Happy to Be Home

Hello my darling girls … I can NOT begin to tell you how happy I am to be home. I’m going to put on some ★ MUSICAfor us . . .
This is the view from out the windows over my kitchen sink.  It’s good to go away for three months, then when you get home you are extra grateful with cup runnething over all over the place.  Alive!  Alive!  We made it home alive!  We were living as birds on a wire out there.  The big wheelers and oil trucks did not kill us after all!  We did not slip off the road into a ditch.  The house is still here!  My cozy quilts, candles, the stove!  The cooking!  The cats!  The TV clicker we know how to work!  Nothing changed!  A long delicious winter is coming.  Downton Abbey is coming!  Very happy . . . but we were tired.  It was a long trip ~ we didn’t realize how long until we stopped.  We’ve been going to bed early, smooshing in our cold bedroom with rattling windows under big feathery quilts.  Last night for dinner we had chicken soup, a wedge of ice-cold iceberg lettuce with chopped tomatoes and creamy-lumpy blue cheese on it, and a big sweet potato.  In front of the fire, all quiet and crackling, log falling, embers breaking.  It’s freezing here.  We ate the skin on the potato too, because it was organic ~ I buttered and salted it and I cooked it hot at 425° so the skin would caramelize a little bit and be extra flavorful and we didn’t have to put any extra butter on it because it already tasted so sweet and good.  It wasn’t fast food.  It wasn’t something from our ice chest.  It was real!  The heat from our stove warmed the kitchen.  We are coming to ourselves again, and this Friday is the big yearly Christmas dance our friends have given at the yacht club every year since 1979.  So in addition to sleeping, napping, unpacking, eating right, playing with Jack and Girl and getting organized, I’ve been trying to figure out what to wear.  So far it’s a ballet-length black taffeta full skirt, with short boots, a v-neck beaded velvet top and a separate  brown fur peter pan-type collar.  The goal is to look as good as possible, but even more than that, to be warm.  The secret is in the jewelry which is lots of shiny jet beads and gold earbobs in the manner of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.  This party gets so crowded no one sees you from the neck down anyway. I keep threatening to wear my jammie bottoms and shearling slippers with my velvet top and jewelry.  No one would notice. But that’s the outfit, unless I change my mind.  The earbobs are a for-sure.  Right now I’m typing with one dark reddish brown fingernail . . . trying out the color for the outfit.  Ladeedah, ladeedah.  The life of a person with a house, a bathroom and closets.  Today, we are going to the movies.  Buttered popcorn at 3:45 ~ a matinee, my favorite!  We’re going to see About Time.  I hear we’re going to love it, don’t tell me if you’ve seen it ~ not until tomorrow.
I had a really nice thing happen the other day.  I was asked to do an interview by Jennifer Carroll who has an online magazine called Celebrating Everyday Life
(what’s not to love about that title).  She asked the best questions, about A FINE ROMANCE, but she covered lots of other topics too, like “who would you have for dinner if you could have anyone?” I liked that question!  Had to think!  I answered them as best I could, and then I thought, this would make a nice post for the blog. I think she’s planning to run the interview in January or February, I’ll be sure to let you know… in the meantime here’s the preview for you, my Girlfriends . . . some of you will recognize these answers, but so many people are writing to say they just found my books or my blog … we have new Girlfriends, and this is especially for them . . .  here goes: 
Jennifer: When did your love of England begin?
me:  Little by little, mostly through reading, art and seeing old movies, clues of interest kept coming up.  
England is an “empire of imagination.”  I think we crossed this bridge in our car!
But those clues were like the lambs scattered on the sides of English hills, one here, one there, they did not come in a clump.  My mind was slowly cataloguing them.  Over time I became more and more curious about the culture, then about the history and learning about my English ancestors as I discovered them.
It was a very slow unfolding, but after seeing my first English garden and realizing there were hundreds of them all attached to ancient castles, cottages and manor houses; realizing I could visit and even stay at some of the homes of my literary and artistic heroes . . .
. . . seeing the countryside where all the history I’d read about came alive because it’s all still there, nothing has changed; learning more about the interesting lives of people I’ve known from their art and writings, and then the surprise and serendipity of learning about people and lives I’d never heard of before (but should have), I became more and more enthralled more and more inspired.  Each time we have gone over, we found ourselves deeper in love and always learning something new.
Jennifer: A Fine Romance – what was the creative process of writing and illustrating the book like?
me:  I wrote the whole book while we were traveling for the two months in England, as a diary, one day at a time as it unfolded, mostly while we sat in gardens and pubs.  
Sometimes I would paint at night.  When we came home to Martha’s Vineyard, I rewrote it in my good writing, and put in the photos of the Queen Mary 2, of Beatrix Potter’s House, of the gardens and pubs; I drew the maps, tested the recipes, and added more watercolors.  As always with all my books, I just work one page at a time and try to make each page as interesting, fun to read, and as informative and pretty as I can.
 
