Our beaches are getting quiet, waves roll onto the shore, then out to sea, as they have done since the beginning of time.

In my old house, in my world of things that dwell in the heart, the light is changing . . . it sifts through the trees, making leafy shadows that shimmer across the kitchen walls, flickering over tomatoes ripening on the window sill. The light brings back a memory, the echo of my mom and me when I was around ten, doing dishes, she’s washing and I’m drying, the light is coming in from the screen door, and we’re singing,

"I’m a little cauliflower, growing wilder by the hour, no one cares to cultivate me, I’m as wild as wild can be . . . Second verse, the same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse... "

We sang it over and over, louder and louder, laughing more and more, practically screaming, not thinking about the open door, until we suddenly heard my dad shout from where he was working in the backyard, "SHUT UP!" Our mouths clapped shut. We looked at each other, wide-eyed in shock, and then we started giggling. Then we whisper-sang it. My mom was my first girlfriend. (She's in good health, but doesn't remember much anymore. So I do it for her.)

When I walk through my kitchen, I feel the past, sturdy and sure . . . and when I worry for the future, I remember one of my favorite quotes ~ this, from 1859:

Just like now. Our modern culture is always pushing us to hurry, move fast, go-go-go, but not here on our tiny island where often it feels like time has stopped. In our little corner of the world it’s the best of times, the season of light, the spring of Hope, the age of wisdom, and everyone's going to heaven! Summer’s winding down and all signals point to my favorite time of year. Go get a cup of tea Girlfriends, come back, settle in, I have so much to tell you!

Hello Weehawken, New Jersey! Hello Great Falls, Montana! Hello Saskatoon, Saskatchewan! Pip-Pip Far Sawrey, England; And you too, Lincoln, Alabama! Howdy Espoo, Finland; Hello Girlfriends in Jerusalem, Israel; Tokyo, Japan; Corsica, Italy; Gordonsville, Tennessee; Plaisir Île-de-France, Paris; Gulfport, Mississippi; Trondheim, Norway; Tipperary, Ireland; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Christchurch, New Zealand; Ogden, Utah; White Horse, Yukon Territory; Cayman Islands; Ellsworth, Maine; Eastbourne, E. Sussex; San Simeon, California; and of course, Hello Aylesbury, England!

I know exactly where you are because when Willard goes out there is a website with an interactive map of the world, and as each Willard is dropped into your email boxes, a pin falls onto the spot, then, in real time, a tiny window opens to tell me where it's landed and who the recipient is ~ and then! Poof! Those pins disappear as the new ones arrive! It is the most hypnotic thing in the world, the pins falling from the sky like rain, landing in every country, almost 60,000 of you now. I could never have imagined this. I see names I recognize! I’m probably watching it right now! I probably saw your name! Hi!

The days are getting shorter . . . when I climb the stairs to take Joe his tea at 6am, it’s still dark! That’s new! It's green and full on the road where we walk every day, but there’s a weariness to the leaves, they're getting tired, hanging low and dusty, exhausted from the heat of summer. The sun-splotched dirt road is edged in goldenrod and sprinkled with wild asters, simple country weeds that light up the woods, breezy now with woodsmoke from early morning fires from the fishing shacks by the water. Summer people are beginning to leave and we are getting our island back.


I take my scissors out across the lawn to my kitchen garden, and bend among the bees and butterflies to cut a few marigolds for the vase on the ledge above my kitchen sink. Orange is the perfect color just now, goes good with all the blue stuff in my kitchen. It’s quiet here. The wooden screen door slams hollowly behind me. Tommy Dorsey’s horn plays softly from the speakers in the dining room. A breeze moves the kitchen curtains. Jack drops a rubber band at my feet and I shoot it across the kitchen for him. Another ordinary day, I feel so lucky. Give me ordinary please. It was my dream to live in an old house, a house that other families had lived in. I made Blueberry Corncakes this morning in my kitchen that smells like 200 years of pancake batter, with wild berries we gathered on our walk through the woods, crisp-edged, with butter and heated maple syrup. The perfect kind of ordinary day, where every moment is special. It feels like forever, but we all know it’s not. Time passes, everything goes by, but not without notice or remembrance. Not without recognition of the beauty.


