well, you called that right: here it is the 9th and a terrific snow storm is making it’s way across country. Amtrak has already cancelled all trains between here and Chicago for the next few days. Hope your trip west eventually becomes uneventful. Gosh, I could never leave my kitty that long. She would have to come with me as I’ve seen other kitties on flights I’ve taken.

  9. Patty Bonsant says:

    From coast to coast, safe travels and Happy New Year!!

  10. Dianne in Upstate New York says:

    Dear Susan,
    Such a wonderful post. I look forward to traveling with you via train, as I have in the past. My great niece recently moved to Chicago, and I look forward to visiting her in the Spring- via train, I hope, and in a sleeping compartment as well- with my tea kettle and books. My tea kettle and pillow travel everywhere with me, as well as one of your mugs. My friends sometimes tease me about my “necessities”, but I notice that many of them are now packing their pillows as well.
    Although I wasn’t able to attend the live Zoom meeting (it was already full), I was able to view it later. You mentioned the possibility of returning to England via the Queen Mary in 2025. Would that possibly be another girlfriends’ trip? I hope so, as it was so much fun. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and saving my pennies now. And did I ever get a big surprise. I had a note in my mailbox yesterday from the person I had chosen as a penpal. She had misplaced my address. I am so excited! I can’t wait to begin my correspondence with her. She actually recently retired and is going to England for a few weeks in May, returning home on the QM2. So happy for her!!
    I am so pleased that your shopping page is back up. I was afraid that I missed out on ordering a Bicentennial mug. In fact, I was frantic! I was looking under tea things and it wasn’t there. Thankfully I found it under Susan’s dishes. (Just in case anyone else is as frantic as I was).
    I am almost finished re-reading Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams. It has been read several times in the past, but it seemed the perfect way to start the new year off right.
    Before I close- Congratulations to Eileen. I know that she will enjoy that beautiful quilt, as she and her daughter start over.

  11. Debbie says:

    Your trip sounds heavenly! I just listened to The Fraud by Zadie Smith and thought you might enjoy it. She is an incredible narrator of her own writing and Mr Dickens turns out to be a character. She is very smart and funny and I think this might be the perfect book to listen to on your trip. Enjoy your cozy train ride. Some day I want to make that trip as well. Happy New Year to you and all those you love.

  12. Sandra Walton says:

    Happy new year Susan and Joe. Have a great time in California…. With your family..loved the words you began this blog….so true. so here’s to 2024..adventures,, blessings…everything that makes us who we are…and Thank you for the precious drawings on the calendar and words…it’s like being with you everyday..
    Have fun…
    Sandra from Bournville Uk

  13. AMY SWANSON HAAN says:

    I hope your train has gone south of the blizzard here in Iowa. Have a wonderful time in SLO!

  14. Cecily Wathen says:

    I just love you so much Susan! I feel like we are kindred spirits! ❤️

  15. Deborah A Metzger says:

    It is January 16 and I thank you for reminding me to concentrate on positive thoughts and actions. I was having a difficult day yesterday so I said my prayer to comfort me and help me get all of the annoying tasks done. Today I finished several things before 10:00 AM, read your advice to pay attention to what matters in our own lives (let God’s angels take care of the problem people)and saw the number 41 which tells us to think positive thoughts to manifest our needs and desires.

    I enjoy reading your blog to remind me to live my cozy, cottage life and the
    angels are here to help with the rest.

    Keep warm this Winter and thank you!

  16. Meesha says:

    Happy New Year! This was such a a great post…I am convinced that I need to travel by train now! I hope you’re having a wonderful time in California! It was so good to see you on the Enchanted Bookclub and I can’t wait to read some of the books you mentioned, especially the Mark Twain biography. I took a break from the internet last year, so I’ll enjoy myself by catching up with your lovely posts while you’re away! Happy and safe travels!🤗

  17. Ray Buck says:

    I just finished reading: Christmas Joy.Wishing I knew how to send you a copy of my rhyme: Snow Angels Aren’t Just For Fun. I believe you would enjoy it even written by an old fella fromIowa.

    • sbranch says:

      My mom and grandma were both born and raised in Sioux City … the nicest part about me is my Iowa! The wicked part😈😉 is all from my dad!

  18. Karen+Baron says:

    Great Willard! Welcome to California! Dickens Bleak House is my favorite about an unending court case. I read it in college for my degree in English literature and composition!