It’s a joy, I’ve been so lucky because I love to make things, and I love to share my passions with other like-minded people.  Beauty is the very best of life.  I love to try and make some to add to all there is.
Jennifer: A Fine Romance has been a runaway hit. Can you tell us your favorite part of being a bestselling author and what has been your biggest challenge in the journey?
me: When Joe and I decided to go to England and keep a diary of the trip, we decided to take all my “blog girlfriends” with us.  I told them in a blog posting to get their passports ready and lose some weight, because we were going to
Every one of these chaise lounges had a Girlfriend on it, but they were so careful — I got out the camera and turned around, boom, they were gone.  We did not get caught.
smuggle them aboard the Queen Mary 2 and take them along with us to England and they needed to be as tiny as possible.  We would hide them in a lifeboat.  It was the joke that ran through all the postings of the trip ~ that they were being so “good and quiet” and no one knew they were all smooshed into our stateroom with us.  They complained sometimes about being “packed so tightly” in our suitcases as we moved from place to place and about having mash lines on their faces, but they handled all the folding and unfolding very well, and were very quiet when room service came. They liked to dance, and one of them fell into a river on a walk to Ellen Terry’s house, but we all returned safe and sound with memories galore.  Whenever I took pictures for the blog (and the future book) I always thought, “What can I show them?  What would they like to see?”
What will make them laugh, or cry or go ahhh, or go OH! ~ and that awareness of them made it even more fun for me.  Previously, I’d written all my books totally alone in my studio with kitties to keep me company.  This time I had a whole group of Girlfriends cheering me on.  That was my favorite part.  When the book was finished, it was “our book.”
 I can’t think of any real challenges except
. . .  of course, as I am reminding Joe in this photo, the phone never worked while we were there.
Jennifer: What is your favorite region of England? Why?
me: This question is kind of impossible because it’s shockingly beautiful almost every place you go.  But, I will say the Yorkshire Dales put a thrill from the tips of my toes to the top of my head . . . positively spiritual with a strong feeling of coming home, tears-in-eyes beauty, the history and sweep of it all.  As the wind blows fragrance of wildflower, rain and grass across the vastness of the Dales and the lambs are baaaaing high on a hill, you want to open your arms to the view and draw it all into your heart to keep it there forever.
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Jennifer: You’ve also published several cookbooks. What first drew you to cooking?
me: I helped my mom by making desserts when I was very young, brownies and potato chip cookies for sack lunches for my brothers and sisters.  But, really, it was setting the table that truly got me going.
  I just loved to set the table, mixing and matching old china dishes, etched colored glasses, putting flowers from my garden in little vases, lace-edged napkins, or the ones I would embroider myself, mixing and matching bowls and silverware, lighting candles and making it pretty.  It was like playing house.  But then, it was difficult to get people to come look at my pretty table without food on it.  They simply did not care.  So I learned to cook.  And loved the art of it, combining recipes, flavors and trying new things.  
And when I walked into the room carrying a homemade banana cream pie with the flakiest crispiest crust, rolled out on my kitchen table with my wooden rolling pin, just like my Grandma made
with sugared whipped cream and bananas and toasted coconut, my friends would go, “OH MY, look at that, you are wonderful Susan, yum yum yum ~ and the table by the way, it looks so beautiful!”  They made me feel so good, I couldn’t wait to do it again. It was the first time I really felt like I had something I could give.  It was one of the ways I began to notice it was the little things that made life sweetest.
Later writing books, hoping I could help others experience that wonderful feeling when they brought a homemade banana cream pie into the room, became my passion.
Jennifer: What do you consider your “go-to” dish?
me: With all the cookbooks I’ve written, there are so many recipes that are go-to for me.  My Mom’s Spare-ribs and Juice with Onion Pudding (I’m the oldest of eight children so my books have lots of home type dishes) . . .
. . . always has them rolling in the aisles from happiness.  I also have the best Apple Crisp recipe alive in the modern world as we know it today.  I’ve tested them wherever I go (a rotten job but someone must do it), and this is a true thing if I do say so myself.  Also, crisp-skinnedroasted chicken with my Grandma’s Bread Stuffing.  I really could go on all day.  A big one-dish casserole of Pork Chops, Apples, and Sweet Potatoes.  Cold White Rice Salad scattered with fresh flowers and herbs.  My roasted Cranberry Sauce mixed with Orange Marmalade for toast and tea.  In my new book, A FINE ROMANCE, there’s a recipe from my English girlfriend Siobhan.  It’s her Orange Lavender Polenta Cake, moist with the little crunchy bits, it’s gluten-free and it serves about 24 people so it’s perfect for a tea party.  You would like the recipe?  Oh yes!