When I was little, fall was so exciting, jump-up-and-down-thrilling really . . . all about new shoes, a clean notebook, the smell of lined paper and fresh pencils my dad sharpened with a kitchen knife for back-to-school. As a grownup, I still feel the same thrill, because it’s the most creative part of the year, only now, instead of school, I feel a powerful impulse to redecorate and make things! Wash my cupboards, change the pillows on the sofa, hang bunting in the kitchen, put out my wooden candle holders, bake tea bread, set a pretty table, watch a wonderful old movie, read a new book! Home is the most creative place I know, the sky's the limit.

I’ve been painting too, new art for the September page of my 2019 calendar (believe it or not!), so fall has been on my mind.

Ahile I (try to) work, this is the look I get from Jack.

I’m busy making leaf butters to keep in the freezer . . .

Ond speaking of butter (a subject close to my heart and even closer to what I laughingly call my waistline), there’s a new one I have to tell you about (at least it’s new to us) ~ our market just got it. It comes from Belgium wrapped in thick white paper, and is called Les Prés Salés. Have you seen it? I hope your market carries it because it’s SO ridiculously good, like no butter I’ve ever had! I put thin, cold slices on saltines! OMG. I even slice teeny bits off with a knife and just lick it ~ because it’s got sea salt in it! It’s a danger to itself and others, mainly me. I normally do not lick butter. Be forewarned!

Ohen I first started writing my WILLARD's, back when they were snail mail, it was basically to answer the question I was always being asked and could no longer answer in individual letters, “What’s New?” And that’s what I still try to answer in every newsletter. . . so here goes!

First off, as some of you already know (as much as I love an ordinary day) I always try to have something special on the calendar to look forward to. And my calendar is already beautifully marked for next year ~ because I will finally get to use my new purse (a Christmas gift last year from Kellee and Sheri at the Studio) for the first time! I’ve been saving it! Saving it for the next time I walk into the dining room of an ocean liner and casually put it on the table as I sit down with the other passengers for dinner. "Oh, thank you," I will say to the throngs of purse-luster-afterers, noting greenness in eyes, "it was a gift.” Yes! We are going to England again . . . and Ireland! I already spilled the beans about the trip on my Blog, but just in cases you haven't read it, I wanted to say it again, to make sure all my Willard people know too.

Remember the BYO Picnic-Basket Party we had in Stourhead in England last September? (If not, click there, and see the photos toward the bottom.) We're going to do it again! Mark your calendars for next spring, May 11, 2018, at noon o'clock. Because, once again, you're all invited! We'll be meeting as many of our Girlfriends as possible, whoever can come, from everywhere! And because of serendipity and wild stretches of the imagination, this time we will be spreading our picnic blankets on the lawn across the meadow from Hill Top, in the garden of Castle Cottage, in Far Sawrey, in the Lake District, where Beatrix Potter lived for 30 years with her husband Willie Heelis! I'm not kidding!

We will walk where she walked and be where she was, and sit where she drank her tea, amongst the bluebells and the frolicking lambs. And we want you all to join us. Joe will be there, and all your Fairy Tale Guys are invited too. And if you can't come in person, then you will just have to join us virtually . . . I'll take tons of photos, and post the whole thing on my Blog, and take you all along, on the ship, to England, to Ireland, and to the picnic too, tucked into our basket, but only if you promise not to eat all the stuffed eggs.

My girlfriends from the Beatrix Potter Society, American Betsy Bray, and English Mandy Marshall (who actually lives at Castle Cottage, and will be our hostess there) will be leading a luv-lee Lake District Tour next May that will culminate at the Picnic ~ it's limited space and will be announced next month in Pottering About (the Beatrix Potter Society e-Newsletter), but you, my darlings, are the FIRST to know ... leave your name on Betsy’s site for first-come-first-serve and learn more HERE . . .