    Safe travels! It will be raining ☔️ here soon!

  19. Carol Domenicucci (Niagara/ON) says:

    Had to send you a quick note….I now have all the plates for a place setting for 6, teapot, creamer and sugar, cereal bowls and berry bowls…..Rose Chintz by Johnson Brothers, inspired by your table settings.
    I drove four hours away to pick them up, from facebook marketplace ad I found. I met a lovely grand-niece of the owner of the dishes, and I got to explain how special these dishes are, as my favourite author has them as well. Your story is shared again! I love kindred spirits!
    And then ! Driving home I stopped at a thrift store and found a wonderful book, “Vineyard Harvest”…..and there you were again, quoted on the book cover !
    Pure Bliss Susan.

  20. Fran from Michigan says:

    So nice to see another Willard. You to sure lead an exciting life, what a cute little cottage, are you going to buy someplace else to stay when you visit California? Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in 2024.

  21. Nancy Brown says:

    Hello Susan,
    I am so happy that I can shop again. I just pre ordered the Tea Party and Queen Elizabeth II tea cups, and the heart tea strainer spoon. While reading Willard I clicked to read about the Sisters at Holy Nativity in Brookline. While scrolling through to that portion of the 2016 Willard I saw your neighbor Martha’s Black Cherry Cheesecake. I could have licked the screen. It just oozes decadence, flavor and is just plain gorgeous!! My question, which you can probably already guess, is, ” Would Martha be willing to share the recipe with girlfriends, like ME! ” ? I showed my husband and he literally drooled.😄
    On another note I want to share a wonderful read that is also available on Audible. A new friend, Heidi Chiavaroli is a wonderful award winning , local (Swansea , MA) author who wrote The Tea Chest.. She blends historical women with a contemporary counterpart. Her research is based on the Boston Tea Party 1773 and the US Navy Seals present day. It is an expertly written timeslip novel. I highly recommend it to you since the anniversary is still so fresh in your mind, and the fact that you have chosen to memorialize the event on a tea cup, this book just begs to be read.
    Another favorite which you will love is Orchard House, using Louisa May Alcott;s home as the setting . I’ll let you Google her. Have fun.
    I do hope that Martha will share her recipe!! It would be a lovely Valentine’s Day dessert.❤️ Be still MY heart.
    Have a blessed week. Good luck with your house sale too!

  22. Elizabeth Cafarella says:

    I posted this comment a while ago, but maybe it got lost. Trying again:

    Dear Susan,

    Reading your books feels like a getting warm hug from a dear friend. You have many things in common with my mother – she was also born in 1947, she is the second oldest of six children, and she learned to cook in the very happy kitchen of her beloved mother. But even though you are my mother’s age, I feel so much kinship with you because I think your messages are timeless. I absolutely love the joy I find in simple pleasures like a vase of flowers, snuggles with our dog, decorating for the holidays, baking with my kids, going for walks outdoors, and travel. I am so impressed by the courage you showed in setting out on your own and forging a new life for yourself when you left California. Everyone has at one time felt loneliness, or questioned what to do with their lives, and your books are such an inspiration. So thank you, Susan, for being brave, for putting beauty out into the world, and for sharing all the lovely little things with us. – Elizabeth in Connecticut

    I forgot to add one more thing I love about you and your books – the importance of GIRLFRIENDS! While I am very happily married, I could not survive without the support and laughter provided by my girlfriends. So cheers to that!! xo

  23. Jill says:

    I’m catching up on my Willards. Things have been a little difficult lately, and it’s SO NICE to have something so cheerful to read. I know this Willard is older and you might not see it, but I have to make a comment on your description of “Pickwick’s Papers.” When you called it a “long nutty kind of a book,” my mind immediately went to the movie “Dinner at Eight.” Jean Harlow tells Marie Dressler she’s been “reading a nutty kind of a book that says machines will replace everything.” Marie Dressler looks her up and down and says, “My dear, that’s something YOU’LL never need to worry about.” Priceless! And priceless the laugh you gave me. Thank you.

  24. Suzette Shoulders says:

    I have been worried about you and Joe being in San Luis Obispo , since the weather news is all about the big ‘atmospheric river’ hitting California, and SLO county is one of the places about to be hit hard! I hope you will all be safe there! hugs from central Oregon, where it is snowing like mad, Suzette

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