Jennifer: Tell me a little about your ideal day at home?
me: I go into my studio very early before it gets light. I close my eyes and meditate and count my blessings which is a good way to start because it usually brings on a bout of ecstaticness. I have my tea and maybe it’s snowing outside and all I can hear is the furnace humming and the patter of snowflakes on the window.  I swirl my watercolor brush in water then load it with paint, put it on paper, and watch the color spread.  I write in my diary, make a list or work on a new book.  Later, I take Joe his tea, the snow melts and we put on our big jackets, mittens and hats and walk out to the water through the woods (we live on an island so there’s lots of woods and lots of water) . . .
We come home and eat a healthy breakfast. I shoot ponytail bands across the room for my kitty Jack and he retrieves them; we do this about a hundred times.  I take my book to lunch, sit at a corner table next to a fire, eat and read.  Then a nap.  Then a bubble bath.  Then Joe and I make dinner together and friends come over and we laugh and drink wine.  
I normally don’t get all those things in one day, a nap and a bubble bath and lunch with my book?  Not all on the same day.  But those are the things I love best and you said ideal.  I have red letter days, red letter weeks, etc. Where I get to do the things I love in moderation.
Jennifer: What’s your favorite way to make ‘an everyday’ feel special?
me:  Everyday ~ perfect for your magazine!  I would say the Bubble Bath.  With the book.  Then the diary, and of course the kitties and Joe make every day special.
Jennifer: Describe your favorite celebration…
me: I love Valentine’s Day.  I do think it was invented for women, so I like to make sure all my Girlfriends feel loved on that day.  I also love to give Tea Parties.  There are so many creative things you can do with decorating the table! I’m a Christmas person too… I don’t think there is a holiday I don’t like!  I like non-holidays too, which all seem to revolve around winter and breakfast.  Sunday breakfast in bed.  Winter breakfast parties with friends.
Jennifer: Can you share your philosophy when it comes to entertaining?
me: I go by the six senses.  Does it smell good, look good, sound good, feel good and taste delicious?  (The sixth sense is Imagination.)  If all those bases are covered, you can’t ask for any more.  Hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows in front of a crackling fire, dinner under the arbor draped with twinkle lights in the garden, cinnamon spice wafting from the oven, old music playing, if the church bells ring across the street, then it’s perfect. Most important to remember: It’s not what’s on the plate that counts, it’s what’s on the chairs.  Your friends and family.  A party is a gift you give the ones you love.
Jennifer: If you could have anyone in the world over for dinner, who would it be?
me: What a wonderful question.  I would like Albert Einstein to talk about the spiritual side of his life ~ put his elbows on the table, start talking and not stop until he told it all. I know a little but not enough.  I’d love a dinner with Elizabeth von Arnim to hear how she was inspired to write her first book (Elizabeth and Her German Garden).  I would like Beatrix Potter to talk to me about her childhood.  I would love to get caught in a big nor’easter storm with Gladys Taber where the electricity goes off and we light candles and make baked apples in the embers of the fireplace while shadows dance on the wall from the flames.  I would love a fashion-show tea party where Diane Keaton models everything she’s ever worn — at the end Greta Garbo would come out wearing the dress she wore in Ninotchka (the white off-the-shoulder sparkly one, the prettiest in all movie history) ~ while Frank Sinatra (preferably with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra) sings It’s Always You. 
One date with Mark Twain, lunch on a rainy afternoon, just the two of us, elbow to elbow, at the Plaza Hotel in New York. That’s the young Sam → in that photo.  (I would probably come home and write “Susan Clemens, Mrs. Sam Clemens” a hundred times in my notebook, wondering will he call?  Which he won’t because there are no phones, maybe he will write!).  After the Plaza, I’d jump through time to pass a tray of orangey-cherryish Old Fashioned’s to everyone at the Algonquin Round Table in the 1920′s (the way to be popular with this crowd, but never saying a word, only listening and praying not to be disillusioned.  It’s always dangerous for dreams to truly come true, you take your chances, imagination is a wonderful thing and perhaps all is best left there; in some cases the dream itself might be enough).  And that’s all.  I’ll just leave you with a few words of wisdom from the genius who should know all about it . . .
Well, I hope there was something of interest for you in this interview.  I may have gotten slightly carried away with the dinner parties!  Oh well, must get ready to go to the movies . . . bubble bath first, on quest for a red letter day and “being home.” Hope your day is going wonderfully.   Love you all! xoxo
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860 Responses to Happy to Be Home