Also, we've had several requests on my Blog to connect Girlfriends who want to come, but would like a kindred-spirit Traveling Partner ~ such a good idea! So, that’s exactly what we’re doing: Here's how: 1.) Go to my Facebook Page (FOSB) and leave a comment that you are looking for a Traveling Partner for the BYO Picnic-Basket Party at Castle Cottage on May 11, 2018. 2.) Suggest that interested parties private-message you to connect. (Please don't put your personal contact info on FOSB ... your privacy is important.) 3.) Check your messages for contacts ~ and be sure to check your "other" messages, which are messages from people you are not Facebook friends with (yet). 4.) Watch for posts from other FOSB who are looking for a Traveling Companion. Don’t be shy, be brave, take a chance, be ready for adventure, make contact, private message them! Then get busy and make your reservations. Manchester airport is closest to the Lake District, but there are also trains from London. Okay, you are on your own from here! Hope to see you there. Us, from all over the world, converging on Castle Cottage, it’s BeaStock 2018!

We are so looking forward to another visit to England, our wonderful picnic is just the beginning! There are still so many places in England we haven't seen yet. And we’ve never been to Ireland!

We’ve been planning, look at this darling thatched-roof cottage we rented for two weeks! It has two fireplaces! That’s my main criteria this time, a wood-burning fireplace wherever we go! Isn't it adorable? We’re getting organized! I promise to show you around the minute we go through the front door! Oh boy, so much to look forward to: traveling by ship, to tiny villages filled with history, through wildflower-scattered hedgerows (MUSICA playing in car) for tea in proper china teapots with proper crumpets and proper jam ~ and tall sparkling glasses of Pear Cider, lambs, and leprechauns and long walks along ancient paths under pink blooming apple trees through old gardens ~ and the entire thing, all handmade. As we get more details of our itinerary I'll let you know on the Blog. We are back to full dream-mode again, indulging our harmless passions, living happily-ever-after, in the ordinary-extraordinary way, one day at a time. Come along!

And yes, I'll be designing a special edition Castle Cottage Cup to memorialize this wonderful trip. To go with the ones so many of you already have! With bluebells and lambs! I love that you’re happy with your cups! Thank you for letting me know! I ordered a few extra this time . . .

I think we may have about 100 left of most designs . . . in case you need fall and holiday gifts . . . if you don’t already have one, you can go to my web store to see the art on the backs, handles and bottoms of each. I’m about to go into the Studio and design a whole new collection, coming in January.

I designed wrapping paper to go with all of the cups, available on Spoonflower.

My 2018 Calendars have arrived, filled with watercolored celebrations for each month, according to the season, with constant reminders of the little things that make an ordinary day so sweet. This year we have the wall calendar, the mini, the purse calendar and the large desk blotter.

I’m so happy because I finally finished making the Vintage Recipe Boxes I've been working on for so long, Check!

I’ve been inspired ever since I found a little wooden box filled with handwritten recipes in an antique store. I bought it immediately of course, reminded of what our favorite recipes meant to our family, the memories ~ Spareribs and Juice written in my mom's handwriting, Molasses Cookies in my grandma's handwriting, and now mine ~ they’re family history.

It made me sad that this unique scrapbook-in-a-box was lost to the family it belonged to. Like old quilts, the recipe cards in that box weren't signed, but they carried the same family magic that happens with most handmade things. So I adopted it. And ever since, I've been on a recipe-box rescue mission in every second-hand store I visit.

I also collected old boxes that had no cards in them, mostly wood, but some tin . . . I asked my parents for recipes in their handwriting, and put them in the boxes along with recipe cards I had from my Grandma, and made boxes for my sisters and nieces ~ I added photos and other bits of family history and surprised them at Christmas a few years ago.

And each time Joe and I drove back and forth across the country for book signings, I kept collecting boxes, most with cards and some without, and stacking them onto the shelves in my Studio.

Then during the big Studio-clean-up last month, I decided to take time out to make the boxes I'd always planned to do for YOU. So that's what I did and Kellee is putting them in our web store right now. There are only 13 in all, no two are alike, each has different original handwritten recipes with vintage divider cards. I signed a special little gift card for each one, and put in words to one of my favorite songs. Each of them is a truly unique, one-of-a-kind piece of original art, like a starter-kit-recipe-box ~ with plenty of room for you to add special family recipe cards and photos of your own ~ they also make a charming kitchen display.