  1. Jocelyn Gulseth says:

    Darling website and gorgeous tea set. Thanks for sending winter to Florida.

  2. Rhonda C. says:

    Susan Branch, I have been such a fan of your work for years. Thank you for doing what you do! Have a very Merry Christmas and a lovely New Year!

  3. Donna Williams says:

    Just love all the good things here. Most of all it brings back so many good memoies of cildhood and family. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

  4. ELLEN MADDOX says:

    I love all things Susan Branch!

  5. Laurie Coates says:

    Love this site. It is a “feel good”. Love the china tea set. Reminds me of my grandmother’s and mother’s engagement tea cups.

  6. Linda Bailey says:

    I love reading what you have written! The tea set you are giving away is absolutely beautiful! I plan to make the almond brittle recipe that you shared. Thank you so much! Have a very Merry Christmas and God bless you and your family!

  7. Cynthia Walkowski says:

    I love all things that are Susan Branch! Merry Christmas!

  8. Teresa Harral says:

    Love your blog, your books, your pictures and the lovely tea set. I felt I traveled with you on your book signing tour! Merry Christmas to you and your hubby and all your girlfriends and your furry critters! Love Ya Teresa Harral

    • carol schuldt says:

      Happy to be home reminds me that home is where our hearts are. Good memories and good people. God bless us, everyone.

  9. Valerie Nash says:

    I just love this blog site. It makes me think of my great grand mother who was from England. I learned from my great Aunts how to make a proper cup of tea. I have longed to go to England and see where my family was from. I used to have a english tea pot and it got broken when we moved out West, and haven’t been able to find another since. I just love that tea set!

  10. Hmmm.. which do i love more — homemade candy or tea on the loverlyest tea set ever? Well,
    hopefully I’ll just dip homemade brittle into a fabulous green teacup , crunch a bit and then say — i can’t choose- cuz, i don’t have to! Your blog is like going over to Grandma’s house on a winter afternoon after school. I come in the back kitchen door, stomp snow from my boots, unwrap my red scarf, feel Gram’s hug as she plants a warm, soft kiss on my cold pinched cheek, and then i spy homemade brittle on the oilclothed table. I’m home. Well, I never knew any of my grandparents but it is how I imagine i would have liked the experience to be. Thanks for filling in the heart holes with your fabulous fodder for wishful, overactive imaginations!

  11. Michele says:

    Squeal!!! I love surprises and stumbling onto Susan’s blog was my first surprise this morning. The possibility of winning the lovely gift is fun! Fun for whom ever wins! Thank you, this blog will be a delight to follow as each and every book Susan has offered has been to me!

  12. Margie says:

    I love Susans website. That tea set is adorable! Would love to win it!

  13. Janet Carlson says:

    JUST LOVELY!!! Your home is so warm & homey & inviting! Thank you for sharing with us! I have all of your books & ask for your next years calendar every year at Christmas. Very inspiring. Merry Christmas & a Happy New year to you! And the tea set would be just BRILLANT! :) xoxox

  14. Karen Stefanelli says:

    Oh Susan! What a wonderful gift giveaway! I was so happy for you when you posted what a lovely treasure you found on your trip. They looked so sweet in the sudsy bath. I am also a tea lover, and I am sure all of the girlfriends are! Good luck to everyone and thank you Susan for sharing your beautiful find!

    Always, Karen

    P.s Sugar or lemon?

  15. Beth Gagnon says:

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas joy with us!

  16. Melinda Mull says:

    Just what I needed, some magical inspiration.
    Thank you, Susan.

  17. Sally Rosellini says:

    What a darling page!! Love the charm and decor!

  18. Connie says:

    lovely!

  19. Jackie DiGiovanni says:

    What could be more perfect and soothing than a cuppa in the afternoon. I would love to enjoy my tea in one of your lovely cups. Thank you for this great giveaway!

  20. Kelsey says:

    Oh my goodness. That tea set it so cute – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that color of green. Yes, we have GREAT things in Oklahoma. I’m so happy that you took the time stop by and see our diverse state. I bet tea tastes better in the little tea pot. Such a wonderful remedy for a cold winter’s day. It was wonderful meeting you in Oklahoma City (I showed you the picture of a Santa Claus cookie). You signed a calendar for one of my friends on her birthday and let me tell you that she didn’t like it, she LOVED it. She felt so honored that you signed it for her and she will hang it proudly in her vintage kitchen complete with yellow stove that’s almost 70 years old! Have a Merry Christmas and I look forward to reading about your adventures in 2014.

  21. Connie Crew says:

    Oh Susan, you are just a joy! When I first found you through Heart of the Home and then Vineyard Seasons I marveled that there was someone like you in the world with such joy at her center. Thank you for sharing your passion and JOY with all of us, I’m grateful for you!

  22. linda st. onge says:

    I really love your website, it inspires me!!!

  23. Mary says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I love it when you take pictures and talk about what you’re eating and cooking like the wedge of lettuce with tomatoes with the “lumpy” bleu cheese dressing.

    I love the pictures of your dishes and decorating. I often find myself drooling when I see your dishes (I too, am a dish connoisseur). I converted an antique armoire into my dish closet (in addition to the buffet & China cabinet that also houses my treasures). I loved the picture of the dishes in the sink in the sudsy water. So cute. My dishes have swum many a lap in my sink.

    My cat Dolly has a crush on your cat Jack. She’s looking at his picture right now wondering what his email might be – is it JackCat@catnetwork.com? Or might it be Jack@curiousandsweet.com? Dolly is a Rag Doll cat that loves to help in the kitchen. She has a special fondness for the toaster, coffee maker and her best friend is my great-grandfather’s clock. She always knows when it’s going to sing. They have all sorts of conversations that only a clock and a cat can have.

    Thank you for your creativity and sharing it on your blog.

  24. Barb O'Rourke says:

    Very cute blog..enjoyed reading your story about china and brittle. Where do you find the time? Thanks for the inspiration! Merry Christmas!

  25. Ruth Thomas says:

    Isn’t daydreaming wonderful…..to think about who you would like to meet from the past. Mine would definitely include Queen Victoria and Jane Austen and John and Bobby Kennedy…..my list would go on and on like yours. But most of all I’d like to meet my ancestors, especially my great great grandfather, Adam Stoll, who emigrated here from Germany and was immediately thrown into the Civil War and drove the ambulance corps. My cousin and I have been doing genealogy and to see pictures of them and realize I am here because of them; that would be a real treat. Thank you Susan for including your “girlfriends” in your life – you enrich us all.

  26. Shannon Rimmelspacher says:

    Just pulled out my special cookbook of yours to do some Christmas baking. I love everything in it. Have a blessed holiday and thank you for all you do to make me smile. I remind my family when they are shopping to “smile” at everyone and make them smile along with you. Your right, it makes crowded stressful shopping so much nicer. That was the best advice ever!!

  27. Sharon Pitt says:

    I LOVE the china- thanks for the wonderful blog too, with all your pictures!

  28. sharon pitt says:

    Love the china-it’s beautiful!

  29. Just Joey says:

    Oh Susan…every time you post, I see or read something that takes me home….I grew up with your Johnson Brothers dishes, my sister had that same doggie bookend, I collect sheep and lambs (one of my favorites came from Hawes in England). While there we visited some of the same out-of-the-way places like you did that most people never see. This is just a wee bit of the things that strike a cord that binds….sometimes it blows my mind!
    So now I will manufacture a sameness and make your almond toffee…..never did that before. Merry Christmas to you and yours

  30. Andrea Virnau says:

    How fun, and beautiful and charming… Just like you!!!!

  31. Tonia Mallory says:

    So glad you are home now. Absolutely loved the new book …..made me feel as if I was there with you.:) Merry Christmas and God bless you. You are such a gem!

  32. Maryann Howell says:

    I love everything you do! I love your books and very much enjoy your recipes. My daughters do as well. We all look forward to your new calendar each year and the cute daily pocket ones. Last year my girlfriends all received your girlfriends book for Christmas, This year my girlfriends are all getting your book for Christmas! I got mine and spent my whole day happily absorbed in it. I made the little cornmeal cookies and enjoyed them with a hot cup of tea. They got a big thumbs up from my husband too. Please keep doing what your doing! love it so much!

  33. Carolyn Nunn says:

    Got a cup or two of hot tea and enjoyed reading all the news!! Makes for a happy start to the day…….

  34. Karen Hagen says:

    I love those dishes. I have a cup and saucer to match.

  35. Terri Goodman says:

    This blog is Susan Branch’s world and we are so honored to have her share it with us! Thank you Susan for all the beauty you add to our world. Have the merriest Christmas and the happiest of New Years to Susan and Joe and all girlfriends!

  36. Lana Tyner says:

    I wish!