I did this divider card with the funny quote for a recipe box I made for my mom in 1979 . . . and hadn't seen it since, until this spring! So I copied it and added it to some of the boxes. I hope you love them. They’re in our web store now, click HERE.

Speaking of cooking in this creative time of year . . . we have recently reprinted two of my cookbooks. First, Autumn from the Heart of the Home is back, filled with homey ideas for fall, for the guest room, for decorating and entertaining. Delicious tried and true recipes include Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Sauce (best in world), chewy Brownies so good, they become part of childhood memories, Touchdown Chili to die for, Cinnamon Ice Cream, and Red Chili Onion Rings. (I have to stop, I'm making myself drool. But I come from a drooling family, so it's normal.)

I made you a little bit of art in the form of a fall bookmark to celebrate the season . . . just click here and print it on card stock. You can have it laminated if you want . . . they make nice little stocking stuffers.

Also, we did a reprint of the 30th Anniversary edition of my very first book Heart of the Home ~ my recipe for Blueberry Corncakes is in this one, and recipes for jewel-colored Cranberry Tea Cake, the famous Ohio County Fair Award-Winning, melt-in-your-mouth "Best Biscuits" (to slather with honey butter and serve with your chicken dinners), and my favorite one-dish meal of roasted Apples, Sweet Potatoes and thick, stuffed Pork Chops. Plus an amazing flakey pie crust, courtesy of my own Grandma.

One more book came out in May, called, appropriately for this lovely season coming up, Gratitude. It's a book of quotes that celebrate our most wonderful human emotion . . . a happiness-maker, count-your-blessings gift book. Signed copies of all three books are available HERE. Which brings me to another little surprise . . .

You can win all of this! In Autumn celebration, come to my website at www.susanbranch.com, go to the bottom of the post, you’ll see some very tiny words . . . click on "comments." Leave a comment and you'll be entered in a drawing to win all three books, plus my new Autumn bone-china cup and delicious Gingerbread-Cake Tea (my own concoction of black tea with cinnamon, orange peel and cloves, screams autumn!). We’ll have the drawing on the Blog in a week or so and let the winner know by email.

And due to popular demand, we have remade some of our past Dream Charms! Yay! In case you missed them, there are more Autumn charms and Fine Romance Charms, and Be An Elf came in just in time for this Willard ~ each comes on it’s own little dream card.

I’m still working on other dishes, cookie plates, tea bag caddies, lots of things ~ and you know how I love “little vases” ~ I’m having fun making my own, here’s a teeny one I just designed. Still waiting to see how the color looks on these pieces, the first collection with any new company always takes the longest. I will let you know as we get closer, I want you to be surprised.
Last but not least, in response to your patient requests, I’m happy to announce that we have a reprint of my book Christmas Memories coming in October! This is the book that has five years of Christmases in it . . . it’s a guided memory book, with places for pictures of five years of your Christmas trees, five years of Christmas dinners, even five years of family New Year's Resolutions, and so much more . . . a homemade treasure when it’s done ... where you watch your family grow up! Christmas Memories is available for pre-order, reserve your copy HERE. Like all the books that come from our Studio, this one will be signed.
Well, Girlfriends, off I go! Don’t forget to leave a comment for the drawing at www.susanbranch.com. Enjoy the last of the juicy plums and peaches, put a scoop of vanilla ice-cream into the cavity of a ripe cantaloupe, chow down on sweet corn and garden tomatoes, pick berries and make jam for your pantry and freeze a fruit pie for the holidays . . . summer is slipping into the forever realm of memory, don’t forget to celebrate the blessings of the moment. All 60,000 of you Girls, you kindred spirits, stop now, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say a little prayer for our beautiful world.

Take heart, beloveds. If the state of the world keeps you up at night, you are not alone, do what we do: drink.

If all else fails, have faith in five o’clock.

Mark your calendars for the Harvest moonrise on September 6.

I think I could ramble all day . . . but you have a life! So, I leave you with THIS. So us.