  37. Lynn says:

    My Mom and I enjoy reading your delightful stories and viewing your beautiful photos and creative drawings on your web site. I just gave her your book “A Fine Romance” for her 79th birthday. Love the pretty tea set! So nice of you to share with your readers.

  38. Karen Ellis says:

    Susan, you have a wonderful, inspirational site. The tea set is absolutely beautiful. I can imagine wonderful tea parties with my daughter and friends.
    Have a very Merry Christmas!

  39. Kimberly says:

    You inspire me to the nth degree!!!! Love your products so much! Merry Christmas.

  40. Lisa Gustafson says:

    The tea set is beautiful, and I love the colors. Tuscan sounds Italian to me, like Tuscany, but I have never heard of it either. I collect teacups and teapots, but have only one full which is the royal flush pattern. My husband bought it for me when we lived in England.

  41. Elise Larsen says:

    Dear Susan,
    I love everything you write and how you do it, everything you say, from your heart to ours, and everything you color our world with. Thank you for being the inspiration that you are and for making a difference in our lives and in our world. You’re the best Girlfriend EVER! Love U

  42. Helen Blount says:

    I am so in love with your wonderful blogs. The tea set is lovely and I would love to own it and then pass it down to my sweet little granddaughter Kynlee who loves to have little tea parties…she is only 3 and such a delight! My ancestors owned a castle in England…and we have a hamlet named after us…”Harnage”
    My maiden name! Lovingly, Helen

    • sbranch says:

      Wow, a castle in England. I bet Kynlee and you could go visit it someday! And have tea in a pub your ancestors frequented.

  43. Oh please, dear Santa, getting this tea set is my Christmas magic request:)

  44. Melinda Langhorst says:

    ” To have a good friend is one of the greatest delights of life” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
    Just think of all of the many,many women you have delighted. Melinda

  45. I don’t think I ever saw a dish I didn’t like. Or a book, or a cat, or a piece of lace! But most of all Susan, it is your heart and hard work that makes your website and books so pleasurable. So with or without dishes, you have my gratitude.
    Merry Christmas

  46. Cherie Camacho says:

    I love Susan Branch! I was lucky enough to meet her and have my book signed. That was the best day ever!! Love the tea set!!

  47. I don’t think I ever saw a dish I didn’t like. Or a book, or a cat, or a piece of lace! But most of all Susan, it is your heart and hard work that makes your website and books so pleasurable. So with or without dishes, you have my gratitude.
    Merry Christmas

  48. Sharon Turner says:

    So glad to have found your website and FB page. I have enjoyed your cookbooks for many years – just looking at your stack of them – I have at least four :)
    Happy Holidays – from a tea drinker :)

  49. Linda Sherman says:

    I am enjoying your two Christmas books – Christmas Joy and Christmas from the heart of home…I am enjoying immensingly all the little notes throughout them Thank you for sharing these ideas and thoughts…they are still very real today.

  50. Diana Roper says:

    Absolutely beautiful tea set. This tea set reminds me if my geandma’s tea set that she had when she was young – she called it the “chocolate tea set”. So lovely!

  51. Diana Roper says:

    This is a beautiful tea set! My grandma & her sister were given a tea set when they were young that looks very similar to this. My mom tells me that they called it their “chocolate tea set”. Absolutely gorgeous!!

  52. Jan Lane says:

    I think my first post (#41), somehow got missed or perhaps I wrote too many words.
    Anyway, I think in order to have a chance to be picked as a winner by Vanna, I must have a post entered.
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your posts, seeing all of your adorable illustrations, listening to your MUSICA for the day, and hearing about all of the things we share as common interests.
    I am also an ardent anglophile as some of my family still live in Nottinghamshire, in a village called Southwell. We were there for 2 mos. last year, during Christmas, and all through January.
    I love to hear about your travels through the English countryside. It is comforting to be surrounded with the memories.
    The tea set which you found on your travels through the U.S. is so lovely. I would love to have the chance to add it to my collection of tea things. I can just imagine sipping a cuppa Earl Grey and munching on a scone with Devonshire cream and jam with my lovely sister in law, Carol. We both follow your blog and share all of your interests.
    Have a Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  53. Paula LaMont says:

    I am so happy your home and can’t wait to get my tea set!, I am sure it’s mine. Merry Merry Christmas and thank you for all the fun and joy you have brought me this year with a Fine Romance and your blog posts!!!

  54. Mary says:

    Pick me Vanna! Perfect for tea while reading A Fine Romance!

  55. Joy says:

    I have always been charmed by your art and talent. I LOVE these dishes! They remind me especially this time of year of travels to her house and how she used the fine china! It was always important to her that we have the best though she financially struggled , you would never have known and I didn’t until after she passed in her 80s . Such grace and these remind me of that! Thanks for sharing!

  56. Sandra Close says:

    I have all of your books and some pansy fabric of yours from maybe 12 years ago. I love it so much I can’t use it! I wish you would do some more florals on fabric or tea cups. I’ve been buying Tea cups since I was 10! Love your Tea set.
    Sandy

  57. Carol Werner says:

    Hi Susan! I love everything you do!! I love the exact same things! What a great idea for the tea set giveaway. I was reading & admiring them & the rest of the pictures you posted. I can’t wait to order your new book. I am sooo excited, I better shut up. Merry Christmas to you & Joe!!!

  58. Julie Bash says:

    love your tea set find! looked up to see if I could find the name of the patter…it reminds me of one I founds on Replacements…I have got to remember the name, it had the same pretty green borders with gold, but the blossoms looked different from Tuscan. I too am a dish person! My sister and I both love dishes and we learned it from Mom. What can I say, tea, dishes, the small pretty things that give us a cozy up element for any part of the day or eve to savor life, to reinvent, to treasure. Thanksgivings and sweet joys! Merry Christmas time**

  59. nancie dunn says:

    love the blog and would love to have the fabulous green china!!

  60. Elizabeth Mehrman Lanord says:

    I love your adventures, pictures, recipes and musings, Susan !! So glad my cousin, John Dutton, recommended your page :)

  61. S. Mullen says:

    Can’t wait to read your book. I too collect tea sets; it is fun to host a tea party and bring ‘em out to play. Happy Christmas!

  62. christine (london) says:

    Dear susan, wishing you and everyone a happy Christmas from london

  63. Melissa Witzel says:

    Love your trips, recipes, kitties, and pictures. They take me to a lovely place no matter how rushed and crazy a day. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  64. Peggy Leutheuser says:

    Merry Christmas Susan – from sunny Florida:) Beautiful tea set, would love to add to my tea cup collection!

  65. Gail Hasbrouck says:

    Susan, you are a kindred spirit. I recently discovered your book and since have bought 5 more for my kindred girlfriends. The tea set is adorable!

  66. Stephanie Tomasi says:

    Cant think of a better way to spend time waiting for my car in service than to spend it on your site. I love all your stories and pictures. I would be beyond thrilled if I were to win your give away. Your site is a true gift. Happy Holidays.

  67. Susan Webb says:

    Love the tea set! What a delightful gift to share.

  68. julie lewis says:

    Merry Christmas thank you for the joy you have brought to so many of us.

  69. Cindy Neveras says:

    Merry Christmas Susan! I am always excited when you post a new blog. It’s like getting a letter from a good friend!

  70. Irene Santillanes says:

    In the midst of all the Christmas Must Do’s, it so refreshing to sit and rest awhile on your blog. All your pretties are like candy to the eyes. Thanks for sharing and always being there.

  71. Carol says:

    The teaset is marvelous! You have such wonderful luck at finding great and wonderful things!

  72. Kristen Price says:

    Hi Susan ~ I love to read all about your adventures and especially when you cook & bake. The tea set is lovely.
    Merry Christmas from southern Arizona :)
    Kristen

  73. Cris says:

    Man. Thought this posted. Thanks for your recent book. I needed a distraction and got one. Lovely. Stunning. Perfect.

  74. Terry says:

    So glad my girlfriend turned me onto your blog! You are wonderful! There is nothing like girlfriends! Purchased a signed book of yours for both of us and we love it! Going to make the lavender polenta cake soon!!!! Keep up the great work – you are an inspiration to so many! Merry Christmas Susan, Joe and all!!!!

  75. Lori in Tucson says:

    We rarely get snow, we don’t have cardinals outside the kitchen window or a glowing fireplace with a crackling fire. In Arizona we create the seasons (except for summer). So to get my Merry mojo on I start the Holiday by reading your Christmas book. It stirs the Christmas spirit and fills my heart with JOY!

  76. Laurie I says:

    I saw a wonderful advertisement for your newest book, A Fine Romance, while reading Victoria magazine. It looks so lovely I just have to get it!! My dream is to go to England in 2014 to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. I picture myself with my husband sipping tea outside of a quaint little thatched roof cottage while looking out over the beautiful countryside. It would be great if I was reading A Fine Romance while doing it!!

  77. Kathleen Hirst-Avon, New York says:

    Hi Susan, the other day I visited an antique store in Lima, NY. Low and behold as I was passing by one of the shelves with nick nakes I spotted a Beatrix Potter figurine “Tom Kitten”. He was sitting all alone amongst a lot of teacups and vases. I picked him up and immediately bought him. Do you have a Tom Kitten? This is the first Beatrix Potter I have bought, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
    Hope you and Joe and Girl kitty and Jack have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. I love that tea set. It is so pretty!

  78. Kimberly says:

    Merry Christmas Susan!!

  79. Barbara O'Hearn says:

    Hi Susan

    I so enjoy your website! Thank you for that. I so enjoy the read. It makes my heart sing as I read your blog and I do enjoy the pictures you post.
    I also recently bought your “A Fine Romance” which I just love so much. I have just started to read it. Sometimes I turn the pages before I read them as I want to know what is around the corner.
    As I read your blog I gasped, as I saw the gorgeous tea set that someone will win. My dad was British and my mom had some English blood so I understand your love for England. Beatrix Potter is also someone I love.
    I wish you and Joe a wonderful “Merry Christmas” and all the very best in the New Year.
    Thank you.
    Take good care..
    Barbara O’Hearn

  80. Carol A Burch says:

    Dishes are my fav too. I seem to have inherited this love from my grandmother. I remember when I was 5 yrs old we went antiquing and she bought me a Robinson Crusoe plate. I still have it. I decorate my walls with plates and have several sets of dishes; I just can’t help myself. Your dishes are lovely and I do so enjoy your blog. For a lonely old widow, it certainly brightens my day. Christmas Eve, 2013 Merry Christmas!

  81. Pam S. (from NE Ohio) says:

    Merry Christmas to you, Susan and your loved ones (Joe, Girl Kitty and sweet mustached-faced Jack)! Thank you so much for your beautiful books, blog and all that you do! I discovered your book “Vineyard Seasons” as a newly divorced young mom. It brought me much joy and comfort at a very sad time. Just started reading your blog a couple of months ago and it has been like reconnecting with an old friend! The dish set is lovely (I, too, have an addiction to dishes and glassware). Have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

  82. Linda sue says:

    A charming amalgam of all things I love…antiques,cooking,home,cats,
    travel,anything English,French. Such a comfort to share.

  83. Renee Shoup says:

    I recently received your new book, A Fine Romance, from a dear friend of mine at a Christmas get together. Despite the hustle and bustle of the season, I finished it yesterday. I didn’t want to stop reading! I followed your suggestion and made the hot Milk Cake for another gathering of loved ones. Everyone enjoyed it! Joyful Noel and happy Merry Christmas to all!

  84. Lynn Neagley says:

    What a gift on Christmas Eve to read your blog and see the photos of cardinals in the snow! Good for the heart and soul-wherever you are!
    Merry Christmas and thank YOU!

  85. Donna Hardin says:

    Wanted something extra to give to hubby for Christmas…remembered your banana cream pie….just finishing it up….looks great and I did sample cream…yum! Thank you! Merry Christmas to our East Coast friends!

  86. Ann says:

    I must say, Susan Branch, I purchased one of your Christmas books (loved it) recently at an antique shop…….googled your name and found this blog……it made me cry – happy tears – because you are all that I am (or want to be)! I love, love, love everything you’ve written! The cardinals, the recipes, the stove, the crackling fire, the friends……I’m so glad to meet you (even if it’s only in your blog!) Please keep me with your list of “friends”…….gingerly, Ann Koerber

  87. Becky Hippensteel says:

    Your website/blog is one of a kind~! I always feel so warm and cozy when I read and look at the pictures you’ve posted. I get ideas too for my own home whether it’s for birthday’s or the holidays. I just wanted to thank you for sharing so much with us/me~! I look forward to your e-mails. They put a smile on my face. Makes life is little easier … simpler~! I hope you had a memorable Christmas and a Happy New Year~!! Looking forward to what’s to come~! Merrily we go along, Becky

  88. I haven’t heard of About Time, but if you like it, odds are, I WILL TOO :)

    SORRY i’m on the kids Wii U and not used to the typing yet.

    oh! downton! i so can’t wait to see the Christmas special!!! and love that you love it too :)

    Anne was right…Kindred Spirits aren’t as hard to find…or something like that :)

    I loved your interview, Susan! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    You know what book i’d love you to do next? one just for winter… to take the after Christmas blahs away. i love to put strings of lights inside the windows and let their soft glow calm the wintery evenings. and keep the lights soft, too. i’d love your ideas and am sure there would be enough to fill a book. recipes, of course ;)

    thanks for the post!
    love
    Denise of I ngleside, P.E.I.

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